Thursday, July 17, 2014

How Hollywood Casts Blacks in Minor Roles That Look Bigger Than They Are

This is a trend that really kicked into gear in the 1980s and it still applies today.

If all your film's leads are white then the President, Police Chief, Mayor, whoever is in authority, will inevitably be black. This began as a response to cries that African-Americans were not being given the kind of exposure in the movies they deserved.

Studios felt they were covered, "Hey, the President was black!" even though the roles were small ones. Check it out next time you watch a movie with a predominantly caucasian cast.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How To Get Over On The Buffet - Steaks For $2.00 and Change!

I'm a light eater but I love buffets. Problem is, I eat about $3.50 worth of food and buffets are upwards of $10.00 or more. And you have to tip (although I tip half of what I normally would if I have to go get the food myself). How do I know I eat only around $3.50 worth? I started getting buffets to go and that's what the total will come to.

My point, I can't eat enough in one sitting for any buffet to be cost effective. But the buffet-to-go at Golden Corral (check your local fave) is only $5.40 at lunch, $5.70 for dinner. At 4:00 they throw 5 ounce steaks on the grill, that's around $2.30 for the steak by itself. When was the last time you paid $2.30 for a steak?

Be careful though - I've gotten steaks labeled 'medium rare' that were grey-dead-overdone and one so riddled with gristle I couldn't cut it with my sharpest knife, I had to gnaw at it like a dog—and you best believe I did. To avoid this, ask the grill master or mistress to cook one for you fresh, the way you want it. And it's nicely seasoned, with MSG no doubt, but they're very tasty at Golden Corral.

Not only that—people are taking home raw steaks at $5.79 a pound, around half the price in the grocery stores! Put it on your own grill, season to taste.

Add a salad and another item with your steak to go, that'll bring you up to around $3.50 and change. Just don't put anything in your tray that sells for less than $5.70. No bread, mashed potatoes, heavy deserts. Chicken wings come in around $0.70 apiece, not a great deal but okay; get the ones with the most meat, I've found the skin on their wings to be thick and inedible. The spinach mozzarella pizza doesn't weigh very much, delicious, filling, reheats nicely.

I like liver every once in a blue moon but GC's is horrible. The spring rolls are alright, frozen I'm guessing, but they're lightweight. Pork barbeque, when they have it, is another good buy. I'm guessing ribs aren't the best deal, like wings you're paying for the bones you aren't going to eat—then again, rib meat can be pricey.

Don't forget to be nice, the manager knows damn well you're getting over on them.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Remembering Writer Pierce Askegren

Every once in a while I'll Google someone from the distant past, all too often I find they've died. That was the case for Pierce Askegren. I met him at Mendenhall Junior High the year he lived in Greensboro, NC. He was a year older than my friend John Hitchcock and I, read comics as we did, and was really into sci-fi. So we had that in common. He was very creative and extremely intelligent.

The one incident at Mendenhall I recall most was the time Coach Loflin made him run around the building for some dumb thing or another, maybe skipping gym class for an appointment, when he got back Pierce was having a full blown asthma attack and the coach was red-faced with embarrassment.

After Greensboro he moved to Northern Virginia and we kept in touch, at least until I moved to California in 1979. Pierce graduated from James Madison University that year and began writing stories for Warren Publications along with paperback novelizations of the Marvel heroes. He even gave a minor character my name in a story he wrote for 'Creepy' magazine ("Hell's Playground", illustrated by Leo Duranona in Creepy 108) and was a big fan of the comic strips I was writing & drawing.

He also penned reviews for 'The Comics Journal.' It was a critical review of 'The Illustrated Harlan Ellison' in 1980 that drew the ire of the famous science fiction writer, leading to an extended interview for that magazine where Ellison disemboweled Pierce in print, really tore into him. It was brutal, if you've ever read Harlan Ellison rant over some injustice or other you know what I mean, he takes insults to a whole new level. He's an artist that way.

By that point I'd lost touch with Pierce, I'm not sure how that public evisceration affected him but I know he stopped writing for publication. Being the kind of guy who was bullied at school I imagine Ellison's barbs stung pretty badly.

Now I know, thanks to Wikipedia and other sources, that as a youngster Pierce took part in his parents high-wire circus act until an accident ended that career for him at age 11. That would have been just a few years before we met.

After 1980 he became a technical writer, returning to comics in the mid-1990s, once again writing prose short stories for anthologies starring Marvel Comics characters, beginning with "The Broken Land" in The Ultimate Silver Surfer. A friend and collaborator wrote: "Pierce sent along a wonderful story for 'The Ultimate Silver Surfer.' I was impressed with his knowledge of obscure Marvel trivia, his excellent characterizations, and his fine writing style. I also got along with him personally, as dealing with him I quickly learned he had an amazing sense of humor."

Besides the Marvel books he also wrote TV show adaptations for 'Alias' and 'Angel.'

Wiki: "Outside the realm of licensed properties, he wrote the "Inconstant Moon" trilogy of science-fiction novels, about corporate colonies on the moon: Human Resource (2005), Fall Girl (2005) and Exit Strategy. His last short story, "Try and Try Again," appeared in the anthology Time Twisters, released posthumously in January 2007..[1] In 2010, his Buffy the Vampire Slayer novelization, After Image (2006), was rereleased, along with two other Buffy books.

"Askegren was found dead in his Annandale, Virginia, apartment on November 29, 2006, after suffering a heart attack on an unreported date." He was 51.

Pierce was a warm, funny, curious, loyal, and talented writer. I know he must be dearly missed by his friends and family.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Marvel Canceling Their Fantastic Four Comics - Why?

Marvel is on a box office roll but, because the Fantastic Four movie franchise belongs to 20th Century Fox (as long as they have plans to make more), the comic book giant is canceling both Fantastic Four titles they currently publish and said in a statement,  “All Marvel characters related to Fantastic Four are now off limits and will be immediately rejected by Marvel.”

This is an attempt to de-value the property in hopes that Fox's next FF reboot will fail and the property will revert to Marvel's studio. So as the comic company celebrates their 75th anniversary they'll be doing so without the characters that launched a four color revolution in the 1960s.

Somehow Marvel’s Executive Editor Tom Brevoort only made things more confusing by saying on Monday: “We are publishing Fantastic Four. Next month, we will be publishing Fantastic Four. A year from now, assuming that it’s still selling well, we will be publishing Fantastic Four. Given enough time, anything can happen—we went a couple of years, for example, without a Thor series, as well as a year and a half with FF, Avengers, Cap[tain America] and Iron Man not being a part of the Marvel Universe. So anything can happen. But it probably won’t."

“In the lifespan of the universe? Yes, at some point. Everything dies. But not this week.”