Friday, May 31, 2013

The reason why comic book movies will always be better than actual serialized comics

I like comic books just like most other people (well maybe not as much as George R.R. Martin). However, I have to remind myself from time-to-time that comic book movie adaptations should have an open license to do anything with the characters, and I shouldn't complain.
Why would I say this? Well for starters, over time comic book writing is some of the worst that there is. Take Wolverine for example. I'm looking forward to the new movie, so I brushed up on some of the history on this character. After I did so, I came to the decision that I honestly don't care where the movie goes as long as it has a self-contained story that makes sense and has good action scenes. Here's Wolverine's history as it's evolved over time (I'll let you be the judge):

1) Wolverine was originally meant to be an actual wolverine turned into a human by the high evolutionary. His claws were part of his gloves.

2) The claws became implants created by Weapon X, and he was a mutant.

3) Someone decided he was meant to be Sabertooth's son.

4) Someone decided he had bone claws all along and they just got covered over with adamantium. Magneto exposed this by ripping all the adamantium form his body which made his regeneration insane (see number 6).

5) In the present incarnation, he isn't a mutant. He's a Lupine, which is a human-looking species that evolved parallel to humans but from wolves and not apes. There are two tribes of lupines: blond and dark-haired. They hate each other, hence Sabertooth vs. Wolverine being in conflict all the time. Other Lupines include Wolfsbane, Feral, Wild Child, and Thornn. All of them are manipulated by an elder Lupine called Romulus.

6) Originally he could heal faster than most. It evolved into an uber superpower so that at one point, he was left as a skeleton from an explosion and healed completely within seconds. To set limits, every time he dies, Wolverine had to fight the Spirit of Death to return to the living. And then they got rid of that, so he doesn't have to do it anymore. But now if he dies, this time, it's the real deal! *shocked face

And you can do the above analysis with any serialized comic book character. Spiderman, Hulk, Superman, Wonder Woman... Every single one of them from Jean Grey to Dr. Fate is a complete hot mess. And let's not even get into how every single female character now has rape in their background because "rape" makes female characters "edgy." At least that's what writers think. "Let's put a rape in the background and that explains why she's all doom and gloom now."
Comic book writing is just...SO BAD... I really understand why I no longer
buy them. Maybe that explains why I think so much of the YA genre
featuring comic book-ish heroes is bad too. Writers are emulating this crap.
But hey, it sells. So as long as the money train is rolling hop on for a ride.
To anyone that reads and appreciates good writing, comic book movies will always be better than the actual serialized comics. Yes, I said it. I don't care how bad the movie is either. Just look at the complete and utter mess Wolverine is and try to argue with me. You can't. You'll just lose.

Seriously, anyone who pokes fun at George Lucas for tampering with Star Wars over time and yet loves serialized comic books has nowhere to stand. If you're one of these people, you're a complete hypocrite. The plot holes, the continuity problems, the stuff that plain just doesn't make sense at all is the reason why comics for the most part are just examples of the most awful commercial writing available. However, because all superheroes come with six pack abs, sexy bodies and big tits, and action scenes rife with special effects, they will always make billions of dollars. That being said, I'm looking forward to the new Wolverine movie. Here's the latest trailer (it hits theaters July 26th):

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Material that's metallic and glass-like but made from cement is NOT science fiction at Argonne National Laboratory

I read about this HERE in an article by Tona Kunz.
Science, you so crazy. Transparent aluminum sounded cool when I was a kid. Who
knew the stuff was actually real? After reading the article posted as a news release
on Argonne's site, I think I just crapped my pants. And for those of you too young to
know, this is a screen capture from Star Trek IV. That's Scotty on the left and Bones on
the right. Scotty is talking into a computer mouse, because he's not used to such
primitive technology. After all, he's the chief engineer of the Enterprise.
To paraphrase Tony's article, scientists have only this month unraveled a formula for turning liquid cement into liquid metal. I know, this sounds ridiculous, and I'm trying to wrap my head around this even as I jot this down for my blog. But I can't help but think of that scene in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home when Scotty gives the secret to making transparent aluminum to a man in a Plexiglas plant. Best line from that movie (for the record) is: "THERE BE WHALES HERE!"

