But I'm off for real this time. Enjoy the holidays, folks. And pray for my car. I would prefer a few, actually semi-affordable repairs to the alternative of expensive repairs and/or having to buy a new one. But I'm not optimistic. I doubt even the combined might of Jesus and Santa could pull off a Christmas miracle of that magnitude. I really hate cars.
But happy holidays anyway!
Anyway, I hope you all enjoy Christmas, or the last few days of Hannukah, or whatever holiday you happen to celebrate in your house. Liam's still too young to really understand what's going on yet, but he does enjoy the lights and the music and at least some of the TV Christmas specials (How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Olive the Other Reindeer being the biggest hits), so it's been fun for us. I legitimately hope some of that passes along to everyone else.
(Tangent: Speaking of Christmas specials, check out the Christmas episode of Codename: Kids Next Door, called "Operation N.A.U.G.H.T.Y." It recasts Santa and some of his elves as the X-Men, and features breathless narration from someone doing a decent imitation of Stan Lee, or at the very least, Roger, the Stan Lee Experience, from X-Play.)
Anyway, in the interest of originality and bringing back into the world something else which had previously been lost, here's the surprisingly sweet Pinky & the Brain Christmas Special in three parts (honestly, if the ending doesn't make you feel at least a little gooey inside, you have no soul), courtesy of whatever copyright-infringing soul decided to upload it to YouTube. Enjoy, and have a safe and happy season, y'all.
2. This "new look" art style for Archie Comics? Not a big deal, so stop complaining about it. Especially if you haven't read an Archie book since 1978. Also, I'd like to point out that big change in the Archieverse is not unprecedented at all. Or are you still calling him "Chick?" *
*And while we're on the subject, if we were supposed to call him Chick way back when, why did they call the strip "Archie" in the first place? No wonder it never stuck.
See, the man at the comic store gave me this eMusic promo card a few weeks back. For whatever reason, eMusic partnered up with Marvel and crosspromoted their legal music download service with an upcoming collection of the next segment of Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men. I’m not really certain what either side actually gets out of this, but hey, the card had X-Men on it and offered me 35 MP3 downloads for the low, low price of Free Ninety-Free. I’m not made of stone here, people.
There was a catch, of course. Obviously, you had to sign up for the actual service before they’d let you have the trial period, because they’re not that stupid. But that was actually the easy part. I did a little research, and eMusic’s praises were sung far and wide, and it was, in fact, very easy to cancel out of the service if you’re unsatisfied for any reason. And it’s not like iTunes, where you’re sort of beholden to them for life if you want to keep playing the tracks you buy. If you download from eMusic, the songs are yours to do with as you please. No limitations on when, where, or how you use, transfer, or burn them.
Nope, the catch is your trial period is about two weeks. Which doesn’t sound like much of a problem. And it probably isn’t for most people. As has been proven time and again, though, Erin and I aren’t most people. Between the two of us, we like a whole damn lot of different music. We’ve got the iPod playlists and CD collection to prove it (even after the recent mass purging of said CD collection, we still fill two large racks). But we’re not exactly the sort of folks who need to download or buy new stuff all the time. I’ve personally acquired fewer than 10 new CDs all year, and I guarantee that over half of those were gifts of some kind. The story is more or less the same for Erin, too. And last Christmas, we received two $15 iTunes gift cards, and along the way picked up something like 6 or 7 additional freebie downloads off of some offer Cheerios had in the summer. A full year later, we still have credit remaining. This is why we jumped off the Napster/Audiogalaxy/Kazaa/whatever-P2P-service-is-popular-now bandwagon a few years back; we download so little music that we don’t mind actually paying for it once in awhile.
We attacked the problem head-on, but it was slow going from day one. There’s a lot of music available through eMusic, but as they’re not the sort of powerhouse that iTunes is, or even the current version of Napster, so it can sometimes take you awhile to find a band or artist you like. And when you do, the listing isn’t necessarily comprehensive, so there may be tracks or even entire albums unavailable to you. They have a large number of exclusive live performances, though, which is admittedly pretty cool. And if you’re looking for indie bands that go unserved – possibly even unnoticed – by the likes of Apple, it definitely pays to nose around. Lots of stuff from labels like K, Victory, Kill Rock Stars, and so forth. And a healthy selection of actually-palatable kids’ stuff, too, like Laurie Berkner and Dan Zanes.
But even despite all that, it still came down to the wire for us, since we still had about a dozen tracks to go the night before the trial expired. We did end up with a good chunk of songs we’re happy with, though. Erin got some Baby Gopal tracks she liked in college, a Rainer Maria song, a little Dashboard (let’s hear it for Alfonso Q. Dashboard, III!), Dressy Bessy, and a Halo Benders song we’ve been trying to remember for about 7 years now. I found some covers of They Might Be Giants songs, the track TMBG did with Mike Doughty a few years back, a couple Cub songs (and discovered I greatly prefer TMBG’s cover of their song, New York City), a New Pornographers song I didn’t already have, a live Dickies song, and a couple of Archies songs (Sugar, Sugar and Jingle Jangle, if you must know). We also found some Christmas music (finally have a copy of Snoopy’s Christmas, but it’s not the original Royal Guardsmen version, sadly; can’t find that anywhere) and a few Laurie Berkner songs for Liam (that’s our story, and we’re sticking to it). And probably some other stuff, too. Some Samiam, I think. And some song about Green Lantern which is just about as bad as you think a song about Green Lantern is going to be (but is still fun somehow).
So, yeah, we found some music we enjoyed, free and legal and everything, but honestly, I can’t imagine trying to find 30 (or more, depending on the package you sign up for) every single stinkin’ month. Way too much stress involved there for it to be any fun at all. eMusic is a great service, just not for us.
There. It just doesn't feel like Christmas without that one 5 second clip, does it?
Last night, Erin and I were granted the unique anthropological opportunity to view the vast portion of the
We went to see Brand New and Dashboard Confessional play at the Tsongas Arena in
Yeah, I know, that makes me sound like such a killjoy. I don’t like concerts. I’m that guy. But tickets are often really expensive (Thanks for giving up the Ticketmaster fight, Eddie Vedder. Way to fail!), I don’t like crowds, I hate standing for hours on end (either in line or at the show itself), and so few bands are as good live as they are on their albums. In order to get me to a concert, I need to really like the band, tickets need to be relatively cheap, and I need a place where I can sit. I hated bumping around in the crowd even when I was a teenager. I just like to sit and enjoy the music. Theoretically, someone worked hard on creating these songs, so I feel I owe it to him/her/them to actually attempt to appreciate it. No one could ever accuse me of being an unconscientious audience member. But I digress.
