Renaissance News Vol. 2 Issue 5

Have you been experiencing fatigue and headaches? Does it seem oddly bright to you at evening? Join my campaign against the evil Time Changer Man and regain our hour of stolen sweet darkness! I will not rest….really, I won’t, so I have all kinds of time to whip the staff here into an unruly mob in chase of TCM. Oh I’m coming for you, clockman. In the meantime, let’s see what bits of tid have washed upon our shores this week.

  • We have a Captain! After an exhaustive casting search, Chris Evans (Fantastic Four) has signed a 9 film deal to star as Captain America. The first film in the contract will be The First Avenger: Captain America, which is slated for summer 2012. This was the last great never-cast super hero role so there’s no comparisons to be made, but I definitely think Evans can pull it off. Marvel has a great casting record since taking control of their film properties, and this looks like a great next step towards the geeky dream of an all-star Avengers film.
  • Across the street at DC, we’re finally going to start getting more than Batman and Superman movies. After a decade of using the Harry Potter films as their tentpole releases, the strategy will be to make DC super hero fare the new staples of summer and holiday release schedules. This will begin in 2011 with Green Lantern and continue into 2012 with, reportedly, Flash and Batman 3.
  • Because everything (including real life) is in 3D, Nintendo is releasing a 3D successor to the DS, called 3DS (money was spent on developing that name) in March 2011.
  • Will Smith’s next project will either be Men in Black 3 or the fantastical drama The City That Sailed.
  • DVD street date time!
    ER: The Complete Thirteenth Season July 6th
    Rhoda: The Complete Third Season July 6th
  • In this week’s “enormous waste of talent” news, Jamie Foxx is writing a big screen version of Laverne & Shirley for Jennifer Garner and Jessica Biel. Why?
  • If I seem like I’m getting annoyed at reporting 3D news, it’s because I am. This is not new. This will not last. This does not enhance EVERY FILM EVER MADE. Grrr. Sigh, Fox will be releasing Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Gulliver’s Travels this holiday season in ….wait for it….3D.
  • Unnecessary fourth films time! Scream 4 and Spy Kids 4 will both be coming in 2011 and, yes, they’ll be in 3D.
  • John Malkovich and Frances McDormand have signed on for Transformers 3: Further Bastardization of My Childhood.
  • Next year’s Golden Globes will take place on January 16th and will air on NBC.
  • Geoffery Rush will return as Captain Barbarossa in Pirates of Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides.
  • Director Bryan Singer will return to the X-Men franchise for X-Men: First Class which serves as a prequel to the first three movies. He’s also interested in directing X-Men 4 and Wolverine 2.
  • Many of you were terribly upset by the glaring lack of Smurfs casting news in last week’s edition. For those sick people….Hank Azaria IS Gargamel. Suck on that.
  • Director Louis Leterrier (Incredible Hulk) is on the short list for the Avengers movie and revealed in an interview that his upcoming Clash of the Titans was written as the first part of a trilogy (should the first do well at the box office).
  • Tim Burton is working on a 3D animated version of The Addams Family.
  • Sony Pictures is developing a CGI animated film for Popeye.
  • Box Office
    1. Alice in Wonderland $34.5 million (up to $265 million domestic total)
    2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid $21.8 million
    3. Bounty Hunter $21 million
    4. Repo Men $6.2 million
    5. She’s Out of My League $6 million
  • Rolling Stone Album Chart
    1. “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum
    2. “Here I Am” by Marvin Sapp
    3. “Battle of the Sexes” by Ludacris
    4. “The Edge” by Various Artists
    5. “The Fame” by Lady Gaga
  • Best Selling Video Games
    1. Final Fantasy XIII, PS3
    2. Final Fantasy XIII, XBOX 360
    3. Battlefield: Bad Company 2, XBOX 360
    4. Battlefield: Bad Company 2, PS3
    5. Wii Sports, Wii
  • New York Times Hardcover Fiction Bestsellers
    1. House Rules by Jodi Picoult
    2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
    3. The Silent Sea by Clive Cussler
    4. Star Wars: Backlash by Aaron Allston
    5. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame Smith

Planetary

Planetary combined writer Warren Ellis and artist John Cassaday on a project that exhibited both their amazing ability to do mind popping science fiction and their unfortunate tendency to become extraordinarily distracted. Despite the latter, to which we’ll return, Planetary is a landmark series and now that it’s (FINALLY) done, I went back and read it from the beginning recently.

Planetary operates from the concept that the world is a strange place and it needs to be kept that way. The Planetary Foundation works to make that a consistent reality under the leadership of the enigmatic and pigmentally-challenged Elijah Snow. The series works best as a series of short stories that work together to build this strange world. For example one story focuses on a disaster that occurs when a private foundation creates a such a completely believable fictional reality that it becomes possible to send a ship full of fictionauts into that reality and extract a character. Planetary has tons of mindbending, huge science fiction concepts like this that are tremendous amounts of fun to read. John Cassaday is my favorite artist in comics and Planetary showcases his ability to visualize difficult concepts in such detail that you can spend 20 minutes looking at one of his pages drinking in all the nuance.

