|Mon Oct 25 -- Whew!
Well, I'm back from my last taste of America before we all ring the big bell and find out what happens. How was it? Let's see...
( Most recent cartoons are Genocide and Uncommon Wisdom, by the way.)
Ubercon was a good time. I wanna thank the organizers for bringing me in to check it out; I just wish I'd been a better draw for them. Before I left I explained to people that I was going to a gaming convention because there are gamers and there are webcomics fans and that there's a fair amount of overlap between the two groups. What I didn't realize until U4 was that the overlap is quite specific; gamers like webcomics about games.
Since I don't have one of those, I fell outside the zone of interest for most of the con attendees. A few fine folks came by and bought some books (thanks you guys!) but the weekend was mostly a wash in BobCorp terms. In human terms, though, I had a pretty enjoyable ball. It was a game convention and I played some games, a little Tekken on a Dance Dance Revolution floor pad (sweaty!), a little late-night Karaoke Revolution, some Burnout 3 crash party, a little Unreal Tournament and a quick taste of a kung-fu card game smartly called Kung-Fu Fighting. I also got a chance to hang out with some webcomics cats like Brian Clevinger of Nuklear Power (8-Bit Theatre) and Tim Buckley of Ctrl-Alt-Del. And of course there was Randy Milholland of Something Positive in fine human-hating fettle handing out much-needed bars of soap to the gamey gamers who surrounded us.
The hotel that hosted the con was a real piece of work, I gotta say. I spent Friday and Saturday morning shaking my head at the lengthy stretch of ugly industrial yellow hallway con-goers had to negotiate to get to the main exhibit area tucked underneath the parkade. Then, midway through Saturday, the ugly hallway was blocked off and we actually had to walk through the literal bowels of the hotel, round back through the service corridors and up the fire escape to get to and fro. Yeesh. I mean, yeah, we're gamers, we're scum, but did the hotel really have to be so obvious about it?
I also got the chance to talk to a couple of Bush voters, a pair of women who stopped me in the hallway to ask what all these goings-on were. We got to chatting and we talked about Iraq, Bush's Presidency, me saying that from the Canadian perspective it seems so blindingly clear that he has to go and yet there are Americans who support him. They agreed with a lot of what I had to say about the folly of the war, we talked about the health care system, blah blah blah. At the end I asked if she was one of those legendary undecided voters and she said no, she couldn't vote for Kerry because of the abortion issue and because she didn't trust Kerry's wife. There wasn't really anything I could say to that except to express regret that she was giving her vote to men who didn't care how they got it and who will hurt America terribly. I gave her a book; I wonder what she'll think of it?
Then I spent a week in New York City, gratefully crashing at old Gateway alum/Sound & Vision editor Pete Pachal's Harlem pad. Let's see, what kinds of things happened? Ascended the Empire State Building. Went to the Natural Museum of History (fucking awesome!). Got on a lot of the wrong subway trains. Got on many more of the right ones. Rationed my beadies. Ate some greeeeaaaaat food (breaded pork chops with applesauce [at a place that served chicken on waffles! Astonishing!], some awesome Thai curry and unbelievable flaming volcano chicken).
Beyond that, I got to see some of the great cartoonists who reside in the area. Went to the New York Public Library with fellow Attitude 2er Mikhaela Reid and went over to Nina Paley's place and made a mini-Freddie out of sculpti-clay. And, greatly, I was able to see a fair bit of Ruben Bolling, creator of the awesomely powerful Tom the Dancing Bug (it was he who suggested the magnificent Thai place with the volcano chicken), as well as share drinks with Attitude 1er Lalo Alcarez of La Cucaracha. Hangin' out with cartoonists-- it's a blast!
And now I'm back and trying to get my life back together, starting with finishing up this update. More stuff to come later in the week.
Wed Oct 13 -- Hoo Boy
Whoa did I ever miscalculate. I smoked and drank way too much during the debate and now I'm sitting here, my head's throbbing, and I'm trying to do this big I'm taking-off-for-a-week update. Ouch.
