Hullabaloo: Popping Out Update 2

Monday, April 30, 2007

Here are some designs by Simon Estrada. So far things are on schedule. Film is being ordered today and shooting is planned for this upcoming weekend.

Posted by Batalla at 2:07 PM 0 comments  

The Mark Side of UCSB: Game With a Buddy

Friday, April 27, 2007

Last Wednesday, Microsoft held a Halo 2 tournament at Corwin Pavilion. As a self-hating nerd, I’m inclined to ridicule all those players that attended. But rather than make fun of all the gamers, I want to praise the sponsors of the tournament. I welcome events that encourage gamers to get out of their rooms and into the outside world, even if it’s just a short walk to somewhere else on campus.

Similar to Jack Yi’s argument that electronic commerce is degenerating human contact, so too has the continued rise of online gaming. While there is nothing inherently wrong with playing videogames, it’s when gamers start to value the virtual world over the real one that problems arise.

Back when I lived in the dorms, my friends and I would set up weekly games in the lounges. Everyone would lug over their televisions and consoles and we’d get some eight-player Halo games going for hours on end. Other times we’d take advantage of the residence halls’ LAN connections and play computer games like Warcraft III and Counter-Strike. Every once in a while, someone would attempt to organize tournaments, inviting everyone on campus. All these activities were great because everyone would be interacting with each other during and between play sessions. We’d heckle, compare strategies and congratulate each other for a good game.

Online gaming services like Xbox LIVE changed that. Sure, online play existed years prior, but that was the distinction between playing on a computer and on a game system. The ability to play console games online also brought with it ranking systems and high-score boards. People are no longer playing for fun, but to prove they are higher up on a number scale. That encourages cheap tactics and quitting games mid-play to maintain a win-loss record. When you play with friends, you aren’t too focused on winning. They’re people you’ve played with countless times and so you’re likely familiar with their playing style. To keep game play from being repetitive, it becomes necessary to start experimenting with some unorthodox tactics. This in turn leads to even more hours of surprisingly fresh experiences.

One of the ironic benefits of online gaming is that it allows you to potentially play with anyone in the world. Because of that capability, my friends and I got lazy. Instead of meeting up at somebody’s place, we’d just call them up and play each other online from our respective rooms. It sure didn’t feel the same. You might as well be challenging an incredibly smart - or, in many cases, idiotic - virtual opponent.

The ultimate killer of a social life for an online gamer is the Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. There’s no way to be a casual MMORPG player. These games, like World of Warcraft (WoW), are designed to eat away at your life. They do it through the financial investment of the subscription fee, time consuming missions and the pseudo-community feel of playing with thousands of players in a single virtual environment. Don’t even get me started on the fucked up relationships that spawn between players.

There are some weird anomalies. My roommate Torrin at one point was one of the top 200 Warcraft III players on the West Coast. For that and other reasons, he was one of the first to get to play WoW and he’s been playing the game ever since. He would later go on to single-handedly destroy a guild of several dozen players in the game, even managing to make a grown Australian woman cry from halfway across the globe. Check out for evidence of her mental breakdown. It’s frightening, sad and funny at the same time. I can’t decide whether I should congratulate him for his accomplishments or tell him to get a life.

There’s no reason to shut yourself off if you want to get your game on. Take matters into your own hands. You don’t need Microsoft to set up a gaming event. If you’re going to game, invite people over or play at a friend’s place. Friends don’t let friends frag alone.

Daily Nexus columnist Mark Batalla assures you that the vibrating in your hands is from all the needler shots to the back.

Hullabaloo: Popping Out Update 1

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Here are some rough model sheets I made for the characters. I'm actually basing the designs from last year rather than this year because they'll animate easier.

Posted by Batalla at 9:54 AM 0 comments  

He Said, She Said: "Scrubs" vs "Grey's Anatomy" Part 2

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

“Grey’s” Tugs at Viewers’ Hearts Like “Scrubs” Never Could
by Nicki Arnold

I plan my entire week around this single hour. It’s the only time that my five roommates and I are in the same room together. It’s the only show during which I let myself cry - which is saying a lot, because I’m emotionally dead inside. Of course, it is “Grey’s Anatomy.”

