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Friday, March 30, 2007

Mirna and Schmirna

This article in the Deseret Morning News perfectly sums up what drives me nuts about Charla and Mirna on The Amazing Race.

The part about them being ugly Americans is particularly on-target. The way they talk to cab drivers and others they encounter is despicable.

Great show. I can't wait until they're no longer a part of it.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Rest in Peace, Marshall Rogers

I just read the sad news that Marshall Rogers, an extraordinary comic book artist, has died. The story included few details, except the fact that he was quite young--age 57. He was always a favorite of mine when I was younger, and I always wondered why we didn't see more of his work in later years.

What a shame.

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The Simpsons: funny couch gag

I'm not usually a huge fan of The Simpsons. I enjoy it when I see it, but don't go out of my way to see it. But this clip of an intro to a recent episode gave me a good chuckle--watch what Homer has to go through to make it to the couch.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Check out cousin Owen

In addition to being nice, adorable, and incredibly brilliant, my cousin's son Owen is apparently quite the dancer. Check him out strutting his stuff in this fun video. Way to go, Owen!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Thundarr the Barbarian

This was one of the coolest cartoons ever. Part sword and sorcery, part Gamma World (a beloved game from my teen years, likely beloved in part because of my love of Thundarr), all awesome.

I'm kind of afraid to watch an old episode since it might not be as good as I remember. But I kind of want to, too. I have a feeling that Alex would love this one.

Thanks to Jeff Rients, whose blog put me on to this.

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The new Cap?

This is quite possibly a hoax or something that will last an issue or two. But seeing as the idea of the Punisher as Captain America got my buddy Jeff so riled up, I figured I'd have fun posting the image. You can read a minor story on it here. Would it be terribly wrong for me to say that the picture is kind of cool, even if it does have that whole 90s vibe of big guns and oddly positioned ammunition, bandoliers, and pouches?

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Hero City characters

I'd be remiss if I didn't point out this cool post (and cool art) from Jeff Hebert especially since he mentions me. I've let the Hero City campaign die off a bit, but intend to bring it back in a month or so. I really have fun with it. Check it out.

Since Jeff uses three images on his site, I'll use one he left off, also by him, for CrashTest. Check the link above for the other three.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

And the laugh riot that is Funky Winkerbean continues ... again

When I was a kid, a pipe burst in my closet and I got a lot of flooded stuff, including a box or so of comics. Shortly after Dina and I married, I had another leak of some sort that ruined another couple of comic boxes in our apartment.

Both of these occasions sucked. Ruined comics = bad times.

A whole store filled with ruined comics sounds absolutely terrible. Almost as terrible as the "keep my head above water" punchline.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Toxico = awesome

Obviously, I haven't posted any gaming characters recently. The most recent "character of the week" was La Cucaracha back in September 2005.

But gentleman, scholar, and artist extraordinaire Jeff Hebert was kind enough to illustrate a character for me, a Chemo homage I came up with a number of months back called Toxico. And if that image (if you haven't clicked it yet to see it in all its glory, then what the heck is wrong with you?) isn't cool enough to warrant a post, I don't know what is. In fact, Jeff has posted about it as well, so make sure you visit his site for that.

The background he's based on is below. Or you can to see the full Hero System character sheet in all its glory. I was kind of proud of my build for him.

Background: No one's quite sure, or at least, no one admits to knowing, how Toxico came to be. It might have been an experiment of Baron Doom or CLAW, or perhaps it was created by a mad scientist who paid the ultimate price for his folly. But Toxico is clearly not of natural origin. The rampaging monster appeared for the first time in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1961 and was narrowly defeated by two superheroes. Over the years, it has returned again and again to menace humanity.

Personality: Toxico seems to exist only to wreak havoc. A rampaging monster with subhuman intelligence, it derives its greatest satisfaction from breaking things--like buildings, army tanks, and superheroes. Toxico does not reason quite as a human being would--it acts more like an angry animal. It is fairly easy for a villain to manipulate Toxico into action. It possesses some degree of reasoning; it can understand English, although it can't actually speak, and it has an uncanny sense for homing in on the spot that the heroes would most like it to avoid. Toxico is less a personality, though, than it is a dangerous weapon that can level entire city blocks.

Quote: "RRRRAAAAAARRRRRRRRRR!" (Toxico can bellow, but cannot speak.)

Powers: Toxico is a humanoid creature with thick, transparent skin that resembles plastic. Inside this hollow shell is a mass of dangerous chemicals. When Toxico is exposed to large quantities of chemicals, its body can absorb them into itself, making its human-sized body swell to tremendous proportions--as much as 17 meters tall. In this form, it is incredibly strong and tough, and can project chemicals from within its body to burn or engulf opponents. The special effects of these attacks vary depending on the chemicals Toxico absorbed--they can be poisonous, acidic, fiery, cold, or even radioactive. Toxico can heal most quickly when it is able to expose itself to additional dangerous chemicals.

