kat b

kat b

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Born in 1980, Miss Kat B. began her childhood in the ice skating rink. When she tired of the sport, she quickly moved on to musicals and music. She loves soundtracks to films, is obsessed with video game music and has a penchant for pop rock. She once was in the power pop band 'Ozma' as the original keyboardist. She left the band to pursue her career in higher education. In 2002, she discovered her obsession - Kingdom Hearts. She has to have anything relating to Kingdom Hearts - be it tee shirts, music, games, you name - she's got it. Always in the know about pop culture, she loves random factoids about celebrities and the like. Also, she's a Disneyholic. Her love for Disney is only surpassed by her love for her husband. And that's just barely.

Posts by kat b
Dollhouse

Review: Dollhouse Volume 1: Epitaphs TPB

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For anyone that was a fan of the television show Dollhouse, this comic is right up your alley. It is a continuation of what happens prior to the end of the show. What exactly is Dollhouse? It is a sci-fi series created by Joss Whedon, which originally aired on Fox. If you have not seen the show, don’t fret. This comic stands on its own, but it does help if you are already familiar with the characters. The comic is written by the original writers of the show episodes “Epitaph 1” – which did not air in the US but can be found on the DVD release of Season 1 of Dollhouse– and then it’s companion, the series finale, “Epitaph 2.” The setting is prior to the events of what occurs in both “Epitaphs.”

Minor spoilers to the comic are ahead, so read at your own risk!

From Dark Horse – “The Rossum Corporation’s Dollhouse technology has gone viral with a synchronized phone call that wiped the minds of everyone it reached, turning them into mindless killers. Those who avoided the call–including show favorites Echo, Alpha, Mag, Zone, and Griff–must try to survive in the sudden apocalypse and be wary of Rossum’s expansive technological reach. This is only the beginning! Collects the complete miniseries. Written by series writers Andrew Chambliss, Maurissa Tancharoen, and Jed Whedon. Pencils are done by Cliff Richards, Inks done by Andy Owens and Cliff Richards, Colors by Michelle Madsen, and Letters by Nate Piekos of Blambot.”

The series name, “Dollhouse,” comes from the plot of the show. People sign their lives over to the Rossum company, the Rossum company wipes their memory, essentially making them living ‘dolls.’ People then pay an exorbitant amount of money to hire these ‘dolls’ to do whatever they want for a period of time – be it an afternoon, a weekend getaway, etc. They are ‘uploaded’ with the appropriate personality for the client, and then once the assignment is finished, they return to the Dollhouse, have their memory wiped, and are plain-Jane dolls once more. Each doll was named after the NATO code for letters, such as ‘Sierra’, ‘Victor’, ‘Echo’, ‘Alpha’, and ‘Whisky.’ ‘Echo’ is the main doll the show follows, which is played by Elisa Dusku. ‘Alpha’ is played by Alan Tudyk. Now, let’s get onto the review.

The art style of the comic is very gritty. If you are not a fan of blood and/or violence, then this might not be the comic for you. It begins with a bang, and that’s putting it lightly. The Rossum Corporation has been successful in transmitting the high-pitched frequency to wipe the minds of humans by just a simple telephone call. All phones rang in the United States at around 10:07 am, and anyone who answered their phone, snapped and began to kill anything in sight. We see one of the characters we met in “Epitaph 1 and 2,” Mag – a character played by Felicia Day (of Dr. Horrible and The Guild fame), in a conversation with a few of her girlfriends, when all hell breaks loose. As I stated, this is not a comic for those that have a weak stomach, as there is much carnage and death following the telephone calls. We focus on her story and meeting up with the other two characters from the “Epitaph” episodes – Zone and Griff.

The second storyline that takes place in the comic is about a boy named Trevor, who he meets, and what they do together. At the same time that Rossum sent the signal out, one of the operators that had helped ‘jail-break’ the system, Ivy – an assistant programmer who used to maintain implanting the dolls with their personalities – sends her own personality to any and all that could pick it up. We see one family – Trevor and his uncle Wendall – in a garage workshop. Wendall is one of the lucky recipients to receive Ivy’s implant, rather than the killing machine implant of the Rossum Corporation. Trevor is about 10-11 years old, and is extremely brave. Per the orders of his uncle, or Ivy, he heads to Dodger Stadium where he meets with Alpha.

I love the concept of Ivy sending her personality out to whoever could pick it up – and I’m pretty sure the writers loved it too, as they have a lot of fun with her personalities. I won’t give anything away, but let’s just say that there is a very….awkward situation in which we find the Ivy personalities in later in the comic. Definitely a much needed comic relief.

When Trevor meets Alpha at Dodger Stadium, Alpha modifies his head to accept downloads of things Trevor never knew how to do before via a flash drive. Unlike Alpha, who has many, many personalities in his head, Trevor just has to upload one thing at a time to learn what he wants, when he wants it. He learns hand-to-hand combat, firearms, etc. via a flash drive. However, he needs to lose something in order to gain something, which will come into play later in the comic. Once their bond is established, we see that the Rossum dolls try to attack them.

Alpha states that they need to find Echo, who holds the key to end all of the mayhem that is going on by what lies in her own mind. The group then heads towards D.C. – which is the last place anyone had seen Echo.

The other story, with Mag and Zone, shows them struggling in Hollywood, trying to find a way to get out and/or stop the drones from killing. The drones have accessed the radio tower, and begin to broadcast via emergency channel frequency, trying to find and kill Echo. They make it their mission to try and take down the radio tower, so that the drones will stop responding to the high pitch frequency.

