Monday, September 20, 2010

Poem: Warmed By Your Fire


WARMED BY YOUR FIRE

I’m out in the cold, wishing you were here.

All too often I took your lyrics for granted,
So many times I mistook your candle for harm.

A typical child would have kept out of trouble
With knowing the extreme burden you bear.

A love that keeps the fire burning.

When I was alone searching for a memory,
You called out my name as a gift to me.

I waited a moment then lost my way
In the warmth of your arms.

Close to me are those reminders of solitude
Taking on a song,
I know I can turn to you now or later.

Why do I endure this isolation,
This bitter sound of silence.

O love, why do you care?

Months can go by without my making a verbal plea
Nor an inner yearning for your touch.

If you are here, save my soul from growing numb
And burn tonight a fraction of your light.

Dwell outside the deep that calls the deep inside of me.
I am homesick and strange to feeling alone.

Warmed by your fire,
Underneath your flame
Is where I belong.
________________________________

©2000 Torrence J. King. All Rights Reserved.


To view and order The Kiss of Life – Go to:
http://torrenceking.blogspot.com/2011/08/kiss-of-life-poetry-art-collection.html


 


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Top 100 Favorite Songs 2005

Lately, I've been posting archive blogs of posts from Myspace, blogster, etc.

Here's a list of my top 100 favorite songs that I posted on Myspace.com back in 2005, to me, have stood the test of time, both lyrically and musically. 

I suppose a new list is appropriately due for 2010 any day now.....

Song/Artist Listed Alphabetically:

25 or 6 to 4 - Chicago  

A Day in The Life - The Beatles

Abraham, Martin and John - Dion

Across 110th Street - Bobby Womack and Peace

All I Do - Stevie Wonder

Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 - Pink Floyd

Another One Bites the Dust - Queen

Anyway - Over the Rhine

At The Hop - Danny and the Juniors

Back in the Saddle - Aerosmith

Ballroom Blitz - Sweet

Brooklyn Heights - Down to the Bone

Carefree Highway - Gordon Lightfoot

Come Fly With Me - Frank Sinatra

Creep - Radiohead

Disarm - Smashing Pumpkins

Doctor Who Theme Song - Various

Dress You Up - Madonna

Ebony Eyes - Rick James and Smokey Robinson

Everybody's Talkin' - Harry Nilson

Exodus - Bob Marley and the Wailers

Five Fathoms - Everything But the Girl

Funkytown - Lipps, Inc.

Genuis of Love - Tom Tom Club

Girl from Ipanema - Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto

God Only Knows - Beach Boys

Groovejet (If This Ain't Love) - Spiller with Sophie Ellis Bextor

Half A Person - The Smiths

Halo - The Cure

Hey! Love - The Delfonics

Hurt - Johnny Cash

I Am I Said - Neil Diamond

I Love Music - The O'Jays

I Want To Take You Higher - Sly and The Family Stone

I Want You - Marvin Gaye

I'm Not In Love - 10CC

I'm Only Sleeping - The Beatles

In This World - Moby

Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby (Remix) - Dinah Washington

Jack The Ripper (Live) - Morrissey

Lake Shore Drive - Aliotta, Haynes and Jeremiah

Life During Wartime - Talking Heads

Making Love - Roberta Flack

Man in a Suitcase - The Police

Miss You - Rolling Stones

Money - The O'Jays

Mr. Bojangles - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Music - Eric Sermon and Marvin Gaye

