Good Riddance to Final Exams

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Time for a well deserved break before diving back into drawing and animating.

Game On: Talking About Videogames with Kevin Pereira

Thursday, December 07, 2006

If this generation’s videogame console war will be known for anything, it will be the stream of ridiculous stories regarding both the Sony PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii. The PS3’s low supply and high demand has caused an unreal frenzy among potential buyers. A customer was hospitalized from an injury received while racing for a place in line inside a Milwaukee Wal-Mart. A Minnesota radio show host offered to give callers a free PS3 if they would give him their infant child for 24 hours and received more than a dozen callers not realizing it was a gag. On the other hand, the Wii has been responsible for numerous household mishaps due to the game controller accidentally slipping out of players’ hands. Just check out for a list of these incidents.

With the Microsoft Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii now all available on the market, a more in-depth comparison can finally be made between three of the industry’s top competing consoles. I was able to talk to Kevin Pereira, co-host of G4TV’s “Attack of the Show” and an expert on the videogame industry, shortly before the PS3 and Wii launched. We talked about which of the systems were worth their money and speculated about the possible winner of the console war.

“At the moment, it’s not justified to spend your money on the PS3,” Pereira said.

Even with its Blu-ray and song-ripping capabilities, the PS3 simply cannot be just looked at as a $600 investment in high-tech media. According to Pereira, some retailers are only selling units as part of a bundle with other games, at a price totaling well over $1000.

“Sony has been having problems producing units up until launch due to issues such as the Blu-ray laser,” Pereira said. “Microsoft has been on task with keeping 360 units available. So has Nintendo.”

So, not only is the PS3 the most expensive, but it’s also in the lowest supply with very little games to choose from. Pereira said that perhaps in six months to a year, the PS3 will be able to seriously compete with the other two consoles since games such as Metal Gear Solid 4 will have been released. Hopefully, by then, there will also be enough PS3 units to match consumer demand.

“Right now, Microsoft is at an advantage to win the console war, but it’s still too early to tell,” Pereira said.

Having both a 360 and a Wii in the household, I agree, for the most part, with Pereira’s views. What it all comes down to isn’t graphics, supply or price. What attracts people to a particular console is the quality of its games.

Microsoft, with a year’s head start over the competition has over a hundred titles to choose from. Nintendo has an innovative controller scheme whose novelty will eventually wear off, despite my roommate’s hyperbolic fanboy claim of already forgetting how to use buttons on a non-Wii controller. Fortunately, the Wii has some engrossing franchise titles like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Trauma Center: Second Opinion. Sony may have impressive hardware, but its problem is a lack of currently available titles, compounded by the near impossibility of finding a PS3 to play them. Many of the games that are on sale can be found in comparable quality for the readily available 360.

If you just can’t wait to get your hands on the newest gaming system, both the 360 and the Wii make great buys. Otherwise, wait for a price drop and/or more games to become available. In the meantime, you can focus on playing the thousands of games already out for the Xbox, Playstation 2, GameCube and other antiquated systems from yesteryear, and learn more about it all by checking out Pereira’s show on G4 TV.

Gotta Take a Dump

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Writing an eight page research paper sucks. Here's an art dump while I procrastinate.

The Mark Side of UCSB: Come On and Get Down With the Sickness

Sunday, November 19, 2006

It’s the most wonderful time of the year because flu season is upon us. Go find the nearest contagious mouth. Then you should either give that person a nice wet kiss or inhale the sweet air being exhaled from their infected lungs.

Flu season sickness is like the golden ticket of diseases. At best, the symptoms are merely coughing, sneezing and a runny nose. At its worst, flu season includes headaches and stomach pains that cause a person to be bedridden for a couple of days. But, it’s not the symptoms that make getting sick so special but rather the opportunities that they provide.

As if anybody needed another excuse to miss class, getting sick presents a legitimate reason to be absent. Even with midterms, sickness is a great tool. Keep prospective cheaters away from your answers with a nice, hoarse cough and refuse to wipe your nose on anything other than your forearms and hands. On the flipside, cheaters can use similar tactics to get a quick peek at some answers or notes. I’ve done both and they work perfectly well, especially since half the class is doing the same thing. If you aren’t down with cheating, then try asking for extensions on assignments. Most professors and teaching assistants are cool enough as it is and will let you slide for an additional week.

Has somebody been getting on your nerves lately? Then it’s time to get all Typhoid Mary on their ass. Take every chance possible to breathe, cough and sneeze on them or their belongings. Then laugh as they slowly progress down the infected route you went through mere days earlier. What are they going to do to you? Make you even sicker? If the Cold War has taught me anything, it’s that it all comes down to the pre-emptive strike. The sooner you get sick, the sooner you get better. You don’t want to get stuck trying to fight the more resistant mutant strains of germs found toward the tail end of flu season.

Use germ warfare as leverage to get your way. Tell people to shut off their god-awful music. Take full control over the thermostat and the room window. Prevent yourself from getting sexiled. Once you get better, you can dismiss your asshole behavior by attributing it to the sickness.

Sometimes it isn’t necessary to be so aggressive. People tend to feel sorry for the sick. They’ll be willing to get food and take notes for you. Last year, I suggested to my roommate that he sleep in the living room if he didn’t want to get sick. He agreed, and to my surprise he enjoyed sleeping in the living room so much that he stayed there. All of a sudden, I had a bedroom for two all to myself for the rest of the year! It works best when you’re at your frailest, so take it easy on the Theraflu before asking for a favor.

However, that leads to the best reason to get sick, which is the excuse to ingest yummy cold and flu “medicine.” Halls cough drops come in a variety of delectable flavors that put Jolly Ranchers to shame. Then there’s Vicks Nyquil, or as Lewis Black calls it, “the moonshine of medicine.” It’s already got a higher proof than malt liquor, but add a splash of bourbon or whiskey and it transforms into a magically potent trip to high heaven. You’ll certainly be the envy of many if you’re lucky enough to get prescription strength materials.

The best thing about colds and flus is that you’ll eventually get better, so make sure to take advantage of flu season. You can get sick any time of the year; but how many times is it considered acceptable to infect, bitch out or make others feel sympathetic to your condition? It’s like chicken pox, PMS and pregnancy all rolled into one. Get up. Come on. Get down with the sickness.

Daily Nexus Art Director Mark Batalla is a little Disturbed this week.

The Gang's All Here

Sunday, November 12, 2006

So this year's Hullabaloo comic consists of two rows. There's Louie's story and Honey's. Their storylines run parallel to each other but as the year goes on, there will be more interaction between the two. I estimate that I'll be able to start posting them online when the quarter ends since I won't be so busy then.

Posted by Batalla at 11:59 AM 0 comments  

My Best Friend's From Poland and Um, He Has a Beard

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Roland is the geek extraordinaire. Not quite as verbal or opinionated as Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons, but he probably knows just as much useless information. His dopey, non-threatening demeanor has been proven to melt hearts time and again.

Posted by Batalla at 2:17 PM 0 comments  

Should've Been a Cowboy

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Elizabeth is the youngest character in the group. Barely legal but overflowing when it comes to her conservative viewpoints. She talks big but despite all her rants, she still isn't worldly enough and is quite naive. On a side note, I really like the name Elizabeth because of its versatility. You can call the person E, Elle, Eliza, Liz, Lizzie, Liza, Beth, Betsy, Bess, Bessie, Libbie and Betty.

Posted by Batalla at 12:31 PM 0 comments  

The Divine Daze of Deathless Delight

Friday, November 03, 2006

Donovan is quite possibly the biggest failure at emoting and expressing himself. His art is nothing but bloody stick figures, his poetry full of grammar and spelling errors and he hasn't quite mastered the act of self-mutilation. He is neither a danger to himself or to others.

Posted by Batalla at 9:04 PM 0 comments  

The Mark Side of UCSB: Give In to Your Impulses, Get Wild on Campus

Friday, October 27, 2006

Like most students here, I’m finding it harder and harder to get some leisure time. Trying to juggle lecture, discussion, lab, midterms, papers and a job has gotten me on edge. Wait, no, that’s a lie. I only go to class if there’s an exam. I only do my assignments the night before they’re due. I only exert the smallest amount of effort to receive a passing grade. I’m actually having the time of my life. But I do recall how it felt like many years ago when I still gave a shit.

People stress out because they can’t fit anything fun into their hectic schedules. How can a person get plastered with friends if they’re too busy trying to figure out how to make a computer program solve the Towers of Hanoi? There’s a simple answer to that. Do something impulsive. With so much stuff to do in one day, the only time to have fun is in short spurts. Impulsive activities can last anywhere from a couple seconds to a couple minutes.

When’s the last time you’ve done something crazy and impulsive? I’m talking about when you’re stone sober. Think it’s fun unraveling the mystery of last night’s blackout? That doesn’t even compare to the thrill of doing something and realizing the possible consequences seconds after the fact.

The trick is learning to spot the most opportune moment to act. Is there a parked bike blocking your entrance to the bike path? Kick it out of the way. It was illegally parked in the first place. Is one of your roommates trapped by a faulty bedroom door? Kick that sucker down. Tell the landlord it’s their fault for having such a craptastic door. Unsightly tents on the Pardall corridor? Kick them down as well.

If there aren’t any people around, my personal favorite activity is lying down on my skateboard and going head first down the hill near the lagoon. If there are people walking on a path, I skate down and intentionally try to plow into a person from behind. Most people are aware enough of their surroundings to get out of the way. The unlucky few learn a valuable life lesson. I’ve rammed into plenty of girls from behind and surprisingly enough, they were the ones who were apologetic.

You don’t even have to be the one to initiate the impulsive activity. Just the other day one of my co-workers suggested a session of traying in Storke Plaza. That’s when you take two trays and use them as skates over a smooth, pebbly surface.

“Sounds like an activity that can potentially injure me. I’m down. Hell, let’s get a photographer to take pictures.”

After a couple successful rounds, we added a bike and an extension cord and upgraded to tray-skiing. After that we replaced the trays with a skateboard. Suffice to say, hilarity ensued as Assistant County Editor David Ferry found himself thrown twelve feet off his board and nearly cracked his head open on a staircase. Even though he almost died, we can still look at the photos of the event and laugh our asses off.

I’d be lying if I said being impulsive isn’t dangerous. But that’s not the point. You’ve got to learn to take pleasure from the little things in life, like accomplishing an act you haven’t properly thought out. The crazier, the better. If you can enjoy life in these short bursts, then imagine how much fun you can have when you aren’t busy worrying about schoolwork.

Daily Nexus Art Director Mark Batalla is going to be in a world of hurt the next time he tries to pull a stunt like this.

What's Up Austin, What's Up?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The ever curvacious and ever clueless Austin. She's been trying to be more edgy and assertive as of late. But anytime she's in close proximity to Tress and her genuinely bitchy attitude, Austin reverts back to her normal self.

Posted by Batalla at 9:16 AM 0 comments  

Five Knuckle Chuckles

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Chuckles is one of the new characters. Visually, he's a simple redesign of the Adler character I had. However, Chuckles fills a different type of role as a character. He's a mysoginistic metrosexual, making him the source for plenty of potentially offensive material.

Posted by Batalla at 2:32 PM 0 comments  

I'm a Bitch, I'm a Lover

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Tress is another returning character and quite possibly my favorite. She says what she wants. She does what she wants. Whenever she wants. One of these days I'm going to need to draw a nude model sheet of her so I can map out all of her piercings and tattoos.

Posted by Batalla at 12:08 PM 0 comments  

Louie Louie, Oh No

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Here's the other protagonist of Hullabaloo. Louie was a supporting character that I wanted to debut last year but didn't have the time to flesh out. Now he's got his own storyline running parallel with Honey.

Posted by Batalla at 3:42 PM 0 comments  

The Mark Side of UCSB: Read the Frosh Guide to Avoiding I.V. Fights

Isla Vista. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. At its best, it can be heaven on Earth. At its worst, it can literally kill you. It all depends on how quickly a person can adapt to this unforgiving environment. The learning curve for this microcosm of the human condition can be quite high. Unfortunately, most of us that have lived here long enough have grown too apathetic to care about the newbies. As an act of pity, but mostly so there’s less of you I have to deal with, I’ll offer some advice on how to get by.

I can’t possibly explain every single nuance about I.V., so I’ll point out several of the most obvious, yet continuously overlooked, sources of trouble to watch out for. The first one is an altered state of mind. I personally think that everyone has a right to eat, drink, smoke, snort or shoot up whatever the hell they want. What happens to them is their own responsibility. Problems only pop up when someone under the influence starts interacting with other people. Results run the gamut from hilarious bloopers to painful misunderstandings. Those anti-drug campaigns warn about the consequences of using, and show all the possible ways to say “no.” They’ve done everything except for the most important thing. They don’t tell you how to react around others when they are under the influence. Your best bet is to treat them like a force of nature. Simply keep a safe distance away and don’t let your guard down.

A second source of trouble is something I like to call the “summer school phenomenon.” Back in my teenage days in the Valley, I attended what was quite possibly the largest high school in the district. Due to its immense size, students from all over the county gravitated toward it. Fights would break out most frequently between people that didn’t know each other. Yet none of that compared to over the summer, when students from about a dozen high schools converged on the only one in the area open for the season.

In I.V., you replace high school students with the not necessarily more mature UCSB students, SBCC students, SB natives and the ever-changing roster of out-of-towners. By now, you should know how people from varying area codes differ from one another. If you don’t, then the Nexus’ “Golden State Blues” columnist C.K. Hickey hasn’t been doing his job. Considering the sudden spike in population density during the start of each school year, the chances one has of finding conflict in I.V. are quite high indeed. Just remember that you’re as foreign to them as they are to you. I’m also aware that the “summer school phenomenon” is a misnomer, so don’t bother pointing it out.

That brings me to the last source of trouble. There are plenty of wise-ass freshmen and transfers that think they can get away with anything. They erroneously believe that they know what they’re doing. Despite how intelligent paper and ink claim them to be, book smarts won’t do them as much good in I.V. as logic and wisdom. Book smarts certainly don’t correlate at all with the lifestyle of newfound freedom that students experience here. An engineer and a communications major are equally likely to act like morons if they aren’t fully aware of city laws, party fouls or even common decency. It’s ironic because the new guys have the hardest time adjusting here, and it’s mostly a result of their own actions. Adapting can be as easy as asking a question or watching from a distance. Since firsthand experience is still the most straightforward way to learn, it’s best to take things one step at a time. Don’t get too rowdy until you understand the way I.V. works.

It’s easy to consider I.V. a degenerate cesspool of morons and druggies. That’s a shame because there’s certainly more to this town than reveling in excess. I.V. could be safe and laidback if the residents allowed it to be. Anyone that lives here over the summer can attest to that. Until that happens, it’s best to learn the ropes and pass that knowledge on to someone else.

