Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2008

Why you might want to consider watching Punisher: War Zone.

It's gotten terrible reviews. It can't be good. Ignoring the whole comicbook thing, its pedigree is questionable, at best. Yes, yes, I know. Just like the Punisher cannot be good in comparison to other heroes, it seems Punisher movies cannot be good in comparison to other action or comicbook flicks. Even when I was a kid, the Dolf Lundgren Punisher was laughably bad, but not so much that it was really worth seeing. The series reboot, starring Thomas Jane, seemed so uninteresting, I didn't even consider watching it.

Just like the Punisher cannot be good in comparison to other heroes, it seems Punisher movies cannot be good in comparison to other action or comicbook flicks. Rebooted and recast, again, this time with Titus Pullo--known to those who haven't watched Rome as 'Ray Stevenson'--in the lead role, would the Punisher fare any better this time around?

I decided to find out last week. It was Tuesday night at 7PM, so even though I was at the only screen showin…

I am in demand.

The city of Toronto apparently thinks I can stop violence. So why not give it a go? There can't be much there, right?

Nevermind the drawing of a (rather one sided) fight in the post below this. Better on computer screens than on the streets, right?

Magic tricks

How to make a bad sketch into something entertaining. Slapdash digital editing optional.

Pointless Man: Death to Pretty Boy Groups! (10, 11)

Trivia: Pointless Man is living in the past.

Pointless Man: Death to Pretty Boy Groups! (9)

Trivia: Pointless Man leaves notes in the margins of books he sells to second hand stores.

Pointless Man: Death to Pretty Boy Groups! (8)

Trivia: Pointless Man neither confirms nor denies his rumoured affair with the girl from Ipanema.

The Who's Who's Next never fails me.

The original release (less the CD 'bonus' tracks) is the best rock album of all time. 'Baba O'Riley' opening notes always make my eyes crinkle in a smile. After many listens, my whole body anticipates the moments the drums kick in from that first bit of synth. When you hit the fiddle at the end of that opening track, you're reached the plateau. No flagging moments on this record; just a rush right through to 'Won't Get Fooled Again'.

Who's Next may not offer the forward thinking production of late Beatles material, or the towering rock of Led Zepplin, but, in exchange, the Who offer superior commentary and vision (both satiric and earnest), as well as better played piano, bass, and drums, in a tight little package whose coherence as a single piece is rarely challenged in classic rock.

Now, to tie this in to recent events, many is the revolution people have cheered. How many have brought the 'change we need'? Here's hoping this boss isn…

Pointless Man: Death to Pretty Boy Groups! (7)

Trivia: Crawling through ventilation ducts is not just dangerous, it is nigh impossible. Don't try this at home, kids.
Commentary: Tavis should have redrawn this page, but got lazy.

Pointless Man: Death to Pretty Boy Groups! (6)

Trivia: Pointless Man wears a mock-turtleneck to bed in honour of mock turtle soup, which is actually quite tasty.

Pointless Man: Death to Pretty Boy Groups! (5)

Trivia: Dastardly Bank, owned and operated by the Whiplash family, triggered the American financial crisis through its practice of tying clients with variable rate mortgages to train tracks and walking away while laughing maniacally.

Pointless Man: Death to Pretty Boy Groups! (4)

Trivia: Pointless Man folds his futon daily, airs it out weekly, and uses it to make a fort in the living room at least once a month.

Pointless Man: Death to Pretty Boy Groups! (3)

So, I decided to just be lazy and get this series done (digitally) using a few quick filters, instead of the gruelling process I used on these first few pages. (Screw that nonsense.) As a result, I'll be able to get the rest of the comic up at my leisure. I think I'll put up pages three a week 'til I'm done. There's only 11 pages, so it won't take that long.

More denial of will.

--Preamble: I would like to flesh out my remarks from June 23, 2008. This is an attempt to make a more coherent whole out of comments made at the Forum over at GameFAQs. Those familiar with my postings there may find little new in this entry.--

There are no acts of will. For there is no will. Thus concepts such as 'free will' or 'constrained will' are meaningless. In denying the usefulness, meaningfulness, and existence of the will as a special faculty (and thus any basis for questions of free will), I deny terms and distinctions such as 'determinism'. Of course, not everyone agrees with me.

