Friday, December 30, 2011

Minimate Customs: Firestorm

Firestorm is one of my all-time favorite characters.  For one thing, I love his Al Milgrom-designed costume, puffy sleeves and all.  It's a shame that his stock has faded so much in the last few decades, because he really was DC's hottest (no pun intended) new character in the early '80s (the latter seasons of Super Friends [then renamed Super Powers] were built around him, after all).  But later writers mucked around with him, and he mostly disappeared for several years.  There's a new Firestorm book as part of the DC relaunch, but it's by all accounts terrible, and it suffered the largest drop in retailer orders from September through November. Oh well.  But here's the classic Firestorm, in all his puffy sleeve glory.

Firestorm here actually shows how much I've developed as a customizer. The original version of this custom that I cobbled together used Ma Hunkel's chest, an unmasked Daredevil head, and Storm's puffy sleeves, with the latter two sharpied red.  It made for a passable Firestorm, but that's about it.  I've since painted the arms properly, and made decals for his chest (using a logo I found at Customego) and head (starting with Art Asylum's template for the Beyonder, and adding his mask by hand).  He's rounded out by Flash legs, Bullseye's belt (with the sides cut off and the buckle painted red), Jean Grey's shoulder pads painted yellow, and a trimmed Ghost Rider fiery top.  Just for fun, I threw together Prof. Martin Stein, one half of the original Firestorm Matrix, using mostly a lab Egon Spengler.  Perhaps I'll do Ronnie Raymond as well; it will give me an excuse to use those Marty McFly Air Jordan feet I've got sitting around, if nothing else.

Really pleased with this guy.  And here's my decals, so you can make a Firestorm of your own:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Eagles Playoff Madness

As I write this, it's just a little after 7 PM on week 15 of the NFL season.  And I'm not watching Eagles/Jets, or Tom Brady vs. Tim Tebow.  I'm more interested in the other two games (Raiders/Lions and Browns/Cards, respectively) because at this point those two games actually have more bearing on the Eagles playoff chances.  Because, while fiddling around with ESPN's awesome Playoff Machine, I've determined that the Eagles can actually still win the last wild card if:

-They win out;
-The Bears loose out;
-The Lions loose out;
-The Seahawks loose out;
-The Cards loose this week, loose next week, then beat the Seahawks in week 17.

A ridiculous series of events, granted.  And, as I write this, the Lions have just taken a 28-27 lead on the Raiders with :35 seconds to play (I knew the Raiders should have gone for two when they went up 26-14! I knew it!); and the Cardinals are in overtime.  So the most likely scenario for the Eagles remains:

-Beat the Cowboys and the Redskins;
-Watch the Giants loose to the Jets and beat the Cowboys.

Somehow, I've got a feeling that just might happen.  Why not? It's been that kind of year.  I'd feel a lot better about this if the Jets didn't look like complete dogshit this week against the Eagles, but the Giants played like farts against the Redskins, so who knows how that one will go.  Should be kind of cool, though, to watch the two New York teams play each other with basically the season on the line. Riot either way!

...And it's official: Lions over the Raiders.  You know, I chose to illegally stream switch over to that Cards/Browns game because I thought the Lions game was basically over.  Damn.  And the Cards won anyway.  So, really, you can just ignore this post.  I'll be back with your regularly scheduled Minimate customs update sometime this week.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Minimate Customs: Green Lantern Corps

Hey, did you know this is my 100th post here?  Considering this blog dates back to May 2009... that's pretty terrible.  Oh well.  Might as well post some more Minimates....

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Minimate Customs: Dream and Death

Yep, more Minimates.  Just bought a printer, which will allow me to print decals out at home (rather then making the shameful trek to Kinko's), so I've gotta clear the backlog out to make room for the new projects.  Anyway, I've been sitting on one of these for quite awhile, waiting to complete the pair, which I just did this week.  So I present...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Minimate Customs: Doom Patrol

I've got a couple big custom posts coming up, but I need to snap photos, so in the meantime enjoy...

