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Sunday, August 28, 2005

One More Month...

Well, what a week. Started my new job and it actually went well, so here’s hoping it continues to keep getting better. Got another week to learn before the busy schedule hits, so I better take advantage of it. I can’t wait till I’m through with the other job and I can have some 24 hour weeks and some time to rest. With any luck, it’ll be a real good, relaxing fall and Christmas – October, November, December, my favorite months of the year…

Spent some time and got Dosbox working on my computer. I can now play NHL95 – one of my old favorites. They just don’t make games like that anymore. Couldn’t even guess how many hours I spent playing that game and Hardball 3 back in the day. Then crappy Windows took over the world and made playing good games a virtual nightmare. Now I finally got around to using DosBox. Cool. I wonder if I could get Wayne Gretzky Hockey 3 working without rebooting the machine…

Going to be a hectic September, so posts might be a little light. One month to go, though, then I can breathe a big sigh of relief…

Sunday, August 21, 2005

There oughtta be a law...

Stupid f$#$%!& spammers!!! Because of that shit, I've had to change my settings to only let registered Blog users post comments. We'll see if that thins the crowd. Maybe in a little while I can try setting it back, but for now that's the way it's gotta be.

Too bad there isn't a way to identify these $$!#&*%s and then have a button you could hit that would send 50,000 volts back up the line and fry their computers! Now that would be justice...

End rant from one ticked off Blogger...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

That'll Be Me

"Remember how you warned me,
'Bout all your leavin' plans
Well, I know this might seem unexpected
So prepare yourself
The best you can -

That'll be me you'll see
Walking Away
That'll be me you'll see
For the last time today
That'll be me you'll see
For not very long
'Cause that'll be me
You'll see
That'll be gone."
-Dwight Yoakam

Just sums up how I'm feelin' these, it's a cool song with a good groove...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Hard Goodbye

What a day yesterday was. (Bonus points if you know who sings the song with that as a title). I got a new job offer, finally, Thank God! I’ll be starting next week and will begin the slow extrication process of getting out of where I am. One way or the other, I’ll be free of my current job by the end of September, maybe sooner. (Well, one can hope.). Now it’s on to new things, and hopefully a new, more relaxed state of affairs in my life. After all the shit I’ve been through in the last 10 years, it is way past time for me to slow down and do some things with my life that I want to do and that doesn’t involve something work related at a job I hate. Life goes by pretty quick, sometimes quicker for some than others, and when its all said and done, the last thing I want to do is look back and say “Well, I went to work a lot, then was too tired to do anything else.” I ain’t saying it’s going to be easy, but it’d be nice to try living for a change instead of just existing…

Anyway, ‘nuff of that stuff. Yesterday was the release date of the DVD for Sin City! I went straight over to Future Shop on my lunch break (not really a lunch break, since I had the work phones forwarded to me and got a couple of calls while in the store) and bought myself a copy. Of course, I bought the one with Marv on the cover, or slipcase as it were. Now, I know full well that I’m getting ripped off. The director has already stated that the special edition 2 disc setup will be coming “fairly soon”, so the double dip is in full swing. Also, I know that the variant covers are just a marketing ploy (not a bad one though, on their part – there might actually be some who buy several copies just for the variant covers. Now that’d be really stupid.) However, I liked the movie so much I just had to have it, double dip or no, and it’s a rare movie that I’d do that when I know full well a SE is coming later. So, my plan is to enjoy this copy till I hear about the new one’s street date, then offload this one to a reseller as soon as possible. At least I can now watch Marv kick ass whenever I want ;-)

Oh, and in what was a surprise for me, I got a free Sin City shot glass with purchase. Cool, but since I don’t drink it’ll go unused. Nice collector piece though…

I got home and watched the movie on my LCD computer screen with the lights out – very cool. Excellent sound quality too. Oh, and I haven’t seen cooler “interactive menu” screen backgrounds yet. It morphs between pages from the comic book and shots from the movie in a neat way, taking you through Sin City while it waits for your selection.

Anyway, a very cool day indeed. Like I told a friend – I’m not used to several good things happening in one day, so I’m carefully listening for the sound of the other shoe dropping. Hopefully it will stay airborne and this will go as well as the plan seems on paper…

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Oh Yeah, Hockey's Back...

