Monday, August 30, 2010

Question of the Day

Is there a "Ventriloquism for Dummies" book? And if so, does it actually teach you ventriloquism, or just how to be a dummy?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

If Cartoon Characters Aged In Real Time...

...Pebbles Flintstone would be almost fifty, now, with two kids (Chip and Roxy) who are almost ready to graduate high school. Fred would presumably be dead, life expectancies not being much in prehistoric times.

...Judy Jetson would be sixty-four (and presumably wondering if her boyfriend will need her, or for that matter even feed her.) This being the future, though, she might retain her youthful looks well into her second century, so that might not be so much of a problem.

...Jonny Quest is a bitter fifty-seven year old, who probably has endless therapy sessions where he talks about his intimacy issues due to his dad's inability to love him. "He thought that just giving me an Indian boy would solve everything. Well, it didn't, Dad!"

...Scooby-Doo is forty-eight (that's 336 in dog years. Actually, I think that's just "dead" in dog years.)

...Hank, the oldest member of the "Dungeons and Dragons" party, would be forty-two and probably well into the Epic Character supplements; while the youngest, Bobby, would be thirty-five and have several NPC henchmen by now.

...the Planeteers are all in their early thirties, and have emigrated to the United States due to political instability in their respective homelands. (Kwame's sick of all the "email spam" jokes. Please stop telling them.) They don't do much forming of Captain Planet these days, but they do make sure to recycle, and Ma-Ti attended a rally at the state capitol a few months ago about "going green".

...and Dexter is now twenty-three. Although he has not yet succeeded in conquering the world, it seems like more than coincidence that he got a job at Google just before they changed their stance on Net Neutrality.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Conspiracy Theory? Sure, Why Not!

The new Spider-Man film has begun casting, with Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man (presumably a Spider-Man who hates Mondays and loves to eat his own weight in lasagna. It's a daring choice.) They're also working on casting his love interest, an as-yet-unnamed character (or, at least, one whose name they're not putting on the scripts that are circulating through Hollywood) who apparently is definitely probably not Mary Jane Watson.

Since I'm bored, I'm going to go ahead and circulate a half-baked conspiracy theory that I may or may not believe. Remember how "One More Day" happened, and went over like a lead balloon stuffed with dwarf star material because contrary to editor-in-chief Joe Quesada's expectations, nobody really was pining for a Spider-Man comic that looked just like the ones that came out when he was a kid in 1970? And how to the average Spider-Man fan, Mary Jane was and pretty much always had been Spidey's "true love", because we didn't even start reading comics until almost after they were married? And how the casual fan had barely even heard of Gwen Stacy, because all the film adaptations, cartoon versions, and even most of the non-616 versions of Spider-Man had Peter dating MJ?

So now they're rebooting the movies with a new, MJ-free version. The "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane" comic got canceled a while back, despite great reviews and steady trade paperback sales. Ultimate Spider-Man is living with Gwen Stacy. There hasn't been a cartoon Spidey in a little while, but the last one had a far more prominent role for Gwen and emphasized MJ's desire to stay single. (Yes, I know, they're returning to the original series' roots. That is rather my point, though.) All in all, it seems like there's a concerted branding effort to take MJ out of the picture in order to bring the alternate media versions of Spider-Man in line with the "Amazing" version, complete with what seems like a plan to push Gwen Stacy to the forefront.

Does this mean that Joe Quesada is abusing his lofty position within Marvel's hallowed halls in order to make all comics just like they were when he was a kid? (If so, he could probably take some lessons from Geoff Johns. **rimshot**) I doubt it, really. It seems like a lot of work for such a petty agenda. But if the new movie girlfriend for Spidey is named "Gwen Stacy", well...all I'm saying is, don't be surprised if there's a "shocking resurrection" a few years down the line in the main Spidey book.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Color Me Shocked

Oh, look. Despite his grave uncertainty over whether his ankle injury is healed enough to let him play, Brett Favre has managed to recover himself just in time for the regular season. Unfortunately, this indecision made him miss training camp, something we all know he loves so very very much. I'm so surprised that he couldn't make it this year. I'd never have expected this particular outcome.

In all seriousness, I will admit that there was something kind of hinky about the way all this played out--nobody was really expecting him to report before the end of training camp anyway, so why all the extra drama? Why the text messages that weren't, the trip to Mississippi to pay court to him, the epic levels of excitement about what seemed like a routine question? Did he really need the extra flattery to draw him back to the team, or was this all just the Vikings panicking over nothing?

I'm inclined to believe the latter, at least for the most part. I think that Favre always intended to play, he always intended to milk the injury for a free pass out of training camp (which he understandably despises), and that everything else was just a crazy little sideshow on the part of the Vikings. Either way, I'm glad it's over; I might be a Vikings fan, but I'm not one of those sports fans who excuses bad behavior when it's "my" team indulging in it. Favre really should be ashamed of himself, the Vikings haven't exactly covered themselves with glory either, now can we please shut up about this and play some football?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New On DVD

Apparently "Furry Vengeance" came out on DVD and Blu-Ray yesterday. Good for them. They get so much flack on the Internet, I think it's only fair that they should get their own back somewhere along the line. Brendan Fraser's in it--I'm guessing he's playing someone from 4chan, or Something Awful, perhaps?

In any event, it's probably fun for the entire family, or at least those parts of the family that aren't offended by people who like sex with heavily anthropomorphized animals. I probably won't see it myself, but anyone who's into that, have fun!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

500th Post!

I try not to make a whole lot of "milestone" posts, because somehow it feels like cheating--if every tenth post is, "Hey, wow, look, another ten posts!", then I'm really not earning those milestones quite so much, am I? But I like to think that the 500th post (which happens to fall right around the 5th anniversary of my decision to sit down and start blogging, give or take a week) is worth celebrating a little, in an egotistical sort of way.

So yes, I will toot my own horn a little and say, "Here's to me, for sticking with this as long as I have!" Thanks to every single person who read, especially those who commented, and I hope to do 500 more!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

If the United States Government Was a Couch

Yes, I've been in a political mood lately. What can I say, it's nearing November and I'm hearing so much stuff that the opinions are leaking out of my ears. This is the benefit of having your own blog; nobody but me tells me what to say. The only measure I have of how bored people are getting is how many readers I lose, and um...look, I'm sure I'll get back to talking about crazy Silver Age comics pretty soon, OK?

In any event, today I wanted to talk a bit about balancing the budget, and more specifically about the Republican plan for doing so. They tend to talk about it in two ways: First, about the need to cut taxes. (Which I'd be fine with, if not for the fact that Republicans only think taxes can go one way: Down. No matter how low the taxation is, you can always find Republicans who will insist that the only cure for whatever current crisis we have is to lower taxes.) Second, though, is that we'd be fine if we just cut all the "waste" out of the federal budget.

Now, I'm not going to say that there's no waste in the federal budget. In fact, that's why their argument seems so strong; every time someone makes it, they go through the entire federal government with a fine-tooth comb and find an example of someone whose job it is to regulate ear sizes on rabbits raised for meat, or a department that spent $50 million dollars on boats just in case they need to go to sea as part of their job at the Department of Cactus Management. That's part and parcel of any big organization; the bigger it is, the more likely that something nuts gets lost in the nooks and crannies. You also hear about it in private enterprise; I recall reading about one company whose inter-office mail was so inefficient that employees were sending envelopes from one floor to another via FedEx. (Federal Express: When you're absolutely, positively too damn lazy to walk it down three flights of stairs by yourself.)

But here's the key--just because you find waste, that doesn't mean that there's an unlimited amount of waste to be found. Once you find it and fix it, it's gone, and it's a relatively small percentage of the money you need. It'd be like finding two bucks in change in your sofa cushions one day, then finding another three bucks a week later, and somehow coming to the conclusion that you can quit your job and live off the unlimited largesse of your couch.

