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Archive for November, 2012

Art Pad Grand opening tonight

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So tonight while Amy and Lydia are out hunting for a Christmas Dress, Maddie and I will be heading out to a new gallery! I suppose I could take her to see the Big Lebowski at the Cedar Lee, but her mother might frown on that.

If you see us, tap me on the shoulder and say hello!


Big Lebowski the weekend at the Cedar Lee

I know there’s tons of people out there who go to see the Big Lebowski over and over again….to say nothing of the festivals that surround it. I really don’t get it. It’s a good movie, and it has some great actors (John Goodman is so underrated. Why is he teaming up with that no-talent hack Rosanne again?), but I caught it last year at the Cedar Lee and I’ve seen it on DVD. I’m fine.

Nevertheless, it’s running this weekend! Grab your bathrobe and check out the film at Midnight at the Cedar Lee in Cleveland Heights, and while you’re waiting for the movie to start, check out this weeks Violent Blue!


Hackers

I’ve been a fan of this movie for a long time. Interestingly enough it’s one of those movies that is pretty universally hated by most tech people.

Perhaps I’m a little immune to it because I saw the movie before I got into technology. I get that what we see on the screen isn’t really representative of what a computer can do back then, in fact it’s not always representative of what a computer can do today. It’s a hyper reality. An Idealized world where technology looks just….so much cooler than it does today.

We see constant references to the Internet, which at the time was just in it’s infancy (at least the internet as we know it) and one could even argue there is early cloud concepts going on here. It’s a time before smartphones and lcd screens. All of that is stuff I work on today. Perhaps that’s one of the things that I find attractive about the movie. The technology is simpler, mroe divorced from the technology I actually repair today. You could possibly make this same arguement about Star Trek, DOctor Who or any other number of Sci-Fi series – and make no mistake; this IS Sci-Fi. Subdued, but Sci-Fi nevertheless.

Yep, simplier high technology, yet it is shown doing amazing things.

The storyline centers around a group of hackers fighting against an evil corpration trying to cause an ecological disaster and all the while trying to keep themselves out of the hands of the FBI agent determined to bring down the computer criminals.

It’s notable for being one of Angelina Jolie’s first roles. More notable that it’s one of the few roles she’s had that dosen’t make me want to gag. Matthew Lillard is here too in an early appearance, and he’s unchained to be…well…Matthew Lilliard.

It’s fast paced, kinetic fun. Check your brain at the door and let your imagination fly. Try not to get hung up on the fact that the internet dosent look like that and dosen’t do that stuff. Who knows? Maybe one day it will.


Post Thanksgiving wrap-up

First off, yes I know we missed an update on Thursday. To my friends outside the US, this is our Thanksgiving holiday. To my friends in the US, I’m not apologizing for taking it off. I probably should have scheduled a post, but with all that’s been going on I never got around to it and on the day, I decided to just let it go.

Anyhow, I hope everyone had a good thanksgiving. I had a great weekend, though very little of that had to do with the actual holiday….

Thanksgiving doesn’t get me down like Christmas does. Still, I’m not a big fan of family gatherings and made sure my gameboy was charged. My wife made a beautiful dinner for us and my side of the family along with her brother, grandmother and her mom’s boyfriend. At my end of the table we got into a discussion on emulation gaming and repaired to the library after dinner to shuffle through some of the tens of thousands of games on my MAME cabinet.

Friday I found a shredded yellow envelope in my mail along with an apology from the post office for ripping up my mail. Seriously. The note was printed on the envelope. Unbelievably the picture inside was undamaged and autographed. I had given this one up for lost – it was a Madeline cover I had sent to Lauren Bacall in New York city shortly before the hurricane. I suspected it might get lost or destroyed and wasn’t counting on getting it back. As it turns out I was half right. But because I only sent a 5×8 instead of my normal 8×10, it somehow managed to sink into the bottom of the envelope and arrive undamaged despite the envelope’s tattered and torn condition. That one is going right back out in the mail to Christopher Plummer. I don’t think I can get this back for the girls in time for Christmas, but we’ll see. They have better luck with autographs than I do.

Friday I also found myself less  than 4000 words away from my goal for the National Novel Writing Month competition. I decided to try for one big push to finish Sunday night. The story was rapidly coming to a close though, and I wasn’t sure I could stretch it out far enough.

