Thursday, July 31, 2014

I've Been Busy!

It's been quiet hereabouts, for a couple reasons. One, I don't usually bother publishing anything the week of SDCC - the comics blogosphere is usually too crowded for anyone to pay attention to anything other than that, so why put a lot of work into a post that'll die on the vine? Two, I've been teaching a Summer Session course these last six weeks. Let me just say: as demanding as teaching a regular course in the space of a packed ten-week quarter may be, six weeks is positively deadly. I have a tendency to procrastinate that gets me into trouble in ten weeks, it's practically killed me in six.

But I have still been busy! My writing for the A.V Club has been going steady. This week, because there's some kind of comic book movie or something in the theaters, was Comics Week with a special focus on "Cosmic" Comics - which, if you know me, is so fully in my wheelhouse that I've got a cot set up in the corner. I contributed to this special all-cosmic Comics Panel, where I was happy to be able to smuggle Robert Crumb and The Sandman amongst the usual Kirby, Starlin, and Englehart suspects. But more importantly, I produced this feature length essay on Jim Starlin's Warlock - which I do not believe I've ever officially written about, despite its massive significance and my unabashed love for the run. Thanks to Oliver Sava for putting it all together, and for giving me the gig in the first place - now I can buy groceries!

I think it turned out pretty good, even if - due to a funny bit of crossed wires - I ended up having to write it in just a couple of hours. So, if you were ever wondering how well I can write under a tight deadline, the answer is officially "not well, but he can at least spell the words OK."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Devil's Dictionary 2.0

9/11 (Noun)
1) An inside job.
2) A litmus test for aspiring engineers to properly understand the melting points of steel girders. Ex: The last question on the Structural Engineering final involved proving that there was no way the towers could have fallen on 9/11 without additional explosives planted inside the buildings.
Agenda (Noun)
A type of plan utilized by sinister forces to ensure the success of their political programme. Ex: I don't watch Hollywood movies anymore because I don't want to be brainwashed by the feminist agenda.
America (Proper Noun)
A country in North America founded by God-fearing Christian atheists who believed in the absolute right of every citizen to carry any type of gun at all times and to voluntarily opt out of observing whichever laws they please.
Apology (Noun)
1) The admission that someone, somewhere, may in some small way have done something somewhat harmful to another person.
2) Admission of weakness.
Apologize (Verb)
The only unforgivable act.
Atheism (Noun)
1) The belief that there is no God.
2) The highest expression of the rational mind.
Atheist (Noun)
1) A person who practices atheism.
2) A person who believes that reason and rationalism should be the first and only tools used by sane minds to solve problems. Ex: I asked Ted why he didn't use deodorant and he said he was an atheist who didn't see any rational need to suppress his natural scent. He then sent me a link to an article about pheremones.
Benghazi (Noun)
1) A supposed attack on an American embassy in Libya on 9/11 2012.
2) Proof that the United States government is being run by fifth-columnists dedicated to the destruction of America.
Birth Control (Noun)
1) A group of medical procedures and medications for the purpose of preventing unintended pregnancy.
2) Something women pretend to take so they can entrap unwary men.
Breaking Bad (Noun)
1) A popular television program.
2) The story of a real man who overcomes personal weakness and feminist interference to provide for his family the best he can.
Capitalism (Noun)
The dominant economic and political ideology in the United States of America.
Capitalist (Noun)
A person who engages in capitalism. Ex: I am a capitalist because I make minimum wage at McDonalds.
Capitalist (Adj.)
Behavior generally intended to enable the amassing of large amounts of wealth by an increasingly concentrated minority of hereditary billionaires at the expense of everyone else. Ex: I believe in a fully capitalist Jesus.
Communism (Noun)
A system of government in which all personal liberty is extinguished by oppressive government forces, economic restrictions ensure that the bulk of the population is relegated to the status of a permanent underclass, and personal initiative is systematically discouraged.Communist governments are noted for their repressive state police apparatuses and the establishment of a corrupt permanent ruling class who use government primarily as a means of attaining personal wealth. There are no meaningful elections in Communist states because all decisions are made independent of any recourse to popular opinion.
Courtesy (Noun)
The act of being polite to you. Ex: I expect courtesy from everyone with whom I debate the definition of "rape" online.
Courteous (Adj.)
Behavior intended to indicate respectful obeisance toward those with superior intellect.
Democrat (Proper Noun)
A member of the American political party dedicated to the dismantling of the United States of America, and the institution of Communism and Sharia law.
Discrimination (Noun)
The practice of giving special treatment to women or minorities.
Drought (Noun)
Condition of artificial scarcity created by Democrat congress in order to support a bogus global warming agenda and put family farms out of business.
Empathy (Noun)
Syn: Weakness.
Equality (Noun)
A hypothetical future state in which all white men are enslaved under the rule of feminists, minorities, and homosexuals.
False Flag (Noun)
A distraction intended to obscure another more insidious objective. Ex: Rape accusations are often false flags intended to silence male voices and ruin promising careers.
Fedora (Noun)
Crown of righteousness and sign of wisdom. Worn only by the Elect.
Feminism (Noun)
An ideology that teaches that women are superior to men and than men must be forcibly suppressed through violence and political disenfranchisement.
Feminist (Noun)
A person who practices feminism. Ex: That feminist didn't want to have sex with me even though I've been her friend for six months and I've wasted all this time listening to her complain about Brad.
First Amendment (Noun)
1) An amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America that ensures no person shall have their right to speech abridged by the federal government.
2) The right to say anything you want without fear of consequences.
Friendzone (None)
A limbo-like dimension, similar to Superman's Phantom Zone, to which innocent men who just want to have sex with women are banished. Ex: I don't understand why Carol put me in the friendzone, I brought her coffee every day for a month without her even asking me to!
Global Warming (Noun)
A hoax created by the Left with the goal of dismantling capitalism for the purpose of leaving America vulnerable to foreign invasion.
Gun (Noun)
1) The birthright of every American.
2) A potentially lethal weapon. Ex: I always carry my gun because I never know when I will be called upon to aid the coming insurrection against government tyranny and homosexuals.
Homosexual (Noun)
1) A person who engages in homosexuality.
2) Not me.
Homosexuality (Noun)
A form of behavior which must be eradicated lest it infect the innocent. Ex: I hate homosexuality so much I can't stop thinking about it. I think about homosexuality all the time. I have to stop homosexuality so I no longer have to think about big, muscular guys covered in oil thrashing around on a bed covered by satin sheets and lit by flickering candles.
Jesus (Proper Noun)
Ancient prophet who believed in free market ideology and the dismantling of big government. Ex: Although he is widely cited as a moral authority, Jesus' actual recorded words and teachings remain obscure.
