Death Of The Superhero (Alan Moore)

Another month, another post about The Reading List, my ever-faithful and dear readers!

In case you haven’t read that article yet, which is okay, because I’ve only been writing about it once a month, I’ll give you a quick update.

The Reading List

Every month, I turn back to The Reading List for another book to read and another artist for you to consider in your own personal journey. My goal with this project is simple, I am challenging myself to read one book a month from 5 particular groupings. The 5 L’s of Language as I’ve come to call it.

  • LIFE – Biographies/Art/Music
  • LOVE – Classic Fiction/Non-Fiction/Graphic Novels
  • LEARN – Business/Leadership/Self-Help
  • LABEL – Philosophy/Sociology/Psychology
  • LEET -The Internet

But before I dig into this month’s grouping, I’m going to share with you something of an anecdote.

Alan Moore and The Killing Joke

A few weeks ago, I wrote a film review about a movie which had finally been adapted from a beloved stand-alone graphic novel. A story which has since inspired a generation of artists and furthered an ethos about the importance of Batman as a popular cultural icon. That review was on The Killing Joke, originally created by Alan Moore and Brian Bollard.

You see friends, the movie I reviewed was not endorsed by either party, and is definitely not a faithful adaptation.

The Killing Joke is well known in the comics community and has slowly been incorporated into other Batman media outlets like film and video games. Many critics considerate it to be the best Joker story of all time and one of the key Batman stories to read. I happen to agree with that last statement. And as I also mentioned in that review, Alan Moore has expressed personal regrets about ever having written it.

The logic from Moore being that he wanted to expand upon ideas of what superheroes were and could be, to reinvigorate the industry with silly and fun stories, radical stories, stories that made you consider them and recognize how bizarre comic books truly are. A challenge to the continuity and mythos of superheroes. But after Alan Moore made that story, the industry continued to darken and darken as a consequence, and the industry has never really snapped back since that dramatic shift.

But did you know that The Killing Joke was made in 1988 and is preceded by two other well known stand alone stories that Moore wrote? V For Vendetta also came out in 1988, and the  Watchmen series had previously wrapped up in 1987. Watchmen is in fact the first story to really breakdown the superhero genre in an epic way.

And both of those films enjoyed their own adaptations, also criticized by Moore for stripping the source and energy of the original stories. You see, dear readers, Alan Moore is the type of artist that believes in comic books, but has such a respect for them that he would rather he remove has name from any film adaptations then work with movie studios to produce a variation.

As a consequence of that rationale, rights have been sold for other Alan Moore works – From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Constantine.

This demonstrates rather well the power of his storytelling ability, the success he has had in the comic industry, and also the confidence he has in not compromising his art in order to make money.

Which is why if you haven’t guessed it yet, the grouping of the month is LOVE, because I love Alan Moore’s graphic novels. His spiritual and political views are somewhat different than my own,  him being a ceremonial magician and anarchist, but I think that adds to his value as an artist you should watch, because he brings an incredible dedication to his work and the best way to become a well rounded individual is to remove barriers and ignorance.

I’ll leave you with this quote from The Mindscape of Alan Moore, and let you ponder his frankness.

Yes, there is a conspiracy, indeed there are a great number of conspiracies, all tripping each other up … the main thing that I learned about conspiracy theories is that conspiracy theorists actually believe in the conspiracy because that is more comforting. The truth of the world is that it is chaotic. The truth is, that it is not the Jewish banking conspiracy, or the grey aliens, or the twelve-foot reptiloids from another dimension that are in control, the truth is far more frightening; no-one is in control, the world is rudderless.

What do you think? Have you read any of his work? Do you think he’s a genius, a lunatic or a bit of both? I have a theory or two on it.


Explicit Content (The Nice Guys review)

Pornography isn’t supposed to be intellectually stimulating, it’s supposed to arouse your sexual organs and get your mind on the topic of sexual intercourse. It generally exploits the sexual act, but sometimes there is a story to help the viewer get into a theme and turn them on.

