Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

Posts made in: 'Nerd Alert!' (100) Currently Viewing: 51 - 60 of 100

June 2, 2014 at 11:52am

Nerd Alert! - Edge of Tomorrow, The Fault in Our Stars, Space Junk, final Cosmos ...

Groundhog D-Day: Tom Cruise stars in the sci-fi blockbuster "Edge of Tomorrow." Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros Entertainment

Refighting its battle each Monday, this is Nerd Alert, the Weekly Volcano's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.

After bluffin' with her muffin last Wednesday, Lady Gaga rescheduled her KeyArena Artpop performance for Aug. 8. You should wait before compiling your meat dress.


Spoiler alert for the faint of heart: I'm about to say complimentary things about Tom Cruise. Deal with it.

Shia LaBeouf, Gwyneth Paltrow, Keanu Reeves - I find it interesting to note which actors draw the most Internet ire. We give Woody Allen and Alec Baldwin passes for odious behavior, then dump our collective loathing on Katherine Heigl. (Actually, I'm OK with that one.) Perhaps the least deserving public piñata is one Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, the diminutive adrenaline junkie who taught us all how to bounce on couches, rock out in our tighty whities and run with blade hands. Yet I know people who refuse to see any Cruise vehicle, and they're missing out. Cruise has exceptional taste in directors. Thanks to J. J. Abrams and Brad Bird, the last two Missions: Impossible were awesome. His performance in Magnolia and unrecognizable appearance in Tropic Thunder were justly lauded. While he was miscast as Reacher, the movie itself was pretty good. Hell, I even liked Oblivion. If that doesn't convince you to give Edge of Tomorrow a shot, did you dig The Bourne Identity? Swingers? Mr. and Mrs. Smith? Two episodes of I Just Want My Pants Back? Then you have director Doug Liman to thank. At time of writing, Rotten Tomatoes lists a mid-90s score for Edge of Tomorrow, which boasts the additional selling point of not being a remake, reboot, sequel, threequel, prequel or ripoff. Maybe that alone should be enough to recommend it.

If, however, you're of a more literary bent, and/or you're a 15-year-old girl, you're probably hip to the publishing phenomenon that is John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. After numerous recommendations from critics and friends, my wife and I listened to the audiobook over the course of a drive to coastal Oregon. It blew us away. I bawled as if Fantine had beaten up my mom before both died of consumption and high notes. The point is it's a really great book. It takes the tried-and-true genre of romantic weepie and elevates it to what Time's reviewer called "damn near genius." I say there's no need to qualify its praise. Now, whether that means the movie will be good is anyone's guess, but folks I admire are involved (Mike Birbiglia, Willem Dafoe, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley and Green himself). Its early June release speaks to the studio's pride. But if you haven't read the book first, well ... that's on you. Bring your best crying face. Oh, and local cinemas will live-screen the movie along with cast interviews on Thursday, June 5, under the title "The Night Before Our Stars." Awww.

Or you could stay home and fire up a new season of Orange Is the New Black on Netflix. Bitches gots to learn, n'est-ce pas?


Friends, are you trapped in an orbital station 22,000 miles above the earth? Did George Clooney give his life to save yours, as you drifted in a terrifying shitstorm of visual effects?  Is your helmet filling with carbon dioxide and regret for starring in All About Steve? Then IMAX is here to help, or at least to explain why you're getting perforated with aluminum bullets. Pierce College presents a first come, first serve screening of the Tom Wilkinson-narrated documentary Space Junk. It's free, but BYOBB (Bring Your Own Barf Bag).

SPACE JUNK, 3:20 p.m., Pierce College Science Dome, 9401 Farwest Dr. SW, Lakewood, free, 360.786.9484

For only two nights and five bucks a ticket, Olympia Little Theatre presents a minimally-staged reading of a 2011 script called Good People. And you should care why? Its playwright, David Lindsay-Abaire, is the creative talent behind Fuddy Meers, Rabbit Hole, and Shrek the Musical, and his newest effort was nominated for a Tony for Best Play.

