Thursday, December 27, 2012

Graphic novel review

santa(s) was(were) good to me and i received several graphic novels for christmas. every few weeks i will be posting a review on these books. luckily the flight to and from indianapolis to visit my fiance's family gave me plenty of reading time so i'm ready to begin.

Justice League: Origin, by geoff johns and jim lee

reintroducing the justice league to new and old generations of comic book fans is no easy task, but johns and lee do so in a fun and exciting tale that occurs five years prior to current continuity. from the start, it's apparent that these 'new' heroes are inexperienced, especially when it comes to teamwork. the general populace is terrified of superheroes, many outlawed, and batman, green lantern, the flash, and wonder woman are under suspicion of local and national authorities. on top of it all, personalities clash between the heroes as a galactic despot comes to earth unleashing his demonic army on earth!

each hero has his/her moment to shine, but none more so than batman and green lantern. the dark and emerald knights seem to get more panel time than any other leaguer, with the exception of cyborg whose origin coincides with the formation of the team. batman and green lantern may be the most 'human' of superheroes of the justice league and why johns chose to use these two in particular to further the story. that's not to say johns doesn't take care introducing each character as the battle between the forces of good and evil continues to escalate. besides the over the top intense action, it's these calmer moments between characters, like government agent steve trevor and wonder woman, that really make this book shine. i especially like the humor that comes through, even when the odds seem insurmountable against earth's protectors. there's also a chapters worth of extras that provides back stories on the members of the justice league, adding to the price of admission!

unfortunately, there are a few glaring flaws with this novel. my biggest complaint would be the lack of explanation towards darkseid's motivation of his attack of our planet. i also would have appreciated finding out more about this villain, besides his powers, technology, and horde of creatures, where does he come from? instead we're left with more questions.

also, being a huge long-time fan of wonder woman, i was frankly disgusted that the amazing amazon was treated as a xena, warrior princess, copycat, eager to do battle no matter what the cost. this portrayal seems degrading to a character known for making friends out of her foes, battling only as a last resort. 

Justice League: Origin is a fast paced adventure of seven strangers and ultimately creates the most famous team in comic book history in classic style with good storytelling and illustrations. there's plenty of action, thrills, laughs, and even a little romance thrown in. this graphic novel not only proves to be a great introduction to the justice league, but to the entire dc comics universe.

RIP Gramp

Alfred F. Morse Sr., 1922-2012
my grandfather, alfred f. morse, died, december 17th, 2012 after a series of complicated illnesses and ailing health due to a lifetime of smoking. fred will be remembered for his quick wit, loving patience, as well as his adoration of golf.

fred spent much of his youth in the army, seeing combat in world war 2, before settling down to raise three children with his beloved wife, mary. for many years he and mary owned five large dogs and two cats and at one point a horse. fred was a huge lover of animals. some of my favorite memories of gramp are his fooling around on the guitar, teaching me home remedies his mother once used, bringing my brother and i to the video store to each rent a movie and video game for the weekend, watching the three stooges as the house filled with his boisterous laugh (even at the jokes that weren't really funny), 'trying' to teach me to drive stick, and his famous line, "you don't have to go yet, you just got here!"

i imagine fred is up in heaven, reliving old times with long passed friends or quietly listening to country music from the '50s-'70s, tapping his foot and knee as he hums along. i love you, gramp.

Friday, November 30, 2012

World AIDS Day

Dec. 1st is World AIDS Day. Think of those affected by HIV and AIDS and remember to protect yourself.

Friday, November 16, 2012

No more hostess cakes

as a former "fat kid" i know all about hostess' cakes, donuts, and other snacks and i'm not sad to see them gone. i am, however, sorry for the millions of people out of work as of today due to the company closing its factory doors. i used to get a kick out of the hostess ads in my dad's old comic books from the '70s. posted here are two of my favorite.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

America, we did it!

good show americans, i'm proud we choose the right man to lead our country another four years. we moved forward, now let's move upward -- together.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy halloween 2012!

i'm hosting my annual schlock horror movie fest as i do almost every year, but this year i've extended it in three parts because of moving and the hurricane that slammed the east coast. i choose different movies every year and mix genuine classics with b and c horror films for sh*ts and giggles. the following list is what friends and i viewed for 2012. part 3 happens tonight, halloween, with much merriment in store!

 1. is a slick atmospheric film with tons of artistic imagery that's meant for lots of shock, but with little effect. the story has an interesting premise as those who log onto a website with reality-tv style torture become infected with madness until they finally kill themselves in brutal fashions. the police discover the website is possessed by a ghost asking for help.