The process the scientists at Argonne discovered makes cement into a semi-conductor. If you're like me, you might ask "What does this mean?" and "How soon will I be able to take a transporter to and from work?" Well (unfortunately for us) there's no transporter applications yet. However, you're going to see it show up in your consumer electronics as thin films, protective coatings, and in the manufacture of computer chips. Here's a diagram of how thin films work in solar cells so you can better understand how your "cement" is going to look in the very near future:
Or if you aren't into solar panels, then how about a thin film laptop computer? Here's one in development from Cymbet Corporation using thin-film battery technology that's far superior to the clunky batteries in today's laptops. This laptop can be recharged thousands of times without ever seeing a depreciation in the time it stays charged (nice eh?), will retain its charge way better than the batteries you are using right now, will charge super fast, and doesn't have toxic chemicals to damage the environment. Imagine writing your next masterpiece on this baby.
This thing is a battery. Yeah, you read that right.
Computer chips made from cement? Yeah, it's happening. But why is it happening? Well, there's a need for materials that have resistance to corrosion (traditional metal is rather poor at resisting corrosion), that is less brittle than traditional glass (you'll be able to see through this cement), yet has conductivity, low energy loss in magnetic fields, and fluidity for ease of processing and molding. Cement can do all of this by a process called electron trapping. DISCLAIMER: I'm not going to go into what electron trapping is because, quite frankly, I can only barely grasp the concept myself.

Also, to make this stuff, they had to blast levitated cement with lasers until it melted and turned into liquid metal. You should read that last line again. THEY LEVITATED CEMENT AND BLASTED IT WITH LASERS UNTIL IT MELTED AND TURNED INTO LIQUID METAL. My reaction:
We don't just live in interesting times. We live in AMAZING times. Talk about all the fuel us science-fiction writers now have in our toolbox for genuine HARD science fiction stories...I'm truly blown away. Here's hoping that science somehow inspires you in your endeavors. Have a great Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Apple's new campus headquarters proves that Steve Jobs was from outer space

When Steve Jobs left us almost two years ago, comedians joked that he was from outer space because he gave us something so amazing, it's been described as magical. And "magical" isn't just a word I pulled out of thin air. It's from a quote I'm borrowing that originated with the NPR Podcast called This American Life, and about Mr. Daisy's visit to the Apple factory in Shenzhen, China. One of the workers who assembles the iPad gets to play with it for a while, and he uses the word "magical" to describe it.

What Mr. Jobs invented was so revolutionary that those who took the time to truly comprehend it were left speechless by his ability to envision it. Therefore, he must not be from our planet.

The joke goes even further in my own day-to-day life as I refer to the iPhone as "my miracle box." You might wonder why, and the answer is pretty simple. It's because my iPhone can do so much stuff that (a decade ago) I never could have imagined outside of Star Trek or in the least, J.J. Abrams' home. Hence, "miracle box" seems like a good nickname for such a device.

Well, it appears that if you share my thinking, the joke's on all of us now. The plans that Steve Jobs left behind for Apple's new campus headquarters to be built in Cupertino, California looks a lot like the mother ship from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Seriously, if this thing doesn't lift off into space at the touch of the red button, I will be surprised.
Expected to open in 2016 (that's election year for you Republicans who are keeping track of such things), Apple's new 2.8-million square feet facility was brought to the Cupertino city council by none other than late CEO Steve Jobs himself. Catch this little factoid: its diameter is larger than that of the Pentagon. I've been to the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and it's frickin' huge. This thing is going to dwarf that building. Impressed? *Nods head.
The building is meant to incorporate and develop much of the surrounding green space. There's going to be a system of bike lanes put in for all the health conscious tech geniuses. There's going to be bio-fueled "green" buses to take people around and to go to and from work. The facility will also house its own natural gas-burning power plant. I have a friend that says natural gas is the "fuel of America's future." Well if Steve Jobs believed in it, I think it probably means it's the number one choice of space aliens too.
Here's one of the afore-mentioned healthy tech geniuses jogging along the path that probably goes around the huge mega-structure. I guess that's what $140 billion dollars and screwing the taxpayers of America out of billions of dollars in taxes can build for you. Did any of you watch Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, address Congress on CSPAN? Cook completely "owned" them, practically having our senators lapping the dirt off of his shoes. I think Yahoo Finance (which I read to stay on top of stocks) had an article that said, "Tim Cook should tell Congress to kiss his ass." Since Congress is comprised of elected officials, that means "Tim Cook should tell the American people to kiss his ass." Nice, right?
Apple's terms and conditions page 1 of 99 as seen on the iPhone. Remember
Tim Cook says that the United States tax code could take a cue from Apple.
"We like things simple."
When asked to defend his company's practice of holing billions of dollars in tax shelters in Ireland, Mr. Cook responded (more or less), "The tax code has not kept up with the digital age. Apple thrives on keeping things SIMPLE, and Congress should do the same with the tax code. Eliminate loopholes, reduce overall rates, and make it attractive to bring overseas cash back to the United States."

