Wednesday, April 19, 2017

INTERVIEW: Steve Wozniak on Sci-Fi, Comic Books, and How Star Trek Shaped the Future

From co-founding Apple Computer in the '70s to his continued work in groundbreaking new technologies right up to the present day, Steve Wozniak is a pioneer in the field of personal computing. His current project, however, hopes to meld a love of science fact with the worlds of science fiction and fantasy, with this weekend's second annual Silicon Valley Comic Con.

Bringing together such diverse luminaries as astronaut Buzz Aldrin and NASA scientists to cast members from TV's The Walking Dead, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and more, the three-day gathering in downtown San Jose hopes to showcase the ingenuity and diversity of geek culture via a showcase of colorful costumes, fan favorite productions, and scientific innovation.

I had the pleasure of chatting with the spritely and gregarious "Woz" during his recent swing through San Francisco, and we discussed his own roots in geek culture and what he hopes the Silicon Valley Comic Con will become in the future. Read on for some highlights of our conversation:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: The Fate of The Fate of the Furious

But that's not all for the MovieFilm Podcast this week! We still had more to say, so we hung around a little while longer to offer up our thoughts on the latest (greatest?) entry in Universal's long-running Fast & Furious franchise, The Fate of the Furious, which revved its engines to the tune of a $500 million-plus global opening this past weekend -- the biggest in history. So, how does Vin Diesel's latest "family" adventure play compare to its forerunners? Does the series weather the loss of co-star Paul Walker? How soon before the Rock conquers the world? We ponder all these questions and more in a special Fate of the Furious extra episode of the MovieFilm show! Listen below, or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. Hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

The MovieFilm Podcast: Star Wars News Galore + More!

The MovieFilm boys are back with their takes on the latest news and new releases! This past weekend brought a whole boatload of Star Wars news out of the famed Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, and we're here with our takes on the first teaser trailer for The Last Jedi, plus word that Star Wars: Rebels is coming to a close, as well as the hints that have been dropped for the franchise's future past 2019's Episode 9. Beyond that, we also have quick thoughts on the new trailers for Thor: Ragnarok and Transformers: The Last Knight, as well as news that Arnold Schwarzenegger's long-developing The Legend of Conan likely won't happen after all. It's a breezy 85 minutes, and you can listen to it all via this link or the embed below, or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Batman-on-Film Podcast: Star Wars: The Last Jedi Teaser Reaction

Click the embed below to catch my appearance this past weekend on the latest Batman-on-Film Podcast. This time around host Rick Shew had me join regular panelists Justin Kowalski and Ryan Hoss, and special guest FJ DeSanto for an in-depth geek-out session as we picked apart the first reveal of footage from December's Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I had a great time with this one, and I'm sure you'll enjoy listening to it as well.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Nostalgia Theater: Tom & Jerry Kids Starts Fox Kids

In past installments of Nostalgia Theater I've discussed the propensity from purveyors of kidvid to shrink animated icons down to pint-size. For whatever reason, this trend proliferated for about a five year stretch, and then went away as suddenly as it began. We saw it with the Flintstones and Scooby-Doo on ABC, Yogi Bear on NBC, and then in 1990 Hanna-Barbera did it again with the beloved cat and mouse duo for Tom & Jerry Kids, the very first show to air as part of Fox's kid lineup, and the last of H-B's kiddie-fied cartoons. Here's the intro:

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Zaki's Review: The Fate of the Furious

Read my 2013 review of Fast & Furious 6 here

Read my 2015 review of Furious 7 here

Eight movies in, there are relatively few surprises left to be had from Universal’s Fast & Furious films, which is probably fine. Like with any long running series, be it Star Wars or Star Trek or Harry Potter, it’s the thrill of the familiar as much as anything else that has that has audiences lining up for each new installment. And from 2001’s The Fast and the Furious to now, the films’ single defining characteristic has become their chameleonic ability to switch up tones and genres with whiplash rapidity, morphing from “Point Break with street racing” to Ocean’s Eleven-esque heist pictures to glorified superhero movies.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Recommended Reading

Last week saw Majority Leader Mitch McConnell do away with the filibuster for Supreme Court picks as a way to ensure that President Trump's nominee Neil Gorsuch would make it onto the bench. This, of course, was the ultimate endgame of a long con that began just over a year ago when Antonin Scalia unexpectedly passed away and McConnell conspired to deny President Obama his Constitutional duty of picking a new justice, in hopes that Republicans could get their own guy in there instead. Given that this is merely the latest volley in an anti-American onslaught by McConnell, The Washington Post's Dana Milbank has had enough:
By rights, McConnell’s tombstone should say that he presided over the end of the Senate. And I’d add a second line: “He broke America.” No man has done more in recent years to undermine the functioning of U.S. government. His has been the epitome of unprincipled leadership, the triumph of tactics in service of short-term power.
Read more here.

