February 27, 2007

Headline of the Day

Killer kite festival battle for Pakistan's soul

I can't decide what the most amazing part of this story is:

(1) that 14 people died at a kite-flying festival,
(2) that this is apparently typical and expected,
(3) that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf believes that "enlightened moderation" includes supporting a festival that kills a dozen-plus people a year, or
(4) that Islamic fundamentalists, the same people who are totally cool with suicide bombers, are opposed to the kite-flying festival on humantiarian grounds.

What a world we live in.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 02:24 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 26, 2007

Now That's What I Call Public Service!

As hard as it may be to believe, I do get cranky with my coworkers from time to time. Sadly, the rules of polite office discourse limit my flexibility in responding to them as I'd like to, and since my boss nixed the idea of keeping a flamethrower under my desk, pretty much the only weapon I have at my disposal is the Death Glare.

Over the weekend, though, I was reading a fine book, One-Night Stands with American History, which is chock-full of amusing anecdotes about our nation's past. Two entries caught my eye, each having to do with public officials communicating with constituents. These two anecdotes have inspired me, and will henceforth serve as the basis of my communications with co-workers.

The first dates back to 1873, when a Colorado man named Alfred Packer ate five of his companions while trapped during a blizzard. This act was horrific in itself, but worse yet (in the eyes of some) all the victims were, coincidentally, Democrats. One of those disturbed by the partisan nature of the crime was the judge, M.B. Gerry. Judge Gerry delivered Packer's sentence thusly:

Stand up, you man-eating son-of-a-bitch, and receive your sentence! There were seven Democrats in Hinsdale County, but you, you voracious, man-eating son-of-a-bitch, you ate five of them. I sentence you to be hanged by the neck until you're dead, dead, dead, as a warning against reducing the Democratic population of this state.

It's hard to pick out a favorite part of this quote - it's a delightfully furious rage that would put Bob Knight to shame - but suggesting to someone that he or she "be hanged by the neck until you're dead, dead, dead" has a certain appeal.

The second anecdote dates from 1935, and was cited in John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage. This is a quote from California Congressman John Steven McGroarty, like Judge Gerry a Democrat, who responded to a letter from a constituent as follows:

One of the countless drawbacks of being in Congress is that I am compelled to receive impertinent letters from a jackass like you in which you say I promised to have the Sierra Madre mountains reforested and I have been in Congress two months and haven't done it. Will you please take two running jumps and go to hell.

Perhaps amazingly, McGroarty was re-elected to Congress the following year, though after two terms he decided he'd had enough and did not run for re-election in 1938.

Not infrequently, I feel the urge to tell someone to go to hell. I feel immensely better than, in the future, I can quote a U.S. Congressman when doing so.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 08:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 24, 2007

Amateur Comic Review: Week of 2.21.2007

Sweet Jesus, this was a big week.

52 Week #42
This book is done picking up steam – it now seems to be hurtling towards conclusion. This may well be the strongest issue yet, featuring the best artist yet seen on this project; the talented veteran Darick Robertson. Other than the opening three pages focusing on Renee Montoya (three pages that seem to confirm her destiny, mind you), this issue is given over to the conclusion to the Ralph Dibney – Fate's Helmet story, and does so with a twist. This issue really cooks, and presents Ralph in the best light possible. The ending is a bit of a downer, but one in keeping with the overall arc.

The Spirit #3
Another month, another spectacular issue by Darwyn Cooke. Here the Spirit hears a name from his past and flashes back to his origin. Cook switches to a slightly sketchier style for the flashback, and uses the voices of several different characters to tell several elements of the same story. Letterer Jared Fletcher switches fonts for each, and the overall effect is excellent; both readable and dramatic. Since the beginning, this series has been a masterful mix of modern and classic. This is the best book DC puts out, and there isn't much that comes close.

Superman #659
Well, this is a bit of a mess. This was supposed to be #660, with a Krypto the Superdog story slated for #659. That issue was pulled, pushing up this rather muddled Superman-as-Angel tale. It's told as a series of flashbacks as Superman is ruminating on what Arion told him about his possible demise – and that of the entire world – in the previous two-parter. That is actually the first leg of an extended and rather ambitious storyline that shows real promise. This, however, is just a classic fill-in issue. Mediocre art, forgettable plot and a rather unappealing sub-plot. The best thing this issue has going is the striking cover art.

Robin #159
Each month since Adam Beechen took over, Robin has delivered a straightforward, enjoyable superhero story. His Tim Drake has been dead-on, a far cry from the Robin from Teen Titans. Good news, since Beechen is taking over that title in a few months. Here we get Tim and Zoanne's first date, with an unexpected visit from Batman. Here Batman is a far more human character than you see in most DC books, especially in Grant Morrison's over-the-top Batman.

Birds of Prey #103
This issue – this storyline really – has been all split personality. We have the good BoP stuff like Barbara meeting her match in the very cool but very poorly named Spy Smasher. We also have a nicely twisting mob caper, an unexpected double-cross and a couple of great Gail Simone lines (“Look, I just threw a car at the last guy who called me fat. Just a reminder”). So why doesn't it work? Because the big change in this book, going from a set team (family really) to this hey-let's-draft-anybody-with-boobs setup is really misfiring. Barda and Judomaster? Really? This book is currently overstuffed, and that is drowning out what's likable about it.

Wonder Woman #4
Yeah, who would have thought that Civil War wouldn't be the most delayed book out this week? This new Wonder Woman title is a bit of a disaster for DC, as TV writer Allan Heinberg has been preposterously behind schedule. While this is part four of “Who is Wonder Woman?”, part five won't becoming out until after the next story arc, this one written by novelist Jodi Picoult. This issue actually ends on a bit of cliffhanger, as Diana is surrounded by her entire rogues gallery. We'll be seeing part five of this storyline right after Damon Lindelof turns in a Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine script.

What sucks about this is that Heinberg has actually done a pretty nice job with this title. He has a real handle on Diana, and his revamp of her villains was both necessary and effective. While he misses the mark completely with Donna Troy – she's not a novice at this, you know – Heinberg does well by the current Wonder Girl and the addition of Nemesis gives Diana a needed foil. Helping the cause are Terry and Rachel Dodson, doing some of the best work of their careers. It's a shame this book doesn't come out more often. We'll see how it goes with the new team.

Shadowpact #10
Finally this title shows some life again. Following the excellent Day of Vengeance mini I was really excited about this title. The first nine issues of this series made me question exactly why that was. Except for some good lines from the Detective Chimp and a interesting work around 52, Shadowpact the ongoing has been middling at-best. The previous issue showed some signs of life, and this builds upon that. Most importantly, the title is entertaining again, contrasting the team's anguish over Nightmaster's injury with the odd innocence of Laura Fell.

Ion #11
I think I'm just waiting for this maxi-series to end. Ion has been more interesting than entertaining, revealing much of the big secret regarding 52. Here we don't even get that much, just an on-and-off fight scene with Grayven, who sports a world-class mullet. Add the rather uninteresting sub-plot about Kyle's mom and wasted guest appearances from a trio of Lanterns, and there just isn't much here. The one highlight is Kyle's rather honest reaction to the return of Donna Troy. Donna, unlike in Wonder Woman seems to know what she's doing.

The Brave and the Bold #1
Reviving DC's seminal team-up title was a nice move, using superstar creators Mark Waid and George Perez to do so even better. This first issue teams Batman (appropriate, since the original title was always “Batman and...) and Hal Jordan. The characterization is nice and easy, unlike the current JLA title, where Bats doesn't trust Hal at all. They follow the clues to Las Vegas, get off some good lines and some great Bruce Wayne scenes and then end up heading for the stars. This is a defiantly old-school title, one that could have been released in 1967, 1987 or now. If that excites you, go for it.

Invincible #39
The line above the title here is “Probably the most enjoyable superhero comic in the universe” and that is hard to argue. This month our heroes blast off for Mars, trying to stop the massing Sequid/Martian army. Mark and Eve deal with the fall-out from the end of last issue, Shapesmith comes clean, and the Lizard League plots a return. Throw in the continuation of the note-perfect (if slightly weird) coupling of Robot and Monster Girl and you have a comic that lives up to billing.

Rex Mundi #4
A bit of a down issue for this deeply complex and involving alternate world comic. Despite the striking cover image the Duke of Lorraine is barely in this issue, as it concentrates on Julian, Gen and a primer on magic. Throw in a fight scene and the return of the Man in White, and it just seems a little light. Now, one must remember that a “light” issue of Rex Mundi contains about a thousand times more information than your average comic. There is one nice reveal here and much is being set up for the future. Juan Ferreyra's art continues to be a revelation. His painted style fits this book perfectly. The newspaper was noticeably absent.

Really, that about says it right there. This book needs a newspaper to explain itself. Not for everybody, but for those with a historical bent this is the comic to read.

She-Hulk #16
At this point I'm almost ashamed to admit I ignored this book for so long. Continuing Jen's stay with SHIELD, this issue finds her fighting the Wendigo deep in the Canadian Rockies. And you know what that means right? Yep, a Wolverine guest star. Here it actually works to very good effect, along with a smattering of ex-Alpha Flight members. Dan Slott is criminally underused by Marvel, and his dialougue is among the best in comics. This manages to combine the silly and self-referential along with a real heart. Slott's take on She-Hulk, showing both her confidence and deep underlying desperation will eventually be remembered along with Peter David's reinterpretation of her cousin.

Oh, and any book that uses the line, “First rule of the Fastball Special: You don't talk about the Fastball Special” and gets away with it is worth owning.

The Immortal Iron Fist # 3
Every few years both DC and Marvel will go through a spasm of attempting to reintroduce a series of '70's characters. Marvel, with revamps of Heroes for Hire, She-Hulk, Ghost Rider the spectacular Brian K. Vaughn Dr. Strange mini and this series, is currently hip-deep. Throw in upcoming versions of The Champions and Nova and it is 1978 all over again. The thing is, disregarding Heroes and GR, these comprise some of Marvel's best books. We live in a world where She-Hulk and Iron Fist are about a hundred times better than Amazing Spider-Man and Iron Man and that just isn't right.

You wouldn't expect a book with no fewer than six creators cover billed (Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, David Aja, Travel Foreman, Derek Fridolfs and Russ Heath) to work this well but it does. Brubaker and Fraction are reinventing Iron Fist, adding a historical bent as well as tying in to the current Marvel Universe. Aja's moody artwork is fantastic here, and the additional artists handle the historical stuff. Foreman and Fridolfs use a hallucinatory bent to show the 1860 Iron Fist attempting to stop British Imperialists, and Heath – one of the masters of the war comic – catches up with the previously seen WWI Iron Fist. Everything works here, and while this reads well in pamphlet form, “The Last Iron Fist Story” will be a terrific trade in a few months.

The New Avengers: Illuminati #2
This series continues to clunk along. Illuminati is Brian Michael Bendis and Brian Reed's attempt to ret-con the entirety of Marvel's history to show that six guys (Tony Stark, Stephen Strange, Charles Xavier, Black Bolt, Reed Richards and Namor) have basically been running the show from behind curtain #3. The first issue didn't work all that well, but was at least entertaining as an extended fight scene. This issue, showing Reed's quest to recover the Infinity Gems just sucks. It's slow, dull and misses the mark completely. To top it off, the most ludicrous scene in comics this week happens here. And remember, this is the week Civil War #7 finally shipped. Anyway, Reed has the Infinity Gauntlet; the Watcher arrives and does a mind-blowingly stupid “Say it ain't so, Joe” routine with him.

Just awful. Jim Cheung's art is sure pretty though.

Punisher War Journal #4
I hate the Punisher, I'll just get this out of the way. I bought this solely on word-of-mouth and a liking for Matt Fractions rather odd take on superheroes. And this is terrific. A supervillain funeral for the Stilt-Man, a couple of hero cameos and a dozen excellent moments. A drunken Princess Python calling Spidey “Peter Shhpidermun”, the Gibbon continually explaining what a Gibbon is (“A Gibbon is sort of like a monkey”), the Will O'the Wisp being held at the door, a poorly programmed Doombot... it's just classic. It hearkens back to the heyday of the Giffen/DeMatties run of Justice League International, where they featured the Darkside Bar, where the supervillains talked shop, got drunk and played cards.

And then the Punisher kills everybody. Reminds me why I hate the Punisher.
Cable and Deadpool #37
This title is just Deadpool for the time being, so Fabien Nicieza can figure out just what the hell they're doing to Cable over in Uncanny X-Men. Which is okay, because a Deadpool solo book is always good for a laugh. Weirdly enough, just like Punisher War Journal, this takes place in a supervillain bar. A bar for really lousy supervillains. Infinity TAP? Slough? Foot of Doom? Did Nicieza just make those up? Anyway, Deadpool gets shrunk down to Ant-Man size, flushed down a urinal and eventually kicks everybody's ass. It's just dumb fun, and isn't that what comics are about?

Civil War #7
I just can't put it off any longer can I? This is the Big Deal this week, and Big Deal is a pretty apt description. After seven issues spread over 10 months, innumerable spin-offs and crossovers, Civil War just sputtered to a stop. Since this project was announced, Marvel would tell anyone who would listen that this was a moral question, nothing but ambiguity and shades of gray. That lasted about five minutes. First they put Captain America as the lead of the resistance. Then they turned Tony Stark into Mr. Junior Fascist leading the other. Secret prisons, supervilliains sent to hunt old friends, the cloned Thor. Is there any question who the fanboys were supposed to root for? A more subtle writer (and company) could have actually made this an involving story. Hell, the idea is brilliant, but after a good couple issues it went all to hell. After all this, here in the final issue Millar STILL doesn't seem to know the characters at all. I question if he's ever even read an issue of Fantastic Four. I wonder why Marvel let him get away with writing his Ultimate Captain America instead of the accepted MU version. I wonder why Black Panther would decide that teleporting everyone a hundred feet in the air over a city block was his best move. I wonder why Bishop, a mutant who comes from a future where the government hunted down mutants would side with.... the guys who hunt down superheroes. Why wasn't Iron Man ready for the Vision phasing through him. Haven't they fought before, you know, back when Vision was created by Ultron? Most of all, why would Captain America decide the price was too high – not while standing over the body of his dead friend – after a couple buildings came down in a city that's been destroyed approximately 670 times before?

Now, I would like to mention there are some nice moments here. Steve McNiven's spectacular art matched with Morry Hollowell's jump-off-the-page colors. Spider-Man kicking his way through five opponents in front of an awestruck Reed Richards. Hercules punching the head of the Clone Thor clean off. Sue Storm flattening the Taskmaster. Namor and his men coming to the rescue. This is what Mark Millar does as well as anybody: big, dumb, Michael Bay-on-paper fun. The problem is that he already has a book for that. It's called the Ultimates and it comes out about once every six months. This book, which calls on decades of Marvel history, is supposed to be more than that, and it fails miserably.

You know what's really insane? After all this mess, I'm genuinely excited about what happens next. The order in the Marvel Universe has changed. Now, will this be like DC's One Year Later, where they mentioned it a couple times and then forgot about the whole thing? Or will this be a real sea change?

Best of the Week: The Spirit #3 A lot of contenders like She-Hulk, Invincible, Robin and Immortal Iron Fist, but this might be an automatic when The Spirit comes out.

Posted by Frinklin at 08:20 PM | Comments (43) | TrackBack

February 23, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

Tom Vilsack, we hardly knew ye. This certainly makes the Iowa caucus more interesting.

I saw Vilsack (via the magic of - what else? - C-SPAN) speak at a DNC meeting in Washington a few weeks back. He led off his speech by talking about the fact that he was adopted and never knew his birth parents, and that his adoptive mother had struggled with substance abuse. All of which would have been great... if Vilsack was a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show. For him to start a speech to candidate-shopping party regulars with that... well, it seemed odd. Vilsack seems like a very nice man, but there was no realistic way for him to win the nomination, save possibly a plane carrying Hillary, Obama, Edwards, Richardson, and Dodd crashing... on top of a bus carrying Al Gore, Wesley Clark, Evan Bayh, and Mark Warner. Good luck with your post-candidate career, Mr. Vilsack.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 10:08 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 22, 2007

Hello, Old Friend

He's alive! He's ALIVE!

At the suggestion of loyal reader Papa Shaft, I decided to track down an old friend and former Mediocre Fred contributor, Uncle Millie. Papa wanted to know Uncle Millie's opinion on the conundrum I presented in my Valentine's Day post, about why so many people in relationships seem to be unhappy. And hearing Millie's name reminded me that I hadn't heard from the old rogue in almost two years. And I had so many questions to ask him. What has he been up to all this time? How is Aunt Beatrice? Are they still together? Is he ever going to pay back the 500 bucks I lent him? My curiosity was piqued, and I had to track him down.

Unfortunately, that's much easier said than done. As loyal readers of his column may remember, Uncle Millie tends to wander wherever the spirit moves him, and he rarely if ever bothers to leave a forwarding address. (Actually, considering the number of creditors, ex-wives, and angry husbands who may be looking for him at any given moment, he's probably got the right idea.) My attempts to locate him produced a pile of confused, alcohol-soaked, and often conflicting tips from his drinking buddies, of whom there are many. A number of these tips pointed in the general direction of Mexico, though, and after a few false starts, I finally tracked down a relatively reliable eyewitness, who had seen him in Guadalajara. In jail.

As it turned out, he'd managed to talk his way out of jail, and had taken up residence (of a sort) in a cantina on the outskirts of Guadalajara. We talked over a rather dubious phone connection, so the transcript that follows is approximate, my best guess at what was said through the telephone static and Uncle Millie's drunken slurred speech, which was more pronounced than I remembered.

MF: Uncle Millie? Is this really you?

UM: Officer, I deny the charges. I was in home in bed at the time.

MF: Millie-

UM: Okay, that isn't true. I don't even have a bed anymore. But it was a crime of passion! Who can deny the power of true love? He had it coming, I swear!

MF: Millie-

UM: All right, so it was a drunken brawl. But you can't make me go back to prison! Have a heart, man! I have twelve or thirteen very special children who rely on me for-

MF: Millie, it's me. Mediocre Fred. Remember me?

UM: Wha-? Oh, yes! Of course I remember you, lad. How could I forget that night we spent drinking Manhattans in Philadelphia?

MF: Millie, that wasn't me.

UM: No? Oh, that's right. You and I spent the night on that dock in Baltimore draining that bottle of Thunderbird.

MF: No.

UM: No? Then we did - beers in Boston?

MF: No.

UM: Sherries in Chicago?

MF: No.

UM: Whiskey in Washington?

MF: No, Uncle Millie. I used to be your boss. Remember? You used to write a romantic advice column for my blog.

UM: Advi- Oh, yes, yes, I remember now. You'll have to forgive me, lad. The old mind isn't quite as sharp as it used to be. Time dims the memory a tad. But I recall now know. That must have been, what, fifteen or twenty years ago?

MF: Two years ago.

UM: Really? Aye, well, lad, you must understand that when you live as I do, every year feels like a decade.

MF: I believe it. So when did you go down to Mexico?

UM: A few months ago, I believe. I felt that a change of scenery would do me good, lad.

MF: Isn't your whole life one long scenery change?

UM: Yes, well, in this particular instance I had a particularly good reason to desire a change of scenery. Two good reasons, in fact. Two rather large gentlemen who wished to extract some money from me for-

MF: Ah, I see. So what are you doing with yourself in Mexico?

UM: Holding court, so to speak. Much as I used to do in my column. There are a great many young lads here who can benefit from my hard-won wisdom.

MF: Wait. Do you speak Spanish?

UM: Not really, no.

MF: So how do they understand what you're saying?

UM: The communications barrier was a bit of a hurdle at first, I'll admit. But the language of the heart is universal.

MF: That's a sweet thought.

UM: As is the language of the bottle, lad. Once we're sufficiently lubricated, we all begin to sound the same anyhow.

MF: And where is Aunt Beatrice?

UM: Aye, lad, 'tis a tragedy, that. I lost her.

MF: You did? Sorry to hear that. What happened? Did she catch you in bed with her sister again?

UM: No, lad, we did not break up. I lost her.

MF: You mean - she died? My God. When did this happen? Why didn't I hear about it?

UM: No, no, lad. She's not dead. I lost her. At the Wal-Mart.

MF: You lost her? In the Wal-Mart? How is that possible?

