Tuesday, July 23, 2013


I really went back and forth about making a post regarding a recent scandal involving blatant plagiarism. It seems like everyone has something to say about it. As an amateur writer and horror enthusiast, I feel compelled to address the issue. What the hell, here’s my two cents.

I only recently became aware of a certain writer in the horror genre who was outed for plagiarism on more than several occasions. Initially, my understanding is that the writer ignored the issue at hand. One of her employers came to her defense without even hearing the facts. I guess he has since recanted. Eventually, she asked one of the bloggers who outed her to take down his post (he obviously declined) comparing her pieces to the ones she stole. Then she issued a half assed apology via twitter (how mature) and soon deleted it along with her account and website. It appears she has gone into hiding now.

It’s hard to say if this scandal would be as huge if said writer was not dating an incredibly famous Hollywood director. Lots of people have chastised those discussing her personal life. However, Miss Writer was the one who name dropped Mr. Director on a regular basis. She even coaxed him into writing the forward for her upcoming book. She put her personal life on public display therefore it is fair game.

I think the most disheartening aspect of this scandal is that fact that she’s single handedly given women in horror a bad name. Women in the film industry (outside of actresses) are pretty scarce; women in the horror genre are even rarer. She just fed into the dumb blonde/pretty face stereotype. Miss Writer admitted she made a mistake. A mistake is an isolated error in judgment. However, Miss Writer’s errors were not isolated incidents. She continued to lie and steal other hardworking writers’ work. The worst part is that she collected a paycheck in the process. Several other writers have come forward since stating she stole pieces from them as well. She even burgled user reviews on IMDB.com! Miss Writer apparently tried to blame her intern for the snafu a la Ashlee Simpson so I do not sympathize with her at all.

I often wonder what it would be like to be able to write professionally. I love writing and really wish I had more time to do so. I’m just not sure I could do it as a career because it might not be as much fun. On the other hand, if I had the chance to write about horror movies and film, I’m sure I could make it work! My favorite comment on the scandal is this:

"I used to write for Fangoria.

I can attest that it's very easy to write about horror films when you are passionate about said subject matter. Having to swipe or copy the work of other students of film is not only lazy, but it cheapens the passions of all the hard working individuals who take the time to have a voice.

I'll tolerate much, but to steal something because you can't be bothered to come up with your own idea when that is literally all you're being paid to do...

I guess she's just a pretty face.


I hope Miss Writer is made an example of and that this behavior will not be tolerated in the industry. I don't think she's truly sorry for what she did. I think she's sorry she got caught. Miss Writer expressed that she was leaving journalism behind for a while which is a relief because she’s not very good at it. Even her copy/paste job was sub-par. She’s also indicated that she’s received death threats which I don’t necessarily buy. I will admit I felt some jealously when this budding romance came about and I watched her walking the red carpet at The Oscars. She’s attractive, she gets to write about horror movies for a living, and she’s dating one of the most influential directors of our time. That hint of jealously has definitely subsided. At least I can sleep with myself at night knowing I'm an honest person. Now I wouldn't want to be in her shoes even if QT is the one drinking out of them.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pacific Rim

This past weekend, I finally witnessed the long awaited summer blockbuster, PACIFIC RIM. It seemed like we waited an eternity for this much hyped film. Well, let me tell you the wait was worth it. To be honest, I generally avoid blockbuster action films. It’s a genre I can never relate to. I even have a hard time watching films based on comic books and I love comic books. On the other hand, I expected nothing but the best from del Toro when anticipating PACIFIC RIM. He definitely delivered! It’s no secret I have a huge affinity for Guillermo del Toro. His Spanish horror stories are absolutely riveting and he brought to life on the big screen one of my favorite comic book characters, Hellboy. I'm still praying for HELLBOY 3!

I’ve heard several comparisons to PACIFIC RIM to INDEPENDENCE DAY, TRANSFORMERS, CLOVERFIELD, THE AVENGERS, and the new TRON. I find this very tiresome and would expect these comparisons from people who live in their tiny world of Michael Bay and Bret Ratner films.

