Saturday, December 1, 2012

I Know I Shouldn't be Surprised, But...

... I am surprised- shocked, really, and horrified- that the NFL is carrying on with tomorrow's Kansas City Chiefs- Carolina Panthers game in the wake of Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdering his girlfriend and then committing suicide in front of Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel and GM Scott Pioli.  I know that the NFL has never been known for its' sensitivity, but this strikes a new low.  Rather then allow an obviously distraught team(not to mention community) a day or two to collect themselves, the Chiefs will take the field a little more then 24 hours after one of their teammates orphaned his three- month old son daughter.  Crennel will have to try and lead his troops through a game with visions of one of them ending his life.  And why?  Because this is a heavyweight game between two playoff-bound titans.  Oh, nope, not that: the Panthers are 3-8, the Chiefs the worst team in the league at 1-10.  But, you see, this game has ramifications.  What if the game were cancelled, and the Denver Broncos miss out on a first-round bye because the Chiefs are only 1-14, and their strenghth of schedule is affected?  Wouldn't that be a tragedy?

No, of course it fucking wouldn't.

So now we know what's more important then football: nothing.  Not even death.  I'm sure that Crennel and the Chiefs players want to play... but they shouldn't.  Just like in every other profession, your place of work would be closed the day after a tragedy, since it's still a crime scene, for god's sake. The NFL has to be the voice of reason here.

In 1963, the week after John Kennedy was killed, the NFL played its' full slate of games to massive national criticism.  Legendary commishioner Pete Rozelle called it the greatest regret of his career.  Well, congratulations, Roger Goddell: by allowing a meaningless game to be played the day after an employee kills himself on your property, you're finally in Rozelle's class.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Minimate Customs: Calvin & Hobbes

It's been a while since I've shown off any customs.  The truth is that I've been none too active for most of the year, and so, despite the fact that I still have quite a backlog of 'mates to post, I haven't really been inspired to do so.  Well, that changed this week when I realized that a project I'd had on the back burner would make for a perfect entry in a contest my buddy Luke Porter's running.  The theme? Dynamic Duos.  My entry?  Well, see for yourself:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

As Good an Explination as Any

The other day, my (soon to be) five year old daughter asked me why the Eagles are so bad.  I said I didn't know.  She then said "maybe the Eagles are so bad because Dr. Doofenshmirtz zapped them with an inator."  I said that makes as much sense as any other explanation.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

On Guns and Violence

Last year, my wife took on the challenge of doing one new thing every day, which she recorded on her blog 365 Alive.  Among the many cool things she did was to go target shooting with my dad.  For me, as I was tagging along, this raised several ethical and moral dilemmas.  For one,  Dad suggested we bring our daughter along, something I was not comfortable with.  For another, he offered to let me shoot as well.  I had to think about this.  I've never held a gun, much less fired one.  In the end, I said thanks but no thanks, having decided that I'd rather spend my life knowing I've never squeezed a trigger, even in a controlled setting.

I can honestly, unequivocally, say that I hate guns and that I think the world would be a much better place without them.  Now, this doesn't mean that I hate gun enthusiasts; I don't hate my dad, obviously, whom I'd certainly term a responsible gun user.  But it does make me uncomfortable knowing he has weapons in the house, even if they are secured.  I don't know how long he's owned a gun, and I don't know if we had a gun in the house during my childhood, and frankly, I don't want to know.

I bring all this up now, obviously, as I continue to process the horrible shooting at a midnight screening of the new Batman movie in Colorado.  Of that, I don't think there's much to say.  But, as always seems to happen in the wake of these ever-more frequent public massacres, my own feelings have begun to shift from grief and horror to anger and bafflement that we as a nation and community don't seem more outraged.  Oh, we're all outraged at the shooter, no doubt.  But why aren't we more outraged that he had guns?

From all early evidence, it seems clear that the shooter purchased his weapons legally, and passed any background check required to purchase weapons.  And our collective response?  To shrug and say "well, he purchased the weapons legally".  Doesn't that very fact implicitly imply that it should be harder to get a gun?  That background checks and waiting periods are fine and good, but they do nothing to deter the citizen with no criminal record and murder in his heart?

