Monday, August 31, 2009

Agents of the World

Lisa Mynx found this vile, evil product our cephalopod enemies are attempting to distribute all over terrestrial Earth. They understand with the holiday season coming up that there will be billions of dollars of expendable income just waiting for them to step up with this deceptively clever invention to sell. Knowing that all humans and domesticated kitties love a cool scratch or scrich like we say around here. You look around for something to scratch with and there it is. That silly gift your kid got you. You ignore its many spiked appearance and upon placing in on your head (WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU DO THAT????) the burrowing process begins, The twoonie shaped piece of skull in removed, the chip is inserted and the scull-cap is screwed back in. Neat and quick and your skull no longer itches. Each head scratcher can impregnate 16 humans with the control chip, each one in less than 1 minute. The word is given. Find and destroy. Best start with Walmart.

Oh The Horror!

I was thinking this afternoon and I hate to say this but buying Marvel has the greatest shot at saving Marvel. If for some totally illogical a reason, somene at Disney, the same ones that made the great 'Kim Possible' and the 'Weekenders' and 'Filmore' wil find themselves in charge of these great properties. Could be the second rennaisance of great superhero cartoons. Disney got all the bucks and the tech to put out some wiked cool cartoons. For every cartoon for kifd to enjoy there would be something more adult for us but not the real violent stuff. All the great stories like 'Judas Contract' or the 'Secret Wars', (you know the one with the Beyonder?) could get animated. How hard would it be to do 'Marvels' or 'The Phoenix Saga' or 'Kree Skrull War" or the more recent "Civil War"? I will no doubt be wrong but this time I chose to hope.

00000000 Walt...just when I decide I hate this you go and tease me with this magnificent 'MODUCK'. I hearby support and look forward to working with our new corporate overlords.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Stargate Universe

Having followed all the various incarnations of the 'Stargate' franchise on TV I was intrigued to learn more about the new series coming out this fall starring Robert Carlyle and Lou Diamond Phillips. I have to admit that as it gets closer I am getting more exited. I always felt that the best 'concept twist' on 'Star Trek' was when 'Voyager' was stranded 70,000 light years from home. Having each episode revolve around survival while trying to make an impossible journey home is a strong background for any space centered series. 'Stargate Universe' takes that same thread and adds to it an ancient derelict alien ship and a crew who were never intended to travel in space at all. Victim of circumstance have to come together, battle the unknown and each other while trying to get home. This is what great science fiction television in made of. And like 'Voyager' its never really about the destination. Its all about the journey. This trailer looks and feels just right. I plan to give this series wide latitude and am happy to see that the Stargate franchise is still strong. Now lets hope every planet they land on DOESN'T look like British Columbia.

Deathlok # 1 - Coming Soon

Cover by Brandon Peterson. Is this not the coolest return of a character in a long time? When I was a kid I loved any appearance he made. The covers were dynamic and the character was very sympathetic. Even to the eight year old Calvin, the thought of taking revenge on the military industrial complex that had wronged me had great appeal.

Viona Art

Am I the only straight guy with an appreciation for fashion and design? I was looking at the site Cabinet of Curiosities and fell in love with the first outfit. These were all created by fairytale photographer Viona Art. What are the chances, do you think, that we can get all women to dress like this from now on. Sure its a pain in the ass to put the whole look together but look at the end result. The addition of ram and deer antlers are a nice touch. Classy if not functional. Have I gone into my Victorian Steampunk happy place again? If so don't tell me. I will be in the dirigible. Call me when supper is ready.