I think you need to fully understand the rich history of kaiju to really appreciate PACIFIC RIM. I am no expert on the culture of kaiju, but I know a few slightly obsessive collectors to have picked up a thing or two. In the same vain that many comic book characters have extensive backgrounds; many of the monsters from yesterday have a similar history. The Japanese have been making kaiju films and animated series for more than sixty years, long before Will Smith and his hokey aliens. The intention behind PACIFIC RIM was to take an established idea and pay tribute by building on that idea. Much like Tarantino pays homage to kung fu & spaghetti westerns, del Toro pays homage to kaiju.

Now anyone can take an already established idea and try to revamp it, i.e. Zack Snyder and Bryan Singer. The difference where del Toro succeeds and the others fail lies within his passion. Del Toro is a fan of the genre first and foremost and his ardor really shines through the screen. He makes films about the things he loves whereas Michael Bay makes movies for profit.

I have heard a few complaints about the acting being over the top. Well, it’s supposed to be over the top. These monsters and robots are larger than life. The human actors should only match this exaggeration. Personally, I don’t feel the acting is excessive. Ron Perlman’s cameo was perfect and a big personality such as his should always be outrageous. Charlie Hunnam’s role was great even if his American accent is lacking. Clifton Collins Jr. was definitely a highlight for me. Indris Elba’s role as Stacker Pentecost was much akin to a modern day Obi Wan Kenobi. I never cared much for The Wire, but it’s quit clear the man can act. Of course there is ample CGI, but it never really takes away from the story. My major issue with most action films is that the characters are often severely underdeveloped. That is not the case with PACIFIC RIM. The characters are all pretty relatable and it’s easy to empathize with them. When’s the last time you felt any empathy for Shia LeDouche or Megan Fox? The story within PACIFIC RIM has a fluidity that is so often blown to bits (pun intended) in many recent action films.

I feel like the best thing about PACIFIC RIM is that it will amaze & awe adults just as much as it will for kids and that is a hard task to accomplish. This film is a beautifully done throwback to a much loved genre. Also, PACIFIC RIM has a cute English bulldog and dogs always sell me on anything.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Washington DC

Last week I had the opportunity to visit our great nation’s capital and really explore the city of Washington DC. I had been to DC prior to this trip, but just in passing. This time around I got to visit some dear friends who live in the city and finally experience Fourth of July festivities at their finest.

Most people visit the monuments during the day; however we explored them at night. The cool evening breeze was much more comfortable and the monuments just look beautiful lit up at night. We saw the Vietnam Memorial which was incredibly surreal. My father was a Vietnam veteran so this was extremely emotional to witness. We also visited the Korean War Memorial which is very eerie at night. Many people forget about the Korean War, but it was filled with so much loss and just as tragic. The MLK memorial is fairly new and done really well. I enjoyed the FDR memorial since it had a statue of his beloved Scottish terrier, Fala. The Capitol building did not impress me much since we have our own here in Austin. Although, out capital building has a more pinkish hue to it. All the monuments are filled with really inspiring quotes that strangely still seem relevant in this day and age.

Not too long ago, I decided that traditional ramen just wasn’t for me. I know it’s the big food trend right now so I bought into the hype and decided to give it a try. I was less than impressed by the ramen I had here in Austin. I had previously written it off completely until our friends recommended Toki Underground. I gave ramen another chance and was thoroughly surprised. The usual wait at Toki is 3-4 hours even on a slower weeknight, but it was well worth it. The vegetarian ramen was really flavorful and the noodles were delicious. If you get a chance to visit this place, I highly recommend it. It’s also right next door to a bar called The Pug and you can’t go wrong with pugs. I’m back on the ramen train guys!

Fourth of July was spent grilling and drinking. I was introduced to my new favorite beverage: RumChata. Horchata flavored rum, what could be more heavenly than that? At night we walked down towards the National Mall to watch the fireworks. It’s as if the entire city stopped for a moment just to watch the glorious spectacle. After the fireworks ended, the whole city of DC erupted into one big party. People were setting off fireworks & partying well into the night and the one after that and the one after that. I did not even know they could sell fireworks that big on a commercial level! It was truly a momentous occasion.