Unfortunately, bizarrely, incidents like this, and the Gabby Giffords shooting, and the Virginia Tech shootings, and hell, even Columbine, in the same damn state, seem to do little to move public sentiment towards stricter gun laws.  I've gone beyond asking "what will it take?", because if those things won't convince a majority of the population that outlawing assault weapons is a good idea, I can't (and don't want to) imagine what will.

Here's what I'd like to ask every gun enthusiast, every NRA member, everyone that has fought against any legislation that would eliminate the general public's ability to purchase assault weapons: why?  Why do you need them?  What is the possible reason that any private citizen would need assault weapons, or body armor, or tear gas, or any of the other items used by this lunatic?  And, I'm sorry, but "I like them", or any answer that essentially comes down to "I like them" is simply not fucking good enough.  The argument that "if we outlaw guns, only criminals will have them" is such a strawman, because, firstly, of course only criminals will have them: that's the point.  If they're illegal, you're a criminal if you possess them.  But, more importantly, we'll never know how stricter gun laws will work.  We'll never know if James Holmes might have been deterred had he not been able to walk into a store and buy an item whose only purpose is mayhem.  But we know that he was able, and we should all be appalled by that truth.

Really, what I don't understand is why gun enthusiasts aren't more outraged that something they love is more perverted, and why the NRA isn't leading the charge for stricter gun laws.  Because, let me tell you, as a lifelong comic-book and Batman enthusiast, I'm pretty devastated right now.  It seems to me an inescapable conclusion that something I love contributed directly to the death of twelve people.

Brutal,violent imagery has become such an accepted part of our culture that we barely even blink any more.  My wife, in talking about this last night, told me that, as a comic book novice, the first time she read Preacher she could barely make it through the book, so appalled was she by the gratuitous violence.  Then, upon rereading it two years later, she barely noticed.  In just two years, she'd become almost completely desensitized to the violence.  I can't imagine what a lifetime of it has done to me.  But I'm not so desensitized yet to not be aware that comics have become far more brutal over the last twenty years, and that I wonder what exactly goes on in the heads of writers like Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, and Robert Kirkman that allows them to devise such elaborate depictions of death and mutilation.  It makes me sad that I have to be very careful of what comics I leave laying around my home, lest my four year old daughter pick up, say, the issue of Teen Titans where a beloved pet turns out to be a beast from Hell and brutally, graphically murders his owners.

I do not advocate censorship, nor do I believe a return to the Comics Code Authority is in order, but I do think that all of us that create, consume and enjoy Geek culture need to seriously evaluate how it has evolved.  It's not enough to say "that guy was sick; I enjoy violence, and I'm not going to shoot anyone, so I don't want it taken away or watered down"; any factor that may have contributed to a violent crime needs to be analyzed, not dismissed, certainly not for the sole purpose of keeping one's toys intact.

This post has been written in haste, and I freely admit that it comes from a place of emotion.  I will not presume that my opinions expressed herein will be popular, or are completely rational, but right now I'm just sick and tired of watching people die needlessly and saying nothing.  I welcome any rational, reasonable disagreements.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Minimate Customs: Earth-2 Huntress and Robin

When I began customizing Minimates, I had a short list of characters that I really wanted to do.  Some of these were pretty easy to do, as it turned out.  But there have been a few that stretched my (meager) skills, and actually completing those projects has been hugely satisfying.  You saw one last time I posted a custom, with the Rocketeer; today, you're going to see another, one of my all-time favorite characters, and longest gestating project.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Someone Needs to Get Jonathan Papelbon to Paris Immediately

Here's a quote from new Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon regarding his new home town:

"Philadelphia has a cool feel to it, man,'' Papelbon says. "It's a vibe that the city produces. It makes you feel like you are in Paris. I've never been to Paris, but I've seen it in a lot of movies. I think [Philadelphia] is going to be a great place to live."

Look... I love Philadelphia.  I agree that it's got a cool feel, and is a great place to live.  But... Paris?  PARIS?!  That's just insane.  I get that you're trying to endear yourself to your new city, but let's keep it realistic, okay?

