"This is MY story": The next generation of interactive storytelling.

I always wondered about my place in the story. A lot of people do that. They see themselves in different characters. I suppose there's a lot of boys who have imagined themselves as Luke Skywalker or Han Solo. Then there's people who put themselves in the story. They create their own character based on themselves and imagine how the story would change around them. There's a lot of fanfiction based on this. Seems quite a few kids imagined themselves being the newest member of the X-Men or another team like that.

Along came Choose Your Own Adventure with a series of books in which readers took control of the story. They were geared towards younger readers and written in the little used second person tense. Readers were prompted to pick between multiple decisions, some of which continued the narrative. Some brought the story to a rather abrupt and often unpleasant end. There were also multiple positive endings and ways of reaching them. This line of books spawned others in what would become known as "game books". My brother and I were very found of the ones featuring G.I.Joe in which you became the newest member of the team. I also found an old copy on "Wizards, Warriors and You" on my bookshelf written by none other than R.L. Stine before his days writing GOOSEBUMPS.

It's pretty easy to navigate your way through interactive media when its in print. You can see right there on the page where to go next and respond appropriately. As such this sort of storytelling stayed in print until technology could catch up with it. It did in the form of video games.

Over the years video games have become a legitimate story-telling medium. Telling a story in video game is inherently interactive. The player has to advance the narrative. Early on it wasn't much of a story.

Monkey has taken girl. Must rescue girl. Oh crap, he's throwing barrels at me.

This is mainly due to the limitations of the hardware and the software of the day. As these improved, so did the story.

Giant lizard thing kidnaps Princess in a mythical kingdom. I'm a plumber that can jump really high. Whoa! Mushrooms and plants give me super powers! I'm going to get past monsters and save the princess!

And it went on from there, but eventually something new arose: the alternate ending. This started popping up in games here and there. In the early days of video games there was no "beating" the game. You played until the space aliens got you, your cities were all destroyed by the missiles or that big monkey finally took you out with the barrels. Then, along the time of the coming of Nintendo, video games had their Final Crisis in which the people creating these games had to ponder, how are we going to end this thing? Yes there were games that had endings before then, most notably the arcade classic Dragon's Lair and Space Ace, however these were the exception. Nintendo brought the platform game to a whole new level and like any platform game you needed a story.

Everything you did in these games advanced your character towards an ending, but later which ending you got would become the question. Konami gets my attention here with their Castlevania series. This series of games was personal favorite of mine, and really did interesting things with it's storylines. The third installment offered a set of partner characters and different routes to take through the game, thus changing the narrative and the ending. The pinnacle of the series was it's debut on Playstation: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. For a long time I thought I had that game all figured out and had beaten it multiple times. I later realized that wasn't even halfway through the game yet.

This brings us to alternate narratives within games. Games like the GRAND THEFT AUTO series allow players to roam the virtual world doing all sorts of things and but the main story is pretty straight forward and the main missions drive the main narrative. FINAL FANTASY VII had extra character you could acquire and even had a scene in which the main character met up with another for a date if his previous interaction with her had been nice. If not, them the date did not happen. Players were used to controlling their characters on the screen but now they were starting to control the story.

HEAVY RAIN is looking to expand on this. While this game does have it's faults, it certainly is innovative. The story changes depending upon the players actions and decisions. I'm not sure if previous gaming systems could handle something like this. Voice acting has to be done for multiple different reactions. Scenes have to be done and redone in case certain characters aren't there or have done things to make people react differently to them. It's really a hell of an undertaking. I talked with a Gamestop employee and he said that the game is selling very well. Its a pretty hot item. I haven't played it due to a lack of Playstation 3 which won't be changing any time soon, but now I'm wanting one. With the amount of content that can be but on those game dicks HEAVY RAIN will likely only be the start of a new wave of interactive narratives in video games.

Video games aren't the only medium making strides in interactive storytelling. With the coming of DVDs movies makers had a lot more options on the table. Interactive movies haven't made much of a splash beyond a few POV porn videos. However, then comes the internet and YouTube specifically. YouTube has opened the door for many movie makers and now they've got the potential to make interactive media available right on your computer. At the forefront of interactive narratives on Youtube is CHAD, MATT AND ROB who have put up multiple interactive stories. I e-mailed Rob Polonski about these endeavors, and I'll be damned, he actually e-mailed me back!

MN: Did any of you read the old "Chose Your Own Adventure" books, and if you did, how much of an influence were they?

RP: I'm sure we've all, at some point, gotten our hands on one of those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. Something about them felt so magical, almost as an illusion that made the story so big and endless. It was always fun going back to see what happened if you chose differently.

We're all about telling a great story and creating likable and fun characters. Using the tools that YouTube provided -- we realized we could do a "Choose Your Own" type story. We wanted to recreate the experience you'd get from the books, but more importantly, make it our own. That's when we came up with the name "Interactive Adventure" .

MN: Are you considering doing anything like a DVD release or are current plans to remain as an online presence?

