Thursday, December 3, 2009

Some Great Books and the Helm for Christmas

I've read some really great books lately and thought I'd mention them as people dive deeply into their holiday seasonal shopping. Let me note that I am in no way affiliated with any of the writers or publishers of any of these books--I just really liked them (or in one case, I am currently in the process of really liking it).

So the first one is The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway. Very fun, engaging and moving sci-fi/action/adventure/philosophy book with Ninjas. Do you capitalize the "N" in Ninjas?

During the break between this paragraph and the last, I looked it up and the dictionary says "often initial capital letter" which doesn't really answer the question but suggests that I wasn't wrong to do the big "N". Anyway, I loved The Gone Away World. I could barely put it down. Here's a link so you can check it out: TGAW

The next book is The Hunger Games (and its sequel, Catching Fire). I think these are supposed to be for a young adult audience, technically, but I am an adult and I thought they were great. Again, sci-fi/action/adventure. They are by Suzanne Collins. I read both books in a couple of nights each, mostly because I kept saying to myself, "I'll stop at the end of the next chapter when the tension lets up a bit." Here's a link to check them out: THG

And finally, John Dies at the End, by David Wong. I'm reading it now and I wish I'd written it. It's completely got me hooked so far. Supernatural/horror/sci-fi/action/adventure. Wow. Here's a link to check it out: JDATE

So, in closing, these are some great books you might buy for Christmas. And now the plug. While you are buying these books, you might also check out The Helm graphic novel by yours truly. And yours truly is spelled Jim Hardison--just to be really crystal clear. Here's the link: TH

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Hair Has It

Some time back, I wrote a blog entry about helmet hair, partly because of my deep and abiding interest in helmet hair, but also because I had read that the most searched topic on the Internet was hair and I thought I should cash in on that gem of insight with an entry about hair.

Well, as it turns out, I was just looking through some analytics about the Helm site and discovered that my most viewed blog entry is the one about helmet hair. By a significant amount.

So, I guess I have to write about hair a bit more often. Like Mathew's thick, luxurious, golden locks. Okay, maybe they are more thin, greasy and dishwater blond, but that's beside the point. The point is that, for some reason, many of the people who use the Internet are very interested in hair. This leads me to wonder whether it might be highly lucrative to create a comic book where the main character is a hairdo.

Oh! I know, I'll continue that story I've been working on for years about the bald guy who has the space-alien living with him as his toupee. Mint Toupee! Of course, why didn't I think of it before. That way I can continue my illicit love affair with comics while still catering to the interests of the hair-obsessed! Here's the plot. The main guy, Mint, is just a regular guy who has terminal brain cancer that has caused all of his hair to fall out and ruined what's left of his life. Then, this alien crashes its spacecraft in the woods just as Mint is getting ready to kill himself. The alien comes from a planet where the dominant species look like human hairdos. So, the alien ejects itself from its crashing ship and parachutes down and lands right on Mint's head just as he pulls the trigger of the gun in his mouth. The Toupee, whom I was thinking of calling "Toupee" saves Mint's life and strikes up a symbiotic relationship with him. It gets to travel around on Mint's head, completely disguised as his hair while he gets a reprieve from his cancer, extra cool alien powers and a luxurious head of hair that communicates with him psychically and can beat the crap out of bad guys. Together, the two fight both human villains and stave off attempted invasions by various evil space-aliens that Toupee is aware of. And there is much hilarity when love interests try to stroke Mint's gorgeous hair.

Anyway, that's the idea in a nutshell. Mint Toupee. You heard it here first--I'm sure it will be coming soon to a comic shop near you... I guess I'd better call my editor. He's going to want first crack at this thing for sure--especially when I wow him with the demographics about the Internet hair obsessed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hot Child Catching Fire

Kind of a burning theme.

So, I was listening to Nick Gilder and thinking that he was kind of underrated these days. Or maybe I just don't hear about him and consequently assume that neither does anybody else. That's because I'm very me-centric. Anyway, I love Hot Child In the City, but it turns out Nick has a lot of songs I really like. Fun to sing along to. So, there's that.

And while I was on the whole "Hot" topic (not the retail chain specializing in pop music clothes) I thought I'd mention that I've started reading the sequel to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire. I really liked The Hunger Games, and now, as it turns out, I really like Catching Fire too. In fact, the only thing bugging me about the books, apart from the fact that I hate putting them down to go to sleep or do work, is that only two of the series are published so far. That suggests that when I finish Catching Fire, I am going to be facing a potentially spectacularly long wait before I get to read the third book in the series. And I'm not even sure there are only three books. Dang, I hate that. It's kind of like having to watch television shows when they are aired instead of getting to rent entire seasons after their done. It is so much more fun to watch all of say, Dexter, in a week rather than have to wait entire weeks between episodes. And sometimes, more and more often, I have to wait two weeks because the darn network has decided to give a show a week off. Seems like they only do that with the popular shows, which makes the networks kind of bastards in my opinion.

You know what else makes them bastards? This new thing of tacking an extra minute or two of a program onto the end of a show. Like The Office, and Community. It seems like a cool thing at first blush, but it really messes with my ability to record multiple shows at the same time or scheduled back to back recordings on different networks. At first, I thought the networks might be adding extra content because they love me so much, but then it became really clear that it was actually just a ploy to mess with my ability to switch channels when recording shows. I should have known, given their long history as bastards who cancel my favorite shows and make me wait longest for the content I want most. But no, I fell for it.

Anyway, and to get back to my burning theme, this behavior really burns my britches. So there, I've tied Nick Gilder, a book I'm currently reading and my ire at the networks together in one neat, flaming package.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Werewolves on the Moon for the Holidays

Two things. The holidays are approaching and I've just finished reading Werewolves On the Moon versus Vampires, which was funny and got me thinking that it would make a good Christmas present. So, here I am recommending the series.

Yes, it's a comic series from Dark Horse. You can get it at TFAW by clicking on that link thar. Or, that thar link.

If you are wondering what it is about, the title pretty well says it all--which is something I respect in a comic.

In other news, I've been reading The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins--which was really good and I'm just starting the sequel--and I've also been reading Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling--which was also really good and now I'm reading the sequel, The Protector's War.

Friday, October 30, 2009

I like Halloween, I hate Thanksgiving

I just saw somebody blogging about how they hate Halloween. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. Me, I like Halloween. Always have. Even when it was miserable. I remember dragging my tired self along miles of unlit roads in icy cold rain until my hands were numb and my nose was leaking like a faucet. The only costume that could provide any comfort was the arctic explorer or the Eskimo, and George Riley always took both of those by putting on his winter coat and ski goggles. That usually left me as a ghost or a vampire or something else that could get really really cold.

I didn't complain though. Getting cold and exhausted was the price of free candy. It was an active demonstration that the things you value most have to be earned. Like hot soup or chilli after the cold. Like all of that wonderful candy. And of course, there are the priceless stories of hardship I now get to flog my own children with whenever they feel that they have it tough.

But I hate Thanksgiving. It's a miserable excuse for a holiday. Not that I'm ungrateful. Or at least, not peculiarly ungrateful. I just don't really enjoy food and really hate the work that goes into preparing it and getting ready to share it with others. See, it's not that I'm ungrateful--just that I'm horribly selfish.

The whole idea of celebrating the plenty that the universe has bestowed on us seems like a good idea to me. It's not that part I object to. Shouldn't you do that every day anyway? But I hate the foods. Turkey? Uhg. Well, I guess I like Turkey Bacon. Dressing? Yuk. Sweet Potatoes? I hate them. Cranberry sauce? No thanks.

And the pilgrims? Screw the pilgrims.