I do like the "it reminds me of this place... I've never been there" aspect of his quote, though.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Comics at Columbia

Yesterday, I took a trip into New York City with my cartoonist buddy Robert Berry to attend the first day of the Comic New York Symposium at Columbia University.  The symposium was the brainchild of Columbia Librarian Karen Green, a Medievalist by training and a graphics novel librarian by force of will.  Karen's been a big supporter of Rob's work over the last few years, and I've gotten to know her while riding on his coattails to all these cool comics events to which he gets invited.

The inspiration for the symposium was longtime X-Men mastermind Chris Claremont's donation of his archives to the library's Rare Book and Manuscript collection.   I think this is a very significant development, and Claremont's probably the most mainstream of comics writers, and that his career only stretches back into the '70s, and not the periods we generally think of as historically important.  I'd never seen Claremont speak before; generally, when I attend a comic book convention I tend to prefer blowing my family's savings wandering the floor to attending panels.  But Claremont's a tremendously engaging speaker, and I, never much of an X-Men fan, found myself enraptured like the world's biggest Marvel Zombie. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Minimate Customs: The Rocketeer

At the top of my short list of dream custom projects is Dave Stevens' the Rocketeer.  I just love the character, and the comic, and I think the movie is probably the best translation of a comic to the big screen (not that it's necessarily the best comics movie, but the closest to the source material).  The only 1/6 scale figure I own is the Sideshow Rocketeer, and he's also one of the only Kubricks I've bought. Much as I like both those figures, though, they just don't fulfill my desire for either a 6" action figure, or a Minimate. While the action figure remains a Disney-shattered dream,  the Minimate is, of course, a different story.....
Presenting... the Rocketeer!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Million Dollar Cheeto

There are a lot of ways to waste your money. Lord knows I'm something of an expert.  But I've not yet wasted a million dollars.  At least, I've not yet wasted it on just one thing.  And I've not wasted it on one thing that's a piece of snack food.  I wouldn't have thought I'd even have the chance.  But the world's a big place, my friends, and so I give to you:

The Million Dollar Cheeto

I've read this thing a few times, and I honestly can't decide if the seller is being extraordinarily sincere, or extraordinarily sarcastic.  I mean, lines like
I prayed for a way to enable me to do more for others and aid their needs.  In answer to my prayers…I didn't get a million dollars instead I got a Cheeto with a heart! And on the flip-side it smiles!!! No kidding! It’s totally awesome.

could go either way.  This auction's been up for over a year now, and he's got 31 offers, and I'd love to know what they are.  Is he holding out for the million?  If someone came to him and said "look, I've only got $800,000" would he turn it down?  

All I know is, if I was in a financial position to literally waste a million dollars, I would buy that Cheeto.  And I would carry it with me in it's little box and use it as the greatest conversation stater ever.  Perhaps, if a million of us get together and donate a dollar, we can pitch in and buy it and have it once a day for, like, every million days.  That sounds pretty good, doesn't it? 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Minimate Customs: CM Punk and Stone Cold Steve Austin

Same as last post, here's another set of customs featuring one entry for the "Best Custom Minimates of 2010" contest, along with a friend.  Today brings us two of the best from the world of the WWE.  Remember how I said I wasn't as keen about Star Wars Minimates as some others?  Well, I feel the opposite about WWE.  I think WWE could easily be the most profitable Minimate license of all, since it features a neverending roster of characters old and new, easy variants, and would require minimal new parts.  Anyway, here's the only two WWE customs I'm likely to make....

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Minimate Customs: Han Solo and Luke Skywalker

Well, the calendar's turned over, and you know what that means:  time for the "Best Minimate Customs of 2011" contest!  You may remember my post from last year in which I showed off a few of my nominations not yet posted.  Well, I'm doing the same thing again, but, as I've been much more proactive with getting my work out there, I've only two customs I plan to submit for consideration that aren't already up here.  So I'm going to divide them up into two separate posts, each one paired with a like-minded custom.