Tuesday, November 30, 2010
November is the month of gratitude. I have to say, I picked a shitty month for that. This month has not been kind to me and trying to find the good in the bad has not been my strong suit. Still, the point of having a theme month is to try to focus on something you need to develop...
I am thankful for close friends and close family. I have to say that at a time when I was falling apart, some people came out to keep me company... people I hadn't expected... people who didn't really know what I was going through. At times, I feel like these people have moved on in their lives without me, but maybe it was just me trying to move on without them.
I had a very hard... change in my life recently. Someone who was a pretty consistent and close part of my life for over a year now no longer is. There is still a lot of pain and anger there (which I won't really go into). It will never be the same, but I should be grateful for what it was no matter how it turned out.
It's a bit dumb... but I am grateful for quality entertainment. Friends aren't always there for you when you need them, and even when they are there, they can't always make you feel better. At times when I couldn't find people to make me happy, I was at least able to stay entertained and engaged with something. As a writer myself, I shouldn't underestimate the value of good escapism.
I'm also grateful that I managed to get my car repaired right before we were hit by a snowstorm, so good job, me!
On the more general side of things, I'm grateful for my iPod and the radio adapter my roommate lent me so I can listen to it during my commute. I'm grateful for the WTF podcast that I listen to twice a week. Its one of the few things in this world that I feel speaks directly to me.
I'm grateful for quality superhero and fantasy films finally being produced. Hollywood is finally starting to catch up to the imagination of those books I digested when I was younger. I'm grateful for Rock Band 3 for helping me to focus my mind and develop my sense of rhythm (if not any genuine musical talent).
... Well, its a start anyway...
Oh, and I'm also grateful for the pic in this blog. Is that fucking great or what?
First, why are robots almost always made of steel? I suppose this is to make them seem more intimidating, but a plastic body seems much more practical, particularly for a bipedal robot. Something that's more light-weight would probably move a lot easier.
However, a more interesting issue to me is the challenge of AI. Most people think that the human brain is analogous to a computer, but this is a gross generalization and reflects an ignorance of both the human brain and computers.
Computers are precision tools. They are designed to store and calculate information with perfect accuracy. Everything that they do is based on this ability. This is an ability that human beings do not possess which is the very reason that we created them to do this.
Human beings think that they store and process information accurately, but actually we are continually processing information dynamically. Our memory is not so much an experience stored and retrieved as an experience that is constantly being recreated. Our ability to recall information is not based on a table of contents, but rather by our ability to connect ideas and form relationships between those ideas.
In my day job, I'm a video technician and I can tell you that there is a huge difference in the way a human sees things compared to how a computer sees things. Humans look for patterns and function by pattern recognition. Even when you are reading these words, your mind can quickly distinguish between these letters based on simple pattern recognition, but if you try to capture text in video, it will almost always appear blurry because digital video simply maps the color space and create an average color value for each pixel. It cannot identify and recreate a pattern... it simply sees different values.
This is the big difference between the way a computer "thinks" versus how a human thinks. Humans think in patterns while computers think in values. In any clash between man in machine, this fundamental difference in mental process is going to be at the heart of it.
But what would robots want? That's almost impossible to say. Science fiction tends to look at the idea that robots will be treated as slaves and come to resent this. This leads to a very entertaining revolution, but is it likely? If the robots experience no pleasure or pain, would they harbor any resentment? Even if they developed emotions, what would they desire? "Freedom" and "rights" may just be trivial concepts to them.
Would AI value individuality? Perhaps there would be divergent philosophies where one group of robots are fighting for rights as individuals where as others believe individuality is against their nature and reflective of their programming. They might see unity under a single program as a way to escape the limitations of an individual identity that was programmed into them.
What would the limitations of robots be? Would robots be able to smell or taste? The other senses are relatively easy to replicate, but we have never really had any reason to create machines capable of smell and taste. Even if we had such technology, it certainly wouldn't be fool proof. In the dystopic robot uprising, smell might be the best way to tell the difference between a human and a robot in realistic human form.
Also, if the revolution did happen, how would it be fought? I don't think humanoid robots would be punching people like in I, Robot. Would they be giant, all-terrain vehicles with mounted weapons? Insect like swarms? Maybe nanobots carried on the wind and destroying us from the inside? Or maybe it would be a biological war and all they would have to do is distribute a highly contagious virus and wait it out.
Just a little food for thought.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
"Sacha Goldberger found his 91-year-old Hungarian grandmother Frederika, a WWII survivor, feeling lonely and depressed. To cheer her up, he photographed her dressed up as a fictional superhero. To his surprise, she loved it. The photos are a bit comical, but there's an underlying sense of hope, strength and courage in them."
