Tuesday, December 31, 2013
I have made several New Year's Resolutions, but this is the only one I am sharing, because I have always found that resolutions are really about the person, to be known an striven for privately. I have a bad track record of publicizing all the ways I aim to improve myself in the coming year. It reeks of braggadocio and only sets one up for failure. For evidence, this post, an attempt to revive a failed resolution...
IN January, 2011, I created a list of people's graves that I wanted to visit. But, quite ironically enough, LIFE kind of got in the way. In the last three years, I've only made it only to the grave of Allen Ginsberg. For the first time in at least five years, I am optimistic about the coming year, and with a steady job, a steady apartment, and the will to do it, I am taking another crack at the 2011 Dead Pool.
There were 14 people listed originally. They were, in alphabetical order:
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Apologies on the delay, to anyone who cared...
I showed up at New York Comic Con at about 11:15 am on Friday, having not even glanced at the panel schedule. I walked a quick loop of the convention, marveling at the collection of original Superman costumes on display at the far wing of the Javits Center, passing by Rob Liefeld’s table (which strategically blocked any view of his feet), and generally marveling at the scope and scale of it all. “Too much” would be the running theme of the weekend.
Finally looking at the brochure just before noon, my eyes immediately gravitated to “Writing Workshop with Joe Stracynski.” I looked at the time – it was starting in 20 minutes. I quickly hustled into the bowels of the Javits and found the line, right at the point where I was able to get one of the last seats.
Straczynski opened by saying that conventions are a great place to get information from experts, which is why, after an opening statement, he was going straight to the question and answer portion of it.
“No questions are out of bounds…. If this panel sucks, it’s your fault,” he cautioned.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
BACK AFTER A TWO YEAR HAITUS...
They stride into the coffee shop and he’s practically yelling, as if to negate any retort to the argument, “Your father’s a surgeon! He’s got money!” I thought it was a plot out of some James Cain story: the malleable, soft-spoken, innocent girl; the overbearing, one-sighted boyfriend. Does he want to murder the girls’ father and run off with her and the old man’s war chest?
You’re probably wondering what he looks like, but the best way to sum him up is thusly: he asks for the student discount - 10% off his $2 cup of coffee, then inexplicably pays a 25 cent surcharge because he’s using his debit card. I can hear the excuse now…. “Well, I don’t have any REAL money….” Other than that: well-coiffed hair, with an attempt to look slovenly. Cuffs on his skinny jeans, scruffy beard, turtle shell glasses - his best Allen Ginsberg impression.
Friday, October 18, 2013
(I post this one first because it was the tougher of the two to write.)
Damn my luck, Joe Straczynski was giving another talk on Saturday. This time, still in the bowels of the Javits Center (though in a larger room). The most striking part of the conversation came when someone asked a question regarding Michael O’Hare, (for simplicity sake) the original Captain of Babylon 5, who, as legend had it, was written off the show because he was too difficult of an actor to work with (the classic story was in Claudia Christian's book, in which he came on to her by describing the size of his balls, or something to that effect).
Being in the back of the room, I didn’t hear the exact question, but it was in reference to a story that JMS told at a Phoenix Convention a few weeks prior. I hadn’t heard anything about what he’d said, and was floored by the story that Straczynski subsequently told (I tried to faithfully quote him, but it was… difficult).
He started by saying “You all know what delusional behavior is, right? Seeing imaginary things… thinking the government is out to get you… well I guess that’s just a reality these days...”
This prompted a laugh from the audience. As for myself, knowing the stories about O’Hare, I thought JMS was joking.
But Straczynski paused, slowly choosing his words. The wise-cracking writer with the no-nonsense attitude was getting serious.
“Michael was having those problems. He was barreling toward a nervous breakdown.”
He said that everyone was in agreement to suspend the show so that Michael could get the treatment he needed, but that he simply wouldn’t let them. As bad off as he was, Straczynski said, he didn’t want all those people to lose their jobs because of his problems.
Ultimately, and with difficulties that none of us can imagine, O’Hare finished the season and JMS wrote his character off the show. O’Hare then got the got treatment he so desperately needed. JMS mentioned how difficult of a process it was, finding first the right drugs and then the right dosage. O’Hare did the Convention circuit that year, and when people saw how sickly he was becoming, it prompted rumors of drug abuse.
“Well yeah, it was because of drugs, but not the way you think,” Straczynski said, referring to O’Hare’s treatment.
As all of this was going on, Straczynski reassured O’Hare that his health issues would never come to light.
“I told him that his secret was safe with me. That I would take it to my grave. And he just looked at me and said, “No. Don’t take it to your grave; take it to mine.”
O’Hare just knew that Joe was going to outlive him, and the reason he said that was because after he was gone, O’Hare wanted “the fans to know that they helped sustain me.” That was why Straczynski recounted the story at the Phoenix Con - so fans would know how much they meant to a sick man.
Michael seemed to pull through, well enough to do a two part episode to close out the character’s story, though that was essentially the end of his career. He had a few good years, got married, had a child.
And then, Joe said, he stopped his meds. And when that happens, often times it’s simply too difficult to get back on them.
Joe Straczynski, the frank and forward man, stopped and thought.
“And then, just about a year ago, we lost him.”
He stopped again, fighting back the memories.
“He was my friend. And it was unfair. And that’s all I want to say about that.”
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
I thought long and hard about it, whether or not I agreed with the ending of Man of Steel. I initially gave the filmmakers credit for trying to modernize Superman, to bring him into the more morally clouded 21st century. But the more and more I thought about it, the less and less I liked what I had seen. I would not have had such a problem with the ending if it had not been for the fact that the whole movie was leading up to something completely different.
Most specifically, there is the Jesus parallels, which have always pervaded the Superman mythos. In this film, though, the viewer was beaten over the head with the idea. Oh, Superman just happens to be 33 years old, the same age as Jesus in the Bible? Oh, the big crossroads moment of Superman choosing his path just happens to come in a church, apropos of nothing previously in the film? Oh, Clark debates his choices in a close up, with a stained glass window of Jesus taking up the entire scene behind him? Oh, the ongoing theme is that he is meant to be the Savior, whether it is of the Kryptonians or the humans? I get it; he’s Jesus. Two and a half hours of that being drilled into the viewer’s head, only to land on: the only way Jesus can save humanity is to kill the bad guys.
See the problem?