Monday, April 19, 2010

Getting to Know You

There's a set of questions that usually get asked on a first date, ranging from "where are you from?" to "what do you do/want to do for a living?" to "what's your favorite color?" These create a very basic foundation for two people to get to know each other. And these are important. But when the two people are in the same, very specific sub-culture, say, Geek Culture, there's a whole new set of queries, practical and hypothetical that get tossed around. These questions are RIDICULOUS. To the outsider, they're gibberish. To the geekily-inclined, they are still hilarious. Ladies and gentlemen, our geeky "Getting to Know You" questions. Feel free to use these in your own dorky relationships, romantic or otherwise. Some of them you've probably heard before. In the meantime, you can use them to get to know us a little.

Who's your favorite big-name superhero?
Ren: Batman. He's the goddamn Batman.
Dylan: He truly is. Much as I love Batman, I love Green Lantern more. Super-imagination power? That is coolness incarnate.
Ren: And your Chucks are green because of it.
Dylan: Uh-huh.

So, you're a Power Ranger. What color would you want to be?
Dylan: Green. Always green. Green Lantern, Green Ranger, whatever. That's gonna be the answer to all those questions. Tommy is the man and that gold armor kicks ass. Plus, uh, Dragonzord? Hell, yes.
Ren: Grey or Violet. Grey is my favorite color, but if I had to choose a color... actually, let me rephrase that. I developed a Violet Ranger for MMPR (Editor's Note: that means Mighty Morphin', kiddies) and ever since the color Violet has stuck with me. Plus, there's only one other Violet Ranger.

Which Star Trek captain would you want to serve with./under?
Ren: Picard.
Dylan: Thank you. That is the right answer. Sisko would have also been acceptable.

What are your primary nerd fandoms?
Dylan: Well, I'm a born-bred-and-raised Trekkie, so that's always first in my heart, but these last few years I mostly geek out to Joss Whedon stuff.
Ren: My whole family is fans of Star Trek. We've been to conventions for fuck's sake. Also, I love me some Joss. Power Rangers, Mystic Knights, and Tokukatsu in general. Batman, X-Men. Oh, I could be embarrassing and add in Sailor Moon, because I've been a fan of that since 3rd grade. Revolutionary Girl Utena, Gargoyles, Pokemon. Now, are we counting film nerdiness, too?
Dylan: I don't see why not.
Ren: Kevin Smith, Tarantino.
Dylan: Well, now my list looks wimpy. ESCALATION! I love superhero lore in general, and used to be mostly a DC guy, because I grew up on the DC Animated Universe. That stuff is the shit. But I like Marvel now too, and some indies like Hellboy and movies like The Incredibles that don't stem from any major publisher. I like Star Wars even though George Lucas broke my heart and I would love for him to die slowly and painfully. I really love Battlestar Galactica, but only the new one.
Dylan: MUPPETS! No, for serious, though, I haven't seen it.
Ren: Oh, what video game fandoms? Because I think I'm more of a gamer than you in terms of breadth of games.
Dylan: I can't argue with that. I pretty much just like Halo, Pokemon and licensed tie-in games to my other fandoms, like Marvel: Ultimate Alliance or Star Wars: Battlefront II.
Ren: Legend of Dragoon, any old 8-bit games, which I collect, Final Fantasy, Jade Cocoon, Eco-Creatures, Legend of Zelda, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Soul Calibur, Mario, of course.
Dylan: Well, yeah, everyone loves Mario.
Ren: But have you seen Mario's Time Machine?
Dylan: Not in person.
Ren: That's what I thought. Or did you donate a game to The Angry Video Game Nerd? No.
Dylan: I get it, I get it, you're the superior gamer. IGGINS! Oh, yeah, Invader Zim.

What are you big geek life goals?
Ren: Attend Comic-Con, publish my fan-fiction on the internet and finally cos-play. And get my Batman paper published in a real literary journal.
Dylan: Put simply: Be Joss Whedon. I will wear his skin.
Ren: Like a human suit?
Dylan: It will be glorious. Call me conceited or self-centered or whatever, but I don't feel like my life will be truly complete until I am God to a generation of nerds. I want to write and produce television and work in the comic and film media as well. And own the internet. That'd be cool too.
Ren: I thought Al Gore owned the internet.
Dylan: He, too, will be woven into my human suit.
Ren: Oh! And I want to be the source of an internet meme.
Dylan: MEEEEEEEEEME. Is fun to say.