So it's all your fault people. Apple likes things simple. PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THE NEXT TIME YOU READ THROUGH APPLE'S ITUNES TERMS & CONDITIONS, WHICH IS 56-PAGES LONG! Yeah, Apple wants things "Simple."

I gotcha Mr. Cook. Thanks for the advice.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Five incredible robotic suits that prove Tony Stark technology will be here in your lifetime

I work with disabled people five days a week. Seeing technologies like the ones that I'm about to show you not only blow my mind, but tell me that HALO isn't all that far into our future. Cue Master Chief...
Aside from just looking really f'ing cool, the HALO armor is just the evolution
of technologies we are seeing today. Technologies that could quite possibly
make any of us "superhuman." As an aside note, HALO is being brought to
the silver screen by Steven Spielberg. Does that excite you? It should.
Without further ado, here are five incredible robotic suits that prove Tony Stark technology will be here in your lifetime:
The Lockheed Martin HULC
1) Lockheed Martin is a defense technology developer (basically they are the real Stark Industries), and they've developed an exoskeleton fit for the battlefield called a Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC). As an aside note, I think it's awesome that the letters almost spell "HULK" as in "your favorite green muscle dude with anger management problems." The HULC can divert up to 200 pounds in weight through powered titanium legs while allowing the user to move freely. Lockheed claims that a fully laden soldier will retain the ability to march at 3 mph and even break into 10 mph sprints while wearing the battery powered HULC. The system is designed to reduce stress on the leg and back muscles and comes with a lift assist device attachment that allows a soldier to safely lift heavy loads with the strength of two or more men.
Cyberdyne HAL-5
2) Japanese firm Cyberdyne used its robot suits as the disaster-fighting protection of the future during the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in 2011. It is the first personal exoskeleton robot to receive a global safety certificate. Thus far, 330 of these things have been leased to hospitals across Japan where they are used to assist patients with muscle weakness or disabilities due to stroke and spinal cord injuries. The suit interprets faint electrical signals in the skin around damaged muscles and moves the motorized joints in response. Cool eh?
Muscle Suit by Kobalab
3) Kobayashi Labs' Muscle Suit replaces electronic actuator motors with a system of inflatable pneumatic "artificial muscles" to help nurses or care workers carry elderly or ill patients. It currently allows users to support 110 pounds with ease, carrying it with fixed arms like a walking forklift. Think of James Cameron's Aliens and the machine that Ripley uses at the end to fight the xenomorph.
The Ekso by Ekso Bionics
4) Ekso Bionics created the "Ekso" to give paraplegics upright mobility. The man in this photo is paralyzed from the waist down, and he can walk with the assistance of the "Ekso." I think that is just mind-blowing as I work with a quadriplegic who has been confined to his chair for 24 years, and things like this are giving him hope that he may be able to walk again in his lifetime. The commercial version of the Ekso has recently been made available to hospitals and rehab centers and the company hopes to have a personal version available as soon as 2014. The company claims that the Ekso weighs 50 pounds, but the one wearing it doesn't feel the weight at all. It has 4 electric motors and 15 sensors that recreate your nervous system and tie it into a computer that serves as the brain.
Chiropractor Claire Lomas used the Argo ReWalk to become the first
person to complete a marathon in a bionic exoskeleton at the London
Marathon in May 2012. Please note that this happened five years after
a horseriding accident left her paralyzed from the chest down.
5) The Argo ReWalk (pictured above on Claire Lomas) is already commercially available for $65,000, and it enables people with spinal cord injuries to walk again and can now claim 220 trained users around the world.

It's a great world we are living in. Technology, science, and human engineering are turning the imaginations of those of us who write science fiction into reality with each passing day. Superhuman is now becoming a question of "when" and not "if." Have a great weekend and remember to be inspired. :)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Ruby's Fire cover has flying red birds and a skull house that screams all kinds of YA awesome

The Ruby's Fire cover has flying red birds, blue-painted nails, and a skull house that screams all kinds of YA Awesome! What do you guys think of the cover for Catherine's new book? It's designed by Jay Montgomery, and yes I'm typing in all bold because I'm that excited! Here's more on this project brought to you by Catherine's publicist, Giselle Cormier:


Ruby's Fire
Catherine Stine
Series: Fireseed, #2 (however, can be read as a stand-alone)
Publication date:  June 26, 2013 <== Mark this on your calendar if you are a fan of the first book. If you've never heard of it, then you still have time to read it by clicking purchase HERE.
Genre: YA Sci-Fi

If everything about you changes, what remains?
Seventeen year-old Ruby, long-pledged to the much older Stiles from the Fireseed desert cult, escapes with only a change of clothes, a pouch of Oblivion Powder and her mute little brother, Thorn. Arriving at The Greening, a boarding school for orphaned teens, she can finally stop running. Or can she? The Greening is not what it seems. Students are rampaging out of control and as she cares for the secret Fireseed crop, she experiences frightening physical changes. She’s ashamed of her attraction to burly, hard-talking Blane, the resident bodyguard, and wonders why she can’t be happy with the gentler Armonk. She’s long considered her great beauty a liability, a thing she’s misused in order to survive. And how is she to stop her dependence on Oblivion to find a real beauty within, using her talent as a maker of salves, when she has nightmares of Stiles without it?