Jonathan Franzen (Proper Noun)
The Great American Novelist.
Justice (Noun)
The implementation of the law. Ex: I may not personally like what Zimmerman did, but justice was nonetheless served.
Law (Noun)
Any exercise of force by the Federal Government against someone other than you. Ex: It is well within the law for police officers to implement Stop & Frisk policies in that neighborhood.
Libertarian (Noun)
An autocthonic and solitary entity who is unaffected by the actions of others and whose actions affect no one else.
Maker (Noun)
Syn: Job creator. Member of the creative class who are solely responsible for all productive innovation throughout history.
Man (Noun)
A member of an endangered species, often targeted by feminists for accusations of thoughtcrime.
Misandry (Noun)
The act of committing either psychological or physical abuse against the last disadvantaged minority.
MRA (Noun)
Acronym for Men's Rights Activist. A person dedicated to the idea that men are systematically abused and discriminated by and in need of protection against the overreaches of feminist culture. Ex: I became a MRA after seeing so many men go through the painful ordeal of being friendzoned.
Nice Guy (Noun)
1) A man who expects to receive sex in exchange for granting a woman the privilege of his friendship.
2) A man who is not mean or abusive or a liar like those other guys.
PC (Noun)
Acronym for Political Correctness. An ideology dedicated to restricting the First Amendment rights of men.
Police (Noun)
A class of outlaw against whom self-defense is illegal.
Pregnancy (Noun)
The necessary and completely unavoidable consequence of allowing a man to achieve his birthright.
Racism (Noun)
A category of behavior that officially ended on November 4th, 2008. Ex: The Voting Rights Act is no longer necessary because racism is over.
Rape (Noun)
A category of crime for which the only victims are men.
Republican (Proper Noun)
1) Member of a political party dedicated to compromising on every item of the Democrat agenda.
2) A once-proud institution corrupted by weakness on core principles. Ex: I used to be proud to be a Republican, until they rolled over and decided to rubber stamp Obama's communist agenda.
Reverse Racism (Noun)
The practice of making white people feel guilty for something they didn't even do.
Sex (Noun)
The birthright of every man.
Sexism (Noun)
A rationale offered by women to explain why they deserve special treatment. Ex: We have to let women be firefighters even though they're not physically capable of doing the job because they say it's sexism not to.
Sharia Law (Noun)
The legal system observed by practicing Muslims and based on the religious teachings of the Koran. Ex: Wake up, sheeple, Barack Hussein Obama is trying to impose Sharia law on the United States.
Sheeple (Noun)
Non-atheists. Ex: Wake up, sheeple, Benghazi was a false flag.
Silicon Valley (Proper Noun)
1) Business and research hub of the American technology industry.
2) Incubator for all the great ideas that are going to transform our lives in the 21st century. Ex: I made a lot of money in Silicon Valley by writing a new search algorithm that automatically reports any unusual searches to the federal government, while also managing to avoid paying taxes on income because I'm a Maker not a Taker.
Soccer (Noun)
A game popular in countries other than the US, as well as with small children not yet old enough to play real football, and women who have no other option.
Social Justice (Noun)
False flag rationale used to abridge First Amendment rights by citing special privileges for unfairly advantaged minority groups.
Sovereignty (Noun)
The right of every man to personally secede from a tyrannical government at his desire. Ex: I am exercising my sovereignty by refusing to pull over to the side of the road for ambulances.
Taker (Noun)
A member of the parasite class whose sole desire to is to drain wealth from private hands and into public coffers. Ex: I made a conscious decision not to work because I realized I could have a better standard of living on welfare and in Section 8 housing than I could by working at McDonalds. I guess I'm a taker.
Teachers (Plural Noun)
1) The least trustworthy and most duplicitous of all public employees, worthy only of your scorn and abuse.
2) The people who provide eight hours of free babysitting every day.
Tea Party(Noun)
1) Member of an activist political organization dedicated to the forceful implementation of conservative ideology.
2) True patriots who fight the tyrannical government to lower our all-time historically high tax rates. Ex: I support the Tea Party because I pay too much in taxes, just like my fathers and grandfathers who built this country.
TERF (Noun)
Feminists who hunt other feminists for sport.
Thoughtcrime (Noun)
A thought that is forcibly suppressed by feminists or other minorities because it expresses an commonsense truism not accepted by the PC police. Ex: I know the PC police are going to bust me for thoughtcrime, but I'm only saying what everyone else is thinking.
Tory (Proper Noun)
A member of Britain's ruling conservative party.
Tories (Plural Noun)
1) Plural of Tory.
2) British political party whose primary goal is to rape as many children as possible, and yet still retain the support of a large percentage of the electorate. Ex: I know the Tories are pro-pederasty, but what's their policy on immigration?
A violent criminal who is determined to impose its strange and perverse lifestyle on you by force whether you like it or not. Ex: Transgender people present a clear danger to our American way of life.
Trilby (Noun)
A kind of hat often mistaken for a fedora.
Tumblr (Noun)
1) An online forum for enthusiasts of genre television shows and movies.
2) Where you keep your porn.
Tyranny (Noun)
Any exercise of force by the Federal Government against you. Ex: Because we live in a tyranny, I got a speeding ticket while a bunch of blacks and women were going a lot faster than me.
Weakness (Noun)
A vice practiced by other people, but not you.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

