Missives from and to the internet, delivered by a series of tubes.
Welcome, dear readers, to our Thursday feature – a letter column of horrors culled from our inboxes. There will be things that are real and decidedly unreal – but hopefully all content presented here will be entertaining.
That said, WE ARE LOOKING FOR LETTERS! We are hiding in your bushes, metaphorical or otherwise. We crave your sweet correspondence. Contact us by clicking on that handy contact button right above the site banner to save yourself from our sweet lips on your power bills.
Letters might be edited for space, but not for intent.
Thank you, internet.
This week, we have a very special All Hallow’s Edition of Um, Actually! Never mind that it’s a day after Halloween. We can’t move a holiday, you guys. We don’t have that kind of power. Stop yelling at us! You’re not my real mom! Stop pushing me! Real Mom, the readers are on my side of the car!
Jay (@jayrunham) asks: Have you guys seen the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show yet? If no: why not? If yes: what do you think?
James: I haven’t seen it, and not in the two weeks since the last time you asked me. However, in the meantime, I’ve discovered that I actually have no excuse. You see, I thought it was airing in Canada on Teletoon, a channel with no high definition version through my cable provider, and earlier in the year I dumped almost all of my standard definition channels to save money because I never actually watched them. However, a little bit of overdue research just now shows that I actually do get the channel that TMNT airs on, so I’ll probably be checking it out soon, if I remember.
I will probably not remember.
Brandon: I haven’t watched it yet because James didn’t have it, and I don’t have legitimate television. Plus, there’s so much stuff that I’ve yet to consume that I have legal access too, I haven’t bothered. I’ve heard good things though, and I’m really excited for there to be something new.
In the meantime, I guess there’s always the Power Rangers episodes where they meet the Ninja Turles up on Netflix.
Taylor (@iamtaylorsmith) asks: If you had to dress each other up as one of the Pussycats (including Josie), who’d you choose?
James: First of all Taylor, thanks for letting me remind people that we’re totally presenting a screening of the Josie and the Pussycats movie in three weeks. Second, the answer is actually pretty simple, because their costumes are generally portrayed as being identical. Even in the movie, with the exception of Melody as played by Tara Reid‘s extra-revealing clothes, they still dress pretty similarly even though they’re not wearing matching cat outfits.
So I guess what I am saying is that I would dress Brandon as Valerie because people haven’t gotten angry at him for blackface in a while.
Brandon: Not since that last time.
I would dress James up as Josie and give him a subliminal message tape about how he’s the real Rachael Leigh Cook. Worst case scenario, he finds the real Rachael Leigh Cook and tries to break her open so he can steal her power, which he would regret ‘til the end of his days. Best case scenario, he starts to feel really uncomfortable about how attractive he finds himself and does something else he might (?) regret given a clear mind. What I’m saying is, James doesn’t have enough regrets, and I’m gonna give ‘em to him, because what are friends for?
Ryan (@charminggrump) asks: Would it be better to have sex with a ghost or sex with a Whedon fan zombie?
James: Man, uh, I am not exactly comfortable with that latter half of the question, Ryan. I generally try not to dump on people liking things, so I wouldn’t ever call even the most enthusiastic Joss Whedon fan a “zombie.” Plus, I would have sex with a ghost because everybody knows you can’t get ghosts pregnant. And even if you could, a half-ghost sounds like a pretty great media property to license out. It’d be like Blade, except with less Stephen Dorff. Unfortunately, it would also probably be like Blade, except with less Kris Kristofferson.
Brandon: I chose to believe that he meant having sex with a Joss Whedon fan, who is sadly a zombie. Thanks, Obama.
Rebecca (@knowingyou) asks: What is the scariest question that someone can ask you? (If you answer the question, it clearly isn’t scary enough.)
James: What will you do when you have to move to a different city than Brandon?
Brandon: What will happen when James moves to a different city than you?
Marc (@dasnordlicht91) asks: Scarier roster of zombie heroes: the Marvel Zombies or DC’s Black Lanterns?
James: I actually haven’t read any Marvel Zombies stuff, so the Black Lanterns more or less win by default. While Blackest Night wasn’t my favourite Big Comic Event, the fact that the Black Lanterns are basically just emotionally abusive versions of their living selves made for some interesting stories, especially in the tie-in miniseries where creative teams could do some good character work without having to focus on moving forward a giant company-wide story. Blackest Night: Teen Titans had some interesting work with this, especially with the characters of Beast Boy and Donna Troy having to deal with Terra and Dead Husband and Son, respectively. The Batman family tie-in was also good, because that’s basically an entire corner of the DC Universe that’s defined by dead loved ones, which meant it was ripe for the pickin’.
This let those Blackest Night stories be less about zombies – which, from my very limited understanding, Marvel Zombies doesn’t really do – and more about repressed trauma, survivor’s guilt and regret. Since I’m actually not a big fan of zombie stories (even The Walking Dead comic and TV series aren’t really about zombies, which is why I like them), I like it.
