Sunday, July 20, 2014

Late To The (Costume) Party

Almost two weeks ago - an eternity in Internet Time - DC unveiled the new design for Batgirl's costume (and a new creative team for the Batgirl series).
It broke the Internet in half, as fans declared their love for it and flooded the Intertubes with their own artwork featuring the new design.
Personally, I think it's fine.  I'm not as in love with it as others are.
In any case, while I'm a bit late to the party, I thought I'd throw in my own contribution, with an observation about how fandom reacted several years back when a certain Amazon Princess had her new look revealed.

Yes, the Internet went "batty" over the new look.  (I'm sorry.)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fantastic Fumble

In the summer of 1989 when everyone in the world was caught up in Batmania as a result of Tim Burton’s Batman and its accompanying marketing and merchandizing blitz, I read an interview in with someone working with/for the film production company Neue Constantin in an issue of Comics Scene magazine.
The person, whose name escapes me after all these years, was talking about the plans for a movie adaptation of the Fantastic Four.
Inspired by the success of Batman, the interviewee felt that the time was right to turn “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” into The World’s Greatest Comic Book Movie.  He went on to say that the movie would have a $40 million budget – comparable to the budget of Batman – and would be a 100% faithful translation of one of the most iconic storylines in the history of the FF, project the “Galactus Trilogy” directly from the pages of the comic and onto the movie screen.
It was a bold proclamation. 
It was also utter bullshit. 
As cool as I thought such a thing would be – and as much as I’d hoped that the success of Batman, despite my antipathy towards the movie, would kick off a wave of good comic book adaptations that showed at least some amount of respect for the source material -  I was already pretty cynical and bitter about the entertainment industry and its treatment of comic book adaptations.  I’d suffered through far too many Superman IIIs, Superman IVs, and the like to hold out much hope for a really good comic book movie.
How hopeful could I be?  This was a time when there was very serious consideration being given to the idea of shaving Arnold Schwarzenegger, painting him blue, and having him play Dr. Manhattan in a Watchmen movie adaptation.
Over the next few years this big-budget FF adaptation didn’t materialize, though I would occasionally see some reference to it being stuck in “Development Hell.”
Somewhere around 1993 I started seeing reports of there being some actual movement on the project, but it wasn’t exactly cause for excitement.
The movie had fallen into the hands of B-Movie legend Roger Corman, and the $40 million budget had been somewhat reduced.
By around $38.5 million.
I started seeing some grainy pictures taken on location in publications like Comic Buyer’s Guide, and, even allowing for the low-quality of the images, they didn’t look terribly promising.
In the meantime, Marvel had suffered some serious failures in its attempts to bring its characters to the silver screen, with abortive attempts at adapting the Punisher and Captain America being two recent (at that time) examples.
It’s difficult to believe, from this vantage point, that there was a time when movies based on Marvel characters not only failed to make all the money in the world, they actually failed to even be seen by anyone other than viewers of late-night cable TV fare.
In any case, the handful of photos seemed to be the only evidence of the movie’s existence, as, despite being completed, it never saw the light of day.
In point of fact, it was never intended for anyone to actually see the movie.  It was only produced for the sake of fulfilling a contractual obligation, with no plans whatsoever for distributing it.
Accounts by those who had seen the completed film confirmed what everyone already knew:  it was a cheap piece of shit.
Bootleg copies of the movie managed to circulate among fans of terrible cinema, and its reputation grew to such an extent that it has become the subject of a documentary.
Throughout the years, it became something of the Holy Grail of bad movies, as I was never able to get my hands on a copy.
All of that changed the other day, and Scott and I sat down to bask in its awfulness.
Here’s a taste:

…and just now, in searching for this trailer, I discovered that the whole damn thing is posted on YouTube.  It never even occurred to me to check.  I could have gotten this painful experience over a long time ago.  Ah well.
If you feel brave enough, you can seek it out yourself and watch it in all its…well, what’s the polar opposite of glory?
I’m not going to provide an in-depth review of the movie, but I will touch on some of the things that stood out for me.

