Saturday, January 31, 2009

Judy in January

January 2009 was a good month for the blog-with the most posts of any month so far and the most visits! Thanks for spreading the love. I think this year is off to a good start.

On this last day of January, I am pleased to give you Travel Correspondent, Judy Grimes, once again.

I want to be able to do that.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Knowing: With Good Intent

Mediocre, high profile studio flicks with actors that I really don't care for become a whole lot more interesting when you see and read all the behind-the-scenes stuff. There are actually "ideas," "inspiration", "art" and "thought" that go behind making even the most generic looking disaster-of-the-week movies. Who knew? Such is the case for Alex Proyas' newest film-a project originally attached to Donnie Darko director, Richard Kelly-Knowing...with Nicolas Cage.

The National Treasure movies were fairly bland at best-although I enjoyed the second slightly more than the first. Ghost Rider was one of the more painful viewing experiences I have had to endure in recent years-and in the theatre to boot. (I can't believe the studio just greenlit a second installment). Is Moonstruck really the only good film Nicolas Cage has done in...ever? Proyas has stated that Knowing is the "polar opposite of National Treasure" so maybe there is a reason to be looking forward to the movie on some level.

In any case, I found this article on io9 to be an eye-opening look into the production of Knowing and it admittedly pushed me slightly forward in the direction of wanting to see it-if only to get a sense of the artistic intent and a different look at apocalypse narratives-and even then, perhaps only on DVD.

Knowing comes out on March 20, 2009.

Teddies of the Vampyre Variety

Issue 22 of Buffy Season 8 goes on sale next Wednesday. Kennedy is sent to evaluate Satsu's performance on the field and Buffy is pursued by adorable-scratch that-ferocious little fuzzballs. Steven S. DeKnight-writer of such Whedon-dom as Buffy's "Blood Ties" and Angel's "The Girl in Question" plus Dollhouse-is penning this issue.

Great cover. They're all like miniature, Dracula-themed Build-a-Bears, but evil.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Final Watchmen Poster

Here is the final poster for Watchmen, which is being released on March 6th of this year. I'm happy the legal battles between Fox and Warner Brothers is over and there is likely to be no tangible aftermath for the fans-Warner Brothers, on the other hand, will have to fork out a heavy amount of cash as Fox technically still held the rights to the film-for 20 some odd years.

Below is a mock-up of a photograph taken of Dr. Manhattan as he aids in the American forces in Vietnam on the first day of Operation Wrath of God (June 15 1970) during the alternate history depicted in Watchmen.

I was able to read Watchmen over the holidays between long plane rides and hours of waiting at airports. It really is a phenomenal piece of literature. The characters are full of enormous depth and there text itself transcends both the typical novel and graphic novel forms with a novel within a novel and historical documents and articles from the period that do wonders to add to the "authenticity" of the work. It reads very much like exploits from a thrilling part of our own history-even one that didn't actually happen-because the writing, timeline and cultural references are so poignant. On my part, I found it immensely fascinating that the main events of Watchmen, take place over the week of my birth in an alternate 1985-I had no idea before I picked it up. Alan Moore also writes his superheros with souls-something that has been tried so many times since the book was written in 1985 in comics and films, but rarely achieved. The "Watchmen"-though they are never pinned with that name in the book-are grounded in their own personalities, motivations and environments. There's a reason this book is on TIME magazine's list of the top 100 novels.

I would do my best to find a copy of it before you see the film. I expect to refer to Watchmen again and again in my personal reading and writing in addition to future academic efforts.

Read it. Love it. And come see it with me on March 6th!

A Different House

Dollhouse, unsurprisingly, isn't the only project in the works from Whedon. You've got to figure that a mind like that is practically drowning in brilliance.

Having built a dollhouse-a rather large one-on one side of town, he's building something else in the form of a feature film project called The Cabin in the Woods. It will be co-written and produced by Joss while other writing and directorial duties will go to Drew Goddard, already a name known to fans of Buffy and Angel, but also one tied to Cloverfield, Alias and Lost. All we really know-besides the recent casting of Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under) and Bradley Whitford (The West Wing)-is that it is a horror movie and according to Whedon, "it's the horror movie to end all horror movies...literally." Thanks, Joss. Perhaps a little genre-deconstruction for good measure? When I think of a cabin in the woods, my mind immediately goes to the house in the Evil Dead movies and I would suspect the title is meant to evoke that being a horror movie. Oh, and there are teenagers in the film too. That, we do know.

A few days ago, a blog compiled the information and misinformation that has been revealed thus far from various sources in article format, although the results far from conclusive-which, to be honest is a little exciting. I like thinking that of all people, Whedon can keep a good secret, especially after reading the smirk-inducing quote of his below about The Cabin in the Woods.

