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"Forever 16", the comic formerly known as "Maxwell Silver Hammer"
And now, on the eve of 2010, let's finish up my ranking of the previous decade! Don't write off the 2000s as completely worthless just yet - there's still quite a bit of good in here!#5: 2003
Speaking as a Democrat, boy, was this a great year to be a Republican. George W. Bush brought new meaning to the phrase "I wanna be just like my dad when I grow up" by pouring troops into Iraq like so much Morton's salt. Weapons of mass destruction? Sure, that sounds good, go with that. They did nab Saddam Hussein, at least...and it only took 'em 13 years. And if you were a GOPper in California, lucky you - not only did your party win the governor's recall election, but you elected Mr. Get To Da Choppah himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Read my lips: PUT DAT COOKIE DOWN! Oh, but the red states weren't satisfied with all that - not unless the quote-unquote "threat" of gay marriage was wiped out in this fair nation. As a Massachusetts resident, I was beginning to think my town might start to get bombed too.
Entertainment-wise, talk about a mixed bag. Disney certainly rose to the occasion with the summer's double-whammy of Finding Nemo
and Pirates of the Caribbean
, but Warner Bros. floundered with Looney Tunes: Back in Action
(how bad does a Looney Tunes movie have to be if it gets beaten by Mike Myers in a cat suit?). Keanu Reeves both reloaded and revolutionized The Matrix
, but nobody in the audience could stay awake long enough to care. Will Ferrell became everybody's favorite goofy guy thanks to a heartwarming Christmas film (Elf
) and a beer-swilling frat comedy (Old School
), while Jennifer Lopez bid a tearful adieu to her career, courtesy of the reprehensible, unpronouncable Gigli
. Over on TV, FOX's "The O.C." made teenage angst annoying all over again, while Ashton Kutcher and his trucker hat showed us the true art of punking. But for those of us who like smart
television, your salvation came in the explosive duo of Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, whose Mythbusting ways illuminated the Discovery Channel. And nobody told a good Rick James joke quite like Dave Chappelle. Music covered all bases too, from the whiny shrieking of Evanescence to the unabashedly gritty street cred of 50 Cent (he got shot nine times, what have you ever done?). Matchbox Twenty made the banjo cool again with "Unwell", Fountains of Wayne wrote the ultimate ode to the MILFs of the world with "Stacy's Mom", Johnny Cash did a stunning rendition of "Hurt" and then tragically died shortly after getting snubbed by the VMAs, and if you didn't know the lyrics to Outkast's "Hey Ya", well, you would by the end of the year, whether you liked it or not. But probably the lowest point of the year was the rise of Paris Hilton's sleepy-eyed and dog-faced star. Am I the only one left who didn't see her sex tape?#4. 2002
"We'll put a boot in your ass 'cause it's the American way" pretty much sums up the national climate in the first full year of the War on Terror. (Hey, did we ever win that thing?) Thanks to the Color Alert System, everyone knows exactly how afraid to be today! Oh, but don't mind the Code Orange, folks, simply go about your business - parents, keep shopping, and kids, keep studying! The No Child Left Behind Act will make sure it happens, too! We promise! Let's face it, in a free world paralyzed by the Taliban and run by a guy who can't even swallow a pretzel, America needed heroes - and we didn't just stop at our firefighters. Spider-Man
swung into theaters and gave confidence to wiry geeks everywhere, while the Sasquatchian Yao Ming dominated the basketball court. And on the Disney Channel, Kim Possible proved to a nation of kids that yes, it is
possible to be able to do anything! And nothing warms the hearts of the public like family togetherness - even if that family contains a socially awkward Hawaiian girl and a superpowered alien with a destructive streak the size of Mount Pele. Aloha, Lilo and Stitch
Of course, inspiration can't be found everywhere. Turn on MTV and the former Prince of Darkness was now shuffling around his mansion in his slippers trying to find where his kids left the remote - that's "The Osbournes" in a nutshell. Dr. Phil claimed to be the medicine that America's dysfunctional families needed to get better, but it's hard to listen to a guy who looks like a cue ball with a mustache and talks like Foghorn Leghorn. Eminem proved that he can act about as well as he can rap with 8 Mile
, while David Blaine did everything he could to get our attention. I don't care who you are, living in a glass box for a month is not a magic trick. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
forever ruined the way I think about sand (it's too rough), while "American Idol" foisted Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini on an unsuspecting public...who still welcomed them with open arms. And the question still persisted: is Avril Lavigne "punk"? The answer is no, she's not. Amid all this, there still remained the underlying fear that someone somewhere would fly another plane into something. But at least we'd know when it was coming - 'cause don't forget, before you die, you see The Ring
It was another election year, and George W. Bush faced competition from my boy Senator John Kerry, who unfortunately had the personality (and appearance) of an oak tree. But hey, at least he didn't scream up a lung like Howard Dean did. Still, you've gotta pick one of these guys - P. Diddy made sure of it through the wonderfully subtle "Vote or Die" campaign. Personally, if I'd had the chance, I would have taken the cue from Napoleon Dynamite
and voted for Pedro. (Oh, and speaking of politics, did the late Ronald Reagan really
do all that wonderful stuff the folks at his funeral said he did?)
