Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Read Lately: Heartbreak Soup

  • If you are at all interested in independant comics, you've probably heard of Love and Rockets. I have many, many reasons for never reading the series before. First, it took me a good long while to shake off the superhero-centric bias. Not that it was ever that bad. But indy black-and-whites weren't on the radar back in the day. Second, anytime I did see a collection, it was some odd little slice of the story and I hate to jump into anything in the middle.

  • That's two. I swear there were many, but I lost the rest when Blogger timed me out. Really.

  • While age and maturity took care of the first problem, Fantagraphic Books took care of the second by producing this wonderfully designed collection of the first half of Gilbert Hernandez's Palomar epic. And I'm not throwing epic out there lightly. Heartbreak Soup tells the story of small town in an unnamed South or Central American country. It starts with the town banadora woman, Chelo, who is remembering her time as a midwife and the children she brought into the world. This one simple tale lays the groundwork for a story about the interactions of those children and the rest of the town that covers the next thirty or so years. And it's all right there from the beginning.

  • If you're wondering, banadora is a professional bather. That means she gives men baths for a living. Who knew?

  • The only problem I have with the book is the dead stop the story comes to at the end. The second half of the tale, Human Disatrophism, is set to be released in July 2007. Oh, how I loathe the waiting.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Top Five: Cancelled TV Series

  • Angel: I was a latecomer to the Buffy-verse, having avoided watching until season 4. This was the same year Angel launched. And since I'd never seen the title character in Buffy, I didn't feel any burning desire to watch a spin-off before I'd experienced the main series. Thank goodness for the all-mighty DVD box set (a sentiment I'll be repeating often during this list). After getting all caught up (and desperately needing a Buffy fix of some sort), my wife and I settled in for season four of Angel. Which they cancelled at the end of the season. The story of my life right there, folks.

  • Firefly: That very same year, Joss Whedon decided he wanted to try something different. He grabbed his producer from Angel, Tim Minear, and gave us: outer space, grown up, and with the space-as-western metaphor made much more explicit. I'm surprised we got as much as we did. Fox did no one any favors by showing the episodes out of order, though I can understand them wanting to shift a couple of the weaker episodes (they are!) until later in the run. Oh well. At least we got Serenity, even if my expectations for the film were too high.

  • The Inside: This is actually Tim Minear show number 4 on this list, since he didn't do his shows in alphabetical order. After coming off Wonderfalls, Fox asked him to take over a floundering show that was essentially 21 Jump Street all over again. Tim drew on his Buffy roots and turned it into a monster-of-the-week show, though this time it was the FBI against human monsters. Six episodes we got before it was crushed by Dancing with the Stars. If this blog were written on paper, the tear stains would show up right about here. And in case you're curious, no DVD for this. You'll have to devolve to web-piracy if you're curious about this show.

  • Sports Night: This show would make the list even if Tim Minear had a fifth show cancelled out from under him, it was that good. Sports Night was Aaron Sorkin's (of West Wing and A Few Good Men fame) first foray into network television. This show about a cable sports show called Sports Night was an odd concoction: a half hour drama that had to fight to lose the laugh track forced on it. It ran for two years and has some of the best comedic and dramatic moments on television. So of course no one watched and it was canned. Once again, DVD to the rescue (and my wife for making it my christmas present a few years back) and I was able to experience it in its entirety.

  • Wonderfalls: Here's Tim Minear's tv career: part three. After Firefly was put down by Fox (the network), 20th Century Fox (the studio) asked him to help get Bryan Fuller's new show back onto the rails. And he did an amazing job with a snarky sense of humor and a genuinely interesting premise. Four episodes and then poof. Again, the DVD shows us that people are idiots for not watching in the first place. Incidently, between this and The Inside, Tim Minear learned the painful lesson that the general public does not want an (initially) unlikable main character that is going to develop over time. They want their likability and they want it now!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Played Lately: World of Warcraft

  • I have previously established that I like World of Warcraft, the very definition of the massively multiplayer online game genre. Therefore it may seem counter-intuitive to you that I don't like to play my video games with other people. I dislike it to such an extent that this blog was temporarily named Solo Gamer before I came to my senses, limited as they may be. I don't have anything against other people, per se, though I have run into the requisite number of net-idiots. It's just that people sometimes form attachments with those they play with and I am allergic to responsibility in any form. I'd rather play when I want to play without dependencies to anyone else.
  • Here's the implication you might be picking up: making friends in an online game can actually make me avoid playing that game! How weird is that?
  • This is why World of Warcraft and Guild Wars before it were perfect for me. You can do just about anything you want without interacting with anyone else. WoW has balanced the quests so that the majority can be completed by a single, carefully played character. Grouping just makes the quests fly by faster. GW has the heroes and henchmen to fill out a party when you don't want to worry about other players. They aren't as smart as a real player, but they aren't nearly as dumb, either.
  • I told you all that so I could tell you this: I finally joined a pickup group to run the library wing of Scarlet Monastery. That just happens to be one of those things that you can't do solo, at least not until it's no longer worth doing solo. I am quite proud of myself. We went in, killed a bunch of crazy people, picked up some nice loot. And not once did they ask if they could put me on their Friends List. Whew!
  • If you just so happen to play the game, you might be interested to see how my main character is progressing. No cracks about my weak gear, please. Me and Ms. Dolly Parton could tell you a thing or too about being proud of what you have to wear.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Played Lately: The Sims 2

