Jem and the Holograms

I am watching the first episode of “Jem and the Holograms.” This may be the most beautifully ridiculous cartoon of all time.

A “movie producer” with a hilarious mustache just told Jem he would “give a movie contract to the winner of this contest. And an added bonus, the winner will also get this beautiful mansion.” On queue, a sunglassed sidekick pulled an aerial photo of said mansion out of an envelope to show them.

What. The. Hell. The movie contract I can almost understand; after all, even Kelly Clarkson got to do “From Justin to Kelly” after winning American Idol. But are a bunch of boardroom suits sitting around one day trying to decide what to do with this random empty mansion they have laying around? “Hey, Steve; why don’t you take this picture of the mansion, have Charlie here carry it around in this envelope, and find some random girls to give the mansion to. But make sure you show them the picture so they know it’s legit.”

The mind… it boggles.

Hangover 2

Melissa and I went out yesterday for our first dinner-and-a-movie date in a long time. We went to see “The Hangover, Part 2,” which we’d been looking forward to for a long time since we so thoroughly love the first one. The first one was one of those movies we went into with basically no expectations – a “this looked OK from the commercials, and there’s nothing else playing that we really want to see so we’ll go see it” situation that ended up being a movie we bought on BluRay the day it came out and have watched multiple times. We just love it.

The second one didn’t remotely have that kind of appeal. It was a funny movie, but the bits of funny were spread out across a movie that overall wasn’t nearly as good as the first one. In many ways, it was basically the same movie in a different location, following the same formula of pitfalls happening to the same characters that similar things happened to in the first one. The cameos were the same (including the guy who ran the wedding chapel in the first movie, playing a completely different guy who was still basically the exact same character), a lot of the jokes were the same, several of the same lines were repeated by the same characters, etc.

It was worth seeing, for sure, but didn’t remotely have that “we’re going to watch this movie forever” feeling that the first one did.

Events of the Day for Thursday, May 26

We had an office lunch today as a going-away party  for Ross LaDue, the senior of our two graduate assistants in Athletic Media Relations. Ross has been our women’s hockey contact here for two years, and is leaving us to go take over as media relations director for women’s hockey at Wisconsin – yeah, the same Wisconsin that’s the defending national champion and hasn’t lost a game since November of 2010. We’ve been fortunate to have some exceptional guys come through the sports info office here; I started here about this time in 2001, and had a goal to build one of the best media relations operations in the country at our level. I like to think I succeeded; the success the office has had in placing people who have wanted to continue in the sports information profession into very good jobs, both under me and under the office’s current director, shows that a lot of people around the country think we’re doing something right, too. I couldn’t be prouder of Ross for the opportunity he’s earned for himself, or more proud of the guys running our office now who put him in position to succeed.

Oh, and in today’s installment of “The Internet is Awesome,” Mark Hamill is on Twitter now.

Posted on Twitter:

** Goshen College upsets students by playing… the national anthem. There really are people who will hate anything.
** Our esteemed federal government considered banning all air travel in and out of Texas as punishment for Texas attempting to stand up to the TSA.
** There was another article I read today about a SWAT team in Arizona who executed a no-knock warrant looking for pot and ended up putting 70 bullets into a former U.S. Marine while his 4-year-old daughter was asleep in another room. I didn’t link it because it disgusted me so much, and I haven’t bothered to try and track it down. It was horrible, and the cops will probably get away scott free because it’ll be determined that they “followed procedures” or something like that.
** Oh, by the way, there’s a “secret” Patriot Act. Of course there is.

Roy’s Comics and Games here in town didn’t get new stuff yesterday like they were supposed to; UPS hadn’t visited them by the time I stopped by over lunch today, either. Bummer. I’ve been looking forward to reading Godzilla #3; I’ll swing by tomorrow. This week’s pull list:
** Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine #6
** Cobra Civil War: Cobra #1
** FF #4
** Fear Itself #3
** Super Dinosaur #2
** Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #3

Middle of a busy week

Halfway done with what has been a busy week so far. Catching up:

  • Sunday, Mel accompanied at church and gave me a call while she was driving in; she said I should go check out a road couch that some college kids had put out in their yard. It was a two-piece light blue sectional; it’s obviously old and pretty beat up, but it seemed somewhat salvageable so I took it. Thirty-some screws, some thread to repair the most egregious rips in the upholstery and some cleaning later, we’ve got a new basement couch, and we’ve got maybe four bucks invested in it. Still have some work to do on the cushions, and it just has to have a slipcover, but hey – not too bad for a street couch.
  • I found another briefcase at a yard sale today that’s exactly like the one I picked up at the church sale a few weeks ago for a dollar; so I bought it. It still had both latches, where the one I bought before had one missing, but it still worked just fine. So I moved my colored pencils into the new one; now I have a second one that I’ll make into a marker case.
  • Tonight I had a date with Millie! Helen and Mel went to Trek for awards night; we all were there at the start, but Millie was getting tired of being in her stroller so I left with her. I took her out to dinner and we had wings and pizza rolls. It was awesome. I don’t get a chance to do date night with the baby very often.
  • Comic book store didn’t get new stuff today like they were supposed to. My Godzilla fix is delayed!
  • Back to “Austin Powers in Goldmember” on Netflix… I had forgotten how completely stupid the opening few minutes of this movie are, and also how awesome Kevin Spacey is as Dr. Evil.

