Friday, November 28, 2008

Always the last place you look

Nicholas Holderman fell on his parents' car keys. One entered his eyelid and penetrated his brain.
Full Story. Also: Obligatory.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

No new content today folks; there's much eating and watching of football to be done. Ya'll have a good day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Here's looking at you, Nardelli

From CNN comes the story of JAL CEO Haruka Nishimatsu who, in response to his company's downturn, cut his benefits and pay; he now makes less than his pilots. Contrast that to the execs of the Big Three and the failed or failing financial institutions, among others, and realize that this is what the CEOs here should be doing, not floating away on $200 million+ golden parachutes after wrecking or harming their companies. . . especially if those CEOs go before Congress to beg for money without a plan to pay us back or even a plan to turn their companies around. I don't begrudge the executives of these giant corporations their giant paychecks; after all, they are paid such large sums because of their large responsibilities. If they fail in those responsibilities, however, shouldn't they also face the same financial hardships that they guided their companies, stockholders, and employees into?

I can't shake the suspicion that the CEOs in this country probably think of Nishimatsu as a laughable naïf who doesn't understand that a CEO can fail to turn a profit and still walk away with a fat paycheck. . . even if he's fired.

Consequences? Bah, who needs 'em, right?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Good 2A News in GA

Good stuff:
Madison County gun ordinance swiftly rejected

Madison County commissioners voted 4-1 Monday night not to enact an ordinance that would have prohibited residents from firing a weapon within 300 feet of a home in the unincorporated areas of the county.

At least 100 county residents, many of them wearing anti-gun-control stickers, attended the meeting to protest the ordinance. The crowd forced commissioners to move the meeting to the county's courtroom, which still did not accommodate everyone.

Commissioners would violate not only the Second Amendment, but also the rights of property owners if they approved the firearms ordinance, residents said.

"I don't appreciate anyone trying to pass a law that's going to erode my rights to fire my firearm on my property," said resident Mike Smith. "Our laws are eroded daily for gun control, and I stand in opposition to this."
Damn straight Mr. Smith. For now the right of Madison Co. residents to go out back and pop eviilll Coke cans off the fence (among other things) is preserved, as long as said residents live outside city limits.

As always with 2nd Amendment rights, we must remain vigilant to not only those cases which affect us on a national level or get national press attention (Heller, most recently) but also those laws which are drafted and/or modified in our own backyards. After all, the creation of local laws and ordinances are both the easiest for us to ignore and the easiest for us to affect. A gradual reduction of local firearms rights at the local level is still a reduction of our 2nd Amendment rights and just as heinous as a reduction of rights concocted at a national level.

At the same time, however, those of us on the pro-2A side must restrain ourselves from engaging in rumor-mongering in the hopes of provoking an emotional reaction from the less-informed:
Once word got out that the board planned to discuss an ordinance, Youngblood said rumors flew, including that commissioners wanted to ban deer hunting and take away residents' guns.
I'm of the opinion that we mustn't stoop to the level of mudslinging and rumor-mongering to educate and/or change the minds of the less- or misinformed, but I do acknowledge that the dirty side of politics is ever-present. Acknowledging that the mud exists does not mean that we sink into; should we do so, we might find ourselves stuck in a quagmire from which we may never escape.

Regardless, it's good to see that citizens are engaged in 2nd Amendment rights at the local level; it gives me hope for the future. Additionally, Mike Youngblood, the Madison Co. commissioner who brought up this issue to his colleagues, also had this to say:
"I've gotten more phone calls and e-mails in the last three days than I've ever gotten, and I appreciate it," he said. "If we could get this kind of crowd at every meeting and have you voice your concerns about the decisions we're making up here, the county could be a lot better place to live."
Yep. If we don't speak up, how could they ignore us listen?

Wha? WTF? Poor Dog

Rumor is that this a viral marketing video, but whatever, it's funny. Just wait for it. . .

Subtitles I can't read, not to mention the crappiest cover of the crappiest saccharine-sweet pop-rock pap ever recorded, just adds to the hilarity and the overall WTF?ness of the vid.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Through the Eyes of the Allies

Via BLACKFIVE comes a depiction of American troops in Afghanistan as seen by a French Infantryman:
Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.

Here we discover America as it is often depicted : their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity lack of privacy and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley. Honor, motherland - everything here reminds of that : the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location : books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission. And that is a first shock to our preconceptions : the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.
Read the whole thing; it's well worth your time. I promise I won't make fun of the French for at least a week.

(Sorry about that Freedom Fries thing bro.)

All Hail Megatron

Update: IDW has linked to this post on their site, you can also see the first edition of this article here.

What do you call a cut of beef named after a civic club? Optimus Prime.

In 1985, the comic world was a heady place. Secret Wars was out, Watchmen and The ’Nam was about to be, and Wolverine and the Punisher culling out a fan base that would soon lead to their appearance in every Marvel title including Barbie and He-Man (just kidding—or am I?). And Transfromers the comic, which wasn’t bad, was selling right alongside the TV series building to the inevitable.

