A Space Big Enough for Brain Farts

Posted in Amos has spoken, Cartoons, Manga, Nerd Theory on January 16, 2009 by Jarrett

It certainly has been a while since this Skull and Spectacles staff member has posted, I do believe that we are more than toe-deep into the new year and things should be rolling by now. Honestly, I have been thinking about what to post for a while now but didn’t think of anything worthy enough for your browser to refresh. To be frank, I’ve actually haven’t found anything interesting since Hajime No Ippo. (I’m embarrassed, I actually managed to finish all 76 24-minute episodes of the first season, found the manga online due to the Caribou’s evil linking of free scans, and sneaked a peek on the new season that’s been freshly aired in Japan.) I’m beginning to remember why I hate/love serials that are ongoing, they’re like thorn barbs that dig deeper into open wounds/rainbow roads that stretch to a glorious horizon. <sigh>

Anyways, amidst that obsession, I’ve just been wallowing in Science shows (‘dya hear? Bill Nye is back, and now in sustainable flavor) and Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.


I’ve been a fan of Adult Swim for a long time, and loved its dedication to the underground. It’s programming always had throwback favorites, and then tons of experimental new cartoons and anime. But it wasn’t just underground for the sake of obscure-ness or over-the-top craziness you’d expect from late-night programming, I feel it used to involve a lot of refined taste.

Used to. I would have to argue that the Adult Swim of today is swimming in a pool of underachieving and uninspiring shows thinking they could slip in between the attention spans of insomniacs at this hour. If I wanted to kill my brain cells I would’ve switched the channel to the Knife Show a long time ago so I could look at a slowly spinning buck knife selling for an amazing $39.99. But I have faith, and will keep this channel on while I surf ze Internetz so Adult Swim stays on TV. Besides, unlike the programming, the commercials haven’t lost their Adult Swim zing. I don’t know how many times an Adult Swim commercial led to me to great new music.

In the end, I pray for more power to groundbreaking new media spaces like Adult Swim to fill late hours with the brain farts of people who want to spend time watching great, unheard-of animation. Hopefully the Skull and Spectacles will grow to be the same.



Hajime No Ippo

Posted in Amos has spoken, Anime, Cartoons, Manga, recommendations, TV Series on December 13, 2008 by Jarrett

ippoHajime No Ippo (I call it Ippo for short) has been an anime series I dug up since watching it last when I was hanging around in the Philippines like 3 years ago. It was shown right along with the Filipino versions of Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z, and another anime series that was about basketball. Boxing and basketball, huh? Pretty appropriate for the audience in public television.

Sooooo you could say I was inspired by Pacquiao’s 8-round domination of the Great Golden Boy, Oscar De La Hoya. I took real pleasure in rubbing that into the faces of people sayin, “He’s too small, he’s gunna die once that jab hits him” this week. By pleasure, I mean shadow-boxing whenever I passed by De La Hoya fans saying, “Wait, did you hear? Yo’ boy got knocked the f*** out!” Ok I promise I’ll stop next week, but to say the least I was really moved by the fight. Pacquiao won humbly, and that’s something to be really proud of working as hard as he does. (He just fought another bout earlier this year!)

Anyway, I wanted to mention that nerdery is all about education, and that’s what is shown in this anime series. As Ippo trains day after day with only the fuel to be great powering his fists and legs, you learn the subtleties of the boxing profession, from the diets, to the workouts, to the styles of boxing, and even the details of each weight class. It kind of resembles the technical appeal of Initial D, where the beauty of the anime is really all in the details. It’s addicting, and it’s fun watching Ippo’s journey into professional boxing.

Here’s a little history I learned from Ippo today: meet Tommy “Hitman” Hearns, 8-time world champion, and the originator of the Flicker Jab.

The Ultimates: Captain America

Posted in Amos has spoken, Comics, Film, Graphic Novels with tags , , on December 6, 2008 by Jarrett


The Ultimates basically lays down the groundwork for a reworked Marvel Universe where the history of the characters is simple and interconnected with a few key events that parallel our own motley history. Established early 2002, and me reading it late last summer, I was eager to delve into a story that was less muddled with silly crossovers that sometimes doesn’t make sense in the big picture of things. It just makes characters more consistent, which I like because in the end it actually leaves more to the imagination.