When George Axiom, wealthy mogul of Vegas-by-the-Sea offers a huge cash prize for the winner of a student contest, Ruby is hopeful she might collect the prize to rescue her family and friends from what she now knows is a dangerous cult. But when Stiles comes to reclaim her, and Thorn sickens after creating the most astonishing contest project of all, the world Ruby knows is changed forever. This romantic fantasy set in 2099 on earth has a crafty heroine in Ruby, and a swoonworthy cast, which will surely appeal to the YA and new adult audience.
This cover is seriously gorgeous! Click to EMBIGGEN
Catherine Stine in an undated photo.
Catherine Stine writes YA, New Adult and middle grade fiction. Her YA futuristic thriller, Fireseed One, illustrated by the author was granted a Bronze Wishing Shelf Book Award and an Indie Reader Approved notable stamp. Her YA Refugees, earned a New York Public Library Best Book. Middle grade novels include A Girl’s Best Friend. More and more, she’s enjoying writing speculative tales. She teaches literature at the School of Visual Arts and creative writing at the Philadelphia Writing Conference and in her own ongoing NYC writing workshop. Catherine earned a double focus MFA in Creative Writing at the New School. 

Author Links:

If you run a blog and would like to help Catherine in her book tour, please go HERE to sign up.

Have a great Thursday.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kevin Sussman from The Big Bang Theory talks candidly on writing, evil empires, and George Clooney

Stuart (played by Kevin Sussman) is on the right
I know most of you who follow me on twitter (or who read my blog) know that I love The Big Bang Theory. It's currently on hiatus for the summer. The season finale last week was pretty good (not the best) but Sheldon and Aimee broke some new ground. For the record, the best season finale was Penny's "walk of shame" out of Leonard's bedroom with Raj coming out afterward and Penny saying to Sheldon, "It's not what it looks like" thereby creating a riddle for Sheldon that lasted until the next season.
This awkward scene of Raj and Penny made for the best
season finale thus far in the CBS comedy.
Anyway, despite the fact that I thought it would be crazy wonderful if Stuart (the comic book store owner played by Kevin Sussman) and Rajesh Koothrappali managed to become a couple, it was not meant to be. That being said, I also never thought I'd get the opportunity to post an interview with Kevin Sussman. But I guess my audience is bigger than I thought because Michael Bivona, the Media Director for sent me this guest post on an interview they did with Kevin. And it actually made me squee!

And how could I say "no" to that? I love Kevin Sussman more than I like Wil Wheaton. So if you too are a fan of the comic book geek guy on BBT, read on:
Kevin Sussman Speaks
"Big Bang Theory" star on writing, evil empires, and George Clooney.

Kevin Sussman has become a ubiquitous presence in TV and movies since he was first cast in the Barry Levinson feature film Liberty Heights in 1999. He is perhaps most recognizable as Walter on the one-time ABC dramedy,Ugly Betty. Kevin’s character "Stuart Bloom" on CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, is now a series regular, and he recently guest starred on Showtime’s mini-series Weeds with Mary Louise Parker. And, along with writing partner and collaborator (Big Bang Theory co-star) John Ross Bowie,wrote a sci-fi comedy about two slackers working onboard an evil space station, Dark Minions, now an animated stop-motion TV pilot produced by Amazon Studios.

We recently talked to Kevin about his acting career and his successful foray into screenwriting.

Before we talk about your acting career tell me about your most recent success co-writing with your Big Bang Theory cast mate, John Ross Bowie.
We originally wrote Dark Minions as a live action thing and the major networks all turned it down because they all thought it was too “high-concept." That was the first time John and I had sold a script; actually, SONY optioned it and we were taking it around.  Everybody loved it but they were afraid of it. We learned really quickly what a broadcast network is willing to buy, which is basically two things: shows about friends in their 20s or a quirky family.  If you go outside those areas, you have a much more challenging road ahead.

How did the show evolve into a stop-motion project? We pitched the show to Amazon as an animated thing, and they suggested stop-motion. We love stop-motion. [British stop-motion film] Coraline is one of my favorite movies and I love the hell out of it…and I see everything that comes out in stop-motion. I was delighted. I didn’t realize it would be possible to do something as time consuming as “stop-mo” for TV. Ross Shuman (the director) had worked on Robot Chicken and the studio that did Dark Minions, Shadow Machine that created Robot Chicken.  But Robot chicken was only 11 minutes, unlike Dark Minions which is a full-length show.

But you and John had already sold a couple scripts
The following two seasons we pitched and sold shows, The Ever After Part and The Second Coming of Rob—one to Fox and one to ABC. They were family oriented and both were never made once we got through the development process, and the networks had nerfed the edgy stuff.  But, when we were doing The Second Coming of Rob they were starting to animate Dark Minions and building the sets and puppets…it was so great. To see all of these artisans constructing the mini set and sewing tiny clothes was amazing. Shadow machine was so into the script and everybody was so excited.  So, while we were getting frustrated with the network, John and I would constantly say to each other, “can we just get back to playing with our space puppets now” which is what we wanted to be doing.

What was the evolution for Dark Minions?
You know the scene in Star Wars when they’re invading the Rebel ship…and there’s this stark white, modular hallway. And I always thought, “What’s in all of those cabinets in the hallway? Do people use those?” and I wrote a scene about troopers marching by and a moment later a guy who's half-dressed comes out of a door, and goes to one of those cabinets and takes out some Cheerios and then goes back into the room. I sent that to John and he added another scene to it with the same exact tone. 

So he got the joke?
He got it immediately and we agreed to outline it and come up with a story: two guys who get jobs onboard an evil space station that don't agree with the politics, but one's got student loans to pay, and the other doesn't have a college degree.

Do you do the voice work first on something like that?
We did all the voices first and videotaped us (for scenes that had some physicality in them) so the animators have stuff to reference.  But it’s such a slow process. Normally, when you’re working on a show you get to see the dailies….on this if they’re lucky, with several different animators working at the same time you get five seconds a day…so, rather than dailies we had weeklies and at the end of the week, the cast and executives come and watch on the big screen, a minute or two of animation and it's really cool to see this stuff come to life.

What’s your history with John?
Sometimes we get mentioned online in the context of Big Bang Theory, that we met on Big Bang Theory. That’s not true. But, we’ve known each other for years when we were two geeky guys winding up on the same commercial auditions. We were those guys, working in tech settings in the corporate world. Nerds.

What kind of job did you have?
I worked at Chase Bank and Fuji Bank in the World Trade Center actually doing everything from admin assistance to basic programming. Excel and Word to I.T. stuff—just real hardcore nerd shit.  John was doing similar stuff down the block. When you’re an actor in New York, you are either a waiter or you learn Excel. 

Did you guys get together on lunch breaks? Did you hang out?
We sort of were acquaintances in NY but we’d run into each other at auditions. We really didn’t connect until I moved out to L.A. and started working on Ugly Betty.  I became good friends with Anna Ortiz (who plays Ugly Betty’s sister) and she’s good friends with John’s wife Jamie Denbo. Then we became actual friends, as opposed to acquaintances. We had already written a couple of scripts together before we coincidentally got jobs on Big Bang Theory. I'd auditioned for Chuck Lorre who had created Big Bang Theory. He originally offered me the role of Barry Kripke which John ended up getting because I was working on a movie at the time. The next thing Chuck had for me was the comic book guy. Coincidentally, He had no idea that I had worked at a comic book store for years. I worked at Jim Hanley’s Universe (comic book store) in Manhattan. It’s weird how things turn out, because had I been available for John’s role, John would have gotten the comic book guy part (I tease him about it).

It sounds like it’s a pretty effortless collaboration.
It would be impossible to do if either of us had a big ego in terms of criticism; neither of us do…we try not to be harsh…John and I work in an almost,old-school, very respectful, deliberately diplomatic way in terms of criticism of each other’s work. Not that there’s no ego, sometimes the writing is better because there’s a healthy competitiveness. When we hand something back and forth, one of us will tweak a joke to make it funnier. There’s a little bit of one-upping each other that is fun, and productive, but we also try not to hurt each other’s feelings.  

Everyone over at Big Bang Theory must be very proud of you guys?
The writers on Big Bang are really supportive of us—they tease us and say they’re going to show up and start acting in episodes of Big Bang. But they also offer comforting advice because they know how hard it is to work in the system.