After being stopped by the next wave via the emergency broadcast system, Alpha decides they should head to Tucson, where the Rossum corporation headquarters is located. We meet a couple of more characters from the television show while in Tucson. Who do we meet? Well, this is where you’ll have to pick up the comic and find out.

As a huge fan of the show, this miniseries helped give me closure on what happened after the Rossum Corporation wiped people’s minds. I always felt that there was more to the story, but because it was canceled, I was going to have to just accept their fate. It was so nice to see the original writers of the show set up the story for this, as opposed to another writer. This is a true miniseries in comic book form. It is a must-buy for any Dollhouse fan. Again, even if you’re not a Dollhouse fan, this comic does stand on its own, as it talks about each of the characters (i.e. – Alpha), and why they are the way they are. If you haven’t watched the show, and you’ve seen Joss Whedon’s other work (Buffy, Angel, Firefly), then check it out. It’s a really neat show, with a very cool concept which is brought to light again in this wonderful comic.

For a free preview, please visit the Dark Horse website. Available now via Things From Another World.

 

 

Zelda – 25 Years of Music

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On October 21, I had the extreme pleasure of attending the Legend of Zelda: 25th Anniversary Symphony at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, CA. When Nintendo announced at E3 this year that they would be doing this concert, I knew that I would have to buy tickets. When I walked into the Pantages on that Friday night, it was made quite clear that these were my people. People who love and enjoy Zelda as much as I do. There were cosplayers and Zelda shirts everywhere (I wore one myself!). Just a bunch of video game lovers anxious to hear some of their favorite pieces performed live with an orchestra, instead of an 8-bit midi version.

The evening began with producer Eiji Aonuma addressing the audience, with the help of Nintendo’s translator, for he doesn’t speak very much English. He was very exuberant and excited that we were there to enjoy the evening, and that when they had had their first concert in Toyko, many people cried. So, he wished us to have a good time and hoped that we would cry as well; he wanted us all to have the same experience. He pointed to the screen behind him, mentioning how they’d be showing clips from the games, but there was ‘spoiler’ material in the clips, so if we hadn’t played the game, he was sorry. The audience had a hearty laugh at that. He said his farewell, and then left the stage.

When the conductor walked out onto the stage, I was ecstatic. It was a woman. Her name is Eimear Noone, and she’s amazing. It’s not very often that you see a woman conductor in front of an orchestra. Yes, there are women conductors in the choral field, but for every one woman conductor there are twenty men. Being the music geek that I am, this concert was already amazing, and the orchestra had yet to play a single note.

Outside the theater doors

Ms. Noone had quite the stage presence. She introduced each piece to us, telling us where we would be going on our journey for the evening. What I found very fascinating was that the orchestra members all wore headsets. They were filming the concert for Nintendo to use for a variety of reasons.

The concert began with Hyrule’s Castle Theme from A Link to the Past. A lot of people consider this game to be one of the best Zelda’s games, as was made clear by the audience whenever a montage from that game would come up on the screen. Next, the orchestra played a beautiful rendition of Princess Zelda’s Theme from A Link to the Past as well. The next movement was what I had be most looking forward to, as it is the first Zelda game I ever played through its entirety – the symphonic suite for Wind Waker. One of my favorite pieces of music is ‘The Great Sea‘, and to hear it live had me openly weeping. It was amazing watching Link sail across the sea, hearing the music performed live. This is why I had waned to attend this concert so badly; this moment is what made it special.

Next, Ms. Noone took us through the entire orchestra, showcasing each section off by playing snippets of music from Ocarina of Time. Did you know that there are 19 ocarina melodies, but each of them use only the five notes of ‘Re-Fa-La-Ti-Re’? I didn’t. But I do now, thanks to the show’s program. After introducing each section, they brought it all together by the entire orchestra playing ‘Saria’s Song’, another one of my absolute favorites. Heck, it used to be a ringtone on my phone. The arrangement of the piece was wonderful, and everyone in the audience was tapping their foot along to the beat.

The orchestra then played Boss Battle Medley, which took various boss battle music from four of the Zelda games, while each boss fight was shown on the screen. Everyone cheered when each boss made an appearance. They then played The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Medley to end the first half of the concert.

The second half began with everyone’s favorite villain – Ganondorf. The orchestra played Ganondorf’s Theme from Ocarina of Time. What was really cool about this particular piece is that they used an organ (albeit through a keyboard, but hey, what can you do?), which brought chills to my body. Seeing Ganondorf play the organ on the screen, remembering how it sounded through my TV as I played on the Nintendo 64, then to hear it live? A fangirl’s dream come true.

The next piece was simply titled The Legend of Zelda: Selected Shorts Suite, where they played as many songs as they could from all the games. The piece that followed was one that I was praying they would play. The two pieces I had wanted to hear live were The Great Sea and then Gerudo’s Valley from Ocarina of Time. The arrangement for ‘Gerudo’s Valley’ was, simply put, astounding. I love the 64-bit version, as well as the string version that was produced a few years ago. But this? This was icing on the cake. To hear the horns blast the melody, as the orchestra accompanied them brought tears to my eyes. Again. Mr. Aonuma would be proud.

Hyrule Field from Ocarina of Time followed. On the screen behind the orchestra they showed Link as he traveled across the fields of Hyrule upon Epona’s — Link’s horse— back. Hearing the trumpets shine was a ton of fun. Ms. Noone then introduced us to the two harpists that sat on either side of her, as they began to play the Great Fairy’s Fountain Theme from A Link to the Past. The two women that played made the music sing, hearing them go back and forth was very cool. And no, they didn’t show anything of the Great Fairy fountain.

