Tuesday, September 30, 2008 Fábrica de Heróis

Fábrica de Heróis is a nifty Flash-based program that lets you design characters in the style of Bruce Timm's DC Animated Universe. I've been playing around with this program for a while now, and it's a lot of fun. As the program was created by Brazilians, the whole thing's in Portugese. It doesn't take long to get the hang of it, though, and there's always Google's on-line translator if you get really stuck.

The creators have now posted a link to download an off-line version of the program, so you can create new superfolk wherever you and your laptop go. Megaupload rubs me the wrong way for some reason, so I've uploaded a copy of the files to Rapidshare for good measure.

Still no sign of the teen heroes templates, however. They'd be nice to have if I get around to running an old school Villains and Vigilantes game for the kids.

Real-Life Supervillians Suck

Via the Tangency forum at rpg.net:

Woman Wearing Cow Suit Arrested

A Middletown woman is arrested, after chasing children, urinating on a porch, and blocking traffic... all while wearing a cow suit.

Police say 32 year old Michelle Allen was chasing children in the 3100 block of Wilbraham, while wearing the cow costume early Monday evening. Allen also reported urinated on a neighbor's front porch. An officer told Allen to go home and stay there for the remainder of the evening.

Police were later called to North Verity Avenue, where Allen was allegedly blocking traffic. The arresting officer says Allen smelled of alcohol, slurred her speech, and was belligerent. She also alleged cussed at the officer.

Allen is charged with disorderly conduct.

Ship of Death

While I am enjoying the on-going saga of the Somali pirates who are holding a Ukranian ship transporting 33 T-72 tanks for ransom before finding themselves surrounded by warships and taking to fighting amongst themselves as well as the aforementioned warships, this story about another crew of Somali pirates on another hostage ship is even weirder:
A tense standoff has developed in waters off Somalia over an Iranian merchant ship laden with a mysterious cargo that was hijacked by pirates.

Somali pirates suffered skin burns, lost hair and fell gravely ill “within days” of boarding the MV Iran Deyanat. Some of them died.

Andrew Mwangura, the director of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, told the Sunday Times: “We don’t know exactly how many, but the information that I am getting is that some of them had died. There is something very wrong about that ship.”

The vessel’s declared cargo consists of “minerals” and “industrial products”. But officials involved in negotiations over the ship are convinced that it was sailing for Eritrea to deliver small arms and chemical weapons to Somalia’s Islamist rebels.


The ship set sail from Nanjing, China, at the end of July. According to its manifest, it was heading for Rotterdam where it would unload 42500 tons of iron ore and “industrial products” purchased by a German client.

At Eyl, the ship was secured by more pirates — about 50 on board, and another 50 on shore.

But within days those who had boarded the ship developed mysterious health trouble.

This was also confirmed by Hassan Allore Osman, minister of minerals and oil in Puntland, an autonomous region of Somalia.

He headed a delegation sent to Eyl when news of the toxic cargo and illnesses surfaced.

He told one news publication, The Long War Journal, that during the six days he had negotiated with the pirates, a number of them had become sick and died.

“That ship is unusual,” he was quoted as saying. “It is not carrying a normal shipment.”

The pirates did reveal that they had tried to inspect the ship’s cargo containers when some of them fell sick — but the containers were locked.

Osman’s delegation spoke to the ship’s captain and its engineer by cellphone, demanding to know more about the cargo.

Initially it was claimed the cargo contained “crude oil”; later it was said to be “minerals”.

And Mwangura has added: “Our sources say it contains chemicals, dangerous chemicals.”

But IRISL has denied that — and threatened legal action against Mwangura. The company has reportedly paid the pirates 200000 — the first of several “ransom instalments”, but that, too, has been denied.

More at http://www.thetimes.co.za/PrintEdition/Article.aspx?id=851953

Monday, September 22, 2008 Things I Found Looking For Something Else #1

Came across this looking for the hangover illo below. Not for the squeamish!

Edit: Just to be clear, as I think there may be some misunderstanding on this point - I did not post this video because I thought it was funny. I simply had to share it in order to shake loose the malignant grasp it held on my psyche, like you would with a cursed Japanese videotape or something.

So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star

We had the family Rock Band party this Saturday. It was really my brother's gig and he set everything up. We put up the big tent at the family compound, hooked up his XBox to his digital projector, hung up some bedsheets as a screen, and we were good to go. We had perfect weather, and nearly everyone showed up. Sara had the most consistent high scores on vocals, as she makes up in enthusiasm and volume what she utterly lacks in pitch and harmony. Andrea kicked all our asses singing, of course, but I think I did pretty good on Moonage Daydream and Here Comes Your Man. Even reticent ol' Mario took a crack at the mike. A good time was had by all.

Maybe too good of a time in my case.

Due to a serious misunderstanding, I drank an entire fifth of Bacardi. The misunderstanding was that I thought I could drink an entire fifth of Bacardi. I was completely useless all day Sunday (as opposed to my usual 3/4 useless) and am still hurting this morning. Sara and Andrea made me feel even worse by reminding me that after I finished the Bacardi, I moved on to straight amaretto on the rocks. Ouch.

I didn't thrown up, though perhaps I probably should have. But I just can't bring myself to vomit since my first trip to India. I guess after doing nothing but puking for three straight days of agony, you develop a mental block from ever doing it again.

By the way, kids, Barcardi O and V8 Splash Tropical Blend for the win.

Friday, September 12, 2008 Malignant Monkey Mojo

My buddy Garz sent out this e-mail on Sunday (09/07/08):
My Saturdays are pretty normal. I go to work at 9 and come near 9pm. Sometime within the 12 hours I'm at work I sell a car or two. Today was no different. I come home at about 9:20 and I see something on the porch. I can't quite make it out from the headlights alone. I get out of the car and I see a rather large (about 2 ft high) clay bust of a chimpanzee. I had to touch it to make sure it was real. I went in the house - no note about the monkey. SO I had some late dinner and went to sleep. 5 am comes around and Linda calls me to tell me she made it to work. I ask her about the monkey, she has zero clue. 8 am comes around. I start to open up the house and take a look. Yup its still there. I make Matt french toast and bacon, while he eats I actually go outside and take a look at my new chimpy friend. It is a statue made of clay that is a chimp bust. I lift it and it is damn heavy. I'm guessing 35 pounds and it was built on a frame work of 2-3 bricks. I move it to the side of my house and give Jeff a call. I'm guessing he went to 2 brothers brewery and dropped off the monkey. Nope. I call Hecky - Nope. Tom wont come west of RT 59 and tony don't drive. According to Hecky Mikeys too lazy to do it. Linda closed teh front door about 7pm and I got home at 930.... I'm going to guess it was just a random weird thing. I'm planning on painting it like the joker for Halloween. I did ask my neighbor to see if by chance he did it as a mild prank. He looked stunned. Nope. Linda was a little freaked out become someone came on to the stoop with the kids at home.... I don't think this was meant as a hostile thing.....

None of us had anything to do it with, but Mikey had a helpful suggestion:
It's a mating ritual/gift from a female big foot.

This was immediately agreed upon by all - I suggested that the bust was a representation of what his suitor thought their baby would look like - and the she-beast was dubbed "Snatchquatch". By Garz.

Later in the week, Garz sent out a photo of the thing, proving he takes pictures about as well as he types.

We were all creeped out by it. Garz has obviously been marked by... something.

Thursday, September 11, 2008 Comic Book Noir

This entry is based on a post I made to a thread at rpg.net a couple of years ago. Using the Orson Welles Batman hoax as a starting point, we were throwing around ideas as to what a serious Batman film from the era would look like. I've salvaged my response here not only to save it from the eventual board purge but because of its new topicality. Of course, since I originally wrote this, Christopher Nolan has gone on to make a comic book noir far better than anything I could have dreamed up.

A Batman film done by Fox would be very different than one by Warners or Universal. MGM wouldn't touch the property with a 10 ft pole. Ironically enough, Warner Brothers, future owner of DC Comics, would probably be the best fit. Warners was the home of the gangster melodrama in the 30's and 40's, and my imaginary Batman film is dark and dangerous. Here's what I came up with for the cast of a 1948 WB film.

Claude Rains as Alfred Pennyworth. Rains was a tremendous talent and a great supporting actor. Classy, wry, subtle, and English - he's perfect for the part.

Pat O'Brien as James Gordon. O'Brien specialized in cops and priests, and O'Brien could bring a little of each to the role of Gotham's staunchest defender of the Law.

Victor Mature as Harvey Dent. Pretty enough to play "Adonis" Dent, big enough to pose a believable threat. Mature's best work was in noir, and I'd think he'd shine in the role.

(Ideally, I'd have gone with Errol Flynn. Flynn fits the classically handsome criteria and would have the audience on his side from the moment he appears on screen, which would make his fall from grace that much more heart-rending. It's a bit too much of a stretch, however. While Flynn longed for juicier roles, I can't see WB casting him as a villain in a comic-book noir.)

Burt Lancaster as Bruce Wayne. Lancaster was just starting out at the time, catching his big break in 1946's The Killers. He's a great physical presence and can play smooth and brooding and flamboyant and sometimes all three at once. Furthermore, with his circus background, he's capable of doing a lot of Batmanesque stunts himself.

Richard Widmark as The Joker. Sure, it's type-casting. But his turn in Kiss of Death set the standard for giggling psychopaths.

I like [other posters' suggestions of] Edward G. Robinson as the Penguin and Veronica Lake as Poison Ivy. I can also see James Cagney as the Riddler; while Frank Gorshin's portrayal of the character is based primarily on Widmark, there's more than a little Cagney in there as well, especially in the hand gestures. I am stuck on casting a good leading lady, however.

And the whole shebang is directed by Michael Curtiz, of course.

Here's a quick 'shop done by the guy who started the original thread to give us an idea of Eddie G. as Oswald Cobblepot:

Yeah, I can see it.

Fletch Author Gregory McDonald Dead at 71


The first time I came across McDonald's work, I took a pass. It was the mid-70's and I was a grade-schooler who spent most of his summer vacation at the local library. I found a hardcover edition of Fletch in the Mystery section. There was no illustration on the dust jacket, just the first few paragraphs of the novel up to the point where Fletch agrees to kill a man. That turned Li'l Preterite off, as I assumed it indicated that the protagonist was another hard-bitten anti-hero who reveled in murder and mayhem. My mistake. My foolish, foolish mistake.

Years later, I saw and enjoyed the film version with Chevy Chase. That led me back to the source novels and their tightly-written plots laced with dry, cynical humor. I fell in love.

Of course, McDonald was also a renowned journalist and the author of many other novels, including works of serious fiction. While I never really warmed up to the Flynn series, I did enjoy his Skylar books. It seemed a much more comfortable fit for the author than his recent attempts to de-age (Fletch Won, Fletch Too) and/or clone (Son of Fletch, Fletch Reflected) his most famous creation.

If you only know Irwin Fletcher from the movies, I urge you to check out the books. And if you've already read a Fletch novel, then I'm sure you'll need no urging to raise a glass in memory of a fine author and journalist.

Gregory McDonald's Official Website