It’s not the first doctor show, but I’m glad for that. You’ve gotta have a few crappy drafts before you finally get it right, so I actually thank “ER” for being the first (oh, “Scrubs” fans, you’re so sad that your little show isn’t as original as you claim, aren’t you?).

What keeps me and, oh, like 30 million other people coming back is those characters and their oh-so-complicated lives. Does Derek love Meredith enough to give it all up? How much longer can Addison and Alex ignore that sexual tension that leaves me aching for my own steamy kiss? Izzy and George - just friends or something more? The show always leaves me damning the time until next Thursday.

“Scrubs” just doesn’t reel me in like that. It’s the kind of show that you watch when it’s on and you’re procrastinating. Sure, I’ve been known to enjoy a “Scrubs” episode now and again. Once, I thought I felt tears brimming at the edge of my eyes … oh, actually, I was on my period. Dang hormones, making me believe an inane comedy like “Scrubs” could make me emotional.

“Grey’s” has it all: a hot cast (McSteamy, you dick, those eyes make me forgive you every time), a soundtrack that makes you wanna waste time chasing cars around your head and a storyline with more twists than Lombard Street. What does “Scrubs” have but a dumb janitor and a dead stuffed dog?

And, Wikipedia tells me that “Grey’s” is Bill Clinton’s favorite show. Really, who can argue with Bill?

Daily Nexus assistant opinion editor Nicki Arnold wants to lay with McDreamy and just forget the world.

He Said, She Said: "Scrubs" vs "Grey's Anatomy" Part 1

“Scrubs” Is Twice as Good as “Grey’s” in Half the Time
by Mark Batalla

Dr. John “J.D.” Dorian, the main character of “Scrubs”, once said in reference to an inferior medically themed show about the lives of interns becoming full-fledged doctors, “Oh, I do love that show. It’s like they’ve been watching our lives and then just put it on TV.”

He’s right. “Grey’s Anatomy” is nothing more than a rip-off with a heavy dose of melodramatic chick flair and eye candy.

“Grey’s” is the ratings powerhouse on Thursday nights, but since when do ratings determine the quality of a show? “Arrested Development” and “Futurama” never got the ratings they deserved despite their well-written content. Syndication is a better judge of a quality and popularity. “Scrubs” airs on three different channels multiple times a day in the Santa Barbara area. All “Grey’s” has is a plan for a spin-off. That’s just proof of the show’s bloated cast and inability to properly craft enticing stories within its hour-long time slot.

“Scrubs” may be half as long as “Grey’s,” but it accomplishes more than twice as much in its allotted time. Most “Scrubs” episodes are accessible stand-alone stories that can be watched out of order. The characters are simple archetypes, but they’re given memorable personalities and lines. “Grey’s,” on the other hand, is composed entirely of generic troubled characters with too many interconnected relationships to keep track of at any given moment due to its soap operatic nature.

Don’t be fooled by “Scrub’s” classification as a comedy. Instead of simply piling on the emotion, it cleverly juxtaposes humor with the drama. The absurd comedic moments ironically ground the cast’s acting. It enhances the weight of their reactions to serious situations without looking like scene-stealers.

There is no comparison. Pacing, character development, writing, acting, soundtrack and even first-person narrative. “Scrubs” wipes the floor with “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Daily Nexus art director Mark Batalla can’t do this all on his own, he’s no Superman.

Cover Art

Monday, April 23, 2007

Posted by Batalla at 12:01 PM 2 comments  

the Mark Side of UCSB: Crash Events to Mooch on Free Food

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I was skating to the office one Saturday afternoon when I noticed an event going on in Storke Plaza. I noticed it not because of the humongous outdoor tent, or the dense throng of attendees, but rather because of the delectable wafting smell of still warm catered food. I was down to my last few dollars in my bank account and wasn’t about to spend it on some overpriced burrito. I certainly wasn’t in the mood to eat more instant noodles. That’s when I, or at least my stomach, decided to crash my very first private event.

I scouted the party and saw all the telltale signs of an event just begging to be crashed: numerous access points, wandering guests, semi-formal wear and the most importantly, no nametags. I skated back to my place, put on some decent looking clothes and walked back to Storke Plaza. I didn’t bother to find out what the event was for. It could’ve been charity, a reunion, birthday party or a group showcasing the campus. I was there for food and food alone. I grabbed some coleslaw, mashed potatoes, some slices of ham and a couple sugar cookies. I followed behind a wandering couple before breaking away and heading to the office. Luckily I didn’t have to travel far between each destination.

My friend, Ryan, has more balls than I do. He’s managed to crash private parties for actor John Cleese and musicians Sarah Chang and Ashley Wass. These events are more heavily monitored than the outdoor gatherings I’ve managed to sneak into. There’s usually just one entry point, a guest list, formal attire and the bane of most crashers, a doorperson handing out nametags. Ryan got into the Cleese party by pretending to know another guest. He got into the other party by entering with a group of people that included Sarah Chang and Ashley Wass. Unfortunately, Ryan was asked to leave both parties mere minutes after entering by security, who with whom he had come. He left politely without making a scene.

I agree with Ryan’s actions after getting caught. Getting inside isn’t the problem; it’s keeping from getting kicked out. Crashing an event doesn’t hurt anyone; however, you are taking advantage of the unaware hosts, so at the very least you should have some tact and courtesy. I only go for the free food, but I’m sure there are more ways to get some fun out of it. I’ll leave that to your imagination.

UCSB hosts plenty of events throughout the year. There are even several that are open to the public but not necessarily advertised. The music program has several recitals throughout the year that culminate with an enticing table of hors d’oeuvres outside Geiringer Hall in the Music Building. There are also art exhibitions in the College of Creative Studies and the Art Building. The exhibitions in the Art Building are usually on Wednesday afternoons and even have wine available. Academic departments also host get togethers so the faculty and students can get to know each other better. Expect plenty of pizza from this type of event.

The easiest way to find out about an event is by keeping a close eye on Facebook events and the campus calendar. Even better would be to get in the habit of wandering campus on weekends, when these events usually take place. If you plan on crashing something more posh, make sure to keep a set of formal clothes at the ready. While you’re at it, get a marker and some index cards for a makeshift nametag. It certainly doesn’t hurt to get to know people on the inside as well. Face your back to security and look for a bathroom if you plan on spending a lot of time there. Stick nearby groups of people and keep up the composure that you belong there.

These social gatherings are meant to bring people together. As long as you don’t detract from that or stir up trouble, feel free to crash as many events as you want. My name is Mark Batalla and I’ll be seeing you at the next meeting.

Daily Nexus Art Director Mark Batalla never breaks rule #76 when crashing.

Hullabaloo: Popping Out

Ever since working on The Titan Sting I've had the animation bug in me. As much as I enjoyed helping make that movie, I still want to get my own projects out there. So on a whim I decided I would be submitting something to UCSB's Reel Loud Film Festival. After a couple brainstorming sessions with J, producer of Titan Sting and my upcoming film, I chose to stick with what I knew best. In this case it was the characters from my Hullabaloo comic. This way I won't be wasting time designing new characters and motivations for them. The deadline for the film is May 11 so I've got plenty of work ahead of me. I'm going to scrounge up a small crew and hopefully with their help we can finish this baby. I'll post updates here when I get the chance. Wish me luck!

Posted by Batalla at 10:50 AM 0 comments  

The Mark Side of UCSB: Columnist Reviews Bathrooms. Students Have Their Pick of the Litter

Monday, April 16, 2007

Not wanting or even needing to thrash Associated Students any further this week, I was without an idea for a column. So I went to the one place where I usually get most of my bright ideas - the bathroom. As I sat there on the typical low-grade toilet you find in every Isla Vista household, I realized that the answer was right under my nose.

Most people have plenty of gaps in their schedules and live close enough that they can save their bathroom trip for their residence. But sometimes you drink too much Naked Juice, Red Bull or beer between classes that a trip to the restroom is unavoidable. This entire week I’ve gone to many of the buildings on campus to see what they had to offer in terms of tile and porcelain. The range of construction and overall functionality between the restrooms pleasantly surprised me. You’ll have to forgive me if I only talk about the male restrooms.

