Monthly Archives: August 2014

The High Cost of Divorce.

     It’s quite expensive to end a marriage that cost only $15 to file a license for.  Lawyer fees, court costs, alimony, child support, etc.  Financially it can be a true drain.  That isn’t the worst of it, though.  There are far greater issues that drain one.

     The emotional drain is unbelievably strenuous.  It’s even far worse when one wishes things could have turned out differently.  I was in, yet another hearing, today with my ex wife.  We sat directly across from one another.  There we were two people who had shared the most intimate parts of our lives acting as if we had never met.  She had held me in contempt of court for being unable to fulfill my financial obligations.  I lost my job a year ago, but have employment now, however, I earn half of what I used to make.  Yet, she expects the same amount of support that she used to get.  I wish I could supply it, however, I can only give her seventy five percent of it.  Again, it sounds strictly financial.

     The most difficult part of this ending of a love is the pain, when children are involved.  All  I want is to be able to spend time with them.  Whether we’re swimming, watching Star Trek or I’m trying to teach them how to play baseball, it’s an amazing time for all of us.  Certain parents use their children as weapons against their former spouse.  That isn’t the right thing to do, though.

     I attempted to end my marriage with as little bitterness as one can have with a person one loved, yet no longer could share their lives with.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t reciprocated.  I really never wanted a divorce, however, when one is told they are no longer loved or desired and that they may never live in the same residence, again, one takes the hint.  Eventually, one has to move on.

     Am I bitter?  I suppose I am a little.  Am I angry?  Not any more.  Can I teach my kids how to handle relationships better?  I believe so.  I wish my ex wife the best.  I hope she finds whatever this world can offer her so that she can finally find the happiness she has searched for and I could not provide.  I also hope I can spend many more lovely lazy summer days with my kids and hear their laughter.  Marriage is so beautiful, when one finds their perfect partner.  Always remember that.

~Brian Holder



A Review

Say what you will about the perceived problems Warner Bros. has getting the live-action movies of its DC line up and running, but the same cannot be said concerning the other platforms the studio uses to profit off its superheroes. Strongly rated and respected animated and live action television shows, mega-selling video games, exclusive merchandising with chain stores, and, of course, the foundation of published monthly comic books all serve to keep to keep the DC brand profitable and distinct while the big budget tentpole movies are attempted. Another facet of WB’s superhero machine is its direct-to-video animated movies that are released like clockwork every four months to such solid acclaim and robust revenue that they are taken for granted or, worse, expected to fall in quality sooner rather than later. Happily, the newest entry, BATMAN: ASSAULT ON ARKHAM, doesn’t drop the ball and, in fact, fits right alongside standouts like UNDER THE RED HOOD and ALL-STAR SUPERMAN as the best of the currently twenty-one entries’ deep collection.

ASSAULT is a movie that has many ingredients drawn from WB/DC’s formidable cupboard of options that will appeal to comic book fans, movie geeks, and videogames enthusiasts while still being an easily accessible good time for any viewer coming to the material cold. The film has been advertised as a loose adaptation of the hit ARKHAM series of video games featuring the Dark Knight, but the emphasis is on the word loose because while Batman is definitely in this one, the story revolves more around characters from the DCU that can be charitably called C-listers like Captain Boomerang, Killer Frost and KGBeast. That’s an odd choice to make on its face but Jay Oliva and Ethan Spaulding, Heath Corson, and Andrea Romano as co-directors, screenwriter, and voice director, respectively, make it all work so well that screams of Yahtzee! will echo when the credits roll.

In a nutshell, the Riddler has information belonging to government spymaster the Wall, Amanda Waller, forcing her to put together a version of Task Force X, the Suicide Squad, to infiltrate Arkham Asylum to get it back and/or rub out the Master of Puzzles with a modicum of fuss. That’s easier said than done since the Suicide Squad is and always has been made up of a volatile mix of super-villains be they abused psychopaths in mad love (Harley Quinn), contract killers doing a job (Deadshot and Black Spider), or muscle just looking to make victims bleed (King Shark). Waller keeps them relatively in line with implanted nanotech explosive charges that she doesn’t hesitate to use if they go off script as a member finds out relatively early when he tries to go against her. Of course, any incursions into Gotham City by outsiders, especially a gang of federally-sanctioned murderers, will bring out the Bat, who has his own case to crack, and wherever Dr. Harleen Quinzel goes her spitefully sadistic Puddin’, Mister J, the Joker is sure to follow.

