Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Ultimates

Why I dig the Ultimates...(Avengers, that is)

As many of you may know, I am very, very afraid of movie adaptation of comic books. Some of you may also know that coming up as a youngblood, I was a huge Marvel head. I just couldn't get with DC comics (That was until Dwayne McDuffie came alone... he pretty much singlehandedly returned me back to the world of comic book-dom). If you were to read my other blog, you would learn that I am a huge fan of Captain America. Yes, my Pan Africanist tail loves me some Captain America.

The huge bumrush of the Mutant-palooza made me stop reading titles such as the Avengers and Captain America since the better writers were used for the mutant based comic books (Again, I have to thank folks like Joe Quesada for taking Marvel into the direction the New Avengers have been going as well as the Civil War series – big up to Billie Wheelz for that). When Marvel did the Ultimates universe, I was not really impressed. I did however, dig the Ultimate Avengers which was written by Mark Millar and illustrated by Bryan Hitch. I enjoyed how they redid Captain America, the Pyms, Thor, Hulk, Betsy Ross, S.H.I.E.L.D. (yes they got rid of those tight suits), Hawkeye, the Black Widow, and yes Nick Fury.

They made Nick Fury a black man! Now, don't get me wrong I dug the original Nick Fury despite the tight outfits. I really just can't take a super secret government agency trying to arrest cats while wearing tight suits.

Marvel took it a bit further and did two made for DVD release movies, Ultimate Avengers I and II. The second DVD focused on the Black Panther and the African country of Wakanda. It can't get any better than that. Love it, man.

Had to get that off my chest.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Keeping Up With The Jones

Omi's Note: Tony Muhammed, an educator and Dj from Florida had some pretty interesting things to say about the Indiana JOnes promo on BET's 106 and park. To be honest, I have only seen one episode of that teeny bopper show in my entire life (what ever happened to Teen summit?). But check it out. the link is below. Let me know what you think. (big up to Davey D for this).

Keeping Up With the Joneses: BET and the Subliminal Culture of White Supremacy

By Bro.
Tony Muhammad

Since Viacom bought out Black Entertainment Television (BET) my attention towards the cable channel's programming has diminished to a crawl. I noticed several years ago how as soon as the take over was complete the changes became obvious.
Conscientious talk show host Tavis Smiley was immediately fired from BET Tonight and replaced by the non-threatening Ed Gordon, ultimately doing away with the late night news segment altogether. At the same time, Rap City seemed to have all of a sudden lost its edge on bridging the gaps between the old, new and true schools in Hip Hop.
The predominant images in Hip Hop, especially on the famed 106 and Park became increasingly trendy; which actually meant more sexist, savagely stereotypical and violently vulgar. Alienated, I like many other conscientious loyal viewers made the decision to tune out. With the exception of special eye catching programs such as the Hip Hop Verses America panel series that aired last year, the only updates I would receive about what was shown on BET came through my students.

Flash forward to May 20th, 2008. It was late afternoon. A very close friend of mine who happens to be a pioneer in the music industry was visiting from out of town. He was flipping through channels on my living room television set and just so happened to land on BET. He quickly called me over to pay special attention to what was taking place on the screen. The first obvious thing I noticed was that this was a special 106 and Park show, promoting the release of the movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The first thought that came to my mind was that this was rather unusual, considering that all of the main characters in the film are white.
This is Black Entertainment Television after all right??? Not only this but the main character himself, Indiana Jones played by Harrison Ford, is supposed to be a famous anthropologist who is on a life-long journey to explore non-Western lands for precious treasures, which in his mind should be placed on display in Western (European) museums.

Co-host Terrence J was wearing an Indiana Jones get up on the show; brown leather jacket, brimmed hat and all. The show was airing live from the Magic Johnson movie theatre in what was once known as the Mecca of Black intellectualism and culture; Harlem, New York. Today, Harlem's population has been "whitewashed" as a result of rabid gentrification efforts. I automatically started making these connections in my mind and became concerned yet interested to see more.
I then noticed two pillars, one on either side of the set, reminiscent of ancient Egypt (Kemit), which according to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was one of the last greatest Black civilizations on Earth. It quickly dawned on me that the first Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, took place in Egypt (Kemit) and how many of its glorious ancient artifacts are today found in many Western museums and how European (white) scholars have historically discredited Black people from developing such a civilization; giving more credit to what has been termed as "North African Caucasoids" (if there ever was such a thing) or simply put, "tanned" white people. Knowing all of this is important in order to understand what was to come.

