Sunday, May 31, 2009

We are LIVE in three hours ...

Lots to talk about tonight on HOUR 42, including:

* The new Doctor's new Companion
* One convention sells out, while another honors two hall-of-famers
* The dismissal of Dwayne McDuffie from one of DC Comics' flagship titles
* The latest on the reboots, prequels and re-sets being talked about, including El Secreto's plan to build the next generation's Slayer and Peter Pixie on Megan Fox's controversial comments
* Plus your comments and questions at 646-716-4799, LIVE tonight at 8pm PST (11pm EST) on HOUR 42!

Friday, May 29, 2009

BREAKING: BBC Announces The Doctor's New Companion

Word came in this morning via Gallifrey One that the BBC has just named the Companion for the 11th Doctor next year - 21-year-old Karen Gillan. From the release, these words from new show-runner Stephen Moffat:

"We saw some amazing actresses for this part, but when Karen came through the door the game was up. Funny, and clever, and gorgeous, and sexy. Or Scottish, which is the quick way of saying it. A generation of little girls will want to be her. And a generation of little boys will want them to be her too."


I'll be the first to say it: Okay, yeah, I can see a bit of the ol' Rose in her. But ye gods, this is gonna be a pair of young'uns. Cue the Doctor Twilight jokes!

FRIDAY MORNING WORKLOAD!

Busier week than I expected, for temp-related issues. Can't say I don't mind being productive away from the home again, but it's cut into my blogging time just a wee bit.

So, in honor of the rest of us working stiffs, three labor - not to be confused with Labour - related tracks to get you going this morning. And no, Loverboy will not be involved here. Enjoy!





Thursday, May 28, 2009

New on the Hour 42 blog ...

Last week's episode of the show, where @ThePeterPixie and I were joined by MightyGodKing, has been listened to more than 100 times since Sunday night. And over at the show blog, both Peter and I have new columns up, regarding:

* The underwhelming sales "success" that was Battle For The Cowl

and

* Peter sharing his thoughts on a new addition to David Tennant's farewell tour - a guest-stint on The Sarah Jane Adventures. And if you want to catch up on our chat with MGK, just click on the handy-dandy player below!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Racialicious Responds To Star Trek

New at The R, the Heroes roundtable follows Zachary Quinto over to his newest project -- iTrek! Among the topics up for discussion:

* Why Uhura matters
* The surprising new "cool" character among Trek fans
* The guest-stars we want to see next in the new series
* What to do about the Klingons?

Head on over and check it out!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Last night, on the podcast ...

Last night on the show, @thepeterpixie and I were joined by one of my favorite bloggers, MightyGodKing, and we covered a whole host of topics, including:

* The key to writing about Dr Strange
* Why Bullseye ticks him off
* Why he didn't read Power Girl #2
* A good way to include Galactus in a Fantastic Four movie
* The utter ridiculousness of GI Joe

And much more! So if you missed the show, or want to listen to MGK and I make fun of Smallville, click on the handy-dandy player below, and don't forget to catch us next week!

Tonight, on the podcast!

Tonight on HOUR 42, @ThePeterPixie and I will be LIVE tonight with the man who should be writing Dr. Strange, Canada's own MightyGodKing! We'll also talk about:

* The end of Battle For The Cowl
* Further thoughts on Terminator Salvation
* Bad news for Smallville fans
* Legal news surrounding the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Plus your comments and questions at 646-716-4799. And if you missed last week's eventful show, just click on the handy-dandy player below!



Saturday, May 23, 2009

Wack To The Future: Arturo vs. Terminator Salvation!

Forget the easy “No wonder Christian Bale was mad” jokes, just believe the hype: this is the anti-Trek, in all the wrong ways.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

Actually, director McG does a good job setting the table in Salvation, which takes place after the events of Rise Of The Machines, with Los Angeles and the rest of the west coast devastated and the human resistance forced, literally, underground. And here's where this new series could've set itself apart from Trek: As a war story with sci-fi trappings, showing John Connor and the human Resistance trying to hold on to their morality while battling for survival, we might have gotten a good, gritty couple of films out of this “tentpole,” the no-frills alternative to Trek's iPod shinyness.

Instead, trapped by a PG-13 rating – little blood, no cursing and no much-needed gallows humor – McG and writers John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris have to build a “blockbuster” out of cherry-picked bits from other franchises and increasingly forced shout-outs to Salvation's predecessors.

The set-up, such as it is, isn't horrible: Connor's mission is to ensure the beginning of the movie timeline (namely, his mom getting knocked up) comes to pass, so that he can grow up to be Marty McFly Neo the spiritual, if not actual, leader of La Resistance. And the key to that happening is lost in the badlands of Los Angeles – from the lack of upkeep and basic supplies, I'd guess somewhere in Orange County. Christian Bale tries to give us a glimpse into Connor's increasing desperation, but the script doesn't let him do much but be Action Hero Guy, all gruffness and Jack Bauer-like pronouncements of doom, even when he's broadcasting an inspirational message via CB radio.

Hope arrives on two fronts: the sudden discovery of a means to win the war, and the arrival of Marcus Wright, who we meet in the past as a Death Row inmate and, to be honest, is a bit of a d-ck. Yet somehow, Wright re-emerges being able to hotwire cars that've been out of commission for years, and instantly battle-ready, not even needing to stop for food. And none of these Hardened Resistance Fighters even raises a finger of suspicion against their new friend Marty Stu.

Of course, the trailer already spoiled it for us – Marcus is a Cylon Terminator built to infiltrate Connor's forces and set them up for defeat. Wouldn't you know, though, Marcus is still convinced he's human, thus revealing that Skynet is not a sophisticated form of cyber-intelligence; it's actually a Bond villain with a higher screen resolution. And the moment Connor and co. find out what we already know, the "plot" accelerates past plausibility and off the deep end. In a little more than an hour, Marcus gets the girl, confronts his masters, renounces his origins (complete with “throw the chair through glass in anger” slo-moment) and helps save the day.

The problem with this character arc, though, is that it's undone from the get-go. We never find out exactly what he's in for, and we never see the moment where he decides, “Okay, I guess I won't be a douche.”