2. The Werewolf vs Vampire Woman is an early '70s spanish film that's actually a little scary where the werewolf must play the hero and defeat a vampire queen who's wiping out a small village before destroying himself (with help from his one true love, of course).

3. The Gorgon is one of my all-time favorite hammer horror classic films. the movie starts out horrifying as the mystery of who is possessed of the spirit of a gorgon from greek mythology plays through up until the very end. then, unfortunately, the monster shows up and she's well ...

4. The Excorcist 3 has some genuinely terrifying moments and plays as a more direct sequel to the original Exorcist film. george c. scott's performance is exceptional as the detective trying to figure what's real and what's beyond the realm of norm.

5. possibly my favorite film from hitchcock, the film starts out slow, then quickly attacks the viewer as a small new england village is overrun with birds out to take over and put humans in their proper place.

 6. horrible acting! lame special effects! sad, sad music! but the crazy story of a young waitress trying to make it big drew me in. when she finally gets her dream wedding, she should have remembered those who supported her because the "freaks" or her husband's traveling circus  seek revenge.

7. much of the same, but with an '80s twist has a a witch return from the dead of modern time and start slaughtering the decedents of her killers in some unique ways. the sexy (and slutty) sorceress has a city of followers beneath new york city and plans on opening a gateway of hell -- because she can. or can she?

 8. zombies! voodoo! (sort of) beautiful women! what's not to love? i do enjoy that andre morell, who plays sir james forbes, is an over 60 hero who shows that age means nothing when battling the undead.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Superheroes of color

How has the media progressed with positive role models of color? I want your opinion - please check out my post on SWart Studio. I'll be using the collected information for a lesson on comic books, world issues, and popular culture. Thank you!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I danced and sang (horribly) with bananarama

the culmination of my love affair with the music of bananarama for over twenty years came last night when sara dallin and keren woodward performed at the hardrock cafe in boston! my fiance, joe, arrived early without my knowing and spoke to the fabulous dayna brunelli, head of marketing for the hardrock. joe explained my long time love of the 'nanas and dayna gave us vip seating for the show! we were so close to the stage! s & k performed 13 songs and invited audience members for their venus number!

 sara recognized me out of the crowd (we tweet back and forth occasionally) and pointed to keren who pulled me on stage. unfortunately i had had one too many drinks. being vip we had easy access to the bar, joe had already had one (or two) while waiting for me and I was doing my best to catch up. that combined with my obvious exuberance i was a complete ass -- or adorable dork -- depending on who you ask. while i'm sure people in the audience that i spoke to were just being kind by saying how much fun i was, i saw the video of the performance that joe recorded and well, i wish someone would have politely shoved me to a far corner. instead, keren offered me center stage, which i graciously took, and began to maniacally mimic the routine to the song from the famous video.  i'm also a notorious klutz so of course i bumped into keren's mic stand and then sara's. the humanity! bananarama are true professionals and rolled with it continuing on with the show without pause.

 the show itself was everything i could have hoped for and more. the girls performed many of their classics and several of their modern day hits. i was also pleased to get to know several fellow 'nana fans in the audience. we had a great time singing and dancing! the bouncer guarding the stage was kind enough to slip the girls my copy of the special 30th anniversary edition of the fan magazine, true confessions, which k & s signed. i will treasure it always.

while i wish i hadn't been such a messy drunk, i am glad i was able to see bananarama perform again here in the states. and yes, someone posted a video of my idiocy on youtube. hopefully people will only see the gorgeous women of bananarama and the army of fans, not the fool in the front trying to work the crowd.

*sigh* keren, sara -- if you ever read this, i am SO sorry, but thank you for such an incredibly fun time! i assure you i'm much cooler, you know, when i'm not being a total (drunk) groupie. x

somehow i slipped from singing "venus" into "love in the 1st degree".

keren showed me how to really shake my hips.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A proud teacher

"untitled", 3'x4', acrylic on canvas, 2012 - student collaboration
i enjoy being an art teacher for many reasons. often times i feel like the fun uncle imparting important life lessons to help in the development of younger generations, but allowed to send them home after a brief visit. other times it's the sheer excitement of seeing a 12 or 13 year old bursting with imagination and excitement over an assignment. while some posts overlap both blogs, that's not always the case. check out what goes on in my studio classroom at, Art Class With Mr. Wilber.