Somewhere between the initial conception of the movie, which was to start in the midst of things with an already-established FF facing off against the world-devouring Galactus, with maybe a quick origin sequence tacked-on, and the final product, Galactus was removed, Dr. Doom became the primary villain, and the whole thing was essentially just an origin story.

It starts out…well, not completely horrible.  Cheap-looking and poorly-acted, sure, but the basics are pretty faithful to the comics, and the plot, such as it is, isn’t really all that awful.  They provide a decent introduction of the character dynamics, and we get an okay origin sequence for Dr. Doom (albeit one with dreadful special effects).  In this regard, it’s superior to the big-budget movie of the 2000s, though that’s not really saying much.  However, it’s all goes spectacularly wrong from there.

Young Sue Storm is played by actress Mercedes McNabb, who, at the time, was best known for her role as Wednesday’s nemesis in the Addams Family movies.  She would eventually go on to be known for her role as Harmony on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.

The “video game” that Ben Grimm and young Johnny Storm are seen playing is very clearly a cartoon.  An obviously traditionally-animated sequence also plays a part in the movie’s denouement.

Reed’s hair is arguably the very worst special effect in the movie.

While they’re marred by shoddy craftsmanship, the costumes are all pretty accurate.  Doom’s design is dead-on, but he looks like someone who might win third or fourth place in a cosplay competition at a small, local comic book convention.

Apparently everyone assumed that Reed and company would die horribly on their mission to space, as the creation of a memorial statue is planned the very same day that they’re reported missing.

Doom’s reaction when “The Jeweler” threatens to kill Alicia is both perfect and hilarious.

The indelible stamp of the Burton Batman movies can be seen throughout – particularly in any scenes involving “The Jeweler” and his henchmen – and I maintain that, even with a big budget, there would have been no way to make a comic book movie in the 1990s that could come close to resembling the approach used in making contemporary comic book movies, because the only way to make a comic book movie at that time was in the Burton mold, at least until Joel Schumacher got his hands on the Dark Knight.  Even setting aside the horror of the casting of Nicolas Cage, I shudder to think what Superman Lives! would have been like had it actually been made.

To go back to that point, every time “The Jeweler” and his crew appeared, I imagined some “note” from a studio executive that said, “You know what people loved?  The Penguin and his carnival of crime in Batman Returns.  Do something like that!  But with 1000% more 3 Stooges-style humor!”

What do you call “Love at first sight” when the person who experiences it is blind?  In any case, having him cause her to break one of her sculptures, feeling up his face, learning that he’s presumed dead, and then learning that he isn’t dead are enough to get Alicia Masters to declare her love for Ben.

Guy playing Dr. Doom:  “No one can see my face behind this mask, so I’m going to have to use my hands to emote.  My hands should never not be moving, even if it means that sometimes I look like I’m dancing the Batusi, or if I’m constantly touching people’s faces in a way that’s inappropriate and creepy.  Acting!”

Despite being an off-the-charts genius and a creative thinker, the only use Reed can think of for his stretching abilities is to grab things that are a few steps away, punch someone without having to get too close, or trip people.  Even to the limited extent that his powers are used, watching the terrible effect is hilarious.

While the make up for the Thing looks cheap and does nothing to create the illusion that it’s anything other than a costume, I can’t really fault the overall design.  Yes, it looked terrible, but there was a clear attempt at accuracy.  They could have worked just a little harder on making him look rocky rather than scaly, but still, I’d give them a C- for the effort.  That said, they should have saved some money and not bothered building the animatronics into his constantly twitching upper lip.

The Human Torch can fly faster than the speed of light, and is invulnerable to a laser beam that has the power to turn New York City into the most ubiquitous stock footage of the effects of a nuclear explosion.

Even when she wasn’t turning invisible, most of the time it was like Sue wasn’t there.  Sadly, that much is an example of being pretty faithful to the comics.

