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January 31, 2012

Bunny at Work

This is the best thing i've seen all week!


h/t wnkr

By min | January 31, 2012, 10:58 AM | Cute Things| Link

January 30, 2012

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

X-Factor #230 - I put Peter David in the "not good anymore" category after Chriscross' art turned me off of Captain Marvel and PAD's return to the Hulk was less than great. I also tried his She-Hulk but didn't love it. So i have been skipping his X-Factor despite good reviews. But due to the terms of a recent donation from the Wanyas Foundation, i am now collecting this series. Via the same arrangement i now also have all the back-issues, but i don't know when i'll get to them. So, this issue: really good! Yes, it was just an issue of people standing around talking, but it was well-written dialogue. There was the Peter David bad humor element that i'm overly sensitive to, like the bit where Pip was standing behind Strong Guy, and the "you just got trolled" follow-up, but i was braced for it and i survived. The art seems pretty good too (we'll see how it is with action sequences when there are any) and there's interesting stuff going on with Madrox and Strong Guy. So i basically had to be forced to read this book, but i'm glad i was.

New Mutants #36 - I think this issue addressed various random concerns i've seen floating about, like the Mutants having left Doug behind, and the way the band seems to be able to just move from gig to gig despite the disasters they have been leaving in their wake, but it does leave me with a very important question: was that or was that not a baby Shuma-Gorath? It sure looked like one, but it was never actually said that it was. Which, if it was, was kind of cool; the New Mutants stumbled upon and resolved the threat of an extension of Shuma-Gorath without actually knowing what they were dealing with. Entirely feasible, and i'm still enjoying this series. (And everyone had eyeballs, and they were all the right sizes, too!)

Thunderbolts #169 - Yeah, like i said, Parker can send these Thunderbolts back to any time period he wants, for as long as he wants, and i'll enjoy it.

Avengers #21 - The art could be a lot better, and Bendis had better be prepared to put the genie back in the bottle regarding the ability for Hydra/Aim/Osborn to create duplicates of the Avengers, but this was a good issue. I enjoyed Spider-Woman trying to bluff her way past the Hulks, and Marvel Boy The Protector's attempts at communicating with the Avengers during the Iron Man was well written too.

New Avengers #20 - Same here. Good fight, and this issue has the benefit of Mike Deodato art. "Oh great they have a Thor" is a reference/homage to "They have a cave troll" in Fellowship of the Rings, right?

Avenging Spider-Man #3 - Good fun!

Captain America #7 - Mad bombs. Serpent squads. Very good Alan Davis art in the interior (i thought Cap's face on the cover looked kind of bad). Can't ask for much more than that. I see we're kind of building towards a "Cap's loss of faith in his country equals loss of powers" which is an interesting idea.

Alpha Flight #8 - Sad that this was cancelled but as long as Van Lente and Pak stick around, it'll be ok. Eaglesham's art kind of grew on me; i thought it was a little stiff but i'd be happy to see him take over, say, the Avengers.

Avengers Academy #24 - I wouldn't know!

By fnord12 | January 30, 2012, 8:55 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

Marvel Sales


By fnord12 | January 30, 2012, 10:26 AM | Comics| Link

January 26, 2012

Random Lyrics Thursday

Frank Sinatra by Cake

We know of an ancient radiation
That haunts dismembered constellations
A faintly glimmering radio station

While Frank Sinatra sings "Stormy Weather"
The flies and spiders get along together
Cobwebs fall on an old skipping record

Beyond the suns that guard this roof
Beyond your flowers of flaming truths
Beyond your latest ad campaigns

An old man sits collecting stamps
In a room all filled with Chinese lamps
He saves what others throw away
He says that he'll be rich someday

We know of an ancient radiation
That haunts dismembered constellations
A faintly glimmering radio station

While Frank Sinatra sings "Stormy Weather"
The flies and spiders get along together
Cobwebs fall on an old skipping record

By min | January 26, 2012, 5:40 PM | Music| Link

January 25, 2012

Science Literacy Quiz

I suck. I made at least 4 stupid mistakes and only got 80%. :(

Christian Science Monitor Science Quiz

By min | January 25, 2012, 10:59 AM | My stupid life & Science| Link

January 24, 2012

Our Traitorous Bodies are Conspiring to Keep Us Fat

I was directed to this article (i warn you - it's super long) during a discussion about metabolism and obesity. If you've ever lost weight but had trouble keeping it off, or exercised but didn't see the results you expected, this might shed some light on things.

A physician in Australia conducted a study where participants were obese men and women. They were placed on extremely low calorie diets until they lost around 30lbs and then worked to maintain the new weight.

A full year after significant weight loss, these men and women remained in what could be described as a biologically altered state. Their still-plump bodies were acting as if they were starving and were working overtime to regain the pounds they lost. For instance, a gastric hormone called ghrelin, often dubbed the "hunger hormone," was about 20 percent higher than at the start of the study. Another hormone associated with suppressing hunger, peptide YY, was also abnormally low. Levels of leptin, a hormone that suppresses hunger and increases metabolism, also remained lower than expected. A cocktail of other hormones associated with hunger and metabolism all remained significantly changed compared to pre-dieting levels. It was almost as if weight loss had put their bodies into a unique metabolic state, a sort of post-dieting syndrome that set them apart from people who hadn't tried to lose weight in the first place.


In a study done at Columbia University,

Muscle biopsies taken before, during and after weight loss show that once a person drops weight, their muscle fibers undergo a transformation, making them more like highly efficient "slow twitch" muscle fibers. A result is that after losing weight, your muscles burn 20 to 25 percent fewer calories during everyday activity and moderate aerobic exercise than those of a person who is naturally at the same weight.
Another way that the body seems to fight weight loss is by altering the way the brain responds to food...[T]he body, in order to get back to its pre-diet weight, induces cravings by making the person feel more excited about food and giving him or her less willpower to resist a high-calorie treat.

Which is to say your body is an asshole that's actively working against you. Things brings us to "decision fatigue", which comes with another super long article and deserves a post of its own (which i will get to). However, i will tell you about the part of the article that talks about decision fatigue and its impact on dieters - the brain converts glucose to energy. The energy fuels our willpower. Willpower enables us to resist temptation. When you're on a diet, you restrict your caloric intake and consequently, your glucose intake, effectively reducing your willpower.

The discoveries about glucose help explain why dieting is a uniquely difficult test of self-control -- and why even people with phenomenally strong willpower in the rest of their lives can have such a hard time losing weight. They start out the day with virtuous intentions, resisting croissants at breakfast and dessert at lunch, but each act of resistance further lowers their willpower. As their willpower weakens late in the day, they need to replenish it. But to resupply that energy, they need to give the body glucose. They're trapped in a nutritional catch-22:

1. In order not to eat, a dieter needs willpower.

2. In order to have willpower, a dieter needs to eat.

This reminds me of when i used to do 3-day fasts. Day 1 was easy peasy. Day 2 was unbearable. I never made it to Day 3.

So, i thought, your body has to eventually go back to working normally, right? It's just in starvation mode now because it's been so used to getting more food for so long, but it'll adapt to the new status quo in a year or two. Shows what i know.

How long this state lasts isn't known, but preliminary research at Columbia suggests that for as many as six years after weight loss, the body continues to defend the old, higher weight by burning off far fewer calories than would be expected. The problem could persist indefinitely.

Well...hrm....i guess, if, uh, there's an apocalypse and food becomes scarce.....people with slower metabolisms will be better off...yeah...

By min | January 24, 2012, 3:53 PM | Science| Link

January 23, 2012

Muggle Quidditch? Cereally?

If you harbored a mental picture of Oxford students being all prim and proper, harbor it no more.

To onlookers it may have seemed outlandish and bizarre, but to these mostly teenage Oxford students it was the realisation of a dream. For Quidditch, the game they grew up reading about in the pages of Harry Potter books, is no longer a fictional activity played by witches and wizards in the air. It is a fast-paced and disconcertingly rough team sport that is played firmly on the ground and results in very real cuts and bruises.
Instead of flying, players run with broomsticks between their legs, and instead of a golden ball with wings attached, the Snitch is a person dressed in yellow.

One student is quoted as saying he hopes to make people "see Quidditch as a sport in its own right".

Yes, i'm sure many share your hopes and aspirations that a game involving young adults running around grasping a stick between their legs will one day be taken seriously.

You know what would have been kewl? If they loved the game in the books so much that they developed some sort of device that actually levitated and flew like the broomsticks in the Harry Potter books. With science and genius and all that. That i could have gotten behind. Instead we get this.

This just makes me sad (and yes, those are capes).

Damn you, J.K. Rowling!

By min | January 23, 2012, 2:39 PM | Boooooks & Ummm... Other?| Link

January 20, 2012

I swear this is not edited in any way, and there's nothing else in the movie that puts it in context

He just makes that noise when he sees the dinosaurs. No explanation.

From the made-for-SciFi movie, Raptor Island (2004).