In 1985, the toasters were king: Go-bots, Voltron, and Transformers, with Transformers being probably the best and definitely the best opening montage and song. G.I. Joe (also a great opening) had huge fire fights with laser rifles that never hit anything, but then Transformers was up next and, because they were robots, they routinely got shot and blown apart—though always repaired.

And then it happened.

In 1986, Transformers: the Movie did the best and the worst thing it could do. It gave Optimus Prime a noble death and it traumatized an entire generation of kids (you cried; you know you did—we all did). They also killed a ton of main characters like Ironhide and Prowl, and, amazingly enough, improved the opening song. After that the Transformers took to the stars and only later did Prime return in at the end of the series’ run. Since then it seemed the Transformers (Generation I, the real Transformers) rarely seemed to return to the earth in anything worth watching or reading though there were a number of good tries.

While in the mid-80s the writing in comics suffered in some places, the art, marketing, and events were waxing until the excesses of the 90s turned many readers away. In hindsight, one of those excesses might have been the Marvel Universe series, which seemed like a good thing in the early 90s—we didn’t know about the Internet then—but was really just a character pic with a profile and a history. So, instead of ordering back issues or waiting for trades or looking it upon Wikipedia, we kids read Marvel Saga and Marvel Universe and Marvel Tales for about a buck an issue (25 cents if you got the beat up copies from the sales bin) to catch up on characters. These profiles included many Transformers and listed numerous powers that were extremely violent and terrifying and rarely came up in the Saturday morning cartoon.

But in the wake of the Michael Bay blockbuster, the Transformers are all over comics again, but in series not the easiest to just pick up and run with. Enter All Hail Megatron, and readers shying away from the transformers’ books since Optimus became one with the All-Spark (you know you cried, just be a man and admit it) get a well crafted adult book with all the punch of both movies. But what’s more, the terrifying power disclosed in the old Marvel Universe profiles is brought to bear.

For readers that don’t know what happened between the 80s and now All Hail Megatron side steps the problem by making it a reason to keep reading. Issue one starts with the on model, un-Michael Bay-ed, classic Decepticons doing what they did to Autobot City, only this time it’s New York City and humans are dying by the thousands. The black, gray, and red Megatron of the ’86 movie went from clownish to scary and actually successfully evil with a few cannon blasts, and that’s the Megatron that shows up in this issue to squash the humans like insects. It’s sort of like watching Skeletor behead the Sorceress and burn Castle Grayskull to the ground. The military response is flattened; in fact, Frenzy wipes out a large portion alone using the crazy powers not seen on TV. Any comic that makes a tape cassette robot look more horrific than the terminator is doing something right. Plus, there’s a Witwicky in it as part of a band of human survivors, a story arc that’s shades of Cloverfield, but this time in the subway we know what’s happening before the refugees as Astrotrain pulls into the station.

The old villains make grand appearances, one by one, invoking a sense of nostalgia and shock as your childhood characters commit genocide. Starscream shows up after blowing Air Force One out of the sky. And Megatron and Starscream have this father/son moment of praise and regret that actually develops their characters as tyrant and usurping champion—unbelievable, right?

So, where are the Autobots? In the most recent issue where we find the Autobots hiding and dying on Cybertron. Prime is apparently dead again (steady, fight the tears) but who knows, really? Ironhide is all in a huff about some betrayal: who’s the traitor? Jazz is keeping some secret project from the group. They’re at each other's throats when they stumble upon Hot Rod, who thinks they have come to rescue him. The writers sort of says, “you don’t know what’s happened, but keep reading because it’s all part of the mystery and charm,” which is arguably more fun than a caption reading “see Transformers Mangaverse vol. 17 and Beast-Wars #4—Ed.” Very Old Man Logan, very “how did this come to pass?” “What did they do to you,” which, incidentally, is exactly the cliffhanger line from the last issue of the Old Man Logan story arc, thus proving the effectiveness of starting inside the whale’s belly.

All Hail Megatron is an interesting series: characterization, good dialogue, action, “end of the world” level destruction, mysterious backstory, and a weird connection to the Saturday mornings of your childhood. Sure, it’s not Hamlet but for a Transformers comic the story’s got grit and surprise. Plus, any book that has the Decepticons decimating NYC and America in general, and then flips to the beleaguered Autobots is setting up a confrontation; perhaps a confrontation where, at the end of the battle, one shall stand and one shall fall? (You so cried when Optimus died).

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dude, BEAR

The idiocy of people. . .
Panda attacks man who wanted a cuddle at Chinese zoo

A PANDA at a zoo in southern China attacked a student who sneaked into its pen hoping for a cuddle.

The 20-year-old male student surnamed Liu jumped over the fence at the zoo in the tourist city of Guilin, ignoring warning signs not to, Xinhua news agency said.

"The panda, named Yangyang, was wide awake. Apparently scared by the intruder, he bit at Liu's arms and legs," it quoted an unnamed worker as saying.

Zoo keepers managed to calm the bear and rescue Mr Liu, the report said.

"Yangyang was so cute and I just wanted to cuddle him," Mr Liu was quoted as saying from his hospital bed.

"I didn't expect he would attack."

Scientists believe fewer than 2000 giant pandas live in the wild in China.

