It's a slow night.

Prepare for the coming of... LOLACTUS!

I'm sure somebody somewhere has already done this exact joke - and more proficiently at that - but oh well.

The Dig List: 12/16/07

Haven't done one of these in awhile, so in case you need a refresher, these are just (hopefully) short reactions to stuff I've read and/or watched recently.

Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together - Honestly? For my comic book dollar, this was damn near perfect, and probably my favorite book of the series thus far, seeing as we get the answers to a few questions, a few more questions raised, and some actual character development among the main cast. Fun Comics of the highest degree - maybe the only thing that's come close to challenging The Professor's Daughter as the year's best book for me. And now I really want to go back to Toronto for a visit.

Sin City: The Hard Goodbye and A Dame to Kill For - Generally not a big Frank Miller fan, but I actually kinda liked the both of these (the former more than the latter, but still). It's clear the man has a passion - and, I'll begrudgingly admit - a talent for ultraviolent, oversexed pulp material, but it works a lot better for me on its own rather than when its shoehorned into a Batman story or something. Quick question, though: are there any women in Basin City who aren't prostitutes, strippers, or gold-digging femme fatale types?

Planet Hulk - I think a lot of the praise that was heaped upon this story was mostly due to the fact that it was probably the first good Hulk story since Peter David's first run, but if it wasn't quite as excellent as advertised, it was still quite good. The basic concept of "Gladiator Hulk... IN OUTER SPAAAAAAAAAAAAACE!" didn't set my world on fire (bad choice of words, considering the climax?), but Greg Pak certainly took it to some places I wasn't expecting, so I definitely appreciated that. Plus, I really dug that for once, the angrier Hulk got, the smarter he got. Hulk smash is one thing... but Hulk strategize? That's kinda scary.

AmericanElf.com archives - I've been going through James Kochalka's daily diary strips from their very beginning ever since the site went free the other week, and let me tell you, that's a lot of life to absorb in a very short time. But it's a very satisfying, relaxing experience, too. I'm not a rock star indie cartoonist, but I can relate to many of the little zen-like moments Kochalka records, good or bad. But I'm a sucker for a good diary comic strip - hence why I enjoy the works of Jeffrey Brown, Liz Prince, and Ben Snakepit, too - if only because it proves that every life, however mundane, has its moments that deserve to be captured for posterity.

Snow: not a fan.

It's snowing... the second significant snowfall in three days, as a matter of fact. Bleh. At least today isn't as bad as Thursday's storm was. And the state seems to be handling this one a little better. I don't know if the news made it outside of Rhode Island or not, but the performance of the RI DOT (and just about every other state agency involved with roads and moving people along you could name) was a textbook example of how to make a minor emergency situation into a major one. The snow that day came earlier and a bit heavier than expected, and no one had any intention of touching the roads until they absolutely had to, so of course just about everyone in the state was let out of work/school/whatever early, at more or less the exact same time. What resulted was pretty much your classic clusterf--- situation. Cars couldn't move, plows couldn't get through, few emergency measures were enacted, etc. Commutes of minutes stretched into hours, you had kids stuck on schoolbuses until at least 8 p.m. in some cases... yeah, it was a nightmare. And of course, in the days since, every level of state and local government has been blaming every other level in the hopes that none of them get stuck being the sacrificial lamb in this case. Thankfully my work got canceled for the evening, and Erin works fairly close to our house, so we weren't affected that badly.

I did have to go to work today, though. This storm hasn't been as bad (today ended up being the patented Rhode Island rain/snow mix), there was less traffic because it was a Sunday morning, and I passed an army of plow and salt/sand trucks because no one wants to screw up that badly twice in the same week, so it wasn't quite the nightmare getting here today that it could have been, so at least that was nice. However, I would like to point out that I've been here for just about 3 hours, and so far I'm still the only library employee - staff or student - to have actually showed up.

So I'm pretty much more awesome than everyone. That's what I keep telling myself to keep from getting mad at the situation anyway.

Well, something good came out of it, I guess.

I wasn't terribly impressed with the Transformers movie, but I had this awesome dream the night I watched it. Optimus Prime got in a fight with (I think) Dirk Benedict, and the only way he could defeat him was by transforming into Ronald Reagan.

Clearly the secrets of the universe will be revealed to me when I figure out what all this means.

Sandwich Party: The Mother of All Sandwiches

I was really looking forward to making something exciting for Elsa's Online Sandwich Party, but between present wrapping and toddler wrangling and car buying, I unfortunately didn't get a chance. I did make a grilled cheese sandwich for the kiddo last night, though, and it got me thinking.

In French cuisine, they have this concept of "mother sauces." These are 4 basic sauces that can be added upon and tweaked to make a practically infinite number of other sauces... the primary colors of the food world, in a way. Well, if the concept carries over to the sandwich side of things, you have to figure that the grilled cheese would be one of the mother sandwiches. The basic idea is ridiculously simple, and the variations you can create are limited only by your imagination and the contents of your fridge.

(Not my own sandwich, but the tastiest looking one I could find on Google Images on short notice.)

At its core, a grilled cheese is melty cheese on toasted bread. That's it. There aren't any requirements that need meeting beyond those... it can be Velveeta on Wonder Bread or Gruyere on a baguette. You can eat the sandwich on its own, or pair it with some chips or a nice bowl of hot soup for a great lunch on a cold day. You can even break it down into its component parts of cheesy glop and toast and enjoy some Welsh Rabbit, if you like.

And of course, like the greatest innovations of Scandinavia - I'm speaking, of course, of Lego and Ikea here - it's modular. Want a little kick? Add some spicy mustard. Need some vegetables in there? Add a slice of tomato. Grill up a hot ham (or even bologna) and cheese if you want a heartier sandwich. Looking for a quick bite to eat for breakfast? Use an English muffin or a bagel, throw on a bit of scrambled or fried egg and maybe even some ham or bacon and make your own Egg McWhatevers at home.

And come on, how many other sandwiches can you name that have been the source of religious wonderment?



That's right, friends... even the Blessed Virgin herself enjoys a nice grilled cheese once in a while (though, to be completely honest, I've always thought this particular sandwich seems to resemble a Grease 2-era Michelle Pfeiffer myself, but we all see what we want in these sorts of miracles, I suppose).

