Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Everybody Get A Buddy!: TIC v. Heroes 3.3!

Team-ups and ties that bind dominated “One Of Us, One Of Them,” as the episode stirred the pot with enough questions answered before heading toward the next set of plot points.

Stirring things up the most was, as ever, Mrs. Petrelli, as she uses “motherly” persuasion to maneuver Sylar into being Mr. Bennet's new Company partner, citing a need for “structure” so he can rehab and kick that pesky dome-slicing habit. His first day at school, er, work, is a mixed bag: young Gabriel gets a nice new suit and saves Noah from fear-fueled Knox, flame-throwing Flint and sonic-powered Jesse (freshly separated from Peter), but – naughty, naughty! -- Gabe can't help but help himself to Jesse's power, landing him back in his room at Level 5. For now.

In California, Claire's biological mother, pyrokinetic Meredith uses harsher methods to get her point across. While “training” Claire: Hot Mom uses her powers to choke Claire into admitting she wants to be a heroine mostly to get revenge on Sylar for upending her nerve endings during last week's premiere. Possibly out of shame, Claire subsequently runs away with a stack of Company files. Will she ask Daddy Noah or Actual Daddy Nathan to be her sempai?

In New Orleans, Tracy “What the hell is a Niki Sanders?” Strauss ditches working with Nathan to meet up with Micah, who confirms that Niki is a dead ringer for Tracy – literally; Niki is, quite creepily, still in a coffin in the living room. After being incredibly okay with this doppelganger of his mom showing up, Micah uses his ability to suss out that Niki and Tracy share a birthday, a birthplace and a delivering doctor, Dr. Zimmerman (Ronald Guttman) who, even more creepily, tells Tracy he “created” her. Yeah, because clones help every story.

Speaking of dissolving partnerships, Ando and Hiro continue to bicker. This time their disagreements, prodded along by Daphne the speedster costing them their half of Nakamura-sama's formula and landing them in the Company's clutches after a run-in with her benefactor, the Haitian. We learn the Haitian has been acting as a courier for Mama P, while Daphne, who seems more amused than intimidated by her Japanese “nemeses,” is acting as a freelancer. Will Hiro's lecture about using her powers responsibly force her to choose a side?

Parkman's “spirit walk” seems to steer him toward being proactive, as he discovers he's been the subject of a series of paintings by Usutu. After non-descript musings about The Future Not Being Set and all that, Parkman loses himself in a hypnotic trance similar to Isaac Mendez's after Usutu ... let's him listen to his Discman. Is he listening to Mohinder's voice-overs? Heavy, man! Overall, not a bad set of character moments, as the chess pieces start moving around the board, and other gaming metaphors.

Next Week:
* Evil Sexy ClaireBear returns!
* Peter & Peter: which one's the bullet-eater?
* Suresh screws everything up – again!
* Sylar ... cooking?

* Heroes 3.1 + 3.2
* Heroes Season Preview

The Racialicious Scorecard:
Knox: The defacto leader of the Level 5 escapees goes all Dog Day Afternoon specifically to kill Mr. Bennet for locking him up. Timely interference by present-day Peter Petrelli (trapped in Jesse's body) and Sylar stops him, but the murder of Jesse and his own re-capture give the erstwhile Ben Washington more than enough impetus for another shot at HRG.

Hiro & Ando: Like a pro-wrestling tag-team, miscommunication and continued losses are putting the strain on their partnership, and each of them is at fault this week. Ando gets sweet-talked by Daphne, but Hiro can't leave things alone after Ando's ad-lib briefly wins them the formula. Their combined wussiness lands them on Level 5 – and near Sylar and the Villains. Uh oh.

D.L: Still dead.

Micah: How plot-convenient, uh, nice is this kid? A stranger identical to his dead mom – who's in a casket in the house -- shows up and he not only doesn't freak out, he points her at the doctor who delivered or “created” both of them. And then he hugs her. No sign of Monica, which is annoying, given that she was, y'know, a semi-major character just last season.

