Monday, October 30, 2006

Monkey!

While in San Francisco last week, I found myself in Chinatown. While chinatowns are not unique, I do have to say SF's is tough to beat. It's still the goto place for designer knock-offs and those ridiculously opulent furnishings, but there are also shopping gems peppered in-between.

Outside of one storefront was a guy selling carved figurines of the Lunar Calendar. They had big and small sizes, one of each beast of the Chinese Zodiac, which some of you may know I am intimately familiar with. What was cool was that the artist would ask your name or whatever, and draw out the Chinese symbol on a post-it for approval. Then he carves the thing right into the bottom of the figurine for your own custom stamp!

I had to get me a monkey (even though my personal sign is not), and I asked him for the symbol of Sun Wukong, "The Monkey King." He was all, "You like the Monkey King?" as in, "You, gweilo, know of such things?" Yes, my friend, yes I do. He proceeded to carve out the intricate stamp right there in front of me-- which I have to add, no matter how many he's done over the years, has to be admired as a work of art: He's carving it backwards after all. A minute or so later he brushes things off, grabs an ink pad and shows me an example of my new Monkey King stamp. "Xiéxie!!" A W E S O M E !!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

New Comics Day

Great week of books!
52
Justice
Seven Soldiers (!)
Batman/Superman Annual
Planetary (!)
Nextwave
Supermarket TPB

It's a week of books that we've been waiting far too long for. Most anticipated is the conclusion to Seven Soldiers, which for whatever reasons took waaaaay too long.

Planetary, Planetary, Planetary. Holy crap! Is this really the last issue???? Will all answers be revealed? That is, if I can even remember all of the questions. It's been like six fucking years for 26 issues, I'll probably enjoy going back and reading the series as a whole just to remind myself of all the little details. Great cover for the end of a fantastic book.

Saaaaay-gaaaaa

Had a little jaunt to San Francisco, where I made my way through a sea of iPods (seriously, is it a law there now?) for a little chitchat with the fine folks at Sega. It has been interesting over the years watching them evolve from a hardware supplier to a strict producer of content. Though I'll say that their games of late can be hit or miss, I'll tell you that for pure attitude Sega still cares about actual games. In the videogame industry, this is not as common as one would think. With the latest console battle about to heat up, I expect good things!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ribs USA

While fairly health conscious, I do enjoy my food. Every now and again I crave some of that home style, summer picnic, barbecue eatin'. Burbank's Ribs USA has just such a menu and recently I took it upon myself to indulge.

I love the BBQ chicken, but you can't go to a place called Ribs USA without getting some ribs! The baby back ribs are primo, but if you wanna go "Bedrock Style" you have to sample the big beef ribs. The chicken and ribs combo comes with four of these bad boys (only three pictured here -yum-), and your neighbor's dog will be happy to take those bones off your hands!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New Comics Day

WildStorm gasps for life, yet again.

52
Shadowpact
The Authority
WildCats
The Ultimates
Claws
The Black Coat

Another relaunch of The Authority might garner some yawns at this point. Throw in Grant Morrison and Gene Fucking Ha and suddenly it's a whole new ball game. Curiouser and curiouser.

Morrison also pens, um, another relaunch of WildCats, sans acronym. None other than Jim Lee and Scott Williams on art. Wow, is it still 1993? If anything it will be intereting to see what the old gang is up to (literally and fictionally). I was quite a fan of Joe Casey's Wildcats X.0 series, finding the corporate-sciences-via-meta in full effect and "my cup of tea." Morrison is no slouch in the mega fiction trip arena, I hope the characters have the life in them to support it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

It's how I like it


Animation, that is. Check out the sweet trailer for "The Act," an upcoming branched-story game that gives me the warm fuzzies.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

New Comics Day

What a great week of books!

52
JLA Classified
Green Lantern Corps
WorldStorm
Gen 13 (?!)
The Escapists (!)
Rocketo (!!)
Dork (!!!)


A new issue of Dork??!! Evan Dorkin, purveyor of all things Milk, Cheese, and Dork must just need to release a bunch of junk from his head every few years. Fine by me, because Dork is some funny shit.