The grilled cheese - so easy that it's the first thing most of us learn to cook for ourselves, but also the gateway to myriad, perhaps even divine, possibilities.



Other bits of sandwichy goodness from the TPS archives:

Make All Out War In Your Own Home...


Yup. Nothing says fun like a toy that allows you to simulate nuclear war in you own bedroom! I especially dig the little helmets and antennae the men are wearing... that'll protect 'em for sure. I wonder if they're made from the same material as those fallout-proof school desks kids used to have to duck and cover under?

(Ad from Blackhawk #205, cover date February 1965, which is a treasure trove of great ads, as well as cover appearances by two of DC's most beloved Silver Age chestnuts... gorillas and hyper-evolved giant heads!)

Other stuff in Previews that caught my eye...

Oh, this month's Previews is just jam-packed with good comics stuff for February, huh? Not that I can afford or plan on buying all this stuff, but here are a few more things that caught my eye:

Fantastic Four: The Lost Adventure - After promising this all freakin' year, the "missing" Lee/Kirby FF issue is finally going to see the light of day. Better late than never, I guess. It'll be cool to see this - more Kirby FF is always a good thing - as we not only get the completed issue, but also the story from FF#108 that made use of the existing artwork as a flashback, sort of the way Star Trek used footage from "The Cage" in "The Menagerie." It'll be fun to compare and contrast.

Sky Ape: King of Girls- I've never read any of the other books from this series before, but it's a gorilla in a jetpack. I mean, that must be awesome, right? Anyone wanna give me some skinny on this? (Paging Larry Young...)

RASL #1 - The new book from Jeff Smith, about an art thief. Who thieves art, I suppose. After all those years of Bone and being admittedly disappointed with the end results of Shazam: Monster Society of Evil, I'm probably going to pass on this for now, but I'm sure I'll check out the trade(s) eventually.

Tiny Titans #1 - Art Baltazar's Patrick the Wolf Boy may very well be pure joy in printed form, so I'm looking forward to his take on what the DC Universe's own Teen Titans cartoon would be like. Plus, DCBS has the first issue on sale for the ridiculous price of 56 cents. At that price, I'll probably pick up a second copy to give to the kiddo.

The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury #295 - This book from Archaia Studios Press sounds crazy-go-nuts-fun. The greatest space adventuress in this or any other galaxy has a year to live and searches for the cure to what's killing her, having all manner of fun adventures along the way. Interrelated, but mostly done-in-one stories. And lots of space stuff. I was sold on the solicitation alone. This article from the book's writer (including part of the pitch) and this Newsarama preview sealed the deal.

Spider-Man Family #7 - The Mike Wieringo tribute issue, written by Todd Dezago and Mark Waid, and drawn (in apparently quite 'Ringo-esque fashion, if the cover's any indication) by Karl Kesel. I'm looking forward to reading this, but it still saddens me that that I have to.

Renaissance Press is re-offering all of the existing Amelia Rules books, which I will get around to getting at some point, because their awesomeness knows no bounds.

Top Shelf is also in the re-offering cool things business this month, serving up additional helpings of pretty much the entire Jeffrey Brown library. Again, I plan on catching up, but it isn't very likely to be this month.

And there's lots more, I'm sure, but honestly, looking at all the awesome stuff I can't afford to buy is cool for awhile, but it eventually turns depressing. It was true of the Sears Wish Book back in the day, and it's just as true now.

The 12 Days of Geeksmas

Cancelled due to lack of interest. My own, in fact. It's not nearly as fun or clever as I thought it'd be. So let's just ignore it, never speaking again of this bizarre cover-up.

For the record, though, real Christmas is awesome, and I'm enjoying the hell out of it this year, even if Liam refuses to let me walk around the house without a Santa hat on and forces me to watch Frosty the Snowman at least 3 times a day.

Oh, who am I kidding... I love those parts, too. Though I'm more than ready for the kiddo to move on to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer now, thanks.

So if you're keeping score at home: Legitimate Holiday Season 1, Made Up Stupid Blog Holiday 0.

We're all misfits! Some more than others, though.

The doll from the Island of Misfit Toys. No one knows her deal, huh? Everyone else's misfithood is pretty much explained... jack in the box named Charlie, cowboy on an ostrich, bird who swims, train with square caboose wheels, etc. But we're left to wonder about the doll. There's nothing physically obvious to make her a misfit, so most folks assume the issue's mental. Maybe she's the doll that never stops crying, or maybe she wets constantly. We'll probably never know for certain.

But personally, I think she shivved a Mrs. Beasley doll and took refuge in the one place that wouldn't rat her out to the toy cops.

A smattering of Previews goodness

Better hope you're getting lots of cash and/or comic shop gift certificates for Christmas or Hanukkah, kiddos, because there are a lot of good comics-related trade paperbacks and hardcovers in the December Previews catalog. The jerks. Just when I'm trying to cut back, too. Here are a few nuggets of The Good that caught my eye:

Well, DC has that Shazam: The Greatest Stories Ever Told book I mentioned a few months back, and I want want want that a lot, even if the Alex Ross cover is a little on the boring side.

Image has three books - two of incredible hugeness - that can't help me anything but awesome. The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus, which offers about a billion pages (okay, only 900+, but still) for $24.99 (and DCBS is offering it half off... woot!). And they're also releasing the True Story Swear to God Archives Vol. 1, which reprints all 17 issues of the original series for $19.99. There's a little more info about that over on Tom Beland's page, I think. And then there's Mixtape, the Jim Mahfood hardcover art book, which I'm willing to bet will be a thing of greatness to behold. I think that's a $24.99 dealie, too.

And Fantagraphics has what I think is the first of the new format Love & Rockets original hardcover graphic novels, The Education of Hopey Glass. It's a bunch of Locas pages from Jaime Hernandez, so I imagine it'll be pretty awesome. I'm maybe a third of the way through the giant Locas tome, so it'll be a while before I get to this if I keep planning to read the stories in order, but still, this is on my radar.

So. Comics. That I doubt I'll be able to afford or acquire anytime soon. But if you have the means, you should. And maybe buy some for me, too. I'm a good person, mostly. You should reward that.

From my shelf to yours (hopefully) - more eBay goodness.

I just put 6 more trades up for sale on eBay:

JSA Vol. 1: Justice Be Done

JSA Vol. 2: Darkness Falls

JSA Vol. 3: The Return of Hawkman

JSA Vol. 4: Fair Play

She-Hulk Vol. 1: Single Green Female

She-Hulk Vol. 2: Superhuman Law

All good reads, but stuff I realize I'll probably never read again, so I'd like to pass 'em on to good homes. For money.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12!

I like Family Guy alright, but I'm often bugged by the fact that every other joke is essentially "This is worse than that time that (insert situation here, then quick cut to pop culture referencing non-sequitur scene)."

But every now and then, one of those cut aways is absolutely brilliant. Like this one, for instance:



(And I'm sure I'll lighten up on the YouTube blogging soon. But not today.)

A bit of everything to help get the content train back on track.

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving (unless you lived outside of the U.S., in which case, I hope last Thursday was decent for you), and that you enjoyed the temporary TPS title banner celebrating my favorite Turkey Day side dish, Green Bean Casserole (mine was particularly well-made this year, if I do say so myself). The current banner, of course, celebrates the best gag from the only funny two-and-a-half minutes of the episode of The Simpsons a couple of weeks back, and at the top it will stay until I get bored or Fox threatens to sue.



Hey, speaking of Turkey Day, Deep Ape, the Mystery Science Theater 3000-themed blog, says that MST3k.com has a bunch of bumpers from the old MST3K Turkey Day marathons posted in its video section. I know most people don't think you can really call it Thanksgiving without a Macy's parade and a Detroit Lions loss televised for all the world to see, but the Turkey Day marathon (30 straight hours of MST!) was always my favorite bit of Thanksgiving TV, and I miss it a lot.

And I'm not alone... Bully missed it so much that he staged his own!



If you're the sort of person who likes to keep track of such things, Newsarama has a list of all the currently known Earths out of the 52 that make up DC's current multiverse (and because it's Newsarama, the comments are full of corrections and general asshattery). And if you want still more parallel Earth goodness, here's a Wikipedia article listing pretty much every alternate Earth ever even hinted at in DC's history.



One of Us: Cute Scottish Folk Rocker Edition

On the Today show this morning, cute Scottish folk rocker K.T. Tunstall told Al Roker that she named her new album "Drastic Fantastic" because she really likes comic books, and that the title sounded appropriately comic booky. Al Roker got all excited about this, but Tunstall was quick to point out (cutely, and Scottishly) that she's not so much into superheroes, but stuff along the lines of Sin City.

Roker, who obviously paid no attention, then proceeded to ask her what superpower she'd like to have. Tunstall played along, though - passing on her God-given right as a Scotswoman to utterly destroy Roker with a devastating headbutt, which showed remarkable restraint, I thought - and gave a rather endearing answer about wanting to have good luck powers, so that people in her vicinity would magically have the proper bus fare and stuff. She then played some song that I paid no attention to, because her singing voice isn't as accented as her speaking voice, and I'm a sucker for a good accent. Liam seemed to dig the song alright, though. The boy does love himself some music.



If you're at all a fan of both old and new Doctor Who, you should really be reading "The Ten Doctors" over at Rich's ComixBlog, now at 67 pages and counting. Fanfiction to be sure, but well-constructed fanfic that shows a real appreciation and depth of knowledge of the subject matter, and a fun, zippy art style to boot.



Lastly, Dafna over at The Bispectacult defines joy, and I'm hard-pressed to disagree. (Also, a new episode of the Bispectacult podcast at last!)

Shrinky Links

Hey, the "movie without a name so everyone just called it Cloverfield for some reason" appears to actually have a name now. And it's Cloverfield. Huh. Given the secretive nature of the ad campaign, I have to wonder if that's even the final title. Anyway, there's a new trailer up, and it looks pretty cool. You even get a brief glimpse of the monster. Or at least its... what is that, a thigh? Something.

In any event, it's nice to see they've switched from viral marketing to actual marketing. Because, sometimes, I kind of like knowing the product or service I'm being asked to pay for.



DC's February solicitations are out, and while most of 'em are pretty much more of the same, I am so their bitch on this one:

SHAZAM: THE GREATEST STORIES EVER TOLD TP
Written by Bill Parker, Dennis O’Neil, Elliot S! Maggin and others
Art by C.C. Beck, Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Barry Kitson and others
Cover by Alex Ross
An earth-shattering volume collecting stories from Whiz Comics #2,Captain Marvel Adventures #1,137,148, Marvel Family #21, 85, Shazam! #1, 14, DC Comics Presents Annual #3, Superman #276, L.E.G.I.O.N. '91 #31, Power of SHAZAM! #33 and Adventures in the DC Universe #5.
Advance-solicited; on sale March 26 • 224 pg, FC, $24.99 US
Thank you, DC, may I have another? Anyway, I have a few of the stories in other books and/or single issues, but anything that gets DC to reprint some of the old Fawcett material is worth supporting. Plus, that DC Comics Presents story is a blast, and I've always wanted to read that Superman vs. "Captain Thunder" story, so I'm psyched for this.

Funny that Otto Binder doesn't get any credit in the "written by" credit, though. I'd hate to think he got shuffled into the "and others" column, or worse yet, that he was left out completely.



Episode 327 of the Comic Geek Speak podcast features an interview with Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance talking about his new comic with Gabriel Ba, The Umbrella Academy. Not only notable because he's kind of a big name guest for a podcast, but because he comes off as a thoughtful, intelligent, down-to-earth guy who sounds like he's in this book for the long haul. Which would be refreshing to hear from either a rock star or a celebrity comic book writer, so to to hear it from a dude who's both is pretty cool. Also, the man knows his comics, and has some particularly fun stuff to say about Silver Age Marvel. A fun listen.



Why I don't pay attention to online rumors: baseball edition.

