In case people didn’t know (since the DVD release seemed to have about as much marketing and hype as the original release of the movie), the Iron Giant Special Edition DVD was released November 16th (this past Tuesday). The special edition includes an alternate opening, eight additional scenes, and commentary/sequence analysis from director Brad Bird (also known for his work on that little movie, The Incredibles).

I’m very familiar with this Iron Giant movie…why? Because it was one of my son’s favorite movies when he was younger (back in the old days when we didn’t own a DVD player…ahhh, those days of playing and rewinding seem so far away). It was the very first movie that he asked to watch over and over…and over…and over. And I didn’t mind. It’s actually a movie you can enjoy over and over again (without slipping to the psychotic side, ripping out all your hair, giving yourself a whipped cream mohawk and doing bad Mr. T impersonations).

Now, it’s finally time to retire our VHS version and add this movie to our growing DVD collection.

Yesterday, a NASA (unpiloted) aircraft testing out its experimental scramjet engine hit a speed of Mach 9.7. To give that a little perspective, the Concorde generally cruised right around a meager Mach 2 and the SR-71 ran around Mach 3.

The upside of this research is a good one…flight from New York to Tokyo or Sydney in 2-3 hours. But then, you’d also be traveling at 100 times faster than you’d travel in your car on the highway…and over 10 times the speed of a 747. A crash at hypersonic speeds like that could be devastating. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops (I’ve been keeping an eye on it for a while) and see what kind of safety hoops it’ll have to jump through before going commercial.

New York Times x-43A article
Popular Mechanics Hyper-X article (2001)

Well, this is a first for me…having a project I’m working on mentioned in an MTV News report. For those that haven’t heard yet, I’m co-writing the first BloodRayne one-shot comic, and I’m heavy into research for the next one-shot (which, for the BloodRayne fans out there, will dive into more about the Brimstone Society). I have a flyer with more information on the comic that I’ll be handing out at Wizard World Chicago, so drop on by table 9046 and see what’s up.

Well, thanks to this post at the Bendis board, I’ve learned about the Horror Channel. Looks like the site is doing petitions to help get the channel picked up by the various cable outlets. If you’re a fan of horror and want to see it in your area, be sure to lend your support to the cause.

Seeing that, I realized I don’t watch nearly as much horror stuff as I used to (and don’t read as much horror either), but if it was available 24/7, I’d probably keep it on in the background while I write. I wonder if that would influence my writing…hmmm….

Looks like the courts reversed the reversal of the reversal of the…well, you get the idea. Tony Twist and Todd McFarlane have been at this legal battle for years now, and for some reason, it keeps going back-and-forth. At least the damages are less than the initial ruling by about $9.5 million…but I’m sure some of that savings went to legal fees, and I’m sure it’ll be appealed again.

This isn’t the first time the “Twist” has plagued someone with problems.

…in a way, The Twist really ruined my life. I was on my way to becoming a big nightclub performer, and The Twist just wiped it out. –Ernest Evans aka Chubby Checker

Maybe if Tony wins, Chubby Checker’ll jump in on the legal action claiming that the hockey player’s violent reputation is tarnishing the good image of his song. But then, I don’t really think he cares that much about it. But it’d be funny to see his Twistin’ songs mixed into a video with the court proceedings as the courts “twist again like we did last summer. Yeah, let’s twist again like with did last year.”

Well, it looks like it was a light day on the supidity front over at Stupidity Reigns with only one thing for me to comment on.

The Topic: Slander
The Culprits: The Italian legal system.
The Issue: The phrase, “You are nobody.”

DarkOra’s Response: Way back in the day, there was a talented essayist by the name of Philip Dormer Stanhope. He was the 4th Earl of Chesterfield and is commonly referred to as Lord Chesterfield. He wasn’t the greatest man in the world (often considered a selfish man and a bit of a ridiculer), but his collected Letters to his Son contains some tidbits of wisdom and clever observation, including this lovely quote:

“If you are not in fashion, you are nobody.”

A phrase Italy should be familiar with since they have the likes of Versace, Armani, Prada, Gucci, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, and tons of other fashion designers.

And there’s our Education Rebellion for the day. I’d like to mention that even though we’re not that bad here in the U.S. there are some problems, so support the organizations out there trying to hold on to as much free speech as they can. In comics, you can support the cause by helping out the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. You could become a member, pick up a copy of Even More Fund Comics, or buy a t-shirt like this classic from Frank Miller:

The Arizona Replublic has an article about Phoenix kids learning to create comics. I’ve heard some small press creators talk about hooking up with libraries to do something like this, but it’s good to see a retailer (Samurai Comics) getting involved. Why?

Instructors, local comic writers and artists will help guide students through the session and offer advice about the professional world of comics.

There also will be a comic trivia games and giveaways, including graphic novels and gift certificates. Refreshments will be provided.

The summer series is a free event, but registration is required. All art supplies are provided, and students are encouraged to bring their own tools, too.

Look at that marketing. Comic trivia plus a combination of different local writers and artists to get them discussing comics. Giving away graphic novels to get kids and teens (the class is for ages 12-18) reading comics. Giving away gift certificates to get attendees to stop by the store. That’s one way to help get more kids interested in comics. I wonder if there are other retailers that do this kind of thing during the summer. I’ll have to keep an eye out and see. But for now, if you’re in the Phoenix area and know some kids interested in doing something creative with their summer vacation, be sure to let them know.

Well, my good friend Marty (aka ravendarke from the previous Dark Ramblings blog) started up a team blog called Stupidity Reigns, which will point out examples of stupidity in the media and real life. It’s one thing to point out stupidity, but it’s another to take action and do something about it. Each night, I’m gonna gather up bits of educational material as a counter-point to their daily onslaught of stupidity coverage…to educate the masses. Of course if you’re reading this, you’re probably already too smart to fall under their ever-vigilante eye, so enjoy the educational tidbits anyways.

Stupidity Reign’s first post! … DarkOra’s first post!
Stupidity Reign’s Igorance kills. … DarkOra’s IgorANCe.
Stupidity Reign’s hamburgers. … DarkOra’s hamburgers.

Over at Underground Online, John Byrne discusses “What Went Wrong?” with the comics industry. He breaks down comic history into a series of mistakes that impact the image and direction of comic books over the years. Here’s a little of what he has to say:

One could argue that the first and perhaps biggest mistake was to allow these things to be called “comic books” in the first place. The name was born out of the earliest versions of this half-tab (for half tabloid) package being reprints of the “Sunday Funnies,” the “Comics.” Because of this, they came to be called comic books, and people came to think of them as containing “comic” material — i.e., funny stuff. This is odd, given that the Comics were choc-a-bloc with adventure strips that made no attempt to be humorous, but somehow this label and impression stuck. I have often suggested we might seek another term to describe the package, but so far nothing as “user-friendly” as “comic book” has been suggested.

User-friendly, eh? I say we go techie with a new name…Wireless Entertainment Modules. They work anywhere (well, I think they’re still working out the design specs for the underwater variety of comics) and can be used for decades without needing to be recharged. They’re portable, they promote literacy, and they come in a variety of colors and genres. Get yours today!

“Spamalot,” the Broadway version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail looks like it’s gonna be fun. Tim Curry will lead the motley band of knights as King Arthur. By his side will be Hank Azaria as Sir Lancelot and David Hyde Pierce as brave Sir Robin. Might have to plan a trip out to New York next year to see this.

You can find some more details at CNN in this article.