I haven’t written anything for this here website sing I did the “Of the Month” of June (many days late I might add). What gives?
Well, I must confess: I have been writing. Just not here. Instead…
Oni Press Open Submissions!
I was writing a comic book pitch to submit to Oni Press’s Open Submissions!
Yes, that Oni Press, the comic book company that originally published Scott Pilgrim, and that is currently publishing Junior Braves of the Apocalypse, the comic book co-written by my pal (and retired Green Fool) Michael Tanner:
The Green Fool writes comics. Why not the Purple Fool…?
So we’ll see! If they like it, there might just be two Fools who are writing comics in 2015.
There’s one thing for sure, though: I like it. And I don’t just mean the pitch that I sent. I mean the process of writing something more than a blog post or an article or a movie review (which I haven’t done in over a year now).
I’ve always really enjoyed writing. One of my favorite days in college was when I wrote over 100 pages of a screenplay in one day. Writing little things for this website and doing Fools Play have kinda kept a lid on my creative cravings for the past many years, but now it’s becoming an itch that must be scratched. I feel I have to write something. Something real and substantial.
So I’m going to take the month of July off from doing anything seriously creative (which means you might get some more posts on this here website), but starting in August I’m going to back off from thisischris.com again to concentrate my creative energies in a different direction.
Video Game of the Month: Steven Universe: Attack the Light
This is a rather fun li’l turn-based RPG based on one of the best cartoons in existence right now, Steven Universe. The controls are very intuitive and easy, leveling-up is natural enough that you never need to grind (very important to me), and the animations and voices (all the voice actors/actresses from the cartoon) are great. It’s not bad at all for $2.99, and it’s a great companion piece that manages to capture much of the charm of the cartoon. Available on a mobile device near you.
Restaurant of the Month: Ice Cream Social
It’s gettin’ hot out there… so instead of taking off all yer clothes, why not get some delicious iced cream? For many a year Ice Cream Social was only available in food cart form, but a while back they opened up a permanent, brick-and-mortar ice cream parlor on the bustling 6th Ave in Tacoma. Results seem to be very positive: there’s often a line out the door on warm days. There’s a good combination of permanent standard flavors as well as a menu of rotating experimental flavors (like strawberry-balsamic). It ain’t cheap, but it’s supremely high-quality.
An example Ice Cream Social menu.
Website of the Month: Day of the Shirt
You know how there are now a bunch of different websites that offer cool/nerdy/geeky T-shirts that are pretty cheap (usually $10-$12) but are only available for about 24 hours? You probably know about one or two of those sites, but there are gobs of them. And it would be a real pain to keep track of them all… except for this website, that aggregates them all for you. Updated every hour, refreshed every day. Now you need never miss out on any geeky shirt you could possibly want!
Nintendo is doing something super-smart with Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U. They’re releasing DLC (DownLoadable Content) for it. They’ve never really done this before for their Mario Karts, and it is a simple and genius idea. Instead of coming out with a new Mario Kart every few years, just come out with some new tracks and new drivers periodically! KEEP THINGS FRESH!
The first DLC came out last Fall, and I wrote about that here. The second DLC recently came out, and here are some thoughts about the new tracks and drivers. And then you can watch a 1-minute recap video of each of the new tracks! NEAT!
First off, the new drivers!
Animal Crossing Villagers!
YES!!1!! The second character (after link) who doesn’t come directly from a Mario game, the Villagers from the Animal Crossing series of games are now here to race around! You can choose either a boy or a girl. They’re kinda medium-weight characters, but they come with the absolutely awesome beetle-themed kart called the “Streetle.” Just look!
So cute! I lorve it!
Isabelle was a character introduced in the 3DS Animal Crossing: New Leaf. She’s the Mayor’s assistant, unfailingly polite and encouraging. She’s a bit lighter than the Villagers.
Dry Bowser is a skeletonized version of Bowser, duh. He… I gotta be honest: I haven’t played as Dry Bowser yet. But why would I when I can play as frikkin’ ANIMAL CROSSING CHARACTERS!?
Baby Park (Gamecube)
This was my all-time favorite Double-Dash track! Why? It seems so simple (and short), I know. But that’s precisely why. In Baby Park the racers are always so bunched up that it’s impossible to break away from them; as soon as you get ahead you start lapping those left behind. And it’s an oddity in that there are 7 laps instead of the standard 3. On the Gamecube it frequently got crazy as the high-powered items would be used by the slowest drivers, who could be anywhere on the loop. Mario Kart 8 doesn’t have quite the diversity of items as Double-Dash did, so I don’t know if it will get as crazy (I haven’t played it on 150 or 200 yet).
Cheese Land (GBA)
I must admit I have absolutely no recollection of this track. But I never played much of the GBA Mario Kart. But cheese is my favorite food. And this is a pretty neat track, with three different shortcuts built in (helps if you have mushrooms, of course).
This is the prettiest of the Village Cup tracks. It seems like there are some great background details always going on around the edges of the screen, especially when you pass through a village of Shyguys. There is some good use of anti-gravity in this track, too, some nice curves and jumps, and a flowing water section. It’s a solidly-put-together track.
Take a leisurely drive through an idyllic town. This is a very simple course that takes you through typical Animal Crossing locales: some trees, some beach, some town square, past a museum, etc. Apparently there are four different versions of this course, one for each season, each with their own obstacles and slight differences (though not in course shape—that stays the same). So far the game has only presented me with the “summer” version, though. I guess I’ll just have to keep playing it. OH NO. I do think there were some missed opportunities here, though. How fun would it have been to race through the museum, what with all the dinosaur skeletons and bugs and artwork? That’s could have been an amazing stretch of racetrack.
Neo Bowser City (3DS)
This was a good track on the 3DS. This version has an absolutely gorgeous rain effect added for extra moodiness. Look at how it creates drops and streaks on the camera! Lots of long, spiraling drifts in this one.
Ribbon Road (GBA)
Again, a track I don’t remember very well. But this one is pretty durned stunning, visually. I could scour the backgrounds all day for all of the Mario characters turned into toys, and all of the fun references and Easter-eggy stuff. The track is divided into parts (each with its own color of ribbon roadway). There are some neat shortcuts you don’t need a mushroom to catch, and the undulating road is fun.
Super Bell Subway
The “traffic” course of the group, this one has you navigating around and against a couple of subway trains. But in a neat twist, there is actually a part where if everything times out just right you can drop down on top of a subway train and drive along its roof! This track also has copious excellent background details, especially in the graffiti that litters the underground tunnels.
The second F-Zero course to make its way into Mario Kart, this one is not divided into laps, but rather is one long, undulating course of anti-gravity goodtimes. I tend to like these long, lap-less courses because of the sheer amount of variety you’ll find. Take a wook:
And there you have it. Eight new courses, bringing the grand total up to a bulging 48 total.
Nintendo also did something very interesting: they added a 200cc speed class, making the carts even faster than in the previously-fastest 150cc. It’s pretty nutz (with a Z). It’s impossible without braking to take many of the turns that used be simple! It’s a smart addition to the ouvre, and gives each of the 48 tracks some new life!
My pal Travis is a comic book creator. He is probably best known as the writer/artist of “Jeff,” a comedy/fantasy mini-series that came out a couple years ago. Well, he has now completed a new project and has created an IndieGoGo campaign to raise the funds to get it printed.
It’s called “Billy Love Nibbles.” Here’s the (slightly edited-down) pitch:
It’s a graphic novel about a simple-minded young man (Billy) who lives in a dilapidated part of the city with his Momma. He is imbued with the ideas of treating all things smaller than himself with gentleness and compassion and , most importantly, if you make a mistake you should apologize and make it right.
Fate drops in and delivers a cold and hungry pug puppy into their lives. Nibbles changes everything, and now Billy doesn’t feel so alone and the world around them isn’t so bleak.
But things can change fast in the city… one day a local drug dealer, while running from a rival gang, accidentally hits Nibbles with his car. Billy was always taught to make things right if you make a mistake, so he decides to ask the dealer (Bump) to do the same. But when he confronts Bump, it begins a chain reaction of violent encounters that could threaten not only Billy’s life, but the lives of those around him.
But Billy knows no fear and he is unrelenting in his quest to bring his little friend back home to him. He only knows “Billy Love Nibbles” and will stop at nothing to make things right.
If you’re on the fence about it, this might push you over: a percentage of every book sold will be donated to the ASPCA and the Humane Society.
So if you wanna read a tale of a simple man’s love for a dog (and also some rather gory violence), then you should support this project!
TV Show of the Month:
Hot-damn, this is how you do Daredevil. This show is dark. Dark. Horrible things happen to good people. Routinely. The heroes are mostly powerless, and lose more than they win (for the most part). The villain is a complex, developed character. Lies, betrayals, good ol’ Catholic guilt, and bloody, bloody beatings. All the performances are just spot-on, especially Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, AKA Kingpin. He’s like a gigantic tea kettle that is constantly in danger of boiling over, but at the same time is genuinely shy and uncomfortable around other people, and especially in public. Even though at times it is a grueling experience, it is an amazing show.
Album of the Month:
They Might Be Giants: Glean
They Might Be Giants have a new non-children’s album! And it’s very strong. The worst songs on this album drop only to the level of “average TMBG songs,” which still put them light-years ahead of most any other songs in existence. And the best songs are absolutely stellar. My favorite is “End of the Rope,” which has a very cool, almost-spy vibe to it and a wonderful lyric cadence. Also fantastic are “Madam, I Challenge You to A Duel” and “Hate the Villanelle” (which is actually a 100% correct villanelle, a very strict poetic form). But really all 15 songs are good stuff.
Documentary of the Month:
Atari: Game Over
A fascinating urban legend among nerdy circles is the tragic tale of the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial video game for the Atari 2600. A huge bomb, it was critically and commercially panned, and Atari was stuck with warehouses full of unsold cartridges. Legend says they were unceremoniously buried in a landfill in New Mexico. The whole tale is symbolic of the home video game crash of the early 1980s, which wouldn’t be rescued until the NES hit the scene. This documentary is part historical—tracing the rise-and-fall of Atari and the 2600’s place in nerd history, as well as the personal history of the programmer who actually created the E.T. video game—and part mystery. Did this landfill event actually happen? Can it be found? There is a surprising amount of build-up and suspense!
Also that episode were Smokey Brights, who were very good! I don’t think I’d seen them before, but they seemed familiar. I think that’s because most of the band members were also in other bands, and I’d seen some o’ those. An unusually cool thing about Smokey Brights is that it is a five-person band (which is unusual in itself these days), and four out of the five sing. There were many songs that featured full four-part harmonies!
I did not manage to take good enough photos to make an animated .GIF out of them. I did, however, make this cool little collage:
A collage both smokey and bright!
So here is probably the most-epic animated .GIF I’ve made yet. It’s of JM+FFD. It’s over 5 MB. And it features subtle camera movements and everything!
The Epicness of Animation!
There you have it. I’ll let you know when this episode of “Band in Seattle” airs.
Whelp, we’re off to Portland for the weekend. We’re gonna go to OMSI and the Oregon Zoo! I’ll try to take mucho de photos and tell y’all ALL about it, ‘kay? ‘Kay!
But tonight it is JM+FFD’s turn, along with Seattle stalwart band Smokey Brights. Wait a minute, you say. You just typed “Julia Massey & The Five Finger Discount.” Don’t you mean just Julia Massey and Dom on drums? NOT SO, my little friend. For you see, although bassist Geoff B. Gibbs has moved to the far beyond of Canada (and is currently on a whirlwind tour of the European Continent of Europe), it seems that he is not the only bassist in all the land. *GASP* I know! ‘Tis true! Julia and Dom have procured the services of another bassist, known only as the mysterious “Matt Deason.”
Who is this mysterious stranger?
This will be the first performance of a fully-fledged Five Finger Discount since November of last year, so that’s gotta be pretty exciting! I AM EXCITE! They promise to play “one of our throwbacks, a handful of our current favorites, and, as always, a new song or two”
Band in Seattle presents Julia Massey and Smokey Brights (Facebook Event)
Wednesday, April 8th 6:00 PM
@ Victory Studios:
2247 15th Ave West, Seattle, Washington 98119 (map)
All-Ages (I’m pretty sure)
$5 Studend, $10 Regular (tickets)
I will be there. I plan on leaving straight from work to get there on time. SO CAN YOU!