Anyway, I like Halloween and I hate Thanksgiving. That's just me. You go ahead and like or dislike whatever you want.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Half Way to Death, My Kinda Lover and The Helm

Well,

Just turned 45 today, which I think means that I am half way to death... if I am lucky. Fortunately, I have always been incredibly lucky. What is the average lifespan up to these days for a male? Last time I read about it, the indication was that average lifespan was decreasing for the first time in decades. Maybe even in a century. Something to do with junk food. Or pesticides. Or those chemicals they use to soften plastic. Or something else. There are just too many things to worry about.

Buy why worry? That's no fun. Instead, I like to play loud music. I was playing "My Kinda Lover" by the inimitable Billy Squier for my daughters from my iPod while they were having a bath the other day. My eight-year-old seemed to be enjoying the tune quite a bit, but after the second chorus she asked me, "Is he just singing Blah blah blah-blah blah, Blah blah blah-blah blah for the chorus?" It does sound like that if you are not paying close attention and I was glad she was not paying close attention because it might have been slightly awkward to explain what he was actually singing about.

I wonder if Billy Squier is making a comeback of sorts. He recently played a music venue near my house and he had a song pretty prominently placed in that movie "Couples Retreat". I saw Billy live in concert the summer of the year I turned eighteen. He opened for Queen I think. It was a good show, and from the vast distance I sat from the stage, I couldn't even detect his excessive eyeliner. Or maybe he just has preternaturally thick eyelashes.

Eyelashes. That word got me wondering the other day. Why aren't any other hairs called lashes except the ones on your eyes? Why don't you have noselashes, or earlashes? And what about backlashes? Oh. I guess I see why on that one. But what about buttlashes? Anyway, just curious why eyes get the special treatment. Probably something to do with that whole "window to the soul" thing. Probably makes the other openings in the head feel jealous. If I were the mouth, I'd be mad. It does all the talking, so how come it doesn't get called the window to the soul? Or at least the door to the soul? Ah, just another one of those unfairnesses.

Not much news on The Helm lately. I was kicking around the idea of doing an iPhone version of it with my Editor over at Dark Horse. This was prompted by the fact that I'm currently writing a different comic for the iPhone. All top secret at the moment unfortunately, but I hope to reveal a website soon. Although, if it has the startlingly vast success of the current Helm website, I don't know how I will manage to keep up with all of my other duties in life. I may have to spend some of the staggeringly large fortune that The Helm has earned me. Yes, writing comics is an incredibly lucrative pastime.

Anyway, I need to rush home now and have my fabulous birthday dinner. I have requested Pizza Hut and spice cake. Not, you know, at the same time. It's a multi-course affair.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blogging, DNA Haplogroups and Me

Well.

It's been nearly 200 million years since my last blog entry. Things have been busy. Without reference to the life altering things that have happened, here's what's going on today. I got my DNA analyzed by the National Geographic and I finally looked up the results today. Apparently, I am related to you all. Most of you, pretty closely as it turns out.

For those of you keeping track, I'm in the Haplogroup R1b, M343 (Subclade R1b1c, M269). There, you now have enough genetic information on me to transform me into a human/hamster hybrid or frame me for crimes I did not commit. You can't actually frame me for crimes I did commit, because then it wouldn't be framing.

Although...there's a story in there.

Anyway, I will blog again tomorrow. For now, the effort of generating this hefty effort has depleted my weakened blogging muscles. Baby steps. Baby steps.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Angels and Demons, Jennifer Aniston, the Illuminati and Chuck

Well, I saw Angels and Demons over the weekend. Third movie date I've had with my wife in the past three years. Children.

We had a long debate before going about what we should see. Fortunately, we both like the same kind of movie in general. If we're going to see something on the big screen, we like to see stuff blow up and people get 2 by 4's broken over their heads or get blasted with futuristic weaponry. Unfortunately, we had both already independently seen the new Star Trek movie and my wife had already seen Wolverine. Neither one of us was that pumped about Angels and Demons, but it seemed like a better big screen choice than Management. Also, Management has Jennifer Aniston in it and she generally doesn't make good movie choices--or, if the tabloids can be believed--boyfriend choices. So, it was Angels and Demons.

Not that horrible, actually. Pretty entertaining. Except all the made up fiddle faddle about the Illuminati. That kinda bugged me. Probably bugged the actual Illuminati also--the same way the da Vinci Code bugged the guys who wrote Holy Blood, Holy Grail. If I was Dan Brown, I might be watching my back right about now. Ticked off the Church and the Illuminati? Whose next? The space aliens? The military industrial complex? Anyway, it was a good enough popcorn movie.

I also just read that Chuck has been picked up for another season. Well, 13 episodes anyway. Now there's a show I'd pay to see on the big screen. I love Chuck. Maybe Jennifer Aniston could get on an episode and break her streak of making poor movie choices. Maybe she could even marry the guy who plays Chuck and break her bad-boyfriend-choosing streak too. Assuming that Zachary Levi is a decent guy and doesn't already have a wife.

And now, a sensitive disclaimer. Please do not interpret the above text to mean that I personally believe that any of the men that Jennifer Aniston has dated/married/had relations with in the past have been "bad boyfriends". The term "bad-boyfriend-choosing streak" in the previous paragraph only refers to the idea that said boyfriends have not been "good" for Jennifer in the pursuit of a stable, long-term relationship. This interpretations presupposes that Miss Aniston is actually looking for a stable, long-term relationship. It is also solely the product of reading tabloids and has no actual connection to reality. Oh, and also, Iron Giant, Office Space and the Leprechaun were all pretty much good.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Star Trek, A Wrinkle In Our Timeline

So, we were all going to play hookie from work today and see the new Star Trek.

We had it all planned out down to the last detail. Earlier in the week we had picked the 1:10 showing--the first DLP showing of the day--and planned to meet up at the office, get a little work done and then leave about 11:45 so we could have a leisurely lunch near the theater, stroll into the movie on time to get the best seats in the house and then kick back and let it wash over us.

So, we met at the office as planned and worked out our transportation caravan. Since the theater was a bit of a drive, everyone was taking their own car so they could head right home after the show. Being environmentally conscious, we worked through all of the calculations with Spock-like precision to ensure that there would be less net environmental damage this way than if we car-pooled to the theater, then all came back to the office to get our cars and then drove home from there. Or, maybe we didn't exactly do it in a Spock-like way, but at least in a Kirk-like way.

Anyway, we were set. And then this gardener guy showed up. He was supposed to have showed up the Friday before last, which he missed, and then again last Friday, which he also missed. And now, here he was, pulling into the parking lot at 10:00 AM on Star Trek Friday! No way!

We had instructions for dealing with him. We were supposed to wait until he was finished, write him a check for his work and then lock up the gate to the office parking lot. Only problem was that he was supposed to take at least two hours to do the lot and we only had an hour and 45 minutes left! Crap!

So, at 11:50 (already five minutes late) we went down to talk to him about writing him a check in advance of his finishing the work and maybe locking up the gate himself. But it turned out that he barely spoke any English. Apparently he was an ancient Korean form of gardener. So, we regrouped back in the office and went into planning over drive. It was noon now. The leisurely lunch was slipping away. Desperate, we decided to communicate with the gardener through sophisticated hand gestures and meaningful grunting in order to get him to estimate how much time he had left so that we could figure out how much to pay him. Then we would pantomime him locking up the gate and flinging the key back through the bars in the door so that we could retrieve it on Monday.

At 12:05 we went back down and found him already finishing up. Yeah!!! So, Sara cut him a check and we gave it to him and it turned out that the person who gave us the instructions got the guy's name wrong. And he could speak enough English to let us know. We ran back upstairs and cut him a new check. Now, it was 12:10 and lunch was totally out of the question. Any later and we would be starting to endanger our good seats. We rushed back down and... he rejected the check again! Wrong name again! So, we ran back up, changed the name, shoved a new check page in the printer and...it printed backwards. DANG! It was 12:20 now! The plan was in shambles. Desperate measures were called for. So, we raided the petty cash box, paid the gardener and then ran upstairs to get the key to lock up. And who had sneaked in through the front door while we were out back? The guy from our I.T. company. And what was he doing? Backing up the hard drives. AAAAARRRRRGGGGG!

