Friday, April 30, 2010


Apparently, this was just a bad week for me. Sorry.

-Signing off.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Quick Question...

...for those of you that use Blogger.

Is there a good way to completely block spam comments?

I wouldn't ask, but 1) I've no ideas for tonight (and ran out of time due to distractions, I'll be honest), and 2) the spam is starting to bug me.

Comments like "Hi, I like you blog........................" and every one of those periods is a separate link to a questionable site. Actually, most of the ones I see are in Japanese or Korean.

Thus far, I've been deleting them on an individual basis, because there doesn't seem to be a "report stinky evil user" feature (and I've been deleting them permanently because I don't want the hassle of revisiting them months later trying to figure out what they are). Is there a better, more helpful way?

-Signing off.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


...apparently, mowing the lawn fries my brain.

So, nothing to show for today, I'm afraid...

-Signing off.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Space Crazy Comics: Beware the Human Meteorites

Think that title sounds like nonsense? It's got nothin' on the story (from Space Action #3) itself.

Short on time and running late, so it'll be a bit shorter than usual...

Rather than start at the beginning, I'll start by revealing the so-called "human meteorites." They're... Well, in one sense they're exactly what they say they are.

But you and I know they're really just flaming space zombies.

They're secretly being controlled by a fiendish bearded man.

And in the process of defeating them, a man in a double-layered protective spacesuit carrying a zebulon-ray gun hits one of them with a convenient wooden plank. Don't believe it?

Believe it.

Then, we get the most absurd explanation ever for the space zombies-they're planetesimals that... um... wait, what?

At least it's imaginative.

Then, the guy in the suit shoots them with his magic ray gun, and they turn into a planet.

Just as well I don't have time, because doing a more in-depth exploration of this one would probably blow my mind even more.

-Signing off.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Golden Age Moment of the Day (30)

You know, much as I enjoy the crazy aviation-themed antics of Air Fighters Comics, the Airboy story from v. 1, issue 12 takes it... well, let's just say it takes it a mite too far.

Well, maybe not. A "natural" rock formation that looks like a plane and is used as a giant... stone... plane... by a supernatural being who wants to steal aviators' souls? That's actually incredibly brilliant.

-Signing off.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Short Book Review and Link

(Here's the Writing Blog post. I talk some about tone.)

As bad as you might think things are where you live, if you live in the United States, chances are you have things pretty good. Heck, if you're reading this, you've got things very good indeed.

Compared, at least, to people who live in the poorer parts of Africa.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is both a sober reminder of this fact and the autobiographical tale of how one young man managed to bring hope and light to his family and community during hard times, despite being forced to drop out of (the frankly already inadequate) school by financial woes, and using his own intelligence to do so.

Using nothing but his trial-and-error learning in electronics and a few science textbooks granted to a local library, William Kamkwamba was able to use junk, scavenged parts, and a few gifts from his friends to build a windmill, a device never before seen in his home country of Malawi, despite famine and hardship.

And he did this by the time he was twenty. (He's only in his early twenties today.)

So, if you want to learn about the harsh parts of Africa in the present, and an uplifting ending, this is a good book.

-Signing off.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Has Anybody Else Noticed...?

...they don't seem to be doing this anymore on CSI: Miami.

Instead, apparently searching for a more serious tone, they set people on fire at the beginning of the episode.

I'm serious. My sister mentioned that they'd started an episode by burning down a building with somebody in it, and then they cut to YEEEAAAAAAAHHH! without giving a one-liner. Then, in the most recent episode, they pulled somebody (who turned out to be a dead body) out of a burning house, and one of the main characters suffered from smoke inhalation.

Actually, it's a little disappointing; now, we'll never hear Caine say "I guess that guy... was on fire." Yeeeaaaahhh!

-Signing off.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Space Crazy Comics: Picking Up From Last Time...

...which was yesterday.

In case you don't remember where we left off for some reason, here's the crux of it:

Here's where the story really picks up. It took the better part of five pages to get to this point, but the rest takes place in just three.

Well, except for this heroic sacrifice thing.

Dunno why it would make the giant, spaceship-grabbing plant stop if there was a little dude out there, but okay...

Note the following: At the beginning of the story, there was a crew of just six on this ship. Now there are two.

Now, check out how big their ship is. Those little specks are people in a crowd.

Holy moly.

All too soon, the horrible peril is upon the Earth: Space spores land on Earth and recreate the asteroid's ecosystem there.

Note that this story came out about fifteen or sixteen years before Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series and its somewhat similar Thread (according to Wikipedia, anyway).

Things look bad, so they call in their cool space tanks and the army.

It doesn't work, so they go all Agent Orange on them, and completely defoliate the entire planet in order to stop the invasion.

Note the admission that they're completely destroying Earth's ecosystem-"Make sure every foot of that soil is tainted with the substance!"

Fortunately (and impossibly), the ecosystem begins its recovery within days.

I should mention that, in this last sequence, I put up every panel of the story between the last panel from the previous post and this last panel here. It just wouldn't have been adequate otherwise.

Anyhow, skipping ahead a bit, some days later the second wave of space spores are incoming, and they send a fleet to deal with them. It's not as easy as it should be, mostly because they didn't open fire when they saw the darned things like they should have (and like any sane being would have). And as a direct result of this, the spores start melting the ships.

Man, this story has everything.

The fleet responds with their weapons after letting the spores eat at the ships' hulls for a bit. Taxpayer dollars at work, folks!

Yeah, guy, don't forget that there's a frikkin' "planet" full of these things out there.

So they go and shoot at the planet. Sadly, it's covered in a "gelatin-like" substance that stops their assault cold (despite pulling in that first ship neatly).

And the "jets" don't fare any better.

Fortunately, the captain gets an idea.

Take a shot. (Wait, I didn't say anything about a drinking game, did I?)

And so...

"Puffff?" Whaaaat?

Anyhow, so the evil plant planet falls into the Sun. And it burns. (Well, technically, it melts, then vaporizes. In the absence of significant amounts of free oxygen, it wouldn't burn at all. But you probably knew that.)

I'll omit the last panel, because it's just of some poorly drawn shirtless happy guys, and I've had to look at it too often already, okay?

(Because, of course, everybody in a spaceship too close to the Sun takes off their shirts. It's the law.)

Anyway, this story is a lot of fun, because it's just about as crazy as they get. Wait, no, I lied-the story with the flaming space zombies in the next issue is quite a bit crazier. But that's for another day.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Space Crazy Comics: Prisoners of the Incredible Plants

Some of these crazy old things are awesome enough that they deserve more attention than others.

(That, and occasionally they are long and I am sometimes low on time.)

Prisoners of the Incredible Plants, from Space Action #2 (available on Golden Age Comics), is one of my favorite totally insane old stories from these things.

We start with a charming old atomic rocket type spaceship design.

Plus, naturally, physics that defy, well, the laws of physics.

What? "Cut the jets?" Guys, come on.

Oh, never mind.

Amazingly, crashing on that "hard central core" does not reduce the rocket to a piece of molten slag with carbon-based vapors emitting from it. In fact, the worst anybody suffers is a sprained ankle.

How exactly could the second guy tell that everybody was stunned? Please tell me.

Then, as they start exploring, we get our first hint of the titular "incredible plants."

Dang, but those are some burrs I wouldn't want stuck in my glove.

Anyway, that dude's right-these are plants the likes of which have never been seen on Earth.

Yet. (Cue dramatic riff.)

They need some copper to fix their hull (copper? Really? Copper's kind of heavy for that job), and so set out with ore detectors to find some. The plants don't seem too threatening, just kind of weird... far.


They try to save him with their ray guns, but their aim is sloppy, and they turn him into a crater.

Actually, no, I'm just joking, the dialogue indicates that the plant killed him before succumbing to a sustained bombardment from the guns. But doesn't this look like indiscreet raygun usage to you?

Unfortunately, their mining seems to have caused further issues...

It turns out that the entire ground cover (it's not "grass" like they say it is unless it's an actual species of grass, which seems dubious, considering the nature of the other plants around) is part of the same plant superorganism.

Also, Dawson bites it. Bye, Dawson!

They make an observation of dubious value on the plants...

...but it's still a cool and entertaining bit of insanity.

At great personal peril and suffering more losses, the ship is repaired, and takes off.


Oh snap. Giant rocket-grabbing plant attack.

I'll go out on a limb here, and say that things are about to go from bad to worse.

Sadly for you (if you don't go and download the comic for yourself), you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see what happens next.

-Signing off.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Golden Age Moment of the Day (29)

Fact: The armor most commonly associated with knights in popular culture is called plate armor.

Fact: There is also a type of armor called mail or chain mail.

Fact: They are not and can not be the same thing.

(There were mixed suits of armor, but the two are fundamentally different things. Plate armor was much heavier and more effective at protection-there are stories of armored men falling off their horses and getting mobbed by poorly armed peasants, and being attacked for hours at a time, but still escaping unhurt-while mail allowed much greater flexibility. Mixed suits often protected inflexible areas with heavier armor while covering joints with mail for flexibility.


Yes, I am a huge historical weapons nerd, why do you ask?)

That doesn't stop people from calling a "famous" suit of plate armor the "Black Mail" in this Iron Ace story (from Air Fighters v. 2, #8), though.

Oh, yes, and they put a remote control robot inside it, and supposedly this ancient suit of armor "cannot be destroyed because of the way that it is constructed!"

(SPOILER: This was, shall we say, an exaggeration.)

Gotta love those Golden Age comic book writers.

-Signing off.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pixels and Stuff

Today's post at the Writing Blog is a short worldbuilding tip. On the one hand, I'm a bit frustrated that it's such a short post; on the other hand, at least it's something.

This video is awesome, and that's all you need to know.

-Signing off.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Greatly Belated Book Reviews: Secret Science Alliance

Every now and again, I end up feeling the need to review something different, such as Secret Science Alliance.

This particular book, or rather graphic novel, is a children's book, and obviously so. (Google it for yourself if you're interested-there's not really a convenient information site that I can find on short order.) I likely wouldn't have seen it, except that my little brother saw it at the library and had to read it.

After glimpsing a few pages of it, I knew I had to read it for myself.

It's definitely written for children. It's over-the-top goofy, simple, and completely straightforward. It's also uncondescending and genuine, in a way that reminds me somewhat of Calvin & Hobbes (though don't look for mildly subversive hidden commentary).

The book is about the adventures of three young students (reputedly Junior High level, though the stubby proportions of two of the three make that mildly dubious) who love science and inventing. Thus, they formed a secret club, partly on the insistence of one of their members who believes that adults will steal their inventions and take credit for them. (This character gives off strong Calvin vibes. These days, that makes me cringe a bit, because with an eight-year-old brother I have a lot of sympathy for parents and teachers, but I'll excuse it here.)

What makes it engaging is the mastery of the comic form that the author displays. It's no wonder that Scott McCloud calls her one of the most innovative voices in the field. Each page displays a craftsmanship that suggests great care, without detracting from the fun of the book.

The most common use of the medium that comes to mind is the use of speech bubbles. Frequently, characters would have conversations of middling to low relevance and secondary importance to another conversation or some image in the scene such as a character's expressions. Rather than simply exclude the speech bubbles entirely, they tend to get covered by other speech bubbles or, more commonly, panel borders.

If I was a college professor teaching a class on the comic medium, this would be a required reading selection in my class.

What more can I really say about it? It's a great little graphic novel that's fun if you like children's adventures along the lines of a non-imaginary Calvin & Hobbes. I must recommend it.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Root of All Evil... Yardwork

I'm a bit tired today (and short on time), but fortunately, I have a story to show for it.

I've been digging up small trees for the past few days because they've been growing too close to the house. As I've progressed, I've discovered that the most problematic variety are the little walnut trees.


Because walnuts apparently have the most aggressive and overdeveloped root systems in all of nature. There were five or six rather small walnuts which, over the past few years, have developed interlinked root systems of borderline epic proportions.

It's like a Baby Walnut Mafia or something. These things had root systems bigger and tougher than they were (partly because they've managed to repeatedly come back from being cut down [!]). I dug up one central root mass of a sapling that was slightly bigger than my clenched fist (and I'm 6'3" barefoot, so I've got big hands).

In fact, that last one? It was attached to a root system (including a taproot that's still down there, waiting...) that was so involved, complex, and strong that when I put all my weight against the shovel to dig it up... the shovel broke. Granted, it was an old shovel...

Not to mention, the little so-and-sos are mixed in with all kinds of nasty weeds, primarily some dead burr-plants, which despite being dead still stuck burrs to me, and one particular one, when I grabbed it, stuck a quarter inch of splinter right through my glove and nestled it under my skin. (That was a few hours ago. Believe it or not, it stopped hurting in less than two hours, most of which I worked through. Don't worry-it was out of my hand in fifteen minutes.)

Anyway, I've been gaining a new appreciation for creepy, creepy plants out there.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Space Crazy Comics: Who Cares About This Story?

Not me.

This issue of Space Action (#1) had a story I rather enjoyed (Prisoners On Solar) and a story that was hilariously easy to make fun of (Double Menace on Jupiter's Moon). But there was also a story, "Invaders from a Lost Galaxy," which was such depressingly mundane lowbrow space opera that I can't bear to try to summarize it.

When I say "mundane," not a single planet exploded, or was even in danger of it. There also weren't any sword fights. LAME.

The one redeeming feature of the story is that it had some pretty nifty designs in it.

Check out this gun turret, for instance:

Or these typical but pretty rockets:

Or my favorite, this vaguely Enterprise-like flagship used by the villain.

Sadly, all these images are from just one page.

-Signing off.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Golden Age Moment of the Day (28)

How do you determine whether some suspicious-looking individuals are actually Nazi agents? (The particular agents in this case [Air Fighters Vol. 2 #4's Airboy story] were disguised as Native Americans. No, I mean it.)

Give 'em the ol' Nazi salute, and they'll give it back.

Because they're stupid Nazis, that's why.

-Signing off.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Link And Some Small Musings

(Here's my post over at the Writing Blog.)

I've spent some time over the last few years observing and learning about the game Magic: The Gathering, mainly because I like understanding the minutiae of how its game mechanics work.

Something about its flavor, though, has always bugged me somewhat.

The players play lands, summon creatures, and play spells. Supposedly, they're magic-users called planewalkers or planeswalkers. While this isn't so problematic, the fact that players can summon "legendary" cards that represent historical figures starts to make it kind of weird.

Then there's the fact that it takes all the magical power of an entire "land"-a mountain, a plain, an island, a forest, or a swamp-to create a single creature or spell.

And these all-powerful planewalkers, who can draw power out of entire lands at a whim, are threatened-can even be harmed-by some itty-bitty little critter like a goblin or a bug?

If one imagines that these are ceremonial battles, it becomes slightly less strange... except that they're still essentially huge-scale wars.

Then there's the fact that the largest creatures in the game are only a small order of magnitude more powerful (in terms of stats) than the smallest-a Phyrexian Colossus, a war machine somewhat larger than a typical school building, is only "eight times bigger" than some lowly bug (it should be numerous orders of magnitude larger).

When you get down to it, though, the fact that the players rely on external sources for the energy necessary to use magic combined with taking alternate turns really takes the flavor out of it.

There are other ways to do it. I've seen one (the game Duel Masters, while clearly inspired by M:TG, has a distinct gameplay edge over the older game-never mind that it's from a rather kiddy anime series), and I have an idea for another that would be even more "flavor-correct" than that. (I'm not sharing here-I'm going to share once I've perfected the idea and have a chance to market it. It sounds fun in my head, if for no other reason than because it's just so different from most of what I've heard of on the market.)

In the meantime, well, I still enjoy Magic: The Gathering; I just think its flavor is off.

-Signing off.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Have a video embed. Hopefully, there'll be content tomorrow (in addition to the regular post at my other blog).

This is the hilariously awesome Japanese intro to the oddly named Transformers: Animated series.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Space Crazy Comics: The Greater Jovians

From Outer Space #20 comes "The Greater Jovians."

The story opens on Jupiter, where there's a severe food shortage. Both the Lesser Jovians, small, dome-headed guys, and the Greater Jovians, giant bearded guys, are suffering severely.

The Greater Jovian ruler asks if the Lesser has a plan. His people, after all, are more inventive than the Greater Jovians. (If that's so, why is the story named after the Greater Jovians? Weird.)

The Lesser Jovian leader admits that he does indeed have a plan: His people invented a rocket engine of some kind. How convenient.

Why were they investing all these resources in this instead of food production? Who knows?

The Greater Jovian promises all the help and resources he can provide...

...though in the most terrifying way possible.

The rocket is to be crewed by the giant king and five other giants for some reason. Their destination? Earth.

Oh, snap.

And they don't plan on taking no for an answer.

Fortunately, there's a twist that we've seen before.

And so, after the fashion of ants, the nearly microscopic Greater Jovians drag away some bread crumbs.

Holy cheese, either there aren't that many Jovians, or they don't need much food.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Move Aside, Lancelot...

...and excuse me while I gripe about Arthurian legend.

Specifically, while I gripe about what Wikipedia claims is the only "fairy tale" which is set in the midst of Arthurian legend-the tale of Lanval. More specifically, it was written by somebody I've never heard of called Marie de France. This is sad, because it's a story that offends me on the level of feeling sympathy for excessive cruelty and lack of sympathy for a female character.

Lanval is the story of some knight, who was everybody's favorite knight, because he was just so darned nice! (If you are wounded by the sheer level of my sarcasm, I apologize. It's just that Lanval has nearly surpassed Lancelot as my absolute least favorite Arthurian knight of all time.) He gave everything he had to the poor, and spent all his time doing knight things. Thus, he had little money left over, and relied entirely on the charity of the king.

But that rhymes-with-witch, Guinevere, hated him because he'd refused her advances on him. (Sorry again about the sarcasm.) So she told Arthur all kinds of fibs to make Arthur hate him and not give him money. He got poor, and had to sell his armor and his horse and stuff, and leave. Poor Lanval! (Stupid unintentional pun.)

But then Lanval met a beautiful fairy queen, and she gave him magic armor and a giant horse and a bottomless moneybag, and also love. (I am not making this up. That's exactly what she gave him.) Yay, Lanval! Now, he could give stuff to the poor again. But she warns him not to tell anybody about her and their relationship, or she'll never speak to him again.

Then, after Lanval gives tons of money to the poor and returns to Arthur's court, Guinevere accuses him of "not liking women," i.e. liking men instead. (The exact phraseology of her accusation depends on the text, as many versions were bowdlerized.) He responds that his girlfriend is much prettier than she is. Oops, mentioned the fairy queen! Poor, stupid Lanval!

Lanval runs around like a ninny, his gifts gone, looking for her, but he can't find her. Poor Lanval. Meanwhile, that mean old Guinevere tells Arthur that Lanval slandered her by claiming his girlfriend was better-looking than her, and Arthur sends his knights to catch him. They round him up and put him on trial.

Fortunately for Lanval, the fairy queen shows up just long enough to prove that yes, she is indeed prettier than mean ol' Guinevere. But then she leaves really fast. He chases her, catches up to her, and nobody in the mortal world ever sees him again, because she took him to the fairy world.

What a stupid, stupid story.

The Arthurian tales are subject to a lot of interpretation, but the one thing that always bothers me (other than Lancelot) is treating Guinevere like some kind of shrieking harpy.

-Signing off.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Golden Age Moment of the Day (27)

Fact: Apparently, the government isn't interested in reasonably compact, low-cost, easy to power gadgets...

...that would utterly revolutionize espionage. (FYI, "photo-electric eyes which can penetrate nearly anything," in this case, just means X-ray vision.)

-Signing off.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Super Robots and Cthulhu

Over at my Writing Blog, I discuss how to put Cthulhu in a game under the player's control.

Here, I'll do something I haven't done in some time-embed some Super Robot Wars videos.

Here's one I posted ages ago with my favorite super robot style absurd attack ever in it (and also an absurd attack launched by Boss Borot).

Over the top? Sure. Hilariously over the top? Definitely.

In case you saw the first one before, here's one I didn't post ages ago.

Obviously, that wasn't a weak attack; after all, in the other video it killed the final boss's final form in one hit, but apparently its power isn't consistent, hm?

-Signing off.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

500 Posts

500 posts? That can't be!

Is Blogger playing an April Fool's Day prank on me, or what?

(It isn't.)

-Signing off.