Going for a quick wiz may not seem to require that much thought, but many of us guys require certain conditions like at least a separation of one urinal between each user. In this case it’s best to stay away from the restroom in the Arts Building. This restroom is constructed in such a way that the first thing a person sees upon entering is a side view of the urinals. The door also has an irritating tendency to remain open. With no wall separating the sinks and urinals, I suggest using the stalls unless you want passersby to get a glimpse of you draining the lizard. The Music Building on the other hand is better designed with its urinals perpendicularly arranged in relation to the entrance. However, the downside comes from the urinals themselves, which look like haphazard toilets. They are set relatively higher and filled with more water, making splash back more likely to occur.

Sometimes eating from Panda Express may cause the need for a doozy of a two-zie and there’s not enough time to get back to your home bathroom. For this reason I will forever remain envious of the campus toilets. Their industrial strength flushes and wide seating blow every other toilet out of the water. If I ever have enough money, I’m going to make sure to install one of those babies in my house.

Location isn’t as much of a problem with stalls since they are the same in every restroom I’ve been to. I suggest staying away from ones in Girvetz for a number of reasons. These restrooms get a lot of traffic from the classrooms within the building and from around the Arbor. At any given moment you’ll come across students, professors and random campus visitors. For some reason the glory holes in the stalls haven’t been repaired. It has also been used as a set location for several student films due to its roomy and well-lit design. There’s no reason to use Girvetz unless it’s an emergency.

I applaud the maintenance staff for doing a better job cleaning up graffiti than in previous years. However, I do miss the days of reading the pretentious preaching on the stalls and the various responses to them. I can simulate the experience by bringing my laptop into the stall and reading the UCSB LiveJournal community. But as much as I enjoy seeing Livejournal user “excom” tear the other posters a new one, it just doesn’t feel the same. Past graffiti classics include the “grout” jokes written on the Davidson Library bathrooms’ grout such as “The Grouter Limits,” “Grout Expectations” and “Oscar the Grout.” Additionally, I.V, Theater’s bathroom featured this amazing dialogue between two artists:

Artist #1: “I fucked your mom last night.”

Artist #2: “Dad, you’re drunk. Please go home.”

There are general trends that can be gleaned from my research. The fancier restrooms with waterless urinals and automated towel dispensers can be found in the newer buildings as well as around the UCen and Multicultural Center. If you want privacy, try using facilities on the higher floors of a building. Although fewer people use the restrooms while class is in session, the chances of coming across people having sex in a stall at this time are much higher, so be careful. Otherwise, I hope you enjoyed this shit.

Daily Nexus art director Mark Batalla takes his potty breaks seriously.

Quick Drawings

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Posted by Batalla at 4:14 PM 0 comments  

The Mark Side of UCSB: UCSB Environment Switches at Night

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I once saw an episode of the Adventures of Pete & Pete that changed the way I looked at the world. Little Pete, frustrated at going to bed at 9 o’clock, gathered a bunch of friends together and attempted to break the world record for going the most days without sleep. All the fantastic occurrences the children witnessed after the sun went down inspired my curiosity and eventual love of the night. Ever since coming to this university, I haven’t found a better time to be nocturnal. With the more pleasant weather of Spring Quarter, staying up and out at night becomes all the more irresistible. So let me take a moment to tell you about something I’d like to call “the dark side of UCSB.”

I’m not talking about the parties or barhopping going on around Isla Vista and the surrounding area of Santa Barbara. I’m talking about an activity as simple as loitering around campus after dark. Once the sun goes down, the campus transforms into a completely different environment. Raccoons, skunks and other animals replace the spaces previously occupied by students. I’ve actually managed to catch stray dogs on two separate occasions while strolling past the lagoon. With only animals and the occasional wandering night crawler, it feels like the entire campus is at your disposal.

I can think of many interesting sights I happened to witness during my time here. Freshman year I sat at the edge of campus point with my date and we watched the lunar eclipse along with other curious stargazers. Sophomore year I stood with my friends on the beach near Manzanita Village and watched a spectacular offshore lightning storm silhouette the oilrigs on the horizon. While these events don’t happen every night, they’re certainly more interesting and less of an eyesore than the gauntlet of student groups I go by past the Arbor.

Speaking of eyesores, if you happen to be wandering campus this Sunday around midnight, you might bear witness to the annual construction of Associated Students election signs. Though they seem like nothing more than beer pong tables garishly painted over with bright colors and cheesy catch phrases, these makeshift structures accurately represent the facade that is student government. They signal the beginning of a paper storm that coats every free space on the walls of the university and I.V. Apparently this method of campaigning is preferred over reaching out to the constituents.

