Friday, May 28, 2010

Can't stop talking about X-Men: First Class

James McAvoy is Charles Xavier.


I heard that they were going to do a young Xavier and Magneto, but this is ridiculous.

Why can't you just adapt the fucking comic book?!

Why can't Patrick Stewart just play a forty year old Xavier instead of a fifty year old Xavier? Is he an expensive actor? I haven't seen him in many films other than Star Trek and X-Men.

What, does he have to be sexy? Do you need the girls in the audience to want to fuck Xavier?


Please, please, please tell me that this is just for a five minute flashback scene.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Top 10 Star Trek actors I would have liked to see in Boston Legal

Boston Legal is one of my top three favorite shows of all time. A small reason for this is the numerous Star Trek cameos. Of course, the star of the series is William Shatner (along with James Spader) who played Denny Crane, a man whose ego is bigger than most of us can even imagine. Another prominent Star Trek actor in this series is Rene Auberjonois who played Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In addition to these two, the show has featured cameo appearances by Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine), Armin Shimerman (Quark), Scott Bakula (Captain Archer), and Ethan Phillips (Neelix).

I would like to think that this isn't an accident, but rather a conscious choice. This show might seem very different than Star Trek; it is set in the modern day, it is a dramatic comedy, it skews to an older demographic... but like Star Trek, David E. Kelley shows are morality plays. By centering the topic in a legal drama, it allows the lawyers to argue both sides of the issue thereby intellectually engaging the audience. The audience is placed in the figurative role of the juror. This can be very engaging, particularly when the advocate of one particular view is cast against type. Like a female lawyer defending a man accused of sexual harassment or a black lawyer opposing a black civil rights case. The fact that lawyers don't necessarily believe their arguments creates depth and subtext. This encourages the viewer to try to adopt beliefs that they would normally be strongly opposed to... even if it is just for the length of the episode.

Long story short, I'm watching the series for my fourth time or so and I can't help but think about other Star Trek actors I would have loved to see on this show. Of course, I won't mention any who were dead while this show was on like DeForest Kelly (although he would have made the list), so without further adieu...

10. Jolene Blalock (T'Pol)

This absolutely gorgeous woman played First Officer T'Pol in the most recent Star Trek series, Enterprise. Although the role was cast almost entirely based on her epic prow, she was actually a really good actress and I think she would be the perfect fit for any David E. Kelley show.

9. Nicole de Boer (Ezri Dax)

The cute, fast-talking replacement for Jadzia Dax in DS9 would be fantastic in Boston Legal. She is a very talented actress with a great sense of humor. If you go back and watch old episodes of Kids in the Hall, you will notice that she is a frequent actress. Her best roll was as Bruce McCulloch's girlfriend in his teenage "no one understands me" bit. Although she could definitely play a lawyer, I see her more as a legal secretary.

8. Avery Brooks (Captain Sisko)

Honestly, I'd just like to see Avery Brooks in more work. There is nothing that makes me think he would be particularly good for Boston Legal, but he is such a compelling actor. He would be great as a plaintive with a really heart-wrenching problem because he has such a powerful emotional range.

7. Jonathan Frakes (William Riker)

I didn't love Jonathan Frakes in TNG, but you have to admit that the guy has charisma and penetrating blue eyes. He is a perfect actor for a David E. Kelley script. He is good at being both confident and overtly sexual, which is exactly what Boston Legal is all about. He could have easily been a recurring character.

6. Dwight Schultz (Reginald Barclay)

Another element of Kelley's characters is that they tend to be... mentally unbalanced or otherwise odd. Dwight Schultz has shown a great ability to play odd characters, but keep it emotionally balanced. Really, his character of Barclay (although out of place on the Enterprise) would be a perfect fit on Boston Legal.

5. John de Lancie (Q)

De Lancie has appeared in guest roles in Kelley's other shows: Ally McBeal and The Practice. De Lancie can do intellectual, funny, and dickishness all in the same character. I'm not just referring to Q. All of his roles were like that. He'd make a great asshole boss or DA.

