31 December 2009

Funniest thing I saw in 2009

With apologies to Rachael Maddow as I'm totally stealing the same bit...

30 December 2009

Best Whatever of 2009

So yeah... I'm doing that...

Best music I bought this year: It is a close race this year for me. The Mastadon record is amazing... the Black Crowes record is magnificent. But for me, the one I like the most is the John Mayer Live in LA. The second set (his blues trio) got me back into the blues and is just damn fine.
EDIT: Yeah... I have to change my vote here... Blueprint III is too good. It will get a whole post devoted to it in the next week or so.

Best movie I saw: Wish I could say Watchmen, but it was just sort of flawed. I can't really put my finger on why. GI Joe is a hilarious nostalgia fest for me, and only lacked someone turning to the camera and saying "America... FUCK YEAH" to just be Team America without puppets. For me tho, I think this year, it was Inglorious Bastards. Christolph Waltz (the main SS officer) is unfathomably good in this. I can't wait to watch the guy in things, and wish I could appreciate more German cinema. The first scene in the cabin is worth the price of admission by itself. Also, Brad Pitt being so over the top as a Tennessee officer was amazing. I love that the guy can embed himself into a character like that and make it something memorable and not a joke. He walks the line, and pulls it off, which is really damn hard.

Best tech that actually delivered:  The year started with me drooling over the possibilities of the Palm Pre. Man it looked good at CES didn't it? Too bad the keyboard is criminally small and the apps aren't worth writing home about. For me tho, watching Android evolve into its own niche of a geeky iPhone was awesome. I have one (HTC Hero) and I freaking love it. Honorable mention goes to my swanky LCD TV and Blu-Ray player. I can actually watch football at home without wanting to choke someone. Going to games live and seeing the whole field spoils you in ways you can't understand until you've done it yourself. Another note... Windows 7 is actually good. It is so unproblematic that I forgot to include it.

Best Add-On for Firefox: This comes down to two for me... Stylish and Feedly. Yeah, I know, neither were new this year. But I got them for the first time this year. Stylish plays to me UI Config fetish, and Feedly is a superb RSS aggregation tool. Once you have either, you can't see the web the same again.

Best New Habit: I has a blog now. It clears my head and whether or not anyone reads it, its fun to do it.

Best Renewal of Old: I got back into Warhammer with the Bell Of Lost Souls Tourney in August. It is back as my main hobby, and I'm glad to be back. I'm committed to going to tourneys in 2010 and learning more about the game... and actually painting my Orks...

Best Texas Football Thing: 1530 bring Geoff and Chad together is pretty sweet... 1300's morning show is brilliant (Ahmad Brooks will be a national analyst... just watch... its only a matter of time)... Seeing Colt get the love from the DKRMS faithful... Seeing the look on my father's face whenever Shipley broke one... The sound of my mother screaming "COME ON HORNS". For me tho... the best... was seeing Texas fight for every inch on every play. They never quit all year. I'm proud to be a fan of this team and can't wait for the big game next week.

Best Comic Book Thing: The fruition of years of plans by Brian Bendis has been a fun thing to watch, and it promises to truly pay off with The Siege. Blackest Night is fun as hell. Fraction's Iron Man is brilliant. Brubaker showing everyone that he had a plan from the start with Captain America is like that moment when you knew you trusted a friend no matter what anyone said, and he paid off that trust like gang busters. For me tho, the best of the year goes to something no one created... it came to my realization that what I truly love about comics is sequential, serialized story telling as its own art form. See the previous "What makes good comics" post for more on this.

Okay... I'm sure there is more... that's what I have for now. At some point I'm going to put up a wish list for 2010.

Oh and one last thing... to the God of War, the Crowbar and the Dog Barber... you three are my rocks, and I wouldn't have had the best year of my life without you.

Much love to all. Happy New Year... and don't break nothing what can't be fixed.

24 December 2009

UI Config Addiction and Android

So... long ago I came to the realization that I'm a flat out user interface configuration addict. I will constantly change up the look of whatever tool I'm using to get it exactly how I want it. Hell, I ran litestep on XP. My WoW interface looked nothing like what most people played with... and I constantly futzed with it.


Now I have an Android phone, the sublime HTC Hero for Sprint. It's the crack of UI Configs. You have 7 home screens. You can add or remove anything you want on the fly and because HTC is the devil, you can save multiple layouts for different needs. It is amazing. It is wonderful, and my neck will never forgive me.

After two weeks with a touch screen phone, I'm completely addicted. The Android OS is smooth and perfect for my OCDish UI config addiction. My only complaints about the phone are that the vibrate isn't strong enough and the slightly sluggish performance. The vibrate isn't likely to change, but the firmware upgrade rumored to be coming in Feb should solve the sluggishness.

In short: I love the damn thing. Its wonderful. I'm completely addicted. Now if only I could use my mouse to swipe back and forth between programs. Time to find a mouse gestures program for Windows 7... God help me...

Thoughts? Anyone else afflicted?

