Super Mega Monkey Ultra Extreme III Alright!!!!

Later, in the privacy of his own apartment, Raxton peels off his outer clothes, again to revel in his awesome power...
-- Amazing Spider-Man #35

   
 

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    Recap 58

    Search for the Lizard God Egg, Part III

    Recap 58.1 with the Erintrah adventure to be added in the near future.


    By min | July 24, 2014, 12:36 AM | D&D | Comments (0) | Link




    Travel reading

    "You've got that eternal idiotic idea that if anarchy came it would come from the poor. Why should it? The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists; they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn't; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists." - Wednesday, The Man Who Was Thursday


    By fnord12 | July 23, 2014, 10:29 PM | Boooooks | Comments (0) | Link




    Hiatus


    By fnord12 | July 17, 2014, 12:43 AM | Comics & My stupid life | Comments (2) | Link




    The New York Times wants environmentalists to get off their TTIP

    Dean Baker is on a tear about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership:

    The article tells us that the TTIP appears to be facing troubles because of the opposition of environmental and consumer groups and the recent spying scandal in Germany. This opposition is presented as sort of tragic given the need for a deal...

    You've got to love this one. Europe just got new data showing that industrial production was weak last month, therefore it needs to push ahead with a trade agreement, that in the most optimistic scenario will not be signed before the end of the year. It will then be phased in over the next decade. Yeah, that's a good way of addressing weak economic data from May.

    But the piece goes on to tell us that the negotiators are interested in much more than eliminating trade barriers. According to the article, they want to take away Europeans' right to set their own health, safety, and pollution standards. The article tells readers that the working proposal is that if a product meets standards in either the U.S. or Europe then it can be sold in both places.

    This means, for example, that Europeans would have to give up plans to impose energy efficiency requirements on cars or other products, if the U.S. Congress didn't agree to the same standards. Given that a large segment of the Congress claims not to believe in global warming, it is understandable that Europeans would not be inclined to accept this position. The same would apply to regulations of food, drugs, and other consumer products.

    This is all a ploy by Pepsi to put brominated vegetable oil back in their Mountain Dew.


    By fnord12 | July 15, 2014, 10:12 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




    Maybe it's how they prevented people from wearing things "ironically"

    What makes it "custom designed"? You can't ask for specific text to be put on it, you can't specify the length or width, choose the colors, or anything.

    I also love when it's not enough for you to pay for your crappy shirt or hat that's going to advertise their product. You also have to send in proof of purchase of their candy product. We wouldn't want some skater guy who's not really into M&Ms wearing one of their shirts, would we?

    (Ad is from Marvel comics with Oct 88 cover dates.)


    By fnord12 | July 13, 2014, 5:19 PM | Comics & Ummm... Other? | Comments (2) | Link




    Days of Future Reboots

    Paul O'Brien has some interesting speculation in his review of the latest arc of Bendis' All New X-Men. People have been thinking that Marvel is headed for a reboot since the teaser art from AvX was first released, and the events of Age of Ultron certainly sound like they are settings things up. If so, it's a crazy slow shamble towards a reboot, but that's the pace all Marvel's stories work at now so i suppose it's not impossible. I haven't read Age of Ultron (but i did read the follow-up in Hulk that suggested pretty clearly that continuity is broken) and i dropped All New X-Men after (*checks*) oh my god, eleven issues of nothing happening, so i don't know how plausible O'Brien's speculation is, although his review makes it sound convincing. And i've already given my thoughts on the various outcomes of a Marvel reboot on multiple occasions, so i don't want to get into all that again at least until we have some kind of confirmation.

    I just wanted to say that if the idea is that the All New X-Men are leading the way to this line wide reboot, it explains why this series seemed to go off the rails from its original remit. Paul O'Brien summarizes it like this:

    The high concept of All-New X-Men is that the Silver Age X-Men are brought to the present day, and are appalled by seeing how the world has turned out. As of course they should be. The Professor is dead; Scott killed him; Jean is dead and (sort of) responsible for genocide; Hank is a giant blue ape; Warren is a grinning idiot; and Bobby... well, things actually turned out okay for Bobby, but there's plenty left for the X-Men to be horrified by. Plus, it's not as though the X-Men seem to have made any real headway in their goal of co-existence between humans and mutants. It's not a happy picture.

    The thing is, that's not exactly how i thought the series would be. O'Brien is right that the general idea was that the Silver Age X-Men go to the present and see that things haven't turned out the way they would have hoped. But you'll notice that most of O'Brien's examples are personal - Jean is dead, Beast mutated, Angel's in whatever weird state the X-Office has put him in nowadays. He does say that they also haven't made "headway" on the mutants right issue, but he's right to only mention that in passing, since Bendis' book, at least in the eleven issues i read, also focused on the personal more than the bigger mutant picture.

