Rest in Peace, Dan O'Bannon

In all the hubub of the holiday, the sad news of Dan O'Bannon's passing was lost in the shuffle. Which is, in a way, characteristic of what happened to O'Bannon throughout his career. He was never a celebrity, and perhaps that's because he was truly one of "us". Just another geek. 

I don't say that to marginalize him in any way. I say it with pride, to claim him as one of our own. He made it in the industry, able to channel all that passion and knowledge into a formidable career. And if he can make it, so can any of us. In fact, we may all want to consider striving to be more like Dan O'Bannon than Steven Spielberg or George Lucas.

I'm sorry to say I had never even heard of him until my Dad gifted me with the deluxe box set of Alien a few years ago. I'm a special features junkie, my whole family has always craved behind-the-scenes info, so when my Dad saw the box set, he passed it onto me quickly.

When Dan O'Bannon popped onscreen, I thought I had kind of died and gone to geek heaven. He was so blissfully uncool, relating his harrowing tales of trying to make it in the film industry. Sleeping on friends' couches, living with frustration while his freshman efforts were scoffed at, and continuing on no matter what criticism or trouble he faced. 

Because what he loved more than anything in the world was the idea of getting a reaction out of an audience. There was nothing arrogant about him, he shared credit. He had no shame when talking about weeping the first time he saw Alien on the big screen. He was so incredibly easy to love.

Only later did I find out that he was also responsible for another one of my kinder-traumas, the apocalyptic sci-fi horror film, Lifeforce. He also did the surprisingly well-done Invaders from Mars, which seems like it should be silly now simply because of the time and budget with which it was made. But it lives on like the kid's version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In fact, movies like The Faculty borrowed heavily from that film, even if by accident just while embodying the genre.

O'Bannon was charming and down-to-earth. He was the perfect example of why "geek" is a way of life. Geeks can never become cool, but they can become successful and respected and well-loved. When one of us breaks through the way Dan did, there's just no looking back. Dan was grateful for his success and gracious about it.

He was a master of tension and suspense. He consistently payed homage to the comics and films that he loved as a child, never willing to separate his work from his inspirations and therefore never creating anything he needed to be ashamed of, whether something he worked on became a timeless hit or a cult classic.

He will be sorely missed and I'm truly sad I never had the chance to sit down and talk with him about any of his work or his life.

Dan O'Bannon


Zombie Girl - Interview with Co-Director Aaron Marshall


As the year draws to a close, I'm still cleaning out ye olde freelance closet. That means some
articles written for publication that hit the floor are getting a second life here on my blog.

This one was written in August and due for publication around Halloween...

It's an interview with the co-director of the endearing documentary Zombie Girl. I call it a must-see for any film geeks, fans of the zombie and documentary genres or aspiring filmmakers. Consider watching the trailer first (if you've never seen the documentary) before reading the interview.


Interview with Aaron Marshall

You may have heard of the documentary Zombie Girl. It’s the Austin-based film about a 13 year old girl who set out to make a full-length feature film. A zombie movie she wrote called, Pathogen. It’s gaining notoriety in the public eye after winning a handful of awards and making a memorable appearance at Comic-Con this July. (The Zombie Girl screening was completely full.)


Vikings, Sea Monsters and Mel Gibson...no, seriously.

This week's script news over at fivesprockets.com. Read it and weep. Oh, how I LOVE you Universal monsters...but especially you Gill Man. In fact, my second ever freelance writing assignment was a eulogy for Ben Chapman, the original Gill Man himself as seen in this picture. In fact, I can remember watching the original, "Creature from the Black Lagoon" as a kid, and between that and, "African Queen", and seeing, "Jurassic Park" in the theater at the age of ten, my love of the jungle adventure genre was born!

On a random note...it's just occuring to me how often I write eulogies...weird.


Director of Confessions of a Superhero Responds to Dennis Interview

Matt Ogens, the director of the captivating and entertaining documentary, Confessions of a Superhero, sent me an email after I posted my last entry. He wanted to let his side of the story be known, and of course, I am more than happy to oblige...

Here is what Ogens had to say to me via email regarding his relationship with Dennis and the others regarding contracts.

"Read your blog about Confessions of a Superhero. I'm the director and one of the producers. I'm happy to comment on Chris Dennis's accusation that we would not let him out of his contract.

His portrayal of what happened is less than accurate to say the least. We gave them agreements for their story rights as we intended to make a film or tv series based on them, which would have been in collaboration with them. They also would have rec'd backend points. Of course they would be able to act in other projects...but after much complaining on their parts I agreed to release them from their contracts free of charge. I sent them the agreements releasing them and they never signed them...so not sure what they are thinking at this point."

And one more email, "Chris's take on the situation could not be any further from the truth. We offered to obtain their life rights (for a small amount of money plus backend percentages if we sold it that would guarantee more). We are independent filmmakers without deep pockets.

Chris and some of the other characters jump at every opportunity - for example we had exclusive rights to our characters for the doc, which is normal. Why would we want them to be in other documentaries while we're still making ours, yet Chris, Max, and Joe were each in 2 other documentaries that started being filmed after ours.

While they breached our trust and agreement we moved forward in good faith. We planned on attempting to sell a feature or unscripted television project based on the documentary, however, I was getting so many complaints from Chris and Max I offered to release them of their rights at no cost whatsoever.

Any other information you were given by them whatsoever is a fabrication. FYI - the rights we obtained would not have prevented them from acting in any project (as Jenny has many times).

I think a big issue, understandably, for a couple of the characters is once the film was sold it was out of our hands. And I moved forward onto other projects. Some of them expected the ride to last forever and for me to get them work, agents, et cetera, which I have no idea how I could have done. Additionally, they think we made millions of dollars of this film. It's a documentary. We're still out of pocket."

So there you have it, the follow-up to the Christopher Dennis interview. For the record, I can see both sides of the story and much like Switzerland...I'd like to remain as neutral as possible at this point.


Catching up with Superman - Christopher Dennis of the documentary Confessions of a Superhero

I did this interview with Christopher Dennis last May. It was slated for publication in Geek Monthly this summer, then again most recently for the Digital Subscriber's issue in November. This was, hands down, my favorite interview. Dennis was a genuine joy. Sincerity is a quality sorely lacking in today's world. He and his colleagues have it in spades.