It looked like curtains for our plan. But, being an I.T. guy, he understood that this was Star Trek we were talking about. Somehow, accessing his inner Scottie, he managed to do his twenty minutes of work in two minutes. We were out the door.

Anyway, we made it.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

96 rolls and the Peril of the Internet

So, I bought 96 rolls of Bottlecaps. They arrived today via FedEx or UPS or something. Two cases of 48 rolls each. Mmmmm.

But now I'm thinking that maybe it wasn't the greatest idea. I mean, what's to stop me just eating them all today? That's 2496 Bottlecaps, at least 5 of which are likely to be the root beer flavor I love so much. Even I know that anything over two thousand would be too many Bottlecaps. It's highly likely I would drop dead on the spot from diabetes type 10 or something.

This is the Peril of the Internet. Back in the good old-fashioned old days, I would have had to drive around for weeks or months (or at least days or hours) in order to locate that many rolls of Bottle Caps. I would have had to ration them so that my pleasure would last. Now, with a few clicks of my mouse and the number from my credit card, I can possess whatever candy I desire. And the problem goes well beyond candy. I can buy nearly anything I can think of on the Internet, all without any real effort. It seems like a boon until it makes you its slave.

Oh, and I ran into my friend Clay today and told him about my Bottlecaps and he spontaneously noted that the root beer ones and the lemon lime ones are the only really good ones. Now, that's some serious validation there because everybody knows that Clay and I are virtually nothing alike. I mean, he wears glasses.

Anyway, I better get going. I have a lot of candy to eat.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Blommer, Fruit Striped Gum and the Goon

I've been eating a lot of Fruit Striped gum and reading a lot of The Goon over the past few days.

I bought The Goon #1 and #2 TPBs at the Stumptown Comic Fest and I read them that night and really like them. So then I got The Goon TPBs #3, #4, #5 and China Town (which is actually a hard back and, I understand, basically The Goon #6). And I read all of those the day after I got them. And now I'm waiting for The Goon #7 and #8 to come out. I'm digging The Goon.

And then there's the Fruit Striped gum. I love the smell of Fruit Striped gum! It smells better than virtually anything else, with the possible exception of freshly baked bread or the Blommer Chocolate Factory in Chicago. It's freaky, but I like to just hold a stick of Fruit Striped gum under my nose and huff the fake-fruit scent. That's actually better than chewing the gum--mostly because the super intense flavor of Fruit Striped gum burns bright but quick and is gone in a twinkling, while that delicious smell is there for as long as you can resist chewing the gum.

Anyway, this got me thinking that there's a connection between Fruit Striped gum and the Goon. I love them both, I consume them both way too quickly and they both have a strange, intoxicating appeal that would be difficult to explain on any kind of a rational level.

At the San Diego Comic Con last year, at which we unveiled issue #1 of the Helm, Dark Horse had a conceptual poster for a potential Goon movie. David Fincher is slated to direct, so I am likely to be there opening day, probably chewing Fruit Striped gum.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Caffeine, My Beloved!

Caffeine, my beloved! Giddy with the rush and buzz of you, my step is light, my eyes are bright. I barely feel the need for sleep, my heart skips every other beat.

Caffeine, you make me a better person—and not just figuratively—measurably too. With you in my life I am not just more alert and engaging, but more interested in the world and open to the possibilities that the universe has to offer. You complete me.

How do I love thee? Let me count the empties. I wake to your kiss, I feed off of your energy for sustenance throughout the day. You are with me at every meal and while I watch too much TV or play too many video games hours after I should have gone to bed. You help me get my work done, comforting me in the wee hours when everyone else has gone. You are always ready to pick me up and help me keep going.

And yet, everyone says that you are bad for me and that our relationship is unnatural. They accuse you of enabling my self-destructive tendencies and fueling my bad habits. What do they know of our love? Sure, my mouth is dry, my hands shake and I can’t sleep even when I want to, but aren’t those the same symptoms of any deep and passionate love?

And oh, you are a wicked harsh mistress to cross. I have tried to leave you! But without your love my head pounds, my muscles ache and the very light that touches my eyes burns like fire. Plus, I get crabby as hell. Without you, food loses its taste, my wit loses its edge and I fall asleep at my desk.

Ah, Caffeine, my beloved.

#69, the Canadian Amazon, Bewhape and the Chuck Season Finale

So, someone just sent me a note that The Helm graphic novel was #69 on the Canadian Amazon.com, which is called Amazon.ca. I didn't even realize there was a Canadian version of Amazon, but I am pleased that the Helm was #69 on it.

I have a friend, Erik, for whom the number 69 brings special glee. He now resides in India, but when he was in the good old US of A, he would always high-five me whenever the number 69 came up in the course of normal conversation. Well, if I was around. I am sure that, somewhere in India, when he reads this post, he will high-five the nearest Indian. That Indian will likely be bewildered.

Bewildered is a great word. It's apparently related to the much older word bewhape. It's the combination of Be--thoroughly and Wilder--lead astray, lure into the wilds. The fact that ancient dudes came up with a specific word for thoroughly luring someone into the wilds makes me suspicious that there must have been a lot of that going on in the past. Now it's just done figuratively, like Erik high-fiving the Indian, but back in the 1500's, it was apparently happening often enough and literally enough that it got its own word! Of course, there were more wilds back then to lure people into. Like the wilds of the Canadian Amazon.

Anyway, enough about that. I just saw the season finale of Chuck and I really liked it. Chuck is a good show. I read recently on Geek Dad that the network was thinking of dropping the show. All I have to say about that is don't be stupid, Network! Chuck is my current favorite show. Sure, they have problems with the direction of their action sequences, but give them a break! They're computer nerds! Not Michael Bay for god's sake!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Real Genius, Val Kilmer, Hansen and Tinted Windows

So, Real Genius is a great movie.

If you haven't seen it, you should. Val Kilmer is in it, but he's not the main character. The main character is this dweeby guy named Mitch Taylor (played by Gabriel Jarret) and Val plays his sort of deranged mentor, Chris Knight. You wouldn't think it to look at him in the movie, but Gabriel Jarret actually grew up to be kind of good looking. Check it out on IMDB if you don't believe me. You know who else is in the movie? William Atherton. You may remember him as the jerky Walter Peck from Ghost Busters. You know, the guy that orders the ghost storage device shut down. The guy about whom Peter Venkman (Bill Murray's character) says to the mayor, "Yes it's true...This man has no dick."

Anyway, that's not the point.

The point is that Real Genius is a great movie. And Val Kilmer is really good in it. Actually, he's so good in it that it makes me feel like he's never really lived up to the potential he displayed in this 1985 classic directed by Martha Coolidge. I know Val Kilmer follows this blog, so, sorry man. I loved you in True Romance. And Top Secret (although that was actually before Real Genius.) Anyway, I would have liked to have seen more movies with the Real Genius Val Kilmer and less movies with The Doors Val Kilmer. Again, sorry Val.

You know what else? Deborah Foreman is in Real Genius. It's just a cameo, but she's in there. She has one really great line, "Can you hammer a six-inch spike through a board with your penis?" You remember Deborah Foreman. She starred in Valley Girl. And she was also in the movie My Chauffer. If you haven't seen that one, check it out. I should probably offer a disclaimer at this point and note that I haven't seen My Chauffer in about twenty years, so it may not be as good as I remember. That happens sometimes. Like with the movie The Blue Rose, aka The Thief of Baghdad. But that's another story. Deborah Foreman should have been a bigger star.

Oh, and one final thing. That song MMMBop, by Hansen? That's a pretty good song. I don't care how saccharine those guys come off. I like it. Everyone just made fun of me when I played it in the office when explaining who was in the band Tinted Windows, but so what.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Ballad of the F-Bomb and the Claw Foot Tub

First, there's the swearing.

