Adapting to Prometheus

Alien is one of the most important franchises in my long list of fandoms, mostly because of a love for HR Giger’s designs, and partly because of the long running canon that is so incredibly immersive. A simple yet unstoppable life cycle with a simple objective: adapt.

So when it was announced the Alien Prequel was going to happen, I was ecstatic! Ridley Scott coming back to the world he helped to create? I was so ready.

And then I saw the film, and I was in a bit of shock. I wanted to like it, I DID like it, but there was so much “missing” or different from what I was expecting, it was hard to put it into words.

Well enough time has passed, so I’d like to share some of my (and other people’s) thoughts on the subject.

I actually filmed myself crying at 2 am after coming home from this film’s midnight release. I won’t be posting it because it’s absolutely terrifying. I’m delirious and upset in it, barely comprehensible. I’ve had a chance to re-watch it and will try and translate my rambling. Basically there was so much I really REALLY wanted to like, but it wasn’t the prequel I felt we deserved. Number one as a Giger fan, and number two as a Xenomorph fan. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing film and a great ancient aliens themed story, but it’s NOT a suitable Alien prequel in my opinion. There is so much I wish would have been done differently, so much more I was expecting. And bottom line for me, it didn’t bring the Giger elements to life with the epic visuals and visceral realism they deserved. The biomechanical wasn’t alive, it was just limp and squishy. Sorry, but that’s what I got out of it.

I do have to say, the ancient alien theories, space jesus, and replicant/android stories were all great parts of the film for me. The film itself has a epic and grand scale WITH a comprehensible and intelligent script that is rare to see come out of Hollywood these days. BUT… there’s the but… it all falls short for me when trying to apply it to the Alien canon. Even if you never have the Queen life cycle, it still doesn’t fit. The space jockeys are humanoids in space suits? NO no no no! The jockey is fused to the chair, like he was grown into it. It’s not an unexplored idea (Farscape anyone?), and wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to elaborate on.
Aliens-kidsjockey

And the primordial black goo? Sure, it creates life from life. In terms of the Engineers, it takes the basics of them to create us, and the Xenomorph is the amplification of our truest nature and base instinct, to kill and multiply. To survive. It all works for me up to that point.

But then it takes a turn for the worse imo, when the timeline shifts, it’s a different ship, and different planet, and a different type of technology than I’ve always pictured Giger’s art working as.

As you can tell I’m ultimately conflicted. It is an absolutely amazing final product, but you have to understand I have dreams of how Giger’s imagery moves and works, and this film did not represent that. Lets go back. Ridley Scott captured this right away in the first film, and so simply too I might add. The egg feels alive with fiberglass and shadows of rubber gloves, the face hugger looks real with foam rubber and shellfish parts, the chest burster is puppeteers moving it’s arms and beating it’s heart as if it’s alive, and the Alien is an awkward and terrifying new life that wants to simply kill and create new life, played by an awkward and alien looking young man who was cast simply because of his presence (love you Bolaji Badejo, wherever you are). It brought to life Giger’s art in it’s most visceral form.
bolajibadejo

This movie is beautiful to look at, and completely immerses you in the story. And there’s all the concepts there to make it a great and direct Alien prequel. But then at some point in the process, like he’s done before with Blade Runner (if you haven’t watched the making of documentary on the most recent dvd set, you should), and rightly so since he’s the chosen director, he picked up the pieces and made something he thought would be better.

I can still be in love with production and creature design. The amazing sculptor Dayton Allen over at Sith_fire30 Creations found this gem, a montage of early concept designs by artist Carlos Huante from the early days of preproduction. It’s worth watching just to see what COULD have been.

