Month: October 2004

A 168 hour tour

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,

a tale of a wonderful trip.

That started from this tropic port,

aboard this great big ship.

Okay, so it’s not exactly “Gilligan’s Island”, but that’s how the theme song for “Brian’s Island” would begin.

Char and I are heading down to Miami in the morning to board a ship which will take us on a 168 hour tour (seven days for those of you mathematically challenged) of four Caribbean ports. San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, U.S., and finally Nassau, Bahamas.

I’ve never packed so heavily. In addition to formal wear for dinner, I’ve got a couple bathing suits, a few pairs of shorts, t-shirts, polo-shirts, workout wear, semi-casual wear, and just worn out wear!

I’m bringing along two books. The art of stress free productivity, and Angels and Demons. I bought a new sketchbook, and I’ve got the camera all ready to go. The batteries are charging for my MP3 player, and bags are getting packed in a frenzy right now.

Pirates of the Caribbean, watch out. We’re on our way!

Green Lantern; Rebirth

A lot has been made of the return of Hal Jordan to the ranks of Emerald Gladiators. The die hard Hal fans have been complaining that his downfall and eventual turn into Parallax went against everything the character was about. They said it wasn’t true to character, and that the story should never have been told.

I always disagreed. Hal was kind of vanilla, he didn’t have much of a character, and the attempts with “Emerald Dawn” to add character to him never worked. What happened to him during the Emerald Twilight storyline was basically a story of a soldier melting down. How many movies use this as the skeleton of a character? Soldier suffers extreme tragedy, snaps, uses weapons at his disposal to enact revenge. Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon is one example, Anakin Skywalker’s fall from grace is another.

The Hal fans hated Kyle Rayner, but over the last ten years, we’ve witnessed the character go from a rookie who barely knew what he was doing, to being the most powerful being in the DC universe when he became “ION”.

While Hal was known for boxing gloves and baseball bats as his primary ring constructs, Kyle was known for the myriad of different things he would create with his ring. As an artist, the ring became an extension of his character, and along with a surprisingly strong supporting cast, the character was one which fans have actually grown attached to, although they’re not nearly as vocal as the Hal fans.

It should come as no suprise then that Green Lantern Rebirth #1 begins by establishing Kyle Rayner’s presence and then goes about establishing a status quo. Geoff Johns re-introduces Carroll Ferris, Guy Gardner, John Stewart, and Hal Jordan, and yet even after all this, I’m more interested in what is going to happen to Kyle than what will happen to Hal.

I believe in evolution, I think that we’re constantly evolving, and that you can’t go back and re-capture what you once had. I’m not at all interested in the return of Hal Jordan, but I am interested in how Johns can spin his character into something new.

I just hope comics fans will embrace it too.

HeadsDown relaunched

It’s said on the website that Change is coming spring 2004. It’s almost two seasons late, but change has indeed come, and it’s a doozy.

The new HeadsDown site is now up, and Ryan and I have started the process of moving all of our tools into one code base so that when we build them, we only build them once.

Tomorrow I will be moving Comics and More over to the new tool, and they are going to start using the tool to add reviews to their repitoire. Once they’re done, then I’m going to start talking to some of the other contacts I have, so I can show them how HeadsDown Content Managment can make their lives better.

That’s my new motto, make websites better.

The web…only better

I don’t often advocate one piece of software over the other, but I’m going to do just that right now.

If you’re reading this website on Internet Explorer, and you’re wondering how the XXX Toolbar got on your browser, and why the Alexia Toolbar is up there, and hey, what’s with the pop-up that just came up on this site (Damn Chronicology, having pop-up ads, but wait, didn’t he just say he’s now ad-free? Well if the pop-up didn’t come from his website it couldn’t have come from my browser could it?).

It’s time to make a switch.

No, I’m not suggesting you move to a Mac, I’m suggesting you Get Firefox. I’ve been using this browser for over a year now since its .4 release, and I love it. There’s a preview release of it out now, but on November 9th the full 1.0 version will be released.

It’s faster than I.E., it’s more secure than I.E., it’s smaller than I.E., it has a built in pop-up blocker, built in Google search, built in bookmarks managment. The interface is similar to I.E., so it’s not like you have to learn something entirely new, but [Ctrl] [T] will become your new favourite keyboard combo. Tabbed browsing, it doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but it will make your browsing so much better.

Firefox. Just do it.

Another 11

My original Leiber’s 11 (comics everyone should own) was a good start, but I realized there were easily another 11 comics I could do. Truth be told, I could go with another 20! However, since I decided not to impose any rules on myself, I came up with 11 more comics that I would easily reccomend to anyone.

1 – New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract – New Teen Titans is the comic book that got me hooked on comics. It’s also the only comic I’ve ever had a subscription to. Back in the early 80’s I mailed away my money order for six dollars American and every month I got a comic wrapped in a brown paper folder. Some months my comic would be mangled, most it arrived relatively unscathed. In the middle of that mail order run, The Judas Contract arrived. One team member betrays the team. Kid Flash retires. Dick Grayson gives up his Robin identity. A new hero is revealed. The origin of the Titan’s longest running villian The Terminator is revealed…and most importantly, my new favourite hero Nightwing was introduced. It was a tremendous story that some twenty years later still holds up surprisingly well.