Unfortunately, there are worse things I stumble upon at night. I inevitably come into contact with students journeying back and forth from the residence halls to I.V. I was skating past the UCen during finals week when I noticed a strangely shaped sign next to the flower stand. I got off my board and realized that it was a student hunched over the ground. She didn’t respond to my shouts so I walked over to see if she was okay. She passed out on the floor just as I noticed the vomit hidden by the hair covering her face. Luckily, a couple Community Service Officers happened to ride by and they were able to help the girl out.

Still, witnessing the dark side of UCSB brings a better understanding of the campus. The eternal flame isn’t exactly eternally lit, the garbage trucks furiously take full advantage of the open driving area and a locked out student drunk off his ass will punch through a glass door to get back inside the dorm. I encourage anyone to give this nocturnal perspective a shot. You’ll encounter nuances about the university that you’d otherwise never see in the daytime.

Daily Nexus columnist Mark Batalla is our UCSB Batman, roaming the campus at night.

Death By Director

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Like any horror character worth its weight in kills, a successful horror film will keep coming back for more. Martin Weisz gives his directorial take on the radioactive terror started by Wes Craven and remade by Alex Aja. This film is a sequel to last year’s film rather than a remake of the original “Hills Have Eyes 2.” Aside from that initial confusion, the film works as a stand-alone story. It takes place some time after the first film in the same top-secret location in the desert that serves as the home to a family of killer mutants.

The opening sequence pretty much sets the tone for the entire movie. It’s brutally explicit and to the point. It also emphasizes the mutants’ habit of slaughtering all trespassers except for women, which they use for breeding. Once the main characters arrive and the casualties begin, the film doesn’t let up. Almost no breaks are given between the scares and deaths. It’s certainly a change of pace from the recent trend of psychological thrillers and Japanese horror remakes.

As far as sequels go, “Hills 2” is reminiscent of “Aliens.” Instead of the previous movie’s familial unit, the main characters Napoleon (Michael McMillian) and Amber (Jessica Stroup) are members of a rookie National Guard squad. Yet that doesn’t count much against a technologically primitive threat in its home territory. Everything that could possibly go wrong during the excursion into the desert does. Communication equipment doesn’t work, weapons go missing, and the hostile environment hampers the squad’s efforts. All while a family of killer mutants picks off the soldiers one by one.

What works about the film is the variety of deaths and scares. The writers, father-son team Wes and Jonathan Craven, made sure to include as many different scenarios as possible. Viewers with fear of heights, gore, scat and of course, mutant freaks will find plenty of opportunities to cringe or jump out of their seats. The well-done make-up job for the grotesque mutants alone is enough to elicit fear from any viewer. Their methods of killing match the gruesome nature of their appearances. When the protagonists finally have a chance to enact revenge on the mutants, it feels all the more gratifying.

“Hills 2” takes a very straightforward approach to horror. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that method, Weisz doesn’t quite manage to pull it off effectively. The set ups for a scare are painfully obvious and further watered down by the poor acting. The film instead relies on gore to shock the viewer. But with the amount of violent killing between the soldiers and mutants, the effect rapidly diminishes. After a while, “Hills 2” seems more like a typical action movie.

The film is also an anomaly in Wes Craven’s “Hills” franchise. Craven’s other franchise movies, like the “Scream” trilogy, was driven by its postmodern approach to the horror genre, while the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series was defined primarily by the charisma of its central villain. The “Hills” franchise differentiates itself by placing a helpless familial unit against a danger created by its own government. The family has to become as brutal as the monsters in order to survive. This theme doesn’t resonate well in Weisz’s film. As trained soldiers, the characters should be able to handle themselves in this situation. The squad’s failure to operate effectively makes it look even more inept, and disrupts the film’s attempts at appearing somewhat realistic.

“Hills 2” clocks in at less than two hours and, it ultimately serves as a cheap throwaway thrill. Hopefully this film puts an end to the direction the franchise is going. For better or worse, more remakes of Wes Craven’s films are on the way - hopefully they will start getting better, and not worse.

