Cracked: ‘Frozen’ Fan Theory: Hans Is a Pawn

I had never heard of Frozen  the night I went to see it, appropriately, in a blizzard. I just wanted to try a new ramen restaurant with my lady, and we didn’t want the evening to end. So: tip — you can give Jin Ramen in Harlem a miss; it’s pedestrian. Go to Ippudo or Totto instead. If you’re that far uptown, hit up Tampopo. But as long as you’re in the neighborhood, do visit the AMC Magic Johnson Theater, which is everything a neighborhood movie theater should be.

Anyway, I enjoyed the movie very much; it’s a funny film that overturns tropes like Prince Charming, Love at First Sight, and the Wicked Queen. It ended the only way it really ought to have.

Two things stuck weird with me, though: first, it feels way more like a Broadway musical than a Disney musical. Second, Hans’s reversal comes out of nowhere. It’s kind of a neat trick, and I don’t think it requires foreshadowing, but it’s so contrary to everything he does, that it klunked with me. It’s one thing to play wholesome while crawling towards your sinister goals. It’s another to thwart those goals throughout your journey. Hans is sending mutton stew back to the kitchen and protesting “No thank you, I don’t eat that because as you can plainly see by my clothing, I am a sheep.”

Anyway, that was about that till my buddy Steve told me he had pitched a fan theory to Cracked that Hans was never the true culprit of Frozen. It having recently been approved, he invited to write it with him. I heartily accepted, as that point had stuck out at me so sorely. Also, I don’t think we as a popular culture are talking enough about the fact that Elsa has the power to create sentient life. That’s a really disturbing power for a hero to have.

I gleefully accepted, but didn’t have much to add to his very well-structured points. I noticed a few details, added some one-liners, cut and condensed, and a few rounds of collaboration and a week later we had a complete story. This was a fun one.

This way down the rabbit hole.

Whiskey in Space!

Over at Thrillist I crafted you three new articles

First, with the lovely Zofia Maria of Otto’s Shrunken Head, we devised Jose Cuervo cocktails unlike any you’ve had before (and by we, I mean 100% she did. I just nodded approvingly).

Second, I crafted you a perfect first day in five U.S. cities, which is mostly eating. So much eating.

And third and most intriguingly, I looked up all the weird stuff that distillers do to whiskey, including playing hip-hop to get that whiskey’s legs stomping. It’s illustrated by Dan Evans, who is rad.

New Thrillist: Bourbon, beer, and big-time party

Hello, did you know I’ve taken an editorial job at Thrillist? Of course you did not, because you’re not a creeper. Well, now you know. Dig it, here are a few of my latest scrawls when not editing other writers’ work:

La Hora Loca Is, By Definition, the Craziest Hour at Any Party

The 11 Best Small-Batch Bourbons, According to Experts

Is Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp the Biggest Beer Festival in History? (Nick Leftley wrote most of this; I just ran down the beer descriptions.)

Booze and food and fun! I have the best beat. Except for whomever is covering the “Chocolate, Lingerie, and Stirring Orchestral Music” stories over at Billionaire Monthly.



Super Delegates, as Explained by Andrew J. Heaton

My buddy Heaton is a smart guy and also a funny guy, and when you put the two together, you get savvy explanations of the political process. I like Andrew because we can disagree on a number of political points and then he can explain in very real terms why he’s right and I’m wrong, which you just don’t get in most of the discourse today, which is gut-based and therefore tied to word vomit.

Anyway, here he is comically explaining what a super delegate is and whether the fix is in (it is!) to great effect even though he hates Bernie Sanders like some kind of socialist-hating communist.

If you don’t lose it at “Actually we’re going to play soccer,” I am disappointed in you.

