Monday, August 31, 2009

The Mouse & The Marvel

As you might have heard earlier today, Disney bought the comic company Marvel for $4 billion. As some might have feared, this is NOT necessarily a bad thing. For one thing, Disney doesn't need the comics. Hell, it's probably more convenient since quite a few comics from then had been produced by Marvel. My blog buddy Mark Evanier had some thoughts on the subject. This being one of them:

This isn't about publishing. Disney didn't say, "Gee, it would be great to own a comic book company!" They could have started fifty comic book companies for four billion clams. This is about characters and properties which can be exploited in many forms. The publishing of comic books may or may not always be one of them. But Disney's interest here is in two closely-related areas. One is to be able to market all these great characters and the history that rounds them out and makes many of them beloved. And the other reason is to make sure nobody else gets 'em.

The best news for the comic book division of Marvel in all this is how unlikely it is that anyone at Disney will care much what they do as long as the department shows a profit. If it generates new properties that can be turned into movies and video games and iPhone applications, so much the better. But the future of Spider-Man has very little to do with the Spider-Man comic book. That hasn't mattered for a long time.

It's more about the ever-expanding Disney Marketing Machine™. You know, that force that shoves stuff like Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Bros, unnecessary Disney movie sequels down your throat for the sole purpose of embedding them into your head only because of the relentless advertising? Yes, that. For one thing, DC has got the goods on its own, what with the awesome Comics, TV shows, and movies, along with the fact that they're owned by Time Warner. Marvel, however has been..,lacking in pretty much all departments. Sure, the movies are STARTING to get awesome, and they won't be affected by the DMM™ (Iron Man in particular being with Paramount). If the DMM™ will take full advantage of Marvel properties whose name isn't Wolverine, this can only help.

This does, however, raise the question of the theme parks. While it WOULD be awesome to see The Hulk trudge around Fantasyland

There's the fact that Marvel has its own land at Universal's Islands of Adventure. While its parks are owned by NBC/Universal (and by proxy, its parent company GE), I have no clue on how this'll play out. I'm guessing even though Marvel Island is only one land, it still seems that Disney might have some sort of odd theme park monopoly in Florida.

"Hey the recession is dropping attendance, what do we do?"
"Raise ticket prices!"

There's also a great silver lining to this: How about thinking up some Marvel/Disney crossovers that are now much more possible? Here are some of mine or ones that I saw:

-Namor the Sub-Mariner destroying Atlantica & The Little Mermaid with it.
-Xavier Institute Musical (alt name: High School Mutanical)
-Donald meeting up with Howard The Duck
-Darkwing Duck crossing paths with Spider-Man
-Gizmoduck and Iron Man switching suits
-A Kingdom Hearts-eque epic, but with Marvel characters in place of Final Fantasy ones
-Deadpool and...anyone, really
-Scrooge McDuck competing against Kingpin on who is the most powerful...thing in the world
-and My favorite: The Jonas Brothers vs The Punisher

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Galileo Goes to Atlantic City!

For those of you not in the know, I live on Long Island. If you don't know what that is, it's that fish-shaped island hanging off the tail end of New York. It's quite close to a number of great places: New York City, Upstate NY, Six Flags, and of course, Atlantic City and the rest of the Jersey Shore.

I've been talking about wishing to travel to good Old AC since around the "Things That Start with A" and "B" entries from last year. I had always wished to see its Boardwalk and the awesomeness that lied within.

And here it is! That's my buddy Steve candidly posing for the picture. I believe that's Carmine's behind him. As you can see, it was a great day with perfect visibility throughout the day. I went last Friday (8/21) for a day-trip via Coach Bus, and you couldn't ask for a better day. Sun, no clouds, hot-but-not-too-hot, and thanks to the recession, not a crowded boardwalk!

This shot didn't come out as good as I wanted it to, but you can still see some rust and dilapidation on the facade of this building. When Steve ask me why I was taking a picture of THIS building, I told him that this building in particular lived up to every visual expectation that I had of Atlantic City. So of course I had to take a picture. All in the name of web journalism.

Here's a picture of the buffet I ate at. This was just the dessert island, and there were worse puns at the other stations. I kept getting hints that the Virginia City Buffet in Bally's Wild Wild West is the best one in AC, and I'm starting to agree. Sure, it's the only one I've been to so far, but it set the bar. Sadly, looking through all my pictures again, I realize that my current camera is much more prone to blurring than my old one was. Not to mention the crappy lighting.

Like this shot I tried to take of some desserts. Shot-glass sized strawberry shortcake and chocolate whatever-the-thing-on-the-left-was. The flash on my cam has the following settings for a shot like this: "Blinding" "Unrecognizably Blinding" and "Too Dark To See Any Damn Details." This shot was the latter.

We found this on an oven at that buffet. Good advice.

Found in a candy store called "It'Sugar" that was in a mall next door to Bally's Wild West. Excellent signage, crappy picture. These pictures came out awful.

Another example of unintentional blur ruining a good picture. That marquee on the theater on the right says "The Color Purple. And Red, Blue, and Orange..."

