Tuesday, December 30, 2008

DREAMTIME: Fantastic Voyage

This morning I dreamt I was part of the maiden voyage of an experimental journey -- into somebody's body. Very pleasant change after dreaming of fighting monsters most of the past week.

This one wasn't really "exciting," but I do remember one interlude: having the sub make a pit stop whilst I popped out to grab my CD case, located inside a mall. Got an appointment this morning, so time to make breakfast.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Enter: Hour 42!

Apologies for the extended layoff last week; as I've said before, I don't really have a use for the season. The days leading up to the new year, though, I enjoy a lot more -- it's always better to look ahead.

With that in mind, I wanted to give everyone a heads-up about Hour 42, the new podcast hosted by my longtime friend Peter Pixie and my alter-ego good friend El Secreto. The show covers, quite simply, superheroes -- the ones we read about, the ones we watch, and the ones living among us. Best of all, it's totally interactive -- you can call and join in the fun toll-free each and every episode. The premiere, sure to become a collector's item, is next Sunday night at 8pm PST.

Mr. Pixie says he came up with the idea last year, in concurrence with the formation of L.O.C.A.L 42 -- the League of Costumed Activists Local 42. L.O.C.A.L 42 aims to represent RLSHs (Real Life Superheroes) in the 316 area code.

Yes, I said Real Life Superheroes. Ordinary people who, from what I've read so far, go out and do charitable endeavors (not necessarily "crime-fighting") in costumes of their own creation. Rolling Stone looks like it's taking a pot-shot at the idea of RLSHs in its' latest issue. RS might've given the two guys featured in the excerpt the cover story, but alas, they weren't wearing Fall Out Boy t-shirts. RS has to protect its' journalistic integrity, y'know. It's not like other subcultures are capable of good deeds, right?

Short story long, I'm not an RLSHer myself, but I think the idea brings up some good questions, and hopefully, the show will be able to explore those with a sense of fair play -- and provide some all-around geeky fun, besides. So, here's to hoping you give it a shot in a few days. Stay tuned, True Believers ...

Listen to Hour42 on internet talk radio

Monday Morning Trailer Party

Had an appointment get pushed back 'til Tuesday, so that gave us time to rummage around. We'll start with a couple of items from IO9, including this story about the much-delayed release of Fanboys, and the battle between the film's distributors and ... well, the fanboys (and girls.)

In the truth-in-advertising department, check out what's sure to become Steve Taylor's favourite film: Lesbian Vampire Killers. This one's been gathering a buzz since 2006, when a BBC web poll revealed the title alone had British horror fans wanting to know more about it. The film's Facebook profile seems to sum it up best: "It's Shaun Of The Dead with tits."

Children's Hospital is something I read about on Pop Candy awhile back. The webseries, divided into neat 5- or 6-minute chunks, features Rob Corddry, Ed Helms, and skewering of the usual medical show cliches. Check out the (nsfw) first episode above.

Black Dynamite (sfw trailer in the link) looks like it's attempting to do for '70s blaxploitation films what The Lost Skeleton Of Cadavra did for '50s horror. I dunno, this could be really good, or really bad ...

Friday, December 26, 2008


You wrote yourself into a corner safe
Easy to defend your borders
A fallen saint into a whispered time

My music collection continued to grow this year. I sent more mixtapes, discovered more mp3 blogs, read more and researched more about different genres throughout 2008. But when I think about the song that will remind me the most of this year, I'll think of the song I played over and over on probably too many nights for my own good, a song that was actually released in 2007: "Unguided," by The New Pornographers.

I played that song during many a midnight walk this year, particularly during my rather tumultous spring and summer. The song starts off almost serenely, gathering steam until, almost before you realize it, that cathartic final chorus hits you:

There's something unguided in the sky
There is something unguided in the sky

There were a lot of nights where things seemed unguided, off-balance. It took me a lot of effort to bring myself back to some sense of equilibrium. But, employment misadventures aside, I do have some hope going into '09. But we'll talk about that next week.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Countdown Begins: Arturo v. The Next Doctor!

It's going to be tough to gauge the impending end of the Tenth Doctor. Sad to say, "The Next Doctor" doesn't make that any easier.

As in Christmas specials past, this adventure takes The Doctor (David Tennant) to London, this time in 1851. With the events of Journey's End not forgotten (he's dried himself off since then, at least), the Doc hears another adventure calling -- but there's another brave, if cocky, man called The Doctor answering it with him. This other Doctor (David Morrissey) has his own TARDIS, his own Companion and even his own Sonic Screwdriver.

No telling how that's possible, but it's at this point the episode diverges from the audio book* that seems to have inspired it, because the show substitutes the slapstick of The Runaway Bride for a meatier relationship between the two Doctors, showcasing the chemistry between the two Davids, which anybody who watched Blackpool is already aware of. While not a bad idea for an approach, Russell T. Davies' script does err too far on the side of bromance, leaving the other Doctor's Companion, the otherwise caustic and competent Rosita (Velile Tshabalala), terribly lacking in screen time.

Providing a welcome respite from the schmaltz, at least, are the Cybermen, taking center stage for the first time since getting utterly pwned by the Daleks two seasons ago. Thankfully, not only do the viewers get an explanation for their whereabouts since Doomsday, but the Cybermen gain a welcome new ally in Miss Hartigan.

Played by Dervla Kirwan with a mind more than steely enough for her Cyberbuddies, this devil in a red dress is the first Christmas special baddie who seems fit to join the Doctor's regular rogues' gallery. Our villains' ultimate plot, served with just a touch of steampunk, also makes for a decent visual spectacle to match the latest threat to The Doctor.

