Satsuki and Totoro

October 3, 2009

Satsuki and Totoro: Waiting for the bus, in the rain.

I’m really just testing my Flickr “blog this” settings. I haven’t used this or Flickr in a long while, and I started fooling with it tonight. So, there ya go! It is Totoro and Satsutsi and Mei, waiting for the weird cat/bus thing in the rain, from one of the most memorable scenes of Totoro.

Tangentially related, I have yet to see Ponyo, but I really want to. Also only-roughly-in-linear-thought: there are a few 1/18 scale animation style figures from this scene (and another one, I can’t remember which, though). Basically, a set is something like 14-21 small figures (I can’t remember that either), finely detailed, and each is like the next animation frame … so it is the same figure, just slightly different, as if taken from the animation cel following the previous figure in the series. I’m not a “figures” guy, but these looked really nice, and would look so nice in a decent case …

As soon as I run out of trivial things to spend money on, maybe I’ll pick one up.

Flickr

October 3, 2009

This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Punisher War Zone: the Last Hurrah

January 16, 2009

punisher-wz Punisher War Zone

(6 issues, weekly; Marvel Comics)

Some things were meant to be together: peanut butter and jelly; coffee and cigarettes; Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. That last pair is perhaps my favorite writer/artist team working in comics today. It was about a decade ago when Ennis, hot off the heels of The Preacher, brought back a character that I swore I would never read again. What’s more impressive is that he managed to keep writing it well for all that time since. No, Dillon didn’t do all the art in that time, but I’m glad that he came back for this last hurrah, if this is indeed Ennis’ last take on The Punisher.

For those that haven’t seen Dillon’s work previously, check out The Preacher. This was a great Vertigo series (also written by Ennis), and it is where he mastered the “I am so fucked” facial expressions required for some of Ennis’ less-fortunate characters. I don’t know how to explain why Dillon’s work is so perfect with an Ennis script, other than something about his art captures the subtlety (and the not-so-subtle) of Ennis’ dark humor.

As for Ennis, well, what can you say? He was able to resurrect a character that had long been left alone because it had gotten ridiculous. To briefly go on a tangent, sometimes I honestly think Marvel editors sit in a room and say “Hey, you know that thing we did that made this book really great? Let’s stop doing that!” It pains me to see a new non-Max Punisher series, especially not written by Ennis, trying to bring the character more inside the mainstream Marvel universe. One of the things Ennis got so right about his take on Frank Castle is that he was fighting criminals, not super-villains. Aside from the occasional kicking of Daredevil’s ass, the Punisher has no business being in the same comic with any of the super-heroes. See the recent Punisher-Sentry one-shot thing to see why. It is absurd.

If it were up to me, no one except Garth Ennis would write The Punisher; once Ennis stopped sending scripts, we’d stop publishing it. But hey, it is Marvel after all. You knew they were going to fuck it up eventually. Get your last hurrahs with this weekly (yes, weekly!) mini-series, Punisher War Zone, which is wrapping up next week.

New toys: Flip Mino and the G1

December 14, 2008
My Mino

A picture of my Flip Mino, taken with my G1

So I got two new toys recently, one as a birthday present, the other as an early Christmas present. The first is a Flip Mino, a tiny handheld camcorder. Priced at $179.99, these are great little video recorders for those who wouldn’t use one enough to warrant buying something more expensive.  I had already been looking at the Flip Ultra cameras, and then Flip released the Mino and the Mino HD. I took a chance on the Mino, and now that I’ve had it for a few weeks, I think I made the right decision. One of the nicest things about the camera is the simplicity – and this is coming from someone who usually prefers lots of little settings and likes to read instruction manuals. But basic works here; it makes using the device hassle free and fun to use. The picture is great, and you can record about an hour of video on the internal drive. The battery life is great, and recharges with a simple USB connection. Also, the video is saved as simple MPEG (in .avi extension), there is no unneccessary conversion process to get your video. Lastly, what really sold me, to be truthful, was the option to design your own cover if you buy it from the Flip store online. You can upload your own image, use their designs, or tweak some patterns. It makes it fun, and the printing quality of the finished product is fantastic. I had it in my hand five days after ordering it, including a weekend, so don’t worry about it taking a long time, either. Read the rest of this entry »