The Doom Patrol

 The Doom Patrol's biggest claim to fame is that they were the first characters in comics history to die on panel, going out with a literal bang as their series ended with Doom Patrol #121 in 1968.  Created by writer Arnold Drake and artist Bruno Premiani, the Doom Patrol was originally something of an anomaly within the Silver Age DC Universe, as they were presented as freaks and outcasts among all DC's shining silver knights.  Oddly enough, the DP premiered in the same month as that other famous comic book team of outcasts, the X-Men; moreover, during their Silver Age run, the Doom Patrol was probably the more successful comic.  Anyway, I'm fond of them, so here they are.  Let's take a look at each of these guys individually after the jump.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Penn State

If you live outside of Pennsylvania, I don't think you can quite fathom how omnipresent Penn State University is in our lives.  Pennsylvania is a funny place, its' two large cities living at opposite ends of the state, but in reality a world apart.  Here, in the east, we think of New York, Washington DC, and the rest of the I-95 corridor as our neighbors and rivals, while in the west it's Ohio and West Virginia and the rest of the Rust Belt.  The Phillies play in the NL East, the Pirates in the NL Central, and nobody seems to think that's a lost opportunity.  If you told most people here that Pittsburgh was in a different time zone, I don't think any one would question that.

We come together in two ways: statewide elections and Penn State.  Not just Penn State football either; you can't live in Pennsylvania and not have a connection to Penn State, even if you're not a graduate.  My brother-in-law went to Penn State, as did my oldest friend, and my stepfather is a professor in the Penn State system.  That's just the way it is.  Penn State is, literally and figuratively, at the center of the state I've called home for at least 30 of my 37 years.

So it's not just the Penn State community that's shaken by the scandal that broke this weekend, it's Pennsylvania, period.  I've been able to think about much else, and I've been to State College once in my life.   It's been a whirlwind of a week; it's hard to believe that, just a few weeks ago, Joe Paterno was being celebrated for becoming college football's all-time winningest coach in what turned out to be his last game.  Just think about that for a second.  Here's a quote, from college football writer Stewart Mandel, from the story linked above: "In a sport filled with misguided, misbehaved or flat-out devious individuals, JoePa remains our moral compass, as he has for more than five decades."  What a difference a week makes.

When the story first broke, late Saturday afternoon, my wife was out of town attending a wedding.  When she got home that evening, and I told her about it, I speculated that this might be big enough to bring down Joe Paterno himself.  Then, it seemed far-fetched, to think that the public career of the most revered figure in Pennsylvania this side of Ben Franklin could come to such a sudden, shocking, disturbing end.  But it took less then a week for that prophecy to become fulfilled, and, as the details of the timeline of events covered in the grand jury probe into former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky's alleged pedophilia were fully digested, it's hard to say such drastic action isn't warrented.

I don't have a whole lot to say about the Sandusky case itself; what is there to say, really?  I do want to say, though, that much of the criticism that has been leveled against then graduate assistant (and now Penn State assistant football coach) Mike McQueary, allegedly caught Sandusky in the act of of an unspeakable crime; many question his courage, and his manhood, and claim that they would have acted differently.    And, quite honestly, I don't think that's true.  Most of us, when faced with trauma, go into shock; we act, or fail to act, not in the way we would imagine.  Most of us are not heroes, and we certainly don't walk into a room expecting to find a horrible crime and prepared to act.  So, yes, while the heroic thing to do would have been to jump to action and drag Sandusky off that boy, it's not necessarily the human thing to do.

