Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tim Bradstreet Interview Concludes

Whoa! Some how I missed the fourth installment of Newsarama's interview with Tim Bradstreet. Have no fear, you can read it here along with the fifth and concluding segment.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paul Newman: RIP

As you must know by now, Paul Newman passed away late Friday. The world mourns not just for a great actor, a movie icon, but also a truly remarkable human being. He starred in over fifty feature films and quite often was the best part of the movie, irregardless of who else co-starred, wrote or directed. Mr. Newman was that good.

But Paul Newman was much more than a silver screen superstar. He was a man of character, not just a man who played characters. Paul Newman was a person who truly wanted to leave the world a better place because he passed through it. He created a foundation that has donated over 100 million dollars to charitable organizations. Mr. Newman was married to Joanne Woodward for fifty years. That's her pictured with Mr. Newman shortly after they were married in 1958. Perhaps George Clooney said it best: "He set the bar too high for the rest of us. Not just actors, but all of us."

I actually met Paul Newman. Well, maybe met is too strong a word... more like had an encounter with him. Let me explain. Some thirty years ago, when I was just getting out of high school, I worked at the Treasure Island Inn in Daytona Beach Shores, Florida. It was one of the better places to stay when in the Daytona Beach area. For that reason, we would get quite a few celebrities as our guests. Anyway, we received word that Paul Newman was going to be staying with us when he came in town for the races. We were all informed that he was NOT to be bothered in any way -- no autograph requests, no telling him how much we enjoyed his movies, no pointing him out as he came through the lobby [like that would be needed], etc.

Once Paul Newman arrived everyone, especially the ladies, wanted to catch a glimpse. Of course he was just there to sleep and spent most of his time at the track. So not many employees had seen him. Anyway, I had just taken a couple up to their room and got on the elevator to head back to the lobby. Instead of going down, it went up to the penthouse. The doors opened and in walked three guys and one of them was Paul Newman. I'm sure my face at least briefly allowed a look of surprise or at least realization that Cool Hand Luke aka Butch Cassidy aka Fast Eddie had entered the elevator with me. The doors closed and down we went. Being the good employee that I was, I knew that I was not going to speak to Mr. Newman, or tell him how much I enjoyed his movies, and of course I wouldn't yell out when the elevator doors opened, "Hey! Paul Newman is HERE!" No. I would just be quiet and not bother him.

As all of this crossed through my mind, Mr. Newman looked directly at me and said, "Good Morning." Houston, we have a problem. All employees had been directed not to speak to Mr. Newman -- they never said anything about if he spoke to us first. I responded with "Good morning." Mr. Newman then made a comment about the weather -- something to the effect of it looked to be a nice day. I was still reeling from the fact that I was in an elevator with Paul Newman but somehow came up with the intelligent response that it was a very nice day. One of the other two guys with Mr. Newman said something and then we were at the lobby. As the doors opened Mr. Newman made a point to tell me to have a good day -- and then the three of them were out of the elevator and literally off to the races.

Of course those working the front desk saw me come out of the elevator with Paul Newman. "Did you talk to him?" "What was it like?" "Are his eyes really that blue?" Thirty plus years later it still seems surreal. I think the fact that Mr. Newman took the time to speak to me, a high school kid working at a hotel, shows the kind of person he was. Sure, it was just small talk, but he could have easily ignored me all together. Instead, he took the time to acknowledge and even wish me a good day before walking away.

On that day in the elevator, I knew that I was in the presence of a great actor. Thirty plus years later, I know, more importantly that I was in the presence of a great man.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Newman's family, friends and fans.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Umbilical Brothers

I'd never heard of the Umbilical Brothers until I saw them in this video. It's not often you see acts that do something really different. The Umbilical Brothers do.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Now THAT'S the Spirit...

Wow. Hard to believe after all the, uh, not so great stuff we've seen, but this trailer for Frank Miller's movie adaptation of Will Eisner's The Spirit actually looks viewable. I still have no illusions that it will be on par with Sin City or 300, but it now looks MUCH better than other trailers and clips have presented it.

So, that begs the question: Is this just a well cut trailer hiding a really bad film?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Charlie Adlard: Welcome to the Net

Charlie Adlard, the artist on my favorite monthly comic, The Walking Dead, has jumped feet first into the 21st century and set up his own website!