    And when i originally heard about this series, i thought the concept was pretty brilliant. Take Days of Future Past and flip it on its head by having the Silver Age X-Men come to the present and react to it as a dystopian horror the way the 1980s X-Men reacted to the Days of Future Past future, i.e., because of the way it showed that Professor X's dream of mutants and humans living together was destined for failure, not because some individual characters were dead or whatever. The subtext would be like bringing George Orwell to the present and having him learn about the NSA and state secrets privilege and the abuse of the Espionage Act and the like. In the Marvel universe there was Civil War and the 198 mutant camp and the mutants segregating themselves in Utopia and lots more stuff like that. So the idea could be that the Silver Age X-Men show up for six issues, are horrified by the "future" and then go home resolving to make changes to make their future better, and leaving the present day X-Men realizing how much they've failed.

    I think there's a smattering of that idea with Cyclops having formed a separate group of X-Men with Magneto, but (from what i've read) it really got lost in the sprawl of Bendis' plots, and the focus again seems to be more on the personal (how could Scott have killed Xavier?!?) than anything about the current state of mutant rights. Which is too bad, because while that short story might not have served any long term reboot goals, but i think it would have been a much more powerful story.


    By fnord12 | July 13, 2014, 9:26 AM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link




    Cheesey Feet!

    Ignoring the Catholic priest's assertion that yoga, tai chi, and reiki are "unsavoury activities" because who cares, i will highlight for you the part of this article i enjoyed.

    Link

    And an integral part of being into yoga is telling everyone you meet how ah-mazing it is, and how it's not just about being able to touch your toes, it actually brings spiritual calm and makes you an all-round better person - certainly better than you, with your creaking, befouled starch-hips.
    ...
    But probably - no, definitely - the most unsavoury aspect of yoga is the feet. Being in an overly hot room with someone's cheesy feet shoved in your face as they synchronise their spreadeagle makes you wonder how you ended up here.

    This is why i do yoga at home. No stranger's cheesey feet or stinky bottom in my face or line of sight. Toe socks. *shudder*


    By min | July 11, 2014, 9:24 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link




    You Mad, Bro?

    Link

    Diplomatic relations between Germany and the US plunged to a new low after Angela Merkel's government asked the top representative of America's secret services in Germany to leave the country.

    While not formally amounting to a full expulsion, the move nonetheless sends a dramatic signal: after a year-long dispute triggered by the revelations of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Merkel seems to have finally run out of patience with Washington's failure to explain itself.

    According to Süddeutsche Zeitung, the US embassy staffer who has been asked to leave is a CIA "chief of station" who coordinates secret service activity in Germany, and who emerged as the key contact for two German officials recently arrested for allegedly spying for the US.

    According to German media reports, such drastic action had previously only been thinkable when dealing with "pariah states like North Korea or Iran".

    The officials arrested for spying for the U.S. - they were gathering information on Germany's investigation into the NSA spying and wiretapping.

    Now, how much of this is the U.S. infiltrating the intelligence agency (BND) and how much is it really the BND cooperating with a fellow spy agency?


    By min | July 11, 2014, 8:29 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




    Well, look what you did

    How Bill Clinton and the Democrats made the Hobby Lobby decision possible back in 1993.


    By fnord12 | July 10, 2014, 7:36 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




    Please don't feed his paranoia

    I don't know what's actually going on here, and it would be ironically funny if Tucker Carson turned out to be a Communist dupe, but my Senator is so crazily anti-Cuban that i can imagine him latching on to any stray comment and seeing a personal plot to destroy him (even if he actually did the things he's being investigated for).


    By fnord12 | July 10, 2014, 7:33 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




    Context free reporting

    As anyone can probably tell by the endless links to the site, i regularly read TalkingPointsMemo for my political "news". Unfortunately TPM produces a lot more content than in the early days and a lot of it is more just repeating what some politician said without adding any of the context or analysis that made it a regular site for me in the first place. And which is supposed to be the main distinction between a website like TPM and your basic network news or an AP wire article.

    There are also things i disagree with founder Josh Marshall about, one of which being Edward Snowden. Which is fine; i'm happy to hear other perspectives.

    But it gets weird when i suspect those two things meet. So for example, compare this TPM post about Hilary Clinton saying that "It's Up To Snowden If He Returns To U.S. For Trial" to the Guardian article that is the source of those quotes. What you'll notice is that the Guardian article has additional information like:

    Snowden, who is currently in Russia where he has been afforded temporary asylum, has been charged with three separate violations of the US Espionage Act. These charges include stealing government property and sharing classified documents with the Guardian and the Washington Post.

    The broadly worded law makes no distinction between a spy and a whistleblower and affords Snowden almost no recourse to a defence.

    The former NSA employee is likely to face a number of additional charges should he return to the US.

    When Clinton was asked if she believed the Espionage Act - passed in 1917 - should be reformed in order to allow Snowden a defence, she claimed not to know what the whistleblower had been charged with as they were "sealed indictments".

    Whereas the TPM article just reports Clinton's statements as if they are the be all, end all of the matter. That may just be a matter of simplification reflecting that TPM is turning more into a wire service than an analysis site, but when combined with what i know to be Marshall's position on the matter it seems like they are quoting Clinton approvingly. Even best case scenario it seems like TPM is becoming a stenographer, just reporting what politicians say, and that's been one of the main criticisms of mainstream press that internet sites like TPM were supposed to be the cure for.