So, cartoons. I'm kinda struggling with whether to give you guys both this week's and next week's now, or to hold off on next week's until I get back the last week of October. Ah, screw it, let's do both. Here's this week's:
And here's next week's:
I've been mentioning this for the last few weeks but here it is: I'm off to new Jersey for Ubercon IV with all the gaming and webcomics fun I could imagine. If any of you folks live in the area, check it out.
Last Presidential Debate
Gad, my head's aching, I barely have anything to say...
The Bush I Remember
I wish I had more detailed stuff to say, but the thing that hit me immediately and stayed with me the whole time was that we were back to normal Bush, the Bush of the first debate. I don't know how he pulled off last week's debate performance but it was gone this time around. Bush was fumbling, mumbling, interrupting himself, reaching for words. He flailed. he didn't answer questions, he'd follow up other quiestions by throwing out the same old smears, he was a mess. A buddy pointed out that his lips were flecked with foam.
The final question about the candidates' wives allowed them both to glide out of the debate sounding reasonably human, but as far as I could tell it was babble-Bush all over again.
Thank you and Good night
All right, I gotta get up at 5 in the morning to grab the shuttle to begin my journey, so I'm gonna say adieu. Adieu!
Tues Oct 12 -- One More Debate
And then we'll be back to pre-scripted crap and canned campaign yap for the remainder of the election, two and a half weeks of uninterrupted Bush spin. Yeesh. Most recent strip is My Computer is a Monster, by the way...
The Leaden Angels
Got another chapter of the Leaden Angels, The War of the Omelettes, in which Constantine Rudman finds himself enmeshed in a Monty Python Cheese Shop-style web of bureaucratic impossibility.
Movie Review-type Stuff...
Got two reviews for you, both a bit early but what can you do? The first is for David O. Russell's I Heart Huckabees, a highly pleasing existential goof-around, and the other is the hilarious but politically irritating Team America: World Police.
I've had a fair number of links sent in over the last couple of weeks; let's examine some. First off several people have sent links to articles advancing the Bush-was-wired theory, particularly this one from the Register as well as plenty of links to IsBushWired.Com. Then there's an article about the slow-motion collapse of the US election system; expect huge "irregularities" come November 2nd, folks! Then I got tipped to a Lalo Alcaraz cartoon that dares to horn in on my Cheney's Heart territory with this one about El Corazon De Cheney. And then this isn't a link exactly so much as it is a picture a fan sent in of a Bob-styled Jack O' Lantern, like so:
And then there's somebody who wants a link to AtoZcostumes.com, so I say sure, why not? Or actually, no, I say not, now that people have informed me that it's a scummy link farm.
I know, I know, I keep pointing this out, but Ubercon is this very weekend, folks, Friday to Sunday, and I, I say I will be there. So come check it out.
Fri Oct 8 -- Showdown
Gotta say, I'm all a-tingle about this debate... boy oh boy...
Obviously drawn from the real-life events described below.
No new reviews right this second, though I'll be catching I Heart Huckabees this morning and writing it up this afternoon, so we'll see when I can get that up. And I'm planning to hit one of the Team America Saturday sneak previews so I should be gettin' that baby up there by Tuesday. Woo!
Check Back Here to See If I've Blabbed About the Debate!
This is drunken first impressions only; it's gonna take a while to digest this one.
The single most shocking thing for me was how well Bush performed. I'm not saying he did well, or won, but he filled two minutes in a way I've never seen before. He threw out facts and data like he was Dick Cheney. I swear I was looking for the ear-wire the whole time. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I'll attribute it to intensive coaching.
Beyond that, I"ve only got a few impressions. The first was Bush yapping down the moderator about halfway through in order to get his point across. What the hell was that? Then there was Bush's "Who needs wood?" moment, source of much hilarity in my living room when uttered. The abortion question, second to last, laid it out. Kerry gave a surprinsingly coherent actual position, and then Bush lost it; I'm gonna have to check the tape to see why. And then there was the last question, to Bush, asking him to list three errors and what he'd learned. And he fell apart. He couldn't bring himself to say anything beyond complaining about some of his appointments.
My current favorite line of Bush's: "The truth of that matter is, if you listen carefully, Saddam would still be in power if he were the president of the United States, and the world would be a lot better off." (ital mine)
As I say, these are confused and conflicted first impressions. Plus, I'm hammered. I'll chime in with more sensible stuff later.
Tues Oct 5 Vice Prez update
Just a quick post-debate bloggy thing for y'all...
Cheney Steps Up
No knockout, that's for sure.
In a way this debate was like a strange mirror version of the last one. On the left we had Kerry then Cheney and on the right we had Bush then Edwards. So to me, with his youth and southern twang, Edwards was like a smart, competent version of Bush, the Bush Bush would be if he actually knew anything. Edwards was doing the Bush thing, hitting the talking points, bringing up the phrases Kerry had used in the debate, but he did it while also knowing tons of facts and having good arguments at his disposal. Against him was Cheney doing the Kerry thing, keeping his cool, responding to attacks with mountains of contrary-sounding evidence.
It was like a ping-pong game. Edwards would take his shots, then Cheney would launch his own attacks, then Edwards would fire it back. Then the next question would come and Cheney would spend a few seconds continuing the previous argument. Edwards did the same. The rally went for pretty much the whole debate; the only moment anybody lost his footing and missed a shot was right near the end with Edwards goofing with the "Don't use John Kerry's name" thing. I gotta say Cheney was cool under pressure. He didn't get mad, he didn't look too scary, he responded to every question and attack with a calm avalanche of impressive-sounding assertions.
The one name that almost never came up was Bush. Edwards stuck to attacking the administration and defending Kerry, and passed up opportunities to draw direct comparisons between Kerry and Bush. Which is a shame, cuz the thing is, Bush is the weak spot of the Bush-Cheney campaign. We saw that in the Thursday debate and we know it anyway: Bush is weak. He can't actually fight. All his battles have been fought for him so when it's mano a mano he's got nothing. Edwards forgot to remind America of the Bush retard they saw on Thursday, but W'll be back in the blinking spotlight once again on Friday and I doubt it will be kind.
Tues Oct 5 -- Season of Fire
Gonna be a shortish update for y'all today since I'm busy prepping for the Vice-Presidential debate this evening. And by "prepping" I mean "waiting", waiting anxiously to see The Cheney up in front of America in all his angry glory. He won't flinch like Bush did but I find it hard to believe he'll present anything attractive. We'll see.
Events continue to steam ahead in the world of the Leaden Angels, this week with The Dreams of Louis Dramsheet, in which Dramsheet dreams of his wife, Vivian dreams of everyone but his wife, and the Compass of Death continues to spin.
Good to see that the spin machine couldn't erase Kerry's debate victory last week, and indeed mostly seems to have endorsed it. I attribute this to the fact that so many people actually saw the debate --over 60 million, apparently-- and thus weren't going to accept being told black was white or that Bush did well. I've rewatched the debate a couple of times and there's no question Kerry wasn't perfect, saying at one point "nobody's talking about cutting and running, nobody's talking about withdrawing" (wrong) but then later on stating that America has no long-term designs on Iraq (right), but this is one time where the style-is-all analysis broke in the right direction against the mumbler-in-chief. The only surprise is that this was a surprise; anybody who's ever watched Bush debate knows what he's like. He bumbled and catch-phrased his way through all three debates with Gore and the only reason people let him get away with it was because it was back in the sunny halcyon days of 2000 when things were going so well it didn't really matter if a nitwit got to be president. This time around it appears people are paying a little more attention. Good to see.
Ubercon comin' up
That's right, Ubercon is next weekend, Oct 15-17 in New Jersey and I'll be there, after which I hope to bum around for the following week in New York City. Should be plenty of video-gamin' and metropolitan-area-enjoyin' fun. Yeeeee-haw!
You could buy books, y'know
You could. It would be easy. And right.
