Hot Apollo

Toronto's Shiniest Rock-and-Roll Band

Feeling Fantastic

I just read the first actual Fantastic Four comic that Marvel's put out in ages. Apparently, it was released with consideration for an anniversary of their first appearance? Which made me think about the story I heard about Stan Lee's impetus to create the group.

He had this uncle or something who knew that Stan's comic business wasn't doing too well. Stan didn't think that he could keep going much longer. Mr Uncle-or-whatever comes and says "Hey, Stanley. Those DC dudes . . . " I'm probably paraphrasing. But.

"Those DC dudes are killing it with their Justice League mag. Whole team of heroes. That's what sells, m'boy. Making all the dusty dollar bills. Why don't you make one of those super teams?"

And he did. In a way. But the Justice League's popularity owed something to the prominence of the heroes that composed the team. It starred DC's greatest hits, who were already firmly established. By that point, some had been around for decades. Stan Lee's response, the Fantastic Four, were completely new. They weren't building on anything. But they still exploded. They basically built the foundation for the modern Marvel universe.

Today, people criticise DC for making a Justice League movie that hasn't earned its existence as Marvel's Avengers film did with years of solo movies for the team's major figures. It's the reverse situation. And the creation of the Fantastic Four belies those criticisms. It doesn't matter how you put the thing out there if what you put out there is good.

And that's an argument I won't take further around Justice League because my ability to objectively judge the quality of entertainment is firmly dubious. That's avowed.

But hey. I did like that movie.

Bonus Question!

Which Beatle would provide the best company for Ben Grimm?

My first instinct was George Harrison, but I think that Ringo's tastes would be more compatible with Ben's.

Last Week's Weirdness

Do you ever have one of those days where one of your guitarists is in Ireland and the other sprained his wrist on the day of your show, forcing you to play guitar onstage for the first time in ages instead of just singing and prancing around like a caffeinated rabbit? That was last week's show. And it turned out to be a pretty good one.

Also, the venue reminded me of some imagining of Miami in the 80s. The summer's evening sun helped with that. 


Bonus Question!

Best song about Miami?


I don't know if it's the best, but the first one I remember was Will Smith's. It was on some compilation album I had in third grade. 

An Untried Triad

I fought off the words that rose to my lips

Whenever I felt your embrace.

It felt strange to contain, but it spared all the pain

That the phrase would have brought to your face.

It's a sentence all know, but I kept it below,

For such things aren't accepted in haste.

It's the truth I believe, but it's not one received

Without risk of creating a waste.

I disguised it in song where it wouldn't go wrong.

It belonged far away from your eyes.

But all that's in the rear, and now there's no fear

To be clear where it wouldn't be wise.

The feeling's too vast to forget when it's passed,

But it's not to be said when it's new.

As the last bell has tolled for the memory I hold,

I can finally say it to you.

Third Eye Anxiety

You know that origin story about Ganesha's elephant head? Little guy was a pretty normal little god baby, and Parvati was a proud mother. But Daddy Shiva was standing there, and he didn't know how to be a parent at all. Dude was a volatile force of cosmic artistry. What did he know about raising babes? Speaking as someone who isn't a father, I can relate.

He was just standing there and looking at his newborn son, getting more stressed by the moment. That stress built up and reflexively shot forth in a gout of flame from Shiva's third eye, blowing Ganesha's human head off. At Parvati's understandable panic, Shiv got flustered and found the nearest animal head to fix his son's accidental decapitation. Ganesh grew into it.

But anyway. That's basically how that kind of obsessive anxiety thing I do sometimes feels when it manifests. Apart from the elephant part. I'm focusing on a thing. The thing and the type of attention don't even matter. Maybe I'm just looking at my hair. Then that third eye opens up, envisions a problem that might not even have a trace of actual existence, and blows it right up into a catastrophe.

Sometimes dancing helps. Maybe that's why Shiva took it up.


Bonus Question!

Shiva's known as the destroyer and the transformer. What are your favourite things to destroy and transform into?

Myself in both cases.


Jeffrassic Goldpark

I'm watching the new Jurassic movie, and this is the main thing I'm realising. If Disney buys Fox and decides to make a live action Simpsons movie because they can, Chris Pratt is a total lock to play Snake.

Cast the rest as you will. That's always fun.

Also, when I was watching the previous one, I kept waiting for Jeff Goldblum to show up. And now he does. Very yay.

I remember getting even more annoyed at his absence in the third movie when Bland Cowboy Hat Scientist actually said that they should've brought Ian Malcolm instead because they were on the island he knew.

He could have been in this one more, but at least he got to deliver the title drop.

Bonus Question!

Ian Malcolm versus Tony Stark! Rock star mathematician versus rock star industrialist! Who's better in a senate hearing?

Goldblum stayed on message more. That gives him the win. Probably?

Both wear leather jackets pretty well though.


