Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Four Great Movies and The Gone Away World

Somebody asked me for my top ten favorite movies. I hate trying to pin down my favorites like that. There are so many great movies that have affected me deeply. Anyway, while mulling the top ten thing over, I thought of four movies that I love:

Big Trouble in Little China
The Last Dragon
Fight Club
Buckaroo Banzai

These are movies that have impacted what and how I write. If you haven't seen these movies, check them out.

I recently ran across a book that reminded me of all four--that seemed to crystalize the essence of what I love about each one. It's The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway. If you've seen and liked one or more of these movies, do yourself a favor and buy this book.

Of course, the book will probably appeal to lots of folks who don't like these movies too, so don't screen yourself out based only on my feeble comparisons.

What is it I like about these movies (and The Gone Away World)? It's the invention and breathless fun they have with otherwise dire circumstances and the way they convey deep messages while making me laugh. These stories make me feel young.

Anyway, that's what I was thinking.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bulgaria, Toilet Tides and the Death of Argument

I'm feeling all international because somebody from Bulgaria has looked at the Helm comic website! My Google analytics tell me so. For those of you feeling kind of creeped out by my use of Google analytics, particularly my one Bulgarian friend, don't worry--I'm using the disabled free kind of analytics that won't really tell me anything juicy about you like your credit card information or your sexual preferences. For example, I know that one person in Germany looked at the site. I don't know who it is specifically, but I think I have a pretty good guess.

And now, on to the toilet tides. On numerous occasions, I have stood before a toilet and observed small ripples or fluctuations in the water height that occur without apparent source. For those of you about to suggest that these are the after shocks of having used or flushed the toilet (and I know some of you were just about to do that) I make these observations prior to use of the toilets in question. Anyway, I have occasionally wondered what causes these disruptions. Today, I looked it up. According to my friend, the Internet, toilet tides are caused by changes in pressure in the toilet's vent stack pipe. Yes, you read that right. For those non plumbers in the massive audience of this blog, the vent stack pipe vents to the roof of the house and when wind blows across the opening of this pipe, it lowers the pressure in the pipe, causing the water to rise up the pipe and evacuate the toilet.

Apparently, you can duplicate this effect by putting a straw in a glass of water and blowing across the top so that the pressure in the straw goes down and water sucks up the straw out of the glass. Haven't tried it myself yet, but just wait until lunch rolls around!

Finding this answer so quickly led me to a thought. I used to while away countless pleasant hours in heated argument about subjects like the ripples in toilet water, but lately I've noticed that such arguments have dropped off precipitously. I think it may be because the correct answers to so many questions are now so easily, almost instantaneously, knowable. What is the point of pointlessly arguing something when you can discover the answer with the click of a mouse?

Should I worry that the art of pointless argument will fade? Should I assume that pointless argument will simply become more refined by being limited to things that are actually unknowable? In the end, it's hard to say--but at least I know how many Bulgarians are looking at my website and why my toilet water is moving.

Bestseller at Dark Horse and Microwave Diamonds

I just found out that the Helm #1 made the top ten bestseller list at Dark Horse and the Diamond top 300 for July! Whoo Hoo!

Okay, sure, it was #9 at Dark Horse and #274 at Diamond, but at least it cracked both lists. That's got to be worth something.

In other news, someone sent me a link to a video of guys claiming to make diamonds in a microwave oven by coating charcoal briquettes with peanut butter and nuking them for an hour. It's a pretty funny idea until you try it and destroy your pyrex tray and your wife gets mad at you and you don't even really get any of the diamonds you thought were going to make up for smoking up the whole house and kind of trashing a perfectly good microwave. Not that I tried it or anything.

If you'd like to see the video (theirs, not mine) here's the link:

Is there some connection between trying to make diamonds in a microwave and having a best selling comic book? Apart from the obvious one?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Jack Black as Matt and Ben Stiller the Animal Killer

I got another letter today recommending Jack Black should play Matt Blurdy in the Helm, so I figured I’d use my blog to say thanks to everyone who has written in with a suggestion about who should play Matt in the movie version of the Helm. And also, thanks for thinking that the Helm should be made into a movie. That’s always nice to hear.

Basically, everyone recommends one of three guys. Jack Black is clearly the forerunner, but I’ve also gotten multiple votes for both Seth Rogen and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Please feel free to post your own suggestions below.

On the subject of Jack Black, I just saw Tropic Thunder over the weekend. Very funny. But, it confirmed something I’ve been noticing for a while. Ben Stiller likes to fight small, cuddly animals in his films (and often kill them). He fights that dog in Something about Mary. He has trouble with the ferret in Along Came Polly. He fights the monkey in Night at the Museum. Of course, there’s the big animal battle in Tropic Thunder (but I don’t want to give anything away.) Please feel free to post your own Ben Stiller the Animal Killer observations here.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Helm #2

Whoo Hooo! I got my preview copy of the Helm #2 this morning. And that means that issue #2 will be hitting stores on the 20th of this month!

And, in unrelated news, I've also noticed the oncoming resurgence of Neil Patrick Harris. He was mentioned in three unconnected emails I recieved this morning, leaving me with the impression that he is sweeping back like a dark tide. Well, not a dark tide really.

I guess the emails were actually connected by all containing Neil Patrick Harris references--but otherwise they were unconnected. And then, glancing over at a coworker's computer screen, what should I see but Neil Patrick Harris riding on a unicorn. It was an image from the most recent Harold and Kumar movie. So, there you go. That is certainly enough circumstantial, coincidental evidence for me because I am a human with a poorly crafted brain that drips with perceived significance and connection.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Pros of the Con

So, as you may have read, I'm just back from visiting the San Diego Comic Con--my first big Con ever. I'm curious to hear from any of you long time comics fans out there about whether you pick up new books and get introduced to new material at cons or not. I got to meet lots of wonderful folks during my signings, but it was pretty clear that the number of people who hadn't read the book out numbered those who had by at least a factor of ten. I'm curious about whether anybody who hadn't read the Helm prior to dropping by the signing actually checked out the Helm afterwards, and just in general, whether folks who attend cons regularly tend to get exposed to new material that way.

So, leave me a comment if you get a second and let me know what you get out of the Con experience.