Friday, April 03, 2009

What awaits...

...at the intersection of cute and killer?

Check out today's episode of "The Rack" to find out.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

WWJB? - First in a Series

I am having one of those days where my mind in jumping from item to item and I can not seem to form a coherent thought. This means I have had a couple of stupid-crazy ideas so far today, one of them being compiling a list of things I would buy if I won the lottery. Of course I can't concentrate on this list long enough to make it past the first few items but it occurs to me that this list might be fun to keep therefore I am going to do this list as a series of totally random posts on the Opiate entitled WWJB? or "What Would James Buy?"

Now I would like to present #1 on the WWJB list: A Godzilla Suit.

Why? Because nothing says excess like taking care of mundane chores dressed as Godzilla. Plus I would be about 1/3rd of the way towards hosting my Godzilla-theme party where the attendees have the opportunity to dress as Godzilla and destroy parts of Tokyo.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Random Panels - Justice League of America #29


Usually I post panels here that strike me as funny however I just wanted to post this panel which demonstrates what makes comics fun: you can do ANYTHING and the audience buys it. There was not a moment when I saw this panel where I thought, "WTF?!?" This sense of the impossible being possible is something I think the most recent incarnation of the Superman movie franchise lost. This is not to say I did not like the film, to the contrary I REALLY like Singer's Superman, however I think the movie could have used a bit more of this and a bit less of the Dark Knight-esque angst.

From "Star Struck" in the 29th issue of the latest incarnation of Justice League of America.
Len Wein, writer
Chris Cross (makes me want to jump jump), pencils
Rob Stull with Chris Cross (who still makes me want to jump jump), inks

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Shadowrun@20

This past week I learned that Shadowrun, my most favoritest RPG EVAR, turns 20 this year. I have no idea why this was such a surprise as I have been playing the game since I was in high school. Of course it may have been a surprise since I still think of myself as 18 and the thought that I started high school over 20 years ago now is really, really depressing.

Anyhoo, as part of the celebration* the Shadowrun developers, now at Catalyst Game Labs, are throwing open the gates and having an open call for anniversary adventures. Here is part of the call from the website:
Shadowrun has enjoyed enormous fan support over the years and many of our current freelancers have come up from the fanbase. So, we’ve decided to try something different this year and give our fans the chance of contributing a little something to the official Shadowrun universe. To celebrate 20 years of Shadowrun, Catalyst Game Labs is inviting fans to submit a proposal for a fully developed, standalone adventure which will be published as an e-book. Furthermore, we’re specifically looking for proposals that play off the stories, plots, and adventures released in Shadowrun’s early years.
I don't know where my adventure notes are, but I do have rather fond memories of an adventure that Jack and I co-GMed back in the day. I might just try and dust off those memories and see if I can get the requisite materials put together before the March 15th deadline**. Personally I think they ought to do this every year but that is just me.

For those of you who might doubt my 'runner cred, I offer this picture of my library of Shadowrun RPG books:


I am only missing some of the newer 4th edition books. Not pictured is my complete collection of the Ka-Ge and Shadowland magazines, my Denver and DMZ boxed sets, and the smattering of Shadowrun novels which I own.


* One of these times I would like to see someone totally blow off the 20th anniversary and have an EPIC blowout for the 21st anniversary.

** If Jack or any of my old players want to help with this, give me a call or shoot me an email.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Random Thought - 2-27-08

In order for this to be funny you need to know that today was Go Texan Day around the office since the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which will be the bane of my commuting existence for the next month, is about to get underway. Thus some people around the office were dressed a little more cowboy than usual.

Earlier today as I was talking with a coworker I heard the distinct sound of slapping coming from one of the lawyers offices and the first thought that went through my mind was, "Man, I did not know that the release of Brokeback Mountain changed the meaning of 'cowboy up' to THAT."

Some days my head hurts me in ways only therapy might be able to heal.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Random Panels - Jack of Fables #30

I thought this panel was appropriate in light of President Obama's speech last night.

From the ALWAYS excellent and highly recommended Fables, in this case issue #30, "The Book of Restoration"
Matthew Sturges & Bill Willingham, writers
Russ Braun, pencils
Jose Marzan, inks

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Halloween 1977

I mentioned the FLICKR group Growing Up Star Wars in a linkbloggery post from last month. Flipping through the pictures in this group filled me with jealousy at the awe-inspiring collections of Star Wars toys some of this kids managed to accumulate but more importantly it reminded me of two Halloween costumes my parents built for me or helped me to build. The first was an R2-D2 costume back in 1977. The second was a Yoda costume in '81 or '82.

I asked my mom if she had any pictures of these costumes and as it turns out she had a few of James as R2-D2 which I thought I would share with you guys. Sadly mom has not been able to find any pictures of James the Jedi Master.









Monday, February 23, 2009

Why They Love Monty Python

How can I follow up that awesome Christmas gift I gave you guys? Well, I thought you might find this interesting:



Thanks to Norm over at Onegoodmove.org!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I <3 LEGO

Lately there seems to have been a flurry of LEGO related posts showing up across the internets and since I am a follower rather than a leader I thought I would throw some of my favorites here for your enjoyment:

1. LEGO Twin Peaks courtesy of Matt, whose GN Strangeways: Murder Moon you should go forth and purchase. I have never seen ANY Twin Peaks so I can't speak to how authentic this is, however this made me chuckle and thus is worth sharing.




