The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Transformers: Meh

So, I just watched the first three episodes of "Transformers: Prime." Meh.

It's amazing, usually these things are pretty divisive. I even knew people who were defending "Revenge of the Fallen" when that came out. But this? NOBODY I know online has something nice to say about this show. It's not even met with hatred, just general meh-ness and disinterest.

Okay, I like Josh Keaton. He brings a lot of energy to his character.

I also like Steve Blum, but I wish Blum had better material to work with. Starscream is too... LOYAL. "Animated" solved the problem with G1 Megatron and Screamer's relationship by having him betray Megs ONCE, in the first episode, and SUCCEED, and then kept them apart for as long as possible until Megatron killed him.

Prime's solution? Just not have him be remotely treacherous. The problem there is that treachery IS Starscream. That's all he has. Treachery and narcissism. PrimeScream is just... Igor to Megatron's Frankenstein.

The thing about these CG cartoons, is they can't really do as much as cel-animated shows, due to limited animation budgets. You get a dozen or so character models and a few backgrounds to play with, so the character writing had to be STELLAR. "Beast Wars" was. This... is not. Transformers seems to work best when Hasbro just hands the toys to professional writers and says "go nuts."

I asked my friends to describe the personalities of ANY of the main characters of Prime. They couldn't. All Optimus Prime himself does is provide exposition. OVERLY DRAMATIC exposition. Remember when Peter Cullen didn't deliver every line like it was the Revelation of St. John? Soundwave is a non-character. Bumblebee is a non-character. Congratulations, you just wasted two of the most recognizable characters in the franchise.

The whole affair reminds me of those bland GI Joe CGI mini-movies Hasbro made years back. It's an extended commercial that doesn't know how to pretend to be more than a commercial.

It's sad, really. But this is what happens when people who make toys try their hands at making a show. You get a bland commodity made to appeal to as many people as possible. Constructing a story from their product without any real understanding of what storytelling is.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Young Justice

Well, what do you know? This is my one hundredth entry. Appropriate that it is about Greg Weisman's newest TV series.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge fan of Greg Weisman's work. "Gargoyles" is my all time favorite TV series; I adored "The Spectacular Spider-Man;" I was quite fond of the second season of "W.I.T.C.H.;" and the freelance scripts he wrote for shows like "Men In Black" and "Buzz Lightyear of Star Command" were always fun.

Okay, I really hated "Max Steel" and couldn't watch more than one episode, but that show had all sorts of behind the scenes problems that were not his fault. And sadly, "Roughnecks: Star Ship Troopers Chronicles" never aired in my area, so I've never really seen it. But, overall, Greg Weisman is responsible for high quality television. So, I was greatly anticipating his newest series, "Young Justice."

"Young Justice" is loosely based on a DC Comics title by the same name, but draws from many other sources. It focuses on a group of sidekicks (but don't call them that) who band together to become a covert ops team connected to the Justice League. The stars of the show are Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Superboy, Miss Martian, and Artemis. Although, we have yet to meet Artemis and only briefly met Miss Martian.

The theme of the first season is "secrets and lies" and this is very apparent within the pilot already. The Justice League is keeping secrets from the members of Young Justice... which was enough to piss off Speedy, and get him to storm off. And Project Cadmus was keeping secrets from the rest of the world.

I love a good mystery, and we've got one set up with a shadowy organization called The Light, who were behind Project Cadmus. Although, I am somewhat reminded of the Illuminati from "Gargoyles" (Hmm... Light - illuminated - Illuminati) and the Council of Thirteen of the Guild of Calamitous Intent in "The Venture Bros." although, I highly doubt Davie Bowie is L-1.

The writing and dialogue are very sharp, and considering the pilot was penned by Mr. Weisman himself, that was to be expected. The animation is very strong, and I kept wondering what their budget was, because it looks great. The voice acting was also phenomenal, which is to be expected from any series voice directed by Jamie Thomason.

This series has just about everything going for it, and already, in my mind, blew the competition out of the water. Yes, I enjoy "The Avengers - Earth's Mightiest Heroes" quite a bit, but the quality of that show just doesn't compare to the quality of "Young Justice." The funny thing about that is that outside of Batman, and some Vertigo comics, I have no attachment to DC Comics at all. I've always been a Marvel reader. But Marvel has never had animated series as good as DC's, with the exception of "The Spectacular Spider-Man" which was just as great as "Batman the Animated Series." But then, look at who the mastermind behind Spidey was.

I give the pilot of "Young Justice" a solid five stars. It also left me intrigued enough to come back for more when the series really gets going in January.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nancy Botwin

Weird timing after my last post, what with my discussing misogynistic comic book readers. Now I am going to discuss the utter hatred I've been seeing for Nancy Botwin, the flawed protagonist of "Weeds."

Nancy Botwin is the widow of Judah Botwin, and a single mother struggling to raise her children and maintain their upper-middle-class lifestyle. To do this she becomes a marijuana dealer. That's the premise of "Weeds" in a nutshell.

Nancy, herself, is something you don't often see on television and something that is practically unheard of on network television. She is a flawed mother. A very flawed mother. She is definitely a loving mother, but she makes mistakes. A lot of mistakes, and being a drug dealer is just the tip of the iceberg. Over the course of the series, her actions put her family in mortal danger on several occasions. Silas starts helping her deal and gets beaten up by bikers; Shane gets shot in the arm because of a hit put out on Nancy; and in the sixth season, they are on the run from both the F.B.I. and a powerful Mexican drug cartel.

Season six is also about Nancy doing everything in her power to protect her family. Sure, if she had handled things better and didn't panic, the events of season six would never have unfolded, but this is still a woman who loves her kids. And, at the climax of the season, we see her make a huge sacrifice for the sake of her family.

On top of all of this, I have never seen such hate thrown at a fictional TV character. Some of the comments are staggering. She is often called selfish; and yes, she can be. They say she dresses like a whore; no, not really, but she definitely doesn't dress conservatively. She is accused of not giving a damn about her family; she does, she does, she just makes poor choices. She's even been called evil; no, not by any definition of the word.

At the same time, Nancy Botwin's critics will turn around and reap mountains of praise on Mafia figure and crime boss, Tony Soprano. Tony was a neglectful father at best. A lousy husband; constantly cheating on his wife, Carmella, with any woman he ever looked at. He was involved in serious crimes, including ordering deaths like you or I would order a Big Mac, as well as committing murders himself.

Nancy Botwin put herself at risk to rat out a tunnel the Mexican cartel was using for human trafficking. Tony Soprano was once given a chance to turn state's witness to protect his family and didn't... he became Boss of the DiMeo Family instead. Nancy never murdered anybody.

Nancy Botwin is a lot of things, several of them horrible, but she is not Tony Soprano. So why is Nancy reviled while Tony is beloved? Because society in all of its double standards holds women to different standards than men, and places mothers on a pedestal that fathers are not on. Take your Homer Simpsons, your Peter Griffins, your Archie Bunkers, and look at their better parent, voice of reason wives. How many bad television mothers can you name? Peggy Bundy is one of the very few that comes to mind.

No question that Nancy is flawed and yes, deserving of some of the scorn she receives. But Tony Soprano and his ilk should not be celebrated in the same breath.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Misogynous Comic Book Readers...

Some times I shouldn't read the internet.

Sadly, I have noticed a lot of hate directed at female comic book characters. No, not all of them. But just the ones that are sexually active and not in committed relationships.

Most recently, I've seen a lot of hatred for the character of Jessica Jones. For those who don't know, Jessica Jones was one of Brian Michael Bendis' better additions to the Marvel Universe. She was the protagonist of a Marvel MAX series called "Alias," a series for the seventeen and older crowd. And in that series, she was sexually active with both Luke Cage and Scott Lang. In the first issue she has anal sex with Luke Cage, and we learn later on that she becomes pregnant with his child. But after that one night stand, she dates Scott Lang for a little while. Eventually Jessica and Luke get together, and their child is born. They get married after the child's birth. The baby is born out of wedlock.

And apparently too many comic book fans still live in the 19th century. Guess what people who don't care for the character focus on? That's right, the anal sex, the one night stand, and they call her a "Baby Mama."

If they don't like the character, that's fine. But their comments about her expose a bitter hatred for women. I don't see male characters in comic books held to these standards. Hell, I don't see Luke Cage getting any hate for being sexually active and having one night stands.

Jessica Jones is not the only example. Let's take a look back at Gwen Stacy. A few years ago we learned that she had a one night stand with Norman Osborn, and then became pregnant via that one night stand. And the reaction that got... you would think the Virgin Mary was desecrated.

Never mind that when the tryst happened, Peter and Gwen were broken up; never mind that Norman Osborn had just saved her life from the Kingpin; never mind that Norman Osborn had amnesia at the time and didn't remember being the Green Goblin; never mind that both were in a very vulnerable state at the encounter; and never mind Gwen's daddy issues. All of a sudden Gwen became a slut, a whore, a terrible person. Why? Because she had sex.