That’s a combustible mix with a lot of unstable parts to keep track of but again credit to Heath Corson for crafting a screenplay that never fills overstuffed with extraneous nods and winks to comic book minutia. The plot allows the whole of the main cast to make their unique marks while letting better known characters like Commissioner Gordon, Alfred, and the Penguin drop in and out of the fun. Actually, the story despite its large cast is lean and mean with a pitiless tone reminiscent of DREDD and THE RAID: REDEMPTION as well as more obvious influences like THE DIRTY DOZEN, OCEAN’S ELEVEN, and RESERVOIR DOGS. There are even blink-and-you-miss-them references to THE DARK KNIGHT and BATMAN ’66 with nods to Denzel Washington, JAWS, and a final scene homage (since it’s the Suicide Squad though rip-off probably works better) right out of the last few lines of the Richard Bachman (Stephen King) short story, THE RUNNING MAN.

Corson’s deft plot and dialogue is well-served by the feature’s look and sound. With ASSAULT, directors Jay Oliva and Ethan Spaulding have brought the art direction back up to the usual high standards of the DC animated collection after the flat, uninspired style of the previous two entries this year, JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR and SON OF BATMAN, which are passable for lesser animated offerings but crude and shoddy when placed next to the superior earlier ‘toons and this one. Perceptive comic art aficionados can see the resemblance in the art to the expressionistic style of Luke McDonnell, the long-time penciller of the Suicide Squad book from the late 80’s, and a dash of Mike Vosburg, another respected sequential artist and animator, sprinkled in as well.



Andrea Romano bats clean up in this murderer’s row of behind-the-scenes talent by assembling another outstanding cast of face and voice actors to give the crackle to the sizzle of Corson’s plot and the crunch of Oliva and Spaulding’s visuals. Stand-bys like CCH Pounder, Neal McDonough, and the immortal Kevin Conroy mesh with newcomers and, by no means lesser, replacements like Giancarlo Esposito, John DiMaggio, Hynden Walch, and Troy Baker to give voice to this motley choir with Walch’s Harley Quinn as the undisputed soloist. The echoes of the original Harley, Arleen Sorkin, are there but Walch on her own takes Harley from being the Joker’s henchwench to a fully realized wildcard who will just as soon rip off an ear as crawl into an alpha male’s bed to relieve some stress. The entire cast is top-notch but Walch is a first among equals here.

BATMAN: ASSAULT ON ARKHAM once again is an appreciated return to tiptop shape for fans of the WB/DC animated films with story, art direction, animation, and voice acting all meshing perfectly to let the bad guys of the DCU swipe the spotlight from the morally upright heroes who normally get all the shine. Batman’s name is on the title but make no mistake this is through and through a Suicide Squad movie which lets the villains have all the fun. Warner Bros. and DC have taken some criticism the past few years for choosing a murkier road to take its characters down than its competitors but that’s nothing to be looked at as a flaw when the results are as darkly glittering as this presentation which unapologetically offers up a wickedly sinister story wrapped with a bow made of nasty humor and some of the old ultraviolence used as wrapping paper. The tenor of a piece means nothing if all the parts don’t come together whether it’s dark or day-glo so enjoy the light while always giving the darkness its due with a loud and healthy YAHTZEE!

Nicer guys you could find in hell.

Nicer guys you could find in hell.

NOTE: This film while animated is definitely not for kids unless the tykes are allowed to watch stuff dripping with graphic violence, strong language, and sexually suggestive scenes. If so, let ‘em enjoy but if not, let them watch TEEN TITANS GO! instead.

