100 days 100 crayons
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.
Then got a hair dryer.
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.
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.
This 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)
This 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.
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 titular 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 been 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 match 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.
The Case Against Iron Man
It 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 entire 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 channels 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.
Thank you Paige O’Hara
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!
A 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.
This week it was everyone vs Thanos. Everyone brought a 500 point team and worked together to defeat Thanos in his home base.
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.
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.
This 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 play 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.
Print spooler keeps crashing
When 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.
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.
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\
If it is a network printer (network printer server or \\), go to the following registry keys and delete the respective and entries:
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.
The biggest problem with Coppala’s Dracula is he promised one thing and give us another. He said he wanted to do the book, that it’s never been done before. He is kind of right about that, although the Jess Franco version is actually quite quite close to the book. Coppala went into great depth and detail to recreate this world but still fails to capture the novel itself. What are minor things like the fact that Dracula was not dressed on black or that he had curly hair or the ability to walk in sunlight (both specific to the book!) or elements like casting terrible actors such as Keanu Reeves and Wynona Rider in key roles, these are not the major sins of the film. Coppola transforms Dracula into a love story . Not just a love story, but a love story between Mina and Dracula! If you have known me for any length of time you’ll know how this infuriates me. There is no trace of the relationship between Mina and Dracula in the book, indeed the way Mina was forced to take Draculas blood in the novel was nothing less than rape. Here, it’s treated as a love scene…we’ve transformed a hateful assult into a passionate scene of infidelity, apparently justified by reincarnation. I hate Coppola for this…so very much. The single saving grace here is Anthony Hopkins who’s version of Van Helsing is brilliant. But if I were to remake this film, I’d realy do the book. Straight, no reimagining. I’d jettison Keanuand Wynona and replace them with the blandest of soap opera actors it would still be an improvement. Most importantly though I’d make that love story one between Harker and Mina, because that is the real point here. Mina is devoted to husband to the point of the tracking Dracula through thier shared bond and then I think is a far more uplifting story, a far more compelling story, a far better story. It is in fact, the real story of the book.
One of the things that really appeals to me about this movie is the rental store visibility. This was one of those movies that was on the shelf at every video rental store in the 90’s, in an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Patrick Stewart, which was at it’s peak.
From IMDB: A psychological thriller; Mace Sowell, an ex-intelligence operative and whose past government activities catches up with him, faces his own mortality, in the shape of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Holding the electronic key to secret information which implicates a Presidential front-runner, Mace struggles for his life while battling the debilitating effects of the disease.
Despite over the top preformances, it manages to draw you in frequently and there’s mroe than a few times you wonders if He’s just a paranoid or if someone is truly trying to get him.
It’s greatest downfall is the twist a the end which feels tacked on, and it’s lack of rewatchability (ironically, this played repeatedly on Showtime….). There’s a reason this was a rental title.
If you haven’t seen it, give it a try. If you have, check out this compilation which is about all you need to remember it!
Akron Comic Con 2017 part two
Akron is always a big cosplay event and everyone brings thier “A” game.
Akron’s costume contest though has always been a challenge. Because it’s so big, it’s hard to fit in a room, and this year Rubber City Cosplay had thier hands full trying to figure it out.
Over the past year in particular, it’s been a real pleasure watching Rubber City Cosplay develop as a contest facilitator. They’ve gotten more comfortable with the role and developed genuinely good strategies for keeping things going efficiently. However, Akron is the big show. With literally hundreds of contestants and a surprisingly small space, this is the most challenging contest they handle. There was confusion on where to go. The hall downstairs had been partitioned off into two smaller rooms. You began in the first room with a camera and a green screen, then made your way out the door onto the main stage… so before going out and getting announced, there was this other group with a camera, taking pictures before the contest – their original plan had been to interview each contestant as well, something they weren’t allowed to do as it would slow things down too much. I assumed that they were perhaps broadcasting the images over to the main screen, but now I’m not even sure they were really a contest component. All of this delayed the start and slowed the lineup down.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I was exhausted already and my boots were killing me – I was grateful for the chance to sit down while waiting. gave me a chance to help the guy in front of me get out of his gloves and get into his helmet- magnetic pieces and velcro and all sorts of wierd stuff! I appreciate that helm and costume all the more for having seen it up close as he got it on. My friend William was down the line keeping Chris Gulley’s Black Panther cape in place.
We were told we couldn’t stay in the room to watch the cosplay contest and this was a kind of a drag. It’s one of the important things to note. the sense of community in the costume contests is always one of my favorite parts of a con – talking to people about how they made their costumes, what they’ve done before – cosplay is an instant icebreaker for those of us who are introverts. In the good ones you really see everyone cheering for everyone else and that was really present here. In my never-so-humble opinion, partitioning that room was a bad idea. A large space is needed for this event if it’s going to be the huge component it always has been at Akron. I don’t think we had more room than this back at the Quaker Station hall.
It was great to see so many of these familiar faces though. That Nocturne I saw at Hall of Fame City was back, as well as the Freddy Kruger. Cinderella showed me the work she put into her glass slippers and it wasn’t untill after the con that I realized Secret Squirrel was the same guy who did Domo Batman last year! There was a little Rhino that was COMPLETELY on point and picking fights with everyone ( I was so happy that he placed in the kids contest!) and the absolute best Iron Man I’ve ever seen in a kids costume….in fact it was better than most adult Iron Men! My friend Jim pointed out to me a kid in a Cyrano Jones outfit, complete with Tribbles. Another in a Smaug costume. Fantasy dominated the contest this year and Man-At-Arms ran around trying to get pictures with every barbarian warrior he saw. The Z.E.R.O.S. were there in full effect with Ryan yelling “Man-At-Arms is my hero!” as I headed into the costume contest.My friend William really put it best.
“Got to experience the two extremes of cosplay attitudes today at the Akron ComiCon.
On the negative side, saw a contestant that I won’t single out getting in his car after the contest was over, whining and complaining that “this contest was crap” and “I have over a thousand hours invested in this”, yadda yadda yadda.”
Allow me to interject at this point, that my friend Marc witnessed the same thing by the same person a little later – “the same adult male throw a major tantrum because someone else won a small piece of etched glass instead of him. Obviously, he was the only one worthy and the judges were idiots and the contest was rigged and life isn’t fair and Hilary is evil (not trying to politicize. That was actually part of the tantrum).And this was in the convention center near my table, not in the parking lot, which means this same tantrum was thrown multiple times.”
But William continues :
“Then, there was the plus side. A little girl saw me and became ecstatic. She was a huge Captain America fan (she was too young to know who USAgent is, and Cap wore the uniform before Walker did, so she’s forgiven), and her face just lit up seeing me, and she needed a pic.
It didn’t matter to her that the guy dressed like her hero was nearly three hundred pounds and constantly wiping away the sweat pouring out of a mask with no ventilation. It didn’t matter that I haven’t dyed my belt to match the suspenders better, or that I’m not real happy with the paint job on the shield. It didn’t matter that my version is an amalgamation of different versions of the comic costume along with the MCU Cap costumes, and so isn’t a perfectionist version of either.
All that little girl cared about was her hero kneeling down to take a picture with her, and smiling at her.
The costume and shield may be fake, but that smile was as real as it gets.
I feel sorry for the guy who felt cheated out of a win in a contest of people dressed as imaginary characters, as if winning or losing have anything to do with what is important in cosplay.
I’d much rather be in the company of that little girl, who was just happy to see the character she loved.”
That’s it right there. You know something? I’ve never won or even placed in Akron costume contest. Not once. But that’s not why I do it…the community, the camaraderie and just the time to have fun…it’s worth it all. Just look at all of these people in the photos below and you’ll see it too.
I can’t wait for next year.
Akron Comic Con 2016 part one
I didn’t mean to freak people out. Really.
The guest line up for Akron is always a good one, but this one was particularly exciting, bringing in yet another walking dead zombie as well as excellent talent such as Alan Grant and Alan Davis. I knew I would be is standing in line a lot so I decided to spend at least the first two hours of the con in street clothes – jeans and a sweater. It was hilarious, people didn’t recognize me! Those who did were a bit freaked out by the fact that I wasn’t in a costume…Bobbie Harleypool walked by and yelled at me “why aren’t you in costume???”. Once upon a time cosplay afforded me a certian degree of anonymity. Now it seems it’s gone the other way around….
Alan Grant was my first stop. He is charming and personable and he wrote some of the greatest Batman stories of the 90s. His run with Norman Breyfogal is nothing short of legendary. He was the writer on Detective when the Tim Drake Robin was being introduced. It’s one of my favourite eras because we get a lot of short, one issue, self-contained stories. It’s something he mentioned he enjoyed writing, stuff that was to the point, and had a beginning, middle, and end.
I made my way over to P. Craig Russell, who I’ve always really associated with his brilliant Sandman work. Still, I had discovered he did an issue of X–Men that is in one of my many collected editions. It was fun to chat about this one, he mentioned that JR JR was always really great to do finishes over and out while you could still see Romitia’s influence in a lot of the pages, he turned to one particular panel of a stunning building in skyscape and told me “but this panel right here, this is all me! “.
I was sad not to make it to Alan Davies, his line was just prohibitive and they kept cutting it off…but Tom Orzechowski was most definitely available. This man has lettered more current books then I have read… And that’s no small feat. The more I get into these Marvel essentials collections, the more often his name seems to pop up. I loaded a heavy stack of these huge paper backs over to him to be signed, but what’s great about Tom is that he is really a fan first. Going over each of these books, he had memories and things to say about it all of the runs and what it was like for him to read them originally.
Joe Staton was making a return appearance. I genuinely like Joe, Even though he’s really one of the most recognizable Green Lantern artists out there, I love that he is dedicated this part of his career to things like Scooby Doo and Dick Tracy – I particularly love that he’s doing things like the little orphan Annie crossover, the Dick Tracy meet gruesome story and the upcoming Spirit crossover. I brought him my greatest Batman stories ever told to sign his story “The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne”. It’s a charming piece set on earth 2 were Bruce ultimately marries Selena Kyle –Staton is in real form here emulating Dick Sprague and giving the story a dynamic look while still being bright and friendly. He gave me a copy of that Tracy needs gruesome which he signed for me on the way out – I love Joe.
I remember watching Jackson Bostwick on television when I was a kid, his Shazam series was one of the Saturday afternoon roundabouts, the sort of thing that plays after the cartoons. He is personable, but very much a convention pro. He’s also not at all happy about the way Captain Marvel is portrayed in the comics these days. He is proud of the fact that he was Captain Marvel (and not SHAZAM!), he hates the hood on the cape as well as the weird lightning that surrounds him now. It was an interesting conversation, and I get the impression that he is very protective of the character – there is a real connection there for him.
Addy Miller from the Walking Dead was a charming young woman as well. I wish i could say the same for her handler (who I assume is her mother). Somewhat intrusive. I mentioned that my WD photo has been through the mail five times and Mother replied in somewhat of a huff “We don’t sign through the mail. Maybe something like this, with all those other signatures, but we usually don’t.”
Um, you don’t sign anything Mom. Your daughter is the “talent”. And do you think that answer of yours endears me more to the two of you…or less?
Still, I’m actually a bit dismayed about the addition of media guests to Akron Comic Con (and I’m totally a hypocrite on this by the way, as I was patronizing them nevertheless!). One of the great things about this show has always been that it was a pure comic show. They dipped their toe in the water last year inviting Tim Procter – a bit player from the Walking Dead with a reasonable autograph charge, but who also was an artist. He very much fits here. Addy Miller at his table is somewhat an extension to that, but really on the line. Reb Brown and Jackson Bostwick however are very firmly on the other side of that line, being noting but media guests, and ones that are used to the convention circuit at that. It doesn’t help that Jackson’s pricing wasn’t clearly displayed, and a little higher than I would like. Reb did have a sign up, but I know there were con goers that were confused by his fees, and man, have they gone up! I though I paid too much for his autograph and that photo at Wasteland a few years ago, but he’s joined the $40 club now and I don’t think his scrawl is worth that. It’s also not the kind of fees we’re used to seeing at Akron. There’s been a real reluctance to add media guests to this show, and I completely understand it. You can even tell by exactly who Akron is inviting that it’s sort of a compromise, but still, it’s the direction they are heading in. I wonder what will happen next year when they combine it with Monsterfestmania?
Also a quick shout out to OOAKrafts. You’re rude. I’m sorry I was standing in the vicinity of your table talking with a friend I haven’t seen since Februrary. I assure you, no one was staring at us and deciding not to visit your booth because of us. That is the second time you’ve been rude to me in this manner, asking me to “move along”. While my daughter loves the hat she got from you at Lake Effect Comic Con, I assure you, you will never see another dollar of my money again.
Akron Comic Con has grown hugely, moving into a larger space. I think seeing it at the John S Knight Center – it’s like it finally arrived! It’s still my favorite of all the comic conventions I attend – I’ve been coming since year one and it’s been fun to watch it grow. All in all it feels like a much bigger convention – too big for one post… So today I’ll just leave you with the feel of the show, and we’ll get to cosplayers tomorrow!
Thanksgiving Mermaids (and seahorses)
I think “Thanksgiving Mermaids” pretty much sums it up.
My personal definitive way of drawing iconic characters
I don’t necessarily want to present Kirk and company here. I think that would be a different post. I’m talking more about the general LOOK of Star Trek, and the TNG era in particular.
The uniform changed to something better accepted in the third season and I really liked the addition of the belt, but felt it didn’t quite go far enough – I always wanted to see those uniforms resemble the red tunics more and always drew them untucked under the belt.
The black uniforms were always too much black for me, especially on Voyager. I understood them more on DS9, work uniforms that you wore to get dirty. I Like the idea in Generations that both uniforms were in service and imagined you’d see more of the black ones in engineering. Still, adding a stripe around the cuff of the sleeve added just enough more color to me and I always drew them like that. Apparently the producers agree with me as that showed up in the first contact uniforms.
Finally, I always wanted to see a vest underneath. We got those in the TOS films, and the red undershirt is hinted at in TNG. Again, we’d see these kind of vests full on in the TNG films, but I created this stripped down version for the traditional uniforms – a version that worked better with the purple undershirts of DS9.
These are my characters from my Star Trek series, based on the RPG we’d play which eventually spawned comics and videos.