Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Living in Las Vegas: Perk #621

I don't know why I picked that number, it just felt right.

Anyway, today I popped next door to the Hard Rock Hotel and picked up a ticket to see Slayer next month. Then, as I strolled back home, I thought about how different my concert-going situation is now that I'm once again in a major city with a booming tourism industry. In the last 5 years in Ohio, I was only able to go to maybe 2 or 3 metal shows a year, and for most of those I had to drive over an hour each way. The sole exception to that long-distance issue was Skeletonwitch, who as I've stated before were from the town where I lived and therefore played locally.

Well after that extensive drought, I'm now back in a situation where bands are regularly coming through my city. I saw Black Sabbath not long ago, Slayer and Gojira are on my plate for next month, Nine Inch Nails the month after, and I've already bought tickets for January when Las Vegas is the first stop on the Amon Amarth tour with Enslaved and (ironically) Skeletonwitch.

I can't express how good it feels to again be able to go to metal shows on a regular basis. The fact that half of these shows are less than a 5-minute walk from my front door is just icing on the cake.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Moss - Horrible Night

British doomsters Moss released their 3rd full-length album "Horrible Night" in March of this year. It took me a while to get around to it, but I finally listened to the record.

The band's previous record, "Sub Templum", is often my go-to album when illustrating the line between funeral doom and drone. It hovers right on the edge, with just enough structure and bite to still feel like doom, while sporting the kind of run-times and ultra-slow tempos that just feel excessive for anything that isn't purely background music.

Well this record is a significant change of pace for the band. Gone (for the most part) are the earlier snarling sludge vocals. Gone are the half-hour tracks. Gone is the feeling that the music is some unseen Lovecraftian horror inhabiting the blackened depths of a subterranean chasm. In place of these features we have much more straightforward British doom band. The vocals now fall into that vaguely Ozzy-esque sound that so many traditional doom bands emulate. The songs now mostly clock in at around 10 minutes (so they're still not "short", they're just not as long). And the feel of the music, while still essentially funeral doom, has moved closer to the fuzzy heaviness of surface-dwelling stoner doom bands.

Now first off, the good: this album reminds me of Electric Wizard. That statement alone should tell you all you need to know. Somehow, without the use of a bass guitar, the band has managed to achieve that crushing low end, while maintaining the fuzzy wall of feedback.

There is, however, also some bad. For one thing, the Wizard have some of the most memorable, monolithic riffs ever set down on tape. Riffs that carry you away as they grind your bones into dust. While Moss have certainly captured the right feel, they are unable to equal the riffing quality for the most part. Some songs, like the title track, definitely grab hold of you, but some songs instead just feel like filler. And when every song is the same length and tempo, those unmemorable tracks really fade into the background. The other downside is that, while I really do enjoy this record, it kind of moves into a niche that is already filled while vacating one that Moss had all to itself. They are currently left fighting with Dopethrone in the Electric Wizard Clone Wars, when before they were my go-to band for a specific sound.

While the negatives section was clearly longer than the positives, you should not take that to mean that I disliked this record. It was a very good, very enjoyable album, and I expect that I'll find myself coming back to it in the future. I do have some mixed emotions about it, as is often the case when a band you like goes through a radical style change. They haven't abandoned their funeral doom roots, they haven't sold out, and they haven't really even taken a step down. They have shifted in a more accessible direction, though, in what I would call a surprising lateral move.

In terms of recommendations, if you are a Moss fan it's worth checking out, but be warned that it's not quite what you'd normally expect. If you're an Electric Wizard fan, you'll probably enjoy this. If you just like funeral doom in general, it's a good record and you'll probably like it. And if you are new to the sub-genre and want to explore funeral doom, it's no masterpiece but it's an acceptable place to start.

Grade: B+

Work Footage

The other day on Good Morning America, there was a massive card stunt on a dry lake bed south of Las Vegas, where Britney Spears came down for an interview discussing her upcoming extended-engagement of shows at Planet Hollywood. I was on the crew for the live broadcast. This video is some footage my boss shot with a remote-controlled camera drone, and that sexy beast you see operating the jib (camera crane) is yours truly.

This was actually a pretty exciting occasion for me, since I've typically just done tech work, but on this occasion I actually did a little backup camera work during a live show.

Video is here.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Our Full Beard Champions

After writing what was essentially a rant when all I started out wanting to do was talk about the national bearding championships, I wandered off and started looking through photo galleries of this year's contestants. There were a lot of new faces, and many of the regulars appeared to be absent. Still, there were a lot of really good beards, and that's the important thing.

