Posted on: September 18th, 2012 Things I Miss (and Don’t Miss) About Reading Comics

I recently decided to get my act together and go to graduate school. I knew there would be reading. I knew there would be writing. I knew I had to keep my job. So, I figured I would have to cut down on my pull list each week. There wouldn’t be enough time to keep up with all the titles I wanted to read. And I did that. By at least 50%.

Then I actually started school and it turns out…I don’t have time to read them at all. In almost two months time, I think I have managed to get through four single issues. This is not at all what I anticipated. But, in effort to keep my priorities in line, I’ve just succumbed to the notion that comics will have to wait. Do I miss them? God, yes. However, our time apart has also made me realize that comics were causing me some grief.

Things I Don’t Miss About Comics: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on: July 4th, 2012 Dear Comics: I’m So Bored of Grit

Angry SpidermanSo here I am. Reading comics. Like I do. And expressing my scattered opinions on stories to my brother. Like I do. And I start noticing a trend. Primarily in the books from Marvel and DC, but that’s just because I read a lot of those.

Why do characters have to be jerks to pretend they’re compelling?

Do they actually need to be that way? Or is it just easy for the writer to create the facade of depth when they’re mean and angry? Let me explain: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on: March 21st, 2012 Womanthology: Watch and Learn

Womanthology Space OngoingThis past weekend at WonderCon, IDW Publishing announced that they would be launching a new ongoing series as a “spin-off” from a Kickstarter project known as ‘Womanthology’. People? This is huge.

During the record-breaking funding of the Kickstarter project, Womanthology produced a large amount of criticism. Why do we need a collection of stories from women? Why is this a thing? Let me tell you, I supported the project right away. And now, after reading the anthology, I can tell you-we did need it. Let’s table the debate on women in comics right now, okay? Anytime, you want to discuss it, I’d be happy to do so. I want to talk about another reason why this project was so important to comics: Womanthology showed us all the power of an idea. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on: December 16th, 2011 Critiques from the Asylum: Entitlement, Schmentitlement

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Hola Lords and Ladies! Byron’s back from the underground with a new editorial for your eye-tubes. Let me preface by saying I love being a nerd, I love nerddom and nearly all facets of this wonderful culture we live in……..(smiley face falls away in 3..2………1)

THAT BEING SAID, there’s a growing problem I’ve been seeing not only on forums, but at a lot of the conventions I’ve been to over the past couple of years. This problem has been festering in the darker corners of fandom and its spreading like a cancer throughout fandom as a whole and that is this growing sense of nerd entitlement that is acting like a festering wound that needs to be treated and healed. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on: November 16th, 2011 Where Are All the Women At?

Blazing SaddlesI have found myself in a state of confusion. There’s a strange trend happening in the comics industry right now.

This week we received the news that Marvel has cancelled X-23 from its list of ongoings. Now, that was a pretty solid book but that’s not what I want to talk about today. Take a minute and think about all the ongoing titles that Marvel currently offers. Think. Think. Think. How many of those titles have a female title-role? With X-23 gone, my count is at one. ONE. Ghost Rider. And even that’s a bit of a gray area. Still, Alejandra does hold that title since Fear Itself. One book. Doesn’t that strike you as odd? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on: June 22nd, 2011 New Readers: The Elusive White Rabbit

Kick Ass Movie PhotoA publisher makes a high risk move. Why? To gain new readers. The industry launches their annual Free Comic Book Day. Why? To gain new readers. We argue that prices on print and digital comics need to be dropped. Why? Because we’re broke as hell. And to gain new readers.

So where are these new readers coming from exactly? I think we envision these droves of people with money in hand waiting for some new hobby. As if they’re wandering, looking for that shiny neon Superman sign in the middle of the city saying, “Welcome, Stranger.” If a random person were to find a comic book lying on a bus stop bench, do you think they would read it? Do you think they’d even pick it up? Maybe, just maybe, they’d give it to a kid. But I doubt it.

For lack of a better word, let’s call someone that doesn’t read comics ‘a Goofus’. What can I say? I’m a sucker for the classics. Have you ever tried to get a Goofus to read a comic? A graphic novel? A trade paperback? I have. It’s not exactly a smooth transaction. It basically breaks down like this: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on: October 4th, 2010 Editorial – Nerd Trek: The Wrath of Cons

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Even as I sit here in my cubicle in the waning days of September, I look back at what was a great year and I eagerly anticipate the return of spring next year. Not for when one’s fancy turns to love, but that’s when convention season begins anew! From comic books, anime, horror, sci-fi and gaming to even fan-specific shows you can’t throw a stone on the internet without getting hits for the next great convention or fan expo. What is it about these conventions that bring so much of us out of hiding and into the glaring light of the outside world? Well, you wouldn’t be reading my articles if you thought that I’d stop there, so read on MacDuff.

Conventions provide not only a place to get the autograph from your favorite star or that hard to find swag, they also provide a way for a divisive community such as ours to come together and let our geek flags fly proudly. Think of it kind of like a nerd-pride parade that extends over an entire weekend. These weekend conventions are highly anticipated; as fans spends thousands of dollars on airfare and hotels to be able to attend. As much as they spend on getting there and back they spend even more at the conventions themselves on food, drink and swag. It also provides you with a badge of honor that says ‘yes I was there, and it was AWESOME’ with plenty of epic tales to tell your friends that couldn’t make it.

Of course you have to take the good with the bad. Overcrowding, the ridiculously long lines, the over-priced convention food, limited run of con exclusives and of course limited seating to events can wear on people over the course of a weekend. Not to mention another annoyance at a convention: The Super-fan. These people are the die-hard fans that will pop up at nearly every convention they can get to, be the most vocal (read: ridiculously loud) about their show/game/series/characters being the best of all while slamming everyone else’s fandom and really begin to wear down the all-around good vibes of the convention.

To all super-fans out there I say: for the love of all that is holy please calm the hell down and shut the hell up! Being a fan is fine but that doesn’t give you carte blanche to slam ANYBODY else’s likes or good time at the convention. They paid their hard earned money just like you so give them the respect that they deserve. If their costume doesn’t look as nice (read: as store bought) as yours you don’t get to point out the flaws in their costume. When in line for the Q&A period at a panel, keep your question small and brief, if you have more to ask then get back in line and ask again (time permitting of course).

Another point I want to touch on has become more and more of a problem as the conventions get bigger and start to cater to a wider variety of people; that would be violence at a convention. Con-violence is sadly becoming more and more apparent as the cons get larger. Star Wars fans staring down the Star Trek fans in a ‘West-Side Story’ style gang warfare to violent outbursts in those long lineups to even where people at seated in an event. This really has culminated in the now-infamous stabbing in Hall H at the San Diego Comic Con. I was in Hall H when it all went down (fortunately I was on the other side too) and I probably wouldn’t have heard anything about it if some schmuck when up to the podium and said “Please return to your seats. There’s nothing to see here.” When you say a line like that EVERYONE is going to get out of their seats to have a look at what went down.

Now being at any kind of convention these days with the amount of money spent on costumes, the pass, the food and the swag one has to ask themselves: Is it worth it? Is all the money I’ve saved for this on airfare, hotel and all the tropes of conventioneering worth being removed from the event with a possible banning, or even a trip to jail just because I couldn’t get the better seat that I wanted? The answer is a thousand times NO!

I personally am not going to piss away a chance to be at any of the conventions with my friends just because of the actions of another. I can’t control the actions of any other conventioneer; I can only control and be responsible for my own actions. Besides, there are always feedback forms or even forums for me to bitch about the long lines and that super-fan in the brown coat which I can get to AFTER the conventions’ over. There is a time and a place for that; it is not while you’re enjoying yourself at the con.

As conventions grow and expand their repertoire to cater to fans I’ve been hearing a growing voice showing their discontent over shows that are not genre shows (read: shows like ‘America’s got Talent’ or ‘Canadian Idol’) getting space at the convention. Really people, with the amount of time that we’ve been ostracized for liking certain shows or certain forms of print media, are we really going to judge people that arrive at these conventions because they’re fans of these kinds of shows? Sadly, I’ve seen it more and more at conventions these days and it really puts an ugly stain on what should be wholesome fandom.

