The Catgirl Critics’ Media Mewsings for September, 2007

by

Elizabeth:
Aloha and welcome back to The Mew!

Mary Nyan:
Once again, we’ll be chatting about recent science fiction, fantasy & horror stuff-

Jeannie:
– such as movies, TV shows , anime, comix, books, games and toys, nya!

Yvonne:
Meow-low Greetings! This month, the first cat-egory is books, starting with our thoughts on-

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
warning: plot spoilers ahead, nya!

Yvonne:
Although I must recuse myself from this part because I haven’t finished reading it yet
– I’ll be out on the lanai eating shrimp, so wave to me when it’s safe to come back, nya!

Mary Nyan:
‘kay!

Jeannie:
I want some shrimp too… there she goes… OK we can start now.

Elizabeth:
Without giving away too many kernels of the story, I’d like to make a few general comparisons between this book and the prior ones. This 7th, final novel in the series is another long haul, a few pages longer than the 4th book yet still not as many as the 6th. It seemed different from the previous six novels in that the bulk of the tale is a journey, an odyssey not set within the confines of Hogwarts for much of the book. However, as a sort of ‘bookend’ to the 1st novel, the events span several years; as in the first novel, there is a 10 year jump after chapter 1, whereas in this final novel, the epilogue is set 19 years after chapter 36.

But did I like it? Oh yes! Once again JK Rowling did an excellent job, telling a lavish, emotional final grand adventure. Many major and minor characters are tested as never before, and sadly there are a number of casualties along the way as they continue to be greatly developed. Over the many months on their journey to find the horcruxes to defeat Voldemort, harry, Hermione and Ron undergo many hardships, and there appropriately, there are long painful stretches of the book that convey much physical and emotional anguish, enormous tolls of terror, hopelessness and frustration, yet the friends endure with great bravery, strength, cleverness, even finding moments for humorous comradery and romance.

Jeannie:
There was such a neat steady build of excitement towards the 10th anniversary of Harry Potter, from the announcement and pre-ordering of the final novel, the advertising and merchandising of the 5th film which was then released in July, and the excitement in the air counting down the following 2 weeks until the record-setting release of this final book… which has taken me a few more weeks to savor! The excitement is hardly over though- as more ‘n more folks finish the book, there’ll be more ‘n more discussions of it, re-readings of the entire series, and the 6th film to look forward to next year!

Mary Nyan:
Purrrdon me for inturrrupting, but by “savor”, she meant reading.

Jeannie:
Hai! So there was an incredible amount of hype and antici–

Elizabeth & Mary Nyan in unison:
“SAY IT!”

Jeannie:
-pation! Hee! How does the book live up to such hopes and expectations? Can any book? It does so quite magnificently. The first twenty chapters are a gut wrenching long painful journey for those we care about, and the author does a brilliant job of making us feel every joyful and scary moment. If it seems to the reader like their quest to ‘find needles in haystacks’ might never end, that’s because JK Rowling so effectively conveys to the reader what our protagonists are enduring. Along the way we gain further insights into numerous important characters past and present, surprising plot twists,
thrilling action scenes and a rich travelogue amazing places as the series builds to an exquisite conclusion.

We learn much more of Dumbledore’s history and family. There are more revelations about Snape. Profound events- good and bad- affect the Weasley family. Many minor supporting characters have their finest hour. Wonderful places new and old are explored, including the homes of favorite characters that we’ve never visited before, to creepy new places of danger and mystery. Although we do not return to Hogwarts until later in the long novel, the adventure returns to the Dursley’s and Weasley’s homes, the Ministry of Magic, The Order of the Phoenix’s safe house, Malfoy Manor and even a thrilling return to the fabulous treasure vaults of Gringotts. Elves, centaur, giants, dragon, ghosts & goblins play important parts. But I should stop rambling and let Myayr get in a few words!