Anyway, it got me thinking about how, in the first four years of this competition, a different man has won the main event every year. The categories have expanded from 4 to 18, so in many of the smaller groups it's a different situation, but the main category is full beard natural and that has been there since the first year of the event. So I decided it might be interesting, for your viewing pleasure, to present to you the four big winners so far. You'll likely notice, as I have, that there appears to have been a shift in the type of beard that wins. I'm not sure why that is, but it does appear on the surface to be the case.

So here they are:

1st Annual National Beard and Moustache Championship in Bend, Oregon. 2010.
Winner of Full Beard Natural: Aarne Bielefeldt


2nd Annual National Beard and Moustache Championship in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. 2011.
Winner of Full Beard Natural: John Burgess


3rd  Annual National Beard and Moustache Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada. 2012.
Winner of Full Beard Natural: Neil Moherman


4th Annual National Beard and Moustache Championship
Winner of Full Beard Natural:Jeff Langum

Friday, September 13, 2013

2013 NBMC and 2014 WBMC

Just this past weekend, the 3rd annual NBMC was held in New Orleans. A new face took top honors in the main event, Jeff Langum. You can see footage of the final here.

This article also features a small gallery of photos from the event.

Now on to the main point of my article.

In related (and somewhat more troubling) news, it was recently announced that the United States will host next year's world championships. This is an extremely controversial claim within the bearding community. Normally the World Beard and Moustache Championships are held every other year, with the 2013 event in Germany rapidly approaching, and the 2015 event already scheduled for Austria. However, in a surprising move which I have not yet seen much information about, another championship has been announced on the WBMC website for 2014 in Portland, Oregon.

This may be the sign of a final, fatal split within the competitive bearding community. The American Phil Olsen who runs the WBMC website, Beard Team USA, and the national championships is not part of the governing body that organizes the world championships. He has in fact had numerous run-ins with that organization (the World Beard and Moustache Association) over the years, and has made thinly-veiled threats in the past to basically dictate the future of the event via his control of the WMBC's online presence. It would appear at first glance that he has now made his move, as it were, by trying to establish and legitimize a world championship of his own based out of the United States rather than the event's historical base in Germany.

The way this manipulation of information plays out could prove to be really interesting from an Orwellian perspective, but mostly I hope it doesn't prove too damaging to the burgeoning beard competition community. It's possible new information will arise that shows these concerns to be unfounded. Maybe the WBMA simply decided to increase the frequency of the events, making them annual in response to the growing popularity of the "sport". As I already stated, a minimal amount of information is readily available at this time. My inclination at this point in time, however, is to believe that Olsen is attempting to use his position to take control over the world championships by spreading misinformation. The troubling thing is that when the press reports on this (and the mainstream media actually does briefly touch on these events) it will be doing so from a position of ignorance and simply spread the erroneous information most easily available. That will, in turn, create a kind of retroactive 3rd-party validation and cause the public at large to adopt the falsely created event as the "real" one.

Of course, one might pose the question of whether or not any of this matters to the health of the community itself. After all, if there are 1000 potential participants and 900 attend the "fake" event while only 100 attend the "real" event, hasn't the fake one now established legitimacy since it's the bigger event with more competition? Well, yes and no. "Yes" because, quite simply, the more competitors an event has, typically the better and more valid it becomes as a measure of individual accomplishment for the winners. "No" because, if an organizing body representing many nations holds an impartial contest in an agreed-upon location, the results are going to be far more fair than when an event is run by a single self-appointed individual with his own agenda and a demonstrable willingness to play dirty. At this point, Phil Olsen has shown himself to be just that kind of person. I've been following the competitive bearding scene since the last WBMC held on US soil, the Anchorage event in 2009, and in that time I've seen enough interviews, articles, and independent documentaries to convince me that the man is a power-hungry egomaniac who has a clear agenda and who wants to reshape the community around his own goals. Admittedly he's done more than anybody to grow and promote facial hair competitions in the USA, but he seems to think that that means the entire sport belongs to him.

Competitive bearding is in the early stages of a huge surge in popularity. While it will never be on the level of major sports, it is establishing an increasingly visible niche for itself. At this pivotal time in bearding's growth, this kind of selfish power struggle is one of the last things the community needs. I sincerely hope that I am overreacting, but I fear that the next few years could set competitive bearding on a crash course toward manipulated results and corrupted leadership that would be absolutely crippling.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thoughts on "Geeks" and "Nerds"

I've had a few conversations related to this topic recently. For those of you who haven't noticed, every teen and 20-something in the whole world these days seems to claim that they are a "geek" or a "nerd". This has lead to some social backlash.

