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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gallery 1988 Art Exhibit: Kirk Demarais & Dave MacDowell

“The McClanes”

Gallery 1988 is a fantastic art gallery inspired by pop culture. The California gallery has garnered a lot of recognition from print, digital and television media. Attendees to their art exhibits have seen the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Joss Whedon, Jessica Alba, Jonah Hill and Seth Green. They've collaborated with Stan Lee, Kevin Smith and the Beastie Boys. Their geek cred is deep. They have two Los Angeles locations: Venice and Melrose. Featured here is the current exhibit at Venice.

“Lord Of The Lebowski's”
"The Bluths"

“Gizmo Vangogh”

“The Drapers”
"Walk Like A Man”



Gallery 1988 Venice Presents:

"Kirk Demarais & Dave MacDowell" 
Dates: May 10 - June 2, 2012
Opening Reception: Thursday, May 10th, 7-10PM
Hours: Wed - Sun: 11AM - 6PM
Monday & Tuesday: Closed



Yaya Han: Cosplayer Extraordinaire


If you've ever been to a convention you've surely seen hardcore fans dressed up as their favorite comic book, anime, horror, sci-fi, gaming, or fantasy character. The quality of the costumes tend to run the gamut from costume shop to converted pajamas. Cosplayers may not always look as fit and as sexy as the characters they're playing but such passion transcends authenticity. However, in the case of the fascinating Yaya Han she has the skills of a costume designer to make authentic-looking outfits and frankly, the body to meet the implausibly drawn measurements of comic book heroines. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Photos: Geek Graffiti

Few art forms are more honest or passionate as street art. It takes talent and a passion for things like Batman or Star Wars to really bring these works to life. There were too many to post but enjoy these.

via fatcapmagazine.blogspot.com 



via neatorama.com



via bristol-street-art.co.uk



via listsoplenty.com



via nerdnirvana.org   



via rowsdowr.com



via imgderp.com


via danaherlihey.com   



via blogs.sundaymercury.net   



via cardiogirl.net

Lakers Limited Through the Draft


Justin Bieber a Laker? Sound far-fetched? Of course it does. However, he and legendary Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash do have something in common. they're both Canadian. This leads to the yearly discussion about what moves will the Los Angeles Lakers make in the off season to improve the team. They currently hold one draft pick. The very last one, #60. 

While I refuse to speculate at this point with the playoffs still going on to make any guesses I will say this could be one of toughest off-seasons for Mitch Kupchak and company. With so much money already committed to players on the rosters and little to offer via trades it's going to be hard to get better talent. The only valuable pieces that could garner any value in return would be Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. Everyone on radio, newspaper and the blogosphere has Gasol in their trade machine. Bynum could possibly, maybe, probably not, be only available in a Dwight Howard trade. If any deal is done in the months to come I would imagine they'd like to get a draft pick included in return to make the draft process last longer than a minute. 

Anyway, there will be plenty of speculation from fans and "experts" in the months to come so if you have a favorite non-Laker player there's a good chance he'll be discussed in a potential trade. On the bright side, signing Bieber would at least have girlfriend, Selena Gomez, regularly at Staples to watch him play. 



Converse All Star Chuck Taylor DC Comics- Batman







All Star DC Comics- Batman















There have been great, albeit loud, Batman-based Converse Chucks in the past. Most with great designs and colors. This pair is a little more reserved with a great black and yellow color scheme and black/gray Batman image on one side and bat-signal with embedded Chuck logo.

Latest 'Amazing Spider-Man' Trailer



 While I personally find this reboot of Spider-Man totally unnecessary so soon after the last trilogy ended I have to admit the movie looks fantastic. Especially, in 3D previews prior to 'Avengers' it really looked like it took full advantage of the technology. It could finally mean a movie worth the extra 3D dollars at the theater. There's stuff coming at you what seems constantly as Spidey swings around avoiding debris and shooting webs (mechanical this time around) and fighting Lizard. Here's the latest.

Secret Catwoman Poster for "Dark Knight Rises"


There are so many posters being released by Warner Bros. for the upcoming "Dark Knight Rises" that it's becoming hard to keep up. This one in particular was available by following a QR code from one of the other one-sheets that were released. The imagery is different and pretty cool. Prepare to be bombarded by more propaganda in the coming weeks. 

