When I was 28, it was a very good year...

The following things made 2004 a pretty groovy experience for me. No real order, per se, but it goes without saying that the first two are tied for Definitive First Place and are The Best Things Just About Ever:

  • Erin and the first year of wedded bliss spent with her (the way the calendar falls, the last 1/6 of 2004 technically counts as Year 2, but whatever)
  • News of impending parenthood (no word on gender yet, though hopefully in a few weeks, so we can start calling the baby something other than "The Walnut")
  • My dad is responding well to his radiation treatments and his doctors expect him to beat back the threat of cancer once again. And for those of you keeping score at home, this is Brush With Cancer #2-A (#1 was in the kidney in the early 80s; #2 was prostate in the early 90s; and #3 was lung a year or two ago; this latest is a flare up of the prostate stuff, hence 2-A and not #4). And yes, I am aware of how scary my family medical history is.
  • Brand new babies of friends and family, providing some cuteness to the world and helping to give me a much needed crash course in newborn/infant wrangling. Welcome to the world (in chronological order), Connor Enright, Lily Bailey and Lucas Bouthiette!
  • After an 86 year championship drought, the Boston Red Sox finally won the World Series. And yes, they’re losing several players to free agency, but so far, they’re keeping the ones that really matter, so stop trying to kill my buzz here.
  • On a related note, I got to see the Sox at Fenway 3 times this year: the first game was the first home game against the Yankees (15 rows behind home plate, no less!), an interleague game against the Dodgers, and Game 3 of the American League Division Series, where they swept the Angels and went on to meet the Yanks in the ALCS. Best part? All 3 games were cheap as free, since Erin got the tickets through people she works with.
  • We also go to see games in Baltimore and Philly, too. VERY nice ballparks, and well worth visiting even if you don’t necessarily care about the teams playing.
  • I got to go to my first “big” comic con, Wizard World East in Philadelphia. The comics industry (and Wizard itself) didn’t seem to give a damn about the show, but I had a great time.
  • Road trip: Rhode Island to Baltimore (to pick up Erin’s grandma at the airport for a family gathering) to Delaware (location of said gathering) to Maine (to see my family) to Quebec City (just because) and then to a different part of Maine (to see friends) and back to RI. Ten or eleven busy but amazing days (FYI: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, is crazy fun on 4 or more beers a night).
  • Movies: Garden State, The Incredibles, Spider-Man 2, Kill Bill Vol. 2, The Bourne Supremacy (though I wish it hadn't been filmed in Epliepto-Ramatm) and some others I’m sure I’ve forgotten.
  • Music: Modest Mouse, Franz Ferdinand, Garden State Soundtrack, Green Day, Northern State, Dropkick Murphys, Less Than Jake and this comp from Springman Records I paid a buck for at the WARPED Tour 10th Anniversary Show but am totally forgetting the name of right now (it’s good, though, trust me).
  • Comics: DEMO, Adam Strange, Plastic Man, Fantastic Four, My Faith in Frankie, JLA: Classified, True Story Swear To God, It’s A Bird… , Jack Staff and that colossal Jack Kirby book Marvel put out recently that I love already even though I’ve done little more than thumb through it after opening it on Christmas morning.
  • Having a job I enjoy and actually feel good at.
  • And last, but far from least, the continued health, safety and prosperity of my family and friends.

I hope that doesn't sound like bragging, because that's not what I'm trying to do here at all. I'm just extremely thankful for all of the good fortune that I've had this year. I hope you all had a great 2004 as well, and may 2005 treat us all kindly. Enjoy every sandwich, folks!

No "link" puns were mistreated in the writing of this title.

Made a few updates to the links earlier, adding some more blogs and websites and generally tidying up a bit. Check out the new additions, as they are all worth your time.

Here's a fun little personality test from the BBC, called "What Am I Like?" According to the results, I'm what they call a "Mastermind." Gotta admit, I like the sound of that. One more reason to dig the English, I suppose. Of course, by their reckoning, that means I'm introverted, kinda moody, given to overindulgence and have an odd sense of humor. Pretty spot on, actually, even if that does all sound a bit on the negative side.

More great holiday entertainment: The 30 Second, All-Bunny Version of It's a Wonderful Life. How the hell did we ever entertain ourselves before this here intermanet thingee?

Courtesy of Homestar Runner, here's what just may be the world's first e-snowglobe. And while we're on the subject of Homestar, here's my favorite of the site's Decemberween toons, in which Strong Bad, well, see for yourself.

Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link(ing)

I'm running out of "link" related crap puns to use as titles, but unfortunately, that doesn't seem to stop me from trying.

I doubt there's anyone left in the blogoverse who isn't aware of this by now, but Mike Sterling, world renowned supporter of Super Pets, World Eaters, Hyperintelligent Gorillas Bent on World Domination and, of course, moss encrusted muck men, is having a contest where he's giving away three copies of the new Swamp Thing TPB (reprinting the first 6 issues of the new series by Adam Strange and The Losers scribe Andy Diggle). For details, go here. Contest ends Dec. 31st, so enter already, Chumly.

Also on the Earth-Comics front, Tim O'Neil's The Hurting is back from its moving-related hiatus, and proves once again why we should all pretty much just name Tim as Prime Minister of Blogdom already and get it over with. He's currently dealing with the fallout over Identity Crisis in his own insightful, intelligent and milk-spurting-out-of-your-nose-ingly funny way, so far incorporating both Sherlock Holmes and The Lorax into the mix.

A little bit of randomness

If you haven't been reading the daily installments of this year's X-Entertainment Advent Calendar, you've been missing out on what might be the best holiday-related anything of 2004. It's the story of two Lego stormtroopers and a clone of Mare Winningham and their attempts to save Christmas, Santa Claus and the forgettable Random Jim from the machinations of a robot waiter and another clone of Mare Winningham. All set against the backdrop of this year's Playmobil Advent calendar, no less. It's funny as hell, and it proves Crow T. Robot's assertion that a good action sequence does work at Christmas.

And since I've finished my finals, I'm actually able to read for fun again (for a little while, anyway). I've currently been speeding through Legion of Superheroes Archives Vol. 1 (which my wife bought me for our wedding anniversary because she's the most amazing woman ever), which I will hopefully talk about at length when I'm finished, but here are a few early observations:
  1. I love Silver Age DC stories, though my affection in no way reflects their quality. They're great fun, but also among the most terrible fiction ever written. Great ideas, TERRIBLE dialogue.
  2. The invention of hardcore comic book continuity was a fantastic thing, and well needed in the Legion's case, as major background details vary between each story.
  3. I actually think I'm starting to understand Legion fandom now. That can't be healthy.
  4. Like Mike Sterling, I have to say that I am profoundly pro-Super Pet, and I vote.

Pretty much the tastiest fudge ever.

I probably don't seem like the type of person to post a recipe, but deep down, I'm a wannabe foodie, and two of my very favorite shows on TV right now are Good Eats and Iron Chef (needless to say, I'm pretty psyched for Iron Chef America: The Series, as it combines my appreciation for both of these things). Also, if you've noticed, I link to Alton Brown's website over to the right there.

