Author Archive

The Sky is Falling!

Posted on December 4, 2008 by

Last week a comic book character died.

Every time the opportunity presented itself, I would say to whomever I was hanging out with, “So do you wanna know what happened in comics this week?” Every time, my friend would laugh, shrug and politely allow me to continue.

The Invisible Woman died.”

“What? Are you serious?” Genuine surprise, possibly even a bit of concern as is unavoidable when speaking of even a fictional death, would roll across each face.

For some reason, the big comic companies have decided to start killing their heroes. It’s certainly not the first time this has happened. Heroes have been dying since forever, but the concentration over the past year is, if nothing else, surprising.

Last September, Captain America died. Now the Invisible Woman.

Last week was also the end of a Batman story entitled R.I.P. Batman in which the Caped Crusader bites the big one. No one (well, by now I’m sure fans have picked up the book, Batman #681) knows whether Bruce Wayne is actually taking up residence in a coffin, or if it’s just “The Batman” who is dying, but one thing that’s for sure is that it’s leading a storyline in the new year: Battle For the Cowl. It’s a story where other characters from the Batman universe, including Nightwing, Robin, and presumably others, will battle it out to take up the mantle of the Dark Knight. More… »

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BEST FRIDAYS: with Faith Erin Hicks

Posted on November 28, 2008 by

What’s Worst Mondays without a dark and villainous foil? That’s the kind of thinking that forced us to create Best Fridays. So for all our weekend warrior brethren: Wooooo, T-G-I-F, right? Herein we hope to bookend your awful week by quizzing our previous Worst Mondays candidate about slightly more encouraging things. Every Friday!

When we were looking for an image to toss on this little guy, we found this. If you need further proof that Hicks’ Zombies Calling is awesome, the proof is in the pudding/baked goods. Oh boy that was brutal. Enjoy!

Best injury
I was bitten by a dog as a child. Six stitches across my upper lip. I was very proud of those stitches, and was sad to see them go.

Best historical figure
Laika, the dog shot into space. When I was a kid I had a picture book about her that I really enjoyed. And then I grew up and learned that her alleged happy fun time in space was a complete lie and she’d died during takeoff. It was a harsh lesson. Poor doggy.

Best shirt
I like anything that can double as weaponry for fighting the living undead.

Best thing to do with $20
Spend it on sushi. Or a graphic novel. Both.

Best party trick
I think anyone who can do flips in a small space is automatically awesome. I’m generally impressed by feats of physical prowess. All I can do is look awkward and hold people’s coats.

Best monster
I’m a big fan of John Carpenter’s The Thing, and I love that disgusting, gooey alien monster. Especially at the end of the movie when Kurt Russell faces it down one final time, throws dynamite at it and yells “Oh, fuck you!” I don’t know why but I love that scene. [Ed.’s note: You love it because it’s OBVIOUSLY INSANELY AWESOME! Man let’s go watch The Thing]

Worst Mondays/Best Fridays | | 1 Comment »

REVIEW: Twilight (Dir. Catherine Hardwicke)

Posted on November 26, 2008 by

This past weekend I saw Twilight, a new teen romance movie where ‘has-trouble-fitting-in’ Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) falls in love with ‘107-years-old-but-somehow-still-angsty-vampire’ Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson).

My official judgment on the film: It’s not awful.

The general expectation that I polled from my friends was that they expected this movie to be contrived and for little girls. They are correct on both accounts, but even still, it’s not awful.

[Ed.’s note: You must be 12 years (and under) and a girl to read the remainder of this review. Or be Alejandro Alcoba.] More… »

Film, Hits & Misses | | 51 Comments »

WORST MONDAYS: with Faith Erin Hicks

Posted on November 24, 2008 by

At JUICEBOX HQ, we’ve never really had a case of the Mondays because we don’t have real-people jobs. But for those feeling a bit garfield this A.M., feel free to wallow in other people’s most hated things. Every Monday!

Faith Erin Hicks is a self-made woman in the world of comics. Her first published comic, Zombies Calling, is a story about surviving a zombie attack by following the rules of Zombie films (“Rule 1: Don’t leave the mall”). It was released last date to much acclaim (she was named Favourite Canadian Comic Book Creator at the Joe Shuster Awards), but truth is that it’s not her first comic.

Demonology 101, a five volume, 700+ page story that she wrote and drew (for free!) and still has posted on her website. What’s particularly impressive about D101 is that she purposely used this comic as her personal training ground. You can see a clear progression in style that gives a unique perspective on a comic creator’s formative years.

