The RROY REPORT Holiday Gift Guide 2015

Another year, another RROY REPORT Holiday Gift Guide. Get your Visa and MasterCard warmed up, operators are standing by.


Matt Fraction and David Aja’s award-winning hawkeye comic came to an end this year, so those of you who have been trade-waiting are in luck. The 22-issue series is available in a variety of formats.

Hawkeye Vol. 2

Hawkeye Vol. 2

For the cheap skate, the run is available in 4 paperback volumes: 1) My Life as a Weapon; 2) Little Hits; 3) L.A. Woman; 4) Rio Bravo. The paperbacks usually cover 6-7 issues each.

Your second option is two hardcover volumes: Vol. 1 covers the first 11 issues while Vol. 2 wraps things up. Vol. 2 goes on sale Dec. 22. which is going to make it hard to give for Christmas, but it would be worth waiting for if you have to get it later.

For the completest, the Hawkeye Omnibus collects the entire run in one hardcover. Normally, I don’t approve of Omnibuses (Omnibii?) because they’re too big and unwieldy and would break your lap if you sat down to read one. A 22-issue omnibus probably wouldn’t be that hard to handle.

51hpM3ZLYaL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic’s Thor: God of Thunder is, in my opinion, the best run of Thor comics ever set to print (sorry, Simonson fans). It’s available in two hardcover editions and three paperbacks: 1) The God Butcher; 2) God Bomb; and 4) The Last Days of Midgard. Volume 3 (The Accursed) doesn’t feature Ribic’s art which is a letdown but it’s still a decent story.

Aaron’s story covers the scope of Thor’s life — as a reckless youth hanging out with the vikings; the modern-day; and the far future where Thor is ruler of an Asgard in ruins. Good stuff, and Ribic’s art is worthy of a god. 

11393239_10204413656169007_541491465855502009_nFor those who like books without pretty pictures (I’ve heard there are people like that out there. Weirdos) I guess I’ll give one more plug to my friend Susan Sagarra’s debut novel, Cracks in the Cobblestone.

It’s a mystery story in a familiar setting (if you’re familiar with St. Charles) with a supernatural element and a connection to the Titanic that I never figured out.

It’s a cracking good yarn, as they say, and no, I don’t get a commission. But I should.


unnamedIt turns out that most of my go-to musicians all put out albums last year so this year we have to turn to something different. The only new stuff I can recommend is the stuff I talked about back in April: Lost on the River by the New Basement Tapes and Tomorrow Is My Turn by Rhiannon Giddens.

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 12.44.46 PMThe first is a collection of tunes based on unfinished songs that Bob Dylan wrote during the Basement Tapes era. Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford (Mumford and Sons), Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Taylor Goldsmith (D
awes) and Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops) were brought together by record producer extraordinaire T. Bone Burnett and given the task of turning Dylan’s snippets into fully formed songs. The results are impressive. Gidden’s solo album is another fine collection of tunes that encompass a variety of styles.


avengers-age-of-ultron-alternateOnce again, Marvel Studios delivers the goods. Avengers: Age of Ultron is the densely plotted, action-packed sequel to the greatest superhero movie of all time. I enjoyed it as much as the original but I can understand why others didn’t. Joss Whedon probably stuffed in too much material for the movie’s own good, but he handled it pretty well. It’s certainly a movie that benefits from repeated viewing, which is the whole point of owning it.

 The surprise success of Ant-Man is well deserved and somewhat amazing given the film’s long, convoluted path to the multiplex. And think of what an awesome Christmas Day double-feature that would make.


10363432_hiGood news for those of you not lucky enough to have a wife who bought you the Hawkeye hoodie two years ago. There is a new Hawkeye hoodie based on his Avengers: Age of Ultron makeover.

It’s more red rather than the traditional purple and best of all it has the Avengers logo instead of the S.H.I.E.L.D. one.  Most people I run into don’t recognize the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo — they think it’s some sports team.

I believe this one also has the removable sleeves which is a nice feature, I suppose. I’ve never taken the sleeves off mine. Why would you wear a hoodie with no sleeves?

hawkeye-mighty-fine-logo-knitted-sweaterAnother neat item I discovered while surfing the internet was this sharp looking Hawkeye sweater at the site. I don’t wear sweaters like I used to but I’d make an exception for this. I bet it would keep you warm. And of course most people wouldn’t even get that it’s a nerd shirt.

