Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Decade In Review.

The 2000's.

Yup, that happened.

Aw heck, I was going to leave this very short, but I'm starting to get all reminiscent.

This was a heck of a decade. There were some losses to my family that we are still feeling and some near losses but there were some new additions also.

I earned a Fine Art degree, and held a few different jobs.

I lost touch with some old friends but gained many many new friends.

I got to travel the world a bit, visiting New Zealand, London, Las Vegas and Philadelphia.

and most importantly:

I met my Lurve, moved into a new condo with my Lurve, got engaged to said Lurve and we'll be married Lurves by this time next year.

Happy New Year and here's to 10 more. For good or ill and to learning and growing.

*raises glass*

Monday, December 28, 2009

Movie Review: Avatar

Hello gang, I hope everyone had a nice X-Mas and are getting ready for a great New Years!

Yesterday, Elise and I walked up to the Capitol theater in Arlington to catch Avatar in 3D. We both weren't exactly taken with all the hype, but both felt that the technical achievements of the movie made it worth seeing in the theater in 3D instead of waiting for DVD. We were not disappointed.

The 3D was outstanding and almost completely immersive. I was only taken out of the experience when things like computer monitors were also displaying in 3D, it was so odd to see that I stopped focusing on the movie and focused on the monitor. It was perhaps a bit too cool of a visual.
The forest scenes were amazing and quite often nearly breathtaking.

The planet, Pandora was beautiful. The inhabitants were a weird mix of slightly familiar creatures with a twist and a HEAVY dose of deep sea creatures. This last part I found slightly distracting, some of the creatures were SO heavily deep sea that it took me out of the movie, while some others were so unusual that I wanted to see more of them!

The mix of live action and CGI was seamless. Absolutely seamless. The Na'vi each looked like individuals and the main characters all looked like their alien counterparts. It was almost too easy to forget that this wasn't some kind of amazing makeup and that the past 40 minutes was all computer imagery! When humans interacted with the Na'vi it was also completely believable. It was pretty astounding.
The eyes and those tiny facial movements and micro expressions that people make and that we don't necessarily consciously notice are what make CGI characters come to life and the Na'vi were absolutely life like.

The story is basically Dances With Wolves in space and was fairly stereotypical. This is not necessarily bad, it IS James Cameron after all, so you have to expect the movie to look better than it's written. The only really groan worthy part of the movie is the depiction of the bad guys. They're your basic mindless military and corporate slimes. Cameron pretty much just transplanted the jerks from Aliens straight into this movie. The bully's are all totally 1 dimensional and not much time is devoted to developing them, actually scratch that. NO time is devoted to developing them. For it's nearly 3 hours, only about 3 or 4 characters get any development time. But that's probably ok, there were a lot of people/characters running around and not all of them really had a lot to do. If they were each developed, the movie would have been 4-5 hours long! This is really a special effects movie and you just have to go with that.

So, to make a long review short, the movie may not be perfect but it is quite a lot of fun. The technical innovations that were created just for the movie well make the movie worth seeing in the theater. This WILL NOT be the same at home.

I give it a B+/A-

ps- I'm not sure if I'm looking forward to Na'vi cosplay at next years comic con's but there is no way we WON'T be seeing it. If it's done well, it'll be something to see. But, if it's not done'll be something to see.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Winter Festivals!

So I hope everyone is all caught up on their End of the Year/Holiday preparations. I know I finally am. I also have some time off coming up! Which means I should be able to get through some of those comics that have been mocking me. Which in turn, also means more comic blogs! ...don't hold me to that though.

But in the mean time, I have a new Baman Piderman video I wanted to bring to your attention!

Behold! The Epic: Baman Piderman: Happy Winter Friends, Part 1!

Can Baman and Piderman save poor ol' Pumpkin?! I'm dying to know too!

While we all wait for the next part, I hope you all have a safe and Happy Holidays! the way, if you haven't ever seen Baman Piderman, you may want to scroll down and see my other posts about it. Otherwise this cartoon is going to be indecipherable!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lesson: Magneto is a Dick.

I have been recording my collection of classic Marvel cartoons from VHS to DVD the past few days and I have had the chance to re-watch or at least re-listen to some odd happenings. For example, I present you:

Man! I thought Magneto was going to Hulk out for a minute there. I'm not even sure what I could possibly say that would be funnier than that video.

This is only the first few minutes of a 20 minute cartoon. It just gets weirder from there. Like, for instance, Magneto heading to the Baxter Building to take over leadership of the Fantastic Four because he feels he's more Fantastic than Mr. Fantastic. What a maroon!

So the lesson we have learned today?

Magneto is a Dick.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Clash of Comic Titans!

Boy, I wasn't sure I was ever going to get around to another one of these! I apologize for the lack of posts. I feel like I haven't had a whole lot of time for catching up on my new comics, let alone reminiscing about my older ones. I have finally had some time to do some reading and catching up, thanks to the long Thanksgiving weekend. I made a dent in the new books and was also able to make a decent dent in the new older comics I have acquired as of late. Speaking of which, I present to you a very recently acquired Bronze Age book:

The Invincible Ironman #54

I had been looking for this for a bit because it has the first appearance of Moondragon, who was once a member of Adam Warlock's Infinity Watch and keeper of the Mind Infinity Gem. She is also currently a member of the new Guardians of the Galaxy and I have lately been attempting to collect the first appearances of the Guardians. With the purchase of this book I am nearly done, but coincidentally the book I am most seeking out to complete my set is the elusive Ironman #55! Which contains the first appearance of Drax The Destoryer and one of my favorite villains, Thanos! Seeing as this particular issue of Ironman was drawn and written my Jim Starlin and has the first veiled appearance of a major baddie, it's pretty had to come by in decent shape and under $100. So the hunt continues.
Back to the issue at hand, so to speak. When we first see the future Moondragon she is calling herself, get this, Madame MacEvil. Madame MacEvil? Really? She didn't put much thought into that one did she? Anyway, she decides to pit Ironman and Namor against each other to see who is tougher. She uses her supercomputer (who she argues with the entire issue, because she gave it emotions and it's all uppity) to take control of Tony's armor and then force him to attack Namor! Namor being Namor, assumes this is further proof that the surface dwellers can't be trusted and just dives right into the fight. Poor Tony is held helpless as he pummels and is pummeled by his ally. Eventually he regains control and zooms off not even trying to apologize to Namor, who at this point is (pardon yet another pun) royally pissed and probably wouldn't listen to reason anyway.

The issue ends pretty much around there without much explained, aside from everyone going their separate ways. Thanks to the ever helpful Wiki, it turns out that Moondragon *ahem* Madame MacEvil is not actually evil, she's running around trying to find someone that's strong enough to combat and defeat Thanos. As to exactly why, well, hopefully that story will be told once I get my mitts on that Ironman #55. Until then, this has been the Goog and I'm outta here!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Guest Blog: Recipe Friday!

I have another guest blog up over at Journey of Will. This time it's my recipe for pickled ginger!

Head over and check it out!

Monday, November 9, 2009

New Logo!