Her new comic, The War At Ellesmere is due out December 3rd. And just like Faith’s Worst Mondays answers, it promises to be great.

Worst day-job
When I was in university, I was a receptionist at a veterinary hospital, something that doesn’t sound that terrible, but boy, my co-workers sure made up for it. The vet that I was working for can only be described as the anti-christ, and would have screaming fits at me daily. He’d then be rude to the customers who came in to have Fluffy fixed, so they’d call up and scream at me because they were upset. I lasted a month. I’m a shy person, and getting berated on a regular basis was not worth the $6.85 an hour.

Worst haircut
I used to hack at my own hair with a pair of dull scissors, for who knows what reason. It was pretty terrible. Also, when I was really little I had the Susie Derkins bowl haircut.

Worst subculture
I have no idea. I can’t say I’ve ever thought about that. Are popped collars a subculture? Because I’m generally against those.

Worst date
Once I was taken to a car show, but the entire point of it was to see who had the loudest stereo. So not only was I bored out of my skull, but I had a horrible ringing in my ears for days later. I didn’t go out on a second date with the guy, so let that be a lesson to all car stereo aficionados: wait a while before introducing that world to a girl you like.

Worst invention
Plastic.

Worst purchase
Brand name clothing. I’ve never seen the point in paying insane markup for a label. Unless it does the dishes or cures cancer or something.

Worst way to die
Eaten alive by the Abominable Snowman. I don’t know why I have such a fear of it. Seems like an exclusively Canadian fear.

Worst Mondays/Best Fridays | | 2 Comments »

So I says to Parthenopeus…

Posted on November 24, 2008 by

The Toronto Star is reporting that a joke book from the times of Constantine has been released onto the Internet as an e-Book.

It’s called Philogelos: The Laugh Addict.

If you don’t want to read the article, the gist is that we’ve been laughing about the same jokes for a really long time, just changing the subject matter.

Here’s a sample joke (and quote from the aforementioned article):

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A man complains that the slave he has recently purchased has died. “By the gods,’ says the slave’s former owner, “when he was with me, he never did any such thing.”

While I legitimately think that this kind of thing is totally awesome, I can’t help but laugh about a few things:

1) Someone translated a Greek joke book. AMAZING!

2) The article about this 4th Century Greek joke book is like 1000 words long! There is just so much to say about this!

One more joke:

Can you lend me your knife until Smyrna?

Sorry, I don’t have one that reaches that far.

Baddaboom!

Anyone who wants to know what to get me for Christmas, this is it.

Old Stuff | | 7 Comments »

Captain America: Period Piece?

Posted on November 19, 2008 by

Big news… if you’re me.

Remember Iron Man? Remember that bit after the credits that made nerds lose their minds / blow their loads? Well lately, there’s been a bunch of buzz about the next few years of movies based off of Marvel characters. Highlights:

  • Kenneth Branagh (!) has been slated to direct the Thor movie. No actor has been tapped to play Thor yet.
  • Robert Downey Jr will reprise his role as Tony Stark/Iron Man not only for Iron Man 2 & 3, but also for the Avengers movie.
  • There will be an Avengers movie!
  • Terrance Howard who played Rhodey in the super successful Iron Man movie, will not be back for 2 & 3. Instead, this character will be played by Don Cheadle.
  • And, of course, there will be a Captain America.

It’s obvious that all these movies are being put into motion with the idea of having an all-star line-up for The Avengers movie (the order will be Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers).

Here’s the exciting part.

The Captain America movie, titled First Avenger: Captain America, will be a World War II epic, telling the story of scrawny Steve Rogers and his transformation into Captain America. I’m not a big Captain America fan, but I’ve been quietly hoping that those movie people would take advantage of all the hype orbiting around Marvel’s properties and do something TOTALLY AWESOME. I’m being 100% serious here. No sarcasm. Just nerd-love.

I’m not going to go wasting my birthday wishes on this. Already, I’m being forced to be cautiously optimistic. Joe Johnson has been tapped to direct the film. Who? According to the IMDb, he directed The Rocketeer, Jumanji and did the special effects for Star Wars IV, V and VI, among other stuff. All cool movies, no doubt, but I just worry about putting this man at the helm of CAPTAIN AMERICA.

Of course, we all know how the movie will end (unless you don’t know about Captain America’s origins!) and I can’t get over how much potential there is to make a really good movie in a way that really can’t be done anywhere else. I can’t think of an example of a period piece genre film with a legacy as important and longstanding as Captain America. I mean, yeah, he’s a comic book character who throws a (fucking awesome) shield at Nazis and super villains, that might sound ridiculous, but it’s Captain America. No suspension of disbelief required. Its already been ingrained into your subconscious since he first appeared in March of 1941.

