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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 4 August 2010

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

“It’s the same thing,” he said. (A. A. Milne, from Winnie-the-Pooh)

Dear God, where are her nipples?!?!?!? Should that be crania? 'Wherefore' means 'why,' not 'where,' damn it! Darwyn Cooke-alicious! I'm not sure why it's so important to get Maryland's flag onto that cover, but okay! Oh, the humanity! It's the most egregiously gratuitous ...... cover of the week! I do not miss the old cover design AT ALL Oh, that wacky Galactus! Spoooooky! Oh, the weirdness! Women who eat fruit decadently are eeeeevillll! This is all European and shit! What's with the sleeping bunny?

Hey, you know how sometimes I just don’t feel like doing these things? I’m just burned out on reviewing, for whatever reason? Well, last week I didn’t feel like reviewing, and I still don’t. I don’t know why. So I’m going to write one-sentence reviews (in bold), and then write about other shit. Proceed at your own peril!!!!! And don’t worry if you think I’m being self-indulgent … please, just let me know and I’ll be happy to refund the money you spent to read this. I’m cool that way!

Casanova2Casanova #2 (“Pretty Little Policeman”/”Mission to Yerba Muerta”) by Matt Fraction (writer), Gabriel Bá (artist), Cris Peter (colorist), and Dustin K. Harbin (letterer). $3.99, 39 pgs, FC, Marvel/Icon.

I agree with Tim Callahan that the recolored blood (in TECHNICOLOR RED this time) changes the tone of the book a bit, making it a slightly darker and more disturbing book – it’s kind of neat how much simply coloring something changes the feel of the book.

I’ve never been a huge poetry fan, even though I’ve read a lot over the years. I’m not a terribly good poet, which might have something to do with it, and I’ve never been good at studying poetry, which lessens my appreciation for it (yes, I’m weird that way). These days, I simply don’t have time to go looking for new poetry, so most of the stuff I like is by, you know, old dead dudes. One of my favorite poems is “Lepanto” by G. K. Chesterton, a poem that demands to be read aloud loudly. “Lepanto” is one of those poems that feels older than it is, mainly because from what I’ve read of Chesterton, he should have been born a thousand years before he actually was. “Lepanto” is about, of course, the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 that shattered the myth of Ottoman invincibility (but not, as is generally believed, the Ottoman navy) in the Mediterranean. It’s a marvelous poem; go check it out.

One of the most beautiful poems I’ve ever read is Pablo Neruda’s “Enigmas,” which is a tough one to consider. Should I love it so much because I can’t read it in the Spanish? Here’s the Spanish version. Can a translation ever really capture the beauty of the words, or is it just a pale version of it? I don’t know. Check out the poem, though:

You’ve asked me what the lobster is weaving there with his golden feet?
I reply, the ocean knows this.
You say, what is the ascidia waiting for in its transparent bell? What is it waiting for?
I tell you it is waiting for time, like you.
You ask me whom the Macrocystis alga hugs in its arms?
Study, study it, at a certain hour, in a certain sea I know.
You question me about the wicked tusk of the narwhal,
and I reply by describing how the sea unicorn with the harpoon in it dies.
You enquire about the kingfisher’s feathers,
which tremble in the pure springs of the southern tides?
Or you’ve found in the cards a new question touching on the crystal architecture
of the sea anemone, and you’ll deal that to me now?
You want to understand the electric nature of the ocean spines?
The armored stalactite that breaks as it walks?
The hook of the angler fish, the music stretched out
in the deep places like a thread in the water?

I want to tell you the ocean knows this, that life in its jewel boxes
is endless as the sand, impossible to count, pure,
and among the blood-colored grapes time has made the petal
hard and shiny, made the jellyfish full of light
and untied its knot, letting its musical threads fall
from a horn of plenty made of infinite mother-of-pearl.

I am nothing but the empty net which has gone on ahead
of human eyes, dead in those darknesses,
of fingers accustomed to the triangle, longitudes
on the timid globe of an orange.

I walked around as you do, investigating the endless star,
and in my net, during the night, I woke up naked,
the only thing caught, a fish trapped inside the wind.

Man, Pablo Neruda could write a poem, couldn’t he?

One totally Airwolf panel:

No, I don't believe I'll tell you where these panels come from ... which means it's time for guessing!

No, I don't believe I'll tell you where these panels come from ... which means it's time for guessing!

Gorilla-Man2Gorilla-Man #2 (of 3) (“The Serpent and the Hawk Part Two”) by Jeff Parker (writer), Giancarlo Caracuzzo (artist), Jim Charalampidis (colorist), and Ed Dukeshire (letterer). $3.99, 23 pgs + 7-pg reprint, FC, Marvel.

This is the secret origin of Ken Hale, not Gorilla-Man, and it’s typically entertaining – I know, shocking, that.

With all the folderol about Senate Bill 1070 here in Arizona recently, I thought I’d weigh in, just for the hell of it. (For those who don’t know, SB 1070 is an anti-illegal immigrant state law that, for the most part, reiterates federal law. Supporters say it’s needed because the feds refuse to enforce their own immigration laws, while opponents claim it will lead to racial profiling. A judge last week blocked some of the more controversial sections of the law before it went into effect, and now we’re kind of in a holding pattern.) I’ve lived in Arizona for 9 (really long) years, and I’d like very little more than to leave it, but not because of SB 1070. I’m not entirely sure where this gargantuan illegal immigration problem has come from – supporters of the bill claim that illegal Mexicans are kidnapping people left and right, living in mansions that they buy with their welfare checks, and forcing rich white kids to use all the cocaine they bring across the border, but there’s not a lot of evidence for that. Opponents of the bill claim that if it goes into effect, cops will be pulling over anyone with a tan and demanding to see their identification papers and, if they don’t have any, will bury them up to their neck in the desert and leave them for the coyotes (the real ones, not the ones who smuggle people across the border). Naturally, both sides have gone a little batty. I don’t think SB 1070 is a good idea, mainly because there are better ways to deal with illegal immigration, but what people who don’t live in Arizona don’t seem to realize is how frustrated people who live here are. We do have something like 500,000 illegal immigrants in the state, and while 99% of them (note: percentages are made up) want to work and keep their heads down, whenever an illegal immigrant commits a crime, supporters of the bill point out, that said crime wouldn’t have been committed if that immigrant hadn’t been here. It’s kind of an asinine argument (I mean, technically it’s true, but crime in the U. S. by far is perpetrated by American citizens), but people are often irrational, and fear stirs people up more than rational discussion. Arizonans are angry not necessarily because of illegal immigrants (they’ve welcomed them for decades, after all, and didn’t really care when all their produce was cheap) but because many Arizonans, being Westerners (whether by birth or choice), have an occasionally healthy and often crazed skepticism about the federal government, and they don’t see the feds doing their job, which is enforcing immigration laws.

The craziness on all sides is exhausting, however. My daughter’s physical therapist, who was born in Canada, waited ten years to become a citizen, and he has an interesting perspective on the debate (he’s very conservative, so talking to him is always fun). Opponents of the law rant about how the Nazis made everyone carry “papers” so they could find out instantly if they needed to drag you away, and do we really want to be like the Nazis? Mia’s PT points out that if you are a legal immigrant, the government makes sure you know that you have to carry your green card AT ALL TIMES and that the cops can ask you if you have them at any time. He said in ten years he was asked for them about 7-8 times for absolutely no reason except that he answered “no” when the cops asked him if he was a citizen (because he’s honest, don’t you know). So OF COURSE the American government wants non-citizens to carry “papers.” They have for years!

The attitude of the Mexican government is kind of humorous, as well. They’ve been ranting against the law for months, even though, as numerous letters to the editor in our local newspaper point out, in Mexico you can be stopped completely at random and not only will you need more identification papers than you might think exist, you might have to have some extra cash on hand, too. The hypocrisy of the president of Mexico doesn’t surprise me (a hypocritical politician? Quelle horreur!), but it does make me chuckle a bit. And even though I don’t agree with the law, the protestors last week who flooded the streets of Phoenix to celebrate the judge’s ruling make me wonder. Many of them carried Mexican flags, and I’m not sure, if you’re trying to convince people you really love the U. S. and want to stay here, that carrying Mexican flags is the best way to go about it. But that’s just me.

As usual, this is an extremely complex issue that is being reduced to sound bites, because that’s all people really care about. The funny thing is that when I taught high school, many of the kids I taught were Hispanic and some had dicey residency status. They all wanted to be Americans, though, and what the crazy people who support this bill (as opposed to the crazy people who oppose it) fail to realize is that American culture, for good or for ill, tends to absorb and subsume all kinds of other cultures. The people who are here illegally will have children, and they’ll have children, and in 30 years they’ll be Americans … just like all the other waves of immigrants who came here in the past. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose and all that.

One totally Airwolf panel:

No, it can't be!!!!

No, it can't be!!!!

KillShakespeare4Kill Shakespeare #4 (of 12) (“So Wise So Young Never Do Live Long”) by Conor McCreery (writer), Anthony Del Col (writer), Andy Belanger (artist), Ian Herring (colorist), and Chris Mowry (letterer). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, IDW.

I really enjoy the fact that Hamlet and Falstaff go through this entire issue still in women’s clothing from last issue; that’s commitment on the part of the writers!

Back when I was a teacher, I made my history students memorize Shakespeare’s St. Crispin’s Day speech, from Henry V. Boy, did they hate that!

WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING. What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words –
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester –
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered –
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Damn, that Shakespeare could turn a phrase! Anyone who claims not to like Shakespeare is either lying or hasn’t heard any Shakespeare. And that’s a damned shame.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Remember when the Grumpy Old Northamptonite had a sense of humor?

Remember when the Grumpy Old Northamptonite had a sense of humor?

MurderofKingTut2The Murder of King Tut #3 (of 5) by Alexander Irvine (writer), Christopher Mitten (artist), Ron Randall (artist), Dom Regan (colorist), and Neil Uyetake (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, IDW.

Irvine does a nice job showing how on Earth a brother and sister could possibly become husband and wife, even though it offends our sensibilities – that’s a tough trick, but he pulls it off pretty well.

Next Wednesday (11 August) is the first day of school for the two children. Some kids in the Phoenix area have already gone back to school, but Mesa won’t go back until then. If you’re wondering why they go back so early, well, I can’t say. The best theory I’ve heard is that because August and June are so horrifically hot anyway, it’s better for the kids to go in August when they’re fresh and ready than keep them into June, when they’re burned out anyway (most schools here finish their years the week before Memorial Day). Anyway, Norah is going to kindergarten, and she’s terrifically excited. She’s been going to preschool for over a year, and they do some actual work, so I think she’ll have an easy transition to kindergarten. Her school is a public school and part of the Mesa School District, but it’s a type that’s a bit more “old-school” – they have a dress code, for instance, and a fairly strict code of conduct and they push the kids academically a bit more. Norah doesn’t need more discipline – she’s remarkably well behaved – but she’s not much of a self-starter, so I think having a rigid work schedule will help her very much. She will work very hard if she knows exactly what she’s supposed to do, but if left alone, she’ll sit around and play. She loves school, so I think she’ll do fine, but we can always move her if she’s struggling … but I don’t think that will be a problem. Mia, meanwhile, is getting her fourth teacher in four years, which frustrates us to no end. You might think that most kids get a different teacher each year, and that might be true, but because Mia is in Special Ed., it’s a bit of a different situation. Her first two years she was in a very good program that fell victim to budget cuts – don’t get me started on that. She had two teachers in two years, but they were both very experienced and the program was very much tailored to kids with more severe disabilities. Last year she had to go into a more “normal” Special Ed. class – she was the only one in a wheelchair, for instance – and her teacher was a 22-year-old rookie. Man, that was tough. Mia was coming off hip surgery and wasn’t eating a lot, so the first half of the year was a serious struggle just to get her weight up and get her to move around. In the second half of the year, she made great improvements because she was eating better and her physical status improved, plus the teacher started figuring out how to deal with a kid with a traumatic brain injury (they’re … different, to say the least, than other Special Ed. kids). By the end of the year, the TBI specialist for Mesa Schools and I were amazed by how far the teacher had come, and we were looking forward to this year, because Mia is healthy and back to her pre-surgery capacity (which, admittedly, isn’t high, but at least her bones are fine!). So this week I found out her teacher went to a different school district and she’s getting … a new first-year teacher! Jesus. We’re hoping that we can learn from last year and assist this teacher much sooner to deal with Mia, because we don’t want her to slip too far from where she was last year. We’ll see. In case you’re wondering, the biggest problem people have with Mia when they first meet her and try to work with her is that she’s so danged cute and she tends to be overly dramatic about everything (she’s 7 – almost 8 – and it that way, she’s a fairly normal kid). When I say “overly dramatic” I mean screaming bloody murder if you make her do anything slightly difficult. It’s hard to figure out when she really hurts (which she does, occasionally) or when she’s totally faking it, and naturally, most people err on the side of caution, so they don’t push her if the tears come. I still worry about her sometimes, and I’ve been hardened to it over the course of over seven years since her injury. So it’s not a surprise that people treat her with kid gloves, but they need to move past it, because it doesn’t do her any good whatsoever.

Anyway, we’re still considering moving her to another school with more experienced teachers, if we can find one. School is fun, isn’t it?

One totally Airwolf panel:

Self-flagellation, thy name is NERD!

Self-flagellation, thy name is NERD!

08-05-2010 09;19;35AMMurderland #1 (“Set the Method Down, Part One”) by Stephen Scott (writer), David Hahn (artist), and Guillem Mari (colorist). $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

This is kind of an unpleasant bloodfest with a strange mystery behind it, but it’s honestly not all that interesting, so I probably won’t get the second issue. I do like, however, the flip cover by Boo Cook (see left), because it’s so ridiculous.

The best summer I ever had was in 1979. In May of that year, my family moved back from Germany, where we had lived for four years (my dad worked for Sperry and they had an office in Frankfurt) and I turned 8. That summer was the perfect storm of childlike awesomeness, I tell you that much. I had never watched much television in Germany (German TV was terrible in the ’70s), so I had no idea what to watch when I got back. I lived behind twin brothers whom I had known for some time, and we became even better friends that summer and remain close to this day. I lived in Warminster, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia that was a great place to grow up because it wasn’t dangerous, it had plenty of open space (not so much anymore) as well as plenty of people (meaning: kids), and it was relatively compact, so getting anywhere wasn’t difficult. This was an era before people decided to fence in their yards, so my backyard and the backyard behind me and one either side formed one vast space (which, of course, may have been why people decided to start fencing – we traipsed all over the place, and as an adult, I can sympathize, but as a kid, I thought they were just jerks). Summer in Pennsylvania isn’t horrible, but it is rather humid, and many people back then didn’t have air conditioning, so we were outside all day because it wasn’t any more pleasant outside than inside. Finally, on my block we had a ton of children. I was one of the youngest kids, but there were a few who were younger. We also had a bunch of slightly older kids, but none older than, say, 11. What this meant was that nobody was too cool to hang out with younger kids, so we all played together. We could get a group of 15-20 kids together easily, all from my street or the street behind me. And we played Kick the Can all summer. I had brought back from Germany a giant soccer ball – it was actually just a thin rubber ball painted like a soccer ball – and we used that instead of a can. We had to kick it up the street, because the street was on a slight incline and would have rolled forever if we kicked it downward. We had to stay on our block or the person who was “it” would never find everyone. The “jail” was a lamppost outside of my house, because my house was centrally located on the street. The “It” person had the worst job ever, and I’m surprised we had the patience to play that game all summer. With so many people playing and with a ball instead of a can, it was very hard for the “It” person to catch everyone before someone kicked the ball and released everyone. Yet we went out there almost every day and played Kick the Motherfucking Can. And it was awesome. At night we would play Flashlight Tag. And it was also awesome.

