Sunday, December 07, 2008


The book Tricked by Alex Robinson is an exquisitely crafted piece of drama. Each character is crafted with a unique and interesting background and set to proceed down the tracks laid for them as they make their way inevitably to the final crash when they all meet. This little world is built with such detail that the tracks become quite clear. By the end, the only question in this reader's mind was would he take the "easy way" out when the final crash came.

It's taken me a while after reading it to figure out why exactly I didn't care for such a well crafted book. The characters do seem to be drawn each with specific differences to set them apart visually, but can you really fault the author for that? Was it the fact of a secondary target for the final "act of violence"? Perhaps a little, but this was certainly not all of it.

The trouble for me was that no one seems to change and grow. There is personal growth happening. As we meet her, one character has decided to find out who her father really is, but we meet her after she finds that he's not really dead and has traveled to the city to meet him. That's background to the character, the story does not follow this growth since it has already happened.

Perhaps the rock star who sees every woman as someone to hit on is growing. It could be, I suppose, but a whirlwind marriage doesn't really seem like much of a change. Seems more like a fling with legal consequences to me. Wait another three weeks, see if he's not cooling to his new wife and looking for another hot flash of fresh love. Nothing about it really seems lasting.

It's possible Robinson's just set it up too well. Everyone was simply too well motivated so that every turn seemed natural and each decision essentially already made. This left for me the sense that each path was simply being followed. The figures played out a disaster. Maybe some of them will learn and grow as a result, but that's in the future.

I want some sort of progress or learning, a challenge that is overcome. None of that happened, so at the end the story felt empty to me.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Some 92 years ago

The poor newspaper reader of old, trained to read single stories in long columns probably didn't know what to think of the comics pages of the time. Still nicely aligned in columns with a picture above a paragraph, but the reader was expected to read across the page instead of down. No wonder they needed to put in numbers to tell the reader the order of the panels. It's interesting how little thought many cartoonists today put into how their layout is communicating the order of the panels when they get creative about layouts.

It was certainly a different medium around the turn of the last century, as seen in this (London) example. Still really an illustrated story rather than a comic. One can certainly be glad that the need to verbosely explain what is clearly drawn already has passed. However, I was particularly delighted by one of the strips in the linked post which seems to particularly work with the form of the even by today's sensibilities.

The comic that's caught my attention is Burglar Bertie (direct link to one of the two examples from above) which occupied the back of this sheet. Instead of stating what's in the picture, this one has been done in the form of a letter to the editor. It is a nice touch that gets in all the key words that make the images unambivalent to the reader of the day yet does not seem to insult the intelligence outright for the reader of today who thinks the picture didn't need so much explaining.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Banquet

I have just finished watching Hamlet in Chinese (Mandarin). Well, it was called The Banquet and is now called Legend of the Black Scorpion for a re-release, but you start to notice as it hits the main events of the play. The players changed roles in places, a death prescribed to one took hold in that one's opposite instead of that one's counterpart. A few made it out alive who did not even make it to the final bloodbath in the original. Er, I think. There was still quite a bloodbath to be had.

A few of the pieces of Hamlet included felt a little bit of a stretch, but perhaps that's because I had realized by those points in the movie. The moment that lead to realization did fit. It was the play within a play, which has become rather common, but then you remember the dead emperor and the o'er hasty marriage between the emperor's brother and his widow and you realize what this particular play will be about.

I think the old title fits it better. It did, in a strange way, encompass the events in a way that was easy to describe. It served as a good metaphor for the film. The new title is just designed to make it sound exciting and thus encourage purchase. It has far too many contemplative moments to be trying to sound as something so obviously dangerous outwardly. This is devious, the danger hidden. The scorpion just happens to supply the poison.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

That Salty Air

The ocean will at once seem familiar and easy to know, with waves rolling along in regular time, and seem wholly mysterious, with dark waters just a few feet below the surface and storms hiding over the horizon. It is usually slow and sometimes gentle, but it is persistent. Within it there are always currents flowing. They gently carry a child playing far down the beach and the waves push him in to a slightly unfamiliar shore when he's finished playing. But sometimes he plays too far out and those waves pull him further instead. Sometimes the currents pull the swimmer under and far down into those deep, dark waters.