Brandon: I would say the Marvel Zombies, because… well, for all the humour in the books, there’s nothing that will get the pain of Spider-Man chomping down on Mary Jane and Aunt May out of your brain, ever never. That’s a thing that happens you guys. Spider-Man eats his family, and then doesn’t get better because he’s a zombie.
Jessica (@starkers_in_yeg) asks: How would you kill each other, horror movie-style? Not how you’ll likely end up killing each other in real life.
James: Simple! A la Saw, Brandon would be forced to cut himself open to get the key to a set of handcuffs so he could escape from a room he was locked in with Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston and Larry of Larry’s Comics.
However, if we’re picking horror movies I like, which basically precludes any torture porn movies, he’d be torn apart by wolfmen.
Brandon: I would lock Bruce Springsteen and James in adjoining rooms and have them both listen to old John Cougar Mellencamp songs until one of them presses the button, killing the other. They would maybe both just end up starving to death, because I think Bruce is a good dude, and James would never ever kill the Boss, under any circumstances. But like most horror movies, that’s just needlessly cruel (and I already feel sick to my stomach thinking of it) so I would probably having him die like he lived, drowning in Blaculas.
Scott Bourgeois (@scottybomb) asks: In honour of Halloween, what’s your favourite horror movie, comic, book and video game?
James: For horror movies, the answer is basically anything not made in the last decade. I’ll be honest: I hate the “torture porn” and quick-cut-and-jarring-music-note-to-shock-you genres of movies, which means it’s hard to find recent horror movies I like. I’ve always preferred really effective psychological horror, with creeping dread that’s not dependent on quick flashes of something scary, so I of course like Hitchcock films and my favourite horror movie of all time:
No movie has ever scared me more than that did when I was ten years old. I was at my friend’s house for a sleepover party, and because his dad was a film buff whose job was actually in the arts, he threw on the 1922 German Expressionist classic, starring Max Schreck. I actually don’t remember finishing watching the movie that night; I got so scared that I freaked out, went upstairs and got my friend’s parents to call mine and take me home later because I was too scared to sleep. Ever since, the movie has occupied the Top Horror Movie slot in my brain, and I imagine it always will be. I also really dig all those old black and white monster movies, but they don’t scare me as much as Nosferatu does.
I don’t actually read a lot in the horrror genre, comics or otherwise. I really liked Rebel Blood and Fatale this year, even if the latter isn’t a full-on horror story. Chris Sims and Steve Downer‘s Dracula the Unconquered is great, but it’s also not horror. And for books, son, you ain’t gonna top Bram Stoker‘s Dracula.
I played Resident Evil: Zero for like half an hour and hated it.
Brandon: I don’t watch a lot of horror movies, so I would probably say Cabin in the Woods – because I didn’t hate it, and it made me laugh. Otherwise, I’m just not really a fan of the stress involved in scary movies… whether that stress is cheap or genuine.
My favourite horror comic is definitely Locke and Key – fantastic, terrifying series about a family, a house, and a shit tonne of keys that do wonderful and horrifying things. A close second would be Pixu, a horror book by Becky Cloonan, Vasilis Lolos, Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba about an apartment comples where uh… just terrible things happen.
As for books, I would quite honestly rather read the Gossip Girl series (and have) than a straight horror, so I’m going to go with that one Gossip Girl book where the series creator re-wrote the original book and had the characters actually stab each other in the back and commit all sorts of other murders, instead of just being terrible people to each other.
Video games? I don’t really play em at all. Does Super Mario World count? Or that Batman Arkham Asylum game? If not, I can’t help you out.
Scotty B continues: What monster would you least want to meet in a dark alley?
James: Ronald Reagan. Even though I’m pretty sure I could have taken him, I’d basically get the chair for it.
Brandon: What’s the one with the knife? I don’t like knives. Or needles. So them guys.
Scotty B goes on: Which comic book hero would you turn heel, and which villain would you turn face?
James: If you’re not turning Doctor Doom face, you’re not even trying to answer the question seriously. And I’d turn Gambit heel so that I wouldn’t have to pretend he’s tolerable.
Brandon: James is spot on with the Doctor Doom call. My vote for a heel turn would be Ben Reilly. And not because I’d want him to go bad, but because I just really super want Pete to pull back a cowl and see Ben yell, “It was ME Parker! It was ME ALL ALONG!”
Scotty B pressed: What Disney/Star Wars team-up would you like to see?
James: Beast (from Beauty & the Beast) makes out with Chewbacca for like a solid hour.
Brandon: Ewoks trapped in Arcade’s Murder World. Wait, you said Disney and not Marvel didn’t you. Oh uhhhh… Mickey Mouse sleeping inside a Tauntaun?
Ben (@undeadavenger) asks: How do you feel about the abuse of the term “plot hole” in today’s comic/film cultures? Few seem to appreciate ambiguity.
