Thursday, January 24, 2013

Matt Farmer Explains Pro Football Offensive Skill Positions to Chris Brennaman

Earlier in the week, Chris was a guest on HuffPost Live. As it turns out, his system of how to talk sports when you know nothing about sports caught the attention of some Huffington Post staffers. Hilarity ensued  

Matt Farmer, however, has decided that Chris has become too comfortable in his ignorance, and has endeavored to teach the confirmed football hater about all things football.

Pro football is a complicated game. However, any sport can appear hopelessly complex to the uninitiated. I remember a fateful day in Atlanta, back when we had NHL team that I loved with all my heart. I was sitting cozily in the nosebleeds with the real fans sitting next to a fella in a Georgia Bulldogs (or is it Bulldawgs?) sweatshirt. He was completely vexed by the goings on taking place on the ice below. I did my best to explain the rules to him, “that’s icing,” “that’s offsides,” “that’s a goal,” “yes, those guys are fighting and it won’t stop until one of them hits the ground.” He remarked about what a complicated game hockey was. I replied that it’s no more complicated than any other sport, it’s just that you didn’t grow up with it. Imagine trying to explain college football to someone who’s never seen a game before. He reluctantly agreed. Although, I don’t recall ever seeing him around Phillips Arena again, but that place is pretty big so it’s not entirely inconceivable that I’d miss him, but I digress.

I’m a unique bird. I love discussing the pros and cons of a cover 2 defense just as much as I like determining who would win between The Battlestar Galactica or an Imperial Star Destroyer (The Galactica, BTW… nukes and TIE Fighter pilots are a joke compared to Kara Thrace). So, when I see other nerds struggling with sports, it brings me back to my more awkward high school and early college days before I was really indoctrinated with a love of football. I’d always had a passing interest in sports. I’ve never been the type to dismiss them, but I just wasn’t a rabid, fantasy playing, yell-at-the-screen, get your heart crushed by the Falcons kind of fan. It wasn’t until I started playing sports video games (sports knowledge via video games=nerd AND sports cred) that I really grew to understand the intricacies of the game of football.

Either way, this introduction is taking to long. Seeing my friend struggle with the basic knowledge of America’s true pastime was just too much for me to bear. So, I’ll attempt to explain four skill positions in football using a member of the Justice League of America.

I’ll do offense today. The obvious solution on offense is to have Batman be your quarterback and Superman be your running back and truthfully Batman wouldn’t have to play at all. Simply direct snap the ball to Supes and watch people try in vain to tackle him. It would look silly. So, I’m going to try and put most super powers aside for the most part. I hope it makes sense later.

Quarterback: Batman

Quarterback (or QB) is the most important position on offense. The quarterback is in charge of relaying the plays called by the coaches to his teammates. He is the one who looks at the opposing defense and judges whether or not the play would work. He can either hand the ball off to the running back (RB) or pass the ball to a wide receiver (WR) or Tight End (TE). Batman is the brains of the Justice League. Without the vast resources of the Batcomputer, the Justice League would be lost in trying to uncover the weaknesses of their enemies. That’s what a QB does all week breaking down film and preparing for the game. The film room is his Batcomputer. He may not be the strongest or the fastest guy out there, but the ball is always in his hands if for only a brief amount of time. He needs to be able to make intelligent, quick decisions, know the strengths and weaknesses of both his teammates and his opponents. It is up to him to execute the strategy put forth by the coach. Batman is the smartest member of the JLA and provides the leadership they need. Batman is cool under pressure, fit beyond reason and always the smartest guy in the room (although Victor Fries and Edward Nygma might take exception to that).

Running Back: Superman

The running back (or halfback) is the muscles of the offense. It is their job to carry the ball past a bunch of defenders that want to kill him without getting dragged to the turf. They take a lot of abuse and they’re typically deemed “washed up” by age 30 because of all the hits they take. These are the guys who are likely to have the worst knee, back and brain problems in their old age. Now, as I mentioned earlier, if Superman were a running back there would be little need for any other players. Just give Supes the ball and get out of his way. There are players in the league that are kind of like that. The Minnesota Vikings are a terrible football team, but their running back, Adrian Peterson is the NFL’s real Superman (sorry, Cam Newton) and despite being awful, they made it to the playoffs this year. Why? Like Superman, Adrian Peterson can singlehandedly take on an entire defense. All one needs to do is hand that cat the ball and watch defenses try to stop him. It’s virtually impossible. The running back needs to be strong, quick and have a lot of stamina because it’s going to be a rough day. Superman performs that role for the Justice League all the time. He’s the muscles that send fear into the hearts of his opponents. Plus, he’d be a helluva blocker when Batman wants to throw instead of hand off, but then again Superman would probably accidentally kill someone if he laid too hard a block on the guy.