Tim Bradstreet, Part III

If you've been following along with part one and part two of Newsarama.com's interview with Tim Bradstreet, then here's part three [it even has a couple of images from Archetype!]

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Quantum of So-So

ComingSoon.net scored a look at what they say is the final Quantum of Solace poster. It's not as impressive as I'd have hoped... but that won't really matter as long as the movie delivers. And my bet is it will.

Round 2 with Tim Bradstreet

If you enjoyed Part I of Newsarama's interview with Tim Bradstreet, then you won't want to miss Part II [it even has a couple of images from Archetype!]

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sketch Society @ Earlier Time

This Saturday, September 27th, is the next meeting of Sketch Society. The festivities will once again be held at Java Junction Donut and Coffee. This month we're meeting earlier in the day. Big John Beatty and I plan to arrive by 9am... and hope to see you there!

Who is the Cold Warrior?

Yesterday Variety announced Shane Black will direct Universal Pictures’ "Cold Warrior." Black is best known for his screenwriting abilities having written "Lethal Weapon," "The Last Boy Scout," "The Long Kiss Goodnight," "Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang" [which he also directed] to name just four.

"Cold Warrior" will be based on a script by Chuck Mondry, and involves a Cold War era spy who is called out of retirement and teamed with a younger agent to take on a Russian-backed domestic terrorism threat.

My bet is you can guess who I'd love to see play the spy called out of retirement.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tim Bradstreet: Archetype

If, like me, you're a fan of Tim Bradstreet's work, you'll probably want to check out this interview with him conducted by Newsarama. Heck, you might even want to learn more about his latest art book, Archetype.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Santa vs Satan

A little over a year ago, I was contacted by Jake Kalish. He said that he was writing a book about imaginary fights and was looking for expert opinions. Jake wanted me to weigh in on the Rocky vs Rambo fight. So I did. Jake recently contacted me to let me know that a copy of the book, Santa vs Satan: The Official Compendium of Imaginary Fights would be coming my way and that a link to the StalloneZone was printed along with my commentary. Here's how I saw the fight:

  • "Rocky Balboa vs John Rambo. Its the battle of the ages (and no, not because they're, at this point, no longer spring chickens). Sylvester Stallone is brought in as the guest ref. There will be no judges as this is a fight to the finish. Rambo starts out fast and takes an early lead as he gives Rocky a beating that would kill most men... BUT... Rocky... never quits. In the later rounds Rocky made a comeback and looks to have Rambo beat. After twelve grueling rounds with both men bloody and bruised, Sylvester Stallone, in a SLY (groan) move, calls the fight a draw." - Craig Zablo

How did the other experts see the fight? Ari Voukydis went with Rocky in an upset, Graham Thompson said it was Rambo in an easy win, and Roger Barr gave the nod to Rambo. Jake Kalish says Rambo wins via split decision.

If you're wondering about the other fights in the book, there are some imaginative ones: Muhammad Ali vs Bruce Lee, Han Solo vs Indiana Jones, Donald Duck vs Daffy Duck, Michael Corleone vs Tony Montana, My Dad vs Your Dad, Captain Crunch vs Tony the Tiger. Each fight has expert opinions and then Jake gives us the "official" fight commentary and results.

The book reminds me of junior high kids wasting an afternoon deciding "who would win if..." [Not that there's anything wrong with that.] I do have to caution that sometimes the humor crosses the line of good taste, but if you can get past a few, "I can't believe he wrote that moments" you'll find plenty of chuckles as you drift back to junior high and think about "who would win if..."
- Craig

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Prayers for the Assassin

The Pitch: “Red Dawn“ with Islamic Radicals... 25 years later [and without the teenage freedom fighter aspect].

The Overview: The year is 2040 and the United States is long gone, replaced by the Islamic Republic and Bible Belt. Both factions exist in a state of constant unease. Sarah, the daughter of an important Islamic leader is missing. She was working on a book which could show that the demise of the United States may not have happened the way the history books say. Rakkim, her lover and a former member of the Fedayeen, is on her trail. So to, is Darwin, a sadistic assassin.