Tape Thoughts

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Nostalgia Theater: Ernie Doesn't Want to Live on the Moon

Like most kids of my vintage, I grew up watching Sesame Street. Even far away in Saudi Arabia, I formed an early attachment to Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, and I especially consider the songs from that show the first "playlist" of my life. One number in particular that really stayed with me was a melancholy little ditty called "I Don’t Want To Live On The Moon."

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Spin, Spicer, Spin!

My contributions to the #SpicerSpinsMoviePlots hashtag that was trending on Twitter yesterday:

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Recommended Reading

Josh Marshall makes a pretty important observation about the impending Senate showdown over President Trump's SCOTUS nominee, which will very likely prompt a Democratic filibuster and, in turn, an invocation by Mitch McConnell of the so-called "nuclear option" getting rid of the supermajority requirement for the Supreme Court:
Mitch McConnell's historically unprecedented and constitutionally illegitimate decision to block President Obama from nominating anyone a year before he left office was the real nuclear option. The rest is simply fallout.
There's much more at the link, but the key point is that we didn't just suddenly end up here. This is the inevitable result of a path that Republicans chose to place the country on. As such, it's worth understanding the real crux of the story rather than being taken in by a media narrative that Democrats are sacrificing Senate norms to the altar of naked partisanship.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Diffused Congruence: Dr. Ihsan Bagby

For this month's show, we're joined by Dr. Ihsan Bagby, professor of Islamic Law at the University of Kentucky. Listen as he shares the story of his own journey to Islam, as well as his experience working for social equality over the last several decades. Check out the show at the embed below or at this link. As always, send any questions or comments to diffusedcongruence@gmail.com, or at our Facebook page.


Sunday, April 02, 2017

Nostalgia Theater: The Stars Are Back on NBC!

It's a ritual we've become accustomed to every season. As the TV networks go through the process of rolling out their fall wares, there's inevitably a new campaign they construct the season around. Back in 1993 the big push by NBC was "The Stars Are Back!" to highlight not only the many popular shows the Peacock Network had in their back pocket, but all the big name stars that were returning to the network.

In terms of "popular shows" we had stuff like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Wings, Blossom, and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. And as far as "returning favorites," viewers in 1993 could look forward to John Larroquette (debuting his eponymous sitcom), Bill Cosby (starring in The Cosby Mysteries), and Kelsey Grammer (in the process of transitioning from Cheers to Frasier -- whatever happened to that show?).

Friday, March 31, 2017

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Talking Planet of the Apes with Jim Beard & Rich Handley!

For my latest Nostalgia Theater show I'm honored to be joined by authors Jim Beard & Rich Handley as they discuss their new short fiction anthology Planet of the Apes: Tales From the Forbidden Zone, which collects stories by some of the leading lights in sci-fi writing as they imagine new worlds within the multitudinous franchise. They discuss their own lifetime love of Planet of the Apes, how the book came about, and give a rundown of what readers can expect in the new tome. As longtime listeners know, the original Planet of the Apes is my all-time favorite movie, so any chance I have to go fanboy on Apes, I'm happy to take it. I have a feeling you'll enjoy listening to this conversation as much as I did being a part of it! Check out the episode via the embed below, or subscribe at iTunesStitcher RadioTuneIn Radio, or Google Play (and remember to leave a review!). As always, send all questions or comments our way via MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, and don't forget to hit "like" on our Facebook page.

The MovieFilm Podcast: Power Rangers and Ghost in the Shell!

The MovieFilm boys close out March by diving in for in-depth discussions on the big budget Power Rangers reboot and this weekend's Ghost in the Shell! In addition, we discuss word that James Cameron has further delayed his long-promised Avatar sequels, and the curious choice who Warner Bros. wants to direct their Akira remake. Plus, hear our quick takes on the latest trailers for Justice League, Baywatch, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and War for the Planet of the Apes, and catch up on the latest Star Wars news! Spring is here, and we're just warming up at the MovieFilm Podcast! you can hear it all all via the embed below, or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Representation

The Batman-on-Film Podcast: Justice League Trailer Reaction

This past weekend I once again joined my friends at the Batman-on-Film Podcast to discuss the release of the first official trailer for next fall's Justice League flick. If you haven't seen the video, you can watch it here, and after you do that, click on this link or hit "play" on the embed below for my hot take, as well as those of hosts Bill Ramey, Rick Shew, and Justin Kowalski. It was a good chat, and I think you'll enjoy giving it a listen.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Nostalgia Theater: After These Messages...

