Happy Saturday!

What I’m Reading
I found the hardcover for IDW’s “G.I. Joe: Hearts and Minds” miniseries, written by  Max Brooks, for a buck on Amazon; it showed up mid-week this past week and I finished reading it yesterday. I had forgotten how amazing the Doc story was. The whole thing is very good, really, and even though the G.I. Joe half is overall much stronger than the Cobra half, the Doc story stands above them all.

I’m going to get deluged with new comics on Tuesday and Wednesday of this coming week; I’ll have a lot of fun stuff to put under the “what I’m reading” heading then.

What I’m Watching
Mel and I had date night tonight, and we went to see “Cabin in the Woods.”  If you’ve been at all tempted to see it, go. We thought it was absolutely fantastic. It’s a relatively straight-up horror movie wrapped around a very cool background concept, and the third act is an absolute bloodbath. If horror movies are your thing, this one is beyond worth your eight bucks.

Mel and I have been cramming in Season 7 of “Desperate Housewives” this week off Netflix; the Gabby-with-the-doll storyline was bad, and the Mary Alice voiceovers are really grating after awhile, especially when watching multiple episodes in succession. But overall it’s a decent season.

What I’m Writing
I finished the first of  my two final papers for grad school and submitted it today. The second one is due Wednesday; it’s sitting at just over 2,000 words right now and is maybe half done. I’m going to put a bunch of work into it tomorrow and I should get relatively close to having it done. I have to carve out an hour on Monday to take a final, but I’ll have some time Monday and Tuesday to polish it up. I’m not too worried.

Comic review: Snake Eyes #12 (Cobra Command)

Snake Eyes #12 (Cobra Command)
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Cover price: $3.99

Cover A: Robert Atkins, with colors by Simon Gough
Cover B: Andrew Griffith
Cover RI: Robert Atkins (uncolored variant of Cover A)

Written by: Chuck Dixon
Artist: Beni Lobel
Colors: Zac Atkinson
Letters: Neil Uyetake

For maybe just the second time in IDW’s G.I. Joe universe, we get a completely useless filler issue of one of the core books. G.I. Joe did it with the 13th issue in Season One, a one-shot telling a story about Beachhead and Tripwire escaping from a group of thugs by navigating through a Mayan pyramid. That was at least an entertaining story. Basically everything about Snake Eyes 12 is bad.

In terms of how the issue flows, it’s very similar to the Season One Hard Master stories; it’s a whole lot of the Hard Master sitting around and talking constantly about things the characters in the story already know. The monologues seem like they’re passing some vital information on to the other characters on the page, but really it’s just an information dump for the reader. It’s a bad storytelling device, because it becomes obvious pretty quickly that the characters aren’t talking to each other, but prattling on to the reader as a weak method for giving the back-story. There are so many more elegant ways to do this — see the first page of DC’s Animal Man #1 for a brilliant example of how to achieve the same thing in a way that doesn’t disrupt the book.

This issue pivots around a pretty ridiculous scene where Snake Eyes cuts open a peach as a grand metaphorical reveal to Hard Master of his reasoning for rejoining the Arashikage. Without giving it away, the scene assumes that a grocery store owner just has rotten fruit laying around on his dinner table; that the fruit is not only rotten but contains what Snake Eyes needs it to contain to pull off his little metaphor; that Snake Eyes can see through the peach to determine its contents before cutting it open; and that Hard Master is the greatest charades player of all time.

It’s a bad scene. Chuck Dixon has on several occasions gotten around the fact that Snake Eyes can’t speak by having him send text or instant messages to Scarlett. He can communicate, and we’ve seen it. While we have only seen him communicate in this way with Scarlett, it has not been inferred, directly or otherwise, that she was alone in her ability to communicate with him in that way. The only way a ridiculously contrived scene like this becomes necessary is if Snake Eyes has been shown to not only be mute, but completely uncommunicative through the entire series — which isn’t the case here.