Well, a friend just posted a link to this article attacking/spoofing people who have issues with those who self-apply those terms.

Since it's a topic I've been thinking about recently anyway, I posted what I believe to be a relatively thoughtful response to the topic, which I've decided to go ahead and share on here as well.

Here it is:

I don't think it's about judging others for not being geeky enough. I think it's more about the defensiveness surrounding a label that arises when one suffers for belonging to a group.

Like it or not, being "nerdy" is in right now, and when something gets popular it's a simple fact that people will jump on the bandwagon for attention. That's not an attack on "fake geek girls" or anything, it's just a statement of truth. Well that's all fine, but kids who grew up in social isolation, bullied on the playground and beaten up by classmates for being "nerds" or "geeks" are understandably going to have some issues with the popular cheerleaders from school sitting down to play Minecraft with their friends and then self-applying those same labels.

That article/video paints it as a "this is our club, you can't join" thing, but I don't think that's accurate. I think it's more of a "don't patronize me by pretending you know what it feels like" thing.

I hesitate to put the terms "geek" and "nerd" in the same category as racial or homophobic slurs, but in many respects they are lesser manifestations of the same ideas. Like with those other terms, seeing somebody from outside the group use them without the context of knowing the pain they once caused can be grating. It can lead to the feeling that "you haven't earned the right to use that word," and that, I believe, is at the root of the recent outrage over many of the people who self-apply those terms.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11 and Moving

First off, as we all know, today is September 11th, so it felt appropriate to acknowledge that, even though I have nothing to say about it that hasn't been said a million times already.

Secondly, I've moved into a new apartment here in Las Vegas. I've spent the past few days moving things over here from the friend's house where I had been staying since arriving in town. Tonight is my first full night in the new place, so I guess at this point I'm now officially moved in to my own apartment.

It's a small 1 bedroom place, kinda cheap, but I love that I'm only 3 blocks away from the heart of the Strip. It makes for a great view from the parking lot, and it's cool to know that I can walk to one of the world's most famous and spectacular tourist destinations in about 15 minutes.

I'm also basically next door to the Hard Rock Hotel, where I have tickets to see NIN in November.

[Edit] I know it says this was published at 2am on the 12th, but I've changed timezones and my blog hasn't, which is why I was still calling it the 11th.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Papers, Please

There are two new games I picked up on Steam which have occupied my time this weekend. One I've already discussed. The other is a dystopian indie title from last month, "Papers, Please".

I love fiction surrounding totalitarian dystopias. 1984 many well be my favorite novel of all time, and Brave New World sits pretty high up there, too. Sadly, though the basic setting of crumbling, fearful societies policed ruthlessly by oppressive, virtually omnipotent governments is common in gaming, the application is generally superficial. It's kind of the cyberpunk alternative to a post-apocalyptic wasteland or a world at war with futuristic monsters, since those three pillars of action seem to be the only versions of the future where running around shooting people is an acceptable pastime. A dystopian game that feels genuinely grim and hopeless, which leaves the player with little power to affect the monolithic hand of his oppressors, is a rare commodity.

Papers, Please is that rare game. You are a 1980s bureaucrat: a rubber stamp serving as the inspector at a militarized border checkpoint on the way into Arstotzka, which is basically a German-meets-Soviet totalitarian nation. All day you sit in your booth examining increasingly complex sets of  travel documents and deciding if the person in front of you will gain entrance to the country. On the surface this may seem very dull. Admittedly the game is not what I would call "action-packed," but a number of interesting sub-plots involving covert political movements, government officials, terrorists, drug runners, and the desperate people who beg and bribe and coerce you for entrance all serve to flesh out the slate-grey world you inhabit.

I've been fighting not to overuse the word "oppressive" in this article, but that really is the best term for almost everything about the game. The music and sound is oppressive, with monotonous marching themes and crackling orders barked indistinctly over loudspeakers. The graphics are oppressive, consisting of a primitive and largely colorless 16-bit rendering of a desk setting and an overview of the guarded area outside your booth. The writing is oppressive, making you feel nearly as trapped and powerless as the nervous souls awaiting your judgement. Even the game mechanics are oppressive, forcing you to maintain vigilant focus as you balance quality control with speed so you can bring home enough of a paycheck to keep your family afloat for another day.