So, yeah.  That’s the 1994 Fantastic Four movie.  Am I glad I finally watched it?  Yes; as a comic book geek and someone who appreciates cheap, terrible movies and the laughs that they bring, I found it well-worth the time.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Shark Weak

As people who enjoy – for a given value of “enjoy” – watching terrible movies, Scott and I had intended to eventually watch Sharknado at some point, but we never managed to catch it during its (*ahem*) whirlwind journey through cultural relevance.
However, we were spared the necessity of sitting through a screening of the movie and providing our own smart-ass commentary on its shittiness by Mike Nelson and the boys over at RiffTrax, who made the pop culture phenomenon the subject of their latest RiffTrax Live! event.
I’m not going to dive (sorry) into the plot of the movie too deeply, but I do want to make a few observations and mention some points of interest.
If you don’t know anything about Sharknado, the basics are that crazy weather is causing massive tornadoes to form over the oceans and heavily-flooded coastal areas in California, and said tornadoes are scooping up sharks out of the water and carrying them around for miles.
It’s a low-budget movie made for SyFy (the former Sci-Fi Channel), and it stars Ian Ziering of Beverly Hills 90210 fame, and Tara Reid, of…well, she’s been in a lot of stuff, but suffice to say that those aren’t the things that she’s really “famous” for, and if SyFy is really scrambling for ideas for a new disaster movie, they could just tell the story of Tara Reid’s life.  (Zing!)

Actually, scratch that.  Okay, SyFy, here’s the pitch:  Mecha-Tara Reid vs. Lindsay Lohanasaurus.  (Call me)
Anyway, you know the basics, so let’s get to my observations:

If you have scars on your leg from what was obviously – based on the title of the movie and your behavior – a shark attack, and you don’t want to talk about how you got them, you feel completely self-conscious when people see them, and you get angry whenever people ask you about them, maybe you should try to find a job where you don’t have to walk around in a bikini all day.  Just a thought.

It seems unlikely that you really have any kind of deep personal feelings for someone if you’ve been around him long enough to, supposedly, develop said deep personal feelings for him, yet you’re completely shocked to discover that he has an ex-wife and two children, one of whom is pretty close to the same age as you.
The character of Joni Wave – who specified that it’s “Joni with an I” every time she mentioned her name – was played by Julie McCullough, who was Playboy’s Miss February 1986*.  She also played the love interest of Kirk Cameron on Growing Pains, but was fired from the show after Cameron learned that she’d appeared in Playboy and decided that working with a former Playmate constituted an attack on his religious liberty.  Actress Chelsea Noble was later brought in to play the part of Cameron’s love interest, and she went on to become Mrs. Kirk Cameron in real life.

The legs of Tasmanians are apparently considered a delicacy by sharks.  They just can’t seem to get enough.
The actress who played Ziering’s daughter is playing the titular role in the upcoming live-action movie adaptation of the cartoon Jem and the Holograms.  That is outrageous.  Truly outrageous.  Truly, truly outrageous, even.  It is not, however, truly, truly, truly outrageous.

Given that it it’s apparently possible to completely stop a sharknado in its tracks by flying up to it in a helicopter and throwing a bomb - made out of a propane tank, an emergency flare, and what looked to me like a smoke alarm - into it, thereby dissipating its energy, one would assume that the same holds true for a tornado that contains no sharks.  This is a trivially simple solution to a large problem, and this indicates to me that FEMA, and indeed, the entire Federal government, and even State and Local governments, are criminally negligent for allowing tornadoes to continue to cause as much damage and loss of life as they do every year.  Surely we could accomplish the same thing via drone strikes.  Unless, you know, the people behind Sharknado were incredibly ignorant and/or stupid.  But surely the people who provided the results of the equation Shark + Tornado could hardly be either of those things.  Therefore, the science must be solid.

Even if it is more age-appropriate, hooking up with the son of the guy you spent most of the movie pining for is pretty fucked up.

“Because Global Warming” has officially earned its place next to “Quantum Physics” and “Humans only use 10% of their brain” in the Lazy Writer’s Toolbox.

During the scene in which our gang of plucky survivors makes a quick stop at a convenience store, I expected them to bump into the gang of plucky survivors from Birdemic:  Shock and Terror.

Sharknado vs. Birdemic.  Seriously, SyFy: Call me.