Looking back: the 'new' wonder woman

cover of Wonder Woman #5

it's been a year since dc comics debuted an all-new universe of heroes. at the forefront was the publisher's icon, wonder woman. after several issues of the new Wonder Woman series and appearances in Justice League, i wrote an in depth blog about my thoughts of the changes to the amazing amazon. after much development i've decided to follow up on this.

long-time fans of wonder woman remain divided over the new princess diana of paradise island. gone is the ambassador of peace, rather we have a younger, slightly more naive, warrior who is searching for her place in the world after growing up on an island where she never completely fit in. in the meantime she started and quickly ended a romance with the first man she ever met, steve trevor. diana has also found herself embroiled in family drama just as she discovered that her father was zeus, king of the gods of olympus. wonder woman immediately found herself embroiled in battles and schemes against her uncles poseidon and hades, half siblings, apollo and artemis, and zeus' wife, the goddess hera. overall it's been an exciting year for the princess.
page from Justice League  #12

a year ago i was frustrated that the wonder woman in Wonder Woman and in Justice League were two completely separate characters, but over time as continuity between the titles began to build, there seemed to be more cohesion. diana has been portrayed as a powerful heroine, strong enough to take on gods and the heroes of the justice league (due to manipulations of a powerful foe). more importantly, wonder woman is indeed an exceptionally loving individual. this is a trait that has been defined as the character's greatest strength in the past. writers brian azzarello and geoff johns have each highlighted this in their own way. whether it be wonder woman ending her relationship with the mortal trevor to protect him from further harm, standing as guardian to a stranger who apparently bears zeus' new heir, or diana promising to marry the god of the underworld because, in part, she pitied him. recently in an unexpected twist revealed in Wonder Woman #0, diana is not the arch enemy of ares, god of war. rather the war god served as her teacher in her youth until she refused to kill her enemies. this is the reason i love wonder woman so much. she may be the most powerful woman physically, but the amazing amazon is also the most kind, loving, and open minded soul. no longer directly teaching her beliefs as a foreign diplomate, wonder woman still educates those who get to know her, a mark of a true hero for the twenty-first century. that being said, unfortunately, not everything about the new wonder woman has me jumping for joy.

there's the major revelation that the amazons are siren like murderers every three hundred years. if this is true, it demeans their (once) cultured and peaceful nature. i preferred the amazons as warriors of peace. the reasons for diana leaving washington d.c. and living in london have not been disclosed and there's no explanation as to what the amazon does in her free time. why doesn't she have a secret identity? also, to date, none of the well-known wonder woman rogues, other than ares, have received the updated treatment. wonder woman's patron goddesses no longer seem directly involved in the young amazon's life. shameful! as is the lack of women in the supporting cast or circle of friends around the princess. and i'm still not a fan of the silver over gold with the uniform. minor complaints when my more major concerns have been addressed. judging by the way wonder woman's first year ended with an eminent war between pantheons about to erupt and a new romance with superman, the man of steel, i'm more than excited to continue the journey.

wonder woman appears monthly in Wonder Woman and Justice League and is guest-starring in Batwoman for the next few issues. visit to learn more. 

a dramatic moment in Justice League #10.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I just can't get them out of my system!

a promo shot for bananaram's US tour and new EP, Now or Never.
celebrating thirty years of success, bananarama is coming to the united states for an eight city tour running the length of october. i am very excited that keren and sara are coming to boston! i haven't seen the 'nanas perform since '89, during their first world tour. i was turning nine the day after the concert, but i had been ill for over a week with pneumonia. still, the day of the show my health vastly improved and my mom allowed my aunt to take me. between sheer excitement and exhaustion i ended up falling asleep mid-event and missed most of the concert. i was so bummed! this is my chance to relive and make up for what i may have missed. the girls will also be promoting their new EP, Now or Never.

for more of my love of sara and keren, check out my other bananarama related blogs.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Happy birthday to my best best friend!

catching some rays after a long jog.
 my best best friend, troia, the amazing amazon mutt, turns ninety-one today. this wonderful collie/labrador retriever has been with me all thirteen years of her life and shared my triumphs and struggles, always with big loving brown eyes and a wagging tail.  troia has been my pride and joy and continues to amaze me each and every day with her youthful enthusiasm and calm patience. i love her more than anyone!

car ride!
a favorite summer activity with aunt sis!
sometimes the amazon mutt get a little tired of all the hugs.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Latest work in progress

"Welcoming Imagination", 3'x4', oil on bulletin board, 2012
my latest work in progress is a commercial piece, a welcome sign. it's been a process to work on my art with so much teaching, but this is slowly coming together. i only have a few days to get it right. the deadline is fast approaching!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Moving in --

my fiance and i moved into a new apartment in boston with our two cats and labrador retriever/collie. what an ordeal! only a few blocks from our old place, it somehow took longer and more money than the last move nearly three years ago. we still have a few things to transport from point a to b, but at least the majority of boxes and all of the furniture has been moved. we're already enjoying the larger living space, bigger kitchen, and high ceilings!

Random comic book panel of the month

Justice League #12, 2012.
it's been talked about on all forms of media, across all major networks -- wonder woman and superman are now a couple as of the latest issue of justice league! that means no more lois lane for the man of steel or steve trevor with the amazing amazon. a lot of long time fans feel this is just another nail in the coffin for fandom ever since dc comics restarted all of its titles a year ago this month. with little history to hinder a more contemporary future, i'm curious to see what happens for the new power couple. that being said, i'm holding out that steve and wonder woman reunite. despite their recent break up, the amazon princess is trying to protect the man she loves from her enemies (see Justice League #12) and it's obvious superman is the rebound guy.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

YouTube channel

looking for some new music? maybe old music made new that you've never heard before? my youtube channel is full of r&b, dance, pop, and house music videos.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Look who came to visit!

my summer hasn't been as progressive as i was planning, at least not in the studio. but in the classroom it's been crazy busy. i'm working as both teacher and co teen program coordinator. that's not to say i stepped away from the elementary age students. today i hosted a guest speaking event with wonder woman who spoke on being a real-life hero. my friend, maggie, rocked as the amazon princess. here she is signing autographs for a group of 1st graders and later rescuing me after a long day of teaching.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Album review, "True Confessions" by Bananarama

"I'm your Venus. I'm your fire. At your desire." Venus
i resisted as long as i could, but i eventually found myself mentally crafting a review of yet another bananarama record as i eagerly await my cd/dvd set celebrating 30 years of the most successful girl group in history. check your facts, that's not hyperbole. take '86 True Confessions with nearly a half dozen hits.

this record is where i officially began my long-time love affair with bananarama. i discovered them through their hit single, Cruel Summer, of their previous album. but True Confessions Venus is positively the moment when i suddenly couldn't get enough of sara, keren, and siobhan. smart, sexy, sassy, and with their devil-may-care attitude, bananarama were the epitome of cool through the '80s and into the '90s. i was 6 when this record came out, but my mom and aunt were young enough to appreciate their pop/rock sound and originality of the 'nanas and True Confessions was played often. now as an adult i appreciate the ingenuity that went into this 11 song collection. sincere and beautiful mid-tempo songs like, Dance with a Stranger, or, Trick of the Night, stand out amid the more pop inpired songs and hold ground against crowd pleasing sex tinged tunes such as, More Than Physical, and affirming, Do Not Disturb.

26 years after its release, True Confessions is a bit dated, as much of the music from the early to mid '80s is. nonetheless, the album is a bit of pop history as it carried the girls to higher stardom. the before mentioned, Venus, is still an anthem for women and gay men to this day. i grew up with bananarama and their music became the soundtrack of my life, starting with this.

for further reviews of other bananarama albums:

Pop Life, 1991
Ultra Violet, 1996
Exotica, 2002
Drama, 2005
Viva, 2009

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Latest work

"severe tranquility abstract", diptych, mixed media, 2011-12
this poor painting just gets no love. originally it was commissioned by a friend of a friend for her cape house. she was determined to display something completely modern and i was eager to create something purely abstract. after several preliminary sketches, we seemed to find a happy medium. as with most clients i ask for half the fee up front, and the remaining upon delivery. the latter never happened and i've kept the painting in my possession for several months.

 every once and awhile i would add or take away, slowly modifying it. then, just recently, i was offered a part in special one night show. i dusted this off, tweaked it a little and was preparing to have this sent to the gallery. then last minute, well almost last minute, i checked the fine print of the contract before signing and realized that the venue was not something that would benefit my career as an artist. it looks like this painting will have to go back in storage another few months until i find the right time to have it on display.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Movie review: superman vs the elite

dreams save us. dreams lift us up and transform us into something better.

with those words the most well-known superhero in the world tries to convince manchester black, leader of the elite, that "crime does not pay". not really, especially killing, no matter how evil the victim. in the end, superman isn't just speaking to four immensely powerful anti-heroes out to change the world how they see fit, he's speaking to every man, woman, and child - many of who have grown dark and overly cynical with the times. despite everything he's gone through in his seventy year career, superman still believes in, "truth, justice, and the american way."

adapted from a well received superman story from dc comics, the animated film adaptation was written by the comic book author himself, joe kelly. kelly not only creates a superman to admire, but a human clark kent, still madly in love with fellow reporter lois lane. the elite members are each twisted and bizarre versions of the traditional superhero and their point of view can be easily understood. the conflict between superman and the elite is visceral and no less important than when it was first depicted in printed form. i've read other reviews that knock the overly animated designs of the characters, but i imagine this was done to temper some of the more violent scenes which earned the film its pg-13 rating.

with a live action superman currently in the works i can only hope the same message and characterization of the man of steel is translated to the silver screen. this is a hero i want my students to admire and emulate as i did when i was young. superman shows us it's not just being unbelievably powerful that counts, it's what you do with your powers, and the heart behind them.

