Category Archives: Printed Stuff

‘Iron Fist’ in Theaters? Hmm…

Marvel's first Disney-produced film: Iron Fist?

Iron Fist is one of those Marvel Comics characters nobody outside of the comic reading minority has heard of, and while I’m a big fan of comic book movies, I bet Marvel Studios and Disney’s proposed Iron Fist movie will be a tough sell.

The comics are about a guy named Danny Rand who is a martial arts expert with a magical power that gives him a big glowing fist.  It can be done on the big screen, but this could be a recipe for cheese ball disaster, or it could be a Kill Bill-style romp of awesomeness, but we’ll just have to see.  Hopefully Marvel has another Iron Man up its sleeve with this one.

My casting vote goes to this guy.

I’m not an expert on martial arts movies by any means, so I’m out of ideas as to who would be a good director for this project, but I do have a sort of out-of-left-field idea about who could play Rand: Mark Pellegrino of Dexter and Lost fame.

Sure, Pellegrino’s a bit old to play a character in his late twenties, but a few tweaks here and there could make it work, especially with his background in martial arts like Judo, Thai boxing, and Ju-Jitsu.  Plus, he’s got some range, as he was great as Rita’s abusive ex-husband on Dexter and he nailed the mysteriousness and on-and-off benevolence of a thousand-year-old demigod on Lost.

If the producers find a capable writer/director team and nail a lead like Pellegrino, this could actually turn out well.


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‘Y: The Last Man’: Why Not Let Vaughan Direct?

See? Vaughan's already working with one of his leads.

If you haven't read the series, do it now.

New Line, if you’re listening: let Brian K. Vaughan direct Y: The Last Man. For the last few years, rumors have abounded about Disturbia director D.J. Caruso directing the big screen adaptation of Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s extremely entertaining comic book series, about an amateur escape artist named Yorick (and his pet monkey, Ampersand) who survives a worldwide plague that kills off every creature with a Y chromosome, and after months of inactivity, Caruso is still “kind of loosely attached,” according to this interview with

I want to know why New Line, the studio that owns the rights to the series, doesn’t let series writer and up-and-coming screenwriter Vaughan take the directorial reigns of the movies himself.  Obviously, if you want to replicate the magic of the source material, you can’t do much better than hiring that material’s creator.  Vaughan’s already written the Y script himself, so he’s been involved at every step of the movie making process.

Besides, Hollywood seems to be fawning all over Vaughan for the past couple years, as he’s been black listed for his Merlin comedy, Roundtable, and has another script, The Vault, in development.  Plus, his work as a producer-writer-executive story editor on Lost in seasons three through five was stellar and produced some of the best episodes of the series, which vaulted from spinning-its-wheels purgatory to throttling-to-a-conclusion cool during his time working there.

That resume speaks for itself.  Vaughan’s worked his way up the ranks to be one of the top screenwriters in the business, and I think he deserves his shot at the director’s chair of the series that got him to this point.

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‘I Write Like…’: Awesome. You'll like it.

My girlfriend sent me a link to this website, I Write Like, which analyzes a few paragraphs of your writing, be it fiction, blog posts, or what have you, and lets you know which literary legend in whose shoes you’re now treading.

Of course, I have no idea if I actually write like James Joyce.  In fact, I’ve never read anything by Joyce, so it’s not like I can list him as an influence.

However, I will gladly take any ego boosts I can get.

If you, too, enjoy a good ego stroking, check out I Write Like and find out who you write like.

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Harvey Pekar, R.I.P.

Harvey Pekar, the legendary writer known for his long-running autobiographical comic book, American Splendor, died today aged 70.

Pekar's life's work, 'American Splendor.'

I can’t say I’ve read much by him but I have seen the 2003 American Splendor film, starring Paul Giamatti as Pekar, and I tremendously enjoyed it, particularly for the ending, which featured the real Pekar’s retirement party from his job as a file clerk in Cleveland, a town that can’t seem to stay away from getting shit on lately in regard to its pop culture stars.

