Friday, February 29, 2008

A Grind-My-Gears Friday

You know who really grinds my gears? Green Lantern, with his Beavis-shaped mouth and nasty sunburns and stupid rhyming song about lanterns. And I'm not the only one:

You tell him, Bats, you honey-dipped hero!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Take the Stock Aitken Waterman Challenge.

Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman are a British songwriting trio who, during the mid-1980s, produced somewhere between 'close to all' and 'all' of the tracks that promised to never give you up. And if you can sit through this 10 minute megamix compilation of some of their hits, you are a liar because even I cannot sit through it. But try to make it to at least 1:13.

So, did you make it? If so, congratulations, you have just been Rick Rolled. Take it in stride, though, it's just one of those days. Personally, I got Rick Rolled by the easy listening station driving this afternoon, and then again after viewing this image. That's life.

In fact, the only place you are guaranteed never to be Rick Rolled is the Hump Day event at Urban Table, every Wednesday night from 10 pm to past my bedtime.

(To be honest, I don't really mind getting Rick Rolled, that song is tits)

Buy the Stock Aitken & Waterman DVD

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

quarterlife + garfield

The big thing in Garfield-related news this week is "garfield minus garfield," wherein Garfield is removed from every strip, which makes Jon look, you know crazy. My preference, though, is for removing only Garfield's thought balloons, which is easier to do at home with the morning paper. I encourage you to compare the two methods and see which is right for you.

Jon seems crazy either way, but is that really fair to that character? If Garfield's absence/silence is going to effect anyone, it should be characters who are already crazy. Characters like the cast of quarterlife, the hit new show about a depressing female writer who keeps a vlog about all her twentysomething friends and the adventures that their genitals have with each other.

Those shallow bastards! I just want to tune in every Sunday at whenever to see what self-absorbed things they do next! And also to see if anyone else throws the word "tumescent" right in Maite Schwartz's face!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Good/Nutty Dance Tunes

One thing I repeatedly do and never learn from is mistakenly assume that the film version of a cartoon I like will be at least on par with the animated version. I made that mistake with Transformers, I made it with Aeon Flux, I definitely made it with Garfield, and I will make it again with My Little Pony. I would say I'll also make it with Speed Racer, but we all know that's going to be awesome so fair play.

But about the others (the mistakes). "How bad could it possibly be?" I ask myself. "They spent several millions of dollars with the express purpose of entertaining me. I ask you [me], how bad can it be?"

In the case of Alvin and the Chipmunks, about the worst possible level of bad, that level right in the middle where quality is naught but absurdity is also naught. But when I told people that after seeing the film, they acted as if that was a foregone conclusion. "How foregone could it possibly be?" I asked myself. "They already made The Chipmunk Adventure, which was great, and that's probably not just the nostalgia talking."

It's not, either, unless we are talking about nostalgia for good/nutty dance tunes, in which case, MAYBE YES! "The Girls of Rock and Roll," especially, but what else would you expect from the composers of "Physical." Personally I wouldn't expect much more.

And why would I queue up Kylie Minogue's "Got to be Certain" after TGORAR? Surely there's some justified connection there...

That's good enough for me! And the Kim Sozzi track, well, I think we can all agree that it was probably the best Good/Nutty Dance Tune of the last five years.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Charest and Sim

Travis Charest and Dave Sim are both comic book artists, but besides the fact that they are both from Canada, their careers in the industry have very little in common.

This is a piece of X-Men art done by Travis Charest with a ball point pen (!) in 1991 while he was working at a plumbing supply store. There's some minor things to gripe about here, but the guy is already good, and you can tell he's going to be great.

And here is some X-Men art by Charest done some 14 years (give or take) later, an acrylic painting (I'm guessing). The improvement is staggering. Charest was always a talent, but pieces like this are why he's my favorite artist. Unfortunately, Charest takes quite a while to produce the painted sequential work he does for comics. In 2007, he was kicked off his last major assignment, a Dreamshifters graphic novel for Humanoids Publishing, after he finished only 30 pages in six years. Even before that, when he was doing only line-work that other artists would ink and color, Charest never had tremendous output. After four issues of Darkstars, around a dozen WildC.A.T.s comics and specials, and some short stories for Marvel, I estimate his total sequential output since 1992 has been somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 pages, and that's a generous overestimation.