This year was an incredibly crazy ride - ups included the proud return of Quentin Tarantino with the two-part saga of Uma Thurman's neverending quest to kill some guy named Bill, Will Ferrell's endlessly quotable Anchorman
(I dare you to get through a hot day without groaning "Milk was a bad choice!" at least once), the delightfully eerie arrival of the soullessly-smiling Burger King, the proud debut of "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends", a great shot of video game nostalgia courtesy of Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, the nerdly nirvana that is World of Warcraft, Green Day keeping the anti-authoritarianism alive with "American Idiot", Ashlee Simpson's hilarious impromptu jig on "Saturday Night Live" (boy, was her face red - and so was her throat, according to her PR guys), the positive indie vibes of Modest Mouse's "Float On", and the lovable cynical prescriptions of professional doctor/bastard Gregory House, M.D. And nobody, and I mean nobody
, loved the '80s quite like the Darkness. I don't know about you, but I sure as hell believe in a thing called love! Oh, yeah, and there was also a little something called the best World Series ever!
Go Red Sox!
But with every up comes a down. Let's not forget Janet Jackson flashing an audience of millions on national television and costing CBS about a bajillion dollars. "American Idol" proved that Clay Aiken was not
the most annoying celebrity they could produce when the atonal William Hung somehow rode his butchering of "She Bangs" right into a legit musical career. Britney Spears whizzed all over the sanctity of marriage by divorcing Jason Allen Alexander in under 55 hours, Ugg Boots became haute couture
, despite being "the onomatopoeia of footwear", and Halle Berry did more damage to Catwoman's reputation than Joel Schumacher did to Batman's. And just when I had a glimmer of hope for the future, America went and re-elected Bush. In the immortal words of Avril Lavigne, "so much for my happy ending."#2: 2000
Is it any surprise that one of the best years of the 2000s was the one that was the closest to the 1990s? If it weren't for a few close deciding factors, this one would take the number one spot. On the good side of the equation, it was still the Clinton administration (say what you will about the man, I still would have voted for him), and the economy was still surfing its booming wave from the previous decade. Movies made us believe in the unbelievable - like that a superhero movie could actually be good (X-Men
) or that the Great Depression was actually pretty darn funny (O Brother, Where Art Thou?
). All the biggest stars were the ones who overcame great odds, like the historically inaccurate Russell Crowe in Gladiator
, Julia Roberts and her push-up bra in Erin Brockovich
, or the emaciated Tom Hanks in Cast Away
. It takes one hell of a good actor to make three hours of talking to a volleyball into exciting cinema! Larry David struck cynical gold again with "Curb Your Enthusiasm", while Frankie Muniz brought screwball families to new levels of bizarrity with "Malcolm in the Middle", and Jessica Alba's adorably dangerous "Dark Angel" had us all riveted - sure, she can't act, but what a cutie, huh? And "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" forever changed the way we look at fingerprints and bedsheets. Especially bedsheets. Of course, none of us would have had time to watch any of this if it wasn't for the godsend that was TiVo. Goodbye, commercials! I barely even noticed Budweiser's "Whassup?" campaign, what with the fast-forward button and all. And musically, U2 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers proved they still had it after all these years, while the Barenaked Ladies' "Pinch Me" provided us with a lovely anthem to the apathetic, and Pink exploded onto the scene as the perfect antidote to the world's empty-headed bubblegum pop starlets (which was good, 'cause we all needed something to counterattack Britney Spears' "Oops! I Did It Again"). You say you're a gamer? Perfect! You got The Sims, allowing you to reign supreme over your own backwards-talking people, or Pokémon Gold and Silver, which brought unprecedented depth to the world of cyber-monster training (They can breed! They're nocturnal! And some are even shiny!) And who needs a car - or a bike, for that matter - when you've got a Razor scooter?