Anyway, this is a recipe for peanut butter fudge I got off of Good Eats (the episode entitled "Fudge Factor"), and it's probably one of the best tasting things I've ever consumed in my life. It's just too good not to share with the masses, so here you go:

"1 cup butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound powdered sugar

Microwave butter and peanut butter for 2 minutes on high. Stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes. Add vanilla and powdered sugar to peanut butter mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Pour into a buttered 8 by 8-inch pan lined with waxed paper. Place a second piece of waxed paper on the surface of the fudge and refrigerate until cool. Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container for up to a week."
Source: FoodTV.com
I never said it was healthy, just really tasty. Make two batches: one for your holiday gathering and one for yourself. You'll be glad you did. Fatter, but glad.

It had to happen sooner or later.

I now embark upon the pop culture/comics blogging rite of passage called the DC Solicits for March 2005. Today, I am a man, or at least a pathetic shell thereof.

Batman 638 - Let's see: Batman unmasks the Red Hood and looks all "Wha Huh?!?" on the cover. Which, of course, can only mean that the new Red Hood is Aunt Harriet.

Batman Chronicles Vol. 1- Reprinting Detective 27-37 and Batman 1. Not anything I'm particularly interested in, but I hope it does well enough that they start doing other series like this (Superman, Captain Marvel, Silver Age Flash, etc.). And at $14.99, it's put up or shut up time for those people who say they'd buy Archives if only they were cheaper.

Superman 215 - Jeez, you stick Fabio's head in place of Superman's and you'd have the cover for every romance novel ever. I think Jim Lee's angling for a new career.

Lex Luthor: Man of Steel 1 - The title sounds like it would've made for a dandy Weisinger-era "imaginary story." I think I'll pretend that it is anyway, since that'd be more interesting.

Adam Strange 7 - It's gonna rule. You know it. I know it. It could be 22 pages of Adam Strange buys an ice cream cone, and Diggle and Ferry would still make an exciting, genuinely intriguing story out of it.

Blood of the Demon- Byrne plays with Kirby toys again. It'll just break our hearts. Best we accept that now and move on.

DC Countdown 1 - Even at a buck, I'm still hesitant to buy this. It'll just feel like I'm encouraging them somehow. In the end I'll probably cave, but I'll hate myself in the morning. Especially if they really do off Blue Beetle.

Green Arrow 48- Judd Winick is bringing back the Duke of Oil. I don't know if he should be applauded or beaten. Probably both.

Justice League Classified 5 - I'm glad DC actually decided to publish "I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League" after all. This earns them some much needed brownie points in my book. Which I'm sure they'll fritter away by resurrecting Amethyst so she can be raped and murdered by the cast of Binky and His Buddies or something.

Plastic Man 15 - I think DC has just given up trying to market this book. I expect the solicit for the next issue to read "It's about stuff, kind of."

Seven Soldiers: Guardian 1 and Shining Knight 1- This whole Seven Soldiers thing sounds great, honestly, but I'm not a big fan of the 5,727,456,290,345,734 separate mini-series approach of it. Besides, it's Grant Morrison doing superheroes, so you know it'll get collected. I can wait.

Starman: Sons of the Father - Glad to see DC finally remembered to finish collecting this series, which is, of course, the best superhero comic book ever. Bear in mind, of course, that I am occasionally given to superlative.

Planetary Vol 3- Yay, this is finally out in paperback! I can catch up with the story, which I last read about, oh, 3 years ago (hardcovers are spendy and I work in a library. I am poor, so very poor).

Lucifer 60- You know, it's been so long since I've seen this book on a comic store shelf that I honestly didn't know it was still being published.

Flash Vs. Gorilla Grodd Statue - Okay, Flash looks oddly misshapen, but the way Grodd looks, all knocked on his ass with his tongue hanging out like he's a little kid playing dead, that's comedy. Not $200 comedy, but comedy all the same.

Black Mask Action Figure - You can make him a major player in the comics, make him torture and kill a Bat Family member, give him a creepy little action figure that comes with a miner's helmet, a hacksaw and a power drill, and it still won't matter. Nothing will ever... EVER... make me care about the character of Black Mask. Next stop, Yawnsville Junction. Population: Black Mask.

Space Ghost Coast to Coast Busts - They come in Space Ghost, Zorak and Brak flavors (sorry, Moltar). The very existence of these must make Alex Ross cry. Good.

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Nostalgic Blog Post

I don't remember how I got there, but the other day I discovered the Modern Humorist's archive of Encyclopedia Brown parodies. They're probably old news to most people by now (the most recent is dated 2002), but they were new to me. If your as behind the times as I am and haven't seen them yet, by all means go check 'em out. They're all hysterically funny (especially The Case of the Death Row Dubya and The Case of the Pirated MP3s), and the authors have the style of the books down cold. They ended up making me kind of nostalgic for the genuine articles, which I devoured with a passion I usually only reserved for comic books as a little kid.

See, when I was really young, I used to love playing detective. I'd throw on this old fishing hat (the kind with the big brim and flaps in the back) that I thought looked like Sherlock Holmes's deerstalker cap, grab the little magnifying glass my parents bought for me at a yard sale and proceed to scour the neighborhood for "cwues and feevs" (that's "clues and thieves" for those of you who don't speak the dialect of Late 20th Century Suburban New England 4 Year Olds). My dad would often go with me, since sometimes I needed a Watson, but mostly because I wasn't allowed to cross streets by myself, and we'd walk up and down the street collecting "evidence" (which usually consisted of oddly shaped rocks, loose change and the occasional soda can). I never did solve any crimes, but I liked to think that was because my constant patrols scared off any potential criminal elements

So I suppose it was only natural I took to Encyclopedia Brown books the way that I did. This kid was living the dream! He really was a detective, and probably the smartest pre-teen in the world, to boot. He and his friend, Sally, ran an actual detective agency out of the garage (charging 25 cents a day plus expenses), and the entire neighborhood would come to them to solve whatever the problem of the moment was (usually Bugs Meany swindling some other kid, though there was other stuff going on, too). And if that weren't enough, at least once per book, he'd end up solving a legitimate police case for his dad, the town's chief of police. Chief Brown would talk about some new baffling case during dinner, and before desert was served, the kid would inevitably figure it out for him (and think about that... if the Gotham City police look bad for having to depend on a vigilante to do all their actual work, how useless must the Idaville PD be if they have to depend on a 10 year old for everything?).

Needless to say, I didn't want to just emulate this kid, I wanted to be him. Even more than I wanted to be Superman, and I wanted to be Superman a whole lot. From my point of view, the kid had it all: the job, the attitude, the eventual girlfriend (once he finally "saw" Sally, and you gotta figure that was inevitable), and best of all, he was a brainy kid who had friends and didn't get beat up all the time. To nerdy little me, that looked like the best of all possible worlds. I tried to emulate him, but it never really worked. Again, there was no real criminal element in my neighborhood, and my mom laughed at the detective agency sign I made, so that never even got hung up. And then there were those damn solutions in the back of the books; I was a pretty smart kid, and I'd figure out a few of the mysteries, but so many of them seemed to rely on some really arcane knowledge that no real little kid would ever actually know (Encyclopedia always did, though; the kid was like friggin' MacGyver, except not old enough to own a pocket knife).

So the Doughty Detective Agency never really got off the ground. With such a low batting average in the actual mystery-solving department, I figured I was probably better off leaving the sleuthing to the experts. Still, it would've been pretty cool. Though I would've charged way more than 25 cents. Maybe even a whole buck.

Now with fancy new commenting...

Courtesy of Haloscan. It's easier to use than Blogger's internal commenting feature, and easier to look at, too, so long as you don't mind the occasional ad.

"I'm the Doctor, by the way."

I consider this so cool it needs it's own post.

