26 March 2011

Once upon a time in Mexico...er..Mahon

My hair has become a minor celebrity.

Specifically, where I work alongside the other red shirted, tortured souls in a non specific cinema in Cork. I'd like to think my managers will spot this and give out to me for my blog, so I'm going to be very vague in order to frustrate their amateur attempts at intrusive censorship.

But to business. I'm generally known as the guy with the longest hair now, though this was not always so. The other lads at work seem to think that being presentable and neat will somehow either (a) get them laid more often or (b) that a passing recruitment agent for their dream job will like the cut of their jib and give them an obscenely well paid job being the office IT monkey.

Stoically shouldering the burden of being the last one in possession of a mane, I pressed on growing it. It got longer. Recently, I've rather tired of it nearly blinding me at inopportune moments and generally looking shit after breaking a sweat, I've started tying it back. The Samurai Jack top knot was quickly deemed a no-go.

I was absolutely terrified of doing so in public, because when you try something new in front of your fellow sarcastic males, you'll get a severe ribbing at best. This is nothing compared to the quietly mocking eyes of the women I work with. The spectre of their disdain has put me off doing it for a while now, but there's only so much being half blinded while working and generally looking like Chewbacca's stoner brother I could stand.

My faithful cohort Tom was the first to witness it. I selected Tom for two reasons. Firstly, he's honest, but would spare my feelings as much as possible while telling me if I resembled a horrifying vision of a Wookie lady-boy. Secondly, being a man, I can hit him without feeling bad if he didn't spare my feelings.

People at work, while initially laughing heartily and making me very close to fleeing the scene and abandoning it altogether, actually became fascinated. Tom even went to so far as to say I was rocking the ponytail.
After I had bruised his arm sufficiently, there came the unexpected compliments. Also, one person telling me I looked totally different, but in a fairly good way. Confidence peeked out from behind the bunker I'd constructed out of feeble justifications and Fuck You's.

The guys, never wanting to miss a good slagging opportunity, and far be it from me to deny them, instantly started speculating which celebrity I looked most like.

My worst nightmare was amongst them.
"You look like Johnny Logan."
"You know, the Eurovision guy! What's Another Year and all that."

Sweet Jesus.

This was easily (and hurriedly) fixed by wrangling wayward strands back from whence they came.

It gets better!

One of the lads, shit eating grin in tow informed me that he and the cabal of five or six guys that make up the "This is your nickname" clique had decided on someone infinitely classier, but no less stomach churning... That's right.
Ron Jeremy.

After I'd fought off the urge to vomit, I ceded I do wear a red shirt at work....

The last one came from the female quarter, who decided I looked somewhat Iberian, and to be fair my colouring suggests a lost soldier from the Spanish Armada stumbled into the gene pool at some point.
With cries of Olé! they dubbed me Antonio Banderas.

I admit it- I was more than a little chuffed as I thought to myself-
"Now that's more fucking like it!"

The people whose opinions I was dreading most, turned out the most favourable.
Stick that in your freakishly sized pipe and smoke it, Ron.

02 February 2011

Sort of Old News, but still interesting- Concept Art for a Rejected animated Batman series

Ok, the basic pitch- Move Bruce Wayne and all of his famous Rogues Gallery into Gotham High, make them all16/17, give them angst and issues and drizzle it with truly sumptuous art work.
Honestly, I'm mesmerised by it. I've posted the link to the giant-ass version.

That's the link as it appeared on my Facebook a while back. Considering I've decided to kick into some writing again, but am still incredibly lazy, I'm going to share the discussion I dived into head first. This sort of prompted a bit of a surprise from my poor friend who was probably expecting "Wow, kool, thx dude" as opposed to the in depth, incisive and deeply comic book geeky analysis that confronted his notifications.

Above is a link to more of the beautiful artwork. There's clearly been a lot of detail worked out as regards style, but problematically, it's the substance, or the confusion of it, that I've become so interested in.

Don't get me wrong- this is not so much a fanboy rant, as a fanboy lament.

A lament for what might have been, if only in our dreams and darkest (most non-canonical) imaginings.

Considering the rather weird but not necessarily, in my opinion only, stuff coming from Batman comics, I'm not too surprised this stuff has surfaced, but also quite glad.
It's an original take, for one, but the level of skill and life put into the images begs you to take a second glance, have a closer look at the idea before dismissing out of hand.

I'll admit it- I'm terrible at coping with change. I'm a 75 year old trapped in a man of 22's body at times. I don't even like it when Facebook decides to change around its format a little. Partly because I'm suspicious of Mark Zuckerburg's intentions and partly because once I'm used to something, I like it to stay that way- comfortable.

However, I'm like a cat with a ball of wool (or yarn, whatever) with this one, as poor Darragh found out.

For those of you who know me, you'll know my comics go-to guy is burly, russet coloured lover of all things movies and comics, Tom "Octagon White Boy" White.

Tom and I have a long standing debate over Grant Morrison's run on Batman- there are some things I don't like (don't get me started on Damian Wayne), I'm not very comfortable with Dick Grayson suddenly turning all brooding and serious as stand in now seemingly permanent Batman of Gotham in the current Gotham Inc. stuff in the pipeline. Makes it all the more infuriating when some of the stuff I've read is actually very good.
Perhaps I'll give my take on Batman RIP (which I really enjoyed) to The Return of Bruce Wayne (which is well worth a look, if not as high calibre as it should have been in places) but that's for another entry.

To business- myself and Tom had been harrumphing about the idea of Gotham High and to be perfectly honest, it's a very interesting idea but it's one where we can't see an easy transition.

As noted by the journalist Tom Goldman here (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/106879-Trashed-Batman-Cartoon-Made-Joker-a-Psychotic-Teen) the original Batman: The Animated Series was beloved of kids in its day, of which I was one, but thanks to the wonderful dark Gotham, serious well written stories and a 'growing up' of the otherwise childish Robin and Batgirl it has aged tremendously well. I've recently been trawling through it again and it's been a delight. Sure you can tell its age. But you don't care- it still stands up so well thanks to the performances and art direction.

It would be really unfair to compare such an established cultural icon that is B:TAS to the handful of beautiful concept images that never made it past the drawing tablet. I am instead going to analyse and possibly brutalise this beautiful image http://dailyblam.com/sites/all/files/users/InstigatorGIRL/GothamHigh1.jpg.

It's for its own good, honest....

Oh, and, uh, SPOILERS! You probably don't care, but last thing I want is emails from irate strangers screaming at me.

My problems stem from the interpretations that they've taken with the characters, most specifically that of Barbara Gordon's inclusion and that of the design and look of some of the others.

Harvey Dent already scarred physically, for one thing. Much more interesting to have him developing a darker side full of repressed rage, which is what B:TAS did so successfully. The story was less about Two/Face and more about the tragic fall of Harvey Dent from successful District Attorney, friend of Bruce Wayne, ally to Batman and engaged to a beautiful woman who adored him. This, as we all know was done superbly in The Dark Knight, although I think the chemistry between Eckhart and Maggy Gyllenhaal was damp at best. Perhaps that's just me. They seem to have totally forgotten how Harvey's disfigurement was something that happened much later in life. Although if they started playing with how he struggles to control his rage and represses his negative emotions, they might be able to get away with the way too clean division of him into one side purple, one side normal they have here. Also.. Shorts. On Harvey. Hmm. They're lucky the other artwork has him running for class president or whathaveyou, nice link to his future in legal affairs as District Attorney, if a little obvious.

Also Clayface... Hmm. not too happy with how they seem to be making him some sort of messy art student, although on the other hand it could be handled well.
Much better to make him an obsessed drama student, but that's just me. There's been more than one version of him, so he's ripe for experimenting. The clay on his arms is puzzling to me- would there have been some 'accident' transforming him into the fully fledged gloopy ball that is Clayface or perhaps have it slowly take over him.

One thing I'm really not certain about is Barbara Gordon (Bruce's junior by about 20 years) being set up as something of a love interest.

I just can't get comfortable with that one... In Batman: Year One we follow Bruce Wayne as he returns to Gotham, formulates the idea and symbol of the Batman, makes mistakes but succeeds in taking the fight to the corruption at Gotham's heart. Central to this journey is the parallel journey of a Captain James Gordon-expecting his first child. We see Jim's young son James in the comic, and considering that Barbara (named after her mother) is his daughter, then that would place a huge age gap between the two. Barbara's elder brother, by this logic, was not even a twinkle in her father's spectacles by the time Bruce Wayne was of secondary school (high school in Americano) age.

I'm well aware that she's quite flirtatious with Bruce in The New Adventures of Batman when Nightwing returns and Tim Drake becomes Robin, but that's in the DC Animated Universe and contains its own continuity.
It's doubtful this show would take place in such a universe, so from that point of view, there's no problem, but back in this Batman fanatic's head all I see is "Agh!! That's his oldest ally's daughter! He's old enough to be her dad!!".
So, while Babs is always a welcome addition in any Batman story for me... She might not work out here so well. Although... looking at Joker's appearance... Well, call me twisted but a tragic high school shooting anyone? Would be an interesting, if very, very dark and complicated route to follow if we're to include some of the nailed as canon events of The Killing Joke.
Considering the trauma the American audiences have been exposed to with the recent shootings in Stateside, I doubt we'll ever see that. That said, I see they've gone with the "Nerd girls can be hot" approach to her design. The pretty obvious Bat symbols on her and Bruce are a bit much, though.