Saturday I found nothing in the mail box except junk, however as we were leaving I noticed a big yellow envelope stuck behind the box. Sometimes the mail lady does that and other times she puts it in the box. I’d missed it when I went out to get the mail earlier and I sprinted out of the car to grab it so I could look at it on the way over to my In-Laws. My wife thought I was being funny as I gasped and forgot to breathe for a moment.

Here’s the thing. You have to actually know who Steve Taylor is for this to be as insanely exciting as it was to me. He was a musician on the Christian rock scene in the late 80’s, right in the middle of the witch hunt period where all rock music was condemed as bad, Christian or secular. He had a revival in the mid 90’s and has gone on to film and directing (much like Rob Zombie). He was the kind of artist you might consider indie rock or hipster if he were a little more mainstream and he’s got a loyal cult following…all four or five of us.

I had to work a little to track him down, it took a while to find an address for him and even then, I wasn’t sure I had the right person. Still, it was worth a shot and I sent out a photo and a letter….a year ago. I checked the date on the SASE stamp. He actually acknowledges it in his letter back! This absolutely made my day.

I finished the novel early on Sunday morning before going to bed. Unfortunately I found myself 1200 words short. Less than I expected, but short nevertheless. I resolved to fix it after Church.

Let me explain one thing to you. I can’t imagine an experience more terrifying than having the pastor refer to you BY NAME at the beginning of the sermon and announcing that he saw something you posted ON HIS DAUGHTERS facebook account. *Facepalm*

It ended up being something positive however so no one drug me out with torched burning….He launched into reasons why he hated Christmas, and while there were no sports illustrations (a surprising thing, that) he did manage to slip in a metaphor about getting into the middle of a fight between Wolverine and Freddy Kruger. You know that one Violent Blue strip where I complain about the minister’s message never being relevant to me? ( http://www.violentblue.thecomicseries.com/comics/105/ ) I take it all back.

I finished my day by diving into the second draft of my book. We finally have a title ; “Coffee, Rock Bands and Superman”. It is a direct sequel (though it can also stand on it’s own as a stand-alone story) to Violent Blue, which means I can’t release it for at least another year, since it references things that haven’t happened yet in the comic strip. I expect the second draft to be done next month, but I got far enough into it that I managed to increase the word count past the required 50,000 words to complete NaNoWriMo. I know what the cover should be and will upload it as soon as I’m finished with it. Give me another day or two.

So all in all, I had a pretty amazing weekend. I hope yours was just as great. We’ll see you back here tomorrow, but untill then, check out what’s going on in todays editions of Violent Blue!


Days of the Dead


What a drive. I find myself wishing this con was closer to home because that drive was pretty brutal.
The length was comparable to the drive to Indianapolis, but the trip to  Days of the Dead Chicago  is harder and spends more time on toll roads and urban environments.

What first struck me was how many people were there. I had to wait in a surprisingly long line for tickets. I say surprisingly long, because I got there at noon, and the doors had opened an hour earlier. I could have bypassed the line and saved five dollars by pre-registering, but honestly, the only con I pre-register for is Cinema Wasteland because I save about 15-20 dollars and I usually spend the whole weekend there. This was a day trip.  Oh well.

I got in and immediately searched out Keith David. He was one of the main reasons I was at this con, I wanted to get my Thing poster signed.

His handler was AWFUL. The guy interrupted with prices for different things, and answered questions for Keith and was generally intrusive, like a self-important pimp. A good handler takes money and snaps photos and is generally invisible. They are there to make sure no one takes advantage of the celebrity and more importantly to take care of the mundane business  so the celeb can focus entirely on the fan (and vice versa). A pity, because I suspect that Mr. David is a far nicer person without the yo-yo hovering around his booth.  This and hitting my pet peeve of charging for photo ops set a decidedly negative tone for this con immediately.

I sipped out of the vendor hall to hit the Collection panel. I had misunderstood about this though and thought it was a screening of the film. It wasn’t, although they did show both the first seven(?) minuets of the film, then talked at length about bot hit and the film that preceded it.