So I was sitting with my daughters on the front porch, eating ice cream, when my wife mentioned this family we know--the Swits. My little three-year-old said, "In Spanish you would pronounce it sh*ts." I frowned at her in concern. She's had a long standing habit of speaking what we call "fake Spanish," but where had she heard that word? "That's just how you'd pronounce it," she reassured me, perhaps because I looked so worried.

I glanced over at my eight-year-old to see if she had registered the use of a forbidden word, but she seemed oblivious. Then the three-year-old said, "Do you know how to pronounce 'frog' in Spanish? You say f*ck." My frown deepened. My innocent little one had just dropped her first F-Bomb. "Sh*t and f*ck," she over enunciated, "That's Spanish."

I quizzed her a little as nonchalantly as possible. Had she heard those words from somebody? "Nope, Dad," she answered, "It's just Spanish." Later, I checked in with my wife to see if she had heard anyone swearing around the kids or if, heaven forbid, it had been one of us.

"I don't think so," she answered with deep concern, "I mean, maybe she might have heard the S-word, but I don't think so. And the F-word? Definitely not. I mean, I hope not. I hope she just made it up."

"Both of them?" I asked, "The S-word and the F-word? Together? She just spontaneously invented swearing?"

"I hope so," my wife answered, but she sounded less than convinced. Me too.

And then, there's the claw foot tub.

So about an hour later, I was getting ready to give the girls their bath in the new upstairs bathroom. We have a claw foot tub. It is very pretty and elegant, but I'm not all that fond of it. It was in the house when we bought it--the house is from 1902, so there's no telling how old the tub is--and I was leery about it right from the start. I'm a shower-man myself. I don't really take baths. And with a claw foot tub, you have to hang shower curtains all the way around it if you're going to shower, which seems kind of impractical and inelegant. And it's also clumsy stepping into and out of the claw foot in the first place, a problem aggravated by the addition of a shower curtain. So I was against the tub. I thought we should get a cool, modern, glass doored shower for the upstairs bathroom. I conceded as how we could maybe leave the tub in the first floor bathroom as a decorative piece. But my wife, who is much more stylish than I am, had other plans.

So we carried the claw foot tub up to the newly constructed upstairs bathroom and it became our sole bathing option. It's very pretty looking with all kinds of gleaming chrome spigots and porcelain handles for the tub spigot, the hand-held shower attachment and the overhead shower. But right from the start, the claw foot has given me problems. At first, we just had one curtain around it, but the water shot out the opening in the curtain, ran down the wall to where the plumbing goes through the floor and then dripped down to the main floor bathroom directly below. So then we put in two curtains with a bit of overlap. That stopped most of the water, but the curtains had this annoying tendency to suction in around your body while you showered. The steamy hot air rising out of the top drew cold air in around the bottom and caused the curtains to suck in around you like really cold Saran Wrap. And also, some water still leaked out and ran down the wall, which we didn't notice until I was wiping the baseboards one day and a bunch of the paint just peeled right off because it had been soaking for days.

So, lately, we've had three shower curtains forming an impenetrably overlapping wall. This is both heavy enough that it doesn't suction in on you, and thorough enough that no water gets out. The only problem is that it's a total pain when it's time to give the girls a bath. What do you do with the curtains? Well, at first we would flip them up over the hanging metal oval that suspends the curtains. But then their incredibly vast weight started to pull the supports for the hanging metal oval out of the ceiling. So lately we've switched to just sweeping the curtains back and pinning them behind the back edge of the tub against the wall. It works, but it bothers me every time and just contributes to the overall sense that the darn claw foot tub and I will never be friends.

And now the point of this long story. I swept the curtains back, turned on the taps and started letting the water warm up as the girls waited for their bath. I was still thinking about the F-bomb-Spanish-word-for-frog thing when I suddenly noticed that my socks were soaking wet. I looked down and saw a huge puddle of water spreading out from beneath the tub. What the-?!

Yes, the shower spigot was still in the "on" position and at least half of the water was shooting out of the shower head, into the perfect funnel made by the curtains and gushing down the back wall and under the tub! So, as I frantically shut off the water and jammed towels under the tub, I angrily shouted, "This is just perfect! STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! DUMB! DUMB! DUMB! ARRRRRRGHHHHH!!"

"DADDY!" my eight-year-old gasped. She sounded both deeply shocked and very hurt. Emotionally.

Unable to imagine what might possibly be causing her such an acute level of distress, I looked up from the puddle, where I was laying on my belly, blotting furiously at the water under the tub before it had a chance to seep down to the floor below. She had her hand to her mouth--like she'd just stepped out of the Victorian era--and had the most disapproving look on her face an eight-year-old could muster.

"You said stupid," she whispered in horror. "Stupid and dumb!"

"Well, honey," I countered, soaked through and blood still boiling at the claw foot, "I'm sort of angry."

"We do not talk like that," she corrected me, "ever. It's not nice."

"Yeah, daddy," the three-year-old added with righteous indignation, "those are very bad words. Say you're sorry."

So, I apologized for my inappropriate language. My eight-year-old turned out to be shocked enough that she later ratted me out to my wife.

"Did you say 'stupid' in front of the kids?" my wife asked me after the little ones were finally asleep. I sheepishly admitted that I had, explained the extenuating circumstances and threw myself on the mercy of the court. "Well, you've probably scarred them for life, but at least this answers the swearing question. If they're still this upset about 'stupid' and 'dumb' then they probably haven't heard anything much worse. F*cking claw foot tub," she sighed.

"Oh I hate that stupid tu--" I started, but she cut me off with a raised hand.

"Don't you talk any trash about that tub. I love that tub," she warned, "Don't say anything you're going to regret later."

F*cking claw foot tub.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Comics: Pros, Cons, Neutrals and Fests


A shallow and lackluster meditation today. You probably shouldn't read this.

Pros: I just did a signing for The Helm at the Stumptown Comics Fest. That's me with the pen in the picture. I'm sure my experience is similar to that of everyone in comics today. It's getting difficult to deal with the vast throngs of autograph hungry fans. I have blisters on my Sharpie. I list the signing as a Pro although, arguably, it happened at a Con. I say arguably because the word Con doesn't appear in the name of the Stumptown Comics Fest. So, I guess you could make the case that it is not a Con. And there is a kind of feast involved. But that's beside the point. It was a fun fest (not a funfest) and I got to see a bunch of people I knew. It was also, roughly, the one year anniversary of my semi-immersion into comics. My baptism by paper. Last year, I went to the Stumptown Comics Fest as my first real introduction to the world of comics because I was writing the Helm and was eager to see what the culture was like. A definite pro: Friendly, crazily creative people, doing their quirky thing.

Cons: Some questionable smells--blame the high quirkiness factor. Despite it being a wonderful fest, the ventilation is poor and that leads to an occasional palpable funk. And another one: Poor sales. I just read that no comic sold more than 100,000 copies last month. First time since they started measuring that the numbers have been that low. Ouch. Seems like this economy is being particularly cruel to...well, everybody I guess, but comics especially. Anyway, and even if you don't normally buy comics, you should go out and buy a bunch. I did. Goon, Buffy, Umbrella Academy, Templar, Arizona, some other things I'll mention tomorrow. Buy some comics, let's get those numbers up.

Neutrals: Nope. I got nothing. Fruit Striped Gum? PRO! I LOVE IT! Pesto? CON! I HATE IT! Pizza? PRO! I LOVE IT! Dollar Rent A Car? CON! I HATE IT! Dr. Pepper? PRO! I LOVE IT! Diabetes? CON! I HATE IT! Chuck? PRO! I LOVE IT! Grey's Anatomy? CON! I HATE IT! Please note that I am speaking of the television series, which I have indicated by spelling Grey with an "e". I love the encyclopedia of anatomy which is spelled with an "a".