Did I mention nobody hates Peter Parker for having a one night stand with Betty Brant when Betty was still married to Ned Leeds?

There is also Emma Frost, who has easily slept with half the Marvel Universe (okay, that's an exaggeration), and is currently in a committed relationship with Scott Summers of the X-Men. The two had an affair while Jean Grey was still alive, and then hooked up for good after Jean died. Okay, I will admit, that is pretty damn tasteless. But no one hates Scott Summers for it.

Scott was in love with Jean Grey for years. Then she died, and he married and had a child with a woman who looked just like her, and then when Jean returned from the grave, he ran out on his wife and child to be with her. Nobody hates Scott Summers for this. Why not? I suspect it's because he has a penis.

And, I'll never forget all the hate Shayera got in "Justice League Unlimited" after she had sex with Hawkman on their first date. Why? What is so offensive to people?

The thing of it is, there is nothing wrong with being sexually active. There is nothing wrong with being promiscuous. I would like to see more comic book characters who have open relationships, or are even swingers and not be treated as deviants. We don't live in the 19th century anymore, and there is nothing wrong with these lifestyles. There are great people in them.

But, more than that, I am sick of this poorly disguised hatred for women in the halls of comic book fandom. Is this because the stereotype is true and most comic book fans can't get laid? Well, I don't think the fact that they read comics is the problem.

Nobody hates James Bond for being sexually active.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Why Do I Love Jon Stewart?

The thing that continually impresses me about Jon Stewart is that profound respect for his guests. Even when he disagrees with them. Especially when he disagrees with them even. While the segments have an edge, when folks sit in the chair across from him, there is a respect paid to them, even if what they've said and done are in some cases neigh indefensible.

What folks don't seem to get is that it's the hackery and the punditry that IS the problem. The push for narrative and advance an agenda, as opposed to coming up with real solutions is what drives Stewart to comment with such verve. It's to expose the hypocrisy of the moment, and then move on to the next. That there are so damn many targets is part and parcel of the problem.

It's sad when a comedian has to be the one who takes up the reins to expose hacks and partisan cheerleaders who pretend that they're journalists. The adversarial model of shows like "Crossfire" are part of the problem, the idea that two sides are equal and opposite is rubbish. I can argue until I'm blue in the face that rape is an acceptable practice, and I'm never going to be in the right. Shows like it, and the pundits who appear on them could bring insight into the process, and insight into the debate, but instead, there is more often than not simply an expansion of talking points that are designed to obfuscate the real argument. They produce Sturm und Drang, but little substance. And that is really the point. If we had a real discussion about health care in this country, we could come to a consensus fairly quickly on what would service the population, and get doctor's paid. Instead, we have a vast machine that is dedicated to keeping middle men in the thick of things, and a butt load of cash changing hands on both sides of the aisle to hide that. If we had a real discussion about violence in this country, we would see that folks on both sides of the aisle are worried about the safety of their families, and the issue of crime is one about safety. Instead, we have a manufactured issue like "Gun Control" that draws off resources and attention, when at the heart of that debate is one about crime and safety. But that isn't the kind of discussion that leads to ratings. It might lead to solutions, and there is the real rub.

We don't want solutions. Or rather, our politicians don't want solutions, and neither does the media, because solutions mean an end to things. That means an end to funding for programs that politicians can point to that bring cash to their districts or states, or clients, and if we had a real solution, that funding would dry up, and they'd have to find a new issue, and actually work at solving that one as well, since they'd done so wonderfully with the previous. People might even begin to expect issues to be solved. Not managed. And managing problems is far more lucrative, it wields continuing power. The media is far more complicit with the managing of these issues, because that is continued sales for papers, it means you can assign a reporter to cover an issue, and call it a beat. It makes classifying and ordering up stories far easier.

We have now, a very much symbiotic relationship with the media and those in power. In the Bush years it became even more naked and out in the open with access only being granted to folks that could be relied upon to give stories that the Administration liked. And harsh criticism if folks actually used public words against them, which is a continuing theme for many folks who apparently don't understand that you can't copyright your speeches when you give them at rallies and in public. It is an attempt to manage the media even further, and the "Lamestream Media" narrative is nothing more than an outright attempt to circumvent the role of the Fourth Estate. Some feel that the role of the media is to essentially be a point for PR, and nothing more. Journalism is falling to the wayside for punditry and editorials that are written and managed by campaigns, as opposed to questioning folks on their positions, and investigating their actual motivations and actions.

Jon is someone who gets that we have entered dark country in journalism as well as politics, since the two have merged to the point that William Randolph Hearst only dreamed of. And as a comedian, he has greater latitude than many journalists today, since the producers and editors who actually run their shows and their presses are often actively working to keep narrative alive, over actual reporting and journalism.

We don't need more press releases disguised as "interviews" or "editorials." We need real journalism, and it is sad that a guy whose best movie role was in "Half Baked" is now considered one of the more trusted voices in the news, because he's under no obligation to deliver narrative, only to be funny, and his brand of funny is exposing exactly how absurd things are.

That he tends to skewer folks who are chock full of glowing hypocrisy doesn't reduce the absurdity of the whole mess, or that there are folks in the Fourth Estate who are actively complicit. Funny, but doesn't reduce how screwed up thing are. That he can be funny, and perform a service that other media outlets aren't, does he piss some folks off? Yup, but maybe if they weren't being so damn stupid, they wouldn't be made fun of.

Stop being dumbasses and you won't be made fun of. Simple as that.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jon Stewart's Speech.

I can’t control what people think this was. I can only tell you my intentions. This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith or people of activism or to look down our noses at the heartland or passionate argument or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are and we do. But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus and not be enemies.

But unfortunately one of our main tools in delineating the two broke. The country’s 24 hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems but it’s existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold it’s magnifying up to our problems bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous flaming ant epidemic.

If we amplify everything we hear nothing. There are terrorists and racists and Stalinist and theocrats but those are titles that must be earned. You must have the resume. Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Partiers or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez is an insult, not only to those people but to the racists themselves who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate. Just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe not more. The press is our immune system. If we overreact to everything we actually get sicker and perhaps eczema.

And yet with that being said I feel good—strangely, calmly good. Because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false. It is us through a fun house mirror and not the good kind that makes you look slim in the waist and maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead and an ass shaped like a month old pumpkin and one eyeball.

So, why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle to a pumpkin assed forehead eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true of course our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable. Why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution or racists and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own? We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is—on the brink of catastrophe—torn by polarizing hate and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done, but the truth is we do. We work together to get things done every damn day!

The only place we don’t is here or on cable TV. But Americans don’t live here or on cable TV. Where we live our values and principles form the foundation that sustains us while we get things done not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done. Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, Liberals or Conservatives. Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do—often something that they do not want to do—butthey do it. Impossible things every day that are only made possible by the little reasonable compromises that we all make.

Look on the screen this is where we are this is who we are. (points to the Jumbotron screen which show traffic merging into a tunnel). These cars—that’s a schoolteacher who probably thinks his taxes are too high. He’s going to work. There’s another car-a woman with two small kids who can’t really think about anything else right now. There’s another car swinging I don’t even know if you can see it—the lady’s in the NRA. She loves Oprah. There’s another car—an investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah. Another car’s a Latino carpenter. Another car a fundamentalist vacuum salesman. Atheist obstetrician. Mormon Jay-Z fan. But this is us. Every one of the cars that you see is filled with individuals of strong belief and principles they hold dear—often principles and beliefs in direct opposition to their fellow travelers.

And yet these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one by one into a mile long 30 foot wide tunnel carved underneath a might river. Carved, by the way, by people who I’m sure had their differences. And they do it. Concession by conscession. You go. Then I’ll go. You go then I’ll go. You go then I’ll goOh my God, is that an NRA sticker on your car? Is that an Obama sticker on your car? Well, that’s okay—you go and then I’ll go.

And sure, at some point there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder and cuts in at the last minute, but that individual is rare and he is scorned and not hired as an analyst.

Because we know instinctively as a people that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light we have to work together and the truth is, there will always be darkness. And sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land.

Sometimes it’s just New Jersey. But we do it anyway, together.

If you want to know why I’m here and want I want from you I can only assure you this: you have already given it to me. You’re presence was what I wanted.

Sanity will always be and has always been in the eye of the beholder. To see you here today and the kind of people that you are has restored mine. Thank you."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Get a Life Or Kill Yourself

What is this blog about? Mostly media and pop culture. Film; television; comic books; all that good stuff. Sometimes you will even see entries about the people involved in production of all this.

However, what you will never see here is gossip. So, here is an entry about the type of people who seek gossip.

Do you care about the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie/Jennifer Aniston triangle? Then you're an idiot.

Do you care about who Paris Hilton is snorting coke with? Shut the hell up.

Does Bristol Palin's on again, off again with her Playgirl Baby Daddy just fascinate you? I hope you fall into a bucket of AIDS and crack your head open.

Does Miley Cyrus' parents getting a divorce interest you at all? KILL YOURSELF!