Daily Nexus columnist Mark Batalla once tried to form a band called The Summer School Phenomenon, but his dream dissipated after several fights broke out in his garage.

And It's Just Like Honey

Friday, October 20, 2006

I'll be posting colored pics of the Hullabaloo cast over the next couple days. I won't put up any colored comics until probably next quarter. I've got something special planned for them and I want to make sure that several are ready so I can update at a regular pace.

Posted by Batalla at 4:33 PM 0 comments  

The Mark Side of UCSB: A.S. Needs to Tell It As It Is

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Student government is a joke. Not because of its irresponsible actions, though I’m sure somebody can point out examples, but rather because of Associated Students’ lack of attempts to inform the student body on how their government works.

I’ve been going to this university for a long time and I still have only the most rudimentary knowledge of the way A.S. works. What most people think of when it comes to A.S. is brightly colored shirts, retardedly large campaign signs and a handful of events courtesy of the Program Board. It’s basically high school all over again. I’ve talked to enough students already to know.

Obviously, that’s not a fair representation of the hardworking people we voted for. They organize activities concerning social issues and deal with menial bureaucratic tasks, like funding student organizations, that no one else is willing to do. But how are students to know? Sure, A.S. has a functional website, an obese constitution and is frequently reported on in Nexus news articles, but honestly, who has time to keep up by reading each and every one of these sources?

The best way is to get information straight from the horse’s ass, or mouth. I doubt the average A.S. officer or student has enough time for a one-on-one conference, but the organization as a whole could do a better job of keeping students up-to-date. Hell, it could be as simple as writing a regular column for the Nexus opinions section. As much as I admire my coworkers’ reporting on Finance Board and Legislative Council, it’s still an outsider’s point of view. I would appreciate it even more if somebody that’s actually in A.S. writes in with his or her perspective.

Take a look at Mark Signa and his “Question Authority” column. Not everyone may respect the presence or opinion of the law in Isla Vista, but at least he tries to inform students on what they’re doing wrong and how to prevent trouble. A.S. needs to do something similar. People may question their integrity, but at least this way they can understand A.S. reasoning. Looking through the Nexus archives, I discovered that many years ago there were people in A.S. willing to dedicate time every week to submit a column. Would it be that hard to find someone willing to tell it as it is?

It seems like the only time A.S. writes in is when they either have an agenda they want people to vote for or they’re reacting to some article or staff editorial that somehow offends their precious ideals. Well, it’s almost time to vote on GOLD, and the Nexus staff delivered their editorial on Wednesday. I can almost feel the collective rage of A.S. as they prepare for this year’s opening salvo. At the same time, I know that once voting is over and their passion dies down, we’ll hear nary a peep from them once again.

I challenge A.S. to write in to the Nexus on a long-term basis. I want somebody to take that extra step to explain the various intricacies of our student government. Sure, it’s possible for anybody to look up this information online, but doesn’t A.S. also have the responsibility to keep its constituents informed? We, as students, need to be interested and knowledgeable about the issues and organizations that affect us.

If A.S. needs to find a reason to write in every week, I’m more than willing to fire them up. I’m calling all you A.S.-holes out. Know your role and shut your damn mouth about how the Nexus is misrepresenting your rudy-poo asses. OPP, SP, SAC, SUN, WB, UPN, CW, I don’t care what you clowns want to call yourselves. You might as well break a bottle over my head because those preschool posters and wooden signs don’t convey your intentions in any intelligible way. You’ve got 700 words to get your message across. If you fail something as simple as that, then you don’t deserve to be at this university. And if you’re not down with that, then I’ve got two words for you: raise awareness.

Daily Nexus art director Mark Batalla could really use an A.S. hug right now, or at the very least an A.S. finger snap of approval.

Picture Time

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Haven't posted art in a while. I'll try to alternate more between art and articles in the future.

The Mark Side of UCSB: A Bruised Ego Is Better Than a Bruised Knuckle

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ever find a person on campus or in I.V. who deserved a good, old punch to the face? I know I’ve met my fair share. They could be friends or co-workers, but most likely they’re strangers that you’ll never see again. Not knowing a person is what makes starting a fight so easy and, at the same time, so dangerous.

Not too long ago, I found a dog running around the lagoon without its owner in sight. After I caught the pooch, I called the number on his collar. While waiting for the owner to call back, I fed him, walked him and pretty much treated him like my own pet. When I finally got a call from the owner, I returned the dog.

As I was about to leave, one of the owner’s friends called me an asshole for keeping the dog on a leash. Was he joking around? Was he just drunk off his ass? How the hell was I supposed to tell if I don’t know the guy? Whatever the case, I haven’t felt like punching somebody in the face that strongly in a very long time. He was even leaning back on his chair. All I had to do was poke his sloped forehead and he’d fall over backwards. It felt like a “Keeping it Real” sketch on the “Chappelle’s Show.” I chose to ignore my sadistic tendencies and walked away. I didn’t know the guy and I wasn’t going to end one of my few altruistic streaks by starting a fight on somebody else’s property. I also considered the fact that I was outnumbered.