But what if you throw politics into your pornographic video? Doesn’t it lose it’s lustre? Well, this week’s movie review explores exactly that, with some gratuitous results.




The Nice Guys (2016)

Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Margaret Qualley, Kim Basinger
Director: Shane Black
released on blu-ray August 23, 2016
********* 9/10


IMDB: 7.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, Audience Score 80%
The Guardian: ****/*****


Shane Black is an American writer, director, producer, and sometimes actor.

With a very interesting history in film, he has written the first two Lethal Weapon movies, The Monster Squad, The Last Boy Scout, Last Action Hero, and disaster The Long Kiss Goodnight before venturing into the realm of director a decade later in a great career recovery. As a writer/director he has been responsible for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3 (which Chris loves to remind me is basically the same movie as KKBB) and now The Nice Guys. It should also be noted that he has The Predator sequel, The Destroyer, and Doc Savage on his plate to release in the next few years.

Are you get a theme here folks? Black is excellently prepared to create action based movie, especially those which fit inside of noir universes. So where does The Nice Guys fit into this mix, you ask?

Well, it’s kind of an amazing story about two second-rate PIs that initially start out at odds but end up working together to investigate what is supposed to be the suicide of a Los Angeles porn star in the 1970s. One of the men, Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is hired by the victims aunt to find Misty, as the aunt believes Misty is still alive. March is somewhat skeptical, but takes the job. He then finds out that a missing girl named Amelia Kutner (Margaret Qualley) is involved. Amelia hires enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) to keep March off her trail. But after he is jumped by two thugs looking for Amelia, Healy realizes they are part of something larger, and involves March so they can work together to solve the Misty Mountain suicide. March’s teenage daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) tags along as well, as she doesn’t think March will follow through.

The two PIs and Holly eventually unravel a much larger plot that involves an experimental porn/documentary which Misty Mountains starred in, and which Amelia helped create. The video exposes how Detroit automakers are working with the government to prevent a mandatory inclusion of catalytic converters into new vehicles. Amelia’s mother Judith Kutner (Kim Basinger) is an important official in the US Department of Justice, but it turns out she is part of the conspiracy as well, and has been working with the thugs to confuse March and Healy.

Ultimately, March and Healy are able to get a copy of the film to the police after it is shown at an auto show as part of a secret protest by the projectionist Misty and Amelia worked with. Judith goes to jail, but the Detroit automakers are immune from charges. Healy and March decide to continue to work together, and name their agency, The Nice Guys.

It is an excellent story wrapped about a buddy cop comedy, and featuring a healthy amount of self-aware violence and dark humour. The chemistry between Crowe and Gosling is undeniable, but Angourie Rice is excellent as the bright-eyed, yet sharp, Holly. Her inclusion manages to elevate a form of filmmaking that has seen better years.

Pros: It’s oddly refreshing given that the premise of the story is about clean air and dirty pictures. The contrasting styles of it’s two male leads, and the absurdist situations they get themselves into well keep you engaged. And the conscious efforts of young Holly March provide a ground.

Cons: The story felt a little pressured to follow through in places, it might have been nice (intentional pun) to see some breathability between scenes and set changes.

Runtime1 hour 56 minutes

Points of Interest: As the movies starts, and Holland March is monologuing, a porno theatre is playing a movie called Bang Bang Kiss Kiss. Shane Black films typically feature Christmas in them, this one has a scene towards the ends that takes place at Christmas.

This film features incredibly common action tropes of people being thrown through windows, traditional explosions, and shootouts. But the action is never the centre of the story, rather it reminds you how odd sex and death are, and makes your head shake as work through the plot of the film. The Nice Guys is a buddy cop comedy for this generation, a little more sophisticated, but not completely removed from it’s history.