Jason O. Logan

Is Happiness A Lie Part 1

A crew that robbed pharmacies to feed his drug addictions. At the end The movie his character said “Most People do not know how they are Going to feel from moment to moment. But a dope fiend has pretty Good idea. All they got to do is look At the labels on the little bottles.” How often have you or one of your Friends gone to the psychiatrist and Told them you’re feeling some kind of negative feeling and there answer Has been well, there is a drug for that?Think about it if we feel depressed There are antidepressants. If we feel Anxiety there are medications like Xanax. If we are feeling unfocused we can take adderall. We take so many Of these medications to relieve ourselves stresses that there is a best seller A book called prozac nation. I feel we do this to chase happiness, 

But what happens when those two dollars do not get you happiness? I feel people, then turn to illegal drugs. Whether your drug of choice is crystal Meth,heroin, or cocaine the common thread on why those users take it I feel is chasing happiness. People who are addicted to these drugs will trade a tiny hit at cost of their job, a friendship, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a family member, even their last dollar. And once hooked to these drugs, there is no more concern for your well being. Just how much of this drug do I have to take two feel better today? And sometimes these drugs lead to overdose and suicide. Just this year we have lost Phillip Seymour Hoffman to a hearing overdose and it think that a longstanding cocaine addiction was of the causes that led to Robin Williams committing suicide. But are drugs the only way people chase happiness? More on that in part 2. 

Contributor- Kyle Gerst 

Top 5 Things You Do Not Say to Star Trek Fans

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey


1. The number of times this crappy show has ripped off Star Wars is astounding!

2. Data’s character is not compelling. His lack of humanity makes him impossible for me to relate to. He is dull and uninteresting.

3. Deep Space 9 is by far the worst Star Trek series ever. It is basically a soap opera in space with an unlikeable captain who should have been charged with war crimes.

4. The only thing that made Voyager watchable was 7 of 9’s outfit. 

5. The opening to every Enterprise episode has proven to the world that Jerry Goldsmith is an unnecessary contributor to Star Trek music.

Disclaimer: The statements made above are for satire only and do not necessarily reflect the views of the writer.

Next Monday: Top 5 Things You Do Not Say to Doctor Who fans

The wonderful and wacky world of Professional Wrestling

     Although largely laughed at by the mainstream as nothing more than a soap opera watched by men, professional wrestling has played a big part in our national consciousness for most of the twentieth and the beginning of this century.  Although, as a sport, wrestling can trace it’s roots to the ancient Greeks, it wasn’t until the latter nineteenth century that it began to grow in popularity.  At that time, wrestlers traveled with carnivals for their bouts.  By the beginning of the twentieth century, promoters, business men who had stables of wrestlers working for them in specific locations, came together and created the first national organization of their promotions.  The National Wrestling Association was formed in 1904, crowning the first recognized world heavy weight champion, George Hackenschmidt.  The road would get bumpy, though, as egos and money caused the promoters to clash.  The original NWA began to fray by the mid 1940’s.

    In 1948, a new group of promoters pulled together and from the ashes of the National Wrestling Association they formed a new organization.  The National Wrestling Alliance was born.  For twelve years, they were the only wrestling available, but stars were born.  Names like Lou Thesz, Verne Gagne, Nature Boy Buddy Rogers and most notably Gorgeous George became weekly companions to television viewers in this new medium.  RCA once released a statement that the afore mentioned Gorgeous George sold more televisions for them than any advertising, due to his antics in the ring.  Things were about to drastically change with one name very familiar to people, today, being a catalyst for it.

     Minnesota native, Verne Gagne had become a real superstar.  He was one of the first professional wrestlers to get endorsement deals on television.  He began to appear on everything from cereal commercials to fitness magazines.  It was decided that he would defeat wrestling’s other huge draw, Lou Thesz.  Thesz had a lot of pull though and disliked losing the prestigious NWA title.  He felt it was unbecoming for him to lose to such a young man and the plan was nixed.  Gagne, displeased, decided to start his own rival promotion, the American Wrestling Association.  He immediately had a tournament, where he crowned himself the first AWA world heavyweight champion.  The AWA would eventually cooperate with the NWA, but there were always tensions that caused there never to be a unified champion between the two.

     In the early 1960’s, Jesse McMahon handed his New England based promotion to his son, Vince McMahon, Sr.  McMahon Sr. had two of the hottest NWA stars in his territory, Nature Boy Buddy Rogers and Bruno Sammartino.  Rogers, like Gagne was selected to defeat Thesz for the NWA title.  Thesz initially agreed, feeling that the brash arrogant young heel (bad guy) would be a great champion.  He later changed his opinion, on a carpooled ride with Rogers.  Rogers wanted to cut out legend and mentor to Thesz, Ed “Strangler” Lewis, because he felt that he and Thesz could make off with a larger purse.  Thesz then refused to be pinned by Rogers.  The NWA was about to see it’s second split.

