Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ultimate Fighting - Legitimate Sport or Guilty Pleasure?

One of the most popular topics on the ZONE and SZ Messageboards is Ultimate Fighting. I've become a fan despite the fact that I refused to watch the stuff for years.

It wasn't until I started tuning in to The Ultimate Fighter [season one] that I came to realize that the majority of these fighters are trained martial artists [wrestling, judo, boxing, etc.] and not just a bunch of knuckleheads who love to fight. Don't get me wrong, they DO love to fight, but most have skills and love to test theirs.

Another reason that I avoided watching UFC fights is that I didn't want to see people getting their bones broken or worse in an "athletic" event. And while it is true that many fights do end up with one or both contestants bleeding, and it isn't unheard of for a knockout to occur; these injuries are similar to what one could get in a boxing match. Sure, I understand that UFC fights do sometimes end with broken bones, but that is pretty rare. My guess is that more bones get broken in football games than UFC matches.

Still, there are times that I feel that watching a UFC fight is something of a guilty pleasure. I wouldn't want to see two guys brawling on the street and yet I find myself watching The Ultimate Fighter and UFC Unleashed every week.

I guess I'll ponder this a bit more during commercials. The Ultimate Fighter is coming on SPIKE TV now...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"Jazzman" Does It All

Ernest "Jazzman" Resendes is something of a throwback. He's a talented artist, musician, actor, director... and a heck of a nice guy on top of everything else. Jazz still has that childlike wonder about the world, no, make that the universe. He's constantly branching out and using his talents on various projects.

Want to see what Jazz has been up to? Then check out his site, you're sure to find something that appeals to you!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Collector's Comics -- Full Report

As I told you in an earlier post, this past weekend John "Johnny Star Warz" Higashi, and I drove down to Fort Pierce with "Big" John Beatty who was making an appearance at Keith and Monica Mallow's Collector's Comics shop. [That's Keith and Monica pictured below. ]

Beatty and I have known Keith for about 20 years, so we were both looking forward to catching up with him. He's a pretty funny guy [maybe not as funny as he thinks he is, but he still has a pretty good batting average for humor]. We knew it would be a fun day.

Keith had advertised for weeks that Beatty would be at the shop signing autographs and sketching for fans. You can even see that Keith spared no expense with the sign to welcome John to his store.

A steady stream of fans joined those who had been waiting for Big John's arrival. Most wanted to get an autograph or sketch, but a few artists showed up so that John could offer advice on their work. You can see the look of joy on the little guy's face in the picture above. Of course the pic was snapped right before Keith tried to bogart the kid's sketch. Luckily the little feller's dad set Keith straight and he returned the drawing straight away.

Big Beatty sketched throughout the day. Every sketch was a winner from his billionth drawing of the Punisher to his first attempt at Captain Marvel.

As the minutes turned into hours, Beatty continued to autograph and sketch for fans. Monica sensed that Big John was starting to fade, so she offered up one of her famous massages. [Personally, I think that Big John was faking it in order to get a backrub!]

Never one to be left out, John Higashi put down the manuscript that he was working on in order to get a massage of his own! As for me, well...

When six o'clock rolled around it was time to go. Everyone was having such a blast that Keith offered to take us out to dinner [again] and put us up for another night. Unforutnately, we had planned to get back home [and I really needed to]. Keith attempted to bribe us not only with another meal, another night in the hotel, but even tempted us with a poker game!

Next time, Keith! Next time!

If you're in the area of Fort Pierce, Florida, check out Collector's Comics. Tell Keith and Monica I sent you. Who knows, you may even luck out and get a massage in addition to some great deals on comics!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Third Time a Charm for Shamrock?

On October 10th, Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz will meet in the octagon for the third time. Despite the fact that Ortiz has won both previous fights, there has always been enough "controversy" to bring the two [and fans around the world] back for a rematch. That and the fact that Shamrock and Ortiz have a REAL dislike for each other.

This time the fight will be televised on SPIKE tv for free. My guess is that the third time won't be a charm for Shamrock. I look for Ortiz to win... but there is a chance that Shamrock could pull off the upset.