Elise and I finally had a weekend where we had a free day. Well, aside from food shopping and some laundry at least, so we decided to make it a "Studio Day", which basically means we spend the day, as beautiful as it was out, inside working on some projects. I have been trying to redesign my Castle Thunder Graphics logo for some time without much luck, so I sat down to do more work on that and Elise focused on getting some knitting done.
I'm happy to say that I quickly found my stride and stumbled onto a design that I really enjoyed really quickly, thanks to some suggestions from Elise. Here you can see the new logo:

That's a pretty big change, but I was pretty sick of the old one. I think this design better represents my style of work, it's much more fun and light and clean.

Since I was on a roll, I decided I should update my web site with the new logo and while I was in there, I decided to update a few other things. I have stream lined the site a bit, I think it's a little cleaner looking but I do still want to get around to giving it a complete overhaul, but until then I'm pretty happy. Also, some stuff was shockingly out of date! It was really about time for a little house cleaning. Go check it out, and look for some new images, and let me know what you think!

p.s.- I also added a few new items to my Cafe Press store. Go check it out!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Wrap-Up!

So this year's Halloweeniversary was another fantastic time. Many costumes were worn and as always folks out did themselves. My personal favorite costumes were Buck Rogers and Wilma Deering. If Bob was not an owner, him and Erin easily would have won the costume contest. Fantastic!

Elise and I opted for an obscure video came, Plants Vs. Zombies. See below for pics:

Us recreating the epic struggle.

For next year, Sean and I have some major plans. These costumes may be our biggest effort, if we succeed, it may be the stuff of legend. Fingers crossed. We only have 363 days left to work on em!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Return of the Undead Blog! Zombies, Pt.3!

Happy Halloween Eve my little Hell-o-weenies! (Hell-o-? Forget it, I'm committing) Welcome to the latest and final part of my zombie movie blogs!
This blog will focus on the Modern Age of zombie movies, as defined by me. I'm thinking this blog will have more movies to talk about, so I'll keep each movie a bit more brief.

Let's get to it!

Modern Age

As I said the other day, the line for Silver and Modern is a bit vague but I'm drawing the line between Day of the Dead and today's first movie, "Return of The Living Dead". Both films were released in 1985. Return is a lot of fun, it plays as though what happened in Night of The Living Dead was based actual events that were later suppressed by the government. The film was a way to "hide out in the open". Some of the zombies that were later contained were sealed in containers to be shipped to government facilities, but a few were lost. One is discovered and the zombie is released and starts to wreak havoc and quickly starts turning others into zombies. My favorite part of this movie is the effects, the first barrell zombie is outstanding! It looks like a zombie right out of an EC horror comic!
The reason that I list this as the turning point to Modern is that they really supe up the zombies in these movies (there were a few sequels, none as good as this). The zombies are essentially unstoppable, taking out the brain doesn't do anything and each part of the zombie is capable of moving on it's own if hacked off. That is a bit too much for me in terms of believability, but it's still a whole lot of fun to watch. The other notable thing is that, to my knowledge, this is the first time that zombies are shown searching for brains. This never comes up in any of Romero's movies and isn't in official zombie cannon anywhere I know of, yet it's become a staple of zombiedom. One other notable point is that you see the zombies being clever, if you've ever read Marvel Zombies, then I think you'd find the zombies familiar.

1985 was a banner year for the undead because "Re-Animator" also came out. Re-Animator tells the gory story of Herbert West, who has been cooking up a serum to return the dead to life. Unfortunately this never works out the way he wants it to and the dead are usually hopelessly insane and violent. This is another one for those of us that like cult movies and a healthy dose of gore.

Here's a quick one, "Night of The Creeps" from 1986. Outer space slugs take over your brain, turning you into a zombie. It's a campy cult movie that actively tried to be a "B" movie and poked fun at a few other genre's. I haven't seen it in ages, but I loved it as a kid.

With this next entry, we return a bit back to the classic zombie. I mentioned this movie in my first post. It's Wes Craven's 1988 "The Serpent and the Rainbow". It makes the claim to be based off actual events, but that's pretty damn loosely. This is about an ethnobotanist that's investigating Clairvius Narcisse a man that was documented proof of zombieism. Or what was considered an actual zombie. The poor guy was poisoned by a voodoo priest, he was left in a state very similar to death but not actual medical death. When the poison wears off, he's left brain damaged upon waking due to lack of oxygen and is now a "zombie".
So the movie is loosely based upon the book of the scientists experiences in Haiti. But it's got zombies and is a call back to the Golden Age, so I have included it.

Next we'll walk over to an adaptation of Stephen King's scariest book, 1989's "Pet Sematary". I imagine everyone knows the story here, the Pet Sematary is actually an old and spoiled Mic Mac Indian burial ground. The ground has turned sour over time and sends those buried in it back to the person who put them in the ground. Unfortunately they are now completely evil. This is another step away from the classic zombie, but not a step far away. The undead still return from the grave and seek the living, but it's usually only their loved ones that "reap what was sown".

In 1990, George Romero's long time special effect make-up guy Tom Savini directed a re-make of "Night of The Living Dead". He updated the movie while keeping it very faithful to the original. The make-up effects are outstanding and the zombies are all very creepy looking. The major difference, character-wise, is that Barbara is not so helpless in the re-make. Here she quickly decides to have a hand in her own survival and becomes a bad-ass instead of sitting on the couch in shock mumbling to herself like in the original. I really enjoy this movie, but it's still pretty low budget. I'd call it "B+" instead of a "B" movie :)

"28 Days Later", Released in 2002. Great movie. Despite popular belief, there are NO ZOMBIES IN THIS FILM. Moving along.

Also in 2002, "Resident Evil". An adaptation of the video game of the same name. The game is chock full of zombies and did a great job of introducing zombies to a new generation and I would say single handedly started the zombie renaissance we are currently in. The movie had one short scene involving some zombies and was mostly a reason for the director to have his hot model wife run around in skimpy clothes....not that I'm against that. But it's not much of a zombie movie, the game is much creepier.

Ok, now we're venturing into controversy territory. Zack Snyder's 2004 re-make of "Dawn of The Dead". I actually signed an online petition against this. It's sacrilege! It's blasphemous! It was a big goddamn hit. It introduced us to the sprinting zombies, I'm still not crazy about this. Zombies are dead. They're rotting. They're not coordinated enough to run. Ok, I'll give you maybe right at first, but not all the time. Well, love em or hate em. Snyder gave em to us, no doubt also confusing the infected from 28 Days Later for the living dead. From now on, I'm coining the term "Snyderian" for fast zombies. You read it here first folks.
Ok, well, back to the movie a bit. I decided to give it a shot and I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't great, but it was actually pretty good. Snyder did some interesting things here and has gone on to continue to make some interesting things. I don't think Dawn needed a remake, you can't perfect perfection after all, but he did make an entertaining movie.

I think I'll finish my list up with this, Edgar Wright's "Shaun of The Dead", also released in 2004. This movie is fantastic and belongs on the list at the bottom only because (well aside from chronology) to truly enjoy it you have to have seen a few of the movies already on the list. I'm not saying you won't enjoy it otherwise, but you'll get a fuller understanding of what Wright was paying tribute to. They got everything right, it's damn funny, it's character driven, chock full of character development and the zombies are SLOW. There is nothing I don't like about this movie. Highly recommended.

Oh ok, a few more notes.

"Land of The Dead" (2005) Romero's return to his zombies. This time he shows us society attempting to build itself back up, but the zombies are still evolving. People are still too busy fighting among themselves to pay attention to what's happening in the world. It's pretty good, very gory and has some great scenes.

"I Am Legend" (2007) In the book, they were vampires. In the movie they were mutants, but looked vaguely like zombies and people refer to them as such. NOT ZOMBIES.

"Planet Terror" (2007) Part of the Grind House double feature, this was Robert Rodriguez's tribute to "B" movies. Hilarious and expertly crafted to be as cheezy as possible. A lot of fun. Does contain zombies!

"Diary of The Dead" (2007) Romero's most recent take on zombies, I haven't seen it yet. I have heard nothing good about it, unfortunately.

"Dead Snow" (2009) A Norwegian take on Nazi Zombies. I haven't seen it yet, but it's got some good reviews.

I think that just about covers it. Let me know what you think and if you think I missed anything.

Have a Happy Halloween everyone!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Zombies, Zombies, Everywhere! Pt.2

Today I continue on my review/list of movies I deem important to the Zombie genre. In the last post I talked about what I felt were the "Golden Age" movies, White Zombie, Plan 9 From Outer Space and Plague of the Zombies.

These movies all focused on the classic and well, true definition of a zombie, an undead slave. With the next few movies zombies have shaken off the shackles and are taking things into their own hands...namely your brains.

Silver Age

This next movie is THE zombie movie. Before this, as I stated above, zombies were always portrayed as slaves. Here they are horror, they are the embodiment of our fears of death, always slowly on our heels, relentless and unforgiving.
In 1968 George Romero gave us, "Night of The Living Dead". It was a small independent film that came out in black and white when most other movies had made the switch to color. It was not received well, critics panned it but it did find a cult following. Today it has been placed in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as a film deemed "historically, culturally or aesthetically important".
There was no artistic choice in the movie being shot in B&W, Romero chose it because that's all he could afford. Many of the choices in the movie were not done for artistic purposes, the most obvious being that the main character is black. There is never any mention of his race or any indication that anyone thinks anything odd about his skin color. This was a bit of a big deal in 1968. Romero has said he chose Duayne Jones to play Ben only because he "gave the best audition". He had no intention to comment on race relations in the movie, although it is quite subversive.
This is also the first film to show the dead seeking the flesh of the living. Romero has mixed the classic zombie with a good hand full of ghoul and created an entirely new monster. The undead are not angry, they are not insane, they are simply instinct. They represent what we fear most, death, and are out to take what we have and that they do not, life.
This movie set the standards for decades to come.

Coincidentally, one decade later in 1978, Romero gave us the sequel "Dawn of The Dead". This movie has no direct relation to any character from the first movie, which is understandable if you've ever seen Night. This takes place an unspecified time later, my guess is days, despite the obvious 10 year lag, society is still trying to hold together but it's all falling apart anyway. A few people find themselves together and head out of the city in a helicopter. They land on the roof of a shopping mall to rest and resupply when they realize that they could live like kings if they can clear out the zombies. This has fueled the minds of many a zombie enthusiast. What's the best place to hole up in and defend? Everyone has an opinion of this, some people spend maybe a bit too much time thinking about it...but then again, maybe they'll be the ones who survive the next major disaster because they've been planning. Think about that those of you who laugh!
*ahem* Anyway, this is my personal favorite zombie movie, there's so much to love. There are some very clear messages in it, yet it never takes itself too seriously. It's gory and it's funny and I think it set a standard for movies like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. This and Night are MUST SEE'S if you have never seen them. Period.

A year later than Dawn of the dead came Lucio Fulci's 1979 "Zombie", or as it was known internationally, "Zombi 2", an unofficial sequel to Dawn of the Dead. The movie is notable for, well, pretending to be a Romero movie and it's gore. In the first 10 minutes of the movie a zombie fights a damn shark! How awesome is that?! It sets a high mark that the rest of the movie doesn't quite stand up to, I found it a bit of a chore to watch although not unenjoyable. If you like gore, this is a good one for it. Recommended only for hard-core zombie or gore enthusiasts.

Things get a bit trickier from here on out, so I think I'll go with one more before calling it the end of the Silver Age. This final movie is, yet again, from George Romero. It's important for one thing, arguably, but as there were no other significant movies I could pick out in the years between, I'm moving on to this. Romero's part 3, "Day of The Dead" made in 1985. Day picks up much like Dawn, new characters and a new location. This time we're following some soldiers that are holding an army base with a few civilians and a doctor that's experimenting on the zombies. The one thing I find important in the movie is the zombie, Bub. The nutzo doctor has been able to train Bub to do certain things like salute the soldiers. He is proving that there is still some humanity locked away in the undead brains, he is hoping to be able to control them some how, but the soldiers, who are a bunch of dicks, are horrified and have other plans for survival. If you are a fan of the last two movies, I'd recommend this one, but it's much slower than the others and it is not quite as rewarding to watch. It is important for the overall evolution of the undead through Romero's movies. Aside from that, well, I'll just say I've seen this one a few times, compared to the dozen times I've seen the other two each.

With that, I'll leave the Silver Age of zombie movies and we switch to the Modern Age. The tricky part is that the next movie also came out in 1985, yet planted the seeds for what is becoming the "norm" for zombies. See you in a few days my delightful decomposing disciples!

Monday, October 26, 2009

In Honor of My Most Favoritest of Holidays, I present ZOMBIES!

Greetings gluttonous ghoulies! As promised, I have a new blog, or series really, about Zombie movies! This is in no way an official list, as I scanned the Wiki for movies I wasn't remembering, I saw about a thousand movies I haven't actually seen. ...probably for the best because zombies don't generally get a large budget thrown at em. But there are a few notable exceptions.

I'd like to start the week off with what I'm calling "Golden Age" Zombie movies, Wednesday will focus on "Silver Age" and we'll end the week in the "Modern Age".

I am going to skip posting pics with these posts, since Blogger makes it frustratingly hard to add more than one or two, but I will include links to the Wiki page for the movies in case anyone is interested in learning more about them.

Golden Age

For the fist film, I am choosing, as it would be logical, the first recognized zombie movie. "White Zombie", starring Bela Lugosi and directed by Victor Halperin in 1932. It was an independent movie at the time and came out about a year after Lugosi's hit, Dracula. White Zombie wasn't a big critical hit, but it did do well enough that they made a sequel, which I have not seen.
I enjoyed this movie, it's very moody and atmospheric and Lugosi is usually fun to watch. The zombies in the movie are probably the closest to "real" zombies as you are going to find, maybe with the exception of "Serpent and the Rainbow" but that's for another blog. These zombies are true walking undead which do the bidding of their master, who as you can probably guess is played by Lugosi.
This is probably skipable unless you are a zombie completest or love Universal's classic horror movies, otherwise I think most folks would be a bit bored with it.