Anyway. Stay tuned for more comics related news at JUICEBOXdotcom, a comics and other stuff website.

Old Stuff | | 6 Comments »

REVIEW: Quantum of Solace (Dir. Marc Forster)

Posted on November 18, 2008 by

Bond came out this weekend. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s really your own fault.

Before I get into the review portion of the… review, I want to flip (this is new slang for give, forward or push in your direction) you some numbers. This is the 22nd Bond film, and the second starring Daniel Craig. This is the first Bond sequel (I think? Having trouble confirming this. Anyone?) and it takes place one hour after Casino Royale ends. The film is 106 minutes long, making it the shortest Bond film ever. The film cost $230 million to make. The film was released two weeks earlier in Europe and made a dump-truck of money. That, combined with the North American opening weekend gross of $70.4 million, puts the movie at $322 million worldwide. So far.

Now: Reviewtown.

Quantum of Solace was good. Not as good as Casino Royale, but definitely a fun time. The film is packed with action, and through its monkey-filled-barrel of mindless (yet totally awesome) ass-kickery, I fell in love. Of course, that’s not to say that this is the kind of love you’ll write home to tell your mom about, but love nonetheless.

However, one cannot avoid the fact that this movie wasn’t as good as its predecessor (mom? older sister? not sure where to take this metaphor…) and what Quantum lacked is easy to identify.

Plot.

Sure, there was a plot in there somewhere, but remember that really long string of scenes in the first movie where Bond is playing poker and pretty much ALL THE IMPORTANT STUFF THAT MATTERS unfolds? Obviously we couldn’t have another poker scene, but at least something to perform the same function (ie plot) would have been nice.

All in all, worth seeing if you like ass-kickery.

Film, Hits & Misses | | 9 Comments »

REVIEW: Synecdoche, NY (Dir. Charlie Kaufman)

Posted on November 17, 2008 by

The movie came to a close and I turn to my girlfriend. She turns to me and says, rather bluntly, “well, that was a disappointment” [Ed.’s note: HIGH FIVE, LAUREN].

Having heard in advance that Sam and Ashley did not like the film [Ed.’s note: but do very much like Charlie Kaufman], I’m momentarily stunned; ten-thousand thoughts per second all converge on one point: Holy shit; I might be the only person I know who is going to love this movie. I wait 15 minutes before telling her this.

Synecdoche, NY is, in my humble opinion [Ed.’s note: and Ebert’s], a masterpiece [Ed.’s note: but Alejandro really really loves Science of Sleep]. So three out of the four people mentioned so far in this review didn’t like it, but that doesn’t make it any less of a thorough, complex story that will leave you thinking… if you let it. Charlie Kaufman, the newspaper-salesman-turned-film-scribe behind all your favourite movies, including Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, makes his directorial debut [Ed.’s note: when he should have stuck to just writing them] with a film about trying to leave your mark on the world.

A theatre director (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) is afraid of death. In fact, he is so afraid of death that it affects every aspect of his life, most importantly it drives his fear of being forgotten. As the story progresses, he is given the opportunity to create something important, and as a result spends his life creating a living play. I’m re-reading that sentence now, and this description is both poor and largely inaccurate. But the truth is that you can’t really sum up this plot the old fashioned way. Rather, let’s think of this in terms of theme.

Kaufman explores themes that he has delved into through each of the films he has written. “Having a better life” begins to explain what he’s doing, but then you have to ask, “A better life than what? Than whom? For what purpose?” The idea of being so afraid to live your own life — because you might fuck it up, because someone might do it better, because you don’t know the path to the greatest happiness — is what motivates Hoffman’s character to create entire worlds.

What makes this film great is that unlike Kaufman’s other films [Ed.’s note: where outside directors can hone in his scope by cutting the fat], he doesn’t use any of the exits he creates for himself along the way [Ed.’s note: because now he can be overindulgent sans overlord]. Kaufman explores this theme through to the end [Ed.’s note: which makes it trip and draaaag]. There are several opportunities for Hoffman’s character to quit in his quest for his own magnum opus, but at the core we realize that he will never be truly satisfied [Ed.’s note: much like Charlie Kaufman, which is the real brilliance of this movie].

And there’s a moral in that.

In a cinematic landscape where most movies you hear about are about explosions and teenagers falling in love with vampires [Ed.’s note: Synecdoche, NY needed more explosions and teenagers falling in love with vampires], what other reason do you need to name a movie as worthwhile?

