Common Misconceptions

Is it safe to swallow, or do I spit?

There is no evidence that Vikings wore horns on their helmets. Marie Antoinette, who was the Queen of France and husband to Louis XVI during the French Revolution, never actually used the phrase “let them eat cake” when she heard that the French peasantry was starving. George Washington did not have wooden teeth. They were actually made of gold, hippopotamus ivory, lead, and animal teeth, including horse and donkey teeth. The signing of the United States Declaration of Independence occurred on August 2, 1776, not July 4. Napoleon Bonaparte was not particularly short in comparison to other French men and did not have a Napoleon complex.

A common misconception is that you must wait at least 24 hours before filing a missing person’s report, this is not true. Entrapment laws in the United States do not require police officers to identify themselves. Sushi doesn’t mean “raw fish” and not all sushi includes raw fish. If a person swallows chewing gum, it doesn’t take seven years to digest. Chewing gum is mostly indigestible, but it still passes through the digestive system and out of your body. A person who has used LSD more than seven times is not insane. One hit of marijuana doesn’t have the carcinogen effects of an entire cigarette. The largest study of its kind by the University of California found that people who smoke marijuana are no more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers.

In fact, some studies have shown that marijuana may actually reduce the risk of some cancers by as much as 61%. It is commonly claimed that the Great Wall of China is the only human-made object visible from the Moon. This is false. City lights were the only feature reported to be visible. Seasons are not caused by the Earth being closer to the Sun in the summer. They are the result of the Earth being tilted on its axis. Meteorites are not hot, but cold when they hit the earth. The claim that a duck’s quack doesn’t echo is false. Houseflies do not have an average lifespan of 24 hours. The average lifespan of a housefly is 20 to 30 days.

Bulls are not enraged by the color red, which is used in capes by professional matadors. The movement of the fabric is what irritates the bull and causes them to charge. Shaving doesn’t cause hair to grow back thicker or darker. Hair which has never been cut has a tapered end and after cutting the hair the taper is lost making the new hair sharp. Alcohol doesn’t make a person’s body temperature warmer. Eating less than an hour before swimming doesn’t increase the risk of experiencing muscle cramps or drowning. Drowning is often thought to be a violent struggle, where the victim waves and calls for help. In truth, drowning is often inconspicuous to onlookers. The instinctive drowning response doesn’t show prior evidence of distress.

* Content stolen from another blog, but the idea that doing so is wrong is a common misconception.

Transformers Dark of the Moon is Unforgivable and I want to Pull Michael Bay’s Heart Out Through His Ass

"I'll show everyone I don't need Megan Fox! Then maybe I'll find love! Sob sob.

I have better things to do than write this litany of complaints against Michael Bay’s Transformers 3, but I can’t do any of them because all I can think about is how furious I am. I spent so much time arguing with my friends that they should come see it with me, that they shouldn’t hold onto the hate of Transformers 2 ’cause this one’ll be better, that now I’ve gotta eat crow without any condiments at all. There’s no reason that movie had to be THAT bad. To be THAT uninterested in its characters. To care THAT little about the fans and the movie-going audience. I have to assume that Michael Bay did not give a shit about this movie, since beyond his usual and much-ridiculed Bay-Drama-Action-Shots, Transformers 3 seemed to be giving the finger to the audience at every turn.

Yes, there was some stuff that was cool, but finding a chocolate chip in a bowl of shit doesn’t make you rave about the restaurant. It just makes you mad that the restaurant’s Special of the Day turned out to be a bowl of shit. What kind of restaurant would do that? What kind of director would make this Transformers movie?

I gotta just get into my individual rants already. Spoiler warning starts here, though you should thank me for “spoiling” the surprise of the mystery Special of the Day.

1. Firing Megan Fox ruined the movie.
That’s an exaggeration but maybe it’s not an exaggeration. Sam/Shia chases after that new blonde chick because she’s the love of his life, will die for her, etc. etc., and at one point even betrays Optimus Prime to keep her safe. Why? Because she’s super-hot? If that was still Fox’s character, you’d believe it all and feel for it because you know the history. But now it’s just “look how far Sam’ll go for a hot piece of ass.” We should have been rooting for love, instead we were rooting for the end of any scene with her in it.

2. Sam’s A Loser
First movie? Sam’s the unpopular kid on the adventure of a lifetime. Awesome. Second movie? Sam’s older and loved his adventure but now yearns to be his own man. I get it. Third movie? Sam can’t get a job and fights to get into the action only because the lady from Fargo told him he should butt out. He’s a big nothing, never has any meaningful interactions with the Autobots, just running through the big action finale only because he wants to be in the big action finale. Great, loser.