Also it feels like a decade's worth of whiplash with an all new Gen13 on the shelves. I am wary, very wary, tho I'll give it another read and a few more issues to make judgement. What my readers may or may not know is that for reasons I've never understood, I care more for the direction of Gen13 than most people ever should. Hell, that book was my freakin' job in a time that seems so far gone. Gail Simone on words, best of luck to you. Talent Caldwell on art, really not my cup of tea, but go for it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Edco Does Faith Naked*

*In Photoshop. ;-)



Groovy gamer and gen-u-ine blog personality Faith Naked was the inspiration for this latest piece. Videogamers both boy and girl alike would do well to read up at her home-base blog, The Girl Gamer!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Breakfast at the 5 & Diner


The best part about eating at the 5 & Diner? It's in Las Vegas.

Friday, October 06, 2006

DC Direct: Power Girl


Yessir, I did purchase me an Infinite Crisis Power Girl figure, new this week from DC Direct. Pity none of the other figures in the series were anything special. Though I will say I had no idea Mongul was such a huge hunk of plastic. I mean he's like 4 times the size of everyone else!

Power Girl by far is the nicest, um, sculpted, of the set, but still I felt needed some work. The sculpt is quite fine, but mass production dulls it down. To the hobby box!

The first thing to do was to call out the costume seams. I used a grey instead of a black, but it was still a little strong so I gave it a diluted wash of acrylic white. I also called out the details in the boots with straight black. Next I gave the skin a light wash of pumkin ink to enhance the bust and call out the leg muscles a bit more. 'Pumkin' being the shade of ink, not some mutant, squid-like excretion from an actual pumkin.


The last step was the hair. The factory line delivered a bland mustard with a black wash, which didn't look so hot. Power Girl is a power blonde, so I gave it a new coat of Orc Yellow (Warhammer) and finished up with a brown wash. I went in and called out highlights with some canary and white with pleasing results. Click for bigger pics, which could be better, my bootleg digital camera just doesn't have the macro moxy (the awesome shots of Green Lantern were taken with my sister's Digital Rebel). But trust me when I say the extra lovin' sure turned this figure around!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

New Comics Day

This week's stack has a nice heft to it.

52
Justice League of America
Y The Last Man
Manifest Eternity
Battler Britton
Sock Monkey
Street Fighter Legends: Sakura
The Vault: Mike Allred (!)








Weather it's the free-for-all nuttiness of Madman, or the tragically hip X-Statix, Mike Allred ranks towards the top of "comics for the sake of comics." The thick collection of AAA Pop Comics' Vault is a fanstastic behind the scenes look at Allred's work over the years. I'm telling you folks, those original Madman comics were like nothing of their time, refreshing is an apt description of what was coming off the page. As Madman matured into the Atomics, Allred dove into every story head first, and after years of great books, he could still come out of nowhere with a line of dialogue, plot point, or single panel of art that made me go, "What the fuck??"

In more recent times there was a insanely serendipitous pairing with writer Peter Milligan on Marvel's X-Force, ala X-Statix. This was the best book Marvel had published for a long, long, time. The characters it introduced in its run are more memorable than any number of X-Men and infinitely more interesting. Over at DC, there has been some brief appearances on Superman and a must-have issue of Solo-- containing one of the best Batman stories ever told.

Mike Allred as a storyteller is engaging, quirky, and just kind of weird. As an artist he projects inspiration of an almost daunting sort. With drawings so clean, stripped of any excess in rendering, one wonders if it looks so good because he makes it look easy. Oh, man, can this guy draw. The X-Force cover here is so perfect in its composition and execution that I can hardly believe it's a cover of X-Force.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Heroes



I'm surprised how good this show is so soon. I find many of the major network's new "event" shows to be derivative of, well, themselves. And while it took Lost a good second season to really get churning, Heroes is going strong out of the gate.

Yes, yes, anything with Ali Larter is watchable, but so far the real star of the show is Hayden Panettiere's invincible cheerleader, Claire. I feel the whole premise could revolve around just her and be jim dandy if the first two episodes are any indication.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Mew?! Mew Two!!


Awake and ready by the crack of noon, the bright Saturday sun spoke of a great day ahead.

Nintendo was sponsoring an event with Toys R Us to celebrate the release of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon for the Nintendo DS-- but the real treat was the rare chance to obtain a Mew for the many versions of Pokémon proper on the Gameboy Advance! Since Mew hasn't been accessible in the US versions of the game since the move to the GBA, this was a "must attend" for any true Pokémon player!!

A little before 12 I popped into the Toys R Us over in Van Nuys. There's another one closer to me in Burbank but I just thought I'd try my luck somewhere else and sneak back to Burbank for a double dip if I had the time. This turned out to be a wise choice. There were already a handfull of kids hanging out and I got to make a few trades before the event got underway. Probably my most daring trade was my Jirachi for a MewTwo. If you know the game, you can judge that for yourself.

The crowd grew quickly, and it was great to see so many folks around with all their GBA's linked up, trading and battling with each other. I of course drew many eyes of amazement and befuddlement with my bitchen' Pokémon Emerald Rayquaza Gameboy Advance SP. Now I play alot of Pokémon, but I don't even rank next to the young tikes who's (it would appear) sole purpose in life is to amass maxed-level armies of Pikachu and friends. One kid came up to me and said, "Do you want to battle? I have the best Pokémon in my whole school, you're probably going to lose."

Apparently it was also Toys R Us mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe's "birthday," so we all had to wait through some ridiculous marching and singing around the store before they let the Pokémon event get under way. Finally they shore up the line (which eventually went out the door) and started up the trading. This could have been handled a little more efficiently, as the process to trade Mew was merely one GBA cartridge packed to the brim with Mews given to a Toys R Us employee. The trading process itself involves linking up your Gameboy to theirs, entering a special trade room, and trading one of your disposable Pokémon for the coveted Mew. It takes about 2-3 minutes a person, and has to be done one person at a time. This didn't go so bad for me since I was near the head of the line and they were enforcing one Mew per customer.

I got my Mew onto my Pokémon Ruby version, then made a few more trades with some folks waiting in line. I wanted to trade as much as I could, because I never get to do this and it's my only chance at getting some of the other version specific Pokémon. Not because I don't have the time, but more so that I don't make a habit of lingering where children gather; not alot of Pokémon goes on around bars and pool halls.

With many Pokémon trades accomplished, I thought I'd try my luck back in Burbank to selfishly snag another Mew. The Burbank store (also in the midst of a Geoffrey celebration) was far less organized and clearly wasn't ready to handle a crowd for fans of "some silly videogame." Big, big mistake.

This grates with me because I feel that any retail establishment has a responsibility to reasonably know its product, marketplace, and consumers. Toys R Us is a huge retailer of videogames, they have an entire section of their stores dedicated to them. Pokémon is not only the undisputed top selling GBA game, this past year Pokémon Emerald version has been the top selling game on any platform, at times even topping Madden 07 on the monthly charts. Even a cursory dip into Pokémon knowledge could have helped the Burbank store manager better anticipate what would be required, and prepare appropriately.

There was quite a line when I arrived, but I thought what the hell, and hunkered down. But the line didn't move. For like, 20 minutes. Others said this had been the case for some time. I overhead one employee tell another that they had to start cutting customers off with only one trade. Ah ha... the line wasn't moving because the guy up front was letting greedy kids trade as many Mews as they wanted (Hey, I at least had the courtesy to go to another store, that's not greedy!) This caused the snails pace. To top it off he wasn't familiar with the process or the rules, something Nintendo posted on their websites and e-mails, and surely had to have provided to the stores. I don't blame the guy but he had the kids running the show and taking advantage of it full steam. But the big problem arose with the slow moving line and the manager announcing that the event ended at 3:00, and that was it, sorry for the inconvenience. Well that did not go over well with a line full of parents who had been there for hours and kids who desperately wanted this super rare Pokémon. One, I'll remind, that was coveted on the original Pokémon games from years ago and is simply not available now except for events like these.

The manager feigned responsibility and insisted there was nothing she could do. This was not true of course, there were several things she could do. After what was probably a most unexpected onslaught of disgruntled parents, she caved in, capped the line, and promised everyone already in line would get their trade. She may have been ambushed, but from her comments she clearly did not understand the purpose of the event or what was even going on. Had she taken some time to familiarize her staff with some very basic tenets, the event would have gone much more smoothly and even bolstered the store's standing. That's what promotion is, it is as local as it is global.

The line did get to moving to a steady pace. I passed the time trading with the kids and poké chit chat with some generally interested parents eager to understand what they were supporting. Pokémon is a fascinating phenomenon, it's one of my all time favorite games. It is good. Even though I was tired from the wait, it was eventually my turn and I procured a second Mew for my Pokémon Fire Red version. I figure any gathering of people with a shared enthusiasm is a good experience, even if there are snags on the way. As I left the line the manager asked, trying to be friendly, "Was it worth it?" It was a silly question and all I could respond was "Well, I'm here, so yeah."