(via Aintitcool.com) 

Newest "Dark Knight Rises" Trailer Reveals More

         


Recently released over the Memorial Day weekend, a new "Dark Knight Rises" trailer reveals more plot details. It appears to be meeting speculation that may or may not follow "Knightfall" comics story line. With Christopher Nolan nothing is certain and I'm sure plenty of secrets remain but as we near the July 20 opening date we'll get more and more bits and pieces. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Comic Book Spotlight: Batman Incorporated


Believe the hype. 

The other day I posted some background information for this new (relaunch) volume of Grant Morrison's "Batman Incorporated" and I finally had a chance to read it and it does not disappoint. It carries over the same sleek and fluid storytelling from the first volume. You won't have to pick up last year's original volume now available and collected in a hardcover edition (but I would recommend it) to immerse yourself in this #1 issue. 

Briefly, all you need to know is that since Batman came back from the dead he realizes he has friends to help administer his kind justice all over the world and begins to franchise his brand. An evil organization called Leviathan is run by Batman's baby momma, Talia al Ghul, who is not pleased that their love child, Damian Wayne is his sidekick, Robin. A woman scorned will sometimes put out a contract on her estranged son as Talia has done here. This brings assassins from all over to Gotham looking to bag the petulant child. 

The book opens up with Bruce Wayne being arrested then flash backs a month to Batman and Robin chasing a culprit through a bloody meat processing plant, we meet a desperate hit man, we see a creepy dinner party held by Leviathan, we meet some of the Batman Inc. operatives briefly, then work our way to another exciting chase that leads to an unexpected cliff hanger. The book is full of information, juggles different perspectives, has some humor in the exchanges between smart alecky son, Damian and daddy Batman, all of which transitions seamlessly. It feels like a much longer book than it actually it is. 

Morrison's  dialogue is pitch-perfect. Some writers like to over-write sometimes but Morrison says so much with less. He moves the story along and the action is gritty and reminds me of a lighter version of Quentin Tarantino with some of the bloodier scenes infused with some humor. The beautiful artwork is by Chris Burnham with great detail and color (Nathan Fairbairn) in each panel. Probably Burnham's greatest achievement is rendering the looks of expression on the characters. As concise as an artist as Morrison is as a writer. So much is expressed in his detailed drawings. 

I don't know where 'Batman Incorporated' sits in the continuity of the new DC universe but if you want a fun and actually exciting title you can't go wrong with this one.  






Photo: Skeletor


I don't know why or who or what but I like it. (via itsthatbear)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

New 'Dark Knight Rises' Banners


Seems that SuperHeroHype.com has received these four  new banners from Warner Bros. for Christopher Nolan's last of the Batman trilogy movies, 'The Dark Knight Rises.' They also have some exciting news to report:

Last summer, when ComingSoon.net/SuperHeroHype was invited by Warner Bros. to be a part of a small group of journalists to travel down to Pittsburgh to spend a day on Nolan's set, let's just say that it took us less than a second to say "yes."
 Look for our full set report sometime in the next couple months before The Dark Knight Rises opens on July 20, 2012.





Background on 'Batman Incorporated' #1



Alex Zalben at MTV Geek has this great primer for the newly released series from DC Comics, "Batman Incorporated". After it's initial run was halted in the wake of DC's "New 52" publication-wide relaunch it returns with Grant Morrison back at the helm with a brand new #1 issue. Here's the background on the series:

...Bruce Wayne died, and when he came back to life he realized the main reason was he had friends. Well, also a never-ending battle against crime...So he stepped in front of the whole world...as...Bruce Wayne, financed Batman... And he was taking the brand global.
Over the next ten issues, Batman recruited new Batmen in Japan, Africa, and Europe, having adventures with each of his new team-mates battling the evil organization Leviathan. Making things more difficult was that Leviathan, with few exceptions, was using brainwashed children to do their dirty work, often sending them to fight to their deaths.
...the evil mastermind is Talia al Ghul, the daughter of the sort of deceased Ra’s al Ghul, and more importantly, the mother of Batman’s child, Damian Wayne... Who was now his Robin.
...Talia felt that since Batman had decided to put their child in extreme danger on the side of good, she would put every other child in the world in danger on the side of bad, and then let Batman decide who he felt was more important: his own kid, or everyone else’s kid.