None of this is news. None of this is even entertainment news. And the fact that this shit sells is a stain on our society. What does it say about us as a culture that the Enquirer sells more copies than Time Magazine?

Every time I am on line at the supermarket, and I see one of these soccer moms reading the tabloids intently to find out who Kim Kardasian is sleeping with, I want to take a sledgehammer to their fucking skull and end them.

Get a fucking life, or commit suicide.

I don't think the personal lives of celebrities and their families are our business anymore than the personal lives of your neighbors down the street, or a small random family in Delaware. Is the personal life of your mailman something you follow?

If one is going to follow news regularly, I kindly suggest you follow local, state, national, and global politics. The kind of things that influence and directly affect all of our lives. We live in a world where celebrity gossip magazines outsell Time Magazine, and I am appalled by that fact.

If the lives of people doing "high profile" projects interest you, then instead of following the personal life of Snooki,* why don't you donate some money to soldiers fighting oversees? Each and every single one of them is more important than any of these poor excuses for entertainers.

Get a life, or kill yourself!

* By the way, I don't actually know who or what Snooki is, and I take great pride in that.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

And the Green Goblin is?

For decades a story has passed through Marvel and comic book fandom that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko split because neither one of them could agree on the true identity of the Green Goblin. After Ditko left, and John Romita Sr. came on board, the Green Goblin
was unmasked as industrialist and chemist, Norman Osborn.


John Romita later said:

Stan wouldn’t have been able to stand it if Ditko did the story and didn't reveal that the Green Goblin was Norman Osborn. I didn't know there was any doubt about Osborn being the Goblin. I didn't know that Ditko had just been setting Osborn up as a straw dog. I just accepted the fact that it was going to be Norman Osborn when we plotted it. I had been following the last couple of issues and didn't think there was really much mystery about it. Looking back, I doubt the Goblin's identity would have been revealed in Amazing #39 if Ditko had stayed on.

The rumor was that Steve Ditko wanted the Green Goblin to be a random mook, because in real life it's not always "the butler" who did it. Just like the recent resolution of the Crime Master story.


Later on came the rumor that Ditko was setting someone up near J. Jonah Jameson to be the Green Goblin, and a popular theory was Ned Leeds... oh, the irony on that one.

Recently, Steve Ditko came out and settled this rumor once and for all. In Robin Snyder's "THE COMICS" Vol. 20, No. 3 [March 2009] there's a two page essay written by Steve Ditko titled "The Ever Unwilling", in which he mentions the Green Goblin. Here are the relevant extracts:

"So certainly, the GG [Green Goblin] could hardly be any reason for me quitting Marvel"

"Now digest this: I knew from Day One, from the first GG story, who the GG would be... I planted him in J. Jonah Jameson's businessman's club." [prior issues of the newsletter had a contest to identify all the planted appearances of the character]

"I planted the GG's son (same distinct hair style) in the college issues..." [referring here to Harry Osborn]

So, after forty years, this urban legend has finally been laid to rest. Norman Osborn is the Green Goblin, always has been the Green Goblin and always will be the Green Goblin. He was conceived that way after all.


As for why Steve Ditko and Stan Lee really split up, I cannot even begin to speculate there. Except that I believe the answer is a lot more mundane and complicated than any urban legend could be. But even I always believed that a talented guy like Steve Ditko leaving Marvel over the secret identity of one character was something too absurd to be real.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Transformers: The Dark Side Of The Moon

So, that's the title of the new "Transformers" movie that Michael Bay is imposing on us. "The Dark Side Of The Moon." I wish Pink Floyd could sue over this.

Allow me, if you will, to post what will likely be an entirely accurate synopsis of this movie.

* Shia Laboof's life moves forward. Nobody cares.
* The government are dicks to Autobots for no reason.
* The Decepticons are led by a returning Megatron AND another guy who was a badass in the comics but will most likely die like a bitch in the movie.
* They launch random attacks so Bay can masturbate furiously to giant robot carnage, and this causes the government to be even bigger dicks and betray the Autobots.
* The soldiers from the first movie GO ROGUE to help them, Shia Laboof and his love interest beat the Decepticons to the ancient MacGuffin that's never been mentioned before but was hidden on or near Earth thousands of years ago in the most convoluted interplanetary history retcon yet.

Oh, there's one new thing though. NASCAR robots made by the military. Because when I think of the US Armed Forces, I think NASCAR. My prediction: they're going to be redneck stereotypes in an attempt to "counterbalance" the ghetto stereotypes in RoTF, and be just as obnoxiously retarded. Think Cartman in tonight's new "South Park" episode, but as a robot.

Freedom of Speech & Rick Sanchez

For those of you who say that this is a Freedom of Speech issue, I strongly disagree. In any corporation in America, if you sit around your lunch room and say “My boss is a jerk”, you will get fired. Rick Sanchez has freedom of speech. No one hauled him off to prison for his remarks. No one censored him. Freedom of speech means that you can say whatever you want. It doesn’t mean that there are never any consequences for what you say.

Secondly, to those of you who say, “Jews do control the media. He was telling the truth. What’s the problem with telling the truth?”, here is my problem with that statement. It has to do with the word “Control.” If you say, “Jews are disproportionately represented in the media given their percentage of the population”, then I have absolutely no problem with that statement. It is certainly true. But the problem is, by saying that Jews “control” the media, you are implying that Jews are not simply a group of people who have a common heritage and religion, you are implying that they are group that works together and has some kind of master plan to control the media. You are also implying that Jews are not really Americans, they are some kind of foreign or insidious group who uses the media for their own nefarious purposes.

And finally, and most importantly, you are being racist, because you are saying that it does indeed matter what someone’s ethnic background and religion is. If the majority of people in the media were Christians that would be a non-issue, and I’m sure it’s the case that in most industries the majority of the people in power are Christians. But you never hear the statement that “The Christians control the dairy industry.” So basically by making it an issue that Jews “control” the media, you’re saying that it’s fine if Christians dominate an industry, but that it is bad or something to be remarked upon that Jews dominate an industry.

Why should it matter that a lot of people whose ancestors came from Eastern Europe and are Jewish work in the media? I think the implication is that Jews don’t share our American values, and that they are up to something. They are controlling us with their pro-Zionist, pro-gay, leftist, Anti-American values. And that’s why I think it’s objectionable to say that “Jews control the media”, because you are implying that Jews are outsiders who are not loyal Americans, who might have their own agenda and who aren’t good old normal folk. Also, it’s the same argument that has been used time and time again over the centuries to persecute Jews.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Boardwalk Empire

I finally watched the pilot of "Boardwalk Empire." I am very happy to say that this one lives up to the hype.

The series is set in Atlantic City, in 1920, as prohibition becomes the law of the land. Steve Buscemi plays Enoch "Nucky" Thompson (based on the historical Enoch "Nucky" Johnson), a corrupt politician who sees profit in bringing forbidden fruit to Atlantic City. And, in his eloquent words "keeping it as wet as a mermaid's twat."

The series was created by Terence Winter, who wrote about twenty episodes of "The Sopranos," including the famous "Pine Barrens" episode. And he's done his research. I was particularly delighted with an appearance by a young Al Capone, when he was just a thug before he became the most famous crook in America.

The acting was strong, the script lively, and they spent $20 million on the pilot alone. It looked and felt like 1920.

The pilot was also directed by Martin Scorsese, who is probably my favorite movie director. I have no idea if he'll be back to do more. But let's see how the series holds up without Scorsese. But, in the spirit of gambling, I am prepared to gamble with this statement:

This is the best new show of the season. I wish it a long run. HBO already renewed it for a second season, so I cannot wait to see what happens.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Movies that I consider worthwhile

I don't know why I did this. But I was recently asked what movies I consider worthwhile. Now, I know for a fact that the person who asked won't check most of them out, because he is more than a bit of a troglodyte. But, I may as well re-post the list here in the hopes that it will be helpful to somebody.

The Godfather
The Godfather Part II
Pulp Fiction
Citizen Kane
Reservoir Dogs
Bonnie and Clyde
There Will Be Blood
The Lord of the Rings
Lost In Translation
A Clockwork Orange
The Last Temptation of Christ
Richard III (the Ian McKellan version)
True Romance
Annie Hall
The Big Lebowski
The Shining
Sleeping Beauty
The Dark Knight
The Usual Suspects
The Departed
Kill Bill
Raging Bull
Taxi Driver
The Silence of the Lambs
Gangs of New York
The Maltese Falcon
The Shawshank Redemption
The Dreamers
Batman Begins
Raiders of the Lost Ark
On the Waterfront
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
All About Eve
Sunset Boulevard
Moholland Drive
Lost Highway
Blue Velvet
The Royal Tenenbaums
Inglourious Basterds
Harold and Maude
High Fidelity
Sid and Nancy
Die Hard
Lawrence of Arabia
Shaun of the Dead
No Country For Old Men
The Hurt Locker
Chasing Amy
Marathon Man
Dr. Strangelove
Star Wars
The Empire Strikes Back
American Beauty
In the Heat of the Night

Friday, September 24, 2010

Harlan Ellison (1934 - Sadly, sometime very soon)

No, he's not dead yet. But he believes he will be soon. This weekend is his last convention appearance ever. Here's an interview with him on the subject:

Harlan is simultaneously the last living grandmaster of the Golden Age of science fiction, and the rebellious Young Turk who almost singlehandedly brought down the Golden Age and created the Next Wave.