By contrast, there is Dave Sim. Between 1977 and 2004, Sim wrote and drew (along with background artist Gerhard) 6,000 pages of his self-published comic Cerebus. Here is an early page of his work, from 1973:

Not so hot, and hardly the work of an artistic prodigy. But after more than three decades and 6,000+ pages, here's what Sim's art has evolved into:

This is a page from Sim's forthcoming project, Glamourpuss, a spoof of fashion magazines as well as a critical examination of the photorealistic style of art to which Sim adheres. Here's a video that shows his process for creating each page:

Sim has been actively promoting Glamourpuss online for the last month, and much of the conversation on various message boards has been about the merits of the photorealistic style versus iconic simplification (think Peanuts). Sim knows where he stands on the pecking order of artistic achievement, too.

Yes, it's one of those molar-grinding qualities of the Neal Adamses and the Alex Rosses of this world: the rock-solid knowledge that if THEY decide to do what YOU'RE doing they're instantly going to be better at it than you are.

If Alex Ross sits down tomorrow and says, "Hmm a fashion magazine parody drawn in Alex Raymond's various RIP KIRBY styles. Hmm. I haven't done any black-and-white stuff for the most part, let's see what that's like" his version will BURY mine six ways to Sunday.

That's part of the realism mountain. If you're in the game you have a pretty good idea of where you are (Way Way Down Here in my case). You put your blinders on and "run your own race" (as Danny Thomas reportedly counselled his daughter Marlo). I want to make it up to the next base camp and that's all I'm focused on. (From Dave's Responses to the Comics Journal Part 1)

It's a good point, but Sim really doesn't have anything to worry about. For me, I would love a bimonthly comic about fashion (or X-Men, or anything really) drawn by Charest, but it's not going to happen. While Ross, and Adams, in particular, have done a bit more than 500 pages in their careers, they suffer from the same problem that Charest does. Their level of output simply doesn't match their level of talent. But the lesson any artist can learn from Sim is that if you keep going, eventually, your talent will match your output.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Zen and the Art of Understanding Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee was on "Saturday Night Live" last night, proving beyond any shadow of a doubt that the man does not have a sense of humor, but for some reason he needs everyone to think that he does. The act of appearing, as a means of campaign promotion, in a sketch about how you are unable to win the Republican nomination yet will not drop out of the race is...something, but funny is not it. Neither is it ironic, satirical, or a parody of current events. It is what it is, that kind of tunnel-vision bland truth that has no effect on you for looking at it. It is a neutral event, with no external bearing or significance, a null act save for personal vanity. I reel every time I consider the punchline to Huckabee's segment, that he has overstayed his welcome on the show itself. We are talking complete symbolic stasis lock, a black hole that meaning cannot escape.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Movie Equivalent of Lettering

Looks like sound mixer Kevin O'Connell, along with Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin, is up for an Oscar for his work on Transformers. This marks O'Connell's 20th nomination, although he has yet to take home a statue. Something tells me this is his year, though. And that something is the noise that Transformers make when they transform.

This noise is, technically, an 8hz pulse repeated five times, with a pitch that can be represented as the absolute value of a sine wave, and the onomatopoeia of which is best written as "Chonk-Chonk-Chonk-Chonk-Chonk." And simply put, using it in a feature film is the most important thing a sound mixer can do to ensure winning the Academy Award for sound mixing. Except in 1986, when that plan didn't work for The Transformers: The Movie.

It should work this time, though.

Sound mixing is the type of production work that an audience will generally not notice unless something is wrong with it. For instance, during one of the four screenings of Transformers that I attended last July during opening week, the audio for the film was "hot," a word that David told me at the time means "entirely too loud." I agreed, and went on to suffer what I was sure was permanent hearing loss for the next few days. And though the hot sound certainly wasn't O'Connell's fault, I mention it because it made me focus on how good the sound mixing was the next time I saw the film.

Another quick way to get sound mixing noticed, and without having to screw anything up, is to set up some unique audio cues in places where the audience thinks they know what they are going to hear. Transformers does this immediately by mixing in some robosounds over the Dreamworks and Paramount logos. It was also a good idea to follow that up with some Peter Cullen narration, because the post-production work done to create that resonant Optimus voice is also a great way to ensure winning the Academy Award for sound mixing. Again, except in 1986.

Right now, O'Connell's next gig is a movie called Space Chimps, but the forthcoming Oscar win is sure to allow him cherry carte pick of the litter blanche for any future jobs. So it seems likely that he'll end up mixing sound for Dazzler: The Movie.