BBC's official Doctor Who site has posted the first teaser for the new series. And there was much rejoicing.

Please let this air on BBC America. Or Bravo. Or A&E. Or Sci-Fi. Or Country Music Television, for that matter. Any channel, really, so long as I get it!

Stuff and more stuff

Let's see, in the last 24 hours I have turned in the group paper that has been ruining my life for the past few months, I watched a blurry image of my baby swimming around in my wife's belly and I got an oil change for the Hyundai that only cost a penny. I hate to jinx myself, but I have to say that it's been a pretty good stretch of time. So let's talk about some stuff before it all goes to crap, huh?

As usual, I'm about a week behind on my comics reading, so I'm a little late to the bandwagon on saying this, but the third issue DC's Adam Strange mini-series continues to rock in ways that comic books haven't (for me, anyway) in a long, long time (minor spoilers ahead, by the way). The story is beginning to pick up the pace as Adam is picked up in the supposed remains of the Rann system by a Thanagarian battle cruiser, hauled back to Thanagar and tried for the very crime he's investigating. Shades of Star Trek 6, I know, but Diggle keeps it from being too "been there, done that" with his characterization, dialogue and breakneck pacing. And let's face it, Pascal Ferry was born to draw cool space stuff. It's like some sort of divine mission for him, I think. And for special bonus fun in this issue, play "Spot the Star Wars reference." I'm geeking out over this book in a big, big way. It's not just comics, it's one hell of a ride. So glad I didn't wait for the trade on this.

I also finally picked up the new Captain America #1, which I knew I'd end up kind of regretting, but I did it anyway. Should've stuck with my gut on this one. It wasn't a bad story, per se, it just wasn't my cup of tea. First of all, why do they keep trying to remake Cap Classic into Ultimate Cap? Seriously, same crew cut, same pouch/utility belt, same perpetual grimace and same surly attitude. Ugh. If I wanted Total Asshat Cap, I'd have bought some Mark Millar garbage. I hate to sound like one of those HEAT people, but I miss the old Cap. My Cap. Dedicated? Sure. Determined. Yes. Patriotic? Obviously. Idealistic? Hell's yeah. Raging bastard, no way. Captain America, like Superman, works best when he's the ideal of everything we wished we could be. He's a born leader, the kind of guy you'd follow into Hell, not the guy you'd push into Hell. Cap, to me, will always be the way he was under writers like Roger Stern and Mark Gruenwald. This guy Brubaker's showing us might as well be a completely different character.

But maybe that's just me starting to show my age and turning into one of those Sad Cranky Bastards who proclaims everything was better when I was a kid (but it really was!). If you like this sort of thing, than Brubaker's first issue will definitely be the sort of thing you like. But none for me, thanks.

Meanwhile, over on TV, I love love love the new Rankin-Bass style Office Max ad set to the tune of "Rubber Band Man." It is catchy and cute and makes me want to buy office supplies for my loved ones (Erin would actually really appreciate that). Definitely one of my favorite commercials all year, right up there with the "Eye of the Tiger" Starbucks ad ("GLENN! Glenn Glenn GLENN!").

And The Amazing Race continues to stay excellent, but all the teams I like keep getting picked off! If this keeps up, I'll soon be rooting for anyone but Jon and Victoria (aka Yelling Guy and Doormat Trophy Wife). But here's my question: while the contestants were all in that IKEA store on this week's episode, did anyone else get a monster hankering for Swedish meatballs and lingonberry sauce? I sure did. And there's a new IKEA store an hour or two away in Connecticut. Hmmm...

Anything to put off the paper I should be working on

You are the eighth Doctor! Friendly and warm, you
are the most human of all the Doctors. Your
sense of style is a bit old-fashioned. You have
a bit of trouble figuring out exactly who you
are at first, but no worries. Eventually you'll
find your way.

Which Doctor (from Doctor Who) Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

So I'm the guy who only gets one official adventure? Thanks heaps, Quizilla. Could be worse, though. I could've come up Hartnell.

More about that vast wasteland

My brain is fried from working on my Accounting and Organizational Behavior projects, so I want to talk about something that requires little or no thought whatsoever: good ol' television.

I'm glad to see that The Amazing Race is back for another season. This is really "the little show that could." It's not often a show gets the chance to build up an audience slowly; usually it's instant hit or straight to cancellation. Unless, of course, you happen to be on CBS, which lets shows find niche audiences and then leaves 'em on for damn near forever (do you even know anyone who watches JAG?). So that's one huge factor in TAR's favor. Plus, there's the fact that it's actually a decent show... certainly the best thing to come out of the reality TV boom, and its a darn good game show to boot. And thanks to (mostly) word of mouth, more people have been discovering that with each successive run (Erin and I came on board with Season 2).

This season seems like it should be a pretty good one. This group of contestants seems like they'll bring the proper mix of competitiveness and high drama. No favorites yet, but I already enjoy making fun of the high-strung blue-haired dude and his doormat wife. There's a functional relationship right there. I think if the wife pushes the guy off the mountain, the producers may pony up an extra million dollars to give to her for doing humanity a favor. It was also very cool to see that the first episode took place in Iceland, where Erin and I spent a few days on the way back from Scotland at the end of our honeymoon. We found it hilarious that people kept getting lost, since there are few major roads outside of Reykjavik (seriously, stay on the 1 and you'll see almost the whole country). We also thought it was great that the pit stop was at the Blue Lagoon, but hoped that the contestants got to enjoy the spa there (the building that those people who overshot the pit stop went into), because that is one of the more excellent places on Earth. Anyplace where you can swim outdoors in November and be perfectly warm (and enjoy a drink alongside some German tourists while doing so) is alright in my book.

Elsewhere, Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi debuted on the Cartoon Network this week. This is a cartoon (duh) starring the ridiculously cute Japanese pop combo Puffy AmiYumi. It won't be remembered as one of the great classics of American TV animation, but it's a pleasant enough way to spend a half hour. Like the band itself, the overwhelming charm, aforementioned ridiculous cuteness and catchy-as-hell songs will probably win you over in the end. The bullfighting segment was particularly funny. The show is probably best in small doses, though. Prolonged exposure to this much sweet cuteness may cause diabetes.

Over on Earth-Comics...

I looked at that Spider-Man: India book today. Now, I realize that as far as Marvel is concerned, Spidey's a brand, not a character. And in order to achieve their goal of becoming a worldwide media conglomerate, they wish to extend that brand into new areas. And yes, sometimes brand extension requires a few cosmetic changes to work in those new areas, like when Coke alters their name or logo in order to sell in the Asian marketplace. Honestly, I understand all that, even if I don't necessarily like it. However, I'm thinking that if you want to market a book about an Indian version of Spider-Man to Indian people, maybe you should make the characters actually look Indian? Seriously, all the characters looked pretty caucasian and more than a little manga-esque. If you skim the book quickly, the clothes and architecture are the only outward indications of this having anything to do with India.

Had to get that off my chest. Thanks for indulging me. Anyway, here's a quick rundown of what I actually did read for real this week. There may be a spoiler or two, so, you know SPOILER WARNING and all that:

Fantastic Four 520 - I said it before, and I'll say it again: Waid knows how to write this book. It's a great mix of action, humor, and even a few emotional moments (Sue and Ben's memories of Johnny - especially the Sue bit - were legitimately touching, I thought). He gets that the smaller, familal aspects of the FF are just as important as the grander "imaginaut" stuff, and that's what this book should be: the story of a family who just happen to have these amazingly huge scale science-fictiony adventures in the Negative Zone or the Blue Area of the Moon or whereever. Plus, Quasar shows up, and I'm enough of a geek to find that kinda cool.