Craving Some Craven

Shortly before the release of “The Hills Have Eyes 2,” Artsweek, along with several other publications, was invited to participate in a press conference call with the film’s writers, Wes Craven and his son, Jonathan. The following questions, compiled from the phone conference, provide insight to the Cravens’ approach to horror and why Wes Craven and his son have been a mainstay in the genre for over thirty years.

What was it like collaborating on a project?
Jonathan Craven: It was great. We didn’t have a lot of time so we just sat in a room for a month with the walls covered in blood.
Wes Craven: Mostly his blood.
Jonathan: We got along great. If we laughed, we knew it was good. That’s gallows humor.
Wes: Jonathan became a father about two years ago. So you had two writers and two fathers and we were able to connect on that level as well.

Since the film’s characters are soldiers, do you see “The Hills Have Eyes 2” as a metaphor for today’s situation in the Middle East?
Wes: There is a parallel we found intriguing. None of us wanted to make a political film but seeing American kids in a situation where they’re in danger certainly resonates.
Jonathan: We didn’t set out to make it about politics but you can’t avoid the parallels of horror movies with the horrors found in the newspaper.

Is the film a sequel to the original or the remake?
Wes: It’s a sequel to the 2006 film. Alex Aja set the precedent for the back story and we just built off it.

With this film, are you shooting for the same type of audience that went to see your other recent films like “Scream” and “Feast?” Is this movie different?
Wes: I assume anyone that likes horror will like these films. “Hills 2” is different because it’s not about home life. It’s about squad life in the military. We’re still going for the same type of horror and terror.
Jonathan: It’s brutal and direct. People that like straight up horror will like “Hills.”

As writers on this film, how involved were you in picking the director?
Wes: We were involved, but it was mostly the choice of the producer.

How do you feel about the film’s release under Fox Atomic?
Jonathan: Great. They’re a genre division. My experience has been amazing.
Wes: They’ve got a talent for promotion. The trailer they came up with was great. As opposed to a studio that doesn’t know what it’s doing, I feel these guys are fans of the genre.

What’s your favorite horror film?
Wes: I like films like “The Exorcist,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Hostel.” What I like is something I’ve never seen before and the feeling that the director is a dangerous person.

What’s your opinion on modern horror films made after 2000?
Wes: I think we’ve gotten past the PG-13 Japanese remakes when the studios were playing it safe. The right wing had just come into government. Now we’re back to hard hitting, bare knuckled films. It’s a result of the situation in society, the adventure of the U.S. getting into trouble. The situation right now is chaotic, out of control, and painful. It’s like back in the sixties and seventies. Those times inspired films like “Night of the Living Dead.” Now the horror is in your face. You can go onto the Internet and watch a video of a guy getting his head sawed off for real.

What was your experience like shooting in Morocco?
Jonathan: We had a seven-week shooting schedule. Half was on location in the Moroccan hills. They were jaggy and full of cobras and scorpions. We actually had a guy who would go out an hour early and pluck all the snakes and scorpions and put them in a cardboard box 50 feet away from the set. It was a tough shoot and not a lot of time. We had people from 23 different countries helping out. It was fun because it felt like an adventure.

What made you come back for the sequel?
Wes: Great audience reception from the first film. From there I got to thinking about what would happen afterwards? How would the government get involved? How could things go from there?

Is evil hereditary?
Jonathan: Yes.
Wes: This goes back a long line in our family. There was Jack the Ripper, Johan the Slasher, and Gerald the Gutter.

When is the new “Nightmare on Elm Street” film coming out?
Wes: I know nothing about it. The property is owned by New Line.

What was it like revisiting your concepts?
Wes: Alex came up with the idea for the remake. It was interesting seeing what someone else would do and how that person put their own spin on it.

Do you have any golden rules for filming horror?
Wes: Don’t kill the cameraman. Seriously though, I only follow two basic rules: Would I like watching it? And have I seen anything like it before?

What is the difference between the first remake and its sequel?
Jonathan: Last year was about a family out of their element. The baby was taken, family members were kidnapped and killed. This year the family is a military unit. Horror comes from the danger to that familial unit.

What’s the one dream project you’d like to work on?
Wes: The Donald Trump story. It’ll just be about giving him a weapon and having him kill people.