Monthly Archives: August 2011

You know, I wouldn’t count out his chances of succeeding, at least in the short term. Maybe even as far as becoming a Planet of the Apes parody.

(From Ctrl+Alt+Del. Click for full-sized revenge.)

So Ted’s plot isn’t world domination. Instead, he remains what he was from the start: a version of the Linux penguin.

This story arc continues to be reminiscent of the early days of Ctrl+Alt+Del, right down to looking to involve versions of real-life high-profile figures being invaded by the CAD cast. Most people have probably forgotten or are only dimly aware of CAD‘s pro-Microsoft stance, with the main relic of it being Zeke’s being made out of an X-Box.

There’s a part of me that wants to wonder how far back Tim had this story line planned out, probably before the evolution of the comic… except that Tim hinted around the time of the miscarriage that that story arc had, itself, been planned out fairly early in the comic’s history, perhaps as far back as Lilah’s introduction, which was probably less than halfway through the first year. This storyline, then, may be continuing the trend, previously noted, of Buckley trying to get away from the grimdarkness of the immediate post-miscarriage era and back to a more fun-loving time in CAD‘s history, with Ethan getting involved in wacky, out-there plots.

Given where the comic has gone since those early days, I still can’t help but shake the feeling that this plotline will leave long-lasting impacts on the cast. However, at this point I’d be far from surprised if it doesn’t.

It’s like a big ball of timey… wimey… stuff.

(From Irregular Webcomic: Shakespeare. Click for full-sized command of the English language.)

Okay, I am officially lost as to how these time shenanigans work.

The only way I can make sense of Shakespeare’s nervousness in the third panel, and make the punchline not a complete non-sequitur, is to come to the conclusion that once the timeline is fixed, Shakespeare will “return” to the 16th and 17th centuries.

The conceit of the Shakespeare theme has always been “if Shakespeare had been born 400 years later“. While it has obviously never precisely adhered to “real” history, aside from the impact Shakespeare had on the English language apparently being applied anyway, neither has it ever hinted that that “real” history ever existed, if that makes sense. Shakespeare was in the 20th and 21st centuries before the Irregular Crisis, and we’ve established that the Nazis lost in their timeline.

If I’m right about where Morgan-Mar is going with this, it raises far too many questions: How did Shakespeare get time-displaced from the 16th and 17th centuries? Why didn’t the Irregular Crisis return him there, and why would fixing World War II do so if the Crisis didn’t? How does he know he was displaced 400 years? If he retains his memory of his time in modern times (which would make Shakespeare’s characters of Ophelia and Mercutio named after their IWC counterparts instead of the other way around), which seems to be the most consistent way of doing things, wouldn’t that cause as much upheaval of the timeline as anything else, and potentially more than just keeping him in modern times?

On the other hand, perhaps we now have a glimpse of where Morgan-Mar was headed with Shakespeare and Ophelia’s relationship upgrade

How to really revitalize the DC Universe

You know what the saddest part of DC’s “New 52″ “soft reboot” (apparently they’re calling it that now, apparently out of a realization of just how reboot-like it is) is? A hard reboot isn’t really that bad an idea.

I can understand why they don’t want to do it. Aside from alienating existing fans, they have some critically-acclaimed storylines going in their Batman and Green Lantern books, and they’d rather not kill that golden goose. It’s really the same sort of thing that screwed up Crisis on Infinite Earths, when they didn’t want to screw up well-praised runs on books like New Teen Titans and Legion of Super-Heroes. That, coupled with poor editorial control, resulted in continuity being more of a mishmash than it had any right to be, and screwed up some properties to a state of confusion beyond repair. (Ironically, Legion wound up more rebooted than the rest of the DCU as a result of CoIE.) The solution is to announce the reboot well in advance, allowing all storylines to be wrapped up (if the old continuity is abandoned entirely) and preventing anyone from starting new critically-acclaimed storylines you’ll want to keep until after the reboot, much as Eric Burns(-White) suggested a while back.