RP: We're currently developing our Interactive Adventures to bring to television. We've been using the web as a way to showcase our content. Our primary goal is to crossover into more traditional media such as TV and Film while we maintain a strong presence on the web. We've written a pilot, developed a couple Interactive TV concepts and are working on a feature.

MN: Are there plans for a storyline with multiple positive endings and/or multiple "routes" to achieve a positive ending?

RP: We've tried that in "The Murder" where there we're three separate story lines and over 30 different videos, but the reaction from the audience wasn't as good as with a much shorter adventure. We've learned to keep the adventures simple and focus on creating a great story.

MN: I saw that you guys go featured on YouTube. Congrats! How much of a traffic bump did that get you?

RP: Thanks so much! Every time you have an opportunity like that, to be front and center on YouTube's homepage, your views, subscribers, etc. get a nice bump up. But viewership & numbers is not, or never will be our focus. It's all about and always will be about creating the best content possible.

MN: Right now your adventures are fairly short in length. Is there anything in works that's of a larger scale where the story would be feature length or comparable?

Yes! We've written a bunch of Adventures and we're developing an Interactive TV series. There's just so much potential, it's super exciting!

I would have asked him about the creative process of making one of these adventures, but they already handled that.

So where is this going? Well, pretty much the sky's the limit. Blu-rays are pretty ridiculous, but they hold an obscene amount of content. I expect to see more games like HEAVY RAIN. I also expect more interactive adventures to come up from various sources on YouTube and other nu-media, although I expect Chad, Matt and Rob to stay ahead of the curve for quite a while.

Eyes open, people. There's stories out there and people are willing to give them to you so can make them yours. Turbines to speed. There's narratives to drive.

DC Comics Presents: The Spectre

I'm not much of a fan of the character. I don't really dislike him, but I don't go out of my way to keep up with what's going on with him. So, when I saw the JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS had an extra short feature on it starring the Spectre I wasn't overly excited.

I just got done watching it, and it was really really good.

This short had the feel of a 50s cop show and combined it with a brutal horror movie. I perked up when I saw Steve Niles (30 DAYS OF NIGHT) had written it. Great story, great animation, outstanding voice acting especially from Gary Cole as Jim Corrigan. What really hit me was the music. It gave it a really awesome old school detective show feel. That's the kind of thing I want in my extra features on a DVD.

The kids are alright

The Kyoshinkan Karate Demo Team had their first competition yesterday at the Beach Blast here in Virginia Beach. I've trained the majority of the team members at one time or another but the credit goes to Bill and Kathy Geissuebel who have coordinated the effort and really made them a team. The team is all teenagers and they bring everything they've got to the table. I was fortunate enough to contribute a little something to the routine in choreography, which I hadn't done in a while but it felt really good.

I've told them, as have Bill and Kathy, that going out there and giving it your best is more important than winning first place. Compete with dignity. Put in the work ahead of time because preparation is what brings success. They've been working for weeks on this.

No wonder they won first place.

Great job Nicole, Anthony, Ashley, Beau, Shannon, Ben and Michelle! I'm proud of you!

Haiti reconstruction gets seriously cool

Yeah, the disaster in Haiti has been truly horrible and kudos to everyone who has donated money and goods to help out. And yes I know "We are the World" got covered and the video is playing and it raised a lot of money and that's a really good thing. The problem is, it's just a really crappy song.

And now for something much cooler.

Yes children, that IS Nick Cave and Chrissie Hynde and Johnny Depp.

Freakin' cool. And all for a good cause.

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

Warning!!!!!! Below, there be spoilers! They'll swallow ye whole, they will!

Let's answer the big question right now: is it any good? Sure, it's alright. The story is alright. The animation is really solid. There were plenty of nice little touches here and there to keep me engaged. Still, I wasn't as fully engaged as I would have liked to have been, and I know exactly who to blame for this: Grant Morrison.

Of course he didn't do it intentionally, but after reading his work, JLA: EARTH 2, I came to the table with preconceived notions. This is completely unfair of me, especially to Dwayne McDuffie. I'm going to say for the record that I like McDuffie's work and his writing on this project was very good. He put in some things that I really got a kick out of, mainly appearances by Aquaman and Firestorm. In fact the only thing that I really didn't like was the romance between Rose Wilson and J'onn J'onzz. So what's by problem?

Morrison teamed up with Frank Quitely to create JLA: EARTH 2. This book is well worth picking up and features some of Quitely's best artwork. The story involves Lex Luthor from the anti-matter universe coming to the matter universe to ask for help from the Justice league to help defeat their anti-matter counterparts, The Crime Syndicate. This is the same premise as the the movie, minus the matter/anti-matter bit. It's simply and alternate universe or parallel dimension.

That's fine, no trouble there. In fact since the publication of EARTH 2, DC has reintroduced the concept of a "multiverse" (multiple versions of the same universe which are separated but linked) back into current continuity. The multiverse concept was dropped during CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS which saw the demise of the Crime Syndicate due to their world being one of the first to be destroyed.

