Saturday, February 28, 2009

Street Fighter IV! Bring on the Shiny Beatdown!

"Return of the Beatdown!" is the slogan of the newest addition in the Street Fighter series. As a long-time fan of arcade-style Street Fighter I had to immediately rent this game when it came out and give it a try for myself. I think you will all be very happy to hear that this game does not disappoint. Street Fighter manages to still be a 2D fighter while pumping up the game with beautiful 3D environments and responsive combos that work surprisingly well even with a regular 360 controller. If you want to be hardcore you can pick up one of the limited edition arcade controllers or arcade sticks that released with the game, but I have to say these are becoming extremely scarce as fans are realizing they are worth the 50 bucks you have to fork out to get one. The fight stick DOES make it easier to execute combos, but the 360 controller (or dualshock, if you have PS3) really aren't that hard to adapt to. If need be you can always go into training mode and hone your skills.

Arcade mode, as usual, only has a flimsy story for you to follow, but this series has never really been about in-depth plot so I don't really see this as a loss. There are some cool anime-style cinemas that string you along as you kick butt from country to country. The backgrounds are sooooo shiny! I can't get over how great this game looks. The characters are sort of cell-shaded, and the shadows and lighting that grace them as they move through the environments give them a lot of depth.
Darci and I decided to play the only character we ever play, Chun Li, but I did give some of the other characters a shot as well. Chun Li still has her trademark spinning bird kick and fabulously huge thunder thighs. Ultra-Meter moves are different for every character but if you can work up a combo using your full meter you can completely obliterate your opponent. Characters like El Fuerte are SUPER FAST, and when you face them on higher difficulties in arcade mode they can hand you your butt with their Ultra-Meter combos. Even on normal difficulty this game is quite challenging the first time through, so if you're looking for a fighting game to give you a hard time, crank that difficulty level up and resist the urge to chuck your controller into a wall when you get pwnd.

Oh, and if you don't own two controllers... get a second, or you'll be sad.
If you have XBOX Live you can challenge others (and vice versa) while playing through arcade mode. Hooray multi-player!
So get out there and kick some ass!

Lady Lara Jones

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

That's not how crying works

This isn't really geeky, but like Darcy said, "This is relevant to my interests damnit!" And by that I mean I like to find things and make fun of them.

What I found was a photo exhibit about various actors crying. The exhibit focused on finding big masculine men (although some of them are really, really not masculine. I'm looking at you, Hayden Christansen) and presenting them in a different light.

Some of the photos are really striking, like Daniel Craig, who looked like he'd been crying for hours, and William Dafoe, who looked pretty damn wrecked.

I am, however, going to share my two favorites with you. And by now you should know that by "favorites" I mean "ones that I find to be hilarious."

I hate you, Hayden Christansen, and you stupid perfect emo tear and your pink shirt and your carefully styled messy hair and trying to look tragic and handsome and even crying you still manage to look dead inside and I want to hit you in your stupid whiny face!

How long do you think he sat there trying for that one perfect tear? "Wait, wait, don't take the picture just yet. I need to look both sad and beautiful. Can men be beautiful? I mean, I'm pretty damn good looking. Did you see Jumper? I was so damn hot in that. Oh, right I'm supposed to be thinking of something sad. Um, dead puppies, dead puppies, dead puppies, did you get the shot? Didn't my one perfect tear and pouty lips totally tug at your heart? God, I'm good."

Hayden Christansen is one of those people who if I see on the street I will be arrested for assault because I will brick him. In the face.

And now my ultimate favorite, I present to you, Robert Downey, Junior:

That's now how crying works, Robert Downey, Jr. Also, were you trying for thirteen year old girl? Good god, you look like your crush totally dumped you in front of your friends and oh god, why can't he see that you two are just meant to be together? Good thing you have that swooning couch. Just lay down, perfectly posed to let all viewers know of the abject tragedy of your life and listen to Evanescence. They'll all be sorry one day. You'll show them. You are smart and beautiful and THEY'LL BE SORRY.

Robert Downey Jr. is the poutiest princess in all the land. I sort of want to pet him.

ETA: Thanks to Liz for reminding me who was the manliest crying-est man of them all:

I think RDJ might have competition on who is the poutiest princess in all the land. Catfight!

Want more crying men? Go here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

And sometimes fandom rewards your patience and in Buddhism!

Chris Claremont returns to write the X:Men...right where he left off!
(thanks to Danicus for showing me this!)
I have always been a fan of simplicity. (It's probably derived from my base character concept: laziness.) I don't like having to think too much, at least not when it comes to comic continuity. It is widely acknowledged by the people who acknowledge such things that keeping up with the X-Men continuity these days is like nailing jell-o to a tree. That's probably why, when I read about Mr. Claremont's nostalgia sponging idea, I spontaneously squeed myself.

Ah, for the simpler times. 1991: an up and coming wunderkind artist by the name of Jim Lee is getting his showcase in a little relaunched baby title called simply X-Men with Chris Claremont the man who is responsible for some of the the most famous story arcs in the history of the X-Men franchise (Dark Pheonix Saga, Days of Future Past, God Loves, Man Kills) at the writing helm.
Then a few issues in, the wonder team wanders off, Jim Lee for his creator owned Wildstorm titles, Claremont for the wilds of other projects, and the downward spiral begins.

But now, in a stroke of mad-brilliance, Chris is picking up right where he left off, sadly, sans Lee (art is being done by Tom Gummet with a slightly third generation Kubert-esque style that's growing on me, even though I've never heard of the guy)

Now where, in the scope of crazy-straw continuity does that leave us?

Imagine if you will:

The team is still split into two, the Blue and Gold teams, lead by Cyclops and Storm (yay! Women in Leadership! Cyclops too cause he's a giant puss.) and most of the world still thinks they are dead! So much could be done with that!

Jean Grey, while still an emotional basket-case, is alive and not married to Scott! She has not yet settled firmly into her Pheonix persona, and has only died once. The potential is limitless.

The Beast is still semi-human looking; he does not at all resemble the mutant love child of Grover and Mufasa!

Storm is still a knife-fight-having-former-African-goddess-in-a-costume-that-isn't-awful-looking-badass! She isn't married to the Black Panther, (though I think that's kinda cool in a pandering sort of way.) and she is still suffering from the occasional psychotic violent claustrophobia induced episode that causes her to lay waste to shit for miles around. That's exciting!
ROGUE STILL HAS HER POWERS, they are out of control, she still can't be with her one true Cajun love machine, Gambit. Big hair and a southern-drawl, the way Rogue SHOULD be! Roll out the drama machine!

Wolverine!!! No bone claws, no memory of his past, still rockin' the tan and brown suit, still emo about Mariko and Jean Grey, still a furry little Canadian BADASS MOFO. The Wolverine that everyone I know loves and remembers.

Gambit: Still a Badass! (Though to be fair he never really stopped being a badass, but he's still a mysterious badass!)

I could go on, but as the laziness fairy reminds me, it would be super nerdy, obscure references and a waste of the readers time. This article goes into the exact state of the Marvel Universe in 1991 with a lot more depth than I have the patience to. (So read it!)

Chris Claremont is a great writer, whose strength lies in group and character stories, not to mention his extreme familiarity with the subject. I can't contain my excitement to read this, my first foray into the Marvel Universe since the late 90's that wasn't basic shelf browsing. If you are so inclined you should go pick up pretty much everything he's ever written cause chances are you'll enjoy it!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Alan Moore Hates Everything You Love

Against my best efforts--and don't listen to what Darcy says; she lies--I have apparently become the one who handles all of Alan Moore's craziness. Lucky me.

I had a couple of posts planned--a review of the new Prince of Persia game, book reviews, and maybe a thinky post on Dollhouse--but then I found out that Alan Moore did another interview, and his delicious bitter flavored crazy is like candy to me. Soul and tooth enamel destroying candy. And this means I get to share it all with you!