Wide Receiver: Flash

Wide receivers (WR) need to be fast, evasive, but still strong and tough. Nobody is faster than Barry Allen. Their job is to catch the ball thrown by the quarterback and run as far and as fast as they can until someone tackles them. Calvin Johnson (with the nerd-friendly nickname of Megatron) is a prototypical, dominant Wide Receiver. He’s tall, he’s strong and he’s fast. Flash would have no trouble getting behind a team’s defense for a long bomb thrown by Batman. There’s not a defensive player in the league that could keep up with him. Calvin Johnson is kind of like that. He’s always open and can outmuscle any defensive back for the ball. Bats to Flash would be a combo for the ages that would eclipse Joe Montana and Jerry Rice.

Tight End: Martian Manhunter

Tight End (TE) is kind of a hybrid position. They serve two purposes. They’re either blocking for the running back, or getting open for medium yardage situations. They need to be strong, yet quick and tough, but be able to catch. J’onn J’onnz possesses a multitude of superpowers. He’s not as strong as Superman or as fast as the Flash or as smart as Batman, but he’s a very feared defender of justice on planet Earth. A TE’s role on an offense can change every play. Sometimes, they’re the guy who needs to catch a pass for a few yards, or sometimes he needs to be stopping a linebacker (presumably wearing Kryptonite pads) from throttling your running back. He needs to possess a large set of skills, but not necessarily be a master of any of them. Martian Manhunter isn’t the mightiest of the Justice League, but the myriad of powers he possesses are sometimes just what the team needs to get them out of a bind. Plus, he’s green and kind of just hovers around and that’s cool to me.

Now, that’s just four positions on a football team and there are 11 on both offense and defense. So, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve got an idea of where I’d play Wonder Woman (middle linebacker), Green Lantern (cornerback) and even Zatanna (cheerleader), but I currently have no idea where I’d put Aquaman. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Scott Garner Defends The Big Bang Theory

In an effort to show how impartial I am in my various hatreds, one of the biggest being CBS' The Big Bang Theory, I've decided to let friend and fellow writer/blogger/former journalist Scott Garner to guest today...

... So he can defend The Big Bang Theory. Understand, I want to pepper your judgement at this point. I want to poison the well and remind you all that The Big Bang Theory isn't for geeks and nerds, that the producers hate you, that it is, in fact, a Geek Minstrel Show.

But I'm not going to do that. That would be unfair to Scott and underhanded on my part. So sit back, and enjoy Scott Garner defend... God this is hard... defend The Big Bang Theory.

Oh, and be sure to check out Scott's blog here when yer' done. Take it away, Mr. Garner...


In the fourteen months since my son came into this world, the dinner hour is generally filled with the sounds of syndicated reruns of How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory. The theme song to the latter is young master Atticus’s Most Favoritest Song Evah. At the end, as the Barenaked Ladies yalp out their final “BANG,” my son triumphantly throws his arms into the air.

The proprietor of this fine blog calls BBT a “minstrel show” and generally rates the contribution to geek culture generated by Sheldon, Penny and the guy who used to be on Roseanne somewhere between DC’s latest attempt to reload their brand and anal splinters. He’s not a fan.

After fourteen months of Big Bang Theory reruns, I have come to develop an affinity for the program, if not a downright fondness. This means I’m in a pretty strong position to come to the show’s defense. With some caveats, of course.

If you need a Cliff’s Notes version of the program, here it is: two scientists, one geeky and the other geeky and Asperger-y, both geniuses (the latter Wile E. Coyote, super genius-y), live next door to a smoking hot blonde of average (or possibly lower) intellect. Non Asperger-y geek falls hopelessly in love with unattainable blonde. Hijinks ensue. The cast is rounded out by other colorful characters, most of whom are also card-carrying Mensa types.

Here is where we collectively pause for a second. At this point, I am one paragraph short of beginning my defense of BBT. Before travelling any farther, I should state explicitly and for the record that I am not attempting to change anyone’s mind. Internet arguing is the sort of stupid that warrants a two-hour block of programming on either E! or Fox News. Please understand this is a defense of BBT not a Clockwork Orange attempt to reprogram the reader. If you really don’t like the show, nothing I write is going to persuade you otherwise. Perhaps, though, if you accept the arguments I will lay out, it might be possible to begin to understand the broad appeal of the show and not dismiss anyone else who enjoys the program as mentally ill.


FIRST POINT: It’s a fucking sitcom. With only a few notable exceptions—including All in the Family, MASH, Roseanne, Seinfeld and Louie—the entire sitcom form is riddled with artistic bullet holes. Plot contrivances, caricatures, deus ex machina and laugh tracks are just a few of the intellectual slaps in the face we’re forced to endure to squeeze thirty minutes of “entertainment” out of a network’s need to put something on to hold a place for the commercials. There are five levels of creative accomplishment awarded based on how a show handles these pitfalls.

                Level 1: The Simpsonsonian Ideal. Y’know. Perfection. We’re talking seasons 3-8 for the zenith, but even the nadir of The Simpsons is better than anything on Level 3 or lower. If you’re going to argue this point, please stop and cut out your reproductive parts now. You’re bringing nothing to the collective gene pool or this conversation.

                Level 2: The MASH Pit. Great enough to create cultural touchstones, even if some of these shows—I’m looking at you Married… With Children—don’t always stand up to repeat viewings. These shows have something in the premise or execution that separates them from the pack. And all of them are unambiguously funny.

                Level 3: Good Enough. These shows aim for the middle and hit the target. Occasionally, one will capture a zeitgeist moment and float improbably high in the ratings. These shows are neither great nor terrible. They’re like sex with an ex-girlfriend: you pretty much know what’s coming, but it’s still better than watching reruns of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. The Big Bang Theory is unapologetically a Level 3 sitcom. It’s keeping company with such classics as Night Court and Sanford & Son, so the peer group isn’t horrible. (Good luck getting the Night Court theme’s baseline out of your head, by the way.)

                Level 4: Thelma and Louise. These shows start strong for a few episodes then drive off a cliff. You know why it’s hard to think about an example for the Level 4 show? Because they were neither good enough nor bad enough to remember. Anything that lasted a season and a half on Fox is probably a 4.

                Level 5: Inexplicably Green-Lighted. This is the pond scum. Cavemen ring a bell? Or Whoops, which was both the title of the show and the inevitable punch line of its miserable existence. Right. Moving on.

SECOND POINT: Geek Nation has more dysfunctional, warring tribes than the Middle East. Nerds, Fanboys, Hackers, Cinephiles, Beer Geeks, Wine Snobs, Game Geeks, Role Players, Cosplayers, SF Fans Who Detest “Space Opera,” Trekkies, MMO Gamers, Fantasy Football Wonks, Foodies, Political Junkies, Hipsters, Performance Artists, Theater Geeks and Internet Trolls are just a few of the subspecies fighting for geek supremacy.

There is only one piece of connective tissue binding the collective body of “geekdom” together: passion. Geeks love something. They integrate their love of this thing (or things) into the fabric of their being. Their love isn’t always healthy, either. Just mention Episode I to a Star Wars fan and you’ll get everything from a frown to a full-on Kathy-Bates-in-Misery, get-me-the-goddamn-hammer-and-a-block-of-wood. Lynching would be too good for Jar Jar. Geeks love their passion and they expect creators to take good fucking care of their baby. Because no genius, not even the one who first created C3PO and the Millennium Falcon, are too good to get a foot in the ass (via a scathing online screed, of course).

THIRD POINT: Dismissing the entertainment value of a sitcom because the characters do not exactly handle their broadly-drawn attributes, meant to be hyperbolic exaggerations in even the most forgiving of critiques, might be more a symptom of being a geek. If the stereotype of a comic book store where a guy called Captain Sweatpants shops cuts a little too close to the bone, perhaps it is because the intended hyperbole lands close to the truth. (True story: a fat kid in a tee shirt and sweatpants was in Barnes & Noble last week while I was there, browsing through the manga with solidly one half of his crack hanging out. He did not appear out of place.)

The one admirable quality of The Big Bang Theory is how the show actually takes all of its primary geek characters and makes them incredibly successful. None of them are unemployed. Most of them are in meaningful relationships. They enjoy their lives and are passionate about the things they love, just like all of the real geeks I know. It’s a third-tier sitcom, folks. Considering where the bar is set, perhaps we can give BBT a little leeway.