He was Issac Asimov's best friend, and the spiritual father of William Gibson and the entire cyber-punk genre.

He was probably the finest TV critic of the 1970s, and in my opinion his short story "Collection The Deathbird Stories" is one of the best written, and darkest, things I have ever read.

He is deserving of recognition as one of the US' great literary masters, and he will NEVER get that since he is a "sci-fi " author.

As a science fiction fan, not reading Ellison is a sin on the order of having never read any Asimov, Heinlein, or Anderson (Poul not Kevin). It probably won't earn you eternal damnation, but its still not something you'd want to admit outloud in a group of geeks

I've never met him in person, but after reading his body of work and seeing his struggles over the years, I can only defend the man thusly:

1. His overarching message is that writers are, aside from directors and a few actors of quality, responsible for the creative process in Hollywood and the written arts. They are also among the most poorly paid, lied to, double crossed and unappreciated members of this limited group. He's worked in print, TV and film and has in most cases a reason for his attitude. I do agree being a short, cantankerous type from the get-go has not helped him.

2. Creativity breeds smugness. This is nothing new. When you've won as many awards as he has in the industry, you develop a certain arrogance, and in the face of people who have a good dose of "I Don't Give A Shit Who You Are," the smugness is even more palpable because he's trying to win a battle of competing egos.

3. Ellison is incredibly smart and hates dumb questions, and above all people wasting his time. Ellison is known for his distaste of watered-down literary classics which are the staple of standard education, and I am sure he would give any number of alternate examples of better fiction that can and should be taught in high school and college. Listening to him, he has a great deal of contempt for how dumb our society is on many levels, not the least of which is a cultural illiteracy and a lack of appreciation for good writing (see point #1).

He will be missed along with Asimov, Heinlein and Bradbury (may he live long) as one of the giants of fantasy/alternative literature. It's selfish of me, but I do hope Harlan hangs in there a while longer. Once he's gone, the universe will be just a bit poorer for his loss.

And if there is a Heaven, let us hope that Issac Asimov will hold Gene Roddenberry down so Harlan can beat the shit out of him.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I cannot wait until that kid is the next Leif Garrett.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

"The Rally to Restore Sanity"

Long time no update, but that doesn't mean I am dead. Just been busy. I am usually quite loathe to get into politics on this blog, but I am making an exception in this case.

Last Thursday, Jon Stewart announced his plans to hold a rally on October 30th, 2010, on the national mall in Washington DC. The Rally to Restore Sanity, as he called it. Basically, it's a rally for those of us who aren't angry and shouting, and think painting a Hitler mustache on Barack Obama or George W. Bush is stupid.

I don't believe Barack Obama is a secret Muslim socialist, and I don't believe George W. Bush allowed the terrorist attacks of September 11th to happen just so Halliburton can get richer. Nor do I think Obama, Bush, or Clinton were our worst presidents ever... everyone knows that was Warren G. Harding. Well, everybody who reads.

I believed the Tea Party started out as a good idea, because I am against these bail outs also, but it became a weapon of the crazies. I despise both Keith Olbermann and Glenn Beck. I believe that Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN all lie. Rush Limbaugh and Randi Rhodes are hurting the country with their rhetoric. I like John McCain and hate Sarah Palin.

I am your average, progressive, moderate libertarian. And I mean a real libertarian, not one of these ultra right conservatives who call themselves a libertarian because "Republican" is a dirty word.

Now, I am a huge fan of Jon Stewart. I don't always agree with his politics, but this is a guy who doesn't bullshit, and who is more bipartisan than people on either side give him credit for. So, I was delighted when he announced his Rally to Restore Sanity. I was also delighted when his protégé, and faux foe, Stephen Colbert announced his competing March to Keep Fear Alive.

Right now, I have every intention of attending. A day in Washington D.C. on the national mall could be fun. I always wanted to attend a political rally, but there have been so few I could support. Well, restoring sanity and moderation is something I do support. And it might give me some hope that our political system isn't beyond saving.

So, mark your calendars. October 30th, 2010. The national mall. Bring cookies!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Something Stupid

This sucks, and is more than a little dumb, but I wrote this up years ago, and found it while going through my old folders.

How "Seinfeld" should have ended....


November 10th, 1995.
42nd Street, Manhattan.

The streets of Manhattan roared with the sound of car horns as cars stood still waiting for a chance to move. Traffic was at a full stop, but the sidewalks were packed as people left work for home or other commitments. It was in front of one electronics store that four annoying New Yorkers whose only company could stand them was each other stood.

"Can you believe this? Jerry Seinfeld whined as he noticed the televisions in the window. "This crap has been playing all day today, non-stop on every channel."

Jerry motioned towards the TVs, where the visage of a blue skinned, red-headed woman, with pointed hears and a gold tiara was chanting in Latin. "Omnes conspecti, omnes auditi In nocte usque ad saxum commutate Dum caelum ardeat!"

"I know," his childhood friend, George Costanza snorted. "I woke up today to my mother screaming because she couldn't watch 'Maury.' I spent most of the day watching this."

Elaine Benes rolled her eyes, "most of the day?"

"What do you expect me to do? I'm unemployed."

"Oh, I don't know," the woman mocked. "Look for a job. I'm sure there are plenty of temp agencies open." She paused, changing the subject. "This is actually my first time seeing this. Some of us actually work for a living."

"Hey," Jerry snapped. "I'm a comedian, I work."

"Writing jokes between stand-up gigs is not work," Elaine shot back.

"I tell you, Jerry, something weird is going on." Kramer said, taking his attention off the woman on the television for the first time. "My friend, Bob Sackamento told me he's seen gargoyles, and now this witch thing is on the TV. I suspect a connection."

"Oh, Kramer, don't tell me you believe that crap about real life gargoyles in New York. Look at her," Jerry yelled. "That make up is so fake, she looks like she stepped off the set of 'Star Trek'."

"It's the end of days, Jerry." Kramer said. "The Mayans predicted all this. In seventeen years, the world is going to end."

"Look at her," George said. "I can see it in her eyes. This woman hates me. I find her irresistible."

"Omnes conspecti, omnes auditi In nocte usque ad saxum commutate Dum caelum ardeat!"

Jerry looked at his watch, "well, if we hurry, we can make it to the next showing of that new Jim Carrey movie."

"You're going to see the "Ace Ventura" sequel?" Elaine said, feigning shock.

"Well, better than spending the rest of the evening watching the blue vulcan here." Jerry replied. "You coming?"

"No, thanks," Elaine replied. "I've got a date with Puddy." She looked at her watch. "Which I am going to be late for if I don't...."

The sun set, and the four New Yorkers, along with everyone else on the street petrified, transforming from flesh and blood to stone statues.

Moments later, a winged figure landed on the street. She took in the statues and smirked, like an arrogant artist admiring her own work. Unhooking the mace from her belt, she approached the four statues standing in front of the TVs, and raised the weapon above her head before bringing it down hard.

The End.


I have it on good authority that the cast of "Friends" is two blocks away, and Demona will get to them within twenty minutes. Raymond Barone fell down a flight of stairs and shattered after his bitch of a wife refused to have sex with him. Paul and Jamie Buchman met their untimely demise on a subway train that crashed.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I finally finished "W.I.T.C.H." I will admit, season one (while it did pleasantly surprise me) was a chore to get through. It took me several days. On the other hand, I watched the entire second season in less than twenty-four hours. And not to kiss his ass, but Weisman's just that good. ;)

I'll confess, I skipped the show when it first aired because of, well... sigh... I'm sure you can guess. The premise just seemed way, way, way too girly.

I mean, look at this:

Then I remembered how I defended "Spectacular Spider-Man" from all the people who didn't want to watch it because of the animation style, and if "Gargoyles" taught me one thing it was not to judge a book by its cover.

I was originally going to skip the first season because I heard it was a bit of a mess and jump into the second season. But a few people, including Greg Weisman, told me to watch the first season, or else I would have been lost watching the second season. I can honestly say that they were right.

I think my big issue with the first season was the pacing, I think that particular story could have been told in thirteen episodes instead of being stretched out over twenty-six. It just felt very repetitive, and I got sick of seeing them constantly kick Cedric's ass. He lost all sense of menace pretty quick.

Season two, well, like I said, I watched it in less than twenty-four hours. I finished "Z Is For Zenith" less than an hour before I began typing this. I think I'll start with the large cast, which seems to be a feature in every series you produce. I don't feel like anybody got the short end of the stick. Will, being the lead, of course got the most time. Everyone else was well balanced also. Casts this big can be pretty hard to juggle. Five main characters, and so many supporting characters, recurring characters, villains, etc.