Also, there’s plenty of resources out there to explain the making of this film, but this is one of my favorites. comicbookgirl19 is really great at explaining things in her vlog, it’s really worth watching;


In short, although this film isn’t what I wanted it to be, it still has me thinking about it as an epic cinematic event in my life. I’ll just keep over analyzing it while enjoying the scenery in my Giger themed bathroom.
self portrait at 19 yo
(self portrait of me at 19 with Giger art)

Game of Thrones Burlesque

Last year I wrote and performed a number inspired by my love of the series Game of Thrones and the books it’s based on A Song of Ice and Fire. I’d like to explain my concept, execution, and feelings about this number…

First of all, I’m a fan. No getting around that fact. So when my troupe decided to organize a TV themed show, I jumped on this number full force.
My original concept was based on the book’s style of POV chapters. I wanted to change characters throught the number since you can’t tell the story of A Song of Ice and Fire through just one character’s eyes. No. It actually started with Catelyn Stark, then went to Cersei Lannister, then ended with Daenerys Targaryen. Alas, having my hair colored as it is, that would have involved 3 wigs… which I did try, but could only fit one under another, not two… So I had to scrap a character. That became Cersei because although we all love the hate the Lannisters, we call love the Starks and Dany and want them both to win in some way… although the won’t I’m sure :( Really, reading these books is incredibly masochistic. They hurt all the time!
Sorry Cersei

The number starts with the Stark sigil, which is actually painted in Tully colors, mostly because silver/grey shows up better on blue than black. I used a spray on fabric puff paint so the color would show up against the crushed panne velvet then layered enamel spray paint on top of that.
2012-08-15 18.47.18

I came out in a Winterfell inspired coat and dress I actually made for a Lord of the Rings inspired costume, but converted for this number. In hindsight I wish I had made it blue to keep with the dark Stark theme. I ALSO realized after the fact it would have been much more fitting if I had portrayed Lyanna Stark instead, perhaps with a crown of blue roses… but show characters are much more recognizable. And I really REALLY love Lady St… well, no book spoilers here. READ them!

So then I dance a bit with a sword, cause Tully/Stark is badass like that! Strip, become vulnerable… then go back and reveal the next curtain. Thanks to my uncle Trader Scott and his amazing vinyl cutting skills we made stencils for these huge “tapestries”.
2012-08-15 18.37.511

Then the “big” reveal. Dany comes out in fiery belly dance inspired garb and hand sequined dragons for pasties and undergarments.
456424_393079400738829_39211876_o

This wig was glued to my head so when I transitioned behind the curtain I could just fluff up my hair and be done with it. It worked flawlessly.

This has been officially the proudest moment of my Burlesque career so far. I could not be happier with the translation of “POV change” and the audience reaction. I didn’t try to “look” like these characters, I tried to portray them. I’ve been told by some that even without being familiar with the show/books it was still enjoyable, and that’s all I could ask for.
217059_4140143494831_499342804_n

I’d like to shout out to my mentors in Salome Cabaret including Kisa von Teasa and Siren Santina, and Talloolah Love for putting on one hell of a show and allowing me to participate in it. I can’t thank you all enough!
Thanks to Stuart for grabbing a front row seat and capturing this moment for me with his phone! Enough talk, DANCE!

Star Wars Celebration 6 and Dragon*con

Now that I’ve had some time to decompressed, here’s some thoughts about the “epic con trip” we just partook:

On day 11 I decided that 10 days was my limit. By day 12 I was sick. If they ever schedule Star Wars Celebration that close to Dragoncon again, that will be the first year I skip Dragoncon OR at least go home between.
Dragoncon

I say this every year, but next year I’m ONLY bringing one major costume. I mean it this time. I missed a lot of hang outs with some friends to wear other costumes that I didn’t even get decent pictures in.
Lady Loki

Jon and I got to participate a little in the greatest proposal of our friends Chris and Leah at the Rebel Legion group photo!
Chris and Leah

Celebration 6 was better than I remember C3 being, I will definitely be going back to Florida for C7!
Star Wars Celebration 6 Flagship Eclipse

Epic costuming is fun, even if people don’t remember the movie! The second day I went 6 hours in Charal from Ewok 2 Battle for Endor!
Charal

People REALLY like science fiction mash-ups, $15000 like (my husband made Epimetheus Fett):
http://www.thedentedhelmet.com/content/you-wish-artist-highlight-jon-wollack-52.html
http://www.facebook.com/asyouwishproj

As you wish helmet

Dragon*con burlesque is EPIC, performing it feels epic! A huge thank you to Talloolah Love!
Dany Burlesque

My photo collections:
As You Wish Helmet Project – Celebration 6
Star Wars Celebration Part 1
Star Wars Celebration Part 2
Rebel Legion Group Photo
dragoncon 2012

2012 Winter Movie Season

After a mostly comic book based summer, and the worst low period in box office history in four years, I’m ready for the new season to start! Already seen Resident Evil: Retribution, it was an “ok” start. So here’s what I’m looking forward to:

9/21
Dredd

9/28
Looper – The first original science fiction we’ve had worth seeing in a looooong time!