Oh No! No, no, no, no, no, no!!! Eric Lindros has signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Yes, THAT Eric Lindros. The dude who is one hit away from losing what's left of his head. Good thing hockey is not a contact sport. So that makes the two key signings by the Maple Laughs two older concussion prone big centres. Oh well, it'll be kinda cool to watch Lindros in a Leafs jersey for the whole length of half his first shift. Then he'll accidentally bump into Tie Domi and be gone for the rest of the season.

Of course, the Edmonton Oilers are really my team (tho I grew up watching the Leafs), and with the new CBA, they might finally have a chance if GM Kevin Lowe doesn't completely lose his mind. Getting Chris Pronger was a wild acquisition out of nowhere, but the Oil gave up way too much for him. Then, while Peca is a good addition, I think giving up Mike York was a little costly as I think a guy like York could put up some points in the new NHL. Let's just hope they get some decent goaltending. One thing you gotta say about Lowe - he isn't afraid to pull the trigger on a trade...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Mmmm, Doughnuts....

This pic was too good not to post. Krispy Kreme is still in trouble money wise, it would seem.

"Freshly iced doughnuts roll by on a conveyor belt at a Krispy Kreme store in Winston-Salem, N.C., Jan. 14, 2005. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. needs to restate its past earnings downward by $25.6 million over the past several years, according to a report issued Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2005, by a special committee examining the finances of the troubled snack maker. (AP Photo/Kim Walker) "

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Llamas and Music

So, what's the deal with some of these online sites for viewing music videos? I used to be able to go to and watch new music videos and even listen to whole albums in their 'Listening Parties' section. Now, however, I can't get any of that to work! The videos section hasn't worked for a while, and now the audio section is a dud too. I can click on the link, the pop up media player opens as usual, then it just sits there doing nothing like a politician during work hours. The weird thing is, it seems to be a Windows 2000 thing or something, cause I did get it to work on an XP machine once...

Whatever, so that sites a dud, there are others. So, I surfed over to Yahoo Launch music site and found the new Gary Allen video there. Looking good...or so I thought. I opened that pop up media player that I've used plenty of times in the past with no problems and get short circuited with a wacky "This video cannot be played in your region" message. So, I guess there are only Gary Allen fans in the U.S. This happens on their other videos too, so I doubt its an artist thing. Looks like a moronic move from Yahoo. What kind of idiot came up with this gameplan? And why was it fine for years, but suddenly taboo to play a music video across an IP border? One more useless website...

So, for curiousity's sake, I surf over to, the 'Canadian' version. Interestingly, I could play videos there, but it didn't even have the new Gary Allen one listed or any other I was looking for. Yet another useless site...

I finally did what I should have done to begin with. I opened my Winamp Media Library, clicked on Winamp Music Videos, let it load its vast selection, clicked on the Gary Allen one and enjoyed watching it hassle free. Go Winamp! I was also able to listen to the new Faith Hill CD in its entirety and find many other songs and videos I wanted to hear and see. I guess Winamp really does kick the llama's (or in the case Yahoo's) ass...

By the way, the song/video by Gary Allen I was looking for was his latest "Best I Ever Had". The video makes little sense, though it looks nice, but the song's a winner. Also, the new Faith Hill CD sounds good, with a couple real good tunes including "I Ain't Gonna Take It" and "If You Ask". There is one real clunker on there, though, but that can be overlooked...

Sunday, August 07, 2005

This Can't Be Good...