Anyway, the show. I have to say, it was pretty good. I wasn’t a big fan of either band going in, and I didn’t leave a convert, but I enjoyed myself at least. Brand New started off their set with the song of theirs that I actually do like, “Sic Transit Gloria (Glory Fades),” so that got my attention early on, which is key. I wasn’t too into the other songs, but the band performed well, which is all I was really hoping for. The lead singer – whose name is Jesse something or other, but I prefer to think it’s actually Brandon Newerson – thanked the crowd for their energy and support throughout the set, which I also appreciated. I always like to see a rock star that’s thankful for the fans. The only problem with ol’
The guy from Dashboard – given name: Chris Carrabba; my name for him: Alfonso Q. Dashboard, III – took the opposite approach, clearly reveling in every moment he spent on stage and probably quite ecstatic of his chances of achieving
So although decent, the show itself was pretty uneventful. In my eyes, the crowd was the main event for me. I’d estimate the median age of the crowd was about 17 to 19 years old. There were a bunch of kids around 12 or 13, and therefore a bunch of parents, too, but for the most part, everyone looked to be in the late high school or early college age range (Erin and I were probably the oldest people we saw with our own eyes who weren’t either working in some capacity or chaperoning kids). I work with kids in this age group, and my nieces and nephews are very firmly within it, too, so I try to keep a positive attitude about them, but a lot of them were making it difficult to remain upbeat for the future of
But questionable seasonal attire, the crowd was fun to watch. It was fun to try and figure out whose first concert is was, who was on a date, who was breaking up, who was hooking up, and so on. I may not always enjoy concerts, but I do love the people watching opportunities they provide. This one guy in line, for instance, had the best mullet I’ve seen outside of the NHL or a Full House rerun. This was very clearly a man who lived up to the “business in the front, party in the back” credo. His mullet fu was strong. In his own way, he truly does the Lord’s work.
And then there was Boob Girl.
When it was all said and done, a good night was had by the both of us. Even if you don’t like the music all that much, there are much worse events to attend than a performance by either Brand New or Dashboard Confessional. But between Boob Girl and Mullet Guy, there was a moment or two where we wondered if we hadn’t accidentally turned up for a Foghat show instead. It was a legitimately head-scratching series of events.
*which, like The Lemonheads, Dinosaur, Jr., and Nine Inch Nails, is usually just the one guy and whoever else happens to be along for the ride on that particular day.
Ooh, looks like Blogger finally deemed me worthy to switch over to the new version. Is it worth it, guys and gals? I do like that tagging feature and the kinda-sorta more freedom it allows in customizing templates. Opinions and/or advice appreciated.
So, clearly, none of this was life-threatening or anything, but in the space of a few hours, it was all pretty annoying, and therefore, the worst thing(s) ever. At that moment, at least.
So anyway, Erin had to go over to her parents' house to shower for work, and she brought Liam with her so he could eat breakfast and watch Jojo's Circus in relative comfort, while I wait here for the oil guy to come bring us some more black gold, Texas tea, dead dinosaur sludge, or whatever nomenclature you prefer.
Two things that are more pleasant, and theoretically warmer...
The X-Entertainment Advent Calendar is back for 2006! Big happenings for Kuse and the good Mare Winningham (as opposed to the many evil Mares) this year. Knacks, meanwhile, seems to have gone all emo and has set up his own MySpace page.
If only the actual Jabberjaw show as even half this good:
Young Avengers: Sidekicks – It Came From the Library! Actually, under the auspices of Inter-Library loan, it actually came from a library in
Green Lantern: Rebirth – It Came From the Library, Too! Though much closer, this time. Anyway, okay, yeah, if you’re going to bring back Hal
Green Lantern Corps 1-4 – I’ve been on a GL kick lately. I blame that free issue of Back Issue I got from TwoMorrows last month. Anyway, as I just said about three lines back, Hal Jordan is my least favorite Green Lantern, but I like the GL concept as a whole, so I when I saw the first issue of this book still sitting on the rack at Newbury Comics, I figured it was worth a look, and have since gone back to the well three more times, so I figure that’s a good sign. Dave Gibbons is writing a good book here (loads better than Rann/Thanagar War), and is really playing up the “GLs as space cops” angle here without it being as cheesy as, I don’t know, Gerry Anderson’s Space Precinct, I guess? Soranik Natu is one of my favorite new characters to come along in awhile – I really dig how she uses her power ring as an investigative tool as much as (if not more than) a weapon – and it’s always nice to see old school regulars like Guy, Kilowog, and Salaak get some screen time (Mogo, too!). I’m not too keen on the Vath Sarn and Isamot Kol, though, as I don’t think the book really needs to play the “mismatched partner” angle (one’s an ex-Rannian soldier, the other’s a Thanagarian lizard man condemned to die… they’re Lanterns!). A solid book that only improves once Gibbons picks up penciling duties in issue 4. I can’t wait to get caught up and see where this goes. I also hope we eventually see some John Stewart in here, and maybe even Rot Lop Fan, the F-Sharp Bell (if you’re gonna bring in Mogo, why not the other brilliant Alan Moore-created GL, too?).
Robin 156 – I think the test of a good superhero comic book writer is how well he or she handles the quiet stories, not just the loud, people getting kicked in the head stories (though those are important, too, don’t get me wrong), and Adam Beechen proves his chops here with this story of Robin encountering a college student who’s threatening to take a nose dive off a Gotham rooftop. Brilliantly handled, I thought – it’s nice to see someone actually admit the very human feeling that, yes, your problems are worse than anyone else’s because they’re happening to you – and well-played against the backdrop of tragedy and loss that has been Tim Drake’s life these past few years (Hey, they actually mentioned Stephanie for a change! That’s a step in a good direction). I dropped this book after the initial Batgirl storyline; not because of any dissatisfaction with the book (especially since I hate the gimp-mask Batgirl), but because I needed to drop some books somewhere and this just didn’t make the cut. But some stuff I read has ended (or is ending soon), and this book does seem really good, so maybe I’ll just have to start catching up.
