May 31, 2012

Frozen Drink Wars

So, who’s thirsty?

I wish I had discovered the simple joys of the Slurpee much earlier, but since I never really lived near any 7-Eleven stores, I didn’t catch on. However, I learned the error of my ways thanks to my good buddy Guber, who was sired in the Slurpee capital of the World, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnepeggers love their Slurpees. Guber lived in Montreal for many years, a city devoid of 7-Eleven stores, so whenever he was in Toronto he’d go on and on about the coveted and elusive Slurpee. I didn’t really see the big deal because Guber is kind of a weird dude anyway, but I got it eventually. They really are good.

Before I moved up here to the barren wastelands, I made a point of taking a solo journey to downtown Toronto and taking in as much of the cool places that I like as I could. Before I went back home, I made sure to get a Slurpee. Even though it was a cold day, I just had to get one because I knew it would be a long time before I got one again, as there are no 7-Elevens up here. It was a Strawberry Kiwi flavor and I still remember how good it tasted.

I mostly forgot about the Slurpee-scene and went about my way until I noticed another challenge: The Froster. Produced by Mac’s, a home-grown Canadian convenience chain, Frosters are a lot like Slurpees. I tried a really small one once, and though it was alright, but I started paying more attention when Mac’s ran a special promotion this month where you could buy any sized Froster for $1. At that price, I gave it a shot, and of course I got the largest size possible (1000 ml). I got hooked. Even though there are no 7-Elevens around here, there are 4 or 5 Mac’s in walking distance from me, and I made frequent excursions to all of them, sampling all the different kinds and multiple combinations, scrapping together a dollar’s worth in dimes and nickles each time I visited. So I drank a lot of Frosters. And the Froster would be the only thing I get, prompting many clerks to ask “That’s it?!” before I handed them my annoying handful of change.

The Froster is a decent alternative to the Slurpee. The flavors have some punch and they come in sturdy plastic cups with thick, wide straw. So they are a good product overall and not just a cheaply produced rip-off like I expected they’d be. And yet, I still miss the Slurpee. Froster can have a gritty ice texture while the Slurpee is much smoother. Slurpees also seem to have more unique flavors and I was never able to try very many. But beyond that, maybe it’s just the unattainable appeal that makes Slurpees so treasured to me in comparison to Frosters. I can get a Froster any time I want, but I haven’t had a Slurpee all year, and dammit, I want one! Much like the plight of Guber when he lived in a Slurpeeless land, not being able to have one makes me want it that much more.

What’s your favorite icy drink? Who wins the Frozen Drink Wars?


May 12, 2012


The word on the street is pretty much out, but I’m not going to let that stop me from putting my two cents in and saying that The Avengers movie is awesome.

Think back to what it must have been like when The Avengers comic was a brand new thing. Comic books were pretty much the height to fantastical fiction, capable of telling stories and showing images that movies and television could never come close to replicating at the time. Movies like that would be unfathomable. There are all of these different characters, each with their own histories, and you could pick your favorite. Then Avengers comes out and a whole bunch of them are on a team together and that has got to be just the coolest thing ever.

Now think back to a little over 10 years ago. Movies like X-Men and Spider-man have come out, captured people’s imaginations, and done very well, kicking off a string of films inspired by comic book characters. Now, movie making has advanced to the point where so many of these cool comic book concepts that never could have been realized before have become real films. Most of them are pretty good, or are entertaining at least, but a few missed the mark in the storytelling department. Still, with the way these characters were being licensed to different studios, it seemed unlikely that there would be a movie crossover featuring many different heroes like Avengers. And even if that eve did happen, if you consider that a number of other movies had a hard time dealing with just one super hero character, would a movie featuring 6 or 7 even be any good?

Well, somehow, here we are. Not only is The Avengers is a real movie, they actually pulled it off and made it good. It is so good in just about every possible way, from the biggest action scenes to the smallest moments of character development. They did it. They actually did it. For everything working against it, I don’t think it can be overstated just how good this movie really is. It’s an incredible feat.

Much has been said about what it is that makes this film so great, with the level of humor being one of the main draws. While I agree with that, it’s not enough to say that it’s a funny movie. All the humor actually served a purpose: it informed the audience. All the humor, be it clever and witty or simple slapstick, told something about who the character is and where they come from. It wasn’t just entertainment on a base level, it was actually engaging! And because so much of the humor was grounded in who these characters are, it rewarded the audience for paying attention.

In the time since Hollywood really started pumping out these big comic book movies, there have been a number of them that made a lot of money but aren’t really remembered as being all that good. The Transformers movies are a good example. I like those movies fine, but they are what they are, entertainment and not much more. Avengers, on the other hand, is everything you’d ever want in a big Hollywood super hero blockbuster, but it’s also a really good movie! And both audiences and critics seem to be on the same page on this one as everybody seems to love it. So I have to wonder… is this going to change things? Is The Avengers going to raise the stakes and make people demand better quality? Money talks, and Avengers is a huge financial hit, so I think that message may be getting out there.

Personally, I think it would be great for Hollywood and the movie going audience if The Avengers made more money than Avatar and became the #1 film of all time. That’s a tall order but I’d say it certainly deserves it.

That artwork at the top was a fun, quick drawing I made earlier in the year. I’ll have it up on the site properly soon enough, along with a few other things. But hopefully I’ll get to see Avengers 11 more times first. Now who’s up for some shawarma?


May 3, 2012

Blue Misery

I’ve been using two computers for the past few years. One mainly for general use and another for art. I was using my art computer to draw with my Cintiq on Easter Weekend, and I started to notice the cursor stutter. The computer would freeze for a second or two and then start back up again. This basically made digital drawing impossible. But it didn’t matter if I was drawing, or using a mouse, or typing on the keyboard, it would always happen. Something was causing the computer to just lock up for a moment. I did my best to try and figure it out by looking in the Event Viewer for errors. It seemed like the problem was centralized around a driver issue, but attempts to clear that up resulted in yet more problems. I witnessed more instances of the Blue Screen of Death than I had ever seen since Windows 98. Eventually, the whole thing became unbootable.

I used a live Linux boot disk called BootMed to try and fix things, but nothing worked. I figured there was only one way around this, and that was to start from scratch. So I used BootMed again to access my hard drive and back everything up, which happened with no problem. Then I formatted the hard drive and reinstalled Windows. Now just try to imagine my frustration when it started locking up again as if I had done nothing.

One big problem in dealing with this stuff is when these errors happen, there could be any number of possible solutions. There is usually some kind of error message or code and when you Google that you get a million results with different solutions, plus a ton of schemey sites trying to get you to pay for some generic solution. It’s next to impossible to uncover an applicable fix.

If reinstalling Windows didn’t work, then it must have been a hardware issue. I was unplugging components left and right. My best guess was that the motherboard was to blame. I decided that whatever the fix was, it must be beyond my capabilities to repair, and that it may be time to look into some replacement parts. But I didn’t give up entirely. I found a few old hard drives in some unused computers lying around, so I plugged one in in to the offending machine, installed Windows onto that, and everything worked fine.

What?! It was the hard drive all along?! Sheesh! Not that I’m complaining but if the hard drive went bad then how come I had no problems backing up?

While all this is happening, I took the opportunity to reformat and reinstall on my other computer as well, which went very smoothly. That’s an old piece of junk but now it’s working better than ever. Talk about polar opposites.

Anyway, after a month of dealing with this nonsense, I’m back in business again, such as it is. Hopefully I can get a little more usage out of these computers before I need to upgrade and/or the zombies show up.