Yahoo! Movies: Weekend Box Office Report

So, the Dukes remake movie opened this weekend and racked up an amazing 30.6 million...and here I was hoping it would tank. It might be an alright comedy on its own, but it's too bad they had to trash the Dukes legacy on their way to 30 mil. There is some interesting news though - apparently the vast majority of those that did go to see it were under the age of 25. This would seem to indicate the older fans of the original didn't feel inclined to go see it, and those that did were more of the "American Pie - Stiffler" crowd. It's still a shame though that they couldn't have done this right. I mean, even tho Starsky and Hutch turned into an oddball comedy, they at least had the decency to include the original cast in a brilliant cameo. From what I've heard, the studio wanted nothing to do with the original or it's cast, and from the looks of it, they succeeded...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Talking or Listening

This was a column posted on the Comic's based site, a site that I read a lot. The article is written by Alex Groff, whom I don't know, but just thought I'd mention it to make sure you know I didn't write it. However, I found it quite interesting. It's kind of what I've been thinking a lot about over the last year - instead of always just talking about other works, be it films, music, books, etc (and quite enjoying it), wouldn't it be a lot more satisfying to actually create something myself and put that out there for others to start talking about? Risky, yes, but ultimately rewarding...

I had dabbled in writing different things just for myself for a while, but when I read the first Sin City book, the Hard Goodbye, then saw the film and listened to the comments of Frank Miller of how it all came to be, it really made me want to create something like that myself. After a lot of thinking and some talking with friends, I'm going to try and am now trying to shuffle some things around in my life to make that possible. Worst case scenario is that everything is rejected and I can't get anything published, which means I'm no worse off than I am now. And like it states in this column, those who have created have never stated they were bored. The adventure is in the trying, I suppose.

Who knows where it will lead, but due to other factors, I'm one of those with a possible short window of opportunity. I'd like to be able to look back on it and be proud of what I've accomplished - and more importantly, win or lose, know I tried and gave it the effort...

X-World Comics presents... ComiX-Fan, the #1 online comics resource!

by Alex Groff
Apparently, low sales have led to the cancellation of this column. We talked about taking it to another comic websites, but right now with the contracts being the way they are, it looks like the story ends here. We did our best to tie up loose ends and hopefully the story will read well. We had such plans! There’s talk of a miniseries next year, and the editors said that from there they would reconsider the column based on how it’s received. We want it to be clear that we have no problems with the publisher (after all, they are putting out our miniseries!) and they have no problems with us! We’d love to talk about our next column but Raul said wants to keep it quiet for a little while longer—needless to say, we’re not going anywhere. It’s been a great run. So long and thanks for the fish!

I recently discovered LiveJournal. Its been around forever, I know, but in the past month I’ve met eight people who all do LiveJournal, and I decided to read what these people had to say. It reminded me a lot of message boards. I spent a few days just traveling from account to account—using the judicious logic of clicking random links—and the result was a bit depressing, to be honest.

Now, there has been a lot of enthusiasm in promoting the internet as a forum for discussion. What I have noticed is that discussions do not actually happen, or rather if they happen, they happen in hidden corners where no one is paying any attention. Discussions require at least two people interacting, sometimes even more. Instead, we have a great number of people talking about themselves, to themselves. LiveJournal responses are almost always brief, nonsensical things that you wouldn’t say to a person’s face if you were sober, but have no problem typing. I fail to see how this is a discussion.

Similarly, read most discussions after reviews, columns, and interviews. Doesn’t really matter what site; its pretty consistent. Some get little or no attention. Others have a few praising comments, a few damning comments, a few people who didn’t actually read the book or article they’re commenting on, a bit of trolling or troll-baiting… but no actual interaction—no discussion. The shame is, there are some great reviews , great interviews, and great columns out there-- but they rarely inspire discussion.

And isn’t that kind of the point?

There was a play by Sam Shepherd where each member of the cast was talking, but no one was listening to anyone else. The young man talked about a moment in his childhood that left him feeling despondent and alone; the woman talked about the failures of her love life and how she had become complacent; the young girl talked about her dreams for the future. No one heard what the others had to say. No one responded. It was as if they were talking to no one. It was billed as a comedy, and there were more than a few bawdy scenes to keep our interest, but I still feel it was one of the most tragic plays I’ve ever seen.

The most common theme that I’ve seen on LiveJournal is loneliness.

You’re probably asking, “so, wait, how does this relate to comics?” It doesn’t actually. It relates to comics discussions, to columns and to the internet in general. This really is the last Typographical Errors. Not because of the site’s unwieldy hand, but because I feel as if I’ve been talking too much, and not listening enough.

