“Opening the Mother Box: Exploring my relationship with comic books, religion and George Lucas”

marrowAbout a month ago, I was invited to speak at “The Marrow“, an event that takes place at The Whistler in Chicago each month. At this event, storytellers are asked to read an essay that gets to “the marrow” of who they are.

As it was the first time I’d ever done something like this, I was rather nervous and wrote a piece that was to be a deep, personal exploration of my self.

It was well-received, but after hearing some of the other storytellers that evening – one spoke about trying to find a rehab facility for his ex-wife on a holiday, another about her estranged relationship with her mother and how it all started the day her mom kicked her father out of the house – I knew that I had just skimmed the surface.

Next time, if there is a next time, I’ll go much deeper. But for now, I’ll share with you the essay that I announced that I’d never read in public again. :::laughs::: I’m so full of it:

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The challenge to writing an essay about oneself, especially one that is supposed to get to the heart of who you are, is that you tend to get all caught up in your own bullshit.

You know, you get sidetracked by trying to turn a clever phrase, or using florid language that makes you sound smarter than you think you are.

You find yourself unconsciously using a verbal sleight of hand, one that distracts your reader from the truth that you don’t want them to see you tucking away in your pocket.

So there won’t be any of that from here on out…

Or will there?

(Continues after the jump!)

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Roads Not Taken: My Emotional Journey Through “The Force Awakens”

After seeing Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens almost a week ago (I was at the Chicago press screening) it’s taken me this long to process it. When the movie ended, I sat in my chair and felt conflicted. I felt like the kid who had opened all his Christmas gifts but didn’t quite get what he wanted.

Like many Star Wars fans, I’d been waiting for this installment of the Skywalker Saga for decades.  Sure, the Prequels were fine but I wanted to know what happened in that galaxy far, far away in the post-“Return of the Jedi” years.

And when you look at the marketing campaign that the folks at Lucasfilm/Disney put together, it was obvious that Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams knew what buttons they wanted to push, and what audience they were trying to reach. They wanted to reach the fans of the Classic Trilogy, the ones who grew up with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca and the rest of those iconic characters. In short, a fan like ME.

So why did I have such conflicting emotions once the credits started rolling? Why was I not flush with joy as my fellow Star Wars fans who left the theater with me? Why is there a contingent of “fans” who are declaring their hatred for the film? And finally, how do I feel now that I’ve taken the time to sort out my feelings about the film and have seen it a second time? Here’s my 2 cents (or Republic credits if you’re not in the Outer Rim) WARNING – SPOILER TERRITORY AHEAD!:

Read more after the jump!

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Celebrate the Force Awakens with these Star Wars cocktails!

This weekend, millions of Star Wars fans are going to see one of the most anticipated films in history when “The Force Awakens” finally debuts in theaters!

Now, if you’re of the proper drinking age and would like to celebrate returning to that “galaxy far, far away”, may I recommend making one of these Star Wars-themed cocktails?

They run from the fun and fruity, to downright refreshing. Just be sure to not drink and fly your space freighter. Let the wookiee be your designated driver.

Click on the images for the recipes!

Which cocktail sounds the tastiest to you? I’m partial to the “Poe-jito” myself!

I hope you enjoy them and may the Force be with you!

Works of legendary fantasy artist Frank Frazetta to go up for auction

If you’ve ever picked up a fantasy mag or paperback, you’ve most likely seen the work of Frank Frazetta. Recognized as the Grand Master of fantasy art, Frazetta’s work is known world-wide by fans of the genre.

Now, in a truly historic occasion, collectors will have an opportunity to own an original piece of Frazetta artwork in what is being called “THE LARGEST AND GREATEST SELECTION OF MASTER FANTASY ARTIST FRANK FRAZETTA’S PAINTINGS AND DRAWINGS EVER OFFERED FOR SALE IN THE WORLD!”

Considering the pieces that are available, and the timeless quality of the work, fantasy fans should be ready to make a dent in their bank accounts. See for yourself in the following press release and sample gallery:

PROFILES IN HISTORY PROUDLY PRESENTS: THE LEGENDARY “DOC DAVE WINIEWICZ ART COLLECTION,” FEATURING THE LARGEST AND GREATEST SELECTION OF MASTER FANTASY ARTIST FRANK FRAZETTA’S PAINTINGS AND DRAWINGS EVER OFFERED FOR SALE IN THE WORLD!

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DECEMBER 11, 2015 – This Historic Auction Features 80 Works By Frazetta—Arguably The Most Influential Fantasy Artist Of Our Time—Including 3 Iconic Oil Paintings, 20 Mixed Media Color Works, Plus Dozens Of His finest Pen & Ink Drawings, Highlighted By The Very Best Of His Canaveral Press Illustrations Featuring “The Lion Queen,” “Tarzan,” “Conan The Barbarian,” “Flash Gordon” & “Buck Rogers”

Also Included In The Auction Will Be Works of art by Roy Krenkel, Hal Foster, Hannes Bok, Hank Ketcham, Al Williamson, George Herriman, Jack Kirby and Walt Kelly.

(Read more after the jump!)

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Marvel goes tiny in “Ant-Man” Blu-Ray promo

In what was their biggest gamble since “Guardians of the Galaxy”, the folks at Marvel Studios launched a superhero series in their “Marvel Cinematic Universe” (MCU) based on one of their lesser-known heroes named “Ant-Man.” Of course, when you have a character that’s best known for shrinking to the size of an ant, you have to change your way of thinking when it comes to promoting his movie. You have to get away from the larger-than-life scope of heroes like Captain America, Iron Man and Thor. You have to get…tiny.

With the blu-ray release of Marvel’s “Ant-Man” this week, the studio is “going small” by giving fans a new way to look at the world of Scott Lang, the secret identity of the titular hero as played by Paul Rudd.

I received a neat little “Ant-Man” memento courtesy of the film studio and toymaker Janky Toys. It was a miniaturized replica of the blu-ray, complete with its own sleeve!

(Images and more after the jump!)

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Supergirl soars to Chicago and C2E2 in 2016!

Every year I look forward to returning to the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2). The folks at Reed Pop have put together a show that keeps growing, featuring the top creators from comics, and stars from movies and television.

(Read my feature on C2E2 2015 for the Chicago RedEye HERE!)

Fans in the Midwest have been spared having to book a flight to the East & West coast cons because they get a chance to rub elbows with the likes of Stan Lee, Kevin Smith, Brian Azzarello and Jill Thompson right here in the Windy City!

In the past, C2E2 has also given fans a chance to interact with the stars of Marvel’s The Avengers , Doctor Who, Orphan Black, Game of Thrones and Agent Carter among many others.

Melissa Benoist Headshot (Supergirl)
Melissa Benoist (photo credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS)

Next year will be no different as today Reed Pop announced that the stars of the hit television show Supergirl, Melissa Benoist (Supergirl/Kara Danvers) and Chyler Leigh (Alex Danvers) will be appearing at C2E2, March 18-20, 2016!

According to Reed Pop, this is the first time they will be attending a convention together to participate in a Panel and Autographing sessions.

Given the tremendous popularity of the show, this is going to be a hot ticket indeed!

Now heading into its seventh year, C2E2 is heralded as “THE pop culture convention in the Midwest.” It’s a chance for the Chicago fanboy/fangirl/cosplay communities to get out and celebrate the films, shows and characters they love!

(I even recorded my 5 on 5 video for Redeye right on the show floor with the mighty Avengers!)

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit C2E2.com.

 

Disney’s Aladdin Blu-Ray Release Pays Tribute to Robin Williams

AladdinDiamondBlurayRev smallWhen I first saw the movie “Aladdin” at the movie theater in 1992, it made a tremendous impact on me. First, it made me actually like musicals. Sorry, I never got into “The Little Mermaid” or “Beauty and the Beast” like so many others did. Quite frankly, musicals were never my thing. But when we first meet Aladdin in the streets of Agrabah, evading the Sultan’s soldiers while singing about his “street rat lifestyle”, I was hooked. Add to that the subtle nods to “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and some spectacular action sequences, and I was reeled in. But it wasn’t until the Genie (voiced by Robin Williams) hit the screen that I was truly enamored with this world that “Aladdin” co-directors Ron Clements and John Musker helped bring to the big screen. I grew up on Williams as a part of my pop-culture world. His stand-up act, his appearances on television shows like “Happy Days” and “Mork and Mindy” helped shape my sense of humor and appreciation for the spoken word.

Nonetheless, it’s a bittersweet experience for me to watch Disney’s “Aladdin” on the new Diamond Edition Blu-ray. Don’t get me wrong, the transfer is immaculate and looks gorgeous on my big-screen HD set. I even loved the little running “Abu the Monkey” icon that appears on screen as the disc loads. But when you consider how much Robin Williams meant to the movie, viewing the film can bring a slight pang to the heart as Williams’ passing is something that still affects his fans.

Thankfully, the folks at Disney were mindful enough of this and included features that paid tribute to Robin Williams, most notably “The Genie Outtakes.” In this bonus feature, “Aladdin” directors Clements and Musker talk about working with Williams and share a number of outtakes that never made the final film. The outtakes are pretty funny, as you would expect, although you could see why they weren’t used. The number of celebrity impersonations Williams did while recording the dialogue of the Genie was staggering and a testament to his comedic talent, but in some cases the references were a bit too obscure for the audience. Still, it was a treat to see some of these takes brought to light for his fans to see.

That feature alone makes the “Aladdin” Blu-Ray/DVD Diamond Edition worth adding to your home library, but there are others, like “Genie 101” and the look at the making of the Broadway Musical that will please most Disneyphiles.

The disc is a wonderful tribute to Robin Williams and his talent. And it will remind each of us that we’ll never have a friend like him ever again.