I'm picking and choosing my favorite questions and answers, and there is one in there that I'm convinced was meant just for me, but we'll get to that later, because I don't want to spoil it for anyone.
Word: You're very scathing on the state of today's superhero comics. Did you watch Heroes?
Moore: I was persuaded to watch it by people who said it nods to Watchmen but God, what a load of rubbish! It's a late-70s X-Men at best and full of terrible ideas and characters who've all been done to death. Beyond death. And the writing shows such contempt for the viewer. The climax, a man who is going to explode is carried off into the air by his brother... did anybody bother to compare the effects of a groundburst with an airburst nuclear explosion? I'll take the former over the latter, thanks. This is supposed to be the sort of thing that superhero stories are good at. I tell you, if we are ever threatened with a scenario like that in real life I hope the superheroes aren't American because we'll be sunk.
So does Alan Moore like anything? Although to be fair on this, Heroes does like to smack its viewers around, as seen by season two and the first half of season 3, and possibly the second half, although I'm holding out hope.

Moore says that this is supposed to be the sort of thing that superhero stories are good at, but what is he referring to? Avoiding nuclear explosion? General world saving? Be more specific, Alan Moore. Also, this is the second interview that I've seen where he blames America for everything. Dude, buddy, your books still sell over here, so maybe could you lighten up just a tad? Possibly tone down the bitterness just a smidgen? Or, you know, just go off on another crazy rant. That's good too, I guess.

Oh, and he ended his response to that question with this: This is why I don't work in movies or TV. It is almost physically impossible to tell a real story there. Well, that and you are a gigantic snob whose beard keeps eating the producers.

Word: Graphic novels like Watchmen, V For Vendetta and Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns were supposed to usher in a new era of comics for adults. What went wrong?
Moore: Ah yes, the new era of grown-up comics! That worked out, didn't it? There really should have been more to comics than 20 years of grim, nasty remakes of Watchmen. The comics world was very optimistic in the late 80s and maybe what we thought was the beginning was actually the high point......And the other side of the comics industry, the achingly trendy, avant garde books, they're mired in a teenage worldview too. All they provide are comfort eating comics about neuroses and the emptiness of modern life and fear of dying alone.
So Alan Moore really does hate everything, or at least everything that he hasn't written. What does Alan Moore consider to be a grown-up comics? Superhero comics were and still are considered to be aimed at children, and due to the long continuity and various freaking unnecessary company wide events, I can see understand Moore's argument that there are not any story lines with depth or lasting effects.
But the indy comics he's talking about, well, I have to disagree. Sure, I can see how his argument might apply to Blankets (and this where Darcy will yell at me), but there are some books, like Alcoholic and Funhouse, while working as a visual memoir, are explorations of family and self, and are much bigger than they appear.
And, hey, Alan Moore, I know that you've worked with those themes you cite up there, so are we including you on this list now?
Alan Moore had this to say about Battlestar Galactica: I have seen the first half of the final series of Battlestar Galactica. It's well done, but I'll reserve judgment until I've seen the final episodes, because it could, as with so many of these things, end up as a bit of a mess. ... I feel that the big problem with most of these programs is that people start off with the good beginnings of an idea. That is disastrous because that is enough to get a show commissioned. So you've got the beginnings of a good idea and if it's not brought to its conclusion properly, it won't be a good idea at all; it'll be a waste of everybody's time.

I'm a little surprised by this, because BSG is so dark and grim and unhappy that I though Alan Moore would use his warlock powers and immigrate to the show. I just like how bitter he is here: "that is disastrous because that is enough to get a show commissioned." Oh, Alan Moore, you hate everything connected with Hollywood, don't you? I think some of this might stem from the fact that his beard is not photogenic.

Moore: Frank Miller, I haven't been able to read him for some time. Have you seen his latest idea? It is - and I can hardly believe this - Batman vs Al Qaeda. What can you say to an idea as absurd as that? This is our response to the Iraq war? Miller's trapped in a teenage world of macho violence. Look at Sin City. Every woman is a bloodthirsty, semi-naked whore; every man is a indestructible killing machine. It's nasty, misogynist, Neanderthal Teenage, but it sells.

Oh, Alan Moore, you are a bitter, crazy, be-bearded mountain man after my own heart. And by that I mean please don't take my still beating heart for your collection.
I really want Frank Miller to respond to this because it would eventually escalate to a cage match between the two and then we'll see Alan Moore's beard release it's full rage on poor, hapless, INSANE Frank Miller and it will be awesome.
We have now reached the point where Alan Moore becomes a caricature of himself and I am totally vindicated:
WORD:You've now dedicated yourself to the practise and exploration of magic. Does it work? Do you use it to a purpose: "I curse you, DC Comics, for nicking V For Vendetta off me" and so on?
MOORE: Well if I had I wouldn't tell you, would I, ha ha! I do have a few personal rituals which I pursue from time to time and all I can say is, my personal wellbeing and belief system are in pretty good shape. I do have quite an old and rare book called The Grimoire Of The Spirit Of The Place which purports to be written by "an old sea captain" and details how you can summon up and capture the local spirit using a pig - although apparently if you have the book you don't need to kill the pig, which is good. I might give that a try soon; it fits with my interest in psychogeography and the locality of Northampton. I like my magic to be public. That way, if it's ridiculous, people know.

So when I said you were a warlock, Alan Moore, I was mostly joking, and yet you actually own grimoire written by a drunk old sea captain. Like John Hodges said on The Daily Show, it's emergency Christmas and this is my emergency Christmas present! Thanks, zombie Jesus!
I had to discuss this with Darcy and we both agree that Alan Moore is just a tiny step away from becoming a super villain. It's a good thing he doesn't actually accept any money from the movies they adapt from his work, because then he would buy an entire island fortress and a space laser and threaten the United Nations every other week.
Alan Moore will basically become Dr. Doom and start referring to himself in the third person: "Alan Moore demands that no one but Alan Moore writes comics. Alan Moore wants America to admit its a little bitch and to just give up. Alan Moore demands more pigs for Alan Moore's dark rituals. Alan Moore's beard thirst for the flesh of the innocent. Alan Moore demands the finest velvet hats are made especially for him."
It's only a matter of time before Alan Moore gets his hands on a thermo-nuclear weapon and holds the world hostage. Also, his beard will become more elaborate and wild until it covers his entire face and no human weapon can so much as dent its impenetrable hair.

I don't know about you folks, but I for one welcome our new bearded overlord.

Go here to see more of Alan Moore's interview.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I put in the first couple of ones to convince you I had good taste

A while ago Darcy posted a list about some of her guilty pleasures. Among those was the Twilight series and I mocked her mercilessly for it, because that's how I show love--through sheer, unrelenting mockery that slowly destroys the person of my affection's self-esteem. I figured I should give Darcy a chance to fight back, so I'm going to ramble about my favorite comfort books.
These books are the equivalent of a childhood blanket. They're the books that, despite their quality, I always pull out when I'm a pathetic pile of illness, which was fitting this week since I looked like a zombie if you managed to microwave it on high for five minutes. Yeah, I looked pretty.

The list of my comfort books start off with the not really embarrassing at all and ends with the books that probably should never have been written by human kind, much less be read by anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with the English language. And yet I love them, even though they destroy precious, precious brain cells.

First up we have America (The Book). Just like The Daily Show it manages to be hilarious while skewering politics. Since this book came out at the end of 2003, it's a little weird reading those correspondents who have long since moved on. There's Rob Cordry, gone, Ed Helms, gone, Stephen Colbert, now on his own show, and Samantha Bee, and Bee is the only one still around. Weird.
I feel I should add I Am America (And So Can You) to this, but first of all my sister took my copy when she moved because she is a horrible human being who I wish a pox on, and second of all Jon Stewart is totally my secret husband (so secret even he doesn't know!) and therefore will always be my favorite. America still makes me laugh, every time, or, in the case of the naked Supreme Court Justices, cringing in horror and misery, and thus cheers me out of my brain eating funk.

