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August 5, 2014 at 10:06am

Nerd Alert! - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and female superheroes

The tide is turning against Michael Bay’s rampant profiteering, and his wholly unnecessary reboot of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" may be the undertow that finally drags him down. Photo credit: Moviestore Collection/REX

FRIDAY, AUG. 8: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

Now, Michael Bay has become death, destroyer of worlds. Well, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it's the fastest road to the emotional truth of a sea of nerds seeing what he's done to their beloved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There's a point that comes in every nerd's life when he or she must confront the fact that Donatello has a nose and lips, now, and there's nothing anyone can do or say to stop it. This threshold has arrived, and we must all take a long, hard look in the mirror come this Friday, when the Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles splats onto the big screen. We must, at long last, admit to ourselves that we are truly the ones who are at fault.

We made Michael Bay too powerful, and now he cannot be stopped. Much like Super Shredder at the end of The Secret of the Ooze, Michael Bay has mutated into a monster after coming into contact with toxic sludge (the millions of dollars we have nonsensically decided to give him over the years), and we are powerless to defend ourselves from his rampage. Also, like Super Shredder, I suspect Bay is secretly being puppeted by professional wrestler Kevin Nash.

If we are to rejoice - which we are not, but imagine if we were - we would take solace in the fact that Michael Bay eventually backed away from his threat to forego the mutant angle of it all, and to make the turtles aliens, which is what he had previously dangled over a helpless nation. He's like a super villain with a weather machine who, instead of ravaging the world with an eternal winter, eventually just decided to make it rain really hard for a year. Thank god for small miracles.

On a related note, please do inform me when Michael Bay literally does make a weather machine. It's only a matter of time, and I need to get a heavy coat.

SONY TO MAKE FEMALE SUPERHERO MOVIE

In an effort to end on a bright note, I bring you tentative news from the folks at Sony. After years of people getting more and more frustrated wondering why none of the pantheon of female superheroes have been given their own movie in our current glut of comic book movies (we're just gonna forget about Elektra), Sony has come forward to announce that they intend on padding out Spider-Man's already busy franchise with a film focused on one of Spidey's female associates.

While there's still no word as to what character will take the mantle, the film is already scheduled to arrive in 2017. Still, there's no shortage of women in Peter Parker's life, so it's now time for probably a year or two of idle speculation about who the film will center on. Black Cat seems like the early frontrunner, what with her appearance in the latest Amazing Spider-Man movie, but it's all still up in the air. Even so, it'd be nice for us to get a woman as the lead in a superhero movie, as opposed to just falling back on Black Widow's presence in Marvel movies to justify the disparity.

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Pop Culture, Screens,

July 28, 2014 at 2:05pm

Nerd Alert - Guardians of the Galaxy, Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda, Snowpiercer ...

The child of Sharktopus goes toe-to-toe with the latest science experiment "Pteracuda" - half Pteradactyl, half Barracuda - in a battle for monster supremacy.

Still incensed for Tatiana Maslany, this is Nerd Alert, the Weekly Volcano's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.

FRIDAY, AUG. 1

I admit it: I resisted the Guardians of the Galaxy bug as long as I could. Trisyllabic trees? Chris Pratt as a leading man named, of all things, "Star-Lord?" Space raccoons?! In spite of my lifelong devotion to space opera from Asimov's Foundation to Brian K. Vaughan's Saga, I found Guardians' teaser trailer silly and its action unpersuasive. Then the first screening was followed by a barrage of tweeted accolades. OK, well, fanboys get overexcited sometimes. (I myself was once temporarily duped by an advance crew screening into thinking Roland Emmerich's Godzilla was worth a flying frak. These things happen.) As I write this, though, major critics have begun weighing in, and RottenTomatoes.com has Guardians of the Galaxy at a staggering 100 percent positive. I can no longer maintain my skeptical stance. We appear to be looking at this summer's Avengers, a four-quadrant supernova that'll soon be part of our cultural mythos.

So here, then, is your Guardians backstory. Their first appearance (in January 1969) was in a clip-show comic, Marvel Super-Heroes, in which 31st-century "Vance Astro" and company fought an alien species alongside a chrono-ported Captain America. That team lasted through 1980, then was revived for a few months in the early '90s. They were followed by a new team, the one seen in the movie, which was compiled from existing minor characters in May of 2008. (The print Guardians add Adam Warlock and Phyla-Vell, aka Quasar.) Whether the movie hews closely to that modern comic storyline, which also features Cosmo the telepathic dog and Bug the Galactic Warrior, remains to be seen. We are sure that Thanos, a death-worshipping warlord first glimpsed in The Avengers, will turn up, as will a 1969 Guardian named Yondu Udonta. Both are fun to say while trying to keep a straight face.

