Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Blog Template Update for July

This is the latest monthly update to the left column of the blog, updating my favorite comics and TV for the previous month. The listings are alphabetical, not by rank of how much I liked them in comparison. My criteria for what makes the list is when I read them, not necessarily when they were published. This is basically also my own records of what I read/liked for the inevitable "End of Year" lists I feel like making.

Wow, was July a great month for comics. Huge, huge weeks every week, almost. I didn't even read everything available in the last week of July, so it's possible some of that stuff might pop up in August. With the announcement of The Spirit ending (yeah, I know it continues beyond #12, but without Darwyn Cooke, I can't imagine anyone making it work), there's not much hope for DC in my Top 20 future. Even amongst those that didn't make the cut, there's only one DC book, by Mark Waid and George Perez. However, five of them are Vertigo (well, one Wildstorm), which means DC the company still owns 25% of my Top 20. So does Marvel, actually, based on all four of the Annihilation books (I love Conquest) and the first issue of The Order. There are also five books on my "just missed it" list from Marvel. I hate to admit it, but Marvel has my attention right now. Then again, Dark Horse has 25% of the list too, with two of their four Star Wars books (and all of them are good), the always-excellent BPRD, the short but sweet Grendel Behold the Devil and a fantastic standalone Buffy the Vampire Slayer issue. The other 25%? Mostly Image, with one Oni book for flavor. Either I'm missing a lot of good indy books (and I don't think I am), or July was a month where not many indys were published. There were three books (Green Arrow Year One #1, Repo #2 and Spirit #8) that would have made the cut in almost any other month, and then there are exceptionally good books like Brave And The Bold #5, Captain America #28, Hack Slash Series #3, Invincible #44, Marvel Adventures Hulk #1, New Warriors #2, Runaways #27 (yep, back on board), X-Men First Class Vol. 2 #2 and Zero Killer #1. Postcards and Silverfish nearly made the graphic novel cut, but I didn't read many more. Must have been the gigantic Harry Potter book I read that took my time.

Or maybe it was TV. I've started to really love Burn Notice, although I'd probably love it more if it were on F/X and truer to its source material instead of all USA'ed up. Still digging John From Cincinnati, but wondering if it's going anywhere. Big Love picked up for me a bit, but still isn't good enough to keep HBO if there wasn't something else I really wanted. Which Entourage isn't either, at this point. They're sliding down to the level of "good enough," which works for regular TV but not pay cable. Fortunately, I've grown addicted to movies on demand and I really liked Bill Maher's latest stand-up special, and I still want to like shows as much as I liked Deadwood, Sopranos, early Entourage, etc. Also still watching The 4400 and Rescue Me, though I probably wouldn't be if they were competing with a wider variety of stuff to watch. And with the addition of a bigger TV to my office, I've added Countdown, Daily Show and Colbert Report back into the background TV rotation. Still catching up on the rest of Freaks and Geeks as well. Also have the first DVD of Sandbaggers and Eureka, but haven't watched either yet.

A few new feeds this month. There's the shiny new Savage Critics site (so good I'm jealous), Ben Templesmith, John Hodgman, The Newshole (Keith Olbermann's site), The Process (Joe Infurnari's webcomic), Transmission-X (a webcomics site that features a lot of really good artists). I also added a new "Top 10" blogs for the ones that I read first, every time there's a new entry in Google Reader.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Weekly Comics to Come - July 25, 2007

Kind of bummed that three of the Image hardcovers I was hoping to get before San Diego (Invincible 3, Godland 1 and Elephantmen) didn't make their (already late) ship dates, but it's still a pretty good week.

Of course, I'll be on a plane, so I probably won't read most of these this week.

