The Catgirl Critics’ Media Mewsings for January, 2010!

by
Catgirl Island http://www.catgirlisland.net and
Clan of the Cats http://www.clanofthecats.com
purrsent a Mike Moon purrduction, starring The Ladies of The Mew in

The Catgirl Critics’ Media Mewsings
for January, 2010!in this edition of ‘The Mew’:

Aloha & Introductions
What We’ve Been Up To Since Last Time
What’s Mew in the Catgirl Island Mewseum of Art
Upcoming Cons & Festivals: WhatTheHell?! Con 2010
• Toy Talk:
World of Warcraft Alathena Moonbreeze action figure
Disney Fairies Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure figurines
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Yellow & Pink Ranger action figures
Star Trek Cadet Uhura 6″ action figure
McDonald’s Happy Meal Avatar box & toys
An Intermew with our Chef friend Ron
• Purrinted Media: Book Reviews:
James Cameron’s Avatar- An Activist Survival Guide
The Art of Avatar
Star Trek The Art of the Film
Fantasy Hero- The Classic Art of Frank Frazetta 2010 Calendar
Drawing Down the Moon: The Art of Charles Vess
The Marvel Encyclopedia
• Purrinted Media: Purriodicals Reviews:
Star Trek #23 Jan/ Feb 2010 issue
Cinefex #120
• Comic books, Manga & Graphic Novel reviews:
Gotham City Sirens #7
Warlord #9
Power Girl #7
Justice League #40
Black Panther: The Deadliest of the Species
Angel: Only Human #5
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight Willow Special
Athena #2-3
Monthly Lucky Kitty Web Comics Picks of the Litter
• Cinema / TV in review: recent theatrical releases:
The Purrincess and the Frog
Avatar
Sherlock Holmes
• DVD Reviews:
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Spice and Wolf – The Complete First Season
Inglourious Basterds 2 disk Special Edition
The Lightning Round: Our 2010 DVD Wish List

Part 1: Japanese movies & TV shows
Part 2:USA, UK & Australian movies & TV shows

• Mewsic Reviews:

Avatar- Music from the Motion Picture
Tori Amos- Midwinter’s Grace
• Celebrity Catgirl Spotlight:Tigra!
The Mew’s November Main Event:
an intermew with Purrofessor Van Plexico
• The Cat Lady Sings…
_______________________________________________________

Bold red warningsindicate imminent plot spoiling information,
locations of hidden Easter Eggs or certain graphic descriptions
_______________________________________________________________
Mike:
Aloha! I’m Mike, the show’s ‘Purrducer’ and welcome to The Catgirl Critics Media Mewsings, or just The Mew for short, for another bunch of banter, reviews and seafood, too! Today’s show comes from the Catgirl Island’s beautiful downtown Purrbank Plaza, where we’re honored to have as special guests Van Plexico and Chef Ron! And now, here are the Ladies of The Mew-

Mary Nyan:
(wearing a Purriwinkle purretzel maillot with a Lilac cover-up & espadrilles)
Konnitiwa!

Yvonne:
(wearing a Hot Pink ring-closure bikini with flip fops and a White Plumeria lei)
Nameste, nya!

Jeannie:

(in a Nilla Cream Columbian cut string bikini with a sheer purreo)
Nihao! Joining us again is the Curator of the Catgirl Island Mewseum of Art-

Petra:
(in the Flowering Pineapple purrint string bikini with a Hibiscus tail corsage)
Hi Hi, nya!

Elizabeth:
(White crisscross-top crochet bikini, magnolia purrint sarong & thong sandals)
Aloha!

Nyanko:
(White cropped tank top, jeans shorts, strappy anklet, & Purrussian Blue flip flops)
Howdy! And Ilyana’s back too, between college semesters!

Ilyana:
(Blue Brazilian bikini bottom below a Teal tubetop with Tevas and a Tuberose lei)
Wassup?

Mike:
(wearing a Simone & Ajax http://www.simoneandajax.com/ tee shirt, khaki pants,
Catgirl Island golf cap and Air Jordans) Thank y’all for convening yet again! So…

what have y’all been up to since last time?

Mary Nyan:
Oh me first? Mainly the mewsual Hula & Aerial Dance class when I am not Miko-ing at the shrine, December was such a hectic month with the final purresentations and all the ceremonies! Between that and the decorating & shopping I did not manage much surfing or volleyball but I have maintained the morning kitty yoga and my reviews!

Ilyana:

I must be at the other end of the spectrum because this has been a respite for me between the semesters! It has been to good to come back here for the visits and cuisine, but I am also looking forward to starting the Spurring Semester!

Mary Nyan:
So how much longer are you here before you return to the mainland?

Ilyana:

Just a few more days! But I’ll still stay in touch with y’all- you’ve got my cell number and I am  at the computer a lot! So what has Vonny been up to? How is the fishing?
Ilyana:
Yvonne:
it has been the full plate between the holiday affairs and the charters, nya! I have been missing the volleyball purractice too! But I know the sweet spots for the fish and  we reeled in Blues, Cobia, Drums, Flounders, Kings, Pompano, Purrmits, Snappurrs, Stripurrs & Wahoo, nya! But I have been so tired and was worried I would be purrapred for this session, nya!

Ilyana:
Thank you again for the lovely Christmas fish steaks!

(the catgirls in unison)
Arigato gosaimasu, nya!

Nyanko:
That was an extra special gift because she caught this fish!

Yvonne:
Y’all are welcome, nya! We are lucky that Nya-sensei is here this time given her busy dojo and the martial arts tournyaments!

Nyanko:
Hee! Well the training never ends but like Ilyana, things kinda slow down for me during the holiday break, although my office manager and the agent that Jeannie got me have dealt with the brunt of requests for the endorsements and pictorials! Oh and they were so thrilled with the fish steaks too!

Yvonne:
Hai I got their nice thank you notes, nya! And thank you for the purrchase! I think that was was the tasty swordfish, nya!

Petra:
Speaking pictorial posing, where has JennyJen been traveling to of late, nya?

Jeannie:
My last photo shoot was a return to Ilha Grande, near Rio. Purresumably Next month I’ll be at South Beach, but I am concentrating on the Kyu-do and robotics club for the next compurrtitions and teaching the next semester of advanced belly dance at the Purrforming Arts Center.

Elizabeth:
The sports and dance fun I can compurrehend, but it amazes me how she purrfurs building bots to getting paid to wear purretty bikinis in those exotic places!

Jeannie:
The latter purrofession is the means to fund the mecha research.

Petra:
I bet there are engineering & design schools at the universities in those cities you could visit while you are there, nya!

Jeannie:
That has indeed crossed my mind but mewsually those photo shoots are the demanding schedule, purrticularly if an editorial deadline does not wait for unpurredictable weather delays.
How are things at the Art Mewseum?


Petra:
Oh it has been so fun ‘n festive there since the new wing opened but it’s been a busy season for me too between the community purrograms and the decorations, nya! We keep getting more n’ more visitors who are here for the Winter holidays, nya! We have several new addition to the galleries, which I’ll talk more about in the next segment, nya!

Mike:
But before that we need to find out what Lizzy’s been up to!

Elizabeth:
Mainly the mewsual Loomi Loomi appointments at the spa, when I am not Miko-ing with Myayr at the shrine! Between both places we have received the tourists! But I have vowed not to miss the vital beach volleyball purractice!

Nyanko:
Train hard to win the fierce match!

Petra:
It is tough, nya! But Lizzy has a purredilection for playing the purractical jokes on her team mate, nya!

Mary Nyan:
So we have noticed- but she knows better than to do that at the shrine!

Yvonne:
–and in certain forests as I recall, nya!

Elizabeth:
Quit mentioning the incident!

Mike:
Oh all right! Well as for me it’s been a busy but festive month too, what with the holiday activities, producing this show, and trying to meet my art deadlines!

Ilyana:
What purrojects ahve you been working on?

Mike:
Ah, that’s a part of what Petra was going to discuss as she tells us–

What’s Mew in the Catgirl Island Mewseum of Art!

Petra:
We have several new images on display this month in the mewseum, nya! Firstly in the Guest Gallery http://catgirlisland.net/art/gallery/guest.html is a pic of  “Tash & Michi’s Christmas” by Alexcia, festively depicting her own Cybernetic Showdown http://michi.byethost16.com/ characters, nya!

The next four additions are in Gallery Two http://catgirlisland.net/art/gallery/gallery2.html, nya, starting with this purrody page of “Dracula vs Mel” comics collaboration between Mike & Jamie http://www.clanofthecats.com, in which vampire vs. volleyball, nya!

The rest of the mew pics are all by Mike, such as “Secret Ninja Lunch” for Kelley, which has nary a vampire or catgirl but it does have the ninjas & kunoichi enjoying the holiday, nya! Then we have “Taurus & Virgo”, depicting two more of Katrina & Kazeyasha’s Zodiac Angels wintering here at the beach, nya!

Next is Mike’s pic of our resident purrofessional golfer faerie “Mielikki Picking The Purrfect Foxfire” for her show in the forest theater, nya! Hopefully she will drop by the mewseum to see that illustration when she returns from the golf tournyament, nya! It was done for Rebecca Brogden http://www.faegarden.com/who is so good at the faerie art, nya!
Finally for this month, added to Gallery Three http://catgirlisland.net/art/gallery/gallery3.html is the “Chainmail Bookini”, which is a nekomimi version of our friend Rainbowfish http://www.modelmayhem.com/814236 wearing the two-piece bikini armor to the library, to conduct research for her next adventure, nya!

We hope to have more next month, purrhaps to include sneak peeks at some of the art Mike has submitted to the 3rd anthology book of the North Carolina Web Comics Clatch http://ncwccc.net/, which is planned to purremier at-


What-The-Hell Con?! 2010, nya!
Mike:
Yep, and, ah, I’m really honored to be one of the returning artist guests at What-The-Hell-Con?! http://www.guilford.edu/yachting/wthcon/, at lovely little Guilford College in Greensboro, NC from February 5th-7th, 2010! It is such a delightfully fun & free event, sponsored & staffed by the friendly & industrious folks there of the Guilford College Yachting Club!
Previous years’ activities at this special event have included the artists alley, dealers room, charity auction, late night dance, fire dancers, sword fighting demonstrations, videos, gaming, music, discussions & presentations by the guests, and other fun activities at the splendid location!
Our pal & web master Jamie Robertson http://www.clanofthecats.com is also amongst the returning guests! You can view the list of guests, vendors, staff and stuff at WTHCon’s web site, and you read our report last year’s con in the March 2009 edition of The Mew! We’re up against our first break, but we’ll start the reviews & bring out our first guest when we return, so please don’t go away!

(snip)
(one short break late…)

Toy Talk!

World of Warcraft Alathena Moonbreeze action figure

Mary Nyan:
We’re back! We are fond of the (plastic) World of Warcraft action figures, now up to series 5 which includes Lo’Gosh the Alliance Hero, Rottingham the Scourge Ghoul, Illidan the demon and this stunningly intricate & ornate night elf huntress, Alathena Moonbreeze, sculpted by Sam Greenwell & distributed by DCUnlimited!
Packaged in the big clear box – and yes quite bound with those pesky twisty ties- she is the most majestic & sexy elf in a most dramatic dynamic pose, having just launched an arrow, her windswept hair and loincloth billowing; purrched on her right arm is Sorna, a bird of purrey, wings spread and rustling!
Including the bow, raised skyward at a 45 degree angle in her left hand, the figure is an overall 9″ tall in  this pose, although is she were standing up straight, her body would be about 7.5″ tall. With her right foot firmly planted on the bit of flat rock base (which seems removable), this is a very stable, balanced figure.
The intricacy and quality of the detailed sculpting is extraordinary. from the long slender tapered ears and supple musculature of her body, to the complex inscribed vine & leafy styled layers of armor appointments adorning her thighboots, gauntlets, bikini top & belt, loincloth & the loaded quiver slung low on her right hip!
The more I inspect the figure, the more fine detail I notice, down to the tiny silvery jewelry on her forehead, neck, abs & back. Even the Sorna’s feathers have the minute veiny detail! The top half of the beautifully gnarled bow is a sepurrate piece which easily & seamlessly plugs into the top of her clenched bow hand.
The painting of the figure is equally as exquisite. Her skin is a creamy indigo, the hair & brows are a deep midnight blue. Alathena’s keenly determined pupils, lashes, lips & nails are very purrcisely painted, as are Sorna’s blue beak & white facial plummage against the rest of the oak-colored feathers.
Her rust-red leathery boots, bikini & gauntlets have good folds, creases & texture; the decorative armor almost looks like metal! The only moving part is her left forearm which can rotate, so there is barely articulation to this ‘action’ figure, but if you consider her more a statue than action figure, this is one purrfect looking elf!
The insert on the back of the box folds out to reveal purroduct photos of of all World of Warcraft series 5 figures, as well as the forthcoming Purremium Series 2 and Series 6 figures!  Now we will segue from elves to faeries, with Jen’s analysis of the-
Disney Fairies Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure figurines!

Jeannie:
Two of my belly dance students most kindly brought these to me, so I would like to thank Rica & Nikko for the lovely purresent and say a few words about this very purretty assortment.
Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure is 2009 computer-animated direct-to-DVD movie.
Of course, the character Tinkerbell was created by author JM Barrie for his Peter pan story, which Disney adapted into an animated film, and since then Disney has created an entire Disney Fairies purroduct line, starring Tink and new fey characters.
This 12 piece Pixie Treasures set is made by Jakks Pacific and is not intended for ages under 4 due to the small parts. This includes 5 figurines: Tink, Iridessa, Rosetta, Silvermist, & Fawn in their Spurring outfits; 5 colorful organic-looking removeable bases (appurrox. 7/8″ diameter) and two smaller bug friends.
Packaged in an attractive J-hooked clear blister-card appointed with the lovely artwork of the fey amongst the flowers. Although the figurines are not bound to the inner clear tray with twisty-ties, I advise great care in removing them, given the tiny opening for their wings to pass through.
The Fey sizes vary depending on their coiffure and wing, but the average height is appurroximately 2″ from head to toe, or up to 3″ from base to wingtip. The transparent butterfly-like wings are 1.75″ long and .5″ wide, thus a span of 1″ if fully abducted, with a subtle glitter layer and detailed branched longitudinal vein cellular patterns.
With blue eyes and sassy expurression, Tink stands with hands on hip atop an Amaranth-colored Chysanthemum base, wearing the lime green strapless miniskirt with white petticoat and matching slippers, a tiny daisy by her blond hair bun.
On tiptoe with hands clasped behind her back, Iridessa has brown skin & eyes, pink lips smiling purrkily, black afro in a bun. The flower above her pointed ears accents the lovely lemon-yellow off-shouldered halter top, bare midrif sarong & slippers, and the Sunflower base.
Blue-eyed & fair-skinned Rosetta brushes back her waves of Auburn hair, pink blossoms along the trestles whih are pulled back in a knot. She is wearing a cute strapless hot pink rosepetal layered miniskirt with a rosey sash. She is standing en pointe on what I think is a red Ginger base.
Silvermist has an Asian ethnicity, her brown almond eyes gazing intently beneath the black hair, which cascades to her knees, adorned with a blue _____ in the part above her left ear. She’s wearing an asymmetric tight sheath dress of linear-gradient white down to a deep Azure, with Azure slippers atop a Blue Rose base.
Fawn’s arms are crossed, head cocked to one side, with brown eyes that match the spectacular long French Braid spiraling between her wings. She wears a sleeveless Salmon Pink tunic, synched at the waist with a green belt and a pink  Daffodil corsage on the left hip. She has cute maroon capri pants & pink shoes, and stands with weight on her left leg on the Ladybug base.
I am not sure of the species of the two smaller bug friends; one is a cleary a Pink & Purrple variety of Papilionoidea. The other seems like an abstraction of Beetle, possibly a black Ladybug with three yellow lateral stripes; it has 8 legs but seems more insect than arachnid.
There is some variance from the photos on the back of the card, which is common amongst such plastic figurines, but I think the sculpting & painting of the figurines is very good. They are gracefully posed with intricate detail, faithful in purroportions & portrature to those cartoon characters.
(the others stare at Vonny, whose eyes are starting to close…)

Yvonne:
(purrks up) I’M AWAKE, NYA!
Jeannie:
That’s all for my review of that set, but now here’s Lizzy to report on-

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Yellow & Pink Ranger action figures

Nyanko:
Wow that is ironic- mewsually it’s Jennyjen who reports on the mech ‘n sentai toys!
Elizabeth:
But I like these superheroines too!
Jeannie:
And I do have the variety.