But McQueary was absolutely, positively right in going to his immediate superior, Joe Paterno.  Moreover, Paterno was right in referring the matter to his superiors, even if you subscribe to the belief that, at Penn State, Joe Paterno had no superiors.  There are mechanisms within institutions such as this to handle such things, and this is why.  After that, well, there's no question that that mechanism failed to an astonishing degree.  It's mind-boggling to think that the university could have conducted a "thorough internal investigation" without involving the campus police. And you have to wonder how anyone could speak to McQueary about the matter and come to the conclusion that this was just a case of "horsing around" gone to far.  And, yes, when Paterno and especially McQueary learned that the university powers that be were content to let the matter lie, that's when they should have taken matters into their own hands and gone to the police independently.  There's simply no excuse for agreeing to what is, essentially, a cover-up.  Even if one removes morality from the situation for a moment (and one shouldn't), didn't anyone stop to think that the ramifications of inattention now would be that much worse down the line?

But no one's actions make sense in this case.  It doesn't make much sense that, upon one of them catching Sandusky in a similar act in the showers in 1998, the custodial staff decided it was best to keep it to themselves.  It doesn't make sense that, when Sandusky admitted on tape to taking a shower with a boy on tape to his mother, the Center County District Attorney at the time decided not to press charges.  Even more shocking, it wasn't a decade after those accusations that the charity Sandusky founded and used as essentially a locator service for his victims even decided to cut ties with the man.  How could so many people have failed so spectacularly for so long?

While most of us have instantly drawn a connection to the massive coverup of similar abuses within the Catholic Church, I'm also uncomfortably reminded of Chris Benoit, the WWE wrestler who murdered his wife and son before taking his own life.  There aren't a lot of parallels, really; Sandusky's crimes were carried out over a period of years, and, if not outright covered up, were at the very least allowed to continue unabated.  Benoit, meanwhile, simply snapped without much warning.  But the shock and the horror are the same, and the sense that nothing the man touched will be the same from that day forward.  Because Benoit was not just a wrestler, but a champion and mentor to his peers.  Chris Jericho still calls him the most important person in his career; watching Jericho tell his story on his recent WWE dvd, there's a clear hole in the narrative where Benoit belongs.  But the WWE, as best they can, have tried to erase Benoit from their narrative, as is their right.

Penn State won't be so lucky.  Because football is real, and wrestling is not, it's not so easy to dismiss the contributions of a monster.  I thought that this piece from State College native Michael Weintrab really encapsulated the devastation among the Penn State community, particularly this passage regarding the 1986 national title game, in which Sandusky's defense was the key component in upsetting Miami: "I have the original video recording of it in my living room, and I have thought several times over the past couple of days about taking a hammer to it."

This is, unquestionably, the worst scandal in American academic history, and will forever taint the school, much the way Kent State University will forever be associated with the events of May 4, 1970.  I don't really know how the university recovers; forget athletes, I can't imagine why any prospective student would want to go to State College now.  As for the athletic program, more then just a clean sweep of personnel is needed; they need to blow up the damn buildings.  Can you imagine having to use one of those showers now?

I'm not sure that I agree with the decision to remove Paterno now, rather then at the end of the year.  While I don't absolve him of blame, and I understand the need to move on now, doing so shifts the narrative from being about Jerry Sandusky, his crimes, and his victims, to Joe Paterno.  Yes, if Paterno remained with the team, the rest of the football season would be a circus.  But it will be a circus regardless.  I find it interesting that the attorney for the alleged victims criticized the Board of Trustee's actions, saying in essence "they don't want to be held responsible for ending Joe Paterno's career".

Of course, as I'm sure Paterno would readily admit, only he is responsible for his career ending in this manner.  It's a shame that the legacy and reputation of a man that has accomplished so much, and for so many, should end so sordidly.  But, on the other hand, as victims go, it's pretty far down the list.

EDIT: I don't want to undercut the seriousness of this whole thing with something trivial, but I just can't resist: Ashton Kutcher, somehow learning that Joe Paterno has been fired but oblivious to the circumstances, proves himself to be, definitively, the universe's biggest idiot.