Despite the more interesting batch of villains, though, "The Next Doctor" failed to rise above the level of previous Christmas episodes, stand-alone and possibly even forgettable in hindsight. One clue provided tonight: apparently The Doctor will be flying solo for a bit longer; Companions, he says, break his heart.

Normally the lack of set-up is no big -- there's always the season premiere, right? Not this time. With the Tenth Doctor's final lap consisting of a group of "special episodes," there is literally little time before Tennantmania is forced to bite the dust. Is RTD up to his final task -- orchestrating the grand send-off deserving of Everybody's Favo(u)rite Doctor? Unfortunately, we're going to have to wait until Easter 2009, at least, before getting any further clues.

* Thanks to Peter Pixie for tipping us off!

Friday, December 19, 2008

OLD MEMES: Dinner & A Floorshow

A little over four years ago today, I was working a temp job in the mailroom of a somewhat-reputable financial firm. Luckily for me, that meant an invite to the company holiday party.

So there I was -- no shit! -- walking into my office holiday party Friday night, dressed to impress: my swing shoes under a black dress shirt & slacks, topped off by a purple blazer. Finishing the ensemble, at the request of my hot co-worker H, my black fedora. And the first thing I see upon entering the ballroom -- or rather, the second; the first was the open bar -- was a bunch of middle-aged white guys, dressed for a business meeting, staring right back at me.

I grabbed my first rum & coke -- or rather, my third; I'd warmed up with a couple in my $120 hotel room; more on that (and more semicolons) later -- and ducked out the door while the Average White Band contingent regrouped, and hoped nobody informed security about a Suspiciously Fashionable Brown Man running around. Then I noticed a group of about four guys sitting outside, smoking, like the guys at my high school dances who would do that to prove that they didn't buy into that whole system, MAN! I didn't know them personally, but I knew they worked in the mailroom.

"Come hang with us, man," one of them motioned to me, being careful not to drop his two beers. "We're cool." And indeed they were. I felt like I was in that scene from Titanic where DiCaprio parties with the poor folks below the deck while the jaded well-dressed bourgeois had their stuffy to-do upstairs. I wondered: were my new drinking buddies making a similar statement? Were they rejecting the polyester politics going on inside?

Sadly, no. In fact, some of them hadn't even gotten the memo about the dress code. So these poor schmucks had shown up right after work. In their Dockers and blue jeans. But after a minute or two, I learned they were getting more out of the party than our bosses. All I had to do was look up.

And there they were, in the middle window of the fourth story of a set of rooms behind the ballroom: a couple, en fragante delicto, lights on and all bets off. And the dude was putting in some serious work. "It's like One NIght In Paris and shit," somebody said.

Don't give me that look. You'd be looking, too, given the situation. Within minutes we went from "HOLY SHIT!" giddiness to critiquing them like they were figure skaters. A couple of women from another department joined us, and within seconds they were knocking the woman in the window for having "skanky hair." By my fourth C&C, the crowd would ebb and flow seemingly with each Skinemax-worthy thrust.

"Dinner and a floorshow, you can't beat it," I told a graying middle manager, who immediately nudged a buddy and repeated my joke, then asked me to repeat it. Having killed outside, I went back inside, where the crowd had gotten mercifully younger, though the communal tie fetish kept going.

"Look at you, pimp!" a former supervisor said upon seeing me. "You look like a hip-hop mogul!" Overall, the hat was the biggest hit with the stuffed-shit crowd, followed closely by the shoes and the coat, which I explained as a gift from my uncle, Don Cornelius. At some point all these compliments must've gone to my hat.

Maybe it was my BAC talking, but I ended up having a decent time at dinner. It helped that the office's top dog finished his address by saying, "Remember, drink responsibly ... but keep drinking!" The guy'd make a great journalist. My biggest disappointment, aside from the so-bloody-it-almost-escaped-from-my-fork steak, was not finding any woman drunk, er, sporting enough to join me for some swing-dancing.

H, who's engaged to a drum-and-bass DJ, refused, saying she "only danced to my music." (Of course, she was out on the floor shaking her gloriously ample tucchus to Kanye West later, but it's not like I'm bitter.) Likewise, a nice gal I met who looked even more like a gangster than I did balked after I told her the DJ didn't have any Squirrel Nut Zippers. I ended up joining my department for a round of uninspired attempts at rhythm. Seriously, ladies, tell me: is swing-dancing that traumatic? It's not like I sat anybody on a copier.

By the time the party wrapped up, the happy couple upstairs had gone another couple of rounds, as more onlookers, Suits and Temps alike, took in the spectacle. I felt a twinge of disappointment, knowing that what started as an inside joke had gone pop. But I was lucky enough to be there when the couple finally got dressed, and led a small group in a Slow Clap to cement their status as Office Party Urban Legends.

My plan for the evening started unraveling after the party broke up around 10 p.m. I had booked my room at the company discounted rate of $120, thinking I would use the time after the bash to recover, do some writing, and generally enjoy a mini-vacation. Unless some gal was drunk, er, loose, er, adventurous enough to shadowcast One Night In Bangkok ... or something. But instead, I found everyone milling around the increasingly overmatched hotel bar, as if we were trapped in some sort of endless Last Call. When I heard the company had opened a tab here, too, I joined the holding pattern.

So I milled around for a couple more hours, taking in the free booze and increasing despration around me, as another new friend, a Kenyan emigre who was somehow making $16 as a temp a month ago -- doing what I do now for $10 -- before getting hired on permanently, assured me that in Kenya, the party doesn't really get going until 3 a.m. Aside from that, I think I was in denial about the night winding down, except for the few minutes he and I and a cute-as-hell Indonesian girl in my department spent bitching about the World Cup draws.