So one of my invisible MySpace friends is this dude who reports on all manner of Red Sox news, and he posted several bulletins today about Boston's attempts to re-sign free agent 3rd baseman Mike Lowell. The first is a link to a story about how talks between both sides were "going nowhere." A few hours later, there's another link to a story about how things were actually looking up. A few hours later still, there's news that they reached an agreement, and Lowell will return. This looks to actually be the case, thankfully, but still, that's a pretty short time for a complete 180, don't you think?

Take very little that you read on the internet seriously, folks. Hell, I don't even trust most of the stuff I type myself.



Come on... you know you want an early glimpse at this year's Black Friday ads.

Quick show of hands...

How many of you out there tuned into The Simpsons last night just to see Alan Moore, Art Spiegelman, and Dan Clowes (okay, and maybe Jack Black, too)?

Now how many of you fast forwarded through all the boring stuff about Marge's gym that literally muscled its way into being the "A" plot?

Yeah. Me, too.

In case you missed it...

Here's the BBC Children in Need special Doctor Who bit with David Tennant and Peter Davison. Enjoy it before YouTube takes it down!

Lazy YouTube Bloggin'

Not the most high concept gag in the world, but this is one of my favorite SNL sketches ever. Enjoy it until YouTube takes it down!



And one more while we're at it... the crowning achievement in the lounge singing career of Nick Winters:

Pretty Sketchy - Hardware by Denys Cowan



Hardware, title character from a series published by the late, lamented Milestone Media (through DC Comics), drawn by Denys Cowan at a con in Bangor, Maine, in, IIRC, 1994. Before this, I had no idea you could nail so much detail with a Sharpie.

5 up, 5 down: Animated Charlie Brown

The idea of this is simple: list 5 pros and cons of a particular topic. Figured I'd start with something I've seen a lot of, lately - Charlie Brown TV specials (Liam is obsessed at the moment).


The Pros:

1. Let's get the big one out of the way first: A Charlie Brown Christmas is the single greatest piece of holiday-related television programming ever. This is not opinion, but a flat-out fact.

2. Most of the best of the specials adapt well-loved storylines from the strip, and adapt them very faithfully at that, right down to dialog and recreations of individual panels.

3. They used actual children for the voices, and even left in some of the minor line flubs. It makes everything sound that much more authentic, and proves that there's little in life funnier than listening to little kids say big words.

4. The This is America, Charlie Brown series and Veterans Day-themed What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? are a clever way to make kids learn a little history as they're entertained. Bonus points to WHWL,CB? for taking place directly after Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!) continuity-wise, since Chuck, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Marcy, and Snoopy are depicted on their way back from their French exchange student experience. I thought that was a fun nod to one of my favorite non-holiday outings of the Peanuts gang.

5. The sadly-short-lived Saturday morning show, The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show, featured several segments with Rerun on the back of the Van Pelt family bicycle, and I always enjoyed the strips those were based on. Rerun was always a lot more awesome than he ever got credit for, especially as he got older and wanted to be an underground cartoonist.

I could go on (and on and on and on), but I have to move onto...

The Cons:

1. Eventually, they ran out of good holidays. It's pretty hard to work up excitement for an Arbor Day special (even if the show itself is surprisingly not-that-bad).

2. They tended to run out of good ideas in the 80s. Like that one where Snoopy turns Charlie Brown invisible. And Flashbeagle. Nobody needed to see Snoopy in legwarmers. Nobody.

3. They actually showed the Little Red Haired Girl. And, IIRC, they gave her a name, too (I think it was Heather). This just seems so wrong, and there was no way any depiction of her could do justice to the 30-40 years she'd been built up in everyone's heads at that point. And not to be mean, but what we got for the LRHG really wasn't the sort of girl whose looks would set Charlie Brown's heart permanently aflutter and drive Peppermint Patty to tears, I'm sorry. Those huge red circles for cheeks always creeped me out.

A Special TV Presentation: You Can Pull Better, Charlie Brown!

4. I don't remember which one it was off the top of my head, but one of the later entries actually used a real human voice for the teacher, Miss Othmar, and not a muted trumpet. Like seeing the adults' legs in the infamous golf tournament sequence in the strip, it was just very jarring and contrary to the world we had long since been presented.

5. In It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown (which marked the LRHG's onscreen debut), everyone blames placekicker Charlie Brown for losing the big football game, even though it's clearly Lucy's fault since she is apparently incapable of not snatching the football away from Charlie Brown. Even as a little kid, that pissed me off... like Charlie Brown didn't have enough problems in his life without everyone treating him like shit for stuff he didn't even do.

And now the next items up for bid...

Selling some comics trade paperbacks on eBay:

Jack Staff Vol. 1: Everything Used to be Black & White

Jack Staff Vol. 2: Soldiers

Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 1

Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 2

Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 3

Bid early, often, and honestly!

2600 Redux

A while back, I made a bunch of fake Atari games using the Atari Label Generator. I used a very 70s picture of Stan Lee in one of them, calling the game "Stan Lee: Swinger." The joke was poor, and I apologize for it wholeheartedly.

This is obviously a much funnier title:


I'm ashamed that I didn't think of this sooner.

A proud day for our great nation.

Blazing Saddles is showing on American Movie Classics right now, and I'm happy to report we've finally reached the point as a society where this movie can be aired on basic cable without the various bodily noises from the baked bean scene getting cut.

Progress!

Remember, remember the 9th of November...

because that's my wedding anniversary. Erin and I have been married 4 years today!

(Our wedding reception really did look like this. Wolverine can do the Electric Slide like nobody you've ever seen. He truly is the best there is at what he does.)

In case you were wondering, the traditional 4th anniversary gift is fruit or flowers. The modern gift is an appliance.

Yeah, we're skipping those. We prefer to give each other gifts we actually want. Silly, ain't it?

Anyway, happy anniversary to my one true!

Ahem. Woohoo.

Schilling will be back for one more year and gets to retire as a member of the Red Sox!

Kevin Youkilis wins the AL Gold Glove for first base!

The Sox are negotiating to keep 3rd baseman (and World Series MVP) Mike Lowell on the team!

Jeez. All kinds of great news outta Boston today.

The Dig List: 11/6/07 - Mostly older stuff.

You know the drill: I read/watch/experience something and if I like it, I give it a hopefully brief write-up here.

