Archive for October, 2009
Everyone that has read just a few entries here knows I play a lot of games (points over to his ‘gamercard’). Most of the time you can find me logged into EVE Online or Champions Online. Those MMO’s have a tendency of sucking away most of my free time but I do spend quite a bit of time on my Xbox 360. Recently I have played Batman: Arkham Asylum and Halo 3: ODST. Both were interesting and well designed but have not held my interest very well. Halo was great in Co-Op mode and Batman, even though it is very faithful to the Batman mythos and is one of the best DC superhero games ever (that isn’t saying much, though), just did not hold my interest. Kicking the heads of bad guys in over and over just to get to the next boss battle has become blase. The Bat-gadgets are neat but they just seem to be more of ‘this’ and extra hit points, nothing to really strive for.
The planets have aligned and the winning lottery numbers match – in short: Snack Time Online is attempting to return. The pop culture podcast from “the before time” kicks off with Episode Zero. That episode number allows Joey Snackpants & Tom Croom to write off this episode as a beta test. In true Microsoft Windows form, we’re releasing this test episode before it is actually ready for public consumption – so enjoy! Please post your feedback so we can apply it future episodes.
Direct mp3 Link: http://www.greenmustard.com/snacktimeonline/STO000.mp3
Feedburner Link (subscribe): http://feeds.feedburner.com/joeysnackpants
Episode 000: Remember… The Podcast
Manager Tools - **WARNING** **WARNING** **Boring ‘work’ kind of stuff ahead** In my ‘real’ life, I am a manager. Those that manage teams will agree with me that it’s easy to lead, it’s much much much harder to lead well. I try to gather information from all kinds of sources but with the amount of other reading for pleasure and my short attention span, I was having a good bit of trouble trying to collect information, especially real world experiences. It’s real easy for some professor that hasn’t managed people in the work force for the last 10 years to spit his drivel at me but I wanted to pick the brain of real managers that dealt with real issues (i.e. PDPs, annual reviews, one-on-ones, etc.) in the modern workplace. Mark and Mike are two long time friends that have experience as managers in the traditional workforce, the military and as consultants. This wide breadth of knowledge means these guys have seen it all! I was hooked on their original set on interviewing and the pitfalls of ‘embellishing’ yourself. The podcast has one major quality that these informational shows have a problem with: they are entertaining. I have heard others say that Mark and Mike have a tendency to get off track but it’s this friendly banter that gives them that ‘real world’ credibility I enjoy. Their constant schilling of their upgraded ‘paid’ product can get annoying but that is more than offset by the information you get.
Today’s blog post will probably only interest about 5% of the people that read my diatribes, if that many. This subject has been eating at me since Dragon*Con. I have been going to Dragon*Con for the last 4 years. Between eating at Trader Vic’s, Chicken ‘n Waffles, paying big bucks for autographs and standing in lines, I do actually attend a few panels. The one I have made sure to attend each year is the EVE Online panel. For those of you ‘not in the know’, EVE Online (EVE) is a Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG or MMO) set within a space faring science fiction (SyFy many may say) backdrop. EVE’s biggest difference is that all 30,000+ players participate on one server. Everybody plays in the exact same sandbox. EVE is run by CCP, which has its US offices in Stone Mountain, GA, a suburb of Atlanta, the same city in which Dragon*Con is held. Even though they are just 30 minutes from the venue, CCP has had the inability to send anything more than a ‘talking head’ to the panel. Last year, it was a single story guy that had little to no information. This year, it was 2 marketing guys and a single story guy. You would think with some marketing goobers there we would have some pretty pictures or new ‘smoke and mirrors’ promotional videos…. ANYTHING! Even those losers over at Sony Online (creators of such stinkers as Matrix Online and Star Wars Galaxies) could muster up some videos and graphics, but the CCP locals could only offer talking heads… again.
One of dearest friends Stepp-sensei posted this video recently and as a guy who crunches large amount of data for his ‘day job’, I found the explanation of the theories of segmenting data sound and the presentation very interesting.
If I was going to hire an internet marketing consultant, this would be the guy. Your usage may vary.
When Katie McAwesome and I moved from the Orlando area, we originally lived in a hotel as we were looking for new digs (actually KMcA looked, and worked). In that whole time she used a Dell Mini 9 to do all her work. Surprisingly, it ran everything she did; web, word processing, e-mail, the whole works. I myself own an ASUS EEEpc 900A, that I use for casual web surfing and blogging. That machine is 100% on the cloud, as another experiment. I recently purchased KMcA a Dell Mini 10v so that she had a larger keyboard and screen to use. So now I have both the Dell Mini 9 and ASUS EEEpc 900A. Both of these machines are intel processors, Atom in the Mini, Celeron in the 900A.
Now the experiment. For the next week I will use both of these machines, the Mini 9 running OS X Leopard and the 900A running Windows 7. Looking at both, I’ll see what works, what doesn’t and which I prefer in the end. Because all you OS X Kool-Aid drinkers scare me.
I read comic books… I have been reading comic books regularly for over 24 years now. When I say ‘regularly’, I mean I have not had a real long hiatus. Even after the hiatus, I would get back on the horse and pick up all those lovely back issues that I missed. I was truly an after market dream for the local comic shop (LCS). I grew up with comics in the 80′s with the start of the MEGA-OMG-HUGE Crossover events. Crisis on Infinite Earths was where I began my ‘regular’ comic buying, but later I made my parents stop at every major comic store in Virginia and Washington, DC during a family trip. I had my copy of Uncanny X-men with its “Mutant Massacre” map so I knew exactly what issues of Uncanny X-men, X-Factor, New Mutants and even Mighty Thor that I needed to pick-up to follow the storyline. I kept all of my comics in nice bags ‘n boards, shoved in long boxes, cataloged and alphabetized. These boxes served as game console storage, night stands, TV trays, they took up the 2nd most cubic footage in my living area (the most being reserved for the JACO Tape Library, but that is for a different blog entry). This was all fine, until I had to move… and that signaled the end of my ‘comic collection’. I took all but one short box to Coliseum of Comics and unloaded it. Since that moment, I have treated my comics like magazines: bought, read, then thrown/given away.
Green Lantern: Rebirth – Green Lantern: Rebirth 1-6 – Collected in TPB and upcoming Absolute Edition - In the sorrow that was comics in the 90′s, the DC editorial staff made another one of their incredibility awful decisions that plagued the decade. They believed that the Silver Age iconic character Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) had become too old and boring. He was not ‘hip’ or ‘contemporary’ enough for the comic book readers that were reading drivel such as Youngblood and Uncanny X-men. The powers that be at DC Comics ordered Hal Jordan’s fall and the creation of a new, younger Green Lantern. This whole story is chronicled in Emerald Twilight. I would suggest that particular story but the foundation on which it was based is so faulty, it cannot stand on its own. In 2004 comic writer Geoff Johns was tasked to return Hal Jordan to the land of the living (Jordan had sacrificed himself to save the Earth in the not-so-epic event Final Night) and try to explain the haphazard story telling that Jordan had been the victim of during the late 80′s and early 90′s. What we get was 6 issues of greatness. Johns explains the fall of Jordan, the stupid gray sideburns Jordan was sporting in Justice League, why the Green Lantern rings had a lame weakness to the color yellow AND sets up the epic event Blackest Night. Green Lantern: Rebirth holds its own as an independent story as well as a cornerstone in the Green Lantern mythos.
Batman: A Death in the Family and A Lonely Place of Dying – Batman #426-429, #440-442, The New Titans #60-61 -Collected in DC Classics Library: A Death in the Family and Batman: A Lonely Place of Dying TPB - Even though these are two separate stories nearly 3 years apart, they are so interconnected it would be hard to talk about one without bringing up the other in context. After the continuity reboot following Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC editorial staff made another one of their typically awful decisions and made Jason Todd (the current Robin, since Dick Grayson had graduated on to become Nightwing) into a ‘street wise’ kid with a criminal past. The new origin of Jason Todd had Batman catching him trying to steal the tires off the Batmobile. Over the next two years the Batman writing team would transform Jason Todd into the most whiny, over-dramatic sidekick since Bucky. The Death in the Family storyline encompasses Jason’s attempt to find his real mother, how Batman deals with international politics, the limitations of staying within the boundaries of international law and the death of his son at the hands of a villain that many thought Batman should have killed himself years ago. Unlike Dick Grayson, Bruce Wayne had actually legally adopted Jason Todd which added a new depth to the character of Bruce Wayne. The shameless promotional stunt of this story was following the explosive cliffhanger – DC had two 900 numbers to call (@ .50 a pop). One was for Jason to live, the other for Jason to die. Well, the cover of the TPB can tell you the result. The story telling reasons that Jason Todd was created to replace Dick Grayson quickly became evident again. Soon a new Robin would come to the forefront. This time the Robin replacement would be brought into the fold through positive circumstances and the assistance of Nightwing (the original Robin). A Lonely Place of Dying brings full circle the need for a Robin to center Batman while also resolving a number of the long standing issues between Bruce and Dick. Tim Drake became a much more solid Robin with a stronger foundation. His character became so popular that Tim was spun off in his own mini-series and then solo series many years before Dick Grayson would be featured in a Nightwing solo book.
Marvels – Marvels #1-4 – Collected TPB and Hardcover (out of print) - I am not a big fan of Alex Ross. He has come to think of himself as more important than the works that made him so popular. That being said, Marvels is still just an outright beautiful book. Unlike other ‘superhero’ comics, Marvels takes the most important stories told in the Marvel universe from the common man’s perspective. Not only is this a great story, it also gives you all the basic in’s and out’s of the Marvel universe in a single volume. A definite primer for anyone that is starting out with the cast of characters.
Kingdom Come – Kingdom Come #1-4 – Collected in TPB and Absolute Edition - Kingdom Come is the ultimate “What if…?” story. Taking place in the future year 200X, Superman has turned his back on the world that has become more violent and sadistic. Where the ‘heroes’ are packing guns and making war with each other because there are no villains to fight any longer. Kingdom Come takes the 90′s comic book hero fiasco to the final level. Kingdom Come takes some basic ideas of crime, rehabilitation and freewill and places them in the hands of the super powered. The ongoing disagreements between Bruce and Clark continue here. Bruce believes that mankind should be left to its own devices, while Clark, ever the Boy Scout, decides he is going to make the world a better place, whether they like it or not. Written by comic book great Mark Waid and ‘illustrated’ by Alex Ross (see the above Marvels write-up about my opinions on Ross), the book is filled with Easter Eggs and homages that will stump even the biggest of fanboys. The collected editions include panels left out of the original storyline and the Absolute Edition includes background information and character sketches for some of the background characters such as King Marvel and the Pepper Brigade. If you are given the choice, I would drop the cash on the Absolute Edition. The artwork is stunning and it truly captures the epic feel of the entire story.
God Loves, Man Kills – Marvel Graphic Novel #5 – Reprinted in Hardcover - This was the first X-men story I had ever read. It was actually in the library of a friend of mine at the time. When I read this story, I was a very young and its social undertones were lost on me. I had no point of reference to understand the issues that Claremont was portraying. Later, I would obtain a first printing from Coliseum of Comics as my first ‘back issue’ purchase. When I read it the second time, I had a great epiphany. Claremont tells a morality tale of intolerance and bigotry. How faith-based organizations can be twisted and made into instruments of hate. Though many of the X-men films had story elements that were based off of elements from this story, none of them grasp the subtle items that make this story great as both a “Superhero” story and life lesson. The image of a young boy hanging lifeless from a swing set with a sign labeled ‘MUTIE’ still sits with me to this day.
DC: The New Frontier – DC: The New Frontier #1-6 – Collected in TPB Vols #1,2 and Absolute Edition (Out of Print) - Darwyn Cooke’s story focuses on the three characters that defined the Silver Age of comics: The Flash, Green Lantern and The Martian Manhunter. While Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman all appear, they are very much in the background as supporting characters. One of the story’s qualities is the fine line it follows between being continuity heavy and shirking the bonds of the same history. Cooke brings story elements such as “The Losers“, King Faraday and Dinosaur Island into the tale. All of these are nods to the Silver Age of DC Comics, but explaining each enough that new readers will not be completely lost. This story was popular enough to be adapted into one of the Warner Bros. Premier Direct-to-Video releases in Justice League: The New Frontier. Even though it is a very condensed telling of the story, the film is as faithful as possible for the medium. I have to say that DC: The New Frontier is one of the few Absolute Editions I purchased sight unseen, just based off of the buzz I had heard in regards to the original story. Cooke’s artwork captures the feel of the 50′s while truly popping off the page. The enlarged Absolute Edition is THE way to read this story, if you can get your hands on a copy!
This list in not a comprehensive list of stories that I have given the “Doesn’t Suck” seal of approval. If I covered them all here, then I would have nothing to write about later, though here is a thumbnail list of a few others you should check out: