The simple pleasures.

Road trip.

No traffic.

Multiple cook-outs.

The world's greatest potato salad.

Immediate family members I rarely see.

Friends I see even less frequently.

Good beer.

Verbose and/or increasingly mobile toddlers.

Playing in the sandbox, on the swings, and all around the yard with said toddlers.

Warm weather.

Long walks.

That cool bubble-blowing gun thing.

Getting to go to the movies.

Best Memorial Day weekend ever.

Here we go again.

DC has posted some solicitation info and preview pages for Judd Winick's upcoming Trials of Shazam mini-series over on their fancy inter-ma-net site. I'm trying to keep an open mind about things, and I don't want to rush to judgment before I read the full story because I certainly don't want to be, you know, That Guy (though I've exhibited a fair amount of That Guy-ness in the past re: DC's handling of Captain Marvel), but the preview left me feeling kind of worried that they're going to screw up one of my favorite characters in an attempt to make him More Serious. Again. And, to quote the great 20th century pundit Rocket J. Squirrel, "But that trick never works!"

But I'm not alone in this, thankfully. Both Ragnell and The Fortress Keeper express their own fears, and they're, you know, actually good at this blogging stuff. And so does Walt at The Marvel Family Web (scroll down to the May 3rd entry, which contains some spoilers from Infinite Crisis #7). That takes away a little of the sting of That Guy-osity. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

So between the script, which as Ragnell points out, sounds entirely too much like bad slash fanfic* (with this and the creepy child molester vibe of that last scene in the First Thunder mini, I'm a little scared to think about what goes through ol' Judd's mind when he writes this stuff), and the art from Howard Porter - whose work I usually like, but here it looks like that bad computer-generated art in the old Batman: Digital Justice graphic novel - I'm left anticipating Jeff Smith's long-promised-for-forever-and-a-day Monster Society of Evil project more than ever. After enjoying First Thunder (except for that last scene - CREEEEEEEEPY!), I was cautiously optimistic about The Trials of Shazam. After seeing this preview, I'm just cautious.

Damn, I'm getting more and more "Comics were better back in the day!" all the time. I'm becoming that which I've always feared: a Cranky Old Bastard of Popular Culture. Hey you kids, stay outta my comic boxes!

*Is that redundant?

The five stages of dealing with overdue library books in the days leading up to graduation.*

  1. Denial - I don't have any overdue books! I never took those out! And if I did, I totally returned them!
  2. Anger - The fine is how much?!? I refuse to pay that!** Like I said, I returned them! Or, uh, didn't even have them out at all! Yeah!
  3. Bargaining - Look, my roommate lost them. Can't you fine him? I need this cleared up so I can actually get my diploma. Can't you just waive this or something?
  4. Depression - Aw, man, my parents are gonna kill me when I tell them I won't get my diploma if they don't pay the bill for me!***
  5. Acceptance, Lack of - I don't have any overdue books! I never took those out! And if I did, I totally returned them!

* Or, really, in general. This also applies to video store late fees, too, for the most part.
** But here's the silly thing, though: yes, our so-called "replacement cost" fine is ridiculously expensive, but honestly, we're more interested in getting the book back than charging a fine. So if someone offers to pony up a replacement copy (when it's possible to do so, anyway), we're totally okay with that. And there's a Barnes & Noble not 5 miles up the road. So quit yer bitchin' and hop to it, Sparky!
*** Yes, someone actually said this once.

Not the sort of things I figured I'd have to deal with when I started working in a library.

As I mentioned in the last post, it's Finals Week here at the school (tonight's the last night, in fact), and since the school year is winding down, they're holding a lot of events and dinners and things in the school's so-called Grand Hall. Which is in the same building as the library. It's about 30 feet from where I'm sitting right now, in fact. And such events are usually pretty loud. The fact that the students who've been trying to study in here this week haven't risen up in armed, bloody revolt against the people in charge of these functions speaks well of the character of at least some of the school's population.

Tonight's event is a real humdinger, though. It's for the outgoing senior class, something to do with the Senior Class Gift, I think. And there's an open bar.

I'd like to know who uses the phrases "college students," "open bar," "in the same building as the library," and "during Finals Week" in the same sentence and arrives at the conclusion that it sounds like a good idea. Whenever they hold one of these things, I keep wishing some kid will stumble in, puke on a computer, and collapse on the floor, in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, they'd actually think twice about this sort of thing next year.

But then I remember that this is largely a rich kid school, and that something like that wouldn't just be ignored, but possibly even celebrated.

This & That

Happy Mother's Day to all the mommies out there, but most especially to my own mom (who doesn't read this, but still...) and Erin (who does read this when she gets bored at work). Enjoy your day!

I've discovered my new Stupid Mutant Power: I can make comic book companies decide to collect stuff in trade paperback form. For example, a few months back, I decided to finally get around to trying to complete my run of DC's Shazam series from the 70s, so I went about it and assembled a good chunk of the issues I needed (including the usually-pricey 100 pagers). Then, this morning, I see this (via Dorian, who got it from Newsarama):

SHOWCASE PRESENTS: SHAZAM VOL. 1 TP Writers: Dennis O'Neil, E. Nelson Bridwell and Elliot S. Maggin. Artists: C.C. Beck, Kurt Schaffenberger, Bob Oksner, Dave Cockrum, Alan Weiss, Dick Giordano, Don Newton, Tenny Henson, Bob Wiacek, Vince Colletta, Tex Blaisdell, Bob Smith and Joe Rubinstein. Collects stories from SHAZAM #1-24, 26-35$16.99, 560 pages
So, you know, great news and all, but also mildly infuriating. I've got too many of the original issues to stop getting those now, but I'll probably end up getting the book, anyway - it'll be nice to have a nice huge chunk of these stories in a format I'll be able to share with Liam more easily when he's older, you know? Also, this appears to collect the DC created stories only, so all the great Fawcett reprints are reason enough to keep buying the singles.

(Also, the list says we're getting Showcases for Phantom Stranger and 60s Batman - the "new look era," not "Time Travel Crimes on Venus" stuff - as well as a Marvel Family Archive and an Earth-2 Huntress collection, among other awesome things. Where do I get my "Paul Levitz is My Master Now" t-shirt?)

So where was I? Oh yeah, my stupid mutant power. This isn't the first time this has happened to me in the past few years. I decide to check out Nova, and then bam, Essential Nova is announced by Marvel. I give the Moench/Sienkiewicz Moon Knight a shot, and again, bam, Essential Moon Knight. I even checked out Jack Kirby's Black Panther series, figuring there's no way in hell that'd ever see the light of day again, but nope, it gets collected, too. And though it took a few years, I suspect my picking up Little Lulu back issues had something to do with Dark Horse's decision to collect that series, too.

So is there anything out there you wanna see collected? ACG's Herbie? Lee Elias's Black Cat? The complete run of Crockett Johnson's Barnaby? More of the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire Justice League? Ambush Bug? Maybe I can work my mojo and make it happen.

An open letter to the people who are causing gas prices to be so high, whoever you are:

Dear people who are causing gas prices to be so high, whoever you are.

I sincerely hope that all of you are forcibly, viciously sodomized by grizzly bears.


When the original Battlestar Galactica mini-series ran on the Sci-Fi Channel a couple of years ago, I got bored and turned it off after about a half-hour. But I've heard so many great things about it and the subsequent series since then I figured I'd give it another shot, and I got the DVD of the mini-series from Netflix the other day.

And dammit, they got me. I don't know what changed between then and now, but I'm hooked. I'm not even finished with the first half of the mini-series yet, and I'm hooked. Like I have time to watch another show right now! This is the reason I still haven't rented Firefly.

My only complaint is that so many characters are introduced early on that it's hard to pick up on everybody's name. For instance, who is the black-haired woman who works on the flight deck crew? She's really cute.

UPDATED: Okay, I found she's Crewman Specialist Cally, as played by Nicki Clyne. Thanks for aiding and abetting my crushes on fictional characters and the actresses who play them, Google & IMDB!

Ideally, we have a "no food or beverages" rule at the library, but we don't enforce it too often anymore. Partially because it's frustrating to get people to follow a rule that most of 'em ignore anyway, but mostly because it's sort of hypocritical when you consider that someone had the genius idea of putting a coffee shop in the same building, not 50 feet from the circulation desk. So we've learned to turn a blind eye to most of the food that makes its way into building. It doesn't mean we don't notice some of the more unusual examples though.

Like this morning: a kid brings in water and bananas. But we're not talking about a little water bottle and a couple of small bananas. He had a full gallon jug and an entire bunch of large bananas. That's just bizarre. Finals Week usually brings the weirdos out to play, but potassium freaks testing their bladder volume? That's a new one.

Over on his blog, Evan Dorkin was asking folks what 3 to 5 pieces of comic art (of everything published ever - cover, page, strip, panel, whatever) they would like to own if they could indeed own any piece of comic art ever. I came up with 8 (I never was good with limits):

  • One of three daily Peanuts strips. Either the one where Chuck tells Franklin "Where I come from, I'm not known for doing things right;" the one where he's lying in bed and says sometimes he asks "why me" and then a voice says "Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up;" or the one where Rerun talks about becoming an underground cartoonist.
  • The cover to Love & Rockets vol. 2 #1, the police line-up with the various versions of Maggie
  • The famous Steranko page with Nick Fury and Val enjoying a little alone time, the one Marvel changed the last panel on, replacing the image of Nick and Val embracing with an an allegedly less suggestive (but actually incredibly phallic) shot of Fury's gun in his holster.
  • The Calvin & Hobbes "Tyrannosaurs in F-14s!" Sunday page.
  • Any Barks Uncle Scrooge page, though preferably one of Scrooge discovering some famous treasure, or at least swimming in the money bin.
  • An Eisner Spirit splash page - clever use of the lettering of "The Spirit" as buildings or something a must.
  • The Kirby splash of Reed entering the Negative Zone in FF #51 (even if most of it is collage-type stuff).
  • I forget the issue number, but the George Perez LSH cover showing Superboy and the entire Legion.

And that was just off the top of my head. Given time and space, I'm sure I could come up with dozens more.

Ten for Tuesday

Ten things I’m enjoying the hell out of lately, in no particular order:

1. Increasingly mobile Liam. He has moved past the on the stomach “commando crawl” and into full-on supporting his body weight legitimate crawling. And he can walk if he has something to hold onto for support, like the couch. And he’s getting fast. Which, you know, has its good and bad sides. But either way, it’s damn impressive.

2. Infinite Crisis in Thirty Seconds! For the most part, I enjoyed the actual series. Although it was a lot bloodier than I think was really necessary. And it didn’t reach a satisfying conclusion so much as a sort of “Crap, we’re running of pages” dull thud of an ending. And that last two page spread of all the One Year Later heroes has me convinced that they’re going to screw up my precious Marvel Family even more than they already have. Um, yeah… it had its problems. But I mostly liked it. Honestly. I just think this version is superior.

3. That new American Express commercial with Wes Anderson. Superior to both the previous AmEx ad with M. Night Shama-lama-ding-dong (in case you can’t tell, I’m not a fan) and Anderson’s last movie, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Leave it to Anderson to rebound in the most unexpected way (and format) possible.

4. Free Comic Book Day! I had planned to hit a bunch of different shops, but first stopped into Newbury Comics (for non-New Englanders or those who didn’t read this comment thread on BeaucoupKevin’s blog, it’s a record store chain that carries comics as a sideline, despite what the nomenclature might lead you to believe) on a whim and found all the books I was looking for on the first try (as well as some other loot to buy with my birthday giftcard). So rather than spending the day wandering from store to store across Rhode Island, I got home early and went out for Chinese food and a nice walk with Erin and Liam. I win!

5. Free Comic Book Day Comics – I haven’t read ‘em all so far, but of those I’ve been able to get to, my favorites were Amelia Rules (which doesn’t surprise me, as I’ve been a fan from issue 1 and have yet to be let down), Buzzboy (so glad we get more new BB this summer), and AdHouse’s The Preposterous Voyages of Ironhide Tom, which I would argue is not only the best of this year’s lot, but possibly of every FCBD book ever released (bear in mind I’m given to superlative). It’s not only a funny story, but it taught me new synonyms for poop, including my new favorite: nightsoil! My world has been rocked.

6. The Red Sox swept the Orioles. Again! For the last few years, the Sox seemed to have this severe mental block when it came to Baltimore. Even if the Orioles were bringing up the rear of the division, Boston would lose to ‘em constantly. Let’s hope this is finally turning around.

7. Speaking of baseball, me and the boy at his first game (the Pawtucket Red Sox vs. the Durham Bulls at McCoy Stadium – no umpires harmed this time!):

8. Grilling. Warmer weather means I get to use my grill (“Josie”) again. This is a very good thing. I believe that all foods would taste better if grilled. Even cereal. The other day, my friend Dan and I discussed the possibility of grilled pastrami. We weren’t quite sure how to do it, but were convinced that if a way could be found, it would be the tastiest lunchmeat found in nature.

9. I’m really happy that I finally got the copy of Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 4 that I bought off eBay an entire month ago. I won it on April 6th and paid the same day. The auction listing said shipping was via Media Mail and would take 5 to 7 days. That’s fine, except they didn’t even mail the damn thing until May 1st, and nowhere in the listing does it indicate it’d take that long. So, you know, that’s no good, but the book itself looks fantastic. I loves me some Silver Age DC silliness.

10. The Noggin network’s Sesame Street spin-off, Play With Me Sesame, aired the old “Near and Far” bit with Grover last week, and it’s even funnier than I remembered it. It further convinced me that Sesame Workshop could make a fortune selling compilation DVDs of the funniest bits from 70s & 80s episodes of Sesame Street. A lot of that stuff still plays well 30+ years later.

It's important to let people know where you stand on issues like this.

Idea lifted (and poorly at that) from Dorian and Jon Cormier (among others, I'm sure), who got it from this guy.

Well, at least he'll be able to console himself with his hot wife and millions of dollars.

To all the sports writers and media personalities who’ve been complaining for the last few days that Boston fans’ treatment of Johnny Damon in his return to Fenway Park as a Yankee was unseemly:

Did you honestly think it would – or even could – work out any other way? Yes, Damon’s accomplishments in his four years as the Red Sox centerfielder were pretty impressive. Yes, the man played hard every day he took the field. Yes, he was the public face of the team for many people.

But how is that supposed to make everything okay? The way I see it, it only made everything worse. If your best friend of 20 years screws your wife behind your back, are you going to forgive him because he was there for you through thick and thin? No, you’re going want to kick his face in because he screwed your wife. Some actions are just unforgivable, no matter what the situation. And in baseball terms, voluntarily leaving Boston for Yankee Stadium – after publicly stating that you’d never do that and couldn’t be swayed by the old Steinbrenner checkbook, no less – is just such an offense.

If Benedict Arnold came back after the end of the American Revolution and was all “Look, okay, I tried to turn West Point over to the British, sure… but remember how awesome I was in the Saratoga Campaign? Come on, where’s the love for that?” Yeah, that’d end pretty badly. It’s an extreme example, sure, but a good-sized portion of Red Sox Nation views the two events in the exact same light. This is because New Englanders are a pretty excitable group of people. The winters are long and cold… emotional extremes are a good way to pass the time indoors and keep warm at the same time. The same effects could probably be achieved with anti-psychotic medications and blankets, but where’s the fun in that?

So a rousing chorus of boos and some fake money thrown on the field (which was, by the way, a brilliant idea - Fenway grandstand denizens are the cleverest drunks in all of baseball) is actually getting off pretty lightly, if you ask me. Remember, Boston sports fans have heckled golf before*… there are few depths to which we won’t sink.

Except outright rioting and murder… we leave that shit to Detroit.

*At the Ryder Cup a few years back.

Little things meme a lot.

Other people did this, so I figured I'd give it a whirl, too.

Soundtrack of my life

Put your music player on shuffle.
Press forward for each question.
Use the song title as the answer to the question even if they don't make sense.

How am I feeling today?
Inside – Patti Rothberg (“Haven’t done a thing today, just sittin’ around, wastin’ time away…” Yeah, that’s pretty accurate.)

Will I get far in life?
Everything Means Nothing to Me – Elliott Smith (So, no then?)

How do my friends see me?
Crazy – Barenaked Ladies (Gee, thanks!)

Where will I get married?
Robot Theme Song – The Aquabats (Well, I’m already married, and no robots were in attendance, so I question this one.)

What is my best friend's theme song?
(Don’t Go Back to) Rockville – REM

What is the story of my life?
Into Your Arms – The Lemonheads (This is probably pretty accurate.)

What was high school like?
Hold Me Now – Thompson Twins (Um, no… this would’ve required attention from a girl, which was in short supply in high school.)

How can I get ahead in life?
If I Can’t Change Your Mind (Solo Mix) – Sugar (Okay, so my iPod doesn’t have a particularly high opinion of me for some reason.)

What is the best thing about me?
Miss Teen Wordpower – The New Pornographers (Well, I do have a pretty decent vocabulary.)

What is today going to be like?
And Your Bird Can Sing – Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs (Well, that’s nice I suppose.)

What is in store for this weekend?
How Many Cans? – Soul Coughing (Cans of food or cans of beverage?)

What song describes my parents?
Embarrassment – Madness (Heh.)

To describe my grandparents?
Here Comes the Pain – The Juliana Hatfield Three (Well, maybe one of ‘em.)

How is my life going?
Hooray for Santy Claus – Senor Tonto (So, pretty good then?)

What song will they play at my funeral?
I Want to Break Free – Queen (“Um, really guys, seriously, get me outta this freakin’ coffin!”)

How does the world see me?
Good Year for the Roses – Elvis Costello & the Attractions (But I don’t even have a garden.)

Will I have a happy life?
Stars and Planets – Liz Phair (Am I going to live in space? Cool.)

What do my friends really think of me?
In the Lost and Found – Elliott Smith (Faaaaaantastic.)

Do people secretly lust after me?
Shadows – Sunny Day Real Estate (So, no then?)

How can I make myself happy?
Crazy – REM (Don’t mind if I do! Bleh blah bleh blah bllllggggaaaahhhhbllluuuuu!)

What should I do with my life?
Subway – Mary Lou Lord (So, should I ride one a lot, or play music near one the way Ms. Lord often does?)

Will I ever have children?
Chopsticks – Liz Phair (So does this mean that any future children will be Asian? Or that Liam will enjoy Chinese food?)