I can't help but pick this movie as my number two, it's a classic but not in the way the director had attempted. "Plan 9 From Outer Space" is famous for being horrible. It was directed by Edward D. Wood Jr. in 1959. I think the reason that this and Wood's other movies are so popular is that you really get the impression that Wood thought he was making a modern masterpiece. His eagerness to tell you the story shows as much as the strings and cheap sets do. I love this movie, it's just so much fun to watch, but it's probably best viewed with a group!
The zombies in this are closer to the classic zombie, but still retain their origins, meaning they are walking corpses who do their master's bidding, except in this case the masters are from outer space.
This movie is also notable for containing the very last footage that was shot of Bela Lugosi, the brief clip was shot by Wood for another movie but was edited in as a selling point. If you have ever seen "Ed Wood" by Tim Burton, then you'd know the story. That's also a fantastic movie, but not on topic, so we move on.

This next description is going to be brief, because I have only seen the movie once and it was probably over 10 years ago. This movies is the Hammer Horror Studios', "Plague of The Zombies" from 1966. It's notable for being, I believe, the only zombie movie that Hammer Film Productions made and they did it well enough that much of the imagery in the movie has influenced many later zombie movies. If I remember correctly this was the first movie to show the dead rising from their graves! It continues with classic idea of zombies as slaves toiling away for their masters.

With that, I will leave you for today. The next movie is a big leap forward in how we view zombies and is one of my all time favorites. It also is the transition into the Silver Age...see you soon my repulsive readers!

Friday, October 23, 2009

On Second Thought...and a review!

Well, I have been putting this off and since Elise made a blog post on her site about the same thing and did such a good job it, I'm just going to refer you to her posts to read about the museums we visited while in London. We couldn't take many photos, so there's not a whole lot to share. I could type something up, but visiting a museum is really a visual thing, so I decided to spare you (and myself) long descriptions. So please read if you haven't:

Next up, I wanted to share a short movie review with you. Last night, I went with Dover, Medford and Stoneham to see Zombieland. At first, Dover and I weren't all that excited about the movie. It's a zombie comedy and had a lot of potential for suck. After a few reviews we started to change our tune, it sounded like it was actually pretty good. Then Stoneham and Medford caught it and enjoyed it so much they demanded that we go see it with them!

I have to say, the movie was pretty damn fun. The characters were interesting, there wasn't a lot of back story, but you really didn't need it. We've all seen the rise of the zombie and the fall of civilization in all the other zombie movies so we understand that part. The movie gives you just enough to get an understanding of the character's personalities, then gets to the plot and plenty of zombie slaughter. The zombie kills are all pretty creative and some have to be seen to be believed.

The thing I liked the most about the movie were that the characters all avoided the basic horror movies mistakes, thanks to the main character's insistence on living by "The Rules", for example. #1, Cardio. You can't outrun a zombie or a group of them if you are out of shape. The rules definitely save everyone's lives throughout the movie and keep the movie from falling into the same old shit we've all seen before. Even the few times where you saw the joke coming a mile away, I didn't care because I was looking forward to seeing it!

So all in all. It was a ton of fun, I absolutely recommend it.

My one complaint might be that the zombies were less zombie-like than I'd prefer. They were much more a cross of "fast" zombies and the infected in 28 Days Later. I personally prefer the classic slow zombie to the newfangled runnin' ones, but I was able to put that all aside and enjoy them being destroyed and messed with throughout the movie.

Finally, I have one announcement. While having so much fun at the movie and thinking about it for this review, I decided to put together a blog about my favorite zombie movies. So next week, I'll break it up over a few days and present to you a review of a ton of flicks from what I'm going to term the Golden, Silver and Modern age of zombie movies. Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Holiday in Londonia!

(You expected a Clash reference for the title, didn't you?)

Hello! We're freshly back from a short vacation to the lovely megalopolis that was London! The trip was great, but far too short. I can't believe I have to go back to freaking work already! Oh well, I have to pay off the bills I racked up while there, so you gotta do what you gotta do.

I'm planning on stretching the trip out to a few blog posts, which shouldn't be too hard, since we did quite a lot in the 4.5 days we were there. Yet there are still so many things we'd like to see that we've already talked about a second trip in 3-4 years.

For my first post, I thought I'd mix the U.S. and the U.K. a bit. In my internet searching for fun things to do while in the city I came upon a few familiar names. It turns out that London's got a few statues of American presidents and one historic building where a founding father lived while ambassador.

First up, within the first day or two of us wandering around sight seeing, we ran into a statue of Abraham Lincoln in Parliament Square! This we we had not expected to see.

I guess the statue is a replica of one in Chicago, which was presented to England to commemorate 100 years of peace between the US and the UK. There is no plaque mentioning this, so I had to look that up when we got home.

The next statue I had read about, but didn't expect to find quite so easily! This turned out to be right outside the National Gallery, in Trafalgar Square.

This statue of George Washington was presented as another gift to England about a year after the Lincoln statue. The people of Virginia decided that Britain could use a statue of the guy that helped defeat them in 1776, but since they knew that Washington had refused to ever set foot on British soil again they shipped dirt from Virginia to stand the statue in, so technically I'm standing on good ol' American soil as this pic was taken.

Finally, and since we found the first two so easily I insisted on finding Ben Franklin's house. It turned out this was also very close by and was only a couple of block away from Trafalgar Sq.

I knew that Franklin was an ambassador to the US in London for a good while. From what I remember he was well liked by the people and kept up his reputation for being a ladies man while there. The house had a tour, but we didn't feel like paying for it, so we settled for a pic of the spot to complete our trifecta of American leaders/founders.

Next time, museums!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Great Hera! Comics!

I have finally gotten my act together and written up a new Comic Spotlight! I apologize for the lag between spotlight posts, I haven't been able to find much time to read comics lately. Even my weekly books are piling up!

Ok, enough excuses. This week I'm sharing a new DC book with you. This particular book is another from the Aunt Collection. I present to you:

Wonder Woman #88 (1957)

I was pretty excited when going over these old comics again to see that I actually had a Wonder Woman issue below 100! That struck me as a fairly big deal considering she's been around since 1942.
This book is pretty beaten up, it almost fell apart when I was reading it and I didn't even notice the pink stain until I scanned the book. But it's still a pretty nice cover and it was a fun read.

The first story, which the cover is based off of, is about WW finding this mysterious box in her bedroom upon waking. There is a warning not to open it, yet she decides to anyway, assuming someone is playing a trick on her. Just as she's about to open the box, she hears gunshots and quickly heads outside to stop a car full of bank robbers. When she gets back inside she finds the box missing. She goes about her business and later finds the box again sitting in the middle of the sidewalk, but just as she's about to open it, she notices a baby falling from a window of a tall building! What are the odds?! After saving the happy baby and giving it back to it's bad mom, she finds the box missing again. When she next comes across the box she has to stop a madman with a grenade then box disappears again. Frustrated, she decides to take her invisible jet back to Paradise Island when she sees a parachute with that danged box! Stepping out onto the wing (of the jet plane!) she finally gets to open the box which unleashes the X-Bomb and a message from some Martians that she has sealed the fate of the earth! Acting quickly she lasso's the bomb and quickly works out where the Martians are hidden and directs the bomb at them, destroying the whole fleet and saving earth!