But Crisis on Infinite Earths was also an opportunity, an opportunity to shake up DC’s stable of superheroes and tell their stories afresh, stories not possible in the mature universe CoIE replaced, stories about superheroes in the early days of their careers and going through the associated trials and tribulations. The only other time in DC’s history that has produced this sort of opportunity until now was at the very start of the Silver Age, but DC was more interested in telling their “iconic” style of superhero story, so while they refreshed many old concepts, they didn’t spend much time going into the story potential of their just starting out. Marvel did, however, and when CoIE came around, DC made up for lost time. Most of the core concepts of their heroes remained the same (most of the changes coming to villains and minor heroes), but despite CoIE depositing readers in an established universe not that different from the one left behind, DC took advantage of the opportunity to retell the early days of their classic heroes in books like The Man of Steel, Batman: Year One, and George Perez’s run on Wonder Woman (who was retconned to not have existed before CoIE).

With this reboot, DC has/had another opportunity to start afresh, shake up its core concepts, and tell new stories about superheroes just establishing their careers. DC seems to be taking the Silver Age approach: many if not most of their heroes are being shaken up, but aside from Superman and the Justice League, no stories set in the unique, ever-changing, uncertain period early in the age of superheroes, and precious few origin retellings, with everyone being thrown into the five-years-on continuity minefield I’ve talked about, and complained about, before.

While I’d prefer that DC go whole-hog with their reboot and start at the beginning, that’s not to say I disdain the importance of shaking up their old concepts. The whole reason DC is going through with this reboot is to make itself more relevant to today’s audience, especially outside established superhero comic fandom. From virtually the instant Marvel declared independence from the restrictions of a DC-controlled distribution system, and for virtually the entire time since (the major interruption coming at the turn of the millennium when Marvel declared bankruptcy), especially following the rise of the direct market, DC has placed a distant second to Marvel in the comic book sales charts. They just haven’t captured the zeitgeist as well as Marvel for the better part of 40 years.

This might be explained by Marvel’s product being better suited for the existing hardcore comic book fanbase, but Marvel’s movies have done ghostbusters at the box office while DC’s have had mixed success at best, and Marvel first struck a chord with audiences when comic books were a lot more popular among the general public. Marvel revolutionized the superhero in the 60s, presenting heroes that seemed more human and relatable and touching on important themes, and since then DC has had to fight the perception that their stories and heroes are still stuck in the 40s and 50s, that they’re too committed to an unrealistic Platonic ideal of the superhero, that their stories and heroes are too idealistic, too abstract, not human enough.

Now, there is certainly a place for idealism, and it’s certainly possible that DC’s commitment to those ideals has been overstated. I think there is still room for DC’s heroes and the ideals they embody, but I think their presentation needs to be modernized, made more relevant to today’s audiences, to make the message of those ideals all the stronger. Here, then, is my proposal to, for lack of a better word, “Marvel-ize” DC’s properties. I’ll skip Batman, the most Marvel-esque of DC’s properties, and perhaps not coincidentially the most successful and popular, both in comic books and the box office; he doesn’t need any major updates. But I will take a look at DC’s other major properties to find out how to improve their appeal to modern audiences while preserving and strengthening the core of their character, and to what extent DC is achieving these things with the present reboot, starting after the jump (because this will be a long post). Read More »

As for why I didn’t post this on Wednesday? Distractions. I’d really rather not talk about it. Suffice to say, Homestuck is sucking me in even when it’s on hiatus.

(From Ctrl+Alt+Del. Click for full-sized conveniences.)

Oh, I’ve been really remiss in not talking about the current storyline in Ctrl+Alt+Del.

After wrapping up the surprisingly fast and ultimately fruitless KOTOR storyline, Tim Buckley rather abruptly shifted gears to Ethan’s attempt to figure out just what Scott was working on in that locked room. Until the cliffhanger two weeks ago, I wasn’t entirely convinced that his attempt would be successful; after all, it had been a lingering mystery for some time, we got gobsmacked with this story arc out of nowhere, and until fairly recently Scott looked like one of a number of concepts that had been forgotten without explanation.

But no, now was the time for Buckley to finally give us the answer we’d all been waiting for… abso-freaking-lutely nothing out of the ordinary. I was all set to write a post that Monday even in this likely scenario, but delayed it to Wednesday when Scott, also predictably, caught Ethan in the act, to see if he would give some sort of explanation. None was forthcoming, especially once Buckley dropped another Friday cliffhanger: Scott was up to something nefarious after all.

But that also-semi-predictable revelation paled in comparison to what Buckley dropped on us Wednesday, which I doubt anyone saw coming: the penguin was behind it all along!

Okay, when I put it that way, it admittedly sounds kind of silly, and Buckley may be flirting with PVP/Goats Syndrome here. (A webcomic with Cerebus Syndrome that’s flirted with both First and Ten and PVP/Goats Syndromes? It’s the Webcomic Syndrome Triple Crown!) As gripping as this storyline is for someone who’s been following CAD for long enough to remember when Scott retreated into the back room, I can see it being just as annoying for one of the strip’s haters. In fact, this plotline is actually reminiscent of some of the worst plots of the pre-miscarriage era, when Ethan was founding religions and being the Savior of All Gaming. Ethan has once again been put in a position way above where he should be, and the only direction “Scott’s” plot can go is even sillier. What’s the plan, cause a new Ice Age so that telepathic penguins can take over the world?

This storyline may have me back engrossed in Ctrl+Alt+Del for the time being, and it’s even reminding me why I got interested in it to begin with. But it may also be a threshold test to see if I remain engrossed in CAD. If all those years of mystery were to set up one silly storyline – if there are no long-term ramifications to this whatsoever – or if “Scott’s” plan ends up being too silly, or Ethan’s role in stopping it too unlikely, to take seriously, it may ultimately be the storyline that finally drives me away from CAD, unless I decide to take it as a simple thrice-weekly silly diversion. I doubt I’ll make a final decision on the latter until I’ve gotten caught up on Darths and Droids, or the subject of my next webcomic review.

Yes, I know I’m using “nonplussed” wrong, and I don’t care.

(From Irregular Webcomic! Click for full-sized timeline refugees.)

What I find exceedingly interesting about this comic, and what makes it the biggest development in the Irregular Crisis in months, is the first panel.

There is plenty wonky about the alternate 1940 that most of the IWC cast has been sucked into, but Mercutio mentions none of it in the first panel. Everything Mercutio mentions is business as usual for the Cliffhangers theme, especially Hitler being a brain in a jar, which in the first place, implies that prior to the Irregular Crisis, Cliffhangers and Shakespeare were not in continuity with each other, and that history for the Shakespeare theme was the same as in our reality.

In the second place, it implies that the time flux the rest of the cast is trying to untie may be as simple as the history of the Cliffhangers theme overwriting everything else. This isn’t the first time this has been suggested – Hitler being a brain in a jar came as a complete shock to the Steve and Terry crew – but I had always written that off as a secret, heretofore undiscovered application of Nazi science – the yeti was completely nonplussed to discover Nazi teleportation technology the other Steve and Terry members were taken aback by. It has never been made as explicit as Mercutio makes it here. What’s more, it suggests that all the activity that has centered around 1933 and the Reichstag Fire is ultimately irrelevant, and may be making things worse. While Nazi victory is the most obvious consequence of a timeline divergence, addressing (or causing) the proximate cause of that may ignore a more far-reaching problem, yet one potentially simpler to fix, at least for the Paradox Department.

I have complained about the pace of the Irregular Crisis in the past, but David Morgan-Mar may finally be laying the groundwork for its resolution… even it it takes a rather circuitous, and yet far more fascinating, route to get there.

The most recent flash took a disturbingly long time to load the first time. How long will EOA take?

(From MS Paint Adventures: Homestuck. Click for full-sized scrapbook.)

I’m surrendering. I’m still not as heavily invested in Homestuck as I am in The Order of the Stick and I still have numerous issues with it, but I’ve become just as anal about it (partly because, while OOTS is updating now, it’s still very slow), and I’m stuck (no pun intended) with it for at least the rest of the act. I’ve been remiss in not talking about numerous recent developments: Scratch’s tale of the troll ancestors and today’s update, also known as “Better Living Through Moirallegiance”.