There are obviously some downsides, largely self-evident ones, to playing a game that consists of examining paperwork in a darkly depressing environment while a demanding employer looks over your shoulder, criticizing your failures and basically ignoring your successes. One could be forgiven for thinking this just sounds like a bad office job. The tension, atmosphere, and genuine immersive involvement of this game more than compensate for those flaws, though. Everything on your desk can be handled and moved and shuffled and organized in a way that feels so much more real than you might expect. This tangibility, small as it may seem, greatly enhances gameplay. More importantly, though, the player's moral compass is tested in far more interesting and subtle ways than the typical "this is the good decision, that is the evil decision" method we see so often in modern games. Instead, you inhabit a grey area, and you try to do what you can while recognizing the simple fact that your can't afford to help everyone. In the same vein, you can't even play the full-on heartlessly obedient government stooge, as it's virtually impossible to keep your bills paid and your family alive unless you dip a hand into the cookie jar of bribery and mutual favors now and then.

The closest game to this that I can think of would be Cart Life, and some older gamers may feel that it plays a bit like a dark, micro-managed Oregon Trail. In reality I don't think there's anything else out there quite like this game. I'd heartily recommend it to anybody who has a degree of patience and an interest in dystopian fiction, because I think those gamers will find that Papers, Please gives a big payoff for a modest price.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Electronic Super Joy

I recently picked up Electronic Super Joy while poking around on Steam. The game advertised itself as a brutally hard indie platformer, and since I like indie games and platformers and challenging games, I bit.

The first couple levels are simple jumping from platform to platform. With the 8-bit silhouette characters (retro is in these days) set against brightly flashing background colors and patterns, the "kooky" "random" dialogue and story (I need to get revenge on the wizard who destroyed my butt? Really?) and the thumping dance club soundtrack I thought this may just be a case of the developers dangling some shiny keys in the faces of casual players and trying to pass off said distraction as a game.

Holy crap was I ever wrong. This game has a difficulty curve like a brick wall, and it's definitely not meant for casual gamers. After those introductory levels that acclimate the player to the basic game mechanics, you're thrown into a whirlwind that feels like doing speed runs through Super Meat Boy at a rave. To call Electronic Super Joy "hard" would be like calling the Universe "big" or Sean Penn "pretentious". It's crushingly, mind-numbingly difficult, and anybody who claims otherwise is either Billy Mitchell or some turd who thinks lying on the internet about his video game prowess will get him girls. As for the bright colors and club music, I actually found them growing on me as the game progressed. Not my flagon of mead, normally, but here they fit perfectly and they add to the general hyper-ridiculous flavor of the game as a whole. I'm still not clear on why the save point flags all make sex moans, though.

The principal difference between this and other notoriously challenging indie platform games is that it doesn't give you any time to think. While you can take your time and work through a puzzling situation in Super Meat Boy, the combination of moving screens and rapidly multiplying missiles in ESJ often make staying in one place for more than a split second as good as a death sentence. One level was only about 40 yards long, if we assume the character is roughly human sized, yet it still took me about 50 tries to beat it. I've already died a few hundred times, and I'm not even through the first of the game's four worlds. I have reached the first boss fight, against the Pope in a spaceship (no, I'm not making this up) and that's also structured like the SMB boss fights, where you're mostly just racing through a difficult level with the boss character hanging around to prompt your hurried pace. After dropping dead at least 40 or 50 times with no end in sight, I decided to walk away so I could come back to it later with a clear head. Coming back to it I discovered that defeating the Pope is actually a multi-phase process, with the later portions including a Space Invaders-style battle, and a section with more direct combat against him. Overall, it's an effective and highly challenging mix.

Of course, none of this is meant to suggest that the game is unbeatable. I'm sure it's been done. People have been climbing Mount Everest for years, and I'd imagine beating Electronic Super Joy is only slightly harder than that.

As for the all-important question is "is it fun?" I'd say yes. It's tremendously frustrating most of the time, but it's that kind of frustrating that motivates you because you can see that you've nearly reached the next checkpoint or level end and you refuse to let the game win. The sense of accomplishment when you actually do reach that next level is wonderful, because you know you had to earn it. That has sadly vanished from mainstream hand-holding games in recent years, which as I've previously explained is part of what draws me to these kinds of titles. It's like the difference between a getting a pat on the head for trying your best and having your teammates swarm you as you cross the plate after hitting a game-winning home run. The grown-ups may tell you that you're all special no matter what happens, but deep down inside you know this is just empty praise. So thank you, Electronic Super Joy, for having enough respect for your player-base to make us earn our success, even if do you seem to think we're all 13-year-olds.