Speaking of which, the article will also catch you up on a few of the other superheroes from the documentary. Please enjoy. Heaven knows, the world needs a Superman.


If you’ve seen, Confessions of a Superhero you already know the name, Christopher Dennis. If you haven’t seen the quirky documentary about struggling actors in Los Angeles, perhaps you’ve heard of The Hollywood Superman.

You may have seen him on Jimmy Kimmel Live as part of a troupe of performing superheroes. You may have seen him posing for photographs with tourists in front of the iconic Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Then again, maybe you’ve never heard of him at all.


Script Bits - Werewolves, Robots, and Lawyers

This week's Script Bits is up over at FiveSprockets.com

You can catch Script Bits every Tuesday and the Movie Release Report every Friday over at FiveSprockets.com, which is quite handy when you aren't sure what all your options are for weekend movies.

Screeners of, "The Men Who Stare at Goats" and Michael Moore's, "Capitalism: A Love Story" just arrived today and I'll be posting a review of, "My One and Only" here soon. Hooray for holiday breaks that allow you to catch up on film reviews and awards voting!


The Best Action Heroines

I can almost say I wrote the book on them...

But for now it will have to be, "I wrote the blog on them."

With my background in film studies and my regular participation in the Women's Film Critics Circle, (..and okay, my slightly unhealthy obsession with action and adventure movies...) I thought now was as good a time as any to do something with my lingering pet project, a book in progress on action heroines of film.

Since I'm still not even really half done, I figured I'd put it out there to the world as a blog in progress with chapters. Nothing like "Born For Geekdom", which features regular entries. More like an online collection of essays.

This will give it room to grow, but it won't languish in darkness any longer. I find that I'm most productive when there's a plan in place, so this works quite well for me!


My very talented friend, Aron Deppert, designed the banner, just as he did for this website. Many thanks to him for sharing his talents!


How to Geek Out

This is a post that's been up over at Ehow.com where I have over 100 articles published. But the site has recently changed it's rules and will now disallow opinion articles, which means many of mine will be coming down. So any relevant to Born For Geekdom will have a new home here! Here's the article, "How to Geek Out". 


If you've been holding back on your geeky obsessions because you've been afraid that it would make you immature, you've been robbing yourself of one of life's greatest joys. Geeking out can help you relax, provide you with free therapy, lead you to community, and can actually help you set your feet on the path to living your dreams. Here are 5 easy steps to help you get all the benefits from your inner geek. 

Step 1

Lose your inhibitions. I mean, not all of them. Don't break any laws and try to avoid public nudity. But anything about yourself that you find embarrassing, whatever it is, just go with it. Your inhibitions could be the very reason why you aren't following your dreams or feeling fulfilled.

Step 2

Reconnect to your childhood. I'm a geek for lots of things, Star Trek, movies, Disney, comics...I geek out over at least a dozen "silly" pursuits. The truth is, they're all things I loved when I was a kid. So if you're feeling less than inspired, go back to what it was that you really loved in your most formative years, before you had to think like an adult and learn to live with self-doubt. Even if your passions have changed as a grown up, remembering what it was that affected you emotionally as a child can help you reconnect with how to be inspired all over again.

Step 3

Channel your inspiration. What does it make you feel like doing? Do you want to share your passion? Maybe you could geek out as a Sci-Fi columnist. Do you feel particularly inspired to create? Maybe you should be a photographer or a painter. Start following your inclinations. When you feel inspired, try to figure out what it is that you want to do with that without censoring yourself.

Step 4

Find other geeks. Get inspired by the way other people have followed their passions. Ask them how they got where they are today and use that information to make your own way. I know a professional pirate. No kidding, that's what she does. She dresses up as a pirate and makes appearances, and she's paying the bills with this. There is a way to make a living geeking out. There is a way to take your geekdom into the real world. Don't be a scary shut-in geek who doesn't use his/her geekiness for the benefit of others. Share it! It's a gift.

Step 5

Don't ever stop. One geeky thing can always lead to another. My love of sharing cool stuff as a kid lead to my desire to be a film critic and a writer as an adult. And I am constantly finding cool new things to geek out over, which usually leads to some strange new adventure or unexpected gig as a magazine writer and interviewer of very cool people. Which is something I never would've planned for myself, but it happened through a natural progression of following the geek trail. So keep looking for inspiration and keep acting on whatever it is that catches your fancy!

Oh, and just FYI, consider this a bonus tip...

Don't get confused. Geeking out and being unhealthily obsessed are two different things. A healthy geek lives and operates in the real world, so no month long LARPing excursions, okay? I mean, you've seen, "Mazes and Monsters" right?


10 Sassy Dames of the Silver Screen and the Movie Musical

1. Lana Turner in Ziegfeld Girl

This was one of Turner's finest and most complex performances. In it, she doles out the sass to family, friends, bosses, and her boyfriend, played by Jimmy Stewart. Her complex character eventually ends up in some proverbial hot water.

This film is tough to find clips of, so I'll treat you to the trailer which shows plenty of evidence of Turner's fine performance. My favorite line? "You're not the guy to defrost me."

2. Ginger Rogers in Shall We Dance

Rogers usually played hard-to-get against Astaire's over-eager. But I think her funniest and sassiest performance was in, "Shall We Dance" where Rogers plays an exhausted starlet hardened by the world of showbiz.

This film contains themes of masking, female ambition, and living in a man's world. All of which Rogers handles expertly. As Astaire frequently noted, watch her do everything he does here "backwards and in heels", and this time...on roller skates.

3. Angela Lansbury in The Harvey Girls

Ever wanted to see Angela Lansbury fist-fight with Judy Garland? That happens in this movie. Once upon a time, before Lansbury was solving mysteries, serving tea, and ruling Broadway, she was a character actress who specialized in the stereotypical "bad girl". And she was a total dish.

4. Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Russell was consistently ahead of her time. Especially in this movie, where she not only managed to raise eyebrows in a now funny but once scandalous routine, but she also was able to parody her co-star, Marilyn Monroe in a bold impression that could've easily been considered an insult. Russell was fearless and as a result, unforgettable.

