I do comedy, comics, and write about pretty much most things entertainment related. So that's nice.
You can contact me at:
Cell Phone: (347) 742-8562
E-Mail: azalben (at) gmail (dot) com
It’s almost New Year’s, and that means its time for resolutions. Normally I haven’t bothered a whole lot with ‘em, because I know I (like most of the world) will break them in a few weeks time. So I try to stay manageable.
For example, the past two years, I resolved not to use my cell phone for a full day. Totally crushed it both years.
This year though, I’m going to try something a little more massive, and to do it properly I’m going to do it publicly… Because otherwise lack of pressure will probably make it fade away.
My New Year’s Resolution is to post things that I liked every single day, for an entire year.
There are two specific goals here:
Goal #1: The Internet, as well as myself, are generally pretty negative… To put it lightly. It’s way easier to focus on things that are bad, than things that are good. So in an effort to get myself thinking more positively, I’m going to post anything positive I encountered during a given day as a list at the end of the day. My hope is that rather than snarking instantly at everything, I’ll eventually be driven to search out things that I like in an effort to fill out the daily blog post.
Goal #2: It’s really hard to make year end lists and remember what happened back in January. For the past few years, I’ve actually kept a monthly list of comic books I liked, so I could do a monthly round-up – something I’ll be starting again on MTV News in a few days time. But I don’t just write about comics, I also write about movies, TV, and pop culture stuff. So in a year’s time, when I have to look back fondly on 2014, I won’t just remember what happened post-Halloween, I’ll be able to say, “Oh yeah! That was a great book,” or recipe, or picture, or whatever.
So there you go. This is a project I’m doing for myself, which could be potentially annoying to others since I’ll be sharing it on Tumblr (which means also on Twitter [which means also on Facebook]). But hopefully it’ll end up being a way I can share things I like with other people who are looking to like things in 2014, and maybe they’ll share some things back my way? Who knows?
In any case, I’ll be starting this on January 1st… And if we’re being honest, this post itself isn’t so much an announcement, as a way of forcing myself to actually start the project. Stay tuned.
Side-note: I really don’t like ‘The Sound of Music’ at all. Thought I’d get that out of the way while I still can.
Moviegoers have laid down the gauntlet with the results of this weekend’s box office, and the message is clear: female led films just don’t work, but films with thirteen dwarves in them definitely do.
"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" isn’t just the fourth highest opening for a December released movie ever, it’s the second highest opening for a movie featuring thirteen dwarves of all time.
Compare that to the animated musical “Frozen,” which fell to an embarrassing second place after four weeks of release, or “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” which has only grossed a pitiful $735 million dollars worldwide since it hit theaters a month ago. Both have female leads, and both are, by any standard, tanking.
On the other hand, movies with thirteen dwarves in them look like a sure bet.
When “The Hunger Games” sequel opened a month ago, Hollywood insiders cautiously analyzed the box office opening of $158 million, which is just a fraction of the worldwide lifetime cume of “Marvel’s The Avengers” - a movie that featured a MALE archer.
Then “Frozen” opened a few days later at number two with $67.4 million, which is just sad given there were two female leads. Maybe that explains being in second place LOL?
Cut to several weeks later, and finally we have our answer on what the next big trend is in movies. It’s not female led movies: they can only break records and dominate the box office for a solid month, and that’s all. No, it’s movies with thirteen dwarves in them.
Hollywood would be smart to greenlight as many films with thirteen dwarves as possible, and soon, because that audience is hungry for more!
Not more female led movies though, that’s clearly a losing proposition.
I cried in the movie theater watching “Doctor Who” today.
And it wasn’t just because of the quality of “Day of the Doctor,” which, as television shows go, was quite the quality piece of work. And yes, it was at the emotional climax of the piece, but that’s not the reason I cried. Spoilers, by the way.
