Category Archives: pop culture

Rose City Comic Con 2018

Last weekend I went on assignment to Rose City Comic Con for Panda Mony Toys. We are releasing our first action figure line next year and we are looking for cool shows to visit. Rose City was pretty great! Here’s a video of my adventures:

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Am I Still A Geek?

When I created this image I really thought this blog was going to go another way.

In the past I would have no problem identifying with this statement:

I am a geek.

I don’t think that this is any kind of real surprise to anyone who reads this blog or knows me, but it’s not something that I bring up that often for public consumption.  Working in toys has really activated my geekery gene and since that is what I’ve been spending so much time on turning it into content for the internet seemed like the next natural choice. But as I’ve gotten back into my geekier pursuits I’ve noticed that I’m not feeling particularly connected to “geek” as a community – and I don’t know how I feel about that.

Why do we care?

In all likelihood you probably don’t, but it’s very possible that we are about to see a change to geek culture and since geek culture has been mainstreamed any changes that come are likely going to affect the entertainment industry in a massive way. I think my identity crisis is just a symptom of something bigger… maybe.

Being a geek is nothing new and we are somehow still in a geek culture golden age. If you were to tell me twenty-five years ago that some of the most popular things on YouTube, videos that were getting MILLIONS of views, were of people playing Dungeons and Dragons and other role playing games I’d laugh until I passed out. Put on top of that the fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the most popular, profitable and unstoppable franchise factories making household names out of characters that no one knew of merely a decade ago? And the fact that Star Wars as a universe is still chugging along in mainstream media? And that I can find Iron Man action figures in just about every single armor that he has ever worn both on screen and in the comics? I tell you my little teenage heart would burst.

But it was not always this way.

I like to frame myself as a “proud geek,” but if I’m being honest that hasn’t always been true. Even in times as geek popular as now I tend to hold that part back from the spotlight. In the past I have justified this hiding because of my “brand.” On this blog and on social media I preferred to be an actor first, focus on career related things… and every once in a while toss in an obscure movie reference, mention that I need to go play D&D, or talk about Iron Man. But that was not very authentic in how much of my private identity can be tied back to what are considered geeky (sometimes VERY geeky) things.

Although some of the geeky things have gained a hip status, the fact of the matter is that all the cool popular people playing or involved in this stuff  are a very small, niche part of the people who play and participate in the core of geekery. The core audience still carries the stigma that was turned into stereotypes used in TV and movies, especially in the late 70’s through the 90’s. Hell, that was my bread and butter for most of my young acting career.

That’s me, in the broken glasses, as Kirby the Nerd.

You can see it in the faces of cosplayers, Magic the Gathering players, wargamers and hard core D&D enthusists; there is an underlying fear anytime they are around people outside of their community that they will be made fun of. And I totally get that, I have also had that fear.

I think that Simon Pegg has presented the best definition of the modern geek:

As he points out, this doesn’t just apply to things like superhero fans and Warhammer 40,000 players but sports fanatics and people who love cars too. But the stigma doesn’t follow the latter the way it does the former. Jocks and nerds may be satisfying the same itch deep down, but society in general views them in very different ways and always at odds.

I was at Rose City Comic Con this year. It’s the first con that I’ve been to since San Diego ComiCon back in either 2012 or 2014 (I can’t remember) and even longer than that since I went to a convention of any size that wasn’t related to the entertainment industry in some way shape or form. This year felt different than what I remember.

Some of my favorite childhood memories are of my dad and I going to comic cons all over Southern California (mostly the Shrine Shows in L.A.) looking for old Iron Man back issues, checking out old toys and collectables, and doing our best to bargain down a price with the dealers. At these shows I built a very impressive collection of Yoda memorabilia, got my first Iron Man action figure from the defunct Secret Wars line, and completed a volume 1 collection of Iron Man comics. 

I would spend my days reading comics and coming up with adventures for all my favorite characters in my head. The reading material came in handy for auditions as well since I was merely a passengers for nearly a decade. I was proud to know as much about the Marvel Universe as I did. I knew Doctor Who lore and stories that would surprise adult fans. I knew Star Wars down to the Tonnika sisters. But I had very few people that I could share all this with.

Junior High School, the worst of all the “schools” in my opinion, was when I met my core group of friends, people I still know and love to this day. Jeff Garvin was my entry point to the group. He and I met doing Annie with a community theater group (another thing that is generally considered pretty geeky, but that’s another blog post altogether). We shared mutual interests, Star Wars and comic books in a general sense, and he introduced me to his Dungeons and Dragons group. Jeff, Dan and Scott became my best friends through school. 

In addition to D&D we shared other common interests in movies and music. Star Wars and Indiana Jones were big favorites and we spent way too much playing the original X-Wing and TIE Fighter computer games. We tried some other RPGs and Dan, Scott and I all started playing Warhammer 40k. We had each other’s backs. We were our own little community and we could run in the circles of other geek communities without effort.

At Rose City Comic Con I was the outsider. Even though I’m an over 40-bearded-beer-gut-guy (a description that has come to be the standard archetype for the stereotypical geek) I saw the distrustful looks that came from the cosplayers and gamers and comic book fans. I imagine I must’ve looked like a dad who was missing his kid, especially since I was there by myself. There was a part of me that wanted to say, “Don’t worry I’m totally one of you.” But even writing that seems condescending and pointless, especially since geekdom and fandom are plagued by toxic jerks right now. I can’t find fault with the suspicious looks. If you didn’t know any better I could be one of those entitled, angry and anonymous man-children screaming about The Last Jedi. Toxic Fandom is the culmination of people who felt powerless finding a voice and, in most circumstances, trying to claim ownership on a fictional world that should be open to everyone. When that kind of “fandom” finds other people who feel the same we get things like what we saw with recent Star Wars stars leaving social media.

But that’s not what I want to see. Sure there will always be jerks, but in general the community is at its best when it is supportive of each other and when people who want to learn about and participate in the geekery are welcomed. Even though I got a lot of side-eye yesterday, the folks at the convention we all very polite and super excited about what they were doing there. That’s the part I like. That’s what I’d like to see more of.

To that point I’m going to start talking about my geekier pursuits here on the blog more. I may not feel like I’m directly linked into the community like I used to be, but I still D&D like a boss, build and paint 40k armies competently, and can still throw down in Supernatural continuity conversations with the best of them. The old saying goes “be the change you’d like to see” and I’d like to help put some positivity back into the geeky stuff that I love.

Please join me! Tell me about the geeky stuff you love in the comments. Introduce me to that thing you like that maybe you’re self conscious about. Let’s build a better community without entitlement and toxicity.

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Op Ed: The Future of Entertainment

Image from MediaBistro.com

Image from MediaBistro.com

The entertainment industry is changing faster now than it ever has before. The last decade has seen an exponential change in how audiences consume content, where content is created, how content can be monetized, and what that means for the people who create all of this content. I see this from the perspective of the “working class” trenches: no development fund, need to maintain employment, still keeping up a hustle. For people like me (and there are a LOT of us) we have seen this change in a very real way for a long time and, as much as I hate to admit it, haven’t been as proactive as we probably should have been to be on the front of that wave.

Instead the younger set, those without the idea of “this is how things work” found their place. YouTubers are doing very well for themselves and Hollywood is taking notice, ready to monetize on their popularity. Fan films get national attention and have their own festival circuit. The biggest name in horror for the last seven years has been Paranormal Activity – a series that started with a movie made for about $11,000 in a dude’s house with After Effects.

For those with vision and a camera the future is open and ready…

…that being said, the old model is far from dead.

A lot of talk happened the Monday after the Golden Globes when Netflix and Amazon both walked away with coveted trophies about how the nature of television is changing and that the very business is already inexorably changed. And it is, but not completely. Not yet.

Here are two articles that, for me, were kind of the yin and yang of the future of the business, at least for the next few years especially in the context of wide public distribution, like television.

A Few Caveats About The New World Of Television from Monkey See from NPR

The Golden Globes Tell Us Everything About the Entertainment Industry in 2015 from IndieWire

I’m a “new model” guy who’s ready for the wild west, but it’s hard to pass up the money that can come with “old model” companies.

What do you think? Comment below.