In order to protect the story from spoilerization, we've been sending out our OWN misinformation, including fake sides for the actors, fake summaries, different names... So there's gonna be a lot of 'information' leaked that will lead to excited speculation about things you will not see. Sorry. But here's some stuff you CAN look forward to, my word on it: 1) A person will have an emotion. 2) Two people speaking, or "dialogue", may occur. 3) A bunch of different people will play the part of Bob Dylan. Hope that clears everything up. More updates soon!

Clever, clever.

The movie has a release of February 5th, 2010, although in just over a year, anything can change. But then again it's only a year away!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Whedon Makes Headlines

A well deserved nomination for Buffy Season 8 has been announced for the 20th Annual GLAAD-Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation-Media Awards. The event will be held on May 9, 2009 in San Francisco.

The nominations for Outstanding Comic Book alongside Buffy are:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Drew Goddard, Jeph Loeb and Joss Whedon (Dark Horse Comics)
The Alcoholic by Jonathan Ames (Vertigo/DC Comics)
Final Crisis: Revelations by Greg Rucka (DC Comics)
Secret Six by Gail Simone (DC Comics)
Young Avengers Presents by Ed Brubaker, Brian Reed, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Paul Cornell, Kevin Grevioux and Matt Fraction (Marvel Comics)

Of course, the nomination is undoubtedly for the portrayal of Buffy's "experimenting" in issue 12 of Buffy Season 8-the plot-point-that-must-not-be-discussed (at least it was in June during Slayage). When it came out, the New York Times even wrote about the "episode" and interviewed Whedon regarding the encounter and other issues of cultural resonance. That article here.

If Buffy didn't always get the broad recognition it deserved while it was on television, audiences and critics seem to be warming to its influence and cultural significance, even if some of them are approximately half a decade late. Thankfully, Buffy's back in the comics and in the media in general as Dollhouse marketing does its thing, always accompanied in promos with the inter-title "From Joss Whedon, Creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer."

The question that many people are asking is "will Dollhouse be good?" when really they should ask themselves, "when has Whedon not been good?" I would say the positives far outweigh the negatives-including the so-bad-it's-good, "I Robot...You, Jane." A Toronto Correspondent for A'n'E Vibe suggests that "Perhaps Whedon’s problem is that he’s too ahead of the cultural time," and that "His ideas are too vast, too wide-reaching, and too complex for the normal hour-long slots allotted to him." Are general audiences that resistant to the kind of content he provides or is it just an example of not enough good programming and people settling for "simpler" content?

When I was picking up the latest issue of Angel: After The Fall at the comic book shop the other day, the storekeeper asked me if I was excited about Dollhouse. I paused at first because no one had really asked me that just yet and my experience with Buffy, Angel and Firefly have almost exclusively been post-airing. I said, "yes" followed by "I hope it is good!" Then she asked, "Well, when has he ever let us down?" and I completely agree.

There's so much riding on the intitial reactions for Dollhouse and it's a lot to live up to. It's like the anticipation leading up to the Obama administration-ushering in a "New Era" for the United States of America. There is an expectation that this is the new "Whedon Era" while audiences and studios seem to possess shorter attention spans than ever before. Pressure, much? Whedon and FOX assure their viewers that putting Dollhouse in a Friday night time slot paired with Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles-of which Whedon says he is a devoted fan-allows Dollhouse the appropriate environment in which to germinate. I absolutely want Dollhouse to be great. And it is certainly not my faith in Whedon that is shaken, but my faith in how the modern entertainment landscape is one filled with those quick to judge and eager for the "next great thing." Whedon can take all the time he needs with my shows and really, when has that actually taken so long anyway?

My friend Kj made a great point about the evolution of Buffy saying:

i just re-watched the first two buffy episodes on Hulu while spell checking and am surprised to see how it actually feels like the same show. in my mind the first two seasons were so different from what it eventually became.

How true-we liked Buffy in the beginning and we liked Buffy at the end-but it was no doubt different to some extent. Whedon's shows always build and expound upon themselves, if given the time and freedom, and the joy in watching them is how plot and ideas are revealed, not to mention the masterful character arcs. Whedon has a way of fine-tuning all the elements of a "good" television show and making them work well and together.

Whedon's in control of Dollhouse-and he is perhaps more in control in this show than in any previous television series he has been involved with. The exception to that may be Dr. Horrible, but that's somewhat of a different ball game. It's not hard to trust Whedon after the multitude of relevant narratives he has helped create, whether they have been recognized on a large scale like the Emmys, GLAAD Awards or not.

Come February 13th and every Friday after that, I will be watching what I expect to be an example of fantastic television artistry, Dollhouse.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pretty Picture of Dolls

There are some cool pictures floating out there from the first episode of Dollhouse, "Ghost." Some of them show more of Amy Acker's character, Dr. Claire Saunders, and her appearance which has been the subject of much speculation.

Check out more at SpoilerTV.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Music in the 'house

Some of the music that has been chosen for Dollhouse thus far. These may change before airing, but there are some interesting choices.