American Virgin Vol 2 Going Down TP (I've become more and more pleased with this book as it keeps going, and I'm looking forward to re-reading the second arc in trade)
Annihilation Conquest Star Lord #1 (Maybe the best Conquest yet, with a "Dirty Dozen" in space feel)
Multiple Warheads #1 (Awesome, hilarious, imaginative work from Brandon Graham)
Postcards True Stories That Never Happened HC (Looking forward to this anthology, which has a great talent line-up)
Pulphope SC (I've gotten an early peek at my copy, and this thing looks amazing)

Batman #666 (Morrison's Batman has been a bit disappointing, but anti-Christ vs. future Batman? OK, I'm there)
Black Summer #1 (Warren Ellis murders superheroes... not particularly interested, but that's what I thought about Thunderbolts too)
Buffy The Vampire Slayer #5 (Standalone about a Buffy stand-in, I think this'll be a good read)
Doktor Sleepless #1 (Warren Ellis revisiting weird science/future ala Transmet? Now that I'm interested in)
Dust #1 (Nice Dave Dorman-esque art, alt-WWII/sci-fi concept from Image)
Fear Agent Last Goodbye #2 (First issue was great, a look at an alien invasion from the ground level)
Green Arrow Year One #2 (Solid first issue, hoping for more action in the second)
Grendel Behold The Devil #0 (It'll be short and cheap, but it's great to see new Matt Wagner Grendel after all these years)
Hellboy Darkness Calls #4 (Loving this series more with each issue, and Fegredo's art is stunning)
Hiding In Time #1 (Witness protection via time travel... great concept)
Immortal Iron Fist #7 (Very much onboard this book after #6, I believe this is a standalone about a female Iron Fist in 15th century China)
Incredible Hulk #108 (Actually digging Pak's Hulk more than World War Hulk itself)
Invincible #44 (Digging this book again almost at the level I was in the beginning)
Love And Capes #5 (Fun, sweet, great cartooning, looking forward to another issue... and to getting a Love and Capes Toon Tumbler!)
Previews Vol XVII #8 (Down the Line will most likely be delayed a week by San Diego)
Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic #18 (I'm enjoying all of the Star Wars books right now... KOTOR is my least favorite, and it's still pretty damn good)
Usagi Yojimbo #104 (Last couple issues of this have been great, even by Sakai's high standards)
Walking Dead #39 (Wow, lot of books I'd gone off for a while that have pulled me back... issue #38 was really good, and I'm interested in seeing what's next)
X-men First Class Vol 2 #2 (Loved the first issue of this... this issue is also good, if not as great as that one)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Clueless Emmy Voters Strike Again

Honestly, I'm so worn out by the bizarre Emmy choices every year I don't even have a good rant in me about it. There were a few pleasant surprises, but far too many snubs and too many "He got nominated for 24? But all he does is squint and yell!" type moments.

For more elaboration, most of which I agree with 100%, I point you to two of my favorite TV critics, Melanie McFarland and Alan Sepinwall.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Nate Southard, even knowing full well that my music tastes are nowhere near as defined as my tastes in comics, movies and TV, has tagged me with this meme, wherein I list my "my top 5 side 1, track 1 songs." Since I last had vinyl when I was about 14 (I won 6 albums from a radio station, including ZZ Top's Afterburner, Tears for Fears and some other stuff, none of it great), and I am strictly digital music now, what you've got is me searching my iTunes for Track 1 songs, organizing them by my star rating, and guessing around from there. Weep in shared shame at my utter lack of music sophistication!

1. American Idiot - Green Day, American Idiot
2. Sure Shot - Beastie Boys, Ill Communication
3. Beverly Hills - Weezer, Make Believe
4. All My Life - Foo Fighters, One by One
5. The Comeback - Shout Out Louds, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff

And just for fun, here's all the stuff I came up with that didn't make the Top 5:
Let's Go Crazy - Prince, Purple Rain
Helter Skelter - U2, Rattle and Hum
Beers, Steers & Queers - Revolting Cocks, Beers, Steers & Queers
Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen, Greatest Hits
Mess Around - Ray Charles, Ultimate Hits Collection
Invincible - OK Go, Oh No
Lapdance - N.E.R.D., In Search Of
Loser - Beck, Mellow Gold
Are You Gonna Be My Girl - Jet, Jet
Stitched Up (Featuring John Mayer) - Herbie Hancock, Possibilities
Smack My Bitch Up - Prodigy, Fat of the Land
Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison
Immigrant Song - Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin III
Hells Bells - AC/DC, Back in Black
Someone to Love - Fountains of Wayne, Traffic and Weather
Angry Anthem - The Forces of Evil, Friend or Foe?
I Feel You - Depeche Mode, Songs of Faith & Devotion
Satan is my Motor - Cake, Prolonging the Magic
Who Was In My Room Last Night? - Butthole Surfers, Independent Worm Saloon

Now I guess I'm supposed to tag people... people with blogs. But I don't know that many people with blogs, so I'm wussing out on that part. How about this... any of you out there who are reading and have blogs, tag yourself, email me a link and then I can later edit this and claim that I tagged you. :)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Weekly Comics to Come - July 18, 2007

Holy crap does this look like a good week. I could have made a Top 15 of books I'm excited to read. In fact, what the hell, it's my blog, that's what I'm doing this week. And even the stuff in "The Rest" is really good. It's gonna be a good week.

Annihilation Conquest Quasar #1 (Another strong chapter in Annihilation, as Christos Gage does a riff on the chosen one in space with the new female Quasar and Moondragon)
Hood Blood From Stones Premiere HC (Great under-the-radar mini from Brian Vaughan and Kyle Hotz collected in new hardcover)
Intersections HC (Art book from Sean Phillips & Duncan Fegredo... I'm getting the hardcover, but there's a softcover available as well)
Super Villain Team Up Modoks 11 #1 (Fred Van Lente does a supervillain heist... sounds like fun)
Zero Killer #1 (Post-apocalyptic series from Dark Horse, artwork looks gorgeous and teaser in FCBD book was good)

Bone Vol 6 Old Mans Cave Color Ed SC (Getting closer to a complete set of color Bone)
Flight Vol 4 GN (Another volume of the always-impressive and gorgeous anthology)
Highwaymen #2 (First issue was a really strong action book, looking forward to #2)
Monster Attack Network GN (Same writers as Highwaymen, giant monsters vs. military attack squads... I'm in)
Spirit #8 (Darwyn Cooke returns!)

Captain America #28 (Very good, it's amazing how good the book can be even when the title character has been dead for three issues... the credit goes to Brubaker, Perkins, Epting and the rest of the creative team)
Giant Sized Marvel Adventures Avengers #1 (Agents of Atlas by Parker & Kirk is enough... that it also features Parker's Avengers is a bonus)
Goon #19 (Yay, the Goon returns! After the hilary of Satan's Sodomy Baby, I'm regular for a regular dose of Powell's madness and beautiful art again)
Repo #2 (Another strong first issue, can't wait to see the follow-up... Rick Spears, Rob. G, hells yeah)
Terminator 2 Infinity #1 (Curious to see how Dynamite does with a property I've always liked... their Lone Ranger take bodes well)

Avengers Initiative #4 (Decent World War Hulk tie-in... book is still in the "solid enough" camp for me, not much more, but I'll keep reading)
Brave And The Bold #5 (Last issue lost me a bit, hope this one regains my interest the way it had it in the first two or three issues)
Hack Slash Series #3 (Enjoying this on a regular basis)
Hot Mexican Love Comics 2007 (Trying this on a whim, I liked some of the creators involved if I recall correctly)
Lone Ranger #7 (Want to catch up on this one, as soon as I read the trade)
Marvel Adventures Hulk #1 (Written by my friend Paul Benjamin, and the art I've seen looks great.)
Programme #1 (Soviet super-soldiers from Peter Milligan and CP Smith)
Scarface Devil In Disguise #1 (The origin of Tony Montana... with nice looking art)
Screw Heaven When I Die Im Going To Mars Tp (Shannon Wheeler gets a new collection of cartoons)
Shazam The Monster Society Of Evil #4 (Jeff Smith finishes up his Shazam story)
Star Wars Dark Times #4 (It's late, but the art and story are always worth it)
Strange Embrace #2 (More creepy weird stuff from David Hine)
The Order #1 (Fun, if not knocked out of the park fun, first issue)
Thunderbolts Desperate Measures (Paul Jenkins, creator of Penance, writes. This makes me nervous, but it's Thunderbolts, it's art by Steve Lieber, and it features a character named Americop. I've got to at least give it a look)
Weapon #2 (First issue was kind of old school fun, flawed but entertaining)
World War Hulk #2 (Not completely onboard, but curious enough to see where it's going)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Well, that's one way to deal with the hotel shortage...