*When I was working as a janitor while I was in college, one time I found a stack of old Playboys hidden away in one of the janitor’s closets.  Among them was the February 1986 issue.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

When I Think About You I Touch My…Screen

Given that I won’t be buying one (and I didn’t win one in a recent giveaway, dammit), for me, the most interesting aspect of the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 announcement last month was the appearance by someone from Adobe showing off an upcoming version of Photoshop featuring some touch-related enhancements to the venerable image-editing program.
This week, Adobe Creative Cloud Subscribers (like me) were presented with the option of downloading Adobe Photoshop CC 2014, which delivers those enhancements.
…once you figure out how to enable them, anyway.
I had hoped that when I installed in on my Surface Pro 2 it would recognize that touch was available and right off the bat it would be optimized for touch.
Nope.  Doing some digging online revealed that you have to navigate to Edit>Preferences>Experimental Features, check the box for “Use Touch Gestures (Windows only),” close Photoshop, and open it again.
There’s also an option to scale up the interface (more on that in a bit) to make it more finger-friendly, and something related to 3D printing, but I don’t have a 3D printer, so that part was irrelevant for me.
The touch features work pretty much how you would expect them to:  you can pan and zoom and rotate the canvas.
That may not seem like much, but considering that previous versions lacked even those capabilities, it’s a marked – and welcome – improvement.
I’m especially glad to see the ability to rotate the canvas freely by placing two fingers on the screen and turning them in the direction you want to rotate the canvas, as it’s a feature that’s available in Manga Studio that I utilize frequently.
However, I do have some quibbles with Adobe’s implementation.  In Manga Studio there are options for performing the same function via on-screen menu buttons if you’re not working on a touch-enabled screen, including a button for restoring the canvas – or paper, as it’s called in MS – to its original orientation.
No such buttons exist in Photoshop CC 2014, at least as far as I’ve been able to determine.  Also, it was not immediately apparent that there was a way to snap the canvas back into the original orientation (attempting to do so via touch requires more precision than I’m able to manage), but I did find that clicking on the Crop tool will cause it to snap back.
It is possible to rotate the canvas through menu options, but it’s less efficient than the approach that MS takes, which provides a wider larger selection of set increments and a slighter to allow you to rotate in arbitrary increments.  The buttons in MS rotate by 15 degree increments, whereas Ps gives you the option of 90 degrees clockwise or counter-clockwise, and an “Arbitrary” option which presents you with another menu for choosing the increments.
The other quibble I have is that in order to pan you have to use two fingers – in MS, you only need one – which wouldn’t be a problem except that it’s very easy to accidentally rotate the canvas, or to zoom in or out.
As for the scaling, the new Ps allows you to scale up the UI by 200%.  That does make things more finger-friendly, but it seems like a bit much.  125-150% might work a little better, though the optimal solution would be to allow you to choose from several options.
Of course, it’s clear that, based on their presence at Microsoft’s launch event, that Adobe is thinking primarily in terms of higher-resolution displays.  I have no doubt that the 200% scaling works very well with the Surface Pro 3’s 2,160 x 1,440 resolution.
Stepping outside of the limitations with the Adobe product, I’ll mention again that Windows 8.1 could benefit from either more built-in gestures, or the ability to create custom gestures, as while using Photoshop CC 2014 with the UI scaled up I found myself wishing that there were an easy way to quickly clear some of the clutter that the enlarged UI brings with it, freeing up more screen real estate for the canvas.
There is a mechanism for that in Ps itself; hitting the Tab key will show/hide all tool palettes and menus, but that’s of little use if you’re using your Surface device in tablet mode without the keyboard cover attached.  Granted, you could invoke the on-screen keyboard, hit Tab, then close the keyboard, but that’s more effort than is necessary considering that they’re could be a gesture – say, a three-finger tap – that could serve to mimic hitting the Tab key.
Similarly, there could be gestures to perform other commands, such as Copy and Paste, Undo, and Redo.
Windows does have a feature called “Flicks,” which allow you to perform navigation and editing tasks via pen (not touch) gestures, but so far I’ve found them to be rather inadequate for use in any sort of drawing or image-editing software.
On a positive side, palm rejection works extremely well in Ps, primarily because Ps won’t allow you to use anything bout the pen (or mouse) for drawing and editing tasks on the canvas, at least, not that I’ve found.  So, unlike MS (or Sketchbook Express/Pro) there’s never a danger of errant lines showing up on your work should the built-in palm rejection experience any sort of hiccup, or should you place your palm on the canvas while the pen is too far from the screen to register.
Overall, it’s a positive step from Adobe, and I’m willing to cut them a lot of slack given that the touch support it still labeled “experimental.”
There have been some other enhancements to Photoshop as part of the update, but so far I haven’t really managed to delve into them, as the support for touch was the one that I was most interested in trying.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Scratching The Surface