The night's other big moment came a bit later, when a Geek Girl and a guy pulled up alongside me at the bar and ordered a round on the company tab. "We're from the New Jersey office," he explained.

"Harborside?" I asked.

"Er, yeah." They were actually two locals coming back from another party across the street, but figured they'd crash our non-party because, he said, "everybody's got a New Jersey office." The guy'd make a great journalist. As he explained the plan, I noticed Geek Girl, already sitting next to me, had kind of nestled against my leg. And somewhere, I heard Murray Head egging me on:
And if you're lucky then the god's a she
I can feel an angel sliding up to me

Geek Girl referred me to a communal blog called Metafilter, where she has a profile and tends to lurk. "It's like Fark, but better," she explained. Of course I'm considering joining. Alas, Geek Girl has been dating a guy for the past decade. But he was in Santa Cruz, she explained, "so I don't mind you flirting with me." She also loved the hat. I'm officially getting this thing stapled to my melon.


Aside from the occasional wandering into good parties, I don't have much of a use for this season. All the glad-handing and "good cheer" only stands out for me because so many folks -- nobody reading these words, of course -- seem to conveniently forget about it the rest of the year. I'm an arch cynical bastard, but at least I'm decent enough to be one consistently.

So when the question, What's your favorite Xmas song? comes up, I always have the same answer: The Pogues + Kirsty MacColl's "Fairytale of New York." I love that it's a love story about two people who care about each other despite the downward turn their lives have taken. There's no gifts, no reindeers, no mythical (sorry, kids) Father Christmases breaking and entering and magically making everything alright. The protagonists come to terms with what's become of them, and still love each other. One exchange still makes me tear up, every time I hear it:

You took my dreams from me
When I first found you

I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can't make it all alone
I built my dreams around you

Comics fans might remember the final line serving as the title of an atypically romantic issue of Preacher. And, hey, if that means Garth Ennis liked this song too, then I feel better about skipping the holiday schmaltz. Enjoy.

EDIT: Okay, I have to admit: this is pretty cool, too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Picture This

One benefit of living with a ninja: no piece of tech is untenable.

Today, The Mortician bought himself a new printer -- which happens to be compatible with the printer/scanner/slicer/dicer/circumcizer I bought last month from Craigslist but couldn't get to work. The result? More pics, I can haz!

In honor of the new gear, we give you this portrait of a young cynic, taken June 6, 1984 in the motherland. And look at the young buck, already representin!

Now, compare that smirk to the one I wore at my college graduation party, held at a suitably classy eatery before my friends and I retired to watch The Phantom Menace.

Monday, December 15, 2008

... And Not A Moment Too Soon: Arturo v. Heroes 3.13!

Cross-Posted To Racialicious!

... Well, at least Volume IV looks promising. Sort of.

You could almost see the hands of writer Jeph Loeb moving everyone around in “Dual,” frantically tying up the loose plot threads of this latest arc, as the decks get cleared for a new status quo when “Fugitives” kicks off in a couple of months.

But the road to get there, creatively and critically, has decidedly been full of lows. And this episode was barely an exception. At the end of the day, Tim Kring's precious Benetrellis are still standing, though in houses divided, although their respective houses of science, Primatech and Pinehearst, are not. And the false family member, Sylar, once again falls hard.

Taking his place, for now, as the Big Bad black sheep is Nathan, who completes the shift from conflicted good guy to conniving bad guy even as his plan to create a meta-human army is foiled by not only his brother, but former employees Knox and Flint. As Pinehearst is about to explode, Peter shoots himself up with Mohinder's formula in order to save Nathan, a favor Nate rejects, telling Pete, “I wouldn't have done the same” before zooming back to Washington. Well, okay then.

Over at Primatech, Sylar further re-establishes his dark side, playing an unconvincing game of Saw cat-and-mouse with Noah, Claire, Angela and Meredith. Unfortunately for him (and us as viewers), Sy gives in to his inner Bond villain and threatens to monologue everybody to death before Claire puts him down with a well-timed shank.

As dull as the protracted battle was, though, the confrontation between Sylar and Angela, where she finally revealed her ability (persuasion) and her relation to Gabriel (none), did generate a sense of tension before they were rudely interrupted. But I wouldn't bet on Sylar's quest for the truth coming to an end just yet.

Hiro's quest – to destroy the formula that started this mess of a half-season in the first place – came to a happy ending, thanks in large part to Ando's newfound super powers. Though that keeps Hiro's original vision of the two coming to blows in play, as we leave them, things seemed pleasant between not only them, but the happy couple of Daphne and Matt. And watching over them, for no apparent damn reason, was Usutu.

And that was that. Just that flat, just that pat. The housecleaning viewers had been clamoring for happened, alright – but all the characters picked off were ineffectual. C'mon, Meredith? Puppet Master guy? Metal Arm guy? Once again we're back to the core players – only this time, in “a new direction.” Everything has changed, but not really. For a series that once proclaimed it was defying comic book tropes, the creators sure seem to keep relying on them. Can they afford to do that as the show's ratings continue to slide?

At this point, “Fugitives,” the next story arc, might be the series' last hope to retain relevancy – and more importantly, viewers. The set-up this time has Nathan finally using his political connections, to hand in the rest of the Heroes over to President Palmer WORF. From here, an ominous voice-over explains, the gang “will need each other.” Cue the Guantanamo references!

