Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Boys Are Back In Town

This sounds like a joke. To most comics readers, the premise of Archie Andrews and Frank Castle sharing space in the same comic - the same story! - sounds like a complete farce. One of the most violent anti-heroes in comics' history with the most wholesome teenager ever? Get real. Besides, Punisher's a Marvel character, and Archie has his own eponymous publisher. They'd never come to an agreement that would let this be printed, right?

It exists.

As the editor's pages clearly state, it began as a joke, but by the summer of 1994, Batton Lash, Jon Buscema, and Stan Goldberg had created the world's most bizarre comics crossover. The plot followed the Punisher, hot on the heels of an East Coast drug dealer known as 'Red'. The kicker is that 'Red's description is a match for everyone's favorite average teenager Archie Andrews - and the trail leads straight to Riverdale. (Hijinks ensue.)

If you still think I'm making this up, I can assure you I'm not.

Look out behind you, Frank! It's a teenager!
I own the damn thing. I ended up getting the Archie-printed cover, and until recently I didn't even know that there was a second, Marvel variant cover.

Apparently, this led to a minor trope of Archie crossovers, including meeting the Predator, KISS, the cast of Glee (which does make some sense), the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Archie Comics now owns the license to the current TMNT comics), and Jason of the Friday The 13th film franchise (under the title Archie at Crystal Lake). Better yet, while doing some reading, I found reference to other crossovers such as The Punisher Meets Eminem, an issue of The Avengers where the eponymous team appears on The Late Show with David Letterman, Superman Vs. Popeye, Groo The Wanderer Vs. Conan, and of all things, Superman and the Nesquik Bunny.

And I thought Archie Meets The Punisher was a spoof.

Turned Upon Me, Took Me By The Hair

I noticed that an old, and very good, post of mine has been getting some attention recently. It concerned the TV bumpers Cartoon Network used to use for the Adult Swim block back in 2007-08. They were fairly creative, in my opinion. Most of them used a tilt-shift photography technique in order to make the subject of the photo appear to be a model. I actually stayed up with my old point-and-shoot camera to record this intriguing bit of TV ephemera. Since there seems to be a bit of interest in the idea, I decided to post the entire series just for the heck of it.

And here's a random scene from Inuyasha just for the hell of it. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

This Is My Life In The Crazy Robot Man Reservation

Something that I stumbled upon while browsing the Contemptible Cover article on TV Tropes. I was reading about Boris Vallejo doing art for FASA's Battletech sci-fi wargaming franchise's tie-in novels. And one link, mentioning how Vallejo's approach to the 'Battlemechs' of the series wasn't exactly detailed... or realistic... Well, the below cover caught my eye, but for no reason that involves Battletech whatsoever. 

The 'mech' on the left, I have no idea what the fuck it is. (Realism, Vallejo, realism!) But the 'mech' on the right... it's a dead ringer for the Glaug Officers' Battlepod of Robotech/Macross fame. What the fuck is a Macross mecha doing on the cover of a Battletech novel?

It's actually quite simple. When Battletech was being developed, the designers 'borrowed' giant robot and mecha designs from various anime series including Super Dimension Fortress Macross, which had not been licensed in America at the time. Speculation abounds (though I can find no hard reference) that there was a lawsuit brought or threatened by Harmony Gold, owners of the Robotech franchise (which included the original Macross series) which prompted FASA to abandon the 'borrowed' material. A later owner of the game property claimed that they had secured the rights to all of the so-called 'Unseen' mechs, except for the Macross properties. Harmony Gold put paid to that.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sometimes I Go Whole Days Listening Bored, Half Asleep

So the 'Lion Series' of mix CDs gets another addition. The basics for this one were coming to me randomly at work over the past few weeks.

Roi, I hope you don't mind another disc spinning your way next I see you.

The Lion Series, Vol. 3: Entertainingly Difficult
  1. It's Nice To Know You Work Alone - Silversun Pickups
  2. Don't Pretend You Didn't Know - Dinosaur Jr. 
  3. Lost At Home - The Sun
  4. Flagpole Sitta - Harvey Danger
  5. Song 2 - Blur
  6. Hang Wire - The Pixies
  7. That's When I Reach For My Revolver - Mission Of Burma
  8. We Real Cool - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
  9. Voodoo - Godsmack
  10. Half Asleep - School Of Seven Bells
  11. The Mountain Range In My Living Room - The Early November
  12. Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt - We Are Scientists
  13. Believe - The Chemical Brothers
  14. At 1 A.M. - The Subways
  15. Only To Haunt You - The Von Bondies
  16. Sad And Lonely - Secret Machines
  17. Allergic (To Thoughts Of Mother Earth) - Placebo
  18. Mountain Side - The Flaming Lips
  19. Rill Rill - Sleigh Bells

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Climbing Up The Topsails, I Lost My Leg

This is why my favorite drinking holiday is Wednesday. Not this coming Wednesday, mind you, but Wednesdays in general. Mondays, too. Not many people out on those days. I don't have to worry about competing for a parking place or a spot at the bar, waiting long for post-drinks food, or squeezing through unruly, inebriated crowds while on my sober-up walk.