If you knew none of those factoids five minutes ago, you're not alone. I had to look them up, and I read every issue of Entertainment Weekly cover to cover and keep half a toe in the comics scene as well. My overriding point is this: Marvel appears to have hit one out of the park yet again. Oh, but hey, DC! I'm sure your Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will be, you know, a thing we can watch.

In two years. Way to go.

SATURDAY, AUG. 2

Following directly on the iPad-generated tail fins of Sharknado 2: The Second One, Syfy proudly (are we sure about that?) presents Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda Saturday at 9. This is not a stellar week for TV, folks. If, then, you're sitting around the crizznib looking for something to do, might I suggest rooting through your cable provider's movie rental offerings for a little feature called Snowpiercer? Yes, I'm referring to that South Korean sci-fi action flick, which you may not realize was shot almost entirely in English. Hell, its star is Chris Evans, better known as Vance Astro's super-patriotic pal. Uncertain how to market the film to Americans, mega-producer Harvey Weinstein settled on concurrent theatrical and pay-per-view distribution. Director Bong Joon-ho, best known here for his awesome (and eco-friendly!) monster movie The Host, has clearly been studying the collected works of Terry Gilliam. I describe Snowpiercer as Brazil meets Dredd with a side of bulgogi. A Facebook friend countered with "Jean-Pierre Jeunet meets The Matrix Reloaded with a special act-three rewrite by Damon Lindelof." That works, too, but paints an unflattering portrait the film doesn't deserve. It's fairer to say it's bananas in the best possible way. Like Innerspace or Tampopo, it's so inventively bonkers it may be wedged in my noggin for years to come. Watch for blissfully over-the-top performances from Tilda Swinton and Sex Bob-Omb percussionist Alison Pill. It's worth an eight-buck rental, I can promise you that.

I'm writing this on the eve of my wife Amanda Stevens' 30-mumbleth birthday. Oncoming 40s be damned, she's still the coolest geek grrl I ever met, so we'll be spending part of it in Seattle for The Book of Mormon. Hasa diga eebowai, honey! That means "happy birthday," right?

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and may your Groot costume go over huge at Comic-Con 2015.

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Pop Culture, Screens,

July 28, 2014 at 12:21pm

Joint Base Lewis-McChord nerds and geeks unite!

8-bit hoo-ah!

Sure, there are spouses groups for Joint Base Lewis-McChord husbands and wives looking to integrate into the local community, make friends or learn more about how to navigate within the military world. There are resources galore, and yet sometimes spouses may want to connect and get together over a different topic than military resources. Spouses may simply want to get together and talk about shared interests - especially if those shared interests are something that maybe not everyone out there relates to.

For this exact reason, Monica Rice blazed a new trail and recently formed her own group - the JBLM Geeky/Nerdy Spouses, a Facebook group open to spouses of both genders so long as they identify as geeky and/or nerdy. After spending some time with the general spouse groups, she thought others out there might want to connect on all things geeky like she did.

"I'm still pretty new to the military lifestyle and haven't made many friends with spouses," says Rice. "Also, because of my passion in computers and programming, I don't have many lady friends with those same interests. I knew I couldn't have been the only woman with what I think are pretty niche hobbies, so I wanted to reach out while simultaneously forming a small network wherein all members could talk about their favorite passions without feeling like an oddity."

Read more...

July 22, 2014 at 10:26am

Nerd Alert - Weird Al Yankovic's "Mandatory Fun" and McG's Shel Silverstein

"Mandatory Fun," "Weird Al" Yankovic's 14th studio album, dropped mid-July.

"Weird Al" Yankovic's Mandatory Fun

This week finds "Weird Al" Yankovic finishing up his victory lap following the release of his latest album, Mandatory Fun. To celebrate his new release, Yankovic released eight music videos in as many days, ending with his "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" parody, "Mission Statement." As an album, Mandatory Fun finds "Weird Al" at his most mature and musically daring. Sure, he parodies all of the mega hits you'd expect, but he approaches them in a way that actually gives one insight into the way the man feels.