It’s very weird to have such a strangely cinematic event occur in your life, where cinematic events are often few and far between. That autumn we all went back to school, and a few weeks later the neighbor’s dog popped my soccer ball, which had rolled into their yard after I foolishly left it out at night. It was like a symbol of lost childhood smacked me right in the face (even though, you know, I was still 8). I discovered television that fall (The Dukes of Hazzard, bitches!) and the next summer, some of the older kids we played with the year before we too cool to hang out with us anymore, and we felt like we were too cool to hang out with some of the younger kids who, the year before, had been too young (5 or 6) the previous year but were now able to venture out on their own (I was awfully stupid in that regard, as my next door neighbor, who was maybe two years younger than I was, grew into a scorching young lady, and while I was always friendly with her, I wonder if I had been nicer to her when she was younger I might have had an advantage when she went all hot on us). So although I loved the Eighties and my adolescence during that decade, the summer of 1979 was a weirdly wonderful few months when it seemed like everyone would always be friends and we’d always play all day and a good portion of the night and nothing would stop us from that. Then we all hit puberty and got interested in sex. Damn it!!!!!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Man, I really need to re-read this

Man, I really need to re-read this

NancyinHell1bNancy in Hell #1 (of 4) by El Torres (writer), Juan Jose Ryp (artist), Francis Gamboa (colorist), and Malaka Studio (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

Another gorefest about, well, a girl in Hell (wielding a chainsaw), saved a bit by Ryp’s gloriously gratuitous art and El Torres’ over-the-top script, but I’m a bit put out because Ryp was the main draw for me (although I have enjoyed El Torres’ writing in the past) and I just saw in Previews that he’s not drawing the third issue, which is awfully annoying; I wasn’t too impressed by this issue, but that might just do it for me.

Random stuff from this day in history, 5 August:

* On this day in 1962, Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her home in Los Angeles. She was 37. Monroe, of course, was found in flagrante delicto with Robert Kennedy, Marshal Josip Tito, AND an alien from Alpha Centauri, which the government covered up. Damn them!!!!

* On this day in 1861, Abraham Lincoln signed the Revenue Act, imposing the first federal income tax. Lincoln, as you know, was a vile tax-and-spend Democrat who also created Medicare, insulted NASCAR fans, and pulled back the Union soldiers when they were just about to defeat the Confederacy, thereby ensuring that the United States would remain divided between North and South, which is where it remains to this day.

* On this day in 1983, Risky Business opened. It starred the 21-year-old future crazy person Tom Cruise, and while everyone talks about the Bob Seger scene, what they’re really thinking about is the Rebecca de Mornay scene. You know the (totally Not Safe For Work) one!!!!!

* On this day in 1976, the National Basketball Association merged with the American Basketball Association. Four teams survived the merger (and Will Farrell didn’t play for any of them), but the only really important thing to come from it was that Julius Erving, Dr. J himself, went to play in Philadelphia, where he led the 76ers to the 1983 Championship and made an indelible impression on Young Greg.

One totally Airwolf panel:

You know, I don't get depressed about people I don't know dying, but selfishly, I always get bummed that we're not going to see more of stuff like this

You know, I don't get depressed about people I don't know dying, but selfishly, I always get bummed that we're not going to see more of stuff like this

SecretSix24Secret Six #24 (“Unforgivable Part One”) by Gail Simone (writer), Jim Calafiore (artist), Jason Wright (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

This issue takes place in the Old West, with all the characters making appearances and bad things happening, and I’m not sure what’s going on, as Simone doesn’t offer any explanation, at least not in this issue.

The two worst inventions in the history of mankind are air conditioning and the television remote control. The atom bomb? Used twice, and nuclear power can solve a lot of energy concerns. No, it’s AC and the remote. Let’s review:

First, air conditioning. Not only does AC do horrible things to the environment, it keeps people inside. I mentioned above that when I was growing up we didn’t have central air, so we were more or less forced outside, where it was only marginally hotter than inside. Well, since moving to Arizona, I’ve become even more convinced that AC is a bad idea. Before the advent of AC, Phoenix was a tiny town, with citrus orchards as far as the eye could see. I’ve spoken to elderly natives of this area, and they claim that while it got very hot during the day, it got much cooler at night, and the smell of orange and lemon trees was a wonder. When there’s no AC, the heat makes it certain that only the hard core people will come here. With AC, the people began flooding in, and soon this area was overwhelmed with transplants, the farming went away, and the paving began. With all the macadam, Phoenix has become what they call a “heat island,” meaning the heat gets trapped in the pavement and takes a long time to leach out, meaning the nights here are almost as hot as the days. It remains well over 100 degrees (Fahrenheit, that is, because we’re in America, damn it!) deep into the night, and we get no relief. You may question why then macadam isn’t one of the worst inventions, but there wouldn’t be so many damned roads here if not for the AC. Plus, as I mentioned above, not having AC makes you more aware of what’s going on in your neighborhood – AC keeps you inside and isolated, and not having it toughens you up a bit. Let’s be honest, we could all use toughening up. Now that I live here, there’s no way I would turn my AC off in the summer – especially with Mia, who has trouble regulating her temperature – but I’m going to try something when they both go back to school next week – turning it off during the day. It’s a crapload of money to run it, and as I’ll be home alone, I don’t really care if it gets a bit hot. That’s why I have to pool! Plus, it will be nice having the doors and windows open. I don’t hate the winters here because of the nice breezes that come through the house when the doors and windows are open.

Next, the remote. I hate to go all “When I was a kid” on people, but it’s true that when I was a kid, we had to be more committed to watching programs because we lacked a remote. We were also committed to watching the commercials, which is more important than you might think. My theory is that this made our attention spans longer, and allowed us to be more patient than subsequent generations. I saw my students unable to sit still for 50 minutes or so, and I wondered why their attention spans were so short. I’m sure there’s a number of factors, but one of them, I’m convinced, is their ability to channel surf easily. There’s the minor point of actually getting up and turning channels so you don’t become a complete couch potato, but it’s more that not having a remote forced us to stay focused on one program. Mock if you must, but I’m convinced. Of course, I would never trade in my remote now. I mean, I’m a big fat man – I can’t be getting up and changing channels (can you even do that anymore?). Plus, I love fast-forwarding through commercials. The DVR rules, man!

One totally Airwolf panel:

I think that ship has sailed, guy who dresses like a flying rodent!

I think that ship has sailed, guy who dresses like a flying rodent!

SecretWarriors18Secret Warriors #18 (“The Last Ride of the Howling Commandos Part Two”) by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Alessandro Vitti (artist), Imaginary Friends Studio (colorist), and Dave Lanphear (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Does Captain America say he doesn’t like sauerkraut because it’s German and he’s talking to a Nazi, or does he really not like sauerkraut?

Here’s a joke. Don’t share it with your children!

A businessman goes to a new city for a conference, and on Friday night, he’s feeling a little antsy. So he asks around and learns about a high-class brothel where you can get all your desires satisfied. He finds the joint and tells the madam he’s looking for some fun. She nods and says, “We have just the thing for you. Trust me.”

She tells him to go to the top of the stairs, go to the last room on the right, and there he’ll find everything he wants. So he walks up the stairs, goes to the last room on the right, and opens the door. The room is pitch black, so he steps inside and closes the door behind him. The light comes on and he sees a bed with a chicken sitting on it. “Hell, no,” he says, turns, and finds that the door has locked behind him. He pounds on it for a few minutes, but nobody comes to let him out. Finally he turns around and checks out the bird. He’s still feeling really antsy, so after a few minutes, he thinks, Why the hell not?

Well, his experience is amazing. It’s the best time he’s ever had, and he’s able to keep going all night. He can’t believe how great it is. He goes to his conference the next day but can’t stop thinking about going back that night. So on Saturday night he heads back to the brothel and tells the madam, “I want the last room on the right. You know …”

She smiles and says, “Of course. But it’s being used right now. Perhaps you’d like to wait in the lounge with a drink for a while?”

So the guy gets a beer and sits in the lounge next to another dude. They’re facing a big-screen television where an orgy is being broadcast. The businessman can’t believe what he’s seeing – people putting all sorts of things in every sort of hole, and all sorts of lotions and oils and other fluids all over the place. He turns to the guy sitting next to him and says, “Wow. Can you believe what’s going on there?”

The guy says, “You should have been here last night – there was a guy fucking a chicken!”

One totally Airwolf panel:

Don't even ask

Don't even ask

S.H.I.E.L.D.3S.H.I.E.L.D. #3 (“The Theory of Eternal Life”) by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Dustin Weaver (artist), Christina Strain (colorist), Justin Ponsor (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Dustin Weaver continues to shine, but that page with Nostradamus getting tattooed looks terrible, and I wonder if the different colorists have anything to do with it or if Weaver is still working out his issues with faces.

I don’t know if Hickman means what he writes about the fall of the Umayyads or if that’s just Isaac Newton’s opinion or if in the Marvel U. that’s the way it happened, but the fall of the Umayyad Caliphate was certainly not the beginning of the Dark Ages, which is a complete misnomer anyway. First of all, this issue implies that Baghdad was the center of Umayyad power, when it was actually Damascus. In fact, Baghdad didn’t actually exist in AD 750, so there’s that. After 750, the Umayyads, who ruled Islam when it made its greatest conquests, moved to the Iberian peninsula (which the Muslims had conquered in circa 711) and re-established their caliphate there, turning Al-Andalus (as they called Spain and Portugal) into a center of learning and culture, welcoming Jews and Christians to debate philosophy and theology. Meanwhile, the fall of the Umayyads in the Middle East, far from leading humanity into a Dark Age, ushered in the Islamic Golden Age, as the Abbasids, who displaced them, promoted science, mathematics, literature, philosophy, and technology. Hickman’s Newton apparently never heard of Harun al-Rashid (763-809), the famous caliph who inspired the 1001 Nights and communicated often with Charlemagne in northern France. The Abbasid dynasty was destroyed in 1258 by the Mongols, but even that didn’t plunge the world into a dark age. At the same time as the Muslim cultural flowering, the Byzantine Empire was experiencing a revival under a succession of strong rulers, and of course we had the Carolingian Renaissance in France (another misnomer, but after the relative chaos of the late Merovingians it felt like one) and the 12th Century Renaissance. There were periods of anarchy in Europe during these years, but nothing like the biased view of history perpetrated by 15th- and 16th-century thinkers, who liked to believe they had rediscovered Greek and Roman culture after centuries of folk lived in ignorance. We must always be wary of labels given to eras, and in this case, the “Renaissance” culture wanted to believe they were special, so they named the period between the Fall of Rome and their own time “The Middle Ages” – and they were so influential the name stuck, even to this day. Fight the power, people! Take back the Dark Ages!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Oh, those wacky Brits!

Oh, those wacky Brits!

Shuddertown4Shuddertown #4 by Nick Spencer (writer), Adam Geen (artist/colorist), and Thomas Mauer (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Image/Shadowline.

I really want to like this comic, but this is the end of the first story arc, and I have to say, I just don’t understand what happened.

Shuddertown takes place in Pittsburgh, which is of course where the inbred Pennsylvanians live (oh, I kid, I kid). I’ve been to Pittsburgh a few times in my life. In 1984 we visited my aunt, uncle, and very young cousins there, and even as a kid, I was struck by what a hole it was. Then, in 1992, two friends of mine and I went back to visit another friend who was matriculating at the University of Pittsburgh (although I don’t think he ever graduated). I was amazed by how Pittsburgh had changed in less than a decade – the city was fairly clean, and much of the decaying infrastructure had been renovated. It was, frankly, a beautiful city. We had a wild weekend (it was Labor Day, so we stayed a bit longer) and one thing I remember was the night we ended up in my friend Chris’s apartment, drinking 40s of malt liquor and taking Percocet. I have no idea how Chris got ahold of Percocet, but he did. Drinking alcohol and taking a narcotic can be a deadly combination, but all it really did to us was slow us down considerably. I remember the night because I got in an argument with my best friend, Ken, and had we not been doped up on alcohol and drugs, we probably would have come to blows. As it was, we simply sat on either side of the room yelling at each other, no doubt with slurred voices. I even remember what the argument was about – I was convinced Ken was wasting his life because he kept enrolling and then dropping out of college. Ken is a smart guy, but he had a terrible attention span (he still might; I haven’t spoken to him in years, even though we have each other’s e-mail addresses and we send each other Christmas cards – I honestly don’t know what happened that he doesn’t want to talk to me anymore, and it remains a great mystery in my life) and he could never figure out what he wanted to do with his life. He, of course, saw things differently. He actually didn’t talk to me for several months afterward, but he eventually called me up and we made peace. I was one of the first people he came out to, and he also took me on my only visit to a gay bar, which was quite the scene (it was in New Hope, Pennsylvania, which, if you know it, tells you all you need to know). I miss Ken. I have no idea if I pissed him off somehow.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Oh, you bet she has plenty of that!

Oh, you bet she has plenty of that!

SpartaUSA6Sparta U. S. A. #6 (of 6) (“Beyond the Mountain”) by David Lapham (writer), Johnny Timmons (artist), Darlene Royer (colorist), and Wes Abbott (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Wildstorm.

Lapham could have gotten to the payoff a bit sooner and made this even more insane, but this remains an interesting mini-series that never quite coheres, story- or artwise.

My random memories of Europe, which is where I lived in 1975-1979:

* When we were shopping for a house, we drove around with a real estate agent in a souped-up muscle car. I was four, so I have no idea what the make or model was, but it was dark, sparkly green and the agent drove it really fast. Nothing screams “1970s” like a white Afro-ed real estate agent (and a German, to boot) driving a family of four around in a muscle car.

* My mother loves to travel, so travel we did! I’ve been to almost every country in Western Europe (remember, back then you couldn’t go to Eastern Europe), some more than once. We drove everywhere in our Volvo, which was no fun for us kids. My favorite journey was probably when we went to Sicily. We took a ship from Naples to Palermo, and during the night, my sister started sleepwalking. We were in a small berth with two bunk beds, and she was in the top bunk of one. She started talking in her sleep, which is why we all woke up. She started climbing down the ladder saying, “Guy, where are you?” over and over. Near the bottom she jumped, which woke her up. To this day, she has no idea who Guy is. In Palermo I watched The Muppet Show in Italian in the hotel lobby, and we watched Mount Etna erupt from a different mountain at night, so it was quite spectacular.

* One day while my sister and I were playing on our swingset in the backyard, she got her thumb caught in the hinge at the top of one of those see-saws with seats that hang from swingsets. She screamed bloody murder, I’ll tell you that much. I remember that the swingset was bright green, and a thin line of red ran straight down the slanted pole. To this day, one of my sister’s thumb is thinner than the other one. Poor Barb. In case you think she was the only casualty of childhood, once I fell into a flower bush in the back of our yard, which happened to be full of bees. Dang, that wasn’t fun.

* I went to German kindergarten and consequently could speak German better than my parents could (alas, that is no longer true). One of my teachers had a long scar on her hand where she cut herself once while she was holding a loaf of bread and cutting off a slice. Yeah, adults aren’t too bright, either!

* One time when we were in London, my parents bought a fancy bookmark at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I have no recollection of going to the Victoria and Albert Museum, but I know we were there! Well over 30 years later, I still have and use the bookmark. Here it is:

Behold it in all its glory!

Behold it in all its glory!

* We used to visit my grandparents in the U. S. once a year. My grandmother stocked Tab, so we drank Tab. Dear Lord, Tab is icky. One time she hauled some vanilla ice cream out of the freezer, and only after we ate it all did we realize it was frozen Cool Whip. Damn, frozen Cool Whip is pretty awesome.

* My parents introduced me to ABBA. Blame them. They also introduced me to James Last and his orchestra, but that didn’t take. Thank God.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Yes, I know it's not just one panel, but bear with me!

Yes, I know it's not just one panel, but bear with me!

Starstruck12Starstruck #12 (of 13) (“Drawing Dead”) by Elaine Lee (writer), Michael Wm. Kaluta (artist), Lee Moyer (painter), and Todd Klein (letterer). $3.99, 26 pgs, FC, IDW.

With one issue left, there’s still a lot of questions to answer, and I’m looking forward to the grand finale, because this has been one excellent series!

Possibly the best thing I have ever done is leave Pennsylvania (marrying my wife is probably higher up, but I wouldn’t have married her if I hadn’t left PA, so there’s that). When I graduated in 1993, I had an English degree and no prospects. My girlfriend at the time said she was moving to Portland, Oregon, partly to see if she wanted to go to grad school at Lewis and Clark College (she didn’t) but also to get the hell out of Dodge (or Pottsville, which is where she grew up). I had really no reason to stay in Pennsylvania, so I went with her. We had been dating for less than a year, but I was totally hooked! We arrived in Portland after three weeks driving across the country and immediately settled in. We loved living in Portland, and I wish we could move back. Portland is a fantastic city, let me tell you. It’s small enough to feel cozy but big enough that there’s plenty to do. The downtown area is compact enough to walk around in, and the blocks are smaller than in most big cities. There are many gorgeous neighborhoods, lots of stuff to do both indoor and outside, and it’s near the ocean and the mountains (although one of these days Mount Hood is going to erupt and wipe it right off the map). We got engaged soon after moving there and got married in July 1994. I was 23, Krys was 26. We both decided that we were far too selfish to have children, and we spent the Nineties eating at Portland’s wonderful restaurants (our favorite was Higgins at the corner of Jefferson and Broadway, where a wonderful waiter introduced me to the glory of Glenfiddich), patronizing the many theaters around town (we saw dozens of plays over the years, including John Sayles’ “The Anarchist’s Convention,” based on a few of his short stories; Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia,” which is a tremendous play and the performance of which was probably the best we ever saw; and performances of “Hamlet” and “Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” a week or so apart using the same actors, which was brilliant), and seeing lots of movies. We also traveled all over the state, up to Seattle (more than once), to Victoria, BC, and just before we moved, Vancouver. I ended up going to graduate school at Portland State, getting a Master’s in History, but when I finished, there were no jobs teaching around the town and, at that time, it was too expensive to buy a house. So we moved to Arizona, where teaching jobs were plentiful. And we decided that we were grown up enough to have children. Yay, us!

The point is, moving West was a tremendous idea. I would recommend moving far away from home for anyone, even if you move back (which is what we’re trying to do, mainly because the grandparents miss the kids). Out West, even in Arizona, which I don’t like, there’s a real feeling that anything is possible, and while I love Pennsylvania, living near where you grow up can be incredible constricting. Most of my good friends still live back near Philadelphia, and while I suppose it works for them, I don’t think it would have worked for me. I may not be the most mature person around, but I know that whatever maturity I have stems from moving far away from Pennsylvania when I had the chance. It’s much harder to move now that we have two children, but it’s a great idea if you have few responsibilities. It’s totally exhilarating, building a life from the ground up with no safety net. I think my wife and I have done a fairly good job.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Comics are awesome because the guy with a clock for a head doesn't seem all that out of place

Comics are awesome because the guy with a clock for a head doesn't seem all that out of place

WhispersintheWalls1Whispers in the Walls #1 (of 6) by David Muñoz (writer), Tirso (artist), Javi Montes (colorist), Silvia Villamisar (coloring assistant), and Alex Donoghue (translator). $3.50, 27 pgs, FC, Humanoids.

This is a pretty good first issue about a weird hospital in Czechoslovakia after World War II where very strange things are happening; it’s creepy and looks very nice.

As I get older, I’m less interested in a lot of things. I still watch too much television, but that’s mostly because my lovely wife is exhausted when she gets home from work and we just like to crash. Much of what I watch isn’t that great, but as I’ve pointed out before, I’m selective with comics (for the most part) because I have to buy them à la carte, while I’m buying the entire television package, so why the hell wouldn’t I watch stuff? If I could pay a monthly fee to Marvel and get all their comics, I’d read more of their stuff! Anyway, I still watch TV but very little really, really excites me, and I hardly ever see movies (the kids require a babysitter, man!). Even when I see movies, I don’t get thrilled by much. I had hoped I’d be thrilled by Inception, but while I enjoyed it a lot, it didn’t make me marvel at the movies like I used to. I think the last time I was really jazzed by a movie was when I saw No Country For Old Men. Anyway, even if I still loved seeing movies, I just don’t have a ton of time for it. I long ago stopped worrying about music, so I’m hopelessly behind the times in that regard. I must be getting old. I’m still very interested in comics and books, and I’m glad that the kids are both going to school so I can restart my stalled (and extremely unheralded) writing career, which I put on hold to, you know, raise them. I don’t regret it at all, because raising kids is terrifically rewarding, but I’m keen to start writing in earnest again. So does this happen when you get old? Do you lose interest in a wide range of things but become keener on the things that remain? Help me out, geezers!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Trust me - it will crack you up EVERY TIME!

Trust me - it will crack you up EVERY TIME!

YoungAllies3Young Allies #3 (“Now, Not Tomorrow Part Three: Down Time”) by Sean McKeever (writer), David Baldeón (penciler), N. Bowling (inker), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), and Joe Sabino (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I’m enjoying this series a bit more each issue, because McKeever is doing a nice job making the heroes not really a team, just people happening to bump into each other, which is kind of cool.

Finally, I offer a challenge. I don’t know if Apodaca, everyone’s favorite curmudgeon, still reads my columns or if he pulled his hair out in frustration at my lack of taste long ago, but Dan interests me. I don’t know if you noticed this, but whenever someone mentions music in these columns, Dan is there to tell us that they suck. That’s cool – if I allowed Dan to tell me what’s cool, I’d miss out on all of the great Billy Joel discography! But my challenge to Mr. Apodaca is this: Please, sir, list your top ten albums of all time. I want to believe you actually enjoy some music! The gauntlet is thrown, Dan! And if anyone else wants to chime in, feel free. Dan will mock us all, but does he have the cojones to step up and expose his own tastes to the ridicule of the crowd?!?!?!? DOES HE?!?!?!?!?

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fun fact: The Claw is actually Tibetan!

Fun fact: The Claw is actually Tibetan!

Hey, here are The Ten Most Recent Songs Played On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle But Which Often Gets Reset, A Vexing Dilemma):

1. “Renaissance Man” – Midnight Oil (1993) “A new world order has been formed between the cheque book and the dawn”
2. “All She Wants Is” – Duran Duran (1988) “Divine intervention couldn’t keep the word from leaking out”
3. “Rio” – Duran Duran (1982) “I’ve seen you on the beach and I’ve seen you on TV”
4. “Bring the Noise” – Public Enemy (1988) “What you gonna do, rap is not afraid of you”
5. “Crazy” – Seal (1991) “One of them’s got a gun, to shoot the other one; and yet together they were friends at school”1
6. “In the Lost and Found (Honky Bach)” – Elliott Smith (2000) “But every morning when he wakes he thinks of you”
7. “Long Road to Ruin” – Foo Fighters (2007) “Head on without a care before it’s way too late”
8. “This is Your Life” – En Vogue (1992) “And when I spoke up to my friends they made fun of my dreams”
9. “My Country” – Midnight Oil (1993) “There was never any warning, no escape”2
10. “Time is Burning” – Horse Flies (1991) “Big gray bird is staring down at the half of his brain lying on the ground”

1 I suppose I have to point out that Seal is still married to this woman, so he must be doing something right!
2 Weird shuffle this time around – two Duran Duran songs, and two Midnight Oil songs. Such is the way of the randomness!

Let us check in with some totally random lyrics!

“I keep straining my ears to hear a sound
Maybe someone is digging underground
Or have they given up and all gone home to bed?
Thinking those who once existed must be dead?”

Thanks for indulging me, gentlemen and ladies. I hope it wasn’t too trying to get through this. Of course, I warned you about it, so you could have skipped it. You have only yourself to blame!!!! We’ll see what happens next week. I’m sure I’ll be back on form!

44 Comments

You know, I have no idea if this is the case in Arizona, but up here in public school most of the Special Ed teachers are going to be younger and inexperienced. Because A) no one with seniority wants it and B) it’s too exhausting for anyone not brimming with youth and idealism. And even the young ones burn out pretty quick. I get Special Ed kids in Cartooning from time to time and I am still idealistic enough to dig in and make it work for them, but I’m old enough that they just wipe me out. I would never have the stamina to do it full-time with a roomful of them.

Speaking of age…

Do you lose interest in a wide range of things but become keener on the things that remain? Help me out, geezers!

Actually I find that my interests have widened but I have less energy to pursue them all. I still love music, but today I’m interested in things like Cole Porter and acid jazz along with the hard rock stuff that I adored so in my youth. But I’m not energetic enough to do more than indulge in the occasional impulse buy CD for the car stereo… in my younger days I would never have been contented with just listening to music in the car or on the computer, there would have been an entire electronic stereo shrine. Likewise I would love to travel more and we can actually afford to now, but every time I think about the hassle of getting on a plane and fighting all those crowds at the airport, I talk myself out of it. Etc.

It helps to have a defined purpose. I get opened up to all sorts of new things writing my weekly thing here. Often — okay, usually — each week’s column, especially if it’s a historical one, is followed up by a purchase of some new thing I came across in my research.

Nil! Really I don’t have anything interesting to add beyond the simple fact of recognition :)

I really liked reading this.

I believe the Garfield strip and Batman panels are by R. Sikoryak, and I suspect the first panel is, too (I really need to check out the Masterpiece Comics collection). The crazy Fantastic Four panel is by Seth Fisher, and the Kill Shakespeare panel is from DR and Quinch. And there’s Nil! Yay Nil!

Dear Arizona: You can have as many of our Conservatives as you would like. Love, Canada.

I’m pretty sure that Claw panel and the dude in the yellow tights were in the Supermen! book.

Pete Woodhouse

August 6, 2010 at 3:36 am

1st totally Airwolf panel: Isn’t that an early Ditko horror from The Thing – 1 of the 1st titles he started his career on? Wasn’t it one of the ‘nursery rhyme/children’s folk tales’ so it was things like pastiches of Cinderella (but with vampires – great movie idea!), Rumplestiltskin etc? Help me out any Ditko pre-code horror experts!

This “What I Bought” might’ve been the best ever. But now that you shared so much about your life, I fear that it will ruin the Man of Mystery persona that you cultivated for so many years :-)

DR and Quinch really is funny as hell, but I don’t buy the “Alan Moore hates everything” meme that’s been going around these days.

And I know I read the comic that has the “The cow says true” panel, I just can’t remember the name.

“Studying” poetry is like masturbating to a biology textbook. Poetry should always be read aloud. Felt. Experienced. If a poem requires study, it’s not a very good poem.

The Mutt, this anti-intellectual “you gotta feel the poem” hippie-stuff is a little overblown, these days. My students give me that argument all the time, and I agree that the performative element is central. Still, why limit poetry to that? What is wrong about trying to find out why and how a poem works? An analysis can sometimes enhance the reading experience, even as it leads you unto wrong tracks. Poetry is also a mode of storing a particular kind of cultural knowledge. Thinking of it as a vaguely emotional experience just goes to show the ongoing influence of the Romantics years after guys and gals like T.E. Hulme tried to teach us otherwise.

Greg, I totally agree with The Dude, this might be the best one of these I’ve read. I look forward to your list every week (even more than The Buy Pile) and I appreciate your insight and apparent sublime self-indulgence. Okay, I will stop gushing now.

Greg: The first two Special Ed. teachers she had were older and more experienced, but they were also in a program that was very specialized and had fewer kids, so maybe that helped fend off the burnout. That’s a good point, though. Unfortunately.

Dude and Andre: Thanks, sirs. I appreciate it. Also, Dude, I don’t know if Moore is all that grumpy in real life, but he comes across that way in interviews far too often. Obviously, with something like Tom Strong (and even Lost Girls), he still has a sense of humor, but we don’t the madcap insanity of something like D. R. and Quinch, which is too bad.

There’s nothing wrong with studying poetry, I don’t think. I too think that if you don’t FEEL a poem, it’s not working for you, but I’ve also learned to appreciate poems more after I study the meter and the symbolism, much of which I can’t do very well on my own. My favorite poems are definitely ones that just hit me in the gut, but usually I gain something more after I sit down and eviscerate them.

Okay, identified panels: the first one is Ditko, his Cinderella story from The Thing #12, 1954; the second one and the Garfield one are from R. Sikoryak’s Masterpiece Comics; the Kill Shakespeare one is D. R. and Quinch; the Murderland one is Nil by James Turner; the FF one is Seth Fisher’s FF/Iron Man: Big in Japan; the dude in the yellow tights and the Claw one are indeed from Fantagraphic’s Supermen! book – the dude in the yellow tights is the Flame by Will Eisner and Lou Fine (1939), while the Yellow Claw is by Jack Cole (1941). Good calls, everyone!

That fourth totally Airwolf panel is from the Rob Osborne’s criminally under rated “1000 Steps to World Domination.”

Colonel Deklin Iceland

August 6, 2010 at 7:35 am

Secret Six #24 pic = Detective Comics #34…?

Yeah, this whole column was pretty Airwolf, Greg. I enjoyed it, though I didn’t get a positive-or-negative from your Secret Warriors blurb. Which I’m kind of curious about as I’ve been considering picking up the first two trades to give it a shot (I’ve been reeeally enjoying Hickman’s Fantastic Four).

An unusual but highly enjoyable read as normal! Thanks Greg. Love the Iron Man/Fantastic Four panel from the Japan issues. That artist was great (Fisher?), his Green Lantern stuff was amazing.

Best column ever Greg! Oh and ‘New York Mining Disaster 1941′ fom those lovable moptops the Brothers Gibb.

Great column Greg. And comics burnout must be going around. I’m still not through my books from last week, and every time I look at my pile from this week I just want to toss them out my five story window.

You’re a great writer, Greg. This column was really enjoyable.

My central objection to SB 1070 is that it relies upon trusting police to behave fairly and not harass people just because they have an excuse. My personal experience says that cops will do the exact opposite, exerting authority whenever possible. I’m guessing, based on the way it is in L.A. (another city with a large hispanic immigrant population), that a majority of the cops are white, and considering the tension so many white Arizonans seem to feel toward hispanic people, I have especially low expectations. It’s true that in general, I’m cynical toward cops. But it’s also true that it’s a dangerously corrupt field where (legal) trust is automatically extended toward them before the citizen in question.

As for my ten favorite albums, let me just say that I LOVE good music. I play music, and I don’t think anyone would do that if they didn’t feel an emotional connection to it. I believe in the same rule for music as I do for all media, though. There’s always more bad than good. More bad movies, more bad music, more bad TV shows, more bad books, etc. Maybe my affection for music makes me so critical of the music I don’t like. Maybe I’m just a critical person. I was the only person to recognize the Bad Plus reference in Kelly Thompson’s blog title, remember? So, you know I enjoy some music. It’s kind of a pet peeve of mine when people assume that because someone doesn’t like what they like, they don’t like anything. But, you were probably just exaggerating for comedic effect. Fair enough. I’ll get to the actual task at hand, now.

Not in order of favor, because it’s past time for me to go to bed.

1. The New Year – The End Is Near
2. Pavement – Terror Twilight
3. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
4. Elliott Smith – Figure 8 (One of my favorites showed up on your shuffle!)
5. Jim O’Rourke – Insignificance
6. Built to Spill – Keep It Like A Secret
7. The Flaming Lips – Clouds Taste Metallic
8. Grandaddy – Under The Western Freeway
9. Built to Spill – There’s Nothing Wrong with Love
10. The Shins – Oh, Inverted World

There’s also lots of other music that I love! There are over 200 different artists in my iTunes library. That’s not a high number (relatively speaking), but then if it was, I’d be contradicting my “95% crap, 5% gold” rule. Still, 200 different musical artists that I actually enjoy. Criticize away, internet!

I am a 25 year-old curmudgeon. I love that (sincerely)!

I can’t believe you hung in there that long with Shuddertown. The artwork in that is laziest stuff I have ever seen. It makes Land look dynamic. Lack of drawn backgrounds. Poorly traced and photoshop filtered pictures of actors (I hope they give some sort of credit to Gandofini, Julianne Moore and rest). Body language/acting that has nothing to do with what’s going on. I personally would be embarrassed to have my name listed as the artist.

Hey Greg, as a fellow AZian of 10 years, I think you are calling it mostly right about the whole SB1070 thing, but I still think there’s just a healthy strain of Xenophobia that’s being exploited by the politicians–like the way gay marriage was a couple years ago.

For the most part, I don’t have trouble w/ the folks coming over here, legal or otherwise. But I do think there’s a lot of crime that uses our border to its advantage, and that really pisses me and a lot of other people off.
And, to be clear, I’m not saying all Mexicans commit crimes, I’m saying the lose border presents opportunities for all criminals to exploit.

Also . . . I hate to say this, but I wouldn’t send kids to public school here. I think the state gov is actively working to destroy it and make it as ineffective as possible so it can eventually privatized. Any Rep. that says he’s for public education here is flat out lying. Now mind you, I don’t have kids, but lots of friends who teach, and the pennies they’re given, and the garbage they’re saddled with just saddens me. I’d homeschool, or move out of state. I am glad you’ve got education in your background to help your little ones.

@ Greg and Kelly: I’ve been feeling the same way for a while now. I’ve actually started considering dropping almost all of my books (which Marvel has helped with since they canceled Atlas and whatever is going on with Conan) and just get the trades of the ones that sound interesting (and that I’ve already heard good things about).

OT: love the column this week and all the prior weeks (you’re the reason I got Hercules and a few other books now long gone).

The all-poetry episode of What I Bought was much better. Just sayin.’ (When is the musical episode? I demand it. Everything to the tune of different ABBA songs. Yes. Oh, and the lyrics are the Bee Gees. I don’t listen to anything post-1990 except the Barenaked Ladies. And a few Weird Al-bums. Oh, and Rilo Kiley, I guess, and all of Pulp’s 90s output. Mostly, though, I’m the Anti-podaca. Though actually, I was just turned out to Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, which is awesome. End paranthesis.)

Hatcher says:

in my younger days I would never have been contented with just listening to music in the car or on the computer, there would have been an entire electronic stereo shrine.

I’m definitely the opposite, still being in my younger days– I pretty much only listen to the same six (maybe it’s ten now) albums over and over again, usually only when driving. I’m pathetic, I know, but all my money and energy goes into comics, beer, film, TV, and the occasional video game, and there’s just no room left for music. Or sports. So there’s a couple gaps in my otherwise Rain Man level of pub quiz trivia recall. And I just can’t do anything with music in the background, such as write this comment.

I only like poetry when analyzed. But I would never seek it out on my own; it’s not my bag. (But like I said, the all-poem episode of What I Bought was great, but I have an English degree, so.)

Your old Philly neighborhood isn’t very far from my old Philly neighborhood, which was Somerton. But we were– and still are, barring any strange accidents with the causal nexus– some years apart.

No one’s gotten the Doom Patrol (Dr. Clockhead Guy) and Scurvy Dogs (the cow says) panels? Really? For shame.

(Turned out? Turned on? Tune in? Drop out.)

We have more panels identified! That is most certainly Rob Osborne’s excellent 1000 Steps to World Domination, Tim. And Colonel Iceland correctly identified Detective Comics #34 as the Batman one. Bill got the Doom Patrol one and, of course, Scurvy Dogs, which it should be everyone’s mission in life to read. It’s that good!

Zach: Sorry about that! Yeah, I’ve been liking Secret Warriors more and more. Early on, it seemed that Hickman was spending a lot of time building things, but it’s been paying off recently, and it’s quite good. I think it’s better than his FF, but your opinion may vary.

Ian: Yes, that’s Seth Fisher. He’s one of the few artists that I will buy no matter who’s writing it. I wish there was more of it!

Kelly and Matt: I don’t about you guys, but July/August really wear me out. That’s usualy the time of year when I get a bit burned out. I do have a ton of stuff from the con and longer works to read, though, and that usually pulls me right out of my doldrums!

Dan: You know I’m just funnin’ with you! I’m very cynical about cops, too, and it’s frustrating because I’m sure a vast majority of them are just doing their jobs, but the spectacular craptitude of the few gets all the press. I just don’t know if SB 1070 is going to lead to any MORE profiling than they already do. I mean, I’m a white man, so I already know if they have a choice between pulling me over and pulling over a young Hispanic or black man, I’m getting away, even if we’re both going 20 miles per hour over the speed limit. That really sucks, and I don’t know if the new law will add to that or not. We shall see, I guess.

Of course, I can’t mock your music too much, because the few bands I’ve heard on your list I like. The rest, I’m sure, would make me wave my cane menacingly!!!!!

JRC: Oh yeah, illegal immigration definitely has to be addressed, and occasionally a politician comes up with a reasonable plan … which immediately gets shot down because one side thinks it’s racist and the other thinks it’s too soft. It’s annoying.

As for public school … I’ve heard the horror stories and lived through some of them (I taught at charter schools), but I’ve also realized that more than the schools, it’s making sure your kids are with good teachers and that you, as parents, have a big stake in the educational process. We’re hoping that Norah has good teachers and we won’t worry about the higher-up crap, which sucks. The “good” thing about many public schools is the fact that you can move your kids if you think they’re not getting a good education. But you’re right – it’s very frustrating. We do what we can!

Bill: But that all-poetry post was HARD. This was much easier! :)

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

August 6, 2010 at 12:04 pm

I love Secret Warrior,s but every issue of Hickman’s SHIELD so far has felt more and more like they’re reiterating a neat idea Hickman had for a story which has yet to become…a story. I realize it’ll all tie together in issue #6, but so far it feels like a nifty idea about supergeniuses of the past in the Marvel Universe with an extremely cliche conspiracy plot bolted on to justify giving us a tour of history in pin-up form.

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Maybe it’d bother me less if Hickman didn’t seem to be taking it so damned seriously, and giving us some of the worst “portentous” dialogue I’ve ever seen in the process. A series about Leonardo Da Vinci and Galileo building a steampunk raygun to drive off Galactus and Isaac Newton having freak-babies with a frog-woman really doesn’t seem to me like it can support lines like “I suffered the indignity of their ways. I suffered the corruptionn of their beliefs. I suffered so that I could gain their knowledge, knowledge that, until that day was concealed from man.” That’s some mid-90s X-Men shit right there. people.

Dialogue and plotting have never been Hickman’s great strengths, of course. His premises are, frankly, brilliant. But like a lot of the current “it” crowd at Marvel, the plotting is much, much weaker than the high concepts meant to fuel it. Bendis has his dialogue skills to fall back on, but I don’t feel that Hickman has found a voice that works that way yet, at least not in his Marvel work.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

August 6, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Oh, and Secret Six is pretty easy to figure out. You just have to remember that the story title might resonate with a theological matter as well as with a Clint Eastwood movie…and then remember what the villain of this issue wants in “normal” Secret Six stories.

Oklahoma schools also start next week, and end in May. That’s how a normal school schedule is supposed to be. It always sounds so weird to me when I hear people on TV talking about school lasting into June.
I’ve heard before that school schedules were originally based around harvest times, so all the kids would be available to work in their families’ fields. That does make sense, because the main crop around here is wheat, which is harvested in June.

I never use TV remote controls. Ever. I just hate them. I don’t much like air conditioning, either, although when it gets over 100, like it did this week, it’s kind of necessary. (I dehydrate very easily.) But most of the time I really hate air conditioning– when I’m in most public places I have to go outside every so often to warm up, because I’m always freezing inside from the air conditioner.

I’m really enjoying Young Allies, too, although I haven’t read #3 yet. I do like how they’re not really a team yet. It seems to me that Arana, Nomad, and Toro have already become one informal team, and Firestar and Gravity might be turning into another one. I wonder if it will stay that way for a while.

Is that single strip all there is of the Garfield Faust story, or is there an entire story of it? It looks so cool!

Mary: It’s an entire story, retelling all of Faust. That’s the schtick of Masterpiece Comics – there’s Blondie and Dagwood as Adam and Eve, Batman there in Crime and Punishment, an EC-style Wuthering Heights, Charlie Brown waking up as a giant cockroach, and Superman as Albert Camus. It’s very funny.

That was it, Scurvy Dogs! :-)

I thought I would never remember the name. I agree with Greg, everyone should read it. The entire comic is like the panel above

I’m in Seoul, South Korea right now, and the summers here are humid as can be. I’m completely reliant on air conditioning. It’s the only way for me not to be grossly soaked the entire time.

Back home in L.A., I almost never use the AC. I’m not especially fond of high heat in any context, but with it being so much more dry there, I can cope a lot better. Here, though, There’s no inbetween. I’m either artificially icy or glistening with bodily fluid.

I totally agree with you about S.H.I.E.L.D., Omar. I really want to like it, but the faux-grandiosity of it robs the story of any momentum it might carry otherwise. When I see a cover of DaVinci in a flying harness, surrounded by steampunky-science equipment, I want to see him use it!

This was still better than the Buy Pile.

Any Rep. that says he’s for public education here is flat out lying. Now mind you, I don’t have kids, but lots of friends who teach, and the pennies they’re given, and the garbage they’re saddled with just saddens me

I assure you this is not confined to Arizona. It’s my pet peeve. Any politician speaking in public, if pressed about his agenda, will tell you, “We have to think of the children. It’s all about the kids. They are our future.”

Then the mealymouthed bastards go back to the legislature and gut our budgets, increase our class sizes, and generally just make our jobs infinitely more difficult than they need to be. Every last damned one of them has a pile of statistical evidence on his desk a foot high telling them that improving schools and concentrating on education is the silver bullet, it WILL cut down on crime and poverty and joblessness and all the other things they get elected by scaring people about. They KNOW this is true but they also know — or at least believe — that it won’t help them win the next election, because education doesn’t pay quick dividends. It’s an investment. It takes a while for the results to happen… but communities that invest heavily in education do see genuine results.

The trouble is it’s not a sexy issue for a politician to run on or a reporter to report on. And teachers that have the gall to say anything about the criminal way our budgets are plundered to pay for crap NO ONE WANTS (There was a stadium levy here that was voted down three times, no new stadium we like the Kingdome, we just paid to remodel it, go away…. now the Kingdome is gone and we have TWO new stadiums, side by side, because our two major league sports franchises blackmailed the city into building them anyway. Guess where that money came from. Etc.)

I’m in public school and I always will be, probably. I like being there and it’s where I do the most good. But I really wish the people who are supposed to be helping us make the schools better would quit kneecapping me and my colleagues and then lying on TV about how they love children.

–sorry, pressed one of my buttons. It really is my biggest pet peeve. Amazingly, even more than what DC has been doing to my beloved JLA in recent years. (Though there are similarities, come to think of it… especially the part about lying about how you are making something awesome for future generations while in fact running that awesome thing into the ground to make some quick cash….)

“And teachers that have the gall to say anything about the criminal way our budgets are plundered…” was supposed to end with, “gets smeared as being greedy or an apologist for the union.” But I got carried away snarling about those goddamned stadiums.

Put me down as another fan of this week’s column, Greg. I always like it when you go “off book” and write about whatever the hell you want. It’s usually far more interesting and entertaining than the comics of the week (although I’m not sure much could be more interesting and entertaining than Casanova).

Also put me down as another reader feeling the burn out. I have a huge stack of comics on a table in my room from the past three months or so. I have no idea when I’ll get around to reading them, and more are coming in the mail today, I do believe. (HeavyInk’s a pretty fantastic service, even if I’m not actually reading what gets shipped every two weeks.) Last week, I sat down and read the half dozen Grant Morrison books that had accumulated. That was a fun evening, but the rest? I dunno. I might do a Brian Wood evening this weekend. I have a bunch of DV8 and Demo issues on the pile. Maybe I’ll do a Hickman night, too, and plow through Secret Warriors and SHIELD. Otherwise, hell, I’m not even sure what else is on the table at this point. Nothing’s really calling my name or getting me jazzed about reading. Plus, my DVR is overflowing, and another thirty episodes or so will be added this week.

Lastly: Nil: A Land Beyond Belief! Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big in Japan! Scurvy Dogs! Doom Patrol! Those are all good comics, yes.

Quote Greg Hatcher: “(There was a stadium levy here that was voted down three times, no new stadium we like the Kingdome, we just paid to remodel it, go away…. now the Kingdome is gone and we have TWO new stadiums, side by side, because our two major league sports franchises blackmailed the city into building them anyway. Guess where that money came from. Etc.)”

I was part of a grassroots group that stopped a THIRD stadium from being built in downtown PHX a few years back.
Of course, it wound up getting built in the suburbs anyway, but at least it didn’t land on our little arts community.
Of course, bohemian culture being what it is, attracted land speculators which eventually priced most of the diy folks out. The good side of that though, is when the housing market had its meltdown, a lot of those companies bailed, which has put a stop on the latest wave of gentrification for now.

And to get back to my education point, I won’t say homeschooling is a full proof option either, not only does it encourage parents to censor ideas they don’t like, poor oversight can let kids tumble out dumb as rocks if the parents are just “gaming the system”–and I’ve seen that too.

Am I really the first one to identify the Airwolf panel for S.H.I.E.L.D.? I believe it’s from Hewligan’s Haircut (drawn by Jamie Hewlett and written by Peter Milligan). Hard to miss with that mysterious hole in the haircut that’s visible from any angle.

Apodaca: You have my sympathies. I’m originally from South Korea, and I’ve been living in Southern California for the past ten years. I have gone back to visit my family exactly one time during those ten years, and the weather is definitely one of the top three reasons why I don’t go back more often.

My wife, our oldest son, and I got our Permanent Resident Cards two years ago. As Mia’s physical therapist says, we are required to carry them at all times. (My wife and I do, but our oldest son doesn’t, since he’s only ten years old.) When it comes to the Arizona immigration law, my concern is more with people who are U.S. citizens by birth, like my two younger sons. Do they really expect natural born citizens to carry their official birth certificates or U.S. passports with them at all times?

My girlfriend is working here for a year or so, and she says the fall is fantastic. I’m pretty bummed that I won’t get to share it with her.

Still, it’s a beautiful country, and despite being covered in sweat on a regular basis, I’m having a pretty great time. I could never do more than one summer here, though. My Scandinavian and Russian genes don’t mix with this much humidity!

JRC: Yes, that is indeed Hewligan’s Haircut. I’m surprised as well that no one else got it, especially with, as you say, the haircut featuring prominently!

SKFK: That’s what people have been worried about throughout – that U. S. citizens who look “foreign” (whatever the hell that means in America – not white, essentially) will be hassled by cops. It can be abused, of course, but cops can’t just pull anyone over and ask for their ID – they are allowed to ask if they’ve stopped someone for a different offense. And as many people have pointed out, if a cop asks you if you’re a citizen and you say “yes,” they can’t do anything else to check your status. Even if you’re here illegally. Of course, there’s nothing to stop a cop from pulling someone over on a bogus charge and asking about their citizenship, but there’s always a possibility of abuse of the law. It’s an asinine law, but I don’t think it’s going to be as draconian as most people think.

Boo on SB 1070!

How do you feel about the Pirenne Thesis?

Thank your parents for introducing you to ABBA.

I’m a lot less interested in comics than I used to be, but I blame the comics for changing, not me.

I watch only the TV shows I like, so I don’t need a remote to find alternatives. But it’s nice to fast-forward through commercials on my TiVo.

Rob: Pirenne was, as we all are, a product of his time, so his pseudo-Marxist interpretation of history isn’t surprising. There’s plenty of proof both for Pirenne’s thesis and that the Germanic invasions WERE traumatic and paradigm-shifting, but the nice thing about any historian coming up with a new interpretation of history is that it forces every subsequent one to account for it. In that regard, Pirenne did a good job focusing on the economic forces at work in the Roman world and the places where those forces worked. It’s been a long time since I’ve read Pirenne, though, so I haven’t given it too much thought in years.

The Water Buffalo says “False’”

[...] finally, Greg Burgas at Comics Should Be Good: “Another gorefest about, well, a girl in Hell (wielding a chainsaw), saved a bit by [...]

Thanks for the link to Neruda in Spanish. I liked the poem more that way. The English version needed to add words to translate, it flowed better in Spanish, in my opinion.

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