You'll notice in the above picture that I did not "sass up" the lettering in these panels. This is because I do not own the "Monologous" font, which is the font based off of Tom Orzechowski's handwritten lettering, of Uncanny X-Men and Spawn fame, and I just couldn't take the inconsistency between it and the "Web Letterer" font. This is an important distinction to make, as lettering is often referred to by me as the comic book equivalent of sound mixing, and I'm in a very professional mood about such things today.

So, anyway, in panel 2, first caption, that should read, "So she sings!"

Then, in panel 3, first caption, it should read, "...and also their wieners."

Man, if I had that font, it would be game over for melodrama in my back issues of X-Men.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Fairly Derivative Moments in Advertising.

It would be hard to deny the success of the Chick-Fil-A franchise of restaurants, so don't do it. Using a five-point plan for success that includes Christianity, cows as mascots, chicken as food, coupons as coupons, and religion, Chick-Fil-A is nothing short of a company on the grow. But even more important to the company's success than any of those five points is ADVERTISING. Yes, advertising, that mysterious dark art that decides your consuming decisions for you, has long been the (not so) secret sixth point in Chick-Fil-A's five-point plan, and clearly the most important part of the company's advertising has been its ingenious slogan: "We didn't invent the chicken, just the chicken sandwich."

That is the kind of slogan that brings it, and has other companies, many not even in the business of making sandwiches, asking, "Why not me?" And with pressure on them from clients asking nonsensical questions, it isn't surprising that the rest of the advertising world has begun to utilize similar slogans for a wide variety of consumer products, all of which are not were not sandwiches.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


A comic book store with too many comics may sound like an oxymoron, but when the supply for back issues of titles like Psi-Lords: Reign of the Starwatchers and Bloodfire far exceeds the demand, the discount box is where they end up. Comics with cover prices of $2.95 or more can be marked half-off, $1, or find their way to the most common of discount bins, the Quarter Box. Where but there could a savvy reader finally fill in the holes in their collection of Avengelyne without any remorse for actually buying the "Avengelyne/Glory Swimsuit Special"? Well, $.25 would still probably be too much for that, but there is a box where it does belong!

In 1998, at the first comic book store I worked at, we had a box for comics labeled TP, and that doesn't stand for Trade Paperback. Yes, it was a box of comics to be used as toilet paper, a policy approved by management. And by "approved by management" I mean it was a policy implemented by me one time when there was no actual toilet paper in the store bathroom, an event that amounted to what you might call a one-day fire sale on what was in fact just the regular Quarter Box. I do not remember the specific issue used, but I know it was something from Valiant. Probably Armorines.

It is conceivable, then, that sometimes even a quarter is too much to pay for a comic. This was true in 1967, and it is still true today. But that fact hasn't stopped John Dolmayan, the drummer for System of a Down, from opening his own comic store, where you can now purchase "millions of comics for 99 cents," including complete runs of titles that I would wipe my ass with, but only if there were no other options.

And while $.99 is about $.99-and-no-toilet-paper too much to pay for the vast majority of the comics available on the site, there are good deals to be found at Torpedo Comics. The very first item on the site's front page is Drew Struzan: Oeuvre, listed at $20, which compares pretty favorably to used copies on Amazon listed at $250. Also, it's hard to fault any guy whose drum set looks like this:

When Art Adams, Tim Bradstreet, Jim Lee and Ale Garza, among others, have made your mounted toms a work of art, it's easy to give some leeway on how deeply you discount the comics you sell online. Besides, no one ever said musicians were born to retail.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Snikt News W5

Some interesting developments in the casting of Wolverine happened yesterday. Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, some other guy (Taylor Kitsch) as Gambit, and this woman (Lynn Collins) as Silver Fox? Seriously, it's like the casting people read my mind, but then, instead of considering all the remarkable afternoons of ping-pong that I WAS thinking about, they decided to just do some casting instead!

PREVIOUSLY: Nick dreams about ping-pong.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Take the Jumper Challenge

Every 1990-1999, the American Library Association compiles a list of the "100 Most Frequently Challenged Books." At first I thought the list was "challenging" me to read them using the type of subversive bookist propaganda I've come to expect from libraries, but apparently that's not the case. Instead, parents who won't let their children watch Ren & Stimpy or grow up to be cowboys "challenge" libraries to ban these books before girls figure out what's happening to their bodies (35) or Waldo can be found (87). Philosophically, one could ask if Waldo can be found if there is no one around to read Where's Waldo, but girls are still going to go through puberty whether or not you let them read a book about it.