Birth of a Nation

Since earlier in the week when Republican Lynn Jenkins made her racist comment about the Republican Party needing their 'great white hope' to challenge Obama, I have been hip deep in study on the subject. I recommended that anyone who wants to see a great Ken Burns documentary on the era get a hold of 'Unforgivable Blackness: The Jack Johnson Story'. I mentioned before that the term comes from turn of the 20th Century America where the search was on for a white boxer who could reclaim the world's heavyweight title from the first black man to ever hold it, Jack Johnson. Not able to beat Johnson in the boxing ring, the courts were used to strip him of his title for his relationships with white women. The term 'miscegenation' was used to describe such a mixed coupling. Throughout America there were calls for legislatures to pass laws outlawing marriages between the races. Arriving into this politically and racially charged atmosphere came what can arguably be called the 'greatest' film of the silent era, the immensely groundbreaking and popular 'Birth of a Nation' (1915), Hollywood's first true 'blockbuster'. D.W. Griffith was a true giant in the history of movie making and 'Birth' was his magnum opus. Never before had a movie been this long or this expertly shot and edited. Its advanced the technology of film in a way that cannot be overstated. At the same time, however, its a work of diabolical evil (or as Roger Ebert called it, a great film that argues for evil). It told the story of the KKK (yes them) and made them the hero of the picture that was ostensibly about the dangers of race mixing. It message was that every upstanding white person had the duty to prevent this from ever happening. It's very strange to watch a movie in which the Klan are the heroes of the picture and that makes the film a very important relic in the history of the civil rights movement. The movie was extremely popular and the most watch movie of all time up to that point. In fact, it was the first movie shown at the White House to then President Woodrow Wilson and his all white cabinet. Its message was one that a majority of white Americans held and, in 1915, they were the majority group in the country. The film justified and validated all the prejudices whites had about blacks. The blacks in the film were evil rapists who were ever on the look out for a white girl to sexual exploit. The film was effective propaganda for those who saw little wrong with fermenting such passions against blacks. So racist was the production that the black roles were played by white actors in black face make-up. The Nazis in WWII knew full well the value that movies could serve to advance ones cause no matter how skewed or evil their point of view. It would take a generation for the damaged this film did to the cause of racial justice to be diminished. It was that powerful a message. If you are interested the entire film in on 'You Tube'.

"The film is controversial due to its interpretation of history. University of Houston historian Steven Mintz summarizes its message as follows: Reconstruction was a disaster, blacks could never be integrated into white society as equals, and the violent actions of the Ku Klux Klan were justified to reestablish honest government.[13] The film suggested that the Ku Klux Klan restored order to the post-war South, which was depicted as endangered by abolitionists, freedmen, and carpetbagging Republican politicians from the North."

UXB - A Review

"Experimental anti-terrorist skin suits fuse to the muscle and bone of three teenage brothers raising them to the level of unwitting ubermenschen in a decimated post-war London. They could be the saviour of mankind; Instead their interest remains with typical 21st century distractions: video games, violence and porn."

- the pitch for UXB

This is the first time that I have been given a comic to review by its creator. Colin over at Lubbert Das was one of the first blogs I started reading regularly when I was thinking about starting a blog of my own. The ones I admired were blogs that posted about anything that seemed to interest the author at the time. Its a philosophy that I wholeheartedly follow. Recently he offered a free copy of his comic UXB to anyone wishing to review it on their blog. I asked, he sent and I feel a responsibility to give him and you my honest appraisal. Anyone who has ever read a comic wants to create one. That means being able to draw (or have a friend that does) and especially you must be able to write. Comics have a shorthand and language all their own. Much story content is only hinted at to build tension and create reader interest. Combined with the art, words can make or break a book. I have no idea how many issues Colin has written but he avoided the trap many first timers fall into by OVER WRITING and OVER EXPLAINING every little thing that is going on in the world that he has created. The issue I was given has eight preview pages of story and some sketch pages at the end. I was very impressed how much mystery and interest was generated in so few panels. Here is a creator with a vision of a world where those with the power (or 'A' power) use it without fear or responsibility. The three young men we are introduced to bicker like companions who are forced together not by choice but by their shared gift (or curse). Much is unsaid between them (and much IS said) and I found myself instantly wanting to know more about their interpersonal dynamic. Its hard to avoid noticing that they all have something foreign attached to their bodies, something that separates them from everyone else and give them enormous power to use for good or ill. I can only assume by the fact that they are so young and so wild and that they live in Buckingham Palace that they have used their 'gifts' to take what they want from the post war world they inhabit. In the sketch pages we are teased with images of one of the characters as a child with the same alien looking 'device' (or skin suit as per the pitch) fixed to the front of his torso. I suspect alot of painful history travels with the young men. The art is very nice with subtle tones that are not over colored and don't distract from the story. There is a steampunk feel and detail to it all. So how does one judge only a few pages of what I am sure is an epic story in the creator's mind. I choose to go with how successful he was in planting the seed of interest in the reader to seek out more from this world. In that he hit the bullseye. I found the story to be fresh and the preview left me wanting to know more. If I had picked up this at say a convention or free comic day I would look for issues on the shelves in the future. Days after I read it and re-read what I had, I was still thinking about it. You can't ask more than that from a preview issue. This is excellent graphic storytelling.

