Friday, December 22, 2006

This 'N That Time...

If you haven't joined the DC History Yahoo Group yet (link provided on the links list), you've been missing out on my current mega-theme of TV Comics! This past week, with the passing of Joe Barbera, I've been posting covers of comics based on Hanna-Barbera programs, and despite all the covers I've posted, there's still a lot of books I haven't featured yet (I didn't even get to Scooby-Doo or Yogi Bear!).

This weekend, some of the members have been posting Christmas-themed covers, and I'll likely post a few of my favorites before the weekend is out.

Good news from my buddy Tony Isabella (yes, there's a link for him, too!)... it looks like he'll be doing some regular comics writing again in the near future! It's been way too long since I was able to pick up a Tony-written book, and I'm very much looking forward to finding out what title he'll be working on! And by the way, Tony... in case you're reading this, a belated Happy Birthday to you!

My ComicSpace page (link below, not on the right side) has been gathering "friends" fairly quickly -- faster than I expected! I only made one request myself to be added to someone's friends, but several people have requested they be added to my friends list, too (including This Is Pop Culture). Many of them are people I'm unaware of, at least by the names they're using on ComicSpace... and to be honest, I don't know if they're just asking any new member to add them to their friends list, or if they followed the link from here! This blog doesn't get many comments, so I have no idea how many readers there are (but in case anyone from This Is Pop Culture is reading this blog, when are you guys going to throw in a plug for the Comics They Never Made Archive page? The link's there on the right, y'know!).

Jessi and I have almost all our Christmas shopping done... just need one more item, which we hoped we'd be able to get at Wal-Mart today, but they appear to be sold out. We may have to go to our second choice for present, and we'll be going out to Toys R Us tomorrow to see if they have either our first or second choice. And yes, I did go ahead and bought a tiny token of my love for Jessi to give to her Christmas morning... either she'll be happy that I decided in some small way to get something for her, despite what we'd agreed on for our present to each other... or she'll be mad at me.

Hopefully the former.

I mentioned a while back that my comp copies of Twomorrows mags have had printed on the address label "Issues Left: 0", which was different from the "Issues Left: Lots!" that used to be there... and I still have no idea if I'm being dropped from the comp list or not. I did get the latest issue of Write Now! yesterday, and it's been a good read so far (but then, pretty much all their mags are good reads).

The work week ended relatively early for me... I was done at 3:30, when I'm usually not finished on Fridays until about 6 or so. I still ended up with a little bit of overtime, thanks to coming in early all week to cover for a person who's been on vacation. I even found time this week to do a few "spec" ads for one of the sales reps, plus I started working on my self-evaluation (which probably won't be asked for until late January). A tiring week, and sometimes frustrating, too... next week will likely be extremely slow, so I may need to come up with a few projects for myself!


Computers, Photos, and Hollywood

So, I think I may have had a few related eureka! moments lately, both concerning perceptions of what can and can't be done with photos on a computer.

Apologies to anyone who's tired of me complaining about the phenomena I'm going to talk about here (but I'll try to be brief).

As you probably know, I'm a graphic designer at the local newspaper, and we're almost constantly getting very bad quality photos to use in ads that we're somehow supposed to magically make look good (and if they don't look good, the customers will complain about them).

(Brief aside: I've been joking for the last few years that when our customers are going to take digital pictures, they should be sure their camera wasn't made by Fisher-Price -- imagine my amusement when Fisher-Price released a digital camera this Christmas season!)

I think that I figured how why it is that our customers think we can work wonders with their crappy digital pictures... it's because they see TV shows and movies that show people with high-tech equipment take, say, a photo taken by a cell phone camera, and blow it up, "enhance" it, and bring out amazing details.

So because they see this stuff on TV, they think it can be done in real life. And it can't. If we have a 2 inch by 2 inch 72 dpi photo, there's a real limit to what we can accomplish with it (as opposed to getting a 2 inch by 2 inch 600 dpi photo, anyway).

So why does Hollywood keep showing impossible stuff being done with digital pictures (and video, too) on TV shows and movies?

I think I figured out that one, too...

It's so that when these shows are rerun in syndication, they won't look dated with their technology. I mean, look at movies and TV shows from the 1980s, and their depiction of computers and videogames -- hopelessly outdated by today's standards (even some of the tech on the original Star Trek, which takes place 200+ years from now, is dated: Communicator = Cell Phone, you know)!

Either that, or in TV Land (and Movie Land), all digital cameras, whether standalone or in a cell phone, come with InfinitePixel resolution (for that matter, so do all TVs -- I remember an episode of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman where they were watching something on a TV, and Clark used his microscopic vision to pick out some tiny detail on the TV -- what kind of resolution did the Daily Planet have on their TVs?). InfinitePixel resolution, naturally, is the kind of resolution where no matter how much you zoom in, it will still be clear and sharp.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Don't ask me why...

...but I've created a ComicSpace page.

So far, I can barely see any reason for it, but I suppose if I decide to create some online comics, I can post 'em there when that feature is available.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas is Coming...

...fortunately, I have a payday before then, because I really haven't done a single bit of Christmas shopping.

Also fortunately, Jessi and I have decided that our gifts to each other this year will be a weekend away (don't know when it's going to be, or where we're going to go, but it does get me out of having to shop for something for her... although chances are I'll get her at least a little something anyway).

So that basically leaves the two nieces we drew the names of to shop for... and Jessi's actually going to handle that for me on Friday (she's got pretty much the whole day off).

Also coming up this weekend? We're going to be making some snowman cookies to take with us on Monday for my nieces to decorate (and probably immediately eat). I'm sure we've got other stuff going on this weekend, but I can't think of it.

Two more work days left this week... and I've been coming in to work early to cover for someone who's on vacation, so I've been racking up a bit of overtime so far... we'll have to see how tomorrow shakes out, as well as Friday. I suspect that Thursday will be extremely busy, and I'll at least put in one extra hour (if not more). Friday will probably start off very busy, then slow down to a crawl... then another rush as people realize that if they okay their ads, they can go home early for the long weekend. I'd be surprised if I'm there after 3 or 4 on Friday.

And that's really about all I've got to talk about tonight... I know, not too entertaining, but at least I'm not going two days in a row without posting! Don't you hate it when you check a blog on your regular bookmarks, and find there's not been a post for a long time?


Monday, December 18, 2006

Vanished... AAAAARGH!!!

Let me start by saying that in case any of you readers decided to watch Vanished based on the "viral video" that I posted back in August or so, or because I had a few good things to say about it when it first aired...

...I am so very sorry. I also apologize here, publically, to my wife, Jessi, who watched the first episode with me, wasn't all that thrilled with it, and then watched episodes two and three and really started getting into it.

As great as the show started... man, thanks to Fox, the show jumped the shark several times over!

In case you didn't watch the show, in the first episode, we're introduced to a senator and his second wife. He has two children from his first marriage, both teenagers (older teenagers). At a big frou-frou function, the senator's wife disappears, and is suspected to be kidnapped.

It turns out she is, and an FBI agent, Kelton, with something to prove is assigned to the case, along with his partner. There's also a TV reporter (I forget the character's name, as well as the actress' name, but she was previously famous for doing some soap commercial when she was a teenager... and was even mentioned in a Wayne's World segment on SNL) who's covering the story.

As things progressed, it was obvious that the kidnapping was done by a major consipiracy group that's somehow related to the Masons that did this to ensure their candidate got approved to be a Supreme Court Justice. This candidate had an affair with the senator's underage daughter, and we later learn she's pregnant with his child. There were twists and turns, as the daughter's boyfriend is implicated in the kidnapping, a mysterious man gives Kelton information that helps him find out a bit more about what is going on...

...and then Fox decided they didn't like the Agent Kelton character (so he got killed off -- the HERO of the series!) and that they needed to wrap up the series in 13 episodes...

...and then they took the show off the air before they could air those last episodes, condemming them to be aired over the internet on a MySpace page.

I think that the producers of the show basically said "F*ck it!" when they were told to wrap up the story in 13 episodes (I have no idea how many there were supposed to be), they threw in the replacement for Kelton, dropped a lot of the major conspiracy group stuff (making it look like the main movers and shakers behind this were part of a drug rehab retreat, of all things)... and had the senator's wife escape from her captors...

...and because she believed the crap her captors told her about her husband getting back together with his first wife, instead went back to this guy she got involved with long before meeting the senator, when she was using an assummed name.

Yeah, none of it ended up making a damn bit of sense. And Fox will be lucky if Jessi and I ever check out a new series on their network ever again.

Even if they come up with something as wonderful as House, I'm sure we'll wait to see if it lasts beyond one season before starting to watch it (and hope that USA or another cable channel shows repeats of the first season so we can catch up).

Oh, well... at least Heroes is going great guns, and it looks like Studio 60 will stick around for a while, too.

Can't say the same about Six Degrees, which we were also enjoying, but has also been pulled (with no hope, so far as I know, of seeing any unaired episodes).

Anyway, back to Vanished. I suppose I should be thankful we were able to watch the last four episodes or so, even if it was cancelled... but the ending they came up with was completely unsatisfying. It didn't resolve a damn thing whatsoever, and just made Jessi and I more frustrated than anything else.