Were you an improv guy like so many actors who book parts these days on sitcoms?
I know it doesn’t show but I am a traditionally trained actor. I went to the American Academy of Dramatic Art. And then I studied under Uta Hagen, a renowned actor who had been blacklisted during the McCarthy era.  John’s at Upright Citizens Brigade in an improv group with Rob Courdrey and he’s amazing at it.  I think that as collaborators we work so well, because we approach writing totally different, in that regard. He’s quick and you can see his improv background. He will take anything I give him and go with it—so I try not to give him crap.

But the formal theater training must help with scene structure…
Oh yeah, I’ve had to read endless plays and I suppose that informs my writing (fundamental stuff like characters and conflict or that every scene needs forward momentum. I also have read a lot of books on writing, probably too many. Drew's Script-O-Rama is a gold mine for somebody that wants to go into screenwriting. It’s basically a database of shooting scripts. It’s an invaluable and essential resource.

When were you able to act full time and say goodbye to those nefarious day jobs?
I was working at Fuji Bank at the Word Trade Center doing Excel spreadsheets. I got along really well with the Japanese guy who actually offered to take me on as a permanent employee and give me health benefits, which I didn’t have. He knew I was trying to be an actor (every once in a while I’d put some costume on at lunch and go uptown for an audition). And then a week later I booked my first TV show,Ghost Story—kind of like a "B" version of Tails from the Crypt. So, I had this dilemma about whether to take the job or take the step and keep acting. I felt so horrible about Toro Tanaka. (laughs). 

Do you know if he was in the World Trade Center on 9-11?
I don’t think so because I once looked at a fatality list and didn’t see anyone that I knew from Fuji. He was probably back in Japan by then because he would have been rotated out of there. What a horrible thing. Fuji was located on the 80th floor...

I was watching David Krumholtz being interviewed on Kevin Pollak’s chat show and he mentioned working with you on your first big film Liberty Heights.
Yeah, David, Adrian Brody and I hung out a lot and Barry Levinson made it so we could spend a lot of time together. We had a great time, a lot of laughs Brody, Krumholtz and I… I remember at the end of the film when we were saying goodbye David Krumholtz said, “I’ve worked on a lot of movies and when they’re done everybody says, ‘we’ll keep in touch’ and we never do, so let’s not even do that.’”  (laughs)

So, you’ve never seen him since?
We have, and that’s the irony. 

So, when did you finally move to LA?
I moved out there when I booked Ugly Betty.

You’re recognized a lot for Wet Hot American Summer.
I was a last minute replacement for Wet Hot and I came in towards the end. But that movie is so beloved for people who have a sense of humor.

Were you able to bond with George Clooney on Burn After Reading?
Yes, the guy is so grounded that you almost get the feeling that he’s doing himself a disservice (laughs)… “Don’t forget now, you’re George Clooney you don’t have to waste your time hanging out with me…you must have better things to do. When people ask me who the coolest celebrity I’ve worked with it’s an easy answer. Clooney for the win.”

That was a very physical scene and he tackles you.
And, also technically difficult because he had just been in a motorcycle accident and his back was fucked up. He was doing something most stars don’t do…which is do something physically painful, over and over, just to help the collaborative effort.  That was the striking thing about him… weirdly selfless for a guy who could have a black SUV whisk him away at a moment’s notice.

Do you often reflect on having worked with Joel and Ethan Coen, two of the most beloved filmmakers out there?
When I talk about my experience on that, it’s usually in terms of experienced directors’ versus inexperienced low budget directors. The Coens are the experienced directors. They show up, having already worked everything out shot by shot and they’re pretty hands off with the acting part of it.  The better directors have spoken to me less.

Did you experience the same direction from Steven Spielberg?
Yes, same thing with him and Roger Michell (Changing Lanes), the ones who get the best performances are the ones who say the least. If I feel they trust me, it relaxes me and I’m able to take risks, in the moment, As opposed to stuffing my concentration with added tasks the director wants me to do even though it’s not coming from me organically.

What does your summer look like?
So much depends on if Dark Minions gets picked up and if it does my summer is going to be about writing episodes. If not, it’ll be about trying to develop something new, probably for TV, and then the acting thing as well. Since Big Bang doesn’t pick up until August, I’ll do what I usually do, kick around and see if I could show up in somebody’s movie. 

I gotta see this. I'd never heard of it 'til today.
So did you guys like the interview? As an existing fan of Kevin I learned so much, am going to look up Dark Minions, and just really appreciated this view into his life and the writing process. I'm glad no one he knew died in the World Trade Center. Oh and according to the YouTube trailer, Dark Minions can be watched for free on Amazon Instant video.