Uh oh, this is listed as “almost sold out” at the website, so you’d better act quickly before it’s gone.

And now for something completely different

Roy —

I’ve been reading your gift guides for 17 years now and they’re pointless! It’s all superheroes and the same bands over and over! And your Hawkeye obsession is frankly disturbing. Anyway, you never suggest gifts for real people. It’s all nerd stuff. How about recommending something a real man would want?

Fair point, Darren. Here’s a handful of items sure to please non-nerds and possibly nerds as well.

DR600PWRThe Duracell Powerpack 600 Pro pretty much does it all. It will start your dead car battery. It will inflate your flat tire. It will inflate balls, air mattresses and other inflatables. It will charge up your cellphones, laptops and tablets. It’s rechargeable battery can power up many electronic devices and small appliances. Did I mention it can pretty much do it all?

t700_ec03b848af622051eda450212ce64764The ComeUp Cub 3 Powersports Winch will get your ATV out of many a tight spot. It has a 3,000 pound line pull, mechanical load holding and dynamic brake, full metal three-stage planetary gear train and 800 w / 1.0 hp 12V permanent magnet motor. It’s controlled by a handlebar rocker switch and freespooling clutch with sliding pin and ring gear. I could go on, but really, what are the odds you’ve understood any of this so far?

a20791d12ad0480e0c49d0_l__99671.1414789018.220.290Don’t leave you hitch hole exposed to the elements. A hitch cover will keep rain, dirt and dust from building up in your hitch opening and prevent rust and general gunk buildup. Hitch covers are available in a variety of styles — professional sports teams, college sports teams, patriotic, religious, humor — there’s a hitch to match your any mood or interest. Don’t forget a locking pin to keep it safe (sold separately).

Now you may be asking, “Where can I find all these fine gifts?” Lots of places, probably, but may I suggest They specialize in all kinds of automotive accessories and more. The company is well-known for its customer service, on-site experts to answer your questions, and the finest product descriptions on the internet.

And that’s a wrap for this year. Happy shopping. And holidays.


That for which I am thankful, 2015:


Inheritance money

Siblings who don’t fight over inheritance


Another good year from Marvel Studios

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Not dying in Utah

The Late Show with David Letterman


The Kansas City Royals (I like a team that wins the World Series every 30 years, as that’s about how long I can stand to tolerate watching baseball at a time)

Big dogs

Star Wars is back



Matt Fraction and David Aja’s ‘hawkeye’ ends

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Cousin Joey, who always “likes” everything I post on Facebook

His sister Beth, who likes John Hiatt but not everything I post on Facebook

Summer concerts in New Town

The Hunger Games is over


Silly socks weddings

The Netflix family plan

Disney Infinity’s Avengers figures

Only one long year until the presidential election is over

Starting new Christmas traditions

and, as always

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At The Movies: The Good Dinosaur

There’s a new movie in town that brings together two of my favorite things: Pixar and dinosaurs.

So you’d think I’d be all excited about “The Good Dinosaur” and yet I sit here typing away feeling rather ambivalent about it.

Dinosaur cartoons are usually a mess. I prefer harsh realism with my dinosaurs, not cutesy talking dinosaurs. But this is Pixar, surely this won’t be another “The Land Before Time.”

And it’s not. But for the most part it’s lacking the sharp wit of the best of Pixar. It’s a gentle film, more geared towards younger kids — as long as they don’t freak out over yet another parent dying horribly in a Disney cartoon. Well, they’re probably used to that by now.

“The Good Dinosaur” is, well, it’s a Western starring dinosaurs. You have to give the people at Pixar credit for having wildly offbeat imaginations.

In a world where dinosaurs were not killed off by an asteroid, they apparently evolve enough to speak English and figure out how to farm and herd cattle.

Pixar-Post-The-Good-Dinosaur-Australian-Promo-PosterThe story opens at the farm of a family of Sauropods: Poppa Henry (Jeffrey Wright), Momma Ida (Frances McDormand), son Buck (Marcus Scribner), daughter Libby (Maleah Padilla), and the hero of our story — little Arlo (Raymond Ochoa).