Like Bale, Sam Worthington is asked to be as plastic as an action figure, more robotic than Summer Glau ever was on The Sarah Connor Chronicles -- which, this film inadvertently(?) reminds us, doesn't "count" in movie canon. And that's all the sadder, because between that show's cancellation and this film's lack of ... well, humanity, Salvation is exactly the opposite: it's the death-knell for a series that used to offer us a lot more.

Friday, May 22, 2009

FRIDAY MORNING COMPETITION!

This past week, millions of people sat in rapt attention watching and supporting young hopefuls as they sang their hearts out for the chance at glory.

I'm referring, of course, to Eurovision, the annual song competition that drew in contestants from 42 countries that began in January and culminated with the finals in Moscow last Saturday. Now, sadly, the participants aren't acts already well-known in the U.S.. Can you imagine, back in the '90s, Oasis repping the U.K. against Sweden's Ace Of Base? Hell, an all-Britpop slugfest to even qualify for the competition back then would've been amazing fun.

Even if they're relative newcomers, Eurovision's participants seem to fall into a category fans of pre-packaged lowest common denominator reality-show swillAmerican Idol are well-acquainted with: goofy-ass pop. Witness the entry from Greece, Sakis Rouvas -- and watch out for his pelvis!



Now, the route to the finals was a lot more controversial than its' American counterpart. For instance:

* The entry from Georgia, "We Don't Wanna Put It In," stirred up a ruckus because - get this -- it had unfavorable political connotations. Obviously, given the song title
* When the Moscow Pride Parade was held the same day as the finals, following a pronouncement by the city's mayor that homosexuality was "satanic," 20 people were arrested, and some of the contestants took the opportunity to express solidarity with the cause.
* The second semi-final round was broadcast on a tape delay in Spain, without the option of televoting -- a violation of contest rules.
* A disagreement flared up between Armenia and Azerbaijan (the latter fielded the 3rd place finisher, "Always") after Armenia used a statue in a promo video that sits on land disputed between the two countries. How's all that for drama?



Compared to this contest, your precious Idol is a spring chicken. Eurovision has been around for 54 years. And apparently, even if these folks aren't well-known here now, they might be, in time: past participants include ABBA, Julio Iglesias and - gulp - Celine Dion. So that's where the blame lies.



The eventual winner, Norway's Alexander Rybak, looks like he's already got a leg up on post-Euro life: "Fairytale," shown below, is already charting heavily across the continent. So if he's annoying the hell out of you by this time next year, well, don't say I didn't give you fair warning.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Where Optimus Happens

If Michael Bay includes this scene in Revenge Of The Fallen, all is forgiven:

Return Of The Blonde

The Blonde texted me about a week after I first told you about her: "Art?" We went out a few days afterward, during which she suggested we make mixtapes for each other for the next time. We talked about catching Lyrics Born and Leonard Cohen when they came to town.

The night of the LB gig, though, I texted her it was probably better for my pursestrings if I didn't go. She wrote back, "nevermind. Best 2 u." Not the most supportive message, I thought.

Four days later, though, she called me, and we met up for wine and happy hour. A few minutes in, she started telling me about her making out with some guy from a band on the beach, and how upset she was that he didn't call back. All she was about, she said, was the makeouts; why did people have to complicate things? She also reveals, indirectly, that she never went to the Lyrics Born show. So why did she text me about going that night? Was she looking for me to foot the bill?

So, yeah, at that point I start having second thoughts about continuing the evening. Just to be sure, after dinner I move in for a kiss. She backs away, but still wants me to go to another bar with her. "Eh, I'm not sure that's a good idea," I say. "I kinda like you, you're not really vibing here ..." But she insists, says, "Let's go, have fun, enjoy life." We make plans to meet 90 minutes later, split a cab and do karaoke. Before we part ways, though, I give her the mixtape she'd suggested during our prior outing.

She ends up being 45 minutes late, after calling me every few minutes assuring me she's on her way. We grab a cab -- on my dime, and get to the bar.

Not quite. Before we go in, she insists on having something to drink beforehand. She buys a $4 bottle of vodka and cheap orange juice and, as we're standing in the alley behind the bar like truant high-schoolers, mixing and trading off swigs of our little cheap-ass cocktail, she hands me a hastily-made mixtape, sitting in a cd sleeve. The artists are listed, by hand, but not the tracks. Still, I appreciate the gesture.

We're halfway down the bottle when we finally walk in. My buzz is negligible. We find a spot near the KJ booth before I head out to buy our first round. Me paying for stuff is starting to not surprise me in a non-pleasant way. I get a more welcome surprise when I see @Soulcamp at the bar. The next few minutes seem to speed by: as we watch people go up on stage, she tells me she's looking forward to hearing me sing; I step away from her to go to the restroom between drinks. Back at the bar, @Soulcamp informs he she's called him "a dick." Now, my friends are many things, but, as we mentioned yesterday, they're not liars.

I'm still processing this info as I go up to butcherbelt out "Take Me Out" when I see her standing toward the back of the room. I'm not expecting Beatlemania from her, but it still irks me to see she's not even looking toward the stage -- instead she's making time with a skinny regular, a hipster who works the "I'm singing badly because it's ironic for me to do so" gimmick every week. By the time I'm done singing, they're out of the room.

I go back to the bar and grab another drink. @Soulcamp hasn't seen her, either. I feel a chill in my gut as I know where this is going. Still, I need confirmation.

I inhale and walk outside, making my way back toward the alley ... and there she is, making out with this hipster buffoon, glasses in her hand, heavy breathing audible from almost 10 feet away. I close my eyes again and inhale. Strike Three.

What happens next, I'm proud of: I walk up to them and say, calmly, "Excuse me." She's got the balls to be surprised to see me. I hand her back her mixtape, and the cheap-ass vodka, and say, "Goodbye." And I walk away - first to settle our tab and say goodbye to @Soulcamp at the bar, and then up the 25+ blocks to my brothers Jason and Kev-Fu's apartment, where I'd have two Whiskey & Cokes to settle me down. As I'm leaving the parking lot, she texts me: "meant no harm." I take 10 seconds for my reply: Sure you didn't.

Later that week find out that after I left, she complained to @Soulcamp that I was taking things too personally, that she didn't "feel the chemistry." In the days since, the odd times she's tried to start a text conversation with me, she's attempted to reproach me, and to appeal to the ease of our prior conversations, and just saying hi. But she hasn't apologized at all. Chemistry is one thing; courtesy is another. It's reasonable to expect, of course, that she feels she's done nothing wrong. But even if that were the case, I can't be that guy anymore, the noble back-up option hoping to "earn my shot." Because if she were willing, that quickly, to hurt my feelings for the first skinny jerk to cross her path in front of me, then it was only gonna get worse from there. And for once, I think I deserve a bit better.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Shedding the spotlight on Zetaman

Over at the Hour 42 blog, my co-host @ThePeterPixie talks about the latest webisode series from Portland costumed activist Zetaman. I guarantee, the video is a lot more advanced than you've probably been led to believe RLSHs (Real-Life Superheroes) are capable of putting together. But it's definitely worth a look.

ART VS LIFE: Ten Years Ago Today ...



The memories came back with a twit from @ohsuperheroine:

Tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of STAR WARS Episode One - THE PHANTOM MENACE! [Barf!]


Give or take a couple of days, that also makes today the 10th anniversary of my college graduation. Back then I was, much as I feel I am now, something just a bit off-center, choosing the life of a college newspaper diehard over something more ... well, collegial. From my farewell column:

No big Spring Break adventures. No great college romances. No frat pledging. Not even any Greek invitations to parties. No afternoons at Monty’s drinking with my buds. No trendy shoes or wife-beater shirts or armband tattoos.

Just three years of sitting in this bunker, typing story after story, going to Associated Students meeting after women’s basketball games, after football road trip, after softball doubleheader, after tennis meet, after whatever else I’d talk myself into writing about or doing, just to feel that rush of doing something. Instead of the latest drink special; I was after a story.

So don’t feel sorry for me because you did more “typical” college things than I did. Instead of the beer bong and the body shot, I had a notebook, a recorder and a will.


The ceremony was held on a sunny Sunday morning at Tony Gwynn Stadium, then a shiny new announcement of my alma mater's fundraising power, now a backdrop for the latest baseball phenom. We didn't get to come out from the dugout, as I would have preferred, but the day was still enjoyable: I sat on the field with my newspaper colleagues and friends. (Trust me, they weren't all one and the same.) The Group -- my circle of high-school friends who I've been lucky to have since moving to the U.S. in '88(!) -- attended en masse, as did my mother.

At the time, I felt my mother's pride in me for not only surviving the accompanying culture shock, but in the journey I'd just completed. Nearly four years later, at the end of a six-month stint living back at home with her and my stepfather, as I was getting ready to move myself out on my own accord, she told me she and my stepdad never wanted me to move in with them in the first place. I realized then and there that love, as the song says, is thicker than blood. And that's all I'm prepared to say about that. Right now.

Ten years later and I've still led a life most unconventional: from the observation deck of the Sears Tower to the pits of South Texas in August; throwing the first pitch at a baseball game; I've seen death hit loved ones, and seen other loved ones give birth to new lives of their own; I have known love, I have hurt others, and I have been hurt. Part of me wonders, occasionally about the "conventional" things I've missed out on -- the weddings, the houses, the great loves -- but I don't know if the cost of getting those would really be worth it. There's not many places I'm genuinely scared of venturing into, not many styles of music or film or art I'm not at least willing to explore. I've gotten standing ovations at Vaudeville theatres and from an entire restaurant full of people. I don't believe the appeal of "growing up" would have been worth living without these experiences. Because, hell, if I'm going to die poor, the worst thing I could do to myself is to do so quietly. (I also, by the way, have a plan forming covering certain events after my death. We'll get to that later.)

I also don't think the "grown up" me would have quite the same kind of friends I do now: creative, progressive, artists, writers, musicians, performers, people who are unafraid as a matter of fact. I certainly don't think that person would have friends, literally, almost across the globe: Chula Vista, San Diego, Wichita, Los Angeles, England, Singapore, New York City, Dallas, San Francisco, etc. The kinds of folks who would know, without any prompting, that the proper graduation gift for a smart-assed geeky college journalist would be to skip the parties and liver-picklings and instead take in a matinee of The Phantom-fucking-Menace followed by dinner at a classy establishment:




Ten years later and I'm still fighting. But I still have my pride. And I still have people who care about me. Even if it takes a crappy prequel to remind me about that once in a while.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Meanwhile, on the podcast ...

On Hour 42 last night, @ThePeterPixie and I had a lot to talk about, including:

* Marvel's newest Avenger
* The latest Doctor Who casting rumors
* Our shared frustration with the Smallville season finale
* The newest comic convention for you to travel to
* And we announced our special guest for next week: the guy who should be writing Doctor Strange, Toronto's own MightyGodKing!

So we hope you can spend part of your holiday weekend with us this coming Sunday, and if you missed last night's show, you can listen to it on the handy-dandy player below:


RaceFail '09 and FOC_U

As mentioned in the latest Heroes Roundtable, there's been some pretty acrimonious discussions online between some science-fiction authors and a group of fans on LiveJournal.

The affair has been dubbed RaceFail '09, and Seeking Avalon has a timeline of events here. Snacky at LiveJournal has one here. And there's another timeline with specific dates at the RaceFail Wiki.

As noted on Seeking Avalon, the debate began in January over the work of author Elizabeth Bear, specifically Blood & Iron. Eventually, fellow authors Will Shetterly, Emma Bull and Kathryn Cramer got involved, and the arguments degenerated to the point that peoples' real names were posted without their consent (though they were subsequently taken off the web).

In the wake of the controversy, another LJ community, has emerged, Fen Of Color United, aka FOC_U. (Fen, it should be noted, is a plural term for fans.) Here's what The Angry Black Woman wrote about the community and today's efforts, specifically:


As RaceFail 09 continues, it has become clear that there are those who are hellbent on marginalizing and silencing people of color. In the past few months, minorities have been denigrated by bigoted authors and publishers who have also asserted that Fen of Color are rare and pratically non-existent. Despite numerous discussions and attempts to enlighten on the fact that POCs are fans, writers, artists and just as integral to this genre as our white counterparts, we are continuously dismissed.