I hope that was clear.  The issue was just released yesterday and I'll be posting my thoughts on this highly anticipated title from one of the best comic book writers in Morrison soon after.

Lakers Season, the Fallout and the Start of Mindless Trade Talk



The Los Angeles Lakers playoff run ended less than 72 hours ago against the superior Oklahoma City Thunder and the trade rumors and blame game are in full swing. Clearly, the Lakers lacked sufficient talent and youth along with lacking the will and determination to close out games when they had the opportunity. There are a number of things to be concerned about but a clear perspective is not always an ardent Lakers fan's best attribute. The local media can be a mixed bag between apologists and doomsayers and fill up airtime, print space, or websites with any and all angles to drive attention. I suppose I could be guilty too but it happens every year the Lakers fall short of winning another championship. As Lakers fans we demand a lot but let's not drive ourselves crazy.

For almost any other team in the NBA appearing in the second round of the playoffs would be considered a success. However, this is Los Angeles, where it's championship or bust. We've been spoiled. We want championship #17 and for some a sixth ring for Kobe Bryant. The team faced a lockout shortened season with very little training camp time and few preseason games with a new coach and a new system. Commissioner David Stern aborted a trade that would've sent Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom away for Chris Paul in return. The ensuing hurt feelings led to Odom's departure in a different deal. They opened the season playing 3 games in a row and it didn't get much easier from there. Trade rumors lingered but ultimately nothing significant occurred early on in the season. Lakers played well. They toiled as middle-of-the-pack teams. Later in the season they sent the aging leader in Derek Fisher to the Houston Rockets for Jordan Hill and picked up Ramon Sessions from Cleveland. Small moves but seemingly important to provide more youth and speed at the point guard position. Sessions fit the bill for the most part; speedy drives to the basket with a nice floater, lobs to Andrew Bynum, Josh McRoberts, Gasol, etc.

The  team was essentially thrown together with some new additions under new coach Mike Brown and his staff to basically learn the playbook during the season. It was often ugly but the Lakers proved to be better than most of the league. All the while rumors persisted about what other moves Lakers would make to help secure a successful playoff run. Names like Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love, Michael Beasley were thrown around but ultimately Sessions and Hill were the only "significant" players acquired.

And so the playoffs began. The Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets in 7 games in a tougher than expected first round match-up. Then met the Oklahoma City Thunder where they were not favored to win and lost in 5 games. Both series exposed a lot of issues.

Sessions proved not to be ready for the spotlight by being underwhelming both offensively and defensively. Steve Blake took over more minutes especially in the fourth quarter of the Denver series where he made some timely shots. Blake however was mostly ineffective in OKC. Metta World Peace seemed to take his play to another level by providing tenacious defense and some good shooting. His elbow to James Harden's head was the low point and it cost him a game. Gasol's numbers had gone down across the board and appeared unsure and passive at times. He was not very aggressive unless prodded by Bryant publicly. Bynum played well in Denver but was out-hustled at times by the more athletic JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried. Against the Thunder he was bullied by Kendrick Perkins and struggled. His focus and motivation was also suspect. Bryant didn't shoot particularly well but always found a way to get to the line, making 18 of 18 in one game most notably. The biggest surprise was his inability to close out games. The usually reliable Bryant often went away from feeding the post players and shot jumpers that didn't fall. It would often lead to fast breaks for the other teams. He also contributed his share of turnovers at the worst of times. His performance was uncharacteristically mortal and pedestrian.

The bench didn't supply much help either. Matt Barnes, Devin Ebanks, Blake, were routinely outscored by the opponents bench. The only bright spot was Hill who at least provided some energy and rebounding.

It would be easy to dismiss this outcome as a failure. And it is but not because the Lakers didn't win the championship. It's a failure because they didn't play at their full potential. Whether their effort waned from fatigue or indifference the series were not lost for lack of talent but lack of total commitment. The commitment to finish games, to communicate, to fight for position, to rebound, to move the ball. These are not abstract concepts these are fundamental tenets of basketball. The Denver series never should have gone to seven games. Against Oklahoma City the Lakers gave away games.