Appearance: Toxico appears as a roughly humanoid creature with thick, transparent, plastic-like skin. It has no bones or organs; instead, it is much more like a balloon filled with deadly chemicals. Those chemicals inside its body boil and churn inside for all to see. Toxico's head is bald, and its eyes are glowing green pools of light.

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Priests to purify site after Bush visit

A funny story I came across from Excite. If the Democrate retake the White House next year, I wonder if they could hire these guys. The picture of the ruins is one I dug up, so to speak. More conversation, and a question of semantics related to the Bush administration, below the article.

Priests to Purify Site After Bush Visit
Mar 9, 12:20 AM (ET)
GUATEMALA CITY (AP) - Mayan priests will purify a sacred archaeological site to eliminate "bad spirits" after President Bush visits next week, an official with close ties to the group said Thursday.

"That a person like (Bush), with the persecution of our migrant brothers in the United States, with the wars he has provoked, is going to walk in our sacred lands, is an offense for the Mayan people and their culture," Juan Tiney, the director of a Mayan nongovernmental organization with close ties to Mayan religious and political leaders, said Thursday.

Bush's seven-day tour of Latin America includes a stopover beginning late Sunday in Guatemala. On Monday morning he is scheduled to visit the archaeological site Iximche on the high western plateau in a region of the Central American country populated mostly by Mayans.

Tiney said the "spirit guides of the Mayan community" decided it would be necessary to cleanse the sacred site of "bad spirits" after Bush's visit so that their ancestors could rest in peace. He also said the rites - which entail chanting and burning incense, herbs and candles - would prepare the site for the third summit of Latin American Indians March 26-30.

Bush's trip has already has sparked protests elsewhere in Latin America, including protests and clashes with police in Brazil hours before his arrival. In Bogota, Colombia, which Bush will visit on Sunday, 200 masked students battled 300 riot police with rocks and small homemade explosives.

The tour is aimed at challenging a widespread perception that the United States has neglected the region and at combatting the rising influence of Venezuelan leftist President Hugo Chavez, who has called Bush "history's greatest killer" and "the devil."

Iximche, 30 miles west of the capital of Guatemala City, was founded as the capital of the Kaqchiqueles kingdom before the Spanish conquest in 1524.
This article reminded me of something that's been on my mind the last couple of days. Media stories about Bush's trip to Latin America have discussed his early promises of focusing attention on relations with Latin America, and how that changed after the September 11 attacks. The phrase I've been hearing a lot, and not from Bush's spokespeople, but mostly from news people on NPR, is that the war on terror "took priority" over relations with countries in Latin America. To me, that's pretty poor phrasing coming from a group that's supposed to be neutral to Bush, and certainly for one that's been accused of being too liberal and too hard on him. It takes a certain responsibility off of his shoulders.

What follows is probably less of a political rant than a linguistic one, so bear with me here. Priorities are assessed and decided on. What made the war on terror a priority over Latin America was a decision from the Bush administration, conscious or unconscious. The Bush administration made the one thing a priority over the other. It didn't just happen by itself.

Now I'm not saying that that was a bad decision. I think that Bush and his cronies have made lots of bad decisions, and that history will continue to turn up more and more of these. But if I had been president, I would have started focusing on terrorism over Latin America, too.*

On the other hand, the fact remains that a choice was made here. To use an extreme example, if there's a fire and I grab my children and get them out of the house and leave a toaster to get burned, that's a choice. It's the right one, but it's a choice. My kids didn't "take priority" over the toaster. I prioritized my kids above the toaster. The war on terror didn't "take priority" over Latin American relations. The Bush administration prioritized the war on terror over Latin American relations.

* At least for the year or so following those attacks. I likely wouldn't have gotten us into a war on Iraq, though, so I would have had a lot more time on my hands to get back to addressing other things, including maintaining relations with neighbors in the Western Hemisphere, signing the Kyoto Protocol, not alienating the entire world, etc.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

See! Wizards of the Coast agrees with me

I declared my loathing of the character Uni the unicorn back in June and it turns out that I wasn't alone. Thanks for having my back, Wizards of the Coast. (The Wizards web site rotates a series of slogans, many of them pretty amusing, below its name--just hit refresh once you're on the site to see more of them).

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The four unspeakable truths about Iraq

There's a really good article on Slate about the Iraq War and the kinds of things that politicians are afraid to say about it. Well worth reading.

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Make it so. Or maybe not...

This image on the left isn't from a new Star Trek show. It's not from a movie. It's not from an attraction in Las Vegas.

No, this is some dude in his own apartment, which he has lovingly, painstakingly, and expensively designed to look like part of a Star Trek ship.

