Monday, May 31, 2010

REVIEW: Kanira Baxter – Chapter One Cruise Ship Hostage Rescue

kanirabaxter-comic-slice Light-hearted, full-throated space opera at its best, The Adventures of Kanira Baxter by Kate Fahr happens to be a comic worth reading between projects, during lunch hour, or in the morning before work. It’s one of those comics with long running, memorable characters and an ongoing plot. The first chapter off with a bang with our merc group showing up uninvited for a cruise—to deal with some other uninvited guests who have started a hijacking coup.

The comic is generated with an interesting 3d program (3DSMAX maybe) and the characters pose and display enough emotion to follow. The eyes are a big wide and large for my aesthetic taste but it grows on you quickly. I do love the sound-effect methods displayed (WOOSH, PEW PEW.) This is a space opera, they do have blasters.

The crew has the requisite team a hard-hitting commander, Kanira, a computer-tech and fighter, Dare, and even an alien who looks a lot like an anthropomorphic mouse. The alien happens to be one of the only species that humanity in this universe has ever met—which is pretty interesting, but more are to come in later chapters as foreshadowing might suggest.

Space ships. Blasters. Aliens. Hijacking in space. The part that makes the first chapter so much fun is the whole mundanity of the exercise. A hijacking is a common experience and cruises are pretty passé when it comes to everyday experience. Of course, the difference is that we’ve got a crew of mercs, we’ve got outer space, and we have some witty back-and-forth.

Those who watch BionicDance’s YouTUBE channel probably hear her voice when we see Kanira talking. She happens to also be the author and she uses her same 3D program to do videos. There’s also some suggestion that there might be a 3D movie coming out; there is a well-cut little trailer for the comic, but I’d really love to see a mini-episode.

Link, via Comic Genesis.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Facebook widgets and gadgetry

Yesterday, I added a wee little Facebook like box to Mill Avenue Vexations hoping to help spike the number of people who like the page on FB. Mostly because it still doesn’t have enough fans to get its own nice looking title.

It’s in the sidebar, and fun enough, two people got added shortly after I put it up! Which is cheerful.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Comic book: The Deal by Kyt Dotson

I am so glad that I can finally announce this. It’s been a long, long time in coming but the Vexations comic book has finally finished the editing stages and proofing so now I can show off a few things about it!

Mill Avenue Vexations: The Deal by Kyt Dotson.

Twelve pages of beautifully rendered artwork by Sanjana Baijnath, with story by Kyt Dotson. They will probably sell around $3 and I’m going to try to get them into some comic book stores around Tempe, we’ll see how that goes. If anyone knows a place that might be interested, contact me and I’ll try to get it figured out.

The story is short, but it revolves around Vex’s usual sleuthing, hunting down a demon, and then taking over a deal—hence the name of the story. As usual, things never go entirely as planned, when dealing with demons, but especially when dealing with Vex Harrow.

Copies will also be available for purchase from this website for a very similar price, and if anyone would like to pay extra to help out with future releases of Vexations I am willing to part with signed copies as usual.

Look forward to this coming out next month if all goes well.


Link, via Mill Avenue Vexations.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Everybody Draw Muhammad Day Videos (Part 3 of 3)

Fallout from the Everybody Draw Muhammad Day has led to Pakistan banning Facebook over the “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” page as well as today banning YouTUBE, Wikipedia, and other sites not for just participating, but actually containing information on the event.


Everybody Draw Muhammad Day Videos (Part 2 of 3)



Everybody Draw Muhammad Day Videos (Part 1 of 3)

Today is 20 May 2010 and thus the First Annual Everybody Draw Muhammad Day. There have been protests against Facebook because they have a group supporting it—even to the point that Pakistan has blocked the entire site from their Internet providers. Censorship is rampant. Altogether a better need to show our solidarity against censorship, that there is no room for the sacred in the congress of free ideas. And while to defend free speech we must sometimes defend scoundrels; but sometimes we must also defend free speech against scoundrels.




Tuesday, May 18, 2010

REVIEW: Wonder City Stories, Jude McLaughlin

For anyone who likes super heroes and days-of-our-lives style drama, this story reviewed over at Web Fiction Guide, Wonder City Stories, might be just the thing for you.

Superhero life has the mundane and profound too, you know

"Young Paranormals Christian Association of Wonder City, working with super powered youth since 1964!"

The parallels between the YMCA and the YPCA tickled the cockles of my heart when I read the first two chapters of this story (And to start when I saw YPCA, I thought of the YMCA. This simply got confirmed straightaway when there's a pool near the YPCA.) I guess I'm just a sucker for four-letter-acronyms. I also play City of Heroes and I like super-powered stories. This may color my review positive somewhat.

I enjoyed following the heroine through her day, coming to the city, and living her life in the strange shadow of her mother. It has all the hallmarks of young adult drama and romance, with some slice-of-life as well. Especially the parts where sometimes as a reader I forgot that our heroine is indeed taller than most.

In my reading I fell in love with the history of the characters as much as the history of their entire society -- the paranormals and their plight.

Readers who want well-rounded drama stretched over believable, and adorable, characters who dwell in a living, breathing world, will find everything they're looking for in this story. There's almost something for everyone. The conversations and scenes trace a lineage of heroism and paranormal lives from the young (in our heroine) to the middle-aged and elderly lifestyles of these magnificent and interesting people.

Link to the review (via “Wonder City Stories” @ Web Fiction Guide.)

Direct link: Wonder City Stories, by Jude McLaughlin.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

First Livingston Parish pagan festival event goes off without a hitch…

…in spite of stupid, inflammatory commentary by local Sheriff’s Office.

Back story for those who don’t know about these proceedings. Livingston Parish is a town in Louisiana through with a particular brand of religious bigotry flows that promulgated a religious ban on fortune telling (the law was taken to court and the town lost.) Now, a group of pagans wanted to run a festival near the city to celebrate their culture and religion and before it happened the Sheriff’s Office felt like making an unprofessional statement weighing in on the celebration:

“A scheduled pagan festival is under the scrutiny of the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office. “Obviously, we don’t like this type of activity, but if they are following all of the laws to the letter of the law, then we can’t do anything about it,” Perry Rushing, chief of operations for the Sheriff’s Office, said Thursday. “We vehemently oppose this type of activity in Livingston Parish.” The pagan festival is scheduled to be held the last four days in May at Gryphon’s Nest Campground Inc. at 19306 Bull Run Road in southeastern Livingston Parish.”

Such terrible depths that law enforcement has fallen when they make statements like this that basically read like tacit permission to groups to go out and hinder, damage, or injure the festival. After making a public statement like this the the Sheriff’s Office would have had a hard time showing that they didn’t fail to do their jobs properly if anyone decides to do so. Perhaps they should stick to their duties—dispensation of the law—in the future and stay out of religious relations.

Well, this statement came along other statements from various religious groups that they would proceed to protest the festival. Including language such as “educating” the visiting pagans about how Christianity feels about them. All well-and-good to me, they’re welcome to bring their education and signs and the visiting pagans are also welcome to show them hospitality and otherwise totally ignore them.

The protestors plan to appear at the end-of-month festival, so still more could unfold from this event; but insofar they’re not organized enough to care about the first, albeit smaller, event.

I enjoy both protests and festivals. I thoroughly enjoy the activism and the interest generated by them; but I am not encouraged by the statement and behavior of their Sheriff’s Office. We’ll keep our eye on them, and hopefully this is simply a gaff and not an outward indication of bad intent on their part.

Link, via The Wild Hunt blog.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

RESPONSE: Is atheism a religion?

In response to “Is Atheism a religion?” by Craig Portwood via

Another non-response to straw man atheism. To quote, "Atheism is the belief that there is nothing in existence that can be called God." No: atheism is a response to the belief claim that gods exist, not a belief claim in itself. In of itself it's a single position on a single claim, this is hardly sufficient to be a religion.

The article really falls apart when the author decides to conflate science and atheism. Unlike atheism, science doesn't have a position on the existence of a god (being an untestable proposition, science as a tool doesn't reply to it and remains both apathetic and agnostic.)

"Other philosophies which hold themselves to be above and beyond religious thought, fit neatly into such a category as religion. Evolutionists for example, fancy themselves to be part of the science community. Even though their position has yet to be proven,(hence it is described as the theory of evolution) they put forth their proposition that life somehow magically appeared as if by random accident."

(1) Science doesn't deal in proof but the collection and modeling of evidence;

(2) The theory of evolution exists to model how the fact of evolution functions; (to see how absurd this statement is replace words with "Gravitationists" and "theory of gravity.")

And the real failure here:

(3) ...the theory of evolution does not postulate how evolving life "appeared" it makes no claims about abiogenesis. To state that it does it to dishonestly misrepresent the theory of evolution.

The author continues to make outright distorted statements about disbelief in gods and other non-related subjects like economics and politics.

After the first failure to honesty research this subject, I decided it wasn't worth my time to continue reading. If a person cannot do the bare minimum of honestly presentation, I don't have time for their propaganda.

Link, via

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Everybody Draw Muhammad Day - May 20th, 2010

COPIED FROM FACEBOOK ===============================

For those of you not already aware of the South Park Muhammad fiasco, I will attempt to enlighten you. If you already know about it, skip to the steps below.

South Park released an excellent episode that displayed the problem with showing Muhammad — you can’t show him or death threats will ensue. The first episode (part one of a two-part show) ended with Muhammad being brought out in a bear costume that didn’t even show his eyes, so that the town of South Park would not be blown up (or so the characters of South Park had hoped). This episode resulted in multiple death threats from Extremist Muslim communities. Comedy Central, the network that airs South Park Episodes, caved to the threats. They suspended the internet version of the episode (this is an episode you can no longer watch on the South Park website) and severely censored the second episode, which was never released online. They also suspended an old episode called “Super Friends” which featured an actual cartoon version of Muhammad. The makers of South Park have issued a public statement saying that they did not authorize the censorship. Comedy Central still has not issued any comment on the matter.

Comedy Central’s fear is not unwarranted. Several people who have drawn and displayed images of Muhammad or criticized Islam have received the same death threats. Some went into hiding, others were murdered. Theo Van Gogh, a film director who produced a documentary criticizing Islam’s treatment of women, was one of the murder victims. Photos of his body were used to threaten Comedy Central. This represents one of the worst forms of censorship I have seen — because of its international scale. It isn’t being perpetrated by any one government; it is being perpetrated by murderous extremist groups who reach around the globe to kill anyone who offends them. It’s time this murderous censorship came to an end. That’s why the International Draw Muhammad Day meme was started.

Our plan is to spread the images of Muhammad around the internet in order to send a message to these murderous extremists. We must all tell them that we will not be silenced. They can’t tell us what we can or can’t say, or who we can or can’t draw. Censorship cannot take all of us down.

The way this will work:

1. Everyone who receives this must spread the word. Post it on your blog, write a note or bulletin, make a journal entry, send e-mails to everyone in your address book, make a youtube video talking about it, whatever it takes. That way, if one of us is taken out, there will still be millions more who are spreading the word.

2. Draw Muhammad. You don’t have to be an artist. Draw a stick figure, a smiley face, whatever you can. Those who use different media in their artwork can show Muhammad differently (sculptures, carvings, whatever)

3. Photograph or scan in this artwork, in an internet-compatible file type.

4. On May 20, post it in all the places where you told people about the event. Make sure it’s posted in as many places as possible, so that it can’t be censored away.

And that’s all there is to it. By participating in this, you will take a stand for free speech. You will stand up for the rights of every person around the world. Murderous extremists will not rule over what we say and what we draw. We will not be silenced!!!

Link to the Facebook page:

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

REVIEW: Spots the Space Marine, M.C.A. Hogarth

Spots the Space Marine has received some well deserved acclaim over at the Web Fiction Guide. I’ve been reading it this week and it’s certainly shaping up to be a story worth the time of any space opera loving sci-fi geek.

Intriguing, bite sized slices of life from the front lines

War. War never changes.

Except maybe when your squad happens to be named Team Kitty and your callsign sounds slightly silly to remain thematically prudent.

The prose of “Spots the Space Marine” is spartan almost laconic, but the mood comes across loud-and-clear. It reads generally like a radio-play; but retains the solid impact of a heftier work. The presentation forces the reader to instead invent their own voice for each of the characters and imagine themselves into the situation that narrates itself from the screen. The chapters are also so short they can be read in a bite—a style allowing the entire series to be grazed casually, episode at a time, or swallowed in a huge handful as time permits.

Spots presents herself as a likable person, yanked out of her comfort zone and thrust into a war zone. A woman among the war. The story then plays out in the conversation space between Spots and other marines. Their voices resonate, with hers playing the following melody of the narrative. Spots isn’t your normal marine. She’s also a mom. A fact that makes her something different, something familiar yet out of the ordinary to read about.

The part of the story that really began to hook me, however—like any proper sci-fi geek—happens to be the aliens. Not just aliens: bugs. The introduction suggests that the insectoid aliens have brought technology and know-how to humanity to aid them in their upcoming war against invader xeno bugs; but the first time that one of the friendly xenos appears in the story happens to be during a vignette titled “The Violinist,” where one gets an introduction to Spots. I have a soft spot for aliens and xeno racial epithets (like the piggies from Ender’s Game.) The friendly xenos here get to be the “fiddlers.”

The hardcore sci-fi reader and drama aficionado alike will find something to like about “Spots the Space Marine.”

Link to the review (via “Spots the Space Marine” @ Web Fiction Guide.)

Direct link: Spots the Space Marine, by M.C.A. Hogarth.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Bad behavior by LoveASU and Urbanevangie on Mill Ave

kazz-in-urbanevangie-photo Friday and Saturday, Mill Avenue becomes a collusion of community and audience, making every street corner into a forum. Striking upon this, numerous minds find them irresistible for promoting their arts, religious opinions, politics, and ideas. Mill becomes brightened for every person who does this.

So when I found an article posted at about when they teamed up with LoveASU to speak, prance, and be merry on Mill Ave, I figured there’d be a good place to see something interesting unfold. The event took place Friday, April 23rd 2010 right out in front of the US Post Office on Mill.

We started the night off by sharing the gospel via mic a few times. From there we let the Love ASU crew have a go at the mic. Between our group and Love ASU, the Christians totalled in at about 40 people! We were able to use that amount of people as an advantage, to form a crowd. As people passed by in the streets they quickly joined the large group, curious as to what was going on. We rotated on the mic for about an hour and a half. Anything and everything was shared, from testimonies, poems, skits, spoken word, scripture reading, etc.” (via

The interesting thing that struck me about this article is how most of the black & white photographs contain a person who I know and recognize: Kazz. His person—or at least his equipment and display—show visible in every single photo. The narrative spoken by the photographs silhouettes a hollow in the very content of the article; while Kazz and his happen to be visible in the photos, he remained entirely invisible to the article’s writer.

Kazz is part of a protest group who provide a response to religious opinions on Mill Ave: The Mill Avenue Resistance. If these photographs reflect reality and his loudspeaker and he happened to be near the epicenter of this forum of religious opinion, he wouldn’t have been so silent as to have no impact. The lack of acknowledgement in the article itself is baffling; although the blatant bias makes a short explanation as to why this might be the case.

An interview with Kazz, however, reveals the side of the story deliberately left out by the Urbanevangie writer. A story of bad acts perpetrated by both Urbanevangie and LoveASU; a tale of breaking the understanding of basic decency in a public commons and forum. LoveASU’s place in this story may still be ambiguous; they have no history with Mill and may well be dupes in this trite little play. The manipulated hand puppets of a more sinister hand, but I think that if they want to be good members of the Mill Ave public they should earn up to their part in this.

When Kazz and Kayleigh arrived at the scene, the LoveASU and Urbanevangie groups had already set up their thing over to the side and Kazz let them be. As the crowd expanded, he spoke to a man identified as James, who I believe is a member of LoveASU, about giving up some time to the other group in the commons. A proper concession of the forum which did not get honored appropriately.

At one point, LoveASU even approached The Resistance about using their amplification. The reason being that LoveASU had some singers with a greater range than their own speakers could handle appropriately; Kazz accepted and allowed them to use his equipment for a time so that the singers could be heard in their full flavor.

As the night wore on the LoveASU and Urbanevangie group began fielding members to speak life stories. Kazz explains that at first he went to wait for a break in the speeches, trying intermittently to speak between speakers; but as they started going the varied speakers began to roll smoothly, making no break between persons taking up the microphone. Even going so far as to deliberately ignore Kazz and Kayleigh—even with the common’s compromise on the table with James.

Eventually fed up with this behavior, Kazz waited until one speaker had finished and hit the button on some loud music. “I’m sick and tired of hearing things from uptight, short sighted, narrow minded hypocrites. All I want is the truth. Just gimme some truth.” (Lennon, “Gimmie Some Truth”.) According to Kazz, with the volume set high enough to encumber the next speaker LoveASU and Urbanevangie were forced to acknowledge their presence and assented to James’s earlier promise to give them time to speak.

Both Kazz and Kayleigh indict Phil, a member of Urbanevangie, for this bad behavior. Both replied during my interview that he appeared to have taken over pushing speakers to their microphone, doing so in such a fashion so deliberately saturate the forum as to deliberately disallow and disrupt any reply. From my reading of the article on the Urbanevangie website, which carefully ignores their scrape with the Resistance it’s easy to see that they see no need to defend or even outline their actions.

LoveASU and Urbanevangie clean up your act. When you approach our community in this fashion, when you deliberately close out others who have equal place in the commons because you have greater numbers, then in this you become bullies.

I expect that if either of you make numbers again on our Mill Ave that you will reconcile this problem with your conduct and act to better our public commons and not pollute it with your bad manners.