The ocean takes the foolish and the unlucky in equal measure. The ones left may raise a fist and a voice at it, but they know it will do no good. The ocean cannot listen and understand. They can affect it no more than the sand and seashells. They may want some sort of revenge upon it but it has the ultimate defense: it moves like water.

Which is why it does not seem surprising to me that the author of That Salty Air does not come from an ocean town. This is a tale of revenge upon the ocean, or rather upon creatures of the ocean in proxy for trying to hurt that which cannot be hurt. Hugh, the main character, is shown as one who reveres the ocean until he receives a letter informing him his mother has drowned in it. Maddened with grief he forgets the responsibilities of his life and wife. She finally brings him back to his senses, but when the sea shows itself to be a fickle and unpredictable thing, he manages one more bought of crazy anger.

This was a tale more of a man who showed himself quite foolish and ultimately got off quite lightly. Sometimes you do. The sea is fickle.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Magic Boy & Robot Elf

I can have fun. I like to have fun. Really. Like this book. This book, Magic Boy & Robot Elf by James Kochalka, is all kinds of fun. And I like it.

The story is of a man who builds a robot to be him. The robot wants to live so tries to take his creator's life right from childhood. (Because it has a built in time machine of course.) Thus the book goes along on a wild rampage broken up by moments of quiet reflection. Somehow the rampage and reflection seem to all fit together.

Each moment of the story is told only in service of that one moment with no ulterior motives of getting the story someplace by the end. It takes sudden left turns just for the sheer joy of seeing what happens. It is a very enjoyable meander through a wild imagination.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


There is apparently a cute little robot movie out by Pixar. Other than that, I knew nothing of what to expect in going to see Wall-E.

There is a lot of cute to it. All sorts of saccharine sweet, laid on thick, sappy, cute. And if that's enough for you, this movie is great. But if you peak behind that curtain of cute, it's very empty. For me, the cute was way too much. I found myself rejecting it and the movie just fell flat.

Presented with a robot that had lots of personality, but no traits that would seem to lead from being a robot. In fact, some of it seemed to clash with being a robot. A most decidedly male robot although there should be nothing to make him male. He is tasked with cleaning up an Earth which, thanks to a loss of the law of conservation of matter, is quite covered in trash.

Along comes another robot. This one is decidedly female although there is still nothing about her that should lead her to thinking she is female. These humans that made these two robots seem to have adding in a lot of extra programming that serves to reduce the chances of the robot working well.

Ultimately the only robots that seemed to have a sensible outlook on life were a cleaning robot before it suddenly stopped hating "foreign contaminant" in order to save a really big clump of the stuff and the autopilot. Past that, the motivations of humans and robots were utterly mysterious leaving the action without foundation. Which is why it was quite empty to me.

I also have to love the amount of trash a ship on its 700th year of a planned 5 year outing is able to pump out. That pesky conservation of mass thing has really been kicked. Other than that, I have a couple other solutions to the motivations of the characters of this movie:

  1. Watching a sappy movie for 700 years can make a robot become sappy to a degree few humans have ever achieved.

  2. This sappiness is infectious. It may require touch to transmit, but it can transmit to other robots.

I did like the opening short. Rabbit is hungry. (Hear the tummy growl?) Rabbit would usually have been fed, but isn't. Until feeding happens, rabbit is quite prepared to do all sorts of ill to the hand-that-has-not-fed-it. Ah, motivation.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

some movies

I've actually been off to see a few movies in the last couple of months. First there was:

The Fall. Not very imaginatively named but imaginatively constructed. After a fall a stuntman is hospitalized and possibly paralyzed in 1920s Los Angeles. After a different fall, a little girl is hospitalized with a broken arm. He decides to tell her a story populated by the people she knows and has told him about. Why he does this is he skeleton of plot the movie is built on, but the meat of the movie is art rather than plot.

