Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cheap Thrills - X-FORCE #20

Author's Note: This column originally appeared on Comics Bulletin

In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

August 24, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
X-FORCE #20
Published by: Marvel Comics
Created by: Fabian Nicieza and Greg Capullo


WORRY ABOUT THIS YOU LIPSTICK, PRETTY-BOY!

Janet Reno became the first female Attorney General of the United States in March of 1993. North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in March of 1993. The Intel Corporation shipped the first P5 Pentium chips in March of 1993.

Also in March of 1993, Patti LaBelle got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Depeche Mode became the first alternative British band to hit number one on America’s Billboard 200, and Whitney Houston made us all bleed from our ears for 14 weeks by screaming I Will Always Love You making it the longest running number one single of all time.

Nintendo released Kirby’s Adventure for the NES, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 hit the theaters, Brandon Lee is killed during the filming of The Crow, Beavis and Butt-Head premiers on MTV, and Doogie Howser, MD is finally canceled, all in March of 1993.

Also in March of 1993, Marvel Comics unleashes X-Force #20, which will now be the focus of this column. For this, I apologize in advance.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tempest Milky Way by Randy Halverson

Tempest Milky Way from Randy Halverson on Vimeo.


One of the challenges in making this video, was trying to get good storm and star shots. The opportunity doesn't come along very often, the storm has to be moving the right speed and the lightning can overexpose the long exposures. I had several opportunities this summer to get storm and star shots. In one instance, within a minute of picking up the camera and dolly, 70mph winds hit. One storm was perfect, it came straight towards the setup, then died right before it reached it.

At the 1:57 mark a Whitetail buck came in to check out the setup. It was caught on 20 frames, and was there for about 10 minutes. It was only 50 yards from the camera, dolly and light.

At the 3:24 mark, a meteor reflects on the water of the small lake, see still below in Photos. There are also quite a few other meteors in the timelapse.

This was all shot in central South Dakota from June-August.

Canon 5D Mark II for a few shots, Canon 60D and T2i
Canon 16-35, Tokina 11-16

Shot in RAW format. Manual mode, Exposure was 30 seconds on most Milky Way shots, 20-25 on some of the storm shots, ISO 1600 or 3200 F2.8.

Simon Wilkinson at thebluemask.com created the music "Tempest" and sound for it.

I used the Dynamic Perception Stage Zero Dolly on most of the shots as well, it is awesome. dynamicperception.com

Contact for licensing or anything else
Randy Halverson
dakotalapse.com


Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Giant Steps" by John Coltrane


Dan Cohen has been creating wonderful Animated Sheet Music of jazz songs by Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane.

This is what John Coltrane's landmark tune and solo look like when they come to life on paper.

If you try to play along, you may notice that the transcription for the head is transposed for C and the solo's in Bb. Weird, I know, but the transcription book that I based this animation on was in concert.

You can buy the sheet music here:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0793563453

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Review: Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture

This Review Originally Appeared on Comics Bulletin


Edited by Stephen H. Segal
Published by Quirk Books

Reviewer Rating: 2.5 Bullets

I have a confession to make. I’m one of those guys that over-intellectualizes just about everything. This flaw in my make-up leads me to spend precious moments staring off into the ether of the Universe when a more immediate response is called for. I have been chastised for this behavior on many occasions by friends, lovers, and bosses, but it is such an integral part of my being that I can only apologize and vow to do better in the future.

The reason I make this confession is that it serves as a background for this review. When presented with the opportunity to read and give my thoughts about a book titled Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture, my initial reaction (after much thought, of course) was that this sounded like a book written just for a guy like me. I mean, I have no reservations about being labeled a Geek. A book that, from its title, sounds like an exploration of the underpinnings of this label seems to be right up my alley. See, to me, the title suggests that the book will be a cohesive philosophical tract concerning what it is, exactly, that makes a Geek a Geek; it sounds as if this will be a carefully deconstructed understanding of why I lean towards what I lean towards.

Unfortunately, that is not what this book is.

For editor Stephen Segal, geekdom, geekhood, being a Geek is tantamount to a form of worship. He claims that this book is to function as if it were this religion’s bible. As Segal writes in his introduction to Geek Wisdom, this is “the first compendium of sacred teachings from the wide ranging ‘holy scriptures’ of geekdom, that weird mass of pop culture and high art ranging from blockbuster movies to esoteric novels to cult-classic T-shirt slogans.”

