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Blowing the dust off: Holiday slacker pick-n-mix edition.

November 30, 2010

Oh, long-neglected little blog, how I feel guilt-ridden and angsty due to my not writing in you for such long periods of time. But, you know, real life and all of that. It’s amazing how much less productive as a blogger I am now that I have a career I love instead of a job I teeth-grittingly tolerate! So here’s some stuff that’s been catching my attention or igniting my ire while I continue to strew and brew some larger posts.

Very Mary Kate is an ongoing comedy web series from the hilarious and fertile brain of actor/writer/comedian Elaine Carroll. The show satirizes the life of the eternally tiny Mary Kate Olsen, one half of the infamous Olsen twins. In the series we see Mary Kate struggle for independence by moving out of her apartment with sister Ashley (also played by Carroll) and into an apartment directly next door. She relies heavily on her bodyguard, named Bodyguard, to make her Xanax and watermelon smoothies, feed her water from a bottle like a hamster, clean up after her many drug-induced mishaps and find her Vera Wang Snuggie because “it’s brrr in here”. (She’s always cold due to her tiny-ness. In one episode she has a fever of 74 – her normal body temperature is 62.) Each episode tops off at around 2 minutes and 30 seconds and yet any one of them could make you feel like you’re about to wet yourself laughing. Aside from her sister and Bodyguard, Mary Kate also spends time dodging the lascivious advances of Philip Seymour Hoffman, trying to date Zac Effron and attempting to bullshit her way through college with a major in ponies. New episodes generally show up every Tuesday and Thursday so check it out! You’ll be talking about how full you are from looking at pictures of food in no time.

Speaking of funny, multitalented women, Jacquetta Szathmari is a writer, actor and comedian you had best keep your eye on before she shoots into the stratosphere and becomes a huge star. Full disclosure: Jacquetta was one of my good friends back in my Sarah Lawrence College days. But trust me when I say that my love of her hilarity is totally unbiased – there is nothing more painful than having to fake interest in the bad work of a good friend. Thankfully, Szathmari makes that sort of situation totally unnecessary. Blessed with a dry delivery that would make a British comic weep with envy, Jacquetta has been slowly building up buzz and attention with her one-woman show “That’s funny. You didn’t sound black on the phone.”, which made a big splash at the 2010 Fringe Festival in Los Angeles, and her comedy podcast Hey You Know It co-hosted by Katie Kazimir. The podcast has so far covered topics as varied as politics vs. religion, supernatural occurrences, holiday hell, phobias and plastic surgery. Every episode finds Szathmari and Kazimir in the “Celebrity Corner” wherein the discuss which B, C and D-list celebrities are currently serving up the same type of work as A-list celebs at a deep discount. (E.g. Giovanni Ribisi serving Sam Rockwell at a 40% discount.) Here’s a stand-up segment Jacquetta did for the In The Flesh Reading Series’ Sex & Comedy Night. And keep watching for Szathmari, she’ll be going places.

I guess Marvel Comics must have read my letter to them and decided that, instead of trying to win back my love, they would petulantly and bald-facedly continue to push me away by rolling out the latest evidence of their evil possession by Disney by having to trot out a zillion Tron-ified variant covers for almost all of their books to dovetail with the upcoming release of Tron: Legacy. (Which I actually want to see, so this is not about bagging on the movie.) And yes I get it, these are huge corporations and they’re all about sales and marketing and yadda blah blah. But it just feels so tacky and over-the-top and off-putting. Like what the hell does Spider-Woman have to do with Tron? Nadda! Zippo! Zilch! Nunco! And Marvel could stand to lay off the variant covers in general. Does every issue really need to have 3-4 variants? It just feels desperate and a little embarrassing. Just because we’ve broken up it doesn’t mean I don’t still care about you, y’know? And I’d like to see you comport yourself with a little dignity.

In less bummerific comic news, I had the chance to sit down and read every existing issue of Echo, written and illustrated by Terry Moore, while I was on an east coast vacation. I was hesitant to read it at first because the entire series is in black and white and I thought that might make it seem uninteresting. But my friend Christopher urged me on and I ended up spending a late night devouring as many issues as I could and finishing the rest the next day. The series is absolutely spectacular and the lack of color in Moore’s artwork does nothing to detract from the complex, engaging, sometimes scary, sometimes funny story being told. The story centers around Julie, a young photographer struggling after a major breakup and trying to find her way out of personal darkness. She accidentally discovers a high-tech, government made, cyber suit that puts her at the center of a whirlwind of  government secrets, world-threatening weaponry and an ever-growing number of interconnected people who all are linked to this mysterious suit in some way or another. The story is totally breathtaking and I found myself racing through each issue to devour every detail of Julie’s story. Moore builds some fantastically human characters into this book and his artwork, colorless as it is, brings so much life to their struggles. And humor. I cannot emphasize enough that there’s some truly laugh-out-loud moments in the midst of the violence and confusion. I cannot wait for the next issue to come out and for my local comic shop to order me the existing trade paperbacks!

And, finally, a little bit late to the party but I couldn’t possibly not comment on all of the brouhaha surrounding the announcement of a reboot of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer franchise that will not include Joss Whedon, the original creator/writer/director of the film and the TV show. The Internet, naturally, burst into bright and fiery flames at the announcement of this heresy. And while I was not pleased with the notion in any way, I found myself feeling less than totally furious at the idea. I glanced lovingly at my much-adored boxed set for the BTVS series, knowing I could watch any episode of any season any damn time I wanted to. And I also reminded myself that it has become Hollywood’s goal to dig up the corpse of every piece of my pop culture past and necrophilia the besjesus out of it while I sit and watch. Or even if I don’t. And it seems Joss Whedon came to a similar conclusion when he responded to the news via email to E! Online, with the requisite Whedon humor fully intact.

This is a sad, sad reflection on our times, when people must feed off the carcasses of beloved stories from their youths—just because they can’t think of an original idea of their own, like I did with my Avengers idea that I made up myself.

Whedon further went on to skewer Hollywood’s need to remake everything that happened 5 minutes ago by saying

I can’t wish people who are passionate about my little myth ill. I can, however, take this time to announce that I’m making a Batman movie.  Because there’s a franchise that truly needs updating. So look for The Dark Knight Rises Way Earlier Than That Other One And Also More Cheaply And In Toronto, rebooting into a theater near you.
In the end, if this movie actually happens, I can at least hope it will lead today’s tweens and teens back to the original BTVS film and television series that will always hold up no matter how many times Hollywood tries to bad-touch their cadavers.
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