Artist of the Month: James “GoshaDole” Franzen
James Franzen is a local (Olympia) web designer, graphic designer, animator, and artist who has developed a really cool, chibi, pseudo-anime style. His characters tend to have very large, circular heads with nubby hands and feet (think PowerPuff Girls hands). He has prints of most of his work available on his storenvy shop, my favorite of which is this collection of chibi versions of all the Robot Masters from Mega Man 1 through 10:
Your basic Tower Defense game (2D version) — you send out waves of your troops to the right to destroy the enemy’s castle, while the enemy sends out waves of troops to the left to destroy your castle. They meet somewhere in the middle for massacre/massacre funtimes. The selling point of Cartoon Wars is that they’re all stick figures and cartoony monsters. But what is so addicting about this game is the vast options of troops and castle upgrades you can purchase. It makes it a really engaging resource management game: should I spend my gold on a troop upgrade? A new type of troop? Making my tower’s defense better? Its offense? The difficulty scales nicely, although sometimes if you choose unwisely you can get stuck on a level for a LONG time while you try to rack up the moneys to upgrade troops to fight your way out of it. I find it hard to put down.
Tweeter of the Month: The Iron Sheik
Yes, the REAL Iron Sheik. The professional wrestler who fought Hulk Hogan and whose dreaded “Camel Clutch” finishing submission move threatened to break your back and make you humble. He now has a completely uncensored twitter feed that is brutally hilarious and written in the same accent as Sheik’s verbal speeches. It is also very NSFW. I had a hard time finding any example tweets to embed, because they usually involve telling people (or the readers) to go f**k themselves. Here’s the best I could do:
Tweeter of the Month: Chrissy Teigen
Yes, she’s a model, and yes, she’s married to John Legend. And, yes, she’s mostly nekkid in her Twitter profile picture. But she also happens to be whip-smart and one of the funniest people on Twitter right now. She is biting, acerbic, and very charming, and she has no fear of sliding into the vulgar and/or scatalogical territories of twitter (i.e., some NSFW stuffs). I enjoy it. Perhaps so can you to do?
We need a name for the disease that apparently forces people to comment on your battery life in screenshots.
James Franco has always seemed a bit of a paradox; he comes off as a doofy, grinning, slacker type, but he periodically gets nominated for Golden Globes and Oscars and other prestigious acting awards. And then he appears on a soap opera. His Instagram feed is similarly all over the place, running from bizarre and funny things he’s found on the internets to plugging his appearance in Of Mice and Men on Broadway. But it’s all very friendly and personable, and like Franco himself, you can tell that no publicist or agent or manager has the tiniest bit of influence over what shows up:
Neil Gaiman wrote a poem, a prayer to a newborn little girl (the daughter of Tori Amos originally) that she may grow up to be strong, wise, independent, and fun:
Keep her from spindles and sleeps at sixteen;
Let her stay waking and wise.
There might be a four-month-old reason why this book resonates so much with me… it is seriously beautiful, with Charles Vess’s gorgeously detailed but not literal illustrations. Chokes me up a li’l. You know.
Book of the Month: Urville by Gilles Tréhin
An incredibly fascinating book. Gilles Tréhin is an autistic savant. For years and years he has been painstakingly designing, conceptualizing, and drawing a fictional city on a fictional Mediterranean island: Urville. Gilles creates the entire fictional history of this city from its founding through today, and has painstakingly detailed and perspective-accurate drawings of all of its districts throughout the course of its history. The amount of detail in both the renderings and the history is truly astonishing, and the drawings are all internally consistent with one another. Here’s a sample drawing:
Pont des Investitures (Investiture Bride), built in 1138.
And there are some 300 drawings in this book.
Movie of the Month: Pacific Rim
Guillermo del Toro does giant robots (Jaegers) vs giant monsters (kaiju) in a rain-soaked, near-future Earth. The results are not terribly surprising, but pretty spectacular nonetheless. This is the first live-action giant robot movie that I can think of that is actually good. Del Toro’s mastery of the visual medium is supreme, and the look and feel of the movie is incredible. The design team did an excellent job of not mimicking any specific robot or monster source, and the results somehow pay homage to almost every giant robot. The ultimate pastiche, the ultimate tribute, but still Pacific Rim manages to stand on its own and not be beholden to its influences. Plus it’s danged good fun.
Video Game of the Month: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
A sequel to the incredibly-highly-regarded A Link to the Past, this Link Between Worlds ups the technology with a fully 3D environment (confined usually to the standard 2D overhead view of the classic Zelda games) and silky smooth graphics and sound. It’s a pretty standard Zelda story about the seven sages, with some nice twists including a recurring art theme and the ability that Link gains early to turn into animated, 2D wall art. Seriously! I haven’t yet beaten it, but it is a lot of fun.
Book of the Month: The Stench of Honolulu: A Tropical Adventure by Jack Handey
Jack Handey is perhaps best known as the creator of the “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey” series of interstitials that aired on Saturday Night Live in the 1990s. This novel is my favorite kind of humor. It is completely surreal, cartoony, and every single paragraph has a joke in it. Such as:
When you have a real treasure map in your hand, all sorts of thoughts go through your head. The first is, Don’t lose the map. The second is, Hey, what happened to the map? The third is, Oh, yeah, I gave it to Don. The fourth is, Hey, where’d Don go? The fifth is, Oh, there he is.
Basically, imagine that all of the “Deep Thoughts” were thought by one person. Now put him into an “adventure” in a jungle. This book isn’t going to be for everyone, but if you love weirdly stylized and unrealistic things like Cabin Boy and Pushing Daisies, then you’re probably going to love this book with all parts of your body.
Tabletop Game of the Month: Castle Panic
A cooperative board game! Everyone collaborates to defend a castle in the center of the board from hordes of monsters that encroach from the surrounding forest. It seems complicated at first, but at its core is surprisingly simple to learn, and there are enough variants to the happenings that it stays consistently fresh. It’s also unsurprisingly satisfying to work together towards a common victory rather than competing for the win.
It was also featured in one of the early episodes of Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop webseries:
Christmas Special of the Month: Adventure Time: “Holly Jolly Secrets”
Even though Christmas is never mentioned by name, all of the trappings are there in this two-part episode from the 3rd season of Adventure Time. We get some great backstory on the Ice King, and there are some real heart-felt moments. What’s that? The 3rd season of Adventure Time isn’t available on DVD or BluRay? Well, don’t worry; it comes out in February and you can pre-order itnow!
Details: DOB: 11/1/13 4:00 AM
Weight: 10 lbs, 12 oz (!!)
In order to keep this website from becoming just a baby blog, I have created a separate website just for our wee baby Avery: www.averyfharris.com/. Most updates and photos and what-not will go in there.
Thanks so much to everyone for all your love and support these past nine months. This is just the beginning!
Tweeter of the Month: @NightValeRadio
Hilarious musings on life, emptiness, nature, and the void, full of existential angst and mysterious, sideways-glimpsed horrors. One of the most consistently funny twitter accounts I’ve ever come across.
Think hate. Think fire. Think an everlasting darkness. Think a face bleeding. Whose face? Whose blood? Think Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Podcast of the Month: Welcome to Night Vale
Not content with merely having an hilarious twitter account, Night Vale also has one of the best podcasts of the past many years. A faux news broadcast about a small, fictional town (Night Vale) somewhere in the vast, uncompromising desert, where strange and Lovecraftian things happen with a regularity that borders on complacency and nobody seems terribly alarmed that no dogs are allowed in the dog park, indeed people are not allowed in the dog park, but hooded figures (that you’re not allowed to approach) can occasionally be glimpsed within. The perfect funny Halloween podcast.
T-Shirt of the Month: All Hail the Glow Cloud
This design is based on the happenings in Episode 2 of the Welcome to Night Vale Podcast. Why, yes, this month is a themed “Of the Month” selection. Why do you ask? At any rate, this shirt also glows in the dark and has the Night Vale logo emblazoned on the back of it. Still nobody can figure out where the glow cloud went, where it came from, or why it dropped so many animal carcasses on our small town. Wear the shirt. Live the shirt. Hail the glow cloud.