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Archive for November, 2016

100 days 100 crayons

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Lydia also had a 100 days of  school project. She went a little more traditional, but still very creative, doing a varaition on a project she remembered from preschool.

 

She got a canvas  and started by gluing 100 crayons round it, framing the edge.

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Then got a hair dryer.

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the dryer melts the crayons and you just let them drip, perhaps moving the canvas around a bit to mix and help direct streaks. The end result is absolutely beautiful.

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Elves

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It’s that time of year again. That is, it’s the time of year when the Capitol Theatre opens their doors and invites us in to preview the late shift cult film lineup for the next six months, and then, when we’ve been lulled into a false sense of security, they inflict some cinematic pain on us.

The secret movie at Cleveland Cinemas has actually become one of my favorite events – not because it’s free and I’m a cheapskate, but because it’s always something appalling. much like the films at cinema wasteland, They dig through the depths of their dank cellar vaults and screen films that I never would have thought to go out and seek myself.

imagesThis years atrocity on celluloid was a direct to video, shot on tape, Christmas horror film from 1989 called Elves. The production values are so low that it frequently feels like a television – I’m reasonably certain it wasn’t, because of the language and nudity involved (Though curiously enough, the violence is toned down enough that it could’ve passed the censor board) It’s got a synthesizer soundtrack that alternates between soap opera and after-school special. When you combine this of with the crispness of the video tape (and if ever there was a movie that could have used the grain of film to hide imperfections – this is it) and the superimposed credits over a broken Christmas ornimant off a fake green Christmas tree It only serves to make it feel even more like television. (I almost wonder if the director was working on another production, and had access to some sets and equipment and just decided to make the best of it)
elves-1989-4_thumb2This is the story of a young woman who  unwittingly resurrects a semi magical elf that was genetically engineered by the Nazis to create either The Master Race or the Antichrist – I’m leaning towards the Antichrist, but they actually don’t make it entirely clear.  Al0ng the way she has to content with a strange sort of illuminati that are attempting to protect her by murdering everyone in sight– the elf does a lot of that too. She is aided and abetted by a chain smoking, homeless Santa Claus who does his best to deny her to both the creepy old German guys and the elf.elves3

The movie is actually quite high concept, and I suspect this was not the film the director had in mind. The budget limits him severely, and you can see it everywhere. Not just in the soundtrack, but particularly in the light. Better lighting could have saved this film from some of the mediocre performances by unlikable characters and some of the more subpar effects. Every scene is lit flat – like a soap opera or an episodic television show. I would assume there was either no time to do proper set ups, or that the production simply couldn’t afford somebody who knew what they were doing. It’s a shame, because it sucks the menace right out of the film.

The titularelves-bathtub elf (singular by the way, he’s the only one that shows up although they reference the fact that there were more then one at one time) is a brilliant looking puppet that is very poorly executed. Indeed, it’s more of a doll then an actual puppet – I get the impression that at all times there are a pair of hands just offscreen, manipulating it. This is another instance where lighting could really have saved the film. Backlighting this thing or dimming the lights around it while slathering it with KY Jelly to create a surface that could be creepy and reflective – it would have made the monster far more effective then just always showing it in that flat bright light that the movie is shot in. I understand they may not have been able to spring for a better puppet by the way, but many of the scenes would’ve elves-3been greatly improved by casting a second head that could have been puppeted Kermit-the-frog style for some of the hero shots. As it is we get an expressionless face and very clunky movement.

We’re told repeatedly the monster is merely 2 feet tall, but with the exception of a couple of long shots in the last 15 minutes of the film, we never really see the monster in context to illustrate this – they could have made this with a man in a suit far more effectively.

I’m not sure what to make of this – the story is far too smart for the production, and the end result doesn’t justify the pretentiousness of the central conceit. I genuinely think I would have enjoyed this more if it had been dumbed down a bit to hqdefaultmatch its budget – save the high concept storytelling until you can execute it properly.

It’s not a bad movie to put on the background though, and if you’re going to watch it, you need to do it wit friends. Seeing this in the theater was a great time with people laughing at the more outrageous dialogue (“I had a rough day at work… Santa got murdered.”) and it certainly got me in the Christmas spirit. As I mentioned, it was only released on VHS, but there is rips out there if you don’t own a VCR any longer – in fact I noticed somebody uploaded it to YouTube awhile back. It’s worth giving it a try there before they wise up and snatch it down.

Capitol map


536

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

536


The Case Against Iron Man

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IronmanposterIt launched the Marvel Studios and became the cornerstone of the Avengers series. It’s unbelievably beloved by many, many people.

So why aren’t I one of them?

I eagerly anticipated the release of the film, eating up all of the commercials enthusiastically. Even though I’m very much a practical effects apologist, this is one circumstance where CG was essential. There was just no way to properly capture that suit outside it and what we got looked better than anything I could imagine.

Pity we see so little of it.

I think that’s the crux of it. I realize you’ve got a big name actor who you don’t want to hide behind pounds of armor, but the balance of Tony in the suit and Tony out of costume is so off that it feels like I’m just forever waiting. Indeed, it seems like the iron-man-20091201-high-resolution-posterentire point of the third film is to have Tony in the suit as little as possible.

We get War Machine or other stripped down versions as a consolation prize occasionally, but you’re not kidding anyone. The name of the film is Iron Man. That’s who I’m here to see. That’s what’s on the posters. That’s what these movies stubbornly refuse to give me.

What’s infuriating is that it can be done. It really can. You can get that pathos and story and character development and still have a better balance of action and armor hijinks.  They managed it beautifully in the Avengers movies. Indeed, I’ve often said that The Avengers is the best of all the Iron Man movies. It may also be the reason three is my favorite, as it feels like a direct epilogue to the Avengers.

Here’s the thing. I don’t hate the Iron Man movies. If I’m flipping through the avengers-movie-poster-1channels on TV and I come across Tony-in-the-suit fighting an evil behemoth, I’m going to stop and watch for a while. But I’m not going to stay. When the fight is over and the next commercial comes on, I’m back to flipping. I don’t do that with Thor or Captain America : The First Avenger. I’ll sit an watch those all day…and that’s the point. Iron man should be better than this. I’m sad that it isn’t, but that’s okay.

I can always go watch Avengers instead.


535

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

535


Thank you Paige O’Hara

Autographs

Belle is the last of my generation’s Disney Princesses we needed. I missed her at Indiana comicon (much to my dismay) but was able to get her through the mail, and now she sits with the rest of my girl’s Princess collection!

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DC ClixA couple weeks ago, I ran into my friend Eric at Akron Comic Con. He’d recently taken over my preferred comic shop Comics are Go! (it was a peaceful takeover, and it couldn’t be in better hands) and he mentioned they were doing something new with Heroclix on Sundays. Saturdays would be for the serious games – the WizKids events, the tournament play. Sundays would be for friendly games. Goofy shenanigans. Last week Deadpool had a malfunctioning sheep gun that kept spawning a new sheep every turn and creating obstacles.

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This week it was everyone vs Thanos. Everyone brought a 500 point team and worked together to defeat Thanos in his home base.

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I’m just saying, mixing Composite Superman with Pym Particles is not going to end well!

Let’s face it. The plain truth of things is, I quit playing because I’m not competitive. I’m also not great at the game and I definitely don’t have the kind of money you need to sink into it to get good. But this wasn’t a competitive game. This was advertised as fun Sunday shenanigans. So for the first time in probably two years, I built a team, packed my case and headed out.

I found myself with a group of guys I’d never met before. Still, everyone was friendly, and Moose, the host introduced himself and promised to forget my name at least two more times before the end of the day.

I was surprised at the variety of figures everyone else used. I had brought Superman, Composite Superman and Quicksilver (because I don’t have a Flash, and his “Arrogant Attack” is good for the hit and run tactics I was planning). It’s a very “Me” kind of team, but looking around everyone else had spread thier points around a lot more, bringing four, five, six figures.  Thanos himself was a 5000 point monster, and I was hoping I could keep my hypersonic abilities through a good portion of the match to keep attacking without getting based.

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Thanos began the game with a special ability, dealing one click of damage to half of the entire force. The attack hit all three of my characters and when a pulse wave followed a Sentinel (Thanos’ minion) attack on his first turn, I found my Superman based, and my Quicksilver without his special attack. I quickly rethought my strategy and began to run my figures as a tentpole team, with Quicksilver constantly perplexing up Superman and my Composite Superman TKing the character into position to strike. I landed four attacks, with two thrown out by Probability Control. The others were solid five click hits, leaving me pleased to have done SOME damage against the behemoth.

15179223_1345547425489677_9145878815337744755_nThis was exactly the kind of game I like. Everyone was just there to play, to have fun. We shared Probability control and perplexes. I began the game carrying another players piece into position. Hammers rained down on our team and were shared freely. We joked with each other, we talked comics as we played. We marveled at the absurdities.

“Is anyone else disturbed that Shocker has done more damage to Thanos than SUPERMAN????”

“Thanos attacks you.”
“Well, actually it’s the staircase dial in sawgplay right now – so it’s the stair case attacking me. How does a staircase attack anyhow?”
“A door opens up, and a large Hanna Barbara-looking boot comes out and kicks you.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened to me.”

“Anyone else notice that the map is pretty much almost all villians? Villians….and one Spider-Man.  You know what’s going to happen after they defeat Thanos?”
“Yeah, someone grabs the Gauntlet and they all go after Spider-Man.”

It was a nice time. It’s fun to be able to do a Clix column again. Truth is, I’m still a little far removed from the game. New abilities and terminology have cropped up since I left and I don’t see me getting back into the Clix world any time soon, but I can definitely see myself perhaps slipping down to Comics Are Go! once in a while for some more of Moose’s Sunday Shenanigans.


534

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

534


Print spooler keeps crashing

techtipsWhen I’m not writing comics or watching terrible films I also work as an IT consultant. Here’s a few things I’ve learned over the last 17 years.

Problem:

No printers show up in the printer section of control panel. This is a result of the print spooler crashing. if you go in and manually restart the print spooler it runs until you try to do anything related to the printer then crashes again.

Solution:

Usually this is the result of corrupt print drivers (possible virus infection causing the corruption. Make sure to run a quick malware scan). You may need to uninstall print drivers completely – including the registry entries.

If it is a local printer (My Computer), go to the following registry keys and delete the respective entries:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print\Environments\ Windows NT x86\ Drivers\Version-2\

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print\Printers\
If it is a network printer (network printer server or \\), go to the following registry keys and delete the respective and entries:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Printers\Connections\

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print\Providers\ LanMan Print Services\Servers\\Printers\

After the registry edit, you need to stop and restart the spooler service. At this point, you’ll be able to reinstall the printer driver correctly.


533

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

533