Fest: It's descended from the word Festivus and is related to the word feast. It has come to mean a celebration or party. I like celebrations and parties, but I don't really care for feasts. So there you go. I especially hate Thanksgiving. Should have gone in the Cons category.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bottle Caps and Modern Urinals


I really like root-beer-flavored Bottle Caps. Even as an adult, I will literally eat them until they make me sick. I am, of course, referring to the candies made by the Nestle company under the Wonka label.

Eating root-beer-flavored Bottle Caps until they made me sick used to be a pretty tall order when I was a kid. Anyone who loves root-beer-flavored Bottle Caps knows that they are the most scarce of all of the flavors. You hardly ever hit two in a row. Orange is the most abundant flavor, and I hate the orange ones. I am constantly hitting runs of three or even four of them. I just throw the orange ones away, or offer them to friends who don't really understand Bottle Caps. These days though, I am capable of affording multiple rolls of Bottle Caps and I have no health minded grown up standing over my shoulder to discourage this behavior. I think that maybe I was supposed to become this health minded grown up, but it never happened. So now, I buy a handful of rolls and just comb through them for the root beer ones. Hence the danger of eating them until I feel sick. I think it takes about thirteen of them to start feeling like I should have stopped. Figuring there are an average of about four or five per roll, that means I have to buy four rolls, minimum, which usually means that I cross the thirteen line and eat more like twenty and then I feel sick.

You know, I only assume that the ones I like are actually the root beer ones. In rolls of Bottle Caps (as opposed to the bags) there are two different shades of brown, a pretty goldenish brown and an ugly grayish brown. One is supposed to be root beer and the other is cola. Neither really tastes like either root beer or cola, but the ones I like seem slightly more root beerish than cola-ish, so I've always assumed that's what they are. The ones I like, in case you couldn't tell by the favoritism of my description, are the pretty goldenish brown ones.

They are so good it's obnoxious. They have a delightful, melt-in-your-mouth quality unique amongst the Bottle Caps. I have just gone through a streak of sixteen other bottle caps with only one root beer flavored one. I think the rarity contributes to my devotion. I also really love the lemon-lime ones, but they only come in the flat packs and the Bottle Caps in the flat packs are far inferior to the ones in the rolls. They are almost a completely different candy apart from the name and the kind of strange premise that they are bottle cap shaped candies that taste vaguely like soda pop flavors. The ones in the bags are thinner and harder and have a much more pronounced bottle cap shape. I've often wondered why they are so different from their rolled brethren. It's really a wild, inexplicable inconsistency. But I digress.

I hate modern urinals--the ones that are really designy and sleek looking. I mean, sure I appreciate that they are like sophisticated works of minimalist modern art, but I feel awkward peeing on art. Or, into it. And worse, they often give the impression that they will not make particularly effective urine receptacles. They frequently look like their sleekly designed, sometimes even ironic, forms may please the eye, but splash the pee. I've always been kind of prissy in that regard. I'm not comfortable with splash back, or "quiet reflection" as the deeply religious might call it. I guess I'm not manly enough to be okay with it.

Anyway, I encountered both things yesterday on a trip to Dallas. I bought six rolls of Bottle Caps and had to pee in an overly stylish urinal twice. Strangely, even though I hated the modern urinal, its overall negative impact was just to put me off a bit. The Bottle Caps, which I love, have made me sick to my stomach. Because I had twenty-two of them. I guess it just proves that age old adage: "Curse not overmuch the beautiful receptacles of thy loin waters! Tis the lid shaped confections a man lovest best that profit him least."

Oh, and the Helm graphic novel has been nominated to the American Library Association's Great Graphic Novel for Teens Booklist. Whoo Hooo!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Drunken Raccoons and Chocolate Donuts

I was just out walking in the spring sunshine--kind of a rarity in Portland, Oregon at this time of year--to get some vitamin D and an old fashioned chocolate donut, when a big raccoon stumbled across my path. To give this some context, it was ten in the morning in a busy part of Northwest Portland and the raccoon seemed totally oblivious to the fact that, as a wild animal, he should be slinking about at night rather than meandering across the street in broad daylight.

This was a big raccoon too. The size of two cats or a mid-sized dog. He kind of startled me at first so that I stopped in my tracks. Raccoons don't really walk like cats or dogs. They have their own weird little gait which I suppose comes from walking on those dexterous and clever hands. That strange, arch backed walk quickly cues your brain that you are dealing with something different--even if you haven't fully registered what yet. Brains are good that way. They notice even the tinniest little things out of the ordinary and then give you a quick goose to make sure you know something is up. Anyway, this gigantic raccoon just sort of rolled out of a bush on the other side of the road, stumbled his way across the street and then cut right in front of me and headed off down the sidewalk from the direction I had just come. I don't think he even noticed me. He just kind of shambled away, bleary-eyed and stunned looking, kind of listing to one side.

At first, I thought something might be wrong with him--like maybe he just woke up, or he might have been hit by a car or was in the early stages of rabies. But then I looked back over at the bush he had fallen out of and there were a couple of empty beer bottles laying there. So, I think he may have been drunk. Just to see how snoggered he was, I turned and followed him. Animals are usually pretty attuned to being followed. They catch on right away and get all freaked out about it. But not this guy. He just kept staggering down the sidewalk, like a dude heading home after an all night party. I even yelled "Hey! Raccoon! Get off the sidewalk!" just as a public service gesture, but he wasn't phased at all, didn't even wince. This suggested to me that he did not yet have a hangover. He walked down to the end of the block, turned the corner and toddled out of sight. For my part, I continued back to my office and ate my chocolate donut.

It was delicious.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

These Tweets Were Made For Walken

So, CWalken, the guy who appeared to be Christopher Walken, is no longer tweeting on Twitter. His account has been removed. There is no information about why, just a blank space where his "following" icon used to sit.

We unintentionally ex-followers speculated. Was it an impostor? A fake Walken? If so, the faker was funny. He really seemed to capture the Walken essence. Of course, what do I know of the Walken essence? I've never met the man, only seen him in films and appearances on Saturday Night Live and the like. I only know the face he decides to show the world through the work he's done. He might be a totally different guy in real life--a guy who doesn't say wonderfully ironic and slightly deranged things as a matter of course.

Anyway, Twitter became a darker place with the loss of CWalken.

And now, thanks to Google, I know what happened. At least a little. It wasn't Christopher Walken after all. His agent has confirmed that. Apparently, it was someone from a group called clusterflock. Twitter killed the account because they have a policy about pulling the accounts of people pretending to be people they aren't. Or maybe just people pretending to be Christopher Walken.

I'm still sad. CWalken may not have been the Actor Christopher Walken, but he wrote some really good stuff that I greatly enjoyed.

So long, CWalken! You will be missed.

Deluxe EOTB DVD Trilogy Edition!

Throw out your regular version DVD's, the long awaited Deluxe Blu-Ray DVD Special Edition of the Emperor Of The Bracelet Trilogy is finally out and well worth the wait and the $99 MSRP!

This boxed set contains all three films in their fully remastered, extended, director's cut versions as well as six "extras" DVD's that include never before released behind-the-scenes material detailing the art, special effects, casting and "book to screen" issues encountered when translating this classic series into blockbuster films. There's even a whole documentary about the "EOTB curse" that supposedly claimed the life of leading lady Lindia Barganza. I took off work today to watch and I'm just finished with the movies and finally getting started with the extras disks. All I can say is A HOO HAH! Popcorn and soda for dinner!

Starring veteran character actor Wayne T. Bruno in his endearingly comic role as Goonbung Darkenhelven the gnome theif, Dale Grandenburg in classic, over-the-top form as the Elf Lord Ivaldi and introducing the vivacious Lindia Barganza as the beguiling Princess Nalweegy, this EOTB set is a must have for any fan of epic sword and sorcery! By turns hilarious, tragic, thrilling and awe-inspiring, there has never been and is likely to never be, another cinematic experience quite like this.