World Beard Day

I would be remiss in my duties as a hirsute blogger if I didn't point out that today, the first Saturday in September, is World Beard Day. So, to all my fellow bearded warriors out there, fighting the good fight against facial tidiness and sex appeal, today is for you.

Happy World Beard Day!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Carcass - Surgical Steel

After a 17 year break, death metal juggernauts Carcass are releasing a new studio album this month. Bill Steer and Jeff Walker are back, with a pair of new faces on board to flesh out the current lineup. The album was made available to stream, which was linked in this Blabbermouth article.

Now as the record first started to play, I have to admit I was struck with a chord of terror, because the intro track sounded like I was in for an evening of power metal wankery, but thankfully that sensation vanished once the first proper song started. This is pretty much "Heartwork"-era melodeath Carcass, which could either be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on where you fall when it comes to the band's eclectic discography. Basically I'd say you can gauge you much you'll like this based purely on how well you liked it's aforementioned brother, so rather than go into further detail about the record itself I'd like to go off the rails a bit and examine the reasons why I'm not personally sure how I feel about it just yet.

You see, melodic death metal and I have grown apart somewhat over the past couple of years. In part I blame this on the general quality of the music being produced within the style, since the heyday of the Gothenburg sound is long gone, and in the place classic At the Gates and In Flames the sub-genre has become stuffed with sensitive goth prettyboys pumping out bland, syrupy mush full of "emotional" screaming and whining. Basically, it's the festering spawning pool of the metal world's equivalent of boy bands.

That's not to say that there is no good melodeath out there anymore. Dark Tranquillity have basically stayed the course, Insomnium are an unstoppable colossus, and Amon Amarth are still Amon Amarthing. That said, there has been a general sense of toothlessness pervading melodic death metal for some time. As a result, music simply falling into the style has tended to put a bit of a bad taste in my mouth unless it's something I already know.

Of course the alternative to this theory is that I've just grown beyond my melodic death metal phase and have moved on to bleaker pastures. The sound served as an excellent gateway, but maybe now I'm at a stage where I no longer need the connecting strands holding my music to the hard rock world and I'm just shoving my former favorite sub-genre into the same box in the basement where people hide the embarrassing clothes they thought were cool back in high-school. The egotistical part of my brain, which admittedly is a pretty big portion of the whole, rather likes this idea. Moving on to something different doesn't have to be an act of growth or improvement, and it's entirely possible that my tastes have simply made a lateral move, but it sounds better in my mind when I view it as a form of progress.

Ultimately, whether melodeath has changed for the worse or I've just left it behind, the simple fact of that matter is that I don't listen to it very often anymore. I still go back to old records I know and old bands I trust, though, which is what puts "Surgical Steel" in such a uniquely weird position. It's not a familiar album, since it's brand new. And it's not part of a trusted routine the way every new Amon Amarth record is. It's still from an old band that produced a pioneering melodeath record, though, and it's a band hasn't destroyed their credibility with a string sellout disasters. So there's familiarity in limited quantities.

Really, the music needs to stand in its own right, and I think "Surgical Steel" does that fairly well. I also think, though, that I'm far less enamored with it than I would have been 5 years ago. Basically, I find it difficult to approach this objectively enough to give it a fair review, so I'm not even going to try.

Ereb Altor - Fire Meets Ice

Ereb Altor, a Swedish Viking metal band founded about ten years ago, released their fourth album a little over a month ago. I've finally started to feel like writing some new reviews, so I decided to give it a whirl.

"Fire Meets Ice" is a 55-minute slab of the type of northern fantasy that I personally love. There are plenty of clean chants and background keyboard atmospherics, so the cheese police should be on full alert for this one. I find that I rather like cheese, though, so long as it's kept relatively tasteful. I believe that it is, in this instance. There's a good balance between the heavier, more aggressive black metal portions and the sweeping Viking flavor. It never gets truly hostile, but it never becomes toothless, either. Ereb Altor are basically just another band wandering along the same frozen northern path that Bathory cut through the ice and rock over 20 years ago, which isn't much of a surprise since even the album title sounds like one Bathory would use, but to be fair there's only so far you can stray and still be considered Viking metal. That's not to say that they sound just like Bathory, but they clearly follow the formula.

