• Hamilton


    We saw Hamilton at Playhouse Square over the weekend. The tickets were our big “family” Christmas present, and we all had a blast. I was reminded of something that happened a few years ago.

    March 6, 2019

    We’re on the way home one evening last week. He’s singing “My Shot” from Hamilton in the back seat.

    “Only nineteen but my mind is older
    These New York City streets get colder, I shoulder
    Ev’ry burden, ev’ry disadvantage
    I have learned to manage, I don’t have a gun to brandish
    I walk these streets famished
    The plan is to fan this spark into a flame…”

    He pauses.

    “Can I have a Tier 1 swear?” he asks. “It’s part of the song.”

    I laugh. How can you not laugh? “Go ahead.”

    “But damn,” he continues, “it’s getting dark, so let me spell out the name,
    I am the
    We are meant to be
    A colony that runs independently.”

    Another pause. “Can I have one more?”

    “Yeah,” I say, chuckling. “Keep going.”

    “Meanwhile, Britain keeps shittin’ on us endlessly.”

    He continues, and I randomly belt out “Her-cu-les Mulligan!”

    He stops. “That part has an f-bomb in it. I’m not comfortable with that.”

    I laugh again, but only on the outside. Inside, I’m crying. For the innocence that remains in him, but is rapidly being eaten up by the world. I want to stop the car. Stop the world. Stop everything and let him be innocent for awhile longer. The highway is flying by at sixty-five miles per hour, but his life is going so, so much faster. So much childhood already behind him; thirteen years and only yesterday he first filled his lungs with air and announced his arrival to the world; only an hour ago he took his first steps; just five minutes ago he climbed on the bus to go to kindergarten.

    Tomorrow: a cell phone, a car, a job, a place of his own, a soulmate. Give me a minute to catch my breath, kid. Slow down. Let today last another few hours.

    Time has stubbornly marched on, as we all knew it would. He’s a junior in high school today. He’s been playing the alto saxophone in the marching band since the summer of 2020 (just a few short months after having surgery on both his Achilles tendons that required he be in casts for six-plus weeks); he had his first job in the summer of 2021; he plays the baritone saxophone in the jazz ensemble; this past fall he was the lead in a play; next month, he’s playing the tenor saxophone in the orchestra pit for a musical; he’s passed the written exam and gotten his temporary driver’s license (we’ve only practiced driving twice, mostly due to his hectic schedule).

    Next week he’ll be seventeen. In a few short months: a high school senior. But he’ll always be two, jamming a cotton swap up my nose to be helpful; he’ll always be five, frowning at me because the line to get into Hogwarts is too long; he’ll always be eight, creating waffle-based superheroes; he’ll always be nine, going to his first concert with me (“Weird Al” Yankovic at Nautica); he’ll always be thirteen, in the backseat of the car, asking if it’s okay to sing “damn,” because it’s part of the song.

    January 13, 2011. Waiting in line at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
    December 31, 2022. Waiting for Hamilton to start at the State Theater in Playhouse Square.
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)


    Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Teaser Poster)Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

    Starring Shia LeBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Ramon Rodriguez, Isabel Lucas, Hugo Weaving, Frank Welker and Eeyore

    Directed by Michael Bay

    SPOILER ALERT: These innocent-looking words may transform into evil, plot-revealing spoilers without further warning.

    Michael Bay is often the object of much scorn and derision for directing films that favor style over substance, assaulting the audience with flashy special effects and booming soundtracks while seeming to eschew such things as character development and  coherent storytelling. In spite of this, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen made thirty-seven bazillion dollars 1Net. over the course of its opening weekend.

    Did I say “in spite of this”? I meant “because of this”.

    The reason Michael Bay’s second Transformers movie made a metric ton of money despite reviews that are almost universally negative is simple: Michael Bay understands that the modern movie theater is tailor-made for big, explodey, in-your-face films featuring frenetic action and jaw-dropping special effects that push the audience right to the edge of sensory overload and keep it there for nearly two solid hours. Bay’s brand of filmmaking has all the elements that compel me (and millions of people like me) to step up to the ticket counter and plunk down eight or nine (or ten) of their hard-earned American dollars in exchange for a hundred and twenty or so minutes of larger-than-life, mind-numbing eye candy.

