Chris Claremont on X-Men: Days of Future Past and Kickstarting the Superhero Movie Trend

Chris Claremont (right) discusses the X-Men with a fan at Phoenix Comicon 2014.
Chris Claremont has a yen for spinning epic yarns, either in comic book form or when talking with fans. And both can be equally astounding. His contributions as a writer for Marvel Comics are the stuff of legend, specifically to the X-Men canon. And the tales he imparts in interviews and at conventions, like the recent Phoenix Comicon, are larger than life, dynamic, and filled with action, drama, and humor.

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Ally Glowacki on "Dog Days of Summer" at Night Gallery in Tempe

Courtesy of the artist
"The Face of God" by Ally Glowacki
Normally, when we hear that an artist makes pictures of dogs, we have to stop ourselves from scoffing. But painter Ally Glowacki, who recently graduated from ASU's MFA program, has us re-thinking our canine imagery prejudice. In her latest solo exhibition, "Dog Days of Summer", currently on view at Tempe's Night Gallery, Glowacki presents a series of dog portraits that convey an unexpected depth.

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Comedian Annabelle Gurwitch on Aging Not-So-Gracefully and Performing at The Most of Lit Lounge

Courtesy Annabelle Gurwitch
Annabelle Gurwitch on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" in April.

Comedian and author Annabelle Gurwitch has a habit of turning the negative into positive -- or, at the very least, a lucrative book deal. When Woody Allen fired her from the cast of his off-Broadway New York production, Writers Block, in 2003, she created Fired, a collection of essays about getting canned from Tim Allen, Felicity Huffman, and David Cross to name a few. When her 50th birthday was fast approaching, she penned I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50 a comedic call to action for the middle-aged that has made the New York Times bestseller list.

Her penchant for performing caught the attention of Tania Katan, the entertainer at the helm of SMoCA's Lit Lounge series and the second annual The Most of Lit Lounge event held on Thursday, June 26 at the Virginia G. Piper Theater at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

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Jenny Slate and Gillian Robespierre on Obvious Child

Gillian Robespierre and Jenny Slate's film Obvious Child rethinks the rom-com.

Yes, Obvious Child is a romantic comedy. And, yes, it includes an abortion.

But describing it as an "abortion rom-com" sells short what a thoughtful story director Gillian Robespierre has crafted.

Jenny Slate portrays 20-something stand-up comedian Donna Stern, who was "dumped up with" and recently lost her job as a bookstore clerk. At a bar after a rough stand-up set, she meets Max (Jake Lacy), a guy who's sweet but a bit straitlaced for her taste. Paul Simon's "Obvious Child" soundtracks their drunken one-night stand. Donna gets pregnant. And she decides to have an abortion.

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William Eubank on The Signal's Unexpected Anime Influences

Courtesy of Focus Features
Director and writer William Eubank's highly-stylized aesthetic is reason enough to see this flick.
In William Eubank's new sci-fi thriller The Signal, three friends are driving across the country when they have an online run-in with a creepy, enigmatic hacker named Nomad. When they chase after the hacker's IP address, they find something very unexpected. It's hard to talk about the film without giving too much of it away, which Eubank says made marketing the The Signal a little tricky.

He talked with Jackalope Ranch about the new film, which he called a labor of love from the entire cast and crew.

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Kumail Nanjiani Spent 14 Hours Filming Silicon Valley's Hand Job Joke

Categories: Comedy, Interviews

Courtesy of Stand Up Live.
Kumail Nanjiani (right) will be performing with his Silicon Valley co-stars at Stand Up Live.
If you saw the season finale of HBO's Silicon Valley, then you definitely know the joke we're talking about.

The Mike Judge show is about a group of friends and housemates struggling to launch a successful tech startup called Pied Piper without being squashed by a giant Google-like organization called Hooli. And the ridiculous, mathematically centered penis joke arrives as the five guys are sitting in a hotel room prepping for a tech conference presentation that could change their lives. It's crunch time, but instead of working on the task at hand they become consumed with developing an equation for how to give every member of the 400-person audience a hand job during their slotted 10-minute presentation time.

With that stellar ending to the show's first season, new shows in the works, and some hilarious new and old characters on Portlandia, the future is looking bright for comedian, writer, and actor Kumail Nanjiani, who will be performing in Phoenix this Friday with two of his Silicon Valley co-stars, T.J. Miller and Thomas Middleditch.

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Chelsea Peretti on Wolf Mode, Writing for Kroll Show, and Season Two of Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Categories: Comedy, Interviews

Luke Fontana
Chelsea Peretti's in Phoenix May 30.
Better get used to hearing the name Chelsea Peretti.

The comedian, writer, and actress is primed to blow up. Why? Well, to borrow a phrase from her comedy comrade Nick Kroll, first and first mostly, she's hilarious. Her work in the writer's room on shows including Parks and Recreation and The Sarah Silverman Program and as an actress on Kroll Show (where she's also a writer) and Brooklyn Nine-Nine demonstrate her love of pop culture satire and ability to deliver straight-faced, reality TV-inspired insanity.

Peretti is working on her first-ever one-hour comedy special, which she'll tape in San Francisco on June 13. Before stopping by Stand Up Live on Friday, May 30, as part of her American Treasure Tour, Peretti talked with Jackalope Ranch about her role as Gina on the Golden Globe-winning comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, her passion for the Kroll Show sketch Cake Train, and what we can expect from her upcoming one-hour special.

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Bill Carter Talks Copper and His Book, Boom, Boom, Bust

Categories: Books, Interviews

Courtesy of The Neo Com Group
Bill Carter

When Bill Carter was living in Bisbee, Arizona, he decided to plant a garden to grow his own veggies. When he got ill from eating the fruits of his labor, Carter did a little investigating and found traces of arsenic in the soil. The arsenic was residue from a century of copper mining in the small Arizona town, and after that discovery Carter decided to learn as much as he could about the metal. What he found was staggering, including how pervasive the metal is in everyday life, how much we don't know about what goes on in the mining industry, and how dangerous the potential effects of it are on the environment and our health.

Carter talked with Jackalope Ranch about how one goes about researching such a monumentally large topic such as copper and its mining, what he was most surprised to learn about, and why Congress refuses to touch the issue.

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Fortune Feimster on Her Tina Fey Show and How Cool Chelsea Handler Is

Categories: Comedy, Interviews

Fortune Feimster will perform at Tempe Improv Friday and Saturday, May 16 and 17.
Fortune Feimster is on the rise.

Despite her name, it's not just luck that's landed her at the forefront of up-and-coming comics in Hollywood. Just ask late night host Chelsea Handler, who snatched up the North Carolina comedian as a full-time writer and roundtable contributor for her hit E! Network show, Chelsea Lately; or maybe try longtime comedy giant, Tina Fey, who selected Feimster as a reoccurring character on her much anticipated Fox sitcom, Calbot College.

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Sharon Needles on RuPaul's Drag Race: "They Took Away Our Booze and Terrorized us"

Categories: Interviews

Sharon Needles is coming to Tempe.

The spooky, fashionable drag queen Sharon Needles has been busy since she won season four of RuPaul's Drag Race. She's kept up with her mantra of "when in doubt, freak them out," releasing a record full of catchy songs about Ouija boards and Halloween and recently starring as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in a live production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

But you don't need to pick up a Ouija board to contact Sharon Needles, she will perform live at Fetish Prom at Marquee Theatre on Saturday, May 24. And yes, expect lots of latex. Jackalope Ranch recently caught up with Sharon Needles to discuss her experience on RuPaul's Drag Race, what it's like touring with an ex, and the art of compromise.

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