Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hurm, it's a mystery, Charlie Brown: Why are there two Watchmen/Peanuts mash-ups?

As the release of the Watchmen movie approaches, here are two different Watchmen/Charlie Brown mash-ups I just recently discovered on the Web.

'Who Watches the Watchnuts' by Jeff Parker
I would have added Silhouette Peppermint Patty to the team portrait.

Dr. Manhattan is thinking 'Good grief!' in Evan Shaner's recently recolored Watchmen/Charlie Brown mash-up.
Nineteen years after writer/artist Jeff Parker drew the clever "Who Watches the Watchnuts" spoof for a 1989 issue of the now-defunct Comics Scene magazine, cartoonist Evan Shaner created a similar mash-up. It turns out Shaner wasn't aware of Parker's earlier cartoon (he was only four years old when the issue came out). While Shaner's mash-up is also amusing, the Van Pelt siblings as the Comedian and Silk Spectre is an image I'd rather not think about. Ewwww.

[Via Parkerspace]

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Black List: Neal Evans ought to do more scores

Neal Evans of Soulive
While checking out Vol. 2 of the excellent Elvis Mitchell/Timothy Greenfield-Sanders documentary series The Black List, which premiered on HBO last night, I really dug the wall-to-wall yet laid-back and pitch-perfect score by Soulive keyboardist and first-time scorer Neal Evans. The series' cool main/end title theme can be streamed on Evans' MySpace. (There was a lot of terrific original scoring on the tube last night. Besides Evans' Black List score--which is as multifaceted as the range of different black experiences that are captured in the doc--I also enjoyed Jeff Richmond's tinkly "hunting for Liz's boobies picture" theme for piano and flute during the latest 30 Rock.)

The Black List: Vol. 2 interviewees Laurence Fishburne, RZA and Maya RudolphFormer UC Santa Cruz students like myself will get a kick out of The Black List: Vol. 2 because two of the interviewees are from UCSC's past (Angela Davis was a longtime History of Consciousness professor there, and ex-SNLer Maya Rudolph graduated from the Porter part of campus and majored in photography). Also, there are a couple of film music-related bits in Vol. 2 that are noteworthy (no pun intended). Melvin Van Peebles briefly recalls working on the Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song soundtrack with a then-unknown-and-starving band--Earth, Wind & Fire--and in my favorite Vol. 2 segment, Ghost Dog and Afro Samurai composer RZA discusses how he found empowerment through chess tournaments, martial arts flicks like The 36th Chamber of Shaolin ("The Asian history was remarkable and special... That brotherhood right there helped me spawn the brotherhood of the Wu-Tang Clan") and Silver Surfer comics.

Rizz's admiration of Norrin Radd is similar to how many of us Asian American writers and artists have felt empowered through the comics medium, whether it's reading comics about heroes with AA-like experiences and identifying with those characters--even though they're of a different color--or creating comics with actual AA characters like the tales in the Secret Identities anthology (see how I tied it back to Secret Identities? April 14 in stores everywhere). His story about Wu-Tang fans who have asked him during his college lectures why he's not keeping it real and why he's trying to ditch the hood is heartbreaking. Who'd have thought RZA's segment would be the most introspective and moving part of the doc?

WonderCon! Fighting evil as it comes!

I'm attending this weekend's WonderCon, where the lead actors from Chuck and Sit Down, Shut Up (Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz's upcoming animated sitcom) will plug their shows and attempt to make sense of strange and awkward questions from creepy fans and microphone hogs. In San Francisco, you know it's WonderCon time when you see Stormtroopers and Sailor Moon try to cross Howard Street. The cosplayers and their cool costumes are always a highlight of any con. At WonderCon, I'll be going as an unemployed loser who's trying to jumpstart his scriptwriting career.

Wonder Woman cosplay at WonderCon 2007, by Team Misaki Studios
Above is a snapshot of a hot cosplayer at the 2007 WonderCon, which is the first--and last--WonderCon I attended. The Team Misaki Studios site snapped this photo of Wonder Woman doing the "up yours" gesture or blocking bullets or something. WonderCon '09 will feature the West Coast premiere of next week's DVD release of the badass Wonder Woman animated movie, which I saw at the New York Comic Con and briefly praised here.

I'm looking forward to the Star Trek and Ed Brubaker panels and the overpriced Costco-quality pizza.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My least favorite current screenwriting cliché is...

