Sunday, April 3, 2011

Shang-Chi Notes

Superhuman kung fu.
Controlling emotions.
Fu Manchu was Makluan.
Part Dragon.
The Mandarin, part Makulan.
Five rings vs Five rings
Midnight Sun. Communicates through fighting.
Elemental superfighting.
Mandarin destroys M'Nai.
Throws him to Earth.
Shang-Chi fights him to learn what happened to him.
KillRaven. Disciple. Teaching. Peace.
An Invasion is coming. The Mandarin bringing a planetfull of Makulans. A fleet of giant space dragons.
Shang-Chi prepares himself. Finds the five rings. Iron Man. (Or War Machine, or Stark Tech guard. NinjaBot. StarkFujikawa.)
Power Cosmic.
KillRaven. DragonSlayer.
Black Knight.
KillRaven goes to train with another warrior. Brooklyn, Iron Fist. White Tiger. Daughters of the Dragon. Daredevil. The Hand. Elektra. Urban Ninja.

Wendigo. Sasquatch. Wolverine. Hulk. The woods, the wild. Hitchhiking. X-Mansion. Man-Thing. Monsters. Pegasus. DarkHawk. Nova. Cosmic.

Guardians of the Galaxy. StarFox. Space opera.
Kree. S.W.O.R.D. Captain Marvel.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Bitchslap to Feminism

I do not understand female sexuality. As sensitive a guy that I am, as often as I find myself hanging out with the girls, watching Dirty Dancing, pajama pants, and working the paparazzi gossip field for years now, I still will never understand girls. From Girls Gone Wild, to Maxim, to oversexualized underage teen popstars. What are the images that women have to emulate these days if not the metrosexual ladies of Sex & the City.

I don't get how being a badass chick relates to showing cleavage and showing a lot of leg, and eventually being naked holding your own breasts on the cover of a magazine. Or worse yet, an advertisement for a beauty product. How does two girls kissing, embracing one another in a letters to Penthouse manner with MTV music video slickness, moist skin and glistening breasts, exposed and performing, even in the quiet of their own personal lives, how does this empower someone?

I just see it as a man's audience being pandered to in the most base and vile manner. It's giving in to the filthy instincts of a testosterone driven misogynistic society. A woman's worth is basically arm candy to a stalwart hero, a damsel in distress, or an over compensating superkiller assassin completely devoid of the feminine. She is seen as a goddess object, a force to be worshiped and feared, unmolested by mere human touch. But the virgin, the young, they are to be exploited to the fullest, a sacrifice upon the altar of pop culture.

Is the pinnacle of femininity in today's day and age having awesome shoes, wearing a short skirt, kicking ass and taking names? I mean, I guess I don't even have a masculine identity to look up to, so why should I assume that girls have the same. It seems we truly live in an era where this current generation is re-creating the ideals of all human interactions. Role-model ideals are more true and accurate with what we essentially need than ever before.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Asian Cinema Review - ZOMEDY EDITION


I love Asian Cinema, and for overall weirdness, gore, perversion and dark humor, the Japanese win every time. They're constantly outdoing not just every other country in pulpy cinematic respect, but also top themselves every other year.

Take for example TOKYO ZOMBIE from 2005. Now, I'm not much for the Japanese Horror films such as Ringu and the like, or really horror films at all, but zombie movies sort of transcend the horror genre. They tend to skirt satire on a good day and drama when well executed. And then sometimes, they are really funny.

Now, Shaun of the Dead had been released just the year before, so perhaps this low-budget movie was a direct response to that work of pure horror-comedy genius that Edgar Wright put together. And Tokyo Zombie is funny. I laughed out loud quite a few times at some really unexpected physical comedy and dark gags. Even when something is more heavy handed, if done with proper timing and direction, it could be borderline genius.

This movie isn't genius though. The first half is quite great. Two slackers that work at a fire extinguisher refilling station, who'd rather practice jujitsu rather than work, accidentally kill their boss. Well, maybe not so accidentally, but definitely surprisingly, for the viewer that is. Then they drive up to 'Black Fuji', the name of the giant black mountain of trash that has accumulated outside of town, where people bury all sorts of refuse, from refrigerators to porn to annoying in-laws and dead schoolboys.

Yeah, that's right, this is Japanese after all, so the perv-factor is quite high, but really only for the first 10 minutes or so. After we see people tossing away all this garbage, dumping bodies, well it all goes to Hell quite fast. The dead start rising from the black earth and head on down into town. The situation goes right to full on zombie infestation without skipping a beat. And the main characters just sort of roll with it with their poker-faces on. After all, they do know jujitsu.

So the first half becomes this sort of road movie where these friends bond, dealing with mortality, hypochondria, ineptitude, and lots of slapstick. Then they rescue a girl and suddenly the movie completely changes everything about itself. As we ride an animated segment into crazytown zombieville, we jump five years into the future where the rich have built themselves a protected pyramid of lush living, where they entertain themselves by having slaves (survivors they kidnap) fight zombies in a gladiatorial arena.

Yeah, I know. So then it becomes a matter of younger fighter having to defeat his former friend/mentor in order to overcome the self-imposed limitations he had. Seems fighting someone who's not a zombie isn't so easy though, so the whole thing falls apart. If this all sounds a bit messy and vague it's only because I would have to write a whole book to explain the bizarre twists and turns the second half of this movie takes.

So it is very flawed, but it's also worth a watch for the first half alone. The second half has its moments and is fun to watch just because it seems like someone changed scripts halfway through, switching from Shaun of the Dead to Gladiator. There's so many funny moments and the actors are really quite good in this quite low-budget horror comedy. But where Shaun of the Dead brilliantly walks the fine line of actual horror movie and comedy, this flick is pure comedy (with maybe a dash of drama).

But there are other foreign zombie movies out there to check out that I HIGHLY recommend.

REC (Spain, 2007)

This is my favorite horror movie of all time. A masterpiece of low-budget first person perspective horror that's very well acted and has great twists and turns that really keep the anxiety up and the ending is just...well, go watch it. AND WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT WATCH THE AMERICAN REMAKE 'QUARANTINE'. Not even the trailer. Don't. Do. It.

DEAD SNOW (Norway, 2009)

This is another movie that really skirts the line of various genres. It's a drama, of sorts, then a bizarre sort of comedy, and finally, a full on genre flick with at least one direct shout out to Sam Raimi's 'Evil Dead' movies. Oh, and did I mention, ZOMBIE NAZIS! Yes, that's right. Watch it. You may need two viewings, I know I did.

UNDEAD (Australia, 2003)

I didn't love this movie, but I know a lot of people that do. I think I need to watch it again. It has moments of genius, that I do recall. And the ending is really quite striking and powerful. I remember a lot of the incidental moments rather than the actual plot, but it really is worth a watch.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Walking Dead Episode #1 recap

The Walking Dead, AMC's new original show kicked off last night on Halloween. What better way for the channel to venture forth into the world of survival horror than on the sppokiest day of the year.

We start of the show with our hero Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) looking for gas at a gas station. We get the sense that something's not right from the abandoned cars and the decaying corpses in said cars. But suddenly he hears a shuffling footstep and sees bunny slippers and a teddy bear.

Too bad this little girl he tries to save is a full fledged brain snacking zombie which he promptly puts down with a bullet. Thus, our scene is set. Cut to the intro of spooky photo montages of empty lots and scenes. 

After that we shoot back a bit and see Rick, a Sheriff and his partner Shane, kicking back in their patrol car talking about the differences between men and women, perhaps the great dividing line in humanity (before the living and the dead). We also get a hint of Rick's marriage problems, including opening up to his wife, and his inability to understand his woman.

Suddenly, they need to intercept a runaway criminal in a hot rod, and so, set up a speed trap. As the car crashes and flips excessively into the field, leading towards a shootout, and although our hero Rick gets hit in the vest with a round, it's only after his partner makes sure he's okay, that another of the criminals tags Rick from behind.

A trippy scene of his partner talking to him at his hospital bed leads right into Rick, still wounded in his bed and everything is dead. The flowers on his nightstand, the clock on his wall, the medical equipment he's hooked up to. Stumbling through the hospital he realizes that the entire hospital is dead.

Literally. There's a door he comes upon stating 'DEAD INSIDE, DON'T OPEN', which dead fingers attempt to pry their way out of. There's corpses littering the parking lot, discarded military vehicles everywhere, and not a living soul in sight. And so, he wanders off towards home. Before he can get a good distance he come across his first zombie, a half a corpse that crawls across the grass.

When he gets home, he finds it empty, his wife, Lori, and child, Carl, missing, and kudos to Lincoln on his performance here of a man trying to come to terms with this new nightmare his life has become. He does a great job a playing a man fully in shock. And so in shock is he that he doesn't realize the man shuffling down the street is a zombie, or that the kid coming up behind him is going to smash him in the face with a shovel.

And so, Rick meets his first survivors. Lam and his son, Dwayne, who take him in and tell him the basics of zombie survival. The dead walk, they're drawn to noise, and above all, don't get bitten. They're held up in a neighbor's house, seeking refuge from the shambling zombies that set off car alarms in the street.

When spying on the dead, we get a hint at the backstory of Lam and his son, who's wife/mother is now among the brainsucking dead. The next morning the living make a quick trip out to the front yard to kill a zombie, a brutal baseball bat to the head that leaves Rick a bit sick. Once inside his own home again we get exposition that proves that his wife and child left their home as living beings.

So off to the Sheriff's office, for a quick hot shower (oh how the little things mean so much), to stock up on guns and ammo, and set off in search of Rick's family, who may be in Atlanta, where refugees were all heading before things got really bad.

Lam and Dwayne head off back to the home they were holed up in, Lam trying to finally put his zombified wife out of her misery, yet finding he can't. Rick, meanwhile, heads back to the park to find the half a corpse he first ran into, in order to end its suffering. Each zombie death really resonates in this episode, and none more so than this. Rick weeps as he destroys this creature that was once human.

Once back on his own, Rick drives out to Atlanta, and we get a glimpse of a camp outside the city where survivors are, including his partner Shane and Rick's wife and kid, who we find out are together on the sly. It's about as cringe worthy as any death scene, even if we haven't seen Rick and her together yet.

Rick trades his patrol car for a horse (presumably after he can't find gas in the intro), and heads into the city where he stumbles upon a dead end (aka a city block chock full of the walking dead), and takes refuge in an empty tank while the dead feast on the poor horse.

After taking out an undead soldier inside, and shell-shocking himself with the noise of a point blank gunshot inside a tank, Rick eventually hears a voice over the radio which taunts him, mocking him for so carelessly wandering into the city.

Who is this survivor, how does he know what's going on, and does he know about Rick's wife and kid? If Rick keeps his wits about him (and his brains intact) perhaps he'll find out.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

One Hit Wonder review

In our celebrity saturated society even those thought long forgotten, idols from our youth who glimmered for just a summer, leaving us with a singular hit song that resonated in the public sending ripples through the pop culture pool, even they become relevant and interesting once more.

In Carillo's new book One Hit Wonder, we follow Mickey DeFalco, a Queens native who hit it big with his sappy yet melancholy ballad 'Sweet Days' as he returns home an utter failure and total has-been. In his shoes we feel what it's like to be loved and adored for that one contribution to people's lives.

An aging fan hooking up with her teenage fantasy. Bitter former classmates still toiling at menial jobs at home. The girl that was loved and lost, inspiring those epic refrains. These are the people around Mickey that marvel at his achievement and fall from grace. They hold him at a distance, as something other than themselves.

Through flashbacks we're shown even more moments of awkward celebrity. From playing a cruise ship to kids birthday parties, no indignity is spared, and Mickey just casually walks his way through each of them, only passionate and excitable when clinging to his last shreds of dignity.

There's something to Mickey's boy-like demeanor and passive aggressive nature that really shines in the prose. This feels like a real person who could neatly slide into our pop song past. His parents are peppered with sentimental details that make them so true to life. You can see their past as Mickey grew up in their home.

The whole book is littered with truths. About life, love, family. Just lines tossed out here and there that feel like universal truths, spit out by a wiseass Queens kid in a 38 year old's body. The concept of hitting bottom and trying to resurface, flailing about in inconsistency of actions, taking the easy route when available, this is how people behave.

And then there's lost love. Idyllic in memory, which taints all reality about him, making it all a joke, another tragedy heaped upon the pile. How do you react when all you want is the girl, but instead are given fame and fortune? You self-destruct of course. Spiral to the bottom and find yourself again.

The book is very well written and consistent in its tone, with more than a few twists and turns that feel like the randomness of life, rather than the structure of plot. Not to give spoilers, but there is a happy ending there, but it may not exactly come as you'd think it would.

I have yet to read Carillo's other novels, but from this book I imagine he's got more than just this one song to offer.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Plan

The Production Company

Ten categories of entertainment media

Ten artist teams on ten panel stories

Matt LaRock
Lee Estes

The foundation of TenTon


Organize projects

Marvel Pitches
DC Pitches
Indie Pitches
TV Show (spinoff)
Video Games
Zine/Blog/Short Stories/Poems

Develop an idea for each.


Get one page of coloring & one of lettering done a night.


TenTon Order




Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson Puts the Emo in dEMOcracy

Broadway has seen its fair share of offbeat musicals in recent years, but The Public Theatre's emo rock opera about controversial president Andrew Jackson seems like a combo that's just to weird to work.

Taking the life story of the president that is responsible for the Trail of Tears which caused the deaths of numerous Native Americans, and fusing it with rockstar celebrity, it just somehow makes sense in today's day and age, making history more accessible by re-enacting it through modern tropes.

However, I was a poor history student so I really have no idea whether what I was hearing and seeing was even remotely accurate, but it sparked in me a desire to find out the true story behind the "American Hitler" that's also considered one of our greatest presidents "who put the Man in Manifest Destiny".

The show is playing at Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, where the stage is small but even with a drum kit and piano set up, the cast makes good use of the space. The entire theatre is done up like a Wild West saloon with empty beer cans, animals stuffed and surrounding the stage, with an overall rockabilly flair. With parts of the cast coming out and playing instruments, it was a full blown band performance.

But this is where the show falters. The songs are not strong enough to stick in your head, leaving you unable to remember any individual song or lyrics. The singing falls a bit flat, never producing the power of Broadway vocals that gives you the chills. The music itself is really good, but the song compositions often break it up too much to really get into.

That said, the theatrical performances of the cast were amazing. Each member had great comedic timing and the supporting cast transformed itself with each change of scene, going from Southern Rednecks to Washington Aritocrats flawlessly. Benjamin Walker as Andrew Jackson was thoroughly charismatic, Maria Elena Ramirez felt like a poor casting choice as his wife, but it was Jeff Hiller as backup characters who stold every scene.

So all in all, it was a darn good time and had me laughing throughout, and even though the music I found lacking, it was refreshing to see something a bit more rock'n'roll in the form of a very un-PC, historical satire. Dare I say, it was a bloody good time.