The next day we hit up as many museums as possible starting with the Museum of Crime and Punishment. This was by far my favorite museum! They had so much more exhibits than I ever anticipated everything from medieval torture devices to Old West & pirate memorabilia. The lobby of the museum holds Ted Bundy’s WV Beetle. The very car he used to kidnap women in. We also saw the car used in the Warren Betty/ Fay Dunaway film about Bonnie & Clyde. There was John Dillinger’s death mask as well as the machine gun (his little friend) used by Pacino in SCARFACE. The most fascinating memorabilia were the letters and personal belongings of several infamous serial killers. There was a card from David Berkowitz (son of sam), Jeffrey Dahmer’s intake sheet, a baseball signed by Charles Manson, and John Wayne Gacy’s paint kit and wallet. The most disturbing thing I came across was Gacy’s Pogo the Clown costume. The fact that I hate clowns and that this suit was worn by a man who buried several young men under his house sent shivers down my spine. There was an exhibit about dog fighting and the repercussions of offenders like Michael Vick. As an avid dog lover, I could not bear to look at any of it. As far as I’m concerned, Michael Vick is the poorest excuse for a human being and got off much easier than he should have. If I were ever to see him on the street, I would love nothing more than to spit in his face. The Museum of Crime and Punishment is truly engaging and I highly recommend visiting it if in the area.

We visited a few of the vast Smithsonian museums including the Natural History Museum, American Indian Museum, Air and Space Museum, and American History Museum. One could spend an entire week just exploring the Smithsonian Museums. The best part is that they are free of charge to visit. The natural history museum has some really awesome dinosaur skeletons. Seeing them up close and personal really puts into perspective how enormous these mysterious creatures once were. The mammals section looked exactly like any Cabela’s across the country with its great array of taxidermy. I really enjoyed the American Indian Museum since it actually relates to my heritage. The building itself is really beautiful and the exhibits are incredibly appealing. I thought the Air and Space Museum would be less than impressive since we have our own Space Center in Houston that I just recently visited for the third time. The museum was actually pretty interesting. I saw the plane Charles Lindbergh flew around the world and even a replica of Amelia Earhart’s plane. At the American History Museum, we got to see the actual counter from the famous Greensboro sit-ins. We also saw Dorothy’s (aka Lucille #2’s Mom) ruby slippers, the original Kermit the Frog, and a cassette tape of Pretty Hate Machine that I already have at home.

We got to see the White House, but you cannot get too close for security reasons. I merely wanted to catch a glimpse of Bo. The Washington Monument actually looks really cool with all the scaffolding attached to it to repair the damage done by the 2011 earthquake. I think it looks less phallic with the scaffolding. We also came across Ford’s Theater where Lincoln was shot and the house across the street where he subsequently died. There’s a ton of food trailers around the Mall area. Many of which have old school ice cream like from the truck that would drive through the neighborhood. We need more ice cream carts around Austin.

My second favorite part of the trip was visiting Georgetown. Georgetown is the site of one of my all time favorite films, THE EXORCIST. We got to see the steps where Father Karras fell to his death in the climatic scene. Originally called The Hitchcock Stairs, this famous location is a Mecca for any horror fan. The staircase is rather steep and a little intimidating. There are 75 steps that were padded with a thick rubber when the original stunt was filmed. The stunt was performed only two times. These days, people jog up and down them to feel the burn. I can’t tell you how excited I was to finally see this historic landmark! We also saw the bar from the book The Exorcist and its sequel Legion, The Tombs. Apparently it’s a bit of a frat bar now. Georgetown is just absolutely gorgeous. There’s so much lovely architecture and rich history. We visited a really great coffee shop/bakery called Baked & Wired. They had so many delicious treats that I did not have to wait hours for like at DC Cupcakes down the street.

Overall, I had a really wonderful time exploring Washington DC. I had an even better time visit old friends. I’d love to go back and visit during the Cherry Blossom Festival. Special thanks to John, Erin, and Finnegan for being amazing hosts! I love you guys.