Let me just have a quick aside on this by the way. The guys making this movie did a remarkably smart thing as far as promotion goes. It should be so blindingly obvious that I can’t believe more people don’t do this, but whatever.They came to the con, the director and writer, brought a couple of the actors with them, showed bits of the film, then set up a table and signed posters for free. At a con where every one charges to autograph stuff, and some people even charge for photo ops, these guys not only gave away posters of their new movie, but all signed them and took photos with people for free.  Let me tell you something, their strategy worked.  This movie wasn’t even on my radar. Now, not only do I know about it, I can’t wait to see it. They only had their table set up for about three hours, and that was enough.

I had brought a small poster with me, because space is becoming an issue at my house. Besides, I didn’t want to be greedy, they could save those beautiful 11x17s for someone else. They were signing posters in an assembly line style and my smaller one got moved right along into the assembly line. At the end of the table, the director handed me my smaller poster and told me “Take one of the big ones too!” I was about to protest, but he kept on “Go on! If you can’t think of anything else to do with it, tape it to the roof of your car!” You know what? I love these guys. If you wanted to pinpoint a moment when my day turned around, this was it.

I dove back into the guest hall and as I passed by his table I realized I had completely forgotten that William Katt was going to be there. How did I forget this? Seeing him added to the line up after Keith David was what tipped the scales on me deciding to go! Maybe it was ll the planning or the glut of cons in the last couple of months. I don’t know.

I’ve heard things about William Katt. None of it good. I’ve heard that he charges more than other people, he tacks on fees for photo ops, I heard that he’s unfriendly or distant. I’ve probably heard more negative comments about him than I have about Tom Savini. I’m going to tell you right here and now, NONE of that was true.

He charged about average. Less than what a lot of people were. No extra fee for a photo. He was friendly and engaging. He really seemed to WANT to be there and connect with fans. He leaned across the table and grabbed my jacket, spreading it out to get a better look at my Punisher shirt then told me how much he loved it. He was shocked to discover I made it myself. We discussed the Star Wars auditions, something he seemed surprised I was aware of. I’m not sure I agree with his statement that it would have changed his life…Mark Hamil’s career didn’t fare too much better than Katts, but I would have loved to have seen him in the role. He mentioned that the Star Wars auditions were what got him his role in Carrie. He also asked what  i did for a living and when I told him I was in IT he told me how much he wished I lived out near him, he’d be calling me every day! Meeting him was absolutely the high point of my day.

Off in a small room to the side of the check in counter was a darling display called “Evil Puppets”. It was tucked away so neatly I walked right past it twice before noticing it. I tentatively creeped in and wondered if they would be mad at me talking a photo. There were no signs saying I couldn’t so I snapped a few photos. I really love getting my picture taken with celebrities and this presented a unique opportunity of getting a photo op with some famous monsters without having to put up with a rude handler like the guy that was hovering over Keith David. So I grabbed a random passerby and asked if he would mind taking a couple of shots of me. I knelt down to get into a better lever in front of the Gremlins. The guy tried to focus, then stepped back a moment. I felt something brush across my shoulder. I figured, I just had leaned back too far. Probably brushed against a puppet. Then it happened again. Then something was in my hair. I turned around to find the girl who was hosting the exhibit laughing and holding the gremlin’s hand in hers. She had been poking me with it and messng with me She continued to do so as the picture was taken> You can see me trying very hard not to burst in to laughter myself.

I grabbed one more autograph on my already crowded Dawn of the Dead poster from Paul Musser who asked me “When are you guys going to get a real football team up there in Cleveland?” I explained to him that was why I followed horror and not sports.

Had to hit up the Fright Night line as well. I love reunions like this where you can get five signatures on a poster in one shot like this. Chris Sarandon’s table never had a line the entire time I was there. I totally don’t get that. He actually IS someone. He’s done tons of stuff, The Princess Bride alone makes him a real star. I was also really stoked to see William Ragsdale. I spent every Sunday for three or four years watching him on Herman’s Head. His hair is shorter now, and that’s kind of a shame, but I understand and I forgive him for it. Amanda Berse was there as well and ALWAYS had a long line. Not quite sure I get that.  I realize there are a loot of people who remember her from Married with Children and if you pay attention to her career you’ll know she’s actually a talented director as well, but none of that justifies her having a bigger line than people like Keith David and Chris Sarandon. Go figure. She was hyper. Super nice but very energetic. She saw the camer and exclaimed in an almost excited voice “Come on! Let’s take a picture!” and then grabbed me and pulled me back. I don’t think I’ve ever been held that tightly by a lesbian before.