How about earlier this week with outspoken evangelist and human target, John Franklin? It wasn’t the first time he had come to campus with his ridiculous banner and it probably won’t be the last. This year some wise guy threw a smoothie at him. It might’ve seemed harmless at the time[[,]] but how much longer before someone gets really angry and actually punches Franklin in the face?

To some people, fights in Santa Barbara seem as random and explosive as a landmine. Yet, the actual violence isn’t what makes a fight so distressing. Sure, a person can potentially be injured to the point of brain damage or worse, but what’s truly sad about much of the violence is that it could’ve been prevented. Fights don’t just detonate out of nowhere. They result from ever-escalating tension between individuals. Everyone has a choice before a fight breaks out.

However, when strangers get into a conflict, it becomes increasingly harder to back down. If you’re personally involved, don’t wait for the other person. Simply walk away. If you see your friend in a similar situation, get them out of there. Since you don’t know the other person, you can’t tell how confrontational they’re willing to get. Some people like to get their buddies involved while others go straight for a weapon. Winning the fight isn’t any better either. You just might find yourself at the mercy of the law. Better to contemplate what could’ve been, rather than the consequences of your actions in a jail cell.

This isn’t some sappy pacifist message I’m dealing out. I could care less about being a bigger man or choosing the righteous path away from the dark side. I come from the San Fernando Valley. While I wouldn’t consider it the most ghetto of places to live, people nonetheless get shot or stabbed simply for looking at someone the wrong way or for hanging out at the wrong place. Fighting someone because they spilled beer on you, hit on your date or made fun of your clothes isn’t any better.

It doesn’t matter how hard the I.V. Foot Patrol cracks down on offenders with their “Fall Orientation” or how many more websites pop up discrediting the Isla Vista lifestyle. None of them provide any lasting solutions. The only way to deal with the violence is to take responsibility for it.

Daily Nexus Art Director Mark Batalla will leave your dog out to die in the wilderness the next time you lose your pooch, you ungrateful ass.

Hollywoodland Review

Sunday, October 08, 2006

For many, Superman and Hollywood both represent truth, justice and the American way. However both have proven themselves to be fallible over the years. Superman is nothing more than a fictional ideal that is just as fake as the Hollywood lifestyle commonly portrayed in the media.

Allen Coulter exposes both of these phenomena for what they are in his latest film, "Hollywoodland." The film opens with the investigation of George Reeves' (Ben Affleck) unexpected suicide. Reeves, best known for his role as television's Superman in the 1950s, also had a tumultuous personal life that led some to speculate that his murder was the result of foul play. Private investigator Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) is hired by Reeves' mother to re-examine the case.

The movie alternates between Simo's ongoing investigation and flashbacks of Reeves. The parallel plots are edited in such a way that they switch from one to the other whenever information is revealed. This type of flow keeps the audience engaged and builds momentum toward the film's conclusion.

The Reeves plot is slightly more interesting, with its portrayal of the actor's problematic career. Despite his success as Superman, Reeves could never separate himself from the character he played. One scene has Reeves face to face with an actor's worst nightmare - a fan that can't separate fiction from reality. In this case it is a kid holding a loaded gun, curious to see if the bullets will harmlessly bounce of Reeves like they do on television.

Unfortunately, Simo's side of the plot falters toward the end. Simo comes up with three possible scenarios. Reeves was either shot by himself, his fiancée or a hit man hired by MGM Vice President, Eddie Mannix. All three scenarios have some credibility, but none are conclusively stated as the true cause of Reeves' death. "Hollywoodland" also fails to add any new details to the half-century old mystery. There is nothing wrong with an ambiguous ending, but considering how the movie was marketed to question the credibility Reeves' suicide, some type of closure should be expected.

Instead, "Hollywoodland" is more a commentary on the seedy politics of the film industry than a mystery film. Simo's storyline reveals corruption in the Los Angeles Police Dept., sensationalist reporting in the newspapers and movie studios with ties to the mob. The Reeves flashbacks tell the mostly true Hollywood story of the actor's Catch-22 struggle against both obscurity and fame.

However, the plot isn't what makes "Hollywoodland" worth seeing. Both the cast and aesthetics go a long way to immerse the audience in the film's atmosphere. Costumes and set locations definitely have the 1950s Los Angeles feel to them. Seasoned actors like Diane Lane and Bob Hoskins provide great character performances alongside Brody and Affleck. The character relationships drive the film far more than action sequences or the aforementioned anticlimactic murder mystery.

Surprisingly, Affleck is the one that steals the scenes. Affleck may have been the bomb in "Phantoms," but he delivers one of his best performances to date. Maybe it is because the two actors share some common elements in their careers, but Affleck is able to effectively channel Reeves' charm and progressive fatalism.

Much like the real Superman and the real Hollywood, "Hollywoodland" has its flaws, and it probably is not the best movie out right now. But, with its strong acting and thought-provoking moments, it does signal the start of this year's Oscar season, and that's pretty powerful.