Narc - Interpol

No Such Thing - John Mayer

Nothing is Better than Love - Luther Vandross and Gregory Hines

One - U2

One of These Nights - The Eagles

Ooh La La La - Teena Marie

Orange Crush - REM

PYT - Michael Jackson

Rainy Day Woman ..12 and 35 - Bob Dylan

Regret (Fire Island Remix) - New Order

Right Place, Wrong Time - Dr. John

Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash

Rise - Herb Alpert

Rock Around the Clock - Bill Haley and His Comets

Rubber Ring - The Smiths

Run Like the Wind - Christopher Cross

Running Down A Dream - Tom Petty

Running Up That Hill - Kate Bush

School Day - Chuck Berry

Sing Your Life - Morrissey

Sinnerman - Nina Simone

Slow Jamz - Kanye West, Twista, Jamie Foxx

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes - The Platters

Song For You - Ray Charles

Sound of Silence - Simon and Garfunkel

Stand Back - Stevie Nicks

Still The Same - Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band

Strawberry Letter 23 - Brothers Johnson

Suddenly - Olivia Newton-John and Cliff Richard

Superstar/Until You Come Back to Me - Luther Vandross

Sway - Bic Runga

Sweet Surrender - Sarah McLachlan

Take Five - Dave Brubeck Quartet

Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand

The Boxer - Simon and Garfunkel

The Look of Love – Chris Botti and Chantal Kreviazuk

The More You Ignore Me - Morrissey

The Scientist - Coldplay

The Wanderer - Johnny Cash and U2

The Way I Feel - Remy Shand

They Say-Vision - Res

Through the Wire - Kanye West

Time - Pink Floyd

Tower - Big Head Todd and The Monsters

Uptight (Everything is All Right) - Stevie Wonder

Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) - Josh Groban

Walk the Line - Johnny Cash

What A Fool Believes - Doobie Brothers

When Am I Going To Make A Living - Sade

Woman in Chains - Tears for Fears and Oleta Adams

You Should Be Dancing - Bee Gees

You're So Vain - Carly Simon

_____________________________

Here's some of my favorite videos of songs from the list:

Sarah McLachlan - Sweet Surrender


Johnny Cash - 'Hurt" video


Luther Vandross - Superstar (Live) HD


Smashing Pumpkins - "Disarm" video


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Poem: At The End of The Day

AT THE END OF THE DAY Today, And here after My thoughts Fall on deaf ears. Can I be what I make this life? On the run, During this time With the sun Above my head. Nothing left to lose, Before this day is through. It's too late The day is almost gone. No hour can explain, How it moves so fast. Within a minute, You won't give the time. Within a second, You will shut me down. The night has risen And I'm all alone. Waiting for tomorrow,

If it ever comes.


______________________________________

(c)1996 Torrence J. King. All Rights Reserved. Originally published in "Satellites and Exits Volume 1" 2006 (Exit Press Publications)

The Winds of Tragedy/The Hope of VicTory (Tribute to Virginia Tech)

The Winds of Tragedy/The Hope of VicTory

I hear the wind blowing.
I hear it howl.
I hear it weep.

Like a mother for a hurting child.

The sound of shots
Ringing throughout the land.

Shots fired!
Shots fired!

So many tears fall down.
So many heads hang low.
So many hearts lost in sorrow.
So many questions that surround our very being.

Some have survived
Still others are gone.
Forever.
And ever,
By a madman's gun.

No one understands.

The worst of it all
Thus far
And, so far, we must go on.

No rhyme.
No reason.
Can we comprehend this senselessness?

No matter of thought
Toward many lives yet to be lived.

And, it is now that these lives are remembered.
All that's left for us to restore.
Reflections on their history.
The pictures that tell their story.
Of their smiles,
Of their dreams,
Of their hopes.

For this, we hope
Of a better day.
A better way.

A hope that this tragedy will not cause us to fear and tremble.

That the lives lost
Will shine on
For all to see.

Remembering the brave,
The bold.
Those who stood up
That others may live.

For this,
We must stand together,
One by one.
As one.

Holding the hands of those left behind.
Praying for those who bore witness.
Sharing a whisper of love to all.

We shall overcome
And claim the ultimate victory.

The victory over this tragedy.

Never to forget.
Determined to stand strong.

That no madman
Can take away all hope
Though they themselves are lost
To their own despair.

For this,
A prayer goes forth:
Let those touched by the lost of loved ones,
Be comforted.
Let those who endure with pain,
Be healed.

May time and prayers
Bring an encouragement
To go on with love fulfilled,
From all who cry with you
And everyone in-between.

May you know the hope we pray and share.

We are one.
We are strength.
We are the hope of VicTory.


The image

©2007 Torrence J. King. All Rights Reseved.

originally posted on Myspace: April 16, 2008

Batman The Dark Knight (2008) - Movie Review


Movie Review: Batman: The Dark Knight (2008)

Originally Posted September 20, 2008

Well, I wanted to wait a while…after the dust settled… with my review of the monster-of-a-movie known as "Batman: The Dark Knight".

Off the bat, (no pun intended) I want to make it very clear, I'm a Batman fan. One of the first comic books I ever read was Batman. I'm familiar with the character's history and place in pop culture. With that said, I'm little bit more critical than those who I consider fair-weather fans.

I also liked the movie as opposed to hating it as some might think. There are things about it that I did not like which I will point out here.

I also spoke to three friends, I will name "Jay", "Ed" and "Rob" and will include their opinions here.

Rob saw the Dark Knight at a midnight showing. Jay and Ed saw it in September, weeks after its release.

I saw it over the first weekend of release.

I found it very interesting on the day of its release, people who saw it that first day including Rob was claiming it was the Greatest Movie Ever. Huh???

I started to backtrack movies I would put in that category…."The Godfather", "Citizen Kane", "The Lord of The Rings Trilogy", etc.