2 – X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga – It’s more than twenty years old, and it’s still one of the best superhero stories ever. It set so many precidents, and was such a great sci-fi romp.

3 – Daredevil: Guardian Devil – Kevin Smith is a huge comic geek. This is his first superhero story, and it was pure gold. He made us believe in not only Daredevil again, but also brought new depth to the entire supporting cast. I’ve given this book away as a gift to a friend because I knew it was such a great read. For my money, the only Daredevil story that comes close to it is Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil – Born Again.

4 – Squadron Supreme – It doesn’t age incredibly well. The dialogue’s cheesy, and some of the ideas are almost embarassing, but the idea of beings of incredible power taking over the world because it’s the best way to fix things, is an incredibly “real world” idea. It’s been cited as the inspiration for everything from Watchmen to Kingdom Come, and it’s well worth the read.

5 – Ultimate Spider-Man volume 1 – You’ll believe a boy can swing through a city on web lines! It’s decompressed (the suit doesn’t make an appearance until almost 100 pages in). It’s a re-telling of an established origin, and it features a character I wasn’t a huge fan of (I’ve never been a Spidey guy), but this is an awesome read, and a geat book. Marvel really knows how to do these oversized hardcovers.

6 – Sandman: Season of Mist – Sandman was my favourite comic for a long time, and this was my favourite story. The tale of the lord of dreams being given the keys to hell is a geat tale, and has some awesome art by Kelly Jones. I was so enamoured with this art that the little side-business I ran selling comics was called Dreamweavers Multinational, and featured Sandman standing beckoning customers in, while an angel stood in the background holding the Dreamweavers logo.

7 – Starman: Sins of the Father – Comics have never been as cool as they were when Jack Knight patrolled Opal City. This story is awesome, it’s the coming of age tale of a young man who grows up to be not only a hero, but a great son, and a father in his own right. This part of the story was all about set-up, and it’s amazing that the groundwork for all 60-some-odd issues was laid in these six issues. When I got my second tattoo, I knew it could only be one thing, the Starman logo. I proudly wear it on my right shoulder. It’s cool because comic fans know what it is, and everyone else has no idea. You could teach a class on foreshadowing and planning a story out with the lessons I learned in this first arc of the comic.

8 – Batman: Year One – In my opinion, this is the best Batman story ever told. Batman isn’t the unerring detective he is now, he makes mistakes, and he gets very brutal. Frank Miller makes it to the list again, and is joined once more by his friend David Mazzucchelli.

9 – Superman: The Man of Steel – I recently read Joe Casey and Matt Fraction’s “The Basement Tapes” in which they said that DC heroes are Icons, and the only stories you can really tell with Icons are origin stories. Maybe that’s why this works so well. John Byrne jettisons 60 years of history and starts the Man of Steel from scratch. He adds two important characters, Ma and Pa Kent, to the mythos, and by keeping them alive, makes the chasm between Batman and Superman even wider. Gone is the nerdy geek Clark Kent, and in is the high school football hero, Pullitzer prize winner ace reporter Clark Kent. Even Lex Luthor became more than just a cackling maniac, and was a legitimate businessman who dabbled in some serious grey areas.

10 – Supreme: Story of the Year – Yup, you read that right. It’s a Rob Liefeld property. It was put out by Extreme Ent…errr, Awesome Ente…ummm, Image com…WHO EVEN KNOWS??? This was Alan Moore taking a Superman clone and telling the Superman stories he always wanted to tell. It utilizes amazing flashbacks of a history that never existed to tell a great story. It’s something Marvel Comics would ape five years later with Sentry, and to nowhere near as great a success.

11 – Planetary: All over the world and other stories – I almost didn’t include this one…but I love this collection. This is a group of six stories that are all tied together with a common thread, a group of three people who explore the weirdness of an already weird world. There’s a pulp story, giant monsters story, superhero origin story, Japanese revenge story and much more. The stories are layered and really cool. In my opinion, this is Warren Ellis and John Cassiday’s best work. If you can wait, DC will be releasing an “Absolute Planetary” oversized hardcover edition much like their “Absolute Authority” oversized hardcover…which is an incredible package.

So there they are, my next 11. What do you think? Any glaring omissions? Anything you disagree with? Go ahead and make a comment.

Ad experiment ended

This morning I did something fairly significant, I killed off the Google Ads that were on the home page of this site. Over the next week or so, I’ll be killing them off on the rest of the site too.

According to the logs, in the last two months that I had well over 1700 visitors, in that time, there were nine click throughs, giving me a grand total of $1.01 in revenue.

That’s just a waste of time, and a waste of perfectly good space which I could be using to promote good things like…oh I don’t know, pretty much anything else.

Google has these ridiculous rules about their ads which seem almost Fight Club like. “The first rule of Google Adwords is don’t talk about Google Adwords. The second rule of Google Adwords is, don’t tell people that you have Google Adwords. The third rule about Google Adwords is, don’t tell folks that you aren’t making any money from Google Adwords because they’re not clicking on the links.”

Now by comparison, I can say anything I want to about Amazon.ca’s afilliates program. I can tell you that The DC Comics Encyclopedia, is an incredible book, available for only $35.00 at Amazon.ca, which is a savings of $15.00 from the store, and you should buy it right now (because it has the listings of literally hundreds of characters from Ambush Bug to Maxie Zeus!). When you buy it, I get 2.5% of the revenue. In the six months since I started posting my favourite books/DVD’s, etc, I’ve made around fifty bucks.

I’ll probably build some ads for my own products and get them on my site at some point, because some advertising would be a good thing (even if it was just for HeadsDown/HockeyUpdater stuff) but the great Google Adwords experiment is dead.

Land of the free, home of the brave?

It’s my birthday, so I’m going to go off on a tangent and do something I don’t usually do…wax political.

I’m Canadain, so therefore even though American economic policies affect me nearly as much as they do my friends to the south, I’m not allowed to vote in their election.

If I were though, I’d be hard pressed to re-elect the only president since the depression who has ended his term with a lower employment number than when he started…he did find Tom Ridge a job though. How’s your civil liberties workin’ out for you now?

The reason the founding fathers of the United States allowed the right to bear arms was so that the American people could rise up against tyranny and opression. Now maybe my definition is different than the average bear’s, but where I come from, these are some examples of opression; People being rounded up for suspicion of terrorist activities. Being harrassed and threatened for taking innocent photos of monuments. Their excuse is always “September 11th”, blah blah blah, “September 11th”.

I think it’s ironic that the world is so proud of our World War II veterans who gave their lives so that we could live in freedom…but whenever we talk about September 11th, we talk about how we have to give up certain freedoms so that we can keep our lives.

The sad thing is that the media is focusing on “Flip Flopping”, and “The wrong war”, rather than the staggering changes that the United States has undergone in these last three years. Land of the free, home of the brave? Not anymore.

The good, the bad, and the haven’t seen of 2004

Best films of 2004:

In no particular order, here are the films that have tickled my fancy so far in 2004. Some of them, like Shawn of the Dead are obvious, others like Mean Girls…are there because they were surprising in their goodness.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – A mind trip, and a load of fun.

The Ladykillers – The Cohen brothers can do no wrong, even when nobody “gets it”.

The United States of Leland – Just an all around good movie.

Shreck 2 – I wasn’t expecting this one to be as clever as it was.

Kill Bill Vol. 2 – A better pure movie than the first, but not as fun as the first.

Mean Girls – Probably the funniest movie of the year.

Troy – I’m a sucker for a good Brad Pitt movie…and the swordfighting was awesome.

The Village – I’m the only person on the planet who liked “the twist”.

Garden State – One of the best movies of the year.

Collateral – A rip roaring good time. Enjoyable, violent, and well made.

Shaun of the Dead – Hi-friggin-larious. Funny, and an homage to every movie ever made.

Worst of the year:

The Chronicles of Riddick – Worst…movie…ever. Worse than Glen or Glenda.

Aliens vs Predators – Oh god, stop the pain. It was so horrible

Contenders I haven’t seen:

Stuff I’ve heard great things about, but haven’t had a chance to see.

Aileen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer

Robot Stories

The Passion of The Christ

Dawn of the Dead

Man on Fire

Coffee and Cigarettes

Saved!

Napoleon Dynamite

Danny Deckchair

Hero

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Bubblegum I haven’t seen:

Stuff I know won’t be good, but which just begs to be seen.

The Big Bounce

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen

Eurotrip

Welcome to Mooseport

Broken Lizard’s Club Dread

Hidalgo

The Whole Ten Yards

Ella Enchanted

Van Helsing

Three years ago today

It was three years ago today that Charlene Kish not only said “I will” when asked if she would love me for the rest of my life, but she added my name to the collection of things of mine she had accumulated (which includes my heart).

I may not say it enough here…because I’m not always a sap, but she’s the best person I know, and the one person who inspires me to do more, be a better person, and live life to the fullest.

Since I’ve met her I’ve been to California, Vegas (thrice), and soon to the Carribean. I’ve learned more about my own province than I ever thought possible, and I’ve gained the patience to wait 18 months to move into our house.

Baby, you’re the greatest. Here’s to the best three years of my life, and to many, many more like them.

Who said convergence?

I will admit that I like convergence. I like it when my cell phone can also check movie times. I like it that you can get an instant message on a watch now. I think it’s supremely cool that you can surf TSN.ca on TV…but the convergence that still jazzes me is when TV takes an idea, and then really goes wild with it on the web. TSN did that earlier this week with “The TSN Solution“. It’s been one of the most successfull things we’ve ever done on the web.

How do I know? There are nearly 800 responses, and about 90% of them are positive. I’ve watched the “raw” posts, and they’re all positive as well. It’s generated conversation and debate all over the place, and it has people talking about hockey, when there’s no professional hockey to talk about.

I don’t often toot our horn at TSN.ca, because I don’t think it’s a horn that needs to be tooted, but this is just too cool not to toot.