Back in the 80s as a highschooler and aspiring comic book artist, I was at our local mall and picked up a copy of Heavy Metal magazine from the newstand rack. A story called Rebel was the feature in that month’s issue, and I was enthralled. It was a well-drawn post apocalyptic Road-Warrior-esque story set in New York City and I stood there for an hour absorbing as much as I could. I guess I didn’t have enough money to buy the issue, because I don’t have a copy. But I immediately went home and started drawing my own version of what I had seen, which went on for about 30 pages before I ran out of story ideas. Fast forward to yesterday, where two comic artists who run a channel reviewing comic books featured the trade paperback version of the strip I seen 30 years ago. I’m glad to see it holds up as well as it does in my memory; it’s an incredible work of art.

In a strange and bitter happenstance, one of the reviewers on this YouTube channel was accused of soliciting and grooming high school aged girls, and committed suicide a few days ago after she went public.

Date posted: April 5, 2024 | Filed under art/design, entertainment | Leave a Comment »

This is mostly for music nerds of a certain pre-Spotify age, but I found it fascinating: the oral history of Pitchfork from Slate magazine.

Greene: It was always, and only ever, a bunch of nerds writing essays about records. It was that before it became famous. And it was that after it became famous. It was only ever that, and those are the people who still come to Pitchfork, but I guess it wasn’t enough.

Date posted: March 22, 2024 | Filed under entertainment, music | Leave a Comment »

Hmm, this looks interesting. A self-described fan of The Three Body Problem novel series gives it a glowing review after seeing the screeners. It’s written and produced by the guys who fumbled the ball at the goal line with Game of Thrones, but hopefully (because the source material has all been written) this will be better. I’ll put this on the watch list, even though I rarely watch series TV these days.

Date posted: March 20, 2024 | Filed under entertainment, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Huh. A couple of years ago I paid for a MotorTrend+ subscription so I could watch Roadkill, the original “Will it Run?”-style TV show, and they also had Dirt Every Day and Top Gear US among other good shows. Most of the rest of the channel was cable-TV dreck—Reality TV-style customizing shows that were irritating when they were on cable 20 years ago. Nevertheless, I felt pretty good about my subscription, because I liked the three shows mentioned above. I let the subscription lapse after the first year and considered renewing it, but then they watered down Top Gear US and got rid of the hosts I tolerated. Then they axed Dirt Every Day. Now it turns out they’re bleeding cash and are shutting down the streaming service and moving everything to Discovery+, where I will not be subscribing. I feel like we subscribe to enough services as it is, and seriously, if we didn’t use Amazon Prime for online purchasing, I would cancel that subscription, because their streaming selection is straight garbage.

Date posted: February 25, 2024 | Filed under entertainment | Leave a Comment »

Friday evening we had the Morrises over to see the Cirque de Soleil production of Twas the Night Before Christmas, which was as amazing—and as French—as you might imagine.

Date posted: December 4, 2023 | Filed under entertainment, family | Leave a Comment »

I finally watched the movie that concludes the Venture Brothers TV series, and while it was a bit convoluted and maybe didn’t hit all of the beats I wanted it to, I thought it was a great wrap-up for the characters and storyline I’ve been following for twenty years. Radiant Is the Blood of the Baboon Heart had some great callbacks, some laugh-out-loud bits, and some surprisingly heartfelt moments. There were some things I had to catch up on, as Adult Swim wasn’t playing the final season online, so I backtracked and went through the last episodes on MAX, and then watched the movie again. Clearly I would have loved to see them continue the series but I’m glad they were given the chance to tie it up properly.

 

Date posted: October 30, 2023 | Filed under entertainment | Leave a Comment »

YEEEAAAAAHHH BUDDY It’s official: Michael Mann has announced his next movie will be Heat 2, a sequel to one of my favorite movies of all time, for which he wrote a sequel in novel form last year. Let’s hope he casts it as well as the first movie.