4. Jeffrey Combs (Shran/Weyoun/Brunt)

Character actor Jeffrey Combs got his start in Star Trek playing several bit parts, one of whom became a major character. His role was so compelling that the writers actually said they were from a race of clone just as an excuse to keep writing for him. He came back for a major role in Enterprise as Shran, but he was also the voice of The Question in Justice League Unlimited and starring as Herbert West in the cult classic, Re-Animator. His best talent is as a compelling villain, so like De Lancie, he would work best as opposing council or an overbearing authority figure... maybe even a judge.

3. Brent Spiner (Data)

Like Avery Brooks, I really just want Brent Spiner to do more work, but his sense of humor and timing would fit perfectly with Kelley's scripts. I could see him as a client with an odd sexual quirk, but I think I could imagine him as an eccentric lawyer as well.

2. Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard)

This one is fairly obvious. Not only is he an incredible actor, but he is hilarious. Literally, he could play any role. He could be a lawyer, boss, judge, client... Kelley's script could no doubt get the best performances from Stewart especially by playing him off of Shatner. We never really got to see these two icons play off of each other, except for Star Trek: Generations and that movie sucked. A Boston Legal crossover would have been the perfect place for that.

1. Leonard Nimoy (Spock)

This is the only one more obvious than Patrick Stewart. Reportedly, Shatner tried to get Nimoy on Boston Legal, but Nimoy insisted that he was retired. Didn't stop him from doing Fringe. Nimoy could have easily been a client of Denny's, but I also would have liked to see him as a rival... possibly Denny Crane's New York or Washington counterpart.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I think I would have done well in the eighties...

I have a great sense of irony and the eighties doesn't. All the better to make fun of people.

Fuck you very much, Marvel Comics

So a new X-Men comic is coming out and Marvel is declaring it "X-Men Day."

If you don't know I'm a huge X-Men fan, you haven't been reading my blog... but I am not happy about this new series being made and I will tell you why.

1) Multiple titles of the same subject (character or team) tend to detract from one another. They may fight over characters or events in one book will effect the other, but if you love one of the books and hate the other, there is nothing more frustrating than having to sit through some shitty crossover.

2) The name of this new comic is "X-Men." There already was a comic called simply "X-Men," but they changed it to "New X-Men" and then "X-Men: Legacy" (neither of which really made much difference). The problem is that it is hard to talk about this title. What titles are you reading? "Well, Uncanny X-Men, Astonishing X-Men, and X-Men X-Men." A lot of people actually called it the adjective-less X-Men. This is just poor branding. If you are going to have multiple titles of the same subject, they each need their own style and the best way to define that style is with the name.

3) This is a ridiculously gimmicky comic. It began with a series of "sly" teaser images saying that Spider-Man, Blade, Elektra, and some other ridiculous characters are X-Men. The whole thing turned me off even then and I didn't know what it was. When they finally revealed their plan, they announced that this was a story about vampire mutants and they would be teaming up with all sorts of Marvel characters to fight them.

I know comic readers are kind of immature, but this sounds like bad fan fic. Nevermind that the X-Men are currently based in San Francisco and all of these other characters are in New York.

4) This series is written by Victor Gischler. Who is he? I don't know. I've never heard of him. So why should I give a fuck? Art by Paco Medina. I've heard of him. His work is... okay. I think... if he is the guy I'm thinking of...

So you are making a big deal about a team I love with a horribly generic concept, a creative team that no one has heard of, to release another comic that will make your titles even more difficult to follow.

You've gone past greedy to retarded. Even your die hard fans are embarrassed by you.

Sad. Just fucking sad.

Marvel/DC Continuity Song

Monday, May 24, 2010

For Rogue fans

I'm not a Rogue fan, but I think my only two readers are, so when I saw a list of the greatest Rogue stories ever and actually agreed with it, I thought I'd repost it here. Check out these issues if you want to read the best of Rogue. Also recommended is the current X-Men: Legacy by Mike Carey starring Rogue.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I've been thinking about my influences lately. Not just "writing" influences (although most definitely that) but people or even characters who influence our behavior?

Who are YOUR influences? That's not a rhetorical question. Please, comment your influences at the bottom of this post.