So who do we blame? Someone has to take the fall. There has to be an incompetent figure who deserves our scorn. The masses must be fed a sacrifice for such failure! If you listen to local sports radio the villain changes with each fan who calls in. A listener in Pacoima blames Gasol's soft play. A listener in West Hollywood blames Kobe. A listener in Long Beach blames Stern for not allowing the Paul trade. Everybody has an opinion. Beat reporters get it. They have the best perspective since they're embedded with the team. They understand there isn't an easy answer. Changes will occur. Columnists' opinions will vary from the team is too old to compete to it's so-and-so's fault. If you ask Petros Papadakis from Fox Sports Radio's "The Petros and Money Show" the blame falls squarely on Kobe's shoulders.

"Worst teammate ever."
"No player has gotten better playing with Kobe."
"I don't think anyone wants to come to  play with Kobe."
"Selfish."

Suffice it to say that Petros is not a fan of Kobe. While he tempers his disdain by acknowledging that Kobe is a great player it's clear that his analysis goes beyond reasonable criticism. Does Kobe deserve his share of blame for the Lakers exiting the playoffs? Of course he does. He became a catalyst for failure in some of those games but to speculate and treat his biased opinions as fact is irresponsible. He doesn't know for a fact if other top free agents don't want to come to play for the Lakers because Kobe is there. He doesn't substantiate his opinion with sources or facts. There are plenty of reasons free agents don't end up in LA;team's financial constraints, cost of living, available playing time, higher offers, etc. This is what the conversation devolves to. It's as clear-headed as that caller from Long Beach blaming Stern for the Lakers outcome.

From exit interviews teammates appear to like Kobe despite what some say.


Troy Murphy on Kobe: "His basketball IQ is by far greater than anyone I've ever played with."

Darius Morris on Kobe: "I didn't really expect us to be as close as we got, but it happened. ... Off the court we became good friends."

Jordan Hill: "Kobe's just like one of us. Have fun, smile, laugh, jokes. But when it's time to get that ball in the hands, it's game time."

It's clear many of the Lakers hope to return and improve for next year.

Mike Brown: "Under the circumstances, I feel like we got a lot accomplished and feel we learned a lot... But we can be better"

Andrew Goudelock on management: "They said they liked me ... Summer league is more about me showing them what to work on & solidify myself."

Andrew Bynum: "I want to be a Laker, but you never know what's going to happen."

Devin Ebanks: "i would definitely like to stay in L.A."

Steve Blake: "I still believe with this group of guys we can still get it."

Bynum: "I don't want to go anywhere. Hopefully if I keep elevating my play, I won't have to."

Ramon Sessions: "Definitely hope to be here. Hopefully everything works out."

Matt Barnes: "When you don't win here, changes are made."

Amid the exit interviews and blame game going on in the media the annual Lakers trade speculation has revved up on local radio and with some online outlets. On the radio listeners are proposing all the real and imagined trades they can muster. Everything from Steve Blake and Jordan Hill for Steve Nash to trading Kobe (who has a no-trade clause) for Deron Williams and Brook Lopez to everything in between. And it will remain like this for months to come. Some folks want to blow up the team entirely to making minor tweaks. The airwaves will be flooded with every whisper of a trade. 


Probably one of the best Lakers fan site, LakersNation.com, has already begun rounding reports of speculative additions like this one from ESPN dated May 22, less than 24 hours after the Lakers lost:


"Here are different possible fits for [Steve] Nash, beginning with the recently eliminated Los Angeles Lakers."


There are other posts involving trade scenarios with  Deron Williams and  Andrew Bynum. I haven't even ventured into the forums as I'm sure theirs as well as other sites have a multitude of amateur general managers ready to trade Bynum for the ghost of Wilt Chamberlain. These fantasy basketball wish lists for 2013 will be a staple for the coming months even though we're only 3 days away from the 2011-2012 Western Conference Finals. 


