Monday, March 31, 2008

Dear Internet....

I fucking hate April Fool's day, and pranks in general.

Tomorrow, you will be worse than useless. To anyone planning an April Fool's Day prank, fuck you and your ancestors and all future descendants.

Good day.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Weekly Comics to Come - April 2, 2008

Batman Grendel TP (This is awesome stuff from Matt Wagner... I actually own the contents already, but I'm still tempted by the trade)
Buffy The Vampire Slayer #13 (Loved the last issue, not because of Buffy's new lesbian relationship but because of all the other character stuff going on and the return of Dracula)
Dead Space #2 (Great first issue, established mood and setting and characters, look forward to seeing where they take it from here)
Nightwing #143 (One of my favorite books at the moment, Tomasi and Morales are kicking ass on this book)
X-men First Class Tp Mutant Mayhem (Collecting the first few issues of Jeff Parker & Roger Cruz's fun early days X-Men book, plus the Colleen Coover backups, which are worth the price of admission all by themselves)

Abe Sapien The Drowning #3 (Beautiful art, interesting story, BPRD spinoff stuff never disappoints)
Amazing Spider-Man #555 (Surprisingly, I kinda dug Bachalo's art on this book, and Well's script is solid too. Has it's issues, but it's probably the second best BND team after Guggenheim and Larocca)
Anna Mercury #1 (Ellis trots out some of his favorite pulp and sci-fi cliches. And I'll probably find it at least readable, as they're cliches I have some fondness for)
Cable #2 (Solid first issue, although I'm still wondering what Cable is doing in the future)
Logan #2 (Vaughan/Risso always worth a read, although I admit that my Logan in World War II Japan interest is low)
Secret Invasion #1 (I may wind up skimming it, just like I've done with every Bendis book I've tried to read since New Avengers #1, but it's Marvel's big event, so I need to give it a look just to stay up on things)
Walking Dead #48 (Really loving, and dreading, where this book is going in the lead-up to #50)
Young X-Men #1 (Intriguing and annoying by turns, it's probably just a nudge better than X-Force and not as good as Cable, as far as Divided We Stand launch books)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Politics Stuff

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and I differ on many issues. He's from Florida, so presumably he doesn't wish the entire state would be cut loose to go join Mexico or South America given the amount of crazy that they tend to inject into the nation. (Then again, I live in Texas... the saying about glass houses and throwing stones comes to mind). He is a booster of Hilary Clinton's run for office, and believes that the Florida votes should be counted as voted, even though all the candidates agreed not to campaign there (and then Clinton did).

However, Senator Nelson has earned my respect for this call to reform our election system. His ideas about popular vote vs. electoral vote, rotating which states primary/caucus when, adding early voting to every state and making sure voting machines have a paper trail seem like absolute necessities. Do I think this has a chance in hell of gathering support from an entrenched bunch of politicos who mostly benefit from a confusing and difficult electoral system? Well, no. But I at least respect him for trying.

And to see why I'll be voting for Clinton if she miraculously manages to land the nomination, even though it will physically hurt me to do so given how much better I believe Obama will be as President, read this excellent analysis of our two-party system from Smith Michaels over at Blurred Productions.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Weekly Comics to Come - March 26, 2008

Not the best week of comics to close out March, actually.

All Star Superman #10 (With the Bizarro storyline over, this book is regaining my interest)
Flight Explorer Vol 1 TP (All-ages digest from the Flight creators)
Usagi Yojimbo #110 (Starting a new story, if I'm not mistaken... always a great read)
Wolverine First Class #1 (Fred Van Lente writing classic era Wolverine/Kitty Pryde... sounds great)
X-men First Class Vol 2 #10 (Cyclops gets the focus, and as I actually like Cyclops, that's a good thing)

Batman Confidential #15 (Digging this Wrath story, actually... wish they'd reprint the original)
Marvel Adventures Iron Man #11 (Van Lente's all-ages Iron Man continues to impress)
Previews Vol XVIII #4 (Down the Line is in the works)
Proof #6 (More gory, imaginative cryptozoology from Image)
Teen Titans #57 (I've enjoyed the last couple issues enough to keep reading)
World War Hulk Aftersmash Damage Control #3 (McDuffie brings the short-lived return to a close, and I've enjoyed it so far)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Weekly Comics to Come - March 19, 2008