Batman: The Dark Knight….better than all those movies????

Could it be?? Hmmmmm

After seeing it over that first weekend….I concluded with this…

UMMMMM….NO!

OK. Not sure why people were saying that including Rob. I'm still trying to make sense of it.

Alright. Here's my take on the movie. It was good but not better than Batman Returns. Heath Ledger's take on the Joker was very good…but not as menacing as the villain in No Country For Old Men (that guy will give you nightmares).

OK. Now for a breakdown. Batman The Dark Knight had a lot of things going on in a variety of different directions. I think a lot of the problems I saw had to do with the editing. I honestly believe there were some issues in the editing process and because of Ledger's untimely death, they were stuck with a movie that could not be edited to its full potential. I feel this way due to the movie's rapid jump from scene-to-scene and story flow.

Some of the concerns I had were these:

In all of Gotham City, not one cop was good except Jim Gordon?

The Joker comes up with a plan to use two boats, one with prison inmates and the other with innocent people and they must decide who lives or dies by a switch that will blow up the other. What The...??? That sounds more like The Riddler, not the Joker and especially this Joker, who really doesn't care about anything except anarchy. It seemed so out of character.

Batman uses a technology that sends images to his systems based on sounds and cellphones. Using this technology he will attempt to save hostages and prevent the Gotham City SWAT team from unknowingly killing innocent people. At this point, I felt the need to yell at the screen.."Hey, Batman. Don't you think it's time to call the Justice League". That whole stopping-SWAT-using-sound-signatures thing was a bit too much.

There really was no development with the new characters and their interaction with each other especially Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent. And speaking of which, was it necessary to include Two-Face in THIS movie. Would it not have been a better to leave him out or around for the inevitable sequel?

Now, Jay who recently saw The Dark Knight, says that he like it for its realism. You see, Jay is not a comic book fan or a superhero movie fan. He believes comic book genre movies relies heavily on a fantasy angle. He felt that The Dark Knight was more realistic (another term even used by Rob, who is not a comic book fan but loves the Batman and Spider-Man movies). They both feel that it's realistic in the since that someone can actually by Batman. He doesn't have powers. He's just a man with "wonderful" toys. But isn't all movies a bit of Fantasy? Just because Superman can fly or Spider-man sticks to walls, does that make their characters and movies less than realistic? What is reality when you have the likes of James Bond, Jason Bourne, Jack Bauer, John Mclaine and others portrayed as regular guys who beat impossible odds and villains? Doesn't their extraordinary strength and resolve display an ability in and of itself even if they cannot fly? As a fan of Batman and comic books, I feel that both are coming into understanding Batman, like most, by movie only. I grew up with some Batman stories and art that would make the movie pale in comparison. I was into Batman and comic books when it wasn't cool. Not to say that their opinions don't matter but I think it depends on the viewpoint and motivation. And, by the way, both Jay and Rob agree there is no need to include Batman's sidekick, Robin. That's a subject I will address shortly.

My take on all this is that The Dark Knight is NOT the greatest movie ever. In my opinion, it doesn't make it in the Top Ten of all time. Now you can base it on sales, which it will make a list of top money making movies but as far as a great movie, that's another subject itself. It will, and should be, considered as one of the best super-hero movies. On that I will agree.

The Dark Knight story is pretty average compared to Batman Begins or even the summer's other comic book related moview, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man or Wanted. It has really no development but just a series of events.

One character or actor does not make a movie. Heath Ledger SHOULD get an Oscar for his performance as The Joker. Javier Bardemin from No Country for Old Men won for his performance but critics and moviegoers have said that the movie was great up to its flat ending. I think people are going to remember Ledger's performance more than the movie and that should not be the basis of "Greatest Movie". A movie is a combination of some many factors as well as the people behind it.

The movie has crushed box office records and raked in millions. But so did Spider-Man 2, which I came close to walking out on.

One friend, "Ed", summed it up this way: "The last 20 minutes we could have did without". I agree.

Christopher Nolan is an excellent director but, I feel, this would have been a great time to set up Robin in the story. Not to include him the overall movie itself, there were too many characters in it already. Some may disagree because Robin is viewed as the downfall of Batman. If you read the Batman comics, Robin is the HOPE of Batman. He's not like anything that resembles the 60's camp version. He's lost his family, like Bruce Wayne and is a younger version of Bruce Wayne at a time when Bruce had no direction. Wayne helps to give him direction and purpose. Not including Robin in the story is like denying the legacy of the Batman story which includes an assortment of characters. It's like taking Frodo out of Lord of The Rings because you don't like that fact that he's always complaining about the ring. Robin is a part of Batman just like Commissioner Gordon, Harvey Dent and Gotham City. I have faith in Nolan's ability to include all of the Batman mythology with care and excellence. (That is if Nolan directs anymore of the Batman movies to come)

With all that said, I felt the movie was OK. Great action and, as far as superhero movies go, very good. I would like to see it on DVD when it's made available to hear the commentaries by the director and actors. But the outrageous claims of "greatest" and "best" by fans and critics has me at a loss.

