Collections. Series. Runs. Seasons. Sets. Discographies. Filmographies. When geeks love a thing, they’re often overwhelmed with the desire to consume or possess all of that very thing. It’s not enough to say you’ve done some or many or several or a lot of a particular thing. Whatever you did, watched, read, listened to, or owned, what matters most is you managed all of it.
I can think of numerous examples off the top of my head for most steps of the filmmaking process and marketing campaign. To illustrate my apathy, let me walk you through the vantage point of internet news outlets — not official sources such as The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, or Nikki Finke, but the other guys. Pretty much all the other guys.
For the sake of argument, let’s pretend the following examples revolve around a remake of the 1975 police drama Mitchell, which starred Joe Don Baker as Oscar Madison from The Odd Couple, plus a gun, minus friends. Let’s pretend we’re in a near-future dystopia in which Hollywood used up its first 5,000 ideas and the only things standing between us and the bottom of the barrel are Mitchell and The Snorks. And James Cameron already has plans for the Snorks.
As much as I post about the entertainment options around me, I can’t immerse myself in them 24/7. Sometimes they disappoint or frustrate me. Sometimes they demand more of my time and attention than I care to give. Sometimes the idols among them remind me how their previous versions guided me through childhood. While I grew up and improved in a way or two, too many of those idols lost their luster, descended into mediocrity, or had their Reset buttons punched to turn them into different creatures with the same names. Ultimately they’re undependable as worldview building materials.
Hence my weekly one-man retreat. Every Sunday morning after church I isolate myself from my loved ones and collections, hole up in a local chain eatery that has plenty of loitering space (it’s not too hard to identify if you know the place), clear my mind, and spend an hour-plus with caffeine, snack, Bible, spiral-bound notebook, and a copy of the late Oswald Chambers’ devotional collection My Utmost for His Highest.
For those newer readers who’ve been wondering to themselves for months: I assure you the “faith” mentioned in the site subtitle isn’t a typo.
You love him in TV’s Sherlock. You thought he was one of the best things in Star Trek Into Darkness even though he straight-up lied to the press about his character. You were annoyed by his ten-minute role in War Horse despite having no idea who he was at the time. You’re looking forward to his dual roles in Peter Jackson’s overextended Hobbit trilogy. You’re undecided about watching him play Alexander Godunov in The Fifth Estate. You noticed his name in the fine print for August: Osage County and are weighing your options.
Today is now the best day of your week because the internet has collectively decided to buy into the sketchy rumor that Benedict Cumberbatch, England’s second-biggest export of the decade after One Direction, has allegedly been cast to play an unnamed role in JJ Abrams’ still-untitled Trek sequel, Star Wars Episode VII. On a normal news day, your competent aggregator sites and discerning bloggers prefer to wait for official word from the likes of Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline Hollywood Daily, or from TV news a full two months later. Sometimes, though, some headlines are just too awesome for professional composure or baseline fact-checking. Thus, this gossip is popping up everywhere today.
Along those same lines, I’ve decided to announce the nonexistent, completely unfounded, nonetheless tantalizing rumor than Cumberbatch has also signed on to give life to the role of brave Sir Johan in Smurfs 3. Just because I can, and clearly because we geeks now demand that he star in everything ever hereafter.
One digression was left unexplored due to issues of relevance and length:
My reluctance to embrace MP3s would require an entry in itself. Short answer: not at this time, but thank you for the option.
Far be it from me to let a promise of digression remain unrequited.
I recognize that digital music has numerous advantages over CDs and its precursors, but I have yet to embrace iTunes or to fill multiple external hard drives with jams for a variety of reasons. Some of them may sound tired and overused; most are conclusions I reached over the years after repeated bouts of personal deliberation. Continue reading
Greetings from busy, action-packed Illinois! After several hours spent at Day 1 of C2E2, my wife and I are glad to relax at last, off our feet and without our backpacks burdening us any longer. So far we’ve had a delightful experience, met several comics creators and a few Star Wars actors, acquired a few freebies and several quality items, and made plans for Day 2 on Saturday. Until then we’re enjoying the quiet ambiance of a particular hotel that’s treated us well before, up in the scenic village of Rosemont, down the street from the Donald E, Stephens Convention Center.
Careful readers, and anyone with a passing knowledge of the Chicago geek convention scene, may notice a discrepancy: C2E2 is being held at McCormick Place, a different convention center in a different Chicagoland section altogether, nearly twenty miles away. According to conventional convention wisdom, we’re doing it wrong.
We don’t mind. We have our reasons:
Just as Star Wars fans spent weeks celebrating in the streets at the news that their beloved childhood franchise will return to theaters, so is another fan base breaking out the party hats this week…and, more importantly, their wallets.