Which of course would pave the way for another rematch.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Way of The James

Regular ZONE readers will recognize that the picture above features James "The James" Howell, yours truly and John "Big" Beatty. ZONErs will also be happy to hear that "The James" has finally started his own blog, "Way of the James."

Anyone who says, "if you took Athos, Keyser Souze, Snake Plissken, Zatoichi, Bill, Miyamoto Musashi, Josey Wales, Roland of Gilead, Odysseus, Tom Ripley, Bruce Campbell, and Gene Wilder...blended them together with an obsession for all things Batman -- you'd get me" is worth a read.

And I'd say that even if I didn't give "The James" his name.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Collector's Comics -- Update

It's about 3:45 and the John Beatty show is still rolling on at Keith Mallow's Collector's Comics in Fort Pierce. [How's that for another plug, Keith?]

Fans have been keeping Big John pretty busy signing autographs and sketching. John's done some nice Captain America, Punisher and Batman sketches. He's currently working on a Captain Marvel [Shazam] sketch.

We'll be here until about 6pm, so if you're in the area, swing on it!

Live Blogging from Collector's Comics

So here I am "live blogging" from Keith Mallow's "Collector's Comics" in Fort Pierce, Florida!

Keith invited my good buddy, John Beatty, to come down to his shop to sign and sketch for fans. Beattty asked John Higashi and I to make the trip -- and how could we refuse? We're always up for a trip, and Boy! is Keith Mallow a trip.

Keith is actually a pretty funny guy -- and I'm not just talking about his looks. Ok, ok, all kidding aside. Keith has a really nice comic shop that carries action figures, statues, dvds, trade paperbacks and, oh yeah, comics. When I found out that the shop also had a wireless internet connection I decided to give "live blogging" a try. If you're reading this, I was successful and we'll have more updates as the day continues.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Vampires, Anyone?

I've been into vampires lately. Remember back here when I told you about the new Blade comic series that Howard Chaykin was going to draw? Well, you can read more about it here.

I'm currently reading Underland by Mick Farren. It's got modern day vampires, as well as modern day nazis, conspiracy theories, UFO's and more. I'm digging it and am only about 1/2 way through.

Before Underland I read Already Dead by Charlie Huston. Huston has quickly become one of my favorite writers. Already Dead also features a modern day vampire, uh vampyre. As much as I'm enjoying Underland, Already Dead is even better. It combines The Godfather, Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane and the end result is pure Charlie Huston. I highly recommend this one!

Okay... enough about me and vampires. I'd write more but I'm off to watch the latest episode of Blade.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Survivor: Race to the Finish

This season on Survivor contestants will be divided into four tribes by ethnicity [blacks, whites, Latinos and Asians].

Does anyone really think that this is a good idea?

On one hand, it does add a twist to the series which has teamed men against women, and young against "old." One the other mit, I know what the reaction would be if making up teams along racial lines was done in professional or amateur sports or even other game shows. Insert your own jokes here.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Prison Break Premiere

I just finished watching the season two premiere of "Prison Break." It's no secret that the first season dealt with a goup of convicts who despite their differences banded together to plan an escape from prison. Each episode focused on several characters and most commercial breaks would end with a cliffhanger leaving us on the edge of our seats. This combination of characters and pacing made for a fun ride. Naturally, season one ended with the escape. My fear was that once they made it out of prison, the series might lose the feel that made it so enjoyable. So I anticipated the new season with mixed emotions.

After watching tonight's premiere I'm happy to report that not only were they able to keep the feel of the first season, but they had the cajones to kill off a major character! If tonight's episode is an indication of what season two has in store, we're in for another great ride!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Back Home from Tampa Con

Well, I'm home from Tampa. Although it was a quick trip, and I didn't get much sleep; I did get to accomplish my major objectives of assisting Bill Black with filming some scenes for two movies he's currently shooting and seeing my old buddy, Jim Ivey.

That's Brenna Barry, star of Bill Black's Gargantarama, and Jim Ivey [looking pretty content at 81] in today's header photo. I'll tell show and tell you more about the trip later this week. You'll also get to see some cool reports over at John Beatty's Blog. As for now, I need a rest!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Tampa Con, Here We Come!

In just a couple of hours I'll be heading down to Tim Gordon's Tampa Comic Book and Toy Convention. Tim holds the show three times a year and it's always a fun time. Although the show is on Sunday, "Big" John Beatty, "Johnny Star-Warz" Higashi, "The James" Howell and I go down the night before. It's always a blast with these guys and the convention is like an added bonus.

This trip could turn out to be even more fun than most since our buddy, "Wild Bill" Black is going to film some scenes for one of his movies. Bill is a guest at the show and decided that while he was in Tampa he could combine work with pleasure [or in Bill's case pleasure with pleasure]. He's even enlisted "The James" to play the role of a 70's lounge singer who gets attacked by a vampire!

Then tomorrow we'll head to the show. It's got a pretty impressive guest list for a small one day convention. There will also be a costume contest, door prizes and a film room. I'm really looking forward to seeing an old [as in longtime, not because he's 81] friend of mine, Jim Ivey.

If you're within driving distance of Tampa, come on over and join us. If you want to hook up with our group, more than likely I'll be wearing a StalloneZone shirt, or just look for a 70's lounge singer who was bitten by a vampire.

Friday, August 18, 2006

300 Test Screeners Love It!

It's seems like I've been talking up "300" forever. By now you know that Zack Snyder is directing the adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel. Surely you know just how hard I think the movie is going to rock.

Over at Ain't It Cool News they're starting to post reviews from folks lucky enough to attend a test screening. Seems everyone likes it... a lot.

Now if the release date would just get here so we could see it!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Art of Making 300

Long time ZONErs know that I can't wait to see the big screen adaptaion of Frank Miller's 300.

Zack Snyder, the film's director, has done an amazing job of bringing Miller's vision to life.

Now, in addition to the movie, we have an art book on the making of 300 to look forward to.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sketch Society a Success

Big John Beatty's Sketch Society had their first meeting last night and it was lot of fun! John had e-mailed out invites and posted flyers, but wasn't sure how the turnout would be. He shouldn't have worried.

Robert Smith [red shirt] drove in from Ocala. Jesse and his crew came down from St. Augustine and arrived at the Daytona Beach Barnes & Noble before John - who was an hour early!

Jeff Whiting and his lady friend dropped in. Although they both had sketch books and Jeff was drawing in his, if you can make out the title of the book she was reading, you can see she seemed to be more interested in drawing to a full house!

Ralph is a local artist who dropped in. It was my first time meeting him. Not only was he having a great time sketching but he also served as the pitch man for Fiji water. He did his job well, and I ended up buying a bottle just to try it out. It was okay, but not as good as the packaging [or Ralph] would suggest.

It was really great catching up with everyone. I've known Rob for about 30 years [whew - can we really be that old?] and we ended up talking about novels, movies, comic shows, and so much more. Rob is a great guy and I'm really glad he was able to make it.

It was a blast seeing Jesse "Cadre" Hansen and his crew [Chris and Jason]. Jesse loves comics and his passion is contagious. [Although he appears to be getting a little too friendly in the picture above. Footsies anyone?]

Big John made the rounds making sure to thank everyone for coming. He also snapped up some photos for his blog.

Everyone was having a blast sketching and socializing. At about 10pm Big John started giving off a white light glow. Although it was probably one too many Moca-Carmel-Soy-Lattes with with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles, we decided to not take achance and instead call it a night. Still, everyone agreed that they would be back the next time John called another informal meeting of the Sketch Society!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Craig Hamilton Gets Carter

I can't tell you how excited I was to get this piece from Craig Hamilton. Craig is a true "artist's artist." I had the pleasure of spending most of a Heroes Con two years ago seated next to Craig as he was sketching and interacting with fans. It's always cool when someone whose art you admire turns out to be as nice as the work they produce.

Craig did this reflective shot of Sly from "Get Carter." You can see it here. Comments are always appreciated.