ANOTHER EDIT: Sara Ganim, a crime reporter for the Patriot-News, had provided amazing coverage of the story; today, she provides a timeline of the entire case, and all the spots along the way where Sandusky was somehow able to avoid scrutiny and continue  to have access to young boys.  An astonishing amount of failures by people that are trained to recognize these signs and how to act.  And yet, for most people, this case has somehow become a referendum on Joe Paterno.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Minimate Customs: Bring on the Bad Guys

Fallin' behind on the ol' Minimate custom showcase again, so it's time to start blowing through them with some big theme posts.  Today will feature some of the bad guys of the Marvel Universe, an area that our friends at Art Asylum have left sadly underexplored.  A shame, because the House of Ideas has turned out some great, colorful villains.  It's up to us, I guess, to fill in the holes.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Good Grief

I suppose there's two positive things to take out of last night's Phillies/ Cardinals game:

1. Ryan Howard didn't become the second player in history to end two straight postseasons for his team with a strikeout (Alex Rodriguez became the first Thursday night).

2. This Phillies grounded out to short with such clockwork precision, inning after inning, that the game moved along at a rapid pace, meaning we all got our misery out of the way at a relatively decent hour.

And that's about it, as the Phillies, the best team in baseball all summer, laid down and died as meekly as a mouse.  If you only watched the first two batters of the game, you literally saw all you needed to see, as the the game's only run was scored in the first five minutes.  Roy Halliday settled into the game rather nicely after that, getting out of a jam to hold the Cardinals to only that one run, and really only allowing one other scoring threat, in the top of the eighth, when the Cardinals loaded the bases with one out.  But Chris Carpenter totally mastered the Phillies' "hitters", with shocking ease.  The Phillies managed one threat all night, when they put men on first and third with two outs.  Raul Ibanez, hopefully playing his last game as a Phillie, seemingly changed the narrative with a deep drive to right field, but it died on the warning track.  Chase Utley would duplicate Ibanez' near-heroics with a deep drive off the first pitch in the ninth, and Carpenter cruised to a humiliating shutout.

I think we all know by now that the only reason the Cardinals are even in the playoffs is because the Phillies swept the collapsing Atlanta Braves to end the season.  So, in a way, the Phillies scripted their own doom by opening a door for a much more powerful team.  But that shouldn't have mattered, as this Phillies team- built around postseason baseball's most precious commodity, starting pitching- was supposed to roll over anyone in their way.  But this series exposed fully the Phillies' aging lineup, and so-so starts by Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt were too much to overcome.

What to make of Ryan Howard?  In the first two games of the series, when he collected his only two hits, he looked locked in, ready to carry the team on his back.  And then... I don't even know.  Just an utter, baffling collapse.  Howard's playoff struggles have always come about because of his vulnerability to lefthanded pitching, but in these last three games the Cardinals didn't even need to bother forcing lefty/lefty matchups.  I've long thought Howard was underappreciated, with his great crime being essentially not being Albert Pujols, but what is there to say after this?

Going into the season, I had a bad feeling about this Phillies team, overreliant as it was on an aging core.  But the Phillies cruised to 100 wins, and the World Series was theirs to loose.  Well, it's lost.  It should be noted that, in the last four seasons, the Phillies have gone from winning the World Series to loosing in their return, to loosing in the NLCS, to losing now in the Division Round.  If this pattern of attrition continues, well, we won't be seeing them in the playoffs at all next year. 

Okay, Andy Reid, Michael Vick: the ball's in your court.  We need a pick-me-up.  Man, we're really screwed, aren't we?

Friday, July 29, 2011

So, How Exactly Does One Pronounce "Nnamdi Asomugha"?

Okay, so twice today I've gone to and learned that a Philly team made a big move.  Just a few minutes ago, I saw that the Phillies had pulled off the long-discussed trade for Houston Astros outfielder Hunter Pence, which seems like a fine move.  They gave up some good prospects, but ones far down in their system.  This is a move the Phillies needed to do, because adding a right handed bat to their lineup may be the key to this being a truly special year.  We all know that this post season (in the NL at least) will come down to pitching, and the Phillies have an edge over just about everybody, but the Phillies stark vulnerability to lefthanded pitching is too big an Achilles heel to carry.  Pence isn't a huge run producer, but he's a multi-tooled young player who'll be a big upgrade to the corner outfield spots.  Even better, they didn't do something foolish like trade young Dominick Brown, still considered by most a top prospect.  I entered this season with some reservations about Brown, but that was as a replacement for Jayson Werth.  As a replacement for Raul Ibanez, I've got no problem with the kid.