UM: Well, lad, those Wal-Marts are fairly large, you know. She left me to locate the canned peas, I became a bit disoriented, and the next thing I knew, it was closing time and she was gone. I haven't seen her since.

MF: This must be a joke. Are you joking?

UM: Alas, no. I do miss her sometimes.

MF: The bed feels a little empty without her?

UM: Are you kidding? I wouldn't get caught short that way. A gentleman such as myself never does without. But Beatrice was a fine companion, and I am sorry to be without her company. Of all my wives, she's the one I miss the most.

MF: That's sweet.

UM: Fortunately, I have my new best friend to keep me company.

MF: What's her name? Trixie? Shelly?

UM: Jose Cuervo!

MF: Ah. Well, the reason I called is to get you to weigh in on a matter of romance.

UM: Ah, well, you came to the right place, lad! I am the master of love. So what's got you down, lad? Hopelessly in love with a young lass?

MF: No, that's not the problem.

UM: Ah, I get it. Haven't been laid in a while?

MF: No, that's not-

UM: Are you having trouble rising to the occasion, lad? It's all right, you call tell Uncle Millie. There is no shame in that, no matter what your lady friend tells you.

MF: Millie, I have no "lady friend."

UM: Oh. Ohhhh, I see. So you're in love with another lad, then?

MF: What?!

UM: Now, Uncle Millie has no experience in this arena, to be sure, but there is no shame in loving other lads.

MF: Millie, I-

UM: It must be relief to finally emerge from the closet. To be frank, lad, I'd always suspected-

MF: Millie! This question is not about me.

UM: Really. Well, as you would have it, then. So, you have a "friend" who happens to love other lads, then?

MF: No! I'm not gay, Millie. Will you shut up and let me ask my question?

UM: Certainly. My apologies, lad. I'll take this moment to freshen my drink. Bartender! Uno drinko, por favor!

MF: "Drinko"?

UM: I have learned a smattering of Spanish, lad. Enough to take care of my needs.

MF: But you- never mind. Here is the question: Why does it seem that so many people in relationships are unhappy with them? Whenever I talk to my friends about relationships, they imply that I'm better off single. And yet they don't leave these relationships they claim to be unhappy with. What gives?

UM: Ah, well, lad, that's an age-old query. Much of this can be ascribed to the thrill of the chase. Men are like lions roaming the African countryside, lying in the weeds and waiting for a zebra or a gazelle to wander by. When it does, the lion pounces, devours, and moves on.

MF: You're not saying we want to eat the women we date, are you?

UM: No, no, lad, you miss my point. My point it that once a lion identifies a nice tasty zebra, it doesn't hang around the zebra, listening to her endless prattling about personal problems and whether she looks fat in those pants. No, it's a quick strike and move on. That's what men are built for. It's encoded in our genes, lad.

MF: But my female friends have the same relationship blues. What about them?

UM: Well, the lure of the upgrade can be powerful for lads and lasses alike. Let me ask you something, lad: when you're in the throes of first love with a lass, doesn't it seem as though other women are more attracted to you, more flirtatious with you?

MF: Well, yes.

UM: Of course. And why is that? Because we are reborn in love. We improve ourselves. We dress better, walk taller, laugh louder, brush our teeth occasionally. Because we wish to impress the lass we love. And in doing so, we make ourselves more attractive to all women, not just the object of our desire at the moment.

MF: Hey, that's a good point.

UM: Also, when we're in a relationship, that makes us more desirable. Forbidden fruit and all that. If you're in a relationship with a lass, it's like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. You're certified dateable. If you're without a woman, prospective dates will wonder why. They'll wonder what's wrong with you. Are you deficient in the bedroom department? Are you a serial killer? Is your hygiene questionable? Are you, ahem, batting for the other team?

MF: All right, enough of that.

UM: This is why a gentleman who wishes to be successful in romance will never allow himself to be caught short without a ladyfriend. My romantic career is a shining example of this. Having one lass on your arm is an important requirement for acquiring additional lasses. A gentleman should always keep a stable of lasses ready and waiting.

MF: I'm not sure how this answers my question.

UM: Isn't it obvious? No one is satisfied with merely one partner! When you're a young lad, just starting out in life, you may want a Cadillac, but you can't afford one. So you settle for a Chevrolet. But as you get older and move up in the world, are you going to stick with Chevrolets? Of course not! You trade up.

MF: Okay, but I don't-

UM: And we're all looking to trade up. The people driving Chevrolets want to drive Oldsmobiles, the Oldsmobile drivers want Buicks, the Buick drivers want Cadillacs. And the Cadillac drivers want two Cadillacs!

MF: They don't make Oldsmobiles any more, you know.

UM: No matter. My point is that only someone dull and unimaginative settles for what's already in front of him. Partners are like tires: they should be rotated every 5,000 miles.

MF: I have no idea what that means. But I get the sense that your sense of love is rather... commercial.

UM: Aye, lad, there are similarities between romance and business.

MF: And I thought you were Mr. Poetry.

UM: Aye, lad, poetry runs through my veins. Indeed, the poets of my homeland have inspired me much over the years.

MF: Homeland? I thought you were from Detroit.

UM: My ancestral homeland, lad, the Auld Sod. And indeed, poetry has its place in romance. In particular, it's a fine tool to convince reluctant lasses to share your bed. The college-educated ones, in particular, really respond to it.

MF: How charming.

UM: But consider this, lad: Why are poets always writing long, whiny odes to their desired lasses? Because they weren't out sleeping with them! Those who can, do. Those who can't, write about it.

MF: An interesting statement from a man who used to write romantic advice for a living.

UM: No matter. My point is that I'm a doer! Businessmen are men of action, and so am I.

MF: Well, thanks for answering my question. I think.

UM: Think nothing of it, lad. Always glad to be of service. And say, if you happen to hear from Aunt Beatrice, do you think you could pass along my contact information? I'd very much like to hear from her again.

MF: Sure, but what contact information? If history is any indication, you'll be gone again in a week.

UM: Yes, well, at the present moment in time, it seems that the local authorities are observing me rather closely, so I think I'll be remaining where I am for a while.

MF: All right. Well, it was great to talk to you again, Uncle Millie.

UM: The same in reverse, lad.

MF: By the way, about that 500 dollars you owe me-

UM: What? Um- No habla the English, senor. No comprendo "500 dollars."

MF: Millie, I know it's you.

UM: Uh oh, static on the line. Can't hear you, I'm afraid.

MF: Millie, the line's perfectly clear-

UM: I must away. Happy hunting!

So there you have it. I hope you're happy, Papa. As for me? I'm still out 500 bucks.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 12:18 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 20, 2007

When I could have very well gotten my ass kicked

Traffic was a nightmare tonight. I made a tactical error and took the express bus home tonight instead of the train. If I take the train I know when I get home. It arrives precisely at 6:40. The express bus is a bit of a crapshoot. I've gotten to the station (same place as the train) as early as 6:10 and as late as 7:00. It all depends on the traffic between Seattle and Tacoma. I took the chance today since I needed the extra time to clean the house up a bit before the Missus came home. She's been out of town. Did I forget to mention that?