The Big Bang Theory isn’t the greatest show ever to hit television. It does boil the diaspora of geek culture down to a dozen or so easy-to-digest stereotypes. But these geeks are the heroes of this show. In the end, they are going to win their battles. The finale of BBT, whenever it comes, will feel clunky and awkward but even those of us who have lost interest by then watch for sentimental reasons. Penny and Leonard? I’m pretty sure they’ll end up together, just like Ross and Rachel. None of this may convince this blog’s proprietor to change his mind about the show. The jokes are still going to be sitcom lame (or sitcom funny, which is still several rungs below “belly laugh”) but because the jokes involve things geeks love, that lameness can be damning. Still, the jokes aren’t so bad in the context of the sitcom milieu. In fact, they are often better than average, even if ”average” is like being the valedictorian of Summer School.

And they’re more than good enough to keep on during the dinner hour, if only to see the little Future Geek in my house throw his arms in the air for that final BANG.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Follow up: How To Talk Sports (When You Don't Know Jack About Sports)

Chris Brennaman has been asked to share more about the article "How To Talk Sports (When You Don't Know Jack About Sports)" with Ricki Camillieri from Huffington Post.

Take a look at the interview here.

To read the article, click here.

Friday, January 18, 2013

My Downton Abbey Cry For Help

As my wife and I finally sit down to catch back up on Downton Abbey, I’m once again left scratching my head, wondering why in the hell I’m so hooked on this show. Because I shouldn’t be. At all. On the surface it seems specifically designed to repel me in the same way football, basketball and most other athletic events do. There's no over the top gun play, no vulgarity, no super powers, no time travel, no mysteries wrapped in enigmas hidden under statues of three-toed monsters, nothing. But it doesn’t repel me. It sucks me in and burrows into my very soul.

Not only that, but I’ve realized that I can’t even be quiet about it. No, I have to talk about it to anyone who will listen. This is odd because there is a very real and vocal part of my brain that is telling me to be quiet, that I’m losing scores of not only cool points, but man points as well. But there I am, telling anyone who’ll listen about my love for the show and why they should watch it as well. I actually talk about Lord Grantham, Mary, Matthew, Cora, Edith, Mr. Bates and The Dowager Countess of Grantham like they're not only real people, but people everyone is already familiar with.

Did you know I do a mean Mr. Carson impression? Seriously, I worked hard on that shit. Yeah...

I really and truly just don’t get it.

If you’re expecting some kind essay on how I can tie Downton Abbey back to comics, or draw some parallel to Star Trek or anything like that, don’t bother. That’s not what this post is all about it. I think this is part confession, part cry for help, part ploy to get even more unwitting fools like me hooked on the black tar heroine that is the daily life of the Crawley family and their devoted serving staff.

I mean… Shit. I cried last night. When Lady Sybil’s baby was born, everything seemed fine, you know? She was out of the woods, wasn't she? She was happy, Tom was happy, everyone was so happy! God, life is so unfair and cruel and...

I need help. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Yes. The Shadow Might be Cooler Than Batman

As much as I love super heroes, there’s a large part of my heart that will always belong to the pulp heroes of old. I think this is because before I got into comics, I stumbled across some reprints that my dad had lying around (odd in hindsight considering dad ain’t a reader). I was familiar with Doc Savage, Conan the Barbarian and The Shadow long before I discovered The Fantastic Four, The X-Men or The Justice League of America. I read super hero comics more than anything else, but every so often, I spend a large swathe of time getting to know my dear, old friends.

And so it was this past weekend that I found myself immersed in the world of Lamont Cranston that I came to a stark, harsh realization; The Shadow (one of the inspirations for Batman no less) is much cooler on almost every level than Batman.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Batman. I’m very pro Batman. I will end friendships if I so much as suspect someone isn’t pro Batman. But rereading some of the old pulps featuring The Shadow, listening to the old radio dramas and even digging into the new series from Dynamite Entertainment, it was a truth I just couldn’t ignore. At least, not anymore.

