All posts by tyrannofloresrex

Mr. Enthusiasm

The Best of All New All Different Marvel #8: Ms. Marvel

Ms. Marvel

G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, & Takeshi Miyazawa

Despite what their recent reboot event is called, Marvel comics actually did something all new and all different back in 2014 when it released the new Ms. Marvel. Carol Danvers, the black unitard-clad, blonde heroine, who had been Ms. Marvel for several years, had been promoted to Captain Marvel, creating the opportunity to have a new character fill the eponymous title. Instead of using any previous character from the Marvel pantheon, Marvel had a lightning-in-a-bottle moment, and handed over the property to a unique creative team. With the help of editors Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker, writer G. Willow Wilson, and artists Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring, Kamala Khan, a young Pakistani-American woman, became the new Ms. Marvel, and the first Muslim woman to headline her own Marvel title.

IMG_0649Kamala’s backstory is an ironic take on the classic tragic origin: after disobeying her strict Pakistani-Muslim parents and sneaking out to a party where there would be boys and booze, Kamala Khan is unwillingly doused in Terrigen mist, which basically turns her into a super-powered Inhuman. In Kamala’s case, with irresponsibility comes great power. Unlike the cosmically powered Carol Danvers, Kamala is a polymorph, with the ability to stretch, bend, and change in size. She initially emerges from the mist with the ability to mimic forms, and morphs herself into the blonde, curvaceous Carol Danvers. In her disguise, but guided by her Islamic upbringing (“If you save one life, it is as if you’ve saved mankind entirely”), she rescues a classmate from drowning with her polymorph powers. However, after sustaining an injury, Kamala loses the ability to imitate other people. This loss is a defining moment for her character. It’s a statement that the need to blend in is not necessary. It underscores that Kamala Khan is her own Ms. Marvel with her own voice, and will be taking on various challenges differently than those before her.

It’s that different voice that propelled Ms. Marvel through the Secret Wars crisis, and made her an immediate icon. Ms. Marvel’s creative team, guided by Amanat and Wilson, has always posed social and philosophical questions to Kamala intertwined with a superhero plot. Ms Marvel’s challenges with super-powered villainy mirrors personal challenges that Kamala is having as a millennial woman, as a Pakistani-American, as a Muslim, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. But to get the feelings out of that complex texture, there is a lot of time spent watching Kamala interact with her family, her friends, and the world around her, that makes how she deals with problems, by “embiggening” herself to smash them, or shrinking to avoid them, really interesting. With all of the labels that could be put on Kamala, and all the influences converging on her, the polymorphic powers complement her need to adapt. This kind of detailed character development and story structure continues in the latest Ms. Marvel arc. Continue reading The Best of All New All Different Marvel #8: Ms. Marvel

PBC: All Fools

Being creatures of free will, human beings don’t need a reason to celebrate, but boy, do we sure love an excuse to party. Think back a few weeks ago to St. Patrick’s Day: this is a holiday that commemorates a figure of a specific cultural heritage that makes up just a slice of the world’s population. Yet Irish or not, everyone loves to swill green beer, sing Irish shanties, and be surrounded by their friends and loved ones.  We persistently come up with arbitrary holidays, either with legitimate cultural origins or simply for the sake of themselves, just to have an excuse to bring people together to laugh, love, and to enjoy. To further illustrate, we here at the Institute of Idle Time are gearing up to celebrate 15 years of obsessive list making and other asinine, pop-related pursuits with a beach bonfire that required months of preparation and planning. Why?  

Because why not?

So happy April Fool’s day, perhaps the most pointless of all celebrations! In the tradition of the Roman hilaria, the medieval Feast of Fools, and the Hindu celebration of Holi, The Playlist By Committee has decided to celebrate this most frivolous springtime tradition with a special mixtape. These are not funny songs, or songs about being fools. In fact, these aren’t really songs. PBC’s “All Fools” is a compilation of our favorite skits and interludes on albums. These are the tracks that you never hear on Pandora, and that you more likely than not skip through when listening to full-albums on your iPod or CD player. They’re neglected because they rarely ever reach pop-song length, and in some cases are derided by critics, but we here at PBC think nothing is too unimportant to spend hours of our lives debating and organizing. The result of our labors is a series of intermissions that add up to about the length of an episode of Seinfeld, the best metric for time, and hopefully you’ll find it equally entertaining.