If we are meant to believe Snake Eyes *only* communicates in that manner with Scarlett, and with no one else, that’s a detail we as readers need to have. If that is true, it adds an entirely new dimension to their relationship. It also is frustrating, as that would advance the Snake Eyes character by directly illustrating how his behavior and desire to communicate changes due to his relationship with Scarlett.

Instead, we see him as some cryptic lunatic who plays games with fruit instead of writing a note that says “Settle down and trust me.”

This scene is even worse when you realize that it’s the only reason this issue exists. The sole purpose of Snake Eyes 12 is for him to deliver that one message to Hard Master. However, there’s no indication of how Snake Eyes got from the jungles on Nanzhao to Brooklyn; no indication of why he needed to go in the first place (did Hard Master read on the Arashikage’s Tumblr that Snake Eyes had joined Storm Shadow? How would he have possibly known, necessitating the visit? The only other character in the entire Joe universe who we knew for sure is aware of this is Helix, and she’s gone all Obi-Wan Kenobi, “what I said is true, from a certain point of view.”); no explanation of why Storm Shadow would trust him to take a solo field trip halfway around the world immediately after rejoining the Arashikage — particularly when the end of the issue reveals that Storm Shadow knew where he was going… Somehow.

None of the events in this issue make any sense whatsoever; not on their own, and not as a part of the larger narrative of the fallout from the Cobra Command event.

To make matters worse, Dixon introduces a completely throwaway gang (albeit a gang with a pretty cool tag), a gang that we’ll probably never see again in this series, that exists solely so Snake Eyes has somebody to fight in this particular issue. He doesn’t fight Cobra. He doesn’t fight enemies of the Arashikage to solidify his renewed membership in the clan. Nothing advances his character or the storyline he’s on in any important manner. It’s just a group of thugs for him to punch.

Beni Lobel gets a solo art credit after having worked with Alex Cal on a few issues during the Cobra Command crossover. His work is stylistically very similar to Cal’s, but Lobel is not quite as proficient. Still, the art is solid. He does some of the same photo background tricks for texture that Cal did, but they’re not as intrusive, and his faces are a little more expressive. It seems unfair to compare him so directly to Cal, but the styles they’re using on this book are so similar that it seems clear IDW is using them to maintain continuity with the visual look and feel Cal established in Cobra Command. It works; if you weren’t paying attention to the book’s credits, you might not even realize that the book had changed artists.

Zac Atkinson handles colors for this issue; I’ll have to check, but I think this is his first work on G.I. Joe. He does a nice job, including some very subtle little things like purple bruises on Alondra’s face that you don’t notice until you really dig into the art.

Andrew Griffith’s Cover B is fantastic. It’s a typical cover for this series — Snake-Eyes in a menacing pose with sword drawn against a non-descript background, but the cover is well-composed on a strong diagonal, is well lit from behind Snake-Eyes, and the orange background allows the mostly-black Snake-Eyes figure to dominate the page. This is a really cool cover.

The duo of Robert Atkins and Simon Gough team up for Cover A, and it’s another very strong piece of work from them. In fact, these two getting to illustrate Snake-Eyes fighting the Bang Six is the only worthwhile thing about including the gang in this issue.

IDW is apparently taking some time off from their recent retailer-incentive covers; this issue’s incentive is simply an uncolored version of Atkins’ Cover A. This model was used on Snake Eyes during the first few issues, but since the fourth issue there has been a unique retailer incentive cover.

The Terrordrome has a preview of Snake Eyes #12 here.

Tuesday update

Took a day or so off from the blog; it was a busy weekend, and last night I spent all night doing a scintillatingly challenging (not really) graduate school assignment, and by the time I was done my brain was fried.

Our big news – we got robbed Saturday night. Somebody went into our garage, smashed the front passenger-side window out of Mel’s SUV, and stole her purse. Garage was unlocked; car was locked. We called the cops, could tell which direction the person went after s/he left the garage, but that’s about it. We had to do the whole cancel-credit-cards-and-get-new-driver’s-license thing for Mel; luckily, the checkbook wasn’t in her purse, and we basically don’t use cash, so mostly it was just an annoyance. The only significant loss was the actual purse; Mel came back from her trip to New York City with a shiny gunmetal Coach bag, which happened to be the bag that got stolen. Not even two months old; she’s pretty crushed about losing it.