Having not played the game since it was released; it was a real joy to watch scenes from Twilight Princess for the next piece – Twilight Princess Symphonic Movement. The music in the game was incredible, as was the game itself. It was like I was remembering all over what a wonderful game it was just by the music. It’s funny how we can associate music from certain things (video games, movies, etc). Ms. Noone actually talked about that in one of her segues between pieces. As I listened to the medley, I remembered my reactions to certain parts.

The evening’s scheduled program ended with The Legend of Zelda Main Theme Medley. The audience cheered and hollered, asking for more. No one wanted to say goodbye to the orchestra just yet. Our hollers were heard, and then, the biggest surprise of the evening happened.

Koji Kondo, the composer of the Zelda music, came out on the stage. Everyone screamed, applauding loudly. He sat down at the piano and played Grandma’s Theme from Wind Waker. Watching his hands travel across the keys, knowing that this man was responsible for some of my favorite music in the world (video game or otherwise), made me cry. Again. Lots of tears left my eyes that night. As the song concluded everyone in the audience jumped to their feet. He then thanked everyone, in English, for coming to the concert. He quietly exited the stage, and Mr. Aonuma came back out and said that he had wished he could speak English like Koji, again making the audience laugh. He then informed us that we would be hearing the main theme from Skyway Sword, the Zelda game that is set for release on the 20th of November.

The 25th Anniversary Logo

It was an amazing night. I am so thankful for being able to experience it. I know that when Skyway Sword is released, there will be a music cd to accompany it for the 25th anniversary. I’m hoping that this music cd will be what I got to hear live so all of you can listen to it. If you are a lover of video game music, it will be a must-have for your collection. This night will be something I will never forget.

Fraggles Everywhere

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Hey guys and gals. Now that things seem to be quieting down since Comic Con has come and gone, I’ve got a treat for you. It’s your resident Fraggle Rock girl back with a new review for our good friends over at Archaia. Let’s jump to it, shall we?

Archaia has released all of the Volume 2 issues of Fraggle Rock (see previews reviews – Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3) into a hardbound book called – Fraggle Rock Volume  2: Tails and Tales. From Archaia’s press release:

Get ready to rock—Fraggle style! Archaia and The Jim Henson Company follow up their highly acclaimed FRAGGLE ROCK anthology series with a brand-new collection of stories, featuring the antics of Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Boober and Red! Worry is indeed for another day, as this new series features a stellar lineup of talent, including: Grace Randolph (Muppet Peter Pan, Marvel Her-Oes), Chris Lie (Return to Labyrinth), Jake Forbes (Return to Labyrinth) and Ross Campbell (Wet Moon, Shadoweyes)! Featuring a cover by MOUSE GUARD’s David Petersen and activity pages from fan-favorite writer and artist Katie Cook!

What I find really great about this is that all of the fabulous comics are in one great hardcover book that is a good addition to any comic book library. Even if you purchased the issues when they were released, this is a great collectible to have.

At the beginning of the book, it takes you through all of the residents of Fraggle Rock, giving a great bio for each player in the series, as well as the people or creatures they interact with (for example, a Doozer). They make it very easy to just pick up the book, even if you are not familiar with the world of Fraggle Rock.

If you remember, at the end of each of the issues, they had an activity section. If you’re like me and drew on your actual comic book, then here’s another reason to pick up this hardcover. Now, you can always have a clean copy of the sketches, with no worries about damaging the book!

The book also includes a look back at how the actual comic came to life, written by the managing editor Tim Beedle, and shares with us how each of the artists/illustrators/colorists came to be a part of the project.

As I’ve said before, even if you bought these comics when they came out, this is a great addition to any library. You can pick it up at most comic book shops and bookstores for $19.95.

Down in Fraggle Rock

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Fraggle Rock Vol 2 Issue 3 cover

I was given the honor of reviewing the next Fraggle Issue (Vol 2 #3). This is another great comic, one everyone is sure to love. How about we throw our cares away and get right into the review?

From ArchaiaReady to return to the Rock? Gobo, Red, Mokey, Wembley and Boober are ready to lead you on a new set of adventures and this time they’re bringing some friends. Fan favorites Large Marvin and Cantus and the Minstrels make appearances in the third issue of our second volume of FRAGGLE ROCK. Expect songs, dances, games, competitions, exploration, Doozers, Gorgs, fur, hardhats, lucky walking sticks, semi-carnivorous pet plants and maybe a radish soufflé or two, all courtesy of a wild team of contributors that includes Katie Cook, Paul Morrissey and Nichol Ashworth!

The first story is called ‘My Gift is my Song’ and the story and artwork are done by Katie Cook, and the colors are done by Joanna Estep. It is Mokey’s birthday and Boober is trying to figure out the perfect gift for her. He decides that he wants to give her socks, but then Red appears and tells him that she has gotten socks for Mokey. So next, he goes and sees Gobo and Wembley. Now, Wembley is one of my favorite Fraggles. He’s found a unique bunch of flowers that he plans on giving to Mokey. The flowers? Well, let’s just say they are pretty darn hilarious and clever. Props to Ms. Cook for imagining those clever flowers.

While still searching for a gift, Boober runs into Cantus, a wandering Minstrel Fraggle. Boober asks him if he has any suggestions and Cantus tells him that he should pick something from inside. This gives Boober the idea to make a Radish pie, radishes being Mokey’s favorite, and dashes off to the Gorg’s garden up above. When he arrives at the radish garden, he, quite comically, watches as they all disappear. Where did they go? I’ll let you read the comic to find out.

His next stop is to Majory, the Trash Heap. I loved this section of the comic. It was as if Ms. Cook decided to throw in some fun materials for the older generations that will be reading this comic either for themselves or with their children. I think that what she stuck in there will be quite fun for any parent that sits down with their child to read it because it will more than likely begin a dialogue about fun materials that are no longer around in our digital world.

Fraggle Rock Vol 2 Issue 3 Cover B

Boober makes his way back to down to Fraggle Rock and finally figures out what his gift to Mokey will be. Again, I do not want to give it away because I won’t be able to do it justice. Suffice to say, though, the title of the this particular comic should give you a clue as to what it is.

The next vignette in the comic is called ‘Shopping with Silly Creatures’. The story is done by Katie Strickland and the artwork is done by Lindsay Cibos. The adventure begins with Gobo announcing that he has received a letter from his Uncle Matt – the Fraggle that is traveling “Outer Space” (a.k.a the human world). The letter begins with Uncle Matt telling Gobo he finally found out where the ‘silly creatures’ get their clothes. Uncle Matt is standing in front of a laundromat and decides to enter the facility.

It’s always fun to see the Fraggles interact with humans. Uncle Matt’s adventure in the laundromat is quite humorous and had me laughing out loud as I read about it. Let’s just say that there’s one line where he mentions how his ‘fur has never been fluffier’. I bet you can just imagine what he did to make his fur feel that way. Of course, Uncle Matt does not realize that this is place one does their laundry at, rather than a store – which is what he believes it to be.

The last story is entitled ‘Red’s Chomp-a-Thon’. The story is written by Paul Morrissey and the artwork is done by Nichol Ashworth. Red and Gobo are watching the Doozers have a contest for construction and Red becomes jealous. She hates that the Doozers get to have all the fun and then comes up with a plan to have her own fun. She decides to have an eating contest – see who can eat a Doozer structure the fastest. She decides that she wants to win and so she picks the Fraggles least likely to be any sort of competition for her.

Now, we all know that if you try and rig a contest, you’re going to lose. The odds are against you for trying to do something like this. Of course, this happens to Red. The actual eating contest is quite hilarious with The Cave’s Oldest Fraggle constantly messing up what the actual contest is (he calls it a greeting contest, a beating contest, etc). The moral of the story is very touching. Even though Red did not win the contest, she still made lots of fun memories for her friends, and that’s what really counts in the end.

The team at Archaia really outdid themselves with this issue. I loved all of the stories and how they were presented. It’s so nice being able to catch up with these lovable Fraggles. It makes me feel like I’m a child again. And I think that’s one of their biggest selling points. Fraggles are timeless – no matter how young or old you are. It’s always such a delight to go back to Fraggle Rock and see what the gang is up to. I hope you’ll enjoy this issue as much as I did.

Click here for a free preview of ‘Fraggle Rock Vol 2 Issue #3. You can pick up your copy at a comic shop near you.

A Nerdy Girl Goes To the Symphony

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Mehta receives a star

Yesterday was an exciting day in the classical world of music. Zubin Mehta was given a star on the Walk of Fame and conducted the Israel Philharmonic at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. I was privileged enough to attend the concert in the evening.

For those of you that don’t know who Zubin Mehta is, he is an Indian conductor of Western Music. He was born in Mumbai, India in 1936. Yes, you read that correctly. 1936. As of this year, he has been conducting for 50 years and will be celebrating his 75th birthday in April. There are few conductors that are as famous as he is. I have always wanted to watch him, and last night did not disappoint.

When I drove up to the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, I was met with quite a shock. There were many protesters (peaceful at least) outside the venue. They were protesting because it was the Israel Philharmonic and they do not wish to support anything out of Israel. Now, I can understand politics and why someone would or would not support a government, but to protest a classical concert? It boggled my mind.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Once I arrived inside, I found out that my seats were behind the orchestra. The Walt Disney Concert Hall, if you have not had the pleasure of attending, is a theater in the round, of sorts. The music sounds the same from all different angles, just the visual changes. In the picture I’ve included, I sat at the very top right of the image. To watch Mehta’s expressive face and gestures was something I will not forget.

On the bill was Haydn’s 96th Symphony, “The Miracle”, as well as Mahler’s 5th Symphony. They began the concert by conducting the National Anthem, and then was followed by the Israel National Anthem. After this was finished, the orchestra shrunk in size to accommodate the proper arrangement for the Haydn work. I will be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Haydn, but this work is one of his later symphonies and is quite remarkable. I have never heard Mahler’s 5th Symphony live before. I was completely blown away. The entire work is over an hour in length and requires quite a lot of endurance from all members of the orchestra. Even if you have not heard Mahler’s work before, you can hear where film composers of the 20th century drew inspiration from it. The Israel Philharmonic is to be commended on how well they performed it. 70 minutes is an awfully long time to play. When the baton dropped on the last beat, almost the entire audience was on their feet, shouting their joy at the conclusion, myself included.

It never fails to amaze me at the vitality a conductor must have when in front of an orchestra. My degree is in Music Education, so I’d like to think I know a thing or two about music. Watching a man who has been conducting for over 50 years, has been conducting this particular orchestra for that length of time as well, and to see a man almost 75 years old do all of this was an experience I will never forget. If you ever get the chance to see him conduct, do it. You won’t be disappointed.