This is My Boomstick

Thursday, September 28, 2006

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those that don’t know who Bruce Campbell is and those that are part of his fan-base. The latter group, though lesser in number, more than make up for it with their fanaticism for Campbell’s work in the B-movie genre and various projects across a wide range of media. With his newest book, Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way, the two groups may start to even out.

Make Love is an autobiographical novel. It details the fictional events of what would happen if Campbell tries to transcend the B-movie genre by taking a bit role in Hollywood’s latest romantic comedy.

Despite a botched audition Campbell is hired by director Mike Nichols to play the humble sidekick, Foyl, alongside Richard Gere and Renee Zellweger. In an effort to impress the cast and crew, he decides to use method acting to get under the skin of his supporting role. As the story progresses, the lengths Campbell goes to research his character becomes more absurd and out of control. Campbell finds himself face to face with studio executives, the secret service, an international thief and other oddball characters.

In addition to Campbell’s engaging writing, the book also includes a number of hilarious graphics to supplement the story. While I won’t spoil the over-the-top outcome of Campbell’s excursion into Hollywood, Make Love does leave the reader with an interesting revelation. As Campbell puts it, “What Hollywood considers A-list blockbusters are really just pumped-up, cheeseball, Saturday matinee serials.” B-movies have always been the films willing to take the risks. Even though a good number of them lack the talent and quality of Hollywood productions, they represent the core vision and desire of filmmaking — pretty much what makes the movies so magical in the first place.

On Sept. 23, I stood in line to meet Bruce Campbell at Metro Entertainment on State Street. Other fans in line ranged from assistant Artsweek editors, Film and Media Studies advisors and even a vampire with actual fangs. I had a chance to talk to Bruce Campbell in person before he continued on his cross-country drive to promote Make Love.

“With a car, I can bring whatever drink I want with me. I can even carry my knife while I drive. Flying’s for fools,” Campbell said.

I was surprised to find out that Campbell had never met any of the celebrities included in his novel. The seemingly intimate portrayals are completely based on public perceptions of them through the media.

“What are the things you know about Richard Gere? He’s a Buddhist, right? So you’d think he’d be a pretty laid back kind of guy. I take that perception and put him with my character. Before you know it, he’s giving me a roundhouse kick to the face,” Campbell said.

Campbell hasn’t received any complaints from them either. Why would they, considering how Campbell’s character is the only one that gets portrayed in a negative light? Rather than attack specific individuals, the novel provides a satirical perspective on the mainstream film industry and its tendency to write off B-movies.

Through Make Love and his personal appearances, Campbell proves that he is as charismatic and witty, if not more so, than his onscreen roles. And with works ranging from film, television, books and comics, there are barely any mediums left that Campbell hasn’t tackled.

“What’s left for me to do? Golf? Forestry? You tell me,” Campbell said.

For anyone that still doesn’t know who Bruce Campbell is, they should take the necessary steps to acquaint themselves with him. Just make sure not to call him “Ash.”

Here's the Artsweek cover for that issue:

And here I am with the man himself:

Review of The Covenant

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

For far too long, onscreen representations of witches involved discolored skin, warts, Goth cosmetics and/or lesbian subtext. Director Renny Harlin, veteran of supernatural masterpieces such as “A Nightmare on Elm Street 4” and “Exorcist: The Beginning,” takes witchcraft back from these dubious depictions with “The Covenant.” In this film, the witches don’t receive their power through blasphemous pagan worship but instead inherit it from patriotic ancestors who helped found the New England colonies. These witches attend the prestigious Spenser Academy, excelling in social stature and in their involvement with the swim team. They support the American automobile industry by driving cars like the Hummer H3 and the 2006 Ford Mustang. Basically, the film’s witches are poster boys for wholesome American values.

Like any hit movie, everything worth seeing in the full-length film can be edited down into an explosive two-minute trailer. Caleb (Steven Strait) and his three friends are the Sons of Ipswich, descendants of witch families that centuries ago made a pact to only use their abilities, known as the “Power,” in secret. All goes well until the deviant Chase (Sebastian Stan) transfers to the academy. Mysterious circumstances give Caleb reason to believe that somebody is openly using the Power, and eventually Chase outs himself as a fifth descendant who is lusting for Caleb to give him more power. Luckily, the special effects are not done well enough to distract from the story.

“The Covenant” offers its own spin on the actual use of magic: Utilizing the Power shortens the user’s lifespan. The film also takes the allegory of magic addiction, previously seen on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” a step further by mixing the natural growing pains of puberty into the metaphor. The Sons of Ipswich gain some of their powers in their early teens and receive the rest at the mystical age of 18. Unlike the evil witches in other films, who use their powers to force lost campers to stand in the corner of a cabin, the foursome responsibly uses the potentially limitless possibilities of their magical abilities for harmless activities like lifting skirts and spiritually projecting into the girls’ shower room.