"Word Crimes" and "Tacky," in particular, accomplish more than their inspirations ("Blurred Lines" and "Happy," respectively). The former is a grammar nerd's dream, taking apart infuriatingly common mistakes in speech; "Tacky," meanwhile, breaks down just how garish and nonchalantly terrible and narcissistic people have become.

One of the most delightful songs on the album, "First World Problems," is interesting even apart from its social commentary. The song is a style-parody of the Pixies, which is an unexpected thing, even if you know that "Weird Al" has always been into alternative music. With jagged, surfy guitars and yelping lead vocals, it's as much of a dead-on homage as Yankovic's style-parody of the Doors ("Craigslist") was, last time around.

McG's Shel Silverstein

Now that your heart has been warmed by the resurgence of "Weird Al," it's time to balance that out with this catastrophic blow to your childhood: there is a Shel Silverstein biopic in the works, and, there's just no other way to say this, but McG is behind it. Yes, everyone's favorite absurdist children's book writer (not to mention gloriously profane and silly songwriter) is being teamed up with the man that brought us This Means War, 3 Days to Kill and the Charlie's Angels franchise.

I know there's no way to spin this as great news, but it is possible that this won't be the worst thing in the world. I mean, right? At least the notion that someone with as fascinating a life as Silverstein's is getting the film treatment is heartening. But there's a McG-shaped shadow that looms over this news, and that's just gonna be a hard one to shake. My advice: close your eyes, lock yourself in your bedroom, and recite "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout" as fast as you can, over and over again, until our long, national McG nightmare is over.

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Music, Screens,

July 14, 2014 at 12:21pm

Nerd Alert! - Sex Tape, new TV shows, Into the Wormhole, Monty Python Live (Mostly) ...

Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) in Columbia Pictures' "Sex Tape." © 2013 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Thanking Morgan Freeman our old (VHS) sex tapes predated the Cloud, this is Nerd Alert, the Weekly Volcano's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes made $73 million domestic this weekend; so, clearly, some of you caught it. Back me up on this: it's terrific, from stunning production designs to Andy Serkis' soulful, mo-cap performance as Caesar to that signature shot on a tank turret. Thanks to clear dynamics, urgent acting and a mature script, this is one of the best action movies we've seen in a long time. Special kudos to New Zealand effects shop Weta, instant frontrunner for this year's visual-effects Oscar, but all those digital simians wouldn't move us without a solid story foundation beneath them. You can skip the 3-D. Aside from that, these damn dirty Apes are well worth the cost of an evening ticket and bathtub-sized bucket of popcorn.

The biggest movie opening this weekend is Sex Tape, an allegedly raunchy comedy starring Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel and their gym-perfected naughty bits. At time of writing, critics have yet to see any of that. There are two possible reasons for this. One, the movie is guano. Two, the studio is thoughtfully trying to delay the inevitable rush of captured JPEGs to the Internet. Both, of course, could be true simultaneously. Feel free to judge for yourself starting Friday the 18th, or you could save 30 bucks and shoot an allegedly raunchy comedy of your own. Maybe start with a Vine!

THURSDAY, JULY 17

This week's telly news includes the premieres of two FX comedies in Thursday's 10 p.m. hour. First, there's Married, starring the sexy and talented Judy Greer. You won't recognize Greer from her motion-capture work as Caesar's hairy mate Cornelia, nor will her voice work as Cheryl/Cherlene on Archer be much help. You might, however, know her from The Descendants or a ton of other features and TV credits. She's a pretty big deal, so get to know her before upcoming appearances in Jurassic World and Brad Bird's Tomorrowland. At 10:30, You're the Worst stars Aya Cash and Chris Geere as two awful FBs who meet at a wedding. (He catches her stealing one of the gifts.) Parents, if you don't know what FB stands for, ask your kids. These follow Sunday's premiere of Guillermo del Toro's vampire series The Strain, which was grody and awesome and stupid all at the same time. I loved and rolled my eyes at it and couldn't wait to scoff at it again. Also: the hottest CDC epidemiologists ever, plus Samwise Gamgee!

