Sunday, August 29, 2010

Secret Garbage

So i tried to read Secret Wars, Marvel's big crossover from 1984. You can read about it here.

It's awful. Like really really bad.

You can sort of expect it when the explanation for doing this crossover was:

"Kenner had licensed the DC Heroes. Mattel had He-Man, but wanted to hedge in case superheroes became the next big fad. They were interested in Marvel's characters, but only if we staged a publishing event that would get a lot of attention, and they could build a theme around. Fans, especially young fans often suggested to me 'one big story with all the heroes and all the villains in it', so I proposed that. It flew. Mattel thought that kids responded well to the word, "secret" so after a couple of working names bit the dust, we called the story 'Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars'."


Here are a few choice bits that caught my attention (I've purposefully skipped all of the self-introductions EVERY character does in EVERY panel, or I'd be here all damned night):

  • "Oh, wow! That was, like tubular! You know -- to the max!" -She Hulk in a fight.
    Really? REALLY? Tubular?
  • "Torch, when you can bend this ultra-hard alien metal like paper with your bare hands, THEN you can give me orders! Until then, I'll listen to our designated leader: Captain America -- and no one else!"
    And this is while fighting. Good thing talking is a free action.
  • "It's no wonder that the name Mister Fantastic is renowned for compassion as well as courage! You give added meaning to the word hero, Richards!"
    And you're a snappy dresser too. Ha-HA! Isn't it nice how they talk like people talk?
  • "Do you think Cap's handling this right?"
    "Does Dr. J play roundball?"
    ...Wait, whut? Round-what? What-ball? What-what? Is he referring to John Hewson? Former leader of the Liberal Party in Opposition?
  • "Well, being absolute master of molecules I can just assimilate molecules when I want, so I never have to be hungry, and I can just shoo away dirt molecules, so I'm always nice and clean -- but I AM tired."
    Why not shoo away the tired molecules. The molecules too molecular? MOLECULES!
  • Mister Fantastic: "It's alright, son! Considering the circumstances, why not? When you're done, I'll take my turn! I miss my wife, too terribly!"
    Okay, he's talking about crying and lamenting that you're away from your family, but it just sounds so wrong out of context.
  • Iron Man is going around on jet-roller skates. JET ROLLER SKATES. That thud you head is my jet-head hitting the jet-wall.
  • "Chubby chance, slow-poke."
    Spider-Man's meant to be quick-witter and clever. And yet.... chubby chance. And two panels later, Spider-Man casually backhands Wolverine across the room. Casually. Actually, Spidey is able to own Wolverine, Colossus, Rogue, Nightcrawler AND Cyclops. On his own. Times have changed, I guess.
  • Dr Doom is shown giving two normal humans super-powers with a machine he finds. It's not explained where those two humans came from, or why (considering the Beyonder grabbed a whole bunch of heroes and villains). One of the villains even says "Hey, where'd they come from?" and another replies "Who cares?" and it's left at that. So even the BOOK doesn't care. That explains a lot.
  • "Look at that storm, isn't it impressive?"
    "Nah! It's only molecules interacting, you know, and I control molecules!"

I had to stop at that point. That's only three issues. THREE.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Testing a new format

Testing the XtraNormal platform using Richard jeni's Jaws IV monologue, which is an old favourite of mine. Just click to play:

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's My Line

While waiting for the groceries to arrive this morning (read as: 8:00-11:45), I had a little Whose Line Is It Anyway (US) Season 1 marathon. I loved watching this show and the original UK version on the Comedy network when I was in high school/uni and was an improv-er myself (Improv Dogs represent, w00t!). While watching this series, though, a few things occurred to me:

1. Wow, they really, really, REALLY had to explain the premise 3 or 4 times a show so American audiences don't get confused.

2. Drew Carey seemed to be auditioning for his later gig on the Price Is Right (he even says "Come on down!").

3. Colin Mochrie (sp?) has one of the most mobile and expressive faces in comedy, and Ryan Stiles, despite a body like a bag of wire hangers, is extremely physical.

4. The only segments that don't hold up are the musical numbers, which is strange, because I used to look forward to seeing Wayne Brady sing each week. However, when watched consecutively, it becomes clear that those segments play host to some of the least creative improv on the show. I think when I first watched it, I was just blown away by Wayne Brady's musical talent (compared to the UK and other US performers, who let comedy come first). Now, you can actually see his mind looking for lazy rhymes and padding things out with lots of "Whoo" and "Yeah!".

Which brings me to...

5. The fact that this show was on YEARS ago and still seems current made me realise how current-events-based Australian television comedy is (in the realm of "those clown in parliament have done it again" and "doesn't that one politician have big ears"). That's why they've not released a proper DVD set for the stellar "the Glass House". In fact, I've read that there was one week where the Glass House was preempted, and ABC and the writers were at loggerheads to release the show or just bin it. The reason? All the jokes were about things that happened a week before and thus were not funny.

In conclusion, screw Flanders.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Partying Down

(Warning, spoilers for Party Down season 1 & 2)

An odd thought occurred to me while watching the beginning of the second season of the Adrian-recommended Party Down, a show which I have come to enjoy. In the first season, the protagonist was Henry, a former actor and current self-described quitter, who spends his days working for the titular Party Down catering company, drinking, taking drugs, and generally not doing much, while dealing with his teetotalling try-hard Team Leader Ron and hanging out with fellow slacker, struggling comedienne Casey, with whom he later starts a relationship. Most of the humour of the first series centres around Henry and Casey dealing with Ron attempting to mould them into a team and Henry resisting (there are supporting characters too, making the funny).

