Archive for February, 2008

Beau Smith asks what you’re spending a month on comics

Friday, February 29th, 2008

It’s a pretty good question. I’m afraid to know the answer…which, sadly, is easily findable in Quicken.

Beau also tells the story of his pretty cool Grandma.

William F. Buckley has passed

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

I know it’s not totally topically appropriate but Monitor Duty is more than comic books and WFB was, is, about more than politics. I was e-mailed this by Fox News, stamped at 11:22 AM


ABC Radio News informed me between 11:30 and noon. I found a post at National Review Online’s The Corner announcing it and currently on the online representation of the man’s legacy there is an ongoing series of tributes and wonder posts. If you have any thoughts or well wishes about it for the family or the magazine, send them here.

Expect a proper send-up, as proper as can be formulated by a relative untermensch such as myself, late by evening. I probably will not post a copy here but I might.

Obviously I am not worthy. Obviously I know not nearly enough to write a tribute or obituary. I would have to lie to say that WFB did not affect me.

It is morbidly funny and appropriately sad that my heroes tend to die from diseases of old age before I can meet and thank them.

I will also point out that “Pinky! Act like William F. Buckley!” is still one of my favorite lines from the Pinky and The Brain Animaniacs shorts. There! It’s relevant now!

Happy 30th Birthday, Erik!

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Erik Burnham is 30 today. Please post a comment wishing him the best.

What does he want as a present? He wants you to bookmark and visit, where his webcomic The Down Side is now updated on a daily basis!


Monday, February 25th, 2008

Sorry. I don’t know why it’s that funny. Maybe it’s the casting of Rachel.

The “Not For Air” series

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Adult Swim also ran this series of 30 second spots which are hilarious examples of creative bleeping.

Wonder Twins cartoons

Monday, February 25th, 2008

These short parodies were run on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim for a short time. Forgive me if you’ve all seen them, but I love them.

Review: EA Playground (Nintendo Wii)

Monday, February 25th, 2008

EA PlaygroundWii Sports, which is included in the purchase of a Nintendo Wii, can provide a nice light workout. I’m not saying it is as good as even walking for an hour, but it certainly can get the heart rate moving and muscles aching and that’s better for your health than sitting on your butt for the same amount of time. The nine pounds I lost last month were probably helped by all the Wii Tennis I played.

However, Wii Sports only has five games and there isn’t much variety to them after you’ve played a while. For this reason, I’ve been on the lookout for games that offer similar gameplay. There are a wide number of sport titles available for the Wii, but they often seem to rely more on the nunchuk stick or the Wiimote nav buttons than swinging and waving the Wiimote. My guess is that many developers are stuck in their design rut from other systems where it’s all a matter of button combos, and far too many Wii games rely on a lot of button clicking instead of arm swinging.

After scouting around on and other sites, I decided that my next likely candidate (until Nintendo decides to make their next sports entry) would be EA Playground. If nothing else, it has dodgeball…and I LOVED dodgeball as a kid!

The premise (in storyline mode) is that your player runs around the schoolyard, woods and nearby stadium challenging other kids to various competitions. Defeat the kid once, you get a golden sticker. Defeat all the kid’s “dares” and you’ll get a “bag of marbles” for completing each one, as well as unlocking other more challenging kids who play the same game. You can visit the Sticker King to purchase stickers in exchange for your bags of marbles; the stickers will unlock special moves and abilities in the games. Once you have mastered all other challenges (more on that later), you get to face off against the Sticker King in all of the competitions. I haven’t gotten that far yet. (Again, more on that later.)

Dart Shootout:

Dart Shootout begins as your standard “Hogan’s Alley” of pop-up moving and stationary targets, then throws in some opponent kids who fire back at you with suction cup darts. This game’s more fun than frustrating, with a lot of kidding around by the enemy boss. Good replay value, especially as you can team up with a buddy for multi-player. My only complaint is that to play this in storyline mode requires unlocking the Woods, the last level to open, before you can play dart shootout at all. The other dart players tell you that they’ll play against you once you’ve challenged the kid in the woods, which is locked. That’s just a little mean. Also puzzling as to why they did that, given that you have to play a bunch of lesser games to unlock a fun one.


Best game in EA Playground, easily, which is why it’s ballyhooed on the cover. The controls are easily mastered, making it a simple matter of strategy and skill. One-to-four human players makes this comparable to Wii Tennis in exertion and sustained enjoyment. You won’t get tired of this one for some time, and it would be a good game to break out at parties.

It’s funny that we live in an era where the real life game is being banned from schools for various nanny-state hand-wringing concerns, but at the same time it’s finally being recognized as a real sport. The EA Playground version makes it akin to a Judo competition, with the challengers dressed as black belts and doing martial arts moves before the round starts.