WTF? Comics From The Past

The Golden Age was not as golden as you would think. Found these two examples of characters that really didn't catch on like the publishers hoped. What could have possibly been the problem? Oh maybe it's that Hip Knox (?) wore his granny's toaster cosy on his head and SLEPT in his costume. Snowman was just a stupid idea. He wielded a tomahawk like all snowmen do or did and for some reason was super strong. Ugh. Once again Pappy's Golden Age Comic Blogzine comes through for us all. I cannot believe that Snowman was co-created by Frank Frazetta, yes, THE Frank Frazetta. Clink on the link to see the entire story in all its jaw dropping glory.

Final Destination 3D

Now I want it known up front that there are many 'horror' franchises out there for one to enjoy. You got your 'Halloweens' and your 'Friday the 13th' and your 'Saw' or 'Hostel' type movies. Any of them are worthy to invest your fandom into. For me, the franchise of the genre that I like the most are the 'Final Destination' movies. Less sadistic than the 'Saw' movies (which I DO appreciate for its artful devices of death), they nonetheless craft a cacophony of totally illogical 'Rube Goldberg' deaths in which 100 things have to happen all at the same time to create the smash or bash or splat these movies are famous for. They are like live action 'Road Runner' cartoons with groups of teens all playing the part of the Coyote. Its great goofy fun watching how kids who have 'cheated' death once realize that they are powerless before the fickle whims of fate. I appreciate the imagination that goes into each tableaux of death but do so many of them have to rely on someone forgetting to put the top back on the container of paint thinnner, or motor oil, or hair gel or wiper fluid? After 4 films they really needed to go over the top to shock and amaze the audience and this one doesn't disappoint in that respect. Its also a nice touch that they continued the 'laws of death' where there is always an order to the peril the characters are placed in. Be the first kid next to the window when you leave a doomed aircraft makes you the first one to go when the icy chill of destiny starts a blowin'. Its also gives you an out because if you can somehow disrupt the order of deaths then you can save yourself. This fourth film is in 3D which strangely seem appropriate for the subject matter. I could talk about the young actors starring in this film but does it really matter? We all know that at the end there will be a pretty girl and a handsome boy left standing to give us continuity from this film to the next. Coincidentally they will be the ones with the most lines and who portray the nicer of the character types. As I watched this I was amazed at how far special effects have come. Some of the deaths here are truly ingenious and gruesome. There really are no limits to what can be portrayed on film. If you can imagine it they can do it for good or ill. The movie moves pretty quickly though at 76 minutes we really are pushing the limit to what can actually be called a full length motion picture. I am all for economy in editing but give the people at least 90 minutes for their money or include a cartoon at the beginning (a Road Runner classic would have been appropriate). I assume they factored the time it took to show the trailers before the film to get to the full hour and a half. And one more thing. I am NEVER wearing sneakers with laces on an escalator ever again. Its a fricken jungle out there.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Here We FRICKIN Go Again!

I just wish that ONE day would pass when I am not confronted by knowledge of how messed up the world of the octopus is. Not only can these evil bastards slide their boneless masses through holes no bigger than a quarter; not only can they grasp tools, but now it appears that at least one species of cephalopod can MIMIC the behaviors and shapes of many other sea creatures. Beautiful. Does the octopus do this trick to entertain? To inform? NO!!! OF COURSE NOT..HAVE YOU BEEN LISTENING TO ANYTHING I HAVE BEEN SAYING ALL THESE MONTHS????!!!!! They mimic the movements and colors of others so that they can get over on them. There is no way you will ever convince me that this skill is instinctual. There are some serious higher order brains at work here. I should be impressed after watching this clip but I am terrified beyond the ability for rational thought. If I went around doing what this thing does I would be clubbed to death and left in a ravine. Its NOT right or normal or safe. I hate the oceans. What's next, I ask you? God Damn!