*Robert Kirkman’s brief Captain America run, while fun, doesn’t count, since it’s connection to the story essentially amounts to a single panel where someone says to Cap, “Jeez, sorry about all that unpleasantness with the Avengers.”
(Here are part one and part two, by the way.)
In cheerier news, Newsarama also has preview pages posted for Mark Waid and George Perez's The Brave and the Bold and Jeff Smith's Shazam and the Monster Society of Evil, among others. Those Jeff Smith pages are particularly gorgeous, and they give me great hope that DC might finally - FINALLY - be producing the sort of Captain Marvel book I've been wanting read for quite some time. They also make the preview pages for Trials of Shazam #4 that are also included look particularly poor by comparison. If you can look at those and honestly say that you like them better than the Smith pages, I don't think we can be pretend internet friends anymore.
There are also some astoundingly good looking pages from something called God Save the Queen by Mike Carey and John Bolton. It sounds like a bit of a Sandman/Lucifer spin-off and features drug-addicted punk faeries, which I'm sure is a fetish for somebody.
The show began when I was in high school (and wow, does that make me feel old), and when it began - probably for the first 5 or 6 years, in fact - I remember being sort of impressed by the people who were on it. The roommates in the earlier years all seemed to be striving to achieve some sort of goal in their lives. Well, most of them, anyway; you always have to let a few slackers and total nutjobs into the mix, as it makes for more compelling television, I guess, but more often than not, they were the exception, not the rule. These were people setting out to be writers, doctors, musicians artists, actors, executives, dancers, cops, and so on. And even those folks who didn't have a clear-cut career path in mind were still very much looking to figure out who they really were and wanted to find their place in the world. It's no wonder that the show became so popular so quickly. Even though this was a carefully constructed situation featuring 7 attractive 18 to 25-year-olds living rent- and practically consequence-free lives for a few months on MTV's dime in exchange for providing some strategically edited faux-drama, it was still very relatable to teenagers and twentysomethings. It actually felt sort of real.
Somewhere along the line, it all changed. Cast members chosen to be on The Real World stopped being people who wanted to be writers, doctors, musicians, etc., and started being people who just wanted to be on The Real World. People less interested in trying to prepare for real life than they were in using that rent- and practically consequence-free environment to drink or screw anything that hovered into their field of vision. People specifically out to pick fights with their roommates in an effort to maximize their camera time and get popular enough to get asked back for the Real World/Road Rules Challenge show so they can put off having to get an actual job for as long as possible. It's maddening, but even worse, it's disappointing.
Maybe it's always been this way, and now that I'm older - officially too old to be on the show by a good 5 years at least, I'm almost certain - I notice it more. Maybe I'm forgetting the fact that reality television panders to the lowest common denominator of the TV audience, and that producers are just playing to what's popular. Maybe I'm even expecting too much of the network that unleashed the likes of My Super Sweet Sixteen on to the world; MTV was never an especially intelligent network, but it was certainly smarter and more subversive than it is now. I don't really know. But I used to really like The Real World. It used to be about something. Now I just wish these whiny kids would keep their damn pants on and actually go get a job or something.
You know, maybe that's why I keep watching the first episode of this show: to keep me motivated to be a good parent. Because if you're the parent of anyone who's been on The Real World these past few years, guess what? You pretty much failed.
(Spoilers afoot if you haven't seen this week's Heroes or last week's Doctor Who yet, so, you know, beware)
So I understand that TV promos are essentially lying sacks of crap, especially where Sweeps stunts are concerned, but this week's Heroes, good episode though it was, really didn't go a long way in explaining much, huh? I mean, sure, the "save the cheerleader" part was in full effect, but "save the world" was left pretty much up in the air. The current theory around the house is that preventing Claire from getting brain-sucked by Sylar prevents him from gaining her regeneration powers, which would basically make him completely invincible. We'll see, I guess. I'm interested to see what Mr. Horn Rim and Cutey McPersuasive (which is a much better name than Eden, I think) do with Sylar now that they have him. And I'm also anxious to see where Christopher "I don't want to be typecast as a sci fi guy, so I immediately do another sci fi show after leaving Doctor Who" Eccleston turns up in this series, because the rumor was that he'd be Sylar, and from the brief glimpse we get of the dude in the "Next week on..." promo, it's clearly not him. But, of course, TV promos are essentially lying sacks of crap.
And hey, speaking of Doctor Who, last week's episode was pretty excellent, especially after coming on the heels of the disappointing Cybermen two-parter and the merely okay one with the face-sucking electrical creature in the TVs. The Doctor has faced off against demonic threats before, but throwing him up against something that could very well be the actual Devil is pretty interesting. And it prompted this exchange:
Erin: I don't know if I buy this. There's no such thing as the devil!
Me: As opposed to Daleks?
Erin: Okay. I see your point.
(Look, it was funny if you were there, alright?)
Anyway, I'm looking to see how this is resolved in the next episode. Unfortunately, we're going to have wait another week to see it. Stupid holiday weekend cable programming decisions!
If you're like me, you spend entirely too much time thinking about comic book storage options. I'd like to start using Drawer Boxes, as I think they're incredibly cool in the way that they're sturdy enough to be stack 'em 5 or 6 boxes high, but you're still able to get at your comics without moving the boxes around since they're like filing cabinet drawers. Brilliant. Sadly, they only make long box sized ones, and after moving three times in one year (back in 2000), I switched to short boxes, and my back has been thanking me ever since. I don't want to go back because, you know, heavy. And the folks at Collection Drawer don't seem to be in any hurry to create a short box-sized option, unfortunately.
These people have an interesting looking alternative, though: sturdy shells that surround an existing short box, effectively transforming your existing storage option into a DIY drawer box. I don't have the money to look into this any further right now, but they seem like a decent option. If anyone out there has used these and can attest to their quality (or lack thereof, if that's the case), I'd appreciate getting some opinions on 'em.
(As I was explaining this to Erin last night, she asked how these shells would actually fit over the lidded boxes. I told her you slide the box in topless, so she started talking about these as being "spring break for comic book boxes," and then screaming "Spring Break! Woohoo!" like Kitty on "Arrested Development." Look, it was funny if you were there, alright?)