     Although Rogers was finally awarded the NWA title in 1961, by defeating Pat O’Connor , he was defeated two years later, by Thesz.  McMahon was infuriated that the NWA board refused to grant a rematch.  Like Gagne, before him, McMahon left the NWA and started his own promotion, the WWWF and crowned Nature Boy Buddy Rogers it’s inaugural world heavyweight champion.

     Tensions slacked and it was a regular thing to see stars and champions from these rival promotions working in each others shows.  During this time, huge stars would be born.  Names like Andre the Giant, Bruno Sammartino, Ric Flair,Dusty Rhodes and Randy Savage became the new norm.  Two names in particular would radically change the landscape and lay the ground work for the way wrestling is handled, today.  Those names are  Vince McMahon, Jr. and Hulk Hogan.  

     All three major promotions were flourishing in the late seventies and early eighties.  Feuds like Ric Flair and Harley Race in the NWA and Bob Backlund  and Superstar Billy Graham in the WWWF were sell outs.  Gagne’s AWA was on top of the wrestling world, scoring a highly desired cable deal, with ESPN.  His biggest stars were embroiled in a feud that Gagne would inevitably flub and would be the beginning of the end for his company.  That feud was AWA champion and an up and comer, Hulk Hogan.

     Hogan had been released by the WWWF in the late seventies only to find Greg Gagne, Verne’s son offering him a job.  Hogan accepted and took what he had seen done by Superstar Billy Graham and Ric Flair and formed a movement many people know…Hulkamania.  Verne did not like the idea of a non “wrestler”  winning the AWA title.  After defeating Bockwinkel, Verne stripped Hogan of the title.  Hogan was upset, not only for that, but Verne also wanted a cut of the merchandising that he was selling personally.  By this time, Vince McMahon, Jr. had assumed the mantel of head of the renamed WWF.  He saw Hogan as his ticket to the big time.  He began talent raids on both the NWA and more notably the AWA.  He also made his new acquisitions sign exclusive contracts, a first in wrestling history.  The dawn of the age of Wrestlemania had arrived.

     In the late 1980’s the NWA was once again flailing.  It’s Memphis territory had aligned with the AWA.  The Texas based WCCW had also split as a new independent promotions, with loose ties to the rapidly declining AWA.  The WWF had taken most of the biggest names in wrestling into their fold and wouldn’t share.   Powerhouse Midsouth also split from the NWA to form the UWF. The results were much like things were in the 1940’s and early 1960’s.  To make matters worse for the NWA, it’s biggest promotion, Jim Crockett promotions sold out to billionaire mogul Ted Turner and was renamed WCW and it slit from the NWA. The 1990’s would look totally different than any previous era.

     In 1989, WCCW merged with Memphis, for a brief run as the USWA, before closing it’s doors in the mid 1990’s.  In 1991, with outrageous debt amassed, Gagne closed the doors on the AWA.  McMahon had won, for a while.  The NWA wasn’t finished, though.  It’s territory in Pensilvania, Eastern Championship Wrestling was doing quite well, but as usual, for the NWA nothing was that easy.  Promoter, Paul Heyman split from them and renamed his promotion Extreme Championship Wrestling.  Ted Turner wanted his company to succeed and did to McMahon what he had done to Gagne.  He started a massive recruitment drive, under the direction of Eric Bischoff.   The result was the Monday Night Wars.  Two wrestling shows simulcast on competing networks.  These two shows had a massive impact not only on that sport, but even Monday Night Football. The NFL had never received rating so low in it’s history.  It prompted ABC to move MNF to ESPN.  Again things were about to settle, though. The year 2001 would be a year only one promotion would completely dominate.

     By the year 2001, Ted Turner no longer owned WCW and Time Warner no longer wanted wrestling. Heyman’s ECW had suffered greatly by the talent raids by both WWF and WCW and closed shop.  Vince Jr. purchased both companies and in time once again renamed his company World Wrestling Entertainment.  Although the NWA still exists and there are rival promotions, like TNA and ROH, the WWE is the king of the hill, so to speak.  McMahon has purchased many of the libraries of the old territories and releases them on DVD and his network.  In today’s day and age, there aren’t the options that there were for American wrestling fans.  Love him or hate him though, Vince McMahon still provides that wacky fix for all fans of such a nonsensical sport that only people who can suspend their disbelief for three hours a week  to enjoy.

