The Seven Deadly Sequel Sins: A Memo on How NOT to Kill Your Film Franchise [The Ryan Dixon Line]...

To: Newly Promoted President of Production at Major Hollywood Studio From: The Mainstream Moviegoing Audience of America Congratulations on your new job! After years of suffering through labyrinthine lunch orders, death-defying dry cleaning runs and post-orgy organization duty, you’ve climbed to the top of the Hollywood mountain and can greenlight any movie you want! Sorry about your first day on the job, though. Having the Chairman of your parent company enter your newly feng shuied office, plop an energy drink on your desk and ask, “How can we make this into a five-picture franchise?” is probably not what you had in mind when dreaming of cinematic glory. But don’t panic. You can still produce your King’s Speeches, Social Networks and Black Swans, first you just need to feed the multi-national corporate beast by stuffing it full of sequels! The good news is that with a record 27 sequels scheduled to open this year (including a unprecedented collection of “Part IV’s”) the beast is hungrier than ever! The goal of a sequel is primordial in its simplicity: make enough money to make another sequel. Unfortunately, come December 31 many of these 27 titles will most likely have failed to deliver, forcing studios to impatiently wait decades instead of mere years to “reboot” the franchise. Those decision makers who shepherded the ill-begotten cinematic spawn will be forced to live in Hollywood exile, roaming a desolate world of canceled Centurion cards, dollar menu deals and martini’s made with McCormick’s gin instead of Bombay Sapphire.  To help avoid this dark fate, we, the mainstream moviegoing audience of America, have decided to present you with a reference guide to potentially lethal sequel symptoms. We have also compiled a list of the twelve most deadly sequels of all time. The...

James Joyce’s Ulysses: Cocktail Party Edition [The Ryan Dixon Line]

A Reader’s Guide to Not Reading Ulysses. It can happen to anyone. You’re at a birthday party, Bar Mitzvah, or PTA meeting. The day has gone well, the weather outside is perfect, you’re happy to be alive. But then the rabbi, soccer mom super hero or neighbor’s boarding school brat references James Joyce’s Ulysses. The innards of your bowels roar, your heart goes all NASCAR, a tsunami of sweat floods your brow, back and underarms. You flashback to Thanksgiving three years ago: the last time someone referenced Ulysses — you confused it with Homer’s The Odyssey. Five minutes later, the host informed you that, unfortunately, they had miscounted the table settings and you soon found yourself eating turkey at the kids table. And now the book rises again like an unread wraith into your otherwise literate life. You have two choices: confess to never having read Ulysses or toss the Hail Mary question: “Is that the one where he masturbates?” Neither choice has a happy ending. You go home alone, despondent. Food loses its taste, sex is mirthless, even an episode of Modern Family fails to elicit a chuckle. You’re not alone. Every year, millions of American’s suffer in silence for not having read the greatest novel of the 20th Century. But now there is hope. I’ve read Ulysses so you don’t have to. Your days of struggling through mile-long passages of impenetrable language and backbreaking bulk when all you really want to do is luxuriate in the grocery store prose stylings of James Patterson and Nora Roberts are over. Just follow these three simple “Ulylessons” and you will sound like a second-year Joyce Studies PhD candidate to friends, loved ones and pets (all of whom have probably also never read Ulysses). Ulylesson #1...

The Ryan Dixon Line: On the Exegesis of the Soul or: Why I Love Beef Stick...