[Ed.’s note: this movie would have been great if someone else had directed it]

Film, Hits & Misses | | 18 Comments »

BEST FRIDAYS: with Jeph Jacques

Posted on November 14, 2008 by

What’s Worst Mondays without a dark and villainous foil? That’s the kind of thinking that forced us to create Best Fridays. So for all our weekend warrior brethren: Wooooo, T-G-I-F, right? Herein we hope to bookend your awful week by quizzing our previous Worst Mondays candidate about slightly more encouraging things. Every Friday!

Yes, it’s Friday. Which means it’s time to hear about some of internet award winning comic strip writer/artist/wonderguy Jeph Jacques’ Bests.

Best injury
I was opening a pocketknife when it slipped out of my hand and I instinctively tried to catch it before it hit the ground. The blade went through the webbing between the ring and middle fingers of my left hand and severed an artery. Blood EVERYWHERE. I ended up getting stitches and drew a comic that night with my hand all bandaged up (I’m left handed). I felt like a badass. An idiotic badass.

Best historical figure
Einstein.

Best shirt
My grey Hum tshirt from their 1997 tour. I can’t actually wear it anymore because it’s too beaten up but it has a little shrine in the bottom of my dresser.

Best thing to do with $20
You can probably buy a couple books with 20 dollars. Or a bunch of comics.

Best party trick
I’m really good at drinking too much and regretting it the next day. G-good times?

Best monster
The Blob.

Best question ever asked of you in an interview. Now answer it:
Too much pressure to come up with something clever aaaaugh sdjektllsckrnnwjxjfk//////

Worst Mondays/Best Fridays | | 3 Comments »

REVIEW: Girl Talk @ the Kool Haus, Toronto, 11/12/08

Posted on November 13, 2008 by

What do you get when you mash together every song ever and then mash together 2500 people?

I’ve honestly never been to that big a dance party in my whole life. Even in places where dancing happens! I’ve been circling ideas around in my head since last night, trying to suss out the best way to describe the festivities, and it’s really hard. I mean, sure, I could talk about the music, but Girl Talk is pretty much ultimate mash-ups on ADD. Some people can’t handle the fickle nature of the songs, and others… well, others just LOVE IT. But I digress.

Packed is probably the one word that I think best describes the show. The venue was packed with people to the point that I can now say that I’ve bathed in the sweat of friendly hipsters and douchebros alike. The mixes were packed (see what I’m doing?) with more songs and longer mixes. The stage was packed with so many people that more than once I thought to myself: ‘man, I want to be at THAT party!’ Also, there were inflatable basketballs (like beachballs!) and inflated backs (actually) that were probably… packed, and then unpacked and thrown around the crowd at the show.

Anyway, the show was effing wicked. If you can handle dancing crowds – and to be fair, not everyone can – you should definitely take the next opportunity to see this guy.

Hits & Misses, Live | | 2 Comments »

WORST MONDAYS: with Jeph Jacques

Posted on November 10, 2008 by

At JUICEBOX HQ, we’ve never really had a case of the Mondays because we don’t have real-people jobs. But for those feeling a bit garfield this A.M., feel free to wallow in other people’s most hated things. Every Monday!

The internet is a beautiful place, isn’t it? As if animals riding other animals weren’t enough, there’s this great comic strip you may have heard of called Questionable Content. Haven’t heard of it? Shame on you. Basically, it’s about romance, indie rock, and the occasional robot. If you haven’t read them, you really should. I read it, like, everyday.

Jeph Jacques is the mastermind (aka writer/artist) behind this strip, which began on August 1, 2003. Originally published 2 days a week, Jacques eventually quit his job (!) and began publishing 5 days a week. A member of the Dayfree Press, an independent webcomic collective (along with previous best/worster Ryan North), Jacques is one of those successful few who has made a business out of his art, openly commenting on how the comic strip is his only job. Lucky guy! More importantly, lucky us for having free access to the QC archive of over 1200 full colour strips! Enough waiting:

Worst day-job
My last real job involved sitting behind a desk and answering phones for a local alternative newspaper all day. The pay was shit, it was monotonous as hell, and somehow I managed to make it two years before getting fired. That was the really scary, awful part – those two years went by so fast, I can totally see how people end up working jobs they hate for their entire lives. You just get up in the morning, try not to flip out and kill everyone all day, then go home and go to bed. Repeat 20000 times. Eeeeeeek.

Worst haircut
I routinely give myself homemade Mohawks. Worst haircut… OR BEST HAIRCUT???

Worst subculture
Juggalos. I know I am not being very original here but come on.