Fraggle Rock Vol. 2 #2 Preview_PG1

More Lovable Fraggles

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Cover A

I’m back with another review on the latest issue of ‘Fraggle Rock’. This time, we’ve got three new stories. From the press release by Archaia:

The Fraggles have solved many mysteries throughout Fraggle Rock, but in this new issue of Archaia’s acclaimed FRAGGLE ROCK series, they attempt to solve the greatest of them all! Joe LeFavi and Heidi Arnhold (LEGENDS OF THE DARK CRYSTAL) explore what it truly means to live when Gobo undertakes a quest to determine “The Meaning of Life.” But what will he have to sacrifice along the way? After that, Mokey struggles to find “The Perfect Words” in a thoughtful story from Tim Beedle (MUPPET ROBIN HOOD) and Eisner Award-nominated artist Ross Campbell (SHADOWEYES, WET MOON). Finally, Boober’s seeing monsters in “The Fraggle Who Cried Monster,” a hilariously warped tale from the minds of Jason M. Burns (A DUMMY’S GUIDE TO DANGER) and Chandra Free (THE GOD MACHINE).

Let’s jump in, shall we?

Cover B

The first story is entitled “The Meaning of Life” and the story is done by Joe LeFavi and the artwork by Heidi Arnhold. The story begins with Gobo talking to the storyteller, saying that his Uncle Matt once went on a quest that he could not complete. He heads back to the other Fraggles to tell them about it and says that he’s going to try and complete it himself. They ask him what the quest was and Gobo tells them he’s going off to find the Meaning of Life. They all begin to laugh at him, but when Gobo tells them how serious he is, they decide to go with him. Well, all but Boober. But Boober finally relents when Red tells him “But when we return with permanent stains all over our clothes, can you live with the guilt (of not joining us)?” And then Boober sighs and states he’ll go and get his things.

I really liked this vignette. There is a lot of heart to the story. One of my favorite panels is when they’re in the the Crystal Cavern and they don’t want to disturb the Rock Clingers. If they do, and they make eye contact with them, they will fall in love with them forever. The Rock Clingers are the most adorable, cutest creatures I have ever seen. There is one panel where one of them is stretching, waking up. Adorable. Of course, since they are waking up, you know what that means. Someone looks into their eyes! I won’t spoil who, but the Fraggles go and rescue them. The story continues on after that.

Another awesome part of this vignette was they showed one of Uncle Matt’s postcards. That postcard segment was really well done. In case you’ve forgotten from the show, Uncle Matt is in the “real” world – aka where we live – and goes exploring. He sends Gobo postcards of his adventures, inspiring Gobo to go on his own adventures.

I can’t stress enough how great this segment is. I would suggest picking up the comic for this story alone, but there are two more stories which I’ll talk about. The next story is called “The Fraggle Who Cried Monster” and is written by Jason M. Burns and the artwork is done by Chandra Free. The story begins with Gobo finishing off a scary story around a campfire. The Fraggles then all go to bed, but Boober begs for another story. Boober, it turns out, was scared by the last story and would like to hear another one with a happy ending. Gobo tells him that monsters aren’t real and to go and lie down. Boober enters his room and sees one of the monsters from the story and goes running back to Gobo’s room. Gobo repeats that monsters are not real and to go back to bed.

This story was actually quite fun. There are many different types of monsters. I won’t tell you what they look like so you can see for yourself. They’re not scary, I promise. If possible, they’re “cute” monsters. This is Fraggle Rock, of course. Not ‘The Ring’ or something like that.

The last story is called “The Perfect Words” and is written by Tim Beedle, with art by Ross Campbell and colors by Lizzy John. This  story focuses on Mokey and her wanting to pen the perfect poem about her friends. As a writer, I can feel her dilemma. She wants it to be just perfect but she’s not sure how to begin. A line that stuck out to me – “It’s okay. Getting started is always the hardest part. Once I figure out the beginning, the rest will flow like water.” It is so true!

Again, this story has a lot of heart to it. I won’t give away the ending, but just know that it is very touching and sweet. Mokey does an excellent job with her words. However, to get there, she secludes herself off from having fun with her friends.

I love this comic. All the different art styles make for a fantastic visual. It’s nice to see such fantastic stories about these lovable Fraggles. For your enjoyment, there’s a preview of each of the stories at the end of this article. Now if only we could convince someone to turn these stories into a television show. No, wait. They are perfect the way they are. I hope you give the second issue a chance.

(more…)

Fraggle Rock v2 001 Preview_PG1

Lovable Fraggles

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I was asked to review the new issue of Fraggle Rock Vol. 2 #1 (of 3). I jumped at the chance – I loved watching ‘Fraggle Rock’ on HBO in the 1980s. It was one of my favorite shows. I wasn’t aware that Archaia had turned it into a comic book tale.

From the official press release – “Get ready to rock—Fraggle style! Archaia and The Jim Henson Company follow up their highly acclaimed FRAGGLE ROCK anthology series with a brand-new line of comics, featuring the antics of Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Boober and Red! Worry is indeed for another day, as this new series features a stellar lineup of talent, including: Grace Randolph (MUPPET PETER PAN, MARVEL HER-OES), Chris Lie (RETURN TO LABYRINTH), Jake Forbes (RETURN TO LABYRINTH) and Ross Campbell (WET MOON, SHADOWEYES)! Featuring a cover from MOUSE GUARD’s David Petersen and activity pages from fan-favorite Katie Cook!”