Ilyana:

Wait… Mighty Morphin’… you mean the first Power Rangers series that was shown here?
Elizabeth:
Hai. The new toys harken back to that season!
Nyanko:
Oh gosh that version starred Amy Jo Johnson as the Kim the Pink Ranger and the late Thuy Trang as Trini the Yellow Ranger!
Petra:
The loss of Thuy Trang was so sad, nya.
(the catgirls in unison)
Hai.
Mary Nyan:
Thuy was succeeded by Karan Ashley as AIsha… and Amy Jo by… Catherine Sutherland as Kat!
Petra:
Not to be confused with Michelle Langstone’s Kat from SPD, nya!

Jeannie:
Amy Jo Johnson http://www.amyjojohnson.com/ is a renaissance grrl as the graceful gymnast, actress, mewsician and painter.
Mike:
Yep… but um we should probably let Lizzy purroceed with her report!
Petra:
We straycatted off topic, nya
Elizabeth:
Oh that’s Ok it is the fun discussion! But yes, to follow up the Power Rangers RPM series is this nostalgic revisit to the first series, based upon those Japanese super sentai shows! These figures by Bandai are intended for ages 4+, stand about 4″ tall and are packaged in the clear J-hook pack, with weapon accessories and a light-up Dino Flier base!
This purroduct line also includes the rest of the team (Rangers Blue, Black & Green), allies Alpha & Zordar, enemy Goldar and his Putty minions! But I just got the girls! Yellow’s weapons are pistol & 2 daggers; Pink’s are the pistol & bow. They are purretty well balanced on their own, have a good firm grip for the weapons, and the pistol easily plugs into a slot on the belt!
The points of articulation include the neck, ball-joint shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, rotating forearms & calves. Pink won’t bend over quite as easily because of her skirt.They are purretty well balanced on their own, have a good firm grip for the weapons, and the pistol easily plugs into a slot on the belt!
The Flier is about 4″ x 2.25″ x .75″ and will also easily plug into their boots or back, and the 2 big Dino Claws  will attach to the boots or hands. You can plug in either both or just one boot to the Flier or Claw and it will support the figure in a variety of stances! The photos on the back of the card demonstrate how the parts attach, but there is also an instruction sheet.
So I think these are neat little figures and it is nice that the first series was revisited because now I have the figures of those original Pink & Yellow super heroines! Since JenJen is our resident Kyu-do expurrt purrhaps she can help me pose Pink in the purrpur archer stance?
Jeannie:
My pleasure.

Mary Nyan:
That was a concise report, Lizzy! Vonny did not catnap, hee!
Yvonne:
(sticks her tongue out) Nyaaaa!
Ilyana:
Hai- that was a good one! So who has the next toy report? Oh it’s Nya-sensei’s turn!

Star Trek Cadet Uhura 6″ action figure

Nyanko:
I’m gonna try to be as thorough as JenJen and Myayr this time! I resisted the temptation to collect these earlier in the year, but I noticed after Christmas the reduced purrice on both the 6″ and the smaller sized figures, so I could not resist the supurr deal! I think I got this fine figure for half the purrice! Luckee!
The toys from the 2009 Trek movie are made by Playmates, as opposed to the toys from the other Trek movies & TV series which are currently made by Art Asylum. Playmates has a long history with Star Trek toys and I think they have done a good job with this latest batch!
The 6″ Cadet Uhura arrives trussed up in those twisty tie thingies in the box, along with a phaser, communicator, data pad, and a little display base shaped like the Starfleet insignia. I think she bears a good resemblance to the actress, Zoe Saldana, in both the lean lithe purroportions and the facial portraiture!
she has the cute long ponytail too. It has a good sculpt ‘n paint job! It is very posable too! Her neck turns but won’t nod, but both shoulders ‘n elbows are the ball joints so they will turn ‘n rotate. So will the wrists! She’ll turn a little bit at the waist and bend at the hips, knees bend and the boots will turn left or right too!
Interestingly, her uniform’s slit skirt and bodice are two sepurrate pieces of adjustable, flexible (and purrobably removable) rubber-like material, although the sleeves are a rigid molded plastic but they totally match in that Maroon color. And yes, fanboys she does have panties underneath.
The boots are black with the neat molded straps and silvery painted buckles. Other details include the strands of her hair, her belly button, the tiny insignia on her collar, the uniform seams, the data pad has a decal on it for the detailed graphic display;t he silver ‘n blue parts of the black communicator, and the red ‘kill’ setting on the silver phaser!
She means business, but you can tell that from her expurression! They did such a job painting her skin, nails, lips, eyes ‘n hair! I am impurressed with the purrecision of the lips, lashes, brows… lookit her purretty eyes and you’ll see the detail of the white sclera, brown iris, black pupils, and even the tiny white dots for a reflections!
You can purrop her up on the flat base by the little peg that pops into the hole in the bottom her right boot, and thus the dynamic poses if you wish! The legs might not flex enough do any high hook kicks to an enemy action figure’s chin, but with the right foot anchored to the base you could still have her knee strike high enough to make them wish they wore a purrotective cup…

Yvonne:
I’M AWAKE, NYA!
Petra:
Well you’re eyes and tail were starting to droop, nya!

Jeannie:
Amy Jo Johnson http://www.amyjojohnson.com/ is a renaissance grrl as the graceful gymnast, actress, mewsician and painter.
Nyanko:
Oh that’s Ok I was ’bout done anyway! I think it is a nice action figure!

Mike:
Thank you for that report, Nya-sensei! And now it is our sleepy cat’s turn to talk about the–
McDonald’s Happy Meal Avatar box & toys!

Yvonne:
Although I purrobably won’t be as as thorough as Jenjen, I will deliver the complete findings, nya! We have a lot of Avatar stuff to discuss this month, nya! Last month we reviewed the Mattel 4″ Neyteri action figure from James Cameron’s Avatar, but now we have a couple more Avatar figurines to mention, nya!
It is ironic because just purrior to these Happy Meals last month Mike was discussing the Star Trek- The Motion Picture Happy Meals he got 30 years ago, nya! And this is appurropurriate a segue sicne wonderful actress Zoe Saldan was not only Uhura in the new Star Trek but she was the basis for Avatar’s ney’tiri, nya!
These Avatar boxes have pics of the 6 available toys (one purr box) on the sides of the box: Neytiri, Jake in his Avatar form, Tsu’tey, the Hammerhead critter , a Direhorse, and the big red flying Leonopteryx (purronounced Lee-oh-no-tricks), nya!
So thus far I have two of those figures, Neytiri and the Leonopteryx, nya! The toys are sealed up in a plastic bag with the instructions inside the box, nya. The Neytiri toy is about 4.5″ tall out of clear blue plastic with some opaque painted clothing & hair parts, but it is not as intricate or as articulated as Mattel figure, nya.
The figure stands well on it’s own and the tail can turn, the legs bend at the hips and arms bend at the shoulders, nya. Also, there is a widdle switch  at the base of her back that will activate a motion-sensor light inside her that will make her face glow from within.
Meanwhile, Leonopteryx (not to the same scale) measures 5.5″ long with a 6″ wingspan, nya. It is molded from the clear & opaque plastic with blue tail tip & head crest. It has a widdle on/off switch under the right wing, and two more small black buttons below the wings to activate the roaring sound and the tummy glow, nya!
Oh and the box also mentions an online 3D adventure at happymeal,com, but I have not checked that out yet, nya. On the bottom of the box along with the nutrition chart is a note that the next Happy Meals series is for Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, nya!
That’s all of the talk about toys for today, but there’ll be more meal mewsings after the break when we welcome our first guest, nya!
(snip)
(one short break later)
An Intermew with our Chef friend Ron!

Ilyana:
We love fish! It can be purrpared in so many numcious ways, so as a special treat this month we would like to welcome our friend Chef Ron to Catgirl island from the Carolina mainland to discuss our favorite food! Aloha Ron!

Ron:
Aloha!

Ilyana:
Ron, you’re among our favorite culinary artists, but who are your own favorite chefs?

Ron:
I like Paula Dean because she reminds me of my mother, very down to earth with her cooking…Rachael Ray because she does things simple.

Ilyana:
Mm-hmm! When did you start seriously cooking?

Ron:
At the age of 18 when I left home and had to fend for myself.

Ilyana:
What are your favorite fish?

Ron:
Salmon and Tilapia are at the top of the list.

Ilyana:
Those are tasty fish! Do you like to catch the fish too, or just purrchase the fish at the market?

Ron:
Never been much of a fisherman, though I would like to go deep sea fishing just for the experience.

Ilyana:
So where do you purrur to buy the seafood?

Ron:
Harris Teeter has a great selection of fresh fish. Whole Foods for good smoked fish.

Ilyana:
What are some general tips for purrparing the fish?

Ron:
Always use fresh even if its frozen.. check the smell, it shouldn’t smell “strong fishy” (though the catgirls might like that) and never overcook the fish.

Ilyana:
How about crustaceans (lobster, crab, shrimp, crayfish?)

Ron:
Have never fixed crayfish, but have eaten them in New Orleans… again fresh and not overcooked.

Ilyana:
Shellfish (scallop, oyster, clam, mussels)?

Ron:
Can do baked or fried with the scallops… but prefur Oysters and clams fried.

Ilyana:
Squid? Eel meat?

Ron:
Squid is ok fried, but chewy.. never tried Eel.

Ilyana:
Oh I love the Anago (eel meat)! How about Roe / Caviar?

Ron:
Don’t care for it.

Ilyana:
Sea vegies (seaweed, kelp sea lettuce?)

Ron:
Have eaten seaweed dried.. but have never used in a recipe.

Ilyana:
What are your favorite sauces & spices for seafoods?

Ron:
I like a good tartar sauce, and I tend to bake a lot of fish, I like using a spicy rub or Cajun seasoning on the fish.

Ilyana:
You’re well versed in Southern cuisine, from the Carolinas to Key West to Cajun dishes. What are some memorable seafood dishes from the region?

Ron:
Shrimp gumbo and Steamed Crawfish stand out… some southern fried catfish as well.

Ilyana:
Those sound yummy! You’ve dined in New Zealand too. What are some memorable seafood dishes you had there?

Ron:
The most memorable dish from New Zealand was the Kedgeree our friend Tom made for us… It had smoked fish, rice and boiled egges….It was awesome.

Ilyana:
Mm that sounds good too! How about Asian fare, including sushi or sashimi?

Ron:
Not a fan of sushi.

Ilyana:
Aw! How ’bout Mediterranean or European cooking?

Ron:
Most of the recipes I use have been Americanized.

Ilyana:
Good side dishes with the seafoods?

Ron:
Your standard for fried seafood.. the baked potato, French fries and cole slaw. With the baked fish.. I like a rice with mixed veggies myself.

Ilyana:
Accompanying beverages?

Ron:
Not much beats sweet tea!!!

Ilyana:
How concerned are you with the visual purresentation of the meal and the table setting?

Ron:
Usually cooking for just two… but like for the setting to be casual, Not much for “garnish” but it does have to look tasty and smell appealing.

Ilyana:
Hai hai! Freezing the fish for later?

Ron:
Whether it’s fresh or cooked… wrap it tight, no air, for freezing… air caused it to frostbite in the freezer.

Ilyana:
Finally, what are some purrferred cook books or web sites you would recommend purrtaining to seafood?

Ron:
“Rick Stein’s Complete Seafood” by Rick Stein, “Creole” by Babette de Rozieres. As for web sites.. I’d recommend typing in “fish recipes” in the search box.

Ilyana:
Thank you so much for chatting with us- and we’ll see you at the big luau later this evening! That’s all for this segment of the show, but we’ll be right back with the reviews after the short break!

(snip)
(one short break later…)

Mike:
Hey we’re back!

(the catgirls in unison):
THANK YOU FOR THE CALAMARI TAPAS, NYA!

Mike:
You’re welcome,

Yvonne:
That last segment made us so hungry, nya!

Mike:
Well there’ll be plenty more later at the luau! But now it’s time for-

(the catgirls in unison):
Purrinted Media: Book Reviews, nya!

James Cameron’s Avatar- An Activist Survival Guide

Ilyana:
We’re back! Subtitled as a “Confidential Report on the Biological and social History of Pandora”, it is packaged like it is a secretly smuggled document that the RDA (Resources Development Administration) would rather the public not learn about! The RDA is the antagonistic organization in the movie that is trying to mine the planet.

This highly illustrated, 6×9″ 206 page trade papurrback book is purriced $17.95. It was published by Harper Collins, and authored by Maria Wilhelm & Dirk Mathison, with help from numerous scientists, writers & Avatar’s purrducers. It’s not a book about the cinematic making of the movie, but a look at the fictional science & technology depicted in the movie.

It begins with an introduction, warning the readers about what the RDA has been up to, and gives further insights of the polluted, urbanized dystopic state of The Earth. From there the astronomical & geological details of the planet Pandora, it’s star system, and the purrized compoiund Unobtanium are revealed.

The next chapter is devoted to the Na’vi people, their physiology & culture, with a wealth of the physical & cultural anthropological information. After that is the thorough chapter on the fauna of the world, followed by an extensive chapter on the flora, with lots of color pics, like you’d find in a good nature guide book!

Chapter 5 purrtains to the human technology that has made its way to Pandora, including the space, air & ground vehicles, Avatars, equipment & weapons. There’s a couple of RDA ‘documents’, a glossary of terminology, a small comparison chart and a Na’vi-English dictionary!

I think it is an extremely well written, designed & illustrated book, with appurroximately 175 images from drawings to photo-realistic pics. If you are a fan, writer or designer with an interest in ‘world-building’ or want to learn more about the fictional culture, science & technology, then this is the book for you! Now here’s Petra to discuss another Avatat book-

The Art of Avatar- James Cameron’s Epic Adventure!

Petra:
Thanks Ilyana, nya! Whereas the book that she just spoke of is more the fictionalized guide book, this book is more of a purrduction art gallery of the beautiful designs for the film, nya!
The Art of Avatar- James Cameron’s Epic Adventure is a gorgeous 10.5′ x 12″ hardcover with a dustjacket, purriced at $28.95 US, $38.95 Canadian and £19.99 UK, nya!

