Friday, May 30, 2008

Memorial Day was fun, as usual

We have much to discuss.

Once again, I have gone multiples of time without updating. I was going to try to post something once a week, but evidently I didn't try very hard. Nevertheless, I have been doing things and having adventures and such, so we have two things to talk about, generally.

1) I met my niece

2) Summer Movies

Going in order, I finally made the trek far upstate to meet A. Rev. Here is a picture of the encounter:

We are adorable.

In the background of that picture, you can see my Indiana Jones hat, which ties back into this post a little bit later. Anyway, I think our introduction went pretty well. I got one or two smiles out of her, as well as the amount of crying, fear, and gassiness that I've come to expect upon meeting girls for the first time.

I scored some bonus points, though. I brought her a new toy, and preliminary tests indicate that she enjoys it. It's called a Whoozit, and I went slightly insane on Thursday looking for one. Behold:

This is awesome.

I very nearly bought one for myself. There are plenty of bright colors, some of the appendages rattle, and the back has a big black and white target on it that human larvae babies can focus on with their underdeveloped eyes. There is also a small mirror hidden under the nose, and the nose itself has a squeaky thing in it. Hours of entertainment. It also does not resemble any sort of actual animal, which is good, because I think children should be exposed to as much nonsense as possible.

We were both pretty fascinated by the Whoozit, as evidenced by this picture:

So I think she's off to a pretty good start with one of her Uncles Rev.

Anyway, for those interested, you may view more pictures of A. Rev HERE. She seems to have inherited her parents' dislike of cameras and smiling for them.

Segueing by means of Indiana Jones Hat:

Who's ready for adventure?

I saw the latest entry in that legendary film franchise, Indiana Jones and the Batshit Crazy Producer.

"Next I'll have Indiana Jones search for my credibility"

Again, I won't spoil any of the film for you. This next insane run-on sentence should be sufficient.

If, ten years ago, my future (now) self were to appear before me in a TARDIS, or DeLorean, or even naked in a bizarre matter-destroying bubble, and tell me that in ten years time, I would be given the option of watching a fourth Indiana Jones movie, or seeing the Iron Man movie, and that I should choose the latter, I would have immediately brained him with a flashlight and burned him as a witch.

Not so much because of the movie advice, but for the fact that I would have access to time travel, and all I would tell me about is cinema, and not something useful like lottery numbers, stock market tips or which girls at Whitesboro High totally would have gone all the way with me.

Back to the point, I would have found the movie advice hard to believe. However, that's waaay back in 1998, a full year before the Phantom Menace would rape my dreams of franchise resurrection, and seven years before Batman Begins would allow me to dare to dream again.

Which reminds me that there is still a long way to go yet in this Summer Movie Season. Plenty of films to look forward to, and other films to avoid like a panhandling leper on fire.

"Spare change?"

More specifically:

Speaking of which, has anybody else noticed this?

Apparently, Kim Cattrall is, in reality, Mumm-Ra, the Ever-Living Source of Evil (only less sexually appealing). Good to know.

That's all for now, talk to you later


Friday, May 16, 2008

China and Iron Man: My Summer 2008

There's an old saying that the art of writing is applying the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair. I realize that I've been remiss lately, with infrequent and brief (read: lazy) blog posts. I'm reminded of that old saying, and think that that's one of the reasons I haven't blogged that much. I haven't tried. Also I dislike wearing pants.

So I figure I'll just ramble here until a subject strikes my fancy. Things that have been happening in and around me include: running in preparation for the Boilermaker 2008, a visit from Mr and Mrs Rev, and getting ready to go to China for ten days. Ooh, that has potential.

That's right folks, I'm planning a one-man invasion of Red China, looking to promote democracy, avoid typhoid, and pick up some sweet name brand clothing at the real factory outlet stores.

I bet no one would have a problem if they were called Schvitz Shops.

That reminds me of Iron Man. Bear with me.

I'm not talking about Iron Man the movie, which is awesome, and by the way you should go see it now. Like, right now. I'll wait.

Gwyneth Paltrow is hot again. Hooray!

Welcome back. Wasn't that cool? If you didn't wait until after the credits, you missed out, but we've wasted enough time already, you can go see it again after we're done here. For those of you who haven't seen the movie but kept reading anyway, how am I supposed to help you if you don't listen to me?

But I shan't spoil any of the film. I'm talking Marvel Comics old school Iron Man. Anthony Edward Stark. Back before talented artists and writers figured out how to make the character look cool and act cooler (actually, he's kind of a dick), and before director John Favreau hired Robert Downey Jr. to channel his fictional soul onto the big screen. I'm talking about this guy:

"Hey, how do I draw armor?"
"I don't know, just draw a guy in tights and we'll say it's armor"
"But... isn't that stupid?"
"You're fired."

Now before all you purists jump down my throat, yes, I know Jack Kirby is ten times the man I'll ever be. just let it go, ok?

Now we get back to my original point. Rember? I was talking about sweat shops and going to China? Well, Iron Man hates Communists. Like me.


Like me, he hates Communists.

Not he hates Communists like me.

But he has pretty good reasons. He was nearly killed and then imprisoned during the Vietnam War by blatantly racist caricatures:

Caricatures who speak in the third person.

Of course, he uses his American Genius to murder his way free, and returns to the states to be the head of a massive corporation. Capitalism rules. Just ask Ayn Rand.

Filthy commies keep sending (inferior) bad guys after him. Titanium Man and the Crimson Dynamo are two really good examples. They would use brute force and ignorance against Iron Man, and ultimately fail, presumably because they don't have any claim to the products of their labor.

The Crimson Dynamo isn't kidding about his color scheme.

Interestingly, Tony Stark fought all of these threats even as his Defense Contracting company was making billions of dollars from the Cold War Arms Race. Throw in an attempted seduction by the Russian supersexy superspy the Black Widow, and Tony's got a whole bunch of conflicts of interest going on.

Attempted seduction? Does that mean she failed? What the Hell, Tony?

We can forgive all of that, though. In international and corporate espionage, things get complicated and confusing.

And, as we all know, the line between love and hate can get pretty blurry at times.

But anyway, the Soviets were always laughable, because they said nothing but "comrade" all the time, drank vodka and looked like bears (except the black widow). We don't even have to worry about them because I'm not going to be visiting the USSR anytime soon. I'm going to China. Don't worry, Iron Man fights with them too. In fact, right behind Alcohol, Tony Stark's arch nemesis is Chinese.

So without further ado, allow me to introduce the Marvel Universe's take on China:

The Mandarin.

Did I mention before how far comic book artwork/character design has come? Because at some point in the past, this was acceptable. Let's let him slip into something more comfortable:

That's... better?

See, I'm not really sure if they're going for Yellow Peril or Gay Panic. Either way, I am terrified of the Mandarin.

Also, the Mandarin gets his powers from his super-bling:

10 rings that he found in a crashed alien spaceship, naturally. No dirty Communist could have built anything that would be a challenge for Iron Man. He had to steal his tricks from other cultures. See what they did there?

Of course the Department of Revisionist History now tells us that the Mandarin is a genius of the highest order, and a superhumanly powerful martial artist. He is definitely NOT a Fu Manchu ripoff.

He, Ming the Merciless and Dr. No get together at least once a month to hang out, gossip about arch-nemeses and exchange tips about caring for their facial hair.

So, there you have it. An entire blog post and I've discussed virtually no details of my China trip, save that it exists, and I hope to stay far, far away from certain fictional super-villains (Mandarin), and get very, very close to others (Black Widow). And at the end of the day, that's really all you can hope to learn from this blog.

Catch you cats later,


Sunday, May 11, 2008

I Currently Don't Like Macs, Either

It used to be just a general notion. A vague unease while using one. Sure, they seem simple enough, and they look friendly and everything, but you just can't shake the feeling that something is seriously wrong. You know, like shopping in Chinatown.

$10 Watches? Awesome!

Here's my issue. Last week I finished up a course on basic animation techniques at NYU's School of Continuing and Professional Studies. My final project was a 36 second long cartoon, which translates to 440 individual frames that had to be shot, well, individually. It was quite a lot of drawing for me, since I can't draw. I have invested several hours of life into this project. I premiered it at the class to rave reviews. One critic referred to my work as "Brilliant, a commentary on the state of humanity in the face of contemporary futility."

Admittedly, this critic is myself. Others mentioned that "it was funny" and "I like the part with the robot."

Now we get to the problem. This slice of divine inspiration was created using a program called Frame Thief on a Mac. I then exported the file into an .mov using a feature of the aforementioned program. It played beautifully on the Mac's Quicktime program. I downloaded it to my flashdrive and, being charmingly paranoid, burned it onto a blank CD as well.

This file will not play on any computer that I have since tried it on. Three different PCs and a whole bunch of media players, VLC, Windows media, KMPlayer, Quicktime. None of these players believe the program exists. I have yet to find another Mac to try the file, but I know where one is, and it's only a matter of time. So screw you, Mac, for your lack of interoperability, and for your refusal to acknowledge the problem when I search online for a solution.

And don't get me started on people who use Macs...

Hipster Scum.

Anyway, if I ever get this whole nonsense figured out, rest assured that I will be posting my cartoon for all of you to enjoy and laugh at and point to the absurd crudity of the pencil sketches.

Ok, I'm tired. More later