The decisions we need to make to balance the budget aren't easy ones. Anyone who says they are--Republican or Democrat--is either lying to you, or is too damn stupid to know what they're talking about. Either way, they should be kept as far away from government as humanly possible.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Killing a Lie In Its Cradle

Conservatives who are up in arms about the overturning of Proposition 8 in California are trying to explain how non-homophobic they are by telling everyone that it has nothing to do with the icky, icky gays being allowed to marry just like normal folks. No, siree! It's just that they're deeply, deeply upset that one judge (one gay judge, who must be biased, because a gay judge ruling in favor of gay marriage is biased while a straight judge ruling against it is just applying common sense...) is allowed to overturn the will of the people. How is that fair, that one person can overrule a majority?

The answer is simple. That judge didn't overrule the majority. He just pointed out that Proposition 8, passed by a little over half the people in one state, conflicts with the 14th Amendment, which was passed in 1868 by 2/3rds of the US Congress, then ratified by 3/4ths of the country. In other words, Proposition 8 isn't the will of the majority. It's the will of a small, cranky minority that's trying to ignore all the people disagreeing with them. Which is working out about as well as you'd expect, really.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Demolishing Conservatism In One Quick Sentence

The fundamental flaw with economic conservatism is that they insist that private enterprise is more efficient than the public sector, while never actually considering the fact that what they're more efficient at is making money, and not at actually getting done the things that need to get done; for example, McDonald's might be the most profitable restaurant, but it's more profitable because it makes lots of cheap food it sells for a moderate profit, not because it actually makes tasty and nutritious meals.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Review: Paul Is Undead

Really, can there be a better concept for a book than "What if the Beatles were actually a group of brain-eating zombies from Liverpool with super-powers that set out to conquer the world with their music, only to fall victim to internal discord brought about by the arrival of Eighth Level Ninja Lord Yoko Ono?" Seriously, is it actually possible?

I fell in love with "Paul Is Undead: The British Zombie Invasion" the moment I saw the cover, and nothing I read ever convinced me that I'd made the wrong decision by snapping it up. It's a zombie book that isn't the same lame "zombie plague spreads across the world, here's the tale of the survivors as they try to fend off the hordes of the undead...and fail!" plot that's been the paint-by-numbers source of so many recent zombie movies, comics, and books. (I'm not pointing any fingers at any specific books, because hell, I've enjoyed a few of the paint-by-numbers zombie stuff...but let's just say that "City of the Dead" isn't getting a review like this.)

And it's more than just a zombie book. Author Alan Goldsher gleefully tosses in vampires, ghosts (the ghost of Ed Sullivan cracked me up), mole men, Satan, invisible men, and of course ninjas. Ringo Starr's difficulties as a ninja drumming in a zombie band forms a good chunk of the underpinnings of the book. It's a bizarre, kitchen-sink approach to writing that probably wouldn't have worked anywhere but here, but somehow it's exactly what the material demands.

In fact, that's a good description of the book as a whole: "It wouldn't have worked anywhere but here." Any other book would have worn out its welcome before the end of three hundred pages of comedy-zombie material. Any other book would have driven me nuts with the "oral history" style of writing. (Actually, that's not quite true. I hate non-fiction books that use the "oral history" style with a passion, but I adore novels that pretend to be non-fiction "oral history" style books. Perhaps it's because the style tends to simply present people's narratives unquestioningly, which is fine for fiction but very off-pissing when you're trying to find out the truth of something.) It's just one of those books that works because it's what it is.

And what it is, is hilarious. Read it for the account of the Beatles' appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, where the screaming wasn't hysteria, it was terror. Read it for the shocking account of the Shea Stadium concert where thousands were brutally murdered by Beatlemaniacs. But mostly, read it because it's funny.