Another winner. Simple racing along preset lanes, and you skip across the lanes with a twist of the Wiimote. Along the way, you’ll encounter accelerating and braking strips and little boxes containing bonus items. You can raise a shield against attacks or drop a pile of tacks into the path of pursuing cars. Multi-player, too. If I have a complaint, it’s a standard one about any racing game: after a while, your thumb hurts from holding down the acceleration button constantly.

NOTE: The video above seems to be preview art; the final product is a bit more polished and the colored lanes don’t go green-yellow-red.

Wall Ball:

The last of the fun games, Wall Ball, is basically raquetball/handball by another name, with power-ups and wormholes thrown in. This could be another party game, as facing off against a real person would be more fun than a computer opponent.

NOTE: Again, the above is a preview video. The sound effects are a little different on the final version (not as annoying, in my opinion.).


Kicks is a made-up cross between tennis and soccer. It’s tough to figure out and so far I’m barely surviving it. It’s certainly not tripping my trigger, though possibly someone who understands what they’re supposed to do could be having more fun with it.

Paper Racers:

I thought this would be one of the best games in the package, but it’s proven quite frustrating. Some of the challenges involve hitting hard-to-see multicolor rings and all you can do is run the course again and hope that you’ve remembered every location. I suppose this could be a cakewalk to the kind of gamer who runs through Super-Mario games at top speed while memorizing every move to get every hidden item, but for me it’s almost unplayable. I’ve hit a wall in my ability to solve these puzzles and thus win the full game.


All I can say is that this is as maddening and exhausting as real tetherball. Many’s the time I think I know exactly when to swing and yet I miss the ball. Others I’ve played this with have found it just as aggravating. Given the power-swings your opponent can use against you, as well as sending the ball higher or lower, the harsh timing of the ball adds too much difficulty to this game.

Frankly, I can’t see little kids playing this without crying. I know I do. I also clutch my chest and wait for my heart and lungs to slow down. I think I hurt my shoulder playing this! I want to finish the whole game but I just can’t beat the expert tetherball champs. To literally add insult to injury, every time the computer beats you the opponent character laughs at you and does this victory dance that just makes you want to hit that little son of a bitch in the mouth. I hate this game. Once I beat it, or stop playing because I’ve lost a limb, I’m going to finish the story mode and then never ever play tetherball again.

While we’re on the subject…in addition to the seven actual games, there are small story challenges which you must complete in order to proceed to the final face-off with the Sticker King. Dribbling a basketball is easy-peasy. Bug hunting with a small net is a bit of a pain only due to the 3D playing field and the flakey arrow controls. However, shooting free throws is proving to be another impossible challenge for me. As an arrow moves back and forth over the net, you have to shoot a basketball only when the arrow is in the middle…and the speed isn’t constant, and you have to shoot 20 balls in 30 seconds. Again, it’s a pain in the tuchas and I wish I could just skip this little auxiliary challenge, but I can’t.

EA PlaygroundThe irritating weaknesses in Paper Racers, Tetherball and Kicks would be less frustrating if it was possible to skip the story mode altogether and just play the games you like. However, Story Mode must be played for at least a while just so you can unlock all of the players, areas and power moves for use in the Game Mode.

In all, “EA Playground” offers a truly exciting game (dodgeball), several solid entries (slot cars, wall ball, dart shootout) and of the remaining three all I can say is that your mileage my vary. Somebody must like those games or they wouldn’t be in there. I give it a “B+”, and it only rates that highly because it’s possible to play the games you like while skipping sucky ones like Tetherball.

The Greatest Action Story Ever Told

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

My brother and his kids showed this to me this evening.


Behold the nerd test

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

All should be required to take this test. says I'm a Dorky Nerd God.  What are you?  Click here!

Which image suits best? says I'm a Dorky Nerd God.  What are you?  Click here!

American Idol betrays its raison d’ĂȘtre?

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

American Idol has insisted since its premiere that it is all about making stars of regular old street folk.

Radar is publishing a report, or rather a cursory overview that more than suggests that rather than sweeping up gaggles of promising and practicing amateur singers in various cities, that the program American Idol, like NBC’s Last Comic Standing, is picking up (in some cases deliberately so) some low-key non-celebrity professionals, many of whom had large, expensive failed attempts to be high-powered successes in the music field already, including dropped contracts.

American Idol has been exposed by a longtime nemesis and the mainstream media as being nothing but a “boring hash of recycled pseudo-celebrities who weren’t good enough to make it the first time around.”