These fans have just as much right to be there as we do and they should get the same level of respect that we *should* give each other in the genre community. They are letting their fan flags fly just as much as we are and they should be included in our nerdy reindeer games.

To conclude this rant, conventions are a great way for fans of all genres and communities to come together in the spirit of fandom. Let’s all just play nice with each other (especially with those new non-genre show fans) and we’ll all make the conventions a much better place.

Until next time, stay epic my friends!

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Posted on: September 18th, 2010 Editorial: The Etiquette of Lines

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Hola Lords and Ladies! I’m going to get back to the usual nerdy diatribes and rants later on. Today however I want to discuss a subject that really and I do mean really, grinds my gears. We’ve all been there, an early or advanced screening for the latest comic-book epic or in line for a signing/sketch from your favorite author/artist. We are all standing together in a simple structure used to simplify the entry to the event, a line. Now when things go well this structure moves along quickly and everyone in said line goes away satisfied. When it doesn’t go right (to be detailed further down) it can be a mockingly cruel torture device designed to drive its participant’s batshit insane. The following are a set of rules (not guidelines, I’m not playing a DM right now) to make your experience and the experiences of others in the line more enjoyable.

#1 – Know what you want before you get to the front of the line.

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. In the case of a movie theater or a fast food restaurant where you have multiple selections to choose from you have plenty of time to make a choice while you are still moving through the line. The goal is, once you’re at the front, have your choice in mind and make your selection. I was in line last weekend to see ‘Machete’ and the two younger girls in front of me got to the front of the line. They both walked up to the cashier, but it seems as though their choice for the movie they were going to see leaked out of their heads between the front of the line and approaching the cashier! So they had to back up and look at the screens with the films and show-times to find it again. This happened more than once as apparently their ability to read also leaked out of their heads along with their choice. I should also mention that the other cashiers were busy with large families and their desperate attempts to come to a consensus. I was next in line dammit! Get out of my way so that I can make my choice and move on for the people behind me!

Simply put, have your choice in mind once you get to the front of the line.

#2 – Have your money/credit/debit ready

Again this is common sense. While you’re moving through the line get your cash/debit/credit/scene card out and in hand or at least have it in easy reach when you get to the cashier. It makes the transaction go by so much faster if you’re not having to fumble for your wallet or dig through your purse to get that all out at the cashier. Keep the process simple and have it in hand when you get to the front of the line.

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#3 – Pay attention to the movements of the line

Depending on the size or popularity of the event, the line could move slowly or quickly. This is normally always out of our control and is really the responsibility of the organizers to determine. Our part in this is to be aware when the line moves and move with it. So that means no sitting down while in line, there will be plenty of time for that once you get inside. This also goes for when you turn around to talk with the person behind you, keep an eye out so that you know to move when the line moves.

And finally rule #4:

NO BLOODY CUTS!!!

Out of all the rules to follow THIS is the one that we all need to follow and it really brings my piss to a boil when it isn’t followed. If you step out of line to go do something else it was clearly more important than standing in line. So you lose your place in line and have to go to the back of the line. If your friends cannot make it there at the same time as you do they go to the back of the line! They can ask you to save seats but that’s it, they go to the back of the line! This is crucial especially when the event has limited seating. Nothing pisses me off more than not being allowed to get in because some moron let his friends cut in line and the capacity of the event has been reached. Loyalty schmoyalty! If your friends can’t make it there to get in line with you at the same time it’s their own fault for not getting in. No one else that is in the line should have to miss out because your friends can’t follow a watch!

I’m normally not an angry individual but this always seems to tick me off to no end! The world would be a much better place and we’d all get along that much better if everyone just follows the rules. If you didn’t know there were rules to the line before you do now. So please, for your better enjoyment and the peace of mind of others in the line behind you, follow them.

/end rant. Until next time, stay epic lords and ladies!