3. Sentinel Prime is wasted.
He’s a traitor. Retroactive spoiler alert! He was supposed to rendezvous with Megatron on Earth eons ago to use his spacebridge invention to bring Cybertron to Earth, using our resources to bring their ruined planet back to life. Interesting? Coulda been. He saw that an alliance with Megatron was the only way to save Cybertron, which isn’t an invalid idea the same way Magneto’s point of view in X-Men isn’t wrong. But…
• Why did the Decepticons shoot him down in the first place then? Megatron didn’t tell them to let him go? Oops!!
• Before Sentinel’s revealed as a traitor, there’s a scene where Optimus bows to him and offers him the Matrix of Leadership. Sentinel turns command of the Autobots down since, Optimus knows this world better than he does. Why? Dude, command the Autobots to go home and don’t watch the news, or lead them into a trap or something. At least try to convince Optimus that he should join you, since you were his mentor. Like in Star Wars, Palpatine spent so long laing the groundwork to convince Anakin to join the dark side, Sentinel shoulda done SOMETHING with this. Zero reason to turn down the Matrix except to have the audience believe he’s a good guy.
• When the good guys figure out that the Decepticons need Sentinel to run the spacebridge, lots of generic Decepticons attack! Why are the Decepticons trying to kidnap Sentinel when he’s already going to help them? It’s almost as if Megatron ordered the attack just to keep making the audience that Sentinel is a good guy. How meta is THAT?
• Oh my god, the reveal that he’s working with Megatron must’ve been awesome, right? Big twist, big moment? Nope, he just starts shooting at the other Autobots in a parking lot. It had less drama than when Palpatine told Anakin he’s a Sith Lord while they were walking down a hallway. Did Bay assume that twist would be leaked and just didn’t try to do anything with the reveal? Movies suck nowadys.
• Near the end of the flick, Sentinel laments that the Autobots didn’t see things from his point of view (even though he never tried to convince them) by uttering the phrase “The good of the many outweigh the good of the few.” Fuck Bay for having Nimoy quote Star Trek II like that. Fucking sacrilege. It doesn’t even make sense – he’s eager to have six billion human slaves, so clearly he’s fucking over the many for his few. It was a stunt line of dialogue and it was offensive.

4. Megatron’s a pussy.
In the first movie, everyone was terrified of this guy. Badass central. Ripped Jazz apart with his bare hands. This movie, he just keeps thanking Sentinel Prime for doing his thing and stands there with his still-gaping head wound. You can bring this guy back to life on the ocean floor, but you can’t fix a head wound. When it looks like Sentinel’s plan is working, Megatron first sighs that he’s so happy that Cybertron will be saved (an interesting emotion from him that could have been explored further), but then the new blonde model girl runs up to him and yells that he’s a pussy and he’s gonna be Sentinel’s bitch. Literally. That literally happens. So of course Megatron is convinced and runs to shoot Sentinel, just before Sentinel’s gonna kill Optimus. That’s some sad, shitty shit, Megatron, you fucking idiot.

5. Fuck the Transformers
The way Megatron was turned stupid is indicative of the lack of effort made to make these transformers coo. There’s zillions of new Decepticons on the scene but aside from Laserbeak they’re all generic nobodies. Shockwave is new, he’s barely used, we learn nothing about him and he’s killed by a falling parachute. Ironhide is killed by Sentinel Prime (with a weapon that disintegrates him into rust, which he never uses again for some reason) and nobody even mentions it – Not even an “Aw, Jazz.” Starscream, instead of betraying Megatron like we all expected he someday would, is removed of all menace and is killed by SAM in an alley. In order to save Optimus Prime’s heroics until the end of the big action scene, he’s caught up in some cables and has to be cut down by other Autobots. Christ. Hasbro should be pissed.