Porn Stars Galore: The Unaired Man Cast Weekly Episodes

My last full day at CBS was spent editing our final three podcasts, which, to my knowledge, never aired. They featured four porn stars (only two of whom beat the living hell out of me with a beer flight paddle) and two very funny comedians. All three were a lot of fun to record (except for the part where I got hit). I’m especially grateful to Sean Donnelly for being so flexible when about half of everything that could go wrong did. Go laugh at his album, Manual Labor Face. He’s a hilarious human person.

I have copies of the edits but until I’m sure it’s okay with CBS to air them…enjoy these summaries.

Record date: 2015-12-08
Title: Would You Drink Breast Milk?
Summary: The boys sip eggnog and bourbon with porn star Jayden Lee who has some unusual questions for them…
Tags: Jayden Lee, Paul Schissler, sex, manly, manliness, men’s interest, beer, liquor, booze
Hosts: Brendan McGinley & Paul Schissler
“What’s your drug of choice? Don’t say love.” —MCD
“I went on a date and the guy wore Crocs.” —you have to impress Jayden
“It makes them want to go wild,” —Jayden on why you shouldn’t restrict kids too much
“Hey babe, you’re like a cow, and I love that about you.” —Paul
“I hope we’re freaks, man.” —Paul wants to get wild in marriage
“Now I’m scared that cats have human faces.” —MCD gets trippy
“You were born an old man.” —Paul


Record date: 2015-11-19
Title: Memoirs of a White Castle Romance
Summary: Comedian Sean Donnelly talks astrophysics & porn star Layton Benton plans to open the most profitable bar ever. Creeps need not enter.
Tags: Sean Donnelly, Layton Benton, comedy, stand-up, porn, sex, manly, manliness, men’s interest, beer, liquor, booze
Host: Brendan McGinley
Drinks: Sam Adams, Skyy cranberry
“Doesn’t the whipped cream get stinky under stage lights?” —MCD
“Is that your way of flirting? It’s cute.” —Layton
“I would love to do some animation voiceovers.” —Layton
“I love bad boys. I can’t stop. But sometimes I like nerds.” —Layton


Record date: 2015-11-16
Title: Swing for the Bleachers
Summary: Porn stars Nikki Benz & Alexis Texas hogtie and beat us after winning a staring contest, and explain what a belfie is. Wow, this episode is explicit even for us.
Tags: Nikki Benz, Alexis Texas, porn, spanking, sex, manly, manliness, men’s interest, beer, liquor, booze
Host: Brendan McGinley
Drinks: Skyy Cranberry vodka
“Why should we contain ourselves because other people don’t know how to act?” —Nikki
“As long as it’s taboo, people are always going to sexualize it.” —Alexis
“Being good is never good. Being bad is so much better.” —Nikki
“You just want to kill me. This is essentially a kidnapping.” — MCD
“The true psychological issues are coming out tonight.” —Nikki
“I like to scare people—well, mostly men.” —Nikki
“It’s the best job ever! But it’s still work.” — Alexis on porn
“I’ve discovered new horizons within myself that I’ll run screaming from the rest of my life.” —MCD
“I cry every 2.5 years.” –MCD

New Thrillist Piece: The Best Free* Viewing on Amazon Prime

Hey, look! New article by me at Thrillist: The Best Shows & Movies to Stream on Amazon Prime, in which I run down the broadcasts most worthy of your time, both native and immigrant to the streaming service. Is Veronica Mars on there? You’d better believe Veronica Mars is on there. And also some neat stuff you’ve probably never heard of.

Moment of honesty: I don’t have Amazon Prime, so I had to go by critical reviews on a lot of their original programming. But now I really, really want to see Mad Dogs.


*Assuming you paid for Amazon Prime

**Why’s that article say I do? I dunno! Why does the BBQ book solicit copy say I’ve “long been a darling of the NY BBQ scene” before such a thing even existed and has ever done so without me? Life is strange.

Sprechen Sie Deutsch? — Indelible, Inc. #3: “Taken Photos” p.16

So there’s a sad story behind this one. I conceived of Lit all of a sitting one day at a bar near Washington Square Park called Pinch. At the time it seemed kind of weird to have all these people discovering the conspiracy at once, so I wanted to flip it from the other side, include a supervillain, somebody who was aware of what was happening behind the scenes for some time.

It’s very rare to sit down and have a fully loaded character all at once, but that was Lit. I knew he was a stranger in a strange land, though how he came to be German I can’t remember. I think I just wanted to base a character on actor Til Schweiger, but again, why that is the case, I couldn’t say. I had seen SLC Punk! a year or two prior, and I think this would have been around 2005.  I was dating a gal up in Washington Heights and the poster for Driven was up in that subway station forever, locked behind a grate to some sealed-off corner of 181st st.

I kicked around the idea of a vampire for a second because I wanted a character who quite literally as well as symbolically couldn’t go into the light. But it seemed like a bad idea. What quickly came to me as a very good fit, though, was that with this storyline’s journalism theme, having somebody with photographic powers, stuck in proof mode. Exposure to direct sunlight could dissolve him, though Kaos has managed to stabilize him somewhat for Fox’s purposes. Fits the theme, gives him the name Lit, itself an anagram of Til, hey…lucky coincidence. And the powers fit the theme and then-title of the book, about the many ways of remaining invisible. The dominoes fall in place. Including the only-glimpsed-till-this-issue Domino Bones, who has quite a history himself.

So here’s a guy, alone among thieves and murderers, not fully included in what’s going on, but able to see enough. And he gets free about the same time that Vera and Ben have their own encounters with The Tumor. Except he’s not free at all. He’s too powerful for someone not to put their foot on his neck. It all came rushing out of my pen and onto the notebook.

I always knew Kaos would be part of Fox’s team. He isn’t just German because of some mad scientist trope (although that played well into what happens a few pages from now) but because of who he really is. Anyway, I knew these two would probably recognize each other and have a private conversation…maybe give Lit a bit of solace that he’s not actually alone. He has a friend who can help him.

For the translations I turned to my friend and collaborator Jens Altmann, whose story Scoop, I drew (badly) my senior year of college. Life wasn’t so great for me that second semester, and with my educational career all but completed, I threw a lot of myself at those pages. Jens was, like a lot of comics writers, frustrated by the industry bottleneck (webcomics were barely a thing but distribution was collapsing), by artists’ inability to deliver, by all the stories blazing in his mind that weren’t in paper yet. He railed against these things in one of Warren Ellis’s forums, probably the original WEF, since it was 2002. I offered to draw his comic before he apoplected himself into a heart attack. It was a good story, we had fun, and despite my lack of ability, he was satisfied with the work. We stayed in touch.

Jens derived a lot of his income from translations, but I know money was very ebb and flow for him. Yet for me he said no more payment was necessary than a Robert Howard novel that had been on his Amazon wishlist for some time. Easily done. He was good to his friends that way. He once emailed me the subject: “Artist Musings” and the body:

Hi, Brendan.

Just a thought about artists: in all the comics projects I attempted, you were the only one who drew my stuff who didn’t let me down.

And no, I’m not depressive right now. Just musing (and irritated at another artist).

I’m currently getting into Buddhism as a way to conquer my “destructive emotions” as they call it. They have 2500 years of experience in that regard. The idea came because the Dalai Lama is going to speak in Hamburg next year, and we decided to go. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (especially considering his age). From that, we discovered that the local temple is only a few minutes’ bicycle ride away. And they happened to have an open-door-day that weekend. And they start a (free, donations are welcome) meditation class today.

Almost too much for coincidence. 🙂


Best, Jens

Ultimately some bad kicks from life and those destructive emotions tag-teamed him. I guess this will be Jens’s last printed work. I miss our transatlantic tirades. He was mercurial, but he loved the things that impassioned him with all of his being. We should all have that kind of enthusiasm for our creations and inspirations.

Here’s the start of his contributions to the book. The printed version of this issue will be dedicated to him.