10/5
Frankenweenie

Taken 2

10/12
Argo

Sinister

10/19
Paranormal Activity 4 – Probably won’t get a resolution, but looks better then the last “in the 80’s” attempt, bleh.

10/26
Cloud Atlas

Silent Hill: Revelation

11/2
This Must Be the Place

Wreck-It Ralph

11/9
Skyfall

11/16
Anna Karenina

Lincoln

11/21
Red Dawn

11/30
Killing Them Softly

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning – Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, SIGN ME UP!

12/17
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Les Miserables

12/21
Jack Reacher

12/25
Django Unchained

Tim Burton Fancy

Like many of my generation, we have been greatly influenced by Tim Burton in SO many ways. I started to type up a facebook status today:

“Ok, so Dark Shadows was beautiful but pointless, Abraham Lincoln VH fell short from the book form, and NO ONE seems to care about Frankenweenie as a Frankenweenie/Vincent combo but me. It’s all right Tim Burton, I still think you’ve got what counts. A beautiful eye, dry and morbid sense of humor, and an understanding of being an outcast. You keep on working sir!”

But it got me thinking, why this attachment? Why this sense of loyalty to someone who probably doesn’t care if he still has a single fan? So let’s take a look at some history from his story as interpreted by me…

Vincent
Disney Influence
Who doesn’t like Disney?!? Tim Burton liked Disney, since he worked for them at first as an animator. It would be an on again off again relationship throughout his career, but more than that, the influences of live action films like Mary Poppins and animation like Snow White. They were his childhood memories, and he became ours.

Pee Wee
Dreams In Color
Tim Burton’s first live action film brought him into the world of family humor. Jokes that were appealing to BOTH children and adults, and a character/comedian we all admired, the perfect beginning for us to truly fall in love with him as a story-teller. It may not be entirely the Gothic Horror we now identify him with, but watch the first 2 min of the movie and tell me you don’t see the same style later in BIG FISH. A fantasy version of our own reality.

Nightmare
Beetlejuice to Nightmare Before Christmas
For 6 years Burton shelled out 5 films that built the fantasy world we came to believe he came from. Decaying stone towers, snow on green grass, skeletons that talk, clowns that kill. All with main characters that just DON’T fit in with everyone else. He put us into places we wanted to live with characters we, the social outcasts, could identify with. The feeling of being alone didn’t seem so lonely anymore when someone else was putting it on screen in such a beautiful context.

Ed Wood
Heroes Unappreciated
At this point the world loved Tim Burton, but I don’t think he knew why. He had unintentionally labeled himself as a Gothic Storyteller with darkness and shadows. With a sense of humor hardly anyone got at the time, he took his darkness one step further with the sarcastic tale of film maker Ed Wood. But Burton played a joke on all of us, he was telling us the truth. Ed Wood did two things in his life, he got to meet and honor his idol Bela Lugosi, and he got to make HIS films, even if no one quite understood them (or him). At this point, so had Tim Burton. He got to meet and honor one of his idols Vincent Price with one of the most heart wrenching scenes in his career, and he was making films based almost entirely on his visions. It sounds like this would be where the fairy tale would end, right? The film wasn’t appreciated at the time for what it was, wasn’t even understood by the public much like the film’s subject, and so begins the part of the story where we learn Burton is human just like the rest of us.

Mars Attacks
Science Fiction Satire Based On Bubblegum Cards
After a stint as Producer for Batman Forever and James and the Giant Peach, Burton got back in the conception and directors chair with Mars Attacks. I’m going to be candid here. IT’S A RIDICULOUS FILM! Just read the wikipedia description please.

Based on the cult trading card series of the same name, the film uses elements of black comedy, surreal humor, and political satire, and is a parody of science fiction B movies. Mars Attacks! stars an ensemble cast, which includes Jack Nicholson, Lukas Haas, Annette Bening, Jim Brown, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Glenn Close, Martin Short, Jack Black, Natalie Portman, Danny DeVito, and Christina Applegate.