Shortly after I bought my Surface Pro 2, Microsoft announced that they were having a “small” event during which there would be some type of announcement relating to the Surface line.
The immediate speculation was that they were going to announce an 8” Surface Min, and a lot of user-generated renders of what such a device might look like began to, er, surface.
Though I don’t have any particular need for such a device, I was somewhat interested, and decided that, if it hit the right price point, I might consider picking one up as a companion device.
Coincidentally, the day of the event fell on a day that I had taken off from work, so, while I sat drawing (or more to the point, failing to draw) on Odin, my desktop PC, I fired up the webcast of the event on my Surface.
The rumored Surface Mini was nowhere to be seen, however, and it turned out that MS was actually announcing the launch of the Surface Pro 3.



Despite the rumors, I had considered this possibility beforehand and had already worked through my annoyance at the launch of a new and improved Surface Pro so soon after my purchase of the 2, but even so, the announcement did cause me to sigh and shake my head.
While many of the specs represent only incremental improvements, there were some significant changes that I found appealing, such as a higher resolution and a different aspect ratio, which makes the device like a traditional piece of paper in terms of overall size and shape, and an overall decrease in thickness and weight.
They also demonstrated some cool new features of the pen, particularly with regards to One Note.
As an aside, I use One Note a lot, but I feel like there’s more I should be doing with it given its capabilities, but I just can’t seem to find the appropriate use case.
Of particular interest to me was that they managed to all but eliminate the parallax when using the pen.  That is to say that there is virtually no offset between the physical tip of the pen and where it appears on the screen.
However, there was one thing in the announcement that struck me as odd:  a reference to the pen having 256 levels of pressure sensitivity.
Why did this strike me as odd?  Well, my older-model Cintiq has 1,025 levels.  Current-model Cintiqs – including Wacom’s own Cintiq-branded Tablet PC – have 2.048.
My Surface Pro has 1,024 levels, just like the Surface Pro 1.
So why the downgrade?
In reading some of the more in-depth coverage, particularly around the new pen, I found the answer, and even more than the reduction in pressure sensitivity, it gave me pause.
Unlike the previous generations, the SP3 does not come with a Wacom active digitizer, opting instead for a product from N-Trig.