Ashanti was the first artist to perform between the two pillars. On one level she appeared culturally enriched, with makeup around her eyes symbolic of the great pharaohs of ancient Egypt (Kemit). Artistically however, it was obvious that she is being molded according to corporate-music industry research standards - trying to mold her to sound more like what's presently "hot" (Keyshia Cole) rather than her own natural soft sensual musical self. After Ashanti's performance Shia LaBeouf, who plays Indiana Jones' sidekick Mutt Williams, was brought up on stage. He was asked to kick a freestyle, but refused.Instead, he did the "Crip Walk. " The audience cheered.

read more here...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Star Wars Legacy of the Force: Revelation

Revelation (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force, Book 8)

by Karen Traviss

Book Review by Dan Tres OMi

Omi's Note: I did read this book several weeks ago but held out on the review until the latest installment was out and gave everyone a week or two to catch it. This way, I wouldn't spoil anything for anyone.

With Karen Traviss at the helm of this book, the readers are returned to the Mandolarian culture. This time, Jaina decides it is up to her to defeat her brother. She was advised to seek training from someone that Jacen/Darth Caedus would never expect: Boba Fett. The story moves along at a quickening pace as Jacen/Darth Caedus finds a new apprentice.

The Mandolarians begin to secure more weapons contracts as they start to design fighter craft that are superior to anything used by the Galactic Alliance (GA). Some old characters from Traviss' Clone Commando series also make appearances. The reader also learns more about Fett's past. I only found these parts to be the plus ones. Everything else could have been done in a comic book.

Again, I must reiterate this particular theme: Fett is too old to be out there fighting. Yes, he has been cured (escaping death yet again) but his aging wasn't reversed. I expected there to be more deaths at the hands of Jacen/Darth Caedus. I expected to see more major characters meet their end. Yet none of it happened.

Personally, I don't think Jaina has what it takes to take on Jacen. When it comes to the Force, Jacen is just too formidable unless the authors from the Dark Nest Trilogy have been pulling our legs. Although I enjoy Traviss' work, I feel that this book and the last one were not enough to wrap up the later part of the series. The first few books did well to set up the plot yet now it seems as if Jacen/Darth Caedus despite all of his power can't seem to hold anything together.

There are so many characters that I feel should be focused on such as Kyp Durron, Seba Sebantyne, and others. Yet we get the same old guys, Luke (who should have been killed instead of Mara Jade), Han, and Leia. Although I dig the Mandolarians and their culture, I didn't really want to see a wedding.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Kwisatz Haderach: Sandwords Part II – The Breakdown

Another mythological concept brought into sci fi by the brilliant Frank Herbert was that of the Kwisatz Haderach or “the shortening of the way” in Herbert's Dune trilogy. In the Dune universe, this messiah like being would be able to connect the bridge between time and space. The Kwisatz Haderach would be everyone at once and be able to tell the future through prescience. In the original books, the Kwisatz Haderach was manifested in Paul Mu'adib who later refused this role, and then his son Leto II who became the God Emperor and ruled the universe for 2500 years.

While reading Ben Bova's Saturn, I noticed that many of his heroes were people of color. It is authors like Bova who remind me that in the future, it will be people from other countries outside of the United States who will most likely map out the stars. Bova does not mean people of Canada or Europe. If anything, there have been several articles that discuss how countries such as China, India, and even Nigeria have robust space programs.

In Sandwords of Dune, the concept of the Kwisatz Haderach returns. This time (this is a spoiler, folks) that person is manifested in Duncan Idaho. Idaho was a close bodyguard to the Atriedes family where the original Kwisatz Haderach came from. I must point out that Sandwords of Dune was written by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson using notes left by the late Frank Herbert. Yet here we are, maybe 25,000 years into the future and a white cat named Duncan Idaho is the savior of the universe. Go figure. Why did his name have to be Duncan Idaho? Why can't it be Chen or Ramirez or Taiwo? Let's take it further, why couldn't it have been Sheila Idaho or Janet Idaho? I will say that the Dune series has a great number of female heroes. Yet what about the Kwisatz Haderach?

It's this type of sci fi naivete that bugs me out. As stated before, many will say that these gentlemen write from their perspective. When it comes to sci fi, I have to disagree. There have been many ideas and technological advances made because of the things discussed in sci fi. Even an element on the periodic table is named after Krypton. To think that white men will continue to run things even in science fiction is borderline idiocy and wishful thinking. There I said it.