Sunday, October 31, 2010

On Halloween

So I got bored last night and tried to figure out why the hell (sorry, really not intending to pun) we call the night before All Saints Day "Halloween." Obviously there's some relation to "All Hollow's Eve."

Well, if Christmas Eve precedes Christmas Day, then by process of elimination and congruence of terminology, "All Saints Day" should be preceded by "All Saints Eve." By the same logic, if "All Saints Eve" is the same as "All Hollows Eve," then a saint is a hallow. Which is actually completely true. In fact, having never read Harry Potter, I'm probably the last person in America to make this connection.

But forget all that. It's dumb. It's like every year when I have to cite the Old English halidæg, meaning "holy day," to explain that "holiday" means the same thing. (It's one letter off and sounds the same, Jesus Christ).

What I enjoy about Halloween has about as much in common with true holiday meaning as, well, what I enjoy about Christmas. I loved getting candy, but I can frankly buy my own  candy at this point in my life. Better candy. I don't need to walk three miles dragging a pillow case to do it. I can just drive my car to the supermarket and buy what a I really want. Hell, I spent two months looking for just the right kind of boxed chocolates to sate my cravings.

I like playing dress up. I like adopting a new persona and going out and staring at the other weird people admitting that we're never who we pretend to be. It's a very open, vulnerable experience, assuming you run into anyone you know. Otherwise, you're a completely different person and you yourself are protected from all societal norms and conventions and personal slights. It's fascinating.

Also, I love going out and getting drunk. On good booze. Celebrating. Money is secondary to fun. In costumes!…With booze!

2003 - Playboy
(2004 I was Dante from Clerks. No photo.) 
2005 - Emo
2006/2007 - Che Guevara

2008 - An Anonymous

2009 - Mad Scientist

2010 - Tony Stark

Saturday, October 30, 2010

On Success

So I did a little fact checking yesterday and I just wanted to dedicate one day to thanking everybody who reads SADM.

You see, apparently we've had our best month ever, every month since July. We just kept going up. Our best day ever was actually back in February, with 128 hits (Astrophysics Jokes), but we almost capped that this month. The Walking Dead did pretty well. 108.

But here's the kicker: we made 1,000 page views this month!

You guys are awesome. If we can quadruple that, I could measure site traffic on the same scale as "real" websites. You know, the smaller ones.

But the point is, you guys rock. And roll. No paper.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Things I Cleaned Out of My Closet Today


Things I Cleaned Out of My Closet Today:
  • Four old or ill-fitting dress shirts

  • A series of junk paper files

  • Two homosexuals

  • A pair of old Converse sneakers, black

  • A third homosexual, also black

  • A compact DVD player

  • The Evidence
 Oh, but I totally kept the lava lamp. Don't worry.

    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    On The Gark

    "Yeah, mah nigga, it's all abouts the chedder biscuits."
    For whatever reason, our father took to calling my little brother "The Gark." He claims it was, "Because you were going to be a football player." I can understand this. "Gark" certainly is a large, lumbering sound. Still, William "The Refrigerator" Perry it ain't. So what the hell is a gark?

    A simple Google search for "The Gark" returns a top result for the "G.A.R.K. , The Greater Alabama Rottweiler Klub." I don't know about you, but I'm wary of joining any organization based out of Atlanta that has a penchant for Rottweilers and extraneous use of the letter K.

    Perhaps Ye Olde Urban Dictionary might help us out:

    "Gark3 - An onomatopoeia meant to represent the noise a female (or perhaps a male) makes during the act of fellatio and takes in more than they can handle."

    Usage examples include:

    "Male: 'Baby if you keep sucking me like that I'm gonna take you to Red Lobster for cheddar biscuits'
    "Female: *GARK GARK GARK GARK*"

    The first two definitions claim gark is a filler word and inherently meaningless. I choose to believe the truth that is more interesting.

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Things Which Would Prevent Me From Wanting To See A Movie: "127 Hours"

    "How the hell am I going to dig myself out of this hole that is my  inability to land
    decent roles where I don't squint?…I've got it! I'll stop working with Judd Apatow!
    Dramatic roles! Of wounded people! Yeah!"

    Things Which Would Prevent Me From Wanting To See A Movie: "127 Hours":
    • 90 minutes where a character doesn't move
    • 90 minutes of "How am I going to get out of this one?"/"Oh, well that didn't work. Heartbreakingly close, though."
    • 90 minutes of watching some guy try everything short of cutting off his own arm, knowing all the while that he's going to have to cut off his own arm and then actually watching him cut off his own arm.
    • James Franco looking deliriously confused. Again.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    On Texas

    I was driving to the post office today when I notices one of these gems on the Hyundai in front of me:

    Yeah, that's a "Don't mess with Texas" bumper sticker, alright. On a Hyundai. With New York plates. And where was it? "On the bumper?" you suspect? No, it was on the rear windshield.

    Alright, let's start at the top, with this.

    You are not in Texas. You have not lived in Texas for several years (if ever) judging by your license plates, nor are you driving a vehicle that would be required for any of the tough, pick-up-type activities one normally would associate with a stereotypically Texan lifestyle. Moreover, you aren't even driving an American car. Best case scenario? You are the wife or girlfriend of someone who grew up in Texas. You yourself are not Texan. You aren't even close enough to be trusted with a Ford Fiesta.

    You are also retarded. Now I understand that in Texas they execute the retarded, so perhaps this explains why you are not in Texas right now. It would also explain why you chose to affix your bumper sticker to the windshield instead of, say, your bumper, which I noticed was utterly devoid of clutter supporting George W. Bush, the Astros or the forcible removal to reservation space of the young brown man in the car next to you with paw prints and howling wolf window clings covering his vehicle. In point of fact, all of the developmentally challenged people I have met have had the capacity of mind to know that bumper stickers go on your bumper. This leads me to believe that you might actually just be illiterate, and you trusted that nice man at the store when he told you that sticker actually read, "World's Best Momma/Sister."