Hey, wait a second. Super-powered people on the run from a world that fears them? Hmm ... why does that sound familiar? Nevermind. One hopes, at least, that banding the Heroes together in adversity will lead to a better-organized set of stories in the next volume. It could work.

But then again, I said the same thing at the start of the season. If Claire starts growing mutton chops and calling everybody “bub,” that's gonna be the last straw.

The Racialicious Scorecard:
Hiro & Ando: Reunited, and it feels so good? Ando was indeed the key to bringing Hiro back from the early '90s and destroying the formula. Funny thing, though: Ando's powers make him the ultimate sidekick – no powers on his own, but he can charge up anybody else's skills. Can we dub him The Ornament? Not a strong outing for Hiro otherwise, but – and not that this series doesn't have enough problems re: violence against women – his at least saying “excuse me” before belting Tracy was good for a laugh.

Mohinder: Daphne stole the formula from him before he could cure his condition; Flint, Knox and Peter trashed his lab and beat him up; he lucked into a cure when he got slimed with the Catalyst; and he got stuck wandering home after everybody else left. Oh well, at least Tracy picked him up. Nowhere to go but up, right, Mo?

Knox: Alas, poor Benjamin, we hardly knew ye or your flaring nostrils. Just as he was making his move and taking on Nathan, Tracy puts the literal deep freeze on him. Really, did he accomplish anything?

Echo DeMille: The unnamed third Level 5 inmate Noah freed in this episode was a character in a couple of webisodes and comic-book supplements to the series. So if you followed that media and liked the character, congratulations: all that character development went toward making your guy a footnote. Way to reward the fans, Mr. Kring.

Usutu: Truly, a moment for the Magic Negro pantheon. Dude's ghost just appears out of nowhere at Matt's victory party and doesn't say a word? Is Matt's spirit walk over? Has it “only begun”? Why not have the guy offer up one of these?

The Haitian: Normally we'd file him as MIA, but this was so egregious it deserved its' own entry. Last we saw of the guy, he was sent by Peter to tail Sylar. Not only did we not get a resolution to that chase, but the Haitian didn't appear at all, despite the chase leading back to his home base. What a suitably lazy note for the writers to close this chapter on.

Images & Character Bios Courtesy Of HeroesWiki.
Previously: Racialicious Heroes Archive.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Torture Porn -- The Musical! Arturo v. Repo: The Genetic Opera!

Don't believe the hype:
Rocky Horror has nothing to fear from Repo: The Genetic Opera. Shock Treatment, however, might have found a kindred spirit.

Like Shocky, Repo features a bunch of sorta-interesting characters searching for a plot. And like Shocky, Repo is better served on the stage, where actors can inhabit the parts more fully, without being hamstrung by Darren Smith's direction, which is the wrong kind of confining -- more "trapped in the window seat next to the annoying couple" than anything scary or titillating. Unlike Shocky, for a "rock opera," Repo never really rocks.

And that's the first giveaway that Repo's styling as a new RHPS is off-base. Besides the fact that nobody goes to Rocky for the movie itself, the show itself is sensual. The characters and the people playing them seem to enjoy the act of sex. In Repo, various figures strut about preening and, literally, assuming the positions. But none of it is hot, really. And where Sweeney Todd got the most blood for its' bucket, Repo seems content to pander to the post-Saw crowd. There's no art in the kills here, literally or creatively.

Speaking of teen angst, our heroine, such as it is, is sickly young Shilo Wallace, who is unknowingly at the center of a long-simmering family feud. As Shilo, Alexa Vega demonstrates she's ready for more than Spy Kids-like fare, but unfortunately, the character -- a Mary Sue in Amy Lee's clothing -- is too slight for Vega's performance. When a "rebellion" sequence is introduced, it comes across as more Avril than Anarchist.

In another nod to Todd, the story actually revolves around two dueling father figures: Shilo's dad Nathan (Anthony Stewart Head, finally unleashing the Ripper within) and nu-world magnate Rotti Largo (a shockingly, near-truly operatic Paul Sorvino). Connected by a fatal secret, Nathan moonlights for Rotti as the titular Repo Man, graphically and gleefully repossessing the most precious of currencies and status symbols in Rotti's rotting America: organs. Largo's company, GeneCo, loans anatomy to survivors in this plague-ridden world -- at a price, of course. Nathan comes in when the punters don't pay, becoming an urban boogieman as he struggles to hang on to his paternal status, sometimes struggling literally in the same breath.

Rotti also has kids, a trio of ghastly ciphers he doesn't trust to run the family shop. For that, he plans to lure Shilo to a performance by Blind Mag (Sarah Brightman). No spoilers for what happens next, but it's a bad omen when one of the songs sounds exactly like the kind of thing spoofed in Not Another Teen Movie.

At a brisk 98 minutes, Repo doesn't give the viewer or itself time to really care about its' characters, a fact that also debunks any claims to inheriting the RHPS cult "throne." Not that Richard O'Brien gave us a bunch of icons, either, but at least a) the Brad/Janet/Frank triumverate each represented something and b) most of the other characters got a moment to shine. In Repo, aside from the Normans, Rotti and perhaps Mag, none of the other characters really does anything but recite their traits (co-writer Terrance Zdunich's Gravedigger is especially underused).

Perhaps that's by design, but in creating a "goth opera" that's more (dubiously) goth than opera, Zudnich and co-writer Darren Smith sell the rest of their story short. In this post-apocalyptic future, everybody looks like the Fraggles going to Hot Topic. As a film, at least, this show is one act short of meaning anything. But on the stage, or as a Shadowcast at an RHPS convention, then all the blood and guts might finally gain some heart.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Edison Carter: 20 Minutes Ahead Of Our Time

Sometime between FMJ and my walk on the beach, some sort of sinus bug decided to move in. Can't say I'm not ripe for the pickings now, I suppose, but definitely bad timing.

However, while making my way across the boardwalk, I started thinking about this item posted by @Illuminato.

One-person news crews? Reporters filming, editing and airing their own pieces live? Real-time newspaper blog updates? It all sounded more familiar than frightening, even if I was a former newshound, though it took me awhile to figure out why. Then the answer came to me: MAX. Watch this and tell me none of it seems plausible.

Just goes to show: fiction can be just another term for a documentary that hasn't happened yet.


As we say goodbye to Bettie Page ...

... As you read this, I'll be getting ready to go to the beach. I should know more about how the next few weeks are playing out, but my hope is that this little excursion, which I promised myself almost immediately after the events of last Thursday, will help me ... maybe not exactly clear my head, but keep it straight, keep me focused, stave off the nervousness that's already starting to seep in. But today, I'm going to take a nice, long walk on the beach. Because, well, hey, what else would you want to do in California in December?

In the meantime, enjoy the debut of TIC Trax! I've been itching for a way to share my mixtape obsession with the online world at large, and so far, it looks like Mixwit will give me the best chance. For now, enjoy this first sampler ...

MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Today's interview was more like a practice run; I met with one of the temp agencies I worked with during my last bout of joblessness. Apparently I'm still well-regarded over there, as the rep actually advised me not to re-test with them. My supposition regarding the temp market, she said, is correct, but only in certain cases. There's still employers in need of people, she said, but certainly less than a year ago at this time. The average wait before they find people jobs, she said, is about a month, maybe two.

Which makes the next few weeks even more crucial. As things stand, I've had my resume critiqued, have set up an interview with another agency Monday, and have identified at least three jobs to apply for with the aforementioned resume, now thoroughly reconfigured for maximum Shiny potential.

But tomorrow, I have another plan, at least for the morning.



So, over on Heroes, our pal Sylar has been having daddy issues. But, if TV Guide is right, the payoff could be good stuff, indeed.

Gotta go to an interview(!) in a bit, but since we're all about what the kidz are watching, we'll leave you this morning with a little holiday ditty, The Twilight Before Christmas.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

TIC Recommends ...

Simon Dark might be the most underrated of the Underrated comics out there. Set in an even drearier-than-usual corner of Gotham City, and written by 30 Days Of Night mastermind Steve Niles, the series blends some disparate elements: the spookiness of The Crow with the crime-procedural snarkiness of the dearly departed Gotham Central. I read the first trade a few days ago and was pleasantly surprised.

A few weeks ago TIC Recommended a little ditty called Repo: The Genetic Opera. Well, we're pleased to report that it's coming to San Diego! It's playing at The Ken Theater this coming weekend and the venerable La Paloma Theatre soon thereafter. The Friday show at the Ken will also feature a performance by one of our favorite groups, Tragic Tantrum Cabaret.

Speaking of Anthony Stewart Head, just look at that cover for the Buffy book this month! And then try to forget that Jeph "Don't blame me for Heroes" Loeb is the writer. Still, if it's based on the almost-here BTVS animated series, it should be worth a look.

Finally, our most surprising recommendation of the week, a TNT series, of all things: Leverage is The A-Team with the '80s machismo replaced by the "ain't I cute" conceit of the Ocean's movies. But, the cast is charming enough to make it work. And, to be honest, any excuse to watch Gina Bellman looking hot is one I'm gonna take. Giggity!

UPDATE: Courtesy of MGK, check out the trailer for Mystery Team, the movie you will demand to see at theaters in 2009!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Welcome Back, Sylar: Arturo v. Heroes 3.12!

Cross-posted to Racialicious!

Welcome Back, Sylar
(To be sung to the theme from Welcome Back Kotter)

Welcome back,
Your powers were your ticket out

Welcome back,
You slicing heads was all we cared about

Well your hair has changed since you last swung around
But now Sylar's back and Elle's in the ground

The Petrellis said they'd breed ya (when they just need ya)
Noah didn't keed ya (even if he did beat ya)

Yeah we tease him a lot 'cause he'd kill us if not, welcome back,
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back ...

Despite being called "Our Father," this week's episode was about the current generation of meta-humans – the actual, the adopted, the altered and the alleged, culminating in a bloodletting at Pinehearst.

Running through the middle of things, pulsating like a morbid bass groove, was the exceedingly apparent return of Sylar, as writers Adam Armus and Kay Foster took great pains to show us that the Sy of old was Doing Bad Things in the midst of his quest to figure out if he really was the third Petrelli brother. Oh, and that apparently He Scares Asians. I'm surprised nobody went for the Gabezilla joke.

While Sylar was moving forward in his quest, Hiro and Claire went back – 16 years back. In an egregious violation of Gallifreyan regulations, they both met their younger selves (Claire an infant, Hiro an “irresponsible” 10-year-old) and reconnected with their parents while solving the mystery of the Catalyst.

For Hiro, the answer comes sealed with a kiss. We meet his mother, Ishi (Tamlyn Tomita), a healer and the carrier of the Catalyst -- a literal bundle of light, which she bequeaths upon her son while restoring his mind – at the cost of her own life. And for all the series' increased reliance on the Benetrelli saga, the scenes with the Nakamura family, thankfully, sang. From Kaito's frustration with the young Hiro to present-day Hiro's joy at rediscovering Ishi to her own belief in her son, the sequence displayed the kind of heart you remember from the series' increasingly-distant first year.