...contrived Hot Pocket sight gags--like when a character cooks it without the sleeve, just so we can be treated to a weak gag in which the character drops it 'cause it's hot. Who the hell nukes it without the sleeve? Oh yeah, that's right, only characters in TV shows and movies do.

Yo scriptwriters, if you can't even get that little detail right, leave the Hot Pocket humor to Jim Gaffigan, alright?

If the spinal tumor won't kill Ben Linus, then maybe getting hit with a nasty Hot Pocket will.
Recent offenders: The otherwise solid Lost season premiere and Leverage's otherwise good "Mile High Job" episode.

AFOS: "Bottomless Party" playlist

Airing this week on the Fistful of Soundtracks channel is the 2008 Fistful of Soundtracks: The Series episode "Bottomless Party" (WEB95), in which I compiled my favorite selections from comedic film and TV scores. jim.aquino.com is no longer online, as are all the pre-WEB97 playlists I posted on that site, so I'm reposting each playlist as each pre-WEB97 ep reairs.

Is that what they're calling testicles now? 'Hounds'?
1. George S. Clinton, "The Merkin Medley," Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Lakeshore
2. George S. Clinton, "Soul Bossa Nova" (from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me), Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery & The Spy Who Shagged Me: Original Motion Picture Scores, RCA Victor
3. Hans Zimmer, "Release the Hounds," The Simpsons Movie, Extreme Music
4. Craig Wedren, "Stella Theme," www.craigwedren.com
5. John Barry, "Main Title," The Knack... And How to Get It, Rykodisc
6. Henry Mancini, "Party Poop," The Party, RCA
7. Henry Mancini, "A Shot in the Dark," Trail of the Pink Panther, EMI-Manhattan
8. Quincy Jones, "Main Title," The Hot Rock, Prophesy
9. John Morris, "Titles (Main Title and Credits)," The Producers, Razor & Tie
10. Kid 'n Play, "Kid vs. Play (The Battle)," House Party, Motown
11. Michael Giacchino, "The Glory Days," The Incredibles, Walt Disney
12. Michael Giacchino, "100 Mile Dash," The Incredibles, Walt Disney
13. Elmer Bernstein, "Stripes March," Stripes, Varèse Sarabande
14. Elmer Bernstein, "I Respect You," Ghostbusters: Original Motion Picture Score, Varèse Sarabande
15. Shary Bobbins, Bart, Lisa, Wiggum, Apu, Homer & Marge, "Cut Every Corner," Go Simpsonic with the Simpsons, Rhino
16. Saddam Hussein, "I Can Change," South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Atlantic
17. Theodore Shapiro and Craig Wedren, "Higher and Higher" (from Wet Hot American Summer), www.craigwedren.com
18. Lyle Workman, "SuperWhat?," Superbad, Lakeshore
19. Michael Giacchino, "End Creditouilles," Ratatouille, Walt Disney

Repeats of A Fistful of Soundtracks: The Series air Monday night at midnight, Tuesday and Thursday at 4am, 10am, 3pm, 7pm and 11pm, Wednesday night at midnight, and Saturday and Sunday at 7am, 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Late Night with Conan O'Brien (1993-2009)

Clash of the titans
I remember first becoming a fan of Late Night with Conan O'Brien--despite its tired gags about docile Asian (or rather, gaysian) male hookers--back when Conan and Andy did a clever series of shows called "Time Travel Week," and during a reenactment of a Civil War battle on Civil War Night, they brought out ultra-frail Civil War veteran Carl "Oldy" Olsen (a character who was retired in 1998 after the actor who played him died). That's how old of a Conan viewer I am.

Everyone's chiming in with their favorite memories of Conan's Late Night run (the Masturbating Bear, Triumph at the Attack of the Clones line, the Walker, Texas Ranger Lever, the writers' strike shows), and sure, those are all amusing moments, but I'm more fond of the weirder, lesser-known bits that haven't been featured in any of the clip montages that Conan has shown during his final Late Night week, like "Time Travel Week" and the following:

- The Hunky Newcomer, an O.C.-ish intern who squints his eyes and pouts to the accompaniment of Simple Plan's "Welcome to My Life."

- Conan experiments with having an all-kid studio audience for an entire show. Whenever the testy six- to eight-year-olds express their boredom with guests Dave Foley and Myron Kandel from CNN, Conan either brings out the Boredom Monster to entertain the kids or gets the CNN financial expert to stand up and do the Chicken Dance.