The Shadow is a Better Dresser

I’m not knocking the way Batman dresses. He’s Batman. He looks cool as hell and the costume works. It’s the definition of awesome. But The Shadow, man, just look at that snazzy dresser. It’s one thing to take to the streets to pound out injustice in a custom made suit with a layer of armor that strikes fear into the hearts of that cowardly and superstitious lot we call criminals, but to do the same thing wearing a finely tailored suit, trench coat and fedora? That takes a certain level of class and hardass that most of us will never achieve. Not to mention the element of surprise fighting crime in a nice suit provides. You expect the crazy asshole in the bat suit to beat the shit out of you. The guy dressed like he’s got dinner reservations at a 5 Star restaurant? Not so much.

The Shadow Doesn’t Seem to Have Intimacy Issues

By all accounts, it is next to impossible for Bruce Wayne to have any kind of meaningful, long term relationship with a woman. The Batman can thwart The Joker, overcome debilitating back injury and even take down the entirety of The Justice League of America, but when it comes to having a mature, adult relationship with Silver St. Cloud, Selina Kyle or anyone else? Forget about it. Not so for The Shadow. Sure, like Batman, when Lamont Cranston/Kent Allard is in crime fighting mode, he’s all business. He takes to the streets with a singular focus and even uses most of his vast fortune to wage his bloody war on crime. But the guy is still able to make time with Margo Lane. In fact, he goes one further and even let’s her help out in his above the law war on crime. Margo Lane is his implied lover, his friend, his confidant and his partner. The Shadow knows how to treat a woman.

You Don’t Get A Do-Over With The Shadow

It’s a cliché at this point among fans when it comes to The Joker making Batman look more than a little impotent. Depending on the source, The Joker has killed anywhere from thousands to hundreds of thousands. Sure, Batman always stops him before things get outright Hellish, but everyone knows that sooner or later (sooner, always sooner), The Joker is going to bust out of Arkham, wrack up an absurdly high body count, rinse and repeat. I know, I know, there’s a line Batman doesn’t want to cross, if he kills he’s no better than the criminals, blah, blah, blah. The Shadow don’t care about that shit. He cares about not having hundreds of thousands of innocent people dying. Batman talks about waging a war or crime, but he really isn’t. In war, people die. That’s a fact, as unfortunate as that is. The Shadow understands that in a war, the key is taking the enemy’s will and ability to fight, and that means crossing the line Batman can’t bring himself to cross.

The Shadow’s Stories Have a Better Setting

Gotham City is one of the most iconic fictional cities ever. Even if you’re not reading a Batman comic, you know when a character has stumbled into this metropolis. It’s dark, it’s brooding. It’s a cool place to fight crime. But let’s face it, when it comes to fighting crime, 30’s and 40’s New York City is where it’s at. You don’t have to draw from multiple sources of inspiration to make the cityscape standout because New York at that time had such a singular look. Then there’re the more sinister options available. Not only do you have access to run-of-the-mill criminals, racketeers and gangers (with Tommy guns no less), but now you have access to the most awesome set of villains ever; Real, authentic Nazis. Not Neo Nazis, not unfrozen Nazis, not time displaced Nazis. No, we’re talking to real McCoy, folks. Nazis decked out in Hugo Boss designed uniforms wrecking shit on Hitler’s direct orders. Batman may have The Joker, but he most certainly doesn’t have to face the evil of The Third Reich.

The Shadow Rubs Your Impending Doom in Your Face

Something sinister is going down in Gotham City, Batman’s gonna show up, whip you silly, maybe hang you by your ankles from a lamp post and then he’s gone.  The only talking going on is happening in his head. Batman’s big on self-narration. Dude is in and out before anyone can finish the sentence “It’s the Bat!” He brings the hurt, but not so much with the shame (besides, you know, hanging you from a lamp post) The Shadow, however, makes you feel like an ass. There you are, down on the docks, smuggling a shipment of opium into the city when you hear… laughter. Deep laughter. Haunting laughter. You don’t know where it’s coming from, but you know what it means. Then, just to rub salt in the wound, a voice that seems to come from everywhere calls you out by name and lists the atrocities you’ve committed over the years, in front of your friends, no less. Sure, you’ve got your gun drawn, and true enough, you’ve got some henchmen armed to the teeth. But you know how this ends. Any second now that laughter’s going to stop, the list will end, and then it’s hot death for you.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The New 52, Wonder Woman and a Formal Apology

I haven’t really made any secret about my not being a fan of DC’s The New 52. In fact, after sampling most of the line, I wrote DC off shortly after the line’s launch and haven’t looked back. And I’ve been relatively happy in that decision as I’ve had folks fill me in on the various story developments for the last year and a half.