Determinists claim we do not have free will because either some deity, arbitrary fate, or the laws of physics constrain the will in an important and meaningful fashion (typically due to everything being thus predetermined), perhaps leaving us without personal responsibility. Some supporters of 'free will' (as concept) respond, 'Determinism is meaningless to everyd…

"I don't think the ranger is going to like this, Yogi."

If you had to choose, would you call this a depiction of contempt, anger, or something else?

Scott McCloud's Making Comics has a section on basic expressions, which he thinks we will all recognize. I found that I disagreed with some of his characterizations there. More so, when he 'combined' base looks to show more complex emotions. Outside of context, human facial expression seems wildly interpretable and subjective to me. Yourself?

Sideshow Overtakes Centre Ring: the Vice Presidential Debate

A lot of people tuned in to the debate last night, more than watched the first Obama-McCain face off, according to Nielsen ratings. Some of them had to be hoping for or expecting gaffes, which didn't quite materialize. By this token, both Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin are said to have outperformed expectations (and, in the process, disappointing Jon Stewart).

From the onset, Biden's strategy was to attack McCain instead of Palin, tie McCain to Bush, and explain in concrete terms how an Obama-Biden administration would be different. Palin's was to avoid specifics, dodge questions and rebuttals she didn't like, and keep after Barack Obama (and thus to put Biden on the defensive) while smiling and delivering as many folksy colloquialisms as possible. She made a point of saying that she would not necessarily respond to the moderator or her debate partner, because she wanted to talk directly to the American people.

Both made attempts to exhibit their 'mainstr…

Miike Takashi's Sukiyaki Western Django

I am a big fan of prolific Japanese director, Miike Takashi. His movies are not always good (which would be an accomplishment, considering he averages about three feature length films a year), but he doesn't mind experimenting or playing around. Not everything he tries works, but when it does, it can be pretty damn awesome.

His subjects and genres vary wildly from a musical about a family running an inn, to a kid fighting goblins, to some of the best yakuza flicks I've seen. Meanwhile, he tends to get good performances from his actors, even when they are children or non-native Japanese speakers. The only time I've been completely disappointed with one of his pieces was a rejected instalment in Showtime's Masters of Horror, entitled 'Imprint'. The story was stupid, and the acting was bad. This was Miike's first all English production, and it showed.

So, when I found out one of his 2007 films, Sukiyaki Western Django was in English, I was a bit put off. How di…

More movies

When I am at my mom and stepdad's place, I sometimes end up seeing movies I would never watch otherwise. Recent titles have included Codename: The Cleaner and A Night at the Museum, both of which were better than I would have thought, though the leads played to my expectations. Cedric the Entertainer is still hilarious, and Ben Stiller is still better suited to serious acting than comedy.

While baking some banana bread, I also ended up seeing about half of Shut Up and Sing, the documentary about the Dixie Chicks pissing off all their patriotic country fans and dealing with the fallout. Getting past the terribly uninteresting music, the film was pretty interesting and well made. The Chicks and their manager can be genuinely entertaining as people, and watching the business side of things is fascinating. It's also disturbing to see just how dumb some of their former fans are.

On my own, I've recently watched:

Miike Takashi's 2007 flick, Crows Zero, is a stupid, but enjoyabl…

Doomsday and The Long Good Friday

After watching the unrated version of Doomsday I think it took an unnecessary beating at the hands of critics, but who knows how different the theatrical release was? I've enjoyed Neil Marshall's exploration of variations on horror tinted pulp, so far. I don't see how Doomsday was any worse than Dog Soldiers, but I guess people were hoping for his latest effort to top The Descent. Good luck there. Not only was he back to editing his own product (rather than Jon Harris, editor of Snatch, Ripley's Game, and Layer Cake), but the synergy between writing and location in The Descent couldn't be improved upon. That movie was scary long before any traditional horror elements were introduced to it.