James: Honestly Ben, you basically got my answer exactly. I’ve written about it before when talking about Prometheus, but in short, I think “plot hole” is grossly overused, to the extent that if people are complaining about one, they’re probably not actually talking about one. At some point, the meaning shifted from “contradictory or missing exposition” to just refer to any ambiguity in the plot of something. And I hate it. People’s fixation on it ruins a lot of enjoyment, and it seems to reflect an inherent mistrust of the art itself. There are also people who refer to virtually anything that happens off-screen as being a plot hole, which is just a fundamental misunderstanding of how storytelling works. There are certainly examples where there are things missing to the extent a plot becomes disjointed or strain credulity, but they’re not what people are talking about when they complain most of the time. Most “plot holes” are resolved by either just saying, “Okay, I guess ___ happened” or just relaxing in general.
Brandon: Marvel always did this right, by offering a “No Prize” to fans that found plot holes. Instead of poking holes in continuity, you helped become an architect. You helped, instead of hindered. Can’t we just do that? Instead of getting frustrated and hitting your head against a wall, what if you just make a work around in your own damn brain? It’s a helluvva lot healthier, lemme tell you.
Scott (@scottowilliams) asks: What is your favorite Halloween candy?
James: If we’re talking fun-sized chocolate bars, I am a sucker for Coffee Crisps or Wunderbars, since I’ll rarely actually just buy one, unlike, say, a Twix. As for actual Halloween candy, I’m a fan of gummi anything. Seriously, it is a problem.
Candy corn is usually terrible, though.
Brandon: The tiny bags of Sour Patch Kids. Just enough in each pack to give you the little kick, without the temptation to eat a giant bag and have your tongue start peeling from all the sour.
Scott inquires: What is the second best comic book movie?
James: I’ll he honest, after Josie and the Pussycats, it is lot harder to talk about best, since there are so many other good contenders. I love Road to Perdition, even if I’ve never read the comic and didn’t actually know it was based on one when I saw the movie. I love Christopher Nolan‘s Batman trilogy, and I love Batman 1966. Obviously, having presented a screening, I like Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. There’s a lot of great stuff, is what I’m saying, and even the Batman movies are a great example of how one character can be many different great thing. But out of all of these, Batman 1966 probably comes the closest to the types of things I like about Josie, which is as good a reason as any to pick it.
Brandon: I would say Batman 66 is right up there with Scott Pilgrim vs The World. I loves me some fun movies.
Scott continues: What is the best Arnold Schwarzenegger movie?
James: I’m on the record as saying that Jingle All the Way is the best one, and nobody will ever convince me otherwise.
Brandon: Jingle All The Way is his best comedy, and Commando is his best action. Facts.
Scott coughs: What are you having for lunch?
James: I had dinner at my parents’ house last night, and my dad made a pretty great homemade macaroni and cheese. I ate the leftover mornay (cheese) sauce out of the pot with a spatula, so let’s just say I really dug it. Anyway, I have a leftover portion of the mac and cheese today.
Seriously though, it is shocking that anybody would ever buy the boxed macaroni and cheese with the powdered sauce mix when it’s so incredibly easy to make your own stuff at home with a minimum of effort and almost no extra time required. Seriously, it basically takes the same amount of time as it does to make the boxed stuff, because while the pasta is boiling, you can make the cheese sauce out of like four ingredients, which is exactly one more than the awful boxed stuff:
1. Heat qual amounts of butter and flour, stirring (roux);
B. Add hot/warm milk (bechamel);
$. Mix in shredded cheese (mornay).
It also has the added benefit of not being completely awful.
Brandon: Leftover chicken fried rice!
Scott gasps: Would you like to take a moment to settle everyone’s shit about the Star Wars news?
James: It really was weird seeing the same people who’d been begging George Lucas give up control of Star Wars for like a solid decade immediately start complaining about Disney buying it from him for a variety of ridiculous reasons (such as discomfort that Disney now owns so many properties or a belief that Episode VII will be awful and unneeded because the original trilogy was all that’s needed, even if they love other Extended Universe stuff). Luckily, I already wrote an article about why complaining about Star Wars is ridiculous and why the franchise’s fandom frustrates me. So people can just read that, I guess.
But yeah, basically: nobody will make you watch it or buy it so there is zero reason to complain about it like it did something bad to you.
Brandon: Earlier today, I told people to either stop complaining or to eat a gun, because STAR WARS ISN’T REAL and they just won’t stop talking about how it’s all going to be ruined… first by Lucas, and now by Disney. And the worst thing, the WORST, is the fact that they all WANT more, but they don’t seem to want ANYONE to make it. Other than themselves, I assume. God damn.
Anyway, my real advice is to relax the fuck up and enjoy what you get. And if you can’t, just stop. Why would you do that to yourself? Watch something you hate. Stop it. Bad. Wrong.
That’s it for the thirty-second installment of Um, Actually! Check in every Thursday for a new batch of questions. If you have anything you’d like answered, hit up our Contact page! If you submit anything via Twitter – to @blogaboutcomics, @leask or @soupytoasterson - remember to include the hashtag #UMACTUALLY so that we don’t lose it. Remember: you can ask us anything.