Weird Secret Origins - One of those squarebound, faux 80 Page Giants DC published a few years back which, as the title suggests, reprints the origin stories of some oddball and/or supernatural characters: Dr. Fate, the Spectre, Congorilla, Animal Man, Enchantress, Bizarro World, and Metamorpho. Varies in quality, as most gold & silver age DC tends to do, but fun when it succeeds. The Enchantress story was the highlight for me. I only ever knew her as a villain from her Suicide Squad days, so her beginnings as a hero with the god-awful nickname - "the Switcheroo Witcheroo;" doesn't that just make you wanna hurt someone? - were fun to see. I want to read more of those.

GLX-mas Special 1 - Probably not quite as funny as it wants to think it is, but it has its highlights, most of which involve Squirrel Girl and her establishment as probably the most powerful superhero in the Marvel Universe (not that she cares). Some good artwork from Paul Grist in one story, too, even though he probably should have been working on Jack Staff or Kane at the time.

Black Panther (the Priest run) 1-6 - Only just now discovering this, which means I have a long way to go yet, but most of it can be found pretty cheaply these days, so I've got that going for me, which is nice. I really enjoy the groundwork being laid here... the worldbuilding of Black Panther's homeland, Wakanda, and its (and his) place in the world; the look into the legacy of the Black Panther mantle; the secondhand recounting of BP's adventures through the audience identification character, his very Michael J. Fox-like state department handler. I've heard this called "Marvel's Starman," and I'm starting to see what people mean by that.

Yotsuba&! Vol. 2 - I dismissed the first volume as light entertainment - fun, but ultimately pretty frothy. But I kept thinking back to it, and I looked at it more fondly each time I did so, so I figured I'd give the second book a shot, and I'm glad I did. It definitely grows on you with time, and by the end of this, I finally saw what it was that makes this series so enjoyable to so many. Anyway, in this volume, Yotsuba imitates a gangster movie, goes swimming, eats some cake, hunts for a frog, and tries to let her dad sleep peacefully, among other adventures. Charming antics ensue. If nothing in here makes you laugh or even just grin broadly, then you're a probably a bad person who doesn't like puppy dogs or Christmas, either. Jerk!

To the striking WGA members...

Good for you, folks. I sincerely hope you get the piece of the pie you so richly deserve. If I miss a few shows as a result of your actions, oh well. I'll get over it, I'll find something else to do in the meantime, and I'm sure I'll be back if/when you are.

And to the showrunners and actors out there showing their solidarity with the writers, I salute you as well. Nice to see people in charge acknowledging what really powers their shows.

Get out there and go all Norma Rae on their asses, WGA!

Video to Go!

Lazy night = music video linkblogging.

Let's get the inevitable Juliana Hatfield video out of the way first. Here's Universal Heartbeat:



Next, we have the Aquabats with Super Rad! (the picture quality is a little off):



XTC with The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead:



And we'll end with the full version of my first ever favorite song, Fish Heads by Barnes & Barnes (it takes a couple minutes to get to the song itself, and yes, that is Bill Paxton you see):

Thoughts on Spider-Man 3 - Disjointed and Bullet Pointed (Also? Pretty Spoilery.)


Yup, it's "let's criticize a movie on the internet" time! Not everything is completely negative, though, so I've got that going for me, which is nice.

  • So, was the main goal of the movie to make me kind of hate Mary Jane Watson? Because if so, mission accomplished. Whiny, needy, vain, jealous, fragile, and willing to throw herself into the arms of the first dude who comes along the second things get slightly difficult. Honestly, she was practically the unbilled fourth villain; it's like this was a campaign film for the pro-Gwen segment of Spider-fandom.

  • And Gwen was awesome in this movie, though the modeling thing came out of left field. It's not enough that's she's smart, nice, and looks good in a headband? Weird how she had some sort of independent connection to just about everyone else in the movie, though; Erin suggested playing "Six Degrees of Gwen Stacy." I'm hoping they bring her back whenever they get around to Spidey , though, as she didn't have nearly enough to do here.

  • Neither did her father. If you're going to go to the trouble of hiring an actor the caliber of James Cromwell, maybe give him more than a half-dozen lines?

  • Okay, almost nobody had enough to do, because they tried to cram in entirely too much stuff and didn't give any plotline the time it deserved to really grow. Except the MJ/Peter strife, which they pounded into the ground. Even at 2 hours and change, you can't cram in 3 villains (or 4), two different love triangles, the MJ/Peter stuff, the Harry/Peter stuff, the city's mercurial relationship with Spidey, the Daily Bugle stuff, the rise and fall of Eddie Brock, the arrival and seduction of the black costume, Sandman's family, the truth of Uncle Ben's murder, the origin of Venom, and the long-awaited return of the Cake Girl* into one movie and hope to do justice to any of it. I thought they tried to shoehorn too many characters and storylines into the first X-Men movie, but Spidey 3 takes the cake.

  • How does Spider-Man even have a secret identity at this point in the movies? He's never in the damn mask! We're not paying to see Tobey Maguire fail to emote, we're paying to see Spider-Man. If he's in costume, he's in the mask, plain and simple. He gets enough face time as Peter Parker that he doesn't need it when he's supposed to be Spidey, too.

  • I was happily surprised that Topher Grace was actually pretty good as Venom. Not that he had enough to do either, though. And did they ever get around to calling him Venom?

  • Hey, for once, they didn't kill every villain by the movie's ending. Sandman just kinda gets to float away ("So, I sort of accidentally killed your uncle that time, but we're cool now, right? Because I've got this thing and... yeah, I'm just gonna go."), and while it's implied that Eddie and the symbiote vaporize, we never do see a body.

  • Has the movie version of Doctor Connors always just had the one arm? I didn't notice in the previous movies. Nice nod to the comics, there. I hope we do eventually get the Lizard in one of these movies as a result.

  • Bruce Campbell is still awesome, and once again, one of the true highlights of the movie. Is it too much to hope they bring him in a bigger role somewhere down the line? He'd be the best Mysterio ever.

  • I know it was almost universally panned, but the whole "Spidey Night Fever" sequence was probably my favorite part of the whole movie. It made suffering through all the Emo Pete bits worthwhile.

  • Entirely too little of J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, but the bit with Betty reminding him about his blood pressure meds was pretty damn funny.

In the end, while I wouldn't call it a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, it did a few things well, so at least it ended up being more fun than not. Not by a lot, admittedly, but still. In terms of superhero movie comparison, I'd say I liked it less than the first Fantastic Four movie, but more than the second. Damning with faint praise, to be sure, but there ya go.




* But I kid Cake Girl; she didn't actually seem quite so ponderously extraneous this time. Way to go, Cake Girl!

Bizy Backson (sorta)

Not much blogging energy this week, and I don't see that changing for the next few days.

I trust the three of you can keep yourselves occupied until I come back?

And now we are so happy, we do the dance of joy!

You know, I was happy to see the Red Sox win just one World Series in my lifetime. But two in four years? Well, I feel like Jonathan Papelbon here:

People call it the Riverdance, but I see bits of Thriller in there.

And he's set to do the World Series version (theoretically with Josh Beckett) at the victory parade in Boston Tuesday. I read somewhere he'll be sharing a flatbed truck with the Dropkick Murphys for just this purpose, in fact. Awesome.

Anyway, well-earned congratulations to the 2007 Red Sox, and condolences to the 2007 Rockies... although honestly, Rockies, your fan base could use a little pick-me-up. Maybe it's because I'm used to a Fenway crowd, but I've never seen a more sedate crowd, even in times of excitement, than the Colorado faithful at Coors Stadium in Games 3 and 4. Wake up, people, it's the World Series! It's exciting! As annoying as those Dane Cook ads were, the man was right about at least that much.

Here's hoping for a great 2008 season in Boston. And that they re-sign Mike Lowell. And most especially that they tell that obnoxious prima donna A-Rod to stick it when he inevitably comes sniffing around for a job.

UPDATE - And oh, look... Major League Baseball is mad at A-Rod and his agent for timing their announcement to specifically divert attention away from the Red Sox and the World Series itself. Heh. I doubt they can do it in this case, but I hope they fine the jerk for unsportsmanlike conduct. Heavily.

Well played, Death Note. Well played.


Okay, so after reading the first volume of Death Note, I sort of understand the near-universal praise it gets. I'm not usually a big fan of horror comics, no matter the nationality, but they've hooked me well and good with this one. I don't think they got me for the same reasons they latched onto the imaginations of most other folks who've read it, though.

For the uninitiated - and in as simple terms as I can describe it - it's the story of a brilliant teenager, Light Yagami (he's the dude above who doesn't look like Hot Topic's #1 customer), who finds a Death Note, which is the notebook of a type of death god called a shinigami. If you write someone's name in the book, they die. Light sees this as his chance to improve the world, so he starts writing criminals' names in the book. This doesn't go unnoticed by police worldwide, who start attributing the deaths to a killer they dub "Kira" and do everything in their power to track him down. Light enters into a cat and mouse game with the law, particularly mysterious master sleuth "L," as he becomes increasingly corrupted by the power of the Death Note.

It's a compelling plot, to be sure, and a hell of a page turner, but that's not what ultimately grabbed me.

Look at it this way...

Light's the smartest kid in his school, perhaps even all of Japan. He wants to be a great detective when he grows up. He's even been known to help his father, commissioner of one of Japan's highest law enforcement agencies, solve crimes at the dinner table.

HE'S ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN GONE BAD!

Tell me that isn't brilliant.

The sort of thing you talk about in the dugout when your team is up by ten runs or more.

More lazy YouTubing, but it's funny.

Royce Clayton and Coco Crisp from the Boston Red Sox, talkin' about tacos.



PS - 13 to 1? Holy crap. I like to see the Sox thrash the competition as much as the next guy, but maybe save a few of those runs for the upcoming games? I mean, Dice-K pitches Saturday night. You guys'll need all the support you can get then.

Plinko, salutation, and some good songs.

Saw my first episode of the newly Drew Carey-ed The Price is Right today, and as luck would have it, I tuned in just as they were beginning Plinko. And yes, my friends, a chip got stuck on the board, so Drew had to break out this blog's very namesake to knock it free. He said it was the first time he ever had to use it, too, so he seemed excited. Except he called it his Plinko Wand. See, that just sounds dumb. He corrected himself the second time he had to use it, though (And yeah, the contestant got stuck twice. She didn't seem the sharpest sort to ever traipse across that stage.), and it was back to being a Plinko Stick. Thank goodness. I didn't want to have to change this blog's name for freakin' Drew Carey. Wand. Pfeh!

Incidentally, still not sure how I feel about Drew as the host. The rushed, mumbled game descriptions, the constant giggling... it's kind of annoying. But I appreciated how he kept laughing at how silly some of the prize descriptions were, sort of like he couldn't believe what he'd gotten himself into. When they talked about an MP3 player speaker thing shaped like a car, he just about lost it. Unprofessional, sure, but entertaining TV.

And even at his worst, he's still a better host than Rosie would've been. Last thing we need is a game show with production numbers.




Happy Fifth(!) Bloggyversary - and (sniff...) goodbye - to Johnny Bacardi! Don't be a stranger, JB.




Guided By Voices singing "Teenage FBI" live on the TeeVee:



And here's the video for "Signal in the Sky" by the Apples in Stereo:

We have no alternative!



I remember when I saw that on TV for the first time... my jaw dropped, and for two crucial reasons: 1.) it was a TV ad for a comic book, which was a pretty mind-blowing concept; and 2.) it was an ad for a really cool looking comic book.

It was also a source of great frustration for me... since that first issue was $1.50, my parents wouldn't buy it for me. Baxter paper or no, $1.50 was super-expensive for a comic book in 1982. I later got the oversized Marvel Treasury Edition reprint in my Christmas stocking (which also cost $1.50, IIRC, but was much larger, therefore more worthy of the spendage, I guess they thought), but it wasn't quite the same (though seeing the art all biggy-sized was something I did appreciate). I finally got around to getting a copy of the real deal a few years back... not that I was a big Joe collector anymore, but just to finally have it on principle. I was not disappointed. Sometimes, having a thing really is as pleasing as wanting it. Suck on that, Spock!

