– I spent the holiday weekend at Atlanta’s Dragon*Con, which is an event I would recommend to anyone within traveling distance if you can handle four days of shoulder-to-shoulder foot traffic, SDCC-worthy panel lines, and Atlanta’s world-famous heat and humidity, which is truly punishing. There are a couple things that make the convention a pretty singular experience — one is their “anything goes” approach to guest booking, which is primarily sci-fi focused but has room for just about anything from all circles of nerdfame, and the other is its status as the largest gathering of cosplayers, which is more entertaining for regularly dressed people like myself than it sounds. There are always surreal moments at each year’s celebration that you look up or down in the huge, regal Marriott Hotel and see a writhing ocean of people with a seemingly impossible percentage of its individual units dressed as various obscure pop culture icons. I can’t imagine anywhere else where you can see, say, a DuckTales Roboduck costume that looks like it cost nearly as much money and time as an actual working Roboduck. I would do a full report, but it was mostly an overall genial weekend for me without a lot of big news announcements or particularly shocking revelations, though I saw a Gillian Anderson panel that was meme-worthy in its charming randomness, and witnessed a city councilman presenting Adam West and Burt Ward plaques declaring September 1st Adam West and Burt Ward Day in Atlanta. My personal highlight was getting to briefly meet/attend a panel by Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman, who was very nice and interesting and not at all the corporate shill I accused him of being in this space a couple weeks back. I was able to ask him about a so-called R-rated cut of the first Turtles film that a guest editor once told our class about in film school. He said there is definitely a longer, better, grittier version of the film from before the great Steve Barron was kicked off post-production, and that they would love to release it if they can ever get through all the legal red tape involved with the dissolution of New Line Cinema. I don’t know how many other people are in the demographic to be excited about that information, but it seems to strike a chord with anyone I tell about it. Anyway, Dragon*Con is fun and I’m tired. If you go (and if you’re anything like me), a good rule of thumb is just to try to go wherever Doc Hammer and any other Venture Bros crew are scheduled. That’s pretty much where all the funny is kept.
– The LA Times has an interview up with legendary animator Genndy Tartakovsky that pushes the idea that his upcoming Hotel Transylvania is more rubbery and Looney Tunes inspired than other recent CGI cartoon features. I haven’t seen anything in the promotional material that would make me believe that — it looks very 90s Dreamworks to me so far — but I will be very happy if Tartakovsky managed to work in some of the unique flavor he brought to his Cartoon Network shows to his first feature. Bleeding Cool, who I stole the link from, also spotted a quick last-second news break in there that he’s also working on a Popeye feature that he wants to make “as artful and unrealistic as possible.” Okay, sure, let’s do it.
– Another grab from Bleeding Cool: pulling out the details of new projects from Armando Iannucci (probably the world’s busiest, funniest man at the moment) from his recent interview with The Guardian. In addition to new episodes of Veep and The Thick of It, he’s developing another show for HBO based around big tech companies like Google and Facebook, and the twentysomething billionaires who run them. He also suggests this upcoming Thick of It series will be its last, at least for a while.
– As a big fan of Stephen Tobolowsky and his excellent storytelling documentary Stephen Tobolowsky’s Birthday Party, I haven’t kept up with his /Film podcast as much as I’d like to. I’ve heard nothing but great things about it, though, and I’m glad to see it’s being upgraded to a PRI program, likely primed to play as a sort of cousin to This American Life. /Film’s David Chen will stay on as a producer.
– I’m no Michael Bay fan, but I do have a favorite Michael Bay movie moment, and it’s Michael Clarke Duncan running down the corridor holding his clone-guts in The Island. As much as he was practically a household name for starring in The Green Mile, he was really more of a reliably magnetic, oddball character actor, like a massive Steve Buscemi. That is a very sad, shocking loss for anyone who likes movies. Here’s a clip of him holding his own with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. I remember bursting out laughing in the theater for at least two of his choices in this one short bit.
– Today in streams and freebies: 1) In case you didn’t hear, Troma Entertainment has put 150 of their films on YouTube for free, which is kind of amazing even if I can only handle one Troma movie every couple of years. 2) Dan Deacon’s lush, excellent new album America is streaming on Soundcloud. 3) You can also hear Deerhoof’s new album at NPR. I listened to it on the way to Dragon*Con and thought it was fantastic. 4) The Raveonettes, always better in my opinion than they get credit for, just put their new one, Observator, on Rolling Stone. 5) The Pharmacy, a highly underrated garage-pysch throwback out of Seattle, is offering their new full-length, Stoned & Alone, for streaming and purchase at their record label’s Bandcamp. 6) Supposedly the prolific Fresh & Onlys are streaming their fifth album over at The Hype Machine, though I can’t figure out how to work it. Presumably, it’s another collection of pleasantly catchy fuzz-pop.