5. Betty Grable in Pin Up Girl

In this film, Grable plays a con-artist so good she fools her way into a musical theater career. Grable was typically in films centered around some kind of con. "The Merry Widow" is below and it's a good example of how most of her songs stood in sharp contrast to her sunny characters. This juxtaposition meant she could sing about rather dark material.

6. Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby

This is possibly Hepburn's sassiest role ever, just watch the trailer if you don't believe me.

7. Cyd Charisse in Singin' In The Rain

I doubt there's anyone on the planet that doesn't know about this famous dance. But here, Charisse has the chance to play the man-eater, a gangster's girlfriend in Gene Kelly's extended daydream. This is a legendary performance in the world of dance and it only takes seconds to understand why.

8. Rita Hayworth in Cover Girl

In this film, Hayworth plays a woman punished for her career ambitions, a repeating theme for her onscreen. You could read a lot into this seemingly innocent number which comes at a pivotal time in the film, in which Hayworth stands in for a mannequin to dance with Gene Kelly.

Her character is consistently forced to choose between what others want her to be for them and what she wants to be for herself. If you enjoy this, watch "Put the Blame on Mame" from Gilda next.

9. Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot

Monroe was often relegated to the role of vapid nymphette, but in this case, she portrayed a complicated woman who refused to play by society's rules. Her character can be timid about it, but she refuses to live as a woman "should've" at that time. Often Monroe was cast as a character with two faces, one seemingly passive to men, but one also aware of the persuasive power of her femininity. It was a constant through all her films.

10. Eleanor Powell in The Broadway Melody of 1940

You haven't seen a high kick until you've seen an Eleanor Powell high kick. (Why do I feel like I should be holding a cigar and talking like James Cagney when I say that?) At the 2:45 minute mark of the video below, Powell starts dancing...and I'd be more than willing to bet you've never seen anything like it.

Runners up for the list were Ann Miller, Martha Raye, Carmen Miranda, Audrey Hepburn, and...oh who am I kidding? There'll just have to be another list.


10 Life Lessons on Art and Creativity from Don Hahn (and Don's "How To Create" List)

I hate this picture of me. But I didn't feel like asking
Mr. Hahn if he was willing to wait for me to refresh
my hair and makeup. Or hire a stand-in...

On Sunday, I decided to watch, "The Haunted Mansion". Then I watched it with commentary, something I'd never done before. It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

The next day, I had tickets to a Heartland Film Festival seminar. Who was the first speaker of the day? It just so happened to be Don Hahn, Oscar-nominated Disney producer who worked on "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Haunted Mansion". These in addition to his other works "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and many more. The man is prolific, to say the least. A man whose name I learned, whose voice I had only heard for the first time on the Haunted Mansion commentary the day before.

Twilight Zone theme music, aside...

How I didn't know who he was and didn't know he would be there and somehow managed to prepare for the event will always mystify me. The presentation he gave on creativity that day touched on themes of obsession.


Sherlock Holmes, Meet Mr. Spock

Well, I've finally gone and done it. No turning back now. I have written the first little seed to my first Star Trek story. Next Gen, of course. I fully intend to flesh this out, a chapter a day until it's done, just the way that Louisa May Alcott finished "Little Women". It's a shame she never wrote about space...

Anyway, here's the link to my little seedling, it's just a tiny little thing now, a spark of an idea. So be gentle.

They say, "write what you know", and boy howdy...do I know my Trek. So theoretically, this should be far easier than any writing I've ever done before. I'm no stranger to writing about Trek, just new to the fiction genre. Here are some links to a few other Trek (and even a Holmes) article. Also, if you click on the Star Trek tag underneath this blog entry, you can read several blog entries I've written on Trek.

How to Live like a Star Fleet Officer
Any good Trekkie worth his/her salt will know what a Star Fleet officer is. For the rest of you, a Star Fleet officer is known as the best and brightest that the fictional future has to offer.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Why You Should Be Watching This Show on DVD
Bad writing is KILLING the art-form of storytelling via television! What lessons can this show from the late 80's/early 90's teach us about what good writing can do?

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
And you thought, "Spaceballs" was the only space comedy from the eighties.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "Sherlock Holmes" Stories: 5 Reasons to Read Them
There are still plenty of good reasons to be reading these stories.


7 Classic Halloween Cartoons

Here's an Animaniacs, "Good Idea, Bad Idea" designed just for Halloween.

Here's the darling Witch Hazel, at her Halloween best! My but her tiny little legs are limber...

If you ever run into a monster, just do this. It will give you plenty of time to escape. (Giant orange wardrobe shaped monster is "Gossamer" who never stood a chance against poor Bugs anytime he was featured.)

Here are all the musical segments from Garfield's Halloween Adventure, which I highly recommend watching in it's entirety.

Disney frequently did Halloween specials in the 80's, here's a remastered introduction from one of them. But searching for them on YouTube can bring SCADS of fun memories up and out of ye olde brain. (Who remembers the talking pumpkin puppet?)

It wouldn't be a cartoon Halloween without this classic Wizard's duel! Mad Madame Mim! But embedding has been disabled, but I say it's still worth a watch. CLICK HERE to watch!


The Battle Cry of a Grown Up Geek

I wrote this for a now defunct Forces of Geek column in January 2009. But I took a look at it again tonight as I'm starting to consider my thesis in graduate school. I dusted it off, made some changes, and low and behold I kind of had a mission statement not only for this blog, but for my entire life.

Hi, my name is Audrey, and I’m a huge geek.

I didn’t name my blog, “Born for Geekdom” for the way it rolls off the tongue. It’s not the most convenient turn of phrase.

But my whole philosophy on life has developed around the idea that although geeks may sometimes be socially awkward or full of useless knowledge, we have absolutely all the fun in life.

We're extremely passionate about what we like and why and we want to share that with anyone who will listen.

Years of teasing have worn down our inhibitions, which leads us to go on all kinds of madcap adventures to theme parks, conventions, movie premieres and the like without a second thought.

Sure, survival in grade school and middle school were tough. Like so many others that have come out as full-fledged geeks since, I was forged in the burning fires of a painful geekhood.

