Tagged: music

The P. Craig Russell Library of Opera Adaptations, Vol. 2

The P. Craig Russell Library of Opera Adaptations, Vol. 2

I love idiosyncrasy. Even if I’m not as into Idea X as a creator is, the fact that creator is so into it is appealing – I like to see the things creators are passionate about, the things they have to do, even if it doesn’t make commercial sense.

P. Craig Russell adapts operas into comics. He’s been doing it since nearly the beginning of his career, and I see from his bibliography list on Wikipedia that he has a few adaptations of songs from this past decade, though they’re still unpublished.

And what I have today is the second book collecting that work, the grandly titled The P. Craig Russell Library of Opera Adapations, Vol. 2 . (It followed a full-volume version of Mozart’s The Magic Flute and was followed by a third miscellaneous book; with those songs from the past few years, there may be enough material for a Vol. 4 at this point.) It’s a 2003 book, collecting four adaptations spanning the late ’70s to the late ’90s, and Russell worked with different collaborators on each of them, some more involved than others. I’ll take them each separately: Parsifal, Songs by Mahler, Ariane & Bluebeard, and I Pagliacci.

Parsifal is the oldest piece here, originally published as a single-issue comic by Star*Reach in 1978. Patrick C. Mason adapted the Wagner opera and wrote the script; Russell drew it. It only adapts the second act of the opera, but that’s enough drama and then some: Mason also adds in a lot of narration in that ’70s comics style, some of which may transmute lyrics or stage directions. It’s a very wordy piece as well as being super-dramatic, with an amnesiac young knight being tempted by an immortal witch while searching for a holy relic (the spear that wounded Jesus during the crucifixion), and all those words do constrain Russell’s visual inventiveness here – it’s a weird ’70s comic, but still a sequence of pages of people explaining their emotions to each other at great length, and so not a million miles away from a contemporary Chris Claremont joint.

Songs by Mahler is the shortest section, with two songs, three pages each, from 1984. The first is credited as translated by Mason; the second has no credits other than Russell. These are more imagistic, less narrative, and much more successful as comics, even if they’re not stories.

Ariane & Bluebeard is from 1988, and doesn’t credit anyone other than Russell; so I guess he translated Paul Dukas’s French opera and scripted this forty-page version. This showcases Russell’s design sense, his use of color, and his eye for high drama – there are great, striking pages here, including a few wordless ones, showing he’d gotten to a point of confidence in his art to reproduce the feeling of the music of an opera without needing to explain. This is even more dramatic than Parsifal, largely because Russell is in better control of the material, and opera is super-dramatic – at least, the ones Russell is most drawn to adapt; I don’t think he’ll do Einstein on the Beach anytime soon – to begin with. The opera is the old Bluebeard folktale: young woman is married to an older man with a secret, who has been married several times before (and the fate of those brides is the secret), and she learns the secret, amid a lot of loud singing.

Last up is the black-and-white The Clowns (I Pagliacci), from 1997. This one was translated by Marc Andreyko from Leoncavallo’s opera, laid out by Russell, penciled and lettered by Galen Showman, and inked by Russell. The art is striking, the adaption is swift and assured, and the story is presented well – a traveling troupe arrives in a town, and art imitates life as both the character of the leading lady and the woman herself have an affair, which ends in death at the hands of the title clown. This is less visually inventive than Ariane, but tighter and clearly focused – I’d say it’s the best piece in the book, but that may be partly individual taste. (I like Russell’s vibrant colors and big layouts, but find them a bit too much some of the time, and Ariane is full of that stuff.)

Again, if you want comics adaptations of operas, Russell is not only your go-to, but pretty much your only choice. Luckily, he’s good at it and chooses works that adapt well.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Why You Should Listen to “Welcome to Night Vale” (And stay out of the Dog Park…)

A friendly desert community where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep. Welcome to Night Vale.

Hello, listeners.

NightVale Twitter

If you have been listening to Night Vale Radio, you understand the lights above Arby’s, you can tell people why they should never go into the Dog Park, you understand that wheat and wheat-by-products are not to be trusted, and you definitely understand that angels do not exist.

However if you are not: You can (and should, for your own sanity) tune in and listen to Cecil every month on the 1st and 15th. Follow the Welcome to Night Vale podcast on iTunes, or if you prefer, listen to the episodes here, here, or here.