GOOD PEOPLE, 7:55 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave. NE, Olympia, $5, 360.786.9484


Cosmos completes its Spacetime Odyssey with an episode titled "Unafraid of the Dark." The Midnight Society could not be reached for comment.

Thursday, June 12, is my 46th birthday. I enjoy ice cream cake, AMC gift certificates, boob pics and the collected works of Iain Banks. In lieu of those, try to win me a role in Star Wars, Episode VII: The Phantom Lens Flare by donating to UNICEF here.  I appreciate it.

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and may you never win a Razzie for All About Steve.

May 28, 2014 at 11:22am

Nerd Alert! - Ant-Man and comedian Jackie Kashian

Small future … Ant-Man

One of the more interesting, possibly sketchy things about the deluge of comic book movies we find ourselves inundated with, is the prospect of Marvel and DC expanding their reach to include B-list titles, such as the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy adaptation. These production companies are so glut with profits that they now feel comfortable plumbing the depths to bring the moviegoing public characters they never knew they wanted to see.

One such property is the upcoming Ant-Man adaptation, which recently received a blow in the form of director Edgar Wright leaving the project. For many, the only reason anyone would even consider seeing an Ant-Man movie (despite the character being one of the original Avengers, back when the notion of "he's got all the powers of an ant!" seemed like a nifty idea) was the inclusion of the kinetic auteur, Wright, being involved. Wright's Cornetto Trilogy - Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End - along with his previous comic book adaptation, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, all seemed like indications that, if anyone could breathe goofy life into this middling superhero, it would be this man.

While no one has been announced to take the director's place, fellow nerd heroes Joss Whedon and James Gunn have taken to social media to mourn Wright's departure, which was reportedly amicable. The fate of Ant-Man, however, seems sealed - no one knew they wanted to see Ant-Man, and now most people should be assured that, in fact, they do not.


Jackie Kashian's recent comedy album's title serves as a nice litmus test to see if you're gonna be on Kashian's wavelength. It is titled This Will Make An Excellent Horcrux, and if that last word sounds like gibberish to you, then you're just not dorky enough.

As the host of The Dork Forest podcast, Kashian takes her nerdy obsessions seriously. Every episode finds her bringing another funny guest on to discuss what they nerd out over, and it can be a fascinating peek into areas of dorkdom that you possibly haven't given much thought to.

As a comedian, Kashian has a Midwestern charm that transcends the nerdier aspects of her material. With wordy jokes that are brimming with ideas and blink-and-you'll-miss-them mini-punchlines, Kashian can sometimes come across as a more affable Patton Oswalt. If you haven't seen her or heard her, you're really missing out.

JACKIE KASHIAN, 8 p.m. May 29, 8 and 10:30 p.m. May 30-31, Tacoma Comedy Club, $10-$15, 933 Market St., Tacoma, $10-$15, 253.282.7203

May 19, 2014 at 11:10am

Nerd Alert! - New X-Men, Wil Wheaton Project, Dylanologists ...

"X-Men: Days of Future Past" is inspired by one of the most beloved stories in all of the 48 billion X-Men comics.

BAMF! (And no, not the acronym.) This is Nerd Alert, the Weekly Volcano's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.


Thursday night brings the TV premieres of Labyrinth on the CW (sorry, no Bowie) and Gang Related on Fox. No one cares, not even the person who should've put a hyphen in Gang Related.


