The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Archive for January, 2010

Posted by Matt on January 31, 2010

In slightly more than a week, I take a train for the first time in my life on a trip across the northeastern United States and to Montreal. Quite exciting, this vacation magic.

I will soon have to add Nestle to my enemies list soon, unless my news article about their concerned letter to the university is safe and non-inflammatory (I don’t think it’s inflammatory, but they might not have wanted to have the thing discussed publicly at all. Well, the administration gave me the letter in their meeting minutes package, and I have never been in trouble for printing what they gave me in there.) These are the journalistic issues I face every time I actually decide to do whatever small-effort reporting I can instead of just copy-pasting CBC stories.

I mean, we’ve barely had any complaints. We had to correct some minor things in an article or two, but that was months ago. We only recently got a complaint from someone who thought a stupid comedy piece we printed was offensive to the obese. We’re been pretty clean so far, I guess. Maybe further editions of my new Weekend Web-rip-off articles will get us some complaints.

Why am I so obsessed with complaints? For one, we are a student newspaper. If we can’t be rebellious pranksters, then who can be?

Second, The Quill has had a history of insanity. From the paper being shut down and printed independently for a few months, to the former President of the university refusing to talk to them because they printed an ill-advised statement he made to them about campus security, our paper has been involved with tons of shit. And, I don’t know, I feel responsible for keeping the tradition going.

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Posted by Matt on January 25, 2010

Sigh. I’m the type who hears that something big is going to be posted somewhere, and will stupidly wait all night while tapping F5 until I get it. If only there was a better way.

Anyway, this is an interesting post.

One of the reasons that, if I were to write comics, I would never want to go to one of the big publishers is because more often than not, you’d be a work-for-hire schlub who could create a thousand good ideas but not have any claim to any of them (seriously, very few comics creators, with the exception of those who get the law involved like Stan Lee, Siegel & Schuster, etc., even get minor credit for creating even integral parts of a series.). This probably isn’t an issue for someone who just wants a chance to make stories for their childhood heroes, but as someone who wants to take pride in his handiwork, that’s just not the path for me.

The situation in the link is even worse. Not only do you sell your work, you sell your work and don’t even make any proper money for it.

So, listen to the blogger folks: look around for good contracts, and don’t take slavery deals just to feel like a professional.

Posted in Comix, Writin' & Other Creativity | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Posted by Matt on January 24, 2010

Been feeling a bit sick lately. It seems to be passing, though.

You know, I still have that collection of TVTropes I was going to post about. Let me finish it, and then I will.

That is all.

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DO NOT READ

Posted by Matt on January 21, 2010

Let’s talk character selections in upcoming games, shall we?
Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by Matt on January 21, 2010

I’m baaaaaack.

The trip was interesting. Don’t know how much I participated in the things the conference was about (I went to a few of the presentations, and had to sit through the last half of the big final meeting where the press group’s constitution was amended. I essentially voted yes on everything, not giving a damn. Not that most of that was all that important, nor would my vote have swayed the decision either way). I heard some interesting things, though, and met some of the staff of other newspapers, who were fun to talk to and hang out with.

Edmonton is a pretty great place, and it was made better by the unusually warm weather. We didn’t do much while there, but I did drive through the city center (seeing the variety of local stores, clubs, architecture, etc.) We went to some comic stores, too. I’d never been to the really big nerd clubhouses that I’ve read about on the various comics blogs, and these met all the expectations that I had set for them. Big, with a huge variety of comics and trades, filled with unusual merchandise and old action figures. I now understand the glory and the awfulness of them. More of the former, though, but only because I had never been there before, I’m sure. Got some books I wanted (including one of the annoyingly unavailable X-Force/X-Statix trades), so the trips were overall very profitable.

Of course, there was the prerequisite trip to the West Edmonton Mall, which is every bit as large, glorious, and scary as I seen. To sound completely confusing, it both felt larger and smaller than I imagined. I mean, it’s really huge, and filled with many a thing. We traversed it in a few hours, although we didn’t see absolutely everything. We did, however, see lemurs, who lived in a habitat not far from the aquarium and Columbus ship recreation. That was completely unexpected, and amusing. Lemurs!

It was good to see the thing from the inside finally, after 10 years. Now I will have a bit more experience with it to help some of my ideas (one of which involves the mall, or a reasonable facsimile).

So yes, I had fun going out of town, aside from the long, claustrophobic car trip.

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Watched all of the first season of Mighty Boosh now. It isn’t quite as consistently good as the next two series, as it was still finding its footing and doesn’t have all the main cast developed (Bollo was only a bit player), and some of the stuff in it felt like half-baked versions of what would later be developed. But the comedy is still there, and many of the episodes are pretty great, and it has characters sadly absent from later series (Bob Fossil, who does make a comeback in series 3, and Matt Berry as Dixon Brainbridge, a truly great villain/asshole). My favorite episode is probably ‘Jungle’ (which features another one of Rich Fulcher’s insane characters who gave me probably the biggest laugh of all 8 episodes), although they are all pretty good, overall (especially in the last half).

It’s also probably the least frightening of all three series, although it’s strangeness is still in full-force. So if ‘Eels’ gives you nightmares, I can tell you there’s probably nothing here that will have the same effect (maybe ‘Charlie’).

Now I feel complete.

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A wrestling-loving friend of mine recently showed me Ring of Honor videos. As a promotion, I think it’s a pretty nice alternative to the big guns. It’s incredibly low-tech, and seems like an indie league with better lighting. But the wrestling is good, the wrestlers sell their gimmicks incredibly well, and Jim Cornette! So yeah, the examples I saw left me with good impressions on the whole thing.

Here’s the thing about wrestling: It’s carnival entertainment that often appeals to the lowest common denominator. But it can be fun, especially when you get some guys who create good cartoon personas for themselves and know how to keep a fake fight interesting. Basically, I see it in the same way I see kaiju movies: they are a silly good time that often appeals to the side of me that likes colourful characters beating up each other.

That said, most of modern wrestling is problematic. The WWE has no clue what it’s doing anymore, making dumb decision after dumb decision, wasting talent, having its flaws (including certain personalities being favoured over others for blatant and stupid reasoning) and now facing an avalanche of bad PR because of the ever-growing list of dead wrestlers. However, at least they show some sign of competence compared to the only real big budget rival in town, TNA, who have bought off many great people, have some promising performers, but who can’t do anything write. Wasting time with backstage story filler, including nonsensical gimmicks (even during non-gimmick matches), and having a large number of boring or confusingly short matches. It’s a train wreck, and even as someone who knows wrestling only from a peripheral view, I can tell that.

And that’s why ROH is kind of a breath of fresh air. It’s straight-up wrestling, and it gives the viewers what they want. It seems able to draw the most entertainment from this often bloated redneck industry.

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Posted by Matt on January 13, 2010

I’m going on a trip to Edmonton tomorrow, and will be there until next Tuesday. I might be taking my laptop, so I could always update from there. But just in case I don’t, see ya later losers!

Anyway, just for some late night indignity, look at this shit.

I mean, I make fun of this game a lot, because it seriously looks like the brain of a sugar-addled teenager from the 90s on a Todd McFarlane binge vomited onto God of War; but it really seemed like they were trying to distance themselves from the original text. Whether that is intentional or not is up to you. But here we are, with EA releasing its own edition of the classic with their laughable shit plastered on the cover. I wonder how many fans of the game will pick it up and feel gypped because it was entirely tit and finishing move-free.

With the game also getting an animated DVD tie-in (look at the fucking covers. I don’t know which is better: generic anime Dante in #1, generic gothic anime Dante #3, or Liefeldian Dante #5), EA is really trying to push this game as a big (multimedia *fingers crossed*) franchise, much like Dead Space. And also much like Dead Space, it’s the safest ‘new’ franchise possible, one that steals heartily from everything else and hasn’t an original idea in its thick skull.

Dead Space, however, had the courtesy to not call its audience a pack of retards.

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Posted by Matt on January 10, 2010

You know, as fun as writing scathing critiques of Internet nerd culture is, it has began to take a toll on my sanity. So no more trolling forums for news. If I don’t get certain vital information first, no big deal. I’m sure some aggregator blog will get them soon enough.

However, just before I came to this decision, I finally got what I’ve wanted for quite a while: people complaining that Street Fighter was getting too silly.

Street Fighter getting too silly.

I FUCKING LOVE IT, MAN.

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Posted by Matt on January 9, 2010

So, let me get this straight:

The storyline for the newest Marvel crossover is that, in a last-ditch effort to stay in power, the police state superheroes (who are really supervillains) manufacture a war…against the Norse gods. And they manipulate the media to get people on their side of the war…with the Norse gods.

This idea would be brilliant if I didn’t already know it will be free of irony and fun.

I really, really hope the bizarre murmurings that they are using this to integrate Marvelman into their universe are true, just so this will be the biggest clusterfuck it can be.

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Posted by Matt on January 7, 2010

School is underway, but for now nothing is particularly intense. So, I think it’s time to have some fun again.

After discovering this video, I became enamored with some of the characters of the Kinnikuman franchise (which I was aware of, but not particularly knowledgeable about). I mean, this is a franchise that has weird, cartoony characters as wrestlers, with delightfully simple concepts. In particular, the villains are hilariously insane.

Yes, these are the are the terrifying forces of darkness that plagued the superheroes of the Kinnikuman universe, often proving more than a match for any of them, with the standard last minute trickery or surge of power used to finally stop them. But as silly as they appear, you have to remember that the character design in the series seems to consist of taking any household object and turning it into a wrestler (which, really, when you’re writing something as goofy as this, seems to be an entirely practical way to approach this), so it could be entirely feasible that out of the object-people, these ones ended up being super-powered by Satan (that’s the actual backstory for them, by the way).

Let’s take a closer look at some of my favorites:

Maybe one of the lesser designs in terms of overall silliness, Sneagator still stands out for the bizarre combination of things he is. Not simply an alligator who wears sneakers, which is pretty neat, he is in fact an alligator wearing sneakers who is also a giant sneaker (thus, the laces). Aside from being an alligator and thus having all that entails, he also has the power to transform into anything that matches his leathery hide, primarily a giant dinosaur claw. There’s far more going on with this character than meets the eye!

Planetman is a man…made from planets. It’s sublime, don’t you think? He doesn’t have much in the way of extra fun details, except that he wears a mask, and that his head is really the mysterious planet Vulcan. He doesn’t really need that many extra things, though, because he is just a simple, fun concept. I mean, fuck, he’s made of planets!

This, my friends, is SteCasseKing, the warrior walkman. Like Planetman, his concept and design are just simple and fun, although SteCasseKing also has a classical toy robot aesthetic that gets him bonus points as well. For fighting techniques, his gimmick was that he had tapes that he could insert into himself to give him the signature moves of other wrestlers, being the requisite copycat. Using his headphone feet, he can also jump on opponents’ heads and pump loud music into their heads, making him even more deadly.

You don’t get much simpler than Springman, folks. He is a spring, and that’s that. But like Planetman and SteCasseKing, the simplicity works for him. The fact that he is also deadly, as can be seen in the picture, works for him to. Name me one other piece of fiction where a spring with arms and legs was a major antagonist? I don’t think you can. Probably for a reason, but Kinnikuman gets away with it.

Unfortunately, I was not able to find a picture of The Mountain or Junkman on a quick GIS, and I am not putting any more effort into this than I have to. But they are notable, so I’m going to talk about them anyway. So the next part will be sans images, but I’ll point out who they are in the group shot (if you can’t figure that out yourself).

The Mountain doesn’t even need ‘-man’ as a suffix, that’s how awesome he is. He is a literally a mountain, and is wearing a karate gi. Again, it’s such a simple idea, but it works incredibly well. Even compared to some of the other brilliant designs, he just might be my favorite, because he is A MOUNTAIN IN A KARATE GI WHO IS A WRESTLER. A wrestling mountain is something me and my ilk are not ingenious enough to design (the fact that many of these characters were often designed by children and sent to the comic’s author just shames us further.)

Junkman is simple, but simple than a different way than someone like Springman or The Mountain. His gimmick is that he has spiked blocks for hands, which defines his fighting style very clearly (hint: it involves the spiked blocks he has for hands). But you’re making up enemies for your character, that’s a reasonable goal for a design: Junkman looks deadly enough for the single battle he likely appeared in. His special power (aside from the obvious), apparently, is that he has a face on the back of his head. Details like that add to the overall quality.

There are other villainous characters worth note. I do like Sunshine (the big blocky guy, who is made of gold and is therefor malleable and can transform into landmarks to stomp on opponents; I like the Moai Head quality he has, too) and Ashuraman (the blue guy). But these ones stray a little bit further from the point I was trying to make with my favorites, in that I have a childish inclination towards the simple and silly. I spent most of my childhood, and now most of my adulthood, making up silly characters, and these are the kinds of examples of that type of idea that I look towards.

I’ve wasted plenty of time in a thorough manner, I would say.

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Posted by Matt on January 6, 2010

My god. I should have thought this essay through a bit more. This is basically the first one I won’t have done a week beforehand. In fact, I’ll have it done the day before it’s supposed to be in, hopefully.

But anyway, top ten songs in my iTunes that have animals in their title. Note: they all have to be different animals.

Joe the Lion – David Bowie
The Monkey’s Uncle – The Beach Boys
Jack-Ass – Beck
Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow – Brian Wilson
Baby Snakes – Frank Zappa
Jackie, Dressed in Cobras – New Pornographers
Monkey Gone to Heaven – Pixies
Packt like Sardines in a Crushed Tin Can – Radiohead
Virtue the Cat Explains Her Departure – Weakerthans
The Golden Eel – Ween

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