Friday, September 29, 2006

Say it Ain't So, Al

This latest article is a bittersweet one.

As you'll see, I had the opportunity to do a tongue-in-cheek interview with "Weird Al" Yankovic about his fantastic new album Straight Outta Lynwood. It's no exaggeration to say that Al is one of my childhood heroes. His sense of humor and his spot-on parodies were a major influence during my tween years. If you haven't heard "White & Nerdy," his hilarious take on Chamillionaire's "Ridin' Dirty," do yourself a favor and view it on YouTube. You won't be dissapointed.

Here's a taste of the article:

"Yes, both [Virus Alert and Don't Download This Song] are paranoid rants about digital technology, but again--jokes." Al said, "I have nothing against technology. I may look like the Unabomber, but I'm not him--I promise."

That's the sweet part.

The bitter part is that this article appeared in the very last print issue of LA Alternative. Though the publication is going to continue as an online entity, I haven't heard yet what form it will take. I'm not sure even LA Alternative knows what they're going to morph into. All I know is not being able to pick up the paper at a coffee shop, inside the library, outside the movie theater, or at an art gallery is a big loss for the city.

LA Alternative, we speak your name.

Editors Lesley Bargar, Lucinda Michele Knapp, and Evan George are a talented, classy group of individuals, and I'm very grateful for the opportunity they gave me to spread my silly ruminations on pop culture. I hope we continue to work together in the future.

Image: Fluent in Javascript and Klingon, "Weird Al" Yankovic explores his roots, pancreas, and the drive-thru in Straight Outta Lynwood.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Los Angeles c. 2231

In less than two weeks, the crown jewel of the Pacific Rim, Los Angeles, celebrates her 225th birthday. In my latest article for LA Alternative, Los Angeles c. 2231, I celebrate the City of Angels' past by taking a look at possibilities for her future as envisioned in three science fiction novels: Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, and Virtual Light by William Gibson. Mix and match to create your very own dystopian nightmare.

Here's a snippet:

In a Southern California where climate change has made water a scarcer commodity than gasoline, and civil society has been replaced with a predator/prey/scavenger nightmare, carbon emissions and long commutes are the least of people’s concerns. Far from being congested, freeways have turned into efficient, albeit dangerous, means of getting around—by foot.

Image: What might Los Angeles look like on her 450th birthday? Is she destined to lose her small-town charms?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Happy Happy Joy Joy Redux

This was a real treat. For my latest article for LA Alternative, "Happy Happy Joy Joy Redux," I interviewed John Kricfalusi (aka John K.), the creator of Ren and Stimpy. John K. has a new DVD, Ren and Stimpy: The Lost Episodes, coming out on July 18, so it was a great opportunity to ask him about his creations, his influences, and his thoughts on the current state of animation.

Here's a tease:

“There’s no such thing as a writer-driven cartoon,” says Kricfalusi. “There’s only the non-artist-driven cartoon. The big misconception about animation is that if it’s drawn poorly then it must be written well. And I say ‘no.’ It’s written poorly and it’s drawn poorly. [Cartoons] are a visual storytelling medium.”

Image: A still from "Ren Seeks Help" from the new Ren and Stimpy: The Lost Episodes DVD.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Sexy Beast

Here's "Sexy Beast," an article on Godzilla that I wrote for LA Alternative. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (1956), Godzilla 2000 (1999), and Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack! (2001) are all being screened as part of the American Cinematheque's "Giant Monsters on the Loose!" film festival.

For this story I interviewed the festival's co-organizer and editor of Keith Aiken; journalist and film historian Steve Ryfle; and editor of G-Fan Magazine J.D. Lees.

Here's an appetizer:

“With Gojira, you’re watching a film made by people who experienced a nuclear holocaust,” says Aiken. “The film was made nine years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was very fresh in people’s minds.” A visit to the aftermath of Hiroshima left a powerful impression on Gojira director Ishiro Honda, adding an unexpected gravitas to scenes of crowds running for their lives, children being measured for radioactivity, and the injured masses suffering in hospitals.

Image: Still from Gojira (1954), which Classic Media is releasing on DVD on September 5.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Los Angeles Plays Itself

Here's "Los Angeles Plays Itself," an article I wrote for LA Alternative on the Electronic Entertainment Expo (aka E3), which takes place every year in downtown Los Angeles.

Here's a sampling:

As if the rising cost of gasoline and housing weren’t enough, Sony announced at a pre-E3 conference that their fully loaded Playstation 3 would be released in November at a jaw-dropping cost of $599. Now comes a difficult choice: send your kid to preschool or be the first on your block to play Final Fantasy XIII.

Image: Squatting may become the next big thing when Nintendo releases Wario Ware: Smooth Moves for the Wii.