The Time to Be Super

I’ve noticed in the past few years that superheroes have become a reoccurring theme. As far back at the new batman trilogy, and slowly growing, there have been more and more superheros breaking out of comic books. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the upcoming Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are all evidence of a new uprising.

Of course this is far from the first surge in popularity of comics and superheroes. In the past few decades since superheroes have arrived on the scene they have risen and fallen in popularity. My hypothesis is that their popularity is related to the political and economic status of the world at the time, but that would be for someone much more seeped in comic lore than me to prove or disprove.

What I can do is give a little bit of history of superheroes in comics and their breakout into other mediums (mostly TV). Because I am a nerd and I spent a few hours researching comics on the internet and it’s interesting. Get ready.

We start off with the Golden Age of comics. This is when the big wigs showed up. Superman, Captain America (originally Captain Marvel), among others made their first appearances in or soon after 1938. You’ll notice this to be soon after the depression as it became obvious the world was going to go to war again. Superheros made people feel like there was something out there to save them. In these early comics the hero always saved the day and the damsel (because that’s all women were in these stories).

In 1955 the Golden Age gave way to the Silver Age of comics. Now more superheroes arrive on the scene to help get delinquents off the streets. This era lasts until the early 70’s and I’ll point out that this is around the time when television becomes popular. Near the end of the Silver Age is the first time we start to see superheroes on TV, Batman being the first, and launching many others that make appearances in what’s called the Bronze Age of Comics.

In the Bronze Age (~1970-85) the stories in comic books become darker. The dark hero is clearly the picture of the decade and a half of the Bronze Age. On television there are superheroes abound with Wonder Woman, Spiderman, and the Hulk being pulled from comics to star on the small screen. Alongside them, there are heroes such as the Six Million Dollar Man and it’s spin-off, Bionic Woman from other original material ($6M Man was adapted from a novel).

The adaptations make way for original superheroes in the Modern Age of comics (~1985-present). Shows such as Greatest American Hero and Misfits have no ties directly to comics or novels. Meanwhile comics such as The Flash and Superman are still brought to life in movies and on TV. These shows and their comic counterparts are more psychological, and many are darker, than any of their previous incarnations. 50-plus years of super work will do that to a hero.

More here.

As more and more superhero series and paraphernalia crop up I can’t help but think that we are on the cusp of a new era. We want heroes we can relate to. Heroes who are ruthless and fantastic in their search for the true villain, but are also vulnerable and real. We want more out of superheroes than we have before, but I think the new generation of creators will be able to deliver.

Who is your favorite superhero? What would you like to see in a new superhero (or changes in an old favorite)?

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Cabin in the Woods

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I know.  I’m about a year overdue for seeing this movie.  I’m not really into horror movies, so I kind of wrote it off as something I didn’t need to see.  I’ve never been so glad to have been proved wrong before.

Cabin in the Woods is your typical, five-friends-stranded-in-the-woods horror movie.  Until three deaths in and even the victims start to have second thoughts about what’s really going on here.  Behind the scenes an underground agency is manipulating the situation to appease an ancient god that demands blood sacrifice.  Once this plot is uncovered by the remaining victims even more blood and gore ensues.

For one thing, the cast.  Bradley Whitford, Amy Acker, and Fran Kranz are all favorites, and I’m always surprised and delighted to see Tom Lenk show up in however small a way.  Others that I didn’t know as well, didn’t disappoint.  Seeing these people in roles I’d have never thought of outside of this, yet some with a flicker of familiarity.

While, I should have expected nothing less from Joss Whedon and Drew Goodard, I was really impressed with the twist.  There are so many levels to this idea of watching people being tortured.  For one thing, in absorbing this message while watching the movie, you’re also watching people being tortured.

There are so many little nuances of irony in this movie that I almost can’t even wrap my head around them.  Bradley Whitford’s character dies by merman, a creature he’s been rooting for the whole time.  The multitude of horror movie references that I understood only through general pop culture knowledge or from the internet explaining them to me.

Not to mention the idea that there is an underground being who can only be sated by the death of five archetypes.  This has haunting implications on our own world.  What kind of power demands sacrifices of innocents?  If this power is real – in actuality or in metaphor – what sacrifices does it demand of us?  Our time, skills, and money?  And what kinds of effect does it have to give in to this perceived power?

But to step away from the possible soapbox, Cabin in the Woods was a surprising step out from the typical horror movie.  Filled with twists and brimming with irony, I’m surprising myself to say that I recommend it.

Are you a horror movie fan?  Have you seen Cabin in the Woods?  Love it or hate it?

Much Ado About Whedon

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So this time instead of being a year late to something, I decided to show up a month early.  I was lucky enough to get a chance to see Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing at the San Francisco International Film Festival; it has a limited release this weekend (6/7), a UK release next weekend (6/14), and a nationwide release the weekend after that (6/21).  I’ll come straight out with it, go see this movie as soon as possible.

In many ways it’s exactly what you think it is.  How can you go wrong with Shakespeare? (don’t answer that) The story of Much Ado About Nothing is the same as when you read it in high school.  Benedict and Beatrice hate each other; Claudio and Hiro are set up, torn down, and brought back together again; Benedict and Beatrice are together in the end (Spoiler Alert).

But this movie, this story, will never be told this way again.  A study in tightening the already close reigns of 6 Degrees of Joss Whedon, this movie has an all-star cast including Amy Acker, Alexis Denihof, Fran Kranz, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Reed Diamond, Sean Maher, and Tom Lenk.  Because why not get together all the old gang back together?  I can’t even begin with how much in awe I am of this cast.  People, some of whom as far as I’m aware have never met before, come together to make something awesome.

And awesome here encapsulates beautiful, hysterical, heart-wrenching, emotional, and perfect.  That’s right, perfect, because I can think of no other word that is able to sum up this film so well.  Practically perfect in every way.  Every once and a while I would see something.  An angle, a balcony, and I thought to myself, “I know where this is going”.  Every time I was wrong.  The story was filled with small unexpected things that, thinking back, couldn’t have been done any other way.

There is something for everyone here.  The film festival aficionados (it has toured the continent of festivals), the Shakespearean critics, and the Whedonites will all come to this movie in droves and there will not be a single unsatisfied soul in the house.  Perhaps I am making much ado about nothing, but what could be more appropriate?

Do you fall into any of the three categories I listed?  Which one?  When are you planning to see Much Ado About Nothing.

This Has Been May 2013 Edition

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Just as I suspected, this month was very much a rehashing of the beginning of this year. Time spent at home alternating between blogging, watching Netflix, reading books from the library, and not quite knowing what to do with myself. Okay, there was a little more happening overall, but in general that’s what it felt like.

Probably the most exciting thing this month was a short trip to Seattle to visit my friend Allason. We hung out at sculpture gardens, went to the massive REI while on our way to a fancy film festival party (because we’re classy like that), and got to spend some time with another friend of ours. Of course this trip also included late night life decision discussions, accidentally weeding our friend’s backyard garden for two hours, and a very delayed flight. Overall a highly successful weekend.

I also got a chance to hang out with a bunch of old high school friends. Some I went for lunch or rock climbing with, others I met up with for a beach bonfire… which turned into hanging out in the mission after the wind started to get to us. It’s been great to see old friends and catch up on what’s happening with everyone. Some I’ve been keeping up with, others I was surprised by in the best sense. It’s weird to be in a group and slowly discover that I’m the only single gal in the group. How’d that happen? Craziness.

I did manage to get myself together enough to get a motorcycle permit and then to sign up for and take a motorcycle safety course, which I completed last weekend. I will be getting a certificate in the mail withing a week or so and then I can take it to the DMV and they will send me a motorcycle license in the mail. Magic.

For the moment I’ve abandoned my original script projects. I need to find a way to habituate writing and especially writing on stories and ideas. I’ve gotten blogging for the most part, but I need to find a way to consistently work on original stories. For now I’m trying not to beat myself up over it. I am still interested in the ideas and may return to them, but right now they’re not working. (Perhaps I need to find a writing mentor?)

While my story-writing fell through, I’ve been happy with my blog writing. I’m working on some bigger ideas and coming up with some concepts for what I want a redesign to look like. I also posted my first vlog. You can check out my channel here and if you like it subscribe! I’m not sure yet what my initial posting schedule is going to be, but down the line I’d like to put up one video a week.

On the entertainment front I finished The Good Guys and hemmed and hawed for a while deciding to watch Fringe next (other options included Chuck, JAG, and a West Wing re-watch). I finally got around to watching The Cabin in the Woods (review to come), and I’m so glad I did. I’ve also been reading a lot. I just finished Eat Pray Love and am working my way through a few others at once. I’ve made myself an account on Goodreads to keep track of my reading habits. I think I may have accidentally invited my entire Facebook friend list. Sorry guys!  If you’re a member we should be friends.

What have you guys been up to this month?

The Good Guys

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I vaguely remember watching The Good Guys when it was on in 2010, so that’s a win even if I didn’t get a chance to finish it until much more recently.  The Good Guys stars Bradley Whitford and Colin Hanks and lasted only a season which is both sad and something I’m okay with at the same time.  It’s a complicated… emotion.

The show follows Dan Stark and Jack Bailey (Whitford and Hanks) as property crimes detectives whose investigations tend to end up bigger than they started.  This of course runs them into some trouble with their Lieutenant, Ana Ruiz, and the Assistant DA, Liz Traynor (who is also Jack ex-girlfriend, naturally).  Later in the season they bring in Samantha Evans, a lab tech who helps out on cases, usually illegally.

I have very mixed feelings on this show.  On the one hand, what’s not to love?  The show is filled with busting punks, driving fast cars, and all sorts of buddy cop antics.  There’s the will-they-wont-they of Jack and Liz, Dan’s constant womanizing (it’s surprisingly endearing), and at least one car chase in every episode.

The relationships on this show are fantastic.  Dan and Jack are partners and later friends, Jack and Liz’s relationship is one of my all time favorite pairings, Dan and the Lt. have a sort of thing which is hysterical, and then there’s the ‘ship between Dan and his trailer.  And Dan and booze.  And Dan and the punks he busts.  And Dan and his Trans-Am.  And Dan and his gun.  And did I mention that Bradley Whitford is fantastic in this show*?

I’m also a huge fan of the fact that the show is set and was filmed in Dallas.  They use lots of footage of the Dallas skyline an I think it really grounds the series with a sense of place.  Paired with Dan’s love of Foghat and 80’s fashion, alongside the cars and dive bars, the feel of the show is completely unique.  It transports you to the world of the show in a way that I’ve never experienced before, and it’s absolutely fantastic.

But on the other hand… when it was bad it was horrid.  Liz’s boyfriend, an unseen entity up to this point, is suddenly a suspect in an investigation.  In one episode he goes from boyfriend to suspect to dirty lying cheat, all as an effort to break them up and allow for Liz and Jack to get back together.

Around the same time they bring in Samantha.  I love the character and I see her uses in later episodes, there was no immediate need for another character in the show.  It seems to me that they were told to bring in more characters (Julius a sometimes informant also starts to play a bigger role around this time), and I didn’t see the need for it.  I loved the show from the beginning, but the complications made it tedious to me.

Thankfully they managed to finish on a strong note with Dan and Jack bringing down a dirty cop and Dan’s old partner Frank coming in to help out for one final showdown.  But overall, what executives did with the show left a sour taste in my mouth (yeah, I’m blaming the network on this one).

Bottom line: If you’re looking for a fun, episodic buddy cop show, The Good Guys is going to be your jam.  The vast majority of The Good Guys is just good clean fun.  If you’re looking for more intellectualism and a continuous story, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Have you seen The Good Guys?  What did you like or dislike about it?

*If you’re noticing a Bradley Whitford theme between this and Cabin in the Woods, you should know that it’s entirely unintentional.  Though I may do a West Wing re-watch.  Than would be intentional.

I Ship It

Oh fandom, how I love thee.

By the time I realized that ‘shipper was short for relation-shipper I was already in too deep.  I probably got sucked into fandom around the age of twelve or thirteen.  In retrospect, I was much too young to be there, but there I was anyway.  It started with CSI, then House, NCIS, and all the procedurals.  I watched for the characters, and stayed through the changes.  Ships may come and go, but shipping itself is forever.

A note: some of these contradict each other.  I don’t care.  I ship it.  Shipping is not rational, it is completely based on my whims, and this is how I feel damn it.

Books
Harry/Ginny – Harry Potter
Luna/Neville – Harry Potter
Jessica/Marcus – Jessica Darling Series
Nancy/Ned – Nancy Drew
Nancy/Frank – Nancy Drew
Mary/Bert – Mary Poppins

Movies
Jack/Elizabeth – Pirates of the Caribbean
Jack/Rum – Pirates of the Caribbean
Jack/Jar of Dirt – Pirates of the Caribbean
Captain/Maria – The Sound of Music
Rapunzel/Flynn Rider – Tangled
Tarzan/Jane – Tarzan
Jessie/Buzz – Toy Story
Tony Stark/Pepper Potts – Iron Man

Television
Josh/Donna – The West Wing
CJ/Toby – The West Wing
CJ/Danny – The West Wing
Donna/Sam – The West Wing
Gabby – NCIS
Tiva – NCIS
Harm/Mac – JAG
Chuck/Sarah – Chuck
Nine/Rose – Doctor Who
Rose/TenToo – Doctor Who
Eleven/Idris – Doctor Who
Two/Jamie – Doctor Who
Liz/Bailey – The Good Guys
Casey/Dana – Sports Night
Jeremey/Natalie – Sports Night
Spuffy – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Willow/Tara – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Angel/Cordelia – Angel
Fred/Westley – Angel
Victor/Pria – Dollhouse
Topher/Adelle – Dollhouse
Sybill/Branson – Downton Abbey
Anna/Mr. Bates – Downton Abbey
Snow/Charming – Once Upon A Time
Cora/Rumple – Once Upon A Time
Emma/Hook – Once Upon A Time
Leslie/Ben – Parks and Rec
Parker/Elliot – Leverage
Sophie/Elliot – Leverage
Parker/Nate – Leverage

Mini-series
Glitch/DG – Tin Man
Alice/Hatter – Alice

Web
Penny/Billie – Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
Cheeks/Brady – Husbands
Dizzie – The Lizzie Bennett Diaries
Cereal Guy/Faux Fur Girl – Hipsterhood
Jack/Mitchelle – The Outs

Thoughts of Oz

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If there’s one thing you should know about me it’s that I am a HUGE Wizard of Oz fan.  Ever since I was little kid I’ve been a fan of the book and the many that followed.  Judy Garland movie?  Yes.  Wicked?  Read the books and seen the show three times?  Tin Man?  Own it.  Anything having to do with Oz, Ozma, and Dorthy will be watched by me.

So when I heard about Oz: The Great and Powerful?  I knew it was only a matter of time.  Perhaps a little more time than I would have liked, but a matter of time.  Last weekend I saw it in 3D at The Grove.  Side note: The Grove is sort of like DisneyLand.  Sweet Oz do I have feels on this one.  Good and bad, technical and narrative.

Oz: The Great and Powerful is to the wizard as Wicked is to the Wicked Witch of the West.  It creates an origin story for the Wizard and his adventure of how he first came to power.  Along the way it also creates an alternative origin story for the Wicked Witch of the West and creates a background from which the original story can emerge.

The movie looked fantastic.  The move from black and white to color was a lovely nod to the Judy Garland movie, and the visuals were stunning.  As I mentioned I saw it in 3D, more due to time than wanting to (What can I say, I’m cheep), but I’m so glad I did.  The effect was not wasted as fireworks, flying minions, and cheerful creatures jumped off the screen towards me.  I did notice that some of the faster movements were a bit blurry.  Perhaps the 48 fps of The Hobbit would have been beneficial here?

I appreciated the women of Oz taking a strong role in the plot, but couldn’t help but feel they could have been stronger.  One of the messages that Oz stories have always taught me is that girls and women can be the driving force of their own destiny.  While they have always had a galaxy of friends for support, the women of Oz never needed to be saved in the traditional sense.  I didn’t see that in this story.

These women of Oz were… petty?  Theodora comes in to explain how Oz is the only one who can safe the kingdom.  She jumps very quickly from “let me show you how our world works” to “I’ll be your queen and live happily ever after.”  Scary fast transition right there.  And when he leaves her she is so easily convinced by Evanora that revenge is the best way.  My dear, my dear.  And this is how sisters treat each other?  Not in my Oz.

Even Glinda the Good is very quick to jump on the “only a man can save us” boat.  Yeah, yeah prophesy and all that, but look at the world Glinda rules.  Tinkers, and Munchkins, and Farmers, that’s not so bad.  Not only does she jump on the Oz-boat really fast, she also ends up with him.  I – for one – am not convinced that there was enough of a change to warrant jumping into a relationship with him.

While the women of Oz were a big disappointment, the visuals and the way they used Ozian legend were two huge wins.  I loved the use of Chinatown and the China Girl in the movie (though technically she should have frozen into a figurine once she left the city).  They correctly reference Gillikin country, Munchkinland, and other geographical features of Oz.  I wish there had been more, but I was pleased with what was.

Overall, I’d say this was an okay movie.  The visuals were superb, but I was quite disappointed with the plot and the characters.  I expect a lot out of Oz, and this movie didn’t deliver what I had hoped.  While I will continue to look to this a way of visualizing the Land of Oz, I’m not sure how much of their explanation will make it’s way into my personal Oz cannon.  I suppose only time will tell.

It Has To Be Done

I wasn’t going to do a Harry Potter post.  I really wasn’t.  Only, now it’s 1 in the morning and I’ve been on Tumblr for hours.  I think this sort of has to be done because how else am I going to get past it?  The short version: I got there at 6:30 and didn’t get home til 4, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.  From waiting in line for ages, all the way through unexpected friends and a crowded bus ride.  (Spoilers under the cut)

Movie first, other stories of the night second (mostly because in all my Tumblr reading I’ve been skipping to what they think of the movie).

First of all it was absolutely beautiful.  They truly did a wonderful job.  The white out in the beginning and near the end were wonderful.  The camera tricks so that it’s not as obvious that Emma is taller than Dan were fun to notice.  And the special effects were spectacular.  Every single detail was conceived, detailed and executed beautifully.

There was some unexpected greatness too.  Things like Ravenclaw’s Diadem, and the Room of Requirement. The Chamber of Secrets again and “Harry talks in his sleep.”  My favorite sequence was seeing the castle as charms and enchantments were set up to protect it.  The army of stone statues coming alive and Professor McGonagall, “I’ve always wanted to use that spell.”

People too.  People like Luna, Aberforth, Helena Bohnam Carter being Hermione, Neville.  NEVILLE!  I could write a whole paragraph about Neville and how I knew he would be something.  Even before I read it in the book, I knew his story was going to turn out amazing, but I didn’t expect it to be what it was.  I was unprepared for the awesomeness of Neville, running for his life from Death Eaters while the bridge collapsed behind him, pulling the sword out of the hat, and fancying Luna.  Adorable!!

I knew going in that I would probably cry, though I honestly wasn’t even sure what parts would affect me the most.  I cried the most I think when I realized (for the second time, I remember realizing this while reading the book too) that Harry went to the forbidden forest, knowing he was going to die, without saying goodbye to Ginny.  I was already crying, but that realization brought on fresh tears.

Crying was also fueled by the fact that the entire audience was crying.  I thought I was doing okay.  And then I heard sobs coming from all around me and I completely broke down.  Absolutely heartbreaking.

 My favorite part of the whole thing was the incredible experience of watching it with a crowd.  Along with the crying, there was the moments where everyone held their breath because they knew what was coming.  As Fred and George asked each other if they were ready for battle, as characters died, and (my favorite) as Mrs. Weasley cursed at Bellatrix.  While Voldemort killed Snape my friend Brittnay broke down next to me.  We held hands and sobbed together until Harry got to King’s Cross Station.

We stayed until the very end.  Talking with other people who stuck around to see the credits in their entirety.  Discussing favorite parts and confusion together.  Cheering for actors and special effects people.  Not really wanting it all to end.  When we left the theater we stood outside waiting for rides and running into other friends without even knowing they were going to be there.

I knew of some people who were going to be there and kept an eye out, but the ones I ran into were really just crazy random happenstances.  Some friends of my class were there together from Marin in a different theater and we hung out together in line.  Once we had been let into the theater, the one guy I knew the least came over to our theater just for kicks.  He decided — after just generally being awkward/embarrassing earlier — that since there was no place to sit he would sit on me.  Great.  (leading to a whole discussion later of are other people awkward around me, or am I the awkward one?)

On the way home one of my friends and I were on the most crowded late-night bus I’ve ever been on.  There was a guy behind me who kept moving around, I had my backpack on and did a mental check of where are my valuables.  My wallet was zipped deep in my backpack, and my pen (which had earlier been in the change pocket of my backpack) was clipped to my shirt.  About halfway home the guy rushed the back door, screaming “Let me out, let me out!” followed by, “That guy stole my wallet!”  I double checked my wallet (it was there) and the change pocket of my backpack was open.  So glad all that was there was a bandanna and chap stick.

Altogether quite an eventful night that I’m so glad to have gotten to experience.