Tagged: pop culture

Martha Thomases: Attack of the Con Brain!

People with cancer describe a phenomenon they call “chemo brain,” a side effect of the tumor-killing drugs that also destroys their short-term memory. I would like to coin another term.

Con brain!

Con brain is what happens to an otherwise mature adult after several days spent in the company of a hundred thousand comic and pop culture fans enclosed in a relatively small space for a comic book convention.

My experience started out simply enough. My friend, Vivek Tiwary, was on a panel at Jim Hanley’s Universe on “A Celebration of Pop Music Comics”, and he wanted me there, since I helped him to get the deal for his graphic novel with Dark Horse. The panel included friendly faces like David Gallaher and Jamal Igle. To my surprise, it also included Punk Magazine editor John Holmstrom, whom I’ve known for decades and who, in my opinion, is the most ripped-off person in comics and graphic design (a bold statement, I know, and too long an explanation for this column. Ask me later). Both Vivek and John gave me shout-outs, proving that I am the most important person in the rock’n’roll/comics intersection.

The next day, I went to the Javits Center early for a meeting. As it turned out, the hall was closed to anyone but exhibitors until later in the afternoon, but I know how to stride in with a group like I belong, so that wasn’t an issue. Everything went swimmingly. Alas, I made the mistake of leaving the hall, and had to use my hard-won knowledge of the building’s labyrinthine tunnels and hallways to get back in.

By the time the show actually opened, things quickly got so crowded and noisy that I couldn’t hear any of the people with whom I was walking, nor could I see where I was going. I went home, put a cat on my lap, and chilled.

On Friday, I had the most surrealistic experience of the show. I attend a bereavement support group that meets near 34th Street. When it was over, I walked to the center, going past Herald Square and Macy’s, Penn Station, Madison Square Garden, and large swaths of Manhattan with office buildings. And, interspersed with tourists, people with jobs on their lunch hour, and the normal New York horde, were people in costumes heading west. If anybody but me thought it was odd to see anime characters and guys with capes and masks walking down the street, they kept it to themselves.

From then on, all is a fog. I saw more people I like (including Walter Simonson, whom I might have hugged a little bit too long). I got hit in the face with more backpacks. I ruined more pictures by walking between the photographer and the subjects, because, I’m sorry, but just because you are in costume doesn’t mean you get to take up an entire aisle.

Still, I noticed a few things. It seemed to me that almost half the attendees were female, a huge change since I started going to these things. I don’t know if shows like The Big Bang Theory have reassured girls that they can handle geek culture, or if there are simply more of us out of the closet, but it’s a much better feeling from my first shows, when women would confide in me that they were followed into the bathroom by guys who couldn’t believe they were really girls at such an event.

Perhaps as a result, there were fewer artists in Artists Alley promoting characters with gigantic breasts and other impossible tricks of anatomy. I only remember one, whose super heroine had breasts started just under her clavicle and ended at her armpit. I mean, I like a little uplift, but, you know, ouch.

By the end of the show I sounded like every character in every action movie ever made, muttering “I’m getting too old for this shit.” I’m starting to feel that, as a short older person, I need to be lifted up on a chair and taken around the rooms carried by four shirtless body-builders, like a sultan from a Bob Hope sketch.

Still, I was moved by this story on the Bleeding Cool website, comparing four days at a comics convention to a religious experience. I envy those of you who get to experience this for the first time.

It’s a treasure. Don’t bury it.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman


The Point Radio: WALKING DEAD Strolls Into Season 3

The third season of AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD has struck, and we begin our extensive look at what waits ahead. To start, EP Glen Mazzera along with actors Steven Yeun and Andrew Lincoln tackle the time jump and how they managed to pick up the pace for the new episodes. Plus George Romero says he’s coming to Marvel, and those bumper stickers paid off – Agent Coulson DOES live.

We cover NEW YORK COMIC CON – live from the floor – all weekend on The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

The Point Radio: 30 ROCK Gets Ready To Exit

We are losing some good shows this television season, not the least of which is NBC’s 30 ROCK. We talk to Jack McBrayer (Kenneth) and EP Robert Carlocke about how they are making the exit graceful, plus Stan Lee is gonna sue somebody and CBS fires the first “cancelled” bullet.

We cover NEW YORK COMIC CON – live from the floor – all weekend on The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

The Point Radio: ARROW Is Heroes Without Super

She’s not really evil, but she plays it well. Lana Parilla, the Evil Queen from ABC’s ONCE UPON A TIME, fills us in on where the show is headed and how magic will be her best and worst friend in episodes to come. Plus more on The CW’s ARROW including just what comics Steven Amell (Oliver Queen) used for research, and remember Patrick Duffy as a super hero? Here comes the MAN FROM ATLANTIS reboot!