As we were discussing the break-in on Sunday, she said something along the lines of “well, that’s what I get for buying something nice, I guess.” That upset me, the notion that finally getting to the point where we could buy something that she had wanted for years, something that’s just really nice and not really even extravagant or anything, somehow just makes us targets for thieves and we’re supposed to be OK with that. That’s total bullshit. We both have decent jobs, and we’re raising our kids and paying our bills on time and generally doing things the way it seems we’re supposed to be doing them in order to be a decent, productive family. The idea that taking an opportunity to enjoy some of that hard work means we should automatically expect someone to steal from us is disgusting.

What I’m Studying
Last night, I undertook the massive mental challenge of writing a… [drum roll] chapter outline as my assignment this week for graduate school. While these ridiculous assignments are, in fact, the only reason I’m bothering to pay a shred of attention to the textbook, to have mindless busywork in grad school is bothersome.

What I’m Buying
I finally made a relatively significant purchase with birthday loot; there are a crapton of comic books on their way to me from an Amazon warehouse somewhere. I bought the most-recent four volumes of the Invincible hardcover collections, which will bring me current on those; I picked up the hardcover trade for the first half-dozen issues of A Game of Thrones (I had meant to keep up with the singles, but fell behind around Thanksgiving and since the shop here doesn’t keep back issues in stock as a matter of practice I had no way to easily catch up); I got the second hardcover collection of Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca’s Invincible Iron-Man series; I picked up IDW’s prose G.I. Joe story collection, “Tales of the Cobra Wars,” and I also bought both of the Marv Wolfman/George Perez “The New Teen Titans” omnibuses collecting the Teen Titans stuff from the 1980s (that’s a series I followed quite a bit as a kid). It’s going to take some effort to make sure I find time to read all of that; the timing with summer coming up is perfect. I’m pumped.

Who I’m Supporting on Kickstarter
My last “me” purchase with birthday money will likely be throwing my meager financial weight behind a couple of projects on Kickstarter. I went in on the $40 signed copy/PDF/sketchbook level of support for “The Beast of Wolfe’s Bay,” written and illustrated by Erik Evensen who lives right here in Bemidji. I have met him a couple of times, and his wife works at BSU; cool dude, very talented illustrator. I hope he pulls this off; the concept for his book is pretty cool. I still need to get a copy of his first book…

I also threw some money behind Rachel Deering’s effort to publish the final five issues of her six-issue “Anathema” mini-series. I don’t know Rachel; I have ordered the first issue of Anathema from her but it hasn’t arrived yet, so I haven’t even directly experienced her work. So, this is a total departure from my first two Kickstarter backs, where I actually know the people trying to fund their projects. I’ve been following Rachel on Twitter for awhile (we’ve traded some messages back and forth even), and she’s really funny, very talented, and really passionate about what she does — and she’s made it perfectly clear that it’s a dream of hers to finish this project. I just think it’d be fun to see her succeed. If I get some comics I enjoy reading out of the deal, that’s just a kick-ass bonus.

Kickstarter is pretty much the coolest thing that I have seen on the Internet, maybe ever. It’s regular people empowering creative people to fulfill their dreams of doing amazing things by speaking directly with their wallets – “I believe in what you are trying to do, and I want to support your efforts to do it.” Amazing things are being funded there, and it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to say “I helped make that happen.” It’s a much different feeling than buying something off the shelf or getting a ticket to see a movie, even though the end result is ultimately the same. With Kickstarter, though, there’s a real sense that you’re helping support an actual person, rather than supporting a corporation that eventually pays its employees.