  • I mentioned earlier that my old computer had gone to met its maker. No, I don't mean Hewlett Packard; I mean it's dead. Whenever this has happened to me in the past (and it happens with alarming regularity), I take the opportunity to reacquaint myself with many games that I haven't played in a long time. Maybe it's because I just gave up on it. Maybe I got distracted by the next shiny thing that gave my way. Or maybe my last system didn't have enough juice to help a game reach its full potential. That is how I found myself reinstalling The Sims 2.

  • Like any good sandbox game, there is no wrong way to play The Sims 2. The game even rewards you for picking an appropriate goal and having at it. My wife loves maximize her sim's skills and reach for the top of the career tracks. Our mutual friend, Stefanie, establishes enormous family structures and guides her multitudes through the stages of life.

  • I play to have attractive women make out. I know there are other ways to play, but I haven't gotten past the kissing yet. I've spoken with my male friends at work and we pretty much agree that women kissing other woman is a major selling point of the game. I'm surprised they don't put that on the box. It's not there; I checked.

  • The other thing I found out is that I like to buy new clothes for my sim. And not just the slutty clothes that seem so popular online. I even downloaded a wedding ensemble recently.

  • Um, yeah. Too much information? Probably.

  • So with that, I'm off to bed. My personal Energy Desperation icon just popped up.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Read Lately: Fallen Angel - To Rule In Hell

  • I first became aware of Fallen Angel the same way I hear about most good comic books: I read about it being cancelled. There is nothing like the lamentations of a loyal, if tiny, fanbase to draw my attention.

  • I've done my share of lamenting: Firefly, Wonderfalls, etc.. In spite of what most people say, there is not a big audience for good entertainment. What everyone wants is comfort. Don't be clever, don't challenge them, and for goodness sake don't make them think. Just make them happy. Okay, I'll turn down the bitter faucet.

  • To Rule In Hell is the second volume of the IDW series of Fallen Angel, itself the follow up to the cancelled DC Comics series. If that sounds like an odd jumping on point, I will admit to reading the first DC trade and the first few IDW issues. Here we get to see Lee, the titular fallen angel, in her first adventure upon arriving on earth (I think). Then as the story comes back to the present, we see how those actions still resonate today. The volume raps up with a more conventional story wherein Lee travels with a virtoso singer to Tibet so he can be cured of his fatal illness.

  • While Fallen Angel may not be the most amazing comic being published, it is one that deserves a much wider recognition than it gets. It easily stands up with anything Brian K. Vaughan and Bill Willingham is writing. Heck, I've already asked the local bearded comic guy to order me the first volume. I can't wait.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

News Filter: Rumors of Guild Wars 2

  • Okay, now I'm confused. Excited, but confused.

  • You see, there is this site that is not the most highly regarded when it comes to gaming news. But you throw enough rumors at the wall and eventually one of them is going to say, "I'll talk, just stop throwing me at the wall!" Then, of course, comes the non-denial denial to fan the flames. What am I to think? Will there really be a Guild Wars 2?

  • Honestly, I've been pretty straightforward about my decent disillusionment with Guild Wars. Over the course of three chapters, I think enough errors have crept into the system that just can't be fixed. And enough limitations have shown up that creative coding just can't get around. If takes the opportunity to give Guild Wars a fresh start, I'll be right behind them.

  • Unless it's subscription-based, which as I discussed before, is an abomination that cannot be borne.

  • As far as the potential for a fourth chapter for Guild Wars, I am in for the long haul with the game. I can't let my Kira sit bored for too long.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Admin: My First Hiatus

  • Only a couple posts in and I've already taken my first hiatus from the blog. There's got to be some sort of award for that, right?

  • Not that it was my fault, per se. I didn't want to hiate at that particular moment. It's just that my computer died and it was a very trying time. Not that I should make excuses. I could have found another computer to post from. But a man doesn't cheat on his computer, not while there is still hope she'll recover. Of course when she died, I immediately forgot about the old hag and upgraded to the newer, sexier model. Thus, I post. Everyone rejoice while my new computer and I get acquainted.

  • I wonder what my wife will think of this post? Maybe Hiatus Part Two will start sooner than I'd like.

  • In the meantime, why haven't I heard about this until now? I do love me some Talisman.