Guided by voices [1]

vol 102

A topic that is not as dear to my heart as it should be is the art of sexual intercourse. Last week i sampled one of the three podcasts a german newspaper released on the topic. The goal of it being to right a few myths surrounding sex. It was not the first podcast about the topic i listened to but it had the same problem i had with the once before it. The presentation is to sexy.
Of course one could argure that this is the point of such a programm. To educate people the teacher should make the impression of actually being knowledgable. And sex is actually a good metaphor because like humans it has evolved. The act itself fulfills the same basic function of the means to keep the species going. But over time it has also become a leisure activity. We can prevent the conception of a child and thus focus on the fun part of it. I enjoy hearing a smooth, deep voice talking about sex in a playful manner. For educational purposes though i’d prefer a dry approach. Or to “make me a baby” to ride the metaphor into the sunset.
I remember the first time the local school system tried to explain to me where babys come from. A then recent documentary on the topic was procured. It was worth the money, it showed me things i was never able to imagine the process to look like. It was strange to learn that the penis is used for more than expelling waste[2]. What i remember to this day is the filmed ejaculation. I can’t say for sure if they shoved a camera down a guy’s wiener for this. It was the late 80’s and vhs recorders you could shoulder for an hour without pain were the GoPro’s of the time. So in hinsight the scene might have been a set. Anyway, we saw a rosy coloured tunnel. The voice over told us about the location and that we are about to wittness the wonder of creation. And then the whole thing went in the direction of Temple Of Doom. A gush of liquid came around the corner. And that is a good summarization of the whole thing. The insight we got was amazing but we never saw people bone. Took me a while until i realized that you have to combine the no-no parts. With the image described you know how the process looks like in detail but not the activity itself.
So here is my dilemma, sex does not frustrate me but i’m unsure about my performance. People who try to help me but make the impression of being super sure of themselves aren’t helping. Being to passive and professional leaves me wondering. TV and movies aren’t the best teachers. And the amount of porn we have access to these days will make sure that my offspring will be even more bewildered.
Which is a strangely comforting thought.

Thanks for your time!
Stay cosmic

———

[1] good music from an overlooked band that inspired this title Guided by voices – Game of pricks
[2] mean people could say that the second function might be a way to create more waste

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Age appropriate for an appropriate age

vol 101

The latest episode of the Force Ghost Coast To Coast podcast[1] host Brian Salvador had a special guest. His five year old daughter Joined him to talk about Star Wars. They have an adorable conversation[2] but are five years of life enough time for preperation? There were parents who brought their three year old kids to The Force Awakens. Not all kids are alike and parents should be able to judge what is appropriate for their offspring. Yet, some parents took their kids to the toilet when Kylo showed his Dad how deep they drilled into the planet. There even is a fan edit that shows Han’s demise to be a trigger happy Stormtrooper.
Of course i’m looking forward to introducing my kid to Star Wars; given the fact that it shows interest in it. Yet there are parents that leave the impression of forcing their kid to like the same stuff as them or something predetermined. Is that a manifestation of fear of rejection? And shouldn’t we know from our own experience that we did reject most if the things our parents liked? Later we might realize that we were wrong or that there are certain things we can enjoy together.
Aren’t mentioned parents the reason that the regulation rock got loose? Talking about methods of upbringing is a soil field[3]. With some people acting as if you challenged them to a duell for suggesting an alternative. The discussion about a clothing “for boys” being the reason for a girl toddler to turn gay is a thing i experienced. “The kid has no knowledge about gender yet and you’re thinking about it’s sexuality?” is also a bad argument to make if you don’t want the discussion to last long.
My dad recently told me the following:

We were raised to be confident and with 22 you’re still feeling like the world bows to you. And then a kid comes along and becomes a huge challenge that makes you feel like kneeling before the world. But every other parent you meet acts confident, like they have it figured all out. On the second look though you notice that they’re in the same boat. You smell it in the alcohol on the breath of the men, from fleeing the situation by saying that they’ll scheduled for overtime. You see it in the red, tired eyes of the mothers. And when they announce that a sibling is on the way, it sounds like an obituary read out by a comedian.
I think it is a good thing that parents today allow themselves to be human and not pretend to be more than they are.”

