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Vincent S. Moore Presents:










PREAMBLE RAMBLE

Hey, folks, welcome once again to Omnium Gatherum.

This time out, I will keep things simple and quick if possible. I’m finding myself being pulled in too many different directions. You know, that period when it seems like everyone in your life needs your particular attention to a problem or a new problem just shows its ugly face when you think everything is flowing.

Yeah, I’m having one of those weeks.

Hopefully, you aren’t.

Enough of me babbling and onto . . .

OUR TOP STORY TONIGHT

I Love Women.

As it is the month when Valentine’s Day is celebrated, a time when gifts and thoughts of love are shared with loved ones, as well as Women’s Month for the SGI-USA and the month before International Women’s Month, I wanted to share my appreciation of and for that wonder of wonders, women.

My fascination with women goes back to primary school for me. That was when I recall it beginning. In 1st grade, noticing girls as something I was interested in. This was without really knowing why I fascinated, just that I was fascinated. Jerry Butler in his autobiography Raw Talent talks about being sexually aware from the age of three. I don’t want to claim something similar, but I do know that it feels like forever that I’ve been an admirer of the feminine.

Was this merely the genetic programming of being male coming online early? Who knows? And who cares?

And my appreciation of women doesn’t mean I only think of them in sexual terms. I admire smart women as well as beautiful ones. Yes, I love blondes and brunettes and redheads. I also love women who are doctors and lawyers and Indian chiefs. I love the physical and mental and the spiritual aspects of women. I know that human history and human existence wouldn’t be the same without women.

Women like Rosa Parks and Florence Nightingale and Indira Gandhi. Madame Curie and Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan. And all those innumerable women who have done things great and small throughout time. (Okay, I never sat in a Women’s Studies class in my life but I hope no one holds it against me.)

I love women who are strong. Who know what they want and are willing to go after it.

I love that nature or whatever designed men and women to go together, to balance each other. That aggression is balanced by compassion. That intuition is balanced by reason.

Women are like snowflakes, no two alike, and elegant and intricate miracles.

Women can be frustrating and infuriating. I’m sure men are the same to women. But even when as a man I find myself frustrated, I’m fascinated by she who caused this state of mind.

Women are multifarious and magical. They are the window through which the future enters our world. And they are so much more that it is hard to capture my feelings in words.

If this sounds sexist to anyone, well, it is.

I am male, have been all my life. As long as humans come in two basic genders (not counting whatever weird and wonderful surgeries and chemicals and what not we do to ourselves), I can best view life through the eyes of the gender into which I was born. In the truest sense of the word, that is sexist. I can imagine what it’s like looking through a woman’s eyes with some struggle. But that struggle too is a source of fascination for me.

And yes, I know that fascination can turn dark or be unwanted. I think that is the hardest part about being a man. That there is a part of me that is so in need of contact with that which is woman it could drive me to do things unmentionable. I think that’s a topic not discussed amongst men or between men and women. That men are so in need of women (as one study once showed, images of women activate the same areas of the male brain as cocaine) it comes close to an addiction. That feeling can and has sparked so many crimes against women that I can’t fathom them all. And, truthfully, it may not be my place to do so. But I’m sure some out there will be willing to share with me.

None of this deters my feelings about women.

So, I hope you men out there will join in raising a glass to that eternal mystery and wonder that is woman.

Let’s give the women in our lives--our mothers, girlfriends, wives, sisters, etc.--our consideration and our love.

Let’s share this world with them, as it should be.

BOOK(S) OF THE WEEK

I learned about this week’s book from Mike Baron. A few months ago, he wrote a guest column on Comics Mix, ostensibly about writing for a living. He pointed out how “Story” by Robert McKee has seemingly become the bible for many an aspiring writer. Then he suggested this week’s book as the perfect and necessary counterpoint to McKee’s for anyone who wants to write and for anyone who aspires to write for Hollywood. With the strike by the Writers’ Guild of America looking as if it were about to come to an end, I think it’s appropriate of me to review this book.

The Devil’s Guide To Hollywood by Joe Eszterhas is exactly what Baron promised, the perfect counter to McKee’s work. And it’s not just my opinion about that. Eszterhas himself spends plenty of time taking McKee to task for his teachings.

