Bookended by Cats was named after Milo and Otis. They are the short, orange, and furry brothers who, upon entering our lives in 2003, often bookended us on our couch. And who are we? We're a geek couple living in PA. We love music, movies, TV, comics, books, and comic cons. And, from time to time, we'll share our thoughts on these nerdy things.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Twig - Skottie Young - comic book

 Dangrdafne review

Yes, I did indeed buy my very own comic book during Free Comic Book Day.

Yes, I did indeed READ my very own comic book that I purchased during Free Comic Book Day.

I had seen lots of photos and posts about this comic book and I was intrigued and of course the art is adorable. That seems to be a prerequisite for me to want a comic book. See also: HeroBear, MouseGuard, etc. :)

So, not only is the art beautiful and adorable, but the story is quite the fantasy adventure. It is only book 1 of 5 but I definitely would like to read the rest after reading just this one. I am very curious what Twig and Splat are doing and what will happen in their adventure. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to draw people into a story with just one piece of the story, but they did it easily with this one.

I decided on the Peach Momoko cover (Cover C) as I know that name from other books and usually like their art. There were 2 other options available at New Wave Comics, but I couldn't stop looking at Peach's cover, so into the pile of purchases it went.

It is rated T for Teen and I would agree, although the first book only has 1 item that might be in question for kids younger than Teen, and it was more than fine for a 52 year old adult ;) 

It looks like the next four books will be released over the next four months, so there is some time to wait until I can continue the story. I kind of wish I just had all of it at once, but it will be nice to savor to story and art each month. Although, honestly, I hope I remember each book before the next. I guess I would just reread it if not, LOL.

Book 1 = 4 paws for art and story

Friday, May 27, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for May 27, 2022

"And your destination | you don't know it | Avalon."

[Avalon] -- Forty years ago, May 28 fell on a Friday, and Roxy Music released their eighth studio album: Avalon. That record was also the band's swan song, post-2001 touring reunions notwithstanding. 

Roxy Music had previously disbanded after touring in support of their 1976 release, Siren. But they reunited in 1978 and released three more records before Bryan Ferry (lead vocalist and main songwriter) dissolved the band in 1983. Between 1976 and 1978, the band's lineup had been pared down to that of a quartet for Manifesto (1978). Then the lineup shifted to a trio, assisted by session musicians, for the final two records – Flesh + Blood (1980) and Avalon (1982). 

The lineup shifts resulted in the band changing their sound as well as their overall approach to music. These changes are most evident on Avalon. The remaining band members – Bryan Ferry (vocals), Phil Manzanera (guitar), and Andy Mackay (saxophone) – embraced experimentation and improvisation, using the studio itself as an instrument. The change in working methods also involved lots of drugs which, according to Bryan Ferry, "created a lot of paranoia and a lot of spaced-out stuff" (Chapman, 1995).

Ferry had wanted an album in which all the songs were bound up in one unifying story. That takes quite a bit of work, and what he had to start with was "10 poems, or short stories, that could, with a bit more work, be fashioned into a novel" (Clark, 2004). Still, in Ferry's mind at least, they could all be tied to that "ultimate romantic fantasy place" of Avalon, King Arthur's final resting place. That accounts for the more adult, and yet dreamy, lyrical content on Avalon. Even Ferry's vocal delivery is more mature on this record than previous outings. 

Studio experimentation included building up backing grooves as well as scoring the backing tracks with a Linn drum machine. They also recorded live drums and percussion parts in the Power Station studio’s stairwell, giving both a natural and resounding reverb. Overall, the sound is more textured. Even Manzanera’s guitar and Ferry’s keyboard parts are understated and sparse, providing the rest of the arrangements with more room to breathe and expand. 

Avalon peaked within the top ten of charts around the world, even reaching the #1 position in the UK, Sweden, Norway, and a few other countries. But in the US, Avalon stalled at #53 on the Billboard 200. Still, Avalon went on to be registered platinum globally, including the US, and it landed in the year-end top ten list for several countries. Avalon consistently receives critical praise, even to this day. And it ranks on many "best of" lists, such as Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of all Time and Entertainment Weekly's 100 Greatest CDs A Love-It-Or-Loathe-It Guide to the Essential Disc Library.

FlashbackAvalon (5/28/1982)

That's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven!

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Star Trek - Strange New Worlds - episode 1

 Dangrdafne review:

EVERY HUMAN on this planet should watch this first episode right now!!!! This is the story we all need right now. This is the direction we need to go. Where is the Federation when you need them? On Paramount+ apparently. WOW!!!!

The writers of Star Trek are of another realm of brilliance. I do not know how they do it but they never fail to amaze me. This first episode is beyond incredible. I laughed, I cried, I yelled, I sighed.

Anson Mount is spectacular and each crew member is perfectly chosen and I am in love with all of them. I seriously am floored by how quickly I was enamored with each character. But then I am a Trekkie at heart.

The cinematography is out of this world and I could see that even from watching the episode on our TV via YouTube! I can only imagine how incredible it would be in its original format.

