Friday, December 30, 2011

Nostalgia Theater: T.J. Hooker Edition

We close out this year's bumper crop of Nostalgia Theater entries with a look back at this 1982-1986 series that proved the enduring star power of Captain Kirk even several hundred light years away from the cozy confines of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

T.J. Hooker was a show about William Shatner as a cop. And that's it. 

Oh, there was some backstory shoved in there about T.J. (Thomas Jefferson) being a detective who returns to the beat and trains recruits, solving crimes and tossing off witty one-liners with his young, hip partner Adrian Zmed and his young, blond partner Heather Locklear, but let's be honest. That was all just window dressing for the show's central conceit: Shatner, Shatner, and more Shatner. I mentioned last week that hourlongs during this era weren't exactly challenging, and this is a good example of how a show could coast through four seasons just by dressing a charismatic star up as a policeman (a similar feat would occur in the '90s with Walker: Texas Ranger -- minus the charisma).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Broken Break

With last week marking all grades and grading completed and submitted from fall semester, I was hoping the additional time in my daily sched would allow for a quick rush of new posts to close out the year strong. Instead, the opposite has turned out to be true. I've found that a) my time isn't quite as plentiful as I'd anticipated, and b) I want to use those few moments I do have to do anything but sit in front of a monitor. I guess that's all a long way of saying that the content here may not be quite as free-flowing in the next few days as we've come to expect. I caught a couple of movies in the last few days I'd still like to get reviews out for before the end of the year, and there's still a few odds-and-ends I need to get to, so let's see how things go.

In the meantime, here's an interesting HuffPo piece by Paul Stoller that echoes the mix of feelings I think many educators like myself experience in this interregnum between our teaching cycles.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Plinkett Cracks Crystal Skull

Pretty much the minute I finished watching Mike Stoklasa's incisive and hilarious feature-length takedown of the last Star Wars prequel at the beginning of the year, my thoughts immediately turned -- as did those of many others -- to wondering whether/when he'd get around to tackling Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a film that engendered at least as much disappointment among many as the prequels. Stoklasa duly obliged me and the rest of the online commentariat late last week, deploying his "Mr. Plinkett" persona once again for an hour-long video commentary on the much-loathed Indy IV.

Unfortunately, in a weird meta commentary on the film itself, the review seems to coast on goodwill from the previous vids, offering some very cogent points and some genuine laughs, but also a little too indulgent with a hint of obviousness. Some of the rationales offered don't really hold up (do we really like Indiana Jones because he murders people?), and I dunno, the stuff about Karen Allen just seems kind of mean. Also unfortunate, the serial killer bits that bugged me before are dialed up to an uncomfortable degree (there's an Olsen Twins riff I could have lived a long, comfortable life without ever needing to see). Still worth checking out, but be ready to skip through the extraneous stuff.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Nostalgia Theater: The Equalizer Edition

My post last Sunday singing the praises of CBS' urban vigilante series Person of Interest got me thinking of another very-similar skein that aired on CBS and enjoyed a decent amount of popularity during its mid-to-late '80s run, but has been mostly forgotten today. The Equalizer starred late British thesp Edward Woodward in the role of Robert McCall, a former intelligence operative (at some nameless agency) who grows disgruntled with the life of a spy and, seeking to make amends for his shadowed past, heads to New York, where he offers his particular skill set (think: Liam Neeson in Taken) to anyone in trouble who needs balance restored to their lives (i.e. "equalized").

Running 1985-'89 and lasting for 88 episodes, The Equalizer arrived at a point in TV history when we really started to see the transition away from more wholesome programs the entire family could conceivably watch (Starsky & Hutch, CHiPs) into series that pushed the boundaries, both in terms of style and content, of what the medium could get away with. In a sense, this is a show, like Miami Vice and Wise Guy and other trailblazers of the era, that forged the path utilized by many of today's dramas, but which has itself been left by the wayside by all but the most pugnacious of '80s devotees (further marking it as an artifact of its time, McCall's son was played by none other than the the decade's go-to bully: William Zabka).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Zaki's Review: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

As I alluded to last week, I got off to bit of a rocky start with the Mission: Impossible movie series, with my initial outrage at how the first film in 1996 blowtorched the legacy of the TV show whose name it appropriated turning to apathy at how little of its name the 2000 sequel managed to embody. Thus, it really wasn't until 2006 and director JJ Abrams' Mission: Impossible III that I was willing to board the Tom Cruise-starring spy franchise, appreciating how it modernized key facets of its brand while preserving those things that made it unique (a maneuver Abrams repeated three years later with his canny Star Trek restart).

Sadly, despite marking a considerable qualitative step up, that third Mission underperformed in relation to its two predecessors, and so, when it came time to embark on the fourth installment (which dispenses with Roman numerals in favor of a sub-head -- the cinematic equivalent of fudging your birthdate to seem younger), the mission placed in front of studio and star was to convince audiences that this fifteen-year old series still had something fresh to offer, and that Cruise could still put butts in seats even after a stream of bad publicity over the years accumulated like barnacles on his once-spotless superstar bona fides.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Zaki's Review:
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

The business of franchise-building is never easy.

When all the hard work and sweat of crafting a solid enough first installment to warrant a sequel finally pays off -- as it did both critically and commercially for Warner Bros.' Sherlock Holmes reboot in '09 -- the filmmakers inevitably find themselves at a crossroads, having to determine whether the next entry should go deeper, plying the audience's investment in the characters and setting to mine more potent thematic and emotional ground, or broader, with surface characteristics they responded to previously accentuated and amplified. For this series' second try, A Game of Shadows, some modest attempt is made for the former, but it's mostly content to remain the latter. I suspect one's enjoyment of the proceedings will depend greatly on how comfortable they are with that apportioning.

