The Crazies: New Film & Comic Book Giveaway

The new film The Crazies debuts tomorrow in theaters, and I have a giveaway to accompany the release!

The movie, which is a reinvention of the George Romero horror classic, stars Timothy Olyphant (Deadwood) and Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill) as a couple in a small Midwestern town who find themselves battling to survive when their friends and families descend into madness.

For your chance to win this limited edition set of 4 Crazies comic books, simply leave a comment below with your name and email address by March 3!

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Hi Again: A Very Random Pop Culture Update

I owe you an apology, again. Every intention of updating this site on a much more frequent basis has fallen victim to time, travel and Lost over the last several weeks. But this site is my real baby; my original blog of almost 5 years, and what will continue to be home base once Lost ends forever in May. 

Because I have been negligent for far too long, I thought I would briefly address what has been going on in my pop culture world and provide appropriate links if you’re interested in additional details. 
  • I just returned from a weekend in Buenos Aires and week in Santiago, Chile (visiting family; see video at bottom of post). To escape thunderstorms one afternoon, we went to see An Education. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it, particularly the performance of Carey Mulligan. While I believe that she completely deserves her Best Actress nod, I don’t think that she stands a chance against Meryl and Sandra this year. And to be honest, I do not agree with the film’s inclusion as a Best Picture nominee. But don’t get me started about the fact there are now 10 in that category…

  • While on the red carpet, I had the opportunity to interview Michael Emerson’s wife, actress Carrie Preston. Stay tuned for audio from that conversation, as we discuss her role as Arlene in the third season of True Blood!
  • I am currently hosting a Haiti relief fundraiser on my Lost site, giving away memorabilia to those who donate $10 or more to Partners in Health (in conjunction with Mo Ryan from the Chicago Tribune, who is also auctioning off various TV items for the cause via eBay). 
  • In anticipation of new episodes of the stellar series Southland (beginning March 2 on its new network: TNT), here is a look behind the scenes of the show. I will be receiving a screener shortly and plan to preview it here for you before it airs. 

  • To celebrate the new movie The Crazies, a reinvention of the George Romero horror classic starring Timothy Olyphant (opening on February 26 in theaters), I will be giving away a set of limited-edition The Crazies comic books very soon!
  • One of my favorite new shows of the last several years, Nurse Jackie, returns for a second season on March 22. Here is the trailer. Jump on board; I guarantee you won’t regret it. Twilight fans, you will love Peter Facinelli in this series – check out Dr. Coop’s Video Diary.

  • And here is your first look at the sophomore season of my other favorite new show in recent memory, United States of Tara. Joey Lauren Adams joins the cast, and the series also returns on March 22.
Thank you for your patience, whether you are fairly new to this site or have been visiting for several years. I look forward to hearing from YOU; feel free to leave comments and/or feedback below!

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DVD Review: The Write Environment – Comic Book Series Special Edition (G Johns, M Waid & M Wolfman)

I have to admit that it is a real treat to be given the opportunity to review this particular installment from The Write Environment, hosted by creator and writer Jeffrey Berman, given that I recently returned from my second year at Comic-Con. 

Here are a few highlights from the interviews with comic book legends Geoff Johns, Mark Waid and Marv Wolfman, who are featured on The Write Environment: Comic Book Series Special Edition DVD. 
Hands down, Johns may have the coolest work space of all of the interviewees in The Write Environment DVD series. He utilizes a hydraulic desk, choosing to write either standing up or sitting down. And there is an entire wall behind the desk filled with amazingly organized and labeled boxes full of comic books; every issue in his collection is carefully housed in an archive sleeve. I admire such thoughtful storage, and openly admit that I plan to improve upon the pop culture archives in my own home office using his method. 

Of the many enlightening facts that you will glean from his interview, I was surprised to learn that Johns’ introduction into the comic book world was less than traditional; he started out as an assistant to director Richard Donner (Conspiracy Theory, Lethal Weapon). 

Johns is a very disciplined writer, as he is able to write an entire comic in one week from start to finish. Die-hard comic book fans are familiar with Johns because he is responsible for the rejuvenation of the Green Lantern and Hal Jordan. This talented young writer has established himself with a very impressive body of work for both DC Comics (Blackest Night, The Flash, Infinite Crisis, JSA, Superman, Teen Titans) and Marvel (The Avengers, Ultimate X-Men, etc.). 
“I give good cliffhanger.” Waid delivers the best line from all three of Berman’s interviews. 

His work space actually feels more like an extra bedroom with memorabilia-lined shelves than a regular home office. Truly, one of my favorite aspects of this DVD series is that we are invited to peek into the personal spaces of these beloved writers. 

In addition to being a renowned writer in the industry, Waid is a both a teacher and a visual thinker; he believes that you have to be able to write a wide variety of voices and empathize with the characters. In his interview, Waid elaborates about the relationship between the artist and the writer, which is a very collaborative effort. 