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Do I even need to say anything about this? It's Hitchhikers. It's 42 and the resteraunt at the end of the universe and Aurthur Dent and Ford Prefect and Zaphod and Trillian and Marvin and it's brilliant. I'm not going to talk about the movie, because parts of it made me happy (Alan Rickman as Marvin) and other parts made me super sad (Aurthur/Trillain romance. Really? Also, Zooey Deschnal as a not at all British Trillian. Ugh).
If there is a geek cannon, HGttG is most definitely on it. I own all five of the books, two copies of the hardcover collection (one was a gift and the other I picked up at a used bookstore and is an older copy and doesn't have Mostly Harmless in it). I read HGttG for the first time in my freshmen year of high school, the same year Adams died from a heart attack. I got my copies at a used bookstore, and they are torn and battered, and I ended up staying up almost all night when I started Hitchhikers because it was amazing and I couldn't just read a chapter before I went to bed. HGttG is funny and irreverent and still manages moments of poignancy, and every time I read it never ceases to delight.

In September the BBC announced that Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowler series, is set to write the sixth book titled And Another Thing, with the permission of Jane Belson, Adams' wife.

Adams himself said he always planned a sixth book,because fifth was an odd number to stop on, and because Mostly Harmless is pretty damn dark. Adams also started a third Dirk Gently book, and the first couple of chapters, the only ones he'd written before he died, are in Salmon of Doubt, and it's such a sad, depressing tease to know that's all we're going to get.

Now, I haven't read Colfer, so I can't comment on how good of a job he'll do. Colfer said there is a lot more pressure to get this right then with any of his own books, and I don't envy his position. Not only does Adams have a deceptively difficult tone and style to copy, but no matter how amazing and brilliant And Another Thing might be, Colfer is going to take a lot of crap from die hard fans, who won't be happy unless zombie Douglas Adams himself came back to write it (I would totally be okay with zombie Adams eating my brains if it meant I got another Hitchhikers book).

Also, this will be the only book that will have a title that isn't a callback to the first book. This is a signal that this isn't going to be an Adams book, but Colfer apparently wants to do right by the series, and if nothing else, it'll read like a tribute to Adams (hopefully a better tribue than Frank Miller's The Spirit movie was for Will Eisner. O FRANK MILLER NO).

The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett. I started reading the Discworld series the same year that I discovered Adams, so it was sort of like my geek coming out.

I love the Discworld novels and Pratchett (who has a rare form of Alzheimers because god hates geeks), and I can't explain why this is my favorite. It's not just Rincewind and the Luggage and the faculty of Unseen University, and the skewing of Australia and the cameo by Death (who might be my favorite of all Discworld character, even though Reaper Man is not my favorite Discworld novel), but I love this book so much. I read it at least once a year, and has gone everywhere with me, even to London where I got it signed by Terry Pratchett himself. He made fun of the "manky American" cover (as seen on the left) and the fact the spine is cracking and peeling, but Terry Pratchett signed my book. The emphasis is very much needed. Also, his voice was higher pitched than I thought it would be.

Beyond all the others, I think The Last Continent is very much my blanky in book form. I know what all the jokes are, about the god of evolution, and the people Rincewind will meet, and about the kangaroos and the why the platypus is (not why it is anything, just is), and it still delights me every time. If it were physically possible for me to cuddle all the characters in this book I would. I would also cuddle Terry Pratchett if it wouldn't end in me being arrested.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I got to go to a reading and signing by Neil Gaiman, which was as awesome as you think it would be, which has nothing to do with anything other than to mention that I didn't bring Good Omens with me and I missed an opportunity to have both Pratchett and Gaiman sign it, which is heartbreaking because they leave little jokes to each other.
Sandman is right behind Watchmen in graphic novels that geeks worship, and Coraline, while written for a younger audience, is just as brilliant, albeit in a different way. Coraline is subtly creepy, in that the creepy sneaks up on you and mugs you later, helped out a lot by Dave McKean's illustrations (oh god, the Other Mother gives me nightmares). It's written in a sparse, understated way that is pitch perfect. I sent a copy to my little sister, because, hey, everyone needs their first Gaiman induced nightmare at a young age.

Sweet dreams, Haley! I'll be in the next room, so try to keep your terrified screams down to a minimum.

And this is when I give up any pretense of having good taste. Darcy, pay attention. I'm giving you ammo for years to come.

The Nightrunner Series by Lynn Flewelling. So Flewelling is actually a good writer. The Bone Twin is an interesting book that deals with gender issues and political intrigue. Nightrunner, however, really does none of that. Okay, that's not entirely true. The first two books are linked together, and aren't bad. The third and the fourth have the thread of the war established in the first two books running through it, but then they go off the rails. In a really embarrassing way.

Nightrunner (and The Bone Twin is sort of prequel to the triology) is set in a fantasy world with warring countries and the Fae. Yes, the Fae, like magical elf faeries. I wish I was kidding. Seregil (prounoucned Ser-uh-gil), is a Fae who was banished for killing some dude and Alec, a half-fae, is taken in by Seregil and they hook up and become couple at the end of the second book.

Oh, it gets better. Flewelling says they are "talimenos," which I guess is the gay fae equivalent of a super special soul bond, and you see why this post is filed under "Don't Judge me?" If not here's a HINT:

Yes, this is the cover of the fourth book. I guess that's Seregil apparently waiting for Alec to fellate him.

The entire premise of the fourth book is that they're captured and kept as slaves and some alchemist forms a magical baby from Alec's blood, and it can heal people and bring them back to life and it is ridiculous. And yet I love it. It's sort of like eating an entire box of chocolates, and you hate yourself for it, but at the time it is delicious even if it will eventually kill you.
And if you think that was bad, well, you are really not prepared for The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop.
Karen Healey described it perfectly as "magical cock ring AU" and it's TRUE. There are actual cock rings and it defies description.

There are characters named Saetan and Lucivar and Daemon for no reason, and one has WINGS. Oh, and there are some Undead wandering around for some reason, and certain species, I guess, have these magical jewels, and the darker the jewels the more powerful you are. And the super special blonde witch queen has the blackiest jewels of them all!
And Daemon is supposed to be her promised one true love and can't get it up for anyone other woman, and did I mention he was a pleasure slave? Yeah, he was. Oh and he met the super special blonde witch queen as a child and had to wait until she got older, and I swear I am not making this up.

Oh, and there are magical talking animals with jewels. One of which is a unicorn. Yes, there is a magical talking unicorn.
There are times when I'm reading it and I feel embarrassed for Anne Bishop. I've actually had to put the book down and take deep breaths until I felt strong enough to go on. There are characters who literally hiss (who does that?) and they are always steepling fingers and Bishop reminds you that yarbah is blood wine EVERY TIME SHE MENTIONS IT, and there's all this drama and the super special magical blonde witch queen stops the sun rising and OMG BISHOP WHY.
So I think Bishop might be trying to be feminist, for a given value of "feminism," in that the women are supposed to be the leaders and queens and are super special and all the men love them and would protect them and die for them and blah blah blah, but it's not. It's just ridiculous, which is the only way I can really describe this.
Normally these would be the kind of books I would drop and run the hell away from and yet once you start reading you can't stop. I blew through all three rather long books in a single weekend. Sure, I felt like you do after eating an entire gross of potato chips, but it was addicting in the exact same way. I think the pages of the books may actually be laced for crack because there is no reason for me to enjoy those books. I mean, talking unicorns. Oy.