- "Max on Max," a porno video of a naked Max Weinberg humping a naked Max Weinberg.

- A lengthy parody of Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same and its dream sequences, in which the pale Late Night host proceeds to blind viewers' eyes by unbuttoning his shirt and imitating Robert Plant.

- Conan and Andy can barely keep their composure while a robot shits into a toilet during one of their "Staring Contests."

- Conan realizes the stupidity of his campaign for a 10th anniversary rerelease of Dirty Dancing after he plays back Jennifer Grey and Jerry Orbach's unintentionally funny crying scene (which Conan later reenacted with Orbach when he guested on the show).

- The search for Grady from Sanford & Son.

- Andy's little sister Stacy, who's obsessed with Conan. (She was played by a pre-SNL Amy Poehler.)

- The audience's horrified responses to Mick Jagger and Uma Thurman's "If They Mated" baby. The kid has such a disgusting-looking face it makes the V lizard baby look adorable.

That's also Conan's pud-pulling face.
- Years before Conan found comedy gold in the immensely popular Walker Lever, Polly the NBC Peacock shows Conan a clip of a badly aging Chuck Norris as part of a jab at craggy old CBS. The elderly Norris impersonator's fighting moves are priceless.

- Wrist Hulk.

- After a sketch in which Superman flies home to find Lois Lane in bed with her lesbian lover and he starts to masturbate, the camera cuts back to the actor who's playing Superman. He's still rubbing his chest long after the sketch ended, and a mock-disgusted Conan runs over to stop him.

- Conan and Andy watch a clip of the new Ninja Turtles ripoff Embryonic Rockabilly Polka-Dotted Fighter Pilots.



- Conan shows a blooper montage of Mr. T cracking up during the taping of a classic remote in which they went on an apple-picking field trip. T's pig-snort laugh is so bizarre and hilarious that viewers ask Conan to air the blooper montage again.

- The day after a fire chases Late Night out of Studio 6A, Conan tapes an entire show outside the building, near the Rockefeller Center skating rink. Left without a clip to plug guest Samuel L. Jackson's The Long Kiss Goodnight, Conan has to rely instead on a flipbook of the scene they were going to show. Then when people walk onto the makeshift set without realizing Conan and Andy are taping, Conan says, "It doesn't get any crappier than this."

- Though a 2003 New York blackout forces 30 Rock to turn to reserve power, Conan and announcer Joel Godard attempt to do the show with only flashlights to light the studio. But after about 15 minutes, they give up, turn off their flashlights and cut to a rerun.

- A forgotten uncomfortable moment, and it's not exactly funny or a favorite moment, but it's interesting because it shows how closely tied Conan is to SNL, which gave him his big break as a TV writer: in 1998, he asked Chris Rock about his upcoming projects, and Rock joked, "I'll be in Lethal Weapon 4, starring Brynn Hartman." Then the audience booed. (Brynn Hartman was Phil Hartman's wife. She killed her husband and then herself a few months before Rock made the joke.) Conan tried to defuse the situation by saying, "It's okay. We knew them. We can joke about it."

- "Clutch Cargo" Bob Dole (voiced by Robert Smigel) longs for his previous life as a pirate: "Oh, how I miss Squawky."

Oh, how I miss Late Night with Conan O'Brien already.

Hurley's a Y: The Last Man fan!

I wonder what will be the next DC comic that we'll see Hurley read. Because of the recurring sight gags involving rabbits, I bet Hurley will be leafing through Spanish Captain Carrot.
My favorite in-joke on the most recent Lost episode--besides the rabbit cameo during the retirement home sequence, clearly a reference to the DHARMA Initiative lab rabbits--was Hugo Reyes' choice of reading material at the airport. Dude was checking out the Spanish-language edition of Vertigo's Y: The Last Man, Vol. 3: One Small Step TPB. One of my favorite comic titles of all time, Y, which ended its run last year, also happened to have been created by Lost staff writer and co-producer Brian K. Vaughan.

This isn't our first peek into Hurley's comic collection. Back in the first season, Walt leafed through Hugo's copy of the Spanish edition of Green Lantern/Flash: Faster Friends #1. (Then a couple of seasons later, in an episode that BKV scripted, Hugo and Charlie got embroiled in a debate about Superman and the Flash.)