By fnord12 | January 20, 2012, 11:48 PM | Movies| Link

I've Always Advocated Lying to Your Parents

For two reasons.
1) The truth will inevitably earn you a lecture on what you're doing wrong and how this will ruin your life which you'd realize if only you weren't too stupid to see it for yourself but luckily you have parents who are wiser and aren't afraid to offer advice. Best to tell a lie that is close to what they want to hear, but not exactly because that would be too obviously a lie.


2) What they don't know, they can't use against you at some future date. It doesn't matter how innocuous you think it is, it will most certainly be used against you in some way at some point. It will come when you least expect it, and it will be in a form you could never have foreseen. Trust me.

So, as i've always advised my younger sister, LIE.

Next week's lunar new year is China's biggest festival. It can also be a major headache for those returning home without a potential spouse. Pressure on young adults to settle down goes into overdrive, as gathering family members begin the inquisition and line up possible candidates.

Taking a boyfriend or girlfriend home is a fast way to curb the speculation, which is why Li, like other twentysomethings, has hired a fake partner through an online agency.


"I don't need him to stay long, just one night, New Year's Eve, and he can just say work is busy and he has to go back the next day, like [the guy I hired] last year," she said.

There's always the chance you might be getting involved with someone untrustworthy who will turn into a stalker or a burglar or something. But when faced with the alternative - a weekend spent being made to feel guilty for upsetting your parents as well as having all your shortcomings discussed by the entire family loudly and repeatedly - i can see why they would take the chance and shell out the cash.

And, hey, is it such a strange idea? I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who asked a friend to pretend to be their SO at a wedding or reunion their ex was also attending. It's a fairly common movie theme. There's The Wedding Date, a movie about a woman who hires a male escort to play he boyfriend at her sister's wedding.

And let's not forget the lengths the characters in The Wedding Banquet go to keep the main character's parents from discovering he's gay. As we all know, if it's in a movie or on tv, it must be true.

By min | January 20, 2012, 9:25 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

Why we mainly play in our guitarist's basement nowadays

This is why i don't really try to gig anymore:

As I've been looking for gigs lately, I've never seen so many free and low paying gigs. Well the economy is bad, so I can understand that a little bit. However, it is no longer good enough for the musician to be willing to perform for little compensation. Now we are expected to also be the venue's promoter. The expectations are that the band will not only provide great music, but also bring lots of people to their venue. It is now the band's responsibility to make this happen, not the club owner.

Just the other day I was told by someone who owned a wine bar that they really liked our music and would love for us to play at their place. She then told me the gig paid $75 for a trio. Now $75 used to be bad money per person, let alone $75 for the whole band. It had to be a joke, right? No she was serious. But it didn't end there. She then informed us we had to bring 25 people minimum. Didn't even offer us extra money if we brought 25 people. I would have laughed other than it's not the first time I've gotten this proposal from club owners. But are there musicians really doing this? Yes. They are so desperate to play, they will do anything.

I don't care about the money. And i don't have any pretenses that our band is so great that club owners should be banging down our door trying to get us to play there. But the "pay to play" (or "make your friends pay to play") model seems to be the only game in town, so i don't really understand how any band gets beyond that stage, or how any clubs build up a sustainable customer base. Every gig i've been to, the audience consists entirely of the people that each band dragged to it.

Eddie Mechanic who has slaved all week fixing cars at the local dealership also plays guitar. Not very well, but he's been practicing once a week with Doctor Drummer, Banker Bass Player, and Salesman Singer. Usually they just drink beer between rehearsing a few tunes in Eddie's garage, but this week they answer a craigslist ad and line up a big gig. Well they don't sound that good, but they sure all work with a lot of people everyday. All these people can be given a flyer on Monday and after being asked "are you coming to my gig?" everyday all week, will most likely show up on Saturday night. So mission accomplished, the club owner has packed his venue for one night.

But here's where the club owner doesn't get it. The crowd is following the band, not the venue. The next night you will have to start all over again. And the people that were starting to follow your venue, are now turned off because you just made them listen to a bad band. The goal should be to build a fan base of the venue. To get people that will trust that you will have good music in there every night. Instead you've soiled your reputation for a quick fix.

It happened after I played a great night of music in LA. We were playing for a % of the bar. There were about 50 people there in this small venue, so it was a good turnout. At the end of the night, I go to get paid, and hope to book another gig. The club owner was angry. "Where are your people?" he asked. "All these people, I brought in. We had a speed dating event and they are all left over from that." I pointed out they all stayed and listened to the music for 2 hours after their event ended. That was 2 more hours of bar sales, because without us, you have an empty room with nothing going on. He just couldn't get over the fact that we didn't walk in with our own entourage of fans. Wasn't happy that we kept a full room spending money. Right when we were talking, a group of people interrupted us and said "you guys sound great, when is the next time you're playing here again?" The club owner, said "they aren't, they didn't bring anyone."

