RF’s First Half Faves

My Top 5 albums from the first half of 2015…

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
Kendrick Lamar offers his reflections on where he has come from  on his journey through the  music industry, recalling some of the most influential figures in hip-hop to celebrate his origin and climb to the top. While acknowledging his success, Lamar struggles with the toxic nature of fame thats inseparable from it, and the responsibility of being a cultural icon in a time when our culture is saturated with race-related violence. A lot of Lamars verses are conversations from one aspect of his feelings to someone in his life, or himself, or in one excellent piece of found footage editing, Tupac. Besides its political content, the album delivers dynamic, raw vocal performances, finely utilized samples coupled with an amazing studio band, and is one of the most engaging records to come out in the last decade. To Pimp a Butterfly is a work that could be dissected, discussed, and enjoyed for years to come. And it probably will.


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Jack Kirby’s Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth

My love of Kamandi began in college. Though I had been a fan of comic books nearly all my life I had yet to delve into their history. I had always thought that older comics were corny, or too message-based to appeal to me. I like badasses like Spawn and Wolverine. I admit I even had a fondness for the extreme 90s styling of Rob Liefeld. It wasn’t until high school that I began to branch out of Marvel and into DC, and even then it was only Batman and Birds of Prey that caught my attention. At some point in those halcyon days of Mountain Dew and Taco Bell I remember seeing an old issue of Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth for sale at my local comic book store. At first I thought the book looked ridiculous; here was this boy with flowing golden hair, Hulk-like ripped pants, and a gun. Once I opened the pages though I remember seeing the genius of Jack Kirby in full view. A tribunal of Ape-men sentencing a Lion-man and a Dog-man to death with the caption “Clemency denied!” I wish I had picked up that book and began my love of Kamandi and Kirby a few years early.

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Still, that initial exposure to the world of Kamandi stayed with me. Though the boy’s name was soon forgotten, that imaginative world, that Planet of the Apes on acid, stuck with me until one day at the SF State campus bookstore I saw the Kamandi Omnibus Volume 1 for sale. There he was, there was that lost world again. So I sat down and read the entire thing, completely forgetting the two or so classes I had that day. It was okay though, my teachers would understand. There were gorillas riding jeeps into battle with a tiger army that was a bit more pressing than Philosophy of Art. Continue reading Jack Kirby’s Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth

Jack Kirby’s Captain America

captain-america-1Captain America Comics #1 burst onto newsstands in 1941 with that now-famous flying right hook to the jaw of Adolf Hitler. The book and cover are largely credited to Joe Simon, but his young partner Jack Kirby, 23 at the time, became an increasingly integral part of the design and development of one of popular culture’s most enduring characters.

When Kirby came back to Marvel in the early 60’s to partner with Stan Lee on the birth of the Marvel Universe, he also helped bring back a character who many thought might have just remained a campy footnote in the propaganda-laden pulp trade of the 1940’s. In an even more memorable issue with a singularly milestone cover, Captain America became well and truly Jack Kirby’s superhero. Continue reading Jack Kirby’s Captain America

Jack Kirby’s The X-Men

I remember the day I played sick from high school to read entire collections of Mark Millar’s Ultimate X-Men, thus kicking off an expensive habit of collecting the trades as they came out. And I collected every stupid iteration of the team from X-Babies, to Exiles, and those gory X-Force books, because the depth and width of their universe is fucking incredible. These days I don’t read many comics, but I always find myself asking MMDG or another Idle Timer about what’s going on with my team. I love those X-books, and I guess I kind of love Jack Kirby for starting it.

Truth be told, Jack Kirby didn’t have to do with much of the X-Men I know. Wolverine, or Hugh Jackman, as some people may know him, was the brain-baby of Len Wein, Roy Thomas, and John Romita Sr, before being fleshed out into the tormented berserker by Chris Claremont. A lot of the stories and characters from the X-Men cartoon are from the Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne era, too.

