Her-r-r-r-e’s Negan!

Ann Ghoulter - Super-Sized

No, this is not Negan!

Well, season 6 of The Walking Dead played last night and things went about as I expected. That’s right, I said things went about as I expected as far as the cliffhanger goes – and the infantile bitching that went on afterwards on the internet. I read the comic, so I’ve known for a long time what happens and who dies, not that it will play out the same way on the TV show. But, because I feel like it needs to be said, GLENN dies in the comic!! Negan takes Lucille and gives ol’ Glenn the Irreversible fire extinguisher treatment. (Watch the movie if you don’t know what I mean. There are scenes in it that will burn in your memory). There! Deal with it!

And because I think the whiners need some conspiracy theory about who dies in the TV version, how about Norman Reedus, since he’s getting his own Guy Fieri-type show a la Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives that will involve motorcycle culture. Could that be a bone AMC threw at him for killing him off? Before any noses get out of joint over this, no, I don’t believe that either, nor do I care about anything to do with people who ride Harleys and wish they were Sam Elliot. “The Dude abides.”

But, seriously, I have never seen such a bunch of whiny, self-entitled, bitches as I saw last night complaining about how Robert Kirkman and Scott Gimple ended the season. If you think The Walking Dead is boring, you either have never read the comic and don’t understand the pacing of the story, will accept nothing less than instant gratification (fuck storytelling!), or have ADHD. Whatever the case, you need to watch something else and STFU.

And for those who think a cliffhanger ending was some kind of “gimmick”, oh, so sorry you weren’t good enough or brave enough or ambitious enough to get your own spot at the writer’s table. Whining is so much easier, right? And it takes much less talent (practically non-existent!). There is no way the fanboys were going to be pleased, no matter how the season ended: it was either end the show as it was last night and listen to the bitching or show who got killed and listen to the bitching. So what did Kirkman and Gimple do? Whatever they wanted to move the story along as they saw fit. After all, Robert Kirkman CREATED the comic, so he’s entitled to do that.

A word of advice to those who still need the diaper change: it’s a good show – one of the best shows on television right now – and the comic leads where the show goes. Enjoy it and be grateful that you have it.

CorporateSpeak™: Pre-Viz and the Language of the Unthinking

CorporateSpeakCorporateSpeak™ is my series in which I rant about the misuse or the general idiocy of language as it exists in our United States of America. Occasionally I will pick on the British, but CorporateSpeak™ is an American problem engendered by marketing departments, ad agencies, and opinionated nitwits. If you suffer from any of the symptoms I bring to light in this series, seek immediate remedial English grammar, vocabulary, and thought-process treatment. This is a much-needed public service.

        Have you ever “pre-ordered” an item, whether it is a Blu-Ray movie, a music CD, or a video game? Have you ever purchased a package of “pre-shredded” shredded cheese? Have you ever “pre-visualized” something? That would be impossible, wouldn’t it – you either visualize it or you don’t. Yet, these are examples of the terminology that is creeping ever-insidiously into our lexicon of blather: CorporateSpeak™. (I haven’t really trademarked it, it just looks funny like that – and corporate)

        As with the “re-” words, whose time of disparagement will come from me in time, the “pre-” words are the insipid little enticements that delude one into thinking that something is being gained before anyone else; there is a sense of entitlement – a “specialness” – using such words creates in the minds of the unknowing and uncaring that are perfect for the grift and spin of the advertising world. They just want your money any way they can get it and you’re all suckers for falling for their ad campaigns to generate “hype”.

        “Pre-visualization” is a Hollywood-word that comes out of the filmmaking industry, particularly the computer graphics (CG) aspect of it. Pre-visualization, or “pre-viz”, as it’s called by those who can’t exist without creating acronyms or abbreviations (because how could we exist if we had to be polysyllabic?), is something akin to a motion storyboard for directors. What pre-viz really boils down to is directors not having the cojones to just go with their vision – so they have to “pre-visualize” to see if it will look good. Get it? On the surface, it seems a good way for a newbie to avoid shooting mistakes. To me, it seems a way to waste studio budgets on uncertainty. If a director isn’t confident enough is his/her own “vision” why piss money away on their “pre-vision”? Get a better director! God knows Hollywood could use some right about now!

        “But what’s wrong with ‘pre-ordering’ a video game?”, you may ask. The simple answer is: you are ORDERING the game! Whether or not the game is in-stock is irrelevant. Whether the game has been released or not is IRRELEVANT! You are doing no more than anyone who purchases that game on the shelves of GameStop or BestBuy on the day of release. I know – I purchased World of Warcraft with no problem at all and I didn’t have to order, reserve, or “pre-order” anything! You are just ordering the item, there is no need to say you are “pre-ordering” it!. It’s just a stupid term concocted by stupid people for the masses who won’t even think twice about how stupid it is. Why am I now visualizing a shark feeding frenzy? No “pre-viz” needed for that!

        And “pre-shredded” shredded cheese? Yes, I’ve seen that term used by someone who thought they were oh-so smart and thrifty and informative. I was very tempted to ask them just in what state is the cheese in its “pre-shredded” shredded form? It seems to me that it would be… a block of cheese – not shredded at all!

        “Why,” you may ask, “didn’t you call out this person’s illogic?” Because, contrary to popular belief or original intent, internet forums are not the place to “exchange” ideas. Those who go to comment sections to change hearts and minds are on fool’s errands. So, I yip here. You read, you agree or change your mind; you don’t, whose fault is that? Make a case or get to thinking. And I think the lack of thinking is why people fall for the lure of CorporateSpeak™.

        So let me wind this up with my favorite – relatively speaking – of the “pre-” words: pre-owned. A pre-owned car is a used car. Say that to yourself again and again if you have any doubts about that. A PRE-OWNED car is a USED car! There is even a local car dealer who is trying to make the case for a pre-owned car being somehow different than a used car by depicting a used car as junky. Let me set the record straight. A “pre-owned” car is a used car (your mileage may vary) that generally has some type of nifty warranty attached to it. That’s it! The reality is that the car dealerships want you to believe that a warranty somehow makes a used car not a used car! Any dealership who would sell junk cars as used should be run out of business, so the whole “pre-owned” nonsense doesn’t even make any difference. Just as with “pre-order”, it is an irrelevant term. But they suffer from the “perception is reality” axiom that marketing nitwits have foisted on us; the perception that “pre-owned” is different than a used car is just a blatant lie, I don’t care who you are or what you’re selling. If I buy a car “as is”, then I get what I’ve paid for with eyes wide open, but don’t tell me a pre-owned car is anything other than a used car. Because the reality is that it isn’t.

        It’s all well and good that marketers and television infomercial hucksters want to sell you things you don’t need and try to sex it up with contrived buzzwords in the hopes of making a sale, but that doesn’t mean we have to adopt their idiotic verbiage into our everyday language. Think before you open your mouth or write your comment or blog article. The world of the internet is one of graphics and video that still, as much as human communications ever did, depends on the well-crafted and written word. Don’t believe me? Go out and look at the train wreck with new eyes.

No Copyright Infringement Intended

“No copyright infringement intended.” This has to be the stupidest misuse of a legal term in existence and you will find it all over YouTube; I know I have, usually accompanied by a blather of “fair use” verbiage. When an entire album of music or a DVD of somebody’s concert is uploaded to YouTube, it’s not “fair use,” it is a copyright violation. No one on YouTube has the right to upload that stuff, but there is a profusion of material that’s there for the taking. And by taking, I mean downloading without paying a cent for the music or DVD. WTF, YouTube?

Probably the most depressing aspect of all this is the dimwits who do this and think they are protecting themselves from something by posting all that legalese that they likely cut and pasted from Wikipedia, which adds several levels of irony on top of all this. Nevertheless, this is piracy, folks. This is what it looks like: innocuous, harmless, well-intended. Just because the true copyright holders don’t pursue legal action doesn’t mean that the uploading of the material is legal. This echoes the old corporate saw about “it’s only illegal if you get caught.” No harm, no foul, right?

I can appreciate fans of musical groups wanting to share the music they love — heck, I’ve even done some really horrible cover tunes that I wouldn’t blame the songwriters for wanting to have taken down. But when someone takes a video, album, or DVD performance and illegally reproduces it, that’s stealing — no exceptions unless the copyright holder gives permission. To rationalize that the musician “has already made their money on it” is to unjustifiably insert oneself into determining at just what point said musician has made enough money that their rights to their own work no longer apply. No one on YouTube, or anywhere else, has that right.

Because there will always be a contingent of people out there who are too lazy and cheap to be bothered to do the right thing, the attempts to legislate against this will continue. SOPA, anyone? Unfortunately, the copyright holders are just as much to blame for this problem because if they don’t bother to defend their copyrights against illegal use, they weaken the power of copyright for all the rest of us. If what goes on on YouTube becomes acceptable, what copyright protection is there really? YouTube and those other social media outlets have to take responsibility for what they engender and enforce their own EULA and TOS agreements. If they don’t, then it is all just so much “fair use” blather.

*To add to this topic, in the November 8 article about my less-than-serious name change for the Redskins, I used a photo gleaned from a 1966 Sports Illustrated issue, properly attributing the photo to its photographer.  Of course, I did not pay for its use, but at what point can you illustrate a specific aspect of a topic without having to pay for it just to have the conversation?  I would be interested in the viewpoint from Sports Illustrated on this and if it would result in a cease-and-desist notice.

ATC-381

ATC-381, I saw what you did.  I couldn’t help it, I was stuck in traffic behind your crappy, maroon import, driving way below the speed limit, as I watched car after car pass, steaming in my frustration at your stupidity.

There you were, with your hair in some kind of “up-do”, chatting away to your girlfriend.  You were gesturing wildly as you drove oh so slowly; it was a wonder you remembered to press the accelerator.  It must have been so important, you were so engaged and so unaware of what you were doing.

We just kept slogging along.  The bauble you had hanging from your rear-view mirror marked the time of my boredom as it swung so slowly.  Everything about your car was slow – but not you!  No, ATC-381, you were frenetic with barely an eye on the road.  You were lucky that you didn’t have to stop for anyone in front of you, but, then, there wasn’t anyone in front of you.  Every car that passed made sure it was well ahead of you.  Maybe you planned it that way.  If my eyes could shoot lasers, your bobbling head would be on fire!

But I saw what you did, ATC-381, as we approached the intersection where my reprieve from your vacuous chit-chat was promised by the right turn lane I got into – finally, I was free of you!  The signal light would catch you, ATC-381, and you would pay for your slowness as it burned a bright yellow amidst the busy bustle of traffic.  I saw that you weren’t stopping and you weren’t speeding up; you just kept going, slowly, slowly.  You just kept going and talking and continuing on.  I saw it, ATC-381, the light was long red by this time – it wasn’t even close.  And then it happened…

You went right into that intersection ATC-381.  I saw it.  I saw that car that had waited patiently to make that left turn as the traffic passed in a long line of indifferent obstruction.  I saw it.  I saw the car.  I saw the light.  But not you.  You just kept going unaware… and that car started to turn…

How did you make that little swerve at the last second as that car slammed on its brakes?  You didn’t even touch your brakes, you just made that little cut of the wheel that delivered you from a reward you justly earned.  You just kept going as if you were in perpetual motion, not caring, as if the rules don’t apply to you.  You just kept going, you didn’t pause, probably didn’t even thank your lucky stars.  As I sat, waiting to make my turn, I saw you drive off in your insular bubble of self-importance.  Do you even know the danger you represented?  Do you care?  I saw what you did, ATC-381.  I saw it all.  I saw that someone saved you.  Will you be so lucky next time?  There will be a next time, won’t there?

Vikings’ New Uniforms: It Could Have Been Worse

from vikings.com

from vikings.com

I suppose I have to write this article because of all my screeching about how I despised the uniforms the Vikings had been wearing since 2006.  So, after much draft watching and snark about Chris Kluwe, I decided to sit down and tap out my opinion.  As the title suggests, what Nike did to the new uniforms could have been worse… much worse.

That doesn’t get Nike off the hook, though.  The whole hoo-ha they’re pitching about the numbers recalling the prow of a Viking longship… please.  The numbers are so similar to what is being done with Washington State that it is a stretch to even call what they’ve done an original concept. This is just regurgitation of an already existing form being passed off as something it’s not. By the way, Nike needs to seriously do some research into what the prow of a Viking longship really looked like; what they have looks more like the bow of a john-boat.

©Nike

©Nike

from vikings.com

  Also look at the consistency of the effect over the different numbers: the distortion doesn’t work as well with a “7” as it does with an “8”.  Also, the mixing of rounded-corner numbers with hard-angle numbers doesn’t make any design sense. This is why I like well-constructed block numbers: they are readable and the letter weight holds up.  Plus Nike removed the gold trim on the numbers and that is a mistake.

from Nikeblog.com

from Nikeblog.com

The stripes on the pants, while going all the way to the waist, are still very reminiscent of the wide stripe-thin stripe thing that’s going on with UConn.

ADwhite

from vikings.com

I like that there is a purple version of the pants, but having them and wearing them consistently are two different things.  Even though I hate Van Brocklin eternally for calling the Vikings “a bunch of Easter eggs” during their infamous all-purple game against Detroit, the purple jerseys with the purple pants is just not a good look – unless you’re my North Alabama Lions winning NCAA D-II championships.  Thank you, Ronald McKinnon and company!

ADhelmet

Lastly, I generally don’t like this matte helmet fad that has been created, but I like it for the Vikings’ helmets… and it is a ZILLION times better than this horrible gradated look Jacksonville or the U. of Arkansas have on their helmets.  There is not a worse look for headgear, but the giant stripes of Ohio State are a close second.  Sadly, even though the horn looks bigger, it is the same misbegotten cartoony garbage that came with the 2006 redesign.  The Vikings needed to keep that horn the same way Ragnar needed a remake (I’m being subtle and restrained here). And black facemasks? Really? Is there a designer out there who doesn’t feel the need to artificially inject the color black into every team’s color palette?

So, on a scale of 1 to 10, the new Vikings uniforms get a grade of “meh”, because I don’t do number grades.  The cuts of the jerseys continue to be ridiculous. Despite the Nike verbiage, these uniforms are not reminiscent of the original uniforms nor do they resemble them in any way, save that they are purple and gold. These uniforms are really the confirmation of Nike’s view that you can’t go “old school” (a vomitous term if there ever was one) and look cool – and they just don’t know how wrong they are.  Apparently they have a problem recognizing that a “modernizing” of a traditional look is actually a departure. I expected to not be impressed with the new uniforms and Nike did not let me down in that regard. The saving grace is that Adrian Peterson had input into the new look, so if what he’s wearing makes the MVP happy, that’s fine with me!

In Which I Yap About Football Uniforms – Again… (and Marketing and Social Media…Again)

"Man, these uni's are awful.  We look like idiots."From "The Brady 6".  ©ESPN

“Man, these uni’s are awful. We look like idiots.”
From “The Brady 6”. ©ESPN

Of all the things Tom Brady may do as a NFL player, that quote may be the best – at least for me, a Vikings fan.  Brady doesn’t rationalize his opinion, he states it as he states the obvious: what currently passes as innovative design is crap.  Why am I going on about this topic again?  Because, as a Vikings fan, I am aware that the Vikings are set to reveal their newest new uniforms and the social media blitz is ridiculous.

These are the current uniforms that I have hated since the first time I laid eyes on them:

Photo: Rich Gabrielson/Icon SMI

Yeah, the Cardinals uniforms suck, too!
Photo: Rich Gabrielson/Icon SMI

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The Rams uniforms do not suck!
Photo: John Biever/SI

These uniforms reek of somebody trying too hard.  I believe Reebok was the offender in this case.  Their design team (I’m guessing this cluelessness was a team effort) tried to incorporate the horn element from the helmet into all aspects of the uniform, from the ill-fitted shoulders to down the side of the pants with an embarrassing bit of gold piping thrown in for bad measure.  They even changed the horn on the helmet to give it a “3-D element”, as Zygi Wilf described it.  That was an unforgivable crime!  They were touted in much the same way as these newest new uniforms are being marketed, except without the inevitable Facebook/Twitter/blah, blah, blah… social media integration that makes me want to vomit.  They even had a fashion show of the new uniforms that reminded me of a scene out of Slapshot, “I’m gonna wiggle it at ’em!”  These new uniforms happened all the way back in 2006!  Considering that the team wore essentially the same uniform for 34 years before changing to their mid-90s look and went with that for ten years, of course it’s time to change again!  The only thing I liked about the 90s and the current uniform is that they corrected the shapes of the numbers and put the gold trim around them again – and that’s the only thing I liked.

The thing for me is this: a good look is a good look, it doesn’t matter when that look came out.  Try as they might and as simple a design as it is, neither Nike nor anyone else is going to out-design the best look the Vikings had and that was the one they started with:

PPE

from neilleifer.com

And as an added bonus, somebody must have been reading my mind when they drew this one out:

new-whites

From ssur.org

It’s a little different from the original purple pants, but it’s better and it needs to happen!

And let’s make it clear what the helmet needs to look like:

Clint Jones' helmet.Photo: vsaauctions.com

Clint Jones’ helmet.
Photo: vsaauctions.com

So, the cynic in me looks at this redesign of the uniform as a non-verbal admission that the current uniforms were not good and that the funding for the new stadium (Vikings don’t need no stinkin’ roof!) is not going well or as promised and the jersey-buying completist must be fleeced. Yep, this is the era of the quick-buck merchandising con because the league wouldn’t be viable if the Cardinal didn’t look tougher, or the Lion fiercer, or if Pat the Patriot didn’t turn into Elvis, or if Ragnar wasn’t squashed and drawn on with a Sharpie!

As I await the April 25th releasing of the Kraken, I have my expectations low but my fingers crossed that out of the current wave of eyesore uniforms in the NFL (I’m looking at you, Seattle, and my eyes hurt!), the Vikings get something that doesn’t look like some designer was jerking off trying to be “innovative”; we already have that and it fails.  While I can’t respect Packers fans for calling the Vikings “Viqueens” or saying they have a sperm on their helmets, I can respect the Packers for never straying too far from the uniforms in which the Packer tradition was created.  Tradition is part of what makes a franchise great, not the flash-in-the-pan disasters that clothing manufacturers crank out to make a quick excessively-priced buck.

There’s a saying that your first impulse is usually correct.  I think that works in this case.  It’s time the Vikings get their uniforms back the way they’re supposed to be and then put a team on the field that will live up to the tradition of Vikings championship football.

James Montgomery is a freelance illustrator/graphic designer in real life.  If you would like to see him play one on TV, submit your requests here.  Only serious applications will be considered.  😛

WTF Driving

Right-On-Red

©2013 James Montgomery Studios

This is about driving and driving I have observed.  No, sorry, this isn’t an entry extolling the virtues of getting the slowpokes out of the left lane.  Yes, the slowpokes and the mesmerized should get out of the left lane, but that is an argument too often made by those who want some version of an American autobahn and don’t give a damn about speed limits.  I am not on-board with those folks.  I favor following the law – especially speed limits – and if a state has a “slow traffic to the right” rule, similar to the German autobahn fahr rechts custom, then that should be observed.  However a passing lane is not a drive-however-the-hell-fast-you-want lane.

This isn’t about that.

This is about “right on red”.

Now, to take you back on this subject, from my personal experience, I will tell you that I grew up in the rather smallish town of Florence, Alabama.  For what the town lacks in population or economic opportunities, it more than makes up for in traffic lights.  I first took notice of the “right on red” signs in the late 60’s in Florence.  It was a rather novel idea that someone could stop at the light and, if the way was clear, go ahead and turn right against the red.  I didn’t know how many other cities had this rule, but it wasn’t a universally accepted concept, so there were signs hanging from the power lines at each intersection where “right on red” was permitted.

Over time, the idea that one could turn on any red, providing it was safe to do so, caught on and there was no problem that I ever saw in doing that.  In fact, the use of the “right on red” sign was no longer needed – people understood the concept – and the signs were now being used to tell drivers when it was not permitted.  “Right on red” had done a 180° turn from the days when it was a curious privilege.

Now to the present day and driving in my current residence of Florence, South Carolina (funny how that Florence-to-Florence thing works in social situations!).  I didn’t think much about driving or drivers when I first moved to South Carolina until I saw my driving insurance rates.  You see, Florence, Alabama, had the reputation of having one of the highest insurance rates in the state.  Whether that was true or not was irrelevant because there is a collection of really bad drivers there.  Imagine my surprise when I saw that my insurance rate went up upon my arrival in South Carolina!  How could the driving be worse?

Well, the driving isn’t worse, but I have noticed an occurrence that happens with disturbing frequency: too many people here don’t seem to get the whole “right on red” thing!  I mean drivers will just sit there, blinker flashing (which is unusual in itself), no traffic coming from the other direction, and they will just sit there!  Sometimes giving them the horn doesn’t faze them!  What the hell is going on with these folks?  I could understand (somewhat) if the drivers were old, but they aren’t; these are people who grew up with “right on red” and should know better than what they are doing.  I don’t know if they are too chicken to stick their necks out there or distracted drivers playing with their phones when they should be paying attention, but it’s selfish behavior and it pisses me off!  If you are on the road, you have an obligation to drive the way you’re supposed to drive.  If you are at a red light turning right and the way is clear, GO!  There is no excuse.

I’ve been to Spain, Japan, South Korea, and various places in the U.S. and bad driving is a worldwide phenomenon (I think Russians take the prize, though!)  The thing that gets under my skin about this is that it is just so damn unnecessary.  If you’re going to drive, don’t be stupid!  There are enough problems with driving that you don’t have to start creating situations that will just waste time and raise tempers.  If these drivers don’t understand the concept of “right on red”, what else about driving do they not understand?  I really don’t want to find out.