I usually prefer serials that are inclusive to a limited amount of books; a beginning and a well-defined ending, but the Ultimates has a lot of potential, as seen with the coinciding stories being laid down by Marvel Studios’ first independent films, Iron Man and The Hulk. It all depends on how they pull off the Captain America film.

It seems they’re going to go with the old, gritty, war-weathered look for the film’s theme, which I think will be awesome. What would also be cool is if they went for the retro-sheen style much like how they designed the sets for Mad Men. Captain America should be a classy and upright fellow, a guy that Obama would probably love to hang out and play ball with on Sundays. (White Men Can’t Jump: Obama and Captain America Ball it up?)

In terms of action and plot, they’ve hinted already about how they can go about that given the Ultimates plotline. The Super-Soldier experiments done by Bruce Banner (The Hulk) and his nemesis the Abomination shows how they can show subtle superhuman speed, agility, and fighting skills. How badass would it be if Captain America had the mental capacity to be an intuitively awesome mixed-martial arts fighter, with a specialty in submission? Duuuuudddee…

Anyways, I’m excited. And it even sets up a plot for similar international super-people. Imagine Captain Philippines: Manny Pacquiao. GET HYPED.

Hardware or Software

Posted in Amos has spoken, Film, Nerd Theory with tags , , , on November 28, 2008 by Jarrett

“I’ve always thought that Hardware was more reliable.” – Tony Stark

In the advent of what is likely the next foray of comic books to the movies I feel I want to write about what would and would probably not work in the big screen. So what warrants making a movie in the first place? What makes people want to come spend money for more or less 2 hours of their time? People want to see what they can’t already perceive; the impossible. People want to see what they can relate to; the memorable. And people want to see what they’ve never seen; the incredible. What, then, makes the movie a success?

What made Iron Man good was the visualization that helped tell the story. From Tony Stark’s private rapid prototyping technology to his heads-up display, the theme throughout the movie was hardware. Having a sarcastic computer AI and Gwyneth Paltrow as the Pepper Potts just fills in the gaps. Tony Stark’s point of view in the design of his particular Iron Man suit (given the tragedy of his failing heart, and the particular fit his solution has in also powering the suit) also gives way to the villain, and perhaps War Machine in the future.

On the other hand, a biological perspective surrounds The Hulk, making the theme psychological in comparison. Bruce Banner’s tragedy is that he feels like acid is being poured into his brain, and even cites the “induced hallucinations” him and Betty went through in college. As flashbacks haunt Banner in his sleep, his character is strengthened further as he goes through what is essentially a rebirth every time he has an “incident.” He even learns Brazilian jiu-jitsu breathing techniques (and controlling his sexual impulses) to help control transformations. I should try doing that in general.

So who’s next? MMMM the possibilities.

One of my favorite comics that I’ve always come back to was Aquaman. Ok, I know, Entourage already explored that movie possibility, but they’ve only touched on it from the perspective of a short-lived high-profit blockbuster. But think of the theme. It could be visually beautiful.

Aquaman, like Superman, is not human. His story would be novel in the perspective that he lives in an environment among ours, but surfacing only when necessary. His powers wouldn’t be limited to just talking to dolphins and fish, but willing the element of water and everything living in it to do his bidding. Think of a more mythical Pirates of the Carribean, rather than some fool wearing the orange fishnet in the Superfriends.

Is it worth the billion dollar budget? I think it’d be cool.

The Watchmen, and thoughts of the Comic-Movie Industry

Posted in Amos has spoken, Drama, Film, Graphic Novels, Nerd Theory with tags , , , , , on November 24, 2008 by Jarrett

Watchmen Cover

The Watchmen is a graphic novel series written by the acclaimed Alan Moore around 1986, and it’s been touted as a classic in the genre. I think that these series might have shaped the graphic novel as a media form that has the potential to push cutting-edge fiction past its boundaries. When I read it this past summer, I was amazed by the density of information in every page. The story spans mere hours as it chronicles the troubled past of vigilantes taking justice into their own hands but aren’t received well in the public eye. These heroes come in a variety of backgrounds, and the circles they dwell in bring a deeply political environment to the story. For example, Dr. Manhattan is an intelligent government scientist who, by a freak experimental accident, is able to manipulate matter in its basic form. His role, as his superiors hide his past from the public, becomes political in nature as the United States uses him as a celebrity and  symbol of the country’s power. And that’s what you could tell by just looking at the art. The drama is what keeps the pages turning. And what keeps you coming back is the details.