The Good: Ferrigno creates a world that could exist now. It's the subtle changes that jolt. "The second half of the Super Bowl began right after midday prayers." // The book could accurately be described as action-adventure or mystery or science fiction. // The pace is quick. // There are plenty of twists and mysteries. // Rakkim is a very cool, very capable hero. // Darwin is the ultimate assassin. “My name is Darwin. I'll be your killer tonight." // The scenes with the "werewolves" [which are not really werewolves]. // The SWAT ambush. // The entire book.

The Bad: "See there? Your liver's been shredded. Amazing how quickly the bile backs up when the ducts have exploded. The human body... what a playground." // "You'll be dead in a couple of hours, but I wanted us to have some time together first. I so very rarely get to discuss my handiwork."

The Ugly: What happens to Sarah early on.

The Summary: Robert Ferrigno is an excellent writer. I started reading Ferrigno's work with The Horse Lattitudes, his first novel and my favorite by him. Prayers for the Assassin now has that honor. There is a chance that it may soon be replaced by Sins of the Assassin, the second in the Assassin trilogy. It sits in my To Be Read stack calling me back to a world very much like, yet subtly different than, that outside our windows today.

Friday, September 19, 2008

City of Dust

ComicBookResources.com has an 18 page preview of Steve Niles new comic series: City of Dust: A Philip Khrome Story #1.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

All Time Top Musical Artists

Recently Billboard posted The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists. Using just the choices in their "Hot 100" here is my Top 20 [in alphabetical order] with a few comments on each.

  • Beatles, The: I can still remember my mom getting me out of bed to come out and see The Beatles when they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. Some folks say, you're either a Beatles fan or a Rolling Stones fan. I'm a Beatles fan.

  • Bee Gees: I liked 'em before "Saturday Night Fever" and continued to like 'em even after the disco craze died. They could work the falsetto like nobody's business. There was a period in the late 70's when they owned the charts and created the soundtrack of some really fun years.

  • Bolton, Michael: Quit rolling your eyes. I like Bolton's singing.

  • Chicago: Man, did they have a run or what? I first discovered their music in the early 70's. I loved how they brought in the horns and were such a huge band and made it work. Different band members over the years, and they kept on making chart toppers. Put on their greatest hits and I'll bet you wouldn't skip a single song.

  • Collins, Phil: Think of early 80's music and you have to think of Phil Collins. He was the powerhouse behind Genesis, hit it big with music on "Miami Vice," and rocketed to the top of the charts with a solo career and movie soundtracks.

  • Eagles: I always liked their music, but it wasn't until I was older and really started listening to their work that I realized how truly good they were.

  • Earth, Wind & Fire: Chicago with soul.

  • Hall & Oates: "Sarah Smile" was a classic and then about 6 years later they started pumping out hit after hit. Together Hall & Oates were gold.

  • Houston, Witney: I loved her voice. Who didn't? I also loved her squeeky clean reputation. Really. There was a time when she had one.

  • Jackson 5: Anyone my age [late 40's] grew up during the Jackson 5 craze. Hit records, commercials, cartoons and a lot of fun music.

  • Jackson, Janet: Ms. Jackson if you're nasty. At one time Janet seemed pretty normal. Each year she seems a little more out there. Despite all that, I do enjoy her music.

  • Jackson, Michael: The King of Pop. The man who could do no wrong. Mr. Entertainment. And then the child abuse allegations... not once, but twice and they killed his career. But I can still "Remember the Time..."

  • Joel, Billy: would make the list if the only album he ever recorded was 52nd Street. I can't tell you how many times I listened without ever growing tired of it. He was one of the few musicians whose music I would buy without question.

  • John, Elton: became a favorite of mine when I was in junior high. It's funny, now but I can remember the rumors of him being gay [believe it or not youngsters, that there was a time when it wasn't obvious] and the surprise when he came out of the closet. Elton has continued to evolve and his music [especially with song writer Bernie Taupin] remains timeless.

  • Madonna: was like the weather in Florida. If you didn't like her music/persona just wait a bit and it would change. I liked that she was willing to take chances, [although the acting thing was too much], be provoking, and produce fun and sometimes thoughtful music.

  • Manilow, Barry: "Mandy" and "Time in New England" would get him on the list even if he didn't have bunches of other hits.

  • McCartney, Paul: My favorite Beatle. Paul had lots of great songs after the break-up of the band. Of course he makes the list.

  • Richie, Lionel: Loved him with the Commodores and when he went solo. At the time, he had the best romantic songs going... of course that was before his wife caught him cheating and punched [kicked?] him out.

  • Segar, Bob: The opposite of disco when disco was king. Loved his work -- still do.

  • Simon & Garfunkel: I was a little kid when they owned the charts... but every song was a winner.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pearson's One Shot

Who doesn't love Jason Pearson's art? And when Pearson kicks it into high gear to write and draw Body Bags, who can resist? Of course with a title like Body Bags, you can guess that the violence is over the top. If that doesn't bother you then check out this interview about the latest Body Bags One Shot and six page preview!

You vs a Velociaraptor

This quiz was silly enough that I had to find out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Incognito No More

If you're a fan of Sean Phillips & Ed Brubaker or well done crime stories then check this out.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hitchcock's 10 Best

TimesOnLine recently posted their choices for the Hitchcock's 50 Most Memorable Moments. Using just their selections, I provide for your perusal, my Top Ten Hitchcock Moments:

  1. North by Northwest (1959) The crop-dusting scene: This is perhaps Hitchcock’s most famous scene: Cary Grant on the run from killers, finds himself alone in the middle of nowhere. A crop duster appears on the horizon. As it flies closer, we know even before the machine gun fire, that Grant has been found!

  2. Psycho (1960) The shower scene: If the crop dusting scene isn’t Hitchcock’s most famous, then this has to be. We still believe that Janet Leigh, the star of the movie, is going to come out okay. Once she takes a shower things will start looking up. Unfortunately they don’t, and she should have. Through the shower curtain we can see the murderer quietly sneaking over. Suddenly the shower curtain is thrown back, Bernard Herrmann’s score blasts and anyone who has ever seen the scene knows that taking a shower will never be the same.

  3. The Birds (1963) Climbing frame: When Tippi Hedren sits on bench and lights up a cigarette we see a single crow on the monkey bars behind her. As she begins to smoke a few more land. She’s oblivious to them and what they represent. Finally she takes notice of a bird that flies into frame and to the monkey bars. She [and the audience] see for the first time that dozens, perhaps hundreds of birds now cover the playground equipment.

  4. The Birds (1963) The “God” shot: This film is filled with so many memorable moments, and who can forget this classic scene? Hitchcock literally gives us a bird’s eye view of the carnage below… birds attacking, as the gas station explodes and the town goes up in flames… and as the camera looks in all directions all we can see are more birds!

  5. Psycho (1960) The discovery of “Mother” in the basement: Theater owners wouldn’t let people come in during the last minutes of the movie so as not to ruin the shocking surprise as we discover for the first time, the secret of “mother.”

  6. North by Northwest (1959) The amazing denoument: Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint have been chased across the country and find themselves trapped on, of all places, the presidents’ heads on Mount Rushmore. She is barely hanging on as Grant stretches to pull her up and suddenly…a happy ending. Like in Vertigo where we don’t see how Jimmy Stewart manages to get back to safety, it just doesn’t matter.

  7. Saboteur (1942) The Statue of Liberty dangle: Bob Cummings finally confronts the foreign agent at the top of the Statue of Liberty. During the struggle, the agent goes over the side, barley saved by Cummings’ grip on his sleeve. As Cummings struggles to bring him up the sleeve begins to slowly rip… one stitch at a time. Then comes the fall that seems to last almost as long!

  8. Lifeboat (1944) Starring Alfred Hitchcock: Alfred Hitchcock was the first director that I knew by name. I used to love looking for his cameos in movies and this was perhaps his most clever. He appears in a newspaper diet ad.

  9. Psycho (1960) Marion Crane’s car journey to the Bates motel: Poor Janet Leigh has gotten in way over her head, but she’s the heroine of the story so despite the bad weather and the worries so clearly seen from her expressions, we know everything will turn out okay in the end.