The second story was told from the perspective of WW's lasso. It was a tale of WW lending the lasso out to some folks in a carnival who needed some self confidence, they believed the new tricks they could do were because of the magic lasso, but really they just needed some courage to perform the tricks themselves. Awww.

The last story was about some nut job who put out an ad offering $1,000,000 to anyone that could provide Wonder Woman's secret identity. After spending an entire day fighting off the public trying to get her to tell them her secret, she goes to bed. When she wakes up she finds that someone figured out she was Lt. Diana Price and had plastered it everywhere. She then spends the day trying to convince everyone she ISN'T Diana Prince and continually fails. At one point she decides it's a good idea to made a Diana out of sea weed, dress it up in her clothes and parade it around and "save" it. There-by being in two places at once! No one is fooled. At the end of the day she gives up and goes to bed only to find that when she wakes up, it was all a dream! The nut job has also given up and taken back his bounty. Her secret identity is still safe! Whew!

There were also a bunch of funny tips for young ladies between the stories. One two-page spread talked about the uses of a broach. Fancy!
A couple of other's talked about superstitions around the worlds about how girls divine their future husbands and the like. They were pretty entertaining.

I think I might actually make up a separate blog topic to spotlight old ad's and funny items like this. They are too much fun to not share!

Now to actually remember to DO it!

Well, that's it! I hope you enjoyed the review, see you next time!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bizarre Foods...?

As you may have read here and here, I and a group of friends went out to Tu Y Yo in Powerderhouse Sq. in Somerville this week to sample some authentic Mexican foods. I'm not talking about burritos here, this was real Mexican.

I don't think I'll bother to go too deeply into what was eaten, since Elise and Erin both did a great job describing that already. So I'll keep the first couple of things short.

First up, is the tacos de chapulines. These were fried grasshoppers in tacos. I can't honestly say much about the actual grasshopper, it was fried in the taco with some amazing spices and was quite delicious. I could have easily eaten a whole order on my own. The texture was a bit odd, crunchy but there was one good moment when I could tell I was biting in to a bug. If I get the chance to taste grasshoppers on their own, I'll look forward to it. If they are half this good then I'll be pretty happy.

Next we sampled Crepa de Cuitlacoche en Salsa Poblana. This is a fungus that grows on corn. It's quite nice, and as you can imagine, tastes and feels a bit like cooked mushrooms...since that's what it was. It's very good and I look forward to eating it again.

For my main course, I decided on getting Frog's Legs or Ancas de Rana en Mole Verde. I had never had frog's legs so I wasn't quiet sure what to expect. People often say that they taste like chicken, but I couldn't agree less! They had the texture of slightly underdone chicken but tasted like fish. It was quite bizarre but I enjoyed it. There were a lot of small bones that also had an unusual texture, I definitely knew I was eating an animal that I was not used it. Overall it was very good and when I had finished my amphibian I used the rice and beans on the side to soak up all the delicious sauce.

For dessert, Elise and I split an order of Flan. There wasn't anything unusual about it, but we both enjoy flan, so why not? I also got Hot Chocolate (Oaxaca style). You can see the cup in the pic above. The chocolate was not your average cocoa. It was thin in consistency, but the taste was a bit bitter like good chocolate. It was very good, not too sweet although it was sweetened with sugar cane I believe.

So I highly recommend Tu Y Yo. The food was great and they have plenty of menu items for people that are less adventurous than we are.

Next up, we have talked about locating and trying the infamous durian. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Camping in NH

This past weekend we were finally able to get outside to do a bit of camping before the season is over. Our original outing, which was planned to be a 2 day, was cancelled due to rain and thunder storms all weekend. We had been able to get a few hikes in over the summer but this was the first camping trip.
We got up at about 4:45, so get ready to be up in Lincoln, NH at 8am. There is an area set aside for camping about 3 miles in from the Lincoln Woods Visitor's Center, it's first come first serve so we wanted to get there early to stake out a good spot.
I have been to this camp site two times previously. The first time was the day after our infamous hike up Mt. Flume on the Flume Slide Trail, one of the most difficult in the country we found out later. When we got down the mountain the next morning, the ranger at the station was kind enough to suggest the camp site, which is free, and has a privy! We found a nice spot and set up camp and just snoozed and relaxed the day away and recouped from the previous day's hike. Unfortunately just as we were setting up our camp fire it started to pour! Luckily, we had already eaten and I was extremely glad I had packed a book, because it rained all night. My two friends were not so lucky.
The next time we were there, it was just Sean and I. We had planned a few days in October to camp and do some day hiking. Unfortunately it didn't work out as planned. I ended up getting a blister really quickly. I refused to believe it, since we had barely started our hike AND the hike is only about an hour, so I ignored it. By the time I stopped to do something about it, it was too late. Sean didn't fare much better. Undaunted by my painful blister, we decided to go for a walk after setting up camp. When we got back we discovered that the squirrels had chewed their way into Sean's food, which was hung in the trees. We were both pretty miserable, not to mention it had been raining, so we were having a very difficult time getting a fire going. By the next morning, we had both given up and decided to head back.
This time though, there was no "unfortunately's" to be had. We got our spot, set up camp and chilled out. We got a crap ton of fire wood and got a nice fire going. We also were able to spend some time exploring the river that's close by and soaking up some sun, since it was damn chilly in the shade of the camp.
It was a chilly night, but we had flapjacks to look forward to in the morning. So after packing and cleaning up we went in to Lincoln to get some hot food and coffee to prepare us for the drive home.

Overall it was a really nice weekend, hopefully next year we'll be able to come back for more than one night.

For some pic's, go on over to Journey of Will and read Elise's account of the trip!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Guest Blog: Recipe Friday!

Sorry I haven't been posting lately, I've been finding it quite hard to find time to read as of late, so my comics are really getting backed up.

I'm planning on a new Collection Showcase this coming week though and it should be a pretty good one.

Until then, I can only direct you to Elise's blog, where I have helped out with a guest Recipe Friday!

Friday, September 4, 2009

New Baman Piderman!

Huzzah! Two new episodes of my favorite special heroes!

Make da Cards!

Escape da Cakes!


(wow, there sure where a lot of ! in this post.)

{wait, I meant, "wow! there sure where a lot of ! in this post!!"}

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Comic Review

Greetings! As my friend Gary suggested, I decided to post a review on some comics I've been reading or have recently read. These posts differ from my post about my personal collection, mostly because they are about modern comics and/or graphic novels.

Speaking of which, I almost posted this in the Graphic Novel Addict forums, but decided it might be a better blog. The topic today has been inspired by our recent reading of The Boys vol. 1 and some of the discussions that sprang up from it on the forums and the meeting.

The reviews today feature a theme, namely Garth Ennis. Ennis is the writer of The Boys, the two books I'm going to talk about and my favorite series of all time, Preacher.

The first book I want to talk about is The Chronicles of Wormwood, by Avatar Press and co-created by Jacen Burrows.

Wormwood tells the story of Danny Wormwood, a tv producer and the Anti-Christ. He is joined by Jimmy, a talking wise-ass rabbit that he made sentient on a whim and Jesus, yes THE Jesus. Unfortunately, when Jesus returned and started preaching peace, he was beaten to severe head trauma at a protest and barely survived. He's functional, but not performing much in the way of miracles now. So a mentally challenged Jesus and a talking rabbit are Danny's only friends in life.
He has no desire to bring about Armageddon and turn his back on his father at every opportunity, mostly because he enjoys life and doesn't want it to end.
I won't spoil the rest of the story, since it's by Garth Ennis, there's a bit more to everything than my summary lets on. It's pretty vulgar and as is Garth's style, over the top. It's a fun read and I wish they did more than the 6 issue series + one shot, but that's all we got.

Burrow's art is a bit amateurish, but he is a good story teller and has an apt eye for Garth's dark humor, much like Steve Dillon. You can visibly see his work improve over the series, which is nice.

This improvement is notably nice because after Wormwood, they got together again to produce Crossed, also for Avatar.

Crossed is in a similar vein (pun mostly intended...even if infection humor is kinda gross) as The Walking Dead, not to say that it's as high a quality as Walking Dead, but it's about the end of the world due to a plague and the infected, or Crossed, are out to destroy the uninfected. The infection starts very suddenly and, much like the Rage Virus from 28 Days Later, causes those infected with it to seek out and perform the most horrible and disgusting acts on the uninfected as they are able, before the victims turn into new infected. The infection manifests itself as a rash across the face in the shape of a cross, hence the name.
This book is consistently one of the most disturbing books I read, Ennis and Burrows take pleasure in showing you the horror caused by the Crossed. It really brings home the "end of the world" theme. How does society build itself back up after the majority of humanity have committed the most atrocious acts imaginable? At least Zombies don't take pleasure in the things they do, they are just animated instinct. The Crossed are devoid of all emotion but lust and the ability to take pleasure in the misery of others. They are not exactly smart, but there is malice.
The survivors are generally interesting characters and they find themselves having to make decisions for their survival that most characters in similar stories or movies don't generally find themselves in. They often have to sacrifice their humanity just to preserve that very humanity.

Overall, since I've already compared the series to The Walking Dead, I guess I should put my final thoughts like this. The Walking Dead is about as good as End of The World stories get. Crossed is not quite in it's league, but it's kind of in it's own league...a league of splatter horror. Where TWD focuses mainly on the characters, Crossed is more about the horror first. So if you enjoy horror, this is a book for you.

I find myself really enjoying Crossed month to month, but I have to say, I can only recommend it if you have a strong stomach.
EDIT: I forgot to mention, there is no collection for Crossed out yet. Just individual issues.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Aww hell...

So I decided to read this survival book that Elise got me for my birthday. I was looking forward to it. ( can probably see where this is going)
The book is supposed to be a guide on urban survival, but a quirky one. Flipping through it, there are lots of drawing and humorous pictures demonstrating various things. It seemed like it might be a fun read.

My first indication that something was amiss was in the acknowledgements where the author gave some final thanks:

"Finally, I give my greatest loving gratitude and heartfelt thanks to all of the Ascended Masters and Cosmic Beings, the Archangels, angels, Elohim and elementals. Time and time again, They have freely given Their life's energies to me (and all of us), sustaining me in times of self-perpetuated darkness. It will not be forgotten."

I thought "Ok, that's weird, but he may still have some useful knowledge to impart."

Then he goes on to say, in the intro and in the first few pages of chapter 1, that "I'm not going to go in to detail about blah-biddy-blah because there have been other books written about that already"....but he says this THREE FREAKING TIMES in about 5 pages. So I'm left to wonder, "Why the frak I should be reading this book?"

Then he introduces the cartoon characters that are going to be teaching me how to survive, Head Candy, a lollipop, Vinny the (Uptown) Cockroach, Robbie Rubbish, uh, Trevor...and Holy Cow.

Now before I go much further into this, let me point out that in the introduction, he also says that:

"This is not a book based upon religious prophecy, dogma, or "end times." Regardless of your faith or lack of it, I'm betting that you reside in a human body that lives upon a physical planet. If this is true, you and your loved ones will benefit from the contents of this book whether Armageddon happens or not. That said, embracing and strengthening a personal and family spiritual path will deepen your connection with the Source, the only truly permanent supply on Earth."'s not about God, but it should be? Is that what you're saying? The "Source"? Is that like the Force? Are we also equating an urban disaster as Armageddon? This is really starting to stink of something...why do I keep thinking of the county fair?

Ok, back to Holy Cow. So despite this not being about God or even if we have faith in some cosmic being, he gives us this...

"Although Holy Cow has at times been labeled a busy body, her true intentions have simply been misunderstood by our pass-the-buck society." "She...acts as the great recorder and doer of all that needs to be done." "Holy Cow is the patron saint of the decisive decision-making and fearlessness."

Nope, nothing religiousy or religiously deceptive in there.

The one thing that he really wanted me to understand was that "Ultimately, we are all the cause of the distress in our lives, whether we care to acknowledge the fact or not."

This is a book about urban survival. So I guess that dam break that flooded my neighborhood is my fault? The tornado that killed my relative and destroyed my home is my fault? WHAT?!

This is all in the first 20 pages of the book.

What I have gotten out of the first 20 pages of this book is that the disaster I'm trying to survive is my fault and that only faith and being at peace with my energies is how I and my family will survive....but he's not going to tell me how to do the surviving, he's only going to give me common sense knowledge to keep me calm, so that I can survive... brain hurts.

If you want to read a real survival book, check out Survive! by Les Stroud (my other birthday present from Elise) and Wilderness Survival by Gregory J. Davenport. These will teach you about survival, long term and short term, with no bullshit.

"When All Hell Breaks Loose" -FAIL.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's Fun, and it's located in that Spot...right there...

I've been neglecting this blog a bit lately, but I really haven't had that much of anything really interesting to say, so I thought I'd put up a post about a fun arcade we go to occasionally.

I know the blog title is pretty lame, but it was the best I could come up with. The FunSpot is in Laconia, NH near Weirs Beach and, according to their Facebook page, is the largest arcade in the world! That I find a bit surprising, it is pretty big, but they aren't very good at keeping up with new video games, the most modern game I remember coming across was Primal Instinct for crying out loud :)
But where the FunSpot excels is in classic video games. They have pretty much all of them and they are usually in great working order. I occasionally find a game that's under the weather but considering how old some of them are, it's a good track record.

If you have ever seen The King of Kong, then you may be familiar with The FunSpot. They have the Pac Man and Donkey Kong games that the world records were broken on. If you haven't seen King of Kong, I recommend it, it's a fun movie about classic games and the culture around them.

If you find yourself up that way, pop in, it's a lot of ...well, fun. They also have some really old coin op games, some Skee Ball, pinball, table hockey, all that good stuff.

Just a bit further down the street you will find Weirs Beach. They also have 3 old arcades, although these arcades do have some newer games along with some classics. It's basically set up in a boardwalk style and the arcades are open all along the front, so that means these particular spots are only fun in the summer (see what I did there?).

So if you are up for a trip, it's about 2 hours away or so, it's a fun day. You get to relive some of your childhood, have some fried dough and ice cream and look at touristy crap that you are surprised people actually buy. Well, I love looking at that crap anyway.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Here comes Comics! The Blog Without Fear!

