Tuesday, June 30, 2009

So how's the show doing? Glad you asked ...

I'll be honest: when @ThePeterPixie and I started talking about doing Hour 42, it was almost on a lark: the two of us doing on-air what we'd been doing online and off for most of the almost nine(!) years we've known each other - geek out over comic books and superheroes and heroines. I think we wrote the bulk of the first show - aka the Collectors' Item - about an hour before showtime. And there was more than a little dead air.

Seven months later, I really feel we're on an upswing. A big part of the credit, of course, should go to Peter and his lovely wife, @TheOrnament - even in the weeks where I feel like I'm falling into the hole again, they've helped me keep my focus and, really, just relax and be geeky.

What we've discovered is, so far, more people seem to listen to us on demand than during the live show - we're "DVR viewing," you could say. I can't say we've amassed a big audience so far, though appearances by The Nerdy Bird and MGK yielded not only sizable audiences but really fun shows. (By the way, guys, the door's open for you to come back at any time.)

Now, for the Coming Attractions section:

* Starting July 12, we're switching time slots, to a 7pm PST (10p EST) start-time. Hopefully this will help us coerce more east-coast friends to join us *cough* @ohsuperheroine and @RichL *cough*
* This coming Sunday, July 5, will be our first show with two guests: Robert Axelrod, who played Lord Zedd on the old Power Rangers shows, and we'll be hearing from the folks behind the Screaming Tiki Con in Cleveland
* We're working on a special anime-centric episode to be broadcast live - with an audience! - from Anime Fest Wichita, where Peter will be serving as the host
* I will be representing The R as a correspondent at San Diego Comic-Con, but I'll also try to make some other connections there ...
* The show will have a presence at the Long Beach Comic-Con in October - and we'll probably be giving away passes through the show in some form.

So yeah, the show is still fun, my partners and I don't want to strangle each other yet, and we're getting a little bit of notice - not bad for a spur-of-the-moment idea, right?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Down In A Hole

I think it started - or rather, began again - during last week's podcast. Everything felt dull. Not boring, really, just blunted. Didn't seem to be worth saying. I got some things done at The R, of course, and wrote and contributed to this week's episode. But I haven't known what to do with my own space.

Today, though, I'm starting to feel better. And things are picking up personally, if not "professionally." I'll keep you posted on these developments, sooner rather than later.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A 2nd Count of Vehicular Filmslaughter: Arturo vs. Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen!

“... From the day the [writers'] strike ended to the first day of shooting was three months, so we had to write the script in those three months, handing in pages at the end of every day so they could be prepped. It was crazy. We finished writing the movie two weeks ago, literally.”
co-writer Roberto Orci, as quoted in Superhero Hype, June 23 2009

You can't make stuff like this up, folks.

Look, you knew Revenge Of The Fallen was going to suck. I knew it was going to suck. Everybody knew it was going to suck as only Michael Bay movies do nowadays. So why is it on pace for the fifth-best opening of all time?

Put it this way: forty-six percent of this country voted for John McCain, remember?


I kid, I kid. To be fair, there were moments where Revenge improved upon its' predecessor: the opening sequence and Optimus Prime's last stand in the forest delivered what everybody was looking for – Giant Robots Kicking The Sh-t Out Of Each Other. And with bolstered rosters for both the Autobots and Decepticons, Orci, co-writers Alex Kurtzman and Ehren Kruger and director Michael Bay got to raise the stakes, if not necessarily the casualties, in a logical fashion from the first film. The increased interplay between Megatron and Starscream was suitably full of venom, and the Decepticons' eye in the sky, Soundwave, was a capable villain in his own right.

But the problem – and this is always Bay's problem – is that nobody on the creative team here can resist going from increase to excess. And, sure, we got more robots and more battles, but the biggest problem with the first film only got worse here: Too much LaBeouf; too much Fox; too many humans, period. None of these people, though integral to the story because of creative choice, were the reason to go see this movie.

Likewise, the idea of the Autobots working with a military ops squad makes sense; the silent, sad reaction of human ally, Lennox (Josh Duhamel) to Prime's apparent demise is as close as the film comes to invoking a sincere emotion. But again, Bay undermines both that moment and Duhamel's performance with his constant fawning over the U.S. Military, to the point of making any other fighting forces look like chumps.

So watching Optimus fight for his and Sam's (LaBouf) lives in the forest, which could have been a welcome callback to his self-sacrifice in the animated feature, is undone from within – too many cut-backs to a cowering Sam and a score that JUST WON'T SHUT UP throughout the film, with invasive “orchestral” touches and faux-inspiring chants.

So to assuage those who just say critics are “hating” on this film because it's Stuff Blowing Up, let me assure you, that's not the problem. It's the crap that Bay and the writers – Orci & Kurtzman gave us much more enjoyable escapism just a month ago with Star Trek - lump in with it. It's Sam's “vision;” it's the Twins; it's the dog-sex jokes and Sam's annoying parents; it's the 20 shots of Fox and Labouf setting the screen inert with their non-chemistry; it's the things that take a movie from mindless fun to just plain mindless. And no amount of money can buy back the feeling of wasting three hours of your life.


There's no question that he wasn't right in the head. Abuse. Addiction. Warped "affection." And all of that will be revisited in the days to come, for good reason.

But so will the good times. Like this.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hour 42 and new directions

You've probably noticed less comic-booky content here lately. That's because, in the interest of the show, I've started moving more of that stuff to the Hour 42 blog. Which will open this space up for ... well, I'm still figuring that out.

In the meantime, however, head on over to the show blog and check out this bit on SD Comic-Con and its' "multiple" Twitter feeds.

Wednesday Links

* Yesterday I saw the worst movie ever - The Hangover. I realize many of you might like it. But all I'm gonna say is, it pissed me off so badly as an audience member I went beyond the usual friendly confines and took my review straight to The R.

* Also, friend of the show, The Nerdy Bird did an interview for the SPEAK Foundation talking about ... well, her coolness. Check it out here.

* Wanna help my friend The SlackMistress out? She needs A Really Goode Job!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Stay Classy, L.A.

As if the usual assortment of nitwits "celebrating" the Lakers' title win last night wasn't bad enough, the town's paper of record recently released a sexist-as-hell "guide to Comic-Con," offering breathless "previews" like this:

Women will be rushing the stage, offering to do star Jake Gyllenhaal's laundry on those washboard abs that he acquired for the film, since he spends much of it fighting, shirtless or both.

For more on that, plus a contest on IGN that sparked an online backlash, head on over to the Hour 42 blog.

Image courtesy of SportsRubbish

Last night, on the show ...

Last night's episode of HOUR 42 was, from my perspective, pretty satisfying - and not just because my internet connection had to be restarted less than three minutes before showtime. For most of the hour, @ThePeterPixie and I talked about the week's news in comic-book journalism - and how some of these things could affect you and us as readers and consumers:

* Newsarama and Comic Book Resources and their relationships with the editors-in-chief of DC and Marvel, respectively
* A golden opportunity that Wizard Magazine arguably had, and chose not to pursue
* The Twitterverse fight involving longtime columnist Rich Johnston
* And Peter challenges me to step up and ask somebody a tough question at San Diego Comic-Con next month.

All in all, a good show, that forced us to think about what we're doing - and we've got some more plans as far as that goes, but we'll get to them later. For now, click on the handy-dandy player below and check us out - and hey, do give us your feedback via e-mail at hourfortytwo@yahoo.com!

New at The R

At Racialicious today I wrote a short column focusing on Guillermo Del Toro's interview with Wired magazine, in which the writer seems to want to keep pigeon-holing GDT as a geek even while praising him for breaking out of the geek box. Plus, Del Toro says he's identified the "Model T" for a whole new way of telling stories.

Also, check out Wendi Muse's story, Nostalgia: A Sport For The Privileged. Here's an excerpt:

We fall in love with the beautifully enchanting portrayal of the past that we encounter in novels, historical fiction, and on the big screen. We get lost in the dashing gentry, the voluminous hoop skirts, the lazy Sunday evenings. This fantasy past, however, is quite far from the reality most of us would have encountered in the "good old days."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

On the show tonight ...

