Monday, January 31, 2011
People have been downloading movies and music and television shows on their computers for quite some time, but many are not aware that comic books can also be downloaded onto your computer. (I feel that I ought to offer something of a disclaimer, however, because downloading rather than buying comic books could cause serious problems for the comic book industry. Whereas I believe we will keep seeing the production of music and movies, mostly because downloading doesn't prevent but rather promotes social events like going to concerts or seeing films in theaters, excessive downloading of comic books without giving money or support to publishers could possibly destroy the entire comic book industry - goodbye Batman, Superman, Spider-man and the X-Men.) Comic books are made available as CBR or CBZ files, variations on RAR and ZIP storage files for use with various comic book viewing applications. When I first began downloading computers I became exasperated with these comic book viewing applications. There was always some sacrifice in the experience of the comic book, either pertaining to ease of use or limitations of viewing. I had gotten to the point where I simply changed CBR files into RAR files and CBZ files into ZIP files and used Windows Photo Viewer (for years!) to view my comic books.
Amy discovered a comic book reader called Comic Rack a little while back, an application that I dismissed immediately because of my troubles in the past. The more I saw Amy use it, however, the more I realized that this program was exactly what I needed. Not only was the user interface amazing, but it saved your place every time you closed the program and helped you to organize your reading order by manipulation of folders and lists within the program. I mostly read comic books in paper form in order to support the industry, but when I cannot find a particular issue or issues Comic Rack makes my reading experience just as pleasing as it might have been were I to have the physical copy in my hands.
Comic Rack can be downloaded here. Support the comic book industry, but whenever you need to download a comic book, make sure you read it with Comic Rack.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Batman: Year One gained a great deal of acclaim a couple of years ago when Christopher Nolan noted it as one of the main influences on his film Batman Begins. When it comes to comic book story arcs, however, Year One stands on its own two feet, especially considering that its success convinced DC comics to continue the Year One line for a couple of decades. (I saw a reference to Green Arrow: Year One in an issue of Countdown that I recently read.) Of Frank Miller's Dark Knight stories, it is the most widely accepted for its depiction of Batman and it is the only story that is canon in both the mainline DC universe (Earth 1) and Miller's Dark Knight universe.
Curiously, this beloved Batman storyline is not about Batman so much as it is about Commissioner Gordon. The story begins and ends with Gordon and Gordon is the clear protagonist. Batman's coming of age as a hero is a foil to ally Jim Gordon's rise in influence as a good cop in the den of thieves that is the Gotham City Police Department.
Batman: Year One introduces readers not just to Jim Gordon and Batman, but also to District Attorney Harvey Dent (who will one day become Two-Face) and prostitute Selina Kyle (who will one day become Catwoman). He also plays out the interesting relationships between Batman, Gordon and Dent, possibly the only three people in Gotham with both the desire and the power to fight against the city's corruption. Year One sets up for many of the greatest Batman stories ever told, worth reading both because of its solo story and the influence this story has had on everything since.
And with the hype surrounding Nolan's third Batman flick The Dark Knight Rises, it can't hurt to get caught up on your Batman stories. Batman: Year One is a superb place to start!
Actor Jeff Bridges. It's been a heck of a year for Jeff Bridges. On the coat tails of winning an Academy Award for his performance in the 2009 film Crazy Horse, Bridges wowed us with two late-2010 hits: TRON: Legacy and True Grit. But you probably love him already for his performances over the years in films such as TRON, The Big Lebowski, and Door in the Floor. Bridges, much like the Coen Brothers, alternates from serious to comedic so quickly and impressively that he seems almost like a normal human being, only amplified much louder than the rest of us. At 61, it doesn't look like Bridges has any intention of slowing down. As a matter of fact, sometimes it seems like he's just getting started.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
When Amy came to Fort Worth I was challenged with the necessity of discerning which restaurants would be best to dine at during her short stay. Reflecting upon my first several visits to Fort Worth a couple years ago a sort of "Holy Trinity" of Fort Worth-near-TCU restaurants emerged, namely Fuzzy's Tacos on Berry, Ol' South on University, and a pizza place called Mellow Mushroom. Prior to bringing Amy to Mellow Mushroom I had little love for Mellow Mushroom, but dining there a couple days before TCU classes resumed for the semester I found that my disdain had come not from the restaurant itself but from the masses of wealthy, self-obsessed and often whiny undergraduates who frequent the popular pizza place.