Giamatti’s performance was phenomenal in that film, but the entire time I spent watching it, I got the feeling most of that performance was informed by the real Pekar every step of the way, with the crux of everything being the depiction of Pekar’s battle with cancer.

Pekar wrote candidly and at length about that health scare and got plenty of accolades for it. That brave depiction of his fight was very harrowing and he deserved all the recognition he got for it.

But enough from me.  I don’t know the man’s work as well as Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker does.  Read his very nice article about Mr. Pekar and go ahead and check out the book that inspired the movie, American Splendor: The Life and Times of Harvey Pekar.

And, as always, the final word should come from the man himself.  Here’s a nice clip of the ultimate fish out of water, Pekar, appearing on David Letterman’s NBC show back in the ’80s.

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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: Where Did It Come From?

What's the big deal? Enlighten me.

This week’s Entertainment Weekly cover is yet another in a long line of instances in which I’ve heard raves about this book, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It’s getting made into a movie by director David Fincher (the threepeat of awesome that is Se7en, The Game, and Fight Club, among others) and all these big names–Brad Pitt, Natalie Portman, etc.–keep popping up in the casting rumors, but I have no idea what this “phenomenon” is about.

Anyone who has read it, is it actually good?  Or is is poorly written trash like the other massively-popular-for-no-good-reason Twilight books?  Feel free to comment because something that draws the attention of Fincher, whose directorial style is atmospheric, stylish, and altogether amazing, is something I am plenty willing to check out.

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Rob’s Book Club: Summer Reading, Yes!

I love summer and everything that goes with it, like barbecues and baseball, but this summer I’m especially pumped because of all the reading I’m going to do.

No summer school means I have plenty of time to sit back and enjoy some books, and I’ve already finished two in the last week and a half.

My new favorite book.

The first one is kind of cheating as far as summer reading is concerned, as I’d been reading it throughout the last month of school, but it’s worth noting because it may have eclipsed Jack Kerouac’s On the Road as my favorite novel of all time.  Its name is The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, written by Michael Chabon, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his work on the novel.

As a big fan of comic books since the time I began reading, this book, which chronicles the lives of two fictional Jewish Golden Age comics creators before, during, and after World War II, really struck a chord in me.  Chabon makes Joe Kavalier, a part-time escape artist who uses his skills to get out of Prague as the Nazis were interning his family, and his New York-born cousin Sammy Clay incredibly well-rounded characters, and you can feel their relationship grow stronger as the book, and their bourgeoning comics empire, led by their star creation, The Escapist, continues.

Chabon weaves tales of The Escapist into the narrative and it’s bursting with the classic flavor of vintage comics.  When that storytelling is mixed with the main tale of Joe’s attempts to bring his family to New York while falling in love with a woman named Rosa, and Sammy coming to terms with who he really is, it is an amazing book I cannot recommend enough.

After finishing Chabon’s novel, I hopped right into a completely different kind of story: I began the search for Stephen King’s Dark Tower, starting with part one, The Gunslinger. I figured that, since Lost is ending, I would read the sprawling Western-sci-fi-fantasy epic that (partially) inspired the show I’ve loved so much.

Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger.

The novel kicks off quite nicely, with a gunslinger (sort of an alternate world Arthurian knight, but with guns!), whose name is later revealed to be Roland, chasing an unnamed man in black across a desert.  The gunslinger enters a town recently visited by the man in black, and weird things happened, including a resurrection.  There’s gunfights and gore and it’s pretty action-packed, which is always a good thing.

After leaving the town, Roland meets a young boy named Jake, who he finds out is from our version of New York, and this is when the seeds are planted for the rest of the series to live up to its mind-bending promise.  The last section of the book, in which Roland briefly catches up to the man in black, is fascinating and well-written, spawning a fantastic dialogue between the two.

I plan on reading the rest of the series over the summer, interspersing plenty of other books in between.  Currently I’m reading both Crime & Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and The Third Policeman, by Flann O’Brien.  Both are good at this early stage for completely different reasons, the former for its vast poetic language courtesy of a nineteenth century Russian wordsmith, and the latter for its trippy-yet-funny quasi-science fiction nature.

