Batman May Return But Schumacher is ‘Forever’

When Dominic and I recorded the most recent episode of Hard NOC Life, I mentioned the 25th anniversary of Batman Forever (as well as the 15th and 31st anniversaries for Batman Begins and Batman ’89, respectively, but more on the latter in a second). June used to be a big month for Batman movies. I mention those anniversaries as a launching point for a broader conversation about being a different kind of fan and accepting different interpretations of our favorite characters. And for the last few weeks, I had started reconsidering how I felt about certain films, including the double feature of Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, both directed by Joel Schumacher, who died of cancer on June 22.

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An Ode to Anthony Bourdain

When I was eleven years old, I bought Kitchen Confidential from the tiny bookstore in my tiny hometown. At that moment in time, I was a picky eater, not well-traveled, and in desperate need of a Mother’s Day present. My mother had mentioned a man named Anthony Bourdain and a book he had written. So that was her gift for that year; she still has it to this day.

At some point after I bought the book, my mother and I started watching No Reservations on the Travel Channel. I always appreciated Anthony Bourdain as a storyteller, a host, and as a critic. Over the years, I grew out of my selective eating habits, I traveled extensively, and I began acting. Now, I live in New York City, I’ll eat almost anything, and I write for blogs.

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Farewell Major Tom

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

Nearly a year ago today the music died.

Actor, rockstar, musician and suspected otherworldly being David Bowie passed away one year ago, three days after his birthday which is today.

As we celebrate Bowie’s life and legacy, I’m reminded of the fact that it was roughly around this time two years ago that we lost Leonard Nimoy.

Much like Nimoy, when I think back on Bowie, I realize that he was an influence on me in ways I never considered.

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One In A Million: Remembering Aaliyah

It was 15 years ago today that we lost an icon, an extraordinary young gifted artist, Aaliyah Haughton, known to fans simply as Aaliyah.

In the spirit of Prince, David Bowie, and Janelle Monae, Aaliyah possessed a larger than life persona that ironically was fueled by her mystique. Dark clothing, trademark hair over one eye, the enigmatic chaunteuse had an almost ethereal presence which also could be found in her music.

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Remembering Eugie Foster

Like many others I was saddened and heartbroken to hear about the passing of esteemed speculative fiction author Eugie Foster. In addition to being one of the most gifted writers I’ve ever encountered, Eugie was the personification of grace and class. I was honored to consider Eugie both a colleague and a friend.

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The Beautiful One

Truth be told, music has a much stronger hold on me than geek culture. While I love all things geek/nerdy/afrogeek/astroblack, music is how I experienced love. Growing up in an immediate household that was nothing but abuse and the absence of love, music was my portal to some place safer. My mom was a horrible mother, but she built upon a stellar record collection. A collection that she’d let me listen to without being beaten. After our year of frozen homelessness, we got an apartment where the previous tenant left a sizable record collection. Among the Chaka Khan and Rufus, Mandrill, Chuck Mangione, The Wailers, Miles Davis, and Santana albums were Prince’s For You and Dirty Mind. Despite the racy content, my mother and I listened to those albums until they were warped and scratched beyond all hopes of rescuing. We loved it because it sounded so different compared to anything else we listened to — which was mostly reggae and jazz. But it wasn’t until 1999 dropped in ’82 that I had to come to terms with the idea that Prince was going to be one of the foundation stones of my pop cultural biography. Continue reading “The Beautiful One”

Rest In Power to the 5 Ft Assassin

I received the text late. I’m normally a night out owl, but this CPAP machine is making sleep lovely and attractive. I heard my phone buzz and clumsily pawed for it. I pulled it close to my face, my sleepiness and the plastic bar of the CPAP face mask made it nearly impossible to make out — the combination of text size and screen brightness was too much for  me. I concentrated and the blurry screen came into focus. My heart sank. The text was from a friend: “Yo, Phife passed, B.” Continue reading “Rest In Power to the 5 Ft Assassin”