What's your lifetime geek achievement so far?
Dylan: I won two consecutive pitch contests at Star Trek conventions in 2007 and 2008. The first one was a movie pitch contest, where I proposed a sort of twist-around of the idea behind First Contact. Picard has to stop a crazed Starfleet captain from erasing the Borg from time despite his personal feelings. The second was a TV series pitch, which was a sort of Star Trek-meets-Law and Order type dealie. What made it cool was that they were judged by one of Gene Roddenberry's aides from the TNG days. Also, they gave me lots of free merch.
Ren: Writing a lengthy academic paper about Batman and presenting it at a literary conference. Also, using Batman to teach literary devices to my eleventh-grade students while student-teaching. And finally completing my Mystic Knights action figure collection. After TEN YEARS.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Joss Whedon's Avengers

Joss Whedon has signed on to direct the upcoming Avengers movie. This is awesome, partly because it means we'll more than likely get to see at least a few of his favorite actors playing big-league superheroes in a major motion picture.

Of course, a fair amount of the cast is already determined due to the
film's place in the Marvel Movie Universe, (ie Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Cap) but let's pretend they're not.

Geektastic Challenge: Cast The Avengers using only actors who are featured in Joss Whedon projects.
The Rules:
1) Featured means that the actor played a significant regular or
recurring role in a Whedon-produced series or starred in one if his
2) Which heroes should be in The Avengers movie is up to you, but keep
in mind that the real movie will feature Iron Man, Captain America,
Thor, Black Widow, War Machine and Nick Fury at the least. You don't
have to use the same ones.

Nathan Fillion as Captain America: I was campaigning for this for some time, and even had an entire post about it on my old blog, Top5Everything. Cap is a hero from another age, with a more John Wayne style of heroism than the average modern superhero. But he's still got a sense of humor. To me, a cross between his Malcolm Reynolds and Captain Hammer is the perfect balance for the character.
James Marsters as Iron Man: it's hard to imagine anybody playing Tony Stark better than Robert Downey, Jr., and I am by no means implying that I would prefer James Marsters for the role. But of the Joss Whedon stable of actors, Marsters has best proven his ability to play the cocksure badass with good intentions.
Alexis Denisof as Bruce Banner: During his six-year stint as Wesley Wyndam-Pryce on Buffy and Angel, Denisof proved he could play both brainy and bumbling (Buffy season 3-Angel season 2) and dark and brooding (Angel seasons 3-5). He's not the rock star Ed Norton is, but seeing as Norton hates reprising roles in sequels, we're not likely to see him in Avengers anyway, and let's face it, Norton's acting didn't really blow anybody away in 2008's The Incredible Hulk.
Eliza Dushku as Spider-Woman: Jessica Drew is a very complex character, constantly unsure of her loyalties and her own motives. She's a secret agent first and a superhero second. She's dark but has a caustic wit. Come on, this role has Eliza written all over it. She's even a close cosmetic match to the character in the comics. And seeing as Joss has stated that he wants to work with her on a feature in the near future, this one's actually not much of a longshot.
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Black Widow: This one is a longshot, but this is an imaginary movie, so whatever. Gellar hasn't been in a feature film for a few years, but she's a genuine movie star with underestimated acting chops. She's got a lot of presence and could definitely rule the screen as Russian bombshell Natalia Romanova. The question is: can she pull off that accent? (Can Scarlett Johansson pull off that accent? None of the Iron Man 2 trailers have her speaking.)
Mark Lutz as Thor: This was a really tricky one for me. I'm not thrilled with the casting choice for the upcoming Thor movie, Chris Hemsworth, who played George Kirk in last summer's Star Trek. To me, nobody's as perfect a match as Alexander Skarsgård, True Blood's Eric Northman. The guy's a perfect choice, but I never heard of him being considered. Of course, since he was never used in a Joss Whedon project, he's off the table anyway. I had a lot of trouble with this one, and ended up settling for Mark Lutz, who played The Groosalugg on Angel. He's the closest I found to a physical match, and he pulls off majestic pretty well. Honestly, I'm not even a huge fan of Thor as a character, but I think he ought to be in the movie, being one of the originals and all.
D.B. Woodside as Luke Cage: Cage is an awesome character, street-smart, tough as nails and also smart as a whip. (Or a chain, that he uses as a whip.) He absolutely had to be in my Avengers movie. But let's all face the sad fact: there are not a ton of black people in Joss Whedon shows. I'm sure it's not on purpose, but it became a serious problem when trying to cast the Hero for Hire on this list. The obvious choice was J. August Richards, who played the ex-gang leader Charles Gunn on Angel, and the only age-appropriate black man of all the regulars on all four Whedon series. But honestly, Richards never presented the kind of maturity I expect from Luke Cage, and I really can't see him in it. Woodside, on the other hand, is classy as hell, as well as tough. Just check him out as the ass-kicking vampire hunter Principal Robin Wood in Buffy season 7. He's a little slimmer than Cage, but then, so is every actual human being. (Seriously, Cage is huge.) Woodside can play both the soldier of the streets and the family man sides of the character. Plus, he's already got the goatee.
and Nicolas Brendon as Nick Fury: This would be a minor role, just an easter egg for Buffy fans so we can see Nicky in an eyepatch again. Seriously, Samuel J. Jackson IS Nick Fury, and nobody else should attempt to play him ever again.

Juliet Landau as Moondragon - Moondragon is a really interesting, somewhat ethereal and godly character. She's also a bit unstable. Juliet Landau is a professional at pulling off these traits. Drusilla encompassed these traits, and it would be interesting to see her do things without the Cockney accent. And be bald. The bisexuality would be easily done as well, given that most of the vampire characters on Buffy are subtextastic.
Fran Kranz as Spiderman - I think Fran Kranz would make an excellent Spiderman. He's illustrated his ability to make quips quite well on Dollhouse. It is also on Dollhouse that we see his emotional side, which is vital to someone playing Peter Parker. There's that dichotomy of the emotional/sensitive Parker and the cocksure/witty Spiderman. He also demonstrated his ability to be painfully in love with someone through Topher's crush on Bennett Halverson. Additionally, his voice would be excellent to hear in the Raimi-style voiceovers. He conveys a lot through his voice and for a masked superhero, that's very important.
Nicholas Brendon as Deadpool - Nicholas Brendon is another Whedon actor who has shown his ability to be a fast-talking quipmaster, and his voice has the snappy sound I envision Deadpool to have. Brendon is also surprisingly buff, and that kind of physique is needed in a character like Deadpool. Although we didn't get to see Brendon do much ass-kickery on Buffy, I know Whedon originally wanted Brendon to play Malcom Reynolds on Firefly, a role that would have required much ass-kickery. For this reason, I have no doubts he could pull off the role.
Enver Gjokaj as Iron Man - Enver Gjokaj can do anything. Your argument is invalid.
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Mockingbird - Physically, SMG greatly resembles the character of Mockingbird. Petite, blond, pert nose, etc. The character of Mockingbird is similar enough to Buffy that she could slip into the role without much effort. Strong, confident, asskicking female. Gellar doesn't need to prove herself in this case.
Amy Acker as Scarlet Witch - Amy Acker is a fantastic actress, able to pull off many emotions and convey great depth with facial expressions. She bears a great deal of resemblance to Wanda, the curly brown hair, lithe body. I imagine her to look quite striking in that ridiculously pointy red headpiece. And, as Illyria, she demonstrated her ability to be psycho and unstable a la House of M, and her ability to fight.
Neil Patrick Harris as Quicksilver - Harris is another fast-talker, and he can be a real prick when he wants to be, as we all saw in How I Met Your Mother and Harold and Kumar. He has a pretty nice physique, but looks light enough to be a speedster. He also has walked both sides of the comic book path, as hero and villain in Dr. Horrible, being a sympathetic character who is supposed to be a villain but turns out to be more of a hero than the actual hero. Pietro has crossed the line several times himself, switching from villain to hero, and back.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

X-Men Dream Team

Geektastic Challenge: Create a dream team of X-Men characters.
The Rules
1) Team must consist of 7 characters
2) Mainstream Marvel Universe (Earth-616) only
3) All characters must have been a member of an X-team at some point or another
4) Character does not need to be presently living. (Because who can keep track?)
5) Team should be selected based on not only overall coolness, but how interesting the dynamic between the characters would be.

So, this was the very first little challenge one of us gave the other, which I asked kind of casually because I knew Ren was an X-Men fan. Turns out she's an expert, but just to make sure she made a well-thought-out decision, she spent the next half-hour on Mutatis Mutandis. I did the same, and came up with my own team.