My initial reactions:

  • Hey, that's kind of cool.
  • That would get pretty old in about 15 minutes, and I like Trek a lot.
  • This guy is going to have serious trouble getting women (or men, as the case may be) to visit his transporter room. If you know what I mean.
  • What are his power bills like? How much time does he spend dusting those consoles?
  • Wouldn't you feel weird walking around that place in jeans? Of course, you'd feel pretty weird walking around in a Starfleet uniform, too. Except for you, Larry.
  • The article I linked to above refers to this as the guy's (Tony Alleyne's) "ultimate bachelor pad." Uh huh. It doesn't exactly go with Barry White, you know.
  • I can envision a really bad reality show where a dozen or so Trekkies have to live in this apartment together, and every week one of them is "fired out the photon tube" or "sent to the transporter room" or "put in a red shirt."

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My Star Trek inspirational thought for the day

There are more like this at this web site. Funny stuff.

Confession: I've had this one hanging in my cubicle at work for a while now.

Confession two: Yes, I know that the astronaut game is too wide for my site, so I'm bumping it down a bit lower.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Crazy astronaut lady

Astronaut Moonstalker
I'll probably get bad karma for this. Yes, I will get bad karma for this. Ouch, that ceiling tile falling on my head hurt.

But this Astronaut Moonstalker game is kind of funny.

EDIT: I originally had the game embedded here, but it causes all sorts of problems with the site.

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Cap follow-up

SPOILER ALERT: If you want to read Captain America #25 unspoiled, then read no further. Otherwise, scroll down.

Jeff Hebert, one of the three or four readers of this blog (Hi, Jeff! Hi, Andy! Hi, Michael! Hi, Mom!) and all-around good guy posted a comment to the Captain America story I posted earlier, and my reply to that got long enough that I figured I'd put it here instead.

Here's what Jeff had to say:

One word: Ugh.

And to have THE PUNISHER take his place? That's downright blasphemous. The Punisher is in every way the anti-Cap, standing not for the American way but rather the Punisher way. He'll always be the epitome of the villain-as-superhero archetype that turned me off of comics for twenty years.

There's room for anti-heroes in the genre, of course, but Captain America and Superman shouldn't be in their ranks. They're the opposite of anti-heroes; they're supposed to be the pure, unadulterated, wholly good (while still kicking ass) epitome of what a real hero is.

I'm very glad now I've avoided "Civil War". I've yet to read one of these epic, world-redefining, multi-series slugfests since I was too young to know better with "Crisis in Infinite Earths", and I clearly haven't missed much.

This really blows. I love Cap. Feh on Marvel.

1:47 PM

Jeff, to be fair, I haven't read enough of the comics to be sure where this is heading. I bought the first two or three issues of Civil War, but refused to buy the issue where they killed off Bill Foster, AKA Black Goliath, letting my money do the talking for me.

In the Civil War comics I saw, the Punisher had some serious hero worship going on for Cap, and when Cap took off his mask at the end of Civil War #7 in order to surrender as Steve Rogers, the Punisher picked it up and stared thoughtfully at it. Anything beyond that is conjecture.

And I looked at Captain America #25 briefly during my lunch hour. There's some potential ambivalence there as to whether he's dead. On the other hand, if Marvel has orchestrated this much media attention on the issue only to have it be a feint of some type (they're saying Captain America is dead, but he's really in protective custody or whatever), then shame on Marvel. If Marvel makes the news reporters look like chumps, the reporters will be that much less likely to cover comic bookrelated stories.

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Captain America

If you haven't read about developments in the Captain America series and want to read the issue coming out today before reading spoilers, stop now. Otherwise, scroll down.

CNN is reporting that Marvel has killed Captain America off in issue #25 of the current series, a follow-up to the god-awful Civil War storyline that I've refrained from commenting on.


The writer, Ed Brubaker, is very good, and you never know how the storyline is going to shake out, but my initial reaction is pretty negative. In a lot of ways, killing Captain America has more cultural impact than killing Superman. Cap is both cultural icon and American symbol, and his death feels a bit to me like someone demolishing the Statue of Liberty. Steve Rogers has quit before. In fact, he's done it a couple of times. But actually killing him? It doesn't seem right to me. And if it's all a big smokescreen and he's not dead, or comes back right away? That seems wrong, too.

America's struggling with a lot of problems right now. Problems of leadership and corruption. Seems like it needs good symbols now as much as at any time I can think of. Not symbols to hide behind or support with jingoistic fervor, but symbols to rely on, to aspire to. Judging by a hint or two in previous comics, it looks like the Punisher might even take Captain America's place for a while. Or maybe the Winter Soldier (AKA Bucky the resurrected). This isn't the time for the good-hearted, straight-shooting Steve Rogers to be out of the Captain America role. This isn't the time for a gritty "realistic" hero to take up the shield. This is the time for our symbol to be a beacon for what America should be and isn't right now.

Say it ain't so.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

What's Ray thinking?

My own contribution to the "What's Ray thinking" meme started on the incredibly amusing Chris's Invincible Super-Blog.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Chunk from The Goonies vs. Jack Bauer

I'm a huge fan of The Goonies and this YouTube clip made me laugh. First attempt at including a video piece on my blog. We'll see how it goes.

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