Fri Oct 1 -- Oh yeah, oh yeah
Okee dokee, what kind of cartooning magic awaits us all this week? Oh, right, this kind:
Kerry Crushes Bush
I write this before consulting the post-debate spin, but for those of us watching at home I really can't see how there could be any doubt. I despaired for the first few minutes of the debate, watching Kerry's stiff upright manner, but it didn't take long for him to start sliding the blades in, just like a bullfight. I cheered at Kerry's Oedipal sting, his reference to George Bush Sr.'s decision not to invade Iraq; that was the first time I really noticed Bush starting to squirm and it was hardly the last.
We knew that Bush wasn't going to say anything substantial and that he would stick to his debate style, which is to babble and go "uh" for a few seconds until he can stumble across a catch phrase that hooks him into a script. But this time Kerry was ready for him, turning his words against him, laying out ream after devastating ream of evidence of Bush's folly. It was almost painful to see how flustered and out of it Bush was. Every time Bush was talking, you'd see Kerry on the other side of the screen calmly writing, preparing his rebuttal. Meanwhile, every time Kerry spoke we could see Bush quail, edge away, almost leaning right off the TV screen. It was clear he was physically as well as intellectually intimidated.
Of course, this is only what actually happened; I have no doubt the cable news and mainstream media will find a way to rewrite this as a draw. But I gotta say, they really have their work cut out for them.
Really, you should. Just listen to (by which I mean read) this testimonial from a happy customer:
"You know, I was really pleased at how much nicer it is to read the books than to read Bob online. The books aren't pixellated, there's extra-bonus material, and the pages load really quickly."
He knows what he's talking about, kids. Sample the excitement of owning some Bob books for yourself! You'll be glad you did!
Wed Sep 29 --
Kaboom indeed. Funny how these things work out. Last Thursday morning I was right in the middle of preparing the very image-link you see above when blip! my computer shut off. I though maybe the power had gone out but no, the monitor light was on, the scanner light was on. Just no computer. I clicked the power switch a couple of times, nothing, then checked the back and found that the power box was incredibly hot. Blown power box, I thought, and hastily called a computer repair guy who showed up the next day, usuriously installed a new power box and left, fifteen minutes after which my newly-repaired computer switched itself off again. Blown motherboard, it seemed, and 'twas only the gracious intervention of computer guru Chris Woo that got systems up and running again. Thanks, Chris Woo!
is The Leaden Angels, of course, and we've got another chaper ready to install, Son of Man, in which Vanessa and Constantine work thorny issues, Mrs. Van P-- and her maid launch an assault on Charles's apartment, and yet another member of the Philhellenon Club succumbs to the mysterious Compass of Death.
Been fairly light on the movie review angle lately, just a slender ragging-on of The Forgotten. I do want to take a moment to point out that several people who read my Shaun of the Dead review have recommended the British show Spaced from the same folks who brought us Shaun.
Thanks to everybody who wished me a happy birthday, both before and after the fact.
And while we're at it, why not throw up a link to a truly scary story about just how horrifically screwed up Florida's election machinery is, courtesy of the Independent?
Fri Sep 24 -- Technical problems!!!
Sorry to make this so quick, folks, but I don't know how much time' I've got. My computer is freaking out on me and I don't know when I'll be able to count on it for a proper update. Could be as long as Tuesday. So, bear with.
Tues Sep 21 -- Almost 34
Just one more day and I'll have made it, 34 years of life. In your face, Jesus!
This week in The Leaden Angels we have The Watermelon Koala Cortage, featuring infidelities, schisms between close friends, and hypnosis.
Reviews, like of movies
As promised I've got some wacky Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow review action. I pass it on to you people with the understanding that you'll use it only for good, never evil.
Fri Sep 17 - Cartoony!
Well, let's get to it. Some people have had some trouble reading this particular strip, so a quick word of advice: start at the upper-left hand corner and follow the arrows. Got it? Here we go:
As in, y'know, reviews? Well, I didn't make it to Sky Captain on Wednesday; simply too far away. No fear. I'll have a review for y'all soon enough. For this update in lieu of Sky Captain I've got Shaun of the Dead. It's a good movie!
You heard me.