Because Y is back in the spotlight thanks to "316" episode co-writers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse's little shout-out(*) to their colleague, I'm cross-posting "Y: The last issue," a piece I wrote for another blog last year (January 30, 2008, to be exact). Some things have changed since I wrote that post: I was critical of Torchwood, but that show has improved since then, and Eagle Eye director D.J. Caruso now wants to split his planned adaptation of Y into three movies.

(*) Is Hurley's Y TPB also a foreshadowing of future events on the island? The Y issues that were collected in that TPB involved the crash-landing of a team of cosmonauts who were in space while almost all of Earth's male population perished. The sole survivor of the crash was a pregnant female cosmonaut. The Oceanic Six Five has returned to the island in similar fashion, and many fans suspect that Kate, who had hate sex with Jack before the Ajira flight, is prego.

---------------

BKV gets all meta.
Y: The last issue

It's a sad week for comics. The brilliant and addictive Vertigo series Y: The Last Man is wrapping up its five-year run this week with its 60th and final issue. Written by Brian K. Vaughan (whom I met at WonderCon last year--he's a nice guy and he gave me some good advice about comics scriptwriting) and pencilled by the underrated artist Pia Guerra, Y is the saga of Yorick Brown, a twentysomething slacker who embarks on a globehopping journey to find his missing girlfriend and to find out why he survived a mysterious plague that killed all the men on Earth. In 2003, the superb writing in then-new titles like Y, Gotham Central and Sleeper reignited my love for comics after a low creative ebb during the '90s drew me away. (I stopped buying comics in the mid-'90s because I got fed up with the fugly-looking "enhanced" covers, the inane costume changes and the unwieldy crossover events--all '90s Marvel and DC gimmicks to boost flagging sales.)

What does any of this have to do with TV or film? If Y were a TV show, it would have been the best mythology show on the air. (It's because Vaughan didn't have network execs meddling in his vision or forcing him to keep his series going for another few years. Aw, the creative freedom a comics creator gets to enjoy when he owns the rights to his project and answers to no one.) Maybe the writers from inconsistent and unfocused mythology shows like Heroes should start taking notes from Vaughan's comic about how to build an intricate mythology and keep it from falling apart or how to do any of the following:

Unlike Lost, no ill-conceived, one-dimensional Nikkis and Paulos have ever been awkwardly added to Y's large, predominantly female cast. Every character in Y has been richly drawn, from 355, the world-weary, kickass African American government agent (and knitting aficionado!) assigned to protect Yorick, to Dr. Allison Mann, the surly Asian American lesbian biochemist who must unravel the mystery of the plague, to Col. Alter Tse'elon, the driven and enigmatic Israeli soldier who wants to capture Yorick as part of a plot to repopulate Israel. No character is overlooked. Even Yorick's pet monkey, Ampersand--the only other male survivor of the plague--was given his own flashback issue.

Unlike Heroes or 24, Vaughan's post-apocalyptic series has never taken itself too seriously, despite its exploration of gender politics. (Vaughan once said in an interview that "the level of discussion [of gender issues in comics] was never very sophisticated. If written by men, they were either this gross sex fantasy or, alternately, the surviving women would all go down to the U.N. building and hold hands, ending war and suffering. Both were insulting to women. I wanted to subvert the fantasy.") Speaking of attempts at subversive writing, Y is genuinely adult sci-fi, unlike Torchwood, which pats itself on the back for doing "adult sci-fi," but with the exception of the standout "Out of Time" episode, it has come off more juvenile than the show it was spun off from, the family-friendly Doctor Who. It's interesting that Y has been loaded with more T&A than Torchwood--Y wouldn't have been a Vertigo comic without them--and yet Vaughan's series is still more intelligent and grown-up than Torchwood, because of thought-provoking (but not preachy) dialogue like Dr. Mann's brief and startling discussion about how the plague fixed China's gender imbalance problem and caused the crime rates in that country to drop.

And unlike the showrunners of mythology franchises that wore out their welcome--I'm looking at you, X-Files--Vaughan set an end date for Y (as well as his other creator-owned comic, the equally enjoyable WildStorm title Ex Machina, a 50-issue saga about a disillusioned ex-superhero who becomes mayor of New York). From the start, Vaughan promised to conclude Yorick's quest after 60 issues and has stuck to that promise, so Vaughan's single-minded, Col. Alter-like devotion to reaching that end point hasn't resulted in filler storylines like Galactica's Apollo/Starbuck/Anders/Dualla love quadrangle or the repetitive Heroes-goes-El Norte arc involving Dania Ramirez's endlessly weeping character, Maya the walking Ebola virus (in Spanish, "Maya" means "basket case").

