Monthly Archives: March 2007

Marvel Tragedy in Wake of Civil War

Death of Captain AmericaMany people predicted either Iron Man (Tony Stark) or Captain America (Steve Rogers) would die in the final throws of Civil War. When the concluding issue #7 came and went with Cap’ surrendering and becoming imprisoned, I believed these two Marvel icons had both dodged death. Shockingly, it came in an epilogue issue of Civil War, Captain America #25 (volume 5). Captain America was assassinated.

Ed Brubaker delivers this tragic event in an equally stunning and touching manor that remains true to the character of Captain America. As Cap’ is being led into the courthouse to be arraigned for his crimes in violation of the Super-Hero Registration Act, he is shot in the back by a sniper. Amazingly, Cap’ spots the sniper before being shot and turns himself into the shot, seemingly protecting the guards escorting him. However, one bullet would not take down this super soldier.

As the crowd scatters, his friend and recent lover Sharon Carter steps from the crowd. She is there working secretly with Nick Fury and Winter Soldier in hopes of avoiding something like this. As she gets to Cap’ we see him shot three times to the stomach from close range. We are left unsure of the shooter at this point. Later we learn Dr. Faustus has manipulated through some sort of hypnotism, Sharon to have pulled the trigger and killed Captain America. When she learns this, Brubaker makes her pain palpable.

Interesting to note in this, is a brief moment of history relating to Captain America. As far as I know, he is one of the first major super heros who was clearly killed, then revived years later. He died in World War 2, but was found by the Avengers frozen in a block of ice. The modern character of Cap’ has repeatedly used this plot point of a man out of time. Since then, it’s almost become a cliche that you can’t really kill anyone for long. The list of characters who have died and been reborn is extensive: Jean Grey, Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Vision, Winter Soldier, Colossus, Elektra, Punisher, Professor X, Angel, Wonder Man, Thor, Human Torch, Captain Marvel, Green Goblin, need I go on? Usually Marvel will wait for a writer change, a major story line, or a big crossover before they come up with some low percentage explanation that allows the revival of a beloved character.

Captain America Not Dead?With this death, they haven’t even bothered to wait a week before laying the ground work to bring Steve Rogers back from the dead. In the Civil War: The Initiative one-shot, Brian Michael Bendis delivers a scene where Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) and Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) come into conflict. Spider-Woman is still unregistered and opposing the act. Ms. Marvel tries to convince Spider-Woman to take the pardon and come in. The hurt from Cap’s death is clearly still to near the surface for Jessica and she lays the blame square on the shoulders of Tony Stark. It is at the point that Ms. Marvel states that Steve Rogers is not dead. She says: “He’s tucked away safe on The Raft. No one knows. No one. They’re trying to save his life even as we speak.” When asked how this is possible she retorts: “What am I? A super-soldier serum expert? He’s not dead!” However, Marvel has issued this statement: “Comments from Ms. Marvel in this week’s Civil War: The Initiative, which seemed to indicate that Captain America is still alive, and being held prisoner by the Pro-Registration forces may not have been exactly what they seemed on the surface, and events related to those comments will play out in upcoming issues of New Avengers.” I still think this leaves a nice wide opening to resurrect Steve Rogers whenever it is necessary, my prediction, right before the 2009 Captain America movie hits theaters.

But “Captain America” is not in fact dead, Steve Rogers is. With the clear foreshadowing they did in Civil War #7 by having Frank Castle (The Punisher) take Captain America’s mask, most definitely this will be the guy to wear the red, white, and blues real soon. Throughout Civil War, it was shown repeatedly how much Frank respects and admires Steve Rogers. This is a story line with a lot of potential and is destined to stir interesting controversy in the Marvel Universe.

Civil War #7 - Punisher to Become New Captain America?

On a final note, I love when comic book events are large enough to gain attention of traditional media reporting, but it is annoying to find out about events like this before you read them. Sadly I had this story spoiled for me less than a day after it happened and my copy of the book had not yet arrived…

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A Look at Joost

joostJenny recently hooked me up with a much coveted Joost account. Sadly I do not have any invitations yet, and there is a long list of people who have already asked me for one, you know who you are…

I was initially frustrated by the lack of client for MacOS-PPC, since this is the machine running in my living room, hooked to my TV. With that aside, I downloaded the client onto my Windows Vista laptop, where it initially also would not run. Luckily, with Vista all you need to do is jump through a few hoops. Here’s what you do:

  1. Right click on the shortcut, select properties.
  2. On the compatibility tab, un-check everything, except “Run as administrator”, this must be checked.
  3. Then click “Show settings for all users”, and do the same here.
  4. At this point you should be set to run Joost!

After the initial frustration of getting it running somewhere, I started to appreciate the potential here. In general, it runs pretty smoothly, the quality is surprisingly good for on demand web video. I think it is head and shoulders above the quality of YouTube or Google Video, probably comparable to VHS.

At the moment, the content is a bit limited, although I did watch the Green Day: American Idiot concert, which was very cool. I was extremely happy with the interface. I believe the channel based delivery of content will be familiar and intuitive to the general public who is familiar with cable TV.

My one final complaint would be the advertisement placement. It seems like the software just randomly decides to insert commercials from time to time, which I am OK with, but it doesn’t have any intelligence for deciding when to cut in. For example, I say a stupid Maybelline ad twice, both time in the middle of a song. I think this will work out in time, but just an insiders view of what’s wrong in the beta from my perspective…

american idiot, google, google video, green day, joost, macosx, Maybelline, video, web, windows vista, youtube, television

MySQL Performance Blogs

MySQL LogoI’ve recently been doing a lot of work with performance tuning in MySQL. Here are a few blogs that I have found highly useful by people who are involved in some of the most serious MySQL based projects on the internet.

Peter Zaitsev and Vadim Tkachenko: MySQL Performance Blog

Zaitsev used to work as manager of High Performance Group at MySQL. Now he and Tkachenko run a consultant business specializing in high performance MySQL. He is common on the presentation circuit and has made his presentations all available. Tkachenko worked as a performance and scalability engineer under Zaitsev at MySQL. This blog contains great benchmarking and deep understanding of the MySQL infrastructure.

Domas Mituzas: Vaporware, Inc

Mituzas currently works for MySQL and is responsible for much of the scaling and performance tuning for Wikipedia. He also worked to make WordPress much more efficient in the latest versions. His blog has some examples and tips for scaling and performance tuning. Since he has such solid real world experience with Wikipedia, these examples and explanations are truly invaluable to understanding how to work with MySQL in amazingly efficient ways.

Jeremy Zawodny: Jeremy Zawodny’s blog

Zawodny works at Yahoo and is responsible for the amazing MySQL administration tool mytop. When it comes to MySQL, Zawodny is likely the best recognized name. He also wrote the O’Reilly book, High Performance MySQL. He also has some informative presentations available, but they are definitely starting to become dated.

If anyone else knows of great MySQL blogs, specifically that apply to performance tuning, scaling, and optimization, please let me know.

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Spider-Man 3: NBC.com Exclusive HD Preview

If you don’t like to know much about upcoming movies and truly appreciate the surprise and enjoyment of seeing things for the first time in the theater, stop reading now.

NBC.com is running an exclusive HD preview of Spider-Man 3. The catch is that it will only be online until 12AM tonight! (Of course then you’ll just have to look for it on YouTube or Google video…) This is more of a clip, or full scene than a preview. It is a full 7m 31s long clip that shows three major scenes and then ends with a few short clips in preview style.

First it starts with Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson hanging out in a web expressing their love for each other. This then cuts to a scene with Peter telling Aunt May his intentions to ask MJ to marry him. Aunt May tells a touching story of how here and Ben met, as well as the fact that they would have been married 50 years if he had not been killed. She then gives Peter her engagement ring to give MJ.

Aunt May's Ring

This then cuts to Peter on his scooter where he is attacked by the new Green Goblin. After throwing him around quite a bit, the Goblin removes his mask, revealing Harry Osborn, and tells Peter he is going to kill him. Peter argues that he did not kill Harry’s father Norman and the chase begins.

Harry as Green Goblin

This fight continues for a majority of the preview. The fight is particularly brutal. At one point Peter nearly loses Aunt May’s ring, but is able to fight off Harry long enough to get it back. At this point Harry starts pulling out some of his special goblin weapons.

Goblin Weapons

Peter is able to use them back against him and catches Harry off guard. He finally gets enough distance between himself and Harry to setup a clothesline of webbing to surprise and takedown Harry.

Peter Takes Harry Down

We then see Harry fall four or five stories onto the pavement where he is seen unconscious. Peter rushes too him and begins CPR. We are left wondering if Harry is in fact alive. Having seen other clips in other trailers, Harry does end up in a hospital, so this must mean he survived.

Harry Dead?

This is where the “scene” portion of the preview ends. We then see the text “and the story continues…” Then it transitions into a series of clips from the movie. The most significant being of Sandman and Venom. I really love how they show Sandman as able to become huge in this clip.

Sandman

Finally we are treated to our first clear, high quality shot of Venom. Sadly, it is the same shot we have seen blurry in previous leaked and official trailers.
Venom!

I continue to be excited about this movie, but I am starting to think they are showing us too much. If this is the entirety of the Goblin vs Spider-Man action in this film, I will be a little let down that it was shown so completely to us. As much as I enjoyed this, I do appreciate secrecy and surprises in the theater.

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