Worst date
Back in high school I was supposed to go see the remastered Star Wars with this girl I was really into. Only the theater was in DC and I was a stupid kid from the Maryland suburbs so I got completely lost trying to find the theater and meet up with her. I ended up finding the theater just in time to catch the end of the movie, but I never did manage to meet up with the girl. She dumped me a week later. Then we started a band together. Awkward?

Worst invention
Cassette tapes.

Worst purchase
My iPhone, because now I CANNOT FUNCTION WITHOUT IT.

Worst way to die
Hyenas. They basically start eating you before you even lose consciousness.

Old Stuff | | 11 Comments »

BEST FRIDAYS: with Ryan North

Posted on October 31, 2008 by

What’s Worst Mondays without a dark and villainous foil? That’s the kind of thinking that forced us to create Best Fridays. So for all our weekend warrior brethren: Wooooo, T-G-I-F, right? Herein we hope to bookend your awful week by quizzing our previous Worst Mondays candidate about slightly more encouraging things. Every Friday!

Ryan North, yep, still awesome nearly a week later. Just check out the image below lifted from his Wikipedia entry (“My brother Victor took this picture of me. I am being pulled in a canoe behind a motorboat. It was pretty extreme.”)

Best injury
I leaped from a fence to a vertical pole, caught it just long enough to swing 90 degrees, and then fell straight down about 4 meters onto a sidewalk. I fractured my elbow but, man, you should have seen the other guy. There were radial cracks in the sidewalk beginning at where my elbow hit and spreading out for meters, and car alarms were going off down the block.

Best historical figure
Gandhi and James T Kirk are tied in a dead heat.

Best shirt
I made myself five shirts in different colours that just say “WHAT” on them, no punctuation, just like that. They are my favourite shirts but I forget I’m wearing them and then I ask someone for directions and they say “WHAT” in a really loud voice and I get confused and uncomfortable. This has happened SO MANY TIMES.

Best thing to do with $20
2,000 gummy bears. When I was a kid I explained to my younger brother how much money was worth by how many gummy bears it would buy. I’m not sure how that worked because I kept the penny/gummy bear conversion ratio solid at 1:1, so it was really a way of making money more delicious and, eventually, perishable.

Best party trick
Asking people what the worst thing they’ve ever done is and then remembering it forever.

Best monster

Whoever James Bond has to fight in the movies because then it means James Bond will be there soon!

Best question ever asked of you in an interview. Now answer it:
Well, it’s a little personal, but – three, I think. With more on Sundays?

Worst Mondays/Best Fridays | | 4 Comments »

REVIEW: Hospital Bombers – Footnotes

Posted on October 28, 2008 by

Hospital Bombers is a band from Amsterdam, Netherlands. They’re so Dutch, their website isn’t even in English. However, they sing lovely songs in what I believe is English.

Their first album, Footnotes, has a sound that fondly reminds me of English speaking/singing bands like Cake or The Mountain Goats. There’s even a dash of The Weakerthans in there. They do that honest, pleasant sounding rock (as opposed to the angry, angry sounding rock) very well. So if you’re into any of the above mentioned bands, check it out.

Hits & Misses, Music | | 1 Comment »

WORST MONDAYS: with Ryan North

Posted on October 27, 2008 by

At JUICEBOX HQ, we’ve never really had a case of the Mondays because we don’t have real-people jobs. But for those feeling a bit garfield this A.M., feel free to wallow in other people’s most hated things. Every Monday!

Who is Ryan North? First, he is the mastermind behind the hugely popular Dinosaur Comics. Published online, as well as in various free not-for-profit newspapers/campus newspapers, it’s about talking dinosaurs, and specifically a talking T-rex.

As if that weren’t enough, make sure you pay close attention to the art in every comic. Yes, I know. Brilliant! Second, he is a solid dude who lives in the solid city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Third, talking Dinosaurs!!

I think the question you should be asking is Who isn’t Ryan North?

Worst day-job
The closest I had to a day job was working for the company my dad worked at one summer in the early ’90s (maybe late ’80s?). My job was to duplicate floppy diskettes: put in a disk, hit return, and when it’s done, put in a new disk. It was boring but I figured out how to get a TSR MIDI program to load (this was all DOS, remember), so I could listen to my MIDI version of Axel F and it only slowed down copying by 5%. GOOD TIMES.

