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Tag Archive: Jason McClain


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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Pacific Rim banner

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

I got to see Pacific Rim this week, and let me say, if you want to watch aliens fighting robots, you’ve come to the right place.  It’s a fun popcorn movie that just keeps amping up the stakes and the fights.  The star of the movie is the great design of both the aliens and the robots.

The thing that got me thinking the most about this movie though was “the drift.”  In the first few minutes of the movies (so I will not say spoiler alert, but still, if you don’t want to know anything about the movie, abandon all hope, ye who read on further) as the narrator (revealed to be Raleigh Becket played by Charlie Hunnam) talked about how the first attempt to build Jaegers (the robots) fried the mind of the single person involved so that the mental processing was moved to two people so they could share the burden.  They had to link their minds and when they did, they existed together in the drift, sharing memories and sharing thoughts to power the massive Jaeger to battle the Kaiju (the monster aliens.)

Pacific Rim at Comic-Con 2013

Pacific Rim display at the Legendary Pictures booth at Comic-Con 2013.

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We3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

Commentary by Jason McClain (@jtorreymcclain)

I think the Internet exists at its core for three basic things: seeing people in various stages of undress to ogle beach bodies, looking at photos that proud parents post of their progeny, and single folk and childless couples with their pictures of pets.

When I watched the pilot of the TV series The New Normal, the choice to adopt a child by two men in a committed relationship hit a snag, so the couple at the core of the story looked at pet adoption.  I can’t call that cliché because that truth exists for a lot of couples and single people out there as pets fill that spot in so many lives of wanting to share unconditional love.  Yes, it is a well-trod joke and yes, as a plot device I wouldn’t call it “fresh”, but that’s because just like crazy in-laws or perceived infidelity, everyone can relate to it.  The key is finding the heart behind that moment and making the situation unique while relatable.  In the case of The New Normal, it was pushing around a baby carriage with a puppy inside.

We3 takes putting a puppy in a man-made object to a completely different level.  I recently finished the trade hardback that compiles all three individual issues of this series (written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Frank Quitely) as it tells the story of a dog, a cat and a rabbit outfitted with cybernetic exoskeletons that enables them to fight and battle with just about any enemy.  (Editor – would that make them Aniborgs?)*  Each animal brings its own specific skills to its cybernetic life and how the scientists created and augmented the animals draws out those natural abilities.  To get feedback in both directions, the animals even have automated speech systems to translate thoughts into words.  Their English communication is rudimentary, as you’d expect, but wonderfully written and the concerns of We3 exhibit how I believe animals would think about home, solitude and food.

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