Yes, bringing, “Aliens” to a slumber party had tragic results when all the other girls showed up with romantic comedies.

Sure, bragging about all my knowledge of the Klingon home world didn’t score me bonus points in the gym class locker room.

Today, the physical signs of my geekdom are mostly gone. My giant “Scooter and Skeeter” glasses are no more. (Giant pink and purple frames with a stick-on unicorn on the lower left lens.)

My teeth may not be perfect, but thanks to braces they’re a far cry from the set of chompers I was working with as a child. (They would’ve made Gollum recoil in horror and politely suggest braces.)

I don’t know why, but I didn’t match my clothes. Ever. I had weird hair. Everything from a bowl cut to some seriously Vulcan bangs. To top it off, I was a late bloomer. So while all the other girls in my class were becoming experts with curling irons and hairspray, I still looked like a 9 year old boy with feet too big for my body.

I was loud, which sometimes saved me. Random outbursts of accidental class-clownery sometimes put me in the smart-aleck category, and the time I got sent to the office for not being willing to stop impersonating Roseanne Barr kind of lent me a brief rebel sheen. Soon after such incidents, my over-eager, what I would now call “Mary Catherine Gallagher-ness” usually put me right back at the bottom of the social food chain.

But, in my life, the end results of such early humiliations have been desirable. My penchant for all things once considered “uncool”, such as black and white movies and all things science-fiction, have found me a decent place in my modern community. (Nobody knew the INTERNET was coming and soon the geeks would close ranks. Ha!)

What I thought was a curse as a kid turned out to be an amazing gift as I grew older. It didn’t take me as long to “find myself” because I grew up learning not to apologize for what I liked. The teasing gave me a thick skin and I ended up with some seriously amazing friends, because no superficial people would come near me.

I tried new things frequently because I had nothing to lose; I was already being teased anyway. As time wore on and high school came and went, nobody cared anymore. The negative geek stigma left me, but all the benefits of my early geekhood stuck.

I’ve based the beginnings of my extremely humble career on the idea that I am a full-fledged geek. I am Trekkie, hear me roar! I am obsessed with things I am way to old to care about (cartoons) and I find myself suffering long bouts of intense inspiration with things that might seem strange to others, such as my cyclical relationship with the Haunted Mansion. I don't write for the New Yorker or Literary journals, but I do regularly appear in Geek Monthly magazine and guest in publications like Animation World, Orlando Attractions, Haunted Attraction, and so on.

I peddle myself as a geek, and usually list it in my byline. Lots of people use that shtick today, so I often wonder if identifying myself as such is all but white noise. Nowadays, “geek” is a brand that can sometimes be achieved by a pair of drugstore glasses and the espousing of some superficial pop culture knowledge. And don’t even get me started on the woes of modern lady geekhood…

So why do I do it? Because, I’m proud. Because it’s true. Because I couldn’t always be proud of it as a kid, but you better believe I can be now. And you should be too.


Harvey Pekar In Real Life

If you've never seen the highly praised HBO film, American Splendor starring Paul Giamatti, you should. It's the brilliantly told tale of a comic book writer who made a name for himself writing comics about...himself.

No superheroes, no magic powers...just his life as a file clerk at a VA hospital.  The film leans into the layers of storytelling. Not only the actor portraying him but the real-life man behind the story, Harvey Pekar.

We also meet some of his quirkier friends and family members. My absolute favorite being the "genuine nerd" Toby Radloff, who became something of a real life celebrity after his appearances in Pekar's comic, also named, American Splendor.

Genuine Nerd Movie Trailer


Why I Love Sigourney Weaver

So in celebration of one of my largest obsessions, action heroines, I'm re-releasing some previous material from my old ForcesofGeek.com column here on my blog. This is a chunk of my ode to Sigourney Weaver that I wrote over a year ago, and I still hope to use it as a chapter in a book of essays on action heroines someday soon. (When there is a rip in the space time continuum that allows me to go back in time and do two things at once.)

Alien was only Sigourney Weaver’s third film role. Her third film role, and it was her first starring role. Not only did she manage to kick off her career by starring in one of the biggest and most influential sci-fi films of all time, but she also managed to turn around and brilliantly spoof the roles that women are often relegated to in the 1999 comedy gem, Galaxy Quest. (Which initially looks like the ultimate Trek spoof, but turns out to be the greatest non-Trek cinematic love letter ever written to Roddenberry's franchise.)

Weaver has played both strength and weakness convincingly throughout her career. Maybe it’s thanks to the fact that her breakout performance was that of one of our most definitive action heroines that gave her license to do whatever else she wanted to with her career and not be typecast. Once you’ve played such a convincing hero, does anyone ever have the right to accuse you of playing a female stereotype? Sure, they have the right. But then, you could just punch them in the face because you’re so buff from training for your roles.

Then there’s the underwear thing. Weaver is frequently in her underwear as her character, “Ripley”. To me, that just makes the character of Ripley much more vulnerable, so much more human. Pair that with the fact that the entire cast of the sequel, Aliens, also appears in their underwear and it just becomes the great equalizer. 

“See? We’re all wearing underwear. We could all be eaten by aliens because we’re puny humans…look how puny we are, standing here in our underwear.” It’s a wincing vulnerability. What’s worse than being eaten by an alien monster? Being eaten by a alien monster while only wearing your underwear.

The character of Ripley is tough, but she’s not untouchable. She panics and she screams, which gives her a more real-world quality. Yes, I’m aware I just pronounced an alien-fighter as feeling “real world”. But these are not always traits that make it into the more modern action films.

There’s a whole trend out there of calm and collected action heroines who barely flinch when fired upon. (A la Angelina Jolie in everything.) This is okay (I heart Tomb Raider), and it’s partly due to the boom of superhero films we’ve experienced over the last decade. It’s just a different style.
But I think it’s Weaver’s terrified performance in Alien that keeps it from feeling like grade B schlock. If she were immediately tough when confronted with a big slimy alien with many mouths, we’d think, “Yeah right.” And roll our eyes.

But watching her fight for her life makes you so uncomfortable, that you can’t help but picture yourself in that situation. That’s exactly how a horror movie should make you feel.