Posted on: August 31st, 2010 EDITORIAL: Geek Strata

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Since its inception, geekdom has had many camps of the faithful spring up in support of their favorite series. One need only look around at a convention for a few minutes to see members of the 501st squadron sporting their PVC stormtrooper costumes, fans of ‘the Fett’ sporting their best battle-damaged Mandalorian armor and roving packs of red/blue/gold shirts from Star Trek showing their love for Roddenberry. The reception of each other when their paths cross in the vendor halls can be described as frosty at best. Why is that? Why isn’t there a nerd version of Rodney King saying ‘can’t we all get along?’? Well, to bastardize William Shakespeare to a degree, read on MacDuff.

Star Wars, the multi-billion dollar brain-child of George ‘King Beard’ Lucas has, since its humble beginnings in 1977, grown from mere fandom and collection of swag to borderline religion. I believe that people in England have put down their religion as ‘Jedi’ when asked to fill out their census forms. Even at the most recent Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, Florida there were Star Wars themed wedding ceremonies. Fans of ‘the Wars’ let their geek flags fly the highest, but even within the Star Wars camps there is fractures (Jedi vs. Sith, fans of the original trilogy vs. the prequel series etc.) but they are all united in one aspect “Star Wars rules and Star Trek sucks!”. If I can make a suggestion though O Star Wars fan, put the lightsaber down and give Trek a view. You might even be surprised to find that there are similarities between the two: big ships with lasers, cyborgs and multi-faction conflict. You may also be shocked to find out that there are more black people in the galaxy aside from Lando Calrissian.

Now onto Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry’s ‘Gunsmoke in Space’, debuting on television in 1966 the series ran for three seasons and was cancelled on June 3 1969. By then, in spite of low Nielsen ratings, the series had developed a strong following that culminated in one of the first fan conventions. Four series (5 if you include the short-lived animated series), 12 movies and a metric ton of merchandise later the travels of the USS Enterprise have stretched far and wide. Even with a series that has an idealized society with humans and aliens living in near-harmony (the allegory on racism of the original series with Frank Gorshin in black and white face paint not withstanding) and the need for material possessions has been all but removed all is not right within the Star Trek camp. Now, O Star Trek fan; put logic aside for now and give Star Wars a look. It has blasters, scoundrels that captain their own ships and even philosophy with a sci-fi edge.

You’re probably wondering why I haven’t cast my critical ‘eye of Sauron’ onto other series like Firefly, Battlestar Gallactica or Dr. Who. That’s because if I tried to give detailed attention to all of those popular genre shows with huge followings I would never be finished. Although I may revisit this topic in later critiques, so stay tuned true believer!

If I may postulate, there is another camp out there that needs to get some much needed recognition, this camp is compiled of those fans that span multiple genres, series and mediums. They are the fans of sci-fi, horror, anime, fantasy, comic books, video games and tabletop RPGs. They love it all and like a parent of a large family they simply can’t pick a favorite. This is a camp that I can say proudly that I am a card-carrying member of, editorial bias be damned! This camp has been regarded as lazy and unmotivated by the more fervent and fanatical fan camps out there with the main argument being that we don’t pick a side.

I say that picking a side of fandom removes any chance of truly enjoying it all. Look at it this way, by enjoying everything nerdy on an even level I can enjoy it when reboots of a long standing series works like J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek and I’m not nearly as disappointed when it doesn’t work like Star Wars Episodes 1-3. Also, this camp has no limitations when it comes to expressing one’s fandom. While I might be a little wigged out by the Star Trek conventions and Star Wars celebrations, I feel perfectly at home where every aspect of fandom is represented, such as The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo and San Diego Comic Con.

My final thought on this comes from bastardizing another celebrity, in this case Bruce Lee. Fandom is like a finger pointing to the moon, do not strictly focus on the finger or you will lose out on all that heavenly glory.

Until next week, stay epic my friends!

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Posted on: August 28th, 2010 The Worst Movie Screening Of My Life

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I rarely go to movies opening night. I may go to a Thursday midnight showing if the crowd is right, or, if I absolutely can’t wait until Sunday or see it in advance, then and only then, will I break my rule.