I have plenty of other books to read, but I’m wondering if anyone else has any suggestions to add to my stack for this summer and beyond.  Feel free to comment.

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Rob’s Book Club: Adventures In The Screen Trade (Originally published January 10, 2010)

If you are at all interested in filmmaking, whether you just appreciate it or want to participate in it, you should read Adventures In The Screen Trade by William Goldman.

Goldman is the screenwriter behind such movies as Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid and All The President’s Men.  He’s also got a laid back, conversational style of prose writing that is both informative and very funny.  He gives in depth analyses of how to construct a solid screenplay and gives advice on how to deal with people in Hollywood.

Those are the helpful portions of the book.  The parts that read more like memoirs are both interesting and hilarious.  He gives firsthand accounts of the weirdness he’s endured over the years working in movies, such as an unnamed female star who wouldn’t come out of her trailer because she accidentally murdered her poodle with a giant pork chop, and a producer that bought the rights to a book only because he wanted an excuse to visit New Zealand.

There are some problems with the book.  The first being that it is pretty outdated.  It was published in 1982 and hasn’t been updated since.  Hollywood has changed a great deal since then, but the main principles of how to deal with crazy people remain intact.  Goldman also has a proclivity to gush about certain stars in particular (Robert Redford especially), mostly because they worked together on many projects.  It gives a somewhat isolated feel to the story, as if all of Hollywood is exactly like Goldman’s circle of friends/partners.

Even with these problems, it is very apparent that Mr. Goldman had a lot of fun working in the picture business.  That comes accross very strong and his helpful advice and funny anecdotes make me even more determined to get into the filmmaking business.  If you feel like I do, go ahead and pick up the book.

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Rob’s Book Club: The Stand (Originally published January 3, 2010)

That’s right, I’m back doing my best Oprah impression.  And, as you can tell, I’m writing this kind of late.  That’s because The Stand, written by Stephen King, has kept me up until all hours of the night for the better part of a week now.

No, I’m not up because it’s scary like King’s reputation would have you think.  I’m up in my room because it’s LONG (not as long as some things in my room if you know what I mean.  But I digress).  That’s right, this whopper of a novel is more than 1,100 pages.  It’s the longest thing I’ve ever read, but wow, it’s engrossing.

The premise is simple: a “superflu” breaks out and it kills 99% of the world’s population.  Those left behind struggle to survive and cope, and they eventually band together with other survivors they meet on the road.

The survivors are driven by the dreams they all have in common.  One involves a benevolent 108-year-old woman named Mother Abagail and the other is of the demonic Randall Flagg, the man hellbent on destroying them.  Those that choose Mother Abagail’s side make their way to Boulder, Colorado.  Flagg’s followers?  Las Vegas, of course.

The cast of characters in this thing is huge.  I’m pretty sure I’ve read about 20 characters that have all had pretty sizable roles.  And yet, King does a masterful job of weaving their lives together in ways that make sense and really get you feeling for each and every one of them, whether they’re stoic and brave like Stu Redman, terrifyingly disturbed like the appropriately nicknamed Trashcan Man (he likes fire.  A lot.), or the deaf-mute-with-a-heart-of-gold Nick Andros.

The largest portion of the book details the buildup and immediate aftermath of the plague.  King goes into graphic detail of the destruction it wreaks on the human population, and then does a masterful job of character development, chronicling the roads down which these characters walk to get to where they need to be for the final conflict.  Their motivations and backstories are highly believable and well exectuted.

The thing about the book that is most enjoyable isn’t the cool fantasy story about good versus evil.  It is the characters and the world building going on.  King develops this terrifying new world with levels of detail you wouldn’t expect, right down to the electrical fires that amateur electricians would start when trying to get a city’s power supply turned on again. Also, the research that must have gone into mastering the geography of the story alone must have taken forever.

Ooga booga.

During all of this world building, King intersperses snippets of the dreams everyone’s having of Flagg coming to get them, and it instills a creeping dread throughout the book that works wonderfully, and it provides a certain ticking clock aspect to the narrative that I really enjoy.  The buildup to the coming war between the good people of Boulder and the evil denizens of Las Vegas feels real and immediate.  It’s something I’m looking forward to reading.

That’s right, I haven’t finished the book yet.  So, for anyone who has, don’t spoil it for me.  But for those of you who haven’t read it, I can’t recommend it enough.  It’s massively influential on some of the biggest fantasy hits over the last several decades, especially my pop cultural Golden Calf, Lost.  So go pick it up and try not to let the length of the book intimidate you.  It’s worth it (so far.  I swear, if it all ends with it “all being a dream,” I’ll slap someone.)

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If Oprah Can Do It, Why Can’t I? Rob’s Book Club: Jitterbug Perfume (Originally published November 11, 2009)

It may not seem like it, considering all my posts appear to be about listening to music or watching TV, but I do like to read.  I just haven’t had much time to do it.  That’s why I decided to take a class this semester devoted to novels, and I have read more books this semester than I have in over a year, reading things like Watership Down, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, and now Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins.

I suggested this book to my small group because I’d heard so many good things about Robbins and never got around to reading it when I bought it over a year ago.  Man, am I glad I’ve finally devoted time to it because it is great.

If you like surrealistic humor, this book is for you.  I’m only about a third of the way through it but from what I can gather, the narrative incorporates perfume (well, no shit), French dudes wearing whale masks, a bi-curious and brilliant scientist who works as a waitress, beets, an immortal king, and Pan.  Yep, the mythical god; except in this he’s literally a horny old goat.

The humor is perhaps the best part of it.  There are numerous tangents that only relate to the story in the loosest ways possible, but somehow they work.  There is a lot of fourth wall breaking going on as well, when Robbins decides to address the reader directly, such as when he is too lazy to write French dialogue.

Everything seems to be done in a tongue-in-cheek manner, but then, every few paragraphs, Robbins decides to drop a bomb of profundity, dealing with social, political, or entertainment-industry commentary.  In the opening paragraph of the first chapter, Robbins discusses how real artists would never actually live in studio apartments due to space constrictions.  “Clerks live in studio apartments,” he states.

Now, I have no idea if the disparate elements of the plot will come together into a satisfying ending, but at the moment I’m content to do the whole “enjoying the journey” thing.  If you want to pick up a novel that will make you laugh, as well as think about the world, you could do worse than Jitterbug Perfume.

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Disney Buys Marvel, Geeks ‘Gasm Worldwide (Originally published August 31, 2009)

According to this article from the New York Times, Disney has purchased Marvel Entertainment, home of Spider-Man, the X-Men, and Iron Man.  As a life long fan (read: loser) of Marvel characters, I can hardly contain my erection.  This means that, over time, all Marvel movie franchises will settle down at Disney, which also owns Miramax, DreamWorks, and Pixar, places with ludicrious amounts of creativity and passion for the films they create. Disney also owns the ABC network, and it is very possible they could use that to their advantage the way Warner Brothers (owners of rival comics giant DC Comics) has with Smallville, to create expensive TV shows based on the Marvel heroes, broadening their visibility to future fans.

Beyond the movies and television, this deal should also help Marvel’s publishing tremendously.  Titles that struggle to find audiences, such as Christopher Priest’s great-but-ill-fated version of The Black Panther, would have a longer leash before getting canceled.  The added financial flexibility would allow Marvel to ratchet up its MAX Comics line, their adult-themed (where they can swear and have complicated plots; it’s not Fritz the Cat) line, similar to DC’s Vertigo.  The possibility of the next Y: The Last Man coming from my favorite funny book publisher has me grinning from ear to ear.

I’m so pumped for this.  The characters I’ve loved since I started reading are moving up in the world of entertainment.  Imagine Miramax getting Quentin Tarantino to direct his version of the Punisher, or Speilberg taking on Captain America for DreamWorks, or a Pixar-produced Spider-Man cartoon.  Think about the creative freedom all this money will provide for these adult comics writers, allowing them to add to Marvel’s already amazing 5,000-character lineup.  The possibilities just keep growing.  I’m going to go smile for a while.

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