Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Heroes: OK, Who Still Cares?

I don't know how these little recaps of mine turned into a weekly thing, or how many people are actually reading them. At this point, it's more like venting my anger at a good (and potentially great) show that has become not just weak, but actually bad. If I hadn't invested a seasons' worth of interest already, if this were a new show, I would have given up a couple of episodes ago. As is, I think I've got one, maybe two more episodes like the ones we've been given before I give up anyway.

So I won't have a lot to say this time because honestly, the show isn't really worth that much time. I'll just say this:

*Kristen Bell introduced one week, then she doesn't show up next week so we can get more time-traveling Hiro (in a predictable, and predictably weakly shot and scripted development in his painfully extended time travel detour), more Maya/Alejandro (seriously, if Sylar doesn't kill one of them soon, I'm just going to start fast forwarding through their sequences) and more Claire/West high school drama. Also missing? The only interesting story, about the murders of the supers of the past, and thus any glimpse of Parkman and Petrelli. So basically, extra doses of the three irritating new characters, no glimpse of the three most interesting characters and no check-in at all on the plot I actually care about. Bleh.

*I was out of town, so I was watching the show live, not on Tivo. I fell asleep for about 10-15 minutes there. When I woke up, I didn't feel as if I'd missed anything. Not a good sign.

*Cool to say HRG being all badass, but it's in service to a lame story about some "forgotten" paintings by Isaac, another repetitive element from last season. Also repetitive, the big reveal at the end of the episode and the promise of an "alternate future" episode next week. I'm beginning to suspect they took the scripts from last season and just gave them a touch-up, rather than creating a whole new season.

*Does anyone give a shit whether Clare is a cheerleader or not? Anyone? Just checking. Because I sure don't. They need to get her the hell away from high school and the hell away from dreamy annoying boyfriend dude.

The show is spending all its time exploring questions I don't care about the answers to, and letting the few interesting questions they've managed to accidentally raise linger and die a slow, unattended death. This show needs major surgery, and soon.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Weekly Comics to Come - October 31, 2007

Chiaroscuro HC (Fantastic little indy gem that vanished and is now back as a complete hardcover. Can't wait to read all of it, it was a strange and compelling book)
Dynamo 5 #8 (Picking up where the trade left off, and after re-reading the trade recently, I'm really ready for more)
Mouse Guard Winter 1152 #2 (First issue was great, maybe even better than the first series... looking forward to more)
Perry Bible Fellowship Trial Of Colonel Sweeto HC (Probably the funniest, weirdest comic on the Internet, and the book is reportedly very well put together)
True Story Swear To God Image Ed #9 (One of my absolute favorite series, and each issue confirms why I feel that way)

3 Minute Sketchbook TP (Fun concept, fun sketches, I'll check this out)
American Virgin #20 (I'm so pissed this is being canceled. Not surprised, really, it's a weird book that's not for everyone, and the market just doesn't have room for those books right now. But c'mon, they couldn't have given them up to issue #25?)
Annihilation Conquest Quasar #4 (Good finale, nice reveal on the mysterious savior, weird continuity glitch with Wraith)
Biff Bam Pow #1 (Wow, you wanna talk about late. Two years or so this was announced. Still, it's Evan Dorkin and Sara Dyer, and will no doubt be entertaining. But jeez... indy people wonder where the sales went? When your timeliness makes Ultimates look punctual, you lose everyone but your hardcore readers)
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Long Way Home TP (On balance, I think I decided I don't want to buy this series for re-reading... but it's a good read if you're a Buffy fan at all)
Daredevil Annual #1 (Reads like a pilot for a Black Tarantula miniseries, scripted by Ande Parks with art by Leandro Fernandez... and after reading it, I'm *totally* game for said miniseries)
DC Infinite Halloween Special #1 (Features work by Mark Waid, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Steve Seagle. Also features work by Dan Didio. Also features DnA returning to Resurrection Man. On balance, probably mostly gonna suck but will have a couple *great* stories, if I had to guess)
El Cazador Vol 1 TP (Disney reprints Crossgen's fallen pirate series... please let this be the start of a comic book continuation)
Flash Wonderland TP (The first Geoff Johns Flash... misses Kolins, but Unzueta's work is solid, and it lays down a lot of important foundation stuff. Plus it's just kinda fun)
Immortal Iron Fist Vol 1 TP (Fraction, Brubaker & Aja's kung-fu cool book comes to softcover... and now I want to hold out for a giant sized hardcover of two volumes)
Jack Of Fables #16 (Caught up on the series in the second trade, now I need to get caught back up in singles)
Primordia #1 (New fantasy book from Archaia, looks like great art)
Special Forces #1 (Kyle Baker's very late Image book about lowest common denominator soldiers. Probably very funny with great cartooning)
Tales Of The Fear Agent 12 Steps In One (Fear Agent one shot by a different creative team... I'm always digging the Fear Agent)
Wasteland #13 (I've sort of moved to reading trades on this one, honestly... but I'm anxiously awaiting the next trade)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Heroes Episode 5: Still Better, Still Not Great

