Thursday, October 30, 2008

And Another Reason to Hate That Austin is in Texas

23% of Texans believe Obama is a muslim. As comedy/political site 23/6 puts it, "The remaining 77% probably live in Austin."

I love living in Austin. And I love a lot of things about Texas, including the climate, the wide variety of good Tex-Mex and (God help me) the Texas accent and cowboy aesthetic, which I just find kinda charming and imitable.

But most of the culture of Texas makes me want to shake my head, because there is a lot of "racist hick" in that culture.

23%. Jesus. You dumb bastards.

Another Reason I Love Austin

We have women like Helen Philpot living here.

82 years old, and blogging hysterically mean things about McCain-Palin, but there's this great undercurrent of sweetness to her. I hope I'm half this articulate, and even a quarter this funny, when I'm her age.

The Positive Side of Things

I've written a lot of negative things on this blog, talking about politics. I am, without a doubt, one of those "angry liberals." I'm flat out disgusted by a lot of what I see in politics, and almost everything I see from the Republican party. I don't extend courtesy and respect to the George Bushes, Dick Cheneys, Bill O'Reillys, Rush Limbaughs of the world. I'm not sure I'd even tap the brakes if I saw them crossing the street in front of me. ;)

I was always going to vote against John McCain, or whoever else the Republicans ran. I voted against George W Bush in 2000 and 2004, despite not having any particular affection for the candidates I voted for.

I'm not voting against John McCain this year. I'm voting *for* Barack Obama. For the first time in a long time, there's a candidate I believe in. I'm as cynical as they come, in a lot of ways, but I believe what Obama and his campaign have to say. Do I think they're going to accomplish everything they're setting out to do? Of course not. Part of me finds it impossible to believe that we're ever going to see our healthcare system fixed... too many people are making too much money off of it. Part of me knows that corporate interests have their roots so deep into the infrastructure of this country that no matter what party is in power, there's always going to be a sharp divide between the haves and the have-nots. But I believe that we might move just a bit closer to having a middle class again, a middle class that isn't just barely hanging on by its fingernails to avoid being dumped into that lower middle class, struggling to survive situation that so many others live with every day. I believe that an Obama administration is actually going to work towards energy independence and environmental responsibility, instead of hinting that they're not even sure global warming is man-made.

I believe in Barack Obama. I've been inspired not just by his speeches, but by his policies. Tonight I watched the Obama campaign's half hour special, and it reminded me that for all of the anger, and fear, and worry that this political season has stirred up in me, for all the snark and sarcasm and derision I've aimed (and will continue to aim) at McCain and Palin and their campaign team and their surrogates, that's not why I'm in this. I'm in this because of hope, and optimism. I actually believe things might get better under a President Obama. I'm not voting for the lesser of two evils. For the first time in my life, I'm voting for the person I want to be voting for.

This, among so many other reasons, is why I'm voting for Barack Obama:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama's "Closing Argument"

Damn. Whatever else folks say about him, you've got to admit the man can give a hell of a speech. And I think the closing line of the speech is very telling, and very appropriate. "Let's get to work!"

I'm ready for this guy to be our President. And at this point, although everybody on the left is pretty much scared of admitting it after the shocking upsets of 2000 and 2004 and plenty of attempted voter suppression clearly at work, I think he's going to be.

And if you want to watch the whole thing, like I did, here it is:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

And Now, A Public Service Announcement from Katy Lander

About brushing your teeth:

One Retailer's Perspective on Final Crisis #7

So the solicits for DC are up, and Final Crisis #7 is being done by Doug Mahnke instead of JG Jones. This has apparently caused some kind of uproar, and there's a very self-effacing mea culpa from Jones at CBR.

Jones shows a lot of class in apologizing, although I doubt that's going to assuage the anger of fans who see yet another big tentpole project running late and delivering something other than what was promised at the outset (7 issues of Morrison and Jones on DC's big event). It's also not terribly helpful in terms of the lateness affecting sales, and how that affects retailers.