Season 7 of Face Off, starring that weird makeup guy who's laughably trying to copy off Rob Zombie, launches Tuesday the 22nd. Wednesday the 23rd brings the season finale of Into the Wormhole. I don't get the Science Channel, though, so I can only guess Morgan Freeman will say something deep about the universe in that voice that reminds us of warm maple syrup. Ah, Morgan Freeman; he's the dreamiest. Hey, did you guys know I was in a scene with him once? It's true! It was cut way the hell out of Deep Impact. Hell, it didn't even make the deleted scenes on the DVD. I checked, because I'm pathetic! It's one of the tragedies of my life, because that guy was Easy Freakin' Reader. Respect for bibliophilia, yo.

SUNDAY, JULY 20

"Wink wink ..." If you immediately responded, "... nudge nudge," then have I got an event for you. All three surviving members of Monty Python, plus the desiccated, pulverized corpse of Graham Chapman, will be performing slightly modernized versions of their greatest TV sketches at a live event broadcast to, as they say, "select cinemas worldwide." One of those cinemas is probably near you, so put on your best Gumby gumboots, grab a partner for the fish-slapping dance, and ALBATROSS! ALBATROSS! ‘Course you don't get bloody WAFERS WITH IT! (If you memorized a spicier version of that sentence, or was tempted to add, "It's bleedin' seabird bleedin' flavor," then you're thinking of the version from Live at the Hollywood Bowl. My point is, I may not have kissed a lot of girls back in high school.) ALBATROSS!

MONTY PYTHON LIVE (MOSTLY), 11:30 a.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Regal Martin Village 16, 5400 Martin Way E, Olympia, $16-$18, 800.FAN.DANG

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and may your nipples explode with delight. Bouncy bouncy!

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Screens, Olympia,

July 9, 2014 at 9:43am

Nerd Alert! - H.P. Lovecraft and the Beatles

Onscreen and on record, they're this young forever. Photo credit: Janus Films release, (C) Bruce and Martha Karsh

For several years, Mexican auteur Guillermo Del Toro has been working his way through the Hollywood studio system, and has been mostly successful in bringing his unique, artfully grotesque vision to the likes of the Hellboy franchise and Pacific Rim. Still, the purest expression of Del Toro's style is perfectly distilled in Pan's Labyrinth, a beautifully visceral spin on fairy tales. It is this form, presumably, that Del Toro has been struggling for years to bring to his proposed adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's novella, At the Mountains of Madness.

It's almost a foregone conclusion that Del Toro and Lovecraft are a match made in heaven, with their shared love of insanity-inducing god-monsters. But, the filmmaker has yet to realize this adaptation, thanks to Universal refusing to grant him the R-rated cut that he desired. Recently, however, Del Toro has admitted to the Wall Street Journal that he would be willing to give a PG-13 Madness a shot. While the outcome is still up in the air, Lovecraft fans should breathe a sigh of relief that Del Toro is back at the helm.

Personally, I'll never forgive the Del Toro for backing out of The Hobbit - thus extending our inexorable exposure to Peter Jackson - but I'm willing to let him win me back with a flurry of tentacles and psychotic destruction.

YOU KNOW I FEEL ALRIGHT: The Fab Four in A Hard Day's Night

Roger Ebert summed it up just about perfectly when he said that A Hard Day's Night was "one of the great life-affirming landmarks of the movies." In terms of pure joy, nothing quite matches up to the Beatles' film debut. For any unfortunate souls who have yet to see this classic, it's so much more than a vanity project for a band that attracted hordes of screaming girls.

While there's a requisite amount of fast-motion goofing off, there's also plenty of delightfully dense dialogue and clever wordplay. One scene, in particular, stands out to me: John Lennon is backstage at some sort of show, when he runs into a woman who seems to recognize him. "Are you ..." she starts, before Lennon tells her no. Back and forth they go, with neither saying who the other one is talking about, in a bit that borders on Abbott and Costello level comedic timing.

A Hard Day's Night is a must-see, especially if you have the opportunity to catch it on a big screen, which you now have.

A HARD DAY'S NIGHT, 1 p.m. Friday July 11 and Sunday, July 13 and 7 p.m. Thursday July 17, The Grand Cinema, 606 S, Fawcett, Tacoma, $5-$9.50, 253.593.4474

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Screens, Books, Music, Tacoma,

June 30, 2014 at 11:29am

Nerd Alert! - Fourth of July movies, Halle Berry's Extant and future movies

Tammy learns her husband has cheated, loses her job and holds up a fast-food restaurant.

Till all are one, this is Nerd Alert, the Weekly Volcano's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.