This was the best episode of Heroes Season Two so far. It actually has me legitimately excited to come back next week and see what happens next. It doesn't hurt that Maya, Alejandro and stalker boyfriend West were entirely absent, that Kristen Bell was entirely present, and that the Matt Parkman/Nathan Petrelli and Monica/Micah teams are probably the most interesting ones on the show. Hell, even the Hiro subplot, while still boring and contrived (with his time travel/teleportation powers, why can't they go *past* the army, instead of through it?), was watchable. Still, here come the gripes (and a few kudos):

*When one of your producers can't spell "lightning" and instead spells it either "lightening" (that'd be making it lighter) or "lighting" (that'd be making it brighter)? Yeah, that doesn't look so good.

*Also, lightning hands? Cool power. Introducing that power by having the girl talk to herself and fire a few sparks at a nearby cargo shipping container? Laaaaammme. Jeez, reveal the power when she fries a member of the Lucky Charms gang, at least that would have been cool.

*Kristen Bell is doing good stuff with what little they've given her, though. Some of that Veronica Mars sass in the hands of a much more wicked girl. I *loved* her "Yeah, OK I killed him" conversation with "Daddy" and I'm dying to know who "Daddy" is. Easily the best new character of the season. No shock there. No pun intended.

*Second best new character, though, is definitely Monica. She and Micah have a great rapport (and the kid who plays Micah is one of the best kid actors on TV), she has a cool power and I like that they're instantly going into "What do we do now" mode rather than having her spend three episodes denying her powers.

*Unlike, say, Peter, who is still pissing about in Ireland, with the writers' mistakenly believing we give a shit if they kill any (or indeed all) of the gangster/bar owner characters they've introduced this season.

*Parkman's dad? Great stuff. I was totally buying his act until the second he was revealed, and I thought the reveal of what was going on with Matt Parkman and Nathan Petrelli and the mindgames was very well shot.

*Also digging the stuff with The Company, with Stephen Tobolowsky being great as always, and I loved Mohinder and Nikki interacting, if only briefly.

Overall, while it's worth noting (as EW did) that at this point in the last season, we got that kickass, electrifying moment in the subway between future Hiro and Peter, and thus Heroes Season Two is still too slow and disappointing, this was a promising upturn. The real grade is probably still a C or a C-, but if you grade on a curve against the rest of the season, this was a B, maybe a B+ episode. Here's hoping it continues to improve, and faster, each week.


Bush wants $42.3 billion for war, says we can get the money by not giving healthcare to poor children (OK, I made that last part up, he actually just thinks war money falls from the sky. In other news, Congress, please don't fuck up again and let these guys declare war on Iran, OK?)

I'm quoted in the New York Times. Which is kinda cool. Even if they flubbed the name (and link) to the site.

Max Riffner (winner of the 2006 Isotope Mini-Comic Award) has a 24 Hour Comic. It is about a werewolf. And it is a lot of fun.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Weekly Comics to Come - October 24, 2007

Proof #1 (FBI Special Agent Bigfoot. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. A very promising, very cool new Image series)
She-Hulk 2 #22 (First issue by Peter David and Shawn Moll... and it's kind of awesome, actually)
Spirit Vol 1 HC (First six issues of Eisner's Spirit in hardcover... hoping for cool extras)
Thunderbolts #117 (Still really cool, great use of Doc Samson)
X-men First Class Vol 2 #5 (X-Men vs. the Hulk, Roger Cruz's best art yet, Parker in fine form as always)