Sure, once or twice a year we can drum up enough friends and co-workers to be polite and come out and see us, but after a while i stopped seeing the point. Again, we're not professional musicians and we're probably not very good. But it seems to be a universal experience. I'm sure club owners have their own side to this story and there's no easy fix, however.

By fnord12 | January 20, 2012, 10:55 AM | Music| Link

January 19, 2012

I Just...I Mean.....Pockets! C'Mon!

Thanks to fudge005 for bringing this article to my attention.

There are a lot of annoying things about being a woman, like periods, childbirth and not being able to play basketball in a way that keeps spectators awake. But near the top of the list has got to be buying clothes.
One thing I think a lot of men take for granted is pockets. It seems like men always have pockets. They're a requirement in men's pants, men's coats always have functional pockets and I guess even men's prison jumpsuits must have them, since I hear about people smuggling goods into prison all the time.

Women's clothing manufacturers, on the other hand, seem to believe women can't be trusted with pockets. Something like 99 percent of dresses have no pockets at all, and the more formal you get, the more likely a women's coat or pants pocket is going to be a fake, decorative pocket.

What the fuck is with the decorative pocket? Is that just to fake me out? You went to the trouble of designing it. Just add a little pouch so i have somewhere to put my stuff!

I know the arguments -- "But women's clothes are so carefully cut and tailored. If you put anything in a pocket, it would bulge and look bad!" That's bullshit.
Sure, there will be unsightly bulges if they put too much in their pockets, but the solution isn't to take them away -- the solution is to trust women to have the common sense to not put a bag of rocks in their pocket. These pockets are just fine for carrying a key or some cash or credit cards, and it's stupid to not give anyone that option because some idiot might try to put, I don't know, night-vision goggles or a piece of cake in their pocket.

If you're interested in finding out what the other 6 things are about women's clothing that baffles the author the most, read the rest here. She even throws in a nod to Liefeld (Liefeld!! Arrgghh!!! *shakes fist*)

By min | January 19, 2012, 6:38 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

January 17, 2012

Group Work Stifles Genius

We here at SuperMegaMonkey fully support The Introvert. See here if you have an introvert, and you're worried about how to properly care for them.

That said, here's an article about why having to work in groups all the time sucks. (h/t wnkr, a fellow introvert)

Research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption. And the most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted, according to studies by the psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist. They're extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic. They're not joiners by nature.
And yet. The New Groupthink has overtaken our workplaces, our schools and our religious institutions. Anyone who has ever needed noise-canceling headphones in her own office or marked an online calendar with a fake meeting in order to escape yet another real one knows what I'm talking about. Virtually all American workers now spend time on teams and some 70 percent inhabit open-plan offices, in which no one has "a room of one's own." During the last decades, the average amount of space allotted to each employee shrank 300 square feet, from 500 square feet in the 1970s to 200 square feet in 2010.
Studies show that open-plan offices make workers hostile, insecure and distracted. They're also more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, stress, the flu and exhaustion. And people whose work is interrupted make 50 percent more mistakes and take twice as long to finish it.

Many introverts seem to know this instinctively, and resist being herded together. [yay, introverts! --min]


Solitude can even help us learn...Conversely, brainstorming sessions are one of the worst possible ways to stimulate creativity...The "evidence from science suggests that business people must be insane to use brainstorming groups," wrote the organizational psychologist Adrian Furnham. "If you have talented and motivated people, they should be encouraged to work alone when creativity or efficiency is the highest priority."

The reasons brainstorming fails are instructive for other forms of group work, too. People in groups tend to sit back and let others do the work; they instinctively mimic others' opinions and lose sight of their own; and, often succumb to peer pressure. The Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns found that when we take a stance different from the group's, we activate the amygdala, a small organ in the brain associated with the fear of rejection. Professor Berns calls this "the pain of independence."

The one important exception to this dismal record is electronic brainstorming, where large groups outperform individuals; and the larger the group the better. The protection of the screen mitigates many problems of group work. This is why the Internet has yielded such wondrous collective creations. Marcel Proust called reading a "miracle of communication in the midst of solitude," and that's what the Internet is, too. It's a place where we can be alone together -- and this is precisely what gives it power.

Remember having to do group projects in school and there was always that one slacker you ended up with who never did anything so the rest of you had to do more work since your grade was riding on it? Grr...