    Mock me if you will. Call me a philistine. I’ll gladly cop to that charge. Why? Because when the theater shakes to the rafters each time Optimus Prime’s massive metal fist smashes into a Decepticon’s face it completely drowns out the sound of cell phones ringing. When a flaming meteor pummels a giant aircraft carrier, I can’t hear the people behind me—you know the ones; the couple who insist on maintaining a running narrative throughout the entire film—yeah, I can’t hear a word they’re saying, nor can I hear the baby crying off to my right. As an added bonus, those giant transforming robots beating the bolts out of each other in a fight sequence so fast-paced my eyes and brain can barely keep up renders me all but unable to even notice the jackass in the next row updating his Facebook status from his iPhone. It’s sheer bliss.

    Compelling characters? Subtle, nuanced performances? Thought-provoking narrative? Please! That stuff has no place on a forty-foot-wide screen rendered in so much digital brilliance that I can count the sympathetic protagonist’s eyelashes as the camera zooms in for a close-up during his heart-wrenching, Oscar-worthy monologue. When I want to watch a film from a visionary director that provides some insight into the human condition—the sort of intellectually-stimulating high-brow cinema-as-art drivel I’ll be talking to my well-read friends about over chardonnay and canapés—I’ll buy the DVD and watch it at home. Where it’s quiet. Where no one is kicking the back of my chair. Where the only jackass with a cell phone is me.

    Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a triumph of cinema-as-spectacle. That said, it is also an awful, awful movie. All that stuff about sacrificing 2Or just plain ignoring. a decent story in the drive to push action to the forefront; it’s all true. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a film that, like most everything Michael Bay has ever touched, makes me want to give him a high-five and then drive my knee into his tender, private bits.

    The part of me that can switch off my critical brain and just enjoy the awesome sight of 40-foot-tall robots transforming into vehicles and then back into robots, all the while beating the ever-lovin’ hell out of each other doesn’t begrudge Bay one nickel of the admission price. The other part of me—the part that still geeks out over those transforming robots but cringes when one of those robots displays very obvious testicles or when the formerly-badass leader of the Decepticons is reduced to a groveling lickspittle at the feet of The Fallen or when the movie turns into Decoys 3: Alien Robot Seduction—that part howls for Michael Bay’s head on a pike.

    Revenge of the Fallen obeys some bizarre, twisted balance that I will call Bay’s First Law, which can be simply stated as follows: For every moment of awesome, there must exist an equal and opposite moment of awful. 3Bay’s Second Law: An object, particularly a vehicle, at rest will disgorge its passengers in motion—slow-motion.

    Awesome Awful
    Transforming robots. Come on, that’s right up there on the list of The Coolest Things Ever. Non-transforming robots. I’m looking at you, Ravage and The Fallen. Seriously, a robot that looks like a giant chrome kitty? Who the hell is that going to fool?
    Robots in disguise. This might be a little redundant, but it bears repeating: robots that can transform into cars and planes and tanks and motorcycles are made of awesome! 4But I’m still annoyed that Optimus Prime has a mouth. Robots in disguise…as humans. No! No, no, no! A thousand times: no! Once you give Transformers the ability to assume non-mechanical disguises you ruin them forever! You need look only as far as the Dinobots to see ample evidence of this.
    Devastator. What’s cooler than a car transforming into a giant robot? How about six or seven contruction vehicles combining to transform into a robot so big it can’t even stand upright? Devastator. What’s not cool about a robot made of seven construction vehicles? How about a pair of testicles made of wrecking balls, dangling between said robot’s legs despite the fact that none of the vehicles comprising the robot had a wrecking ball?
    Jetfire. The SR-71 Blackbird may be the coolest plane in the history of aviation; the only way to make it cooler: transform it into a giant robot… …but not if that robot is my grandpa! He has a beard and a cane, for cryin’ out loud! Oh, and here’s something you probably didn’t see coming: he can teleport. Dude, if you can teleport, why do you need wheels or wings?
    More Transformers. Revenge of the Fallen has a bunch of new Transformers, both Autobots and Decepticons. More giant transforming robots = more giant transforming robot fights. And that is cool. Yeah, but…two of those new ‘bots (Skids and Mudflap) are best described as racist caricatures, while Arcee, the only female Transfomer, 5Don’t try to think about why a Transformer ought to be female; your head may explode. is killed after only one line of dialog. Definitely not cool.

    Then there are the humans, who exist solely to allow the budget some breathing room and to remind the audience that the Autobots have to watch where they step. Bay still drools over Mikaela (Megan Fox) with his camera, 6Megan Fox’s lipstick remains unsmudged whether she’s dry-humping a motorcycle or after two days of hauling her shapely backside across the deserts of Egypt, pursued by murderous … Continue reading while Sam (Shia LeBeouf) remains the hapless, confused hero and his parents (Kevin Dunn and Julie White) provide much-unneeded comic relief.

    Whether they be searching for the elusive Matrix or stumbling (literally) through a painfully-long drug joke on an unnamed college campus, anytime the humans occupy the screen without the titular transforming robots present they drain a little more of the awesome out of the movie. Thankfully, there’s enough left that I’m waiting for my next opportunity to sit in a multiplex auditorium and have my senses overloaded by all of Michael Bay’s transforming sound and fury; even if, at the end, it signifies nothing more than meets the eye.

    1 Net.
    2 Or just plain ignoring.
    3 Bay’s Second Law: An object, particularly a vehicle, at rest will disgorge its passengers in motion—slow-motion.
    4 But I’m still annoyed that Optimus Prime has a mouth.
    5 Don’t try to think about why a Transformer ought to be female; your head may explode.
    6 Megan Fox’s lipstick remains unsmudged whether she’s dry-humping a motorcycle or after two days of hauling her shapely backside across the deserts of Egypt, pursued by murderous Decepticons. Cover the Autobots in that same lip gloss and they’d be pretty much invincible.
  • Pseudopod 147: Orifice by John F.D. Taff


    Pseudopod: the sound of horror

    I don’t have any particular aversion to needles, but I don’t feel any desire whatsoever to submit myself willingly to the tender mercies of what passes for a brush in the hands of a tattoo artist. I have my reasons, at least one of which is that I don’t trust my body to leave a tattoo where the artist puts it. The last thing I want is a faded sketch of a crippled stork on my hip that began its sad life as an awesome dragon on my shoulder.

    In “Orifice“, author John F.D. Taff posits (through his narrator’s girlfriend) that any time you poke a hole in something, there are things that will want to get in or out through that hole. And what are tattoos if not hundreds—perhaps thousands—of tiny holes?

    A word of caution: This story contains adult language, adult situations, and holes where they ought not be.

  • Annual Birthday Haul: 2009


    Is it still hip to be square? I’m thirty-six years old as of two days ago, and I won’t be this square again until 2022 (when, one could argue, I will be even squarer). Regardless of my shape, I am blessed with incredibly generous family and friends, and I now present the annual rundown of my birthday loot:

