DID YOU READ

John Carter 101: A Primer on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Warlord of Mars

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John Carter” leaps into theaters this week, and his arrival will likely be many moviegoers’ first introduction to the Civil War soldier who became the red planet’s greatest hero.

First appearing in a 1912 pulp magazine, John Carter is the creation of author Edgar Rice Burroughs, who also gave the world the vine-swinging king of the jungle, Tarzan. Now, 100 years later, Walt Disney Pictures is hoping to create a new generation of John Carter fans with this weekend’s big-screen adventure featuring Taylor Kitsch as the title character.

Still, if you’re not familiar with Burroughs’ series, there’s no need to worry. Not only does the film do a great job of introducing the character, but we’ve got you covered with a short overview of the series, its characters, and the worlds they inhabit.

Read on for everything you need to know about “John Carter” before you buy your ticket.

The Books

The character of John Carter made his debut in a serialized story published in the pulp magazine The All-Story and titled “Under the Moons of Mars.” This story was later collected in what would become the first of 11 novels, A Princess of Mars.

Collectively known as the “Barsoom series” (the name given to the planet by Mars’ native inhabitants), Burroughs’ stories encompass several generations of characters, including John Carter, his children, and various other Martian and Earth-born characters. The final book in the series, John Carter of Mars: Skeleton Men of Jupiter was published in 1943.

John Carter’s first adventure in the series – and the inspiration for the “John Carter” movie – is set during the year 1866, and is written as if Burroughs’ received a first-hand account of the story from Carter himself. Burroughs is a recurring character in the series, as he often finds himself charged with watching over Carter’s inanimate body each time the adventurer’s consciousness is summoned to Mars.

The Premise

Throughout the series, whenever John Carter travels to Mars, he leaves behind a physical body on Earth that appears lifeless – necessitating that someone like Burroughs keep watch over it until he returns. The mysterious mode of transport reconstitutes his form on Mars, but due to the planet’s gravity and atmosphere, he’s able to leap great distances and has strength far beyond that of the planet’s native inhabitants.

From the very first installment of the series, John becomes embroiled in a civil war on Barsoom that’s not unlike America’s own Civil War. The various races of Mars are constantly battling for the planet’s limited resources, and John’s experience in battle – combined with his powerful abilities – help him become one of the planet’s greatest warriors.

The Characters

There are a number of different species of Martians represented in the Barsoom series, though the first volume – and the film – introduce the two primary inhabitants of Mars: Red Martians and Green Martians.

The Red Martians look like humans and are the dominant race on Barsoom. They live in cities and use an advanced form of technology that allows them to live in huge cities on the surface of the planet. Competition for the planet’s resources has pushed many of the cities to fight a constant war for control of valuable territory.

The Green Martians are distinctly less humanoid, with four arms and tall bodies that tower over humans and Red Martians alike. They’re a primitive, savage culture governed by tribal leaders who rule by force. They have no concept of family or love, and live to fight with rival tribes and the rest of the planet’s inhabitants.

Among the other Martian races appearing in the early stories and the film are the white apes (seen above) – immense beasts that resemble Earth’s gorillas, but have four arms. The film also features a mysterious race of powerful, shape-shifters called the Therns who are attempting to secretly influence events on the planet.

The Cast and Crew

Along with Kitsch as John Carter, Lynn Collins plays Dejah Thoris, a Red Martian and princess of one of the great cities of Mars. Willem Dafoe voices Tars Tarkas, a Green Martian who becomes Carter’s ally, and Mark Strong plays Matai Shang, one of the Thern.

“John Carter” is directed by “Finding Nemo” and “Wall-E” filmmaker Andrew Stanton, who is making his live-action directorial debut with the film.

And there you have it, folks – a brief guide that takes you from Earth to Mars, courtesy of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ imagination and Disney’s upcoming film “John Carter.” The movie hits theaters this Friday, March 9.

Are you looking forward to seeing “John Carter” in theaters? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
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Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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