You can see more of Craig's work here.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Winning By Losing

Anyone watching VH1's Celebrity Fit Club 4? I caught the first episode [after watching seasons 2 and 3] last night.

In case you haven't heard of it, Celebrity Fit Club follows eight B and C list "celebrities" as they try to loose weight by dieting, exercise and friendly competitions. No one gets voted off the show, the competitions aren't that dramatic [or competitive], and the prizes are usually things like weekends at a spa or exercise equipment. I usually tune out before the conclusion of each episode when they all get on a giant scale to see which team lost the most weight. The reason that I fade before the show does is that the giant scale weigh-in of all cast memebers is anti-climatic. We already know which team lost the most weight.

So... if the celebs aren't that famous, the competitions aren't all that competitive, the prizes aren't all that grand and the conclusion of each show is anti-climatic, you're probably wondering why I tune in.

I guess it's because I know how hard it can be for many [most] folks to loose weight. I find myself pulling for most of them to loose enough weight to reach their goals... and maybe win that weekend at the spa.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Snake Plissken Trifecta?

Several websites [here, here, and even here at the ZONE] have picked up a rumor originally posted at from an anonymous source who says that:

"A major meeting was held at Paramount last week with both John Carpenter and Kurt Russell in attendance. The topic -- preparing for a third entry in the Snake Plissken chronicles entitled "Escape from Earth."

I find it interesting that this unconfirmed rumor is getting so much attention. It could be because:
[1] the rumor is true.
[2] people really love the character of Snake Plissken THAT much.

If the rumor is getting this much attention only for the second reason, then Paramount should reconsider the first.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

"The Marine"

Have you seen the trailer for "The Marine" yet? If not, give it a look. I'll be here when you get back.

Ok. What'd you think?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Sketch Society

My buddy, John Beatty is planning the first [of what he hopes will be a monthly] meeting of folks who like to sketch/draw and socialize. John's calling the informal gathering Sketch Society and it looks like the first turnout will be pretty good. Of course we're going to have local artists [and please note you do NOT have to be a professional artist to attend] and even some out of towners as well.

If you're within driving distance of Daytona Beach, Florida and this sounds like something that you'd be interested in, then click here. The first meeting will be next Saturday at Barnes & Noble.

Mel Gibson: Deserving of Forgiveness?

A week ago Mel Gibson was one of the most popular actors and directors in the world. Now many folks are saying that Gibson's career is over. Others aren't so sure. I tend to believe that he will come out of this ok.

Sure, his star will never shine as brightly. Some folks will completely turn their backs on him [showing the same kind of intolerance that Gibson did during his drunken rants]. Still, I believe that most people are forgiving to those who deserve forgiveness, and Gibson seems sincere in his efforts to earn his.

Here is a statement Gibson released earlier this week:

"There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark. I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI charge.

I am a public person, and when I say something, either articulated and thought out, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight in the public arena. As a result, I must assume personal responsibility for my words and apologize directly to those who have been hurt and offended by those words.

The tenets of what I profess to believe necessitate that I exercise charity and tolerance as a way of life. Every human being is God's child, and if I wish to honor my God I have to honor his children. But please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith.

I'm not just asking for forgiveness. I would like to take it one step further, and meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one on one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing.

I have begun an ongoing program of recovery and what I am now realizing is that I cannot do it alone. I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display, and I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery. Again, I am reaching out to the Jewish community for its help. I know there will be many in that community who will want nothing to do with me, and that would be understandable. But I pray that that door is not forever closed.

This is not about a film. Nor is it about artistic license. This is about real life and recognizing the consequences hurtful words can have. Its about existing in harmony in a world that seems to have gone mad."

Mel Gibson has struggled with alcoholism for years. Does that excuse his behavior? Of course not. Gibson has admitted his problems and has asked for help in his road to recovery not only from the bottle, but also from whatever demons caused his narrow-minded anti-semitic outbursts. Gibson has even appealed to Jewish leaders across the country to meet with him so he can begin his healing.

While I have no tolerance for bigots, I have even less for those who drink and drive. Still, I believe in redemption and forgiveness for those who deserve it. Time will tell if Mel Gibson does.