Maya & Mohinder: Spider-Dope and La Llorona weren't featured this week, aside from Mohinder's weekly voice-overs. But don't worry: next week we get to see how Suresh screwed the pooch with his super-serum. If “Kill Mohinder, Save The World” is this season's clarion call, count me in.

Usutu: Even for a Mystical African character, Usutu makes the Haitian look like a motor-mouth. We learn he's been doing a This Is Your Life portrait series on Parkman, but not why. We get another glimpse of his precognitive powers, but no explanation for them (or why he couldn't use them to, say, move to a city) other than the hint that they're triggered by what he's listening to on his Discman.

Bridget Bailey: Such a nothing character there's not even an actress listed for her on imdb, but she is a woman of color, so we'll show her some respect. Bridget is a product of the show's online supplements. But all we need to know is: her power is to read the psychic “history” of an object ... until she gets literally fed to Sylar by Mrs. Petrelli. Nice knowing ya, Bridg.

The Haitian: Picks up the latest Doomsday Formula from Daphne on behalf of the Company and rebounds from a sucker-punch by Ando to (presumably) pimp-slap them into custody. Nice buddy moment between himself and Mr. Bennet to close the episode: “Am I being replaced?,” the Haitian asks. “Only for the moment,” HRG answers, eyeing Sylar like a shark would a tourist. Awww, Noah ...

Friday, September 26, 2008


Apologies for this week's mid-morning delivery; been burning the candle out most of the week. And last night, after taking in the wonder of the Office premiere, I had to prep eight mixtapes to be sent today. We'll talk more about that next week. Among other things.

Today, though, let's go with a clip from a semi-guilty pleasure of mine: The Feeling, from Britain. They're so sugar-pop I normally wouldn't bother with them, but they're certainly convincing in their romantic earnestness, a more posh Lifehouse. And "Turn It Up," performed here on The Graham Norton Show, is too damn catchy by half. So, yeah, it's on one of the mixtapes I'm sending out today. So's a bunch of other stuff that I'm pretty happy about, actually. But we'll talk about that later.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Days of Future Peter: TIC vs. Heroes 3.1 + 3.2!

Continuity. It's a beautiful thing.

By simply following up on last season, rather than ignoring it, Heroes kicked off its' third year in a lot better shape. As ever, the world's Going To Be Destroyed, but unlike last year, every one of the main characters is going somewhere with their storyline.

Last volume's cliffhanger is answered within seconds, as we learn a future iteration of Peter Petrelli was responsible for shooting his brother Nathan before he could reveal the Specials' existence to the world. After disposing of Present-Day Peter and Parkman, Future Peter later heals Nathan, who instead credits the Almighty for the save, despite the fact that Peter saved him last year. Well, the Petrelli boys were never known for their super-intellect, so that's consistent.

Case in point: Future Pete's save, according to the ever-EEEEVIL Mama Petrelli, leads to Sylar assaulting Claire Benett at home and stealing both her ability and a dossier of the baddest of the bad, imprisoned in the eponymous Company's “Level 5.” We learn Future Pete somehow imprisoned Our Peter in the body of super-criminal Jesse Murphy. Jesse/Peter is last seen rolling with three murderous escapees after an attack on Level 5 by Sylar. For his trouble, Sylar appears to be the newest recruit to the Company, now headed by Mama P, and slated to partner with the understandably terrified Mr. Benett.

Meanwhile, in Japan, Hiro is shaken out of his corporate doldrums – Nakamura-sama gave him 51 percent of the family business, so Hiro really is Bruce Wayne now – by the theft of a super-secret formula his father says could endanger the world. He's also shaken after a visit to the future shows him he gets struck down by sidekick Ando – now sporting superpowers of his own. The revelation strains the would-be Dynamic Duo's relationship immediately, even as they trail super-fast thief Daphne Millbrook (Brea Grant, bratty without being annoying).

How could Ando get powers? The answer may lie with Suresh; he finds a way to trigger them via injection. Of course, he's his own test subject, gaining Peter Parker's powers, and using them to immediately bed Maya, but apparently mutating because of them. I guess The Fly never made it to India.