Some of you may recall my experiences with an N-Trig device.
Suffice to say that they were not positive experiences.
Many people online expressed concern about the drop down to 256 levels.  While I did find that troubling, I know from experience that 256 levels still works pretty well – on a Wacom device.
Gabe from Penny Arcade did a post addressing the 256 levels issue (TL; DR is it’s not really an issue).
However, I still have little or no confidence in N-Trig.
A lot of Microsoft-related sites – run mostly by non-artists, for what it’s worth – bundled the concerns about the pressure sensitivity reduction and the shift away from Wacom together and simply dismissed the misgivings expressed by the commentariat as the ravings of neckbeards who are resistant to change.
That’s not it.  At all.  Again, I’m not terribly concerned about the 256 levels thing, though I will say that perception counts, and regardless of how well it works, this looks like a step backwards, and while more knowledgeable users might recognize that it’s not a dealbreaker, the average consumer – regardless of whether or not he or she even understands what it means – might see that change in specs and immediately assume that it’s bad.
But the real issue, for me, is that name:  N-Trig.  And this isn’t because I’m a Wacom fanboy; I would very much like to see Wacom forced to square off against some real competition, as they pretty much own that space (and their prices reflect that fact).
I have no doubt that N-Trig has improved since I last used one of their devices.  That would pretty much have to be the case, otherwise I don’t see how they could still be in business.  I also have no doubt that MS has made absolutely certain that their new flagship device works properly.  Well, I have some doubt, given that hey released the first generation of the Surface Pro without a driver that supported pressure sensitivity in Photoshop, so it’s not like it’s unheard of for them to drop the ball on something like this.
(Speaking of Photoshop, the one piece of good news for me during that event came when a representative from Adobe came out to show off an upcoming update to Photoshop that is more touch-centric.  That is, of course, great for the SP3, but the update will also find its way to everyone with a Creative Cloud subscription, so at some point I’ll benefit from that as well.)
In any case, despite my misgivings about N-Trig, I do understand the reasons for selecting them as a vendor, particularly given that their digitizers are slightly thinner and lighter than Wacom’s, and I do hope that N-Trig can prove to be the competitive force that’s so desperately needed in that market.
But I’m still rather wary.
That said, it’s still not a dealbreaker for me; the fact that I just bought the Surface Pro 2 is what’s keeping me from shelling out the cash to pick up the SP3.
If I were in a position to shell out the money for a Surface Pro 3, I would most likely do so happily, despite my misgivings, as it does provide a lot of compelling advantages over its older sibling.  Still, while considerable progress has been made, MS hasn’t quite nailed the formula yet and it’s not quite perfect.  The typing experience, by most accounts, still needs some improvements, particularly if you are one of those people who takes – or has to take – the term “laptop” literally (I personally tend not to be one, as an extended period of typing with a keyboard, any keyboard, placed in my lap is unworkable), and even setting aside the physical issues of typing via the Touch or Type Cover, there’s the issue of the cost; Type Covers need to be included in the base purchase price.  Period.  No debate.
I understand the position MS has taken; people like being able to choose different colors for their Type Covers, so they don’t want to bundle them with the Surface.
I also think that position is bullshit.  They’re no reason that they can’t bundle them together and still have different color choices. 
But even if they can’t, they still need to drop that cost down to $0.  You have money to spare, Microsoft…eat the cost.
Because what you don’t have is mindshare, and as long as the keyboard is a pricey add-on, you’re not going to get it.
Yes, I know; iPads and Android tablets don’t include keyboards, but, per your own marketing, that’s not the segment of the market you’re trying to compete with.  The Macbook Air got mentioned a lot in the Surface event.  And guess what?  The keyboard for that isn’t optional.
Again, eat the cost.  There are plenty of avenues for making up the cost via accessories, such as replacement pens, docking stations, power covers, and so on.  Whatever happened to that whole Blades concept?
You also need to figure out a better method for storing the pen.  The loop included for it on the – optional – keyboard cover isn’t a solution, nor is the simple magnetism that holds it in place in various locations on the Surface itself.
Start addressing these concerns – and develop a good marketing strategy – and you’ll definitely have a winner on your hands, one that has the potential to redefine computing for years to come.
And you’ll also have a basis for expanding the Surface family of products.  What about a Surface All-In-One?  How about a Surface-branded Windows Phone?
In fact, if you were to say to me that you would be releasing a 5” Surface Phone with a high-resolution screen, active digitizer with pen (with integrated storage), and VaporMg casing, I would say to you, “Yes, please.”
With all of that said, while I won’t be picking up a Surface Pro 3, I hope it does well enough for me to have the option of picking up a Surface Pro 4 when the time comes.
And, you know, if some wealthy reader were feeling generous, or if Microsoft said, “Here, Jon, have a Surface Pro 3 on us,” I certainly wouldn’t object…