There's honestly not much else to say about this record. It has clean sung acoustic passages that sound good and serve mostly as intros or outros, like most Viking metal bands have. There are blackened, slow-moving guitar riffs and non-existent bass lines, just like with most Viking metal bands. Keyboards crop up in the background (and foreground) to add atmosphere, like they do in most Viking metal. The drums are functional but basically forgettable, again like in most Viking metal.

Really, this album is just a checklist of all the things a record in this vein is "supposed" to have. Admittedly all these things are done well, and in the end it all sounds good. I enjoyed listening to this. That said, it played so terribly safe on every front that "Fire Meets Ice" just blends into the background alongside all the other good but unspectacular Viking metal records Scandinavia has produced over the years.

Grade: B

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Portal - Vexovoid

Portal have by now established a pretty solid, if divisive, reputation within the death metal community. Some people treat them like the best thing since the evolution of opposable thumbs, while others accuse them of incoherent wankery. Into this love/hate world, the Australians hammered out their fourth full-length slab of dark, twisted, alien ugliness early this year.

Now before I go any deeper into this, I should note the distance from which I've viewed Portal's career so far. I've been aware of them, heard lofty recommendations (along with a couple vitriolic condemnations) and even dipped my toe into the water once or twice myself, but I've never actually sat down and listened to a whole Portal album before. My impressions of their discography up to this point have, therefore, been largely superficial. On that note, if the things I say don't entirely mesh with the views of an experienced fan of their material, feel free to dismiss this review as the ramblings of an uninformed boob.

Okay, so the first thing I noticed when the opener started bludgeoning away at my eardrums was how dense this record feels. It's a hard sensation to describe, but it just seems that everything is very tightly packed together leaving the listener with a minimal amount of breathing room. The album does open up a bit here and there with some crackling, crumbling ambient bits and some Inception-style "BWAAAAH" horns, but my overwhelming feeling was one of suffocation. Together with that, I noticed that, at first, the dissonant riffs were giving me the same kind of headache I often experience when listening to Meshuggah. Unlike Meshuggah (who to this day remain largely impenetrable to me for some reason) after a minute or two it stopped bothering me so much on this record, though I couldn't tell you why exactly. Once I had broken through and was on the inside, I found that I was quite enjoying myself. The songwriting, as already mentioned, feels tight and deliberately orchestrated to turn you on your head by playing things that are just inherently wrong but doing it well enough to make you want to hear more. The hoarse, roaring vocals seemed a little more hollow than those of many death metal acts, but it kind of worked since instead of trying to wedge into the non-existent space between the guitar, bass, and drums the vocals are just sort of slathered across the top of everything like acid icing on a writhing, mutant cake.

I hope some of this is getting the idea across, because I'm finding it difficult to dissect and analyze this record. It's very much an experience comprised of general impressions rather than specific details. What I can say is that I like it, and I think anybody who likes their death metal ugly and weird will like it too. No individual songs stood out to me, and I'm not sure whether or not I'll find myself coming back to this, but it was certainly a worthwhile listening experience the first time through.

Grade: B+ or A-

A Blob from the Past

I was just poking around on a few of the webcomics that I semi-regularly read, when I happened across this comic posted 2 days ago by toonhole.com:

Sorry, but it won't let me post the image directly on here. Just follow this link.

Now, as one of the commenters noted, this joke isn't exactly anything new. In fact, when I had my own webcomic (Bill Blobkin, which is gone now but which I think I've mentioned a couple times on here) I did this in 2010:

Now obviously I'm not conceited enough to actually believe that a relatively popular webcomic saw this hack "comedy" on a personal website with virtually no traffic, decided to steal the joke, and then waited 3 years to publish it. That would require a pretty substantial leap of ego, especially for a joke that isn't even that creative in the first place.

I only bring it up at all because the similarity to the last panel was so striking that it caught my attention and made me think back to the days when I was writing that webcomic in order to feel like I was doing something vaguely creative. Also, it reminded me that I keep meaning to post the catalog from Bill Blobkin on a blog somewhere, since the site it was originally on no longer exists. If I ever get around to doing that, I'll link it on this blog for anybody who is interested.

Oh, and in case you read my previous post an were wondering, Black Sabbath sounded awesome. I'll probably write a full post detailing my thoughts on the show in the next week or so, but since I'm currently shopping for a new apartment, that's kind of on the back burner.