Six out of five stars! Three out of two thumbs up! And whatever grade is higher than A++! Highly recommended!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Four out of Five Dentists Recommend the Helm Trade Paperback!

A pair of reviews just beat the Helm TPB to press! The Helm Volume 1 comes out tomorrow, but two reviews went up today.

The first was on Girls Entertainment Network by Stephanie Carmichael and gave the Helm a rating of 4 out of 5. I'm not sure 4 out of 5 what, but 4 out of 5 anything sounds pretty good to me! It could be 4 out of 5 dentists, which was good enough for Trident and is consequently good enough for the Helm. You can read the full review at http://www.girlsentertainmentnetwork.com/graphic-novel-review-the-helm/

The second review was on Around Comics and reviewer Brion Salazar said, "I really enjoyed this mini series in singles. The story was funny and should speak to the inner fanboy in all of us. Bart Sears art was some of his best." That seemed pretty positive to me, and I absolutely agree about the Bart Sears comment too. You can read the review at http://www.aroundcomics.com/index.php/Blog/ although I have quoted the entire review above. Yes, short, sweet and to the point. You have to love that Brion Salazar!

Now, all I have to do is hope that the book actually comes out tomorrow! Comics are unreliable!

Monday, March 30, 2009

More Hair and Merkin Muffley too!

I was reading again today about how online content about hair draws more traffic than any other topic. That just seems weird to me. Or really vain or something. Who are all of these people looking for content about hair? So anyway, I started thinking about how it might be fun to blog about hair, but in a way that would potentially be offensive to the kind of people who are normally online searching for content about hair. You know, just for fun. Because it's late.

For instance, I might write about hair from the perspective of nose hair styling. Nose hair styling is topic near and dear to the heart of my nose-hair-stylist, Lon. Lon's been coiffing the nasal hair of America's hottest celebrities for over a decade. His work goes well beyond the standard trim and tweeze. Lon's a nose hair genius. Looking for a nose hair dye job? Want your nose hair braided? Need nose hair extensions? Call Lon.

Of course, I could always write about the hair incorporated in merkins. Pubic toupees. Then the people searching for legitimate hair information can accidentally find out that many pubic wigs are made from Yak hair. Or that Peter Sellers played a president named Merkin Muffley. Or that it's rumored that Sienna Miller had to have her pubic hair digitally enhanced for a film role because the merkin they tried didn't look realistic enough. Which makes me think of Bruce Willis in Hudson Hawk. Because of how the hair on his head had to be digitally retouched--not because he wore a merkin. Although, I suppose he may have worn a merkin for the filming. There's just no way to tell based on the existing cut of the film.

Anyway, take that you hair content seeking Internet users! Give it a rest!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Beat Stops Here

I got a drum kit the other day. It's a used, 5 piece with a hi-hat and crash. It sounds very nice and looks pretty cool. As I brought it home I had fantasies about starting up another band--this time with me on drums. Maybe it could be called "The Meatles" and we could release and album called "Beat the Meatles!"

I've always wanted a drum kit, stretching all the way back to third grade when we had musical aptitude tests at school and they said I might make a good drummer. I took the evaluation sheet home and showed my parents that I would make a good drummer and that I only needed to get a drum kit in order to begin my musical career--a career which would undoubtedly bring me enormous wealth, fame and power. It was the first time I can recall my parents ever laughing at me. Apparently they thought drums would not be a good idea in a house with seven children and only three bedrooms.

Now, 36 years later, I finally got a drum kit.

It only took about ten minutes for me to begin to doubt the findings of my third grade musical aptitude test. It was shortly after I poked myself in the eye with a drumstick and just before everyone in the house came running downstairs to see if I had knocked over the entire contents of the basement or somehow catastrophically damaged the foundation of the house. Apparently, I have no natural rhythm and a shocking lack of hand/eye coordination. Or, more accurately, hand/eye/foot/brain coordination. Perhaps I did have an aptitude back when I was a wee lad, but it withered without appropriate attention? Maybe skill at the drums is like facility with languages? Maybe you have to learn to speak drum before the age of 15 if you are ever to be fluent in drumming?

Whatever the case, I think I should stick to writing. Fortunately, I had the fore site to tell my wife that the drum kit was for my daughters. They are still young enough to learn.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tittle and Jot

The newspaper this morning had a little blurb about how the dot above a small case j or i is called a tittle. Now, that made me think that the definition of tittle was the dot above a small case j or i. This is not the case. Turns out, a tittle is a very small part or quantity--the very least part. This means that the dot above a j qualifies as a tittle but that a tittle means more than that dot.

This came up because, when I mentioned the tittle thing, one of my coworkers said, "For verily I say unto you, til heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law til all things be accomplished." Apart from being a relatively unprovoked bible quotation, this comment also brought the word jot into the discussion.

I'll spare you all of the details about the Hebrew alphabet and ancient Greek writing and get right down to the useful information. A jot is small, but it's bigger than a tittle.

And now the inevitable link to the Helm.

Guess who originally said the bible quote about the jot and the tittle! Matthew! Yup! That's right, Matthew 5:18. And although he spells it differently than our boy, last time I checked, Matt was also the name of the main character from the Helm! How's that for synchronicity!

So now that I've connected the topics, I can tell you that I've also updated the Helm website! A new splash page and an online store where you can buy the graphic novel version! Check it out at http://www.thehelmcomic.com/ I'm sure you will be at least as thrilled by the new design as you have been by the discussion of tittle and jot.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Slovak, Google Translation and A Number

Google turned up a review of The Helm in Slovak on a site called Komiks Mania by someone named Demented! Which makes me glad. Just in general. But also specifically glad that Google has a translation function. But then slightly sad that it's not a better translation function. I've used this translation function on many different occasions and on many different languages and I always get interestingly garbled results.

Of course, who am I to look a gift translation in the mouth? Not too long ago, if I wanted to translate a review from Slovak, I'd either have had to pay a translation service or ask one of my many Slovakian friends to decipher it for me. As is, I'm able to get the gist even if the nuances and poetry of the original review are lost on me.

On the up side, I get to read lines like,
"Matt constantly moan, somewhat spoiled is coward. But if the helmet allowing him to eat more, his new profession of "defender of the world", he would have certainly liked more...It has the minisériu, but it is about the continuation of a regular series. Už sa teším!!! Already I look forward to! 8 out of 10. Beauty!"

I'm not exactly sure, but in context, it all seems quite positive. If you want to check it out yourself, in the original Slovak, here's the link: http://www.kocogel.info/index.php?topic=4614.0

So, here's a shout out to you, Demented at Komiks Mania! Thanks for reviewing the Helm in Slovak!

And also, check out this cool site for news and info about comics: http://comicsblips.dailyradar.com/

Apart from that, and for those interested parties, here is a number: 6966933945

Friday, March 20, 2009

Christopher Walken, Twitter, April Fools and the Helm TPB


So, Christopher Walken rules. If you are not one of the nearly 50,000 people following him on Twitter, you are missing something special. Even the Helm itself would appreciate Christopher Walken.

Now here's a clumsy segue (not to be confused with the very agile Segway--see previous post). Speaking of the Helm, I just found out that the updated release date is... wrong. The previous date, March 25th, 2009 actually turns out to be the shipping date as opposed to the in store date. The in store date is now slated for April 1st. That's right, the Helm TPB is supposed to be available on April Fools Day which just coincidentally happens to fall on a Wednesday.

Is that some kind of omen? Seems like maybe.

Anyhow, check out Walken's twitters as you ride your Segway to your local comic shop on April Fools day to purchase a copy of the Helm TPB. That's my recommendation.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Forteana and Jim From the Future


The Helm trade paper back is actually coming out on the 25th of this month, as opposed to the 8th of next month as was previously reported.