Mellow Mushroom is a hip restaurant, and, as the name suggests, it plays upon the imagery of stoner culture. Amy was immediately reminded of a favorite sub shop in Tucson, Arizona called Cheba Hut. We ordered a Mellow Mushroom specialty A Magical Combination, which includes Magical Mystery Tour, a pesto base pizza with button and portabello mushrooms, mozerella, spinach, feta and jalapenos, and a Magic Hat #9 beer. The pizza tasted fantastic, and in the proper pizza style it was still good after sitting a couple days in Amy's car when I ate it in the parking lot of the Container Store. The Magic Hat #9 reminded me of my year living in Brooklyn where Magic Hat beers are much more common on tap at bars. It got me tipsy pretty quickly after only one beer, but also after spending a great deal of time moving my Christmas presents and bags back into my apartment.
Of the "Holy Trinity," two of the restaurants are pretty great. Mellow Mushroom is certainly one of them, and I suggest you check it out. As for the second of the great restaurants, I suppose you'll just have to stay tuned to Cavemengo in order to find out.
TO BE CONTINUED...
3455 Bluebonnet Circle
Fort Worth, TX 76109
Video blocked once again. You know you're doing something good when someone tries to take it away. Am I right? Anybody? Anybody... Anyways, here's a download link for Arnold 365, Day 29.
Banner by Adam Friedli.
Friday, January 28, 2011
1. "15 Step" - 3:58
2. "Bodysnatchers" - 4:02
3. "Nude" - 4:15
4. "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" - 5:18
5. "All I Need" - 3:48
6. "Faust Arp" - 2:09
7. "Reckoner" - 4:50
8. "House of Cards" - 5:28
9. "Jigsaw Falling into Place" - 4:09
10. "Videotape" - 4:42
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Actor Chris Messina. You may recognize him as Tom Garnett in Away We Go, Eric Powell in Julie & Julia, or Detective Bowden in Devil. I cannot say enough about how much the movie industry needs fantastic supporting actors and actresses. In fact, after Best Picture, Best Actor and Actress are always my favorite categories at the Academy Awards. Messina is a fantastic supporting character. He simply does what is needed for his roles and adds depth and flavor to the films that he is in. I'm a big fan.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
"I got a little teary-eyed reading a comic today," I said to Amy while we were waiting for an oil change in Lowell, Michigan. "You should have seen it. It was pretty funny."
"Oh yeah?" Amy inquired. "What were you reading?"
"It was this 'Sinestro Corps War' crossover in Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps comics," I said. I went on to describe a touching moment - which I won't describe in detail for fear of spoiling the story - which involved the people of Coast City showing great courage in a time of great fear. As I described the situation to Amy the tears start welling up again, more heavily even than before, climaxing when I choked out the words, "and then they called it the city without fear."
Green Lantern has been fantastic since Rebirth, but the "Sinestro Corps War" crossover marked the first sign of greatness for post-Recharge Green Lantern Corps. In fact, the storyline redeems any previous Green Lantern Corps story arcs that might not have stolen the attention of readers for whatever reason due to the fact that the entire series is a constructive response to an odd prophecy from an obscure Alan Moore story from the '80s. The story is both epic and incredibly personal, tying together decades of Green Lantern mythology in an entertaining and emotional way.
This story is collected sequentially in a two-volume trade paperback titled The Sinestro Corps War. Give it a shot. If you want the whole story (I believe that Geoff Johns considers the "Sinestro Corps War" to be the second part of a trilogy, of which I can only imagine Rebirth and Recharge are the first part) I'd read all of Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, and Ion since Rebirth and Recharge.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
1. "The Eraser" - 4:55
2. "Analyse" - 4:02
3. "The Clock" - 4:13
4. "Black Swan" - 4:49
5. "Skip Divided" - 3:35
6. "Atoms for Peace" - 5:13
7. "And It Rained All Night" - 4:15
8. "Harrowdown Hill" - 4:38
9. "Cymbal Rush" - 5:15
Not only did Youtube disable my link this time. They disabled the entire video. Luckily I have a few cards up my sleeve. Click here to download Arnold 365, Day 25 (Conan the Barbarian).
Banner by Adam Friedli.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Hal Jordan has gone through a roller coaster ride of a life, rivaling the difficulties of DC big sellers like Batman and Superman. Hal is known as the greatest Green Lantern of all, but he's also gone by the names Parallax and Specter (not to mention Dead). As of the events of Green Lantern: Rebirth, however, he is simply Hal Jordan, Green Lantern of 2814.
Well, not simply. Following Rebirth, Green Lantern (Volume 4) is a type of renaissance for Hal Jordan, reminding readers that Hal Jordan is a cocky flirt who leaves his power ring behind and risks his life as a fighter jet pilot. He's Tom Cruise's Maverick from Top Gun. But the ongoing series also serves as a sort of purgatory for Hal Jordan (as if he hasn't already been there). He encounters the Manhunters (the Guardians' first attempt at policing the universe), Amon Sur (the disenfranchised son of Abin Sur), the return of not only the lanterns Jordan left to die but also of Mongul (the bane of Coast City) and Sinestro (Jordan's greatest foe). Hal Jordan is inclined to do good even in a universe that no longer trusts him, and it makes for a good series.
In the end, even Jordan's biggest critic, Batman/Bruce Wayne, welcomes Hal back. As for me, I'm with Batman. Geoff Johns writes some fantastic Green Lantern stories that continuously force Hal to question who he is. You'll find few better stories in the last decade of comics. So, pick it up already.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Grand Rapids, Michigan is a one hot dog stand kind of town. I'm not saying that it is a small town. Quite the opposite, in fact - there are several Starbucks in Grand Rapids. But for my entire life the question of where to get great hot dogs has always been answered, Yesterdog. Yesterdog is a simple, anti-chain, hip, local hot dog eatery, but I've seen it run its fair share of hot doggeries out of business.
I was skeptical when I saw Jonny B'z pop up next to the Winchester, not because I thought the food would be bad, but because I doubted that the restaurant would stay in business long enough for me to even visit. Jonny B'z has been in business now for at least half of a year and I've been there four or five times in the last month alone. The hot dogs are great and I expect Jonny B'z to, as Arnold Schwarzenegger would say, "stick around."
Here's why: Jonny B'z does not pretend to be the local taste of the people. In many ways it is just another hot dog restaurant. It has no single reason for being. It is clear, however, that the hot dogs are inspired by a careful study of the many cultures of dogs across the United States and then some. The hot dogs are flat top grilled and placed in a European-style grilled bun, available Chicago-style, Carolina-style with slaw, Cajun-style with a sausage, or even German-style with kraut. You can get gumbo or even a brisket sandwich there. Whereas Yesterdog is a local delicacy, Jonny B'z is a traveling sideshow of hot dog wonders. What it lacks in a single solitary hot dog identity, it makes up for in diversity.
I haven't had a dog at Jonny B'z that I didn't like. The Jonny Dog, topped with catsup, mustard, pickle, onion and chili is pretty fantastic. The Hampton Meeks is a personal favorite, garnished with mustard, chili and slaw. The Kraut Dog is self explanatory and satisfying, balancing kraut with mustard and onion. The Chicago Dog impressed my girlfriend, a hot dog connoisseur with specialties in Hotdogus chicagosis, a delicacy with mustard, pickles, relish, tomato, onion, sport peppers and celery salt. But if ever there were an uber-dog, it would be the Cajon dog (cleverly mixing "Cajun" and "Jonny"), a spicy sausage available any way you want it. I had a Cajon with the same toppings as the Hampton Meeks and it was quite delicious. The french fries are off the hook, and there are four different flavors of salt that you can use on them, celery, vinegar, bacon cheddar and Mediterranean.
If you're in the neighborhood, make sure you stop by Jonny B'z. Grand Rapids, Michigan is a two hot dog stand kind of town after all.
638 Wealthy St.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
1. "2 + 2 = 5 (The Lukewarm.)" - 3:19
2. "Sit Down. Stand Up. (Snakes & Ladders.)" - 4:19
3. "Sail to the Moon. (Brush the Cobwebs out of the Sky.)" - 4:18
4. "Backdrifts. (Honeymoon Is Over.)" - 5:22
5. "Go to Sleep. (Little Man Being Erased.)" - 3:21
6. "Where I End and You Begin. (The Sky Is Falling In.)" - 4:29
7. "We Suck Young Blood. (Your Time Is Up.)" - 4:56
8. "The Gloaming. (Softly Open Your Mouths in the Cold.)" - 3:32
9. "There There. (The Boney King of Nowhere.)" - 5:23
10. "I Will. (No Man's Land.)" 1:59
11. "A Punchup at a Wedding. (No no no no no no no no.)" - 4:57
12. "Myxomatosis. (Judge, Jury & Executioner.)" - 3:52
13. "Scatterbrain. (As Dead as Leaves.)" 3:21
14. "A Wolf at the Door. (It Girl. Rag Doll.)" - 3:23
A couple of years ago, I went to the New York Comic Con and witnessed, at the Marvel booth, the unveiling of a mission-based Iron Man video game and a sandbox Incredible Hulk game, both for the X-Box 360. The high-definition three-dimensional environments astounded me and the game play looked fantastic. I gazed in awe at these two video game wonders before promptly forcing myself to turn away and never look back. The temptation to play seventh generation console (Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, X-Box 360) games combined with my meager earnings could only bring about suffering.
The last console games I remember playing were Xenosaga and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on Playstation 2 and X-Box respectively, archaic, outdated systems. I'd played Wii at bars and large get-togethers with friends, but it wasn't until finding that Amy owned a Playstation 3 that I actually got into the new wave of console gaming. We played Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4, Brutal Legend, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game, and X-Men (a port of the original arcade game). It was quite the console renaissance, and perfectly timed, considering the fact that many believe the next (eighth) generation of consoles to be overdue. I even found myself the proud owner of an X-Box 360 game and controller by the end of the year (but sadly, no X-Box 360).
I may be behind the times, but at least I'm still trying.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
While I was away from Fort Worth for the summer, a group of school friends that I had played a lot of video games with had been getting together weekly to play Dungeons and Dragons, the table-top turn-based role-playing game that every RPG can be traced back to. When I came back in the fall, I considered playing a practical joke on them by writing a letter to Westboro Baptist Church begging that they protest D&D night. I'd get a good laugh out of it, and I'd also be doing the world a lot of good by distracting Westboro from committing horrors in the name of God.
My plan fell apart when my friends invited me to play and I found that I really enjoyed D&D. Rarely have I ever found myself embarrassed of the things I enjoy, but I felt like a fool telling my beautiful girlfriend I spent Sunday nights as an elven psion whose name is derived from Fox Mulder's pen name on X-Files. I remembered talk in the late 80s and early 90s of some kids who had killed themselves because of D&D and the stigma that had been attached to everybody and their dungeonmaster.
I guess I was kind of ashamed because that was all I had known of Dungeons and Dragons. Once I identified my problem I was able to expel the stigma and have myself a fantastic time. I firmly believe that the world belongs to geeks who really own it. Anyone who has a problem can take it up with the orb I use to focus my mind powers into dangerous force beams. This is no idle threat. My orb is +3.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
I once suggested to my friend Sam from Arkansas that there is only one real city in his home state. It is called Little Rock, and beyond its city limits is a wasteland of hypermorality (or, as I say, moral fixation) and hypocivilization. I found out recently, however, that the city of Carlisle, Arkansas is real, and if not that then at the very least the infamous restaurant known as Nick's BBQ and Catfish (advertised for up to 100 miles in either direction on billboards along I-40).
The wait staff is, as far as I was able to witness, entirely comprised of women in their 20s who call their patrons "baby" and "honey." This is a smart move, considering that Nick's caters to truck drivers, who are stereotypically understood to be adult males, lonely and weary from long hours of driving. The HD television in the back corner seems out of place as the plot of USA's Burn Notice (characters welcome) plays out predictably.
While the brisket and catfish (or catfood, according to a slip of the tongue I made while reading the billboard) are tauted, the slow smoked wood fire ribs are my reason for recommending Nick's. I don't know that anything more needs to be said regarding Nick's ribs save that the tender meat falls off the bone, revealing a smokey and satisfying taste.
There was once a time when my drive from Fort Worth to Grand Rapids lead me through Oklahoma City, Wichita and St. Louis. I now travel through Memphis, Nashville and Indianapolis, but before I get to those cities I make a pit stop in Carlisle for some exquisite ribs.
Nick's BBQ and Catfish
1012 North Bankhead Drive
Highway 13 North
Carlisle, AR 72024
1. "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box" - 4:00
2. "Pyramid Song" - 4:49
3. "Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors" - 4:07
4. "You and Whose Army?" - 3:11
5. "I Might Be Wrong" - 4:54
6. "Knives Out" - 4:15
7. "Morning Bell/Amnesiac" - 3:14
8. "Dollars & Cents" - 4:52
9. "Hunting Bears" - 2:01
10. "Like Spinning Plates" - 3:57
11. "Life in a Glasshouse" - 4:34
Sure, I'd watched my share of Batman: The Animated Series after school and I'd read a couple of free-standing Batman stories, but these were small exceptions to a twenty-year old "Make mine Marvel" perspective. If the topic of Kitty Pryde or Cyclops were to be brought up I'd be in hog heaven, but mention Superman in a positive light and you'd feel my disdain. Even Miller's Batman, possibly the only DC character I was familiar with, was always mad at Superman. For most of my life, I stood staunchly against anything published by DC comics.
In Amy I found a fellow comic book love. Whereas my boxes were full of Uncanny X-Men issues, hers overflowed with Batman books. She had a cat named Bruce, an homage to Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Bruce Campbell (the cult film actor). Batman is a large part of Amy's life and if I was to win her over the Dark Knight would have to be part of mine as well, so I dove in head first.
That fall I met a kindred spirit named Chad, a pretty cool dude that Amy jokingly refers to as my boyfriend, who guided me into a love affair with Green Lantern. I was reading two of DC's heaviest hitters and as a result I accidentally met and learned to love the rest of the DC universe (except for Lobo - he's mockery of the entire DC universe) through the various crisis crossovers.
The twenty years had come to an end. Make mine Marvel, but make it DC too.
Monday, January 17, 2011
During Spring Break 2010, I found myself in Roswell, New Mexico, in a hotel with three friends, Stephan, Adam and Tom. Stephan was at the time and remains in a happy relationship, but he was the only one. In fact, the rest of us were all reeling from recent break-ups. If we were honest with ourselves we were searching desperately for something new but we were each hamstringed by some sort of emotional unreadiness. This trip was all about being honest with ourselves.
I can say without exaggeration that during the first half of 2010 much of my consciousness was devoted to readying myself for love. At the end of the winter semester I traveled to New York City and used the metropolis as my laboratory. I grew a culture of confidence and charm there, powering up like Superman aside Earth's yellow sun. Upon returning to Grand Rapids, I released these energies upon an unsuspecting woman named Amy.
Amy is my current girlfriend, and I've ret-conned her into the position of love-of-my-life 1982 to current. After an exciting and passionate summer together and a difficult autumn apart, we rang in the New Year in one another's arms. I don't expect I'll ever need to find a new love. I may be foolish to suggest this after only eight months, but I prefer to see it as bold or courageous, heroic even, but most of all accurate.
Actor Terry O'Quinn. More than likely, if you recognize Mr. O'Quinn, it is from his role as John Locke on ABC's LOST, but he has also played important characters on other television programs like X-Files and ALIAS. O'Quinn is soft-spoken and rational until pushed to his limits, a fantastic balance of order and chaos, and possibly one of the best television actors I have ever seen.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Actor Erik King. You may recognize him as Sergeant James Doakes from the hit television show Dexter. Everyone I know who watches Dexter is in love with Michael C. Hall. I never really had that feeling. My love went out first to Dexter's father Harry Morgan (played by James Remar) and then to Sergeant Doakes (Erik King). Whereas other actors took most of the first season to get comfortable in their roles, Remar and King hit the ground running, and I really appreciate them for it.
Blogging is not exactly a new concept for me. I used to have a blog about music called Music, Sweet Music, one about food called Corn Like an Angel, a blog about travel called Captain's Blog. I've had many other blogs besides these. It kind of doesn't make any sense to suggest that blogging was a new frontier for me in 2010.
But it kind of does.
It was during 2010 that I really started taking blogging seriously. In previous years I had been the author of narrowly defined blogs with specific purposes. I would be into writing them for a while, but one of two things always happened: I either did not have enough experiences to continue to write (it is hard to write a travel blog when you're stuck in one place without a car), or I simply became bored with that specific topic.
My friend Elliot always supported what I was doing, but he thought I was spreading myself too thin. Elliot and I had both written for our band's blog Get Stop Ticket. He had also started a blog to showcase his art and music projects and things he was interested in called simply Elliot Mayo. Largely due to Elliot's influence I decided to create one blog to rule them all, and I called it Cavemen Go. That's the blog that you're reading right now.
In order to keep from being redundant, I will direct you to "500th Post / Clip Show", a blog I wrote in November of 2010 to celebrate 500 posts on Cavemen Go. If you're interested in learning more about the history of this blog, all you have to do is click here.