Adventures in the 700 Section

From about age 12 to 15, almost all of my pop culture itches were scratched at the Torrance Public Library. Where Greg Hatcher steeped himself in genre fiction, I was all about the nonfiction; the people, the history, the methods. We were both trying to escape, but while Greg was escaping into fictional worlds, I was trying to escape into a different real world, become a different person, and I knew that the tools to do that would be found almost entirely in the 700 section.

R.I.P. Jim Steinman

Songwriter Jim Steinman, best known for writing the Bat Out of Hell album for Meat Loaf, a number of hits for other singers, and a couple of musicals, died last week. He was 73 and had been ill for some time, ultimately succumbing to kidney failure. It took me a few days to figure out what to say about him. I think the best approach is to just tell my story of discovering and experiencing his work.

Atomic DIY: Build Your Own R2-D2!

One thing I think everyone who loves Star Wars has said at least once is “man, I wish I had an R2-D2!” My good friend and fellow archery coach Russell Rucker said the same thing, and then he went ahead and built one. His R2 unit is completely screen-accurate, and has appeared at a number of Star Wars events over the years. Naturally, like a whole lot of other people, I asked Russell how he built his R2. He gave me permission to share the process here.

‘Soul’ and the Transformation Trope

Pixar’s Soul was the center of a meme that circulated this summer, prior to the release of the film, which suggested that it was racist for the lead character, an African-American, to be transformed into a blue-green blob in the trailer. The author cited several films as examples of the problematic pattern. Taking a look at the trope, the cited films, and the context and messaging of each, might be in order.

“When in Doubt, Do Something.” Harry Chapin in Recent Media

Recently, our own Greg Hatcher sent me a link to a new documentary about Harry Chapin; when I mentioned that I’d seen it, he suggested a review, and when I mentioned that there are also a couple of new books out, he suggested a round-up review. See, Greg is smarter than me and he thinks of things like this. So here we go.

Of Breakfast Cereals and Cults

So I went down a rabbit-hole a while back and I ended up in a weird place. It started innocently enough, with a discussion of General Mills’ monster-themed breakfast cereals, Count Chocula, Franken Berry, and Boo Berry, but it somehow ended up with a weird Victorian-era metaphysical cult.

Pointless Fanboy Speculation: Howard the Duck

After he got his cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy, I thought that eventually Howard the Duck would get another shot at the movies. Hope burns eternal. Which brings us to Pointless Fanboy Speculation, in which I tell you how I would adapt this particular character to the MCU. Here’s the Elevator Pitch: Howard the Duck and Beverly take a “road trip” through weird middle America, which warps into a political satire when Howard is cajoled into running for President. It is, at heart, a Frank Capra movie.