I guess my point is to try and keep my kid from watching Robocop at the age of six.
By then some crazy guy will have sold cyberzombies to patrol the streets anyway.


[1] Force Ghost Coast to Coast: Minisode: The Next Generation of Star Wars Fan
[2] two times i felt like Dad demanded to much from his kid, there is to much going on in those movies, it’s amazing she remembered as much
[3] because the ground is made of primed mines with soil in between them

Simon gets it whipped

vol 100

One of my favourite games from the era of the first Game Boy Castlevania II – Belmont’s Revenge. Castlevania is always a blip on my radar because you get to go up against vampires. I’m not a big fan of vampires.
But Castlevania II was something else. It was the first time i realized that there are other Belmont’s on the hunt; Christopher in this case. And he moves slower than Simon. The Belmont’s are on a permanent sunday stroll through the park. But Christopher’s animation suggests that he’s not pacing himself to smell the flowers. He’s on a constant workout with a pair of dum bells. The short jump and the walking animation suggests that he skipped leg day on every occasion. But my daydreams about Christopher’s journey ran wild because of the box art.
For comparison; here is the japanese version:

img_3311

With it’s classic aesthetic it communicates the plot and introduces the important characters. Dracula is looming over Christopher, the portrait of his son and the scenery where the game takes place. Christopher’s son gets kidnapped by Dracula, turned into a demon and now shall help him restore his former power.
Now here is the cover we europeans and the us got:

img_3312

As a kid this thing drove me nuts. The title explodes in an electric sizzle while we witness Fabio’s rage drunk cousin on a demonic home invasion. He looses his balance and tries to get himself upright with a dash of his whip while the home owner pleads for his buddies inside to call the cops.
It is not a bad cover. It gives you the gist of the proceedings while the japanese cover makes an effort to illustrate a more believable monster hunter while communicating what’s up.

The one thing that stuck with me over the years was the soundtrack. Without the atmospheric 8-bit sound curtain the room would have fallen apart. I’m still humming those tunes sometimes. And due to the wonders of modern technology and generosity it’s available to almost everyone[1].

No other Castlevania game afterwards captured me like this one. The SNES release was neat but i’m still struggling with that one after a while. It’s like the first Metroid or any other kind of nostalgia driven franchise these days. It’s only an echo of the raw thing you felt, processed through the filter of aging.


[1] My favourite track; Praying Hands. Here’s a Playlist of the whole soundtrack.

voice only

vol 99

Thuesday night i read an article about the alterations made to Superman II[1]. In the back of my head my mind rattled down a list of movies that we’re probablynever going to see redone in that way. The only thing i came up with was Rogue One – A Star Wars Story.
I’m aware that the reshoots for this movie are nothing exceptional. But how would Gareth Edward’s true vision for it looked like. Because while he is fit to illustrate Star Wars directing is not his strong suit. And with a weak story like Rogue One’s a firmer hand would have helped[2].
Enter Ron Howard.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller, they were the only reason to look forward to the Han Solo movie[3]. They’re brand of sugar rush movies would have been an interesting thing to see. Reading that director Colin Trevorrow and Lucasfilm decided to part ways on the production of Episode IX is a move that makes me hope for a better movie. I only know him from Jurrasic World, but that movie wouldn’t have been as well received if it came out before Guardians Of The Galaxy.

No director plans to do a bad job. And with Star Wars they wouldn’t; it’s a thing you can put in your resume with the boldest font known to mankind. But i think it was Kenneth Branagh who said on the commentary for Thor:

This job is like an audiobook. You are hired to read it not to write it.