Coming in at 92 on the list is Steven Gould's Jumper, the poignant story of a kangaroo rat that can talk to humans and fears only the destruction of his natural habitat through the reckless use of dirt bikes. No, wait, that book is I Am Leaper, and it is too dumb to be challenged. Although, to be fair, that didn't stop Goosebumps (ALL OF THEM) from making the list at 15.

Jumper, then, is about this kid who can teleport, and that's about all I can say for sure because I never read it. I did, however, see the film, and it is challenged (that time I meant challenged like a retard). In fact, I would be comfortable placing Jumper on my list of "100 Most Challenged (retarded) Movies, 1995-2008" along such stalwarts as the 1998 version of Godzilla (02) and Semi-Pro (79), which has not come out yet, but really, c'mon.

Some of the specific criticisms leveled at Jumper are centered around the accusation that the film is just an adolescent power fantasy, but that shouldn't be a criticism; that's the best damn part. I wanted 90 minutes of a power fantasy, not 12 minutes of power fantasy and 78 minutes of other people whining about that power. If I had wanted whining, I would have gone to a movie starring Rachel Bilson, which brings me to my next point: it turns out Rachel Bilson is in Jumper and she whines a lot.

Also whining? Samuel L. Jackson, but some might argue that if you whine while beating on people or simply by merit of being Samuel L. Jackson, it's not actually whining (It is though).

Amazingly, in a movie starring Hayden Christensen, Hayden Christensen does the least amount of whining, although he does more than his fair share of glowering. It takes all kinds.

Also, I'm a big whiner, but here are some things about Jumper that make me want to give up whining forever:
  • jump scars
  • electric beat sticks
  • marvel team-up
  • sweet jackets
  • saying "anywhere is possible" at anytime possible
  • maybe they can just do a jumper tv series next and that won't suck
So, what have we learned today? Well, I learned that my personal threshold for using the word 'challenge' before it loses all meaning is three repetitions, but that's by no means universal.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Footwear Problems

It's not that I'm super particular about shoes or anything like that, but seriously crocs are the worst and should evolve sometime. Also the comfort they provide is not worth all the actual crocodiles who might see your feet and LAZER! LAZER! them.

Also, those sandals in particular but really also the whole ensemble make She-Hulk look like some fashionable friend of someone's mom and also she too is a mom (but she's trying to play it like she is not). Guess what, I know you're a mom. And the way she dangles the sandals, look at her, she thinks she invented sandals. Guess what, She-Hulk, you didn't invent sandals! (To be honest I stole that last one from Weekend Update but that's okay because new SNL this week boy I'm excited).

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dazzler Fever hits San Diego

I didn't go to San Diego this weekend, but Ryan did, and it probably was a lot like this:

I mean how else could it have gone?

Evanmania is running wild.

The season finale of "American Gladiators" is on tonight, and Evan Dollard, Hollister employee and rock-climbing enthusiast, is going to win. How could he lose, when the entire competition is based on who gets the fastest Eliminator time? Evan could sit out every event and STILL clock in at under two minutes on that thing. The guy's energy level is through the roof, which makes it hard to believe it when he says things like his favorite hangout in home town Chicago is, "The Map Room, because it's a real chill place." Really? I absolutely will not buy that for a dollar. I suspect a little creative editing on Evan's original words, which must have been closer to, "The Kratom Room, because I love kratom."

What I'm saying is that his energy level, it is up there. But that wouldn't be enough to win. Actually, yes it would. But still, another thing that Evan does right is approach every event with humility, talking up Gladiators like Titan with lines like, "This guy is chiseled out of granite. I have my work cut out for me, but I'm going to give it everything I've got."

That's pretty close to what I would say in his situation: "These guys are the pinnacle of human physical achievement. Frankly, Hulk, I just don't think I'm going to be able to win." (Then I would win)

Most Least importantly, Evan is harboring a crush on Crush (Gina Carano), which won't help him win...unless he gets his wish for a co-ed Gladiator tournament. "I would gladly get a foot in the face if I got to wrestle her on that Earthquake platform." That's one way to do it, but he might also consider just hooking her up with the manager's discount on the new Cabrillo Beach shorts and Bolsa Chica tank top. Perfect for Spring Break!