I’ve already kinda decided that if I ever win something like Mega Millions, a significant chunk of that money will be spent max-funding Kickstarter projects. 🙂

Fun rainy Saturday with the girls

What I’m Buying
I took the girls to the Sanford Center’s indoor garage sale today; it was pretty fun, and all three of us came away with some loots. I found 11 of what I now know is a 12-volume book set called “Drawings of the Masters” by Bartlett Hayes; two of the books I found were missing the slipcases, but otherwise they are in great shape. $15 for the pile; I thought it was a steal. I also came away with the 20th Anniversary edition of the Transformers animated movie, which has already been watched today; the first of four trade collections of DC’s 52 event from a few years ago; and a big handful of late-1990s era Star Wars figure out of a dime box. Helen came away with a boatload of Transformers and a nearly-complete Imaginext T-Rex Mountain for  a total of maybe $12; she also got a pile of stuff out of the same dime box I found the Star Wars toys in, and she made me buy her the novelization of the Spider Man 2 movie for some reason. She’s so awesome. Millie came away with a Beanie Baby kangaroo. Everybody scored.

What I’m Playing
Mel and I stared playing the open beta of Diablo III today;  the full game comes out on May 15, and the beta is a very brief look at the whole game. Mel and I beat the beta tonight, in fact; it only took us a few hours. I never got into either of the first two Diablo games, but I’ve got a feeling I’m going to play this one with Melissa quite a bit. It’s everything I like about playing this type of game – random loot drops from monsters, gear upgrades, crafting, etc. – without the thing I came to like the least about World of Warcraft (with a few notable exceptions) – other players. I’m glad Mel and I were able to clear the beta today, though; I could do without the distraction this week.

That’s the highlights; otherwise stayed inside to avoid the rain. Mel and I had a date planned for tonight, but our babysitting fell through in early afternoon so we had to pull the plug on that. We’ll try again next weekend.

Animals love us

This evening after dinner, Helen wanted to spend some time outside. About an hour later, a very excited little girl came in and demanded I go outside, because she had something very cool to show me. That cool thing? A very nice gray cat who looked like she hadn’t eaten in a very long time, and who had pretty mangy fur. We gave the cat a couple of cut-up hotdogs to eat, and she devoured them both. She’s been on the deck for hours now. We put out some tuna for her as well, and she just hangs out there. I feel bad for the cat, but it’s not really safe to bring it inside, and Mel’s allergic anyway; we’ll see how long it sticks around.

Last week, we had a yellow lab with no collar show up in the yard, also needing food. We fed the dog too, but it ran off and we haven’t seen it since.

It must’ve told the cat we have food.

What I’m Buying
My parents gave me a ton of cash for my birthday. I still havent’ done a whole lot with it – I’ve taken the family out to eat a couple of times, and the first thing I did with it was buy some toys for Helen. I’ve also bought both girls some books.  Helen’s surprise showed up today; she’s completely enamored with Activison’s Skylanders game, and ToysRUs.com restocked their exclusive three-pack of “legendary” figures. They also had a legendary single-pack in stock as well that’s exclusive to them, so I bought that for her too. By the time I paid tax and shipping it was a pretty expensive present, but she totally loves it. Worth every penny.

I still haven’t really bought anything for me yet; I won the first two seasons of True Blood on BluRay for $40 on eBay today, so that was pretty awesome. I’ve got a gimangous shopping cart going on Amazon, but haven’t hit the “ship” button yet. We’re going to a huge indoor garage sale tomorrow that will have around 190 sellers, and I’m kinda hoping there’s some fun junk there to buy. That’s going to be insane; I’m totally looking forward to it.

What I’m Writing
I  have been procrastinating on the final paper for each of my classes in graduate school this spring to historic levels. They’re both due next week; I haven’t been terribly worried about either of them. I started one today; for all intents and purposes, the second one hasn’t yet been started. I’ll get to it. But, I put almost 2,000 words into the first one today, just barely reaching into a sixth page. I wasn’t really sure how to start it, and I really wasn’t sure how I was going to finish it, so I just started writing. Once I hit about 1,400 words, I figured out where I was going with it. From here on out, it should be pretty easy. The second paper will be piece of cake; I’ll start it as soon as I get this one done.

My efforts to “just show up” here at andybartlett.com have been pretty successful this week; this is my fourth post in five days since Monday, which is better than I’ve done in awhile. Self high-five.

Back to writing for school. Adieu!