First things first. Scratch dropped two bombshells on consecutive days: first, that the troll ancestors were, once upon a time, the actual players of the game, on a world a lot more peaceful and a lot less cutthroat than the Alternia we’re familiar with, but weren’t made of hardy enough stuff to complete the game and agreed to scratch it, creating a hardier, stronger race that could complete the game – a race shaped by Scratch every step of the way, with the former players moved into the role of ancestors to the new players, but with no memory of their former lives.

I could say a lot about this, but it should suffice to say this bit of human-nature mythologizing: It is implied that the history of the troll people would have played out exactly the same way as it did before without Scratch’s interference. Moreover, it appears that Scratch’s interference was limited to historical figures, not the course of evolution. In other words, Scratch created a culture that was hard, grueling, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short, but the underlying nature of the people may have been the same peace-loving people that failed to make it in the game the first time around. Given that multiple trolls have given signs of being worn down by having to play the roles society has given them, to the point that Feferi, the heir apparent to the throne of Alternia, had fantasized about overturning the race’s caste system, this appears to be quite interesting.

(Yes, Order of the Stick isn’t the only webcomic that can have deep, literary themes. I’m warming to it here, people. I’m going to be wearing oversized bull-horns and a Hero of Breath God-Tier hoodie to cons before you know it.)

Despite the former players’ amnesia, Karkat’s ancestor, the Signless, saw glimpses of his former life, which leads to the second bombshell: he proceeded to preach a message of peace and harmony that led to him being hanged by the authorities, with his memory to live on underground as the Sufferer. In other words, Karkat’s ancestor was essentially troll Jesus (with Kanaya’s taking the role of the Virgin Mary), which I guess makes Karkat the second coming of Jesus. And he does sort of bring on the end of the world, and in an odd way, the birth of a new Eden…

(As an aside, Homestuck is positively riddled with symbolism of all kinds from all sources, to the extent I started having a problem with it when I reviewed it, but I have to tip my cap to Hussie’s ability to re-appropriate existing imagery for his own purposes. Take Karkat’s symbol, taken from the symbol for the constellation Cancer. Hussie derives it from the irons the Sufferer was hung in, which then takes the same importance among the Sufferer’s followers the cross has for Christians, who ensure it’s applied to Karkat as his symbol. Hussie managed to take a pre-existing symbol and derive it from an element in his own story almost seamlessly. As Eric Burns(-White) might say, Hussie gets a tasty, tasty biscuit.)

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that, after Hussie’s self-insert forcibly wrenches control of the story away from Scratch (with a result that many are interpreting to be Scratch’s death) we get what amounts to a flashback to the gathering of trolls in the immediate aftermath of Vriska’s death… and Karkat, who has spent several real-time months hiding for dear life from Gamzee’s rampage, and now with three other trolls by his side, proceeds to subdue him as only the second coming of troll Jesus can: parenting and friending him all the way, by himself.

Now, I may jest about this, but Karkat is hardly a Mary Sue. Although he is the leader of the trolls, and arguably keeps them together far longer than they might have otherwise, his character has been primarily defined by his perpetual bad mood and self-loathing. (I swear he isn’t a Mary Sue, honest.) Karkat finagled his way to the leadership role of the trolls the same way the trolls do everything else, through back-biting and treachery, and his impulsiveness is arguably the reason for everything bad that has happened, is happening, or will happen to the trolls. And while he himself is arguably more human-like than any other troll, as hinted earlier, he’s not the only one who’s worn out by the trollish way of life. Karkat may seem more like a Sue from a troll perspective than a human one, but even there more of a deconstruction of the type.

Finally, at the end of Scratch’s tale, we discover who “Aradia”, Scratch’s captive, is: Aradia’s ancestor, Lord English’s Handmaid, and the other influence in Alternia’s evolution. Her last act is to recruit the last ruler of Alternia (who ultimately kills her) to serve as another of English’s servants, “carrying out his work in the places he cannot reach.” There’s a frighteningly plausible theory that this means she becomes Betty Crocker, namesake of the food empire, surrogate mother of John’s Nanna and Jade’s Grandpa, and scourge of John’s life.

Despite the promises of both Scratch and Hussie, we still have some time to go until the end of the act; I wonder if Hussie was legitimately tired of how the Scratch interlude was proceeding and decided to abort it early. But that doesn’t mean Hussie was entirely averse to giving us some bang for our buck for the end of the interlude, and now the remainder of the act can proceed in a more natural fashion, until the end-of-act flash is ready. I may have a longer experience with Homestuck fandom than I thought.

Cleanup on aisle UFC

Because I don’t want to roll this up into a much longer NFL post…

I posed the question as to who would control the UFC’s broadcasts on Fox as “Gus Johnson or Mike Goldberg?” The answer might be both: because of the sheer volume of UFC programming on Fox and FX, the UFC is thinking about bringing in more commentators to take some of the load off of Goldberg and Joe Rogan, which Johnson’s existing relationships with Strikeforce and Fox would make him a natural fit for. Similarly, while UFC will still be controlling the presentation, they will work closely with Fox to make it as good as it can be.

As for the quality of fights to expect on free TV, the UFC’s rights fee is substantially smaller than that of other sports, so pay-per-view will remain the backbone of the business, implying you won’t see Brock Lesnar v. Fedor Emelianenko on Fox anytime soon. That article makes it feel more like a stepping-stone, putting the product on broadcast TV to increase exposure and respect to the point where the company can afford a real TV deal. However, the UFC will be cutting back on PPVs slightly, all parties made clear that this deal is “just the beginning” and a foundation for future growth, and Dana White told Entertainment Weekly‘s TV blog that “the broadcast fights will be significant matchups, rather than saving all the important bouts for Pay Per View. ‘We want to pull ratings, we want to pull the big numbers,’ White said.” So the Fox fights will be PPV caliber, but will they be top-notch caliber? Rumors that featherweights will be among those featured on the first one-hour Fox show in November have me doubtful about that, at least for the short term, and I don’t know how top-notch the UFC will be able to go in the next seven years on Fox given the rights fee probably isn’t changing.

Still, one thing was already clear: UFC just changed the game in MMA, and may have made themselves completely invulnerable, to the extent they weren’t already, to any attempt to challenge their supremacy.

The UFC’s new TV deal and its impact

(Note: Upon further review, Conference USA reached its agreement with Fox on January 5th, while the Comcast-NBC merger, which I take as the start point of the wars, wasn’t approved until the 18th. The scoreboard at the bottom of this post counts both MLS and IndyCar.)

This was shaping to be the most critical period, as part of the most pivotal year, in the history of MMA.

UFC’s contract with Spike TV, which carried the sport through its rise from backrooms to the brink of the mainstream, was up for renewal, and all signs were that the UFC would not renew with Spike. The direction it went in now would determine the way the sport took shape now and into the future, as well as set where the cap, if any, was for its future growth. It all depended on Dana White’s vision of the ultimate balance of broadcast, cable, premium, and pay-per-view for the sport going forward.

I couldn’t give a vision of what MMA’s mainstream future might look like without having an expert to tell me what differentiates the economics of fight sports from other sports when it comes to pay-per-view, as well as how boxing’s transition to pay-per-view proceeded. I don’t know to what extent MMA’s mainstream future might involve pay-per-view, or whether the biggest cards would air on broadcast television or PPV, only that boxing has proven it cannot become seen as a mainstream sport with the level of reliance on pay-per-view UFC has now. It needs to have events high-profile enough on broadly viewed television to attract large numbers of people and at the very least promote those PPVs.

Regardless of its current popularity, MMA is in a precarious place in terms of perception. At one point the UFC was apparently in talks to buy Comcast’s struggling G4 network and turn it into a UFC network, and the general perception is that if they can muster enough inventory to fill its hours, they’re best positioned of the entities that haven’t launched a sport-specific network already. But for the moment, the UFC can’t afford to put too much programming on a relatively small specialty network if they want to keep growing the sport and get it to be perceived as mainstream. They need a deal with another entity, and Dana White’s insistence on controlling the presentation has, to this point, held up any deal.