It’s alright if you’re confused at first, we all were. It becomes clear enough though as you listen on, while Cecil tells you all about sandstorms, Desert Bluffs, Carlos and his perfect hair…We don’t ever really talk about Steve Carlsberg, though.

You should be aware that alligators can kill your children.

Welcome to Night Vale is easily one of my favourite pod casts to pop up in quite a few years, and a quick glance around the internet will go to show that I am definitely not alone. Between the glowing cloud that rains animals, the faceless old woman who lives in your home, and Hiram McDaniels who is literally a five headed dragon, who cares…Night Vale Radio has a charm that is undeniable and wonderful.

I personally have always been an avid fan of radio programs, and still enjoy listening to things like The Shadow, The Twilight Zone, etc. There’s a fantastic bit of imagination that comes with radio (and reading books) that is different than watching TV or movies. You get to imagine everything, and whatever it is you picture…You aren’t wrong. One of the best parts about WTNV is that there is so much left to your own personal perceptions, and it is encouraged.

There is so much about Night Vale that will simultaneously lift up your spirits, terrify you, and make you question your own existence. Kind of like how StrexCorp is so…

Station Management has informed me that this next paragraph has been deleted for the betterment of the station. Thank you for your cooperation.

…What was I saying? That StrexCorp Synernists Inc. are amazing and everyone should believe in a Smiling God? Yes, that must be it. How silly of me! To sum this all up in a slightly less confusing statement…

Go listen to Welcome to Night Vale. You won’t be disappointed.

You might scared, intrigued, and confused. You may not come out of it the same, but in the end…Isn’t that all life is? Void and turquoise…

Goodnight, dear readers.


(As a side note: Welcome to Night Vale is currently touring Canada and the US! Tickets are sold out for a lot of venues, but if you want to see Cecil and the crew live, do so! A few friends of mine went to see it live and since they’ve gotten back they just keep repeating the word Strex over and over. Strex…Strex…Strex…)


You can hear Game of Thrones (Music from the HBO Series) Season 4 Now

GOT S4 soundtrackNEW YORK, NY (June 9, 2014) – WaterTower Music today announced the release of Game of Thrones (Music from the HBO® Series) Season 4 – the latest soundtrack featuring music from the Game of Thrones series. The album will be released at digital retailers on June 10, just five days before the final episode of the season airs. The album will be also be available in physical CD format on July 1.

The soundtrack music was composed once again by Ramin Djawadi (Iron Man, Pacific Rim, Person of Interest), who has written the music for the entire series. The soundtrack includes a version of “The Rains of Castamere” as performed by acclaimed Icelandic post-rock artists Sigur Ros in a mid-season cameo appearance. The song, written by Djawadi and Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, has appeared sporadically over the course of the series (most famously during the Season 3 episode which featured the fabled Red Wedding), and celebrates the heritage and power of House Lannister.

The 22-song track listing is as follows:

Main Titles
The Rains of Castamere
Breaker Of Chains
Watchers On The Wall
I’m Sorry For Today
First Of His Name
The Biggest Fire The North Has Ever Seen
Three Eyed Raven
Two Swords
You Are No Son Of Mine
The North Remembers
Let’s Kill Some Crows
Craster’s Keep
The Real North
Forgive Me
He Is Lost
I Only See What Matters
Take Charge Of Your Life
The Children

Game of Thrones, the Emmy® Award winning drama series, is based on George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song Of Ice and Fire, where political and sexual intrigue abound as seven noble families fight for control of the mythical land of Westeros.

Win a Copy of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

CMS1_ beautyshot_01Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
presents a fantastic journey through the universe as Carl Sagan’s visionary series continues with COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY, arriving on Blu-ray and DVD June 10.  Debuting tomorrow, two days after the epic conclusion, fans can re-watch this legendary story 13.8 billion years in the making just in time for Father’s Day in spectacular high-definition.

We have ONE copy to give away to a luck reader. Details below.

Hosted by renowned astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson and executive produced by Ann Druyan, Seth MacFarlane, Mitchell Cannold and Brannon Braga, COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY features incredible bonus materials including a stunning five-part documentary on the making of this critically-acclaimed ground-breaking event.  Fans can also discover what connects us all and see the past, present and future of our galaxy with the interactive “Cosmic Calendar,” exclusive to the Blu-ray release.

COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY is the spectacular follow-up to Carl Sagan’s award-winning series that explored the remarkable mysteries of the cosmos and our place within it. This thrilling, 13-part adventure transports viewers across the universe of space and time, bringing to life never-before-told stories of the heroic quest for knowledge and a deeper understanding of nature. With an updated Cosmic Calendar, dazzling visual effects, and the wondrous Ship of the Imagination, fans will experience an unforgettable journey to new worlds and across the universe for a vision of the cosmos on the grandest and smallest scale.


vin-diesel-fights-off-aliens-in-new-riddick-trailerWhen it was announced that Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane would be Executive Producer of an update the the classic Carl Sagan-hosted science documentary series Cosmos, it raised a few eyebrows. Even more people were surprised to learn that the funny man was a personal friend of new “Cosmos” host and renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

In honor of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey’s release on Blu-ray and DVD June 10th, we thought we’d take a look at some of Hollywood’s other unexpected geeks.

Vin Diesel

The beefy action star doesn’t necessarily fit the stereotype of a Dungeon Master, but Diesel has proudly been a Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast for over 20 years!

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman VThe Oscar-winning beauty holds a degree in Psychology from Harvard University, and has twice had her research published in scientific journals.

Angela Bassett

Stella may have needed Taye Diggs to help her get her groove back, but Bassett never lost her academic groove. The acting powerhouse has her Bachelors in African American Studies from Yale and a M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama.

John Legend

The All of Me singer turned down Harvard in favor of a degree in English and African American Literature from UPenn. He even worked at the prestigious Boston Consulting Group before making a splash on the music scene.

Dolph Lundgren

Dolph PuinisherBefore he was Master of the Universe, Dolph Lundgren was a master of science, having earned a Bachelor’s degree from the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, and a Master’s degree in Chemical engineering as well as a Fullbright Scholarship to MIT.

Rashida Jones

alg-rashida-jones-wallpapersThe Parks and Recreation actress didn’t rely on the privileges that came with her family name (she’s the daughter of music and producing mogul Quincy Jones). She worked hard and earned a degree from Harvard University. If that isn’t enough geek cred, she’s even created her own comic book series called Frenemy of the State.

Casey Affleck

Being a brother to Ben Affleck, Casey had his fair share of experience with giant stars—something that probably helped him during his programs in astronomy and physics at Columbia University.

Tatyana Ali

We all knew Ashley Banks had a good head on her shoulders. Who knew the performer who played her was so brainy too? When The Fresh Prince of Bel Air ended its run on television, the actress and singer took a break from acting to get a degree in Politics and African American Studies from Harvard University.

Emma Watson

Hermione Grainger is practically the patron saint of geeky girls everywhere, played to perfection for 10 years by the extremely talented Watson. It made us all proud to see Watson avoid the celebutante lifestyle her fame could have afforded her and choose to pursue a college degree—from Brown University, no less!

Mila Kunis

Mila Kunis Book of EliAs if being the voice of Meg Griffin on cult animated series Family Guy wasn’t enough to get fanboys drooling, she’s also a known World of Warcraft addict, often playing anonymously with strangers online. Maybe you’ll be a little nicer to that Goblin you come across the next time you play.

Christina Applegate

Applegate may have gotten her start playing ditzy Kelly Bundy on Married with Children, but in real life the actress enjoys much nerdier pursuits. She is a hardcore gamer, spending much of her downtime on her Playstation, Xbox, and Wii.

So, out of all these geeks, tell us which one you want to have an intellectual debate with and why. We must have your answer posted no later than 11:59 p.m., Monday, June 16. The decision of ComicMix‘s judges will be final. The contest is open only to readers in the United States and Canada.

Save the World by Buying Steampunk!

Steampunk Bundle 2

I don’t know if you already knew about this Steampunk charity bundle in support of Direct Relief, which has already made over 16 thousand dollars. Contributors get to save the world by buying steampunk.