You may think this is a pointless endeavor. That thought crossed our minds too. But maybe we just wanted a reason to get together and make another list before our next official playlist. We built this for the same reason you’ll hopefully give it a listen.

Because why not?

PBC: All Fools

  1. Wiz Khalifa – Slim Skit

It’s been ten years since Wiz Khalifa debuted, and finally people seem to care as little about him as I do. I won’t say I’m immune to his hits; “Say Yeah” and “Black and Yellow” are undeniably infectious, but “Slim Skit”  off his Kush and Orange Juice mixtape is my favorite thing he’s ever produced. The bongos and whining guitar imitate a Curtis Mayfield track, then Slim’s monologue sounds straight out of a 1970’s exploitation movie. His lamentations are funny, semi-sympathetic, and littered with pieces of casual wisdom (re: “you gotta stay cool”). – RF Continue reading PBC: All Fools

The Dublin

It is no secret that my family has a taste for the drink. My grandfather, Walter, owned a couple of bars in Sacramento, one of them, Goeman’s, still stands today on Franklin boulevard. Though I never personally saw the old guy overindulge, he never turned down a good cocktail. Whenever we would have family dinners, all of the adults would imbibe at least one of his signature drink: The Manhattan.

In honor of the late Walt Goeman, and to celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day, I tried whipping up an Irish version of this classic cocktail. They say on St. Paddy’s Day everyone is honorary Irish, and in the spirit of the holiday, the Manhattan is relocating 3,172 miles (5,104 km) to Ireland’s metropolis, Dublin.
The Manhattan is a really great drink because there is a simple way to remember how to make them. The area code to Manhattan is 212, which translates to:
2 shots of Whiskey
1 Shot of Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes of bitters
Pour those into an iced shaker, give it a couple whirls, then pour out into a glass. Martini glasses are traditional, but on St. Patrick’s day, any ship will do, ya feel me?
Add a maraschino cherry, and 1 tsp. of the cherry juice, and you got yourself a good beverage.
Now, here’s what you’ll need to make a delicious Dublin:

Continue reading The Dublin

Four Color Primer: Colossus

The first appearance of Colossus (1975)
The first appearance of Colossus (1975)

I don’t know what to expect from Tim Miller and Ryan Reynolds’s Deadpool film, which opens today. Miller is normally a vfx director, graphics designer, and animator; this will be his first feature, written by Zombieland scribes, Rhett Rheese and Paul Wernick. If you’ve been keeping up with Idle Time’s ANAD Marvel project, you know that Deadpool is a big part of the Marvel Comics relaunch, probably in part to promote the film (it’s nice to see the two studios play nice). I hadn’t had a lot of experience with Deadpool prior to these comics, and I’m still on the fence about him. His never-ending retorts and meta-humor are genuinely funny in the comics, but I find Reynolds’s first-person voiceover and sarcastic delivery more obnoxious than charming since I stopped being sixteen. When I first heard news that Deadpool was getting a movie, I didn’t care, but then the trailer came out. Deadpool is sourced from the X-men universe, and that’s why 20th Century Fox can make a movie about him. And, in the preview, one of the all-time coolest X-men appears to have a role in the film: Colossus.

Though there are a lot of mundane details about Colossus, his family is shrouded in mysticism. To begin, C-Lo’s real name is Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin, and he was born in Lake Baikal, Siberia on the Ust-Ordynski Collective farm. That’s where he’s found by Professor Xavier, toiling in the fields: a giant, literal man of steel tossing bales of hay.

Professor X recruiting Piotr from Giant Size X-Men #1 (1975)
Professor X recruiting Piotr from Giant Size X-Men #1 (1975)

Xavier’s trying to recruit Piotr because all of the original X-Men, save Cyclops, have gone missing on the island of Krakoa, and Professor X is mounting a rescue. It is probably the most touching of any of the recruitments, as Piotr reluctantly leaves his family to see if his powers can better the world. But leaving his younger sister bothers him to his core, mostly because of his brother. Continue reading Four Color Primer: Colossus

Every Win Counts

2016-01-16 19.46.37The best of both worlds: they say you don’t get to have your cake and eat it, too. But sometimes, rarely (or in this case, four times an NBA season), I get to do both. And very rarely, yet appropriately, does it happen on my birthday. Well, that’s exactly what happened on January 16th, when I turned twenty-nine while attending my first game at the Staples Center with my good friend, Kevin Hayes, watching our Sacramento Kings play my LA Clippers.

