Monday, December 31, 2007

Books - Best of 2007

My Best of Books 2006 edition was [surprisingly] comprised entirely of author's who I'd never read previously. Interestingly enough three of them have made it to this year's list! So without further adu... my Best of Books 2007 edition:

5] (Tie) The Terror by Dan Simmons is a novelization of the true doomed 1840s Franklin expedition to find a Northwest passage. History tells us there were no survivors and the men died from exposure, starvation and worse. Simmons' story combines all of the interesting historical details and adds a new menace, a creature which feeds on men. The Terror was a national best seller. Stephen King listed it as one of his favorite books of the year. Who am I to argue with Stephen King?

5] (tie) No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. You know how much I loved the book and movie. If you haven't read it [or seen it], you should.

4] Duane Swiercznski jumped to my "must read" list with his very hip, very cool novel The Wheelman. Since then I've also read his Secret Dead Men and The Blonde. All of which get a thumbs up and The Blonde comes in at #4 on this year's best of list.

3] No Dominion by Charlie Huston. C'mon, it's Joe Pitt -- and Charlie Huston. Enough said.

2] The 47th Samurai by Stephen Hunter. I have to admit I was skeptical. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Stephen Hunter [especially his Earl Swagger novels], but this one takes place in Japan and had a different feel. I shouldn't have worried though. Hunter comes through with one of the best Swagger novels in years.

1] L.A. Rex by Will Beall. Beall is a real LA cop and LA Rex is his first novel. I hope that there are more to come because this tale of cops, gangbangers, drug dealers and the gritty life of those in South Central pulled me in and wouldn't let go. LA Rex is currently a bargain book purchase if you click HERE. You can get the hard cover for less than the price of a paperback... but supplies are limited.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

UFC 79 Results

UFC 79 Results:

Rich Clementi vs Melvin Guillard. I took Clementi because I felt that Guillard would crack under the pressure of a Clementi attack. Sure enough, with just seconds left in the first round, Guillard tapped.

Lyoto Machida vs Rameau Sokoudjou. I didn't know much about either but jumped on the Machida bandwagon upon seeing his record. Machida dominated and won via arm triangle in round two.

Eddie Sanchez vs Soa Palelei. Again, I didn't know much about the fighters, but since I was up 2-0 and my brother wanted Palelei, I went with Sanchez who won in less than spectacular fashion via a 3rd round stoppage.

Chuck Liddell vs Wanderlei Silva was a tough call. I figured one of these warriors would knock out the other -- the question was who would come out on top? One of the pre-fight segments showed the two facing off after the weigh-in. Silva suddenly jumped forward at Liddell... and... Liddell... did... not... flinch. That was enough for me -- I went with Liddell. Both fighters were in great shape and during the fight each rocked the other. Liddell won rounds one and three for sure and possibly even the second -- at least on my scorecard. [Yeah, I was surprised it went the distance]. The judges felt the same with two giving it to Liddell 30-27 and one giving it to Liddell 29-28. A good showing by both fighters insures more to come from each.

Georges St. Pierre vs Matt Hughes pitted two of my favorite fighters against each other. Another tough decision but in the end I went with St. Pierre. I made the right choice as he dominated Hughes, winning via verbal tapout in the second round.

A great night of fights was made even better by me going 5 - 0 in my selections. Now on to 2008!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Friday, December 28, 2007

UFC 79: Nemesis

Tomorrow night UFC 79 is on tap. Although there will be several fights, only two matter. Liddell vs Silva and Hughes vs St.-Pierre.

How can ya not go with Liddell? Maybe because he's lost his last two fights? I'm not sure who will win that one, but I'd bet a bunch that it doesn't go the distance.

Hughes vs St.-Pierre is the rubbermatch since each fighter has a victory over the other. I'm leaning towards St.-Pierre, but probably won't make a final decision until right before the fight.

So, any ZONErs inclined to make some predictions sooner?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Catching Up with Zorro

The new Zorro comic that Matt Wagner is heading up is coming along nicely. Francesco Francavilla has come on board as the artist. Francesco is an excellent choice due to his artistic talents coupled with his love of the character. Check out Matt Wagner's character designs for Zorro as well as his thoughts on the project by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Rollin' VIP

When my nephew [and Godson] asks for it. He gets it. ZONErs are rollin' VIP.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Magic of the Holidays

No, I'm not trying to be politically correct with the title of this post. It's just that I do love the magic of holidays... all holidays. Okay, maybe not Arbor Day, but all of the rest of the biggies. Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year's, Halloween... you get the idea.

Holidays are magical. Think about it -- name ANY major holiday and right away you get a sense of time and place and a feeling of what the holiday means. Holidays have the power to bring families together, to end feuds, stop wars [if only for a short period of time], and even get you the day off from work.

When I think about holidays, I think about family. Of course we get together for the major ones... Christmas, Thanksgiving... New Years Eve. There's always laughter and shared memories [and usually a few new memories created]. When my sons were younger we'd have their cousins over for fireworks on the fourth of July and New Years Eve. They've all outgrown that now. Funny, but I haven't.