Joe Eszterhas, for those like me who live in man-caves of their own creation, is the screenwriter of such films as Flashdance, Jagged Edge, Showgirls, Basic Instinct, F.I.S.T., and others. If Grant Morrison is the comics industry’s example of writer as rock star, Eszterhas is Hollywood’s and then some.

Now, as a writing guide, Eszterhas’ book is full of the usual hints and bits of advice. Things like write what you know and love, set daily writing goals, et cetera. Those things you could learn from just about any solid book on writing.

What makes this book work, what makes it rock, is the numerous anecdotes liberally sprinkled and dolloped throughout the pages. Not only from his own career but the words of other famous and infamous writers, producers, directors, and actors. Names such as Zsa Zsa Gabor, Jean-Luc Goddard, William Goldman, and tons more. This book is literally a survival guide for the screenwriter and a clarion call for writers to treat themselves like the geniuses they are. After all, without the script, there is no movie. Unless we’re talking porn, that is.

The book is just shy of 400 pages, broken down into twelve parts and nineteen chapters, plus preface and epilogue. Even the chapters themselves are broken down into quick, easy to read pieces. So the time spent reading won’t be long but the rewards in terms of laughter and enlightenment will stay with you long after you’re done.

I found the book so engrossing that I found myself in one of those situations that men often find themselves: sitting in the hair salon with a potentially long wait in front of them, waiting for their companion to finished getting their hair done. Usually such a circumstance would find me running for the nearby bookstore to kill time rather than sit there like an idiot for however infinitely long the half hour or so would be. This time, with Eszterhas’ book in hand, I sat and read, curious to see what this wild man of cinema would say next. That’s some powerful stuff.

I recommend this book highly. Look for it at your local bookstore or on Amazon. And enjoy.

ALBUM(S) OF THE WEEK

Sometimes I am aware of how much I am out of the mainstream of life. I miss out on trends until long after they are gone. I’m oblivious to what is modern and new. I often say I was born old and tend to like things from different times.

This week, I was in the mood for some old Motown soul. The music of America’s Youth back in the 1960s.

The Temptations Anthology from Motown, naturally, was just the thing I was in the mood for.

The Temptations, the five member singing group known for its shifting roster and its magical harmonies, was one of the bedrock groups in the Motown stable of the 60s. The Anthology covers the group’s output from its beginnings through its most inventive period of the early 1970s to the nadir of the Motown sound during the 1980s.

With songs like “The Way You Do The Things You Do”, “My Girl”, and “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” showcasing the early days of the three minute hit filled with all drama of love won and love lost, it’s easy to see how and why The Temptations took America by storm. And later message songs like “Cloud Nine”, “Runaway Child, Running Wild”, “Psychedelic Shack”, and “Don’t Let The Joneses Get You Down” still impact listeners with the music and lyrics in ways that inspired (and that I wished still inspired and informed) the stylings of hip hop.

It’s old school, I know, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good.

Get yourself a copy and just listen to the music and magic of another time and place. You’ll see what I mean.

FEAR AND LOATHING, HOPE AND WONDER ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL 2008

And then there were two.

Well, two people running for the Democratic nomination and two people running for the Republican one.

In the last few weeks, we’ve seen John Edwards bow out of the race. We’ve weathered a Super Tuesday that attempted to live up to its name by being the closest thing to a national primary yet seen. I sat here on Tuesday night, glued to the radio, listening to returns and pundits yacking and cheering when Obama won a state and not cheering when Clinton won. The horse race is in full swing, the jockeying for position is fast and furious. Who won what and by how much and how many delegates to go and too many questions in need of answers.

For many, this Super Tuesday was supposed to be the turning point in the election cycle. After this, Hillary Clinton was supposed to bury her opponents. Or was it that Obama was supposed to pull from behind. Of course, neither event happened. Despite the endorsement of pretty much the whole Kennedy clan for Obama (if the ghosts of JFK and RFK could have been summoned, I’m sure they would have), his victories were not decisive. The word of Ted Kennedy couldn’t deliver Connecticut on its silver platter. And California, my home state, chose mostly to stick with the devil, er, I mean, the democrat we know and love. So much for the power of Saint Oprah.