It's no wonder that Vaughan's knack for straightforward storytelling, his ear for witty dialogue and his clever but never gratuitous or pointless pop culture references (I love that Yorick is a fan of The Last Detail--his reaction when he stumbles upon a DVD of the Hal Ashby flick is priceless) landed him a spot on the writing staff of Lost last year. Vaughan co-wrote the "Catch-22" episode about Desmond's past as a monk, and of course, it was one of several highlights of Lost's third season.

Before the writers' strike caused it to slip into development limbo, Vaughan worked on the screenplay for a feature film adaptation of Y, with Disturbia director D.J. Caruso scheduled to be at the helm and Caruso's Disturbia lead Shia LaBeouf as a frontrunner for the title role. Like most other fans, I think Y is better suited for TV. It would have been perfect for HBO. But Vaughan disagrees and has said, "I never felt [that it can only be a TV series to be done correctly]. Maybe because I'm the only person who knew exactly how Y ends and I've always been able to see it as something with a three-act structure--something with a clear beginning, middle and end."

Despite Vaughan's involvement in the Y feature film--he said the feature is an opportunity to improve on material that he felt he bungled in the comic's first few issues--the film can't avoid paling to the original comic. For two hours, the feature will likely be a globetrotting action thriller elevated by sharp dialogue about gender roles and amusing pop culture references. For 59 awesome issues, the comic has been a globetrotting action thriller, a thoughtful exploration of gender issues, a satirical critique of sexism in the comics industry, an all-girl gang flick, a simian slapstick comedy, a medical drama, a floor wax, a dessert topping...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

AFOS: "Galloping Around the Cosmos" playlist

Airing this week on the Fistful of Soundtracks channel is the 2008 Fistful of Soundtracks: The Series episode "Galloping Around the Cosmos" (WEB94), which focuses on the music from the original series era of the Star Trek feature films. J.J. Abrams' new Trek film is being scored by frequent Abrams collaborator Michael Giacchino, whose scoring sessions were captured by ScoringSessions.com with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

I'll take 'Things That Make a Commitmentphobe Run the Fuck Away' for $200, Alex.
1. Jerry Goldsmith, "Ilia's Theme," Star Trek: The Motion Picture: 20th Anniversary Collector's Edition, Columbia/Legacy
2. Jerry Goldsmith, "Main Title/Klingon Battle," Star Trek: The Motion Picture: 20th Anniversary Collector's Edition, Columbia/Legacy
3. James Horner, "Genesis Countdown," Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, GNP/Crescendo
4. James Horner, "Epilogue/End Title," Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, GNP/Crescendo
5. Leonard Rosenman, "Chekov's Run," Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, MCA
6. Leonard Rosenman, "Home Again: End Credits," Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, MCA
7. Ray Heindorf & the Warner Bros. Studio Orchestra, "Main Title" (from East of Eden), A Tribute to James Dean, Sony Classical
8. Cliff Eidelman, "Sign Off," Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, MCA
9. Cliff Eidelman, "Star Trek VI Suite," Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, MCA

Repeats of A Fistful of Soundtracks: The Series air Monday night at midnight, Tuesday and Thursday at 4am, 10am, 3pm, 7pm and 11pm, Wednesday night at midnight, and Saturday and Sunday at 7am, 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

AFOS: "All This Has Happened Before" playlist

Airing this week on the Fistful of Soundtracks channel is the 2008 Fistful of Soundtracks: The Series episode "All This Has Happened Before" (WEB93), which features the most memorable season finale cues from Battlestar Galactica, as well as selections from scores to other remakes that outstripped their predecessors like Galactica has (Casino Royale, Buffy). jim.aquino.com is no longer online, as are all the pre-WEB97 playlists I posted there, so I'm reposting each playlist as each pre-WEB97 ep reairs.

Don't look for it, Colonial Fleet. You may not like what you find.
1. Bear McCreary, "Passacaglia," Battlestar Galactica: Season One, La-La Land
2. David Arnold, "Blunt Instrument," Casino Royale, Sony Classical
3. David Holmes, "Boobytrapping," Ocean's Eleven, Warner Sunset/Warner Bros.
4. Christophe Beck, "Suite from 'Hush': Silent Night/First Kiss/Enter the Gentlemen/Schism," Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More, With Feeling, Rounder
5. Bear McCreary, "Prelude to War," Battlestar Galactica: Season 2, La-La Land
6. Kronos Quartet, "Heat," Heat, Warner Bros.
7. Bear McCreary, "Something Dark Is Coming," Battlestar Galactica: Season 2, La-La Land
8. Marco Beltrami, "Bible Study," 3:10 to Yuma, Lionsgate
9. Bear McCreary featuring Bt4, "All Along the Watchtower," Battlestar Galactica: Season 3, La-La Land

Repeats of A Fistful of Soundtracks: The Series air Monday night at midnight, Tuesday and Thursday at 4am, 10am, 3pm, 7pm and 11pm, Wednesday night at midnight, and Saturday and Sunday at 7am, 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.

Asian American Superman and Wonder Woman

Get us out from under, Asian Wonder Woman!
Now that's more like it. That's exactly what I saw (and failed to photograph) outside the NYCC Exhibit Hall right after I posed for photos at the Secret Identities panel. After we've seen the quarter-Japanese Dean Cain play Superman for four seasons of Lois & Clark and the half-Chinese Olivia Munn suit up as Wonder Whoa-man! in one of her most memorable Attack of the Show sketches, I love that we finally get a full-blooded Asian Superman and a full-blooded Asian WW.

Damn, Asian WW is fine. And the Supe is rocking a cool replica of Cain's shiny version of the iconic suit. The armpit sweat stains must be a shout-out to Christopher Reeve's pit stains during his Superman: The Movie screen tests.

(Speaking of WW, last Friday, I caught an early NYCC screening of the Bruce Timm-produced Wonder Woman, which reunites Keri Russell with her Waitress co-star Nathan Fillion. Thanks to sharp and witty dialogue reminiscent of the writing on Justice League Unlimited, the involvement of current WW comics scriptwriter Gail Simone and rousing battle sequences that really look impressive on a big screen, director Lauren Montgomery's WW is easily the strongest of the four straight-to-DVD DC Universe animated movies so far. This new WW did the impossible: it actually made Steve Trevor interesting.)

[Via channelAPA]

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology at NYCC

A partial shot of the Secret Identities crew. Photo courtesy of Keith Chow.
NYCC's Secret Identities panel on Saturday was an exciting moment for myself and everyone else at the con who was involved in the New Press graphic novel of the same name. Secret Identities editors Keith Chow and Jeff Yang, whom I'm standing behind in the above pic (Jeff's the one who's holding a not-quite-final copy of the novel), unveiled the official trailer for the novel and discussed the project at the panel, which kicked off a Secret Identities promotional tour. The novel will hit stores in mid-April and contain my comic book scriptwriting debut, "Sampler."

The standing-room-only crowd delighted us, but I was even more jazzed about how the audience consisted of readers of all races who are interested in our novel. That's a great sign. It means we've been doing something right. We created these stories for everyone to enjoy.

Like the creators of the Harold & Kumar flicks (yeah, those guys are white, but they understand what us Asian Americans have been going through), I wrote about a protagonist who happens to be Asian American, and I tried not to delve into identity politics too much, which is what a lot of pre-Harold & Kumar movies about young AAs would do as a response to past one-dimensional portrayals of AAs on the screen (and sometimes these films would counter that problem not very effectively or not very subtly). But at the same time, I wanted to insert little moments into "Sampler" in which the title heroine recognizes there's racism out there and she responds to it either with humor (she wears an "I suck at math" T-shirt) or--because this is the superhero genre--mucho bitchslapping.

Here I am sitting in the audience, talking to another Secret Identities contributor, Secret Asian Man creator Tak Toyoshima, before the beginning of the panel:

The audience at NYCC's Secret Identities panel. Photo courtesy of Keith Chow.
It was awesome to finally meet Tak, whose strip I've read for years. Tak's contribution to Secret Identities is an interstitial Q&A with legendary G.I. Joe and Wolverine comics writer Larry Hama.

Tak Toyoshima and Jimmy Aquino. Photo by Aquino.
Right after the Secret Identities panel, Tak and I saw an Asian guy in a Superman costume and an Asian woman in a Wonder Woman outfit posing for photos together--an amusing epilogue to the panel. I was disappointed that my camcorder somehow deleted my footage of Asian Supes and Asian WW. Apparently my camera's racist and it hates Asian superheroes.

I found a pic of the Supe posing with Jeff and Keith (Asian Supes' other identity is Bryan Nguyen)...