The bundle includes thousands of pages of great reading, hours of gaming fun, and tons of fantastic music. You can get it all for just the donation of a dollar (though larger donations are encouraged and appreciated). The money raised by sales of the bundle helps fund to Direct Relief (directrelief.org) which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that provides medical assistance to people around the world who have been affected by poverty, natural disasters, and civil unrest. This bundle includes award-winning games such as Syberia, music from such artists as the acclaimed Sxip Shirey, and exclusive content such as the Cities of Ether anthology by G. D. Falksen. The great thing about this is that for as little as a dollar you get thousands of hours of entertainment and art, and you also help people all over the world by supporting Direct Relief. The more people know about the bundle, the more they chance they have to pick up some great Steampunk themed games, books, comics, and music, and the more funding the charity gets that can then go and help people all around the world. It’s a great win-win situation for everyone.


In Memoriam: Bill Hicks

[[[Bill Hicks]]] died twenty years ago today, February 26, 1994. Most comic book fans know him from his appearance in Preacher #31, by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon:

Here’s the man at work, in a segment that David Letterman removed from his show:

This was his final statement:

February 7, 1994 –

     I was born William Melvin Hicks on December 16, 1961 in Valdosta, Georgia. Ugh. Melvin Hicks from Georgia. Yee Har! I already had gotten off to life on the wrong foot. I was always “awake,” I guess you’d say. Some part of me clamoring for new insights and new ways to make the world a better place.

     All of this came out years down the line, in my multitude of creative interests that are the tools I now bring to the Party. Writing, acting, music, comedy. A deep love of literature and books. Thank God for all the artists who’ve helped me. I’d read these words and off I went – dreaming my own imaginative dreams. Exercising them at will, eventually to form bands, comedy, more bands, movies, anything creative. This is the coin of the realm I use in my words – Vision.

     On June 16, 1993 I was diagnosed with having “liver cancer that had spread from the pancreas.” One of life’s weirdest and worst jokes imaginable. I’d been making such progress recently in my attitude, my career and realizing my dreams that it just stood me on my head for a while. “Why me!?” I would cry out, and “Why now!?”

     Well, I know now there may never be any answers to those particular questions, but maybe in telling a little about myself, we can find some other answers to other questions. That might help our way down our own particular paths, towards realizing my dream of New Hope and New Happiness.


     I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.

More power to you, buddy. Hope you enjoyed the ride.

Michael Davis: A Burning Love Story

In the years I’ve been writing these rants I don’t think I’ve ever written about love.

I’ve written about sex many times but not love. I’ve always wanted to write about love but somehow never got around to it. Funny-perhaps I thought love and sex was the same thing.

Is that why I have not written about love? Have I, all these years simply assumed that love and sex were one?


Anybody that assumes sex is love I’m willing to bet has an appointment every week that begins with being asked about their relationship with their mother or father and ends with being told their hour is up.

You may love sex but sex is not love. Trust me on this; I’m a doctor.

I’ve been in love. I suck at it. I’ve had sex. I’m pretty good at that.

How good? I’ve heard, ‘you’re my daddy’ so often someone reported me to social services who showed up at my door and asked where all my children were.

Pine Valley, in case anyone’s wondering.

I think my problem is I’m way too much of a realist. I can’t pretend something could be just because I want it to be. Then again maybe I’m too much of a romantic, I’ve often pretended something that isn’t could be.

Or maybe I’m just a motherfucking idiot clearly the above statement is a blatant contradiction and sadly its also true. I wish I would just pick a side.

Why don’t I have a weekly appointment that begins with being asked about my mother? Because someone talking about my mother is grounds for me putting my foot up that someone’s ass. Paying someone who’s going to end up with my foot in their ass seems mighty ‘crazy white people shit’ to me.

Translation: Black men don’t go to shrinks.

Damn I’m a mess.

But-if I know I’m a mess am I really a mess?  If you are aware you are crazy or you really? If I’m aware that I can’t love someone from a distance why do I think I can make a long distance relationship work? How can I be black and love the music of Florence Henderson.


I freely admit I love the music of Mrs. Brady and don’t give a shit who knows it.  The great thing about loving her music is I don’t have to think rather or not her music is going to fuck a bunch of guys and them blame me.

Yeah- that happened to me once, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It’s times like that when you turn to the things you love that cannot hurt you, things that cannot break your heart.

Like the music of Florence Henderson or comic books. Those things can never hurt you.



A funny thing happened to me the other day-my heart was broken. Broken by those I consider my extended family, fellow comic book fans.

The racism brandished on-line by some in comic fandom from the second a Black actor was cast, as Johnny Storm was agonizing for me.