I wasn't watching Buffy when it was on television, so I don't know fully to what extent the music choices-such as the artists and songs played at The Bronze-were informed by contemporary music. Thoughts?

February 13th

Lady Gaga - "Just Dance"

"Gray Hour"
February 20th

Sia - "I Go To Sleep"

"The Target"
February 27th

Light FM - "The High"

Via Dollverse.

It was also recently announced that Rob Simonsen would be composing the music for Dollhouse. He has worked on the scores for Capote, Little Miss Sunshine, Fracture and Surf's Up among many other projects.

Taproot's Tuesdays

Clocking in at 34 pages and about 16,000 words, my production packet for Taproot Theatre's production of Tuesdays with Morrie is locked and sent off with loads of information to be devoured by actors and artistic staff.

The play is based on the autobiographical book by Mitch Albom and chronicles the relationship with Albom and his professor Morrie Shwartz who is dying of Lou Gehrig's disease and the lessons about life that both learn in the process.

Rehearsals begin soon and the play, directed by Karen Lund, is set to go live for audiences March 27-April 25 with previews on March 25 & 26. Look for my display in the lobby!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

With Feeling

I don't know why I never actually owned this album before now. Maybe it's because whenever I got the craving for it, I went and watched the episode. Now I can listen to it anytime, anywhere courtesy of a sale on Amazon where I bought it for a cool $5.00.

Bad form, Sanjaya. Bad form.

There are few words for this travesty of album artwork and even fewer of those are positive ones.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Well played, Britney. Well played.

I was just thinking the other day that over a month after it's release, I am still playing Circus like a brand new record. I really do like it. It's catchy, dance-around-town-fun and produced in the best way. If Britney is "only as good as her producers" as some reviewers have stated then, the wide range of talent represented on their behalf on Circus makes a win for Britney.

Yes, of course, there are better songs than others and a couple of hiccups if you listen to the album in the original track order, which mainly makes for some awkward transitions between ballads-rarely Britney's strong suit-and beats.

My favorite song off the album is "Unusual You" which is a bit different from Britney's more pop-infused style but a welcome departure. Other top picks, besides the first single, "Womanizer" which has a video by the same director who did the flashy videos for "Stronger" and "Toxic" which I both love, include: "Circus", "Shattered Glass" (or "Shattered Gla-e-aaass" as I and some others like to refer to it), "Rock Me In" and "If U Seek Amy" which is apparently suggestive of quite the little narrative.

Since I have been listening to the CD for a month, I was surprised to learn something new about the lyrics for "If U Seek Amy"-even though lyrics aren't really the first thing I pay attention to. Rolling Stone reports that The Parents Television Council claims "Amy" is a bit more naughty than she would appear.

The members of this organization are "livid that Britney Spears‘ cunningly titled “If U Seek Amy” is getting radio play, despite the fact that the title and lyrics essentially say “F-U-C-K Me.”...American parents are lining up to demand radio stations cease playing the song between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. as it “violates the broadcast indecency law.”

My favorite quote:
“There is no misinterpreting the lyrics to this song, and it’s certainly not about a girl named Amy,” PTC president Tim Winter said.

PTC is calling for a radio ban on the song during certain hours and some stations have already begun to edit the tune or insert random names over Amy's.

Am I completely clueless as to not have noticed this? Did anyone else notice it before reading this? Maybe I'm just not tuned in to that sort of criticism. Maybe Britney (or her producers) are just one up on me on the clever-scale. I had a feeling there might be a double meaning somewhere-you know, like "Tina" is code for Crystal Meth-but didn't make this connection. I just thought she really wanted to find Amy.

I had a best friend named Amy once. She was nice. I wonder where she is...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"I shot him down."

"Not very Christian of me."

-Shepherd Book, Serenity

Guess what I get to do this weekend? That's right, two glorious days of writing about Firefly for the SWTX/PCA conference. Stumptown, Victrola, Vita? One of those lucky coffee shops will experience my presence for hours on end!

Brained by a Teacup

Gotta love dinosaur theology.

Click for more hilarious and insightful dinosaur comics!

Angel: ATF FTW

This month's issue of Angel: After The Fall, which begins to close up the "season's" story arc blew me away. This is the kind of resonance that we've always wanted with Angel and it is the issue that makes everything in After The Fall worth reading. It is incredibly climactic and 'verse changing.

Angel: After The Fall #16, Cover by Alex Garner.

Thanks to the writer, Brian Lynch, for such an amazing experience. I am going to re-read the whole thing over again.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sometimes, things get dark.

For those that have seen the newest Battlestar Galactica episode, "Sometimes A Great Notion", you know that there are some major revelations that happen-all paired, of course, with another wave of questions. You also know that the episode is very dark. In fact, it was really hard to watch at times.

If you haven't watched the episode and you're all caught up otherwise, you can see it here.