The debate goes on and I guess I will continue to be the odd man out.

-Torrence King

"The Watchmen" Movie Review and Commentary


"The Watchmen" Movie Review and Commentary

Originally posted in Myspace, March 09, 2009

====================================== 


I went to see The Watchmen a few days ago And ALL I have to say is...AMAZING!

Even now, I still have images of the movie in my head….I’m still thinking about how director Zack Snyder literally pulled images from the graphic novel and recreated a motion picture masterpiece.

THE WATCHMEN IS THE GODFATHER OF COMIC BOOK MOVIES and NOT THE DARK KNIGHT!

I’m not here to write a long, detailed account of the movie.

But I will offer some commentary on the movie in relation to some points being made by CRITICS, FANBOYS AND MOVIEGOERS recently.

Since I'm not writing a complete review, I have provided the following movie review that, in some ways, I agree with more than others by the very talented Michelle Kerns of the Examiner.com (SEE AFTER THE FOLLOWING COMMENTARY)


I would like to address some points:

1) Greatest Comic Book Movie Ever (So Far…?)

This is, without a doubt, The Greatest Comic Book Movie Ever…at least so far…PLEASE…KEEP IN MIND there ARE still others to be made.

And please understand, I am not saying “Greatest Superhero” movie. There is a difference.

To this day, I feel that Superman starring Christopher Reeve is the Greatest Superhero Movie Ever because it was the first to take the genre of superheroes and comic books seriously and everything else that came after it has followed in its footsteps.

The Watchmen on the other hand is based on a comic book series released over 12 issues (1986-1987) and collected into one book...AND THATS IT! No more stories. No more adventures of the Nite Owl or Dr. Manhattan. NOTHING.

So, the movie had to be EXACTLY like the book or fans would have had Zack Snyder fed to the wolves!

2) The “Godfather” of Comic Book Movies and why I can’t understand The Dark Knight’s great appeal except for Heath Ledger’s outstanding performance or simply put….The Watchmen vs. The Dark Knight

OK. Everyone wants to compare current movies with those who have tested the strains of time. Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather is one of those (along with its great sequel) that rose above the fray of 70’s movies and endured as a legacy of great film making. It was filled with so many characters that carried the film and, not so much, centered around the exploits of just one person.

Everyone is looking for the one comic book movie that raises the bar to the Godfather's level of excellence.

The Watchmen, which time will tell if it does the same in regard to popularity, has similar points of plot and character layers.

In regard to the widely popular and highly successful Batman: The Dark Knight: The movie, I felt, was mostly centered around scenes with Christian Bale and Heath Ledger. I’ve watched the thing five times and cannot understand how this thing was so huge. The biggest issue I had was the EDITING….THIS IS one of my many problems with The Dark Knight.

Scenes, especially action sequences, are cut so fast that I cannot tell what’s going on. Heath Ledger’s Joker is the only thing that is worth watching and the ending is just plain ridiculous. Why does Hollywood insist on killing off a Batman villain in almost every movie??? THEY NEVER DIE!

BY THE WAY, Batman Begins is my favorite Batman movie…I felt it was WAY better than The Dark Knight….

Now, I would admit that one thing leads to the other…most of these comic book movies would not be here if not for the success of Blade, X-Men and, of course, Spider-Man….And all of those, I feel, were edited in a way that helps to viewer appreciate each scene…

Which leads me to one of the techniques used in some movies since it was used greatly in the first Matrix movie….THE SLOW-MO FIGHT SCENE!

I love the Slow-Mo Fight Scene…In The Watchmen, when Nite Owl II fights, breaking necks and punching, I can see what he’s doing….I can feel the crunching….I can take time to watch it ALL go down….

In The Dark Knight….YOU GET NOTHING!!….Did Batman punch the guy???? I don’t know, it happened so fast…I’m not sure.

Cue to director Christopher Nolan….The jail break scene in The Watchmen…THAT’S HOW BATMAN SHOULD FIGHT!!! (or watch the entire Bourne Identity trilogy or A History of Violence…those guys can fight AND YOU SEE IT!!!!!!)