I like a packed theatre. Ever since I saw Star Wars re-released on one screen in north east Calgary, I’ve been in love with the thought of a room full of hundreds of people, silent and lost, all entertained and spellbound by the giant screen in front of them. That type of social activity – let’s not kid anyone, movie-going is a social activity – has become a huge part of my life, my vitality and, based on how you’re reading this, my career. Films are very important to me, and I love it when it’s important to other people. Most of all, I love it when people enjoy movies, be it together, alone, at home or out at the multiplex.

So last night I get home from work a little earlier than normal. I’m feeling good that it’s the weekend. You see, I tend to work a lot. Ask anyone who knows me, I’m sure they’d concede that I work too much. But alas, I was feeling rewarding and decided holy heck, I’m gonna do something I never do, and go to the movies on opening night!

The first Friday and Saturday tends to bring out the talkers, you see, which is where my “no weekend” rule originated. Simply, I had too many bad experiences on a Friday or Saturday night, so instead of driving myself crazy, I endure a few days and see the film on a Sunday night or even better, Monday. But something in me threw caution to the wind last night and I headed out to my nearby theatre for the 7:20 screening of The Last Exorcism, a film I have been excited to see and has received pretty good reviews and word of mouth.

Everything was going great. I barely had to wait in line for tickets, I got the much coveted centre-middle seats, and I had plenty of time before the show. The theatre wasn’t even that busy, by the time the film started it was maybe 70% at best. So I did something I also rarely do, I went and bought a big bag of popcorn and a drink. Woah, did someone win the lottery? No. I was just feeling good about the weekend, about seeing a movie, and wanted to be positive and have a fun time with little things that I never do. I spend most of my movie-going excursions either lining up early for pre-screenings (which I now prefer over anything) or I’m taking in the film and planning my review late on a Monday night. What I was doing last night, was the essence of going to the movies. I wasn’t just doing it as a means to end the night. I wasn’t just going because it was something to do, a clockwork knee-jerk outing that it has become to so many. I went to the movies to be fucking entertained. I paid my earned dollar to sit in a chair with a cup-holder, eat mediocre popcorn by the handful and enjoy a film.

Why do I enjoy films? Is it because I have a passion and admiration for the art-form, and thrive on writing about it? Certainly. I’m sure I do have more invested than the average man or woman, though not by much, considering the amount of bank the film industry pulls in on a weekly basis. But the real reason I love movies, is because it is escapism for me. I enjoy them so much, that for those 90+ minutes, I’m not stressed. I can’t deal with my problems during that time, nor do I have to. I can just escape and enjoy and have fun, regardless of the film’s quality. It’s a no bullshit two hour pass.

So I’m in my seat, eating away at popcorn while completely dominating the rest of the audience at the on-screen movie trivia, mentally, when two girls, I’d guess aged 16, sit down in the seats behind me. I could hear them coming through the little walkway at the front of the theatre, as they apparently have no semblance of inside-voice. The movie wasn’t set to start for another fifteen minutes, and after about five minutes of talking from the girls behind me, I thought to myself why don’t I just move now and skip the unpleasantries should they decide to keep talking during the film. So I did, I grabbed my snacks and moved to rows down, to the middle-right aisle. Ahh. That was better. Much quieter and less people.

Crisis averted?

I think not.

The trailers start just as two couples, I’m guessing around age 18, take the row directly to my right. To paint a picture, it goes: me, empty seat, aisle, empty seat, fuck bags. They are talking loudly on their way to the seats, hell you would definitely consider this yelling, within the confines of a crowded theater. If you were in a grocery store, you would certainly hear them two aisles away. I don’t know whether or not they always chatter with such volume, or whether it was a sexual “I’m trying to impress the opposite sex and my Tap Out shirt isn’t sealing the deal” thing. Quite frankly, I didn’t care. But reasonably, I can’t do anything about it, the trailers are not the feature, no matter how much I love that part of the experience. For the record, I can make out every word they are saying, crystal clear. This is not a case of the whisper-humms, which are still equally as distracting and unacceptable.

A little jingle, a familiar tune plays and an animation marks the countdown to the feature. Please deposit all refuse when leaving the theater. Please no talking. Please turn your cell phone off. Please no texting. Enjoy the movie.

The row to my right, let’s call them  ”They!”, continued to talk, seemingly without pause, and not in intervals. It was like The View with loud, obnoxious, hormonally off-balanced and horny under-achievers. Hey, I remember what it was like being young. I don’t remember what it was like to be a fucking douchebag, though I’m confident in my ability to smoke them out.

The Last Exorcism doesn’t really have much of a score, and it’s non-existent in the film’s opening scenes. They! continue talking and laughing and making noises (Pokemon noises perhaps? Yu-Gi-Oh? MMA?) at such volume, that I skip the three strikes and you’re shushed rule and head straight for the shush. as I shushed, I noticed the row behind me, and behind They! to be glaring at the offenders. It’s clear now that I’m the cinema sheriff. Great.

So I shush. It wasn’t an aggressive shush, but rather a hey guys, can you please keep it down and thank you shush, if there were such a shush. My warning missile has gone unheeded. The discussion continues, now at seemingly higher decibels, though I know they heard me, as the more demure of the two trollops echoed a faint shush at her male companion. I don’t remember exactly what they were saying, but I’m certain it wasn’t relevant to the film.

Five or so more minutes go by. They maintain the scene. I shush once more. This was not a precautionary shush. This was a fuck shush. I think after the second shush, the fuck shush, they simply chose to ignore me. This is good, as now I know something. I know that they simply aren’t ignorant. They! are disrespectful little shits. And loud too, the worst kind of shits.

This continues for about fifteen minutes. And fifteen minutes is a long time in a movie. By now we’re about 35 or 40 minutes into the film, well underway in its story, when I deploy my first verbal attack. I always hate having to tell people to stop talking. It’s an absolute last resort for me. I prefer the quick lean and stare first, but that doesn’t always get their attention. Then I’ll fall back on a precise shush, so not to disturb the rest of the theatre. In the case of The Last Exorcism, I am without doubt that the entire theatre could hear They!. Scientifically, unless you were Helen Keller, no seat in auditorium 8 was exempt from disturbance. So I do the lean and stare, then I pop with a whisper. I didn’t yell, nor did I talk. It was a whisper so sharp, so minute, that it cut like a razor, and they heard it.

Shut up.

Their continuing discussion –  readers, I’m being dead serious, this was louder than food court appropriate volume – halts for a brief second and they snap their necks left to see me, a dark figure with a mean lean. The two girls, be it in a mocking way or an ape-like monkey-see-monkey-do way, barrage the boys with arrogant shushes. Mocking shushes. They might as well have yelled like, omigod Craig totally be quiet this is so embarassing but I love the attention.

I can hear people behind me moving to stare at the row. I’m not worried about my status in the theatre, though at this point I’m wondering why the hell anyone else hasn’t stepped up to back their valiant, yet nervous, sheriff. It takes a lot for me to confront someone, even in the dark anonymity of a movie theatre. I don’t like it. I hate it. I don’t take any joy in it whatsoever, and usually it’s when I’m pushed to my limits that I actually do something about it. My heart was pounding so hard at this point, I wondered if the whole row could feel it. Untz, untz, untz, like a bad techno song pumping through my popcorn buttered arteries.

The commentary from They! gets louder and more abrasive. They! don’t like the movie. They! are critics.

Yo, this movie sucks balls.

When is this shit gonna get scary?

[Insert more irrelevant, crude commentary here]

This is killing me. At this point I’m no longer invested in the movie. I can’t enjoy it. It seems like a good film, and I really want to be in it, but I can’t. And not because I’m so out of control with my anger, but because watching the film was akin to watching The English Patient during a Li’l Jon concert. I don’t know what kept me going. Maybe it was denial. Maybe it was the yearning I had an hour early to escape on a Friday night. But I tried. And they continued to try my patience.

