Well, hello there, everyone. Yes, I am still alive.
I took some time off the grid earlier this week to recover from New York Comic Con, but my return to regular blogging got sideswiped by the arrival of Batman: Arkham City. As I mentioned on Twitter, pretty much every waking hour that I haven’t been working on assignments this week has been occupied by Arkham City.
Given that confession, do I even need to mention how amazing the game is?
Moving on, here are this week’s links:
— Question: Is “Teenage Mutant Ninja Noses” the greatest form of graffiti in the world right now?
Answer: Yes. Yes, it is.
— I always feel a little self-conscious playing some of the more interactive, duck-and-cover games in arcades, but after watching this video, I don’t think I will ever be embarrassed again. Sure, this guy in a Thai arcade looks pretty crazy as he acts out every movement and line of dialogue in Ghost Squad, but as Kotaku points out, he did make it through the whole game on a single credit.
Crazy guy in a Thai arcade, I salute you.
— If you were blown away by the season finale of “Breaking Bad,” make sure to read this interview with Giancarlo Esposito, who played one of the series’ most memorable characters: Gustavo Fring. Here’s an excerpt:
What has playing this character meant to you?
Esposito: I set myself up to do something that was truly different in its nature, by creating a character who is … so relaxed and so poised and cultured. It took a lot of courage to be able lay back on something and try to create someone who was so calm. I let the menace come out of my movements and my eyes and everything else. I did what I set out to do, and I think I’ve created a character that will live on for a long time in people’s nightmares.
Oh, I think that’s a pretty safe bet, Giancarlo. You can read the rest of the interview at TVGuide.com.
— Courtesy of Cracked, here’s an excerpt from a sobering analysis of Six Classic Kids Shows Secretly Set in Nightmarish Universes:
… Scooby-Doo villains are not run-of-the-mill criminals: They all have the uncanny ability to manufacture realistic monster costumes, project full-scale holograms and carve out high-tech hideouts in abandoned mineshafts. Many of them already had impressive vocational skills prior to their criminal lives — three of the villains were PhDs, two were lawyers, one had the ability to produce near-identical forged paintings, one could repair boats, one was a magician, one was a stuntman and one could hypnotize people.
See that? That’s the educational system, art world, maritime engineering and entertainment industries — all in the toilet. Each of these villains showed creativity, intelligence, diligence and ambition. In our world, they would easily be employed, maybe even famous. But, in the universe of Scooby-Doo, it simply wasn’t enough. The Scooby gang ran into a new, desperate genius every single week for decades. Either brilliance is simply run-of-the-mill in their universe, or else the entire economy has collapsed, and what we’re witnessing is the death throes of society itself. Although there are signs that the sandwich ingredient and dog marijuana industries are booming, so it’s probably the former.
So, basically what this is saying is… “Scooby Doo” is the most depressing cartoon ever created.
— Over at Twisted Sifter, there’s an amazing gallery of photos from the Bregenz Festival “Opera on the Lake” in Austria showing the elaborate, breathtaking stages created on Lake Constance for the shows. Check out this one from the 1999-2000 performance of “A Masked Ball” by Giuseppe Verdi:
(Photo by Benno Hagleitner)
— Heidi MacDonald has a thought-provoking analysis of the recent Marvel layoffs that had everyone down in the dumps this week. It’s definitely worth reading for some behind-the-scenes perspective on the situation at Marvel:
Yesterday was a gloomy day for the comics industry, as 15 Marvel staffers — including several popular editors and a couple of legendary Bullpenners — were laid off. This followed the recent layoff of COO Jim “Ski” Sokolowski. We all know the economy sucks, and that comics sales are down this year. But was that the reason for the cost cutting?
Or was it Disney? The Mouse purchased Marvel for $5 billion two years, two months ago and they are well known for being very budget conscious. Did some Disney suit look at revenue, say it wasn’t enough and order some budget cuts?
While both these scenarios sound plausible, according to Marvel insiders contacted by The Beat, neither seems to be the case. The budget slashing is the work of Marvel’s CEO, Isaac Perlmutter, an executive of legendary stinginess whose fanatical devotion to saving money —an increased interest in being hands on at Marvel — has led to the layoffs and other draconian measures inside the company.
Please send good vibes out to all the Marvel crew who find themselves looking for new jobs these days, as they’re a good bunch. As is often the case these days, one of those laid off by the House of Ideas is a former co-worker of mine at Wizard, Alejandro Arbona, who’s a genuinely decent guy and someone who’s certain to be a great asset to any company that brings him onboard.
He’s good people, folks. Here’s hoping he lands somewhere soon.
— Finally, as I mentioned on Twitter, Google Plus, and Facebook this week, a buddy of mine just launched a nice little iPad app for kids (and their parents) that I hope you’ll put on your radar. It’s called Looking Glass, and it provides original videos for kids that teach them about all sorts of subjects with educational videos set to music.
When he first described the app to me a while back, I immediately thought of those vintage videos that aired during “Sesame Street” and “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” that showed you how crayons were made and things like that. It’s a really great idea, and I’m hoping it takes off.
Here’s an example of the sort of videos they’ve created:
If you’re interested, please give it a try — and if you like it, spread the word.
You can find out more at the Looking Glass website.
That’s it for this week, folks! Back again with more links on Monday!