My influences are pretty broad. I cast a wide net. My writing influences include (in no particular order) Rod Serling, David E. Kelly, Chris Claremont, Gene Roddenberry, Joss Whedon, Sam Keith, Grant Morrison, Peter David, Alan Moore, and Adam Warren. There are many other whose works I love, but these are the ones I want to be like. That's a big difference.

My comedic influences (still in no order) include Steve Martin, Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, the Smothers Brothers, Marc Maron, Joe Rogan, Mel Brooks, Animaniacs, Bugs Bunny, Eddie Izzard, Monty Python, Peter Sellers, The Tick, Scud, and my dad.

My fictional personality (I'm not doing an order, dammit) influences include Cyclops, Beast, Indiana Jones, Superman, Peter Pan, Sherlock Holmes, Jean-Luc Picard, Benjamin Sisko, Jadzia Dax, Longshot, the Tramp, Spider-Man, Storm, Alan Shore, Dr. Strange, and Sam Beckett.

Hmmm... philosophic influences? Aristotle, Lao Tzu, Descartes... I would have thought there would be more. I guess most of them were pretty full of themselves... or insane... or incredibly uptight. There's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Promethea; spiritual influences like Buddhism or shamanism. Socio-political influences like Douglas Rushkoff, Jon Stewart, and Michael Moore. I guess I find philosophy through other things than philosophers. I'll need to give that more thought.

I was thinking about my moral influences and while there were certainly people like my mom and dad, I think my that all of these people, stories, or characters influenced my morality considerably.

Who are your influences? Give it some thought.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

This is NOT the worst part of Dumbo

Dumbo is my favorite Disney movie of all time. Fantasia is a close second.

Why? Because its like an animated David Lynch movie! It is about a baby born with a dramatic birth defect who is picked on by others. When his mom defends him, she is locked up in jail and he is dressed up as a clown and publicly humiliated and tortured on a nightly basis by other clowns!

That's just fucking awesome!

But everyone keeps saying that the Pink Elephant scene is the creepiest part of that movie!

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! It's trippy, psychadelic, and awesome, but really this has to be one of the tamer things in this movie.

I don't get people...

The original Empire Strikes Back

Behold! The trailer for the original Empire Strikes Back from the '50s!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Smallville canceled?

So the rumor is that Smallville is only going to have one more season... its tenth.

You know, I always thought this show would end right as I started to get interested in it.

It is really no surprise and everyone is just amazed that it lasted this long. What I would like is for "Smallville" to be canceled and replaced with "Superman: Metropolis." Enough foreplay. Let's see the real Superman! I'd settle for these actors (or at least the ones who play Clark and Lois) to star in the next Superman film.

But probably neither of these things will happen, so what would I like to see in season ten?

Well, I heard a rumor that Darkseid will be the villain. That would be awesome, but improbable on a TV budget. Really, the show needs to go full circle and bring back Lex Luthor as an uncompromising villain. If Lex doesn't have a major role by the series finale, it will be a big failure in my book.

Comics on television

Until very recently, it wasn't possible to show superheroes on film. The feats of the comic books (and the costumes) were so incredible that there was really no way to reproduce it effectively without advanced CGI. Although wirework had been around in 1975's Superman, you can't use wires to convey Spider-Man's acrobatic swinging or Iron Man's jet boots. This is still the primary factor preventing superhero TV shows, but that is starting to go away.

It has recently been announced that Heroes is being cancelled, but two new superhero shows have already been developed for the next season. The Cape is an antihero story somewhere between Batman and Spawn while No Ordinary Family is about a family that gains superpowers, similar to Fantastic Four or The Incredibles. I'm not sure that either of these will last, but it shows me that there is a big interest in bringing superheroes to the small screen.

Personally, I think this is fantastic because the story progression of comic books lend themselves better to the episodic nature of television rather than the blockbuster style of film. Case in point, a comic series, like a television series, is based entirely on the premise which is shown in the first issue (or pilot). In Cheers, the premise was of a Harvard educated woman working as a waitress in a sport's bar. In Arrested Development, the premise was of a responsible single father trying to save a failing family business as well as a failing family. Likewise, superheroes are defined by their origin - which is both how they got their unique abilities and how they came to use those abilities for the general good. For this reason, the first superhero movie has a much greater possibility for success because it has the most engaging aspect of the story - the premise.