Monday, December 19, 2011

New Details, New Trailer For New Dark Knight

While dissecting the very cool teaser poster for The Dark Knight Rises last week, I noted that its image bore some resemblance to a similarly iconic comic book moment that ended with the Batman's back broken, and wondered whether that's where this movie was headed. Well, today we have what amounts to tacit confirmation of my conjecture via Bleeding Cool, conveying the word of one "well tried and certainly trusted individual" purporting to have the inside scoop:
...we’ve been told – amongst a few other things that we hope to make sense of and share in the near future – that The Dark Knight Rises gives Bane the opportunity to break Batman’s back...Our source cracked wise about the various “rumours” surrounding Bane in the film, expressing some amount of disbelief that people thought the back-breaking might, somehow, not be featured.
Time will only tell if this is smoke and fire, or smoke and mirrors. In the meantime though, check out the first full trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, which gives us our first sense of the ideological conflict that pulls the Batman back into the center of the action after several years in exile (Hi, Anne Hathaway!), as well offering a sense of the size and scope of what's planned for this trilogy's last at-Bat. This was a pleasant surprise in front of Mission: Impossible last week, and I'm sure you'll agree that it does its job well:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Interesting Person

If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that one of the new TV shows I've wholeheartedly embraced this past fall season has been CBS' Person of Interest. The twisty premise of the skein, produced by JJ Abrams and created by Dark Knight co-writer Jonathan Nolan (brother of Christopher), hinges on a mysterious computer outputting a single social security number every week that's connected to some unknown crime that is likely to occur in the near future. The number represents either a perpetrator or a victim, and it's up to the vigilante duo of The Passion's Jim Caviezel (the brawn) and Lost's Micheal Emerson (the brains), to follow the clues and prevent said crime from happening.

If that description sounds either perplexing or simply uninteresting, I can't say I blame you. In truth, it's one of those premises that risks falling all over itself by being too-clever by half. The brilliance of the show, however, lies in how it takes that conceit and repurposes it into the latticework upon which to hang what is one of the more involving, cerebral techno thrillers to emerge in quite awhile. More than that, it's essentially a superhero series in disguise, with Caviezel, as mysterious, ass-kicking former Special Ops agent John Reese, the "Batman" of this diad, and Emerson, enigmatic genius Harold Finch, the "Alfred" directing traffic from behind an array of digital display screens. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Nostalgia Theater:
Mission: Impossible Edition

Peter Graves, flanked by (L-R) Greg Morris, Leonard Nimoy, and Peter Lupus
I caught a screening of the new Mission: Impossible movie earlier today, and hope to have a review up shortly, but in the meantime, I wanted to use this Nostalgia Theater entry to take a fond look back at the TV show that got the whole brand rolling. A unique merger of the spy genre that had exploded in popularity in the post-Bond '60s with the tried-and-true procedurals that were fixtures of the primetime landscape even then, Mission: Impossible, created by Bruce Geller, premiered on CBS in 1966 and ran for seven seasons.

Although it initially starred Steven Hill as no-nonsense "Impossible Missions Force" leader Dan Briggs during the first season, it really wasn't until the late Peter Graves took over the lead in year two, as slick, silver-haired Jim Phelps that Mission: Impossible gained itself a signature star who, together with Lalo Schifrin's signature theme music, helped give the show much of the iconic resonance it retains to this day. Here's the intro from one of the second season episodes:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A New Lowe

Serving as the perfect punctuation point to my last post, here's Jon Stewart and The Daily Show's take on the Lowe's/All-American Muslim non-controversy, with the show's resident Muslim correspondent Aasif Mandvi offering some helpful context:

All-American Muslim Not Worth The Fuss

Remember the overheated bloviating last year about Park51 (a.k.a. the "Ground Zero Mosque")? Nearly all of 2011 had passed without a similar Muslim-related controversy du jour to take up media bandwidth, but based on the last few days, it looks like one has manifested just in time to beat the buzzer with reality series All-American Muslim. I watched the first episode of the skein -- chronicling the day-to-day struggle of some Muslim families in Dearborn, MI -- when it aired last month, and it didn't really do anything for me, so I didn't bother commenting on it (though a quote from me did make into this post by Zahid Lilani).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

G.I. Joe 2 Looks Great

Holy crap, how the heck did this happen?

As you know, I wasn't a big fan of 2009's movie, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, so I was extremely wary when a sequel was announced. That initial skepticism turned to optimism, however, when Zombieland writers Paul Wernick & Rhett Reese were drafted to craft the script, followed immediately by more skepticism when it looked like director Stephen Sommers would return. This turned back into optimism when Sommers exited, and then skepticism again when director Jon Chu -- he of several dance movies and that Justin Bieber flick from earlier this year -- was announced as the project's new helmer. So, that's pretty much where we'd left things as of last February.

Well, that calculus changed somewhat yesterday, thanks to the first teaser trailer for the follow-up feature, G.I. Joe: Retaliation. With most of the original cast jettisoned, and returning stars Channing Tatum and Ray Park teaming with the Rock and Bruce Willis for what amounts to an "in-continuity" reboot, I have to admit to being very pleasantly surprised by what I see so far. The set pieces are grandiose without being over-the-top, same with the stuntwork, and they've nailed down an even more impressive cast. Did I mention Bruce Willis? I'm not ready to file this one in the "win" column just yet, but given how much ill will there was going in, the fact that they've put out a decent trailer is practically half the battle.

Check out the new vid after the jump and tell me if it's got you sold:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Broken Bat

Things were quiet for awhile, but the promo machine has now begun to gear up for The Dark Knight Rises, as we start the countdown clock for its highly-anticipated release next summer. There's this week's release of the film's prologue in front of select IMAX screenings of the new Mission: Impossible movie, and there's also the new, very sweet teaser poster showcasing lead baddie Bane, played by Tom Hardy.
(Click the pic for a crazy big version)

In addition to being an effective, iconic image in its own right, the poster also gets some mileage by calling back to a signature moment from Bane's debut storyline, the early-'90s Knightfall epic, wherein the brilliant, steroid-enhanced villain orchestrated a weeks-long psychological and physical campaign against Batman that culminated in his breaking the hero's back (he got better, natch). Not sure if that's where Christopher Nolan is going with this trilogy-capper, but it sure does evoke that same imagery, as seen below.

1000!

Time once more to mark another meaningless Internet milestone -- though as meaningless milestones go, this one is slightly more meaningful than most. That's right, I've hit 1000 followers for this site via Networked Blogs. The last few years have been very good to me in terms of the personal and professional dividends this site has reaped, whether we're talking about my Huffington Post work or Geek Wisdom, but knowing there's four digits worth of folks out there who find value in my brain droppings is the biggest ego boost I could ask for. Thanks again to everyone who'se been reading, enjoying, and spreading the word over the years. Here's to more big things in the near and far future.