Mary Nyan:
Oh I loved the book, and I agree that the journey undertaken by Harry, Hermione and Ron is a long trek that is tough to get through. Just imagine yourself in a similar situation- having to disappear into the wilderness, not knowing where to begin in the world to search for the vital tools to stop the villains, not knowing if your friends and family are safe? But our trio never gives up; sure, some mistakes are made, and their adversaries are everywhere, but our heroes are smart and resolute as they deduce the vaguest clues, and know when to be courageously sneaky and when to march straight into open battle.

Although not every single character we’ve met over the course of the previous six novels shows up in this one, golly, so many of them do, for better or worse. As Elizabeth said, some do not survive this book, but there are happy fates for plenty, moments of triumph for several, ironic sympathies for those you might not expect, and without revealing the ending of the book (and series)- I’ll just say that I thought it was wonderful, and that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows surpassed my highest hopes and expectations. Um, well we should not keep Vonny waiting too long… we should bring her back!

Elizabeth:
Hopefully she has not eaten that whole tub of shrimp! VONNNYYYY!!!

Yvonne:
Nya… we’re out of shrimp sauce…

Jeannie:
Aw! Well, we’re done saying what we thought about the new Harry Potter book.
What would you like to say about what you’ve read of it thus far?

Yvonne:
I stayed up last night reading chapters 22 thru 30, nya. That’s where the book really picks up speed, as Hermione, Ron & Harry go from The Lovegoods’ to the Malfoys’, Fleur & Bill’s to Gringotts, and finally back to Hogsmead and Hogwarts, nya! It’s been sweeping along at a delightful clip, nya! I’ve got 150 pages to go- oh and gosh- I forgot to tell y’all- late last night I saw a big deer in the yard, nya !

End Harry Potter Spoilers

Mary Nyan:
Sugoi!!!

Jeannie:
Maybe it was a Patronus!

Elizabeth:
We girls, should be moving along… I believe we have a couple more books to mention!

Yvonne:
JennyJenn, whatcha got, nya?

Jeannie:
At Trinoc*coN, Mike got us a copy of Assembled! Five Decades of Earth’s Mightest, by the Jarvis Heads of avengersassemble.net, edited by our friend Van Plexico. It includes several essays by various authors on all eras of The Avengers, story arcs, writers, characters, spin-offs and a chronology, including recent events such as Civil War and The Death of Captain America. I heartily recommend
this book to any fan of Marvel Comics’ greatest heroes!

Yvonne:
Another friend was kind enough to loan us another book that was also purr-chased at Trinoc*coN-Television Fright Films of the 1970’s, written by David Deal, published by McFarland, nya! This book is a treasure trove of information about the neat spooky TV movies from that decade, nya. It is a very
good book, nya!

Jeannie:
Well then, I suppose that’s all of our book chat until we get to the comics cat-egory. What’s next?

Yvonne:
Well, I know what Myar’s favorite 70’s TV movie is-

Mary Nyan:
KISS meets the Phantom!!! Hee!

Elizabeth:
Myayr is very excited about the KISSology vol.2 DVD. She has been chomping at the bit to review it.

KISS!

Mary Nyan:
This 3 disk set spans the career of KISS from 1978 to 1991, including a number of concerts, music videos, television appearances (including the famous unmasking on MTV in ’83), documentary shorts, commentary by the band members (mainly Gene & Paul), and the European theatrical version of the movie KISS meets the Phantom of the Park, aka Kiss-Attack of the Phantoms.

There are two Easter eggs that I’ve found, both on disk 3. Inserts include a color booklet with notes, and a facsimile ticket to see KISS and the Phantom of the Park. There is also a bonus concert disk, and you’ll get 1 of 4 such bonus disks, which one you get depends on where you buy it.

I am very pleased with KISSology vol.2, although I am curious about a few aspects. First, I suppose I hoped this set would just focus on five more years 1978-1982 (until the end of their makeup era) … and it would have been nice, with more time devoted to the solo albums. Otherwise, this set covers 1979 to 1983 nicely, then jumps 4 years to cover 1987-1991.

I should add that in doing so, KISSology vol.2 concludes on a few profound notes, dedicated to the late Eric Carr.