Everything about that description is hilarious. So the public ate it up, made it a blockbuster. This film is 100% conceived by Burton. Think about it, if this movie had half the budget, half the star power, and a different writer/director, who the hell would watch a movie based on a now vintage trading card set? So really, he’s been trying this formula ever since, but for various reasons just hasn’t been the same.

Planet of the Apes
Two Outta Three Ain’t Bad
I’ll summarize this period as simply as I can. Sleepy Hollow took us back to that Gothic world we first fell in love with our hero in. Then Planet of the Apes took us somewhere we didn’t really want to be, but once again, this isn’t Burton’s fault. He’d had his versions of OZ (of the Wizard’s sort), Jurassic Park, Mary Reilly, Catwoman, and Superman all taken away from him after some very stupid studios got scared off by bottom lines. So when his version of Apes started getting the “rushed by the studio” treatment, he just accepted it. Then we end this part with Big Fish. I’ve actually read this book, I can’t get through it, I do not like it. But Tim Burton took what was good in it, the parts I couldn’t see, and made it an adult fairy tale in the world he showed us in Pee Wee, he made our back yard beautiful, and he made us fall in love with a fantasy again.

This point in his life also signaled a change that is really none of our business. I will NOT go into his personal life, I’ll just say that this period was the transition from having a muse in Lisa Marie, to a confidant and a colleague in Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp. Two people who would do anything for him, and will stand by him through the rest of his life.

Todd
Acceptance For The Things We Can Not Change
Two more Gothic musicals, two re-imaginings of almost forgotten but still beloved tales, and two producers credits with Timur Bekmambetov related films (giving a new visionary director the same chance he once had), as fans we’re left holding our love in our hands and wondering “what should we do with it?” It still feels like the world we love, but we somehow still feel a little lost. But isn’t that why we fell in love with our hero in the first place? Perhaps our expectations are too high, perhaps we’ve misunderstood his intentions as a story-teller? Or perhaps he’s still that visionary with an understanding of being an outcast that helps us feel a little less lonely.

It’s always been his world, but it’s our choice to live in it or not.
Burton

Fantasy Novel Writing

Years ago I was accepted into a creative writing magnet high school. I enjoyed every second of it, felt like I learned a lot, but mostly walked away thinking it’d never be worth publishing because writing is so hard to make a successful full time job.

Flash forward to now and I have dozens of manuscripts, outlines, and character maps laid out that are only collecting dust. Then the other day I pulled one out that is 10 years old and just started typing.

It’s a fantasy epic that has half a dozen main characters, languages, cultures and a few sub plots to supplement the big picture. In two days I’ve written 5000 words and edited 4000 of them. Apparently my worries of picking back up the creative spark were unfounded. I wanted my first officially finished book to be a science fiction, but this one is coming out a little quicker then I expected so I’m not going to complain.

So in addition to sewing, burlesque, online sales, and pug care-giving, I am now writing again to hopefully publish. *raises glass* Here’s to motivation and preservation!

TRON: that’s what I’m talking about!

I’m not saying I didn’t like TRON: Legacy, but I was sorely disappointed in the story compared to the original film. In the first film Tron was the hero and Flynn was the observer/sidekick of HIS story. So in the second film, why did Tron as a character have to take such a back seat? Where was the legacy? I felt like something was missing, especially since it’s implied that in the grid-years it’s been between 800 and 1000 years, at the very least just change the title of the film to something other than TRON, like THE GRID maybe? Or FLYNN RETURNS? Anyway, enough with the negative, here’s the positive:

So when I heard about an animated series that would bridge the gap between movies with a story about a possible successor of Tron? HELL YEAH I got excited! It has an all star cast AND Bruce Boxleitner as the voice of Tron, AND Peter Chung (Aeon Flux) style character designs. It sounds too good to be true, EXACTLY what I was missing from the film’s story.

So Disney has the first episode available to watch on youtube, and I just watched it. Although it lacks the pace and excitement of the films, it is just as much a feast for the eyes as ever. The story is exactly what I was hoping for, and even a little bit more. Hopefully, like any television series, it will pick up speed. I need everyone to watch this series so they fill in the story this franchise sorely needed. Then, IF we get a third film, it won’t feel quite as defeating when they continue the story but still call it TRON without the Tron ;)