  10. Rear Window (1954) Lisa is caught in Thorwarld’s apartment: Grace Kelly plays Lisa, Jimmy Stewart’s girlfriend. Stewart is convinced that the neighbor across the courtyard has killed his wife. Lisa goes in to the neighbor’s apartment to search for evidence as Stewart watches from his window, immobilized with two broken legs. He [and we] are shocked when the murderer suddenly returns to find Lisa in his apartment!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Time Out

I try to keep my ZONE posts geared to fun stuff [movies, television, novels, comic books, art, etc.]. For this post, I'm going to make an exception and write briefly about something out of the norm.

On Friday evening, one of my students who plays on our high school football team suffered a terrible injury. His neck was broken while making a tackle. He was rushed to the hospital and surgery started late that evening and went into the early hours of the next day. His mother, little brother and a couple of close friends were joined by the head football coach, the head and assistant basketball coaches, our athletic trainer, our principal and me. As the minutes slowly ticked off and the surgery continued, his older brother [he's going to college out of town], a few more close friends and a former football coach arrived. At about 1:30AM, a doctor came out and said that surgery was going well, that all signs were good and they'd be operating for another hour or so. After surgery, the student was admitted to the hospital.

This morning all signs continue to be good. The student has full use of his arms and legs. He still has a ways to go to be fully healed, but the worst should be over.

The reason that I wanted to post about this is that sometimes we forget about what's really important in life. We also forget about how quickly events can change, sometimes forever. It shouldn't take a catastrophic accident to remind us of what's important... to let those we care about know it... to appreciate the blessings that we have.

Maybe it can be something as simple as a blog post.

Friday, September 12, 2008

All Time Best SciFi TV

Entertainment Weekly recently posted their selections for the Twenty Greatest Sci-Fi Shows of All Time. You know how I love lists, so I decided to play along. Using just shows from EW's top 20, I came up with my top five:

5. OUTER LIMITS (1963-1965) Truthfully, I don't remember all that many episodes. Considering that I was just five years old when the show premiered and seven when it went off the air. What I do remember is that I loved staying up late [well, it was late to a five year old] to watch the show with my mom. And it had that classic opening... "We control the horizontal..." I'd love to re-visit some of the episodes again. RTN are you listening?

4. THE SIX-MILLION DOLLAR MAN (1974-1978) This was "must-see" tv for all kids my age. Who wouldn't want to be Steve Austin? Who could forget that dramatic opening of the test flight gone wrong, the horrible crash, and then... "We can rebuild him. Make him stronger... faster" and cut to Lee Majors running in slow motion? I'm really surprised this show hasn't been updated for the big screen. Of course they'd probably have to call it "The Six Billion Dollar Man."

3. LOST (2004 - Present) I've been riding the Lost wave since the premiere and haven't missed an episode. I'm glad the show has an end date in sight not because I'm not enjoying it, but because I want to feel that a definite story is being told. If too many mysteries keep being thrown at us and few are resolved, it would grow old. Now there's little chance of that.

2. STAR TREK (1966-1969) I've talked about my love for the ORIGINAL Star Trek many times. In fact, I was a little surprised that I didn't rate it number one. How can that be? It's just not logical.

1. THE TWILIGHT ZONE (1959-1964) I was six years old when The Twilight Zone went off the air. It was another of those shows that I used to love watching safe on the couch. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've seen some of the classic episodes. Any time the SciFi channel runs a TZ marathon you can count me in!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering 9-11

It's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that the 9/11 attacks took place seven years ago. The images, the shock and the horror are still all too clear.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of all impacted on that terrible day.

Photo credit: Naom Galai

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Zablo for President?

Not sure who to vote for this year? Then why not consider this guy?

The Zablo Lottery

If you were trying to guess the country with the highest percentage of Zablo family members [and why you'd want to do that is fodder for another post]; what country would you guess? I would have thought Romania, or Italy. I would have been wrong. It's actually the United States. But even in the good ole US of A the odds of bumping in to a Zablo are less than one in a million. Way less. According to this site, it's more like .2 in a million.

So if you ever run in to me or one of my family members think of how lucky you are. It's like hitting the lottery... without the cash pay off of course.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

What's the Worst That Can Happen?

"What's the worst that can happen?"

"Oh, I don't know, maybe it'll create a black hole that will devour our planet."

Does that sound like bad science fiction? It's not.