When my sons were much younger you didn't have to look very hard to see the magic in their eyes when they'd see Santa around town leading up to the big night. Sometimes they'd say it was the real Santa and other times they'd know it was just one of his helpers. They knew because of the "magic" they felt in the presence of the true St. Nick.

I still feel that magic when I'm with my family. I hope that you feel it too as you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Festivus or Tuesday.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Organization Ideas, Anyone?

Seems America is on the de-clutter bandwagon. Everyone is trying to clean and organize. Who wants a cluttered work space or a messy house? Not me. Not George Carlin.

So I've been watching Clean House. I read how Jeff Parker took care of his CD clutter. I saw how Big John Beatty took a cue from Hydro74 to clean and organize his office. And now I've got the bug and I've got it bad. Ain't no easy cure. I know I'm going to have to get down and dirty... and purge, re-think and re-organize.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to follow Parker's lead and get rid of the CD jewel cases and go with binders. I'm even considering doing something like this for storage of my dvd collection. But then I thought, I'll bet some of the ZONErs have unique dvd storage ideas. If you do, please send them my way. [And don't worry about cluttering up my in-box.]

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Why Don't You Just Start With Me?

What do you say to two days in a row of Hellboy posts that include the new trailer? Simple, just say, "Thanks."

[And thanks to ZONEr regular, Joey for the tip!]

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New Hellboy Pics! has scored three very cool photos from Hellboy II: The Golden Army. So what are ya waiting for? Head HERE now!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Why So Serious?

I'm a huge Batman fan. And while I don't like every comic or movie version ever made of The Dark Knight, when creators get him right there's hardly any character better. I haven't seen a Batman movie yet that really nails it, but this one may come closest.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

No Country for Old Men

"No Country for Old Men" brought to the screen by co-writers and co-directors Joel and Ethan Cohen is being talked up for all kinds of awards. After seeing it today, I'd say it's going to win a bunch. Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy and boasting a flawless cast that includes Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Woody Harrelson and Kelly MacDonald, this could be THE film to beat come award season.

The Good: not going Hollywood and changing the story; Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Woody Harrelson and Kelly MacDonald are perfectly cast; the scene where Chigurh
brings the cuffs to the front, strangles the deputy and then calmly cleans his wrists; when Moss stumbles on the drug-deal-gone-bad aftermath; when Chigurh makes the old man "call it"; Moss barely escaping into the river and then coming out to calmly prepare for the "next attack" which is barreling at him; Moss' dialogue with his wife and later Carson Wells; Sherriff Bell's dialogue with everyone; the pacing; when Chigurh appears behind Carson Wells on the steps; Woody Harrelson's scene with Bardem; the direction.

The Bad: Anton Chigurh. Nothing else comes close to being "The Bad."

The Ugly: Doctoring your own gunshot wound; and when you hear "there's a bone sticking out of your arm."

If you haven't yet, you should read the book and then see the movie. That way, come Oscars you'll be ahead of the curve.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The "I am Legend" Legacy

I saw "I am Legend" at the first showing today in a packed theater. After seeing the CGI "vampires" [although they are never called that in the movie] in this trailer, I must admit I went in with a bit of trepidation. But, because the Richard Matheson novel is so strong, and because the previous two movies [The Last Man on Earth and The Omega Man] based on the same novel worked on their own levels, I felt that Will Smith and crew could pull off a worthy addition to the "I am Legend" legacy. So did he? Let's take a look:

The Good: The concept; Will Smith as Robert Neville, Sam; how the virus is created; taking the time needed to show Neville's isolation; Neville going in to save Sam; stumbling on the standing/sleeping "vampires"; snaring a vampire / being snared; Sam saving Neville; how the final scene tied into the title.

The Bad: Most complaints that I've read about the movie are gripes about the shift once the woman and her son arrive. While it's true that the feel of the movie changes, I think that it works because we now see just how much Neville has lost touch with reality. Pretty bold move if you ask me. Some of the CGI effects.

The Ugly: The vampires.

All-in-all I really enjoyed the movie much more than I thought I would going in. It not only will find a place in my dvd library, but adds nicely to the "I am Legend" legacy.

Friday, December 14, 2007

We're All Fans

Duane Swierczynski is one of my favorite novelists. Recently Duane got the opportunity to write some comics... specifically the Punisher. In this interview he talks about his first experience with the Punisher:

"It was Steve Grant’s Circle of Blood epic from 1985, which opens with Frank in the slammer, squaring off against Jigsaw and his goons, and ends with a punch in the gut right out of a Mickey Spillane novel. I don’t want to ruin it for you if you’ve never read it, but man. That Jeep. Perched on the side of the bridge. In the rain. It doesn’t get any more noir than that."