    Man, fuck Texas.

    One of my best friends has lived in Texas for years and she says she loves the place, except for all the Mexicans and all the times she complains about there not being anything to do and nowhere to go to do that not-anything. Basically, if Texas weren't where it was and full of people she hated with so far between anything interesting, Texas might be an almost decent place.

    Oh, but the guns. The guns, she says. She loves that everybody has guns. Well you know what? Fuck Texas anyway. You heard me. There are only four places in the U.S. people can argue as being the best city in the world. One is Boston, and the rest of us let them have that because we do enjoy going up there from time to time and using their city like a giant outdoor toilet, plus I mean they've got the Red Sox so let's just lay off them for a bit. The three others are states and they get to fight it out: California, New York and Texas.

    California? Fuck them. They talk a big game but if you put a Californian in a room with a New Yorker and a Texan, they're going to get real quiet, real fast. Because Californians are pussies.

    But Texas has guns. Texas is big and strong and they will shoot you because they know they're the best state ever.

    Fuck that. New Yorkers don't all have guns, they will fight you bare-knuckled. If you have a gun. Texans and New Yorkers get into a big fight and the Texans start shooting? New Yorkers will punch them. They will punch Texans and take their guns and use them as clubs to continue beating on Texans because fuck you, that's why.

    Texas thinks it can make fun of New York for our delicious bagels and our expensive water bottles. You know what the best food in Texas is? Mexican.

    Jesus Christ, if a Texan ever says anything derogatory to you about where you're from, just look him straight in the eye and say, "Oh yeah? Well you used to be Mexico."

    Fuck Texas. Texas couldn't even make it as it's own country. It fought for its independence from Mexico and then immediately said, "Please, United States, we want to be a part of youuuuu."

    Man, grow up, Texas. Stop trying to act like you weren't the fat kid we let play with the rest of us just because it was either you or Mexico and Mexico's mom doesn't rub crude oil all over herself while sunbathing out in the front yard.

    Fuck you, Texas. Go back to Mexico.

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Free Candy: A Belated Comic Con Tale

    "What's a diorama?" "I beat the smart kids! I beat the smart kid-
    No, I didn't have to do some stuff for a guy in the back of his windowless van, but yes, I did get free candy at New York Comic Con a couple weekends back. It should really come as no surprise to you that I did this by being a complete nerd.

    There was an event listed as "Best Japanese Game Show," though, much to the crowd's dismay, not a single man-crotch was wounded by large, swinging apparati. The teams were simple: a group of cosplayers (costume nerds) from the NY Anime Fest on the lower levels, a delegation from the NY Jedi league (Star Wars nerds), a herd of comic comics (comedians/comic book nerds) and a pack of wrestling nerds (actually pudgy Jewish kids who wish they were strong enough to beat up nerds in high school but were only mouthy instead. I'm looking at you, Scott). In order to get the crowd cheering appropriately, one of the assistant hosts threw candy to the audience. I did not get any, which was rather disappointing as I was very hungry.

    The game began simply enough with a game called "Sillo-WHAT?!" Silhouettes were projected onto a large screen and the character was to be named. First team to shout "HAI!" ('Yes' in Japanese) won 100 points. This was followed by some nerdy trivia and a couple of physical challenges that didn't make a terrible amount of sense, both in that they were pointless and in that they still refused to involve scrotum trauma.

    But then, a shining moment. The scores were closely matched: Comics 600, Wrestlers and Jedi 400, Cosplayers I think maybe 200. That's conservative. The anime kids were just entirely useless and even their physical challenge gear was malfunctioning on them. Basically, unless the next 12 questions were about Pokémon, they were out of the running. The hosts thought it best to spice things up with a 500 point bonus question.

    "Alec Guinness, best known for portraying Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: A New Hope was approached by a fan at [x-event] who told Guinness he had seen A New Hope in theaters 72 times, to which Guinness responded, 'That couldn't have done a lot for your life.'" - I'm paraphrasing somewhat, but that's hat I remember from the time. Where the hell was this guy going? This sounds unreasonably hard, even for a Star Wars nerd of my caliber. And jeeze, I haven't been keeping up with that stuff. Ever since they invented Wookiepedia, I've just sort of let the internet do my nerd trivia for me.

    "On the topic of Alec Guinness," the quizmaster continued, "In The Simpsons episode 'Lisa's Rival,' Allison Taylor invites Lisa back to her house where Mr. Taylor plays a word game with Allison. She is expected to form an anagram of a person's name that will be descriptive of that person. What anagram does she come up with for 'ALEC GUINNESS?'"

    Oh, Christ. I can't believe I don't remember this. I loved this bit. This was in my heaviest Simpsons period, too. It had the best jokes. The best Star Wars references. If I can't remember this, I don't know if I can live with myse-

    Oh, wait. It was "Genuine class."

    I muttered under my breath. Carolyn, my friend sitting beside me, said, "What?"

    "Genuine class," I repeated. The stage, though, was still silent.

    "Anybody?" the announcer asked. "Jedi? No?"

    He turned to the audience. "Does anybody know? In the crowd, just raise your hand.

    I was already moving my arm up, but obviously not fast enough for Carolyn. As some douchebag in the back began shouting things like, "Giant douche," Carolyn leaped to her feet and began shouting and flailing her arms like a deranged runway coordinator, trying to draw attention to me and my far less spastic arm. Considering that she was jumping up and down in a rainbow wig and tutu with a fishnet bodysuit and pasties, I have no doubt over how exactly I came to be called on.

    "Over here?" the announcer looked at me.

    "Genuine class," I said.

    "What?" he shouted over the din.

    "GENUINE CLASS!" I exclaimed, and as I heard a thoroughly shocked "That's right!" come from the stage, the crowd began cheering. The Comics Comics looked impressed, the Jedi nodded in strong, silent approval of one of their own, even the wrestlers stared wide-eyed in amazement while the anime kids dazed off into the corner of the room, dreaming blearily of Ponytas.

    Then the crowd around me turned first quiet, then ravenous. The American co-host had grabbed the remaining bag of candy and began flinging it, really heaving Mars Brand confections at the crowd in my general vicinity. I caught a Snickers and a Twix bar, quite welcome to my drooling face, and just for good measure I casually reached up and snagged a fun-size bag of peanut M&Ms before it careened into Carolyn's face.

    Honestly, I don't even remember the rest of the game. I think the comics won? But the Jedi were close, I think. Whatever, I had candy.

    And I won it by being nerdier than an entire roomful of nerds at a nerd convention.

    Man, I'm badass.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    On Headlines

    "Steve Jobs and Obama Meet In Palo Alto … What Did They Discuss?"

    "Hey, Bill, what's a white woman's vagina look like?"
    "Damned if I know, Barry."

    The fuck do you think they talked about? Obama asked how tech was going, Steve jobs told him the shiny white Apple path towards a lucrative singularity. Then they sat in a long silence in which both recognized the tenuousness of their grasps on power, both alone in the room with the other and then in the greater scheme of the world.

    And then Barry shed a single, Amerindian-esque tear. As his waterdog runs into the room, trailed quickly by Sasha and Malia, then by Michelle, he wiped the errant saline from his cheek and returned from the brief moment of non-composure he had permitted himself.

    Saturday, October 23, 2010

    On Political Mailers

    I got some mail the other day. Who is trying to get me to vote for/against who/what now?

    Yup. Republicans. Maybe they're thinking I'm somewhat disheartened after being a registered democrat for all of 6 years. Maybe it's time for a change I can believe in.
    Not so much. I laughed out loud, alone in my car when I saw the return address on this was "The Republican National Committee." No, guys, I'm sorry. It's nothing against you personally, though I have severe personal issues with some of you. The problem's just that I actually understand how economics work, how logical debates work, and that I just don't have nearly enough money to buy into any of your domestic policies. Sorry!

    But let's at least look at your bullet points. It'd be unfair to dismiss you otherwise.

    "Republicans have a plan to get us back on track

    Republicans will stop Democrats' runaway spending and return Washington's focus to where it belongs:
    • Stopping the tax hikes that would paralyze our recovery
      No, raising taxes helps the economy. How is there anyone left who doesn't know this after 11th grade History class?
    • Ending the climate of uncertainty that has small businesses afraid to hire
      Not an actual plan in any way.
    • Changing the culture of waste in Washington
      But Republicans are the culture in Washington. Considering how splintered Democrats are, Republicans are the largest functioning group.
    • Ending reckless spending and bailouts, and paying down the debt
      And spending the money instead on things republicans like, resulting in more lax economic policies and eventually necessitate bailouts. Brilliant.
    • Repealing the government takeover of healthcare, and replacing it with common sense reforms that reduce costs
      … for the percentage of the population that can actually afford to buy sufficient coverage.
    No, no thank you. I'll continue to be a leftist, since that's still alright to do. I'm only registered anything so that I can vote the least useful characters out of one primary.

    I had a history teacher my senior year of high school who described himself as a "Stealth Democrat." He'd been a registered Republican for probably 40 years but hadn't voted anything but Democrat in at least 25. Way to be, Mr. V.

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    "It's Complicated"

    A friend of mine said yesterday, "You have no idea how much sex complicates things."

    Now, aside from the backhanded assertion that I don't have nearly enough sex (and only a fool would turn down more sex), there's a valid point there. Sex does complicate things. But you know what complicated things even more?

    Not having sex.

    Really think about that one. "Oh! Woe! Woe! A thousand woes upon me! We have had sex and now our relationship is all befuddled!" Right. Great job. You know how a lot of those stories end? With more sex. And sometimes a happy ending. Sure, sometimes a bad one, but you still got to have sex and they say bad sex is like bad pizza: no such thing.

    Oh, but man, not having sex? How do you even properly gauge how you feel about a person if you're not having sex with them? As soon as they're physically and psychologically attractive enough to make that blip on your radar, how are you supposed to comport yourself and try to understand your own feelings? Dear lord, are you supposed to- to actually … think about your feelings??

    Swear to God, there wouldn't be nearly as many emo kids in the world if only they'd cut out this Abstinence Only education plan. Get an emo laid and you know what you have? A well-adjusted alternative rocker.

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    On Bees

    I was driving to the notary today when a thought occurred to me:

    "How the hell do bees evolve?"

    I man really, how does that work? Normally one member of a species develops a trait that helps it survive better or at the very least have more children. Passing on those mutant freak genes is how complex life evolves. So how the hell do bees do it?

    For one thing, bees have the wonderful defense mechanism of the stinger. Except they die when they sting you. So it's beneficial for other bees if one bee mutates and gets a stinger. Other animals learn not to eat bees, remaining bees thrive. Except now the only bee with a stinger is dead and there's no one to pass on the trait.

    So maybe they all develop stingers. Then everybody protects everybody else. Great, except now we're talking simultaneous, parallel evolution of an entire species for the benefit of the species instead of individuals within that species. Cooperative evolution. Oh man.

    Then of course we have to raise the issue that none of the bees who ever sting you get to reproduce. They have queens for that. The simplest answer, I suppose, is that it was evolutionarily beneficial for a specific queen bee to birth crazy, stinger-equipped mutant offspring to defend her and help her personal colony.

    These bees ended up dominating all nee life until no other bees were left. Yes. Good.

    You know, most people think about normal things in the car.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    In the Interest of Childhood Honesty

    Surprised I thought I came up with this. 
    The following questions I leave to you, dear reader, with the thought that if, by chance, you have children and if, by chance, you decide to tell them more than just the few childhood lies we were all entitled to believe for a time, they might turn and ask you one of the following. I also leave to you whether or not to be more honest with your children after that.

    • "How come it's okay for Jesus to have two daddies but Johnny down the street can't?"
    • "Why is doggy heaven separate from people heaven?"

    • "What's God so sad about that he cries and makes it rain?"
    • "Why's Santa magic but Jesus isn't?"
    • "Well, then where the hell do baby storks come from?"

    Jesus, do we really not lie to kids about anything but religion and sex? And what they hell is with the God crying/rain thing? I never got that, but I got "thunder is angel's bowling." Do we really have to try and explain every question we don't want to answer to a child with religion?

    I swear to Brahma, if I have kids I'm just going to fall back on "It's really complicated and even many adults don't understand it, but if you really want one day you can learn all about it and be one of the special people who do.

    "Or? You could totally check Wikipedia."

    Oh man, my kids are going to screwed up in completely new and interesting ways. But at least your kids are gonna make their lives miserable through high school, but at least my kids will become insightful and successful and put me in a better nursing home.

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    On Dreams, Pt. VIII - In Which I Dream About Dream Making A Dream In The Dreaming

    I had a dream the other day. I get my most vivid dreams when I'm towards the end of my sleep cycle and tend to roll over onto my back. I can't sleep well on my back, so I guess if I'm already asleep I only come part way out of it. Continuity becomes a little clearer, but I also question more, so questions often get answered if I ask them.

    In this case, I dreamt the beginning of a Sandman comic, complete with panels, layout and word balloons, and the title, "The Creation."

    "A rift opened between worlds.

    Worlds ate other worlds.

    It came first here to Atlantis, then others.

    Those stars you see, they are the bits that remain.

    You are a creature mysts, both winged child and my dark messenger,

    and you ARE mine, for you know this. I am your creator, Dream, called Morpheus.

    You may dwell in this place, which is yours. It is but a dwelling."

    The opening panels are arranged in triangular shards with their focal point the top right-center of the page. The first shows two galaxy-like objects in a starry rift among others of their kind, with a brightening light between them as they draw near. The second, thinner shard shows a sucking void between streams of interstellar gasses and broken rocky bodies, the third a new universe emerging from the center of this mess, growing like merging soap bubbles. The last shows doric columns, broken and sunken beneath beneath water on a shallow sandbar, spare seaweed wafting in the current. No animal life is there.

    The second quarter of the page reveals a new starry blue sky as seen from the ground, black and silhouetted. A single craggy tree reaches up into the moonless air from which the narrating voice emanates.

    The bottom half of the page reveals newborn dream, a rocky, earthen Gollum with graying, gorilla anatomy. He is being informed of what he is, though he already knows much of it as it is told to him. The voicing of these truths is as ceremonious as they are formality. In utterance, they codify the many possible realms that be into the one which will persist.

    The young dream looks up into the sky by the tree, then to the tree itself as it begins to take on an appearance similar to the young dream's own, rocky and marbled. Though ever-changing, it tends towards retaining a large, protruding jaw and almost nonexistent nose. Its voice is rich and full of gravel (a lower Keith David), and you know it to be speaking truths even as it binds you in servitude.

    The voice points you towards your home, a wide, low medieval parapet made of the same stone as the young dream and built around a sapling that grows as the castle-like abode expands around it, drawing its material from and joining itself to the side of a swelling hill.

    Apparently, this was a story from the "about" section of Death's personal website. Odd.

    Right before this dream, I was also seemingly dreaming I was idly playing guitar in a high school I never attended, aware of the sensation of slowly growing fuller, with a kind of nervous, joyous energy I could not contain. I stood and began radiating this power as the lights around me and outside dimmed. A storm brewed out the window and I scream and stretch out my arms, though I cannot exhale through my mouth. I manage to bring my arms in so that I can rip my mouth open and breath comfortably, but in doing so release an explosive white light. I can now speak, but not as loudly as I thought.

    I am birthing a new god. I frighten those classmates I do not like and reassure the one I had been talking to. I have released some kind of old, malevolent deity, but it is still my body, in fact thinner and weaker than it was before, somewhat more effeminate and theatrical, possibly gay, if a dark, old god enjoined with my own self in the creation of a new being COULD be called possibly gay. Frankly, I do not see why mortals limit their perceptions of themselves such.

    Residual creation energy segues into "The Creation" as above.

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    On Photoshop

    I learned to use Adobe Photoshop by trying to seamlessly alter my driver's license.

    Oh, I never used the thing. I'm not even sure I printed it. The point was, I learned how to Photoshop using some real low-grade, knock-off software and unrelenting obsession with individual pixels.

    I moved on to making custom DVD and CD labels, making some amusing captions and altering family photos because some old flame asked for a picture of a dead relative and my grandmother and her sister were so insanely spiteful that they'd rather I remove a woman from a picture of a man who looked like that relative than get a real copy of  photo made.

    And then, yeah, I had my own comic strip online and in the college newspaper for like three and a half years. That probably really helped too.

    What do I use it for now? Mostly crap like this:

    Yeah, that's the same guy Photoshopped over every other person at the party. To be honest, I'm not even sure which is the original at this point. I think it might be the one in red on the left. Or it could be the one with breasts. Either/or, really.
    Anyway, that was my entry into last year's "Aaron Gold Photoshop Challenge." It did not win. Nor did my rendition of the Lincoln Monument using this same kid. Did I mention the point of the contest? No? Well, it was Photoshop Aaron Gold into a photo of something else. And it was a contest. I really feel like I didn't need to explain that after all.

    But this year I will win.

    I warmed up with some astrophysical Face of Mars layer work.
    Not only did I get to work with layers and color adjustments, but this one refined my clone-tool/spot-healing work. I had to combine two pictures to get the hair right.

    Next I did some Earth-based geography just to get the warp-tool down.

    But this was all leading up to my masterpiece. My Sistine Chapel. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you "The Creation of Aaron":

    Overall, I'm pretty happy with it. I might go for a sculpture of David next, but I don't know. Maybe a Mona Lisa or try for an abstracted, Picasso piece. We'll see. All I know is I'm too much of a classicist to ever win this contest.

    But I'm totally down with carving out the winner's skull to use as a paint can.

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    On Goats II: The Maaaa-ening

    Well, that's it, you guys. It's all over. The goats have won.

    Okay, well, not yet, but it's just a matter of time, now. They've begun their war of extermination, and we're on the menu, delicately seasoned and topped with an expensive cheese made from the milk of our own women.

    They will take our least savory bits and boil them in the lining of our own stomachs. This, I promise you.

    Saturday, October 16, 2010

    Of Comic Book Nerds and The Walking Dead: A Tragic Romance

    "Goddam, do I love strawberry pocky!"
    As previously mentioned (and judging by this blog's second highest traffic day ever),  one of the biggest events from this year's New York Comic Con was the premier of footage from and Q&A with creators and cast of AMC's The Walking Dead comic-to-television adaptation.

    Of the two people I attended NYCC with, one was busy during the screening and the other doesn't care for zombies.

    Wait. What? Who? Who doesn't care for zombies? I have another friend who couldn't attend the con and he ended up being sent the first two episodes before the cast so that he could properly interview them because this is his job and TWD is just. That. Big.

    How can you not like zombies? They're possibly the greatest monster ever: They are self-replicating, asexual, non-racial, not-discriminatory of any kind (zombie in a wheal chair? Awesome.). In fact zombies are such an amalgam of their folklore origins that at this point the "classic" zombie was invented only 42 years ago by a Canadian-American Hispanic Lithuanian. If you're looking for a monster that embodies the totality of everything evil and counter-productive in humanity, zombies are your man. (Or woman. Or little girl eating her parents. Whichever, grammatically speaking.)

    Depending on where you place your survivors in a zombie setting, the undead can represent anything from consumerist conformity to religious conformity, even to warmongering, nostalgic conformity. (Okay, so there's a pretty stable base for most non-comedic zombie stories. So shoot me [before I change into one of them.])

    Really, with a ghoul so iconic, so simple, so terrifyingly Other and yet Us, how can you not love zombies? They're like if Edward Said decided one day to go mad and slaughter Western civilization until the survivors properly understood Orientalism and The Exile.

    Zombies don't make mistakes. They don't get cocky. They plod through a continent doing what they do. They are a natural purge of artificiality in human existence. How can you not love zombies?

    Well, apparently it's possible. And I think I've figured out why:

    The only people who don't love zombies are people who aren't afraid of other people.

    Now there's two sides to that. Am I saying that nerds who love zombies are all terrified of dealing with mainstream society, large groups of people and even the other human beings they're forced to interact with by the sheer coincidence of living in the same geographic region?

    Meh. Kind of.

    Sorry, guys. I'm one of you, I really am, and if we want to look at it from the other direction, it sounds much better to say, "The few people who don't like zombies are likely comfortable with who they are, how they deal with society at large and/or have much more pressing worries than in which Walmart they will hole-up when the inevitable happens."

    It's possible that they're just really focused on other parts of their lives. Maybe they're even too dumb to see why a writhing, unidirectional mass of self-destructive conformity is a bad thing. That actually sounds like a really great way to think about it.

    But no, most likely they're just not frightened by the notion of going out and coping with human beings every morning.

    Which is a pretty weird thought, really.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Wory Woos: A NY Comic Con Tale

    "In early 2000 I was living in London and I started sketching monsters while I was by myself, traveling quite a bit. I'd been sketching monsters through high school, through college and while I was alone I started realizing, 'Oh my gosh, these are my emotions coming out through these characters.'"

    That would be artist Andi Green, discussing the earliest beginnings of the characters that became Worry Woos, adorable little monsters you can hug and squeeze and who deal with some surprisingly deep emotions for dudes made out of cotton stuffing.

    I suppose I should start a little farther back. About a week ago I was chatting with my friend Carolyn who pulled a non-sequitur by linking me to the above site and proclaiming her burning desire for a Rue. I said that I, aesthetically, had something of a soft spot for whatever a Fuddle was, and that says a lot about be from what Carolyn told me next:

    Worry Woos are the actual emotions they embody. They feel like that all the time, they are loneliness and insecurity and innocence. They have problems with these ethereal feelings, but they always have to accept them because that's who they are. They don't fix feeling sad or lonely like certain bagel-topping street puppets, rather they accept their feelings as valid and learn from them.

    Rue has a big nose. He does not like his nose. He rues it. (Get it?) But it's his nose. No other one suits him. Eventually he comes to accept and even love his nose as a part of himself. Too often we tell children to stop crying because it's not helping. Sure, we should help break them of the habit of communicating only through tears after that point where their vocal chords and frontal lobes become capable of vocalizing thought, but sometimes it just feels better to let out a good cry.

    Fast forward a couple days to Friday of last week. Carolyn and I are now wandering the Artists Alley section of New York Comic Con as our only guide and roving photographer/podcaster is off getting a plethora of comics signed by people I've never heard of (but whose artistic talent I do not remotely doubt).

    I forget exactly I was saying to Carolyn at the time, but I do remember that I turned briefly and when I turned back she was ten feet away and completely engrossed in something that was not our conversation. It was Worry Woos.

    You know that special kind of ADD young girls get when an otherwise calm, happy activity is interrupted by the arrival of an adorable, carry-on size puppy? The kind that spikes her voice up two octaves and instantly ends any previous mood or discussion? Yeah, apply that to a grown woman in a fishnet body stocking and tutu.

    We probably spent twenty minutes just sitting around, talking with Andi about her creations. The doodles that started everything, the books that came next and ultimately the adorable plush dolls both children and adults find charming. We walked out of there with pretty much every freebie Andi's booth was offering, plus the Rue set Carolyn had been wanting. We also left with an invitation to come back the next day, which we gladly accepted.

    Andi's characters are soaked in a kind of sad but uplifting validity you rarely see in children's characters. They don't talk down to children to make them feel like kids' feelings are small just because they are.

    If you're looking for books to explain emotions to your child and get creeped out by codependent sentiments like "I'll love you forever" or perennially enabling foliage, give Worry Woos a look instead. You'll be shocked how well-adjusted your children can be, given the opportunity.
    Cheers to the Worry Woos!

    For the full interview with Andi Green and more on the full Comic Con experience, visit The Mild Mannered Podcast and check out episode 11!

    Dave Zucker is a writer, blogger, illustrator, minister and just generally a stand-up guy. If you would like to pay him to do this kind of thing for a living, you can contact him at dzucker1 [at] gmail [dot] com.

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    On Bumper Stickers

    I'm going to take a break from Comic Con coverage to mention this:

    I keep seeing a bumper sticker on the way to my dad's house each week for dinner. It's a sticker I used to see a lot of a few years ago and it's always annoyed me: "SMILE! Your mom chose life!"

    I get it, you're pro-life. And you put a little smiley face there so you can convince people through happiness to agree with you. That's really a dick move, but as far as dirty tactics go that's pretty much the nicest and cleanest. Bad debating strategy, but a very courteous way to argue. Someone might disagree, but they'll still think you a nice person.

    Which is exactly what you want, don't you? Get them all ill-prepared and then overturn Roe v. Wade when they're trying not to be mean spirited. I see what you did there.

    Full disclosure, yes, I'm on the Choice philosophy, mainly because I can see reasons why an abortion might be necessary and no good argument for why it never should be. Never is big. A lot. I'm not going to argue that a blastula is a person or that a 7 month old fetus can't live on its own. What I am going to argue is logic.

    This bumper sticker is annoying. It raises no ethical questions, makes no pertinent points and contributes nothing to the discussion at all. In fact, all it really does is take the driver's opinion and rub it smugly in your face. 'Do you agree with me? Be happy! Don't? Be happy anyway, just know that YOUR MOM agrees with me.' Real nice, sticker. Way to bring our mothers into this. Dick.

    And I can't even argue it because my mother did choose to birth me. Granted, though, I was a planned pregnancy in a stable(ish) middle class suburban household.

    But I think I've found a response that can continue the open discourse while sticking to the same kind of polite yet improper debating techniques begun in the original sticker: guerilla stickerjobs.

    Gotta love freedom.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    The Walking Dead Know Our Brains

    I got a promo poster postcard. Neat!
    So I'm heading down to the lowest level of the Javits Center on 34th Street last Sunday, weaving my way through anime nerds, comic nerds, sci-fi, steampunk and just your general, cheese-scented nerds attending the last day of New York Comic Con/New York Anime Festival.

    I'm heading into the IGN theater for the last big panel/screening of the weekend, a Q&A with Robert Kirkman, creator of award winning comic series The Walking Dead, along with Fred Darabont and Gail Anne Hurd, executive producers and series adapters for AMC network's television take on the Kirkman's books.

    A cute blond girl in a NYCC "Con Hero" yellow shirt is getting exasperated corralling geeks for the event, so I just strain my ears and follow the unwashed masses rather than ask her again for specific directions. Obviously this does not work. I head over to a different yellow-shirt and ask him where to find the theater. The third day of the con, I am no longer clad in a tank top and a glowing, Iron Man chest piece. All this guy sees is a guy with glasses in a t-shirt and styling jacket. Oh, and a press badge.

    He sees that press badge and immediately ushers me through the black curtain behind his back, down a hallway to which just yesterday I had been denied access. I love my press badge.

    I head through the maintenance hallway until I come out in the side of the massive auditorium. I take a seat as close as I can to the stage and in the middle of the two massive movie screens to either side. About ten minutes later somebody comes on stage asking all of the press gathered–about a third of the room already–to make sure we fill in the front seats because there are several thousand fans about to shuffle in. Have I mentioned how much I love my press pass?

    The big draw is footage. At San Diego Comic Con this past Summer, AMC released the first trailer for TWD, but today there has been a promise of actual scenes. Host Eric Moira quickly introduces Kirkman, Darabont and Hurd, and then informs the enormous crowd that there is nothing he can do to stall so many people, so they are just going to show the first scene immediately: six-and-a-half minutes from the second episode.

    The screen dims and what follows is a wonderful 390 seconds. Without spoiling anything (I'm sure this footage will be online shortly), the crowd erupts in cheers when a certain young Asian man makes his first appearance. To be fair, the resemblance to his (entirely fictional) comic counterpart is disconcertingly precise. There are many cheers for familiar characters, but there's also an incredibly groan let out at a particular zombie take-down. Which raises an interesting point.

    How the hell is this show going to handle the gore of zombie killing? They're not people, not animals, not even alive. Does the FCC have a policy for what you can show on television when the critter's already dead as all get out? Maybe, but zombie killing is maybe 5% of The Walking Dead. People killing and extreme emotional talks are the rest. Surely AMC is going to have to do something to censor such an (awesomely) graphic series.

    Not so much, says Darabont. "Remember, this is the network that makes Breaking Bad. And Madmen." Trying to explain the series' content as closer to an "R" movie rating, the analogy eventually breaks down and he just says, "Breaking Bad … we're going to make them look like pussies."

    Kirkman, who has also penned the script for episode 4, adds, "People will be shocked at the level of … stuff we can get away with." The two describe their disbelief at emails of energetic approval from Standards & Practices, then renege, saying the bosses were there and that S&P were doing their jobs very well.

    After a few more scripted questions, Moira called out members of the cast, Andrew Lincoln ("the pretty boy from 'Love Actually,'" as Darabont put it) who plays protagonist Rick Grimes, Sarah Callies (Lori Grimes), Jon Bernthal (Shane), Laurie Holden (Andrea), Steven Yeun (Glen) and Normal Reedus as one of the television version's original characters, Daryl. (Reedus is best known for his role as "Boondock Saints" brother Murphy.)

    The actors introduce themselves and their characters, Yeun being cheered, Bernthal being openly booed by fans who have read the books. He laughs, and actually thanks New York. Apparently he was expecting such a reaction from San Diego and was rather disappointed when he didn't get it. He does, however, add that maybe those of the audience who booed will feel a little differently when they see how his character is fleshed out on air.

    Which is an important point to make:

    The Walking Dead premiers at 10 p.m. (EST) on Halloween night. It is 90 minutes, half and hour longer than a regular episode. However there are only six episodes in the entire season.

    Why would AMC green light a show for only six episodes? Well, they're partially playing off the English method of T.V. broadcasting. They're not short changing the show by demanding they snag a massive viewership with one pilot episode, something some shows never make it past if they air their pilot at all.

    Instead, AMC is giving the series six episodes to bring in the fans they already know the book has. Basically, they're hoping everybody tunes in for the first six weeks, because if even half the audience for the comic watches the show they are going to smash some season one basic cable records. Kirkman and Darabont plead with the audience to get everyone to watch live. There is no benefit in watching online or on DVD with this one. From the get-go, people need to tune in if they want to see a longer second season.

    And why not? The show is going to look pretty amazing. According to Darabont, they chose film and cameras that would make the zombies look as disgustingly realistic as possible. "We shot on actual film," he adds, to surprisingly celluloid-knowledgeable applause. "Super 16," in fact. This gets significantly less applause, but those who do clap are very enthusiastic. Kirkman, for what it's worth, adds that the first time he was told all this it flew completely over his pencil-and-paper head. The long and short of it is, these zombies are going to look incredible and they're probably going to re-die in some pretty visually visceral ways.

    And it's going to be awesome.

    If you want to hear more about The Walking Dead screening and a whole bunch of other Comic Con nonsense, I'll be co-guest hosting The Mild Mannered Podcast sometime hopefully this week.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Ten Ballsiest Costumes At New York Comic Con 2010

    Runner Up #1: Guy dressed in authentic Sailor Moon costume

    Walking around with his friend at Anime Fest on the lower level. You've got balls, but you knew you weren't ugly enough to make this anything less than a good joke.

    Runner Up #2: Fat Black Haruhi Suzimiya

    What does it matter that you're cosplaying a Japanese high school girl? You've got  character you like and you ran with it. Honestly, you'd make the main list if all of the other kids in anime costumes weren't equally depressing.

    10. Poka Fett

    Everyone hates polka, but everyone loves Boba Fett. Street performer who knows which nerds will be at the Javits Center on 34th St and when, you are ballsy.

    9.  Sexy Fidel Castro

    Congratulations, Sexy Fidel Castro, you have managed to take a sexy girl and make her into something I don't want to have sex with. You could have gotten laid with ease at Comic Con (and probably still could, really), but you've significantly reduced your chances. In fact, I'm really just assuming this is a woman from the clear skin and lack of proper saluting procedure, but this could just as easily be, like, Justin Bieber or some other young boy. Sexy Fidel Castro, that was pretty ballsy.

    8. Sexy Dalek

    There you go. You know how to try and get laid at Comic Con, don't you? However you went a dangerous route, Sexy Dalek; you went with revealing, easy access, and so remarkably geeky and recognizable that it's probably a good idea to keep a stick around to beat nerds off with. Although that sounds pretty sexy too. Sexy Dalek, you are definitely ballsy.

    7. Pedobear(s)

    Pedobears, you stand the greatest chance of getting parents to have you pose with their kids. You also knowingly stand the greatest chance of being arrested for posing with children. It' an incredible joke with a frightening outcome if things go wrong, and how can they not go horribly, horribly wrong? Pedobear(s), you are ballsy.

    6. Trollface

    From the same web origins as Pedobear, "GTFO OF HERE" Trollface was accompanied by his friend "FFFUUUUUUU Guy" Rage Face. You two go all out but stay in the lamest medium of cardboard, cementing your place as nerds in a room full of nerds, and as complete newfags in a room full of, well, even more newfags, but I'm sure there's a few oldfags mixed in there as well. Every time I look at you, Trollface, I want to punch you in your real face, and I don't think anyone would think ill of me. Trollface, you are pretty ballsy.

    5. Dark Phoenix Mom

    Dark Phoenix Mom, you are ballsy and a little disturbing. Why? Because your son is dressed as Scott "Cyclops" Summers. You are dressed as your own son's character's lover. I don't even want to think about whose idea this was. Dark Phoenix Mom, you are ballsy and possibly a little pedobear, yourself.

    4. Guy Gardner

    There was a guy dressed as Guy Gardner, dead-on and with an officially licensed replica power battery. It was an awesome Green Lantern costume. However Guy Gardner is generally perceived as an even worse Lantern than the squirrel guy, undeserving of his ring and so loathed that DC brought his predecessor back from the dead and kicked him out of his own comic. He's still around, somewhere, being under-appreciated. To embody such a character so thoughtfully, Guy Gardner Guy, you are extremely ballsy.

    3. Ben Reilly

    Everything I said about Guy Gardner? Apply that to Ben Reilly and then double it. Then triple that and raise it to the power of Jason Todd. A Peter Parker clone who coopted the Spider-Man identity repeatedly around donning this low-rent leotard. Emphasis on "tard." Ben Reilly's hated up there with Jason, Guy, and Jar-Jar Binks. For your commitment in the face of great suckage, Ben Reilly, you are super ballsy.

    2. Black Mage (Final Fantasy)

    Black Mage, you are ballsy because for three days I thought you were He-Man's Orko and I wanted to kill you. I am sure many others thought the same thing, and I did not see a single other person more openly inviting their destruction while walking the halls of artist alley. Incredibly ballsy.

    1. Neil Gaiman's Delirium

    Oh- Oh God. Geez. Um, yeah. I can't see them, but you've got to have some pretty big ones to dress like this around 100,000+ geeks. God bless you, ballsy girl. You have the Ballsiest Costume at Comic Con.

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Sunday Comic Con Snapshot

    This is not written in braille. I believe we have reached an impasse.

