Star Wars Celebration 2019 in Chicago has come to close. One of the best things about this massive convention is the cosplay. From camera-ready, professional-looking costumes by veteran cosplayers to creative DIY outfits and makeup from newbies, this year's Celebration cosplay did not disappoint. (more…)
Solo: A Star Wars Story, the latest Star Wars feature film and Disney's fourth, offers something new even as it stays connected to the old. I have a few gripes, but Solo is a nice side chapter to the ongoing Star Wars mythos.
Set roughly a decade before A New Hope, the original Star Wars film, Solo chronicles the journey of a 20-something Han Solo from an orphan looking for a brighter future to the swaggering but lovable scoundrel originally portrayed by Harrison Ford.
Standard backstory fare includes Solo meeting the Wookiee Chewbacca and fellow miscreant Lando Calrissian. We find out where he grew up and how he came by his surname. He acquires the Millenium Falcon and his biggest claim to fame: making the Kessel Run in a record-breaking twelve parsecs. Solo brims with action and humor—I think it's a great stand-alone film.
Cindy Wilson of the B-52s has dropped a solo record called Change, and as the name suggests, it's nothing like what you'd expect from the founding member of a band best known for the one-of-a-kind, frenetic party sound of songs like "Rock Lobster" and "Loveshack."
Instead, Wilson's new effort is an ethereal dream-pop album featuring a subtle vocal performance of quiet harmony whispering and dancing over layers of pulsing synths, rolling rhythms and indie-rock guitars. From the low tempo "Sunrise" to the upbeat "Mystic" the songs on Change are quite wonderful–all the more so because Wilson's new direction is unexpected.
Wilson is touring small clubs with her band comprised of fellow Athens, GA musicians Ryan Monahan, Lemuel Hayes, Suny Lyons and Marie Davon–all decades her junior–in support of the music they've created together. (She'll also be on the road in 2018 with the B-52s, who are celebrating their 40th anniversary and still going strong.)
This snippet of the song "Corporeal" from a recent show in Washington DC perfectly captures Wilson and her band's celestial live performance:
Get the album Change, as well as Wilson's Supernatural and Sunrise EPs, from bandcamp or iTunes.
Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 has come to a close. For my husband and me, both Celebration virgins, the event did not disappoint. Sure, there were ridiculously early mornings trying to get wristbands for key panels, crowds of jostling people, long lines and the fact that one can only humanly do a fraction of what is offered–but the things we got to see and experience were totally worth it.
Stop what you're doing and buy the new omnibus graphic novel of Teri S. Wood's 1990s comic series Wandering Star. It's amazing. Splendtacular, even.
Set in the future, it is the tale of Cassandra Andrews, daughter of the President of Earth, and how she became embroiled in a galaxy-spanning war for freedom from tyranny. Wood takes what could be a generic science fiction trope and creates something new and different by weaving in hard, realistic racism, xenophobia, religion and philosophy (which are shockingly and sadly relevant to current world events) paired with well-defined and incredibly likeable—and hateable—characters. In fact, the characters and story are so strong and relatable the scifi setting becomes a simple backdrop, the room in which the tale unfolds. The plot is tight, marching forward chapter by chapter, without excess or unnecessary tangents. It is humorous, horrific, endearing, and heart-crushing all in equal measure.
The art is just as good as the story. Wood is a master cartoonist who has a command of human anatomy and understands how to bend, squash and exaggerate it to create visually charming characters, both human and alien alike. Her lines are fluid and alive and playful. I marvel at the stippled, hand-drawn pen and ink effects she puts into every page that make the art in Wandering Star so unique. What's more, Wood knows how to use sequential art and camera angle to deliver both side-splitting comedy and emotional gut-punches. (And I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention the rad 90's pop culture and indie comics references hidden in the background details of the art.)
While the series has been collected into graphic novels in the past, those editions are long out of print and nowhere near the quality of this new omnibus. The glossy paper in this new edition makes the black and white art crisp and shiny. The hard cover with wraparound jacket featuring new art will compel you to put it on full display on your bookshelf. The extras at the back—including Wood's amateur sixteen-page first attempt at a Wandering Star comic—are worth the price of the book alone.