Claire-Bear also got some quality time with the younger versions of her parents, seeing how overwhelmed Sandra was by being a new mother, and getting a taste of the budding fury of the younger Noah. But because he's still NRG rather than HRG, Noah is still able to be convinced by Claire to not take the call that would lead to her getting injected with the Catalyst. For some reason, though, she apparently gets irked when the fully-restored Hiro tells her he took the magic bullet, instead.

This revelation is undercut, however, by Arthur, who appears from out of nowhere to strip Hiro of both the Catalyst and his powers, while sending Claire somewhere to tell his wife, “It's over.” While we wonder if Claire is now in line for her own spirit walk, Hiro is left, literally, hanging off the side of a building.

But we soon find out Arthur's antics might just have been a last hurrah. Even as he's traveling time, he's allowing himself to be turfed out by Tracy and Nathan, who assumes command of Pinehearst, and the company's plan to create a group of Super-Marines (the argument for this ridiculous exercise goes something like this: "War Guilt War Guilt War Guilt Hajis War Guilt War Guilt. Oh, and Hajis.") And as Arthur loses his grip on his company, he gains something else during a botched assasination attempt by Peter and The Haitian. In the ensuing showdown, Sylar, buoyed by
some handy new lie-detection powers, finally confirms that he is not a Petrelli and hurls a bullet at point-blank range into Arthur's head. Interestingly, though, Arthur's death does not seem to restore Peter's abilities, as Sylar dismisses him.

Thanks primarily to the Nakamura storyline, this episode is a strong rebound from the underwhelming "Eclipse" saga, and if Arthur is indeed out of play, the reshuffling at the top of the deck could lead somewhere good. We can only hope.

The Racialicious Scorecard:
The Nakamura Family: Perhaps the best outing yet for Masi Oka as an actor in the series, as Hiro's emotional reunion with Ishi was a hell of a moment, notwithstanding the Magic McGuffin nature of the Catalyst. Interesting to note that Ishi is just as optimistic as Angela Petrelli about her offspring, but lacking the killer instinct. Was this because of her illness? Her power? A deliberate exercise in contrast? And where was Kimiko while all this was going on?

Ando: New team-up! This week Ando helpedDaphne and Parkman find the missing 9th Wonders sketchbook, where they see Hiro's trapped in the timeline. When Daphne points out that Arthur's trip back was likely thanks to another time-traveller, Ando wonders if it's supposed to be him. What if he's wrong?

Mohinder: Seemed stuck in Mad Scientist mode this go-round, as he shuffled about and watched Arthur inject the stolen Catalyst into the Meta-Juice without even asking what it was, then injected the test subject. But something tells me the Ultramarine Corps will spur Mo into action, and not in a good way.

The Haitian: His scenes with Peter hewed close to Mystic Negro territory -- "I know you"? How long did these guys actually hang out before the Petrelli boys' vacation to Haiti? How does Peter just order the dude to go after Sylar? And by now, seeing people just call him "The Haitian" to his face is damn uncomfortable. Or is this all supposed to build motivation for an eventual turn to the, uh, pardon the term, dark side?

Knox: We saw him standing in a Pinehearst hallway with Flint, glowering at power couple Nathan and Tracy. Is a coup building? And how long 'til we get the Flint/Tracy Fire v. Ice showdown?

Nakamura and Mohinder images courtesy of Greg Beeman
All other images & character bios courtesy of HeroesWiki
Previously: Racialicious Heroes Archive

Monday, December 8, 2008

The BeTheMarriage Challenge

On BeTheMarriage Saturday, the question was asked: when did you figure out there was no Santa. For me, the truth lay in my mother's closet.

I remember my mom skulking around some random December night around '83 or '84. Normally she'd hang around with my grandparents and I, in the two-story home we shared, right after work. I knew something was up.

So one equally random afternoon, after my grandparents brought me home from school, I snuck up to her room, in the southeast corner of the house, and peeked around. A large brown bag surfaced from amidst her shoe collection and other knick-knacks: Pac-Man! Only not in the usual Atari 2600 cartridges; this was a mini-arcade version! It's as close as I ever came to a Christmas Story moment. Only, Ralphie was a good person. This was a young me.

Somehow I procured a set of four batteries and hatched a plan: I had five hours between the time I came home from school and my mom's return from work. And my grandparents let me go upstairs to do my homework. So every afternoon, I would smuggle my batteries into my mom's room, carefully open the box and take the game out, insert the batteries and get my Pac-licks in. After a suitable amount of time, I'd take care to put the game back in place, batteries out, then head down for dinner. Homework? Feh. I was a criminal mastermind!

Christmas Eve came around, and with it the rest of the family. I don't know how I faked surprise when I officially opened my new game, only that I didn't catch a belting, so I must've done it well. And that my cousins just thought I'd caught a serious fever.

I don't think I ever told my mom; I did, however, let her know I'd "outgrown" my Xmas innocence the next year when she asked me what I wanted Santa to get me and I answered, confidently, "No, Mom, what are you getting me?"

Like I said, Ralphie was a good person.

Close To Home

Canopy bits on neighbors' houses
Originally uploaded by soulcamp

I wasn't anywhere near Monday's tragedy, but a friend was.

HOLY SHIT. A PLANE JUST CRASHED IN MY BACKYARD was @Soulcamp's post this morning on a message board we both frequent. I was on the phone with him within two minutes.

"What the f-ck?" he answered.

"I was about to ask you that," I replied. "What the f-ck?" Actually, the plane had crashed less than a mile away, as SC later diagrammed. The bulk of the canopy landed on his neighbor's hourse, while bits of the canopy itself wound up on his roof.