Jeannie:
Although there’s not much devoted to the four KISS solo albums on KISSology vol.2, some of those albums’ great songs do turn up on the KISS Attack of the Phantoms soundtrack, which differs from the original version. I think those songs are used quite effectively and are an improvement. The movie has an optional audio track with commentary by actors Deborah Ryan, Carmine Caridi, and Don Lewis.

Yvonne:
It is so much fun to see KISS as super heroes in this campy movie, nya! They fight robots built by a mad scientist played by the marvelous actor Anthony Zerbe, nya! Brion James also appears as a security officer, who tangles with an android duplicate of Gene, nya! Although KISS’ stunt doubles do not ideally resemble the real band (even in costume & makeup) they do deliver some terrific stunts, nya. There are also mime actors, that do a good job portraying the robots, nya!

Elizabeth:
Ironically Brion James would later portray a Replicant in Bladerunner.

Jeannie:
I’m sooo looking forward to that forthcoming 25th anniversary multi disk Bladerunner DVD set!

Mary Nyan:
In summary, thus far I am very pleased with the KISSology collections, and look forward to vol.3!

Yvonne:
– and now it’s time to talk about recent TV shows & movies we’ve seen-but be warned, there are plot spoilers ahead for The Simpsons movie, Babylon 5 Lost Tales, Flash Gordon and Stardust, nya!

Elizabeth:
The first movie amongst this Mew’s review is-

The Simpsons Movie

was good… although compared to the equivalent amount of minutes of the TV series,
there’ve been much funnier & more clever episodes. Still, the animation is more ambitious, a few bits that are too daring for TV, and some fine character moments. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give The Simpsons Movie… ohhh… an 8.5!

Jeannie:
The animation, the voice cast, and music are excellent; the plot and pace good but not great. On one hand, I did chuckle at most of the jokes throughout the entire (almost 90 minute) movie, yet, there were no utterly hilarious moments that had me yowling with laughter. It is just a tad bit more than a 3 or 4 part TV story, yet feels somewhat rushed and there needed to be… more.

Mary Nyan:
I think it was as good as a Simpsons movie could ever hope to be. Compared to other contemporary American animated sitcoms that have made the leap to the big screen, The Simpsons movie is far better than Beavis & Butthead Do America, but not nearly as hilarious as The South Park Movie.

Yvonne:
The voice actors are brilliant and there are so many characters in this movie, nya. It is very entertaining, the best animated The Simspons ever been, and it’s worthy seeing on the big screen, nya.

Elizabeth:
OK, let’s proceed to-

Babylon 5 Lost Tales: Voices in the Dark

Jeannie:
I was very eager to see this, and this new story felt like a ‘season 6’ episode, with a sort of ‘stage play’ quality that some episodes of B5 had. Set several years later, 10 years after the formation of the interstellar alliance, Sheridan shares ‘our’ sentiment and delight in returning to the station. There was even a poignant reference to late actors Richard Biggs and Andreas Katsulas’ characters G’Kar and Dr. Franklin, who have gone “off to explore the rim”. There’s even a nice memorial tribute to those two actors on the DVD.

Mary Nyan:
Colonel Lockley and the priest have nice discussions about the relationship of religion and scientific reason, a theme that B5 is revisiting on this DVD. The cast does a fine job, including Simon, the demon-possessed crewman. Galen the Technomage from Babylon Crusade returns, and is quite charmingly enigmatic and subtly manipulative… he’s almost ‘the tempting devil’ to Sheridan, as Simon was to Lockley!

Yvonne:
We get to see some nice digital matte paintings of New York City and the space station’s vast hanger, nya. The look of the sets and FX, and Christopher Franke’s music, make this feel like a seamless continuation of the series, nya. It’s not an astounding episode, but I definitely liked this much more than the previous B-movie, Tales of the Rangers, nya! I would recommend this DVD to fans of Babylon 5, nya!

Elizabeth:
Yet I predicted what would happen, when Sheridan is presented with the proposed plan to assassinate the young Prince Vintari so that he wont become a future Emperor that MIGHT destroy the Earth. Sheridan is a good man and can’t kill an innocent kid that MIGHT become a villain. There are clever moments of doubt, as the Centauri Prince gave me pause to wonder if he was destined to be another Emperor Cartegia!