Have a great Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pacific Rim's focus on size proves it's the man card dispensing movie of the decade

I think Pacific Rim will be the one movie this decade that issues a man card at the door with the price of every admissions ticket. Why? Because this movie is all about size, and how that matters. And I think I'm pretty safe in saying, that size only matters to men. Women are probably going to get nothing from this movie, which means unless men blackmail their wives/girlfriends to go and see it, attendance should be pretty much 95% men and 5% women.
That being said, the latest trailer for Guillermo del Toro's "Twilight for Men" has got more testosterone packed into two minutes than a tube of Androgel. My favorite scene in this particular trailer: the huge Jaeger mech that unleashes the forearm blades to eviscerate a kaiju. The penetration and shear gutting power of those weapons has got to be over the top.

The only thing that could make this movie better would be a scenario where (when the two pilots are sharing memories) one pilot has a memory of screwing the other pilot's partner. Why else would you make a device that requires shared memories? The drama potential is unlimited! Here's the trailer in case you missed it when it "erupted" all over the internet last week. Watching it leaves me strangely satisfied, yet wanting. Fancy that.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Author Roland Yeomans' book, The Bear With Two Shadows is available on audiobook now through If you don't know what The Bear with Two Shadows is, think of The Wind in the Willows meets the Lord of the Rings meets Native American mythology. You will never listen to another book like it :).

My thoughts are with you, Oklahoma. You are not alone.

Monday, May 20, 2013

An older sexier Hiccup flies in on the back of Toothless in 2014 and brings us the coming of age dragon story we've always wanted

Coming in 2014, here is what you'll see...
Hiccup is growing up. I think he looks quite dashing on the back of Toothless here. Looks
maybe around sixteen or seventeen years old and the flaming sword is a nice touch. This is
a leaked photo taken by someone touring Dreamworks Studios, and I first saw it on Perez Hilton.
This image isn't from Perez Hilton's blog though. It's from HTTYD Tumblr. And the image is
all over the internet now so I doubt Dreamworks Studios can do any damage control at this
point. They're probably just going to count it as viral marketing.
This is a coloring pencil sketch that shows Hiccup's face better in the upcoming movie
"How To Train Your Dragon 2." It's done by artist Aty S. Behsam and you can find her
Deviant Art page HERE. HTTYD has "LEGIONS" of fans. Seriously. Not underestimating
this at all. It could quite possibly have an opening that joins Iron Man 3 or The Avengers.
Astrid has become a young Viking woman. I like the way her hair is done. Her dragon looks
pretty too with all of the vibrant colors. Image taken from HTTYD Tumblr. Has anyone read
the books that How To Train Your Dragon is based from? I've been told they have no
resemblance at all to the movie adaptation. Usually there's a "little" resemblance. But a
trusted source told me that the movies are 100% better than the books and that she wouldn't
recommend them at all. Interesting, eh?
Story and images courtesy of inhonoredglory's DeviantArt page located HERE.
Is it just me, or does the older Hiccup look like he could be the brother of Dreamworks'
"Jack Frost" from the movie Rise of the Guardians before he became the "cool" kid with the
white and silver looking hair? Maybe Dreamworks just knows what kind of guy white
 teen-aged girls will go "squee" over and aims at the models that could sing for "One Direction."
For the record, I own Dreamworks stock so I'm part of the problem. You white people
out there with your white kids need to go see more Dreamworks movies so my stock goes up!
Guys! An older sexier Hiccup flies in on the back of Toothless in 2014 and brings us the coming of age dragon story we've always wanted. I think as far as animated stories goes, How To Train Your Dragon was a home run for Dreamworks Animation Studios. I enjoyed it more than Shrek, The Croods, Rise of the Guardians, and Despicable Me, and a few other titles that are quite frankly...pretty forgettable. I think that's why I watch the television series on Cartoon Network, and I wonder if they are going to incorporate any of the stuff from the series into the sequel. For example, Gobber is now a dentist for the dragons, Hiccup is a dragon trainer at the newly opened "Dragon Academy" and there's a section of bad guy vikings that live on their own island exiled from the main tribe, and they are pretty horrible.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to see as many Dreamworks
films as possible thereby increasing the stock so I get a payout. See how
that works? Disclaimer: Any raving I do about Dreamworks' projects is
not selfishly motivated in any way :).
I hope that there will be a seamless transition from the first movie to the second using stuff from the television series, but also striking out on its own with a plot that's even better than the first. They also need to hire the right musical composer to give us the soaring scores that have made How To Train Your Dragon iconic. I also would like to see some intense romance between Astrid and Hiccup that's clearly foreshadowed. If they do it right, this could be the next "billion dollar" franchise because the romance will appeal to all the YA addicted readers out there who might embrace Hiccup and Astrid in the same way that audiences hungered for Bella and Edward (sans vampires, werewolves, and a female protagonist) while appealing to boys who think dragons are cool and who identify with Hiccup's awkwardness (not to mention disability).