This was a big week for the comic-book press, and @ThePeterPixie and I will be discussing that and more tonight on HOUR 42, including:

* Wizard Magazine's ongoing labor issues
* A rift between a star creator and a comics journalist reaches the Twitterverse
* A more in-depth look at ES' post from yesterday - how might it affect us at readers?
* And what does that picture mean? You'll hear more about that, trust us! And if you missed last week's episode, or just want to try us out, click the handy-dandy player below! Join us LIVE tonight at 11pm EST (8pm PST)!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Moment In DOH!

I made my way to the back of the wine-and-burger(?!) joint with the second-story view. Like the yellow cab drivers below, I had to jostle for position to get around the place. When I got to the back a mild-mannered gent who asked me how it was going.

"I tell you, I don't think this place is narrow enough," I said, looking behind me at the pack of Twitterrr ... ers who had gathered for the latest local networking session. I don't have a lot in common with many of these folks, be it phones, blog topics or hangouts. But by and large, they seem generally pleasant enough company to enjoy free sliders with. "Next time we should meet in a hotel hallway and push the envelope." Less than two minutes later, I found out he was the owner of the joint.

I hate networking. But the sliders were good.

Friday, June 12, 2009


The folks over at Topless Robot compiled a list of their favorite fanfilms of all time, so I thought I'd share a few of their picks with you.

Kicking things off is Ashes To Ashes, a Bat-flick filmed in France - say that five times fast! - with a definite Sin City vibe. The premise here is, Alfred's been murdered and Bats is, to put it mildly, très fâché.

From the classic file, here's TROOPS, one of the first fanfilms I ever saw, a COPS parody set on Hoth, following your average squad of Stormtroopers through a regular enough workday.

Batman: Dead End was a revelation at SD Comic-Con a few years back when it screened for fans, and it's easy to see why. The director, Sandy Corolla, has gone on to greener pastures: he's directing Hunter Prey, a sci-fi thriller set to be released later this year.

And we're finishing up with something that is not on the list, and most definitely not for the squeamish: a fan-made trailer for a Marvel Zombies flick. Stick around past the credits for one final bit of ... well, icky.

Joker image courtesy of Collora Studios

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Bastard Sons Of Joel McHale: Arturo vs. Tosh.0 & Web Soup!

Joel McHale is to TalkThe Soup what David Tennant is to Doctor Who: maybe not the very best star the show's ever had – Greg Kinnear started somewhere, remember? -- but certainly the guy who's made it a hot commodity.

Naturally, this means the copycats are now out in full force. First there was Sports Soup on Versus. This week saw two different web variants on the Soup formula in G4's Web Soup (produced by the folks behind McHale's show) and Comedy Central's Tosh.0. Both follow the basic formula: skinny white guy (Aisha Tyler, I guess, was the exception proving the rule) narrating various pratfalls, this time spotlighting the hapless Internauts unwittingly running for a Darwin Award.

In a case like this, it's up to the hosts to provide that little bit of difference that will make one of these shows watchable and the other a bad idea. And this is where Tosh is the decidedly better show.

Soup host Chris Hardwick inadvertently undermined himself during a brief cameo by McHale during Web's debut, when he defensively cried, "I hosted Singled Out!" during a mock rant by Joel. And that's the biggest problem - that show is more than a decade old. Citing a lengthy career works for Oscar winners; not so much for clip-show hosts.

And even during his Singled days, Hardwick wasn't the lead; it was always more about spotlighting a young, hot (if unfunny) Jenny McCarthy, who's managed to redefine herself as a reliable guest-star and more importantly, a caring mother and activist. Hardwick, though, still comes off like ... well, the Chris Hardwick of more than 10 years ago. Hardwick can be funny in his own right, but, perhaps by design, the Soup producers seemed determined to strip him not only of the ferocity McHale gets to show off, but of his own gift for snark. The awkward act we get in exchange isn't likely to keep peoples' attention between the clips.

By comparison, Tosh host Daniel Tosh, while projecting a relaxed vibe, doesn't lose the viewer. And his show offers the most unique feature on either program: “Web Redemption,” a visit, seemingly played straight-up for now, with the “star” of a random viral meme. In the opener, Tosh interviewed the guy known as the Afro Ninja, and rather than settle for the cheap joke, we got to see the guy and his family. Even Tosh got into the act, busting out a backflip of his own. If “Redemption” continues to engage these would-be micro-celebrities as people, we might get a welcome injection of heart into a TV formula that's already in danger of getting stale.


I've been fighting another block this week, so maybe switching things up will help. Hence, a special video jukebox starring Bea-f'ing-ker.

This morning, Pop Candy (written by the fabulous Whitney Masterson, who I've met) blogged about the Webby Awards, which yadda yadda best on the web yadda yadda Jimmy Fallon won so I don't give a damn anymore. But, our boy Beak earned a People's Voice Award nomination for this take on "Ode To Joy:"

Beaker winning after that was, of course, a fait accompli. The Webbys "twist" on acceptance speeches is, they can only be five words long. But Beaker came prepared ... sort of.

That just made me smile. Because electrocution is always funny. Next up, a haircut, some furniture changes, and some more writing.

Monday, June 8, 2009

We did a show last night ...

... but I couldn't get the preview posted in time, mostly because this time, @ThePeterPixie and I were asking ourselves, "Where do we start?" almost up 'til we went on the air. But, here's some of the stuff we did touch on:

* A look at Marvel Comics' price increases, what they could mean for both consumers and retailers - and the star writer who got proven wrong on the internet over one increase.
* Peter talked more about his impressions of Firefly
* I offered up an analysis of the debut of Grant Morrison's Batman & Robin - and the difference between the new Batman and the new Captain America

And much more! So if you missed the show, just click on the handy-dandy player below!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

ART VS. LIFE: The Pink Slip Predators

Many a romantic evening started with drinks - so I've heard. But Wednesday night somebody tried pulling my pants down over happy hour.

Now that I'm in my sixth month of unemployment living a life free of sucking from the corporate teat - hey, my blog, my rationalization, alright? - I've become one of those people who are even wary when I do see a job posting. I think our club is called Anyone Who's Ever Been To Craigslist.

Still, the ad for something called a "Pink Slip Party" looked encouraging: drinks at Balboa Park while meeting with other job-hunters and possibly recruiters. Reviews from similar events on the east coast seemed positive enough, so I put the $5 entrance fee on the proverbial table and gambled for a shot at a regular paycheck. But I passed on the $10 appetizers - job-hunting with chicken wings in your mouth only works ... actually, I can't figure out when it would work.

I arrived with 40 resumes tucked neatly into two manila folders and myself fitted just as neatly into my black vest, slacks and shoes, topped off by a blue shirt and red tie. The second-story meeting room wasn't hard to find; I just followed the smell of desperation. At the door, the organizers asked me to wear a yellow plastic lei instead of the more complimentary orange option -- orange, you see, was reserved for the recruiters.

"Prettier than a bullseye," I remarked to another would-be employee-to-be in a white lei. Indeed, the agents in orange were instant targets, the prettiest girls (and boys) at the ball. (Not to be confused, of course, with the Prettiest Girl At Last Call. But I digress.)

At this point I should tell you that I hate "networking." Encounter somebody funny at a bar? No problem. Say hi to friends of friends at an actual party? All about it. But "selling myself" has never been enjoyable for me. So watching everybody else in the room jockey for position around the middle-managers in our midst made me queasy enough to circle the room a bit, eyeing nametags and deciding whether any of them were worth my "pitch," such as it was.

I was interrumpted from my spy games by a brunette in a long black cocktail dress. She almost looked too indie to be there.

"I'm just here looking for friends," Paulina* said, shaking my hand. "But my friend wanted me to keep an eye out for sharp people. Do you have a resume?"

Not a problem at all. I was about to whip one out - a resume, you sickos - when I asked her what said friend did. And the look in her eyes stopped my hand in mid-air. She went blank, saying, "I don't know." O RLY?, I thought. Putting the resume back in the folder, I asked for the name of the friend's company. She nodded no, same blank look. Finally, I asked if he had an e-mail. Still nothing.

I told her this was a little weird and backed away, resume safely in hand, and made for the patio, where I ducked behind a couple of smokers and called @soulcamp. Given my recent history with the opposite sex, I considered that I might have reacted out of paranoia, so I wanted a second opinion. 'Cause, you know, this girl was cute.

The way I figured it, if @soulcamp's cynical ass told my cynical ass, "Man, your ass is cynical," then I'd have a reason to re-assess the situation. Alas, he concurred with my assessment. Sorry, rom-com fans.

After resuming my semi-circles around the room, I noticed more job-seekers walking in than job-givers. In fact, I only counted 12 orange leis in the whole joint. In the center, I saw two of the recruiters standing at tables, as hopefuls arranged themselves in front of them out of self-immolation. This wasn't a mixer - it was 1930s Moscow, and the fight for the crumbs had begun.

I walked a little faster, making a note on the folder (more on that later) and feeling the pressure leave my shoulders; nobody was going to get anything substantial out of tonight, I realized. So, newly care-free, I passed my resume along to a few honest-to-goodness recruiters and tried to sneak into a local news crew's shot. After my last brief chat, I noticed somebody new standing to my left and sizing me up. Imagine Ronald Isley as a character from Office Space. Paulina appeared to my right.

"This is him," she announced, in introducing Tom*, before shuffling off. "I was just telling him about you." Like I did with her, I asked Tom about his company while reaching into the folder. An IT firm in Kearny Mesa, he said, a plausible answer: the area is mundane enough to house that kind of business. We parried for a couple of minutes on whether my more admin- and creative-based experience would work in that kind of field, and I finally handed over my resume. "Let me tell you if you're worth hiring," he said. I shrugged off his buffalo stance and asked for a card. Who was this guy?

Prepare for quotation overload: he handed me a card for "his other business" - no name attached, but saying you could "work from home and make $1000 - 3000 per week." What was this about? I asked. He tried to liken whatever this was to medical insurance when I cut him off and asked what employees did.

"If you come aboard with us," he said with a light tone of indignation, "you make money signing people up to memberships." I reached toward the small stack of resumes he had managed to con out of people tonight.

"I'm gonna go ahead and take that back," I said, handing back the card. "It's not gonna work out between us." I'm only disappointed I didn't throw in "It's not you, it's me," just to slide the dagger in deeper. The look of disappointment will have to be enough. I headed back toward the patio and ran into the only person I honest-to-goodness met the whole time: a copy editor for a local Filipino newspaper. "How are you doing?" she asked.

When I told her the truth, she looked at me like I was the only other person in on the joke - and maybe we were; behind us, people still flittered about, as desperate as anybody else stuck in a bar just before closing time. Time to cash out. I stopped at the check-in table and the two professionally cheery redheaded organizers were no doubt expecting profuse thanks; they'd probably gotten them in L.A. and Boston, right? Wrong.

"I hate to be a spoil-sport, but I'd like my five bucks back, please," I told them. I pointed at the note I made earlier before going on. "Of the five companies here, four were other staffing firms. I'm not asking for Fortune 500, but this was not what I signed up for." The younger one looked at me like I'd pissed in her appletini. The older one greeted another person while quietly handing my money behind her back to Young Red, who handed it back to me. I wished them good luck with their next effort before heading down the stairs, giddily. POWER - I CAN HAZ! On the way home, I took those $5 and re-invested it into a gallon of milk. Best $2.19 I ever drank.

* Names were changed, but not the actions

Monday, June 1, 2009

Last night, on the podcast ...

If you missed last night's episode, here's some of the stuff the boys talked about:

* No Joss? No problem! I offered up a plan for a Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot.
* The firing of Dwayne McDuffie and why it makes DC Comics less trustworthy
* Speaking of the Whedonverse, @ThePeterPixie announced he's going to give one of Joss' shows a try!
* A classy gesture honoring Superman at the upcoming Screaming Tiki Con in Cleveland next month

All that and a lot more, so just click on the handy-dandy player tomorrow and check out HOUR 42!