Sunday, November 8, 2009

Heart of Gold

It's gorgeous outside. I have multiple tasks to accomplish. And yet I can't bring myself to go anywhere or concentrate on any one thing. Damn you, inexplicable anxiety.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Portrait of My Weekend

Not because I am being dragged behind a chariot-though writing a paper can sometimes evoke a similar sensation-but because I've locked myself in my room to investigate the story of this man and his step-mother in my second paper of the semester: "Choice and Charm: A Comparative Analysis of Euripedes’ Hippolytus and Jean Racine’s Phaedra" for my class on models of dramatic structure.

Why does four pages sometimes feel like 40? Probably when you have to compare and contrast the political structures, moral world and character treatment all in one four page paper.

First paper of the semester successfully turned in on Thursday: "A Night with the Tsar: The Opening of the Moscow Art Theatre"

Thursday, October 8, 2009

No Homo.

Oh, you hip-hopsters, you. Always with the lingo trend-setting.

Are you terrified that people may think you're gay? No worries, hip hop has coined a phrase to get you out of the stickiest situations. Just throw in a "no homo" and you can say pretty much anything you want!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Tonight Show Vamps

With the popularity of vampires on the rise with True Blood, The Vampire Diaries and Twilight, Conan decides to get in on the brooding vampire craze with his hire of a new assistant, Cody Devereaux, b. 1589.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Caprica: Make a Choice

Six new posters were released today for the quasi-prequel series to Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, set 50 years before the downfall of mankind in the former show. My favorite image from the set:

To see the rest of the promotional art click here.

I'm really looking forward to this series. I thoroughly enjoyed the pilot episode that was released earlier this year. There are many different roads this show could take-but, then again a few of those roads must lead to Battlestar. And the talented Jane Espenson is Executive Producer on the show, so I have much faith in it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

She's Back! (Just Kidding)

Travel Writer, Judy Grimes returns in an SNL segment we all love-Just Kidding-I mean no, we do love it-just kidding, but it's awkward, just kidding, we like it because it's awkward, just kidding, because it's funny, just kidding. Watch it. Love it.

Coco avant Chanel

Last night I saw Coco avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel) at The Paris on W 58th St. It was my second movie in New York-the first being a preview screening of the overall disappointing Zombieland, save for a brilliant cameo midway through and a short but entertaining climax-but this was my first movie going with someone else!

Structurally Coco avant Chanel is a fairly typical biopic. I would have liked to see more direct correspondence between her maturing process, early interests and her career. I thought the transition from her life "before" her professional career began and her successful business was too abrupt. She's lingering in the sidelines, occasionally altering dresses, pushed aside by the people of higher class then all of a sudden, she's a very proud, confident women wearing pearls and making elegant hats. Then the film cuts to her making clothes and presenting them at a show at some later, unspecified time. Yes, the film is Coco before Chanel, but a greater sense of wholeness would have been appreciated.

The film lagged in some parts making myself wonder at times what the point of this all was. It's a problem when your audience becomes indifferent to your titular character, and perhaps a reason for that is I just didn't feel that Coco was a fully fleshed out character at all. The filmmakers and Audrey Tautou as Coco, have a very subdued take on Coco. She's quiet much of the film and Tautou just sits there with her half smile and dark, unblinking eyes. There were plenty of interesting characters in the film, I just kept losing interest in the main one. Adding to the film's pervasive dullness, the cinematography was rather mediocre throughout most of the film. There were a few standout shots especially those of Coco alone in her environment including some beautiful work at the end of the film with Coco sitting on a staircase surrounded by mirrors.

Despite being weak in narrative and overall impact, I would say it is worth seeing, but I'd recommend it for a mid-afternoon DVD viewing on a rainy day rather than a theatrical experience. The film actually piqued my interest enough to make me want to see the recent Shirley MacLaine made-for-tv-film, Coco Chanel. I would hope it is more uniquely structured and more able to convey Coco as a pioneering spirit...with a little more spirit.

Verdict: B-

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dollhouse 2.1 "Vows"

"Vows", was everything I wanted from the first episode of Dollhouse's second season. It delved right into the mythology of the show and didn't spend any time playing catch up. Speaking of catch up, if you haven't seen the first season or need a refresher, this is a great video to watch:

The episode was rich in plot, in fact both A and B plots were given equal screen time. I ended up caring more about the inner happenings of the Dollhouse than what was going on with Echo's engagement and I attribute that to Whedon's excellent use of Amy Acker in the episode. Acker is beginning production on ABC's Happy Town and is therefore unable to appear in more than three episodes this season. She was arguably given the best dialogue of the episode and I was with her every beat. She was definitely at her "best", bringing an intensity and unsettling nuance to the character we had not yet seen. I can't wait to see what else is done with her character.

I thought the episode had more in common tonally and structurally with the unaired pilot, "Echoes" (available on the Season One DVD) than the rest of the first season, which is absolutely a good thing. It is darker, more serious in nature and most importantly more intriguing. Each character interaction offered the audience more tangible reasons for following their stories. We care. The preview for next week's episode, "Instincts" seems to uphold these notions. Whedon has upped the stakes for this season and I expect great(er) things from the rest of season and series as a whole.

I appreciate the use of non-diegetic music in this episode, more so than in previous episodes. On the levels of lyrics and tone, I thought the following two songs worked particularly well. "Hazy" was played in the scene crosscutting Echo's wedding night with Jamie Bamber's character and Paul Ballard's cool and eery contemplation of Echo's actions. The latter, "The World" played as Topher sat alone on his bed pondering his creation, Sierra and Victor shared a moment and Dr. Saunders/Whiskey drove away-"running out" and having "[run] out of excuses."