The Nice Guys doesn’t get too hung up on the pornography itself or even the industry as it’s story progresses along, but it does find an avenue to engage it’s audience in a rather intense way. This has a lot to do with Black’s familiarity with the action and comedy genres, and his ability to use both in interesting ways. The Nice Guys aren’t really that nice, but they get the job done.

Never Change (Descendents, Hypercaffium Spazzinate review)

If I were ever to write a personal ad for music, it might look something like this.

Man seeking a band, must have a sense of humour, honesty, authenticity, and ferocity. Experience with bullshit, but zero tolerance for it preferred. Please apply within.

I hope there are some souls out there that can answer the call.




Descendents – Hypercaffium Spazzinate
released July 29, 2016
********* 9/10


The Descendents are an American punk rock band which formed in 1977. It wasn’t until 1980, however, that they really became punks and a major player in the LA scene. This was when Stevenson brought on his school friend Milo Aukerman as the lead singer. The Descendents have released a total of seven studio albums now over their 24 year plus career, and the current lineup includes singer Milo Aukerman, guitarist Stephen Egerton, bassist Karl Alvarez, and drummer Bill Stevenson.

A lot of people will tell you that Milo Goes To College (from 1982) is their best, but I will whole-heartedly disagree. Their last album, Cool To Be You, was released in 2004 and holds up amazingly well, with all of the energy and unique perspective that the group always brings to the table.

This energy is what has influenced a plethora of pop punk and skate punk bands and especially some of my personal favourites – Blink 182, NOFX, Fall Out Boy, Green Day, The All-American Rejects, and The Offspring.

But let’s talk about Hypercaffium Spazzinate. It’s what you’re here for after all.

These gents play the kind of punk rock that transcends the typical limitations of the genre because while they do enjoy some of the simple chords and hooks, the content is always quite intelligent and relevant to where they are in the current lives. That and those chords evolve over each song, taking tracks into some more epic. For instance, Limiter is one of my favourite tracks and a song about Aukerman’s son, who is taking medication and which Aukerman believes is limiting his potential for success in life. It starts simply enough, but watch the melody progress along, it’ll take you by surprise.

They continue to mix a perfect blend of irritation about certain elements of life with a quality of sound that hasn’t been lost due to age. They even address this legacy with self-referential tracks like No Fat Burger and Beyond The Music. Asking you to reflect with them and also laugh at how their problems may have changed, but they still complain in the same ways.

Of course there are catchier tracks like On Paper, which is a great joke about those of us with well organized portfolios, resumes, and internet dating profiles, but without presence of purpose in person. And of course Testosterone is a modern replacement of the previous efforts to counterattack against the mainstream cool, this time focusing on those who will trample all for career bullion.

And when you listen to Smile, you can’t help but do so yourself. Because these guys are punk rock nerds, and are making exactly the kind of music that we need goofy, clever, and full of heart. This band continues to hit the same notes, but they never seem limited by their sound, it’s an ever-present blend of satire and whimsy.




The Descendents are the kind of musicians you could take home to your mom, but which you could also bring out to party with. They continue to make music at their own pace, and no matter what the call is, they answer it with silly and salty punk rock. Hopefully they keep that shameless halo on their list of special skills.



Stick A Pin In It (Pinterest)

Today’s post, dear readers is all about keeping track of your scrapbook in a digital age, or as I like to call it…

Everything you wanted to know about Pinterest, but didn’t know you wanted to know, in a thousand words or less.

Way way back in roughly 1500 BC, somewhere in Mesopotamia, the tool we commonly call scissors was invented. Scissors are used for a number of reasons, from agriculture and animal husbandry, to food preparation, to body grooming, to metalwork, to medical work, to clothes making.

We don’t even realize how often we use them in our lives, because they have been around and integral to all kinds of cultural activities.

