Saturday, January 27, 2007

Friday, January 26, 2007

Cosmetic Surgery

Looks different, I know. Was just getting a little bored of the old me.

50 Things You Don't Know About Me...Nor Did You Ask.

And, because people like the Mad Pulp Bastard are doing it, I feel compelled. I am nothing but a blog lemming.

50. I was born a poor black boy in the ghetto. Seriously, in the Bronx. And we were poor, even if I didn’t know it then. Because kids never do.

49. I have never done a recreational drug. Of any kind. I’ve drank until I puked shamrocks, but no drugs.

48. I am neither a cat person nor a dog person. Both will cause my lungs to seize. I need no pets, I have children.

47. My younger brother used to own a rabbit, but that little fucker ate all the buttons off the remote control.

46. I am a videogame savant. Unless it involves the words “dance” or “mario” or “kart.”

45. My first screenplay was about a crime-fighting yeti who rode around in a pimped-out ice-cream truck. Yeah, I know.

44. I once shook Ron Jeremy’s hand and debated washing it afterwards. After all, if humanity suddenly died out, I had enough genetic material in the palm of my hand to repopulate the earth.

43. I’ve never seen All About Eve. Or The French Connection. Or The Third Man.

42. I have, however, seen Willow more than once.

41. I don’t like mushrooms. Or asparagus.

40. I have never broken a bone. Or sprained anything. I am invulnerable, so far.

39. When I was 16, I “borrowed” my father’s car and was stupid enough to call my friends from his car phone. I got caught.

38. My brother has better hair than I do. And he’s taller. And he wanted to make comic books long before I ever did. Sorry, bro.

37. I played football all through high-school. I started as a running back, until I got a look at the playbook and all that I’d have to memorize. The next day, I became a defensive lineman. Because all you have to do is hit.

36. I don’t like the beach in the summertime. Too many people, too little space. Besides, it’s not like I need a tan.

35. I believe in spanking one's children. Pain is an excellent teacher. What can I say? I'm old school.

34. My moral compass was calibrated by Conan the Barbarian novels and Star Wars.

33. I learned my first storytelling lesson from my father. He took me to see the Flash Gordon movie and, as I covered my eyes when Flash stuck his hand in that Arborian stump with the creature living inside, my dad leaned over and said, “Don’t worry, they never kill the hero.”

32. Mint and chocolate together gross me out.

31. I’ve only been in two real fights, and I’m one and one.

30. I know how to work a Grass Valley switcher. And, consequently, fire the main cannon of the Death Star.

29. I once fell asleep in a car on the side of an upstate New York road, and woke up in total darkness. It had snowed during the night. Freaky.

28. Steve Guttenberg thinks he knows me. He doesn’t.

27. I don’t run unless chased.

26. I saw Aliens before I saw Alien. As a result, Alien kinda sucks for me.

25. The scariest movie I ever saw was A Nightmare on Elm Street. Gave me nightmares for weeks. Nightmares about nightmares are tough on a 13-year-old kid.

24. I have stolen something from every place I’ve ever worked. My favorite scam was at Red Lobster, where I was a cashier in high school. When someone called in to place a take-out order, I was the one who took it back to the kitchen, retrived the food, and gave it to the customer. I figured out I could put in slips for fake take-out orders, and just tell the manager that the customers never came to pick it up, and then I could keep the food for myself. We ate well at the cashier's stand that summer.

23. I have held a job, without a break, since I was 13 years old.

22. I haven’t paid out of pocket for a movie or a DVD in 8 years.

21. My wife hates Die Hard. And yet I still love her.

20. I was the singer in a rock-rap band in college. We played around for three or four years. Our most requested song: a cover of “Oompa, Loompa.” Which did actually kick ass.

