Friday, September 23, 2011

My Week With Buffy OR How I Played Hooky From Work To Watch “All My Children”

Wednesday, (Sept 21) I took the day off of work to watch Sarah Michelle Gellar’s return to “All My Children” – a series I’ve never seen before and a series I’m not likely to ever watch again. Why? I don’t know. I guess I thought seeing her on the show that she was once a regular on would be a big deal. She was only in the first 7 minutes of the show for about 2 minutes of screen time – BUT IT WAS COOL. She plays a crazy patient who claims she’s Erica Kane’s daughter (the role she originally played in the 90’s) and that she can see vampires (she left the show to be on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and there’s a bit of funny dialogue about vampires being trendy.

And watching “All My Children” was only the 1st of 4 times I spent with Sarah Michelle Gellar this week. I watched the first and second episodes of SMG’s new series, “Ringer” and here is a quick review of the series so far:


Sarah Michelle Gellar is back as Bridget, an ex-stripper who is a recovering addict and the only witness in a high-profile murder trial.

Sarah Michelle Gellar is back as Siobhan, a spoiled socialite with a troubled marriage who is having an affair with her best friend’s husband.

Confused? Don’t worry about it – Bridget and Siobhan are twin sisters. When Siobhan is presumed dead, Bridget takes her place to get out of testifying because she thinks it will make her life safer. Unfortunately someone is after Siobhan so Bridget has to survive assassins and fit into Siobhan’s life at the same time.

While the first episode was jam-packed with things, the second episode really capitalized on it. If you’ve seen it (and if you haven’t SPOILER ALERT) you know what I’m talking about. Bridget tries to bail Siobhan’s life by emptying out her ‘emergency’ account and skipping town but the pesky dead body in a loft she’s having converted is threatening to be discovered so she has to cancel her plans and keep the body hidden just a little longer.

Good: Sarah Michelle Gellar is back. The writers don’t waste much time trying to convince us Siobhan is really dead – she pops up at the end of each episode where she is talking to someone on a phone and trying to coordinate something. Bridget is an engaging character lost in someone else’s life and in over her head – Sarah Michelle Gellar’s return was worth the wait. The series is thrilling – every 15 minutes I’m thinking, “How is she going to get out of this?” In one of the last scenes of the second episode she’s helping Siobhan’s step-daughter ride out a hangover, holding her tight as she cries and decides that she’s not leaving – that she’s finally in a place where people need her.

Bad: I suspect that it will get canceled without an ending – most of the shows I enjoyed last season were. And when the main villain turns up looking to beat up or kidnap Bridget’s sponsor and gives up because someone runs up to talk to him, he looks about as threatening as a muppet (the writers are really going to have to do something to make us think this dude is a threat).

Watch it/Skip it: I’m going to watch it…obsessively. It’s a good show and I’m in for the long haul.

And I read the 1st issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 and here is a quicker review:


Buffy and the gang are back. Abandoning the Slayer Army she built, Buffy and the Scoobies have set up in San Francisco. But instead of actively looking for danger, the gang are all leading normal lives. Buffy is a waitress at a deli and has two normal roommates.

Good: Joss Whedon is back and he’s brought all the good dialogue with him. It’s great to see the gang interacting with normal people for a change and it’s great to see the gang in general.

Bad: Let’s see…the story jumps around and isn’t clear at times (what did Buffy and Xander do in her room and when was she walking around with Riley (during the party or after?)).

Read it/Skip it: Not a great start for Season 9. I read a few pages of a preview that had a few slayers come after Buffy and she gives them a beat down – that would have been a great way to start season 9. Oh, and I left a fingerprint on the spine of the book – come on Dark Horse, spring for good ink. But I know the next issue will add to this one and all will be made clear – I’m just impatient. If the book came out every week it wouldn’t be fast enough for me.

So my week with Sarah Michelle Gellar was great and I’m looking forward to the rest of season 9 and a (hopefully) full season of Ringer on TV. Welcome back to television SMG!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thundercats action figures

I was at Toys ‘R Us looking for “Marvel Universe Super Hero Team Action Figure Packs.” Wave 3 just came out and I’ve never laid eyes on any of the figure packs. It’s like Walmart, Target, and Toys ‘R Us stores in San Diego don’t stock it – or they’re ordering so little of it that it’s rare.

Anyway, I’ve been seeing the new Thundercats commercials and I haven’t seen the new cartoon but I was a fan of the original and I want to see the new one. The racks were stocked with the new 4” figures and I saw Cheetara. I looked a little more and saw that there was only one Cheetara and one Wilykit and there were enough figures to assemble all six Thundercats. So I bought the entire team.

It’s not every day I pick up an entire team of figures. I know they’re 4 inch figures but they’re Thundercats – they should be a little bigger than GI Joe figures.
 All six Thundercats

Justice League #1 review - SPOILERS

Justice League #1 by Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, and Scott Williams

SPOILERS AHEAD: This is the first issue of DC’s new launch and it’s awesome. It starts five years ago where it remains because I imagine this first arc is the formation of the team with Cyborg’s origin. I’m just guessing that this means all the heroes have been around for about 5 years when their books start.

The book begins with Batman chasing an extraterrestrial monster while the police chase both of them when Green Lantern shows up. This the first meeting between the two heroes and instead of a misunderstanding which leads to a fight before the heroes team up – the two team up to go after the alien. It’s great seeing Batman and Green Lantern get to know each other; Green Lantern is surprised when Batman tells him he doesn’t have any power and Batman swipes Green Lantern’s ring to get a closer look at it.

Before the pair can catch the alien, it screams something about ‘Darkseid’ and sets off a device that tries to incinerate them but thanks to Green Lantern’s construct, they’re safe while the alien is eliminated. Since the thing was alien, that leads the due to Metropolis to see a dangerous man they’ve never met – Superman. Unfortunately for Batman and Green Lantern, their first meeting IS a misunderstanding that leads to a fight.

Good: Geoff Johns does a great job with the characters. I like the scene where Batman steals GL’s ring and then gets a zinger in. This Batman is a little more likeable and not quite as pissy as the Batman who would scowl and say, “Hmmmm.” And the fact that Green Lantern has to tell Batman that there is a GL Corps means that the world hasn’t met them yet – we could get to see the first time each GL meets each member of the Justice League.  And we’re about to get Cyborg’s origin story – I don’t even know what his origin was so I’m excited to see it.

As always, I love Jim Lee’s art. Not just the new costumes or the way the characters move, but I love Green Lantern’s constructs. This Green Lantern doesn’t hit you with a block or make a bubble shield; he hits you with a fire truck and shields you with large riot police holding shields or puts you inside a safe. It’s awesome.

Bad: Because the story happens in the past, there’s no clues as to where we’ll be when the rest of the titles launch – will the authorities still be hunting the heroes or will the world be celebrating them?

Buy/Skip: Buy it. Buy them all if you can. I don’t know if you’ll ever see a comic book line relaunch again.

Angel & Faith #1 review - SPOILERS

Angel & Faith #1 by Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs

SPOILERS AHEAD: I didn’t know how I felt about this title. Angel or Faith should have their own title but I didn’t think they’d be great together. I was wrong…as I usually am when I doubt the wisdom of Whedon.

The book starts with Giles trying to help a woman whose daughter is being inhabited by a demon. He’s not powerful enough to get rid of the demon so he seals it inside the girl, promising that he’ll return one day to finish the job. Then we jump to Angel & Faith finishing what he started and freeing the girl from the demon.

As they kill the demon, Giles’ spell unravels and Angel winds up with the memories of the day Giles and Jenny Calendar fell in love – both of whom he killed by snapping their necks while he was someone else (Twilight and Angelus respectively).

Then we meet Nadira. She’s a friend of Faith’s who is a slayer. Nadira tells her about the day all of her slayer squad was killed by a pair of new big bads while Twilight watched and vows to kill Angel and everyone involved.

When Faith confronts Angel with the information he tells her about LA going to Hell and becoming Twilight because he believed it was the only way to keep the entire planet from going to Hell. That’s when Angel tells Faith what he wants to do: bring Giles back to life.

Good: Angel and Faith have taken up residence at Giles’ home where Angel is reading through his journals for things Giles left undone and getting to know the man better. The flashback of Angel killing Jenny and LA going to Hell was a great way to acknowledge that the writer knows the mythology and for the reader to know that the characters are still affected by these events.

The art is fantastic – unlike the hit or miss art of IDW’s Angel, Dark Horse has always had fantastic art on the majority of their Season 8 issues and now they’ve got Rebekah Isaacs onboard.

Bad: I don’t understand Whistler’s part but I imagine that will be revealed in future issues. Bringing Giles back from the dead isn’t something Angel would do if he knows Buffy was pulled out of Heaven. He knows Buffy was dead and knows she came back to life but I don’t know if he knows the circumstances. I’m not sure if Faith even knows. I guess if Angel and Faith don’t know what Buffy went through, that makes this decision very interesting.

Buy/Skip: This isn’t a gateway book. You can’t pick it up cold, have no experience with the characters, and still get the layers of story. If you’re a fan of Buffy and have gotten some or all of Angel’s IDW series, you’ll love this. It continues Buffy Season 8 and Angel’s IDW series perfectly and captures the characters perfectly. Join me in buying it and anxiously waiting for #2.