However, Sheridan does not make the same mistake that Pharaoh did by executing all the male babies, or that Doctor Van Hesslen to the child of Zira & Cornelius. Sheridan shows kindness to the possible villain of prophecy, so that the kid will (?) grow up to become a friend, steering us away from a future Armageddon (knock on wood)! Hopefully this is just the first of more B5 tales!

Jeannie:
So it seems we liked The Simpsons movie and the new Babylon 5 movie. Now as for-

‘F’ is for Flash Gordon- and that’s what we grade it, nya!

Elizabeth:
Do we need to expound?

Jeannie:
Oh, highlights include a robot porting in from Mongo to explode a bowling ball at a bowling alley, and one of Ming’s security ladies stuck on earth with only a monster truck for her trouble. Aside from one quick FX shot of a skyline, most of Mongo is a field with some trees and a few scenes that look as if filmed in an abandoned refinery. I was very disappointed.

Mary Nyan:
I did not care much for it, even if it did have a Proton Gun in it.

Yvonne:
It felt like… like a bad episode of Sliders without as much budget or fun. In my opinion,
every other incarnation of Flash Gordon (serials, cartoon, the 1980 movie) are superior.

Elizabeth:
Oh well, at least we’ve got wonderful episodes of Doctor Who to watch on the Sci Fi Channel!

Jeannie:
Agreed.

Mary Nyan:
Hai!

Yvonne:
Moving right along then-

Stardust, nya!

Mary Nyan:
Stardust benefits from a stellar (hee!) cast, breathtaking scenery, awesome sets, terrific FX, a thrilling and charming plot, sparkling dialog, clever humor and every ingredient an excellent fantasy tale could hope for. It’s beautifully written, designed, acted, directed, photographed and edited (with no annoying ‘shaky cam’ or speed ramping) I think this is one of the best movies of the year, and one of the best adaptations of a comic book / graphic novel that I’ve ever seen. On a scale of 1 to 10, I rate it at least 9.5 and highly recommend it!

Yvonne:
I thought it was a most beautiful movie and a lovely adaptation of the book, and give it an “A+”, nya!

Elizabeth:
Despite an inappropriate pop song during the end credits (the only thing about the movie I did not love), Stardust is a near perfect, most wonderful movie, tying with Ratatouille for my favorite of the year thus far.

Jeannie:
It’s got witches, pirates, ghosts, princes & princesses, swordfights, a unicorn, magical treasure, lush forests, charming villages, grand palaces, an airship, gorgeous costumes, romance, swashbuckling, dancing, fun villains, marvelous heroes, and a shiny cute star girl. Stardust is everything I hoped it would be and more!

Mary Nyan:
There are several other science fiction & fantasy Summer movies, we might not get to see them all. It looks like Sunshine, Skinwalkers, Underdog or The Last Legion might join our list of ‘the ones that got away’ in 2007… especially if we want to go see Stardust again!

Yvonne:
Speaking of which, it’s time for-

Lightning Round #2: Coming Cat-tractions, nya!

Elizabeth:
Lightning Round! Quick, what forthcoming movies of 2007 interest you most? Go Jeannie!

Jeannie:
The Last Legion, The Golden Compass, Beowulf, and National Treasure: Book of Secrets!

Mary Nyan:
My turn? Those, plus Black Sheep, Halloween, 30 Days of Night, and Aliens vs. Predator 2!

Yvonne:
I’ll pick I am Legend, Day of the Dead, Diaries of the Dead, and Resident Evil: Extinction, nya!

Elizabeth:
I’ll add Clannad, 3:10 to Yuma, Trick R Treat, The Last Full Measure, Balls of Fury, and 5-25-77. OK that’s it for the Lightning Rounds!

Jeannie:
Purr-haps we’ll have reviews of some of those next month.

Mary Nyan:
But next… toy talk! Vonny, you wanna get us started?

Yvonne:
This month’s talk about toys and collectibles starts with-

Hallmark Christmas Ornaments, nya!