"The mimic octopus, Thaumoctopus mimicus, is a species of octopus that has a strong ability to mimic other creatures. Its normal colouring consists of brown and white stripes or spots. Living in the tropical seas of South East Asia, it was not discovered officially until 1998, off the coast of Sulawesi.

The octopus mimics the physical likeness and movements of more than fifteen different species, including sea snakes, lionfish, flatfish, brittle stars, giant crabs, sea shells, stingrays, flounders, jellyfish, sea anemones, and mantis shrimp. It accomplishes this by contorting its body and arms, and changing colour."


There are few times that I totally love a TV show based solely on its pilot episode. By the time the regular season get started (if the pilot is even picked up) many changes may have been made to the show. Sometimes they are good changes and sometimes they doom the show right from the start. In truth, there is just something - call it magic - that distinguishes the successful from the non-successful shows. No genre has a greater fail rate than sitcoms. So many factors have to combine in JUST the right way for lightning to strike. Based on the quality of the pilot for the sitcom 'COMMUNITY' with Joel McHale, I think the producers of this program have found that dream mix. The setting is simple. Joel plays a lawyer named Jeff, who fudged his degree and now has been barred from practicing law until he gets the credits he needs. He attends a dorky Greendale Community College where everyone at first glance seems to a stereotype right out of 'Animal House' but that doesn't matter. What you have here is a setting that is just ripe for the picking of comedy gold. McHale is so perfectly smarmy, smart and selfish that you instantly find yourself rooting for his transparent schemes to fail, not because you dislike him but because you want to see the wheels turn in his mind. His character plays the odds and angles like the best con men do. He knows that 90% of his attempts will fail but that doesn't stop him from throwing everything out there so long as the end goal (getting what he wants) is achieved. He is similar to a determined five year old who just doesn't hear the word no. Watching him fail and then get up again for another round will be great fun to watch. Of course there are people (like Abed, a middle eastern nerdy braniac), that are there for him to manipulate, a study group with more issues than the 'Breakfast Club' and a smart pretty girl (Britta) who totally sees through this guy's act. She has put up with guys hitting on her her whole life and now finds, in Jeff, the joy in discovering new and novel ways to shoot him down just to see what tactic he will attempt next to get her into bed. Its a funny dynamic between them. I already see them getting together in five years of the show and reading about everyone complaining that the show has 'jumped the shark' like Cheers did when Sam got with Diane. The show has an impressive pedigree. The people behind the underrated comedy 'Arresting Development' are behind this show so you know the writing will be strong and smart. Even Chevy Chase is on board as an guy coming back to school as what we would call a 'mature student'. John Oliver from the 'Daily Show' plays a professor who Jeff once got out of a D.U.I. by linking his drunk driving to 9/11. And NO, its not too soon for a 9/11 joke.

"You know what makes humans different from other animals? We are the only species on Earth that observes 'Shark Week'. Sharks don't even observe 'Shark Week' but we do."

John Montagu Lives On In Us All

I have mentioned before that I feel that the 4th Earl of Sandwich was man ahead of his time. A true visionary. Well now I have found a site called INSANEWICHES that showcase the ways creative people honor our beloved Earl daily. His philosophy is one that I am happy to see these people have taken to heart.

Good On Ya Mate!

When you make Paris Hilton look smart and necessary then you know you have found the bottom rung of the celebrity ladder, Heidi Montag. I am almost embarrassed to know who this no talent twit is but that's only so that when her death by falling into an open elevator shaft is announced I will know why I am smiling. Does anyone remember the time when the world just ate up and spit girls like this out the bottom of the porn industry? Are we so needy that we have to give her and her dickhead bf any attention at all? Now you can say that I am doing exactly what I am railing against but in truth I post this to honour Anderson Cooper who gets the best burn of the week in on her. Thanks for just saying what needed to be said buddy.