Let's make sure we preserve this moment for posterity:

Exactly nine months ago, I said I'd bust out the confetti and streamers when we hit a grand, but I can't think of a better way to mark this momentous occasion than by watching a cartoon George C. Scott get hit in the groin with a football:

Friday, December 09, 2011

Nostalgia Theater: Animated Apes Edition

In the lead-up to the theatrical release of Rise of the Planet of the Apes last August, I spent a week's worth of posts taking a fond walk back through the misty history of the original Apes film and its many theatrical offspring, but I only briefly touched on the ways those damn, dirty apes made their mark on the small screen. Well, with Rise making its home vid debut come Tuesday, this installment of Nostalgia Theater offered the perfect opportunity to re-revisit one of those selfsame small screen excursions.

By 1975, Planet of the Apes' time as a dominant force in pop culture was beginning to wane. The movie series had wrapped two years prior, and while a live action show premiered with a lot of hype behind it the previous fall, a combination of unambitious stories and overambitious scheduling doomed the series -- starring Apes movie icon Roddy McDowall -- to a here-and-gone 14 episode run. Still, though the primetime version died a quick death on CBS, that didn't dissuade NBC from taking another shot, this time in cartoon form. Thus was born the final entry in the original Apes onslaught: Return to the Planet of the Apes.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Recommended Reading

Last month, Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson dug deep into the whys-and-wherefores behind the Republican Party's slow, steady metamorphosis into primarily representing the interests of the country's wealthiest few (though, just to be fair, it's not like the Dems are slouches in this area themselves). Now, Dickinson is back with another exhaustive treatise, this time casting his eye on the key issues that have, thanks to the demands of base voters for ideological purity, crystallized as the new Republican platform -- in the process buoying President Obama's reelection prospects considerably. There's too much meat in this one for me to pull just one highlight, so just jump over here and read the whole thing.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Green Felt, Red Scare

I had some fun yesterday with the outrage in some far right circles over the Muppets' supposed furtherance of a sinister, secret agenda of Communist indoctrination of our kiddies. As it turns out, though, I may just have backed the wrong horse on this one. Based on this clip from his show last night, it sure looks like Conan O'Brien has found the smoking gun of Marxist Muppetry:

From The Onion...

This is funny until you realize just how true it is, then it just becomes sad.
In Major Gaffe, Obama Forgets To Dumb It Down 
CINCINNATI—In a serious miscalculation that may prove devastating to his bid for a second term, President Barack Obama neglected Tuesday to simplify a statement to the point where it could readily be grasped by anyone with the vocabulary of an 8-year-old. "Instead of saying, 'There are many global variables at work here, and unless they all fall into place, we could find ourselves back in a recession,' he should have just said, 'Times are hard. We gotta be strong,'" said Washington Post political correspondent Brian Meltzer, noting that Obama's statement during a speech on job creation was met with dumbfounded looks and audible gasps from the crowd. "Americans are so used to meaningless homespun homilies, they don't know what to do when they're treated like thinking adults. The president has to understand that if he goes out there throwing around words like 'currency' and 'economy,' he'll end up being branded an elitist." In an attempt to correct the error, Obama concluded his speech with the words "Jobs good. No jobs bad. God bless America."

Captain Power Comes to DVD

Last April, I posted a Nostalgia Theater entry wherein I waxed fondly about a piece of forgotten '80s kidvid called Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, and mentioned that an official release appeared to be in the offing sometime soon (with the news breaking almost immediately after I dropped twenty-five bucks on a bootleg. There's a lesson in there somewhere....)

Anyway, that day is now upon us, with today marking the DVD debut of the series in a spiffy set with a barrel full of of all-new features. Aside from the show finally getting its due in platter form, it's been especially cool for me to see the wave of renewed attention and reminiscences it's prompted, such as this piece by Zach Smith that echoes so many of my thoughts about the show and its era. Says he:

Monday, December 05, 2011

Not Easy Being Green

I took my two oldest kids to see Disney's new Muppets movie yesterday, and we all had a grand old time. They laughed, they smiled, they sang. It was fun for them, nostalgic for me. Ah, but little did I realize that what I was actually doing was unwittingly subjecting my kids to the latest Communist scheme by Big Hollywood to turn our wee ones into unwitting peons of the Proletariat. Yep, it's true.

That's the word, anyway, from Dan Gainor, repping the Media Research Center (a conservative thinktank, natch), in conversation with Fox Business Channel's Eric Bolling (who I have to say has made a pretty good showing this year of out Glenn Beck-ing Glenn Beck). According to Gainor, it's pretty easy to draw a straight line between Kermit the Frog and the "Occupy" movement:

Political Realities

From this past weekend's SNL. Fred Armisen's Obama impression is still pretty bad, but the underlying message is the very embodiment of "funny because it's true."

Friday, December 02, 2011

Nostalgia Theater: The Fugitive Edition


Picking up from last time's conversation about TV shows that have been turned into movies then turned back into TV shows, here's another strong entry in that particular programming niche that also came and went before its time. Beginning its life in the 1960s as the brainchild of creator Roy Huggins and producer Quinn Martin, The Fugitive was that most archetypal of "quest" series, with its deceptively simple premise -- a falsely accused man on the run from the authorities, desperate to track down the key to proving his innocence -- serving as the thematic template for countless others that followed in its wake (Kung Fu being one example, and TV's Incredible Hulk another).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Smallville - The Complete Series: Myth, Metaphor, and the Man of Steel

I thought I'd said everything I needed to say about Smallville in May when discussing the series' long-in-coming finale, but after spending most of the last week digging into the complete series set containing all ten seasons of the proto-Superman skein I'm struck by how, despite the many, many concerns I've voiced with the series' sloppy storytelling techniques and narrative cul-de-sacs throughout its run, none of that particularly mattered to me. Instead, we're left with the towering achievement of the series itself: 218 episodes of a series that stayed aloft for an entire decade when its whole raison d'être was pointedly about not being aloft, and which can now be viewed not as piecemeal distillates of a tale that may or may not reach its fruition, but instead one long story with a specific beginning, middle, and end, demonstrating the power of this character to reinvent himself for every generation.