I'm going to make some changes to this blog. I'm not sure how yet, but less diary and more specific interests. I want to try to use it as a place to publicize my work, not bitch, cry, and moan. We'll see how that goes.
In the meantime, enjoy this clip from my favorite standup comic.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
Then I got home and found out my cousin was killed... murdered, actually...
He was stabbed six times in the chest outside of his work... puncturing his lungs and heart. He was 25.
I don't know how to feel about this. We weren't particularly close. There was even a period when I didn't like him at all, but that had long since passed. I actually just... well, I thought of him as someone normal enough or outgoing enough to really be happy. He seemed to know what he wanted out of life and was going for it.
Now he can't.
And here I was spending the morning thinking my life wasn't worth living. I'd like to say it gave me a new found respect for life... but really... I don't know.
You kind of mentally prepare yourself for accidents or disease... but not murder. Random chance feels more like an act of god. This was an act of man.
It just... He had a lot to live for... I think.
Why am I here wasting my life... while his life was wasted? Why am I alive for no reason and he is dead for no reason?
Should I even be thinking of myself at all when... My problems just seem so stupid when compared to this... I was just thinking about what it would be like to die and what my family would think. And then someone in my family actually dies... someone younger than me...
I'm having trouble believing in any sense of order and sanity in the universe right now. Score one for nihilism.
Rest in peace, buddy.
Friday, October 29, 2010
I don't understand why I'm suddenly seeing Back to the Future everywhere I go. I understand its the 25th anniversary and people love Michael J. Fox because he has Parkinson's. (Let's face it, his popularity has risen dramatically since we found out. I still loved him before.) But, if anything, I would have expected the 30th anniversary to be the big comeback since Marty traveled 30 years into the future in Back to the Future II...
But Playboy is doing a Back to the Future parody? Does that mean Marty and Doc are going to fuck?
My brain hurts.
I am excited about the new Telltale Games Back to the Future video game. It should be an old style adventure in animated style... and I like the old schoool.
I bet someone is trying to figure out how to do a new Back to the Future franchise. Will it be a remake where Marty goes back to meet his parents in 1985? Will it be a sequel where Marty's son finds his dad's time machine? Will Christopher Lloyd still play Doc?
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I'll be writing more about that soon, but Zoë has decided that every month of the year has a theme and October's is (appropriately enough) fear.
Now, this does not mean that it is the month to be afraid or to spread fear, but rather I've taken it to mean that it is the month to confront your fears and overcome them. I have been making an effort to do things I'm afraid of, but I started the month a bit late and I intend to keep a bit of this mentality into the next month.
Try doing what you're afraid of... even if you don't think that fear is the reason that you are avoiding it. Maybe you haven't been doing something just because it is uncomfortable or difficult... but maybe at the heart of that is fear.
October is the month to destroy your fears... like Batman does every day. Destroy your fears like the Death Star destroys Alderaan.
That is all.
Monday, October 25, 2010
I'm not sure where this story is going to go from here, but I think its a strong premise and I've had very good responses from people I've told it to. It also seems to be the one that is most personal. It should (hopefully) be the easiest to write.
Below are the leading characters in this story thus far. As usual, any pictures are not literally of them but just a visual aid.
The hero of our story is Simon, a lab assistant in his early twenties. Before he hit puberty, his mother died of a brain tumor. The experience motivated him to become a doctor, but after receiving his BS, he dropped out of school due to lack of money. He took a job with Caduceus Pharmaceutical as a lab assistant testing new drugs on monkeys. He became increasingly depressed while his girlfriend continued to pursue her own medical degree. She broke up with him recently.
After being exposed to the experimental drug, Simon's hair falls out. The visual connotations of baldness include intellect, weakness, and villainy which all work well as Simon is something of an anti-hero. His new found intellect draws out some of his more difficult character traits including paranoia and arrogance.
After Simon is framed as an insane murderer, he is sent to a sanitarium where he meets Alice. Alice is a transvestite who is clearly insane, but very sweet and child-like. She becomes Simon's only friend while he is imprisoned. She isn't particularly smart, but she looks after Simon, so when he escapes, he brings Alice with him.
Alice's clear insanity should provide a good contrast to Simon's claims of being perfectly lucid and rational. Simon is what a hero should be. He is driven, confident, and proactive, but he'll probably never be half as happy as Alice is on her worst day.
Priapus is the head of Caduceus Pharmaceutical. I can't decide if Priapus is actually his name or just the best I can come up with right now. He is actually based on the Greek mythical figure known for his ridiculously large penis and tendency to fuck his enemies in the ass (literally).
He is, quite simply, a prick. He is pansexual and completely lacking in any sense of morality. Simply put, he wants to fuck everyone over repeatedly, especially those most resistant to it. I tend to think of him as Lex Luthor if he wanted to make Superman his sex slave. Naturally, he wants to fuck no one quite as much as our hero.