Also! Kofi Roars Back!
Wow, it's good to see Kofi step up and declare the war illegal. Where have you been, man? In celebration of Kofi's declaration I present page 2 of "Who is Kofi Annan", a little-known tale from Kofi's youth as a budget officer for the UN, only one of the many book-exclusive special features found in Everybody vs. Bob the Angry Flower.
Tues Sep 14 -- Plowin' through 2004
I don't have a Leaden Angels chapter for you this update -- Paul's been kinda busy-- but as soon as he gets it to me I'll slap it together and put it up here, all bam! n' stuff.
Holy smokes, have you people played Burnout 3 yet? It is AWESOME! It's my favorite experience ever (except of course for drawing cartoons and presenting them to you, the public)!!! Well, perhaps not my favorite, but it's highly ranked. It's like super-highspeed demoltion derby, you're peelin' along at 200 mph, you see one of the other cars, slide him into the concrete pillar and the game goes all WHOOSH and slomo as the sumbitch goes flippin' through the air, sparks flying. It's not the all-games-to-all-people spiritual unity of a game like Grand Theft Auto, but as far as driving fast and smashing cars all to hell, this is to as close to perfect as we'll ever see, at least until Burnout 4. It'll be difficult in the coming days to summon enthusiasm for anything or anyone that/who isn't a 250-mile-an-hour car crash.
But on the other hand, darned if it's not a nice day today so some outside-time is likely in order as well.
Haven't done too much on the movie front lately, though I do have a review of quite a good little Brazillian movie, Carandiru. On deck is a review for Shaun of the Dead, whenever that gets released, and I'll have something for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow as soon as I see it. I have a pass for Wednesday evening, but it's at North Edmonton Common, the one theatre in Edmonton that's actually less accessible than the contemptibly distant South Edmonton Common, so I may not make it.
A reader sent in a link to this curious contraption, seemingly in some kind of bizarre real-life followup to this ancient cartoon. Wow -- that image quality is terrible! Man, that brings me back, proofreading at the Journal back in '96, scanning those strips and uploading them, editing the raw HTML.... what was I saying? Oh, right, terrible image quality. Y'know, I've always found that the best way of dealing with bad image quality from a free cartoon on the web you like is to buy the books of same cartoon. There in crisp ink and paper the cartoon truly attains a life the computer screen can only mimic. That's what I find, anyway.
Fri Sep 10 -- Not snowing. Not yet.
Dum dee dum, updatin' the web site, late Thursday night, la-dee-dah. Though in a new and exciting twist on the normal, I'm not hosed out of my head this time.
Links n' stuff?
Do I really have any junk to link? Let's see... I've got some various links whut got sent me in the webcomic and "humor" categories. There's Matt and Greg in New York in Underground Comic Books. Then there's Life According to Jose Cabrera with some Mole Man action. In addition long ago I had links to dadsjoke.com and lilleystreet.com; apparently both are now defunct and have been transferred to Invisiblespiders.com. And here's one, something called Tastes Like Irony, though if you ask me it tastes more like Penny Arcade. Then there's a link I received to a New Yorker article on Dick Cheney. Another anti-Bush link was this one, a flash animation called Tex!-- George Bush and the Fine Art of Character Assassination. And look! Here's some strange web-based puzzles of the Rubik's cube variety! And gosh, one of my readers sent in a link to co-Attitude 2 appearer Shannon Wheeler and his Too Much Coffee Man, so I put the link here for all to admire. And, um, that's it.
Also, What Went Wrong in Iraq, from Foreign Affairs.
Just a thing to re-let people know I'll be in the New York area around the middle of next month to attend Ubercon in New Jersey. I must confess I feel rather choked in that I'll be gone to a game convention the same week the greatest game of all time (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, duh) comes out. But wait! Won't it be fun to be at a game convention playing a great game? Perhaps, but I already miss the powerful bonding that will go on between my GTA-loving friends, bonding of which I'll have to miss at least a week. And the missions! They'll have the game half done before I even get a chance to play it! Those jerks!
Earlier Updates? Here, fool!