Thursday, May 29, 2003

Tax Law Omits Child Credit in Low-Income Brackets - While they found room for cutting taxes on high-income taxpayers on their stock dividends, it seems that the majority who passed the new budget couldn't find a way to make the tax credit of $400 extend to families who need it, those making under about $27,000.

To those who worked this bit of political skullduggery... you are Scum. Absolute, total scum. When people talk about politicians in the same warm tone that they use to describe child molestors and rapists, you are the one who earned your colleagues this reputation.
Good Reading on the Web:
Steven Grant has turned his column over to some of his readers for a commentary on the "state of the industry" for this week. The result? Some really interesting stuff. In particular, Chris Todd's piece really spoke to me. This paragraph pretty much makes a point that I absolutely believe in:

"The point is this: that while comics are a rich, inventive art form, they are also a marginal one and always will be. Like opera, Shakespeare, James Joyce, jazz, "The Saragossa Manuscript," and Laurie Anderson, even the laziest of comics requires not only a certain amount of dedication on the part of the reader to learn how to read it in the first place (panel transitions, different fonts, motion lines, all the Scott McCloud stuff), but also an interest in seeing stories told in that fashion at all. And in the same way that a lot of people -- a lot of the mainstream, in fact -- don't enjoy classical music, a lot of people simply don't like to experience stories in comic form. It's not a matter of "if they only knew," it's that they just don't like it."

But it's all really interesting. Go read it, it's worth the time.

Monday, May 26, 2003

San Diego Here I Come:
With Suzanne deciding to take another couple of months off with the baby, I finally decided that I have the time to go to San Diego, and I'm stupid enough to try it even though I probably shouldn't spend the money... so I'm going. This marks the first time in a couple years that both Don and I will be in San Diego, which should be a lot of fun. I had pretty much resigned myself to not going to San Diego this year, so I'm pretty excited that I managed to talk myself into spending the money and going.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Bye Bye Buffy:
The final episode of Buffy, written and directed by Joss Whedon, has pretty much guaranteed that I will, in fact, buy season seven on DVD despite hating a good 90% of it. It was a great finale, everyone was very much in character, there was the balance between dark and moody and light and funny that has made the show successful, it opened the mythology up so that a Slayers spinoff could easily have been done...

Basically, the only thing that could have made this finale better was to have Joss Whedon write the rest of the season, because I can only think of how much stronger the episode would have been with better lead-up and less filler. There were plenty of questions that could have been answered, build-up that could have made it feel more important and certainly characters who were ignored while other, lesser characters were pushed to the front. But really, those are mostly still complaints about this season, which has been an absolute disaster. In the final episode, my only complaints are that one of the characters I really wanted to die didn't and that Spike got to play the big important hero, which is still a role I don't think he's earned.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Matrix Thoughts:
I'll admit up front that in just about every aspect, Matrix Reloaded is not as good as the original. However, it's still damn good stuff, and I'm a little annoyed by the geek community backlash that seems to be going on against the film. It's got a lot more to think about, and it throws out the exposition pretty fast and furious, so I can see where people might have just gone slack-jawed about halfway through thanks to the infodump... but I think I caught most of it, and there's so much to think about that I definitely want to see it again, and I think the Wachowskis have really opened up the concept for exploration. I also think that the action scenes in this movie were pretty phenomenal, particularly the car chase, the fight in the atrium and the opening sequence (which, in all honesty, should have only been in the closing sequence where it belonged, timewise). It's not the expectation-shattering new thing that The Matrix was, but it's a solid B, maybe B+, and I'll definitely be happy to see it again and again on DVD.

The Matrix Reloaded soundtrack is a surprise because it focuses more on the orchestral side of things than the last one did. The music on the first disc is interesting, although not as great as the music on the Matrix soundtrack, but I have to admit that some of the heavier tracks (Rob Zombie's "Reload" and, surprisingly, the Marilyn Manson track) both appeal to me as "Matrix" music. Surprisingly, though, Don Davis, the composer, got more into the action this time, and his score is more techno and upbeat and actually is much more prevalent in the film than techno or metal music. Which means that the score, the second disc, is stronger than the original Matrix score. At any rate, it's a solid disc, and also probably a B, B+.

I've only played a little bit of Enter The Matrix, the computer game (PS/2 flavor in my case), but it's looking more like an A. Great voices and acting, extra footage, nice graphics and a cool game engine, plus a side quest that relates to the movie and to the Animatrix, makes it a pretty promising game, and I've enjoyed the hell out of the hour or so I've played so far.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

I rented Six Feet Under: Season One from Netflix, and I'm currently about six episodes into it. It is great, terrific music, great direction and amazing characters. I honestly was prepared to be a bit underwhelmed, and to find the show was overhyped as I found Sopranos to be, but after getting about halfway through disc two I've put the set (overpriced though it is) on my Amazon wish list, and added the soundtrack CD as well.

Monday, May 05, 2003

New online comic written by Andrew Dabb is up at NextComics. It's a creepy and entertaining short story with great color artwork by Sean Clauretie.
On Alias:
Season two ends with a lot of big changes, but I'm not as blown away as I was by the ender for the first season, when it seemed like Vaughn had died and we finally found out for sure what Sydney's mom had been up to. Honestly, I was glad to see Irina go back to being a no-doubt bad guy, working with Sark and Sloane, they made for a great villainous trio, and the "is she or isn't she?" stuff got old for me, so I was sorry to see it reintroduced. Although glad to see that Sid wasn't having any of it. Still, Sloane gets a terrific, creepy turn with Jack Bristow, who is still absolutely the man (every time he's on screen, I'm reminded of how great a character he is and how good the actor playing him is) and though the Rimbaldi plot has been building since season one, I'm still not tired of it. Oh, and Marshall and his new girl (whose name still hasn't stuck with me) are still very cute, and I really like the actress they've chosen for that role... hope she continues next season as a regular. In addition, there was some great action here, from Irina's escape to Will's escape to the final fight between Allison and Sydney... guess I was wrong on who was behind the mask at Fran's place, too bad as I thought having her be Anna would have had more resonance for Sid. Not so sure about the cliffhanger... it's certainly a shocker, but I liked the relatively pain-free and angst-free relationship of Sydney and Vaughn, and I'm sorry that we may once again be going back to the "staring wistfully at one another across the room."

Still, given that I just about gave up on the show when they went into the whole "Sydney is the anti-christ" X-Files-ish thing, I'm right back on board now, and can't wait to see season three or pick up the season one DVDs.

Friday, May 02, 2003

On X2:
Well, that kicked ass. I went in with pretty high expectations, partly from the cool trailers and partly from the positive buzz, and I still came out satisfied. The team absolutely *nailed* the character of Nightcrawler in powers, appearance and personality, Hugh Jackman has another amazing turn as Wolverine and Halle Berry works a lot better as Storm in this one than she did in the first. Mystique is also just an absolute badass in this film, and it's got me even more hyped for more of Vaughan's Mystique comic. The film has some strong resemblances to "God Loves, Man Kills," but it also references everything from the Phoenix storyline to Weapon X, and amazingly, it all works and ties together. Some of the characters get pushed to the side a bit... Xavier, Cyclops and Rogue all have smaller roles here than they did in the beginning, but nobody is left behind. Even Colossus, basically a bit part, gets a really cool moment. It looks good, it's fun to watch and it's got winks to the super-hero crowd without overloading on them. This is what super-hero movies should be, and quite frankly, I think it's even better than the much-lauded Spider-Man.