As we all know, the X-Men (but let's not be sexist: X-People) have endured mixed success on the silver screen. It's tough to gripe about director Bryan Singer's first two efforts, but then Brett Ratner took the reins on 2006's threequel X-Men: The Last Stand and ... well, it almost was. For my money, the first standalone Wolverine film, in which Hugh Jackman squared off against Sabretooth, a wretchedly misconceived Deadpool, and suck-tacular special effects, was even worse. Then, notwithstanding January Jones' predictably glassy-eyed performance, Matthew Vaughn steered the franchise back onto the rails with X-Men: First Class three years ago. Finally, like a time-traveler from days of future past, Singer returns to the fold, adapting the Sentinel storyline from Chris Claremont and John Byrne's 1981 run of Uncanny X-Men. Hey, speaking of "uncanny," how much do you want to bet Fox is sweating the timing of those child molestation charges against Mr. Singer? Of course, the man should be considered innocent until proven guilty, and that's always a generous attitude to retain when new superhero movies hit cinemas as well. This time, the early buzz turns out to be good.

Thanks to a bit of temporal translocation, both Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy get to play Professor X, Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender can play Magneto, and Rebecca Romijn who? As if that isn't super enough, the cast adds Peter Dinklage (as Bolivar Trask) and two people named Fan Bingbing and Booboo Stewart as, I'm guessing here, pandas. I can pretty much promise you it'll be better than X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, or, let's face it, The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Oh, Paul Giamatti, you deserve so much better.


Sunday night marks HBO's first airing of Normal Heart, the most controversial movie of 20 years ago. That said, the script, based on Larry Kramer's off-Broadway 1985 play, is terrific, and the cast is superhero-movie good (try Alec Baldwin, Alfred Molina, Jim Parsons, Julia Roberts, and Mark Ruffalo for starters). I'd be stunned if this isn't a major Emmy contender next year. The play's belated 2011 debut on Broadway earned the Tony for Best Revival, plus two acting awards for Ellen Barkin and John Benjamin Hickey. Essentially, it's about an early-1980s crusade to push AIDS awareness - literally, an awareness and acknowledgement that the virus even existed - into public conversation and governmental action.


A new season of America's Got Talent begins on NBC, which would be much more exciting if America, which judges the show, also had taste. (Wouldn't America Has Talent - or even better, Americans Have Talent - be preferable?) Luckily for our purposes, Syfy also gave former Enterprise-D helmsman (helmsperson?) Wil Wheaton a weekly comedy show, The Wil Wheaton Project, and that debuts Sunday at 10. He calls it "Talk Soup for geeks." Um ... I thought that was called Talk Soup?


Come gather ‘round, people, wherever you roam. Like many writers and critics who prophesize with our pens, I keep my eyes open for new books about Robert Zimmerman, better known as the one and only Mr. Bob Dylan. But The Dylanologists: Adventures in the Land of Bob isn't, strictly speaking, a tome about the Bard of Minneapolis, it's an insider's look at geeks like me who adore him. Author David Kinney will stop by the downtown Olympia library tonight to promote it. And don't think twice, it's all right: he will have copies available for purchase.

DAVID KINNEY, 7:30 p.m., Olympia Timberland Library, 313 eighth Ave., Olympia, free, 360.352.0595

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and may the answer be blowin' in the wind.

May 13, 2014 at 3:36pm

Nerd Alert! - Godzilla and the Gathering of the Juggalos

Commandos plunge toward what looks like a profile map of a Tour de France stage.

Godzilla: Opens Friday, May 16

Every generation suffers through trial and tribulations. War, famine, economic collapse - for people of a certain generation, one injustice still stings to this very day. We all remember well where we were, sitting in a cool theater in the summer of 1998, as a chilling realization washed over us, taking with it our innocence and faith in the universe: "Oh my god," we thought, "this Godzilla remake is awful."

Understandably, Roland Emmerich's Godzilla is still a sore spot for many dewy-eyed nerds. Its transgressions are innumerable, but here's a brief recap: fat, slovenly mayor named "Ebert," as a not-so-subtle jab; the big lizard herself revealed to be an overgrown iguana, and her babies to be blatant ripoffs of Jurassic Park's raptors; Matthew Broderick firmly establishing the nebbishy loser character that would then rule his career; thin characters stretched to the breaking point on the wings of woeful slapstick.

No one would blame you for being wary at the prospect of another American take on Godzilla, but the pedigree with this one is outstanding. Director Gareth Edwards is most well known for Monsters, his understated, ground-level take on the genre picture, and his Godzilla features a stunning cast (Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, and David Strathairn, to name three). That ominous first trailer with its triumphant SKREEEONK was enough to get anyone's blood pumped.

Nothing can erase the damage caused by the shameful Iguanazilla, but here's hoping this is a step in the right direction.

Gathering of the Juggalos

Speaking of getting your blood pumped, I know we all got a charge when a certain fake news site reported that the Gathering of the Juggalos would find its new home at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. Sadly, it was not meant to be.

However, the commercial for 2014's Gathering just premiered, and it's everything you'd hope for from this utterly unique cultural phenomenon. For anyone not familiar with the Insane Clown Posse's official festival for all things clown and shameful, the Gathering of the Juggalos is mostly what it sounds like: neck-bearded ladies and gentlemen paint their faces and convene in the middle of nowhere for a terrifying week of low-culture, mostly culled from the late '80s and early '90s.

The ICP's cult of personality is rich enough to justify the hundreds of thousands of digital ink that has been spilled on it. What Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J have managed to do is, frankly, impressive. They've created a religion based on the very specific things that they happen to be into - old school rap, wrestling, and hacky comedy, to be specific - and have convinced a staggering number of people to be into it as well.

The lineup for this year's Gathering features regulars like Kottonmouth Kings and Cannibal Corpse, as well as requisite left-field head-scratchers like Gilbert Gottfried and Mick Foley - both of whom, frankly, are way too good for this.

Where will you be when the Gathering goes down? As far away as possible? Me, too.

May 5, 2014 at 11:05am

Nerd Alert! - Spamalot, Legends of Oz, Chef, Penny Dreadful ...

Eva Green stars as Vanessa in "Penny Dreadful." Photo credit: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME

Taunting you a second time, this is Nerd Alert, the Weekly Volcano's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.

As I write this, The Olympian's Jeremy Pawloski just reported that a 34-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly deploying a crime syndicate of single-digit-aged children to pilfer purses and diaper bags from dispirited diners at Chuck E. Cheese in the Capital Mall. That's right, folks, Chuck E. Cheese, where a kid can be a kid! And a felon! The Artful Dodger could not be reached for comment.


Lacey's Timberline High School presents Monty Python's Spamalot, beating John Munn's Lakewood Playhouse pig dogs to the Grail by over a month. But look on the bright side of life, Brave Sir John: at least your production gets to include all those welcoming nuns in Castle Anthrax. Ni!

MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT, 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday through May 10, Timberline High School, 6120 Mullen Rd. SE, Lacey, $8-$10, 360.412.4860


After The Anticlimactic Spider-Man 2 landed with a warm splat of arachnid leavin's last weekend, by which I mean it was critically unloved, yet made squillions of dollars, my hopes are sub-minimal for the CG toon Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return. It stars Idina Menzel wannabe Lea Michele as the voice of Dorothy Gale, plus a bunch of comic thespians your dad likes (Dan Aykroyd as the Scarecrow, Kelsey Grammer as the Tin Man, and Oliver Platt as, well, me with more hair). Its songs include "No, This Isn't ‘Let It Go,'" "Still Not ‘Let It Go'" and "Why Aren't You Watching Frozen Instead?"

Also in cineplexes this weekend: Chef, the latest dramedy from director/star Jon Favreau (whose Iron Man may be the greatest superhero movie ever made, unless you count Raiders of the Lost Ark, which I don't of course because the list of Indiana Jones' mortal flaws is even longer than this parenthetical; oh, and by the way, Jon Favreau also made Zathura, which is totally underrated and Cowboys & Aliens which isn't). What was I talking about? Oh, right: Chef, which costars Sofia Vergara, Tony Stark, Natalia Romanova, Jerri Blank and (I'm not even kidding here) Oliver Platt. Best of all, Anthony Bourdain tweeted that he's already seen it and loved it, so bon appetit. Maybe spring for the truffle salt on your popcorn this time, ya cheap bastard (#YOLO).