Elizabeth:
Christmas ornaments… already for sale in July!

Jeannie:
That just gives us more time to buy them.

Mary Nyan:
We each have our own favorite theme of ornament I’ve noticed,

Yvonne:
Our friend Mike will be joining us for this part of the discussion, nya!

(all four catgirls):
HI MIKE!

Mike:
Hello angels! So are you ready with your selections?

(all four catgirls):
HAI !!!

Elizabeth:
We’ve already each picked out our five favorite ornaments. JenJen, why don’t you start?

Jeannie:
I like the science fiction and fantasy theme ornaments most of all. My picks for this year are Future USS Enterprise, R2-D2 and Jawa, Rose Fairy, Tinker Bell, and A Real Wonder Woman! Your turn, Myayr!

Mary Nyan:
‘Kay! My five favorite ornaments for this year are Blue Jay, Hooked on Fishing, Holiday Takeout, Toast for Two, and New Parents.

Elizabeth:
Um, I see the recurring food theme with those first four, but… why New Parents?

Mary Nyan:
It’s got a bottle of milk!

Yvonne:
I also went with a tasty theme too, nya. My five are Frosty Friends, Chilly Fishy Fun, Anyone Can Cook, Bake Shop, and Chocolate Moose, nya!

Jeannie:
How is the Frosty Friends ornament tasty?

Yvonne:
They’re makin’ ice cream, nya!

Jeannie:
I want some ice cream too

Yvonne:
Lizzy has to name her favorites, nya!

Elizabeth:
I like the cute kitty theme ornaments the most, such as Mischievous Kittens,
Pampered Cat, My 2nd Christmas, My 4th Christmas, and My 5th Christmas. Mike?

Mike:
The first ones I look for every year are the Peanuts / Snoopy ornaments!
This year’s offerings included Spaceman Snoopy, The Sunday Funnies,
To A Job Well Done, Beagle Scouts’ Campfire, and Winter Fun with Snoopy.

Speaking of Snoopy-

A dear friend was extremely kind to bring to us from Comic Con a special edition
Captain Snoopy bobble head toy, made by Funko and limited to just 480 of ’em.
It’s Snoopy wearing a Star Trek uniform shirt- yay!

Elizabeth:
Those are very nice!

Mike:
There is a companion piece, WoodSpock.

Jeannie:
Hee

Yvonne:
What is the next topic, nya?

Mary Nyan:
Well, we ended that one with Peanuts, so that is purr-haps a good segue to-

Comic Books!

Elizabeth:
My recommendation for this month is vol. 1 of Korgi by Christian Slade, published by Top Shelf. This is a charming, cute fantasy adventure of a girl named Ivy and her Corgi pup Sprout as they explore the forest near their village. There is no dialog, but no matter because the story is told so cleverly by such lavishly detailed, intricate pen & ink sequential art. All-ages fun for ten dollars, this paperback book would be a most delightful birthday or holiday gift!

Jeannie:
I was most pleased with Clubbing, a black & white graphic novel by Andi Watson (Skeleton Key, Geisha) and Josh Howard (Dead@17, Lost Books of Eve), published by Minx. It is about Charlotte, a gothy punk girl from London who is sent to live at her grandparents’ English country home. Although she does not enjoy golf as I do, she winds up investigating a supernatural mystery on the green. It was a fun read and it is my comix pick for this month!

Mary Nyan:
I’ll go next! Ironically, I’m also reviewing an Andi Watson book, Glister issue one, published by Image. Glister Butterworth is a cute girl who lives with her father in a mansion and many strange occurrences. One day she receives a haunted teapot, containing the ghost of a longwinded author that’d like her to help write a book. This becomes rather troublesome, so she tries to rid herself of it in numerous ways,
’til she discovers the ghost’s origin. There’s also a cute Skeleton Key short story, “Rock Scissors paper”, in which Kitsune, Tasmine & Mr. R try to save a couple from a peculiar creature. It is a very nice book!

