We’re moving!

The powers that (should not) be have declared that the Experience is ready to move on to the next phase of our grand master plan. A dedicated domain name! Woo! Can you feel the excitement! It’s electric! Okay, it’s like sticking your tongue on a 9-volt battery, but that counts.

Come on down to the new Experience, http://HellsquidsIntl.com. Same squid time, different squid channel.

Be seeing you.
Brian.

Published in: on March 27, 2010 at 11:06 am  Leave a Comment  

The Alphabet of Awesome!!! (yes, three exclamation points’ worth of awesome)

Neill Cameron is my new favorite comics artist this week.  He created an “Alphabet of Awesome” that couldn’t live up to its name more if it came with free pizza and beer.

Some highlights:

Thanks to Unreality Magazine for the tip.

Be seeing you.
Brian.

Published in: on March 26, 2010 at 12:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Redesign…denied! (Also Scott Pilgrim, and a tentacle where one should not be)

Hey, folks.  This isn’t quite the post I had in mind.  In fact, I wasn’t going to post at all, as I’ve been working all night on a swank new header for this very blog.  Unfortunately, it costs extra to be able to change things in the theme, and, frankly, I don’t really want to pay.  So, it’s back to the old-timey theme that I do like.  So this wasn’t all for naught, I present to you the Banner of Doom!

So what do you think?

In case that’s not enough for you greedy little infowhores, here is the trailer to ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’, the movie you’ve been waiting for all your lives:

And because I do not love you, there is this:

You cannot unsee this!

Be seeing you.
Brian.

Published in: on March 26, 2010 at 12:14 am  Comments (3)  

Metamorphosis 2.0 – a 200 word story

Wide awake, Gregor lay paralyzed in bed. Moonlight fell across his body. He watched the skin on his chest wriggle unnaturally, bubbling up, finally splitting into an inch-long gash. Blood flowed across raw flesh. Pain filled him utterly. As the cockroach pushed its way out of the hole and crawled across his chest, the screams echoed loudly only in his mind.

\\ Test unit 5yk77 has moved off mission.  Report.
// 5yk77 has left post, is not found.
\\ Continue without unit.
// Understood.

Gregor woke that morning changed. There was no wound, no evidence of anything but nightmare. Yet he could not shake the feeling that he was not alone in his skin. He went about his days feeling things moving inside him. His muscles would move of their own volition. His bones itched. His blood slowed. He felt madness growing inside him pushing his passengers to the surface.

// Mission compromised.   
// 5yk77 has caused presence fugue in subject.
\\ Abort.
// Understood.

Gregor stumbled and fell into an alley. Limbs shaking uncontrollably, his heart skipped, then slowed. His jaw locked open. As his life faded, roaches poured out of his mouth, scattering into the darkness.

Abandoning the ship.

Published in: on March 24, 2010 at 11:51 pm  Comments (2)  

Space, the Final Frontier…of rock!

In the late 60s, psychedelic music had emerged from the acid-soaked consciousness of the hippie music scene. Kids everywhere were tuning in and dropping out to the sounds of bands as diverse as Jefferson Airplane and Pink Floyd. But for some people, it just wasn’t…noodly enough. Oh sure, the music wandered around like it was going through munchies in a candy store, and ably delivered its message of peace, oneness, and badgers that vomited love on the wicked heart of the war machine, but then it just stopped. Wouldn’t it be better, these hippie malcontents mumbled incoherently, if the music kinda wandered around sounding like outer space? And so, the bastard child of Grace Slick and Michael Moorcock was born: space rock.

All kidding aside, there were some amazing bands out there doing some pretty intense work, which even today would stand up as solid musical output. Of course, this blog being what it is, I’m going to completely skip over that and move on to the guys in the rubber space man suits.

But first, for all you Motörhead fans out there, here is space rock pioneering band Hawkwind:

You can totally see the progression to ‘Ace of Spaces’, can’t you?

Lothar & the Hand People are one of the earliest of the bands that can be considered space rock. Their song ‘Machines’ is a weird little piece, like a man made of spoons and pans falling down an endless staircase while the singer, for one, welcomes his new mechanical overlords:

Ganymed was an Austrian band who apparently shopped at the Doctor Who costume rejects bin for their stage outfits. Here’s a fun little ditty called ‘The Music Drives Me Crazy’:

So, have you ever thought, as I often have, “I like KISS, but sometimes I wish they were ALL Space Ace Frehley, except French, and playing synth rock”? Well brothers and sisters, have I got the answer for you. The next band in this cavalcade of madness is a band called Rocket. Here is their defining opus (insofar as it’s the first video of theirs that I found on YouTube), ‘Galactica’. Enjoy, if you must dare:

Towards the later end of the 70s and into the 80s, much like the nuclear blast-damaged humans devolved into horrific cannibalistic mutants in “The Hills Have Eyes”, the music stopped being quite so much ‘space rock’ as it was ‘space disco’.  The mechanical synthesized and sequenced beats were perfect for the dance music of the damned, and far too many bands threw themselves into it whole-heartedly.  You can tell who they are, I imagine, because you’re hearing their music for the first time right now.  One exception to this is the renowned British singer Sarah Brightman, whose long career in music somehow managed to survive “I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper”.