As a film in the tradition of Mad Max and Escape from New York, Doomsday did just fine. It had a decently disturbing near future, a nasty supervirus, and some badass action sequences, including some really fucking cool fights. A few moments stretch the viewer's suspension of d…

Sorry about the delay.

I'm having some trouble working through the third page of 'Pointless Man: Death to Pretty Boy Groups'. It's not easy trying to colour separate hand coloured, digitally scanned drawings, but that's what I'm working with. Hopefully, I'll find the time and wherewithal to finish it and move on soon.

"Drill, baby, drill"?

I don't understand people who say alternative energy sources aren't ready yet. If we're talking about cars, we've had electric ones for at least half a century, and we have all sorts of means of creating electricity, including existing alternative energy technologies, such as solar, wind, and thermo; all of which could be more efficient (kind of like our internal combustion engines), all of which could benefit from further investment in research and infrastructure, but which are already being used now.

It's funny to hear the Republicans attack some Democrats for their tendency towards protectionist rhetoric, to hear Republicans deride Democrats for not accepting the forming global economy, and then to hear Republicans complain that we're giving too much money to foreign countries for their oil, and that we should be self sufficient when it comes to such matters.Then they briefly endorse alternative energies (which they never really want to talk about, unless it …

There is little question in my mind...

...Hillary will now seriously, earnestly, and ardently support Obama, not just in form, now that a woman is in the race with an 'R' next to her name. Especially given McCain's age, his not always perfect health, and talk of maybe only holding one term. For if McCain were to win, and if anything were to happen which might keep him from seeking office for a second term, the likely Republican candidate in 2012 would be a woman with more executive experience at more levels than Hillary has.

There's been talk about how Bill or Hillary might not be serious in supporting Obama. It happened before their speeches. It came, to a lesser extent, after them (more so following Hillary's less enthusiastic, less masterful performance). But, my quick take is both the personal and political aims of the Clintons now coincide with those of Barack Obama and their shared party. Especially since Obama has allowed Hillary to fashion it into a shared party.

Pointless Man: Death to Pretty Boy Groups! (2)

Still working on page 3, but it should be up within a few days. In the meantime, I'll probably supply some more political rants to keep things interesting. Stay tuned.

It's not about experience.

If you honestly think the careers of Senator Obama and Governor Palin are comparable, or contrast well in Palin's favor, I think you're crazy, but that's beside the point. Why? Because experience doesn't mean you'll do a good job. Because supposed lack of experience doesn't mean you'll do a poor job. Because being the President of the United States isn't quite like any other job in America.

Former Presidents and Governors Carter and Clinton have both expressed the opinion that nothing can really prepare a person for the top executive position in American government. Though they have been expressing this sentiment of late, either to cast aspersions of doubt on Obama or (alternately) to deride the claim that McCain's seniority in Washington better prepares him for the job, I seem to recall hearing much the same from them in years previous, as little more than honest reflection. Whether you trust their judgement on this or not, it is arguable, both show…

Not since Spiro Agnew...

Not since Spiro Agnew has one so well qualified, so thoroughly prepared, and gifted of such evident judgement been appointed as a major party's candidate for Vice President of the United States of America. But, I think we can all agree, Agnew, who held the same advanced degree as Barack Obama does, was a little too educated, and this might have been his downfall. Not so for John McCain's excellent choice, Alaskan Governor, Sarah Palin.

She has held that esteemed office for almost two years now, and before that, was the part time mayor, part time council member of her home town of 5,000 plus. What truly qualifies her, though, are her support of creationist teaching in science classes, her keen pro-life position, her willingness to place the environment at risk to attain greater oil revenue, and her staunch opposition to gay rights.

A hearty congratulations to her and Senator John McCain. May they receive all the votes they deserve.

Pointless Man: Death to Pretty Boy Groups! (1)

Page one of an eleven page epic sets the stage for Pointless Man's battle with the boy bands of the late '90s. For those unfamiliar with boy bands, and unwilling to do a bit of research on their own, don't worry. There's an afterword which should clear up any confusion.