Plastic Man 12 - I was kind of underwhelmed here. I liked Scott Morse's last fill-in issue with Woozy Winks on a date, but here everything seemed really forced and unfunny. Of course, following up the last few issues by Baker (and that date story) would be tough for anyone, but still, this just seemed rushed to me.

Micronauts 13-15 - Everyone says the book went downhill when Michael Golden left the art chores after issue 12, but so far, things are still fine from my perspective. Bill Mantlo's next storyline kicked off to a fine start (even if the dialogue is a little hokey; fun cameos by SHIELD and the FF, though), and you've got Howard Chaykin on the drawing board (though his style isn't as immediately recognizable, likely due to the Al Milgrom inks), so what's not to love? Hard to believe there was a time when Marvel put so much energy into making a book based on a toy license actually be good. I mean, jeez, even Rom had its moments of general good-a-tude.

Some thoughts about what I've been seeing on the TV of late

1. Pedro Martinez, you are THIS close to being dead to me.

2. Okay, so I'm already tired of hearing about this Monday Night Football/Desperate Housewives fiasco. But what I don't get is this: considering people are still up in arms over the Janet Jackson thing - which happened nearly a year ago, mind you - why did anyone at ABC or the NFL think that this wouldn't kick off yet another national hissyfit?

3. Alton Brown is a genius. On a recent episode of his Food Network show, Good Eats, he not only recants his earlier claims that all stuffing is evil, but proves that the ideal stuffing recipe is nothing more than a culinary version of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. An odd assertion, to be sure, but somehow, he manages to make the metaphor work. Catch a repeat of the episode (called "Stuff It") and see for yourselves.

4. Apparently, CBS fired the guy who decided to pre-empt the final 5 minutes of CSI: New York with the news of Yassar Arafat's death. Maybe that says something about our country, and how we ultimately value entertainment more than hard news, but honestly, I don't really care about that. Unless it's something really pressing, like war, alien invasion or the second coming of Christ, I think they can wait until the top of the hour. Especially when the top of the hour would be 11 p.m., and the freakin' news would be on anyway!

Yeah, maybe my priorities are out of whack, but you just don't cut out of a mystery-type show just in time for the big reveal (and then cut back during the closing credits!) without expecting a few heads to roll.

I'm... I mean... wow.

Posted by Hello

World, this is my child (so far). Kid, this is everyone.

(The baby would wave to y'all, I'm sure, if it had arms at this point)

Yup. That there little walnut looking thing will, by June 2005, end up as Madeline or Liam Doughty (God willing... please, God, please be willing). At this point, Erin is about 9 weeks along. We've known about the baby for about a month now, but today was the first OB/GYN appointment, and therefore the first sonogram (sadly, I had to work and couldn't go with her, but at least I get a picture). It hasn't seemed real to me yet... with no initial outward signs, it all seemed largely conceptual to me (Erin, on the other hand, has been very aware of the full reality, being either nauseous, "fall asleep in your spaghetti tired," or both, at any given moment). But this... wow, this is really real and happening. I think it's just starting to sink in.

I'm gonna be a daddy! :)

Linkin' Logs

Shame? What's that?

First off, I received linking goodness from David Welsh over at Precocious Curmudgeon the other day, which is greatly appreciated and gladly returned. It's always a good read and well worth your time. Plus, there's this picture of Iron Man with an afro. It makes me happy.

Imperius Rex! Someone found Atlantis! Maybe. Or not. But it's possible. Theoretically. In any event, Namor, Aquaman, Lori Lemaris and Mark Harris were all unavailable for comment.

Via Augie at Various and Sundry: the teaser trailer for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. No actual footage, but the idea that this movie is FINALLY happening is enough to start the fanboy salivation. If only DNA had lived to see this, you know?

Meanwhile, on Earth-Comics, Tom Spurgeon talks about the particular retail frustrations of comic book stores over at The Comics Reporter. Particularly in regard to how some comic stores never feel the need to actually open on time (yes, Million Year Picnic in Providence, I'm looking at you).

More later, because my other news deserves an entry all its own.

Quite possibly the greatest year in the history of history itself.

I should've posted this yesterday on the actual date, but grad school stuff had me busy, so here goes:

One year (and one day) ago, I married the most amazing woman ever. It sounds sappy, but I can honestly say this has been the best year of my life. Happy anniversary, Erin. I love you!

And no, I didn't forget my actual anniversary date. Between accounting class, working on two class projects and dealing with various and sundry familial issues, I didn't have time to post. But we did acknowledge the event with a quick lunch date and will celebrate in style Friday night.

On a related note, one year (and zero days) ago today (at around this time, no less), we were boarding a plane for Scotland. Wow, I would much rather be doing that then researching a paper on the merging of corporate cultures. Bleh.

Believing is Seeing (or, Cushlamochree!)

I want to talk about something happy now, so I 'm going to talk about Barnaby.

Barnaby was a newspaper strip created by Crockett Johnson back in the 1940s. You may have encountered Johnson before, as he's the creator of the popular Harold and the Purple Crayon series. Those books are a lot of fun, and if you like those (or just like things that are good in general), you should also get a kick out of Barnaby.

The title character is a typical young American boy whose life changes one night when his fairy godfather, Mr. O'Malley, flies through the window. O'Malley is a short, squat little man with pink wings and a cigar that doubles for a magic wand, and he's a real W.C. Fields type of character. He professes to be an expert on nearly every subject imaginable (he isn't), claims to be quite a handy magician (though we never seem him do much more than a card trick), and will go to any lengths imaginable to avoid work of any kind, preferring to raid Barnaby's parent's icebox (and its seemingly never-ending supply of cold legs of lamb).

Barnaby, naturally, takes to his fairy godfather immediately. Misadventures ensue, much to the chagrin of Barnaby's parents, who don't understand their child's fascination with his unusual new imaginary friend (and at one point haul him off to a child psychologist).

But is Mr. O'Malley really imaginary? That's part of the strip's charm. The situations O'Malley gets Barnaby involved in are outlandish (invisible leprechauns, talking dogs, disastrous radio broadcasts and so forth), but Johnson never gives us any indication that this stuff isn't really going on. In fact, Barnaby is constantly trying to prove to everyone that his fairy godfather really does exist, but by the time the parents show up, O'Malley has wandered off, either in search of food or to a meeting of the Elves, Leprechauns, Gnomes and Little Men's Chowder and Marching Society that he had previously forgotten (kind of like whenever Big Bird would try to tell everyone about Mr. Snuffleupagus).

Barnaby's parents tell him that they don't believe in Mr. O'Malley because they never see him, and seeing is believing. O'Malley turns this around on Barnaby, saying "Believing is Seeing." And I think that's the heart of the whole strip. Whether or not Barnaby's adventures are really "real" isn't important. They're real enough to him (and to Jane, the little girl down the street who later gets caught up in the happenings) because he believes, they way all children can make their backyard adventures come to life. It's all a matter of perception.

I'm willing to bet this strip was a huge influence on Calvin and Hobbes. The big difference, though, is that we occasionally see the imaginary bits that make up Calvin's colossal adventures (Hobbes as a toy, cardboard boxes and plastic dinosaurs), and Johnson never really lifts that curtain here (Barnaby is also much more well-behaved).