Brian Holder

Anime verses Manga

This has been a debate among my friends for quite some time now. Which is better, anime or manga? I know some people will argue for one, and some people the other, while the third group (which I fall into) will say both!

Well, let’s look at this for a moment…

Manga is hand-drawn frames that the reader needs to imagine the connecting pieces, because they are given only the main points of the story. The details in a manga can be much more defined and intricate. Also, manga can contain more bits of a story and can therefore have several off-shoot stories about either the main characters or supporting characters. Manga also gives the reader more leeway in how they pieces of the story connect. Any reader of manga can tell you that if an anime is made of a manga they have read, some of the details are not how they imagined them while reading. This is especially true during the fight scenes. The reason is that each reader has a different mind-frame and thus may picture something happening differently than the manga-ka intended. And, they also already have the background story before watching the anime, which gives them a greater depth of knowledge about the characters (especially the minor ones).

Anime on the other hand, is more colorful and give the story more depth visually, and the entire sequence of the story is shown (the watcher does not have to fill in the blanks so to speak). But, unlike manga, the scenes tend to be less detailed and unimportant things are given a soft treatment (meaning they are not as defined and intricate). Also, anime tends to have a more strict story-line and does not deviate from the “vital” information very much nor very often. In this, anime gives you everything that you see, there is not real ability to add to the missing pieces as there is in manga, because there are no missing pieces. Of course, what is not shown can still be imagined, but those are usually minor parts of the larger story. Opposite of reading the manga first and then watching the anime, is those who have seen an anime first and then learned that there was a manga. These people, once they read the manga, learn that there are many details in the story that the anime has left out – which a lot of times it is due to time restraint or budget. However, in reading the manga, they obtain a new appreciation for the anime as well, and I think this is because they are now getting more details and more of the background story.

So, here is something else to think about when it comes to manga readers and anime watchers… while there are fans of both – those who appreciate manga more, and those who appreciate anime more; I have come to learn something interesting, usually (but not always), the people who read manga also watch anime and vise verse. Although people have their preferences, I have never seen instances in other ‘rivalries’ where one side cannot appreciate the other (such as – games, sports, etc.) Now, I do not know if it is because these two wondrous art forms come from Japan and therefore the respect of the culture that created them carries over with it to other countries; or if anime and manga lovers are just more open minded about what each has to offer and so, they can appreciate both, even if they have a favorite. So what is it about this wonderful group of anime and manga lovers that can bring them together in such a way and still be able to agree to disagree?

No matter which side of the manga/anime line you stand on, I will almost guarantee that you have at least one toe over the line into the other realm. But the question still remains…. Which is better and why? Each has its positive and its negative aspects, but both are stunning and amazing works of art. The characters are three dimensional, as well as people who want to root for! Anime and manga make us laugh, cry, cheer, feel angry, sad or depressed. It is because we feel for and connect with the characters on the page/screen. They become friends, family, loved ones; and we always want what is best for them. Although, in reality, they do not exist.

So regardless of which one you prefer, you and I both know that anime and manga are awesome! Period!

Written by: Samantha Cook          August 22, 2014



The fathers of the modern summer blockbuster raised some eyebrows earlier this summer when they both said the sky is going to fall on the supposed glut of blockbusters that will be the death of the movie-going experience as it is now known. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas with JAWS and STAR WARS, respectively, and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, collectively, showed Hollywood that there was gold in the dog days of summer if exciting movies made with unforgettable visuals married to gripping stories about swashbuckling archaeologists, gentle aliens, and bawdy humor was released during a perceived dead time in the calendar for movies. The conventional studio thinking in the mid-70’s before JAWS and STAR WARS was who would want to sit in a darkened theater on beautiful summer days to watch genre and exploitation fluff? Lucas and Spielberg went against that thinking and have cashed in financially and critically ever since.