Wednesday update

Second night in a row Millie has been up until around 9… Not cool, baby. Not cool.

Soldiers Gone Wild
So, today this happened. U.S. soliders, posing in horrible, horrible photos; we’ve seen this before. The reaction nationally is exactly what you would predict. Investigations will take place, says some Senator. We are outraged, says a Congressman. These heinous actions of a few aren’t representative of the ideals of our military, says the Secretary of Defense. Blah, blah, blah says the White House.

Nobody should be apologizing for those soldiers in the photos. But nobody is apologizing for putting them into the situation where those photos are even possible, either. The photos these soldiers took are disgusting, but y’know what? They’re in a disgusting situation. I find it pretty difficult to fault them too much when we, as a country, have told them “here are some guns, grenade launchers and tanks. We’re going to fly you halfway around the world, and we’d like you to kill a few thousand people for us. But we’d also really appreciate it if you tried not to embarrass us while you’re doing all the killing.”

It’s incredibly easy to judge this kind of thing from the safety of my desk. But I don’t spend every second of my life knowing people are trying to kill me, and will probably succeed if my friends or I don’t find some way to kill them first.

The situation those people are in doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. At some point, the way they react to it isn’t going to make a whole lot of sense, either.

Hollywood math
Vampire + fairy = a baby that will kill every other baby in Hollywood. “I don’t love your blood, Sookie. I love you. And I love our half-vampire, half-fairy baby.”


Scheduling time to blog, and today’s update

So, today is going to be the first day of me trying to schedule my evenings, at least from Monday-Friday. For instance, tonight I’m going to write this blog post in a 30-minute window from 5:30-6:00. Then I’ll probably spend about an hour overseeing getting kids to bed. Then the plan is to work on school-related things until 9:30, and then spend an hour and a half drawing before bed. We shall see whether I pull that off. Step 1: Write seems to be off to an OK start.

What I’m Working On
Back in March, I opened an account on Pinterest for work. I have one of my own, but really don’t do a whole lot with it; less than three dozen pins, 15 things liked (and that’s all stuff I saw on my phone and thought “that might be fun to draw at some point”). I think from a consumer standpoint I get Pinterest; following a bajillion people who are interested in things you’re interested in, and then pinning and repinning the stuff you find from their boards and occasionally adding your own stuff to the fray. I don’t really have a handle on it yet from an account-curation standpoint at all; I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the possibilities. I think I have some good ideas floating around upstairs, I just need to solidify them and figure out a plan for managing the account.

Anyway, today saw the first-ever Bemidji State University photo pinned on Pinterest. It’s this photo of our new Glas Scholars House, which will be officially unveiled at an open house on the 24th. I included this photo with a news story announcing the open house, which you can read right here. There really isn’t much to the story; it’s the kind of thing that I would have thrown out into the world and not given much thought to. Today I paid attention. Part of my workflow when posting stories up on the Web is to use bit.ly to generate short links to the BSU Today story. I do this for a couple of reasons – it allows me to include a short URL that isn’t unruly or overwhelming in the PDF version of the news stories I distribute to the media, and it also allows me to do click-tracking on that short link. When I’m logged in, bit.ly will tell me how many times each of the short links I create have been clicked. So, if I generate a bit.ly link and then use that link in my release to the media and I also use it when I post the story to Twitter and Facebook, I can get a pretty good idea of how much traffic Facebook and Twitter are pushing to the story.

This number is usually depressingly low – a dozen or a dozen and a half clicks. Today, however, I advertised that there was a pinnable photo available with the story and announced that the photo was our Pinterest debut. As I write this, the story has been posted for a bit less than three hours. It has 89 clicks. I’ve done bit.ly click tracking on 91 stories so far this year, and the previous high for most clicks was 65. Only one other story has been higher than 50. Both of those stories were announcements of significant hires at the university.

I can’t come up with any reason other than “people saw you mention Pinterest” as to why people have flocked to this house dedication story. Needless to say, I’ll be doing a lot more monitoring of link-clicks and see if a pattern emerges of Pinterest-friendly stories generating measurably more traffic than stories without photos.