There are three stories told in this issue of ‘Fraggle Rock’. The first is a very cute story about dreams entitled “Wembley and the Great Dream Capade.” The story begins with Wembley waking up from a dream, then meets up with the other Fraggles to talk about their dreams. Wembley says that he doesn’t dream about anything exciting, while the other Fraggles go on and on about how awesome and amazing their dreams are – Red dreams of a giant slide, Gobo dreams of musical crystals, and so on. The others begin to offer suggestions to Wembley on how to make him dream. My favorite suggestion? Boober says that he should try writing what he wants to dream on his eyelids and Wembley says that he tried, but it gave him an eye-rash. It’s the quirkiness that made me really enjoy this short story.

Did you know that to share a dream with a Fraggle you must sleep with your heads touching? I had no idea. But, in this story, the Fraggles help Wembley have a nice dream by sharing their dreams with him. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that by far the most hilarious dream to me was Red’s. But I’m a sucker for Red, so there’s that.

The second story is called “Boober and the Ghastly Stain”, and has Boober holding up a mop in a triumphant pose. Gobo has messed up one of his shirts and has given it to Boober to clean. A very simple story, but tons of heart in it. As Boober cleans the stain, he sings a jaunty tune to make the time pass by. It’s quite cute and reminds me of when I clean up around my house, I tend to hum a little tune like that as well. This story is a bit shorter than the first story, but there is nothing wrong with it being short and sweet. I mean, you can talk about a stain until the cow’s come home, but really? Would you, the reader, want to read that? I think what they did was very clever and came to a fun conclusion.

The last story is called “Brave Sir Wembley”, and the art style is very different from the first two tales. The first tale had a very “comic-book” feel to it, the second was more of a “serial” feel, and this one – this one is unique on its own. It looks and feels like it was done with colored pencils – the lines are very soft and flowing. The story is about Wembley and Boober’s journey to “outer space” to get a postcard that Uncle Matt has sent to Gobo for the special occasion of ‘Glory Song Celebration’. What happens on their journey? Pick up the comic to find out. It’s actually quite hilarious – especially since Boober tends to rattle on and on about what may or may not happen in ‘outer space’.

At the end of the comic, Red gives the reader tips on how to stretch before exercising. I found this to be really fun. Again, huge Red fan. And after that, there was a coloring page that relates back to Boober’s story. I think it’s really fun how Archaia stuck those two items in the comic. Were they needed? Nope. Did they make a difference to me? Yep. I really loved the coloring option. I’m a huge nerd when it comes to coloring books and the like.

So, if you’re like me – a child of the 80s, or grew up watching ‘Fraggle Rock’, or heck – if you caught it on Netflix – check out this comic. It’s a ton of fun and you won’t be disappointed in it at all. Retailing at $3.95 – you really can’t beat that.

Click below for six preview pages!

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A Nerdy Girl Reviews A New Anime

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An old friend from childhood posted a link for a new anime on my Facebook wall a few weeks ago. He said, “Since you’re probably one of the only other person that I know that likes anime, I thought I’d share this with you.” So, I took a look at the show, and instantly became a fan. First of all, however, I think this anime is meant more for women than men. I’m not saying men won’t enjoy it as it was a male friend who introduced me to this, but the style and the storylines seem to be catered more to a woman’s interest and perspective. I decided to take a break from my ‘Bleach’ reviews and present to you ‘Princess Jellyfish’.

Tsukimi and Clara

When I watched the first episode, I immediately became quite excited. The intro showcases the girls in famous film settings. First clip shows them as the ‘Sex and the City’ gals, and then the next clip shows them in a Star Wars setting. All of the main characters from the show are shown in the opening montage. It definitely set the bar high for me when they showed the Star Wars material.

The story focuses on a girl named Tsukimi who is in love with jellyfish. At a young age, her mother took her to an aquarium and showed her the jellyfish, and how they looked like princesses with their long tentacles. We find out that her mother actually passes on a few months after this visit to the aquarium, so the jellyfish hold a special place in Tsukimi’s heart.

Tsukimi lives with four other girls who are “homely” like herself. They are considered NEETs (“Not in Education, Employment or Training“). They all hate being out in society for fear of women who are stylish and dressed to kill. Whenever they are approached by someone like this, they immediately turn to stone out of fear of being addressed.

The main players of the anime

The apartment house they live in is referred to as the “nun” house. It’s a communal living home and they all hang out together. Each girl has their own unique “trait”. Tuskimi has her jellyfish, Chieko is always dressed in a traditional kimono and loves her traditional Japanese dolls, Mayaya is obsessed with ‘Records of Three Kingdoms’ and is always referring to specific battles and commanders, Banba is obsessed with trains, and then Jiji – who is obsessed with older men. There is one other woman living in the apartment, Juon Mejiro – she writes a very popular manga that the girls help put together once she’s finished with it and needs to go to print. A very eclectic household.

In the first episode, Tsukimi attempts to go into the city to an aquarium to see jellyfish and becomes too frightened by society and runs back home. Feeling bad for herself, she decides to take a stroll and comes to a pet shop where there are two jellyfish in a tank together. However, these two jellyfish aren’t supposed to be together – one will kill the other off due to its toxicity. So naturally, Tsukimi begins to pound on the door wanting to warn the clerk of the impending jellyfishs’ doom. He pushes her back and she bumps into a ‘stylish’ who then comes to her defense.

The Stylish and Tsukimi

Tsukimi can’t talk around the stylish because she’s too afraid. The stylish bargains with the clerk saying to let her take the jellyfish home since it’s just going to die anyway. Tsukimi names the jellyfish Clara and her and the stylish, whose name is Kuranosuke, return to the apartment house.