In a first for a major-studio intellectual property, Warner Bros. has allowed producer/creator Rob Thomas to use the power of crowdfunding to extract Veronica Mars from mothballs and feature her in a major motion picture. Thomas launched a Kickstarter campaign less than 48 hours ago with a lofty goal of $2,000,000.00. As Thomas describes the conditional deal with Warner Bros.:
Of course, Warner Bros. still owns Veronica Mars and we would need their blessing and cooperation to pull this off. Kristen and I met with the Warner Bros. brass, and they agreed to allow us to take this shot. They were extremely cool about it, as a matter of fact. Their reaction was, if you can show there’s enough fan interest to warrant a movie, we’re on board. So this is it. This is our shot. I believe it’s the only one we’ve got. It’s nerve-wracking. I suppose we could fail in spectacular fashion, but there’s also the chance that we completely revolutionize how projects like ours can get made. No Kickstarter project ever has set a goal this high. It’s up to you, the fans, now. If the project is successful, our plan is to go into production this summer and the movie will be released in early 2014.
Thomas worried for naught. Pledges from tens of thousands of fans reached that formidable goal in a record-setting, jaw-dropping twelve hours, leaving 29½ days for slower fans and curious bandwagon-jumpers to keep adding to the budget in hopes of upgrading the film from niche project to wide-release underdog, maybe even with action scenes and trained stuntmen. At the rate the pledges are accumulating, they’ll have enough money to set it in 2030 and equip Veronica and her dad with robot sidekicks.
Fun trivia: I bought my very first ebook at GenCon 2012. When I accompanied my wife in the autograph line for Michael A. Stackpole, author of some of her favorite Star Wars Expanded Universe novels (several books in the Rogue Squadron series), I was surprised that one of the few items for sale at his table was a superhero novel called In Hero Years…I’m Dead. In lieu of hard copies, Stackpole had it available only on disk in ebook format. Undaunted by my complete lack of an eReader, I bought a copy anyway, for a few reasons:
1. I rarely buy much at GenCon because I’m not a gamer. The only vendors to extract profit from me were Stackpole and Oni Press, the only professional comics publisher on site.
2. I read the Rogue Squadron graphic novels Stackpole wrote for Dark Horse Comics once upon a time. Not bad, considering I read none of the novels and had no idea who most of the characters were. (Wedge, yes. The others, my wife had to explain to me.)
3. I’ve found the best way to spur myself into trying a new medium is to buy a work first, then worry about the device later. We owned our first DVD (The Phantom Menace) months before I bought my first DVD player. Likewise, the Blu-ray in my Up combo pack waited a good while before I could do anything with it. So there’s a precedent.
I’d like to read Stackpole’s novel at some point. As of this writing, though, I still have no eReader. I didn’t ask for one for Christmas. It wasn’t targeted on my Black Friday hunt. I’m not saving up for one. It’s not even on my wish list.
I found merit in the three theatrical releases that Abrams directed so far. (In order I’d rank Trek first, MI:III second, and Super 8 irksome but not terrible.) I bear him no ill will and wish his fourth film, Star Trek: Into Darkness starring man’s-man Benedict Cumberbatch and some other guys, were in theaters exactly now. I’ve seen all six Star Wars films several times apiece; follow the Clone Wars animated series; have partaken of several Dark Horse Comics SW projects; once read an entire Star Wars Expanded Universe novel; and am married to a wondrous woman whose encyclopedic knowledge of SW EU doesn’t frighten or alienate me. No matter who directs Episode VII: the Cash Cow Cavalry of Corellia, I expect to see it at least once.
All that being said: today’s announcement does nothing for me.
Despite the fun my wife and I have had attending comic book and sci-fi conventions together, I’ve heard the best con-related stories happen after hours, whether at the scheduled night-owl events or at the nearest hotel bars after official programming is over. Casual encounters and chats in the convention hallways or between panels during daylight hours have their charm and keep the weekend lively, but the Internet keeps telling me that con parties are where the real geek gathering happens. Be there or be even squarer-than-square.
The last convention we attended made no secret that drinks are part and parcel of the community experience. The guests on stage and the more boisterous audience members traded comments back and forth about their plans that evening, about the drinks that left the most indelible impression on them, or about the previous night’s unforgettable rowdiness. In such settings, everyone’s an adult capable of making their own decisions and surrounded by like-minded folks out for a good time. The convention is an attractive draw in itself, but it’s also a great excuse for sharing hobbies and activities other than science fiction or comics. To a certain extent it beats the good old days, when everyone lived in isolation in separate states because they had no idea that anyone else on Earth was quite like them. There’s something to be said for engendering fellowship and the interconnectedness of “family”, so to speak.