2. Generally abstract art, and particularly abstract sculpture, just bugs the C-R-A-P out of me, however when you make your abstract art out of LEGO, like this guy did, all is forgiven.


3. I can't remember where I found this gallery, but Yamato + LEGO? There is nothing that is not awesome here:


You ought to check out some of fvin's other Brickshelf galleries as well. He has some pretty cool stuff including a few Gundams and a Patlabor.


4. Finally thanks to my buddy Don and the powers of Gizmodo I got to see this. Since it was a slow day seeing that led to finding this, this, this, this, and this via Google. About my only complaint is that people post these PHENOMENAL creations but do not then create sets of instructions for them. I realize part of the fun of LEGO is creating your own stuff, or having Shaq fight sharks, but there are times when I just want to build something new without having to figure things out.


Oh, one last thing, if you are a LEGO fan, then you want to check out TwoMorrows Publishing, publishers of BrickJournal which they describe as "The Magazine for LEGO Enthusiasts!" I picked up a recent issue and enjoyed the art and the articles although, once again, I wish there were more directions.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bigger and Better

As Wil often says, we're living in the future and thanks to this guy the future is bigger and better:



Thanks to Danny Choo for pointing this out.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

If

This would be funnier if it was not so true.


From the Feb. 1st edition of the Salt Lake Tribune. Found via The Big Picture, my favorite econoblog.

Thoughts RE: Twitter

Despite being a geek and loving technology, I tend to be a late adopter when it comes to new technology. I did not own a cellphone until late in 2005 and, despite having owned two of them now, have yet to actually purchase a Blackberry. I did not purchase an iPod until late in 2006. I was not on MySpace until a "friend" created an account for me alleging I was a 16-year-old gay boy from Alaska. Both of my laptops and both of my desktops have been, like both of my Blackberrys, hand-me-downs from friends or, even better, friend's companies.

I think this is largely driven by the fact that I rarely see the utility of all these wonderful toys that people keep releasing unleashing on the public. Another factor that drives this is that I like my technology to work the way it is meant to work and, as intelligent early adopters know, there are going to be kinks which need to be worked out with any bit of tech. Then there is the whole price penalty for being an early adopter and, deep down inside, I am a cheap bastard. But to be honest this has wandered away from the point a bit, which is my somewhat random thoughts on Twitter as I give in and sign up for an account.

I am not certain when Twitter first popped up on my radar. I think it was when one of my coworkers proposed that our team use this to give each other updates on where we were. Since we all have offices within about 200 feet of each other this idea was quickly shelved. (Of course the coworker in question is pretty much the LINUX guy from this TrueNuff Mac commercial spoof and feels the need to incorporate WAY too much tech into our processes. We call him The Complicator.) As Twitter has further penetrated the geek culture to which I pay some modicum of attention it has continued to pop up on my radar intermittently until last month (or maybe it was December) when it finally came up at the office in a legitimate context.

Now in order to answer some of the questions regarding Twitter that came up in this discussion at the office, I find myself creating an account. I was poking around the site when I came across this:

With Twitter, you can stay hyper-connected to your friends and always know what they're doing...Twitter puts you in control and becomes a modern antidote to information overload.

Wait, what? The VERY same product that allows me to stay "hyper-connected" is also a "modern antidote to information overload?" Is it just me or do those two things seem to be EXACT OPPOSITES and, at least to my small mind, mutually exclusive.

Oh well, you can follow me by searching for my name, with initial, or you can view my tweets via http://twitter.com/funkywoodjam.

I think.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Random Panels - Nightwing #150

"Hey! You got your Batman in my Star Trek!"
"No, YOU got YOUR Star Trek in my Batman!"
Oh, who really cares. A red shirt reference is ALWAYS appreciated by this geek.

From Nightwing #150, "The Great Leap: Conclusion" part of the Batman R.I.P. story arc.
Peter J. Tomasi, Writer
Don Kramer, Penciller
Jay Leisten & Rodney Ramos, Inkers

Saturday, February 14, 2009

TRON v. Depeche Mode



I found this video while cleaning up my backlog of unread posts at io9 and thought it was worth sharing with those of you who might not read io9.

Friday, February 13, 2009

STFU Files: Lucie J. Kim

I HAAAAAAATE it when I actually agree with Michelle Malkin but in this case I think I am in lock step (or is that goose step?) with her. Apparently Lucie "Who the FUCK spells my first name like that" J. Kim is offended by a photo of Mylie Cyrus making racially insensitive faces and, as any reasonable American, she is suing for something on the order of $4 BILLION dollars. Now I do not condone Mylie's behavior in the photo but for Christ's sake, the girl is 16. She is going to do dumb things. Of course according to this article at TMZ, the Mylie's just a kid defense won't work because, "She [Kim] says it's like Paris Hilton claiming to be just a kid." Of course this is ignoring the, I believe somewhat pertinent fact, that Paris Hilton is 27 or, for those of you keeping score at home, ELEVEN years older than Mylie.

Part of me wants to rant on and on and on about this, but considering the way this week went, it is just misplaced rage, so I will just say that Lucie J. Kim please sit down and SHUT THE FUCK UP. This is exactly the sort of infantile bullshit that we don't need right now.

Thanks to Robert over at The Marmot's Hole for bringing this perfectly reasonable use of the legal system to my attention.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Random Panels - Secret Six #2

While I prefer "pills" or "twig and giggle-berries" I suppose "ornament-things" works just as well.