Arlo is scrawny and cowardly, two traits that are not useful on the farm. Arlo can’t even feed the prehistoric chickens without getting into trouble.

As is the way in these movies, Arlo gets lost and separated from the family. His only companion is a wild caveboy who behaves more like a dog than a human being — hence Arlo gives him the name Spot (Jack Bright).

Arlo isn’t happy with Spot at first but of course they bond over time. They meet up with a bizarre Styracosaurus (Peter Sohn) before encounters with a trio of cattle-herding Tyrannosaurs and some crazy pterosaurs.

“The Good Dinosaur” is not great Pixar but it’s not “Cars 2” either. It’s a bit too sweet and predictable for my tastes, and they squeeze the farewell scene for every bit of emotion possible.

But it’s worth the price of admission for the gorgeous animation and the wonderfully bizarre scenes with the cowboy Tyrannosaurs. Led by — who else? — the great gravel-voiced Sam Elliott.

The T-Rex clan are the most entertaining thing about this film and their appearance is far too brief. Kudos to Pixar for not making the Tyrannosaurs the villains of the piece for a change. The raptors are still bad guys but what do you expect from raptors?


At The Movies: Wentzville Towers And The Mockingjay Part 2

So I wasn’t able to make it to the screening of the “Hunger Games” finale this week but I figured that was OK as it would give me an excuse to head west and check out the new Wentzville Tower theater.

I liked the theater more than the movie.

B&B Wentzville ExteriorI figured to avoid crowds and not lose the whole weekend, I’d check out the first available Saturday showing, which was scheduled for 9:45 a.m. It was snowy and cold and I got confused by a damn roundabout and wound up in downtown Wentzville but eventually made my way back to the theater. When you get out of your car you are greeted by movie theme music blaring from the parking lot speakers. Nice touch.

I go to the box office for our first — but fortunately only — major setback. The Tower has reserved seating. I do not believe in reserve seating at movie theaters. Reserve seats are fine for concerts and theater, but not movies.

At the movies whoever gets their first gets the best seats. That’s the way it should be, after all those people have to sit through the half-hour of Screen Visions. I really hate people who show up at a movie five minutes before the start time and expect to find primo seats in the back. If you arrive at the theater five minutes before showtime, just go sit in the front row where you belong.

There are other reasons for hating reserve seating. What if some idiot sits down in front of me and blocks my view? Or a chatty couple sits down next to me. Or a family with a child who enjoys kicking the seat in front of him sits down behind me? I want to always reserve the right to get up and move to a better location.

Anyway, one reason for going to the 9:45 a.m. show is that not a lot of folks are going to be there so you probably don’t have to worry about people around you. I give the young lady my $8 (which seems high for a matinee, but then I’m going to the GRAND SCREEN so that tacks on a surcharge.) and pick my seat from the computer screen.

Wentzville Tower has a very spacious, clean and impressive lobby. To the left is a large, curved bar area with a section for tables and chairs. I don’t know how many people think, “Let’s go to the movie theater for some drinks” but I guess there’s a market.

There was a large concessions area with outrageous prices but you could pour your own soda so I guess you could make up some of that cost by going back for multiple refills.

Go into the GRAND SCREEN room (one of two) and find my seat. I gotta say, this is the nicest setup for a movie theater I’ve been in. The leather seat reclines back and a footrest comes up. It’s better than the couch at home because it has a cup holder. I especially liked how much space there was between rows. Even if you didn’t recline, you had unlimited leg room. Even better, when the movie was over you could get up and walk out without having to trip over the people next to you.

MV5BNjQzNDI2NTU1Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTAyMDQ5NjE@._V1_SX214_AL_As for the movie — meh. At least it’s over. I’ve enjoyed “The Hunger Games” more than other Young Adult novel series turned movies — “Twilight” and “Harry Potter” being the biggest examples — but I haven’t adored it.