Also, the Slow-Mo Fight Scene is perfect for action movies but works even better in comic book based action movies. Because comic book fans are readers and they appreciate a good fight scene or two….

Also, I like it because as an artist I can appreciate what I’m watching….because when I was reading comics with the superhero fighting and/or plasma blasting a villain drawn by great artists like Jim Lee, John Byrne, etc. I saw it happening...visualizing it off the page…

3) The Comic Book Fanboys-Geeks and Watchmen Book Readers VS. Regular Joe and Jane Movie-Goer or IF YOU DIDN’T READ THE BOOK…OH WELL

Now this debate over whether you can appreciate the movie for what it is vs. those who read the book is quite valid.

But what I got to say is….So what!!

For years, prior to the string of comic book/superhero based movies to come out since 1998, Hollywood tried to marry the comic book movie with successful box office receipts….which means COMPROMISING a little. So they began to throw everything but the kitchen sink in these movies to get the ALMIGHTY DOLLAR FROM THE REGULAR GUY AND GAL’S TIGHT HAND.

And I appreciate the valiant efforts of those who had throw a love story, a kidnapped love interest, a few jokes, touches of nostalgia and more to make Spider-Man, X-Men and others a BOX OFFICE HIT.

But, you know, every once in a while, can't they afford to throw the comic book fans a few bones???

I mean, (and this can be related to ALL comic book fans..AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!)…When I was a kid, I was called GEEK…NERD….AND EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE BULLY BOOK because I read comic books and would draw super-heroes…All this while everyone else was listening to and watching whatever was the HOT THING back then….I was in my bedroom at my desk finding out what would happen next to Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Superman, etc….And Everybody Else Didn't Care!

While we comic book readers were READING comic books just like others before us….EVERYONE ELSE LAUGHED…ALL COMIC BOOK READERS WERE LOOKED DOWN ON…EVEN OUR TEACHERS THOUGHT COMIC BOOKS WERE TRASH (FUNNY LOOK AT OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM NOW, THEIR USING COMICS TO HELP KIDS!) AND WE WERE THE ONES SHELLING OUT OUR MONEY TO SUPPORT OUR LOCAL COMIC BOOK STORES AND COMPANIES AND WRITERS AND ARTISTS…

IT WAS OUR HARD EARNED MONEY THAT WENT TO BUY ALL THOSE COMIC BOOKS…NOW, COLLECTING DUST IN OUR BOXES….NOW, SELLING THEM ON EBAY….

NOW, EVERYONE, THE SAME PEOPLE WHO THOUGHT COMIC BOOKS SUCKED AND TREATED US BAD, WANT TO NOW CRY: “OH, I LOVE SPIDER-MAN”…”OH, I LOVE BATMAN”…YOU SEE A MOVIE AND NO NOTHING ABOUT THE CHARACTER!

AND YOU THINK I CARE IF SOMEONE GOES TO SEE “WATCHMEN” AND DON’T LIKE IT???

THIS MOVIE IS FOR THE WATCHMEN GRAPHIC NOVEL READER….NO ONE ELSE…

IF YOU LIKE THE MOVIE DESPITE NOT READING THE BOOK, COOL…

IF YOU DON’T, WELL, WAIT UNTIL THE WOLVERINE MOVIE OR SPIDER-MAN 4 TO GET YOUR FIX OR YOU CAN TRY READING A BOOK FOR A CHANGE! YOU HAD OVER 10 YEARS TO READ THE WATCHMEN DAMMIT!

THE ONLY OPINION THAT REALLY MATTERS ABOUT THE WATCHMEN MOVIE IS THOSE WHO READ
THE WATCHMEN GRAPHIC NOVEL

(Please forgive my little rant....)

Here is the review posted by Michelle Kerns of the Examiner.com that I am in nearly total agreement:


The Watchmen movie review: what worked, what flopped, and how the movie measures up to the book by Michelle Kerns (Examiner.com)

March 7, 4:56 AM
....
Alan Moore's Watchmen has been one of my favorite books (#22 in my top 50, to be Dr. Manhattan-exact) since I first read it at the behest of a friend over 10 years ago.


*****A Word to the Wise: Spoilers follow, proceed with caution*****Seeing a film adaptation that could measure up to the depth and intelligence of the book seemed about as likely as a murderer's chances locked in a room with Rorschach; did Zack Snyder's movie version of Watchmen do it? Let's take a look at a breakdown of what worked, what flopped and how Watchmen, the movie measured up to Watchmen, the book.

