Friday, August 31, 2007


Nobody had an accurate and horrifying realization in the comments section of a recent post (in reference to Amy embracing my nerdiness):

Face it, you hit the jackpot!

But on the other hand it sounds like your marriage is completely malfunctioning because it was supposed to make you less like a single comic book nerd, not more like one!

Just don't ask her to dress up for conventions.

He's totally right. But don't worry. On the nerd hierarchy, I think I rate above the "dress up like an anime character" nerd, and I would never encourage or even tolerate Amy lowering herself to that level. Funny nerd t-shirts are acceptable, though. Josh, your wife wearing the knit Leia hat is totally cool because it was funny.

I'm not helping myself, though: I recently acquired a set of samurai swords. That is another step down the ladder (even if they were a gift).

Someone should write up a nerd hierarchy. I'll bet someone already has.


Brendoman has come through by finding exactly such a hierarchy!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dudley the Fuzz-Butt: 1994 - 2007

Our family's beloved Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Dudley, was put to sleep yesterday morning. He had only started showing signs getting old within this last year, but it overtook him very quickly. The vet thinks he developed cancer. My mom had a store of painkillers to last Dudley through the week, so that anyone who wanted to say goodbye could come home on the weekend before he was put to sleep. Unfortunately, he woke up yesterday morning and could no longer use his hind legs. My mom made the difficult decision to take him in sooner. I was able to leave work and drive home yesterday to be with her when she took him in. My dad is out of town until the weekend and my brothers are up here at school now, so she would have had to do it all on her own, and considering that Dudley was her dog, it would have been really hard to do it alone. Well, it was hard even with me there blubbering like a baby, but at least we had each other's shoulders to cry on.

He was a great dog. He cheered us up when we were low, he played with us any time we asked, and he peed on one of our wedding presents. He was about the cutest dog in the world, but he also had a very regal side that belied his naturally goofy looks. He barked like a big dog, had overhead clearance like a little dog, and loved to lick empty ice cream bowls. We shaved him in the summer, giving the appearance that he was wearing white pajamas, and he would honestly sulk for a day or so as though he knew how ridiculous he looked.

We loved him very much. He will be missed and spoken of often.

(I'll try and get some pictures to show you. You can google "Pembroke Welsh Corgi" for an idea. Dudley looked like the most handsome ones you'll find.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Not-so-recent Westerns - 3:10 to Yuma, Rio Bravo, Young Guns

(I actually started writing this before I got married, but only recently finally finished and posted it.)

It's nice to know there are still some real gems out there to discover within the Western genre. I rented 3:10 to Yuma and Rio Bravo recently, and they have immediately become two of my favorites (especially 3:10).

3:10 to Yuma (1957) - 3:10 handles the hero and villain very differently from most movies, especially from that era. The bad guy isn't your typical villain. He has a sense of morality, but he's not a tragic villain, as would usually be the case. Very interesting character. The hero, too, acts from very human (fallen) motivations, and his ultimate choices make him that much more triumphant morally. The pacing and location shots also make this film stand out.

Rio Bravo (1959) - Rio Bravo is a pretty fun film as well. Dean Martin's character arc is great, and Stumpy is surely the model for the original "Old Prospector." Angie Dickinson plays one of the most sensual characters I've ever seen. She exudes allure.

Young Guns (1988) - Young Guns sucked six ways from Sunday. There was nothing redeeming. I will now avoid Young Guns II with all the cat-like agility I can muster.

To summarize: you all must put 3:10 to Yuma at the top of your rental queue. It's awesome. See it before the new one colors your view.

Recent movies - Paths of Glory, Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, Surf's Up

Paths of Glory (1957) - I didn't even know this was a Kubrick movie until I saw his name in the opening credits. I actually rented it just because John Kricfalusi recommended it as a study for animators in "specific acting."