Well, as it turns out, I shouldn’t have written the entire line off as this weekend, a good friend demanded that I buy and read Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman series. After a little hemming and hawing, I caved. I read Wonder Woman. Scratch that, I devoured it. In a few short hours, I caught up with the series and was actually angry when I finally caught up and had nothing new to read.  

So here I am now, standing before you all, admitting that I was wrong. Not about The New 52 as a whole. No, I still think most of that is kind of a hot mess. I was wrong about there being nothing for me.


Azarello gives us what is, for my money, the best iteration of the character we’ve ever gotten. Make no mistake, there have been great runs on Wonder Woman, but they're few and far between and the character always seems to be one that writers struggle with. She’s in man’s world on a mission of peace, but she’s also a warrior. Kinda hard to rationalize a message of peace when you’re always kicking ass.

So Azzarello has gotten rid of the mission of peace. But here’s the thing, this version of Wonder Woman will always try the peaceful resolution to a conflict before tearing someone a new one. Hell, there’s more than a couple of fights that end with Wonder Woman winning her opponent over via dialog instead of fisticuffs.


Wonder Woman has always been steeped in Greek mythology and the gods and goddesses have always retained an old world look and feel about them. Azzarello keeps the Greek pantheon, but along with artist Cliff Chiang, has updated each one to operate in a modern setting. Ares is an old, almost emotionless man seemingly unphased by anything except extreme acts of violence. Eros has traded his bow and arrow for pistols and Eris is a bitchy alt girl. They still embody forces of nature and human emotions, but they also live firmly in this 21st Century.


A key part of the Wonder Woman origin has always been that she was molded from clay by her mother Hippolyta and granted life by the gods. Azzarello made a big change to this and it was one that some fans were outraged over. Wonder Woman has been rebooted quite a few times, and there have ben multiple changes to the character, but the sculpted-from-clay origin has always been left intact. And it seemed that way in this new series until Azzarello reveals a few issues in that Wonder Woman was lied to. Her mother did not sculpt her from clay. Wonder Woman is actually a daughter of Zeus himself, her true origin kept a secret for fear (rightfully so) that an angry Hera would seek revenge. A huge departure from tradition to be sure, but one that just makes sense. It not only explains why Wonder Woman is stronger than your average Amazon, but it makes her whole existence more…. Mythological. I’m actually surprised it took more than 70 years for this reveal to happen.


We’re seeing a lot of artists working for the Big Two these days that up until a few years ago would never have been allowed to do their thing on a franchise character. But you know what? We’re all the better for it, and such is the case with Wonder Woman and Cliff Chiang. I can’t heap enough praise on his art. I just can’t. Suffice it to say that as much as Brian Azzarello is redefining everything that is awesome about the character, so too is Cliff Chiang redefining the character’s look and the world she operates in.

This current run of Wonder Woman isn’t just a standout for DC’s line, but it’ll be one of those runs that people look back as being a defining moment for the character. This series will be the one people hand to readers both old and new who want to know why Wonder Woman matters.

And I’m kicking myself in the ass for joining the party so late. So, sorry New 52. It turns out there is one book that is for me.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Atheism and All-New X-Men #5

In this week's All-New X-men #5, Henry “The Beast” McCoy is dying. A lot of people go to a lot of trouble to make sure that doesn’t happen, with the big reveal of the issue being a new look for the perpetually mutating founding X-Man. But Beast’s new look wasn't the issue's standout. No, the standout was this exchange:

Okay, so Hank McCoy is an atheist. He doesn't believe in Heaven nor does he believe in Hell. On the surface, this should make perfect sense. An adventuring, furry blue mutant he may be, but he’s also widely hailed as one of the top scientific minds in the Marvel Universe, right there behind Reed Richards, Tony Stark and Hank Pym. He may spend the bulk of his time fighting evil mutants and training kids in the danger room, but first and foremost, he is a man of science, not faith.

But he's not a scientist in our world. Hank McCoy is a scientist in the Marvel Universe where things like Heaven, Hell, and the presence of an all-powerful creator aren’t matters of faith. They’re actual scientific fact. In fact, I’d argue that as both a scientist AND superhero in the Marvel Universe, Hank McCoy should have absolutely no reason to doubt the existence of the hereafter.