Rainy Day Hotel

 "Hotel Artemis" was the madcap cartoon cyberpunk adventure I hadn't even considered. I can respect "Blade Runner", but I never got into it, and the genre doesn't have a direct route to my heart. I can appreciate its aesthetics, and I'll enjoy a good story that utilises its trappings, but it's not a draw by itself. But Jeff Goldblum is. And there was a bit of a lull in attractive releases for me outside of opening weekend blockbusters that can wait.

So! This! And it was even a suitably rainy day. And Charlie Day! That was a pleasant surprise. For a moment, his character looked like Danny McBride, which would have been a pleasant surprise too.

Bonus Question!

Charlie Day versus rainy day!

Charles's boundless enthusiasm cannot be dowsed.

Global Village Messtival

This June marked my band's third performance at the annual Global Village Festival at Mel Lastman Square, and in the hour before it, I was wondering if it would be the first one to go poorly. Right as Peter, the lead guitarist, was arriving at my door to ride up with me for early setup, I get a message from my former bassist, who was supposed to make this his last show with us. Because he didn't give himself enough time to account for the construction by his house, he doesn't think that he'll be able to make it to the festival by our planned arrival time. He doesn't even think that an attempt to get there by our stage time would be worth it. Earlier in the week, I'd told his replacement not to bother coming because this guy would be there. But then  he wasn't. I texted the replacement but got no response. I bring the bass anyway. Maybe our drummer can play it? I could drum and sing . . . It's less of a show when I'm in the back though. Then it starts to rain as we're journeying up.

As we approach the festival grounds, I get a response from the replacement: "I'll be there." Not even saying that he'll try. This is around a half hour before we're meant to start, and this guy is making a promise. He even has time to shower before he runs over from the subway station. In that time, the rain abates, and we have the best time we've ever had at this event.

Against the odds because we're gods.


Bonus Question!

Best bassist?

The new one!

Jord Sinatrason


I was just shown this video of Jordan Peterson by an acquaintance who has a fair taste for ridiculing the dude. I can understand that, but I'm struck by the clothing choice here.

Is that outfit supposed to be his interpretation of classic 50s business father? Because it looks more like some peacock pickup artist's Saturday attire borne out of a distorted Sinatra inspiration. It doesn't really seem on brand for Peterson, but it's fitting enough for the whole Peterson cult to look like the type of idol they'd build in a shrine to him. You know. After he's dead and open to the warping influence of future generations' interpretations. Like the Peterson equivalent of Hollywood Surfer Jesus.


Bonus Question!

Best surfing messiah?


Norrin Radd. 



Feeling The Beets

I've been watching "Doug" for the last bunch of weeks. I never really watched it in childhood, but it's basically my current  breakfast cartoon. From the start, I was liking the music of the fictional band that plays a side role in the show. I can get quite fixated on fictional music. It really does tend to be pretty good. As I'm writing this, I'm wondering if it's in part because the writers generally only have to make a few songs instead of composing albums at a time? Easier to be consistent in low amounts? And there's also there's also the idea that the songs can  often be distillations of a style instead of examples of it. Devo even said that Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" was the best Devo song, and I adored that tune before I'd even heard of Devo. That's not exactly the same thing, but it does do a bit to reinforce my thinking here.

Anyway, the band in "Doug" is The Beets, and they basically seem like what The Beatles would be if they were of the early 90s instead of the 60s. I was vaguely aware of some music videos that had been produced for some of their songs, but I didn't even look for their music on iTunes. I didn't want to be disappointed again by being unable to find the ability to easily add obscure musical ephemera to my library. But something prompted me to search for them on there for the first time yesterday. For their main song at least. And I found it! And others! And now my phone's singing them along to what my mind probably would have sung anyway.

Good stuff.

Also. Does the cast remind anyone else of the Archie gang? Doug's the leading everyman, Skeeter's the eccentric best friend with the weird name like Jughead, and Roger's the annoying Reggie analogue with his dark jacket bully style. He even has a similar name, and he came into a similar level of wealth too.

Mr. Bone and Weatherbee would probably get along fairly well too, though their similarities end with their managerial methods.


Bonus Question!

Best fictional song?

Many good ones! But I've really been listening to a lot of Austin Powers's BBC song in recent months.


What If Batteries But Too Much?


I just had a "Black Mirror" dream, and I've never even seen "Black Mirror". But it legitimately shook me when I woke up.

I got back later than I should have from a movie. In the dream. All of my electronic devices seemed to be unable to turn on. Upon inspection, their batteries had been removed. Somehow, this even included what appeared to be my iPhone's power cells. I went upstairs to see my mother and brother dozing in the kitchen, chewing on the pilfered batteries in the throes of addiction.


