Posted by Adam Wills
The Boy Scouts of America—known for getting kids outside and active—has added a new “academics” pin and belt loop for one of the most sedentary indoor activities around: video games.
According to a Scouts spokesperson, the awards’ introduction was intended to raise awareness of video games as a family activity, including ensuring age-appropriate gaming and effective scheduling so it doesn’t conflict with schoolwork. Added in December—along with other academics honors: good manners, nutrition, pet care and family travel—the video game awards can be earned by Tiger Cubs, Cub and Webelos scouts, but the scouts must work with parents or adult partners to complete requirements.
To earn the belt loop, scouts must:
• Explain why it is important to have a rating system for video games. Check your video games to be sure they are right for your age.
• With an adult, create a schedule for you to do things that includes your chores, homework, and video gaming. Do your best to follow this schedule.
• Learn to play a new video game that is approved by your parent, guardian, or teacher.
For the “academics” pin, scouts must earn the belt loop and complete five of the following:
• With your parents, create a plan to buy a video game that is right for your age group.
• Compare two game systems (for example, Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, and so on). Explain some of the differences between the two. List good reasons to purchase or use a game system.
• Play a video game with family members in a family tournament.
• Teach an adult or a friend how to play a video game.
• List at least five tips that would help someone who was learning how to play your favorite video game.
• Play an appropriate video game with a friend for one hour.
• Play a video game that will help you practice your math, spelling, or another skill that helps you in your schoolwork.
• Choose a game you might like to purchase. Compare the price for this game at three different stores. Decide which store has the best deal. In your decision, be sure to consider things like the store return policy and manufacturer’s warranty.
• With an adult’s supervision, install a gaming system.
The Scouts say the new awards acknowledge the realities of 21st century youth and is intended to help families manage gaming effectively.
“When it comes down to these things, a lot of the dads are doing it,” Scouts PR manager Renee Fairrer told PC Magazine. “A little boy wants to do what his dad does, but we apply appropriate knowledge and safeguards.”
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April 19, 2010 | 1:09 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
“Drawn Together” returns Tuesday (4/20 … yeah, Comedy Central knows its audience) with the DVD release of “The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!” The film serves as a kind of finale for the series, which was cancelled in November 2007. But the creators hope it could usher in a return—films, at least—if the network sees support from the fan base.
For three seasons, Dave Jeser and Matt Silverstein’s mash-up of reality TV parody and knock-off cartoon characters (Toot Braunstein = Betty Boop) pushed the boundaries of good taste with explicit dialogue, gratuitous violence, kinky sex and black humor that made light of such issues as abortion, spousal abuse and anti-Semitism.
Freed of ratings concerns, the pair serve up an animated film packed with adult language, nudity, a 3D lesbian threesome, necrophilia and animal cruelty (kitten-stomping)—all of which is there simply because Jeser and Silverstein find it all hilarious. “The Drawn Together Movie” also spends time skewering other animated franchises: “The Flintstones,” “Looney Tunes,” “The Smurfs” and “South Park,” which becomes the “Suck My Taint Show.”
The movie picks up shortly after the series’ cancellation. Foxxy Love (a mystery-solving, “Josie and the Pussycats”-like character) notices the housemates can suddenly cuss without being censored. But when the network head learns the Jew Producer never erased the “Drawn Together” gang after cancellation, a robot—I.S.R.A.E.L. (Intelligent Smart Robot Animation Eraser Lady … think: ED-209 from “RoboCop,” but with breasts) – is sent in to finish the job.
I.S.R.A.E.L., voiced by “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane, is a personification the creators use to lampoon the Jewish state (e.g., Jew Son: “Dad, I.S.R.A.E.L. forcibly removed me from the only home I’ve ever known”). But Silverstein says their motives weren’t political.
“I think Dave did it a little bit to piss off his dad,” Silverstein said in a phone interview from New York. “That’s what all comedy is. You either want to piss off your parents or get their love. This particular joke was to piss off his dad. It did crack us up, but there’s no political message. That’s actually the message of the movie: we’re not trying to make a point, we’re just trying our best to be funny … with mixed results, but we are trying.”
Another Jewish gag in the film—the Jew Producer tries to get his goyishe neighbor to answer his mobile phone on Shabbat (“[God will] appreciate my cleverness in getting around His laws”)—is influenced by the pair’s Jewish upbringing near Teaneck, N.J.
