September 2009

Check into the DOLLHOUSE w/ Season 1 Recap

By Zack Smith
posted: 25 September 2009 04:24 pm ET

With the second season of Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse about to premiere, we thought new or lapsed viewers could use some catching up. 





One of comics’ welcome surprise hits in the past year was Marvel’s adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s original novel of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by noted Oz comic creator Eric Shanower and Skottie Young.  Now, the series continues with The Marvelous Land of Oz, an eight-issue adaptation of the second book in the classic series.  From Jack Pumpkinhead to Tik-tok, it’s a whole new world of characters that massively expands the universe created in the first novel.  With the 70th anniversary of the Judy Garland film in effect, we chatted with Shanower and Young about their return to Oz.

Read the full story here!

Dan Aykroyd takes Glenwood South

Soul man

23 SEP 2009  •  by Zack Smith

It’s 10 p.m. on a Tuesday, and I’m on the roof of Solas waiting to see if I’m going to get to drink vodka out of a glass skull with one of the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players.

Dan Aykroyd Meets Fans and Pours Vodka.

Dan Aykroyd Meets Fans and Pours Vodka.

A strange-but-true story.  Click on the above picture to find out what happened!


Reprinted from the Independent Weekly

Local gaming joins the spark conflagration


Established and evolving storytelling mediums are at home at SPARKcon, as the annual event expands into new arenas—some stranger than others.


Even with video game sales down this year, games still represent a creative medium that has opened new doors for storytelling, with games such as Batman: Arkham Asylum and The Beatles: Rock Band earning raves from critics not previously enamored of the medium. So it’s only fitting that the newest feature at SPARKcon is gamingSPARK, a representation of both new and established Triangle game makers.

Local games being spotlighted include a sample from Achron, a highly anticipated time-travel combat game from N.C. State University grad student Chris Hazard, Spark Plug Games’ DQ Tycoon, which lets players manage their own virtual Dairy Queen, and Spectral Assault, a physics-heavy adventure created by a group of nine N.C. State students.

The spotlight on local gamers takes place at 5 p.m. at Urban Design Center on Friday, Sept.18. It also features a special demonstration of Alii Motion Technology, presented by Alex Lian of Duke University. This cross-platform technology has the capability to turn any standard Webcam into a motion controller for a real-action gaming experience. It might be a sign that the Triangle will be home to those who will create not only the games of the future, but new ways of playing them as well.

Those with a more competitive streak can embrace the area’s biggest gaming hit, Epic’s Gears of War 2, with a gaming tournament that promises a 32-inch Hitachi TV from Integrated Audio Video as its grand prize. The event starts at 1 p.m., and will continue until one chain-gun-wielding super-soldier remains.

Elsewhere this weekend, poetrySPARK encourages experienced and aspiring creative types with an open mic night at Morning Times at 10 E Hargett St. on Friday. Saturday’s poetrySPARK event features a series of poetry readings. from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. The themed readings include “Formal/ Metrical,” “Narrative/ Lyrical,” “Humor Me” and “Experimental.” In a related event, storySPARK will feature a poetry slam on Fayetteville Street on Saturday from 9:15 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

FilmSPARK deals head-on with the issue of film production in North Carolina, showcasing both shorts by local filmmakers and plans for attracting more productions to the area. The shorts series, held at Artspace, includes films touching on everything from the end of Kings Barcade in downtown Raleigh (“The Death of Kings”) to stalking St. Nick for failing to deliver a childhood gift (“Killing Santa”). The shorts run from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Artspace on Sunday.

Earlier in the day, SPARK-goers will be able to actively participate in plans for the future of North Carolina filmmaking with “The State of Film in N.C. Roundtable.” The discussion of how to keep North Carolina an attractive state for film production (seriously, the Wilmington-filmed One Tree Hill can’t run forever) includes N.C. Film Office director Aaron Syrett, N.C. State professors Devin and Marsha Orgeron, and the Indy‘s David Fellerath. The event takes place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Artspace.

And you can even meet an unusual NC celebrity filmmaker in the form of Chris Knight, who is highlighted Friday as “The Dude Who Took Down Viacom.” Knight’s unsuccessful bid for a seat on Rockingham County’s board of education in 2006 spawned a viral YouTube clip comparing his efforts to Star Wars. Unfortunately, his results inspired a copyright infringement lawsuit from Viacom—a lawsuit he managed to win. Come hear his story at Artspace on Friday from 5:45 p.m. to 7 p.m., and take comfort in the fact that North Carolinians are making impressions in all forms of creative media—even those prone to legal scrutiny. —Zack Smith

It’s Raining Supernatural Cats & Dogs at Dark Horse

By Zack Smith

Dark Horse Comics is known for their fan-favorite supernatural books, from the over-the-top zombie-whupping of The Goon to the world-threatening menaces battled by Hellboy and the B.P.R.D..  But these supernatural heroes aren’t exactly into two-fisted action…in fact, they don’t even have fists.

Though best-known for such raucous comedy books as Dork! and Milk and Cheese, Evan Dorkin revealed a scarier side to his oeuvre in the award-winning short story “Stray” with Jill Thompson.  That tale of pets solving a supernatural mystery led to a series of follow-ups within anthologies, and now the new four-issue miniseries Beasts of Burden.  Each self-contained issue leads the animals of Burden into a new mystical mystery full of murders, monsters, mayhem and menace.  And if you haven’t read the original short stories, they’re online on Dark Horse’s website.

We got Dorkin on the phone to explain this tale of paranormal pets to us.  The highlights of our conversation follow, touching on everything from death in comics to his collaboration to Jill Thompson to why, despite appearances, this is not an all ages-book.


Read the full interview here!

Read my thoughts on a sampling of upcoming movies and book signings in the NC Area! 

An example:

Zombieland @ multiplexes When I interviewed acclaimed author Junot Díaz earlier this year, he made a profound and haunting observation about the current direction of popular culture: “Men are from zombies, women are from vampires.” While the Young Adult section of most Borders stores are near pure-black with dark covers to various Twilight rip-offs, the posters for most horror films and comic books are still filled with manly men ruthlessly slaughtering the undead. Obviously, this implies men don’t read, but it does explain the screams of “HELL YEAH!” I’ve heard every time the trailer to Zombieland, featuring zombie attacks and kills scored to Van Halen’s “Everybody Wants Some,” plays before a film. Given the ultra-qualified cast of Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, Emma Stone and Woody Harrelson (who assaulted a reporter earlier this year, claiming he was a zombie), this comic take on the apocalypse could be the next Shaun of the Dead. Also, Twilight sucks. There, I said it. —ZS

Cheap celluloid dates at the Colony Theater’s Cinema Overdrive

$5 pays for the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge of it

9 SEP 2009  •  by Zack Smith

How hardcore a cinephile are you? Sure, you occasionally take in an indie film or even head to one of the screenings of older movies throughout the Triangle. But are you prepared for a new series celebrating older films that perhaps only serious film geeks have heard of?

Find out more here!

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