Then head to the Chicago Tribune TV and read this phenomenol set of interviews conducted by columnist Maureen Ryan with the creative team of Battlestar, including creator, Ron Moore. The extensive article focuses on the first episode back from the show's lengthy hiatus in great detail from production design, story arcs, scripting and the emotional and thematical depths this episode attains. Don't even think about reading it if you haven't watched the episode! Check back at the link after this Friday for a look into the next episode, "A Disquiet That Follows My Soul."

Excerpt from the interview with Ronald Moore:

Moore: And yeah, this is a very dark chapter. This may not even be the darkest chapter.

That’s a scary thought.

Moore: [laughs] It may not get better.

From here on out, bring your tissues to your Battlestar screenings because so far it's a really rough road toward the end. That said, Battlestar definitely proves itself as perhaps the best show on television right now and the level of attention that is paid to the creative integrity of the show is both admirable and completely inspiring.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Writing with Whedon 101

I've been writing and writing all day and came across a little advice from Joss Whedon on...writing here. Go check it out because it's really great and because it's Joss. The original article is from 4Talent Magazine.

Here are the first few "Tips on the Art of Screenwriting" from Joss Whedon

Actually finishing it is what I’m gonna put in as step one. You may laugh at this, but it’s true. I have so many friends who have written two-thirds of a screenplay, and then re-written it for about three years. Finishing a screenplay is first of all truly difficult, and secondly really liberating. Even if it’s not perfect, even if you know you’re gonna have to go back into it, type to the end. You have to have a little closure.

Structure means knowing where you’re going; making sure you don’t meander about. Some great films have been made by meandering people, like Terrence Malick and Robert Altman, but it’s not as well done today and I don’t recommend it. I’m a structure nut. I actually make charts. Where are the jokes? The thrills? The romance? Who knows what, and when? You need these things to happen at the right times, and that’s what you build your structure around: the way you want your audience to feel. Charts, graphs, coloured pens, anything that means you don’t go in blind is useful.

This really should be number one. Even if you’re writing a Die Hard rip-off, have something to say about Die Hard rip-offs. The number of movies that are not about what they purport to be about is staggering. It’s rare, especially in genres, to find a movie with an idea and not just, ‘This’ll lead to many fine set-pieces’. The Island evolves into a car-chase movie, and the moments of joy are when they have clone moments and you say, ‘What does it feel like to be those guys?’

Visit the first link in the post for the whole text.

For the Bible...

This movie should be required viewing for every person in America-to, like, be a person.

You may have seen people's coming out stories before, but nothing like this, with this much scope, depth and research. Powerful and moving. Best documentary ever.

Stakes and Salvation

When I began writing my thesis, the professor of my honors seminar, Carolyn Allen, asked us to write a page or two on what our "stakes" would be in writing this paper and how we could carry the topic for the long months of writing and research on which we would be embarking. In my response, I cleverly made the connection between my emotional and psychological stakes in writing the paper and the "stakes" used to dispatch vampires in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the basis for my thesis in the first place. At least I thought it was a pretty clever match-I figured I would be the only one able to say that my stakes of my paper were actual stakes.

I write:
I feel a certain responsibility to myself and the creative product that is Buffy to defend my emotional ties, the incredible writing of the show, and the effects that Buffy has had in modern culture.

KJ and I talked about our stakes as we began the process of writing our conference paper this past fall. We decided the paper would become a burden or be not worth writing at all if we we did not possess a substantial investment in the material. We needed to figure out our stakes. As I've said earlier, the paper just works for us on several levels. There's definitely a personal investment for us on both of our parts. I knew I wanted my writing and research to be a journey of truth-seeking and it is this that I aspire to in all my creative endeavours.

Last week, another friend of mine paraphrased for me my horoscope from Free Will Astrology-a syndicated column that appears in Seattle's weekly Stranger publication. Thereafter, I went to find it for myself.

Jan 8, 2009
If you're an artist and you want to get steadily better at your craft, you need to continually refine your approach to telling the truth. The novelist Willa Cather said that. Now I'm here to invite you to adopt that strategy in 2009, whether you're an artist or simply a person who wants to live your life artfully. The coming months will be one of the best times ever for you to penetrate to the heart of the truths you aspire to live by and become highly skilled at expressing them in every little thing you do.

I don't read my horoscope regularly, but once in awhile I'll glance at one and it will inspire something in me-which, even if you don't take too much stock in them, is a worthwhile use of them. I took it as a good omen for the paper and my truth-seeking therein.

Needless to say, in writing a paper that deals with fundamentalism, theology, salvation and pastorship (not to mention science fiction), I think a lot. Yesterday, I had the beginnings of somewhat of a revelation brought on by reading the book introduced in this clip:

The book is called The Great Emergence and chronicles the shifts in Christianity that tend to happen every 500 years. We are in such a shift now.