That is why the proverbial eyebrows were raised across studio boardrooms and the internet when the two visionaries declared the sky is soon to fall in on the Hollywood blockbuster. Actually, they used words like “meltdown” and “implosion” during a dedication event for the new USC School of Cinematic Arts building where they predicted a series of flops of mega-budgeted movies would shift the theatrical release paradigm in its wake. Remaining blockbusters they prophesy will be priced the same as tickets for a Beyonce/Jay-Z show while the price of admission for smaller movies will go back down to $7 or less.

They both reached these conclusions after lamenting the difficulties they had bringing their last two movies to wide release, RED TAILS (Lucas) and LINCOLN (Spielberg), when they realized that the summer movie season is about to morph into a year-round phenomenon with more prestige, Oscar-bait features likely to be crowded out by films about fast and furious cars, day-glo Marvel superheroes, and comedies about hungover suburbanites. With the result being when the bubble bursts, and it will, all forms of moviemaking will be left scrambling to find ways to make a profit. More than likely with the help of gimmicks like next-gen 3D tech or cerebral cortex downloading that puts you right in the middle of the action in a movie. Those are just tongue in cheek suggestions but who knows what is being cooked up in the bowels of a DARPA lab to be used for capitalistic purposes in ten or twenty years?

All respect due to the names of Lucas and Spielberg but ultimately this doom and gloom they’re forecasting will signify nothing. Yes, the movie industry, just like all industries in this current Digital Age we live in, will evolve and probably make some missteps with heavily-marketed, can’t-miss movies missing with fans and the worldwide box office but that is not going to stop the democratization currently bubbling up from the grassroots under the current studio system. Neophyte filmmakers with the hunger of young Ridley Scotts, Richard Donners, Martin Scorseses, John Woos, and Spike Lees are making movies right now on shoestring budgets with handheld digital equipment that was the stuff of E.T. and Obi-Wan Kenobi when Spielberg was a nervy kid sneaking onto movie lots before he was even shaving regularly.

It is only a matter of time before this new, indie content utilizes old and new ways to capture eyeballs through the use of websites like YouTube which currently streams full-length movies when less than ten years ago it was a chore to watch a five-minute music video from the 80’s. There are also services like Netflix and Amazon which allow a viewer to watch what she wants to watch, when she wants to watch, how she wants to watch whether it’s a Friday date night on a sixty-inch curved screen in high-definition with surround sound or on a handheld device while waiting for a plane at JFK. All that for just a relatively small monthly fee and a data plan. That’s just what’s available now so imagine what’s coming down the pike in less than a decade?

Sure, there will eventually come a time when superhero movies are less than profitable and a megaton bomb with James Cameron’s name attached as director will leave charred shadow outlines on the walls of theaters across the world but that will only hasten a change that is already coming. The barbarians are at the gilded gates of Hollywood studios already but those gates should be taken down instead of shored up. The traditional picture of a movie director, screenwriter, leading man, and movie mogul is changing to reflect the diverse palette of viewers that has always watched and enjoyed Hollywood movies but longed to see themselves in front and behind the camera. That means more action heroes who are women, openly gay, or physically disabled being directed by more than a smattering of filmmakers from hoods and barrios across this nation and slumdogs from Asia and Africa with films financed by and marketed to audiences on the internet instead of big multinational conglomerates and Madison Avenue becoming the norm sooner rather than later.

Jar Jar don't needsa your lovea

Jar Jar don’t needsa your lovea

No, the wunderkind who built the summer movie experience sound more like crotchety, fearful old men trying to keep the rambunctious punk kids they once were off their lawns. That’s understandable because no one likes to admit when their time has passed after they have had so much success in their primes. History ignores Michael Jordan in a Washington Wizards uniform and Rod Stewart’s lounge lizard phase just like moviegoers try every waking minute to forget Hayden Christensen, Jake Lloyd, and Jar Jar Binks in Lucas’s Prequel Trilogy and visions of nuked fridges and a sword-wielding Shia Labouef in an unneeded, unwanted, and unloved fourth Indiana Jones movie. Lucas and Spielberg should actually open the door and give these thirsty gatecrashers some lemonade and encouragement, metaphorically speaking, because any system that gives wide release to movies like LET’S BE COPS and EXPENDABLES 3 in one weekend needs to be flushed more than flaunted.

Was this trip really necessary?

Was this trip really necessary?

–Jason O. Logan