So why give thanks to Jack Kirby? Continue reading Jack Kirby’s The X-Men

How Marvel Studios Can Save The Fantastic Four

While I have no doubt that the rumored Bryan Singer involvement with Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot would do wonders for the franchise, and help save what was an atrocious first attempt, I think the problem is severe enough that the crisis council needs to start researching some other options.

RF and I have simmered on this for two weeks and we wanted desperately to say, of the recent Fantastic Four film, “It wasn’t that bad. It has potential.”

It’s not the worst movie to be stamped with the Marvel logo, but it’s in the conversation. Maybe Top 5. Having said that, however, we both agreed that the “potential” remains. And we hashed out one sure-fire way to make the most of said potential and rescue Marvel’s First Family from cinematic purgatory. Our patience is wearing thin; this is the fourth attempt at doing these characters justice. We need Marvel Studios to step in. Continue reading How Marvel Studios Can Save The Fantastic Four

National IPA Day: Five California Favorites

Folks who love their IPAs are passionate about the piney punch of Humulus lupulus and know how to appreciate a well-crafted India Pale Ale. And although asking twenty different beer drinkers to name their favorite IPA will likely get you twenty different answers, one factor seems universally important: drink it fresh.

So to celebrate National IPA Day, here are five Idle Timers with five different California-born brews. Drink local, my friends. Local to us, anyway.

Stone_Go_To_IPAStone Brewing Co.
Escondido, CA
Go To IPA
RF: Stone’s Go To IPA is a solid favorite. And their San Diego-area tasting resort is fantastic. From the website: “we employed ‘hop bursting,’ a new technique wherein an irrational amount of hops is added during the final phase of the brewing process to coax out extreme flavors and aromas while also imparting a burst of desirably pleasant bitterness.” Continue reading National IPA Day: Five California Favorites

Who Needs Friends When You Have “Super Friends”?: My Typical Saturday Morning in the Early 80s (Part 1)

Originally posted on Holy Bee of Ephesus:

It is about 7:45 on a Saturday morning, sometime late in 1980, or perhaps early in 1981…

We have gained a new president, lost a Beatle, and the whole country has just learned who shot J.R…

None of this matters to me, of course. I am six. The sun peeks in through the cracks in my Empire Strikes Back curtains. I am tucked under my Empire Strikes Back comforter. I hear the furnace kick on in the basement. I hear the back door in the kitchen open and close as my dad leaves for work. He runs an auto body shop, and his sole employee is himself, so six-day work weeks are a necessity. Mom works the graveyard shift as a police dispatcher, and arrives home not long before I wake up. She will remain sleeping until noon or so. My sister will also remain sleeping until noon or so…

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2015 First-Half Favorites: IP’s Top 5 Comics

Buying floppy comic books from week to week is expensive. It’s a real bummer because there is something special about spreading a pile of comics on your bed and randomly picking a new series to read. That being said, Trade Paper Backs are a great deal, and Image Comics has begun to sell first Trades for under $10. This is the best time to find new amazing comics to follow, and with DC having just relaunched a few years back along with Marvel about to do something similar, this year is a golden opportunity. These books represent those that I had the most fun with so far this year.

My Top 5 from the first half of the year, in a totally random order.

Thor
Jason Aaron & Russell Dauterman
Marvel Comics

After Jason Aaron’s excellent run on Thor came to an end last year the best possible thing happened… Jason Aaron continued writing Thor, this time allowing the mantle of the God of Thunder to be taken up by a woman. This series is fun, brash, and bad-ass. Thor hasn’t ever had this much balls.

The first arc of the series concerns the Dark Elf Malaketh (terribly rendered in the film Thor: The Dark World) who joins forces with the Frost Giants to aid their quest for their king’s skull. The God of Thunder is the only thing stopping them from freezing the entirety of Midgard.
Continue reading 2015 First-Half Favorites: IP’s Top 5 Comics

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