Jeff Yang, Asian Superman and Keith Chow. Photo courtesy of Chow.
... but I'm still looking for a shot of Asian Supes' scantily clad sidekick.

Jimmy Aquino and Greg Pak. Photo by Aquino.
At my left is multitalented Incredible Hercules writer and Robot Stories director Greg Pak, who scripted "The Citizen" for Secret Identities.

Anne Ishii and Jimmy Aquino. Photo by Aquino.
At my right is Giant Robot's Anne Ishii, who moderated the Secret Identities panel and is the first person to tell me she dug "Sampler." Later, Anne and I were stunned to discover we both were Banana Slugs who attended Uncle Charlie's Summer Camp at about the same time (we never crossed paths during our years at UCSC).

A full shot of the Secret Identities crew. Photo courtesy of Keith Chow.
A full shot of the Secret Identities crew after the panel discussion. Back row, left to right: Anne, moi, Greg, Ken Wong (writer of "Justified"), Jonathan Tsuei (writer of "9066"), Tak, Bernard Chang (illustrator of "The Citizen"), Larry Hama. Front row, left to right: Keith, Jeff, Sarah Sapang (illustrator of "16 Miles"), Jef Castro (illustrator of "Peril"), Alexander Tarampi (illustrator of "Gaman").

The Joker and the Monarch. Photo by Jimmy Aquino.
A Joker/Monarch team-up would rock a nerd's world.

The two Jimmy Aquinos at NYCC

Let the 'universe will implode' jokes begin. Photo courtesy of Comic News Insider's Jimmy Aquino.
This is like one of those Doctor Who episodes where the Doctor meets another incarnation of himself.

At NYCC over the weekend, I finally met Comic News Insider podcaster Jimmy Aquino, who interviewed me about Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology, A Fistful of Soundtracks and the fact that we share the same name. At one point on his blog, he joked that I'm the Earth-2 Jimmy Aquino (heh!).

CNI will post the interview soon. Also on this very special episode of CNI, Blossom gets her period.

The interview marked both the first time I've ever been interviewed by a podcaster and the first time I've been given the opportunity to plug Secret Identities and "Sampler" in an interview. Props to CNI's Jimmy for giving Secret Identities some coverage on his podcast.

Right after we recorded the interview, I showed Jimmy one of my baby pictures because I once rocked the long hair like Jimmy does now:

Is this baby the Jimmy Aquino from AFOS or the Jimmy Aquino from Comic News Insider? If you thought it was Jimmy from CNI, you're actually incorrect. Yep, the baby is me. For some reason, I was rocking the Samson/Michael Landon/Sung Kang look back in the day.
Later on, I had fun kicking it with an exhausted-sounding Jimmy(*) and his friends at Phonogram artist Jamie McKelvie's party at the Nolita dive Botanica, a joint that reminds me of the Red Room from my Santa Cruz days. That night, I overheard cute or gutsy karaoke renditions of tunes ranging from "Punk Rock Girl" to "Wanted Dead or Alive." The night was also scored by the worst mangling of "Bohemian Rhapsody" I've ever heard (it sounded like it was being sung by Christian "Mr. Sunshine" Bale in his Batman voice).

I got to meet THE BEAT's Heidi MacDonald, who has helped plug our Secret Identities novel on her blog (thanks, Heidi!). I was disappointed that I wasn't able to attend NYCC's Chuck panel and say hello to another favorite blogger of mine, Chuck panel moderator Alan Sepinwall, so meeting Heidi, whose blog I also read everyday, made up for that.

Despite a scratchy, under-the-weather voice that made her sound like a Bouvier sister (or me when I was 13), Heidi chatted with me about topics ranging from the clever British educational filmstrip spoof Look Around You to the Stephen Chow flicks Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle (she said Chow knows how to write for an ensemble cast, and then I told her that's why those two Chow films are superior to Bryan Singer's X-Men installments as superhero flicks--Singer and the X-Men screenwriters weren't as good at writing for an ensemble).

(*) I hope Jimmy's voice has recovered in time for his podcast because I've occasionally had to record my voice when it was really shot, and it's no picnic.

My next post will contain pics of me at NYCC's Secret Identities panel.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

NYCC bound

Empire State Building
From February 5 through 8, I'll be making my first visit to the New York Comic Con to get interviewed by the Comic News Insider folks and to meet other comics writers, as well as artists who are way better at this drawing thing than I am.