Review: “Cobra Civil War: Cobra” #1

I posted a new comic book review over at The Terrordrome this morning; “Cobra Civil War: Cobra” #1 is in comic shops across this fine land tomorrow, May 25. I’ve forgotten to repost the last two of these that I’ve done for The ‘Drome here, but I’ll start making a point to get them up here the same day I post them over there.

Cobra Civil War: Cobra #1
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Cover price: $3.99

Cover A, B & C: Zach Howard with colors by Nelson Daniel
Cover RI: Antonio Fuso

Written by: Mike Costa
Art: Antonio Fuso
Colors: Arianna Florian
Letters: Chris Mowry

With Cobra #1, Mike Costa has delivered readers with what could well be one of the best Baroness stories to ever show up in a comic. In the first season of IDW’s universe, the Baroness was portrayed as somewhat of a screwup; coming close but somehow not quite able to deliver to Cobra the things she promised, and always in need of some manner of last-second reprieve to retain her standing with Cobra. Here, Costa gives us a look at a complex, determined character who will use sex, intelligence, ruthlessness and good old-fashioned schoolyard insults to get what she wants. This Baroness is brilliant, freaky and straight-up gangster.

In doing so, he seems to be the first writer to really take advantage of the loosened boundaries present in G.I. Joe universe IDW is constructing. Sure, characters are different from how they’ve been portrayed in the past; there are plenty of examples of that so far in IDW’s universe. But for the first time, it seems as if a character has not only changed, but matured. This is Baroness as we suspected she was all along; we’ve just never been allowed to see it. As a result, Costa’s Baroness not only feels like the “correct” version, but a version that would have been completely impossible to fully develop in the Marvel or cartoon G.I. Joe universes. Never in a hundred million years would you have seen Baroness working her way into a foursome with a drug dealer and a couple of hookers in order to get past his bodyguards so she could safely shoot his brains through the back of his skull. It’s not dirty or salacious; the situation she’s in is completely clear, but it’s also just as obvious that she’s only done this to complete the job.

This is the Baroness that has always lurked just beneath the surface of the other iterations of the character; Costa’s been given a chance to finally bring her to light, and it’s brilliant.

This evolutionary leap in the Baroness character is necessary in order for her to remain a viable candidate in the Cobra Commander contest. She’s resigned to a belief that not only will she not win the contest, but that she’ll not be allowed to win by the Cobra Council. On the way to whatever end awaits her, though, she intends to make things as miserable as possible for the other eight candidates; selling that with the weaker Baroness from earlier in the series would’ve been far more difficult.

Baroness quickly learns that any successes she’s able to muster during the contest are going to occur solely due to her own force of will; she’ll be getting no support from Cobra. As the nine candidates get divided out into sub-groups to allow the series’ writers to develop subplots, it seems as if Baroness will be pitted directly against Serpentor and Major Bludd. Her hatred for Bludd is apparent throughout the issue, as she clearly still harbors plenty of resentment towards him for allowing Destro to work him over during Season 1’s Section Ten prison break fiasco. She has an equal dislike for Serpentor, but one based fully in disrespect for his activities and his role in Cobra as she sees it, rather than raw hatred. It’s an interesting dynamic, and one Costa will hopefully develop further as the Cobra Civil War progresses.

Serpentor’s unique position as leader of The Coil also comes into play in a big way in this issue, as his chosen path through the contest is laid out with a shocking cliffhanger. Apparently not officially a candidate, Serpentor makes it clear that whomever wins his favor will have an inside track to winning the contest. It makes perfect sense that such a situation would occur, given the Coil’s reach, and the situation Serpentor has orchestrated would definitely seem to put him in an early position to inflict some serious damage on the Joes.

Most importantly, however, there’s finally a palpable sense that there may well be more to this contest than simply “get out there and kill.” We still know essentially nothing about the Council, and the reader surely shares Baroness’s uneasiness when she’s told to ignore the day-to-day operations of Cobra to focus on the contest. The contest now feels like a misdirection, which suddenly makes it exponentially more interesting.

ART
Having Antonio Fuso back on art duties for Cobra is a treat. His style has been a perfect fit from the start, and colorist Arianna Florian, who also handled colors for the zero-issue Cobra story, carries the series’ trademark muted color palette well. She switches from oranges to greens to blues to reds help sell the location changes, and the sickly greens used for the Cobra interior locations are almost nauseous.

COVERS
Zach Howard’s nine-cover extravaganza ends with Cobra #1, and as with G.I. Joe and Snake-Eyes, Cobra also features a centerfold poster of the retailer-incentive cover, drawn by Fuso. As a group this is probably the weakest three-pack of candidate covers, even though the Tomax cover is among the best of the nine – a simple composition of Tomax admiring his own reflection in the bullet-shattered faceplate of the former Cobra Commander.

