Over the past decade, I have become increasingly dismayed with the “films” coming out of Hollywood. Of course, you know that I am talking about the fetishization of pop-culture nostalgia. Let’s face it; they just don’t make movies like they used to. From Transformers to G.I. Joe, from The Karate Kid to Teen Wolf (it is going to be on MTV – and do not even get me started on the topic of “Music Television...”), it is difficult (editor’s note: impossible) to name a recent big-budget film that is not a remake/reboot/reimagining/reinventing/sequel/prequel/sidequel. Some may argue that there are only “seven original stories in existence,” but, let’s be honest here; this is a completely specious argument. At the end of the day, all humans eat, breath, and sleep, but are their lives all the same?
While furthering our knowledge of the origin and nature of theoretical physics, physicist Stephen Hawking has become one of the most vital scientific minds since Albert Einstein. Hawking has accomplished revolutionary work on the existence of black holes and published multiple best-selling books on his scientific discoveries over the past 40 years. Overcoming great professional and personal obstacles such as his battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), Hawking earned legendary status among his fellow physicists with his notable endeavor to understand the universe. With his most successful book, A Brief History of Time, he explained the evolution of his thinking about the cosmos for general audiences, earning him status as an accessible genius and a household name. Hardly slowed by his battle with ALS, Hawking has continued his research into theoretical physics, written another book, and traveled the globe giving lectures to the general public.
First and foremost, I am a rabid David Sedaris fan. I was first introduced to the humorous essayist just over a year ago with his 2008 book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames. Ever since, I have read almost every one of his books within one sitting; I just cannot put them down. I expected no less from his most recent work, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, a collection of short stories that highlights questions of morality and societal ills as enacted by animals. While no less comical than his previous stories, this brief book provides the present-day reader with opportunities to laugh and learn from the assorted creatures who share our trials and tribulations in raising children, alienation from friends, adultery, and racism.
David Sedaris is many things: writer, humorist, and radio contributor for National Public Radio, often working with Ira Glass’ “This American Life.” (Perhaps not well known is the fact that Glass discovered Sedaris in a Chicago club, reading stories from his diary.) Known for his short stories which are, in most cases, autobiographical (yet exaggerated) and self-defacing, Sedaris has enjoyed several, national bestsellers with Naked, Holidays On Ice (featuring his acclaimed essay “SantaLand Diaries," which was first introduced on NPR), Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, and When You Are Engulfed in Flames. The stories feature accounts of his family’s inner-workings, his numerous odd jobs across the county, and his various follies into drugs that are downright hysterical. The events are sometimes so far-fetched that part of the fun is wondering where the truth leaves off and the exaggeration begins. Despite the repetition of some stories in multiple books, the occurrence only allows the reader to re-experience the humor that may have been forgotten.
As the Fanboy Comics staff takes time to revel in the goodwill and merriment of the holiday season, I have found that there is no better time than now to celebrate the movie that encompasses the true meaning of Christmas: the 1988 Bill Murray classic, Scrooged. Here are the top ten reasons that this gem remains number one in our hearts after all of these years:
10. Whether you currently have a job (you lucky dog, you) or even if you’re hoping that unemployment benefits will be extended, we have all had a boss who rewards our long hours of hard work with free company-emblazoned swag which probably cost about 30¢ to make in a third-world country. Nothing says “Job well done!” during the holidays like a stress ball shaped like a globe.
9. Who wouldn’t be inclined to tune in to A Christmas Carol that promises acid rain and drugs?! Despite the footage of international terrorist warfare (too soon?), I think that we can all agree that the Frank Cross’ promo for IBC’s A Christmas Carol was far superior to Eliot Loudermilk’s feel-good, family trailer.
For fans of all things horror and make-up effects, the Monsterpalooza convention returned to the Marriott Hotel in Burbank, CA, providing a chance for all to mingle with independent artists and industry professionals alike in an exciting yet accessible setting. Presented by the Rubber Room and running from April 8-10, the convention exhibits make-up and special effects artists, vendors selling creature-feature DVDs, t-shirts, and posters, make-up and digital design colleges, a monster museum, and a number of well-known genre actors. As a special treat, guests of the con can count on appearances by industry giants like Guillermo del Toro, Jon Favreau, and Greg Nicotero, wandering through the booths, celebrating the creature genre as much as the next fan.
As a continued foray into the B-movie and exploitation films of the seventies, Robert Rodriguez’s 2010 Machete more than delivered in tastelessness and violence. Originally opening in theatres in September of 2010, the film was recently released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 4, 2011. The feature-length film is an expansion of a fake trailer created for Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s 2007 Grindhouse double-feature, and, encouraged by their rabid fan base, it was quickly developed into a star-studded action movie. Despite a cast that was riddled with Hollywood heavy-hitters and a story that included the uber-controversial immigration reform debate, Machete succeeded only in extending the same violence, nudity, and crudeness as was captured in its trailer.
For director Robert Rodriguez, Machete was a project that was long in the making. As a long-time friend and fan of actor Danny Trejo, who has made appearances in almost (if not) all of Rodriguez’s films, the director had intended to create an action film that encapsulated a Latin feel while geared towards a larger audience. Although a script for the film was written in 2003 by Rodriguez, his full production plate kept him from focusing on the film until his shared Grindhouse project with long-time partner Quentin Tarantino in 2007. A fake trailer for the Machete was included in the B-movie extravaganza, featuring actors including Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, and Jeff Fahey, all Rodriguez standards. Over the next three years, Rodriguez assembled his cast, starting with the Oscar-winning Robert DeNiro. After securing such a big-named actor, the remaining casting came easily. The final cast of Machete finally formed, including actors of the likes of Don Johnson, Steven Seagal, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Tom Savini (another continued Rodriguez player), and the “prolific” Lindsay Lohan.
I am a woman, I am a geek, and I do not look like Adriana Lima. I devour trade paperbacks like Ex Machina and Preacher, I quote episodes of Firefly, and I will happily discuss the philosophies of Watchmen for hours on end. I am a self-proclaimed professional VGW (Video Game Watcher); I can back-seat drive you through any map on Halo from my comfy spot on the couch. In my mind, I am a typical American fan girl. Having attended numerous comic and geek culture conventions like the San Diego and Pittsburgh Comic-Cons and Monsterpalooza, I have had the pleasure of meeting and befriending fan girls of all shapes, sizes, and ages. Yet, when I turn on G4, a television channel devoted to all things video games, technology, and web related (essentially, genres of the geek kind), the only females that I see on the screen could easily be mistaken for Victoria’s Secret models. (Think that I’m over-exaggerating? Be sure to catch an episode of Attack of the Show, co-hosted by Playmate-of-the-Year Sara Jean Underwood.) Fortunately, this program casting was not always the case; however, in recent years, the channel has undergone numerous corporate overhauls and consolidations, steering itself further away from its originally intended fan base.
For many Fanboys (and Fangirls) in the geek ‘verse, it may be difficult to find the “right” holiday gift for your female companion during this festive time of year. This daunting task can often prove to be more challenging if said significant other does not share your affinity for all things comic-related.
Well, fear no more! As the Coolest Geek Girl Ever, I submit to you a number of holiday gift ideas that will not only warm your sweetie’s heart but will also have them venturing deep into geek territory. (I know; you can thank me later.)
As a succinct illustration of the sophisticated yet wacky humor of comedian Steve Martin, Cruel Shoes successfully functioned as a social commentary on the rise of stand-up comedy during the1970s. Consisting of over fifty comedic poems and short stories, Cruel Shoes creatively encompassed Martin’s distinct comedic style, which differed so drastically from the counterculture icons of the1970s. While this first published compilation received countless accolades by comedic and literary critics alike, his popularity only skyrocketed from his already rock-star status as a stand-up comedian. Having benefited from the myriad of television and stage venues that appeared during the decade, Martin and countless other comics were catapulted to stardom by performing their stand-up acts on shows like Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show. In retrospect, Martin’s Cruel Shoes literally demonstrated his career aspirations, as stand-up comedy had always been a mere stepping stone towards his main goal of writing and acting in film. Now an accomplished writer, producer, actor, and art collector, Martin has come a long way from his days of stand-up and his publication of Cruel Shoes.
In this age of technological dependence, you’re nobody unless somebody follows your blog. Over the past twenty years, the popularity of blogging has reached epic proportions, pervading the mainstream mass media, employment searches, pop culture, and even politics. Job search engines encourage job seekers to beef up their resumes with links to their blog and/or personal website. Major media outlets encourage their correspondents to blog (yes, it’s a verb!) to maintain a personal connection with their viewers and fans. Your mother probably has her own blog, detailing her latest attempt at Paula Dean’s Chicken Chili recipe to her Book Club friends. While the blog has become a tool for both major corporations and Justin Bieber fan clubs to reach as many individuals as possible, the communication method is without order. No harm will come to you if you do not use proper grammar or spelling. The MLA and APA police will not show up at your door, if you do not cite your reference material. Aside from the occasional questions of liability or defamation, bloggers can say whatever they want, whenever they want, to whomever will click on their blog link.