The stuntman tells a story which is mainly the movie he was working on when he had his fall but we see this story as it is interpreted by the little girl. This is clearly illustrated as he tells of the Indian's most beautiful "squaw" (which I'm fairly certain is not a word used in polite conversation) in all the land but her Indian friend is from the subcontinent so the fabled wife is in finery associated with India. The movie is full of delightful details and certainly would bear, even need, multiple watchings.

Iron Man is a straight up action flick. Lots of fun and largely bloodless violence so rather cartoon like even though it's live action. Well, I guess the more violent parts probably weren't really live action since they're between robotic shells. Good guys win and bad guys lose and it's all quite feel good. Good to see whenever you need brain candy.

Wanted is also an action flick, but with a lot of artistry tossed in in rather silly ways. This one was full of quite bloody violence. I wondered what the dad who came in with his two little kids just after the initial bloodbath and longest of the two sex scenes (which are there to illustrate just how much of a lose our hero is at the start) was thinking. The boy sitting next to me who must have been 7 years old winced a bit during the movie and I quite agreed.

Once in a while the barrage of weird artistic bullets doing impossible things with far too graphic results would have a go at actually being a suspense thriller instead of straight action. But it seemed like the creators found that too slow, so they would get past in as quickly as possible. It had some fun CGI stunts too, but I don't think I need to see this again.

Kung Fu Panda is more brain candy. It seems that young pandas script their dreams terribly, but I love what they do with the textures during this opening sequence. It's a lovely piece of work. Most of the movie is fairly standard for this kind of animation these days, but standard has gotten to look very good. I had the impression that his fur might not be as deep as it ought to be, but there's plenty other things wrong with the panda if you want to get into how he isn't exactly like a panda. The plot itself held together very well. I'm not used to seeing that in an animated movie staring animals. In spite of the claim of "kung fu", there was no actual Eastern philosophy of any kind that I can remember in the movie. Again, something to watch when what you are looking for is well executed silly.

I also caught the trailer for Star Wars: Clone Wars. I was impressed, but not in a good way. They have decided to take a series of short cartoons that were done in an innovative and artistic 2D animation and remake them into a single movie done in a 3D style that was innovative in the 1980s but now just looks cheap. My two questions are "Why?" and "Who would bother to go see this?" Certainly won't be me.

Friday, September 12, 2008

looking up

We must be an inherently optimistic people. How else could all manner of words from "fantastic" to "terrific" come to mean "extraordinarily good"?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

art materials: brush pens

Here is something fun for a bit of art on the go. These are various sorts of brush pens and a water brush (top). The brush pens are all loaded with pigment now, but were fresh nylon bristles when I got them, just like the water brush.

Water brush and three brush pens.

I wanted to be able to do watercolor easily in the field and I hesitate to take anything that would need cleaned up "in the field" as well. The Pentel Color Brush Pen (bottom) seemed like a good thing to try, and I've seem people bragging up how wonderful their "Pentel Brush Pens" are. I got the sepia to try out, but was not impressed. It was a bit like a brush trying to be a pen and it wasn't a very good brush. Particularly the bristles keep trying to be in two bunches instead of one. I'm willing to believe that that is not usual and it's just a problem with mine, but it didn't leave a good impression. I'd also read that you can do a bit of watercolor over it after a day or two drying. This is truly like watercolor and it doesn't matter how long you let it sit, it will not allow for painting with water over it.

Then I found that what people rave about is the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen (one up from the bottom), which only comes in black. It's also a little harder to find. I gave it one more chance, although I can't get any other colors, and got one. This has much shorter bristles that seemed to be connected when I first got it, but split up as the ink soaked them and it was used. Unlike the other brush pen, there is nowhere to press to help the ink along, the ink flows into the bristles as it will. This is much more like a pen that aspires to be a brush and overall has been very pleasant to use. There is nothing unruly about this nib.

I also got a Kuretake No. 61 Brush Pen with silver ink (one down from the top) for little bits of fun. The tip is a little shorter than the color brush pen. It also needs to be squeezed to push the ink from the reservoir to a second that fills the brush. This one stays in one tight bunch but is a little wider than the color brush pen. For what little I've used it, it has been quite nice if a bit bolder than expected. The metallic ink is not transparent.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

more minis

I have more darling little hand made comic books. Actually, I may have ordered practically everything Matt Wiegle has done and is available plus one he just drew most of the artwork for.

mini comics and original art

They even came with a piece of original art!

