Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's a man, baby!

I'm not a big fan of "reality" television. As a matter of fact, I downright hate it. But I am all for anything that helps promote tolerance and so I applaud the decision by America's Top Model to include a trans gender woman as one of the contestants. And for those that think a "he/she" hasn't got a chance with "real" women, I challenge you to pick her out.

Top row, from left to right: Nikeysha, Sheena. 2nd row: Marjorie, McKey. 3rd row: Samantha, ShaRaun, 4th row: Hannah, Isis, 5th row: Joslyn, Lauren, 6th row: Annaleigh, Clark, 7th row: Elina, Brittany.

Now, don't cheat and look it up on the net! See if you can figure it out and post here. I'll post who it is tomorrow. For the record, I did not choose the right woman.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Crossing a line

Anyone who has known me for a while knows that I can sometimes come off a bit, well, lewd. Generally, I've know a person for some time before showing this side of me and even then, I try not to cross certain lines and I do try, (No, really! I do!) not to offend. And while I think that some flirting or "dirty" talk is ok with some people who are not your wife or girlfriend, the following is NEVER acceptable.



This was brought to my attention via The Comic Stop's own Girl Friday on her blog Geeked, who in turn got it from John DiBello, the caretaker of Bully. I'm cutting and pasting from Kristina's blog. Read on.


Overheard at San Diego Comic-Con while I was having lunch on the balcony of the Convention Center on Sunday July 27: a bunch of guys looking at the digital photos on the camera of another, while he narrated: "These were the Ghostbusters girls. That one, I grabbed her ass, 'cause I wanted to see what her reaction was." This was only one example of several instances of harassment, stalking or assault that I saw at San Diego this time.

1. One of my friends was working at a con booth selling books. She was stalked by a man who came to her booth several times, pestering her to get together for a date that night. One of her co-workers chased him off the final time.

2. On Friday, just before the show closed, this same woman was closing up her tables when a group of four men came to her booth, started taking photographs of her, telling her she was the "prettiest girl at the con." They they entered the booth, started hugging and kissing her and taking photographs of themselves doing so. She was confused and scared, but they left quickly after doing that.

3. Another friend of mine, a woman running her own booth: on Friday a man came to her booth and openly criticized her drawing ability and sense of design. Reports from others in the same section of the floor confirmed he'd targeted several women with the same sort of abuse and criticism.

Quite simply, this behavior has got to stop at Comic-Con. It should never be a sort of place where anyone, man or woman, feels unsafe or attacked either verbally or physically in any shape or form. There are those, sadly, who get off on this sort of behavior and assault, whether it's to professional booth models, cosplayers or costumed women, or women who are just there to work. This is not acceptable behavior under any circumstance, no matter what you look like or how you're dressed, whether you are in a Princess Leia slave girl outfit or business casual for running your booth.

On Saturday, the day after the second event I described above, I pulled out my convention book to investigate what you can do and who you can speak to after such an occurrence. On page two of the book there is a large grey box outlining "Convention Policies," which contain rules against smoking, live animals, wheeled handcarts, recording at video presentations, drawing or aiming your replica weapon, and giving your badge to others. There is nothing about attendee-to-attendee personal behavior.

Page three of the book contains a "Where Is It?" guide to specific Comic-Con events and services. There's no general information room or desk listed, nor is there a contact location for security, so I go to the Guest Relations Desk. I speak to a volunteer manning the desk; she's sympathetic to the situation but who doesn't have a clear answer to my question: "What's Comic-Con's policy and method of dealing with complaints about harassment?" She directs me to the nearest security guard, who is also sympathetic listening to my reports, but short of the women wanting to report the incidents with the names of their harassers, there's little that can be done.

"I understand that," I tell them both, "but what I'm asking is more hypothetical and informational: if there is a set Comic-Con policy on harassment and physical and verbal abuse on Con attendees and exhibitors, and if so, what's the specific procedure by which someone should report it, and specifically where should they go?" But this wasn't a question either could answer.

So, according to published con policy, there is no tolerance for smoking, drawn weapons, personal pages or selling bootleg videos on the floor, and these rules are written down in black and white in the con booklet. There is not a word in the written rules about harassment or the like. I would like to see something like "Comic-Con has zero tolerance for harassment or violence against any of our attendees or exhibitors. Please report instances to a security guard or the Con Office in room XXX."

The first step to preventing such harassment is giving its victims the knowledge that they can safely and swiftly report such instances to someone in authority. Having no published guideline, and indeed being unable to give a clear answer to questions about it, gives harassment and violence one more rep-tape loophole to hide behind.

I enjoyed Comic-Con. I'm looking forward to coming back next year. So, in fact, are the two women whose experiences I've retold above. Aside from those instances, they had a good time at the show. But those instances of harassment shouldn't have happened at all, and that they did under no clear-cut instructions about what to do sadly invites the continuation of such behavior, or even worse.

I don't understand why there's no such written policy about what is not tolerated and what to do when this happens. Is there anyone at Comic-Con able to explain this? Does a similar written policy exist in the booklets for other conventions (SF, comics or otherwise) that could be used as a model? Can it be adapted or adapted, and enforced, for Comic-Con? As the leading event of the comics and pop culture world, Comic-Con should work to make everyone who attends feel comfortable and safe.


I like the idea these guys had of disabling comments but I don't know how to turn them off. Feel free to comment here but, really, if you want to talk about it, you should very much be doing that--on your blogs,
message boards, or with your friends. This is not okay.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

I had a guy come into the store earlier today with a few friends. He comes to the counter with a D&D Players Handbook, the latest adventure module , a set of "official" D&D dice and character sheets. I ring the purchase up and let him know that his total will be $79.54 to which he replies, "Oh, I didn't think you were going to charge that much."


I think to myself, "What he must have meant was, he didn't think that everything would total out to be that much". I look at the prices on the items and start to read them out to him when he gives me THAT look. Like, "I'm not an idiot. I know what the prices on the back say." He says, "No, I know how much it says they are but I can get this stuff online for, like, 50% cheaper. Are you going to match that?"

WTF?! I can feel my anger rising by the millisecond.

"Hmm." (Uh oh) "Well, you see, I charge the retail price because I'm a retail store!" (Yellow Alert! Yellow Alert!) "If you would like to get them cheaper, then I understand, (Incoming! Incoming! DIVE!! DIVE!! DIVE!!) but I am not an online business. I have actual overhead costs. Like rent. And buying fixtures." (Oh god, here we go.) "And I'm not some damn mega chain that can afford to purchase a GAZILLION of something (Code: RED! Code: RED! This is not a drill!!!) so that they can sell it cheaper than the the little guy because they bought it in "bulk". (For the love of God, stop!) No, I'm a small business, in every sense, and when I tell you that every PENNY that I make is precious to me, it isn't because I'm some Scrooge-fucking-McDuck, it's because I'm not making that much off of this stuff in the first place and therefore EVERY PENNY IS PRECIOUS! Now, if you would like, the cost is $79.54."

The guy looks at me like I'm going to start swinging an ax at him at any moment, which, had I an ax, might have. His friends start laughing. Then he starts laughing. I'm still a bit pissed but feel my anger subsiding. However, I'm pretty sure they guy is either A.) going to yell at me, B.) Punch me, C.) Both yell at me and punch me or D.) Leave.

Instead, he opts for E.)

"That's cool man. I was just trying to save some green but I can see your point. I'm going to get some Magic packs too."

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Both funny and really, really scary.

This is a story that made me laugh (Hackers getting hacked) and also made me really scared to do anything on the net, (One seminar included a way to remotely turn off pacemakers regulating people's heartbeats). It's just crazy scary what we take for granted as being safe.

Send... More... Humans!!!

I posted this over on The Comic Stop blog but figured I would post it here as well. I'm gonna be doing demos of both Humans!!! and Zombies!!! at the Lynnwood Comic Stop during our semi-monthly game night on the 23rd. I would also like to get a group together to play at the Redmond location sometime in the future, so if you are interested please let me know.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I'm back!

Well, after a lengthy time away from the fun and exciting future world called The Internet, I'm back. Glad to see that all the porn is still here.

I've resisted writing reviews of comics to this point for several reasons, not the least of which has been my inability to write on a regular basis. However, now that the shop is back up and running with access to the world wide web, I figure now is as good a time as any to start. Since new comics won't be out till Wednesday and Saturday night seems a bit late to review the comics from this week, my initial foray into comics review will consist of a trade that came out a week or so ago.

World of Warcraft Book One Hardcover
W: Walt Simonson
A: Ludo Lullabi
I: Sandra Hope
Publisher: Wildstorm/DC Comics

Disclosure time. I've found myself becoming quite the WoW whore. I enjoy playing the game quite a bit. I've collected all the action figures thus far and I really enjoy playing the card game. (That is, when I get a chance to play.) But the one thing I find myself most attracted to is the extended mythology that the game has. It has a rich history that rivals that of any major franchise. (I'm looking at you Star Wars) In spite of that, I have avoided reading the comics based on World of Warcraft. Why? Quite simply, the art.

I'm not a big fan of the cartoony, manga style made popular by Joe Madureira. Obviously WoW artist Ludo Lullabi is. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Joe Mad must be blushing with the praise that is being heaped his way by Monsieur Lullabi.

When the issues contained in this volume were originally published, they each had two covers. One with art by Blizzard Entertainment art director Samwise Didier, whose style is also reminiscent of the Joe Mad style and the other from Wildstorm's Editorial Director Jim Lee, whose art is so completely the opposite of the Madureira style. It's his style that I wish was being aped here. For me, a sense of realism would have made this a much more enjoyable book. Instead, the art is such a distraction that I am never able to immerse myself in the story being told. To be fair, it isn't all Ludo's fault. The script by Walt Simonson is fun in a summer action movie kinda way but when it's all said and done, I kept wishing for more,... I don't know, substance? LotR-like?

Don't get me wrong, I think this is a fun book, for both Warcraft fans and non Warcraft fans alike. In fact, if you've ever enjoyed a sword and sorcery movie or Conan in any form, you're gonna enjoy this book. But keep in mind that the story really does seem like something I would have made up when I was a kid.

"Ok, Sean, you be the really powerful magic guy but you can't use all your magic powers yet 'cause something bad happened to you in the past and you gotta go on a quest to fix things. And Suzanne, you be the super cool fighter girl!

"But I don't want to be a fighter girl. I want to be a magic person too!"

"Ok, fine. You can be a cool fighter that can use magic and I'll be the King! But I don't remember I'm the king 'cause I got am-sneeze-ya."

"What's that?"

"It's when you can't remember 'nothin cause you sneezed so hard that it made your head hurt too bad"

"Ooohhhhh. I hate when that happens."

"I want to be a bear."

"You can't be a bear Sean! We're not playin' Zoo. We're playin' wizards and sword fighters!"

"Then I don't wanna play."

"Ok, fine. Then you can be a magic guy that can turn into a bear. And we'll all be captured by a bad monster guy and we gotta escape so's I can get back to my kingdom because there's a fake guy there pretending to be me! And you guys gotta help me because we're gonna fight pirates and mermaids and big trolls and..."

"I wanna have antlers like a deer"

"But, but you just said you want's ta be a bear!! Bears don't have horns!"

"Oh, I want to be an elf. Their pretty."

"Fine Susanne! You can be a cool magic, fighter elf girl!"

"Oh! Oh! Oh! I wanna be an elf to!"

"Sean! You can't be a elf! You're a, a, a bear guy!!! And bears don't have antlers! And elfs don't got no antlers and , and..."

"I'm gonna be a elf with antlers who can turn into a bear."

"Oh, that's cool Sean!"

"Thanks Susanne"

"Arghhhhh! That isn't how your suppose to play you guys!"

"How do you know? You got's am-sneeze-ya! You don't even remember nothin!"

Sorry. Went on a little bit of a tangent there, didn't I? :)

Anyway, Simonson's script is ok but the team of characters he has assembled is a bit bland. A human, a night elf and a blood elf. Out of 10 races that are playable in the game, he choose to use the 3 least visually appealing or, in other words, the 3 most human looking. I would have liked to have seen a more diverse mix of main characters. Instead of the blood elf I would have liked to see a Tauren or Undead charcter. Or even gone outside of the playable characters and made one of them an Ogre or a Naga.

This may not be a fair criticism, since the World of Warcraft has tons of pre-established history. This may be a case of Blizzard dictating which story they wanted told. I'm not sure. In any case, it's a pretty standard story. Amnesiac warrior is captured by slavers, he befriends the other captives, escapes and then turns out to be the king. Certainly not bad, but not great either. I hate to harp on the art but I really do feel that with more appealing art, the story would have been elevated a bit. (On a side note, the art team for the past two issues of the monthly, which take place right after this collection, has been by a different art team and, in my opinion, better.)

So, why should you pick up the hardbound edition of World of Warcraft? Well, at $19.99, it is cheaper that buying the seven issues collected here by a whopping $.94! Yeah, I know. Big deal. It also contains the zero issue that was, to my knowledge, only available when you bought the WoW action figures and even then it was just a mini comic. This is the first time it's been printed in a standard comic size, so that pretty cool. I also like the the overall design on the hardcover. The dust jacket has a matte finish which gives the Samwise art on the cover a nice pastel look. The book itself has a faux leather look with gold embossing. (Is that even a real word?) To round it all out, there are some character sketches on the inside pages as well as a forward from the VP of Creative Development at Blizzard. All in all, a pretty decent package for the price.

If you've thought about picking up the World of Warcraft monthly or if you're just looking for a fun, light read to finish out the summer with, then World of Warcraft Book One Hardcover is the book to get.