This week's edition is brought to you courtesy of:
Gail Simone - Writer
Nicola Scott - Penciller
Doug Hazlewood - Inker

Monday, February 09, 2009

Sharks in the Water

Since I can't read Magyar, I have no idea what this article is about, however I assume it is about how awesome this photograph is:



Just thought this was worth sharing!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Things I Learned Today

1. There is a picture of Michael Phelps taking a hit from a bong floating around.
2. In response to this picture Kellogg has canceled his contract as a spokesfish.
3. People, presumably of the stoner bent, are trying to organize a boycott of Kellogg.
4. Kellogg manufactures something named Screaming Fruit Winders for the UK market.
5. Kellogg USED to manufacture a cereal named Puffa Puffa Rice.

My thoughts on this new knowledge:

1. WTF did you think a swimmers drug of choice would be? PCP?
2. Couldn't care less.
3. Like that crowd can organize anything for more than 10 minutes. I bet this boycott doesn't last past, oh I dunno, 5:30 pm. Right about when the munchies hit.
4. I don't care what a Screaming Fruit Winder actually is, it sounds F-I-L-T-H-Y; like Sheboygan Side-by-Side filthy.
5. Kellogg ought to bring back this cereal and have Michael Phelps be the spokesmerman for that line.



Or they could change the name to Puffa Puffa Pass cereal.

That's gold Jerry.

Hawaiian gold!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

STFU Files: Joe the Plumber

Okay would someone please let Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher know that in this economy fifteen minutes is fifteen minutes? I know we have seven billion stations on the air which need to fill 24 hours with news, but sweet monkey Jebus, do we really need to keep hearing from this douchebag? I wanted to throw uneducated in front of douchebag but figured that someone would throw my lack of college degree back in my face so we'll just have to agree that Joe (or is it Samuel?) has all the intellectual curiosity of a gently stewed rutabaga.

To be honest the fact that he manages to remain in the public eye does not bother me as much as the fact that people seem to be taking him seriously. I mean bringing us the continuing adventures of Joe and Douchebag is one thing (although I would prefer we dedicate our precious national resoucres (read: airwaves) to the inevitable Paris Hilton v. Britney Spears v. Hillary Duff v. Christina Aguilera v. Lindsey Lohan pudding match) but inviting this guy to address the Republican Congressional leadership? Are you fucking kidding me? If this isn't the continuation of some massive piece of conservative performance art which began with the naming of Govv. Palin as Senator McCain's runningmate, then it better have been improv night at this meeting. At this point if they think Chucklehead Wurzelbacher would have anything substantive or useful to say, well, lets just say I am glad they don't have the keys to the castle any more.

Here is current media crush Rachel Maddow on the subject:




And here is a slightly more light-hearted take on the situation from Jon Stewart over at The Daily Show:



Seriously Joe, help a brother out and give our national stage back to vapid blondes babes with, ahem, talent.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Torchwood: Children of Earth Trailer



I am pretty excited about this! Hopefully the series will maintain the tone of the trailer, which many have pointed out is more X-Files than Dr. Who. In my humble opinion that is one of the best things about the trailer. I always felt that Torchwood wanted to be The X-Files with incidental Who, and there are some episodes which rise to that level. Hopefully this series will mark the coming of age of Torchwood which, of course, means we won't get any more Torchwood after this.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Faceless Artist

Thanks to Robert over at The Marmot's Hole who pointed out this piece from the International Herald Tribune. The article is about Sun Mu, a North Korean artist who left the DPRK* in 1998 and arrived in South Korea in 2001, and how his art speaks to the Korean condition. While I found the article somewhat interesting, what really wowed me was Sun Mu's art. My tastes in art tend to run towards the more commercial art; movie posters, illustrations, and the like. This includes propaganda posters. I LOVE me some propaganda posters! One day I hope to have the scratch to pick up some vintage Soviet or WWII propaganda posters. This brings us back to Sun Mu. When he was in North Korea, his artistic training was specifically so he could paint murals and other propaganda pieces for the government and, unsurprisingly, this shows through in his work, some of which you can view at his blog.



* Why is it that communist and totalitarian regimes almost always have the word Democratic in their official names? This seems to be the same naming logic that gave us the Patriot Act and the Defense of Marriage act.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Random Panels - Wonder Woman #27

Initially I had something else picked out for this edition of Random Panels, however as I was catching up on my comics reading this week I stumbled across this bit of brilliance from Wonder Woman #27. While I am not as big a fan of sound effects as some, I absolutely LOVE it when they are incorporated into the art in interesting or innovative ways and this certainly qualifies.

I also thought this would be an excellent opportunity to point out just how much I like Donna Troy's costume:


There is something about the stars being incorporated into the fabric that I really like.

This installment is brought to you by:
Gail Simone, writer
Aaron Lopresti, penciler
Matt Ryan, inker

Friday, January 30, 2009

Animated Videos 2 - Electric Boogaloo

Thanks to Katy C and VH1 I have a couple of updates to my Animated Videos post from the 19th!