Two of the offenders said fuck this, quite audibly, and left. While the remaining two maintained their conversation, it was at half-volume now. See, they had no one to impress, and like Paul Walker, their voice only gets deeper and louder in the presence of other males. Competition and bravado. The cheesiest of machismo. I tried to soldier through. It was a real shame, as I’m sure under normal circumstance I would really dig the film. A few minutes later my heart sank, as They! part 1 of 2, returned, beginning their discussion with their accomplices before they even arrived at their seats.

Yo, does this movie still suck?

[Yo, insert more unfathomable shit uttered in a movie theatre here]

We were all right back where we started. I could feel the tension in the audience. This was not just me. No one else dared to speak up, however. Fast forward another 5 or 10 minutes – at this point it’s about an hour into the film, and the S is starting to hit the F onscreen – and They! are laughing, yelling, making movie commentary and talking about what they’re doing after the movie, the terrible movie that they’re wasting their time on. I decide to give it one last go. As I do it, I think I hear another audience member shush them, though I can’t be sure. I was seeing blood red. Still a whisper, and in the most respectful way to my fellow movie-goers:

Guys, will you shut the fuck up?!

They turn and look, and without hesitation, one of the girls of They! yells back:

Fuck you.

I’m confused. Fuck me?

I sat back in my seat, totally removed from the theatre. Totally removed from Earth as I tried to collect myself and figure out what exactly was happening. Am I crazy? Is this actually a Halloween screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show? Am I in fact at Mardi Gras or perhaps a UFC pay-per-view event? I needed to be sure, to save myself the embarrassment of not knowing where I was, who I was with, or the social norms of the situation.

Wait, no… I’m quite sure I’m at an early screening of a movie on a Friday night. Never mind. If a cat were in my presence and I were making out with it, that cat would literally have my tongue, but for now let’s stick figuratively. I was speechless. They were not. One of They! made a funny and the four of them guffawed like the drunk on Hee Haw (wait, weren’t they all drunk?). They yelled and talked and talked some more. I had it.

I got up and I left. I had absolutely no desire to be in that theatre anymore. I was completely removed from the film, my daring evening of entertainment now a faint and unattainable memory. I would not subject myself to such savagery for one more second.

So I did the obvious and complained to the manager. Surprisingly he asked me where they were seated, and I told him, with the accuracy of a Swedish engineer. He left and returned three minutes later with a couple of passes to see the movie again. I was gracious, though I expected a refund, but the manager need not incur my wrath. I’m not the type of cat to chew out anyone in the service industry, and am always respectful to those serving me. Truth be told I miss the old days, when an usher would periodically squash any talkers or flash a light on those treating the seats like a la-z-boy. And honestly, as I told him about They!, I could tell he really didn’t give a fuck, and I resented him for that.  But I said my thank you and went home, a crushed, defeated man.

I’ve addressed movie etiquette before, at great lengths, and I’m not going to rehash that article or rant on like a broken record. People will always talk during movies, and they will always be scum. It will always be inappropriate and unreasonable and unacceptable, there is no changing it, nor is there a second to debate it.

I am, however, going to take a new approach this time around. If you are in a movie theatre and you witness what I did, or any talking or cell phone usage for that matter, do something about it. Don’t be complacent. You spent money to enjoy that film, don’t let someone take it from you. Be responsible. Take action. Don’t tolerate it. Obviously an animation and some words before a movie aren’t doing anything, they haven’t for almost as long as I’ve lived and breathed movies. So step up, protect your investment and say no.

We can’t tolerate this anymore. It kills me, as a film lover and writer, to see this kind of thing happen, and it kills me even more to say that I’ll never step foot in a theatre on a weekend again. And for what? Ignorant, disrespectful people who know better.

Learn to shush.

And to Eli Roth and the rest of the cast and crew of The Last Exorcism, it seemed you have a great movie on your hands. I look forward to seeing the second half.

On a Monday night.