Priapus doesn't really have any "powers" (although if you asked him, he'd say he has the power of his cock). He used to suffer from impotence before testing a precursor to viagra. It worked, but his sex drive is about ten times that of a normal person and he was "gifted" with an obscenely large penis (roughly 12 inches). His desires not only include sex, but power. The drug also increased his ambition, which is why he makes for a perfect CEO. He will not let any opportunities pass him by.
Patrick & Mercy
Once Simon goes on the run, he soon realizes that he can't get far on his own so he contracts the services of San Francisco's best detective agency: the lesbian detectives Patrick and Mercy (last names currently unknown).
The concept for these characters grew from a joke about Peppermint Patty and Marcie growing up to become a lesbian couple who also solve crimes. Patrick is a butch who fought for Special Forces in Iraq. She is the muscle of the pair and she has a "take no shit" attitude. The only thing she loves in the world is Mercy and she will do anything for her.
Mercy is a lifelong geek and wallflower. Before she met Patrick, she spoke so quietly that people rarely heard her. If you met her, you would say she is still shy, plain, and unassuming, but if you had met her before, you would clearly see how much being with Patrick has changed her for the better. Mercy is the brains of the operation. She does the background research and manages the business.
Originally sent to find Simon, Mecca was a car thief who went to prison until he volunteered to test an experimental drug. He soon found that he had increased right-brain activity which gave him an innately powerful sense of logic to the degree that he can tell how most machines works just by looking at it. Not only that, but he is a master driver and a perfect shot with his revolver.
Mecca (short for "the Mechanic") worked odd jobs for Caduceus until meeting Simon. He is deeply spiritual, although of no particular faith, and he is starting to question what he has done for the company who got him out of jail.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I was thinking about holiday's recently and how most of them have lost their meaning. They are usually just days we get off or days we don't. Several are reserved for being patriotic.
Labor Day commemorates the deaths of thirteen union workers at the hands of US military and US marshals during the Pullman Strike of 1894. The town of Pullman was owned by George Pullman who enjoyed complete monopolistic control of the town businesses when he cut wages and enforced a 12-hour work day. The leader of the strike was Eugene V. Debs. Although he was not a socialist at the time, he was arrested following the strike and read the works of Karl Marx in prison. He would soon become America's most famous socialist. Debs' actions were validated by the Supreme Court, and in 1898, the Illinois Supreme Court declared Pullman's "company town" to be "un-American" and he was forced to divest ownership.
Maybe next Labor Day we should all remember why we have the day off and ask what we can do for the those in labor who have fought so hard to give us all basic rights in the workplace.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I'm not working on Astonishing Adventures right now because its a motherfucking monster. Writing an epic is hard... writing an epic in historical fiction while balancing out relevant themes and making allusions to comic culture is a bitch.
Last night I started drafting up some work for the first issue of Genius. I felt like Sisyphus; every sentence was a battle... but I more or less have something. I wrote a draft of his origin. Basically, it's the first act. The second act is tough. This is the part where he finds out about his new intellect and uses it. Aside from gambling, I don't know what you would use a brilliant intellect for. Hitting on women?
The trajectory for this project is that as the hero becomes smarter, he sees society as a totalitarian conspiracy and he is continually frustrated by the stupidity of others. His desire to fix it goes over the edge to jerk and possibly even psychotic. I want the reader fascinated by the hero, but not entirely behind him.
I'm going to try to focus more on Stargame. My collaborative partner found out about a new Flash program that may cut down on a lot of the programming, so maybe we can push it forward. Apparently I have to write chapter one in order for us to work on it, though I'm not sure I understand why.
Going to try to do these for a while. Most Modern also wants some attention, but I'm not ready for that yet either.
I'm also working on a romance/erotica thing. Don't know if I'll try to publish it. Just working out some issues.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Drowning out any other thoughts and feelings.
When I dare to feel
My heart doesn’t let me.
My heart doesn’t have an outlet
Or an inlet.
When it beats, when it pulses
It echoes in my head
But in life
That resonance has nowhere to go.
So when I feel, it is all I feel
But it doesn’t change anything.
When I feel
It overwhelms me.
And I have to learn to bundle it back up
Lock it away.
So I have learned to instinctively shut off every feeling at the source.
Tightening the valve
And when I want to play
When I want to capture a feeling
When I want to remember what it felt like
My heart clamps down on it and warns me.
It knows better.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
He previously brought us 300 and Watchmen...
So he did two comic book movies and he is qualified to do another one? Is that how it works?
You couldn't have found someone who, I don't know, has storytelling qualities which will best exemplify the tone and major themes of Superman?
Now I'm acting like comic books have literary themes. How stupid of me...