But, anyway, that's not even the really big news around these parts.  Nope, the really big news is that the Eagles, from seemingly out of nowhere, swooped in (yeah, I'm making that pun too ) and stole the best free agent in football, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.  The best part?  They snatched him out from under the Cowboys!  Ha! 

Anyone that's followed the Eagles for awhile shouldn't be all that surprised.  Yes, they just acquired a corner,  Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, in the trade for onetime starter Kevin Kolb (what was my prediction for him last year?... oh yes. *cough*).  But Andy Reid has always valued corners: he signed Troy Vincent when he had Bobby Taylor and Al Harris (both pretty good corners); he drafted Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard (in the same year!) when Vincent and Taylor were still one of the best corner tandems in the league; and he signed Asante Samuel when Brown and Sheppard were still making Pro Bowls.  Last year, when the Eagles had basically one good corner (Samuel) was the aberration.  Because the Eagles play such an attacking style of defense, they rely on their corners even more then most teams, and last year, they sucked. 

They don't now.  Suddenly, the team's biggest flaw has become (perhaps) its' strength.  The pass defense was the big flaw in last year's team; it's not too big a stretch to say that the secondary kept the Eagles from the Super Bowl.  Well, that's how we roll in Philly these days.  We want something, we go get it.  Well, except for the Sixers.  Ignore them.

Right now, this feels a lot like the last time the Eagles went out and got the best player available at their biggest position of need.  You might remember him?  Wore number 81?  Well, he was kind of quiet.  Anyway, that worked out pretty well... for awhile.  If memory serves, that was also the year they signed Jevon Kearse, which didn't really work out all that well, but was still a move that signaled the Eagles were in it to win it.  When does the season start again?

Man, what a day.  The only thing that could make it better would be if they brought back Brian Dawkins....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Minimate Customs: Blue Beetle

I've been incredibly prolific, for better or for worse,  with this dorky little Minimate thing I do of late.  No lie, I've finished something like three dozen projects that were in various states production over the last few weeks.  Two factors combined to explain this surge: one, I finally printed off a new, large group of decals; and two, my family was out of town for a few days.  So my dining room turned into my own little Minimate factory over the weekend, with me (in some cases) just putting the finishing touches on a longstanding project, or (in others) built someone from start to finish.  Other men, when their wives and children leave them alone, hit the strip clubs.  I make Minimates.  Judge accordingly.

So, anyway, I'm (understandably, I think) eager to show some of these guys off.  I'm very, very pleased with many of these, and some (like the guy you'll see today) I'd categorize as among my best work.  So you're going to see a lot of Minimate posts in the coming days.  In some cases, I'll do themes; others, those which I think are particularly strong, will be on there own.  Like this guy.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Finally, a Dallas Sports Victory I Can Get Behind

I watched exactly one half of an NBA game this year: LeBron James' much hyped return to Cleveland.  And, since it was on opposite either an Eagles game or Phillies playoff game(can't remember which), I didn't even watch all that much of it.  Still, that's more then I'd watched over the last several years, certainly during the regular season.  Basketball, particularly the NBA version, just doesn't do it for me as a spectator sport.  I find the game tedious, the league and its' players unlikable.  Even during the Jordan Era, when I cut my teeth as a sports fan, I was never particularly swayed by the charms of the NBA.