On Monday May 18, 2009, we are asking anyone who identifies as a POC/non-white to post this banner, their speculative short stories, artwork, poetry or simply write a post on their favorite fandom on their blogs as an act of protest to show we will not be silent or invisible. The day of protest is entitled Fen Of Color United or more aptly, FOC_U.

White allies can also show solidarity for this event by posting this banner and expressing the need for diversity and speaking out against the bigotry in the genre, through posts and/or their creative work as well.

In addition, a new community entitled FOC_U has been created. It’s designed to be a safespace for POCs/non-whites and white allies to discuss the issues pertaining to RaceFail and a place to counteract its destructive effects. And it’s also a fun place for everyone to also discuss their favorite fandoms. While memberships and posts are under moderation for the time being (until the community gets more established and input is welcomed), everyone is encouraged to join and make this a home.

You can help out by spreading the word and reposting this banner on your personal blog or creating one of your own if you’d like.

The gauntlet’s been thrown and I for one think it’s past time for us to take a stand and let our voices be heard, whether some people want to hear them or not.


Another LJ user, Oyceter, wrote about some of the bigger issues spinning out of the controversy:

Even though this started as RaceFail, it does not affect "just" race. For one, that assumes that people of color only suffer from a single oppression. Secondly, as many, many people have noted, outing can be threatening on many levels, and I would like to highlight that it can seriously harm women who are being sexually harrassed, GLBT people who are not out, POC who have been threatened, and etc. Media fandom is a safe space for some people. Again, this is something I never thought I would say, as it has proved time and again that it is not a safe space for all people. But in this particular case, it is more of a safe space than SF book fandom because of media fandom's lack of business deals and money-related matters, because of the general lack of ways to retaliate in the offline world. The act of outing comes out of the attempt to control conversation and thereby acts as an attempt to control the people having the conversation, and it comes from not just from two individuals trying to silence an anti-racist ally, but also from a community with more power in terms of gender and race.

WS and KC did not do this in a vacuum; they did it in an environment in which they could reasonably not fear many consequences (and as far as I can tell, they will not suffer consequences at all, save being banned from some blogs they probably never visited). They may not have knowingly taken advantage of this power, but they did regardless. And right now, that same environment's reaction is saying that it's ok.

Talkin' Heroes at The R

After a bit of a delay, you can now catch the season-ending Heroes Roundtable over at Racialicious, and get our take on:

* The season-ending death and ensuing twist
* The continued victimization of Claire
* Mohinder's medical qualifications
* Predictions for next season

As ever, the ladies I work with on this are great fun, and the hardest part of compiling this article from our chat was doing the editing -- I started with almost 20 pages of transcript and had to parse it to less than half that. Still, they bring the snark, as ever. Hope you like it.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Podcast tonight!


(x-posted from the Hour 42 blog!)

Lots to talk about for @ThePeterPixie and myself tonight, including:

-- The newest Avenger and his connection to Trek
-- The new lease on life for Dollhouse
-- The craptastic Smallville finale
-- A travel tip for you comics folks who can't make SDCC
-- And an announcement for next week's show!

All this plus your comments and questions at 646.716.4799 LIVE at 11pm est (8pm pst) tonight on HOUR 42!

Friday, May 15, 2009

BREAKING: Dollhouse reportedly renewed!



Props to @FuryOfSolace and @The_Orphan for the tip: slight report here. This will surely be updated throughout the weekend.

Update: @feliciaday linked to this story from THR.com also reporting the news, saying the move will be formally announced Monday.

Quick Notes on the Smallville finale



After you give up on something, it's natural, after some time has passed, to reconsider your feelings -- was your judgment rushed earlier? Were there qualities you'd forgotten about when you chose to walk away? Would time and distance give you a new perspective if you made the choice to come back?

Thank you, Smallville, for renewing my faith in my own instincts.

After sort-of keeping up to date on the season thanks to SV loyalist @ThePeterPixie, I tuned in for last night's season finale and saw the same things that drove me away. It's not about canon -- that got thrown out the window the minute Lois was brought into the picture. It's the relentless monologuing by everybody about everything they're going to do. This particular episode, it was the tease of a Legion return and possibly a team-up with the Little League, which yielded a pointless cameo by Cosmic Boy, and the rest of the team looking like imbeciles. Really? Hog-tying Doomsdreamy was the big plan? Would a Wet Willie have "crossed the line"? It's little wonder Bruce Wayne hasn't been allowed to associate with this batch of whiners -- it'd be like sticking Denis Leary on a soap opera:

Bruce: Okay, we're gonna send Doomsday to the Phantom Zone. Here's what we --
Chloe: But there's still a real person there!
Bruce: SHUT THE FU*K UP! NEXT!
Bruce: After that's done, we're taking down Lexcorp.
Ollie: Um, I already had an idea about --
Bruce: SHUT THE FU*K UP! NEXT!

Ok, maybe that sounds more like Frank Miller. But you get my point.

And then there was the long-promised throwdown between Super ... guyClark and the Doomsday entity, which lasted all of a good three minutes, sacrificed for the sake of, what, Lois and Tess hurling pronoun modifier smack at each other? Bart Allen's Spicoli impersonation? Look, Clark Kent's morality and immigrant issues can make for a good story. But sometimes, Clark just needs to beat somebody down.



See how satisfying that is for everybody? Anyway, I'll spare you more vitriol. If you check out my twitter feed, you can see how upset I got watching the show. And if you check out the HOUR 42 show blog, wonder of wonders -- Peter didn't like the show either!

FRIDAY MORNING FORMAT!

This week I felt like giving you something on the funky side -- so I went with one of my favorite hip-hop acts of the decade: London's own DJ Format. Format and his crew only released two albums, but they were light years ahead of a lot of what you're hearing from the radio. We'll start making our case with his collaboration with Jurassic 5's Charlie 2na and Akil, "We Know Something You Don't Know."



That same album, Music For The Mature B-Boy, also featured the track that introduced me to Format, "Vicious Battle Raps," featuring Abdominal:



Abdominal would return for Format's second album, If You Can't Join 'Em ... Beat 'Em, and joined fellow Canadian D-Sisive on "3 Feet Deep" -- and I'd definitely play the video game featured in this video.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Examining The Body: Arturo v. Dollhouse 1.12!