I realize changes need to be made. Obviously, the Lakers lack something that has caused them to be booted from the second round of the playoffs two years in a row. The same questions linger at point guard as well as others. If Sessions comes back will he grow into his role and run the offense with authority? Will Metta World Peace come into camp in shape and ready from the beginning? Will Andrew Bynum add to his game to break double teams and mature into a man? Will players finally feel comfortable in Coach Brown's system? Can Kobe continue to play at a high level and still have enough for another playoff run? Is there any hope to improve a dismal bench? No one knows but what we do know is that if there's a significant way to make this team a legitimate contender against the Thunders of the basketball world Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss will make it happen. You won't hear about it. You probably won't see it coming. The Lakers brass is very tight-lipped about potential moves. They won't even discuss it with any certainty or clarity. They shocked the NBA with the acquisition of Pau Gasol a few years ago and I expect they'll do something incredulous again. 


So the season was hard and the ending was brutal but as Lakers fans we know that the organization will do everything in their power to keep the team competitive and win another championship. It is winning that gold ball that drives Kobe, the team, the management, the owners, the fans and you can throw out all the mindless trade talk you want but whomever is on the roster come 2013 it'll be another NBA Finals appearance or nothing at all. 




















Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"Wonder Woman" Body Paint Model



This beautiful shot comes via supplement company, Nutrex, from their Facebook page featuring model Gia Macool with "Wonder Woman" body paint by John Neyrot.

I think the following quote from 'Wayne's World' encapsulates the feeling:

Garth Algar: That is a babe. She makes me feel kinda funny, like when we used to climb the rope in gym class.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lea Michele with Power Girl Cleavage-Window




As a comic book fan of course one of my first thoughts upon seeing a photo of "Glee"'s Lea Michele in this outfit on TMZ is "Hey, that looks like Power Girl's cleavage-window." And thus I decided to bring the two together. Power Girl is Superman's cousin from Earth-Two with the same powers and a tough lady. Reasons for the opening have been pretty vague over the years but as Michele could attest it is easily used to distract.

Lakers Eliminated by Thunder, Look to Next Year



( Photo credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / May 21, 2012 )

The Oklahoma City Thunder took care of the Los Angeles Lakers and sent them fishing for the remainder of the postseason and beyond by winning the series 4-1 after last night's Game 5, 106-90. The game had played out like most of the Lakers losses in the series. They were competitive and kept the game close by controlling the tempo in the first half only to fade in every way in the second half. The Thunder went on a big run to open the fourth and never looked back.

Kobe Bryant looked the sharpest he probably has looked since Game 3 scoring 42 points using dunks, 3-pointers, one-legged fade-away jumpers, free throws, etc. He looked very spry but his effort was not enough. Pau Gasol did have 14 points, 16 rebounds but the majority of that was in the first half. Andrew Bynum because of foul trouble was virtually a no-show with 10 points, 4 rebounds. The bench chipped with an anemic 5 points.

The Lakers still have a hole at point guard as the man expected to provide quickness and penetration with consistent scoring, Ramon Sessions, played horribly. He had 8 points on 1-6 shooting and committed 6 turnovers. Two of those turnovers helped spark the Thunder surge in the fourth. His defense on Russell Westbrook was as effective as a turnstile. In all fairness, Sessions was not prepared for this level of scrutiny on a stage this large. He was acquired late in the season and his raw talent wasn't enough to match the pressure of Laker playoff basketball.

The Thunder was led as usual by their big 3, Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden who combined contributed 70 of the team's 106 points. Westbrook once again kept the Thunder in the game in the third quarter with his energy and shooting. Durant came out firing from long range in the fourth to extend their lead over the Lakers. Harden wreaked havoc all over the floor on defense and in the lane offensively. It was just a repeat of Games 2 and 4.

Thunder will face the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. Lakers will seek answers this off-season. The Lakers have a lot of money already committed to seven players for next season so answers won't be easy to come by. Pau seems like the obvious piece to be moved. Perhaps it'll actually happen this time. He's owed $38 million over the next two years and is there a buyer out there after his lackluster playoff performance? There's a team option on Bynum for $16 million which is expected to be picked up but there's still some uncertainty.

"It's going to depend on what the team wants to do," Bynum said. "I definitely want to stay. I really think I'm going to be back next year. I can't say the same for everyone but I do know that I'm going to come back and be a better player."


The Lakers options are limited. Trades with willing partners may be the only real option. Management is trying to lower their costs so it would be hard to imagine a team already over the luxury tax will be willing to go much higher. With low-money exceptions to offer and the last pick in the draft the Lakers will have to be as creative as they've ever been to steal away some talent to help return to the Finals. 