If we fast forward to westernized culture from the 20th century, people were scrapbooking interesting pictures of their dream house, that wedding dress they wanted to hand-make, all of the chili recipes they could get their hands on, a group of furniture pieces collaged together that a future living room would feature, lists of exercises, movie ticket stubs, travel photos, articles about Clint Eastwood and Helen Mirren, you name it, people saved it in a book.

Then the age of computers rolled around, and we went from storing paper, to saving images. We all did it. There was a folder labelled Photos, another labelled Photos 2, Nice photos, Brad’s images, and Family Trip ’03. But even that phase of saving images was not destined to be a force majeure for long.

Eventually social media started to develop and digital connectivity pushed forward to allow for new ways of sharing information. Especially images. That was 6 years ago.

Then one day in March of 2010, a new website launched which was touted as a way to save images and categorize them on boards. The website also allowed users to share boards, and save others content in their own boards. And best of all it was free to use.

Pinterest is a rather elegant and simple solution for something which we’ve been doing for generations, but now we have the ability to make our scrapbooks shareable and even use them for digital storefronts of our brands and products. Recently CEO Ben Silbermann has identified the web and mobile app as a catalog of ideas. Which as we all know, appeals to me greatly.


This article by Wired probably says it best, but I think this section of the article is particularly important in understanding what Pinterest does so well.

It’s a quiet overachiever. The social service offers a clean, efficient interface where people can save images or discover new ones… But subtle is its own strategy. Beneath the surface, the company has made significant changes. Silbermann believes they can help transform the digital pinboard he and cofounders Evan Sharp and Paul Sciarra invented into the dominant global visual search engine. He thinks they will drive new people to try Pinterest and spend more time on it. “We’re trying to build a catalog of ideas for the entire world,” he says. “It’s only as good as the diversity of ideas inside it.”

Pinterest Basics

Pinterest is very simple while being intuitive and allows you to choose how much of an investment you are willing to put forward. It is infinitely customizable, but rather than waxing poetic, why don’t I get technical for you friends?

1. Sign Up. When you sign up can choose to link either your Facebook or Twitter account. This is mostly to help you find an existing network of contacts to follow, and who can follow you back,

2. Your Profile I highly recommend creating a username that either aligns with your existing accounts AND/OR with your company name. You should also consider using the same photo as well from other accounts too.

3. Your Settings. Spend some time messing with the email notifications and decide whether you’ll receive emails for likes, comments or repins. I would also recommend installing the Pin It button so that you can add content anywhere and anytime to Pinterest.


4. Adding Pins. This is pretty straightforward, but you can either save a pin from Pinterest or if you are on another website you have the option to pin images when you hover over them. Some browswers like Chrome has a Pinterest button at the top of the page which groups all of the images on a webpage for you to choose from. Once you’ve saved a pin, you can choose a board to pin it to and also write some info about the pin.


5. Adding Boards. Almost as easy as adding a pin. Depending if you come from your profile or elsewhere on the internet, you can either click the “Create a board” or “+” buttons. I recommend giving your board a clear name so that your followers know what they are getting themselves into when they check it out. You can also add other pinners to your boards, and even decide if these boards are private or for public consumption.


6. Like & Comment. This is useful when you like content, but don’t want to pin it. This way, the pinner gets some feedback and you can carry on.

7. Uploading Pins. This is specifically for your own content. Click the “+” button and follow the directions to add from a URL or via direct upload.

My Pinterest Account

Last but not least, I’ve started my own Pinterest account to share art I make with you, music and movies I review, and content I think you should be absorbing. I’ll keep working to make better and more frequent use of the account. But I think this is a good place to start.

What do you think folks? Did you learn something about Pinterest? I hope you take the time to set up your account because no matter what kind of artist you are, there is value to be had in using a digital catalog of ideas. But that’s just a theory.


Post-Apocalyptic Triangulation (Z for Zachariah review)

People are sick. They have an odd fascination with the end of the world as we know it. EOTWAWKI for short. But the problem with the EOTWAWKI is that it’s been done so many time in film, music, visual art and literature now, that we don’t really react to it as viscerally as we should.