However... Jones should totally be let off the hook on this one. And you know why?

Because it's not his fault. Hands up, anyone who actually believed that JG Jones would complete this project on the monthly schedule DC promised, based on past performance? OK, everyone who works at DC editorial can put your hands down. Anybody else?

To put it in a less snarky way, this is the fault of an over-enthusiastic or delusional or (more likely) cynical marketing and editorial team, who either fooled themselves into thinking that a Morrison/Jones project involving tons of cross-editorial continuity wouldn't require any kind of extra time to work on, or who realized it would be late, but figured that the industry had grown so accustomed to it that they wouldn't do anything but gripe on message boards and buy it anyway.

If anyone deserves finger-pointing here, it's DC editorial and marketing. But hey, they gave retailers FOC to knock down orders if this actually does affect fan enthusiasm and sales, so I've got no particular gripe. And my interest in the DC Universe as a fan has been an increasingly casual, mostly rubber-necking at a car wreck kind of thing since Identity Crisis, so as a fan, I've got no real issues either.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

An Important Reminder

Nobody gives a fuck what Stephen Baldwin thinks

I'd say I'm going to boycott his movies and TV from now on, but, with the exception of Usual Suspects, I've already been doing that by accident. I mean, the man's credits that include both Bio-Dome *and* The Flinstones in Viva Rock Vegas.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Weekly Comics to Come - October 22, 2008

Captain America #43 (After over three years, this book starts a new storyline! And I'm anxious to see it, as I thought the last uber-epic was pretty good)
Criminal 2 #6 (Concluding the Frank Kafka story, which has been a favorite so far)
Gi Joe A New Beginning #0 (Really great. My full review is up on Comic Pants)
Northlanders Vol 1 Sven The Returned TP (Reads very well in trade, in fact much better than in single issues)
Warhammer 40k Fire & Honor #2 (First issue was good, just like all the Boom! GW comics)

Dmz #35 (I think I'm a couple issues behind on this... might just start reading in trade)
Family Dynamic #3 (Bummed to see this one go so quick, because it's so much fun)
Final Crisis #4 (Done with Secret Invasion as of #3, but I'm still curious about Final Crisis)
Invincible #54 (On one of its down cycles with me, but still interesting enough to read)
Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #4 (Fun superhero comics for all-ages by Paul Tobin)
Thunderbolts #125 (Gage wraps up his run, a nice transition between Ellis and Diggle)
Tiny Titans #9 (Fun all-ages Titans in elementary school, as always)
X-Men Legacy #217 (Been digging this, but a crossover with Wolverine Origins may kill my interest)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What Kind Of Day It Has Been

Today is the worst day I can remember in a while. Just really, really shitty and frustrating. And it's my blog, so I'm going to vent.

A little backstory: Our air conditioning at the store, which went out in August, was out for about a month while we tried to negotiate with the management company to get it fixed/replaced. Two different companies told us we needed to replace us, but the management company wanted bids, and they wound up going with a local company that decided to only replace the compressor. So instead of spending $8000, they spent $1500... and I had to pay a $1000 deductible. Which sucked. And we went a super-hot month in Texas with no A/C.

Cut to two weeks ago Friday, and Dave notices that the A/C isn't working. We think maybe we're just being paranoid, but it's definitely warm in the store. Finally, after putting in a call to the management company, we turn it off and back on and it starts working. OK, maybe just a quirk, but I get the number of the A/C repair guys so I can set up our new quarterly maintenance schedule with them anyway. But with everything else I've got going, including setting up for our comic book trivia event at the end of the month, it gets put off.

So cut to last Friday, and the air goes out again, around 3 in the afternoon. This time it doesn't come back. Fortunately, since we were through the bids and everything back in August, I'm able to get ahold of the management company and get something set up with their A/C company... for Monday.