I first discovered this comic series back in the 1994 and immediately fell in love with it. Reading this new, shiny collection was like visiting an old friend that I didn't realize I desperately missed.
No painful dialogue. No stiff acting. No virgin births or midi-chlorians. No racist stereotypes. No bloated plotlines or boring politics. No weightless CGI environments. And I say that as someone who's been known to defend the prequels—or, at least, elements of them.
In look and feel, The Force Awakens is more like the original trilogy. It gets right into the story, yet takes time to introduce its characters and the post-Return of the Jedi world. Action, humor and heart are present—as are Chewbacca, Han, Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2 and yes, Luke Skywalker. This offers immediate familiarity and appeal, but the new characters are immediately likable, and I felt invested in their stories right out of the gate.
A child of the 80s, I recently rediscovered my love of the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoons and toys. So naturally, I've done everything in my power to hook my five-year old niece and three-year old nephew too.
My campaign is working so well that they asked me to draw them pictures of He-Man and their most favorite character, Skeletor—a fact which makes me love them even more. Then they made some googly-eyed enhancements to create the genius-level art you see above.
In 2014, Krampus became everyone's favorite yule demon. As it grew in popularity in the United States and around the world, the Christmas of Krampus saw an explosion of illustrations, paintings, masks, costumes, quilts, origami and even baked goods to help celebrate the season. Here's a gallery of the best and most creative homages to the "child whipper."
I was lucky enough to sit down with series' creators Wendy and Richard Pini to record this interview for the show. We talked about the events of the latest Elfquest story arc called The Final Quest, the difference in fan reactions today versus 36 years ago when the series premiered, and a lot of other juicy tidbits.
If you're an existing Elfquest fan, or are just curious about the series, give it a listen.
I'm totally going to own that the homoerotic undercurrent of the History Channel series Vikings is one of its biggest draws. But the series is more than just Viking beefcake. It's informed by what modern archeology and anthropology tell us about Viking culture. The details in everything from clothing and hairstyles, to weapons and ship-building, to deities and gender roles–while not perfectly historically accurate–are just awesome.
It also does a great job at presenting the alienness of now-extinct warrior culture, both to the Christian Europeans they encountered, as well as to the modern American viewer. Mostly, though, the series has complex characters and a strong storyline. And thankfully, there are no horned helmets.
Comparison of still from footage of purported bigfoot to photo of Todd Standing.
The world of Bigfoot is no stranger to shysters and hoaxers. In fact, the entire phenomenon could be nothing more than a mix of chicanery, misidentification and gullibility.
Yet the subject is enormously popular, with internet forums, YouTube channels, numerous television programs, and even conservation groups focusing on the possibility of the existence of an undescribed, bipedal, North American ape (or demon, alien, or interdimensional being, depending on your point of view).
Enter Todd Standing, a self-avowed bigfoot researcher. Standing has purportedly had multiple encounters with these creatures and has even published photos and videos of them. Standing's footage aired during an episode of Les Stroud's Survivorman series, and shows a bigfoot peering through the vegetation. The creature even blinks its eyes in the footage (and has become known as "Blinky" as a result). Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and in the eyes of many, Standing's is not only insufficient but downright (and laughably) fake.
Phil Poling, photography expert and former law enforcement official, and Daniel Falconer, a special effects expert, have written a paper refuting Standing's evidence. In it they analyze Standing's photos and video footage, and make some pretty compelling points and discoveries using stills from the video and photos of Standing himself.
It's a fascinating read if you're interested in the subject. If you're a believer, it's a good guide to critically thinking about the subject and how to NOT go about trying to convince others that bigfoot is real.
See Poling and Falconer's full report and visual analysis here.
The holidays are here and everyone is shopping for their hams and turkeys. Enjoy this cautionary tale from The B-52s frontman Fred Schneider's side project, The Superions.
After you've learned the Disco Garbage Can (if you've watched the video above, you'll know what I'm talking about), give a listen to my hands-down, all-time favorite holiday song: Teddy and Betty Yeti, from The Superions' album Destination Christmas.
That's Teddy Yeti on the album cover. Everything about it is pure Christmas genius.