Farewell to the Star Man

David Bowie was one of the first white musicians ever played in my home. My aunt, who was a musician and music aficionado, argued, “All those white people steal their styles from us. Why not just listen to the originators and leave the copycats alone?” One day, I’m home early from school and I heard:

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Remembering Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata

I had just finished teaching my fifth grade class in Japan when I heard the news that the President of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, passed away due to bile duct cancer. The news was a slap to the face to me; I had just been talking about Splatoon to some of my students.  While I am not as close to Nintendo as I was when I was a child, I cannot deny to say that Mr. Iwata’s work in the company hadn’t influenced my life.

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R.I.P. Robin Williams

Like most of the world, we were shocked to hear of the passing of Robin Williams last night. It’s hard to crystallize all of the emotions that come when a beloved personality passes away. Shock gives way to grief and then finally reflection. There are countless tributes and eulogies celebrating Williams’ life and career all over the internet. Here, we’re going to remember the roles and memories that have touched our lives and will continue to bring joy and laughter to generations to come.

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Remembering Dwayne McDuffie, Part 2

Three years ago today, we lost the beloved Dwayne McDuffie. In person, Dwayne towered well over six feet tall, which lent itself to a larger-than-life image that was really the opposite of how he carried himself. You could always spot Dwayne in a crowd, but you couldn’t necessarily hear him over the crowd. With his intimidating size, Dwayne knew how to not be intimidating in his demeanor. His work spoke much louder than he did. That’s part of the reason so many people miss him, and part of the reason people like me, who were only casually acquainted with him feel the loss so greatly.

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Today is Dwayne McDuffie’s Birthday

[Ed. note: David originally wrote this for BadAzz Mofo on Monday, and we’re running it today in honor of what would have been Dwayne’s 52nd birthday. Tomorrow is also the third anniversary of his passing. My own memory of meeting Dwayne is here. The image above is by graphic designer Ed Williams. —KC]

dwaynemcduffieThings were different when I was a kid growing up. For the most part, you didn’t know what comic book creators looked like. Sure, everyone knew what Stan Lee looked like, but that was about it. The few comic creators I had contact with back in my youth were all white, and for some reason, it just sort of stuck in my head that all comic creators had to be white. This was, of course, reinforced by the vast majority of comics that were being published, which only had a relatively small number of black characters.

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R.I.P. Morrie Turner

On Saturday, the world lost another legend when cartoonist Morrie Turner passed away at the age of 90 after suffering complications from kidney disease.

Turner is best known for creating the comic strip Wee Pals, the first comic strip of its kind — not only because it featured a cast of racially diverse characters but it was also the first strip by an African American cartoonist to be syndicated nationally.

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Remembering James Avery

If you’re a fan of ‘90s pop culture, and you appreciate hip hop music and quality comedy television, then you were probably a fan of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The show, which aired on NBC from 1990 to 1996, was an entertaining display of humor, culture clashes, and broken stereotypes that almost always ended with a message about the importance of family. Although Will Smith was undoubtedly the star of the show, and Carlton had the best moves (see The Carlton Dance), one of the most memorable characters was Uncle Phil, played by James Avery with a deep love and seriousness that all fathers should possess. More than that, Avery’s Uncle Phil also had a sense of humor that made him the ultimate cool uncle.

Sadly, Avery passed away on Tuesday, December 31, 2013 from open-heart surgery complications. He was only 68.

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Remembering Dwayne McDuffie

Dwayne McDuffie is one of the most important figures in the history of the comic book industry. Perhaps that’s hyperbole, but I don’t think so. I know that his work has left an indelible mark on me, and the world is a lesser place without him in it.

I didn’t know Dwayne McDuffie personally. I only met him once. Briefly. It was in San Diego in 2009. The fellas (Jerry Ma, Jeff Yang, Parry Shen) and I were at Comic-Con to promote Secret Identities. Dwayne was on a panel moderated by Jeff, and the five of us were able to chat for a bit afterwards.

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