One hot, annoying weekend later, the guys show up on Monday afternoon, find that there are burned-out connectors (no doubt one of the many problems that caused the other guys to suggest we replace the unit rather than just repair the compressor). They fix those, and then find that said connectors have burned out the new compressor. They've put a rush on it, hopefully it'll be in on Tuesday. Which I take to mean that it's probably going to be Wednesday at least.

Background over. Today is Wednesday, new comics day. I get up at 8 AM, as usual, and go to get the comics. No sweat there, the books are ready, they're all in the boxes (a few minor damages, but we let that go). However, it did decide, after months of no rain, to rain yesterday, and so the store, without A/C, is not only hot but humid, and so some of the comics are crinkly, and the general feel in the store is hot and gross.

We are much relieved when the air conditioning guys show up around 1 PM. They don't come in and say anything, they just go up on the roof and start working. That's fine, as long as they get the job done. Then I get a call from my night employee, who is sick. He can't come in, and everybody else is working day shift. I'm the owner, so now I'm working 8 AM - 11 PM. Rough, but hey, at least I'll have A/C.

Or not, as it again begins raining while I'm out picking up our games order. As I unpack the game order and realize that I accidentally doubled a couple of games, resulting in a quarter's supply of a game turning into an eternal-we'll probably never sell this many supply, we notice that the A/C guys are gone. Maybe they just didn't come in to tell us it was fixed? Nope. Flick the air on, nothing happens. They just left. Didn't come in to tell us what happened. Did they leave because they couldn't work in the rain? Did they find they needed some other parts? Are they playing a giant prank? We have no fucking idea, because they didn't bother to come in and tell us. Calls to the company go unanswered, mildly irritated voicemails are left.

Then our Diamond reorder shows up. This is our weekly restock of graphic novels and single issues we've sold out of. On occasion, they mis-pull one or two books, and we're out a book for an extra week or so. On this particular occasion, though the tracking numbers show two boxes, the boxes are marked (of three) and there are 69 items missing. It seems pretty clear that one of our boxes is either sitting at the Diamond warehouse or shipped out to another store. I call in to my Diamond rep, but it's close to 6 in New York, so I'm pretty sure I won't be hearing anything back until tomorrow at the earliest.

So... here I am. A/C doesn't work, we're missing inventory (and resulting sales), we're overstocked on some games we'll probably never sell, and I'm working a 15-hour day on four hours of sleep.

On a relative scale, it's all fairly minor... but it sure felt like a shitstorm of mega proportions to the folks who were here today.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Weekly Comics to Come - October 8th & October 15th

Missed last week. Whoops. Man, October's been kinda stinky for new comics so far. There are a few gems, but it's much lighter than it has been.

Dynamo 5 #17 (Still loving Jay Faerber and Mahmud Asrar's superhero team book, maybe my favorite indie superhero book of the moment)
Guardians Of Galaxy #6 (Read the first six pages as a tease, and it's still great)
RASL #3 (Yay! There must be a blue moon, because there's a new issue of RASL!)
Star Wars Clone Wars #2 (First issue of this was as good as the new TV show is totally fucking abysmal)
Welcome To Hoxford #3 (Deranged, bloody, horrific, funny, awesome. Ben Templesmith, you are my favorite ex-pat Aussie. Sorry, Paul Hogan)

Atomic Robo Dogs Of War #3 (More World War II Atomic Robo... what's not to love?)
Booster Gold #13 (I don't remember who's writing it or what it's about, but honestly... this is one of the only DCU books I'm still reading)
Conan The Cimmerian #4 (Less Grandpa Conan, more decapitations please)
Ex Machina Tp Vol 07 Ex Cathedra (I've forgotten what's going on in this book, it's been so long... but I've heard this is a very good story)
Fables #77 (Last issue was not bad, curious to see where they go after the big #75 shake-up)
Uncanny X-Men #503 (X-Men actually fun to read again... I didn't think it was possible)