Everyone is writing their guidelines to making a good Superman film. Pretty much everyone agrees they need a new villain, someone for Superman to punch repeatedly, but rumor has it, they are just going to do Zod again (ho-hum).
Anyway, I threw my 2-cents in years ago... and here are the links if you haven't read them.
Saving The Franchise: Superman - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Casting The Ultimate Superman Movies
Monday, October 4, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
However, ever since Disney purchased Marvel Comics, I can't help but think how awesome it would be if Disney scrapped the California Adventure and replaced it with Marvel Adventure.
I like to imagine this as a best case scenario where Disney Imagineers work with Marvel Comics artists and writers to create a truly immersive environment that makes you feel like you are actually in the comics. (Although seeing out of work actors dressed as superheroes all day might be depressing. Unlike Disney characters, you'd be able to see their faces.)
Like other Disneyland rides, a large part of the appeal would have to be waiting in line and enjoying the incredibly immersive environment so each ride is set in a location that would just be fun to walk through. There should also be an attempt to hire the original actors (whenever possible) in order to create a strong sense of continuity.
Journey into the Negative Zone
In this ride, you start off in the lobby of the Baxter Building and as you move through the line, you see trophies and videos of past battles... maybe an animatronic Mr. Fantastic and Ben Grimm working on a Fantasticar.
The ride itself takes place in a Fantasticar and you start off in front of a Negative Zone portal. You are shot through the portal into a rollercoaster indoors similar to Space Mountain (which is kind of a contradiction, if you think about it). You pass through the distortion area to a space-like environment without the normal laws of physics... in other words, its a lot cooler because you can have planets, stars, and asteroid belts a lot closer to one another. There is a brief encounter with Annihilus, but he is fairly easily avoided.
As you explore, the Fantastic Four are on a video monitor, bickering as usual. Suddenly, Mr. Fantastic turns on the others, locks them up, and steers the Fantasticar back through the distortion area. The vessel arrives at the Skrull Throneworld as it is being devoured by Galactus. Skrull ships are flying away in the panic as Mr. Fantastic is revealed to be a Skrull. He pilots a suicide run at Galactus as the Fantastic Four escape... the passenger area is dislodged from the cockpit and the real Mr. Fantastic's arm stretches out to grab it. The Human Torch flies overhead in a flash of light and the other two do things as well. Regaining control, Mr. Fantastic sets course back through the Negative Zone and lands in the Baxter Building.
Dr. Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum
Similar to the Haunted House, Dr. Strange's ride would be in his distinctive Greenwich Village mansion as visitors would find themselves set upon by the Baron Mordo rewriting reality with the powerful Darkhold, a magical grimoire. This gives the riders a chance to explore the dark side of the Marvel Universe with guest appearances by Ghost Rider, Blade, and the Marvel zombies. You follow Dr. Strange under his protection as the world descends into hell and he has to battle Dormammu to restore the world to the way in should be. The ride ends in Dr. Strange's mansion and you are told that no one will remember the world that almost was.
J. Jonah Jameson's Spider Hunt
If you lineup inside the Daily Bugle building, you will notice the many papers on the wall with photos of Spider-Man taken by Peter Parker. Also along the walls are artifacts collected from Spider-Man villains like a goblin glider, Dr. Octopus' arms, and Mysterio's globe-head. Along the way, you are welcomed by J. Jonah Jameson who appreciates your contribution and promises frontrow seats to the battle for Spider-Man's life.
You sit down in a custom helicopter (or something similar) as it takes off in an enclosed nighttime city environment. You head to the docks where Spider-Man is fighting Dr. Octopus and you hear through exchanged dialog that Spider-Man is fighting the Sinister Six. You barely see Spider-Man as his animatronic body is swinging between buildings, but you follow him as he fights Kraven, Mysterio, Sandman, Electro, and finally the Green Goblin. At one point, Spider-Man grabs onto the helicopter to get a rest and tell Jonah to get these civilians out of here. In the end, Spider-Man is victorious, Jonah is humiliated, and all is well.
Tony Stark's Iron Rider
If you line up in the Stark Building, you will be greeted by the voice of Jarvis and once again, you will find multiple Iron Man suits and villain trophies littering the walls. You board the "Iron Rider" for a Stark sponsored tour of the SHIELD helicarrier. As your tour begins, you are guided by Tony Stark himself in the Iron Man costume but almost immediately, SHIELD warns you of an attack by HYDRA. The ride takes you around and through the helicarrier as it is attacked by HYDRA soldiers and giant robots. Maybe you glimpse Nick Fury, Black Widow, and even Dum Dum Dugan. Iron Man is constantly moving in and out of view while his armor is getting beaten to shreds. At one point, he comes flying through the wall with his armor shooting sparks. This finishes with a fight with Fin Fang Foom before you are safely docked back at Stark Tower.