a blogumn by Ryan Dixon INTRODUCTION TO THE 2010 EDITION Like that Christmas Eve story Grandpa always told that became longer and more convoluted as the years went on, the time has once again arrived for my ever-growing annual holiday column on Hickory Farms Beef Stick. I figure if George Lucas can give us approximately 18,281 Special Editions of Star Wars, there’s no reason why I can’t write an additional hundred words or so each year, expanding on the joys and sorrows experienced while eating the greatest of the great American foods. (Attention conspiracy theorists:  Just because I wrote about my McRib addiction a few weeks ago and am now delving itno a hagiography of Hickory Farms Beef Stick does not mean that I’m on the American Meat Institute’s payroll. Of course, if anyone from the American Meat Institute is reading this post, I would actually very much like to be on the payroll. Feel free to tweet me up at @ryanbdixon.) And so, dear readers, Fierce and Nerdy is proud to present: ON THE EXEGESIS OF THE SOUL OR: WHY I LOVE BEEF STICK: 2010 REVISED and EXPANDED EDITION with a SLIGHTLY NEW, or more accurately, NEWLY REVISED INTRODUCTION (Which You Just Read)   1: BEEF STICK, LORD OF THE MEMORY PALACE “May I try a free sample?” After speaking those six simple words, the ritual would always be the same: A smiling gray-haired clerk at a Hickory Farms Christmas stand in one of the many Western Pennsylvania malls I visited during my childhood would poke a toothpick into a delicately cut square of meat, hand it to me and the door to paradise would open… I love Hickory Farms Beef Stick. There is a popular dinner party question that goes something like...

FIERCE ANTICIPATION: December 3-5 [BOOK WEEK 2!]

Fierce Anticipation’s 1st Annual Macabre, Morbid, Miserly, and somewhat Murderous Christmas Reading List of 22 Books Selected at Random by Me, Ryan Dixon Need a gift for that not-so-special someone? Read on to discover the perfectly inappropraite book for every Christmas occasion after the gallery… For those who’d rather eat a reindeer than ride one: How to Cook a Reindeer by Laila Spik For those who’d rather eat a human than a ham: I Ate Billy on Christmas by Roman Dirge For those looking for a legitimate reason NOT to buy anyone presents: Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays by Joel Waldfogel For those who aren’t already bored enough by Prairie Hometown Companion: A Christmas Blizzard by Garrison Keillor For those looking for re-confirmation that Texas is the worst state in the Union (especially at Christmastime): Tinsel: A Search for America’s Christmas Present by Hank Stuever For those who are closeted, Christmas loving Jews: Sex, God, Christmas and the Jews by Gil Mann For those plotting a family member’s murder during the holiday: Murder for Christmas: 26 Tales of Yuletide Malice edited by Thomas Godfrey For those who ate too much bread pudding: The Bathroom Book of Christmas Trivia edited by Lisa Wojina For those getting a PhD in Christmas Studies: The Battle for Christmas by Stephen Nissenbaum For those getting a PhD in Christmas Studies with a focus on the semiotics of Santa Claus: Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men: The Origins and Evolution of Saint Nicholas Spanning 50,000 Years by Phyllis Siefker For those who like their Beef Stick organic and farm fresh: Stocking Stuffers: Homoerotic Christmas Tales edited by David Laurents For those who want some Gore(y) with their Christmas: The Twelve Terrors of Christmas by John...

FIERCE ANTICIPATION: OCT 22-24 – The Hell House of Ryan Dixon, PART III...

On the Origins of Hell House: The Awakening:  A Special Multi-Part Fierce Anticipation Event By Ryan Dixon Click Here for Part I Click Here for Part II The phone rang in my dorm room during the dawning hours of a frigid Monday morning in January 1999. Already awake and blearily trying to memorize the opening prologue of Shakespeare’s Henry V that I had to perform for my acting class in just a few hours, I answered it. On the Contrary’s Joe Rusin was on the other line. One of the charter members of our close-nit group of friends, Joe was two years younger than me and should have been getting ready for school. “Emily’s in the hospital,” he said. “She tried to kill herself.” After hanging up, I tossed the Shakespeare aside, put on my overcoat and stumbled through the thickening layer of snow accumulating on Carnegie Mellon’s campus, wondering… What should I do? My initial response was to call my parents and have them pick me up so I could visit Emily in the hospital. This is what a best friend would do. This is what an aspiring boyfriend would do. But was I either of those things anymore? I had gotten used to repressing my romantic longings for Emily. I satisfied myself with our strong friendship, but since that October night at Hell House, she and I had barely communicated. Our epically long IM sessions had gone the way of the dodo. Emails were returned, not within minutes or hours, but days. Calls were non-existent. In the month and a half between our Hell House adventure and Christmas break, I threw myself fully into school work and made an effort to bond with my classmates so I could avoid thinking about Emily....