10 things I should be ashamed of … but I’m not

Fox Searchlight Pictures

10. My blood feud with Michael Cera

For years, the very sight of actor Michael Cera has launched me into a blind rage. When I see him in commercials or in magazines, I immediately want to bully him. I’m compelled to give him a wedgie and steal his lunch money. I’m filled with an irrepressible urge to stuff him into a locker. My entire being burns with a desire to grab his arm, keep slapping it into his face, and ask him why he keeps hitting himself.

The thing is, I’ve read enough interviews to feel fairly comfortable that he’s not the same person he seems to play in every movie. And I actually have no problem with his most famous role, as lovestruck George Michael Bluth on Arrested Development.

I think it was Juno that sent me over the edge. Continue reading

Posted in Geek Alert, Just Sayin', Music, Television | 29 Comments

It all started with a Big Bang

This is the way the world ends.

Well, not the whole world.

This is the way my world ends, then.

You look confused. Let me back up a little.

My name is Billy Bishop, but you may know me as The Big Bang—the world’s most powerful super-powered hero.

Actually, you don’t, although you used to. Don’t worry, I’ll explain that in a bit.

When I got my powers, I thought I’d hit the jackpot. Sure, absorbing all that radiation stung like a son of a bitch. My hair fell out, my skin turned a sickly yellow, and my body burned for months in places you places you literally cannot imagine. But I was alive! The experimental treatment not only got rid of my cancer, but it imbued me with the ability to reshape reality itself. I could alter the chemical composition of molecules with a gesture, rearrange subatomic particles with a glance. I could travel through time and space and other dimensions you’ve never even heard of like crossing the street.

Pretty sweet, right?

Problem is, I’m not really good with science. Continue reading

Posted in Comics, Fiction, Geek Alert, The End of the World | 1 Comment

Five signs the end is near: February 21, 2013

The ice caps are melting …

The meteor that slammed into the Chelyabinsk region last Friday must have seemed like something out of a Michael Bay movie to the poor Russians who witnessed it: loud, bright, fast and utterly incomprehensible. And like the first Transformers movie, it was only the beginning of the madness. (That very weekend, Russia suffered the indignity of serving as the setting for the cacophonous empty-calorie spectacle A Good Day to Die Hard. Hadn’t those poor people endured enough?) Continue reading

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The enemy within

“THAT’S for not returning my emails!”

You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I’m a violent guy.

No, really.

First of all, I’m a consumer of violence. I’m drawn to thrilling crime fiction, in which sex is used as a weapon and bullets pierce the night like lightning bugs.

I geek out on superhero comics, with grim-faced vigilantes and haughty superegos in bright primary colors dispensing justice while acting outside the law.  Continue reading

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Def Black Riot: The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle

Or: “Al Stewart, Tenacious D and the beginnings of my freelance writing career”

Tenacious D, the mock-rock duo comprising actors Jack Black and Kyle Gass, announced recently that they’re looking to host Festival Supreme this October, a kind of Lollapalooza of comedy-rock acts that could include such names as Flight of the Conchords, the Lonely Island and even Spinal Tap and Eric Idle (although “It might just be Tenacious D and Weird Al,” as Black concedes).

The concept of such a festival has me ambivalent. I became a fan of Tenacious D through their half-hour HBO episodes somewhere around the turn of the millennium, and eagerly bought the pair’s self-titled album when it came out in 2001. But after a while, I just kind of  … moved on. The joke seemed to have run its course, as the 2006 film Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny made painfully clear. Continue reading

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Top 10 albums of 2012

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I’m not a big fan of compiling “top 10” lists (despite having done so for more than a decade), as my tastes and favorites often mutate and evolve from one day to the next. But as a reader, I’m as susceptible to their allure as the next person. So here’s a subjective, subject-to-change list of 10 albums released last year that I enjoyed, for those who might be interested (both of you).


Continue reading

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Five signs the end is near: January 2, 2013

What are these guys smiling about?

So Dec. 21, 2012—the date the Mayans supposedly singled out as the end of the world—has come and gone. But here in the scary, post-Mayan Calendar landscape of 2013, we face no shortage of troubling signs about the future: North Korea’s recent rocket launch, more strife in the Middle East, the coming Antichrist and that whole Honey Boo Boo thing. But true tribulation and suffering rarely come from expected corners; they sneak up on us from the cover of those places we’re not watching. It’s the quieter, more mundane omens that are the most troublesome: “This is the way the world ends,” as T.S. Eliot intoned; “Not with a bang but a whimper.” Continue reading

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On Regret

Before I turned 40 I’d already marked the passing of childhood friends who died too young, and felt the sharp pang of regret that I didn’t do enough to stay in touch while they were still alive. I decided I didn’t want that to happen with Tony*.

Tony was one of my best friends in high school. When his parents kicked him out of the house, which was often, I let him sleep on my bedroom floor without telling my parents. When I lost my virginity to a woman 12 years my senior, it was Tony who helped engineer the whole thing, borrowed my car to take all of our friends home from the party at her house, and slept in my car in her driveway the next morning.

I moved to Atlanta 11 years ago, and we haven’t been really close for far longer than that. Continue reading

Posted in Essays, Young Love | 2 Comments

Tranquilizers, hair metal, ocelots and Farscape: My checkered family history

Editor’s Note: The following text is a lecture on tranquilizers written and performed for Syllabus: Animal Husbandry on Wednesday, Sept. 26. Syllabus is an offshoot of Write Club Atlanta in which six guest “professors” each present a seven-minute “class” on an assigned topic relating to that month’s major, which is chosen by the winner of the previous month’s event. (This month’s professors had the mischievous mind of Jackson Pearce to thank for Animal Husbandry.)

Good evening, class. I’ve been asked to address you tonight on the subject of tranquilizers, especially as they apply to the practice of animal husbandry. As it happens, my family history makes me uniquely qualified to speak on this topic. Continue reading

Posted in Just Sayin', Music, Out and About | 1 Comment

Fighting against the darkness

In the hours immediately following the July 20 shooting spree in Aurora, Colo., it felt like Sept. 12, 2001 all over again. The horrific murder of 12 innocents and the injury of more than 50 others brought a nation together—united in our shock, outrage and grief at the senseless loss of life and our compassion for the victims and survivors and their loved ones.

And as has so often been the case in our recent history, that unity was short-lived. Continue reading

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