Batman And The Outsiders #5 (*Love* the surprise guest stars in this one, and I'm digging Dixon's unpretentious superteam style)
Fables #71 (Cinderella in action, as good as I'd hoped)
Immortal Iron Fist #13 (Best issue in a while, love all the setup starting to pay off)
Incredible Hercules #115 (Nice stuff with Ares, Hercules, Amadeus, SHIELD... this is an awesome book)
Order #9 (One more issue... looks like we're gonna get an ending, it may not be a happy one... still great stuff)

Angel After The Fall #5 (Kind of blah, actually. Like the characters, but I'm not as into this as I am Buffy, and that's despite Angel being my preferred show of the two)
Brave And The Bold #11 (Kind of fun Ultraman/Superman story, but I'm long since tired of the overlong Megistus story... I miss the more freewheeling, seemingly open stories of the first three or four issues)
Captain America #36 (Not quite sure I'm down with Cap shooting people, and it's getting a bit mopey for me... I'll give it a couple more issues to turn around)
Grendel Behold The Devil #5 (Another great issue, so good to see Wagner writing and drawing Hunter Rose again)
Hack Slash Series #10 (Pretty wicked little villains Seeley cooks up for this issue, given what it forces Cassie into... very good, as usual, and I'm loving the search for her father subplot)
Invincible #49 (The covers on solicits have given away a lot of the twists in this issue, but it's still a pretty solid read)
North World GN Vol 1 (New weird slice-of-life/fantasy book from Oni... need to give it a read)
Repo TP (Futuristic action/chase book from Rick Spears and Rob G... liked the first couple issues I read, looking forward to reading the rest)
Sandman Mystery Theatre TP Vol 6 Hourman And Python (More of the great pulp/crime and romance book from Vertigo)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Mid-Level Adventure

If you're:

A) A Gamer


B) Have Ever Traveled By Plane

You will think this is awesome. If you're only one of the above, you'll probably still like it.

On Responsibility

You know, I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. And while it's never a pleasant experience, if I've made a mistake, I try to own up to them.

So I'm somewhat puzzled by the last couple of days, where three of my business partners have experienced the same mysterious "You got screwed... but it's nobody's fault" problem. Apparently, there are all kinds of problems out there being caused by mysterious gremlins. Thus, there's no need to apologize for them or in any way make restitution. This is a miracle! Perhaps I need to apply this in my own life more. If I get in a car accident, I won't give my insurance information, I'll just speed away with a friendly wave. "Wasn't my fault, the gremlins did it!"

The minor one is that my payroll company's automated entry system (which has always been a touch squirrelly) didn't work over the weekend, and since they don't have 24-hour customer support, I had to wait until Monday morning to call in payroll. Since I don't think this delayed my payroll, this is a relatively minor issue... it was just the start of the problems that would plague this week.

Diamond Comics (you know, the guys with the monopoly on delivering all comics to everyone in North America?) has what some might call a minor problem with their shipping. That is, on occasion (and by on occasion, I mean every single week), they mis-ship something. Some books don't arrive, some extras do arrive, some are damaged. Most weeks, it's minor. Some weeks, you get something like what happened to me this week, where my entire order of Countdown to Final Crisis #7 was instead Batman Strikes. Which I don't sell a single copy of. In these cases, you can call your rep, as long as you get to them early enough, like before 11 AM, and they are supposed to get a direct ship order sent out so that you have your replacement copies in on Friday. Is that the same as having it on Wednesday? No. But it's a damn sight better than not having them at all.

So I call my rep, who tells me he'll get it taken care of. He's told me this three previous times with this kind of thing, with an issue of Green Arrow: Year One and a couple others that I can't remember. What I do remember is that in only one case did we actually get the books on Friday. On the others, it was Monday or later. So I am skeptical. But there's not much I can do but put my faith in him.

Whoops. Come Friday, no Countdown. I call, I am told "I put the order in, I don't know what happened." No offer to look into it, no "Sorry we screwed up not once but twice," just "Hey, wasn't my fault." Just me saying "So it should be here on Monday?" to which I am told "Yes, it should be." This does not fill me with confidence.

Monday arrives... see where this is going yet? No Countdown. I call again, and ask for a tracking number and an ETA. To his credit, it only takes 45 minutes for me to get a call back with a tracking number, and I am told it will arrive on Tuesday. As of now, I'm still waiting. I also tell him that I would like an explanation for what happened. Because I know this kind of thing will happen again.

Also on Monday, I discover that my other distributor, Baker & Taylor, has mysteriously canceled my large book order for the week. I discover this because I had happened to email my rep on a different matter, and she noticed it. No warning was sent out, if I hadn't lucked into it, I wouldn't have found out until after Friday, when I was wondering where on Earth my Baker & Taylor order was.