Yvonne:
I really liked volume 12 in TwoMorrows Publishing’s Modern Masters series: Michael Golden, nya! It is full of wonderful art & information, and an interview with artist Michael Golden, expertly edited by our friend Eric Nolen-Weathington, nya! All of the Modern Masters books are a happy treat, nya! Ok it’s Mike’s turn, nya!

Elizabeth:
Mike-san, thank you for buying us a sheet of the new Marvel Comics Super Heroes postage stamps!

Mike:
You’re welcome, Lizzy! I like the stamps, although I am surprised there was no Thor stamp in the lot…

Jeannie:
…and I would have expected a Storm stamp instead of a Spider-Woman stamp (nice that it is)!

Mary Nyan:
Like the earlier DC comics stamps, it is nice to see some great comics artists’ works featured on these stamps, such as Kirby, Sinnott, Ditko, Buscema, Romita, Cockrum, Colan, Kane, and quite a few others!

Elizabeth:
Speaking of great comics artists, as many folks know, among sadder news in August was the passing of

Mike Wieringo

Jeannie:
Mike Wieringo drew some most impressive comics for DC, including
Justice League, The Flash, Robin, and Adventures of Superman.

Yvonne:
He also created some wonderful Marvel Comics, such as The Fantastic Four,
Sensational Spider-Man, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, and Rogue.

Mary Nyan:
Other publishers’ whose books his art graced include Malibu, Millennium, Caliber, Gorilla and Image. At the latter, he collaborated with author Todd DeZago to create the beautiful fantasy series Tellos!

Mike:
Wikipedia has a good article on him, that more eloquently expounds upon his life, career and creations in detail than we could here. That’s at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Wieringo
There is an excellent book about him published by TwoMorrows, Modern Masters vol. 9. and of course, there are the latest announcements at his official site, http://www.mikewieringo.com/
.
.
.
.

Elizabeth:
And now, it’s time for our monthly-

Lucky Kitty 13 Web Comics Picks of the Litter

Yvonne:
in which we list a baker’s dozen of web comics for your consideration, nya!

Jeannie:
The theme for September’s picks is that all of these are by folks who we’ve become
acquainted over the years with at Trinoc*coN, the Triangle area’s speculative fiction conference!

Mary Nyan:
My three picks are
Bill Holbrook’s Kevin & Kell
Howard Taylor’s Shlock Mercenary
and Jenn Dolari’s A Wish for Wings,
OK Lizzy, you’re up!

Elizabeth:
Thanks Myayr I’d like to mention
Erin Lindsey for Venus Envy
Leah Riley’s Willrad
and Jade Gordon’s Lean on Me
Vonny, what’d you pick?

Yvonne:
I’ve chosen
Kittyhawk’s Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki
Elizabeth Troub’s From Then on Forth
and by Chris Hazelton’s Misfile
Nya! Your turn, Jennyjenn!

Jeannie:
All right, how about
Barb Fisher & Chris Impink’s Fragile Gravity
Emily Bingham & Daniel Panamaroff’s Acid Reflux
and Jessica Raven’s Triquetra Cats
Now Mike gets to make the 13th pick.

Mike:
Our friend Sherri Belmar’s Venus Ascending.

Mary Nyan:
yay!

Yvonne:
Nya!

Elizabeth:
Those were good picks!

Almost Done…

Jeannie:
What will the theme be for next month’s picks of the litter?

Mary Nyan:
Well, we’ve got a few weeks to determine that! So what’s next?

Elizabeth:
Thassabout it… It’s time for us to say goodbye and then hit the beach!

Jeannie:
After that we should get some numcious shaved ice and bubble tea.

Mike:
Folks, I reckon that’s it for this month’s edition of the Catgirl Critics’ Media mewsings!

Mary Nyan:
Thanks for coming! We’ll be back next month with more stuff!

Yvonne:
Remember to turn off your cell phone & not to talk or text message during a movie in a theater, nya!

Elizabeth:
If y’all have any polite, sincere, brief comments, feel free to post them in response to our discussion-

Jeannie:
-provided that your remarks are spam-free, not argumentative, and stay on-topic, nya!

Mike:
Thank y’all very much for visiting!

(The catgirls in unison):
Bai Bai!!!

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