There's a lot of other stuff to recommend here, too. The strip is very much a product of its time, as we see references to stuff like old time radio and the then-new fascination with child psychology, and though the war is never outright mentioned, it does serve as a backdrop. Storylines involve air raid drill blackouts and scrap metal drives, and Mr. O'Malley has a great monologue at one point outlining the troubles of taking his proposed ventriloquist act on the road at that particular point in time (blackouts prevent seeing your name in lights on Broadway, and a tour of Europe isn't such a great idea). It could be very chilling, seeing the effects of war on even the lives of children, but to Barnaby, it's all just part of life at the moment, in the background but never really all consuming. Chalk another one up to the Greatest Generation, I suppose, because I doubt we'd never accept anything so terrible with that much rationality.

So besides just being a great comic strip (and yet more proof that the funny pages used to be so much better than they are today), it's an interesting cultural artifact in its way.

And Johnson's art is really enjoyable. Nice, simple lines, clean layouts... very minimal, really. Enough to set the scene, but not much more (but it doesn't come off as lazy - we're not talking Ernie Bushmiller-era Nancy here). The style lies somewhere between Peanuts and a Saturday Evening Post cartoon. If you've ever read the Harold books, you know what I'm talking about.

There is a downside to all this, though, as collections are long out of print. It has been collected sporadically from the 40s all the way up to the 60s or 70s, so there are older copies are out there in the world. You just have to be willing to hunt for them. I found a copy of the first 40s collection published by Holt on eBay a few months back for around $10. It can be difficult to find sometimes, but it's well worth it, especially since this doesn't look to be coming back into print anytime soon. It's a travesty, really. Someone needs to bring this back to the light of day. It's the sort of thing Kitchen Sink would've been perfect for, I think. Surely Fantagraphics is making enough off of Complete Peanuts to fund a project like this, hm?


In that last post, I sound pretty staunchly anti-Republican. That's not true... not really, anyway. I feel the same way about both parties - they both have some stances I identify with and some that I outright hate, and therefore neither really represents the way that I feel. Because, you know, I'm a rational being with a brain in my head, and sometimes I use it to actually think about things, rather than blindly follow party allegiance like some kind of diseased sheep.

Jeez, that didn't sound bitter at all, did it?

All that being said, though, if the Republicans had run John McCain 4 years ago, I would have voted differently then and now, and I think we'd all be looking at a much different America.

And if the Dems had run Wesley Clark this year, well, they still might've lost, but at least I'd have believed more strongly in the guy I voted for.

Electile Dysfunction: The Final Chapter

Yeah, I'm disappointed. Not terribly surprised, but disappointed. You see, the majority of Americans were, are and probably always will be scared of anything they consider different than themselves. Therefore, it's really not all that surprising that a campaign that played up to two of the biggest fears of the early 21st century (terrorism and - GASP! - gay marriage) ended up walking away the winner.

I think this proves just how out of touch the Democrat party is with most of the country.* The truck driver from Mississippi, the hog farmer from Oklahoma, the evangelical minister from Louisiana... they don't care about tax cuts and health care and budget deficits. They want to be protected from the suicide bombers, and the homos, and probably the homo suicide bombers, too. The Democrats tried to run on a platform of change. People, by and large, aren't interested in change. Change is different, and therefore bad. They're interested in the preservation of their way of life (even if in some cases its pretty hateful). The Republicans understood that and were able to capitalize on it.

Furthermore, I'm thinking the constant celebrity proselytizing didn't help matters for the Dems, either. When celebrities aren't on the screen, the stage or the playing field, most Americans (and I include myself in this group) really could care less about what they think. Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn are brilliant actors**, but people are sick to death of constantly hearing them preach about one subject or another. Fahrenheit 9/11 was a decent film, and it brought up some very good points, but Michael Moore himself is the biggest detriment to his own cause because he's such a raging, arrogant asshole. And unless you have the looks of a Leonardo DiCaprio or can hit as well as Barry Bonds (BALCO!) to back up that arrogance, no one is gonna tolerate you. And even if you do have the genetics or skills to back it up, you still better keep your opinions to yourself, because all you're good for is looking pretty or hitting baseballs, chumpy.

Okay, now I'm rambling. In the end, I guess I'm mostly bummed the guy I voted for didn't win. But that doesn't mean I'm going to capitulate or pack up and move to Canada or anything (though as Erin said, "Canada is lovely this time of year."). Ultimately, I have no choice but to do what I can on however small a level to work against the current "us vs. them" mentality currently so prevalent here in this country, even if it does make me a "bad American" (which someone actually called me once. Isn't that lovely?). It seems kind of hopeless, but I'm still naive and idealistic enough to think one person working on a grass roots level can actually accomplish something. I'm sure that'll be beaten out of me someday, so I should work with it while I still can.

I just feel sorry for anyone in this country who's gay. Or non-Christian. Or poor. Scientists will have it pretty rough, too. And teachers... librarians...

Oh, bother.

*I'd argue both parties are out of touch with reality, which is why I don't consider myself a member of either one, but hey, no one listens to me.

** Well, okay, Penn is more of a whiny, overwrought "emoter" than an actor, and he never should've beaten Bill Murray for the Oscar, but he's notable and vocal, so I had to include him. Begrudgingly.

Electile Dysfunction 2: Electric Boogaloo

I need to share this story. Can't believe I didn't earlier.

A local town council hopeful is a doctor, and his wife was standing outside the polling place trying to garner up last minute votes by handing out...

wait for it...

TONGUE DEPRESSORS. With "Dr. Schwaeger for E.G. Town Council" printed on the wrapper.

This is, officially, the oddest promotional item I have ever received for anything. Ever. Even more odd than the time at my college radio station when a record label sent us a box of Summer's Eve just for fun.

Needless to say, I voted for the guy. Points for originality, you know?

Electile Dysfunction

I wish I had come up with that term. As it is, I'll just have to be satisfied with stealing it.

So I went and voted today. I actually had to wait in line. I thought that was pretty cool.

Please vote today. It's really important. Vote for anyone you like, but be sure you're making an informed decision. We're talking about the future here, people.

Me? I voted for Brother Voodoo.

Okay, fine, not really. But part of me wishes I could have.

Anyway, here's hoping we actually have a result tomorrow. Or at least before Thanksgiving this time.

Baseball, Comics and things that go "Pleh" in the night.

Well, unless you live in a cave somewhere (or just don't care about baseball), you know by now that the Boston Red Sox won that there World Series thing. Obviously, I'm pretty pleased about this. Mostly for my dad, though. The man's been a Red Sox fan since 1944 (the year he turned 8), and has waited 60 years (and survived bouts with three different types of cancer in that time) to see this happen. Now, his prostate numbers are flaring up again and his oncologist has him starting a round of hormone and radiation treatments, so this is exactly the sort of thing he needed. I called him after the game, and I can honestly say I've never heard him so happy in all my life. That's why this event was so important to me.

I'm also glad that we probably won't have to hear any stupid Curse talk any more. As Manny Ramirez so eloquently put it, "I don't believe in curse, I believe you make your own destination." Or, to paraphrase what Peter Gammons said in real English on ESPN, the problem all these years wasn't a curse, it was pitching, and they finally figured that out. Now they get to reap the rewards and will pretty much be looked upon as gods in Boston for pretty much the next bajillion years. Except for those who go over to the Yankees in search of bigger paychecks, who will be damned for all time. And remember, Boston's got a HUGE Catholic population. They can do that sort of thing.

Anyway, for the best description of what it felt like to be a member of the Red Sox Nation on Wednesday night, check out the Sports Guy's journal of the evening over on Page 2.

Meanwhile, over on Earth-Comics, looks like that there Green Lantern fella is back. Or on the comeback trail, anyway. Jeez, I wish I cared. The whole thing bugs me because it's just another in a long line of cheap attempts to pop the fans in order to achieve short term gains. And what really bugs me is that it'll work. Again. The Green Lantern: Rebirth mini-series will sell well, because you have all those Hal Jordan fanatics in HEAT (Hal's Emerald Attack Team, or whatever the hell it is) all pledging to buy 20 copies each because their favorite character is back, plus the added curiosity buys of people wondering how the hell they're gonna pull this off. Then the TPB will sell well, again because the HEAT folks will scarf it up, as well as the curious fans who don't buy their comics (or at least mini-series) in floppy form. Then the inevitable ongoing series will debut and sell pretty decently... at first. Then, unless it's truly one of The Very Best Comics Being Published (and maybe lands a talent like Neil Gaiman or Grant Morrison to helm it), sales will drop off because the non-diehards will all do what they always do: ignore Green Lantern because they just don't care that much about the character in the first place. GL is like Iron Man, Thor or the Flash that way - he'll always have fans, but he doesn't ignite people's imaginations like a Batman or a Spidey. Sales will eventually drop to a point where they decide to do another event to pop the crowds because, hey, it worked last time! It's just an annoying, increasingly vicious circle, and just another reason why even though I love comics, I hate comics.

In order to end on a positive note (sorry, I really don't have anything to say about things that go "pleh" in the night; I was deliberately deceiving you), here's some quick reviews of comics I bought this week:

Demo 11 - Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan bring you perhaps the best issue of Demo yet, which also happens to be the best teen movie never made. No weird powers or happenings, just great storytelling. I'm sad to see this series end.

Adam Strange 2 - If Diggle and Ferry wanted to do an ongoing series version of this book, I'd be pretty happy with that. The story holds my interest so far (a literal Mystery in Space at last! Now, decades later, that title finally make sense), and Ferry draws space stuff really purty-like. There's a fun little Samus Aran reference (sort of) in there for you Metroid fans, too.

Fantastic Four 519 - Waid throws us a twist to end the story that I honestly didn't see coming, and it makes for a fun lead-in to his Galactus story. We're now in the 3rd great age of the FF, and I'm enjoying the hell out of it.

Plastic Man 11 - Haven't actually read it yet, but I thumbed through and it looks fun. Please buy this book. Please. Don't let it go gently into that good night while crap like GL: Rebirth tops the charts. Is that too much to ask, really?

UPDATE: Just read Plastic Man. Funniest issue yet, and by far the best thing to come out of the whole "President Luthor" storyline. I really want a "U.S. Out Of The Phantom Zone" t-shirt. Please buy this book. If I tell you it has Hal Jordan in it, will you each buy 20?

The Scariest Thing You Will Ever See on Film (and some other stuff)

Here's a nice little Halloween scare for you. Go rent the movie Super Size Me and watch the bonus feature called "The Smoking Fry." The film's director, Morgan Spurlock, conducts a little experiment, and if you dare to eat a McDonald's french fry after you see the results, than you're a braver person than I.

Elsewhere on the intermanet, Eric Neel and Andy Behrens talk about the joys and sorrows of hardcore SportsClix addiction over on ESPN's Page 2 site. Good little article, and I can definitely relate (though my Clix of choice tend to be of the Hero variety; but the baseball Clix do look like a lot of fun... if only I had money and free time), but they keep saying that the manufacturer is Topps. I think you mean WizKids, fellas.

(Sorry, but I was an intern, reporter and copy editor for a daily paper back home for a few years during and after college, and sloppy fact checking really irks me)

Abraham Linkin'

I wholeheartedly apologize for that particular title, though I'm obviously not sorry enough to not use it.

If you missed Jon Stewart laying the verbal smackdown on the Crossfire folks, and you can't look at the clip I posted earlier (maybe you're on dial-up, maybe you're at work, or whatever), you can read the full transcript here.

Wing Chun, mastermind of Television Without Pity, analyzes the Stewart appearance rather brilliantly on her blog, Hissyfit.

And in over on Earth-Comics, photo referencing is just getting WAY out of control. You want proof? Here's the cover for The Pulse #7. Now, from a business standpoint, I can see making J. Jonah Jameson look like J.K. Simmons, the actor who portrayed the characters in both Spidey movies. It makes for a recognizable tie-in for people who have seen the movies but might not know the comics so well, and he looked so much like the comic book version of the character, anyway, that it's really not much of a stretch. But come on, Colin Farrell as Nick Fury?!?! It could be worse, I suppose, they could've gone with David Hasselhoff, but still... Jeez, ya think Marvel is trying to pitch a SHIELD film project to someone in particular? Or are an increasing number of comics artists, either through laziness or declining talent, completely incapable of drawing people without copying People Magazine photos?

And besides, everyone knows that Nick Fury should look like a Banacek-era George Peppard. I mean, who's with me here?

Old Comics Day Previews

Wow, first Mike at Progressive Ruin links to me, and now Dorian from Postmodern Barney (another great blog I check out every day) hooks me up with linking goodness as well! All this attention is gonna make me blush.

Anyway, I'm really excited because my shipment of comics and TPBs I got in trade from Lone Star Comics came today. Every so often I go through my discard boxes (getting larger as I cull more stuff over time), see what the people down there are looking for (they post their extensive want list on the site under the "We Buy Comics" link) and ship it off in return for trade credit (you can get cash, too, but you generally get twice as much in credit as you would in cash, so I find that to be a much better deal). It's a win-win situation: they get books they're looking to sell, I get rid of stuff taking up space on the sun porch and get stuff I want in return. Maybe that's actually a win-win-win situation.

Since I knew my shipment was coming this week, I skipped New Comics Day even though two books I buy (FF and Plastic Man) came out on Wednesday. Old Comics Day, I find, is much more fun, especially lately. No super rape, no rapidly aged illegitimate children, no transformations into a giant, impregnated spider. So what'd I get? Glad you asked. Here are some previews:

Blue Beetle #s 1 and 3, Modern Comics reprints - 70s reprints of the Charlton BB book by Steve Ditko. I've been on a Ditko kick (what with all the talk in the Blogosphere about him lately), and the originals of this series are so astoundingly expensive. I want to read a comic book, not make an investment! Plus, I've gotta admit, I've been a big Beetle fan for awhile now, and those Question back-up stories are fun, if a bit heavy-handed.

DC Comics Presents #s 84, 87 and Annual 1 - 84 features Superman and the Challengers of the Unknown, with art chores shared by Alex Toth and Jack Kirby (possibly Jack's last DC work; I could be wrong, though). 87 is the Crisis crossover introducing the Superboy of Earth-Prime, with a story by Elliot S! Maggin and art by Curt Swan. Just a great comic book that I got rid of years ago and have regretted ever since. Now it's mine again. Annual 1 is a team-up of the Supermen of Earths 1 and 2 against their respective Luthors of the same (with Alex Luthor and Ultraman of Earth 3 thrown in for good measure).

Maze Agency #20 - The last issue I needed of the original series, mine at last! The greatest mystery comic series ever (IMHO), and this issue features a Bolland cover to boot. Wooo! Now anyone know where I can find Annual 1 and Vol. 2 #1?