American Gladiators

Saturday, February 16, 2008

First Law Of Melrose Place

I go to a university with a hefty greek population, so I tend to see a lot of backs of t-shirts that are rough approximations of ideas for parties: toga casino 80's night, or white trash pimp luau mother's day, for example. Remember the importance of themes for parties?

Well, the more alcohol that girls drink, the more likely everyone is to experience the First Law Of Melrose Place, or FLOMP, which states "If two characters meet each other, at some point they will have sex."

Which is a fine law for the people who live at 4616 Melrose Pl., but people in the real world need a little help. Such help is self-evident and covered by the FLOMP real world corollary: "Every three alcoholic drinks consumed by a woman increases the potential to experience FLOMP by 400%. For guys, the same alcoholic intake can result in a 37% increase up to 12 drinks, at which point FLOMP likelihood decreases by 14.5% for every drink following."

It's all very scientific, and it makes clear the need for themes for parties. My favorite theme is going camping, for one simple reason, and that is that the same pun is used for every greek t-shirt about a camping event.

"Camping: It's in TENTS!" Awesome. But even better, rather than continuing to use that pun AS INTENDED, I have reverse-engineered it to apply to watching reruns of primetime soaps, an activity I have to do because I made a promise to myself and also because Josie Bissett.

But that's not the point. The point is, the following are actual plotlines from "Melrose Place":
  • A doctor's wife is emotionally distant because of an illness that will kill her in three months, so she hires a prostitute to seduce him so that his sexual needs will continue to be met, only for the doctor to leave his wife and marry the prostitute.
  • Kathy Ireland is hired by the estranged father of Heather Locklear to seduce a rebel without a cause because that rebel turned state's evidence against the father for shady business dealings, only to have Ireland double-cross and shoot the father before blowing up the rebel's boat after he refuses to go with her to Mexico (but also after sex).
  • A professional photographer who was pregnant with the baby of a high-school crush turned drug dealer who she had to shoot and kill in self-defense has the baby kidnapped by a nanny hired by the father's parents, only for the photographer to be shot in the back by the child's grandfather after she tries to reclaim her baby (eventually the baby is given to foster parents who do not live on Melrose Place).
What else can even be said about a show that is so IN TENTS it forces you to yell: "It's camping!"

Friday, February 15, 2008

This time I went to Brosh's ranch

I read somewhere (maybe here?) that girls drink more at theme parties, so the theme for this party was trading hats. Some researchers would also have you believe that girls not only drink more at theme parties, they drink more than guys at theme parties, but that's not true. Girls never drink more than guys, especially if it is a competition. And guys, like graduate students, view everything as a competition.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Got me hooked

Tanner's got this Wednesday night gig now, so I went in and wrecked the decks. Those tiny, tiny decks.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Do the Dazzler!

When I grow up, I want to be the DJ for a mutant who turns sound into light and energy beams. I'll play the hottest new House records from Britaly while she fights plants on-stage and refers to herself in the third person.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Today, we are going on a coolhunt. And as we all know:
The key to coolhunting is to look for cool people first and cool things later, and not the other way around. Since cool things are always changing, you can't look for them, because the very fact they are cool means you have no idea what to look for. Cool people, on the other hand, are a constant.
Cool people like T.J. Lavin.

So that means guns are cool. At least for today. All eyes on T.J. to see what cool things tomorrow brings. Could be a Zune, could be a Walther P38.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lyin' Rhino

Here is a clip from The Tenthat will let you know if it is for you:

That IS a great plan for an orgy:
  • Go to town.
  • Fuck everyone.
  • Get out.
If that wasn't enough info, "The Ten" is a movie where Paul Rudd is asked to make out with Jessica Alba, and he does. Then she wants a pony. Which is all well and good, but that is ACTING. I have to say that it would be cooler to be actually dating the hot lady-type you're working with:

See, they're not making out in that clip, but you can tell that they probably will later. Stars are just like us!

And about the end of the WGA strike: the only reason I'm glad it's over is because now How I Met Your Mother will come back, and the only reason I was glad it happened is because otherwise I'm sure Carpoolers would have been canceled. Maybe. How would I know for sure? I'm not a damn futurist. Iron Man is the damn futurist.

Man I can't wait to get an interface like that!