I'm pretty sure my problem revolves around Owlman, the alternate version of Batman. In the comic he was evil, no, check that, eeeeeeeeevil. He took great delight in the murder and mayhem he caused in his crusade to destroy his father. The Owlman in the movie was a nihilist who saw free will as being none existent and choice to be meaningless. A character being depicted as different between one medium and another is nothing new, and not really something I really quibble over unless it's a complete departure. However, this motivation of character is key to both stories.

In EARTH 2, Owlman finds himself in the positive matter world and makes a crucial discovery. In that world his father is dead and because of that he has nothing to strive for. Owlman's motivation is revenge against his father for what he perceives is his father's failure to protect his mother and brother. So, with his father's counterpart gone he has nothing to strive for. He can't win. As it turns out the entire Crime Syndicate can't win in the positive matter universe and inversely the Justice league's efforts in the anti-matter universe were doomed to failure. The story had a nice yin and yang type balance to it.

In CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS, McDuffie borrows a bit from other DC material, mainly COUNTDOWN and 52. The concept of an "Earth Prime" as a linchpin world in the multiverse is used. We also get to see a heroic version of The Joker, called The Jester, which seems very much like The Jokester who was one of the few good things about COUNTDOWN. These are not bad things, but I think that's why I couldn't really get into it. Owlman's goal is to destroy Earth prime and by extension the multiverse. The motivations just did not grab me as much as Morrison's Owlman.

Batman and Owlman are indeed polar opposites in this movie. It's not so much good versus evil so much as Batman representing survival and perseverance and Owlman wanting to commit suicide and take everything with him.

Also this movie doesn't make me think as much as the book did. Its easy enough to imagine all the good guys being bad guys and vice versa. However, imagining a world where evil and good as concepts are reversed takes a lot more intellectual candlepower.

Bottom line: rent it, or buy it if you did good action and the Justice League. Skip the two-disk pack as disk two only contains a couple of rather lackluster JUSTICE LEAGUE episodes and a documentary about DC comics and how Dan DiDio perceived the September 11th attacks changing what people wanted in comics, and everyone musing about everything I don't care about in the DCU. Get the cheaper version and enjoy.

Wounded little bird

My blog has lost one of its precious followers! Where have I gone wrong? Was it my loving mockery of my mother's impending cyborginess? Was it the attempted instigation of fangirl combat over Ron Perlman? Did they get hit with the JPI virus and blame me? Maybe it was my assertion over in Google Buzz that mistaking Tiger Woods for Barack Obama during his well covered reading time is in no way racist.

I doesn't matter. I have sinned and the internet has taken a follower from me, who I'm pretty sure was a real person. Mostly sure. At least a 50/50 shot.

BUT THEY'RE GONE! Now all my horrible neurotic abandonment issues are coming screaming back like they did last summer during the Twitter mystery when I'd sit hunkered over my Crackberry wondering if my new follower was indeed a real person, and crying silently when they went away after trying to get my buy stuff or view their webcam. THIS IS NOT HELPING THE HOLE IN MY SOUL, PEOPLE!


I'm such a wounded little bird.

I'm going to go wear black, read a bunch of Alan Moore comics and be emo now.

Where my head is at.

I'm going to be hard at work typing up a nifty little piece this weekend and here's a little preview of some of the source material. Enjoy.

Video courtesy of Chad, Matt and Rob.

Long Live The Batman

I warn you now, by clicking the link you will see not only the most amazing submission letter to a comic book publisher of all time, but you will be sucked in and forced to end everything you post online with "LLTBM".

Click for nearly unspeakable, incomprehensible weird.

Don't come crying to me and claiming I didn't warn you. And if you live in Wisconsin, don't let the sharks get you.


I'm not alone!

I made the joke about how it seems like the current trend in television is that adoption is bad and it leaves a giant gaping hole in your soul. That comment made a very compelling story just a bit head-desky today.

I'd put in tags for this posts, but I don't want Google ads to hit me with a barrage of ads for adoption agencies and ways of "finding my family" again.

My Mother: THE CYBORG!

It is well known that as a martial arts master and all that I have amazing cat-like reflexes. While it was my father who taught me actual fighting technique, it was my mother who honed my reflexes and shortened my reaction time to that of a predatory jungle cat. You see, dear ol' Ma is half deaf and would often accuse me of sneaking up on her. This made getting a glass of apple juice a bit of a feat considering I often had to duck to prevent from being waffled.

But now she has had enough! Home remedies have not worked. It's time for SCIENCE! She'll hopefully be having the procedure soon.

This is a before picture, taken with one of the kids at Christmas.

This is of course and artist's interpretation of after the procedure and may not be completely accurate since the gun will much likely be larger to easier facilitate her roasting my sorry ass. Afterward she plans on having BIG SCIENCE ACTION ADVENTURES with a team of clever space/time explorers.

What she is really having done is getting a Baha (Bone Amplified Hearing Aid), which is often referred to as a Baha Hearing Aid which is stupid because that makes it a Bone Amplified Hearing Aid Hearing Aid. This thing is pretty damn cool. It actually is attached to your head and uses you skull to transmit a signal straight to your inner ear. Its really helped a lot of people.