Back in the hospital, Nathan accepts more responsibilities, choosing to accept a Senatorial seat offered to him by NY Governor Malden (Bruce Boxleitner). As part of the deal, though, he takes Malden's advisor, Tracy Strauss – yet another personality unlocked by the woman we know as Niki Sanders. Tracy has no memories of Niki, but has her own ability, which she uses to put a too-roving reporter (welcome back, William Katt) literally on ice.

In the midst of all this, a new, ominous painting begins to appear: the world being split in two by the series' signature Helix. Parkman sees it on a rock after being exiled to Africa; the image is seen on a wall behind Suresh after he gains his powers. And a mysterious figure (Ntare Mwine) says it's not happening like he painted it. Hmmm ...

All in all, a welcome return for the series, harkening back to the dynamite first season. Can we get the writers to strike more?

The Racialicious Scorecard:
Hiro & Ando: Their relationship and its' potential crumbling could decide the latest volume, if not the season. We'll know within 13 episodes, I guess. But Hiro's via-DVD interplay with his late father was golden.
Maya & Mohinder: Both give in. Maya initially stands up to Mohinder, arguing that a super-powered steroid would be too dangerous. However, he gives in to the want of power, and Maya ends up giving in to him. You'd think after the Sylar episode she'd be wary, right? Ah well, somebody had to provide the slashfic.
D.L.: Still dead. The guy wasn't even named in the semi-obnoxious countdown special preceding the premiere. That's just cold.
Micah & Monica: No mention of them in the first two episodes, either. But, Micah was name-checked on the special, so we should probably expect to see them at some point.
Jesse Murphy: This prison escapee currently houses housing the consciousness of present-day Peter Petrelli. He looks like a Latino gangbanger, but is actually played by Italian-American actor Francis Capra.
Knox: Part of the escapee group with Jesse. No power displays yet, but Mr. Benett tells Claire he takes strength from other peoples' fear. So, he's a Republican?
Usutu: Mentions a “spirit walk” for Parkman while leading him out of the African desert, which bears watching. Also hints at having abilities similar to the late Isaac Mendez's.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Is The Worst Over?: TIC's Heroes Season Preview!

The saving grace for Heroes last year? Without a doubt, the writers' strike, for stopping the series' fall from grace – and common sense.

Coming off one of the best debut seasons in sci-fi history, the critical and commercial darling went completely off the rails during its' sophomore season, collapsing under the weight of an ill-advised semi-reboot of the story, new and pointless characters, and scripts that felt grafted from first-season drafts. Ominous vision of the future? Check. Overwrought sense of urgency? Check. Overt lack of resolution? Check. For a series whose creators seemed to insist wouldn't take after comic books, bad comic-book tropes sure seemed to pop up last season. It wasn't until the Volume II finale that our favorite super-dudes and dudettes (mostly) stopped being dumb, and Hiro emerged as a super badass, putting erstwhile false idol Adam "Takezo Kensei" Monroe six feet under, that the show regained its' sense – and its' senses.

In true Hollywood fashion, series creator Tim Kring accepted responsbility last year by blaming the fans, explaining last season's sluggish start as the result of inflated fan expectations. He repeated his complaint more bluntly to geek-centric Wizard Magazine: "How do you build a story when all the audience really wants is crack?"

This season, one would imagine the audience really wants the show it fell in love with to return, especially after the creative team had additional time to prepare for this coming story arc, the much-anticipated "Villains."

The Racialicious Scorecard:

As TIC will be contributing weekly reviews to Racialicious this season, we'll be spotlighting the various characters of color. Here's a look at where everybody stands coming into the season:

Hiro: The fan favorite and soul of the show spent most of last year building up his own role model, coaxing Adam the immortal layabout into becoming a hero before the love of a woman and the murder of Hiro's father turned the two into the series' first pair of arch-enemies. Things don't promise to get any easier this year; not only might Adam to return (illogical escapes? Check), but Hiro will pick up a new, super-speedy nemesis. Hiro is also reportedly going to be the one to get this season's Ominous Vision, which involves his BFF Ando getting powers.