There's a bit of text on this page which you will probably have trouble making out at this resolution. It says, "Yes, in his tireless search for a way to end all evil, PM has extended his criteria of wickedness. First, it was the foolish, then--no, wait. First, it was the ignorant, then the foolish, and, finally, annoying people, too, were considered evil. --Luckily, he forgot to add the forgetful!--" This last aside is near impossible to read, even knowing what's written. What can I say? I'm learning as I go, especially with getting my stuff digitized.

This has been a while in the making, dating back to an original one page comic drawn in '99 and placed on my dorm room door, but…

Revisions

The sketch above is a rough draft. No one seemed to like the original sketch much, so I tried a different tack:

This version has the added bonus of taking up much less space on disk, and therefore loading faster online. I'm kind of ambivalent about the whole thing, since it's so far off from my typical approach. But whatever.

I put it to you:

What is wrong with moustaches?

Eh?

I need more sleep.

Drawing of cooler days.

It is damn hot in Seattle. I'm glad that we actually get to experience summer and all, considering how few days have been sunny this season, but 90 degrees-plus is just taking it too far.

No Laughing Matter

As shown here, aesthetic disagreement can be dangerous.

Consider this a preview

...although it may not work out as you'd think.

Onward!

Pointless Man and the Open Mic

In 1999, I was engaged in classes at North Seattle Community College. Two of these were English courses. One week, they both focused on beatnicks, and most of the kids, many of whom had never heard of these authors before, heaped accolades on the likes of Ginsberg and Kerouac. I've never been a big fan of the beats writings or their hipsterism. My attitude was, essentially, 'Screw those guys.' But, even mild criticism of these dudes was drowned out by choruses of praise. Serious discussion was off the table.

Incensed, I spent the week regaling all who would listen with enlivened rants on the subject. My brother, Devin, responded with an ode to beatnicks, which I immediately committed to a comic, as above. Only, the page I drew disappeared the next day. It was about two years before I would revisit the concept. Even then, there were problems. I somehow managed to lose that piece, as well. What you see above is a coloured copy of the black and white comic I drew in 2001.

You …

This Cat Has No Name -- Door No. 2

Loosely, a character I've been toying with for ages. Yet to be fully developed, opposite is a chick with no name A pulp antihero. A traveling philosopher. A self affirming, walking existential crisis. Yes, she is the rarely seen and even less often acknowledged out-of-work assassin, free and on her own cognicence. With such a character, what amoral hijinks might ensue?

Identity Crisis (yes, just like the comics!)

Someone recently told me, "I may not agree with McCain on all of his positions, but at least I know what his are without having to go out of my way to find them," so I asked:

Really? Is he for drilling off shore, as he has been for the last two months, or against it, as he was for over a decade before that? Is he for keeping troops indefinitely in Iraq when its ministers tell us we must leave or set a timetable, as he has just recently intimated, or against staying if asked to go, as he had said previously? Is he a respectful friend of Evangelical Christians, as he has been trying to make himself out to be since 2002, or does he consider them 'agents of intolerance' who should be excoriated as he had characterized them for years before that? Is he against any and all forms of torture and inhumane treatment, including measures the Bush administration has put into use, as he had been prior to '04, or for Bush's approach, as he has been since '06? Does he wan…

With all the sequels and adaptations in Hollywood...

It is a wonder someone hasn't made Bad Dudes into a flick. I mean, really, can you get a better action premise than street thugs trying to save the President from the ninjas who kidnapped him? I don't think so.

"Comic-book movie"

In reviewing the new Batman movie, Roger Ebert writes, 'This film, and to a lesser degree “Iron Man,” redefine the possibilities of the “comic-book movie.”' Now, Ebert knows there are a fair number of films based on comicbooks which have nothing to do with superheroes or adventurous men in tights. This is probably why he put the term in quotes. But, still, everybody knows that he meant action movies starring men who wear masks, capes, or both. And, probably, most people think these are the only kind of comicbook inspired movies there are. Some might object to this characterization of the basis of Sin City or Hellboy, but these still feature over-powered action heroes.

Considering some very good, not-so-super-hero-ish movies like Ghost World, A History of Violence, Road to Redemption, and American Splendor had been based on comics well before Iron Man and The Dark Knight, Ebert's statement seems unfair, or at least to unintentionally expose the unjustified bias he (rightly) …

If only Superman were a worse person.

If he were like all those old comic covers at Superdickery, such as above, I would find him so much more entertaining. As someone who owns what may be hundreds of comics featuring the hero, I have to say, I'm a bit disappointed.

Someone needs to make a superpower, action movie about a guy who's a total jerk.

Why won't Lou Reed tell me what women are saying anymore?

Even though I wasn't alive at the time, I miss the days when I could trust Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground to tell me what women were saying. No more will Lou supply us with creatively entitled songs such as, 'Lisa Says', 'Stephanie Says', or 'Candy Says'. Why has no one picked up the slack? Does no one speak to women anymore?

Bit of a slowdown.

Dropping off a bit this week, while watching my mom's dog at her place. Won't be able to scan in new sketches or access previously scanned material. If I think of anything interesting, though, I'll be sure to post it up. Anyway, don't let that stop those few of you here from periodically checking in. I'll be around.

What's behind door number one?

I'm not sure exactly what his relationship with the doorway is.

This one is called 'Modern Sam'.

To be able to share my drawings online in something of a presentable fashion, I have to scan them in and clean them up a bit in Photoshop. To scan them, I need to tear them out of my sketchbook. I take everything worth sharing in person out of the book as soon as it's done, rendering the vessel empty. Is that ironic?

To continue a theme.

A quick sketch, entitled, 'In Good Humour'.

The president is a figurehead.

Notes--
It is often said the president gets the credit or the blame for the ways things are (or are perceived) in America, even when he doesn't deserve either.
...

Many people do not recognize the president as a figurehead, but at least some of them will apparently vote for a candidate on the basis of whether or not one is expected to function well in that capacity.
...

I am not saying the President of the United States is merely a figurehead, but that job is implicitly a part of the position. Which is why supposed lack of experience didn't stop Bill Clinton or George W. Bush from winning the office; why people whose best interest and politics ran counter to Ronald Reagan voted for him; and why Nixon was forced out not over engaging in illegal and unauthorized wars or for destabilizing countries and plunging them into decades of tyranny, but for having some of his staff break into a hotel. It is also why Barrack Obama will beat John McCain.

"I'm just a happy camper!"

Rockin' and a rollin'.

The (sideways) Japanese script, which translates, "Isn't it," was in response to something written on the facing page of my sketchbook. I don't remember what.

What are moral claims?

I have often wondered how to distinguish moral rules or claims from other normative statements (being statements about right or wrong, or what one should or shouldn't do). The subtle differences between 'should' and 'ought' (where 'ought' alone is thought to be objective or to lack contingency) are not enough, because there are many moralities and moral systems which intelligent people of goodwill can differ on, and because it is not clear that morality is something which can escape contingency.

So, what implicit difference is there between the normative statements, "It tends to be bad to sacrifice your queen early in a chess match," and, "It tends to be bad to lie, cheat, or steal"? --You can substitute 'one shouldn't' for 'it tends to be bad', if you like.-- Without simply saying, "Well, one is obviously about morals," which self reference does nothing to help distinguish moral claims, the only thing I am a…

Sisyphus, as Per Camus:

Word.

Is it just me, or are Parliamentary systems way cooler than what the US has?

See this? If that sort of thing could happen in the states, Bush would have been gone at least two years ago. And, yes, I know, David Brooks, that would mean we probably wouldn't have had the surge in Iraq, and that country would very likely be worse off today. Meanwhile, the rest of the world (and the United States in particular) would have benefited from two fewer years of benighted leadership in almost every area the President touches.

Exactly what advantages can the American system boast? Nominal independence of the chief executive from the legistlative branch, I suppose, though I'm not sure how much of a boon (or how real) that is considering America's last 3 years.

"I got ramblin', I got ramblin' on my mind."

Some kinda mood.

Determinism is a 'scientific' parody of Liebnitz's 'best of all possible worlds'.

And it lacks the flair of Voltaire's Candide.