There were a couple of big surprises at this con. I saw the tail end of the “They Live” panel because I needed a break from standing in lines. It’s not one of my favorite Carpenter films but I figured there would be some “Thing” talk as well. Roddy Piper was hilarious. I had no idea he was so funny and clever. Not at all what I expected. The screening of “The Collective” was a lot of fun as well, 10 short films by 10 different directors. I have to give Days of the Dead props for decent programming. Not as much as Cinema Wasteland, but good for them for doing any at all, and quality stuff as well. The other big surprise was all the cosplay. Not just the quantity (although that WAS impressive.  Tons of people in costume) but the quality. Really great costumes and fun ideas. My favorite was the dead Tinkerbelle, but there were a lot of monsters there whose makeups just took my breath away, the snake girl and the creeper especially.

This was a good con. It was really a good one. Again, I wish it were closer to home, because that’s it’s one big downfall. Chicago is an awfully long drive for one day, but horror cons for me tend to be one day events. IF this were in Ohio, PA or Indiana, somewhere in a three hour radius, I’d probably go every year. Chicago, I’m not sure it’s worth the drive to go back. Certainly not for a while, but maybe in a few years. I had a great time this year, and I hope it continues to grow even better. In the meantime, it’s back to Violent Blue for me.


Days of the Dead Chicago

Well, I’m heading out tomorrow to try this con out. I’m most excited about getting to meet a couple of the guys from “The Thing” and get that poster autographed up a little more.

This is absolutely MY LAST CONVENTION OF THE YEAR. I went way overboard this year and will be cutting WAY back next year probably only going to Wasteland and Monster bash (and maybe a small comicon – Madeline has been asking to go). So come on out and if you see me in the crowd, tap me on the shoulder and say hi!

Don’t worry though, Violent Blue will update as normal on Monday!


Transformers : The REAL Movie this weekend

I’m really pumped about hitting the Capitol this weekend for the Transformers movie. No, not those imposters that Michael Bay built out of used tin cans and broken hearts, but rather the animated movie!

I saw  this when I was a child but there’s no way I appreciated it. It really does get better with repeat viewings and I really want to see this on a big screen with a stellar sound system through adult eyes.

So seriously, drop what your doing and come out to the Capitol this Saturday with me. The movie transfroms and rolls out at midnight.

In the meantime, don’t worry, there will be a new Violent Blue up tomorrow!


Akron Comicon

The Akron Comicon was a pleasant surprise. I really wasn’t sure what to expect as I drove the hour long trip to Akron. I checked the website earlier in the day and was disappointed to see P.Craig Russel had canceled, but otherwise everyone seemed to be scheduled to still show up. So I took the day off from Violent Blue,   donned my Shadow costume and off I went.

I had a hard time find the parking the FB page recommended, but was just as happy to park on a side street and walk the block to the show. My cloak flowed in the wind and that always puts me in a good mood.

It was a smaller space than I expected, but it was used with extreme efficiency. Almost immediately I was approached by a fellow who asked If I’d like to do an interview about my favorite comics and why I was at the con today. It pays to wear a costume! I don’t usually cosplay at horror cons because I want to look normal for photo ops, but comic cons are different.

I got in a surprisingly short line for Gerry Conway, the man who created the Punisher and wrote the death of Gwen Stacy in the Spider-Man comic series.  After taking their pictures with me, the guys in line behind me and I started to chat a bit. They showed me some beautiful reprints they were getting signed. Then on of them pulled out his copy of Spidy 120 – the issue before Gwen dies. I smiled and pulled out 121, and they nearly plotzed. IT was a good feeling. I related the story behind how I got that and the Punisher origin story (you can find it back here : https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/new-old-comics/ ) and they speculated on what these might be worth in the condition they are in. I was told I had at least a couple of hundred dollars in my backpack, but I wasn’t sure. These werent in great condition. They also pointed out that autographs don;t always increase value. That was something new to me, but in the end,  I really wanted Gerry to sign them.

When I got to the front of the line I flopped them down on the table and re told the story to Gerry who handled then with a remarkably gentle touch. He seemed to revere them almost as much as the fans behind me, advising me “You have some really expensive comics here.” He then mentioned with a smile, “these are worth more money than I was paid to write them!”

I popped over to a couple of other tables, and got to see Mike W. Barr who wrote my favorite series of Star Trek for DC. I’m not so much a TOS person or a TNG person as I am a DC comics-movie timeline person. That’s real Star Trek for me. He was also kind enough to sign my copy of Batman and the Outsiders #1 for me and chat a bit about Jim Aparo. Jim defines the look of Batman for me and I always remember Denny O’ Niel saying how brilliant he was.  Mike agreed with these statements and related a story to me about the one and only time he heard Jim complain; “It was a crossover with the Teen Titians and there were some supervillians on the cover too. He finished it and then looked at me and asked ‘They aren’t ALL going to be like this one are they?'”

It seemed like I was getting through all the lines really quickly….untill I hit Norm Breyfogels line. Now I understand he IS a bigger name, but honestly, Gerry Conways line wasn’t this long! Of course people weren’t asking him to sign entire runs of his work either. I know the sign says “No Limit” but seriously? Dropping a stack of fifty or a hundred comics to be autographed is just the lamest of fanboy behavior. Yes dude. I’m calling you out. You ARE the bad guy here and Norm was a saint to put up with you.

I attended a few of the panels, These could have been better, but were perfectly fine for a first year con. There was a fun moment during one panel on how comics are made. The presenter was using an slide show that he had already prepared for other seminars and it began with the question and definition of “What are Comics?”

“I think if youre here at this show, everyone probably already knows the answer to this one.” He topped for a moment. “Well, maybe not the guy dressed as the Shadow, but the rest of you I’m sure…” I had no comeback ready for this, but someone else did. From the audience I head a voice shout out “oh, the Shadow KNOWS!”

Lots of fun cosplayers, and a LOT of Doctor Who, including the cutest little Doctor costume I’ve ever seen on a baby. Not as many sales as I would have like to have seen though and very little in the way of film, bootlegs or rare. I would have expected at least something like the corman FF or the JLA pilot, or even Mockingbird lane. Oh well, perhaps next year.

And from what I heard, the con was successful enough to guarantee there WILL be a next year, and it totally deserves it. I’ll expect more next year, but for now, I had a blast at this years show!


A quick thanks

I just wanted to send a shout out to all of my subscribers….the number of followers over here at Argo City has actually surpassed the number up at my Violent Blue webcomic. I never expected that to happen!

Also a quick thanks to everyone who came out and said hello to me at Akron Comicon. I’ll throw up some pics tomorrow I hope. my NaNoWrMo project is kicking my tuchis….


Just finished the thanksgiving Violent Blue  comic strips, and to think, I almost didn’t use this story idea. I did condense it down from three strips to too, which fits better with the black Friday gag at the end. Those will be up on the Violent Blue site in a couple of weeks.

NaNoWrMo Novel is coming along well. Up to 14255 words and going strong. I think my favorite two bits in it so far are :

 

“That’s right,” Steve said, suddenly remembering. “Last night was Rocky Horror wasn’t it? I should have thought of that.” He flipped the switch on Chloe’s Xbox. Maybe he could squeeze in a quick death match while he waited.

“Yep. We stuck around Denny’s for an extra helping of slop, and said good bye to a couple of friends.”

“That’s cool,” Steve nodded. Plasma grenade, switch, suppressing fire. Two guys down. “You’re not going to start singing the Time Warp during one of the hymns again are you?”

Chloe fumbled with the buttons on her back. “Nope. It’s not really as funny after the third time….I can’t promise I won’t break out into a Meatloaf ballad during communion though.”

“You know that’s not real wine don’t you? You won’t be able to blame it on that this time….”

Chloe stepped through the door looking slightly dangerous in her dress and heels accessorized with a spikey bracelet. “I don’t know. I’m still not sure what they put in those communion wafers.”

 

and, a little earlier on :

Chloe pointed towards the foot of the stage where a couple of men in leather jackets were dancing badly. “Were those the guys that you were talking to?” she asked Jen.

Jen nodded. “Yeah.”

“Go punch one of them in the face would you? I want to get a mosh pit started.”

 

I’m probably going to have to put in a little extra work tonight though, I want to hit 20,00 words Saturday, but I’ve still got the Akron Comicon that day too. Starting to get stoked about that too. Got my Shadow costume out and ready, and I pulled the comics I want signed by the seven guests I’m going to see. If you’re in the Cleveland area, come on out to the con and see me ! (I could really use someone to hold my backpack while I sort through bargain bins of comics)