Anyway, the traffic tonight was awful; as bad as I've ever seen. It was after 7:00 before we even got to the outskirts of Tacoma. We finally get closer to downtown and we begin to see police everywhere. Flashing lights off in this direction, closed lane to that direction, uniformed cops directing traffic. People started murmuring on the bus. This must be some horrible accident, or maybe a crime scene.

No, it was something much worse.


Yeah, these inexplicably popular masters of middle-brow white-guy rawk headlined a concert at the Tacoma Dome tonight, causing the traffic crunch. Unfortunately for me, the train station, bus depot and the dome are all in the same place. Hence the name Tacoma Dome Station. The parking garage that I use as a commuter was switched over for the concert goers, so I had to wade my way through them just to get to my car. After being on that damned bus for over two hours, I was tired and ticked off. All I wanted to do was get home, feed the dogs and then rush to the airport to pick Ensie up.

“DUDE! Nickleback fuckin' rules! WHOOOOOO!”

He was about 20, my height, a tad overweight, possessing of a thin, poorly shaved goatee. He was obviously excited and smelled of cheap beer and marijuana. I don't think he was purposefully shouting at me, but he was right in front of me and the effect was him screaming about how much Nickleback ruled right to my face. I stopped, and against my better judgment, I had to disagree.

“No”, I said “Nickleback sucks. Really sucks.”

I had killed whatever good buzz this fellow had. His eyes hardened and he came closer to me.

“Dude?! What the fuck?”

At this point I realized I should have kept my rock-snob mouth shut. It seemed I was about to get my ass kicked by a drunken Nickleback fan in parking garage. Luckily for all concerned, his friend grabbed him by the shoulder and urged him to continue. I later found that the concert began at 7:30, meaning my friend was already late. Don't want to miss the suck-ass opening act.

In case you were wondering, a Nickleback concert may very well be the whitest place on Earth.

Posted by Frinklin at 11:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 19, 2007

Well, this should solve that "losing in the playoffs" problem

Say what you will about Marty Schottenheimer, but at least he got to the playoffs. The Chargers have hired Norv Turner to replace him. Turner, in his third go-round as a head man, has a lifetime record 24 games under .500 and one playoff appearance in nine seasons as a head coach.

To say this is a bad move is a serious understatement. Turner is a great offensive coordinator and reportedly one of the nicest men in football. He's also a lousy head coach, and a team with Super Bowl aspirations has to do better than this.

Posted by Frinklin at 10:08 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 17, 2007

Amateur Comic Review: Week of 2.14.2007

Two in a row, whoah...

52 Week #41
After the smackdownerrific events of last week, 52 downshifts and concentrates on character bits and catching up on a couple storylines. Adam Strange and Starfire are still trying to get home. The space opera lost me about 10 minutes after it started, but this works marginally better. Meanwhile over in Nanda Parabat Renee deals with Charlie's death, meets a Very Important Guest-Star, and seems to make up her mind about becoming the Question. I've never been a fan of that idea, but it makes sense here. Throw in some classic Ralph Dibney detective work and a heartfelt confession from Adam Strange and you have one of the better issues of this series.

Batman #663
Um, okay.
This is not actually a comic book. This issue is an extended prose piece by Grant Morrison featuring some lovely paintings from John Van Fleet. Morrison's prose is so preposterously overheated one has to assume it's part of the joke. If it isn't... well, don't quit your day job. There are some neat bits here -a nice bit of detective work, a great exchange at the end between Batman and the Joker- but it doesn't tie together. The self-indulgence is palpable, and contrasted with the tight, whip-smart Batman stories that Paul Dini writes over in Detective, it just seems unnecessary.

Justice Society of America #3
The General Glory storyline was one of the last of the Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis run on Justice League America. It was the duo at their goofiest: a Captain America parody featuring magic words (“Lady of Liberty, hear my plea, for the land of the brave and the home of the free!”) and giant Hitler robots. It didn't completely work, but it certainly funnier than any current comic and featured some lovely Linda Medley art. Why do I bring this up? Because in this issue the Sandman points out that General Glory (his replacement actually) was dismembered at his wedding recently

This is about par for the course, as DC has spent the past few years mercilessly destroying any remnant of the Giffen/DeMatteis run. It should also be mentioned that this is a Geoff Johns' comic, and he does love the slaughterin'. We get three pages in before a young mother and her pre-teen daughter are ripped apart by Nazis. Johns' has a reputation of writing solid superhero stories, but it seems to come with a dash of Saw-like gore porn. It's really wearying, and has no place in this book.

Green Arrow#71
I've really come to appreciate this current incarnation of Green Arrow. This book is direct and unpretentious, offering up straight-forward slam-bang superhero action. It isn't great art and doesn't pretend to be. Throw in some snappy lines by Judd Winick and Scott McDaniel's terrific pencils and you come up with one of the better books DC puts out each month. This issue is no different, a classic team-up and split-up guest starring Batman. It does, however, continue the return of Jason Todd, an idea that started off dumb and hasn't really gotten away from that.

Ultimate X-Men#79
For all of his success on creator-owned works like Invincible and Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman's output at Marvel has been uneven at best. His run on this title has been slow and his choices -like the borderline unreadable Magician storyline and the ill-advised idea to bring back the best-forgotten Silver Age Xavier-loves-Jean misstep- have been questionable at best. This issue redeems his run, focusing on Xavier's funeral. The quiet, day-after story has long been an X-Men staple, and this -with touching and true character bits on nearly every page- is one of the best.

Astonishing X-Men #20
Despite the erratic schedule and general feeling that Astonishing never quite lives up to the sum of its parts, this is still one of the premier titles in comics. This issue is no different: snappy (if slightly soundalike) Joss Whedon dialogue, eye-popping John Cassady art, and a couple of moments where one remembers why reads comics in the first place. This issue? Colossus punching somebody up into the roof and a touching -if slightly weird- moment between Wolverine and Hisako. A terrific reveal at the end, too.

Thunderbolts #111
Two issues into the T-bolts revamp, and I haven't quite figured out if I like it or not. This is a book designed to make traditional superhero fans really uncomfortable, and it certainly succeeds there. Warren Ellis uses a very minor hero named Jack Flag to show just how brutal the new Thunderbolts are. The title accomplishes what it sets out to do, set along by dark and moody artwork by Mike Deodato, who turns in some of the best work of his career.

Star Wars: Legacy #8
Dark Horse has come up with a very innovative way to deal with delays: they seem to have resurrected the fill-in issue, stories that fill-in without comprising continuity. This issue gives the Sith and Empire side of the fall of Ossus, featured in the debut of the series. Legacy still seems a bit recycled for my tastes, but there is no denying John Ostrander has come up with an enjoyable look at the SW universe. The artist is Adam Dekraker, and his work, while appropriately dark, seems a bit rushed. A solid effort, if nothing special.

Best of the Week: Ultimate X-Men #79

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February 16, 2007

Quote of the Day

“There is no reason good can’t triumph over evil, if only angels will get organized along the lines of the Mafia.”

-Kurt Vonnegut

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February 15, 2007

Even more awful than you can imagine

Fox decided to make a conservative version of the Daily Show, only they forgot to be funny, charming or even watchable. Nice job fellas.

Posted by Frinklin at 01:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 14, 2007

Mediocre Fred's 3rd Annual Valentine Message to the Lovelorn

"Boys, I had all the ingredients for a great piece of ass last night -- plenty of time, and a hardon. All I lacked was a broad."
-Seattle Pilots infielder Ray Oyler, as quoted in Jim Bouton's Ball Four

This quote more or less sums up my Valentine's Day. I had all the ingredients for a wonderfully romantic day: a snowbound apartment, a comfortable couch, a cozy down comforter, a pot of hot chocolate, plenty of time. All I lacked -- yet again -- was a woman to share it with.

With nothing but time in my hands, and the Fedroplex socked in by a wicked snow-and-ice storm, I spent my Valentine's morning helping my neighbors get their cars unstuck, no small task given the conditions. Something about snowy weather brings out the Good Samaritan in me. After a dozen freed cars and an appointment with at least a dozen sore muscles later in the afternoon, I settled on the aforementioned couch and pondered the vast wasteland that is mid-day television. Flicking vainly in search of something worth watching, I pondered a conundrum I've noticed of late.

Occasionally, I bemoan my companionless state to friends in relationships. In an awful lot of cases, their reply is along the lines of: "Hey, you're probably better off. This relationship business is more trouble than it's worth." Given the number of complaints I hear about relationships from people in them, you'd think that we'd all be better off in monasteries and convents. Where does all this dissatisfaction come from? Is it just the grass-is-greener syndrome? Or is there something else at work?

As I completed my third fruitless trip arond the channels, a thought struck me: Maybe we suffer from too many choices. Think about it for a second: In the old days, when there were only three TV channels, it wasn't hard to find the best thing on. Maybe it wasn't the greatest show going, but it was better than the other two choices, and it was easy to feel that you were making the best use of your TV-viewing time.

Contrast with today, when there are dozens or even hundreds of channel choices. The odds are good that you can find something better (or at least more suited to your tastes) than you could have on the three-channel system of old. But is it the best thing on at any given time? How sure can you be? If you have hundreds of channels at your disposal, sure, you might really enjoy "World Mud-Wrestling Roundtable" on Channel 371, but there's always the thought that maybe there's something even better on Channel 498, or Channel 760, or Channel 947. So you want to go channel-surfing. But by the time you get through surfing, and finding nothing better, "World Mud-Wrestling Roundtable" will be over. So you stick with it, but in the back of your mind, you can't help wondering what you're missing out on.

So it is with dating and relationships. We have more mate-selection options than ever: online dating services which sift through the pool of eligibles in your area and return a list of tens - or hundreds - of candidates meeting your clearly-outlined specifications, speed-dating events at which you can meet a half-dozen or more potential mates in one frantic evening, and so on. As with TV, the odds of finding a mate more suited to your preferences are higher than ever. But there's always the nagging concern about whether Mr. or Ms. Dreamboat is the best choice. So it's hard to be content, even if your relationship is a happy one.

This is a another wonderful byproduct of free-market capitalism. Our economy is built on convincing people that there is no such thing as "good enough." You're happy with the goods you have? You shouldn't be! There's always something more, something newer, something better. Why try to patch up something that's perfectly suitable when you can toss it and buy something newer and better? Our culture has done a fine job producing a society of perfect consumers. And indeed, an economy organized around the principles of consumer-driven capitalism is quite successful. It's organizing your social and interpersonal systems around the same principles that gets you into trouble.

All this thinking gave me a headache (and I was also fully cognizant that discussing romance in academic terms this way is a sure sign of lonely loserhood), so I decided to tromp off to the grocery store. On the way, I passed a steep hill, perfect for sledding, I thought. Judging by the tracks and child-size footprints dappling the hill, several of the local youth had had the same idea. And lo and behold, one had left a pink plastic sled behind. Naturally, I couldn't resist.

I hadn't availed myself of this particular pleasure in at least a decade, and as I went whizzing down the hill (the ice-covered snow made for a terrific ride), it brought back to mind that old childhood feeling, that mixture of joy, freedom, wonder, and a tiny bit of terror that makes sledding so much fun. It feels a lot, in fact, like the intoxicating thrill of new love, when you first meet someone who lights you up in the special way, and you think to yourself, "Oh boy, I wonder what would happen if maybe, just maybe..." Maybe you'll crash into a tree, or go plunging into the creek at the bottom of the hill, but who can resist giving it a try and finding out?

Maybe, I thought as I went for my second run, it's more than just capitalist indoctrination that causes us to be unhappy in relationships. Maybe we're just hooked on this sliding-down-the-hill feeling. Once you reach an age where sledding is no longer socially acceptable and other avenues of thrill-seeking, like drugs or skydiving or driving like a hoon, seem too costly, we're left with love and roller coasters to get our kicks. (The Ohio Players would argue they're one and the same.)

There was an article in the Post yesterday suggesting that this rush is a chemical reaction, a sort of intoxication, courtesy of a brain chemical called dopamine, and we're all hard-wired to be addicts, constantly seeking that thrill. To quote the article:

Wise counsel, patience, foresight, prune juice -- who wants that? Is there one among us who, at least once in this life, does not want to throw everything out the door and sprint to the Disco Ball of the Brain, where there are big white piles of dopamine, where a hot and sweaty Barry White is always on stage, thumping out "You're My First! My Last! My Everything!" And there's that new girl in class! Scantily clad! She's on the floor, beckoning you! Yes, Bubba, you! Out you go, and she's saying your name and her hand slips to the small of your back, and this is going to last FOREVER AND EVER!


A neurologist quoted in the story thinks the relationship-blues problem lies in our search for this junkie's high:

Still, she says, passion is destined to end, whether mellowing into long-term love or blowing up on the freeway at 4 a.m. Given this, she wonders if "we do our self a disservice by glorifying passionate love so much."

"The search for eternal passion is very misguided," she says. "It's the search for the perfect high that keeps people discarding relationships right and left. You don't feel the same way you did; people want to break up, instead of seeing it as normal."

She's right, of course. But the heart (or, more accurately, the brain) has its own demands. So here's my modest proposal to cure the relationship blues: Take your Special Someone sledding. There's a certain romance inherent in two people cuddling up in a sled, and the thrill of the hill should satisfy your need for sparks. Who needs Mr. or Ms. New and Improved if you can go zooming down an icy hillside hanging on for dear life to Mr. or Ms. Old and Comfortable? And after you're done, you can walk back to the house hand-in-hand, make up a pot of hot chocolate, help each other out of those wet clothes and into a down comforter, and anyone with a reasonable amount of imagination can take it from there.

As for us singletons? Well, sledding alone has its own thrills at any age, and who knows? Maybe Mr. or Ms. Right will see you reliving your childhood, think that it (and you) looks like fun, and decide to join you. And even if that doesn't happen, isn't it better to be outside reveling in nature than inside sulking and moping? I think so. Which is why I consider this Valentine's Day a success, partner or no.

Happy sledding, everybody.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 02:11 PM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

February 12, 2007

It's Way Too Early for Campaign '08 Update: Sam Brownback and Dennis Kucinich

Last night found me watching C-SPAN (yes, again), and catching a glimpse of two presidential candidates considered to be at opposite political poles: Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas and Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. Brownback was a guest on a radio show in South Carolina, and Kucinich was speaking at a bookstore in New Hampshire. Watching the two men speak, I realized why neither one could ever win the presidency, and yet I found both interesting to listen to.

Brownback surprised me with his calm civility. You might expect a guy as staunchly ideological as he is to be vituperative and nasty (a la Rick Santorum), but he isn't. When asked by a caller to give his opinion on the Clinton presidency (which for Brownback is roughly equivalent to asking, "Please share your feelings about Satan"), Brownback displayed a surprising calmness of tone. If you didn't listen to the actual words he said (in which he outlined his total disagreement with Clinton on everything), you'd think Brownback found the ex-president a perfectly decent fellow, a cherished colleague. He also spoke in pleasant tones about the late liberal icon Paul Wellstone, with whom Brownback collaborated on a human-trafficking bill some years back.

On the other hand, Brownback is as starchy as a minister's collar. As a public service, when C-SPAN tapes radio interviews, they leave the cameras on for a couple minutes after the radio program is over, showing the candidate interacting with the host in a more relaxed, off-the-record style. It's an intriguing glimpse of candidates in a more human mode. In Brownback's case, though, he was exactly the same, just as stiff and formal off air as on. Though Brownback is a relatively young man (only 51, a decade younger than Bill Clinton), he's a throwback to the Depression era, in style and substance.

Brownback's electability, such as it is, rests on his true-conservative credentials. The theory is that conservative Republican primary voters, distrusting the front-runners in the field (Giuliani, McCain, and Romney), will yearn for a principled conservative. In despair, they will cast their eyes around the room, and there, in the corner, standing with military-perfect posture, will be Brownback.

Conservative, he is. Without question. But assuming Republcians are actually interested in winning the '08 election, they'll want someone electable. And Brownback, with his unyielding principles and hyper-formal manner, isn't going to be charming any crossover voters. If Republican voters decide they can't abide Giuliani, McCain, or Romney, they're far more likely to turn to Mike Huckabee, who combines conservative politics with genuine warmth and likeability.

As for Kucinich, even though he ran in 2004, I never got a chance to see him speak at length. As such, I was surprised and impressed by his intelligence. Kucinich made wide-ranging allusions, from Tennyson to the Bible to a philosopher whose name I didn't quite catch, and gave a very impressive talk, a secular sermon almost, about the virtues of peace and love as guiding principles and how he would apply them in his presidency. If Brownback is a throwback to the '30s, Kucinich is straight out of the '60s, the political reincarnation of Eugene McCarthy, well-read, passionate, and witty.

Unfortunately, he has a grating, high-pitched voice that wears poorly and makes his strongest statements sound like rants. He has an odd habit of ending important sentences on an upnote, the way an overexcited child might. Also, he tends to step on his own applause lines, refusing to stop and soak up the crowd's approval, determined to finish his point come hell or high water. All in all, he's an exhausting speaker to listen to, between his curious speech patterns and his high-flown allusions. He's not in the least suited for modern sound-bite politics. (Incidentally, if anyone from the Kucinich campaign happens to read this, please tell him that call-and-response rarely works in a crowd smaller than 100 or so. If you ask a question like, "Are we going to stand for a government based on fear and terror?" and expect to hear a thunderous "NO!!" in response, it helps if there are enough people around to generate real thunder.)

Also, Kucinich surprised me by showing up with a wife. You may recall that in 2004, Kucinich's bachelor status was the subject of some discussion, even leading to a "win a date with Dennis" contest at some point. Well, between the end of that campaign and the beginning of this one, Kucinich not only found a special someone, but married her. I'm happy for him, as he seems to be a genuinely nice guy and deserves to have someone special in his life. But what struck me was the woman he managed to land.

If you've never seen Kucinich, let's just say that he doesn't seem like an obvious prize. He's short and has big ears, a bad haircut, and a distinct resemblance to a lawn gnome. And he married a striking British redhead (judge for yourself here) named Elizabeth, who has done extensive missionary work here and abroad. Not only is she quite attractive, she'll also rather tall, several inches taller than Kucinich. She appeared to be wearing high-heeled boots at this particular event, and let me simply say that a presidential candidate who is willing to be dwarfed by his own wife at a public event must be very sure of himself.

So here's to you, Dennis Kucinich. You'll never be President, and that's for the best, but I like you. You've got spunk.

P.S. My favorite moment of the Kucinich event came at the beginning, when he was shaking hands and saying hello. He greeted one woman, who paused awkwardly and said, "I'm sorry, but I don't know who you are." Kucinich's response: "That's okay. I don't know who I am either. I'm going to go up in the front there and find out who I am." Well played.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 08:19 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Now that we've gotten the major characters out of the way

From Progressive Ruin via Kalinara, we see that Nicholas Cage made an innocous joke about Ghost Rider co-star Eva Mendes playing the She-Hulk. Immediately this turned into a minor rumor of an actual She-Hulk movie. Mike makes the point (and Kalinara expounds) that a She-Hulk movie might actually be pretty good. I totally agree, but with one caveat: Dan Slott's current She-Hulk series is better than all but 1-2 current super hero books and Marvel can't seem to give the damned thing away.

Then again, Cage made the joke while doing pub work for Ghost Rider, a character that has faded from popularity so quickly his book has been canceled approximately 672 times in the past 20 years, including once in the middle of a storyline.

Also, it's 2007 and there is no Green Lantern movie.

Posted by Frinklin at 12:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 11, 2007

I have no excuse for being this geeky

As a follow-up to my previous post, I do say I feel moderately better about the Transformers movie after seeing a couple of the very cool movie toys.

Oh, and Missus Frinklin? I know you've managed to stop me before, but I will be getting this new Optimus Prime. I don't care how geeky it makes me.


Posted by Frinklin at 02:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More than Meets the eye... maybe

Of course I'll see it. I'm a geek in my early thirties, so I think i have to see it. I grew up on the Transformers. Hell, I can still sing the damned theme song. I'm underwhelmed though. This is Michael Bay, and you can sure see it.

Posted by Frinklin at 12:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 10, 2007

Amateur Comic Review: Week of 2.7.2007

I've been meaning to do this for years now, a look at the comics I pick up each week. I played with the idea of doing quick reviews of every book, but between Ensie and I we ended up with over a dozen. So we'll stick with just a sample.

52 Week 40: A little ironic, I'll admit, that the finale to my least favorite 52 storyline (Steel and his idiot niece) turns out to be one of the more enjoyable issues of this sprawling title. It isn't perfect; Chris Batista's art is noticeably rushed and there are a couple oddball moments in the dialog, but the Steel versus Super Luthor fight is worth it.

Action Comics Annual #10: I'm not entirely sure when annuals came back, and I'm not entirely sure why they did, but here we are. This is a sort of odds and sods collection, all written by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner. Each of these vignettes set up a different portion of the Johns/Donner run on Action Comics, which has hit the wall after the first two issues. While one has to wonder just what has happened there, this really works as an annual. Nothing is vital to the main title, but it stands on it's own. This is worth owning, if just for the two-page spread look at the Fortress of Solitude.

Detective Comics #828: Each month Paul Dini does nothing but put out the perfect Batman comic. This is no different, and we get the added benefit of Batman punching out sharks.

Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil: Captain Marvel has always been just a bit too goofy for the modern DC universe. The magic word, the family, the talking tiger... hell, his sidekick is named Captain Marvel, Jr. for crissakes. While DC has restructured the character for the main universe, this Jeff Smith version is pure, unadulterated CC Beck-style goofy. Smith, the creator of Bone, plays with the mythos a little bit, and the result is actually a little bit darker than expected. The result is a little uneven but certainly worthwhile.

tranq3.JPG Welcome to Tranquility: Gail Simone's odd little series about a superhero retirement community continues to impress. This issue introduces the retiree's super-powered grandchildren the Liberty Snots. Yes, you read that right. While none are as immediately recognizable as the Emoticon (the character find of 2007!), they play pretty realistically. This, along with the like minded alt-superhero book Invincible is the Missus' favorite book.

Ultimate Spider-Man #105: Really, when a storyline goes 8 full issues, you really need to add an epilogue at the end. Brian Michael Bendis is the master of decompressed storylines, and the Clone Sage proved that. And proved it again. And again.

Uncanny X-Men #483: Speaking of decompression, this is part 9 of Ed Brubaker's sprawling Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire, which is itself a sequel to his X-Men: Deadly Genesis limited series. As you might expect, there is a lot going on here. While laughably long, this story has been solid, even though I still can't care about Vulcan.

X-Men Annual #1: Again with the annual. Telling that this is the first annual for a book that's been around for 17 years. Regular series writer and pinch-hit artist Mark Brooks use this as a way to wrap up a couple dangling storylines from the regular book. Plus this issue brings back Exodus, one of those classically bad 90's X-villains, mullet and all. This is a pretty enjoyable issue nonetheless, as Exodus and a motley crew (all of which were introduced in the early-90's, which I just realized) attack a SHIELD helicarrier. Carey deserves some credit for utilizing current Marvel issues like Decimation and Civil War, which have been completely ignored elsewhere in the X-universe.

Best of the Week: Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil

Posted by Frinklin at 09:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Looking for something to do this Saturday morning? Head over here and check out this guy's invaluable look at defunct sodas. Revel in the glory of my much-missed Crystal Pepsi, and try to imagine how revolting Raging Razzberry Pepsi must have been.

Posted by Frinklin at 09:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 04, 2007

Super Bowl Wrap-up


Meh. Dull sloppy game between two teams I couldn't even pretend to care about. I think I actually fell asleep at one point.

FRED ADDS: I agree with this assessment. The game was a mess, the commercials were dull, Peyton Manning probably didn't deserve the MVP award but I couldn't think of anyone who really did, except maybe the rain. The game was far, far less interesting than two programs I watched earlier in the day: Molly Ivins swearing like a sailor and completely overwhelming Brian Lamb on C-SPAN's Book Notes, and the Lawrence Welk Show. (Yes, C-SPAN and Lawrence Welk comprise typical weekend TV fare for me. Yes, yes, I am a hopeless dork and I am at least 4,000 years old. Save your letters.)

I do find it amusing, though, that everyone thought Prince's performance in the halftime show was some kind of revelation, despite the fact that he clearly wasn't really playing his guitar. Am I the only one who noticed this?

Posted by Frinklin at 11:10 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Frinklin Football Forecaster: Super Bowl XLI

Pay no attention to this picks. I've was spectacularly wrong on the championship games, and I've paid very little attention to this game. I'd never realized the let-down that occurs the year after your team makes the Super Bowl. This is a pretty interesting match-up with a couple great subplots (Manning, Rex Grossman) and a host of interesting match-ups, and yet I don't give a damn about it.

At least there are no Patriots.

Chicago Bears versus Indianapolis Colts

Why the Bears will win: The Bears have the markedly better defense, better special teams (the Colts advantage at kicker is nullified by Hester and Indy's atrocious kick defense teams), and run even with the Colts along the offensive line and running back. This was a dominant team the first half of the season, and while the comparisons to the '85 Bears were presumptuous, Chicago is certainly capable of beating any team in the NFL.

Why the Colts will win:Quarterback is the single most important position in football and perhaps in all of major professional sports. Peyton Manning is – even considering his post-season struggles – at worst the second-best quarterback of his generation. Rex Grossman is a guy who's been sparking discussion of who the worse quarterback in Super Bowl history is. It's not fair to Rex, who is a pretty fair player when he's on a hot streak,but the plain fact of the matter is that the spread between these two teams at quarterback is about the size of the Atlantic Ocean.

Who will win? After the Colts beat Bellichek, Brady and the Patriots after falling behind 21-3, can anybody really say it isn't their year? The Colts probably aren't as good as last years' edition, but this team sure looks like destiny tapped them on the shoulder. Having said that, the Bears are better than people are giving them credit for, and a 6.5 – 7 point line is preposterous.

Colts 24, Bears 20

Posted by Frinklin at 01:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 01, 2007

Should I just hire a professional?

I made a New Years Resolution to exercise more, and I've actually kind of kept it. Well, it should be "exercise at all" instead of "exercise more" but that's beside the point. I've been getting up earlier and working out, and I've been taking the dogs for walks every weeknight. Until this week that is. Apparently God doesn't want me to do this. On Tuesday night, Jefferey and I got about two blocks and he fell down. His left rear leg collapsed underneath him and he couldn't stand. I ended up carrying him back home, which is such fun with an 80-pound dog. He was fine when we got home and fine all day Wednesday, so the Missus and I came to believe that he must have stepped on something.

So we tried again last night. Got about a block farther than the previous night and then I took a dive. My right foot caught on a gap in the sidewalk and my body went forward and my foot didn't move at all. I ended up with a very sprained ankle and a dog that keeps wondering why he goes on the shortest walks imaginable.

Posted by Frinklin at 11:00 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack