Dateline: Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Fred Hembeck, you Destroyer of Universes you!

PS - In case you're wondering, there's a whole page of Hembeck-inspired mirco heroes here).

PPS - My wife comissioned a sketch of Captain Marvel from Fred that she gave to me last November for our second wedding anniversary. It's really amazingly excellent; I'll have to post a picture of it sometime!

PPPS - And hey, here it is! The picture I took isn't very good (don't take pictures late at night, mostly in the dark, and half asleep, kids!), but Fred truly knocked it out of the park on the sketch. Amazing work! Thank you once again, Erin, and thank you, Fred!

Um, is that... ?

Look out, world! It's the Amazing Japanese Tentacle Porn Man!

Seriously, though, bionic spider legs, or whatever the hell those things are, are dumb looking enough as it is. But they couldn't have moved that bottom one to the side in order to keep it from looking like it's coming directly out of his crotchular region?

Why exactly do they call it pre-ordering? You can't order something before you order it!

If you were me, your January Discount Comic Book Service order would look exactly like this:

Infinite Crisis #6 - The grammatically incorrect title still bugs me a little, but I'm still totally drinking the DC Kool-Aid at this point. The very idea of Identity Crisis pissed me off, I couldn't be bothered to read many of the lead-in series, and I'm ignoring the cross-over issues, but I'm really digging this. Go figure.

Supergirl & the Legion of Super-Heroes #16 - Still my favorite series from DC right now. The addition of Supergirl to the group intrigues me - I just wish it wasn't the elongated-spine-and-apparently-no-internal-organs version that's currently in vogue at the company. I'm holding out hopes that this ends up being the Hypertime version from the end of Peter David's run on Supergirl, or even the regular DCU version from Peter David's run. We'll see, I guess.

Marvel Team-Up #18 - My favorite Marvel book right now. (She-Hulk is good, too, but I get that in trades) Robert Kirkman has managed to capture everything that made Marvel fun and exciting to me as a kid in the '80s and recreate it here. It's nice to see a superhero book from one of the Big Two that can still be fun and occasionally funny without making it an outright comedy.

Blue Beetle #1 - Count me as one of the people who did legitimately like the Ted Kord Blue Beetle and was bummed to see him rubbed out just to move a plot along, but this book does at least look a little interesting. I like the character design and the art from the preview pages I've seen, and I like the idea of bringing back in the mystical aspect of the Silver Age Blue Beetle. Plus, DCBS is offering it for 75 cents. At that price, I'm definitely willing to give it a shot.

Hawkgirl #50 - I'm not too interested in the character, but with Walter Simonson and Howard Chaykin at the helm, I'm willing to give it a shot.

Uncle Scrooge #352 - A bit expensive, even with the DCBS discount, but it reprints a Barks story I've never read, "Isle of the Golden Geese," so I'm in.

Banana Sunday TPB - I read the first issue and decided I wanted to get the trade when it came out, and now here it is. Talking monkeys and the always-pleasing-to-the-eye art of Colleen Coover. Also, talking monkeys. I'm not made of stone, people. Did I mention the talking monkeys?

Crisis on Infinite Earths (the novel) by Marv Wolfman, paperback edition - I wanted to read this when it came out, but I didn't want to read it $25 badly, and I couldn't get it through the library, so I'm glad to see a paperback version. And with the discount, it's under $8, which is a little more my speed.

Just missing the cut:

Batman and Detective Comics - James Robinson writing Batman is very appealing, but I figure the entire six-issue storyline will be traded relatively quickly after it's complete, so I'll wait.

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis - Kurt Buseik and Butch Guice - it's a great team, but I've never been a big swords & sorcery person. I may pick it up off the stands if the mood strikes me, though.

All-Star Superman - I've ultimately decided to wait for the trade on this. I think Morrison reads better in the collected format, and I figure that Frank "I've Never Met a Deadline I Couldn't Let Sail Right By Me" Quitely will eventually slow up the book's publishing schedule, which would make the allegedly monthly wait too frustrating. I have no patience for excessively late books.

Yeeeeaaahhhh, whose baby are you?

You've probably all heard about the Batgirl meme that took LiveJournal by storm last week. It's definitely old hat by now. But I'd be remiss if I didn't point out a few of my favorites.

Like Andi Watson's.

Or haikuninja's.

Or Bryan Lee O'Malley's.

Or Ian J's.

Or yaytime's.

Or verabee's.

Or Raina Telgemeier's (sp?).

Or Lea Hernandez's.

Or Colleen Coover's.

Or Mike Wieringo's (not on LJ - Dear God, it's spreading! You'll have to scroll down, BTW).

(Yeah, I like my Batgirls on the cute side. It goes back to childhood, really. You can blame the lovely Ms. Craig for that.)

These are just a handful of the now-probably-over-500 Batgirl drawings floating around LJ and elsewhere on the inter-ma-net. There are a lot of really great ones, so if you have an hour or 15 to kill, check 'em out.

Some sidebar maintenance

I've done some minor tinkering with the sidebar and added some stuff for your reading pleasure. Well, really, it's more for my reading pleasure, so I can have easy access to the blogs and sites I like to visit most days, but if y'all get some use out of it, that's probably a good thing, too, I figure. Anyway, in the comics section, I finally got around to adding fellow ECB posse members BeaucoupKevin, Metrokitty, and The Pickytarian, as well as Ragnell's Written World, the Women in Comics linkblog When Fangirls Attack, and artist David "Bill really wishes he'd continue Private Beach" Hahn's sketchblog, Stop Saying "Amazing!"

I've also, um, borrowed David "Yet Another Comics Blog" Carter's idea of "The Legion of Librarian Comics Bloggers" to enhance my own little library category. David's blog got moved there, and I've added Bad Librarianship, Redhead Fangirl, and Shelly's Comic Book Shelf to the list. That should keep Tangonat and Brandy the Library Ninja company!

One more thing...

Doctor Who to air on Sci-Fi Channel!

To which I say, "Aw, Hell Yeah!"

Followed quickly by, "It's About F---ing Time!"

Do you need a toothbrush? The Beyond Corporation's got an extra one.

A few bits of comics biz-ness:

First, if you haven't checked out Marvel's promo page for the upcoming Warren Ellis penned series NextWave, go there now. Seriously, right now. There's a theme song you can download. It's kind of awesome. Sort of a "My God, it's full of stars!" level of awesome. Comic goodness turned up to 11. The band, Thunder Thighs, has a MySpace page where you can also hear the song.

It's like Shakespeare, with a lot more punching.

Speaking of MySpace, one of my friend list residents, Stephanie, has started a new comics blog called Comics Are Magic. She describes it as "Reviews of recent comic books and trade paperbacks. No spoilers, no panning of everything- just stuff from someone who actually loves what she buys every week." It's good so far, so check it out!

And finally, backtracking to Marvel a bit, they've posted a sketch of and short article about the new Spider-Man costume. It apparently all ties in to the upcoming "Civil War" storyline, the Marvel summer '06 event that is no way inspired by or ripped off from DC's Identity Crisis shenanigans, nosirreebob. Um, yeah. I don't want to be that guy on the internet, and I know everything will be safely returned to normal in time for Spider-Man 3, so just insert some variation on "it looks like ass" here.

Some comics thoughts

Infinite Crisis #3 - All Luthor confusion aside (see a little ways below), I'm still really enjoying this book. Batman's breakdown and subsequent conversation with the Earth 2 Superman were both well portrayed, showing the deep bonds that exist between these two icons, regardless of which versions of the characters are involved. And, as has been the case with the previous two issues, the last few pages build to a real "Holy Shit!" of a cliffhanger. Big, dumb event comics aren't everyone's cup of tea, I know, but if you like that sort of thing even only once in awhile, then you really should be reading this series.

Geraniums and Bacon #3 - This is the most recent mini-comic from fellow ECB posse member, Metrokitty. The issue is made up of several short stories, including a sort of word-art piece about Adult Ed classes, instructions on how to dance to upbeat-yet-politically-gloomy pop music (which can be found here), and a trip to the movies gone horribly wrong. The stories are all a lot of fun, and I found her art style to be very pleasing to the eye - lots of thin, soft lines, a bit cartoony, but not to "bigfoot" proportions. If you like the art in books like Manya and Max and Lily, you'll dig this, too. Really great stuff, and I plan on buying the rest of her mini-comics whenever the money makes itself available. Ordering info can be found here.

The Maze Agency #1 - Mike W. Barr's "fair play" mystery series has been a favorite of mine since about 1990, when I got an issue in a grab bag from my then local comic shop, Nostalgia Ink. I was instantly hooked, and spent the next decade and a half tracking down the rest of the series (just finished last year). So, needless to say, I was pretty psyched that the book came back though publisher IDW, even if it is for just a mini-series. True to form, this first issue was all kinds of good. A radical '60s activist is murdered, and as usual, private detective Jennifer Mays and her boyfriend, true crime writer Gabe Webb, are on the case - provided their efforts aren't completely hampered by pesky FBI agents Black and White. The story more or less follows the same formula as every other issue of the series, but honestly, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. This series is the comic book equivalent of a 70s detective show like Columbo or Banacek. It's not particularly fancy, but it presents some good pot boiler mystery stories that never talk down to the audience. It fills an important niche in comics, I think, and I'm glad to see it return.

Penny Arcade 1x25 Cent Edition - This is a promo book for the upcoming Penny Arcade trade paperback collection from Dark Horse, presenting the first year or two of the popular online comic strip. Sadly, it seems thrown together with little thought or effort, and really doesn't do much to make you want to go out and buy the book. There's no introduction, no explanation of the strip or the characters... just a seemingly random collection of the earlier strips. I knew what was going on, and who was who, but then, I've been reading the strip online for awhile. Someone coming in fresh is likely to be completely lost, and probably won't be terribly inclined to buy the book. Hell, I like the strip and this gave me second thoughts about picking it up. This was a real disappointment, and considering this comic cost all of a quarter - no, wait, I bought this through DCBS, so it was less! - considering this comic cost me all of 12 cents, I think that's saying something.

Krypton should've been labeled better.

Some DVD thoughts

The Island - I'm not really sure if the world really needed a contemporary remake of The Clonus Horror (with a happier ending), but Michael Bay gave us one anyway, liberally, um, let's say borrowing many aspects of that earlier film while also adding a dash of Logan's Run and some zest from the rind of THX-1138 for seasoning. But all things considered, it was actually pretty good, and I give the credit for that to Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson (with an able assist by the always dependable Steve Buscemi). In the hands of, say, Keanu Reeves and Jessica Alba, this could have been well nigh terrible. Definitely a case of talent elevating the material. Worth adding to the Netflix list for some mindlessly entertaining viewing.

Wedding Crashers - Parts of this - specifically, the parts where Vince Vaughn got to do his patented "that guy from Swingers" shtick - were very funny, but for the most part, this movie was pretty terrible. There'd be some funniness (again, from Vaughn), then some long stretches where nothing funny or even interesting things would happen at all, and then there'd be some really over-the-top, almost unnecessary meanness, and then Vaughn would be funny again, just barely saving us from turning off the movie and going to bed early. Not having seen this in the theater, I'm not sure what they added for the extended "Uncorked" edition, but I'm pretty certain it doesn't need to be there. Avoid at all costs - just go rent Swingers again, instead.

Where does the University find them, and why do they keep coming into the library?

The following is a transcript of an actual conversation I had with a student at work this morning. You have every right to be frightened for the future of America:

Bewildered Girl stumbles disbelievingly into the library

BG: Hey, you guys are open?

Me: Yup.

BG: Nuh-uh!

Me: (looks around at co-workers and the various other library patrons milling about for dramatic effect) Um, yes, actually.

BG: Really?

Me: Yes. Definitely.

BG: I thought you closed for break.

Me: Well, there’s Winter Session classes going on, so we’re open.

BG: So you didn’t close.

Me: (pause) No.

BG: And you’ve been open the whole time?

Me: (longer, Pinter-esque pause) For Winter Session, yes.

BG: So is everything else on campus open?

Me: Well, most of the food places are closed, and the dorms, too, but for the most part, the campus is more or less open. Since it’s Winter Session and there’re classes going on.

BG: And you’re open, right?

Me: (pause approaching Shatner-like length) Yes. We. Are. Open.

BG: That’s weird. I thought you were closed.

Me: Yeah, I picked up on that.

BG: Weird.

(BG shuffles off in a profound state of disbelief)

Me: (turning to my co-worker, Wendy, who has been sitting there the entire time) You had no intention of bailing me out of that conversation, did you?

Wendy: (gleefully) Nope!


You've been warned, yo.

So, okay, Business suit/Society Luthor was apparently Earth 3 Alex Luthor in disguise. I get that. But is Battle Suit Luthor the post-Crisis Lex, or the Earth 1 Lex? Because he was wearing the 70s purple and green bandolier & rocket boots suit under the Battle Suit. So I'm a little confused. But not enough to want to go out and buy all the tie-in books.

Regardless of that, I'm still digging this series so far. As I've said in the past, I enjoy big, dumb fun, and that's just what this is. And, yay, DCBS sent me the Perez cover version, so they get to live.
So a few weeks back, a friend of Erin's made us a copy of a Laurie Berkner CD so we could listen to it with Liam (Yah, that's right, RIAA - a copy. Suck on that, bitches!). We didn't have a track listing, though, and the song titles didn't come up when we put the disc in the computer, either, so we didn't know what any of the songs were. This morning, though, Erin finally tracked down the titles, so now we can name all the tracks on the disc; not so we can share the info with Liam (who, truthfully, is still way too young to know or care), but so that we can upload the tunes to our iPods and enjoy them for ourselves.

Yup, it's true. We are now officially unhip.

Not that we were ever particularly hip to begin with. Well, Erin might've been a little, but in the end, it wasn't the sort of thing either of us really cared about. We liked what we liked and got on with our lives, you know? But if our personal and/or collective "hipness quotients" were ever in doubt, this is no longer the case; our status is definitively established.

We are old.

We are lame.

We are parents.

And loving it.

(PS - Another great kids CD you should own, regardless of parental status? For the Kids, Too. Go and buy it now. Seriously.)

The shortest "Best of 2005" list you'll ever see.

Best anything anywhere in 2005: Liam Breheny Doughty.

The End.

Post-New Year's Catch-Up

Made it to Maine and back in one piece. A good time was had by all, even Liam, who dealt with the trip much better than Erin or I ever expected. That being said, though, it isn't all that fun to go on a five-hour, four-state-crossing road trip with an infant, and I don't recommend it if you don't really need to go. As I said, Liam behaved rather well, really only being fussy for one hour out of the five both ways, but still, it's a really difficult undertaking. You have to bring half the house with you, and when the baby does start to get fussy, you need to cram yourself in the back in order to keep the tyke entertained/fed/asleep/whatever.

But yeah, we had a good time, and neither family nor friends could get enough of the boy. He's as big a hit on the road as at home, which makes us rather happy. However, everyone we visited owes us, oh, let's say 5 visits to Rhode Island - each - before we attempt going up again ourselves.

The weirdest thing we learned on our Maine excursion: according to the Taiwanese exchange student staying with my sister's family, gastronomic delicacies in China include dog, cat, and first trimester unborn fetuses. Thankfully, she did not tell us this while we were eating.

My in-laws got me a guitar! Woot! This is exactly the sort of thing I need to help me with my "turning 30" anxieties. You're not old if you learn to rock. I may be kidding myself, but honestly, I don't care. I need this sort of thing to sleep at night, so don't take it away from me.

Managed to read BOP! More Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson while I was in Maine. If you're unfamilar, it's the book that collects all of the little bits and pieces that went uncollected in the giant Box Office Poison collection from a few years back. It sounds weird that a book that claims to be complete would have anything left over for another book, but think of the stories in this far-smaller volume as DVD extras. Nothing here really adds to the story in any major way, but they're fun to experience all the same. The bulk of the book reprints the BOP Color Special (in stunning black & white!), while the rest is made up of smaller stories that ran in various anthologies and other people's books, as well as a 24 Hour Comic spotlighting the character Caprice that serves as a prequel of sorts to Tricked (which is excerpted here, too - at the time of publication, Tricked was still a work in progress). It's probably not the book to start with if you've never read Box Office Poison, but for fans of that series and of Robinson in general, it's definite must-reading.

Exciting New Year's Eve for us: Chinese take-out, a few episodes of 24, kid in bed by 8:30, and then off to sleep for us by 10:30. I don't think we've seen midnight on New Year's for a couple of years now. We're not big party people, and as far as holidays go, it's never been one of the important ones for us. The big thing now will be conditioning myself to start writing 2006 whenever I have to date anything. It usually takes me a couple of weeks to condition myself to that.

I did end the year with a very mix-tapey iPod playlist (inspired by my reading of Mix Tape by Thurston Moore), creatively titled 12/31/05:

  1. Eye of the Tiger - Survivor
  2. The Laws Have Changed - The New Pornographers
  3. The Bird That You Can't See - The Apples in Stereo
  4. If You're Feeling Sinister - Belle & Sebastian
  5. Tennessee Flat Top Box - Johnny Cash
  6. Battle of Who Could Care Less - Ben Folds Five
  7. Surrender - Cheap Trick
  8. Listen to the Band - The Monkees
  9. The Mothra Song - The Alilenas/The Cosmos (from the 90s Godzilla Vs. Mothra film)
  10. What I Do on a Saturday - Steve Burns
  11. Othello (live) - Dance Hall Crashers
  12. In the Garage - Weezer
  13. Son of a Preacher Man - Dusty Springfield
  14. Pretty Mary K - Elliott Smith
  15. Hannford - Bob Hope's Crotch (my friend Jeremy's one-man music project)
  16. Free Me - Emma Bunton (Shut up! Her album is really good!)
  17. Can't Hardly Wait (Tim version) - The Replacements
  18. 21st Century (Digital Boy) - Bad Religion
  19. Till My Head Falls Off (live) - They Might Be Giants
  20. Rockin' Stroll - The Lemonheads
  21. To Sir With Love - Lulu
  22. Gigantic - The Pixies
  23. The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight - R.E.M.
  24. Short People - Randy Newman
  25. Divine Hammer - The Breeders
  26. UHF - Weird Al Yankovic
  27. Green Hornet theme - Al Hirt