Annihilation Conquest Wraith #4 (Good finale, can't wait for Annihilation Conquest)
Avengers Assemble Vol 5 HC (Concluding the Busiek Avengers run)
Crawl Space Xxxombies #1 ('70s porno zombies by Rick Remender and Kieron Dwyer)
Daredevil #101 (Great issue, but I'm disliking the direction Milla's story is going in, and I *hate* that the character on the last page is in this book)
Fear Agent Last Goodbye #4 (Last issue of the best Fear Agent so far)
Flash #233 (Second issue was kinda weak, but Waid's kicking a lot of ass on Brave & The Bold and I really want to like this book)
Foolkiller #1 (Not expecting a lot, but I like the character)
Green Arrow Year One #6 (Finale of the action-packed Diggle/Jock book)
Hack Slash Series #5 (The latest in Tim Seeley's fun horror/action book)
Jack Of Fables Vol 2 Jack Of Hearts TP (Yay! Second trade! Spinoff as good as the main book)
Killer #5-6 (From a retail point of view, super-late + double shipping is highly annoying. As a reader of The Killer, though? I'm OK with it)
Marvel Adventures Iron Man #6 (Space armor... rock)
Marvel Zombies Covers HC (After Marvel Zombies 2 and 52 Covers last week, I'm pretty much right in the mood for this)
Neozoic #1 (Alternate universe where humans live alongside dinosaurs, with great art)
Potters Field #2 (Second issue of Waid's modern day pulp hero... I'm already wishing it was an ongoing series)
Previews Vol XVII #11 (Down the Line is in the works)
Star Wars Dark Times #6 (New story arc, new art by Luke Ross, probably still the same great comic)
Transformers Devastation #2 (Big things happening in IDW's Transformers line)
Walking Dead #43 (After that cliffhanger last time? Can't wait)
Warhammer 40k Blood & Thunder #1 (Orks talk funny and blow shit up)
Warhammer Forge Of War #4 (Caught up on Boom!'s fantasy comic recently, and now I'm really digging the stories of all the soldiers and mages who lost a really big battle and what happened after)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Being Unsurprised Doesn't Equal Not Being Pissed Off

So the House failed to override Bush's veto of the childcare health program.

It's been clear that this was the way the wind was blowing for a while, but I'm still pissed to see it actually confirmed. Despite polls showing that 60% of Americans favored the increase (and we should be ashamed as a country that the number isn't higher), Bush and his cronies stood up and knocked back a chance to increase funding for childrens' health insurance by $35 million. Bush, in what can only be considered a condescending tone, offers up $5 million as his ceiling. Considerably less than we're spending on his war.

Silver lining, this is probably going to screw pretty heavily with Republicans running for election or re-election. Downside of course being that the Democrats aren't much better, and I'm a regime change in 2008 isn't going to help the families who are going to have to struggle with their kid's healthcare costs because Bush and those who voted with him are somehow terrified that socialized medicine will destroy America.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Seems to me it's been a pretty good year for Marvel. If you just ignore all the stupidity and misogyny going on in the Bendis corner of the universe (and I've surgically removed my Avengers love until somebody else is running that show), there's been World War Hulk and Incredible Hulk, a perfect mix of modern pop thrills and actual appreciation for the characters and history, hipster superheroes from Brubaker, Fraction and Ellis, the kickass cosmic epic Annihilation: Conquest and just solid post-Civil War superheroes in books like New Warriors. Sure, the X-Men are basically dull and lifeless, but really, Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely and company might have been the last hurrah for those characters. When even Ed Brubaker and Joss Whedon can't make 'em interesting to me, there's something wrong with that subset of the universe or with me. Allowing that it might be me, and I might just be tired of the X-Men, there's still a whole lot of readable (and strong selling) books at Marvel.

They've made best sellers out of the Hulk, Moon Knight and Iron Fist. I've loved these characters for a long time, but I didn't think anyone else would.

So what's the first thing they do, when they've got a good buzz going, Hulk is a cool character again, and folks want to read about him? They hand him over to Jeph Loeb, whose Wolverine arc was... well, calling it a trainwreck is being kind. Here's Paul O'Brien to explain.

And what does Loeb do? Well, in a move that seems more in line with DC than Marvel, he's starting off with a murder mystery involving "one of Hulk's oldest cast members." Hands up, anyone guessing it'll be a perfectly good female character. If your hand isn't up, you probably haven't been reading superhero comics lately. Maybe I'm wrong, though, and they'll just off Rick Jones or someone else who no doubt has more potential in him/her than this lame duck of a story.

Oh, and the Hulk? He's big, and red, and puffy, and looks like something you'd see watching Adult Swim while tripping on acid. And there's a mystery about who the character is. Because having just established Hulk in his classic look, with a new and badass personality and motivation, and a movie on the way starring Ed Freakin' Norton, the first thing you want to do is change *everything* about the character. After all, it worked out so well for Wolverine.

But maybe I should give Loeb the benefit of the doubt. After all, remember his Superman/Batman? And how it made absolutely no sense? Hmm. Well, what about his work with Rob Liefeld? Oof. OK, but what about his work on Wolverine?

If Tim Sale were involved, I'd have reason to be at least a little bit hopeful, as Loeb/Sale bring out the best in one another, and their collaborations always raise Loeb's game, occasionally (as with his Daredevil: Yellow) to an A-level. But this looks just awful.