“[Dave] got kicked out of yeshiva. He was making faces in a classroom, and a rabbi saw him. Dave ran away, and a rabbi chased after him and almost hurt himself. So Dave was told to leave because he endangered the life of a rabbi,” said Silverstein, who had a bar mitzvah specifically so he could get a videocamera.
Comedy Central has no plans for the series following the release of the “The Drawn Together Movie,” said Silverstein, who has since worked on Mike Judge’s “The Goode Family” and “The Cleveland Show,” a “Family Guy” spin-off. But he is hopeful that “Drawn Together” could have a future if the film does well.
“We actually started talking storylines and stuff, and that’s always dangerous because we know we’re just going to get hurt in the end,” he said. “So we’ve been lucky that we’ve been working with some really talented people on some really cool things. The future? I dunno. But if it was more ‘Drawn Together,’ hell, I’d love that.”
(Trailer is intended for audiences 18 and over ... you have been warned)
April 15, 2010 | 11:49 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
“Kick-Ass” features no radioactive spiders, no superhuman powers. Instead, director Matthew Vaughn (“Stardust”) delivers an ultra-violent comedy about a New York teen determined to become a superhero (and get the girl), only to find himself sucked into an unfolding fight between an ex-cop-turned-vigilante and the drug kingpin who ruined his life.
Adapted from the Icon/Marvel comic of the same name by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.—which was filmed as the monthly series was still unfolding, much like “Akira” —“Kick-Ass” satisfies cravings for graphic comic violence (think: John Woo, Robert Rodriguez or Quentin Tarantino) with multiple rounds fired, knives thrown and limbs severed or pierced. In other words: guys, leave your girlfriend/wife home, see it with your buddies, share laughs over inside references to comic books/movies, and spend the rest of the night repeating the film’s eminently quotable dialogue.
“How come nobody’s ever tried to be a superhero?” is the central question that eats at our hero, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), and launches him into his quest to do something about the petty criminals who pick on him and his friends. After being pummeled, stabbed and hit by a car on his first day out as Kick-Ass, Lizewski is left with a body full of metal holding his bones together (“Hey, I look like Wolverine”) and peripheral nerve damage, so he can barely feel the impact when he takes a hit.
Desensitized Dave once again dons his Kick-Ass costume (a wetsuit) and his intervention in a gang brawl turns him into a YouTube phenomenon. But his viral popularity also leads to a case of mistaken identity when drug kingpin Frank D’Amico believes Kick-Ass to be the costumed crusader killing off his men and stealing his product.
Instead, that would be Big Daddy (aka Damon Macready, played by Nic Cage), the vigilante with a gosh-golly demeanor and an apartment covered floor to ceiling in firearms, who’s been plotting revenge against D’Amico – the man who set him up years earlier.
But it’s Chloe Grace Moretz as Big Daddy’s foul-mouthed sidekick, Hit-Girl—his 11-year-old daughter Mindy, the Robin to his Batman—who steals the movie with her shocking/hilariously endearing vulgarities and a gusto that takes Natalie Portman’s Mathilda Lando from “Leon” and cranks it up to 11.
(Warning: Hit-Girl video preview is 18 and over.)
Christopher Mintz-Plasse (“Superbad,” “Role Models”) stars as Chris D’Amico, the comic-book-geek son of the drug kingpin, who desperately wants friends and his father’s attention. With the family business in danger, Chris dons a cape to become Red Mist, earning the heroes’ trust while leading them into a trap.
Despite the film revolving around high school students suffering through John Hughes-like indignities, “Kick-Ass” rightly deserves its R rating. And not for just for Hit-Girl’s mouth. “Kick-Ass” features sex, nudity, drug use and some disturbing violence. (Even Moretz says kids should not see this film.)
If you’re in the 18-45 male demographic, you’re golden. “Kick-Ass” does exactly that, and will likely hold you over until “Iron Man 2” hits theaters on May 7.
April 15, 2010 | 5:00 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Comic Con International’s contract with San Diego is set to expire in 2012, and Anaheim has joined cities like Los Angeles and Las Vegas hoping to lure the Hollywood-heavy con away from the San Diego Convention Center. This weekend, April 16-18, the home to the Happiest Place on Earth is giving its Anaheim Convention Center a test run with what’s being described as the first Anaheim Comic Con, organized by Wizard World, which produces the comic book news magazine Wizard.