That’s a strange thing to admit to. Sure, there is more I could say. There was supposed to be a series of columns comparing comic books to film, tv shows, novels, comic strips-- showing the differences. There was a series of columns dealing with panel layouts, the use of blank space, the relationship between words and pictures… but in the end, I sat here wondering if there was anything I could say that couldn’t be better explained by handing you the comic. That’s why I write reviews: it’s a chance to jump up and down excitedly and say “look, look what they’re doing, look!” With this column, I’ve put myself on a sort of pedestal, undeservedly, and talked about ideas. Now it’s time for someone to make those ideas reality.

Last month, I was having coffee with a friend who just had her first book of poetry published—leatherbound and beautiful—and she commented, “its important to remember that the poem’s the thing. A lot of professors talk theory and form, but when you get down to it, writing is about writing, not the rest of it.” Comics are no different.

Neil Gaiman was talking about Dave McKean’s work, and laughed at the fact that styles being taught in art colleges were never intended to be styles. McKean was simply trying to figure out the best solution to the artistic problem he was working with. The difference between ideas and action.

Brian Hibbs has a great column entitled "Tilting at Windmills." If half the ideas in that column were put into action, comics would sell like Hollywood blockbusters. Sadly, he's published a book, written two volumes of columns, and things are still pretty much the same as they ever were. Sadly. Someone take Hibbs' ideas and put them into action. That man is a genius.

The second most common theme I’ve seen on LiveJournal, in my students, and with my friends, is boredom.

I keep buying minicomics, and even though I laugh at some of the truly bad ones, it says something that the creator put forth the effort to make it. We have become a world of spectators and preachers: quick to watch, quick to criticize, quick to offer advice to others. But as Oscar Wilde pointed out, the only thing you can do with good advice is pass it on, as its really not all that useful.

What the world needs is a community of creators, of people who take action. Doing is hard. As Hesse pointed out, “It [is] one thing to indulge in daydreaming and intoxicating hours and another to wrestle strenuously and resolutely with the form as with demons.”

After all the artists and writers I've interviewed or met at expos, I cannot remember hearing the word "bored" once.

I can picture someone at this point commenting how art is just like LiveJournal, that it is one person’s monologue, not a discussion. Plays like "The Vagina Monologues" and the recent glut of hyperrealist pseudo-memoirs don't dissuade the argument. I spent most of 2004 and this first half of 2005 thinking about this. (Joel, Dayna and Jordan may remember the discussions: thank you all.) But the answer was actually quite obvious. Why would we be on a comics message board if art didn’t inspire us to want to say something?

The art is the thing. Emo is a two-edged sword. For all of the mocking that it has faced, there is a genuine creative spirit alive today in the faces of my students, my friends. My students knit scarves and sew skirts and purses; they draw comics and write poetry; they paint and take photographs; they dance, act, play instruments and sing. The danger is that, if they-- if we-- get too obsessed with ourselves and our own voices-- with ideas and theories-- we lose a hold of the art and the conversation ends.

Yes, I see the irony in not talking in order to have a conversation, but there it is. "Not I, not I, but the wind that blows through me." That is how D.H. Lawrence described art. It is time for me to listen, to let the wind blow.

My coffee has finished brewing, and the sky is looking slightly cloudy, but there is still time for a walk before the rains come. I hope you’ve enjoyed these columns. Al, Raul, Ahmed, you have my thanks. Ta.
Alex groff used to write this column. He thanks you for having read it.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and are not reflective of Comixfan or its other staff in general.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Give a Dog a Clone - Times Online

World news from The Times and the Sunday Times - Times Online

Well, besides the classic headline from the London Times, its an interesting story. Here's hoping we're getting closer to beneficial organ cloning for transplant patients. The ratio of donors to patients who need help keeps getting worse by the day...

Darkness, panic, safety after Toronto plane crash - Yahoo! News

Darkness, panic, safety after Toronto plane crash - Yahoo! News

Wow, that must have been some site on the 401 yesterday. Thank God no one was killed.
I guess it just goes to show that no matter what type of vehicle it is, rain slicked pavement decreases stopping ability.
I wonder what the final investigation will come out with - ie. who's decision was it to land there at that time? Did they not have enough fuel to divert? Did they not have Michelin all weather tires?