The author, Phyllis Tickle, writes, "Christianity may be being re-written as more Jewish, more paradoxical, more narrative, and more mystical than anything the church has had for the last 17 or 1800 years" (162)

My response:
It's interesting-I've always had a fascination with Judaism, with the history involved with it, the tradition and particularly the mysticism of it. It just always seemed so much more involved and all-encompassing than Christianity. Like Christianity wasn't as "real" of religion or lifestyle as Judaism-as if Christianity were "too easy" or "too straightforward" to be legit. I always have had to speak about Judaism in abstract, large terms as I don't know a whole lot about it, but I've always had a respect for it.

There's something to say about the mystery, doubt and "story arc"-if you can call it that-of Judaism. I don't like "knowing everything" as Christian fundamentalism would have me believe. Knowing the whole story. Genesis. The Old Testament. Jesus. Salvation. Fiery pit. Satan dies. Heaven. Thinking about it-the linearity of it-drives me crazy actually. It's where that obsession to evangelize must come from in the fundamentalism article-"Bible Says: The Psychology of Christian Fundamentalism" by Walter Davis from Psychoanalytic Review, because people have to figure out "Okay, I'm saved. I know what's coming. I know the end. Hum-de-dum. What do I do until then?"

Brought to you my caffeine-driven, theological musings.

There's a satisfaction to be had in querying and thinking about what the characters I'm writing about might be asking themselves. It lets me know that I'm in a good place of writing and intellectual investigation. And it's enjoyable too, by writing about other people, even fictional ones-or especially fictional ones, perhaps-it's unavoidable learning more about yourself.

Scoping human truth.

And those are my stakes.

Tom Lenk Makes a Funny

Tom Lenk-Andrew of The Trio on Buffy-attempts to make a YouTube video with hilarious results-one of my favorite parts includes a "debate" about Twilight.

"It doesn't have to make sense; it's for the internet."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Final ATF: Vol 3 Cover

The cover for Angel: After The Fall Volume 3, collecting issues 9-12 of the series, has been released.

It's available for pre-order now and hits shelves on March 29th. If you still need to catch up on the events that have taken place since LA went to hell, you can get the first two volumes in hardcover here and here.

If you think Illyria didn't get her due screen time in the show, wait till you see the former goddess in action in its continuation.

Welcome to my Blogroll is a blog that I have followed with some regularity over the past six months or so, but for some reason I had not yet added it to the links in the sidebar. Jamie Boudreau moved from Vancouver, Canada a few years ago to Seattle to be the lead bartender at one of my favorite Seattle bars, VESSEL. For reasons not completely known to me, Boudreau decided to move on and take a lead position at Tini Bigs, a renowned martini bar in the lower Queen Anne neighborhood. Tini Bigs used to be a major player in the Seattle cocktail scene and it had still boasted the best martini in town before Boudreau walked in the door. As one of the best mixologists in the world, Boudreau has brought attention anew to the bar having revamped the menu infusing it with classics and some of his spectacular concoctions himself. His blog is filled with recipes, history, beautiful photography and insights into the life of a professional mixologist as he is called on internationally for consultations, competitions and seminars. Boudreau's drinks are some of the best I have ever had.

Head over for inspiration, knowledge and pretty pictures!

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Today saw the beginning of a new addiction-Weeds. I don't know why I hadn't tried it before. Just waiting for the right time, I guess. I just finished the fourth season of Six Feet Under and I love that show so much that I don't want to see it end after the fifth-but it's there. Looming. So, I'm putting it off and getting high on Weeds. Several people have told me I would like it. And I say to them-sorry I didn't get on it sooner! I'm catching up. I'm six episodes into the show and I immediately started taking a liking to it.

The most experience I had with Mary Louise Parker was through Angels In America in which she plays Harper Pitt, the Mormon/Valium-addict/wife of a closeted lawyer and she handles the chaotic facets of her character's life with such tenacity. The life of her Weeds character of Nancy Botwin, too, has been inundated with more than any one woman should have to handle. I think that Parker's talent lies in exhibiting those struggles in a very genuine manner as she plays women of strength while being open to express vulnerability and affliction that is readable on screen no matter how subtle the emotional subtext.

I can't wait to watch more and am pleased to read that this year the show was renewed for a 5th & 6th season.

Toni Doesn't Disappoint with Tara

Tomorrow night, Showtime will air the pilot episode of The United States of Tara created by Steven Spielberg and developed and produced by Diablo Cody, starring Toni Collette. I've always really liked Toni Collette and she chooses such diverse characters to play. She is so adaptable. Needless to say, The United States of Tara is a perfect television for her to showcase her art. I nearly forgot that it was Toni Collette on screen amidst the three "alters" that surface during the first episode. Each of her personalities that has been revealed thus far from the slutty, 15-year old, "T" to the homophobic, trash-talking, male-gendered personality, "Buck" are so well defined and the results are funny but often heartbreaking. This is dark comedy at its finest. I have no doubt that the other writers, Cody, Collette, the talented ensemble cast including John Corbett as the supportive husband and Brie Larson as the angst-ridden teenage girl with a fractured mother will manage to navigate the drama and comedy with success. Even if Juno did not reach your built-up expectations as was my experience, Cody's wit and sharp humor finds a depth and scope with an able cast and a premise with great potential.