Not only have a growing segment of his colleagues died and returned (multiple times even), but as a former Avenger, Hank has fought side-by-side with not one, but two gods in Thor and Hercules. He’s directly interacted with numerous Asgardians and Olympians, both pantheons having given unquestionable evidence time after time that their respective afterlives are legit. Multiple superheroes have been to Valhalla, Hel, the Elysian Fields and Hades and interacted with the dead there.

Hank McCoy has worked side-by-side with folks like Doctor Strange, Brother Voodoo, Ghost Rider and Son of Satan. He’s seen spirits raised, demons bargained with and even met Mephisto. No, Mephisto isn’t THE devil, but he runs his own hell filled with souls of the dead.

Then there’s the fact that two of his scientific peers, Victor von Doom and Reed Richards, have not only acknowledged that the afterlife does, in fact exist, but have even physically explored it. Reed's even he met and conversed with God.

No, not a god. God.

In the Marvel Universe, the questions of whether or not there’s an afterlife or not and whether or not there’s a God aren't metaphysical questions. They're proven fact. Given that Hank McCoy is a man of science, isn’t it a bit counterintuitive in the face of such overwhelming evidence to the contrary to be an atheist in his particular reality?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Every Pop Culture Reference from Tarantino Movies

I freely and openly admit to worshiping at the alter of Quentin Tarantino.This video from College Humor? It's just a reminder why. This has every pop culture reference from Tarantino movies save Django Unchained. True Romance, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, From Dusk Till Dawn, Four Rooms, Jackie Brown, Death Proof, Kill Bill Vol.1, Kill Bill Vol. 2, Inglorious Basterds, they're all here. All in under six minute.

Tarantino nirvana.


LA Times Readers Hate Avengers And Very Likely Freedom

As the headline reads over on the LA Times website, The Avengers was not only voted the most overrated movie of 2012 by the publications readers, but evidently took the title by "a landslide". From the article:
"According to more than 2,600 respondents to a Times online survey Joss Whedon's get-the-band-together take on the iconic superheroes was the most overpraised feature film of 2012."
 I mean.... really? Not the one long plot hole that was The Dark Knight Rises? Not the overly self-important Lincoln? The most overpraised movie of 2012 was the super hero movie that was damn near perfect?

I'm going to go crack open a bottle of Scotch and spend the rest of the day trying to process this one.

Remember That Django Unchained TV Series?

No. Of course you don't. That would be silly because there was no Django Unchained TV series.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Back From The Holiday (and Illness)

I had absolutely every intention of maintaining this fine blog during the Christmas break, but damn if I wasn’t knocked on my ass pretty quickly. Nothing takes the wind out of your sails quite like fever, lots of head and chest congestion and constant and steady hacking.

But I’m back and the world (or so I tell myself) needs that special Chris Brennaman brand of pop culture commentary. So what’d I miss?


All I can say about this is that I wish him a speedy and full recovery. Not only is he a legendary comics writer, but the man is beyond a class act. Sending nothing but positive thoughts to him and his family.


I was fighting this one. I really was. When the reviews started to come in that Jackson may have overclocked his translation, I was certain it was just the haters doing their usual hateful thing. But as I say in the movie theater, I spent the better part of the first two hours fighting the growing feeling that the move just felt… padded. Make no mistake, Peter Jackson brings it, but he may have brought too much. Scenes start too soon, end too late and the whimsical nature of the source material gives way to a darkening tone that’s trying really, really hard to be the perfect prequel to The Lord of the Rings. Yes, The Hobbit is something of a prequel, but to me it’s first and foremost a tale written for children about a wizard, some dwarves and a Halfling going on a magical adventure to slay a dragon. Here’s hoping parts 2 and 3 don’t feel so drawn out.


Look, at this point when it comes to Quentin Tarantino, you should know what to expect from one of his movies, especially his work over the last decade. And if you’re a fan, which you ought to be, then this movie just kills. Not quite as brilliant as Inglorious Basterds, but close, Django Unchained is a beautiful genre mash-up that actually manages to create a new one, The Southern. All parties involved do some outstanding work, but for me, the real beauty was seeing Leonardo DiCaprio take a turn as a charmingly vile and reprehensible villain. The movie has caught flak for using a certain racial slur, and it seems a lot of the criticism stems from the movie not being a message movie yet still using said term. All I can say about that is that as a dye-in-the-wool liberal, each use of the word felt earned, and the majority black audience I saw the flick with didn’t seem bothered. In fact, most were quoting and rehashing choice moments from the flick on their way out of the theater.