We cover NEW YORK COMIC CON – live from the floor – starting Thursday on The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

REVIEW: Star Trek: The Next Generation 365

Star Trek: The Next Generation 365
By Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdman
Abrams Books, 744 pages, $29.95

Let me state upfront that Paula and Terry have been friends for a long time, but I adamantly maintain that they were the ideal people to write Star Trek 365 and the recently released Star Trek: The Next generation 365. Why? Because Paula has been intimately involved with the franchise since the 1980s and knows every nook and cranny within Paramount Pictures to find rare images or information. Terry is an experienced film publicist and has a keen understanding of what people like to know and has an engaging way of sharing that with enthusiasm.

Being the series’ 25th anniversary makes this a nice companion volume to the series; chock full of images, architectural and production drawings, special effects pictures, and some on set antics. Every episode from each of the seven seasons receives not only a brief synopsis but then stories about the show, told from a wide variety of angles. You get some of the best known tales such as the banana clip that became Geordi’s VISOR to lesser known stories in how episodes were conceived. Some of the best are the ones demonstrating how a kernel of a story lingered until the right opportunity, or the right writer, or both, arrived to solve the conundrum. A good example is how long it took to produce the acclaimed “Darmok”.

Given how many images Paula approved for use through the years, she knew which ones to avoid in the hopes of finding a fresh look at the series. One approach meant leaning more towards the black and white shots the still photographer took that have rarely been used, and that adds a nice quality to the book. Many of these are behind-the-scenes and between takes shots of the cast relaxing, prepping or goofing off.

To find fresh nuggets of information about the 178 episodes, the pair interviewed dozens of people who worked on the show over the eight years it took from conception to finale. As a result, they got not only interesting new anecdotes but found additional graphics for use, especially from production designer Richard James and visual effects producer Dan Curry. Effects associate Eric Alba is also credited for coming up with a variety of candid photos for use. All of this enriches the book and ensures that it’s not a retread of previously seen images or twice-told tales.

The comes with a foreword by Ronald D. Moore, who got his big break with an unsolicited script and has gone on to a creative career among the stars. The 365 series of pop culture books are nice, compact treasure troves that are well worth a look.

John Ostrander: Don’t Mess With The Bird

So, the first Presidential Debate of 2012 is over. Romney appears to have won it, President Obama mostly didn’t show up, and moderator Jim Lehrer took an early retirement. So what’s the big take away from the event?

Mitt Romney wants to deep fry Big Bird.

What Romney actually told Lehrer was “I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS,” adding, “I like PBS. I like Big Bird. I like you, too.” Earlier this year, he told Fortune magazine “Some of these things, like those endowment efforts and PBS I very much appreciate and like what they do in many cases, but I just think they have to stand on their own rather than receiving money borrowed from other countries, as our government does on their behalf.”

Of course, the fact is that the government doesn’t borrow from other countries specifically to pay for NPR and PBS. They borrow mostly to pay for the war in Afghanistan or, as they have in the past, the war in Iraq which they did to a very large degree. As Neil deGrasse Tyson trenchantly tweeted, “Citing PBS support (0.012% of the budget) to help balance the Federal budget is like deleting text files to make room on your 500 gig hard drive.”

But let’s leave that aside for a moment. Let’s leave aside all the policy wonk moments and the substantive issues and who lied and how much. This is a pop culture column so let’s focus on the pop culture moment – Sesame Street. Big Bird. That’s what they’re really talking about on Twitter, Facebook, and the blogosphere. And the message is that Romney wants to kill Big Bird.

That’s not what the man said. Agree with him or not, he doesn’t think that public funds should go to fund public television. I don’t happen to agree with him (any of you who don’t understand that I’m a liberal and support President Obama haven’t been paying attention) but I understand his view.

It seems to me that the comment was an off-the-cuff remark made in an almost jocular manner. After months of preparation (some would say years), Romney appears to have made an off-the cuff-remark and shot himself in the foot with it and then inserted the foot in his mouth. From the response, you’d think that Big Bird had replaced the eagle as our national emblem. And a reasonable question is – why?

One of my favorite moments in Oceans 13 (the second best of the Ocean films) is when a very irate Al Pacino is telling a very cool (as always) George Clooney that he’s going to get some guys after Clooney’s Danny Ocean and they know how to really hurt a guy. I’m paraphrasing all this but Ocean replies, “I know all the same guys you know and they like me better.”

That’s the deal here. Romney personalized his opposition to funding certain endowments. He could have left his point with the concept that he didn’t think the federal government should help subsidize things like PBS and, hence, Sesame Street. Instead, he adds Big Bird’s name to the conversation. A whole generation has grown up with Big Bird. Moms have planted kids in front of Sesame Street for several generations. They trust it. And the message that got carried was that Romney will make it go away.