What’s interesting, though, is that the link for the actual photo on Pinterest has only been hit six times. So something is driving people to that story in unheard of numbers, but that traffic isn’t leading to visits to the one thing I can identify as a possible reason for the traffic spike.

There’s definitely a lot more to explore with Pinterest; after today’s experience, I really can’t wait to start doing more with it.

What I’m Watching
Nothing definitively. I spent a chunk of time catching up with last week’s sitcoms off the DVR. Last week’s Community, with Britta lusting for the carnie, was an absolutely genius half hour of television. That show is amazing.  I’ve sortof become derailed from my  massive Fringe kick; I was up to about four episodes a night as I was rushing to get through Season 1, but I hit a wall with it and haven’t watched much in the last two weeks. I’d like to pick that up again if I get the DVR caught up. So good, that show.

What I’m Reading
Still have a few chapters left on Clive Barker’s Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War, and I’ve poked around a bit on Amazon and looked to order the third volume. I have insane piles of birthday cash burning a hole in my pocket (thanks, parents!), and I’ll probably hold off on that until I decide on the massive volume of stuff I might as well have Amazon send me in the same box. It’s hard to narrow it down. I’m sorely tempted to do a “buy every IDW G.I. Joe trade paperback” sort of insane purchase, but I’ve also thought about buying some Copic markers (particularly the Black Ink Pro kit; that seems like it’d be a good place to start for an introduction to Copics), and I’ve also thought about being responsible and buying new clothes, which I really kinda want. But, I also thought about just being silly and spending a bunch of it on an H&K MP5 that’s for sale at a local sporting goods store. I really have no idea.

I also bought a copy of IDW’s G.I. Joe: Hearts and Minds hardcover from Amazon; it was one whole cent and four bucks for shipping. I couldn’t not buy it. That should be along shortly. I loved that series when I first read it – half-issue vignettes with an in-depth look at one member of G.I. Joe and one member of Cobra per issue, written by Max Brooks. I am very much looking forward to reading it again.

What I’m Studying
Goal for tonight: work on a written assignment I have due on Friday for Sport Facilities Management, and I also should start a “participate in a forum discussion” assignment for Sports Law & Ethics.  I tried to do some work on my final paper for Facilities last night, and it was a disaster. I took this Friday and next Friday off from work so I can hole up in a coffee shop somewhere and work on this stuff. Most of it is due a week from Sunday. I’m ready for this to be done for the spring; work is keeping me very busy, and is not going to slow down any time soon even with summer, and I need a break from coming home and having to put thought into school.

Well, that’s my half hour. Thirty-seven minutes, in fact! So, that’s all for tonight. I will schedule another half hour tomorrow and be back here; while I cannot guarantee the same Bart time, I can tell you I will be broadcasting via the same Bart channel.

Comic book preview: Cobra #12

Cobra #12 (Cobra Command)
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Cover price: $3.99