What worked magnificently

The Comedian: Jeffrey Dean Morgan is pure genius as Eddie Blake, a.k.a The Comedian: he doesn't just look, talk, and act as if he leapt straight from the pages of the book, his apartment (complete with Hustler and girly poster on the wall) and his every gesture are dead on. The Comedian is the sort of character that, on the big screen, could easily look like a complete bastard that everyone hates; Mr. Morgan managed to make him as likeable as he is hateable -- fantastic.

The fight scenes:
Where to begin here? The fight between The Comedian and the intruder at the movie's beginning; Laurie and Dan taking on the knot-tops and then, later, the prison heavies; and Rorschach fighting pretty much the whole of the NYPD were graphic joys. I particularly loved the Nat King Cole "Unforgettable" touch during the movie's opening fracas. There is something about the surreal juxtaposition of a smooth golden-oldie being played over scenes of utter violence that makes my jaw drop in admiration.

The opening credit scenes: The history of the Watchmen, and their predecessors, the Minutemen, are covered in a nicely compressed fashion in this. Without leaving a jot or tittle out, Snyder managed to get across who the original masked avengers were, what happened to them, and where the new crop of heroes came from, all without a word uttered. That is, unless you count Bob Dylan's "The Times They are A-Changin'", a nice retro choice here.

The itsy bitsy details that only a Watchmen fan will recognize and appreciate: 


Where's the fun of making a film adaptation of a book if you don't
throw in a few nods here and there to the book's devoted fan base?
Snyder did more than throw Watch-heads a few bones in this movie; he practically coated the film from beginning to end with tiny details that, while they may not be noticed by people who haven't read the
book, will be adored and appreciated by the book's fans. From the Veidt label on the aerosol can that Rorschach uses to fend off the police in Moloch's house to the Gunga Diner balloon flying over the city, this is the kind of movie that I can see myself watching obsessively on DVD, trying to pick out more and more and more obscure Watchmen details with each viewing.

Rorschach: 


I loved Rorschach in the book; his film manifestation didn't lessen my admiration one bit. While his Clint-Eastwood-with-laryngitis voice bugged me at first, it soon grew on me. Jackie Earle Haley's interpretations of the dialogue were spot-on and his dead-pan Rorschach sans mask face was as identical to the book as it could get. I confess, I came dangerously close to tears at the end when he and Dr. Manhattan had their little Antarctica standoff. Additionally, I was thrilled that Rorschach's classic, "None of you understand. I'm not locked up in here with you. You're locked up in here with me," was kept in the prison scene. Now gentlemen, that's a man's man for you. A man after my own heart

Dan Dreiberg:


Where did they get this guy? He was fantastic -- the perfect mixture of decency, kindness, vulnerabiltiy, and danger. His relationship with Rorschach was well portrayed.

Dr. Manhattan:


Although I always imagined his voice to be deep and monotonous, after hearing Billy Crudup's interpretation, I realized how much better it was at simultaneously conveying the invincible man's weird combination of aloof detachment and emotion. His scenes with Laurie on Mars were outstanding.

The Comedian's funeral:


Although I didn't care much for the choice of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" here, the flashback scenes of Dan, Dr.
Manhattan, and Veidt were exceptionally well done.

What flopped miserably

The dry political bits at the beginning: 
I'm not sure why the McLaughlin Group take-off bits were considered to be a better kick-off for the movie than simply starting out of the gate with the Comedian's death. It might have been less daunting for viewers not familiar with Watchmen if the political yakking came after Blake flies out the window.

Adrian Veidt: 


Veidt was the only hero that didn't match his literary counterpart at all. The Veidt in the Watchmen book looked like a pretty-boy Ken doll on steroids; the Veidt of the movie looked like a twiggy English professor togged up in a Halloween costume. And this skinny guy is supposed to be able to take out the Comedian, Rorschach, and Nite Owl? Please. Also, a number of Veidt's harangues, especially the one he gives just prior to the "assassination" attempt, could have been cut substantially without doing harm to the movie.

The Ride of the Valkyries music during the Vietnam War scenes:
Are you kidding me? The scenes themselves were great, but that awful, awful Wagner in the background just made them seem corny. "The Ride of the Valkyries" should be reserved exclusively for German opera houses and the Loony Toons.

Not enough Rorschach: I was terribly disappointed that Rorschach's time with the psychologist ended up being compressed into one brief scene. Rorschach is really the headliner of the entire story, and the details revealed about him in the book as he talks about Kitty Genovese and his personal development into Rorschach are fascinating. With as good a Rorschach as Mr. Haley was, I would have killed to have seen more of him. Or, at the very
least, broken a few fingers to see more.