The three along the bottom are all adapted from old tales which are all a little off as such tales tend to be. These haven't been Disneyfied yet.

Murder, in the middle of the top, was written by someone else and most the stories are drawn by Matt. I saw a review on it somewhere, which I think may have been the trigger to remember I wanted to devour all the other books I could get but hadn't yet.

At the corners are lovely little nonsense books like Your Karate Vacation was. These are little gems that should be shared at every opportunity.

The last piece in the middle is the original art on the back of a Partyka postcard. Now I just feel special.

I'd never ordered minis so I twitched for the two weeks hearing nothing trying to remember that this is just spare time stuff until the envelope popped up in the mailbox. And then I twitched for the rest of the day knowing that I should be working, not opening up envelopes full of minis. Okay, they may not have lasted the whole day, but testing computer programs can have down moments that are perfect for reading mini comics during.

Friday, July 25, 2008

pull out

There's something deeply disturbing about the pull quote "India's answer to The Lord of the Rings" on a book called Ramayan 3392 AD.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Project: Telstar

It must be said that the folks at AdHouse love books, although as a "boutique juggernaut" that's not many people. I still wish they'd print a few more, or perhaps that's reprint a few. Still, I have gotten hold of the book that inspired my previous rant (Project: Telstar) for only somewhat above cover price. I also got hold of another of the set (Project: Romantic) for my regular discount. I will not be getting the last of the set (Project: Superior) unless it is reprinted. At $50 for a library copy (ooh, it's come down), I'll just have to be happy with my free comic with part of it from a few years ago. It's the Joel Priddy part anyway.

So I hold in my hands a copy of Project: Telstar, which is A Spacial Robotic Anthology. The detail that has gone into this is just delightful. There's a busy little scene of robots and workers bustling about on the cover. Over the subtitle, little ones and zeros are printed in clear, a reminder for those who look of what makes a robot tick. Cute rounded corners, but heavier than it looks because it's actually printed on good paper. It all gives a good feeling, and so you open it up.

And there's more art on the end pages. In fact, it turns out that the front cover was the first page of a wordless story contained on the covers and end pages of the book. The book itself is printed in two colors, traditional black and a metallic blue. It's a choice that just makes sense.

The various authors utilized the two colors to varying degrees. There is some wonderful work in this taking advantage of ink. I do particularly like the work by Jay Geldof and Rob Ullman. There's also a few that would have been better off to have the colors printed in the opposite order.

There's almost nothing I didn't like in this. There's three portfolios contained in the book, which I didn't care for although I felt my heart softening for the third one. Still, they're not stories! Meanwhile, lots of wonderful, creative robot stories.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

shirt of Tee

I have found the greatest tee shirt offered by the internet. So many are offered here and there, but so many aren't very good. There are a few good ones, like xkcd has some nice ones in the store.

Ah, the regular expressions shirt... except that the whole swinging in heroically to apply them rather made the comic. And I don't really use them enough so any time I really want to do something fun with them, I seem to have to look up bits.

Ooh, the sudo shirt... even though it always felt like a joke I'd tried before. Odd thing is, the systems I might try it on rarely have the command installed and even fewer seem to have given me sudo permission on the particular command in question.

Hum, the one titled "stand back (science)" is getting there...

This is the greatest tee-shirt on the net. It has a wonderful mix of alienness and childishness and simplicity. Also fun is the related web comic.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Forbidden Kingdom

I went to see a pointless movie meant to be mainly (kung-fu) action film stars you thought were retired already doing what they do best. There is a subtle difference between the movies Jackie Chan and Jet Li can be found in, so they'd never actually been in the same movie until Forbidden Kingdom. It's fun to see the drunken whatnot that seemed to be what made Jackie Chan famous (at least here) again. They really managed to make the two actors from different kinds of movies work without making their style change.

Meanwhile, someone had the bright idea of actually adding in something like a plot to this whole thing. They wrapped it around a whiny, weak willed teenager (well, I think he was supposed to be about that old) who thought that knowing the names of flashy movie kung-fu made him knowledgeable about the actual thing. He gets pulled back in time to an age of myth where he's got to go on a quest. He is the stick holder while everyone else works. He also sort of gets to learn, um, well, movie kung-fu but we're to believe it's real even though he still seems to be a weak willed and whiny sort-of-like-a-teenager. If you beat him up enough at the end, he'll at least eventually remember he could try not to be so weak.

But it was a meaningless and fun romp so long as you ignore the main character. A silly monkey with a wild bit of wire work (and his... fur) and an absurd drunken fellow who always seems to be in the right place already get up to much joyous fighting. Though it could be a little faster.

Where the stunt bloopers at the end at?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Eminently Domineering

There's another election coming very soon. It seems we have the rest of the primary to get done. How much did splitting up the primary cost? That was money well spent. We also have a couple of eminent domain laws to choose yea or nay on.

It seems that the Supreme Court has ruled that the government can take away your property and hand it over to some private developer to develop a private business so long that it is public in the sense that the public uses it, not in the sense that the public owns it, so long as it is "for the public good," which has an equally open definition. So malls and similar are better for the public (as a whole) than homes and can be built using eminent domain. What? Where's an honest strict constructionist when you need one?

So here we are finally trying to fix this one for the state. We've got two "fixes" to choose from, the one that doesn't really do enough and the one that gets in a sound blow to the chin renters in many places.

First there's prop 98. It does all sorts of things to protect property owners of any sort of property, but it also removes any rent control measures that have been enacted by local governments. The interesting supporter for this one is a guy who claims to be part of a "Protect Prop. 13 Committee." Prop 13 is, for the percentage of my four readers who does not actually live in California, the law that makes is so you pay taxes based on the value of the property when you bought it, not on the current value. It was designed to keep little old ladies on a fixed income from losing their homes just because their neighborhood became fashionable and the value of their home skyrocketed.

Most rent controls, on the other hand, are much like the ones in my area. They prevent the landlord from raising the rents far in excess of inflation until the tenant moves out. He wants to remove any very soft protections renters have against homelessness because the cost of their home raises to sharply while supporting much stronger protections that property owners have against the same thing.

And the rebuttal... Oh, but current renters continue to have the same rent controls until they move out! Renters are supposed to be placated because so long as they never, ever move, they will still have protections? Some people actually do care about their as yet unknown new next door neighbor. Some people actually do end up moving.

Second is prop 99 which just seems to protect owner-occupied residences. Again, renters are not protected, but at least this time it is through being ignored instead of malicious intent. The people arguing against it boohoo that such things as second homes are not protected. Well, second homes do not deserve the same protections as primary residences. It should extend to any dwelling legally used as a primary residence, but it is a start.

Hum... such an extension would leave a big loophole to protect your second home, just hire a live in grounds keeper. That's a loophole I could live with, though.

First rule, do no harm. The first purports to fix a harm, but does so by actions that could, in the long run, inflict greater harm. I've only noted the most immediately egregious problem with it, but it takes away all sorts of housing programs and laws along with the rent controls. The second quite possibly does too little, but it is a step in the right direction without adding a leap in the wrong direction.

Friday, May 23, 2008

*Sniff* There is no Mushishi 4 for me. Even if I didn't believe it would really be out just 3 months after the last that took so long, it really was edited and printed and sent out on time. It seems the weak link in this chain is the distributor who sent out a grand total of one to the comic shop instead of what they actually ordered. And since they're a veritable monopoly, they don't seem to feel like fixing it as soon as possible like a normal business would. By next Wednesday. Hopefully.

Instead I got to look at "the world's longest comic" because the locals were out hawking their wares. Okay, it isn't what comes up if you search on that phrase even though it does have a web page. Still, it is quite impressive sitting there with its wild aspect ratio at 17 inches long and only 2.5 inches high. It's also very cute on the inside.

