Tuesday, February 28, 2006

James vs The Prince of Darkness

I am sure there are some of you who read this blog who consider me to be rather milquetoast and, lets be honest, a bit priggish (I’ll cop to the smug part of the priggishness). Besides my occasional outbursts of wit, which tend to the dick and fart joke variety, I appear to be nothing more than a mild mannered data ninja. Nothing could be further from the truth. Deep inside me lurks the heart of a Rock God the likes of which the world has never known.

I just know someone sniggered at that last sentence. I can almost here the thought, “James? Rock God? Puh-leese. You have a better chance of convincing me he is black.” Now, while I have been known to bust some rhymes at times as well as drop some phat beats, I will admit to being OC, which is Overly Caucasian for those of you who aren’t from the street, yo. It is clear to me the only way to win you over is to compare myself to one of the myriad of Rock Gods offered up over the past three decades. I have to choose carefully because regardless of how extreme I am, there are still some out there who could beat my candy ass with both hands tied behind their back; Alice Cooper springs to mind. I also need to pick someone that everyone knows. I can not use the led singer of, oh, lets say Iron Butterfly. No matter how influential they may have been as a band, I bet more than half the people who read this post will have to click on the link to figure out who the heck I am talking about. Finally I had to choose someone who is not likely to sue me for attempting to besmirch their name, which leaves out the ubiquitous/litigious members of Metallica.

This really leaves me with only one choice. That’s right, Ozzy Osborne, the Prince of Darkness and the bane of bats from coast to coast. I am pretty sure I could take him in a fight, as long as I was able to kick him in the hip or, failing that, walk away at near freaky-speedwalker speeds (although the new, buff, kick-boxing Jack kinda of scares me.) EVERYONE knows who Ozzy is even if you do not have an appreciation for/are too young for his music thanks to his legendary exploits and train-wreck of a reality series on MTV. Finally Ozzy strikes me as the type of bloke who would get a chuckle out of the post, unlike Lars the Amazing Drumming Weasel. So there it is, the card for this celebrity death match is set. James versus the Prince of Darkness in however many rounds of Rock God-ish exploits I can come up with.


Background:

Ozzy grew up in Birmingham, England during its days as a blue-collar steel town. While the town is still predominantly working class, I gather it has gentrified a bit in the 50 some-odd years since Ozzy was born and brought up there. Besides, from what I can gather, his father was a bit rough on him as a kid.

I grew up in perhaps the whitest master-planned community known to man since Berlin circa 1944; The Woodlands. As of the 2000 census The Woodlands is 92.36% white and although I do not have statistics to prove it, I believe the population has diversified since my time in The W, as we called it. (We didn’t, but since I am now all hip and crap, I try to make stuff up.)

Advantage: Ozzy as his rough childhood contributed to his later descent into a drug-fueled haze.


Musicianship:

Ozzy screams. A lot.

I have at various times throughout my life had had formal vocal training as well as having played the violin, piano, trombone, bass trombone, tuba, and bagpipes.

Advantage: James. Seriously, do you think Ozzy got booted from Black Sabbath because of the drugs? No, it is because of his limited musicianship, which is really what rock is all about.


Substance Abuse:

While the Oz-man is not reputed to be on quite the same level as the Rolling Stones resident connoisseur of all things mind altering, Keith Richards, Ozzy’s bout with the drink and the drugs are a well-documented matter of public knowledge. He was even thrown out of Black Sabbath due to his bouts with the bottle and pills.

I likes me some booze from time to time, and I think I could live on Guinness, however besides the six-month period detailed here I have never really been one to get addicted to drugs or alcohol. Hell, I don’t even smoke beyond the occasional cigar, A habit for which I hold Mr. TunaCan and Scott responsible.

Advantage: Ozzy for doing more than his fair share to keep the illicit drug trade in business.


Arrest Record:

Ozzy was arrested in San Antonio, Texas after urinating near the base of the Cenotaph at The Alamo.

I was arrested for beating the crap out of some dude with a pay phone, as detailed here.

Advantage: James for being so cool that Russell Crowe would later ape my moves.


Public Urination:

In the aforementioned incident Ozzy urinated near the base of the Cenotaph at The Alamo.

In an incident which took place sometime in 1977 I saw my destiny as a Rock God and felt the need to mark my territory by urinating on the grounds of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. That’s right boys and girls, I do indeed know how to rock out with my cock out, and in front of a tour bus, no less. For those of you who doubt the veracity of this, I offer the following photograph which has adorned the front of my mother’s refrigerator for more years than I care to remember.


Advantage: James for pissing on FEDERAL property.



Now let’s review the scorecard:


That’s right gentle readers, after some time in deliberations our distinguished panel of impartial judges (which has been vetted to ensure there are no French ice skating judges about trying to trade influence) has determined that I, the Funky Woodjam, am actually more of a rock god than Ozzy Osbourne. All I have to say is:

Who’s wearing the daddy pants now Mister Prince of Darkness?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Four Color Commentary - Books Shipped 2-22-06

Astonishing X-Men #13
Joss Whedon, Writer
John Cassaday, Artist

Like many things in geek culture I missed the boat on Joss Whedon the first time around. I never got into Buffy or Angel and I only picked up Firefly after it had already been released on DVD, however this series cemented Joss as one of the icons of geekery for me and therefore when I found out he was going to be writing the Astonishing X-Men I couldn’t wait to begin reading the series. Now after a several month hiatus Whedon and Cassaday and the Astonishing X-Men return for another twelve rounds of crunchy geek goodness. Picking up the story post-House of M this issue re-introduces us to the dynamics of the Astonishing team and the elements which will be important for the upcoming story arc. Fortunately Whedon’s dialogue is a joy to read in much the same way that Kevin Smith’s dialogue is a joy to read. That is to say that Whedon writes natural sounding dialogue that is far wittier than real dialogue. When you couple this with Cassaday’s superior art, this book was an all around joy to read and I look forward to the next issue.