"Hazy" (feat. William Fitzsimmons) by Rosi Golan on The Drifter and the Gypsy
Rosi Golan - The Drifter and the Gypsy - Hazy (feat. William Fitzsimmons)

What if I fall and hurt myself?
Would you know how to fix me
What if I went and lost myself?
Would you know where to find me
If I forgot who I am,
Would you please remind me oh?
Cause without you things go hazy

"The World" by Earlimart on Mentor Tormentor
Earlimart - Mentor Tormentor - The World

Oh, the world is all around us,
Have you noticed me?
Yeah, the world is all around us,
Now it's plain to see
That the world has overshadowed me.

Here is the preview for Dollhouse 2.2, "Instincts":

Friday, September 11, 2009

In Theatre

Beginning today, I will be maintaining a list of every theatrical event I attend here in New York in the sidebar of this blog. As the study and experience of theatre-the art and profession-comprise the primary reason for my presence in this city, it seems fitting that I should keep a record of my ventures into the world of performance. For two years now, I have kept a list of every film I attend or see via other means (DVD, streaming, etc.) and these films have continued to inform my conversations, academics and interests. I expect New York theatre to do that and more. See last year's film list here.

So, even if I find myself with little time to write extensively in this form as I navigate the challenges and demands of grad school, I will always keep these lists up to date. That way, in conjunction with my ever changing goodreads selections, the readers of this blog will be able to see, to an extent, what kinds of cultural conversations I may be having. And if you ever want to become more a part of those conversations, I would love to talk to you.

Friday, July 31, 2009

In Conversation

Kj and I are so pleased at the response we've been receiving toward our paper since we first distributed it amongst friends and colleagues then at the annual meeting of the Southwest Texas American Popular Culture Association where we shared it on a panel with several other academics in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy area of the conference, "Philosophy and Religion in the Whedonverse." Our original intent was to write a paper exploring a lesser-developed character in the Firefly series, Shepherd Book, through the text of Firefly and themes of identity, faith and fundamentalism. It soon became evident that this was a conversation we didn't want to have end at the conference.

This Monday we were able to strike up a dialogue once more with the help of Kj's place of scholarship, Mars Hill Graduate School-no relation to the church of the same name in Seattle. We hosted: "Theology.Psychology.Spaceships", an event comprised of a screening of the original pilot for Firefly, a presentation of our paper, "Not Very Christian of Me: The Escapist Faith of a Lost Shepherd" and discussion. The opportunity not only allowed us share our work with our community in Seattle but continue this valuable conversation. We are both very grateful for the support for the event, our paper, and the keen interest and passion with which our audiences have responded.

It's been just about one year since I received a call for papers for the SWTX PCA/ACA conference and approached Kj for a possible collaboration for what proved to be a greatly enjoyable endeavor. From entire days spent in coffee shops pondering the ins and outs of character and narrative, to four days of papers on popular culture, to "Theology.Psychology.Spaceships", we have had an incredible time. We look forward to hearing more of your questions, comments and ideas about topics we've brought forth here and others that arise from the rich worlds of Joss Whedon and other instances of culturally significant works of entertainment. Thank you for reading, watching, listening and asking. We hope to see you at the conference next year: February 10th-13th, 2010.

You can read "Not Very Christian of Me: The Escapist Faith of a Lost Shepherd in Joss Whedon's Firefly" here.

Kj's account of the year-long journey and presentation is here plus, that and more on her blog.

We'd love to hear from you via any number of conversational outlets including the comments board on Whedonesque.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Downey as Dandy

Robert Downey Jr. is looking particularly attractive in this new character poster for Sherlock Holmes set to hit theatres in December.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Dollhouse Season 1 on DVD

Dollhouse has been available for pre-order for several weeks, but yesterday, the covers for both the DVD and Blu-Ray releases of Season 1 were unveiled. Here is the cover for the DVD set:

The DVD has rapidly climbed Amazon's charts, now 5th on the site's "Movers & Shakers" jumping an incredible 139% in the past 24 hours alone. I am fine with the cover they chose-and the great tagline from TIME Magazine-but as I've been following the DVD release for Dollhouse this promotional image popped up which I wish had been more prevalent in advertising. I don't remember seeing it before now.

Dollhouse Season 1 will be released on July 28th. Click through to see how the orders will be charted and the information sent to 20th Century Fox and Fox Broadcasting Corp. Order a doll. Save the, Dollhouse.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

D9 Trailer

The teaser trailer for Neill Blomkamp's, District 9, has finally been revealed. I cannot wait to see this film.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

It Hurts So Good

If I wasn't already looking forward to another season of True Blood, this promo for Season 2 would certainly have helped. It does a really great job of interweaving hints about upcoming plot points and themes that were just beginning to surface by the end of Season 1.

Moving Away

May springs, cut kite strings
Cast my anchor far ahead.
Ship will follow suit.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Oh, that's sweet.

Sentimental dust
Variations in sugar
for sweet-toothed masses.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dollhouse: Case Files/ Testimonials

If there were a Dollhouse...