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Fun Video Friday – Carl Poppa

Fun-Video-Friday

 

This past year has been a focus on creativity for Rene and I. With the successful roll out of Fun Size Horror and the various personal, friend and professional projects we’ve been working on we’ve been able to get back to doing the kinds of things that we not only enjoy but the kinds of things that energize us and that ends up spilling over into other aspects of our lives.

Today’s fun video is not new, it’s a couple months old and comes from the folks that do Bad Lip Reading on YouTube. It’s a song that was part of their Walking (and Talking) Dead series. I stumbled onto it again recently through a flurry of Facebook posts. The song is funny and if you’re a Walking Dead fan then it is even better, but what I find remarkable is that I really like the song, like, a lot. Sure most of the lyrics are silly, but it took a lot of talent and skill to get this together.  And it’s a hit! The song is available on iTunes and is shockingly catchy and easy to dance to.

The running thread between our year of creativity and this video is that it just took a little creativity to make something really cool and there are very few barriers to that as long as you’re willing to put in the work. So enjoy the video and then go out and work on that thing you’ve been meaning to do. It’s time.

See you next time.

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November 7, 2014 · 11:01 am

Project 365 6-5-2010

Today I went with Rene, Dean and Zeke to the /Film meet-up at Jerry’s Famous Deli on Ventura Blvd. in Los Angeles. It was very exciting! In addition to being in and making film and television I’m a big fan as well. Something that is often pointed out when I’m with people from other industries is that filmmakers are filmmakers through and through. When we’re on the job we’re doing film and when we’re off the job we’re talking or watching film. It becomes a major component in our lives. This fact was illustrated during a networking mixer when one of the leaders asked all of us filmmakers to describe what we like to do that isn’t film related and all of us – literally all 20 or so of us – looked at each other slack jawed and really had to think about it. To be clear it isn’t that we don’t do other things it’s just that it takes so much time and dedication to actually make a career work in film/T.V. that there isn’t a lot of time left for much else.

Part of how I like to spend my time when I’m not making business proposals or shooting things is by listening to podcasts about my favorite geeky things and one of my favorites is the /Filmcast. I’ve mentioned it before in my favorite podcast blog (along with a few others that I think are worth checking out) and was very happy that Dave Chen from the /Filmcast actually commented on it! On a tangential note, /Film also produces the Tobolowsky Files podcast that features stories told by character actor Stephen Tobolowsky – another great podcast and if you like stories, and I assume you do, this is absolutely worth your time. All of these things came together at the /Film meet-up!

Peter Sciretta and Dave Chen were there as well as Stephen Tobolowsky and his wife Anne, Dan Tractenberg of Totally Rad Show Fame and DC from Derrek Comedy. Everyone was very nice and it was was really nice to talk to them about the sites, shows and movies in general. Besides the headliners, we got a chance to chat with some cool movie/pop culture lovers. It was a great night all the way around.

Today’s picture is of Rene, Stephen Tobolowsky, Anne, Dave Chen and myself at the bowling lanes:

And as a special bonus here is a video of the night where I start by relieving my beer of a slice of fruit:

See you tomorrow!

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It’s Cheese!

I enjoy pop culture. I memorize song lyrics, tag lines and slogans. I also use them in “inside jokes” all the time. Tonight I wanted to let Rene inside a joke I’ve had since Junior High, but not really used in a while, “It’s cheese!”

I think it’s hysterical.

To let her in I found the commercial it was stolen from on YouTube. Here it is:

When I was a pre-teen/teen I found this HYSTERICAL! Now, whenever I can, I describe cheese this way, but I remember the “it’s cheese!” line bigger, more scared and, therefore, funnier. This next commercial, however, is exactly as I remember it, and is still one of my featured “go to” jokes when I improv:

These Little Ceasar’s commercials were some of the greatest of my childhood/adolescence. To this day they still work in getting me to crave Crazy Bread. They helped to groom my love of the ridiculous. We don’t get a lot of commercials like this anymore. Now we have “high concepts” and dramatic commercials, but sometimes I really miss the days of camp and “set-up/punchline” gags.

Here’s one last one, for old time’s sake. See you tomorrow!

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Filed under commercials, funny, musings, pop culture, videos