Besides a Conestoga Wagon and an elephant made entirely of Jelly Bellies, those were the worthwhile moments of my Atlantic City trip. I lost about $60 to slots and video poker, but I don't care, I had an awesome time and I'm up for going again. I still need to saltwater some taffy and find more Monopoly properties. I found several, but I'm looking for Baltic Avenue on the entire standpoint of just liking the name.

I did find Mediterranean Ave, though, and I designated the area between it and the Boardwalk as "Go." I also realized a solution to the bailouts: Have someone stand on that spot and give people $200 for crossing it. If they trey it again, the guy would tell them "Nope, you gotta go the whole way around again!"

...Ok, here's the Jelly Belly Elephant:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Soundtracks For Summer: Tequila

Part 14 in my ongoing "Soundtracks For Summer" Series.

Entry #14 in my series of songs that define "Summer" arrives at that staple of carnival games, Tequila. Ok, so this wasn't on my list of upcoming entries, but this song got brought up in conversation by my friend Steve asking me "WHY WASN'T THIS SONG COVERED YET?!" I have no clue, and so I'm making one. So there.

The above video is probably the reason why we all remember the song: The biker bar scene from "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" (Song start 2:39 in). And of course you have to do that awesome dance whenever it's played. I know I do. Hell, Mr. Herman pretty much has an obligation to make tribute to one of his finest hours at least once in just about every Pee-Wee project since this movie, and we love him for it. He even busts it out during a tightrope walk at the end of "Big Top Pee-Wee." That's awesome right there.

What doesn't hurt at all is that great rhythm. Duh duh duhduhduhduh duh duh. Duh duh duhduhduhduh duh duh. Duh duh duh duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh duh. Dununununuh, TEQUILA! It' universal, it's catchy, and it's a great song to things to. That's a winner right there.

Since I mentioned carnival games, I've heard this song play during many a round of various shooting games, most notable at the "shoot the water gun at the clown's mouth to make a balloon explode" game.

Since those days of yore, it's the only song that runs through my head whenever I stroll through a carnival or the games area of a theme park. Damn you, Six Flags.

BTW, I'm also taking reader submissions for future "Soundtracks For Summer" entries. The next few Soundtracks For Summer entries will be: Paradise City, Holiday Road and Californication. If you've got an idea, pop me an email at with the name of the song, and a reason or two why it defines "Summer" for you. You'll be glad you did.

Also, does anyone know the name of that Red Hot Chili Peppers song where the music vid was them just riding in a car? That one's perfect for a late summer entry.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

God Bless Stock Footage

To cheer myself up a bit, here's a monkey washing a cat:

A man getting hit with a cannonball:

Some old ladies clapping:

And, as promised, a video of a man wrestling a bear for no reason:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Why Shark Week is Awesome

As you may know, here in the US, the Discovery Channel is running its annual Shark Week.

It's when channels such as it and Animal Planet devote much of its programming to Sharks. Sure, there is shark-centered programming year round, but this is the one week out of the year where they show EVERYTHING they have about sharks, with lots and lots of hype and advertising. There has been rarely a year where it didn't disappoint. They also re-theme all their major shows around Shark Week, like Mythbusters, Dirty Jobs, and that one episode of Cash Cab where the cab the contestants were riding in plunged into shark infested waters.

Sadly, as I'm not on top of mainstream TV advertising and I don't pay attention to TV guides anymore, I had no idea it even WAS Shark Week this week until I saw people's Facebook status saying "Watching Shark Week!" That's when I go "OMG, SHARK WEEK!!1!" And I proceed to watch in awe, even if there are only 4 new shows total and the rest are reruns. The fact that they got Malcom MacDowell to narrate a few of these shows doesn't hurt at all.

Thanks to the movie Jaws, most of the programming is devoted to Great Whites. Sure, they cover many other sharks, but they focus on the Great Whites mostly because other shark species haven't randomly swum into New Jersey rivers to attack people for some reason. They sometimes focus on Tiger sharks, who are mostly dicks, as well as the Whale Shark simply because it's the biggest damn fish in the water. Smaller shark species, like Bull, Nurse, Hammerhead, Sandbar and Galapagos have been featured in programming mostly to compare it to Whites. "Oh, these sharks are plentiful around here, but these things get emasculated by the freaking huge Great Whites that show up around here!"

Most of the Great White programming this year deals with these topics: their eating habits, their migration, seeing if they'd attack a cardboard seal decoy, and their tendency to JUMP OUT OF THE FREAKING WATER. It gets repetitive, but awesomeness always seems to trump that. But speaking of Jaws, it's that freaking movie that pretty much made me stop going to the beach. Specifically, it was Quint's bloody death that did me in, and that one scene was what cemented an irrational fear of "sharks are always watching, even in the pool." The tendency for shark programming showing their scale compared to humans didn't help my cause. Of course, now I think it's awesome, but I still can't watch Jaws when I know Quint's about to bite it.

If you're wondering what my favorite shark is, it's the Hammerhead.

I just love the shape of its head, really. Plus, they swarm, which every show that mentions them always manages to show this in action.