FRIDAY, JULY 4

The Fourth of July arrives on a Friday this year, so any reasonable person would expect a three-car pileup of blockbuster movie releases. I'm a reasonable person, give or take, so it took several minutes for me to verify no such cascade of cinematic wonderment is forthcoming. The Melissa McCarthy comedy Tammy will be in theaters Wednesday, as will the cop horror flick Deliver Us from Evil and veritable E.T. remake Earth to Echo, but that's all she wrote. Apparently the studios thought Transformers: Age of Extinction (whatever that means) will still be guzzling the bills from your wallet. Perhaps they're right, but at time of writing, its reviews inspire as much confidence as a C from the Health Department or the endorsement of Glenn Beck. We're talking RottenTomatoes.com scores in the teens. The word "rancid" has been tossed around, which see critic James Rocchi of About.com, who also implies Trans4mers: What the Hell Ever is an act of Chinese terrorism.

I have questions about the Transformers movies - nay, the Transformers themselves. If one's goal is to be deceptive, isn't calling oneself a Decepticon a poor choice? Why do Transformers fight with swords and martial arts, when it's clear they all have guns? Aren't they basically made out of guns? Why are so many characters in these movies, including the robots, defined by their ethnicities? Has Michael Bay apologized for those stereotypically "ghetto" robots in the second one yet? (I challenge you to find an inoffensive way to even describe them. They make Jar Jar Binks look and sound like Mr. Peanut.) Whatever happened to Megan Fox? Who cleans a motorcycle like that? What exactly are the Autobots and Decepticons fighting about? Is this a Hatfields-and-McCoys type of thing? Have they tried economic sanctions? If these robots are powered by the Allspark, what happens when somebody puts gasoline in Bumblebee? How did Bumblebee come by that name? Do they even have bumblebees on ... wait, I'm looking it up ... Cybertron? Is the planet really called Cybertron? By whom? It seems a bit on-the-nose. Do they also have vintage Camaros on Cybertron? And dinosaurs? That breathe fire? To sum up: are these movies written by Sid from Toy Story? Is there even a writer? I mean, yawn.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 9

Academy- and Razzie-Award-winning actress Halle Berry stars in her first TV series, Extant. It's produced by Steven Spielberg and debuts Wednesday at 9. Ms. Berry plays an astronaut who comes home after a year in space and attempts to reconnect with her husband and son. Meanwhile, she'll take intermittent control of the weather, an unconvincing parade of white wigs, and enough cats to give Andrew Lloyd Webber a migraine. According to showrunner Greg Walker, Extant addresses the thematic question, "What makes us human?" I guess my question to Walker is, are you telling us you don't know? Is it really that difficult a question? Have you found yourself attracted to Camaros?

We're less than a year from the release dates of Avengers: Age of Ultron and Jurassic World. If Harrison Ford recovers from his on-set leg injury, we're 17 months from Star Wars, Episode VII, and Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper) was just named auteur of Episode VIII. We have lots more Star Trek and superhero movie installments in our future. DC's getting Wonder Woman off the ground at long last. The big-screen adaptation of Ready Player One is moving forward again; I imagine its director will be named soon. These are welcome developments, to be sure. But I'm also old enough to remember big-budget genre entertainment that came out of nowhere: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future, Gremlins, The Matrix. Those movies weren't adapted from anything other than creative folks' wild imaginations. This decade, such surprises are slim on the ground.

Edge of Tomorrow was a decent start, but even that seemed cobbled together from old favorites. The inevitable Halo film will look much the same. Here's hoping Interstellar from Christopher Nolan (due in November) or Brad Bird's Tomorrowland (May of 2015) have exciting and groundbreaking visions to share. It's rare for studios to trust us to recognize great new material, but we need to leave something for unimaginative people in the 2030s to rip off. Can I get a witness? Amen.

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and may these kids today with their iPads and Autobots grump grump grump.

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Screens, Pop Culture,

June 24, 2014 at 3:35pm

Nerd Alert: Ready Player One and Creative Colloquy

New York Times Best Selling author Marissa Meyer will read from her work at B Sharp Coffee House June 30. Press photo

It'll be left to the nerd history books to unravel just what went so catastrophically wrong with X-Men: The Last Stand (though, let it be said, The Last Stand looks like Citizen Kane compared to X-Men Origins: Wolverine). What we know for certain is that Brett Ratner did no one any favors when he brought his clunky directorial style to the proceedings.

