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Tag Archive: Jason McClain


SDCC 2014 app

WELCOME TO EARTH-4

A Weekly Column with J. Torrey McClain

First things first, I have no clue if the Comic-Con app will work during Comic-Con, as hundreds of thousands of people in such a small area tend to overload the capability of wireless networks.  However, this isn’t about this weekend.  It’s about now.  It’s about finding all of the cool stuff possible and figuring out how to maximize my visit to Comic-Con 2014.

Splash Page

When you open it, a big advertisement for Constantine or The Blacklist as NBC sponsors the app.  If the app has gotten this better, I for one am willing to submit to our Comcast overlords for this one brief moment and think about their TV shows.  I can live with this ad and not feel a bit of impatience.

Discovery

Once you watch the ad, or as soon as you hit skip after reflecting for the appropriate entertainment masters inspired time, you get to a page that lists venues, shows, awards and some of the highlights of the weekend.  There’s a square for Game of Thrones which gives the straight dope on an “immersive experience” at the Omni Hotel including authentic costumes.  There’s a square for the offsite Horton Square Theater venue where “Weird Al” Yankovic will appear on Saturday.  There’s a square for the Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival that lists the panels associated with CCI-IFF, but unfortunately doesn’t include the films to be shown.  However, if I may paraphrase what the kids were saying six years ago, there’s a feature on the app for that.

Comic-Con image 1

Schedule

Click on the drop down menu in the upper left of the screen and right below the discovery section of the app you’ll find the schedule, the most wonderful part of the app.  Do you want autographs?  Filter the schedule to where you just see the autograph sections.  Want to see the films of the aforementioned CCI-IFF?  You can see the whole list of movies playing at the Marriott.  For me, it’s all about the programs.  I can just filter those and check out what is happening day by day, as a menu bar at the top separates Wednesday from Thursday from Friday from you get the idea.  I can focus on any segment of the con I want.  What’s happening with anime panels?  Filter out everything but the anime programs.  Costuming?  Art?  Whatever you want, you can list, or you can just list it all and see how to fit together a puzzle of extracting all the juicy goodness from Comic-Con.  Then just tap the star next to what you want to remember and ta-da, presto, chango; we’ll get to it later.

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Koba socializing with humans

WELCOME TO EARTH-4

A Weekly Column with J. Torrey McClain

When I think about some of my favorite movies, they contain a sense of the dynamics of a family, whether it is by blood or by situation.  The Incredibles is a fantastic example of a family at the center of the story and how, when forced to confront his own mortality, at his core Mr. Incredible finds that family is the most important thing in his life.  Stalag 17 is about a family in a single room wooden cell in a POW camp and even though they argue and kid and get on each other’s nerves, they will risk their lives for each other.  The Philadelphia Story revolves around a family’s plan for a wedding one weekend on their estate.  Up is built on scrapbook glimpses of a life spent together as a family.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes contains what it means to have family and what a family is as one of its themes.  Humans as a family.  Apes as a family.  The family of Caesar and the family of the lead human Malcolm played by Jason Clarke.  Family by blood and new families after loved ones perish.

It is dealing with the idea of ape families that becomes problematic in my mind.  Scientifically, we know that chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans have familial bonds.  We can see those attachments as we stare at them through windows in zoos as the elders have learned to turn their backs to our prying eyes.  There are blood families and communities as families.  Yet, we don’t really care much about what happens to them because they can’t tell us how separation from their family feels.  We hope they forget if they ever get sent to a new zoo or study facility.  We hope that any new introductions into a community will forget the families left behind in the wild or their previous place of captivity.  It would be different if our apes, the ones that we see, could scream at us like Caesar and tell us that we won’t threaten or separate their family.

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Creepy Little Girls part 11

The writers at borg.com have one fear in scary movies that seems to trump all others–creepy little girls.  From The Shining to The Ring to the new gothic horror flick We Are What We Are, we’d all just as soon duck in the corner and cover our heads than to watch another movie with the single element that makes you run out of the theater or jump out of your seat every time some evil filmmaker writes them into a script.

We’ve discussed this strange horror element before here at borg.com, with Elizabeth C. Bunce’s review of The Alphabet Killer and her list of Halloween video recommendations, in Jason McClain’s preview of The Woman in Black, in my Halloween recommended viewing list, in Art Schmidt’s favorite horror film list, and Jason McClain’s video recommendations.

We Are What We Are

All in, we’ve logged 11 scary flicks with one or more creepy little girls–enough so that we think it qualifies as its own sub-genre–and not only do we acknowledge them we recommend them, too.  They are The Ring, The Exorcist, Let Me In, Paranormal Activity 3, Watcher in the Woods, The Sixth Sense, The Shining, The Alphabet Killer, Turn of the Screw, The Others, and The Woman in Black.  Yes, they give us the heebie geebies, but if we want to see something that gets us to lift up our feet in the theater seats, it seems the secret weapon for filmmakers is clear.