I call them X-pionage, a sort of super-spy X-team whose missions would involve a lot of sneaking around, with the occasional all-out Mutant fight we've come to expect from good X-Men series.
Mystique: Our team leader, well-versed in the moral gray areas of spying and sleuthing. She's been on both sides of the line between good and evil and has become extremely adept at tip-toeing across it. Mystique is the brains of the operation, and also one of its most useful resources.
Nightcrawler: The boss's kid, all grown up of course, but nevertheless gets the sort of preferential treatment/higher expectations from Mystique. He's been a team leader himself, and often takes up the role of field commander when Mommy's off sneaking around. He's not entirely comfortable flirting with the dark side, and sometimes takes it upon himself to remind Mystique when she's riding the line.
X-23: She's a big gun, daughter/clone of Wolverine. Just as badass, about a third as annoying and seriously underused as a character. She's still sort of learning how to be a superhero as opposed to just a killing machine, but when the team needs killing done, she'll do it without flinching. A ying to Kurt's yang, X-23 is the devil on Mystique's shoulder, impulsive, unfeeling.
Forge: If X-pionage is like the MI:6 of the X-Men teams, the Forge is Q. Just because you've got superpowers doesn't mean you never need some awesome gadgetry, and if Forge can imagine it, he can build it. To use a different analogy, Mystique is Kirk, Nightcrawler is Bones, X-23 is Spock and Forge is Scotty.
Armor: She's the youngest team member, only joining the institute recently in Astonishing X-Men, but she's a powerhouse, able to build a suit of near-impenetrable energy armor around her body. She's just discovering her potential and this is her first taste of what it's like to be on a real X-team. She's driven, spunky and often saves their asses.
Shadowcat: What can I say about Kitty Pryde? She's my very favorite a lot of the time and though she doesn't really fit on this team I couldn't leave her behind. Her power is very handy for espionage, her honest and true personality doesn't gel well with Mystique's Machiavellian leadership style. She's here under protest, but she understands that she's needed and will do her best to protect the interests of the Mutant community at large.
Pyro: Because every team needs a badass asshole in black who's just there to light things on fire. He's worked with Mystique before as a baddie, and usually sits out the parts of missions that involve cunning, since he's kind of a dunce.

Cyclops: Despite some people's beliefs, Slim is not just an asshole. In fact, he isn't really an asshole at all. He's a skilled hand-to-hand combatant and tactical genius. His optical beams come in handy quite often, and his understanding of trigonometry can use these beams to pull off impossible feats.
Beast: I love Hank McCoy. Whether he is normal!Beast or cat!Beast, he is ridiculously smart, witty, and wise. He also has physical strength and agility.
Gambit: Gambit, despite his douchebaggery in X-Treme X-Men, has several useful skills. Primarily, his kinetic energy powers can be used for demolition purposes, his charm powers can be used to manipulate women (because manipulating women is fun), and his bo-staff skills are useful in more traditional hand-to-hand situations. Also, his skills as a pickpocket and rogue are useful for more shady dealings. His chemistry with Scott, and his chemistry with Rogue make for an interesting team dynamic. He can piss off Scott and make Rogue be simultaneously horny and emo.
Psylocke: Ah, Psylocke. This is a character with whom I've had little exposure, but she seems to be a pretty interesting character. Also, I needed a person telekinetic or telepathic powers. She is also a skilled hand-to-hand combatant, and I like my characters to be multi-talented. She also adds a level of diversity to the team, being British AND Asian.
Rogue: I hate Rogue. Just throwing that out there. She's whiny, she's overused, and the Gambit/Rogue fiasco makes me want to punch babies. But, Rogue provides the team with the ever important gift of flight, the gift of nigh-invulnerability, and the gift of super-strength.
Squirrel Girl: My personal favorite. She is one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe, beating several super-villains single-handedly. She adds a bit of silly charm to the group, balancing out the serious people and the emo people.
Deadpool: Deadpool. The Deadpool. Despite his recent Wolverine Publicity, I still love Deadpool. He kills like very few others can, and tears down the fourth wall like no one else. He would provide comedic value in the team. But, he would not be all-powerful and overwhelming, as Squirrel Girl would be there to balance him out. He fears her.

Got your own ideas? Post your own dream team or just tear ours apart. Or make a request for the next Geektastic Challenge.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Manifesto

Take a hyperactive Trekkie/Whedonite guy and a sardonic Pokémon Master/Power Ranger nut girl and pair them up and you've got a recipe for geek madness. In the short time we've been dating, we've compared notes on a lot of different geek culture topics, issuing each other on a nearly daily basis with what we call Geek Challenges, such as "assemble your dream X-Men team of 7 (mainstream Marvel universe only)" or "Marry/Boff/Kill: Dr. Bashir, Chief O'Brien, Quark." We've had enough fun with it and have gotten so obsessive about good record-keeping that we decided to start posting them on the internet for the whole world (probably 3 of you) to see!

So, a few times a week we'll be posting our insane nerd musings, discussions, commentaries and Geektastic Challenges for you to enjoy and respond to. Feel free to leave your own thoughts and lists. We'll be putting up our first question (that X-Men one) within the next 24 hours or so.

Wish us luck,
Ren Cullen (girl)
Dylan Roth (boy)
(Our names are somewhat androgynous)