So it's curious that I found myself invested in these just-concluded NBA playoffs without actually watching any of the games (until last night, when I caught the fourth quarter of Game 6 of the finals).  Part of that interest is because the NBA had, this year, achieved a weird equilibrium between being wide open and dominated by a handful of teams.  A distinctive class system emerged: you had the elite teams, six or eight stacked superteams that all looked like they could go all the way; the middle class, the decent teams with dreams of filling out the playoff field and not much else; and the rest.  Never, in my lifetime at least, have you seen a sport quite so top-heavy as the NBA this year.

Of course, interest in the NBA was driven largely this year by the emergence of a new villain: the Miami Heat.  And I, certainly, was just as interested in anybody in watching them fall.  What's curious about the Heat (and, specifically, LeBron James) is that they don't relish the role of villain the way others have.  Most teams, and players, that have engendered such negative feelings have relished their black hat, but the Heat haven't quite gotten things figured out.  LeBron might not have figured out how to be Michael Jordan, but he sure as hell doesn't have a clue how to be Dennis Rodman.

What's really interesting about these finals is the team cast in the role of National Last Hope: the Dallas Mavericks.  I think we'd all relegated them into the category of perpetual bridesmaid, that weird subclass of elite teams that, year after year, somehow come up short.  In the NBA, you've always had an abnormally large group.  I think we all just assumed that Dirk Nowitski's Mavs would join Reggie Miller's Pacers, Pat Ewing's Knicks, Karl Malone's Jazz, Chris Webber's Kings, and Allen Iverson's Sixers as fondly remembered, but ultimately fruitless, teams of unfulfilled greatness.  Suddenly, there's hope for every team that's been so close, but yet so far.  Yes, in the Mavericks' victory I somehow find an omen for the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles.

People want to look at the Mavericks defeat of the Heat as a triumph of good versus evil; I don't, if only because, in my experience, evil wins more often then not in the NBA (exibit A: how many rings does Kobe Bryant have?).  But that's certainly a compelling storyline, so I guess we'll stick with that.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Minimate Customs: Making Mine Marvel

As I continue to clear out my Minimate custom archives with "theme" posts, let's turn away from the DCU for the moment and take a look at the Distinguished Competition.  As I've previously stated, I don't make many Marvel customs.  But I've been making more recently, probably because I've got a lot more opportunity, since I'm printing decals, and I've come to the Hypno- Hustler, so I'd better take matters into my own hands (note: I'm not actually making the Hypno-Hustler... but I bet this guy will).  So what follows is a quick tour of the fringes of the Marvel Universe, where I've always preferred to hang.

Monday, May 16, 2011

So Long and Thanks for all the Fish

Wow, hard to believe it's been a whole month since my last post here, huh?  Time sure does fly. In that flying time I've been chewing around at least a half-dozen posts on various topics sure to amuse, delight and maybe, just maybe, make you better understand this condition we call human.  Of course, you're never going to get to read them, since the world's ending Saturday.  I might be able to squeeze in a Minimate post before then, but that's about it.
Who's picking him up at the airport?

Oh, you hadn't heard?  Yep, the Rapture's coming May 21st.  That's Saturday.  The Big R.  Kind of makes the NFL lockout seem like not a big deal, huh?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Minimate Customs: Around the DC Universe

Yeah, another post today, since I'm still trying to get caught up on my backlog of customs.  Plus, I just made someone yesterday that I'm very happy with, and I didn't want to wait to show him off.  So here's a smattering of some of my favorite customs from various DC Universe characters.

Minimate Customs: Preacher, or I've Been Ripped Off

Last week, talented customizer cheap hack Bob Harris showed off his entry in Custom Con 28 (that's an online "convention" of various action figure customizers showing off their work.  Yes... it's as dorky as it sounds.  At least we're not cosplayers!  Well, maybe some are.  I don't know them personally.  Forget that part), this set of Preacher Minimates based on... well, Preacher.  The very bloody (but pretty bloody good, though that's a bone of contention between my lovely wife and myself) comic book series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon published by Vertigo several years ago.  Now, I know what you're thinking..." Hey Ken, didn't you make Preacher customs ages ago?  Weren't you all ready to submit them to Custom Con yourself as part of your big Vertigo Minimates set?  Didn't Bob Harris, despite living in Germany and not know where you live, obviously break into your house and steal your ideas?"

