April 2005

So what’s been going this past week? Well…

(last) Thursday: Went to Jigsaw for the Dolltopia comic launch party. It was a nice, chilled-out affair, until some drunk guy dressed like the Pope got into argument with the bouncer (yes… Jigsaw, a small gallery space that features small press comics, has a bouncer). There I am chatting with Robin and Jenny about a very candid (and quite hilarious) pic of Keanu Reeves vomiting on the side of the road which I’ve been passing along to anyone who would appreciate such a thing (such as Jenny), and all of a sudden I see the very warm and friendly (not to mention quite dapper) Ben Jones yelling at some dude at the door wearing a foam crucifix. It was nuts. You had to be there.

At least Ben was kind enough to pass along a pic of the pontif in question…

Friday: MK and I went to a party thrown by Kenny, an old school punk rocker who hauls crates during the day and plays drums during the night. As expected, the place was packed with blue collar, dock worker types and Japanese punks.

I first met Kenny, who’s an old friend of Jay’s, when he was producing Joe’s Clogged Arteries album a few years back and I instantly became infatuated with the guy (I guess you could call it one of those innocent male crushes, or a bro-mance as its more commonly known). Come on… here’s a guy who loves talking about the Munsters, old bars that used to serve hot dogs with every beer, the antics of crazy music promoters from Jersey, and the band Rush; how could I not think this guy was awesome?!

Saturday: Spent the after shopping in Jersey with MK. The plans was to get some new clothes, but I ended up getting mostly games and DVDs (no big surprise there). I scored Reservoir Dogs for $7.50 and finally got the special edition of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly with one of my birthday gift certificates. Plus I got another Xbox game despite not having the system (Xbox 360 had better fucking be backwards compatible). MK wants to get a Gamecube later down the road, so I helped her compose a wish list of stuff she’d like (which is a bit tough since she doesn’t like Mario games).

Sunday: I went golfing for the first time ever. MK’s dad is a total golf nut, and she used to play quite a bit as a kid, so she decided to show me how to swing a golf club at a particle range in upstate NY. I have to confess that I’ve always had a hidden fascination for the sport; whenever I’m with friends while flipping through the channels, and golf comes one, I always stay quiet while everyone else complains about how dumb it is. Plus, I really dig Mario Golf, so it was nice to give it a shot in real life. And I didn’t do so bad my first time out…. though my body was actually pretty sore for a couple of days afterwards (as gay as that might sound).

When I returned to Brooklyn that night, I caught up with my roomate who had just flown in that afternoon; Stephy’s a school teacher and her class were invited to Atlanta for a robot building competition. The event had some guests, including the inventor of the Segway, an “internet celebrity” (that fat guy who filmed himself lip syncing to some Euro pop song… you’ve probably seen it, and no, I don’t find it funny the least bit), and the man who created Google. The guy even tried to pick Stephy up!

Monday: Went to Fresh Meat, the SVA mini comics fair. The fact that one was taking place was amazing in itself, and a true testament of how things have improved for cartoonists studying at SVA; as Dave also noted (who was there to look at portfolios, as were reps from DC Comics and Tokyopop), something like that would be simply unfathomable back when we were attending the school (thanks to the previous regime which did much to make anyone who wanted to pursue comics feel completely ostracized).

Plus there was actually a few genuinely cool books on-hand, including…

- Evil Circus, which is about a spunky intern forest, an angry mother bear, and a angry French guy, from David McGuire. The story is fun and the art is super cute. McGuire also has a really neat web comic called Fox & Apple that’s worth checking out.

- Barnacle Bill Saves the World, by Jon Vermilyea. It’s a whacked out journey starring an I don’t what the fuck it is going to hell on a mission from God to prevent the end of the world. I found Jon’s interpretation of God quite brilliant. Best line in the whole book? Hitler with “Oooo! I hate tennis! And I hate puppies!” In this day and age where totally off the cuff, random for the sake of being random comics is so annoying passe, it’s nice to see someone who can do it , and do it right.

- Out of the Water, by Matthew Bernier, whom I have a feeling is going to make a huge name for himself if he is indeed serious about making comics. It too is really hard to describe, so all I can say with utmost confidence is that it’s really, really good. I wish I could say the art and storytelling reminds me of this one person, or that person, but its an even mix of so many different styles, yet wholly unique (though I will say that is has a strong Good Bye Chunky Rice vibe on numerous levels). I really wish Matt had a website so I can show everyone, but he said it’s coming soon….

I left the show with Steve Flack, and on the way to the subway, we passed some crazy old homeless lady in the middle of a monster piss, right in the middle of the street. Steve found it both funny and disgusting. Guess someone’s not used to such things…

Tuesday: Bought some more games using the rest of my gift ceritificates. I finally have Gran Turismo 4 (best New York stage ever in a game, and really puts Crazy Taxi 2 to shame) and Resident Evil 4. As usual, I always go to store to get one game, end up getting two others, and leave really wanting to get a third different title, along with the original for next time. This new game that I just realized I must get is Klonoa 2 for GBA.

Also downloaded the second episode of the new season of Trailer Park Boys. And as expected, it was amazing.

I have to confess that by the end of season four, I wondered where else they could take the show, and that perhaps it might be running out of steam, but this new season looks to be one of the best thus far. I know it sounds crazy to say a show that features two perpetual fuck ups who are constantly trying to get rich and leave the confines of a shitty trailer park by selling weed and the idiots that they use and abuse, including a mildly retarded guy who loves cats, a drunken fallen grace trailer park manager, and his gay lover who never wears a shirt and loves cheesebrugers, just to name a few, would be some of the most compelling characters on tv, in one of the most well written and carefully produced shows on the air today, but I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Wednesday: At this point, I’m more or less the unofficial liaison to the video game industry for the computer art department at SVA. Crystal Dynamics came to the school to recruit some talent, so I had lunch with them and showed them around the place. The three person crew that presented the company were actually quite cool, including the guy responsible for all the main character designs in the Legacy of Kain games (I’m not a super fan of the game, but I know a few people who are, and even I have to admit that is cool on certain levels). And unlike EA, they didn’t come off as cult members in the least bit and therefore made a pretty positive impression on the students.

Later in the evening was my class, but about thirty minutes before start time, the curriculum coordinator made me realize that I had made a very big mistake. Basically, I was under the belief that my current curriculum was twelve sessions, but its actually ten, And last night was class number eleven. And the thing is, I should have known better since I already knew that virtually every classroom would be out of use due to pending end of year festivities. So I sheepishly explained all the students of my major oversight and told them that their finals should be emailed to me, and that I’d write back with my critique.

In a small way, I actually happy that things have wrapped up earlier than expected. This semester has been rather rough, due to my especially hectic schedule as of late. Plus those two field trips, as beneficial as they were, threw the entire class schedule off.

Today: Not too much to report., just catching up some freelance work. And not too much to report from the world of games either. Other than some folks totally loosing it due to Nintendogs getting a perfect 40 out of 40 on the GAF (Jesus… my whole life is about video games: playing them, writing about them, studying them, teaching them, and even I don’t take it as seriously as some, which is to say is way too fucking seriously…. but I’ll bitch about gamers another time), things are somewhat dead, which is to be expected since E3 is just down the road.

Well there is that blog from the folks who bought that haunted NES from a whiles back, plus the leaked pics of the new Zelda game that’s been floating around the net (to protect my legal butt, I won’t post them here, but if you look around you’ll find them, or just wait till the new EGM arrives), but I digress…

Oh, and before anyone else asks (cuz about twenty people have already done so this week alone), I am not going to E3. I wish I was, especially since I’ve never been to the show thus far, but I am not. It’s just that no one has asked me to cover the event for whatever publication. Well I was asked once, by Nick Mag, but I had to pass due to obligations at my day gig at the time (I was the assistant manager of the Medieval Times box office in Time Square… yeah a shitty retail job, but at least I got to sell swords, fairy dust, dragons, and suits of armor), and to this day I still feel like a retard for doing so; it was when I was filling in for my boss, which was a sacrifice that was totally wasted, since my boss totally stabbed me in the back as soon as he returned.

… I may as well mention that turing down such a sweet offer put me in a rather depressed and foul mood, hence why I heckled Salma Hayek while waiting in line for a movie in the first place. for those of you who know the story. If not, I’ll pass it along later if anyone’s interested…

Anyway, what’s really annoying is hearing other game journalists bitch about having to go. Yeah, I know its loud and annoying and exhausting, but still, they act as if its the worst thing ever, which is totally bullshit (I also sorta roll my eyes at comic book people when they have similar attitudes about attending San Diego).

Actually, some news might have broken tonight, but I couldn’t tell you; my Mac has been all screwed up ever since updating Panther to 10.3.9. I always wait a day or two before applying any update as to check on what other’s had to say, but when this latest one appeared, I blindly downloaded it, and now I’m paying the price; I can’t even surf the web to any reasonable degree… after loading a page, both Safari and Firefox just hangs, meaning I have to quite and restart each program whenever I want to see a new page. Needless to say, its uber annoying.

On a related note, OS X 10.4, aka Tiger, comes out tomorrow, and I’ll be picking it up; in addition to the already sweet educator’s price, SVA is adding an additional day one discount, which makes it a very nice sixty clams. I wasn’t going to install it till the first update arrived, but now I may have to in order to fix a problem that’s appeared (and no, the security and java updates have done nothing to help). Other people btw have complained about an inability to launch iTunes or burn CDs or DVDs (which I had, but the security update did fix that). Plus, I am excited for all the new features that Tiger with have, so I guess its nice to have an excuse to jump on board on day one.

As for the rest of the weekend, I’m catching the premiere of the new Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy flick with MK tomorrow night. Even though we’ve heard all the horrible things about it, we’re still diehard fans of the books and original BBC show. Then there’s an MC Chris show on Sunday night. And between then, its more writing and prepping for my panel discussion/debate on Monday night; in case you don’t know, please check the News section for more info on the Hi Res vs. Low Res event.

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04/21/2005

i am 8-bit: Opening Night

by Matthew Hawkins

WARNING: MASSIVE amount of pics, sorry 56k.

So here are pics from the i am 8-bit video game art show opening, courtesy of somakitty. Regarding the event:
“… hands down, this was the best show of 2005 (so far).”

Man, I’ve never wanted to be in LA so bad like right now. And I honestly believe that one does not have to be a video game aficionado to appreciate some of these pieces…

David Crane

Gary Baseman

(perhaps my fave, but that’s cuz I’m such a fan of Baseman)

Matt Clark

Bod Dob

Blaine Fontana

Joe Ledbetter

Kii Arens

Plasticfucker

Misha

Michael Slack

Peter Gronquist

Carlos Ramos

Thomas Han

Charles Glaubitz

Luke Cheuh

Nathan Stapley

Scott Shaw

Mike Davis

Nathan Cartwright

Tim Tomkinson

Erik Wayne Patterson

John Pham

Gerg Craola Simkins

Daniel Peacock

Isaac Pierro

Jason Sho Green

(I wonder what’s written on Mario’s hand?)

Miles Thompson

Gabe Swarr

Sket One

Jim Knoblauch

Anna Chambers

Choncey Langford

Dennis Larkin

Lynne Naylor

Gary Taxali

Haze, who drew and painted for the audience

Trent Watanabe

some life sized sculptures

and that gigantic NES controller from G4 proved to be a big hit of the crowd by all accounts

EDIT: Wow, even IGN reviewed the show. Weird…

EDIT #2: (5/27/05) Somakitty stopped by the final night of the show where there was some new work on display. You can find them here.

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04/20/2005

By The Way…

by Matthew Hawkins

- I forgot to pass this along yesterday: my Retro Redux report is finally available on Gamasutra. Even though this is my first published piece for them, its the cover feature. Sweet!

You can check out the article here (you’ll need to register, but its free, and the site’s totally worth it).

- Remember yesterday’s news about Super Gunstar Heroes coming to the GBA courtesy of Play? Well here are the first screenshots from Play’s website:

Well the game looks totally hot, so I’m super amped. Is it just me, or does the first pic have a slight Alien Soldier vibe from the character’s shooting stance?

- Also mentioned yesterday was the opening of the i am 8-bit art show. I’m still waiting for pics, this time from “somakitty”, a friend from YayHooray who’s totally into the art show scene in LA. I’ll pass them along once I get some, so till then, here’s a few featuring the reception crowd, including everyone’s favorite, John Pham. Hopefully the next time he’s in NYC, we’ll finally get around to having that gaming party that’s been talked about.

- Some more Shadow of the Colossus screens were posted on the GAF last night, which can be viewed here. But my personal fave has to be this one:

- Also via the GAF: we all know that people are putting all sorts of stuff on their PSPs, such as their own music, movies, manga, and… porn. Well so does Hugh Hefner apparently, and thusly we now have the PlayboyStation Portable.

I love this quote:

“The shoot was tons of fun,” the buff and toned Amy Sue Cooper said after finishing her sci-fi-themed photo shoot. “Swords. Kung-fu. Leather…. Now I know what it feels like to be inside a video game.” After seeing her pictures and video on the PSP, she added, “The thought of being carried around in a guy’s pocket and having him push my buttons is really sexy.”

- Finally, this afternoon was my belated birthday cupcake celebration at work. The best part? The gigantic complete Bone collection that I got from (coworker) Steve, which he even got signed by Jeff Smith!

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