However, in order to develop this premise slowly, you need to be able to show it from many different perspectives. This cannot be easily done in a few short films because unlike, say, Star Wars which had an obvious conclusion in Luke becoming a Jedi master and the destruction of the Empire, comics do not have an obvious conclusion, so there is nothing to build toward.

Think about it. What is "the end" of the Hulk? Does he find the cure for the Hulk? Does he die? How about Fantastic Four? Or Spider-Man? Or Superman? Or Batman? I'm willing to bet that I know these characters better than you, but even I don't know what the logical conclusion of these stories would be.

In large part, they are designed not to be concluded. As the Superman announcer used to say, its a "never-ending battle" that they are on and that is part of the charm. This is why television would lend itself better to adapting comics.

Television has a long-running, open-ended format that is very similar to comics, but different in a few crucial ways. First, television is finite. Every show is canceled at some point, so this forces the writers to work toward some sort of conclusion eventually. Second, television comes in seasons with each season (usually) representing a year in the life of the character. This would add a lot more structure to superhero concepts because a season premiere/finale serves as a natural transition point.

Of course, there have been several great superhero cartoons - X-Men, Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, The Tick, Wolverine & the X-Men, Justice League, Spectacular Spider-Man... but few have managed to make it into live action drama. Of course, the most notorious example is the 1966 Batman series. While his lack of powers would seem to lend itself well to television, his costume, resources, and privacy are an impediment to that, so it works best in film (although, I have no doubt that there will someday be a great live action Batman TV show).

One superhero who has succeeded in live action television better than any other is Superman. On the surface, you would think that Superman has too many powers to represent him on film, but all of his powers are easy to do on a budget - super-strength, super-speed, invulnerability, heat vision, super-hearing, X-ray vision... The hardest one is flight, which is why Smallville intentionally left that power out. Additionally, Superman has a lot of elements that just lend itself to good television drama. First, there is the romantic tension between him and Lois. Second, they work in a newspaper - which is an easy way to write them into all sorts of situations.

So what other superheroes would lend themselves well to the little screen? Well, if you've read my previous posts, you know that I would put the X-Men and Daredevil at the top of that list. The X-Men is going to be more difficult for several reasons, but it is insanely popular especially amongst young women so it has possibly the best chance for wide appeal. Daredevil, on the other hand, would be a lot more gritty and grounded, but when seen as a legal drama, the cross-genre potential is obvious.

Probably the character most suited to live action drama is Spider-Man. He starts off as a teenager and is constantly conflicted between the demands of superheroing, school, work, relationships, and family. He is an absolutely identifiable figure and it is virtual impossible not to get caught up in his problems. The big problem is the aforementioned web swinging. This is very difficult to do without CGI, so it would mostly depend on tricky editing and sound effects to minimize the actual acrobatics and focus on the emotional moments.

Another big problem with Spider-Man would be the villains. These are not characters that lend themselves easily to low budget interpretations. Some would work very well like Punisher, Kraven, Silver Sable, Hammerhead, Kingpin, the Enforcers, maybe even Mysterio... but the big ones, Dr. Octopus, Green Goblin, the Lizard, Rhino, Sandman... these would be really hard to do on a TV budget.

I'm not sure what else would work. Fantastic Four? Probably not. Hulk? I could easily see a new Hulk series taking off, as long as they could afford the obvious CGI necessary.

Food for thought.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Caged animal

Snarling, pacing, barking
Chewing at bars which file and crack my teeth
Pacing in circles
Faster and faster
Eyes fixed on the spectators
An accusing, fixed stare
Throwing my body against the bars
As though will alone was enough to break free

Monday, May 17, 2010

In Praise of Mild-Manneredness

I have recently come to accept that I am a mild-mannered individual. I was struggling with it for a long time because I am generally very quiet. I feel like I gravitate between talking about big concepts as though I'm trying to impress someone and trivial bullshit that is so boring, sometimes I refuse to finish my sentences because there is--

Anyway, I was watching Smallville and finding it strange that I was identifying with Clark Kent... because I didn't think you were supposed to identify with Clark. I'm certainly not the boy scout that he is. I like to experiment with sex and drugs and live amongst all the misfits of the world.