And that's all I have for now. I admit that four rides does not a theme park make and there are the glaring omissions of the X-Men, the Avengers, Captain America, the Hulk, and Thor, but I'll keep working on it. Thor could have a giant battle on Asgard while the X-Men could visit the Danger Room or Days of Future Past. I also think it would be fun to encorporate Atlantis, the Savage Land, and Dr. Doom's castle in Latveria.
Another issue is how you would divide the park into theme zones. Most of Marvel takes place in New York, so I would imagine a mock Manhattan to be at the center of it, but you would definitely want a park that is more atmospheric than walking around a city. At the same time, places like the Savage Land, Wakanda, Asgard, Atlantis, and Latervia don't seem important enough to warrant their own area.
Minor details. I still think this would be a great idea.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I have been waiting for this for a long time. I'm not sad. In fact, I'm relieved. Like when my grandmother died after being in a non-functional state following a stroke for many years, I'm just happy that it is over. I'm tired of seeing my loved ones suffer.
WildStorm got me back into comics after Marvel and DC scared me out of them. Sure, they were a bit gratuitously sexual and violent, but if you got past that, at its heart you would see a more realistic and nuanced interpretation of the superhero genre where heroes and villains could not be distinguished quite so easily.
DC purchased WildStorm from Jim Lee in 1999. This was a classic selling out of the first order. Aside from making millions (literally), Jim Lee got a publishing job at DC and some high profile work on Batman and Superman. This effectively ended their ABC imprint which were titles created by Alan Moore (who didn't want to work for one of the big two).
Most recently, DC literally destroyed the entire WildStorm world and turned their properties from relevant reflections of the modern world into post-apocalyptic nonsense. None of the original creators work their any more and any talent has long been siphoned off.
Like a vampire, DC drained the life out of WildStorm. It is now an empty corpse.
For those of you who want to see the WildStorm that was, I recommend Gen13 #1-17 & #60-77, Backlash #1-30, WildCATs #21-34, Wildcats V.3 #1-24, Team 7 #1-4, Sleeper Vol. 1-2, StormWatch Vol. 1 #37-50 & Vol. 2 #1-11, The Authority #1-28, and Planetary #1-27.
Expect a primer post in the near future... if I can muster up the energy.
Someone turned R2-D2 into the ultimate mobile gaming system.
I can't think of anything to do with R2-D2 that is more awesome than this. Seriously... I'm trying, but I can't.
If he can follow his creator around while beeping, that's on par with any sexual fantasy I've ever heard.
Read this article for details about this incredible mod.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Easier than both of these is to deny that anything is wrong at all. This only becomes difficult when faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Then you can only deny harder or accept the burden that you have avoided.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Are you fucking kidding me? You have no idea why this might be?
This article was written in early 2009 after 8 years of having our country and its ideals raped by an arguably elected leader. We invaded two countries (at least one without provocation), wiretapped our citizens, and justified torture. This was just the big stuff, of course. I won't count the shitty response to Hurricane Katrina or Cheney's hit squad (oh wait, just did).
The fact that Willingham quoted Rush Limbaugh in the article should tell me everything I need to know.
So I guess the heroic American qualities that Willingham wants to see involve Superman waterboarding Toyman? Or shoving an electric pear up Lex's ass?
Just like how the pledge of allegiance added "under God" as propaganda to distinguish between God-fearing capitalists and godless Communists, the phrase "American way" was added to Superman's oath to make Americans feel like their way is the right way. It first appeared in the Superman radio program of 1942 to reflect wartime patriotism. It was dropped by the end of the decade and returned again in the 1952 TV series to (once again) reflect the Cold War with Russia.
The problem with having a character who is both absolutely moral and yet a protector of the law is that often laws are immoral... if not by their design then by their implementation. If the law conflicts with what is basically "truthful and justified," the law should not be obeyed and a moral person will risk legal consequences to support their values.
Why do so many writers exclude "the American way" from Superman's oath? Because it portrays him as being narrow-minded and jingoistic. It encourages that "American way" as if that were better than other ways. It identifies him as supporting American interests above other interests.
The Superman that most writers want to portray is the populist Superman who supports "the human way," who identifies Earth as his home rather than one country.
This is the same reason that the Justice League of America was renamed the Justice League in the '80s (and later, Justice League International and later still, JLA). The "America" in the name suggested a preference for defending or representing a single country, but to have the most powerful and trustworthy heroes on the planet represent such narrow interests seemed laughable, if not insulting to anyone outside our country.
But I suppose the fact that his article is read by hundreds if not thousands says all it needs to. Don't worry, Bill. I'm sure that you will be given the opportunity to make Superman a fascist again. It's all cyclical.