I don’t watch AI enough to really care what sort of performer the contest gives chances to, and I can only care who wins when I visit people who are watching the program. That any program is not what it claims to be is usually a shame. especially when (even though a talent show) it is a glorified GAME SHOW.

Capsule movie review – Angels in the Outfield

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

The kid doesn’t understand sarcasm and God helps an earthly baseball team cheat.

I passed my nerd test!

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008 says I'm a Cool High Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!

Capsule movie review – The Bourne Identity

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

The book makes this movie look and smell like over-simplistic crap made for undereducated children.

That said it is a terrific movie. Read the book and realize that the movie is (almost) nothing like it.

Capsule movie review – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Original Flixter review – Fine movie. Too short.

Expanded: This cinematic posthumous manifestation of Douglas Adams’ magnificent multimedia plotline (strictly speaking the first medium that The Hitchhiker’s Guide canon appeared in was a radio program) was disappointing to the majority of the fans of the novel series, the first novel, or Douglas Adams’ stuff in general. The difficultly of adaptation from prose to screen, and from British atheistic wit to general interest American audiences’ interest becomes readily apparent when watching this movie. I also would have made different choices when the creative license was exercised. The film was also too short.

what kind of movie reviews can I write?

Monday, February 18th, 2008

It’s simple! There are three sorts of movie reviews I have written, attempted to write, or actually had published in one form or another.

I have written normal formal movie reviews in my high school newspaper (this was nearly ten years ago) and a few on Monitor Duty (although there have been far less here than I had intended, thanks to my poor habits and discipline level at times), which is why there are no reviews of Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, or Cloverfield. That sort of movie review is where I assess the quality of a movie, summarize a bit of the plot and the execution thereof, the performances of the actors and technical aspects of the film as well as other details. In those sorts of writings major spoilers, especially of an intensive or extensive nature (let alone of a nature of both kinds) is frowned upon.

What I intended to do with X-Men: The Last Stand, yet failed to do, was a traditional movie review, and the second kind of review immediately afterwards. The second kind of movie review is what I know as the Spoilermaker. It launches into the movie vengefully telling you what counts, what matters, and bringing up the dumbest and most horrific (surprising) points of/about the movie as like a traitor’s head jammed onto a pike. You the reader will know ahead of time that it is a Spoiler-filled article right away because the sort of review is told to you so thus you have no room to complain that I spoiled the movie for you. The first sentence will contain a massive spoiler which will remove all reason to see a movie if the movie truly sucks and perhaps may contain extra incentive if the movie is awesome, although a Spoilermaker is more fun to write and more worthwhile to read or even to exist in the case of bad movies. I have never successfully pulled off a Spoilermaker that my increasingly senile mind can recall.

The third kind of movie is a capsule review. These are the stuff you usually see on Amazon and are what I (and other users) have worked in with the Flixter application on Facebook. These are short reviews that generally only hit on one or two points that really seem exceptionally relevant to the writer. What the reviews say present a specific idea or a laserlike focus on one or two or three aspects of the film, stuff that jumps out quite right.

In part it is important that I introduce all of these concepts in this short order and prepare all supposed readers for my intentions.

I intend to dump all of my Flixter-prepared Capsule reviews on Monitor Duty for the rest of this month.

They will be short; it will be sweet. No one will complain. Least of all me.

Kids today!

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

Things get out of control at a birthday party.

(There’s also an uncensored version if you want to check that out.)

Kistler Invades Your Television

Friday, February 15th, 2008

Tuesday the 19th at 10 PM is the premiere of a new mini-series “TEN GREAT REASONS” on FUSE TV (a cable music network). The mini-series is done in the vein of “I Love the 70s”, with each episode covering a specific topic such as “Hair Metal”, “Rap Moguls” and “Boy Bands.” I have been interviewed for this mini-series as a “comic book expert” and have been told I will be appearing in every episode. I don’t know if that’s necessarily true (you know how editing is these days), but be sure to catch the series, which will air weekly until some time in April, and watch me compare Justin Timberlake to Nightwing and Pink to Harley Quinn.

Vote for your Monopoly city

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Star Trek Pushed To May 2009

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

View image
Click above for the details. But the gist of it is that Star Trek is being moved to a May 2009 opening instead of Christmas 2008 to take advantage of the summer box office. And some speculate it also is a result of possibly less competition that summer due to the writers strike. All I know I is that now I have to wait another 5 months. Arrrgh! Fargin’ Bastidges.

Guess who just wet his pants.

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

I did.

Witty dialog? Check.

Great action, laced with self-reflective humor? Check.

Indy kickin’ trash? Double check. (Harrison Ford’s still got it!)

I’m definitely seeing this on opening night. I’m officially psyched.

MICHAEL TAKES OVER THE POST: Awww, heck…here’s the video, right here: