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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Game of Thrones scavenger hunt finds its way to North Beach

Posted By on Tue, Apr 12, 2016 at 9:00 AM

The Ultimate Game of Thrones Experience on April 19 is meant to tide GoT super fans over till the show's premiere on April 24. - HBO
  • HBO
  • The Ultimate Game of Thrones Experience on April 19 is meant to tide GoT super fans over till the show's premiere on April 24.

If you're a Game of Thrones superfan, good luck teasing out season six storylines or spoilers before the popular cable show's April 24th premiere. HBO may have intimated that Jon Snow is dead, but everything else about the program's first season to depart from author George RR Martin's wildly popular A Song of Ice and Fire series is being kept tightly under wraps. Anyway, there is no point in fixating on what's to come, when your existing show knowledge can win you coveted prizes at the Ultimate Game of Thrones Experience, in San Francisco on April 19. 

The Go Game, a local company that designs team-building exercises, has created this special Game of Thrones-themed scavenger hunt for fans who want to get in on the action. North Beach will transform into Westeros and dozens of competing teams of four to six will morph into warring houses, like the Lannisters, Starks or Targaryen, in a battle for great riches. Instead of swords and blades, contestants will war with wits and trivia knowledge.  After completing the hunt, winners will be chosen and swag, such as highly coveted Game of Thrones helmets, will be handed out. Teams will also be handsomely rewarded for best names and top costumes. 

A few lucky winners will take home sought-after Game of Thrones helmets. - HBO
  • HBO
  • A few lucky winners will take home sought-after Game of Thrones helmets.

At the very least, participants may be able to network their way into a lucrative tech job, since employees from Twitter, Munchery, Google, Salesforce and Apple are all slated to participate.  Break the ice over sips from the open bar and bites from Tacolicious.

Here is the official itinerary:

6 p.m. – Doors Open, Cocktails & Appetizers
7 p.m. – Games Begin
8:30 p.m. – Top Teams Awarded
9 p.m. – Cocktails & Grub Celebration 

You must be 21 or over to participate and must email to register.  Finally, whether you're on the scavenger hunt or job hunt, motivate yourself with this memorable GoT quote:  "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die." It's probably a good idea to know who said it, too.

Ultimate Game of Thrones Experience, April 19, at Bimbo's 365 Club, (Free), 1025 Columbus Ave,
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Monday, February 29, 2016

Fuller House Parodies Are Proliferating

Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 2:00 PM

  • Fuller House in San Francisco

Have you watched Fuller House? Apparently, there are at least a few clever acknowledgements of the Olsen Twins' absence. First, Danny Tanner says, "Michelle sends her love, but she's busy running her fashion empire in New York," before camera pulls back to reveal the entire cast throwing shade en masse in the form of mugging for the camera.

Second, one character — D.J.'s daughter, maybe? — says she bought a dress by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, prompting Kimmy Gibbler to grab the receipt and say, "At these prices, no wonder they don't need to act anymore."


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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Bay of the Living Dead: Kathleen Cody Steps Back Into the Shadows

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2015 at 12:00 PM

  • Big Finish Productions
Welcome to Bay of the Living Dead, a twice-a-month column about the horror genre.

When viewers of Dark Shadows last saw Hallie Stokes, she was lying dead in the tower room of the great house of Collinwood, one of many who fell victim to the malevolent ghost of Gerard Stiles—the ghost was himself possessed by the soul of the evil 17th century warlock Judah Zachary. Barnabas Collins and Julia Hoffman were about to travel back to the year 1840, where they hoped to prevent Gerard's death. which would in turn prevent the deaths of Hallie and all of the others who lived in the grand old mansion. It was the summer of 1970, and viewers were watching the horror-themed soap opera's final major storyline before it's cancellation in April 1971.

Hallie was played by Kathleen Cody, a stunningly beautiful young actress who had been working since she was a little girl. Soap operas, TV commercials, prime-time TV, theater, and modeling. Cody had done it all by the time she was cast as Hallie at age 15. The best was yet to come—Cody went on to become a contract player at the Walt Disney Company, starring in hit family films like Snowball Express and SuperdadThen, she disappeared.