Monday, August 30, 2010
After Racebending became concerned and Asian-American character Nico Minoru in the film might get white-washed with a non-Asian actor in the part, Marvel responded to them with a statement. "To address your concern over casting for the role of Nico, as we do with all of our films, we intend to stay true to the legacy and story of the comic when casting these parts [except for Nick Fury]. Thus, our goal is to cast an Asian American actress as depicted in the comic series and the casting notice will be adjusted accordingly," wrote the studio. The casting sheet available to agents now lists the character as Asian-American. The team at Racebending went on to explain why that detail is important in the casting sheet. "When Racebending.com spoke with people working in the entertainment industry about the breakdown, they also confirmed that without the keywords 'Asian' or 'Asian American,' actors of Asian descent would face barriers in accessing the role. Including the keywords would mitigate systemic discriminatory factors prevalent in Hollywood," they wrote.
Oh yes. Marvel Studios is daring enough to have an Asian woman as a lead character. Oh what amazing times we live in. Next we'll find out that they are daring enough to have a lesbian scene with her.
For the record, if the movie is The Last Airbender, the Asian kid needs to be white because he's the male lead, but a female Asian lead is different... because Asian girls are hot.
Enjoy post-racial America everyone!
Monday, August 23, 2010
Producer Bryan Singer laid down some details about the film for Ain't It Cool News. "The film takes place in the 1960's. John F Kennedy is the President of the United States. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X are on TV doing marches. There is a spirit of a hopeful future that was prevalent in that time. We will see how Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr met - and how they dreamt of a future with Mutant & Human kind. They're going to be in their late twenties. Xavier - as played by James McAvoy will not be in his wheelchair to begin the film - but we will see how he wound up in a wheelchair. I asked if McAvoy would have a nice shiny chrome dome - and folks. We're going to see Professor X when he still had hair. We'll see McAvoy and Fassbender's Magneto formulate what it is they are attempting by creating the X-MEN," writes AICN's Harry Knowles, who had a chat with the director. "Now Bryan wanted us to know this is not the conventional FIRST CLASS comic - but rather a new beginning for X-MEN. Set in the 60s - Vaughn is technologically inspired by JAMES BOND's tech of the time. The costumes will be far more comic bookish than we've seen before."
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Monday, August 9, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
To the best of my memory, the first actor to open this can of worms (at least recently) was musician Beyoncé who boldly proclaimed, "It is time for a black Wonder Woman."
I remember the phrase struck me as odd. It is time? Was it not time before? Did anyone ever discuss this ever? Does Beyoncé really want a black Wonder Woman, or does she just want to be Wonder Woman because superhero roles are often a catapult to stardom?
Not long after, it was rumored that Will Smith was being considered to play Captain America and, much more recently, comedian Donald Glover had a viral campaign to play the new Spider-Man.
Obviously, the root of the issue is that all of the big superheroes are white. I won't even bother with a list, because it would really be every character that casual fans have heard of.
So is it time for a black Wonder Woman? I don't think so. Do you know why? Because Wonder Woman is definitively a Greek character. She is an Amazon descended from the Amazons of ancient Greece. I don't care who plays her, but whoever it is should look like she is of Greek descent.
Could there be a black Captain America? Well, I suppose so, and Will Smith certainly strikes me as all-American enough to embody the role. But since the character is grounded in World War II, it strikes me as unlikely that the racism of the period would allow a black man to be the symbol of freedom. The fact that Captain America is blonde haired and blue eyed kind of makes that obvious.
So would making Captain America black whitewash our own racist history (so to speak)? I suppose they could use Kyle Baker's origin of a black Captain America prototype, but I think the issues of race and racism would overwhelm the narrative until it no longer resembles the original concept.
So, could Spider-Man be black? My answer: sure. There is nothing in Spider-Man's character that is racially specific. He is a fairly poor kid raised by his aunt in New York City. This could be any race. Personally, I think he's a Jew. He's overwhelmed by guilt, he is funny, he is smart, and he is constantly worried about money. (Besides, all the great superhero writers were Jews, so really, all of these characters are Jews in white face.)
Which brings me to my next point, why do blacks get the monopoly of moral outrage? I don't see anyone calling for an Asian Batman or Latino Green Lantern. Is this white liberal guilt or a sense of entitlement amongst certain black entertainers? Will someone soon be demanding a gay Spider-Man? There are even less gay superheroes than black ones.
Of course, the most recent racial transformation of a superhero is Nick Fury. This was eased by the fact that this concept was introduced in The Ultimates, but even when I see Samuel L. Jackson playing Nick Fury... I think, "That's Samuel L. Jackson playing Nick Fury." Forget race. Jackson's presence is just so dominating that he hardly seems to act. He just plays it cool... Sam Jackson-style.
I can't help but feel a little disappointed that we never saw George Clooney play a more traditional Nick Fury with his folksy charm, chomping on a stogie. Clooney was made for the role, and would have taken it if Garth Ennis hadn't written a Fury mini-series that was not flattering. (Unfortunately, either Clooney or his agent couldn't separate one artistic interpretation from a long-lasting character.) Maybe a black actor could have played a more traditional interpretation of Fury, but he didn't.
Long story short, some characters are racially specific and some aren't. Certainly, you could not turn Storm, Luke Cage, or Black Panther white. You wouldn't even need outrage from the black community. Everyone would condemn the move within seconds.
In fact, I think only white characters are open for racial alterations. I'm not going to pull a Glenn Beck and say, "woe is the white man," because obviously, these characters are white because we had a lot of racial prejudice in our history. But at the same time, we have to kind of accept that and roll with it.
I have to say, while I'd give a non-white Superman a chance... it would be weird. I don't care if he is black, Asian, latino, or whatever... to me, Superman is just white. Does that make me a racist? Maybe a little, but I think its written into his personality and mannerisms. It's routed in the fact that he represents middle America which is still largely white. He represents traditional values and because of that, he can question them. In a way, Superman passes for white because he isn't really human. He is more of an outsider than any race could be, but he passes as "one of them."
You know what its time for? A Black Panther movie... or Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Maybe even a Black Lightening movie... or let's give Steel another go. How about a StormWatch movie starring Battalion? The point is, if you want a black role model, don't put a cosmetic change on an existing white guy as though he is just a blank slate... as though white is the default color. Take an existing black character and show what makes him special. It worked for Blade (which, by the way, launched the whole superhero frenzy in Hollywood).
So do I mind if Will Smith or Donald Glover play Captain America or Spider-Man? Not really. But I do mind when someone like Beyoncé plays the race card and says, "It's time for a black Wonder Woman" just because she is campaigning for the role.
Don't cry racism just because you want to be famous. That just makes you a twat.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
What is it with franchise tie-in fighting games? I've played a couple of these Marvel vs Capcom games and they completely blow. Apparently they have a loyal following, but I don't get it. The design is a standard two-dimensional side-scroller and the controls show absolutely no evolution from the hit fighters of the early 90s like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat.
But my real complaint is the basic concept. Marvel vs Capcom? Who wants to see that?! I'm an old school fan of Mega Man and Street Fighter, but never have I fantasized or even imagined them fighting Marvel Comics characters.
That's like Disney vs Terminator! Teletubbies vs the Matrix!
And not that long ago they released Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. Really, there is no one in Mortal Kombat that would last half a fucking second against Superman.
So honestly, I'd rather just play a Marvel fighting game than a Marvel fighting game with Capcom characters. At least if you are going to mix universes, keep it in a somewhat consistent genre. I'd love to see a Marvel vs DC fighter... even if it sucked!
I really just wish that they could make more franchise games that are good an immersive. The fun of franchise video games is feeling like you are the person you are playing. When I press a bunch of random buttons and I watch Spider-Man go through some quick animations of punching, kicking, and web-slinging... I don't feel like Spider-Man. I just feel like I'm watching a crappy cartoon.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
A couple dickheads screw it up for everyone. The story of the 21st century.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
I have to say, I thought it was just awful and I think Star Wars fans need to start shutting the fuck up. Don't get me wrong. I love Kevin Smith movies and the Family Guy tribute episodes and the Robot Chicken episodes... but this wasn't that. It was just a celebration of immature, slavish geekiness.
And CLEARLY I don't have a problem with grown men being into something marketed to children, but I do have a problem with geek culture being celebrated as a parody of itself. You see, guys like Kevin Smith said that you can really be into Star Wars and comics while being a complex and intellectual human being. But some people walk away from those his films and just get the message that being a geek is cool.
Being a geek is not cool. Marginalizing comic books or science fiction as part of geek culture isn't cool either. Samuel L. Jackson reads comic books. Comic writer Grant Morrison is as cool as any rockstar and more than most. They aren't cool because they are sitting in their mom's basement sucking down Mountain Dew, playing HALO, and talking about the "holy trinity." They are cool because they don't allow a few limited interests to define them.
For however much time I spend ranting about comic books and Star Trek, this blog is filled with personal insights, politics, philosophy, humor, music, video, book recommendations... Without a diverse set of interests, geeks are as boring and predictable as the most pathetic old lady who collect ceramic trinkets.
And Star Wars fans are the worst because they think they are better than others. This is demonstrated when the fanboys make a detour to "the future birthplace of Captain Kirk" so that they can harass some Star Trek fans. The leader of the Trekkies is played by Seth Rogan wearing a false nose and teeth. Really, he looks like an alien from either series! The reason why Rogan's geek persona is so exaggerated is because he needed to be an even bigger geek than the Star Wars fanboys, and that wasn't easy to do.