Now, I admit I’m a Clippers (Blake Griffin) fan, but with my friend visiting and Blake being injured, it felt right to join Kev in Kings colors. With my favorite teams competing head-to head, I’m usually happy no matter the outcome, but this season is huge for the Kings. With the addition of Rajon Rondo, Marco Bellinelli and Willie Cauley-Stein, plus outstanding performances by Omri Casspi, and the league’s best big, Demarcus Cousins, the Kings have a shot at the 8th seed for our first playoff appearance in ten years (yeah, that’s cause to celebrate!) Granted, it means besting either Portland or Houston (which will be tough), but if the Warriors’ rise has taught us anything it’s that you have to believe. For playoff consideration, every Kings win counts. Continue reading Every Win Counts

Venture Bros. Is Back!

With season six premiering tonight, get up-to-speed with Idle Time’s two biggest Venture Bros. aficionados.

BC: The Venture Bros. to me has always been a crown jewel of serialized storytelling and detailed character development. When creators Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer premiered the show in 2004, it already felt like something special but I had no idea of the creative depths the show would reach. Within the past 12 years (holy shit), a show that caught my attention due to being a parody of Jonny Quest has grown into the universe I am the most emotionally involved in and feel the most compelled to watch as these characters grow.

Venture mural.jpg

As it began, the show was simply about Doctor Thaddeus “Rusty” Venture whose childhood as a boy adventurer alongside his world famous father Jonas Venture, a Doc Savage/Benton Quest mashup, left Rusty a pill-popping, PTSD-filled sack of sad. Left in the shadow of his legendary father, Rusty tries to rise from failure with his killing machine bodyguard Brock Samson and his constantly killed/cloned twin sons, Hank and Dean. Doc Venture is tormented by his archenemy The Monarch and his soulmate Dr. Girlfriend (now Dr. Mrs. The Monarch) but ultimately Rusty causes his own failures.

Most characters on this show are held back by these invisible ties to the past as well. The amount of story that goes in between now and then would take a series of articles to explain so I will leave with where the show left off. By the time of the 6th season, Doc Venture has inherited a billion dollar corporation from the death of his twin brother, and with it, the opportunity to finally let himself and his family succeed. The Monarch and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch are poised to take huge new positions in the super villain organization, The Guild of Calamitous Intent. The real question is will these new chances to improve be squandered by characters’ own inability to move on? Are these characters truly ready to be successful? Continue reading Venture Bros. Is Back!

The Revenant

I can’t talk about The Revenant without talking about how it was made. I might admire the filmmaking more than I like the finished product. And I really like the finished product. The harsh and challenging conditions under which the movie was produced have been well discussed in the film community. In director Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s own words, “every molecule of this film was absolutely difficult. We were basically eleven months at the mercy of the low temperatures and different conditions that changed seven times a day.”

Iñárritu and cinematographer and co-author, Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubeski, chose to shoot only using natural light and firelight, leaving few, precious hours of the day to film in. Supposedly, hours of unusable light would be spent rehearsing a shot, only to have everything change shortly before rolling. The crew worked their asses off. Stuntmen did repeated takes of being dragged naked by a horse. Leonardo DiCaprio not only submerged himself in ice cold mountain water, the dude actually ate a raw bison liver. The composer of the film, Ryuichi Sakamoto (of Yellow Magic Orchestra!) wrote parts of the score while in remission from throat cancer. The sound design for the bear sequence took one month to create. Tom Hardy dropped out of the upcoming DC cashcow Suicide Squad in order to finish the film. I’m not going to recount every single fact of difficulty, because you may be thinking right now, “Why does that matter?“

“I think this a film that I want the people to feel the cold to smell the fear to remind how a tree sounds when there’s wind, and become the hero and be broken, and isolated and be dead, and reborn again.” – Iñárritu, Director

“The idea of using natural light came because we wanted the audience to feel, I hope, that this stuff is really happening.”- Chivo, Cinematographer

Continue reading The Revenant

Top 5 Other Movies To Watch This Month

If having another Star Wars come out this winter has got you feeling Jewish on Christmas, you should know that there will be other movies coming out. I’m sure no one’s told you this, since you’ve probably been getting earfuls of “Luke’s back!” and “there’s a crucifix lightsaber!”, but fear not because there will be plenty of other great choices out there. Here are a couple of things I’m really looking forward to seeing.

