June 2002 Archives

Learning from Sea Monkeys

Many U.S. citizens were shocked and disappointed this week by the greed, the dishonesty, and the downright fraud that appears to be rampant among U.S. businesses. I suspect, however, that comic fans of my generation were not so surprised by the corruption on display this week. After all, we were weened on comic book ads and thus know all about false claims and shady business practices.
It is a distressing sign of the times that today's comic books contain so many advertisements for apparently real and legitimate products: video games, action figures, etc. One would think that DC or Marvel could make it their civic duty to run at least one Ab-Tronics ad per issue--for how else will today's youth prepare for the inevitable rip-offs of adult life if not by sending away $2.50 and a completed coupon for some dubious product sold by mail?
Even the Sea Monkeys seem to have gotten on the truth-in-advertising bandwagon. Abandoning the anthropomorphic drawings of yore, today's sea monkeys web site quite clearly shows tiny brine shrimp swimming around a bowl. The site seems to be making up for the unexciting nature of the product with ingenious companion products, such as the submarine shaped mini-tank and the hard-to-pass-up sea monkey wrist watch.
I was pleased to see that the dream once promised by the old sea monkey ads is alive and well at Xicat Interactive, where some clever folks have devised a virtual aquarium of old-style sea monkey families that engage in leisure activities such as karaoke and water polo.

Grocery-inspired redesign

I've changed the formatting for In Sequence recently; I took my inspiration from the packaging in the candy aisle of Mitsuwa, a Japanese grocery store nearby. I hope you like it.
I was prompted to make changes after seeing how my site rendered in Mozilla. I've been having a little lovefest with the Mozilla browser ever since I downloaded it, so I figured the time had come to make my site standards compliant. Still working on it, but drawing closer.

Water worlds

My favorite mysterious palindrome, Neilalien, recently posted about the return of Aquaman to comics. I hadn't realized before that some comic fans thought Aquaman was kind of lame, or that there was "an ocean problem"--because all action in the series needs to take place in the water--that hampered plot development.
I thought this was an useful issue to explore, since I've always been attracted to ocean settings in comics and animation. As I considered further, however, I realized my interest in watery worlds has mainly been pictorial--how does one imagine an underwater world visually?--rather than narrative. In fact, one of my favorite underwater film scenes--the live action/animated sequence in Bedknobs and Broomsticks--acts as an interlude in the plot.
One of the artistic challenges of using an underwater setting, in whole or in part, lies in creating a consistently imagined world. The results can be truly spectacular--as with Star Wars I's Gungan city, or the lush scenes featured in the video game Ecco The Dolphin, or in the comics panel I've reproduced here, from Image's Fathom. Part of the joyousness of the "Under the Sea" musical number in Disney's The Little Mermaid was in seeing the theme brought to life visually using one recognizable sea creature after another. There was a whole world in that one song.
As far as plot development goes, it seems to me that there are as many opportunities as there are restrictions. When it comes to bad guys, you just have to take a look at the daily paper: oil spills, overfishing, nuclear waste, scary new species. Yes, I have to admit, I'm looking forward to a new Aquaman.

Waiting for release

Is the decades-long release of the Watergate tapes the most ambitious serial audio project ever? Or am I stretching a point in order to justify posting about the 30th Anniversary of Watergate? I really don't know for sure but I can tell you this: whenever I'm feeling down-and-out, like I just don't want to go on anymore, I remember that there are still more Watergate tapes to be released in the future and I perk up a bit.
If you are a young' un and don't remember Watergate, do yourself a favor and educate yourself about this rich period in our national history. I find there is still so much to be learned from the period, even now. For example, I happened upon Nixon's Enemies List and wondered if this delightful concept might be applied to the blogging world. I mean, we all have our "Favorite Sites" lists, but where oh where are the Enemies Lists?
I particularly like the way Nixon annotated his enemies list with notes about how to get revenge on the objects of his enmity: "A scandal would be most helpful here" or, more ominously, "It is time to give him the message."
So, to get the ball rolling, here is a first stab at my Enemies List:
Internet Explorer 5.1 for Mac. Go Mozilla.
Commercials for the little purple pill called Nexium.
Tom Brokaw. Rival of my beloved Peter Jennings.
RIAA. Lots of Momentum against this one.
Red padlock icons on GameSpot Complete.
Here's another wonderful thing about Nixon: did you know that you can rent out the Nixon Library for your next special occasion? I could hold my next birthday there! And it's also appropriate for weddings. In fact, I feel the environment of the Nixon Library perfectly reflects my feelings about weddings in general-I can't think of a more perfect venue. So don't overlook it.


I took this picture of Nixon's grave site while visiting the Nixon Library. The inscription reads, "The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker." This is more good news, because it means that even if you don't like the way your life turned out, you can basically write anything you want on your tombstone. For example: "Here lies John Doe - Able to Leap Tall Buildings In A Single Bound" or "Here lies Jane Doe - Astronaut - Physicist - Nun."

Literary caricatures

I love finding art projects on the web, like the Online Gallery of Literature-Based Caricatures and Etchings, a sampling of drawings and prints of literary figures done by graphic artists, including many from the world of comics. What is even more spine-tingling is how well the project is executed: a simple, easy-to-navigate menu lets you view the entire collection at a glance as well as browse by artist or by subject.
In some cases, the literary figure is a writer, such as H.P. Lovecraft or Emily Dickenson; in other cases, it's a character from a book, such as Black Beauty or Frankenstein. Two pictures I particulary liked: Dan Brereton's dramatic take on White Fang and the Wicked Witch of the West by Tony Gleeson. From the detail page you can also click-through to more information about both artists and authors.

Serial toast

I am enjoying this lovely example of sequential art, entitled The Toaster, as a desktop picture now.

Comics to PDA

I don't usually blog PC applications--but I'm a big supporter of e-text and ComicGURU seems like a pretty interesting project. It allows you to convert web-based or scanned paper comics into a portable format that can be viewed by Clie color PDAs. A Pocket PC version is in the works.

Distracted

I apologize for being somewhat tardy in responding to my comments, but you will find many replies listed now. I got somewhat distracted by my blogger template and all the things it was doing wrong.

Tales of SpongeBob

The other day my sister--she of getting-me-into-the-Star-Wars-II-premiere fame--shared a cautionary tale with me regarding the popular animated cartoon character, SpongeBob Squarepants.
It seems my sister was down in Mexico on a cruise recently and was attempting to entertain herself--as one does on these trips--by lounging around on deck and drinking as much as possible. Unfortunately, my sister's efforts at intoxication were interrupted by a loud noise coming from the other end of the deck. Off she went to investigate.
Arriving at other end of the deck, she discovered the noise was actually singing, and that it was coming from a drunken man sitting at the bar loudly singing the SpongeBob Squarepants theme song. In the seat next to him was a giant stuffed animal--or sponge, as it were--about the size you would find at a carnival--in the image of SpongeBob Squarepants. To his side there was also a stand-up poster of SpongeBob Squarepants.
Curiosity satisfied, my sister returned to her lounge chair, hoping that another margarita might dull the sound of the man's singing. As time passed, however, she noticed the singing had become louder, and that a line appeared to be growing around the bar. She returned to the scene and discovered a bevy of small children had surrounded the man, and were joining him in a repeated rendition of the SpongeBob Squarepants theme. In addition, a line of mothers and children patiently waited for an audience with the drunk.
My sister approached one of the mothers questioningly, eager to find out what compelled them to hand over their small children to an obvious lush. Smiling proudly, the mother flourished a signed cocktail napkin, explaining that the drunken man was in fact the voice actor for Patrick Star, the starfish character on SpongeBob Squarepants.
Once back home, my sister impressed her colleagues with her tale of an encounter with the celebrity voice actor. In the process of telling her story, my sister confessed she was actually not too familiar with the cartoon show. Perhaps that's why she received a news clipping in her work mailbox a few days later, giving some details about Bill Fagerbakke, the voice behind the starfish, whom my sister remembered from his role on the TV sitcom, "Coach." Then she realized: the drunken man at the bar was not Bill Fagerbakke.
The lesson of this story is: although it may seem that we all have enough to worry about with the recession, dirty bombs, the existence of Donald Rumsfeld, and the rising price of prescription psychotropics--we can now add one more worry to the list. There are Animated Character Impersonators on the loose--drinking too much, singing too loudly, and abusing the trust of your children.
Now if you'll excuse me I have to get to Toys'R'Us to sign Scooby Doo bean-bag animals. My fans are waiting.

Just switch

And the people rushed forth to testify, and to speak of its wonderous power, and those who saw were uplifted, and saw that it was good.

Movin' on up

I've removed the topic links from In Sequence as part of my preparations for (hopefully) moving out of BlogSpot. All of my archived posts are still available through the monthly links.

A new picture of me

A new picture of me has been added to the About page.

Addicted to gem games

Which is more clearly Satanic: the fact that the game Bejeweled is about to be released in desktop version for the Mac, or the subliminally addictive background loop in the copycat game Gem Drop?

Following Neilalien's pointers

I was visiting one of my favorite blogs this morning, Neilalien, whose short but link-rich posts on the comic book world are always informative, when I ran across several stories that caught my eye. The first was an interview with comics writer Grant Morrison, whose in-your-face opinions about superheroes, technology, and all manner of different geek topics made for a very entertaining two-part interview. I will definitely look into picking up his Vertigo title, Filth, based on what I read today.
I also linked out to some pictures of Alias's Jennifer Garner in costume as Elektra for the upcoming Daredevil movie. I really like Garner and I hope she can carry off the role of the dangerous Elektra. I remember how exciting it was when Elektra first started appearing in Daredevil--every issue sold out almost as fast they were released. As for the casting of Ben Affleck as Daredevil, it is grotesque. In fact, I have not offered my opinion on this matter previously because it has taken me this long to get my gag response under control. Aaaaghk--there it is again.

Melancholy gaming

I really love the articles at RobotStreetGang, a thoughtful web site about "game theory and lifestyle." They're currently running an article called A Thousand Times, No by Peter Olafson about the difficulties of trying to involve a significant other in one's gaming obsession.
There tends to be a certain melancholy in the articles they run. I read one good story on the site about the role of gaming in depression, and another about identifying with an unpopular gaming character. There's no hype about games; just really honest articles about how games can enter the psyche and become tangled up in other parts of one's life.

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