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

I can only imagine "Omega" was difficult to write, because it certainly became difficult to watch at times. And not for the right reasons.

As much as "Briar Rose" seemed to propel the series further into the deeper, darker themes Dollhouse delivered on at its' best, the season (series?) finale seemed to mostly backtrack.

The worst offender, unfortunately, was Alpha. While the idea of 48 different personalities getting dumped into -- and apparently mixed with -- that of a "born" killer, it was off-putting to see that his spokes-personality seemed, at times, to be a one-off Buffy villain. And that's not exactly a bad thing; that type of character, striking the cartoonish "HUZZAH!" pose as Wendy is being turned "into" Caroline, is just out of place in this world.

The scenes between Wendy/Caroline and the multi-booted Echo herself played out well, even if Echo's "ascension" into the more fully-realized version of her heroic "authentic" self was, unfortunately, telegraphed the moment Alpha dubbed her Omega. For a genius, he should've known that naming her something like Olivia might have had better implications for his plan to work. And the "climactic" chase and escape scene in the power plant just fell flat and felt rushed; the wedge just falls into Ballard's hands and Alpha walks off-stage without even a "Until next time!"? Ugh.

As has tended to be the case, though, the "B" plot in this episode outshone the main event. This time, the reveal behind Whiskey/Dr. Saunders wasn't just handled efficiently -- seriously, less than 5 lines before confirmation -- but the character's journey from No. 1 Doll (and Alpha's first target) to her bitter reprisal of a defenseless Victor to her apparent self-acceptance was packed with emotional shrapnel. And there's still the question: why would Topher program her to hate him?

The rest of the ensemble was handled inconsistently, perhaps due to time constraints. Toph and DeWitt were on point, but the budding bromance between Boyd and HeloBallard was undercut by Ballard apparently taking the lead thanks to Super-Detective-Fu Skills. There didn't seem to be any questions or conclusions coming from him that Boyd, a former cop himself, wouldn't have arrived to, based on his actions earlier in the series. And Ballard's deal to offer himself as a 'House "contractor," though based on a nice gesture, has one major hole: what leverage could he possibly have on DeWitt to make her accept his terms? Dude outright told Agent Badger the truth and got blown off. Unless Badger is revealed as another "sleeper" Doll, there was nothing stopping Paul from taking the scoop to somebody more sympathetic.

Meanwhile, Sierra and November ... did nothing. They got prepped for Super Hot Girl Bounty Hunter Action! - and then we never saw them again. Well, at least we didn't see them again; thanks to Ballard, November is allowed to return to her civilian self, Madeline. Still, as underwhelming as the pursuit of Alpha turned out, you'd think that having a couple more shooters on the ground couldn't have made things any worse.

Even if the series weren't seemingly on the chopping block, grabbing a season-low share of viewers for its' finale can't help Dollhouse's chances at getting a second season. You can thank Star Trek for those ratings, methinks. So unless the super-duper DVD set (which will reportedly contain both the unaired pilot and the much-discussed "Epitaph One" epilogue) sells like crazy at SDCC this year, this might have been Joss' last stand on traditional television: certainly flawed, occasionally brilliant, but always reaching for some greater meaning. Joss' own Doll -- built for us.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ch-ch-ch-CHANGES!

Come in, make yourself comfortable. Like what we've done with the place?

The makeover wasn't a rash decision; it came about when I created the new official blog for the podcast, which @ThePeterPixie and I will be maintaining from here on out. Plus, the new title conveys the spirit of what I've been sharing in this space, anyway. Have you tried explaining Callbacks to a non-RHPS person? Not the most effective use of one's time.

Of course, the TIC stuff will stay in the archives, and stuff like the Friday Morning Jukeboxes and other features will also stick around. But stay tuned for more surprises, True Believers!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Back To The Future: Arturo v. Star Trek!

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

Let's get the questions out of the way now:

* Is the command structure in the new Star Trek entirely ridiculous? Yes!
* Is the “Red Matter” the epitome of flimsy sci-fi “science”? Yes!
* Is a small, evil part of me disappointed that we didn't see Tyler Perry as Admiral Madea? Kinda!
* Is Classic Spock's entire presence a series of plot-connecting contrivances? Definitely!
* Does any of this make the film any less enjoyable? Absolutely not!

No, the new Star Trek (iTrek, for short) is barely at all like the original series. That's the whole damn point, one that's acknowledged early on. This is a different timeline – doesn't mean prior canon doesn't count; just that the game is different from here on out.

And even then, this story and this ensemble nailed the most important aspect of any Trek movie – the relationships between the Enterprise's core group – while at the same time redefining them. In short: Uhura hooking up with Spock? Good. Uhura hooking up with Spock over Kirk? Very good.

That romantic development underscores the biggest difference between iTrek and 8-Track Trek: Chris Pine's version is decidedly not the Alpha Dog here. In this timeline, JTK is more like a wolf in the old Kipling poem: without this team around him, he's effectively useless. He needs Pike to motivate him; he needs Uhura to confirm he's not talking out of his ass; he needs Sulu to save said ass on Nero's mining platform; and he needs both Spocks and Scotty in order to save the day. Everybody gets to shine, and the ensemble is so much the stronger for it.


Now, people are going to complain that this is “a dumb action movie,” but stop and ask: did anybody seriously expect anything involving this bunch to go smoothly? What did people want, Degrassi in space? The return of V'ger? The Phantom Menace? This story zooms along at a more ludicrous speed than Spaceball One, the heroes constantly cheat to win (the Kobayashi Maru sequence; Sulu's embellishing his “combat training;” Classic Spock shattering about 50 different time-travel tropes) and the villain – Eric Bana's under-developed Nero – gets punked out way too easily.

But the character work was too good to harp on any of that for too long. To wit:

The Racialicious Scorecard:
Uhura: No character benefited more from both the reboot and the re-vamp of their origin. Here we saw her as not just a determined, successful cadet, but one who brought a real skill-set to the table. Bring on the Uhura/Spock slash-fic ... er, and hopefully some insight into how those two crazy kids got together in the first place.