A Whole New World

Big doings!

Longtime readers may remember five or so years ago when I premiered the first installment of THE HURTING'S PARTY JAM PODCAST. You might also remember that a C&D letter from Blogger made me stop posting links to these mixes on this site.

What you may not know is that the PARTY JAMS never stopped, they just went underground. Over the last few years I've compiled a mailing list of interested parties, as well as regularly posting the links to Twitter. The series is, amazingly, all the way up to episode #49, sent out just this past week. Still, I'd be lying if I said that direct mailing was a wholly satisfying distribution strategy. But just this week I came across a new and seemingly (at least for the moment) legal means of posting the PARTY JAMS so that they can be appreciated by a wider audience. A little birdy passed on a link to Mixcloud, a site that allows users to upload completed mixes with tracklists for proper attribution, and which can be listened to on any browser. My page is here.

I've uploaded the most recent twelve and, time permitting, will post more. It's great to have them up like this, and I like the site's functionality - even with the ads, but that's a necessary evil. I remain unconvinced as to the long-term viability of the site: we've seen other quote-unquote "legal" mixtape services come and go before, so I would not be surprised at all if this one vanished in a similar manner before too long. But for the moment, it looks pretty good. You can get started with Episode #49, right here. There is also a widget in my sidebar right under the Twitter feed. So, basically, you can fill your empty lives with The Hurting branded multi-media content until the day you die.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Monday Magic

In which Tim explores the world of Magic: The Gathering one
card at a time, courtesy of Gatherer's "Random Card" button.

Unstable Shapeshifter (Tempest, 1997)

The reason this card exists would appear to be primarily to take advantage of a rule that no longer exists. Unstable Shapeshifter automatically changes to become a Clone of whichever creature enters the battlefield. There are certainly a number of circumstances you can imagine in order to help you exploit this card, but the primary usage was almost certainly for the purpose of hosing Legends.

What are Legends? Legends are a card type that specifies only one copy of said card can be on the board at any one time. Whereas most creatures are not specific characters, some creatures (as well as other permanents such as Artifacts, Lands, and Enchantments) are specific characters that represent figures from the storyline. For instance: you can have as many Grizzly Bears on the board as you want at any given moment (allowing for the fact that you can only have four in your deck). Conceivably, two players could have eight grizzly bears total on the table at any given moment, or create a device to generate unlimited Grizzly Bear tokens, and that would be fine.

But let's say you have a Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir on the table.

Teferi isn't a generic creature or soldier, he's a specific person who plays a specific role in one of Magic's biggest storylines. As such, he has the adjective "Legendary" on his card type line. This used to mean only one of him could be on the table at any given time, and one of the consequences of that was the "Legend rule," which stated that if two copies of the same Legend were ever on the board at the same time, both of them would go into the graveyard. (Unless you had a Mirror Gallery in play.) This is intuitive: you can't have two of the same person on the battlefield at the same time. So you can see how a card like Unstable Shapeshifter was designed specifically to dissuade your opponent from playing powerful Legends. Why cast a card if it's going to be immediately sent to the graveyard?

The problem is that for a long time Legends were not regarded with fondness by many in Magic. They were considered a creative necessity in order to be able to use the game to reflect events in a storyline, but the Legend Rule also discouraged many players from playing even powerful Legend cards because of the chances of competitive cards becoming impossible to play. (If a card was tournament-viable and also a Legend, any opponent could sideboard the same card and be prepared to nullify that exact threat in the second match. It didn't make for fun play.) Compounding the problem was the invention of Planeswalkers, a new card type created in the late 2000s to represent certain very powerful characters from the storyline (characters who could walk between different planes, or different worlds, hence the name). Although they didn't call it the Legend rule when applied to Planeswalkers, they still operated under the same principle: no more than one version of Jace or Ajani could be on the board at any given time, for the simple reason that no more than one version of the same person can be in the same room as another version.

Two things happened that necessitated a change in the rules. One, Planeswalkers became an extremely popular card type, and a vanguard of the majority of tournament-viable decks. But the Legend weakness still meant that even the most powerful Planeswalkers could be countered simply by playing a version of the same character. Two, while Legends had never been the most popular card type, that changed with the invention of the Commander format (previously known as "Elder Dragon Highlander," or EDH). Without going into detail, Commander is a format built around Legends as a card type. The rise of Commander as a popular format meant there was a great deal of new demand for Wizards to produce more Legends, even though the restrictions of the Legend rule as it existed had historically made Legends unpopular with many players and designers.

So the rule was changed a couple years back. You can still only have one version of a Legend or Planeswalker on the table at any given time, but your Legends do not effect those of your opponent, meaning you can't be forced to put a Legend in the graveyard because your opponent was clever enough to have the same Legend in their deck. And if you do have two versions of the same Legend on your side of the table, both cards do not immediately go into the graveyard, only one. All of this means that Unstable Shapeshifter can't do one of the things it was designed to do. It can still do a number of other things - there are plenty of good non-Legendary creatures still hanging around the game that you might want to duplicate, after all. But at the time of its invention the card functioned as effective removal against a certain type of card, and that functionality doesn't exists anymore - unless you're stupid enough to play this before you play a Legend yourself, in which case this copy would just go into the graveyard. And while there may be one or two exotic circumstances when that might be useful, it's just not something that comes up very often.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Well, What Do You Know

Turns out DC is publishing a good Wonder Woman comic after all.

It just happens to be the digital-only Scooby-Doo Team-Up #9, by Scholly Fisch and Dario Brizuela.