And that is something we see in video games too. The recipes are almost the same the seasoning is different. There is a rumor that Lucasfilm is not interested in working with "fresh" directors anymore. But the thing is: should there be directors cast for Marvel and Star Wars movies anymore? Could they be Lead Designers in that regard?
How come that Rian Johnson has sailed the directorial ship through the waters of Lucasfilm without any noteworthy troubles? Because he is a filmmaker with a unique sense of humor and vision. i'd rather thought he'd part over differences. The difference between him and Mr. Treverrow could be the lengths they are willing to walk (away).


[1] Sequart.org – Remembering and Celebrating Superman II – The Richard Donner Cut
[2] Recently i had a very civilized conversation with a person about how the “prequel” novel and the novelization of Rogue One helped the movie, but my opposite in that talk never even considered that there are people who’d have needed that knowledge to be conveyed in the cinema.
[3] And Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. But i’d rather see a Lando movie directed by Lord Miller. Perhaps even with the idea from the expanded universe that Lando was considered as a template for the clone army because it would have goven us the opportunity to see Billy Dee Williams alongside Donald Glover!

Forked Friday II

vol 98

I was the third person to enter the local TRU on this Force Friday. The third of eight, we were four couples where the men were the reasons for being there.
I did not get any bonus out of my placement because it seems like they already had the stuff out for either a day or a while. Three full complements of Black Series figures were out, which is kind of amazing, and of course the 3.75″ figures that we will find caseloads of in a few years; namely Rose, ….her sister the Gunner….Paige (who could forget her), ol’ pasty face Hux, Chewbacca and 3PO. Chewbacca has a Porg (resistance is futile!) in the blister! Why does nobody buy him? I’m just glad that customers seem to dislike Hux the most, nothing like the Finn-cident from two years ago[1].
I picked up a Black Series Hera figure to complete my Rebels set and all of the 3.75″ figures. Trying to get the figures from the online presence of the local TRU wasn’t a good idea, because they were sold out of everything except Hux again. But what bummed me out is: The new gimmick of the toy line borrows from the Phantom Menace one, place the figures near an extra accessory and it plays phrases and sounds in accordance to the figure or vehicle; Hasbro calls it Force Link[2], and while every figure has the logo of the cashgrab as big as the franchise logo on the figures packaging, the thing was not available in store or online. I even saved up enough money to get the BB-8 Stardestroyer set that comes with the Force Link glove at a ridiculous high price but that wasn’t on shelves as well. Not even the new Lego sets were there. And this feeds into a discussion that came up at work a few days ago: why are local businesses struggling? Because i bought the damn Force Link set from Amazon and then went to an ebay seller from the states that from time to time helps me out with getting Star Wars related figures and bought a whole case of 3.75″ figures and the two pack sets for the price that the figures from the case would have cost at TRU with shipping and import tax.

I’m aware this is all superfluous and i’m ashamed that i spend so much energy on the topic and anger leads to hate and so on, but i don’t get it, even if kids are done with toys, i walked in there willing to spend a lot of money and all i get is “uhhhh, nobody wants this shit, go away and buy it somewhere else”.

BUT there was a highlight! When the cashier, an asian woman, picked up the Rose figure she took a closer look and said “She looks like me.” to which i answered: “isn’t it awesome?” and we both smiled and went our ways.

Sorry, i had to vent.
I wanted to look like the Lego advert guy who really digs his 800 euro Millennium Falcon. He surely thinks something like “This is it guys, i’m never using my arms for anything other than keeping this baby save.” Look at his eyes and his mouth, he’s determined but happy.

lego_millennium_love

Thank You for Your time!
Stay cosmic!


[1] the Finn-cident
[2] we call it “they took away the extra weapons to make the figures a buck cheaper but earn 29 more with this thing that we totally need because we’re afraid to miss out”

Crackle

vol 97

Today comic enthusiasts celebrate the 100th birthday of one of the medium’s most prolific and creative contributor: Jack Kirby.
Born as Jakob Kurtzberg to a couple of austrian refugees he lived a life that demanded a certain hardening; from the regular fights in his neighborhood, the people who took offense with his jewish heritage to the events he witnessed as a reconnaissance officer in World War II. But all those things it seems have been repurposed into fuel for his creativity. You have to really work on yourself if you probably propose[1] this as a depiction of mankind after you took a trip through the madhouse of war:

The first time i heard about the King of Comics was in the editorial of a german Spider-Man comic; it was his obituary. And to my discredit i admit that i quickly read over the text, stuttered a short “I’m sorry for the loss.” and continued to read the next installment of Maximum Carnage.
Over the coming years i continued stumbling over Jack Kirby’s legacy but it took me a while to finally look up the man’s body of work; which made me realize why he was called “The King” by his peers (after the title publisher Martin Goodman gave himself, and got mocked for behind his back): his work ethic and creativity made him produce a massive amount of pages, he had his hands in the creation of romance comics and helped invent the visual language of modern superhero comics. Mister Miracle, Big Barda, Darkseid as well as the rest of the Fourth World pantheon, Etrigan, Kamandi, the Challengers of the Unknown, OMAC, Machine Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, the X-Men, the Avengers, the mighty Thor, the Eternals, Uatu the Watcher and Captain America are only a few of the figures that are still in use to this day; all of them played a role in my path through the world of visual storytelling.

But like many of the people who paved the way for modern comics his name isn’t the one on everyone’s lips. “Comics will break your heart.”[2] is a sentence of his that is uttered amongst the enthusiasts and pros alike. I hope it wasn’t the medium but the industry that caused his heartache[3], because i imagine this man sitting before his drafting table drawing and creating page after page, creating his legacy with a twinkle in his eye instead of constant resentment of his profession; because it would make feel the readers enthusiasm for his work like the crack of a whip.

[1] The Kirbymuseum website has a short article about it. [link]
[2] James Romberger was told by Kirby to put his art in galleries because the industry didn’t treat him very well. [link]
[3] One of the many articles on the web telling the troubled story of royalties and acknowledgement of their work. [link]
Further reading: a short story about the relationship between Stan Lee and Jack Kirby; Citizen Conn by Michael Chabon

Thank You for Your time!
Stay Cosmic!

Craftin’

vol 96

StarCraft Remastered hit the digital shelves last week; something i looked forward to since it was announced. Before Blizzard made the original game and it’s expansion, Brood War, available for free but not without having to let them put their foot into some of your computer’s ports through their BattleNet software who’s installation is a “necassary evil” to play the non-enhanced version.
Allow me to lead you down on a trip down my corner of memory lane; it was the spring of 1998 and all us video game enthusiasts were giddy to get our sticky little fingers onto a box of StarCraft. I was the first of the gang with the box in his hand and the first one to get rid of it. A local chain of small electronic stores had the policy to not give a second thought to release dates ans put up their stock as soon as the shipping boxes arrived; which sly, young me anticipated and used his lunch break to head to the next store.
Back in school of course i bragged with my acquisation and locked it with my backpack into one of the small cabinets we had in our classrooms, rather the classroom we occupied at that afternoon because we were a “nomad class” that got tutored in whatever classroom was free at that particular time. This afternoon however we had some work to finish in the electric laboratory in another wing of the building. i deemed my backpack with it’s precious cargo save in the locked cabinet.
Of course i was wrong.
The culprit had locked up the cabinet after the deed was done and i was lighter for a box of StarCraft, which led me to believe that he was a member of the 20 people that inshared the adternoon with and were aware of the location of the game. But 19 years have passed since then and i got a copy the next day nonetheless, perhaps made from the one i bought.
When i went through my video game collection i found three separate copy’s of StarCraft i bought over the last few years alongside Diablo and Warcraft II and III.
Now StarCraft itself was an amazing experience back then; it was the first real time strategy game at which i actually accomplished a thing or two as a single and a multiplayer. And at the time it felt like the closest thing we got to a Warhammer 40k video game at the time; years later Dawn Of War would scratch that itch with the needed gusto.
To be frank, as great as i remember the story of the game to be, the details escape me when i stick my hand in into the jello of my memory to grab them.
The remastered version does scratch the nostalgia itch and while i understand the general consens to be rather negative due to the missing implementation of modern compfort features, the desolated levels and the missing improvements to the pathfinding of the units. And i get that from a reviewers point of view; however that weren’t things i considered to be put in this version. The improved graphics being realized in the original engine is a thing i consider to be quite a feat, considering my limited sphere of knowledge, but zooming in and making woooh does get boringly repetative.
Nonetheless, good times replaying StarCraft.
But the reviews made me think about our expectations for things. Even if the game mechanics and functions would have been adjusted to a contemporary status my guess is that reviewers would have called out the way it tried to appeal to a modern audience. That is the point were at, one has to put his ear to the rails to make out the nuances, and even then it feels like there isn’t genuine joy anymore. Perhaps i’m listening on the wrong rails, perhaps the professionals are to deep in the loop, perhaps it’s just me.
And before i get into the whole “the artist should be allowed to fuck with his art retroactively” i close this volume.

Check out Star Wars Revisited to see what the Special Edition could have been (i’ll point you in the right direction if you want).

But now i’ll close it for real.

Thank You for your time!

heliocentricbs@mailbox.org

[review] Mister Miracle no.1

“Of course this title was going to be his pick of the week no matter if it turns out to be a turd sandwich served with a glass of warm Natursekt.” is probably the first thought when i declare that Mister Miracle no.1 is my comic of the week. And that is true because i already enjoyed last weeks New Gods Special more than is warranted.

Jack Kirby’s creations, and the figures from his Fourth World in particular, all have an aura around them; an honesty that has become a mainstay in contemporary comics but even years after their first publication feels like nothing else.
And in the centennial of the King Of Comics DC-Comics publishes a continuation of one of the most beloved figures and the Fourth World he inhabits that evokes an almost equal buzz as when i read Mister Miracle’s premiere issue.

Of course, DC made sure this book would cause a wave by giving writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerards the keys to the Hot Rod that Grandpa built back in the day but Dad put a blanket upon because he did not get the time to continue the work (which is an elaborate metaphor for Grant Morisson’s work on the characters).

The comic opens with a facette that always was there in the beginning of Scott Free’s existence as the greatest escape artist there is, but twists it to the ultimate conclusion: only the best escape artist can built the ultimate trap for himself. But not only does the contraption put Mister Miracle in chains; the whole pantheon of the New Gods is trapped with him.
And as if that isn't enough to push against; Darkseid is.

But the story of this escape act would not work as well as it wasn’t for Mitch Gerards. He makes the characters stand out of their surroundings; gives them the boldness that is associated with New Gods and Forever People. But while Kirby gave us figures that feel like springs under permanent tension declaring their readiness to expand any moment by emanating the famous Kirby crackle, Gerards relies on their presence to instill the awesomeness of the figures.
He deepens the unrealiable nature of what we see on the page by working with distortions and in one instance even by placing pieces of adehsive tape on the page.

A downside to this issue is that a person that reads this issue without prior knowledge of the characters and their relations to each other and the larger DC-Universe could put it away with the thought of it being nothing more than DC trying to copy the “artsy fartsy” approach Tom King brought to the Vision or the Omega Men. But like with the two mentioned series, he examines an aspect of the character in his way, or in this case rather focuses on an ignored one: Scott Free was sent to a life of torture at the hands of Darkseid and Granny Goodness to secure a peace treaty that only was honored until it afforded Darkseid to further his power.

While i am counting the days until the second issue is officially released (September 13th) the sentence above presents the biggest stone in the way of this title to become more than just a Kirby acolyte’s favourite contemporary comic. But the events unfold in the broader continuity of the DC Universe, and when Darkseid is mentioned there is more at stake than just the city a hero is located at.

Mister Miracle no.1
published by DC-Comics
written by Tom King
art by Mitch Gerards
lettered by Clayton Clowes

linked up vol.11

Friday, time to share some links. Some i do comment, some not. Some lead to german internet presences.

# Could Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Make DC Comics’ Biggest Ever Omnibus, In Time For Christmas?

# New ‘Devilman’ Anime To Stream On Netflix (Japan) In 2018

# S.H.Figuarts Qui-Gon JInn Revealed
Yes! Wait, what is the second faceplate meant to emote?

# Whoa: ‘The Matrix’ Reboot Taking Shape at Warner Bros. Without the Wachowskis
This could work. Perhaps not with the people currently attached, but there are so many angles you could look at this story, even now.

# Anime Godzilla Movie Coming to Netflix Later This Year!
With Gen Urobuchi on writing made me more interested in this version of the king of monsters. His Kamen Rider series, Gaim, gave the franchise a needed new perspective.

# Six Years Ago Today
A comparison of the fukushima incident and Shin Godzilla.

# Tiny crack in steel seen through an electron microscope

# Terry Gilliam’s ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’ Begins Production, Laughs in the Face of God

# That New Star Wars Title Will Be A Darth Vader Ongoing By Charles Soule And Giuseppe Camuncoli
I hope Mr. Soule is in the same form as when he wrote the Lando miniseries because i liked that but wasn’t as much of a fan of his recent Marvel work.

# ‘Steven Universe’ WIll Be Coming To Consoles As An RPG

# James Cameron Confirms ‘Avatar 2’ Won’t Arrive in 2018, Make Your Fake Surprised Face Now

linked up vol.10

Friday, time to share some links. Some i do comment, some not. Some lead to german internet presences.

# Tales Of Alethrion trailer
This series spins out of the short animated movie The Reward, which somehow reminded me of all the D&D Adventures my brother and me….imagined our characters live through.

# Senate Republicans introduce resolution ensuring ISPs don’t need your permission to sell your private data and SSN
I try to keep politics out of here, but this is something that people using the internet should be aware of. We already give away to much by choice.

# A game where Character Creation is the Whole Game

# „Ich las genug!“ – Übersetzungen aus der Negativ-Zone
Marvel comics translating through the ages.

# ‘Logan’ ADR Clip: Watch Hugh Jackman Intensely Grunt His Way Through an Action Scene
I wonder if there are actors who get foley or dedicated adr artists to do such work for them.

# Jeff Lemire Quits Marvel
Hmm, if that is true Marvel should take a hard look at how to keep talent in house.

# Finn Jones leaves twitter discussing Iron Fist whitewashing controversy
It is an issue that needs addressing and a solution, but why don’t we address the people who are actually producing the things we take issue with? (because they are smart enough to stay off social media)

# DC Comics Planning Digital Subscription With Amazon Prime – And Everything Changes
At this point this might not come to be a reality, but having a subscription for Marvel Unlimited and a similar DC service might cover a huge chunk of the comic grind.

# Five ways to remove a stripped screw
Have to try out the rubber band method, because most of the time i don’t carry a Dremel with me.

# Adorable mascot drummer opts for death metal interpretation of childrens’ song

# Cole Sprouse weighs Jughead sexuality contoversy
Has he cut himself another asshole afterwards, because Twitter sure tore Mark Waid a second one. I get the rather emotional reactions, but we’re not the custodians of these characters and i give Waid the benefit of the doubt for not making a sexmachine out of Jughead all of a sudden. It’s Mark Waid! Frank Miller would have send him to make burgers out of people from the middle east and nobody would have given a thought about it.

# Image Announces 15 New Titles at ECCC
Every one of those titles has something that makes me want to read it, but how many if those titles will be around long enough to finish their run? Is Chip Zdarsky’s He-Man book still a thing?
And i don’t believe in Mage: The Hero Denied until i hold it in my hands. Been waiting 15 years for it.

# Trailer for the new Duck Tales cartoon, which looks promising.

Is Ike Perlmutter’s Marvel vs. Fox War Playing Out In Casting Announcements For X-Men And Inhumans TV?

# ‘TRON 3’ Is On The Cart In Monty Python Screaming “I’m Not Dead Yet”