Howdy! Welcome back. I had wanted to get this up earlier today, but we were out last night for dinner with family and blah blah blah, I didn't get to it.

But here it is now. So enjoy!
So, for my latest installment of comic blogs, I wanted to focus on the comic that probably changed the way I thought of comics...for good or ill.
This particular comic fell into my hands back when my great aunt had to be moved into a nursing home. She was living alone in the home that her husband built with his own two hands. I never met him, and I only knew Aunt Joan as the very warm and generous woman that lived in a crazy house. She was a severe pack rat and had TONS of crap lying around, so much that you could barely walk and well, there was really no ability to clean, especially given her age and health, so the house was fairly filthy. My sister and I recognized this, but weren't really too bothered by it probably because we enjoyed visiting. Aunt Joan was an excellent gift giver :)
Eventually she couldn't continue to live there so for a number of weekends we would go and clean. I'm not sure to this day what happened to most of the stuff but we packed all the things that she needed and the rest was left to us to divvy up or get rid of. Among the things I came away with were quite a lot of art supplies (Aunt Joan fancied herself an artist, and she wasn't bad when she was a younger woman) and a handful of comics that we found shoved into a book case.
There weren't many comics but the few that there were turned out to be pretty nice. I'll show you one or two of them as we go along. But the comic that was my favorite then and still holds a place in my heart now is...

I didn't think too much about the comics when I got em, I was happy to have some "new" books to read and I stuck them into "The Father Collection" for safe keeping. This one particular book I read over and over again. I even carried it around with me to school a few times.
[Commencing embarrassing]....and attempted to get the other kids to nickname me Daredevil just like they did to Mat Murdock. Of course Mat's nickname was in irony and meant as a taunt, I was just asking people to call me Daredevil. So yeah, that didn't work out so well and I dropped it pretty quickly.

If you don't know much about Daredevil, he was struck blind as a teenager in the process of saving an old man from an oncoming truck. The truck was transporting some kind of toxic waste, which was apparently not secured very well because when the truck swerved to avoid the old man it lost a drum which smashed and splashed right into Mat's face.
He lost his eyesight, but came to realize that all his other senses were heightened to superhuman levels. He also developed a radar sense, which allows him to "see" 360 degrees around himself. When his father, a washed up boxer just trying to scrape out a living and raise his son with all the opportunities he never had, is killed Mat puts on a costume and brings the thugs to justice. There's a bit more to the story than that, but that's his origin in a nutshell. It's a damn good origin story and while I don't read Daredevil much anymore I'll always have a soft spot for him.

I eventually realized that the book was a #1 and therefore must be worth something. I started to look at the comics I had differently. Around this time I was starting to pop into my local shop more and more often, often enough that I started to see the shop as kind of crummy. Luckily I had also met another friend that got me to go with him to NEC in Harvard Sq. and the next thing I knew I had the fever and was there every Wednesday.
I eventually decided that if I'm going to be serious about this thing, then I should treat my dad's comics a little better and get them their own bags and boards. Since they weren't in mint condition I wrote them off as mostly worthless but sentimental. As I mentioned in my first comic post it wasn't until recently that I really saw what I had.
This book in particular I knew was something I would normally never be able to add to my collection, so I am pretty proud to have it. I stopped looking at comics as an investment, now I look at them as art suitable for framing as well as reading, instead of things that are kept in a dark box away from the light.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Trip For Some Proper Fish.

One of my favorite dishes is Fish and Chips. This came up in conversation with a friend a few months back and he said that the only proper fish and chips he's had in this country was from a place in NY called A Salt and Battery. Dave, being from London, knows a thing or two about fish and chips.It was suggested that we take a trip out there one day for lunch. Eventually we pinned down a date and made plans to go. That day, was yesterday!

Elise and I met up with Dave and Garth at 8:30 and headed out. It was a long trip, we were making pretty decent time until we hit some traffic around 11:30 in Connecticut. We had a good time chatting and joking and grilling Dave for some travel tips, since we're actually planning a trip to London for October.
We finally arrived at 112 Greenwich Ave in Manhattan about quarter of two or so. The shop was really small so it was pretty crowded, but the guys behind the counter knew what they were doing and things moved along pretty quickly.
I ended up getting a large Pollock and chips, pickled onion and a side of curry sauce, plus an Idris Ginger Beer (which claimed to be "Firey!" but was not. It was quite good, but if you want a spicy ginger beer, you need to find the Goya kind. THAT'S spicy!)

Unfortunately I was too busy mowing through my food to bother to get a pic, so this is Elise's. So just imagine that, but bigger and there you have my meal. Plus a small onion.

The fish was great, the chips also great and only made better by the curry sauce. The onion was also quite good. There were a TON of things on the menu, we all spent a fair bit of money trying things but we also shared some too.
For dessert I got a Banana Fritter, which was basically a battered and deep fried banana...

Soooo good.

After eating we drove around the city a bit and got to see some sights. For example:

The Flatiron Building!

We drove through Times Sq, around the Empire State building and along the perimiter of Central Park. It was pretty nice, but damn, I don't think I'd want to drive around the city myself, Dave was amazingly calm for the drive being so hectic and a bit crazy at times. But it was a lot of fun.

There were no sightings of Spider-Man, unfortunately, but Elise and I want to come back for a long weekend to do some touristy stuff, so we'll have another chance to see him then ;)

It was a great trip and if you're ever in the area, I highly recommend stopping for lunch!

(all pics are by Elise, by the way)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

OMG Anniversary!

I don't have too much to talk about, but I wanted to mention that today marks the anniversary of the first date of Elise and I. We've been together for 7 years now! Man how time flies when you're having fun!
To celebrate, we're going out for some sushi from the place that's conveniently across the street and who also conveniently has some great sushi.

While we're on the subject of fish (and changing the subject slightly), this weekend we're heading into New York for the day to seek out the best Fish and Chips in the country. At least in the opinion our friend from England. As a great connoisseur of Fish and Chips myself, I'm quite looking forward to it!
A blog will follow! Stay tuned!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Recipe Friday Guest Blog

I have another Recipe Friday guest blog over at Journey of Will. Go check it out!

Uncle The Goog's All Purpose Seasoning

and for my last guest recipe...

Chicken and Vinegar with The Goog

Featuring "The Blogpost of The Future!"

Welcome to the second of my blogs spotlighting comics from my collection. This comic is the first from the books that belonged to my father. From here on to be known as "The Father Collection". These books my dad was able to put aside and save from my grandmother, who tossed out any she ran across them.
My father saved a few dozen, in various states of ruin. There are a good bunch that are in Good and Very Good condition and the rest are pretty bad. A lot have covers missing or writing on them, most of it from my dad.
He gave the comics to me when I was pretty young, they were kept in a brown paper bag for most of the time I had them, so I'm sure that didn't help to preserve them. I really didn't think too much of them until we went on vacation up to Vermont. Then I'd always bring the comics on the trip with me and I'd read them in the car and during the week.
I remember trying to convince my parents that the free passes to Palisades Park in NY were still good since there was no expiration date. I refused to listen to their outrageous statements of "but the tickets are over 30 years old" and "I'm pretty sure that the park isn't even there anymore". I was convinced they were lying because they just didn't want to take us.