Geek Wisdom consists of a approximately 200 quotes from various pop-culture sources upon which Segal and four other contributors wax philosophical. They take each quote as if it were a Nietzschean aphorism or a Zen koan and fill a page with an attempt to either understand it in a general context or expand upon it in terms of a more universal truth about the human condition.

The problem is that there is no unifying theme to the explanations. If this is supposed to be a “bible” for Geeks, then the religion is as dysfunctional as the stereotype that Geeks themselves often suffer from.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Urban Pacman

Urban Pacman from Sergej Hein on Vimeo.


Directed by Sergej Hein
Co-directed by David Moya
Produced by Julian Holland @ Partizan
Music youguysmusic.com

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In the Elevators of Hindu Heaven


Recorded at Sachal Studios, Lahore, Pakistan - the premiere of Take Five's Official Video!
Follow them on Facebook for exclusive content and news!
www.facebook.com/pages/Sachal-Music/198714516829311
Visit their Website!
www.sachal-music.com

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cheap Thrills - SHOGUN WARRIORS #5

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This Column Originally Appeared on Comics Bulletin

In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

August 17, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
SHOGUN WARRIORS #5
Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Doug Moench
Art by: Herb Trimpe


BACK OFF, CREEP! PARKS ARE MADE FOR PEOPLE!

For me, the two most significant events of June 1979 were the cancellation of Welcome Back, Kotter and the death of John Wayne. Of course Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev signed the SALT II agreement, Alexander Haig was almost assassinated by the Baader-Meinhof group, the Seattle SuperSonics won the NBA Championship, and Jello Biafra started his label Alternative Tentacles, but compared to the end to Kotter and Wayne – I mean, like, really….

June 1979 also saw the release of Candy-O by The Cars, Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division and Shogun Warriors #5 by Marvel Comics.

Yes, Shogun Warriors #5 was part of a 20 issue run of another licensed toy product tie-in by Marvel Comics (Rom Space Knight? Micronauts?). This one was based on a line of toys from Mattel that featured transforming giant robots from a Japanese cartoon (ooops, sorry, “anime”). The Shogun Warriors actually predated the Transformers, believe it or not. Marvel licensed only three of thirteen available Shogun Warrior toys for their comic book. These were Raydeen, Combatra, and Dangard Ace, and they were probably chosen because those were the ones whose names were sprinkled with the most awesome.

Before I go any further, though, I admit that I am a sucker for giant robots punching each other and blowing up stuff. The best of this genre, as far as I am concerned was the cartoon Megas XLR which only ran for a year (but what a glorious year it was).

So, to the comic itself.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Adventures of a Cardboard Box

The Adventures of a Cardboard Box from Studiocanoe on Vimeo.


From illlustrator and filmmaker Temujin Doran, of the Studiocanoe project, comes The Adventures of a Cardboard Box a touching film short about a young boy’s unbound enthusiasm and creativity for a large cardboard box. Filmed in Bergen, Norway, the story follows the boy as he transforms the box into many different playthings, including a raging bull, a sound deck and even a coffin for himself as Dracula. There are plenty of surprising uses for the box and he even ropes his sister into the fun.

The film was a finalist in the Nokia Shorts 2011 competition on Vimeo and was shot entirely on a Nokia N8 cell phone.

Friday, August 19, 2011

See This Movie - I'M NO DUMMY

Sometimes the most universal truths can be found in the smallest slices of life. That’s what makes independent documentaries so powerful, engaging, and entertaining. Not only do they show you little worlds to which you’ve never had access, but they oftentimes also tell the larger story of what it means to be human. Armed with this intellectual conceit, a bag of Funyuns, and a couple of Miller beers, I curl up in front of the TV and delve deep into the bowels of Netflix Documentaries to find out a little bit more about all of us.

Today I found 2008’s I’m No Dummy by filmmakers Bryan W. Simon and Marjorie Engesser.


I’m No Dummy is a documentary about ventriloquists and ventriloquism. It provides a limited historical retrospective of the art form (and yes, I use the term art form, not because I lack another lexiconical choice, but after watching the film I realized that there is indeed an art to its practice), but the focus of the film is mainly on performers and their performances.

The film does a pretty good job of convincing me that there are some redeeming qualities to ventriloquism. Of particular note is the time spent with Jay Johnson. You may know Mr. Johnson from his scene stealing moments in the late 70’s ABC sitcom Soap. Johnson played the character Chuck, who was always accompanied by this dummy/alter-ego Bob. In I’m No Dummy, Johnson is still using Bob as his comedic foil and the performance clips of the “two” of them in action are the highlights of the film.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ben Templesmith talks to Justin Hamilton




Comic Book writer and illustrator, Ben Templesmith, took some time to come down to All Star Comics on the 9th of June. As well as signing some work, he had a long chat with Justin Hamilton about his beginnings and evolution in the comic book industry.

www.templesmith.com
www.allstarcomics.com.au
justinhamilton.com.au

Filmed by Stefan Duscio
www.stefanduscio.com

Edited by Melissa Alger

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cheap Thrills - THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER #224

Author's Note: This Column originally ran on Comics Bulletin

In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

August 10, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER #224
Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Bob Haney
Art by: Dick Ayers and Romeo Tanghal


BUT I NEED THE BEST! AND WAR IS NEVER FAIR!

So it’s February, 1979 and you’re trying to figure out the world. Sid Vicious has died, Ayatollah Khomeini has taken power in Iran, Patty Hearst has had her sentence commuted by Jimmy Carter, Rod Stewart’s all over the radio with “Do You Think I’m Sexy”, and Jennifer Love Hewitt is born.

The average cost of a new house is $58,100, your average annual income is $17,500, a gallon of gas costs 86 cents, and a Sony Walkman costs $200.

In February 1979, you walk into your local convenience store and there on the spinner rack is The Unknown Soldier #224 from DC Comics. Joe Kubert’s cover art catches your eye, as does the text box in the corner promising you that “The Soldier fights his strangest battle on ‘The Plane That Never Lands!’” You pay your 40 cents for the book (along with whatever a can of Coke and a Snickers Bar cost at that time), walk out the door, and head on home.

You open the first page of the comic and are quickly thrown for a loop. Your excitement to read “The Plane That Never Lands” is quickly supplanted by the confusion you feel by being presented with a story called “Welcome to Valhalla!”

Sunday, August 14, 2011

REVIEWING NEW COMICS

The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury Volume 1: Time Runs Out


Writer: Brandon Thomas
Artist: Lee Ferguson
Publisher: Archaia

Reviewer Rating: 4.5 bullets

Author's Note: The Review Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin

For the most part, we conceive time in a linear fashion. What happened a moment ago is what we call the past. What is happening right this moment is what we refer to as the present. The countless experiences we are going to have to endure after this moment, we call the future. But the more we learn about how we conceive of time, the more fluid our definition of it must become.

Why am I beginning a review of the new hardcover collection of The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury from Archaia Comics with a discussion about our understanding of time? Because time is what this book is really all about.

Sure, on his website Brandon Thomas, Miranda Mercury’s writer/creator, will say this about his main character:

She’s the greatest adventurer in this, or any other galaxy, the kind of old-fashioned, classic science-fiction heroine that can successfully defeat The Time Raiders of Xaxium, brave the wonders of The Glass Planet, survive The Perils of Yor, and battle The Infinity Class to a veritable standstill!

And this is a fairly accurate description of the character. Miranda Mercury does, indeed, kick some serious ass. She’s got the moves, the sass, the smarts, and the strategy to make her a great action hero, and the stories in this collection have plenty of action and are really fun to read. I don’t want to make a big deal out of the fact that here we have a comic book hero who is both female and black (although in the wake of recent events this is certainly something that should be acknowledged), but it is truly refreshing to have this character be the sort of hero she is, neither in spite of or because of her gender or race.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Alex Steffen: The shareable future of cities




How can cities help save the future? Alex Steffen shows some cool neighborhood-based green projects that expand our access to things we want and need -- while reducing the time we spend in cars.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cheap Thrills - FOOLKILLER #6

CHEAP THRILLS
Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin

This Column Originally Ran On COMICS BULLETIN.


In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

August 3, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
FOOLKILLER #6
Published by: Marvel Comics
Created by: Steve Gerber, J. J. Birch, and Vincent Giarrano



FISHY, FISHY, FIH- HIH—

On March 2, 1991, Del Ballard Jr. threw a gutter ball during a PBA match. This was also the day that the Gulf War, for all intents and purposes, ended. The next day, March 3, 1991, LA Police beat Rodney King in front of a camera for all the world to see.