If you have Netflix, you can view the pilot instantly or head over to Showtime where you're able to stream it online.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Behind the Dollhouse

FOX releases a behind-the-scenes mini-featurette on Dollhouse.

I cannot wait for this show to get into full swing come February and beyond.

BSG 4.5

Ladies and Gentlemen, just 8 hours remain before the last half of the last season of Battlestar Galactica premieres. And for everyone who is Tivo-ing or DVR-ing it for later viewing or re-viewing, be aware that tonight's episode will run 3 1/2 minutes long, so set up accordingly. This season there will be more than a few episodes with longer-than-usual run times. So many exciting revelations to fit in to this season!

Worst Taglines

I spent the last several days between my couch and my bed, watching the premiere of American Idol, daytime television and movies from my Netflix queue. I really should have gotten the flu shot this year. Thankfully, I am starting to feel much better today just in time for the weekend and tonight's premiere of the second half Battlestar Galactica Season 4. What most certainly did not make me feel better? Being subjected multiple times a day to previews for these two movies:

Both of which are contenders for "Movie With The Worst Tagline of the Year."

Hotel for Dogs seems to be wavering between "Save the Stray, Save the Day" and "No Stray Gets Turned Away" in their promotional campaigns while Mall Cop-which also is a shoe in for "Most Unappealing Movie Trailer Ever"-has gone with the menacing, "Safety Never Takes A Holiday."


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"If you've reached this message, I'm probably in the 'verse."

Since I came back to Seattle from my holiday jaunt abroad, I jumped right into a new job, another Concierge position, though far more involved and rewarding. I get to excercise my creative talents designing and writing flyers for a variety of events and the atmosphere all around-aesthetically and otherwise is just fantastic. I feel tremendously valued and every day is interesting. A real good change to say the least. And the free food is definitely welcome!

In the other hours of the day, I have been almost entirely immersed in the Whedonverse-although, I would say I'm in that state a great deal of the time anyway. I am still working on a Firefly paper with friend, co-worker, colleague and co-author, Kj, for the Southwest Texas Popular Culture and American Culture Association's 30th Annual Conference in late February. (Unlike SC3 for Slayage, this conference makes for a significantly longer acronym SWTX PCA/ACA). The paper focuses on Shepherd Book and his (in)ability to carry out the duties one would expect from one in a shepherding/pastoring position.

It has been a perfect project for us, I with my Christian upbringing, an academic conference on my resume, English degree with unofficial pop-culture emphasis and Kj with her enthusiasm about performing arts, film television and her pursuit of a Masters in Divinity at a local school. That and we get along-I can't imagine doing this kind of thing with an arbitrarily assigned classmate-though I'm sure that will come about either in grad school or my professional career.

We've been divying up responsibilities, watching episodes of Firefly over and over again-with commentary, without commentary, waxing theological over sliders, Guinness and Mountain Dew at Happy Hours and reading loads of essays, books and comics. We've both been experiencing the fun of homework. A few of the recent additions to the bookshelves from bookstore runs and Amazon orders, Finding Serenity edited by Jane Espenson, Firefly: The Official Companion Vol. 1 & 2, Serenity Official Visual Companion, and Investigating Firefly and Serenity: Science Fiction on the Frontier edited by my advisory-peer-academics Rhonda Wilcox and Tanya Cochran. And if you fancy yourself a fan of Firefly, you need to check out the graphic novel, Those Left Behind. With a script written by Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews, it does a great job of bridging the television series and Serenity and it has been an invaluable asset in telling the overarching narrative as Kj and I conduct our character research.

Also keeping me fresh with the 'verse: multiple visits daily to Whedonesque. A highlight from this morning that's worth reading if you're an Angel devotee is by Jake from The Armchair Critic. There, he offers his take on the 25 Best and 5 Worst episodes Angel.

I still anxiously await every issue of Buffy Season 8 and Angel: After the Fall. This past week brought us the comic debut of Harmony Kendall in the Jane Espenson penned "Harmonic Divergence" where Harmony gets a reality show and in the process brings vampires to the forefront of public awareness. Tons of pop culture references and wit. Harmony must be a blast to write for.

She also makes a brief appearance in the recently released first of three issues of Angel: Smile Time, a comic book version of the Angel episode from Season 5. Also in the works is an adaptation of the very last episode of Angel, "Not Fade Away." Each adaptation features expanded dialogue and creative use of the "camera" that sometimes deviates from the original framing.

While I'm in the Whedonverse-dishing-mood, some upcoming dates:

Dollhouse premieres February 13, 2009 on FOX

Buffy Season 8 "Swell" #22 February 04, 2009 Satsu and Kennedy team-up in Japan.

