Thursday, February 28, 2013

Rant Ramblings: Week of 3-1-11

Between finishing my first book, promoting it, working on my follow-up novel, and general life stuff, I've fallen quite a bit behind on my comic reading over the past few months. Sure, there are a handful of comics I always read each month, but by and large, they've been piling up on my tablet. I resolved last week to catch up, and I've done just that! By the time this week's comics went on sale yesterday, I had tackled the 100+ comics that were on my tablet and whittled them down to 8 issues of Groo. (I always keep a few issues of Groo on there, don'tcha know!) I still have a good bit of work to do on my next book, so its likely that I'll fall behind again, but I'll try not to let things get quite so backed up this time. (And speaking of my next book, there should be a big announcement about it soon. Just be patient!)

There is a huge sale on all sorts of games on Xbox Live until Monday, so go check that out if you have one. There've been some good deals, but nothing so far I want but don't already have.

There were pretty huge happenings in yesterday's issue of the always sublime Batman Incorporated, which were very obnoxiously spoiled by an official press release a day earlier. This kinda crap has become increasingly common in recent years. We all understand that this leads to a significant sales bump, but would it kill them to wait until the day the issue is released so that the people who read these books regularly have a chance to read the issue without having it spoiled? Reader rage aside, here's an essay by Grant Morrison that reflects on his seven year run on the Batman books, and here is an interview with Batman and Robin writer Peter Tomasi regarding how the events of yesterday's Batman Inc will affect his book. Be warned that clicking the links above, obviously, will tip you off about what happened.

My nephew recommended the HBO series Life's Too Short to me over the weekend, so I checked it out. It's presented as a reality show about actor Warwick Davis, but he plays himself as an egotistical bastard. Fellow show creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant pop up in each episode, as well. There are plenty of celebrity cameos, and the show is thoroughly hilarious. Here's one of my favorite bits:

Reddit threads of note: I don't give two shits about Nascar, but find it cool that Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson did an AMA earlier this week. We also got one from Helen Clark, the former prime minister of New Zealand. This one from a college student who teaches GED courses to prison inmates is pretty interesting. Here's one from someone who works in a chocolate factory!

You can't top getting the inside dope on chocolate, so that'll do it for this week!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rant Ramblings: Week of 2-22-13

Pretty sweet pic, right? Here's an entire album, all combining art from Calvin & Hobbes with photos to create something sublime. (Although the lack of reflections in the one with the wagon about to crash into the lake kinda screws that one up.) Here's another of my favorites:
You gotta love the hard-boiled adventures of Tracer Bullet, am I right?

Batwoman's epic teamup with Wonder Woman concluded with this week's issue of the always-amazing Batwoman. It was predictably awesome, but the bigger news coming out of it occurs at the end, and really should be experienced by reading the issue yourself, so go get it! I won't spoil it the way CBR did for me by pasting onto their front page Wednesday without bothering to add a spoiler warning. (Yeah, I'm just a little irritated about that. They typically post spoiler warnings for everything, mostly stuff I don't care about, but when it's something pertaining to one of my very favorite books, they just post it without a shred of concern for people who haven't read the issue yet. Probably just an oversight, but that does little to de-annoyify me. Yes, "de-annoyify" is a word now.)

I had completely forgotten about the Oscar-nominated Simpsons short that was shown before the latest Ice Age animated crap-o-rama last year. The Longest Daycare features Maggie facing off with her nemesis, unibrowed tot Gerald, in a daycare that seems like an even worse environment for a child than the Simpson home. (Longtime Simpsons fans will recognize the Ayn Rand School for Tots from the classic A Streetcar Named Marge.) The short was aired after Sunday's episode, and is well worth tracking down and viewing. It's only about four minutes long, but the wordless short is both amusing and moving. Check out the trailer:

Following last week's announcement that Geoff Johns and the rest of the creative teams were leaving the Green Lantern books, we didn't have to wait long to find out who will be replacing them. We'll have Robert Venditti and Billy Tan on the main GL book, Joshua Hale Fialkov writing both Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns, Bernard Chang taking over as artist for GLC & Alessandro Vitti as the new RL artist, and Justin Jordan and Brad Walker taking over Green Lantern: New Guardians. Additionally, there will be a new series starring fan-favorite Orange Lantern Larfleeze by Keith Giffen and Scott Kolins.
I'm split about these changes. I usually like Robert Venditti's work, but I'm not crazy about Tan's art; it's quite a step down after having Doug Mahnke on the book for the past few years. Fialkov is another writer whose work I normally like, so no problems there. I like Chang's artwork, but this announcement means that he will be (presumably) leaving Demon Knights, so that kinda sucks. I'm unfamiliar with Vitti's work. New Guardians stars Kyle Rayner, my favorite GL, so I have some reservations about the new team on that one. Brad Walker's art is solid, if unspectacular, but the real concern I have is with the new writer, Justin Jordan. Granted, the only work of his I've read is the recently-cancelled Team 7, but it was bad enough that I dropped it after a couple of issues. Hopefully he'll do better work on this book; only time will tell.

With all the Halo posts lately, I've had a few people ask me what I think about season one of Spartan Ops, the bonus missions that are available to anyone with a copy of Halo 4 and an Xbox Live Gold account. The answer is: I dunno, because I haven't played any of it yet. I just finished the campaign a couple of days ago, and that was an undertaking that was far more trouble than it should have been. I was at the last part of the final level, about to face the Didact, when the goddamn power went out. It only went out for a few seconds, as it does at some point once every couple of weeks, but that was long enough to shut everything down and make me lose my progress. (Keep in mind, this is after I played the last level off and on for several days because it was kinda kicking my ass, so getting to the end was not easy.) At that point, I just said "Fuck it!" and watched the ending on Youtube. Turns out all I had left to do was mash a couple of buttons, so I still feel I completed the campaign since I got right up to that point before the electric company screwed me. I'll resume the level from my last saved checkpoint and finish that last bit at some point, once that irritation is not so fresh. In the meantime, I'm having fun playing Flood and Griffball, and I'll be starting Spartan Ops soon.

Speaking of Halo, Bungie, the franchise's former developer, finally made with some details about their upcoming "shared world" shooter, Destiny. We didn't get to see much aside from some concept art and less than a minute of gameplay, but Bungie did share a lot of information regarding what Destiny is all about, and what to expect when it releases. Frankly, it sounds amazing; hopefully they can pull off everything they say. You can check out everything they've shared so far here.

Sony revealed the Playstation 4 Wednesday, and I watched most of the live stream of the event. The console has a lot of promise, but Sony withheld many of the details, as expected, and often seemed hell-bent on drowning us in buzzwords. Most of the trailers and such were pre-rendered scenes, rather than actual gameplay. Bungie was brought out to close the event, to give the uninitiated an idea of how huge a deal that game is. The social aspects of the console were the most interesting to me. Hopefully we won't have to wait long for Microsoft to reveal the new Xbox.

That's it for this week!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Rant Ramblings: Week of 2-15-13

Obviously, the big news this week is Sunday's tornado damage and the subsequent flooding. My girlfriend and I were at a restaurant Sunday afternoon when things began to get bad; we could see the sky to the west through the large windows, and it was literally black. Here's a photo she took on her phone.
The sky was much darker than it appears in the photo. Minutes later, we saw the tornado itself, and we headed into the kitchen. After a few minutes, it was clear the the tornado had gone in another direction, as it had been close enough that we would have known by that time if it had continued toward us. After things calmed down somewhat, we managed to find a path back home that wasn't blocked by fallen trees. Even thought the tornado had veered off in another direction, trees and debris from buildings were everywhere. After a few hours without electricity, the power returned; it went out for a while a few more times, but things were basically back to normal for us after that.
Not everyone in the area was so lucky. Last I saw, the official tally for Petal and Hattiesburg stands at 1439 homes damaged, and 298 of those were completely destroyed. More than 200 people lost their homes, though fortunately, no one was killed. There is much to do in the area in the aftermath; thankfully, the community has pulled together nicely to help those who were affected, and to rebuild.

Moving from that somber news to frivolous matters, DC Comics revealed that Geoff Johns is leaving Green Lantern. Johns took over the series in 2004 with Green Lantern: Rebirth, which restored dead boring douchebag Hal Jordan as the "main" GL and restored the Green Lantern Corps. The GL line quickly expanded into a franchise, supporting several series as the scope of the books broadened with the introduction of hundreds of new characters and the aggressive fleshing out of the mythos. I feel that Johns's GL lost much of its momentum and quality after Blackest Night, but it's still been a remarkably consistent and solid series over the course of the past decade. The rest of the creative teams on the GL books are leaving as well, though it remains to be seen if all-new teams are taking over the books, or if there will just be some shuffling around. Personally, I'll be surprised if Peter Tomasi doesn't take over the main GL book, but we'll have to wait and see. Whoever takes control of the franchise's steering wheel has some big shoes to fill.

DC's May solicits reveal the collections of the controversial Before Watchmen comics, which are due out in June and July. There has been much speculation about exactly how DC would go about collecting the various series, and they have settled on grouping series together (mostly) by writer. For my part, the only ones I plan to get are the Minutemen/Silk Spectre and Rorschach/Comedian collections. The other series were mostly just decent, and the Straczynski collection should be avoided at all costs, despite the excellent art.

The Death of the Family storyline concluded in Batman #17 this week, and Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo absolutely killed on this issue. Their run just keeps getting better and better, and I can definitely see it  becoming one of those legendary runs that will be remembered fondly and highly recommended to new readers in years and decades to come.

Here's a photo album of a border collie who likes to balance various objects on her head.

I was able to get Halo 4 last week, thanks to a timely sale. I haven't quite finished the campaign, as I am about halfway through the final level and it's demolishing my ass, but I'm enjoying the game quite a bit so far. The campaign has been excellent overall, and even with a few irritations in the level design here and there, I don't hesitate to say it's the best campaign of any Halo game to date. (The main Halo games anyway; I have yet to play Reach.) I've seen some griping about the game not giving you enough information on the antagonist or certain events that occur, but honestly, if you find all the terminals and simply pay attention to the in-game dialogue and cutscenes, I don't see how you could be confused. I can understand some people being unhappy that you have to find the terminals and watch those videos to get the antagonist's background, but it's still part of the game, so it's not as if you're forced to go elsewhere for the information.
On every technical level, the game is absolutely superb. The graphics are probably the best of any game released to date for any game console; I really can't believe 343i managed to get a game on the Xbox 360's 7+ year-old hardware to look so damn great. Aside from the campaign, I've dabbled with the multiplayer, but haven't managed to stop playing Flood mode yet. It's loads of fun.

Reddit threads of note: Dave Grohl did an AMA, as did Bill Gates. Yes, that Bill Gates. Some pretty interesting reading in there.

Here is a gif of a cat born without the use of her hind legs. She gets by just fine.

Today is Valentine's Day, so be sure to have fun with your significant other, if applicable. (If not, be sure to get yourself some candy or something.) Here's the card my lady got today:
Jonah Hex'll give ya the screamin' thigh sweats.

I can think of no better way to wrap things up than with this gif of President Obama's exploding fist bump with Senator Mark Kirk at the State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Rant Ramblings: Week of 2-8-13

Finished the fight: Yes, I finally played the Halo 3 campaign. I really enjoyed it, though I agree with the people who felt that Arbiter's story deserved more attention. We spent half of Halo 2 playing as the Arbiter, and his journey was a very interesting one, but then it is shoved aside in Halo 3. The penultimate level was not much fun, either. Have I mentioned today how much I hate the fucking Flood? This level was a massive Flood clusterfuck, and I was glad when it was over. It wasn't poorly designed or anything, the Flood has just  gotten that damn annoying. The good far outweighs the bad, though. It was lots of fun overall, and I'm sure I'll revisit it at some point. The legendary ending perfectly sets up Halo 4, from what I've seen of that game's opening. (And no, I did not beat the campaign on legendary; I watched it on Youtube. I'm no masochist.)
I got ODST as an early Valentine's Day gift. I'm a few levels into the campaign, and while it's interesting, I'm not having nearly as much fun. I think this will be one that I'll play a level or two at a time here and there, rathering than going through it in a day or two.
Halo 4 is on the way, thanks to a timely Amazon sale. It should be here Friday, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Via Reddit, here is a love letter found in an 8th grade classroom that demonstrates the importance of prioritizing your loves.

Marvel movie rumors: The latest batch circling the net concerns Marvel's Phase 2 movies. If these rumors are true, the Marvel movie universe's version of the Illuminati (a small group whose comics version consists of Tony Stark, Charles Xavier, Namor, and other assorted self-righteous dickbags) will trick the Hulk into entering a rocket ship, which will then travel outside of our solar system. Their plan to get him out of their hair will backfire as it did in the comics, with a Planet Hulk movie ensuing. This would lead to the Hulk returning for vengeance in the third Avengers movie. Sounds good to me, so I'm hoping these rumors are at least partially true.

Reddit threads of note: Here's one about hardcore gamers joining the military, and how they deal with their expectations being dashed on the rocks of the drastically different reality. This thread about being caught masturbating has some screamingly funny stories. There are come cringe=inducing tales in this thread about the stupidest ways redditors have injured themselves. As always, check out r/todayilearned every day or so for all kinds of fascinating bits of knowledge. It's one of my favorite spots on the internet.

Dragon Age Origins: I picked this game up for $6 not too long ago. It was one of those that looked interesting, but I eventually forgot about it for a while. I started playing it a few days ago, and I'm enjoying it so far. (I did get slightly annoyed at the coincidence when one of the first people who joined my party had the exact same name I gave my character.  Grr!) I really like the origin system the game uses, where you choose an origin for your character and play through it at the beginning of the game. This system has me already wanting to start a new character to see how things will be different. One of my few gripes with my beloved Elder Scrolls games is how every game always begins the exact same way, no matter what kind of character you've created. (Believe me, by the time you're making your fifth Skyrim character, you get pretty damn sick of running around Helgen while it gets blasted into oblivion.)
Anyway, it's early yet, but at this point it looks like the game is a winner.

Looks like that's it for this week! Everyone enjoy your weekend... or else!