Bprd The Warning #4 (Guy Davis continues to blow my mind with his art... and the over-arcing story is good too)
Corps #0 (Surprisingly fun, solid art... better than Devil's Due's GI Joe stuff, for the most part)
Hellboy Library Ed Vol 2 Chained Coffin & Other Stories HC (Gigantic treat stuffed full of Stewart colors and Mignola art and Hellboy punching stuff)
Street Fighter Tribute TP (I'm only a moderate Street Fighter fan, but... whoa. This book was amazing for an art-book lover like me)
Warhammer Crown Of Destruction #1 (Skaven vs. Empire! Warpstone technology! Impending bloodshed and chaos! Boom! Warhammer comics continue to be a joy)

Ferryman #1 (Not crazy about the art, and the concept is tired, but Andreyko's moment-to-moment writing is strong)
Man Who Loved Breasts (Quirky and bizarre, but also kinda fun)
Marvel Zombies 3 #1 (There's no way this should have been as good as it was. But there you have it... long past expiration date as a concept, but the creative team makes it work)
Walking Dead #53 (Some new characters, some twists and turns, this book still very much has its hooks in me. Kirkman's best book, bar none)
Labor Days Vol 1 TP (Haven't had a chance to read yet, but this Oni GN has beautiful looking art)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Something I Noticed...

Obama's speech on economic policy is a specific plan, with details on how he would help small business owners, secure current jobs and create new ones.

McCain's speech on economic policy includes the borderline delusional "We've got them right where we want them" (even if the election did turn in McCain's favor here in the last three weeks, you can't tell me this is *ever* where they wanted to be, and trying to spin it as if this was all the plan looks crazy) and a lot of the same type of thing he offered up in the debate. "I've got a plan for that." He's got a plan to get Bin Laden. It's simple, he says. He knows how to do it. He's got a plan for the economy. The full speech text is in this link, the "we've got them right where we want them" bit is in the video below.

What never comes up is, what is that plan? Why is that? Is he afraid that it's sooo good that Obama will abandon his plan and steal MCain's? Or is it, as is more likely, that he *doesn't* have a plan? Or is the plan really $5000 tax credit to insurance companies for health insurance, government spending freeze and the ever-popular, ever-vague "low taxes for everybody!"

Now, in fairness, the McCain campaign is now claiming that they will release an economic plan tomorrow. This is much like what they said a couple days ago, though, so you'll forgive me for being skeptical.

Newsarama Interview Up

I did an interview with Kieron Gillen, of Phonogram and Warhammer: Crown of Destruction, about writing the latter, and it's up now.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Texas Security Theater

I don't know how many folks who read my blog also read my wife's, but her rant on the new driver's license rules in Texas is something I whole-heartedly agree with.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I Feel A Bit Dirty, But...

I'd totally watch a "Paris Hilton's West Wing" on MTV now.

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

Monday, October 06, 2008

Tom Spurgeon for Emperor

I'm kind of surprised, I expected to go over to the story everybody is linking to (Spurgeon's If I Were The Emperor of Comics: Two Dozen Things I'd Decree To Make Comics Better) and find some things to quibble with, or maybe even get outright annoyed with.

Instead I say, if we're voting for Emperor of Comics this year, Tom Spurgeon gets my vote.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Clone Wars Second Episode

Yeah, I think I'm done.

They were working some kind of "horror in space" thing with Plo Koon and the clones in a fading life pod, and things out there trying to get at them. When the other dead life pod turned up, it could have been a cool moment as well. But then what's hunting them? Frickin' joke droids again! Sucking any of the tension out of the situation.

In addition, the big thematic story is Plo Koon telling the clones that they're not expendable and someone is coming for them, but neither Ah Soka or Anakin ever express even a word of concern for the clones. They're always talking about Master Plo Koon and how important it is to rescue him.

Also... boring space fights, boring starship chase, misuse of characters made cool in previous cartoon and comic book appearances.

This is Lucas brand Star Wars... and that's really the last thing I want at this point.