Monday, May 21, 2012

The Beauty of Strength II: The Best Advice

                 

"The Best Advice"

In the world of fitness competitors few are more successful than Nicole Wilkins and Erin Stern. These IFBB professionals have spent the last four years dominating the Figure division and in recent years battling each other for the top spot. In the 2010 Figure Olympia for example, Erin took first place and Nicole was right behind in second. In spite of all their success;contest wins, magazine covers, sponsorships, etc., they still are capable to reach out and offer advice on training, eating healthy, and the sport of figure.

Not many athletes at the top of their sport are as accessible as Erin and Nicole. They both have websites with bio's, personal training offers, gorgeous photo galleries, and contact information. They're also available on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and through blogs from different print and online magazines. They both offer video Q and A's answering questions from fans. What better advice than from the best female bodybuilders in the world?


Aside from weight training and food planning advice they offer inspiration to keep you motivated. They share what it's like to travel and still stay on course with your diet and training. They've worked extremely hard to get where they are today and aren't afraid to show how far they've come. They know success like theirs doesn't come without certain sacrifices so they know they can help anyone reach their fitness goals if they are willing to put in the work. These ladies aren't just champions but genuinely invested in promoting physical fitness and seeing that people get the message and succeed. 

There are other prominent fitness competitors that also offer personal training and advice. Most are quite genuine. Some however are selling a program, an image, a product and not personally invested in people's success. They're not offering free advice or tips on training or recipes or putting themselves out there on video to be disseminated by the public at large. Here you have two of the best in the business making themselves available with real world champion-level fitness knowledge. Learning from the pros has never been more accurate. 


Official Website
Twitter
Facebook
YouTube


Official Website
Twitter
Facebook
YouTube








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Lakers Face Elimination in Game 5 After Uneven Weekend



The Los Angeles Lakers went into the weekend in a 0-2 hole to the Oklahoma City Thunder in their Western Conference semi-final series. As if the hole wasn't hard enough to dig out of but they would have to try to even the series on back-to-back nights for Games 3 and 4. It was a tale of two Lakers teams as one appeared energized and aggressive while the other looked fatigued and passive.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Friday night's Game 3 was the Lakers best game of the series. Except for the final two minutes of Game 2 the Lakers continued to slow the tempo and force OKC to play their game. They were aggressively attacking the basket and moving the ball for open looks and players were actually knocking them down. The previously passive Ramon Sessions was slashing to the basket and dropping floaters or lay-ups. Andrew Bynum was posting up and punishing Thunder defenders on his way to the rim. It was a historic night for free throws as the Lakers made 41 of 42 as proof of their forceful play. Kobe Bryant made all 18 of his free throw opportunities. Their balanced attack resulted in six players in double figures.

Thunder never gave up as they continued to rally behind Kevin Durant and his 10 points in the 3rd quarter. Every rally was countered with a run by the Lakers. Steve Blake provided a spark with 5 straight points during one sequence. Ultimately, the Lakers with Kobe leading the way with 8 points of the team's final 10 points were able to hold on and close out the Thunder in the final minutes to win, 99-96.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Twenty-four hours later and with Lakers Coach Mike Brown deciding to give the team extra rest by forgoing the morning's shoot-around and settling for a walk-through and video session a couple of hours before Game 4 on Saturday. It proved not to be enough rest to push them through another 48 minutes of basketball.

For a third game in a row, the Lakers were able to maintain the tempo and execute well on offense and defense. Kobe Bryant played under control and stayed aggressive driving and going to the free throw line. Andrew Bynum in particular was a monster down low making his first six shots. Pau Gasol also seemed energized in the first half by blocking shots. The Lakers won the first half and lead 56-46 at halftime.

Then came the second half. Thunder were not sharp but relied on their superstars to keep them in the game. Russell Westbrook was relentlessly attacking the Lakers defense by either driving or with pull-up jumpers. Westbrook ended with 37 points for the game. Kevin Durant ended with 31 points and 13 rebounds and was the star closer of this game.

