So this weekend Crysta and I went out to the drive in and saw "Star Trek into Darkness." I'm not going to go too in depth on the film, but overall I loved it. It wasn't perfect, but what kind of Star Trek fan would I be if I didn't have nitpicks? In any case, if you haven't seen it already, go do so.
What this got me thinking about though was what I've been missing from Star Trek these last few years - and that's the quiet, character driven pieces. J.J. Abrams two films are very action driven, and that's great - but you never really get to soak in the world surrounding that action.
This is, of course, to be expected. All of those character driven pieces were television episodes. Heck, they were the TV episodes produced mostly to save money. Those pieces would feel very weird as stand alone films, and producing a "bottle movie" makes sense to no one really -- not even me.
And that's the weakness to only having a film series right now. We're getting the action filled two parters without the character pieces in between. This is why, really, Star Trek needs a new television series.
I don't care if its in the Alternate Reality or the Prime Reality. I don't care if it follows a ship, a space station or a team of misfit Starfleet Intelligence agents. Heck, it could be a Klingon Political thriller for all I care!
(You loved "House of Cards?" Well you'll love "House of Mogh!" I think we have a pitch here...)
Really, I think I'd take any Star Trek series I could get right now - because being a Star Trek fan isn't just about loving one series or having a favorite captain. We're in love with the world itself that these series and films play in. And I really, really want to see more of it.
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Between reading Yo, Is This Racist? and the bizarre reactions to the very possibility of a black guy playing Human Torch in the next Fantastic Four movie, one puzzling thing has been sitting on my mind. This one thing baffles me to my very core, yet keeps happening time and time again. It seems that when you point out to a lot of people that they've said something racist, they freak out and demand it isn't.
In the case of comic book characters they'll try to sell you a "true to the original source material" spiel, but often there are huge flaws - like in the case of the Human Torch, his ethnicity never played a part in his characterization, so as long as the Character is "American" whether he's black or white shouldn't matter. No one complains that Hugh Jackman is a foot too tall to play Wolverine, or that Ra's Al Ghul was played by a white dude in Nolan's trilogy (when the character clearly isn't in the comics).
In the end, they said something racist - but they freak out at the very idea that you've called them out on it.
The reason is simple - we're told our whole lives that racism is bad. The reasoning for this is, frankly, quite simple: racism is bad. But when you core program that into someone who also has a racist idea or view point, they develop a dissonance between the idea that they might think something racist and said racist thought. When you call them out on it, and attempt to resolve the dissonance, it causes them to get angry -- and rather than blame themselves, they'll blame the person who pointed it out.
Now thinking or doing something racist doesn't make the person necessarily a racist, but refusing to recognize your actions might. A non-racist person will recognize that they said or did something racist and realize they should stop. Maybe said person will apologize even, but in any case they themselves will recognize the racism in their behavior.
A racist person on the other hand will refuse to recognize their own problematic behavior. This person will decide everyone ELSE is wrong.
I guess the lesson here is don't be afraid to self examine. If you refuse to do so, you might end up continuing to perpetrate problematic behavior. This applies to more than just racism, but that's what's on my mind today.
The other lesson is "don't be a f***ing racist."
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Starting yesterday morning, I decided to quit drinking soda altogether. I'd had some pretty bad heartburn lately, so for my own comfort and health, it seemed prudent to eliminate the constant source of acid from my diet. As this was the sole source of caffeine in my diet, this also meant though that I was simultaneously going cold turkey on that substance as well.
That has made this a whole lot of no fun.
First off, I'm sleepy as heck right now. I've been living with an almost constant flow of caffeine for years, so dropping off hard has left me not super-alert. It's the sort of thing that happens when you cut a stimulant out after this long though -- it will take my body a little while to adjust and adapt.
Secondly, I am without the psychological comfort of grabbing a Diet Coke, hearing the pressure shift as I open it, and holding it in my hand. I'm compensating a little with bottled water, but half a dozen times yesterday I found myself scrounging the kitchen, realizing that what I really wanted was a soda that wasn't there.