What I did during the Southern California blackout

Southern California had a huge blackout from Orange County to Tijuana and as far east as Arizona. Because most businesses closed when the lights went out and it was obvious that they weren’t going back on anytime soon, everyone got on the road at the same time. I had power-outage related problems at work so I didn’t leave until most traffic had cleared (around 8pm).

It was weird. I had to be really alert because none of the visual cues that told me when I was coming up on an intersection with a stop light. Even though they weren’t working, you’re supposed to stop at lights and act like they’re four-way stops.

When I got home I went for two things, a flashlight, and my lightsaber.

A few years ago, a friend and I were at Comic Con and they had specials on the lightsabers because sellers were getting rid of what was left of the Master Replicas line (now they are made by Hasbro under the name Force FX Lightsabers). A friend and I agreed that if we had the money to get one, we’d do it.

So there we were on Sunday deciding which lightsaber to get. He chose the Luke’s green lightsaber because it was his favorite. I picked Luke’s blue lightsaber because it was Anakin’s which was passed down to Luke. I also picked it because in the Star Wars saga, it’s the very first lightsaber we ever see ignited.

So after I loaded the flashlight in the moonlight (I like how that rhymed) I loaded the lightsaber up with batteries. There’s nothing like swinging a lightsaber around during a blackout to pass the time. I went out to the pitch black parking lot of the apartment complex and when I turned it on, it was so bright I could only see the saber and couldn’t see the cars around me. It was awesome. I don’t have a picture but everyone looks more awesome with a lightsaber.

Proof: a great T-shirt site for pop culture fanatics

I found out about teefury on the whedonesque website back when they were offering this T-shirt:

teefury's T-Shirt for April 18, 2011

Ever since I’ve been trying to check in once a day so I don’t miss anything cool. Teefury is a site where artists create pop-culture inspired designs that are only available for 24 hours at the low price of $10 before another shirt pops up to replace it.

Here’s a gallery of shirts I’ve purchased so far:

 Browncoats released April 25, 2011, Star Wars Kessel Run released July 7, 2011, and Dukes of Hill Valley released August 30, 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Eliza Dushku Defends Hayden Panettiere, my bible (well…my homepage anyway), had an item about Eliza Dushku defending Hayden Panettiere charging for autographs at a fan expo. Here is the original article from the Daily Mail in the UK. 

Are times that tough Hayden? Actress Panettiere charges $30 an autograph at fan convention
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 4:10 AM on 27th August 2011

She found herself without a regular television role after Heroes was cancelled last year.

But it seems times have got a lot tougher for Hayden Panettiere.

The 22-year-old actress spent today at a fan convention in Toronto signing autographs for the princely sum of $30 a pop.

And if fans wanted a photo opportunity with the star, they would need to cough up $45 for the privilege, according to an accompanying sign.

The actress wore a low key grey T-shirt with her hair pulled into a ponytail as she greeted convention goers.

The four day Fan Expo Canada Convention in Toronto is for fans of  horror movies, comic books, science fiction, animé and video games.

Fan conventions such as these have more of a reputation of attracting actors in the twilight of their careers.

However, Hayden joined the likes of Harry Potter star Tom Felton and Buffy actress Eliza Dushku putting pen to paper at the event.

However, it doesn't seem that Hayden is washed up quite yet.

She starred in Scream 4 earlier this year, and will appear in drama Carmel next year alongside Lauren Bacall and Alfred Molina.

Next, she is said to have signed up to star in high school thriller Downers Grove alongside Twilight actress Nikki Reed.


Open Letter to The Daily Mail
Posted to News on Aug 30, 2011

Editor-in-Chief, The Daily Mail
Dear Sir,

I write to you because the piece of your paper that concerns me was anonymous. The piece was 27th August titled “Are times that tough Hayden?” ridiculing and attacking the actor Hayden Panettiere for participating in a Toronto Expo fan gathering where fans are charged money (Oh shock! Oh shame!) in exchange for autographs, signed pictures, and the chance for a bit of face time with their favorite celebrity.

My dear editor, how does Hayden’s action differ from what you do for much of the content of your “news” paper? There we have celebrities exchanging their name (sometimes willy-nilly, no permission asked), their time, and their pictures in exchange for a bit of publicity for their work. At least the fan shows (such as the current Toronto Expo one) are honest and up front about the exchange. In addition, at these shows both fans and celebrities get some precious small contact with each other as real people. Your paper does not provide that value.

Yes, you will have to tell me where you think you get off attempting to diminish a young actor who is attempting to reach out to fans in one of the only practical ways provided by the entertainment industry, an industry your paper is a part of and largely dependent on.