Another reason why this was shaping up to be the most pivotal year in the history of MMA was UFC’s acquisition of its biggest rival, Strikeforce, earlier this year. The deal was the most important of many business shake-ups in the industry over the course of the year that consolidated UFC’s position from being the WWE – the undisputed top rank in the chain of mixed martial arts – to the equivalent of the NFL, practically defining professional mixed martial arts. The merger also made UFC inherit Strikeforce’s business relationship with Showtime, the closest thing to a true cable sports network the CBS Corporation has.

Putting UFC events on premium cable is a logical middle ground between broadly-distributed broadcast and cable, and the cash cow of pay-per-view, and while CBS is acutely interested in growing Showtime and putting it closer to the level of HBO, they might have actually held a considerable amount of leverage, as many of Strikeforce’s fighters apparently actually have contracts with Showtime, not with Strikeforce directly. If the UFC wanted to avoid considerable legal wrangling to maintain control of those fighters and keep Showtime from taking them to whatever other organization comes calling, they may have to get a deal done with Showtime, and CBS might take advantage of that situation by insisting on certain high-level programming and privileges for the CBS network, and even putting a substantial amount of programming on CBS Sports Network to grow that network and branch it out beyond college.

Quite a few shows would still be bad enough fits for either that they’d have to stay on Showtime, though, and in general CBS doesn’t have properties with big enough viewership to continue growing the sport beyond the broadcast network. In any case, given the way the UFC does business they’d probably prefer not to be held hostage with Showtime and go through the legal wrangling anyway, or let those fighters go.

There is precedent for the UFC continuing a relationship it inherited from an organization it acquired, though. It didn’t happen with the relationship with FSN the company inherited from PRIDE, but quite a few UFC cards have aired on Versus since UFC inherited its arrangement with WEC. (These cards have shown that UFC has been willing to compromise with regards to presentation, with pre- and post-shows and Versus’ graphics package, but UFC’s announcers and general broadcast structure and feel.) I originally wanted to hold off on writing this post until after the NFL sorted out its Thursday Night package because I didn’t think the UFC would reach an agreement until after then, and because I felt that would have had a big impact on NBC/Comcast’s chances. If Comcast had lost out on the NFL, I would think the UFC would be substantially more reticent to shack up with a network not guaranteed to have any programming much bigger than the UFC itself. The UFC, including shows like The Ultimate Fighter, would be a good starting point for growing the NBC Sports Network, but the limits of its perception would have limited the effect.

The elephant in the living room, though, might be ESPN, and it is here where we come to the reason why I’m hoping Comcast’s proposed new 6 PM ET news show is the beginning of a serious effort to challenge SportsCenter. Personally, I think ESPN’s penchant for only promoting sports it airs on SportsCenter is substantially overstated. The example usually given is that of the NHL, but I think ESPN gives the NHL coverage consummate with its status as a relatively niche sport, with a few highlights every night. During what is, by a significant margin, the most-watched NHL event of the year, the Stanley Cup Final, ESPN goes as far as to send Steve Levy and Barry Melrose to the games to provide highlights and analysis. (If you ask me, FSN’s old “Final Score” program was at least as guilty of favoritism as SportsCenter, airing as many NHL highlights as NBA highlights – because NHL games provide a lot of programming for their regional sports networks.)

However, that’s not to say ESPN doesn’t provide some favoritism to its own sports, and MMA might be a far better example of this. By some measures, MMA has popularity on par with some of the major sports, but though ESPN does air a Friday night MMA Live show on ESPN2, you’d still never know its popularity from watching SportsCenter. MMA tends to get brief, perfunctory highlights at best, usually of just the main event of any given card, and that edited down to maybe a minute. Under the current status quo, MMA absolutely needs the cooperation of ESPN to be considered a major sport, and perhaps that’s why Dana White flirted with ESPN by putting its UFC Primetime show on ESPN2 earlier this year. If broadcast television was important to White, though, ESPN’s penchant for trying to kill sports on ABC might have substantially hindered a deal. It wouldn’t be a deal-breaker, though, so the main obstacle would be that the UFC needs ESPN far more than ESPN needs the UFC.