Slowly, the news started trickling in, and I could picture the phones ringing at the assignment desks, the flustered desk editors hollering and calling anybody they could to hit the scene. More stations cut in for coverage, giving us more angles, more analysis, and a seemingly endless string of witnesses. I think @soulcamp was the only guy from his block who didn't call a station.

"Judging by the trail of canopy crumbs, it flew directly over my house and about 5 others before it struck," he wrote on the board. "I'm guessing it was no more than 100 feet above the top of my house when it went over, which makes sense because I only heard it for about 2 seconds before the explosions."

A woman from my old writing group was the first to see the pilot after he ejected and landing. She showed the writers a picture of the pilot calling somebody, drinking water. He appeared to escape relatively unscathed. No word on whether the woman shared her shot with the media.

It was a few hours before we learned about the casualties. A woman and two young children. The plane came perilously close to hitting a local high school, and as bad as today's news was, that drove home the fact that it could have been even worse.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Just A Note, Ladies

If you plan to invite me to your residence after last call and say, "It's all about the company," please do me the favor of not inviting another fucking guy over at the same time. Your cooperation is appreciated in advance.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Please Stand By

No FMJ yesterday, as you know. After the events of Thursday, things have kind of run together. And this weekend just got busier than I expected, so we will resume normal transmission as soon as possible.

In the meantime, if you're looking for something to read/see/laugh along with tonight, TIC Recommends BeTheMarriage -- LIVE! On Ice, hosted by our pals BeTheBoy and The SlackMistress!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Let Go

I stood and looked at her -- I mean, really took all of her in. Brown hair, blue eyes, glasses. A Mexican Pam Beesly. A bit shorter, a bit curvier, in that gloriously Mexicana way. But otherwise a near-perfect parallel. Right down to the engagement ring.

I was faxing a schedule to one of our clients, one of my typical end-of-day duties. She was getting postage for an envelope. She turned to me and mentioned a woman who got laid off two weeks ago.

"Do you miss [x]?" she asked. A little, I answered. Although now we're in the same boat.

She didn't get it at first. Then I mouthed the words ...

It was always a question of when, not if. I knew that other girl was about to be let go a week before it happened. The company, quite simply, has been devastated by the current economic climate. I think we're on pace for a 50 percent decline in revenue from last year. And our GM, being an accountant and not a "radio guy," has immediately decided to cut spending everywhere possible. Expense accounts. Media reports. People.

My sales manager emphasized that this was a cost-cutting maneuver, nothing to do with my abilities, and that he would help me find a new gig as much as he could. He already went to bat for another rep who got fired for much different reasons earlier this year, so I'm inclined to believe him.

She literally stepped back and touched her chest when I told her, then stepped forward for a quick hug. I filled in the rest of the story, the reasons, my immediate plans. She stood and frowned. "That sucks," she said. Because really, what else can you say?

And that's why we stood for a couple of minutes, silently. How could I tell her, after nearly two years, "Your smile makes me feel 20 years younger. If you said the word I'd drop it all -- the alcohol, the cynicism, the dark clothes ... well, maybe not all the alcohol. But just for the chance to watch you sleep, to make you laugh, to just earn that smile day after day, you've no idea ..."

You really can't. Not without scaring her.

At least I'll get to finish the week. My boss said the move was made today so that I'd have the option to get a "day off." But my time as a temp taught me that finishing the work week was essential. It meant a full week's pay. It meant finishing on something close to your own terms, even if your "employer" decided not to bring you back, and you got that call from the agency: "I'm sorry, but ..." Plus, well, I've got too much shit stored at my desk to bring back without a bag.

My biggest disappointment was the lack of severance pay. I got the paycheck I would have gotten Monday, plus three vacation days' worth of salary. Which is better than nothing, I know, but my boss reportedly told the (Mexican-born) GM about severance practices: generally two additional weeks' worth of payment. I'll ask about that tomorrow.

The next few weeks will be the most crucial. On top of this last check, today I received my paycheck for working at a local pollsite. And I think I've got about $250 more I can earn from selling parts from my old car and other knick-knacks. Thankfully, not CDs or books. At least, not yet.

During my exit interview, I also got some tips from my boss on fields to pursue: freelance translation; marketing research; advertising companies. That's on top of good ol' unemployment (which is not a sure thing; the state Dole and I have had our battles), taxes (I think I might score a bigger refund than usual this year), any prospective stimulus package and, of course, the temp train. Interestingly, I think the temp industry might weather this storm better than most, since more and more offices might be looking for workers as opposed to employees. You can pay 'em for a few weeks at a time, not worry about benefits, and everybody wins. Not having a car makes some of these options more difficult to pursue, of course. But, one of our reps has offered to drive me to the local auto auction and help me find a good deal. Wheels instantly open more doors.

So, best-case scenario, I have to workfocus thru the end of the month on setting up new opportunities, not lose hope, cut down on the expenses (I can live on $50 a week if I set my mind to it) and stock up on the Ramen again. Best-case scenario, and these additional revenue sources open up, this might be my most profitable "vacation" ever. At the very least, it gives my campaign a real Outsider cache now, doesn't it?

We chatted for another few minutes, and I just couldn't stop looking at her. Not ogling, I hope, but ... I just wanted to remember her like this. (I'd have preferred to remember her in her purple low-cut top and boots, but that's neither here nor there.) As it was, I was lucky just to get the chance to tell her; she's taking tomorrow off. I got to say goodbye. I inhaled, then exhaled, deeply, then looked at her with sadness I could feel.

"Could I get another hug?"

