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!

Geek Tattoos

I want to talk about why geeks and tattoos go hand in hand, or if you'll allow the cliche, ink in skin. I recently got my fifth tattoo, the Rebel Alliance symbol from Star Wars on my right elbow area. I also have a Star Trek symbol on my right forearm, the Next Gen communicator symbol minus the background circle. I have plans for a Beauty and the Beast inspired quarter sleeve and eventually, I'd like to have 3/4 of my right arm covered.

What most people want to know is why? What will you do when you are old and wrinkly? What if you get a job that doesn't allow tattoos? (You cover them up!) All common questions, all completely understandable. Curiosity is only natural.

Here are several things to know about people who love tattoos and why they get them. This is, of course, not true of all people who have them. But you can think of it as my personal mission statement on the matter and all of these points are true for me...

The Geekly Reader

When I was in grade school, we had a weekly tradition. It was the "weekly reader", a small newspaper they handed out designed to teach us how to consume the news in a responsible way. I think.

That or it was just an excuse to keep us quiet for a half an hour. Either way, I loved that time each week. Recently, I've been noticing little bits of news here and there that would be of interest to my fellow geeks, but maybe isn't enough for an entire blog. So I present to you today, The Geekly Reader.

Item #1 - Bigfoot DNA
One of my favorite shows, The SyFy Network's Destination Truth recently had their mid-season finale. If you don't know, the show features a clever host, Josh Gates, who is a sort of real life Peter Venkmen searching for definitive cryptozoological evidence.

Translation? It's a monster hunting show. And I LOVE monsters, perhaps a symptom of growing up with all the Godzilla movies, JAWS, and too much National Geographic. They rarely make any kind of significant finds, but as a lover of the adventure genre, the exotic locations and real life dangers coupled with Gates' quick wit and self-deprecating sense of humor are enough to keep me watching.

But this time, they may have found something. The hair of a Bigfoot. I'm actually quite the skeptic about these things, and this season the show has been edited in a way that's far trickier and even a bit more suspicious than it ever has been before. So I'm not biting quite yet. But I also don't like to lump the odds of finding a new species of animal in with the idea of ghosts and aliens, which I find entirely implausible. (And if ghosts are real, I'll likely be haunted tomorrow just for saying that.)

Still, it's all very exciting for the monsterphile in me. Take a look at this clip. It's the Destination Truth team returning from the Himalayas with their evidence to get some answers.

Item #2 - Hilarious Starbase Indy Rules

Jake and I are going to our very first Star Trek convention. Hard to believe we've never been before, but it's true. As I was looking over the rules this week, they really struck me as...well, funny. They're so geek specific that I thought I'd share some of them for your entertainment.

"ABSOLUTELY NO MOCK FIGHTING! Weapons or props may NOT be wielded or
brandished in a reckless manner that could cause harm...If you are posing for a photo, you are permitted to hold out a weapon or prop, but remember, posing does NOT require you to move or wave the item! Again, please be aware of your surroundings and move away from the flow of traffic.

Please be courteous of other attendees and ensure props and costumes do not impede the flow of traffic in the hallways, panel rooms, or dealer's room. Please move out of the flow of traffic when
posing for pictures.

Oversize items- costumes, props, wings, etc. may not be permitted in certain areas of the convention (e.g. Dealer's room) due to traffic flow and safety issues. Please do not wave props around or point them at people.

Cosplay props such as gourds, wings, musical instruments, etc, however they must comply with size restrictions.

Limited metal decoration on the costume itself. Metal must have dull edges and not pose a threat to the wearers, con attendees, and the convention area."

Anyway, the list goes on and on and on, and you just KNOW that the reason these rules exist is because geeks like us take our Trek and Wars way too seriously, and this has likely caused real fights in the past at conventions. I would LOVE to see a record of police reports talking about all the over-enthusiastic Vaders and Klingons of the convention scene that have ended up in the clink. Or how someone's Amidala costume blocked a fire exit. You KNOW it happens.

Item #3 - Dino Chicken Is Coming For You!
I saw this over a week ago and got so excited that I had to call my Dad the next morning. (We do that for anything exciting having to do with NASA or science in general.) The findings in this report are nothing short of amazing.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

I think Spock would say that there's only one logical conclusion for the soft tissue still being intact within the bone...the bones are not as old as most scientists think they are. I'd wager they're about...oh, a few thousand years...yeah, I said it, I'm a New Earth Theorist. Scientific flame war...ignite!

That's all for this week's Geekly Reader, and we haven't even talked about the water on the moon, or the Hobbit movie inching toward it's shooting dates, or, or....


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". It's a popular phrase today, so how exactly does one follow this command? Read on...


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 tools. Geeking out can help you relax, provide you with free therapy, lead you into 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. And we all have an inner geek.

Step 1

Lose your inhibitions. I mean, not all of them. Don't break any laws, and try to stay away from public nudity. But anything about yourself that you find embarrassing, whatever it is, just let it go. 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 do those things 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, just let it out!

Step 4

Find other geeks. Get inspired by the way other people have followed their passions. But no copying, okay? 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? Learn from Tom Hanks!