There are some risks however. For one, my mother's head will now be battery powered. What would happen if the batteries run out and she doesn't have any spares? Will she have to get her head jump started to hear? And where will they attach the jumper cables?!

Also, just how strong is that Baha? Will she be able to hear a fly fart across the room? Could she possibly tune it in to hear conversations in other rooms, thus becoming a key figure for her employers who could use her for industrial espionage? If she could it would be kinda a waste that she works for the City. WAIT! She could spy on other cities! She could tune it into the impulses sparking along the neurons of the brain! MY MOTHER CAN READ YOUR MIND!!!!

What would happen if this thing really malfunctioned? It was rough enough for her having to deal with me and my brother for all those years. Anyone would be a few tacos shy of a number 4 combo from that. What if the Baha inexplicably malfunctioned and she started hearing voices? Voices that seem to come out of the ether to her, but are really AM radio waves. She could have the voice of Glen Beck echoing through her skull!!! THE HORROR!!!!!!

So here's hoping things go smoothly for Hootie Nozz, my mother the cyborg.

Interesting person of the month: Kat Hogan

I like talking with people, and by golly, Kat Hogan is a person. Does the name sound familiar? It should if you've been following Duck and Cover Studios for a while. Kat's been a regular contributor on Tales of Night Life and was the artist for our Twitter mystery Lost to Chaos last summer. Let's get to know her a little better, shall we?

Marty Nozz: Alrighty, first off, thanks for volunteering to be my first interview for the blog. Let's start with some basics for those who don't know you: what do you do as far as day job?

Kat Hogan: I am that laziest of creatures, a college student. I'm afraid I don't have gainful employment just now, except for studying to be a history major.

Student by day and artist by night?


Let's talk about your nighttime artistic activities. You've been drawing live of Livestream, correct?

Occasionally, yes. If I'm drawing on Livestream it generally means I've made a thread about it and invited a small community to come and take a gander at what I'm doing.

Is this an invitation only thing or can anyone come and check it out?

Oh, it's definitely a thing to which anyone can come, it's just usually not a thing too many people know about.

And where can folks find you on there?

Here. I've usually got this show about bikers running when I'm not livestreaming. Not entirely sure how to turn it off, actually. It's still a pretty new program for me.

What type of things can viewers expect to see you working on?

Mostly little sketches for the people in the forum threads I make, occasionally commissions for Gaia; basically line art and the occasional more finished work with coloring. I'm hoping to do more painterly pieces in the future, though. Effective color use has been something that escapes me.

So what are the weapons of choice for your artistic endeavors?

Um, I vary things up a little. On the rare lovely occasions I get to do life studies, I prefer charcoal for its speedy expressiveness, but if it's just me doing little doodles, I use pencil and ink, and watercolors when I need to make things a little brighter. Lately I've started becoming a dab hand with a tablet, and digitally my weapon of choice is Photoshop. Ink-wise I used to mostly use dip-pens, but brush inking has grown on me lately.

Sounds like quite an artistic arsenal. What's been your most challenging commission thus far?

Um, hard to say. If I'm having a problem with a commission it's more that I'm having difficulty generating interest in a subject than any kind of technical approach. It's unprofessional of me, but there it is. I suck at drawing things that bore me. So, er, my most challenging commission has been this realistic portrait of a princely avatar. But I haven't had terribly many commissions in my brief career.

What work have you been the proudest of?

Oh wow, that's a tough question. God. Well, perhaps one of my final projects back in the days when I was still an art major. We were required to do a "masterwork" for our drawing class, picking an established artist and trying to mimic their style. I convinced my teacher that Mike Mignola, the artist who got me started drawing seriously in the first place, was a worthy choice for this assignment, and got started. In retrospect it was probably the most serious I'd ever been about an art project. I went out and bought props, and I made this poor boy I was friends with stand for at least an hour posing so that I could get the drawing just right. He even drove me out to get the apron I needed him to wear. A real sweetheart. I still love the underdrawing a bit more, but the end result I still have and enjoy.

OH NOES HE HAS A RAZOR D: by ~anoneemoose on deviantART
Right, I'm reminded that it was THREE hours, and he was one hell of a dude to put up with it. Here's the final project itself:

Sweeney Todd by ~anoneemoose on deviantART

"God, that's good!" You mentioned Mignola. Which other artists do you draw inspiration from?

Well Mignola was my first major influence, that really shocked me into trying to draw for myself. Beautiful design and German Expressionistic tones. He and Jamie Hewlett kind of defined my high school art career, along with Gustav Klimt and later Egon Schiele. Back in the day Jamie Hewlett's influence was pretty incredibly apparent, but I like to think I kind of found my own style since then and I don't seem to mimic much of anyone. There are so many artists that I find amazing and inspiring, that it's hard to pick out any but the earliest. I suppose recently the artist who's been inspiring me most is this European gentleman who goes by the name of Sublimate in some channels. He's running a webcomic over on his Furaffinity account that would knock your socks off. Lovely page design, intriguing world-setting, and compelling story-telling.

We've delved into the past. Let's look at the future. Got anything in the planning stages for us to look forward to?