Here it is, Frank and Frank. It's a delight in the wild. More Frank and Frank here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


The delightful Town of Evening Calm; Country of Cherry Blossoms is up for two Eisner awards. Those are the big ones. The first story in the book is up for "Best Short Story" and the whole is up for "Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Japan" because it's great together, too.

Also among the nominations are the twins in the previous post, both separately and together.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

De: Tales

De: Tales is the "first major American release" of Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, twins from Brazil who both write and draw; the art with a strictly black or white style, the writing neither black nor white. A reading of the available preview gives the impression that this is a rather surreal book. However, it is generally quite down to earth.

The stories are all about the brothers, who are central in the panel above, derived from experiences or imagination. Both take their turns drawing and writing. The result is not meant to flow as a single story. Instead, each is a separate, poignant exploration of some aspect of life.

This is not a book to be read in a single sitting. Sure, it is short enough to finish off all at once, but such a reading does not allow one time to digest each stand alone story. These ought to be digested. The book is packed with downright interesting stories told well. Also the art is quite nice.

A good number of the stories are... I guess I would say male oriented. That is, if the reader does not identify with male and particularly male situations, some of the enjoyment is lost. Though I found the stories intellectually interesting, they did not necessarily catch me emotionally.

(The image included with this post is copyright 2006 Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá. It is drawn by Gabriel Bá, so probably written by his brother but I'm not sure.)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Free Comic Book Day is coming


The offerings for this year's FCBD have been up for a bit now. Apparently this year everything must be all-ages, a designation distinctly different from for children. Basically, no nude Pablo Picasso just because it's true to life. (Or is it?) But give him some shorts and then it's fine even if the kids can't figure out why you would want to read it.

With something more like one book per publisher, a glance through the list gives a different picture of what's easy to get hold of than a glance through some of the more hole-in-the-wall shops. At least, so I hear. Mine local place actually has all sorts of variety.

The list does have plenty of what has become thought of as traditional comics fare. It also has a few of what is traditional if one is judging by the contents of the trunk at camp in the nurse's cabin (in which The Witching Hour was quite prominent.) Suspense, outright fantasy, and just plain fun stuff is there.

So, a quick glance makes me think these will be interesting to pick up:

The Stranded
Neotopia -- seems a bit long for a FCBD offering...
Ape Entertainment's Cartoon-apalooza
Del-Rey and Dabel Brothers Preview
Tiny Titans -- one superhero-y thing, perhaps
Gegika: a Drawn+Quarterly Manga Sampler
Graphic Classics -- adaptions of classic (you know, out of copyright) tales
I.G.N.A.T.Z.: International Graphic Novels at Their Zenith
Atomic Robo and Friends
Viper Comics Presents: Kid Houdini

Most of them previews, even, so you can go ahead and make your own list.

Maybe one day a little more science fiction can be had...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Come Saturday last week I found myself at the other art house theater of the same chain in town for the second of my French movie overload features. Seeing Persepolis, though, was a little more planned.

The movie was deliriously delightful and everything one might expect having read the comic. Well, maybe not quite everything. As it's a memoir, you wouldn't really expect the story to change here and there, but it has been in little ways. A movie has to trim here and there to fit into a usual movie running time. I also noticed a few memorable episodes essentially reduced to their punchline.

As always (nearly), the book is better, but it is still a wonderful romp. A good time at the movie house with plenty to think about after.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

French movie overload the week before last, at least compared to the number of movies I've been watching. Perhaps I shouldn't let it stew for a week... Oh well. The first was Le Scaphandre et le papillon.

This was the result of a, um, wild Tuesday out on the town going for noodles and standing outside one of our art house theaters thinking, "let's see a movie." I had never heard of any of the various foreign films up for Academy Awards that were playing except for the collection of animated shorts, but my companion had had a nagging feeling he wanted to see this one for a while. In the rough summary, this movie is an autobiographical piece about a man after he has suffered a stroke which has left him with locked-in syndrome.