The Revenant

Alejandro Iñárritu’s directorial follow up to Birdman looks radical, and I mean that un-ironically. The Revenant is Iñárritu’s first period piece, taking place during the 1820’s in the wilderness of present-day South Dakota. It’s loosely based on the life of historical celebrity fur trader, Hugh Glass, who was left for dead by his comrades after surprising a grizzly bear. Glass survived the encounter, but woke up half-buried with all his belongings stolen, and hungry for vengeance. Glass proceeded to crawl his way back to a nearby encampment where he nursed himself back to health, then relentlessly pursued the cowards that left him and stole all of his stuff, achieving, what I’m sure most would consider, success.

The film is a more dramatic storytelling than the history, which is saying something because the facts already have a grizzly bear and revenge plot.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy can both deliver strong performances, and watching them build off each other should be great. Iñárritu is one of the most interesting storytellers out there. He’s a master of playing with timelines, concocting beautiful stories that he layers in such a way that the method in which they unfold is part of their impact. Emmanuel Lubezki, the cinematographer who helped design the “one take” look of Birdman, is again behind the camera for this story, and from the trailer it looks absolutely amazing. Earlier this year, reports came out stating the ridiculously grueling labor that went into making this film, which shot on location and used mostly natural light. When asked about the shoot being a “living hell,” Inarritu responded, “If we ended up in green screen with coffee and everybody having a good time, everybody will be happy, but most likely the film would be a piece of shit.” I’m betting this movie won’t be a piece of shit. Continue reading Top 5 Other Movies To Watch This Month

First Obsessions: TMNT

A few weeks ago, it came to my attention that we were not properly celebrating a new “National Day” designation. Not to be confused with Free Comic Book Day, which happens the first Saturday of May each year, National Comic Book Day is one of those arbitrary days of observation that was seemingly birthed thanks to the Internet and the ability to generate buzz with a hashtag or flash sale. We should put a National Day of Idleness on the calendar. I think our pals at Idle Times SF would get behind that.

Regardless! Far be it from us to miss out on a chance to celebrate one of the key pillars supporting our clubhouse of frivolity. So I started asking various Idlers to share a comic or comics that stand out in their memory as personal game-changers, formative issues, or books that set them on a path of irrepressible obsession. We’re starting with RF’s recollections on TMNT. – MMDG

image1The first thing I ever obsessed over was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was only four or five, but I had already had strong, nerdy inclinations and everything in my life had to be TMNT, including birthday cakes, a sleeping bag, turtle pajamas (colored headband included), and my prized collection of action figures. Of course, the cartoon show was part of my fix, as I spent hours watching rented VHS tapes on a daily basis. Everything stemmed from this show, and if something had a picture of a ninja turtle on it, I had to be a part of it. And I suppose, that’s how I ended up possessing volumes three and four of the original Eastman and Laird comic book series. Continue reading First Obsessions: TMNT

RF’s First Half Faves

My Top 5 albums from the first half of 2015…

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
Kendrick Lamar offers his reflections on where he has come from  on his journey through the  music industry, recalling some of the most influential figures in hip-hop to celebrate his origin and climb to the top. While acknowledging his success, Lamar struggles with the toxic nature of fame thats inseparable from it, and the responsibility of being a cultural icon in a time when our culture is saturated with race-related violence. A lot of Lamars verses are conversations from one aspect of his feelings to someone in his life, or himself, or in one excellent piece of found footage editing, Tupac. Besides its political content, the album delivers dynamic, raw vocal performances, finely utilized samples coupled with an amazing studio band, and is one of the most engaging records to come out in the last decade. To Pimp a Butterfly is a work that could be dissected, discussed, and enjoyed for years to come. And it probably will.

Continue reading RF’s First Half Faves