March 28, 2012

Alien Turtles

Art by Jim Lawson

It’s been known for a while now that Paramount is planning a new Ninja Turtles movie, and that Michael Bay’s company would be producing. Now things are gearing up and we’re getting closer to it becoming a reality, so little bits of news have dripped out recently. The whole Internet has gone bonkers over a brief speech that Michael Bay gave at a press even where he said that the Turtles would be “from an alien race”. People are spreading their nerd rage all over the place saying how Michael Bay is changing the origins, that he’s going to ruin Turtles like he did with Transformers, and other such nonsense.

It’s pretty clear, to me at least, that this is being blown way out of proportion and most of these complaints are totally unwarranted. But beyond that, I have to wonder how many of these complaining people have actually read the original TMNT comics? How many of them are actually, you know, fans? I’d wager to say that the majority of these people have not done so, and are, for the most part, only familiar with the original cartoon. You know, the one that changed the origins, changed the characters and added new ones, and changed the entire tone of the story. So it’s funny to me that these people are complaining when they really don’t know what they are talking about. These aren’t TMNT fans, they’re just people who watched a popular cartoon when they were kids.

At any rate, when I first heard the “alien” news, I was puzzled for a moment, but I figured that perhaps this is a roundabout way of explaining that the ooze which mutated the Turtles was created by aliens, because that’s how the story is supposed to go! That was the story from the original comics, and those aspects of the story have never been used in a movie yet. The director of this new film, Jonathan Liebesman (Michael Bay is not directing this film, another fact some idiots have missed), has basically come out and said that the canister of ooze originates from aliens. So, there it is! I’m sure there are other details that can’t be revealed yet and others that are still being worked out, but it all seems plain as day to me. And yet the alien talk continues.

Finally, as far as the comment that Transformers have been ruined and Turtles will be as well, give me a break. Transformers is more popular now than it ever has been. Those Micheal Bay movies might not be to everyone’s taste, but if they were so bad, and if everyone thinks that they are so bad, then why did they make so much money? Why did they keep making money? I understand that just because something is popular, that doesn’t make is any good, but box office numbers don’t lie, and the numbers we’re talking about are way too big to outright dismiss. And even if you don’t like those movies, we’ve still got an awesome cartoon on TV, we’ve got plenty of incredible toys on the shelves and more on the way, and there is still an active fandom that continues to grow. Plus, all of the old stuff you love is still there and hasn’t changed a bit, and nothing that happens in the future will ever change that. All of these points are going to apply to TMNT as well when the new Nickelodeon stuff is released by the end of the year.

But, hey, maybe I am wrong. Maybe this new movie will be all about racist exploding alien turtles. In that case, what would the outcome be? I suppose it would be so bad that it will offend everyone, make no money, and force the cartoon and toy line to be cancelled out of shame. Then, all of your childhood memories will be tainted, and everything that had previously made TMNT so great in the first place will be retroactively erased from history. Though, I suppose if you let all that bad stuff happen then you weren’t actually that big of a fan in the first place, so no big loss for you, right?

I’m hoping for a good movie as much as the next person, and I know that whatever happens will result in more visibility to the franchise, which is ultimately a good thing. But I’ll still be hanging on to all on my cool stuff and good memories, so even if there is a bad movie, it won’t change much for me.


March 11, 2012

Ganbare Japan!!!

One year ago, Japan was struck with a series of natural disasters, but in the wake of these terrible events, a powerful spirit of perseverance and support has emerged. This artwork is my small tribute to that great inspirational spirit.

GANBARE!!! by *ninjatron on deviantART

I wanted to draw something that focused on the unbreakable will and positive outlook that has been exhibited in the months since the disasters. Two of the anime world’s most popular and positive characters, Goku and Astro Boy, give the thumbs up to show that inspirational, never give up, can-do attitude.

I have a few other art pieces on my deviantArt account that aren’t up here on SykoGrafix yet, but will be eventually. As I mentioned before, at the moment I’m working heavily on something else that I think will be very exciting.