Kathleen Cody gave it all up in the mid-1980s in order to play her greatest role: mom.

Now, Cody and Hallie are back. Kathleen Cody is the top billed star of Dark Shadows: Tainted Lovean audio drama produced on CD by UK based Big Finish Productions. It's the second such CD that Cody has starred in. She first revisited the Dark Shadows universe, and her character, in last year's Dark Shadows: Carriage of the Damnedan eerie chiller in which the now adult Hallie recalls having lived two lives—the life in which she died at the hands of Gerard Stiles, and the whole new life she leads after her friends Barnabas and Julia successfully changed the course of history during their sojourn to 1840. As I reported in Fangoria Magazine, Carriage of the Damned, served to tie up some pesky "loose ends", unresolved plot points from that 1840 journey. 

  • Big Finish Productions
In Tainted Love, Hallie is now evil. Determined to win the love of her childhood friend David Collins, she has turned to the Dark Arts, using witchcraft to lure her man into her spider's web. The relationship between the adult Hallie and David is not unlike that of the iconic Dark Shadows characters of Barnabas and Angelique, she being the witch who turned Barnabas into a vampire out of revenge for scorning her love back in 1795.

"It's fun playing the role of Hallie again after 45 years," Cody told SF Weekly, speaking from her home in Florida. "It's more fun than playing Hallie in the original role back in 1970 actually, and the reason for that is multi-layered. Number one: I'm older and my approach to Hallie is to try and understand why she acts the way she does, why she says what she says. Hallie is older too, although time goes slower in Hallie's world then mine!  Hallie at the time of Tainted Love is about 29 yrs old, so it was time to understand how life affected her. And that's where creating a backstory and character development summary came in handy. It gave me a chance to analyze the character of Hallie, who was virtually characterless in 1970 at 15 yrs old. It was time to create a character and a backstory to understand her. She's a troubled soul and with good reason."

Kathleen Cody, with David Henesy, on Dark Shadows in 1970. - DAN CURTIS PRODUCTIONS
  • Dan Curtis Productions
  • Kathleen Cody, with David Henesy, on Dark Shadows in 1970.
Some of the backstory which Cody refers to is revealed in Carriage of the Damned and Tainted Love. Cody worked closely with Big Finish writers and producers David Darlington and Joseph Lidster in developing Hallie's grown up persona—Cody was kind enough to share some of her own thoughts on how the character might develop over the years:

"Hallie Stokes had been a totally vulnerable, unprepared and powerless young girl going up against the paranormal forces that were waiting for her since she first stepped foot into Collinwood in 1970. What she went through back in 1970-1971 had changed her life forever and Hallie was determined never to be vulnerable, helpless or powerless again.

In her struggle to learn how to deal with the psychological trauma (PTSD?) she experienced all those years ago, Hallie Stokes took her first step over the line into the dark side. She was determined that no one would know what she was doing developing her skills in witchcraft and her understanding of the paranormal world. She would still act the sweet, innocent, responsible, dutiful and (in her eyes) boring young lady everyone had always viewed her as.

But Hallie knew she was so much more than that. As she delved deeper, her knowledge grew... and so did her passion and power. She hides her anger well, but inside she keeps track of each person, known or unknown, alive or dead, who has taken something from her, betrayed her or abandoned her. Determined to keep her power a secret until the right time comes, there is only one person Hallie feels she must make understand. Although David turned away from her as she tried to explain the path she was on once before, the man she fell in love with years ago would not betray her! She was sure of this. They would be together as they always had been, once he really understood.

The time had come. Hallie vowed she would never be helpless again. And with that vow, Hallie Stokes unwittingly began following in the footsteps of Angelique."

In a plot twist that my surprise original Dark Shadows viewers, Tainted Love includes a sexual liaison between Hallie and David Collins. It was a natural progression for the two characters, according to Cody.

"I've heard it said by so many Dark Shadows  fans that David and Hallie would have married," she said. "So, it's not a surprise that in Tainted Love we see a romantic attraction between the both of them! What might be a little bit shocking to the older generation of Dark Shadows fans is that they actually do consummate their attraction for each other, but without the ritual of marriage, as probably would have been done on the soap back in the 70's. And the dialogue between the two of them is a little more explicit to the act than what you would have heard on the original series also, but after all... It is 2015 now!"

These days, Kathleen Cody lives a life of quiet, happy retirement. Though she's enjoying her return to the house of Dark Shadows, she has no plans to resume a full time acting career. But she's certainly open to doing more audio dramas for Big 
Kathleen Cody today. - KATHLEEN CODY
  • Kathleen Cody
  • Kathleen Cody today.
Finish Productions, and now has a Facebook page where she connects with fans.

"I enjoy talking to all my fans on Facebook and Twitter, not just Dark Shadows fans but fans from all the work I did during my professional career," Cody said. "By now I have settled into a comfortable and friendly exchange with all, and I think my fans know that I care about them and that mostly I want my Facebook profile page and my fan group, Kathleen Cody Fan Groupto be a safe place for anyone to come and feel welcome and comfortable."

As we previously reported in this column, the Dark Shadows fan world has been invaded by a number of unsavory types, bullies who consider the show their personal property. Cody will have none of it in her corner of the Dark Shadows universe.

"Unfortunately, everyone must deal with bullies," she points out. "Words hurt, and sometimes those words are intentionally meant to hurt. Adult cyberbullying by small groups within Dark Shadows fandom is unacceptable and says more about the person or persons doing the bullying then the hurtful words being thrown out at their targets."

Cody hopes that Dark Shadows fans who want to enjoy the show in a relaxed, respectful and fun environment will seek membership in her fan group. "I've been fortunate to have met many wonderful people through my association with Dark Shadows over the years," she said. "I find it easier to focus on healthy personal and professional relationships. So many of the  Dark Shadows  fans have given a wonderful response to Tainted Love, and for that I am most grateful."     

Happy New Year!                                            

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Gus Van Sant and Dustin Lance Black Team Up for Miniseries on S.F. LGBT History

Posted By on Tue, Dec 29, 2015 at 1:30 PM

  • Mark Rhoades PR
Remember how, in the bittersweet post-Obama-and-Prop.-8 days of late 2008, the Castro Theater essentially shut down for a month to screen nothing but Gus Van Sant's Harvey Milk biopic, Milk? Everything was put on hold, from Sound of Music sing-alongs to restorations of Hitchcock noirs, because San Francisco was drinking deep from its own well of LGBT history. (That much of Milk was shot on location right outside the theater surely played a role.)

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Monday, December 21, 2015

The Golden Age of TV Movies: Say Goodbye, Maggie Cole (1972)

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2015 at 2:00 PM

  • ABC TV

Susan Hayward (1917-1975) was a big star. She was Oscar's choice for Best Actress for her powerful performance in I Want to Live (1958). By the time she made Say Goodbye, Maggie Cole Hayward's career had slowed down, largely by her own choice. 

Hayward was an old-school actress. A tough and no-nonsense gal, she was known in the industry for her punctuality, her professionalism, and for not taking any shit from anyone. Say Goodbye, Maggie Cole, which premiered as a TV movie on Sept. 27, 1972, was meant to be the actress' return to full time acting. It turned out to be her swan song. The film, which drew huge numbers at the time, was in development as a weekly series when Hayward was diagnosed with a brain tumor, She died in 1975, age 57.

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Friday, December 18, 2015

The Fuller House Trailer: a Close Reading

Posted By on Fri, Dec 18, 2015 at 12:00 AM


Man, it’s been a good week for trailers. The rather abominable-looking, Beastie Boys-backed Star Trek Beyond trailer appeared, as did the titillating Independence Day: Resurgence trailer. Thankfully, further Force Awakens trailers are a mathematical impossibility at this point. But even though an in-universe San Francisco gets destroyed in the chronology of those other two, we also have something happy, something pure. Something involving an establishing shot from the Marin Headlands, a familiar look at the grassy knoll above the Painted Ladies, and a typeface that might as well be called Millar-Boyett.