Of course, let the calendar plop a drinking holiday on a Tuesday and I'm sober for two weeks. Or would be, if I had thought this one through. I'm sitting at Dee's Cafe, listening to Rick Astley - of all people, Rick Fucking Astley* - and watching buzz-cut-headed bros sit on the covered pool tables in complete defiance of the notices placed by management. Amateur drunkards tend to clog the streets starting with the weekend before the holiday, and every night thereafter until the actual day after. That's what happened to me last Halloween - I decided to hit the bar on November 1st (unlike the previous Halloween, when I went down on the actual holiday, which was a clusterfuck in its own right) and was still greeted with dozens of goofballs in costume and having trouble holding their liquor.

Better yet, the ridiculous patronage means that the glassware Dee's is using has temporarily turned disposable and therefore contra-aesthetic, and I was hoping for a nice photo of my first drinks to head up a post I'm working on.

I consider myself one of those who approach their time hitting the bar with at least a little bit of reverence - ironically not unlike how the faithful among us seem to approach going to church on Sunday. I might even go so far as to say that going to the bar on a drinking holiday reminds me of my hometown church being bombarded with worshipers at Christmas and Easter services. I imagine that most Christians are glad to have so many willing to come worship (and simultaneously wondering how to persuade them to stick around the other 50 Sundays in the year); but for a reverent drunk a la Bogart's Richard Blaine, the swell of boisterous, Lite-swilling goofballs on drinking holidays can be vexing, to say the least. And they take up the pews - uh, I mean stools, that us regulars always, always claim when we arrive on normal visits.

It's rough watching amateur night at my favorite bars; if only 'amateur' still meant someone who does something out of the love of doing so. Perhaps they'd have learned something about drinking if they approached it that way. Inexperienced drinkers can be distracting at best and dangerous at worst - from their loss of spatial sense, indoor voice and personal boundaries to disregarding all the advice about getting behind the wheel while under the influence.

For those who want to enjoy drinking - who want to truly get good at it (as good as really is possible - I mean, seriously - drinking as a skill? Who could take the idea seriously, besides me and a few I know?), I would actually recommend drinking at home. If you want to drink on a holiday renowned for alcohol consumption, throw a party at your place and make sure you have enough room for people to crash. You're in a familiar place, with people you know, and if you or your guests aren't certain of their tolerance, spending the night there is your best option. It's safer. Besides, if you don't drive, more time to drink!

I also should lay out a few of my own ground rules for going to the bar. Proper reverence for a night out drinking and being merry starts with having a good idea of your tolerance. You do not want to blaspheme at the feet of the porcelain gods, as it were; or end up arrested for a DUI; or acquire the legit nickname of Duncan Drisorderly (I think there's a punk rocker who already goes by that anyway). Sure it rhymes, but it's no less true - beer before liquor, ever sicker; liquor before beer, never fear. If you arrived operating any motor vehicle with a steering apparatus (how you'd drive a GP30 to the bar**, I have no idea), you may even wish to avoid harder spirits altogether.

Once you start to feel it, stay calm. This might seem like a counterintuitive rule, but I grew up in a Presbyterian church and we're pretty placid in general, really. The last thing you want to do is get kicked out for being a drunken oaf, or piss off your fellow drinkers and the bartender. Just stay relaxed.

The last key rule is to tip well. You can tip every drink (i.e. 'keep the change') or wait until you head out, but never give a bartender a small tip. Be generous. You actually get better service when you tip well and regularly. Even better, thank the bartender as well. Sure, AC/DC says that money talks, but it's not really everything. A little human contact is always appreciated; bartenders are people first, not just alcohol dispensers.

I do have to admit that in the particular case of St. Patrick's Day, one detail that most people overlook, and does irk me, is some ignorance of the reason for wearing green. The symbolism of green does represent Irish republicanism, but all you have to do is look at the flag and learn why one-third is orange. Protestant followers of William III, King of England (who actually invaded England, deposed King James II, and won the crowns of England, Scotland and Ireland), took his heraldic color of orange as one of their symbols in the religious conflicts of the time. In the flag itself, green can be taken to symbolize Catholics, and as stated the orange represents the Protestant minority; with the white being an appeal for peace between the two factions. As for myself, I'm pretty sure there's no Irish ancestry in me, so if you ever spot a guy wearing a t-shirt with either the Scottish or Welsh flag, it's probably me.

I should probably get out of here before it gets any crazier, but I sure wish some of my fellow bar patrons would read this and take a few pointers with them. Maybe I'd be more inclined to hang out with them on the weekend, instead of having to be the only guy at the bar at the beginning of the week.

* The reaction is more aimed at 1) the blatant violation of Rules 1 and 2, 2) the fact that Astley is British rather than Irish - specifically a Lancashire lad, and 3) that there does in fact exist the possibility that someone here tonight may be a legit fan.

** In the UK, this becomes 'driving a Black 5 down to the pub'.

Friday, March 13, 2015

They Climbed Aboard Their Starship And Headed For The Skies

Drew at Back Of The Cereal Box posted an amusing anecdote about wearing a certain hat into Home Depot. I think it's a cool hat, despite never having watched Gravity Falls. That said, it reminded me of a similar thing that happened to me - way, way back in 2005 while I was a Penn State New Ken student.

See this hat?

I even have the officers' oak leaves! I expect a salute next time. 

It's a piece of merchandise from the Robotech universe. It is in fact designed after the command ball caps worn by U.S. Navy personnel, mainly officers (though I can find precious little info on them online). The SDF-1 Macross is the freaking huge spacecraft from Robotech canon that, in 1999, falls out of the sky, crash-lands on Earth, and brings World War III to an abrupt halt. After kicking the tires and taking a peek under the hood, Earth's military decides to fix it up a little and press it into service. Ten years later, on its launch day, the insanely powerful alien fleet that's been trying to track it down makes it to Earth. Needless to say, hilarity ensues. (No. No it does not.)

Not long after I'd received it - this was a birthday present, I think - I was getting ready for class at PSNK and was running behind. For whatever reason, I still had wet hair and the day wasn't very warm. So on the way out I grabbed the hat, slammed it on my head and away I went.

First class of the day was Intro to Chemistry with Dr. Clarence Finley. Luckily I popped in just as he was starting class. Dr. Finley's a pretty cool guy and I knew he didn't mean anything sinister when he cheerily quipped "Glad you could join us, Derek," as I took my seat. My friend Mike and I had actually discovered that he was another railfan, and could be our faculty advisor for the railfan club we started. It would have taken a bit more than just being a few minutes late to class one day to make the man unhappy with me, I believe. I think I simply apologized for being late, and so class started properly.

Dr Finley started by introducing what we'd cover in class that day, and asked a question. I had actually done my homework (figuratively and literally, mind you) and knew the answer. Up may hand goes, and I'm given the chance to answer - which I did correctly. Dr. Finley thanked me.

And then he asked me, "Are you a veteran?"

I had no idea what he was talking about. And then I remembered that I was wearing a hat. My Macross hat. Like the official Navy hats. And a lot of Navy veterans wear similar hats. As a matter of fact, my grandfather has one - he served aboard the aircraft carrier Lake Champlain between '53 and '56. I think he might even have a spare.

I froze for a moment. I respect the men and women that make up our fighting forces for their willingness to give their time and possibly their lives in service to their country (although I admit to increasingly questioning the validity of the tasks which the federal government asks of them; but that's a hysterical rant for another time), and the idea that I might end up diverting attention from them with my hat made me feel a little guilty. I should have grabbed the Mon-Valley System trucker hat. Fictional railroads are a lot less controversial. (They may actually be the least controversial thing to exist, ever.)

I still had to answer the question, though. "Oh, uh, no. The hat's just from an old sci-fi TV show."

This is probably why I've only worn it once or twice since I got it.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Still Looking For That Blue Jean Baby Queen, Prettiest Girl I Ever Seen

I think I may have accidentally bought a pair of ladies' jeans.

In fairness, all I was looking for was a cheap pair of jeans to wear to work. One of my pairs of Carhartt jeans, which are supposed to be a bit tougher, wear a bit harder, made for the working man, has finally split its seam. Incidentally, it's to be cut up and used for patches for the other pairs of Carhartts that are still hanging on.

I struck out at the recently opened Salvation Army store on the corner of 9th and East Carson. No jeans in my size. I will say this for the Salvation Army: their store is always far better organized than Goodwill. It's a better shopping experience, actually. Better staffed, better organized, and no irritating BOB FM on the radio. So I picked up my headphones from my car, put on my Guided By Voices mix (a necessity after all this winter and a trying week at work) and made the mile-long trek to Goodwill. It's a fun walk, past all the storefronts, restaurants, and even some of the more interesting vacant buildings that line East Carson.

An important point of context: I had not begun drinking yet.

I made it down to the South Side Works (to give an idea how long a walk this is, the Goodwill is on 27th and East Carson, eighteen blocks away), and began my search. They had rearranged the store since I had been in last, and I had to find the pants. In the end I only found three pairs of jeans in my size - or close to it. There were two ordinary-looking pairs, and one that was obviously from the acid-wash jeans trend of the late 80s and early 90s. I mean, these things were so close to being snow white it was hilarious. I had to at least try them on, but I didn't get a picture of the event, (un)fortunately.

I grabbed them and stole away to the fitting room to check for fit. I jammed myself into the acid-wash beast. It wasn't so comfortable, actually - it was pretty tight around the knees. Not quite skinny jean territory, but not something I want to worry about at work. So I extricated myself from them as best I could; and, with a sigh of either relief or disappointment (still not sure which one) hung the grunge-era relic back on its hanger.

Next up was the first of the ordinary pair. I think they were Faded Glory - you know, the Wal-Mart store brand. They weren't too bad, except the waistband was awful pinchy. I don't like pinchy waistbands. As a matter of fact, I have a pair of Carhartts to replace with that exact problem. So again, out and back to the hanger on the wall hook they went, not to be purchased.

I came to the last pair. The brand was unfamiliar to me - the Mossimo Supply Co. New one on me. As I gave them their moment in the sun, I realized that these were certainly the most comfortable jeans I could have found in the whole store, possibly the best I've worn in my life. Nothing felt squeezed, nothing seemed too loose; it honesty felt like I wasn't even wearing pants at all, they were so comfortable. (Better that than vice versa, I suppose.) Done and done! I decided at that moment that they would be mine. I bought them and headed back to drop them off at the car.

Then I went to the bar.

Fast-forward to the next day. I decide to try them on, and I'm showing them to my mom and talking about how nice the fit is. She asks about the brand and I show her the label. In goes 'Mossimo Supply Co.' to the gaping maw of Google, whose all-seeing eye finds us what we were looking for. I think.

Incidentally, any comparisons between Google and Mordor are easily explained by the fact that the folks and I just finished watching 'Return Of The King'. Besides, only one at a time can wield the Ring - since it took both Larry and Sergey to create the greatest search engine ever, I think we're safe from Google.

As Mom and I scan some online store that carries Mossimo clothing, we notice something problematic. All we're seeing in jeans is in the ladies' category. Men who shop for Mossimo and want something other than dress slacks to cover them from the waist down (they don't even sell kilts!) will be going home in their skivvies. And in this weather, that's bad news.

I'm still not completely convinced that they're ladies' jeans, though. I don't want to return them or let them go, as I really like them. So here's the evidence suggesting that they are in fact men's:
  1. Their size is given in the same format as all the other jeans I've ever owned - in waist/length format. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that some company out there sizes ladies' pants the same way, but I've never heard of it. Mom hasn't either. 
  2. The belt loops are big enough for my studded belt. You know, one like every hipster has left over from his poorly-executed punk phase. I'd've expected ladies' jeans to have smaller belt loops. 
  3. There's plenty of room in them for The Fifth Most Important Things In Life. You'd think ladies' jeans would bind there if a guy wore them. Not so in this case. (Most Important Things One Through Four shall remain secret.)
  4. Nowhere on them does it specify whether they're men's or ladies'. This isn't conclusive, but it isn't conclusive for the counter-argument, either. 
Speaking of which, here's the evidence for them to, in fact, be of the ladies' department:
  1. Mossimo does not appear to make men's jeans. Despite some serious searching, I found no evidence that they do so.
  2. Like I said, Goodwill is comparatively less organized than the Salvation Army. It's entirely plausible that these jeans got moved from the ladies' department to the men's by accident, and nobody noticed. Or just as likely, nobody knew that they were ladies' wear in the first place. 
  3. They're so positively comfortable, it boggles the mind. Most of my 'most comfortable' jeans would be better described as 'least annoying', actually. These are actually enjoyable to wear.
Irregardless, I've been wearing them all day, and I think they're my new favorite pair of jeans. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Darkness Taking Days, Nights Filled With Longer Hours

My mom said she needed a volunteer for dinner. I asked, not entirely joking, if she sought a volunteer to be dinner rather than cook it. As long as it seems it's going to take for spring to get here, being served doesn't seem so bad, really.

It's frustrating, though. It's cold, flakes of frozen water keep falling out of the sky with no end in sight, the driveway is a sheet of ice, and the car needs at least an inch of snow brushed from it - or will by tomorrow morning when I go to take care of all the errands I missed yesterday. Aside from yesterday's delightfully addictive reprieve from winter (which I took full advantage of - just ask Nikki, the bartender at Dee's), I don't know whether it's the boredom or hunger that will get me first.

More likely it'll be the combination of both that gets us all in the end.