Worst haircut
I was growing out my hair for Cuts For Cancer, where once a year they show up and you can donate your hair and they make a wig for a child undergoing cancer treatment. A classy thing to do! Except that after a year my hair was down past my shoulders and I forgot my appointment. It would be TRULY TERRIBLE for me to cut the hair off then, so I had to wait another year for them to come back again. My hair was down past my waist and when I rolled over in my sleep I could get caught in it. It was too much hair. I did not forget my second appointment.

Worst subculture
People who don’t have Asperger’s, but self-diagnose themselves with Asperger’s, and then use Asperger’s as an excuse for behaving like a dick on the internet. THAT IS NOT HOW THIS CONDITION WORKS, GUYS.

Worst date
I have only ever been on good dates! One time I got lost with my girlfriend in the moors in England and we both fell into a bog/river thing and then after we got out without drowning I stepped on a cow patty that was somehow baked and under pressure. Anyway, bright green liquid cow poo sprayed all up my leg and my shirt and then we had to hitchhike back home to our hotel. But that, my friend, was Good Times.

Worst invention
Autodialers. And the people who use them. And spammers. Who invented spammers, man? Screw that guy.

Worst purchase
I was going to say my purchase of hotforthecock.com, but that turned out to be awesome, because now I can make hotforthecock.com point to any website I want. Sometimes it points at some friend’s Facebook page. Sometimes, it points at my own.

Worst way to die

Drowning, oh god.

Worst Mondays/Best Fridays | | 7 Comments »

REVIEW: Ratatat – LP3

Posted on September 19, 2008 by

Anyone who doesn’t like Ratatat, or their new album LP3, has forgotten what it was like the first time they fell in love, the first time they discovered the internet, the first time they were hung the fuck over, the first time they read a really good book, the first time the reread a really good book and enjoyed it more, the first time they stayed up til 3 in the morning chatting about nothing with their crush, the first time they sang along with the radio, and the first time they ate so much pizza that they rolled home.

Ratatat has done it again, and fuck you if you disagree.

Hits & Misses, Music | | 5 Comments »

REVIEW: Fan Expo 2008, Metro Toronto Convention Center

Posted on August 29, 2008 by

So this past weekend was Fan Expo, the biggest annual convention Toronto sees for all things relating to comic books, science fiction, anime, horror, and gaming. Basically a lot of geek in one place.

What follows is a report of the few (there were just so many!) events I was able to attend over the course of the weekend when I wasn’t haggling for discount comics.

BUZZ ALDRIN
Every year, Fan Expo tries to outdo the previous year’s slam dunk of guests. This year, many thought the organizers “dropped the ball,” as it were. Those people are idiots for one reason and one reason alone:

Dr. Buzz Fucking Aldrin!

Ever hear of the moon? Yeah, the moon. Buzz Aldrin’s been there. He and Neil Armstrong were the first two astronauts to walk on our planetary satellite’s surface! And 40 years later he is still awesome. Why?

Because he was on the moon!

There are actors who pretend to go to the moon. There are dorks who write about spandex-wearing, mommy-issue-laden douchebags (note: I love comics) who go to the moon. Then, there’s this guy. Went to the moon. Still not impressed? What is wrong with you?

BRENT SPINER
Another of the panels I went to was the Brent Spiner Q&A. For you geeks who don’t know, Brent Spiner played Data, the infamous android of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame. Unfortunately, the talk wasn’t overly impressive. Spiner, while very comical and great at talking, spent most of the hour not answering the questions or avoiding them by saying things like, “You know that I’m not really an android, right?” No, Mr. Spiner. I did not know that.

However, so as not to be a big downer on one of my favourite science fiction characters, the panel started on a great note. As fans were filing into the packed room, Spiner spent about 5-6 full minutes plugging Burrito Boyz, a Toronto institution that makes the best Burritos. Everyone who has ever had one agrees. Including Brent Spiner. Hearing an android talk about Burritos for 6 minutes made the experience totally worth it.

More… »

Hits & Misses, Live | | 5 Comments »

REVIEW: Sigur Ros – Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

Posted on June 23, 2008 by

sigur-ros.jpgIcelandic atmospheric post-rockers Sigur Rós are back with their latest full length album, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (translated into English: With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly). While still reigning on the throne of ‘shoe-gazing’ Avant-garde, they have taken serious strides towards harnessing an organic sound. The album opens with the single, “Gobbledigook,” and you immediately get a feel for this new direction with tribal drum beats and an all-together raw, unpolished sound (as far as one can use the words raw and unpolished to describe Sigur Ros). The album also features Sigur Ros’ first foray into English language lyrics with the album finishing “All Alright.” It’s alright. After listening to the record a few times, I decided that I liked all of it, but I didn’t love it all. But I’m sure there will be no shortage of films tapping into this album for ominous and transformation related scores. (EMI, XL Recordings)

Hits & Misses, Music | | Comment »

REVIEW: Coldplay – Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends

Posted on June 17, 2008 by

Coldplay has a new album out today. If you like this band, you’ll like Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends and if you don’t, you won’t. So instead of wasting time reviewing the album, let’s review the album cover.