Waid’s stellar career began with The Comet and he wrote The Flash for eight years. Many regard the apocalyptic graphic novel Kingdom Come as Waid’s Watchmen. He also penned issues and series’ of Captain America, Fantastic Four, Impulse, Justice League, L.E.G.I.O.N. and X-Men, among many others. The most current Mark Waid comic is Irredeemable.

Wolfman’s home office resembles your neighborhood comic book store; warm and jam packed with more back issues than you’d ever have time to page through. He is the first to admit that clutter drives him crazy…and yet his bathroom resembles an eBay stockpile of original comic book related toys!

Wolfman finds dialogue easier than story and structure, and works from a strong outline. He always starts with characters, loves writing comedy and horror because both appeal to emotion. 

Marv Wolfman co-created Teen Titans, and many feature films have been based upon his work (the Blade trilogy, Bullseye in Daredevil, the novelization of Superman Returns). A few of Wolfman’s characters have also been featured on the small screen (Lois & Clark, Smallville). While Wolfman also wrote issues of Batman, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and Superman, his notable titles include Crisis on Infinite Earths, Nightwing (a character which he created) and The Tomb of Dracula
Listening to these three gentlemen discuss their characters and stories, it is obvious how much respect they all have for their predecessors and peers, as well as the craft. It is fascinating to discern the varying styles of each writer; for example, Mark Waid enjoys writing cliffhangers with no idea what the resolution is, whereas Geoff Johns prefers to have a 2 year plan in mind while creating his stories. 

Comic Con originated as a gathering to celebrate the art and enthusiasm for comic books. And while the current focus of the convention overwhelmingly leans toward the promotion of feature films and television shows, the artists and writers who continue to create comic books will never be overshadowed by the temporary landscape of these other mediums. The writers interviewed on this DVD and their vast contributions to the comic book community serve as an important reminder to embrace our tactile childhood memories; acquiring and holding first issues and playing with action figures are indelible experiences that Johns, Waid and Wolfman clearly understand and appreciate. 

I highly recommend that aspiring comic book, graphic novel and general entertainment writers order a copy of The Write Environment: Comic Book Series Special Edition from Amazon or The Write Store. This rare glimpse into the minds and worlds of these writers is well worth your $19.99.

If you’re interested, I also reviewed the first round of this fantastic DVD series, which featured television showrunners/writers: Doug Ellin (Entourage), Tim King (Heroes), Damon Lindelof (Lost), Phil Rosenthal (Everybody Loves Raymond), Sam Simon (The Simpsons) and Joss Whedon (Dollhouse). 

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what I’ve been doing besides ignoring this

I have rediscovered something that I love, a hobby that I’ve neglected in lieu of new media and technology for the last several years…reading. Overcome by the desire to put down the remote and start turning the pages, it is one of the main reasons that I’ve been ignoring this blog (and you, by extension).

Obviously my main focus every week from January through May is the Lost blog, but when I’m not watching, researching or writing about the show, I’ve been turning off the television more and settling in with a graphic novel or book instead.

The stack currently residing on my nightstand accurately reflects many of my interests; music, sports, superheroes and even the afterlife (which I blame on my undyling love for Six Feet Under; pun absolutely intended)…

I am openly fascinated by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, so it was an easy choice to pick up a copy of Scar Tissue. Bonus: HBO is developing a series based on Anthony Kiedis’ childhood.

Moneyball remains a personal favorite, which is no surprise given that I’m a huge Oakland A’s fan. And I am looking forward to reading The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, because Michael Lewis explores football in the same analytical style that he examined baseball in Moneyball.

I know nothing about Captain Freedom, except that the cover and tagline grabbed me instantly: A superhero’s quest for truth, justice, and the celebrity he so richly deserves. Sounds right up my alley on many levels.

The X-Files. Dead Like Me. Pushing Daisies. Bones. True Blood. Just a few of the reasons that I’m enjoying Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. It also doesn’t hurt that my better half is a modern day Scully of sorts. : )

I read Brian K. Vaughan’s Ex Machina series last year, and am now enthralled with and absorbing his visionary Y: The Last Man graphic novels. Vaughan is actually a co-producer and writer on Lost (the 3rd issue of Y was featured as an Easter Egg this season; Hurley was reading it in Spanish at the airport).

Sticking with the post apocalyptic theme, I just finished Brian Wood’s chilling and prescient Channel Zero. It is an alternatingly exciting and frightening narrative.

So there you have it, an excuse which I don’t expect you to respond to. Every night I think about posting something on this site, and apologize for not doing so at least a few times per week. My non-Lost friends and readers deserve an extra virtual hug for being patient with me; I appreciate that you’re still here, and promise to post movie reviews and TV news again soon!