6. Random Shit that Kept me Pissed
• Everyone that isn’t a soldier, Shia or Blonde Girl, is acting like a circus clown. Agent Simmons, Sam’s parents, et al, you think they were annoying in past movies? Nope, that was all warm up. New people like Alan Tudyk plays a gay assistant with unexplained super-training, the Chinese guy from Community is about to rape Sam in a bathroom stall and Sam just pleads for him to stop (not an exaggeration, that really happens), John Malkovitch goes from hardass to giggling kid play-punching bumblebee…. Shame on all of them!
• The big battle at the end has the Decepticons take over Chicago (to be honest, there’s a lot of awesomeness of Decepticons blatantly killing people in the streets here, very Terminator-like coolness, but it’s just a chocolate chip in the shit), then destroying all the ways the military can see what they’re doing IN Chicago. That way, they can set up the spacebridge in peace and nobody will stop them. But if they had just gotten the spacebridge ready someplace quiet where nobody goes, like Michael Bay’s therapist’s office, then nobody would have known to stop them and they would have won. Yep, there’s NO REASON the big end battle takes place.
• Decepticons and Autobots always kill each other, unless someone thinks of a “cool” scene where they don’t! There’s a scene where Decepticons take prisoners for no reason until they realize that they don’t take prisoners. There’s a scene where Ironhide tells two Decepticons to “drop their guns” even though Transformers can make guns out of their own bodies. Every other scene they’re ripping each other’s heads off. Suck, suck, suck.
• The Decepticons are going to turn Earth into the new Cybertron. They put hundreds of spacebridge pylons into Earth orbit, so it seems the outer shell of Cyberton is going to cover Earth and then you got a living Cybertron again, with human slaves to run it. Gotcha, cool. Then… Sentinel uses the main spacebridge pylon to teleport Cybertron NEXT to Earth. Huh? Did he change the plan last-second and not tell anyone? How could putting Cybertron NEXT to Earth gonna save anything? And shouldn’t the Earth instantly rip apart from all this new gravity a few feet away? ARGH!
• Sam’s not allowed to be a part of NEST and the Autobot/US Military goings on. But he does have the responsibility, which he doesn’t want, of keeping Wheelie and a new second loser Wheelie-esque bot as secret pets. Why? Tell me Michael Bay, WHY? At least the twins weren’t back.
• Optimus Prime talks of honor pretty big. We love him because he’s noble like that. He respects individual freedom and the rights of all things, that he’d even leave Earth if we asked him to go. Except in this flick, we do ask them to go, and he doesn’t. Later, Megatron, completely defeated, tells Prime it’s time for a truce. In response, Prime tears his head off. So much for that reluctant “Sorry brother, but you left me no choice” in the first film. Oh, and then Sentinel Prime, also defeated, laments all that’s happened. So Prime blows his head off. Why, Prime? You were my hero!! Sob sob.
• So the spacebridge is first opened to bring lots and lots of Decepticons to Earth. You saw it all in the trailer. They’re all buried in the moon and jump into the spacebridge to land in Washington DC. Yep, they were all buried in the moon. Buried in the moon. Why the fuck are there hundreds of Decepticons buried on the moon?? And even if you had a reasonable answer for that, why didn’t they just come to Earth without the spacebridge in the first place??
• The movie ends like 5 minutes after Prime wins the big battle. No epilogue, nothing learned here. Action scene is over, cut to credits. Bay turned his back this flick as soon as he could.
• The autobots can’t get off Earth without a ship. Why? Decepticons fly away from and to Earth all the time. Hell, when the autobots first got here, they didn’t use a ship. Why the hell can’t any of the autobots transform into something that can fly? They can change how they look and what they transform into whenever they want! I know in the cartoon, the autobots were cars and the decepticons were jets, and that’s that, but if you’re going to have plot points around it in a big movie, you gotta say something about it.
7. And now I nitpick.
• That soldier guy, Epps, retired from soldiering and now walks behind that giant NASA treaded platform for a job. Whatever, fine. We see him again as the giant platform, with nothing on it, is rolling towards a shuttle/autobot ship hybrid on a launch pad. The job of that big treaded thing is to move shuttles to the launch pad. So what the fuck were they doing with it if the shuttle was already there?
• Laserbeak is secretly, stealthily, taking out all the humans that helped the Decepticons with their plans. But when Sam is helped by one of those humans, Laserbeak goes nuts and shoots up an entire office to get at him. Dumbass.
• Half of the Autobots are apparently Scottish now.
• Speaking of Scottish Transformers, didn’t Jetfire create a spacebridge all on his own in the 2nd film? Then why is it a special something only Sentinel can make happen in this film?
• In the beginning of the movie, the Autobots take out an Iranian nuclear site so that the humans “don’t make the same mistakes we did.” This just felt weird. Why aren’t they hunting Decepticons? They’re really doing missions for the USA like that? Just weird.
• Did I mention Megan Fox needed to be in this movie already?