Showtime debuts its horror-romance series Penny Dreadful, respectively written and produced by John Logan and Sam Mendes, two industry pros who were largely responsible for Skyfall. Their new series is named for British pulp mags of the 19th century - so, as you might expect, it stars Josh Hartnett. No, wait, come back! The cast includes Doctor Who companion Billie Piper, Timothy Dalton, gifted naked person Eva Green and a Grand Guignol orchestra pit's worth of literary monsters. Might be fun.

Fun historical fact: Paris' notoriously gore-obsessed Théâtre du Grand-Guignol went out of business in 1962 ("We could never equal [the concentration camp] Buchenwald," one director observed), but it reopened years later as the family-friendly International Visual Theatre, a troupe that performs in sign language for the hearing-impaired. Alors, merci, Wikipedia!

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and may you find your Grail - along with just a little bit of peril.

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Theater, Lacey, Screens,

April 30, 2014 at 10:12am

Nerd Alert! - Star Wars Day, Smart People, Musicians For Oso

Cast of "Star Wars: Episode VII": John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker. Photo courtesy of Facebook

For nerds, this weekend is a very special one, for it contains within the mysterious power of Star Wars Day. May 4th (as in "may the 4th be with you," nudge nudge, wink wink), while an unofficial holiday, is still a fervently celebrated one, and 2014's installment couldn't have come at a more perfect time, as the cast of J.J. Abrams' forthcoming Star Wars film was just made public.

No doubt the Internet will be choked with nerdy arguments over the casting of people like Inside Llewyn Davis star Oscar Isaac and Girls' Adam Driver (also of Llewyn Davis' best scene: "OUTER SPACE!"). While endless speculation and debate is what nerds do best, it might be nice to leave vitriol aside for May 4th, and sit down with the One True TrilogyTM (Prequels? What prequels?). Those movies? They age like a motherfucker, so enjoy.


In other nerd-adjacent news, a new monthly dance party is coming to The New Frontier Lounge. From some of the same people that brought us the very popular Future Bass DJ night, we now have Smart People. Look, I get that it's a very tenuous connection between nerd culture and a dance event that just happens to be called "Smart People," but you like compliments, don't you? All you brainy readers out there. I like your glasses. Is that a new haircut? You so smart.

As advertised, the DJs will be drawing from all sorts of influences, even outside of the usual R&B and electronica, bringing in indie rock, boogie-woogie and disco. Tacoma just doesn't get enough dancing in, so you'd be wise to consider Smart People your monthly reminder to get out of your comfort zone for a while and embrace the beat.

SMART PEOPLE, w/ Mr. Melanin and other DJs, doors at 9 p.m., The New Frontier Lounge, 301 E. 25th St., Tacoma, no cover before 10:30 p.m., $5 after, 253.572.4020


>>> Antihero

After you've been sated by your potent mainlining of the Star Wars trilogy, head on over to Jazzbones for a very worthy cause. Musicians for Oso is a benefit show whose proceeds go directly to those affected by the tragic mudslide in Oso. A disquieting event, to be sure, but the lineup of bands assembled for the show is tremendous and very, very loud. And it's all ages, to boot!

The Oso mudslide was a tremendous disaster, so if you can help out while getting your eardrums blown out, why wouldn't you?

MUSICIANS FOR OSO, w/ Antihero, Jamie Nova, Black Powder County, The Mothership, Wanz, 5 p.m., Jazzbones, 2803 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, $12, $10 advance, 253.396.9169

April 21, 2014 at 12:30pm

Nerd Alert! - Horror movies, species parade, magicians, SLURP, Agent Coulson's Sassypants Airline and more ...