I like the weird goth thing they're going for with Jonathan Crane, later to become Scarecrow, but I think the facial expression here is sort of out of character... Nearly too sympathetic outcast more than the snide, sadistic, cruel and utterly creepy Crane of later life, although it'd very interesting to map out that transition. Crane in Batman Begins enjoys the power the mind can grant him over people via his use of his patented Fear Toxin. If you haven't seen the movie at this stage, stop reading and do that now. Come back when you have become a true Bat-disciple! That said, the noose around his neck is a clear nod to Scarecrow's finally incarnation in the Animated Series, his look being one that had never been quite satisfactory to the shows producers Bruce W. Timm, Eric Radomski and Alan Burnett. He is, I think, perhaps too shy and sympathetic looking here. These villains have some of the most interesting and gothic origins in comics and while I'd love to see these origins referred to in B:TAS, if they're going back to the characters' roots they've got to respect the source material.

Which is something that the artists are trying to do while giving a fresh spin.. But I think that it's not working as there's really few ways to 'cutefy' these characters- Another thing- Selina Kyle's a little too obviously Selina Kyle. Leopard print skirt ffs... Rather too obvious and is a high school really the ideal environment for a jewel thief? What would her role be in this ensemble? I see they've gone for a hint at a love triangle going on with Bruce-Selina-Barbara in the artwork The Escapist link has, but as I've already outlined, that doesn't really hold much water with me.

Still, gets her slinky side down.

Bane looks fine, if too damn happy. I want to see a venom as steroids abuse story arc, abusive upbringing and a little teddy bear (relic of his childhood) to appear every now and then in the background. Another problem being that Bane is a highly intelligent criminal mastermind who's also highly skilled at martial arts, and that's before he jacks himself up on Venom. Still, full of potential for doping in high school sports story arc, Bane getting kicked off the wrestling team, possibly because of Bruce passing on info to the coach etc. I suppose I have to overlook the part of his origin story that explicitly states that Bane grew in a prison on Santa Prisca for most of his life until he was exposed to Venom in secret dodgy research.

Riddler looks fine, if not nearly condescending and snide enough. I know Edward Nigma's the uber nerd, but he's also a cocksure, arrogant and preening buffoon. He delights in showing off his self proclaimed intellect. This kid here seems perfectly happy sitting in the library keeping to himself.

Croc is bugging me, because he's already clearly transformed... Depends on the version of his story they're using, but it should not be so obvious at this stage of life. It swings between rare avatism (ancient reptilian dna manifesting itself) or a hideously disfiguring ailment called epidermolytic hyperkeratosis (which is actually real and totally debilitating in real life).
If they make him a wrestler with a cannibalistic streak/ penchant towards thuggery I might calm down.

All this is purely academic, I know, but I actually love the idea of the show. I think it might have lasted one season, because they seem to have watered down so much of the characters without following their 'falls'.

And the later to be a qualified scientist Doctor Pamela Isley as a cheerleader??
Shenanigans! She's already green and covered in leaves. While Poison Ivy should be an utter bombshell, she doesn't make sense as a dittzy cheerleader type. Why so interested in plant biology when she's been placed in such a stereotyped role?

Joker and Harley form an interesting, if flawed duo here. Harley is actually the one character who's easiest to work out because her origins were done so wonderfully by the great Paul Dini.
I agree with Tom Goldman- Joker as the class clown really doesn't work, because while he probably started out wanting to get a laugh, Joker is only ever interested in making himself laugh, and maybe forcing a chuckle out of the grim Dark Knight.
"Why can't you see the funny side?" springs to mind, from Alan Moore's brilliant work on the character.

Similar problems with Penguin and Mr. Freeze- Victor Fries got a brilliant and tragic origin story in B:TAS, while Penguin was initially just a watered down version of Danny de Vito's grotesque portrayal of the character.
I see they're trying to make them recognisable, but I think they just put polo shirts and jeans on potentially interesting characters.

I wonder how young an audience they were thinking of pitching this to?

In all, a fascinating, if ultimately unworkable idea. There's so much history, so much baggage, so much of a cultural landscape surrounding the entire Batman mythos that I doubt we'll ever see this appear, even though I know it was officiall rejected.

Still, that's what non-canon stuff is for! It'd make a wonderful mini series after some careful re-tooling.

31 January 2011

And now, the Metafiction

I do believe some silly individual will be looking at this blog soon.

The fool! All he'll find here is ravings and stutterings. Like Colin Firth's new movie...

Still, it'll add another notch to the aul hit counter.
And that's all my self esteem could ever ask for.

Well, that and generous cleavage smothering me.

Deja Vu

Wow, it's been a while hasn't it?

Not sure if I'll bother keeping this up as I don't think anybody actually follows this....

Oh, well.

I might as well use the opportunity to brush up on writing on something other than Facebook. Leave your twitter accounts at the door. I'll not have it in this establishment! Plus I need to seriously get rid of my habit of putting smileys into text.
Fine for internet speaking people, but I have to live (and write) in the real world! :P
(God damn it!)

I'm sort of itching to do a few things creative writing wise. I have an idea for a sketch in my head and it's reasonably possible it could be filmed by some film nerds I'm acquainted with. More on that later. I've yet to actually properly kick into thesis writing or even the inking I flirted with briefly.
I've sort of lost that itch...
Shame, as I find it really enjoyable, even if I'm only mucking about with it as opposed to seriously inking over pencils. I even shelled out for expensive paper for it it too.

Anyway, I must be up early to make a fool out of myself on a rock wall tomorrow afternoon.

Anyway, enjoy some Robyn.

05 March 2010

Checking in

Just thought I'd add that while a good friend of mine didn't have the best experience in Heuston Texas, I at least rather liked the well laid out giant George Bush Intl. Airport!
Although that probably had something to do with the sheer excitement at seeing Erin again for the first time in eight months.

I'll post up some sort of entry about my time in Oklahoma some other time, I just felt that I should make some reference to it.
Incidentally- everything went really smoothly. No trouble through immigration, or security. In fact, Dublin airport was way more stressful than Newark!! I know this probably had a lot to do with the quiet time of year, but it was still a really relaxed experience.

I can say that it was worth the long, long wait.
I can say that :)

06 February 2010

If all goes as planned...

I'm a bit conflicted at the moment.

On the one hand, I'll be departing springtime Ireland for springtime America, which is duly fantastic in its own right, but at the same time there is much running around to be done before then. I'll admit, I'm not the best organised person in the world... There are a few outstanding things to be taken care of first, one of the most important ones being a 4,000 word essay.

This is usually the part where I reveal that I've gotten no books out and that I've less research done than the Irish nuclear weapons programme....
But, sorry, I've been working away at it in bits and pieces for some time now. Damn. I even have highly relevant sources lined up and all... My bibliography isn't full by any means, but I have a decent head start. The plan is to start writing on Monday and hopefully by Friday I'll have it mostly finished.

While things on the academic side are under control, I must admit I still have to book my train to Dublin and sort out an airport hotel. I swore to myself I wouldn't put myself through trying to sleep in the airport again after the insanely long day of travel it took to get to Prague. Great holiday, but I cannot function without sleep. At all.
I also have my ever concerned mother's suggestions about getting travel insurance...

This is essentially my last proper week to get all these things done and dusted as I'll be in Dublin airport before I know it and knowing my luck, I'll have forgotten to pack underpants.....

While it'll be great to go and see someone I haven't seen since last May, I have to ask whatI did in a past life to deserve a three flight journey on a strange continent with the most paranoid security apparatus in the western hemisphere. I'm not complaining, but it is an awful lot of travelling to do in one day, and I just hope I can keep myself suitably well fueled throughout the day in order to tackle it. I'm taking this seriously and approaching it realistically at this stage, because there are a number of things that can go wrong. It doesn't mean they will go wrong, mind you.

I'm fed up of being accused of looking for things to be paranoid about, or for things that will scare me, but quite frankly, I'm being just being coldly realistic. I am not one for going into a situation blind, and I'm rather irked when people think I'm just being pessimistic.
I refuse to allow myself to get into a situation where something goes wrong because I didn't do my research or homework properly. I just don't see what's so bad about having a guarded attitude to the longest solo journey I've ever undertaken to a country that I've only been to once, where I will be largely cut off from any help if, God forbid, something goes awry.
There's nothing wrong with looking at the world through clear lenses.

By considering all potential pitfalls that I can easily avoid by being aware of them, I put myself at ease. I hate being poorly prepared for travelling, and this journey is too long, and too important to fuck up purely because I was too lazy, or too dumb to get things properly organised.
I have been looking forward to this way too much to allow anything to get in my way.

May 2009 to February 2010 is far too long a time, and it's begun to tell in some ways. This trip is my first priority right now, as it provides a much, much needed reprieve from months of wishing I was somewhere else. And not just for me.

[I just realised that nobody reads this blog, so I can pretty much say what I want. Cool and faintly depressing at the same time]