November, 2016 Archive

Superhero 101: Doctor Strange

Before you watch the new Doctor Strange movie, discover his origins according to the comics. One of the benefits of the Hollywood superhero phenomenon is that moviegoers are meeting characters previously known to only niche groups of comic book readers. Everyone knew Batman, Superman and Spider-Man, but now the general public know Iron Man, the Avengers and even Ant-Man. On November 4, mainstream audiences will meet another superhero: Doctor Strange. Superhero flicks are accessible to anyone without a preexisting knowledge of the source material, but moviegoers can miss so much by going into a new comic book universe blind. Before you enter this new Doctor Strange movie world, let’s answer the question: Who is Doctor Strange? Steve Ditko created Doctor Strange in 1963. While the average moviegoer may not know Ditko, his impact on the medium of comics has been profound. Ditko is the cocreator of Spider-Man, so it makes sense that when        …read more

Disney’s ‘Moana’ Follows Polynesian Heroine’s Journey

Disney Moana movie

She’s Polynesian, she refuses to be called a princess, and hers is not a love story. Will Disney’s ‘Moana’ start a trend toward more diverse characters and storytelling? Can we get this out of the way? I’m a guy and I can appreciate the Disney princess pantheon. I won’t claim a creepy infatuation with the genre, but sure, I’ve hummed my share of catchy Disney tunes, from “Under the Sea,” to “A Whole New World,” and how can anyone resist the hit song from Frozen? Unless there’s ice in your heart, you have to appreciate the Disney princess genre from at least a pop cultural lens. Now Disney will release Moana on November 23. It features the obligatory princess, but this one’s a little (well, a lot) different from the others — she’s Polynesian, she refuses to be called a princess, and hers is not a love story but a heroine’s journey.        …read more

NES Games Bring Back Fun for All Ages

NES games

This holiday, the Nintendo Entertainment System will be reissued, bringing classic NES games to a new generation. In the early ’80s, after the craze for the Atari dwindled and the novelty of arcades grew thin, there was a growing uncertainty in the video game industry. The “video game crash” seemed to happen due to the belief that games had already reached their peak. Looking back now, in the age of video game ubiquity in mainstream culture, these worries come off as laughable. Luckily, the force that allowed video games to prosper and proliferate came along amidst the throes of the supposed great video game demise. The Nintendo Entertainment System, commonly referred to as the NES, launched in North America in the fall of 1985. Along with it came the iconic franchises that even nongamers recognize today: Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Mega Man, Metroid and Castlevania. Even at a        …read more

6 Daily Gratitude Practices That Can Change Your Life

gratitude

Gratitude can make you healthier and happier. It’s science. Does the simple act of saying “thanks” affect our well-being? Researchers say yes. Studies show that people who report higher levels of gratitude in their daily lives are more hopeful and physically healthy overall, feel fewer aches and pains, sleep better and have higher levels of self-esteem. Some may wonder if the people in these studies simply have happier, better lives to begin with and are therefore able to be more grateful. Yet dozens of studies suggest a causal relationship between people who actively incorporate gratitude into their daily lives and improved physical and mental states. Even people undergoing large amounts of stress and trauma are able to reach greater levels of resiliency through gratitude practices, as noted in this 2006 study on Vietnam veterans. Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, head of Biologic Psychology at Duke University Medical Center, says, “If [thankfulness]        …read more

In Defense of Our Middle Child, Thanksgiving Holiday

Thanksgiving holiday

Dear, it’s time to tell Halloween and Christmas to stop stealing the limelight from our precious Thanksgiving Holiday. Hey, honey, Sorry for the long email while you’re at work, but I have something urgent to discuss and want to give you a heads-up. I’m calling an emergency family meeting tonight about the safety and well-being of one of our kids. It’s about our middle child: Thanksgiving Holiday. I know this may come as a surprise since it’s usually our eldest, Halloween, getting into all sorts of trouble, but I’m really worried. I thought we planned well, spacing our kids’ birthdays each about a month apart, but now I fear they’re too close together. It’s bad enough that Thanksgiving has to follow in Halloween’s footsteps, getting hand-me-down pumpkins that have already been used to decorate for Hal’s special month. The only new thing Hal has ever given Thanksgiving is a fun nickname. I’ve        …read more