Irma was probably my favorite of the Guardians. She just had so much spunk. A huge sense of humor. I enjoyed how she often seemed like she would be the most fun to hang out with, but at the same time, probably the meanest when she was in a bad mood. Cornelia at her worst has nothing on a pissed off Irma. Very scary. God help you if you push her to anger. I've known people like that in real life, but I find that TV seldom ever does it well. So I have to commend a series that can take someone so likable and make them nasty without losing their likability. The theme of the season seemed to be growing up. Hay-Lin and Taranee change and grow the most this season. Cornelia does well too, learning to be a better sister to Lillian. Will growing in her powers, as a leader, in her relationship with her parents, and their new love interests, and in her own relationship with Matt.

Ironically, Irma seems to change the least over the course of the season, but that's okay, because she still got a lot of characterization.

Surprising nobody, my favorite character in the series was Nerissa. She always kept me guessing. Going through the series for the second time, I could really see her master plan and all the pipe-laying for her. I probably shouldn't mention season one, but I paid much more attention to Trill this time, as well as the Mage. Nerissa just seemed to be everywhere, pulling everybody's strings. I liked the twist that she wasn't really out for vengeance, which is a twist that made sense. Watching it the first time, I asked myself why would she want to avenge Phobos, she wasn't there. Well, she was, but you know what I mean. The Knights were all a distraction, and the second time, that seemed much more obvious. But I enjoyed how cold and intelligent she was. She was always scheming; always Machiavellian; and two steps ahead of everyone; all the while carrying around a mountain of repressed guilt. I once described her to a friend with the following words: "imagine if Xanatos and Demona had a baby together, that child would be Nerissa." She reminded me quite a bit of Demona at times... mostly the notion of her being unable to accept responsibility for Cassidy's death. And, not to sound like a pervert, but I couldn't help but read some subtext into Nerissa and Cass being lovers (her line "You don't know what Cassidy meant to me" waved a big red flag in my face). I thought Kath Soucie did a magnificent job.

I must also say that the twist that Nerissa was Caleb's mother was brilliant. As I understand it, this was not the case I the original comic book. But I enjoyed it; I thought it worked quite well. It also made things even more chilling in that, when you think about it, she essentially raped Julian. Rape by deception is still rape, and that's not something you see often in a cartoon. It almost reminds me of Merlin helping Uther deceive Igraine in order to create King Arthur.

And then there was Prince Phobos. It's impossible to discuss what was done with him in the second season without talking about the first. I thought he was pretty one note throughout the first season, but season two did something far different with him, and you really felt how this guy could have held the entire world of Meridian under his control for so long.

I felt the same way about Lord Cedric, he got old really fast in the first season, and when he finally gets out of his cell in season two, he's not doing much that he didn't do in the first season until what had to be the shock moment of the entire season. I won't say anymore, but it was nice to see a character I thought so poorly of get that moment. What inspired that twist, I wonder.

The Shagon mini-arc was very well done too. It seems to be a theme in Weisman produced shows to have a character change into something else, all under the control of a villain. David Xanatos turned Derek Maza into Talon; the Green Goblin turned Mark Allan into Molten Man; and Nerissa turns Matt into Shagon. What I also enjoy is just how different each of these scenarios really are. Shagon was a nice personal antagonist towards Will. As I understand it, this is another case where the TV series deviated from the comics for the better. Turning Matt into Shagon just gives that character a lot more chemistry with our heroes than he otherwise would have had.

Would I have liked to see a third season? Sure. But aside from the mystery of who this new teacher was, I thought it was all wrapped up very well, and didn't leave me "needing" to see more the same way "Gargoyles" and "Spectacular Spider-Man" did. It was great television, and I'm sorry I didn't get to see it when it was originally airing. It's not a series I would have watched if Greg Weisman's name wasn't on it, but I enjoyed it a lot. It's good TV, and it was a lot of fun. I'm sorry it took me so long to get past the pixie wings and watch it.
Two more things to note:

1. Will's dad traded down. Will's mom is a total MILF. Nerissa was pretty damn hot once she was de-hagged also.

2. Brenda and Marco made me smile. ;)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's funny because it's true.


Surely, the nerd gods shall punish me for my hubris.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Role reversing Mary Jane

When Mary Jane Watson was first introduced by Stan Lee and John Romita, she was a fun, hip, extroverted party girl. She just wanted to have a good time, and wasn't interested in committing to anyone. She was the "bad" girl in contrast to the wholesome good girl, Gwen Stacy.

When Gwen died, Peter Parker and Mary Jane's innocence died with her. Both of them matured, and over time became stronger people. We learned that behind Mary Jane's party girl facade was a woman escaping from her own inner demons. Eventually, she and Peter committed, then broke up, then committed, proposed, broke up, proposed again, were married, sold their marriage to the devil. You get the idea.

Now, let's look at how Mary Jane was adapted across the various adaptations of Spider-Man.

Mary Jane debuted in the 1990's series, in a manner similar to her first appearance in the comics. "Face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot." But, the similarities between her and when Stan and John created her end there. This Mary Jane was the good girl, who wanted to be in a relationship with Peter. Felicia Hardy flirted with Peter, but wouldn't commit to him. Mary Jane was role reversed. She was given Gwen Stacy's personality, while Felicia was the spicier of the two woman. Eventually, Mary Jane even fell off a bridge (and into a dimensional portal) in a battle with the Green Goblin... a fate that belonged to Gwen Stacy (minus the portal). She never returned, but a trend began.

Mary Jane's next significant appearance was in the Spider-Man movies, where she was played by Kirsten Dunst. In this adaption, Mary Jane was the girl Peter loved since the second grade, but from afar. Mary Jane wasn't a party girl, and wanted a stable relationship. First from Harry, then from peter, then from John Jameson, before finally ending up with Peter. But, once again, she was given Gwen Stacy's personality.

Then, when "Spider-Man 3" hit, Gwen Stacy appeared in the movie, and ironically, she had a lot more in common with Stan and John's Mary Jane Watson than the Mary Jane of the movies did. The two of them were role reversed. This is even funnier when you realize that in real life, Kirsten Dunst is blond and Bryce Dallas Howard is a redhead.

While this was all going on, "Ultimate Spider-Man" was on the shelves, and Mary Jane was the shy science geek and book worm, and Gwen Stacy the cool, extrovert. The irony is now so thick, you could eat it with a spoon.

Then "The Spectacular Spider-Man" hit the airwaves, and Mary Jane did not show up until the end of episode six, prompting many to wonder where she was, and almost as many to fear she would not be in the series. Of course, to the fans familiar with the comics, they knew exactly what was going on. Mary Jane debuted with her infamous "Face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot" straight out of Stan and John's comics. But, unlike the 90's cartoon, the similarities did NOT end there for once.

Spectacular's Mary Jane was the party girl who did not want to be tied down with anyone, who went on a date with Peter, and stayed friends with him before briefly dating Flash Thompson and ending it when he began to get too attached. Many fans who were unfamiliar with the Mary Jane of the comic books were not happy about this. In the second season, Mary Jane got involved in a tragic romance with Mark Allen, thinking it would be a casual thing, and then all of a sudden being in a relationship. Unfortunately, the series ended shortly afterward, but it gave us a glimpse of where Mary Jane was going to go.

The next series is "Ultimate Spider-Man" and, if it's anything like it's namesake, we will continue to see the role reversal of Mary Jane Watson in the media perpetuated.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

5 by 5

5 Favourite Films:
1: Casablanca
2: The Godfather
3: Pulp Fiction
4: Citizen Kane
5: Reservoir Dogs

5 Favourite T.V. Shows:
1: Gargoyles
2: Babylon 5
3: The Sopranos
4: The Spectacular Spider-Man
5: Cowboy Bebop

5 Favourite Bands:
1: Deep Purple
2: Led Zeppelin
3: Cream
4: The Rolling Stones
5: Alabama 3

5 Favourite Books:
1: The Lord of the Rings
2: Sanctuary
3: As I Lay Dying
4: All Quiet On the Western Front
5: Spider Kiss

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Last Laugh

So, did you hear about Mark Hamill?

From IGN, Mark Hamill discusses voicing the Joker in the Batman: Arkham Asylum sequel:

But with The Joker forming such a large part of his acting career, it seems Hamill took some convincing to sign on for the sequel. "My answer to [developers Rocksteady] for the sequel was, 'Guys, we're never going to be able to top the original.' It was so claustrophobic. There were so many abilities like the stealth mode, and all those things you can do with the new technology. I wanted to be able to say I'd gone out on a high note."
So what changed his mind? "I got on the phone with Rocksteady and they really reassured me and told me what they were going to do with the sequel. But I'm sworn to secrecy!"

Nevertheless, there's plenty to be gauged from his final remarks, certainly about the fate of The Joker in this second part. "This will be my last, there's no question about that. But it's the last hurrah."

I always knew this day would come. I'm not going to nerd rage or even nerd mourning. He's been the voice of the Joker for eighteen years now. That's longer than Patrick Stewart's tenure playing Captain Picard (1987 to 2002, btw). Eventually it's time to move on, and he's getting to go out on his own terms here. What more could you ask for?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


So, I finally finished watching the entire first season of "V." Let me get this out of the way, I have never seen the original miniseries, or any of its spin-offs. So I had no expectations and no frame of reference.

What is "V" about? It's about faith. What we place our faith in. True faith, misguided faith. I don't necessarily mean faith, as in faith in a high power, but that is part of it. Although faith in family, in friends, in community also are at the forefront.

I first saw the pilot on hulu the day after it originally premiered. And then, I didn't watch the rest of it until I did a twenty-four our marathon of the last eleven episodes. Why? At the time, ABC said that unless "V" killed in the ratings, there would be no further episodes after those initial four. Then the same came up with the last eight. When "V" was renewed for a second season, I figured I'd watch. In keeping with the theme of faith, I now feel I can invest in another series a little more secure that it doesn't get canceled at the drop of a hat.

Now, one of the complaints that I heard about the series was that the pacing is glacial. I'm not quite qualified to judge it, since I watched it all in one go. But I was more than satisfied with what I saw. The five sections of a novel are: introduction, rising action, complication, climax, and denouement. I think season one covered introduction quite sufficiently. Although I am wondering if they're through the rising action and into the complication yet. We'll see.

If I had to criticize one thing about the series, our leading lady and main protagonist, Erica Evans, is not all that interesting. The rest of the members of the Fifth Column are far more interesting than she is. However, Erica and the queen of the Visitors, Anna, do make natural foils for one another. Both are protective albeit very imperfect mothers (Anna to the nth degree). So I am hoping Erica comes into her own more in the second season.

However, this series also has the misfortune of featuring one of the most annoying characters ever in the form of Erica's son, Retarded Cockstain. It is impossible to last one second watching Retarded Cockstain without wanting to smack him across the head. He is a terrible son to Erica, he takes emo rebellious teen to a whole new level. Anna wants him to breed with her daughter for reasons that have yet to be revealed, but I highly doubt will make any sense. Obviously, Anna "has plans" for Retarded Cockstain, but that can only be because she read the script and knows she's the son of the protagonist. The show tries to make us feel afraid for Retarded Cockstain, which is a flaw when the audience would rather see him die a painful death.

And, just because I feel I must address this. I don't see a right-wing political agenda in this series. Anna is not an allegory for Barack Obama. Yes, the Vs have used certain buzzwords that Obama's campaign and administration have used, but what series hasn't used topical buzzwords? Especially in a science fiction series? Anna is an archetypal politician, period. She is applicable to anyone who has mastered politics. She is applicable to Obama. She is applicable to Bush. She is applicable to Clinton. She is applicable to Reagan. She is applicable to Kennedy. She is applicable to Roosevelt. She is applicable to Hitler. She is applicable to Caesar! She is applicable to any politician good enough to have people eating out of the palm of their hand by presenting herself as a savior and an agent of change. And that is something all of the names I mentioned had in common.

It's a good show. Time will tell if it's an excellent show, but I will be tuning in to the second season.

Oh, and please kill off Retarded Cockstain.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I'm giddy because I hate her.

Megan Fox's Career R.I.P.: 2007-2010
Transformers hottie reportedly won't be back for third film.
May 19, 2010
by IGN Staff

Megan Fox has reportedly been dropped from Transformers 3.

Deadline claims "Paramount won't be picking up Megan Fox's option on Transformers 3 -- and that it was 'ultimately' director Michael Bay's decision. (So he gets his revenge for her remark comparing him to 'Hitler'.)" In other words, she was fired for her past war of words with the Transformers director.

The site adds that the script is being rewritten now to give Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) a new love interest. That role will be cast as soon as possible. Nothing is known about the character, except that she will likely be extremely hot and vapid.

Fox, 24, has seen her star rise and fall in just a few short years. She burst into the big time with her role as Mikaela Banes, a.k.a. eye candy bent over the engine of a muscle car, in 2007's Transformers. She followed that with the flop How to Lose Friends and Alienate People before appearing in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Jennifer's Body, her horror comedy with Diablo Cody, also flopped, and her upcoming Jonah Hex doesn't exactly have the greatest buzz surrounding it.

Time will tell whether Megan Fox can rally back and prove to the industry and public that she's a legitimate actress and star, or if she'll serve as a cautionary tale for other overnight stars whose outspoken antics and diva reputations ruin their once promising careers before they even truly began.

Guys... she wasn't even hot!

But I'm happy, simply because I don't believe talentless people should earn the success and fame she did. I still believe, and call me old fashioned, that people with merit should get these opportunities. The only reason she got famous in the first place was because she, and I am not fucking with you, "cleaned his Ferrari."

Good god... he actually calls it that.

And, just for the fun of it, here's the infamous letter:

This is an open letter to all Michael Bay fans. We are three crew members that have worked with Michael for the past ten years. Last week we read the terrible article with inflammatory, truly trashing quotes by the Ms. Fox about Michael Bay. This letter is to set a few things straight.

Yes, Megan has great eyes, a tight stomach we spray with glycerin, and an awful silly Marilyn Monroe tattoo plastered on her arm that we cover up to keep the moms happy.

Michael found this shy, inexperienced girl, plucked her out of total obscurity thus giving her the biggest shot of any young actresses' life. He told everyone around to just trust him on his choice. He granted her the starring role in Transformers, a franchise that forever changed her life; she became one of the most googled and oogled women on earth. She was famous! She was the next Angelina Jolie, hooray! Wait a minute, two of us worked with Angelina - second thought - she's no Angelina. You see, Angelia is a professional.

We know this quite intimately because we've had the tedious experience of working with the dumb-as-a-rock Megan Fox on both Transformers movies. We've spent a total of 12 months on set making these two movies.

We are in different departments; we can't give our names because sadly doing so in Hollywood could lead to being banished from future Paramount work. One of us touches Megan's panties, the other has the often shitty job of pulling Ms. Sour pants out of her trailer, while another is near the Panaflex camera that helps to memorialize the valley girl on film.

Megan has the press fooled. When we read those magazines we wish we worked with that woman. Megan knows how to work her smile for the press. Those writers should try being on set for two movies, sadly she never smiles. The cast, crew and director make Transformers a really fun and energetic set. We've traveled around the world together, so we have never understood why Megan was always such - the grump of the set?

When facing the press, Megan is the queen of talking trailer trash and posing like a porn star. And yes we've had the unbearable time of watching her try to act on set, and yes, it's very cringe-able. So maybe, being a porn star in the future might be a good career option. But make-up beware, she has a paragraph tattooed to her backside (probably due her rotten childhood) easily another 45 minutes in the chair!

So when the three of us caught wind of Ms Fox, pontificating yet again in some publication (like she actually has something interesting to say) blabbing her trash mouth about a director whom we three have grown to really like. She compared working with Michael, to "working with Hitler". We actually don't think she knows who Hitler is by the way. But we wondered how she doesn't realize what a disgusting, fully uneducated comment this was? Well, here let's get some facts straight.

Say what you want about Michael - yes at times he can be hard, but he's also fun, and he challenges everyone for a reason - he simply wants people to bring their 'A' game. He comes very prepared, knows exactly what he wants, involves the crew and expects everyone to follow through with his or her best, and that includes the actors. He's one of the hardest working directors out there.

He gets the best from his crews, many of whom have worked with him for 15 years. And yes, he's loyal, one of the few directors we've encountered who lowered his fee by millions to keep Transformers in the United States and California, so he could work with his own crew.

Megan says that Transformers was an unsafe set? Come on Megan, we know it is a bit more strenuous then the playground at the trailer park, but you don't insult one of the very best stunt and physical effects teams in the business! Not one person got hurt!

And who is the real Megan Fox? She is very different than the academy nominee and winning actors we've all worked around. She's as about ungracious a person as you can ever fathom. She shows little interest in the crew members around her. We work to make her look good in every way, but she's absolutely never appreciative of anyone's hard work. Never a thank you. All the crewmembers have stopped saying hi to Ms. Princess because she never says hello back. It gets tiring. Many think she just really hates the process of being an actress.

Megan has been late to the sets many times. She goes through the motions that make her exude this sense of misery. We've heard the A.D's piped over the radio that Megan won't walk from her trailer until John Turturro walks first! John's done seventy-five movies and she's made two!

Never expect Megan to attend any of the 15 or so crew parties like all the other actors have. And then there's the classless night she blew off The Royal Prince of Jordan who made a special dinner for all the actors. She doesn't know that one of the grips daughters wanted to visit their daddy's work to meet Megan, but he wouldn't let them come because he told them "she is not nice."