(Bonus! See Joss Whedon and Warren Ellis go head to head on WarrenEllis.dot where Joss reveals Warren’s secret origin.)


Black Widow 2 #6 (of 6)
Richard K. Morgan, Script
Sean Phillips, Layouts
Bill Sienkiewicz, Finishes

Mmmm. I likes me some Black Widow. What’s not to like here? Spy? Check. Red head? Check. Tight leather? Check. Hot accent? Check. She could kill me with her pinky? Check. She’s almost the perfect woman, too bad she’s not real. (I can’t believe I actually typed last sentence. I need help.) Honestly, despite her off and on again romance with the Avengers and her semi-monthly guest star spots in Daredevil I feel she is one of the best Marvel characters who is WAY under utilized. Sadly this final issue of this limited series seemed a little formulaic and was not a very satisfying ending to the story, however the art from Sean Phillips and Bill Sienkiewicz made the book worth the $2.99 cover price. I have to admit that it was nice to see Natasha really cut loose and get her hands dirty by killing a couple of people, while quoting Shakespeare no less. I hope to see more from everyone involved in this series in the near future despite my concerns about this final issue.


Exiles #77
Tony Bedard, Writer
J. Calafiore, Penciller
Mark McKenna, Inker

Back when this book came out it was one of my favorite Marvel books, however it has slowly slipped down my list of have to reads until it is one of those books I am still picking up out of some sad, dork momentum. Over the past several issues Tony Bedard et al have been taking us on a tour of the various cobwebby corners of the Marvel U which are barely seen anymore. They include the lamentable 2099 Earth and New Universe Earth and now the Squadron Supreme Earth (classic flavor, not JMS’ relaunch.) To be honest this whole series of “World Tour” has the stink of an editorial mandate. I suspect they are throwing different worlds at the wall and seeing which ones stick, however this may be me projecting my pessimism about Marvel’s recent major events (I HATED the House of M) onto an otherwise innocent series. In this issue the Exiles continue their pursuit of Proteus across the multiverse to the Earth inhabited by the classic Squadron Supreme. In typical comie fashion both groups of heroes feel the need to fight first and ask questions later. To be fair to Bedard he does a good job of setting up the conflict, however I have to ask how long superheroes are going to continue behaving in this manner. Oh well, I will probably continue to pick up this book in the hope that it improves and because despite the aura of suck emanating from the title, I have to get my monthly fix of Morph.


Rising Stars: Untouchable #1
Fiona Avery, Writer
Brent Anderson, Artist

During its run Rising Stars was one of my favorite comics and I am a bit pissed at both JMS (a little) and Top Cow (a lot) for mucking about and letting their legal back and forth get in the way of me enjoying the end of the story. Continuing the tradition of Rising Stars: Bright and Rising Stars: Voices of the Dead, Rising Stars: Untouchable takes a deeper look at one of the specials. In this case it is Laurel Darkhaven, who, if I am remembering correctly, meets her end in the original series when she expends her power to lift arable soil from the depths of the deserts in the Middle East, rendering the entire region arable and ready for farming. Before she joined the other Specials in saving the world from itself she served the government as an assassin. Her special ability was telekinesis, however she could only control very small things; a computer chip in a car or a blood vessel in your brain, to quote a few examples. The concept of her as the perfect assassin was mind-blowingly cool when it cropped up in the original series and served as the basis for more than one Godlike character. This first issue does an adequate job of setting up her motivation for joining the government, she is running away from home after a fashion, as well as showing her discovery of how useful her special ability may turn out to be. I am glad that Fiona Avery is writing this series as she is, or was, JMS’ acolyte and certainly seems most qualified to continue to play in his world.


Solo #9
Scott Hampton, Writer & Artist

I know I seem to say this a lot, however Solo is one of the best books out there on the market. The concept alone is brilliant. Allowing some of the best and brightest in comic art to have an issue where they get to do whatever they damn well please. Brilliant. The stories range from stories dealing with DCs canonical characters to random bits of sequential art. All of the issues have served to make me more aware of art as it exists in the comic world and some of them have introduced me to artists I otherwise would not have necessarily been aware of. This is not to say that I have not seen and enjoyed work by the artists, however this book forces me to be more aware of them. One thing I think would be nice for DC to do with this series is to commission a series of short stories from some of the up and coming writing talents in the industry (or even have an open call for them) and require the artists to use a script from this pool for one of the stories in the book.


Warlord #1
Bruce Jones, Writer
Bart Sears, Artist

Yay! The cover tells me everything I need to know. “Beginnnig a bold new era of sword-and-sorcery EXCITEMENT!” A man clad in some sort of messed-up gladiatorial armor with a barely-dressed and raven-tressed hottie wrapped around one leg with a cloak-wrapped princess just behind him. Clearly we are in for more of the slightly misogynistic sword-and-sorcery action cut from the same vein as Conan or the Gor novels. There is certainly a place for this sort of story, heavy on the action and light on the character development, and I am not too embarrassed to admit I like Conan and other adventures of this ilk. Having said that, this first issue was a bit of a disappointment. I do not have a background with the previous series (published by DC from 1976 to 1989) so I cannot tell you how well this series jives with the original, however I can tell you that this series feels VERY derivative, particularly from the Gor novels, which were a boobular tubular joy (very few of you will get that.) The fact that Bart Sears is the artist on this series does not help matters. I do not like how he draws faces and while I can not remembed who leveled the charge, he is one of the artists responsible for adding about 200 muscles to the human anatomy back in the ‘90s. While this seems like a perfect match for this sort of book, and he has reined in the impulse a bit, it still bugs me. I am going to pick up a couple more issues of this series to see if it improves, however I do not have much hope.


