Kind of a scattershot article this time around, so bear with me.
Things are overall pretty swell for me these days and I thought I’d take a couple days to sit back and talk about positivity. More specifically, as you can see in the big letters above, 31 things that make me happy. The kind of stuff that I can look at, think about or just plain talk about and I’ll turn my frown into a smile. This isn’t really a countdown, as there’s no actual order. In fact, it’s just a bunch of random crap meant to reach that number. The neat stuff I don’t talk about, I’ll save for next year when I discuss 32 things that make me happy.
Why 31? Because I’m becoming increasingly grizzled in the next couple days. I suggest other bloggers give this a try when their time comes. It’s fun.
1) That What If Story Where Galactus Turns into Elvis
I wrote about this last year, so you can read my lengthier review here. The short of it is that Galactus is magically transformed into Elvis Presley and shot to Earth, where he finds family and a new meaning to his life. More importantly, he redeems the names of Galactus and Elvis Presley by assuming the throne of King of Rock and Roll.
Yeah, comic books are sweet.
2) “Learn to Fly” by the Foo Fighters
I can’t say that I have a favorite song, but I’m sure “Learn to Fly” is in my top five. It’s a beautiful tune that gets me pepped up to do whatever it is I’m preparing myself to do. For me, this is one of those songs that you listen to a million times, only listen to half of the words and get this image in your mind of what the song is really about, which is completely off-base. I can’t be the only one who does that.
For me, I always imagined the song as being about a World War I pilot in a nasty dogfight whose side is getting cut down by the enemy. He’s trying to get out of there with a handful of enemy fighters on his tail. He prays that his luck and worth as a pilot will let him live one more day to the point that he even considers selling his soul to the Devil. In the end, he maneuvers his way to safety to the point that he thinks his survival was caused purely by divine intervention.
Apparently the real meaning of the song is that it’s Grohl explaining the mental desperation of trying to write a good song under pressure. That’s pretty cool too, I guess.
3) Whenever Somebody Awesome Beats Up Superman When They Really Shouldn’t
When you ask the average man on the street who the strongest superhero character is, they’ll say Superman. Sure, a comic geek could say that Superman is nothing compared to the might of the Spectre and you’re always going to have that one guy desperately jumping through hoops to come up with a scenario where Batman makes a fool out of the guy. At the end of the day, Superman is considered one of the most unbeatable dudes in comics.
So it’s always a blast when he loses a fight to someone who isn’t even in his weight class. Sure, there’s always an explanation, but it doesn’t change the fact that Superman got his ass kicked by someone like Evil Spider-Man.
Yep. Back in All-Access #1, Venom showed up in the DC Universe and was quick to getting in a couple fights with Superman. He absolutely thrashed him again and again. And this was written by Ron Marz, a DC guy! Even when Spider-Man showed up, Venom kicked both their asses until the lame-oid Access showed up with a giant sonic cannon to save the day.
Some fans will explain it away that this was after Final Night, meaning that Superman wasn’t fully cooked up by the sun’s rays and was at a disadvantage. Too bad. My guy beat up your guy, so ha!
There are other examples. In one of my all-time favorite comics, Superman boxes against Muhammad Ali on a planet with a red sun, so naturally, Ali beats him down. Even though Superman has no chance in his vulnerable form, he still proves himself a badass by taking a beating and not falling down until the bell rings.
There was a crossover from when DC had the rights to Masters of the Universe and Superman ends up in Eternia. Despite having been thwarted by He-Man at every turn for years, Skeletor is able to pretty easily take down Superman without breaking a sweat. He just slices him in the chest with his magic sword and then zaps him with it until he stops moving. The dude beat up Superman, saved Christmas one time AND has a skull for a head. He’s the best.
Slightly related, but that JLA/Avengers crossover had a scene where Superman and Captain America are at each other’s throats to the point that the other heroes are pulling them apart. I’ve always thought this scene was great in its own flawed way because, really, what is Captain America going to do? His powers are that he’s good at doing crunches and talking. Superman can turn a mountain into glass by looking at it. It’s one of those cool little moments where Captain America is so in over his head but doesn’t care because he’s so determined that you believe he has a chance.
4) Gary Cherone Van Halen Existed
Back in the mid-to-late 90’s, Van Halen released an album with their newest frontman Gary Cherone. The two parties were a bit of an ill fit and when making their second album, Cherone split. Hey, misfires happen.
The thing is, by being part of Van Halen history, this is many times more amusing than it should be. Other than awesome guitar solos, Van Halen is a rock group defined by one of music’s greatest debates: David Lee Roth vs. Sammy Hagar. As debates go, it’s up there with Kirk vs. Picard, Mike vs. Joel, great tasete vs. less filling and pouring ketchup over French fries vs. pouring a pile of ketchup and dipping the fries (for the record, I do both at the same time because ketchup rules). Both leads share bad blood with the band and their own huge fan followings rival each other. Yet NOBODY cared about Cherone and it took me years to even remember his name. No kidding, I went years calling him “that guy from Extreme”.
Despite the Van Halen vs. “Van Hagar” argument, nobody ever chooses Cherone’s time with the band and I kind of love it . Cherone is to Van Halen as Azrael is to being Batman. He’s a footnote from the 90’s that everyone would rather forget about and that might be for the better if remembering it wasn’t so freaking hilarious.