Vic Mackey’s Last Gleaming

November 25, 2008

fx_shield_800x600_wall011So The Shield is ending tonight, and I’m pretty excited to see how it is going to happen. I’ll admit, this season has not been anything like I thought it would play out. After last season’s finale, I expected Vic’s character to go in a completely opposite direction than this season; I suppose it was the optimist in me that wanted to see him go straight and take down large scale criminals, rather than become one – well, more than he already was. All in all, it has been pretty good. I still think last season was the best, and in fact was some of the finest television I have seen in a long time. The buildup in last season was different – it was structured on a layered and emotional tension; this season, however, is more like watching a train that has put its brakes on, but you know there is no way it is going to stop in time before it wrecks. But, it is precisely that kind of expectation that made me love The Shield in the first place. Still, I do wonder what the season would have been like had not the writer’s strike interfered; I’m not saying I’m disappointed with this season, by any means, but simply it isn’t quite as good as last season, maybe even the last 2-3 seasons; but it is still pretty damn good.

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iPress: an idea for WordPress

November 13, 2008

First, this is probably not a “new” idea at all, and in fact there are probably some widgets out there that will essentially do this, sort of. But I am not sure it would be the same thing. Anyhow, after the recent disappointment from Google via their new iGoogle, and then trying out stuff like Netvibes, Pageflakes, and Protopages, it occurred to me that the incorporation of a “home page” service just seems like a natural, organic step for the blog, in particular one like WordPress.

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about the home page of a blog (or the dashboard), but a home page for your browser that is customizable – you know, like iGoogle or any of the alternatives I mentioned above. I imagine it would be something like yourblogame.wordpress.com/wp-homepage/ (assuming it was hosted at wordpress.com). I could see this raising a lot of questions, though; for instance, would it be hosted on someone else’s server, or would it be on your own server, where perhaps your own blog resides? I guess both, with limitations on a home page hosted elsewhere (similar to how free blogs on wordpress.com work now). Would it be integrated into a WP installation (perhaps in a wp-homepage folder), or simply able to run alongside it (similar to how bbPress does)? Anyway, it was just a thought I had the other day during a peak point of frustration moving all my home page stuff over to Netvibes. It just seemed like it would make so much sense – I mean, if you already have a customized blog, why wouldn’t you have a custom home page in the same place?

Perhaps there are some major things I am overlooking as to why this wouldn’t work; I really don’t know. But if not, it would be neat; and if WordPress liked the idea, well, maybe then they’ll give me a job as a Happiness Engineer … I can still dream, can’t I?

The Best Comic You Aren’t Reading – Oct. 8, 2008

October 9, 2008

ikillgiants_cov04

I Kill Giants #4 (of 7)
by Joe Kelly and Ken Niimura

I’ve absolutely fallen in love with this mini-series Image is publishing: I Kill Giants. The story centers around Barbara, a fifth-grader who has problems many fifth graders do: she’s a social outcast; a school bully taunts her; her home is less than thrilling. Oh, and she kills giants.

This series is really impressive. Since we see the story all from Barbara’s imaginative perspective, there is a nice blend of “real” and “fantasy.” It reminds me of some of the great Amy Racecar moments in David Lapham’s Stray Bullets – but, you know, not quite as violent. The story also does a great job of beginning as a quirky, funny tale of a social misfit, and gradually unfolds into a touching, almost-heartbreaking look into how a young girl copes with the problems in her life. It really sneaks up on you, and I have to commend Joe Kelly with perhaps his best writing to-date. I highly recommend picking this up.

Comic Collector Live

April 28, 2008

Over the years I’ve tried a variety of methods to keep up and catalogue my comics, ranging from very advanced to pen and paper. In the end, pen and paper ends up being the most effective for me. I have even tried to build my own XML sheets that will somehow do what I want, but I can never get it sorted out in my head exactly how to pull off what I want. The biggest obstacle, for me, is that I like to have lists of issues I am missing, more so than lists of what I do have. It may not sound like it makes sense, but try looking through hundreds of long boxes at a con during an early morning sale, and you’ll see how much easier it is to have a list of what you need versus what you don’t need. Anyhow, while I still rely on pen and paper, I have been trying out a program that I like; well, I like it more than any of the other programs I’ve tried over the years. It’s Comic Collector Live, a little java-based application. Here is my assessment of it so far:
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