Cover A: Antonio Fuso, with colors by Arianna Florien
Cover B: David Williams, with colors by Kelsey Shannon
Cover RI: Antonio Fuso (uncolored Cover A)
Written by: Mike Costa
Art: Antonio Fuso
Colors: Arianna Florian
Letters: Neil Uyetake
This is Cobra at its absolute best. This is Mike Costa telling a story about two men connected forever by a mission, and how the ultimate success of that mission ended up affecting them both for the rest of their lives — one life far shorter than the other.
Chuckles died in the 13th and final issue of Cobra II, way back in early 2011. Fourteen months he’s been dead and gone, and somehow Costa manages to make this entire issue about him, about his story, about how he came to be, and how he came to pass. This is, essentially, a sitcom clip show that serves to wrap up the events of the entire first two Cobra series in a one-issue package.  But it’s done so in a way that fully develops Chuckles as a character, and also in a way that brings a lot of life to Gen. Hawk (depending on how you’d like to define “life”).
It’s difficult to adequately describe how much fun it is to read a self-contained comic book like this, and when it’s over after 22 pages come to the realization that Mike Costa just told an engrossing story that revolves around Hawk cleaning out his desk. There’s more to it than that, obviously; we get a look into Chuckles’ mindset as he was completing his mission, we learn about the type of leader — and the type of person — Hawk has to be in order to command a team like the Joes. It’s fascinating, on all fronts.
With Cobra 12, Mike Costa turns out the lights on the G.I. Joe team as it has been established so far in IDW’s universe. It also serves as a brilliant conclusion to the Cobra Command storyline, which has been without question the finest story arc in this iteration of G.I. Joe. From here the series should take us into the understaffed, underfunded version of the team — IDW’s version of “Renegades,” basically — that was announced in G.I. Joe 12.
Cobra 12 is Antonio Fuso as we’ve seen him so far throughout his entire run on Cobra, for the most part. The one brilliant exception is the two-thirds height double-wide spread on pages 17-18, “There’s going to be a lot more violence.” It’s simple enough in principle – a collage of the key players from the Cobra Command storyline to sell the notion that, despite Chuckles’ assassination of Cobra Commander, the war was just beginning. But the composition is beautiful; this is probably the coolest single image Fuso has done in Cobra so far — any issue. This really deserved to be a full two-page spread.
The Terrordrome has a preview of Cobra #12 here.

“Texts from Hillary” vs “Songs from ?uestlove”

Perhaps you’ve heard of this meme, “Texts from Hillary.” Yesterday, news spread like crazy that not only did Hillary Clinton know about the site and like it, she contributed to it. Just Google that; stories like this one from today’s Morning Edition on NPR, are everywhere.

This was a brilliant piece of image development work by Clinton’s staff. Brilliant. This shows how much good will and buzz can be had from having some fun with what otherwise could be seen as embarrassing or unwanted uses of your image. Clinton saw the humor in this and rather than hiding from it she decided to not only embrace it, but participate in it.

I was immediately reminded of how Michele Bachmann dealt with the situation she found herself in back in November when she was still in the race and made an appearance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” As usual with guests on a late-night show, Fallon’s band, The Roots, led by a dude named ?uestlove, played music as Bachmann walked out on stage. The song they played for her was Fishbone’s “Lyin’ Ass Bitch.” You can read the details in this Hollywood Reporter story.

This ambush gave Bachmann and her campaign a glorious opportunity to develop her image and to humanize her a little bit

Instead, Bachmann dealt with it by going on news-type shows and whining about how she was “a serious candidate for President of the United States” and how she was insulted and America should be insulted that she was treated the way she was. She came off looking like a completely humorless cyborg. It was ridiculous, and it’s probably not a huge surprise that her campaign didn’t last much longer after that incident.

For what it’s worth, had I been working with Bachmann, I would have told her to deal with that situation by going back on Fallon as soon as possible (she was a presidential candidate; the producers would’ve bumped somebody to get her back on the next night after the story broke). I would have told her her walk out on stage, tell ?uestlove from Fallon’s band that she appreciated the gesture and she had a song for him, too, and then have the show’s producers play Denis Leary’s “You’re an Asshole.”

She’d have never in a million years done that. But can you imagine how much different that story would’ve been if she had?

Did that situation kill her campaign? No; she was trailing badly in the polls by that point, and she probably wasn’t going to recover. At the time that show aired, she was polling around 15 percent. But, by completely mishandling her response to what happened, she missed an enormous opportunity to grab that by the throat and do something that would have developed far more buzz for her — and for her campaign. Who knows what might have happened.

Finally, I do want to clarify one thing — Bachmann being angry about the way she was treated was *not* wrong. Regardless of what you think of her or her politics, for her to agree to go on Fallon’s show and then be ambushed by ?uestlove was wrong. It was a childish prank by the band, and it probably did long-term damage to the show’s ability to attract other guests similar to Bachmann in the future without a lot of headaches for the producers. But I think her anger could’ve been put to work for her (and for her campaign) in a far more productive fashion than to go on political talk shows and complain that ?uestlove was mean to her.

She missed an opportunity to do what Hillary Clinton has done with “Texts from Hillary.” She missed an opportunity to spin a situation and take control of the message.