It is particularly shoddy that the author scoffs at Hayden’s lack of “Harry Potter” or “Spiderman” fame while leaving himself unnamed as “Daily Mail Reporter.” Talk about being a parasite! Does Daily Mail Reporter want to shoot down Hayden’s career, just at its beginning, and then take a salary for doing so? Seriously, Sir, for shame.

As someone who goes to conventions and pays for photo ops and autographs, how do I feel about it?

I remember when Comic Con was only able to get one celebrity to show up. I remember the year Jean Claude Van Damme came. I remember the year Tia Carrere came. Van Damme didn’t stick around for autographs, he came to plug TimeCop and bounced. Tia Carrere came to promote and sign autographs because she was going to star in either the television show or movie “Shi.” Crusade Comics had a comic book printed up with her likeness on the cover to celebrate.

That was in the early 90’s when no one charged for autographs. Then Star Wars actors came. I remember seeing Kenny Baker and I ran over to an 8x10 dealer to get a photo and I had him sign it and he asked for $10. I must have looked at him like he was from another planet because he said the price again. I paid and left and soon discovered that David Prowse and Peter Mayhew were also charging for autographs.

From then on, more and more celebrities came to the con, charging for autographs but they weren’t charging for photo ops until 5 or 6 years ago. Now charging for autographs and pictures with the celebrities is commonplace. What I appreciate about the Hayden photo on the Daily Mail site, is that there is a big sign that says how much she charges for each. When I have gone to Comic Con or Wizard World, there are celebrities that I’m interested in but I don’t wait in a line to find out how much they’re charging so I don’t bother.

I’m okay with the celebs charging with a few caveats.

1)      The price is visible and there aren’t hidden fees (one of Mick Foley’s handlers asked me if I wanted him to sign a photo as all of the wrestling characters he has played – I said okay and the guy wanted an extra $15 so I said forget it) so I don’t have to make decisions on how much a celeb is worth to me while I’m standing in front of them. That can be embarrassing.
2)      If your prices aren’t visible, you have to be VERY up front with people about what your charging for. I was at the Lightspeed booth at the Con one year and a woman wanted an autograph with someone from Star Trek (I can’t remember who) and she got the autograph and put down her money and asked for a photo with the celeb, when she was done with the photo they charged the fan more money. She didn’t know that a photo with the actor was extra.
3)      If I’m paying for a photo op and it’s not by a professional photographer but with my own camera, I don’t buy it. An autograph you might be able to sell if times are tough but I’m not paying extra money for the celebrity to stand up and smile (and I remember the times when buying an autograph got you a free photo with the celeb).

Creation Conventions (which I love) are up front with everything. You know how much things cost and get tickets for autographs and photo ops way before you’re standing in front of the celebs so you can just enjoy the time you spend in with the celeb. Wizard World conventions are also good for trying to keep the autograph prices of their celebs in attendance (not all of them because they don’t always know in advance) and Froggy’s Photos have all the photograph prices on their website before the convention.

At the Con it’s almost impossible to know what anyone is charging and it’s tough to justify standing in a long line for someone you might not get an autograph from when there’s so much other stuff to do.

I don’t love paying for autographs but there are some advantages to paying for them. When the Con has casts or people come out to sign promo items, they don’t charge for the autographs so even people who don’t care about the signing get in line for autographs. After the Con, those autographs end up on eBay. If I want to meet the celebrity and there’s some idiot in line who is trying to find out what that celeb has been in, it’s annoying. Charging for autographs helps weed out these ‘trolls.’ Charging also helps keep the lines manageable. People who don’t want to pay or think it’s too much to pay are separated from the fans who are willing pay.

For those celebrities I’m willing to pay for autographs from (and I’ve purchased them from Hayden at Comic Con one year and Eliza at a Creation Convention last year), I’m a big fan and the autograph is worth it to me. I was going to see Hayden again this month at the Wizard World Los Angeles convention until it was canceled.

The Daily Mail asks if Hayden is desperate. Most stars Hayden’s age are going out partying, getting hooked on stuff, and making headlines for whoever they happen to be dating. Hayden is a working celebrity who has been lucky enough to do projects that has given her a lot of fans. If she waited twenty years to show up at conventions, people might not care about getting her autograph as much so she’s striking while the iron is hot. Plus the time she spends smiling and shaking hands with the fans is enabling her to strengthen her relationship with the fans and gain new ones so that when she does a project, more fans will tune in or buy tickets. In the absence of anything to promote, Hayden is promoting herself. In the absence of anything to promote, Eliza Dushku is promoting herself.

Celebrities are making themselves more and more available as there are more and more conventions for them to attend and that’s a good thing. If you don’t want to pay for autographs or photo ops, don’t. As always, the strongest vote is the one we make with our wallet.

Hayden at the convention in question.  I wish I could have gone because she was a sweetheart when I met her.