Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mission accomplished

-So we've managed to buy a car. While we were out buying stuff for it last night, we caught a a few minutes of Spider-Man 3 playing on a Blu-Ray display at Best Buy. Geez, did it look terrible. I mean, it looked good in the ways it's supposed to look good--you could see every pore, every bead of sweat on Topher Grace's face. That's pretty neat, the kind of thing that makes me wish we had a high def TV to watch sports or documentaries. But it also had the effect of making the scene (the climax at the end of the movie where Venom has Mary Jane webbed up in a car way up in the air) really fake-looking. The actors and the car were all extremely crisp, but everything else looked blurry and ill-defined. It reminded me of a cheap-looking sci-fi show my dad would force me to watch when I came home from college, c. 1997.

Admittedly, that's partly due to the nature of CGI effects, which can only be as sharp as they are originally rendered. And it's not like the scene was especially compelling to begin with (it's arguably the weakest part of the movie). But am I wrong in guessing that many, if not most, of the eager Blu-Ray adopters are going to be fans of CGI-heavy blockbusters like Spider-Man 3? Will computer generated effects have to get even more detailed to keep up with the incredible detail present in mundane reality? Substantial increases in sfx budgets will surely mean higher exhibition costs, which will naturally be passed down to the movie-going public. I don't watch too many movies (maybe that will change now that we have a car), so this isn't such a big deal for me. I did, however, work as a part-time projectionists for a couple of years back in college. If the movie theater industry collapses under the weight of exorbitant exhibition fees, it's really going to make me feel old to think I worked in a now-obsolete field.

-Oh boy, it really is convention season again, isn't it? The nice thing about the number of blogs out there is the relative ease in finding summaries of convention news without having to read the rather depressing details of the panels. I'm well past hype fatigue at the moment; in fact, I'm well past fanboy-reaction-to-hype fatigue, and even laughing-at-fanboy-reaction-to-hype fatigue (which generally has a lot of genuine, unadulterated fanboy-reaction-to-hype mixed in with it). The creators I follow in mainstream comics generally have enough of a following that word of their new projects spreads pretty quickly. Still, I didn't know about Matt Fraction getting involved in writing X-Men until I read about it fifth-hand. Maybe most folks reacted to Ed Brubaker's work on the title the same way I did, and have similarly determined that the X-Men are some kind of creativity black hole. Or maybe, like me, people can't stomach the idea of reading a comic with Greg Land artwork (the comics equivalent of Spider-Man 3 on Blu-Ray).

As always, though, it's the parade of costume photos which most depress me. I don't linger on these deplorable images, but the very thought of them sucks all the joy from my heart. I'm sure that many of the people dressed like Cobra Commander or whatever have rich, fulfilling lives beyond the convention floor. But there's something about these pictures that say "late Roman empire" to me. Wouldn't this time be better spent playing Halo, downloading porn, and consuming large quantities of Mountain Dew (preferably in the Halo-branded cans)?

Of course, this might be some kind of projection on my part--perhaps in reality I desperately want to dress up like these characters, but I'm too scared to do so. One impediment is my desperate desire to never, ever, ever set foot in a mainstream-oriented convention. And yet! This summer I'll be moving pretty close to a city which hosts one of the big alternative-type conventions. Cosplay isn't usually a feature of these things (at least to my knowledge), but sometimes you have to make due with the materials at hand. Which character from the snobby realm of comics should I dress as? David Boring? Glenn Ganges? Satchel Page? The duck version of Lewis Trondheim? Harlan Ellison?


Sandy said...

Go as "The Blot" from Tom Neely's book.

Todd C. Murry said...

History buddy Todd, here. I wanted to ask you about something you discussed a while back, but didn’t know if you were set up to get prompted that an old post got a new comment, so I thought I'd ask here. It is about bittorrent, actually. I didn’t like bittorrent in the beginning for many of the reasons you suggested: I could always get better speed out of other download protocols, torrents with apparent seeds would kind of stop dead, etc. But, with increased public usage, it became just about the most convenient way to go. I had used newsbin for newsgroups, and direct downloads, and ftp servers when available, but I never got into DC++ and the like, and don't even know what rapidshare is.

I should probably say at this point that the primary reason of usage is catching up on TV (please, don’t judge me). I actually get (my wife insists) all cable channels, so I have HBO, Shotime, etc, and pay for them, but it always seems we miss the beginnings of things, and try to catch up halfway through the season (this works using on demand sometimes, but on demand still uses crappy old standard TV dimensions, the picture is often lousy, and not everything is carried when we need it). It is just better to download the catch up.

This was non problematic for a long time, but lately, even though my usage is low, I seem to get a cease and desist every time I go on (I've gotten 3 total, one from Warner that was a fluke, one from NBC, and one from HBO). This obviously scares the bejesus out of me. So your remarks that usenet pique my interest. My newreader app (for binaries) is really old, so maybe that’s my problem, but when I try to check a group, the headers load so slowly it’s not worth trying. Any tips on switching from the bittorrent suckaz (sp?) camp (even a link to somewhere to start would be good).

On another note, I’m posting on the blog again (Todd Murry on your sidebar). Since I kicked back on, it’s been about half comics posts, and some stuff about the Amazon Kindle. You look like you are doing great, blogging up a storm as you are.

Thanks for any help.

Dick Hyacinth said...

Hey Todd--I saw your piece on the history of "grim and gritty." Good stuff.

I haven't been downloading much of anything recently, but I'll try to help out a little. For newsgroups/usenet, I'd recommend checking this out:


It's the best faq I'm aware of. It's got info on clients, providers, and how to use .nzb files, which pretty much eliminate the need for downloading headers (which is kind of a nuisance). There are several sites which index binaries and let you build .nzbs.

The best is:

Also worth looking at is:

Rapidshare, FYI, is a site which allows users to upload files. It's also used as a catch-all term encompassing several other sites (most notably megaupload). You can download a certain amount for free (not sure what the ratio is--something like 50 MB/hour), or you can pay a rather steep price for unlimited downloading. The problem is that you have to find links to these files. This is usually done on message boards, but I'm guessing people are reluctant to do so in public for things like episodes of the Wire. (We still haven't seen the fifth season yet, but there's a free preview starting later this week. We're hoping to watch as many as possible via On Demand.)

Chris Mautner said...

Go as Seth circa Palookaville No. 1.

Dave said...

I'm gonna suggest going as Joe Matt, complete with a piss-jar and well-used cum-rag.

Jog said...

I go every year as punk-rock Mister X era Seth myself...

Sandy said...

By the way Dick, not sure if you've seen it, but there is an interesting column/discussion going on about your meta-list over at Comics Should Be Good: http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2008/03/17/thoughts-on-dick-hyacinths-best-of-list/

Sandy said...

Not sure if you can see the link - here it is broken up:


Dick Hyacinth said...

Yeah, I've been meaning to chime in over there. I'll go do that right now.

Tom Spurgeon said...

There is only one alt-comics costume and its name is "Doofus."

Dick Hyacinth said...

I already dress like Doofus in my day-to-day life.

What about Roy from Love and Rockets? That seems like a good one.

Jones, one of the Jones boys said...

Go as the Female Void from Cerebus. Extra points for carrying around a papier-mache head that you've sucked the papier-mache brains out of.

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