Speaking of Hillary, not even the shedding of more crocodile tears the Monday before the big dance could put the finishing touches on the rapidly approaching hoofbeats of Obama, Obama. I wonder the chants of Obama, Obama, Obama haunt her and Bill’s sleep like Captain Hook hearing the ticking of the clock in the croc’s stomach. The pundit granted status as inevitable winner now seems to be fading into the distance as we speak.

But, as we’ve seen on more than one occasion, the pundits can be wrong about this election. Polls showing Obama winning in places where he ends losing can’t all be wrong, can they? The dirty little secret not being mentioned is The Bradley Effect, where respondents to polls say they are more than willing to vote for a person of color (okay, I’m trying to be nice here; let’s just say a black person) but end up voting a different way in the privacy of the voting booth. As the numbers are showing, Obama is doing well with young voters and with white men and most definitely with black voters. The trouble areas are older voters, and white women and Hispanics. It’s a gap I hope his campaign has become aware of and is trying to figure out how to close.

Otherwise, Clinton will win the nomination and fulfill the wet dreams of Republicans all over these United States.

That is, if the GOP can come to grips with John McCain.

Now that Mitt Romney has dropped out, it’s McCain and his commanding lead in the delegate race and Gov. Mike Huckabee really running to be the vice president at this point.

If McCain has survived entering the lion’s den of C-PAC, he will probably already be thinking of picking Huckabee as his running mate. Unless he does the unthinkable and picks Romney. Anything is possible with McCain. And that’s what scares his own party about him.

I thought it was funny to hear Ann Coulter say if McCain is the GOP’s nominee, she would vote for Hillary because she’s more conservative than he. Yikes! What does that say about the Democrats if she’s our nominee?

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m actually interested in a long fight for this. It makes great spectacle. The Republicans are so boring, wanting to get it over with so fast. Romney fell on his sword for the good of the party and the election. How dull. Then again, without having seen the footage of C-PAC, I can say it was pretty much a whitebread gathering with confidence.

Super Tuesday recedes into the distance and the horse race goes on. Obama and Clinton are drawing new battlelines in their fight. Will we see more dirty tricks come into play? Of course, it’s the Clintons we’re talking about here. But if Obama can weather that storm it will only prove he can take what the GOP will dish out later on.

Hopefully.

All I can say is the upbeat mood of Super Tuesday, of overhearing new people voting for the first time, is still with me. There is fear of sticking to the old ways of the last nearly thirty years of Republican politics and policies, the ghost of Reagan not allowed to sleep by his adherents. There is loathing between the candidates a’plenty, to be sure. But there is also hope. The magic of hearing people being passionate for their candidates is hopeful. The feeling that change is needed and is coming is inching across this land. And we need it.

But I won’t place any bets on this horse race yet.

COMICS OF THE WEEK

As a well rounded reader of comics, I find all kinds of books interesting for me to read. But the manga revolution we are in the midst of can offer an embarrassment of riches for readers who are looking for new ideas and new genres to try. Not to say that manga is the salvation of the American comics scene; there are some clunkers in the mix along with the gems when searching the manga section of your local comics shop or chain bookstore. However, there are some mangas I enjoy reading.

One is Strawberry 100%, volume 3 by Mizuki Kawashita.

For the most part, Strawberry is in the mode of a typical boy’s romance manga. Here’s the basic premise: our hero Junpei Manaka is a student moving from junior high to high school, with dreams of becoming a filmmaker, and one day he sees a mysterious girl’s strawberry panties, but not her face. That sight so inspires him that he seeks high and low as to who this beauty is. From there, the comedy begins as he meets and befriends the mystery girl but doesn’t know it’s her early on, asks the most popular girl in the school out thinking she’s the one when she’s not, and so on.

Volume 3 starts with Junpei now entering high school by the skin of his teeth and encountering new situations, new people, coping with being at a different school than his girlfriend, and finding yet another girl to fall in like/love/lust with. And again, from there the comedy ensues.

Now, as is typical of most boy’s manga, there’s plenty of fan service to feast your eyes on. Kawashita is a wonderful artist and gives her characters actually character. Her (yes, I said ‘her’; it took some digging to discover the manga-ka for this book was a woman) girls are pretty and lovely and capture the essence of feminine beauty in simple ways.

My only complaint is that I started reading this from the first volume when there were no others available. I hate getting into a manga series that’s just starting here in the States. I prefer a series that has at least five volumes out before I start reading. That way, if I get hooked, I have a backlog of books to catch up with. Curse Viz for putting this series out and curse me for finding it too early. But I’m hooked for the long haul on Strawberry.

Hopefully, you will be too.

MOVIE(S) OF THE WEEK

I haven’t had a chance to actually go to any new movies this week. Many people have recommended CLOVERFIELD to me but I’m such a slug that I may wait until it comes out on DVD to see it.

Oddly enough, that’s my attitude about most films these days. That I will wait for the DVD to see it. I imagine it’s similar to the wait-for-the-trade mentality in comics. But as long as Hollywood allows the directors to go back and put out their versions on disc, why should I or anyone spend their hard earned cash of theatre tickets?

For example, one of the DVDs I tend to watch regularly is Elektra from Fox.

I totally loved this movie when I saw it on the big screen and wanted to buy it on disc. Then I heard a director’s cut, a R rated version, would be made available. I was all over that. And I liked it much better than the theatrical release.

Elektra works as a cool, kick-ass kung fu flick mixed with superhero iconography and history. Pure and simple. Jennifer Garner reprises her role from the Daredevil film, playing the tortured assassin who slowly discovers her heart of gold. To overthink this movie misses the point: it’s an action adventure with a kick ass woman. That’s it, that’s all. It isn’t high art nor is it meant to be. Those who thought this movie sucked was overthinking it. Sometimes, like the cigar, a cheesy action flick is just what it is.

The deleted scenes, though, are what show this could have been a different movie with a different tone. The obligatory Daredevil/Ben Affleck cameo is cute to see; I’m a sucker for real life romance. But the original opening and closing scenes show the director had a take on the character and the film that would have added depth to both. I won’t spoil them here, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Go buy Elektra Director’s Cut or rent it and see for yourselves.

THE TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT THIS TIME

Okay, two things to dish on this time out.

One, the dream sequence in which Batman sees display cases for three past Robins, including one for Stephanie Brown, is seen as a victory for a cause célébre for some in the feminist fangirl movement.

A victory?

Right.

If the civil rights movement had settled for such victories, who knows where I’d be? Maybe there would be a few more “yes’ms” in my vocabulary. Maybe there would be parts of town I couldn’t go into without putting up with some hassles. (Okay, that can happen anyway, but I hope you’ll get what I’m talking about.)

As if no one recognizes being thrown a bone when it happens. But, hey, for those of you who care, do all the Snoopy happy dances you want. It’s your victory, whether it’s shallow and meaningless or not. Have a ball. I don’t have a horse in this race.

The second bit of nonsense was dealing with Travel Planners to book a hotel room for myself and my studio partners for Comic Con International San Diego. The biggie, the nerd prom.

Man, you’d figure I had learned my lesson last year with all the trouble I went through. In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about, go to Comic Book Resources and check the archives for Permanent Damage for July ‘07. I’ll wait. Did you find the one with the nightmare story about losing a booked room a couple of weeks before the show? That pretty much was my experience.

As mad as I was, I did score a room at my second choice hotel but not so good for the other rooms I needed. Yet, I could have avoided all of this stress by not being such a cheap ass and booking a room well in advance at the normal hotel rates.

So I have no one to blame or kick but myself on this one.

GOOD DAY, GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK

And I’m outta here.

Hopefully I’ll see you folks again next issue. In fact, I hope I’m here next issue.

In the meantime, make some comments if you want. I’m sure something I said or did this week will attract attention. Let’s dialogue and debate and interact. I want to know who’s reading this column.

Someone is reading this besides Marc, right?

Now I feel completely insecure.

Until next time, take care of yourselves.

Namaste.

Vincent S. Moore



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