Well the only thing I'm really trying to fashion into a story revolves around this character of mine who, through various internet vagaries, transformed into something completely different than what I originally meant him for, and thus became a lot more interesting.

Is this possibly going to be a webcomic?

If it ever sees the light of day, then yes, it will definitely be a webcomic. It'll be set in the early 1920s or right beforehand; I'm obsessed with research, so I have a lot more reading to do before I come up with a plot I'm entirely satisfied with. The lead is a veteran of World War One dealing with "shellshock" and going on with life after the traumatic experiences of war. Unfortunately, I've always been more interested in World War Two, so this has been a real undertaking for me study-wise.

It almost sounds like being a History Major is a cunning ruse to do research for your project.

You would think, but alas, it doesn't seem to coincide with what I'm researching too often. Although that Pirates and Smugglers course should come in handy on the whole bootlegging angle.

Wow. The things you can study for college credit nowadays. Ready for the Lightning Round?

Hoo, okay. I think I'm all warmed up. Hit me with it.

Preferred Aquaman: beard or no beard?

Definitely beard. As long as it's an OUTRAGEOUS! beard.

If you could pick one person, living or dead, to kick in the nuts, who would it be?

An intriguing notion, and I suppose, er. Henry David Thoreau.

Your preferred apocalypse?

I think as apocalypses go I'd be cool with mutually assured nuclear destruction. Less disturbing than zombies, more realistic, and no religious qualifiers entering into the business. It'll be one hell of a screw-up, but by God it'll be our screw-up...also I really want to play Fallout sometime, it looks awesome.

Breakfast for dinner: what's on your menu?

Cereal, eggs, or toast. It's nice to have a little variety I find.

Favorite online hangout?

I tend to have lots that I flit form back and forth, but IRC channels, while slow, tend to be a good gathering when they aren't chock-full of inanities.

What's in the CD player right now?

I'm listening to it on Youtube, actually, but it's George London singing "Abendlich Strahlt der Sonne Auge", from Wagner's Rheingold. I'm not usually one for opera, but this guy had such an amazing voice. Tears to my eyes most every time.

Final question: what percentage of your soul would you give to Guillermo Del Toro to be in the next Hellboy movie?

Oh lord. ...well, I love both Del Toro and Hellboy, but... is. Is 25% stake too much a claim?

It seems like a solid offer, but this is soul bargaining, not Texas Hold 'Em.

I'll just have to leave it at that. Unless they offer Ron Perlman into the bargain somehow.

And if the deal involves makeout scene with Perlman in full Hellboy make-up?

....all bets might be off. Non-make upped is fine. God, I am such a creepy fangirl. Whatever, Ron Perlman is magnificent.

Thus concludes the interview. Any final thoughts?

Nothing coherent in nature, I suppose. Thanks for the consideration, it's really been an honor.

For your listening pleasure...

The Green Hornet theme song as played by a robot.

China has spoken

The message in my fortune cookie from tonight's takeout:

"The night life is for you."

Can't ignore that. This weekend shall be productive.

Kinda saw that one coming

I was stuck watching CNN while working in a house yesterday because we were worried that if we changed the channel to something more interesting, like Cartoon Network, we wouldn't be able to get the TV back to the proper channel and the homeowners seem to really like their news stations. Work was going alright and then the story broke about the loon that flew his plane into the building in Texas.

First thought: "Wow. Pretty scary."

Then the report came across that there were federal offices in the building.

Second thought: "Possible terrorist strike."

Then it was reported that it was IRS offices.

Conclusion: "Some one was really pissed off about their taxes."

Three hours later, turns out I was right. They even had that nut's manifesto. Note to everyone: if someone has a manifesto, they often should be given a wide birth, and probably watched carefully.

This was pretty weak reporting. Fox news Radio was leaps and bounds ahead of what CNN had. I'm not being partisan here, I'm commenting on the quality of reporting. It was like CNN was sitting there filming and talking to everyone that would speak to them and just waiting for the story to come out. By the time I was getting my lunch Fox was reporting that they'd found the guy's name, spoken to his family and confirmed that he was the nut in question.

The eye witness reports on CNN were just awful. "Well, I was getting my Lexus serviced and...." DOUCHE! Just had to tell everyone you drive a Lexus, didn't you! I'm just waiting for the day when a news story like this hits and the eye witness is just completely over the top.

Witness: "Well, I was in an alley near the scene getting a blowjob from some guy I met in Starbucks about an hour ago. I heard the plane as it approached." (Note: I can say "blowjob" here because the USA Network can show Julia Roberts saying it on a movie just before lunchtime.)

CNN reporter: "Did the plane sound odd to you? Like it was too close or if it sounded like it had engine trouble?"

Witness: "Oh, I don't know. I was more interested in whatever-his-name-was and my latte. Both were fabulous."

CNN reporter: "What was your reaction when the plane made impact?"

Witness: "I screamed."

CNN reporter: "The impact was that frightening?"

Witness: "Not really, but it hit, he bit. He ran away, and when I finally came out of alley after crying for a good twenty minutes I saw the smoke and you guys. I just thought I'd come over see what was going on because there's cameras and stuff."

CNN reporter: "Oh. Well thank you for you time."

Witness: "My pleasure. I'm going to go see if this needs stitches now."

Chicks on the Can: THE TOP 10!

This week marks the beginning of a new trend in comics. The "Women in Refrigerators" phase is over and a new age is upon us. That's right, its Chicks on the Can. POWER GIRL this week opened with a scene letting us know that even busty Kryptonians from parallel dimensions that aren't there anymore have to go potty from time to time. There's a marvel book out this week following suit with a chick on the can, but right now the name escapes me, and I'm not about to ask again.

"Oh hi, Linda. Hey listen, what was the name of the Marvel comic that just came out with a girl on the toilet? I need to know for research. No really. What? I AM NOT!"

In celebration of this new age the "Chicks on the Can Sketchbook" will be coming soon to a store near you! Just in time for Mother's Day too! make sure to keep you eye on PREVIEWS to see when you can pre-order it! Since I wasn't asked to contribute to this project...

The top ten artists who'll be featured in the "Chicks on the Can" sketchbook!

10: Jim Lee. This is a bit of a stretch for lee since none of his ten stock female poses that he draws looks right siting on the can.

9: various manga artists. Not much of a stretch comsidering the amount of fetishism in Japanese comics, but the big question is: which way will the speed lines go?

8: Tony Daniel. His entry will feature to only toilet on a pedestal, which is necessary since he tends to draw legs that go on forever.

7: Frank Miller. Going to the bathroom has never been so grim and gritty.

6: Michael Turner. His entry, published postmortem, does have a girl and a toilet in it, but not surprising considering how he drew women, the woman depicted is struggling with an nasty case of bulimia.

5: Greg Land. This is another stretch for an artist. Mainly in his Google skills to fine a picture of a girl sitting on a toilet for him to draw.

4: Tony Harris. It took a lot of skill for Harris to do this. Not really artistic skill, but in his ability to talk a woman into sitting in such a position so that he could take a picture to draw from.

3: Jhonen Vasquez. His entry will be featured on a forthcoming t-shirt from Hot Topic.

2: Ed Benes Somehow manages to to feature a girl on the toilet positioned in such a manner as you can see both her rear end and her chest.

1: Rob Leifeld. The toilet, which will indeed have pouches, will blocked out so you can't see the bottom of it. This had to be done due to the danger of Leifeld having to possibly draw feet.

How do you feel about barrel rolls?

I like Southwest Airlines. I like them because I have a feeling that their pilots are all half nuts. They'll get you where you're going one way or another, unless you're Kevin Smith.

So, you all are probably ready for me to spout off my two cents about how Smith was mistreated and embarrassed and how brilliant a film maker and comic writer he is and how shameful Southwest's behavior is. Sorry. Not happening. I might have said something defending Kevin Smith if, one, I still cared about his work, and two, he wasn't throwing an e-hissy fit over it.

There was a time years ago when I thought Kevin Smith was the greatest thing ever. Now, while I still like some of his work, for the most part I've outgrown it. My fandom for him croaked about the time I saw CLERKS 2. It was already on life support after his run on GREEN ARROW. Still, I could probably see his point of view and side with him if he wasn't on a rampage on Twitter. Yeah, it's a messed up situation, but the way to handle this is not behaving like a ticked off teenager. he says he didn't receive any phone calls of apology from the airline. I'm not terribly inclined to believe him. It's pretty bad when the poster boy of Peter Pan Syndrome (Hi, everybody) thinks you should grow up.

Onward to victory?

Or at least going out barefoot in front of a few hundred people to do stuff and try to win trophies. That's right, tournament season is fast approaching. I haven't talked about karate tournaments or competition for a while and that's because I haven't competed in over a year. Part of it was due to not being able to go to the tournaments due to work schedules and finding someone to watch the kids. Most of it was do to my competitive drive in these things isn't what it used to be. I stopped fighting years ago and mainly just do kata and weapons. I do enjoy hanging out with the other black belts in my division. I like performing. I do pretty well at these and usually end up placing.

So why am I not pumped?

Its a lot to do with priorities. I'd rather be writing or drawing stuff than competing. I'm prouder of my students who get trophies than I am of my own. My whole goal as a Sensei is to make them better than I am. Some days, that's not too hard. Honestly, I have a bunch of trophies. They're in my garage. They start falling apart after a while. I actually threw out some of them when we moved last time.

I got a video e-mailed to me by the VKA (Virginia Karate Alliance)promoting this season. So, I'm going to go out this year to at least one tournament and compete. I'll say "hi" to the guys and chit chat a bit. Then I'll go out and do my best and let the chips fall where they may.

Buzzing about Buzz

I'm still getting acquainted with Google Buzz, but I'm liking it a bit better than Facebook. There's no "pieces of flare" getting sent at me and no one has tried to get me to join a cause. It like that it's "followers" and not "friends". While do have a few e-friends, this isn't something I'm doing to keep track of people. This is more professional networking than social, although any friends of mine who wish to follow me on there are welcome to do so.

It's pretty stripped down and easy to use, so I'll be there for a while unless it becomes a pain in the ass.

Oh what the HELL!!!!????!?!?

What the hell is going on with this damn blog?! Last week it was the Japanese Pr0N Invasion Virus. Tonight I glance over at my Google ads and see one for "Little Girl Panties". Sure, it's just an ad for JCPenny's but that lead line is horrible!

Bad Google Ads! BAD!


OK, Google's got some new networking stuff afoot, so I'm going to give it a try. If you have Google Buzz, look for Marty Nozz.

Weather haiku

Damn Global Warming
More snow falling outside now
Its ridiculous

Behold! I have countered the Japanese Pr0n Invasion with Japanese poetry! This is the fourth snowfall in two weeks here.

Fighting the Future!

If you're worried about Big Brother keeping tabs on you, then move to Virginia! We don't approve of that sort of thing. For those who don't feel like clicking on the article, this bill would make it a crime to implant tracking devices in people's bodies without consent. This is freaky for a few reasons.

1) The people of Spotsylvania possibly have a some nutty people living there and have sent one of them to the Virginia congress.

2) The people of Spotsylvania may not be nuts, making this a legitimate issue.


Dear Al....

Dear Al,

I hope this letter finds you well. I know you've been working diligently for the betterment of the planet. You're crusade against Global Warming seems to be going well. Much better than when you tried to rally people behind you with your battle cry about not being able to follow a president who lies. It seems you've gotten pretty popular over it since the world gave you their "We Like You" award otherwise known as the Nobel Peace Prize.

Fortunately for the planet you seem to have defeated Global Warming. Perhaps you managed to get the specs for Rove's Eeeeeeevil Weather Machine which he and George Bush used to attempt to smite New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina because as Kayne West revealed to the world Bush doesn't like black people. I'm glad you've found such a benevolent use for the technology.

That said, would you mind shutting the machine off, or at least turning it down a few notches. It's pretty cold here. I know you say that this snow isn't as cold as snow in previous years and sure the recent blizzards have been downright balmy, but the massive amounts of snow are getting quite bothersome. That's not to say that it's been completely bad. I have managed to improve myself as a human being due to local meteorologist Jon Cash on my TV with his "Snow Hope" report grinning at me with glee about the snow. I have managed not to go to the television station, hunt him down and choke him violently with the cute snowflake necklace thing he wears during times of winter weather. So, that's some progress.

Anyhow, since you haven't come around to shovel the snow or salt the street I humbly request you hold off on your fight against Global Warming before parts of my anatomy freeze solid and fall off. If you want to discuss the matter further, feel free to drop by and we'll have hot cocoa and listen to old 2 Live Crew records.

Your pal,

Who are you people?

I seem to be gaining followers to this blog. It's happening at about the same time as the onset of the JPI virus.



I'm on to you people.

This is her fault, I'm sure of it.

OK kids, I think I've figured out the source of the JPI (Japanese Pr0n Invasion) virus. Near as I can figure I've identified Patient Zero, my exposure came from Philip Defranco who was as near as I can figure an unknown carrier. As you can see from the video below, Patient Zero has somehow been sucked down the rabbit hole of kawaiitude and is seemingly beyond any how for recovery. In fact the virus seems to have mutated her to the point where now she is attempting to make up her own cute little slang sayings.

Now, if you have not been inoculated, do not watch this video. If you are Richard and have made it back to the internet after getting stunned by the manga Linda inflicted upon you, just look at the cleavage, you'll be alright.

If you have watched this video and do not have an anti-JPI firewall installed, please do a virus scan to get rid of any JPI footholds in your computer. If you don't, expect Japanese softcore pr0n to suddenly come up on your computer. If you are under the age of 18 and have Japanese pr0n on your computer, and i get angry e-mails from your parents because you blamed me, I do have weapons and I will find you.

For the record, her attempt to create her own slang fails. Its one thing for me to refer to someone getting brutally knocked out by a kick to the head as being "Gonzaga-ed". Being who follow mixed martial arts will likely get the reference. If you have to explain your slang, its not working properly.

Holy Crap! It's Japanese Pron Invasion!

I stumbled across this when I was digging the link for my FLASH:AFTERBIRTH blog entry. New comments have started to pop up in my blog. These comments don't show up very well since they're in Japanese and my computer doesn't speak Japanese, BUT the comments looked to be packed with links! Upon clicking them I found myself in what seems to be a Japanese softcore porn site.

This is weird for a number of reasons. Not that links to Japanese porn would end up on here somehow, I mean, it is the internet after all. All it is here is porn and lolicat videos. What is weird is that the linky comments don't appear anywhere past posts I made last October despite being put there just last week. Also there's no pattern to this. I discussed this with Linda last night and we assumed that its a bot homing in on specific keywords. This way we could blame that undead prick Barry Allen for this. However, this is not the case. The comments seem to pop up at random on blog entries and there's no connection. They don't share keywords and the subject matter is varied.