I’d pretty much forgot what happened in “Mockingjay Part One” but it mostly came back to me as part two began. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is still the face of the rebellion against President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Her longsuffering boyfriend-since-youth Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is a major player among the rebels while her boyfriend-since-the-Hunger-Games Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) has been brainwashed and now hates Katniss and the rebels. Julianne Moore is the slimy leader of the rebel alliance and Philip Seymour Hoffman is somehow still alive (how long ago did they shoot this movie?)

Katniss, Gale, brainwashed Peeta and a handful of expendables go on a secret mission to assassinate Snow. There’s a lot of walking and a lot of talking punctuated by the occasional action sequence. A lot of waiting for Peeta to snap out of it, a lot of “war is hell” debate between Katniss and Gale.

Whether you find “Mockingjay Part 2” to be a suitable finale to the “Hunger Games” story probably depends upon how much you’ve liked the series up to now. Most of the problems I had early on I still had by the end.

I can’t decide if I like Katniss or not. Most of the time she has my sympathy but sometimes she really gets on my nerves. I was always on the Gale side of the Gale-Katniss-Peeta love triangle so needless to say I didn’t approve of how that was resolved. I especially don’t like how they felt the need to make Gale look bad so they could write him out.

Oh, and where did the weird, albino sewer monsters come from? I don’t remember creatures like that from earlier films. It was like all of the sudden I got plopped down into a “Resident Evil” movie.

And the dramatic ending was pretty damn predictable once it was clear how sleazy the rebel leader had become. The movie also suffers from multiple endings syndrome. Just when you think it’s over, they tack on another scene.

Anyway, I highly recommend the Wentzville Tower theater. I also recommend if you’ve got money to spend on a movie this week, go see “Spotlight.”







Before You Binge: Jessica Jones

I hate Jessica Jones.

Well, maybe hate is too strong a word. I don’t really feel hatred for fictional characters. I save that for my enemies.

But I really don’t like her. Mainly because she’s part of a trend in superheroes that I do genuinely hate: the continuity implant character.

It goes like this — comic book nerds, like all right-thinking individuals, hate change. Don’t like change. Don’t need change.

This makes it hard for comic book companies to sell the public on new superheroes. Why would I want to read about Jewel or the Sentry or Blue Marvel when I’ve got Spider-Man, the Avengers, and Batman?

jessica-jonesSo to get around this problem comic companies started trying to sell us new characters but with the selling point that “they’ve really been here all the time.” Newbies with fake backstories to give them gravitas that they haven’t earned.

You see, here is the story of Jessica Jones: She went to school with Peter Parker and had a crush on Johnny Storm and one day there was an accident involving radiation that gave her superpowers. She became the superhero Jewel. She had an altercation with the Avengers. She good pals with Ms. Marvel. She hooks up with Luke Cage.

It’s a lovely story — but none of it happened. You won’t find Jessica Jones among Peter Parker’s classmates in 1960s issues of “Spider-Man.” Jewel did not hang out with The Avengers in the ’80s. I know. I was alive then. I was reading Marvel comics at the time. She’s not in them.

Anyway, Jessica first appeared in 2001 in the comic book “Alias,” by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos. It was a book about a failed superheroine who now works as a private detective. It was a very dark comic. I’ve read bits and pieces but I don’t think I read the whole thing. If I did I don’t remember much about it.

My only real exposure to Ms. Jones was when she started hanging out in “New Avengers” due to her relationship with Luke Cage. They eventually marry and have a baby and waste a lot of pages in bad soap opera. I stopped reading “New Avengers” when Hawkeye left for the real Avengers and haven’t kept up with Luke and Jessie. I don’t miss them.


Still, I will be watching “Jessica Jones” when I get the chance. Netflix/Marvel did a good job with “Daredevil,” and frankly I’m not a big fan of his, either.

Since the TV/Marvel universe is completely different than the comics, they can’t shoehorn her into the Avengers so she will have to stand or fall on her own. As it should be.




At The Movies: Spotlight

Yes, yes, I know. “Where’s my ‘Hunger Games’ review? Why haven’t you posted a ‘Hunger Games’ review? How can I go to the finale without reading if I should or not?”

Sorry. I had another commitment and missed the screening. I’ll probably catch it this weekend at the new place in Wentzville and maybe I’ll post something over the weekend.

