Friday, January 30, 2004

Iron Chef:
Don calls this my "What you're watching" blog, so I figured I should add some other things I like doing. For example, eating. For the past few months, whenever Suzanne and I have driven home from visiting my parents in a different part of town, we've seen the Iron Chef restaurant and wondered if it had any connection to the show and, either way, if it was any good. Finally, I decided to look up some reviews and learned that it does indeed have something tangentially to do with the show (the owners are fans and named it after Iron Chef for some attention) and it is indeed quite good.

I haven't had enough variety in Crab Rangoons to really think there's much difference between them, but Iron Chef's Crab & Shrimp Rangoon appetizer was pretty tasty. For my entree, I got the Butter Shrimp... it was sweeter and much lighter than you'd expect of a dish that includes Fried Shrimp in a butter sauce. I was surprised that I didn't really taste the butter, instead it was like a lighter sweet and sour sauce. I tasted a bit of my dad's Golden Duck (which was really good) and my wife's Orange Peel Beef (also surprisingly light given that it's fried beef in orange sauce), which is quite possibly what I'll get the next time I go there.

Dinner prices were about $12 an entree average, and the portions were very good, such that my dad had enough of the Golden Duck left over for lunch tomorrow, although both Suzanne and I polished off our entrees just fine.
Pixar Leaves Disney:
That hammering sound you hear is another nail in Disney's coffin. Congrats to Pixar for getting while the getting is good, and I'd be very surprised if they don't wind up with a really excellent deal elsewhere. At this point, I would categorize every single film they've made (short or feature length) as really good, with the majority of them falling into the excellent category.

Monday, January 26, 2004

So I just recently ordered a couple used items from Amazon and when I was looking around in my account, realized that you can go back and look at invoices from when you first started using them. Or at least, pretty close. And it turns out that I've been ordering from Amazon since 1998, at the very least, meaning that I've been using them for over 5 years. I still do, moreso now that I can buy stuff used (Last Boy Scout DVD for $8, including shipping - that's a good deal!) and now that I have a credit card that gives me a reward certificate to spend at Amazon when I use it, and I get more credits if I buy at Amazon.

I've also noticed that since I signed up for iTunes, I'm buying a lot more music. I mean, I used to buy a CD maybe every 3-4 months, now I'm buying the equivalent of a CD every month, only every track is one that I like. I'm a little bummed that I can't find all the music I want, like the Foo Fighters' "Darling Nikki" or most of the music that was in The Italian Job, but I'm hoping that as time goes by we'll see the selection increase as record companies give in to inevitability and realize that song-by-song, downloadable is a way that a lot of us want to buy music.

Oh, and I looove Netflix. Been using them for a year or two now and have no plans to stop. Even though some months I only watch one or two DVDs, most months I watch a half-dozen or more. Just signed up for Gamefly, a similar service that deals in PS2 games (actually, X-Box, Gamecube and Gameboy Advance too, but I only have PS2). I don't play PS2 all that often, but if I have a rotating pool of games to play around with, that may change.

No real point to all this, just random meandering on how cool I think shopping online has become. I think I did 95% of my Christmas shopping online this year and it was so much easier. Maybe it's ironic that I'm a big online shopper and yet I work in brick-and-mortar retail? I dunno, maybe so, but with comics retail there's still something to be said for that in-person experience or, as my friend Don was so fond of saying when we worked at Psycomic, "People want to touch the books."

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Well, another year down. This was a pretty good year for me. Though I'd like it if I had a job with more of a future and a little bit more money, it was kind of nice working a job where I felt like what I did made a difference, like I was good at what I did and I actually liked going to work. I don't know how long I can keep being assistant manager of a comic-book shop without feeling like I've wasted both my college degree and all my youth on a job with no future, but I'm hoping to hold out at least one more year.

No moves or surprise surgeries or anything like that this year, which was nice. We started in Austin, we stayed in Austin. In fact, the only really major upheaval was a positive one, because this is the year my daughter Katy was born. Everything you hear about "it will change your life" is absolutely 100% true. But not in the way you expect. My routine, dull as it is, remains pretty much the same. Reviews on the off-time, work, weekly gaming with friends, the occasional movie... but every single thing I do now, in the back of my head, I'm doing it as a father. There is not a moment that goes by that Katy isn't in my thoughts, and it's kind of amazing.

The other big moment that sticks out for me in 2003 is San Diego. It was a blast getting to hang out in person with Don again, and for that matter getting to reconnect with all the people that I know in and around comics. There are so many negative things about this industry, and so many people (including me, on some days) are cynical about the whole thing, saying that the industry needs to die for the comics medium to survive... but I can't help but remember how much fun I had at San Diego, and how much of that was down to the community that sprung up in this industry, and I still think the positives outweigh the negatives.

My predictions for 2004? I don't have any, really. I have hopes (I dearly hope someone else is President-elect after November), I have plans (alphabetical archives for The Fourth Rail, even if it kills me to do all the hand-coding), I have guaranteed moments of joy (Katy learning to walk, and *maybe* saying her first word?)... but no predictions.
Finding Nemo DVD:
So my Christmas was really good, and most of my gifts were of the DVD variety. (Which was fine by me.) I've been spending some time recently watching some of them, although I'm not even remotely close to getting through them yet. I'll probably still be watching Christmas DVDs when my birthday rolls around in April. So far, I've watched the movie of Pirates of the Caribbean, the first disc (cartoons only) of the fantastic Golden Looney Tunes collection and, as the title of this post would indicate, Finding Nemo. In addition to rewatching the film, which *might* be my favorite Pixar movie ever, I just watched the "visual commentary" tonight.

This is the kind of thing that makes DVDs worth buying. There are three voices on the commentary track itself, but using seamless branching technology, the film breaks off between 5-15 minutes at a time and shows little bits of behind-the-scenes, ranging from a video of Ellen Degeneres speaking whale to CG animators talking about a particular technique. The result is that you feel like you're taking part in an intelligent and thorough discussion of the making of the movie, even as you can compare what they're talking about to the finished product. It might be the best commentary I've ever seen.

Along with the Behind the Scenes featurette and the general quality of Pixar movies, it just reaffirms something for me: If everyone put the same amount of passion and hard work, and had as much fun and investment, in making their movies as Pixar does, there would be no bad movies. Also, I've decided that I would like to work at Pixar when I grow up. Shame I have absolutely no skills that would be applicable to such a job, huh? ;)