At the last two episodes at the end of the first season, Ron goes into a downward spiral, begins drinking again and falls apart. Henry, to the surprise of everyone, himself included, steps up, takes responsibility and is able to carry the group through two events. By the beginning of the second season, Henry has become Team Leader and is doing a better job of it than Ron was.

However, Casey is still a slacker. Even as Henry is taking control, Casey is trying to act like she usually does with him: "hey, you want to slack off and drink?" Henry brushes her off, saying he's too busy. Casey is miffed. Later in the 2nd season, Ron returns as a team member, but is irresponsible, drunk, and unreliable.

Basically, here's what I'm thinking: while Tanja and I were watching the first season, Henry and his slacker ways were a source of amusement. He was the hero of the show, ignoring the irritant that was Ron's regime. But once Henry took control, we cheered at his taking responsibility and doing things right. Casey and later Ron, despite taking the same actions as first season Henry did, become annoying and whiny not just to Henry, but to us, the viewer. Talk about a paradigm shift.

So what, then? Are we as viewers merely behind the hero, right or wrong? Should we be resisting the management no matter what? It seems weird, that's all.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

One of those guys

I hate to say it, but I have become one of those annoying people with a new laptop (the Alienware M11x with the i5, for those whom I haven't assaulted yet). I have all of its stats memorised and can rattle them off at the drop of a hat. I'm rediscovering things I haven't used in months or years become doggone it, they WORK now.

Things I like:

  • The Alienware FX gimmick: the keyboard, running lights, logos and everything are all back lit. First day it was red, next day blue, and today it's gold. I know it's gimmicky, but it both looks and feels cool.
  • Speaking of the keyboard, it's compact, but large enough for me to type without the button-mash typos I had with my eeePC or the too-light-touch typos I had with Tanja's Vaio.
  • It's got bones. With 4 gigs of RAM, and 1 gig of dedicated graphics card memory, I can run Borderlands and the Just Cause 2 demo on the absolute highest setting and full resolution with a very fast frame rate. It's the closest Borderlands experience to playing it on the PS3.
  • The system installed, can run, but actively rejected Command & Conquer Generals (due to stupidly low resolution on that 7-year old game). This is a good thing because it forces me to give other games a go.
  • It runs Windows 7 Home Premium, which allowed me to effortlessly network between the Vista-running main PC and my lappy. This means that all the nearly-a-terabyte movies, TV shows and music are all shared to the laptop wirelessly. Combined with the HDMI-out (which makes my previous to-TV-VGA-Connection look like a pile of puke [/Moe]), this means I can put of the TV, in full resolution, anything I download without transferring anything.
  • Battery life. Due to the multiple-settings mode (accessible by keyboard shortcut), I can have it running at full-power for about 2 hours without a cord, at mid-power for about 5, and at low power for who-knows how long.

The only cons I've found so far:

  • Since the two mice we have in the mouse have the old serial connectors, I've been stuck with trackpad until I get a USB mouse. I eventually unplugged the wireless mouse receiver from the main compy and I'm using that, but it's a temporary solution.
  • I tried installing Windows Virtual PC now that I have Windows 7, but it seems the Home Premium version that I have doesn't support it. I need either Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Ultimate and upgrades start at 200 bucks. Bugger. I may just have to weigh it and not use the one program I'd need it for.

I think I'll let Mario explain

(for some reason you have to click the gif for it to run)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Vertigo Effect

Actually, that's not accurate. The Vertigo Effect (as shown here at 0:56, and discussed here) is when you zoom in while pulling back with a camera, creating a shifting field of focus. I only use the term because it's the closest I can come up with for what I'm trying to explain.

Basically, here's the gist. I don't get sick that often. Usually less than once a year (and I mean cold-sick, not I-have-a-migraine-can't-go-to-work). I was sort of sick in June for about a week (in which I was sniffy and sore throated, but not badly enough to not go to work, which was a gyp), then got over it and infected Tanja, who was promptly sick for a month. Yesterday I had sore sinuses, and in the evening got a sore throat and a runny nose. I took a Lemsip and went to bed.

This morning at 6:38 am I knew I was sick. Was it that my symptoms had worsened? Yes.

But the real reason I knew?

I began to have Zooming Waking-Dreams.

Yeah, see why I called it the Vertigo Effect? Much catchier.

So what happens is thus: I wake up, but still feel exhausted. So I lie there with my eyes closed, and my mind wanders. As my brain flicks through subjects, occasionally I'll see a picture related to that subject. But as my mind moves on, my mind's eye will not. The picture will remain. And my mind's eye will zoom closer and closer to one insignificant part of the picture with little in it. And I don't mean I picture a scene and go into it, like a movie, I mean it's exactly like holding up a magazine and moving the picture closer until it fills your field of view. And in and in, and then it'll snap back to the full picture. Then zoom in slowly again. Over and over. The only way to break the cycle is to open my eyes, but as soon as I close them, back to the picture. To occasionally make it more infuriating, sometimes the picture will come with a bit of music or a line of spoken dialogue that will repeat over and over as the picture zooms in.

Drive you crazy? Oh yes it might.