Most of, if not all, of Planetary’s problem stem from the fact that this is a 27 issue series. Most comics come out monthly so, in theory, Planetary should have taken a hair under two years to complete. It took ten. That’s ten years. Sometimes several years would pass inbetween issues, which is not an unheard of problem for Warren Ellis books. His amazing Fell at Image had a great first trade come out that collected the first eight issues and since then one issue has come out. That was April 2008. One issue in two years. This sort of delay can lead to some narrative lapses that become apparent even when reading the whole series in one sitting. Lord alone knows how anyone could be expected to follow Planetary’s larger, overarching plotlines. Those plots are all interesting, don’t get me wrong. They center around the idea that children born on January 1, 1900-so called “century children”- were imbued with immortality, special gifts, and a purpose. Planetary is really the story of Elijah Snow figuring out what his purpose is as the second century of his life begins. That story gets pretty trampled upon and buried during the middle of Planetary’s run. I don’t know if it was Ellis’ intention to originally have this be a much longer series, but there’s a whole lot of stuff going on and not a lot of resolution happening until the final arc of the series. That resolution is satisfying, the imagination of the book is always stunning, and Cassady’s art is flawless throughout, but when you read Planetary you can’t help but wonder what it could have been if it had just been a little bit more.
8.0/10

Brackets and Who Broke Yours?

I fully admit that this post was originally scheduled for last Thursday, but due to a combination of back injury and subsequent happy-time-medication, it was not completed. Originally I was going to share my brilliant analysis of the NCAA brackets and ask who people had in the Final 4. However, thanks to Northern Iowa University, my bracket is in a very sorry state indeed. My final four was Duke, Kansas St., and Kentucky (who are all still alive) as well as the Kansas Jayhawks who blew up spectacularly in the second round. Are any of your four still alive? How goes the state of your brackets, people?

Renaissance News Vol. 2 Issue 4

If you are like me (and statistically it’s unlikely you are), then you are still reeling from the heinous theft of an hour from your day. Although the staff and I here are squinty-eyed and headachey, we rally for you! After all, without us, who will bring you the bits of arcane knowledge you need to shame your co-workers and family into stunned silence?

  • Are you needing more guns with attached chainsaws in your life? The answer can only be YES YES YES! Gears of War 3 is rumored to be launching in April 2011, though Epic Games is being coy about confirming the rumor. And by “coy” I mean they are saying “no”. But I do not believe their tricksy lies!
  • A Game-of-the-Year edition of Batman Arkham Asylum will be heading to consoles on May 11th with a 3D upgrade (complete with glasses) and all released DLC maps.
  • Filming on The Hobbit will begin in June with an eye towards a holiday 2012 release of the first of the two Lord of the Rings prequel films.
  • Paranormal Activity 2 is scheduled for an October 22nd release, which is pretty darn optimistic considering that not only has filming not started, but they are still looking for a director and “fleshing out the story”. The first one was a fun indie aberration. Why are they doing this?
  • Avatar will hit DVD on April 22nd. Why then? Oh because it’s the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Yes, seriously. Other recently announced DVD street dates:
    Alice in Wonderland (yep the one that came out 2 weeks ago) June 29th
    Entourage: The Complete Sixth Season June 22nd
    Legion May 11th
    Nine May 4th
    The Road May 25th
  • Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) will co-write and star in Disney’s upcoming The Greatest Muppet Movie of All-Time.
  • More Captain America casting rumors. To the four actors from last week, you can add Channing Tatum and Ryan Phillipe. Marvel is also looking to cast the female lead and is talking to Alice Eve, Keira Knightley, and Emily Blunt. The villain is confirmed to be the Red Skull and Hugo Weaving has been offered the role.
  • Martin Scorcese is making a film for kids. This, according to the Bible, is the final and most damning sign of the impending apocalypse. Scorcese will be adapting the award-winning book The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Ben Kingsley and Sascha Baron Cohen have already signed on to star.
  • David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac) will next direct a biopic on American chess phenom Bobby Fischer called Pawn Sacrifice.
  • Temeura Morrison (Star Wars Episode II) has joined the cast of Green Lantern as Abin Sur, the Lantern who passes his ring onto Hal Jordan.
  • Mission: Impossible star Peter Graves has passed away at the age of 83.
  • Though Kick Ass has yet to be released, work is underway on Kick Ass 2, which will be darker than the original. This, for people who have read the comic, should scare you senseless. By the way, my idea for the sequel’s title, Kick Ass 2: Kick Assier, has fallen upon deaf ears.
  • Shooting started this week on the new Conan the Barbarian movie as two more join the cast. Rose McGowan will play a witch (insert joke here) and Ron Perlman, in the second best role of his career, will play Conan’s dad. I now want to see this.
  • Clint Eastwood’s next directorial project will examine the life of controversial FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
  • Titanic will be re-released in 3D. There. I reported it.
  • The third season of HBO’s True Blood will begin on June 13th.
  • CBS has canceled Numb3rs after six seasons.
  • Box Office
    1. Alice in Wonderland $62.7 million
    2. Green Zone $14.3 million
    3. She’s Out of My League $9.3 million
    4. Shutter Island $8.1 million
    5. Remember Me $8.1 million
  • Rolling Stones Top Albums
    1. “Battle of the Sexes” by Ludacris
    2. “Plastic Beach” by Gorillaz
    3. “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum
    4. “Valleys of Neptune” by Jimi Hendrix
    5. “Get Off on the Pain” by Gary Allan
  • Bestselling Video Games
    1. Battlefield: Bad Company 2, XBOX 360
    2. Battlefield: Bad Company 2, PS3
    3. Wii Sports, Wii
    4. Heavy Rain, PS3
    5. New Super Mario Bros., Wii
  • New York Times Hardcover Fiction Bestsellers
    1. House Rules by Jodi Picoult
    2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
    3. Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb
    4. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahme-Smith
    5. Worst Case by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