19. Our “Message in a Bottle” didn’t kick quite as much ass. No ass, to be precise.

18. I have never skydived, nor do I want to.

17. I once saw lightning strike a tree, and detonate it from the inside-out. I was standing 8 feet away.

16. The worst job I ever had was at my friend’s father’s factory. They made innersoles for shoes. I was on an assembly line. I had to pop the soles out of the foam sheet after it was stamped by the cutter. Eight hours of mindlessly popping soles. I quit after the first day.

15. The best job I ever had was at a mom-and-pop video store when I was in high school. I sat around, watched movies, talked movies, and played the coin-op Contra videogame. Free rentals, and all the porn I could smuggle home. Kind of like my current job, but minus the porn.

14. I’ve never eaten borscht.

13. Despite growing up in both the Bronx and on Long Island, I have no accent whatsoever.

12. I am a first generation American.

11. I got kicked out of the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo. For being bad.

10. The first student film I ever made won the grand prize in the St. John’s video competition.

9. The first TV script I ever wrote won the grand prize in the Nate Monaster Writing for Television competition.

8. I haven’t won anything since college…though I’ve got my eye on next year’s Eisners.

7. I do not believe in God. Honestly, it’s better that way. Because if I did believe in Him, I would have to hate Him. And that hate would also have to be capitalized.

6. I’m a breast man. Though, it must be said, I prefer two.

5. I would write a novel, but those fuckers are just too damned long. I don’t have that kind of time.

4. I do not have a PDA, a Blackberry, a Treo, or a Sidekick. No one should be that accessible.

3. The first song I learned to play on the guitar was “Smoke on the Water.”

2. I am not a feature writer at EW because I hate the way my voice sounds on tape. The last interview I did was with Frank Miller, for The Dark Knight Strikes Again. And I sounded like a tool.

1. I am the kwisatz haderach. The sleeper has awakened.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Back in the Saddle

Returned from the icy climes of Park City, Utah. Mostly safe, mostly sound. Saw a lot of movies—would've seen more if that EW Party hadn't effectively disabled me for a whole day. Got to play poker with some famous people and push all-in on Doyle Brunson's son...and have him fold.

More later.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Me & the Famous People

I'm usually okay with meeting the celebrity folk. As far as I can tell, I don't embarrass myself, I don't gush, or fawn, or beg for autographs (with one notable exception: I just had to get Neil Gaiman to sign a copy of Sandman: Endless Nights during a press dinner. Couldn't resist.). Part of being a professional journalist (scoff!) is being able to play it cool.

Last night, though, was a little difficult. EW held their annual Sundance party which is, on the first Saturday of the festival, the only ticket in town. (I heard that first-hand from Jake Busey, who shared my cab to the event.) As such, it's thick to the rafters with celebs of every stripe: Paul Rudd, Kevin Bacon, Gretchen Mol, Nick Cannon (who DJed for about an hour, and wasn't bad), Parker Posey, John Cusack, and Winona Ryder. And those were just the ones I saw. And I was cool.

Until I saw him. Captain Tightpants himself, Nathan Fillion.

I'm a big Firefly fan, see. Huge. Not that I bought myself a brown trenchcoat and ran around practicing my Chinese profanity, but I thought Joss Whedon's aborted Fox show was some heady televisioning. I reviewed the DVD set when it came out. I pushed for us to do some serious Serenity coverage when the film was being released—two separate feature stories, one on Joss and his cult following, another on Fillion himself.

So I'm doing a lap through the super-crowded party, and he's in the corner, dancing his chisled head off. (Okay, yes, I've got a teensy bit of a man-crush on him. Shut up.) My friend and coworker Whitney was talking to Elisabeth Banks' husband (still unclear on how they got to be buddies, but doesn't really matter...although I got to meet Elisabeth, who was really sweet), who asked "Hey, have you met Nathan? He's a good guy, lemme go get him."

He ambles over and talks with us for a good 10 minutes, the usual actor-journalist-festival conversation: What are you working on, Do you have a film here, Have you seen anything good, When do you fly out, etc. Super-nice guy. I decided to continue my lap, and leave him to his reverie. As we were shaking hands good-bye, I leaned in and told him "Hey, I'm one of the original EW Browncoats. It was really good to meet you."