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 character.s 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.


Kevin Smith's New Book

A very nice gentleman over at Titan Books was kind enough to send me a copy of Kevin Smith's new book for review here at BornForGeekdom. I actually read the book a few weeks ago, and have sort of been putting off reviewing it. Because I'm scared. Let me just admit it right off the bat, I'm scared of die-hard Kevin Smith fans. They can get mean. They can get vicious, just check the AintItCool talkbacks in regards to anything Smith-related. Personal threats typically ensue.

So allow me to just disclaimer myself into oblivion here first...


Halloween Geek Style and Sexy Costumes Gone Too Far?

If you'll recall, one of my sisters is quite crafty when it comes to the holidays. She did some fabulously unconventional Valentine's Day cookies last year. When she told me she did a Star Trek pumpkin this year, I thought, "Oh cool, I wonder which symbol she chose." But oh no...she did a ship flying by a planet.

Also, Jake and I finally found some halfway decent costumes. But so help me, next year we will be Troi and Riker!

Also, I have to just make a commentary on costumes for women that I'm sure echoes a million others right now, but good grief, trying to find a non-trashy costume nowadays takes a ridiculous amount of effort. Thank goodness for Tina Fey, who made this spot-on commentary in her script for, "Mean Girls".

To quote the film, "Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it."

Oh, but we can.

If you'll notice, the only Leia costume I could find that wasn't embarrassingly trashy-looking still had two gigantic slits up the side. Which is not only obnoxious, but completely innacurate to the costume of the film. Annoying. So I had to wear bike shorts and white tights underneath.

And I've just been wondering ever since, what equals sexy to the costume industry, the American public, and women everywhere? What are they peddling and why are so many women buying? The short list is...

1.) Super short skirts.
2.) Lots o' cleavage.
3.) Sterotypes. (Beer wench, Sexy Nurse, other characters frequently mentioned in male fanstasies.)
4.) Hyper-sexualized versions of pre-existing characters. I even saw plenty of trashy versions of Disney princesses this year.

And I HATE thinking that I'm just being reverse judegmental, so let me clarify. I am not anti-sexy. Sexy is great. So is attractive, beautiful, feminine, mysterious, and on and on. But come on, there's only one reason why a woman would put on a Snow White costume that looks like it should be appearing in a pornographic movie. To get attention, and to get a specific kind of attention from a specific audience. Men.

Jake summed it up well when I asked his opinion on why these costumes are so prevalent now. He said that he thinks men (not him per say, remember, this is his expert opinion) see those costumes and think, "easy". I think women think they're being sexy, but I think if you're looking through the man goggles, the real message is, "easy access". Easy to look at, nothing in the way, no effort required. No need to talk to the girl, you can just look across the room and take in the visual buffet. Kind of creepy, no? I'm recalling a phrase, "pearls to swine".

I saw a little girl in a cart at the Wal-Mart while I was hunting for a Star Wars costume that wouldn't bare my midriff, and one that wasn't the infamous slave bikini. She was looking at the pictures of the Disney Princess costumes for adult women, and I wondered what exactly was going on in her mind right then? Was she doing that instant analogy thing that kids so often do? "Okay, if the Snow White I know and love is dressed like she is in the movie, and that's a costume for grown up women, that's what it means to be a grown up. That's what it means to be pretty."

She probably wasn't thinking that. She was probably thinking, "Candy, candy, candy, candy..."

So what's my point? I don't know. I guess partially it's that I'm a prude. Partially that I wonder what the popular opinion of "sexy" is and why. When did this fad take off? Are the "adult" stores losing business to Wal-Mart on Halloween? When did I get so old?

Hypothetical of the day: What if we lived in a world where the more clothing a woman had on, the sexier she was, because it represented more of a challenge somehow, or a mark of intelligence and taste? The wishful thinking of a feminist I suppose.

I love the idea that Halloween is the one night of the year when we can all shake off our inhibitions and be what we really want to be, whether that's a character from a film, a book, someone from history, or what we want to be when we grow up. I also know that it can be helpful, figuring out what we dream about, what we think is attractive and why. That process can be a key component to figuring out what makes us tick and what will make us happy. So I'm not at all insinuating that we shouldn't notice someone attractive or consider when we feel most attractive.

My real question is, why is that look the majority of what you see on Halloween from women, and what does that say about what women want to be now?

(You should probably read these sentences in an increasingly fevered pitch of anxiety.) Have we lost our ability to connect with what WE, as women, think is sexy? Has society just completely succumbed to the idea that we should be what the majority of people think is attractive? Where's the creativity in Halloween today? Are popular Halloween costumes a scary litmus test on American sexual culture?

Probably not. Trust me, I know that I overanalyze and am often accused of old-ladyness. I know this to be true. Halloween is probably just a time to dress in a way that you otherwise can't the rest of the year, to wear a mask, to put on the costume of the modern equivalent to the Wild West Saloon Girl. A time to work it, a time to own it, a time for fun.

But I, for one, have certainly had my fill of beer wenches and sexy nurses for the year. How about you?