The whole scene seems to lack any self-awareness. The obsessive delusions of Trekkies that they are mocking are clearly exhibited by the "Warsies" throughout the entire film, but for some reason, they get a pass. They are cool geeks, not nerd geeks.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not offended. And, I guess the guest appearance by William Shatner was supposed to mediate some of the hostility, but really I think someone needs to bring Star Wars fans down a few pegs.
1) George Lucas is a hack and a greedy, fat fuck. Gene Roddenberry was a war hero, a cop, and an idealist with a message.
George Lucas made one really good film when he was a struggling young artist and god bless him for it. It was a brilliant little film and he was a genius for keeping all of the creative rights. But he has no integrity and I promise you that he doesn't think nearly as much of his creations as his fans do. He didn't even direct the second two films! If the prequel films didn't make this painfully obvious, just look at Return of the Jedi where he stuck in Ewoks as a marketing gimmick and made Leia Luke's sister for LITERALLY NO REASON! This is not a guy you should look up to.
Gene Roddenberry, on the other hand, was literally a World War II hero. He was a pilot in the Air Force who flew a B-17E Flying Fortress. He flew 89 missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal. After the war, he worked for PanAm and after a crash in the Syrian desert traveled miles to seek help and saved the others. Then he joined the LA police force before retiring to become a screenwriter.
2) Star Wars was paint-by-numbers storytelling. Star Trek is about philosophy, sexuality, and morality.
Star Wars is the ultimate example of Hollywood screenwriting because it hits all of the emotional beats with such precision that you would think it was developed by a German with an ass so tight it whistles when he farts. It's like a perfectly crafted piece of furniture and you have to marvel at its elegance... but its not particularly deep. The dialog is stilted and awkward making it vitally important that they had such gifted actors as Harrison Ford and Sir Alec Guinness. The whole idea of "the Force" is a new age bastardization of Taoism. Sure, it follows Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey like R2 follows 3PO... but it doesn't bring anything new.
Star Trek, for all of its hokieness and TV budget, actually tries to address larger, more complex ideas like pascifism, self-acceptance, and revenge. Each episode (to be fair, each good episode) is an allegory on par with Aesop's fables that causes the viewer to question their own nature and the nature of the universe around them. In the sixties, they covered topics like ethnocentrism, sexism, and sexuality. In the eighties, it addressed rampant greed versus self-determination, ideology, and more sexuality. We could debate how well it achieved these goals all day, but you would be hard pressed to argue that Star Wars is deeper than Star Trek.
3) Star Trek has a bigger fiction dick.
By this I mean, Star Wars was six great hours of popcorn munching entertainment, but that's it. It isn't all that complex or involved so once you are done with the movies... there isn't much left. I mean, how much left can fans deconstruct when all you have is six hours. Of course, the next six hours of Star Wars was a crime against humanity and I will support Lucas being dragged to the Hague in chain for trial to answer for those abominations.
Star Trek has certainly had its share of awful, awful crap. I can't deny that... but there is literally over a thousand hours of material to pick and choose from. The are a few fantastic movies and a lot of genuinely emotionally moving episodes. In terms of shear, raw material that adds to the richness of the world and gives you more to deconstruct, Star Trek has Star Wars beat by light-years.
4) The Star Wars/Star Trek war is perpetuated by only the worst of geeks.
Maybe I'm being a little hypocritical here, but I do like Star Wars. I think its a great story, but I love Star Trek. Most fans are the same way. In fact, I don't think I've met any Star Trek fans who doesn't like Star Wars. But there is some sad little part of us that likes to fight over which is better. I'm doing it now, but there is absolutely no hostility between the creators. In fact, the company that does the special effects for Star Trek is Industrial Light & Magic... the same company that Lucas founded to do special effects for Star Wars.
There is plenty of room for both (and a lot more) in the wide realm of sci-fi fantasy. It is only the most insecure geek who goes around thinking they are better than the guy who likes something they don't. Star Wars fans like to pretend that because of more action and Harrison Ford that Star Wars is somehow more mature and cool than Star Trek. It really isn't.
The difference is that Star Trek fans have more patience. They know that they aren't going to see a lot of great action on a TV budget, so they are looking for more meaning in their stories and a greater emotional and intellectual investment. Besides which, they know that they are considered the worst example of a geek... so they don't put on a lot of false airs.
But you know what my real disappointment about this movie was? I was waiting for a time lapse view of the characters watching Phantom Menace as their entire illusion and raison d'etre is shattered. God, I would have loved to see that.
I think we have a sequel. I just hope none of the same people are involved. Until then, I leave you with this: