Friday, June 30, 2006

Saw it.

Will post my thoughts.

But I have to wait until Ross sees it before I can discuss it.


I mean, really. I can't go spoiling things for my number one reader and the Arbiter of All Things True.

That would certainly be very un-Superman-like.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Return

I hope the new movie is good.
Today, I'll be thinking of the guy who first made me believe that a man could fly.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

just the messenger

I believe the Tank will be hosting the last of the Laughing Liberally Labs for a while, so here's a little something from the promotion department:

After touring LA, Vegas & Boston,

Join us for ONE NIGHT of Laughter from the Left. Smart, savvy and surprising, these comedians give "blue humor" a whole new meaning.

Wed, June 28th - 8:30 & 10pm
The Tank - 279 Church St, btw Franklin & White
Tix: $5-$10, as you wish

They packed the house on Broadway at Town Hall.

In LA, they brought 1,000 people to their feet.

In Vegas, they entertained Howard Dean, Barbara Boxer, Harry Reid, Joe Wilson, & the YearlyKos blogger convention.

In Boston, they packed the house at the home theater of famed Jimmy Tingle.

Now, the comedians of Laughing Liberally return.
Come welcome them home.

Featuring -

8:30pm: Dean Obiedallah, Negin Farsad,
Harry Terjanian & Lee Camp

10:00pm: Baratunde Thurston, Benari Poulten,
Rob Driemeyer, Roger Weaver & David Hodorowski

soft news day

It's just funny when they're *such* stereotypical caricatures of themselves.

Yeah, sure this is kind of an impotent jab at the bombastic and holier-than-thou Rush, but screw 'im. Live by the sword, die by the sword. Er...yeah.

Rush Limbaugh could see a deal with prosecutors in a long-running prescription fraud case collapse after authorities found a bottle of Viagra in his bag at Palm Beach International Airport. The prescription was not in his name.

Limbaugh was detained for more than three hours Monday at the airport after returning from a vacation in the Dominican Republic. Customs officials found the Viagra in his luggage but his name was not on the prescription, said Paul Miller, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

Miller said the alleged violation could be a second-degree misdemeanor. The sheriff's office was investigating and will soon turn the case over to the state attorney's office, which had no immediate comment Tuesday.

Under the deal reached last month with prosecutors, Limbaugh was not to be arrested for any infraction for 18 months in exchange for authorities deferring a charge of "doctor shopping." Prosecutors had alleged the conservative talk-show host illegally deceived multiple physicians to receive overlapping painkiller prescriptions.

Monday, June 26, 2006

friendly neighborhood

Spider-Man 3 filmed in my neighborhood this past weekend.

Which is awesome...unless you drove in late last night and had to find a parking spot.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

brilliant quote o' the day

"You're gonna need a bigger boat."
-Martin Brody
(Roy Scheider)


written by Peter Benchley (novel & screenplay) and Carl Gottlieb (screenplay)

Directed by little Stevie Spielberg

Thursday, June 22, 2006

character building

One thing I'm learning right now is that when writing scripts, it's essential to create interesting, vibrant characters. Not for all the obvious reasons, but because you - as the writer - are forced to spend a lot of time with these characters. They better be people you enjoy spending time with!

"You talk like a comic book, man."

Matt Fraction is having fun writing comic books, and Casanova proves it.

From the above quote - itself a riff on funky karate master Jim Kelly's badass retort to the evil crimelord Han in Enter the Dragon - to the trippy locales, twisted plot, whacked out characters, and drug-fueled insanity, this is what comics should be like. Outrageous, derivative-yet-wholly-original mini works of art. True POP culture junkfood.

Fraction gleefully proclaims his influences - from Jim Steranko to Phil Spector - and takes readers through the outlandish world of super-sleuth Casanova Quinn, a rebellious second-generation spy who's pretty much a degenerate fuck-up.

Fraction sometimes skates a thin line along the cracked ice - perhaps it's getting a little repetitive to see over-the-top analogues to Nick Fury, his agents of SHIELD, and the evil Hordes of HYDRA...Warren Ellis is simultaneously doing the same thing in NEXTWAVE...but, overall, Fraction manages to pull it off. His characters exude a frenetic charm and the story moves at such a break-neck pace that the comic book has a look and feel that's uniquely its own. Like throwing Maker's Mark and a Porterhouse steak in a blender; it might be messy, but it's gonna taste good.