Suresh: The world's dumbest scientist – seriously, how many times has this guy been played in just two seasons? -- barely escaped getting killed by Sylar after spending most of last season as a flunky for the anonymous Company (covert agencies “higher than the government”? Check). Thank goodness he lived; who else was going to give us those non-descript voiceovers to start every episode? And what's the status of his bromance with Parkman?

Maya: ... Last year, her brother not only never complained about Maya killing his wife on his wedding day, but took to the road to protect Maya, putting his life on the line for her repeatedly. And she still fell for Sylar, never even suspecting him of killing her brother. I hate to question the intelligence of a Latina character, but, if the refugee from the Telenovelas Dimension hooks up with Suresh, let's hope any potential progeny sits near a smart kid in school.

D.L.: Still dead.

Micah and Monica: D.L.'s son and niece were among the few bright spots last year, but they've seemingly been shoved on the back-burner after Monica got herself kidnapped by some gang-bangers during her first “mission,” forcing Niki to seemingly die while making the save. But, neither of the younger heroes is featured in ads for the upcoming season, while Niki is. Make of that what you will.

The promise of more evil characters, one hopes, will get the series back on track, emphasizing more winning and less whining from our titular Heroes. But early reports lean toward another tired trope: once again, the plot focuses on another Ominous Vision of the Future, and visits by more future iterations of different characters. Will this latest trip to the creative well go well? As a wise man likes to say, stay tuned, True Believers ...

Friday, September 19, 2008


Today's Jukebox comes to you the day Street Scene comes home. The New Pornographers probably won't do their cover of "Your Daddy Don't Know," but I won't be there to find out. That's fine by me, though; I was there for what many people have called the last real Street Scene.

By 2003, Street Scene was a local institution, our own Lollapalooza and Warped Tour, a big factor in the rebirth of downtown SD. The line-up that year was full of bands I'd eventually adopt in my listening habits, like Flogging Molly, and Ozomatli and old favorites like Concrete Blonde. By the next year, the town was literally not big enough for it, its' streets and parking lots being usurped for the sake of tourist dollars, garish hotels and nightclubs, and a new ballpark that was supposed to provide the winning edge for a baseball team that continues to lose it. And for its' downtown swan song, Street Scene gave me my two favorite concerts of all-time.

The weekend started with a rock en español triple-bill: Kinky, Nortec Collective and Cafe Tacuba. For three hours, I soaked in my language, danced, moshed, awash in a sea of Mexicanidad. I felt more at home in the crowd than I did in the six months I had lived at home since returning from Kansas. In the years since, Kinky has become one of my favorite bands; I've seen them at four festivals, yet never at their own show. Still, I've enjoyed watching them transcend Mexican Radio -- literally -- and become the best band you've never heard. I'll include another clip of theirs here:

On the final night, my friend The Homie Kate joined me for an afternoon climbing fake walls, walking around the grounds, and seeing how plausibly I could call in to work that night when she tipped me off to an afternoon set by Wilco. Within an hour, "California Stars" had made its' way onto my all-time Top 10 songs. They were the perfect warm-up act for the band I'd been waiting to see all weekend, R.E.M.

Scoff all you want, but Out Of Time and Automatic For The People got me through high school as effectively as Document had for the generation before me. And here they were, between albums, so they didn't have anything to push, meaning they could indulge us with a varied set. The ensuing two-hour(!) set touched on every stage of their career up to that point, culminating, for me, with "Nightswimming."

The show was the closest I'd felt to a church-going experience since my first communion. I was so wiped, physically and emotionally, that I could barely even walk. It didn't take much lying for me to call in sick, after all. And the next year, the festival was gone.

Street Scene has literally been all over town, in stadium parking lots in Mission Valley and Chula Vista, and nearly at the racetrack in Del Mar, smaller, with "brand-name" acts, and each year you'd hear more people bemoan what it used to be. Returning to downtown, people hope, will be the first step toward reclaiming some of that old city magic. I wish them luck.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Microbiologist by day, pro wrestler by night

As the saying goes, in a world where people watch The Hills and treat Jessica Simpson as if she were a musical artist, I don't feel bad about being a pro wrestling fan. Most of the time. And definitely not today.

Today's headline is actually from a local newscast story on MsChif, an up-and-comer on the independent circuit. Like many wrestlers who aren't in the big 2 -- WWE and TNA -- MsChif also has a day job. As a microbiologist. I'm not surprised she's an intelligent woman. But, it's kind of crazy to see her smiling. Just click here and click on the headline, on the right.

Photo 1 courtesy of mschif.net

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Detour To Springfield: TIC vs. The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Ep 2.2

We were hoping to call this review Johnny Come Lately, but we'll probably have to wait, as Team Manic Depressive split up this week while the series kept laying the groundwork for the next year.

Finally, John decided to sort-of act like a teenager, and picked up a suitably random female companion to bring home to his family's new home (which they managed to get in one day. I know this is sci-fi, but that's some especially crazy shit.) Mom, of course, didn't approve of John straying from The Mission To Preserve The Future Until Christian Bale Takes Over The Role, but John held his ground. Sadly, he didn't justify his behavior by explaining he wanted to start building his army for the future the old-fashioned way (wink wink nudge nudge QUIT C-CKBLOCKING ME, MOM) but there's always next week, right?

While John made time, Sarah, Cameron and Uncle Derek raced against it, as they tried to stop a nearby nuclear reactor, destined to become a key battleground in the upcoming wars, from melting down. What with inter-network crossovers becoming more popular these days -- seriously, CSI and Two And A Half Men? -- you'd think there was room here for Fox to acknowledge its' most famous power plant. But despite the presence of its' own incompetent, bald owner, the ep muddled on through Crisis of the Week territory.

Along the way, Sarah becomes "crapped up," slang for contaminated with radiation ... maybe. She's forced to undergo a humiliating full-body scrub by power plant staff, and also has to consider Cameron's prediction last year that she'll be dead within two years. But here, the series' relentless mopeyness undercuts this development, rather than underscore it. Sarah's seemingly done nothing but kvetch the entire series. How is this any different? At this rate I'm going to bail on this series, again. Man, I hope Heroes picks up the pace this year. But we'll talk about that later.

Photo 1 courtesy of ign.com

Friday, September 12, 2008


In honor of My Beautiful & Beloved Shirley's network television debut, today we'll go with the best Garbage song you never heard: "Bad Boyfriend," off the Bleed Like Me album. How this fucking song wasn't the lead single is something I'll never figure out, as it's the quintessential Garbage kicker. See here what you've been missing out on.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tinseltown For Tennant? Looking at a Doctor Who movie ...

The biggest question surrounding Doctor Who these days is, how much longer will David Tennant play The Doctor? DT is already signed on for the truncated '09 season, but speculation in The Sun and The Telegraph in Britain says he could sign on for the 2010 season ... if a movie deal is attached.

I know, cue the ominous music, right? But, let's look at the pros and cons.

It's already a Big Show: This isn't some '80s retread or past-its'-prime property we're talking about; this is one of Britain's most-beloved shows and a growing cult fave on these shores. And the show itself, at its' best moments, leaps off the small screen. The past two season-ending arcs, uneven as they were, reached for something greater than the usual dramatics. Plus, how could you not love the thought of hearing the theme song blasting on a theater sound system?

David F'ing Tennant: As an Eccleston guy, I have to admit: DT is probably the reason we're even discussing a movie. And if the rumo(u)r's true, and he wants this, then nobody will have more on the line for it to do well, and for himself to do well. That's gotta be a hell of a motivator.

It's British: At the very least, the show is done by a very talented group of Britons. As my buddy Combustible Monkey says, "these are the very same people who made the show into something we love, aren't they? Sure, creators falter (I'm looking at you, Chris Carter), but it's better than some Johnny-come-lately or studio focus group getting their hands on a franchise." Who would you rather trust these days, R.T. Davies and Stephen Moffat, or Lorne Michaels? Thought so.

The Rogues Gallery: You could make the argument that The Doctors' array of enemies is better than Superman's, or even Batman's after The Dark Knight. The Daleks, The Master -- the articles say that John Simm will be back in the fold -- the Cybermen, the Sontarans, and hell, even The Rani. There's depth in that stable, and that's without counting any original Big Bads the creators might store up their sleeves for an adaptation. To hear "EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!" in theater-quality sound would be a singular experience, no?


Hollywood: In the Sun article, Davies reportedly says he'd love to cast Catherine Zeta-Jones opposite Tennant in a Who film. I hope to goodness he was drunk or kidding, because otherwise this movie gets branded as the next Avengers in peoples' minds, and look how well that film did. Can the creators avoid stunt casting?

Who's Left?: From a couple of angles, there may not be room for anything but stunt-casting the Companion. At the end of last year, Rose got dropped off on Earth-2; Martha is bound for Torchwood; Sarah Jane has her own series; River Song and Sally Sparrow seem to have been brushed off for the time being; and Donna, though she's also been confirmed as returning in 2009, has been such a divisive presence among fans (more on that later) that she may turn some of them off. And the Zeta-Jones thing has a flip side: the powers-that-be may not feel comfortable without at least one "brand-name" headliner attached to the film.

The Fanbase: For every person who's gotten into the show over the past four years, it seems there's at least one other person who's not going to be happy unless it's Tom Baker gets to play The Doctor forever. Old-school Whovians may be even grumpier than Star Wars fans, and could undermine any new direction for the series. Hell, I think they're angry it's even filmed in colo(u)r. Even the new-schoolers were polarized by Donna's inclusion in the series. Will anybody be happy, however this plays out?

What Are We Getting For Our $10?: Will the movie count "in canon"? Is this where they pull the trigger on Tennant, and introduce the 11th Doctor? Does signing on for this movie mean Tennant is coming back for 2011, as well? Will it be the series finale? Are all these questions worth the gamble? And if so, can we convince them to bring back another Doctor? (click below)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Comebacks: a scorecard

Ben Folds Five: Thumbs up, even if it's a one-time gig ... for now.

Grosse Pointe Blank: Thumbs down. I don't care what the groupies at EW tell you, Mr. Cusack. Just let a classic lie.

Ghostbusters 3: Eeeeeh, Thumbs up, warily. It's got the original stars, two of the brains behind The Office are writing a script, and there's a new video game featuring the original gang to get the buzz going again. But how much can these characters have left in the tank?

New Kids On The Block: Thumbs so far down they'd give the Mole Man a Wet Willie. I'm not even dignifying this shit with a link. Why is this even being allowed?

Schwarzenegger, Please!: TIC vs. The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Ep 2.1

I'm trying to enjoy The Sarah Connor Chronicles. But it didn't do itself any favors during its' first season, and last night's season premiere didn't show signs of stopping that trend.

What should've been the show's best moment was instead a depressing clue as to the series' wrong direction: the follow-up to Cameron's seemingly blowing up in the truck and subsequent turn on John and Sarah Connor should've been a BANG-BANG-BANG/quick-cuts/high-tension score/BOOM sequence, careening into the credits or the first break. Instead the scene slogged by in a slo-mo morass, dragged down even more by -- and I can't believe I'm writing this -- a horrible song by My Beautiful and Beloved Shirley Manson, something more appropriate for those tearjerking not-endings we get on Smallville. In "humanizing" the story, the creators neutered it, instead.

If this show is going to make headway, it's going to need one thing: humor. I don't mean the played-out "Cameron learns humanity" jokes from last year. One of these people has to bust out a joke every now and again, please. Don't get me wrong, Lena Headley and Thomas Dekker are good in their roles, but their roles seemingly have no dimension but Angry, Hurt, Sad or Scared. Wouldn't Sarah Connor be at least a little confident in her and her son's abilities by now? Strength without swagger a dull character makes, especially when everybody in the ensemble seemingly left their sense of humor in the Days of Future Past. You've got Brian Austin Green RIGHT THERE, for criminy's sakes.

The result of all the heroic moping is, the most "human" characters in the show are still not the Connors. Cameron's struggle to stay on John's side ("If I go bad again ... don't bring me back") is more compelling than the millions of furrowed brows John and Sarah throw at us every week. And I'm pleased to report that Ms. Manson is already classing up the show as new Big Bad Catherine Weaver; her character's twist led to my only pleasant "oh SHIT" of the seemingly interminable hour. And she got to keep her accent! Here's to hoping she gets more refreshingly cool evil shit to do this year. In fact, here's to hoping somebody gets to do something cool this year.