    On a related note, here's a post from Kevin Drum about someone trying to declassify documents through "proper channels".


    By fnord12 | July 5, 2014, 12:44 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




    Guess who won the 4th of July

    That's right. This monkey won the 4th of July.


    By fnord12 | July 4, 2014, 11:46 PM | My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link




    Demon Fish

    Cool stuff can be found in Stephen Chow's Journey to the West, which is a retelling of the Monkey King legend.


    By fnord12 | July 4, 2014, 9:17 AM | Movies | Comments (3) | Link




    Kandy Man fights back

    Min blogged about the proposed changes to nutritional labels a while back, and it's no surprise that the sugar industry is fighting back, taking issue with the "added sugar" line specifically. I clicked through to their open letter on the subject, and i don't see anything substantive to their resistance, which isn't surprising because i can't imagine them having a case. As the article says:

    The reality is that Big Sugar is likely reeling in remembrance of what the addition of trans fat to labels in 2006 did to the ingredient (it's now virtually non-existent).

    As an aside, in the example they use in the article, the percent of dietary fiber goes down in the new label, even though the number of grams remains the same. Are they also increasing the RDA for fiber, or is that just a mistake? Because we're vegans and we can barely hit our fiber targets with the current RDA. I don't know how the rest of you do it.


    By fnord12 | July 3, 2014, 2:55 PM | Science | Comments (0) | Link




    No one else is running!

    Ezra Klein has a short interview with Noam Scheiber, and you can click through to Scheiber's longer article if you want to delve deeper. But the gist of the article is that Obama, by failing to live up to his campaign promises or get much done during his presidency, has ruined the chances of a liberal outsider like Elizabeth Warren from beating Hillary Clinton in the primary. At this point people just want someone who will get things done. I'd actually take major issue with the Obama/Warren comparison but i see what Scheiber is getting at and that's not the point i want to make now. The real issue is that Scheiber interviews a bunch of Obama precinct captains and is surprised to find that despite the fact that their politics line up with Warren, they're supporting Clinton. Well... Warren isn't running! She's repeatedly said so! And Clinton is out there campaigning right now and there's no one making a different case. So of course the precinct captains are going to say that they support Clinton. Who else is there?

    If Warren or some other less hawkish, less Wall Street friendly Democrat had put their hat in the ring, i think Scheiber would have seen different results. And if the idea is that in 2014 it's too soon to see other candidates emerge, then i'd say it's also to soon for this article.


    By fnord12 | July 3, 2014, 8:25 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




    Can't hide

    A BBC editor got a notice from Google saying that his article about Stan O'Neal, one of the Merrill Lynch execs that share some of the responsibility for the 2008 financial crisis, has been removed from their search results thanks to the new European court ruling. So now these are the top Google search results for Stan O'Neal (after Wikipedia, which also mentions his culpability and also the Google action):

    Google purges negative press coverage of former Wall Street CEO from search results

    Google hides a Wall Street pariah

    Google Alerts Press About Right To Be Forgotten Removals, Putting Those Stories Back In The News

    Well, that didn't work!

    Update: The original BBC editor now says Stan O'Neal may not be the person who requested the Google Memory Hole, but it's impossible to say. If so, that really sucks for O'Neal.


    By fnord12 | July 2, 2014, 4:40 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link




    You have to support the idea after you come up with it

    I take some issue with Paul Krugman's claim that conservatives can't come up with new ideas (i agree with his larger point). Both the Cap and Trade and Affordable Care Act method of universal healthcare are conservative ideas. Granted, they were devised as ways to head off the liberal solutions to their respective problems (i.e. strict pollution regulation and expansion of Medicare) but that's sort of the point. If moderate Republicans wanted to be relevant again, i would welcome support for these ideas and more like them. But instead the Democrats who pre-emptively compromise by advocating these solutions and the Republicans unanimously oppose them.


    By fnord12 | July 2, 2014, 1:29 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




    Demand

    Dean Baker reminds us that now would be a great time, economically, to deal with global warming.


    By fnord12 | July 2, 2014, 1:20 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




    Now that's a name for a comic

    Although, why not Uncannily Weird Strange Tales of the Unusual Strangeness?


    By fnord12 | July 2, 2014, 8:38 AM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link




    Bambi in the back yard

    We complain about them eating our flowers or standing outside the window, looking us right in the eye, and pooping with a "So what are you gonna do about it?" expression on their faces, but it's still pretty cool to look out your back door and see a deer chilling in the woods.


    By fnord12 | July 1, 2014, 3:02 PM | My stupid life | Comments (3) | Link




    The earliest online role-playing games sucked


    By fnord12 | June 29, 2014, 5:48 PM | D&D & Video Games | Comments (10) | Link




    Does It Do Away With String Theory?

    Cause if so, i'm all for it. I never really grokked string theory.

    Thinking of spacetime as a liquid may be a helpful analogy. We often picture space and time as fundamental backdrops to the universe. But what if they are not fundamental, and built instead of smaller ingredients that exist on a deeper layer of reality that we cannot sense? If that were the case, spacetime's properties would "emerge" from the underlying physics of its constituents, just as water's properties emerge from the particles that comprise it. "Water is made of discrete, individual molecules, which interact with each other according to the laws of quantum mechanics, but liquid water appears continuous and flowing and transparent and refracting," explains Ted Jacobson, a physicist at the University of Maryland, College Park. "These are all 'emergent' properties that cannot be found in the individual molecules, even though they ultimately derive from the properties of those molecules."

    Not that i did great in Fluid Mechanics lab, but i blame that on my learning disability whereby i never understand what exactly i'm supposed to be doing in a lab experiment. Hands-on learning is so confusing. Can't you just show me with a diagram drawn in different colored chalks and an equation? That would make way more sense.


    By min | June 29, 2014, 2:57 PM | Science | Comments (0) | Link




    SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

    Savage Hulk #1 - Due to a certain long term contract written in blood and in exchange mostly for some 1990s X-Men comics that no one every needed to read, i am honor bound to collect every Marvel comic drawn by Alan Davis. Which is fine. I like Alan Davis. But i didn't know the specifics about this series, only that i was required to get it, so i'm only now finding out that it's apparently continuity inserts. Which is also fine in theory. Problem is that this story is potentially overloading the period in the immediate aftermath of the X-Men/Hulk fight at the end of their original series. Both John Byrne's Hidden Years and Gage/Alberti's X-Men/Spider-Man #1 take place then, and my understanding is that Eric Larsen's Fantastic Four World's Greatest Comics Magazine has X-Men appearances there too. Hidden Years actually recaps the Hulk fight and then has a gap of three days before launching into a very long story arc. X-Men/Spider-Man has Xavier "too sick" to make an appearance, during that three day gap. And now this story has a spry Xavier acting in the immediate aftermath of the original X-Men issue. I guess his sickness didn't fully hit him yet and we'll just hope this story lasts less than three days. The other problem is going to be if that is actually the Abomination. During this period, the Abomination, as a guy with normal intelligence in the body of someone who is baseline stronger than the Hulk, was too powerful to just be allowed to walk around in between Hulk fights, so he's generally held as a prisoner of the Stranger or at least stuck in space. So he can't just be showing up here. Hopefully that's explained; it's only a last panel cliffhanger splash so not time to complain about it yet. Anyway, this was a set-up issue, with the only action being the Hulk fighting some missiles while the X-Men stood around and talked, so hopefully next issue will at least have some nice Hulk/Abomination/X-Men battles from Davis, whatever the continuity problems.

    Elektra #3 - Very nice art, the sort of thing you might have gotten in the rare Marvel Fanfare issue that actually lived up to its promise. And i do like the weirdness of the new villain. Storywise, i think it's about time to get the deliberately staid Elektra a supporting cast or maybe a talking monkey or something to infuse some personality into the mix. I also think we're possibly missing out on a more interesting story about a master assassin and his son traveling to the likes of the Savage Land, the Blue Area of the Moon, and sunken underwater kingdoms. That doesn't seem to be the sort of thing you leave to background narration. Overall i'm at the "nice art, but get on with it" stage and next issue's promise of a metaphysical guilt trip doesn't give me high hopes.

    Iron Man #28 - Despite three different pencilers and two inkers, this is a decent wrap-up to the storyline. It's definitely shut down very quickly, with all these guys that were built up throughout the storyline getting stomped very easily at the end, in some cases by empty Iron Man suits. Mole Man dumping his ring and slinking away felt right, though. I found a lot to like in the post-fight wrap up. Any time you reference both Makluans (that's Fin Fang Foom's people, people!) and Rigellians, you've got me hooked. And i also really liked the in-universe explanation (or at least acknowledgment) for why so many alien races are monarchies and empires instead of democracies (or communist).

    Daredevil #4 - Nice continued parallel between the Shroud and Daredevil's pre-Waid days of endless tear downs. And a really minor thing - i liked the Owl's little hand claws. Between his hair and his wrist claws, he's always looked like a fat Wolverine to me (i know he came first), but this slightly different claw style keeps his claws but gives them a more distinct look.

    Ms. Marvel #5 - Nice first loss and subsequent training and spirit boosting. A lot here is right from the playbook of the first year of Amazing Spider-Man and that's a good thing. And this book does have a lot of personality and character development, so it doesn't need the talking monkey, but i see we are getting a talking Pigeon Man.

    New Warriors #6 - As less than 20,000 other people know, this is the best book Marvel is putting out right now. We're taking a break from the High Evolutionary story to see how the Avengers feel about Wundagore suddenly appearing in New York and i see next issue will start something new about the new Inhuman character, so no need to wait for a Point One series if you heard a good buzz and were looking to jump on. This issue has the Elder God Cth'on making Thor look like a cool Lizard Man Warrior, plenty of talking animals, and Hummingbird trying to lift Thor's hammer. And only two pencilers, one of whom is Nick Roche who also drew last issue and is inking himself here.