Edited from Dollhouse Episode 1.6 "Man On The Street

Dru Writes Too

DRUSILLA Are you lost?
BOY No. My mom's just supposed to pick me up is all.
DRUSILLA Do you want me to walk you home?
BOY No, thank you.
DRUSILLA My mummy used to sing me to sleep at night. Run and catch, run and catch, the lamb is caught in the blackberry patch...She had the sweetest voice. What will your mummy sing when they find your body?
BOY I'm not supposed to talk to people.
DRUSILLA Oh. Well, I'm not a person, see, so that's just...
ANGEL Run home.

Actress/director Juliet Landau, is co-writing Angel 24 and 25 with Brian Lynch two issues that will focus on her character, Drusilla from both Buffy and Angel fame. U.K. illustrator and Juliet's friend Sam Shearon created the above cover for issue 24, which I am quite fond of. Reminds me of some of Jo Chen's excellent artwork for Buffy Season 8. I love the way it suggests Dru's innocence on the left hand side, conveying her as someone beautiful to look at, but from a distance. On the right, her cage has been opened, and you see the inner demon. A simple image that is deliciously evocative. Via.

Speaking of Drusilla, who was given some of the most velvety, layered dialogue in the two series, I couldn't resist including these two sections of dialogue from the Season 2 episode of Buffy, "Lie to Me".

DRUSILLA You sing the sweetest little song. Won't you sing for me, hmm? Don't you love me anymore?...(to the bird) Come on. I'll pout...I'll give you a seed if you sing.
SPIKE The bird's dead, Dru. You left it in a cage, and you didn't feed it, and now it's all dead, just like the last one...Oh, I'm sorry baby. I'm a bad, rude man. I just don't like you goin' out, that's all. You are weak. Would you like a new bird? One that's not dead?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Yes, please.

The second season of True Blood begins June 14th.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Batman Undercover

Batman gets his scruff on in an autoportrait by photographer Sylvain Norget. I really like the retro feel of the portrait and I am surprised at how much I like Batman with a beard. Okay, maybe I'm not too surprised. He does kind of fit the bill... There are a number of other interesting galleries on his website including one for which he has gained some notoriety, The Naked Rabbit series. Intrigued? Yes, you should be.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: The Series

Boom! Studios has announced it will adapt Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? into a 24-issue maxi-series in graphic form. The series will bring the complete novel to comic book form and plans to present the story with panel-to-panel continuity and actual text from the novel. This adaptation will be extremely faithful to the novel representing a narrative far more complex than what was possible in the film Blade Runner.

The first issue will be released in June.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Emerald City ComiCon

I woke up around 8:00AM on Saturday morning after a late night out and it was only because of the beginning of Emerald City ComiCon that I was motivated enough to get out of bed. I knew I should arrive a bit early and thankfully the Washington State Convention Center is about a 5 minute walk downhill from my apartment. I figured there'd be a line, but I had no idea I'd be standing in it for nearly half an hour. This quickly proved itself to be a benefit in disguise.

Standing in the neat, zig-zagging line, I was able to assess a great many of my counterparts. I would certainly consider myself a fan, but I am not one to layer X-Men track jacket upon Spiderman button-up upon Watchmen-smiley-face-T-shirt or dress up in Jedi robes-(that said, I do own a double-bladed lightsaber). Emerald City ComiCon was, by the way, my first explicitly "fan" convention. As I looked around at the people around me, I realized the great diversity of fandom, in age, appearance, build, behavior and manner of dress-everyone from the sprite young Batmans and Robins, to the sultry Poison Ivys, Scarlet Witches and Princess Leias in her slave outfit(some of which should not have been wearing the latter costume), to one sweet older woman in a wheelchair dressed as a Jedi Knight. Families were present too and one family dressed their daughter up as the gold-plated robot from Doctor Who, and the result was adorable.

I had arrived at about 9:45 and as the clock ticked closer to 10:00 when they would officially open the doors-though I would end up waiting another 20 minutes or so to get in-the elevators directly to my left opened. Do you ever look around in a room where you don't expect to see anyone you know and then suddenly your eyes lock on a familiar face and a rush of relief comes over you? Well, that happened to me, except that I really didn't know who I saw, but the faces were unmistakable. Aaron Douglas, Tahmoh Penikett and Michael Hogan standing a few feet away. They walked right by into the convention hall and that was when I got really excited.

When I walked into the grandiose space, I had no idea where to start. Booths stretched ahead, to the left and right for hundreds of yards. I meandered for a bit and I stopped suddenly at the booth of artist John Tyler Christopher. I eventually purchased this print that had caught my eye, one of The White Queen aka Emma Frost from X-Men. It was also the catalyst for a weekend-long creative dialogue as I ended up bringing every friend I encountered at the convention to look at Christopher's artwork. I told him how much I liked the print and how Frost lends herself so well the use of negative space and that led into a conversation about how I still wasn't convinced I felt "like I should be there" as it was so different from any conference I had been to previously. He said that, like the attendees of the ComiCon, artists too are split between those that create and show popular art because it is simply "cool" and those that are more passionate and have a vested interested in the subject matter and artistic influences of their work. Christopher, for example, is heavily influenced by Alphonse Mucha and various mythological sources. Much of his work has an Art Nouveau flair, but he also has images that are viscerally striking like his prints he did as a personal project on the seven deadly sins-grotesque, yes, but with an underlying understanding of spirituality and the human condition. When I mentioned my most recent presentation at the Southwest Texas American and Popular Culture Association, he asked if he could read the paper so I was delighted to send a copy a few days later. I look forward to hearing what he has to say.