Photo 2 courtesy of zachklein.com

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hong Kong (influenced) Phooey: TIC vs. Bangkok Dangerous!

So, you're Danny and Oxide Pang. You've got a shot at making a Hollywood remake of your debut hit, Bangkok Dangerous. How do you do it without subverting your original vision?

Simple: F!#k the original vision! This lumbering, hollow re-vamp takes the Pangs' original and goes anti-Dragnet with it: the names are the same, but the story is completely changed, and plays out like a $2 plate of John Woo soup.

In this version, hitman Joe (Nicolas Cage) ventures to Bangkok for a series of kills he hopes will propel him into retirement. Joe has a loosely-defined moral code, but no identifiable personality; he's your typical Byronic cipher, the Lonely Man doing One Last Job. The Pangs and co-writer Jason Richman wisely play up his outsider status in Thailand -- he doesn't speak the language, and the local cuisine kicks his ass worse than any opponent -- and Cage gets to use his patented tics and nervous glances to express that. What the material doesn't give him is the ways to make you care about the character as one did for, say, Jean Reno's Leon or even John Cusack's Martin Blank.

The problem, of course, is that the original wasn't about Joe at all. It covered -- with more visual vigor and identifiable emotion -- the rise of Kong, a deaf gunman who was tutored by a veteran. Here, the Kong character (Shahkrit Yamnarm, slumming it) is nothing more than Cage's Rochester ("You got it, boss!") and a convenient hostage during the film's third act.

When not teaching Kong martial arts or the Art of Killing, Joe tries to make time with pharmacist Fon (Charlie Yeung), who takes over the deaf/mute character slot while guiding him through the "non-corrupt" parts of town, including, of course, a temple. So, she's pretty, spiritual, has a good job, "exotic" and doesn't speak a lick. Does she have a sister?

Inevitably, Joe starts slippin' on his business as his personal life blossoms, culminating in the Job being botched and his having to go on rescue Kong. But you'll be wishing you spent the rental money on the original long before that. Strong recommendation to avoid this dyspeptic, disjointed, dreary mess of an import.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Kicking off what I hope will be another recurring feature, FMJ is where we spotlight a song, sometimes for a good reason, sometimes for none at all. If you feel like adding a recommended song of your own in the comments, feel free. We begin with The Gaslight Anthem and "The '59 Sound."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Oldies of the '80s?

Here's a depressing thought: Madonna, Michael Jackson and Prince are all fifty years old this year. You have to wonder if "oldies" and "classic rock" stations are prepared to handle the aging and decaying of this generation's icons. And, hey, who isn't looking forward to seeing Miley Cyrus enter the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2025?

Anyway, to commemorate the '80s Trinity, Hypeful has compiled this list of downloadable covers of songs by them. As I'm always looking for something to spice up a mixtape, you bet your ass I'll be hitting it up after work.

OLD MEMES: How to do Comic-Con in 1 day

The last time I went to Comic-Con,, you actually had room to walk around the grounds without making like a salmon to get past the next horde of otaku or faux-paparazzi scrum around a scantily-clad geeky girl. Mind you, this was less than five years ago, which tells you how gigantic of a clusterfuck it's turned into by now. Still, I'm not gonna turn down a one-day free pass to the thing. And neither should you. You just need to play it smart. Here's a few tips:
1. Be Respectful. You wouldn't think I would need to list this, right? Unfortunately, there's still schmucks out there who take being socially awkward as an excuse for being socially irresponsible. Kevin Church explains here. That crap shouldn't be happening, pure and simple.

2. Skip The Panels. They're just not worth the time anymore for a one-day trip. Of course, as MightyGodKing says, your basic panel falls into one of three categories, anyway:

9:00: You’re a Retard And You Think You Have A Future In Comics So Here Are Some Really Basic Baby Steps You’ll Probably Ignore Anyway

9:45: Hey, Remember That Old Comic We Did? Want To Hear Some Rambling, Only Intermittently Entertaining Stories About It?

10:30: Big Comics Company Wants You To Hear About Its Exciting Upcoming Projects! Guaranteed To Be As Exciting As Any Marketing Initiative Has Ever Been!

Do any of those sound like the kind of gatherings you want to sit around for hours waiting to get into? Is it that important for you to get those utterly inconsequential "hints" about the next season of Captain WonderPants? Do you really want to be the live-action version of those goons who post "FIRST!" in a thread? Didn't think so.

3. Pack deodorant, spare socks and a spare shirt. There's thousands of geeks and fangirls walking in circles for miles in an enclosed area in the summer in California. Many of them wear black. Many of them don't usually walk that many miles in one day the rest of the year. Add up the odorous potential. You'll thank me for this later.

4. Want a pic? Have a schtick. Yes, there are an awful lot of pretty people walking around. And an awful lot of them happen to be female. But let's refer back to tips #1 and 3 for a second: even if you have the best of intentions and are somehow not a Sweaty Fanboy, you have to expect some people to be a little leery of randomly wrapping an arm around some dude they chanced upon in the crowded aisle. Luckily for me, I came armed with alternatives. These may work for you:

* Absent Friends: my co-worker Roger and Brother Kev-Fu couldn't make it to Con this year, so they asked me to shoot some stuff on their behalf. I scribbled "HI KEV" and "HI ROG" on a notepad, and alternated telling their stories to whoever I wanted to shoot. Nobody got lied to, nobody was forced to touch me, and I got good shots out of it. Everybody wins!

* Props & Costuming. I failed at the latter, but thanks to my pal Alia, I had my very own Sonic Screwdriver to randomly wave at people. Next year, though, if I can pull off the 4-day excursion, I'm thinking of an all-faux medical lineup of costumes: Dr. Horrible, The Doctor, Dr. Venture and this guy.

My last tip is optional; if you're already following it, you're probably in for the long haul.

5. Have something to pitch: Put simply, you never know when you're going to get the chance to. Not only did I bump into DC Comics head Dan DiDio, but I found myself atop a high-rollers hotel in downtown, with the chance to talk to Whitney Masterson from USA Today, and both times I had nothing. I did, however, give Whitney a mixtape that I'm sure continues to rock her world. No, really. Quit looking at me like that. Just go, have fun, and don't stink up the joint, alright?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

You can't take my show from me ...

... But feel free to pick at the Browncoats' wallets. The more time passes since Firefly bit the dust, the dumber Fox looks for pulling the plug on it. Rabid fanbase, hipster-cool creator, and more importantly, all sorts of marketing opportunities. Courtesy of Quantum Mechanix, check out these Blue Sun travel posters. What post-college fanboy or girl wouldn't want this in their apartment?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

This defies even my cynicism: DCU Elementary!

From today's Lying In The Gutters:

You know all that talk of the darkening of DC Comics? What with Wonderdog eviscerating two children's cartoon characters in "Teen Titans," and Warner Bros love of the darkness in "Dark Knight" and wanting it in the new "Superman" movie, the "JLA" movie, hell why not have a serial killing transvestite "Bugs Bunny" movie while we're at it?

If you need a break, some good news. "DCU Elementary" is an upcoming DC project, with all the bad guys and good guys of the DC Universe at school. Currently unscheduled, but it's good to go.

How can you not make a 'toon out of this?

Back To The Grind ...

First off, congrats to BeTheMarriage, for both of them making it into the Hot Blogger Calendar, to be shot later this year. We all know The SlackMistress is a natural for the camera, but join me in urging BeTheBoy to be shot in this fetching ensemble, won't you?

The week ahead looks full: my company is gearing up for its' annual fall festival, while trying desperately to pull it off without going in the red. Here at TIC, I'm working on an Old Meme and deciding how to kick off our Mixtape segments. Also, I've been thinking about Bloggers, as a community. Certainly, I think I stick out among local bloggers, judging by the community meet-up I attended last week.

But we'll start with some light memery, courtesy of IO9: Republicans For Caprica?