The rest:
  • Batman #650
    • Judd Winick, Writer
    • Eric Battle, Penciller
    • Rodney Ramos, Inker
  • Batman: Journey into Knight #7 (of 12)
    • Andrew Helfer, Writer
    • Tan Eng Huat, Artist
  • Captain America #15
    • Ed Brubaker, Writer
    • Mike Perkins, Artist
  • Catwoman #52
    • Will Pfeifer, Writer
    • Pete Woods, Artist
  • Green Lantern #9
    • Geoff Johns, Writer
    • Ethan van Sciver, Penciller
    • Ethan van Sciver & Prentis Rollins, Inkers
  • JLA Classified #17
    • Gail Simone, Writer
    • Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Penciller
    • Klaus Janson, Inker
  • Supergirl #5
    • Jeph Loeb, Writer
    • Ian Churchill, Penciller
    • Norm Rapmund, Inker
  • Supreme Power: Hyperion #4 (of 5)
    • J. Michael Straczynski, Writer
    • Dan Jurgens and Klaus Janson, Artists
  • Usagi Yojimbo #91
    • Stan Sakai, Writer & Artist
  • Wolverine #39
    • Daniel Way, Writer
    • Javier Saltares, Breakdowns
    • Mark Texeira, Finishes
  • X-Men #183
    • Peter Milligan, Writer
    • Salvador Larroca, Artist
UIDC:
  • The Legion #s 20 & 23
    • (Only five more issues to go before I have the whole run.)
TPB:
  • Liberty Meadows Book 4: Cold, Cold Heart
    • Frank Cho, Writer & Artist

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I Saw the Sign

Ah, a Monday I did not have to spend in the office. I should have been able to smell the miracle on the air. Seriously, how many days can you think of in a given year where the kids have to be in school and you do not have to spend your day playing in that grown-up gopher farm commonly referred to as your office? This past Monday was one such day. Despite a miscommunication on lunch plans, it turned out to be a miraculous and glorious day. And all because on this most sacred of days, I did laundry.

My laundry had been piling up. I tried to get as much laundry done before the move, however due to my supreme powers of slack I managed to have about half a hampers worth of clothes when I moved into Meat Plant, and since I have just barely over a weeks worth of underthings and socks, my drawers drawer was starting to look a mite thin. To put it not so gently had I not done laundry on Monday I would be sitting here typing this missive to you sans britches and matching socks. Clearly the one thing I had to do was laundry.

Now Meat Plant has a stacked washer/dryer unit, however apparently the drier leaves grease stains on the clothes. Since I do not like hanging my laundry out to dry, this meant I had to go on a holy quest for a Laundromat that met my exacting specifications. As I am a simple man, these are a fairly simple set of specs. Of primary importance is the dryer to washer ratio. There are few Laundromat experiences worse than having your freshly clean laundry sitting around waiting its turn in the dryer. The second thing I look for is a washateria that is somewhat off the beaten path. In my experience the staff at these tend to be a bit friendlier once you have established that you are a regular and since they are in out of the way places, they are not very busy. A final ingredient that makes the experience nicer is if the washateria is staffed by attractive young ladies.

Once upon a time when I lived in a neighborhood not too far from the one I now inhabit, I used to frequent the Graustark Laundry for all my laundromatical needs. As I was preparing my supplies I remembered the Graustark Laundry and had a vague idea of where it was, however since Mr. TunaCan and I had always referred to it as the Seinfeld Laundry (due to the mural depicting the main cast of Seinfeld heading to do their laundry) I had no way of looking it up to verify where it was. All I remembered is that it was between 59 and Richmond somewhere west of Montrose, but still close to Montrose.

As luck would have it I managed to stumble across Mirama Street, which was familiar to me somehow, and since the only reason I had ever been in that neighborhood was to go to the laundry I knew the hunt was afoot. I followed Miramar and then, there at the corner of Graustark and Miramar, the grinning visage of Jerry welcomed me back. A little worse for wear, but he and the crew were still there.

I wandered in. Did my laundry. Read a couple of comics (though not enough to get caught up as previously promised). There were a couple of other customers and the attendant, while not an attractive young woman, was friendly enough. The place was clean and well stocked with semi-recent magazines. All in all it was a very pleasant experience, but this is not the miracle of which I speak. Before I headed out in search of the Laundromat, I had to swing by Kroger’s to pick up some laundry detergent. It was here, in the Kroger’s express lane, where I had a life-altering revelation. We’re talking Saul on the road to Damascus kind of revelation. Take a look at my receipt:


It is true that God works in mysterious ways and Jesus, well my friends, he is all about the saving!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Template Updates

Some of the more astute/bored amongst you may have noticed a few changes have been working their way into the Opiate of late. Of course all of these changes center around the ever-growing collection of links (will somebody please stop me) on the right side of your screen. The new categories are:

3-2-1-CONTACT
Is the secret/is the moment/when everything happens...oh, sorry folks. This contains my email address so you can contact me, although honestly I would prefer your leave any comments regarding my posts attached to the posts themselves rather than commenting via email.

PO – LINK – TICS
I thought this was funny when I first wrote it but now it has the same feeling as a guest who has overstayed their welcome. In this category I will put links to sites of a political nature.

BIG JIMMIE STYLE
(Linvin’ la vida local)

Here is where I put links to things I like in the Houston or Bryan/College Station areas. Stores, restaurants, bands, bars, people, radio stations, you name it and it will end up in here. There will be some overlap here with links in other categories, but everything here will be of a local flavor. It's how I roll, yo.

MUSIC
Sadly I couldn’t think of a funny name for this category which will primarily be links to bands whom I like or know or sources for their CDs.

That’s it so far. I hope all you cats have a good President’s day. Mine will be spent either migrating too and from College Station in the attempt to have lunch with some friends, or doing laundry and reading comics. We shall see.