BODY COUNT
G.I. Joe: 0 (TOTAL: 17)
Cobra: 1 (a Viper) (TOTAL: Technically 4, but I can see IDW not putting him on the scoreboard. So, 3)
Random other folks: at least 3 “on screen” deaths; total body count likely at least five.

Back!

Well, I’ve been blowing this thing off for awhile… Sheesh.

Today has been a great day. I had lunch with Mike Morgan, a professor in the English department here at BSU; we’ve been following each other on Twitter for the better part of a year and have traded numerous messages back and forth there, but today was my first chance to meet up with him in person. Really had fun meeting and talking with him.

Just beforehand, I managed to stop by the house in perfect time to intercept the mailman and get my new Hause of Howe blazer that I won on eBay last weekend; I got such a great deal on it that I basically stole it, and now my Howe collection is up to three pieces. Clothing has always been just something that I wore; I’m getting to the point that I want it to be something I love, and I absolutely love the Howe stuff I have. Now I just need some better shoes and a couple of new belts… Gogo Gilt!

Helen had her third piano recital tonight; Mel bought new dresses for  her and for Millie last night, and they both looked fantastic. Helen rocked her recital; she really is doing a great job with the piano. Super proud of her. Millie was amazingly cute and fun, and afterward we had overpriced, average food at Country Kitchen because that’s where Helen wanted to eat. Good night had by all.

Today’s Twitter links:
2011 AP stylebook adds social media terms PRDaily
Florida State University sells hiring approval for faculty to an outside company in exchange for phat cash St. Petersburg Times

Conversations with a 6-year-old

Today, while waiting for a doctor at the clinic:

Helen: “I am tough.”
Me: “Of course you are. How tough are you?”
Helen: “I can hold two milk jugs at the same time.”
Me: “Holy cow; that’s super-strong. You’re probably the strongest six-year-old in all of Bemidji.”
Helen: “I can also hold 10 folders at once.”
Me: “Do you think you could hold 10 folders and two milk jugs all at the same time?”
Helen: “Of course. Because I have these.”

She then flexed her right arm and pointed to her bicep.

bin Laden’s death, the day after

Melissa and I heard the call to turn on the television for a major announcement last night from, of all places, “World of Warcraft.” She was playing on the couch, and I had the television tied up with a Playstation game when people in her guild started talking about the President making a surprise announcement to the country in 10 minutes’ time. I took a few minutes to switch over and find CNN, and managed to start following when Wolf Blitzer and the rest of the talking heads were still trying to determine what, exactly, in the hell was going on.

Once it became clear what was going to be announced, I paid just as much attention – if not more – to my rapidly-changing streams of status updates on Twitter and Facebook, especially once CNN hit the “we have nothing new to say, so we’re going to talk to fill time” wall around 15 minutes after President Obama was originally announced to be addressing the country.

I threw a lot of jokes around in the living room with Melissa as we were watching CNN’s coverage of what was happening, and shared with her some of the stuff that was showing up online. But I didn’t really feel the need to contribute anything to the Internet snark that was going around. There were the jokes you could’ve predicted right away – @GhostOsama and @OsamainHell sprang up on Twitter almost immediately (neither of which are actually very funny), references to Galafinaki in “The Hangover,” etc., and some of it was genuinely clever and funny. I just felt more comfortable consuming than I did in contributing.

It also didn’t seem worthwhile to respond to the few people who posted about being disgusted by the celebration of the death of a human being; those sentiments, while appropriate at face value and in general terms, hold no validity in a situation like this, where the man whose death was being celebrated would have preferred to slay the person who was concerned about his humanity and display his or her head on a pike, just for fun, rather than speak to them. Yes, he was a person and he had a family and he had feeling and all of that. He also desperately wanted to see you, personally, and all of your friends and family dead in the street. So does it seem weird to be celebrating the fact that we killed somebody? Sure, I’ll grant you that. Is it inherently bad? In this case, you’d have a tough time convincing me of that.

The most enjoyable thing about all of this has been reading about the SEAL team that pulled this off. Having been raised on Army bases until I was in high school, I grew up with the military just being a part of life. We crawled around on tanks when they’d bring them to show off at school or other public events on the bases, we’d go down ziplines after being strapped into harnesses by Army Rangers, and once we even watched my dad help shoot down drones with a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile. I’m fascinated by the type of people it takes to engage in an operation like that; going in on helicopters in the dead of night, as much at risk to the Pakistani air force finding them out and shooting them down, either on the way in or the way out, as they were to whatever mostly unknown forces were stashed behind the 18-foot concrete walls of bin Laden’s bunker. For them to get in, achieve their mission and get out without losing anyone on their team is remarkable and astonishing. It’s action-movie fiction come to life. Years down the road when the details of the operation are declassified and the men who took part are allowed to talk about what they did yesterday, the stories will be amazing.

It’s been a very interesting day to be an American, that’s for certain. And it’ll be equally interesting to see how the world reacts.