Monday, March 31, 2008

A Soundtrack to our Lives, Part 2

Yesterday we began our look at some of the great geek musicians, and we got off to a fast start. But now the time has come to slow things down, and there is no one more capable than the enigmatic Jonathan Coulton, whose haunting melodies will surely move you to tears.

There are many songs we can speak of, many you should listen to, but I would start with "I Crush Everything," perhaps the most subtle and truthful ballad of unrequited love in contemporary music.

Afterward, you could do worst that to listen to "Re: Your Brains," a song about working through differences and coming together. There are lessons here we all need to pay attention to, especially in an election year.

Finally, be sure to listen to his rendition of the classic "Baby Got Back." If Coulton's interpretation of Sir Mixalot's famous love song does not touch you deeply, there may be nothing there to touch.

When we feel overwhelmed here in the middle room, it's nice to know there are musicians such as Jonathan Coulton to remind us who we are.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Soundtrack to our Lives, Part 1

Music is not merely something we listen to, it is something that affects us in powerful ways. In fact, converted to sonic energy and fired at high enough volumes, it can make Superman bleed, regardless how those lawsuits end.

It is just that powerful.

I like to think The Middle Room is defined in part by the music that forms its soundtrack. And so, in order to enhance the experience of visiting The Middle Room, I am beginning an extended look at some of the songs and artists who inspire me, whose music has played since The Middle Room's beginning, all those long weeks ago.

We start with Optimus Rhyme, whose song "Autobeat Airbus" defines better than any other recording what this blog is about. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Reasonable Compensation

The ownership of Superman is not so clear as it once was. The family of one of the character's creators, who were paid far less than their creation was worth, have brought a lawsuit against the company currently publishing Superman comics, producing movies, and licencing the toy rights, which is clearly an issue of great importance to me.

I cannot explain the lawsuit better than Newsarama, and wouldn't want to try. Rather, I would like to provide one man's opinion, feelings, and fears regarding today's development.

Firstly, I should point out that it seems unlikely much will come of this ruling. This will certainly be appealed: the final issue in this miniseries has yet to be written, let alone pencilled and inked. Now, it seems to me that once this case has concluded, it is only fitting that the family of the character's creator be given more reasonable compensation for the most significant creative property of the last century than the modest payments they've so far received.

My fear isn't that this case will cause the publication of Superman comics to cease or anything else so dramatic. The pending appeals and the like make such dramatics an impossibility. The movies in production, however, are less certain. Warner Brothers may well put the sequel to Superman Returns, as well as the live-action Justice League project, on hold rather than risk having to pay royalties. I can even imagine them dictating the Man of Steel be withheld from the Justice League film, then try to have the movie go forward without him. I expect to revisit this scenario in more depth tonight during my nightmares.

Ideally, when all is said and done, I would like to see Warner Brothers buy the complete rights to Superman (and Superboy, as well: might as well take care of that once and for all) from the Siegels. I should think a fair price would be in the ball park of one point five billion dollars, though that figure may be low: I'm sure the lawyers can work out a fair and reasonable final price.

Of course, this still brings up the question of when (if ever) characters such as this will enter the public domain. Superman strikes me as a particularly tricky case, since elements of the character predate Siegel and Shuster's work. Part of me expects for Nietzsche's descendants to appear and demand a cut as well. I am certainly not suggesting that Superman was a copy of Nietzsche's work, but it was obviously an allusion. Further, it does strike me as though many of the streamlined elements that define the character, at least from a legal perspective, were derivative of the philosophical works which also provided the character's name.

It certainly seems to complicate Marvel and DC's trademark on the term "Super Hero", which is clearly itself derivative of Superman's name.

But it seems highly unlikely that trademark and copyright law is getting any major make-overs anytime soon, other than the requisite extensions to corporate properties which occur every decade or so like clockwork. The best we can really ever hope for is that the creators, or their families, be treated with dignity and paid reasonably, and that the properties we love continue to be produced.

If there's one thing we learned in the nineties, it's that the last thing we should ever want is a world without Superman.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The List

Who among us can truly claim to have lived a complete life?

As quantum physics teaches us, there are, in this world, myriad possibilities, myriad paths one might take, and myriad choices. Consider for a moment the poem, The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost. Given the attention it is awarded in the American school system, I do not feel it is an exaggeration to say that a normal American, by the time he or she reaches the age of twenty-two, has spent an average of thirty-five hours discussing and thinking about that one poem.