An Open Letter to the Time Changer

Dear Time Changer Person:

I would like to file a formal complaint on behalf of the earth people that you have so blithely screwed with this past week. Perhaps you sit on your large throne composed entirely of clocks and giggle at our fickle body clocks. Maybe you’re wacky like that. I bet you pulled the legs off of insects when you were a time child, didn’t you, you sick son of a…..ok, sorry, got a little caught up and I promised I’d get this out without screaming.

Re: the time change. We don’t like it. Well, let me be specific. We like the fall time change. That was a solid idea. I’ll give you props for that. The whole “fall back” idea. Very marketable. We, as humans, enjoy falling back. Need an extra hour? Oh, well I just happen to have one right here. Enjoy that. Good concept, “fall back”. I don’t want you to think that I’m criticizing all your initiatives. No, I want to discuss the “spring forward” initiative.

As Grant Exalted Time Lord of the Cosmos, you probably have some grasp of the amount of sleep that we humans get. You know what? Screw the other humans. Let’s just talk about me, because that’s what I’m getting at here with this letter. I do not sleep much. Never have. Sleep and I are not close friends the way that you are with, say, Satan. Even on weekends, I don’t rake in a tremendous amount of z’s. So when a certain entity comes along and takes one of those hours away; just yanks it flat out of existence much like the legs off of so many small helpless animals, I’m left with-do the math-one…less…hour…of…sleep.

One hour may not seem like much time to you. You have lots of hours. I’m sure you keep all your hours in a giant hour bin and swim through them for recreation Scrooge McDuck-style. Sleep-wise, I am lucky to get five hours. Four is a common sleep number. Let’s go with four. So you come sauntering along down Time Lane, kicking babies and lighting shrubbery on fire, and use your stopwatch nunchukas to obliterate one of my hours. What is the matter? What kind of impact does this have? Well I’ll tell you, you sadistic personification. My four hours of sleep are now three hours of sleep. Just because you sprung everything the heck forward, doesn’t mean my personal body clock (or “demon” as faithfully translated from the original Latin) has adjusted. I’m staring bleary-eyed at coffee which is proving about as useful as fish oil in getting me going in the mornings. I’m considering taking up crystal meth. The entire world appears to be out of focus and everyone is talking too loudly. Now had I been drunk the last few nights and this were all some awful hangover, I could take responsibility for my actions. But I do not have TIME to get drunk. You did this! You and your hour stealing, soul crunching madness.

But I will not just sit here and complain without offering a solution. I’m not like that. I’m not just some crazy blogger writing a letter to the Time Lord of Space. That would be ludicrous. I’m here to offer a solution. You want to screw with time? Fine. You have a great idea with “fall back”. Great ideas should be implemented more often and to greater effect. Currently you are futzing with our heads twice a year. I will trade you “spring forward” for the opportunity to futz monthly with the entire human race. That’s a sweet deal. That’s sextupling your human meddling! All I ask is you just continually give us hours instead of taking them away. Let’s fall back every month. Yes, yes, things with the sun may become a bit uncoordinated, but that’s not my department, nor yours. You’ve got the hours and you like to watch humanity stumble about like drunken gerbils! It’s a total win for all involved. In fact, I’m so convinced at you enthusiasm for this new plan, I’m going to set my clock back right now. Should this cause me any problems with my place of employment, I will list you as a reference. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Dave

PS- I also have ideas about leap years and where you may stick them, but we can talk about that in a future communique.

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