Unafraid to revel in utter madness - and at a buck-ninety-nine - Casanova is a savory slab of juicy, madcap fun. So why haven't you read it yet?!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dan the Mullet Guy

So, for those who have not seen this, here's some rare footage of Florida comic Dan Whitney from waaaay back in the 80s (presumably), long before he adopted his Sith name, Larry the Cable Guy.

At that time, he apparently modeled his look after Paula Poundstone.

back in the saddle

Aaaaaannnd, we're back.

When we performed the Geek Council, I always regretted that we never really discussed Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.

From the minds of novelists Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir, screenwriter Christopher Wood, and director Guy Hamilton.

Fred Ward as a thought-to-be-dead-NYC-cop-turned-super-secret-assassin-
tough-guy-martial-arts-bad-ass! Joel Grey as his Asian-Yoda-like-mentor! Wilford Brimley as the head of a shadow-ring of assassins! Wilford Quakin' Brimley, people!!

It even has future-Trekkie Kate Mulgrew...

...and Marv Albert's voice, before we found out he likes to bite chicks. YES!

Oh, the heights of geekdom we could have climbed, picking apart this geektacular spectacle of 80's brilliance.

I mean, when sketchy-black-dude-working-for-Wilford-Brimley Conn MacCleary dubs him "Remo Williams," he takes his inspiration from a bed pan. "A lot of thought went into it," he whispers smoothly, like a refreshing gulp of Colt 45.


Remember when the Statue of Liberty was undergoing reconstruction and was encased in scaffolding? Forget David Copperfield making it disappear, this movie truly immortalizes that moment in history with a battle royale on Liberty Island...

Seriously, it's weird that Remo Williams never really achieved the cult status of 1984's The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension...I'm sure it was seen as some sort of knock-off flick. But the two are beautifully deranged in far different ways, each revelling in the awesome absurdity of geekiness.

"You're going to be the Eleventh Commandment: 'Thou shalt not get away with it.'"
-Conn MacCleary
(J. A. Preston)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Big Time

From the Boston Globe:

Stage gives him a place to express himself politically
By Nick A. Zaino III, Globe Correspondent
June 16, 2006

Political comedy and social satire require a bit of a risk for a comedian. Any time a performer exposes a point of view or a personal experience , there's a chance the audience might not agree or identify.

For one of the comics on the bill for Laughing Liberally, playing Jimmy Tingle's Off Broadway theater this weekend and next, the show is about finding a comfortable place to be himself.

Chelmsford native Benari Poulten, 28, is an Army reservist, the third generation in his family to serve in the military. He was stationed at Guantanamo Bay for a year, from 2002 to 2003. So when he criticizes his boss in his stand-up, there's a little more at stake than for your average working stiff.

``It puts me in a very difficult position, because sometimes as much as I'd like to really say something, I don't want to get sent back to Guantanamo," he says, laughing.

Politics are in Poulten's blood. He says his father, a 30-year veteran reservist, is a ``yellow dog Democrat," and some of Poulten's earliest memories include watching Walter Mondale lose in the 1984 presidential election.

Poulten left Boston and a gig as an aide to Democratic Representative Marty Meehan 2 1/2 years ago and went to New York and started getting serious about stand-up. Naturally, he turned to politics for material. It's a chance for him to vent -- albeit carefully.

``In the Army, you have to be a little more diplomatic about what you say," he says. ``The stage really became a great outlet for me to really talk about these conflicting feelings and what's going on."

Laughing Liberally started in New York two years ago at a small black box theater called the Tank and moved on to New York's 1,500-seat Town Hall venue earlier this year.

Organizer Justin Krebs says the show is meant to have a political impact and develop the next generation of satirists. And that's a task he won't entrust to comedy clubs, citing what he believes is a dearth of political stand-up beyond stars Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo , Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert.

``You have this top level of smart, thoughtful political humor, but you don't have that much of a farm team below them," he says.

Last month's Town Hall gig was a boost for Poulten.

``That's the biggest venue I've ever played, and it was probably one of the best sets I've ever had," he says. ``They were a really fantastic crowd."

Laughing Liberally plays Jimmy Tingle’s Off Broadway tonight, tomorrow,

and next Thursday-Saturday. Visit or call 617-591-1616.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Don't worry, faithful reader (I know there's one o' you out there) - I ain't dead. Just serving Uncle Sam these past two weeks.

The fact that I've been on active military duty when Al-Zarqawi was reported killed by US and coalition forces is, of course, pure coincidence.

I don't want to say what I'll be up to this weekend, but if you happen to be in the Boston area this Friday or Saturday night, you might wanna swing by Jimmy Tingle's Off-Broadway Theater in Davis Square.

You didn't hear it from me.

Out here.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Xs and Os

Geek Council Thursday, in memoriam!

Saw X-Men: The Last Stand yesterday and...


If you've seen it, read on. If not...well, as Prof. Xavier hissed, "I warned you."

Unlike many other geeks, I am not disgusted with the departure from the source material, nor do I care if they wear costumes with masks or not. I care about consistency, characters and their relationships, logic (within the world of the movie), some kick-ass sfx and action sequences, and good writing.

X-Men: The Last Stand did have some spectacular action sequences. And there were some nice character moments. Juggernaut was fun entertainment. And Sir Ian McKellen's Magneto is sublime, as always. In fact, he's even more villainous and cold-hearted than ever.

But. It was a flimsy movie. Good for some 'splosions, some cute scenes and cool shots, but nowhere near reaching its full potential. It tries to do too much and cram too many things into an hour and forty-five minutes. And in doing so, it fails to do much of anything.

Had they just stuck to ONE conflict (Magneto's brotherhood, the mutant cure, Phoenix...), they would have had more than enough for a compelling movie. Instead, the film makers try "a little bit of this" and "a little bit of that" and come up with a bland and tepid crock o' mutants.

And I don't blame Brett Ratner, who I think actually did a nice job. No, I blame the writers. From start to finish, it was just lazy writing, a paint-by-numbers and hack-it-out script, moving from action point A to action point B, insert movie star mugging scene here, some sort of muddled goals, throw the geeks a few bones (Hi, Moira MacTaggart!), and wrap it up in an adamantium bow. I'm sure this script had more hands in it than Nicole Richie, but there's no excuse for such poor dialogue and wasted opportunities on this high-profile a franchise movie.

It was an entertaining diversion when it could have been a thrilling, multi-layered and complex blockbuster.

The most egregious sin was their treatment of Scott Summers. Now, the last two movies have certainly given him short shrift, turning him into little more than a whiny dick...but his treatment in this movie? An unceremonious death within the first 15 minutes?! And the characters barely even care? WTF?! Just proves how inconsequential Cyclops has been to these movies that he could be so callously discarded, with nary a blip on the mutants' radar.

Surely, the first X-Man deserves better.

Even worse, he was and is Jean's anchor, one third of the volatile Logan-Jean-Scott love triangle. At the heart of the Dark Phoenix Saga, is their love story. Scott's unbreakable will and his willingness to stand by Jean, even in the face of complete destruction. To eradicate that dramatic tension is inexcusable. It reveals that the writers did not know how to write his character and had no idea what to do with him in this movie, so they killed him off.

I don't care that they didn't stick religiously to the original comic books. But they didn't even stick to the themes, ignoring the very things that made the stories resonate so powerfully in the first place.

I think of the final scene between Logan and Jean, when he finally tells her he loves her and then pops his claws, killing her. Imagine how much more powerful the ending would have been if the struggle was between Scott trying to do everything in his power to save Jean and keep her alive...and Wolverine, forced to do the only thing he knows will set her free. Imagine if it came down to Scott and Logan - both in love with Jean - having to choose. Scott, ultimately, could not kill her out of his passionate love for her but Logan...struggling with his own rage, knowing what it's like to lose control, can and does kill her. Because of his passionate love for her. Now, THAT'S a love triangle. And both of those characters would have to bear the burden. Scott, for not being able to let her go and Logan, for being able to do the one thing he's best at.

Was it a fun movie? I enjoyed good chunks of it. But like the zombie-Jean Grey/Phoenix of the movie, it was hollow; all joy, passion, anger, and rage. It could have used a little more substance and heart to give this pretty shell a soul.