Scientists disagree about what will happen when the world's largest atom-smasher fires up for the first time. Most think that it's perfectly safe and may give an indication of what conditions were present at the time the universe was created. A few men of science, however, believe that the process will create tiny black holes that will grow increasingly larger as they consume the Earth. These men even tried to get a court order to stop the experiment from going forward! You can read more about the whole, uh, shaBANG, here.

A tip of the brainiac covering to Jeff Parker for the original link and who made me laugh out loud with his conclusion to the line: "What if every black hole in the universe was originally a planet where the last words uttered were..."

Another Week to Wait

Remember when I said that 11/007/08 can't get here fast enough? Well, after seeing this, 11/14/08 can't get here fast enough.

Evan Tanner: RIP

Evan Tanner was found dead yesterday. Tanner, 37, was a real free-spirit. A MMA fighter and former champion, Tanner seldom lived in the same place for more than six months. He didn't have a lot of possessions, except for his books, which he truly loved. Tanner considered himself an adventurer and loved to travel and spend time with nature. Unfortunately, this may have contributed to his death.

Tanner told friends that he was going deep into the desert... alone. He told some that he was going out for a "cleansing" and others that he was going to "hunt treasure." These short trips into nature were nothing new for Tanner who loved his time alone in nature and the "great mysteries." His friends became concerned when he stopped returning text messages. A rescue helicopter was sent out and his body was found miles from his camp. It appears that his motorcycle ran out of gas and Tanner began walking in heat well over a 100 degrees. The temperature became more than his body could take.

I knew of Evan Tanner because of his career in the UFC where he won 10 of his first 12 fights. Tanner was a former two time high school wrestling champ and a former UFC middleweight champion. Although he was best known for his abilities on the mat and in the octagon, Tanner said about himself: “I always thought of myself as the poet, the writer, or the philosopher – I never thought of myself as a fighter.” That is why the picture at the top of this post is not of Evan Tanner the fighter.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Beatty Puts on the Blue Light

Remember when I posted that my buddy, John Beatty, had opened up his commission list and created a special blog for it? Well, a few things have changed and if you were considering getting a commission, now is the time!

John decided to close down the sketch blog and post the commissions on his new site at JohnBeattyArt.com. Plus, and this is the biggie, John has decided to take 1/2 off of all commissions!

No, that doesn't mean he just draws 1/2 the figure for the full price, it means you get the full figure for 1/2 the price! Click here for full details and remember to let us know if you put in an order!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

UFC 88: Sugar Over Ice

Before we get to the fight that shocked the world, let's take a look at the other results of UFC 88:

Nate Marquardt won by TKO in round one over Martin Kampmann. Marquardt landed a shot in the early going that got Kampmann in touble and then he simply stayed on top of him landing shot after shot until Kampmann could take no more. I thought this would be a tougher fight. Marquardt is just rock solid and showed ring smarts by not getting over-excited and continuing to mix up his punches. I look forward to Marquardt's next fight whoever his opponent may be.

Dan Henderson won a unanimous decision over Rousimar Palhares. Henderson surprised me by winning so easily. He came in with a game plan that worked and to his credit he stuck with it. His plan was to keep the fight standing up and avoid going to the mat with Palhares at all costs. It didn't make for a very exciting fight, but it did get Henderson the win.

Rich Franklin won via TKO in the third over Matt Hamill. Franklin was just too ring savy. I really thought that he'd have more trouble in defeating Hamill due to Hamill's strength and great wrestling ability. Franklin was able to keep Hamill at bay by mixing his hard kicks with punches in bunches. Franklin looked to be in danger of losing via a stoppage due to a deep cut by his eye, but before that could happen in was able to put Hamill down with a hard leg kick to the liver to end the fight.

"Sugar" Rashad Evans knocked out Chuck "the Ice Man" Liddell with a single punch in the second round! Yeah, I was as shocked as you... maybe more so. I didn't see Evans winning that fight, and if he did somehow find a way to win, I wouldn't have guessed it would have been by knockout. Sure, I know that anyone can be knocked out by the right punch, but I just didn't see it happening. Evans fought a smart fight. He didn't waste his time [despite being a superior wrestler] in trying to take down Liddell. Instead he bobbed and weaved and made Liddell miss. As Evans' gained confidence, he stayed in front of Liddell for longer [though still brief] periods of time and threw shots of his own. And each time as he would dance away he'd add a little something to irritate Liddell. He knew what he was doing. Evans wanted Liddell to come in so intent on knocking him out, that he'd leave himself open. And that's what Liddell did. He missed an uppercut and Evans landed one on his chin. Instant knockout. Evans now has a shot at Forest Griffin for the title and Liddell must contemplate his next move.