Despite the rally, the Lakers were up by 13 points with about 8 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Then  a strange thing happened. The very philosophy that brought them the lead some how went out the window. The inside-out game turned into Kobe going one-on-one and shooting jumpers...that missed. When he drove he got fouled but Bynum was suddenly fronted by his defender and pushed to the wing. Was this fatigued finally setting in or simply Thunder's defensive adjustments paying off? It seemed that the ball wasn't moving around anymore. Kobe missed a couple of 3 point shots helping the Thunder fast break and eventually Durant tying the game at the 1:54 mark.

At 1:16 Kendrick Perkins put back a miss and took the lead.

Bryant tied the game at 98 with 1:04 left in the game. After a Thunder turnover the Lakers set up a play designed for Gasol. A screen and roll handed the ball to Gasol on the wing with what seemed like a good look but inexplicably decided to pass cross-court but it was intercepted by Durant who ran down and shot the game deciding 3 point shot. Thunder win, 103-100.

Much will be made of the Gasol's indecisiveness and unwillingness to shoot the shot that could have won the game for the Lakers. It never should have gotten to that point. Whether it was exhaustion or Thunder defense or poor coaching the Lakers again were not able to close out a game they had a lead in. Questions remain and could haunt them with an early boot from the playoffs. Why did they go away from Bynum? Why wasn't there a counter to OKC fronting Bynum? Why wasn't Gasol more aggressive in the final minutes? Why did Kobe settle for jumpers? We may know that one. When things unravel at the end of games like this there was always a voice of reason and one person who wasn't afraid to make a big shot even at Kobe's expense. Unfortunately, that kind of person plays for the team with a 3-1 series advantage.

WHAT NOW

Simply, the Lakers have to continue to do what they've done the last three games. It isn't so much about a game plan. They have that. It's a matter of endurance and mustering up enough intestinal fortitude to finish the Thunder in the closing minutes. You can't make the Lakers younger but you can be smarter, protect the ball and find the will to overcome adversity. Coach Mike Brown needs to do a better job of making quick adjustments. Except for Game 1's blowout the Lakers could easily be leading this series but their inability to close has wrecked their chances.

And lastly, Kobe has to be a better leader and team player. His play from the 4th quarter in Games 3 and 4 were like night and day. He needs to recognize what got them in position to win and go back to feeding the big guys especially when his jumper is not falling.



Mon, May 219:30 PM ET

TNTChesapeake Energy Arena
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS - GAME 5


Los Angeles


Oklahoma City

(graphic via ESPN)


Friday, May 18, 2012

Classic TV Spotlight: The Incredible Hulk





Long before the success of the Hulk in the 'Avengers' movie, two disappointing (by Hollywood standards) movie endeavors and ABC's recent plans for a 2013 TV show he was smashing the network airwaves in his own live-action series back in 1978. Here's a little description from the always reliable (?) Wiki page:


The Incredible Hulk is a television series based on the Marvel Comics character the Hulk. The series aired on the CBS television network and starred Bill Bixby asDavid Banner, Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk, and Jack Colvin as Jack McGee.
In the series, Dr. David Banner, a widowed physician and scientist, who is presumed dead, travels across America under assumed names (his false surnames always begin with the letter “B”), and finds himself in positions where he helps others in need despite his terrible secret: in times of extreme anger, he transforms into a huge, incredibly strong green creature, who has been given the name "The Hulk”.

Sometimes campy and overly simplistic, predictable plots didn't hinder the wonder I had as a child watching David Banner transform into the Incredible Hulk. Watching poor ole Dr. Banner walk the earth taking crappy jobs and always finding trouble by helping others that inevitably lead to pissing him off causing the Hulk to bust out at just the right moment. It was just fun and fantastical entertainment to wait for that point in every episode where we got to see the big greenie appear.

TIHcredits.jpg


At the heart of the show was the wonderful Bill Bixby, whose performance is what kept the show's goal of realism and sincerity intact. Many things were changed from the comic book to retain some credibility and Bixby's ability to express a range of emotions as Banner evoked a sense of pathos. You couldn't help but feel empathy for him as a man cursed, forced to travel from town to town seeking a solution to his condition. In a way you hope he finds fellow scientists that could reverse it. All the while helping people, facing very human villains and being hounded by the Hulk-hunter, tabloid reporter Jack McGee. 

 "Mr. McGee, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

Lou Ferrigno, the champion bodybuilder, was probably at his biggest physically in his career at the time and fit the realistic TV version perfectly. The painted-on green skin, the green contact lenses and dyed yak hair wig really helped bring the non-speaking, fully grunting beast to life. 