Four Color Commentary - Books Shipped 2-15-06

While this post is not a week late like the last FCC post, it will be just as lacking in the commentary department. Once again I am going to use the whole packing and moving and shopping at Ikea and unpacking thing as an excuse, which is going to really ring hollow when I post the book review for Gerrold's The Galactic Whirlpool, but c'est la vie. Anyway, without further ado, here is the list of stuff I bought during my weekly pilgrimage to Nan's:
  • Angry Youth Comix #10
    • Johnny Ryan
  • Batgirl #73
    • Andersen Gabrych, Writer
    • Pop Mhan, Penciller
    • Jesse Delperdang and Adam Dekraker, Inkers
  • Batman: Year 100 #1 (of 4)
    • Paul Pope
  • Birds of Prey #91
    • Jim Alexander, Writer
    • Brad Walker, Penciller
    • Jimmy Palmiotti, Inker
  • Conan #25
    • Kurt Busiek, Writer
    • Cary Nord, Art
  • Daredevil #82
    • Ed Brubaker, Writer
    • Michael Lark, Art
  • Gotham Knights #74
    • A.J. Lieberman, Writer
    • Diego Olmos, Penciller
    • Bit, Inker
  • JSA Classified #9
    • Peter J. Tomasi, Writer
    • Don Kramer, Penciller
    • Keith Champagne, Inker
  • Justice #4
    • Jim Krueger and Alex Ross, Story
    • Doug Braithwaite and Alex Ross, Art
  • Loveless #4
    • Brian Azzarello, Writer
    • Marcelo Frusin, Artist
  • Red Sonja #6
    • Michael Avon Oeming and Mike Cary, Writers
    • Mel Rubi, Art
  • Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy #2 (of 6)
    • Joe Kubert
  • Spider-Woman: Origin #3 (of 5)
    • Brian Michael Bendis and Brian Reed, Writers
    • Jonathan Luna, Art
  • Supermarket #1
    • Brian Wood, Writer
    • Kristian, Art
  • Ultimate Fantastic Four #27
    • Mark Millar, Writer
    • Greg Land, Penciller
    • Matt Ryan, Inker
  • X-Men: Deadly Genesis #4 (of 6)
    • Ed Brubaker, Writer
    • Trevor Hairsine, Layouts
    • Scott Hanna, Finishes

TPBs
  • Kid Eternity
    • Grant Morrison, Writer
    • Duncan Fregedo, Artist
  • Preacher: Gone to Texas (Vol. 1)
    • Garth Ennis, Writer
    • Steve Dillon, Art

Four Color Commentary - Books Shipped 2-8-06

This post, which is a week late, is going to be light on commentary (there is none) as I have been packing and moving over the last week and have fallen shamefully behind in my comic reading duties. While I am doing laundry tomorrow I hope to get caught up and complete the stack of sixty comics which are awaitng my attention. Phew. Hopefully I will be caught up enough after tomorrow to be able to give this next week's releases the proper love and attention they deserve.

  • Black Widow 2 #5
    • Richard K. Morgan, Writer
    • Sean Phillips, Layouts
    • Bill Sienkiewicz, Finishes
  • DMZ #4
    • Brian Wood, Writer
    • Riccardo Burchielli & Brian Wood, Art
  • Fables #46
    • Bill Willingham, Writer
    • Jim Fern, Penciller
    • Jimmy Palmiotti, Inker
  • Green Arrow #59
    • Judd Winick, Writer
    • Paul Lee, Penciller
    • Dan Davis, Inker
  • Jeremiah Harm #1
    • Keith Giffen, Plot
    • Alan Grant, Script
    • Rael Lyra, Art
    • Joe Prado, Digital Inks
  • JLA #125
    • Bob Harras, Writer
    • Tom Derenick, Penciller
    • Dan Green, Inker
  • JSA #82
    • Paul Levitz, Writer
    • George Perez & Bob Wiacek, Art
  • Legends of the Dark Knight #200
    • Eddie Campbell and Daren White, Writers
    • Bart Sears, Art
  • Marvel Legacy: The 1960s Handbook #1
    • Yeah, pretty much everyone.
  • Nightwing #117
    • Devin Grayson, Writer
    • Brad Walker, Penciller
    • Rodney Ramos, Inker
  • Robin #147
    • Bill Willingham and Bill Williams, Writers
    • Scott McDaniel, Penciller
    • Andy Owens, Inker
  • Supergirl #4
    • Jeph Loeb, Writer
    • Ian Churchill, Penciller
    • Norm Rapmund, Inker
  • Teen Titans #32
    • Geoff Johns, Writer
    • Todd Nauck, Penciller
    • Sean Parsons, Nelson, Lary Stucker, Inkers
  • Ultimate Extinction #2
    • Warren Ellis, Writer
    • Brandon Peterson, Art
  • X-Men #182
    • Peter Milligan, Writer
    • Salvador Larocca, Penciller
  • X-Men Unlimited #13
    • “Blind Love”
      • Hugh Sterbakov, Writer
      • Sean Scoffield, Art
    • “A Wonderful Life”
      • Damon Hurd, Writer
      • Clay Mann, Penciller
      • Mark Pennington, Inker
And once again because I am Dave Campbell's biatch:
  • The Legion #1, 4, 5, 6, 12, 19, 22, 24, 27, 28, and 29

TPBs
  • Battle Hymn: Farewell to the First Golden Age
    • B. Clay Moore, Writer
    • Jeremy Haun, Art
    • Ande Parkes, Inks on Chapter 1

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Sorry for the Slack

Sorry for the lack of updates. With packing and moving and all I have had a busy week or so. The move went really well, thanks for asking, and I am S-L-O-W-L-Y getting unpacked and settled in my new place. Part of the reason for the slowness is my normal laziness, but the main part of the slowness comes from my attempt to maintain my somewhat regular social schedule, which now includes trips to the gym at least three days a week. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you guys, I joined a gym and have been hitting the weights and cardio machines fairly seriously. Some days it goes real well and some days I really suck it up, particularly on the press and curl exercises. The important thing is that I am seeing some improvement in the amount of weight I am able to use on almost all the machines and while my weight is staying the same, I am not as likely to get winded. I have also discovered that I enjoy working out, even if I am a whiney little biatch afterwards. I promise to return us to our regularly scheduled posts by the end of the weekend, and I might even share my thoughts on Aerosmith’s upcoming single, “Cheney’s Got A Gun.”

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Elevator Etiquette

That’s right, it is time for me to put on my Miss Manners hat and instruct you barbarians on how we behave in a civil society. Today’s lesson concerns how one behaves when getting on, getting off, or riding in an elevator.

First. When waiting for the elevator DO NOT stand directly in front of the doors. You should always assume that someone is going to step off the elevator that you have just summoned. It’s just polite, you jacktard, and the next time you crowd my personal space with your burning need to getontheelevatorrightnowbeforeitdisappearsintothenothingness
fromwhenceitcame I will pimp slap you into the 25th century. Get it, Buck?

Second. Let anyone who is exiting the elevator actually exit the elevator before you jump on. I realize that elevators are a rare creature and your time with one should be cherished and all that, but seriously, the elevator will wait for you. They’re a particularly patient beast as long as you are paying attention, and they will not abandon you right after opening their doors.

Third. If you happen to step into a already crowded elevator (which, lets face it, you really shouldn’t) take notice of what floors have been selected before you press the button for your floor. This is important when you are one of the two people standing in front of the door. If you pay attention and step off the elevator to allow the poor soul, who has just spent an excrutiating ride trying not to unleash the wrath of the Lord our God upon all of the passengers, by without him having to push through things will be much better. For instance he might not have pulled the post-chili punch and run that occurred earlier this week.

Fouth. Don’t crowd the fat guy when there is an elevator’s worth of space. If you are standing so close to someone that their gut is touching your back you are WAY TOO FRACKIN’ CLOSE and you need to take a step forward. This is particularly true when there are a total of four people in the elevator. I realize that you might have a box in your arms that takes up a bit of room in front of you. Here is a simple rule of thumb. If you, your box, and the other occupants cannot fit into the elevator without things getting closer than a lap dance you need to get on the next elevator. If not there is a pretty good chance of you getting slapped with a harassment suit. Some people are not comfortable with strangers being that close to their junk. Of course if some people are helping you pay your “tuition” then it might be fine and you need to shake your money maker a little more.

That’s it kids. Just remember these easy guidelines and bets are you will survive riding the elevator just fine.

Dane's Inferno

I have been trying not to comment on the whole Mohammed cartoon imbroglio that the editors at Jyllands-Posten have managed to stir up for us, however after the continued idiocy in the Middle East I can no longer hold my tongue.

First off, to the editors of the Jyllands-Posten:

Shame on you, sirs. The right to free speech is a flimsy shield to hold up when you publish materials that are clearly meant to incite controversy. Even a couple of the artists comment on this in the cartoons you published. Now I believe in the value of a free press, such as it is in the world today, and I even more ferventlyy believe in the right to free speech. Free speech is one of the sacraments of democracy and while I believe you have the right to publish whatever you wish, I would hope that you would use this privilege to add to the public discourse rather than behave like a bunch of school boys. This is the sort of material I would expect to find in a rag published by those neo-Nazi knuckleheads in the KKK (or maybe as doodles on Pat Robertson’s Daytimer) and I would hope your journalistic integrity would not prove to be on par with those mouthpieces of hatred.

Second, to the rioters:

Grow the f*@% up. Seriously. Yes, according to your faith it is blasphemy to portray Mohammed*, much like it is blasphemy for a Christian to say, “God Damn.” Fair enough. It seems that the correct reaction to this would be to publicly enjoin the blasphemer and then pray to Allah for the blasphemer. Pray that they would see the error of their ways and recant their blasphemy. Beyond that shouldn’t blasphemy be a thing between the blasphemer and the blasphemee?

I really do not mean to belittle your anger at the cartoons. I went ahead and checked them out and while I have seen much worse directed at Jews and Jesus, I get where you are coming from on this, but I really do not understand the rioting. I really don’t. I would like to point out that your behavior at this point is only serving to reinforce the negative stereotypes of Islam and Muslims in the eyes of the world.

I also find the hue and cry that has been aroused by these cartoons a little suspect. They were initially published in September of last year and only within the last few weeks has there been a cry from the people. Why did such a hot-button issue have such a slow burn? I realize there has been a head of steam building on this issue for some time and the republication of the cartoons has had the effect of dumping gasoline on the fire. This may explain the sudden rash of escalating protests that sprung up beginning towards the end of January and turned into riots in the last week.

All in all this whole situation really pisses me off. The editors should have had the good sense to not publish these cartoons as they had to know this was going to stir up controversy. Of course I believe this was the point. How many of you had heard of Flemming Rose and Jyllands-Posten before this whole thing got rolling? Seems like their publicity stunt worked. Now that the editors have opened this can of worms, those of us that believe that the freedom of speech is an absolute have to stand up and say while we may disagree with what has been published (which I whole-heartedly do), we also understand the right of the person to publish whatever they wish. It is a great civics lesson in why freedom of speech is the most difficult freedom. I am also bothered by the lack of coverage of the MANY peaceful protests** which have taken place around the world.


*Why is it forbidden to have a picture of Mohammed but you can name your kid Mohammed? Seems a bit pretentious to me. “You just had a baby boy? Congratulations! What’s his name?....Jehovah? Really? Do you spell that with an ‘H’?”

**It might be hypocritical to be protesting the publication of these cartoons and be carrying signs that read “Europe is the cancer and Islam is the cure” and “Be prepared for the real Holocaust.” I’m just saying.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Spitfire

I love old warbirds and the Supermarine Spitfire has always ranked up there as one of my favorites. The plane is just beautiful and a marvel to watch in the air. I do not know why I gravitated towards this fighter rather than the P-51 or P-40, but there is something about the Spitfire that just looks fast, graceful and deadly.



The first time I saw one up close and personal was during a summer trip to my uncle’s house in Mission, the very same one where I had the yucca incident. In addition to hitting Mexico, we also went to South Padre Island. Between Mission and South Padre lies the bustling metropolis of Harlingen which at the time was the headquarters for the CAF (then known as the Confederate Air Force). I convinced my mom that we needed to stop and check out the planes, and there she was, a Spitfire just sitting out on the tarmac, waiting for me. I don’t know how long I spent looking at that one plane, but it made quite the impression on me.

Fast forward to April of 2005. I dragged Nikki to the Lone Star Flight Museum’s annual Spirit of Flight airshow and this time there were not one, but two Spitfires for me to admire. Sadly one of them was kept in the hanger for the day, however the other…wow, I love watching those things in the air. Sadly none of the pictures I took of the ‘birds in flight turned out, however this is my favorite out of the ones I took while they were on the flight line.

I have packed up my files of negatives so I cannot tell you what sort of film this was shot on (I suspect Fuji of one sort or another) however you can view the rest of my pictures from the airshow here and here.

BOOK REVIEW - A Feast for Crows

A Feast for Crows
George R.R. Martin
684 pages
Bantam Spectra, 2005



Ah ha! Another 684 pages down in George R.R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire. Once again I thoroughly enjoyed the read, but man, Martin is piling cliff-hanger on to cliff-hanger with this book. Chapters that end with, “When she woke the next morning, she was blind,” and “She screamed a word,” really left me wanting more. These were the final sentences we got to see from two of the twelve main POV characters that Martin uses in this installment. I understand that it is only half the book he intended it to be, but damn. Martin continues with the storytelling device of having several different main characters and telling the story through their various points of view. This time he confuses the issue by having some chapter titles be a character’s proper name, such as “Brienne,” and titles which indicate the character’s place in the story, such as “The Drowned Man” or “The Queenmaker.” Adding to all this, some of the characters have different chapter titles for their chapters. For instance the chapters titled “The Prophet” and “The Drowned Man” have the same main POV character. As I said in my review of A Storm of Swords, Martin manages to pull off using so many different characters with a certain √©lan which makes the novel eminently readable, although if you are not a died in the wool fantasy fan I would steer clear. Once again Martin has left me hungry for more, and I pray that the follow up novel A Dance with Dragons, which sounds suspiciously like an Anne McCaffery novel, is not too far off.

Next up: Wow, I need a break from all this serious reading so it is either going to be Steven Pressfield’s Last of the Amazons or David Gerrold’s The Galactic Whirlpool.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Four Color Commentary - Books Shipped 2-1-06

Athena Voltaire: Flight of the Falcon #1
Paul Daly, Writer
Steve Bryant, Art

A cover featuring a raven-haired woman with Tommy gun dangling from bridge with a Nazi about to blow her head off. That sums up why I bought this book. That and I have been feeling the need to start reading more of the independent books being published and as this one appealed to my Indiana jones, I, obviously, picked it up. The book begins in media res with the good guys hopelessly outnumbered by the bad guys and their blowgun toting allies in the depths of a South American jungle followed by a death-defying escape via a float plane. Sound familiar to anyone else? I thought so. The story was a little light on action and heavy on the sort of character development that bothers me in a visual media such as comic books. There is a lot of time where other characters are talking about Athena Voltaire and while these discussions often take place in voice-over so we can see Voltaire in action, they are still taking the place of character moments and telling the reader rather than showing the reader. For now I am going to continue picking up this book in the hope that it improves after the Basil Exposition moments are out of the way.


Batman & the Monster Men #4
Matt Wagner, Story & Art

Even though this series is another example of a company crowding the shelves with too many book about one character (see my rant in last week’s review of Red Sonja vs. Thulsa Doom) I am still enjoying it. Together with the last two issues of Detective Comics, this is the best Batman work to come out of DC in some time. As I read this series I cannot help but think that Wagner’s Hugo Strange is an alternate version of Dr. Venture from the Venture Brothers. Cementing this connection to a twisted Johnny Quest is his turban-wearing assistant, Sanjay. Wagner’s handling of the Bruce Wayne/Batman dichotomy, as shown through Bruce’s interaction with his love interest in the story, is pitch-perfect and steers clear of the mania so often introduced into that particular conflict in recent years. With only two issues left in the series (I think) I think it makes more sense for those of you not reading this series to hold off until it comes out in trade, however if you savor the challenge of tracking down the issues you have missed, you will not be disappointed in this series.


Captain America #14
Ed Brubaker, Writer
Steve Epting, Penciller

SPOILER ALERT!

Captain America is perhaps my favorite Marvel character. He is everything a hero should be, incorruptible, powerful, merciful, and yet in the hands of a good writer he is also very human. Brubaker’s run on Captain America has cemented Brubaker as one of the premier writers in comics today. He has crafted a couple of stories with mind-bending plot twists as well as managed to bring Bucky back from the dead in a way that was not completely fromagesque. Having said that, the conclusion of the Winter Soldier story, which had been running through the last six or seven issues was somewhat of a let down. In this issue we finally get the confrontation between Bucky and Captain America in which Captain America gets the Cosmic Cube and uses its power to help Bucky remember who he is. Bucky then grabs the Cosmic Cube in a fit of remorse and disappears. We then get the following panel (it has already been established that Fort Lehigh is where Bucky and Captain America first met):


This is the perfect place to end the story. We have Cap’s assertion that, “…he’s out there somewhere…I know it.” Perfect! We have a bit of a cliffhanger, but the main story has been wrapped up. Then we turn the page and get this:


I would like to nominate this as the worst F*@% NO moment in all of comics (with apologies to Dave Campbell). What’re you doing to me Ed? The story was over. Done. Fin. And then this page shows up! ARGH! This page sucks all the cool out of the book, especially the reveal on the last page, which, if it had followed the “…he’s out there somewhere…I know it,” panel, would have made this book the single coolest thing I have read all year. Instead it is mired in the could have been so cool if category.


Fury: Peacemaker #1 (of 6)
Garth Ennis, Writer
Darick Robertson, Penciller
Jimmy Palmiotti, Inker

Ennis is one of those writers who can either really rock or really suck. There is very little of his work that I have read that I am ambivalent about. This book is one of those moments where I am not sure if I like what Ennis is doing or not. The narrative came off as being a bit choppy and there were flashback moments that were in the story to show how invincible the Americans thought they were in the early days of Operation Torch, however they ring a bit false and quite frankly come off as Ennis poking fun. This is particularly true since the young Sergeant Fury does not seem to buy what the Lieutenant’s are selling. We shall see how this pans out as all the elements of awesomeness are present, but it is up to Ennis to either use them properly or FUBAR the entire situation.


Gotham Central #40
Greg Rucka, Writer
Kano & Steve Gaudiano, Art

This is the last issue of my favorite book currently coming out of DC. [SNIFFSNIFF] Much to my surprise (please read with the appropriate amount of sarcasm) Corrigan appears to have beaten the rap for killing Detective Allen and when Renee Montoya has a chance to kill the SOB all she does is make him cry like a little girl. Now I spend a lot of time complaining about how the heroes in modern comics are not very heroic anymore. They are all compromised ethically or morally in some manner, however this is the one time where I would have liked to see Montoya take the next step and take justice into her own hands by killing Corrigan. There are several reasons for this. The first is that Montoya is already compromised in that the last few issues have seen her develop a fondness for the drinking and a fondness for the bar fights, so her image as a hero is already tarnished. If she had taken the final step and killed Corrigan this could have turned her upcoming appearance in 52, which we have all heard about, into a sort of Orphic journey into the underworld to seek to set things right. With Crispus Allen’s spirit taking on the mantle of the Spectre, the stage was set for her to take a journey of mythic proportions, however since all she did was turn in her badge and walk away, I do not feel as though anything spectacular is in her future. This saddens me as I feel she is one of the most human characters in comics these days and thus could serve as an excellent tool to tell a story of redemption.


Green Lantern #8
Geoff Johns, Writer
Carlos Pacheco, Penciller
Jesus Merino, Inker

The only reason I wanted to write about this book is because when I picked it up and read through it today I spent the entire time wondering what the hell was going on. The last thing I remembered in Green Lantern was some giant shark and aliens that spoke German. Now Ollie and Mongul are there and there are some strange plants on everybody’s chest. Then the dream sequences start and things get really weird. My willingness to stick through this disorientation says two things to me. First, Geoff Jophns must be firing on all cylinders to be able to draw me in and keep me going through something like that. Kudos to you Geoff. Second, I think it says something about this book that I was disoriented and did not think anything of it, but I am not sure what it says. Anyways, I finished the book and found it to be “Eh” then as I was putting the rest of this week’s books into my unread pile I found that I had not read the last issue of Green Lantern. Silly me.


Hellboy: Makoma #1 (of 2)
Mike Mignola, Writer
Mike Mignola & Richard Corben, Art

The Right Hand of Doom goes BONK. This is an important lesson and one that I really appreciate Mr. Mignola for sharing with us. BONK. BONK. BONK. There is something cathartic about saying BONK. Perhaps this is why I was a big fan of Radek Bonk when he played in the IHL. Go ahead. Say it. Out loud. You know you want to. BONK. BONK. BONK. Fun, isn’t it?

Seriously, I missed the boat on Hellboy. Back when it first came out I was not really looking at anything Dark Horse was putting out. I heard the name bandied about and I would occasionally see an issue of Hellboy or B.P.R.D. at the LCS, but it never struck me as something I would be in to. Boy was I wrong. I have fallen in love with Mignola’s writing and grown to appreciate his artwork. His subject matter is what drew me into the comics, being a big fan of myth and folklore my self, however his sense of humor is what keeps me at the table. Apparently there has been a big to do about Mignola passing off the art duties to Richard Corben for the two issues of this series, however I don’t see what the problem is. Corben’s art compliments Mignola’s very well, and even more so for this story. All in all I wish this series was going to go on for more than 2 issues.


Powers #16
Brian Michael Bendis, Writer
Mike Avon Oeming, Art

Gah. In the last several issue of Powers Bendis has decided to frame the story with a comic doing a stand-up routine that is loosely tied into the plot. In this case it was about aliens. Now, while this allows Bendis to flaunt his twisted sense of humor, which I totally approve of, it seems like a waste of three pages that could be put to better use. Bendis, you’re a damn fine storyteller when you want to be so stop screwing around and tell me a story, even if it is as bizarre as the one you are currently telling in Powers. I buy your books for the story, not the art, and certainly not because they are action packed.


Thunderbolt Jaxon #1 (of 5)
Dave Gibbons, Writer
John Higgins, Art

This is an extension of the Albion project wherein Alan Moore and some of his crew are digging up old British superheroes and revamping them for the modern reader. I have to admit that while I am reading the Albion miniseries, I am not sure what is going on over there, and I was worried there might be the same thing going on with Thunderbolt Jaxon. That is not the case at all. In contrast to the obfuscatory storytelling in Albion, the story in Thunderbolt Jaxon is fairly straight forward. A young boy stumbles across an artifact, a belt, which when he dons it imbues him with the spirit of a Saxon god or hero. Pretty classic stuff. I look forward to what else this series has in store for me.

The rest:
  • Conan and the Demons of Khitai #4 (of 4)
    • Akira Yoshida, Writer
    • Paul Lee, Art
  • Detective Comics #816
    • Shane McCarthy, Writer
    • Cliff Chiang, Art
  • Infinite Crisis Special: Rann-Thanagar War #1
    • Dave Gibbons, Writer
    • Ivan Reis & Joe Prado, Pencillers
    • Marc Campos, Oclair Albert, and Michael Bair, Inkers
  • JSA Classified #8
    • Peter J. Tomasi, Writer
    • Don Kramer, Penciller
    • Keith Champagne, Inker
  • Outsiders #33
    • Jen van Meter, Writer
    • Dietrich Smith, Penciller
    • Art Thibert & Steve Bird, Inkers
  • Red Sonja #5
    • Michael Avon Oeming with Mike Carey, Writers
    • Mel Rubi, Art
  • Sable & Fortune #2 (of 4)
    • Brenden Cahill, Writer
    • John M. Burns, Art
  • Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer #3 (of 4)
    • Grant Morrison, Writer
    • Yanick Paquette, Penciller
    • Serge Lapointe, Inker
  • Supreme Power: Nighthawk #6 (of 6)
    • Daniel Way, Writer
    • Steve Dillon, Art
  • Team Zero #3 (of 6)
    • Chuck Dixon, Writer
    • Doug Mahnke, Penciller
    • Sandra Hope, Inker
  • Uncanny X-Men #469
    • Chris Claremont, Writer
    • Billy Tan, Penciller
    • Jon Sibal, Inker
  • X-Men: The End Book 3 – Men & X-Men #2
    • Chris Claremont, Writer
    • Sean Chen, Penciller
    • Sandu Florea, Inker
And because Dave Campbell made me:
  • The Legion #’s 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21, 25, 26, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37
Sorry there wern't more links. Too lazy/busy trying to get packed for moving. I promise to try and do better next week.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Breaking News - 02-03-06


Friday, February 3rd - New York

At a surprise press conference today the UN announced that due to voting irregularities in the House majority leader elections held in the United States House of Representatives on Thursday, they would be deploying observers for future votes held in closed session by the House members of the Republican Party. The reported irregularities center on the allegation, as reported by Ed Henry of CNN, that in the initial round of balloting there were more votes cast than there were members present to cast them. Initial blame fell on Canadian agents, the balloting issues coming so close on the heels of the recent news story in which it was revealed that truckloads of ballots were being smuggled across the border. An anonymous source on Capitol Hill claims that the issue was resolved by ejecting the representatives Florida, pointing out that the second round of balloting, without Florida, came off without a hitch. In response to a pointed question about the necessity of the move Dr. Michael Hunt of the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division said, “Look, Americans may labor under the misguided notion that they invented democracy, and your Jeffersonian democracy may have worked for the past 200-some-odd years, however it has become readily apparent that your system needs some oversight.”

Other stories we are following for you:

Please Note: To the best of the author's knowledge none of this is true, but it is damn funny.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Summoning! A Summoning!

Today while I was playing the Coke Machine Slot Machine game, in which I put money in the Coke machine, press a button, and wonder what will come out, I noticed the machine was displaying lines of garbage across the screen where it tells you the fate of your request (VEND is good, anything else is bad). The gibberish was:

CHAR

ACCE

BUAL

SELS

DOOR


I was mesmerized by this collection of letters and spent a few minutes standing before the coke machine muttering them under my breath. I was trying to make sense of them, however I am worried that I may have accidentally summoned the mighty Cokethulhu. If any of you see an elder soda god wreaking havoc, I apologize.

Congratulations

To Abram! His poli-blog, Casual Soapbox, was recently added to the “Best of Texas Left” on the Burnt Orange Report, which is the premier liberal blog based in Texas. Abram’s blog is one of the few political commentary sites I read, and about the only poli-blog on which I feel comfortable commenting. Clearly I need to work a little harder to drag down the level of discourse over there.

All joking aside Abram, congratulations on your coup d’blog.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Lancelot Links

I LOVE monkeys. There is no fighting it. Here are some monkey related things which I felt the need to share with you:
  • The Daily Monkey - A daily shot of simian pleasure.
  • Monkeyphonecall.com – Once again, someone has beat me to the punch with a nauseatingly brilliant business plan. $10-a-pop phone calls from simulated monkeys. What could be better?
  • Monkey Critic – How about a monkey reviewing movies, TV shows, and just about everything else? Yeah, that could be better than a monkey phone call.
  • MonkeyWatch – All the monkey news from around the monkey world. I like to think of it as CNN (Chimp News Network.)
  • Ape-O-Naut – A website dedicated to the royal order of the Ape-O-Naut which includes a list of famous monkeys.
  • Bush or Chimp – A website which asks the question, “Is King Geordi II, the leader of the free (well somewhat cheap) world, actually a chimp?” This website draws no conclusions, but does present an almost overwhelming body of photographic evidence.
  • Monkey Day – A page promoting the National Monkey Day phenomenon which includes a link to the Monkeys In the News blog.
  • Seriousmonkey – Another monkey news website. You know you need more monkey news.
In closing I would like to say that Lancelot Links is a damn funny title for this post.

I Want My Damn Owl!

ARGH! I found a pretty funny quiz over at Quizilla (I originally saw it here) that tells you which one of the Greek gods you are most like. My result was Athena with the following text (my comments are in parenthesis):
You are like the Greek God Athena, of Education. You're seen as sophisticated (uh-huh), smart (of course), and a really down to earth person (I can see it). Easy to get along with (fair enough), easy to understand (somehow I think not) - with great prospects (but mediocre tracts of land). You do well in what you enjoy (I am a hella good eater), and often excel in most things academic (except getting the paste code from Quizilla to properly format in my blog).
I like to think of myself as Athena Polias because of how urban I am, yo.

Back in high school I took a couple of years of Latin and participated in the JCL competitions in the Houston area. I was not to shabby at the history and mythology sections, so I thought this quiz would be fun.

Oh yes, you may begin worshipping me now.