    By fnord12 | June 29, 2014, 12:04 PM | Comics | Comments (3) | Link




    John McCain *lost* the election

    Magazines are bathroom reading, so forgive me for talking about an article that came out in April, but i wanted to call something out of this Obama Vs. The Hawks article in Rolling Stone. The article is sourced from anonymous former Obama advisers so i don't know how much stock to put in it. For example, there's a valiant effort to give Kerry credit for his sarcastic offhand remark that gave us an out on Syria and barely mentions Britain's rejection of military action there. But what i wanted to call out was this:

    "In part, the reason why they were focusing on doing something on Syria is that they felt people were pushing them," says another former White House adviser. "McCain, Lindsey Graham - it is unbelievable how influential Senator Graham was in the president's thinking. They desperately wanted Lindsey on their side. It's a fact that those two - and you have to include Joe Lieberman and Senator Kelly Ayotte - have had enormous influence on the way the White House thinks. But why? They have influence far beyond the reality of their power."

    The article doesn't provide an answer. But i agree it's a mind-boggling question. These Senators are the Hawkiest of Hawks whose answer to everything is to bomb, bomb, bomb. Voters at a national level rejected McCain for Obama (and also rejected Lieberman). So why is Obama going to McCain and his little gang for approval? This is beyond the fact that, as everyone is pointing out nowadays, McCain has basically been wrong about everything so it's not like he's got some deep insight into foreign affairs. I'm just talking from a pure "what's the point of an election?" point of view if the guy we voted for is going to spend his time trying to please the guy we voted against. Of course he did the same type of thing by making Hillary Clinton Secretary of State and bringing in people from Bill Clinton's administration (Geithner!) but at least there you can argue they're all broadly part of the same ideological coalition. Almost by definition, if you can get McCain and Graham to agree with you, you're working against your own political party.

    And beyond all of that, does anyone think Obama could ever do anything that would make McCain and Graham run to the cameras and talk about how great it was? For all that they influence Obama, have they ever complimented him for it, or more to the point, worked their connections in Senate to help him get bills passed? Have they ever made any compromise or concession at all with the Obama administration? Consistently wrong, ideologically opposed, and unhelpful and unable to be satisfied. Why in the world would you keep reaching out to them?


    By fnord12 | June 26, 2014, 8:12 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




    "Gosh, I'm gonna have to disagree with the doctor here"

    Maybe because he's a madman?


    By fnord12 | June 26, 2014, 4:14 PM | Liberal Outrage & Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link




    Racism and AP History Exam Grading

    So, WTF?

    T-shirt front:

    T-shirt back:

    At the 2014 grading of AP World History exams in Salt Lake City, conducted by high school and college educators specializing in topics related to world history, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and College Board leadership engaged in culturally insensitive and racist behavior toward Asians, particularly Chinese people. The images above are from the front and back of a t-shirt designed for readers by the leaders of the AP World History exam grading. The images allude to one of the essay questions on this year's exam, a question about the Chinese Communist Party.

    After Asian Americans and others pointed out that the shirt design was offensive, the director of ETS's Human Resources department agreed that it should be altered. But she later changed her mind, deeming it "not offensive," and approved it for printing and distribution. It was subsequently purchased by hundreds of high school teachers and college professors who were in Salt Lake City for the reading.

    Sadly, many AP World History teachers and academics who were grading exams this year were not put off by this racist imagery. Hundreds of educators purchased this shirt and wore it on the last day. It is deeply disturbing that people who teach World History could be so indifferent to racial and cultural insensitivity.

    Link

    Oh, well, i'm so glad the HR director wasn't offended. Guess that means it's totally not racist. Thanks!

    As fnord12 said, what does this say about the bias of the people grading the tests?


    By min | June 26, 2014, 3:59 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




    iPod is testing me today

    I have it on random, and Part 3 of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music came up. As i reached for the remote, i thought to myself, "No, if i'm going to have this on my iPod, i'm going to listen to it when it comes up." And i did and i actually mind don't having ambient noise in the background for 16 minutes while i work. Then, five songs later, up comes Part 1 of Metal Machine Music (this is on a 160 gig iPod by the way, but don't get me started on the limitation's of the iPod's "shuffle" feature).

    Ok, iPod, you've made your point!


    By fnord12 | June 26, 2014, 2:08 PM | Music | Comments (0) | Link




    "Pop" Metal

    Friend Adam passes along an interesting article that uses the latest Mastodon album as a way to explore heavy metal's relationship with the rest of the pop music world.

    One quick note, tangential to the main point. Mastodon is an awesome band, but there is no way they are going to get any kind of mainstream success. Their songs are long, multi-parted and complicated, and about whales. Metallica became popular when they took their 9 minute odd time songs on And Justice For All and cut them down into radio-ready one or two riff tracks produced by Bob Rock.

    As a real unrelated aside, i love the formatting on that article, with the footnotes in a separate column alongside the article. If it were easy for me to do that, my comics reviews might be a lot more readable, as i could remove a lot of my parenthetical rambles.


    By fnord12 | June 26, 2014, 10:55 AM | Music | Comments (0) | Link




    Marvel Sales

    May.

    One quick observation is that Avengers books jumped 5K in sales due to the Original Sin tie-in. In the recent past, Avengers book were unaffected by crossover events, with the idea being that anyone interested in the line-wide crossovers was also reading the flagship Avengers titles. That doesn't seem to be the case here (or at least retailers didn't think it would be the case). It's a relatively small jump, but it possibly suggests that Avengers is losing its top slot in the Marvel line now that Bendis is no longer writing. Bendis' All New X-Men is higher on the chart than Avengers (and so is Amazing Spider-Man, but that's coming off the renumbering/return of Peter Parker).


    By fnord12 | June 25, 2014, 2:01 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link




    Big Government Cheese

    Reading Matthew Yglesias about an unrelated topic (a brewing fight about the Export-Import Bank, if you're interested), he says as an aside:

    ...did you know the US Department of Agriculture runs a Dairy Checkoff Program in which it partners with major fast food companies to design innovative cheese-intensive products such as Taco Bell's double steak quesadillas and Pizza Hut's 3-cheese stuffed pizza crust?

    No. I did not know that. And that's pretty crazy. Here is the link.


    By fnord12 | June 24, 2014, 10:55 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




    Words mean things

    Or maybe they don't:

    The paper offered an expanded definition of "imminence," noting that "an 'imminent' threat of violent attack against the United States does not require ... clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future."

    Kevin Drum has more to say:

    Thus, the problem I've always had isn't specifically with the targeting of Awlaki, but with the fact that the targeting was based on such a flimsy legal pretext. However, despite the fact that I'm disappointed in Obama's decision to interpret the AUMF widely, most of the blame on that score should be directed not at Obama, but at Congress. The AUMF is now more than a dozen years old, and it's long past time for Congress to emerge from its fetal crouch and write a new law specifically designed for our present circumstances. Among other things, it should address the president's ability to target American citizens for killing. If Congress wants to give the president that power, it should debate and pass a law and the courts should rule on its constitutionality. That's the rule of law. And regardless of whether I liked the law, I'd accept it if Congress passed it, the president signed it, and the Supreme Court declared it constitutional.

    Instead, as usual, Congress prefers to do nothing. This leaves them free to kibitz if they don't like what the president is doing, or to simply avoid having to take a stand at all. It's shameful.


    By fnord12 | June 24, 2014, 10:41 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




    A Slight Underestimate

    Remember when i proudly showed off the one sock i finished knitting back in 2012? Well, i finished the second sock so i now have a pair. And i'm only 25 months and 3 weeks over my estimated completion date!

    From now on, socks will only be knit as a pair at the same time.


    By min | June 23, 2014, 9:39 PM | My stupid life | Comments (0) | Link




    Vegan Strawberry and Blueberry Pie

    It's both Strawberry Pie Month and Blueberry Pie Month in the SuperMegaMonkey household, but i thought for the sake of my belly i shouldn't make two full pies, so i split the difference and made both in one.

    vegan strawberry and blueberry pie

    Each fruit stayed politely on its side of the divide.


    Double Crust Ingredients

    • 1 vegan egg* (we like Ener-G Egg Replacer)
    • 1 T ice water
    • 3 T cold, unflavored, non-dairy milk
    • 1 1/2 cup + 1 T white flour
    • 1/2 cup + 1 T white wheat flour
    • 1 T sugar
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 3/4 cup vegan butter, cubed and kept cold (we like Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
    • Yield: 1 double crust for 9" pie

    Mix the egg, ice water, and milk together and place in the refrigerator to keep chilled.

    In a food processor, mix the flours, sugar, and salt together. Add half of the butter (6 T) and process until the flour gets clumpy. Add the egg milk mixture and process until a ball of dough begins to form.

    Add the remaining butter, pulsing in short bursts just until the dough starts to form a ball, pulling away from the sides of the bowl a bit. Do not over-mix. There should still be visible bits of butter.

    Divide the dough in half. Flatten each into a disc, wrap, and refrigerate for a few hours before using. The dough will keep for a few days in the fridge and for a few weeks in the freezer if well wrapped.

    *I use ice water to make the egg, as well.


    Filling Ingredients

    • 3 cups strawberries, hulled and halved
    • 2 1/2 cups blueberries
    • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2/3 cups sugar
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/3 cup cornstarch
    • 3 T vegan butter, cubed (we like Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)

    Toss the blueberries in the vanilla extract and set aside.

    Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch. Add half of the sugar mixture to the strawberries and half to the blueberries. Stir to coat well.

    On a lightly floured board, gently roll out one of the dough discs to fit your pie dish (it should be approximately 1/8" thick). Make sure to turn the dough frequently while rolling to ensure it isn't getting stuck to your board. Loosely wrap the dough around your rolling pin to easily transfer it to the pie dish.

    If your pie dish has a lip, trim the dough even with the edge of the dish. If it doesn't have a lip, leave a 1/4" overhang.

    Fill half of the dish with the strawberries, layering with half of the butter. Making sure all of the strawberries are contained on their half of the dish, fill the other side with the blueberries, layering with the remaining butter.

    Take out the second disc of dough and roll out. Place it over the filled pie. Trim even with the bottom layer of dough. Seal the edges and crimp. Cut a few slits in the top to allow the steam to escape.

    Put the pie in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425degF.

    Optional: Brush the top with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

    Cover the edges of the crust to prevent overbrowning. Bake for 10 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350degF. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the edges and bake for another 15 minutes.

    Now, the hard part - Leave the pie alone for at least 12 hours unless you want to eat soupy pie. I know. I always want to cut into it right away, but it never ends well. Console yourself with the thought of being able to eat pie all day tomorrow.

    Needless to say, if you wanted one pie of all one berry, double the amount of the berry of choice. This works because the spices and sugar amounts for each type of berry are the same. I'm not so sure i'd want to try making a half strawberry, half apple pie, for instance.


    By min | June 22, 2014, 3:14 PM | Vegan Vittles | Comments (0) | Link




    Well, at least i'm not the only one making typos

    The mSheeter:


    By fnord12 | June 20, 2014, 11:28 PM | Master of Style | Comments (0) | Link




    Darth Maul Bin Laden

    Does anyone else think maybe the CIA has too much money and not enough to do?


    By fnord12 | June 19, 2014, 5:08 PM | Liberal Outrage & Star Wars & Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link




    *More* primary choices?

    Kevin Drum raises a number of concerns with Hillary Clinton's foreign policy positions, and i agree with him, but he ends with, "This is one of the reasons that Democrats need more primary choices in 2016."

    More? Do we have any? I mean, i know we have this guy but i don't really see that going anywhere.


    By fnord12 | June 19, 2014, 10:18 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link




    This algorithm will change the world!

    If you've been watching Silicon Valley, this will all sound familiar.


    By fnord12 | June 17, 2014, 5:47 PM | TeeVee | Comments (0) | Link




    SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

    Black Widow #7 - Meh. Definitely didn't need the insert into 1970's Daredevil/Black Widow continuity, that's for sure.

    She-Hulk #5 - Wow, the art just became a complete disaster, huh? Javier Pulido's art on the previous issues was obviously deliberately quirky too and i can understand why people didn't love it but this issue, with art by Ron Wimberly, is just... wow. Like indie indie style. Not what i want from a comic, that's for sure, not a comic with established characters that have a defined look. That battle between Hellcat and Tigra was, i mean it was just really distracting. Here's a quick photo:

    You also have to love when a male writer has a female character saying that she doesn't mind being viewed as a sex object. Not that it's really a concern when Wimberly is drawing her. Also, should we really be revealing that the Shocker has severe memory loss issues due to his vibrations at the same time he's member of the cast of Superior Foes?

    Hulk #4 - Extremis just this one time! I admit i've disengaged with this book since Waid is leaving, but i did enjoy the Hulk thwaking the Abomination with Captain America's shield.

    Captain Marvel #4 - So i guess we're caught up to the flashforward from issue #1, but i can't say i'm any more engaged with these new characters than i was in that issue. I'm not sure i get the whole point of it. The plot is that these people won't leave their planet even though their government says it's killing them, because they don't know where they can go and they refuse to live in a spaceship. So the plan is to build an artificial ring around the planet and live on that? And that's better than a spaceship, i guess? But to execute that plan they need some kind of other ships and for that they need spare parts and for that they have to go to these black market planets and steal stuff and make shady deals? I don't think i'm following it very well. The Spartex emperor seems to be able to provide the means to evacuate a percentage of the population. If he's going to approve this ring plan, couldn't he also lend the ships he was going to use the for evac to move people to the rings instead? I dunno, again, i'm probably missing something but the whole thing is unwieldy and hard to follow and i'm not sure what it's doing in a Carol Danvers book. Can't she just be flying around in space punching aliens or something?

    Iron Man #27 - One ring to bind them all. And the PR guy turns out to be the evil mystery villain. Well, Gillis is having fun, anyway. Did i actually miss a tie-in issue of the FF (footnote would be nice!) or did a Mole Man / FF battle just happen entirely off panel? Seems kind of weird. But this was fine. I do think that must be the least interesting Unnatural History Museum in the Marvel universe. Sure, there's a Devil Dinosaur and a cybernetic ape, but your other exhibits are an old suit of Iron Man armor and a statue of Hercules? That's the best you can come up with?

    Superior Foes of Spider-Man #12 - We're back to Nick Spenser after two issues of fill-ins but i think this issue was unfortunately a little weaker. The Hammerhead/Cagney joke went overlong, and i really really really didn't like the addition of all the new "villains", including Armadillo who Marvel can't seem to make up their mind about but i thought he was last seen as a member of the Initiative and a good guy. I also wouldn't use the Spot in this way after his appearances in Mark Waid's Daredevil, and i wouldn't put the Bi-Beast in this group of loser villains, either. Generally, and this is something i was saying with the fill-ins too, i really don't like the idea that there are all these loser villains. This book has been good because it's shown the main characters as being a bit schlumpy and struggling to get by, but they've been given enough focus that they still seemed human and even credible as threats. Now we've just dumped a whole bunch of losers into the plot and it kind of cheapens everybody. I also didn't love the final splash page; did we really need a full page full of stiff lifeless characters to show up that Hammerhead's goons were closing in on Shocker's apartment, which we already knew? All that said, there are still some fun moments here and i still have hope that it will wrap up well. (It is getting cancelled, right? I did read that?)

    New Warriors #5 - Now this continues to be great. I really love Hummingbird, and basically all the characters in this book have distinct and fun personalities. Interesting to see the Speedball/Penance thing rearing its head, too. Nick Roche replaces Marcus To on art but continues with a clean, solid super-hero style that also handles the comedy well. I guess not a lot happens this issue (still my major complaint with the series) but it's still a fun book and i'm pretty sure we're going to enjoy Jack Waffles and Mister Whiskers.

    Special DC bonus review!:

    Forever People #1 - I don't know much about the Forever People (i mean, i knew they were Kirby New Gods characters!) and i'm only now googling them to find out that they were basically New God Kirby Hippies that fought Darkseid and that sounds pretty awesome. Wanyas lent this to me as he did with the Giffen/Didio Omac books. So far it's not as mind-bogglingly awesome as Omac was from page #1 but it's a good set-up and definitely very much a Kirby tribute. That said, now that i know that they were originally flower children, why aren't we going with that angle? Because that would be awesome. (As an aside, when i started reading this i had forgotten that DC rebooted their universe and i was like, why are these New Gods talking about Earth almost like they'd never heard of it before?)


    By fnord12 | June 16, 2014, 10:31 PM | Comics | Comments (3) | Link




    Germany wasn't sure about Frankenstein by the 1960s?

    We are deep into our annual Godzillathon and while looking up one thing or another we came across this movie poster:

    The movie above is actually advertising Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster. I first saw the image on IMDb and then found a better scan at Monster Brains, which has a ton of 1960s era Godzilla movie posters that are just awesome and you should go click on that link right now and if they don't make you want to watch Godzilla movies i don't know what's wrong with you. But even at Monster Brains there's no explanation for why the movie was billed as featuring Frankenstein when it's quite clearly Godzilla.

    Of course even when Toho produced actual Frankenstein movies they were a far cry from any recognizable version of the Frankenstein monster. But Min has declared birthday privilege and we are sadly skipping over Frankenstein Conquers The World and War of the Gargantuas this time through (even if that means we're missing the origin of Baragon as we go into Destroy All Monsters!).


    By fnord12 | June 12, 2014, 7:29 PM | Godzilla | Comments (3) | Link




    Donut Gorging

    A few days before my week off, i found out that PETA had come up with a list of the Top 6 Vegan-Friendly Doughnut Shops* (don't you mean "donut"?). Clearly, i studied it. And to my excitement, not only would i be in the vicinity of donut shops 1 and 4 in the near future, BUT shop #2 wasn't all that far away for someone whose two most pressing items on the Staycation Agenda were 1) doing tai chi every morning and 2) watching old Godzilla movies.

    Well, Monday morning rolled around and i'd already failed at Agenda Item #1 (it was raining and i'm not dedicated enough to stand out in the rain for 40 minutes), so clearly, it was time for a road trip.

    ROAD TRIP!!!!

    Two hours later...

    Look, if i'm going to drive all that way, i'm not coming home with just 1 donut, ok? I mean, duh.


    You might notice that top box is no longer taped shut. That's cause we ate the raspberry danish on the ride home. What raspberry danish, you ask. This raspberry danish:

    That there is a 6" danish, ladies and gentleman.


    It was a long drive, and we needed something to sustain us.

    Now for the actual quest items.

    From left to right: vanilla donuts with sprinkles, banana cream-filled, raspberry jelly-filled, boston cream


    You might not think it, but this is me being restrained. Fnord12 had a little discussion with me before our trip about moderation. *sigh* I'm always being metered.

    Oh, and i might have picked up a few other things...

    From left to right: peanut butter bomb, turtle pie, canolis


    They had 2 rows full of pastries! I only bought 3 things! That's totally restrained! Besides, i needed snacks for my Godzilla marathon.

    *1) I was pretty happy to see Ronald's Donuts making this list because the donuts are so good that fnord12 and i always worried that the proprietors were lying about them being vegan. But if PETA says they're ok...(despite my suspicion that PETA is actually a front for the beef industry, because why else would they do so many things to make themselves and their causes look ridiculous?)


    2) PETA, what is up with your date-less web post? Is this the top 6 donut shops of this year? Last year? Forever and all time? This is the internet. We need to put dates on things, people.


    By min | June 9, 2014, 8:11 PM | My stupid life | Comments (0) | Link



    No need to stop here. There's plenty more SuperMegaMonkey where that came from.