Author: Craig Zablo

Til Death Gets New Life

Are any of you watching Til Death? If the ratings are any indication, probably not, but I’m suggesting that you give it a try.

Brad Garrett from Everybody Loves Raymond stars along with Joely Fisher as a long-married couple who, once newlyweds move in next door, realize how much things change over time. The show is funny and a great way to pass thirty minutes, but it has yet to find a big audience. I think that part of the reason is it airs on Thursday nights and faces some stiff competition. Fox must feel the same. Starting on March 14th, Til Death will move to Wednesday nights and follow American Idol.
With American Idol as it’s lead-in Til Death should find it’s audience. If not, the title could be prophetic.

Raise the Dead

Raise the Dead is a new comic book that I think will appeal to most ZONErs. The story follows a “disparate group of seven people forced to cooperate with each other in order to survive” a zombie infestation. Yeah, not an original idea, but one that works. I know how much we all enjoy “The Walking Dead,” “Dawn of the Dead,” “Night of the Living Dead,” “World War Z,” “28 days later”

– Hey! How did that last one get in there? It’s not technically a zombie story??


– Yeah, but that’s not the point. The point is that we enjoyed all of those “zombie” stories and we ought to give Raise the Dead a chance. So check out the preview HERE and let me know what you think. I’ll bet Chad likes it!

Muhammad Ali: Still the Greatest

Today is Muhammad Ali’s 65th birthday. It’s hard to believe that the champ is 65. It’s harder still to believe that Parkinson’s disease has been able to rob Ali of much of his health for many of these years.

I was five years old when Ali beat Liston for the title. Here was this brash young kid bragging that he’d beat this monster of a man. Then he did it. And then he did it again in a rematch. Ali was “the man.” He talked a lot of smack, but he backed it up. Plus it was obvious that he was having fun, so much of what he said seemed to be playful kidding around [until you stepped into the ring with him]. Ali was as cool as The Beatles or Elvis. In fact, Ali was the greatest.


I can remember the controversy that sprung up when Muhammad refused to enter the draft. Although I was against the war in Viet Nam, I felt that it was wrong to not support your country. Still, I admired Ali for standing by his convictions no matter the cost. And cost him it did. He was stripped of the title and not allowed to fight during three of what could have been his most productive years.


When Ali was once again allowed to fight, I can remember staying up late to watch it with my dad. Ali was fighting a tough guy named Jerry Quarry. Ali won by TKO in the 3rd. I had just turned 12 and Ali was still the greatest.


Less than a year later Ali fought Joe Frazier in what was to be the first of three legendary fights. Although Muhammad lost the fight, the battle become the thing of legends. Ali continued to fight and win.


Two years later, Ali fought and lost a split decision to Ken Norton. I was surprised about the loss, but even more so when I learned that Ali fought most [if not all] of the fight with a broken jaw. Six months later Ali beat Norton in the rematch. I was 14 and Ali was still the greatest.


Ali fought again the following month for an easy win. and then two months after that beat Joe Frazier in their first rematch. Their battle was another classic that went the entire 15 rounds, but this time Ali came out on top. Nine months later Ali entered the ring to fight Big George Foreman. Foreman was undefeated and had knocked out Frasier early. Heck, Foreman knocked almost everyone out early. Ali wasn’t given much of a chance. Of course we all know that Ali KO’d George in the 15th. I stayed up late listening to the results over the radio. I had just turned 16 and Ali was still the greatest.


In March of 75, Ali fought Chuck Wepner. No one gave Wepner ANY chance of winning. Still “The Bayonne Bleeder” went the distance in a losing effort and actually knocked Ali off of his feet at one point in the fight [although many say that it was more of a trip]. This fight, of course, is what inspired Sylvester Stallone to come up with “Rocky.” Ali followed with wins against Ron Lyle [talk about a huge, tough, ex-con] and Joe Bugner. In October of 75, Ali and Frazier met for the 3rd and final time. Ali won. I was 16 and Ali was still the greatest.


Ali fought regularly defending his title, winning against name fighters like Jimmy Young, Ken Norton [again] and Ernie Shavers. The Shavers fight was especially exciting. It was September 29, 1977. I was 18 years old and watched the fight while in Orlando for one of my first comic book conventions. After the fight, I got together with a bunch of my friends and played some poker. Of course we talked about how Ali was still the greatest!


Ali’s next fight was against a kid who had done well in the 76 Olympics. His name was Leon Spinks. The fight was televised on regular tv and I can remember watching it and seeing that the kid was winning. Spinks won with an upset decision. Ali later said that the loss to Spinks hurt more than any other of his career. Seven months later, at the age of 36, Ali beat Leon Spinks. I was 19 years old and Ali was still the greatest.


Muhammad didn’t fight again for over two years. Larry Holmes, one of Ali’s former sparring partners was champ, and Ali came back for “one last chance” to see him “dance.” I was at the pay-per-view the night that Holmes beat Ali. It wasn’t pretty. Still Muhammad gave it his all. As he did again when he came back 14 months later to fight a losing battle against Trevor Berbick. I was 23 years old and although Muhammad had lost, I felt he was still the greatest.


As the years have passed, Muhammad Ali’s legend has grown. He earned the nickname, “The People’s Champ” thanks to his popularity with folks of all races, soci-economic backgrounds and religions. Ali’s fans weren’t limited by borders. During his career he fought in 12 different countries; and was considered a true citizen of the world. Ali is probably more popular now than he was when he was in his fighting prime.


Today Muhammad Ali is 65 and he’s still the greatest.

4 Hours Down 20 to Go

If you haven’t watched the first four hours of 24, you may want to skip this post since there will be spoilers. Just in case though I’ll “hide” them using invisotext. [If you want to know what’s said simply scroll over the areas where the text is hidden.]

24 is back and with a vengeance. The show has always been fast moving, but these first four hours of the new season have flown by! Terrorist attacks have been going on for weeks, we have a new president, the US government has worked out a deal for Jack’s release from a Chinese prison where he was badly tortured, the terrorist leader behind the attacks on our country has been identified and misidentified, a family has been held hostage, Jack has been brought back into the service Each season seems to kick up the stakes a bit… in past years we’ve had Air Force One knocked out of the sky, a past US President assassinated, poisonous gas released on an unsuspecting public… the list goes on and on. Still it’s going to be hard to top the nuclear bomb that was detonated in the final seconds of the last episode. Strange as it may sound, it really ticked me off more that Jack killed Curtis.

Books – Best of 2006

Last year I read a number of exceptionally well-written books. Of course there were old favorites such as Andrew Vachss, Barry Eisler, Robert Crais, David Morrell, Stephen Hunter and others. Surprisingly, the list this year is dominated by authors that I read for the first time. And when I say dominated I mean it! Literally all of the authors in this year’s top five made it on my first exposure to their work.

5. Already Dead by Charlie Huston. Modern day vampire clans are at war and Joe Pitt has a missing girl to find. Huston’s next Joe Pitt novel, No Dominion, is available now.

4. Persuader by Lee Child. I’m coming to this series late in the game, but that doesn’t make me like it any less. Child has a winner with his Jack Reacher novels. In this outing, Reacher is working undercover with the FBI to catch an international gun-runner.

3. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. A father and young son journey south through a bleak post-apocalyptic world. Food is scarce and only what they can scavenge. They must make the journey to escape the brutal winter that is almost upon them. If they don’t starve odds are one of the roaming bands of cannibals will find them. Still they press on.

2. World War Z by Max Brooks. A haunting book that Chad Hunt also recommends!

1. Stealing Home / Six Bad Things / A Dangerous Man by Charlie Huston. Yeah, he’s the same Charlie Huston that wrote Already Dead. In this trilogy we meet Hank Thompson. When we first meet Hank he’s ten years out of high school and working as a bartender in New York City. Had it not been for a badly broken leg, he would have been a big league baseball player. Now he’s the nice guy who drinks too much and lacks real ambition. That is until the night two strangers yank him over the bar and beat him nearly to death. When he gets out of the hospital he gets more visitors and another beating. Soon he’s on the run from crooked cops, mobsters and hit men. If he lives maybe he’ll get a piece of the millions of dollars that they believe he has. Six Bad Things and A Dangerous Man complete Hank’s story. I loved every page and wish that it didn’t have to end.

2006 – My Top 5 Movies

Last year I watched over 200 films and less than a dozen were seen in a theater. I used to go to the movies on a weekly basis, but I’ve found that as I’ve gotten older and dvds hit the market sooner, I will quite often wait to watch a movie in the comfort of my home. This has both advantages and disadvantages, but instead of discussing them, I thought we’d instead look at five of my favorite movies from last year.

Running Scared  has more twists and turns than a rollercoaster. The movie starts in the middle of a drug deal that suddenly goes bad. An insane shootout takes place and we’re off an running. Along the way we’re going to meet drug dealers, pimps, crooked cops, child molesters, Russian mobsters, and other upright citizens. The movie constantly maintains a forward momentum as Joey Gazelle [Paul Walker] first attempts to retrieve a stolen gun used in a mob killing and then finds himself on a mission to save a kid. The supporting cast is first rate and writer/director Wayne Kramer is a talent to keep an eye on. This movie is not for kids.
Running Scared  rates an A

4.  The Salton Sea  was actually released in 2002 but qualifies for my list since I saw it for the first time last year. Like Running Scared,   The Salton Sea  is full of crazy characters and plot twists abound. I hesitate to say anything about the movie, because the journey and discovery of who everyone is and what is going on is so much fun. Of course when I say “fun” I don’t mean as in comedy fun.  The Salton Sea  is not for kids. The people in the movie are the kind that you’d want to avoid in real life [drug dealers, thieves, crooked cops and killers] but adults who don’t mind gritty dramas won’t mind spending some reel life with them.
The Salton Sea  rates an A+

3.  A History of Violence  was first released in 2005, but again because I didn’t see it until 2006, qualifies for my “Best of” list. Here’s what I had to say after seeing it.
A History of Violence rates an A+.
2. I absolutely loved Casino Royale. In fact I saw it twice during it’s initial release and can’t wait to put the dvd in my movie collection. Tom Richmond, best known for his art, perfectly summarized my thoughts on Casino Royale so if you want to know what I thought about it, click HERE and see what Tom had to say. Casino Royale rates an A+

1. I’ve been a Stallone fan since before the original Rocky, but it was Rocky that sealed the deal and made me the Stallone mega-fan[atic] that I am today. When I heard that Rocky II  was going to be made, I can remember thinking, “there’s no way it can be as good.” I was right, but Rocky II  was a worthy continuation of the story. Rocky III  was even better, but still not on the level of the original. Then came Rocky IV  which was fun, and in turn was followed by Sly’s misstep with the character in Rocky V  and with each of these sequels we moved a bit farther from the original.

Rocky Balboa  is a return to the spirit, the feel, and the essence of Rocky.  Sly’s acting is some of his best work ever. The screenplay has the wit and charm of the original. Rocky Balboa was the perfect way to end the Rocky series.

Rocky Balboa rates an A+

Timberlake and Diaz Split

Bad news for for Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz…
Everyone knows by now that they have split up.
Almost everyone is speculating as to the reason
That after three years maybe someone came between them…
There is speculation that it was someone else but…
You would think that there would at least be some clues as to his identity!

FX or Bust

In just a little over two weeks I plan to attend the annual FX Convention in Orlando, Florida. This year the show looks to be the best ever due to the strong guest list that includes: Matt Wagner, Steve Niles, Michael Golden, Dan Brereton, Dave Johnson, Steve Niles, Whilce Portacio, Andy Smith, Phil Noto and many, many others.

The media guests include Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Ray Park, Adam Baldwin, Hayden Panettiere, and a bunch of others. I usually don’t get too excited with the movie/tv stars, but I have to admit that Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen would be pretty cool to meet.
The best part of the show for me will most likely be hanging out with friends I seldom get to see [John Higashi and James Howell to name two] and hopefully picking up a couple of new pieces for my Stallone art collection.
If you can make the show be sure and say, “hi.” I’ll be the guy in the Stallone t-shirt. [With the success of “Rocky Balboa” I may not be the only one though!]

Smokin’ Title Sequences

If the movie is near as cool as the title sequences, then “Smoking Aces” is going to be a fun ride. There’s no doubt that writer/director, Joe Carnahan can deliver the goods. Add in a cast that includes Jeremy Piven, Peter Berg, Andy Garcia, Alicia Keys, Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta and a bunch of others and I think that we’re in for a blast.

Oh, and just two more things: 1] Mauro Fiore [who did the same job on Sly Stallone‘s remake of “Get Carter”] is the director of photography and Clint [“The Fountain”] Mansell is once again the man behind the music.

World War Z

Over at his blog, my buddy Chad, was talking up what an awesome book War World Z is.

And it is.

I read it a few months ago and regularly think about how cool it was. Chad had the great idea to get the audio version of the book. After seeing how much Chad enjoyed listening to it [and this is AFTER reading it], I may have to do the same. [It would be to fun listen to on a long road trip at night!]

Well, my post can’t just be about how cool Chad’s post was, can it? I guess it could, but I always like to bring something to the table. So HERE is a link to the official World War Z site. It has a lot of fun things to check out. For instance, I had a 34% chance of surviving the zombie war. Ok, maybe THAT wasn’t the best example I could have used for a fun thing… but you get the idea.

Ok… you guys check out the World War Z site and I’ll get to work on scooping Chad‘s next post.

If It Weren’t For Bad Luck…

I always try to keep my ZONE pieces positive and I don’t want that to change. Generally things go really well for me… You can hear the “but” coming can’t you?

For the last couple of weeks my luck has been terrible. [Before I go on, let me make it clear that the problems that I’m going to mention are minor compared to what some folks go through daily. I’m not looking for pity, only to explain why my posts have been scarce.]
It all started a few days before Christmas. My computer died. I know for some of us, that’s worse than the death of a seldom-seen relative. Luckily I had backed up most things. Of course I lost a bunch of e-mails and the like, but not enough to wish harm to dear ole Uncle Sticky. The timing wasn’t the best [“Rocky Balboa” had just opened and I had another week to go on the official movie blog], but I knew that I’d be able to work things out.
We’d been planning a family trip for the day after Christmas and I was looking forward to Christmas Eve with my wife and kids, my mom, my brother’s family, my two sister’s and their families, my cousin… well, you get the picture. Christmas Eve was great, unfortunately before the night was out my youngest son was throwing up and had come down with a major stomach bug. We postponed opening Christmas presents since he was so sick. [You KNOW a kid is sick when he doesn’t feel liking opening gifts.]
We decided to put off our trip for a day to make sure that Chris felt well enough to travel. The next day I came down with it. I spent the day reliving Chris’ losing battle to avoid the bathroom. I was throwing up and facing other aspects of the bug. Obviously we’d have to put off the trip again.
The next day I was still feeling woozey and my oldest son came down with the bug as well. Thank God we have two bathrooms. At that point we knew we weren’t destined to go out of state and cancelled the trip.
After a few days of the entire family feeling healthy we decided that a short trip to St. Augustine [about 60 miles away] was in order. We all loaded up the car and headed off. We made it about two miles from the house when my car died! I pulled it over to the side of the road and contacted Triple A. One and a half hours later a tow truck arrived [my family had long since left with another family member] and it was off to the shop where I learned it was a problem with the fuel pump.
And my computer was still dead.
Still, there is usually a silver lining… the fuel pump was under warranty. We’ve all returned to good health. I’m writing this post from my NEW computer and Uncle Sticky is probably still alive and kicking.

Double Your Fun!

I’m a big fan of double features. Since the demise of drive-ins [yeah, I know, many of you are too young to have ever been to one], we just don’t get ’em anymore.

That’s about to change next April when Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez [roll those R’s Kelsey!] team up to bring us “Planet Terror” [zombies] and “Death Proof” [muscle car serial killer – not that he kills muscle cars, mind you].

Here’s the trailer.


Live Free and File Harder

I have enjoyed all of the “Die Hard” movies. While I totally agree that “Die Hard” was by far the best, that doesn’t take away my enjoyment of of “Die Hard 2: Die Harder” and “Die Hard with a Vengeance.”
So, yeah, I’m looking forward to “Live Free or Die Hard” [although it’s going to mess with my alphabetical filing of my DVDs if it makes the cut]. Unfortunately, the trailer doesn’t convince me that it will.