Anyway, I was putting a preview copy of The Helm TPB in the mail today to send off to the Fortean Times and I decided to ride the office Segway instead of walking.

For any of you who don't already subscribe, the Fortean Times is an awesome, monthly magazine about strange phenomena and experiences that continues the work of Charles Fort--the premier investigator of oddities and the man who coined the term teleportation. You can check them out at http://www.forteantimes.com/

I thought that the Fortean Times might be the most appropriate place to run a review of The Helm.

And now the Segway. First, you can't ride a Segway without feeling like some imperiously arrogant visitor from the future--perhapse a being named Orlon 5 or Commander GreeGnxx--just visiting this planet to mock the backward apes that still get around using their own legs.

As you hover along the streets, a foot or so taller than everyone else, drawing stares and shocked looks, you can't help but feel the odd mix of smug superiority and awkward stupidity that is the signature of the Segway experience. If you haven't ridden one, I'd suggest you try it.

We own a Segway because my business partner, David, won it as a door prize at the TED convention one year. Mostly it sits in the corner, quietly gathering dust, but about once each spring I get tempted to take it out for a spin. Since the post office is nearly a fifteen minute walk from the office, today provided a great opportunity to blow the dust off our chariot from the future.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Peni-mator, Halle Berry, the Watchmen and Twitter

Back when I used to be a technical director for animated TV commercials, I worked on a project in which a CG brand character had to interact with Halle Berry while she swam around in a pool wearing a skimpy bikini. This meant that I had to be present on the set while they filmed the live action footage so that I could measure everything in exhaustive detail in order to ensure the seamless integration of the animated character with the live action elements--including the bikini-clad Halle Berry. I repeat, I had to measure everything.

People who heard about this aspect of my job were envious, but the sad reality is that examining sexy things in minute technical detail is kind of awkward and robs them of much of their appeal.

I mention this because a friend of a friend of mine was reading the previous blog entry about Dr. Manhattan's CG Johnson in the Watchmen and recounted a story about how a friend of his (that's right, a friend of a friend of a friend) knew the guy who had to full body digitize Angelina Jolie (and her playboy bunny body double) for her role in Beowulf. The friend of my friend thought that job of the friend of his friend would be less bad than the job of being the peni-mator for Dr. Manhattan.

In case you are wondering, peni-mator is the official technical term for a person who animates a CG person's business. As opposed to the peni-modeler, who is the person who has to build the CG business, or the peni-master, who is the person who has to get the CG business ready to be animated by the peni-mator.

Anyway, the point is that I don't know which is worse. Based on my own experiences, I suspect the friend of my friend is only partly right. I think it might, indeed, have sucked more to have built Doc Manhattan's CG business (or scanned it, or whatever) than to digitize a naked Angelina Jolie. But I think it probably wouldn't have been that big a deal to animate the CG business. Sure, it was probably weird--especially if it involved extensive viewing (or even the creation) of unfortunately detailed reference footage, but it was probably less weird than the building and rigging of the Johnson itself.

At the end of the day, however, I'll admit that I just don't know for sure. So consider this an open invitation. If you are the person (or persons) who did any of these things, from building Doc Manhattan's CG junk to scanning Angelina Jolie's nakedness, or if you are a person who has done something similar, write in and let me know about your experiences. Or comment here for the world to see. After all, that is the true purpose of the Internet, isn't it? To facilitate the growth of human knowledge and thereby improve the human condition?

Oh, and apparently, also to watch porn. And to socialize with people on Facebook. Oh, and to tweet on Twitter.

P.S. Thanks to Tony, the friend of my friend, for the inspired coining of the term Peni-mator.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Putting the Graphic in the Graphic Novel: The Watchmen and Dr. Johnson

So, I went to see the Watchmen Friday morning. That's right, I took off work and went to see it at 11:30 AM. A gazillion other bloggers are thoroughly covering whether it was good or not, whether it was faithful or not, whether it is worth watching or not.

Me, I want to know what was up with Dr. Manhattan's CG Johnson.

It's not that I begrudge him having one, nor that I'm such a prude that I object to seeing it in the movie. It's just that, well, it was kind of more prominent than I expected. See, in the graphic novel, it's depicted, but it's just about what you might expect and consequently, you don't spend all that much time dwelling on it. In the movie version, however, it's considerably more...present. It's not just that it's bigger--although it is way bigger (check the graphic novel)--it's also that it bobbles and swings about and generally makes a spectacle of itself. The thing is kind of a scene stealer--and not in a good way.

Anyway, I don't want to dwell on this too long, but I am curious why they felt compelled to mess with Manhattan's endowment. Did they feel it was necessary in order to convey the full extent of his God-like power? Was it an art director's choice? Did the director demand it? Was it just an accident of motion capture and a credit to the motion capture actor?

However you look at it, it just didn't seem faithful to the original. And it also made me wonder which of the animators actually animated it. I didn't see any specific reference in the end credits, but the thing was so animated that I had to wonder. It might have been fun to be a fly on the wall during the conversations in which the penis animator was getting his direction and having his work reviewed.

"Oh, and Tim?"

"Yes, Mr. Snyder?"

"Can you swing the dingus a little more? And add a bit of a twist?"

"Certainly, sir."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hair, the Helm and Helmet Hair

So, I was just reading a report that said that online content related to hair draws more traffic than any other topic.

Really? Hair? Now that's saying something...although I'm not sure exactly what.

I suppose, for starters, it suggests that I ought to be including a lot more references to hair in my various posts about the Helm trade paper back and that maybe I ought to have a page on the Helm Website dedicated to hair. Hmmm. Maybe something about helmet hair.

Helmet hair is closely related to the dreaded hat hair, but much worse. In movies, heroic folks are always taking off their helmets to reveal perfectly coiffed, sexy looking hair. In real life, however, the inside of a helmet gets pretty sweaty and makes your hair do some fairly strange and unattractive things. Take it from me, a guy who has probably worn far too many helmets with far too little provocation--you're way more likely to end up with pointy hair or Gumby hair or skanky hair than sexy hair after your head has seen the inside of a helmet. Oh, and a lot of the time, your hair smells too--like sweaty leather or sweaty foam padding or even just sweaty head.

So, I'll get to work on a feature about Helmet Hair and see if I can't attrack more of the vast swarms of internet users who are apparently so interested in the hair topic.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bart Art

Bart Sears just landed some well deserved kudos for his work on the Helm--both on the Ain't It Cool News website.

The first was an @ssie award for Best Cover Artist/Best Cover Art on the cover of the Helm #1. I've always suspected I might be biased in thinking that was a great cover, so it's nice to be validated. You can check out all the winners here: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/40208

The second mention was in a review of the Helm trade paper back. AICN did a very nice review of The Helm TPB and The Scream TPB--both penciled by Bart. The review focused heavily but deservedly on Bart's artwork. You can read the entire review here: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/40235#6

So, hats off to you, Bart. The Helm wouldn't be the Helm without you.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Fate of the Universe Hangs in the Balance

The fate of the universe hangs in the balance. So now it is time to abuse the massive power of the Helm Blog.

I have been instructed by sinister forces to urge the widest audience possible to follow this link and vote for this cat.

http://www.bissell.com/MVP09/Week07/Alpha.aspx?RowFilter=H

His name is Hank. He is not my cat. But it is absolutely essential that he win this competition if we are to reverse global warming, the current financial melt down and various other bad things. And by the way, he is the gray tabby Hank, not the evil black and white Hank.

With great power comes great abuse. Well, at least half way decent abuse anyway.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Matecumbe redux, the Helm Speaks and the TPB!!

Okay, so first thing is, thanks to everyone who wrote in with the lyrics to the theme song from The Treasure of Matecumbe! But please everyone stop sending them now! Even the Helm's massive servers have been swamped by the volume of responses!

With that out of the way, two bits of news.