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Comic Con: Saturday Photo

    Steampunk Iron Man took 2 weeks to make and 4 days to paint. This guy was far more awesome than the WWII accurate Captain America and Bucky Barnes duo.

    Saturday, October 9, 2010

    Friday Comic Con Snapshot

    This joke is only really funny if you read "Civil War," but then it's hilarious.

    I also have a shot of me drop-kicking his shield.

    Worst fact about this picture: I bulked up for my costume, this guy wasn't even wearing pads. (But he was on "The Real World," so point me. [But he models Calvin Klein underwear, so point and set to Cap.])   

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    On Commercial Radio

    "Tell me what to blog about." This is what I said to Dean less than a minute ago. His suggestion: Bad radio commercials.

    Now, unfortunately for this conversation, I stopped listening to the radio after I left college and found out the only radio station I could tolerate back home went digital and had its frequency bought out by some hip-hop/trance station featuring Nick Cannon talk in the mornings. As it stands, I do not listen to radio because I do not enjoy the commercials on the radio. Also, I don't like the music.

    But Dean listens to the radio. Mostly sport radio, but also Nick Cannon. He seems to hear a lot of commercials that try to make sports analogies. Bad ones. Like the kind that just piss yo off because they sound forced and pathetic and just plain sad.

    Lawyers: "To put it in sports terms, we're like the quarterback, leading you to a win." … Unless they get sacked. Great job, guys.

    Call me old fashioned, but I don't know if I could take advice from any lawyer who isn't wearing a ten gallon cowboy hat.

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    On Home and Fellowship

    This is why I love the hickish side to my hometown, dudes beatin' on other dudes outside the Walmart so hard a man's shoes fly off, so he kicks him in the face and it does nothing.

    Mofos be trifflin', don't know when to step back.

    *NOTE: NY Comic Con coverage begins Friday night! I expect to see horrible things, which I will regale upon you.

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    On Just Your Everyday, Regular Guys, You Know?

    "I want to ask this question, but I don't want to- I know it'll make me- I don't want to sound like an asshole."

    This is what a very dear friend said to me a few hours ago. It was somewhat leading, based on the conversation we had been having, but the question itself was in no way obvious from context. Given two normal, everyday people alone in a room, I would not expect one to know where this discussion was going more than, say, 30% of the time. It is precisely this issue that allowed me to know exactly what question I was about to be asked, because it's not normal and I've already wondered countless times, but I've never asked because it does make you feel like an asshole.

    "'What the hell do normal people think about all day??'"

    It was a good minute before I could hear anything but raucous, almost disbelieving laughter coming through the receiver in my cell phone–that and occasionally a few syllables of "DAA-AAAAVEEE!!"–but this was enough to tell me I hit the nail on the head. With a sledgehammer.

    You see, there are two types of people in this world, as loath as I am to use that simplified stance on anything. There are people who with great consistency wonder what other people must think about at all hours, thinking, "Well I think of these things, but I'm considered weird, so normal people probably don't think that. Maybe they think about football? Or hockey. Maybe people think about hockey.It's already Fall. They play hockey on ice all year but I thought hockey season would be in Fall and Winter since they traditionally must have started when there was ice out. Crap. What was I thinking about? Oh yeah, 'what do normal people think about?'"

    The other type of people are normal people, and I have no idea what they think about because as far as I can tell they're not inclined to ever wonder that. The only people who seem to ask that question are the type of people who ask that question. Somewhat circular logic, I know, but frankly you just have to split the difference when you can. Some people ponder how introspective other people must be, while other people don't wonder about wondering.

    Which is not to say they're incapable of it. I avoid asking the direct question because I don't want to come off as a complete douche, but my friend Dean has answered once or twice. He seems to indicate that he thinks about whatever it is he's been tasked with doing, then maybe thinking about what he's going to do on the weekend or something. If he's at work and bored, he might check Facebook to see if anyone's RSVP'd to do whatever it is he wanted to do this weekend to spend the money he has earned by working. There's a correlation of thought processes.

    I asked Dean once, "What do you think about when you're going to bed? Right before you actually fall asleep but the lights are out and you're actually trying to become asleep, what thoughts are going through your head? What do you think about, right then?"

    Dean indicated that he didn't. He just goes to sleep. I asked if he thought about what he had done that day or try to plan out what he has to do tomorrow. He seemed to indicate more towards the latter, but it really petered out around 'go to work, have dinner with dad Thursday."

    I'm always thinking. Weird thoughts, too. I cracked the meaning of Donnie Darko's time vortex in the shower. The Terminator time travel. I came up for a mode of faster-than-light telecommunication that is scientifically sound but can't possibly exist for at least 50 years, also in the shower. I do a hel of a lot of thinking in the shower. Before bed, my life tends to swing between feeling so contented in my nice cozy sheets that I drift lazily to the most restful sleep reserved usually for new-born babes and the cruelly, psychotically remorseless … or I just think about every mistake I've ever made and how stupid I am for it and why my inability to not fuck up will leave me forever ruined and without love. One or the other.

    On the other hand, Dean has the most amazing ability to fall asleep anywhere, doing anything, and fight through every possible stimulus against waking. Last Sunday he fell asleep at the movies and a hard slap across the face only managed to wake him gradually.

    So maybe he's not the best source to ask about pre-sleep thought patterns.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    On Defensive Driving

    Things Online Defensive Driving Courses Have Saved Me:
    • Like $15
    • 6 Hours in my mall's back office
    • Waking up at 6 a.m.
    • $250/year on my insurance and like 4 points from that one thing
    Things Online Defensive Driving Courses Have Cost Me:
    • That sweet, sweet egg McMuffin breakfast
    • Valuable doodle time
    • 6 hours I could have spent listening to music, cruising news sites, watching porn, playing games or doing any of the other fun things you're supposed to use computers for.
    Oh, who am I kidding, the whole point of taking these courses online is so that while it's playing you can spend six hours listening to music, cruising news sites, watching porn and playing games.

    Oh, it's unsafe as hell, but the things I'd let that girl do to my transmission….