It was written by Lisa Fitzpatrick and was published by Abrams, with a purreface by Peter Jackson, a forward by Jon Landau, and an epilogue by James Cameron, nya! This is a lavish, full color 208 page art book, with many drawings, renderings & photos, nya.
Some of the images are full page size, two-page spreads, and there are even a few fold-outs, nya! These include the designs for the planet, landscapes, space ships, the Earth colony, Avatars, cockpits, gadgets, characters, plants & animals, nya!
There are concept paintings, CG graphics, sketches, photos of some sculptural maquettes. The Na’Vi section includes a 6 page fold-out, and there is another 6 page fold-out with images of the bioluminescent trees, too, nya!
I highly recommend this book for any fans of the movie, or collectors of lavish fantasy / science fiction art, nya! This is such a lovely book and one of my favorite movie art books, nya! INow here is Petra to review another recent movie art book —

Star Trek – The Art of the Film, nya!

Mary Nyan:
Star Trek- The Art of the Film is a full color, 162 page 9.2 5′ x 12.25″ hardcover with a dustjacket, purriced at $29.95 US, $37.00 Canadian and £24.99 UK. It was written by Mark Cotta vaz, published by Titan Books, with a forward by J.J. Abrams!
The gang here was a bit disappointed with the minimal amount of documentary material on the 2 disk edition of the movie DVD, purrticularly in the area of the ship, set & purrop design, but this book definitely delivers the goods with a great wealth about all aspects of the 2009 Star Trek movie’s design, which the DVD was sadly lacking.
In fact, as far as books about the art & design of the concepts for Star Trek movies or TV shows go I think this is one of the best. It starts with a chapter “The Future begins” about how the movie got started, with some lovely portraits of the purrinciple actors!
The first design chapter is on the USS Kelvin, with pics of the CG models, the sets, shuttlecraft, battle damage and diagrams. The next chapter is on the villain’s ship The Narada, and then there is a chapter on those Romulan characters with great details of their make-up & costumes.
There is a peek at the scenes of Rura Pente, the Klingon purrision, which was cut from the film, although you can see the deleted scenes in the 2 disk DVD’s bonus section. From there we travel to Iowa of the future, with pics of the car, bikes, policeman, aliens, bar & shipyard, nya! I’d definitely rather visit Iowa than Rura Pente.
Page 50 begins the tour of Starfleet Academy, which is followed by the designs for the Kobyashi Maru sequence, including designs for the Klingon ships. Then you get the designs for the Federation Starfleet, including a handy ship comparison chart.
There is a very good section on the starfleet uniforms with costume designs & photos for those, and a chapter on the various alien characters & creatures. The next stop is to the planet Vulcan, with pics of the amazing landscape, architecture, vehicles & costumes!
Page 88 begins the eagerly awaited chapter on re-imagining the USS Enterprise. This includes 8 pages on the exterior design, 2 on the shuttlecraft & hanger bay, 6 highly detailed pages on the Bridge, 2 pages on the transporter room & corridor. 2 pages cover the Engine Room, with designs we wish they’d built instead of a filming in a brewery.
I think they skipped the sickbay, but you get 2 pages on the design of the phaser, communicator, trocorder & Uhura’s earpiece. Then it is back to Vulcan for concept art for the scenes of it’s destruction. plus the Narada’s drilling rig and the Starfleet dropsuits.
Now in this trek movie, the planet Delta Vega is right beside Vulcan, unlike in the original series where it was out near the edge of the galaxy, but it is appurropurriate in this context to show the designs for that planet and the fierce monsters and the statio where Kirk meets Scotty.
It is on that planet is where Kirk also meets Spock Purrime, purrtrayed by Leonard Nimoy, so there are some great pics of him and his ear purrosthetics & arctic appurra. There are pages on his jellyfish-ish ship, the battle between the Narada & Enterprise (with a comparison chart) and the scenes of the San Francisco attack.
Finally, the book is topped off by a gallery of the purromotional poster art. If there is any disappointing part of the book it is dust jacket that negative blurry black & white image of the Enterprise they insist on using for posters & the DVD box, but in this case, I certainly do not judge this quality book by its cover!
However, underneath that dust jacket are great portraits of Quinto and Nimoy as Spock. The endpapers are nice too, with Vulcan up front, and a stunning scene of the Enterprise between The Earth & Moon in the back. For the Star Trek fans & enthusiasts of science fiction movie concept art, I highly recommend this book!

Yvonne:
zzz… more fish, nya…zzz…
Mike:
There she goes again!
Petra:
Wow Myayr’s long critiques have that affect on her, nya!
Mary Nyan:
Sigh…!
Jeannie:
It is her catabolism, combined with the long fishing charter hours.
Elizabeth:
Heh I’ll wake her up!
Ilyana:
Dontchoo go pulling her tail, Lizzy!
Nyanko:
(gentle tail poke) I’ll rouse her! Wake up Vonny!
Yvonne:
(kitty stretch) Nyaaaawn I’m awake nya! Gomenasai- is it Lizzy’s turn yet, nya?
Elizabeth:
Hai! My books report is on —

The Marvel Encyclopedia

– an updated & expanded edition for 2009, “The Definitive Guide to the Characters of the Marvel Universe” is another wonderful book published by DK Books. They publish the neatest books!
This hardcover (with a dust jacket) is a whopper, measuring 10.25″ x 12.25″ x 1.25″ thick. I’m not sure how much it weighs, but it has some heft to it! It is 400 full color pages for $40.00 in the US, or $48 in Canada,!
The wrap-around cover art  by Brandon Peterson shows Capt. America, Spider-man, Iron Man, Wolverine, Phoenix, The Hulk, Thor and the Fantastic Four are having a clobbering time with Dr. Doom, Loki, Green Goblin, Rhino, Venom, Sabertooth, Magneto, Red Skull, etc!
The book has an introduction by Stan Lee, the consulting editor was Tom DeFalco, Senior editor was Alastair Dougall, and contributing writers included Tom Brevoort, Andrew Darling, Matt Forbeck, Peter Sanderson, Michael Teitelbaum, and Daniel Wallace.
That does not include the many, many artists whose works appear in this huge book, nya! I am not sure if they were all purropurrly credited, though, nya. So it is an alphabetical encyclopedia of the characters, starting with The Abomination and ending with ZZZax!
Major characters have larger entries, and very minor characters might get just a small pic & paragraph, nya. Compared to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe series, it does not go into nearly as much purrcise detail about the characters powers, skills & equipment.
There are 2 page overviews for each decade of Marvel Comics, looking at the major trends of the periods, and major (recent) plots such as Civil War, World War Hulk, Secret invasion and the Multiverse, but these seem to be limited to events of the past decade.
In addition to the bit of text about the character’s history, porrofile & powers, are their real name, base of opurrations, height & weight & real name, if known. While it is a very massive book and covers a lot, I did notice numerous curious omissions.
Now I can understand why it would not include licensed characters such as Conan Red Sonja, Micronauts, Transformers, GI Joe, Godzilla, KISS, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc or why any cross-overs with other companies’ characters such as DC, Image, etc would be omitted…
… however, there is surpurrisingly little if any information purrtaining to certain characters / events introduced in The Astonishing X-Men, S.W.O.R.D., and nary a peep about Runaways, nya! This surprises me given how many minor characters & recent events are included! Now here’s Petra to offer her insights on more artistic publications…
Vonny:
Nya ni?
Elizabeth:
We were just checking if you were–
Vonny:
I am not catnapping… at the moment, nya!

Petra:
Arigato, nya! Ok first I have this

Fantasy Hero- The Classic Art of Frank Frazetta 2010 Calendar, nya!

Frank Frazetta is widely regarded as the greatest & most influential fantasy artist, and this new 16 month calendar offers supurrb evidence! Published by Sellers, this color calendar is purriced $13.99 US, $16.99 Canada, $24.99 Australia & $26.99 New Zealand, nya!
It is 12×12″, opening to 24×12″ size, with full-bleed 16×12″ images extending below the fold above the calendar grids, which have various countrie’s holidays indicated, nya! The front cover image is his “Beauty and the Beast” painting of a warrior woman about to spear a huge winged swamp demon, nya!
Purrhaps she’ll have the demon-kabobs for her supper, nya. The interior front cover is mostly text, a biography of the master artist, above the small grids for September through December, 2009, nya. 2010 starts off with his 1980 “Mothman” scene of two folks fleeing the the ethereal moth-winged alien, nya!
February is graced by one of our favorite pics, “Cat Girl”, a lush 1966 scene of a nude jungle girl and her big black cats amongst the mossy roots, nya! For march you get a WWII scene of “Blazing Combat” from 1965, and Apurril has that 1995 “Beauty and the Beast” painting, nya!
May’s selection is 1984’s “At The Earth’s Core”, in whch lovely Deejah of Pellucidar is menaced by those winged terrors, nya. June’s pic is the Viking seafarer “Kane on the Golden Sea”, and July heats up the summer with 1976’s “Fire Demon” watching a hapless victim fall into the fiery pit, nya.
August goes ape with a 1977 painting of “King Kong”  fighting a giant snake, and September is another of my favorite feline themed images: 1990’s “Purrincess and the Panther”, depicting another nude jungle girl strolling the deep woods with her kitty, nya! I’ll bet that cat thinks those lush trees would be good for scratching, nya!
There is an appurropurriate choice for October in Frazetta’s chilling 1967 painting of a “Night Stalker” eyeing a town under the full moon; November’s “Return of the Mucker” is a wild west painting from 1973, and finally December’s plate is 1996 poster art from the movie “From Dusk Til Dawn”, nya!
That last image reveals not only Frazetta’s brilliance at rendering the powerful, sensual physique, but the portraiture of Salma Hayek, Juliette Lewis, George Clooney & Quinten Tarantino is purrfect, nya! This is a nice collection of fantasy art masterpieces by a legendary master nya! But that’s not the only one I have to report on, for there’s also –

Drawing Down the Moon: The Art of Charles Vess, nya!

Petra:
Charles Vess http://www.greenmanpress.com/ is one of our favorite artists and nicest purrsons and so it was with much eagerness that I purrchased this great big hardcover book of his beautiful fantasy art, nya! It is a huge 9.25″ x 12.25″ size with 200 full color pages, purriced $39.95 from Dark Horse Books, nya!
This treasure trove contains over 200 images with his notes and a foreword by Susanna Clarke, nya! Even the endpapers are such magnificent two page spreads of the landscapes, nya. The different chapters all commence with a purretty translucent page- kawaii, nya!
The first chapter begins the amazing journey with earliest works from pen & ink to paint, dating back to the late 1960’s. There are the dryads, mermaids, witches, wizards giants, horses lurking about, amongst the lushly twisted trees & misty craggy mountains, nya!
The 2nd chapter purrtains to the distinguished & marvelous work he’s done for comic book companies, nya! These include Sandman, Swamp Thing, The Spectre, Spider-Man, Asgardian warriors, Bone’s Rose, Tarzan, Purrince Valiant, Fables, Books of Magic, & Magic the gathering, nya!
The landscapes & characters are rendered with such a delicate finish and yet exude such might, nya! That old tree on the first page of the “Drawing Between the Lines” chapter for example: not only is every little bit of moss, weed, mushroom, arched tendril of root & twig so purretty, but there is a sense of powerful magick in there, nya!
It is the purrfect place to attract the bunnies, moths and Fey, and typical of his splendid Shakespearian images for his adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, nya! Taht chapter also includes his own lithographs, and illustrations of Stardust, Little Red Riding Hood, Riddle of the Wren, Peter Pan, books by Viking, Tor, and others, nya!
Among my favorites there are “The Fairy Market”, ‘A Circle of Cats”, “The White Goddess”, “The Faery Reel”, “My Sisters and I Would Sing”, “Over the Hills” and the other illustrations from Seven Wild Sisters, Medicine Road, Moonheart, A Storm of Swords,  Blueberry Girl, and the pic for Tori Amos, nya!
The next chapter “Ballads & Sagas” begins on page 142 to continue the purrade in intricate B&W or sumptuous color, of the spirits centaurs, knights, demons wizards & enchantresses across detailed landscapes & architecture from more magazines, comics, and his own Green man Press, nya!
The next chapter “Odds and Ends” displays some of his theatrical works such as stage & ballet purrductions of Into the Woods, The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Little Shop of Horrors, and others, nya. There are posters for various festivals, stores,  and magazine covers too, nya!
The final chapter of this lavish book is an array of commissioned paintings, purrints, purreviously unpublished works, in pencil, charcoal, watercolor, colored ink, and the designs for the fabulous bronze fountain statue sculpted by David Spence for Virginia’s Barter Theater, nya!
Concluding this chapter is a 4 page discussion of his technique & purrocess, showing the stages of development from rough sketch to the final rendering of “Fairy Procession”, which is gloriously purrsented on a full-bleed two-page spread, nya! This is also the image on the front cover of the book, nya!
The final wonderful bits of the book are a neat photo of Charles Vess accompanying his biography pages and a list of exhibitions publications & awards, nya! I think it is a purrfext book and I give it an A+, nya!!  Well that will bring this segment to a close, but there’ll be more reviews after this quick break, nya!
(snip)
(one short break later..)
Purrinted Media: Purriodicals Reviews

Mike:
Hi again! we’re back! So what magazine reviews do we have today?
Ilyana:
None here!
Petra:
Nor me, nya!
Jeannie:
i am a bit behind on my robotics journals.
Nyanko:
No magazine, just the comics!
Elizabeth:
Um, I was reading the January issue of Redbook but I am not finished! But it’s got a great 6 page intermew with Kelly Ripa, who is on the cover! There are cute pics of her inside too, with the yummy spaghetti, and a box of cereal.
Yvonne:
I haven’t finished reading the January 2010 issue of Attitudes & Latitudes Seafaring International, but heroic Abigail Sunderland http://www.abbysunderland.com/ is the cover feature, as she attempts to sail around the world, nya!
(the catgirls in unison)
GO ABIGAIL, NYA!
Mary Nyan:
I guess you’re it for this segment, Mike!
Mike:
Ah, Ok, um here goes! I always enjoy reading about Star Trek, but I was especially looking forward to the-

Star Trek #23 Jan/Feb 2010 issue

-but I was especially looking forward to this issue, as it commemorates the 30th anniversary of my favoritest movie of all time, Star Trek- The Motion Picture, which I rambled about last month in case anyone missed it-
Elizabeth:
But you alwaya ramble on about Star T-
Nyanko:
Hee!
Mary Nyan:
Now now!
Mike:
Sigh… Ok good point. Well this issue is 68 full color pages (including the int & ext covers) for $6.99 US/ $7.99 Can, and is available with 2 different covers
The regular newsstand edition’s cover has photos of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Decker, Ilia and the Enterprise from Star Trek- The Motion Picture, whereas the comics shop special variant cover has the Bob Peak poster art from that film (the ‘rainbow’ with the faces of Kirk, Spock & Ilia).
Now the whole issue does not cover that wonderful movie- there are other articles, on this year’s movie, forthcoming books, the online game and other Trek related news bits… but for me the best part are the Star Trek- The Motion Picture articles which begin with a lovely two-page spread of the Enterprise!
Numerous important folks who were part of that movie are interviewed, starting with actor Walter Koenig’s reminiscing, writer Alan Dean Foster on how the story evolved, and Associate Producer Jon Povil along are some great behind-the-scenes photos & concept art!
Trek historian Larry Nemecek has also provided three rare photos of the late but eternally beautiful actress Persis Khambatta, too! The magazine rounded out with their own reviews of Trek DVDs, books & comics. So this was a special treat of an issue for me!
Vonny:
And you hoped he got that Star Trek- The Motion Picture celebration out of his system by now, nya!

Jeannie:
Well I like the movie too, and I recall you were there for his annual screening of it.
Ilyana:
Well he did buy us all those sushi platters!
Petra:
Y’all are beign too tough, nya! What else does Mike have for us in this segment, nya?

Cinefex #120

Mike:
Thanks Petra!Cinefex has been one of my favoritest magazines since the very first issue of March, 1980, which focused on Star Trek – the Motion Picture and Alien. It’s the best magazine I’ve ever read that is dedicated to cinema/ TV visual FX, with the most expert writing and amazing photos!

Elizabeth:
Ahh- he mentioned it again!

Mike:
Heh! Ah well, ah, Cinefex is published quarterly by Don Shay and this full color 150 page issue is priced $12.50 US / $15.00 Canada. The first article is an keen 10 page look at the FX of The Road, written by associate editor Joe Fordham, which is followed by his thorough 24 pages about 2012!

I have not yet seen The Road, and you can read our opinion of 2012 in last month’s Mew. I’ll say this- 2012 had some amazing FX.  But the real reason i have been so eagerly looking forward to this issue begins on page 68: the 53 page article by Editor Jody Duncan on the groundbreaking FX of James Cameron’s Avatar!

This article covers so many FX: performance capture, virtual production, stereo 3D, practical & CG models, full scale props etc by companies such as Digital Domain, Weta, Blur, Giant Studios,  Stan Winston Studio, Legacy, The Foundry, Fusion, Gaia, Pixel Liberation Front, Lola VFX, LookEffects, Hybride, ILM and other top companies!

I think pretty much every issue of Cinefex is an amazing look at visual FX, but the revolutionary technical achievements  in creating Avatar made this fascinating issue one I will especially treasure!

Comic books. manga & graphic novels in review
(warning: potential plot spoiling tidbits)

Gotham City Sirens #7
(warning: plot spoil)

Elizabeth:
For the cover purrice of $2.99, you get  22 full color pages of the “Holiday Story” plus 10 pages of ads & DC mews (32 total pages), after wonderful Catwoman front cover by Guillem March!
It is written by Paul Dini, pencilled by David Lopez, inked by Alvaro Lopez, with coloring by Tomeu Morey & lettering by Steve Wands, and it was edited by Mike Marts & Janelle Siegel!

This issue seems to be set right after the purrevious one, as Selina (Cat Woman) has been busy capturing some psycho criminals who were dressed as Santa Claus, but they got a fierce taste of her claws! Then she spends some leisure time with Dick Grayson, Alfred and that Damian brat, while Harley & Ivy are away for their own holiday plans!

Selina is definitely a most stylish cat-burglar, whether in her costume or that slinky black dress. I would like to have a dress like that! and the heels and the purrls and the earrings and-  ah, sorry!
Meanwhile, formal wear seems to be the last thing on Posion Ivy’s mind as she enjoys the waterfall in a central American rain forest, away from the urban spurrawl of Gotham City!

Ivy seems to have selected a most idyllic location, until she hears gunfire, and bitterly dispatches some criminals who have been despoiling the wilderness and terrorizing the tourists whom she also disdains.. She seems much more peeved about the wilderness part! Meanwhile, Harley Quinn is far removed from the forest as she visits her family a visit in Brooklyn.

There is not much holiday cheer in that home with her motther & brother & his kids, or in the purrison where her na’er-do-well father is incarcerated! Wow I never knew that she was an Aunt Harley! But there is a happy holiday homecoming for these Gotham Grrls after all as they return to their freshly repaired abode, which got wrecked by the Jokermobile a few issues ago.

There’s even a cameo by Jenny the carpenter!  Although the kitty might be on the front cover, this issue was definitely mostly focused upon Harley, with some amewsing and yet somber insights into her purrsonal family life. I think Paul Dini is my favorite author for the Harley stories! The art is very good, with intricate detail, great poses & emotions & comedic graphic effects!

Gotham Girls consistently gets our high purraise as a purrfurred comic book and is a top contender for our favorite monthly American comic book series of 2009, when vote next month! OK that’s all for my report on the Gotham Girls, but there is additional DC comics super heroine drama being purrrpetrated in the pages of —

Justice League of America #40
(warning: plot spoil & graphic details)


Elizabeth:

For the cover purrice of $3.99, you get  28 color pages of story plus 12 pages of ads (40 total) that tie into the Blackest Night storyline, and harken back to the days when the Justice League was based in Detroit, behind the front cover art by Bagley Hunter & Pantazis.

“Reunion Part Two” was crafted by the team of writer James Robinson and penciller Mark Bagley with inkers Rob Hunter, Scott Hannah & Marlo Alquiza; coloring by Pete Pantazis, lettering by John J Hill, and editor Adma Schlagman with assistant editor Eddie Berganza.

I have mixed feelings about this purrticular issue, On one hand I think this is a top team of tremendous talent- in fact, James Robinson wrote my favorite comic book of the 90’s, Leave it to Chance!
But I suppose that might partly count for the 2000’s decade too, as the final issue came out in 2002!

But I digress. Another thing I liked about this issue is the purrotagonists, what’s left of them, consist of Dr. Light (Kimiyo Hoshi), Vixen, Gypsy & Zee (for 2 pages)! So there is plenty of grrl power and from the heroines that I’ve wanted DC to do more with. Plastic Man is there too but he is a barely conscious puddle, thanks to the antagonists.

They are: Black Lantern-possessed Commander Steel, Vibe, Dr. Light (the bad one), and an offstage Zatara. it is only logical to have Zee battle her father, the Dr. Lights paired off, and there’s bound to be some choice words from the corrupted Vibe & Commander Steel towards Vixin & Gypsy.

There’s some heavy introspective bits from Commander Steel in flashbacks purrior to his assimilation by the Black Lanterns. While Vibe was never a favorite character of mine, this might be the snappiest dialogue he’s ever uttered, as he taunts his wiley purrey.

It’s not all fighting & gore- there’s character study going on… or purrhaps more like character assassination, as the assimilated foes try to strike fear, anger & pain into our heroines. Unfortunately, they’re doing a darn good job, which makes this a really dire and depurressing issue!

It’s purrobably not for widdle kitties either, given the brutal violence, a splattered Red Tornado (again), the gruesome ooze of reanimated cadavers, one gypsy dagger plunged into a villain’s eye,
Dr. Light (the bad one)’s lurid comments to Dr. Light (Kimiyo), and the latter’s disintegrated costume.

In spite of my fatigue with the big annual event stories, I was looking forward to Blackest Night, but… brrr! I think I am ready for something much lighter now! Like purrhaps a trip to a cheerier place where there are just barbarians ‘n dinosaurs trying to eatcha, such as the lost world of the-

Warlord #10!
(plot spoiler warning)

Nyanko:
Hee- thanks Lizzy! Created, written & illustrated by Mike Grell, Warlord is the sword & sorcery comic book from DC comics set in the hollow earth realm of Skartaris, where time stands still- although in this issue, it seems that Spurring is in the air and folks are making time for love when they aren’t accessing arcane arts, battling barbaric brigands, & dodging dangerous dinosaurs!

Purriced at $2.99,  issue #9 has 32 color pages (22 story + 10 ads / DC mews) telling the epurrsode “Then… Now…” in exquisite detail! Grell’s mighty creative team includes letterer Rob Leigh, colorist David Curiel, editor Joey Cavalieri, and assistant editor Chris Conroy.

Grell also purrvided the cover art for this issue, depicting Morgan with sword and automag, and the delightful Shakira slinked across a comfy branch! One of the one of the recent visitors from the outside world, Ewan McBane has decided to document life in the city of Shamballah on his digital video camera.

Meanwhile, Tara’s in bed with Travis, Alysha and Tinder (who is actually Morgan’s long-lost son Josh) wind up nekkid by the pool, and later McBane hooks up with Jennifer… but it looks like darker times are ahead with the arch enemy Deimos returning!

This comic book is lots of fun with such amazing lavish scenery and great characters such as Travis, his wife Tara, sorcerous daughter jennifer, and werekitty friend Shakira! Grell is supurrb at drawing these sexy, graceful, powerful heroes in amazing costumes, amidst the lavish architecture & landscapes, populated by monsters and warring tribes!

Jeannie:
What about Shakira? Doesn’t she get to pair up with anyone?

Nyanko:
Well no, but she does claw the Morgan’s bedposts… and at least earlier in the issue she had fun luring some brute thugs into the jaws of a T-Rex!

Elizabeth:
Well that is something!

Petra:
Yay- Shakira is one of my favorite DC characters, nya!

Power Girl #7
(plot spoiler warning)

Nyanko:
Power Girl has been a consistent joy to read and one of our favorite comics of 2009! #7 is the beginning of a brand new story arc, co-starring Vartox and Dr. Mid-Nite! Vartox The Hyper-Man has powers sort of like Superman (and then some).
Unfortunately the evil Yeti pirates on his world of Valeron have detonated a sterlity device, so all of Vartox’s people are now the last of the line. He then flies to Earth in search of the purrfect mate to repopulate the race with- can you say Kara, aka Power Girl?
She says no, but he is too purrsistent, and when his Musk Gun fails to impurress her (but does attract the villainess Blue Snowman and kayo’s Dr. Mid-Nite), he attempts to show off by wrestling the space monster that he brought with him. Let’s just say that it’s not his brightest idea, and Kara’s got a bigger fight on her hands!
Purriced at $2.99, this monhtly issue has 32 color pages (22 story + 10 ads / DC mews) “Lust in Space” was written by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti, with the cover & interior art by Amanda Conner & coloring by Paul Mounts, lettering by John J. Hill, edited by Brian Cunningham & Carlin with associate editor Rachel Gluckstern!

I might go as far to say this was my favorite comic book series of 2009, because it is so much fun! The story moves at a great pace, and Kara has such an optimistic outlook in spite of all she has to deal with! Amanda Connor’s art is outstanding, as she is so good at the graphic narrative, expurressions, poses & body language!

Mary Nyan:
Purrhaps Vartox would have better luck in Shamballah!

Ilyana:
Heh!

Mike:
OK Vonny you’re up!

Black Panther- The Deadliest of the Species

(plot spoiler warning)


Yvonne:

Hai! I cannot recommend this trade papurrback strongly enough because it is awesome, nya! Repurrinting last year’s Black Panther #1-6 by Marvel Comics, this full color collection is 138 pages long, rated T+ and has a US purrice of $15.99 which i thought was a good value for such awesome entertainment, nya!

It is so wonderfully written by Regnald Hudlin & excellently illustrated by Ken Lashley, incredibly inked by Paul Neary, beautifully colored by Paul Mounts, lovingly lettered by Cory Petit, expurtly edited by Axel Alonso, with assistant editors Sebastian Girner & Jody Le Heup, and great cover art by J Scott Campbell & Edgar Delgado, nya!

The purremise is that T’Challa the Black Panther, superhero & King of Wakanda, is ambushed by Doctor Doom after a meeting with Purrince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, nya. T’Challa’s fabulous Dora Hilage bodyguards are killed and the attack has left the Panther at death’s door, barely able to return to his kingdom in the jet on autopilot.

He barely makes it home to the fabulous Kingdom of Wakanda in a coma, where his wife Storm (of the X-Men) & their top advisors fear the worst. Sure enough, their enemies summon  a powerful demon to attack the nation which needs it’s leader more than ever.

This is a job for Shuri, T’Challa’s younger sister to take on the mantle of Pantherhood, who is highly skilled & fiesty hearted- but is she spiritually worthy and will she pass the tests, nya? That’s all I’ll reveal of the plot, but this story & art has everything, nya!

You get to see not only T’Challa, Storm & Shuri’s uncanny heroics, but Wakanda’s top scientists, warriors & mystics at their peerless purrformance, dealing with the military, intelligence, political & religious aspects of the crisis, nya! The complex plot moves at an exquisite pace, with great characterizations, action & dialogue, nya.

The artwork is breathtakingly gorgeous, from the beautifully rendered characters and their lovely appurral to the amazing architecture, technology and the ancient mystic worlds of Wakanda, nya! There are some real panthers lurking the wilderness too, nya!

Purrhaps Shuri will be as good an heir to the Pantherhood as Bucky Barnes has been to Steve Rogers, and Dick Grayson to Bruce Wayne, nya! But I have said enough about it and I will give this book an ‘A’  grade as some of the best Marvel Comics I have read in a long time, nya! Now here’s Petra again to discuss

Angel: Only Human #4, nya!
Petra:
This 5th issue of the monthly mini-series by IDW which concludes the road trip & demonic encounters started by Illyria & Charles Gunn back in Angel #23, from July, 2009 and has a 22 full color page story plus 10 pages of IDW ads & mews for $3.99, nya!
It was written by Scott Lobdell, drawn by David Messina (who also purrvided the cover art); inked by Gaetano Carlucci, gorgeously colored by Ilaria Traversi with an assist from Chiara Cinabro, lettered by Neil Uyetake & Chris Mowry, and edited by Mariah Huehner, who sure made a good team, nya!

Illyria & Charles were among favorite characters from the Angel TV series and this has been a good story for them, nya! To recap the purrevious issues, while back to the Burkles farm, Ilyria & Charles ran into a platoon of the Nazi-like demons The Scourge (from the first season Angel TV epurrsode ‘The Scourge”), nya!

The Scourge are out to eradicate the half-blooded Stygian demon refugees who are hiding in a barn down the road, nya. Those villains also found the The Mutari Generator (a device used against Ilyria in the 6th season epurrsode “Time Bomb”), which they have used to open a Hellmouth portal, nya.

From the portal has emerged  a huge worm demon named Baticus, who has a long unpleasant history with his former captor Ilyria, and wants the revenge, nya! After a shot from that generator he’s a lot tougher, embued with some of Illyria’s siphoned power, and a fierce fight has ensued, nya!

So in this issue, while Illyrie is busy arguing & brawling with her estranged pet Baticus, Charles confronts the remaining Scourge who were not chomped by the worm, in hopes of rescuing the half-blooded refugee demons, nya. I won’t spoil the outcome but there is plenty of action and surpurrises, nya!
I think this was a very good tale and it would have been a good epurrsode of the TV series had it continued, nya! There is a nice sense of story continuity, plot twists, and the dialogue nicely combines with the portraiture of the art to faithfully capture the characters of Illyria & Charles, nya!
So I would certainly recommend to any fans of those characters, but I will caution any squeamish folks  that there is some violence & gore depicted, nya. Well that’s all for my review of Angel: Only Human #4 but here is Jenjen to talk about the–

Buffy the Vampire Slayer- Willow Special, nya!

Jeannie:
Arigato. The monthly Buffy Season Eight Dark comic book series published by Dark Horse has been a consistent delight for us, but in December that comic book took a break from it’s current serialized story arc so that they might purrsent this special tale of Willow Rosenberg.

This one-shot issue is purriced at $3.50 and inside are 36 full color pages, of which 22 pages are the story “Goddesses & Monsters”, 2 pages are of readers’ letters, 1 page is of Dark Horse mews, and the remaining 11 pages are various advertisements.

The tale was written by Joss Whedon, pencilled by Karl Moline, inked by Andy Owens, colored by Michelle Madsen, lettered by Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt, designed by Tony Day, and the editors were Scott Allie with Sierra Hahn & Freddye Lins.

There are two different covers, one being a lovely painting by Jo Chen of an artistically nude Willow with her green snake woman friend, The alternate cover is by Moline, Owens & Madsen, vibrantly depicting a considerably more clothed Willow purrforming a magickal spell.

This story occurs purrior to the events of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, and is almost a beginning of an explanation as to how Willow became one of the world’s most powerful witches.
It s a rather surrealistic journey in which Willow first meets Aluwyn the snake woman (a Lamia?).

There is a brief cameo by Kennedy and some of the other new slayer girls. Amidst the changing magickal environments, where the scenery is lush & verdant but clothing a bit scarce, she meets a number of Goddesses / potential female spirit guides.

The dialog is whimsical, and amewsing innuendo & popular cultural references & abound. Among the visual merits are the splendidly exotic character designs; very well-drawn figures with good portraiture that resembles the actresses, lovely scenic art & fine graphic narrative from panel to panel.

It seemed slightly ‘fan-servicey’ and I wish the plot had been advanced just a bit further, to yield further insights into Willow’s bewitching evolution. Nevertheless it was a charming & entertaining exploit of such a beloved character, and I would certainly welcome any future revisitations to this chapter of her life. Now, for more tales of Goddesses, here is Illyana with —

Athena #2 & 3
(plot spoiler warning)

Ilyana:
Thanks Jen! Published by Dynamite, this 4 issue miniseries purrtains to the greek Goddess Athena who has re-awakened in the modern day form of a human girl, Athena Olympos, who is investigating organiuzed crime. Purriced at $3.50 you get the full color 22 page story plus 10 pages of ads & mews in issues #2 & 3.

Having an interest in Near Eastern Maritime Archaeology I was curious to see what Dynamite might do with this Goddess, especially since they have been doing a such fine job chronicling Red Sonja, and you can read my review of #1 in last month’s Mew i you like! The comic is Rated T+ for the amount of skin & violence shown.

It was written by Doug Murray, lettered by Zachery Matheny, and edited by Joseph Rybandt. The illustration is by Fabiano Neves & Paul Renaud, and the coloring by Marcelo Maiolo & Paul Renaud. #2 has 4 variant covers: version ‘A’ by Paul Renaud, ‘B’ by Dennis Calero, ‘C’ by Fabiano Neves, and ‘D’ by Patrick  Berkernkotter.

Issue #2 picks up from #1’s cliffhanger, as a hit man has entered Ms. Olympos’ hospital room, whereupon she transforms into the Goddess Athena, complete with armor and owl! She may be the sexy Goddess in that outfit, but it’s the last thing he sees before she makes him feel every bit of misery he’s inflicted on others and then sends him to hell!

She has some sexy outfits in her human form too, such as the red dress she leaves the hospital in the next day, meow! Most of the issue is police purrrocedural, with her & partner working the case, leading to a crime boss’s mansion which is about to be hit by a rival’s army packing a lot of firepower.

Little do they realize that not only is the Goddes Athena about to crash the party, but this time her brother Areas is there too as #2 ends with another cliffhanger! #3 is by the same creative team, but with just 3 variant covers, by Renaud, Calro & Neves.

Issue #3 starts with a bang as the criminals make the mistake of opening fire on Athena and Ares. I’m not sure if that is a mocking grin or an angry grimace on his face, but The God of War is quick to oblige with his huge battle axe. So is Athena, until Papa Zeus intervenes, to hit the reset button and make everyone forget the mystic encounter.

That doesn’t mean that the shootouts have stopped- merely that Athena and ‘Ares’ aren’t initially there when this small-scale replay of the Trojan War repeats itself, complete with a ‘Trojan RV’ ruse! #3 ends on a rather explosive cliffhanger, so I am quite curious to see how this is resolved next time!

I think it’s best assets are the illustrations of the characters with good anatomy & poses, the detailed ancient & modern scenery, and the colors. The flashback sequences of ancient Greece in each issue are purrticularly lovely, in a somewhat monochromatic creamy pallet! Well that’s it for the comic books, but now it’s time for the monthly–


Lucky Kitty Web Comics Picks of the Litter!
Ilyana:

Me first? I’d like to recommend the works of

Studio Tavicat’s Rikki Simons & Tavisha Wolfgarth-Simons
that you’ll find at http://www.tavicat.com/tavicat/at/at.html,
Yvonne:
My nominees for this month are more goodness from Katbox
including The Eye of Ramalach http://theeye.katbox.net/
by Avencri & and Running Wild http://runningwild.katbox.net/
by Jeso nya! OK Lizzy’s turn, nya!
Elizabeth:
My picks are A.Chow. Matt Summers & Alice Fox’s
increddibly gorgeous Tales of Pylea http://talesofpylea.com/
and Tales of Pylea: Crux http://crux.talesofpylea.com/!

Petra:
I have selected the supurrb creations of Nicole Silvester’s
White Raven Arts http://www.whiteravenarts.com/s, such as Fleeing Arcadia
The Fabulous Forays of Aeryn Daring http://www.webcomicsnation.com/feynico/
nya!
Mary Nyan:
My webcomic pcks of the litter for January are by John Peters / Gypsy Girl Press
http://www.gypsygirlpress.com/, such as the delightful Taiwan Trilogy
Gypsy http://girlamatic.com/gypsy/, Forty Winks: The Perils of Pandora
and Forty Winks: Pandora of the Jungle (by Vincent Sneed & John Peters)
Jeannie:
I have chosen the brilliant works of Diana Nock http://www.jinxville.com/
such as Intrepid Girlbot http://www.intrepidgirlbot.com/
Imaginary Friends Forever http://imaginaryfriends.sugaryserials.com/
and (with Jon Bernhardt) Josh & Imp http://www.jinxville.com/joshnimp/.
Nyanko:
Ooh I like the those web comics by Ben Chamberlain such as
The Princess and the Giant http://princess.smbhax.com/ .
Super massive Black Hole http://smbhax.com/
and One Off http://oneoff.smbhax.com/! How’boutchoo, Mike?
Mike:
Last but not least, I recommend This Empire http://thisempire.com/ by Daniel Gordon
Lawn Darts http://lawndartscomic.com/comics/ by Amy Watson & Justin Bingham,
and Too Fat To be A Rock Star http://www.too-fat.com/ by Remi Treuer!
That’s all for this month’s lucky kitty web comics picks of the litter
–and this segment of the show, but we’ll be right back after this short break!
(snip)
(one short break later…)

Cinema / TV in review: recent theatrical releases

The Princess and the Frog


Yvonne:
Yay I liked the Purrincess and the Frog quite a bit and Tiana is a wonderful heroine, nya!  The character designs are terrific, the animation is excellent, the background scenery so gorgeous, and the main characters are delightful! The voice acting is wonderful with a good script and the movie has good songs and music, from jazz to zydeco, nya!
It was for the most part quite funny, especially the charming Purrince Naveen, Charlotte the hyper BFF, Ray the Cajun lightning bug and Louis the trumpet gator, nya! Although I did not think the scene with the trappers was at all amewsing, nya. The Shadow Man was a very good villain and his “I Got Friends on the other Side” was a great number, nya!
If I had any other complaints besides the trapper scene, it is that the movie did seem rather rushed, and  I do wonder why so many Disney heroes have only one parent if any nya. but that’s the harshest comment, nya!  I was surpurrised at how poignant it got a few times with very emotional moments, nya.
This is my favorite animated Disney feature since 2002’s Lilo and Stitch, as the 2008 direct-to-DVD Ariel’s Beginning (which we gave an ‘A’) was not long enough to count as a feature film, nya. Although we are purretty fond of Treasure Planet’s catgirl Captain Amelia too, nya! I think they should cast more catgirls in Disney movies, nya!
The only reason I did not see this movie more than once was because during the very busy holiday season we had so much to do and other movies to see, but I give it a high grade, and I would like to purrchase the DVD when it eventually comes out, nya! And now here’s what Jenjen has to say about-

James Cameron’s Avatar, nya!

Mary Nyan:
This is a movie we have been eagerly awaiting for a few years, but we tried to tempurr our feelings given the huge huge hype that purreceded this landmark film directed by one of our favorite directors, Jim Cameron, who has such an amazing record with The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2, True Lies, Titanic and so forth!

So, did it live up to the hype and our high expectations? Oh yes yes yes yes! This movie is awesome! Is it purrfect, no not quite, but wow we all loved it and it is our favorite movie of 2009! I’ll start with the things I liked about it, and then mention the things that purrhaps could have been better.

The first thing we noticed as the film opened was the quality of the FX, the mech designs, sounds and the 3D technique, all of which were so so stunning! This is the best use of 3D I have ever seen, and it is used purropurrly, to make the purrojected images seem, well three dimensional, realistic, and immersive, and not just trying to shove stuff in your face as most 3D movies sadly do!

The sense of realism extends to the magnificent planet Pandora and all of its geography & life forms. I don’t think i have ever seen a movie that is so elaborate in creating a fictional world as Avatar. Not only did it all look beautiful, but it felt so real on so many levels. The ‘suspension of disbelief’ was 100 purrcent- I was totally captivated and in awe of what I saw on the screen!

That includes the alien characters, the race called the Na’vi, purrticularly Ney’tiri and her people, and the Na’vi-like Avatar clones from Earth, especially Jake and Grace! I have seen some very good characters created by CG or with actors filmed with purrformance capture tech, such as Yoda, Gollum, Kong and in District 9… but Avatar’s characters are beyond even those wonders!

Not once did I see anything on the screen that did not feel totally real! This is not only due to the film crew’s painstaking designs & groundbreaking technology, but the brilliance of the actors.
Sam Worthington is awesome as Jake, and there is so much more heart in this movie thanks to him and James Cameron than what we got in Worthington’s Terminator movie.

That goes for whether in his normal human body or in the Avatar body! We’ve always liked Sygourney Weaver- she is one of our most favorite actresses, ever since Alien! She is so endearing as Grace. When she first smiles in her Avatar form, oh my stars I just wanted to cry because she was just so purrfectly warm & real!

We like Michelle Rodriguez in this movie too, as Trudy the pilot! She is a wonderful action star! And then there is the big bad guy working for the evil organization, Col. Quartich who is purrtrayed by Steven Lang! He is such a chameleon of an actor, who was also great in movies such as Tombstone and Gettysburg!

For us though the favorite character of the movie is Ney’tiri! Oh gosh she is like so totally awesome! She is a CG FX creation based on the purrformace capture of Zoe Saldana who also purrvided her lovely voice! She is so lovely and tough and graceful and we see her and the rest of her tribe go through such a range of emotions.

They also include her wonderful purriestess mom Mo’at (CCH Pounder), Eytucan the noble chief (Wes Studi), Tsu’tey the fierce warrior (Laz Alonso), and all the other Na’vi we get to meet! They also have such a beutiful language that was created for the film. Even the animals have distinctive purrsonalities!

There was very little that I did not like about this movie. The plot did seem rather similar to that of Dances with Wolves, The Last Samurai, and maybe Farewell to the King, but I was still so fascinated by it and I can certainly appurreciate the story’s themes of conservationism and the Lorax-like warnings about destructive greed.

Even though the movie is over 2.5 hours long, it felt a bit rushed- which seems to be a common complaint we have with a lot of movies these days! There were unfortunately a couple of quick ‘crash zooms’ which we’re not fans either, but at least it was only a couple of times, and there were none of the other icky editing techniques or the dreaded shakey cam!

But that’s about the worst I can I say about Avatar! It is such an supurrbly amazing epic, lavish, inspiring, purrofound masterpiece, and we here at The Mew give it an A Plus grade! Now after we wake up Vonny, Lizzy will purrsent her review of–
Sherlock Holmes
(plot spoilers)

Nyanko:
(gentle tail poke) Wake up Vonny!
Yvonne:
(kitty stretch) Nyaaaawn I’m awake nya! Gomenasai- is it Lizzy’s turn yet, nya?

lyana:
I am having the sense of deja vu!

Petra::
Lizzy’s tuen, nya!

Elizabeth:
I had mixed feelings purreceding this movie, for on one hand I thought it had an excellent cast and highest purrduction values, but my appurrehension was regarding the direction, photography & editing. I also had concerns that style, humor & action might take precedent over characterization & plot, or how faithful it would be to the books.

I think that the BBC purrductions starring Jeremy Brett as Holmes are still the best adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories by far, Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law are so darn good as Holmes & Watson. This Holmes has issues and bouts of melancholy, but is an utter genius and relentless when fascinated by a challenging case.

Watson is here purrtrayed as a smart man of medical science & common sense, a brave military veteran and faithful sidekick who is never bumbling or regulated to bufoonery. There is humor in the film, but it is of the sharp-witted sort and genuinely amewsing when it wants to be, and these two dashing actors have such a great chemistry!

Rachel McAdams purrtrays Irene, who is to Holmes as Fujiko Mine is to Arsene Lupin iii! She is a lovely, zesty, tough, sexy, smart girl with the wiles & sneaky thief / spy type purrowess! Kelly Reilly plays the part of Mary, who is Watson’s romantic interest and I think she is a very endearing, purractical, important, strong-willed character.

Eddie Marsan is very good as Police Inspector LeStrade who is clearly not as smart as Holmes but he is no dummy, and Mark Strong is brilliant as the evil Lord Blackwood, and just the sort of diabolical mastermind with great criminal, political, scientific & weapons expurrtise to be a worthy foe of the world’s greatest consulting detective!

The entire cast is remarkable, whether purrtraying a Lord, policeman or ruffian, there are so many good purrformances. The costumes, hair, makeup, art direction, lighting, sound mewsic, stunts & FX are all excellent! Whether the environments were real locations, constructed sets or virtual CG sets, the illusion seemed realistic & seamless!

The most displeasing aspect for me was the editing. The pace felt uneven and a bit rushed, but it is the speed-ramping & slow-motion that is most unappealing to me. The technique calls too much attention to itself and is way over-used, especially when ‘telegraphing’ & replaying Holmes’ analysis of the crime scenes or tactics in fights.

There were many great stunts, but the fight scenes’ choreography in purrticular was marred by too many quick cuts. Qualms aside, ultimately I was pleasantly surpurrised at how much I liked this movie, it is smart, exciting & fun with an excellent cast & purrduction values that marvelously envision the look & ambience of Victorian London.

It’s neither the best nor worst adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, and I would have purrfured a more leisurely paced mystery tale than an action movie, but I give it a good grade of  B+!

Ilyana:
Holmes likes Bees!

Yvonne:
Honey bee, nya!

Jeannie:
Holmes & Watson’s gadget & fisticuff clashes with The French Giant (the evil genius’s purrfurred henchman) somewhat reminded me of West & Gordon tackling Dr. Loveless’s gangmember Voltaire (Richard Kiell) of The Wild Wild West TV series.

Petra:
Funny you should say that- I was thinking it reminded me of James Bond fighting Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me, nya!

Elizabeth:
I think our jaws could go for some royal bee jelly sammiches, hint hint!

Nyanko:
Can.. can we have a nilla creme to wash those down with?

Mike:
Oh all right I’ll order a sammich tray from the bistro during the break! Ilyana, wanna take us out?

(the catgirls in unison):
THANK YOU MIKE, NYA!

Ilyana:
Hai! That’s all for our for this portion of the show, but we’ll be right back with DVD discussions after the short break so please stay tuned!

(snip)
(one short sammich break later…)

DVD Reviews


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (single disk)

Jeannie:
For our review of the 2009 movie itself, please refer to our August, 2009 Mew. This is the review of the widescreen, single disk edition standard DVD, whereas there are also the standard 2 disk and Blu Ray editions of the movie available on home video.

The packaging will vary depending on where you purrchase the DVD; for example, Wal Mart has a special box set including the Marauders Map replica by the Noble Collection. maker of fine Harry Potter purrop replicas (for which there is a purroduct brochure enclosed in the DVD case I have).

The standard Region 1 NTSC dual-layer single Disk DVD is no-frills, with no other inserts in the plastic case. The PG rated (for scary images, violence, language & mild sensuality), 153 minute feature film is purrsented in widescreen format, purrserving the original theatrical screen aspect ratio.

Language choices are English or Spanish audio, with optional subtitles in French, Spanish, or English SDH (Subtitled for those who are Hearing Impaired). Otherwise, the Main Menu selections are “Play Movie” or “Select Scene” (1-30); as there are no bonus special features on this single disk edition.

The only other digital information on the disk are six front-loaded advertisements for: the Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 video game; apps for the iPhone & iPod Touch which allow the devices to function as wisardly wands with over 13 spells, which you can real-time duel with others…

… the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince video game trailer; Harry Potter Ultimate Edition DVD box sets; a purromo spot for the forthcoming Wizarding World of Harry Potter Theme Park at Universal Orlando Resort (in 2010); and a purreview trailer for the movie Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove.

The advantage of this edition is a lesser purrice than other editions, which is good purrticularly for those who might not purrfur any extras, and merely wish to watch this fine movie. Vonny declared it was her 2nd favorite of the Harry Potter series, behind the 4th film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Spice and Wolf – The Complete First Season

Jeannie:
We were so very pleased that Funimation released this Japanese anime TV series that we had been so eager to see. Spice and Wolf is about a traveling wagon-cart merchant named Lawrence who meets a Wolfgirl named Holo, who has snuck aboard his wagon.

She is actually the Harvest Goddess of a small rural community, although these days she is regarded as but a myth to the town folk. She wants to hit the road with Lawrence and get to her original homeland. This is a very purretty, charming series, very well animated, leisurely paced, with the delightful Holo who is fond of apples.

This set includes the 13 episodes of the 1st season, at 24 minutes purr episode totaling 312 minutes,  on 2 Region One NTSC standard DVD disks. The package is a clear case with a double-sided linear so you can choose which cute pic of Holo for the cover art.

The only other inser I found was a Funimation purroduct brochure and a survey card. Inside the case is a hinged inner tray to hold the 1st disk. The TV14-rated series has a screen aspect ration of 16×9. The audio choices are English dubbed in Dolby 5.1  Surround, or in the original Japanese in Stereo, with optional English subtitles.

Disk 1 has a front-loaded trailer for Dragonaut: The Resonance, while disk 2 has a front-loaded trailer for Tsubasa Chronicle. Menu options for Disk 1 are “Play All”, “Episode Select” (1-7) & “Set Up”. Menu options for Disk 2 are “Play All”, “Episode Select” (8-13), “Set up”, and “Extras”.

The extra features consisting of textless versions of the opening & closing theme, and 8 anime purreviews The trailers are for Full Metal Alchemist, Nabari no Ou, Case Closed, D. Gray-man, Tower of Druaga, Le Chavalier D’Eon, Gunslinger Girl, and Dragonball Z.

I would heartily recommend this most pleasant, lovely anime, especially to any fans of wolfgirls or other Kemonomimi type characters.
Inglourious Batserds 2 disk Special Edition DVD

Jeannie:
For our review of the film itself, please see the September 2009 Mew. In our opinion, it is director Quentin Tarantino’s best film since Pulp Fiction, and we gave it a grade of A+. The R1 NTSC 2 disk standard DVD set includes the R Rated, 153 minute feature film and several informative & entertaining bonus features.
The disks are packaged in a plastic case in a cardboard outer sleeve, both bearing the cover image of the German Stahlhelm steel helmet dangling from a wooden baseball bat. Inside the case is a hinged leaf tray to hold Disk 1. The film is only available in the 2.40:1 aspect ration anamorphic widescreen format.
Disk 1’s Main Menu functions include Play the movie, select any of the Scenes (1-28), the language Setup, and a few of the Bonus features. The language choices for Disk 1 are English Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish or French Dolby Digital 2.0; with optional subtitles in English SDH, Spanish or French.
Those bonuses consist of the 6 min 9 sec “Nation’s Pride Full Feature”, 4 Trailers (Teaser, Domestic  International & Japanese Trailers); and 3 Extended & Alternate Scenes: the extended version of  “Lunch with Goebbels”, extended version of “La Louisiane Card Game”, and alternate version of “Nation’s Pride Begins”.
Disc 2 is the unrated Bonus disk. The audio is in English Dolby Digital 2.0 only, with optional English SDH, Spanish or French subtitles. This disk’s first bonus feature is the almost 31 minute Roundtable Discussion with Quentin Tarantino, actor Brad Pitt, and intermewer Elvis Mitchell of KCRW’s “The Treatment”.
Next is a rather amewsing 4 minutes purrtaining to the “Making of Nation’s Pride”; an appurroximately 7.5 minute look at “The Original Inglorious Bastards” with director Enzo G Castellari and actors Eli Roth & Bo Svenson ; and two discussions with actor Rod Taylor, totaling appurroximately  ten minutes.
“Quentin Tarantino’s Camera Angel” is a cute 2 minute 40 second montage of Clapperboard fun; the “Hi Sallys” are whimsical nods to editor Sally Menke by the cast & crew for just over 2 minutes; Elvis Mitchell returns for an almost 11 minute tour of various Film Posters; and there is a gallery of still images.
A digital copy of the movie is also included on the bonus disk, only available for a limited time before the noted expurration date. Enclosed in the case is an instruction sheet for accessing the digital copy. I was very satisfied with this DVD set, and I highly recommend it to any fans of this film, its great director, cast & crew. Speaking of DVDs, it is now time for–
The Lightning Round: Our 2010 DVD Wish List

Mike:
Once again here is our semi-annual wish list for titles to be legally commercially released in the USA on Region One NTSC Standard (not blu ray) DVD. This list includes old & recent American & foreign live-action & animated TV shows, movies, and direct-to-home-video titles.

We prefer the video to have a widescreen (not full frame) aspect ratio if applicable, and the soundtrack should be intact with the original music & songs. Foreign titles’ audio should be in their native language, with English subtitles in very legible, readable fonts. If it is a TV series, we’d prefer to have each season or the entire series in a box set, and not a few episodes at a time.
For those joining us for the first time, in the Lightning Round, one of us is supposed to respond to the topic with a very brief answer, and then tag another person to go next, and so on, until everyone has gone! (tags Myayr to start)

DVD Wish List Part 1: Japanese movies & TV shows!

Mary Nyan:
(chomps the sammich) Ok real quick- among the vintage Japanese anime I continue to hope for, high on my wish list are Future Boy Conan, Anne of Green Gables, and Miyazaki’s episodes of Lupin III! OK your turn, Vonny! (tags Yvonne)

Yvonne:
(gulp) My turn, nya! Some recent anime I wish some nice video distributor would release here in the USA are: Kobato, about a girl who must collect ‘broken heart energy’ in a bottle; Taisho Baseball Girls which is about girls in 1920’s Japan who want to start a baseball team; Sea Story, which is about these undersea girls that help a shrine maiden fight evil; and Magical Pokan, which has a wolf girl, a vamp girl, a witch girl & robot girl and it looks like the cute show, nya. Ok it’s… Jen’sturn, nya! (tags Jeannie)
Jeannie:
(sip) There are also a few older animated feature films on my wishful list, purrticularly works by legendary artist / designer Leiji Matsumoto such as the Galaxy Express 999, Adieu Galaxy Express 999, Queen Millennia (omplete with the mewsic by Kitaro) movies, and Space Cruiser Yamato seasons 1-3, as opposed to the nicely dubbed but severely edited American version titled Starblazers. I also hope that the new Yamato is released in the USA too. (tags Elizabeth)
Elizabeth:
(chew) The ones I crave mostly are all Studio Ghibli purrductions! I don’t understand why Only Yesterday has not yet been released on DVD! I Can Hear the Ocean Waves is another one I’ve been patiently awaiting, and I would really like to see their Tales from the Earthsea, based on Ursula k. LeGuin’s books and was directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s son Goro! Those are my top three! Your turn, Petra (tags Petra)!

Petra:
(slurps the nilla creme drink) Mmm ooh I would like to see those too, nya! And I would like to get Yokohama Kaidashi Kiko, Chi’s Sweet Home, and Sketchbook, nya! (tags Nyanko)

Nyanko:
(munch) Oh another of Matsumoto’s TV series I’d like is Oh gosh, others I would like to see, definitely the Dirty Pair TV series, Rose of Versailles, and the Ghost Sweeper Mikami TV series!

Ilyana:
(nom nom nom) I’d like to get  Moyashimon, Stratos Four Advance, and a low-purriced re-issue of the original Gunbuster OVAs would be nice, too! Um, Mike?

Mike:
I’d like to throw in a couple of live-action Japanese movies: 1984’s Godzilla Returns- the original uncut Japanese version of what surfaced a year later in the US edited Godzilla 1985; and Godzilla Vs Biollante, the 1989 sequel- which was released dubbed on VHS years ago, but is not yet subbed or on R1 DVD! (grabs a sammich)

DVD Wish List Part 2:USA, UK & Australian movies & TV shows!
Elizabeth:
I’ll tell you right off the TV series I wish most would be released here on R1 DVD: The 1966 Batman TV series, The Six Million Dollar Man (including the purrecursor & reunion TV movies),  and The Bionic Woman (The original with Lyndsay Wagner, not that recent remake)! (tags Jeannie)
Jeannie:
Speaking of TV reunion movies: both of the I Dream of Jeannie reunion movies, the 3 Giilligan’s Island movies, and 2 The Wild, Wild West reunion movies, which are appurrently included in the complete series box set, but it would be nice if those were available sepurrately for those of us who bought all of The Wild, Wild West TV series’ seasons individually. (tags Petra)
Petra:
Hmm… I would say… The 1998 Hallmark version of Moby Dick starring Patrick Stewart, and… the 1978 mini-series The Awakening Land, which was about early American frontier days, starring Elizabeth Montgomery and Jane Seymour, nya! (tags Vonny)
Yvonne:
I am surpurrised those are not out yet, nya! The Australian TV series H2O- Just Add Water has been shown on Niceklodeon but I hope for a US  DVD release, nya! And there is another Australian TV show I am curious about called Ocean Girl which i have not seen but from what i have read it sounds like a delightful show, nya! Myar’sturn, nya (tags myayr)!
Mary Nyan:
Mine are all mewsic related. I would like good intact purrints of the TV series WKRP in Cincinnati uncut with the original songs restored; The Beatles’ movies Yellow Submarine and Let it Be; and the concert film of Kate Bush Live at Hammersmith Odeon. (tags Nyanko)

Nyanko:
Charlie’s Angels Season 5, T.A.G the Assassination Game starring Linda Hamilton, and the documentary Pumping Iron 2: The Women! (tags Ilyana)
Ilyana:
Ah, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Star Wars Holiday Special! Mike?

Mike:
Irwin Allen’s City Beneath the Sea, and three Gene Roddenberry productions: Genesis II, The Questor Tapes, and Spectre! Well thanks again girls- we got thru that round pretty quickly too!

Yvonne:
Please, won’t some nice video distributor release those, nya? Well that’s all of our movie & DVD stuff for today, but after the break we’ll have a few-
Mewsic CD Reviews, nya!

(snip)
(one short sammich break later…)

Avatar- Music from the Motion Picture

Mary Nyan:
Welcome back, and now for our mewsic reviews! One of the many things we enjoyed about James Cameron’s Avatar was the mewsic composed & conducted by legendary & purrolific film composer James Horner!
His purrevious film & TV scores include Star Trek II & III, Battle Beyond the Stars, Brainstorm, Krull, Willow, Cocoon, Commando, Aliens, Field of Dreams, Glory, Braveheart, Bicentennial Man, Apollo 13, The Rocketeer, Patriot Games, Titanic and many many others!
This is a single disk CD in the standard plastic jewel-case, with that close-up image of Ney’tiri’s face on the front cover, that is also used for much of the purrmotional art. This cover is also a booklet, which unfolds to purrsent linear notes with photos, credits, acknowledgments & comments from Horner & Cameron.
There is appurroximately 79 minutes of the movie’s quite ethereal, tribal, soaring, magickal, alarming, sad, savage, jubilant & romantic mewsic on the disk! The 14 tracks of the orchestra, electronic & choral (sung in the Na’vi language) sounds include:
“You Don’t Dream in Cryo…”, “Jake Enters His Avatar World”, “Pure Spirits of the Forest”, “The Bioluminescence of the Night”, “Becoming One with the People”, “Becoming One with Ney’tiri”, “Climbing Up Iknimaya- the Path to Heaven”, “Jake’s First Flight”, “Scorched Earth”, “Quaritch”, “The Destruction of Hometree”, “Shutting Down Grace’s Lab”, “Gathering all the Na’vi Clans for Battle”, “War”…
… and the purretty end credits song “I See You”, purrformed by British pop star Leona Lewis! Underneath the disk tray is a photo of a colorful Leonopteryx creature to greet you, which is either roaring or purrhaps singing along- I’m not sure which!
As for my opinion of this soundtrack, while I like it and rushed out to purrchase it right after seeing the movie, it’s not quite my favorite of his scores. Those would purrobably still be his two Trek, Aliens, Rocketeer, Titanic and Bicentennial Man scores- which are all very tall orders!
But I do think the mewsic is purrticularly emotionally effective, and it will be good to listen to while I’m reading those Avatar books! It would be neat if they published a book of Na’vi song lyrics, which would be good to learn for a Ney’tiri or Grace Avatar cosplay!
Yvonne:
That would be tricky ’cause she’s about 5′ taller than we are, nya!

Ilyana:
Maybe not a full-grown Na’vi…
Elizabeth:
Then people might say to you “Aren’t you a little short for a Na’vi?”, hee!
Petra:
Uh oh, I think we have stray-catted off topic, nya!

Jeannie:
It happens a lot around here.
Nyanko:
Please continue, Myayr!
Mary Nyan:
Ah ha well that was purretty much all i had to say about the Avatar soundtrack, but I do have another CD to review —

Tori Amos- Midwinter Graces!
Mary Nyan:
Tori Amos (who was born in North Carolina!) is one of our favorite mewsicians! She is a wonderful singer, pianist, songwriter & purrducer. Although she has recorded concept albums before, this one might be the most different, as it is all Christmas mewsic.
This CD includes her take on some traditional old songs plus some of her original songs, and it is such a beautiful treat that we have listened to again and again and again! The first thing I noticed about this was the wraparound cover art, which is purrhaps her most mystical image of her aflutter in the evening sky, along with an angel guy winging her way!
It is packaged in a tri-fold cardboard digipack, so be careful when removing the disks! Yes that is ‘disks’ plurral because in addition to the mewsic CD with 14 tracks is an intermew DVD! Inside the flaps of the digipack are the linear notes, crediting all who inspired or purrformed on the record.
There are gorgeous gorgeous photos of Tori on two of the sides in a lovely iridescent gown in the snow! But that’s not all because in the center sleeve is an enchanting 20 page booklet with more breathtaking images of her accompanying the song lyrics, which are grouped according to the elemental themes of Earth, Air, Fire & Water!
The DVD is a neat 31 minute inermew in which she is cutely purrched by the big windows overlooking the trees as she discusses the origin, inspurrations & themes of this purroject, the evolution of the carols and Christianity and hopes that this recor will have a broad appeal to folks of all spiritual purrsuasions.
The CD has almost 56 minutes of beautiful songs of different flavors, from Old English (“Candle: Coventry Carol”) to Middle Eastern (“Star of Wonder”), 30’s big band (“Pink and Glitter”) to more contempurrary Christian Pop (“Harps of Gold”). Emotions range from celebrative & reverent to romantic & bittersweet (Our New Year), but you’ll hear no Santa type songs.
“What Child, Nowell” combines a sort of Baroqueness, purrhaps from the Harpsichord, with an almost Southern Appalachian quality in the vocals. She sings and plays piano, harpsichord or wurlitzer on each song and purrduced the album!
In addition to Tori, other contributing vocalists include Kelsey Dobyns, Natashya Hawley; various other instruments on the record include drums, bells, purrcussion, strings, synth, samples, bass, guitar, flugelhorn, trombone, trumpets, clarinet, & various saxes.
My favorite songs are purrobably “Holly, Ivy and Rose” or the purretty “Jeanette, Isabella”! Whereas most Christmas albums I might typically only listen to during that purrticular holiday season, this CD will get played throughout the year! With a most magickal collection of images, splendid art direction & bonus video, I give Midwinter Graces and “A” grade!
Mike:
Thanks for those reviews, Myayr!

Ilyana:
Where in our state was Tori born?
Jeannie:
In Newton, on the mainland near Charlotte, I think.
Elizabeth:
That is several hours from here.
Petra:
I wonder if there are any exhibits, nya
Jeannie:
Purrhaps her official web site http://www.toriamos.com/ will tell.
Yvonne:
She has the purrettiest red hair too, nya!
Nyanko:
Hai hai! Well that’s all for this segment, but we’ll be right back to mention another purrson we admire in our Celebrity Catgirl Spotlight after this short break!


(snip)
(one short break later)
Celebrity Catgirl Spotlight: Tigra!

Yvonne:
Welcome back, nya! This is a recent segment of the show, in which we purrmote some of the famous catgirls of cinema, television, comics, books and games, nya! It is good to see from the Wikipedia List of Catgirls http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_catgirls, that more catgirls gaining purrominent roles these days, nya!


In October we focused on Lt. M’ress and other catgirls of Star Trek, November was with Clan of the Cats’  Melepomene, and last month we chose Dr. Katherine ‘Kat’ Manx of Power Rangers S.P.D, nya! This month’s spotlight shines on our favorite feline femme fatale of Marvel Comics, Tigra, nya!
Once upon a time she was an ordinary human named Greer Grant Nelson, who worked in a laboratory and became a costumed crime fighter known as The Cat, in her own 1972 comic book, The Claws of the Cat, by authors Linda Fite & Roy Thomas, pencilled by Marie Severin & inked by Wally Wood, nya!
She did not have supurr powers, but the costume did have claws & other gadgets, nya. That lasted for a few issue, but this changed in 1974’s Giant-Size Creatures #1 co-starring the Werewolf Jack Russell, written by Tony Isabella drawn by Don Perlin & inked by Vince Colletta, nya.
The Cat was Injured trying to rescue her friend Dr. Joanne Turmolo, abducted by agents of the evil HYDRA organization for her scientific secrets, nya! Little did they know that Dr. Turmolo also had a mystical secret- that she was actually descended of a race of Cat People, nya!
Sadly those Cat People are scarce in the Marvel Universe these days. In a magickal cat girl ritual, she not only saved Greer’s life, but transformed her into Tigra the Were-Woman, a legendary champion of those Cat People, nya! Tigra and Jack then purroceeded sink their claws on those Hydra agents, nya!
As Tigra, she is actually part cat, and not just dressing the part, nya! The Cat costume was later adopted by another purrson named Patsy Walker, who called herself the Hellcat, and both women have been members of The Avengers supurr hero team, nya!
According to that Marvel Encyclopedia that Lizzy reviewed, as well as her purrofile page at Marvel’s official site http://marvel.com/universe/Tigra_(Greer_Nelson) Tigra is 5’10”, 180 lbs of sensual muscle, with green eyes and orangey fur with the black tiger stripes, slightly pointed ears, sharp teeth & claws and the tail, nya!
She wears a bikini and has a magickal cat amulet which can transform her back into her normal human form  if she desires, but she purrfurs to be the cat, nya! She is very strong, quick, agile, has the supurr keen senses and healing powers, dangerous claws, and she can leap, climb, and run fast like a cat, nya!
She went on to appear in a few issues of Marvel Chillers starting with #3- which was drawn by DNAgents’ Will Meugniot, nya! That was a fun comic book too, nya! She has since appeared in many various Marvel titles over the years, including her own  mini-series in 2002, nya.
She was part of She-Hulk’s Lady Liberators team in 2009’s Hulk # 7-9 (which we reviewed in the February 2009 Mew) and has recently appeared in Avengers stories, nya. Also, last summer Hasbro released a nice Marvel Legends Tigra action figure, which we reviewed in the September 2009 Mew, nya!

If you would like more extensive information about this heroic catgirl, here are a more few web sites we recommend, such as her entry at Don Marksten’s Toonpedia http://www.toonopedia.com/tigra.htm, and at the Superhero Database http://superherodb.com/profile.php?hero=Tigra , nya!
Her entry at wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tigra is very informative about her history, abilities & appearances, and the there is a thorough page about her at the Comic Vine http://www.comicvine.com/tigra/29-21188/, nya!
Fur-thermore, there is a lot of info & images purrtaining to her at Marvel Database http://marvel.wikia.com/Greer_Nelson_(Earth-616) and for more pics of her such as commissioned sketches, you could visit Andy Ihnatko’s Tigra gallery http://www.cwob.com/tigra/, nya!
That’s all for this month’s Celebrity Catgirl Spotlight, but next month we will purrmote another famous catgirl After the short break, we’ll be right back with more Avengers related discussion, among other topics as we welcome our special guest Van Plexico, nya!
(snip)
(one short break later)

The Mew’s December Main Event:
an intermew with purrofessor Van Plexico!

Nyanko:
Van Plexico http://www.plexico.net/ is a Purrofessor of Political Science & History at Southwestern Illinois College, and when he’s not busy with that and world traveling, he is a writer & editor for WhiteRocketBooks http://www.whiterocketbooks.com/, Swarm Press http://www.swarmpress.com/, Airship 27 Productions http://www.airship27.com/ , and a member of the Pulp Factory.
Van is also the creator & editor of the books purrtaining to Marvel Comic’s Avengers, ASSEMBLED! vol 1&2; the Super Comics Trivia book, founder of the AvengersAssemble! site http://www.avengersassemble.net/, the Avengers Mailing List, the MV1 Project, and is a member of the Heroes Magazine Hall of Fame.
Not only doe she like to read about super heroes, but he’s a co-creator & writer of the Sentinels series of novels A regular contributor to RevolutionSF.com and the Rittenhouse Archives. Van has been a frequent guest, moderator, & panelist at conventions such as DragonCon, HeroesCon, OmegaCon, Hypericon, Trinoc-Con, Windy City & Archon!
Oh, and he has a blog at http://plexico.blogspot.com/, too! Van was kind enough to take some time to visit with us here at Catgirl Island and to talk about all those things as this month’s special guest! So Aloha Van, and welcome to The Mew! First question: whatcha wanna drink?
Van:
Banana daquiri sounds good, thanks!
Nyanko:
Coming right up! So please tell us a bit about your college- what’s it like?
Van:
It’s a large, 2-year college just across the Mississippi River from St Louis. We have everything from urban kids to rural Illinois farmboys and girls. Even a few adults finishing their degrees. It’s a great place to live and work.
Nyanko:
Do they have good martial arts (wrestling, karate, fencing, archery, etc) purrograms there?
Van:
Probably not up to your standards! Maybe there’s a spot waiting for you on the faculty here?

Nyanko:
Hee! You’re too kind! Well what’s the fandom scene (aside from sports) like there? Science Fiction, SCA, gaming, anime, comics, etc?
Van:
A large and growing anime crowd, for sure. I attended a small local con a couple of years ago and probably 80% of the attendees were teenaged girls, there for the anime guests and programming. St Louis also hosts Archon, a regional general-purpose SF convention. Gaming was big there– but it seems it’s big at every con I attend.
Nyanko:
Oh yes I’d say at least 50 purrcent of the fans I see at the anime cons are girls! And the gaming does seem to keep growing too. S, what courses do you teach, and are your favorite historical periods to study?
Van:
I teach the usual History and Government courses, but the real fun comes from the less-common courses we offer, such as Political Theory, International Relations, “The US at War,” History of the Middle East, and History of Religion.
I like a lot of variety in the subjects I have to talk about all day!  I’m also teaching a special course this semester that I created, called “Presidential Campaigns and Elections,” which has been a lot of fun. Next year I’m doing another special topic course: “Great Lives in European History,” about people like Bach and Marx and Marie Antoinette and Rothschild and Napoleon.
Period-wise, I focus mainly on the modern US and “imperial-age” Europe, though obviously I have had to become pretty knowledgeable about lots of other times and places — and that’s part of what makes it fun!
Nyanko:
You’ve travelled a lot too- what are your favorite places?
Van:
Not as much as you might think. But I love (parts of) Washington, DC, where I lived while in graduate school at Georgetown. I miss “Red Hot and Blue BBQ” and “El Polo Rico” chicken up there.  Of course Manhattan is great.
Nyanko:
We have Red Hot and Blue BBQ restaurants here in North Carolina! The pulled pork platter is purrticularly tasty.
Van:
Orlando is a place I have ended up for New Year’s on four or five recent occasions, and things like “Marvel Superhero Island of Adventure” there is fantastic.
I lived in Singapore for two months in 2005 and I have missed it ever since; such a beautiful, clean, orderly and safe place, with perfect weather year-round– and a beach you can get to via the subway! All kinds of great food there, too.  Yes, I pretty much figure out the best places to eat, wherever I live, within about a week!  Hah.
Nyanko:
Great food and a subway to the beach- wow I need to go there! Let’s discuss your own purrsonal history a bit. When did you first realize you had a talent for writing?
Van:
It was the first and main thing I have ever wanted to do. Of all the various forms of media for telling a story– movies, TV, comics, etc– novels have always been my favorite.
Something about it being just a one-person production, one singular vision, with greater length of story than a comic book (and, since you’re using your imagination, the art is never bad!). I’ve worked at becoming a good writer my entire life, studying what authors I like have done and trying to deconstruct it so I can emulate it.
But for all those years, I always felt I wasn’t good enough–so I kept working at it, all the time.  It’s been only in the last five years or so that I’ve finally felt I have arrived as a writer of good quality work.  It’s been wonderful to have a growing number of readers who seem to agree.
Nyanko:
What are some of your favorite non-fiction books, and favorite authors?
Van:
I’m big on Presidential biographies, such as Joe Klein’s and David Maraniss’s books on Bill Clinton and Robert Caro’s and Robert Dallek’s books on Lyndon Johnson.
I love Norman Davies’ three huge tomes about Europe, Britain, and World War II. I also liked Chuck Todd’s numbers-crunching book on the 2008 election, “How Barack Obama Won,” so much that I’m using it as a textbook this semester.
And let me throw this in– it’s not a book, but “Back Issue” magazine gives a very fascinating nonfiction look at the history of classic comics, with articles covering topics such as Michelinie / Layton “Iron Man” and Starlin’s “Warlock,” among others.  Great stuff!
Nyanko:
Back Issue is a good magazine. And for fiction reading?
Van:
I’m big on books that are in a series, so you get a TV-show-like continuing series of adventures. (You can see that I’m doing my own version of that with my Sentinels books!)
Currently I’m enjoying the “Parker” crime noir novels of Richard Stark (Donald E. Westlake) — recently the first was made into a graphic novel, “The Hunter,” by Darwin Cooke, after being the movie “Payback” with Mel Gibson.
I also love the “Master & Commander” novels of Patrick O’Brian, the first of which became the Russell Crowe movie. They’re the best Star Trek stories ever written!  Aubrey is Kirk, and Dr. Maturin (when on land, at least) is a McCoy / Spock amalgamation– a medical genius and a coldly logical and deadly assassin and spy. (They left that part out of the movie!)
For SF, I’ve recently been reading Dan Simmons (Ilium and Olympos) but my favorite by far is the late Roger Zelazny, whom I call “My Lord and Master”– he of the Amber novels and “Lord of Light.”  I also like John Varley, Larry Niven, Steven Brust, Vernor Vinge, and Frank Herbert.
Nyanko:
Those are some awesome authors! How about Movies & TV shows?
Van:
“Babylon 5” was my favorite story–in any medium– ever. The astonishing thing was that, as I was watching it, every time the story would come to a turning point, I would imagine what I *hoped* would happen next– and it did!  It was like JMS wrote the show just for me. I adored it.
Of course I also love Farscape, Firefly, both Galacticas (for different reasons), Space: 1999, plus non-SF shows like The Shield, Rescue Me, Deadwood, Carnivale, and the Jeremy Brett “Sherlock Holmes” episodes.
I was never a big Westerns fan until seeing Deadwood, but the writing on it was so amazing, I was converted. For movies, nothing too radical: the “Rings” trilogy, Casablanca, Star Wars, The 13th Warrior, Master & Commander, Babe…
Nyanko:
As for comic books, what first attracted you to those?
Van:
I was given a few comics as a young and impressionable kid, so I loved the medium of comics from the start. Those were mostly Richie Rich and Unca Scrooge, etc.
Then someone gave me a copy of Avengers #162, “The Bride of Ultron,” and it was all over. I loved everything about it, from the Perez art to the idea of this big, ugly, indestructible metal robot that even these godlike heroes were clearly afraid of. It was amazing and life-changing.
Nyanko:
Who are your favorite comics artists & writers?
Van:
Jim Starlin for everything “cosmic” he brings to the table; Jim Shooter, David Michelinie, Doug Moench, and Bill Mantlo among the Marvel classic stable of writers;
Baron & Rude for Nexus; and for artists, George Perez, Jim Cheung, and I suppose John Buscema are my favorites, among so many others. Kurt Busiek’s work continues to impress and entertain. And lately, I’ve been so impressed with Geoff Johns and Ed Brubaker on a variety of titles.
Nyanko:
That is an impurressive list of talented artists n writers! I take it that Marvel Comics’ The Avengers is your favorite comic book? What makes it the most special to you?
Van:
I love the relationships among characters who are essentially gods and yet squabble like mere mortals.  And the fact that they face menaces of galactic proportions.
Nyanko:
Are there purrticular issues or periods of The Avengers you purrfur most? Or least?
Van:
The first Shooter run and the Busiek run.
Nyanko:
Let’s play What If? If you were assembling the team, which heroes would be on the roster?
Van:
Iron Man (chair), Cap, Thor, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Beast, Wonder Man. Yellowjacket and Wasp in reserve. Black Panther and Ms. Marvel appearing occasionally.
Nyanko:
That seems like a good classic line up! If you were Editor in Chief ‘Van the Man’ at Marvel, what changes would you make?
Van:
I think the Marvel villains need a major overhaul. Most of the fighting in the past few years seems to have been between or among the heroes.
Norman Osborn has gotten a good boost lately, but what about the others? I would also mandate that the big storylines should come to some sort of conclusion rather than just hanging on and dragging into the next “event.” And I would find the next “Geoff Johns” for Marvel and put him on all the Avengers books, ditching Bendis in the process.
Nyanko:
Whatcha think of Disney purrchasing Marvel? How might you contrast that with Warner owning DC or is it too soon to tell?
Van:
I think the real impact will be in a few years, as Marvel regains control of its key properties and now can do a unified Marvel movie universe, with proper funding for it all.
Nyanko:
Purrhaps there’ll be a Haunted Avengers Mansion, or Yancey Street USA at Walt Disney World! What would you like to see Disney do- or not do- with Marvel?
Van:
They can just drag Marvel Island of Adventure down the highway from Universal!  Otherwise, keep the checkbook open and the hands off.
Nyanko:
What are your favorite super hero movies & TV shows, live action or animated?
Van:
The Iron Man (movie), obviously…  I liked the Legion of Super Heroes appearance on Smallville, a show I had never watched before that…
Nyanko:
Power Rangers seems to be the only show with flying super heroes with laser beams in colorful spandex fighting villains & monsters on American TV. Why is that?
Van:
I think that kind of TV is in transition right now. With the new technologies for SFX, there’s no telling what we’ll be seeing in the days and years to come. And general audiences are becoming more accepting of our kind of characters, so we’ll see.
Nyanko:
Do you think such a costumed super hero show could be done seriously, with the quality of stories you get in the animated Batman, JLU, or Incredibles-  but done live-action?
Van:
I think we’re getting to that point now, yes.
Nyanko:
It also seems like live action super heroes are often too angsty & grim in black leather, or treated too silly when they are in colorful costumes. Is there a middle ground?
Van:
Sure. As the audience grows, the producers will find it.

