KEVIN GEEKS OUT ABOUT GENRE BUSTERS - recap and bonus material

Thanks everybody who came to last week's show, KEVIN GEEKS OUT ABOUT GENRE BUSTERS.  The 92Y Tribeca hosted us in "the big room" and we got a wonderful audience on a cold, wet Wednesday night.

We had a delightful evening with some authors who bring the A-game to disrespected genres.
First up, Ben H. Winters talked about being recruited to write Quirk book's follow-up to someone else's mash-up novel PRIDE & PREJUDICE & ZOMBIES, explaining how he was chosen for the job and what it took to make SENSE & SENSIBILITY & SEA MONSTERS.  When faced with the task of writing a second mash-up novel, Ben realized it wouldn't work if he was revisiting authors who are already funny (say, Charles Dickens), so he chose a man with no sense of humor at all: Tolstoy.  And that led to the science-fiction, robot and UFO masterpiece ANDROID KARENENA  Ben came all the way in from Boston and he did not disappoint!  Follow him online here.


Who owns "They Live"? : a half-assed essay

Author Jonathan Lethem has a boner for the movie They Live (1988).  So much so that he's just written a book about it.  And this week he's hosting a screening of the film, followed by a conversation with John Hodgman. 

It's curious that over 20 years after its release, this B-movie movie has gotten the attention of academic-types.  They Live is an excellent combination of form and content: if you want to make a message-movie for blue-collar audiences (about how they're being systematically screwed) make a sci-fi action movie starring a professional wrestler.  But if you attend Lethem's screening at the  Greenwich Village IFC theater, do you expect the audience to be made up of "haves" or "have-nots"?

John Carpenter's They Live has something in common with George Romero's Dawn of the Dead (1978): both feature bit characters that reflect the bearded Lefty intellectuals (they're not wearing leather-elbow patches, but they might as well be.)  In both cases, these talky apparitions appear mostly in TV screens (as if they exist inside the television and not in the same world as the characters, the same way some would criticize academics who live inside the Ivory Tower.) Their ideological ramblings are fragmented throughout each film.  In They Live, a character listed as "bearded man" hacks into network television signals and gives a direct-address about how "They" have created a repressive society that's turning "us" into livestock  (watch a clip here, from 2:01 - 3:55)  Dawn of the Dead's nameless, bearded "TV Commentator" insists on the need for logical behavior, and then calls the studio audience "dummies!" (watch a clip here)


My video series, OLD PEOPLE NEWS: The Tech Report

Remember my video OLD PEOPLE NEWS ?  Comedy Central and Atom.com liked it so much, they wanted more.  Here are the 8 new episodes -- our news team is back and older than ever, with THE TECH REPORT. 

see 7 more after the break....


The trouble with Superman II: The Richard Donner cut

This past week I finally saw SUPERMAN II: The Richard Donner Cut.   Donner directed the first Superman (1978) as well as The Goonies and Lethal Weapon.  During the making of Superman II he was famously fired and replaced by Richard Lester.

I won't list all the differences between the two films, but I will mention one thing that grabbed me. 

Okay, you remember the basic premise of Superman II is that Kal-El gives up his super-powers, so that he can be with Lois Lane.  

And shortly thereafter, Clark Kent and Lois Lane go to a truck stop where a mean sunuvabitch trucker whups Clark's butt.   

Later, Superman gets his powers back, saves the world, erases Lois' memory (keeping his identity a secret) and then he goes back and pounds the asshole trucker. 

In Richard Donner's cut, we get all that, but the ending is very different.  Instead of kissing Lois and erasing her memory of the past week's events, Superman flies into the sky and circles the Earth, making it turn in the opposite direction, causing time to move backwards.  Yes, the same trick he used in the first film -- only here, instead of going one hour back in time, he goes several days back in time, essentially un-doing the events of the movie.  The whole thing is very Donnie Darko. (And by now I would've expected someone to upload the sequence to YouTube complete with the "Mad World" song) It would've been funny if instead of Superman un-doing all the events, it was Richard Lester (ha ha.)  

So by the end of Richard Donner's cut, the three Kryptonian super-criminals never arrived on Earth, Lois  never learns that Clark Kent is Superman, and (presumably) the kid with the negligent parents plummets to his death in Niagra Falls. 

But here's the kicker:  Clark goes back to the truck stop and beats the hell out of the truck driver.  

Even though, by the film's logic, the truck driver never messed with Clark Kent.  Superman hurls that trucker down the countertop and smashes his head into a pinball machine.  

The truckers and wait-staff must have wondered what the hell promoted this Bernard Goetz-looking mo-fo to come in and assault a patron for NO GOOD REASON.  

As the website says, Superman is a jerk.