So... let me offer some advice, in case any network people or TV show creators read this blog (as if!):

If you're putting a new TV show on the air that's going to tell a single serialized story, make sure the network is committed to showing the whole damn thing. And play it smart, plot it out to exactly 13 episodes. No more. If the numbers are good, you can do a sequel series (of, again, 13 episodes) that could run in mid-season or possibly later. Yeah, it's kind of like what's being done with shows like Psych, Monk and The Closer, where there's two "seasons" a year.

Anyway... like I said, 13 episodes. And MAKE SURE there's a satisfying end to it! And also make sure that when you're promoting the thing, you make sure to point out it is 13 episodes and that 13th episode will end the story!

The network should also arrange to show each episode on the Internet as well... and in a format BOTH PCs and Macs can watch (the MySpace page won't play for Macs) so that if someone happens to miss an episode, they can catch up (actually, they should have all episodes aired available to watch, like NBC's doing with Heroes).

And that's all I'm going to say about this.


Too Damn Many Deaths...

As I've commented before (and, sadly, will likely comment again), one of the problems that comes with being a fan of comics, cartoons, oldies music and so on and so on, is that many of the people who created stuff that I loved (and continue to love) are way up there in years, and too many of them pass away before I ever get a chance to say how much their work has meant to me.

The latest on the list (for me, anyway) is Joe Barbera. Regretfully, I've never met either him or partner William Hanna (who passed away a few years back), although I've read each of their autobiographies and, for all too short a time, I even owned a copy of "The Art of Hanna-Barbera" (a nice coffee table book that mostly featured reprints of the limited edition art sold through the Warner Bros. Studio Store).

Admittedly, I didn't love everything that Hanna-Barbera produced (like, for example, the Smurfs -- and I know they didn't create them, but they did bring them to TV), but there was plenty they produced that I did love. Here's a (probably) partial list:

Scooby-Doo. Jonny Quest. Space Ghost. The Herculoids. Birdman and the Galaxy Trio. Dynomutt. Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles. The Banana Splits. Atom Ant. Secret Squirrel. The first Fantastic Four animated series. Shazzan! Valley of the Dinosaurs. The Flintstones (one of those things that I loved as a little kid, later got bored with, and rediscovered as an adult). The Jetsons.

Some shows only lasted a season, while others became franchises. And I'm sure that there's lots of other stuff they did that I can't think of off the top of my head.

We'll miss you, Joe.


Thought I'd Done This Before...

...but this appears to be a different personality quiz than the one I'd done before.

Interestingly enough, the results are the same:

Your results:
You are Superman

Green Lantern
The Flash
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sunday Night...

...and a fairly uneventful day here at Chez Knutson.

After breakfast, our friend Tifney came over so she and Jessi could make some Christmas candy to give out to the nieces and nephew, and while they did that, I took KO and Krypto out for a walk to help wear them out a bit.

Got back from the walk, and they were still working away, making "reindeer poop" and "coal". Oh, forgot to mention that after breakfast, but before Tifney came over, I baked up an "improvisational apple pie."

Let me explain that a bit... when I'm cooking, I rarely follow recipes. More often than not, I'll be looking at what I have around the kitchen, and come up with something using that. Since Saturday night, I had made apple crisp (from a package mix, which didn't quite turn out) and we had one serving left of that, plus three extra apples, plus I had some Heart-Health Bisquick, milk, Splenda, and cinnamon, I figured I'd fake up an apple pie, using the Bisquick as the basis for the crust, and seeing what I could come up with for the filling.

Considering I didn't use a recipe (much less measured anything), it came out pretty tasty, and still much lower in calories than any other apple pie we've ever eaten.

Anyway... as Jessi and Tifney kept making candy, I stayed in the living room and watched some Robot Chicken eps I'd DVR'ed, and after those, I started watching some Voltron episodes I'd also recorded... except that I realized that I'd become completely bored with Voltron. Probably because the show really only had one basic plot, with maybe three variations. So I deleted the rest of the eps unseen, and cancelled the recording of future episodes.

I then went on to check out some On Demand content, watching a few Harvey Birdman episodes, among other things (I would've gone to the office and watched some of my DVDs, but I knew that if I did, I'd be constantly called back downstairs to help them find where things were stored in the kitchen... less frustrating to just go in from the living room, y'know).

Once they were done, Jessi and I watched some other On Demand stuff (we didn't have much left that was recorded on the DVR), mostly holiday-related things. Then our friend Kathy came over for dinner (which was pretty much a repeat of the steak/baked potato/veggies meal we had with brother Jeff on Saturday), bringing her boxer, Jaeger. The three dogs played together most of the time, helping tire them all out much more!

After Kathy left, we watched most of a CSI, and then it was Jessi's bedtime, as she'd learned she had power at work again, and so would have to go to work. Myself, I need to get to work early this week, as we have someone out on vacation, and they need me there first thing in the morning to help cover things... not that I expect it'll get particularlly busy right away, even with early deadlines looming for the next two weeks.