Notes:

Any philosophy formed in response to determinism finds itself working on the terms of the determinist, or else endorsing its basis but denying it has any hold on our ethereal spirits that somehow are not of this world but manage to manipulate it. I therefore shrug off questions of free-will along with the concept of will altogether.

Addendum (6/25):

For concepts of will and volition are unnecessary.
For choice can be had where (what we intuitively call) the will is constrained.
For the concerns which lead to such questions and follow from them are absurd and have no bearing on life.

What is essential, if not tea?

The Japanese have a word, 'mucha', which can be roughly translated to mean a thing or a situation which is 'unworkable', 'pointless', 'worthless', 'meaningless', 'no good', or 'hopeless', depending on context. Directly translated, it means 'no tea'.

Man, I could really go for some tea right now.

On Good Taste

In response to something somewhere else:

I consider 'taste' as personal, but 'good' as intersubjective. What appeals to any one person is largely dependent on their circumstances and exposure, and may not be readily changed by reasoning. But it is not necessary to base one's idea of 'good' wholly upon one's tastes.

After all, one can be told how and why slices of sharp cheddar and tart apple complement eachother, and thus recognize this as a good combination worthy of recommendation to others, yet still not enjoy it (much, if at all) personally. One can recognize a good banjo player without especially enjoying the sound a banjo makes. And so on.

Of course, not everybody is capable of or interested in being able to appreciate or understand things which do not particularly appeal to or please them. It is something of an acquired taste, and bias can get in its way. Everybody has their limits. I still cannot quite hear why Charles Mingus is so revered in jazz …

I Hate Everybody Who is Not Here.

or,
Tell Your Friends They Suck.

With some exceptions, like this post, I think I've been putting together something pretty cool ever since I got back to posting in April. And yet, in all that time, how many people have commented? Six. Even if one in ten people who read this blog respond to it--don't ask me where I got those numbers, they're completely arbitrary--that would mean only 60 people have read anything here in three months. The rest of you not reading this don't know what you're missing. You make me cry angsty tears of almost justified sadness. I hate you all.

A Rough Sketch

The background is much darker (and so more readily apparent) and a little more homogenous than in the original. Other than that, what you see is a good approximation of a quick sketch: one of the first I made using Pentel brush pens for inking. As such, it could be worse.

The dude in this reminds me (faintly) of a scene I witnessed years ago while on my way to deliver some furniture. First, some set up.

The neighborhood of Ballard used to be composed of working class folks and Norwegian retirees. There are still a number of retirement homes, fabrication shops, and small ship yards in certain parts of Ballard, but it is now considered trendy. It is filling up with condos, bars, and hip eateries where houses, dives (mostly pubs), and specialty shops used to exist. If you wander off from some of the major thoroughfares, you'll run into micro-breweries and more popular restaurants, but you'll also see old warehouses, a couple scrap yards, and decrepit roads running alongside disuse…

Any resemblance to persons living or dead...

Shelly had spent 20 years in Second City. Almost her whole life. She loved her hometown without reservations, but she absolutely had to get away and only return for brief--very brief--visits.

There were plenty of places to go: Cities with pleasurable summers, liveable winters, fewer corrupt officials, less brutal cops, a dearth of gangs, a sense that toughness wasn't the only important human characteristic. Towns that didn't remind her of her childhood. States her parents didn't live in. Vast expanses of land she'd yet to see. Like another world altogether.

And that's what Sammy offered. A near total break from her past. Her man.

The Artist's Prerogative

Artistic license is just such that one may ignore the truth, the facts, even the way things are and still escape prosecution.

John Cusack's roles follow the life of one man.

This one man is living out a Choose Your Own Adventure on film.

Can you seriously look at the characters he's played in Better Off Dead, Say Anything, and High Fidelity, and tell me he's not playing the same character at different points in his life? There's not that much in terms of background story that distinguishes these characters. Sure, names change, and some events differ (or are perhaps omitted), but Cusack's characters in these are all quirky, charming guys with overactive imaginations, a self deprecating sense of humour, and a romantic (if sometimes jaded) view of dating and dealing with the opposite sex; all with the same diction, and the same good looks. With a little work, we can even include his appearance in 16 Candles as one of Anthony Michael Hall's nerdy buddies as a prelude to this guy's later adventures.

If this character had walked a slightly different road out of high school (say, missing out on his last big date with his high school sweet…

A moment of action!

In thinking about it, that's the wrong hand to defend with in that situation. But so what? Maybe this dude's really quick, and he'll transfer hands before you even notice. In the next drawing, that is.

Not that there is going to be a next drawing. What do you think this is, a comicbook?

To draw things together...

and make a stupid atheist point I should be above (while playing on equally foolish religious assumptions, no less):

Why couldn't that stupid correspondent for CNN have kicked the bucket instead of Tim Russert? Whaddupwiddat, God? Why you gotta be so unfair, man? ...Unless you don't exist!
...

I feel as dirty as a stupid lady standing in the middle of dangerous, oily flood waters.

Meanwhile, Tim Russert has died.

I was shocked. I remain shocked. Those with an interest in politics and the goings on at the capitol were well served by Tim, at least as much as by anyone else in recent memory. America has lost a great figure and a great service in Tim's death.

At the national level, at the world level, it's just one man, just one heart attack. Perhaps not the epic tragedy his colleagues at NBC feel it is. But it is disheartening.

I try to be, if not cynical, pragmatic and realistic about how things are in life. I find it easy and preferable to be more rational than emotional (though I admit there are strong ties between those modes). But I'll tell you something.... Unlike much media coverage on the demise of some important personage, little of the reaction seems staged or forced. Knowing how personable Russert could seem, even when dealing with the most important issues of our times, it is easy to believe people were attached to him. Tim Russert had a lot of friends. People are proud to t…

CNN has idiot correspondent cover floods.

So, I'm not really watching TV, but I have CNN on as background noise while I'm reading. They're covering the flooding in Iowa, and there's a lady standing in the water. I don't care, so I go back to reading. Then I hear her say she had just run into a National Guard unit warning her and others to stay out the water. This gets my attention. The screen flicks from this waterlogged correspondent to an earlier interview, where a guardsman explains that dangerous chemical and biological contaminants make entering the water a bad idea. The view shifts back to CNN's correspondent thigh deep in the floods, telling us, "Yes, stay out of the water." During the segment, I must have heard her, CNN's anchor, and the guardsman repeat this phrase at least 6 times altogether. Stay out of the water.

Okay, I figure, she must be wearing some pretty good water proof clothing for this assignment. Then she says, "Earlier, I saw a couple walking through this in the…

Your humble author some months ago.

If you're humble, you can escape humiliation. The same is true if you simply develop an impenetrable ego bubble. You can even combine tactics and pretend to be humble while remaining dangerously egotistical. Then no one can belittle you. Or, well, that's the theory.

Click on the pick and read, if you want some context.

Gah! What does that squigle in the corner mean?!

That is a signature I've been using for a while now alongside fingerprints, cursive initials, and my own singular style. No, not the giant, freaked out eye. The squigle in the corner. The eye speaks for itself, metaphorically.

Yes, I casually admit I am a nerd.

I do it readily and without shame. This bothers my youngest brother, Benny, who is just 15. That's understandable. In most high-school settings--and pretty much everywhere until somewhat recently--'nerd' is a serious insult. This amuses me.

Benny asks me, "Why do you call yourself that?" Well, why lie?

That could just as easily be me sitting there...

...instead of whining in the background. (This is your cue to click on the picture, and read its text. I know, it's a lot of reading. You can put up with it. You're a sport.)

Ah, that eternal question: Scotch or Anime? I can enjoy both, but only one seems appropriate in any given situation. Not that that's stopped me before.

For those wondering what anime this drawing alludes to (thanks to my splendid salesmanship), the Japanese cartoon being referenced is Legend of the Galactic Heroes. The scotch I'd be looking for would be Laphroiag, but I'd probably end up settling for Glenlivet or a bourbon. --No matter what anyone else tells you, the whiskey you're drinking makes a difference. Never, ever even consider purchasing whiskey from the bar's well drinks. Always, always specify your brand. And, for God's sake, stop drinking it 'on the rocks'.--

Mafia materiel

I can't vouch for the dude, but the mask's okay. The mask's a paisan. And genuine, handcrafted leather, too.

Or, in slightly more accessible terms, the mask there is loosely modeled off one my parents bought in Italy. It currently decorates my folks' condo. I believe the face and background are original creations. But who knows?

Contre Las Vegas

I've never been to Vegas, and I don't particularly want to go. Nevermind the obnoxious, chintzy side of a town founded by the mob. Having lived in Tempe, Arizona, I can tell you, the desert ain't meant for people.

That said, there's something cleansing about an open sky and an empty vista.

Freshly painted with hardwood floors:

No, it's not actually a painting, just pastels, markers, and inks run through Photoshop. That's not the point. What you should be asking, is, "Isn't that uncomfortable?"

Break yo'self, foo!

The Puget Sound as seen from the promontory of Sunset Hill in Seattle. Landscapes are somewhat new to me, but since my dad used to have an apartment that faced out onto the same body of water, this is probably my most practiced view. As with any practice, it's easier to loosen up and just draw when familiar with your subject. 'Sides, watching yachts go by is almost as relaxing as being on one, and with zero chance of motion sickness. Somehow, the whole thing is almost as comforting as warm down blanket.

And that's the sort of feeling you've gotta grab when the world seems to be spinning too fast, man. That's it. Just don't settle in too snuggly.

Processed art

If the method is the message, or can be, what do digital and fractal art tell us?

The Kooks' Konk

A little over a year ago, I said the Kooks were alright. That was indeed true of their first album, Inside In/Inside Out. Their second LP, Konk, is not strong. While my last post on the band held there to be nothing wrong with good pop-rock, this new release isn't good. Focusing on the pop, they lose a bit of the rock, and seem to throw away that (post) Brit-pop thing they had going on. Not one track stands out as anything but inane background music for some primetime drama. It's a shame, and a loss to fans of accessible rock. Here's hoping their next effort takes them back to their roots.

"I shocked the world!"

Yes, boxing is ethically questionable. Else why would Don King and the mafia be involved? You know, other than the money. >_>

Obama first presidential nominee to give daps.

Nevermind this whole 'first black man' thing. I think Barack is the first serious presidential nominee to give someone daps on live TV. The senator shared a fist-pound with his prospective First Lady just before stepping to the podium and delivering his victory speech following the close of the primary season. Giving daps is nothing new, but I don't see Bill and Hillary sharing a secret handshake on stage. Does anyone else think this is a bit like Kennedy refusing to wear a top hat to his inauguration?

I'm speaking more to the generational shift, than the effect on popular culture...I think. But it would be interesting if Obama were to have the same sort of impact the Kennedys did at their height.

--A Correction--

I have been informed rather forcefully that Kennedy actually wore a top hat to his inauguration. Fair enough.

*Ahem.*

Does anyone else think this is a bit like James Bond not giving a damn how his martini is made?

"Don't just stare at it. Eat it!"

I'm not so sure that's a proper salad fork, either.

Ahem. For those wet noodles who don't want to click on the pic for a larger version, today's friendly reminder is, "Even when they are very rude, it is not okay to stab dinner guests in the eye. This may even be a crime in your locality."

"You're all alone, you know."

Citizens, hear me out. This could happen to you:

Trying to come up with a title for this post, I was looking up the lyrics for the Kingston Trio's rendition of 'Zombie Jamboree' (from which this post's title was culled). The first link Google came up with said it had what I needed, so I clicked on it, and started reading. Sure enough, the page itself said it offered the lyrics for the relevant song, as follows.

"Cause he gets up in the morning, / And he goes to work at nine, / And he comes back home at five-thirty, / Gets the same train every time. / 'Cause his world is built 'round punctuality, / It never fails."

As I read, I had the growing fear that someone had confused
a Kinks song about a young bourgeois Brit for an American ditty about a zombie dance-party. By the end of the stanza, I was convinced. I understand the Davies brothers can seem be creepy, but really.

Ah, the Internet age, an era with misinformation ever at your fingertips. To make a…

In the Study, with the Candlestick

But what is his right hand doing?