Think of all the things you could accomplish if you had those thirty-five hours back.

For one, you might watch fifteen to twenty full length movies. And that brings us to our discussion about the 1986 film, Big Trouble in Little China. There are many things one could say about this picture, but the most surprising of which may be this: I lived for twenty-eight years without ever watching it.

Perhaps even more shocking is this: twenty-one of those years were AFTER the movie had been released. Only this past week did I finally receive a copy in the mail, purchased for a measly five dollars on Amazon, and then only to bring the total price of my purchase above $25 to qualify for free shipping.

I find it hard to image what I could have been doing at the age of seven that was so important, so significant, that I didn't collect my allowance and see it at the time it was first released. But there is no point dwelling in the past. No, this is the present, and the future is nearly upon us now. It will be here soon, with more films for us to consider, to study. But before it gets here, we must put our houses in order.

And to that end, I have assembled The List. You see, there are others. There are movies that every geek should see, films that remind us why we don't watch dramas or romantic comedies, unless of course those romantic comedies contain zombies. And some of these movies, I am ashamed to say, I have never seen.

It is not easy to admit such failings here, to dig deep and find such courage, but it is the first step towards recovery. I believe the second step involves watching the movie, and the other ten steps can be used to watch other movies or to do something else useful. I have always been in favor of efficiency, and twelve steps has always struck me as excessive.

Here is my List, which I share with you in the hopes you will find the courage to build your own. It is not weakness to admit a failing; it is to ignore it. These are listed in no particular order:

1. The Jerk - I've been meaning to see this for more than fifteen years now. There is really no excuse.
2. Harvey - I have never been disappointed by a movie featuring a giant, imaginary rabbit before, and I've been told this is no exception.
3. RoboCop - Even I have a hard time believing I've never seen RoboCop. This is an oversight in great need of correction.
4. Clockwork Orange - The odd thing is, not only have I read the book, but I consider it one of my favorite novels.
5. Metropolis - At college I once had an opportunity to see this. I decided against it, because I had a paper to write. I offer this not an explanation or excuse, but rather as a warning to those in a similar situation: take care what opportunities you pass up. You may end up regretting your choices.

That is my list, and certainly it could continue. But of all movies I've yet to see, these five are the most pressing, the most upsetting. How I can look in the mirror and call myself a geek is a mystery to me, but I take solace in the knowledge that I am working to make things right. Since I first made the list, I have removed movies, as well, as I've finally viewed them. The Godfather (parts I and II), Predator (I know, I know), and now... Big Trouble in Little China.

So go ahead, make your own list. And, if you haven't seen it, go ahead and put Big Trouble in Little China on there. It's an important piece of cinema. No one should go through life without having seen it, and if they only screened it in grade school, no one would.

It's certainly more relevant than Robert Frost.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Waveform

Can a movie exist in two dramatically contradicting states at once? Of course. Until a film is seen by human eyes, it must exist in multiple states. It cannot be "excellent" or "crap," not until it is seen. It is so like the die being rolled: not until it stops can it be compared to the attacker's THAC0.

Yes, dear reader, in the middle room we still believe in THAC0. Even as the world forgets, we remember.

But that is another topic for another day. I would instead direct your attention here. I recently stumbled across the trailer for this on youtube. It is an animated movie featuring young versions of The Avengers. Teenage Avengers, in fact: perhaps even younger.

At this point, it would be easy to discard the movie with a wave of the hand: surely any movie starring young versions of these heroes deserves not a moment of our time.

And were that all there was, surely we would ignore this as another in Marvel's long line of disappointing animated films. For, while their live action movies have been more than satisfactory, Ultimate Avengers 2 and Iron Man were a blight upon the Earth (I haven't bothered to see Dr. Strange yet, but may eventually).

But these versions of the Avengers are young because their parents, the Avengers we're familiar with, DIED FIGHTING ULTRON. Apparently, only Bruce Banner and Tony Stark have lived to help raise them, preparing them for the day they would take their parents place.

Oh. Well that's kind of cool.

Or, it could be. It could be the next Batman Beyond... or it could be the next Ultimate Avengers 2. I don't think I could even guess which. If I had to make one prediction, however, it would be this: that Next Avengers will not exist in between. For such a picture to exist, it seems likely that it would either have to incredibly good or horrendously bad.

For the time being, it can be said to be both, trapped within an uncollapsed waveform, unobserved and undetermined.

Only when that waveform collapses, when the die stops rolling, can its state truly be determined. Only then with it be either good or bad. For now, its state is truly indeterminate.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Movie Review: DragonLance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight

This isn't easy for me.

I don't discuss it much, but the first AD&D campaign I ever played in was Dragonlance. I was Calinar Shadowblade, an elven wizard. Why, exactly, a wizard's last name contained the word "blade" is a discussion for another time. Perhaps it is better left unanswered.

I would have been about twelve at the time. Maybe I was eleven, or perhaps thirteen: the records are unclear, but such details are trivial, anyway.

I was young. I was inexperienced, both in life and experience points. It was a time of discovery and adventure, of watching dice roll, and marking character sheets. It was wonderful.

It has been said here before, as it will be said again: the icosahedron turns both ways. For every nineteen, there must be a two; for every twenty, a one.

I've put this off for far too long. I tried to avoid this discussion. I thought that perhaps if I ignored the subject long enough, the film would fade away, like a summoned monster once the spell's duration has passed. But the dvd will not vanish, will not fade. It wears the image of my childhood game, like a mimic falsely passing as a treasure chest. But inside that case, dear reader, be forwarded: there is no treasure, only poison in the guise of a silver disk.

First a few words about Dragonlance. This is not fine literature, like Lord of the Rings, nor is it something fundamentally new or original. The books have no great meaning or purpose, but they represent something, nonetheless. They represent an era in fantasy. They represent a generation of geeks' childhoods.

And Dragonlance deserves better than the movie that was made.

This movie is not merely bad: it is abysmal. It is horrid beyond words, beyond description.

The animation defies reason. Do you remember the old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon from the 1980's? Well, this is far, far worse. That it not hyperbole: it is fact. The 2D animation looks as though it was thrown together in the 1970's, the 3D animation looks as though it was processed on an N64. There is no real effort made to blend these two styles. I am without sarcasm when I suggest that this movie was never even finished.

What remains of the story is so jumbled, so disjointed, that you will praise the animation for distracting you. If you have never read Dragonlance, the movie will seem incoherent. But then, if you haven't read Dragonlance, you will not know what you're missing. In this, I envy you.

The tragedy is this: the voice actors were well cast. Many of these actors are hard to get and no doubt were well compensated for their time. Perhaps the producers ran out of money before the picture needed to be drawn.

It says something when one of the authors who wrote the book this was based on, who is credited as a creative consultant, and has a personal and financial stake in the film's success, provides the movie with a mixed review. He tries to play up the positive, insinuating that it is in the fan's best interest to do the same. He gives it four stars, and, given his involvement, we cannot fault that.

Nor can we, in good conscience, be so generous. It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that this is a one star picture. "On what scale?" you ask, and rightly so, following my lengthy diatribe on the topic.

But in response I can only shake my head and let the full gravity of the situation settle in. It matters not what scale we consider: there exists in this universe no movie we can reasonably call a five star picture, such that we could compare it to Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight and give the latter more.

This is a true one star picture, a total waste of film and time.

Mishakal, damn them. The books deserved better. I deserved better. And, most importantly, Calinar Shadowblade deserved better.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Movie Review: Justice League: New Frontier

There's no sense in creating a system without putting it to the test.

Welcome, dear reader. Have a seat. This is to be the first of many reviews in The Middle Room.

There are films that shape generations, that change lives, and alter perceptions. Whenever possible, I try to avoid those films: I find them pedantic and condescending. No, I'm more a cartoon man, myself.

So it shouldn't be much of a surprise that our first foray into film should be with the familiar. An animated film, complete with capes, should start us out nicely.

And how kind of DC to oblige, with Justice League: New Frontier, an excellent example of what a cartoon can be. And make no mistake, this is a cartoon in the traditional sense. Hand drawn, two-dimensional excitement, with just a touch of CG to lighten the burden on the animator's tired hands.

But it's not a cartoon for the kiddies. This one pulls few punches. People die and blood is spilt. This isn't as restrained as Batman Beyond or Justice League Unlimited, and fans of those programs know they provided us with concepts and images more mature than was perhaps pertinent for the younger viewers.

Everything drawn was wonderfully designed, pulled from Darwin Cook's work and lovingly placed on the screen for us to enjoy. Aided by excellent dialogue and superb voice work, this was well worth the cost of the disc.

Was it perfect? No. Some of the best scenes from the comic were cut for time, and the time went by far too fast. This could have been an hour longer without dragging. Also, while the majority was animated beautifully, there were moments when the images failed, including a key point near the end of the film.

But these are minor complaints. The opening credits were amazing to watch, only outdone by the concluding montage, delivered over the speech the movie is named for. That was enough, I am man enough to admit, to make this geek shed a tear. Absolutely beautiful.

And now for the rating. For this, of course, we need a scale. I almost want to take the easy way out. It's an animated DC drama done in two-dimensions: that all but cries out for Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. And were we to compare them, we'd no doubt declare them even, five stars around, and celebrate.

But life isn't always so easy. This is an animated superhero film, yes, but it's also a period piece, set in the late 50's/early 60's, with overtones of the era: spies, secret conspiracies, and a public that's lost faith in its heroes.

If honesty is to prevail, we must put this movie against The Incredibles. And, that, sadly, is an obstacle the direct-to-dvd New Frontier cannot surpass. But it approaches, head held high, and shows us that even in such stellar company, it has nothing to be ashamed of.

On The Incredibles scale, Justice League: New Frontier is a four-star film. Not bad for something that was never released in the theater.

The Lessons of Science

According to Wikipedia, neutron stars exist with a radius smaller than the width of New Hampshire. On the other end of the spectrum are supergiants thousands of times more massive than our own sun, whose modest light supports all life, powers solar panels, and provides Superman with the power to crush robots and catch helicopters.

The field of astrophysics has shown us again and again that all stars are not equal. Some are larger, others are smaller; some rob kryptonians of their powers, while others collapse into black holes of such incredible density that light cannot escape their clutches.

And still every movie critic in America grades a movie's bouquet in terms of stars. But what kind of star, I ask you.

And there can be no answer, because, although they pretend to juggle them in their hands, dispensing them justly, your average movie critic can't tell the difference between a red giant and a white dwarf.

It makes me sick.

But there is nothing I can do about it: I am no astrophysicist, either. And far be it from me, humble philosopher that I am, to break with this noble tradition and dispense flowers or pennies, or some other arbitrary unit of measurement that would merely be converted to stars by anyone comparing my review to another....

No. That won't do, at all. We must retain the stellar system, flawed though it may be. But something is needed, some element of science in this vast wasteland of art. And that is the key, isn't it? If we are to review movies, and surely we must, we will need science to assist.

And what better scientific principal, what better theory, than Relativity?

For far too long, critics have simply passed a movie as being one star or two stars. A simple scale for simple minds, but we shall evolve. We shall recognize the fallacy of judging a film without context, of considering all movies together on a simple scale of one to five... stars.

If we were honestly to do give a film such as Godfather or The Empire Strikes Back five stars, then what hope would something like The Chronicles of Riddick have? Is it really better than one-fifth the quality of any of the above?

But who would ever - EVER - dare say that The Chronicles of Riddick is at the level of Battlefield Earth?

No, we need a system of nuances, capable of managing the vast of range of quality that can be found in motion pictures. We need relativity.

It was not without cause that I selected The Chronicles of Riddick for this demonstration. While is not on par with the great films of all time, I submit to you, dear reader, that The Chronicles of Riddick is a masterpiece in it's own right: that it is, relatively speaking, nothing less than a five star film.

Provided, of course, we are rating upon a scale which defines five stars as being as good as The Chronicles of Riddick. This movie, while far from perfect, is everything a bad movie could ever hope to be. It is juvenile, absurd, and gloriously so. The makers were passionate about this project, and that passion permeates the film, which is as engaging and brilliant as it is childish and stupid. To declare this anything less than a five star picture is to deny it its due; just as the mere act of rating it against a scale used to judge Casablanca is an exercise in ignorance.

The cynics out there are no doubt ready to pounce: couldn't we say that ANY movie was a five star film, where five stars is defined as being as good as that movie? Couldn't the same system be used to declare Catwoman a five star picture?

But the cynics have not learned the lessons of science. They have forgotten Occam's Razor. Only those movies perfecting their relative paradigm are deserving of this honor: anything else is an exercise in futility, multiplying entities well beyond necessity. And that, dear reader, we must not do.

Catwoman can be judged fairly against The Chronicles of Riddick, and so it shall. Even here, it is given one star, for it deserves no better. Underworld, on the same scale, fares better: three stars. And who can deny that Underworld is three-fifths the film that Riddick was? No more, no less. Science and math have reasserted themselves, and the world, once more, finds order.

There may yet come a day when the stellar system is perfected, when a film such as Spiderman is given two carbon stars and a white dwarf, and when that day comes, we can return to simpler ways.

But until then, The Middle Room shall take Einstein's lead when we review movies. We shall judge great epics against Star Wars. Computer generated animated pictures shall be weighed against Finding Nemo. And there will be other scales, no doubt, when necessity demands it.

But we shall never forget that there is no single scale that can weigh all movies. The subtle gears needed to balance a work like It's A Wonderful Life would be clogged if exposed to the slime of Batman and Robin.

Friday, March 14, 2008

It's time

According to Wikipedia, unless the Pope personally intervenes the Catholic Church cannot declare someone a Saint until they've been gone at least five years. But five years is too long. The healing process needs to start now, which is why I am asking that Pope Benedict make an exception, just like the church made for John Paul and Mother Teresa, and do the right thing.

I am asking that he canonize Gary Gygax now.

I understand this might be seen as a controversial measure, as Gygax was not, so far as I know, Catholic. But this man has surely lived an exemplary life, gifting the young with hours and hours of joy, bringing people together, and changing forever how and why we roll dice.

But there's so much more. This represents an unprecedented opportunity to approach the gamer community. We are discussing a population of young, confused individuals, many of whom will later go on to careers in technology and engineering. I'm not saying that church should do this solely for monetary reasons, but just think of what ten percent of those incomes will come out to: we're talking about ending the church's money problems once and for all.

Of course being Canonized does not make someone a Saint. The Catholic Church is no fool; you demand proof in the form of miracles, and unlike some of your previous appointees, I guarantee that Gygax, patron Saint of D&D, can deliver.

You think cancer vanishing is rare? Well, how rare? No one really knows, do they? Accepting most miracles requires a leap of faith, and that's hardly the way to run a church. When D&D players pray to the Venerable Gygax for assistance against, say a Green Dragon, and he returns five natural 20s in a row, we can tell you precisely what the chances are (one in 3 million, two hundred thousand). Pretty miraculous, if you ask me.

Not good enough for you? No problem! Just name the mathematical improbability, and we'll keep rolling. Sure, we're bound to get the numbers eventually, but the same can honestly be said about medical miracles, as well. But such a skeptical and cynical attitude has no place here: these are miracles we're talking about, plain and simple.

So please, do the right thing and canonize Gary Gygax. It's time.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Chance For Salvation

I would speak of an unpleasant subject now; I would speak of the damned. To the geek, there is one below, a soul who has created acts of such depravity upon the screen, that he is truly and forever lost. Through his own acts, he has assured that no true geek shall ever again pay the price of admission to one of his films.

I speak, of course, of Joel Schumacher, architect of atrocity, responsible for that which was... Batman and Robin. For this unholy act, there can be no redemption.

Why then does the title tell of salvation? Because it is not for Schumacher that we've gathered to speak. His is merely a tale of caution. It is another, one who is fallen, though not beyond hope, who has brought us here. It is Brett Ratner, whose X-Men film brought down a dynasty, destroying a once bountiful franchise.

Ratner is hated for what he did, he is despised; outcast. But he is not yet damned.

Much of what went wrong in that film can be rightly laid at his feet, of this there can be little doubt. But there were others, as well. Others in hiding, whose incompetence has plagued the franchise since its very start. I speak of producers, and though their touch went largely unnoticed, they no doubt share the blame.

The producers, after driving away Bryan Singer, made Ratner a devil's bargain. He accepted, and we have all paid a price.

But now Ratner has a chance at redemption. Aintitcoolnews has reported that he is involved with Harbinger, a Defiant property from the 1990s. Certainly nowhere near the scope and power of X-Men, Harbinger has its fans, and it is a good property.

Tread carefully, Ratner. There is more at stake here than a film: I daresay your soul may hang in the balance. Look below you and gaze upon the fate of Schumacher's career: encased forever in ice in the deepest pits of Hell. Such is the fate of those who destroy our beloved comics.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Roll

The icosahedron is always falling, always rolling. This is the way of destiny, of chance. There are days, moments of such critical beauty, that we know the cosmos has smiled upon us: we know that small chance - one in twenty - has come out in our favor.

So, too, must the other side fall; for the icosahedron is regular; it is fair. And for every twenty we roll, we must also throw a one.

And so it was that a man died. He was not a young man, though he was not so old that his passing seemed expected. This was no ordinary man. It was Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons & Dragons, who passed away a week ago.

If you are unfamiliar with his game, you can learn about it here.

It was truly a sad day for geeks. I find myself missing the game Gygax generated, for many a year has passed since I cast those dice. Far too long for my comfort.

But the die rolls on, as winter nights give way to spring dawning, with a new edition of D&D in the works. Yes, a fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons will be released later this year. It must be added that this edition shall be the first bearing the number of one of the game's dice. What this means, and whether it shall strengthen the game itself, are questions that only time, or perhaps play testers, can answer.

But until then, let us a remember the game's creator. Let us raise our glasses and cast our dice for Gary Gygax. He was a geek among men, and I, for one, salute him.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A day of great upheaval

Sometimes, when the world changes, the ground quakes. Some things can be felt the world over. Other things are quiet. Other things can only be seen in retrospect, save by those who were there.

Yesterday, at 10 a.m. (9 central), the world changed. Few saw it, fewer still realized that anything had taken place. But make no mistake: a 9:59 the world was one way; at 10:01 it was another. Something happened between those instants, something that cannot be overlooked.

At 10:00 a.m., eastern standard time, the guard changed. For the first time since 1992, Marvel comics were better represented on animated television than DC. Yes, at 10 a.m., The Spectacular Spider-Man aired for the first time.

And I was there to see it.

The music, the images, the stories... all were good. There were echoes of Stan Lee's classic run, elements from the movies, and, yes, ideas from Ultimate Spider-Man, as well. These were blended with the eloquence and skill of a master smoothie-maker: not the sort you're likely to find in a mall, believe you me.

The vulture was introduced in the first episode, his back-story cleverly tied to Osborn (and the technology he invented is destined to create the Goblin's glider). His ideas were stolen, he was humiliated, and he was laughed at. He sought justice first; revenge was an afterthought. The actions he took against Norman Osborn were fair and, dare I say, just. And yet, it was not to be.

Because, in his darkest moment, in his most desperate of times, a punk kid shows up in a spider suit cracking jokes. Is it any wonder he will hate that kid forever?

This isn't Batman: that needs to be stated. No one animating superheroes for television has the touch that Bruce Timm and Paul Dini had. But Timm and Dini are animating for TV no longer. Dini is off writing for DC, while Timm keeps pumping out the animated movies (if you haven't seen New Frontier yet, by the way, you'll want to do so).

No, this isn't as good as Timm and Dini's work. But it's better than anything else on. The CW wasted no time in illustrating this point, following up their hour of Spider-Man with the conclusion of The Batman. Though not awful, it was not worthy to follow The Spectacular Spider-Man. You almost felt bad for The Batman's producers: there was simply no comparison.

And Legion of Superheroes, whose first season truly impressed me, likewise came up short. For the time being, Marvel has bested DC with a superior animated television program.

That leaves DC only currently producing better comics, better toys, and better direct-to-video animated films. As to who's holding the live action title, well, that won't be clear until the summer is over.

The Cool Kids Sit Elsewhere

Welcome to the middle room. We have plenty of chairs here, plenty of seats, and all are of course welcome to join us. But before you do, know this: ours is a strange path, and there are many who would choose to avoid it. If your love is for sports or shoes, then you may want to press on to other stops in the vast abyss that men call... the internet.

For here you shall find none of those things. Here, there is only the geek. The oddity. The icosahedron lies within, and it is ever turning. Do you dare gaze into its many faces? If not, deer reader (or elk reader: all Cervidae are equally welcome), do not venture further.

There are other things here, as well. Stories of those who are more than human. Stories of Gods, proudly clad in spandex armor, lie within. Stories of beasts, a hundred feet tall, with nuclear breath shall likewise be considered.

And, should they fight, who amongst us to claim to guess at the winner?

Join us, if you would. Pull up a seat at our table, or one of the other nearby tables, if ours is already full. But know this: this is neither the front room, nor is it the back.

You have entered the middle room. It lies between the other two, and the cool kids sit elsewhere.