Rorschach chopping Blaire Roche's killer in the head:
It's not so much the blood and guts (or brains, if you will), that I
mind in this bit, but that it makes Rorschach look more like a blood
lusting lunatic than the avenger he is. I also sorely missed the
phoenix-like imagery that Rorschach describes to the psychologist when he talks about burning the killer's house down: how Walter Kovacs died that night and Rorschach was born.

Too much tits & ass:
I could have done with much less of the Dan and Laurie peep show and much more Rorschach. O.K., so Nite Owl is getting over being impotent, I get it. I don't need to see every detail. Anyway, Dr. Manhattan shows off enough of his electric blue to more than make up for them keeping their clothes on.

Dr. Manhattan as the bad guy:
I'm not certain why the squid/alien thing couldn't simply have remained
as the destroyer of New York City. Did it really make the story less
complicated to just have it all pinned on Dr. Manhattan? I don't think
so, especially since they had to keep harping on tachyons in order to
make the point.

How the Watchmen movie measures up to the Watchmen book

The Watchmen movie was stunning: it was visually spectacular and the details and character performances will keep Watchmen fans more than happy for years. No matter how hard it tries though, it doesn't come close to matching the emotional intensity and depth of the Watchmen book. There are too many parts of the book that the movie couldn't replicate effectively, such as the policeman talking about Blake's murder at the beginning of the book while their words are placed over the pictures showing Blake's death, or The Tales of the Black Freighter snippets mixed with the newspaper-man's conversations. It's a fantastic movie, but remains a better book.

We Examiners are such suckers for Watchmen, you could surf this site all day and not read it all. But at least give it a try. Take a look at these alternative thoughts about Watchmen, the movie:

The Graphic Novel Examiner, Kevin Smith's review of Watchmen

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Book Review: Brush With Passion: The Art and Life of Dave Stevens

Book Review: Brush With Passion: The Art and Life of Dave Stevens
Originally posted on Myspace: Sunday, February 22, 2009 _______________________________________
It has been a long time since I’ve written a book review but I’m more than compelled to do so at this late hour with the latest release, Brush with Passion, an excellent tribute and reflection on a great artist and person, Dave Stevens (1955-2008). Well, this is not a typical book review, I must say. Its more or less, a personal take on what I’ve read as well as my personal thoughts on Stevens. Before reading Brush With Passion, my mind went back to the time at the age of 11 when my cousin’s husband, a comic book fan and artist, gave me a set of comic books, mostly all independent publications . Two of them were a couple of Pacific Comics featuring Jack Kirby’s Silver Star and Dave Steven’s The Rocketeer. I thought they were very cool. It was the beginning of a realization that not all comics featuring super-heroes were only about Superman and Spider-Man. Dave Stevens was one of the first artists that I started to study and could recognize his distinctive style. From that point onward, I could spot a Dave Stevens illustration right away.

As the years went on I started to notice Stevens art in comics and pin-ups, especially the illustration he did of golden-age hero The Phantom Lady for DC Comics in their Who’s Who publication, among others. When The Rocketeer movie was scheduled to be released, I seem to be the only one among my friends who knew who “The Rocketeer” was and the guy who created him. I was probably among a “chosen” few who was more excited about it than Terminator 2 which was released around the same time.

Throughout my career, I began to expand my own artistic endeavors, writing poetry and experimenting with different mediums. I would soon find myself illustrating and working with various models, like Stevens, myself. I regret truly not having met Dave. If I had tried harder, I’m sure I could have made some connection. But, like most of us think, we tend to believe some people are untouchable or cannot be reached. I’ve worked with so many people and I’m sure if I had made an effort to contact him, it could have happened. Upon hearing about his death last year along with the young and talented artist Michael Turner, I took both losses pretty hard and have dealt with both emotionally ever since. Not just because they were both very talented artists, but, coming from an understanding of the creative process and the sacrifices made daily, I made my own “creative” connections with them as well as other artists, writers, poets, etc. throughout the years. When they pass on, it seems to take a piece of you with them. Its funny, but I felt more connected with them and saddened by their lost than my own father and my older half-brother who passed away in recent years. This feeling of connecting to these artists have always been my way of finding kindred creative souls. Maybe its because my father abandoned me and my sister when I was 6 and having my half-brother, who tried very little to be a brother to me, unable to get pass the issues of his own life fueled the need to connect to artists like myself. And so is the life of many creative souls, trying to connect to the one’s that influence them to create, making stronger connections than any bond of blood. And so goes my reading of Brush With Passion. When I purchased the book, I could feel that I was in for something special. I would have to read it immediately. That night, I turned on the music of the Irish Film Orchestra, playing a variety of suites. When I sat up on my bed with my new reading light, I opened the book to the first page. Within a matter of time, reading a few lines, the tears started to flow. The music didn’t help in stopping the waterworks but it suddenly fit the mood as I began to remember the times I came across various illustrations of Dave Stevens, finally watching the Rocketeer movie, the rumors I read about his depression after its disappointing box office receipts and other things I came to remember about him.

