With Further Ado #056: Catching up with Michael Uslan

With Further Ado #056: Catching up with Michael Uslan

I caught part of a televised discussion on whether success more likely comes from either (a) an intense focus on one specialization or (b) living a life full of many experiences, and then specializing.  After talking with Michael Uslan, it seems that filling one’s life up with many experiences, all of which are pretty cool, might be the way to go. 

You may know Michael Uslan as the guy behind Batman at the movies. Perhaps he was your university professor years ago for that ground-breaking course on comics.  Or maybe you know him as that guy who loves The Shadow comics and wrote a few in the 70s for DC and again more recently for Dynamite. Did you first cross paths with him in New Jersey, as the local boy who put on that Montclair Museum show focusing on comics a few years ago? You might remember he wrote that brilliant Batman Elseworlds graphic novel, Detective No. 27. Or maybe you remember him as the guy who came up with the creative “Archie gets married” idea a few years ago.    Continue reading “With Further Ado #056: Catching up with Michael Uslan”

With Further Ado #055: So Bad It’s Good

With Further Ado #055: So Bad It’s Good

Every other Tuesday, I’ve been hosting the Screams & Screens movie series locally at Auburn Public Theater. We celebrate B-movies that are so bad they’re good. To be fair, some of the movies we show really are good, or actually have a few good parts to them.

We’re wrapping up our summer season with The Giant Claw. It’s a curious movie that epitomizes the whole “so bad it’s good” charm of these flicks.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #055: So Bad It’s Good”

Brainiac On Banjo #045: Prescient Murders

Brainiac On Banjo #045: Prescient Murders

You probably heard about the mass shootings in a El Paso Texas Walmart and in Northeast Ohio this weekend. Maybe not; these two were the third and fourth such slaughter this week, and we’re getting accustomed to it. As of this writing – Sunday evening – 29 bodies have been found and several dozen have been hospitalized. The alleged shooter in Texas is in custody., the alleged shooter in Ohio was killed at the scene.

Right now we have endured 2,191 mass shootings since the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders that happened on December 14, 2012. That was less than seven years ago. If that hasn’t provided us with sufficient warning, and even if they have, I would like to direct your attention to an amazingly prescient movie made in 1971, based upon a play that opened on Broadway four years earlier. Both were labelled as “black comedies” but that exposes the downside of prescience: what was black comedy a half-century ago has evolved into a documentary. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #045: Prescient Murders”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #043: Top Gun Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #043: Top Gun Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Warning: the following article is about a piece of old pop culture that I have only recently absorbed for the first time. As such, much of this article will find you asking yourself “Wait, seriously, he’s never seen Top Gun before now?” and I’m making it clear from the get go:

I literally watched Top Gun for the first time, ever, a few days ago.

And I did it because, I kid you not, a would-be investor in Unshaven Comics outright refused to even be pitched to until I did. To be clear: it’s not that I wasn’t familiar with the movie. But when the movie came out, I was 5 years old. My family didn’t go to the movies, and I was never much into military stuff (Like G.I. Joe and the like). I knew Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer were in it. I know the soundtrack was Loggins heavy. And I recalled once asking Unshaven Kyle about the climax of the movie (when it happened to be on in our apartment at the time) and he told me “eh, the whole movie is just about fancy maneuvers.” Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #043: Top Gun Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”

Brainiac On Banjo 042: This Joke’s On You

Brainiac On Banjo 042: This Joke’s On You

I just concluded a scientifically-ridiculous survey and the results are staggering. I still have not met a single person who is looking forward to WarnerMedia’s new Joker movie.

Reportedly, this latest incarnation of our favorite playing card-based villain has nothing to do with any other Joker in any version of the character in any manifestation of any of the overpopulated DCUs. The authenticity of that remains to be not seen. But it appears this DC-logoed movie has less in common with the comic book legend about to endure its 80th birthday than it does with James Bond playing baccarat at the Casino Royale.

That’s okay. The most overused character since Wolverine (who, I believe, showed up in a Planet Terry story arc), I can’t recognize The Joker from one bloated comic book story to the next. Great character, dumb character, confusing character… well, I never met the guy. And seeing that for the past 29 years Warners has been disinterested in making a Batman movie worthy of the cellulose acetate upon which it’s memorialized, I really don’t care. I’ve given up. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo 042: This Joke’s On You”

The Weed of Crime Bears Bitchin’ Fruit

The Weed of Crime Bears Bitchin’ Fruit

Earlier this month the Illinois legislature passed and sent to the governor a bill legalizing the sale and possession of marijuana. Within 24 hours, I had received a half-dozen emails and texts asking me when I was moving back home.

I’ve been gone a third of a century, but – like most obnoxious Chicago ex-pats – the city remains imbedded in my heart. The people, the traditions, music and the folklore, and the highly dangerous but totally fabulous junk food that is all such an integral part of the city’s culture remains remarkably seductive. Continue reading “The Weed of Crime Bears Bitchin’ Fruit”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #036: Spoil the Spoilers

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #036: Spoil the Spoilers

Teenage angst has paid off well,
Now I’m bored and old.
Self-appointed spoilers spoil
More than they have told.

If they gatekeep online now,
Plot-holes that they found?
All to piss off and to troll
And needlessly expound…

Bonus points if you get the reference. No Googlin’ either, kiddos.

It seems now that spoiler culture is abound throughout social media. With the Russo’s (of Endgame fame, don’t-cha-know) declaring specific rules as to their accepted window of spoilativity… my feeds have been choked to the nines with needless repetition and condemnation of those who seek to ruin the experience of a piece of pop culture by virtue of their ability to consume it first.

To be clear to all who I am friends with? Not a single soul said a serendipitous spoiler in any sense of the word for Endgame, Game of Thrones, or even The Price is Right. And trust me, I was on high alert. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #036: Spoil the Spoilers”

Brainiac On Banjo #036: Women Unite — But In Mongolia, Hold The Soda!

Brainiac On Banjo #036: Women Unite — But In Mongolia, Hold The Soda!

Avengers: Endgame passed the $2,100,000,000 mark ten days after release, so in honor of that momentous event, here is a photo of my all-time favorite superhero team-up, even though it has yet to happen on-screen.

Now that the Avengers movies have made about as much money as your average Wall Street cocaine dealer, I think we can say the “women heroes don’t sell movies” bullshit is behind us. It’s time to do the A-Force movie.

Seriously. It’s well past time, but before this weekend the banks might not have financed such a film. I think an A-Force movie will inspire more young girls than a woman president, though that is not an either/or proposition. And the prospect of women getting their boyfriends to take them to a big super-hero movie epic is the very meaning of “turnabout is fair play.” Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #036: Women Unite — But In Mongolia, Hold The Soda!”

Beat JENeration 33: Avengers: Endgame, Let’s Get Spoil-y

Beat JENeration 33: Avengers: Endgame, Let’s Get Spoil-y

As promised, I have a few thoughts.

Now, if this column’s title didn’t give you pause, let me reiterate that I’m not holding back. Onward ho to Spoiler City we go!

But also, c’mon, if you haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame by now, I have to wonder if you even care about spoilers.
Continue reading “Beat JENeration 33: Avengers: Endgame, Let’s Get Spoil-y”

Continued After the Next Page #008: Happy Geek Day!!!

Continued After the Next Page #008: Happy Geek Day!!!

We are living in a golden age of fandom. Gone are the days of hiding your comic collection in the closet when school friends came over. The time when liking sci-fi books was cause for odd glances in the cafeteria is in the past. There are incredible things happening in the world today.

Let’s take for example the things we can point at that show the geek/nerd culture is popular in the mainstream;

Avengers

The best selling motion picture in the world is Avengers: Endgame. It is the epic conclusion to over ten years of movie storytelling. I was moved to tears of joy while watching it at the massive amount of comic book characters from my your being translated to the big screen. This move was highly anticipated and it shattered box office records left and right.

Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #008: Happy Geek Day!!!”