This is gloriously insane. And I love it. Kudos, Jonah... you have raised the bar for all the other sites in terms of both impressive spectacle and imaginative logistics for the show.

I'll definitely be tuning in to those videos.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Weekly Comics to Come - July 11, 2007

Annihilation Conquest Wraith #1 (So far, Annihilation Conquest is shaping up to be *better* than the original Annihilation, which is pretty impressive... the new character in this mini is interesting, and has great visuals courtesy of Kyle Hotz)
Bprd Garden Of Souls #5 (The latest BPRD mini concludes... fantastic, as always. Guy Davis is one of my favorite artists, and he just keeps getting better)
DMZ #21 (The latest in Wood's "Rashomon" style look at a civilian massacre in occupied New York, with Burchielli taking over full art duties on this chapter)
Fables #63 (The Flycatcher arc has been the best one in quite a while, last issue was terrific)
Nova #4 (Impressive new series, and the tie-in to Annihilation Conquest is a great read with a bit of a shocking twist)

Clubbing GN (The latest Minx offering, written by Andi Watson with art by Josh Howard)
Fallen Angel Premiere Collection HC (Oversized collection of the IDW Fallen Angel, and I'm curious to give it a shot)
Green Arrow Year One #1 (Diggle & Jock team up for what is sure to be a low spandex, high action look at Green Arrow's origin)
Guardian Alpha One Shot (It's a line of multi-cultural Christian all-ages comics, which is interesting and different enough... but one of the guys behind it is Michael Davis, of Milestone Comics, which I loved... I'll give it a look)
Naoki Urasawas Monster Vol 9 (Great suspense manga, new chapter)
Rex Libris TP (Space librarian tale from Slave Labor)
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #20 (The final McKeever issue, curious to see his ending)
Star Wars Rebellion #8 (Loving this crime/espionage take on Star Wars)
Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen #1 (At last, Colbert's goofy sci-fi parody comes to comics)
Superman Confidential #5 (Also running late, curious to see how the Cooke/Sale story wraps)
True Story Swear To God Vol 1 TP (This would rank higher, except that I've already read everything in it... but it's great)
Uncle Sam And The Freedom Fighters TP (Liked what I read of this, decided to wait for the trade to read it complete... and here it is)
Xombie #3 (Surprisingly fun zombie/adventure story based on a webcomic, from Devil's Due)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

My Latest Entertainment

Over the past few days, I've watched one movie, seen one new TV show and read three big 'ol hardcovers. Two of them were things I've been anticipating that I was pretty pleased with, the other was a pleasant surprise that I picked up on thanks to good buzz.

Burn Notice (USA) - I'll be honest, despite enjoying The 4400, I don't really think of USA as a place for really great TV. So I wasn't overly hyped for Burn Notice, about a spy who gets "burned" by his agency and forced to stay in Miami, leading to him becoming something of a private detective/do-gooder with his skills.

But it turns out, the first episode was pretty damn good. Nice voiceover, some good wit, solid action, believable tradecraft and good writing and action overall. I watched it a couple days ago and I've been anxiously checking the Tivo for a new episode since, which means it's hooked me pretty good. Well worth checking out, and if you're the type of person for whom this is a plus, Bruce Campbell is in it.

Transformers - I know, I know, shut up. But really, despite a pretty awful script and Michael Bay's ADD direction, this was pretty good at what it set out to do. I mean, I think it could have actually been a really good popcorn movie all the way through, as opposed to a weak movie that effectively pushed my giant robot/action movie fan buttons, but I can't deny that in general, the movie kept me smiling, especially when the robots were on screen. A couple really good action sequences on the road and in the air, and Peter Cullen doing the voice for Optimus Prime, helped a lot. Fun, and I can even see picking up the DVD to skip ahead and watch the action sequences from time to time. When the inevitable sequel comes out, I'll go and see it. Especially if there are different writers and a different director.

I've been meaning to read Annihilation now that all three hardcovers are out, and finally got the chance to do so today. As it turns out, this is a pretty kickass superhero/space adventure epic. The miniseries are much stronger collected in one place, where you can see how they directly feed into the main story, and the main story has the exact scope I would hope for. Big explosive comics at their best, kicks the hell out of Infinite Crisis, Civil War and House of M combined.

Weekly Comics to Come - July 5, 2007

Delayed a day by Independence Day. Another large-ish week, although mostly that's because there's a ton of manga.

Astounding Wolf-Man Directors Cut #1 & #2 (Really dug this new series at Free Comic Book Day, and I've had the chance to read #2 and it's just as good)
Captain America War & Remembrance Tp (Fantastic collection of Roger Stern/John Byrne Cap... my second favorite run after Gruenwald)
True Story Swear To God Image Ed #7 (Tom reacts to online reviews of his first book, which means I get to be on a page of the story, which is kind of cool... but not the reason I'm looking forward to reading the book - I just love the book)
Usagi Yojimbo Vol 21 Mother Of Mountains TP (Always glad to see more Usagi in trade, wish the whole thing was in print more often)
Y The Last Man #57 (As the book gets closer to its end, I'm really anxious to see the conclusion)

All Star Superman #8 (The end of the first two-parter the book has done)
American Virgin #16 (Always great, love the art especially)
Batman Ego And Other Tales HC (Collection of great Darwyn Cooke work)
Battle O/t Bands (Fun looking manga from Steve Buccellato, it's on my reading table now)
Damned Vol 1 Three Days Dead TP (Demons meet prohibition gangsters... great read, terrific art by Brian Hurtt)
Dynamo 5 #5 (Not only is it a good read, it's a new series that comes out on time, which is especially nice)
Faker #1 (Intrigued by this college/horror story from Mike Carey and Jock)
New Warriors #2 (Second issue is a pretty solid follow-up to the first)
Runaways #27 (Back onboard a little, as Whedon's take on a super-powered turn of the century L.A. is kind of fun)
Silverfish HC (Lapham's Vertigo OGN... this would make my top five, except we were allocated so I'll probably have to wait a week or two to read it)
Union Jack London Falling TP (Solid action series in the Brubaker Cap vein by Gage and Perkins)
War Angels Vol 1 (Don't remember much, but Tokyopop's giving it a big push, and the visuals looked interesting)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

My Wife's Birthday

Today is my wife's birthday. There are a lot of things I love about my wife, but a few struck me right about the time I was going to bed, and I figured I'd put them up here on my blog, since I know she reads it.

1. She's intelligent - I love that when she writes in her blog, she'll drop words like hubris. Or that she picks up all this weird, interesting knowledge from Discovery Channel, various podcasts and reading the Internet and books.

2. She's tough - Seeing what she went through during the birth of our son just re-affirmed this, which I already knew. I was scared for her during the whole post-birth ordeal, but I watched her fight to stay awake, and worry about staying awake, even when she was in a whole lot of pain and the midst of a lot of confusion. And I know she'll fight like hell for her kids. Even in a lot of pain, on a lot of drugs, she wouldn't sign the form to admit Aaron over to the hospital. She knew she wanted to think about it. I was fully conscious, and I don't know if I would have thought about it before I just signed whatever they were putting in front of me.

3. She's understanding - While I stay up way too late every night, catching up on TV and the Internet, she doesn't gripe at me about coming to bed late. And even though she's got two kids to watch over, she lets me sleep in in the mornings, keeping my weird schedule of doing stuff at night and starting the day in the early afternoon.

4. She's principled - My wife will fight for her principles. She thinks about why she believes what she does, she'll argue those principles even with people who probably won't ever change their minds. I can sometimes have a hard time arguing with people, because I just don't care enough to change their minds, or I don't want to bother thinking about and defending my positions. I haven't ever seen Suzanne have that problem.

5. She gives me strength - Since I married Suzanne, I've had to take a leap of faith at a dream job by moving halfway across the country, I've had to suffer through some very unpleasant surgery, I've had plenty of job stress and I've worried about who knows how many small things. Knowing that she's there with me, that I've always got someone to talk to, makes it all possible.

Happy birthday, Suzanne. I love you.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Blog Template Update for June

This is the latest monthly update to the left column of the blog, updating my favorite comics and TV for the previous month. The listings are alphabetical, not by rank of how much I liked them in comparison. My criteria for what makes the list is when I read them, not necessarily when they were published. This is basically also my own records of what I read/liked for the inevitable "End of Year" lists I feel like making.

As with May, it was a good month for comics. There was a fair amount of stuff that would have easily made a top 10 in a different month, including Elephantmen Pilot, two issues of Jack of Fables, Marvel Adventures Iron Man #2, Spirit #7, Strange Embrace #1, Walking Dead #38 and White Picket Fences #2. I didn't read quite as many graphic novels, but pretty much everything I read was really good.

May was a really good month for TV... June was a pretty suck month. I'm more on the "naysayer" vibe on The Sopranos finale (though it wasn't unexpected that it would lack any kind of closure), Big Love is kind of boring me in its second season and Entourage, while still enjoyable, may have peaked with season two's Aquaman/Mandy Moore story. Although the season four opening episode was pretty good. Rescue Me and The 4400 are both shows I like, but don't love. Haven't watched Flight of the Conchords at HBO yet (although several critics I respect dug it, so I might have to give it a shot on HBO In-Demand), but I have been digging the hell out of John From Cincinnati. In fact, it's easily my favorite show of the moment. I still miss Deadwood and think it's unfortunate Milch and HBO couldn't give that show a season or two more to wrap on its own, but John From Cincinnati has an interesting cast, a weird vibe I like and that Milch-esque dialogue, along with HBO's stellar production values. Makes me want to check out some of Kem Nunn's novels, actually.

With TV being so lame, I've turned to DVD a bit more. I'm finally watching all of Freaks and Geeks, based on my love of Knocked Up, 40-Year-Old Virgin and Undeclared, and while I'm still not as gaga over it as many of its fans, it is a really enjoyable show. I also got the complete Kitchen Confidential, and I think Fox was too quick on the trigger on that one. Good cast, funny writing, unusual setting... it wasn't a great sitcom, but it was a solidly good one. That still only fills up 7 slots on the Top 10 TV this month, and there just aren't any more. The only other things I've watched have been stuff I've put on in the background in my office while I'm working, like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (three times so far, I love this movie), Serenity and Beverly Hills Cop I & II.

Didn't have a ton of new feeds this month, but I've gotten to the point where I've started unsubscribing from some of my feeds because I don't have time to read them all, so there probably won't be a lot added. But I was delighted to jump onto the LOLcats bandwagon by adding the "I Can Has Cheezburger?" feed, which provides a guaranteed unicorn chaser in lolcat form everyday (OK, that's about as much leet-speak as a 36-year-old man is allowed in a month, and I apologize). Also added a blogger who linked to me on Comic Pants and/or Inside Joke Theatre and then I found their stuff and liked it, Noetic Concordance and added the new RSS feed for comic artist Mike Wieringo. Also, I can't believe it took me so long to add The Savage Critic to my RSS feeds. It's one of my favorite reads each day, and I agree with about 90% of the reviews there.