Superman vs. the Elite is available on DVD and Blu-Ray. the original story is collected in trade paper back form, Justice League Elite Vol.1, or available in digital form on the dc comics ipad app.

Some good news!

Joejoemah Holla & Wilberbeast, 2012
my boyfriend (and partner in crime) of the last two years and i are engaged! we met each other shortly after joe moved to boston from manhattan nearly three years ago. a mutual friend unwittingly introduced us and we haven't stopped laughing since our first date. to many our pairing seemed natural. i, an aspiring painter and part-time art teacher, and he, an advertising exec with a background in art history. both of us share a passion for travel, fine dining, good conversation, and fashion. my aunt and grandmother liked joe almost immediately. as my grandmother put it, joe pulls me down out of the clouds when i need it and i pull joe up with my endless source of energy, showing that he's still very much a kid at heart. once these two alpha males realized they could share the title of, "boss", the big test was a year ago when we decided to see if my collie/lab would mix well with his two cats, a tabby and blue russian. it didn't take long for the five of us to become a happy family. the subject of marriage came up, almost by accident, and it was sort of,

"Well, I plan on marrying you, sure. It just seems natural."

"Yeah, it feels right. OK."

i never intended to announce the engagement until we had rings to flash around and a venue picked for a party to share the big reveal (wait, how did i become my mother?). but joe slipped the cat out of the bag and suddenly everyone knew. not that i mind at all. i feel lucky and blessed to have such an intelligent, funny, and attractive man in my life. i couldn't ask for more! we intend a prolonged engagement while i decide on my next career path, whether it be full time art teacher or something else in the the art world.  joe's support has been instrumental as his life experiences have help guide me on the path i am now. in the meantime, joe and i are happy to share our good news with those we love the most and who have been behind us these last few years.

we love you all!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Comic book review: the culling

Legion Lost #9, pt. 3 of "the Culling"
"the culling", masterminded by writers scott lobdell and tom defalco, is a four part story that ran through issues nine of Superboy, Legion Lost, and Teen Titans beginning with Teen Titans Annual #1. many of these are familiar characters made new with the latest recon of the dc universe, but this is the first major crossover for two teams who normally don't interact with one another. the story also formally introduces harvest, a sinister looking megalomaniac who apparently has had his eyes on the titans since their formation and technology and powers from the future era of the legion. harvest's sole goal is to determine the strong from the weak by torturing teenagers and young adults mentally and physically and then turning them against each other in a battle royale called the culling. the survivors become demented soldiers called, "ravagers". the prelude through issues seven and eight of each series built this major story up to epic proportions, but ultimately -- it falls flat.

Teen Titans Annual is beautifully depicted by bret booth and various inkers, but all it accomplishes is to illustrate how awful "the colony" is, an underground complex where harvest keeps his prisoners until the final culling battle. on top of the fourteen characters of two teams, more are introduced. some live, others perish in the course of the four part tale, again to prove how awful harvest and his army are. the Superboy chapter does nothing at all to progress the storyline, but Legion Lost does prove entertaining as the teams begin acting as a solid unit against harvest who proves too powerful for even the strongest among them. the final chapter of "the culling" shows the two teams getting split up with harvest's incessant ranting providing more questions than answers. did some of the legionaries come to the past to prevent this madman? is harvest telling the truth when he says he's building his army to prevent some sort of apocalyptic future? i suspect as each series progresses all will be revealed, but i was hoping more would be accomplished with "the culling". the titans and superboy at least deserve a clear victory against harvest's minions who have been hounding them since the start of each book.

as a comic book fan for over two decades, i love a big huge fight between superheroes who finally wise up and combine their forces to take down the super villain who manipulated them. essentially that's what this was, but it was drawn out way too long. of the survivors of the culling and refugees from the colony, a team is formed and a new book is introduced, The Ravagers. i suppose as far as sales are concerned, publisher dc comics was successful. readers picked up issues they may not normally have read. i'm certainly addicted to Legion Lost and looking forward to seeing where the time stranded heroes end up. i've also begun reading, The Ravagers, but i'm holding out my final opinion as of this writing. i would like to see semi-regular team ups between the legion and teen titans in the same tradition of the justice league and justice society. both groups can continue to learn a lot from one another and this shared battle will forever tie them together.