5) Franklin Richards and His New Pet
Hickman’s run on Fantastic Four and FF has been phenomenal and no scene depicts this better than the climactic battle against the Celestials in Fantastic Four #604. Franklin Richards has always been depicted as having unseen potential in terms of power set, making him very dangerous as an inexperienced little boy. Galactus, always more of a force of nature than a being of good or evil, is one of the universe’s biggest guns, but even he can’t stand up for long against three Celestials. The Celestials are, after all, the be-all/end-all of cosmic threats and three of them together make short work of Galactus and even kill him. Earlier on, when young Franklin tries to fight them, his own greenness is exploited and he’s defeated too.
So then Franklin’s experienced future self shows up and borrows young Franklin’s power to add to his own. Even then, he can only stand alone against the Celestials for so long. That’s when he pulls out his ace in the hole in what may be the coolest comic moment of the year.
OH SHIT. The two turn the tide and the day is saved. There’s a nice follow-up scene in FF #16 where Galactus finds out that when the universe ends, Franklin will be there at his side. A cosmic god who has long done away with emotion, he candidly reveals that he’s dreaded and feared his destiny of eternal solitude, now relieved that his fears are all for naught. In a touching moment, Franklin, referring to Galactus as “Galen” (his mortal name), tells him, “Be thankful that you never ate the Earth.”
Okay, last mention of Galactus on the list. I promise.
6) VR Bloopers
A few years ago, a guy on the Something Awful forums posted a YouTube link with one hell of a setup. He hung out with this older guy at college who was pretty cool and all, but it was only until much later in their relationship did he reveal his horrible secret: he was the black guy from VR Troopers, the forgettable and cheesier Power Rangers knockoff. Eventually, he showed his circle of friends this video that was made on the last day of the set. He and the other cast members dubbed over a couple scenes from the show and wrapped it together with some footage of everybody just kind of fucking around. Despite reluctance, he uploaded it to YouTube for a little bit until taking it down. This is the internet, so of course there were reuploads from others.
The whole thing is a treat. Not just for the crude jokes and constant cracking on how ridiculous the show was, but for seeing what seemed like a great experience. Highlights include their horrific screams when flying into the mech and the Bay City Rollers out of nowhere. The best part of that segment is watching the guy with the sword. He really goes out of his way not to break character.
7) Improv Stuff
So, yeah, my classes at the UCB Training Center are still in full effect. Doing my fifth (of eight) 201 class this week. The whole thing is a lot more challenging than 101 to the point that I really need to get it down before it’s time for the next show. One of the biggest aspects of the training is knowing to “rest the game”, which is a term for making sure you stop trying to tell jokes for a moment or two. If you’re performing a skit about a really flatulent guy, you can’t just do fart jokes non-stop. You have to step back and talk about sports or whatever for a minute while trying to find a natural way to go back to fart jokes. Sounds easy, but it’s hard to get used to in practice.
Anyway, I’m still having the time of my life and I have another show coming up June 24th, 2:30 at the UCBeast.
Recently found out that Tucker Stone goes to the same place and he’s in 301 right now, so I need to team up with him one of these days.
8) Macaroni for Sad Children
I’ve liked what I’ve seen of John Campbell’s Pictures for Sad Children, but there’s a definite sense of black comedy to 99% of it, obvious from its very title. That makes it weirder for this, of all things, to be my introduction to the webcomic:
It’s completely off, yet immensely sweet. So sweet that I admittedly shed a tear whenever I see it. I remember rereading this again and again and wondering exactly what’s going on. Is the father insane with his son capitalizing by being completely awesome about it or is the father openly messing with his son and being completely awesome himself? I eventually decided the latter, just because of the use of “buddy” in the 7th panel. Yeah, he knows what he’s doing.
9) TO THE DEATH!
The following clip is my wonderful little introduction to director Godfrey Ho. Ho is to martial arts movies as Ed Wood is to monster movies. His style is that he’d film what seemed like three movies worth of footage with some actors, steal some movies from Hong Kong, splice them together, dub over the stolen movies and make dozens of features with it all, usually with “ninja” in the title somewhere. The stolen footage tended to have some high-quality action, but he’d change the dialogue around so that it would fit as a side-story to his footage. For instance, the movie might have to do with Richard Harrison (an actor whose biggest claim to fame is turning down the lead role in A Fistful of Dollars) searching for some kind of magic statue while he’d call up a friend of his to chase down a lead. Other than a conversation over the phone, the two would never interact at all and any connections between their storylines are ultimately forgotten about.
Crazy already, but Ho’s direction is downright insane. Here, watch the final moments from Ninja: Silent Assassin.
If you’re watching this for the first time and don’t find yourself quoting this for the next week, then I don’t know what to do with you.
10) Little Mac’s Return
A couple years before the Wii came out with the long-awaited next-gen version of Punch Out, Nintendo held a contest for fans to make short films based on their love for Nintendo. A group calling themselves Team Awesome put together one hell of a submission that sadly didn’t even make the top ten finalists. What the hell?
Based on Little Mac losing his boxing title to Mr. Sandman and being inspired to return to the ring years later, the Punch Out trailer is an energetic love letter to one of the best games of all time. It starts out as just okay until Von Kaiser is introduced. Von Kaiser was always the most forgettable guy in the first game, as he was incredibly easy, yet not as memorable as the more pathetic Glass Joe. Here, he shines and the guy playing him puts his ankle into the role.
The remixed training music plus, “Every fight in zee ring is another war!” plus the dual uppercuts on a motorcycle does it for me every single time.
I showed this to my brother and he immediately noted that it was the nerdiest thing he’s ever seen. That’s high praise.