Today is young adult fantasy writer Tamora Pierce’s 53rd birthday. Pierce is most famous for creating young heroines, most memorably, the medieval transvestite, Alanna of Trebond from the series, The Song of the Lioness. The noble-born girl wants to become a knight and goes the way of Hilary Swank a la Boys Don’t Cry (minus the rape, but being up against a dragon is no fun either). Either way, those young female readers need their empowerment stories any way they can get them. Cross-dressing knight heroines is as good a way as any.
Tamora is probably best known to comics fans as the co-author of the recent White Tiger miniseries for Marvel starring former FBI agent Angela Del Toro, taking off from Brian Bendis’s run on Daredevil.
How can we let it go by without acknowledging the great squid pirate, the undead stepdad, the aged rockstar, the bad ass vampire lord, and Slartibartfast?
In case you missed those references, please get a Netflix account (that way you don’t have to leave your man-cave, you hermit) and rent Pirates of the Caribbean, Shaun of the Dead, Love, Actually, Underworld (both 1 and 2) and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He’s one crafty shape-shifter. We won’t really examine his dramatic works on Broadway, the West End, or Oscar nominated pieces because we all know those are just boring.
Way to have that career surge at mid-life, sir, and a happy birthday to you.
Today is the birthday of one of Hollywood’s most employed make-up artists, Rick Baker. Baker made an impressive career start on The Exorcist, helping make the otherwise innocent Linda Blair into a believable demon. He went on to films like Star Wars, The Rocketeer, Men in Black, The Nutty Professor, Planet of the Apes, Hellboy and many, many others.
He was also the first person to ever win an Academy Award for Best Makeup for An American Werewolf in London (pictured here) and he’s won five more since.
The Maine based American comics artist is apparently still at it, but Frank is most famous for drawing DC’s The Secret Six and Marvel Comics’ Dazzler and Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. In addition, he was also responsible (along with National Lampoon / Saturday Night Live writer Michael O’Donoghue) for one of the first risque, adults-only graphic novels, TheAdventures of Phoebe Zeit-Geist. What with Ms. Phoebe finding herself in brutal, not light nor playful bondage situations, Springer may have been one of the first to bring the whole cartoon fetish/borderline porn trend to the intelligencia in the pages of The Evergreen Review.
With one thing leading to the next, we might even want to blame him for Hentai.
This column is finally up to installment #42. As you well know, that’s said to be the answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything. And now that I’m 50 years old, I’m supposed to be ever much smarter than I used to be, and ever so much closer to achieving the enlightenment that’s supposed to help me understand the questions to that answer.
Don’t you believe it. It’s a good thing life is a constant learning experience, although it’s a bit disheartening that the more I live the more there remains for me to learn. I can’t be the only one who constantly feels like I’m treading water, or running in place just to keep up.
Last night many Jews began the annual commemoration of Chanukah (or Hanukkah or Channukah or Throat-Warbler Mangrove), the Festival of Lights, not to be confused with Diwali, the Festival of Light marking the victory of good over evil, and uplifting of spiritual darkness, which seems to predate it by a good many centuries. Chanukah marks the rededication of the Second Temple (after it was desecrated by Antiochus IV Epiphanes at the time of the Maccabee rebellion, a couple hundred years before that Jesus guy came along) and the miracle that one day’s worth of consecrated olive oil wound up burning for eight (the length of time it took to process a new batch). So instead of celebrating something cool like the uplifting of spiritual darkness, in the hands of the Jews the festival became the glorification of frugality, of making a little go a long way.
Then the Christians came along and, within another few centuries, had converted massive populations and co-opted their festivals so that Midwinter (the winter solstice) practices became part of Christmas, which grew and grew into a general celebration of plenty and excess and cheer (except for those people who insist on missing the point by suggesting Santa is a "bad role model" because he’s fat and jolly; no no, can’t have any happy large people around during the months when it’s customary to fatten up to stave off cold and hunger!). And you know, given the choice between a whooping it up over how fortunate one is to have enough to eat and how dire one’s circumstances are that one has to burn the midnight oil for a week — well, let’s just say it’s easy to see how one can become so popular it’s no longer solely Christian or even pagan but practically secular, where the other is forever relegated in the public consciousness to second-place status and an excuse to teach lessons in multicultural inclusion.
Jon Stewart, American comedian, iconic host of Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show" and hero to geeks all over turns 45 today. In an era of corruption and cynicism, Stewart leads the pack in irreverent humor. His open criticism of the Bush administration and personality punditry shows gives its viewers hope in the face of governmental disappointment. Granted, the president and his cronies have provided Stewart with ample material, but faced with the alternative, I think we would all prefer that Stewart have to work harder to make fun of the times at hand than have them so tragically, if easily, at his disposal.
Happy Birthday, Jon– and hell, if we can’t cry about it, thanks for helping us laugh.
Obligatory comics related video. Damn, he’s young.
On this day in 1963 on BBC television at 5:15 pm, viewers saw a notice about the assasination of John F. Kennedy, and then saw something not unlike this:
…and with that, Doctor Who began its 44 year hold on England’s psyche, racking up the title of longest running science fiction television series, and after a brief respite it shows no signs of slowing down. No longer a victim of creative low budget special effects, the show’s addictive formula, excellent casting and impressive cameos have made it a household favorite across the pond, and a closet favorite at home.
On this day in 1995, Disney and Pixar released Toy Story, the first full length CGI movie. It grossed $191,773,049 in the United States and it went on to take in a grand total of $354,300,000 worldwide, and was nominated for three Academy Awards, including for Best Original Screenplay, for Joel Cohen, Pete Docter, John Lasseter, Joe Ranft, Alec Sokolow, Andrew Stanton and… Joss Whedon.
I plan on celebrating by playing with my t– action figures.