I could keep going on and on but I can’t believe I’ve even written this much. In the end I’ll say that even in the 2nd film, which was stupid and numbing, they put a lot of effort into the characters, their motivations, creating interesting new Transformers (Devestator, even with his balls, was neat)… it was a bad film but clearly they were at least trying. Here, they didn’t even try. I don’t mind going to see a big spectacle where the script isn’t as great as it COULD have been (loved the new Tron), but this complete lack of effort is inexcusable.
I gotta go pee.

A Tale of Two Wizards

Our first ever Wizard Halloween party. Best of times.

I haven’t used this blog in over a year and a half but the reaction to the cancellation of Wizard and ToyFare made me want to write something, somewhere, because having been there before day 1 makes this last day very meaningful for me.

From what I’ve read online so far, there’s too much celebration of the downfall of the “upstairs” management, and not enough loving eulogies recalling the good times we had “downstairs” in editorial. It IS understandable though. As Wizard got really big and successful, people “upstairs” thought everyone should suck their assholes because their dicks were too good for ‘em. Maybe that plan works at Halliburton, but the world of comics is a small place where everyone knows each other, loves what they’re working on, and likes to keep it loose. So you can imagine management’s annoyance that their bungholes remained unsucked. Wizard began as a silly fun-time friend and ended as an adversarial bully.

Before I share my fond memories, I gotta get something off my chest and for that you need to know my place in the Wizard family. I was friends with Pat McCallum (who would become editor-in-chief, more on him later) and through him I knew Gareb Shamus back when there was only the Wizard of Cards and Comics store in Nanuet, New York. When the Shamus clan decided to launch the magazine, Pat created content and recommended me to help out. I found myself making the 2-hour drive from college at SUNY Albany every weekend to do everything from writing, updating the price guide, designing pages and antagonizing Canadians in the letters column. It such a blast, especially compared to learning Political Science, that I left college and joined full time. I’d work there for the next 13 years.

While Pat grew to be the editor-in-chief, I grew to manage production and printing, but eventually got jealous and moved back to editorial. I was the guy who handled everything the core Wizard staff couldn’t focus on. All the one-shots, most of the new magazine launches (from the great ToyFare and Anime Insider to the unfortunate Sci-Fi Invasion and InPower). I was gleefully spewing enough creative juices to put an orchard out of business. You don’t know how satisfying it was to look back and know my reading comics during class in elementary school was actually prepping me to get paid for having fun.

So now you’re up to speed when I say that I owe my coworkers an apology. Having been there from the embryo stage, I felt a very close connection to the place and thought the people hired years later didn’t have the same claim. I acted Holier-Than-Thou as casually as I drew breath (Plus, I hadn’t yet started taking wonderful Paxil for my social anxiety disorder). Those that I were friends with found me difficult at times. Those I weren’t friends with found me a full-time douchebag who liked causing problems. I need to finally get off my chest that I’m sorry for the douchebaggery and wish I could do it all over again.

So let’s review my fondest memories, bulleted for your pleasure.

1. Jim McLauchlin’s Out-Of-Context Quote File: So many bizarre sentences innocently came out of our mouths that Jim had to record them. He eventually stopped at 75 pages and I still read it for a laugh. Some classics: “I saw a 10-inch Punisher.” – Phil Colligan on action figures; “He had a colon up in his nut graph, which is great.” – Joe Yanarella on punctuation use; “I don’t have a problem with it. I have a problem that you don’t have a problem with it.” – Fred Pierce on logic; “Octobrains? Oof, you’d better have rockets.” – Steve Blackwell on who-knows-what.

2. The Booger at The Urinal: Someone was gross enough to pick their nose while using the urinal, and a painter was lazy enough to just paint right over it. So, we got to stare at that thing for years. Yummy!

3. Anthony Daniels’ Face: Matt Senreich, who was also my housemate at the time, and I had breakfast with Anthony Daniels. Matt complained about my cats’ automatic litterbox, and I explained that I didn’t clean it before it got full of poo and jammed. The face c-3po made is a fond memory.

4. The Alex Ross Special: Alex Ross is as nice and humble as he is talented, and it was such a joy to work with him on his Wizard special. The highlight was when he shipped us a large box stuffed with his sketches, designs, early work, rough layouts and more for us to pick through for various parts of the book. I was like a kid at a candy store and years later I saw much of it on sale for thousands of dollars each. I wonder what that whole box was worth.

5. The Spider-Man Photo Shoot: In a Spider-Man special we had a photo feature of Spider-Man showing us around Marvel’s Manhattan. So we hired the official guy who Marvel uses for Spider-Man events and hit the city. This guy trained at Juliards and was totally into character, so wherever we went, cars honked, people shouted at us and kids went apeshit. There was a wedding party, tuxes and gowns and all, taking photos in front of the flatiron building — they freaked out when we turned the corner and he ended up in their wedding album. Awesome.

6. The Games: Thank god for InQuest magazine. Those guys had to play games as research for the mag and I just had to join ‘em: Magic tournaments during lunch every day, and often huge chaos games in the conference room through the night; Month-long Diplomacy games with one move a week and secret meetings every day; So many Magic ripoffs we played and laughed at. Thanks to them I’d spend more than 4 grand on my Magic collection, which I eventually sold and bought a 65-inch TV with. Whee!

7. Halo: Speaking of games, Pat McCallum had a TV and an xbox in his office. When Halo came out we’d play it every day after work. Every day. For like a year. It was the origin of the phrase “I hate you in life,” for when you were killing someone so often in the game that they just fucking hated you. Best game ever.

8. Killing Time In the Weekly Meeting: Every Thursday morning, all the editors and other department heads had a meeting, with Gareb at the head, to review things. It was agonizing because there were a few people there who were terrible, just terrible at everything, but could do no wrong because they were the yes-men to the right people. So you’d never know what asinine, disruptive comment they might make about your update that could end up ruining your day. So we found ways to keep it fun. We editorial types all sat at the far and of the table, so we’d secretly keep tabs on how many times certain people told Gareb he was right, or how many times a certain consultant would start a very authoritative-sounding thought, but pause mid-way expecting someone else who actually knew what’s what to finish it for him (I think his record was 5 times in one meeting). One day a dummy was thrown off the roof past the conference room window, timed exactly so that everyone saw it and freaked the fuck out. Shit that was good.

9. Hugging Stan Lee: Okay this happened after I left Wizard to work at Robot Chicken, but it kinda counts. We had him come in to record dialogue for the show and I told him I wanted to thank him, since my whole life unfolded because of his work at Marvel. I read Marvel comics as a kid, became close friends with fellow comics fans as a teenager, one of whom got me onboard Wizard, where connections made Robot Chicken happen, so I moved to LA where I met my wife. He then smiled and said “Well then, can I have twenty bucks?!” I tried to give him a twenty but he was kidding and, with permission, I hugged the guy. One of the nicest men on Earth, I wish we were related.

10. My Proudest Moment: A few weeks after 9/11, I volunteered to work the overnight shift at a National Guard relief station downtown. Like a MASH cafeteria, we served hot food to relief workers, soldiers and cops in a big green tent. I poked around during a lull and went to check out a row of teddy bears strung across a wall. They were kids’ teddy bears mailed in to the workers with crayon-written notes like “This is my teddy bear he makes me feel safe at night I hope he makes you feel better.” Well, I almost lost my shit reading that and did a fast 180 to clean up the tables. I straightened up a few magazines on one table — two copies of Time and… a Wizard. To think that something we made was something some of those folks wanted to flip through for a moment of escapism… well, it’s a singular memory that outshines anything that was ever bad about that job.

That’s about it. I know there won’t be much more chatter online about Wizard’s cancellation since it’s already been a couple of days, but I think it would be nice if anyone who’s saying “good riddance” has gotten it out of their system. Let’s go out raising a glass to a great magazine and to a bunch of hard-working guys who made it happen.

where have i gone?

mexico on my arm

mexico on my arm

In case you were thinking that I’ve given up on my blog, I thought I’d let you know that I haven’t. But my poor cat Mexico, who’s been my baby for 15 years and 4 months, is having some serious health issues, and I’m not in the mood for communication while we’re going through it. I’ll be back eventually…

now i’ve seen everything, part 1

train vs killer tornado

So here’s how I see this train’s thought process going.
1. I’m a train, I’m a train. I’m big and heavy and I’m a train. I’m a train.
2. Still a train. Rockin’ back and forth, movin’ along, I’m a train.
3. Startin’ to rain and I’m a train. Drizzle drizzle, movin’ a long, rain don’t stop a train.
4. Lots of rain, still a train. Trees swishing around like crazy, I’m a train.
5. OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. GOD HELP ME, OH MY GOD.
6. THE TANK CAR! IT’S NOT STOPPING, OH MY GOD I’M FUCKING DEAD!
7. WHY GOD, WHYYYYYY? I’M JUST A TRAIN I DIDN’T DESERVE THIS, WHYYYYYYYY?

we are silly

Usually when you see a show’s creators at a convention, they don’t have the entire audience yell profanity at the top of their lungs. Usually.
It was great seeing all you fans at Anime Expo 2009! See ya all next year!