Right next to Christopher's table was that of Georges Jeanty, artist on the Buffy Season 8 comics. He pencils and creates an alternate cover for almost every issue. Since it was still early in the day, there were not too many people around his table, so I was able to engage him on a number of points about the production of a comic book. I didn't realize, for one, that for mainstream comics, artists produce their layouts on an 11x17 scale. Georges had a sizable stack of original penciled and inked pages from the comics that were available for purchase at $100 each-a little steep for me, but they were stunning, despite not being colored. I did however, get Georges to sign a copy of an issue of Buffy and include an original head sketch on one of his sketchbooks for me. I asked for Willow. He was very nice and touched on the work that goes on between the writer and artist and it sounds like a very organic process. I brought up the fact that I mentioned in my Columbia interview how much I would love to work with Jane Espenson one day and he then talked to me extensively about his work with her, specifically regarding her upcoming 5-issue story arc surrounding the character of Oz. He exchanges emails with PDFs and JPEGs of his work and phone calls with her on a daily basis. The script he receives for the comic book is very similar to a television script and the creation of an issue is extremely collaborative with ideas being constantly exchanged. He'll draw little thumbnails in the margins of the script, map out some layouts and scan them so Jane can make comments. According to Georges, Jane is incredibly warm and unassuming. He explained how Joss is much like that too and because he surrounds himself with such talented and caring individuals, every team he creates is solid creatively and socially.

From Georges' table it was just a few steps away to Jewel "Kaylee" Staite's signing table, so I coughed up the fee and had her sign a copy of my Firefly Visual Companion: Volume 1, which I spent a great deal of time with when working on my Firefly paper. "For Ian: Stay Shiny! Jewel Staite." I admit I was a little giddy, so I kind of awkwardly scampered off after she signed my book-and I didn't want to hold up the people behind me. She was absolutely gorgeous and most friendly.

Later that day, I attended the following panels:

A look at the movies of 2009-2012 with a special segment on the latest news on the status of many Super Hero movies. Plus a Q&A with host Gareth Von Kallenbach, syndicated film reviewer & radio personality

At this panel, I may have scored a free Watchmen t-shirt, thus clenching my rightful status as a fan at the Con.

Director of publicity Jeremy Atkins, along with Senior Managing Editor Scott Allie, present an exclusive preview of all that Dark Horse has to offer in the coming year. With breaking news on all of your favorite Dark Horse titles, and exciting new projects to be announced, be the first to know about everything from heroes to horror.

During the Q&A, I asked Scott Allie what the future of the Buffy comics held as far as the number of issues for Season 8 as well as the potential for Season 9. He said Season 8 has been locked in at a full 40 issues-we are currently on #24 as I write this-and Season 9 is definitely a go after a hiatus when 8 wraps up. Later I got Scott Allie's autograph on the first trade paperback of Season 8, "The Long Way Home."

Upon walking into the conference hall the next day, the first people I see are Tahmoh Penikett and Michael Hogan. In the flesh, talking to 2 or 3 people beside the front door. My peripheral vision blurred for about 10 seconds as I beelined my way to shake their hands. They said hello and were on their way to their autograph tables.

Sunday afternoon's panels were fantastic:

The show is over, but questions still remain. Join three of the most popular BSG cast members, Tahmoh Penikett ("Helo"), Aaron Douglas ("Chief Tyrol") and Michael Hogan ("Colonel Tigh") for this great Q&A session!

There was a massive line even a half hour before the scheduled start time, so Mecque, Randy, Blake and I were not sure we'd make it in to get a seat. We did by about 20+ people. Aaron Douglas, Tahmoh Penikett and Michael Hogan were all present. Michael said little overall, though he did give us a classic "Fraaaaakk!" on cue. Tahmoh is just as collected, admirable and strong as his two characters, Helo on BSG and Paul Ballard on Dollhouse. He carried himself very well. And who knew Aaron was such a joker? Aaron was making cracks at every turn-reminding me that this was a "fan" convention, deviating from the more serious, analytical and creative tone I wish the panel had taken. Still, it was great to see these actors and hear them discuss the merits of each other-especially Michael's acting chops in addition to praising other actors in the show, notably Edward "Eddie" James Olmos and Mary McDonnell, who sounds like one of the most beautiful, talented women on the planet.

Join Mike Mignola as we discusses his career, his famous creation Hellboy and much more. Moderated by Hellboy editor Scott Allie.

This was actually one of the most informative panels of the weekend. One of the most interesting aspects of the discussion concerned Mike Mignola's diverse influences and research sources. I paraphrase Mike here, "I would say that about 80% of my books remained unopened, that is to say, opened past the Table of Contents. I look at that page and say, 'Oh, wow, that's like 32 Hellboy stories!'" As a dramaturg and research enthusiast, I'm fascinated by that sort of approach to intertextual storytelling. He and Scott also gave a few pointers to those individuals pursuing university programs in the creative arts. The rundown: a) you can't depend on your teachers to provide you with all the tools and guidance you need b) be specific about what you want to do creatively c) get to know people d) be dedicated and driven.

Wil Wheaton (Author, Actor, Gamer, Geek, Blogger, Raconteur) invites you to get your geek on during this hour-long Q&A. There may or may not be punch and pie (most likely not).

Perhaps the most enjoyable hour and a half of the Con. Wil Wheaton is so much more than a figurehead for geek culture though that is a role at which he excells with humor and humility. "I don't use 'nerds' pejoratively. I use it awesomeatively." -Wil Wheaton. My friend Mecque had the opportunity to ask Wheaton the very last question of the panel-one that stemmed from a tweet wilw had sent a couple days before wherein he wished he had answered a question differently in an interview. Mecque asked that very same question again and this time Wheaton was ready. "What do you do with a twenty-sided die?" Wheaton beamed, pausing while the audience erupted in applause. "Everything."