Ummmm....No Thank You, I Will Just Crap My Pants

"Here's a briefcase that keeps you going. It will surely inspire the business-savvy men and women of the world climbing the corporate ladder who will stop at nothing to get an edge… not even to take a dump. In today's fast paced corporate market every minute counts. No longer is it feasible or convenient to take time out for toilet breaks, especially in taxis, subways or rail systems where facilities aren't always provided. Now there's the Gotta Go Briefcase. A full functioning briefcase that also doubles as a portable lavatory."

Just Funny

He Swam The Amazon

"That's 3,274 miles, swimming 10 hours a day for 66 days.. on two bottles of wine a day *or 196,440 lengths of your average pool."

That is what crazy Slovenian distance swimmer, Martin Strel just did. I am a big fan of these crazy ass stunts of human endurance but once you read about what danger he faced daily, I never even want to SEE the Amazon in a picture let alone go to that death trap. Every place I have gone or heard about from Australia to the sea have things in there that are just waiting to mess us up. At least in Canada they are large and furry and you can see them coming...not swimming up your wang like those fricken Candiru fish. Read on.

"Martin trained more than five hours a day in his local swimming pool and finally began history's longest swim in April 2007. His daily target was to swim for 10 hours every day, covering around 90km. But the adventure soon became a struggle for survival. As well as dehydration and exhaustion, water-borne parasites left his body racked with infection and disease, including dengue fever, which triggers painful cramps.

Tarantulas, giant millipedes and scorpions would drop off the trees into the river, often getting entangled in his hair. Birds would fly down and attempt to peck at his face. Larvae burrowed into his skin and his face was stung by wasps. Some days he even had to wear a pillowcase over his head, with slits for the eyes and mouth to protect his face from the heat.

However the hazards above the water were nothing compared to the horrors below. The biggest danger was the bull shark, responsible for the deaths of more humans than any other type of shark in the area. Then there are stingrays and anacondas lurking in the shallows, crocodiles and alligators that can seize human-size prey and gobble it whole. Long, poisonous snakes slither out of nowhere and giant catfish up to 15ft long, known to swallow dogs and children, hide in the mud.

Once he had to be hauled from the water screaming in pain, as shoals of piranha fish gnawed at his leg. He swam in the faster-flowing middle of the channel, in places 100ft deep, in the worst Amazon floods for a century, but sometime he couldn't avoid the stiller water. In an attempt to stop the razorjawed piranha fish from smelling him, Martin would lather his body with gasoline and cream and buckets of pigs' blood would be thrown into the water to divert their attention.

But of all the dangers, the one Martin feared most was the tiny candiru, otherwise known as the vampire fish, a parasite with a vicious tactic. It is attracted by the scent of urine and enters the body by swimming up the penis. Once inside it locks itself on with a series of spikes and feeds off blood and tissue. Surgery is the only way to remove it. And if Martin was attacked the nearest emergency ward was hundreds of miles away."

5 for Katurday

(See what I did there?)

Just So Depressing

(click to enlarge)

That Is Just Good Noms (Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom)

Momento Mori

The Age of Victoria was a weird time in human experience. Post industrial living brought the best and worst to the people. Listverse has a collection of some of the creepiest things about Victorian England but there are none creepier (well aside from the fascination with freaks like the Elephant Man) than the practice of taking pictures with one's recently deceased relatives. Photography was in its infancy and thus was too pricey to become an everyday thing. Only the most special or traumatic occasions called for such a remembrance. These 'Momento Mori' (Latin for "remember you shall die") were taken with a recently deceased loved one. To further enhance the effect that the person was still alive they would often prop them up in chairs or open the eyes. For many Victorians this was the ONLY picture they would have taken of them in their lifetime. I find it particularly ghoulish to have a child pose with a deceased sibling, especially a twin. More such photos can be seen HERE.

Just Straight Up Bad Ass