- Jo

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Who Watches the Watchmen? Brian’s Guest-Blog Review

My good friend, fellow blogger and logo designer Brian went to see Watchmen on Friday night. He was kind enough to provide a review as a guest blogger below. I saw the film today, and will be posting my thoughts and a response to his review in another post later this week.

Watchmen was often considered
a movie that could never be made. But after Zack Snyder (300) took the
helm and his Watchmen trailers caused fanboys, fangirls and the general
population to unite with shared excitement…there was reason to believe it had
been done.

turning (arguably) the greatest graphic novel into a movie, it raises the bar
to almost unattainable heights and results in an all-too common problem: stay
true to the book, or use it as a platform for inspiration? Snyder is able to
walk a very fine line doing both, and deliver a movie that true fans and newcomers
can appreciate. But here is the twist: it’s Watchmen, a twelve-issue
comic that first appeared for DC Comics in 1986-87, has since been released in
its complete form and placed on TIME’s list of 100 Best Novels. If it were
translated word-for-word from the book to the screen, it would be unwatchable
(pun totally intended). If it strayed too much from the book, it would be
criticized on every blog and article until nothing remained.

almost 3 hours (yes, it’s that long, and sadly feels so), the film is able to
translate the visual style, excitement and pulse of the graphic novel. Although
it may be critiqued for jumping back and forth too much, it is important to
acknowledge that the ground-breaking graphic novel had the same feel. The film
does have peaks and valleys, which may be due to the original platform being
told over twelve issues, but the astonishing imagery makes up for it. With the
close-up shots panning back to show the full frame, it is as if the actual
panels in the comic are coming to life. The film makers are also able to
include several nods throughout the film that the true fans will notice: from
Nostalgia Perfume to the Gunga Diner, from the snow globe atop the TV to Hooded
Justice’s German accent — those that read the book should feel pleased
that the film remembers its roots and fans (hopefully enough to forgive them
for certain exclusions, which I am intentionally leaving out to avoid potential

Watchmen is done well. It may fail to meet the hype we all placed on it,
but it shouldn’t leave you feeling disappointed. It stays true to the novel
(with a few exceptions) and brings to life a great book we all loved. The
characters are well cast (notably Jackie Earl Haley’s Rorschach) and it
contains possibly one of the best opening sequences and opening credits to
date. There may be scenes that come across as unintentionally humorous, but
those are the scenes that are the most similar to the novel. I guess some
things just translate better on the page. Although it may not be a film that
holds up 10 years from now, after 22 years of thinking it could never be made…
I’m happy it was.

We’d love to hear what YOU
thought of the film (good or bad) in the comments below. For those true fans up
for a challenge, there will be a give-away for the best review left in the
style of Rorschach’s journal
. If there are several impressive entries, multiple
prizes will be sent out, with a single grand prize. So leave your entry as a comment, and stay tuned for further details!

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WonderCon 09: Watchmen & Star Trek Panels (Photos & Video) + Giveaways!

On Saturday we spent the day in San Francisco at WonderCon with our good friend Brian, who shares my sci-fi and pop culture enthusiasm and then some. He is a great graphic artist (who created the logos for both of my blogs), and he took the excellent photos and video below. If you are an athlete, you must check out his blog, Pavement Runner.

We attended the Watchmen and Star Trek panels together, but Brian braved the entire weekend to also enjoy the Chuck, Pixar, Sarah Connor Chronicles and Terminator Salvation panels as well! He was kind enough to share pictures from all of them, and I will post those photos later this week.

Guests: Director Zack Snyder, graphic novel illustrator Dave Gibbons, actors Malin Akerman (Laurie Jupiter/Silk Spectre II), Billy Crudup (Dr. Manhattan/Jon Osterman), Jackie Earle Hailey (Walter Kovacs/Rorschach), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Edward Blake/The Comedian) and Patrick Wilson (Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl II).


They showed us just over 15 minutes from the film, which opens this Friday. Without giving much away, I will say that the opening title sequence is one of the most phenomenal and creative that I’ve ever seen. This is going to be an outstanding visual ride, and one that will successfully mirror the brilliance of the original graphic novel.


Guests: Director J.J. Abrams, executive producer Bryan Burk, screenwriter Roberto Orci, stars Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock) & Zoe Saldana (Uhura)

Video of J.J. Abrams at Star Trek panel [note to Lost fans, it is 1:08 long]


I am not a Trekkie by any means, and The Wrath of Khan is my favorite among the many previous Star Trek films. Abrams treated us to a longer, unreleased trailer…and I watched it with wide eyes and goosebumps. He has more than reinvigorated the franchise. I look forward to this film more than just about any other this year.


I have a few small but very cool collectible items from both Watchmen and Star Trek that I’d love to give away to my readers. Interested? Simply leave a comment below, telling me why you’re a huge fan of either and what your expectations are for the films. I will put all of your names in a hat and pull random winners by March 15. Make sure to fill in your name and email so that I can contact you.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

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