So what made me to pick up the series in the first place was the live-action film coming out March 6th, 2009. Looking at the trailer, it looks ambitious most definitely. And seeing that they also placed a trailer before the new Batman movie, it looks like DC is making moves to match the upcoming powerhouse Marvel Studios with their fancy Ultimate Marvel Universe. Dealmaking aside, I think the Comic-Movie Industry is very exciting at this time, when movie makers are now drafting good writing from media that’s already visual in nature. It’s like getting scripts and already having storyboards prepared.

In terms of The Watchmen, however, a movie is going to be difficult. I think me and one fat white guy in the back were the only people who Ooohed after the trailer played, and I have to admit I was embarassed of my exposed nerdiness. A cult classic like The Watchmen is necessarily going to play differently than the graphic novel because it’s going to be made into a movie, but good stories are good stories. I’ve got to say I’m impressed with what I’ve seen in the trailers, and if they pull it off… the movie might just shake the world.

Marvel 1602

Posted in Amos has spoken, Graphic Novels with tags , , on November 9, 2008 by Jarrett


Much like Ultimate Marvel, Marvel 1602 is a graphic novel series placing the same characters we know and love in a vastly re-imagined world, the New World. In 1602, the American continents as we know it were merely ideas rivaling the myths and mysteries of magic and mysticism. The characters are defined more by their relationships with other characters, like mutant to “Brotherhood,” or Man to Mystic. Of course you can’t be flaunting your powers with gaudy costumes, so mutants would wear appropriate clothes as to not be burned as a witch. Even with super-speed, energy beams from eyes, powerful magnetic fields, or just plain super skrempfs, Marvel 1602 stresses their relationships with the public eye, with some of them using powers to assert superiority, and some of them thinking of the simple yet profound advantages one has when peasants think Daredevil is “just a blind guy.” I love the reimagining of Dr. Strange, Captain America, Nick Fury, Daredevil, Magneto, and Prof X, (which is just about everybody) and if you are at all curious if they’d still be just as badass as you know they would be in 1602, go ahead cop these series. (Just 8 issues!)

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Posted in Amos has spoken, Cartoons, TV Series with tags , , , on November 4, 2008 by Jarrett

10 reasons for why the world would be better off being an Avatar world:

  1. Instead of messy presidential elections, we’d duel each other at the mastery of element-bending
  2. The energy economy would become a civil trade of bending skills needed to make tunnels, forge steel, care for the sick, means of transportation, and anything else society needs
  3. The Olympics would be siiiiiickkkk
  4. We would have more wise men/sage ladies/old masters lurking around saving the day/causing trouble
  5. We could have animals like Turtle Lions (wayyy better than Ligers)
  6. Hot firebenders would be making my tea
  7. Hot waterbenders would be healing my wounds
  8. Hot earthbenders would be making…my house?
  9. Solar eclipses/comets/tides would be so much more exciting
  10. Instead of claiming nuclear “testing” at deserts, we could just blame the Avatar for fooling around with his avatar state too much

This series is fire. I find myself taking a deep breath, meditating, and stomping the ground to see if I can make the earth shake. Every morning. I throw a punch every now and then because I might be a firebender. Mr. Shyamalan was drafted to make the movie set to premiere at 2010, he better not make me wonder what happened, cuz nothing happened in The Happening.

I looked up the creators of the series, Micheal Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, and they graduated from good ol’ RISD. Goodness is that what they make people do at art schools? Emit fire from their hands??! I want in.

Christmas List:

  • Avatar Complete DVD set
  • Mad Men Season 1 and 2

Amos out.