I know there's no real way of gauging it, but I would love to know just how many kids got started reading comics because of that one commercial (or any of the ones that followed... they made sporadic ads for issues at least as late as the introduction of Serpentor in #49). What a gateway drug that book was!

The Five and Ten (Doctors)

Tenth Doctor David Tennant is going to meet the fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, in a special segment of BBC's Children in Need event in November.

Not the first time the Doctor has ever run into himself ("When you travel around as much as I have," he once said, "it's bound to happen sometime."), but it will mark the first time it has ever occurred within the continuity of the new series. So while it sounds fun (I always enjoyed multiple Doctor stories, even if they do end up being rather silly), it'll be really weird, potentially even a bit uncomfortable to watch. I mean, the costuming alone shows how much the show has changed in its new incarnation. So I'm thinking they're wise to do this as a one-off thing for a charity event rather than making it part of a regular episode. That way, the folks who don't like it can just erase it from their personal continuity.

But still, I'll admit I'm pretty psyched to see this. 5 looks like he needs to lay off the jelly babies a bit, though. (And I can't wait to see the theories that fandom concocts to explain why he looks older here... it'll make that Season 6b stuff seem like child's play, I bet.)

The Dig List: 10/21/07 - The Older Stuff

As I said in the last Dig List, I've picked up a bunch of back issues on the cheap lately, so here are some quick thoughts about those.

Remember, folks - Trusty Plinko Stick is the blog that has never heard of timeliness.

Super-Villain Classics - Galactus: the Origin #1 - It's hard to beat a good, old-fashioned Marvel origin yarn from the likes of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, even if it's kinda dumb. And this is, but it's a fun dumb. Kirbytech and, yes, Krackle out the wazoo make everything better, though.

Master of Kung-Fu #75 - I may have mentioned this here before, but whenever I find a run of MoKF issues in a cheap bin, I always have to buy at least one, usually based on whichever cover is the most fun (since, and let's be honest here, just about every issue of MoKF is just about the same). This had Shang-Chi fighting a robot sea monster, to which I can only say: "Here, Mr. Comic Merchant, sir. Take my 50 cents." Mike Zeck artwork on the inside... always nice, even if his style was still just coming together at that point.

Ms. Marvel (current series) #10 - Second part of a two-parter in which Ms. M fights an alternate universe counterpart, and Rogue and Beast appear. Story is meh, but the real attraction here was the Mike Wieringo art, which was really excellent, and elevated the whole affair up a few notches. It still just kills me that we'll never see anything new from the man.

Marvel Premiere #31 - Woodgod! The cover blurb calls Woodgod "the most bizarre super-hero of all," and for once, that's not just the standard Marvel hype. Unless you think that there's a more outre character concept out there than "genetically engineered satyr created by two nerve gas-creating scientists to fill the childless void in their life;" if so, your mileage may vary.

You know, there's enough madness here for an entire post all its own, so I'll save that for some other day, and just say for now that while it might not have been good in the classic sense of the word, it was compelling and sort of fun all the same.

Robin #159 - Tim and the latest love interest (um, before Wonder Girl, I guess?) go on their first date. Typical Gotham shenanigans threaten to derail it, but don't, and our boy gets an all-too-rare-for-him-these-days happy ending (no, not that kind, pervy). I've enjoyed all of the Robin issues I've read from Adam Beechen and Freddie Williams II (yes, even "Batgirl gone bad," since I always hated the gimp-masked Batgirl, anyway), so I'm left wondering why I haven't been reading all along. I'll have to catch up sometime.

Marvel Two-in-One #21 - The Thing meets Doc Savage back when Marvel still had the rights to Doc. And IIRC, this is the one time he ever crossed over with the Marvel Universe proper (his Giant Size Spider-Man appearance doesn't count, since it just reprinted an existing story that the Spider-Man story in that issue built off of). It's not great, but dopey fun in that typical MTiO way, though it's weird that Bashful Benjy didn't recognize Doc immediately, since the man looks so distinctive and Ben claims to be his biggest fan!

Marvel Team-Up (1st series) #135 - Spider-Man meets Kitty Pryde, and helps her rescue two bratty kids she's babysitting from some non-mutant Morlocks. Better than it sounds. Slightly. But Spidey and Kitty do their own Fastball Special, which is worth seeing once in your life, if you're the sort who would like such a thing.

And there's other stuff, but that's enough wordliness for now. It's not like I'm trying to kill you all with small white text. Not that you'll ever prove, anyway.

Awk-ward...

Knowing too much about the behind-the-scenes of comics is like knowing too much backstage info about wrestling... most days, the real life knowledge taints a lot of what you see, but there are those other times when it all just leaves you feeling very, very uncomfortable.

This was today's For Better of For Worse strip:

Okay, so it's always been accepted that Lynn Johnston based Elly and John Patterson on herself and her husband (who was even a dentist, just like John). And I remember reading recently that Johnston changed her initial retirement plans - she was going to be re-running old strips with occasional new framing sequences; however, it has ended up more like new strips with occasional flashbacks - after her real-life husband recently left her for another woman.

So I put the question about this strip to you: poor timing, or parting shot?

Either way, sometimes you really are better off paying no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Maybe I really have been living in a cave?

It's 2007. I'm 31 years old. How am I just now discovering Guided by Voices and Neutral Milk Hotel? You people are supposed to keep me informed!

Pretty Sketchy - Fred Hembeck and the power of Shazam!

In honor of the announcement of this:

900 pages squiggle-kneed goodness from the pen of Fred Hembeck for just $24.99, due out in February, today's Pretty Sketchy is a piece from the man himself.



The original Captain Marvel, drawn by Fred, and commissioned for me by my wife Erin for our second wedding anniversary back in 2005.

The moral of the story is twofold: 1.) Fred Hembeck is awesome, and you should buy his book; and 2.) my wife is awesome for commissioning a piece from one of my favorite cartoonists ever for an anniversary present. Life is good sometimes.

The Dig List - 10/14/07

Haven't done one of these in awhile, and between DCBS and a semi-regular local comics & collectibles show, I've had a nice stack of fun comics to read lately. So here are some (hopefully) brief thoughts on some of those, possibly spoilery.