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Because Of Course I Have

Over in the Archie Comics corner of the comics universe, a story is underway in which they will be – sort of – killing off the eternal teenager who serves as the publisher’s namesake.
I say “sort of” because it’s happening in just one of the comics they publish, a series entitled Life With Archie, which, inasmuch as there’s any real continuity in Archie comics, is an out of continuity comic.  That’s my understanding, at least: I occasionally read things about Archie Comics, but I don’t actually read any of the comics themselves, and haven’t done so for decades.  The closest I’ve come is reading the utterly fantastic Criminal:  The Last of the Innocent, which, deservedly so, was on all sorts of “best of” lists a few years back.
(Archie tends to be in the news – at least the comics news – frequently, as they’ve done a lot of interesting things lately, such as introducing an enormously popular openly-gay character, launched a horror comic called Afterlife With Archie, with a complementary horror-centric Sabrina the Teenage Witch comic on the way, and apparently* they tagged Girls creator Lena Dunham to write a comic.)
In any case, the upcoming issue featuring the final fate of young Mr. Andrews is going to feature a lot of variant covers by different artists, including this fantastic cover by AH! himself, Adam Hughes.
Earlier today I shot the link above to Scott, which prompted the inevitable question:  Betty or Veronica?
I replied that for years my default answer, without even really thinking about it, was Betty.  Granted, Veronica is rich, and, in theory more physically attractive than Betty (in practice, owing to the general artistic style of Archie Comics, they tend to look the same, just with different hair), and I do tend to prefer dark-haired women to blondes, but Betty wins out largely due to her personality.  She’s more good-natured, less high-strung, and not nearly so high-maintenance.
However, in recent years I’ve found myself drifting a little more towards Team Veronica.  Ultimately, my answer hasn’t changed – it’s still Betty.  However, it’s not as reflexive a response as it once was.
After explaining all of this, I said, “And yes, I have thought about this a lot.”
Because of course I have.
So what has changed over the years to make me less steadfast in my choice?  (By the way, in a perfect world, my answer to the question “Betty or Veronica?” would be “Yes.  And also Midge.  And Josie.  And the Pussycats.  And Sabrina.”)
Scott asked if I’d become a gold digger.  It’s not that, though sure, the money would be appealing.  If anything, it’s just that I’ve become more shallow.
But no, it’s not really that, either.  Despite the fact that I’ve thought about it a lot, I’m not really sure that I know the answer, other than that when I was younger, I was more drawn to the tomboy, girl next door type, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve developed more of an appreciation for the more, for want of a better term, girly types.  At the very least, I can appreciate someone who is very well put-together.
(And yes, this is all horribly objectifying, but we are talking about actual objects, given that neither Betty nor Veronica is a real woman, and to the extent that this is at all applicable to real women, it’s more to do with general archetypes than anything else.  Or something.  And of course it should go without saying that the assumption is that we’re talking about adult versions of Betty and Veronica.)
The other questions that this discussion raised was, beyond the obvious “Because of course I have” response, why have I given this a lot of thought?
As mentioned, I don’t actually read any of the comics, so what brings it to mind?  Well, Betty and Veronica’s floating heads adorn one of the signs on my spinner rack, so that’s probably part of it, but really it’s just a matter of spending a lot of time thinking about all sorts of comic book women.
Comics do, after all, play a big role in who I am, and my interest in them is something of a defining characteristic.  It’s only natural, then, that comic book women have an impact on my thoughts about and interactions with actual women.  I’ve mentioned in other posts about how certain women in comics have had an influence on the kind of women I’m attracted to.
And the fact is that I spend more time thinking about women like Lois Lane, Jinal, Zatanna, Kitty Pryde, and a host of others, but Betty and Veronica find their way into the mix as well.
One of these days I might get around to actually writing up a post exploring just what impact the fictional women listed above have had on my feelings about actual women – at least in terms of what qualities I find attractive – but this isn’t that post.
Mostly I just wanted to get you all to look at that awesome AH! cover, and also share my amusement at my own statement about thinking about this a lot.