Far be it for Ratner to take all of the blame, however. There was a man named Zak Penn lurking behind the scenes. As the writer for The Last Stand, Penn should shoulder a bit of the blame. But, as you may be thinking, what's one clunker? Everyone makes mistakes! Ah, but, a cursory examination of Penn's IMDB page paints a more disturbing picture. Penn was also the man behind Elektra (which, ugh) and the Inspector Gadget movie.

Still, there's a time for redemption with all of us, and it may come for Penn in the form of his adaptation of Ready Player One, a film that's been long in the gestation process. It's based on a well-liked, breezy, young adult novel about a futuristic world wherein all of mankind lives in a virtual online game. If Penn wants to wrench his nerd cred from the clutches of mediocrity, now is his chance.

Monday, June 30

In local nerd events, Monday sees the arrival of June's installment of Creative Colloquy. In addition to being a literary website, Creative Colloquy doubles as a monthly writing showcase bringing local authors together to read their works for an audience. Previous participants in the live readings include this fine rag's own Christian Carvajal, as well as Nick Stokes and L. Lisa Lawrence, including many others.

This month's edition will focus on works of young adult fiction. Writers featured on Monday include New York Times Bestselling Author Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles), Michaela Eaves (42 Sketches), Brook Ellen West (The Blood Keeper's Prophecy), Karen Harris Tully, and the winner of Creative Colloquy's Youth Writer Contest, Hawwa Alam.

For fans of the written word, as I should hope you all are, this is a great way to discover new talent and get exposed to local voices. The literary scene in Tacoma is one that could use some nourishing, and that's thankfully coming more often in the form of stuff like Creative Colloquy and Post Defiance's upcoming reading silent reading series, SHUT IT (AKA "Silent Happy Uninterrupted Time for Intoxicating Texts") at the Hotel Murano.

In short: read a book!

CREATIVE COLLOQUY, 7 p.m., B Sharp Coffee House, 706 Opera Alley, Tacoma, no cover, 253.292.9969

June 16, 2014 at 10:35am

Nerd Alert! - Rockin' Harlequin, "Orphan Black" finale, "Cars" at Car Museum ...

"Orphan Black": It’s a Me (Us) Against a Grand Conspiracy paranoia thriller with many a squee-worthy twist. Photo courtesy of BBC America

Suff'ring very midsummer madness, this is Nerd Alert, the Weekly Volcano's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.

So Punxsutawney Tom kept repeating the day, right? Till he figured out a way to save Emily Blunt from the squiddies? Or am I still confused? I bet I'm still confused. I feel confused. I've been drinking.

THURSDAY, JUNE 19

Thursday marks the premiere of A Rock ‘n' Roll Twelfth Night at Harlequin Productions - well, not really, as the troupe has already staged its homegrown extravaganza (which it adapted from a story by, I don't know, some guy) three times before. Still, if music be the food of love, rock on! Duke Orsino's a King now, Countess Olivia is a Material Girl and Sir Toby Belch demands cakes and ale with his rubber biscuit. Plus, you'll need to look at actor Christian Doyle twice to make sure the great John Lennon hasn't returned from (imagining there's no) Heaven. Harlequin's summer music revues are always a heap of fun, and this one's a particular Olympia favorite.

A ROCK ‘N' ROLL TWELFTH NIGHT, 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday through July 20, Harlequin Productions, 202 4th Ave. E, Olympia, $25-$38, 360.786.0151

>>> A Rock 'N' Roll Twelfth Night rehearsals rocked at Harlequin Productions. Photo courtesy of Facebook

If Shakespearean rock opera doesn't blow a soothing draft up your pantaloons, Monty Python's Spamalot continues at Lakewood Playhouse (253.588.0042), while Tacoma Little Theatre presents a view from behind the cameras of Gone with the Wind in the 2004 dramedy Moonlight and Magnolias (253.272.2281).

Speaking of plays, it's kind of strange there aren't any major new movie releases this weekend, though we are getting two adaptations of successful Broadway shows. One is Jersey Boys, ported over from the jukebox biopic of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It's directed by Clint Eastwood, because why the hell not. The other is David Ives' script-to-screenplay scorcher Venus in Fur, a study in sexual perversity. It's directed by Roman Polanski, who should know.