The Anaheim con, which has already attracted more than 200 guests ranging from comic book artists and writers to actors and directors, will also include much of what you’ve come to expect: gaming tournaments, costume contests … you know the drill. Tickets run $25 (advance), $30 (at the door) for one day; $25 (advance), $50 (door) for a three-day weekend ticket.
The not-to-miss panels featuring Jewish guests (on Saturday, no less!):
10:30am - 11am
STAN LEE/AVI ARAD Q&A
Film LEGENDS Stan Lee and Avi Arad sit down for a combined Q&A and answer all your questions and chat with each other!
11am - 12pm
STAN LEE Q&A
Meet Stan Lee! He’ll answer your questions, and has 2 special announcements to make!
1pm - 2pm
EMPIRE STRIKES BACK 30TH ANNIVERSARY Q&A
Join Empire Director Irvin Kershner and Lando Calrissian himself, Billy Dee Williams, as they discuss filming the best of the Star Wars films.
2pm - 3pm
ILYA SALKIND SUPERMAN COMMENTARY
Meet the Producer of Superman 1, 2 and 3 as he talks about what it was like to make the world believe that a man could fly.
3pm - 4pm
WILLIAM SHATNER Q&A
Meet iconic legend William Shatner as he talks about his amazing career!
7pm - 8pm
THE DRAWN TOGETHER MOVIE: THE MOVIE
Come watch the movie before it even gets released!! And stick around after the screening to join creators Matt Silverstein and Dave Jeser as they discuss their new film and host a Q&A with fans.
Other Jewish guests you can expect to see: Steven Adler (Guns n’ Roses – Friday only), Ed Asner (“Up”), Steven Bauer (“Scarface”), Charles Fleischer (comedian/voice of Roger Rabbit), Stuart J. Levy (founder, Toykopop), Brent Spiner (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”) and Mindy Sterling (“Austin Powers”), among others.
April 9, 2010 | 8:00 am
Posted by Adam Wills
When Jason Sarrow attended his first Renaissance Pleasure Faire in 1987, he felt an instant connection with the shire’s street performers. As a stage actor from New York, he lost himself in the historical recreation unfolding around him and he wanted a role.
Looking back more than 20 years later, Sarrow didn’t expect Ren Faire, which kicks off April 10 in Irwindale, would become such an important force in his own life.
“Little did I know I would still be with it,” said Sarrow, who played a peasant, sheriff and mystic. He is best known among current “playtrons” (costumed guests) as a juggling teacher and crystal dealer.
As producer of the documentary “Faire: An American Renaissance,” as well as a featured commentator, Sarrow presents an insightful history of a counterculture that found meaning in the recreation of Elizabethan history—bawdy bodices, flagons and all.
Directed by Doug Jacobson, “Faire” features wistful recollections and footage from halcyon days filled with sex and drugs, which eventually gave way to today’s reality of AA meetings and family-friendly entertainment. Told from the viewpoint of longtime performers and craftspeople, the doc brims with Faire politics, from conservative standards conflicting with the show’s 1960s ethos to changes that clash with period authenticity (climbing walls in Elizabethan England?!). Although the film documents the dissension, it doesn’t venture outside of its close-knit circle to include dissenting voices. SoCal Faire’s current management, Renaissance Entertainment Productions, for instance, doesn’t get screen time to respond to criticism that it minimizes aspects of the Faire’s original educational mission in favor of turning a buck.
There are more than 300 Renaissance-style entertainment attractions operating currently in the United States, drawing more than 7.5 million guests each year. The movement features its own magazines (Renaissance, Faire), the SoCal Ren Faire music group Poxy Boggards had its song “I Wear No Pants” featured in a 2010 Dockers Super Bowl commercial, and Faire has been a setting for episodes of “The Simpsons” (”Lisa’s Wedding”) and “Family Guy” (”Mr Saturday Knight”).
The Renaissance Faire phenomenon began in Southern California in 1960, when Phyllis Patterson, a junior high history teacher, and her husband Ron, organized Renaissance pageants in the backyard of their Hollywood Hills home. Three years later, the Pattersons and KPFK held the first Renaissance Pleasure Faire in North Hollywood as a fundraiser for the radio station, which drew thousands of attendees. In 1966, the Pattersons moved Faire to its longtime site at Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills, where it remained until 1989.
“Millions of dollars came from a woman’s backyard in the Valley,” Sarrow said.