I would say other than the two great conversations I had with John Christopher and Georges Jeanty and the encounters with celebrities, one of the best things about the whole show was the amazing artistry that was represented by all the exhibitors. The entire show room was full of talented individuals who illustrate in a wide stylistic range using an array of creative tools from digital Wacom tablets, colored pencil, collage techniques to 3 or or 4 different types of ink pens. By the end of the show on Sunday, I had acquired three striking 11x17 colored prints, each featuring-entirely by chance-a woman in some stylized representation, the first being the Emma Frost print, the second a dark sunset above a silhouette of a woman whose hair twists up into the black clouds by an artist from Vancouver, and the third, seen here, by writer and artist, Stuart Sayger, who told me that he couldn't decide between penning a horror comic or a romance. From this Shiver in the Dark was born, an evocative, sensual gothic horror with a beautiful woman at its center.

This weekend was my first and probably my last Emerald City ComiCon as I move to the other side of the country later this summer, but it will certainly not be my last ComiCon. Yesterday, I started putting a few future events of the same genre in my calendar. Boston ComiCon October 24th-25th, 2009 and New York ComiCon October 8-19, 2010 are a couple of them I hope to attend as an art enthuiast, dramaturg, writer, creative thinker, collaborator, academic and of course, a fan.

Monday, April 6, 2009

"How to Receive a Fax"

The other day, we learned about misleading out-of-office replies. Today's topic is on "How To Receive a Fax." I'm used to getting calls or having people ask about how to send a fax. "Do I dial 9 to get out?" "Do I put it face down or face up?" and that sort of thing. Today someone called me about receiving a fax. On the rare occasion that I am faxed, I wait for it to be put in my box, or if I know when it's coming, I wait until it prints.

The following conversation took place between myself and a client in a business-office type setting:

How will I know the fax is for me?
Me: Um...ask your party to put a cover sheet with your name on it.
Client: How do I keep it private?
Me: Well, you can have them put a cover sheet with it in addition to putting your name on it. Or wait for it to come out.
Client: What if someone takes it?
Me: Um...have them put your name on it.

Or take it first because you're standing right in front of the machine.

Also, I would also be open to offering a tutorial on "How To Leave Voicemails that A) Don't take three times to listen to in order to get all the info B) Don't take five minutes to listen to in the first place C) Don't exist-ie. email me."

In related news, the usefulness of voicemail is fading according to The New York Times. I tend to agree.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Out-of-Office Reply

This is a real out-of-office reply I just received from someone whose last day with my company was earlier this week.

"I will be out of the office starting 04/02/2009 and will not return until 01/01/2014."

Okay, I guess, uh...I'll just leave a voicemail.

Locker Room Haiku

Grim Reaper tattoo
Shirt tucked in tighty whities
Tell me, who are you?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hitler on Watchmen

Hitler weighs in on the changed ending of Watchmen. I really have no words to describe the brilliance of this gem.

"A Watchmen movie was a very bad idea...I should have believed Stalin."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wonder Woman (2009)

I just finished watching the direct-to-DVD Wonder Woman film released about a week ago and I was really pleased with the experience. It features the voices of Keri Russell, in her first animated role, as Wonder Woman and everyone's favorite captain, Nathan Fillion as Captain Steve Trevor and Alfred Molina as the God of War, Ares and several other notable actors and voice talent.

This is Lauren Montgomery's second time sitting in the director's chair for a superhero movie and having a female director for Wonder Woman translates quite well here. From quippy dialogue, to a gag with Diana hitting a mythological creature with a high heel, to the interwoven themes of sisterhood and womanhood, Wonder Woman is incredibly relevant while being entertaining. While on the whole, the film should be considered "lighter fare"-it should please comic book fans and the casual viewer alike-this is an animated film that does not shy away from adult material; it depicts violence when appropriate and directly confronts misogyny and what it means to be a woman in this world.

The film presents Wonder Woman as not just a warrior for justice or peace, like other traditional superheroes, but as an ambassador for the female sex, one who understands the need for balance between man and woman in the sphere of a relationship in addition to a global scale. She is the catalyst for the Amazonians realization that their isolated, hidden island in the Aegean sea is not paradise without the mixed challenges and joys of the "outside" and ignorance of the importance of a global perspective is not bliss. Eden did not last, nor can the Amazonian's mystical island of Themyscira with its populace having gained experiential knowledge of good and evil.

Friday, March 27, 2009

My Hero

The Hero Factory might be one of the most fun things you do all day. Countless combinations of virtually every aspect of your hero's appearance are possible. Now if they just let you order a custom action figure of your original creation...that would be cool.

Emerald City ComiCon

Emerald City ComiCon is just one week away! I've been meaning to go for a few years now, but I've almost always had to work weekends. This year, I'm fully embracing my inner geek-as if I don't do that often enough as it is-and bought a ticket to attend both days of the event, Saturday and Sunday April 4th & 5th.

The program guide was just released earlier this week with the above X-Men-in-Seattle cover by Dennis Calero.

Right now I am most looking forward to:

Seeing Jewel "Kaylee" Staite from Firefly and Serenity.

Attending the Dark Horse Comics panel with editor Scott Allie (hopefully there will be some fun Buffy comic announcements-Buffy Season 9 perhaps?!)