The man is Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor of Elle, and locked-in syndrome is where all the bits work except the connections between the thinking bits and the doing bits. The movie is told from the author's point of view and flows from lows in finding himself nearly entirely without movement to the highs of learning to live what life he still has. Glimpses of the active life before are interspersed with appreciating the environment that must now be examined.

The interactions with other people are the greatest import. The doctor's are only brief encounters, but the therapists start feeling that his condition is a great challenge professionally and proceed to appreciate him as a person. Although he is reluctant at first, his friends and children's mother insist on seeing him. Odd samples of the people he's known come to have their say. He eventually accepts to allow his children to come rather than hiding himself from them. Nearly too late, his girlfriend finally comes rather than hiding him from herself.

In a way, people were able to say their piece and forgive as many wish they had done when a friend or companion has died. A few unfortunates were unable to overcome the thought of always remembering him "like that" instead of as an active person able to easily express whatever joy he was feeling in the moment.

All that said, I was unsure how I felt about the movie when it finished and am still unsure. I didn't find it particularly powerful though it was well executed. My companion felt the life lived after the stroke was a bit wanting, but not any more so than the life before as presented. I've never quite figured out what he thinks is a life well lived as opposed to one that is not, but I suspect I disagree with it. That is no great surprise since this may be the one thing we as individuals agree on the least. The chance to sit back and really reflect on everything and maybe even put right a few things does have a certain appeal, though.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

soap ads

You know, I'm not especially glad I use Dial, nor would I specifically wish everybody else did. As a matter of fact, I think the Irish Spring left me smelling just a smidgen better throughout the day.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Lots of elephants and other great critters

Here's something to enjoy: Pascal Campoin's art blog.

He makes simple look so easy. Well, I say simple, but he really takes the time to populate the piece of world he draws for so many of these sketches. Today's post is an exquisite example of this, although usually there are not quite so many characters as today. Still, even if the subject is a new pet, he doesn't forget that cities are full of buildings. Not only that, but there's an overall organization to those buildings and they can't simply be slapped on willy-nilly. He doesn't forget that forests have trees, and behind those trees, more trees. Even the simple, reflective sketches communicate an ephemeral character to the moment they capture, so it's no surprise that he can come up with such fun moments of action. There's even occasional animations, usually for Christmas or the New Year but sometimes just because like that one.

(For each link, be sure to click on the thumbnail to get the big picture and be sure your browser isn't shrinking it to fit, too.)

I am feeling like my posts have been negative lately and this is something on my blog roll the last few months that I look forward to seeing new posts on.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Spider-man 3

I saw the first Spider-man movie in the theater because that's what the group decided to go out and see. It had moments, I guess, but overall wasn't great. It was generally the graphics which tended to not quite mesh with the real world around them. Meanwhile the swinging around on web always had a jarring, not-quite-in-tune-with-physics feel. I mean, aside from how he should be slamming into buildings. A pendulum doesn't quite move like that.

I wasn't looking forward to seeing the second, but eventually did. I can actually ignore the utterly wonky physics, occasionally without so much as a comment. Other than long moments of really flashy, wonky "physics", I don't remember much about this movie at all now. It didn't really encourage watching more movies.

Yet when a flatmate decided he had to rent the third one, curiosity drove me to actually watch it since it was there already. What an incredible mistake. This movie plunges to similar depths of bad as DeepStar Six, my usual marker for bad movies that aren't even fun to laugh at. This is a movie written for twelve-year-olds and no one else. It's a bit violent for the younger set and even a twelve-year-old is getting a bit too sophisticated for this.

I think it was the crowd scenes that really did it in for me. The carnival of happy cheering people celebrating their vigilante was bad enough, but every big fight also draws a crowd. A crowd that doesn't seem to sense any danger from falling objects as some costumed fellows fight it out with various thrown weapons above them, commonly taking out chunks of brick. In fact, this gathered crowd seems simply overjoyed when it comes to fights that involve improperly secured vehicles dangling above their heads. And, oh, Mary Jane might die! Bonus!

Are we supposed to see the crowd and get carried away with feeling good because they apparently feel good? They're all nuts.

Meanwhile, only one brief bit of really flashy and totally absurd "physics".