And the answer is: of course that's what happened. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Banes of My Existence: Pennies

So I was at a fast food restaurant the other day... I've always found it strange to refer to fast food places as "restaurants".  Technically they are, I suppose, but only in the way that MTV is "music television", which is to say in name only.  Anyway, at this fast food joint which shall remain nameless (but it was Wendy's) I bought a chicken nuggets meal, medium size, and it was yummy, thanks for asking.  But while my appetite may have been sated, I left said establishment (again: Wendy's) less then satisfied.  For, you see, the cost of my meal- which, I must remind you, was ordered from a FIXED menu- was the painfully awkward figure of $6.02.

Six. Oh. Two.  There is no reason on God's green Earth for Wendy's to charge an extra .02 cents rather then a nice, round six dollars.  Well, okay, outside of greed, because when you add up all those .02 cents over the course of a year, it's probably a nice amount.  But I'll tell you a little secret: I would gladly- GLADLY!- pay $6.05 just to not get those three pennies back.

Pennies exist for one reason, and one reason only-- to make change.  I carry pennies with me only so that I can avoid getting more pennies.  Doesn't that seem silly?  Doesn't that seem like a complete waste of time?  Doesn't that seem like one little irritant from our daily lives that we could happily remove? And I'll tell you something else: most businesses would gladly get rid of the penny.  Remember the penny shortage from a decade ago?  Of course you don't.  The only thing sillier would be a junk mail shortage. See, there was a penny shortage, because the vast, vast majority of the things don't circulate.  So banks didn't have enough to give out, and retailers had to jump through hoops to make correct change.  It was preposterous.

The West Wing talked about eliminating the penny in an episode, and concluded that it wouldn't happen because Illinois wouldn't like it, because Abraham Lincoln's on the penny.  But... but... haven't we honored Lincoln enough?  He's still got the five dollar bill, after all.  And that great monument in Washington.  And a bunch of other things.  Really, I think we've done all right by ol' Abe.  And who really wants to keep Illinois happy anyway?  After all, as John Oliver points out, you're statisically more likely to go to jail if you're elected governor of Illinois then if you grow up in South Central L.A.

Here's a link to the Citizens for Retiring the Penny; I urge you all to join.  I'm throwing my considerable socio-political weight behind this thing.  Let's get this done, and have one less useless irritant out of our lives. Up next: cigarettes and guns.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Poem for Hillary-- Valentine's Day 2011

As some of you no doubt know, my wife has been doing a new thing each day this year, and recording the results on her blog.  Of course I had many suggestions of things for her to try, one of which was to write a sonnet for Valentine's Day, which I'd do likewise.  Then we'd each post the results on our blog, as kind of a crossover.  I'm afraid it didn't quite work out that way-- we didn't write sonnets.  And Hillary's ended up being much longer then mine.  But mine's as long as it needs to be; it hit the point that I didn't want to add anything more to it.  So here it is.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Minimate Customs: Batman Friends and Foes

So, while we are waiting for the Best Customs of 2010 results to roll in, I thought I'd take the time to clear out some of my customs in one big post.  I've made a lot of Batman related customs over the years, so making a big post of some of them will serve as both a nice theme and to clear out some of my backlog.  Previously, I posted my Two Face and Commishioner Gordon & Oracle customs, so be sure to check them out if you've never seen them.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Minimate Customs: Best of 2010

So some of the guys over at the Minimate Multiverse are holding a Best Customs of 2010 contest, and I've decided to enter my wares.  Some of my entries will be guys I've already shown here, but some are not, and seeing as how I needed to host my photos somewhere in order to send them in... here are my entries in the Best Customs of 2010 contest!