Maybe Hiccup will be the "boy band" equivalent in animation, culling the legions of fans that make One Direction such a huge hit.

HTTYD in Gifs! How can you not like Gif stories?


Today is the Writers 4 Writers monthly marketing blitz for authors who have signed up on the list featured on the W4WS Facebook Page located HERE.

Please visit the following author blogs and send out the pre-fabricated sentences they have constructed and copy/paste and then tweet them to your following on twitter. I used to have the W4W's button in my sidebar linked to Stephen Tremp's blog, but that link is broken. I need to hunt down a new one for Stephen.

Anyway, it's as simple as that. Perhaps we can get them some viral marketing and witness sales soar through the roof! Wouldn't that be cool? Unrelated to W4WS, my friend Mimi Strong is experiencing stratospheric sales on her erotic book For You. I think she's probably nearing the 100,000 mark, but haven't spoken to her in a while (her real name is Tamara Paulin, but she also goes by Dalya Moon). I featured one of her YA novels called Practice Cake on my blog way back when (some of you old timers may remember it). Anyway, Mimi is kickin' some ass and may sell a million books before the end of the year. She's already been picked up by USA Today and raved about (another self-publishing success story, and this time from someone I knew when she was in the trenches!) For what it's worth to you, Mimi was ignored/brushed off by agents everywhere. She tried and tried. I know cause I was there comforting her on one of  her fourteen blogs (she has more blogs and more identities than Briane Pagel).

Lesson: It could happen to you!

You can also retweet other people's tweets by visiting #W4WS on twitter.

Let's take over the internet fellow Writers 4 Writers!

Have a great Monday.

Friday, May 17, 2013

My pick for best and worst movie remake

Today I'm participating in the Best and Worst Movie Remakes Blogfest :) When Hollywood runs out of ideas, they remake older films. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it fails miserably.

The object of the blog fest is to list the best remake you’ve ever seen and the worst.


The remake I enjoyed the best is the reboot of Star Trek by J.J. Abrams. I think that he did a great job of reinventing the universe and giving us a great crew that I really enjoy watching. I hope that there are many sequels in the works. I did go see Into Darkness last night and I loved it. Go see it (worth full price)!

The remake I enjoyed the least is the new Conan movie with Jason Momoa in the role that Arnold Schwarzenegger made famous. It lacked any cohesion and just failed on so many levels. I really wanted the reboot to work too, because I like the Conan world. Ah well. Maybe Arnold's shoes are just too big to fill.

There was a bonus question to list the worst and/or best song remake I've ever heard. But I'm going to deviate from that and list the worst decision I think Hollywood made this year in a film. They killed Channing Tatum off in the last G.I. Joe movie (and it happened right off the bat, and it wasn't heroic at all). I like Channing Tatum. I think it actually made me depressed, and I didn't enjoy the rest of the movie after that.

And that's it. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Eleven science-fiction men troubled by their throne and one queen who needs saving

Elric of Menibone by Michael Moorcock sitting on the ruby throne. The albino emperor loses
everything to the dastardly demon sword Stormbringer. In the end, it even destroys the world.
Batman is one troubled dude. I think it's the chair that did it to him. Art by
LoHanNinja. Visit her at DeviantArt
If you don't know who this is, you should slap yourself.
King Conan. This is the only time we'll ever see "Ahnold" as King. It lasts
for about 10 seconds so don't blink or you'll miss it.
Odin in the movie Thor. Aside from the chair being way overdone, those
ravens are well-behaved. I'd a thought they'd shit all over it.
Again, if you don't know where this scene comes from, you should just
hand over your nerd card right now.
The Captain's Chair People! It's the throne of the Enterprise! Are you
seeing Star Trek tonight? *NODS HEAD. OMIGAWDICANTWAIT
*Passes out <<Thud>>
Robb Stark on the Iron Throne. Yeah he's a troubled troubled man.
Harry Seldon saw the future and it wasn't pretty for the Empire. Nope.
Cover Art for "Foundation" by Isaac Asimov done by Michael Whelan.
Thanos. If he isn't trouble, I don't know what is.
Here's the only woman I could find on a throne in science-fiction/fantasy. But
don't worry. I read this book and she has to be rescued by a man. And while
she's on the throne, all she does is sleep anyway. Lazy wimmenz.
Cover art by Keith Parkinson.
Riddick is back. I'm glad they didn't cast "The Rock" in this one.
Dwayne Johnson makes Vin look small. LOL.