This will be my first trip to NYC since 2005. On my old jim.aquino.com site, I posted a gallery of snapshots I took of Manhattan when I hung around there in '05. Because jim.aquino.com is no longer on the Web, I'm reposting some of my favorite shots from my NYC photo gallery, as well as the original gallery text, which is in italics.

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From 2005:

I flew to New York in early October for a long-overdue break from work and radio projects. During my brief trip, I enjoyed my first-ever egg cream (do believe the hype) and checked out both the first annual New York Television Festival in Chelsea and a screening of the controversial Korean movie The President's Last Bang at the New York Film Festival (a terrific film--my favorite politically charged dark comedy since Three Kings). I would love to live in New York someday. It's my kind of town. I wonder if there are any Fistful fans in NYC. If you're a New Yorker who tunes in, next time I'm in town, holla at me. However, I'm an Internet radio show host, and we're not quite known for having recognizable faces, so hollering at me can be kind of tricky.

East River
The East River, where hundreds of disobedient Mafiosos are dumped each year.

A closeup of the Empire State Building tower
King Kong climbed this and got killed. Sixty-seven years later, that guy from Rage Against the Machine pulled a King Kong onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards, and it was his band's career that got killed.

AFOS creator Jimmy Aquino's self-portrait
Who's this handsome fella?

Times Square
Too bad I wasn't there the day those guys in Stormtrooper costumes goosestepped all over Times Square to pimp some new Star Wars PS2 game. When I saw that Times Square Stormtrooper photo online, I thought it was some archive photo from 1999 showing how Giuliani enforced his homeless policies.

NBC Astrovision
Hey, it's Robert Blake on the NBC Astrovision. And even when Baretta's face is as tiny as it is in that photo, he still creeps me out.

Gratuitous bra shot
I don't know why I like looking at this billboard. Can someone find out why?

Federal Courthouse
"In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the parasites known as the tabloid press and the jurors who'd rather not be there. These are their stories."

ODB big-up
"Shame on you when you step through to the Ol' Dirty Bastard, Brooklyn Zoo!"

Sung Tak Buddhist Temple
The Sung Tak Buddhist Temple. Wow, I didn't know BJs are that cheap in Manhattan.

30 Rock
Hey, young Meredith Baxter, easy on the cigarette. It's only a Marlboro, not Tommy Lee's cock.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

AFOS: "Funk in the Trunk" playlist

Airing this week on the Fistful of Soundtracks channel is the 2008 Fistful of Soundtracks: The Series episode "Funk in the Trunk" (WEB92). jim.aquino.com is no longer online, as are all the pre-WEB97 playlists I posted on that site, so I'm reposting each playlist as each pre-WEB97 ep reairs.

Everybody in this bitch gettin' tipsy.
1. Lyle Workman, "Flashback Party Weekend," Superbad, Lakeshore
2. Lyle Workman, "SuperWhat?," Superbad, Lakeshore
3. The Four Tops, "Are You Man Enough (End Title)," Shaft in Africa, Hip-O Select/Geffen
4. Quincy Jones with the Don Elliot Voices, "Money Runner" (from $), The Reel Quincy Jones, Hip-O
5. James Brown, "People Get Up and Drive Your Funky Soul (remix)" (originally recorded for Slaughter's Big Rip-Off), Motherlode, Polydor
6. Lalo Schifrin, "Main Titles (Alternate)," Enter the Dragon, Warner Home Video
7. Antonio Pinto, "O Polígamo," City of Men, Lakeshore
8. Lyle Workman, "Evan's Basement Jam," Superbad, Lakeshore
9. Curtis Mayfield, "Superfly," Superfly: Deluxe 25th Anniversary Edition, Curtom/Rhino
10. Gladys Knight & the Pips, "On and On" (from Claudine), Funk on Film, Chronicles/PolyGram
11. Ennio Morricone, "Allegretto Per Signora" (from The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion), Mondo Morricone Revisited, Royal Ear Force
12. David Holmes, "S***! S***! S***!," Ocean's Thirteen, Warner Sunset/Warner Bros.
13. Theodore Shapiro, "Two Dragons," Starsky & Hutch, TVT Soundtrax
14. Flight of the Conchords, "Business Time," The Distant Future, Sub Pop

Repeats of A Fistful of Soundtracks: The Series air Monday night at midnight, Tuesday and Thursday at 4am, 10am, 3pm, 7pm and 11pm, Wednesday night at midnight, and Saturday and Sunday at 7am, 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.