The painting seen here is by a famous Romanticist painter named Eugene Delacroix. It’s called Liberty Leading the People (La Liberté guidant le peuple) and the painting’s message is rather blunt. It’s about the French Revolution, and is full of images that speak to Liberty (the tricolore flag, Liberty modeled after Marianne [a national emblem], the Phyrgian cap, even the young boy with the guns is said to be Gavroche, a child revolutionary from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables). Delacroix painted this as a cathartic substitute for not being able to fight for his country.

The reason that’s important is because Romanticism is a style that is often associated with fluidity, movement, and passion. When you look at Liberty Leading the People, the intent is that you are inspired with a sense of (French) nationalism, or on a grander scale, you are inspired by the power of freedom. At least, that’s what Delacroix allegedly felt through the act of painting this.

With all that useful knowledge, think about what Coldplay means by painting the words “Viva La Vida” over top of it. It could be a statement at the failing quality of Liberty. It could mean that the old value of freedom that was so valiantly (and violently) fought for some 220 years ago is once again slipping away and transforming into the evil that was once opposed. By graffiti-ing over a painting about rebellion, are you, in turn, rebelling against rebellion?

How smart do you think Coldplay is?

And what does it mean when the title Viva La Vida is an homage to a painting by Frida Kohler that’s of watermelons?

Hits & Misses, Music | | 3 Comments »

WORST MONDAYS: with Bryan Lee O’Malley

Posted on June 9, 2008 by

At JUICEBOX HQ, we’ve never really had a case of the Mondays because we don’t have real-people jobs. But for those feeling a bit garfield this A.M., feel free to wallow in other people’s most hated things. Every Monday!

Bryan Lee O’Malley is a twenty-something, award-winning Canadian comic book (or graphic novel, if calling it that makes you feel better) author/artist/guy. His first book was 2003’s Lost At Sea. If you haven’t read it, you should sit down and think long and hard about your life and what it means.

omalleyworstmondays.jpg

Right now, O’Malley is just a bit famous for his critically acclaimed Toronto-based Scott Pilgrim series (2004 – present). Pilgrim follows the life of the 23-year-old title character who meets the Amazon.ca delivery girl of his dreams. In order to date her, he must fight–and defeat–her seven evil ex-boyfriends. Just like real life. There’s even a battle in Honest Ed’s.

In the past few years, O’Malley has won several big-timey comic awards (including a Harvey Award, a Joe Shuster Award and a Doug Wright Award). And Publishers Weekly named the third volume, Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness, one of 2006’s best comics. When he’s not busy receiving awards, O’Malley finds time to do some solo-ish lo-fi music stuff that you should listen to.

Anyway, he’s a big deal. Right this very second, Pilgrim is being adapted into a big Hollywood movie by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead), with Michael Cera (Arrested Development, Juno) as Scott.

But enough about people whose last names aren’t O’Malley.

Worst day-job
I’ve only ever had a couple of dayjobs. They were all pretty okay, to be honest. I mean, they were temporary, and most of them were pretty low-stress. Yeah. Not an auspicious beginning here.

Worst haircut
Every haircut I ever got in Toronto was the worst haircut of my life. I was unable to find a good hairdresser, not that I tried very hard. Plus, I was constantly broke, so I always ended up at the sketchy place on the corner, spent ten bucks, and looked like a moron for the next three weeks.

Worst subculture
The really gung-ho fans of… anything. Sci-fi, Buffy, whatever. I see a lot of these people in my line of work, and it’s both charming and completely depressing. I can’t even find the words to explain. This might be because I usually see these folks at comic book conventions, which are, of course, their preferred habitat, and where they tend to come out of their shells.

But actually, pretentious 21-year-old music snobs and independent record store clerks are the worst subculture. The nerds are fucking awesome compared to them.

Worst date
I went on a blind date off the INTERNET one time. In university. It was easily the most mortifying night of my life. God, I was such a tool in university.

Worst invention
Organized religion. No, organized sports. No… just… just organization itself, maybe?

Worst purchase
I get major buyer’s remorse. I think I have real anxiety attacks about purchasing things that are more than, like, $40. I seriously get a little panicky just thinking about it. Anyway, the worst thing I ever bought was a Volcom t-shirt at Pac Sun in California, summer 2001. Probably $20. It was hideous. I returned it like a half hour later, but I’ll never forget the shame.