Sidebar: Think of all the horror films that didn’t feel scary even though they had impressive effects. Why weren’t you scared? Likely because you didn’t believe in what was happening onscreen. It’s the difference between the original “House on Haunted Hill” and the remake. Sidebar over.

Here’s something else to chew on. Is the character of Ripley a horror vixen, an action heroine, or a sci-fi star? She allows us to be afraid and vulnerable via her experiences, and again, she’s in her underwear a lot. So that qualifies her for horror vixenhood.

She wields giant guns, has some pretty wicked arm muscles, sweats, and doesn’t “take no crap from nobody” which obviously makes her an action heroine.

Lastly, she outsmarts aliens and pilots spaceships. There you have it, she’s also a sci-fi star.
There are so many reasons to love Sigourney Weaver, especially in the realm of geekdom.
There's her voice work from Futurama, again, her comedic genius in Galaxy Quest, and her classic role from Ghostbusters. (In which, I'd like to note, she was smarter than any of the men appearing in the film, barring Spangler, of course.)

Weaver is one of my ultimate geek role models for a plethora of reasons, too many to mention here on ye olde blog. How about you, what do you love about her as an actress?


Star Tours II

Very exciting post over at http://www.loadedcouchpotatoes.com/ about the second iteration of the SUPER FUN Disney ride, "Star Tours".

Read the post HERE.


If you've never been able to enjoy this ride, you can read my review of the ride HERE.

And here's the complete ride video, though I'm sure I've posted it before, I'd say this news earns it a second post! I just rode the WDW version of this a couple of weeks ago, and no matter how old I get...it's still giddy fun. You may also notice a certain Mr. Paul Reubens as the voice of the pilot droid. Just an added geek bonus. And our friend who wrote the article about the second Star Tours ride pointed out to Jake, Josh and I that George Lucas makes a cameo in the ride at the very end. Can you spot him?


My Top 15 Most Helpful Robots in Film and Television

What robots lack in social graces, they more than make up for in handiness. They’re practically walking Swiss army knives. Here they are, in no particular order, in what reads like a list straight out of a pageant from outer space…the 15 most helpful robots in film and television...


Interview with Werner Weiss of "Yesterland"

For those of you that don't know, I'm a huge Disney geek. I try to get to one of the parks at least once a year, to refuel creatively. A technique I learned from Jeff Baham, creator of Doombuggies.com 

A couple years ago, I went on the hunt for details of an extinct Disney attraction, the "Monster Sound Show" starring Chevy Chase and Martin Short. This hunt ended up as fuel for my first Orlando Attractions Column, "Retro Orlando".

I discovered there were more freaks for details and trivia like me. On my search, I stumbled upon Yesterland, a website devoted to shows and attractions that no longer exist in the Disney theme parks. Before this, I thought the only truly immersive websites for Disney fans were Doombuggies and TellNoTales.

I was lucky to correspond a bit with site creator and curator Werner Weiss, just one Disney geek to another.


Cory Doctorow Interview and More

Just thought I'd drop a quick line to let you know that my interview with Cory Doctorow can be seen in the Autumn issue of, "Orlando Attractions Magazine". I originally interviewed him for an article I did on the 40th anniversary of the Haunted Mansion for Geek Monthly this summer. But there was so much of that interview that I couldn't fit into that one article. I needed to find it a home of it's own! 

You can pre-order the issue HERE.


The Top 15 Unconventional Leading Ladies of Film

The women on this list are all weirdos and that's why I love them. Here's to characters that don't fit the mold, who make you think twice. Different can be good, you know. Nay, great. In no particular order, they are...

Joaquin and Crispin

Bear with me...

I've been listening to Pandora.com where I have a Johnny Cash station. So they played some songs from Joaquin Phoenix's performance as Johnny Cash in, "Walk The Line". (Love Johnny, love the movie, love the music, love it all.)

SO. I decide to Google Joaquin and see how he's doing. He's always been a favorite actor of mine, all the way back to, "Space Camp". (Yep, he's in it. Go rent it, it's a throwback classic.) Ever since his strange Letterman appearance, he sort of dissapeared, which is a shame for all of us. This has been alarming to some people, but I feel okay about it. Why? Because he's clearly mid-mockumentary or art project or film or performance art.

Exhibit A, as we all know, is that Casey Affleck, a close personal friend of his is filming a "documentary" about Joaquin's attempted leap to the rap business.

But Exhibit B, though it can only be counted as peripheral at best, is Crispin Glover. Glover made a now notrious appearance on Letterman in 1987, clearly in character. People thought he was insane or on drugs. Here is that appearance.

Here is a trailer for a movie he did that was released not too long after his appearance...

How this can remain a mystery after the existence of the movie and the appearance together is a mystery to me. It's obvious, right?

So Joaquin is doing the same thing, or so I choose to believe. It's the weirdos who make the best, or at least the most intersting, performers.


This one goes to eleven *points at self*

What a week, a whirlwind of a first week at grad school. Also, we leave for Florida tomorrow to film "Park Geeks" this weekend, so I had to write my Friday column early.

Times of transition have never been easy for me, and all I can say is that I thank my lucky stars that I have so much to do that it makes my head spin. I can remember a time when I was a bored geek, bored and lonely. Now I have so many projects going, there literally aren't enough hours in the day. My internal clock is so confused, I'm up at all hours of the day and night. Did you know that WGN shows Star Trek: Next Gen at 1:00 a.m.? I do. Because I never sleep. I'm like some nerdy vampire, sucking the life out of all the pop culture around me just to stay alive.

This will be an interesting semester for sure...something will have to give. I'll have to quit something sooner or later, narrow my focus, or go insane.

Too late...

Seriously, how much did Freddie Mercury look like Ben Stiller from, "Zoolander" in that video? Funny, eh? This next one's for BSU, in one of a million clips that I could choose from, "Spinal Tap" this morning that would be eerily relevant, including anything from the song, "Hell Hole" or the iconic scene from the airport.

Oh what the heck, one more Spinal Tap. Taphead FOR LIFE!


A Plethora of Funs

There's no better way to start a week than by watching a kicky little montage of some of the best scenes from, "The Three Amigos". What's the reason? There is no reason! This is the joy of owning your own blog my friends...