You've Gone Too Far, Conan

Look, I've been a Conan O'Brien fan for a long time.  I've been on Team CoCo long before we were calling it Team CoCo.  And sure, I never watched a minute of his "Tonight Show", but I was still outraged when he got hosed for Leno.  And, even though I haven't watched his new show, I'm glad it's there.  But now... now I'm not so sure.  Because Conan... you have crossed the line.

Now, let's overlook for now Conan's rather baffling inclusion of longtime Flash nemesis Captain Boomerang on a list of super heroes that suck, or his declaration that the guy who came up with a magic ring that turns the bearer's thoughts into solid-light constructs was "mailing it in that day".  No, what's really stirred me up is that Conan had the audacity to call Bat Lash- Bat Lash!- lame.  And that is something for which I shall not stand.

Bat Lash is a western character (please note I said western character, not super hero, which should automatically disqualify him from Conan's list.  But I digress) created by Reuben- award winning cartoonist (which is the highest award a cartoonist can receive, not, in this case, a sandwich) Sergio Argones.  He briefly had his own series in the late '60s, written by Argones and Denny O'Neil and beautifully illustrated by Nick Cardy.  Lash was a character very much influenced by the popular James Garner tv show Maverick, and his adventures were quite unlike any other western series comics had seen.  Though short lived, Bat Lash is remembered as one of the high points of the Silver Age, and widely regarded now as a classic. One of the first things I did when I started buying Silver Age comics was put together a complete run of Bat Lash, and I was not disappointed.  They are great comics, very sophisticated for the time and well worth reading.

In short, Bat Lash does not suck.  He is awesome.  You know who sucks?  Conan!

Conan's entire argument against Bat Lash seems to revolve around the fact that he looks like a bit of a dandy.  Now, I will grant you that the illustration that Conan showed (by Dave Gibbons, which I can't seem to find online) is not the most flattering, but come on.  Just because a man appreciates the finer things in life, it doesn't make him gay!  That's like saying that recently deceased NFL Hall of Famer Cookie Gilchrist wasn't a tough guy because he answered to the name "Cookie".  And Cookie Gilchrist was plenty tough.  Tough as nails.

One of the things that's always kinda bugged me about Conan is that he's obviously a geek, but he often ridicules geek culture for the sake of Joe Six-Pack.  He's like a geek minstrel.  It's just sad.  Well, I for one am not going to take it any more.  You're dead to me, Conan.  Dead to me!  From now on, I'll stick with a geek who remembers his roots: Stephen Colbert.

I'll give you Space Ranger and Ultra the Mulit-Alien, though.  They do suck.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wrapping Up Ex Machina

So I just read the last volume of Ex Machina, which has been out for a little while, but being frugal I waited until I found a copy for a price I could stomach on Amazon (boy, that must drive comic book creators nuts.  They already hate that we wait for the trade, and now they've got to deal with us waiting for the trade at a discount).  This was a bit of a milestone for me, because Ex Machina is the first comics series that I bought and read entirely in trade paperbacks as they were being published.  I've read other series entirely in this fancy new format, but that was always after publication had long begun (and, in some cases, finished) and it was just easier to buy the books.  But this was the first time that a new series was published, and I said nope, I'd rather have those as books, I'm gonna wait.  Now that's become standard practice for me, but at the time I remember it being excruciating.  I'd see the new issue on the shelf, and want to read it, but I'd pull my hand away like Stimpy with the History Eraser Button:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Minimate Customs: Two Face

So here's my first Minimate custom for the new year.  I'm jumping ahead quite a bit by showing him, but I'm so happy with him I just can't wait.  When DC Direct broke the hearts of children worldwide by electing to end DC Minimates for no good reason, there were several huge omissions from the DCU.  Perhaps the biggest was Two Face, in that we had most of the other major members of Batman's rogues gallery (Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman), but not  Two Face.  Moreover, Two Face's unique appearance was a test for any customizer, certainly one with my mediocre skills.  So I figured that the only way I'd ever get Two Face was to commission him, leaving a hole in my collection... and my heart... big enough for two.

The end.