Some folks are calling for Liddell to retire. He's lost three of his last four fights [to Rampage Jackson, Keith Jardine and now Rashad Evans]. Although he looked good in his win over Wanderlei Silva, many will say that Liddell just doesn't have it anymore. I disagree.

Anyone who can mix it up with Silva still has it. But that's what Liddell has to do, He has to mix it up. In his losses to Rampage, Jardine and Evans, he was pretty much one dimensional. He went in looking to trade punches with Rampage and Jardine, no doubt thinking that he could knock them out before they got to him. I really don't believe that he respected Evans punching power and probably thought that Evans would want to rely on his wrestling skills. In all three fights, he was wrong. Rampage landed first and knocked him out. Jardine rocked him and then went on to win a decision. Evans caught him with one shot dead on the button. How different would those fights have been if Liddell had fought like he fought against Silva? Remember the surprise when Liddell repeatedly took Silva down? How many times did he try that against Rampage? Jardine? Evans? Liddell has excellent wrestling skills, good jiu-jitsu and we know he can strike. Maybe he should try combining all three in his next fight.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Ed Hall: No Reference Needed

The "Fatman" art above is by Ed Hall. Although I first met Ed five years ago, I've been a fan of his work for much longer. Ed is an award-wining political cartoonist with a wit to match his artistic talent. He also has the uncanny ability to draw caricatures from memory. I first saw him do this when I asked for a sketch for my Stallone gallery. Although I had reference available, Ed said that he'd drawn Sly before so the reference wouldn't be needed. He then proceeded to draw this right before my eyes. Amazing.

You can check out Ed's work here at his blog. You'll find that he does a lot more than just political cartoons, and my guess is you'll like it all.

Friday, September 05, 2008

UFC 88 Predictions

Let's take a look at tomorrow night's UFC 88 Pay-Per-View Card.

Nate Marquardt vs. Martin Kampmann: This should be a good fight. Kampmann trains out of Randy Couture's camp, and has a four fight win streak running back to 2006. Marquardt is a hard case whose only loses in the UFC have been to Anderson Silva and a split decision lost to Thales Leites [who Kampmann has beaten]. Kampmann may be a slight favorite, but I'm picking Marquardt to come out on top after a tough battle.

Rousimar Palhares vs. Dan Henderson: Six of Palhares's wins have been first round submissions so you know he has mad BJJ skills. Henderson is a former two time MMA champion. He clearly dominated Anderson Silva for the entire first round when they fought, so you know he's dangerous. Henderson has more experience, is bigger, hits harder and needs the win to get back into contention for a title shot. Everything should point to Henderson winning. Yet something says that's not going to happen. I'll go for the upset and take Palhares.

Rich Franklin vs. Matt Hamill: Rich Franklin has moved up in weight after two devastating losses to Anderson Silva. He'll face Matt Hamill who has less experience, but better wrestling skills and freakish strength. How that will play out all depends on how well Franklin can avoid being taken down. Hamill will want to force the fight to the mat and Franklin will look to knock out Hamill as he shoots for takedowns. I think that experience will prevail and give the nod to Franklin.

Rashad Evans vs. Chuck Liddell: This should be interesting. Up to this point, Rashad Evans has been able to rise to every occassion and keep his unbeaten streak alive. Evans is a skilled wrestler who continues to improve other facets of his MMA game. Liddell is the Ice Man. The Knockout King. Everyone knows that Liddell plans to keep the fight a standup slugfest -- he will want to stalk Evans and throw bombs until one lands and puts him to sleep. So where does that leave Evans? He has two choices and neither are that great. He can try to beat Liddell at his own game by slipping punches and landing his own. I don't see that happening for long. Or he can try to take Liddell to the mat and wear him down with his superior wrestling skills. The only problem is that Liddell is famous for avoiding takedowns. My prediction: Liddell by TKO.