Worst way to die
I think maybe being gutted while tied to a stake in the desert. And scorpions are crawling up your legs? Or, you know, the gradual breakdown of the human body. Dying of old age is possibly the worst. I used to be obsessed with death when I was a gnarly teenager, but now I believe I dislike it.

Worst Mondays/Best Fridays | | Comment »

REVIEW: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Dir. Tim Supple)

Posted on June 7, 2008 by

Luminato, a nine day festival of the arts and things that might be art, is taking over Toronto right now. Seriously, look outside. Anyway, one of the flagship performances associated with this madness is Tim Supple’s rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Canon Theatre.

Basically the play is interpreted through an east Indian lens, with a cast of 23 Indian and Sri Lanken actors, dancers, musicians and acrobats. While about half the play is spoken in English, the other half is a combination of seven different Indian languages, including Hindi, Tamil and Sanskrit.

Everything I’ve just told you is more or less what I remember from the Toronto Star’s glowing review of the play, and after having been lucky enough to see it, I must say that the reviewer painted an accurate picture of what you get, but there are a few things you don’t really realize before getting there.

While seven different Indian languages is cool and all, unfortunately I don’t understand any of them. Still, with the play expertly weaving its way from English to [pick an Indian language] and back again, often within the same line of dialogue (seriously, it was cool), you realize how much of the play you don’t really need to read to get the full gist of things.

Granted, seven Indian languages all sound sort of the same to someone who speaks none of them (read: me), and more than once I felt a bit left out when I would hear outbursts of laughter during a line I didn’t understand, but I had the benefit of seeing the world through the eyes of Charlie Brown (remember how the teachers sound like trombones? Yeah. Puck = Trombone), and you realize not only how big the world is, but how fucking cool it is.

The set design evolves through the performance and really takes on a life of its own as the play progresses. More than just the East Indian garb or the Indian wedding ceremony, you really get a feeling for how the forest is brought to life, not only with moving greenery, but with bright reds and oranges and purples.

And have you ever watched a Bollywood movie? At last, Shakespeare with awesome choreographed dance sequences!

If the idea of Charlie Brown loving Bollywood (and fucking, the play is all about intercourse) piques your interest, then you should definitely check this play out before it finishes its run this Sunday (June 15, 2008.)

Hits & Misses, Live | | 11 Comments »

REVIEW: Justice League – The New Frontier (Dir. Dave Bullock)

Posted on May 9, 2008 by

jl-newfrontier-dvd.jpgI was genuinely excited as I unwrapped my copy of Justice League: The New Frontier. As the comic book loving, cartoon watching handsome devil that I am, anything targeted at people 10 years younger than me is generally something I’m going to love.

About ten minutes into the movie, an American pilot (Hal Jordan, voiced by David Boreanaz) who was just shot out of the air (despite the Korean War having ended, literally minutes ago) is fighting against a Korean kid who wants to kill him. Then Hal Jordan shoots him and we see his face covered in the kid’s blood.

Despite its PG-13 rating, and following all the regular cartoon violence rules (don’t actually see bullets hitting people, etc.) I decided it would be best for that 12-year-old personality of mine to take a back seat on this one.

Justice League: The New Frontier is a re-imagining of the world’s most famous Super Team, set against a post-Korean War back drop. It’s based on what is widely acclaimed as one of the best Superhero comics to come out in the past long while.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about the film.

First: the good. It was a great story with a lot of characters interestingly woven into one another. It doesn’t focus on Superman or Batman like every other DC motion picture initiative seems to. The opening hooks you. The conclusion is great, and opens the door to more stories. And the character design (with one exception) and animation style is just lots of fun.

But, truth be told, the adaptation felt as though they had left things out. I looked it up and I was right. There are sections missing from it. There are gaps in that middle section of the film that would have done a lot to fill out the story. That’s not to say the story doesn’t work. All the pieces fit together in the very clever fashion that usually comes with well thought out re-imaginings, and to say the story left me unsatisfied would be a flat out lie. But it could have been… you know… more?

The special features were alright, too. With a few bonus episodes of an unrelated Justice League cartoon and the usual smattering of ads disguised as cool content, you get some nice extras with this package.

All in all, the film feels like a solid 7 out of 10 on the arbitrary scale of whatever the hell I feel like, and knowing that 12 year old, I’ll probably watch it again. (Warner Bros. subdomains . Animation)

DVD, Hits & Misses | | 6 Comments »