Meanwhile, instead of reviewing the movie you’re going to see this weekend, I’m going to talk about the movie you should go see.

Directed by Thomas McCarthy and written by McCarthy and Josh Singer, “Spotlight” is a gripping examination of The Boston Globe’s investigation into the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal. The newspaper won a 2003 Pulitzer Prize for its efforts. The film will probably garner some awards as well.

2B89064B00000578-0-image-a-25_1440115471750As the film opens, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber in a very sedate performance) has just been named the new editor at the Globe. He’s single, Jewish and an outsider in the heavily Catholic town of Boston.

Perhaps his outsider status is the reason Baron is the only person in the morning meeting who feels a lawsuit involving allegations of sexual abuse by a local priest is worth looking into. He assigns the case to the newspaper’s “Spotlight” team of investigative journalists.  The quartet consists of editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton) and reporters Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James). They report to editor Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery).

The constantly twitchy, clearly driven Rezendes is given the difficult task of trying to get assistance from Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci), attorney for the alleged victim. The rest of the team will face their own challenges.

What follows is a fascinating and compelling tale as the reporters methodically, tirelessly work their sources and do their research. As the story explodes far beyond a single case of abuse, the pressure to get it right and get it out there becomes as great as the outside pressure to shut it down.

“Spotlight” is one of the year’s best films. It takes a difficult topic and handles it with tact. The ensemble cast is excellent. Ruffalo is the standout but everyone is terrific.

Remember when journalism was a respectable profession? Neither do I, but “Spotlight” serves to remind us that every so often, newspapers can do a good thing.








On Stage: Irving Berlin’s White Christmas

I’m one of those people who doesn’t believe in acknowledging the existence of Christmas until after Thanksgiving.

But then I don’t make up the schedule for the Fox Theatre, so let’s talk about “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.” The show runs through Sunday and it is sure to get you in the holiday spirit — even if it is a couple of weeks too soon.

Based on the classic 1954 film which I haven’t seen (I tend to avoid Christmas movies unless they have Chevy Chase and Randy Quaid in them), “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” was adapted for the stage in 2004 with the e libretto is by David Ives and Paul Blake. Music and lyrics, of course, by the great Irving Berlin.


           The Irving Berlin’s White Christmas 2014 National Tour Company.                   Photo by Kevin White

The tale begins with song-and-dance duo Bob Wallace (Sean Montgomery) and Phil Davis (Jeremy Benton) performing for the troops on Christmas Eve, 1944. They are interrupted by their gruff but lovable commander — General Waverly (Conrad John Schuck) — who announces he’s being shipped stateside before wishing all his boys well.

It’s now 10 years later and Bob and Phil are playing “The Ed Sullivan Show” and looking for new talent to join their act. They are pointed in the direction of a sister act — Betty and Judy Haynes (Kerry Conte and Kelly Sheehan) — who prove to be promising both as entertainers and love interests.

The girls have a gig at an inn in Pine Tree, Vermont, and the boys tag along. It turns out the Inn is owned by the general, who is unaware that it is losing money because the woman running the place (Pamela Myers) doesn’t want to upset him.

Bob and Phil decide to put on a show and invite all their old army buddies to come out and raise the money to keep the general’s inn afloat. Of course, the show won’t go on without a few misunderstandings and setbacks along the way.

I’ll be honest. going into this I wasn’t really interested in seeing “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.” Old-fashioned, feel-good holiday cheer is just not my thing — especially in mid-November. But I must admit, this is a really good show.

The multiple set changes were well crafted, the costumes were bright and colorful, the musicians were fine and the songs were — well — classics.  In addition to familiar holiday songs “Happy Holiday” and the title tune, the show features Berlin classics “Blue Skies,” “Snow,” “How Deep Is The Ocean” and “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm,” among others.

But it was the on-stage talent that really made the show sing (and dance). The four leads are all fine singers while Benton and Sheehan are tremendous dancers. As if the songs weren’t strong enough on their own, the show features several amazing dance numbers.

Don’t be a Grinch. Check out “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” while you have the chance. Given the state of the world these days, a little early holiday cheer can only be a good thing.

“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” runs through Sunday at the Fox Theatre.