The slightly mournful, crafted-for-a-montage acoustic guitar preps you for what’s coming: the Fuller House trailer!

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Friday, December 11, 2015

Seeso Launches The Guest List at The Barrel House

Posted By on Fri, Dec 11, 2015 at 9:30 AM

click image Host Matt Lieb kicks off the first episode of "The Guest List." - PHOTO: @ROOFTOPCOMEDY ON INSTAGRAM
  • Photo: @rooftopcomedy on Instagram
  • Host Matt Lieb kicks off the first episode of "The Guest List."

Armed with blue cups of Lagunitas beer and packed tightly into the small confines of The Barrel House, a crowd of 75 listened as host Matt Lieb prepped them on the evening ahead.

“This is going live in five minutes,” he told the crowd, before testing their ability to spontaneously break into ecstatic applause.

The show being streamed on Tuesday night is one of many shows debuting as part of the Seeso network, an NBC/Universal online enterprise that will serve as a Netflix of comedy. In addition to housing the full runs of beloved shows like 30 Rock, The Kids in the Hall, Saturday Night Live, and Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the service will also offer a range of original programming from comedy powerhouses like the Upright Citizen’s Brigade. In all, over 20 original series and exclusive stand-up sets will be made available to subscribers for a monthly fee of $3.99.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

New On Video: Sea Serpents and She-Creatures in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXIV

Posted By on Tue, Dec 8, 2015 at 12:00 PM


It’s alive: Joel Hodgson’s Kickstarter to bring back Mystery Science Theater 3000 has surpassed its initial $2 million goal. It’s currently at the $3.5 million needed to produce six episodes, and if it can reach $5.5 million by Dec. 11, there’ll be 12 new episodes altogether. The new cast has also been announced: Jonah Ray is in the new host, Felicia Day will be the new baddie Kinga Forrester (granddaughter of Pearl and daughter of Clayton), and Patton Oswalt will be TV’s Son of TV’s Frank. I’ve always had mixed feelings about Jonah Ray; I had to stop listening to the Nerdist Podcast because he always dominated conversations with stories about how much he was into punk rock as a kid — among my pet peeves is straight guys droning on about how punk rock totally saved my life, maaaaaaaaaaan — but I’m excited that the new Mad is female, and Patton Oswalt rocks my world.

So it’s a transitional time for MST3k, making it appropriate Shout! Factory released Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXIV last week, which captures the show in a similarly transitory period in 1997.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

The Golden Age of TV Movies: Death Be Not Proud (1975)

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 1:00 PM

Robby Benson, left, as Johnny Jr, with Arthur Hill as John Sr. - ABC TV
  • ABC TV
  • Robby Benson, left, as Johnny Jr, with Arthur Hill as John Sr.

Welcome to The Golden Age of TV Movies, a monthly column about those wonderful TV movies of yesteryear.

John Gunther
(1901-1970) was one of the most important and respected journalists of his day, During his lifetime Gunther traveled the world, winning great acclaim for best selling tomes such as Inside Asia, Inside Latin America, and Inside USA.

Today Gunther is best remembered for the memoir Death Be Not Proud, in which he chronicled his son's battle with a malignant brain tumor. John Gunther Jr (1929-1947) had been considered a prodigy, a scientist who corresponded with Albert Einstein about physics. He died at age 17, two weeks after graduating from high school. He had already passed his college entrance exams and had been accepted into Harvard. 

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Watch This: An Alien Anthropologist Analyzes Breaking Bad on Earthling Cinema

Posted By on Fri, Nov 13, 2015 at 1:00 PM


Earthling Cinema is one of the primary series on one of my favorite educational YouTube channels, Wisecrack, whose motto is "Laugh Harder, Grow Smarter." Hey, I like doing both of those things! It’s currently Breaking Bad Week, and Cinema host Garyx Wormuloid — a alien from the distant future who tries to make sense of the long-destroyed planet Earth via our pop culture — studies all five seasons. Also, each episode about five minutes long, so seriously, you have time for it.

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  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"