Angel: After the Fall "Riot Control" #16 January 28, 2009

Angel: Blood and Trenches March 25, 2009 An ancient evil calls Angel to return to Europe during World War I.

Angel "Not Fade Away" April 2009

Illyria: Before the Aftermath Release Unknown

Angel: Aftermath Mid 2009

If you're aching for original and canonical Buffy material, you're not too late to get into the rich text and art of Buffy and Angel in comics!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dollhouse Poster

I really liked what FOX did with the marketing and promos for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles before the first season with the mechanized, half-body of the beautiful Summer Glau and character shots over the white background. I've been waiting to see what the studio would do for Dollhouse. As far as I can tell, this is the first official promotional poster-though there have been quite a few images released over the past few months-we've seen for the show premiering in just over a month and I like it.

Click to see it bigger and read the tagline: "She can be anyone, except herself."

TV spots are beginning to air on FOX as well.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Seattle Under Threat

If there were ever a horror movie that would freeze my blood, this would be the plot.

And it's real. And happening in my neighborhood.

The Stranger's Dan Savage posted the note along with accompanying police information on the SLOG yesterday evening. Other than the fact that the eleven letters were picked up from the clubs involved, details are scarce at the moment. As would be expected, the Seattle Police Department and the FBI are involved and it is likely Homeland Security will aid in the investigation as well.

From The Stranger's SLOG:

A letter also arrived in The Stranger's offices, addressed to the attention of "Obituaries." The letter's author said the paper should "be prepared to announce the deaths of approximately 55 individuals all of whom were patrons of the following establishments on a Saturday in January." The listed bars are: the Elite, Neighbours, Wild Rose, the Cuff, Purr, the Eagle, R Place, Re-bar, CC's, Madison Pub, and the Crescent. "I could take this moment to launch into a diatribe about my indignation towards the gay community," the letter concludes, "however, I think the deaths will speak for themselves."

That is perhaps the most chilling thing I have ever read.

It is unfathomable to think how a person could be so vile and hateful-regardless of whether or not he intends to follow through on this threat. Although I haven't been going out a whole lot lately, it's hard to think about doing so now in the face of this threat. I am even more inclined now to have dinner parties and game nights at home instead of having a drink at any of those establishments-most of which I have visited with some regularity. What it comes down to though is the fact that this is terrorism, pure and simple. The question we have to ask ourselves here in Seattle is whether or not we let it be successful. Of course, the community of Capitol Hill and Seattle at large will continue to support its members, but these happenings are tremendously frightening nonetheless.

To those in Seattle, please be careful and stick together.

UPDATE: From the Seattle PI; According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, ricin – the poison the writer was said to have 67 grahams of – can be in the form of a powder, a mist, or a pellet, or it can be dissolved in water or weak acid.

If made into a partially purified material or refined into a terrorist or warfare agent, ricin could be used to expose people through the air, food, or water, according to the CDC.

So does this mean that simply breathing at a bar could be potentially dangerous?

UPDATE 2: Dan Savage hypothesizes the letters were written by an embittered gay man.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

One of the Quirkiest

PARADE magazine has just named Slayage Conference 3-at which I presented this summer-as one of its quirkiest news stories of the year.

It's cool that the conference made the news and that I got to be a part of it, but quirky?! I'm more inclined to call SC3 awesome and one-of-the-best-times-of-my-life!

Thanks to David Lavery for the link.

And thanks to Ryan and Nikki-to the right and left of the picture respectively-for helping make the conference so great in the first place!

Good times!

Said: Nathaniel & David Fisher

Nathaniel Fisher: You hang on to your pain like it means something. Like it's worth something. Well, let me tell you - it's not worth shit. Let it go! Infinite possibilities, and all he can do is whine. 
David Fisher: Well, what am I supposed to do? 
Nathaniel: What do you think? You can do *anything*, you lucky bastard - you're alive! What's a little pain compared to that? 
David: It can't be that simple. 
Nathaniel: What if it is?

Six Feet Under Episode 51
September 12, 2004


2009 has come and within the next few weeks we'll see the continuation of favorite shows as well as some promising new entries.  A few of these shows ended the first part of their season run several months ago so their return is much anticipated, while others took a shorter break-though some longer than others-for the holiday season.

Season 5, Episode 15
"Ronnie Chase"
January 6, 2009

30 Rock
Season 3, Episode 7
"Senor Macho Solo"
January 8, 2009

Battlestar Galactica
Season 4, Episode 11
"Sometimes a Great Notion"
January 16, 2009

The United States of Tara
Season 1, Episode 1
January 18, 2009 
*A dark comedy, starring Toni Collette, about a woman with multiple personality disorder who tries to keep it together for her family. Created by Steven Spielberg and written by Diablo Cody of Juno fame.