Quick question: why doesn't coffee taste as good as it smells? Because it smells amazing, but usually ends up tasting like hot, dirty water. Even if you pair it with a yummy donut or a particularly tasty bagel. The taste/smell differential is that big. Admittedly, my body's occasionally antagonistic relationship with dairy products means I usually don't add any milk or cream (and so few places have soy milk as an option), so that cuts into flavor enhancement, but I do add sugar when I drink it. A lot, in fact. And all that does is make it taste like hot, dirty sweet water. And it's weird, too, because I like iced coffee pretty well. And coffee-flavored ice cream and frozen yogurt. But I just can't get into the hot stuff. Maybe it's some sort of chemistry thing. Someone get me Alton Brown on the phone to explain this to me!
The Newsarama Blog presents Ten Comics That Died Too Soon. I'm hard pressed to disagree with any of the ones on the list I have read (Chase was all kinds of excellent, as were the few issues of Hourman I came into contact with), so the temptation is definitely there to go back and give the others a try, or in one or two cases, give them another try. I remembered I had the first issue of Green Lantern: Mosaic kicking around in the discard pile somewhere since I remembered not liking it all that much back when it first came out, but I re-read it last night, and yeah, it was pretty good; certainly good enough to give later issues a try. It probably helps that the Halloween freebie issue of Back Issue I got in the mail last week actually got me interested in Green Lantern-related anything for the first time in years. I think I need to go and dig up some Hourman somewhere again, too.
My only suggestion for the list that didn't make it on? The Kurt Busiek/Erik Larsen run of the Defenders from a few years back. Really excellent and criminally underrated. I didn't like the recent Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire Defenders mini-series because it just felt like a JLI story with the Defenders inserted in their place. Busiek and Larsen, on the other hand, created something that looked, sounded, and felt like an actual Defenders book, and it just happened to be funny as well (track down the issue narrated by the Hulk if you don't believe me... great stuff!).
I still have a few days left on my eBay auctions! I'd be especially happy if the MST3K movie DVD started to climb in price, seeing as it usually tends to go for around 100 clams, and that's the reason I bothered to put it up in the first place. In the immortal words of the 20th century's greatest philosopher, Sally Brown, "All I want is what's coming to me. All I want is my fair share."
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Unless you're in Canada, who already celebrated a month ago. Or in one of the hundreds of other countries that doesn't celebrate it at all. Know that if you live in one of those places, you're missing out on a lot of really excellent things, most of them pie-related.
Anyway, here are some links of note:
Study says TV's youth obsession is starting to backfire. And, you know, that's good and all, but I can't help but think the alternate title was "Baby boomers whine because the attention was focused on people other than them for more than five minutes.
BeaucoupKevin proudly presents The Validus Gallery of Fine Arts.
Joanna finds an interesting story recounting the secret origin of Identity Crisis. Well worth reading.
You know, I love my Red Sox and all, but paying over $50 million just to negotiate with a guy sounds a little ridiculous to me.
Tom the Dog lists the Top 50 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books from 1953-2002 as according to the Science Fiction Book Club. I've only read 7*, which I suppose puts my nerd license in danger of being revoked.
The Artist Challenge threads over on the Comic Geek Speak forums often produce some really great work, and this Magical Characters theme is no exception.
Everyone else is linking to this, too, but it's all sorts of brilliant: the coming of Galactus by Stan Lee and Jack Chick!
This Richie Rich image that Mike found asks questions about reality that I'm not prepared to have answered.
*Dune, Stranger in a Strange Land, The Mists of Avalon, Ender's Game, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and Slaughterhouse-5, if you're curious.
Even if you really liked the character in question, you can't say that it doesn't kinda work.
Need to type something that isn’t NaNo or work related. Here are some super brief thoughts about things I’ve read (thanks, DCBS!) or watched (thanks, reassuring cathode tube glow of television!) lately:
Dork #11 – How often can you go four years between issues, and still say it was totally worth the wait? Very funny stuff, and a very thick read for your comic book dollar.
Irredeemable Ant-Man #1 – I get that he’s supposed to be unlikable, but shouldn’t he be interesting, too? Glad I got this one on a DCBS deep discount, though I still feel like I overpaid.
Marvel Team-Up #25 – Rushed ending to tie up the loose ends of the series. Better than the end of the Freedom Ring story, though not by much. When I look back on this book, I think I’ll pretend it ended with the League of Losers story, which is the last time it was good.
E-Man Recharged – Brilliant reintroduction to the character from the original creators that manages to bring newbies up to speed and still be a good story to boot. Makes me want to go find more issues of the original Charlton run (I have one somewhere, I think), so mission accomplished, Digital Webbing!
Lone Ranger #2 – Still interesting, but PAINFULLY written for the trade. At this rate, it’ll be issue 25 before we ever see Silver.
The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Companion – Very apt title; you don’t have to read the stories here to enjoy the original Life of Scrooge story, but it certainly enhances your enjoyment if you have. The reverse is true, too – reading the first book will help you enjoy this one, but you can come into it cold and still be entertained. Don Rosa is a genius. There, I said it. Also, “The Prisoner of White Agony Creek” is now one of my very favorite comic stories ever.
Nextwave: Agents of HATE #9 – Either Warren Ellis has a friendly rivalry going with Mark Millar, or else he’s really missed at the guy for what he did to The Authority. Anyway, yeah, typically brilliant stuff here. Plus, Not Brand Ecch is brought into continuity, sort of, and that’s all kinds of fun.
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #20 – Saturday morning on paper: Spidey and Hawkeye vs. Frankenstein. ‘Nuff said.
Agents of Atlas #2 – Was going to wait for the trade, but it’s much too fun to read monthly. Will be catching up ASAP.
The Amazing Race – At first, I was disturbed by David and Mary’s horrifying teeth, but now I’m completely rooting for them. It’s nice to see a team who’s so clearly benefiting from the situation (and not just financially), continue to somehow avoid Philimination. I also have to admit that I really enjoy the Blondes, too (and not just for the obvious reason, although, yeah, that’s a factor, too). The “hot” team is usually so bitchy, but these two are really a lot of fun, and, I suspect, really that happy most of the time.
Doctor Who – “The Girl in the Fireplace” may well be my favorite Who episode ever. Such brilliant writing, such stellar performances from the whole cast. So anything that followed that would have a lot to live up to, anyway, but honestly, that Cybermen two-parter? Snoresville. I usually love Cybermen stories, too – they’re my favorite of the show’s “monsters” – but this one really didn’t work for me. I suspect it’s because they tried to shoehorn them into a parallel universe story, rather than do a straight-out Cybermen story. Also, this was, yet again, All About Rose, which frankly, I’m getting a little tired of.
Grey’s Anatomy – Don’t usually watch this, but I caught it with
Heroes – Hiro gets a sword. Hee!
Bob Barker, 50 year television veteran, animal rights advocate, Silver Fox of daytime TV, host of The Price is Right, possessor of both the thinnest microphone you ever will see and, yes, the very object this blog is named for, is retiring next June.
I can't imagine Television's Most Exciting Hour of Cash and Prizes without him. I imagine he'll still hang around the Celebrity Pro-Am Golf circuit as long as he can, though, because as he's proven before, he kicks ass on the links, figuratively and literally:
I'm proud of myself so far, though. I managed to pound out over 2,600 words today, and a few of them may even have been pretty good. I know I won't be able to keep up that pace on a regular basis, since the first real threat to my writing schedule occurs, oh, tomorrow, but it feels very nice to get off to a start like that. I may try and squeeze out a little more before bed, but my DCBS order came today and I've got the third disc of Battlestar Galactica Season 1 from Netflix, so I may take a bit of a break and pick up again during the boy's morning nap tomorrow. We'll see!
Incidentally, my novel is very Douglas Adams-y so far. Except I managed to squeeze the word "pigf---er" in there. You know, to give it that definitively American spin.
So I'm not sure if the good and bad evened out or anything - the good stuff was fine and all, but the bad seemed particularly Not Good at the time, especially the sickness and the job thing - but there you go. Maybe not the Weekend from Hell or Heck. Probably just "Life As It Manages To Happen." But it happened to us, so therefore it seems larger and more important than that. So there.
I did manage to rediscover my "Go To Book" over the weekend, though. A Go To Book is a book that you might not consider to be your very favorite book ever for whatever reason (though it could be), but you can still pick it up to re-read on a fairly regular basis and enjoy it each time. For example, if you were to ask me what my very favorite book ever was, I'd either say Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, My Antonia by Willa Cather, or D'Aullaire's Book of Greek Mythology, depending on my mood at the particular time I was asked. Never let it be said I don't have wildly varying tastes. But my Go To Book is always The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, which I have just started reading for what might be the 6th time.
If you've never read it, it's a coming of age novel about a 15 year old named Charlie and his experiences during the first year of high school in 1991. It's an epistolary novel, which is a high-fallutin' way of saying that the story is told via a series of letters, sort of like Dear Mr. Henshaw, but with references to masturbation and songs by the Smiths. Charlie describes the events of his life in rather intimate detail to an anonymous friend - anonymous to the reader, and possibly even somewhat anonymous to Charlie himself, as the letters are only ever addressed as "Dear friend." Charlie is gifted but awkward, overly sensitive, perplexed by some of the simpler aspects of daily life, and has a tendency to observe life rather than actually participate in it. It's never explicitly stated, but he may have some sort of mild autism, maybe Asperger's Syndrome or something. And there are a number of hints he may have some deeper form of mental and/or trauma-induced illness, too.
Anyway, it's incredibly well written, in a voice that definitely reads as very real to me, as opposed to the sort of usual fake "teenage" voice a lot of people who write this stuff tend to use. And there are portions of this book I definitely relate to... I've never had the problems Charlie seems to have, but the painfully shy, bookish kid who tends to watch life go by rather than actually take part? Yeah, that was me in 1991 (it's me in 2006, some days). Maybe that's what makes me feel such a strong connection with this book: the main character who, in some ways (though thankfully not all), reminds me of myself at that age, as well as the fact that I was that exact age the year the book takes place. The songs and events mentioned, the sorts of people encountered... this could have been my life. Sort of.
In any event, it certainly reads more real to me than that other famous coming of age novel, the Elephant in the Room of coming of age novels, The Catcher in the Rye. Which, honestly? I didn't like it. Maybe it was all the hype. Maybe it was the fact that I read it at 23 instead of 13. But Catcher didn't set my world on fire the way it seemed to for practically everyone else ever. Remember Holden Caulfield's assertion that no matter where you go in life, someone got there before you and wrote "Fuck You" on all the walls? That was The Catcher in the Rye for me.
I'm digressing hugely here. But my point here - and I do have one - is that for me, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the coming of age novel that speaks to my experience, to my point of view. And though I may not consider it my very favorite novel ever, I find that I have to come back to it every year or two. Definitely Go To Book material.
Maybe it wouldn't be the same experience for you. A lot of people find it to be unbearably emo, and I can totally see that, but when you're 15 and trying to make some sort of sense of both the world and your place in it, everything is an extreme. Anything that happens is either best thing ever or the worse. When you're 15, life is emo. And a lot of days, I still feel 15.
Wanna read something legitimately scary for Halloween?
Ten Quick Questions with Evan Dorkin.
The Ten Goofiest Plot Points for the first ten issues of The Fantastic Four and The Amazing Spider-Man.
New Juliana Hatfield live album due November 21st. I think that calls for a "woot." Woot!
Mike Wieringo's October 30th sketchblog entry (you may have to scroll down, if you're reading this after Monday). Daredevil. A gorilla. Two great tastes that go great together. Bless you, Mike. You're doing the Lord's work.
If there had been a contest for who had the best Beefcake/Cheesecake Appreciation Week post, Bully would've won hands down.
Hey, I remember this cartoon - Samson and Goliath! They used to show reruns in the early days of the USA Cartoon Express. Weird even by Hanna-Barbera superhero standards. I could never understand why a dog would transform into a lion, or why a cartoon that had nothing to do with religion would take its name from two different Bible characters (unlike Davey and Goliath, which made perfect sense in terms of nomenclature, but made no sense at all for any number of other reasons).
But in the interest of actually having content, here are some links and stuff:
Is this out on DVD at all here in the States? Because I'd totally watch this. Especially if they used the cover of the American Gigantor theme by Helmet from the "Saturday Morning" cd.
Well, I think it'd be cool, anyway.
A little while ago, Johanna typed about the increase in the number of "sexy" Halloween costume variations for women available these days. Well, Kevin found a video parody (oh lord, please let it be a parody) for a costume store that takes the trend to what is almost assuredly the next step. Honestly, I'm surprised nobody's tried to market a Sexy Abe Lincoln costume already.
Cool contest over at Project Rooftop: redesign and create an existing superhero costume, send in some pictures, and the winner will get an original drawing depicting their design by Dean Trippe. If the Batgirl example Trippe posts is any indication, that's a cool prize indeed.
And speaking of Batgirl, the Batgirl meme returns! It doesn't seem to have reached the epic proportions of the original yet, but it's still cool.
And speaking of something I mentioned many paragraphs ago, 6 more days until NaNoWriMo! It's funny... I'm not panicking about this yet, but for some reason, the not-panicking is sort of causing me to panic. I don't get me.*
*No one does. I'm like the wind, baby!**
***Or at all.
- Days Like This by J. Torres and Scott Chantler: The story of three women (a divorcee starting her own record company, a young singer of a group like the Supremes or the Ronettes, and a songwriter who is basically Carole King) and how their blossoming music careers intertwine in the 1960s girl group era. Not as hard-hitting as it could be - topics such as racism, the trials and tribulations of the creative process, the realities of the record industry in the 1960s, and so on, are either quickly passed over or outright ignored - but those are probably best covered in another book somewhere down the road (someone get on that). This one's all about the fairy tale, and on that level, it succeeds. Pop confection in comics form.
- Magic Pickle by Scott Morse - The best comic about superheroic produce you'll ever read. Weapon Kosher, the titular Magic Pickle, battles the Brotherhood of Evil Produce (Phantom Carrot! The Romaine Gladiator! Chili Chili Bang Bang!) and tries to prevent a hilariously wrongheaded bank robbery at the hands of the Loco Nut. JoJo Wigman, the young girl whose bedroom just happens to have been built above Weapon Kosher's secret lab, is just trying to keep the cute boy down the street from seeing her in her footie pajamas. Antics ensue.
- Chronos by John Francis Moore, Paul Guinan, and Steve Leialoha - Whenever talk turns to series that should never have been cancelled, I always have two stock answers: Chase, and this book. Cam Chase still gets a lot of love, though, and has been seen off and on since her book's demise (and is now part of the Manhunter cast). Last time anyone saw Walker Gabriel, the star of Chronos, he was getting all dead-like over in JSA. Too bad. This was a good book, and the start of a great time travel story that would have traversed the entire range of the DC Universe. It was cut down far too early, though (either low sales, editorial interference, or Moore's desire to end it, depending on which account you read), and had to be brought to a quick, unsatisfactory conclusion. It could have been worse, though; at least we got a conclusion. OMAC didn't even get that, originally, and that was a Kirby book.*
*You have to love that last caption of OMAC #8, which is essentially the '70s DC equivalent of "Poochie died on the way back to his home planet."
VADO: Something cannot be both a sleeper and a hit. A comic or graphic novel either sells or it doesn’t. Critical acclaim does not translate to sales. For all the talk and hype on Street Angel, the comic hovered around 1500 copies sold and never broke out of that. Not enough for a creator with rent to pay to keep the project going. A million blog entries or message board posts mean s--- when it comes to actually selling something. For all of the hype or critical acclaim for Street Angel on the Internet, that alone wasn’t enough to help make it a financial success or, for that matter, even get it nominated for a single award in any category. Snakes on a Plane, that movie was in discount houses in a couple of weeks despite all of the viral marketing hype.
So at first, I thought it was sort of refreshing to hear an industry professional - a publisher, no less - come out and actually say "Thanks for your support and all, Comics Blogowhatever, but it's not actually translating into solid sales in a lot of cases." Refreshing, but a little weird, too, because based on all of the online acclaim you read about a Street Angel or a Manhunter or a Thing or whatever, you'd think that there would be a bigger groundswell of support for these books. But as has been proven time and again, this often isn't the case (Manhunter being a notable exception). I mulled this over awhile, and that's when I realized it: comics blogging is like college radio. Or like my particular college radio experience, at the very least.
My college radio station had an Alternative AOR (album-oriented rock, meaning less of a focus on singles) format and a clear mission to play music that wasn't being heard on other outlets in the area (radio in central Maine is mostly Country, Top 40, Easy Listening, and Talk). We viewed this as our grand mission to expose the masses to new and wonderful things. The masses mostly viewed us as the station that played a lot of stuff that nobody had ever heard of, if they were even aware of our existence at all (we were low-wattage, and the idea of broadcasting on the internet was still in its infancy*). But we did have a fairly devoted core audience, most of which shared our musical tastes . Unsurprisingly, most of that audience ended up working at the station at one point or another.
And I think that's how comics blogging works. We all type our thoughts/opinions/recommendations/ to the masses, and the masses, by and large, ignore us (whether that's on purpose or not I leave to you to decide). I mean, that must be the case if the sales charts are any indication, right? Because I've seen a lot of online criticism of Civil War, but it's still basically Marvel's license to print money right now, so there's clearly some level of disconnect between the tastes of bloggers and the those of the general comics-buying public. But there exists a certain core readership out there that keeps up with the blogs and apparently shares similar opinions, and I'm willing to bet that a lot of the folks - maybe even most of them, if comments threads are any indication - are bloggers themselves.
This isn't a unique phenomenon to either college radio or comics blogging, though. Go visit a wrestling news site sometime. Those places are full of folks who write about how much they hate the old stars like Hulk Hogan keeping new talent down, and about how wrestlers with actual technical wrestling skills (e.g., Chris Benoit or the late Eddie Guerrero) should pretty much be made king of everything. But you put Hogan in a WWE show even today, and he sells out stadiums and pops a crowd like it's still 1986, so there's certainly something of a disconnect there, too.
(And maybe disconnect is the wrong word to use. "Difference" probably sounds less negative. But you get my point.)
I realize this probably isn't a revelation to anyone. It's just something I've been thinking about lately. Thanks for your time.
*The year I was station manager, I suggested we actually look into webcasting, and people laughed. Luddites! But, of course, the next year they actually started doing it, and were all "Look at how cool we are! What a great idea we had!" Hypocritcal Luddites!
I keep telling myself that I need to write more often, but aside from the occasional bits of blathering around here, I never actually do it. I needed something to really kick my butt into gear. I needed an arbitrary, difficult and yet still possible to attain goal.
So I went and signed myself up for NaNoWriMo. It achieves all of the above, and yet I find myself feeling not entirely unlike Bart Simpson that one time he signed up for the Junior Campers after he and Milhouse went on that all-syrup Squishee bender. I figure it's probably a mistake, but it's also probably a mistake I need to make. It's kind of Zen. Almost. Not really. Or at all. But it's as close as anything in my life is going to get to Zen, so I'm just gonna say that it is. Even though it isn't. Not even remotely.
So anyway, if I'm all twitchy and "Hey you kids, get offa my lawn! I told you I'd shoot, but you didn't believe me! WHY DIDN'T YOU BELIEVE ME?!?" come mid-November, well, you'll know the reason why.
And feel free to add me as a writing buddy if you like (Jim? Annie? Jer?). My username is prufrock30. I'm sure I could use the support.
(Image downloaded - not hotlinked - from Fred Hembeck)
Someone should really collect this series someday. I'd love to read it, but the issues are pretty spendy on the rare occasions when you can actually find them.
Why the holy hell are Sue Richards's arms so ridiculously long?!? Is she actually Reed in disguise? Sheesh. For all the crap I give Greg Land and his Magic Lightbox, when I see anatomy this out of whack, I can't help but think that maybe - just maybe - he has the right idea.
Heroes - More Hiro (the Sensational Character Find of 2006), less hollowed-out skull cavities, please! Also, Mohinder's love interest is perhaps the most ridiculously adorable woman I've seen on television in some time, which only convinces me more that she is, in fact, Up To No Good.
Studio 60 - Great show. Exceptional, really, but I find it sort of odd that a show about a sketch comedy has yet to show a portion of a sketch that I actually find funny. I also take issue with the assertion that Gilbert and Sullivan are funnier than Groucho Marx, and I choose to believe this is why the show's ratings have been less stellar than expected.
Doctor Who - Best show on TV right now, and this week's episode with Anthony Stewart Head and the return of two of the best companions ever - Sarah Jane and K9 - only proves it even more. Throwing a bone to continuity nerds while still making the show accessible to new fans is a really tough feat to pull off, but they succeeded admirably. It was also nice to get the rare glimpse of how traveling with the Doctor for any length of time really affects the lives of the companions, which is a subject that's only ever really been touched on in the Who novels (and rarely at that), never in the show that I can recall. Unless you're talking about Katrina, Sara Kingdom, or Adric, in which case the end result is pretty clear.*
30 Rock - Anyone else find the pilot kind of awkward? And not in a "there's no laugh track, so I don't know where to laugh" sort of way; more in a "I'm not sure where to laugh because there isn't anything that's making me laugh" way. I'll stick it out for a few more episodes because, well, Tina Fey... sigh. But there's a lot of ground to make up here.
Smallville - Every year I give this show another shot, and every year I decide I'm really not missing anything. For one thing, I think I need more Superman in my Superman shows. For another, I can't figure out how this guy can actually grow up to be Superman, since just about everyone on the show - certainly everyone in the opening credits, as far as I can figure - knows Clark's secret by now. Unless they plan on having Zatanna appear in the series finale. Maybe if you pretend that this show actually isn't about a version of Clark who eventually becomes Superman it would all work, but why base a show in this particular mythos if you were going to do that?
Legion of Super-Heroes - It's no Justice League Unlimited, and it's no Teen Titans, but it fills the void pretty decently, I think. I'm especially happy that they respect the audience's intelligence, dropping subtle clues as to the Alexa character's heritage and letting folks figure it out on their own rather than beating everyone over the head with it. Too bad it's already in reruns, though!
The Venture Brothers - I know I'm gonna get rapped on the mouth for this, but honestly? I don't see the appeal here. I think it's clever enough - recasting the Scooby Doo gang as Ted Bundy, Patty Hearst, Valerie Solanis, and the Son of Sam is sort of brilliant, actually - but I think that most of the time it's trying to be much too clever, and I've lost interest in the whole affair as a result. There's a point when even the depths of humor being mined can be too arcane for me, and I think this show reached that mark somewhere around mid-season. Plus, I find Rusty Venture too creepy to be entertaining most of the time.
Jack's Big Music Show - I used to say I watched this show because Liam liked it, but I have to come clean. I love it. I'd watch it even if I didn't have kids. But they need more than the 12 or so episodes that currently air. They also need to throw the one with Henry the Scary Monster back into rotation, as that was my favorite. Anyone know why they never show this one anymore? It's annoying. Anyway, I've heard it'll be at least next January before we get any new episodes. WAY too long. Even Ren & Stimpy never kept us waiting this long for new stuff.
*Uh, they died.
Lone Ranger #1 - A little more gruesome that I'm used to for a Lone Ranger story, and only the bare bones of the beginning (already feels "written for the trade"), but a decent start overall. On the "Lone Ranger Origin Story Scale," it isn't as good as the Clayton Moore TV version, but better than the 1981 movie with Klinton Spilsbury. Definitely coming back for #2.
True Story Swear to God (Vol. 2) #1 - Tom Beland did me a solid back when I got married (which I've mentioned before), so I'm predisposed to say good things about anything he does. But thankfully, this is very good, so complimenting this takes little or no effort at all. I hope moving to Image nets this book a larger audience, especially since the story is only going to get more interesting from here (engagement, marriage, separation, reunion... so much ground left to cover!).
Marvel Team-Up 24 - Well, that was sort of needlessly gruesome, wasn't it? Should be used as a textbook for "How to Bring an Otherwise Decent Series to a Sudden Dull Thud of an Ending 101."
The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Companion - Haven't read it yet, but I'm just so damn pleased it exists.
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #1 - The story by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray is fairly interesting and provides some interesting glimpses and new takes on classic characters, and the art by Daniel Acuna and Javi Montes is really quite good (though Montes's decision to color everybody all shiny-like is a little weird to me). So why didn't I like this better? I think it's all the political intrigue and real world parallels. I read comics to get away from that sort of thing. I'm sure this is a great book for the right audience; I'm just not a part of that group.
Secret Six #1 - A little hard to pick up on if you haven't read Villains United, but a decent read. Equal parts The Usual Suspects and a Bond movie (at least the opening), but with super powers. Makes me want to go and read VU, then come back and give this a try again, and maybe move on from there.
Special Education #1 "Convention Special" - The same book as the upcoming-through-Diamond #1, but with a Justice League #1 homage cover instead of a Giant-Size X-Men #1 homage. It's about a kid forced to attend an all-super hero high school, but since he doesn't have powers, he's sent to the remedial class taught by an ex-super villain who only refers to himself in the third person. Similar to PS 238, but with a greater likelihood of fart jokes. Funny start, thanks in large part to Dr. Dome (afore-mentioned third-person obsessive).
Deadman #1 - No. Just... no.
Flash: Born to Run tpb - A real grab bag of a book I picked up from the library. The front half is the "Flash: Year One" storyline that kicked off Mark Waid's first run on the book, retelling the story Wally West's first summer with super powers. Not as epic or groundbreaking as "The Return of Barry Allen," but a lot of fun. The back half reprints several short, similarly retconned origin-y stories, and gets progressively worse as it goes. It also manages to directly contradict details from the first half at least twice, and proves conclusively that Bill Sienkiewicz might be the worst choice ever to ink Jim Aparo pencils. Yes, even worse than Vince Colletta.*
*This sentence brought to you in part by "The Committee for Cheap Shots at Vince Colletta's Expense" and readers like you. Thank you.
There are three important things about this book that I wish to pass on, however:
- Do not go into this book expecting a hardhitting look at the increasing number of adults who don't cast aside the joys of childhood, a scathing condemnation of them, nor any sort of assertion that these people are What's Wrong With Society Today. Noxon makes no secret of his own rejuvenalia, and often refers to those who express their displeasure with this as "harrumphing codgers."
- Please also bear in mind that he does not use this book as a forum to make excuses for his own behavior, he is merely documenting the various aspects of a phenomenon, both pro and con, and for the most part, does so pretty fairly. He does seem unduly harsh in playing the "I'm a more acceptable geek than you" card in discussing folks dressed in costume at Comic-Ccon, though, going so far as to lump them in with furries, plushies, and assorted other fetishists. Very unfair to paint the entire cosplay culture with that brush, I thought; you wanna tell the Elvis Trooper guy he's no different than a plushie? Hell no - he'd kick your ass with the combined powers of The Force and The King, chummy.
- This book left me with a profound desire to get a game of kickball going. Who's up for it? I'm thinking we could get an awesome ECB* vs. ACAPCWOVCCAOE** match-up going.
On the whole, a good read. Give it a chance if you're so inclined.
Hey, have you skipped out on the vast majority of Batman comics for the last two decades because, well, let's face it, they were mostly bad Frank Miller imitations and you were never totally interested in reading about a Batman who was such an insufferable prick most of the time, but now you're kind of curious to catch up on what you missed because the comics are actually kind of good again? Well, Scott Kurtz of PvP did a Batman story for his kinda-sorta-but-not-really 24 Hour Comic Day project this year, and he managed to distill two decades' worth of bad Batman stories into 6 pages of utter brilliance called "My Parents Are Dead." Seriously, if you haven't read Batman since 1986, this is pretty much all you missed.
Via This Is Pop Culture - The new Doctor Who action figures are finally going to be getting American distribution starting around December, which makes me very happy I never shelled out the ridiculous eBay prices for the Doctor and/or a Cyberman. Though I'd still love to get my hands on the Regeneration set they did so I could get a 9th Doctor figure, too.
The new season of Doctor Who, by the way, is all kinds of excellent so far, and easily my favorite thing on TV right now. I had some fears about David Tennant early on, if only because Christopher Eccleston was so good as the Doctor, but all that went right out the window by the end of The Christmas Invasion (and any lingering doubts were pretty much obliterated by halfway point of New Earth). I'm enjoying the unique touches he's bringing to the role so far, but I also think it's pretty cool that in some ways, he's similar enough to Eccleston's Doctor that, for once, it's easy to see that both men are really the same guy. Usually, Doctor-to-Doctor transitions are so jarringly different that it's easy to lose sight of the fact that these 10 guys are actually all the same person, but this time around, it's easy for both the audience and the traveling companion-of-the-moment to see the truth. And I can't help but think this makes the whole regeneration concept so much easier for new fans to understand - it took me a long time to grasp the "No, really, these vastly different people are all the same person, honest" concept when I first started watching the show back in grade school.
I'm a Red Sox fan, so naturally, I was happy as hell to see the Detroit Tigers eliminate the New York Yankees from the American League playoffs. I smiled. I laughed. I may have even done a small dance. I'm not proud... well, no, I actually am, kinda. I can happy dance with the best of 'em. But I digress. Yankee misfortune tends to be a good thing in my book, but even I think it's stupid to blame manager Joe Torre and threaten to get rid of him. The man revived the Yankee Juggernaut, helping return them to the dominance they had for most of the 20th century. Even in the years they don't win (or even go to) the World Series, they're still consistently in contention. That's good managing right there. You don't want to sacrifice that for the sake of establishing public scapegoat. So while I don't like the man's team due to some ancient baseball bloodfeud I was indoctrinated into at birth, I still respect the hell out of Joe Torre as both a manager and a man, and I think firing him would be a huge mistake.
I wouldn't mind seeing them kick A-Rod to the curb, though. That guy's a punk who hasn't delivered. Way to bat 8th, A-Rod! You earned it!
(And no, I'm not just saying that in the hopes that Boston tries to pick him up again. They've got enough problems to deal with right now without adding that guy to the mix. Now if the Yanks wanted to unload Jeter or Matsui on Boston for some inexplicable reason, that'd be a different story... I can't wait until the day the wind up out of the pinstripes so I can actually root for them, because they're both a little bit good.)
One last reminder that my current batch of eBay auctions end Tuesday night!
*East Coast Bloggaz
**Associated Comics and Pop Culture Webloggers of Ventura County, CA, and Outlying Environs