My wife just went into labor, so no time for a full Nostalgia Theater this week as we pack up and head to the hospital to welcome our little girl into the world. But rather than leave you completely in the cold, I figured I'd gift you with some vintage TV commercials from CBS Saturday morning circa 1988 that someone was gracious enough to not only preserve, but upload, and man, these should really get the ol' nostalgic juices flowing if you're anything like me (seriously, remember Bubbl-Eez?). Enjoy, and I'll see you next week!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Zaki's Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

If there's one thing the Disney company hasn't had any trouble with over its many decades, it's finding new ways to jostle its multitudinous catalogue of IPs around and getting brand new franchises to fall out. Between Pixar, LucasFilm, Marvel, not to mention Mickey, Donald, and all the rest, it's been an extraordinary run. And in recent years they've tapped yet another, an entirely new vein of Disney Dollars by taking the library of animated classics in the ol' vault, sprinkling some fairy dust on them, and turning them into live action spectacles.

This trend started with 2010's Alice in Wonderland and really kicked into gear with 2015's Cinderalla, but last year's The Jungle Book is the arguable peak for these productions thus far. You may recall that I was absolutely gobsmacked when I saw that one, and so it set the bar for my own expectations going into the Mouse House's latest animation/live action transmutation: Bill Condon's Beauty and the Beast, based on the beloved 1991 feature. Now, maybe it's unfair to expect one movie to measure up to the high bar set by another, but let's be honest, high expectations come with this particular territory regardless of which way you look at it.

Monday, March 20, 2017

"Impatient, Vain, and Horny for Malice"

John Oliver went after the Trump Administration's budget on last night's episode of Last Week Tonight, and he didn't waste any time calling it out for the atrocity that it is, taking a hatchet to social programs (which disproportionately serve the very folks who helped hoist Trump into the highest office in the land) while serving as a godsend to the military-industrial complex. Watch the video his segment below:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Lifetime of Movies

Nostalgia Theater: Come On Lets Go, It's The Archie Show!

The CW's Riverdale is currently on the air and reinventing the classic Archie cast of characters for a new audience. And while I've yet to catch an episode of the primetime soap, it's definitely been dominating buzz on social media, which in turn got me thinking about the first time America's favorite teenager and his colorful cast of hangers-on first hit the tube, way back in 1968 via a Filmation animated show that aired on CBS. Here's the intro for The Archie Show:

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Diffused Congruence: Baraka Blue

For our latest episode we're pleased to be joined by renowned singer and poet Baraka Blue for a fun and engaging discussion about his journey to Islam, his work in the thriving Muslims arts scene, and a special reading from his latest book, Empty & The Ocean. As always, you can check out the show at the embed below or at this link. As always, send any questions or comments to diffusedcongruence@gmail.com, or at our Facebook page.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Foiled Again

Film & Water Podcast #85: King Kong (1976)

I had the pleasure of joining Rob Kelly, host of the Film & Water Podcast, a few weeks ago for a fun and far-reaching discussion about the 1976 remake of King Kong, which is a nostalgic favorite of mine ever since I first saw it in the mid-80s as a wee one. This one has always come under a bit of fire as being an unworthy heir to the legacy of the 1933 original, but I think there's a lot to admire here and I had a blast singing its praises for forty-some minutes with Rob. Give the show a listen at this link, and if you dig it, please head over to iTunes and hit "subscribe"!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: Kong: Skull Island + Mikaela Hoover on The Belko Experiment and 2 Broke Girls

For our latest episode, the MovieFilm boys go ape for Kong: Skull Island. Listen in as we go deep into a spoiler-filled conversation about the latest attempt to bring the massive monkey to the big screen, this time as part of a "Monster-verse" where he'll eventually cross paths with fellow movie monster Godzilla. Also, hear Zaki's interview with actress Mikaela Hoover about her roles in The Belko Experiment, 2 Broke Girls on CBS, and the upcoming TV series The Guest Book.

In addition, we also unpack the latest headlines out of Hollywood, including a low-key Girl With the Dragon Tattoo sequel on the way minus Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, and David Fincher, and a surpising new director being eyed for Man of Steel 2, plus some more thoughts on last week's blockbuster Logan, and news on the first dialogue we'll hear in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Lots to listen for, and you can hear it all all via the embed below, or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Left Shew Politics Podcast, Vol. 1 / Ep. 8

Click below to check out the latest episode of the Left Shew Politics Podcast, hosted by my friends Rick Shew and Michael Malloy, and featuring a conversation with myself and Pastor Phillip Larsen on the role of religion in politics. Had a really good time with this one despite the fact that I was sick as a dog while doing it. Hope you enjoy it, and if you do, please jump over to iTunes and subscribe!