This probably isn't actually scary, but it unsettled me primarily because I can't really imagine my mother in such a state. Replace those batteries with heroin or anything else. Seeing her enthralled like that would mean that something had gone fundamentally wrong in the workings of the universe.


But actually, this is probably closer to a version of "Black Mirror" from the Eighties. At the latest. What era wrung its hands with warnings about the perilously alluring dangers of alternating current?


Bonus Question!


Actually, I'm pretty sure that Edison really did try to discredit Tesla by scaring people into the belief that alternating current was inherently destructive. I don't have definite details, but I think that elephant death was prominently involved.

Tinder Tool

Tinder, right? I gave that a try. Shortly after I did, I got matched with someone who immediately messaged me to ask if I was the one who sang that Tool cover at a specific downtown bar eight years ago. That was around the time of the first show I played there, but I don't do covers, and I doubt that I like Tool. I told her that, and then she enthusiastically realised that she did in fact recognise me from one of the shows I'd played more recently at a different downtown bar. She followed that up with a statement of apathy about my band's sound. That doesn't happen very often, but I told her that I appreciated her honesty, saying that distaste for my art didn't preclude getting to know each other on a personal level. It feels like the mature thing to do, doesn't it? Then when I looked back, we were unmatched. First actual experience of being unmatched. But honestly, I feel worse about the idea that she thought that I was the type of guy who'd sing a Tool song.


Bonus Question!

Best tool song? 

Queen's "Hammer to Fall". 



I still remember this one X-Force comic my brother had from the 90s. I couldn't see anyone on the cover who looked that good to me. Part of that was the rough, hypertrophic art style. Part of it was the grotesque sin against style in the form of Shatterstar's facial buttress. It's as though he looked at Gambit and thought "Hey! That guy's pretty cool. I should take the basic outline of his head gear and give it the colour and puffiness of a marshmallow!"

But then I came across him much later in Peter David's noirish detective version of X-Factor, and Shat was rocking a kind of Annie Lennox look. That helped to endear him to me.

Seeing him in "Deadpool 2" was the reverse of that.

Bonus Question!

Best Annie Lennox look in comics?

Neil Gaiman's Desire is probably the classic choice, but I'm in a mood to favour Rachel Grey from 80s Excalibur.


Disco Dance Shatner Battle

I had a disco dream. It was one of those battling ones. An intense dance competition. The stuff of legends. Or movies from the 80s at least. Also, much of the supposed dancing seemed to involve knee slides across floors with the frictional level of ice. But that probably just made it more intense. And my opponent was a 70s version of William Shatner that never existed. Like . . . He had the hirsuteness of David Hasselhoff in his prime. He was slightly burlier, for this was Shat was  somewhat beyond the baby face mode of the Kirk years, but the man could still move. In a way that the actual William probably never could? This man was fictional to a high degree. He seemed like a good fellow, though. We had some laughs after I won. Close game.

Bonus Question!

Any version of Shatner versus any version of Hasselhoff in a disco dance battle?

Probably Hoff.

On a Rampage!

The movie "Rampage" didn't cleave too closely to the game that inspired it, though it still managed to serve slightly better as an adaptation of that than it did as a music video to Strong Bad and Coach Z's hit song of the same name. But that's another thing I'd like to see.

I did like the change to white fur for George, though. The brown gorilla of the games often seemed rather dull beside the giant werewolf and the lady lizard monster. And this movie gave that lizard frills, which is a look I've loved on reptiles since I first saw that dinosaur spit poison in Newman's face in "Jurassic Park". I even had some sort of companion book in which that choice was explained. Basically, it was just for the aesthetics. And that's a classic reason to add frills to anything.

I do think that Jeffrey Dean Morgan would have served better as the wolf, though. Dude's wasted in a suit, though that accent he affected was delightful anyway.

Oh. But the indistinct military radio voices were right on point with the source material. Points for that.

And this film gave me a mildly preferable taste of what "San Andreas" probably was, which was a Dwayne Johnson movie I eventually decided to skip. Though I probably see a fair amount of disasters in the cinema, I don't really like stories that are just about disasters. "Rampage" at least  had added monsters.

So yeah. It's whatever. A whimsical game about humans that got chemically mutated into big animals was adapted into a slightly mundane disaster movie about big animals that got chemically mutated into bigger animals. But still. Imagine Gorilla Dwayne Johnson and Werewolf Dean Morgan. I'm still up for that.

Bonus Question!

Best line?

Mr Rock answers the giant gorilla's growled question with "That's right. Let's kick some ass."

That would have been my definite answer, but the line that came from his mouth right after was "Of course the wolf flies." So . .  . You decide.


Finally Ready

I watched "Ready Player One" on the weekend. I think that it's the second thing I've seen Tye Sheridan in after "X-Men: Apocalypse", and it continues the trend of giving him a fixation on an awkward but headstrong girl with red hair and putting the dude in a visor. Apparently, some faces are just made for visors? I don't know. Maybe mine is made for eyeliner. I haven't had a day of bare lids in years.