    • Iron ManIron Man (Ultimate 2-disc Edition). Iron Man currently ranks Number 1 on my list of OMG Teh Best Superhero Movies EVAR so I figured it was time I picked up a copy of the movie. The combined power of Robert Downey, Jr. and Jeff Bridges’ beards compelled me. Plus, I still haven’t spotted Captain America’s shield on Tony Stark’s workbench and I need to be able to say I’ve seen it. Yes, need.
    • The Incredible Hulk (3-disc Special Edition). The third disc in this set is a “digital copy” of the film; a special copy that can be imported into iTunes or Windows Media Player. I really, really wish there had been a 2-disc version, as the digital copy is pretty much wasted on me. Nonetheless, I imported it into iTunes and watched it Friday night. Why? Because I’m an idiot, that’s why.
    • Bram Stoker's DraculaBram Stoker’s Dracula (2-disc Collector’s Edition). I saw this movie three times during its theatrical run and have purchased the soundtrack twice (on cassette and CD). This despite the fact that the film features Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker, a casting decision that Francis Ford Coppola has alledgedly admitted was made almost entirely based on Reeves’ popularity with the ladies at the time.
    • WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer. I think I read about this one on Tor’s website not too long ago. I’m lead to believe that the novel involves the Internet achieving consciousness, which is probably not a good idea. This is an unabridged, multi-voice audiobook that I purchased with an iTunes gift card. It should have been a simple matter to transfer the book to my iPod, but thanks to some quirk of my particular installation of iTunes it took me the better part of 90 minutes (some of which was spent completely reformatting my iPod’s hard drive) to arrive at a point where synchronization occurred without iTunes claiming that my computer was not authorized to play the files (and thus not authorized to copy them to the iPod). If iTunes had a face, I would have struck it repeatedly with my fist last night.
    • Personal Effects: Dark ArtPersonal Effects: Dark Art by J.C. Hutchins and Jordan Weisman. This one is a pre-order, as the book won’t be released until June. If you’ve read this blog long enough, you know that I absolutely loved J.C. Hutchins’ 7th Son trilogy (which has been optioned by Warner Brothers). Hutchins has been pimping the hell out of Personal Effects: Dark Arts (and its podcast prequel, Personal Effects: Sword of Blood) for months on Twitter and he pretty much badgered me into buying the book.
    • Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi. Interesting fact: Hugo-award-winning science-fiction author John Scalzi and I not only live in the same state, we also share a birthday; I have now spent thirty-six years on the planet and he has been here for forty, which may mean that he is currently winning. I’ve read five of Mr. Scalzi’s novels in the past six months or so, and they’re all very satisfying.
    • Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James MorrowShambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow. Here’s an interesting premise: instead of developing the atomic bomb as a means to end World War II in the Pacific Rim, the United States develops giant, fire-breathing lizards, then sends a Godzilla-esque film (featuring an actor in a rubber monster suit, of course) to Japan as a warning. This book was recommended to me by one “willywoollove”, though I strongly suspect that that is not his real name.
    • The Big Book of Hoaxes by Carl Sifakis. I enjoy the Factoid “Big Book of…” series; I have Urban Legends, Weirdos and Conspiracies in my library.
    • Idoru by William Gibson. I read Gibson’s Spook Country a few months ago, and I recall someone saying that Idoru features some of the same characters, so I thought I’d give it a look. Spook Country, as an aside, felt kind of like Elmore Leonard doing a cyber-thriller to me. In a good way.
    • A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2) by George R.R. Martin. News that Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent, Threshold) has been cast as Tyrion in the pilot for HBO’s A Game of Thrones series reignited my interest in the books (A Game of Thrones is Book 1 of A Song of Ice and Fire). I have an ARC of A Clash of Kings, but it’s too bulky, so I figured it was high time I picked up the paperback.
    • Storm Front (Book 1 of The Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher. I read my brother’s copy of Storm Front a couple of years ago while vacationing in the Upper Peninsula. Shortly thereafter The SciFi Channel aired their short-lived The Dresden Files series, which Laura and I both enjoyed. I picked up the book because I know Laura wanted to read it and I wouldn’t mind giving it a re-read before digging into Fool Moon, the second book in the series.
    • Grave Peril (Book 3 of The Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher. Because I have a feeling we’ll tear through the first two pretty quickly.
    • Pants! Also: two belts and six pairs of socks. I thought about saying something like “because my lower half needed some birthday lovin’, too”, but I wouldn’t want that misconstrued.
    • Sony MDR-V150 Monitor Series Headphones (with Reversible Earcups). Because I needed some new headphones for when my cohort and I record The Secret Lair. It’s a podcast, you know. Do I need reversible earcups? Only if I want to look like that guy. But I do need a 6-foot cord, because anything shorter would mean sitting on Miller’s lap while we record, and that would just lead to more rumors.

    I also received a most excellent birthday song from my Toledo-based nephews via voicemail. How excellent? Well, it features “The Imperial March” from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. You know: Darth Vader’s theme. It was only the intense feeling of nerd-pride that prevented me from calling them back, Force-choking my eldest nephew over the phone and promoting one of his younger brothers. “You’re in charge now, Admiral Gabriel.”

  • TVstuff: Disable the Cable?


    “Don’t panic.”

    That’s what the Time-Warner Northeast Ohio customer service representative told me this morning. I think she was mistaking the irritation in my voice for fear. I’ve been a Time-Warner Cable television customer for all of 70 hours and already I’ve had to call customer service; this does not bode particularly well for our burgeoning relationship.

    At issue: the Viacom debacle. As near as I can figure it, Viacom wants to wring more money out of Time-Warner for channels like Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and MTV. Because apparently people still watch MTV. Time-Warner, naturally, doesn’t want to shell out the dough, claiming that they’d have to (surprise!) raise their rates.

    This morning, Viacom decided that negotiations weren’t going to cut it, so they resorted to something akin to extortion: a crawl across the bottom of their networks imploring Time-Warner customers to contact their cable provider if they didn’t want to lose shows like SpongeBob Squarepants when the ball drops in Times Square. 1Happy New Year!

    At the International House of Johnson we do occasionally watch SpongeBob Squarepants, but losing The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report would be a deal-breaker. We rarely watch anything else on Comedy Central, because 90% of the programming on Comedy Central is crap, but The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are pretty much the only two shows that Laura and I watch together.

    The Viacom crawl is, in my opinion, hitting below the belt as far as negotiations are concerned. It’s certainly not unprecedented, but it’s kind of a dirty trick. Viacom is essentially threatening to take their ball and go home if Time-Warner doesn’t play the game to their liking, but their crawl makes Time-Warner out to be the bad guy. According to one source, the price hike Viacom wants is triple the increase from their previous contract with Time-Warner, which translates (per Viacom) to roughly 25 cents per month per Time-Warner Cable subscriber. 2Time-Warner claims that this could set a precedent for other networks to demand higher rates and result in a $30-per-year increase for customers. The crawl, quite naturally, fails to mention any of this.

    But the crawl is effective. Laura asked me about it first thing this morning, as she’s not at all keen to lose Nickelodeon or Comedy Central, so I thought I’d give Time-Warner a call. The number provided in the crawl was experiencing “technical difficulties”, which I took to mean “a flood of calls from angry parents whose children want to watch SpongeBob tomorrow”.

    At this point, I know that Viacom is playing dirty, but I called Time-Warner Northeast Ohio anyway. I was greeted with an automated message assuring me that negotiations to keep the Viacom networks were underway and wouldn’t I please just hang up because that’s all they could tell me.

    Unfortunately for Time-Warner, they’re the new kid on the block as far as television providers in the International House of Johnson are concerned, and I was already annoyed to discover that having a digital cable box and subscribing to “extended basic” service is not the same as having “digital basic” service. 3Translation: Our current service plan does not include Noggin (another Viacom network, the one that features all of Kyle’s favorite shows), BBC America or the basic OnDemand features. Oh, and their installer was 30 minutes late on Monday.

    So I waited on hold for a customer service representative. Poor Barbara got a bit of an earful as I explained that, should the Viacom networks disappear from my lineup, Time-Warner’s reign as the television provider in my house would be a very, very short one. My DirecTV receiver is still active 4In fact, the television was tuned to Noggin on DirecTV when Laura saw the Viacom crawl this morning. and my digital phone service has yet to be installed, so it’s just a matter of who I call Monday morning to inform them that their services will no longer be required.

    I’m not panicking, I’m just annoyed that—having been a satellite television subscriber for seven years with only two issues that I can recall—I switched to cable and wound up on the phone with customer service after less than three days.

    UPDATE: Time-Warner CEO, Glenn Britt has issued a statement. Additionally, Viacom has allegedly threatened to block Time-Warner Cable Internet subscribers from accessing their free online content, such as episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

    UPDATE: It certainly appears that Viacom is planning to block Time-Warner Cable Internet subscribers, if the pop-ups on sites like MTV.com are any indication. So, even though I currently put pennies in Viacom’s pocket because I’m still paying for DirecTV, because my Internet access is through Time-Warner I won’t be able to access free content on ComedyCentral.com. (I’ve seen the pop-up myself on that very site.) That’s really playing dirty, Viacom.

    FINAL UPDATE (01 January 2009): Well, it looks like Time-Warner Cable and Viacom have reached a “an agreement in principle“, which means 13 million households can spend New Year’s Day in Bikini Bottom after all. As an aside, if one of your New Year’s resolutions was “no cable rate hikes”, you’re probably going to be breaking that one sooner than you expected.

    1 Happy New Year!
    2 Time-Warner claims that this could set a precedent for other networks to demand higher rates and result in a $30-per-year increase for customers.
    3 Translation: Our current service plan does not include Noggin (another Viacom network, the one that features all of Kyle’s favorite shows), BBC America or the basic OnDemand features.
    4 In fact, the television was tuned to Noggin on DirecTV when Laura saw the Viacom crawl this morning.
  • In the News: FOX pre-cancels Whedon’s Dollhouse


    Joss Whedon. Photo courtesy of RavenU on Flickr.Hot on the heels of news that Joss Whedon is re-shooting the pilot for his upcoming sci-fi/thriller series, Dollhouse, executives at FOX announced that the show has been pre-canceled.

    “We don’t anticipate that the show will appeal to a broad audience,” remarked a FOX spokesperson. “It’s just way too…’out there’ to bring in the ratings share we’ll need to compete in early 2009, so we’re pulling the plug. We’ll air three episodes out of order in January in a timeslot usually reserved for Billy Mays and Kevin Trudeau, a fourth episode will air on FSN Tennessee during the Super Bowl, and then we’ll replace it with an as-yet-untitled sitcom starring Dane Cook.”

    “[The pilot] Joss is re-shooting probably won’t even air,” the spokesperson added.

    Potential fans of the doomed series began a “Save Dollhouse” letter-writing campaign in November 2007, shortly after production was announced. FOX receives hundreds of impassioned pleas to keep the series on the air every day.

    “The response has been great,” Whedon said in a recent interview on Entertainment Insider. “I’ve been blessed with some very loyal fans.”

    When asked about rumors that most of the letters are written by one fan, Derrick Stroyer, who also continues to write similar letters pleading for the return of Firefly, another failed Whedon vehicle, the writer/director/producer/caterer replied, “Yes. Okay. A very loyal fan.”

    In the same interview, Whedon announced that he will definitely not be working on a sequel to the movie based on Dollhouse. The movie, tentatively titled Echo, will continue the storyline where the series inevitably leaves off. Echo will be in theaters on August 19, 2011. Derrick Stroyer is already in line for tickets.

    Disclaimer: I am not an entertainment news reporter. I am no more informed about the wheelings and dealings of the entertainment industry than anyone else with access to the Internet. Also, this story is a lie.

  • Preview: The Great Superhero Movie Project


    [EDIT: The Great Superhero Movie Project now has its own page. You may leave movie suggestions and/or comments here or there.]

    Mystery Men
    I’ve gotten some interesting feedback (both in the comments here and on Twitter) regarding my Top Ten Superhero Movies Since the Dawn of Time lists. Some folks agree with me, some don’t, but the question I hear most often usually begins with words along these lines: “Hey, you forgot about…”

    And I did. The first time around, I definitely snubbed Mystery Men; after the second iteration The Kingfish wondered where (or if) Hancock placed on the list, David Mead asked about Darkman and Rachel “Nycteris” Ross brought up Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

    I Have a Plan

    I’m not one to leave a stone unturned—whether that stone was bitten by radioactive bats, sent to Earth by a race of alien vampires or just found some sexy tights and decided to start kicking people in the face—so I’ve come up with a plan to turn all the stones in one fell swoop.

    Okay, two fell swoops.

    The First Swoop: My Job – Two Lists

    First, I’m going to make two lists: every superhero movie I’ve ever seen and superhero movies I know about but haven’t seen.

    The Second Swoop: Your Job – The Third List

    Second, I want you to submit movies that I’ve overlooked. Yes, you. If you’re reading this and you’re aware of a superhero movie that is not on either of my lists, I want you to comment here and tell me about it. I’ll add all of these to my third list: superhero movies I didn’t know (or forgot) existed.

    The Third Swoop: My Job – Watch, Rate, Review

    Oh, wait, there’s a third fell swoop: I’m going to watch every one of the movies on all three lists. If I haven’t seen the movie in the past two years, I’m going to watch or re-watch it and then I’m going to write a review (unless I’ve already written one, in which case I may tweak an existing review).

    Sound like fun? Sound like a lot of work? It might be, but let me set up some guidelines here so we don’t get all crazy-go-nuts with the lists. Pay attention.

    What is a Superhero Movie?

    • The “movie” part of the definition is easy: All movies, whether they were theatrical releases, straight to DVD or even made for television; if it’s a movie, it gets on the list. Note that movies made as pilots for or as direct spinoffs of a television series don’t count, so The Incredible Hulk starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno is not eligible, 1This includes The Incredible Hulk Returns, The Trial of The Incredible Hulk and The Death of the Incredible Hulk, movies that were made after the series was cancelled. Don’t worry, these will … Continue reading but Captain America II: Death Too Soon starring Reb Brown and Christopher Lee is.
    • The tricky bit of the definition is “superhero”, as I’ve already been asked whether Transformers is a superhero movie (it’s not) and if Hellboy should count (it does). I can’t exactly pin the energon cube on why Transformers doesn’t qualify; it just doesn’t. Comic book movie, yes; superhero movie, no. 2I’ll do a separate Comic Book Movie list later, so all you 300 fangirls can nominate your favorite computer-enhanced pectoral muscles. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ll decide whether a movie qualifies as superheroic or not. If you’re not sure, nominate it and if I reject it I’ll do my best to tell you why.
    • Superheroes do not need to be in or come from comic books to be eligible. The Incredibles is a great example of an original superhero movie that was not a comic book first. Black Scorpion is also an example, though under no circumstances should the word “great” be associated with it.
    • Oh, and movie serials aren’t elibigle. They’re just not.
    • If in doubt, nominate.

    The First List – Superhero Movies I’ve Seen

    1. Batman: The Movie (1966)
    2. Batman (1989)
    3. Batman Returns (1992)
    4. Batman Forever (1995)
    5. Batman & Robin (1997)
    6. Batman Begins (2005)
    7. The Dark Knight (2008)
    8. Black Scorpion (1995)
    9. Captain America (1979)
    10. Captain America II: Death Too Soon (1979)
    11. Captain America (1990)
    12. Catwoman (2004)
    13. Daredevil (2003)
    14. Darkman (1992)
    15. Darkman II: The Return of Durant (1994)
    16. Darkman III: Die Darkman Die (1996)
    17. Doctor Strange (Animated, 2007)
    18. Elektra (2005)
    19. Fantastic Four (2005)
    20. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
    21. Ghost Rider (2007)
    22. Hellboy (2004)
    23. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
    24. Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms (2006) [Added 19 July 2008]
    25. Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron (2007) [Added 19 July 2008]
    26. Hulk (2003)
    27. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
    28. The Incredibles (Animated, 2004)
    29. The Invincible Iron Man (Animated, 2007)
    30. Iron Man (2008)
    31. Justice League: The New Frontier (2008) [Added 18 July 2008]
    32. Lightspeed (2006)
    33. Mystery Men (1999)
    34. The Phantom (1996)
    35. The Punisher (1989)
    36. The Punisher (2004)
    37. The Shadow (1994)
    38. Spider-Man (2002)
    39. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
    40. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
    41. Superman (1978)
    42. Superman II (1980)
    43. Superman III (1983)
    44. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
    45. Superman Returns (2006)
    46. Superman: Doomsday (2008) [Added 19 July 2008]
    47. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
    48. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)
    49. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time (1993)
    50. TMNT (2007)
    51. Ultimate Avengers (Animated, 2006)
    52. Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther (Animated, 2006)
    53. Unbreakable (2000)
    54. X-Men (2000)
    55. X2: X-Men United (2003)
    56. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

    Okay, that’s a lot of movies, many of which I haven’t watched in well over two years. Some of them, like the 1994 never-released version of The Fantastic Four, will be a bit tricky to track down, but I’ll do my best. For science!

    The Second List – Superhero Movies I Haven’t Seen

    1. Black Mask (1996)
    2. Black Mask 2: City of Masks (2002)
    3. Black Scorpion II: Aftershock (1997)
    4. Blankman (1994) [Added 19 July 2008]
    5. Dr. Strange (1978)
    6. Fantastic Four (1994)
    7. Hancock (2008)
    8. The Meteor Man (1993) [Added 19 July 2008]
    9. Silver Hawk (2004)
    10. Steel (1997)
    11. Underdog (2007)

    That’s a short list. Much shorter than I anticipated. It may get even shorter if I decide to disqualify Black Mask and Silver Hawk in order to prevent a deluge of martial arts movies masquerading as superhero movies. A guy has to set limits somewhere, right?

    The Third List – The Ones I Don’t Know About

    Now it’s your turn: if you know of a superhero movie I missed, please leave a comment and nominate it!

    1 This includes The Incredible Hulk Returns, The Trial of The Incredible Hulk and The Death of the Incredible Hulk, movies that were made after the series was cancelled. Don’t worry, these will all be eligible for a future list: The Best Television Superheroes in the History of Televising Superheroics.
    2 I’ll do a separate Comic Book Movie list later, so all you 300 fangirls can nominate your favorite computer-enhanced pectoral muscles.
  • Stranger Things is the brainchild of writer/director Earl Newton. With the help of some very talented people, Earl has created a free monthly television series that can be downloaded with software like Democracy and iTunes and viewed on your PC, iPod, or other media player.

    Each month, Stranger Things will present a 30-minute story “about ordinary people stumbling into the secret worlds of the demons, aliens, shamans, and angels. The stories expose the bizarre and the extraordinary things happening all around us, everyday.”

    The first episode, “Sacred Cow”, is based on an original story by Scott Sigler, author of the podcast novels Earthcore, Ancestor, Infection and The Rookie. In the realm of podcast novels, Sigler is arguably king; he was recently featured in a New York Times online article 1Newman, Andrew Adam. “Authors Find Their Voice, and Audience, in PodcastsNew York Times 1 March 2007. 1 March 2007 about Podiobooks.com, where his first three novels are available as free, serialized downloads. If you’re the type who prefers ink-and-paper novels, Earthcore is available in paperback and Ancestor is slated to be released in paperback next month.

    Gordo Gordon (David Chancellor) is an autistic genius who has been in the care of Father Ralph Antonini (Elliot Stegall) for the past twenty years. When Gordo learns of research proving that prayer causes specific chemical changes in the brain, he creates a device that can “see” and record the flow of energy created when the parishioners in Fr. Antonini’s church pray during mass.

    When Gordo discovers that the prayer energy is focused upward by the high, pointed ceiling in the church, his quest to discover where the energy goes uncovers a horrible truth that could undermine the faith of billions around the world.

    “Sacred Cow” is an excellent debut for Stranger Things, showcasing the level of quality that Newton and company can deliver. From a disturbing story to fantastic special effects, an eerie theme song by cellist Zoe Keating and solid performances by the cast, the show’s production value rivals that of most anything found on network television today. I’ll definitely be tuning in next month for the second episode, titled “Discontent”, about a man whose wife wants him to clone her dead mother.

    1 Newman, Andrew Adam. “Authors Find Their Voice, and Audience, in PodcastsNew York Times 1 March 2007. 1 March 2007
  • Podcast: Planet RetCon Episode 29


    The first annual Parsec Awards—”a celebration of speculative fiction podcasts”—were presented at Dragon*Con this past weekend in Atlanta, GA and Planet RetCon was nominated for both short- and long-form audio drama. Though “The Hoff” was beaten out by The Radio Adventures of Doctor Floyd, the Planet RetCon series StarGate Café won the for long-form audio drama.

    I’ve been spreading congratulations around at The Harping Monkey and the Planet RetCon sites, but I wanted to do the same here, too. So congratulations again to Wesley Clifford (KJToo Forum frequenters know him as Yotto) and the Planet RetCon Players: Jamie Bartl, Lisa Clifford, Jeffrey Vargo and Bob (blob) Voegerl.

    If you head over to the Planet RetCon site, you’ll find the seventh episode of StarGate Café. In the aftermath of his birthday celebration, Pete (Jeffrey Vargo) finds himself in an awkward position with co-worker Katie (Jamie Bartl) and naked hilarity ensues. Featured guest voices in this episode: some dork from another podcast and Christiana Ellis, author of Nina Kimberly the Merciless, which is available from Podiobooks.com

  • Podcast: Misfit Brew Episode 15


    Imagine for a second that you are Ray “Bones” Barboni; there’s a knock at the door, you open it, and Chili Palmer’s fist connects with your nose. That’s pretty much how it went down last week: the Internet was just sitting at home, probably enjoying a cigar, when there was a knock at the door; only it wasn’t Chili Palmer at the door, it was episode fifteen of Misfit Brew.

    The new brew is big. For this episode, Mick Bradley set aside the standard 24-oz. stein in favor of a super-sized, 48-oz. monster mug filled to the brim with geeky goodness. Apart from Mick’s Misfit Musings, there’s an essay on writer’s block by Indiana Jim from the As-Yet-Untitled Podcast, Unquiet Desperado Chris Miller and Dragon’s Landing co-host Lonnie Ezell discuss Lonnie’s new book, Daughter of the Sun, Fledgling Misfit Rae Lamond returns with an essay on blogging, Mick presents his Flavor and Style Manifesto for the Vegas After Midnight tabletop and play-by-post roleplaying game, and David Moore of the After Serenity podcast presents audio fiction featuring Slick Vic, his character in the VAM play-by-post campaign.

    Bam! The Internet is laid out with a bloody nose, but the important thing is that Chili’s got his jacket back and he’s the guy telling you how it’s going to be: you’re going to download episode fifteen of Misfit Brew, or better yet, add the feed to your favorite podcatcher so you don’t miss out on future episodes.