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.