SATURDAY, JUNE 21

Are you in Clone Club? Please tell me you know what that means. Please, please tell me my wife and I aren't adoring Orphan Black in local isolation. This BBC (by way of Canada) series boasts the supernaturally talented Tatiana Maslany as an entire sorority of clones, each more distinctive and surprising than the last. This year, to mix things up, one is female-to-male transgendered. Oh, and by the way, somebody shot Marvin in the face! - if, by "Marvin" I'm obliquely referring to Max Headroom. Look, I know that's confusing, but I'm trying not to give too much away for folks who're just now discovering the show. Trust me: it's one of the most binge-worthy televised entertainments on our continent, so you owe it to yourself to catch up before tonight's 9 p.m. finale on BBC America. Don't make me sic Helena on your Prolethian ass.

Ka-chow! If you don't know whose uninspired catchphrase that is, your kids do. Lightning McQueen, Tow Mater and their internally combustible friends return in Pixar's Cars, screening tonight as a free drive-in movie courtesy of LeMay - America's Car Museum. Oh, and if you start craving movie snacks, check out the sweet eats cooked up by Pacific Grill.

CARS, dusk (about 9 p.m.), Haub Family Showfield, 2702 E. D St., Tacoma, free, 253.779.8490

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and may you crush the lead role in Blood Ties: The Musical. After all, it's not Cats!

June 10, 2014 at 3:22pm

Nerd Alert! - Ant-Man, The X-Files Files, Game of Thrones Finale Viewing Party

Daenerys learns it’s easier to control a growing army than growing dragons (spoiler: they’re assholes).

A couple of weeks ago, nerds stormed the Internet to report their outrage over a fictional character's film debut losing its director. Edgar Wright left the Ant-Man film, citing creative differences, which nerds everywhere took to mean, "Edgar wants it to be awesome! Why won't Marvel let him make his awesome movie?!"

With Ant-Man's fate hanging in the balance, a nation's nerds were left to ponder who could possibly come in and make this lame superhero's movie as awesome as Edgar Wright would have. Well, ponder no more, because your fears have been assuaged. Ant-Man will be shepherded to the silver screen by none other than Peyton Reed!

I said, Peyton Reed! What, you don't know who that is? Well, he's none other than the director of Jim Carrey's Yes Man. And The Break-Up. And Bring it On. Is that not doing it for you?

Look, I understand that it's less than exciting news to learn that Ant-Man is now being directed by a guy mostly known for lame romantic and teen comedies, but it's not all bad news. Reed also directed the stylish, underrated Down With Love, as well as several episodes of Mr. Show with Bob and David. It could be worse; Adam McKay was in talks to direct, so now we don't have to worry about Ant-Man being a series of medium shots of two people standing around riffing. So, there's that.

THE X-FILES FILES

In other news, a podcast recently hit the Interwebs. Comedian Kumail Nanjiani (of Silicon Valley and his own video game podcast, The Indoor Kids) is the host of a podcast that will cover the entirety of the beloved, influential TV show, The X-Files. Calling his show The X-Files Files, Nanjiani will critically dissect the '90s show that, among other notable achievements, gave birth to the modern fandom (including the dubious distinction of empowering a certain section of viewers known as "shippers") and helped to usher in a new golden age of television.

There are certainly other podcasts dedicated to critical discussion of TV, including the Saved by the Bell podcast, Go Bayside! However, as a television show, The X-Files lends itself to richer analysis. We'll have nine seasons of podcasts to really get into the relationship between Mulder and Scully, cavalcades of conspiracy theories, and finally a real discussion of why the writers thought to make Mulder a porn addict.

SUNDAY, JUNE 15: GAME OF THRONES FINALE VIEWING PARTY

Speaking of the golden age of television, Game of Thrones was recently declared HBO's most successful show since The Sopranos. For those who've been keeping up on that show's impossibly labyrinthine plot you are being rewarded with the opportunity to watch the season 4 finale in an honest-to-goodness castle in Lakewood.

For a mere $80, you can nerd out with your fellow Game of Thrones fanatics. Westeros-themed food and drink are included, and costumes are gently encouraged (mostly by me). I won't be there, sadly, but do feel free to corner me in a bar and try in vain to list all of the characters to me, and tell me what they do, and tell me why I should invest 40 hours of my life to trying to understand it. Thornewood Castle, 5 p.m., 8601 N. Thornewood Lane, Lakewood, $80, 206.402.3042

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Lakewood, Screens,

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