First, there's a new page on the Helm Website--The Helm Speaks. Check it out for daily tidbits of wisdom straight from the mouth of the world's only talking helmet that pretty much no one can hear (except Mathew Blurdy).

Second, I have reason to believe that the Helm TPB may be arriving from the printer today! I'll keep you posted, but everyone is so excited here at Helm central that no one can sleep! And also because it's during the middle of the day and they have work to do.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Helm Preview, Google Disappointment and the TV Wasteland

There's a new Helm Preview page up on the Helm Website!

Of course, similar material has been previewed on lots of other sites, but I started feeling like the official website for the comic ought to have a preview.

Apart from that, I was disappointed by Google today when I searched for the lyrics to the theme song from the 1976 Disney TV movie, Treasure of Matecumbe and was unable to find anything. I've got scads of information about the movie, but alas, no lyrics. I suppose I shouldn't be disappointed in Google so much as the whole Internet community. I just feel like somewhere out there, some obsessed someone ought to care enough to have recorded the lyrics and posted them, or better yet, have turned the actual theme song into a digital file and put it up for the world to hear. Sadly, no.

During my search, however, I checked out the other credits of the film's director, Vincent McEveety. That's right Mic-Eve-Eat-Eeeeee. Turns out, this guy directed nearly everything I ever watched on TV as a youth, good or bad. Mostly bad. Star Trek? Check. T.J. Hooker? Check. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century? Check. Dallas? Check. Kolchak: The Night Stalker? Check. Wonder Woman? Check! Mannix? Check! The list goes on and on!

Anyway, I will give either an autographed copy of the complete Helm series or a limited edition Helm T-shirt to the first person to email me a correct transcription of the lyrics of the theme song of Treasure of Matecumbe. That's right, the Internet's failing is your potential gain.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Trade Paper Back Cover and the Space Time Continuum

The actual cover for the Trade Paper Back version of the Helm is finally up on Amazon! Prior to this, the image displayed for the compilation was the cover of the first issue of the Helm.

Anyway, be sure to check it out. Bart Sears' art is really incredible. Follow this link to check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Helm-1-v/dp/1595822615/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233441690&sr=8-1

For those of you who are following this blog on Amazon, DON'T CLICK THE LINK! You will be caught in an endless feedback loop that will likely fracture the space/time continuum, Star Trek-style. Well, Next Generation Star Trek-style anyway. Those guys could sneeze and fracture the space/time continuum. So, be careful! Click responsibly.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Comic Based Movies & the Helm

Hey everybody, there's a new interview about the Helm up at Crave Online. You can check it out at http://www.craveonline.com/articles/comics/04652824/jim_hardison_talks_about_the_helm.html

Dante Maddox, who was kind enough to conduct the interview, raised an interesting question about the number of comics being made into movies and the impact that's having on both comics and movies. It seems like everyone has seen Batman, Iron Man, Wanted, Hellboy and a half dozen other comics based films--whether they're into comics or not.

I outline my feelings in the interview, but I'm curious how you all feel about it. Are there too many comics being adapted into films? Do films do justice to the comics they're based on? Is all of the attention just fueling a flash fire that will consequently burn out and potentially hurt the public's interest in comics? What do you think?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

KHAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNN!

Ricardo Montalbán is dead.

I believe that everyone, everywhere, should observe his passing by walking out into the street and shouting, "KHAAAAAAAAAAANNNN!" at the sky, for somewhere above, Khan Noonien Singh is hovering in the stolen Enterprise, his pecs pumped beyond mortal proportions and clearly beyond the capacity of a man his age. Perhaps then, and only then, a Grumman Widgeon seaplane will be seen streaking across the blue vault of heaven, on its way to ferry the soul of Mr. Roarke back to Fantasy Island. I'm sure as he flies that one hand will rest sensually on the rich, Corinthian leather of the custom seats, another will gently pat the head of the ever-faithful-though-clearly-deranged Hervé Villechaize, a third will powerfully throttle the aging neck of William Shatner, while the fourth will steadfastly guide the plane along its appointed route.

Fly swift and true Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalbán Merino! You make up a disproportionate number of my memories for someone I never had the pleasure to have met.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

BroMance and Pineapple Express

First, the Helm TPB is currently at the printer! Whoo Hoo!

Second, I saw Pineapple Express last night on DVD and it makes me think that the Helm is a BroMance.

Instead of watching the DVD, I really probably should have been doing something more obviously constructive with my time, like paying my bills or sleeping, but instead I chose to enjoy myself. Ah, enjoying myself, the bane of my existence.

So, anyway, pretty funny movie. It was not really what I was expecting. I had heard it was funny and that it had Seth Rogen in it and that it was in some way about drugs, but that was all I knew. All of those things were true, but they didn't really prepare me for the experience, probably because the movie was so odd.

Without giving anything away, I will say that I really enjoyed the collision between realism and absurdity and the way the film seemed completely okay with the conflict between them and didn't seem to have any need to reconcile it.

Beyond that, the movie got me thinking about BroMance as a sub genre of stories.

The key factors that seem to me to identify the BroMance story are that it's about a relationship between two guys (a relationship which can't exactly be described as a "buddy" relationship but is extremely close) and the bulk of the female characters primarily serve as speed bumps and obstacles to the central male relationship.

Now, to be clear, I'm not talking about a romantic or sexual relationship between guys. There's a different name for that kind of Broke-Back-Mountain sort of film and it's not BroMance. But I am talking about a level of relationship that is deeper and odder than your standard Lethal-Weapon kind of buddy film. BroMances tend to be comedies, probably because it is difficult in our society to deal with intense and interesting relationships between guys. The relationships in BroMances tend to be filled with as much tension as camaraderie and are even sometimes more negative or fractious than they are positive. There is frequently a lot of fighting and physical abuse of the main characters--as if they are manifesting their emotional lumps externally.

Anyhow, I'd say that Pineapple Express qualifies as a BroMance, and it got me thinking that the Helm is a weird sort of BroMance between Mathew and the Helm. They bicker and fight, Mathew gets the daylights beat out of him, there are comic overtones. I hadn't really intended that when I started writing, but I'm happy with it now that I'm done. And, at the end of the day, that's what's really important here--that I'm happy with it, because everything is always about me, how I feel about things and the strange sort of BroMance I have with myself.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Happy New Years and Booby Traps

Happy 2009 to you all! Here's hoping it's a bit more upbeat in terms of economic, social and political stability!

Now that the altruistic stuff is out of the way, I'll get down to the bragging!

The Helm was just featured in a "Best of" press release by Dark Horse Comics. (I didn't use an exclamation point there, even though I wanted to.) The Helm was one of 16 books they singled out as having been singled out by critics for repeated praise during 2008. (Again, no exclamation point, even though it totally would have been warranted.) I like repeated praise. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling comparable to the sensation I get from wearing my new, warm and fuzzy house slippers that I just got for Christmas.

And why did I need new slippers, you may ask? Because my old ones are still in a box in my basement somewhere. Remember that Borg Cube of boxes containing 98% of my family's worldly possessions? Well, the boxes are still there, but they have de-cubed. They have become more amoeba-like over the weeks as we have raided them for various essential items. Now the basement is more like some kind of wickedly clever, booby trapped maze.

Booby trapped. A trap for boobies. Titter titter.

Ever wonder about the origin of the term booby trap? It was not, as it at first appears, coined by tittering fourteen-year-old boys, drunk on the possibility of capturing women's mammary glands for their own nefarious pleasure. No, it refers instead to traps for dumb people--you know, boobs. Boob, in this context, descends from the Spanish "bobo" which means stupid.

That other kind of boob descends (titter titter) from the Elizabethan word "bubbies."

One Elizabethan gentlman to another, "I say, Lord Dodderington, cast thine eyes upon yon bawd! Nice bubbies, what what?"

Lord Dodderington, "I'd fair foin that trollop! Dibs!!"