First up is Paula Abdul's "Opposites Attract" which topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for three weeks back in February of 1990 and then went on to win a Grammy. Featuring an animated cat, MC Skat Kat, who was voiced by Bruce DeShazer and Marv Gunn, the song is about how despite their differences Paula and Mr. Kat are perfect for each other:



I have to admit that hearing this song brings back some memories as I was in high school at the time. For some reason I STRONGLY associate the first Paula Abdul song I can recall hearing, "Straight Up," with riding the bus to school in the mornings. Boy isn't that a pleasant memory? And even though the video is not animated, I thought I would go ahead and share it here just because I can and lets face it, if you were a teenage boy at the time odds are you had a thing for Paula:



Of course I was more of a Samantha Fox boy myself. I mean how could you be in the throes of puberty and NOT find this inspiring:



After all we have chains, dodgy dance moves, a lingerie clad female, suit pants that are too short; what's not to like?

Okay, back to the subject at hand: animated videos!

Katy C also reminded me of Dire Straits' immortal song "Money for Nothing." This is the one that I could not believe I forgot about! I do not really think anything else needs to be said about this classic:


Watch Dire Straits - Money for Nothing in Music Videos  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com


This brings us to the video I only saw this past week when I made it in to the gym and was able to workout during the five minutes a day when VH1 is playing music videos rather than crapping up the universe with more quasi-reality TV shows. The video for Kanye West's "Heartless":



The rotoscoped character animation calls to mind Ralph Bakshi's work, in particular American Pop:



Of course whenever I think of Ralph Bakshi I think of his 1978 adaptation of the first half of The Lord of the Rings. One of the earliest memories I have is of my dad taking me to see that movie when we lived in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Oh well, I hope you enjoyed this rather meandering trip through some music videos. Let me know if you think of any other animated videos which are worth sharing.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rachel Maddow and Power

Last night I caught this bit on the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC last night:



While she makes the segment a little more about the stimulus package, which I think is very important, however I found her discussion about the security issue interesting. We HAVE been told that we need to worry about terrorist strikes against our infrastructure and yet there is no mass panic because, even though some people are going to be without electricity for a few weeks, this was expected. It reminded me of the Joker's speech from The Dark Knight where he talks about plans and how when things go to plan, no matter how grotesque the plan is, people don't panic. I think the example of weather-related utility failures is an even more interesting example than the ones offered up by the Joker in light of how we have been told we need to fear utility outages as a result of terrorist action.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

John Williams, Aaron Copland and "Simple Gifts"

One of my favorite parts of the inauguration ceremonies this past week was the performance of "Air and Simple Gifts" by the quartet of Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, who are two of my favorite musicians, Anthony McGill, and Gabriela Montero.



I missed the introduction of the piece and for several days thought it was just a very inventive redux of Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring, which is one of my favorite pieces of classical music and arguably Copland's most recognizable composition after Rodeo: Hoe-down which was popularized by the National Cattleman's Beef Association "Beef: it's what's for dinner" commercials from several years back.

I just thought I would use this as an excuse to share one of my favorite performances of Appalachian Spring since I have not been able to get it out of my head since the inauguration. Performed by the Garfield Cadets, now just The Cadets, in 1987, the show below garnered the Garfield Cadets their fourth DCI championship in five years. I love how this arrangement states the major theme in a bold, brassy, in your face way about a minute in to the performance and then returns to that theme in a similar manner with a crescendo which begins at about 3:14 of the second video and then pays off in spades when the corps hits the power formation at 3:36. It blows me away EVERY time I listen.

Now without further gilding the lily and certainly no more ado, I give you part one of their performance:



And part two:



For those of you who are interested this performance is available from the DCI shop on DVD. Sadly the DCI does not seem to still have their Collector's Series of CDs in print at the moment, however I found a "Cadets of the 80s" CD on Bandgeek.com which should have this performance.

If you just want some straight Aaron Copland, I think you would be challenged to find a better recording than Copland: The Music of America which was recorded by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. This CD is available via Amazon or, I am certain, your online music vendor of choice, or for those of you in the Houston area I encourage you to go and hit Joel's Classical Shop on Shepherd. It is one of those local gems which we should all be supporting.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Go Forth and Waste Time

Looks like I am in for a busy week both at the office and at the casa so here are some links to keep you occupied until I can get back to writing something of substance:

Now I have heard of mash-ups in the music scene (speaking of which the Best of Bootie 2008 CD is available for download here) and with movie trailers and the like, however I have NEVER heard of taking, oh, for example, a classic video game and a classic rock band, throwing them in the proverbial blender and seeing what comes out the other side but that is EXACTLY what the kids over at Shitbagz.com did. Taking the awesome that is Asteroids, a video game which I can still spend hours sucking at, and the awesome that is Van Halen, and I mean Dave "I'm Just a Gigolo" Lee Roth Van Halen and not the crap fest that was Sammy Hagar Van Halen, they have come up with Assteroidz - The Diamond Dave edition. There is really nothing else to say except go forth and play before, as Wil says, some asshat with no sense of humor serves the creators with a cease and desist.

Meanwhile over on the east coast Kevin has been experimenting with what the kids call user-generated content. First he asks his readers to come up with one-sentence pitches for existing franchises. Then he asks his readers to create a solicitation for a trade paperback collection which fills a void in the current crop of trades. Both of these comment threads are well worth reading and contain some comedy gold. And for the record I would shell out my hard earned shekels for the Hitman Omnibus, Essential Shang-Chi, and this Inspector Gadget series. Oh, and this.

While we are on the comics tip, check out this promotional clip for the soon to be taking over the world Watchmen:



I will cop to being far more excited about this movie than I should be considering I only JUST got around to reading the comics last year. So far everything I have seen and heard coming from the production crew on this movie does nothing but make me more excited to see this movie. As for it being THE unfilmable comic book? Well personally I do not buy the idea of a work being unfilmable since the very act of adapting a novel/comic/doodle in to a movie transforms the work in to something completely different. Of course there are going to be people who think Zack Snyder has failed or has done something wrong, however I am looking forward to seeing this movie and my desire to see it is divorced from whether I like the comic or not.

Now back to the salt mines!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Big Man Japan



This looks truly horrible awesome and I hope it is coming to a theater near me!

Here is a slightly different trailer:



And here is the German trailer:



Or should that have been heer?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Random Panels - Birds of Prey #124

I know! Sheesh! Personally I blame the Wachowski's, Mistah J!


This installment of Random Panels comes from Birds of Prey issue #124 "Smile for the Birdie."
Written by Tony Bedard
Pencilled by Claude St. Aubin
Inked by John Floyd

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Brief Note On "Legion"

So I have spent most of the evening catching up on my watching of the television, knocking out episodes of Chuck, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Smallville while doing some LONG overdue maintenance on my inline skates. (ABEC-9s BITCHES!) I wanted to jot down a quick note on a moment from the 11th episode of the season, "Legion" which I believe may be a contender for F*@% YEAH status. (For more on what may constitute a F*@% YEAH moment, please consult this link and this link.) The moment starts at about the 4:15 minute mark of this clip:



Now I have to admit that I am enough of a fanboy to think that there have been a lot of cool moments in the Smallville series. I think my two favorites are the line in 5th episode of season 4, "Run," where Bart Allen says, "See if there is anyone else out there like us, maybe start, like, a club or a league or something," and the moment in the 17th episode of the 2nd season, "Rosetta," when they introduced Christopher Reeve as Dr. Virgil Swann.

For those of you who are not familiar with DC comics, Bart Allen is a kid from the 30th century who was sent back in time to Wally West who, at the time, was The Flash. Bart eventually became The Flash after Wally West disappeared with his family during the events of Infinite Crisis and is then killed by the Rogues in the final issue of The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive miniseries. Now that I have over explained that, the reason Bart, or in this case the person who we can assume one day becomes the Flash, saying something about forming a club or a league to Clark is because both Superman and The Flash are founding members of the Justice League of America. (The other original members were Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter.)

Now if I really have to explain why the introduction of Christopher Reeve was a F*@% YEAH moment, then you are clearly an idiot. I feel it is safe to say that for my generation Christopher Reeve IS Superman. In addition to Christopher Reeve's mere presence, the music in the scene starts to incorporate the theme penned by John Williams for the Superman movie. Through the scene the theme appears in the background, mostly on woodwinds if I am not mistaken, and then, just before the commercial break, it builds to a trumpet fanfare of that theme. Again I feel safe in saying that John Williams' theme for the movie helped define Superman for my generation.

Now I have a much harder time explaining, even to myself, why I think the reveal of the members of the Legion of Superheroes in "Legion" was so cool. I have never read a lot of the Legion books, although I am trying to complete my run of the Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning run which began with the Legion Lost miniseries in 2000. The Legion is something I have always thought was an EXCELLENT concept however the execution often lacked the cool factor one would want from a legion of superheroes. Originally introduced in 1958's Adventure Comics #247 when Legion memebers Saturn Girl, Lightning Boy, and Cosmic Boy travelled back in time to recruit Superboy, who was the initial inspiration for the Legion. The Legion proved to be so popular that rather than just being a one-off encounter, they started to appear in more and more stories. They became a regular feature in Adventure Comics #300 sharing space with solo Superboy stories until they displaced him entirely some years later. Of course in time the Legion was replaced, relegated to the D-list for some time until 1973 when they started receiving front cover billing once again when Superboy became Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes and then, in 1980, Superboy was dropped from the title and the Legion finally had their own, self-titled book.

As I said, I really can not point to one reason why I like the reveal so much. Part of it is because I am a HUGE geek and I appreciate that the first three Legionnaires we get to meet are the original three from Adventure Comics #247. Another part of it is that as much as I will complain about how interconnected comics have become, something which can make it challenging for new readers to jump in to the mix, I do like that these things take place in a larger universe. One final reason is that for some inexplicable reason I really like the Legion's flight ring and totally want one of my own.

You can currently watch the entire "Legion" episode here on the CW's website, however since this is the only full episode they have up for Smallville, I expect that it may not be up for long.

And one final note, which is apropos of nothing, Kristen Kreuk as Lana Lang is H-O-T in this episode. As much as I love Allison Mack, I might have cheated on her a little in my mind during this episode. Sorry Allison!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Animated Videos

After I posted the stop-motion animation video this past Saturday I was trying to think of different music videos which were either animated or in which animation plays a big part. The first two that spring to mind are the videos for Matthew Sweet's "Girlfriend" and A-ha's "Take On Me."

Despite being slightly more obscure, for some reason the video for Matthew Sweet's 1991 hit "Girlfriend," from the album by the same name, was the first song to occur to me when I thought up this little project.



I suspect this has to do with the animation used for the video itself; that is to say due to my love for anime, this video's use of animation from Space Adventure Cobra is more significant to me and thus more memorable. We were still four years away from the domestic release of Sailor Moon, which I consider the watershed moment for anime in the United States, and while one could find anime if one knew where to look in 1991, it was still very unusual to see anime or anime-influenced materials out in the wild that were not already familiar shows such as Robotech, Speed Racer, Battle of the Planets, and so on. On top of that, it is around this time period that I started to pay more attention to popular music, having been forbidden to listen to "the Devil's music," a restriction that seems kind of strange considering how big a fan of ABBA my mother happens to be, and Matthew Sweet's sound was distinctive enough to stand out from the other crap being played on the Top 40 radio stations to which I was listening. Hell, I still love that album almost twenty years later.

I do not know what to say about the A-ha video that has not already been said by people far more knowledgable than I. The amalgation of animation and live-action was groundbreaking in 1985 and, aside from the TRAGIC style choices, is still a very cool video today.



After ruminating on this for a couple of hours, the only other animated video I could think of is the video for "Fell In Love With a Girl" by the White Stripes. I do not know why this did not occur to me sooner as it combines a pretty decent song, which is now stuck in my head, with Lego and I LOVE Lego.



And that is it, kids. I am SURE there are some animated music videos out there that I am missing. Probably some REALLY obvious ones. If you guys can think of videos I missed, leave 'em in the comments and I will do a follow-up post here in a week or two.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

WTF Files - Facebook Advertising

I am guessing that the combination of having my sex, male, and relationship status, single, is what drives the almost constant parade of "score dates now!!!" ads with pictures of rather well endowed young women on the right side of the Facebook display. I am willing to suffer through this as they eye-candy is about as good as it gets during the work day, although I have always been a little suspicious of whether the hotties advertised are actually available through the various sites which pimp "Hot Christian Girls," which lets face it EVERY guy reads as "Yummy Catholic School Girls-R-Us" (or is that just me?). They are a little TOO pretty and a little TOO busty for me to believe.

Now I finally have proof that my suspicious were not completely unfounded as this series of pictures appeared on my Facebook page just an hour ago:


Take a look at the girl in the center photograph. Before anything else I have to say that I would LOVE to date a chick who could pull off a form-fitting garment with such, well, curvaliciousness, and I do like the short hair, but she might look familiar to a few of you out there. No? Perhaps this picture will help you out:


Still drawing a blank? Fine, hows about this picture:


Yeah, according to the Facebook advert, the H-O-T-N-E-S-S that is Jolene Blalock, who played the Vulcan T'Pol in Enterprise, is single and Christian. I can't speak to the Christian bit; however I am pretty sure she is still married to her music exec husband, Michael Rapino. (If not, she is welcome to give me a call. I am youngish, available, willing to be a happy house-husband and I TOTALLY make her look even hotter by comparison.

I was thinking of writing something about the attractiveness of dating a Vulcan here, but when I had it done it just made me sound kind of pathetic so I think I will just leave well enough alone; although there is something attractive about dating a girl who isn't going to get all emotional on your ass.

Oh yeah, because I love you guys here is a link to a collection of Jolene Blalock galleries. Don't say I never did anything for you chuckleheads!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Random Linkbloggery and YouTubing

Here is some random stuff I have stumbled across in the past week that I thought you kids might find interesting.

Wil pointed us all to the FLICKR group Growing Up Star Wars where one can add their pictures of Star Wars related shenanigans. Original triology only, please. The person who posts the first Jar Jar Binks will be summarily executed.

One of the cats over at the Star Trek Phase 2 forum pointed out these Trek motivational posters. While on the whole they are not as amusing as these motivational posters and a bit flatulence-centric even for my tastes (and that is saying something), this one, this one, and this one had me laughing till I cried. Of course here is my entry in to the realm of Star Trek motivational posters:


Then there is this bit of genius from Terry over at Bent Objects. I keep meaning to write about how much I LOVE his art but thing like YouTube and the Google machine keep distracting me. Bastards! Personally I am looking forward to his forthcoming book and have a no longer secret desire to commission the topper for my wedding cake from this guy.


Nikki shared this bit from YouTube which, I feel, truly demonstrates how I approach humor. About two minutes in this thing gets old but then by the end of the clip I found myself laughing so hard I almost peed myself:



And then, courtesy of Kevin, there is this video from Rex The Dog:


Bubblicious from Rex The Dog on Vimeo.


I really like the low tech approach to what a song which is some where on the borderlands of electronica. This also reminded me of what a friend once told me when I was pitching a stop-motion animation idea his way: "Stop-motion is something you do when your girlfriend has dropped your ass and all you can do is lock yourself in a room for six months. Normal people can't do it."

An item which is completely unrelated to anything else here. It just came to my attention that South Korea has a Ministry of Knowledge Economy. I cannot decide whether this sounds deliciously Orwellian or deliciously Stalinist, however I love the name and this it is tasty either way.

Someone should buy me this to go with my little Takeda Shingen helmet I bought when I was in Japan. Ever since I read The Samurai's Tale by Erik Christian Haugaard I have been fascinated by Japan, samurai culture, and specifically the rise and fall of Takeda Shingen. Heck, my favorite Kurosawa film, Kagemusha, deals with the aftermath of Takeda Shingen's death. If you have even the tiniest of desires to check out either the book or the movie, I can unreservedly recommend both of them and I'll let you in on a little secret; they both make me cry.

