Nick Thorburn’s “Penguins” Stands Out For Its — Humanity?


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

It goes without saying that whenever somebody reasonably well-known from another field of creative endeavor entirely “makes the leap” over to comics, a certain hardened, crusty rump of fandom will view said transition (however temporary) with suspicion. Less so, I’m guessing, when it’s a literary personage like, I dunno, Stephen King or something, than when it’s a musician, since there’s nothing in a musician’s background to indicate that they should be good at this sort of thing — but it’s still a tad bit unfair to automatically assume that there’s some sort of artistic “carpet-bagging” going on when that happens, simply because the standard doesn’t seem to cut both ways. Did anyone object to Alan Moore recording some albums, for example? I didn’t think so.

In that respect, then, Canadian cartoonist Nick Thorburn — best known as musical “frontman” of both The Unicorn and Islands, as well as floating in…

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In The City: THE WARRIORS (Paramount 1979)


cracked rear viewer


Back in the 70’s, the crowd I hung out with didn’t give a rat’s ass about STAR WARS … THE WARRIORS was THE movie to see! The film reportedly resulted in outbreaks of violence, vandalism, and even three deaths  – including one up in Boston! – and Paramount Pictures pulled all its advertising, because that’s what adults do! Didn’t matter to us, though… everyone already knew about THE WARRIORS and it’s glorification of violence, and all the neighborhood cool kids just had to catch it (including a certain long-haired wiseass who used to amuse his street corner friends with his “useless knowledge” of old movies).

The myriad street gangs of New York City have declared a truce and gathered together for a big meet called by Cyrus, leader of The Riffs. The charismatic Cyrus whips ’em into a frenzy proposing they all organize into one huge gang to control The…

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Three Short Tributes to Three Talented Ladies


cracked rear viewer

They say deaths happen in threes, and though it may be just an old wives’ tale, in the past few days movie lovers lost three underappreciated actresses. They may not have been mega-stars, but each contributed in her own way to the world of classic movies. In their honor, here’s three capsule looks at a trio of talented ladies no longer with us:

Gloria Jean (1926-2018) was probably the best known of the three, a Universal starlet of the 1940’s. She was signed by the studio as the next  Deanna Durbin, who’d moved on to more mature roles. Possessing a sweet soprano voice, Gloria made her film debut in THE UNDER-PUP (1939), and followed with two hits, A LITTLE BIT OF HEAVEN and IF I HAD MY WAY (both 1940), the latter co-starring with Bing Crosby. My favorite Gloria Jean part is where she plays a fictional version of herself…

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What Lisa Watched Last Night #192: His Perfect Obsession (dir by Alexandre Carrière)


Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime premiere, His Perfect Obsession!

Why Was I Watching It?

Because it was on Lifetime, of course!

Plus, I was kinda hoping that it would be like a special Labor Day movie.  Since I’m still not sure what Labor Day is actually supposed to celebrate, I thought maybe His Perfect Obsession would provide some clues.  (Unfortunately, it did not.)

 What Was It About?

Bart (Brendan Murray) is an accountant with a problem.  He’s obsessed with both his client, Allison (Arianne Zucker), and her blind teenage daughter Abigail (Ali Skovbye).  However, Allison doesn’t want to date him and Abigail doesn’t really seem to like him that much either.  Even after Bart murders Allison’s creep of an ex, Allison still doesn’t want to go out with him.  She’d rather go out with a sleazy real estate agent.

What is a crazy sociopath like Bart to do?  He tries drinking at the local bar but the bartender keeps getting in his business.  He tries murdering his mother but that really doesn’t do much for him, either.  Finally, Bart remembers that he does have that remote cabin that hardly anyone knows about…

What Worked?

His Perfect Obsession was filmed in Canada and, visually, it made good use of the snowy landscape.  I especially liked a scene at the start of the film where Bart approached Abigail outside of her house and they had an awkward conversation while the frozen ground glowed in the night behind them.

The performances were all excellent.  Brendan Murray was wonderfully creepy as Bart and Arianne Zucker and Ali Skovbye were both perfectly cast as the mother and daughter.

A lot of us watching online especially liked the character of Ben (Scott Gibson), the world’s most heroic bartender.  If Captain America got a job working in a bar, he’d be a lot like Ben.

Finally, there was a character named Lance Lancaster (Seann Gallagher), who everyone liked because his name was Lance Lancaster.  That’s like one of the greatest names ever!

What Did Not Work?

In general, I’m not a fan of any movie where the final half of the film is taken up with scenes of people being held hostage.  A hostage situation always seems to stall whatever narrative momentum the film has been building up and that’s what happened with His Perfect Obsession.

The scene where Bart murders his mother was so drawn out that the scene itself almost became extremely unpleasant and rather icky to watch.  I know that might sound strange coming from a self-confessed horror fanatic like me but the scene was just way too sadistic for a Lifetime film.  As of late, Lifetime seems to be trying to be a bit more edgy as far as violence is concerned but that’s really not why people watch Lifetime.  Lifetime melodrama should be fun, not traumatic.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I’ve never actually worked with a professional accountant.  My sisters do my taxes for me and, when it comes to money, I find that it’s better to spend it now and hold off on worrying until later.  So, I really couldn’t relate to that part of the movie.

What I did relate to was the relationship between Allison and Abigail, which felt very real and was well-played by both actresses.  It reminded me of the type of relationship that I had with my mom.

Lessons Learned

Use TurboTax.

Scenes I Love: Predator “Jungle Shootout”


Predator Jungle Shoot

I recently reviewed John McTiernan’s classic scifi action Predator. It is a film that many kids both young and those young at heart loved watching on the bigscreen. The 1980’s some would consider the golden years of action filmmaking.

It was a decade where action instead of dialogue ruled. Where muscle-bound stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone dominated the box-office. Even with the resurgence and current renaissance of the action film genre, many still reminisce about the action flicks of the 80’s and how they truly didn’t make them like they used to.

If there’s ever a great example of just how over-the-top and testosterone-fueled the action films were of this decade of the 80’s (also known as the decade of excess) then one can’t go wrong with showing the uninitiated the jungle shootout scene from Predator.

One doesn’t need to be into guns to appreciate the majesty of this scene.

Music Video of the Day: I’m Eighteen by Alice Cooper (1971, directed by ????)


In an interview with Songfacts, drummer Neal Smith had the following to say about I’m Eighteen:

“It was a song about growing up in the ’60s, with lines in it like you could go to war but you couldn’t vote. We had no idea it would become an anthem; we were just thinking it would be a cool song.”

I’m Eighteen was not only Alice Cooper’s first big hit but it also played an important role in music history when, in 1975, a nineteen year-old John Lydon auditioned for the Sex Pistols by miming along to the song.  Lydon’s audition took place at a pub and Lydon later explained that the jukebox was filled with “that awful 60s mod music” and I’m Eighteen was the only song in it that he could tolerate.