February 27th, 2011

Worms Ready For Battle

Do You Know Who I Think I Am?

A friend of mine who works in the industry sent me an email entitled, "Celebrity Sighting".  I was wondering who he saw.

He found these on the Facebook page of a friend of his....

These images were taken by a photographer from Comic Related.  I had checked the site in the days after the con and didn't see any mention of me.  I simply shrugged, figuring I was just too small potatoes to be noticed.  So I check again just now:

Holy crap!  The girls and I made national coverage!
Moe Cowbell

Drumsticks Can Also Be Chicken!

This morning, the phone rings.  I check the caller ID.  It's Chester.  The guy my confession about tanking the Mortal Kombat tournaments was meant for.  I hold the phone and before I activate it, I think, "Here we go."

"Pete!  Buddy!  How you doin'?"

* silence *


I'm here.  You sound awfully happy.

"Why wouldn't I be happy?"

My last blog post.

"The Comic Related one?"

No, the MK one.

"Oh, that.  Yeah, big surprise.  Listen, you doing anything today?"

I have to admit, you're taking it better than I thought you would.

"Yeah yeah.  What are you doing today?"

Just organizing my comics and trying to write a new Hannah Singer story and a new Stress Puppy arc.

"Can you stop for a little while and come by?"


"Do the words, 'early Christmas present,' mean anything to you?"

That's not fair to you.

"Sorry, opportunity knocked, and we aren't waiting until December.  Not after everything we went through last year."

So, a plan was formed, and I went over to Chester's.  The gang was there, smiling broadly.  Vera's shoulders were burbling a little.  Yup, she was excited about something.  They emphasized that they didn't overspend, and in fact, they got enough of a deal that I'll still get some sort of gift when we meet to formally exchange gifts in December.  But they stumbled across this and didn't want to risk me getting it first.

There it was in the living room.  An Ion Sound Session compact electronic drum kit.  And a pair of 2B's.

Oh, yeah, I'm happy.

This is the kit I saw at Target around Christmas time for $210.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not expecting this to be pro quality.  I mean, $210?  We're talking the Yugo of electronic drum kits (and the gang got it used for about half that).  However, there are two key things to keep in mind:

1)  I'm not a pro, I'm just some putz who plays too much Rock Band.  I've heard pros bitch about how the pads aren't as responsive as they'd like (you do get what you pay for).  I'm not at any skill level where missed detections are going to matter.

2)  I was looking into getting a set of practice pads anyway.  $170 at Guitar Center gets this contraption with practice pads that can be angled and adjusted.  Unlike the practice pads, this actually gives aural feedback of what the hell you're hitting.

I checked it out, looks great (proprietary interface, natch) and tried doing a little drumming.  I notice I've gotten less shy about playing the drums in front of friends.  I think I kept pretty good time (I'm trying to be consistent and solid, not Buddy Rich).  And it also collapses down into component pieces that, if I'm not mistaken, will fit alongside my keyboard in its gig bag, so I can take both instruments at once.

So, I have a two keyboards (full size and a Little Mermaid one), an electronic drum set, and a gusli.  This would make one hell of an act.

Breathe Out, So I Can Breathe You In

When I bag and board my comics, I put a label on the front of the bag in the upper right corner.  It has the title, issue number, what series, publisher, printing, story title, a synopsis, and anything special about it (signed by whoever, appearance by Squirrel Girl, if it's especially funny, etc.).  This is to make it easier to find favorites in my boxes without searching through a kajillion issues.  Just look at the upper corner.

So, in order to complete the information, I have to read the comics so I can do the plot synopsis.  I mean, read them.  This can be difficult with some titles (I won't get into specifics because I don't want to seem like I'm taking cheap shots, but mornblade  has seen a couple like that).

Now, you have to keep in mind that I am a writer.  I understand economizing with the facts or even doing things that don't make sense but keep the plot moving.  This is why I don't feel guilty about Sound Waves.  The series' central mechanic is that discovering your own personal song and being able to sing it enables you to harmonize with the water and you won't drown, you can talk, etc.  Does it make sense?  No.  Do I sweat it?  No.  People buy the origin of Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash.  He was a detective who was knocked unconscious by hard water fumes and woke up with super speed.  The day that makes more sense than Rhapsody and Melody's gig, I'll start sweating it.

One of the titles I'm reading as I organize my books is Marineman from Image Comics.  Three issues so far, I've picked them up but haven't started reading them until now.  I just figured it was an attempt to make the Aquaman concept work (sort of like how Fathom is Aquaman with telekenesis and BEWBS).  However, I stopped at the first page.  Not because it was bad, it actually uses a television interview to bring people up to speed on the science of being underwater (I'm guessing Ian Churchill, the creator/ writer/ artist, dives himself).  But because it mentions something that made me go, "Huh?"  The interviewee mentions the "mammalian dive reflex" and how it's still a part of humans.

This wasn't the first time I'd heard of it.  Movie geeks will recall it came up in James Cameron's The Abyss.  Cameron may be a science nut, but come on.  Movies tell me X-wing fighters fly aerodynamically and make noise in space.  Comic books tell me that gamma radiation doesn't cause cancer but gives you super powers.  Admittedly, you never really know what is made up in movies and what isn't (the "drunken recall" in Beerfest wasn't just a plot device, there is research indicating it's real.  Which just blows me away).  So I wanted something more to go on than that.

Well, a little looking, and what do you know?  There really is such a thing as mammalian diving reflex.  It enables people to survive longer underwater.  The heart rate drops by 10-25% (bradycardia), which preserves oxygen in the bloodstream for other organs.  Next, the capillaries start closing off, first in the fingers, then in the arms and legs, sometimes triggering cramping, to enable more bloodstream oxygen to be available for the brain and heart (peripheral vasoconstriction).  And then, if the dive is really deep, blood shift occurs.  Organ and circulatory walls change so that water and plasma can pass freely through the thoracic cavity, equalizing pressure so the organs aren't crushed.  The alveoli (the air sacs in the lungs) will fill with blood plasma that gets reabsorbed once the subject leaves the pressurized environment.  Scientists studying deep divers have determined this kicks in during a freedive (no tanks) at 300 feet/90 meters.

So, what triggers this?  Water to the face.  Seriously.  The reflex occurs with water that is less than 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) hits the face.  It has to be the face and under 70 degrees, other parts of the body and higher temps don't do shit.  This is why you experience a momentary shock if you splash cold water on your face in the morning to wake up.  It's also the principal behind waterboarding.

So there you have it.  Something in comics that sounds like bullshit but actually isn't.