Date posted: October 9, 2023 | Filed under entertainment, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I’ve played Starfield over several nights and gotten the hang of the way the game is structured, and I’ve got a couple of takeaways. The first is that the mechanics are almost a direct lift from Fallout 4 and Fallout 76—which isn’t a bad thing, but isn’t necessarily great, either. The structure is the same, the menu and inventory systems are the same, and the mapping system is expanded to include local, planetary, galaxy, and universe views—which don’t always work the way they should. Crafting systems are the same inscrutable mechanic, where you run around gathering junk to break down at a special bench to upgrade your suit or weapon, and you’re always running up against what you are strong enough to carry vs. what you can drag back to your base (in this case, your ship). So it’s a ton of inventory management. Which isn’t a bad thing, when done correctly, but when I’m constantly humping shit back and forth to build some stupid thing that’s step 3 on a 10 step quest, I’m gonna get pissed off real quick. And as with Fallout 4, the rules of how to build stuff is a black art you need to spend hours on a message board studying, which is also not my cup of tea.

So I know how the game designers think and how they’ve structured the game. What I’m hoping to avoid are the issues that led me to drop their previous games. Fallout 76 lost me when the difficulty level of finishing a quest to get a legendary item skyrocketed past what I was able to build after hours of grinding through levels of experience and avoiding in-game purchasing. Shooting a giant beast eleventy billion times to no effect when they can kill you with one swipe gets irritating real quick. And if this game forces me into situations where I can’t complete tasks without joining up with a bunch of other players, they’re going to lose me pretty fast.

I also soured on the crafting/building/management aspects of the game. I craft, build and manage enough crap in meatspace. When I boot up a game I want to be challenged with a fun shoot-em-up, not a grocery list and errand run. While I don’t expect to be able to carry three tons of gear around in-game, they’ve prioritized survival by the number of different sets of armor and guns a character must own to complete different tasks, and those possessions need constant care and upkeep, and this requires one to continually run around and pick up every goddamn thing you see in the hopes that it will fix your stuff. At a certain point the task outweighs the reward.

However: the boot time is pretty negligible, which is some kind of black magic voodoo shit when you see how rich the environment is. The storylines are familiar and sort of comforting in a nostalgic way; I spent all of chemotherapy playing through Fallout 4 and the vibe is very similar here, which isn’t a bad thing. Flying through space and shooting up spaceships is fun as shit, and their mechanics there are very well designed. Last night I explored a mining base on Venus and then traveled to a space station orbiting the Moon to clear out a group of pirates. In between I had to chase down a spaceship and disable it. It was fun! So I’ll keep at it and see if things have gotten better.

Date posted: September 15, 2023 | Filed under entertainment | Leave a Comment »

Bill Willingham has been in my life since the early ’80’s, when I noticed his illustrations in my copies of the D&D First Edition Player’s Handbook and Gamma World modules I played with friends. Later, he wrote and illustrated a comic I enjoyed called Elementals, and at some point transitioned over fully into writing. He created a highly acclaimed series called Fables 20 years ago which sold many copies and won many awards, and was smart enough to sign a contract where he owned the IP. He’s just released that IP into the public domain as a preemptive move against DC Comics, who have withheld royalties, tried altering his ownership agreement, and generally been assholes.

Throughout the years of my business relationship with DC, with Fables and with other intellectual properties, DC has always been in violation of their agreements with me. Usually it’s in smaller matters, like forgetting to seek my opinion on artists for new stories, or for covers, or formats of new collections and such. In those times, when called on it, they automatically said, “Sorry, we overlooked you again. It just fell through the cracks.”

None of this is surprising, but I love his response.

For better or worse, DC and I are still locked together in this unhappy marriage, perhaps for all time.

But you aren’t.

Date posted: September 15, 2023 | Filed under entertainment | Leave a Comment »

I booted up Starfield on my Xbox Sunday morning before the girls were awake and started playing through the introduction. Being a Bethesda game, it shares many of the same game mechanics as Fallout, so much of it was familiar immediately. I built a character, shot some space pirates, jumped into a spaceship, and landed on a different planet. One thing that’s wildly different is that it’s not a giant download of a game; I selected it in the menu and almost immediately I was playing. There are some network glitches where it drops out for a second or two and then comes back, which is a bummer when you’re in the middle of a firefight, so I’ll have to ensure my wired connection is still stable.

Date posted: September 11, 2023 | Filed under entertainment | Leave a Comment »