The press certainly doesn't know her most famous line. On our first day in Egypt, the Egyptian government wouldn't let us shoot because of a permit problem as the actors got ready in make up at the Four Seasons Hotel. Michael tried to make the best of it; he wanted to take the cast and crew on a private tour of the famous Giza pyramids. God hold us witness, Megan said, "I can't believe Michael is fucking forcing us to go to the fucking pyramids!" I guess this is the "Hitler guy" she is referring to.

So this is the Megan Fox you don't get to see. Maybe she will learn, but we figure if she can sling insults, then she can take them too. Megan really is a thankless, classless, graceless, and shall we say unfriendly bitch. It's sad how fame can twist people, and even sadder that young girls look up to her. If only they knew who they're really looking up to.

But 'Fame' is fleeting. We, being behind the scenes, seen em' come and go. Hopefully Michael will have Megatron squish her character in the first ten minutes of Transformers 3. We can tell you that will make the crew happy!

-Loyal Transformers Crew

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hope for "Gargoyles"

So, today I read that Boom Studios is turning "Darkwing Duck" from a mini-series to an on-going series. Based just on the fan response. It got me thinking that maybe the Gargoyles Fandom should try to get their attention.

Boom is a great comic book company, and I think "Gargoyles" would do quite well there. I just wrote to them. Mentioned "Gargoyles," the fanbase, Greg, and how impressed I am with their company and how, as a fan, I think they'd be a great home for the series I love. etc.

I think we should all write to them, and spread the word to other fans... drum up the interest. Because, I personally think Boom is one of our better options right now.

Here's their contact info:


Let's get their attention! Let's try to get five hundred people to e-mail them over the next month or so. I think we can do this.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Normally, especially since "Transformers Animated" was canceled in favor of "Revenge of Michael Bay's Racist Orgasm Juice," I don't give a crap about what's going on with "Transformers." But, recently, something did happen which I figured I should talk about.

Hasbro has an official Transformers Hall of Fame. Right now there are four members: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron, and Starscream. Big surprise there. However, they are allowing fans to vote on the fifth member. They polled the fan sites for a while to get five nominees. Jazz, Grimlock, Soundwave, Shockwave, and Dinobot

Yes, Dinobot from "Beast Wars." This was a surprise, but a very welcome one. Yes, we all know "that guy with the cool voice who shoots tapes out of his chest" will sadly, pathetically, most likely win this. But I'm voting for Dinobot, and I'm going to tell you why anyone who'd be interested in voting in this poll at all should vote for Dinobot.

Jazz: Um... he was voiced by that black guy who Jack Nicholson killed with an axe. Not much to say.
Grimlock: I suppose he presents himself as a positive role model for the mentally deficient. But, he got no development in the cartoon except regression into bigger moron than he started. Then, in the comics, Simon Furman turned him into an autistic Wolverine. Don't get me wrong, I like Grimlock, but no... he's not getting my vote.
Soundwave: Well, we all know he's going to win. But, really, what did he ever do? He had a cool voice and interesting henchmen. That was it. Nothing else to him. He was just there. I like him too, but there's really nothing to him.
Shockwave: Now, this is a tough one, since I like Shockwave. Or rather, I like the Shockwave of the comic books that slaughtered all the Autobots and Decepticons before making Megatron his personal bitch. The cartoon's janitor of Cybertron that can't shoot for shit means nothing to me.

Dinobot: Now, he had something that none of the previously mentioned characters have. Hell, something none of the GeeWun characters ever had... a character arc. He went from renegade Predacon war criminal and terrorist, and developed into a hero and died saving humanity... all the while, he never once apologized for what he was.

"Tell my tale to those who ask. Tell it truly, the ill deeds along with the good, and let me be judged accordingly."

He wasn't a walking catchphrase or a stereotype. He hasn't been replicated in countless reboots of the franchise like everyone else has been. As far as this franchise goes. If I had to make a comparison in the sophistication and level of writing between the two shows, "Beast Wars" is to the original cartoon what "Gargoyles" and "Batman: TAS" are in comparison to "G.I. Joe." and "Thundercats." The difference in quality is that great, and Dinobot was a very well developed character.

Aw well, here was an excellent essay written about why Dinobot is great way back in 2000... a decade old, now I feel old.

And, just remember, a vote for Dinobot is a vote against the blinders of nostalgia.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Stephen Baldwin...

With your indulgences, I'd like to get serious for a moment. And by serious, let's talk about the least talented Baldwin brother, shall we?

I did some research, apparently Stephen here bought a nice, big Victorian house in Arizona, loves the house, but renovating and restoring it are more expensive than he thought it would be. Also, according to IMDB, Stephen has six movies in development.

And they're comparing him to Job. They're saying he's been blacklisted because of his Christian faith. Have any of the following been blacklisted?

Kirk Cameron
Robert Duvall
Olivia Newton-John
Gavin McLeod
John Schneider
Paul Walker
Andy Griffith
Steve McQueen
Lisa Whelchel
Miley Cyrus
Jonas Brothers

Nope, I don't think so. And Robert Duvall kicks ass!

Maybe, Stephen Baldwin just sucks? He's a third-rate actor with no discernible fanbase. So they're creating this website portraying him as an oppressed "man of God" so that a bunch of sheep. I say donate to Haiti before Stephen Baldwin, but maybe I'm wrong.

I'd say God is more of an Alec Baldwin fan. Alec is doing pretty well. Hmm, why doesn't Stephen ask Billy or Alec for money? Could it be because they want nothing to do with him?

Now, I'm sure some of you would say it's hypocritical of me to say that God prefers Alec to Stephen, after all, how can I know what God is thinking? Personally, I am an agnostic. So, I think I'll list four other fictional characters, who I am pretty sure think Stephen Baldwin sucks:


Tee hee, one of these is not like the others.

Aw well, I prefer this video:

And for those of you who don't know the story of Job... er, I'm just posting this because it's funny:

Friday, May 7, 2010

Iron Man 2

It was probably the most anticipated sequel since "The Dark Knight." Well, anticipated by me anyway. I'm sure some people anticipated "Revenge of the Fallen," although I didn't. So, how does "Iron Man 2" stack up? Pretty damn well, I think.

Robert Downey Jr. reminds us all that he was born to play Tony Stark. Strike that, he doesn't play Tony Stark, he is Tony Stark. He embodies that character, and no where does it shine through more than during the birthday party scene where Stark is as drunk as an Irishman on Cinco de Mayo while wearing the armor. It's a scene that, if played by almost anybody else would be so over the top and ridiculous, it would take you out of the movie. But, RDJ doesn't just make you believe it, he makes you feel it.

Mickey Rourke was our villain in this installment as Ivan Vanko or Whiplash. Like RDJ, Rourke just embodies the character of someone you would think spent many years in a Siberian gulag. He was creepy, scary, and managed to both seem not all there while at the same time knowing exactly what he was doing. Not to mention, they took a pretty lame villain in the comics and made him scary.

Scarlett Johansson was very sexy as super spy, Natasha Romanov. While I definitely missed the Russian accent, I can buy their explanation that when she is on Russian soil, she doesn't speak with one. But her role in the story surprised me. I thought she was infiltrating Stark Industries to steal the armor for Russia. I didn't think she was already working for Nick Fury. They also didn't once say her codename, Black Widow out loud. But she was a lot of fun, and I hope to see more of her.

You will love to hate Sam Rockwell as the slick and greasy Justin Hammer. Played younger here than in the comics, but he is just oozing slime whenever you see him. Figuratively, not literally. Not sure if he'll be back for further installments, but I wouldn't mind.

I missed Terrence Howard as Jim Rhodes. Not that Don Cheadle was bad. But with Howard, you got the sense that he and Stark were long time friends. With Cheadle, while you knew that, you didn't feel it at all. They just didn't have that chemistry.

The action in this movie was terrific, which is one would expect since it was storyboarded by Geddy Tartakovsky. There are a lot of fun easter eggs in this movie, which I won't spoil for you, you'll either spot them or you won't... but one of them is impossible to miss.

It's not "The Dark Knight." But it's not trying to be. It's the sequel to "Iron Man" and it is spectacular at what it is... an action-adventure movie with heart and soul. It brings the story and the character development to the table that so many action movies lack. Michael Bay could learn a lot from it... the best action sequences in the world don't matter if your story has no heard to it.

On top of this all, the movie sold me on a concept I was a bit cautious about. The idea of the Avengers as a movie. I was not sure how practical, or even possible coordinating a series of separate movies to build up to the climax that is all these heroes coming together. It's never been done before in the film medium. But here, I can really see it beginning to come together. I'm sold on it now, and very excited.

Terrific movie, I am seeing it again.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Roger Ebert: Why I Hate 3-D (And You Should Too)

Why I Hate 3-D (And You Should Too)

3-D is a waste of a perfectly good dimension. Hollywood's current crazy stampede toward it is suicidal. It adds nothing essential to the moviegoing experience. For some, it is an annoying distraction. For others, it creates nausea and headaches. It is driven largely to sell expensive projection equipment and add a $5 to $7.50 surcharge on already expensive movie tickets. Its image is noticeably darker than standard 2-D. It is unsuitable for grown-up films of any seriousness. It limits the freedom of directors to make films as they choose. For moviegoers in the PG-13 and R ranges, it only rarely provides an experience worth paying a premium for.