If that didn't make you smile, you're dead inside.

Now go have a good week. Or else I'll post more montages.


Results of the Haunted Mansion Slumber Party!

I KNEW IT!!! Guess who shows up FIRST??? If you want to see footage from the entire night, I found a YouTube Channel that posted almost everything. It's HERE.

Thank you so much to "Inside the Magic" for posting this video. I tried with all my might to stay up until 3 am and watch the live web feed, but I only made it to 2:30is.


Happy Birthday Haunted Mansion

You're 40, but "you haven't aged a day". I wish I could be with you on your big day, but I know you'll have lots of guests to celebrate. I'll save our next visit for when we can really chat...

A radio station down in Florida held a contest to promote the anniversary, and some lucky listeners will be spending the NIGHT in the mansion tonight and Disney has promised that they will not be alone! They've installed a webcam, and they're strongly encouraging people to be watching around Midnight tonight. It's very exciting!

Here's the link if your curiosity gets the better of you, it was passed on to me by the fellas from the "Inside the Magic" podcast. My money is on an appearance by Gus, Phineas, and Ezra, the famous hitchhiking ghosts! Who do you think will be there? On a scale of 1 to 10, how jealous are you of the folks who get to do this? I'm on a big fat level 10! Can you even imagine being let loose in the Haunted Mansion for the evening???

I welcome any foolish mortals to read my complete and total geek-outs over my favorite ride in the most recent issue of Haunted Attraction Magazine, June's Geek Monthly, an upcoming article in Orlando Attractions Magazine, this older interview with the Holiday Overlay Ghost Host voice, Corey Burton for Animation World Magazine, and if you want to see pictures of our time at the Swinging Wake in Disneyland (A party for Haunted Mansion lovers hosted by Doombuggies.com), just ask or friend me on Myspace or Facebook.

I also highly encourage anyone and everyone to visit the incredible fanpage for the Mansion, http://www.doombuggies.com/. There are banners at the bottom of my page and a couple of the right side as well, you could spend hours there on all the amazing behind-the-scenes goodies, trivia, photos and history!


Thank You, John Hughes

I just heard the news of John Hughes passing a few minutes ago. I'm surprised, mostly because he was so young, but also because he's been out of the public consciousness for a while. I mean, he can't ever really leave the public consciousness, his footprint will always be there even if his films aren't topically at the forefront of any discussions. Why? Because his movies were so unique in tone.

Hughes' movies were so refreshingly unpretentious. They were about relatable characters. They looked believable. They spoke realistically. He wrote most of what he directed as well, which is doubly admirable to me, because it meant he was determined to see his own vision through to the end of the process. A very brave choice and a risky one at that. As a filmmaker, it means that if you succeed, you do so on your own two feet. But if you fail, you're extremely vulnerable, and there's nobody to blame but yourself. I love risk-takers.

His films for and about teenagers didn't patronize anyone. They didn't paint a picturesque version of those sometimes terrible, and always tumultuous, years. But they didn't exploit them either. And just like in real life, sometimes life as a teen is funny or sad or heartbreaking or confusing. 

He was also a prolific writer, responsible for several endearing domestic comedies that also told the tale of family life, like, "Mr. Mom".

"Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" and "Home Alone" had all of the same qualities.

Hughes was always emphasizing becoming a better person by staying attached and committed to your community, usually your family, but not always. He made so many movies about how getting closer to those around you is beneficial, even when it makes you uncomfortable. Especially when it makes you uncomfortable. There was also almost always a "standing up for the little guy" theme. He was sort of like a modern day Frank Capra.

Thank You John Hughes! For your iconic additions to so many of our childhoods and teen years, for attempting to translate between kids and adults, for all the laughs, and for making films in your very own backyard. You were an excellent diplomat.

Futurama Returns Intact

You may have noticed that the petition to stop Fox from re-casting the voice-over actors on Futurama has been removed. This is because FOX quit bluffing once they saw how adamant we all were about not watching the show without Billy West, John Di Maggio, Katey Sagal, Maurice LaMarche, Tress MacNeille, and more.

Or the actors decided to settle for less money...

Either way, I don't care. Futurama is coming back for two more seasons with everyone on board. You may all now breathe a collective sigh of relief.


10 Famous Female Duos of Film and Television

We need more female friendships on TV.
I've been thinking a lot lately about famous female fictional friendships. We have endless male buddy comedies out there, but it feels like iconic female friendships don't show up as much.

When I was 13, all I had were my girlfriends. We had slumber parties all the time. (Always with a copy of Now and Then.)

Please help me add to this list...

1. Laverne and Shirley - Laverne and Shirley

One of the best all-time TV female friendships. They lived and worked together and did whatever it took to get by, having an absolute ball in the process. Some of my best times in life were when I was dirt poor and living with some my roommates. So not only was the show comedy gold, it taught a good lesson.

2. Thelma and Louise - Thelma and Louise

Sure they were a touch dysfunctional. But they stuck together.

3. Lucy and Ethel - I Love Lucy

No matter how wacky things got, Lucy and Ethel also stuck together, and Ethel always supported Lucy. No matter how harebrained the scheme.

4. Romy and Michelle - Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion

Sometimes being around someone you know so well makes it safe for your weird side to emerge. This can lead you further down the path to being yourself and discovering what you want to do with your life.

5. Troi and Crusher - Star Trek: The Next Generation

What are the two female members of a Federation Starship bridge crew to do? Bond of course. They exercised together, hung out in Ten Forward, and shared all the dish on their personal lives. Friendship in space...where your best friend can always hear you scream. (Or laugh. Or cry.)

6. Carla and Elliot - Scrubs

My favorite thing about their friendship is how different they are as people. Carla is so stable and Elliot is so frequently untethered. 

7. Kate and Allie - Kate and Allie

Remember this one? It was sort of like the odd couple, but for single women with children. I experienced it entirely through reruns as a kid, and though my memory is a bit rusty...I recall some heartwarming moments.

8. Cagney and Lacey - Cagney and Lacey

Solving crime. Together. Enough said.