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Disney’s Aladdin: Diamond Edition Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Product Details

Synopsis:  Disney’s beloved masterpiece will make your heart race and your spirit soar. Experience the laughter, adventure and Academy Award®-winning music (1992: Best Music, Original Song, “A Whole New World,” Original Score) for the first time on Blu-ray and Digital HD. And now Aladdin shines even brighter with never-before-seen tributes to the enchanting talent of Robin Williams, the “Genius behind the Genie”.

Voice Cast: Robin Williams (Jumanji, Night at the Museum) as The Genie, Scott Weinger (TV’s “Full House”) as Aladdin, Linda Larkin as Jasmine, Gilbert Gottfried (TV’s “Saturday Night Live”) as Iago, Jonathan Freeman (Aladdin: the Musical on Broadway) as Jafar, Douglas Seale (Rescuers Down Under, For Love or Money) as Sultan and Frank Welker (Mulan, The Smurfs 2) as Abu.

Producers/Directors: John Musker and Ron Clements  (Moana, The Little Mermaid, Hercules)         

Writers: Ron Clements and John Musker (Moana, The Little Mermaid, Hercules) Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (Shrek, Pirates of the Caribbean 1-4)

Music & Lyrics: Alan Menken – Music (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame), Howard Ashman – Lyrics (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast), Tim Rice – Lyrics (The Lion King, Evita)

Blu-ray & Digital Bonus Features: The Genie Outtakes – Robin Williams’ Genie outtakes are magically brought to life.

Genie 101 – Our host, Scott Weinger (the voice of Aladdin), takes us through the various transformations of the famous (and formerly famous) celebrity references of the Genie.

Ron & John: You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me – Directors John Musker & Ron Clements sit down and discuss the experiences of their long-running partnership together at Disney.

Aladdin: Creating Broadway Magic – Join host Darren Criss as we take “a new fantastic point of view” at the story of how Aladdin went from a classic Disney animated film to become Broadway’s smash hit with Composer Alan Menken and others.

Unboxing Aladdin – Our host, Joey Bragg from Disney Channel’s Liv & Maddy, explore the Easter eggs and hidden secrets of Aladdin in this unboxing video.

Classic Bonus – ALL classic bonus from the original DVD release

DMA Exclusive: Deleted Song – “My Finest Hour” – Jafar takes the stage in this never-before-seen deleted song. Includes intro from Ron & John. (DMA exclusive)

DVD Bonus Features: Select Classic Bonus, including:

  • Deleted Song / “Proud Of Your Boy” (Original Demo Recording)
  • Deleted Song / “You Can Count On Me”
  • Deleted Song / “Humiliate The Boy”
  • Deleted Song / “Why Me”
  • Deleted Scene / “Aladdin & Jasmine’s First Meeting”
  • Deleted Scene / “Aladdin in the Lap of Luxury”

Ratings: G in US & Canada (bonus materials are not rated)

Feature Run Time: Approximately 91 Minutes

Aspect Ratio:1:85:1

Audio: Blu-ray: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. DVD: English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Languages: English, French and Spanish

Subtitles: English (ESL/SDH), French and Spanish

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyAladdin

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DisneyAnimation

Website: http://movies.disney.com/aladdin

Sexy Superhero Costumes up for auction in “FSC After Dark, Capes & Panties”

In the Spring of 2014, I interviewed adult entertainment director/producer Axel Braun about the costume design on his superhero porn parodies like Spider-Man XXX and Batman XXX. He had a bit to say about why the costumes in his features were more faithful to the comics than the big-budget films were, with his passion stemming from his love for the source material.

(You can read the interview and see a couple of the costumes HERE. Yes, the article is SFW.)

Turns out that many of those costumes will be up for auction in a fundraiser being held by the Free Speech Coalition. The event is taking place in Los Angeles near the end of the month and I’ve even got a pair of VIP tickets to give away! Read the press release below and check out details on how to win the tix after the jump:

FSC AFTER DARK, CAPES & PANTIES, ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME GALA FASHION SHOW/AUCTION PARTY, HOSTED BY THE FREE SPEECH COALITON ON SEPT 24 AT THE SUPPERCLUB LA

The First Ever All Porn Star Fashion Show & Auction of SuperHero Collectible Costumes, Movie Props, Sex Toys and Baci Lingerie is Open to the Public

LOS ANGELES – Free Speech Coalition, the leading non profit trade association for the adult entertainment and pleasure products industry, will present “ FSC After Dark, Capes & Panties” a once-in-a-lifetime porn star fashion show and auction to support free speech on Thursday, September 24 at the Supperclub LA (6675 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028.)

Wicked Pictures’ star Jessica Drake and superstar Tanya Tate will host the fun and fantasy party and the industry’s top stars will be modeling the dazzling, one-of-a-kind superhero costumes coveted by collectors from Vivid Entertainment’s bestselling adult parodies and the most erotic Baci lingerie styles.

More info after the jump!

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