Most ZONErs probably know that my buddies, Mike Zeck and John Beatty were the artists on Circle of Blood. So one of my favorite novelists is a not only a fan of comic books but also of two of my buddies. Stuff like that is cool.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Proof is Free

Proof, the new comic series by Alex Grecian and Riley Rossmo looked to be a lot of fun. I bought the first issue and really enjoyed it. And it looks like the rest of the series will be just as cool.

What's that you say? You missed the first issue? No problem, since you can click HERE and read it for free. Be careful though, because it may make you want to run out and buy future issues.

Cool Criminal

You've heard me talk about how much I'm digging Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips work on their award-winning Criminal. Check out this interview with Brubaker and you'll get a glimpse of more cool things in store for Criminal readers.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Don't Be Silly Indiana Jones

I guess that it would be just plain silly to be the only blog in the universe that didn't post something about the new Indiana Jones poster. Okay, since you know I don't want to be silly, HERE is a link to a huge version of it. Seriously.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Feeling The Happening

I loved the Sixth Sense. I liked Unbreakable. I nearly loved Signs. I liked The Village. I really liked Lady in the Water. I wonder how I'm going to feel about The Happening.

Click HERE to see the full poster.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Wanna Hear a Joke?

Here's three...

1] A guy shows up late for work. The boss yells "You should have been here at 8:30!" he replies: "Why? What happened at 8:30?"

2] Two cannibals are eating a clown. One cannibal turns to the other and asks, "This taste funny to you?"

And finally...

3] A man placed some flowers on the grave of his dearly departed mother and started back toward his car when his attention was diverted to another man kneeling at a grave.

The man seemed to be praying with profound intensity and kept repeating, "Why did you have to die? Why did you have to die? Why did you have to die?"

The first man approached him and said, "Sir, I don't wish to interfere with your private grief, but this demonstration of pain is more than I've ever seen before. For whom do you mourn so deeply? A child? A parent?"

The mourner took a moment to collect himself, then replied, "My wife's first husband."


OK... let's hear yours.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Man Law for Clean House?

This post will probably surprise many ZONErs who swing by here to read the latest manly post about movies [action, crime, horror], novels [tough guy authors like Huston, Vachss, Morrell], comic books [Sin City, Walking Dead, 100 Bullets] or sports [da Bears, UFC]. You see, I've been hooked on a tv show that I just discovered. It's called Clean House.

Yeah, Clean House. It's not about a bar-room brawler, or a mafia hitman. No... it's about a team of "experts" that go into a house that's cluttered beyond belief and whip it back into shape. They weed out stuff to sell, give away and even a few things to keep. They hold a yard sale and then take the money raised [plus a thousand bucks kicked in by the show] and redo several rooms in the house [while the home owners are sent away for the night]. The show concludes with the big reveal: we and the homeowners get to see what the Clean House experts have done. Usually the new digs are really cool.

I've been DVRing the episodes and watching a couple a night. I can get through them pretty quickly and they are giving me some ideas about things to do around the Zablo estate. So, can we get a Man Law passed that Clean House is okay to watch?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Batman: This & That

About the new Batman movie: I don't really care for the look of this, but I really liked the sound of that.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Remember Hellboy?

The Hellboy II movie website has been plugging along and adding concept art, video updates, first looks at the major characters and more. So why haven't I been talking it up? I don't know I guess I just forgot.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Comic Artists and Professional Wrestlers

Next Sunday, December 9th, my buddy John Beatty will be one of the guests at the Epic Comic Con in Orlando, Florida. He'll be there along with a bunch of comic book artists, professional wrestlers as well as a couple of actors and authors. Talk about an interesting mix!

John will be sketching and signing autographs. I'll be there hanging out as well. If you're in the area, plan to drop on by!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Just Mist

Going in, "The Mist" had almost all indications that it was going to be awesome. Frank Darabont ["The Shawshank Redemption" "The Green Mile"] had written the screenplay and directed Stephen King's novella of the same name. It was Darabont's dream project and one of King's most popular stories. The movie was well cast and early word was positive.

The Good: the story - a mysterious mist containing creatures rolls in to a small town forcing a variety of characters to take refuge in a supermarket; the interplay of the people as they slowly learn what is going on; the ending [which is different than King's novella -- and no, I'm not giving away either]; the meek store clerk, Marcia Gay Harden in her role as Mrs. Carmody.

The Bad: some of the CGI creatures; what happens to some of the characters; the ending [yeah, I know, I listed it under the good as well... more on that in a second]; Ms. Carmody.

The Ugly: what happens to some of the characters and the ending [more in a sec].

As you probably guessed the ending really has an impact. Although different than the novella's [and praised by Stephen King], it just wasn't the ending that I wanted. There's no doubt that it works on one level, and could be justified as logical -- but, and here's the big but, it could just as easily be argued that it wasn't logical and it doesn't work. I give credit to Darabont for having the courage to go with his vision and perhaps it will grow on me as time passes.

Although I'm glad that I saw "The Mist" it just missed getting a solid recommendation from me. It definitely has kept me thinking about it. And maybe that's the best recommendation a movie can get.