And worse, 2007 has seen a Marvel Universe with no Mark Millar, and Millar is gleefully announcing he's going to save the company (presumably from making sense and having characters instead of indistinguishable action puppets) by having five books at Marvel next year. Yikes.

With these developments looming and the ugly-ass gun-toting new Cap, I'm starting to get a bad feeling about Marvel '08, at least in terms of my own interest. And DC is showing no signs of getting my interest back anytime soon. I'm sure I'll get my superhero fix somewhere, though, at Image and Dark Horse if nothing else. And if the last few years are any indication, even if DC/Marvel aren't firing for me in general, the small press and self-publishers will be producing plenty of good material.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mountain Dew Game Fuel

So while at the grocery store today with both kids (and there's a fun adventure), I was picking up some soda and I saw Mountain Dew Game Fuel, the limited edition Mountain Dew flavor tied into HALO 3.

Now, while I don't drink it a lot, I always kind of liked Mountain Dew in college. And I've had a bit of a fondness for the variant Mountain Dew flavors like Code Red (still a favorite) and Live Wire (the orange soda, and I miss it) and have even liked the somewhat chalky, grape-influenced Pitch Black (although I still have 8 cans of Pitch Black II in my fridge, so I'm not so much a big fan now). So what the hell... I figure I'll give this soda with a "blast of invigorating citrus cherry flavor" a try.

I popped open the first can about a half hour ago. And this stuff tastes pretty much like drinkable Bayer Aspirin with carbonation. Which is to say, it's kinda nasty. Maybe it'll grow on me... I have 11 more cans to down to see if it does.

The question of course, is, "Randy, why on Earth would you buy HALO 3 soda when you don't play HALO and you know that the odds are good it's going to taste terrible?" The answer? I've liked 3 out of the 4 Mountain Dew flavors I've tried in the past, and I liked those odds. The other answer? I'm just as susceptible to marketing stupidity as everybody else.

Perhaps the best response to this drink can be found here.

Heroes: Better, But...

The fourth episode of Heroes was the strongest one this season. A big part of that is that two of the stupidest, least interesting plotlines (Hiro in Feudal Japan and Peter in Ireland) were entirely absent. Another part was that they finally, *finally* introduced a new character I didn't immediately want to throttle. And another part is that they seem to have hit upon a main story that actually seems potentially as interesting as the Sylar/Lenderman mysteries of season one. Now if only they can focus in on that and ditch all the extraneous garbage.

The new character and her family are cliched in the extreme, with a cringe-worthy inclusion of a "topical" Hurricane Katrina story. However, the new actress (Dana Davis) is quite good in a cliched role, and her powers (Taskmaster-esque photographic reflexes) are pretty cool, and well done. I'm finding it really, really hard to believe Tim Kring's assertion that he doesn't read comics... if that's the case, he has the super-power of accidentally ripping them off in every episode. Which is fine, just... acknowledge your influences, don't try to pretend you're one of the cool kids who doesn't read superhero comics when you're trading on the cool factor of the genre to shore up your B-list writing.

Was that harsh? No harsher than the feelings I continue to have for Maya, Alejandro and West, the three new characters whom I would like to see die in a huge fireball. Or a quiet gas leak. Really, whatever gets rid of them the fastest. I was actually stunned by the stupidity of coincidence that Sylar stumbled into the path of Maya and Alejandro, but that whole story gained a 50% boost in charisma with Zachary Quinto's arrival, and even better, maybe it means Sylar will kill Maya and Alejandro and we can be done with the whole stupid subplot. I confess, I didn't think bringing back Sylar was a great idea, but I don't really know exactly what his motivations/goals are at this point, nor do I know what's up with the cockroaches left at the scene of the crime, and I'm actually interested in both those mysteries.

The main mystery, which is actually interesting, is about "The Company" and how it relates to the original band of not-so-heroes. Sure, Parkman and Suresh are in a hilarious superhero version of My Two Gay Dads (surely the writers see this, right?), but I like where they've taken the characters, and I liked Parkman interacting with Petrelli. In fact, seeing some of these characters cross paths reminded me of the biggest misstep the show made in season two, which is splitting them all up again, when just building on the relationships and going forward would have been *so* much more interesting. Hopefully the connections will come faster from here on in, and we won't have to wait until midseason (or longer) before the various plots are connecting and I don't find myself wanting to fast forward through large chunks of the story.

Seriously, every time West is on screen, I keep hoping for him to either spontaneously combust or be revealed as a devious bad guy who's manipulating Claire. Because if this great boyfriend act is meant to be sincere, it's a little too saccharine for me.