So what keeps this year at the number two spot? Well, Dude, Where's My Car?
is probably one of the most embarrassing moments in cinematic history, while "Jackass" proved that people really will do anything to get on television. "Survivor" ushered in the era of reality TV, and it did so in stomach-churning fashion (I don't mean the rat-eating, I mean Richard Hatch's crotch). Metallica got all butthurt and shut down Napster before it could even get really good, while the Baha Men let the dogs out and absolutely refused to put them back in, and N'Sync went "Bye Bye Bye" (sadly, not for real). And of course, there was that little snafu in Florida that resulted in Al Gore getting his seat in the Oval Office yanked out from under him mere hours after he earned it. But at least we ended up with a President who understands how hard it is to put food on your family.#1: 2009
Turns out the bread was the best part of this decade sandwich! It wasn't just Chris Pike as the new Captain Kirk who was boldly going where no man had gone before. With Commander Coo-Coo Bananas finally out of the White House, who better to take the reins than Barack Obama, the nation's first African-American President - but more importantly, a man who knows what the hell he's doing. Stocks are up, consumer confidence is returning, progress is being made on the environment, and health care is finally in motion. Thank you, Mr. President! And it's not just in Washington D.C. that things are improving - the movie theaters got a much-needed kick in the pants this year courtesy of some really cool films. Whether it's Pixar going ten-for-ten with Up
, Sony Pictures running with the big boys with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
, Henry Selick weaving a tale of creepy wonder with Coraline
, or Disney finally getting back on the hand-drawn horse with The Princess and the Frog
, nobody can count this year as anything but a landmark in animation. And in the world of live action, The Hangover
taught us how to laugh about drunks again, Inglourious Basterds
taught us what really
happened in World War II, Zombieland
actually managed to make zombies not seem played out, and Watchmen
gave us the most perfect graphic-novel-to-movie adaptation one could possibly hope for. On TV, everything's better in HD - "Glee" got everyone's toes a-tappin', while "Scrubs" and "Futurama" lived to make us laugh another day, and "Jon and Kate Plus Eight" finally
got mercy-killed. Music brought us some neat little ditties, whether they be the sonorous tones of Jordin Sparks' "Battlefield", the funky techno rhythms of 3OH!3's "Don't Trust Me", or the lovely little British earworm that is the Ting-Tings' "That's Not My Name". Shakira brought her wiggly abdomen to the dance floor with "She-Wolf", while Pearl Jam backspaced to their alternative roots with "The Fixer" and the previously-unreleased "Brother", and Green Day made sure that everyone knew their enemy. And frankly, even Lady Gaga is fascinating in a bizarre kind of way - it's fun to keep an eye on her public performances and try to predict what sorta weird-ass get-up she'll have on this time. Whether you're Twittering about how you Twitter too much or trading in your clunker for cash, this was a definite upswing in all walks of life.
Okay, so it wasn't all pleasant. We lost Michael Jackson, which instantly made every joke ever made about him into even worse taste than before. Jimmy Fallon took over "Late Night" and made an ass of himself, while Jay Leno's prime-time show just kinda sat there and floundered. And thanks to New Moon
, you can't go anywhere now without seeing Taylor Lautner's way-too-perfect smile grinning back at you. But for the most part, this year was a significant step up. Can we put the horrors of the 2000s behind us? In the words of the man himself, "Yes we can!"
Bring it on, 2010 - let's see if you can top this!
Supporter of King-Cheetah: DA's most underappreciated genius
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