New(ish) stuff first:

Dr. Thirteen: Architecture and Morality TPB - Mmm... metatexty. Could very easily have been one long "But comics were better when we were younger!" rant, but thankfully went the "there's still life in these characters, and interesting stories can still be told with them, even if they don't technically fit the newest world order" route instead. Fun story by Brian Azzarello, astoundingly gorgeous art by Cliff Chiang. In a year of excellent - if under the radar - comics stories, this stands out as one of the best.

(Interesting that one of the Architects was supposed to be Grant Morrison, since this was precisely the kind of story he was telling in Animal Man. Did Azzarello use him merely because he was part of the 52/IC/FC team, or was it a subtle, tongue-in-cheek way of saying we often eventually turn into that which we once railed against?)

First in Space - The story of Ham, the first chimp shot into space by the U.S. as a test for the Mercury program. Cute, if slight, telling of the story. Could be fun to read with the kids, provided your ready to explain to them what happened to those chimps in the unsuccessful ground-testing exercises. A good read on an interesting subject. Makes me really want to read Laika from First Second now.

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century 6 - Seriously, couldn't they just call this LSH Adventures? Anyway, the animated Legion (all of it, for once) meets (and fights) the 31st Century Green Lantern Corps, including future co-Lantern of Sector 2814 (and dual legacy member), Jordana Gardner. She must take after Guy's side of the family more than Hal's, since she's a really cool character. I hope we get to see more of her (and her Superman fanboy co-Lantern) in future issues. And they resist the typical Johnny DC book urge to end the story with everyone learning A Valuable Lesson, so bonus points for that. I know the books are aimed at younger kids, but even they know when they're being talked down to, DC.

All New Atom 15 - In which our man Ryan Choi is plucked - blissfully and literally - from the Search for Ray Palmer snoozefest and returned to more interesting things. Is Gail getting all metatexty on us, too? Long story short, still great, and at its best when allowed to be its own entity, not just another crossover vehicle.

Spirit 10 - The fourth-wall-breaking framing sequence was fun, and something Eisner himself would've been proud of, I'm sure (again with the meta!), but the main story, while a fun idea, was a little too heavy handed with its message, and entirely too of-the-moment to have much shelflife. Nothing ages worse than topicality. Go back and read old Bloom County strips if you don't believe me. Still, even a misstep on this book is better than most everything else, so it's got that going for it, which is nice.

Johnny Hiro 2 - I was a little less interested in homicidal sushi chefs than I was in the giant monster from the first issue, but still... homicidal sushi chefs is a pretty great idea. Mix with a fun main character, one of the sweetest love interests in any comic today, a plot centered around keeping food writer and Iron Chef judge extraordinaire Jeffrey Steingarten happy, and a couple of Alton Brown cameos, and you've definitely got Fun Comics.

Blue Beetle 18 & 19 - Loved the first two trades, promised I'd keep reading in that format, picked these up on a whim because I wanted to see if the quality kept up... and I'm completely hooked. Enough that I may just cave and follow the monthly, because honestly, this book has everything I'm looking for in regular superhero comics, and I don't see the point in denying myself that. Also, it seems like one of those perpetually "on the cancellation bubble" titles that could probably use my help. I'm thinking of a larger post on just why I love this book so much that I'll write up in the not-too-distant future, but for now, just accept that it's fantastic and well worth your time. As someone said over in Devon's comments a while back, it's "Spider-Man done correctly."


Okay, that's enough eyestrain for you people tonight. I'll cover the older stuff from the comic show later.

It just seems inevitable.

Pushing Daisies is far and away my favorite new show of the season.

It's doomed, isn't it?

I think I preferred it when they lied.

So this morning during the Today show, I saw an ad for some new nasal allergy spray called Veramyst. The usual warnings ran in the small print across the bottom of the screen - use as directed, consult your doctor, discontinue if blah blah blah. However, there was one that stood out:

"We are not exactly certain how Veramyst works."

Now this is either the greatest drug commercial on-screen warning ever or the scariest. I haven't decided yet. I guess I should appreciate the honesty behind the statement, and the laws that required it, but it's far more unsettling than reassuring. It sounds more like the starting point for an SNL commercial parody than a real ad... didn't "Happy Fun Ball" start more or less the same way?

In the end, I know that this sort of approach in advertising is trying to protect me, but honestly, I'd rather they just made shit up, even if it was something completely outlandish. If they can ask me to believe elves make cookies in trees, then maybe they can also tell me that gnomes make nasal spray in a sylvan glen.

Freebies and the Beans! And Fashion, I guess?

My favorite bit out of Tom Spurgeon's great interview with Larry Marder:

"I’m going to concentrate on Beanworld for the immediate future. The old trade paperbacks are mostly out of print. So one of my most immediate tasks is to get all the previously published material back in print in a viable format for today’s marketplace. Plus, the material that would have made up the fifth collection was never published at all. And there are various other Beanworld odds and ends floating around that are probably worth being collected too."
More Beanworld is a good thing, but bringing the previous material back into print, especially the stuff that didn't get collected the first time around (and that I have still yet to find in single issues)? That makes me very happy indeed. Hoo-hoo-ha and a hoka-hoka-hey!




Good comics that have been printed in the past but you can now enjoy for free on the inter-ma-net:



New Alex Ross design for Captain America's costume:


Old Alex Ross design for movie Spider-Man's costume (unused):


Let's see... colored bits on the head, shoulder, torso, and fists, with everything else just black. There's a recycling joke dying to be made, but I'm just not that snarky today. Feel free to come up with your own.

Not that I even dislike that Cap uniform all that much, per se. I just think it's a little too obviously derivative of both his own work and Archie Comics' the Shield. And way too shiny. And the gun's dumb. And I definitely like the old one better. And the black Captain/U.S. Agent costume. And the Ultimate costume. In fact, I think I like the Ultimate costume best of all, which is weird because I hate the Ultimates. Go figure.

But for a non-Steve Rogers Captain America, I think it's alright. Not great, but alright. Passable, anyway. The shininess has got to go, though. As someone over on the Comic Geek Speak boards said, the glare makes it looks like a luge outfit.