So there you have it, folks. Let the mocking begin.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Understanding Anime: For the Total Noob

- Air - (Props to Darkevo for an awesome image)

Since it is my job to attempt to report as much awesome from Japan as humanly possible, I feel the responsibility of explaining some things also falls onto my shoulders. The following is an explanation of Japanese animation, or Anime, for the total beginner:
First off: Anime is awesome. No matter what you have heard or thought about the crazy stereotypes surrounding anime, there is probably one out there that you would really enjoy. Anime (like film as a whole) spans all genres and styles. There are many varieties that appeal to different people, and sometimes you will like a genre that is slightly outside your normal film preferences. You should also note before reading the entirety of this post that I love anime...a lot... I've been watching since I was eight years old and it was the reason I learned about Japanese culture in high school. When I was an undergraduate in college I studied abroad in Tokyo and wrote my senior thesis in anthropology on cosplay culture (dressing up like anime, video game, and manga characters, among other pop culture icons). Just thought you should know that before you continued on...

The Japanese started making animated films in the early 1900's, shortly after cartoons from America started flowing in. Today it has grown into a huge market that is drawing almost 1/3 of its profits from international sales (primarily Australia, Canada, and the US). So what does all this fancy factoid-stuff mean? WELL, it means that there is a TON of Anime out there. It unfortunately also means there is a LOT OF CRAP and now you actually have to be careful about what you buy or you could end up with a series that is total, epic, failure. In my personal opinion the worst of these epic-fails are the ones designed with the American audience in mind. The more they attempt to cater to us, the more anime loses it's awesomely unique-Japanese flavour.

Some of the best aspects of Japanese animation are directly influenced by the cultural phenomenon at work in Japanese society today (and from the past as well). Since I got my degree in Anthropology I can back this up AT GREAT LENGTH but don't feel like making you read a book right now so if you're interested just drop me an email and I can talk your ear off for a day or two. For now I will just list some basic influences that I feel are neat.
1. Shinto Mythology or Buddhist Mythology: warriors, spirits, magic, and fun stuff that often also comes with a moral or message. Inuyasha, Air, Princess Mononoke (yay for cute little kodama forest spirits!), My Neighbor Totoro, etc... (if we're going to talk about anything that mentions religious mythology then the list is pages and pages long).
- Kodama from Mononoke -

2. Technology: especially when it goes wrong, betrays everyone, and tries to take over the world. Ghost in the Shell, Macross Plus, Gundam, etc.
3. Students and School: the Japanese have to attend A LOT of school throughout their lives and the pressure to succeed in a densely populated nation makes for some serious stress and drama (and some good comedies/parodies, too!).

Now, with all that out of the way, there are two basic categories that many followers attempt to separate series and movies into. These categories are Shonen and Shojou. Please keep in mind that these genres are not perfect, and of course there are many exceptions to them (and series that will never fit in either no matter how hard you try to make them).

Shonen is primarily intended for a male audience, but really in my opinion it's for the action seekers. It often has really intense action or sports related scenes; themes of honor, heroism, determination, and teamwork, and male protagonists who have to overcome some serious problem or save the world. Female characters in these series are almost always depicted with unrealistic, barbie-like, hourglass figures, and often wear skimpy outfits that barely hold in "the jiggle." The most popular examples of shonen are Dragon Ball Z (though I will admit to you I am not really a fan of the Dragon Ball series), Naruto, Bleach, Ichigo 100%, Full Metal Alchemist, Pokemon, One Piece, The Prince of Tennis, etc. etc. etc.

- Fullmetal Alchemist -

Shojo (or Shojou, depending on who you talk to) is primarily intended for female audiences, and admittedly not a whole lot of guys like shojou anime. They often focus on relationships, female protagonists who are hopelessly in love but can't seem to catch a break, and very beautiful men and women who glitter with shiny-ness. Sometimes the plot revolves around a gender-bending romance (and by this I mean some serious questioning of your definition of gender roles). Also, outfits in these series are designed for the fashionable-female eye. They are often extravagant and elaborate. Good Shojou examples include: Air, Fruits Basket, Fushigi Yuugi, Sailor Moon, Escaflowne , etc. etc. etc.

- Fushigi Yuugi -

Anime that don't fit one category...the following are anime that I HIGHLY recommend that don't really fit one category or the other. If you're new to anime these are a great place to start.

Cowboy Beebop: This series, I would argue, is responsible for making anime as popular as it is today in America. When it ran on adult swim it gained a massive following, and is one of the greatest series out there. The story is one of a futuristic, sci-fi, western with a splash of crazy and a seriously awesome soundtrack to boot(and if you love Firefly and Serenity I'd like you to seriously take a look at this anime because I think Joss Whedon might have been a Bebop fan).

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: Of all of Hiyao Miyazaki's films, this one is my favorite by leaps and bounds. It's a film about a planet that once had a huge war take place upon it (which is continually alluded to as a nuclear war) and now has a toxic jungle spread across it. The people who are left belong to either the Luddite village groups or the technology group that is attempting to regain weapons of the lost world and control the remaining habitable lands. The heroine of the story, Nausicaa, is absolutely amazing, and the ending of this film actually brought me to tears. Miyazaki is just that good at writing stories.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya: This series has it all: a time traveler, an alien, an esper, a girl who can control time and space by making wishes, a boy who has absolutely no idea what he is going to do with his life but continues to ride the insanity anyways. All I can say is every episode is different, and sometimes you forget what the point of all the madness is, but once you watch an episode I guarantee you'll be hooked into Haruhi's world.

Samurai Champloo: the story of two wandering swordsman in ancient Japan set to a hip hop soundtrack and containing some serious action sequences. The plot is deeper than it sounds and I was pleasantly surprised by how good this series really is.

Gundam Wing and Fullmetal Panic: both are mecha anime that kick some serious butt. Gundam Wing has an amazing political intrigue-based plot and Fullmetal Panic is about a soldier learning to be a typical high school student and protecting a girl named Kaname while still also being a soldier for the organization MYTHRIL. Both also contain some entertaining mecha technology and fight scenes, which make the series 9 levels of awesome.

Blood, Blood, and More Blood: If you just want anime to creep you out, confuse you, and/or altogether disturb the hell out of you, I recommend the following:
Akira: Yeah. It's disturbing, but it's also a masterpiece. Psychic beings who have too much power, a really fast motorcycle, and lots of death in post-nuclear, apocalyptic Tokyo. Go for it. I dare you.
Ninja Scroll: This one has some serious violence in it. Swords + Blood = Ninja Scroll.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: The ending to this series will make you say, "Wait, WHAT?"
Death Note: it's just...strange...but also entertaining. What do you think would happen if you could kill people by writing their names in a notebook?

So there you have it! All the basics for you to start watching some anime. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go think about what anime I'm going to write about next. I'm planning on letting you all in on some more obscure anime that I think deserves more attention. There will also be a post at some point about art styles; advanced themes and influences; and anime that contain things that seem copy-pasted from somewhere else (remember what I said about Top Gun and Macross Plus? Yeah, that).
Signing out for now though...

- Lady Lara Jones -

References for authentic fact-checking lovingly taken from: "Anime Essentials: Everything a Fan Needs to Know" by Gilles Poitras

Girls Love Capers Too!

I have some thoughts on Heroes. I meant to do this earlier this week, but between classes, homework, and the awesome AWP Conference being held in Chicago this year, I haven't gotten around to it until just now.

Like many geeks, I loved the first season. Besides some occasional ridiculously awful dialogue (which Darcy points out that since this is essentially comic book show you have to expect some comic-y dialogue), it had a strong season long arc, strong character arcs and characterization, and good acting (except from Milo Ventimiglia, who ACTS).

And there was season 2. Oh god, season 2. It brought us Hiro in Japan, Peter letting Caitlin be retconned in that dystopia future, Wes the creepy stalker, and the goddamn Wondertwins. Oh jesus, the Wondertwins. Although it did give us David Anders, which was one of the few bright spots.

But Tim Kring assured us he heard the complaints and was going to fix the show. His pants may have, in fact, been on fire when he said that. Volume Three: Villans had an interesting premise, such as exploring the gray area between good and evil, but it turned out to really be a volume of watching Sylar switch between eating brains and trying to be good about eighteen times, AND OMG SYLAR JUST PICK ONE. There was also Mohinder being retarded, the goddamn Wondertwin still hanging around, only the writers whored her up in addition to her being useless, Hiro became ten (which was adorable, but what was the point?), and at one low point there were two Milos on the screen where he tried to out act himself and I wanted to die. And then Nathan proved to have absolutely no will of his own and decided to pull an X-Men and have all the heroes imprisoned, which brings us to the next volume.

I've seen the first two episodes, and I have to say, it seems like this volume is getting back to what the first season was. We haven't had any voice overs by Mohinder, thank god, and that scene from the first episode where all the heroes were in orange jumpsuits, with hoods over their heads was striking and creepy, and very well done.
Although they haven't actually explained how Sylar survived being stabbed in the back of the head by Claire, he's back. Of course. This pains me to say because I really love Zachery Quinto and think he's an amazing actor, but we're back to his daddy issues? Again? Really? I am interested now that they've given him, as Darcy pointed out, his very own Dick Grayson. Hey, Heroes, if you put Luke into the scaly, green panties I am willing to forgive both volume two and three and for the existence of the Wondertwin. Seriously.
But then there was a scene in the last episode that filled me with, if not rage, a good deal of anger (I'm going to let Darcy take care of the happy making part of the show, because she does it better than me). It has Matt, Mohinder (who I like to refer to as Dr. McPeasantBlouses when's being stupid and pissing me off), Hiro, and Ando, standing around Matt's future drawings and deciding to start fighting back. And it was a good scene and I was all, "Yeah! Do it! Actually use your powers!" until I realized that were absolutely no female characters involved in this caper. And then I realized that this show had become, basically, a boys' club, and all the female characters were suddenly few and far between.

Look, I love Heroes (in an abusive kind of way), but it's never been without it's gender problems, but at least there were female characters getting decent amount of screen time, and at least they were relatively complex and not the sexy damsels in distress I usually have to put up with. Only at the end of this episode I realized that the show was down to essentially three female characters: Tracy, Claire, and Angela, and that's when the anger came in.

In the first season, Heroes had good diversity, especially compared to the rest of super white television, only as season 2 and volume three dragged on not only is that diversity starting to go, but so have the female characters (the majority which, Darcy pointed out, have been blonde. No! Bad Heroes! Not all women are blonde! Blonde is nto the epitome of sexiness! No cookie for you!).
Let's take a look at some of the female characters killed off or sidelined so far (I'm focusing on the major characters, because if I took on all the minor female characters as well, such as Eden, Charlie, and Caitlin, we'd be here all day and I do have actual schoolwork to do).

Nikki: Killed in a big explosion at the end of the pain inducing season 2. I can understand why the writers killed her off: she had become a one-note character due to her split personalities, but whose fault is that? Oh, yes, the writers. At the end of the first season it looked like she had managed to reintegrate Jessica back into her, but then season two revealed that nope! They are more personalities out there!
And that managed to piss off the viewers because, hey, we already had a complete season of that. There were other directions and ways the character could have grown, but nope! Let's stick with the one-note thing, because that works out well. Ugh.

Meredith: She bit it at the end of volume 3, supposedly a victim of her own power (but since she can't be burned by her own fire, she might have still been able to survive). Meredith was Claire's biological mother, and this season saw her given backstory and more chacterization and they killed her. I'm thinking it was nominally for "reducing the cast" to a more manageable level, but Meredith? Come on, she was awesome! Her relationship with not only Claire but with Noah and Sandra was complex and layered, and she would have been a great addition to this heroes on the run storyline.
You know who could be gotten rid of and not
affect anything? As much as it pains me to say this because of my love for Zachery Quinto, Sylar. Dear god, seriously, he was an interesting character the first season with the spin on the serial killer, but now he's back to being a crazy man with daddy issues that we've seen about thriteen different times at this point. Oh yes, that's so much more interesting than a complex woman with a layers and nuanced characterization and relationships, who still kicks so much ass. Thank god you fixed that, show.
Maya the Wondertwin: As you probably guess, I'm not fond of Maya. In fact, seeing her on the screen is guaranteed to draw out a "GODDAMNIT WONDERTWIN" from me. But I do want to make it clear that this complete and utter FUBAR mishandling of the character is the writers' faults.

Since the introduction, Maya had no agency. She couldn't control her emo black tears crying power, and it took her brother to stop it. (Side note: How the hell does Maya powers even work? Darcy thinks that it's some sort of virus thing, and her brother was the cure, but did that even come up on the show? I don't remember). So we have a female of color character who can't control her power and has to rely on her brother to keep her in check. Nice, show.

Look out! She's going to start singing My Chemical Romance!

She does eventually get it under control, but she still has no agency. She's manipulated by Sylar(but so was Dr. McPeasantBlouse and to a greater extent), and volume 3 saw her reduced to the passive love interest. Her only purpose, as far as I can tell, was to have her standing around being sexy with a vastly improved command of the English Language (which was interesting she spoke English and her brother didn't. I wish they explored Maya's obvious intelligence and drive instead of whoring her up), and to be sexually available to Dr. McPeasantBlouses as he was going all spider Jekyll and Hyde.
And then Maya, after being cocooned by Spiderhinder, was shuffled off to a place in New Jersey and we never see her again. To be fair, when Mohinder did try to apologize and all that jazz, Maya called him on his bullshit craziness and left him. So it looks like Maya may be out of the picture for good.
While this pleases me because, seriously, her character was annoying, I have to recognize that she could have been so much more. Instead of focusing on Maya's religion (she was shown to be deeply Catholic, a fact that was lost in the volume 3 black hole of suck), her determination, even in face of overhwhelming fear, instead we got a passive character, whose power was crying, who only served to be sexed up by a male character and then later abused by him to show how crazy he had gone. Yeah, Maya suffered from Women in Refrigerators syndrome, much as Nikki and Meredith did (I guess it really is a comic book show!).

Molly: Hey, were is Molly? Shuttled off to some place by Mohinder and never mentioned again. She had a brief cameo in that future episode, but has not been heard from since. What really bothers me about this is that Matt isn't concerned about her. Matt adopted her and he hasn't even thought to ask Mohinder where she might be? Or that maybe he should go get her? This poor girl has already lost two parents and now she's just been passed around.

I'm hoping that Molly will come back, especially in light of this new storyline, because how valuable will Molly the human tracker be to Nathan? Very. Actually, I would just be happy to see even a one line toss off from Mohinder or Matt being concerned about her, and it's a sad fact taht my expectations for this show is this low.
Monica: Another character from domestic abuser season 2. Unlike the Wondertwin, I didn't feel the need to reach through my television set and choke her. In fact, I quite liked Monica. Sure, in trying to be contemporary with Monica being a Hurricane Katrina survivor, it came off pretty stereotypical, and the handling of her character wasn't great, and, like with so many things, the writers could have done so much more with her, but she was determined, ambitious woman with some pretty damn awesome powers.

She's a muscle mimic, which means when she sees something she can immediately do it. How awesome is that? So awesome. There are so many possibilities to do with a power like that, but the writers are made of fail and didn't take advantage of that. Not surprising, since all of season 2 was made of fail.
Monica and Micah's relationship was sweet and interesting. She was obviously very fond of Micah, even bordeline maternal, and with the death of Nikki I would love to see that develop more. (Also, more grandma Uhura please.) Here there are so many possibilies with this new storyline, with both Micah and Monica on the run: the two of them depending on each other, Monica using her awesome powers to take down the soldiers, Micah just be the generally kickasss shit together kid he is. Seriously, wouldn't you love to see that? Well, you probably won't since both Micah and Monica have been shuffled off, because this show apparently forgot how to handle it's large cast.