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WayWayBack

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

When I think of Steve Carell, I think of The Office and how the American version turned out to be different than the British version just because Carell is so much more likable than Ricky Gervais.  I think of Even Stevphen with him and Stephen Colbert on The Daily Show.  I think of The 40 Year Old Virgin and how I found it to be one of the funniest movies I’ve seen because of the way Carell played the sweet awkwardness of Andy.

Within the first 15 minutes of The Way, Way Back, I find it impressive that Jim Rash and Nat Faxon made me dislike him more than I would have thought ever possible.  I’m not talking a mild dislike; I mean an active repulsion where I put my hand over my mouth in shock before I ball it into a fist to control my anger.  Then, they keep ratcheting that feeling higher.

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The Wolverine Japan theme poster

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

It’s strange to be reading December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the Worldby Craig Shirley and read all of the vitriol directed against Japanese people in the days after Pearl Harbor in the summations of newspaper accounts.  I know that not using derogative terms to talk about groups of people is a relatively new concept, but looking at the headlines and words used in newspapers still gave me pause.  (The more things change, the more they stay the same, as the chapter I just read mentioned Clark Griffith, owner of the Washington Redskins.)

I recently saw The Wolverine and it begins at the other side of the story of WWII, nearly four years after Pearl Harbor when the sovereign land of the Japanese was hit with atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the planes of the United States.  Logan is a prisoner of war in a special constructed cell that buries him in a hole well beneath the surface of the earth.  A bomber passes overhead. A Japanese officer rushes to release POWs from their jails.  He finally cuts the lock from Logan’s cage as well after a bit of deliberation and joins his fellow officers as they face the horizon in the position to commit seppuku before the bomb hits Nagasaki.

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Thrilling Adventure Hour

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

Two weekends ago, I helped my good friend Rick move to Oakland.  Yes, I was sweaty.  Yes, I ached.  But, it was good sweat and good aches because I knew I was helping a friend.  Plus, I got to drive a truck, a big ol’ moving truck doing 70 down the highway in a bouncy seat.  The other bonus is that I got to listen to four hours of The Thrilling Adventure Hour as I drove over the Grapevine pass and out into the vast farmland of the Central Valley.  The air conditioning was on “arctic” as Rick described it when he stepped into the cab to talk at one point, and it was just me and Frank and Sadie Doyle, Sparks Nevada and Croach the Tracker, Gummy and Banjo Bindlestuff, Amelia Earhart fighting dirty krauts and Captain Laserbeam and the Adventurekateers. I couldn’t have asked for a better drive.  (Plus, Rick treated me to In N’ Out which is such a delicious meal after a bit of the lift and sweat, if you know what I mean.  Oh heck, moving is what I mean.)

This morning, another good friend, C.J., sent me a link to a preview of Thrilling Adventure Hour graphic novel from Archaia/BOOM! Studios, available in comic book stores today.  I jumped at the chance to read it and compare it to my time shared with the show on the road and at Largo at the Coronet.

TAH-1-Dustin-Weaver

The first two things I encountered were the prefaces by Patton Oswalt and Ed Brubaker, two more artists that I enjoy immensely.  In Brubaker’s writing, he mentioned all of the distractions that are in the city of Los Angeles and how this show based on old-time radio scripts sells out every week. It got me to thinking of all the glorious things that can distract on a monthly or weekly basis here that interest me.  There’s Harmontown at Meltdown on a weekly basis.  There are movies at the Arclight.  There are shows at the UCB, including the Dead Authors hosted by H.G. Wells (Paul F. Tompkins, aka Frank Doyle).  There are concerts all over the place. There are hikes into the mountains and walks along the beach.  There are bike rides in Griffith Park.  There’s improv shows at the IO West.  There’s golf at the Los Feliz Par 3 and Penmar Golf Course.  There’s baseball at Dodger Stadium, Angels Stadium and many more Single-A stadiums in the California League South.  There are restaurants to try, board games to play, bars to have a whiskey or beer and books and graphic novels to read.  I may have only seen the Thrilling Adventure Hour live twice, but I have to give others a chance, don’t I?  I have to explore all that this great town has to offer.

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concrete_large

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

A friend asked me a question the other day that dovetailed nicely with my latest TPB, Concrete Volume 1: “Depths” by Paul Chadwick.  He asked me a simple, yet personal and revealing question, “What is your ideal job?”

Before I get to this question, as I wanted to move on quite quickly in my writing about it, I need to explain how the question connects with “Depths.”  In this opening trade paperback, Chadwick slowly reveals the origin of his hero, Concrete.  Aliens capture speechwriter Ronald Lithgow and transplant all of his memories into a large, agile, powerful, hardened stone body that does not need the air, water and food that his human body needed.  In this body, he can’t be the speechwriter that he trained to be, but the world opens up to him in a different way.  Suddenly he can be the adventurer of the serials, novels and non-fiction he read as a child, stories where heroes save the day everywhere from the far corners of the Earth to far away planets and galaxies.  He decides to change the course of his life and become his version of those adventurers, digging below ground to save miners, trying to swim the Atlantic Ocean, serving as a bodyguard for a rock star and studying giant rays in the Pacific.