DC Super-Stars #12 - The spotlight is on Superboy, featuring the controversial story by Cary Bates and Swanderson where young Clark fights some Yetis and possibly loses his virginity (I'll let you guess as to which part of that is controversial).

Black Panther #1 - The 70s version by King Kirby himself. I've thumbed through this briefly already, and it looks like it should measure up to the rest of his whacked out 70s goodness. I am SO looking forward to reading this.

Fantastic Four #84 - Yes, I'm also on Kirby kick. How could you tell? This is part one of the story that is essentially "The Fantastic Four Meets The Prisoner." Doom traps the FF (without their powers) in a place not entirely unlike The Village (#6's Village, not M. Night Shamalamadingdong's). From what I've read, Kirby wanted to do a comic book adaptation of The Prisoner, but it fell through, so he reworked some of his ideas and used them in this storyline. I picked up the rest of it at a comic show years ago, but was unable to find this issue at a price I could afford until now. Reading copies of expensive books rule.

And for TPBs, I got Animal Man Vol. 3: Deus Ex Machina and New X-Men Vol. 7: Here Comes Tomorrow. Yup, you guessed it: a Morrison kick as well. I've been looking forward to reading the conclusions to his runs on these two books for awhile now, especially Animal Man.

So now I'm looking forward to a night of Chinese take out, watching TiVo with the wife and, or course, reading my Old Comics Day swag. I gotta admit, I love my boring little life.

I'm a somebody, in a largely anonymous, internet sort of way.

Thanks to Mike Sterling over at Progressive Ruin for linking to me today. Mike's blog is great, and very widely read, so I sort of feel brushed by fame, or at least the internet equivalent thereof. So hearty thanks to Mike (and if you don't read Progressive Ruin regularly, you really should; the Swamp Thing paraphernalia alone is worth the trip), and a big hello to anyone who finds their way here from there.

"I'm not gonna be your monkey."

If you haven't seen it yet, then run, don't walk, over to iFilm and check out Jon Stewart's appearance on Crossfire. It's 15 minutes of some of the most awkward television you'll ever see, but it's grand and glorious and funny and nearly every word out of Stewart's mouth really needed to be said.

Stewart seems to chafe at the very idea of the role he seems to be assuming in the political discourse of our nation, but it's very easy to see how he got there: he says the things about the system that Joe and Betty Average-American-With-Moderate-To-Liberal-Views would like to say, and he's got the forum in which to do so.

Well ho-lee shit.

The Red Sox did it. They mounted the biggest comeback in Major League Baseball playoff history (some say the biggest comeback in sports ever, but I think that's laying it on a bit thick), defeated their arch-rivals, the New York Yankees, and now they're headed to the World Series for the first time since 1986.

Wow. Just... wow.

A lot will be said about this over the next few days (and probably beyond), all throughout the media, the internet, in every bar and around every office watercooler. I really don't think I can add anything too profound to the discourse because I'm in such awe at the moment, but there are a few things I do wanna say.

1. Most teams tend to place the burden of their success (or lack thereof) on the backs of a few key players. The Red Sox, on the other hand, lived and died as a team. More than that, really. They're a family (especially after they got rid of Nomar). In professional sports these days, that's extremely rare. The only other team I can really think of with a similar bond is the New England Patriots, especially during their first championship season. I don't think it's a coincidence that both teams are from the same region.

2. I'm even more impressed by the respect and admiration the Sox hold for their fans. What makes the Red Sox Nation different from other team fan bases is that we really do think of ourselves as a part of the team. And what makes the Red Sox different from other pro sports teams is that they seem to agree.

3. Johnny Damon wasn't in a slump during this series. As my wife Erin said, "he was just waiting for his pitch." Twice.

4. David Ortiz. Sweet Jebus, but that guy can hit.

5. To Mark Bellhorn: I'm not going to go out on a limb yet and say that all is forgiven, but I will give you mad props for finally deciding to show up. Welcome aboard. It's about damn time.

6. Fox showed two great images of Yankeeland during the Sox victory celebration. One was of Billy Crystal on the verge of tears. But the other one, the one that'll stay with me was of A-Rod standing in the dugout, looking pissed off and more than a little regretful. I laughed, because I am a bad person.

And now, onto the World Series, against whomever takes the NLCS tomorrow night (in itself, a great series; too bad Fox doesn't seem to think so). I want Boston to win, obviously, and put an end to all of this ridiculous curse crap once and for all. But win or lose, they had an absolutely amazing season. And they rose from three pretty humiliating losses to beat the Yankees. For the penant. At Yankee Stadium, no less.

In the end, that probably means more to me than any silly championship.

A little bit of late night comics linking

Elliot S! Maggin is considered by some to be the High Kong of Superman Writers. Those people may be right. I mean, come on, the man has an exclamation point in his name. They don't just hand those out, do they? Otherwise, you'd have a bunch of people running around saying, "Hi, I'm Dave! Jackson," or something.

But I digress, because I am both tired and soaring off the Red Sox Game 7 ALCS victory (more on that in a bit). Forgive me.

Anyway, Maggin wrote a number of great Superman tales over the years, not the least of which are two novels released around the time of the first two Superman films. The novels, "Superman: Last Son of Krypton" and "Miracle Monday," are pretty highly regarded, but sadly out of print at the moment. You can find 'em used on Amazon or on eBay without having to pay an arm and a leg, but if you're short on cash (or just lazy), you can read 'em both for free online thanks to the people over at the Fortress of Solitude.

You can read "Last Son of Krypton" here (with bonus material not published in the U.S. version) and "Miracle Monday" here. There are even eBook versions for your Palm Pilot if you're so inclined.

I started reading LSOK earlier this evening, and it's pretty good so far. There's a fantastic sequence with Lex Luthor where Maggin gives some great, original insight into the character's personality and motivations. And MM ties so strongly into his later comic book work (particularly Superman #400 and the two DC Comics Presents annuals with Superwoman) that it should definitely be worth reading.

If you're a fan, have some free time, and don't mind reading books on the computer (I'm not nearly "Star Trek" enough to ever fully adapt to doing that), they're well worth checking out.

Being a Red Sox Fan Means Generally Being Pissy in October...

But for the moment, they're still managing to keep hope alive. They finally eeked out a win after 14 innings tonight, sending 'em back to new York for Game 6 of the ALCS, thanks in no small part to the heroics of David Ortiz. Again! I see a pay raise in this man's future, and frankly, he deserves it.

You know who doesn't, though? Mark Bellhorn. How, in God's name, does he manage to hold onto the starting 2nd base spot? Does he have some sort of incriminating photos? Did Pokey Reese piss off the entire front office somehow? There has to be some sort of explanation, and those are the two that make most sense to me at the moment. He sure as hell didn't get there on talent. According to stats Fox showed during Saturday night's game, the man led the league in strikeouts this year and committed more errors at 2nd base than everyone who played 2nd for the Sox in 2003 combined. Yeah, there's starter material for ya. To paraphrase Homer Simpson, Bellhorn's the suckiest suck to ever suck a suck.

Anyway, now it's back to the Bronx. I realize the chances of the Sox winning the next two games in the lions' den itself is pretty slim. I love 'em, but this is the team that has snatched defeat from the jaws of certain victory time and again (and no, I don't believe in the curse; Boston has been plagued by bad decision making and some shit luck over the years, but there's no damn curse). But I'm from a long line of Red Sox fans, and it is therefore necessary that I believe. Unrealistic as it may sound, I believe that Schilling's ankle will magically heal itself, that Damon will come out of his slump, that Pokey will FINALLY assume his rightful place at 2nd (because, as we all know, Pokey coulda got it), that Ortiz can and will be the hero again, and that this, indeed, could be the year.

Besides, I hate seeing anything that makes Yankee fans happy. They're such assholes.

RIP Christopher Reeve, 1952-2004

Grandpa : Superman isn't brave.

Angus : Did you take your pills this morning?

Grandpa : Heh Heh. You don't understand. He's smart, handsome, even decent. But he's not brave. No, listen to me. Superman is indestructible, and you can't be brave if you're indestructible. It's people like you and your mother. People who are different, and can be crushed and know it. Yet they keep on going out there every time.

I include that little exhange from the excellent movie Angus to make a point. Christopher Reeve proved braver in life than he did on the screen, and that is no small feat when you're arguably the definitve portrayal of a character like Superman. A lot has already been said about him, and a lot more probably will, so I really only want to add one thing.

The list of people I've considered heroes in my life has always been pretty short, but he made it on there twice. Once when I was a little kid for being one of my favorite comic book characters, and again as an adult for persevering through an ordeal that would utterly destroy a lesser person.

I think that's significant.

Bored at work.

I would just like to say the the greatest word in the English language is phlebotomy.

Hippopotamus, onomatopoeia and pickle are all pretty great, too.

That's all.

One tiny bit of Comics LinkBlogging

Well, everyone else is doing it, so why can't I?

(And yeah, there'll be plenty of comics stuff here over time. I'm unashamed of my dorkitude. But I don't think I consider myself a member of "The Comics Blogosphere" proper. We'll see, though.)

I have to admit I've developed a small crush on USA Today's pop culture critic, Whitney Matheson, and I really enjoyed her latest Pop Candy column, all about her experiences at the Small Press Expo (or SPX if you're hipper than I am). It's done in a comic strip format, and it's pretty cute. Worth checking out. If you're looking for something a little more in-depth, though, check out Heidi over at The Beat. Maybe I'll get to go one of these years.

Photo worth sharing #1

This is a pottery shop in Dunkeld, Scotland, UK (not far from Dunkeld Cathedral). My wife, Erin, and I stumbled across it on our honeymoon last November. Yeah, it's probably silly to go to Scotland in November (it's a bit chilly), but not as silly as going to Iceland the same month (which we also did, but that's not important right now). We didn't go inside, but, well, you can't help but appreciate the name. Posted by Hello

If only Hollywood were this creative.

If you like superhero movies, it might be worth your while to check out two of the "trailers" currently featured over on TheForce.net, "Grayson" and "World's Finest." The first is about Dick Grayson resuming the role of Robin after the death of Batman, and the second is, as the title would suggest to Silver Age DC fans everywhere, a Batman/Superman team-up movie. They're low budget (not that you can always tell), and they'll never be made into real films, but they're a lot of fun, and better than a lot of full length superhero movies churned out by the soulless automatons at the major movie studios ("X2" and "Superman: The Movie" excepted, 'natch). Check 'em out.

Fun fact #1: "Grayson" features former WCW Nitro Girl Kimberly Page as "Villainess" (meaning Catwoman, but they can't come right out and say it, I guess).

Fun fact #2: The guy playing Superman in "World's Finest" looks kinda like one of my old supervisors from back when I worked at MetLife. Creepy.

Added 5:07 p.m., 10/5/04 - It's also worth your while to check out "Pink Five" and "Pink Five Strikes Back," which feature the adventures of Stacey, a Rebel pilot criminally left out of the original Star Wars trilogy. With any luck, one day she'll get her own action figure (If characters like Background NonSpeakingRole and OneLine BountyHunter can get figs, she deserves one, too... actual Lucasfilm property or not!).

Space, the final frontier... and it's about damn time!

Scaled Composites, the people behind the first privately-owned space vehicle, SpaceShipOne, won the $10 million X-Prize on Monday by successfully completing the second of two spaceflights within a week's time (to win the prize, a team needed to complete 2 such flights with a 14 day time period).

$10 million may seem like a small amount when you consider the huge amounts of money spent on space travel by NASA each year (even now, when they don't really do so much), as well as the fact that Scaled Composites investor Paul Allen (Microsoft billionaire #2, IIRC) has already sunk twice as much of his own money into the project. But they do fame, honor, prestige and probably more groupies than any bunch of balding, wrinkly white guys could ever dream of (There ARE space groupies, right? There are groupies for everything else these days). The money is an afterthought, really. It's the thrill of being the first people to do it that's the real prize.

Apparently Richard Branson (head of the Virgin mega-empire) was at the launch, and want to license the tech to make space tourism a reality within a few years. Well, it's about time. It's 2004, fer cryin' out loud! We were all supposed to be living in space years ago! All those Irwin Allen TV shows from the '60s had us traveling interstellar distances by the 90s ("Land of the Giants" was supposed to take place in the '80s, and the Robinson Family from "Lost in Space" took off for Alpha Centauri in 1997!), and even the Gil Gerard "Buck Rogers" show from the '70s had Buck going out into deep space by about 1990 or so.

And then, of course, 2001 rolled around, and we weren't anywhere near Jupiter. Nor were we anywhere near HAL in terms of computer technology (probably for the best, given the events of that particular film, but still... ).

Okay, now I'm rambling, but hey, the future has let me down. I want a house on Mars, and a robot dog and a Legion Flight Ring (or at least an Elroy Jetson rocket belt). Maybe a round, clear space helmet with a little antenna on top. Is that so much to ask, really?

Something by way of a beginning

Yup, just what the world needs. Another navelgazing weblog. But I figure my navel is just as worthy of a good gaze as anyone else's, so here I am.

Ideally, I'm doing this in order to make myself write more often. Like a lot of people, I've always kinda considered myself a writer. The thing is, I very rarely sit down and actually write. I figure that's a problem, and I should attempt do something about that. I'll probably just end up talking about comics and movies and TV shows like everybody else does, but at least I'll be writing. So that's something, I figure. It's better than sitting around thinking up things I could write, and then not writing them, which has been my M.O. for far too long.

And for those who don't know, the term "Trusty Plinko Stick" comes from The Price is Right, the greatest game show ever (it's Television's Most Exciting Hour of Cash and Prizes, you know). If you haven't watched it in years (or if you never have at all), there's this game they play sometimes called Plinko, where retirees or soldiers or sorority sisters (the 3 most frequent TPIR contestant types) slide these little discs down a giant peg board and into slots that can win them anywhere between absolutely nothing and $10,000 each. Sometimes the discs get stuck on the pegs, and Bob Barker has to get out his Trusty Plinko Stick (it looks like a golf club without the head) in order to knock 'em loose. It's a handy little tool, with a myriad of other uses, I'm sure, like knocking frisbees out of trees, maybe. Or sliding a pot across a countertop. It'd be a dandy classroom pointer. It could probably double as a pool cue in a pinch.

It'd also make for a great band name, but since I don't have a band, I'm using it here. On the off chance I actually learn to play an instrument, though (It's not too late! You can still learn to rock in your late 20s, right?), I totally have dibs on it. And then we're going to open for the punk band Showcase Showdown, making for an overly-thematic-yet-still-awesome double bill. Neither my lack of musical ability nor the fact that Showcase Showdown has long since broken up will snuff out this dream, for I am a foolish man.