Sarrow says inspiration for the film itself came from the thinning of Faire’s first generation.
“When I noticed people were dying, the idea for the documentary was born,” he said. “It was a chronicle of our tribe’s story… I wanted to get the story from the people who were there.”
The Renaissance Faire in Agoura Hills was so close to Malibu that it became a playground for celebrities -– Bob Dylan, Cher, Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Sean Penn and Rob Lowe.
“They weren’t harassed,” Sarrow said. “They could be themselves.”
For Camryn Manheim, who first attended at age 15 in 1976, becoming a regular participant led her to study acting in high school.
“I remember walking into the Renaissance Faire having never seen anything like it, but knowing immediately that I belonged there and that was my home,” she says.
“Faire” also offers views a rare (albeit PG-13) glimpse of the legendary behind-the-scenes nightlife—once the guests left and the actors and merchants were free to cut loose. Footage includes a coffee house with belly dancing, parties and risqué performances.
“They were X-rated. They were sexy and raunchy, and nasty and dirty,” Manheim says. “And all kinds of hell ensued after that.”
But everything changed in 1989, when Arthur Whizin—a major supporter of American Jewish University (then University of Judaism)—sold his Paramount Ranch land to a home developer (after making repeated offers to sell to SoCal Faire). Footage of the developer’s backhoe tearing apart the Agoura site’s temporary buildings is a heart-rending moment—Faire cast out from its Eden in the Santa Monica Mountains, never to return.
SoCal Faire moved to Glen Helen Park in Devore in the 1990s and then to its current location: the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale. In the exodus from Agoura, SoCal Faire sacrificed core draws for its participants—after-hours parties and overnight camping—due to regulations at its new sites. Sarrow says Faire culture was never the same.
“To ask them to leave the end of the night was tragic,” he said. “It fractured our community. The nightlife is why people did the show.”
Trading Hollywood liberals for conservatives from the Inland Empire also altered the tone of Faire, according to the doc. One booth, Witch’s Wood, was moved from the entrance to the rear of the event when the San Bernardino religious community took offense, and one participant says the tarot readers were also scaled back.
“The vibe was not there,” says Suzanne Honor, a longtime Faire participant, who refers to the new attendees as the Kmart crowd: “The people who will only come if they get it for a deal. They’re not coming with money in their pocket to spend on crafts or to buy food. They’re coming to get the cheap deal.”
Renaissance Entertainment Productions, which took over the original Renaissance Pleasure Faire from the Pattersons in the 1990s, did not return a request for comment.
Several participants portrayed in “Faire” are looking to the merchant-run Northern California Faire (held September-October in Gilroy) to revive the ribald spirit of the Agoura Ren Faire. “Because we’re not catering to a family crowd at Northern Faire, we can be a little bawdier,” Honor says.
She laments that the period authenticity genie is out of the bottle with the growing inclusion of pirates (a la “Pirates of the Caribbean”) and fantasy characters (scantily clad women wearing fairy wings, guys in “World of Warcraft”-style gear), adding that this has led to a dramatic shift in the public’s expectations.
“We’re still going to dress period. We’re still going to have certain key characters running around that evoke the Renaissance,” Honor says. “Around them is going to be this maelstrom of things that aren’t period. ... It’s almost like you’re walking at Disneyland—you’ve got Renaissance World, you’ve got Pirate World and you’ve got We-Don’t-Know-Exactly-What-It-Is World, but we’re throwing it in anyway. I’d like to think we do it in a way that doesn’t tip it over into total fantasy but keeps it in that Renaissance milieu.”
April 6, 2010 | 3:36 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
The 1985 cult vampire hit, which came out the same year as “Teen Wolf,” rode the wave of teen comedies popularized in the 80s by John Hughes. And since the plot of “Fright Night”—teen gets mentored in the ways of fearless vampire hunting—paved the way for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” it’s fitting that “Buffy” scribe Marti Noxon wrote the script, which is being directed by Craig Gillespie (“Lars and the Real Girl”).
Noxon’s script “sticks to the concept of a teen being convinced that his new neighbor is a vampire, although no one will believe him,” THR reports.
It’ll be interesting to see who’s cast as Peter Vincent, the washed-up actor/horror film host who trains Charley in the fine art or staking (originally played by Roddy McDowall). Here’s to hoping they approach William Ragsdale of FX’s “Justified,” who played Charley in the original, to return for more than just a quick cameo.