It helps that there isn't any caffeinated soda in the apartment right now.
The headaches haven't kicked in yet (as they have most of the other times I tried quitting caffeine), so I'm looking forward to those. I can tell I'm less focused -- you have no idea how hard it is for me to type this out. I've had several sentences that I've had to reread multiple times to make sure they made sense (this one included). In a few days I'll be back to normal, but I'm nowhere near that stage yet.
The next few days are going to be a whole lot of no fun, really.
Wish me luck.
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Last night the Season Four finale for Community aired. As it's still up in the air whether the show will be renewed or not, this may very well be the final episode.
I have mixed feelings about that.
Season Four had a rough start, the first couple of episodes were fairly weak as the series found footing under its new showrunners. It found its way home though - the heart returned, and while it wasn't the same show it was before, it was pretty damned close. The last several episodes I would put on par with anything from the Dan Harmon era. Considering how highly I think of Dan Harmon's writing, that's saying something.
And with that we have a season finale worthy of being the series finale.
I have to ask myself then, would I be okay if the show ended this way? If the show is renewed, and then later gets cancelled, would the next "ending" be less satisfying? Might I actually be happier if the show ended with last night's wonderful finale?
The answer of course is "screw that, I want more Community."
So I sit here waiting, every once and a while searching Google News for information (which, by the way, is friggin' annoying when the name of the show is common English word). I have the small consolation that my other favorite Thursday night comedy has already been renewed (Parks and Rec) so I only have to worry about one show and not two -- but the suspense is still driving me nuts.
Maybe this is just a distraction - it's been a long week both personally and work-wise (you have no idea how much I'm looking forward to just collapsing this weekend). But I hope Community finds itself into a fifth season, because with all of this week's stress, the season finale was a wonderful escape for a half an hour of it.
And we all need an escape sometimes.
Edit: Renewed for season five! Woot!
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This weekend I drove up to my parent's house to clean out some of my old stuff from my old room. Most of the stuff that was there had been untouched for about a decade -- and digging through it I found quite a few things I thought lost forever.
There was the normal stuff, like my comic book collection and copies of Fanboy. I was happy to find my Transformers were intact as well. There was also some unusual things as well, like a bunch of "Rubies of Eventide" pop up promotional "rubies" from Gen Con 2002. Within the bowels though was a mess of artwork from various periods of my life... which was just weird to look at.
The stuff was diverse, from concept artwork from "Mirror Mirror" (a video game project some friends of mine were working on) to old Room 825 scripts that never got finished (Room 825 being my first webcomic, to which UnCONventional is an indirect sequel to). With all this old crap, I must have never thrown anything out. Some of the stuff is downright awful, while other stuff (like the original artwork for the No Brand Con 2003 program guide cover) isn't all that bad.
I also found remnants from other creative projects, like the manual for the Fantasy RPG I tried to develop when I was in high school (whose rules eventually evolved into Super Awesome Action Heroes).
Man, if it weren't for The Chronicles of Crosarth I'd start to suspect that I ran out of good ideas a decade ago.
I loaded up the car, and right now the back of it is still filled with boxes of stuff. It's weird to have my stuff (mostly) out of my parents house (there's still a couple boxes I couldn't fit in the car that I had to leave behind), but it had to happen sometime I guess. I mean it's not like I've lived there since I finished college... but still.
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A collection of appearances of "sailboat paintings" in UnCONventional.
I don't tag those, so I had to actually go looking... so at least pretend to be impressed.
So one one of my favorite visual shorthands for "hotel room" in UnCONventional
is to put a bad painting on the wall. I've stayed in a lot of hotels over the years, and I've seen a lot of bad hotel art. My picture of choice for the backgrounds is, as depicted above, some sort of sailboat. They're easy to draw in a few lines, and it's sort of a universal cliche.
I mean I thought it was..
Here's the problem - scanning my memory, I can't actually remember
seeing a sailboat painting in a hotel room. It made me question if I had ever seen one in the first place. Maybe this is some cliche I'd gotten from movies or television, which are written by people living on the coasts. Maybe its prevalent there, and I'm just not seeing it at all. In any case, I have no actual memory of seeing one in a midwestern hotel.
