A Deafinitive View On… The Hulk

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I forget when I first became aware of the giant green goliath that could smash cities to pulp with his fists when he became enraged. There’s no set date, unlike my first baseball game. I’m sure that it was before the TV series that starred Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno aired, because I remember lamenting at the time that the TV show Hulk was nothing like the comic book one. Then again, the state of special effects was quite different at that time, with Ferrigno literally having to have green paint applied to his body. Now CGI can render a 9-foot-tall Hulk with ease.

The story of Dr. Bruce Banner (I wanted to change my name to that legally at one point), and his monstrous alter ego was a Jekyll and Hyde for the comic book crowd. I was a skinny kid at the time and the idea of the Hulk’s strength and power deriving from his rage was an enticing one. I’m sure I was not the only awkward child drawn in by this premise and I certainly won’t be the last.

There were two storylines in play for much of the time I read the comics regularly: Banner wanted to fully rid himself of his ability to become the Hulk and the Hulk wanted to merely find solitude where he could be left alone. That’s all noble and everything, but a comic with a happy Hulk sitting somewhere fishing would just be boring as all get out within the first three pages.

I also saw two types of Hulks – the mindless, angry green one and a grey one that had intelligence and who acted like a “Fix-It” guy. That was where I first discovered Todd McFarlane’s artwork. It was fascinating seeing how the Hulk matched up against people that were smarter and dumber than he was. My all-time favorite cover was from the original “Secret Wars”, where he’s holding up a mountain. The cover’s text basically said, “The only thing between this billion-ton mountain and the ground is the Hulk… AND HE’S NOT HAPPY.”

Up until the most recent Marvel Studios version with Mark Ruffalo, I haven’t liked how my favorite green-skinned goliath had been portrayed on the big screen. The Ang Lee version just was all wrong and although the Ed Norton version was a bit better, it felt like they couldn’t translate the comic Hulk to the movies. But this one is just perfect and I do hope that Ruffalo keeps playing him.

Even though I like the Thor movies, I’m more excited about seeing the Planet Hulk storyline in some form or another in the future. It’s going to be interesting how they tie in the Infinity Wars… because a very angry Worldbreaker Hulk would make for a formidable opponent against even an Infinity Gauntlet wielding Thanos. Not saying that the Hulk would WIN, but it would be fun to watch.

Those are just a few brain droppings on this big galoot. I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say once “Thor:Ragnorak” hits the theaters.

A Deafinitive View On… How Isaac Asimov Would Likely View Today’s World

 

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This would likely be Isaac Asimov’s default expression when hearing about anything currently in the U.S. news.

Back when I was in high school during the 1980’s, Isaac Asimov was a hero of mine. I adored the fact that he was capable of writing so authoritatively on so many topics. Over the span of those years, I read as many of his books as I could. Science fiction was my favorite genre of literature. It may have been entirely coincidental that I didn’t have a date throughout that whole span, save for prom. Then again, it may have been my pimples, braces and my disdain for neat attire. Who knows?

I liked Dr. Asimov’s work because he had such a rational view of everything going on in the world at that time. He was a brilliant man who could take the most complex subject and break it down that even the most basic layperson could have an extremely good chance of grasping at least the basic nuances. His books on astronomy were favorites of mine.

The thing about him though, was that he was sounding the alarm, even back then, about the culture of ignorance that was beginning to pervade the United States and other countries. He worried about people starting to turn their backs on science – especially at such a critical time in the world’s history. He and other scientists already had begun to see the dangers that global climate change presented. While Dr. Asimov was a proponent of progress – he often wrote of robots and other technology, after all – but he viewed certain parts of industrialization, like coal, as being extremely damaging to our environment in the long run.

His most important message to all of us was that we should band together as humans… race, religion, and nationality be cast aside… in order for us to give ourselves the best chance of surviving and moving to other worlds besides ours.

I recently read a collection of his essays and it provoked the following thought:

So let’s imagine that something that might occur in one of his stories happened…. it’d be really interesting to see how, if we were somehow able to revive him today – he died in 1992 and would be 100 in 2020 if he’d lived that long – and be able to gauge his reaction at the state of the world. Chances are that he’d take one look at the headlines about Trump being president, and after being convinced that we weren’t all playing a prank on the formerly-deceased author, probably state that he’d prefer death than living in this world.

Well, maybe not. But imagine how a man who’d first written about computers that were the size of rooms and used vacuum tubes would us walking around with cell phones that have more processing power than all the computers of the 20th century?  Would he be amazed at this? He’d probably be asking us to explain Twitter and Facebook just ONE more time and probably show unmitigated disgust at the fact that reality TV is so prevalent.

So, Asimov would then leave the hospital/laboratory and walk out into a world that’s quite different than what he saw before his death. People would be milling around, all intently staring at their phones. No, they wouldn’t be reading the latest intellectual book… they’d be looking at Instagram feeds. Then he’d take a look at what Trump and his cabinet have done to departments like the EPA. Then we’d likely see him aghast at how unchecked pollution might be making its way through the skies again. He’d also shake his head at the gullibility of so many people who fell for planted stories from other countries.

Once he made it back to his home – imagine the surprise on Janet Asimov’s face – and then he’d likely turn on the television and take a look at what Trump and his cabinet have done since his inauguration… and he’d shake his head at all of it. I’d like to think that he’d be particularly angry at the installation of Scott Pruitt as the head of the EPA. This was a man who was sounding the alarm bells about the environment for so long… and now this wolf is in the henhouse of one of the most important departments in one of the most powerful nations in the world.

After all this, it’s obvious what Asimov would do next. He’d sit down and write. This was a man who would burp out a 1,000-word essay in 15 minutes. There would be reams of paper worth of his thoughts about this world. It’s really a shame that he died when he did… though there’s no saying that he would have had all his faculties into his late 90’s. Given his brain, chances are good that he would have, though.

Then again, in this culture of ignorance, he might as well have thought it better to go back to his eternal rest than continually banging his head against the wall of stupidity. The world could use another Asimov right now…

A Deafinitive View On… Why I’m Rooting For The Astros

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Jose Altuve is so fun to watch.

 

Let’s get the big part out of the way first. Yes, I’m a New Yorker. No, I don’t like the Yankees. No, I’m not one of those namby-pamby ‘fans’ who are all like, “Well, if the Mets are out, I’m rooting for the Yankees since they root for New York.” Get outta here with that weak stuff. Do you think Chicago White Sox fans are rooting for the Cubs now? Hah! I give that all a thumbs down. Yes, even to Gary Dunaier, the guy who was seen giving the thumbs-down sign at a Yankees-Rays game that was being held at Citi Field due to Hurricane Harvey.  He’s even backing the Bombers now. Boo.

Hurrican Harvey… that’s one reason that I’m hoping the Astros win the World Series. It wasn’t that long ago that a large portion of the city was underwater like they were trying to create a set for “WaterWorld 2.” There was so much suffering and it would be a good thing for the people of Houston to have something to take their minds off their situations, even just for a bit.

Also, the Astros are just fun to watch, like the guy whose portrait is on the top of this post. When we see Jose Altuve, with his average height, stand next to the hulking Aaron Judge, it looks like he’s a tween standing next to an adult. He inspires many of us with what he’s done.

Let’s not entirely be fooled, though. Although Altuve is 5’6″, he’s also a world-class athlete with hand/eye coordination and fast-twitch muscles that most of us can can only dream of ever having. There’s a reason he’s collected over 200 hits in four straight seasons. So yes, we average people can only dream about doing what he’s done.

The Astros seem like a more fun bunch, with Carlos Correa, George Springer and Altuve forming a trio of hitters that’s hard to match, and with a starting rotation that features Dallas Keuchel, who has a beard that is nearly as awesome as his pitching ability. He has to hope he never goes to the Yankees, since he’d have to shave that off. Given the size of his facial hair, it’d probably take him the entirety of the offseason to remove it.

That’s not to say that the Yankees haven’t been intriguing – what with Sir Didi Gregorius hitting lights out and Aaron Judge having a rookie season for the ages. Still, there’s the whiff of corporate blandness with this group. Even the two teams have stadiums that speak volumes about each. Houston has that left-field stands that juts out into the field. Yankee Stadium is practically polished marble.

So, right now, I’m enjoying the fact that the Yankees are down two games in this series. I tempered my enthusiasm during the American League Division Series, but winning four games in this series is a higher order than three. I’m hoping that Altuve and Astros fans get to smile all the way to a championship though.

A Deafinitive View On… Tom Petty

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I remember when I first saw Tom Petty on TV. It was in the early 1980’s, on MTV. The video started off with a post-apocalyptic wasteland scenario. A funky-looking  roundish car drove up, and stopped. Two doors hissed up and a pair of men exited. They walked around until one of them noticed something buried in the ground. The thin, angular one, who was wearing some kind of dark top hat and big black sunglasses,  picked it up… it was wrapped in plastic. He ripped the plastic off and we all saw what it was… a boom box. After inspecting it for a second, he pressed the “Play” button… and I heard Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ “You Got Lucky” for the first time… and over 30 years later, I’m still not tired of it.

I thought back to that moment when I first heard that Petty had been hospitalized. Even though there were conflicting reports about whether he had passed or not, when I heard that he had no brain activity, I knew that it was a matter of time before he left this realm. I also felt so sad that a brain that had given us songs like “You Got Lucky,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “Running Down A Dream,” and “Learning To Fly” was no longer functioning. Even though it had given us so much, it seemed like it had so much more to offer in the upcoming years. He was only 66.

Petty was such a presence in my life during the 80’s and early 1990’s – partly because he had so many songs on MTV over the course of that decade… but because his songs seemed to fit us all so well. “I Won’t Back Down” and “Runnin’ Down A Dream” continue to be personal anthems to this day, no matter my age.

I’ve seen a fair amount of concerts over the course of my life – I consider myself lucky to have been able to see Pink Floyd, Billy Joel, Rush, Genesis (twice), Phil Collins (four times), and Hall & Oates (twice) – but I had not seen Petty, who, by many accounts, could put on quite the live show. Now I’ll never get to… aside from YouTube videos, which isn’t anywhere near the same thing.

This has likely caused many people my age or a bit older to think about their own mortality. We’ve seen people that we grew up with die – people like Glen Frey, Prince, David Bowie… and now Petty. It’s a very sobering thing. It also makes me think about how precious life is.

Petty had a knack for putting out songs that were neither too long or too short They seemed to be the right length. That’s what I’m going to do with this too – not have it be a rambling treatise on his life and what he meant to the world with his music. There’s going to be tens of thousands of people doing that.

Instead, I think I ‘m just going to say, ” Thank you, Tom…”

A General Deafinitive View – 9/3/17

From time to time, I’ll just post some random thoughts about what’s going on in both the world and other things that pop into my mind. I’m writing this now while taking a break from doing 10-minute drawings of various things that I’m going to take to a comic convention on Wednesday.

  • Right now, I’m drawing three different types of things: pets, superheroes and celebrities. I just finished one of Tom Hiddleston as Loki. I think the trickster was messing with my pencils because the drawing was JUST not going my way. I wanted to make it look like Hiddleston, but for some reason it kept looking more like Sigourney Weaver… at least for the most part of the time I was drawing it. Art’s humbling. I can turn out some thing like this one time in 10 minutes: MJGNimoySD090317

and then wind up with something like this not that much later: MJGHiddlestonSD090317

Sigh. Oh well. Onward and upward, right?

  • It’s amazing seeing what’s going on with Texas, especially with all the fundraising by people like J.J. Watt. SportsCenter’s Scott Van Pelt was right when he said that man decades from now, Watt’s obituary is going to mention this in the first paragraph.  Just a remarkable thing… and there are so many other people pitching in.
  • Speaking of pitching and Texas, I thought it was a horrible idea for the Mets to bring back Matt Harvey this year. The season is a lost cause and he and Noah Syndergaard are risking injury by coming back this season. They should have both been shut down for the rest of the year. This was my reaction when I saw that Harvey had been lit up like a Christmas tree when he went against the Astros, who are only one of baseball’s best teams: giphy (153)
  • This used to be an exciting time of year for me. I’d look forward to the opening of the football season. Now, after hearing so much about concussions and what these players are doing to their bodies and brains, I’m now quite unenthused about the sport. Fantasy football has lost its appeal to me. Baseball’s my big love.
  • I have a very good feeling that the American League Wild Card race is going to be absolutely bananas this month. There are so many teams jockeying for those two slots that anything can happen. I think the fans of a LOT of teams aren’t going to have fingernails by the time October rolls around.
  • If Giancarlo Stanton did what he did in August while playing for a team in New York, Boston, or the Dodgers, he’d own that city. He started off the season so slowly too. It’s getting to the point that I’m disappointed if he doesn’t homer. He has to be seeing every pitch like it’s the size of a beach ball. Forget about “Being John Malkovich”, I want to see “Being Giancarlo Stanton” and just get an idea of what it’s like to be able to murder baseballs like that.
  • Politics: I see that Donald Trump is going to be stopping the Dream Act. There’s going to be a six-month wait, but it’s going to end. Terrible. This country was built on the backs of immigrants and he’s so hell-bent on dismantling everything that President Obama did during his tenure. It’s disgraceful and a LOT of people are going to get hurt as a result. Robert Mueller needs to hurry the heck up.

A Deafinitive View on… Whether the Mets and Astros Should Play In Houston This Weekend

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I’m going to give a short answer for those who are pressed for time: No. No, they should not be playing in Houston this weekend. It’s a bad idea and it makes the people in charge of the game and also in Houston look extremely short-sighted. It will likely leave a bad taste in the mouths of everyone who is involved.

There.  You can also get the gist of my feelings from the above photo.

They are going to play though. This isn’t the worst decision in sports – that honor befalls those who thought that playing football so soon after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was a good idea. That will forever be the hallmark of poor judgment, though there may be a team that presses to play during a hurricane. “Can you imagine how far the balls will fly? C’mon… just run into the clubhouse if you’re not playing or have an at-bat.” Don’t scoff… it wouldn’t surprise me to see that happen. I mean, we live in a world where the powers-that-be in soccer awarded a World Cup to Qatar, a place where the temperatures are equal to the surface of Mercury sometimes.

The decision to play in Houston instead of a neutral site like Tampa Bay so soon after the massive flooding caused by the relentless Hurricane Harvey is one that made me scratch my head as soon as I heard about it. How could the people in charge of the Houston Astros organization survey all of this – people displaced from their homes, some of them depending on the incredible kindness of strangers like “Mattress Mack”, a furniture store owner who turned his entire store into a makeshift shelter – and think that they would want to trek to a ballpark so soon after this?

What makes this all feel so stupid is that the Mets have to travel to Houston and stay in a hotel  – one that people who could use shelter from the storm will be denied. It feels like the Mets could have pushed harder for other options. Then again, perhaps they saw the argument between the Astros and the Rangers about their playing situation and decided that they wanted no truck with that and went along with it.

I’m not saying that they should have stopped completely. There were options on the table. This was not a complete nationwide tragedy, like Kennedy’s assassination or 9/11, but there had to be some compartmentalization going on. This was the worst decision out of all of them.

I hope that this turns out to bite the Astros in their rear. I hope that there are a lot of empty seats at these games. It would underscore how difficult getting around in Houston still is and that a baseball game is the last thing on a lot of these people’s minds. There are some players on the Mets who think that this is a ridiculous idea. They are right. Still, they are employees and they need to go to where they are told – though they do hold a lot more power than many other employees of other companies. Well, they would if the Mets hadn’t shipped off a lot of their veteran leadership earlier when they realized that they had no shot at contention.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this all turns out. If there is a good turnout, then it might encourage other teams to do such things in the face of disaster. I’m hoping the opposite happens, that there’s such a poor turnout that it will make other team owners and other sports owners reconsider even thinking of doing such a thing.

The Deafinitive View: This Mets-Astros series should not be played in Houston.  Period. 

A Definitive View On… Staying Basic

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I think I need more pencils.

I think people who are my age (mid-40’s) or so are in a unique position. We grew up using basic things – like the card catalog at the library, encyclopedias for research, and paper and pen or pencils for writing and drawing. Still, we’re not so entrenched in our ways that we can’t adapt to new things. We’re comfortable using streaming services for our television needs. We use laptops and tablets for our work and reading. It’s an easy adjustment.

Well, almost an easy one. We’re in a time where artists can draw digitally at a level that equals and sometimes even surpasses the pen/pencil/paper combination. I have a Cintiq… but I never use it. I still like to draw with pencil and paper. The photo above is just a small amount of pencils I have.

Why do I still use this method? I just like the feel of a pencil in my hand and how the lead interacts with the paper. I also love buying sketch/drawing books and filling them up and then saving the drawings in binders. I can physically sort through my progress as an artist. It feels a lot more real than swiping through scans and photos on a tablet. There’s a quote from Freddie Williams II’s book, “The DC Guide to Drawing Digitally” where an artist told him, “I’ll just keep getting my hands dirty.” That’s how I feel about my drawing.

That’s not to say that I’ll never get into digital drawing. I’ve seen good things from people using an iPad Pro with an Apple pencil and an app called Procreate.  Those could be tools that I use in the future. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave them below.

Until then… I’ll just keep getting my hands dirty.