A couple of weeks ago Danny Choo of Tokyo Dance Trooper fame made a post titled "Tokyo Photo Walk 3" to his blog however since his blog is blocked by the Websense firewall at work, I only just got around to reading this post. While I love the pictures and am jealous of his mad night-photog skillz, it is the text which really spoke to me. In the text he talks about fear and not letting fear limit you, something that I struggle with every day. You ought to bop on over there and check it out. Of course clearly the guy who can do this has no fear:



Okay, I have watched this more than once since it popped up on the net and I just noticed something. After the Shibuya 109 title, right at the 1:10 mark of the video, watch the couple entering from the right of the screen. On one foot the guy has a normal shoe and but WTF is on his right foot? Also I have totally been to Hachiko crossing!

Thanks for the encouraging words and dance moves Danny!

Friday, January 16, 2009

An A Cappella Tribute to John Williams

Since I am going to spend this evening at Murder By the Book checking out the talk and signing by Tim Maleeny, whose debut novel Stealing the Dragon I HIGHLY recommend, I thought I would leave you kids with this:



I do not know how in the Hell I have not posted this before now, however for the one person who reads the Opiate who might not have seen this (Hi Mom!) here it is in all of its nerd-tastic glory.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tanked

My original plan for today was to write about my plans for the year, specifically my writing plans, however I just had a phone interview for a job I *REALLY* want and I think I seriously tanked it so I am going to write about that instead.

First let me say that I HATE HATE HATE phone interviews. I like to think of myself as a pretty good interviewer, however over the phone it is very difficult to get a read on the interviewer. In this specific case every time I would finish an answer there was, what seemed to me, a long pause before the guy asked his next question. If we were in the same room I would be able to tell if he actually expected more of an answer from me or was using the time to formulate his next question. In addition I cannot tell how I am playing to the crowd, as it were.

The long pauses after my responses to his questions were not the worst part. At one point he asked what I saw as the greatest risk involved in producing electronic documents, or ESI in the parlance of the courts, and my answer was perhaps the worst answer I could have given. Part of me just watched in horror as I totally went off the rails and gave three mostly contradictory answers. There were words coming out of my mouth and I just couldn't get them to stop. Fuck, I couldn't get them to stop. It was like I had never considered the question before but I have. The risks involved in producing ESI, actually minimizing those risks, is one of the central things I do in my current job. I was so horrified at my answer that I wanted to call him back, apologize for freezing under pressure and give him my real answer. Now it is all I can think about. GAH!

My real answer, for the curious, is that in my view the largest risk with producing electronic documents in native format is that you will end up producing metadata which will be harmful to your case but somehow slipped through the review process without being noticed. This metadata would most likely take the form of tracked changes in a document. When the reviewer reviewed the document the tracked changes were not marked as being on and therefore the reviewer just viewed the final version of the document. When the document arrives at opposing counsel they notice that the tracked changes are available to view and, wisely, take a look at them. There is actually a recent case, White v. Gaceland Coll. Ctr. for Prof'l Dev. & Lifelong Learning Inc., where this very instance could have taken place. The plaintiff claimed that she was terminated in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act and, if I recall properly as I do not have my notes on the case in front of me as I write this, that there was a change made in a job description, or something like that, and that the timing of this change was important to the case. In this case it is very easy for me to envision an instance where her allegations are true however the paralegal who is reviewing the job description documents, which are kept in Microsoft Word for sake of argument, is reviewing them in Summation. The paralegal can either opt to view the document via the Summation edoc viewer (which in my opinion is a pretty piss-poor tool for native review) or via the CTRL+L option which will launch the document in its native application, in this case Microsoft Word. In the case of Summation's edoc review tool, as far as I know, there is no indication that the document has tracked changes embedded in the document therefore should the paralegal review here, and I know plenty that do, the document would be marked as relevant and as it is most likely not subject to any sort of privilege, it would eventually be produced with the metadata intact and NEVER reviewed. When it comes to trial the plaintiff's counsel, if they have caught the tracked changes, can then take apart a witness on the stand or, if the tracked changes are that central to the case, perhaps force a settlement.

Oh well, now that I have said what I really think, I think I am going to go eat my salad and sack out. No real update from me tomorrow evening as I will be at a book signing, however on Saturday I think I will post my plans for 2009.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Early Thoughts on "Amusing Ourselves to Death"

One of the Christmas "traditions" that has cropped up in my family over the past decade is that books make up the VAST majority of the gifts my father gives me. This year the haul included My Boring Ass Life* by Kevin Smith, Homemade Hollywood by Clive Young, Her Majesty's Spymaster by Stephen Budiansky, How Fiction Works by yours truly**, and, finally, Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. Despite having plowed through, and enjoyed, the first three books on the list, as well as Rivals by Bill Emmott which I HIGHLY recommend, it is the final book in this list which has really grabbed my attention.

Amusing Ourselves to Death, whose subtitle is "Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business," was originally published back in 1985. Initially when I put the book on my Amazon wish list, from whence my dad did his Christmas shopping this year about two days before I cleaned it up and added a bunch of stuff, I had no idea it had been written over two decades ago. As I read the forward to the book, which I have reproduced below, I was chilled:

We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.

But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldus Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain.
In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.