4 paws and a tail and a whole Enterprise filled with cats!! Like Tribbles but better 😉

Friday, May 20, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for May 20, 2022

[Hot Mess?] -- After achieving their first #1 album (The Game) and releasing a top 25 soundtrack (Flash Gordon) in 1980, Queen took some extra time wrangling their next studio release. And on May 21, 1982 – nearly two years after The Game dropped – Queen released Hot Space, their tenth studio album. More dance-y and more synthy, Hot Space was a definite departure for Queen. Perhaps the huge success of "Another One Bites the Dust," the fourth single off The Game, encouraged them to go for more of a dance-oriented album this time around. Maybe it was the band's inner strife and piecemeal recording process they fell into for this record. Or, it was the outsized, and perhaps unwanted (per journalist Mark Blake in the 2016 book, Freddie Mercury: A Kind of Magic), influence of Paul Prenter, Freddie Mercury's personal manager. 

Whatever made Queen expand their use of synths, add horn sections, and tinker with drum machines for an entire record, the results were ... mixed. Well, the reception was mixed. Reviews were mainly, but not entirely, negative. And sales were lukewarm. If not for "Under Pressure," a collaboration with David Bowie that was released in October 1981, the album might have been forgotten. However, with the advantage of 40 years of hindsight, Hot Space is not a bad album, it's just different. It's not what might be expected from a band largely regarded as a guitar-driven rock quartet, but Queen has never been static with their sound. They were always rather eclectic. It's just that, I suppose, Hot Space went so far in one direction that many of their fans felt left behind. Still, the album does have its fans, even if it is an experimental blip in the extraordinary career of Queen (15 studio albums, 10 live albums, 2 EPs, 2 soundtracks, and 72 singles). 

Do you have a favorite track from Hot Space? Setting aside "Under Pressure," which I always felt stands on its own rather than being part of this album, I'm kind of partial to "Put Out The Fire" and "Life Is Real (Song for Lennon)." Oh, and I like how Queen used THX 1138 (George Lucas' 1971 dystopian film) as the basis of the video for "Calling All Girls." 

FlashbackHot Space (1982)

That's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven!

Friday, May 13, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for May 13, 2022

[Shuttered Decades] -- There was a time, in the early 1980s (of course), when I thought Reach the Beach was The Fixx's debut album. This is probably because "One Thing Leads to Another" penetrated my small town's radio before either "Red Skies" or "Stand or Fall." Yes, my introduction to The Fixx came with their sophomore record, Reach the Beach, which helped the band break into the international scene in 1983. I discovered their debut album, Shuttered Room, shortly thereafter. Regardless of when I learned of it, Shuttered Room was released 40 years ago this week, on May 13, 1982. Well, the UK version came out in May 1982. The US release had to wait until October of that same year. 

But I digress.

The Fixx formed in 1979, coming together in London, England, and initially taking the name, Portraits. After a few singles and a lineup change, they became The Fix. Their very first single, "Lost Planes," along with a few live tracks, garnered them enough attention to warrant a contract offer. But that offer was contingent on a name change -- MCA was apparently worried about connotations of drug use. And, thus, The Fixx was born and they set about recording their debut album, Shuttered Room. In the US, this record peaked at #133 on the Billboard 200. The aforementioned singles -- "Stand or Fall" and "Red Skies" -- peaked at #76 and #101 on the Billboard Hot 100. They fared better on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart, where "Stand or Fall" peaked at #7 while "Red Skies" hit #13. Both songs featured in MTV rotations and were top 100 hits on the UK Singles chart as well. 

Some tracks on this record have a frenetic energy and urgency, but not the sound, associated with the band's later, and bigger, hits. But I kind of feel like they could have been recorded by any other run-of-the-mill new wave band of time. In particular, "Some People," "Cameras in Paris," and "Sinking Island" evoke this feeling for me. A few other non-single tracks, however, show the band's promise. I place "The Fool," "Lost Planes," and "I Live" in this latter category. Even with those assessments of a split quality, I find the entire record to be entertaining. I'm not saying Shuttered Room is a complete album, like most of the band's later releases, but I would call it a complete experience. As usual, your mileage may vary. 

In revisiting the songs on Shuttered Room, I found that the track lists for the UK and US releases differed in song order and content (the US release replaced two tracks on side 2). For this Flashback, I compiled a playlist based on the original 10-track UK listing, but I added "I Found You" and "The Strain" -- the US replacements -- as the 11th and 12th tracks in the playlist. There were also two different videos for "Red Skies." I think this video is perhaps the more familiar version for the US record buying, and MTV-watching, audience. But as far as I can tell, the version of "Red Skies" in my embedded YouTube playlist is truly the original video for that song. Enjoy!

FlashbackShuttered Room (May 13, 1982)

That's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven!