Yet I continue to draw them in the background.
So here's my challenge - if you have a photo of a sailboat painting in a hotel room, for the love of god, share it with me.
Just to prove that I'm not crazy or something.
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So the opening splash page for Chapter Nine
of The Chronicles of Crosarth
features the "50 year old" airship mentioned back in Chapter Six
. I really was fond of the image in full color, so I thought I'd share that as a "random art" post today.
Designing this particular ship was interesting, as I had to make something that looked old compared to Kellin's sailing airship
seen briefly in Chapter One, yet appear fast enough for the story to move at a logical pace. So this rambling, beat up machine was the result - something that was probably fast as all get out compared to everything else from its era.
This thing is so tiny too - I always immediately add each new ship to my comparison chart, and this is the smallest ship on the chart yet. It likely won't be seen again after this chapter, but hey, these things amuse me.
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So I have to admit here that I shop at Target quite a bit. It's on my way home from dropping off Crysta at the University every morning, so it's the easiest stop for whatever we happen to be short on at any given time. I have other options at my disposal which are probably equally convenient as well, but they're also equally corporate anyways.
There's a point where you have to shrug and say "It probably doesn't matter where I buy this Diet Coke."
Anywho, one such item I needed to buy a few weeks ago was liquid hand soap. Crysta and I prefer it over bar soap, and traditionally Target has stocked the larger size refills. I went to the store expecting to find it in the same aisle as normal... and found it missing.
My first thought was that it was a simple planogram change, and that I'd find the soap in a neighboring aisle. As I awkwardly circled the hygiene sections of the store though, I soon discovered I couldn't locate the hand soap anywhere. I found bar soap, body washes, shampoos... but no liquid handsoap. Neither refills nor dispensers seemed to be in any sort of obvious position.
I ended up giving up and driving to the Marsh down the street where I purchased a couple of smaller refills. I've been to that Target several times now, and each time I've searched for liquid hand soap... and have yet to be able to find it.
And this drives me nuts. I mean, they have to have it somewhere. Even if they stopped stocking refills, I find it hard to believe this common a product is no longer in their inventory. Is it me? Am I just unable to find it?
And that's when it struck me - why can't finding a product in a physical store be as easy as finding it online? Why am I spending so much time hunting down aisles when I have this wonderful smart phone in my pocket? Stores like Target don't get to pick their local layouts -- those come from corporate. Heck, the Lafayette, IN location is almost a perfect mirror version of the Eau Claire, WI location.
Why can't Target put their store maps in their iPhone and Android apps - picking the store you're currently in by geo-location. Then you'd just search for the product, and it tells you what aisle and shelf it's on. It'd also be able to tell you if its in stock and what similar products they carry.
All of this data is sitting in separate databases right now, and it probably wouldn't be too hard to merge a few tables. I'd pitch the idea, but I'm not really capable of developing the app myself. So this is me, putting it out in the ether as my gift to the world: someone build this app.
Because I can't find the f***ing hand soap.
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Some of you have figured out (and others I've outright told about) some major events which are impending in UnCONventional
over the next couple of weeks. It's a storyline I've literally been planning from day one of the comic, but I still think it'll take some of you by surprise.
I had originally thought about doing it in the style of the "I Hate November" storyline, but I think a solid month of melodrama to this degree would be overkill. Well, either that or I'd want to stab my eyes out.
One or the other.
I have no idea whose side the readership will end up on - it's not really designed to be a storyline with a "bad guy" and a "good guy" per se, but I've done that before and y'all have still chosen a hero before. The stories in UnCONventional are human ones, and most of the time we only think we're the good guys because that's the perspective we're seeing our own narrative from.
Everyone thinks they're the hero.
Well, most people at least.
Anyways, I'm trying to balance out the interpersonal stuff with jokes on this little journey, and I hope you guys come along with me.
This is overall going to be a big year of change for UnCONventional.
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