Husband and wife illusionists Kevin and Cindy Spencer turn to both theater and magic to apparently walk through walls, levitate, vanish and reappear.

Feeling stupid and contagious, this is Nerd Alert, the Weekly Volcano's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.


As you may have gathered by now, I'm not that impressed by most horror movies. Over the years, I've seen enough Shatner-masked axe murderers and cats jumping out at me to last a dozen lifetimes. Yet I'm a bit intrigued by the setup for The Quiet Ones, in which a team of unethical psychologists try to induce telekinetic responses from a teenaged girl by scaring the Schlitz out of her. That's an interesting spin on Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, don't you think? Early critical responses are mixed for Hammer Films' latest effort; but it stars Jared Harris (Lane on Mad Men, may he rest in peace), and everyone seems to agree he's on point at least. I mean, it's got to be scarier than A Haunted House 2, right?


Hey, it's Olympia Arts Walk weekend! Among tonight's highlights are a Nirvana tribute concert featuring five local bands and a world of teen spirit. Yes, it really has been two decades since Kurt Cobain's untimely passing (on April 5, 1994). Memoria, my friends. Memoria.

NIRVANA TRIBUTE CONCERT, 9 p.m., Capitol Theater, 206 Fifth Ave. SE, Olympia, $5, 360.951.8728

If a heart-shaped box isn't your cup of tea, Vince Brown will be strumming away (with jazz vocalist LaVon Hardison) at Swing Wine Bar starting at 6:30 p.m., and WET Science Center will be open till 8. You could also drop by the Midnight Sun, where my wife Amanda Stevens will costar in an 8 p.m. revival of Chamber Music, a nuthouse dramedy directed by Pug Bujeaud of Theater Artists Olympia. Downtown will be crazy in general, so I recommend taking the bus. Plus it's eco-friendly!

If you've ever wanted to get levitated, drowned in a milk jug, or penetrated by Spikes of Doom, now's your chance. Married illusionists Kevin and Cindy Spencer were named "Magicians of the Year" by the International Magicians Society in 2009, and yes, they do call people up out of the audience to get ensorcelled within an inch of their lives. Kevin has a habit (swiped from Harry Houdini) of walking through brick walls, so catch his act now before he does himself any permanent craniofacial damage.

SPENCERS THEATRE OF ILLUSION, 7:30 p.m., Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway, Tacoma, $72-$82, 253.591.5894


The 20th Procession of the Species proceeds at 4:30 p.m. in downtown Olympia, so make like Neil deGrasse Tyson and celebrate the awesome power of natural selection! - in this case, by yelling pleasantries at people in octopus costumes.


Local restaurateurs, vintners, and microbrewers bring their A games to the South Sound's premiere oyster chow-down, SLURP (Shellfish Lovers Ultimate Rejuvenation Party). It's a community auction and mollusk feed that benefits habitat restoration and community outreach programs. Duly adored for its Grand Oyster Bar, this is paradise for the bivalve-curious. Chris Schwarz, corporate executive chef for Tom Douglas Restaurants, will be leading all the shucking and jiving. VIPs who shell out (sorry) a thousand bucks get a private chef and oyster server. Hey, did you know Olympia oysters start their reproductive season as males, turn themselves female partway through, then might even become male again just for squirts and giggles? It's true! Boy, talk about a life form that's easy to shop for.

SLURP, 4:30 p.m., Fish Tale Brewery Warehouse, 515 Jefferson St. SE, Olympia, $60, 360.754.2744

How sad is it that ratings for Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are dropping like a vibranium hang glider just as the show finally decides to get good? If you're looking for a reentry point, episode 16 ("End of the Beginning") worked for me. The show ties into Marvelverse movie continuity, so the chaos in Captain America: The Winter Soldier's third act pays off big time aboard Agent Coulson's Sassypants Airline.

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and may Agent(ish) Skye get shot all the way to death next time. Sorry, Bennet. I'm just not a fan. No T.A.H.I.T.I. for you.

April 15, 2014 at 3:45pm

Nerd Alert! - Shatner's World and Particle Fever

It's Shatner's World, it's Shatner's World, it's party time, it's excellent ...


Proving, once again, that there is no end to Hollywood's repackaging of franchises and exploiting of nerds, it was announced recently that J.J. Abrams' Star Trek films will be touring the country for a series of screenings featuring live musical accompaniment. The Star Trek concert series will be accompanied by an orchestra that will perform the presumably recognizable scores of the two Star Trek reboots. A similar series was done with the Lord of the Rings movies - a concept that makes substantially greater sense, considering the sweeping nature of those films.

In a related story, William Shatner will be beamed into theaters across the country on Thursday, the 24th, with a performance of his one-man show, ridiculously titled Shatner's World. Ignoring the fact that anyone willing to spend money to see Shatner rap about his life will almost definitely have heard everything there is to hear about the man, Shatner has never shied away from capitalizing on his fan base's adulation.

Anyone expecting a reprise of his glorious team-up with Ben Folds and Joe Jackson for his "Common People" cover should probably look elsewhere - though I do long to see the smirking giddiness that would spread across Joe Jackson's face every time he found himself duetting with Captain Kirk. 7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 24, theaters in Federal Way, Auburn, Kent and Tukwila


For those interested in something with a more scientific take on, er, science, than Star Trek has to offer, a fascinating documentary is opening at The Grand Cinema.

Particle Fever is the exploration of the development and launch of the Large Hadron Collider. Ten thousand scientists from all around the world collaborated to create the Collider, which was designed to recreate the conditions that existed in the wake of the Big Bang. Those following the news of the past couple years know that the result was the discovery of the Higgs boson (AKA the "God particle"), which has long been the missing link in our understanding of just why we exist.

Reviews of the film have emphasized the notion that even the least science-minded audiences have become wrapped up in the story of these scientists investigating the nature of being, as heady as that sounds. Supposedly, the masterful filmmaking allows even the layman to get invested in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding. I'm reminded of The Social Network, which managed to make a jerk typing on the computer seem utterly compelling and, dare I say, suspenseful.

Particle Fever is intriguing enough to stand up against its more high-profile competitors (The Grand Budapest Hotel and Joe) at The Grand Cinema. Personally, I can't wait to see it. Opens Friday, April 18, The Grand Cinema, 606 S. Fawcett, Tacoma, $4.50-$9, 253.572.6062

April 7, 2014 at 10:35am

Nerd Alert! Oculus, Sing for a Cure, MTV Movie Awards, Fargo ...

Sunday's MTV Movie Awards will rock it like it's 1998.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, this is Nerd Alert, the Weekly Volcano's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.


The biggest movie release this week is called Oculus. It's a horror film about a haunted mirror. I will write that again: it's a horror film about a haunted mirror. I mention this cinematic spectacle only because as of time of writing, with nine critics reporting in, it boasts a RottenTomatoes.com score of 100 percent. Make of that what you will.


My wife and I are performing alongside friends from Masterworks Choral Ensemble and Olympia Family Theater in Sing for a Cure, a "song cycle" to benefit cancer research. Proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, so we sure hope you'll join us for a program of empathy and hope.

SING FOR THE CURE, 7:30 p.m., Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia, $9-$19, 360.753.8585

This is a big night for ladybumps, as it's also when Stripped Screw Burlesque unveils its "Disney After Dark" revue in the Capitol Theater. Seattle princesses Seraphina Fiero and Maxie Milieu are joined by sultry local superstars Hattie Hotpants and Nani Poonani of TUSH.

DISNEY AFTER DARK, 9 p.m., Capitol Theater, 206 Fifth Ave. SE, Olympia, $15-$20, 360.754.6670

If you're spry, you might even make both shows. Let it go, indeed!