Friday, May 6, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for May 6, 2022

[The Animals Cry] -- It's a bleak record, but we're still celebrating its 40th anniversary. Forty years ago this week – on May 4, 1982 – The Cure released Pornography*, their fourth studio album. At the outset of 1982, The Cure was pretty much at the point of a complete collapse. Substance abuse, depression, and exhaustion from constant touring... it all likely contributed to the palpable gloom of Pornography, which is widely considered their darkest album. At the very least, Pornography does represent the nadir of The Cure's emotional descent, capping off a trilogy of sorts after Seventeen Seconds (1980) and Faith (1981). 

Critics were altogether unkind in their reviews. For example, my favorite reviewer, J.D. Considine, wrote: "Pornography comes off as the aural equivalent of a bad toothache. It isn't the pain that irks, it's the persistent dullness." However, the album did well in their native country, peaking at #8 in UK's album chart and staying on the charts for nine weeks. And, in retrospect, fans (and some critics) have come to regard Pornography as a seminal entry in the history of goth rock. While the truth of this record is probably somewhere between failure and masterpiece, I tend to side with those who praise it. Then again, I had the advantage of hindsight because I didn't discover this album until 1986 or 1987. 

Pornography's third track, "The Hanging Garden," was the record's sole single, and it was a minor hit, reaching #34 in the UK. For distribution, "The Hanging Garden" was part of a gatefold double pack of 7" singles with a total of four tracks: "The Hanging Garden" and "One Hundred" as Part One, and "A Forest" (Live) and "Killing an Arab" as Part Two. This double pack was titled A Single, but it is usually referred to as "The Hanging Garden" to avoid confusion. "The Hanging Garden" begins with a wonderfully driving drum beat and an accompanying bass riff that bends and dances, almost breathlessly. Although the lyrics are absolutely sombre, and the guitar and keyboard work is somewhat wispy or dreamy, the bass and drums keep the song moving with a sense of dread urgency. This might be the only track on the record in which the instrumentation does not completely overwhelm Robert Smith's voice. 

Much of this record feels like a wall of oppressive sound, especially the drums, obscuring the vocals. The drums were a conscious decision. Apparently, drummer Lol Tolhurst played his parts in a huge open space, facilitated by removing all the acoustic dividers from the main room ["Rediscover Pornography" on Udiscover Music]. The vocals, however, are an afterthought, and I've found nothing to account for the buried vocal mix. Perhaps that was by design. Alternatively, it could have been a subconscious result of Smith's state-of-mind at the time. He apparently wanted to create "the ultimate 'fuck off' record" [according to Jeff Apter's 2006 book, Never Enough: The Story of The Cure]. 

Of course, neither Robert Smith nor The Cure suffered a demise in 1982. They've gone on to record nine more studio LPs, nine EPs, and numerous singles. Their last studio record was released in 2008, but the band still tours; a European tour was announced for the Fall of 2022.  

This week's embedded YouTube playlist mimics the eight tracks of the original 1982 release, though I took the liberty of using live versions for two of the tracks. Enjoy! 

FlashbackPornography (May 4, 1982)

Well, that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven!

*I do hope we don't get too many web 'bots trawling here because of that word.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

The Batman

 Dangrdafne review:

Wow Wow Wow Wow!!

For me this was The.Best.Batman!

I loved every second of it. I loved Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman. I loved Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. I loved Jeffery Wright as Gordon and even Andy Serkis as Alfred (it was nice to see Andy as a full human ;) character). 

In fact during the car chase, before the chase even ended, I said to Brainwise that this was my favorite Batman ever. He asked, "person or movie?" I answered Yes. Then the chase ended and I clapped and cheered. Wow!!!! I am all in.

This was an excellent noir detective movie and it was like a full comic book come to life in front of my eyes. Seriously, full on eye candy in all ways. Every scene was important and carried out perfectly. 

Hilariously I was concerned about people saying the movie was too dark to see but I had absolutely no problem with this issue. I was able to see everything and never felt that it was too dark to see. I also felt the violence was not as bad as people had said. I expected gore and blood and to avert my eyes all the time and I never did and I didn't think the violence was actually that violent. It was Batman comic book violence but it was also noir violence and you don't actually see most of it. Maybe I am just immune at this point after all the movies I have seen but I have no complaints about this movie... ok maybe there was a little too much whispering :) but I heard it all and didn't miss anything as can sometimes happen.

So my favorite things were:

1) The shots of Rob with the black eye makeup and his hair all disheveled and no, not because he looks hot or anything like that, as some would say. I just thought it seemed the most real Bruce out of the Batman suit and I think it represented Bruce's mind set: dark, disheveled, confused, lost, and wanting.

2) The car chase!! The noise, the rain, the speed, the filming of it all, the fire and the end shots!

3) The dark hallway shooting scene! Woah! Incredible filming and choreography!

4) The music. From the score to the chosen songs. All the sounds added depth and brought me deeper and deeper into the movie. So impressed.

5) Everything!

Seriously, I loved this movie. I didn't think it was too long, I didn't think it was too dark, I didn't think it was too violent, I didn't think anything bad at all. I thought it was a brilliant story, acting, filming, directing, everything. Can’t wait to watch it again! 

4 paws and a tail