The Female Gaze in Violetta Melnikova’s Porcelain Dolls

porcelain dolls

Violetta Melnikova’s hand-sculpted porcelain dolls are “an ode to the beauty of everything that it is to be a woman.” All art undergoes transformations, and your childhood memories of porcelain dolls will forever be altered thanks to Russian-born artist Violetta Melnikova. With hand-sculpted, ball-jointed porcelain dolls she has subverted the norm by creating dolls that take on intimate meanings, expressions and alternate realities — that are clearly not intended for children. In fact, that’s why Melnikova once refused to sell a doll to a customer. “I can refuse to sell a doll or painting or other art object, but not because I love it too much — more to protect pieces that I have invested so much time and soul into from irresponsible owners that have no understanding of keeping collectible pieces,” she confided to me. “Once I refused to sell a doll that a customer wanted to buy for        …read more

Mad Science for Singles: Banana Rum Sauce Recipe

banana rum sauce

Yum! Banana rum sauce! Looking for something quick, delicious and elegant to satisfy your sweet tooth? Try my banana rum sauce. It pairs well with ice cream — or you can use mad science to create your own perfect pairings. BANANA RUM SAUCE RECIPE Get your pyro on — then cool down with this banana rum sauce over ice cream! 1/2 cup butter 3/4 cup brown sugar 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 cup lemon juice 2 tablespoons orange juice 1/2 cup rum Bananas, chopped Melt butter. Add sugar and cook, stirring, until melted. Add cinnamon, orange and lemon juices. Cook one minute. Add chopped bananas — as many as you think you want. In a separate pan, warm the rum, ignite (be careful!) and then pour into sauce. In case you don’t have an audience for your pyrotechnics, this makes about 2 cups of sauce that can be saved, warmed and poured over ice cream        …read more

The Best of Stan Lee’s L.A. Comic Con 2016

Stan Lee’s L.A. Comic Con is a three-day spectacle of comics, video games, sci-fi, fantasy, horror and pure awesomeness. My favorite part? The people. Stan Lee’s L.A. Comic Con 2016 (formerly known as Comikaze) is a pop culture lover’s dream come true. Held annually at the Los Angeles Convention Centre, this three-day spectacle of comics, video games, sci-fi, fantasy, horror and pure awesomeness attracts over 75,000 of the most hard-core fans looking to get their geek on. And I mean that in the best possible way. Where else but at a comic con can you dress as your favorite character, meet your celebrity heroes and have a great time talking about Star Trek, Batman and all things The Walking Dead with your friends and family? If you’ve never been to Stan Lee’s L.A. Comic Con, it’s well worth the effort. But as with any major comic con, it pays to        …read more

Discerning Gender Identity in an Ever-Changing World

gender identity

How to learn about gender identity and ask the right questions. I can still remember watching skits on Saturday Night Live in the 1990s featuring Pat, the awkward, ambiguously gendered person whose gender identity everyone was desperate to discern. The vague questions everyone asked were a source of high hilarity for the average viewer, but even as a child I was uncomfortable with them. Flash forward about 10 years. It was the early 2000s, and I worked at a coffee shop in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. A person started working there who appeared quite androgynous and had a name that wasn’t gender specific. Coworkers would ask this person questions like “What kind of name is that?” This new employee would reply, “A family name.” The questions skirted around the preferable questions, which were “What is your gender identity? What are your pronouns?” All my coworkers talked about this new employee        …read more

Booker T: The Reality of Wrestling with Leaving the Ring Behind

reality of wrestling

In the fourth installment of a six-part series, WWE legend Booker T talks about the reality of wrestling with the riskiest move a grappler ever makes — leaving the ring behind. Back in 1994 or 1995, World Championship Wrestling was having its biggest pay-per-view event of the year, The Great American Bash. For the big blowout shows like this one, the company would sometimes invite legends from the past to get the fans excited. When they invited Wahoo McDaniel, I was probably the one who got the most excited. Wahoo was one of my idols in the business. He was a former Kansas City Chief and just a stone-cold tough dude. I got a chance to sit down next to him in the locker room. And watching him put his boots on, you’d think it was one of the hardest things a man could ever do. Wahoo was a legend,        …read more