As a consumer of HUGE quantities of media from books to movies to television, in fact Countdown with Keith Olbermann is on in the background as I write this, I find this line of reasoning rather chilling even if it goes along with something I have been thinking for some time. In essence I have felt, and may have complained about it on this blog, that for some time the public discourse in America had become painfully shrill, quite frankly was no longer civil. Of course as an alpha consumer of media I am complicit in the very thing which I decry, however I think the need to feed the 24 hour news cycle combined with the blurring of the lines between news and entertainment and the fact that the media treats consumers as though they have the attention span of a gnat has had a very negative effect on our public discourse. I am interested to see what Mister Postman has to say about this and even more interested to see what his take on it was while CNN and Headline News, then called CNN2, were still in their infancy.

Just thought I would let you guys know where my head is at in case there is a rash of meditations on modern media that end up being posted here over the next little while. I would also encourage EVERYONE out there to check this book out, despite only being about 20 pages in. I think Mr. Postman's voice and ideas are important for those of us living in the media circus world in which we live.

* This book continues my habit of buying books which consist of little more than blog posts dressed up to go to the Prom. Part of this stems from the slim hope that karmic payback might be in the offing and I can score a publishing deal at some point for all these random rantings of mine (I know I won't, but I can dream, can't I?) however the majority of the reason I continue to buy books which contain things I have already read for free on the internet is because these guys can just plain WRITE. Of particular interest in this volume is the nine-part series "Me and My Shadow" which, in the space of around 70 pages, chronicles Kevin's experiences with Jason Mewes' drug addiction. Check it out.

** This is a lie.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Most Honorable and Ancient Star Wars

I haven't got the words, really, just watch and be amazed:


Found at AltJapan. Thanks Matt!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Instant Karma

I can not remember which one of the multitude of role-playing games had the concept of instant karma. I believe it was the first edition of Shadowrun, however please do not hold me to that. In the game karma points are used to reward players for completing the adventure, good role-playing, and the like. These karma points could then be spent to improve the character or, in the case of instant karma, they could be spent during the course of the adventure to affect outcomes by either adding to the result of a die-roll or allowing the player to re-roll the attempt.

Sunday I got to see what I can only classify as instant karma in action.

I was hauling my butt over to Best Buy in order to engage in a little retail therapy. They were having a sale on a couple of DVD sets I wanted to buy (the 7th season of Smallville and the 1st season of Chuck) and, after thoroughly enjoying my weekend at Oni-con and finding myself laughing out loud at the first episode of Ouran High School Host Club (which can be viewed for free on the Funimation website), I decided it was time to delve back into anime and with the demise of Planet Anime, Best Buy seemed like the best place to go. It was with these thoughts of commerce in mind that I headed out. I generally do not use the freeways unless I am under a serious time constraint or my objective is truly the other side of town. This is not done out of a desire to avoid traffic or anything but rather because I really enjoy driving through the neighborhoods and shopping districts that are around my house. On this particular day I decided to take Binz/Bissonnet down to Buffalo Speedway before cutting over to Richmond. As I was heading up Buffalo Speedway and crossing the south-bound feeder for 59 some douche bag in a jacked-up pickup truck turned from the feeder onto Buffalo Speedway, cutting across two or three lanes of traffic and cutting me off, causing me to have to hop on the brakes.

At about the same time I hopped on the brakes, I hopped on the horn and gave the aforementioned douche bag The Bird.

Douchebaggins, as we shall now call this person, stomped on the gas and accelerated away from me, only to get caught at the light at Richmond where, as fate would have it, we were both turning left. My favorite cock-hobbit once again swung across all the lanes of traffic in order to beat everyone (read: no one) in to the far right lane. As we approached the light at Edloe, El SkiDouche was pulling the douchiest of maneuvers and riding in two lanes. Apparently unsatisfied with just the far right lane he felt the need to ride MOSTLY in his lane and a little in the lane to his left. There was a little swerving involved here as well which, had the vehicle in question NOT been a lifted-to-the-heavens truck, might have indicated the driver was trying to decide whether to stay in the right lane and get stuck in the line of traffic which was waiting at the red light or get in the left lane and skip around said traffic.

I could only watch in amusement as Herr Doktor Douche (of the Long Island Douches, I believe) started to slow just an INSTANT before he slammed in to the rear end of a car waiting at the red light. As I drove past, three lanes to the left, I saw bits and pieces of lights and bumpers spread across the ground and the douche shaking his head after it bounced off the airbag which had, I can only think, violently deployed and pimp slapped him into wakefulness/sobriety.

Now I can not tell you the number of times I have been driving, seen some no talent ass clown driving like this and wished that I was some sort of undercover or off-duty cop so I could drop a little bit of F-U into their lives for being a bad person and in my impotent rage I often think of how nice it would be to see this person get theirs, as it were but this is the only time I can think of where I have had the honor AND privilege to see karma in action*. Only later did two very important things occur to me. First, while karma might have gotten El Douche, the person/s in the other car may have just been innocent bystanders AND odds are that the truck did FAR more damage to the car than the car did to the truck. Second, by relishing the moment I am just tempting fate and that cannot be a good thing. Oh well.

* I have heard a couple of very good stories about karmic payback being a bitch, one of which involves this guy, V, his tent, a friend of mine who shall remain nameless and a WILDLY inappropriate menage a trios.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

High Kick Girl Trailer

This has been making the rounds on the internet for a little while now however it is too perfect not to share:



I will pose to you the same question Chris Sims, noted face kickery expert, posed to me:

Best movie ever?