Romney doesn’t get the impact of Sesame Street or of Big Bird. He certainly didn’t grow up watching it (neither did I; different generation) and maybe his kids didn’t, either. It’s not of real value to him and so he sees no problem if it disappears. Twitter, Facebook, and the blogosphere are suggesting that it matters to a lot of people.

To paraphrase Danny Ocean, we know Big Bird, Governor Romney, and we like him better.

MONDAY: Mindy Newell


The Point Radio: ONCE UPON A TIME Still Magic

ONCE UPON A TIME is into it’s second season, and magic is back in a big way. We talk to Snow White herself, Ginnifer Goodwin, about the challenges she has plus creators Adam Horowitz and Ed Kitsis recall just a year ago when critics said the show was doomed. We also begin our look at ARROW, set to premiere Wednesday on the CW and bringing a new twist to the familiar DC hero, plus Robyn Schneider helps us (and The Doctor) to part with The Ponds!

Don’t miss a minute of pop culture news – The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Martha Thomases: Could Obama Rescue Michelle From The Joker?

Deadlines being what they are, I’m writing this before the first Presidential debate, and you are reading it after. By now, all the various news agencies, pundits and comedians will have picked out the most salient points and decided who “won.” I’m sure I also have opinions by this time, and I assure you that I am right.

However, this has nothing to do with pop culture in general, nor comics in specific. And I’m having trouble thinking about anything else.

As the kind of nerd who was on the debate team in high school, I’m a little bit affronted that they call these televised events “debates.” There is not a thesis, and it is not set up so that one side argues for it and the other side against. There are no definitions of terms. Instead, there are specific questions, defined amount of time for each candidate to answer, the other candidate to respond, and so on, for an hour and a half. Everything is micro-managed, from the height of the podia to the lighting, and both sides have minions who will run out and declare their respective candidate the winner, no matter what is actually said.

It’s about as spontaneous as a Papal mass. And about as persuasive.

You know the debates are boring because, when they are presented in popular entertainment, suspense has to be added. For example, in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, when they depicted the famous Lincoln/Douglas debates, they added, well, vampires.

What if candidates for elected office debated the way characters do in comics? You know, with fighting?

My personal favorite examples of this are the Green Lantern/Green Arrow stories by my beloved Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. The two main characters argue about their respective world-views while shooting arrows, leaping over rooftops, flying through the air, and, sometimes, facing off against little blue aliens.

It would be wonderful if there were similar obstacles presented in our political debates. We would have the opportunity to not only hear the different viewpoints of the candidates, but also observe their problem-solving skills in action. Obama might have rescued the auto industry, but can he rescue Michelle from the clutches of the Joker? Romney boasts of his business experience, but can he fend off a hostile takeover from Intergang? Forget Ahmadinejad, would either man allow a Doctor Doom to speak at the UN?

And after they fight, can they team up and solve the problems together? That would not only increase the ratings for the debates, but improve our level of discourse.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman and the Old Guys League of America


The Point Radio: What Will You Miss About FRINGE?

As Fox airs the final episodes of FRINGE, we talk to series John Noble about what he loved most about the show, the characters and in particular, Walter Bishop and J.J. Wyman gives us some hints on how it will all play out up to the finale. Plus more on why WAREHOUSE 13 works so well, Stan Lee is on the mend and The 2013 Oscars, ala Seth McFarlane.

Don’t miss a minute of pop culture news – The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

FIGHT CARD Announces Another New Pulpster on the Line Up!

Fight Card scores another main event by bringing New Pulp maven Tommy Hancock into the Fight Card Team.  Hancock will get his shot at a Fight Card title in early 2013, adding another exciting installment to the Fight Card canon.
Tommy is a writer, editor, publisher, podcast host, and audio voice actor, but beyond all those things he is first and foremost a fan.  Pulp, comics, movies, TV, old time radio, and new audio drama, Hancock is steeped in all sorts of pop culture up to the brim of his fedora. 
A partner in and Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, Hancock is also one of the leading figures in the organization of the New Pulp Movement.   Aside from Pro Se, Hancock is also an editor and writer for Moonstone Books, and editor for Kerlak Publishing as well as having written for Airship 27Age of AdventurePulpwork Press, and a few companies where work is still up coming. 
The founder and organizer of Pulp Ark, the Official New Pulp Convention, Hancock is also the founder, organizer, and one of the four hosts of PULPED! The Official New Pulp Podcast. 
His novel Fight Card: Fight River will be published in March 2013
Twitter: @IdeasLkBullets