As I read each chapter throughout the week, I was both encouraged as an artist and satisfied with my purchase. One chapter in particular, Dave digs deep in reflecting on his life. He shows that being an artist is so much less glamorous than most would care to admit. And he hits the nail in his points that, like all of us artists, he started with a love for the printed image, the thrill of the sketch and a pursuit to create. Then reality steps in with everything in-between. But, as Stevens came to realize, one must take it all in stride and learn from each experience and work from there. Stevens, though very hard on himself for so long, eventually realized so much in his final years. That there is wisdom that does not come easy….It takes experiences and the inevitable ups-and-downs. I’m am so very grateful to have read “Brush With Passion”, despite the depictions of Africans that was a throwback to the racist illustrations of the 1940s and 1950s that Stevens strongly points out were wrong to portray. 


I feel I got to know Dave Stevens through his words, and his reflections and memories of others. He seemed to be a pretty cool guy. It would have been an honor to have known him but, I know his legacy will live on forever. --- Torrence King
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Below is a more detailed review published by greenmanreview.com

Available at: http://www.greenmanreview.com/index2


Dave Stevens (illustrator) and Arnie Fenner & Cathy Fenner (editors), Brush With Passion: The Art and Life of Dave Stevens (Underwood Books, 2008)


Brush With Passion: The Art and Life of Dave Stevens is an utterly gorgeous book. It's also a terribly sad one. This is not just due to the Stevens' untimely passing from hairy cell leukemia, nor is it entirely derived from the shoulda-woulda-coulda success of The Rocketeer. Instead, it comes from the reader's dawning realization that Stevens' autobiographical notes are the ongoing narrative of a man continually defining himself by what he's not -- not a comics artist, not the guy who's going to make a million doing The Rocketeer, not the guy who's going to replace Vargas doing pinups for Playboy, not this, not that. It's not until the very end of his life that Stevens seemingly figured out what he was, or more importantly, what he could be, and the fact that this was never given time to blossom is perhaps the saddest thing of all. But if there is sadness here, there is also beauty and joy. The joy comes from many places: the shared reminiscences of friends and peers like Jim Steranko and Arnie & Cathy Fenner; the pleasure that Stevens clearly took in sharing his influences and history with his audience, the unabashedly good deeds he did in helping out his muse Bettie Page, and more. This book is, after all, a celebration of the man's life as well as his art, and a celebration it is. One gets the sense, reading anecdote after fondly remembered anecdote, of the sheer love that these wildly disparate people all had for Stevens. Peers, employers, friends, lovers -- they all give testimony as to the depth to which Stevens enriched their lives. The last of these, an epilogue by the artist William Stout, is a graceful, hopeful remembrance that brings the story full circle, and which may just invoke a sniffle or two. That leaves the beauty, and there is beauty here a-plenty. The book is exceedingly lavishly illustrated. This is an illustrated life, after all, and the Fenners don't skimp. Everything necessary to telling the story is here, gorgeously reproduced and given detailed captions for explanation. Childhood iconography and family photos are included; so are pencil sketches, full color reproductions, movie storyboards, reference, and more. The end result is a book that is stuffed -- but not overstuffed -- with everything visually pertinent to Dave Stevens' career, both from his work and the world around him that provided his inspiration. It is, of course, the Stevens work that most readers will be eager to see, and that does not disappoint. Those who just know Stevens as “the guy who drew the Rocketeer” are in for a bit of a shock, as the full range of his work is on display here. That includes his non-PC homages, his Tarzan and Rocketeer work, the studies for the never-realized Mimi Rodin project, and most of all, the pinup art. There's lots and lots of it here, which is to say that anyone who opens the book and isn't prepared for an armada of magnificently rendered nude or semi-nude women is going to have a hard time getting past about chapter 8. The art itself is brilliant, unmistakably Stevens even when he was doing homage or rough pencil sketch. I'm no art critic, but even I can see the absolute vibrancy of the material, the energy that comes through in every image. It's clear that Brush With Passion is a labor of love, a lovingly assembled remembrance of a career that provided a great deal of memorable work. How fortunate we are, then, that Dave Stevens had such friends as these who were willing to produce a work like this; how even more fortunate that he was generous enough of spirit to set down his creative journey without excuses or lacunae. For both the sadness and the joy it contains, this book is a treasure of a kind, and well worth the time of anyone with even a passing interest in Stevens' life and work. [Richard Dansky]