Monday, November 28, 2011

"Conscious Cynicism"

Anyone who's been following the Republican primary process this electoral go-round knows that it's taken on the characteristics of a slow motion car crash, with bets being placed prior to every debate whether one of the candidates or the audience will deliver the most cringe-inducing viral video moment. As he's been doing evermore frequently of late, David Frum (one of my favorite sensible conservatives), again ponders the question of what happened to the Republican party in a lengthy new piece for New York magazine. Taking aim at the essential intellectual disconnect at the heart of current conservative orthodoxy, he says:
Some liberals suspect that the conservative changes of mind since 2008 are opportunistic and cynical. It’s true that cynicism is never entirely absent from politics: I won’t soon forget the lupine smile that played about the lips of the leader of one prominent conservative institution as he told me, “Our donors truly think the apocalypse has arrived.” Yet conscious cynicism is much rarer than you might suppose. Few of us have the self-knowledge and emotional discipline to say one thing while meaning another. If we say something often enough, we come to believe it. We don’t usually delude others until after we have first deluded ourselves.  

Recommended Reading

Dean Obeidallah breaks down the whys-and-wherefores of how an 18 year old high school student's Twitter diss of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback morphed into a national story thanks to the governor's thin skin. I'm sure the folks in KS are pleased at how their tax dollars are being dispatched.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Frank Miller and the Conan Doctrine

We've been having some fun (okay, a lot of fun) with comic creator Frank Miller lately, what with his rampant Islamophobia and his hilarious, Walt Kowalski-esque response to Occupy Wall Street. But two pieces I read recently -- one about Miller and one not -- unintentionally piggybacked off one another to help paint a very revealing portrait of the Manichean views that drive Miller and his ideological fellow travelers, and also how such thinking has hogtied the Republican primary process thanks to the expectations of today's GOP voters.

In digging into Miller's Occupy comments, Rick Moody at The Guardian argues (as I and others have previously) that anyone who's taken a real look at Miller's work over the years shouldn't be too surprised by their viciousness, nor the fact that he made them. Moody then goes one further and argues that the entire machinery of mainstream filmmaking (here in the States, anyway) is geared towards fostering and perpetuating similar such simplistic appraisals of complex issues:

Friday, November 25, 2011

Nostalgia Theater: The Untouchables Edition

One of the most valuable currencies in Hollywood is the power of brand recognition. This is at least partially to blame for the long-lived trend of taking old TV shows and turning them into feature films. Pre-existing awareness of a title means that much less time the studio has to spend fostering said awareness from the ground up. Of course, the brand itself doesn't mean anything if what we end up with is no good, which is why, for every flick like Maverick or The A-Team that takes its premise and really does something fun and engaging, we get forgettable crap like The Dukes of Hazzard and Wild Wild West.

Another trend we've seen, albeit less frequently, is when a TV property is translated to film, then subsequently reverse-engineered back to the small screen. The most recent example of this phenomenon is ABC's Charlie's Angels reboot this fall (developed by Smallville's Al Gough and Miles Millar), which has the distinction of being the first casualty of the 2011 season. But rather than spend this "Nostalgia Theater" mocking also-rans, I wanted to look at an entry in the TV-movie-TV sub-subgenre that grabbed ahold of the ball and ran with it creatively (though not so much commercially -- we'll get to that in a second): the 1990s revival of The Untouchables.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fowl Play

A few days ago, anti-Muslim nutbar Pamela Geller blazed a new trail in her never-ending battle against truth, justice, and the American way by assailing the Butterball company's complicity in "stealth jihad" for selling halal-certified turkeys (prepared according to Islamic standards) just in time for Thanksgiving (duh-duh-DAH). Muslims: Conquering America one turkey at a time.

In the spirit of the day though, I really am thankful for people like Geller who are so out-and-proud with their stupidity, because they offer an immediate gut-check for all the rest of us over here in "Sane-ville" to know how not to be. And that can't help but be a good thing. So keep on truckin', Pam! Anyway, check out Geller's lunatic screed for all the unintentional hilarity, then read Wajahat Ali's response for humor of the intentional variety.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Recommended Reading

Tim O'Neil, whose excellent blog "The Hurting" I've enjoyed for many years now, reacts to the recent, horrifying spectacle of protesting students being pepper-sprayed in the face at UC Davis and turns it into a broader, lengthier reflection on poverty, capitalism, and the loss of hope both can engender that's well worth your time.

Cavill on the Cape

I spent some time a few weeks back engaging in a bit of armchair psychoanalysis vis-a-vis the Clark Kent-Superman dichotomy in a piece that appeared both here and at The Huffington Post, and it's a subject I expect to dig into a bit further when I take a look at the upcoming Smallville complete series set next week.

In the meantime though, Geoff Boucher at "Hero Complex" chatted up incoming big screen Superman Henry Cavill about that very subject while the actor was promoting his currently-in-theaters Immortals. Although Cavill understandably plays coy, he still manages to give some insight into how he views the character(s) and his approache to the material. Click past the jump for some highlights:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just Being Frank

When comic writer/artist Frank Miller let fly his criticism of the Occupy movement a few weeks back, it seemed to split the web in half, with comic professionals and others quickly chiming in with posts expressing either "right on" or "wrong-o" sentiments. Between the Occupy thing and the anti-Muslim thing, I've gotten quite a bit of mileage out of assailing Miller's crackpottery of late, but Colin Smith -- whose excellent blog "Too Busy Thinking About My Comics" has become a regular read for me thanks to his scholarly insights on the funnybook form -- goes further than most by really digging into Miller's oeuvre and tracking the metamorphosis of his views from The Dark Knight Returns in the '80s to his current output. It's a fascinating analysis that paints Miller's political (mental?) descent in stark, vivid terms.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Super Bad

In the wake of the long-winded, unnecessary debt ceiling fight last summer, it's now looking like the so-called "Super Committee" tasked with crafting substantive deficit reduction measures in its aftermath is barreling straight towards an admission of failure/defeat come their agreed-upon deadline this coming Wednesday. This failure is then set to trigger substantial cuts in defense and Medicare spending (on the order of $1.2 billion annually) come 2013. That trigger -- whose consequences have the potential to be absolutely catastrophic to both areas of expense, and the economy as a whole -- was supposed to be a "fear of God" mechanism that would keep the committee's membership (from both sides of the aisle) on task, but apparently even that wasn't enough to overcome the toxic atmosphere of partisan CYA that pervades Washington these days. This might sound like it's a bad thing, but as Paul Krugman explains, maybe not.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nostalgia Theater: Automan Edition

We turn the "Nostalgia Theater" spotlight this week on a true time capsule of the early '80s -- with all that implies -- courtesy of legendary schlock TV purveyor Glen A. Larson. Inspired by the Tron's then-groundbreaking visual effects technology upon that film's 1982 release, Larson, creator of the original Battlestar Galactica and the original Knight Rider, dreamed up a superhero series the following year that could draw in the same throngs that were captivated by the Disney film

The big miscalculation, of course, was that there were no throngs captivated by Tron, and so the end result was Automan, starring Desi Arnaz, Jr. (whose career I don't think ever recovered from this) and Chuck Wagner as nebbishy computer programmer and high tech superhero, respectively. I could try to sum up the ludicrous idiocy of this thing for you, but I'll make it easier on myself by just having you check out this intro from the pilot, which seems to assume everyone in the audience is the dumbest person on Earth:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Occupy Gotham

Tying in tangentially with my Batman-Occupy post from Sunday (now up at HuffPo), here's a vid that asks the Dark Knight to put his money where his mouth is:

From The Onion...

With Newtie's recent emergence at the top of GOP polls, this one from last March seemed especially apt:
Even Newt Gingrich A Little Depressed By Prospect Of Him Running For President
One highlight:
While confirming his ardent desire to be president, the former Speaker of the House told reporters the mere fact that American voters were seriously considering Newt Gingrich to be a viable Republican candidate in 2012 was a fairly distressing development that made him question the direction the country was moving in. 
It's funny because it's true. Read the rest here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Brain Freeze

Governor Rick Perry's debate meltdown last week -- wherein he simply could not bring himself to remember which government agency he'd eliminate as president -- carried a shockwave so destructive to his candidacy that it actually travelled back in time and retroactively dubbed Howard Dean's yell from '04 as his "Rick Perry Moment."  Pretty much as soon as the Perry flub occurred, I think all eyes immediately turned towards Saturday Night Live to see how the veteran sketchcom would make sport of it, and they didn't disappoint this past weekend.

The Republican primary process this go-round has been especially bountiful for the show, gifting its writers with a prefab cadre of caricatures who've already done most of the heavy lifting comedy-wise before they even arrive at the scene, and the "oops" heard 'round the world helped make for an all-time great in the already-impressive canon of SNL debate parodies. My favorite bit comes when, after several uncomfortable seconds of Bill Hader's Perry flailing and fumbling, Jason Sudeikis as Mitt Romney pleads with the moderators to ease off: "I want to be president, but not like this."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Occupy: What Would Batman Do?

I spoke my piece about the disturbing worldview of comic artist Frank Miller a month ago after his graphic novel Holy Terror -- a celebration of bigotry dressed up as a celebration of patriotism -- hit the shelves, and I was happy to let it be at that. But then he went and chimed in on the "Occupy" protests that have been multiplying all over the place, and, well, I just had to wade back into the deep end of the crazy pool. From Miller's blog early last week (with hat-tip to Bleeding Cool for pointing me there):

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Shades of Black

A couple of days ago I was having a conversation with a friend wherein I contrasted the apparent disparity between the wholehearted embrace that's greeted Herman Cain by (some on) the right with the abject disgust these same folks hold for Barack Obama. Far more than disagreement with his policies (which I myself have no shortage of, just to be clear), the venom expressed toward the latter crosses over into the questioning of his very legitimacy -- as both the president and as an American -- and this illegitimacy is couched in any number of blind alleys such as Birtherism, Socialism, or what-have-you.

What's more perplexing, from the perspective of strict conservative dogma if nothing else, is that Obama has seemingly done everything "right" to succeed (insofar as we define succes in our society). Academically, personally, and politically, he's excelled by keeping his nose clean and pressed tightly to the grindstone. But then, per the en vogue invective of right wing opinion-shapers like Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh, all that is simply not good enough, and never will be. Given a comparison between Obama and an economically uninformed, socially maladroit, and politically underwhelming candidate whose character, in the face of recent news, is at least in question, Cain nonetheless remains the clear choice for conservatives.

Why? Because, per Coulter, "our blacks are better than their blacks."

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Heavyweight Herman

Mike Tyson channels Herman Cain, via Funny or Die. Funny stuff, for sure, but when Iron Mike starts dinging anyone else for their perceived batcrap craziness, you really know we've crossed over into the Looking-Glass world.

HIGHLY Recommended Reading

Tim Dickinson has an exhaustive treatise up at Rolling Stone that's well worth your time, examining the steady transformation of the GOP over the last several decades into a party that stands, first, foremost, and steadfastly for that 1% people are so exorcised about lately. As instructive as it is alarming, one thing that becomes clear upon reading the piece is how the ideological zealotry of Grover Norquist and the policy machinations of Dick Cheney are just two cogs in a political machine-works that almost single-handedly drop-kicked our economy into the sun.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Another Interview With Me

I meant to post this last week, but better late than never, right? I recently chatted with Illume Magazine's Irfan Rydhan about Geek Wisdom, geek culture, and my role in both. Click over here to read what I had to say.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Menace of Nostalgia

When I talked about the impending 3D re-release of Star Wars: Episode I a few weeks ago, my dislike of the film couldn't help but color my "blah" reaction to the poster, and that dislike has colored my reaction to the reissue's trailer as well:

 

I was actually kind of surprised by my apathetic response to this vid considering how clearly the promo whizzes at Team Lucas are going for the same nostalgic jugular the Star Wars Special Edition trailer attacked when it first hit in fall of '96, right down to using some of the same iconography:

Friday, November 04, 2011

Second Class

In other news for Fox prequels, there's movement this morning on a follow-up to this summer's X-Men: First Class, which has had its fortunes linked with Rise of the Planet of the Apes since both films were rushed into production in summer of 2010. With Rise's sequel rumblings now beginning, it wasn't long until they started for the new Class, and writer Simon Kinberg has been drafted to craft the next story for the Marvel mutants' pre-franchise. No word on the timeframe we can expect the sequel in, what its storyline would be, or who else is involved, but as to Kinberg, I'm a little wary because of his role as one of the writers on 2006's abysmal X-Men: The Last Stand. Then again, he also wrote Sherlock Holmes, which I enjoyed quite a bit.