Posted on: August 24th, 2010 X-Comics: The Mutation Of Print Media

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With the advent of Internet, Ipads and smart-phones more and more people are looking to their computer screens to get the latest news, sports results and celebrity scandal. Looking into a recent copy of Rolling Stone magazine I came across a strange advertisement (in relation to all of the other strange adverts in said magazine) that detailed a statistic that ‘during the 12-year life of Google, magazine readership actually increased 11 percent’. The advertisement was put forward by a collection of publishers, as is indicated by the almost ransom note collection of fonts from different magazine covers in the tagline ‘Magazines: The power of Print’. That got me to thinking, in this world where we can instantly obtain news of a subject from a variety of different sources is Print Media going the way of the dinosaur?

The answer is: yes and no. With the marvels of technology in this ‘digital age’ such as the Kindle, the Ipad and even to an extent the modern Internet you can now view articles from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan to the latest song by pop star Katy Perry in crisp, clear, high definition from not only an innumerable amount of sources but in every language possible. The e-book readers even have a page flipping animation to transition between pages in an electronic short story or novel.

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To take it one step further, many of both classic works of literature and the latest novel are being translated into audio books. Don’t have the time to read the book but still want to get the story? Then just pop in the cassette/CD/MP3 into your media player and listen away. Often is the case where you will be listening to the story as read by a celebrity voice over artist as well. This isn’t really anything new, before we had the good sense to write these stories down they were recounted aloud either around a campfire or in an amphitheater. In many ways audio books take us back to those times prior to papyrus and stone carvings when hearing tales of heroics and derring-do was an event to be shared with the people around you. I can’t speak for the rest of you, but I actually find myself better immersed in the story when it’s being told rather than reading it.

It’s been said that with the advancement of technology we’ve lost these earlier forms of communication. When TV was invented they said it would ruin the radio industry (see the eerily prophetic music video ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ by the Buggles for details). Was the radio industry brought to ruin? Of course not, the radio plays of the day became the teleplays on TV later on. Radio is still alive and well, it has even made the transition to Internet Radio and even the podcast.

So that brings me back to the earlier question, will personal electronic devices bring an end to print? Many older publications such as the New York Post, the Calgary Herald or even the LA Times have seen drops in their subscription based paper readership. This is due primarily to the publishers of these ‘fish wraps’ disregarding the new medium for media as a fad and are slow to get on the bandwagon. Make no mistake my friends, personal hand-held technology is here to stay and only those that choose to ignore it’s abilities as a medium changer will fall by the wayside.

mackinac-bookstore-comics-150Newspapers may be slow to the dance, but other forms of print made the transition almost effortlessly. The comic book industry, seeing that their primary readership was heading in the direction of portable media technology, saw the need to adapt. Speaking with the app creators and programmers you can now read your favorite funny books on your Iphone, Ipad or even on your personal computer. The interactive experience has even been taken a step further with the advent of motion comics where the panels even have animations and the dialogue is voiced by voice over artists.

Has this ended the comic book industry? Not really, as I can still go to Redd Skull comics here in Calgary and still get my latest issues of Atomic Robo or the New Avengers. That being said, I can also pay for the online subscription to Marvel or DC and get the chance to read some of my favorite heroes in their earliest adventures. All in their original 4-color glory! So while I enjoy the ease of reading back issues from the likes of Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Walt Simonson online; I still get the tactile sensations of holding the print comic in my hot little hands. The smell of the ink and the crispness of opening the pages to see artwork from modern masters like David Finch or Neal Adams is a sensation that will never leave, no matter how old I get.

Print Media has seen more of an evolution and reimagining in the last ten years than in its entire history. Has it entirely gone away? Not really, while some are slow to catch up, many other aspects of the print media have made the transition to electronic mediums. The purists need not be alarmed, you will still be able to pick up your latest issue and read it to your heart’s content. For people such as myself I get the best of both worlds, I can read comic book issues from decades ago like they were brand new on my computer and I can grab the latest adventures of my favorite heroes and heroines in print form as well.

As long as print continues to move along side new technology it will never go away entirely. Now if you’ll excuse me I have some comic books to pick up.

Stay epic my friends!

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