That's my position. I know it's heresy to the biz side of show business. After all, 3-D has not only given Hollywood its biggest payday ($2.7 billion and counting for Avatar), but a slew of other hits. The year's top three films—Alice in Wonderland, How to Train Your Dragon, and Clash of the Titans—were all projected in 3-D, and they're only the beginning. The very notion of Jackass in 3-D may induce a wave of hysterical blindness, to avoid seeing Steve-O's you-know-what in that way. But many directors, editors, and cinematographers agree with me about the shortcomings of 3-D. So do many movie lovers—even executives who feel stampeded by another Hollywood infatuation with a technology that was already pointless when their grandfathers played with stereoscopes. The heretics' case, point by point:

When you look at a 2-D movie, it's already in 3-D as far as your mind is concerned. When you see Lawrence of Arabia growing from a speck as he rides toward you across the desert, are you thinking, "Look how slowly he grows against the horizon" or "I wish this were 3D?"

Our minds use the principle of perspective to provide the third dimension. Adding one artificially can make the illusion less convincing.

Recall the greatest moviegoing experiences of your lifetime. Did they "need" 3-D? A great film completely engages our imaginations. What would Fargogain in 3-D? Precious? Casablanca?

Some 3-D consists of only separating the visual planes, so that some objects float above others, but everything is still in 2-D. We notice this. We shouldn't. In 2-D, directors have often used a difference in focus to call attention to the foreground or the background. In 3-D the technology itself seems to suggest that the whole depth of field be in sharp focus. I don't believe this is necessary, and it deprives directors of a tool to guide our focus.

AS 3-D TV sets were being introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, Reuters interviewed two leading ophthalmologists. "There are a lot of people walking around with very minor eye problems—for example, a muscle imbalance—which under normal circumstances the brain deals with naturally," said Dr. Michael Rosenberg, a professor at Northwestern University. 3-D provides an unfamiliar visual experience, and "that translates into greater mental effort, making it easier to get a headache." Dr. Deborah Friedman, a professor of ophthalmology and neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said that in normal vision, each eye sees things at a slightly different angle. "When that gets processed in the brain, that creates the perception of depth. The illusions that you see in three dimensions in the movies is not calibrated the same way that your eyes and your brain are." In a just-published article, Consumer Reports says about 15 percent of the moviegoing audience experiences headache and eyestrain during 3-D movies.

Lenny Lipton is known as the father of the electronic stereoscopic-display industry. He knows how films made with his systems should look. Current digital projectors, he writes, are "intrinsically inefficient. Half the light goes to one eye and half to the other, which immediately results in a 50 percent reduction in illumination." Then the glasses themselves absorb light. The vast majority of theaters show 3-D at between three and six foot-lamberts (fLs). Film projection provides about 15fLs. The original IMAX format threw 22fLs at the screen. If you don't know what a foot-lambert is, join the crowd. (In short: it's the level of light thrown on the screen from a projector with no film in it.) And don't mistake a standard film for an IMAX film, or "fake IMAX" for original IMAX. What's the difference? IMAX is building new theaters that have larger screens, which are quite nice, but are not the huge IMAX screens and do not use IMAX film technology. But since all their theaters are called IMAX anyway, this is confusing.

These projectors are not selling themselves. There was initial opposition from exhibitors to the huge cost of new equipment and infighting about whether studios would help share these expenses. Some studios, concerned with tarnishing the 3-D myth, have told exhibitors that if they don't show a movie in 3-D, they can't have it in 2-D. Although there's room in most projection booths for both kinds of projectors, theaters are encouraged to remove analog projectors as soon as they can. Why so much haste to get rid of them? Are exhibitors being encouraged to burn their bridges by insecure digital manufacturers?

Yet when you see a 2-D film in a 3-D-ready theater, the 3-D projectors are also outfitted for 2-D films: it uses the same projector but doesn't charge extra. See the Catch-22? Are surcharges here to stay, or will they be dropped after the projectors are paid off? What do you think? I think 3-D is a form of extortion for parents whose children are tutored by advertising and product placement to "want" 3-D. In my review of Clash of the Titans, I added a footnote: "Explain to your kids that the movie was not filmed in 3-D and is only being shown in 3-D in order to charge you an extra $5 a ticket. I saw it in 2-D, and let me tell you, it looked terrific." And it did. The "3-D" was hastily added in postproduction to ride on the coattails of Avatar. The fake-3-D Titans even got bad reviews from 3-D cheerleaders. Jeffrey Katzenberg, whose DreamWorks has moved wholeheartedly into 3-D, called it "cheeseball," adding: "You just snookered the movie audience." He told Variety he was afraid quickie, fake-3-D conversions would kill the goose that was being counted on for golden eggs.

Neither can directors. Having shot Dial M for Murder in 3-D, Alfred Hitchcock was so displeased by the result that he released it in 2-D at its New York opening. The medium seems suited for children's films, animation, and films such as James Cameron's Avatar, which are largely made on computers. Cameron's film is, of course, the elephant in the room: a splendid film, great-looking on a traditional IMAX screen, which is how I saw it, and the highest-grossing film in history. It's used as the poster child for 3-D, but might it have done as well in 2-D (not taking the surcharge into account)? The second-highest all-time grosser is Cameron's Titanic, which of course was in 2-D. Still, Avatar used 3-D very effectively. I loved it. Cameron is a technical genius who planned his film for 3-D from the ground up and spent $250 million getting it right. He is a master of cinematography and editing. Other directors are forced to use 3-D by marketing executives. The elephant in that room is the desire to add a surcharge.

Consider Tim Burton, who was forced by marketing executives to create a faux-3-D film that was then sold as Alice in Wonderland: An IMAX 3D Experience (although remember that the new IMAX theaters are not true IMAX). Yes, it had huge grosses. But its 3-D effects were minimal and unnecessary; a scam to justify the surcharge.

Even Cameron plans to rerelease Titanic in 3-D, and it's worth recalling his 3-D documentary, Ghosts of the Abyss, which he personally photographed from the grave of the Titanic. Titanic 3-D will not be true 3-D, but Cameron is likely to do "fake 3-D" better than others have. My argument would nevertheless be: Titanic is wonderful just as it stands, so why add a distraction? Obviously, to return to the No. 2 cash cow in movie history and squeeze out more milk.

I once said I might become reconciled to 3-D if a director like Martin Scorsese ever used the format. I thought I was safe. Then Scorsese announced that his 2011 film The Invention of Hugo Cabret, about an orphan and a robot, will be in 3-D. Well, Scorsese knows film, and he has a voluptuous love of its possibilities. I expect he will adapt 3-D to his needs. And my hero, Werner Herzog, is using 3-D to film prehistoric cave paintings in France, to better show off the concavities of the ancient caves. He told me that nothing will "approach" the audience, and his film will stay behind the plane of the screen. In other words, nothing will hurtle at the audience, and 3-D will allow us the illusion of being able to occupy the space with the paintings and look into them, experiencing them as a prehistoric artist standing in the cavern might have.

In marketing terms, this means offering an experience that can't be had at home. With the advent of Blu-ray discs, HD cable, and home digital projectors, the gap between the theater and home experiences has been narrowed. 3-D widened it again. Now home 3-D TV sets may narrow that gap as well.

What Hollywood needs is a "premium" experience that is obviously, dramatically better than anything at home, suitable for films aimed at all ages, and worth a surcharge. For years I've been praising a process invented by Dean Goodhill called MaxiVision48, which uses existing film technology but shoots at 48 frames per second and provides smooth projection that is absolutely jiggle-free. Modern film is projected at 24 frames per second (fps) because that is the lowest speed that would carry analog sound in the first days of the talkies. Analog sound has largely been replaced by digital sound. MaxiVision48 projects at 48fps, which doubles image quality. The result is dramatically better than existing 2-D. In terms of standard measurements used in the industry, it's 400 percent better. That is not a misprint. Those who haven't seen it have no idea how good it is. I've seen it, and also a system of some years ago, Douglas Trumbull's Showscan. These systems are so good that the screen functions like a window into three dimensions. If moviegoers could see it, they would simply forget about 3-D.

I'm not opposed to 3-D as an option. I'm opposed to it as a way of life for Hollywood, where it seems to be skewing major studio output away from the kinds of films we think of as Oscar-worthy. Scorsese and Herzog make films for grown-ups. Hollywood is racing headlong toward the kiddie market. Disney recently announced it will make no more traditional films at all, focusing entirely on animation, franchises, and superheroes. I have the sense that younger Hollywood is losing the instinctive feeling for story and quality that generations of executives possessed. It's all about the marketing. Hollywood needs a projection system that is suitable for all kinds of films—every film—and is hands-down better than anything audiences have ever seen. The marketing executives are right that audiences will come to see a premium viewing experience they can't get at home. But they're betting on the wrong experience.

Ebert is the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times.

© 2010