This brings me to another point, which I'll try to not dwell on too long. This show, beside gender problems, has some race problems too. DL is dead, Micah and Monica are essentially dead, the Haitian's (why doesn't he have a name?) storyline with his borther was really about Nathan and Peter and their stupid, whiny problems, and NeoIsac the African Precog is now playing ghost Magical Black Man to Matt's Ineffective White Man. Well done, show.

Does he have a name? I guess he was too busy helping the white guy not die to mention what it is.

Elle: Another dead blonde. I liked Elle, mostly because Kristen Belle is an amazing actress. In season 2, which the show is trying to pretend never happened, la la la, Elle is portrayed as being a rather cheerful sociopath, who was made that way by her freaky father. And then volume 3 rolled around and, like everyone on the show, her character was all over the map.

They pulled some retconning and Elle helped make Sylar crazypants, but she didn't want to and shown to have a conscious, although in season 2 Elle was perfectly okay with killing people. She and Sylar ended hooking up because they had compatible Daddy Issues, and then Sylar killed her and she didn't fight back.
I know Kristen Belle wanted out of this show, and I can't blame her for that, but we've seen before that she was able to take Sylar down when he tried to slice her head open. This time it could be argued that since he has her power it wouldn't affect him, but she still could have tried to stop him instead of laying there and taking it. That goes against everything we've been shown about Elle.

Daphne: I like, Daphne, I do, even with her super comic book hair. I'm not too keen with her romance with Matt, but I like her character. I like how she loves her powers, her byplay with Hiro and Ando, and that she is trying to do the right thing.

The romance with Matt was rushed and weird. Matt saw the future, where he and Daphne were married with a kid, and immediately fell in love with her, I guess? I talked to Darcy about this, and she agrees that this doesn't make sense. Unless Matt somehow got future Matt's memories of their history together, why is he magically in love with her?

Daphne was weirded out by Matt, which I like because how else would you react to a man saying you were married with a baby in the future? And then she fell in love with Matt (and, okay, when he isn't annoying me, he is adorable), but it's not the age difference that bothers me but that in a lot of ways their relationship reads less of a romantic one between equals but more like a father chiding his teenage daughter (see their first scene in volume 4), and that is just icky.
What I like about Daphne is that she will use her powers and she will go into danger, and she'll do it with a snarky attitude. She even fought back against Papa Petrelli, even though she was terrified of him, she teamed up with Ando to rescue Hiro, she grabbed Ando and went into the danger zone to save Matt, she got Claire out of there, and we've seen her use her powers to save people, and what does she get for that? Shot in the back with little fanfare, ten seconds after I texted Darcy that I liked her. Like Meredith, I'm hoping Daphne isn't dead because she did die with little fanfare. I also want to point out that they killed one of the few remaining female characters in an episode they bring in a superflous male character (also, Sylar's sidekick couldn't be female? As Elle showed, girls have daddy issue too. Jesus, this show.)

Her death so far seems to be providing Matt with a reason to fight back. Oh, look, another women dying to give a man a reason to get his testosterone on. Fantastic. Hey, Heroes, you might want to buy another fridge; this one is getting full.

This leaves us with three prominent female characters left in the show: Claire with her magic Jesus blood will never die; Angela, who is just too hardcore to bite it; and Tracy, who has an offensive power but wasn't allowed to use it (and, yes, the soldiers had ice resistant cloth, but when Nathan had her dragged away in the last episode, she could have at least tried to resist).
Claire can't die, because she's the goddamn cheerleader, so it's down to Angela and Tracy, and if this show has taught me anything it's this: the women have to die so the men can save the world.

Hiro Worship (Warning: Heroes Spoilers-ish)

As a geeky girl, most of my energy that isn’t devoted to going to a job I only tolerate because it funds my comic book/dvd/video game habits, is expended in devotion. I am a loyal fan girl. When I love a show or a franchise of any kind, I love with my whole heart. When they put out bad shows or stupid movies it literally breaks my heart.

Heroes is just one of my various and sundry fandoms but I'm hooked on it pretty hard. Though, after two seasons of heartbreak; of idiotic characters and bad plot, you’d think a girl would know enough to move on and leave an emotionally damaging relationship before it’s too late. (The show loves me, really! You just don’t understand our relationship! It doesn’t want to hurt me, it’s my fault really my expectations are too high!)

I will allow Jayne to rant at length about the show’s flaws, she's better at it than I am. I'm here to love my show, in honor of V-day (which was yesterday, shut it I'm gimmicking). That narrows down to these two.
Hiro Nakamura and Ando Masahashi. Best friends. Magnificent bastards.
I wish I had the space and the time to rave about everything that I love about Hiro Nakamura alone. My ridiculous love for him isn't as irrational as Jayne's love of Gaeta from BSG (A super immature, pure, funny, nerdy little geek boy with a hero complex that loves waffles? I'm pretty much convinced in my sad little mind that we are made for each other. Plus he's not gay OR crazypants) He had me at "YATTA!"Season one begins, a bromance en medias res. After finally accepting that Hiro has indeed developed the abilty to stop time and teleport, Ando spent most of his time dancing around behind Hiro in a sort of "I don't know about this, Tommy." role. (And if you catch that reference I will send you cookies cause not only is it vague, but it's pretty damn obscure.) That was fine. Hiro needed his buddy to support his mission, to save the cheerleader, to save the world. Ando was the voice of reason for the (adorably) excitable Hiro. Keeping him grounded on his heroes quest. Even going so far as to trying to fulfill Hiro's role in the events of Kirby Plaza when it looks like Hiro himself wouldn't go. After the ungrateful selfish blond waste of space was rescued and th equally ungrateful world saved, however, the super-Hiro/sidekick dynamic started to wear on Ando, who was obviously not used to sitting in the sidecar of their friendship. Hiro himself seems slightly oblivious to his friend's issues, but he's so damn cute so I can't bring myself to care about Ando...yet.

Season 2 separated them for a time, and I was treated to sexy samurai Hiro, but there wasn't much of a change in their bromance. Ando's feeling of being left behind and his resentment of being powerless in the face of yet another attack on the world grew a bit, but season 2 was a waste of everyones time apparently because the producers of the show seem to want us all to forget it ever happened by retconning out everything that occurred.

Screw season 2, that's where the pain is.

Season 3 starts out so well! The bromance is threatened by yet another glimpse into a horrible future where Ando is a Sith Lord who kills Hiro for a piece of the stupid formula! Tension!
What could've happened to turn the loyal Ando against Hiro?

Later, Ando of course is feeling kind of pissy cause Hiro said he didn't need him and there is an adorable scene where Ando refuses to speak to Hiro while they're both trying to break out of Level 5. But they make up cause that's what besties do. Then, Hiro is still kinda freaked out about Ando killing him in the future so there is still that hanging in the air when Hiro has to stab Ando in the chest with his sword to infiltrate a group of villains. This little incident takes place between two episodes so there was a period of time, though brief, where Hiro had crossed a character line that he couldn't come back from. Many discussions with the people I watch this show with (including Jayne) reaffirmed that despite the evidence of other people acting wildly out of character that season, Hiro would never ever kill anyone, especially Ando. Thats part of the purity of the characters and their relationship. There was absolutly no doubt that Ando was alive and that it was a trick. (And if we'd been wrong I'm sure I would have been leading a militia of people as we stormed the NBC studios with incindiary devices) Ando himelf understands having to be stabbed with a sword, cause that's what besties do. Also Hiro has the foresight to freeze time and prepare Ando with ketchup packets.
Oh then the cuteness just skyrockets!

Hiro and Ando go to Africa and suddenly, out of NOWHERE, Ando is visited by the sexy fairy.

Africa looks good on Ando. Oh my god. My cuddle lust for Hiro is suddenly threatened by my glomp lust for Ando. Tension! Or maybe that's just me...

Then there's an entire episode where Hiro thinks he's 10 and Ando takes him out for waffles and I may or may not have stopped breathing from glee at some point while that was going on.

Anyway! Season three starts to circle the drain cause the writers lose focus and Papa-Petrelli's being a super D-Bag but no one's decisions make any sense within their character and the moral gray areas we were exploring are all starting to resemble skid marks and cool characters that everyone really likes are being picked off one by one as they outlive their one-note usefulness.

Then Ando gets super-powers, Hiro, a victim of superdickery via Papa Petrelli, loses them and the season ends. Meanwhile I'm limping emotionally and insisting to everyone that I walked into a door, honest, I did this to myself. But hope prevails.

This season the whole hero/sidekick dynamic changes for my favorite characters and I try not to flinch noticeably as the show opens its arms wide for me once again.
I will end on this adorable note, a sign that the show doesn't take itself too seriously and maybe the beatings will stop.As Jayne has stated, check out reviews on Television Without Pity for professional snarky recaps of this and many popular shows.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Well, it is Valentine's Day

Originally, I was going to do this long post talking about some of my favorite couples in comic books, and by that I mean actually canonical ones and the ones I made up in my head because it makes me giggle. But I spent all day in different panels at the AWP Conference (so, so awesome), and am now completely and utterly tired and lazy, which is probably a good thing for you because, let's face it, I make up some crazy shit (see everything I've said about Alan Moore ever).

Since it is Valentine's Day, I want to leave you with this lethal levels of cute drawing from Dwaryn Cook:

Things to love about this: Barda carrying Mr. Miracle bridal style; Mr. Miracle's pointed toes; his wobbly smitten smile and the flower; Big Barda's half-lidded sexin' up eyes; the heart; oh, I don't know, EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS. This is so adorable it can take down a man at twenty yards.

Here's hoping your Valentine's Day was as awesome as Big Barda and Mr. Miracle's! (Well, before DC killed her off because they hate happiness)

Friday, February 13, 2009

I Making You All My Accomplices In This

So yesterday I posted about my identical reactions to both Rorschach and the koala picture. In the comments, Danicus and Liz took the idea of Koala-shach and ran with it.

I then proceeded to hound Liz until she gave in and drew me this:

Because she is an awesome friend and she loves me and enables me! And no, you can't have her. She's my hetero lifepartner!

And so, dear readers, I propose to you a challenge. Envision your favorite Watchmen moments as if all the characters were horrible man-koala upright hybrids. Tell me about Dr. Koalahatten and how he built a giant flying euclaptyus tree on Mars! Or how Koala Spectre and Nite Koala totally beat up those baby koala punks! Let's not forget Koala Veidt's Australian paradise in Antarctica! Rewrite passages for the koala, or take a hint from Liz and doodle up some new character designs. C'mon, you know you wanna.

And, let's face it, it's only a matter of time before Alan Moore comes after us, wielding the thunderbolts he looted from Zeus' beard mauled corpse, so we might as well give him a reason to slake his thirst on our life essence!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I May Need An Intervention

I'm sure you've all figured out by now that I am super, ridiculously excited about the Watchmen movie (and you should probably brace yourself for a bombardment of Watchmen themed posts. Like a lot of them). There are two options for me about how this movie will turn out: 1) it'll be nothing but pure, orgasmic geek joy pumped into your veins via your eyeballs; or 2) it'll suck awfully and vindicate Alan Moore's bitterness and spite. Either way it's good news for me because it'll give me something to blog about.

One of the biggest draws about the movie, at least for me is going to be Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach. Okay, I admit it: I really, stupidly, irrationally love Rorschach. He is a tiny, crazy man in a trench coat who goes around accusing people of being homosexual and breaking fingers and just being crazy and I am weak. There are certain fictional types (which will probably turn into another blog post later) I have no resistance against and Rorschach is totally one of them (for other types, well, there's dead gay Ted). I love everyone in Watchmen, all the ambiguities and gray areas and complexity, but Rorschach is hands down my favorite.

So after a couple of months of talking at my friend about how awesome Rorschach is and about the sheer depth and complexity of the work and did I mention that Rorschach is a crazy badass, she gave in and bought a copy of it and immediately also fell in love with Rorschach, mainly because we share a brain. I only mention this because the blame for what is about to happen is rests solely on her.
For the past couple of weeks she sends me stills from the movie, which we have called Daily Rorschach Picture Happiness Time. Yesterday I got Rorschach and a bonus picture, and my reaction to both was exactly the same. That deserves the emphasis, as you can see:

My reactions were as follows: "Omg poor, little koala! So cute! Let me snuggle your pain away! Omg, poor Rorschach! Let me snuggle you until you feel better!"
Yes, exactly. Apparently I have now reduced crazy badass Rorschach to the level of a poor, dehydrated, adorable koala. Somewhere Alan Moore's beard is screaming in rage.
Look, I am all for having deep and thoughtful conversations about the importance of Watchmen, on the issues it raises, the handling of the characters, the sheer mind blowing awesomeness that is Alan Moore's writing, but at other times I just have to give in to my inner fangirl and let the bitch make high pitched "eeee!" noises about how Rorschach is adorable and I just want to cuddle him.
Don't you judge me because I know all of you out there has your own equivalent of the Rorschach-koala moment. Which you should tell me about in the comments. This is a judge free zone!

Zombies make everything better!

I already posted about the sudden onslaught of zombie hordes upon the world of classic my own mind.But wait! There's MORE! The people in charge of of decisions like these are already planning to make a movie about the Regency gore-tacular (Thank you dear and fluffy Lord, for creating circumstances that allow me to say the phrase Regency gore-tacular) and this piece explores 10 movies that would be greatly improved with the advent of hordes and hordes and HORDES of the undead. Read it, it's funny!
The linked article mostly explores some good movies with zombies in them, but I know there is more fun to be had in putting completly random zombie hordes in terrible movies. Awful ones, movies that until the zombies was previously unwatchable without lethal amounts of liquor being pumped by helpful friends directly into your bloodstream. And really, I find insterting zombies into most situations entertaining.

Babes in Toyland: I don't have a distinct memory of when I saw this movie, it probably fell under the liquor pumping category. Basic plot, the little girl version of Drew Barrymore hits her head and goes to place called Toyland where Keanu Reeves wants to marry the daughter of Mrs. Hubbard. A bad guy who lives in a bowling ball is trying to commit evil acts through real estate fraude, stealing Keanu's girl and SHUTTING DOWN THE COOKIE FACTORY!?(WTFBASTARD!?)
Enter zombies! They mow down the plushies-on-crack-esque denziens of Toyland including weirdly Asian Santa and the cookie hating asshole that lives in a bowling ball. Drew Barrymore is bitten (alas alack) and Keanu finds her devouring the innards of a giant toy soldier in her undead frenzy. As he prepares to dispatch her with a giant candy cane suddenly his zombified love interest pops out of the ruins of the cookie factory and tears him to shreds! I love happy endings!

Glitter: I haven't actually seen this movie, but I'm told it's the screaming infinity of awfulness. IMDB tells me it's a sorta-kinda-not-really-rising star story about Mariah Carey and i'm sure she's ultra whorey in it-moving on.
Enter zombies! the Nemesis from the second Resident Evil movie shows up moments after the credits are finished rolling and takes off Mariah Carey's head with one swipe, then slaughters merrily into the sunset (we only allow the credits to roll so that we know the names of the people to hold responsible) That's totally worth 10 bucks!

Howard the Duck: Duck tastes great! I'm almost jealous of the zombies who will kill and eat EVERYONE RESPONSIBLE for this movie! I'm looking at you George!

Battlefield Earth: Didn't see this movie either. Aliens invade the Earth...oops too late the zombies got there first! (ZOOOOMMBIEEESSS IIIIIIIIIIINN SSPPAAAAAAAACEE!!!!)

Catwoman: Halle Berry's RIDICULOUS SUPER PANDERING COSTUME (that was made of stupidity and greed woven into a fine cloth by Nicaraguan children using thier tears for thread!) is absolutly no protection against the hunger of the risen corpses of the fans of the character she murdered! MURDERED!

Batman & Robin: Zombies will have a little trouble getting through the rubber suits and some might be defeated by the giggles or spontaneous head-esploding when thier dead eyes gaze upon Bat-nipples. I however have faith that our undead heroes will carry the day. Arnold Schwarzenegger's girly screams for mercy will be one of the few things heard above my squeals of delighted laughter. The only instance I can think of that I would EVER wish harm upon the Batman.

I love comments! Leave some of your ideas for movies that would be greatly improved by the undead hordes down below!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This is What Brilliance Looks Like through the Lens of Insanity

I read comics. A lot of comics. Hell, one of the reasons Darcy recruited me (besides my ability to talk about Alan Moore in a non-slanderous manner) was my ability to discuss comics at great length (see my post about Frank Miller. Oh god, why so long?) in a hopefully snarky manner. So I've come across some pretty awful writing and art in comics (see everything Rob Liefeld has ever done ever and Anita Blake: Useless and Ineffectual Vampire Follower), but there comes a time when there is something so awful, so absolutely skin peeling, mind bending insane that it takes on a certain level of brilliance.

Chris at The ISB was so kind as to point it out, and it is this panel from Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #53 (this title redefines the term "brain stunningly stupid"). And it is this:

This is possibly the worse dialogue in the history of ever, and yet at the same time, it goes through complete and utter stupidity and comes out on the side of brilliance because, and I don't know about you, I could never come up with that in elevenity million years. Not even if my sole purpose of existence was to come up with the concept of haunted genitals, I would fail because your vagina is haunted? Really?

And then you think about it and it doesn't even make sense. If her vagina is haunted then how the hell is she supposed to get away from it? No place would be safe! Also, I hate this title for actually making me think about that.

This is unrelentingly stupid, but you have to respect it because you have to get out of here. Your vagina is haunted. Awe-freaking-some.

To read the entire hilarious recap, go here.

If you'll need me, I'll be over in the corner mourning for humanity, because your vagina is haunted.

The Top 10 Video Games of 2008 (In no particular order)

I'm going to put my top ten of 2008 in no particular order because it's hard to say which game was really better than the other. The games I'm going to list are all pretty good and I have to admit it's hard to really impress me these days when I feel like I've played every kind of game ever and nothing seems to challenge me anymore.

That being said, here are some awesome games of 2008.

*Left 4 Dead (360): A fantastic addition to the list of zombie games where you can blow up an incredible amount of zombies. The best feature in this game is the online play where you can team up with three others and take to the streets. Another cool thing about this thriller is that every time you play the game the items change location. I must admit the game itself is a little on the short side but does have some significant replay value and is a TON of fun with friends. Also, the fact that car alarms attract hordes of zombies is a nifty little addition that I think should become canon zombie fact.

*Super Smash Brothers Brawl (Wii): It makes the list because I feel it's the best in the series, although I admit to you I don't feel as though it's the greatest fighting game ever made (or that they're going to be able to do too much more with this series). Personally I prefer the Dead or Alive series for the realistic fight styles (and I try to ignore the ridiculous boob-physics) and Soul Calibur because I've been playing that series since Soul Edge and it doesn't seem to get old to me. Still, Super Smash Bros. is a fantastic time in a group. HOWEVER, if you want to unlock things by your self, prepare for a some serious suffering. It takes forever to get all the s*it in this game by yourself. If you ever get the chance to play against me watch out for my Pikachu antics. I love to make people hate that adorable little electric devil-spawn.

*I was going to put up Grand Theft Auto IV (because I have to admit, it is really quite well-designed), but those games are getting repetitive to me so instead I've decided to put up No More Heroes (Wii): It's got some cheaply-ripped qualities of Grand Theft Auto IV in that you run around in a silly motorcycle around a much less impressive city, BUT it's the first time on the Wii you can actually swing your sword at dudes and make them suffer, AND one of the only Mature titles on the Wii worth anything at all. Note to players: the coconut game will make you sad because there is only so fast you can waddle carrying coconuts in your arms. lols.

*Dead Space (360): What's better than zombies on the streets of your city? Zombies in space, of course! Shoot, shoot some more, and when everything on the screen is dead maybe you can breathe for five seconds, and "Oh crap, wait, there's more!!!" (As a side note: some of the achievements for Live on this game are pretty tough).

*Little Big Planet (PS3): you design your own content, there are limitless possibilities, and it is truly a game that has actually proven to me that we can still make new and innovative games(wait, did I really just admit that? Oh noes! Don't let the masses know!). You can create and play and design all at the same time and that makes this game so ultra cool and shiny that I want to buy a PS3 just so I can dump hours into this game (plus my next choice on the list).

*Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3): No, I don't care that you watch most of it. No, I don't care if the cinemas are longer than the game-play. This game is fricken amazing with a perfect ending to the Metal Gear series and I have never loved Snake more than I have in this game. Kojima is a genius and blu-ray is the only way to see this masterpiece played. I realize that this particular section seems incredibly biased but I don't care. Metal Gear Solid 4 = Epic Awesomeness. FYI: if you don't leave two hours of your time open to see the ending of this game you will be pissed at yourself as you sit through two hours of ending cinema. BELIEVE ME when I say that you will drop everything to watch this two hours of the game.

*Fable II (360): because I thought Fable I had soooo much potential and I'm soooo glad they decided to bring this back for a much more successful sequel. Fable II is not only what Fable I could have been, but they bring even a little bit more to the table with more innovative choices and character design, and some beautiful graphics to boot. The game can really suck you in even if you're not a hard-core RPG Player. What I like about Fable is that it appeals to a lot of different kinds of gamers without sucking...and yeah...that's hard to do.

*Rock Band 2 (360, Wii, PS3, PS2): many songs to download....
Let's just say I have sunk an unreasonable amount of hours trying to become leet-sauce at the drums for Rock Band 2. Also, if you are a die-hard Guitar Hero fan, I seriously suggest you give Rock Band 2 a try, because World Tour REALLY didn't cut it in comparison this time. Seriously. I mean it. The drums on World Tour make me want to scream out in anger and the down strum breaks on one in five guitars for world tour (plus that slide bar thing goes AWOL pretty quick too). (Darci and I have a band called "The Geisha Girls" and I have to say we are kicking achievement butt).

*Mirror's Edge (360): It's a beautifully landscaped game in which you get to be a parcour expert and deliver time-sensitive information in a future where we need "runners." It is a little too short in length, and sometimes the jumping puzzles make you want to throw your controller into a wall, but it is a really great game overall that reminds us that platformers still have more innovative ideas that haven't been fully explored.

*Fallout 3 (PS3, 360, PC): FINALLY IT'S HERE AND IT'S JUST AS AMAZING AS WE'D ALL HOPED IT WOULD BE! YAAAAAAAY! Seriously, if you like RPG's and post-apocalyptic realities, this is a MUST BUY. You can re-play the hell out of this game and there are so many possibilities it's staggering.

Games that you all want me to put up here but I won't (and here's why):

*Wii Fitness (Wii): It's going to lose it's appeal fast...just you wait. There are only so many things you can do with that scale-concept. I got bored with Wii Fitness in less than a day.

*World of Warcraft (PC): Wrath of the Litch King: It's nothing "technically new" and therefore it didn't meet my criteria. Also, I am resisting addiction to this game because I know that MMO's can suck me in and eat my soul. When that new Star Wars MMO comes out (with the KOTOR Engine) I must lock myself in a room and make Darci promise she won't let me out until they are all sold out of this game for a while.

*A bunch of Hand-Held titles (DS and PSP): I don't really play hand-helds. Sorry guys. My eyes hurt after only about 30 minutes of holding a DS in my hands and I don't think the PSP is going to make it much longer in our video game market. I will admit that I really wish I could play some of the RPG titles on the DS and PSP that haven't come out on other systems.