On the 14th of March, 1991, Kurt Browning won the Men’s Figure Skating Championship in Munich. Later, on the 21st, Tatsumi Fujinami defeated Ric Flair for the NWA Wrestling Championship.

One day later High School teacher Pamela Smart was found guilty of getting her student/lover to kill her husband. Then, on the 31st of March, 1991, in Phoenix, Arizona, former Partridge Family star Danny Bonaduce attacked a transvestite prostitute.

Do you see where I am going with all this?

Neither do I.

But it does provide an interesting backdrop for the release of Foolkiller #6, this week’s Cheap Thrill, and let me tell you, it’s the perfect backdrop.

This comic is brutal. I mean really brutal, especially for a mainstream publication.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

See This Movie: COLONY

Sometimes the most universal truths can be found in the smallest slices of life. That’s what makes independent documentaries so powerful, engaging, and entertaining.  Not only do they show you little worlds to which you’ve never had access, but they oftentimes also tell the larger story of what it means to be human. Armed with this intellectual conceit, a bag of Funyuns, and a couple of Miller beers, I curl up in front of the TV and delve deep into the bowels of Netflix Documentaries to find out a little bit more about all of us.

Today I found 2009’s Colony: The Endangered World of Bees by Carter Gunn and Ross McDonnell.


Colony is a movie about beekeeping. It is a documentary about the still as yet unexplained phenomenon that is killing millions of honey bees worldwide known as Colony Collapse Disorder and its ramifications on our food supply. It is a film about our current economic meltdown and what people are going through in order to survive. It examines questions of our faith in both religion and science. Colony is also about how humans interact with each other and provides insight into our shared humanity.

When we think of beekeepers, often times we think of those sweet smelling grizzled hippy looking gentlemen we see at Farmer’s Markets selling their hand bottled artisan honey and offering the kids free samples of dripping honeycomb chunks. Colony is not about those beekeepers.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cheap Thrills - G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES #1

CHEAP THRILLS
Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin

AUTHOR'S NOTE: THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON COMICS BULLETIN

In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grab a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.

July 27, 2011 – paid 50 cents for:
G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES #1
Published by Blazing Comics(part of Argosy Communications)
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Sam Glanzman


HOLD THE RUMPUS, YOU TWO.

Do you remember twenty years ago? 1991? It was the year the Soviet Union collapsed and we fought the first Gulf War (bringing the words “Scud” and “Sortiee” into the national lexicon).

The Dow Jones closed above 3,000 for the first time ever, Mike Tyson was arrested for rape, Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested for murder, the Minnesota Twins won the World Series, and “The Perfect Storm” ripped up the northeastern United States.

Remember 1991? The Super Nintendo was released; as was Nirvana’s Nevermind (which I still think is somehow more than coincidental). 1991 also saw the deaths of Serge Gainsbourg, Doc Pomus, Klaus Kinski, Freddie Mercury, and Dr. Seuss.

In 1991 the average cost of a new home was $120,000, the average US citizen’s annual income was $29, 430, the average US rent was $495, and a gallon of gas cost $1.12.

1991 also saw Blazing Comics releasing the Chuck Dixon/Sam Glanzman atrocity, G-8 and his Battle Aces #1, and a little bit of all of died because of it.

G-8 and his Battle Aces was apparently based on characters which appeared in the novel, The Green Scourge of the Sky Raiders by Robert Hogan, which itself was originally published in the May 1940 issue of G-8 and his Battle Aces Magazine. I know this because the front flap of the comic tells me this. How an entire novel was published in the pages of a pulp magazine is a concept I am having difficulty wrapping my head around, but I accept it as a matter of faith because I am convinced that Chuck Dixon would never lie to me.

I must warn you up front that in the opinion of this humble reviewer, the front flap of this comic is its high point.

You have been forewarned.

Now let us continue. I will try to make this as quick and as painless an operation as possible.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Julian Treasure: 5 ways to listen better


In our louder and louder world, says sound expert Julian Treasure, "We are losing our listening." In this short, fascinating talk, Treasure shares five ways to re-tune your ears for conscious listening -- to other people and the world around you.