365 Sketch 2015: Day 52: Adept

The Tumblr Superheroes in Full Color started up a monthly art challenge last month. This time around, in honor of Black History Month, they selected three black female superheroes for people to draw. The choices were Bumblebee, Butterfly, and Adept. Adept, the hero I chose to draw, is part of the Strikeforce Morituri team from the 80s. These were supersoldiers given an experimental treatment that granted them incredible superpowers for one year. After a year, their powers would peak and they would die. Adept developed the ability to decipher any dangerous situation and find the proper solution. Sadly, much of her last year on Earth was spent in isolation. She was tasked with decrypting enemy alien code she absorbed on a space combat mission. The results made no sense without the artifacts in hand she pulled the data from. Her team staged her kidnapping so she could sneak onboard the same ship, hold the objects, and decrypt the data in an instant. This was, sadly, when her power peaked. She spent her last moments serving humankind by reciting the secrets to countless alien techologies so we had a chance to fight on a level playing field. A beautiful and tragic end to a very unusual superhero.

365 Sketch 2015: Day 52: Adept

Marker and pastel pencil.

Cinefessions Summer Scream Challenge Wrap-Up

As of 12AM this morning, the 3rd Annual Cinnefessions Summer Scream Challenge is over. I scored a respectable 293.75 points in 30 days of viewing sci-fi and horror films and TV series. I spent a lot more time on TV this year for the score factor and it paid off. Not too well, though; two other competitors practically eclipsed my modest little efforts to vie for the top prize in the challenge. To put it in perspective, I watched 50 films and 111 episodes of television in a month. That's not counting all the non-horror and sci-fi content I was keeping up with, like indie films (Belle is amazing), the new Sailor Moon subs, and all my usual research shenanigans for panels and writing work.

Just a few highlights from the month while I'm feeling nostalgic.

I watched the entirety of the Hellraiser series for the first time. I have to say, I was surprised to find even one sequel, let alone two, past Hellbound that are actually worth watching. This is one of those series that does not have a very good reputation and that reputation is not misplaced. The two films that are only tangentially Hellraiser episodes, though, are quite good: Bloodline and Hellseeker.

I got into a lot of great anime. Btooom! is an interesting spin on the deadly game/pulled into a game concept with a whole lot more heart than you might anticipate from such a blatant Battle Royale knock-off. Ghost Hunt is now one of my favorite haunted house stories and I've seen a lot of them. Persona 4: The Animation is very good for a video game tie-in series and looks great. Psycho-Pass is even better the second time around, allowing all those clues and connections to become clear that built such great suspense on the initial screening. Serial Experiments Lain has me convinced I need to put together a cyberpunk panel so I can address how amazing that anime is.

Speaking of surprisingly good animation, Batman Beyond is now up there with Batman: The Animated Series and X-Men as one of my favorite superhero shows. The cyberpunk setting and Bruce Wayne as mentor conceits work wonders. The villains, as always, steal the show in the Batman universe, but I found myself pulling a little harder for Terry McGinnis than I ever pulled for Bruce Wayne in other iterations.

I also fell in love with Dollhouse. It's a show I was always interested in but never really devoted the time to watching. How foolish I was to wait this long. I know the show is a little obtuse at times, but I love it. It's such a refreshing approach to science fiction and long-form narrative that I'm willing to overlook a few of the missing hows and whys and just go for the ride. Plus, the acting is incredible and the cast, forgive the superficiality, is one of the most beautiful ever put together onscreen.

Any regrets for this year? None, really. I'm still a little disappointed that Room 237, the amazing documentary about the crazy fan theories on The Shining, did not count as a supernatural film for double points that week. That's petty, too. There are (foolish) people who do not even think it's a horror film in its own rights, or even think it's a bad documentary. I won't judge them (too harshly) for their unenlightened interpretation of the material.

Would I participate again next year? Absolutely. As long as someone reminds me to sign-up, I'll do it.

Best Original Song Lives! A Round-Up of the Oscar Nominees

I'm so excited to see that the music branch of the Academy Awards got their act together this year with their new rules and actually found five nominees. It really seemed like the category was going to disappear as the nominees dwindled each year and new rules were written to fix it. They've pulled out of their tailspin and found five nominees. They aren't necessarily the songs I'd pick, but I can't complain about their choices.

All five nominees below the jump.

"Almost There" written by Randy Newman for The Princess and the Frog:

This is a category that has always been good to Disney and there's normally a good reason: their animated musicals have lovely music. The Princess and the Frog is no exception. If AMPAS stick to the actual performers doing the music, this will be Anika Noni Rose's second live performance at the Oscar telecast, previously featured in the Dreamgirls nominee montage at the 2007 ceremony.

"Down in New Orleans" written by Randy Newman for The Princess and the Frog:

The opening is a nice riff on Disney magic, leading to a fun ragtime-esque tribute to New Orleans. I'm a fan. Except for how it's such an obvious Randy Newman piano riff I wouldn't be surprised if Seth MacFarlane actually wrote it. That's a personal predictability issue with Mr. Short People.

"Loin de Paname" written by Reinhardt Wagner and Frank Thomas for Paris 36:

What a lovely little waltz. To be honest, I had not heard of the film until this nomination. My understanding is its a murder mystery/romance/drama/period piece taking place in and around a music hall in 1930s Paris. If my understanding is correct, this song really captures the feel of that musical period. It'll make a wonderful moment on the telecast.

"Take it All" written by Maury Yeston for Nine:

This is the scene that convinced me Marion Cotillard would be guaranteed a slot on my Best Actress list. It's such a powerful addition to Ninethat I wish there was a way to retrofit it into the stage show; there isn't. The stage musical already has tons of better songs that cover all the necessary emotional notes as this. Still, for a mediocre film adaptation of a polarizing stage show, this was a smart decision. It's also a nice way to ensure Marion Cotillard goes to the ceremony and prove she can sing after winning in a lip-syncing performance for La vie en Rose.

"The Weary Kind" written by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett for Crazy Heart:

Another lovely song nominated for Best Original Song. I'm very excited that my ears shall not be attacked by aggressive give-me-an-awardisms and melisma at the ceremony. It's good to see at least one awards group that realizes there's more to songwriting than fireworks. My understanding is that this is the favorite to win the award and it wouldn't upset me.

For me, I still wish there was a way to fit "All is Love" from Where the Wild Things Are as a nominee, though I knew it wouldn't happen. Still, I'll just pretend it won and fake surprise in a few years when I'm corrected. So much so that I'm embedding the song for the billionth time on this site.

Yeah. That's the stuff.

Or, fat chance, they could have nominated Coraline here to give it a second nomination, even if the sum of the score is greater than the "Other Father Song":

Adorable. But sadly, too short.