I've rarely attended a meeting at work where actual things were decided on, where progress was made. They usually end up being 2 hours of saying the same 3 things over and over again because people aren't paying attention, or they are paying attention but they don't understand words unless they're coming out of their own mouths. And then we all get assigned some task that's part of the bigger project and told to go work on it for the next meeting. You know what? Could you have just emailed that task to me so i could save myself the trouble of wasting those 2 hours of my life that i will never get back?

The author of this article also wrote a book titled "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking". I'm thinking of buying copies and just leaving them everywhere. I don't know why i'm thinking that. It just seems the thing to do.

By min | January 17, 2012, 11:41 AM | Ummm... Other?| Link

January 12, 2012

NYT Wonders If It's Objective and Fair to Call Out Lies

**Update below**

I read this and it made my brain bleed.

I'm looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge "facts" that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.
[S]ome readers who, fed up with the distortions and evasions that are common in public life, look to The Times to set the record straight. They worry less about reporters imposing their judgment on what is false and what is true.

Is that the prevailing view? And if so, how can The Times do this in a way that is objective and fair? Is it possible to be objective and fair when the reporter is choosing to correct one fact over another?

Who is Arthur Brisbane and why is he a moron? More importantly, why is a moron given a forum in which he can share his idiocy with the world? Why is he allowed to write for a paper when he doesn't even know what words mean?

This is what Dictionary.com says about the definition of "fact."

fact  [fakt]


  1. something that actually exists; reality; truth: Your fears have no basis in fact.

  2. something known to exist or to have happened: Space travel is now a fact.

  3. a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true: Scientists gather facts about plant growth.

  4. something said to be true or supposed to have happened: The facts given by the witness are highly questionable.

    A fact is something that's true, something based on reality. You can't be subjective about a fact. Something either is a fact or it's not. Have we really sunk so low that we can no longer distinguish between what is real and what is made up? That a NYT editor has to write a letter to the readers to ask if it's right to point out when something is untrue? What is wrong with his brain? I know what's wrong with my brain. Arthur Brisbane made it bleed.

    We're not talking about calling out things that might be an opinion the journalist disagrees with. That would be wrong and certainly subjective and should be reserved for op-eds. We're talking about pointing out someone claiming they never voted for Bill XYZ when they did or saying Obama is to blame for some tax or bill when it was voted on prior to his taking office.

    What the bloody hell, people? Where's my electric mace? I need to go talk to some people about the facts.

    UPDATE: Brisbane posted an update to his original post and it includes a response from a NYT executive editor, Jill Abramson. Brisbane tries to clarify his original question, affecting the pained expressions of someone who's been terribly misunderstood.

    Both Abramson and Brisbane claim that ofc the NYT fact checks, der.

    But, i think this commenter gives a perfect example of how the NYT doesn't challege distortions of truth:

    The Times regularly quotes politicians saying that "Social Security is going broke," or words to that effect. Never, never to my knowledge, has the Times pointed out that Social Security cannot go broke because its outlays are funded by current contributions. Never have I read a Times reporter point out that it is the Social Security Trust Fund that is underfunded. Never, to my knowledge, has a Times reporter actually, you know, reported,that the shortfall is relatively small and that the Social Security Administration projects that the Trust Fund is solvent into the 2030's. Never has a Times reporter interviewed a left of center analyst who would point out that lifting the cap on annual FICA contributions would easily cure the shortfall.

    Above all, the Times regularly lets politicians say that the money in the Trust Fund was borrowed and spent as part of the regular budget. Of course it was -- by design. The Trust Fund has been saved in the most secure investment in the world: in special issue US Treasury bonds. That is, it was lent to the US Government. The idea that the US Treasury is not going to pay what it owes the Social Security Administration is ludicrous. But Times reporters continue to report the "going broke" line without any correction at all.

    So check my facts, if you like, and then explain why you continue to give "Social Security is going broke," a pass.

    i think i'll stick with my original decision to bring my electric mace along to "fix" things. (it totally works for Hawkgirl in the Justice League cartoon. she's my hero.)

    By min | January 12, 2012, 2:19 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

    January 11, 2012

    It's hard to dismiss a chocobo

    Final Fantasy Tactics: Fight fight fight! And keep on fighting.  Am I wrong?

    We were surprised to realize that we've been remembering the phrase wrong. We thought it was "Fight fight fight! And never give up!". Possibly conflating it with Ellis' end-phrase from Battle Arena Toshinden.

    By fnord12 | January 11, 2012, 9:30 PM | Video Games| Link

    Final Fantasy Tactics: Where Athiesm is a deadly weapon

    Final Fantasy Tactics: Secular Alternatives

    By fnord12 | January 11, 2012, 9:21 PM | Video Games| Link

    Only because it was requested

    My finger. Not for the squeamish.

    By fnord12 | January 11, 2012, 9:17 PM | My stupid life| Link

    We're all socialists now

    Considering what i do for a living, i can't complain that Romney had a job in the past that involved laying people off. But his primary opponents can. And Romney's defense is good for Socialists Democrats everyone in the long run.


    Presumably Team Romney's plan to combat attacks over Bain Capital has always been to paint anyone raising the issue as a loony left-wing extremist.

    However, the barrage has come earlier than expected, and from some unexpected opponents, including Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich.

    That hasn't stopped Romney's backers from responding with their original plan. So tonight brought us some amazing moments. Who'd ever have thought you'd see Fox News' Sean Hannity tell Perry he sounds "like something out of Occupy Wall Street"? Or Romney surrogate John Sununu dropping the "Socialist!" S-bomb on Newt?

    Eventually the charge of "socialist" becomes so vague as to render it meaningless, or people start thinking, "Hey, it's socialist to put restrictions on mass layoffs? Maybe socialism isn't so bad.".

    By fnord12 | January 11, 2012, 9:06 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

    January 10, 2012

    SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

    I have mangled one of my fingers in a blender, so i apologize if there are (more) typos (than usual).

    Hulk #47 - Parker has done a great job making me like the Red Hulk, so we'll see if he can do the same for Red She-Hulk, but so far it hasn't happened. Betty comes off particularly unlikeable (one might say Harpy-ish) and the way she was written didn't leave a lot of room for character development. But it's only the start of this arc. Speaking of characters Parker has convinced me to like, i'm enjoying the Zero/One plot. I really liked the "Why has he come? I abandoned hostilities with him." line. I also like that Machine Man seems to have joined the cast of this book (still waiting for a reconciliation with the Warren Ellis personality).

    Avengers annual #1 - The previous installment of this came out in September(!), where it became clear that, whatever Bendis' intentions, Wonder Man had essentially no case, and nothing in this issue contradicts that, making the crazification of Wondy the only lasting effect of this story, especially since the rest of Wondy's group folded with no resolution to their complaints (and the characterization of Erik Josten seems terrible, but i'm probably missing Thunderbolts issues that make it ok). The idea that he's really only a construct of the Scarlet Witch or that his resurrection was somehow tainted feels like a knock on the Busiek story that i don't think was warranted. If i recall correctly, Wonder Man appeared along with a Legion of the Unliving, but Wanda detected that unlike the others he wasn't really dead and she was able to hex him back to full life. If she was just re-writing reality, she would have brought back Dr. Druid and the rest too. The whole complaint seems to be based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the Scarlet Witch's powers; something that it looked like the Children's Crusade might be addressing but with one issue left i'm not so sure. Anyway... rambling. The art was a bit disappointing as well. I remember liking the painted look of the previous annual, but this issue seemed... i don't want to say rushed about a book that they clearly took their time putting out. But you had that completely wasted two pages with a giant spread of Wonder Man and Iron Man facing off, and then, in the very next panel Iron Man is holding up the defeated Wonder Man-ball. When i start checking to make sure pages weren't stuck together, that's bad storytelling.

    Villains for Hire #2 - Yeah yeah yeah! Good stuff! And i don't just mean Paladin getting his ass kicked.

    Thunderbolts #168 - I feel like the cover is very specifically advertising Luke Cage as a selling point as if he were Spidey or Wolverine, which is interesting. Not a bad thing; i've always liked the character and i'm glad he has a higher profile nowadays, but it's amazing what an Avengers membership can do for you. As for this issue, i've never loved Mr. Fear/Nightmare/D'Spayre stories where scary montage scenes substitute for actual character development, and the Back To The Future II "homage" was a little silly (especially since it seems to answer the fun time travel philosophy questions that were raised in previous issues), but i still think this is my favorite book right now. Oh, and what the hell: what idiot thought they should kill off Montana? Do i have that and missed it or what? You can't really have an Enforcers without Montana, and you need to have an Enforcers. Well, i guess we're on like Ox IV, so i guess we'll just have to have a Montana II.

    By fnord12 | January 10, 2012, 10:06 PM | Comics | Comments (3) | Link

    January 9, 2012

    Our guy


    Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey is holding up President Obama's nomination of a judge to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the only time a Democrat has tried to block one of Mr. Obama's judicial nominees.

    Mr. Menendez would not comment. But the nominee, Patty Shwartz, has been in a relationship for more than two decades with the head of the public corruption unit for New Jersey's federal prosecutor. And that unit investigated the senator during his 2006 election fight, an inquiry Mr. Menendez has long contended was politically motivated.

    Judge Shwartz, now a federal magistrate judge in Newark, a lower-level position, declined to comment. But the connection has led lawyers and judges in the state to speculate that Mr. Menendez is acting out of resentment, rather than any concern about Judge Shwartz's qualifications.

    "Every lawyer in the world will tell you that she's extraordinarily qualified, a decent person and an excellent judge, and would be an asset to the circuit," said Tom Curtin, the chairman of the lawyers' advisory committee for the United States District Court for New Jersey. "This was going to be words and music for her, then something happened."

    He really needs to go.

    By fnord12 | January 9, 2012, 11:43 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

    January 4, 2012

    The continued saga of Graduation Woman-Man

    Graduation Woman-Man

    The madness never ends. See also here and here.

    By fnord12 | January 4, 2012, 11:57 PM | Comics| Link

    Yeti Crab

    Although, calling it "the Hoff crab" is also pretty awesome.

    UK scientists have found prodigious numbers of a new crab species on the Southern Ocean floor that they have dubbed "The Hoff" because of its hairy chest.
    Yeti crabs were first identified in the southern Pacific and are recognised for their hairs, or setae, along their claws and limbs that they use to cultivate the bacteria which they then eat.

    h/t wnkr

    By min | January 4, 2012, 12:49 PM | Science & TeeVee| Link

    SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

    Annihilators: Earthfall #4 - This series was such a waste. I read it and all i can see is the potential for increasing the readership of Abnett & Lanning's space stories getting flushed down the toilet. Well, i see that, and i see this:

    I don't meant to pick on the Valkyrie.  They're all drawn like this.

    Eaaaaaagh!! How did this not end with a revelation that everyone in the series was attacked by Masque from the Morlocks?

    Captain America #5 - It's a good story, but i'm disturbed by the fact that half the book is drawn very nicely by Niven and the other half is this weird sketchy stuff by Camuncoli. But... it is a good story. And luckily...

    Captain America #6 - ...here's some more of it, and this time with great art by Alan Davis. I do like this alternate-dimension Hydra queen, and the fact that she and the Bravo guy (Do i have to call him Codename: Bravo? Is that his full name?) are pointing out actual real-world problems with the politics in the US and using that against Cap. Shades of Englehart; it's something that should be done more in this book. Similarly, it's nice to see the reference to interactions with this world's version of Hydra and the fact that "Queen" Hydra is successfully recruiting away goons on the basis of her more political message.

    Avengers: The Children's Crusade #8 - I really was going along with this book, but it's issue 8 of 9 and i don't know where it's going. I thought this was going to be a restoration of the Scarlet Witch and an undoing of House of M, but so far it's been a lot of the Young Avengers standing around on the sidelines while the X-Men and Avengers fight things and/or each other, so even if the series does accomplish those things in the final issue, it's going to feel somewhat out of nowhere. And if it's not going to do those things, i don't understand the point. It sure wasn't to spotlight the YA characters. Also, Doom referencing the time he stole the Beyonder's power was not a good move, because this issue's plot really was a re-hash of that, and despite the fact that Doom says that he's even more powerful now than that time, it's worth remembering that in that Secret Wars issue he annihilated the combined hero forces with a single action. No one had an opportunity to shrink down to ant size and buzz around in his ear or anything. He was actually omnipotent then, not just really big and talking a lot. Oh well. I had high hopes for this series. Oh and why is everyone, like, wet and covered in mud or something?

    Alpha Flight #7 - Readers, i didn't even notice that Heather had four toes. Ok? And i didn't breeze past the panel. I stared at it, asked myself, 'why are they showing me this panel? is she drawing a message in the sand with her foot?'. So take all my reviews with a grain of salt; i'm clearly not qualified to review anything. But i did enjoy this. Fun, funny, nice turnabouts, great to see the hero's scheme working out, "Squatch smash puny Canadians", and decent-to-good art (i generally like it and think the storytelling is good, but something about the character poses and faces feels a little stiff, like maybe there's too much of a reliance on posed reference photos or something?).

    By fnord12 | January 4, 2012, 12:39 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

    Comic Movie Reviews

    Min and i had a Bad Marvel Movie Marathon during our holiday feasting, and here's some quick thoughts on the movies. We watched them in order of anticipated watch-ability, so that as we got more tired the movies would get better to compensate, but that's not quite how it worked out.

    Ghost Rider - This was surprisingly watchable. Deliberately campy, but that's a good thing. Took a little too long to get started with the kid Johnny Blaze instead of Nicholas Cage, but any movie that Sam Elliott narrates can't be that bad. Ghost Rider looked awesome, in my opinion. I don't know why they resisted making Blackheart look just as true to the comics. Fun. I won't wait so long to watch the sequel.

    Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer - This was absolutely awful. After giving it maybe 20 minutes, we watched the rest in fast forward, hoping for a cool Surfer/Doom fight or something but no such luck. We knew that Galactus was just going to be a big cloud (why??) but i wasn't prepared for Dr. Doom to walk around maskless the entire movie. Still, this wasn't just untrue to the comics, which at this point i'm used to, but it was just a bad movie. The director obviously thought he could get a lot of mileage out of things like the Thing burping, Mr. Fantastic dancing, a camel leering at the Human Torch after a pratfall, etc. etc., but it just made the whole thing feel like the worst type of super-hero movie from the 80s and 90s. And the whole Reed/Sue relationship thing was done so poorly.

    X-Men Origins: Wolverine - I thought this one started off really well. Even the stuff from the Origins comic was done decently, and then the strike force team was introduced well and the break-up played out ok too. Deadpool (in the first half of the movie) was a standout character. Then it got a little campy with the Blob, and then when Wolverine goes to the island it got a little slow. It seemed like he just kept standing around trying to decide what to do while people kept revealing secrets to him. Not very Wolverine-y. Finally, the return of Deadpool and, ummm... that was stupid. Take the mouth away from the funniest guy in the movie? And turn Deadpool into Mimic... why? So overall, mixed feelings on this one.

    X-Men First Class is next on the queue, and min has never seen the 1990s Captain America movie...

    By fnord12 | January 4, 2012, 12:14 AM | Comics & Movies | Comments (1) | Link

    Vegan Gravy

    1/3 cup oil
    1/2 cup flour
    4 cups vegetable broth
    Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (whistling Scarborough Fair is optional)

    Heat up an empty saucepan on medium heat and then add the oil. Slowly add the flour a small bit at a time and beat it with a wire whisk until it is fully absorbed, then add more. I am told this is called making a "roux". Then do the same thing with the broth: add a small bit at a time and whisk it, then add more. The broth will steam and burn your hands. Be a man and keep whisking. Only Frank Zappa makes good lumpy gravy.

    Season with the herbs to taste. Go easy on the rosemary; a little of that goes a long way.

    The gravy will thicken as it sits, so don't worry if it looks too watery after you've added all the broth. It's actually a good thing to make early in your big meal prep and then you can heat it up again at the end.

    For oil, i prefer olive but canola will do if that's all you have. The type of flour you use will affect the consistency and flavor. We normally use white wheat, but regular white flour or wheat flour will produce good results too.

    For vegetable broth, i like using Rapunzel bouillon cubes, but i suppose any vegetable broth would do, even a couple cans of Swanson. Since we use bouillon, the broth is usually already hot or at least warm when we're adding it. If you are using something out of a can or similar, you may want to heat it up first. Adding cold liquid to the roux will make it more likely your gravy comes out lumpy.

    When i halve the recipe, i still use the same amount of oil.

    By fnord12 | January 4, 2012, 12:01 AM | Vegan Vittles| Link

    January 3, 2012

    Ah, the classics

    It's tradition for min and me to play a tactical role playing game on our winter break. This year we tried both Enchanted Arms and Tales of Vespia, but they were both terrible (for different reasons), so we went back to the basics. Final Fantasy Tactics! The NPCs may be unreasonable...

    It's not your fault.  But I'll keep blaming you...

    ...but the gameplay is fantastic.

    By fnord12 | January 3, 2012, 11:56 PM | Video Games| Link

    Bath Time, Popo!

    Our new dryer has a steam setting.

    All of the friends are going to get baths now.

    By min | January 3, 2012, 12:41 PM | Cute Things & My stupid life| Link

    January 2, 2012

    I Made A Sock

    And in another 4 months, i might even be done with the other sock.

    fnord12: Do you feel that this is a good use of your time?


    By min | January 2, 2012, 10:16 PM | My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link

    January 1, 2012

    How would i fix Mr Fantastic's super-human intelligence?

    I was invited to write a guest post at FanFix. My post is about bringing Reed Richards back down to non-godlike intelligence, but be sure to check out the regular How Would You Fix...? posts as well as there's a lot of interesting ideas.

    By fnord12 | January 1, 2012, 6:05 PM | Comics| Link

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