Sulu: Again, Kirk only survives the fight atop the first drilling platform because of young Hikaru – in a lesser movie, Sulu's “fencing” confession would have been a set-up to make him look inept in actual combat. We got quite the opposite here. The “parking brake” bit gave us a chance to see the patented John Cho Frustrated Face. Interesting note about Cho's casting: apparently director J.J. Abrams was concerned about having a Korean-American inheriting a role played by a Japanese-American, but was told by George Takei that the character was meant to represent “all of Asia.”

Spock: And now we come to the Big Other. The nature of Spock's heritage gets addressed early on, and it was a little ham-handed to see Vulcans being so openly prejudicial for two reasons:
1.Would Logic not show racism to be ... well, illogical?
2.We never saw him encounter racism from anybody in Starfleet – weird to think of that as “wrong,” but we'll talk more about Starfleet in a bit.

When it came to addressing Spock's basic inner conflict, though, Zachary Quinto pulled it off. He even brought a bit of swagger to the character (“I have no comment on the matter” and “Out of the chair” were two of my favorite lines in the movie). And when he met his elder self, I recoiled in horror because that's what they teach you on Doctor Who, yet I must confess ... ah, it got a little dusty in the theatre.

Nero: Was anybody else thrown off by us seeing an extraterrestrial villain who didn't sound British? The guy's working-class patois made him sound almost like a Tarantino character, but the fact he was a working-class guy almost made it work. Of course, as a villain with an ugly-as-sin ship, he was no Montalban. But who is?

Starfleet: Ok, so all of the power players were men. This is nothing new, unfortunately. (According to Memory Alpha, of the admirals seen in prior canon, most were men, only four were POC, and the only female was Vulcan. Six women, including Voyager's Kathryn Janeway, were Rear or Vice Admirals.) But the shots of extraterrestrials and POC serving together, without anybody looking at anybody else as weird – Kirk was a misfit because he's just that big of a clueless putz – was encouraging in the sense that, rather than the audience getting the “lesson” of tolerance handed down as a plot point, we got to see it in action. Let's hope for some more active examples as the series continues. One more note: the doomed Capt. Robau of the Kelvin was played by Faran Tahir, an Angeleno of Pakistani decent.

Join us TONIGHT with The Nerdy Bird!

We're just three hours away from an extra-packed edition of HOUR 42! Tonight, @ThePeterPixie and I welcome The Nerdy Bird, Jill Pantozzi, as she makes her podcast debut!

Jill will join us to talk about the online controversy surrounding the upcoming Marvel Divas series. We'll also discuss the debut of the new Power Girl solo series, and we'll share our thoughts on the summer's big releases and hero news -- Star Trek! Dollhouse! Deadpool! All this plus a strange story out of Cincinatti: are you ready for Real Life Super-Villains? Join us for the fun this Sunday at 11pm EST (8pm Pacific) on HOUR 42!

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Bird is the word on HOUR 42!

@ThePeterPixie and I have something special for you this Sunday on HOUR 42: the podcast debut of comics blogger, radio personality and all-around media maven The Nerdy Bird herself, Jill Pantozzi!

Jill will join us to talk about the online controversy surrounding the upcoming Marvel Divas series. We'll also discuss the debut of the new Power Girl solo series, and we'll share our thoughts on the summer's big releases and hero news -- Star Trek! Dollhouse! Deadpool! All this plus a strange story out of Cincinatti: are you ready for Real Life Super-Villains? Join us for the fun this Sunday at 11pm EST (8pm Pacific) on HOUR 42!

FRIDAY MORNING MIXTRESS!

Today we're showing off another mixtape, one created for my friend Jules, aka The Mixtress.

The concept is simple: make a mixtape. Send Jules two copies and $3. In return you get a mix from her and a mix from somebody else participating in the project. It's a dead-lock cinch you'll get to hear something brand-new to you -- and, hey, you can help turn somebody on to stuff you like, as well. So, here's what I'm sending this month:

MIXTAPE SPOILERS AHEAD!



1. Shiny Toy Guns -- Major Tom
2. Bimbo Jones -- And I Try
3. DJ Lobsterdust -- Down UnDa Club
4. UNKLE & Josh Homme -- Restless
5. The Felice Brothers -- Run Chicken Run
6. Angry vs. The Bear -- I Sing, We Sing
7. Figurines -- Hey Girl
8. The Stranglers -- Golden Brown
9. Drew Andrews -- I Could Write A Book
10. Lior & Sia -- I'll Forget You
11. KaiserCartel -- Oh No (live on My Old Kentucky Blog)
12. A Fine Frenzy -- Last Of Days
13. The Hood Internet -- In The Air Ce Soir
14. Metric -- Help I'm Alive (The Twelves Remix)
15. Thunderheist -- Space Cowboy
16. Semi Precious Weapons -- Magnetic Baby (NSFW)
17. De Novo Dahl -- Be Your Man (live on MOKB)
18. You Me & Iowa -- Howling At The Summer
19. The All New Adventures Of Us -- The Wide-Eyed Led Us Home
20. Location Location -- Starpusher
21. Paul Van Dyk -- Time Of Our Lives

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Friendly Reminder About Cinco De Mayo



Continuing a semi-yearly tradition of mine since my days working at my college paper, just a few notes about today:

1. This is not Mexican Independence Day
Nope, that's September 16th. 5/5 commemorates an unlikely Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The battle delayed, but did not stop, an eventual French occupation of the country, which lasted three years before it was toppled.

2. This is not that big of a deal back home
Don't let the beer ads fool you; 5/5 is a regional holiday, usually celebrated at the site of the battle. But, it's nowhere near as big a deal as it is in El Otro Lado. Now, is that because of immigrant pride, or American corporate opportunism? That, I leave for you to decide. During my time working in local Spanish-language radio, the biggest sponsors for our Cinco de Mayo concerts were -- you guessed it -- beer companies. Banners everywhere, beer girls hawking their wares on the stage, booze selling like hot cakes in the fenced-off drinking area. I don't doubt that at least some of the people who attended the events had their hearts in the right place, but the commercial aspect definitely got on my nerves when I thought about it.

3. 'Celebration' does not equal acceptance
Sure, people around the country will don their fakest sombreros and sing Ricky Martin at karaoke bars -- because all Latinos are from Mexico, right? -- but the furor over the H1N1 virus revealed examples of how we're still Others here, no matter the method of emigration. Check out these comments by Boston radio host Jay Severin regarding Mexicans:

"When we are the magnet for primitives around the world - and it's not the primitives' fault by the way, I'm not blaming them for being primitives - I'm merely observing they're primitive."

"It's millions of leeches from a primitive country come here to leech off you and, with it, they are ruining the schools, the hospitals, and a lot of life in America."

"We should be, if anything, surprised that Mexico has not visited upon us poxes of more various and serious types already, considering the number of criminaliens already here.

And in Pennsylvania, two white teens were acquitted in the beating and killing of an immigrant. From the story:

"Isn't it a little late for you guys to be out?" the boys said, according to court documents. "Get your Mexican boyfriend out of here."

... Burke recalled hearing one final, ominous threat as the teens ran. "They yelled, 'You effin bitch, tell your effin Mexican friends get the eff out of Shenandoah or you're gonna be laying effin next to him,' " she said.


On the more anecdotal side, have you ever noticed that, in some discussions about the increase in Spanish-language radio stations in this country over the past few years, that there's almost always one person in the talk who gets indignant about it? That complains about "fucking Mexican music" as if it were clogging up his or her airwaves, depriving them of valuable time that could be spent listening to Sublime for the 80 millionth time? The guy who fancies himself a new Zapata today might be parroting Lou Dobbs tomorrow. Just something to listen for, if you're joining the party at your local watering hole tonight. Myself, I'm probably gonna sit it out, think about home, and have a drink.

Not tequila, for the record.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What's Behind The Music?: Arturo v. Anvil: The Story Of Anvil!



As easy as it could be to compare Anvil! The Story Of Anvil to This Is Spinal Tap, it's really more like a more acclaimed movie, The Wrestler, than you might imagine.

Like Randy "The Ram" Robinson, band founders Steve "Lipps" Kudlow and Robb Reiner were big in the '80s, until they somehow lost their way, resulting in them playing Toronto-area bars and, in Lipps' case, making do working for a school-lunch catering company.

Quite unlike Randy, though, Lipps and Robb are living in more understandable circumstances. Their band is still playing and recording, and each of them is supported by a loving, if at times seemingly bemused, family. Not only are the Anvil boys more real than The Ram, they're more sympathetic. As we see each of them -- Lipps, especially -- ping-pong between optimism and fear, friendship and frustration, and a steady, if underwhelming, stream of gigs across Europe, it's not hard to feel for them as they keep reaching for a level of success that, going by the sentiments of the array of stars interviewed for the film, they should already have reached.

The problem with the movie -- and it's not necessarily the band's fault -- is that we never learn why they never made it big. There's allusions to mismanagement throughout the movie, and the band meets a guy on tour who seemingly volunteers to help remedy that, but we never find out what comes of that encounter. Furthermore, it's surprising to find that Anvil isn't able to capitalize on the '80s nostalgia wave and book itself into smaller halls closer to home. Put it this way: if Enuff Z'nuff can still tour, there's seemingly no reason why Anvil -- who, judging by the tracks we hear in the movie, is actually good -- shouldn't be, either. At least, none that's shared in the film.

In the end, though, Anvil does its' duty as a feel-good story, culminating in the group's return to Japan, which was the nadir of their initial run toward the big leagues. Whatever the hell had happened to deny them further triumphs, the joy in Lipps' face as he sees the crowd is genuine. And if the positive press this movie and their accompanying tour is getting Anvil some of that long overdue recognition, I won't fault them for that.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Shanks For Nothing: Arturo v. X-Men Origins: Wolverine!

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the movie of the year! ... if the year were 1995.

Give Hugh Jackman credit for putting his money where his mouth is -- he's listed as a producer on this flick, and his affection for the title character seems genuine. Unfortunately for him, this movie was more like Van Helsing than X-Men 2. Hell, there were moments when the movie felt like a slightly-better-written episode of Smallville.

Part of the problem is, because the film is a prequel (in film canon, it takes place more than a decade before the X-series opens), there's too many limits going in. You know Jimmy/Logan/Wolverine is gonna make it through; it's just a matter of how the dots get connected.

And to be fair, the script by David Benioff and Skip Wells does that well enough. Yes, a young Cyclops is featured in the film, but there's not enough contact between himself and Logan to mess with the timeline established in the rest of the movies. There's even a scene thrown in for the Scott/Emma Frost 'shippers among us. (One wish for the planned First Class film: a triangle between Scott, Emma and a young Jean Grey. Fanservice and soap opera all in one!)

The brightest spots amidst all the angst (more on that later) are, not surprisingly, Ryan Reynolds stealing the movie as Wade Wilson in the course of one monologue; and, somewhat surprisingly, Taylor Kitsch giving us a Gambit who is refreshingly long on swagger and short on the Pepe Le Pew-like pronouncements he's prone to in the comics. Both are one-note characters, to be sure, but they're entertaining one-note characters -- enough so that you actually want to see their roles being expanded if the series continues.

As Duncan MacLeod, Logan himself, Hugh Jackman again brings his best t-shirts to the proceedings. But the character is undercut from the get-go. First off, as we've all known since his first solo mini-series, a good Wolverine story should not be PG-13. You can't do the grim without doing the gritty. As he tells his girlfriend, "What I do isn't very nice," so to put it bluntly, this story needed blood. Maybe not Eli Roth-levels of gore, but enough to hammer home the nastiness of the circles he runs in when he's not in Westchester County.

The toning-down of the story also leaves Liev Schrieber with precious little to do as Sabretooth, who is further neutered by being portrayed as Logan's half-brother, something which Wolvie's proper origin didn't cover. The "my brother is my enemy" subplot, spread out over what felt like 200 fights between the two, took Wolverine from retro to outright dated. Not bad, per se; hindsight being what it is, if this were the first X-movie we'd ever gotten back in the day, it would be a good warm-up for whatever was to come. But by now, it's just another comic-book movie -- hardly the best at what it's trying to do.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Quick Thoughts on Dollhouse

Dammit, now that was Prime Whedon Stuff right there. "Briar Rose," written by TEH JOSS and Jane Espenson, gave us a cliffhanger on par with anything we'd seen the Mutant Enemy team do before. Anything.

And most of the credit here, without spoiling it, should go to Alan Tudyk, who knocked his role out of the park. This is the kind of ass-kicking Heroes just can't deliver any more. Suddenly I'm more hopeful next week's episode is only a season finale.

Up In Smoke: Arturo v. Heroes 4.12!


Cross-posted to Racialicious!
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

A note about this week's especially tardy report: Monday morning I had to undergo an emergency wisdom tooth extraction. The procedure required more than the usual amount of local anesthetic to prep me, because for most of the previous 10 hours, I'd felt like the tooth had grown flaming tendrils designed to stream shards of glass down my jaw and up my temples, despite my efforts to contain the pain; literally, I was popping antibiotics and pain relievers at a rate that would give Hollywood starlets pause, and it didn't help.

I tell you all this because the experience was less frustrating than the latest season finale for Heroes.

True, “An Invisible Thread” did give us a pair of sincere OHMYGOD moments. But even when it's good, this series can leave you dissatisfied. Why all the filler between the killer? The best and worst aspect of the episode was, it made stuff like 1961 look even more pointless in retrospect. And it brings other uncomfortable questions to mind:

1. Will less episodes mean more good episodes?
Advertising Age recently reported that the show is getting trimmed from 25 episodes to 18-20 eps next season. From the examples given us by British television, that could bode well.

At the very least, it could mean we don't have to wait for months while the Benetrellis and friends run around in circles before finally getting their crap together in the proverbial nick. This time, the First Family ended up outwitting Sylar before he could fulfill his Presidential aspirations.

Again, though, let's stop and think for a sec: exactly why did Sy want to usurp President Worf's form? If his motivation had been to follow through on Micah's idea to repeal the persecution of metahumans, that might have made things more interesting. As it was, we got a solid 40 minutes of Zachary Quinto getting his Snidely Whiplash on – which, hey, the guy is good at. But we've been here already.

This time around, the Heroes' victory was costlier than usual. As Roundtable member Mahsino predicted last week, Nathan and his eyebrows were cut down by Sylar and his, eyebrows. The scene and its' aftermath, with Angela losing it at the sight of his body, were each gruesome in their own ways. But Angela's and Noah's idea to “save the day” -- using Parkman to brainwash Sylar into believing he is Nathan, was, admittedly, clever in its' own ugly way – it's the kind of f'd up gambit the two old pros are used to after 20 years in the life, although Parkman, still very much a do-gooder, is already chafing under the guilt. But HRG's explanation is the right one: Sylar becoming a news story would only have made things worse for everybody with powers, and their families.

So, in the next volume, “Redemption,” one can expect to see Mr. B and Mrs. P try to both keep SyNate under control and guide Primatech's rebirth as a government agency. But, see, consider one thing about these past few grafs ...

2. What will the series' POC characters matter in the grand scheme of things?
Now more than ever, the answer seems to be: not much. The overarching plotline would seem to not feature any POCs. And in Volume IV, remember how Rebel and his mission – shepherding metahumans to safety – was seemingly so important early on? As soon as we saw it was Micah, the character and the story were dropped, aside from last week's run-in with Sylar. Previously, Claire and Hiro had received communications from Micah; do their cell phones not have a Reply button? And this is without bringing up the rest of Micah's family being brushed off over the course of the series.

In “An Invisible Thread,” Hiro manages to get his own mini-arc, as he defies the pain his powers are now causing him to “shut down” Building 26 and free Mohinder and the other imprisoned superhumans. He also saves Noah from getting betrayed by Danko. But witness the cremation scene: only Hiro, Mohinder and Ando are still part of the main ensemble, three characters out of a POC group that numbered seven in Season One – nine, if you count Charles and Kaito.

And of these three, only Hiro has been mentioned as having a subplot in the upcoming season, as he continues to struggle with his powers. Some predictions: next season, Hiro's going to go through a Flowers For Algernon-like journey designed to be “emotionally wrenching.” Ando will get his own costume. And Mohinder will get manipulated by somebody while providing the voiceovers.

3. Why should anybody stick with this show after the past couple of seasons?
Honestly, I couldn't tell you right now. And coming from a guy who was positively enthralled by Heroes' first season, that's a tall statement to make. The show that seemed to be on a path to expand racial dynamics in sci-fi on tv isn't even a very good sci-fi show anymore – let alone a positively diverse one. The show has lost its' direction, its' heart, and most damningly of all, it's lost its' point. It has been passed by, creatively and/or commercially, by the likes of Lost, Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, and, hell, arguably even Dollhouse.

So we come to you, dear readers, and ask: should we even care about recapping this show anymore? Several people at The R have written in that they don't even watch Heroes anymore, or only watch it because they want to snark at it with our Roundtable. That is the saddest commentary of all on a show that once held so much promise: that it's just around for us to laugh at. Much like my Monday morning, after the pain and the frustration, the season and this series have only left me numb.

Next Week: A special chat with the Racialicious Roundtable
All images courtesy of HeroesWiki
Previously: Racialicious Heroes Archive

FRIDAY MORNING BLACKPOOL!


You know how it goes. You find a series you dig, you want to find out more what else your favorite actors in the show have done. For instance, before his eyebrows took over Heroes, Zachary Quinto was doing stage work here in San Diego. Same goes for Doctor Who: before she played Rose Tyler, Billie Piper was doing stuff like this. (Of course, after she played Rose, Billie was doing NSWF stuff like this, but that's a whole other discussion.)

And then we come to David Tennant and Blackpool.

I haven't tracked down the whole series, but the premise seems to be Moulin Rouge meets Mickey Spillane, centered around casino owner Ripley Holden, played by David Morrissey, who many of us here in the States recall from The Next Doctor. This is the opening of the series' second episode:



Tennant, here sporting his native brogue, plays Detective Inspector Carlisle, who arrives to investigate a murder in Ripley's casino. He also makes time to bust Ripley's son:



Along the way, Carlisle also starts making time with Ripley's wife Natalie, leading up to this scene, which I've been assured is SQUEE-worthy:



Like I said, I haven't seen the whole series -- just bits here and there on YouTube. And apparently it was only released on DVD in the UK and Australia. But, it's definitely a series I'm keeping my eye out for.