At any rate, seeing Kristen Bell in the teasers gave me hope, as she shines in just the few seconds of screen time there, and if she can bring Peter back from his stupid, contrived Irish mis-adventure, so much the better.

Even though the show was better tonight, it was still weaker than pretty much any of the episodes from last season. And there were some weak, weak episodes last season. I'm still watching, but my finger's on the "Cancel Season Pass" button, and I won't be recommending to my two friends who've given up that they come back at this point.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

How Much Do I Love Heidi MacDonald right now?

If you're at all a fan of the comic book medium, you should go read this. Then go to the comments and watch the fireworks.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Weekly Comics to Come - October 17, 2007

Battle Royale Ultimate Ed Vol 1 HC (I'm really looking forward to re-reading this story, and seeing how the Tokyopop deluxe format is)
Captain America #31 (Another great issue from Brubaker and company... bring on Omnibus #2 next year!)
DMZ #24 (Another self-contained issue, with a look back at Amina from "Public Works")
Marvel Zombies 2 #1 (Shocked at how much I enjoyed this first issue... I thought the joke would get old, but this was so funny it has me once again considering picking up the hardcover)
Umbrella Academy Apocalypse Suite #2 (First issue was great, can't wait to see more)

52 The Covers HC (A process book on the covers, plus all the gorgeous JG Jones art? Sold! And I'm not even buying the 52 series!)
Abyss #1 (New son of supervillain comedy book by the guys who did Star Wars: Tag & Bink Are Dead. I've read it, it's quite good)
Awesome Indie Spinner Rack Anthology Vol 1 TP (Some good indie names in here, and hopefully some new talent to discover as well)
Brave And The Bold #7 (First arc concluded on a high note, new arc starts here, I'm excited to see it)
Cory Doctorows Futuristic Tales Here And Now #1 (I've never read Doctorow's fiction, only his Boing-Boing posts, but this is a good excuse to check out his sci-fi)
Fables #66 (The Flycatcher story is running long - and maybe late? - but it's still one of my favorite stories of the run so far)
Highwaymen #5 (The highly under-rated action/adventure miniseries reaches its conclusion)
Marvel Adventures Avengers #17 (Parker's gone, but Ty Templeton's a good writer... I'll give his first issue a shot)
Naoki Urasawas Monster Vol 11 (More of the best suspense manga I've ever read)
Ray Harryhausen Presents Sinbad Rogue Of Mars #1 (Beautiful art, writing by the creator of Hero Camp, great concept)
Savage Brothers Vol 1 TP (Rednecks hunt zombies in the post-apocalypse. Boom!)
Shazam Monster Society Of Evil Deluxe HC (I'd almost buy this for the beautiful art alone, even though the story let me down. I probably will, if the hardcover is as impressive as I'm hearing)
Sword #1 (New fantasy book by The Luna Brothers... dug Ultra, got bored of Girls... curious to see whether they can deliver on this one)
Uzumaki Vol 1 (My favorite horror manga of all-time, finally re-released by Viz)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Wasting Talent

You know what I don't want Alan Tudyk (Wash) doing? Playing another fucking lawyer on TV.

Put him with Greg Grunberg together on J.J. Abram's previously developed, now dead bounty hunter show, playing rival bounty hunters. Make him a sheriff in the old west. Have him play a test pilot who flies the rejiggered UFOs at Area 51 in an ensemble show by Barry Sonnenfeld. Hell, cast him on a recurring guest spot on 30 Rock or How I Met Your Mother or some other smart comedy. But c'mon... a lawyer? You've already wasted James Woods as a lawyer, television people. You've already wasted Anthony Anderson as another boring cop.

Why is TV obsessed with lawyers and cops? For every good one, there's about a dozen bad ones.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Dear Heroes...

Please stop sucking. I would like to at least watch until Kristen Bell appears.



Sunday, October 07, 2007

Cooking: Chicken Soft Tacos Onions & Apples and Chicken w/Lime Sauce

Since my last cooking post, I've cooked three new recipes. Two were very good, one was a dismal failure. I'll talk about that one first. It was Slow Cooker Red Beans & Rice, and it was pretty much my fault. The recipe said "Combine first 12 ingredients," which I read as "combine all ingredients" and so the rice, which wasn't supposed to go into the mix, was in the slow cooker all day. The result? Bland, flavorless awful mash that I couldn't even eat. Might try it again and cook the rice separate, like you're supposed to.

My favorite recipe of the bunch so far is Chicken with Lime Sauce.


4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
Cooking spray
3/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon butter

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove from pan; keep warm.

Add chicken broth, sugar, 2 tablespoons juice, and mustard to pan; cook over medium heat, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.

Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add cornstarch mixture to pan; stir well with a whisk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook 1 minute or until sauce thickens slightly. Whisk in remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and butter, stirring until butter melts. Return chicken to pan; simmer 2 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly heated.

I have only minor adjustments to make on this one. It would have been nice to have a little more sauce, as most of it evaporated or coated the chicken, so next time I think I'll reserve some of the sauce before returning the chicken to the pan, and then drizzle it on after I'm done. There was also a very, very slight lime flavor, so I'll probably add 2 tablespoons of lime juice instead of 1 with the butter, and keep adding a tablespoon here or there until the lime flavor gets a little bit stronger.

I also need to come up with a good side dish for this one. I'm really bad about cooking just an entree and not spending any time putting a side dish together.

Tonight I made Chicken Soft Tacos with Sauteed Onions & Apples:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups thinly sliced onion
2 cups thinly sliced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 2 apples)
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 (6-inch) flour tortillas

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt, nutmeg, and pepper. Add chicken to pan; sauté 7 minutes or until golden. Remove the chicken from pan; keep warm.

Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Add onion; cook 4 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add apple; cook 6 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Return chicken to pan; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently.

Heat tortillas according to package directions. Arrange 1/2 cup chicken mixture evenly over each tortilla.

Since this came from Cooking Light, I thought it might be a little flavor light, and I bumped up the salt and nutmeg to 3/4 teaspoons instead of 1/2. I also don't really measure fresh ground pepper, I just grind it on until it looks like enough to me. The result was pretty good.

Half of the secret of this one is having fresh tortillas... fortunately, in Austin it's really easy to get fresh tortillas, and they're good enough to eat on their own, so that makes them really good for fajitas and soft tacos.

I also recommend having a large skillet... my medium sized nonstick was very full when the onions and apples were cooking, and I tossed a few of them over the side while I was stirring, no matter how carefully I tried to stir.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Weekly Comics to Come - October 10, 2007

Bprd Killing Ground #3 (The latest BPRD continues, and it's been great as usual)
Dynamo 5 Vol 1 Post Nuclear Family TP (Insanely cheap $10 trade of the best new superhero comic on the market)
Gyo Vol 1 (I've got the previous version, but I'm psyched to see Viz re-releasing horror manga master Junji Ito's work)
Nova #7 (Nice payoff to the Annihilation Conquest stuff)
Suicide Squad Raise The Flag #2 (Loved the first issue, looking forward to more)

Absolute Sandman Vol 2 HC (I haven't broken down and bought these yet... but it's probably just a matter of time)
Atomic Robo #1 (New pulp-ish adventure book from Red 5 - great art, fun story)
Booster Gold #3 (Mild interest at best, but it's still keeping that mild interest)
Brawl #1 (New Dean Haspiel, plus another feature from Activate... great cartooning)
Fantastic Four #550 (McDuffie wraps a somewhat overlong story, and it remains fun FF stuff)
Garth Ennis Chronicles Of Wormwood TP (Heard good things, on an Ennis high because I re-read Hitman... but low expectations, because Ennis's 303 bored me to tears)
Green Arrow Black Canary #1 (Lowest of expectations, but I want to like it, because I like Chiang's work so much)
Marvel Adventures Hulk #4 (Paul Benjamin's all-ages Hulk continues to delight)
Marvel Adventures Iron Man Vol 1 Digest TP (Van Lente's all-ages Iron Man has been a lot of fun thus far)
New Warriors #5 (A weaker issue, but still good)
Noble Causes Vol 7 Powerless TP (I'm really behind on reading this, I need to catch up)
Runaways #28 (Way too many characters, but there's definitely stuff to like in Whedon's run)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

More Political Ranting

McCain thinks Bush is right on in veto-ing the expansion of the kids health insurance plan. But then, he also thinks he still has a shot in hell of being the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, so he's clearly delusional.

But then, at least he's not an open scumbag like Todd Akin of Missouri, who says "among other things that we're going to provide health care to the children of illegal immigrants" as if that's the worst thing in the world. Because we don't want to spend any money on giving health care to kids in America when we could be spending that money on Blackwater and Halliburton. And Bush says "I believe in private medicine, not the federal government running the health care system." Spoken like a rich kid who's never had to really concern himself with how *fucked up* private medicine is. And then there are some critics, who say their concern is that parents might be prompted to drop private coverage for their children to get cheaper coverage under the bill. Because we want to make sure and take care of the insurance companies, who do their best to not pay out on medical claims as a matter of company policy. Wouldn't want them to suffer instead of some kids or parents.

The White House doesn't think American law should apply to American "security contractors" working in warzones on the behalf of American people. Because it'd be inconvenient to have to apply all those laws and principles our country is supposed to stand for while we're trying to kick in heads overseas.

Oh shit, we're gonna get Hillary, aren't we?
Is it wrong of me to hope they catch her with a dead hooker and a suitcase full of cocaine in time for Obama to get the nomination instead?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Look! Idiot Democrats!

My political views do tend to skew anti-Republican, but I don't exactly leap for joy at the prospect of a Democratic majority either. Their inability to do *anything* with the majority they regained in '06, combined with the generally spineless way they go about "opposing" the Bush Administration's policies, has me pretty well disgusted with the Democratic party as well.

Then I saw that top Democrats are proposing a war surtax, and that only reinforces that there really isn't a good party in America. They're both filled with opportunists and idiots. I particularly love this quote:

The surtax would be "a percentage of your tax bill," said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey, D-Wisconsin. "And if you don't like the cost, then shut down the war."

Wait... shut down the war? How exactly would I, random taxpayer, do that? Isn't that what we elected you dim-bulbs to do? You want to tax me more because you guys aren't doing the job we elected you for, the job opinion polls tell you we want you to do? What the hell kind of sense does that make?

Now, this measure is unlikely to ever get anywhere. The Democratic party has been clear that they don't support the measure, it's just political grand-standing. But it's *stupid* political grand-standing.

Weekly Comics to Come - October 3, 2007

Buffy The Vampire Slayer #7 (Vaughan wrote the best issue of Buffy thus far last issue... can't wait to see where he goes next)
JLA Hitman #2 (Loved the first issue, hope Ennis and McCrea can give it a good part two)
Miki Falls Vol 3 (Terrific new story in a manga vein by Akiko creator Mark Crilley)
Question Zen And Violence Vol 1 TP (Been wanting to read these O'Neil/Cowan stories for a long, long time)
Transformers Devastation #1 (Surprised at how much I've been anticipating the next leg of IDW's Transformers reboot)

Annihilation Book 1 TP (I got the hardcovers, but I'm glad to see this saga back in print, it's one of Marvel's best books of 2006)
Empowered Vol 2 TP (More of Adam Warren's pinup/parody book)
Essential Moon Knight Vol 2 TP (Still need to read my volume 1, actually... but I'm picking this up because it's almost entirely Moench/Sienkiewicz stuff)
Lobster Johnson The Iron Prometheus #2 (First issue was pulpy fun)
Metamorpho Year One #1 (Dan Jurgens writes and draws, and I've always had a bit of a fondness for Metamorpho... although a re-telling of his origin isn't exactly what I'm looking for)
Omega Unknown #1 (Terrific Dalrymple art... weird, weird story)
Vinyl Underground #1 (New Vertigo book... nice Sean Phillips covers, not sure about it beyond that)
Vogelein Old Ghosts GN (I've actually read this second graphic novel about Jane Irwin's clockwork faerie, and it's as effective and imaginative as the first one)

Cooking: Sausage & Mushroom Soup

In an attempt to broaden our dinner options a bit beyond my limited repertoire of grilled steaks, burgers & chicken, spaghetti and the occasional meatloaf, I've decided to start trying out some new recipes. Right now, I'm mostly getting them from myrecipes.com, which is a site from Cooking Light, Southern Cooking, etc. Tonight we tried the first one, and it was pretty good, so I figured I'd share it. It makes a ton... my guess is that you could feed about six people with it using it as a main dish, especially if you add some bread. Or you could serve small cups of it as part of an Italian meal with pasta or chicken parmigiana or something along those lines, and probably have enough for 8-12 people.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 pounds mild Italian sausages (I used sweet instead)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
7 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 pound angel hair
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

1. In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add the sausages and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove. When cool enough to handle, cut the sausages into 1/8-inch slices.

2. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the pot over moderately low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden, 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Add the broth, thyme, red-pepper flakes, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, and the salt to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in the sausages and bring back to a boil. Add the pasta, reduce the heat, and simmer until just done, about 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley and the black pepper.

For my modifications, I left out the parsley, since I assumed it was more garnish than flavor, I only used a 1/2 lb. of mushrooms (which seemed like plenty to me... your mileage may vary) and I couldn't find low sodium chicken broth, so I used regular. In retrospect, if you wind up going this route, you can probably skip adding the additional salt, although it certainly didn't kill the taste. But I think it might have been on the border of doing so for Suzanne.

Also, if you want to make the soup easier to eat, crack the angel hair in half before dropping it in. We wound up using both spoons and forks to eat the meal.

Anyway, now that I know I like the taste, it's time to figure out what I can do to cut down on prep time. I'm also thinking I might try halving the recipe next time I make it, so that we don't have quite so much left over.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Blog Update for September

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.

Another great month for comics, as the top 20 sort of made itself and left over a dozen worthy contenders out. Those included the latest issues of Annihilation: Conquest Wraith and Quasar, the second Johnny Hiro, the latest Fables, X-Men First Class, Iron Fist (and its annual), The Order, Usagi Yojimbo, Highwaymen, Green Arrow Year One and World War Hulk (all favorite series by the way), not to mention promising newcomers like the second issue of Brit and the JLA Wedding Special and Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin #1. There were five strong debuts that made the top 20, though, although sadly all of them are relatively short limited series, so no breakout new ongoing hit. DC made the chart with four books... two Vertigo, and two set in the DC Universes I miss, one the late '80s (Suicide Squad) and another the late '90s (Hitman). Marvel ranked higher with six books, although it's notable that five of those are set in their current continuity (whereas I generally won't touch DC's current continuity with a 10-foot pole), although only one (Criminal) is a non-superhero book Dark Horse made a good showing with four of their own, including the best issues of Buffy and Fear Agent yet, a promising debut in Umbrella Academy and another solid issue of BPRD. Image also did well with three: True Story Swear to God, Walking Dead and Dynamo 5. IDW has 30 Days of Night: Red Snow, Boom! has Potter's Field. I don't know if the lack of any true indy/self-published books is a reflection of my taste or the brutal marginalization going on for those guys in the current market. I tend to think the latter, but then, I would, wouldn't I?

As with last month, my graphic novel reading was severely curtailed by reading actual books. I finished The Subtle Knife and started The Amber Spyglass, and still have Patriot Acts, Gates of Fire and a horror novella lent to me by my friend Nate Southard on the night table. I also diverted from my regular reading to re-read Hitman #1-60, and I can't say as I regret it. It's reminded me that the series is just as good in reality as it is in my memory. At any rate, as a result my Graphic Novels of the month are merely eight, and a couple of those (Essential Punisher, Thunderbolts) are on there because I've already read some or all of the contents, not because I've had a chance to do much more than skim the new collected versions.

Besides reading actual books and '90s comics, what have I been up to? Well, I'd been considering switching from HBO to Showtime, and when Tell Me You Love Me was dead boring, and the first episode of Dexter on DVD was jaw-dropping amazing, that pretty much did it. So I've been catching the first season of Dexter (finished the last episode on Wednesday night) in order to be ready for the season opener on the 30th. I finished up watching The 4400 (was the show always this bad? I'm interested in the plot, but the writing... wow... yikes) and Burn Notice (most fun new show in quite a while, can't wait to see it again next summer). I watched the first two episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm before dropping HBO, but I don't really think that means it can make the cut. I have put Weeds on regular rotation, though, and might do the same with both Californication and Brotherhood once I get caught up on the latter and watch the DVDs of the former. I also finally watched the DVDs of Friday Night Lights, which is every bit as good as the critics say it is. I watched one disc, put it back into the mail to Netflix and immediately bought the season on DVD so I wouldn't have to wait for the rest to arrive. Next up on DVD, season one of Brotherhood so I can see if Showtime actually has three shows on that I want to watch.

Then there were the starts of the new Fall season, which I've been blogging here. Nothing has blown me away yet, although Reaper is a hell of a lot of fun based on the pilot. Chuck is on thin ice, but I hear it gets better. Heroes is on thin ice, but it started weak last year too. How I Met Your Mother returns in fine form. I am kind of shocked that: A) NBC has such a hold on my TV viewing habits and B) Sitcoms make up almost 50% of my top 10 viewing. The Office and My Name is Earl both opened pretty strong (the former more than the latter, I could give up Earl if I needed the time but I love The Office), and I'm very much looking forward to the season openers of 30 Rock and Friday Night Lights later this week. I'm also enjoying the (finally!) returning It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, although F/X's annoying scheduling, so that it starts about 5 minutes after when it says it starts and ends about 5-7 minutes later, is really messing with my Tivo scheduling. I think conventional wisdom at the networks is that this will get people to watch the show live (with commercials) instead. In fact, it will get me to decide to wait for DVD or not hassle with the show at all.

Not as many new sites this month as last, but there are some good ones. Alan Sepinwall is currently duplicating his daily TV content on his personal blog, but just in case that doesn't continue, I've added his new TV blog from NJ.com, AllTV, to the feeds. I also added new feeds for Boing Boing Gadgets, blogs for Tom Beland and Scott Chantler and the webcomic XKCD.