Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Convention Season

It may surprise you to know that, in spite of my well-documented love of most things nerdy, I haven't really been to that many conventions. As a matter of fact, I've been to exactly three. Each one was unique in it's own way.

Last year, I went to the Heroes Con in Charlotte. Since I was just there for one day, I didn't get to attend any panels, but I did get my Absolute Edition of "The New Frontier" signed by writer/artist Darwyn Cooke which was the whole reason I made the drive in the first place.

The summer of 2000, I went to the Gateway Convention in St. Louis. This had to be my favorite. The crowd was big enough to make it fun and I got to meet & hang out with people like writer Terry Pratchett, Erin Gray from "Buck Rogers", and Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett and Mary Jo Pehl from "Mystery Science Theater 3000." I also got to (a) try and have a conversation with "Babylon 5" star Claudia Christian while simultaeneously trying not to stare at her Playboy pictures she had for sale at her table and (b) watch a guy in chainmail armor get comforted by his girlfriend as he freaked out while donating blood. Not his finest moment.

I went to one Star Trek convention. The guest of honor was John DeLancie, best known as "Q" but also as Eugene from "Days Of Our Lives." He was great and the crowd wasn't too embarassing...or so I thought. Immediately after he spoke, there was an announcement that the costume contest was about to begin. While debating whether to stay or not, the decsision was made for us as we watched a doting mother begin to but black makeup on her white child to complete his Geordi LaForge costume. Needless to say, that was a train wreck we didn't need to see.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Elvis Has Left The Building

It's been said that most people can be divided into two camps: They're either Elvis people or Beatles people. While I respect & enjoy the work done by Mr. Lennon & Mr. McCartney (and to a lesser extent, Mr. Harrison and to a much, much lesser extent Mr. Starr), I am an Elvis person.

Understand, I was only 8 years old when he died, so when I say "I'm an Elvis person," I mean that I enjoy his music. He didn't have the huge impact on me he had on people of my parent's generation. As a matter of fact, my favorite song at the time Elvis passed away was "The Streak" by Ray Stevens. And the one time I did go to Graceland, I was happier about getting my "I Shot JR" shirt than seeing the home of the King of Rock and Roll.

ANYWAY...I have, over the years, developed a theory that if Elvis had made one small life decision differently, he would still be alive today. No, the decision has nothing to do with drugs...it has everything to do with Ann Margret.

Take a trip into the past with me to 1964...Elvis is making "Viva Las Vegas", one of his very few watchable motion pictures. His co-star is the lovely, the talented, the pneumatic Swedish redhead Ann Margret. According to legend, she and Elvis had a fling while filming. Obviously, nothing came of it since Elvis would eventually marry future Naked Gun & Dallas star, Priscilla Beaulieu and father future Scientologist nutjob Lisa Marie and Ann Margret would wed Roger Smith and drink away most of the 1970s.

But, if Elvis had decided to stick with Ann Margret, his entire life would have changed. Step away from this blog for a second & Google some images of Ann Margret. It's OK...I'll wait.

Dum de dum dooby dum...

Found 'em? Elvis would still be alive today because no man with even 10% working brain capacity would choose drugs over Ann Margret in the late 60s/early 70s. It's just not possible. Ann Margret would've fired Col. Parker, told Elvis to get over his mother and hauled him to LA where they would've spent many happy years together making a hunka hunka burning love.

Elvis did not choose wisely.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The True King of Late Night

You can have Conan...you can have Letterman...you can take Fallon & Kimmel and drop them off at Target (where, if there were any justice in the world, is where they'd be working full-time in the first place.) For my money, there's only One True King of Late Night. Ladies & Gentlemen, I give you Craig Ferguson.

"The British guy from the Drew Carey Show?" I hear you ask. First of all, he's Scottish, not British. Second of all...he's brilliant. Hiding at 12:30 on CBS with no band, no real A-list guests and no sidekick, Craig does what Letterman used to do and what Conan works so very hard to do...puts on a consistently funny show and looks like he's having a ball doing it.

Tune in any night & you might see him doing one of the worst Larry King impressions ever or the continuing "adventures" of Aquaman or opening the show with a musical number complete with puppets singing the chorus or Craig raffling off a crew member for some spackle to fix a leaky ceiling in his studio.

"The Late, Late Show" isn't polished television. Green Day isn't going to be dropping by to sing their new hit single and President Obama certainly won't be dropping by. But none of that matters...watching the show is like hanging out with one of your funniest friends. You talk about nothing important, but you laugh a whole lot and want to do it again as soon as possible.

Craig Ferguson is the True King of Late Night. The sooner everyone accepts that, it'll be a great day for America.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Reading Is Fundamental

It makes me sad when I hear people proudly say, "I don't read." To me, they might as well be saying, "I don't breathe."

Books have always been a huge part of my life...and not just because it's one of the only activities you can do by yourself in public without getting arrested or on You Tube or both.

So, just a brief "Thanks" to all the writers of fiction, non-fiction and comics who've made my life better...and check 'em out:

Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Harper Lee, Harlan Ellison, David McCullough, Stephen Ambrose, Jasper Fforde, Peter David, Geoff Johns, Warren Ellis, Mark Millar, Mario Puzo, Bill Mauldin, Brad Meltzer, Jack Kirby, Gail Simone...and many, many more.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

One, Please

When I was in high school, I was a little different. For those of you who knew me then (and know me now, for that matter) this will come as no shock. I didn't drink or party and I never had a steady girlfriend. But that's not what really set me apart. What made me seem so odd to some people was my willingness to got to the movies by myself.

I'd always loved going to the movies. It was something special to me. When I turned 16 and realized that I didn't need to rely on my parents to drop me off or pick me up and could go to the theater any time I wanted to, I was happy as a pig in mud. As a result, there were numerous classic movies from the 80's that I saw by myself. I had people I could go with, I just never needed other people to enjoy going to the movies. In fact, some of the crappiest movies I ever saw I saw because everyone else wanted to see them (Caveman and Missing In Action are two that come immediately to mind.) For some reason, my friends thought this was weird. I thought it made my life easier, plus I had the added bonus of being able to recommend good movies to my pals.

So, just for kicks and giggles, here's a list of some of the great (and admittedly not-so-great) movies that I saw flying solo:

Back to the Future
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Die Hard
The Karate Kid
Midnight Run
The Great Outdoors
St. Elmo's Fire
The Breakfast Club
Star Trek III