Fake liveblogging The Clone Wars

Kinda like what I did with Heroes here. When I'm watching a show and it inspires me to snark at it more than enjoy it, that's a good sign I won't be watching it for long.

The Clone Wars inspired snark about a minute in. As with Heroes Season Three, I watched the first episode and started writing down increasingly sarcastic observations. I was going to Twitter them, but didn't want to spoil anyone who was going to watch the show. So here they are, if you're interested.

Every time I see the goofy droids, I cringe. Every time they talk, I cringe even more.

Aussie accented Clone Troopers - not so cool

Yoda - always cool. Smart enough to know he's headed for another trap, confident enough to not give a damn.

This animation blows. Asaj Ventress looks pretty much like a shitty Rock Band character.

Is this a Doctor Seuss planet? What's up with the purple spiky foliage?

I mean, it's good that Paul Hogan is getting some voice-over work, but... jeez, the Clone Troopers sound goofy.

Do you think the clones assigned to Yoda ever want to say "Jesus, can you just learn proper grammar and sentence structure already? How old are you, and you haven't mastered fucking English?"

Oh God, more droid schtick. Nasally voice, totally ineffective... they're a personification of every bad storytelling and humor instinct George Lucas has. Seriously, worse than Jar Jar.

You know how to suck any dramatic tension out of a fight? Make the opponents completely and totally ineffective. Does *anyone* think the comedy 'bots pose a threat to anyone?

Ah, there we go... Super Battle Droids. They're cooler, mostly because they don't talk.

Can't help but think how much cooler Yoda and the clones were in the Tartakovsky series.

Never mind. They talk. But they don't joke. So Super Battle Droids still slightly better than joke 'bots.

Damn it, they joke too. Just as badly.

In Tartakovsky's cartoons, Yoda uses the force to slam droid ships together and force them back off the planet. In the new cartoon, he lifts one battle droid and uses it to shoot all the others. That lack of scale, lack of imagination and love of slapstick says everything about why these new Clone Wars cartoons *suck* compared to the earlier ones.

And in this scene, Yoda teaches the clones... how to love.

Jedi faces off brigade of tanks and droids... better use of scale.

Admittedly, Yoda's action sequence here is pretty cool.

Count Dooku looks like something out of Rankin-Bass.

Yoda punks out Ventress. OK, I like that.

Wow, they set up a base on a random planet! How epic! How exciting! It's just like when they blew up the Death Star, or Han got taken by a bounty hunter! Christ. The stakes aren't even as exciting as Ewoks beating up Stormtroopers.

Overall: Bleh. I'll give it a couple more episodes, but I think my initial plan to avoid was probably the right one. Glad I didn't pay to see the first three episodes in the theater.

Coloring Theory

Heidi M. posts about the re-coloring of Moebius pages. Then a bunch of colorists show up to talk about it, and coloring theory in general. It's *awesome* if you have any interest at all in the art of coloring comics. I follow colorists more than many, and I still learned more from reading this thread than in 10 years of clumsily trying to talk about what I liked in reviews.

Must reading.

How To Scare the Crap Out of Randy

Army Combat Unit to deploy within the U.S.

What. The. Fuck.

Posse Comitatus, anyone? We don't *do* this shit here. You don't put over 4,000 members of your military, who are *trained* to *kill people*, into a domestic law enforcement role. The DOD can say all they want that they're a response unit for hurricane relief, but... what are they going to do? Shoot at the hurricane? This isn't a civil engineer brigade, this is a combat-trained and tested brigade that has seen action in Iraq.

Seriously, this is one of those "We should have known we were in for a totalitarian regime when they started up with the domestic combat units" kind of things.

Can anyone remember the last time our government did something that didn't scare you or piss you off, or both?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

How Much Do I Love Rebecca Traister Right Now?

Don't pity Sarah Palin

Traister is dead on. Palin is not some innocent babe in the woods taken in by Republican operators.