There are so many, many more I could show you.  But I’d really like you to come back and read more things later.  So I’ll just keep those links for another time.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip into the bizarre world of space rock and disco.  If you didn’t…well…what the hell are you doing still reading?  Masochistic weirdo.

Be seeing you.
Brian.

Published in: on March 23, 2010 at 10:29 pm  Comments (1)  

Fear and Loathing on Sesame Street

Hello, folks.  It’s time for another ‘just behind the curve’ internet artwork extravaganza.  This little slice of awesome has been working the photo blogs for a couple of weeks, waiting for yours truly to stumble upon it like the guy who got into Nirvana by watching their videos on MTV.  Nonetheless, I bring it to you proudly, and wallpaper sized (upon making with the clickety).  For bonus goodness, see this quasi-related story on The Fed.

Bert and Ernie as characters from 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas'

C is for crazy, that's good enough for me!

Be seeing you.
Brian.

Published in: on March 22, 2010 at 12:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

A most peculiar comic book experience!

The one time I’ve managed to make it out to the San Diego ComiCon was in 1999. I’d gone out with a friend, shared a hotel room, and mostly ate the overpriced crap inside the convention center, so as not to miss any panels. There wasn’t any particular writer or artist I was there to see. I was far too busy experiencing a near constant state of geekgasm to want to focus on anyone in particular. Probably best for all involved.

There were three people I did see, though, who have stuck with me all these years, and whose work I devour with a near childlike glee:

  • Stan Sakai, whose Usagi Yojimbo is a surprisingly deep blend of funny animals with Japanese history, myth, and legend.
  • Bob Burden, creator of Flaming Carrot and the Mystery Men (a far stranger group of heroes than even the movie based on them shows).
  • Larry Marder, creator of one of the best comics of all time, ‘Tales of the Beanworld’.

I’ll almost certainly talk about Usagi Yojimbo and Flaming Carrot on other occasions, but today, it’s all about the beans.

‘Tales of the BeanA map of the Beanworld.world’ is a title that defies description, and defies categorization.  On the surface, it’s a story about anthropomorphized beans living on a small island and having fun adventures often involving the procurement of food.  But the more you read Beanworld, the more you see.  Marder has blended elements of cartooning, mythology, and spirituality, mixed with bits of his own life.  Beanworld, as he says, is ‘not a product, it’s a process.”  Take, for instance, the self-contained ecosystem of the Beanworld itself:

The central figure in the Beanworld is Gran’Ma’Pa, the great tree that provides the initial part of the food chain, the ‘sproutbutt’ a sort of sentient seed.  The beans take this down through the ‘Four Realities’, a sea of shapes that provide them with materials for building things, and into the Hoi-Polloi territory.  The Hoi-Polloi have the ‘chow’ that the beans need to eat.  The beans take the chow, but leave the sproutbutt, which the Hoi-Polloi surround and then nurture.  The sproutbutt eventually absorbs enough emotion from the Hoi-Polloi that it bursts, becoming chow.

It sounds a bit silly on the surface, but again, if you look at the details, how every little piece fits together, and nothing is wasted, you see the hidden depths that Marder has put into this work.  Not only into the ecosystem, though.  Marder has put pieces of his own life into the book.  When his marriage was failing, he met another woman.  In ‘Beanworld’, one of the beans was zapped to a secret mountain where he met ‘Dreamishness’, a living female sun.  They loved each other, but he was told that he could not talk about her to anyone.  It really isn’t necessary to know that Marder was writing about his own secret love affair, but when you do know, and go back to re-read those pages, it gives the text an added poignancy.

beanworld

The multi-layered aspects of Beanworld were what initially drew me to the book.  I’ve always been a fan of the old silent cartoons, and the beans’ simple appearance has always reminded me of them.  Then when I read the book, I was amazed at all the detail that Marder puts into each page with these simple characters.  Even in the map, you can see that every inch is covered with something to look at.  And the stories he’s managed to tell with such simple tools have been deceptively elegant.

I’m not sure if I’ve managed to say anything new about Beanworld, or if I’ve simply said the same thing over and over again using different words:  It’s amazing, beyond your ability to truly understand until you’ve read it.  Once you do, you may not read the same Beanworld as I do.  Everyone brings something of themselves to the book, and in turn gets something new out of it.  I can’t say for sure what you would get from Beanworld, only that it would be wonderful.

Be seeing you.
Brian.

PS. I told Larry Marder at that ComiCon that I was planning on getting a Beanworld-themed tattoo for my 30th birthday, which I eventually did. If anyone cares, I’ll post some pictures.

Published in: on March 21, 2010 at 12:26 am  Leave a Comment  

A temporary bout of seriousness

Hello, folks. You know, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve posted a lot of silliness, and talked stupid about a variety of topics. Today will be no different, right after this post. I have a bit to say about the health care debate. Feel free to skip to the funny, but I’d appreciate if you read on.

Here in Arizona, the budget crisis has caused the state legislature to slash deeply into a host of services provided by the state. Among those are KidsCare and AHCCCS, which provide health care for low income children and children/adults, respectively. Rather than even consider mentioning the option of raising taxes, thousands of children and even more adults whose only crime is not being able to afford health insurance will be denied basic health care. But, you know, those kids could just get jobs, right? Lazy kids.

Across the country, and especially in Washington, the health care debate is coming to a head. The health care reform bill is coming up for a vote. I’m not going to try to convince you one way or the other, because it’s not really an issue one can be on the fence about. Either you’re sure that health reform is a necessary change, or you’re convinced it’s going to cause even further economic tailspin. All I will tell you is this: If not for AHCCCS and KidsCare, my wife might just be dead, and my child might have been institutionalized. Instead, they are happy and (reasonably) healthy. I would gladly pay more in taxes not only for my family to have good health care, but your family as well. If I could direct my taxes to go where I wanted, I would likely direct them all to health care, and possibly to internet infrastructure. You know, for the blogging.

One last thing: Keith Olbermann, whose Countdown show provides a platform for him to address news and events from his generally left-leaning viewpoint. On October 7th, 2009, he devoted his entire hour to one of his “Special Comments” to address the health care issue. The “Special Comment” segments are his especially passionate monologues addressing issues and people who he feels are especially in need of change. His comment dealt with the health care system, the stranglehold of the insurance companies, and his father’s illness. It’s an amazing, heartfelt piece of rhetoric, and I think everyone should see it. The MSNBC site has the transcript of his commentary, with a link to the video (link) so you can watch for yourself.

Tomorrow: silly stuff. Thanks for getting this far.
Brian.

Published in: on March 18, 2010 at 11:31 pm  Comments (2)  

Erin go bleargh!

Saint Patrick’s Day, the official holiday of alcoholics and green beer enthusiasts all across the country, is upon us again. Actually, by the time you’re reading this, it’s likely the day after St. Pat’s Day, otherwise known as National Hangover Day. Right now, millions of Americans are sucking down an ocean of green beer and Guinness and celebrating their Irish blood, even if the blood is from the guy they just punched out earlier in the evening. As a McDonald, I have chosen to uphold this fine tradition by celebrating the best alcohol-friendly band in the world.

That would be Korpiklaani, folk metal band from Finland.

Korpiklaani is a sextet with a fairly traditional lineup, with vocals, guitar, bass, drums, violin, and accordion. They originally started as a traditional folk band, but changed their name (from Shaman) and their style in 2003 with their first album ‘Spirit of the Forest’, from which the above video was taken.

While many of the folk/pagan metal bands take a more Dungeons & Dragons approach to songwriting, Korpiklaani have more than battle in mind. Songs like ‘Bring us Pints of Beer’, ‘Beer, Beer’, ‘Vodka’, and ‘Happy Little Boozer’ are among the staples of their concert, although they did insist that they couldn’t actually SING ‘Beer, Beer’ unless they were actually drinking beer. In addition to being functioning alcoholics, Korpiklaani are also pagans, and their songs also have a strong admiration for nature. Mind you, many of their songs are in Finnish, so they could be advocating Satanism and baby-eating on at least half their albums and I’d never know. If so, it sounds like a fun way to go.

Be seeing you.
Brian.

Published in: on March 17, 2010 at 8:39 pm  Comments (1)  

Update to the previous Lightsaber Batman vs. Shark post.

The artist has been found for the art I posted the other day.  He’s Andrew Zubko.  Check his site out, it’s full of goodness. 

Thanks to Glenn Hauman from ComixMix.com for the info.  Zubko is coloring a project for them called ‘The Inner Station’, written by Ben Truman and drawn by Tim Truman.  Tim Truman is a particular favorite of mine, and his series ‘Scout’ is some of the best comics around.  ComixMix has comics featuring a lot of great creators like Norm Breyfogle, Mark Wheatley, Andrew Pepoy, and Trevor Von Eeden. The site itself also has a great news feed.

How about that, a double dose of goodness for your viewing pleasure!

Be seeing you.
Brian.

Published in: on March 16, 2010 at 9:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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