So I call in to Customer Service. They're baffled. It was canceled by financial services, they don't have any further information. I call financial services, leave messages on three different voice mails, but since they are on Mountain Time and it was late afternoon when I discovered this, they've gone home for the day.

The next day, they call work (and I'm at home) and I've left instructions to give them my cellphone number. They don't call my cellphone number. I call in to work, get the number for financial services, call them. I am told that they didn't cancel it, and I need to speak with customer service. This is not what you'd call a satisfactory answer, so I explain that customer service told me the exact same thing about financial services. I even tell them that I called my credit card company the day before, and they showed no charge from Baker & Taylor, no attempted charge and certainly nothing that would cause the card to decline. Nobody can figure out why the order was canceled. It's those damned gremlins again! So the gremlins are to blame for me not having books that I needed on Wednesday until Friday at the earliest.

No apologies are offered, and my inquiries about getting expedited shipping in exchange for the screw-up are ignored. As far as they're concerned, there's no need to make up for anything... they didn't do anything wrong! It was just those damned gremlins.

This is comics retail, folks. People on the Internet telling you that your job is obsolete and worthless, your business partners screwing up and not taking any blame, a constant battle with various little fires that need putting out.

And honestly, despite all the problems, I'd still rather be doing this than 99% of the other jobs out there.

But I would love to strangle those gremlins.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tim Dickinson's Rolling Stone cover story on Obama

Tim Dickinson is easily my favorite political reporter writing right now. Yes, he's fully biased in favor of Obama, but more importantly, he's a sharp and entertaining writer. Check out his story on the Obama campaign at the Rolling Stone site.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Weekly Comics to Come - March 12, 2008

Abe Sapien The Drowning #2 (Beautiful art by Alexander, great story by Mignola)
Annihilation Conquest #5 (Awesome cover, plus more excellent space adventure)
DMZ #29 (Starts the new election story, the best issue in a while)
DMZ Vol 4 Friendly Fire TP (Collecting my favorite story arc of the series thus far)
Serenity Better Days #1 (Heists, banter and chases... yes!)

Amazing Spider-Man #553 (Decent, but definitely the weakest of the Spidey teams thus far)
Atomic Robo #6 (A fun, action-packed, brain-punching finale to a fun series. Can't wait for more)
Booster Gold #7 (Kind of enjoying the out-of-time Booster/Beetle stuff... pretty sure it's going to end with a downer of Beetle being dead again, but if it doesn't, I'll be happy)
BPRD 1946 #3 (The early days of the BPRD, and I love the Russian demon/girl that has a pivotal role in this book)
Empowered Vol 3 TP (More of Adam Warren's borderline pervy, delightfully funny superhero parody)
Foundation #3 (Further development of the great conspiracy premise)
Marvel Adventures Hulk #9 (Leonard Samson vs. Hulk, courtesy of Paul Benjamin and co.)
Nova #11 (Dull cover by Maleev, but an interesting story of Nova meeting up with a favorite older character of mine)
Suicide Squad Raise The Flag #7 (Great action sequence, and although the Rustam/Flag stuff was probably better left buried, everything else is vintage Squad... I'll be picking up the trade)
Thunderbolts #119 (Solid, although I'm kind of glad Ellis is only here for a limited time, because I think I am too)
Walking Dead #47 (Jesus this book is getting dark... but it's got great action and great characters, and I'm fully involved again)
Wonder Woman #18 (WW versus the Khunds!)
Wormwood Vol 2 TP (Looking forward to the second trade of this twisted series by Ben Templesmith)
X-Factor #29 (Solid follow-up to the first Divided We Stand issue)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Blog Update for February 2008

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.

In terms of comics this month, my reading was much the same as it has been. Enough good single issues that everything didn't make the cut (including the final issue of American Virgin, the latest issue of Northlanders and a few others that were *almost* in there), and few enough graphic novels that two on my list were actually bought months ago but only read this month, and the two that nearly made my list were also older ones that have been sitting on my bookshelf, Scrap Mettle (Scott Morse's art book from Image) and Scorpion: Poison Tomorrow (from Marvel). My daughter loves the new Bakers, btw. She found it on my stack of comics, brought it out of my office and now I've read it to her at least twice and her grandfather (my dad) has read it to her at least once. Breaking down the comics, it was 5 Dark Horse (BPRD 1946 again, plus Abe Sapien, Grendel, Buffy and the final Umbrella Academy), 10 Marvel (a mixture of continuity and non-continuity, written by Brubaker, Fraction, Pak, Van Lente, Parker, Peter David and Abnett & Lanning), 3 DC (1 Vertigo, 1 out-of-continuity Teen Titans Year One and one in-continuity Nightwing that is untouched by the Countdown goings-on) and 2 indies (Jeff Smith's RASL, potential best new book of the year, and another solid issue of Mouse Guard from Archaia).

Not much time for TV this month. Finished out Friday Night Lights and wound up mostly underwhelmed... at this point, I hope it doesn't come back unless they can recapture that first season magic (which I'm not sure they can do, given all the extra baggage in every character's backstory now) and I certainly won't buy season two on DVD. Torchwood also got really dull and dumb, and Netflix sent me the third disc since I forgot to reorder my queue, but unless it winds up being tons better, I doubt I'll rent any more. Lost, however, continues to be spectacularly good, and The Sarah Connor Chronicles has grown on me. Although it's sci-fi on Fox, which means that no matter how great the ratings have been up to this point, it's probably doomed. I also watched the Justice League New Frontier animated movie... it's good, but mostly serves as a great trailer for the graphic novel, which has all the good moments of the movie plus tons of stuff that was cut out with the Losers, the Challengers of the Unknown, etc. Rent the DVD... buy the Absolute Edition of the graphic novel.

Only a couple new RSS feeds added this month. Added Starslip Crisis (after going back to read all the archives prior to moderating the webcomics panel at STAPLE!... more about STAPLE! when I get a little more free time to blog this week) and Yelp!'s Austin reviews, which are proving to be excellent in terms of pointing me to new restaurants I want to try but can't find the time, energy or money to get to.

Weekly Comics to Come - March 5, 2008

Buffy The Vampire Slayer #12 (New story arc begins... Oz rumored to guest star)
Dynamo 5 #11 (Another issue of one of my favorite superhero books)
Justice League The New Frontier Special (After watching the movie recently, I'm primed for a return to Darwyn Cooke's period piece Justice League)
Naoki Urasawas Monster Vol 13 (Suspense manga continues to have me in its thrall)
Northlanders #4 (Gets better with each issue, and I have a little info on what's going to happen from Brian Wood, and I'm excited to see it)

Cable #1 (Surprisingly good, art isn't perfectly matched to the script but it's a fun read)
Dead Space #1 (The Thing in space by Ben Templesmith and Antony Johnston? Sold!)
Highwaymen TP (One of my favorite action movies on paper ever)
Invincible Presents Atom Eve #2 (First issue was great, looking forward to seeing the conclusion)
Logan #1 (Vaughan and Risso means I will read, even if my Wolverine love is weak these days)
Nightwing #142 (Digging the Tomasi/Morales run so far)
North Wind #3 (More post-apocalyptic wintery stuff)
Terry Moores Echo #1 (Love Moore's art, can't wait to see him tackle something new)
Resurrection #3 (Guggenheim has impressed so far on Spidey, and his first two issues of this were very good as well)
Teen Titans Year One #3 (Beautiful art, and the story continues to draw me in)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Not A *Great* Day

Looks like Hilary won Ohio, and won the primaries in Texas too. So once again, my freakin' vote counts for nothing. On the other hand, my vote in the caucus might, because Obama is ahead in the caucus counting, but with only 5% reporting, that could go either way.

Still, he's ahead in the delegate count, and barring a *huge* shift in momentum that allows Clinton to start blowing out the remaining races, mathematically Obama is still going to win the nomination. But my deeply-held hope that: A) Texas would actually go for the candidate I voted for, for once and B) More importantly, losses in Texas and Ohio would force Clinton to concede so the Democratic party could get on to the important task of running against the Republicans have not come to pass. This race is going to come right down to the wire. I still believe Obama will be the candidate, I still believe he'll beat McCain, but I'm honestly tired of the fight.

But for the Hilary supporters amongst my readers (Hello Manton and wartortle), this was a good day. Congratulations to your candidate. I'm still hoping I don't have to vote for her in November, but she had a good day today.

Of course, the other downer today is that Gary Gygax, father of D&D, died today. D&D has changed a lot since he helped create it, and my enjoyment of the game today owes as much to guys like Bill Slavicek, Mike Mearls, David Noonan, Robin Laws and others as it does to anything Gygax has written for years. But without Gygax, the whole role-playing game thing, which has been a huge part of my life since I was 12 years old, probably never would have happened.

There have been a ton of tributes today, and I can't top any of them. So instead I'll link to my favorites, from Alex Robinson, Penny Arcade and my friend in gaming Nate Southard.