There's something insidious at work here. This thing is devious. This lurking JPI (Japanese Pron Invasion)affliction is slowly attempting to consume my blog! Its in the background, and spreading. It's like that little cough that you just sort of ignore because it's not that bad, but really it's the first signs of Nigerian Shitbeetle Flu. I must purge this thing from my blog now before it gets turned into a porn site!

Watchman 2. Want fries with that?

Oh yes, now that Paul Levitz (AKA the voice of reason) has stepped down as president of DC Comics, Dan DiDio has a chance to make another of his dream projects a reality: WATCHMEN II. This is great news, especially considering how fabulous his previous dream projects have turned out! It might even get Wizard magazine to actually due articles about comics again! Oh wait, they'd probably just try to dig up whatever information they possibly could about a movie tie in. Whoopsies!

How do I feel about this? Well, even if this project were to get the full go ahead, I'd end up avoiding it. WATCHMEN by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons is not a particularly liked read to me. I liked it better maybe fifteen years ago when realism in comics (AKA dark and epic, soul sucking stuffs) still had an appeal to me. WATCHMEN is considered the greatest work in comics, but not by me. That and THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS by Frank Miller are considered the two works that signaled the medium and genre "growing up". I do prefer DKR to WATCHMEN because Miller did some interesting visual stuff in there, and it had a really biting commentary of the media.

So, if it's that great, why don't I like it? First off, I think everyone who is serious about comics should give it a read. Its extremely well done. I want to be perfectly clear here. Just because I don't like something, does not make it a bad work. If something is bad, I'll let you all know. WATCHMEN is not poorly written. It certainly isn't poorly illustrated. Its the content and tone of the story that do not appeal to me. The story takes rifts from the old Charlton Comics characters (Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, The Question, etc.) and basically beats them over the head with the 'realism' stick. I found myself pitying the characters. I know there's a lot of people know think Rorschach is the greatest thing since Batman, and that's sad on a number of levels. They're lives are all complete train wrecks. What I get from WATCHMEN is the message that being a superhero will either wreck your life or just kill you outright. Even the fellow that retired from it and passed him identity onto another gets brutally killed.

Screw that. I'll be over here reading THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SCROOGE MCDUCK COMPANION.

So, I guess that means I won't be picking up the possible sequel. Well there is one way. If the tone of the sequel runs the exact opposite direction of the first series, I'll be all over it. I want it to be cute, heart-warming and with the whimsy factor cranked up to 11. I want the characters taking brief timeouts from saving the world to save kittens from being stuck in trees. I want to laugh out loud at it for all the right reasons. I want Gail Simone to write it with art by China Chugston-Majors. The original series was one of the harbingers of the dark age of the superhero genre. Remember those? The 90s? When for a brief time Spider-man wore black, stopped telling jokes and was dark and HaRdC0Re! Let WATCHMEN II be send out a message: "Yeah, we did the dark, epic stuff. We've moved on."

Where mah britches?

While waiting to see the doctor yesterday at Patient First I heard two of the staffers (Not sure if the women were doctors or nurses) discussing pants hitting the floor. I'm fairly certain they were discussing something American Idol related. I've heard buzz about an older fellow singing a song making fun of the trend of wearing pants so baggy that they hang off off the wearer, revealing their underwear. For the record, I do indeed support the mockery of this "fashion trend" as it was begun in prison and was a way to let other prisoners know you were ready to make that social leap to "prison bitch", so yes the young people participating in this trend are morons on multiple levels.

The medical staffers continued to voice their disapproval of various types of pants bringing the topic around to guys wearing "skinny" jeans. This brings us to another idiotic trend, boys dressing like girls. I remember distinctly being at the Hunt Club one year for their Haunted Hayride Halloween event and spotting a teenage couple holding hands. My wife and I were surprised thinking we'd spotted a pair of teenage lesbians in a little public display of affection. But no, one of the teenagers was indeed a boy wearing girl's jeans and sporting a very bad androgynous haircut. One or both of these teens were very confused. Either the girl was a lesbian and didn't want to admit it to herself so she was dating a boy who was impersonating a girl because then she wasn't really gay. Perhaps her family was more open to their daughter dating a transvestite than having a homosexual relationship. It could be the boy was in the closet and while he wanted to look like a girl, he was quite ready to just break down and start dating boys. Although I could be wrong and maybe the youngster was indeed a transvestite and couldn't find a pretty dress to wear to a hayride that would be warm enough for the late October evening, and the young lady was just being supportive. I may never know. I do know that I've seen way too many boys wearing girl's jeans.

So, as the medical staff were waxing on about the subject I felt it was time to add my two cents.

"Ladies, behold, the happy medium. My carpenter jeans are loose enough to allow freedom of movement. I'm comfortable and can climb over things without getting snagged on things or have my waist squeezed until I can no longer breathe. They also have the proper fit in the proper areas for anyone who hates to see me go, but likes to watch me leave. And may I draw your attentions to my retro use of a belt being used to hold my pants in their proper place preventing anyone from seeing my drawers without buys me dinner first."

The medical staff approved.