Season 5, Episode 1
"Because You Left"
January 21, 2009
*This one I plan on adding to my Netflix queue soon.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Season 2, Episode 14
Title Unknown
February 13, 2009

And a few moments after Sarah Connor Chronicles ends that Friday evening on FOX comes the show we've all been waiting for:

Season 1, Episode 1
Written and Directed by Joss Whedon
February 13, 2009

It's going to be a good night.  And I'm not at all thinking about how that was the date five years ago that Angel was cancelled.  Nor the fact that it's FOX.  Nor the production delays.  Nor the script rewrites.  Stopping now.

Bring on the dolls!

And the month after that, a project featuring another Whedon alumnus:

Season 1, Episode 1
March 9, 2009
Starring Nathan Fillion
*I think this was the pilot directed last year by the Associate Artistic Director at Taproot Theatre for whom I have been known to lend a writing hand a few times a year.  She showed me a picture of her and Nathan Fillion on her phone-so envious!

Season 1, Episode 1
March 9, 2009
*A modern-day soap about a
 hero who rises to become the
 king of his nation, based on the biblical story of King David.  
I wrote about this with keen interest awhile back here.

Viewings 2008

2008 marks the first year that I have successfully recorded all my movie viewings including those seen in the theatre and those on DVD.

Total Movies Watched: 106

Average Per Week: 2.04

Movies Watched Twice: X2: X-Men United, Iron Man, Speed Racer, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Wall-E, Hellboy, Hellboy II, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Movies Seen in Theatre: 27

Movies Seen at SIFF: 11

Complete Trilogies: The Lord of the Rings, Blade, Evil Dead

Partial Trilogies or Duologies: Conan, X-Men, Indiana Jones, Hellboy, The Mummy, Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, Star Wars Trilogy, Alien, Before Sunrise, Batman, The Chronicles of Narnia

Annual Tradition: A December viewing of all three extended editions of The Lord of The Rings

Television Shows on DVD:
Buffy Seasons 4-7
Battlestar Galactica Season 4
Angel Seasons 1-5
Six Feet Under Seasons 1-3
Dinosaurs Season 3
Nip/Tuck Seasons 5

Total Television Episodes (Approx.): 283

Worst Film of 2008:
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
The combination of a poorly cobbled together script-as was David Koepp’s task, a silly MacGuffin-the aliens, the addition of Indiana’s son-and the monkeys, the kitschy self-referential nostalgia and far too much CGI made this movie a major letdown, made even clearer on a second viewing.

Top 5 Films of 2008 (First Viewings):
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
The 3 Little Pigs
There Will Be Blood

Viewings 2008
* denotes theatrical viewing

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
There Will Be Blood*
Lost in Translation
Before Sunrise
Before Sunset
Strictly Ballroom The Nines
30 Days of Night
Knocked Up
Battlestar Galactica: Razor
Bee Movie
Stargate: Ark of Truth
Year of the Dog
Alien Resurrection
The Mist
The Life of David Gale
Gone Baby Gone
Dead Alive
End of Days
The Orphanage
Drop Dead Gorgeous
Iron Man*
Speed Racer*
Prince Caspian*

Seattle International Film Festival
May 22-June 14t
Battle in Seattle*
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull* (Non-SIFF)
Dream Boy*
The 3 Little Pigs*
Breakfast with Scot*
Casino Royale
Drop Dead Gorgeous
Savage Grace*
Young People Fucking*
You, the Living*
The Island of Lost Souls*
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh*
Bottle Shock*

The Incredible Hulk*
Primal Fear
Army of Darkness
Hellboy II: The Golden Army*
Total Recall
The Dark Knight*
X2: X-Men UnitedCharlie Bartlett
Evil Dead
Evil Dead II
The Savages
Fight Club
Blade II
The House Bunny*
Blade III
Knocked Up
The Phantom Menace
Revenge of the Sith
Justice League: The New Frontier
The Fifth Element
The Day After
Batman: Gotham Knight
Appleseed: Ex Machina
The Air I Breathe
Burn After Reading*
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Moulin Rouge!
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Quantum of Solace*
X2: X-Men United
Conan The Barbarian
Conan The Destroyer
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
X-Men: The Last Stand
Star Wars IV: A New Hope
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Mr. Bean's Holiday
Iron Man
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
The Break-Up
Speed Racer
Curious George
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Kung Fu Panda

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Blossoms

I got back to Seattle on New Years Eve just in time to run home, change, buy champagne and head over to a friend's house for a great pork roast dinner with potatoes, squash and caramelized onions accompanied by sparkling shiraz, rosés and French 75s. I'm still a bit jet-lagged and getting myself tired out by bringing in the New Year night after night has added to the fatigue-it's time for a break from the holiday season and a little bit of normalcy this month-and year-with the new job, new friends and academic prospects. Glad to be back "home."

Haiku time...still bringing out the haikus from my creative marathon a few weeks ago.

Do withered flowers
Fear being plucked? Or do they
Pine for human touch?

Artwork by yours truly, May '06