If all these ingredients don’t provide the film with enough substance to please the most discerning filmgoers, there’s also the film’s casting and writing. Make no mistake: These sons of witches are hotter than a burning stake. While the cast could understandably be mistaken for a catalog of male models, the members of the Sons of Ipswich have one gigantic feature that differentiates them from the typical non-acting statue — their sex appeal is further supplemented by the film’s witty dialogue. With verbal gems like Chase’s threat to make Caleb his “weeyotch,” or one of the gang yelling, “Harry Potter can kiss my ass” as he drives off a cliff, “The Covenant” is nothing if not a well-written film.

“The Covenant” is also based on a comic, which was based on an original screenplay. Contrary to popular belief, this does not mean the script was rejected in its first incarnation and is only now in theaters near you because the studio was desperate to capitalize on the latest comic-book-turned-movie trend. In fact, this actually just means that the film comes from the artistic creativity of a committee of people rather than the single vision of someone whose only qualification is that they actually know how to craft a film.

There’s no mistaking the level of quality of “The Covenant.” It puts a spell on anything around it, as shown by how the film beat out Oscar-worthy flicks like “Crank” and “The Protector” during its opening weekend. Watch this movie and feel the true power of “The Covenant” for yourself — just don’t blame Artsweek if the theater refuses to give your money back afterward.

The Mark Side of UCSB: Roommating Season Is On

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Now that you’re all settled in, what do you think of your new roommate — roommates for the unlucky triples? He seems cool, right? Doesn’t get in your face, has good hygiene, and seems to share some of the same interests. Who are you trying to fool? That relationship will change soon enough and probably over the most frivolous of circumstances.

For the freshmen, the questionnaire process that resulted in your pairing was a simple list of likes and dislikes. It’s the same type of method used by dating services, and how successful do you think those programs are? Did you even take the time to seriously think about each answer? All it takes to get the two of you at each other’s throats is a single instance of miscommunication. It could be as insignificant as eating leftover cheesy bread or as traumatic as walking in on a session of Double Vaginal Double Anal. In addition, these incidents tend to pile up over the course of the year, especially with the DVDA. It’s not uncommon for roommates to simply go there separate ways come June.

Think for a moment about the types of people that end up sharing close living spaces. There are couples, family members, prisoners and, of course, students. These people that end up living in the same room either have some type of intimate relationship or are forced to share due to efficiency measures. It’s completely understandable that you don’t enjoy living with a complete stranger. Even living with a friend doesn’t guarantee much. The two of you might enjoy hanging out, but that changes when you can’t decide who has the worse case of diarrhea to use the bathroom first.

I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a room with a gamut of ridiculous fucktards. I’ve lived with a fresh-off-the-boat Eastern European, a wannabe frat boy, a videogame addict and a jackass New Yorker that farted as frequent and loud as he bumped his favorite ’80s music.

It’s real easy to blame the other guy. It’s so easy that you’ll overlook the least likely person you’d expect to be a bad roommate: yourself. Well that can’t be possible. You’re perfect in every way, right? Surely, you’re roommate and their friends don’t talk about you behind your back.

There was only one time when I completely got along with a roommate. That was because we didn’t sleep in the same room. It started one night when I needed to stay up all night to write a paper and he wanted to stay up to play World of Warcraft. He realized it was more convenient to just stay in the living room due to his new proximity to the computer and kitchen. But that isn’t an applicable solution for many of you.

The one true answer to the roommate dilemma is simply to live without one. The most any of you can really hope for is to live in a single room. I lived in a studio two summers ago and I consider it one of the best summers in my life.

It might seem a bit early to think about roommate problems, but you’ve got nine long months ahead of you. You should be prepared to learn things no person should ever have to about a total stranger. Because if living by yourself isn’t a feasible option, then you’re going to have to be ready to retaliate when you find out exactly how many of your personal belongings can fit inside a two-inch hole.

Daily Nexus Art Director Mark Batalla prefers solitary confinement to rooming with a jackass New Yorker.

Opinion Cover

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I'll probably do a color version of this picture later this month. One of my co-workers felt my forehead for a temperature due to my recent streak of girly art where the figures are fully dressed and have modest bust sizes. Guess I'm gonna have to do something about that real soon...

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Austin 3:16

Monday, September 04, 2006

Making her return to Hullabaloo is Austin McQueen. Since all previous strips were done in grayscale, most people assumed Austin was blonde due to her limitless cheerfulness and naivete. Nope, I've always visualized her as a redhead. Plus it goes with the noodle noggin nickname I've associated with her character. I still haven't finalized her design, but I'm going for the Shakira look this year.

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Exploring UCSB

Friday, September 01, 2006

Finally, here's the cover to the orientation issue. Since the issue's theme was children's programming, I chose to do a grown up Dora the Explorer. Also included Blue and David the gnome and his wife. Coloring in CMYK is different than RGB. Since I couldn't get the hues I wanted, I had to rely more on color contrasts. At first I wanted to pack it with more characters, but I'm starting to like the open and simple background.

Welcome to Paradise

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Jennifer Paradise is the Nexus's new sex columnist. This is the art for her column on the do's and don'ts of university sex. I honestly have no idea why I decided to have one of the guys wear a Santa Barbara City College hoody while the other is wearing a Dethklok shirt. I guess it's my way of taking a stab at the city college people living in my area. But then again I'm also a fan of Metalocalypse on Adult Swim so it balances out.

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Freshmen Orientation

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I wrote and drew the art for this year's Daily Nexus Orientation issue opinion column:

See if you can find what’s wrong with this picture: Twenty people are crowded inside a small, black-lit room with Paris Hilton’s newest single bumping on an iBook’s meager speaker system. On the bed, a guy with a “Jesus is my homeboy” T-shirt puts his arm around an ambiguously legal-looking girl he just met. He hands her a cup of beer, which she declines. He asks the girl why she doesn’t want to drink it. She complains that she doesn’t like the taste of alcohol and instead downs several bottles of wine coolers. She then proceeds to suck his… uh, face. Oh yeah, they’re also cousins.

I’ll be honest, there’s plenty wrong with what I just described, but since we’re all familiar with the countless million-dollar advertisements advocating responsible drinking, I’d like to focus on the bizarre concept of associating flavor with alcohol.

It’s understandable for a person to be concerned about drunk driving, alcohol poisoning or losing their inhibitions. These types of people are called designated drivers. What bothers me are the people at a party complaining about the flavor of their drinks. What exactly are they going for?

Alcohol isn’t supposed to taste good and you should appreciate that. The sting in your mouth is what keeps you from unwittingly drinking yourself to death. It’s also a good rule of thumb to know exactly what you’re drinking, right? Well, a can of beer is still a can of beer and a shot of tequila is still more than most people can handle.

A screwdriver, on the other hand, is orange juice with uncertain amounts of vodka. Since you can no longer taste the alcohol, you can all of a sudden drink more vodka than you normally would straight.

Hard liquor should be taken in shots. If that’s still too strong, take a chaser. The point is that you’re drinking the alcohol for what it is and not because it’s hidden within juice.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t demand quality in your drink. Take beer for instance. The typical beer you’ll get at a party is something cheap, like Natural Ice from a keg. Sure, chugging or taking a beer bong of the stuff will give you a decent buzz, but you’ll probably think all beer tastes the same as that swill.

If you want good beer, go buy your own. Getting the same stuff in a can will taste better than from any party keg, while the bottled version tastes even better than their can-terpart. Interestingly enough, the same beer poured at a bar — which comes from a keg — tastes better than from the bottle. Go figure. I recommend any of the fine beers brewed by Firestone Walker Brewing Company.

So what happens if you stumble across a gem like Southern Comfort or Patrón Tequila? What keeps a person from drinking an entire bottle of the stuff? Here’s where economics saves the day. High-quality liquor tends to be expensive. You probably will choose to drink it in moderation, if only to make it last longer. Buying something cheap will most likely end with a hangover. It’s as if some overprotective uncle were looking out for you.

Flavor is only an understandable concern for the rookies and lightweights. Remember why you’re drinking alcohol in the first place. You drink to temporarily gain some type of abstract trait, such as the courage to tell your cousin she’s hot or the ignorance to help forget that you just told your cousin that she’s hot.

Instead of worrying about the way alcohol tastes at a party, ask the important questions: What’s in this drink? Whose bed are you on? And what will Uncle James do if he learns of your dark-side activities?

Daily Nexus Art Director Mark Batalla has watched one too many French films about sexually frustrated cousins.

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Summer Daze

Sunday, August 20, 2006

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Tenjo Tenge

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Last year I drew this picture using the same composition as a Tenjo Tenge picture by Oh Great! I didn't trace the figure so I was really surprised at how close I was able to get to the original body shape just by looking at the original. I changed the proportions a little bit but for the most part they're pretty similar. The superimposition even seems like a see-through view underneath the clothing.

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New Blood

Here's Elizabeth, one of the new characters I'm putting in Hullabaloo. I'm not completely done with her design yet. I'm thinking of making her hair a really dark brunette. What I do know is that she'll be rooming with Honey, Austin, and Tress. Elizabeth is several years younger than the others and hopefully it will be apparent during dialogue. I'm currently working on some redesigns for the three returning characters. I'll put them up soon.

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Finished Product

Friday, August 11, 2006

Here are the next steps in the process. I've gotten rusty with using pens and the Wacom tablet after months of not drawing. It felt good to finally finish. I stretched this 8.5 x 11 drawing out over three days but I'm hoping that once I get back in the rythm I'll be able to do similar drawings in less time.

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Work in Progress

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Here's a project I'm working on for somebody's website. I'll put up the inks and the color versions when I'm done.

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Back to Business

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Alright, it's been a while since I updated. After reading Drew Mackie's post on Nexite bloggers, I figure it's time to do this blog justice again. It's not like I'm overloaded with schoolwork now. With all the inspiration I got from the San Diego Comic Convention and John K's appearance at San Francisco, I now have plenty of material and projects I can post in the future. I can hardly wait. Oh yeah, Hullabaloo shall return with a new innovative format.

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