Concrete by Paul Chadwick 1 - Depths

As for my friend’s question, I didn’t have the immediate answer that Concrete had.  (Well immediate to the reader, as I kept turning page after page to find out what happened next, and though his time passed slowly going through government tests of his abilities, for me, it was just moments.)  I had to stop and think and because of the kind of person I am (varied and detailed) I did not stop at one, but journeyed into my brain to get four different possibilities, each of which would be a good way to spend the work day.  That got me to think even further and wonder if concern about the ideal job is even the right question.

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Line early

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

I’m not sure anyone likes to wait in lines.  When you wait in line at a restaurant it just means more time to get hungry and cranky.  When you wait in line to check-in at your hotel, it means more time holding your backpack or moving your luggage along beside you before you can deposit it on the floor of your room.  When you wait in line at the DMV, the post office or any government agency, you can really start to hate all government and think Ron Paul is amazing.  When you have only two minutes to make your movie and the line in front of you is full of teens not sure of what movie they want to watch, you might consider less strict rules on 48th trimester abortions.  I’m not going to say that waiting in line at Comic-Con is awesome, but I tend to get a lot less impatient in the realm of the Convention Center of San Diego during one weekend in July.

There are a couple of reasons why.  First, as a multiple attendee of Comic-Con, it has slowly dawned on me that there are thousands of people with the same interests as me that all crave the same scoops, information and presence of the creators.  Second, once I realized there are at least one hundred thousand people crowded onto sidewalks in a 30-block area, I thought that moving quickly in any direction is a lost cause.  Third, most everyone at Comic-Con is pretty damn cool, well “cool” in a wonderful nerdy way.

However, Hall H is a completely different breed of line.  It is Godzilla to the DMV’s Western Skink.  It is King Kong to your hotel’s Pygmy Marmoset.  It is the monster truck Bigfoot to your grocery store’s matchbox car.  Still, it’s Comic-Con, so even though it is the worst of the lines, it’s still pretty ok.

Line earlier

6,130 people can fit in Hall H.  (The next biggest space, Ballroom 20, can host 4,250 and the adventures in that line can be very similar.)  To give you an idea of what it is like to wait in line for a panel in Hall H, I’m going to construct a timeline from my memories and texts to describe and to possibly prepare you for years to come at Comic-Con.  Most times are approximate, though the first is spot on because it burned in my memory as the thought, “What the hell am I doing?” seared it in my mind.  Some events are fictional and others are exaggerated to improve your reading pleasure on the subject of lines.  I won’t tell you which ones.

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Robin balloon at Comic-Con

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain) in San Diego

In contrast to an upcoming post about Concrete Volume 1: “Depths”, I saw the magic of work on display Saturday at Comic-Con.  I attended three panels and they all gave me a glimpse of those special relationships that develop between co-workers.  From Matt Smith calling Steven Moffat “Moff” and Steven “Fat” telling Matt that he’ll be dying soon (on Doctor Who), you could tell a bond had developed.  The Being Human panel featured a question from an audience member named Audrey and that led Sam Huntington to comment that was his daughter’s name.  Then came a whole riff on whether or not this was his daughter time-traveling from the future, and then when Sam Witwer was on the other end of Audrey’s question, eventually Meaghan Rath dropped the mic and left the stage as it was one of many questions directed Sam W.’s way.  The smiles back and forth between those three and the continual riffing revealed how close they were.  However, neither came close to meeting the emotion of the Warehouse 13 panel.

(I so wish I had photos to share with you of Warehouse 13, but my phone died.  I would have looked to the ceiling, clenched my fists and yelled, “PHONE!” but I didn’t want to interrupt the panel.)

The first emotion – excitement.  The panel started out like any other with introductions of the participants.  When the moderator came to Eddie McClintock, I didn’t see him up on stage because he ran up one of the aisles of the Indigo Ballroom as a human version of a t-shirt cannon.

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Nerd HQ car

Nerd HQ continued its panel series today at San Diego’s Petco Park, opposite San Diego Comic-Con International.  borg.com’s own Jason McClain attended the enlightening and fun Doctor Who panel featuring Matt Smith, Jenna-Louise Coleman, and Steven Moffat (and some great questions from fans).  Again today all Nerd HQ panels were available to the rest of the world via live streaming video, which was watched live by more than 2,000 viewers.  Whereas Alan Tudyk hosted the panels yesterday, Nathan Fillion was the emcee for today’s panels, often asking his own excellent questions of the panelists.   (Note that you may want to skip ahead a few minutes on each video to get to the beginning of the panel).

Editor’s Note:  We updated yesterday’s Nerd HQ update today with the panel featuring the hilarious cast of Haven, which had not yet been uploaded when we posted last night.  So if you missed that one, check it out!

First up, don’t miss this great interview with Wil Wheaton, where he explains very well why Comic-Con and its genre fan attendees come together to make such a great event each year.  And he mentions this certain Sharknado cosplayer that Jason McClain caught a photo of today.

Sharknado

Sharknado, Syfy Channel’s latest monster mash-up TV movie is still trending on Twitter and we all agree this lady had her act together to get this costume ready in time for this weekend.  Here is today’s interview with Wil:

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