Kuranosuke goes up to Tsukimi’s room and then grabs a blanket and states that she’s tired. She passes out on the floor as Tsukimi makes Clara comfortable in the bathtub (she hasn’t bought the necessary equipment to house said jellyfish, so it’s a make-shift tank for now). She walks back into her room and sees Kuranosuke passed out on her floor. They wake up the next morning and Tsukimi receives another surprise. Turns out that Kuranosuke is actually a boy (no boys allowed in the apartment house) who likes to wear women’s clothing. She is shocked and passes out.

There is pretty much everything in this anime, so far. Romance, drama, intrigue, comedy. I’ve only given you a description of the first episode because I don’t want to spoil the rest for you. We do meet Kuranosuke’s family – his father and half brother Shū are in politics. Shū becomes an important character in later episodes. And he’s particularly handsome (for a cartoon, that is).

There are going to be 11 episodes for this anime. You can watch them here. They post the episode the same day it airs in Japan, which is quite nice. This anime originated as a serial manga for the manga magazine Kiss in 2008. I really enjoy this anime and am going to be sad when it ends. There are only three episodes left. So, if you have some free time and have enjoyed what you read, definitely check this out. You won’t be disappointed.

A Nerdy Girls Reviews a Nerdy Band

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On Saturday night, I had the pleasure of going to see Weezer’s “Memories” tour. The venue? The Gibson Amphitheater, or formally known as the Universal Amphitheater, in Los Angeles, CA. They’re doing two shows at each stop on the tour – first night is a play through of ‘The Blue Album’ and the second night is a play through of ‘Pinkerton’. Now, ‘Pinkerton’ is my favorite album of theirs, so as soon as tickets went on sale, I bought two tickets. I’ve never had the pleasure seeing this band perform live. And I gotta say, I wasn’t disappointed one bit. They are a GREAT band live.

The evening began with their “hits”, as was billed on the tour heading (‘Greatest Hits’ plus the respective albums). They  began their set with their most recent single ‘Memories’ to get the crowd into the mood. They continued through the ‘00s by playing most of the radio hits throughout the decade. I was thoroughly pleased when they played ‘Perfect Situation’. That’s one of my favorite songs off of ‘Make Believe’ and one of my favorite music video of theirs. What was special about this song when they performed it tonight – Jorge Garcia (Hurley from LOST, and the man who’s face graces their most recent album ‘Hurley’) joined the band and sang with River as a duet. Here’s the video, if you’d like to check it out.

Most people were hoping they would play a few B-sides and they did not disappoint. They played ‘You Gave Your Love To Me Softly’, which can be found on the ‘Angus’ soundtrack. They also played ‘Suzanne’ from the ‘Mallrats’ soundtrack. I won’t lie. I cried a little bit hearing ‘You Gave’ played live. And I was screaming and bopping around in the audience.

Throughout the show, River (lead singer of ‘Weezer’) would stroll through the crowd while singing. It was great to see him interact with the crowd, and never once did he push anyone away. Even when he was mobbed by a ton of people. He just stood there and continued singing, while being touched and fondled by those surrounding him.

They ended the first half with ‘Only in Dreams’. Now, I’ve never seen one of their shows live, but I knew from lore that that was the song they tended to end their shows with. They ended the first half with that and it was pretty spectacular. If you’re unfamiliar with the song, there is a HUGE build-up with the guitars playing a riff over and over and then crescendos into an all out rock anthem. It’s fantastic. As soon as the first half ended, I became giddy. I knew what was coming next and really couldn’t wait.

The second half began with one of the guys sharing slides from pictures of early band memories. Then, they launched into the album ‘Pinkerton’. They played through it in its entirety. To hear ‘Tired of Sex’ and ‘The Good Life’ were the highlights for myself. The energy that River carried throughout the show was amazing. It was funny, the first half he was wearing his trademark glasses, but then for the second half – it was like we traveled back in time to 1996. He wasn’t wearing his glasses, and he was wearing the button-up shirts that I remember him wearing as a teenager. It was fantastic.

If you have the opportunity to see this tour, do it. Don’t hesitate. Even if you’re not a huge fan of Weezer’s, they put on such a fantastic show. I’d say the price is worth it to check it out. You will probably end up becoming a huge fan by the end of the show. There were a few songs I would have loved to have heard live (‘Jamie’ and ‘Mykel and Carli’), but over-all, it was probably one of the best concerts I’ve been to. Definitely in my top 3. I would have loved to have seen ‘The Blue Album’ the night before, but I’m at peace with not being able to. Besides – ‘Pinkerton’ is my favorite album of theirs. If ever there was a concert I had to see, it was this one.

A Nerdy Girl Reviews Bleach – Season 1 Part 2

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Welcome back, dear readers to my second part of reviewing Bleach Season 1. When we left off, I was discussing Urahara and his mod soul Kon. I will pick up from there, if you don’t mind.

In the next episode, we get a glimpse into Kurosaki Ichigo’s past. His mother was killed when he was a young boy by a Hollow. When he was a boy, he did not realize it was a Hollow. He was only able to see ghosts; he did not know Hollows existed until he met Kuchiki Rukia. He had been walking home with his mother when the Hollow came and took her away. Ichigo had to watch this happen in front of him. In this episode, it is the anniversary of her unfortunate death, and we see the human side of Ichigo and his family, including his father. It is the one day a year where his father acts somewhat normal to him, and smokes his only cigarette for the year. You can tell that Ichigo’s father – Isshin – was very much in love with his wife.