I blame it on summer blockbusters, but that’s just my theory. Now, where it gets interesting is when we start to explore movies that deal with the subtleties of what could happen both during and post. Today’s review is about the later.




Z For Zachariah (2015)

Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Margot Robbie, Chris Pine
Director: Craig Zobel
released on blu-ray October 20, 2015
******** 8/10


IMDB: 6.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%, Audience Score 45%
The Guardian: ***/*****

Craig Zobel is an American director, who got his start as a co-founder of the animated web series Homestar Runner. If you don’t know anything about Homestar Runner, you need to go check it out right now. Stop reading this review and watch some episodes of the show. Start with the back catalogue first, especially the Strong Bad Emails. Done? Good.

How weird is it that the guy who made that show is making serious movies now? I find it very unsettling, especially considering how much I enjoyed Z for Zachariah. And the fact that Zobel also directed Compliance, a 2012 movie about the strip search prank call scam that happened in the United States in the early 2000s.

Z for Zachariah is the story of a woman named Ann (Margot Robbie) who has survived nuclear war. She is living on her family farm in the middle of a valley – which has somehow been sheltered from the fallout, with the exception of water that comes over the falls from the mountains. She has a good routine which involves feeding both her and her dog, tending the land, and enjoying music and books.

One day a stranger (Chiwetel Ejiofor) enters the valley in a radiation suit. He was working in a government bunker and avoided the initial attacks, but has definitely been effected by the radiation and loneliness from searching for survivors. When he stumbles upon Ann’s valley, he immediately goes to the falls to clean himself, but Ann jumps out and warns him of the radiation. The man gets sick, and she cares for him until he is well, asking God that he might live. We learn his name is John Loomis, and both Ann and John begin to trust one another.

At one point John suggests that they build a waterwheel to divert the water and generate power, however because it would require a break down of the community church that Ann’s father built, she is reluctant to do so, and John drops the subject. Their chemistry and sexual tension increases over time as well, and just as the relationship is about to blossom another stranger shows up. His name is Caleb (Chris Pine) and he has a different perspective on how events should play out than John.

This is where the story gets interesting, a love triangle forms between the three characters, with conflict between John wanting Ann for himself, wanting her happiness, distrust for Caleb and Ann caught in the middle. We get to witness the full range of emotions that each character has about the other two, without a ton of dialogue. In some ways, it simplifies the plot, but in others it sets the story up for a rather poignant ending, which I won’t ruin because I think it’s worth saving.

Pros: It is a very thoughtful story, albeit somewhat slow in it’s pacing. But with the decision made, it allows the viewer the opportunity to really mull over what has been seen and wonder whether characters are committing deeds out of love or self-love.

Cons: The movie struggles with knowing when to speed up and really make a choice about it’s message. We are left to fill in a few of the gaps ourselves.

Runtime1 hour 38 minutes

Points of Interest: Based upon a book by Robert C. O’Brien, the love triangle is not in the original story, which only featured Ann and John.

This is a nuanced and interesting take on the post-apocalyptic film. Chiwetel Ejiofor gaves a nuanced performance and makes you question his character though he is set up as the sympathetic male lead from the start. Margot Robbie of course delivers with a range of emotions and her obvious naïveté as a young woman who doesn’t know what to do. She pulls it off well. And of course, Chris Pine is always charming and interesting with his devil-may-care attitude. While Z for Zachariah s not quite the same thing as the book, Zobel manages to construct an interesting story all the same.




This post-apocalyptic movie is definitely a slow go, but it does ask the question – what if you had all the time in the world? What would you do? And then what would you do if all of a sudden there was a possibility that you had to suffer as a third wheel in an infinite loop? Zobel manages to expose these shifts in power and opportunity, never revealing what each characters true motivations are. I doubt you’ll catch many Z’s after watching this one, but that’s just a theory.