John Hurt’s Doctor has to make a choice: let the universe continue to burn in the Time War between the Daleks and the Time Lords, or destroy the two and let the universe continue. We know, because we’ve been watching “Doctor Who” since the reboot that of course he makes the choice to destroy them. And there’s even an emotional resolution to this point: Matt Smith, and David Tennant join him. They know he’s hurting, and have made the choice easier by supporting him, rather than rejecting him. Except.
There’s Clara in the back, crying, and she calls them out. She says yes, the only two choices are destruction or mutual destruction. “There is no other choice,” they all say… Except, and here’s the part that made me cry: there’s always another choice.
The past few months, approximately since June 12 when I saw “Man of Steel,” I’ve been struggling with a feeling that I was losing a battle. In that movie, Superman is also faced with a choice: he can let Zod continue his destruction and killing in Metropolis, or he can kill him. So Superman snaps Zod’s neck. I even wrote a long piece about it on MTV Geek, and how I felt it was part of a larger, longer trend of superheroes killing in movies that I hoped would reverse.
I don’t think it did, and it was underlined this past week on “Arrow.” I couldn’t watch “Arrow” last season, because he straight up executed people, and it sickened me. This year I started watching again, and it’s become kind of great. Oliver Queen realized killing wasn’t the only way, and to inspire people he had to be something better. Then on this week’s episode his friend Felicity got in trouble, and to save her he killed a villain.
Queen looked troubled, and I thought the arc would be that he’s put in a tight spot, reverts to old habits, and learns they’re wrong, again. Except it wasn’t. The arc was actually about Felicity realizing it’s okay to kill people sometimes, like when she gets in trouble.
This is about when I started to lose hope.
See, I’m a Dad, and when I think of kids, particularly my kid growing up in a world with superheroes who see no other option but to murder, I start to think that maybe I’m missing something. Maybe society has moved on from superheroes saving people, and I haven’t. The old chestnut is, “Why doesn’t Batman kill The Joker?” But if Batman was invented today, would he have murdered The Joker after his first appearance? Almost assuredly.
And then today, watching “The Day of The Doctor,” it felt like a dam broke. Seeing The Doctors realize that they didn’t have to kill everyone, that between three of them if they just thought, just for a moment, they could come up with another solution made me weep, not with sadness, but with joy.
Here, right here, in one of the biggest cultural milestones of the year, was a reiteration of everything I love about watching and reading hero stories. Here were heroes being heroes. Knowing there’s no hope, no chance, and taking one anyway.
Do Daleks die? Yes. Did some Time Lords die. Surely. And is there a chance, after they lock Gallifrey away in a moment, everything can go wrong? Given Matt Smith is heading there next episode, and that’s his last, well, duh.
But they TRY, and this is the crucial point. The Doctor makes an attempt to think beyond the two choices, the impossible conundrum put before him, and he figures it out. And you know who that was up to? The writer. That was Moffat, looking at the situation, saying, “How do I solve this?” and then coming up with a way, in the script, he could make it work.
That’s the inspiration we need. That’s what heroes need to be, and once were. And if a fifty-year-old program can show us it’s possible, that’s the way they can be again.
We need that. We need to know there’s another choice other than killing, so that we can become the screenwriters of our own lives, and our children can do the same for their lives. We can take control, and realize that beyond killing, or mutual destruction, there’s always a third choice.
That’s what heroes are, and can be again. If we want them to be. And then maybe I can stop crying in movie theaters.
You guys!!! Dan Starkey - Strax on Doctor Who - will be LIVE on Comic Book Club, Tuesday June 18th in NYC!
Will he sing Rudolph?
Or perhaps he’ll run into some problems getting to the show:
Whatever happens, we have a good idea of what he’ll want to do when he gets there:
…Or maybe we’ll just talk about comics and geeky stuff. Who knows? IT’S FREE!!!
Tuesday, June 18th – 7pm
Tickets: FREE! (21+)
105 Eldridge St.
[Btwn. Grand and Broome St.]
See you there, potato heads?