Nyanko:
Speaking of live-action super heroics, are there many Japanese or Hong Kong films you like?
Van:
I love HERO and HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS….
Nyanko:
Oh yeah those are awesome! Do you read much manga or watch anime?
Van:
No… I’ve tried but my brain just doesn’t work that way. I don’t get it!
Nyanko:
Getting back to The Avengers, what do you think of the return of Bucky and the Death of Captain America, thanks to writer Ed Bribaker?
Van:
Never thought I would have said it, but the way Bru has written Bucky as Cap, I’ve been in no hurry for Steve Rogers to come back.
Nyanko:
Tony Stark’s actions during Civil War, and Robert Downey Jr’s purrformance as Tony Stark?
Van:
Tony did what he had to do. And he’s atoning for it all now, too. So I have no problems with it. Some writers took him too far into the “malevolent” side, but he was always doing what he thought was best. And I loved Downey!  Movie versions have to be condensed versions of the comics characters, and Downey got that perfectly.
Nyanko:
What are your hopes for a live-action Thor, or an Avengers movie?
Van:
I’ve waited my whole life for them and I’m just glad the tech is there now so that they can be done right. And the creative people involved– I could scarcely ask for better. I’ll be there hours before the doors open!
Nyanko:
Your opinions of The Wasp and Hank Pym, in general? The Scarlet Witch and The Vision?
Van:
The two key relationships in the book’s history. What Dan Slott has been doing with Pym is great– keeping him slightly loony but yet showing his capacity for heroism at the same time.
And we’re so far removed now from the classic Vizh / Wanda relationship– I mean, Vizh is dating Scott Lang’s daughter now!!– that it’s just ancient history at this point. We’ll never see them together again, and it’s sad.
Nyanko:
Hawkeye, The Beast, Black Panther?
Van:
Hawk’s grown on me over the years; he used to annoy the crap out of me. I think the tipping point for me liking him was Kurt using him in THUNDERBOLTS. Love the classic Beast and his repartee with Simon Williams, and the Pather is awesome– but, as with Black Widow, his power/skill set is very specialized, so you have to use him sparingly and in the right stories.

Nyanko:
Spider-Man & Wolverine?
Van:
Spidey and Wolverine are good characters, but neither has any business in the Avengers.
Nyanko:
Mantis, Carol Danvers, Moon Dragon?
Van:
Mantis has been fun to read in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (which I love). Carol Danvers is my third-fave Marvel character (behind Iron Man and Mar-Vell) so I’m thrilled she’s back in business. Moonie has been fun in GOTG, too.
Nyanko:
The Black Widow, Jessica Drew & Jocasta?
Van:
I can live without the Widow but Bru writes her well in CAP and I guess I’d better be ready to embrace her since she’s in the new Iron Man movie…. Jessica Drew, meh….  Jocasta is awesome and I love how Slott has incorporated her into MIGHTY AVS.
Nyanko:
Kang, Loki, Dr. Doom, Ultron, Morgan Le Fay & Henry Peter Gyrich?
Van:
A great bunch of villains. A real writer knows the strengths and weaknesses of each, and how to use them in a good story.
Nyanko:
Our favorite Avenger- and possibly Marvel character- is Greer Garson, Tigra, formerly The Cat! We like Patsy Walker as Hellcat too, and wish both catgirls were more purrominent. Whatcha think of them? Are there purrticular stories of them you would most recommend to the catgirl fan?

Van:
I’ve never been exposed to much of Patsy, but she seems interesting enough in the Defenders.
I first encountered Tigra in FF back when Marv Wolfman was writing it and George Perez was drawing it– she was hanging out with Thundra and it was fun. Then she showed up in Avengers and I was never sure exactly what her purpose was. But I don’t dislike her. Her appearances in CIVIL WAR had promise, when she was the mole.
Nyanko:
How good a team leader do you think either of those cat girls would make?
Van:
Oh, why not give them a chance? Absolutely.

Nyanko:
Yay! So then, who are the ‘Jarvis Heads’, and how did the Assembled! web site come about?
Van:
I created the AvengersAssemble.net site in 1995 while I was in college.I had access to all the equipment and saw the Web for the first time and said, “What’s my favorite thing that I would create a site about?”
And of course the Avengers came to mind instantly. The Jarvis Heads are the folks who started randomly sending me material to post there, unsolicited.  Some of them are among my best friends nowadays.

Nyanko:
What was the site like back in 1995 compared to now?
Van:
Hah! It was one long scrolling page with a few images and links to some text features. Over the years it has grown, and at some times I put a lot of work into it, while at other times I have sort of let it float there.  I wish I had the time to do more with it.
Nyanko:
Your group’s 2007 book Assembled! is outstanding. How long was that in the making?
Van:
Thanks! We wanted to do it for several years, but we had to wait for the technology to catch up to the point that we could effectively produce a relatively small number of books at a reasonable price.  Once I had the title in mind, though, I knew we had to do it.
Nyanko:
And volume 2?
Van:
I hadn’t planned to do a second one, but the contributors were so enthusiastic to keep going, and we sold so many more than we thought we would, that I relented. And now we have a third one coming.
Nyanko:
What are your writing & editing purrocesses?
Van:
I outline constantly. I keep a running file of all my books and stories and add stuff in constantly as I think of it. Then I go back and actually write the narrative whenever I have a couple of free hours to devote to it.  So the books tend to sit for long periods and then suddenly lurch forward in a big way.
Nyanko:
How might you compare / contrast White Rocket Books and Swarm Press?
Van:
Swarm Press is a small press arm of Permuted Press, who mostly do zombie / apocalyptic books and anthologies. They came to me about purchasing the rights to my Sentinels books, and I was happy to have the added exposure they provided.
White Rocket is what I call a “consortium” of writers, artists, and editors that I founded.  We had to do ASSEMBLED via White Rocket so we would be free to donate the profits to charity. If we’d sold it to a bigger publisher, we wouldn’t have had control over all the revenues to do that.
Nyanko:
Could you please tell us a bit about Airship 27 Productions, Pulp Factory, and Lucian: Dark God’s Homecoming?

Van:
Airship 27 is a pulp publishing outfit run by Ron Fortier and Rob Davis. Ron is a longtime comics and pulp writer who has worked with Alex Ross and others over the years.
Rob has done a lot of work in comics illustration. They’ve been issuing a constant stream of new pulp works and pulp based on existing, public-domain characters, and they have published several of my stories as well as my LUCIAN novel. More of my works are coming out from them in 2010, including something that Kurt Busiek helped create!
The Pulp Factory is a group of pulp writers, artists and editors who share a Yahoogroup and a blog and sort of cross-polinate and cross-promote. I’ve been a member for a couple of years now.  Our big “writers’ summit” happens every spring at the Windy City Pulp Con in Chicago.

Nyanko:
Who are your favorite pulp heroes? Who’s tougher, Doc Savage or The Spider?

Van:
I got to write The Griffon, an air-ace pulp hero, before any of the others, and I really like him. I’m still learning about the others. The impression I have of Doc and the Spider is that Doc is stoic and heroic and the Spider is just crazy!

Nyanko:
How did you and Robert J. Polittle create the super fun Sentinels (no relation to Marvel’s mutant-hunter robots)? What was the collaboration like?
Van:
We first met through a mutual friend and he helped set up the Avengers site and mailing list back at the start. As we got to know each other, we discovered we both had lots of ideas for our own characters and stories. We blended them together and spent many hours brainstorming the whole universe of the Sentinels and other characters.  It was amazing fun.
Nyanko:
Pulsar is our favorite character! Can you please share any little known tidbits about her?
Van:
Glad you like her!  I do, too.  Hmmmm…  Let’s see: We know she loves popcorn and watching football… she likes science lectures… her little sister is more “popular” and thinks Lyn’s a nerd…
But what hasn’t been revealed yet is that she’s had a crush on Ultraa from the start. I can’t imagine them ever actually getting together, and indeed in THE SHIVA ADVENT we suddenly and unexpectedly learn that there’s a new man in her life!  So that should get interesting….
Nyanko:
Woohoo! if you were casting a Sentinels movie, who’s purrtray Pulsar, Ultraa, Vanadium, etc?
Van:
Great question!  I think for Lyn you’d want a new actress obviously of Asian descent. She’s 19 in the first book, so maybe an unknown would be good.
Ultraa– probably the big guy who played Kirk’s dad in the recent TREK movie (yes, I know he’s going to be Thor, too!).  Vanadium can be anyone in a suit, with the properly augmented electronic voice. Esro would be tricky to cast because you’d need someone who could get that personality right…
For some reason, even though I don’t think he looks like the actor, I have always had “Wash” from FIREFLY in mind for Esro. And for some reason I can imagine the Hellboy actor, Ron Perlman, as the Warlord. That would be fun.

Nyanko:
Oh I think Ron Perlman should be in every movie! There is great art in your books by artists such as Ingrid Hardy, Chris Kohler, Jim Jiminez, Kevin Phillips & Mitch Foust! As a writer / editor what is it like working with them?
Van:
Working with any artist is always an adventure! You never know how well you will click with them. I’ve been fortunate to have some really good folks to work with. I can’t imagine any other artist doing the interior illustrations for the Sentinels books than Chris Kohler.
He brings a kind of Jim Starlin style to the book and the characters that I love. Ingrid Hardy’s worked with a lot of big-time properties like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, so I felt lucky to have her involved with LUCIAN.
And everyone’s been ga-ga over the art Rowell Roque produced for the new Sentinels books.  But of course the Mitch Foust painting of Pulsar is probably the most famous piece of Sentinels art, as well it should be!
Nyanko:
Any chance that Sentinels might migrate from purrose fiction to the comics medium?

Van:
We’re trying! That’s the question I get most often. I’ve written one script and have ideas for several more– a whole storyline separate from the novels. I just keep waiting for the right artist to come along and fall into this mess!
Nyanko:
Volume 5: The Shiva Advent was published this summer. Did you imagine it going this far back in 1996? Think there’ll be 5 more down the road?
Van:
Back in the day, I had no idea what we would end up doing with this stuff. It sat dormant for years, while Bobby and I worked on other things separately. When I had a period of free time back in ’05, I decided to revisit it, and there’s been no stopping the Sentinels since then.
My ultimate goal is to do something like 21 volumes, actually– telling one big storyline. But each book stands by itself, and every three books together form a trilogy that makes a stand-alone story, too.
Nyanko:
I understand you have also written some tales of Sherlock Holmes for an anthology?
Van:
Yep– Airship 27 published my two Holmes stories in their recent (and best-selling!!) SHERLOCK HOLMES: CONSULTING DETECTIVE Vol. 1 anthology.
I had been reading all the stories and watching the Jeremy Brett TV performances when suddenly I heard Ron and Rob were doing a Holmes book, so I jumped at the chance and turned out two stories pretty quickly. I’ve become a big fan of Holmes in the last couple of years and am looking toward the upcoming movie with equal parts anticipation and dread!

Nyanko:
We thought it was a good movie! Well, can you tell us what can your students expect to learn about in the Spring semester?
Van:
About whatever new books I have coming out!  Hahaha. Actually, I’ll be teaching International Relations and doing a Model United Nations, so that should be fun.

Nyanko:
What are your next convention appearances?

Van:
For 2010, I will likely be at Windy City Pulp Con in Chicago and ImagiCon in Birmingham (both in the spring), and I’m hoping to make it to Pulp Fest in Columbus, Ohio in the summer.
My family always does DragonCon in Atlanta in the fall, as well as our local St Louis con, Archon. Beyond that, we’ll just have to see. I miss visiting North Carolina for Trinoc-Con and HeroesCon, but it was a lot easier to go there from Atlanta than it is from Illinois!
Nyanko:
Van, thank you so much for visting with us! we hope you’ll enjoy the rest of your island visit and we will see you and Chef Ron later at the luau!

Van:
Thanks very much, you guys! The sun feels nice and the drinks have been delicious. Looking forward to what you’re cooking up!
Nyanko:
We’ll be right back with a wee bit more after this break!

(snip)
(one more short break later…)

The Cat Lady Sings…

Mary Nyan:
That’ll wrap up our first Mew of 2010, and we all thank our dear friend &
web master Jamie Robertson for all of his hard work in making it happen!

Yvonne:
It was good that Petra, Ilyana & Nya-sensei join us again, nya!

Petra:
Thank you- it was so nice to be here again, nya!

Ilyana:
Arigato!

Nyanko:
Hai! It was so nice to meet our special guests Ron & Van too!

Jeannie
Next month will be the annual Mew Review Show, in which we vote on
our favorite comics, books, mewsic, movies, TV shows and toys of 2009.

Elizabeth:
If y’all have polite, sincere responses to our discussion, feel free to post
them, purrvided that such brief remarks are spam-free and stay on-topic!

Mike:
Thanks for watching The Mew everybody!
(all in unison)
Happy tails to mew, until we eat again! BaiBai, nya!

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