Sunday's MTV Movie Awards will present a special "Silver Bucket of Excellence" to 1998, the last year anyone cared about the MTV Movie Awards. Consequently, someone will wonder out loud whether Neve Campbell, the big winner that year, is still alive. Perhaps it'll be this year's host, Conan O'Brien, who asks the indelicate questions.

(The first time I wrote that paragraph, I used Ken Ober as its unwilling punchline. Guess what, though? It turns out Ken Ober is actually deceased - I had no idea - so don't I feel like quite the old geezer? Remote Control, people! Give it up for "Wheel of Torture!" ...Dear gravy, I'm old.)

Here's the thing about being happily married: you only have time for so much TV, even with a DVR. Therefore, if you aren't both fans of a show, it drops off your list of season recordings. I was able to hang on to Archer and Community, thank Dionysus, but Mad Men fell right off my queue. Is it still the 1960s on that show? Is Peggy still far and away the best thing on it? I have no idea, so find out for yourself when season 7, Mad Men's final go-round, begins Sunday.


The TV adaptation of Fargo debuts on FX, don't ya know. It stars Martin Freeman, Adam Goldberg, Colin Hanks, both Key and Peele (I'm serious), Joey King, Bob Odenkirk, Oliver Platt, Billy Bob Thornton, Kate Walsh, two wacky robots, the entire first-season cast of The West Wing, and a partridge in a pear tree. It's made by the guy responsible for Bones, so it'll last forever even though no one you know will ever watch it.

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and may you never find yourself trapped in the basement of 72 Whooping Cough Lane. I want my MTV!

April 1, 2014 at 10:24am

Nerd Alert! "Community" and a cool voice-over workshop

Voice-over artist Nicole Fazio will teach kids the trade April 4 at the Tacoma Public Library Main Branch. Press photo


As of this writing, Rob Schrab (creator of the cult comic Scud: The Disposable Assassin, and co-creator of The Sarah Silverman Program) is in an office, somewhere in Los Angeles, furiously working to finish animation of the G.I. Joe parody episode of Community - which is slated to air Thursday, April 3. A beleaguered Schrab, in between generally tweeting his frustration and half-jokingly calling out Community creator Dan Harmon for putting him in this position, tweeted that he has "80 shots to finish before tomorrow. We average 15 a day."

No doubt, much of the hubbub is being made in jest (anyone who's heard Schrab appear on Harmon's podcast knows that they have a delightfully contentious chemistry), but it's a healthy reminder of the sort of tyrannical tinkering that got Harmon fired from his own show in the first place, before returning for this latest season. Because he simply couldn't turn in a script before it was perfect (which ideally would have been months ago), the turnaround for animating a loving homage of a crummy cartoon has been absurdly accelerated.

Thursday will reveal the fruits of their labor. Personally, I've found that having Harmon back has done wonders for Community, especially in the aftermath of the "gas leak year." Having a wild, self-destructive comedy genius at the helm is a gift that giveth and taketh.


Speaking of animation, I'm fairly certain that a good amount of people spend some time in their youth fantasizing about being a voice-over artist. All it takes is two decent-to-middling impressions and it's easy to fool yourself into believing that you could be the next Mel Blanc. (How many voices did he have, again? Oh, right, a thousand. But that's a cute Gollum impression you got there.)

Not everyone is blessed with the honeyed vocal chords of Don LaFontaine or Hal Douglas (both, sadly, passed away, most recently Douglas). However, your voice is a muscle that can be sculpted and trained, if you have the inclination. If you're a teen who's ever had the notion to give voice-over acting a try, you'd do worse for instructors than Nicole Fazio. A Washington-born actress, Fazio has lent her voice to hundreds of projects, from commercials to animation. Fazio will be holding a workshop to teach you the ins and outs of her craft.

In preparation, why not check out the endearing comedy, In a World..., which explores the very particular world of voice-over artists. 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday, April 4, ages 12-18, Tacoma Public Library Main Branch, 1102 Tacoma Ave., Tacoma, free but registration required, 253.591.5666

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