Karo Parisyan was scheduled to fight on the card, but had to cancel due to a bad back. Funny that he pulled out on the day before the fight. I like Parisyan and hope it is nothing more than a bad back, but after listening to this interview, I have to wonder.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Couture vs Lesnar

Wow. Really. Wow. Randy Couture vs Brock Lesnar for the UFC Heavyweight Championship Title. Talk about a dream match.

Randy Couture is considered a MMA legend. Couture is the only UFC fighter to be a five time champion. [Never mind the fact that it means that he's lost the title a few times along the way.] He's the only man to hold both the UFC Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Titles. Less than a year after retiring and being inducted in the UFC Hall of Fame, Couture came back to win the UFC Heavyweight Title once again. [Never mind the fact that was over a year ago and Couture has been tied up in legal wranglings with the UFC.]

Brock Lesnar is 6 feet two inches and 280 pounds of solid muscle. He moves as fast as a middle weight. [Never mind the fact that he lacks depth in his MMA skills.] Lesnar is a former wrestling champion [NCAA and WWE] and now he is going to fight for Randy Couture for the UFC Heavyweight Title. [Never mind that he's had just 3 MMA fights and lost one.]

Folks in the Couture camp think that his wrestling/MMA skills will be too much for Lesnar. They point out that Couture has fought bigger, stronger [?] and much more skilled opponents and come out on top. Those in Lesnar's camp think Couture's too old and that the year layoff will hurt him. Or that Lesnar is simply too quick and strong.

The funny thing is none of that is going to matter the night of the fight. It will probably be the biggest Pay-Per-View in the history of MMA. Fans and critics of both fighters will tune in. People who've never watched an MMA fight will tune in. It's the fight people want to see.

So never mind the never minds.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Viggo or Leon?

You know I loved Robert B. Parker's novel and am really looking forward to the movie adaptation of "Appaloosa." So when I say that this poster of Viggo from the movie reminds me of Leon Redbone, it's not because I'm trying to dis the movie. Far from it. In fact, I'm trying to talk up the movie by getting you to check out the "Appaloosa" banner at IMPA.com.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

RIP: Don LaFontaine

Don LaFontaine died yesterday at the age of 68. You might not know his name, but I'd bet you would recognize Mr. LaFontaine's voice. He was consider the voice-over king, and rightly so. What else would you call the man behind over 5,000 movie trailers, the in-studio announcer for the Academy and SAG awards, and whose voice could be heard on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, UPN, TNT, TBS and the Cartoon Network?

I'm going to miss hearing his iconic voice booming, "In a world where..." and I have to tell you movie previews are going to be a little less fun... "In a world where Don LaFontaine no longer resides."

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.

Crossed #0 Review

Crossed #0 [written by Garth Ennis with art by Jacen Burrows] is available now. That's the wraparound cover by Jacen pictured above and it should give you a good idea of what to expect. At first glance, you might think it's another zombie comic, but it's not... at least not exactly.

An event happens which causes a good portion of the population to go crazy. Normal folks in a small town are suddenly surrounded by friends and neighbors killing each other and worse [much worse in some cases]. This introduction by Ennis is smart in that it places us in the middle of things as the insanity spreads. There are enough inspired touches that we understand that this is not a limited event and the world will never be the same. The most frightening scene in my opinion wasn't any of the attacks by the infected, or the bomb blast, or the widespread shots of carnage all around. To me the most creepy shot was of a plane crashing -- we see it strike a clock tower as it hurtles to the ground and then Jacen gives us a close up of the cockpit. In it we see two flight attendants in the background fighting, an infected passenger with an evil grin killing the co-pilot as the infected pilot laughs maniacally as he dives the plane into the ground.

Crossed was definitely good enough that I'll be back for more. Jacen Burrows provides the pencils and inks and this is his best work yet. Greg Waller provides the colors and did a great job in capturing the mood of the book and complimenting Burrows's line work. Garth Ennis's story leaves me wanting more. He knows how to hit all the right notes but be aware that he's not afraid of going over the line when it comes to shocking gore and violence.

Crossed isn't for everyone. However fans of horror and the zombie genre [although the infected aren't zombies... at least traditional zombies] might want to check it out. Issue 0 would be a great place to start. It's only a buck and available now.