Most of "The Father Collection" is DC, my dad was a big Superman fan, so on that note...

I bring you, Action Comics #256 from 1959! The unbelievable story of Ultra Superman!

The basic story is that Superman volunteers to be a test subject for this time displacement device, he is going to be sent to the year 100,000 AD for one hour. When the hour is up, Ultra Superman steps out of the tube and announces to the crowd that their Superman wanted to stay in the future for 24 hours so he came back to keep the portal open.
He then goes on to show off his new future powers by projecting a vision of the future and a warning about 4 disasters. He tells everyone about 3 then runs off to prevent them all. The 4th is revealed to be the assassination of the President! But even Ultra Superman doesn't know how to stop it, for just as we do not know much about ancient Egypt, his future knows little about the present!
This turns out all to be a ruse, because as the President's car blows up, Superman steps out and reveals that his big brain was all a costume! He was working with the Secret Service to flush out a spy! They knew about the plot against the President the whole time! The spy is, of course, the most obnoxious reporter that's been following Supes around all day.
So the President is safe and the damn commies are in jail! Huzzah Superman!

The extra Supergirl story is pretty much her trying to protect her secret identity. She's trying to be Supergirl and yet keep hidden. She blunders along almost revealing her secret identity a few times while trying to convince her friend that there is no such thing as Supergirl. In the end, Supergirl shows up to her school and performs some feats of strength in front of a surprised Linda Lee, then reveals that it was a robot sent by Superman as a demonstration...of something, being a super cool robot I guess. Superman was nice enough to leave a note for Linda explaining he saw her problems and sent the robot to help clear things up. Then he signed it...Superman. You'd think that the fact that since Clark and Linda are COUSINS that he's sign it Kal-El or at the very least Clark. Oh well, I'm not Kryptonian, so I really can't speak for their customs.

Next time, I'll show off one of the prizes of my collection. I hope you enjoyed the blog, let me know what you think!

I'm lookin at you, Gary.

(edit: fixed mispelling of Kal-El)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

We're Best Fwends!

If you haven't seen Baman Piderman yet, you are missing out! Recently Attack of The Show on G4 has spotlighted these shorts on some shows, which is how Elise and I discovered them.

The videos are about a special Batman and Spiderman, who are friends. They have some adventures of a sort. The best part of them is that it's not offensive, the animation, while pretending to be crappy is actually very well done and it's hilarious.

Check it out!

Pwactice da Counting
Make da Band
Find da Sandwich
Hab da Pumpkin

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Productive Sunday

Every so often, Elise and I decide to put a day aside as a "Studio Day". This basically means we work on whatever art projects we have been planning, or procrastinating on, and get our butts in gear and do 'em...or at least start 'em.
Today was one such day! Elise spent most of the day sitting on the couch knitting a scarf she's been putting off completing and I spent a big chunk of the day at my drawing table. She got the better end of the deal, if you ask me...even if that scarf was as tedious as it looked.

So anyway, I mainly wanted to get some good sketches done for a tattoo that someone at work comissioned me for. When I took it on, it sounded like a lot of fun. She's looking for a Cupcake Mafia. I have no clue where this came from, but that's what they wanted (the tattoo is going to be a gift, I believe). There's a cupcake eating a canoli, a cupcake in a track suit and a Don cupcake petting a cat.
I though it sounded like a fun challenge, I was right about the challenge, that's for sure. It was really difficult to find the right balance of anthromorphic baked good with the stereotype and make it actually recognizable for something that no one's ever seen before (or at least I imagine so). I think I did a pretty good job. The canoli eating cupcake was easy. The track suit cupcake and the Don were quite a bit more difficult. Figuring out the frosting hair was driving me nuts. I eventually got the track suit but the Don's hair was not working out. I was trying to make him look like Brando in The Godfather, but since I was trying to avoid faces it wasn't working out well. I had to have the hair do most of the work. After wracking my brain, it finaly hit me. The Simpsons! I googled Fat Tony and viola! The perfect hair for my Don Cupcake!

...or at least I hope so, I have to email this to the client on Monday.

The next thing I got to work on, around doing my laundry, was a new shirt for my Cafe Press Shop. I worked on one design but I think I was rushing it and I was only getting frustrated, so I put it aside and worked on the piece Elise has been after me to put up for ages.

This little guy came out of an old project at school. It was just a sketch for a book mock-up, but Elise LOVED it. Loved it to the point that I can pull it out and show it to her at any moment and she will squeel with delight at the sight of it :)

I redrew it larger, cleaned it up and uploaded it to my shop. I also added a couple of shirts to one or two previous designs.

Check it out!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hiking of Herculean Hardships!

Ok, well the hiking wasn't really THAT difficult, but the title sounded pretty good, right?

As you may have seen on Journey of Will (you do read JoW, don't you, and if not, why not?), Elise, Sean, Mel and I went for a day hike up Mt. Monadnock in NH on Sunday. It was a beautiful day, cool, breezy and sunny. The perfect weather for a hike!

We set out pretty early and got to the trail around 8:30. There were already quite a few cars in the lot, so there were people already on their way up! Monadnock is one of the most climbed mountains in the world apparently, second to Mt. Fuji in Japan, at least that's what Elise's blog says and the internets don't lie!

The first 20 minutes were pretty rough, I quickly hit the "why the hell am I doing this again?!" wall, which I don't usually hit until a good hour or more into a hike, you know, just far enough in that you feel stupid turning back. This trail was one of the rockiest I have every been on, at least right at the start. Mt. Flume was the worst really, but that didn't get horrific until well into the hike, but the Monadnock trail did eventually smooth out a bit and walking was easier. Actually, the higher up we got the better the hiking was, which is contrary to my usual experience.

Once we broke the tree line, we got some great views:

As we got a bit higher, I came across some wild blueberries! I ate one, gave one to Elise and guarded the last two from some passing hikers, for Sean and Mel. It turns out that my diligence was not needed because about 5 minutes later we came across a nicely open area and a TON of blueberries, which I set to grazing upon. They were pretty tiny, but tasty!

Shortly after this little break we got to what we thought was the summit, only to find that the true summit was pretty far off...

If you look really closely, you can just make out some specks that are other hikers! We still had some trekking ahead of us. This part of the mountain was set ablaze a couple hundred years ago for some reason or another, then once that was done, they decided to do it again for good measure. So there are very few trees past the ones in the pic above. This made the top section of the mountain really windy. But there were more blueberries to give us the strength to carry on.

Once we finally got to the top, with the nearly 2 dozen others already up there, there were some astounding views!

...and one of me! So jaunty!

What you probably can't see in the pic is that there are dozens of names and dates carved into the stone at the top. Some I found dated to 1880! Many of them were too eroded to read anymore but it was pretty neat. The practice is discouraged now, but I did see one name in sharpie from 07. Sharpie? Really buddy? Guh.
Well anyway, we had lunch and rested then headed back down. The trail down was pretty decent, but there were a few difficult rock scrambles. Aside from that it was mostly uneventful.
We got back to the cars and had a long exhausted drive back home.

All in all it was a great day out, and a highly recommended hike! If you haven't checked out Journey of Will, Sean and Elise both have some alternate pics up.