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Media Roundup
Bar Harbor
Last weekend, I came across Tremors while channel-surfing. Never saw it before, and had heard good things about it, so I watched it. It was pretty neat. Not "Great Art", but a fine example of its genre. Would have made a good Kitchencon movie.

The characters, while stereotyped, were not one-dimensional. Moreover, they were all reasonably intelligent, and none of them decided to turn Eeeevil. Because of this, roughly half the human cast actually *survives* the movie, which is an unusually high ratio for this genre. And most of the early fatalities came from people whose only mistake was in not yet realizing that they are in a Monster Movie (knowing your genre is *so* important). Once the survivors realize the trouble they're in, they begin acting accordingly, and very few of them die after that.

The monsters, while not remotely *plausible*, were consistent in their behavior. And, as a bonus, it was -- technically, at least -- possible to kill them with conventional weapons. Mind you, it took a *lot* of conventional firepower, so they were still a formidable threat. But the writers never resorted to "They can be killed by common tapwater!" or similar copout weaknesses.

It reminded me of something james_nicoll said that he wanted to see more of in stories (paraphrasing here): "Competent characters acting competently to deal with a problem." Recommended.

Have started watching the Muppet Show Season 1 DVDs. There's a semi-nifty optional subtitle track called "Muppet Morsels" that supplies occasionally interesting trivia while the episode plays. Unfortunately, I didn't realize this until after I'd watched Disc 1, so didn't actually turn it on until Disc 2.

Much of the classic show is there from the start. Fozzy and Piggy each have voices that don't completely gel until several episodes in, but their personalities are apparent from the start. Much of what was featured on the classis Muppet Show record shows up in the first few episodes, including "Mahna Mahna" in episode 1. Dr. Bunsen Honeydew shows up on disc 2, but no Beaker until next season. Veterenarian's Hospital is there from the start, as is the "Ballroom" sketch. Scooter is present from the first episode -- which is actually a little odd, since he shows up "for the first time" in episode 6, and clearly no one has met him yet. Statler and Waldorf heckle Fozzy mercilessly, and cap off the end credits. Gonzo is Gonzo, right from the start, though his chicken obsession hasn't shown up yet.

Contrariwise, there are lots of regular bits in the early eps that I'm pretty sure didn't make it into the later seasons. Most eps have a "panel discussion", featuring Kermit, the guest, and 3 other muppets, which invariably degenerates from the alleged topic within seconds. Kermit always has an on-stage conversation with the guest star, and, if she's a pretty lady, he flirts shamelessly with her! (The word 'pretty' is required here: Ruth Buzzi did *not* get flirted with.) There's a weird blackout sketch involving talking houses. A few of the early guests got given Muppet-versions of themselves at the end of the show, but they stopped doing this pretty early. George the Janitor and Hilda the Seamstress are major characters in season 1, but they don't really have staying power.

A word of caution: This set is missing several musical numbers, on account of problems securing the rights. So if you're ultra-completist, you may want to hold on to some of the earlier releases of some episodes. But this set still has much material that has never been released before, and is a must-have for any serious Muppet fan.

Oh, and after watching several episodes in a row, kestrell managed to fry my brain with one simple question: "I wonder how Fozzy would tell The Aristocrats?"

It being the first non-rainy day in what seems like forever, I went to pick up comics. It seems like my prediction that pamphlet-format comics were being supplanted by books-format is coming true, at least for me personally. For a while now, books have been predominating by weight in my purchases, but this time (2-3 weeks worth) they predominated by sheer *number* as well.

As jducouer has mentioned, there sure are a lot of Oz-related comics out there now. It's a crying shame that none of them is Oz Squad...

While Steve was ringing up my purchases, I noticed a promo poster on the wall for "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1". This is the new, Peter David written Spidey book, that has the editorial/marketing mandate to be accessible to new readers. Well, it *had* that mandate at some point in pre-production. But now, Issue #1 of this brand new book is *also* part 1 of a major 12-part crossover event. Issues 2 and 3 will also be part of this event, and not written by Peter David. This is what they call a new-reader-friendly launch? Most comic companies shoot themselves in the foot from time to time, but only Marvel seems to regularly use double-barrelled shotguns when doing so.

I mentioned my general disgust with this to Steve, and he pointed out that on page 2 of issue 1, Mary Jane gives Peter a blowjob. "Friendly" neighborhood, indeed! Looking at the actual artwork (all very tasteful, in silhouette), I'm not convinced that it was *meant* to read as a blowjob, though it clearly was meant to read as 'having sex' of some sort. Apparently some retailers Down South are up in arms over this, and are bagging the issue in plastic and not selling it to kids. After all, how scarring might it be to a child to suggest that married adults might be having sex (in their own bedroom, with the lights out)...
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Friendly neighborhood spider blowjob

Don't forget that oral sex counts as sodomy in some jurisdictions.

Thanks for the muppet review. I wonder if I care about the musical numbers which might be missing.... Will have to ponder.

Re: Friendly neighborhood spider blowjob

Details on the music cuts (and more) for the DVDs:

Re: Friendly neighborhood spider blowjob

Ooh, very useful! Thank you!

Re: Friendly neighborhood spider blowjob

Don't forget that oral sex counts as sodomy in some jurisdictions.

Not any more; the Supreme Court struck down those laws.

Re: Friendly neighborhood spider blowjob

Oh, right. Well, I'm sure it still counts as sodomy amongst some god-fearing parents.

One of my favorite things about Tremors is that there are about a dozen different theories as to what the monsters might be (prehistoric monsters disturbed by mining, ordinary critters mutated by nuclear tests in the 1950s, aliens... I don't remember the others) and we never get an answer to what they are. Just lovely.

Yes, I had meant to mention that as a positive point, and forgot to.

At work last year, we were working on a proposal for a zombie game, and one of the few things that got complete, immediate buy-in from the team was that there would be many theories about the origin of the zombie invasion, but we would never give a definiive answer.

There's a weird blackout sketch involving talking houses.

As a regular bit? The only one I can remember from the tapes we have is: "My son is very interested in medicine." "Oh! He's a doctor?" "No, a hospital."

I don't recall offhand if it was an "every episode" thing, but there were many of them. The tapes you have seriously under-represent season one.

It's a crying shame that none of them is Oz Squad...

No kidding -- the one really interesting Oz spinoff comic I know. Far as I can tell, no one since has managed to do anywhere near as good a job of trying to integrate Oz with the real world. (And several have tried.)

Issues 2 and 3 will also be part of this event, and not written by Peter David.

Well, true, but one of them will be written by JMS, so I'm cutting them a little slack there. In general, it's an interesting experiment, with each writer taking a "block" of what seems to be intended to be a cohesive story. It seems to be less a traditional crossover, and more like the way the Superman line went for several years: essentially a weekly comic that just happens to have separate titles involved.

But yes -- as a jumping-on point, it's kind of dumb. It simply emphasizes the "you have to read the entire line to know what's going on" syndrome...

but one of them will be written by JMS, so I'm cutting them a little slack there.

You're only encouraging them. I'm sticking to my hard line: NO CROSSOVERS. I'm not buying any of this, even if I do like half of the authors.

like the way the Superman line went for several years

I didn't approve of (or buy) those either.

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