Sadly, poor Dr. David Banner has to keep moving once his alter-ego wrecks up the town and ends up hitch-hiking on a lonely road to places unknown. This leads to probably the saddest and most fitting closing music ever on television, "The Lonely Man" by Joe Harnell.









'Anchorman 2' Teaser Trailer



Ron Burgundy and the Action News team is coming back.

Lakers vs Thunder: Game 3 Mini-Preview



I call this a 'mini' preview because it should be fairly simple and short as to what the Los Angeles Lakers have to do in Game 3 against the Oklahoma City Thunder;play like you did in Game 2 but this time for the complete 48 minutes of regulation. 


Slow the tempo again, hold your positions, feed the big guys, play inside-out, communicate and rotate expeditiously, and attack the basket. Do not, under any circumstances, stop playing with two minutes  to go in the game regardless of the lead.

It's unsure if the Thunder will shoot as well as Game 1 or as poorly as Game 2 but as long the  Lakers play physical team defense then they can again limit Russell Westbrook and their big guys to low FG averages.

Lakers have a huge hole to escape from down 2 games to none in the series. No team in the NBA has ever come back down 3 games. Kobe Bryant doesn't seemed panicked by the challenge.

"I've been here before," he said. "I communicated that to the guys. Everybody will be ready to go."

The challenge is even more daunting with Game 3 tonight and Game 4 tomorrow. Tough for any team but the Lakers have older legs in Kobe, Pau Gasol, Matt Barnes and Metta World Peace. Thunder are making adjustments too and so it becomes critical that Ramon Sessions and Steve Blake make an impact on the game as needed. Sessions, having looked timid and hesitant, needs to be more aggressive and more selfish. Blake has to make open shots like he did in the Denver series. Their combined 9 points in the series will need to multiply by at least 2-3 times that to help the Lakers win.

(On a personal note, to all those idiots who tweeted malicious comments towards Steve Blake and his family, please stop it. Grow the hell up. It's a game. You are an embarrassment to Lakers fans everywhere.)

Comic Book Spotlight: Thief of Thieves


Robert Kirkman is no stranger to comic book success. The creator of "Invincible" and "The Walking Dead" has become a giant in the industry. As well as being the COO of Image Comics, Inc., and Executive Producer of the highly successful live-action version of "Dead" on the AMC network, Kirkman is still finding ways to bring quality comic books to market. "Thief of Thieves" for example has been a huge hit going on it's fourth printing. This from Image Comics website:

The Image Comics/Skybound series THIEF OF THIEVES, Robert Kirkman's cinematic crime comic has no zombies, no superheroes, and no larger-than-life arsenal — and it has become one of the best-selling independent comics hits of the year. The first three issues are now entering their fourth printings, with the fourth issue not far behind with a third printing.

With a story overseen by Kirkman (THE WALKING DEAD, INVINCIBLE), scripts by Nick Spencer (MORNING GLORIES) and art by Shawn Martinbrough, THIEF OF THIEVES is the story of a master thief, "Redmond," who tries to leave a life of crime to reclaim his "real" life and family as Conrad Paulson. Or is it his real life? An estranged wife, a son set on following in his footsteps — Paulson is finding that identities can't be changed as easily as suits.

The great thing about the comic book world is that there is now and has always been a great variety of genres. Sure, the big two publishers saturate the market with tried and true classic caped superheroes but there's always been  a market for alternative stories involving horror, science fiction, fantasy, and even crime dramas. 

(For a wonderful statement about this from Robert Kirkman that appears at the end of  issue #1 entitled "I believe in comic books" please take a look after the page previews below for that.)

That leads me to "Thief of Thieves". So far the comic reads like a heist movie without the typical conventions of the genre. The art is clean and subtle with storytelling that is increasingly finding it's rhythm and voice. The characters are engaging and clever. Yes, there's action but it isn't what drives the books, the development of the characters and their relatable situations draw you in and make you root for them. 

And as with all my Comic Book Spotlight features, this book is just getting started and up to #4 so plenty of time to catch up. You'll soon see it on the AMC network as they've optioned it for a series. Time to jump on the bandwagon now. 




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