Anyhow, the film: it is beautifully shot. The way Kubrick stages the scenes and moves the camera and uses his locations is really remarkable. **spoilers** The scouting scene, the assault on the Ant Hill, the courtroom scene, the final march to the firing squad. The fact that Kubrick chose to show the actual execution rather than cut away to a reaction shot really drives home the injustice of pride that cost three men their lives at the hands of their own country. **end spoilers** There is a really interesting point of contrast to be found in the relationship between Dax and the General. Both are manipulated/pressured into sending their men off to certain death, but Dax physically leads his men and assumes the same risk they are taking. You're angry at the General's arrogance in giving this order, but you find yourself supporting Dax because he actually leads his men. The General sees the men as tools, but Dax sees them as human beings of equal value to himself. Also helpful in raising sympathy for Dax is the difference in the way he was pressured into obeying the order. Dax's pride in his men is appealed to, whereas the General gives in based on the promise of further rank.

The overall message of the story doesn't seem to be a broad anti-war statement (which makes it unique), but a condemnation of military hubris and the devaluing of a soldier's life. Pride and the devaluing of life is the cause of each of the problems: the General's pride leads to him ordering a futile attack; the General's pride again prevails in ordering the execution of his own men as "an example"; the pride of the other CO prevents him from acting on Dax's accusations and saving the wrongfully condemned men.

Good movie.

NausicaƤ of the Valley of Wind (1984) - Typical Miyazaki movie: lots of fun airborne contraptions, "man is poisoning the earth" message, plucky heroine, some goofball supporting characters, beautifully designed landscapes, and giant mechanized warriors. You can tell this one came out in the 80s because of the funky sound effects and music. I enjoyed it, though I prefer his subsequent efforts (mostly because those bugs freak me out).

Surf's Up (2007) - Pretty fun movie. Easily the best animated waves and surfing ever done. These guys actually studied what waves do and how surfers move (even if there was some ridiculous "360 aerial flip" stuff). Jeff Bridges was perfect. I didn't even recognize Jon Heder, which speaks well of his performance! Wifey-Amy loved that there was a surfer from Michigan. Overall, it could have used more laughs, but the story was pretty good and carried the movie well (which is saying a lot for a surfing movie). Very similar to North Shore story-wise (fish-out-of-water surfer gets big chance in surf contest vs. jerk), but minus most of the campiness.

Dom won!

Dom's entry into the Comic Book Challenge won the grand prize! His book is going to be published sometime in early 2008. Congratulations, dude. You deserve it. Let's hope this leads to more printed work from you! I want to hang out at Comic Con.

Here's their synopsis image, for those that haven't seen it:

Friday, August 24, 2007

Gift for the Wif'

Forgot to mention: I bought my wife this really cool Star Wars statue when I bought my Hellboy dolls.

The trial is over

I've been serving on a jury for the past 5 weeks, and we finally finished everything yesterday. It was a gang-related murder in Compton. There were two juries, one for each defendant. One defendant was the driver, the other was the shooter. We found our guy (the driver) not guilty of Murder, Attempted Murder, and Discharging a Fire-arm into a Motor Vehicle. We think he just gave the wrong guy a ride that day. The other guy is guilty as hell and I hope the other jury comes to that conclusion. They were still deliberating when we finished, so I don't know what their verdict was.

It was a really interesting experience. It was my first time serving on a jury. I learned a lot about the judicial process, gangs, and Compton. The courthouse was in Compton, so I got to know the little area around there pretty well. I had a couple weird experiences outside the courthouse speaking with or over-hearing locals.

We had a pretty good group for our jury. We all became friends by the end. One jury member is even planning on a little jury get-together sometime in the future.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Got the alien!

Though the giant robotic monkey has eluded capture, I was successful in catching another rare hunk of plastic: Mike Mignola's alien.

Just a beautiful design. I love the little Kirby-esque facial details.

I also got Johann, Roger, and Hellboy with rocket pack in the set. Johann is another really cool character.

The version I have features a transparent head and transparent yellow ectoplasm instead of the blue.

Johann has yet to be featured in any Mignola-drawn books, unfortunately, but he was created by Mignola. He's a being of pure ecto-plasm who is contained in the suit you see above. He's a different sort of "ghost in the shell."

Vote for Dom!

Dominic Vivona, a fabulous illustrator and friend, is in the Top 3 for a comic book contest. Please vote for his book with Jorge Vega! It's a western with an interesting otherworldly premise (it's actually sort of like Morbius minus the vampirism, if that makes sense -- a curse that forces the character to kill, but he tries to kill only those who deserve it).

Vote here! It's called "Gunplay." Dom's name isn't listed among the choices, you have to select Vega.

More posts coming soon, I promise!