Monthly Archives: September 2005

So these two geeks are playing cards . . .

Of course, being geeks, Ian and I weren’t playing poker or anything, we were playing one of those collectible card games. The really popular one. No, not the one about Japanese kids making imaginary animals fight in death-matches, the other really popular one. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, suffice to say that it has all the accoutrements of your standard nerd game: elves, dwarves, dragons, yada, yada, yada. To my recollection, Ian was winning. No, that’s not right. He was drinking wine from my skull while performing unspeakable acts on every orifice in my body with a meat tenderiser. It was that kind of game.

Most of this triumphant pounding was derived from one card, which he had taken to nick-naming “Argoth the Destructor.” However, merely trouncing me with Argoth’s fury did not prove satisfactory. Every time Argoth attacked, an ever-growing expository tirade began in a voice not unlike that of the narrator of Conan the Barbarian. Coincidence? I think not. But it was damn entertaining and I couldn’t help but get in on the fun myself. It became a game of sorts, seeing who could outdo the other by keeping their pointless and proper-noun laden narration going for longer.

Argoth may in fact be the ultimate culmination of post-modern culture. Suburban white kids, ones not even considered cool by other suburban white kids, taking the principles of free-style rap and applying them to narration of a non-existent fantasy film. It’s not even about the fictional fantasy film itself, it’s about the concept of a narrated introduction. One can almost imagine that Andy Warhol, Walt Disney, and George Lucas were conspiring to create this very moment from the beginning. We kept up the game for a while and the abstract character that was Argoth kept rearing his head. We were going to do a comic about him for a while there, but that fell through. Then Ian resurrected him on the Legends forum on MySpace, bringing back the game in a sort of jam story form, but that didn’t really catch on. I’m taking another crack at it anyway, albeit in a slightly modified form.

There’s another reason I’m trying to do this. It has to do with a different conversation with Ian from a few months back. He called me to tell me about Octobriana, a comic character from the former Soviet Union. Not only was she a super-woman who stood for Socialist ideals but the comic itself did as well. There was no copyright; any artistic citizen good tell a story of the righteousness of the state via the exploits of Octobriana. After the end of Communist Europe, westerners began to do Octobriana comics and zines with the requisite degree of irony. Ian’s line of thought, which I agreed with, was why not create intentionally public domain characters ourselves and try and spread their use as much as possible? Comics and popular fiction are filled with archetype characters, so there might as well be a single character to represent the archetype that anyone can use. Enter Argoth.

So I figure this blog will be a place to start. I’m going to try and get as many members as I can, hopefully all posting stories about Argoth. They don’t have to follow any sort of pattern or continuity. They can be whatever you feel like writing that would use the big, dumb fantasy barbarian archetype, whether it be serious, comedy, or an abstraction like the original game. With any luck I’ll get this going. If you are reading this and you interested in joining, e-mail me and I’ll get you on board.

May your sword stay ever wet, like a young girl in her prime. — Man O War, Hail and Kill

P.S. Props to my beloved Elise and the Judge Bob Doom for being, to my knowledge, my most devoted readers. Not to slight anyone else, just wanted to thank the people I know for a fact read this #$%@!

P.P.S. My review of Serenity forthcoming. I can’t wait for tonight.

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Nintendo’s Che Guevara

So Nintendo unveiled the controller for their next system, the Revolution. There’s been a ton of debate in the gamer geek community based on people’s reactions to just seeing the damn thing and I don’t feel like I need to add anymore to that. But I did read a really interesting article that I wanted to share with the few people who a)actually read this thing and b)care about video games.

The Good, the Bad, and the Brilliant

I think that to most people the idea of film score composers boils down to this: IMDB’s daily poll question was simply “John Williams or Danny Elfman?” They’re both great and deserve a lot of credit for what they’ve done; Williams most especially for Star Wars and Superman, Elfman for Beetlejuice and Batman. But I found it sort of funny that I came across this today when I already had film scores on my mind, because I was thinking about the guy who I think is the all-time best, and it isn’t either of those two. You don’t have to be the most rabid film buff to know who Ennio Morricone is but he’s also not exactly a household name. One of my room-mates (Jay) and his girlfriend (Emily) were watching Kill Bill Vol. 2 last night and despite needing to get to sleep after finishing my homework, I couldn’t help but stop to watch about twenty minutes or so. My other roomie (Mike) was likewise compelled. The thing that comes up every time we watch either volume, no matter how many times we see them, is the sheer brilliance of the sound track. No other film has used it’s soundtrack so well in a very long time. Probably not since Morricone’s best work in the 1960’s on the so-called “Spaghetti Westerns,” A Fist Full of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. The score to that last one was so memorable that every nerd I know in my age group thinks of that music as the definitive sound of an Old West showdown, even though more than half of them don’t know where it came from. No one captures tension and intensity in music like Morricone. Nor is any other composer’s individual sound so truly unique and special. He’s the best there is, period.

I should probably be exploiting this time for school work . . .

I have always loved comics. This isn’t exactly a shocking revelation to anyone to whom I am so much as a tangential acquaintance. It started sometime around second or third grade. I remember we were going on a trip and before we left my mom let me pick out a few books from the spinner rack at the Cumberland Farms that I used to have to ride my bike to on milk and newspaper runs for my parents. That first stack included Detective Comics, Batman, Fantastic Four, and a Solo Avengers featuring a Hawkeye story and a Black Panther story. But right around that same time I was beginning a daily ritual that has as much to do with my love for comics as those four-color newsprint adventures that covered my fingers in ink smudges. I was reading the comics page in the paper. Every strip, every day. There were a few boring ones that fell off early who’s names I can’t be burdened with remembering. Then there were the ones that made a serious impact; my fast favorites that made that pre-dinner hour one of the most anticipated parts of my day (I had to wait for Dad to get home from work and read the paper himself before I was allowed to have the section). The proverbial five-hundred pound gorilla of these was Gary Larson’s The Far Side. To a nerdy kid in the late Eighties nothing could have been funnier. In fact, to a nerdy twenty-something in 2005, there are still few things that even match it. It regularly bugs me that in the last two years since it became available, I have never quite mustered the economic wherewithal to purchase the beautiful, two-volume slipcase edition that collects every damn Far Side that Larson ever did. There were others, too. There was Bloom County, there was Calvin & Hobbes, there was Robotman, and there was Peanuts, even though now as a more “mature” comics snob Schultz’s work by the period I started reading seems a pale imitation of his earlier genius. God help me, I loved Garfield, but what kid in the Eighties didn’t? It’s funny to think how quickly Doonesbury was filed under boring and was thus among the small few left unread each day, only to skyrocket to the top of the list when I hit junior high and started to actually get it.

I don’t read the paper nowadays; I rely on internet sources for my news. Which brings me to what got me thinking about all of this in the first place — I have really only just started reading web comics. Despite my nerdiness and generation, I always seem to be a little behind the curve when it comes to anything that involves technology in any way. Maybe not behind the curve when compared to the populace at large, but certainly when compared to my geek brethren. I’ve been reading Goats for awhile, because it’s funny and it gets e-mailed to me for free. It was really my entrance into the cubicle world that got me regularly reading the two other web comics that I already knew I liked, namely PvP and Penny Arcade. In the past week or so, I have expanded my horizons, regularly looking at the links lists on news sites dedicated to the form, reading a few days worth of almost everyone I come across, deciding if it’s worth my time or not. I’ve got about fourteen different comics in their own little favorites folder now. I think that qualifies as a growing interest. There is some real entertaining stuff out there and if you don’t already you owe it to yourself to check some out.

Another great thing about this whole new-fangled internet thingy is that I’ve gotten back to reading the strips from the paper again, thanks to Yahoo news. Doonesbury has never been as important in my life as it is right now. Reprints of Bloom County are being run every day. Foxtrot is a favorite that debuted a few years into my newspaper reading and is a sort of syndicated uncle to the geek-friendly web comics. Boondocks had just started to hook me when I fell out of my regular reading habits and I am glad to be back on board with it. Cartooning is important, even when it’s silly. It’s a form of art with old roots that really developed and came into its own in the twentieth century. It’s certainly one that I have very deep and sincere love for, and for once I have technology to thank for giving me back something good for my spirit.

Who shot who in the what now?

My internet access at work was down for about a week and a half. My time at Stockton has started. Hence, no blog for a bit. Well, really, more the work thing than the Stockton thing, I’ve actually only been in class for two days now. As annoying as it was to not have web access for that week, I did finally finish reading Player Piano and read all of Phillip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly. It can be hard to read in this place, having to shift your attention back and forth between the page and the phone. Still, it was good practice to do it all week, since I’m going to rely on that extra reading time as school gets more intense. In fact, as I write this, I’m just taking a short break from How to Read Literature Like a Professor. My work load is going to be significant, having three classes with the word “literature” in their names, but I’m sure I’ll face worse in the future. There will inevitably be some rough times . . . like having a five to six page paper explicating a poem based on the meanings of the words at the time it was written as provided by the Oxford English Dictionary due on the Monday after SPX weekend. I don’t think I have anything due the Monday after Halloween weekend, which is good. Word of the party is, of course, spreading like a mutant virus in the Congo river basin. But I digress . . .

Literary Methodologies actually requires me to blog; part of the class participation grade is based upon how active in the on-line class community we are. There is the blog and something else called WebCaucus, which I believe is a message board and forum. I’ll put a link up between the two blogs if it’s not something you need a college password to get to . . . I don’t think it will be, the prof’s web site is public. Well, that’s about it. No clever closer, not even a clear conclusion. I need to go to the break room and get another Pepsi; I’m crashing from the one I had at lunch. I’ll have to make this one stretch through the rest of the day. I’m looking forward to seeing Elise and drawing this weekend, and maybe I’ll make my first entry from home in this thing while I’m at.

P.S. Go out and get Plans, the new album from Death Cab for Cutie, as soon as you can. So I sayeth.

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