Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A TiVo Twofer? Not Quite

I got email yesterday for the new TiVo Series 2 DT DVR.This is not to be confused with the announced TiVo Series 3 HD boxes that will be out, sometime in the future. No, this is a standard Series 2 TiVo with a second tuner (DT stands for "Duel Tuner"). It also has built in Ethernet support for networking into your home network.

I love TiVo, but I'm not gonna get one of these new boxes for a number of reasons. Why will I not get one, let me count the ways:

First and foremost is it is not at all cost-effective for me to purchase one. I have a standard TiVo Series 2 in my living room with lifetime service I paid $300 for two and a half years ago. I'm not going to jettison that box for one that is costing me, well, I don't know how much it is costing me, but 1 year of it is buried in the $254 price of the box. I have a TV in my bedroom, but it is an HD TV with a Moxi HD, Duel-Tuner DVR attached. I'm not going to lose HD recording capabilities just to get a TiVo in my bedroom.

Second, I have friends who have the DirectTV Duel-Tuner TiVos and they love them, but the TiVo is their DirectTV box. It really has two separate feeds into the recorder; the TiVO Series 2 DT is not my cable box (unlike the Moxi HD in my bedroom), so I have to provide the two video feeds. It's fairly simple to split a cable feed, but my cable box only had one input feed, so I can only pass one of the video feeds through my cable box. This means that although the TiVo has two tuners, only one of them is going to have the good stuff, the 60 or so movie channels my cable provides. This seems more than just a slight hassle.

Third, already mentioned above is the Moxi in my bedroom is HD. I hate the Moxi box and would trade it in in a second for an HD TiVo with duel tuners.

Fourth, right now you can only get it if you got a special email from TiVo (and I think most existing customers did). It has a direct link that puts one in your shopping cart. Only thing is, when they come out for everyone I think they might have a rebate or two, not that this will change my mind any.

I was really jazzed to see that TiVo is not sitting around waiting for the Series 3 to roll out and is creating new products. I just don't think this is the right product for me.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

You Can Fool Too Many of the People Too Much of the Time

So, the latest CNN and Fox News (boy is that a misnomer), polls put Bush's approval rating at 32%. At one point his approval rating was 90% (that was right after he swore he wouldn't politicize the thousands of Americans killed on 9/11 and then posed in front of the American flag at ground zero politicizing the death of thousands of Americans). I think it is safe to assume that those of us in the 10% who saw the sham of Bush's 9/11 rhetoric and didn't approved of this jerk-off back then, have not changed our minds and believe that this man is a criminal who ought to be thrown behind bars (preferably in Guantanamo). So lets do some math:

90% believed the bullshit
-32% still believe the bullshit
58% have seen the light

58% of Americans now know they were wrong, they were duped. That's a pretty sad number, made even sadder by the facts. Thousands of Americans dead in Iraq for no purpose, thousands of Americans dead in Hurricane Katrina for no reason, an immense National fortune divvied out like party favors to his friends (the looting of a nation), the retreat from clean air, clean water in the name of corporate profits for his friends, the squandering of the goodwill built up over centuries by this country all in the name of greed, and perhaps worst of all, the death of the dream that was America. There is no longer much hope here, unless it is the hope that you were born into one of the top financial 1% of the country and are reaping the obscene profits.

If you are, I hope you enjoy your blood money. How many pieces of silver is that?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A One of a Kind Guy

So I'm still looking in my office for a rock concert poster when I come across the illustration to my left: Duck Dogers. It's by Mahlon L. Fawcett. Lonnie to his friends and it's one of the many illustrations that Lonnie gifted me over the years.

Lonnie first came into my circle of friends during the Mayhem days (No, I wasn't ripping bodies apart, Mayhem was a comic book I was co-producing at the time). My partner, Baron Mrkva, and I sent some artwork and ad copy to a local shop for Mayhem #1 and this huge, hairy, wild-eyed maniac comes running out of the back room, going, "You guys got a book? You really got a book?" Lonnie and Baron and I became instant friends.

Lonnie even bumped another of our friends off the back cover of Mayhem #2 with a great cloud-city, spaceship kinda thing which you can see to my left. This is a good example of the kind of energy and guts Lonnie had with his art. Baron and I noticed some heavy black lines in the yellow trail coming out of the ship on Lonnie's piece and we took it to him and asked if he would take out the black. Instead Lonnie grabs this heavy red marker and began making the swirling red pattern on the trails you see today. Both Baron and I had eyes bulging out of our sockets when he did that, cause at first it looked like he was going to ruin the piece. But Lonnie had amazing confidence in his own work and the result, as you can see, was great. Lonnie is creative as hell, and undisciplined as the day is long, but when he does settle down and draw, he is a wonder.

Lonnie was also one hell of a model maker. Lonnie bought models but didn't build what is in the kit. Instead he used the parts in the kit along with index cards, paper, bottle caps, and anything else he could find to build something truly unique. His apartment always smelled of burning plastic since one of his joys was melting model parts with a cigarette lighter to create something new and unusual.

Lonnie also did some work on another comic book that I had a small part in, Wild Think. My Mayhem partner Baron Mrkva and a good friend, Burt Griswold ran Wild Think. I was there, but I put up no money, so had little say in the final book. I think we were all over at Lonnie's small apartment one day when he pulled this piece out of a pile sitting on the floor by the chair he always worked in. It was so striking that Burt wrote the scene into the first issue of Wild Think because we had to use this cover.

The last time I saw Lonnie was a few years ago at the San Diego Comic-Con. He was working in the Jim van Hise booth. Lonnie did some work over the years for Jim, but other than that never really made much of his art. It is truly a shame as the guy can draw like a bat out of hell!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

On Ode to Black and White

You could hardly see for all the snow
So you'd spread the rabbit ears as far as they'd go
Pull up a chair to the TV set
"Good night, David; Good night, Chet."

Depending on the the channel you tuned
You got Rob and Laura - or Ward and June
It was oh so good and felt so right
Life looked better in black and white.

Cable was something you used on your car
When the battery was dead, or you didn't get far
Nobody'd heard of remote control
To change the channel you went for a stroll.

Not many channels but always something to see
Until midnight came and no more TV
Just a test pattern that shrunk to a dot
Until 7 am that's all that you got.

I Love Lucy, The Real McCoys
Dennis the Menace, the Cleaver boys
Rawhide, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train
Superman, Jimmy and Lois Lane

Patty Duke, Father Knows Best
Our Miss Brooks and all the rest
Donna Reed on Thursday night
Not a dysfunctional family in sight.

I want to go back to black and white
Everything always turned out right
Good guys always won the fight

In God they trusted, in bed they slept
A promise made was a promise kept
They never cussed or broke their vows
They'd never make the networks now.

But if I could, I'd rather be
In a TV town in '53
Like Mayfair, Pixley or Mayberry

I'd trade all the channels on the satellite
If I could just turn back the clock tonight
To when everybody knew wrong from right
Life was better in black and white.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Getting Ready for the Con!

I have been going to the San Diego Comic-Con since 1976. I haven't made it every year, but I've made it most years. Every year I see the Souvenir Program Guide and I go, "Dammit! I didn't do a piece of art for it again!" Many a year I have sketched ideas for the Program Guide and not gone any farther. This year I said, "To hell with that! I'm doing it!"

And this year I actually did.

The above illustration is my entry for the Guide. This is the 50th anniversary of The Flash and of Gumby and of me, so we are all together arm-in-arm. Yeah, I could have put a background on it, and I could have improved all of the figures, and yeah, this picture proves once again that I can't ink worth a damn, but I had fun doing it anyway. And I feel good about completing something for once.

I wonder what the picture I do for next year's Comic-Con will look like?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

She Don't Lie... She Don't Lie...

So this week I'm searching through the closet in my office looking for a poster to a rock concert I attended a long, long time ago. I don't find it, but I do find pictures of a costume party I had almost as long ago. That's me as Robert E. Howard's Soloman Kane (hard to believe that back in those days I thought I was fat!). Anyway, the pictures got me thinking about costume parties I have attended. I know there have been a number of them, but I really only remember two.

The first one was the "First Annual Muscoy Comic-Con and Costumed Booze Party." All of the pictures in this item were taken there. It was held at the first place I moved into when I moved out of my parent's house for the first time (yeah, I went back a few times!).

My comic book publishing partner, Baron and his girl friend, Kelly, were in attendance as Conan and his wench (I'll let you figure out which one is which). We were a young, partying bunch, but I doubt if we did more than drink and smoke pot at the party. We were not normally the "hard drug" kind of people and we liked to stay way from anything that was too addictive.

Our good friend, Brian Grasser was in attendance as Tarzan. If ever a guy's name predisposed him to smoking a hell of a lot of pot, I think it was Brian's. Brian was a good guy and we used to spend whole weekends at the house he shared with his brothers, drinking beer, smoking pot, listening to music and playing cards. We played a lot of Black Jack in those days; all night sessions were not unusual, with people taking turns being the dealer/house. We played a lot of dealer's choice poker in those days too.

I don't even remember the names of the guys who came dressed as Thor and Green Arrow, it's been that long, but even parts of this party are a blank to me (though I do remember I got laid more than once that night!).

It's the other party I remember so vividly.

It was a good ten years later and I was living in a Los Angeles suburb and I used to party with a lot of the people I worked with. One woman and her husband in particular were always great fun to be with. They liked the same obscure music I did and when I would party with them we would drink and smoke all night long and never get too out of hand. That was because we would also do cocaine; their cocaine.

About a year later they invited my girl friend and I to a party at their house, a costumed party. We dressed up in rented costumes as jesters and expected to have a grand old time with some great people. It didn't happen. From the moment we got there the party had a strange vibe. People milled about the host couple in swarms, that would fill a room and then disappear. Whatever was going on we were not a part of it. I saw money changing hands on the sly and people disappearing and reappearing and after a while I got it. We were about the only people at the party not begging the hosts for some coke.

We sat there and watched the desperate looks on people's faces as they wheeled and dealed their way into the back bedrooms where the cocaine was plentiful. Everyone at the party was completely consumed by their need for the drug.

We left early and we never went back, nor did I ever do cocaine again. I never wanted to be one of those people who couldn't enjoy themselves because there needs were controlling them.

She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie. Cocaine.