She leaned over and I pulled her a little closer. "You're going to be okay," she whispered. What could you say? I breathed in and out again ...

"I am going to miss you," I said. Is that the proper summation? I don't know. But I got to hold her.

And I got her e-mail address.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

TIC Recommends ...

Just a couple of quick picks tonight. First up, a follow-up to this post about comebacks, specifically the Ghostbusters. Ain't It Cool News has tons more stuff here, including this alleged statement by Bill Murray himself:

"... I had my doubts, but Dan really pulled together a great script. I think its gonna be a lot of fun to get the group back together. And I cant wait for that humongous paycheck I made them give me!"

Well, that's encouraging. As is this trailer for the upcoming video game:

And here's something that's been making the rounds throughout the day. See how many stars you can spot in Prop 8: The Musical!

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Finally, two t-shirt shops to help you shop for the ironic people in your life: Hijinks Ensue, which has to be one of the most clever store names I've read in awhile (you know I'm buying the shirt pictured here) and identitee, recommended by The Mixtress.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

This New Hall

It's been a little more than a month now, and the space isn't quite "ready." My new printer/scanner (which I still can't get to work) still needs its' own desk, and the microphone The Mortician lent me still hovers above my computer, waiting for me to figure out a program that will get it to do more than record my voice. But I sent the first post-move rent check in, so I guess this is officially home. So far, so good.

The same could be said for the new living situation; the bulk of the space is taken up by the living room, where The Mortician has set up his sound system and I've set up my work-area-in-progress: the mic, the computer, the printer/scanner, and my books, photos and blank CDs. Once things get fully situated, it should be good for happy hours and such.

My new room is smaller than the one I had while living with Kev-Fu and company, but still enough to hold my usual mess; I'm good with living areas, but my room is perpetually a shambles. I've given up on fighting this particular little hypocrisy and just try to keep the debris from spearing me in the foot.

But what I like best, definitely, is the quiet. Not that I minded living with or having the company of Brother Kev-Fu, Lizzie & Shawna for the past few months, but the neighborhood we were stuck in was one level removed from New Jack City, the stench of pot and the cacophony of hopelessness always just outside the door. Sure, some of my neighbors here are noisy, too, but at least the apartment complex is set up so that they have to go almost to the end of the street to get their Springer on.

In this case, though, The Mortician's and my schedules are such that each of us gets a decent amount of solo time in the pad. Well, solo with his cat. Which means that if you're reading this, there's a decent chance I've done this at least once in the past 24 hours:

Monday, December 1, 2008

Everybody, Back In Place!: TIC v. Heroes 3.11!

Cross-Posted to Racialicious!
Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

So at the end of the night: Gabriel is evil; Claire and her father have issues; Hiro is slowly coming around; and the Petrelli boys are at odds. Turns out "The Eclipse" was a big RESET button.

Teases, turns and bloodletting marked the conclusion to the season's first two-part episode, culminating in the apparent cancellation of Electronica Mars at the hands of the ever-gullible Sylar. What set him off this time was either much-needed truth-telling or skillful manipulations by Noah, who told him what seemingly everybody who's been watching this show has asked at some point: Dude, you thought you were a Petrelli just because they said you were?

The Bennets took up most of the sun-uh, spotlight this episode, as Noah and Sylar's vendetta hit especially close to home. Sylar's attempt to save a wounded Elle from HRG's wrath got him his throat slit. When Sy's and Elle's powers rebooted, only timely interference by Hiro prevented the then-happy couple from kidnapping "catalyst" Claire and getting revenge.

Hiro's heroics were buoyed not just by Ando, but by special guest-geeks Seth Green & Breckin Meyer, who gave our favorite time-traveler both a boost in confidence and a clue: somewhere, there's a missing 9th Wonders story holding the final clues to the latest crisis. And hopefully, the missing pieces of Hiro's psyche.

Somewhere in (presumably) Haiti, two sets of brothers reached turning points. With help from Peter and Nathan, The Haitian decisively subdued his would-be dictator brother Baron Samedi, a fight that convinces Nathan to ditch his brother and join their father at Primatech. Really? You couldn't have given the poor schmuck a lift back to New York first, Nate?

Overall, not an egregiously bad conclusion, just more of a place-holder than anything else. Claire and Hiro end the episode reliving a moment from Season One, but it's way past time for this show to stop looking to its' past and start moving forward. Crazy as it sounds, let's hope the end of the volume means a serious housecleaning.

The Racialicious Scorecard:
Hiro & Ando: Hiro had his best outing in a few weeks here, actually taking some action for himself. Granted, he needed a pep talk from Scott Freakin' Evil, but the sequence where he saved Claire harkened back to the whimsy of old Hiro. Will Sy tell Hiro said rescue only led Elle to her death?

Mohinder: Don't expect a happy reunion between Mo and his old pal Nathan on Team Pinehearst. And to add to Suresh's bad news, the fading of the eclipse put him back on the road to arachnid status – and prevented him from seeking out old flame Maya. Will we ever find out what prompted her to move to New Jersey?

The Haitian & Baron Samedi: Give the writers perverse credit for attempting to hand-wave their way past not revealing either of their names with the Baron's “names give you power” bit. But ultimately, it'll be sad if this is the last we see of him. Let's just hope this is the last time we have to see Peter's Jack Bauer impersonation. Now, what could be next for The Haitian?

MIA: Usutu; Knox.

Next Week: Petrellis, Petrellis, super-soldiers and more Petrellis!

Previously: Racialicious Heroes Archive

Haitian image courtesy of Comic Book Resources
All other images and character bios courtesy of HeroesWiki