9. Faith and Kate - Only You

This is as close to a female "road trip" buddy picture as I've ever found. The writing is funny, the women in the film are unique and interesting, flawed and clumsy. Delightful.

10. Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and Sophia - The Golden Girls

Yes, I know...not technically a duo. The best thing about the friendships portrayed on this show? They were real. There were fights and misunderstandings, but in the end friendship always won out. (And comic hilarity ensued.)


"A keyboard...how quaint." Star Trek Tech News

"Hello Computer?"
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is my favorite original series movie. One of the most quoted scenes just became a reality. In a scientific breakthrough that would make Scotty proud, the scientists of Earth just revealed they invented...drumroll...


It's probably not stable enough to build a whale tank on a Klingon Bird of Prey yet, but a girl can dream.

Here's the news from today's SyFy.com newsletter:

"Oxford scientists say they've created transparent aluminum, but is it similar to what we saw in Star Trek IV? Well, not really. Using a powerful FLASH laser that produces brief pulses of 'soft x-ray light,' they knocked out an electron from every aluminum atom in a lab sample. Because this process didn't disrupt the metallic lattice structure of the metal, it magically turned the aluminum into a substance transparent to ultraviolet light.

Compounds containing aluminum have already been created (such as the aluminum oxynitride pictured above), but this is the first time pure aluminum has been rendered transparent. But you won't really be able to see through it — it's only invisible to extreme ultraviolet radiation. The amazing part? ''What we have created is a completely new state of matter nobody has seen before," said Professor Justin Wark.

There's a catch, though: The aluminum sample turned transparent was tiny — less than a 20th of the width of a human hair in diameter. And the amount of power required to create this minuscule window was equal to that of a power plant providing electricity to an entire city. Oh, and the see-through aluminum reverts quickly back to its natural state. But hey, it's a start. Scientists are saying the technology used to create this entirely new state of matter might also help in the quest for generating power using nuclear fusion."

Neat, huh? So when do you think we get phasers?!


Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" Will Tour

Apparently, we'll all be able to follow Alice down the rabbit hole. But where? How? So many questions remain. My friend Jen sent me this link today, and it sent me searching to no avail for more details.

It's something Disney constructed for Comic-Con. It looks absolutely amazing. But no details are given about where we can expect it to tour. I very much enjoy prop and costume tours. "Lord of the Rings" did it. Disney's new, "A Christmas Carol" is touring the country via train, charging no admission I might add. It's a new trend that's a winner if you ask me.

Experiences like this bring us one step closer to immersive experiences from films we love.
Just imagine what it would be like if we could spend a day actually living the events of a film. Think of a grand murder mystery party recreated in the mansion where they filmed, "Clue". (I'm sure it was a set, but just let me have that one.) Just imagine spending a day solving a mystery inside Disney's, "Haunted Mansion".
Universal is soon to debut the new Harry Potter section of their Florida theme park next year, so we're getting closer at any rate. There's always the Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios. But these are all experiences you have from a nice safe distance. I want the freedom to do something much more hands on and first-person. It's the next logical step for fans.

Well, a geek can dream, right? Until then, I guess we'll all just have to stick to frequently googling the Alice In Wonderland tour. Sigh...


Comic-Book Movies

There have been oh-so-many over the years, but as far as I'm concerned, they can just keep 'em coming. Here's a list of 25 Comic Book Movies that Bolstered the Genre. Click Here To Read It.

What's your favorite comic book movie? Here are a couple of images that will give you a clue as to mine...most obvious clues ever, but hey...

Now, there's some argument about this one so I left it off the list, Tomb Raider. Technically this was a game to film to comic adaptation. So the comic part came last, and I'm not gonna lie...the comic iteration of the subject matter was my least favorite. But still, technically speaking it counts. You can read my defense of Tomb Raider by following this link.


Stop Fox from re-casting Futurama!

Sign the petition at the bottom of this blog. Scroll down, and you'll find the widget after the blog posts and before anything else.

What cruel twist of fate is Fox trying to pull? Dangling Futurama in front of the fans, two new seasons to boot, and then re-casting!

People always say that actors on television or in film are greedy when they demand large paychecks. But here's the thing about being an actor, you're self-employed and you never know when you'll ever get a job again?

And shouldn't Billy West, Jon Dimaggio, Katey Segal, and the rest of the gang be entitled to a slice of the pie that they created? Think of the millions and millions of dollars that FOX could make if they do in fact start up Futurama again. Shouldn't the voices of the show be entitled to a large sum of that since they were integral in its making?

We all know that studios make far more money over time than actors EVER will with merchanidising and re-releases.

Yes, it's a cartoon and yes, they can easily replace the voices and keep going. But they shouldn't because the show won't be the same. The voices ARE the characters. And fans can tell a cheap imitation from a mile away, especially long-time fans like myself. Actually, it's the little voice performance nuances that make the show so funny.

Would they ever replace the Simpsons voices? They tried, but they didn't succeed. People say the actors are greedy, but I say it's the executives who are greedy, wanting to keep more money for themselves and the company.

Don't let it happen, sign the petition! They're just over 1000 at the moment and they need 500,000.


You've Just Entered...The Twilight Zone

Childhood Trauma:
According to Variety, there's a decent chance we'll get to see not only one more Twilight Zone movie, but possibly two. Read the original story HERE.

The 1983 film was a regular at our house. We had it on an old beat up VHS tape we watched repeatedly. It was recorded over, "Singin' In The Rain", meaning the end of the most terrifying segment suddenly spliced into Gene Kelly jovially dancing (and singing) in the rain. which is precisely why I didn't watch the full musical until I was a teenager. Gremlin trauma.

The "gremlin on the wing" scene scared the bejeebus out of me. Quite frankly, it still creeps me out today, though the Simpsons take on that particular TZ episode did a lot to neutralize the fear.

"Aw, he's trying to claw my eyes out." 

Let's just say that on my past 18 hour flights to and from Europe, I was less than pleased to get a window seat. As for the rest of the film, I think it stands up today.

Mega-Sidebar: On some of the Indiana Jones bonus materials, Spielberg (who directed the gut-wrenchingly beautiful nursing home sequence) mentions that Lucas wanted to do a Haunted Castle story. Can you even imagine how amazing that would've been? A Haunted Mansion/Indiana Jones movie? What's left of that idea is the Nazi-occupied castle-scene. Still a classic.

