Author: Craig Zablo

A Second Chance at Stardom

I first discovered Mickey Rourke in Body Heat. Rourke was this skinny little guy who absolutely stole every scene he was in… and although there weren’t that many, Rourke made an impact. He was an actor to watch.

Mickey Rourke appeared in a few other films [getting excellent reviews] before I saw him again. This time the film was Rumble Fish. Rourke was again impressive as the ultra cool Motorcycle Boy.

The next few years saw him in Year of the Dragon, [playing an older cop fighting Chinese gangs], the controversial Nine 1/2 Weeks, and the even more controversial Angel Heart. Rourke was starring in big movies and earning rave reviews. Barfly with Frank Stallone was another well received role.

But then things seemed to go downhill… Johnny Handsome directed by Walter Hill didn’t really work… and neither did Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, Wild Orchid or White Sands. Rourke‘s personal life seemed to be out of control as well. Reports of drug and alcohol abuse as well as abuse of his love, Carrie Otis began to make more headlines than his movies.

And almost as quickly as Rourke‘s star had risen, it sank. Sure, he still worked, but usually in straight to video features. Most people counted Rourke out. He’d had his shot and blew it.

Then in 2000, Rourke co-starred in Get Carter with Sly Stallone. Sly wanted Rourke for the role and Rourke brought his “A” game. The following year, Sean Penn was directing The Pledge and he had a role for his friend Mickey, who again turned in an excellent job. Reports began to come out that Rourke had given up his bad boy ways. High profile parts in both Once Upon A Time in Mexico and Man on Fire paved the way for his starring role in Sin City.

Man, Rourke was perfect for the part of Marv. Fans and critics alike sat up and took notice. He received some of the best reviews of his career. Suddenly Rourke began to get better scripts and the opportunity to work with A list actors and directors again. Rourke was back and getting a second chance at stardom.

And if you read THIS INTERVIEW you’ll see that he knows how fortunate he is.

It’s Rated for Me, By George

Next week marks the release of the latest [and possibly last] zombie film by George Romero.

Land of the Dead lived up to my expectations as a fun zombie movie and I look forward to adding it to my dvd collection.

But of course things are never simple.

You see, Land of the Dead is being released in two versions… rated and unrated.

I was leaning toward the rated version since it was the film that I saw at the theater. Still… the idea of more bang for the buck was appealing. Then I read THIS INTERVIEW with George Romero where he comments on the unrated version:

I think it’s only about five minutes longer. I don’t remember exactly. But half of that is made up by a scene that I didn’t think worked as well as it might have.

So my mind is now made up. It’s the rated version for me. Why go for a few minutes more gore and a scene that Romero cut because it didn’t work?

Time to Close Your Eyes

This past weekend my wife, youngest son and I headed up to Tallahassee for Parents’ Weekend. We were able to spend some quality time with my oldest son. We saw the FSU circus, played some poker [for paperclips], hung out with friends, and attended the Florida State / Wake Forest game.

But that’s not what this post is about.

What it IS about is what happened before the game.

And what happened is this: after the National Anthem was sung a B-1B Lancer did a fly-over. This isn’t the first time that I’ve been at an event where a plane did a flyover. It’s always a cool experience. Sometimes you hear the plane first, then look up to see it zooming overhead, and at other times you see it growing larger and then it’s gone with the sound trailing behind.

That’s not what happened this time.

We were seated about 3/4 of the way up on an end zone side. Everyone knew that the plane was going to fly over and so as the National Anthem ended, all eyes were searching the skies for the plane.

Suddenly it was there. It just seemed to appear. It looked huge! The crazy thing was that it seemed to be REAL LOW. I mean REALLY LOW. And it seemed to be moving WAY TOO SLOW.

Too low and too slow is NOT a good combination for a jet.

I looked over at my wife and said, “That plane looks awfully low.” I looked back and the plane was still heading our way. My mind flashed on about a dozen thoughts: “The twin towersa terrorist act a problem with the planea problem with the pilot…” The plane was still heading our way. How could such a huge plane be going so slow?

And then the thought hit me… “If there’s really a problem with the plane, there’s nothing that we can do.” We couldn’t run. Or get out of the way. Or hide. We wouldn’t have time to do anything other than close or eyes in the last seconds before impact.

As these thoughts went through my head, the plane passed over us and the rest of the folks above us in the stadium. Then the thunderous roar of the engines hit us and most people covered their ears. When the sound died down, you could hear a lot of people commenting on how low the plane was and how cool the flyover was.

And it was.

But I just couldn’t shake the thought of what it must have felt like to have been in the twin towers and see the planes coming.

The Ultimate Fighter

Are any of you ZONErs, watching The Ultimate Fighter?

I do and am hooked. Just to bring you up to speed in case you don’t watch. The Ultimate Fighter18 fighters who are split up into two teams. Each week the teams compete in a compitition to determine which team chooses the two who will fight. The loser leaves the house. [which is in its second season] brings together

It’s like The Contender on steroids.

The guys who compete in Ultimate Fighting are real life tough guys. They usually have a strong background in wrestling, boxing and the martial arts. Many are experts in more than one discipline. And…

They. Love. To. Fight.

I’m not talking about sparing. Or working out. Or where you knock a guy down and then back up until he’s on his feet. I’m talking about fighting… you know, FIGHTING!

This sport isn’t for everyone. It’s not even a sport that everyone can watch, let alone compete in.

Still, I have to admit, I tune in each week.

OJ – Horror Show, Indeed

Ten years ago OJ Simpson was found not guilty of the murders of Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ron Goldman. The evidence against Simpson was overwhelming. Fortunately for Simpson, his legal team, especially Johnnie Cochran, was able to sway the jury to not only discount the evidence, but it many instances to ignore it completely.

The trial lasted a year and had more drama and startling turns than a soap opera. In the end Simpson was found innocent. This article from the associated press describes the fallout from the verdict:

On Oct. 3, 1995, an estimated 150 million people paused before the nearest TV to witness the outcome. The nation gasped — whether in satisfaction or outrage — as Simpson was pronounced not guilty of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. The trial and verdict divided the country then, and the more profound divisions it exposed remain today.

Next Tuesday at 9pm, PBS will revisit the case in the special “Frontline: The O.J. Verdict.” Featuring extensive interviews with the defense, prosecution and journalists, the special will explore the verdict and the wide difference in reaction to it which fell along racial lines.

Oddly enough, this weekend, Simpson will make a rare public appearance signing autographs [for cash] at,of all places, a horror convention! Talk about bad taste.

The fact that this weekend marks the tenth anniversary of the “not guilty” verdict, and Simpson has chosen to be a special guest along with movie murderers, monsters and zombies shows a real lack of compassion and common sense on Simpson‘s part.

There is NO WAY that one could justify Simpson’s appearance at this show as a sports star. Nope, the draw here is certainly because of his link to the murders of Nicole and Ron. And if you doubt that, then why is Simpson’s friend, A.C. Cowlings [who is more famous for the slow speed Bronco chase than his professional sports career] making a joint appearance with Simpson on Sunday?

OJ SImpson was found not guilty of the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. Ten years later people are still arguing the validity of that decision. I doubt that there are many though who would argue that Simpson’s appearance at the horror convention is in good taste.

Batman and the Monster Men

While we’re on the topic of comics to watch for this November, you may want to consider Batman and the Monster Men. It’s a six issue series written, pencilled and inked by Matt Wagner.

Batman and the Monster Men takes place in Batman‘s second year. His first year was spent fighting crime… but is he prepared to face “the new menace facing Gotham: super-powered villains?”

For more info on the series, click HERE or HERE. Then be sure and let your local comic shop know that you’ll want a copy!

Going Down in November

Five years ago, a narcotics cop was sent undercover, down into the criminal structure of the city. Henever came back. He went native. Five years later, he’s running the city’s prime drugs gang.

Today, a second cop – a woman in the midst of career flameout, having shot down the entirety of the main mob’s only rival gang – is sent undercover, with orders to pull the first one out. In a bodybag if necessary. “

If this sounds like your cup of tea — bitter with no sugar — then plan on checking out Down 1 in November. It’s the first of a four issue mini-series written by Warren Ellis. The art for issue one is by Tony Harris [who provides all 4 covers]. Cully Hamner provides art for issues 2-4.

And be advised, this comic ain’t for kids.

A New Menace in Mackey’s Life

The Shield is so good that waiting for new episodes to start up is like waiting for Christmas to come when you’re a kid. Actually since The Shield doesn’t start up until January, it’s actually worse than waiting for Christmas!

The great news is that Forest Whitaker is joining the cast as “a new menace in Vic Mackey‘s life.” Whitaker will play an ambitious Internal Affairs agent “who is tasked with investigating rogue cop Mackey.”

Oh man, this should be good. Now if only January would get here.

Getting a Crowd to Prey Alone

While surfing the net, I came across the short film Prey Alone. Shot entirely on a green screen a la Sin City, it features no name actors or directors, but is as good as most of what you’ll find in your local multiplex.

Stephen St Leger and James Mather teamed to write and direct Prey Alone. Amazingly, it took only 4 days to shoot the actors’ scenes and just 3 months in post-production.

So what are you waiting for? Click HERE to see it yourself… and let me know when you figured out the twist.

The Steranko Time Machine

I can remember the first Jim Steranko comic book that I ever read. It was Nick Fury #1. I was 9 years old. I’d been reading comics for years… Batman, Superman, Spider-Man… but Nick Fury [as written and drawn by Jim Steranko] was like a movie come to life [even though it was on the printed page].

As I become older, I always kept my eye out for comics by Steranko. They were few and far between [and sometimes only covers], but boy, were they worth it. The man is a legend despite the fact that his primary work in comics was less than ten years and consisted of approximately 30 stories.

Years later I attended my first comic book convention. My goal was to buy Steranko‘s run on Nick Fury in mint condition. Not only was I able to score the set [and at a good price], but I ended up becoming friends with the dealer, Mike Kott. I was surprised to learn that Steranko had branched out into publishing. At the same show I picked up my first issue of his publication, Mediascene [which featured an interview with Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy].

Steranko had moved away from comics, instead he spent his time concentrating on painting [he did a series of covers for The Shadow paperbacks reprints] and publishing [Mediascene which later became Prevue]. When Steranko offered some of his Shadow “pencil paintings” for sale in the early 80’s, I splurged and bought one. I was newly married, in college and the $225 bucks it cost seemed like a fortune. Steranko was nice enough to send along an autographed copy of his book Unseen Shadows.

If you’re a Steranko fan, then you know what an interesting life he’s led. In addition to being a comic book artist, a publisher, a painter, a professional magician / escape artist [in his youth he traveled with carnivals and circuses], a musician and more. If you’re just discovering Steranko, then you’re in for a treat!

Steranko is still a huge draw at conventions around the country. Last year he was a special guest at FX 2005. [In fact it was his cover for the program book that inspired this post.] I was unable to attend the FX show, but even if I had, there would have been no chance of a Steranko piece for my Stallone Gallery. Steranko doesn’t sketch at shows and seldom does commissions… and those that he does do cost thousands!

Every so often I love to pull out my Chandler graphic novel, or the three issues of Captain America that he did… but my favorite is still his run on Nick Fury. Over 35 years later, I still get the same rush as that 9 year old seeing it for the first time.

A Blog By Any Other Name

My buddy, John Beatty has started up a new blog where he posts his art and thoughts on just about everything. The thing is that in the last three days he’s changed the blog’s name three times! The blog was first called, appropriately enough, Read Me First. Then it became XXL Artist… and now it’s Big Beatty’s Blog O’Rama.

It was kind of funny as we discussed possible names for the blog. Beatty liked the name Art Whore, but [fortunately] that was taken. BBB [Big Beatty’s Blog] was considered. So was Diary of a Fat Man: The Road to Less [a GREAT name for a blog about weight loss, but Beatty’s new blog isn’t, so the title was rejected].

Beatty also rejected some of my suggestions such as: Beatty Watches EthanSo You’re Bored Too? A New Name ComingAre You Looking At Me?… and settled on Big Beatty’s Blog O’Rama [a nod to his nickname and first web site].

My guess is that Big John has at least ONE more name change coming, so I saved the best suggestion for now. Since Beatty‘s blog is about nearly everything he could call it Beatty On Nearly Everything… BONE!

Uh… on second thought maybe that isn’t such a great name for his blog.

I’ll bet ZONERs can help come up with good names should the big guy decide a new one is needed!

Welcome to the Party!

Way back on November 16, 2003, I posted an item about the first issue of a comic that I’d read and fell in love with. That comic, The Walking Dead, was one of the freshest comics that I’d read in years. It instantly made my “pull list.”

A few days later, I posted that the first issue was quickly selling out along with a link to an interview with Robert Kirkman. In February of 2004, The Walking Dead was already my favorite monthly comic!

In April of 2004, I reported that Tony Moore, the regular artist on The Walking Dead had decided to leave and that Charlie Adlard would be taking over with issue 6. The quality of The Walking Dead didn’t miss a beat.

With the recent success of comic books turned into movies, Jeb Whitlock of suggests that The Walking Dead get the chance.

All I can say is, “Welcome to the party, Jeb!”

Close to a Perfect Moment

I used to buy stuff fairly regularly off of e-Bay. Usually the items that I won were either hardback novels or items for my Stallone collection. In the last year or so, it’s been pretty rare for me to find ANY THING that I really want.

That changed last week when I saw a belt buckle that Sylvester Stallone had commissioned for folks who worked on his movie “Paradise Alley.” It was pretty cool in that it featured the title of the movie, the lead characters and the year the movie took place on the front. The back had the quote, “Never perfect people, only perfect moments” and was signed “Sly.” Yeah, the buckle would make a nice addition to the collection.

No one had bid on the buckle. I decided to watch the auction. Days went by with no bids. Winning the buckle for the opening bid of less than ten bucks was becoming a REAL possibility. The auction was set to close yesterday and I wasn’t going to be able to be home. Only one thing to do… call in Beatty. Big J and I agreed that a bid of $20 would probably win it.

Big John was set to place a bid for me right as the auction was closing. At 4:59:45 another bidder dropped in with a bid of $23.98. Beatty knew that I wanted the buckle and so at 4:59:57 he popped in a bid of $25.67.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

We had the high bid…for 20 seconds, then with just 7 seconds left in the auction the first bidder came back with a bid of $26.67 to win.

Oh well… I still may be able to find some hardbacks