That said, I've watched First Class several times since my initial positive review, and while I'd hate to see it sullied by an unworthy second installment, I'm willing to give this one a little bit more rope given that the exemplary cast, headlined by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, are already signed, and director Matthew Vaughn seems like he'd be onboard as well, even spitballing ideas for the sequel around the time First Class was released. With Hugh Jackman's The Wolverine sequel still in the development pipeline with a new director and new release date, it sure looks like Fox intends to get the most out of the X-Men movie rights they've got an iron grip on. Here's hoping they've learned from the franchise's prior missteps.

Apes Sequel Rises

When I spoke with Rise of the Planet of the Apes writers/producers Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver last August, the pair was coy about sequel possibilities for Fox's prequel/reboot project, saying no serious discussions had taken place on the subject. Well, the notion of sequelizing Rise took a big a step forward from abstract concept to concrete reality with word of star Andy Serkis, whose motion-captured performance as lead chimp Caesar is the unquestionable centerpiece of the film, signing on for one or more sequels in a deal that will net the Once and Future Gollum a cool seven figures. Also locked in are director Rupert Wyatt and Jaffa & Silver. Notably not locked in are human stars James Franco and Freida Pinto (which, assuming they won't be back, makes me wonder why they didn't just stick with the original ending after all).

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Secret Identity Crisis

Whether we're talking about TV shows, movies, or red underoos, there's no shortage of Superman posts on this site, and I think a big reason why I continue to find the character so interesting is his role as a kind of cultural arbiter in our society, with an elastic appeal that makes him ripe for reinvention generation after generation. One of the most important aspects of this appeal -- and also of these reinventions -- is the ongoing tug-of-war, both textual and meta-textual, between his twin roles as "mild mannered reporter" and "strange visitor from another planet."

Unlike DC Comics counterpart Batman, whose "millionaire playboy" act has long been accepted as a public front in service of the masked vigilante, the question of whether Clark Kent or Superman is the "real" persona (bearing in mind, of course, that these are all imaginary stories -- but then, aren't they all?) has remained unsettled for decades, with the answer dependent almost entirely upon which portrayal or which era one chooses to focus on.

The Cain Scrutiny

As longtime followers of this site know, I've had issues with Herman Cain since practically the moment he entered the presidential field. Between his belligerent statements about Islam & Muslims and his stunning -- even by current GOP standards -- ignorance about current global and political realities, we're left with a very unflattering portrait of a candidate who has, improbably yet predictably enough, ridden the Tea Party wave of conservative dogmatism straight to the top of the Republican field. How long the Cain surge lasts is something only the next few weeks will tell, but the road to the nomination got that much harder when word surfaced of prior sexual misconduct by the candidate two decades ago during his time as head of the National Restaurants Association.

The resulting round robin of media discussion quickly gave rise to the talking point on the right that Cain was being attacked because of his race and his conservatism, and not because he's a politician and a frontrunner, and because sex always sells (see: Clinton, Bill). This in turn led to a rash of comical "so racist they don't even realize how racist they are" screeds from usual suspects like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, but the zenith/nadir was surely a video rant posted by noted Birther/attention-seeker Donald Trump yesterday, wherein he took Jon Stewart to task for his racism in making light of the Cain situation on The Daily Show. I tweeted my incredulity at Trump's dissonance-inducing video yesterday, and I figured it was a jump ball as to whether Stewart would address it on his show last night. Luckily for us, he did, and you can check out the embed after the jump.

James Bond Will Return In...

Nearly a year since we got word that the twenty-third 007 movie adventure was back from its bankruptcy-induced slumber (and almost three years since the character's last go-round), a press avail by EON Productions early this morning featuring Bond producers Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccolli alongwith star Daniel Craig and new director Same Mendes marked the official unveiling of the film's long-rumored title and long-rumored, very impressive supporting cast. Jump over to Empire for the full blow-by-blow.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Cracked Logic

One of the cornerstones of this site over the years has been my absolute befuddlement at how canards such as the Ground Zero Mosque or Birtherism or death panels continue to get oxygen even after they've been undermined -- seemingly definitively -- again and again by simple, easily obtained facts. We saw a small example of this phenomenon last week with a hilarious/depressing segment on The Daily Show that lampooned the current anti-science gauntlet that the far right/Tea Party crowd is making its politicos advance through in order to pass presidential muster. If this phenomenon has you feeling a mite perplexed at at people's continued credulity even in the face of verifiable evidence, riding to the rescue come the fine folks at Cracked with their brilliant countdown of "5 Logical Fallacies That Make You Wrong More Than You Think," which offers some insights into the mentalities and pathologies that drive not only the anti-science crowd, but all the rest of us too.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

New Interview With Me

Last summer I was a participant in an online conference entitled "Islam in the Age of New Media," formatted as "60 speeches in 60 minutes," with a diverse array of speakers from across the Muslim media spectrum holding forth about what role Muslims can play in the age of Web 2.0. In addition to myself, other speakers included Reza Aslan, Asma Uddin, Wajahat Ali, and my cousin Shazia Kamal. You can sign up for a free download of the seminar here (my bit comes at the very, very end).

With the first phase of the conference going quite well, the program's organizer, Amir Ahmad Nasr, contacted me earlier this month about having a more in-depth discussion as a way of unpacking and illuminating some of the concepts I brought up in those 60 seconds. We spoke last week, and the video of that convo is now up, which you can check out via the embed below. It's about twenty minutes in length, but I think we got to go both deep and wide on a pretty broad range of issues and, at the risk of sounding immodest, I definitely think it's worth a watch.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Nostalgia Theater: Fake Ghostbusters Edition

I was finally able to catch the original Ghostbusters flick last night at the very tail end of its re-release (which I previously mentioned here), and with that experience still fresh in my rearview, plus Halloween coming up on Sunday, this one seemed an appropriate pick for this week's NT. When Ghostbusters became a huge theatrical hit in 1984, home studio Columbia Pictures began development almost immediately (as was the custom at the time) on a tie-in animated show. But this isn't about that. No, today we're going to talk about the other Ghostbusters.

Here's the backstory: In 1975, Filmation, one of the preeminent sources of TV kidvid from the '60s into the '80s, had produced a live action Saturday morning show called The Ghost Busters, which starred F-Troop's Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch (along with a guy in a monkey suit) as a team of hapless, well, Ghost Busters. The show came and went inside of 15 episodes, and that would have been that, except for Columbia licensing the name for their completely unrelated movie, and its subsequent success suddenly making the title (if not the property) very valuable. Here's the intro:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thinkin' 'Bout My Generation

I was reading an article recently -- I forget which, otherwise I'd post the link -- about the differences between how Generation X (folks born between the early '60s and the late-'70s) and the so-called Millenials (people born from the mid-'80s through the mid-'90s) view the world and their future prospects.

As I read up on the markers denoting the two demos, I realized I'd somehow fallen between the cracks of cultural currency -- neither old enough to have any special affinity for Lee Majors and Sonny & Cher, nor young enough to feel nostalgia for Power Rangers and Pokémon. Given the weird generational void I found myself stuck in, I was heartened to read this reflection by Doree Shafrir that sums up where my fellow 'tweeners and I appear to sit:
I was born during Jimmy Carter's presidency, a one-term administration remembered mostly for the Iran hostage crisis, the New York City blackout, and stagflation. The Carter babies—anyone born between his inauguration in January 1977 and Reagan's in January 1981—are now 30 to 34, and, like Carter himself, the weirdly brilliant yet deeply weird born-again Christian peanut farmer, this micro-generation is hard to pin down. We identify with some of Gen X's cynicism and suspicion of authority—watching Pee-Wee Herman proclaim, "I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel," will do that to a kid—but we were too young to claim Singles and Reality Bites and Slacker as our own (though that didn't stop me from buying the soundtracks). And, while the proud alienation of the Gen X worldview doesn't totally sit right, we certainly don't yearn for the Organization Man-like conformity that the Millennials seem to crave.
Yep, that's pretty much me. She goes on to highlight why we feel the need to categorize generationally at all, which also rings very true:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why Real Steel Works

I caught Real Steel during its opening weekend a few weeks back, enjoyed it tremendously, and was trying like heck to get a write-up posted here, but time constraints and professional commitments conspired to keep that review out of reach juuuust long enough for it to slip off my radar until now, much to my regret. Suffice it to say, when I first saw the trailer for the robot boxing flick last summer, I had the same "WTF? Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots: The Movie?" reaction I'm guessing most people did, but I was nonetheless lured into the theater by initial positive word of mouth, and in the end I was blown away by how effective and surprisingly emotional it ended up being.

When you stop and think about it, this story of a deadbeat dad, a precocious youngster, and the robot that brings them both together, really shouldn't have worked. At all. I mean, the premise alone makes it sounds like Over the Top with metal men instead of arm wrestling. But more than merely reminding us yet again why lead Hugh Jackman has legitimate acting and star chops, the film, loosely adapted from the Richard Matheson short story "Steel" (which itself previously came to the screen via an episode of The Twilight Zone in the '50s), also demonstrates the peculiar kind of magic that can happen when actual thought is put into making a movie "work" beyond just its opening weekend (are you listening, Michael Bay?)

We get some insight into how deep this thought process went in a brief interview between Brendon Connelly and Steel director Shawn Levy, whose filmography thus far -- composed almost entirely of light, disposable family fare -- prepared me not at all for the immensely satisfying moviegoing experience that would follow. Levy's dissection of how the main robot, Atom, was to be portrayed, and how that impacted the world of the film, tells me that the director is ready for something bigger and better than more Night at the Museum sequels. What lies past the break is all spoilers, so if you haven't seen Real Steel yet, just take my word and watch it first, then read on.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Nostalgia Theater: Captain America Edition

Note: I'm working on being more regular with these "Nostalgia Theater" installments and having them good to go every Friday, so bear with me while I get some kind of a system going.

Captain America: The First Avenger hits home video this Tuesday on the heels of its very successful theatrical run last summer, and while the Joe Johnston-directed, Chris Evans-starrer made the notion of bringing Marvel's patriotic hero to the screen seem like a no-brainer, especially in this age of dime-a-dozen cinematic superheroes, there was a time when the pickings were mighty slim if you were looking for a successful comics-to-film translation for the Star-Spangled Avenger.

Although the character's first turn on the big screen came in the form of a Republic movie serial from 1944, the first live action Cap I was ever exposed to came via two 1979 made-for-TV movies/backdoor pilots, which saw a short, notable wave of Marvel-inspired telefilms following the success of the Incredible Hulk TV series on CBS. Of this batch, Spider-Man got himself a short-lived show (which I hope to talk about one of these days), but Cap never made it past two trial runs, and given what lies after the jump, it's probably not hard to see why.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Street People

Last night's Daily Show nicely encapsulated the intellectual divide I'm currently experiencing over the Occupy Wall Street movement. On the one hand, Jon Stewart bullseyed the whiplash-inducing hypocrisy of those who are criticizing the protests...


...and then, after the jump, John Oliver nailed what's bugging me about the protests themselves.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Community Minded

As you already know if you follow my Twitter feed, one of my fave shows right now is Community, NBC's skewed take on the community college experience (which, it's worth pointing out, is nothing like the actual community college experience.) While it's yet to find the mainstream acceptance of an Office or even, God help us, a Two and a Half Men, the show, created and exec produced by Dan Harmon, has nonetheless managed to skate to its third season thanks to a small-but-loyal group of fans who've embraced the quirky comedy's ability to push, pull, and stretch the sitcom format in new, unexpected ways.

This has been accomplished with the help of both topflight writing from Harmon and a tailor-made ensemble that includes star Joel McHale, the hilarious Donald Glover, and the always-dependable Chevy Chase, experiencing a late-career resurgance. Last week's installment, entitled "Remedial Chaos Theory" for the way it saw an unassuming pizza delivery morph into a harrowing journey across alternate timelines, is perhaps one of the best-ever exemplars of the show's cast and concept working at their absolute peak. Meditating on the episode last Friday, /Film's Adam Quigley arrived at much the same conclusion, and went even further in his analysis:

Recommended Reading

I keep going back-and-forth on my opinion of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement that's spreading across the country -- not because I disagree with the discontent underlying it, but because I question whether a bunch of shapeless, formless protests without clear goals are really going to do much to bring about the systemic change we so desperately need. That said, I do agree with Matt Taibbi that the worst thing this nascent movement needs is to be boxed into the usual Right-Left dialectic that's already made our politics so toxic.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Shopping Maul

Following up on Friday's post wherein I questioned the wisdom behind re-releasing the much-reviled Star Wars: Episode I to theaters in spiffy new 3D, Topless Robot has their own take on the decision making process that led to Team Lucas deciding on that poster (with its image of a very tired Yoda -- above -- summing up what I think we all felt when we heard about this). Here's a taste:
Lucasfilm Marketing Executive: Our research team indicates everyone hates The Phantom Menace.
George Lucas: Really?
Lucasfilm Marketing Executive: Very much so.
George Lucas: I had no idea.
Lucasfilm Marketing Executive: ...really?
George Lucas: What don't they like?
Lucasfilm Marketing Executive: Everything, really. Jar Jar. The story. Jake Lloyd. The borderline racist aliens. Natalie Portman macking on a 10-year-old. "Yippee." Jar Jar. Anakin building C-3PO for no reason whatsoever. Midichlorians. All the dull political bullshit. Jar Jar. T--
George Lucas: I think you said Jar Jar a couple of times already.
Lucasfilm Marketing Executive: People really don't like Jar Jar.
For the rest, jump over here. Very, very funny.

On a related tangent, I did a little impromptu market research yesterday and spoke with my nephew, who's twelve now, and he has absolutely no problem with either Jar Jar in particular or The Phantom Menace in general. Indeed, he wonders why anyone would. So maybe this really is a generational divide.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

New Video Interview With Yours Truly

This past Thursday my friend and fellow blogger Amanda Quraishi chatted me up via the new Spreecast video service for a breezy fifteen minute convo about Geek Wisdom, what qualifies me to call myself a geek authority, and some of my fave entries for the book. We experienced a few technical hiccups here and there, but it was still a fun time, and you can check it out in its entirety here.

And if you haven't ordered your copy of Geek Wisdom yet, get on it, willya!

Broken Discourse

I've often noted how the age of extreme partisan polarization we find ourselves in has so damaged our ability to come together and solve common problems that the resultant breach may simply have become insurmountable. I can't think of a better exemplar of the broken state of our discourse than this week's parting-of-ways between conservative commentator David Frum and NPR's weekly Marketplace radio program. The format of the show was a weekly point-counterpoint, with Frum holding forth on various news topics one week from the conservative perspective, and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich representing the progressive side the following week.

Now, I've said here several times that Frum, though I stridently disagree with many of his political views, is still someone who I'd enjoy a conversation with because he strikes me as someone who views conservatism as a policy prescription as opposed to an ideology. Well, after years of drifting further and further away from what's considered conservative/Republian orthodoxy, Frum felt compelled to hand his walking papers to NPR over the GOP's laserlike focus on cuts, cuts, cuts even at the expensive of longterm prosperity, and his inability to be "the Republican voice" on something he disagrees with. Here's the money quote, from his farewell Marketplace appearance:

Friday, October 14, 2011

George Lucas to Fans: You're Welcome.

Courtesy of Bleeding Cool, here's the release poster for next year's theatrical reissue of Star Wars: Episode I -- now in 3D! -- which seems like more of a threat than a promise, and serves as further proof that George Lucas is playing some kind of elaborate "screw you" mind game with his Star Wars faithful. How else to explain a re-release no one was asking for of a movie no one likes in a format no one wants to pay for? Also, given the stated plan to put these things out in number order at a rate of one-a-year (assuming they get a box office reception that even warrants it), it'll be 2015 before we'd even get to the good stuff, and who knows how many more changes Lucas will have made to the original flicks by then.

And for even more Lucas craziness, jump over to Topless Robot and read their take on the goofy plans now in motion to revive deceased Phantom Menace baddie Darth Maul via the Clone Wars TV show.

Intelligence Failures

I mentioned a few months ago that my friend Ray Nowosielski was working on a new documentary about the veil of half-truths surrounding the 9/11 attacks, and former CIA chief George Tenet's role in perpetuating it. Since then, he's become a part of the story thanks to revelations that emerged in his and partner John Duffy's interview with former Bush terrorism official Richard Clarke. As the investigation continues to unfold, and with the doco still forthcoming, Ray has a lengthy article, co-written by Rory O'Connor, at Salon that lays out the extent of their findings in exquisite detail. Fascinating stuff.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Recommended Reading

The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim and Mike Sacks lay out the long, tortured history of "corporate personhood" as a concept, from its origins in the 1800s to its current role as the key actor upon the body politic thanks to the "Citizens United" ruling of nearly two years ago. Depressing stuff, to be sure, but instructive all the same.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Zaki's Corner Nominated For Best Blog

I got some good news to start out my week yesterday from the Brass Crescent Awards, celebrating the best and brightest in the Muslim blogosphere, where this site has once again been nominated in the "Best Blog" category. They even went ahead and compared me to Mark Twain in their descriptor, something which I'm exceedingly grateful for and humbled by (though, to paraphrase the man himself, it's a comparison that's been greatly exaggerated). All this is made even more humbling when I look at the calibre of writers with whom I've been included, as well as those in the other categories. Big thanks to everyone out there who submitted me for consideration, and I hope you'll continue to show your support by casting your votes. Ballots close on November 7, so you can expect plenty more friendly reminders before then.

Assembling the Avengers Trailer

Here it is, courtesy of Comic Book Resources. The years-long build-up is very nearly reaching its payoff. Watch, enjoy, and realize that May suddenly feels very far away.



Jump over to Apple for all the spiffy hi-def versions.

More Cop Talk

As you already know if you read this site regularly I'm a pretty big fan of the original RoboCop flick from '87, which is why I've been both cautious and optimistic about MGM's plans to reinvent the property for the big screen. That door has definitely swung much more in the direction of "optimistic" the more I've read about the approach director José Padilha plans/hopes to take with the material. Thanks to a lengthy new interview with Crave Online he once again has me feeling very good about this project's potential chances of cutting through the usual Hollywood noise to become something very interesting. Click past the jump to check out some of the Robo-centric highlights from their conversation:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Recommended Reading

I agree with Paul Krugman that the longterm impact and effectiveness of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement that's taken shape over the past few weeks remains to be seen, but I also agree with his read of why it may be making certain power brokers in this country -- political and financial alike -- feeling a mite fidgety. Said Krugman in his column yesterday:
What’s going on here? The answer, surely, is that Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They’re not John Galt; they’re not even Steve Jobs. They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.  
Yet they have paid no price. Their institutions were bailed out by taxpayers, with few strings attached. They continue to benefit from explicit and implicit federal guarantees — basically, they’re still in a game of heads they win, tails taxpayers lose. And they benefit from tax loopholes that in many cases have people with multimillion-dollar incomes paying lower rates than middle-class families.
More at the link.