"Didn't expect he would attack?" Really, even though it's, like, a BEAR and stuff? I know Pandas and other wild f'ing animals are all cute and cuddly looking, but that doesn't mean they're actually cute and cuddly. Not to be too heartless, but maybe the workers should have just let this guy Darwin himself. Hell, if some random dude just started trying to hug me, I'd be justifiably annoyed. . . probably enough to want to attack.* And I'm not a BEAR.**

*Cute ladies are still free to hug me (though I'd still prefer some warning) without fear of being mauled. . . maybe.
**Yeah, yeah, [generic gay joke goes here], etc.


A school on Long Island is being renamed for Barack Obama. Other than being the first black President-Elect, what exactly has he done? Why not wait a year and THEN decide whether or not it's worth it to rename every park, school, and public restroom after His Barackness? At least wait 'til he's sworn in. Besides, what if everything we name after Obama is afflicted with the M.L.K. phenomenon?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Internet Therapy

No matter how I feel about myself or my life, and no matter how maudlin and melancholic I tend to be, it seems that I can always count on the bounty of the WWW to put a silver lining on the storm cloud that is my life. After all, I'm not even on the same planet of screwed-up in the head as this crazy bastard.* So I've got that going for me.

*Not Safe For Lunch text

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Review: Kull Number One

Kull number one starts with a bang. You ever seen Army of Darkness? The 13th Warrior? Read an issue of Vault of Horror? Somebody over at Dark Horse has too. Knock, knock. Who’s there? Ass-kickery. Welcome home geeks, welcome home.

The Days of High Adventure:

Kull the Conquer is another Robert E. Howard sword and sorcery hero like Conan. Perhaps the less well known Conan predecessor offers a freer hand to writers as Conan has expectations tacked on movies and books, and that can be a good thing. Picking up a copy of Kull number one readers my be less than impressed with the odd cover, which appears to be the weird variant cover fad we’re still suffering from the excessive 90s. But buck up, that’s Joe Kubert of Sgt. Rock fame and the art inside is actually pretty good!

Now spoiling will occur but seeing how this is issue one there’s not much to spoil. Kull’s king and he’s trying to take out the last Count to resist his rule who’s laid up in an impenetrable castle. Luckily, one guardsmen has been passed over for promotion and agrees to open the gate. Next panel, Kull’s army swarm’s in, no boring speeches or build up, let the body count begin.

Dark Horse Gods:

So, the Count has his men open this trap door in the courtyard. Anything foreshadowed with a “release the Kraken” moment and “we’re all dead,” has to be all cuddly and fun, right? From the dark an unseen fiend says “Yesss, release me…” Evil Dead 2/Army of Darkness, anyone? What is this Etrigor? Why it appears to be an undead, demon centaur with nasty wings and a C.H.U.D. head—and he’s about the size of an elephant. Ladies and gentlemen this is why we love comics!

In comes Kull in a two page splash that looks great and says, “let’s rock.” He’s got an axe and with here a chop-chop and there a chop-chop he fights the monster. Some of the action panels are a little wonky, but, seriously, demon centaur! And Etrigor also likes to talk smack, before it’s all over we get a little insight that the old ones are coming and things are going to get rough for our King Kull. Kull actually cracks a joke and his men laugh, which is kind of cool in a Viking way, but then again laughing at the demon centaur probably isn’t the smartest move.

Homage, not Swiping:

No surprise, but Kull makes it through his first issue alive, but not before the table is set for this adaption of Howard’s Shadow Kingdom tales. If Etrigor and an issue that has multiple disembowelings and beheading is the warm up act how metal is the main attraction going to be? The Count doesn’t make it, the traitor beheads him and whips the trophy out of a box with a callback line of dialogue straight out of the Vault of Horror: “I didn’t harm a hair on his head like you ordered, but, and get this angry King with a sword, I cut his head off, so you know, technically—wait what are you doing, aaaaa!” Kull, who looks a lot like Valdimir Kulich in The 13th Warrior, is less than happy, and berates his advisor Tu, who looks a lot like Omar Sharif from the same Crichton flick, because the murder made him look bad and heavy is the head—blah, blah, blah, look, bad stuff’s going to happen, that’s the jist. Buckle up. (Seriously, what is with the face swipes from movies, like the earthquake chick in Fury’s Secret War—totally Angelina Jolie from Hackers!)

Some of the dialogue is crisp, some a little talky, some just corny like when Etrigor says he didn’t know men like Kull still existed. Kind of sounded like they were on a first date. They use a lot of old language and stuff, like coxcomb which totally sounds dirty. And scars, every body’s got scars, which is a nice touch; still it is a bit of a face scar convention.

Bottom line:

Kull number one comes out strong, fast paced, and enjoyable. I’m not trying to gush about this comic, but when you pick up a comic book these days and you get a demon centaur you feel like that cute girl remembered it was your birthday: “really? For me?” In a world of fantasy and a sci/fi comics that are short on action and story Kull number one wraps up three story arcs in one issue (plus: did I mention the demon centaur?). King Kull rules in this issue and if they match the fun next time the series should be good addition to any pull list.