If UFC wanted to sign with a single organization and wasn’t concerned about broadcast television, Turner would have also been a good fit, with shows like The Ultimate Fighter on TNT and/or truTV and fight cards on HBO. However, although they do want to grow truTV outside the NCAA Tournament, I think Turner would have only been interested to keep Showtime from gaining momentum.

And in the end, that wouldn’t be necessary, because apparently the two major contenders were Comcast and Fox, and Fox is reportedly set to announce a long-term deal later today, which will include up to four events on broadcast television and shows like The Ultimate Fighter on FX, plus some programming on Fuel TV. Fox has always been the “edgier” of the four major networks, which culturally should make them a great fit for the UFC (which would have been iffier for the more genteel NBC or CBS, though CBS has already aired MMA from the defunct EliteXC and Strikeforce), and UFC programming will help FX establish its bona fides as a sports network – and only TNT and ESPN would attract more cable eyeballs to the UFC, at least short-term.

What’s still to be established is whether the four Fox cards would be marquee events, or things closer to the UFC’s Versus and Fight Night on Spike programming, as well as how the presentation will be controlled (Gus Johnson or Mike Goldberg?). I’ll update this post later with those details. But for the moment, the UFC appears to have taken a gigantic step forward towards being perceived as, and actually becoming, a mainstream sport, as well as setting the direction of MMA for years if not decades to come.

2.5 3 2.5 0 0

I really don’t like what I’ve seen of the actual Garfield strips post-Liz hookup. Is she even the same character?

(From Square Root of Minus Garfield. Click for full-sized ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.)

I’m honestly not sure how much I still like Square Root of Minus Garfield. The comic really doesn’t read particularly well in an archive binge and is at best tolerable read one-at-a-time, and the exclusion of the annotation in the RSS feed (something you can’t say about Irregular Webcomic! or Darths and Droids) gets on my nerves. Another big problem is the √-G contributors’ tendency to beat certain memes among them into the ground.

This comic, though, is utterly sublime. On one level, it is a mashup of three of the most common strips to be overused and have every last drop of meme wrung out of them. But on another level, the first panel comes from the single most overused, over-memed comic in the history of √-G. Jon in the second panel says “We need to make some changes around here”, and the final panel comes from the new overused favorite comic du jour. So, the √-G crew was focusing on one comic, Jon decided they needed to make a change, and now they’re focusing on another comic.

It’s the sort of metahumor that, given the limitations of the source material, you don’t normally expect out of this comic.

(Hey, give me a break. I’ve barely slept a wink in two days, which is also why I promised a UFC post Wednesday on Twitter that hasn’t gone up yet. And the worst part? I actually expect it to be better for my sleep schedule in the long term.)

The latest in the sports television wars

Two pieces of news broke Wednesday in the sports TV wars:

  • NBC picking up MLS doesn’t mean much for NBC/Comcast, given how low MLS is on the totem pole, but it is very good news for MLS. It wasn’t that long ago that no one would have ever said that about a move to Versus, but this move gives MLS a shot at more featured time slots, a place on a channel that now has double the distribution, a chance to take advantage of any other big pick-ups NBC adds down the line, and a return to broadcast television. The MLS Cup will remain on ESPN for the time being, but MLS’ choice is to stay on ESPN or leave primetime – though they may want to unify their English-language coverage under one banner in three years, and I have a feeling NBC/Comcast may wind up with a better shot at it then than ESPN. It’s also bad news for Fox Soccer, for whom MLS was their main summer attraction. This move had been rumored in the past, especially when MLS went past their schedule announcement without a deal with Fox Soccer this season and considered buying time on Versus.
  • On the other hand, ABC managed to renew their relationship with the IndyCar series, despite some thinking that the whole series might be unified under the NBC banner after Versus took the cable contract some years back. This means ABC will maintain its long association with the Indy 500 that will now extend for more than half a century.

I’m undecided over whether to count MLS on my scorecard – I didn’t count when Fox picked up rights to Conference USA. MLS gets more press, but miniscule ratings. Should I count neither, both, or just one or the other? (I really need to update my Sports TV Contracts list from the first year of Da Blog…)