"Son, the floor's on fire."

ANYWAY, the aforementioned nursing home segment from the 1983 movie still gets me crying a river. But then, I have a soft spot for old people movies. Cocoon 4ever.

Then there's the Disney World thrill ride, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which still raises goosebumps all over my body whenever I get to ride it. I tell you what...I'm inclined to get really and truly excited about this idea of new Twilight Zone material. 

What say you geeks? Yay or nay to new spooky stuff?

Futurama always spoofed what it loved, hence all the Trek jokes. Here's their fabulous, "The Twilight Zone" opening.

And then, of course, there's the oh-so-famous quote which still gets constantly tossed around in my family. This STILL makes me jump, even though I know what's coming.


Comic-Con Fever

I've been babbling a lot lately about Comic-Con, so I thought I'd provide y withou some of the links to said babbling:

Why Comic-Con Matters

10 Things You May Not Know About Comic-Con

Comic-Con: Your Friendly Neighborhood Film Festival

Zombie Girl: The Movie To Screen At Comic-Con

As far as convention satire goes, this is by far and away one of the greatest (and most under-rated) movies to address the subject.

Then there's this, which I also enjoyed very much...

I think I'd make an excellent nerdy correspondent for someone at Comic-Con. Somebody send me next year...I'm shameless...but until then, I'll be glued to the internet as soon as the festival starts and crossing my fingers that Conan will give us a Triumph segment at the Con.

Who would you dress as if you could go in costume? So many choices...so little disposable income.


Acapella Simpsons

Just saw this on the end credits of a Simpsons rerun...priceless. I don't know why acapella versions of things amuse me so, but they do.


Bridget Jones Returns! (and I've got British fever)

Bridget Jones rides again in a third installment set to begin filming at the end of this year, according to People.com today. This is fabulous news.


Harold Ramis Speaks

My friend Josh sent me this link by way of slashfilm.com, and it puts a lot of fears to rest. This combined with the Ghostbusters game definitely puts me at ease. BUT, I also remember hearing Spielberg say he wasn't going to use any CGI, so...take all this with a grain of salt. It never hurts to hear Ramis talk about "the biz" and the franchise. If you can't see the video below, follow THIS LINK to the source page. It's seven minutes in geek heaven.


"Trick 'r Treat" - Finally to be Released

Many moons ago, a movie was made. Word on the street was that it was really really really good. A near perfect Halloween movie, or so the legend went. But the years started to go by...and the movie never debuted. Nobody really knew why, fans who saw advanced screenings raved about it. The buzz was HUGE. But the studio, Warner Bros. simply never released it. The first release date was October 2007. Then there was a rumor that Halloween 2008 was the final release date, but it came and went and NOBODY heard of it again. Just as the film started to fall into shadow, as we Lord of the Rings geeks like to say, THIS HAPPENED. I saw this thanks to Todd Sokolove on Facebook.

I haven't been this excited for Halloween-themed material since ye olde Halloween Buffy episodes!


Ghostbusters: The Video Game

The Ghostbusters game is everything you ever hoped it would be. It's an absolute blast, it's actually really difficult, it looks amazing, it's funny, and it's essentially the perfect film to game adaptation.

The game is tops in the atmosphere department. Just like the movie, the game actually creeped me out a little bit. Okay, a lot. It's more fun for me to play than Resident Evil though, because most Resident Evil games actually scare the living daylights out of me enough that I don't want to play them all the way through.

But the Ghostbusters game basically gives you the power to climb inside the movie and walk around, which is really what I want over and above great game play in this case. You actually get to visit many of the film's key locations, including the firehouse, the hotel, the museum, and more as well as battling famous foes such as the Staypuft Marshmallow Man.

And because Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd actually wrote the game, it's filled with hysterical extras.

For example, at one point you encounter the ghost of a sea captain, Pappy Sargassi. As if the name weren't giggle-worthy enough, the backstory on this guy is that he is either cursed or, "the unluckiest fisherman who ever lived" because he died while choking on a fish stick and being eaten by a Great White Shark. That's pure Ramis right there.

Of course, having all of the original Ghostbusters back for the voice-work makes it even more fun. You get to play as a Rookie in training, which initially I thought would be lame. But again, it puts you in an immersive experience allowing you to feel like you jumped into the movie instead of playing pretend by picking which Ghostbuster you want to be, a la the way we all did when we were kids. (I liked Peter and Egon the best...in fact, Egon was one of my earliest movie crushes.)

The game is also very interactive. You know how in some games, there are only a handful of interactive voice cues and they just use them over and over again? This is not the case here. Whichever Ghostbuster is with you, they say things to you based on what is happening, where you are, and what the characters would actually say. For example, Venkmen is always sarcastic and doesn't hold back with the sass, especially when you do something stupid. Who doesn't want to be mocked by Bill Murray?

The game is amazing, fun to play, and even more fun to watch someone else play. It takes a while to catch on when it comes to using the PKE Meter, but it takes a while to get acclimated to any new game controls really.

One of my favorite things about video games is the fact that they're really great for getting a roomful of people together. Block out a weekend, get a couple of friends, watch the first movie, then just play all weekend. Because once you get started playing, you won't want to stop.

I highly recommend you visit the game website for more information. It's pretty expensive, so if you're an adult, consider splitting the cost with a friend and sharing custody.



The Theme Park Channel

Look closely and you may see a familiar face in there...

More small videos will be released leading up to the grand opening of the channel next year. I'll continue to keep you up to date.


So you want to write a movie, do ya?

That's a very good idea. I think you should. No, I really really do! Let me tell you how to keep yourself from going insane in the process though.

CLICK HERE for instructions on how NOT to lose your mind while attempting to be a screenwriter.

The following image is what came up when I googled the phrase, "crazy writer". Take it for what it's worth, and invest in a pipe as soon as humanly possible.


The Creature Lives!

This is some majorly thrilling theme park news.

Universal Studios Hollywood to Debut Live "Creature from the Black Lagoon"
Here are some details of the new live show.