Nostalgia Theater: Future Cop Edition

We've talked before about what a barren wasteland '70s TV was when it came to sci-fi and fantasy programming, and here's another case in point: Future Cop.

Starring Oscar winner Ernest Borgnine as everyman beat cop Joe Cleaver, the show paired him with with Haven, a human-looking robot played by Michael Shannon (no, not that Michael Shannon), as they went about the workaday business of crime-solving. Not a complicated premise. Future Cop first aired as a TV movie on ABC in May of 1976 before coming back a year later as a weekly (which quickly went away after only six episodes had aired). Here's the series intro:

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Zaki's Review: Kong: Skull Island

King Kong has been a screen icon from the moment he first bestrode the big screen eighty-four years ago, a marvel of high concept imagination and revolutionary stop motion effects technology. So vividly realized a creation was Kong that, from his eponymous 1933 debut to now, there have been six additional offerings starring the giant ape. Some of these have simply re-told the same tale as the original, some have tried to sequelize it, and others have done...something else entirely.

But though the majority of these ended (or, in the case of 1933’s Son of Kong, began) with the big guy stone dead, even that wasn't enough to stop him from being periodically resurrected for another go-round. The most recent such effort was Peter Jackson’s epic-length, megabudget 2005 remake. Coming twenty-nine years after the Dino De Laurentiis produced 1976 King Kong redo (which I will go to my grave defending as an underrated gem), Jackson’s opus clocked in at three-plus hours, and while it may have been a pure labor of love for him, it was just plain laborious for many in the audience.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Come Back, Dave!

An insightful, engaging, hilarious interview by David Marchese over at Vulture really highlights the reality that America needs David Letterman right now far more than he needs us. Read it here.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Nostalgia Theater: King Kong's Cartoon Chronicles!

With this coming week's impending release of Warner Bros.' monster pic Kong: Skull Island, which brings the iconic ape back to the big screen after eleven years, I thought I'd dive into this forgotten artifact from the Kong chronicles. From the moment the original feature film debuted in 1933, King Kong took up permanent residence in the public consciousness, and over the course of several decades of re-releases and TV broadcasts, he grew to hold a special appeal for children.

When you stop to think about it, the idea of a giant furry friend who's also a fearsome protector is pretty irresistible no matter what age you are, but especially when you're used to being puny and misunderstood. As such, it's easy to see why Rankin/Bass Productions (they of the evergreen Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas special) brought the big gorilla to animation via a Saturday morning TV series that debuted on ABC in September of 1966. Here's the intro of The King Kong Show:

Friday, March 03, 2017

The MovieFilm Podcast: Logan, Beauty and the Beast, and More!

Hugh Jackman bids farewell to his beloved big screen alter ego in this weekend's Logan, and the MovieFilm boys are joined by Justin Shanlian of the Shanlian on Batman podcast to discuss our reactions to the much-anticipated X-Men finale. In addition, you can also hear Zaki's thoughts on the upcoming Beauty and the Beast remake from Disney and his interview with director Mark Pellington about his new film The Last Word, in theaters now. Also, we offer our reflections on the sad passing of Bill Paxton, the craziness of last weekend's Oscar show, and our initial reactions to the trailers for Alien: Covenant and Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. There's much more, of course, and you can hear it all all via the embed below, or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

Zaki's Review: Logan

While the quality of the various X-Men entries over the past decade-and-change have varied wildly—tonally, creatively, and qualitatively, what remains undeniable the indelible mark Hugh Jackman made with his entrĂ©e onto the superhero scene. This was so instant a starmaking turn that it not only birthed an entire franchise but also shot some adrenaline into the somnambulant genre in the process. From then to now, there have been two Batmans, three Hulks, three Supermans, three Spider-Mans, two Daredevils, and even two Professor Xs and Magnetos.

But only one Wolverine.

Continue reading at Fandor...

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

A Few Surprises From The Academy Awards

Once the Oscars wrapped up on Sunday night, all anyone could talk about was the shock ending in which the wrong Best Picture winner was announced. Due to some sort of mix-up with the envelope, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway accidentally announced that La La Land had won the night’s top award. It wasn’t until the La La Land folks reached the stage that they realized it was in fact Moonlight that had won Best Picture.

This sort of drama had never occurred before at the Oscars, and it’s only natural that the mistake and ensuing chaos has dominated coverage. It’s also somewhat unfortunate, because the final moments have come to overshadow a tremendous show that recognized a lot of very deserving winners. In order to recognize some of these achievements, here’s a quick recap of some of the interesting results you might not have expected.