But on the other hand, I'm a lot like Clark. I am incredibly honest, fairly responsible (more so for others than myself), and I always try to treat people with respect. I'm also pretty boring in some ways.

It occurs to me that interesting people are frequently assholes. To be interesting, there has to be a certain amount of not caring about others. Just the "fuck it" mentality. It helps to be loud and overbearing. It helps to be irresponsible and wake up to new messes every day.

Granted, I could probably use a bit of that, but it isn't really me. There is a reason that I identified with Cyclops for so long when others just hated him. I can see why people would think he is boring. He isn't sarcastic or angry or goofy or any of those things people love, but that's because he is trying to be the best person he can be.

I think we could use more mild-mannered people in this world... particularly in this country. It isn't a value that we teach in our MTV culture. It is the rowdy people who have big parties they expect others to clean up after. Mild-mannered people are the bedrock of society.

There is a line in DS9 where someone compares Miles O'Brien to Atlas. He is the every man that keeps things running. I think we need more of that... though I still intend to be a writer, not a construction worker or farmer. But I'd like to approach my trade with that same sort of quiet dignity. I've always felt writing should be approached with an earnest heart.

Anyway, offer a toast with me to those mild-mannered men and women who never receive the praise they so richly deserve.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Water-based superheroes will never be popular

So both Marvel and DC are trying to launch an ongoing series about their own personal prince of Atlantis. For those of you not in the know, Marvel owns the golden age anti-hero Namor and DC owns the golden age fish talker, Aquaman.

I can't think of anything to say other than "Give up." These characters will never be popular. Do you know why? First, it is hard to identify with someone who spends ninety percent of their time underwater from an ancient and largely undefined mystical civilization. Second, most of your audience consists of insecure heterosexual males. They do not want to read a comic about a guy in a speedo. It would be better to replace them with Namora and Aquagirl. A comic about women in swim suits doesn't even have to be good to sell. Third, just come on! A superhero who fights in water? How many different stories can you come up with around that?

More J5 music videos

I love Jurassic 5's music, but their videos are pretty awesome too. Check out What's Golden in my previous post.

If you don't think Dick Cheney on a segway is hilarious, I just don't get you.

Also, not a video, but this song is unbelievable.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

WTF! X-Men: First Class update

Okay... so Jane Goldman is writing the new X-Men: First Class script. Whether its with those other people I mentioned or a completely new script, I don't know.

But FUCK is she hot!

She's a writer? Are you fucking kidding me?

I am currently cumming my brain into my underwear.


So now I'm jealous of her and her husband in more ways than I can stand to think about.

Someone needs to medicate me.

The Modern Empowered Woman

Monday, May 10, 2010

SPOILER ALERT: Iron Man 2 review

In case the title didn't make it clear, this is NOT a spoiler-free review so if that concerns you, come back after you've seen the movie.

Are we good? Okay.

So I just saw Iron Man 2. I've been reading the original Iron Man comics and watching several superhero movies (especially Marvel) to get a sense of the Iron Man character and how the superhero genre translates into film.

It seems to me that the superhero genre is all about the beginning, not the end. The origin (or "premise") sets the character's defining elements and then the creators find as many different ways of looking at that premise as possible. However, unlike a traditional self-contained story, the superhero story isn't going anywhere. That is to say, unlike Luke Skywalker who had a character arc where he develops into a Jedi and defeats the empire, superhero stories don't have a natural place for the story to end. Due to the way they are marketed, it actually becomes important that the story has no end. This is the difference between a serial story and a contained story.

All of this is to say that the first movie in a franchise is most likely to be the best. The story focuses on the most crucial character development, going from a guy to a hero. This was the storyarc of the first film as we saw the arrogant and self-absorbed Tony Stark abducted by terrorists. From this experience, he questions his life and changes his ways.

In Iron Man 2, Tony is still arrogant and flighty and irresponsible. Granted, that's how we like him, but his self-destructive streak goes to far and he just becomes obnoxious for the majority of the film. This culminates in Tony's birthday party where he is unbelievably drunk and hanging out in his armor to impress his shallow "friends." Pepper and Rhodie arrive and are apparently the only ones concerned for him. Pepper tries to talk him into ending the party, but fails so Rhodie puts on a Iron Man suit and solves things with a fist fight.

When this scene started, it was hard for me to tell who was being stupider - Stark or Rhodes. At least Stark was drunk and just showing off. Rhodie was stone-cold sober and intending to get in a fight with a high tech battle suit... at a busy party... with a drunk guy in another battle suit. It was just dumb and macho.

Hmmm... what else... Black Widow was kind of disappointing. She didn't even have a Russian accent! Half the fun of having a Russian spy is the accent! I understand she was undercover as an American, but I expected her to slip into Chekov-speak after her cover was blown. I was also hoping for some sort of connection between her and Whiplash. I think that would have helped her motivation. I also wanted to see her versus Iron Man. I would have liked to see at least one fight before she helped the good guys. She did start off as a villain, after all.

Speaking of which, "robot battle suits versus robot battle suits" is getting a little old already. I know it is only the second movie, but it is getting a little familiar. I liked that Whiplash didn't have armor, but then at the end, he has armor so...

But the "Wha- huh?" moment of the film was the end where Tony Stark finally wants to be in the Avengers Initiative when Nick Fury rejects him by saying, "Iron Man is approved, but Tony Stark isn't."

So... are you saying Robert Downey Jr. won't be in the Avengers? Will Don Cheadle be in the Iron Man armor? Is it a contract negotiation thing and you are trying to save on budget? Or is this some sort of tease?

Well, if Robert Downey Jr. isn't going to be in the Avengers, I'm pretty disappointed on a few levels. Mostly, when I think about an Avengers movie, it isn't that I want to see all the superpowers together, I want to see the characters together. If this movie is about Steve Rogers and Thor meeting... Col. James Rhodes, it won't be nearly as much fun. Steve Rogers is an old-fashioned guy from a more classical time. Thor even more so. They contrast well with Stark who is so uniquely contemporary and possessing dubious morality.

All of that aside, I enjoyed the film, but I agree with all of the reviews I've seen that say it doesn't hold up to the original. The action is pretty uneven with a lot of mediocre and kind of tedious character stuff at the beginning and most of the fighting happening in the last half-hour. There is a completely gratuitous cameo appearance by Captain America's shield that is played as a cheap joke which will only get cheaper with time. And if you stay after the credits, you will get to see Thor's hammer, Mjolnir.

Getting to my point in a round about way, the second movie is always going to be harder than the first, and if I can tolerate some godawful comic books, I can tolerate a somewhat uneven action film. I just hope the next one offers something a bit new. Mandarin might be a hard villain to make work (because he uses magic and is little more than a racist stereotype), but Iron Monger and Whiplash aren't exactly A-list villains. I would say that the next Iron Man movie needs a bit more to it in order to keep this franchise alive.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Yet Another X-Men: First Class update

You might as well get used to these.

The screenwriters have been announced as Zack Stentz and Ashley Edward Miller. If you haven't heard of them, neither has anyone else. Their credits include a few episodes of Andromeda, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Fringe along with the Thor movie.

This does not inspire confidence.

Aren't screenwriters fairly cheap? Do you really have to pinch pennies by hiring TV people?

I guess they could be good. I'd certainly take all of those jobs... but where is Michael Chabon or Joss Whedon or William Goldman... you know, the gifted screenwriters that have written superhero material before? Or David Goyer?

Throw me a bone here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

X-Men: First Class update

So the latest rumor is that Matthew Vaughn is going to direct X-Men: First Class. Vaughn has previously directed Kick-Ass, Stardust, and Layer Cake.


Eh. It might work... if he ignores everything Bryan Singer says.

Still, my stomach is tied up in knots.


I should have better things to develop anxiety over.



... I know he might surprise me. I liked Stardust... I don't remember Layer Cake... I haven't seen Kick-Ass...

But why couldn't it be Joss Whedon? And why couldn't Bryan Singer get hit by a truck?