So yeah. In a movie that was apparently going to drown the audience in explicit references to popular culture from the 80s, I was mainly thinking about its unintentional resonance with X-Men. But then I'm often thinking about X-Men.

Bonus Question!

Tye Sheridan versus a Sheraton Hotel!

Though he checked in slightly late, he still managed to get a decent sleep and wake up in time to get in most of an hour with the complimentary breakfast buffet.


Check out that visor face. 

Infinity War Thoughts (Probably Without Big Spoilers on the Main)

Most Marvel movies feel like trade paperbacks. "Infinty War" felt like the first volume of an omnibus.

When "Iron Man" came out in theatres a decade ago, I went back to watch the credit scene I'd missed in my first viewing because I wasn't sure if I'd get another chance to see Sam Jackson play the version of  Nick Fury that was based on him in the Ultimate Marvel comics I'd read. And  now . . . 

Does Thor always seem to get the worst side quests in these movies? In "Age of Ultron", he had to go on some meditative vision quest, and in this he spends a chunk of time on fixing a smithy. I'm reminded of the Knuckles segments of "Sonic Adventure" where you'd have to take a break from romping around the world with the blue hedgehog to play a sluggish hot-cold game in a hunt for Chaos Emeralds. For all the atrocities Thanos committed to find his own magic gems, at least he didn't have to do that.

Still, the thing that seemed to bother him most was what he did for the Soul Stone. What the dude really needed was a soul patch. Something to take some of the attention away from that chin.

Bonus Question!

Hawkeye versus Ant-Man! Battle of the absentee Avengers! Who are also the only two fathers!

Ant-Man probably wins in anything  but familial stability.

Perspective Narratives

I tend to view reality through a narrative lens. Sometimes life feels like a movie. Sometimes it's closer to a myth or  a novel. It differs. Life's capricious. Or I am.

But if I had to choose one medium to represent my life, I'd probably go with a superhero comic. For one thing, they excel at being outrageously bombastic without budgetary concerns. Also, they tend to dwell in an eternal second act, which is how life can feel. The end isn't in sight. I've had my origin. I'm a definitive version of myself. I can develop, but I won't ever be developed. I'm just continuing on in my dramatic way. Individual story arcs can get wrapped up, and victories will be had, but there doesn't seem to be an ultimate resolution.


Bonus Question!

Best lens?


Because I usually just wear sunglasses when I want to keep weather out of my eyes, I have very light lenses, but they have a ruby kind of tint to make them gorgeous.

Temporal Wrinkles

The first thing to strike me about "A Wrinkle in Time" when I read it in fifth grade was the majestic winged centaur on the cover. After much anticipation, that marvelous image turned out to be naught but a momentary transformation of Whatsit. But I was already enjoying the book by that point.

The film didn't even show that brief appearance of the centaur, but it compensated by throwing full effort into Oprah's makeup. All the glitter. Maximum sparkle. And if I'm honest, that's at least as meaningful to me as a winged centaur at this point in my life.

Bonus Question!

Best centaur?



Warping Back to Thornberry Time

I've been watching "The Wild Thornberrys" recently, which was one of the classic Nickelodeon shows I didn't see when it was current. It's about this eccentric nature documentarian voiced by Tim Curry and his family, including an adopted feral child and a daughter who can talk to animals. Her pet is a monkey named Darwin, who's an effete English gentleman by nature. I watched 30 episodes before I realised that the rest of the family doesn't know that the girl, Eliza, can talk to animals. On some level, I also thought that Darwin was the one animal everyone understood for some reason. But no. Completely wrong. This whole deal was only revealed to me because of an episode in which Eliza's sister almost discovers her secret. But hey. Things could change. Maybe the movie'll shake things up. I'll find out. But now I'm prepared.


Bonus Question!


What kind of berries does Chaucer like to eat?



Watchability on Both Sides of the Pond

  My main draw for seeing "Sherlock Gnomes" was James McAvoy. Dude is eminently watchable. And I'd made the mistake of skipping "Gnomeo and Juliet" during its theatrical run. But I knew nothing else. Then I got in and discovered that Johnny Depp was Sherlock. My whimsy's now doubly justified. In terms of watchability, he's right up there with McAvoy. Just less British. Although maybe he's trying to be that too.

Also, the soundtrack seemed to be  built around Elton John. That's usually a good portent for animated movies. Just ask "The Lion King". Oh, wait. You can't. Because it's too untouchably successful and awesome to hear you. You should probably just see "Sherlock Gnomes" and find out for yourself.


Bonus Question!

Hobbits versus gnomes!

Baggins > gnomes > non-Baggins hobbits


Gnome boy. 

Copyright © 2011, Jaymes Buckman and David Aaron Cohen. All rights reserved. In a good way.