Going to a Battlestar Galactica panel featuring Tahmoh Penikett ("Helo"), Aaron Douglas ("Chief Tyrol") and Michael Hogan ("Colonel Tigh")

And potentially greeting newly voted Secretary for Geek Affairs, Wil Wheaton at his Q&A on Sunday afternoon.

Other exciting guests and presentations include appearances by Georges Jeanty-artist on the Buffy Season 8 comics, Mike Mignola-creator of Hellboy, and Ray Park-who played Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace, Toad in X-Men and Snake Eyes in the upcoming G.I Joe film.

Show hours are: Saturday, April 4th 10:00am - 6:00pm and Sunday, April 5th 10:00am - 5:00pm. A two-day pass costs $25, a one day ticket is $15.

If you're going to Emerald City ComiCon next weekend and would like to meet up, let me know! I'd love to geek out together.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Dark Passenger

I've been enjoying Dexter, more than I thought I would. The season one finale caught me off guard with a haunting reveal, further delving into what the definition of justice is and what drives us to seek it. The question is not "how far would you go?" but "when you go that far, where does that put you?" Who does it make you and can it change you as much as the world around you? Even with saying that, you have to ask, how much the world is changed. A few dozen corpses in your wake, dropped in the ocean outside of Miami. What does it matter?

The second season episode, "An Inconvenient Lie", contains one of the most mesmerizing conversations in the show so far featuring a direct, acute assessment of Dexter's deeply engrained motivations. It takes place between Dexter and an attendee of a Narcotics Anonymous group, Lila Tournay.

There’s no way that I could know what you’ve experienced right?

I couldn’t possibly fill that need.

Like a thousand hiding voices whispering, “this is who you are.”

And you fight the pressure. The growing need rising like a wave. Prickling and teasing and prodding to be fed. But the whispering gets louder until it’s screaming, “now!” And it’s the only voice you hear.

The only voice you want to hear.

And you belong to it.

To this shadow self.

To this...

...dark passenger.

Yes.  The dark passenger.

I immediately thought of Simon & Garfunkel's, "Sound of Silence" and its reference to the "darkness" as a proximate comfort and silence that festers within the human heart. It was probably close to my mind after seeing Watchmen again. A nice moment of intertextuality.

Hello darkness, my old friend,
Ive come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.

The song closes with the words:

...whispered in the sounds of silence.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Låt den rätte komma in

In the process of considering this movie for the best film I have seen so far this year, after relishing in its sublime nature over the weekend. I want to keep holding it in a little longer before letting my breath out.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Star Wars Figure to Complete My Collection

I have been doing a lot of packing the past few weekends to prepare for my two upcoming moves, one next month just up the street to a friend's house in order to save some money on rent until I make the second move to New York in early to mid August. I am always surprised at how many boxes of Star Wars merchandise I have when I move-and that's only the items I have here in the states. There is a Millenium Falcon or two, a TIE-Fighter, X-Wing and even more figures with all their little accessories and figure stands-unless they're still in their original packing-at my parents house in France. Hey-I saw that look! Thank goodness for their ample attic space. I have all the major characters, except this one:
...the most important figure of all-a "force" if you will, without which Star Wars wouldn't even be possible! I'm impressed; they really nailed the likeness on this one. Via /Film.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

SWTX PCA/ACA Conversation

Photos from our panel, Philosophy and Religion in the Whedonverse, at this year's SWTX PCA/ACA Conference in Albuquerque.

Prior to the event, Kj and I were mildly concerned that technology would somehow deny us the ability to show our audio/visual presentation, which we put many hours into, but the A/V set-up went smoothly and people really enjoyed those elements.

From left to right, Alyson Buckman, Panel Chair from California State University, Mike Richardson, author of The Existential Joss Whedon: Evil and Human Freedom in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Serenity, Katie Kohn from The European Graduate School, Kj Swanson, my friend and co-author, and myself.

Another shot of our panel. Upon entering a panel, either as a presenter or audience member, you never how well the respective papers will jive on an ideological level. Thankfully our papers worked so well together with many ideas in direct conversation with each other.

We had a really great turnout for our panel and our audience had lots of intriguing things to say. We were quite pleased with how the Q&A went at the end.

In fact, the chair of the religion section of the conference, Dr. Wes Bergen, invited us out to dinner after the following panel he was overseeing. That panel was one of the highlights of the conference placing us square at the intersection of popular/postmodern culture and theology. In addition to a Catholic perspective on Monty Python's Life of Brian, one of the presentations was on the origin narrative of religions as seen through Science-Fiction literature. Dr. Davis, who gave that talk is actually working on representations of Christianity in Sci-Fi, so later at dinner with the religion panelists, Kj asked her if she'd be willing to read our paper since it deals with that subject precisely. We sent her a copy and I'm glad to say Dr. Davis is excited about the dialogue. I look forward to hearing more of her reactions and ideas that sprung from reading our work.

Kj and I hope to continue the conversation and if you'd like to read the full, 35-page paper, let us know and we'll send you a copy. After seven months of writing and research and the conference, we're excited to expand the dialogue surrounding our work beyond that short but significant post-panel discussion. We'd also love to receive feedback as we look forward to preparing our paper for journal-submission in the coming months.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wild Things

The newly released poster for Spike Jonze's film adaptation of the classic children's book, Where the Wild Things Are. The film, featuring James Gandolfini, Catherine O'Hara and Forest Whitaker, is set to be released on October 16th of this year after a myriad of production delays.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

All of the boys and all of the girls

...are begging to if you seek Amy.

Looking Forward potentially sitting next to James Franco in a class at Columbia University as one of his classmates did the other day...although I think he graduates this year.

Yesterday afternoon, I was accepted to the MFA in Dramaturgy program in the Theatre Division at Columbia University! So many things to do and consider in preparation and there will be some big changes, but I expect most of those to be exciting ones.

The Future of Reading

Via Penny Arcade.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jo Chen Gives Life to Vampires

Jo Chen's covers for the Buffy Season 8 comics have been some of the best in the series. They are warm, rich, detailed and textured. She uses light extremely well, and it is always appropriate for every subject and subject matter. The characters she paints have weight, body, movement and life. One of my favorite paintings she has done for Buffy was the one on the third issue of the series seen here.

Her work is just shy of photo-realistic, stylized enough to be suitable for a comic book cover, but worthy of framing as art in its own right-of course, there is a plethora of fantastic comic book art out there that I would and have put on my wall. Chen's latest piece is not for Buffy Season 8 but for an upcoming Tales of the Vampire one-shot, written by Becky Cloonan and Vasilis Lolos. Five years ago, there was a 12-issue Tales of the Vampires series written by Whedon himself and several other Buffy scribes including Jane Espenson and Drew Goddard. Amber Benson wrote a story for another Buffyverse collection, Tales of the Slayers. Each series, now collected in trade paperbacks, takes a vampire or slayer from the 'verse timeline and centers a story around that given character while connecting it to a larger narrative.

Jo Chen's stunning cover for the new Tales of the Vampire story followed by a brief plot description from Dark Horse's press release:

In a small town in Massachusetts, a young man named Jacob goes about his day as usual-wakes early, eats breakfast with his mom, and heads to school. He's a hard worker and a reliable friend to Alexia, an athletic and headstrong young woman. But at night Jacob likes to cut loose at the local arcade, where he's befriended a reckless gang of vampires who enjoy drinking his blood. Jacob craves the high and the easy escape from the monotony of his life that this "bloodletting" provides. Enter the mysterious and sultry May, who can help Jacob leave those high-school days behind-that is, if Alexia doesn't stop her first.

Blood and pomegranates. Always a good combination in my book. Tales of the Vampire comes out on June 3rd.

Welcome to my Blogroll

After reading his review of Watchmen, noting the presence of a C.S. Lewis quote in the sidebar and coming across a post entitled "Ewoks: A Hunter's Guide", I immediately included a link to Electronic Cerebrectomy: Notes on Pop Culture at the End of Western Civilization in my list of favorite blogs. Check it out if for nothing else other than some witty-sometimes odd-pop culture commentary and the aforementioned list chronicling the blogger's greatest Ewok slayings which include our friendly but "rather rash" Wicket below. A fair warning, some images on his blog as a whole are unfortunately not safe for work-but the links included here are clean.

Wicket Wystri Warrick (aka Buckskin Jack, aca Chupacabra)
He may look cute, but don't let the looks deceive you. Too many have. He played an integral role in the death of Cindel Towani, a little girl who lost her family in the woods and was taken in by Wicket and his family of human-eating sickos. Inspired by the Ed Gein murders, the Warrick family liked to make clothing from the skin of their victims. Wicket was the first of many ewoks I've been forced to slay in the name of safety and in conjunction with the US Parks Department.

Monday, March 9, 2009

This is ATilla...

...someone's new family pet. See more here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Of Dexter

When I came back from New Mexico and my short but remarkable trip to New York City, I had the first disc of the first season of Dexter waiting for me in my mail-(I am caught up on Weeds on DVD which has been fantastic and exactly what I wanted it to be).

I had read some time prior that Dexter is considered a sympathetic serial killer, but I don't think I've gotten to that emotional crux on my part. A few episodes in, I feel more numb than anything else and that could be exactly what the show is trying to do at the beginning, numb you, then slowly prick you until you start to regain feeling-albeit in a different manner. If there is one character I am most sympathetic for at this point, it is Julie Benz as Dexter's girlfriend-if you can call her that-of whom, in the pilot episode, Dexter says is

"the right woman for me. Deb saved her life on a domestic dispute call, introduced us and we've been dating for six months now. It's perfect because Rita, is, in her own way, as damaged as me."

Synder's Golden Rules

In honor of the premiere of Watchmen, today (or last night depending if you went to a midnight screening)-I have my tickets for 8:00PM this evening!-I thought I'd post Director Zack Snyder's "Golden Rules" of filmmaking that he recently gave in an online article earlier this week.

1. There are No Rules.
Every job, every story, every shot is different. And each time you do it, it’s like doing it for the first time

2. The Will to Suffer.
This is a phrase I got from my friend Marc Twight. He used it in reference to mountain climbing, saying that the person who can endure the most pain will be the one who succeeds in the end. That applies to moviemaking as well.

3. Your Point of View.
It’s the thing that is not right, not wrong. It’s the thing that can’t be put into a technical box. It’s the tone and texture of a story. It’s the individual way of looking at things that makes us different. It’s why we go to the movies.

4. Storyboard.
Storyboards are not for everyone. As a matter of fact, I think some movies would be seriously damaged by the storyboarding process. But for me, it is how I make a movie; it is how I structure a scene. It’s not a shot list, it is an edited sequence. And although it can all change later, it is a good place to start.

5. Movies are Pictures.
For me, visual style has the same importance as story, as character and as the environment. In the end, a movie is a series of pictures and I try to be aware of that at all times.