It’s agonizing for all Black fandom and I dare say most comic fans of any color.

Yeah-I continue to be stupid and think people in comics, fan and professional are above this type of hatred.

I believe in my heart that the vast majority in our shared community is not what I’ve read on-line or saw in news reports.

I refuse to believe anything else.

REVIEW: Charlie’s Angels Season 1

CharliesAngels_S1_MCEWomen’s Lib was perhaps the last great social movement of the 20th Century, a logical outgrowth of a changing society that finally brought equal rights to African-Americans and saw the last wave of Baby Boomers create an identity all their own. Women spoke up, beginning in the 1960s with Betty Freidan’s The Feminist Mystique, coupled with the arrival of birth control pills. By the end of the 1960s, women were increasing playing larger roles in the workplace, mirrored soon thereafter on television. They were competent at work and at home, able to stand on their own without benefit of a man. While CBS quailed at the notion that Mary Richards was happily divorced, they were fine to let her be a successful producer on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, a series that ushered in a new era for powerful women.

tumblr_mw79ybbybL1qzdza2o1_500Dramatic prime time series followed suit, most notably with Angie Dickinson’s Police Woman. It was a no-brainer than to imagine that if one powerful woman would work, more would work better. Fred Silverman, then head of programming at ABC, commissioned Aaron Spelling to create a show about three tough but beautiful women. The successful producer conceived of three women working as private investigators for a mysterious employer in a series to be called The Alley Cats. ABC and Spelling first contacted Kate Jackson, who previously appeared on the network’s The Rookies to be a lead. She refused to audition, was cast anyway, then suggested Angles instead of Alley Cats and so Charlie’s Angels was born.

aNGELSToday, the show is seen as the beginning of a trend of dumbing down prime time programing, ushering in “jiggle television” that emphasized their breasts over their brains. It’s also the launching pad for the pop culture phenom known as Farrah Fawcett-Majors, whose hair started a trend all its own and her bathing suit poster, with a hint of nipple protruding, made her the decade’s superstar. Initially, though, the series was merely an attempt to entertain at the 8 p.m. hour, appealing to all ages with some action some adventure, and three beautiful women to while away sixty minutes with.

500px-Charlies_Angels_TV_1_82It was never meant to be great television or even trend-setting television but it lucked out and became a ratings hit that transformed the cast, anchored by Jackson, but also featuring Fawdfcett0-Majors and model turned actress Jaclyn Smith into celebrities. Mill Creek Entertainment has been vacuuming up rights to some of the most important series across the decades and releasing them in affordable, no-frills season sets including the just out Charlie’s Angels Season 1. Just listening to the music and watching the title credits with those three silhouettes shows how often imitated became, even today.

John Forsythe got pressed into services to voice the never seen Charlie while their onsite handler John Bosley (David Doyle) is there to look serious and congratulate the girls on a job well done.

Spelling’s series rarely allowed his characters depth and this show is no exception despite the pedigree of the writing staff including john D.F. Black. Much of the tone was established by Spelling veteran Edward J. Lakso who wrote seven that season. Directors who helped clinch the look and feel include George McCowan (3) and Georg Stanford Brown (2), Bill Bixby, and Cliff Bole.

ChainsThe first season (September 22, 1976 to May 4, 1977) has fairly routine plots including the obligatory “Angels in Chains” that not only put the Angels in a women’s jail, but wisely used the great Mary Woronov as the warden and a young Kim Basinger as a fellow inmate. Other noteworthy guest turns include Rene Auberjonois, Fernando Lamas, Ida Lupino, Frank Gorshin, Tom Selleck, and Tommy Lee Jones.

All 23 episodes are included here in standard definition DVD on four discs without any of the extras that appeared on previous collections.

Mindy Newell: Where is your next idea coming from?

This is a column for all you “I want to be a writer” writers out there.

The XXII Olympics officially opened on Friday, February 8th, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

Thirty years ago the XIV Olympics took place in Sarajevo in what was Yugoslavia and is now Bosnia-Herzegovina, although the region is usually just called Bosnia.  Thirty years later the Olympic village, the ice rink, the bobsled and luge tracks, the ski jump, the other sports facilities and hotels are gone, destroyed during the Bosnian war and the 44-months-long Siege of Sarajevo which killed nearly twelve thousand of the city’s residents.