As they are visiting the grave, they are confronted by the same Hollow that attacked his mother. The Hollow is called the ‘Grand Fisher’ and he tricks people with his lure, hence the Fisher title. Ichigo is able to attack him and cause him immense damage, but is unable to kill him. He disappears and makes his way back to where Hollows reside – a place called Hueco Mundo. We’ll be seeing much more of this plane later on in the series, but for now – it is where Hollows live.

Next, we are reintroduced to Ishida Uryuu, the last Quincy. We learn that Quincies are the sworn enemy of shinigami’s, and will do anything they can to destroy them. Ishida releases a potion that will draw Hollows to the area, so they can have a competition to see who can hurt the most Hollows. Karakura Town becomes overwhelmed with Hollows, making it so neither of them are able to contain them. We find out that Chad can see Hollows now, in order to help protect Ichigo’s sister Karin, and fights back. As he does this, he develops a new power – his right arm is transformed and is able to shoot energy at the Hollows to destroy them. So, now we’ve got two of Ichigo’s friends (or enemies) that have powers to help his fight as well.

Following this episode, we find out that Rukia has broken Soul Society’s law by giving her powers to Ichigo. A shinigami by the name of Abarai Renji appears to take Rukia. Ichigo is enraged and challenges him to a battle. They are well-matched until Renji releases his zanpakuto’s (sword) first form, and Ichigo realizes that he is no match for him. He finally finds his footing and becomes more confident, but then a new shinigami comes to collect Rukia. In the process, this new shinigami – Kuchiki Byakuya – severely injures Ichigo, so Ichigo cannot follow. Rukia says she’ll return to Soul Society only if Ichigo’s life is saved. Ichigo has been stripped of his powers. Just as Rukia returns to Soul Society through a sliding gate, the shopkeeper Urahara appears. He says he will help Ichigo train to save Rukia.

Rukia had begun to go to school with Ichigo but when he returned to school the following day, no one except for Chad, Inoue and Ishida remembered her. This was thanks to a memory wipe done by Soul Society to make everyone forget who she was. Ichigo begins to train underneath Urahara’s shop in what amounts to a giant canyon. One would never suspect something this large underneath such a tiny shop. Urahara is full of secrets. Urahara pops Ichigo with his cane, which makes Ichigo’s soul leave his body. However, unlike when this occurred while he was a substitute shinigami, he is a normal soul now, who must regain his shinigami powers. We see Ichigo go through a lesson in his normal soul body. After he completes this lesson, he then has his chain broken (the chain that has been keeping his soul anchored to his human body) and it begins to eat its own links. Urahara drops him into a very large hole that his assistant dug (a very cute girl by the name of Ururu). We watch as the chain begins to disappear and then finally, Ichigo is left with a Hollow hole.

In the next part, we see that Ichigo is in a city, sitting on a skyscraper window, sideways. Above him is an older man who has long hair, a long billowing cloak and glasses. He tells Ichigo that he has always had shinigami powers – Byakuya only took the ones that he (Ichigo) had been borrowing from Rukia. He tells him that he needs to find the 1 box, out of the thousands that are falling from the sky, that contains his shinigami powers. He finds it, but it is too late. The Hollowfication process has begun. He shoots out of the hole and stands there with a Hollow mask, dressed as a shinigami. Ichigo then removes the mask and fights Urahara again. He attempts to draw his sword, but it is broken – it is not his true sword. The older man appears again and reveals his name to Ichigo – Zangetsu – Ichigo’s zanpakuto. Then, the real fight begins. Urahara has his own zanpakuto – which means he is/was a shinigami – but more on that at another time. For now, he uses his zanpakuto to protect himself from Ichigo’s power – he throws up a shield and still Ichigo blasts through it, and leaves a deep crevice in the ground behind where Urahara is standing. Ichigo is powerful – extremely powerful.

While Ichigo is training with Urahara, we see Orihime, Chad and Ishida begin training with their powers. A cat by the name of Yourichi trains them. And yes, the cat speaks. Orihimie is so trusting and childlike, it doesn’t even phase her. However, the men? They have minor freak-outs at the situation. So, Yourichi begins training Orihimie in using her powers (the two hairclips that she wears house 6 fairies that help her), as well as Chad with his powerful arm. Ishida trains alone in the way of the Quincy. They all decide to go to Soul Society with Ichigo.

We get a glimpse of Soul Society, only briefly, in the last couple of episodes of this season. We learn that Rukia is to be executed in 25 days for her betrayal of the shinigami. We also meet two other captains of Soul Society – Gin Ichimaru and Kenpachi. These two men, with Renji and Byakuya, will be pivotal agents in the next season.

At the end of the season, Urahara tells Ichigo to leave his bedroom window open at a specific time in order to receive a message. He receives the message and starts to leave, only to have his father stop him. His father gives him an amulet, saying that his mother gave it to him to protect Ichigo. Ichigo takes and it goes to Urahara’s shop, where he finds his friends there waiting, as well as Yourichi. And yes, Ichigo freaks out that the cat can speak. Urahara then opens a Senkaimon – a gateway that connects Earth to Soul Society. Then, Ichigo – Ishida – Chad – Orihime and Yourichi step through the portal, making their way to Soul Society. And that’s where this season concludes.

There is a lot of information that you receive throughout the last few episodes of this season. Bleach tends to do that. Information comes to you in droves. I think that’s one of the things I enjoy about this series. The information just doesn’t stop. And that’s what makes it great storytelling.

Stay tuned for my next review of Season 2. Until next time!

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