6. Respect.
Respect the material, respect the process, respect the audience and, most of all, respect the countless incredible people who work their asses off helping you to bring your vision to the screen. Everyone has immeasurable value when it comes to making a movie, so never take it for granted.

7. Throw things.
Not at people, just for fun. On the set this means: Football, tennis ball, rock, ball of tape—basically any object, it doesn’t matter. Then throw: To a person, at an orange cone, into a distant trash can… again, doesn’t matter. At least for me, any version of throwing shit makes even the shortest break relaxing.

8. I Still Shoot Film.
I always shoot film, then move into the digital pipeline. I’ll be the first to admit that the future of moviemaking will be led by advances in digital technology. But the reality is there is just something about film that digital cameras still can’t replicate. Call me a purist, but it’s just how I feel.

9. Passion.
It is almost impossible to duplicate your original passion for a project late in the process. But if you can recall the feeling of that original spark of excitement, you’ll be able to keep your creative ferocity throughout the long haul.

10. Shoot Every Shot.
It goes back to what I was saying about point of view. This is not to say that a second unit director wouldn’t shoot it better, but doing it yourself keeps the tone consistent.

Via MovieMaker.

And if you missed it, check out my previous post on Writing with Whedon 101.

Go see Watchmen this weekend, then pick up the book, then watch it again next week and then watch the 3 hour 20 minute Director's Cut in July!

Thursday, March 5, 2009


I am always interested in the repurposing and reimagining of cultural artifacts, so I was thrilled to see the following graphic designs for the covers of all seven Harry Potter novels done in the style of Penguin Classics. I like the way these pieces and those after the link from another artist remain literal, yet are somehow more evocative and poignant than the original drawings and designs made for each artistic work. These images generate a greater sense of intrigue about the material contained in the media they represent.

The rest of M.S. Corley's redesigns for the Harry Potter books, those for His Dark Materials trilogy, The Spiderwick Chronicles and yes, Pac-Man, can be found on his blog.

Also, check out another retro-infused project that I came across a few months ago by Olly Moss,Eight Films in Black and Red. I am quite fond of the mock poster for The Last Crusade and The Dark Knight, which recalls the excellent animated series during the 90s.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


4 days from Wednesday through Saturday, 100s of people, a handful of concurrent panel sessions from 8:00am-7:00pm every day, new ideas, countless conversations and good company. A bunch of scholars, teachers, professors and general academics sharing their work and investment in popular culture, gathered together under one roof in the middle of the desert. It was an amazing experience-one that is a little hard to believe actually happened!

Children’s and Young Adult Literature and Culture I
Across the Harry Potter Universe

Science Fiction and Fantasy III
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and the Whedonverse

Science Fiction and Fantasy IV
“Feel Good Imperialism:” Gender, Race, and Colonialism in Star Trek

Experimental Writing and Aesthetics I
Extratextual: The Alchemy of Interdisciplinary Writings

Science Fiction and Fantasy V*
Philosophy and Religion in the Whedonverse

*This panel included our own presentation entitled: “Not Very Christian of Me”: The Escapist Faith of a Lost Shepherd in Joss Whedon’s Firefly

Religion I
Crossing Boundaries
Evangelicals and the Mass Media, The Genesis of Religion in Speculative Fiction, Jack Miles and Futurama, The Gospel According to Monty Python

Chick Lit. I
Chick Lit. I
Rowling vs. Meyer: Taking a Bite (or Two) Out of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Series
Gender and Consumerism in Indian Chick Lit

Science Fiction and Fantasy IX
Metaphorical Mythology in the Whedonverse

Film Adaptation V
A Novelist’s Perspective on Literature-to-Film Adaptations

Science Fiction and Fantasy X
Christian Metaphors and Superman, Terminators and Time Machines, Passing Anxieties in 1950s Science Fiction

Myth and Fairy Tale VII
Subversions of Juvenile Narrative, Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth in Alice and Coraline, Neo-Metaphysics, Role Reversal in Greek and Christian Mythology

Science Fiction and Fantasy
Double Feature: Once More with Feeling and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

Graphic Novels, Comics and Popular Culture VI
Power of Names in Superhero Comics, A Taxonomy of Graphic Sex, Grand Narrative and Narratives in Watchmen

Myth and Fairy Tale VIII

Intergenic Translation in Disney’s Animated Classics, Rebel Traditions in Pan’s Labyrinth, Sexual (R)evolution of “Little Red Riding Hood” in Film

Science Fiction and Fantasy XIII
Maturity and Sexuality in the Whedonverse

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

SWTX PCA/ACA Conference

I am off to Albuquerque, NM to present a paper on fundamentalism and the loss of self in Firefly focusing on the character of Shepherd Book. Kj and I would be more than happy to share the paper with anybody who would like to read it, in fact we would appreciate any feedback. There's always the thought that we will go to a journal to try and get it published. We're really proud of it and looking forward to present on Thursday.

From Albuquerque, I will be flying to New York for an interview at Columbia University for the MFA in Dramaturgy program within the Theatre division. So, there is much to be excited about this week!

With all the preparation I've been doing for the trip, I haven't had time to sit down and post my thoughts on the second episode of Dollhouse "The Target", but I will be sure to do so as soon as I can. I want to watch it again to pick up things I may not have caught the first time. In short, I liked it even though it followed the structure of "The Most Dangerous Game" to a predictable degree. While I liked the back story depicted in this episode, I wanted to linger for a little while longer in the mystery of it all. I can't say I wasn't on the edge of my seat though and again, the episode made me anxious for more.