*That’s a sarcastic “apparently.”  I’ve got a news app on my phone that, amongst other things, is set to find me articles about comics.  At the time that the Dunhman-penned story was announced, there was a period of several days in which the only results I got – mostly from non-comics news sources – were about Lena Dunham writing an Archie story.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Night Randomness

Last week Scott and I went to see the new Godzilla movie.  I really liked the parts that prominently featured the titular King of All Monsters…which is to say that I liked about 5% of the movie.
I will say that there is an interesting movie to be made focusing on the lives of the people impacted by the devastation caused by giant, rampaging monsters, especially if it’s one that has the features the caliber of talent that was found in Godzilla…but that’s not the movie I paid to see.
Also:  too damn many kids.
I described the movie to Scott as being “Godzilla-adjacent.”
But given the success of the movie, which led to the already-announced sequel, I’m definitely in the minority on this one.

***

One of the main characters in the movie was played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, star of the Kick-Ass movies, whom I totally didn’t recognize.  His wife in the movie was played by Elizabeth Olsen.  I was amused by this, as he will be portraying Quicksilver in Avengers 2, and Olsen will be playing The Scarlet Witch.  I just found it kind of funny, as in this movie they played a husband and wife, while in their upcoming roles they’ll be portraying siblings.
It actually gives their upcoming roles an Ultimates vibe…

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On the topic of Quicksilver, thanks to a strange arrangement involving movie rights, Quicksilver was also able to appear in X-Men:  Days of Future Past, which Scott and I saw earlier today, and I have to say that, despite how goofy he looked in publicity photos, he was pretty awesome.
Overall, I think Singer and company did a very good job of adapting a classic story from the comics given the characters and the particular version of the X-verse they’ve constructed in the movies, but in a lot of ways it kind of suffers in comparison to the source material.
One thing the movie did have going for it, though, was that, unlike the original story, written at a time when the character didn’t exist, was the presence of Blink.  Just seeing her on the screen made me happy, though I can’t really articulate why.  It also helped that, as presented, she was pretty awesome.  Which is how it should be.

***

At work there are signs all over the place stating that “ID Badges Must Be Visible At All Times,” yet people ignore them.  This annoys me.  Not because people are breaking the rules – I don’t particularly care about that – but because not having them out and visible leads to me witnessing the same scene every day, usually with the same people, as the flagrant rule-breakers are rushing towards the entrance in the morning and are then stopped short and forced to rummage through their purses or laptop bags to dig out their IDs in order to let themselves into the building.
If you followed the rules, your badge would always be readily-accessible!

I don’t know why that annoys me so much, but it does.  I guess just because it’s the same people doing the same goddamn thing day after day after day.

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Speaking of “day after day,” once a song shuffles into rotation on my iPod, which spends its life plugged into my alarm clock, it tends to be the song that wakes me up for a long stretch of time, as I never hit snooze, so the song only plays for a few seconds at a time.
For the past week or so the song that’s been waking me up is Nick Cave’s “Where Do We Go Now But Nowhere?”
This morning, that resulted in me being awoken by Nick singing, “Wake up, my love, my lover wake up.”
Awkward.
Listen, Nick, we’re just friends, okay?
On the other hand, it will be utterly appropriate when the day comes upon which I’m awoken by the words, “Gloomily, mournfully, we go ‘round again, and one more doomed time, and without much hope, going ‘round and around to nowhere…”

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Still, I do like it when there’s a certain synchronicity with lyrics, such as when I’m awoken by the song “Wake Up” by Mad Season, or “Wake Up Dead” by Megadeth

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As I pulled in to the parking garage by the theater today I noticed a security guard on a Segway and thought, “Huh.  That’s new.”
When I was walking out of the parking garage, he began chatting me up about my car.  Apparently he’s something of a CX-5 fanboy.  It was all kind of…odd, particularly with the way he was just sort of bobbing up and down on the Segway while we talked.

***

A while back on my way out to my car in the morning a deer went rushing past me.  It happened so quickly that it took me several seconds to figure out what had just happened.
The other day while I was out on the smoking deck at work, I was nearly hit by another deer, which was, frankly, even more unexpected than the one that dashed through my yard.
The next day on the way out to the smoking deck I encountered an apparently suicidal field mouse that seemed determined to get stepped on.
I managed to avoid any random animal encounters today.