17 December 2009

Why I Love Being an Underdog

Guess what? Texas fans get to watch this video and get pumped. Let em all pick Bama. I can't freaking wait till the game gets here...

10 December 2009

What Makes Good Comics?

Ambitious title I know, but bear with me here…

So the key to good comics is good storytelling. In comics that isn't just the right words together or a great plot, but it’s the ability to put all of that in a sequential format to convey the story. Great art helps, but truly great comics benefit from art that moves the story and creates that flow to draw you into each page. A great comic is a symbiosis of art and writing that tells a story in the unique method of the medium.

But what makes the comic book medium so different? Why do some things work and others fail? Why is it so difficult to make a comic book movie right?

A good story is a good story, doesn't matter what medium its in. A good story should come through and pull you into it. But not every story works in every medium. Some are tailor made for certain mediums…

Movie:  the latest Star Trek is an amazing example of why a movie should be a movie. There are sequences in there that are why people got into the business. That story was grand, but also tight and could come across perfectly on screen. Visually it had a specific feel that another medium likely would have lost.

Novel: Infinite Jest is a rambling, brilliant and funny exploration of humanities obsession with entertainment. It brings a specific perspective that really could only work in a book. Its insane juxtapositions of theme and constant flipping between character perspectives takes full advantage of the novel. The reader is invested from the start and only pulled deeper as the author leads you to where he wants to take you.  It's brilliant, but dense, and brings out everything that can be great about a novel.

Comic: The Dark Knight Returns is an almost perfectly crafted comic. It takes full advantage of the page and the ability to fill it with information while still generating a sense of flow to everything. Its big moments are dramatic because they take up the space to drive home the impact. The constant TV anchor works because its narrating the action, something that would be challenging at best to sit through in a theatre and would be disjointed in a novel.

TV:  The Wire, in my opinion, is the best show to ever air on television and a genuine accomplishment in story telling. The characters (and by that I mean the writers) use the sense of time you can accomplish with a series and a set of seasons to convey growth and genuine humanity. By the end, every last character is a fully realized person whose motivation follows a track that has been set since they were introduced. You understand why someone does it, and almost tragically, you see the bad choices coming from a mile away but can't look away as someone jumps off that cliff into a painful dive.

Could any of these worked in the other medium? Maybe. I don't think Infinite Jest could come across in a movie. If it did, we all might leave the theatre mad as hatters. It *might* work in a TV format, but honestly, it’s a novel and best explored as such. TDKR is a comic through and through. While elements have found themselves in the latest movies, it too plays with tricks that only work in a comic. Star Trek would feel flat on the page, and as a TV series, would feel like a bunch of mini movies. The Wire *could* work as a novel or even a comic, but it is so damn good as a TV show, why jack with it?

And there's the rub... why jack with it? Why make something that works and push it to another place? Why did we *have* to have a Watchmen movie? Somehow it just didn't work. Its great, but the comic is revered and is probably the pinnacle of what you can accomplish with the medium thus far. Was I the only one who felt like Sin City felt stiff and visually forced? It’s a fun movie, don't get me wrong, but for me it just fell flat a little. In the same vein, why do we need a comic book adaption of every big movie? Other than the obviously naked grab for revenue of course.

But sometimes it works… Iron Man for example. It is a GREAT movie. That's what it is tho… it is a movie. It isn't a comic book adaption, it is characters who were first brought to life in a comic and then brought into the medium of film to become that much larger than life. It also doesn't hurt that Robert Downey Jr. is the most perfect bit of casting this side of the Harry Potter movies.

But I digress….
Good comics take advantage of the medium. They play with the limitations and create brilliance through working with it, not against it. The comics in the 90's, particularly the bad Image books, failed in their ability to tell a story because they were all flash and no substance. The same way so many books from the 70's are almost unreadable because of how over emphasized the writing is. Good comics take both writing and art to build a story and create a page flow.

What's the point of this rambling? Not even sure any more… I guess what I'm trying to convey is that good comics take advantage of the unique medium of sequential art and use it to enhance to tale. A good story is a good story, but a good comic is a good comic.

Anyone have any thoughts?

09 December 2009

Nids... giddyness

So the Nid book is out in January... and I'm giddy. Now I just have to pain up the Orc Army first before I dig into buying and building the Nid army.

That's the goal... painted Orcs before I get into Nids... that's the goal...

Smell that underdogaliciousness?

Man I love the build up to a National Title game. Texas, at least in the last few years, has always been an underdog against some sort of amazing team.

Why? Texas looked brutal against what might be the best defensive player I've ever seen. The thing is, they still won the damn game. Texas did what they needed to do to beat Nebraska. I'm with Mack on this... if it was in the SEC we would hear all this about how amazing the defense was and how strong the Texas D looked and how incredible the Nebraska D was. Instead? Well, you've heard it by now, no reason to recap.

Bama looked amazing against Florida. They just took it to 'em and beat the Gators as soundly as a team can get beat.

Thing is? I think Texas will hang, and in the end beat Bama. More analysis to come... well what passes for analysis anyway.

Until then... God love the underdog.