And when I said that, his already-friendly face shifted a little, and got, I dunno, sincere. He pulled my hand a little closer and said, "Aw, man. Thanks for that. That really means a lot to me."

Best Sundance moment so far, hands down. Almost makes the skull-crushing hangover worth it.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Why I Love Travel

What is it about air travel that gives me gas? Not metaphorical gas, but real, full-blown intenstinal inflation. It must be the cabin pressure, or maybe the dryness in that recirculated air. But midway through the first leg of trip to Park City, Utah, it was getting a little out of control. And airplane gas is the worst kind, because there's nothing you can really do about it. There's no "walking it off," really. No stepping outside to vent the chamber. You're stuck, sitting in uncomfortable seats, way too close to strangers, and your stomach is expanding and contracting like the trash compactor on the Death Star.

And, of course, by the time you make it back to the closet/bathroom, all that pressure magically disappears. Until you sit back down.

Yeah, didn't have a great set of flights. On top of that, Delta lost my luggage. So, after a 12-hour travel day, I finally checked into my hotel unable to shower and change my clothes. I was doing Sundance like a European backpacker, and I smelled about as good.

I love travel.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Off to Mormon-ville

Headed out to Sundance, y'all. Off to see lots of movies about personal growth and mental abuse. I'll try and keep in touch while I'm away, but I make no promises. After all, there are free drinks with my name all over them.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


"I had this theory that superheroes were disastrous for humans, that even if you postulated an infallible hero, the things this hero set in motion fell eventually into the hands of fallible mortals. What better way to destroy a civilization, society or a race than to set people into the wild oscillations which follow their turning over their critical judgment and decision-making faculties to a superhero?" —Frank Herbert, author of Dune.

And that's one to grow on.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


You know how, in your better action movies, the villain's plan involves creating so much noise and chaos and ruckus in one place so that the heroic forces pool all their resources there...while carrying out his true agenda somewhere else? Kinda like the plot of Die Hard with a Vengeance. It's also the basis for every magic trick: Keep your eye on the pretty girl while I do a little sleight of hand.

Crucial to the villain's plan is finding the right way to draw the forces of the righteous into this trap. Or, sometimes, simply taking advantage of a moment where the armies of good have their eyes fixed, their resources stacked on one specific place. The thinking on the side of the forces of good is always noble, but myopic. And so, while all the cops in New York City are occupied with evacuating every school in Manhattan thanks to a phony bomb threat, the bad guys are removing all the gold from Wall Street.

Of course, in those action movies, the hero figures out this nefarious plan and thwarts it just in time. Kiss the girl. Credits roll.

But here we are, the "forces of the righteous," overextended and precarious, all our attention focussed abroad. Our finest military veterans claim that to overextend even more would render our military power insufficent. The army is all but broken.

If I was a villain, this would be exactly what I'd been praying my entire life for.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Woman in Peril

I had never really thought about it all that much—probably because, aside from the magicalness of Lynda Carter, I haven't given Wonder Woman tons of mental hard-drive space—but for a character with titanic strength, descended from the gods themselves, she finds herself tied up, trussed up, or chained up an awful lot. Yes, in the back of my head, I know about the bondage undercurrents, what with the big ol' metal bracelets and the lasso. But, well, take a look at this video...

Weird dudes in drag aside, the sheer number of times this "hero" is in peril is kind of staggering. It seems like putting her in jeopardy—or covering her in goop—is the quick route to a Wonder Woman cover. It's actually amazing that she's still seen as a model for female empowerment considering that if you go by these images, the only person she ever rescues is herself...and only after she's done something boneheaded enough to wind up strapped to a buoy with a big phallus-torpedo heading her way.

Don't get me wrong...I like the character, I just don't like, by and large, what's being done with her.

(Thanks to the Occasional Superheroine for the tip.)