Saturday, September 24, 2005

Comics 8/21/05

Marvel Comics:

Exiles #70 - A fun little jaunt through alternate worlds - this is the only Mutant/X-men type comic I care to read. This issue has a lot of heartbreak, as one character has lost his wife and kids due the reality change, but the other Exiles aren't sure if they should change reality back to the way it was, especially since it seems the new reality is better than the old one. Then a serial killer shows up, so things get complicated.

1602: New World #3 - I wasn't sure how well Iron Man would work in this Jacobian setting, but the concept translates pretty well. My one complaint: Not enough Virginia Dare!

DC Comics:

JSA Classified #3 - Nearly incomprehensible to all but the hardcore fan immersed in DC comics lore, this is still a fun little read - especially the way the writer pokes fun at many fanboy's obsession with the main "attributes" of this character. It seems writer Geoff Johns cares a lot about Power Girl, and wants to make her something more than just a joke character (the jokes often being about how she is the most "well-endowed" character in all of comicdom).
I'm not sure if it will shut the adolescent fanboys up, but he's made me care about a character who, previous to Geoff John's run was a no-personality third tier character.

Supergirl #2 - I was upset when Peter David's brilliant Supergirl series was cancelled, but I decided to give this new treatment of Kara Zor-el a try, especially since having Supergirl be Superman's cousin (as she was in the Silver age) is less convoluted than the protoplasmic earth angel from an alternate pocket dimension that Peter David had to deal with in his series.
However, while Jeph Loeb is generally a brilliant writer, this series (which has had three issues so far (if you count #0), as well as an arc in the Superman/Batman series) uhm - where was I?

Oh, yeah - Loeb seems to not get this character at all, or any of the other characters. The Teen Titans show up and everyone starts fighting for no particular reason. Loeb tries to hint that there's something dark and hidden in this new version of Supergirl, but it all comes across as rather overblown and melodramatic.

Plus, what is up with this 14 year old superhero being drawn in an overtly sexual outfit? And why is her torso so dang long? The artist on this series has no idea how to draw women at all, it seems (actually, his men aren't much better). Bizarre art with only passable storytelling. It had better pick up or I may abandon this series soon.

Thursday, September 22, 2005



LOST on ABC is back. Great show last night. I have seen what is in the hatch, and it's the apartment of someone stuck in the 1970s.

This show keeps getting better and better.

INVASION, on the other hand was dissapointing. Lame dialouge, one-dimensional characters and unsympathetic protagonists. A decent set-up, but as my time as a grad student is precious, I'm sitting this one out for now. If I hear good things in the future, I might tune back in.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Sci-Fi Fridays: 09-16-05

6:00 Firefly - A good episode, alternately gripping and humorous. The preview for the Serenity movie was nothing special as most of it was already featured in the trailers.

7:00 and 8:00 Stargate SG-1 - One of those episodes where everything that can go wrong goes wrong and at the last minute, leaving us with about 3 different cliffhangers. The religious themes being explored are still waaaaaaay too obvious and, at times, preachy as well. Subtlety has not been this season's strong point.

9:00 Battlestar Galactica - I ain't buying it. Either the producers and writers are geniuses or they're winging it. This episode had everything that makes this new BSG series great - lots of human moments, especially as war weariness begins to take a serious toll. However, this episode just confirms my suspicion that the cylons could wipe the fleet out at any moment. IF the producers of the show actually mean to insinuate humanity has really been surviving due to its own luck and/or skill, then they're failing badly, because the cylons look either incompetent or lazy.

I'm in for the long haul. Plus - next week we get Commander Cain!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Comics 9/14/05

Marvel Comics:

Mega Morphs #3: Sean McKeever rocks! Super heroes in giant robots - plus Ghost Rider! Feeds my inner child.

Marvel Knights 4 #22: What with Ben Grimm (the Ever lovin' blue eyed Thing) being Jewish and all, I'm surprised no one ever pitted him against the Jewish myth of the Golem before. Very touching tale.

The Pulse #11: The first Super-hero giving birth in a long while. Bendis does well with dialogue and character driven bits, and so he shines here. No action to speak of, but lots of mothering advice given by the Invisible Woman of the Fantastic Four.

Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius #1: Calvin and Hobbes (Franklin and H.E.R.B.I.E.) meets the Fantastic Four. A fun comic kids can enjoy (my six year old loved it). Since there are so few comics aimed at kids anymore, this is a welcome sign. Plus, adults will love this as well.

DC Comics:

JSA #77: An incomprehensible mess. I realize that since Warner Bros. owns DC and treats it as an R&D studio, they can afford to lose money, but this is ridiculous. This issue makes no sense. I suppose if I was following all the tie-ins to the "Infinite Crisis" mega-crossover I might understand this, but I have a limited budget.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Unacknowleged bias, but still fascinating to hear

Walter Cronkite Remembers (audio cassette)
(audio CD here).

Despite the ubiquitous clarinet motif that sounded oddly similar to the opening notes of the My Little Pony theme song, I enjoyed this brief trip down Walter Cronkite's memory lane. He's seen a lot in his life and been more places than I'll ever be - plus his voice could make the phone directory sound like poetry.

Filled with snippets of archival material and brief statements by friends and acquaintances, this audio book was a fun listen. It's light and brief, though. Anyone expecting in-depth analysis or startling revelations will wind up disappointed. This exists on the level of casual, dinner conversation - albeit highly entertaining and informative dinner conversation.

The one thing that did bother me was Cronkite's constant refusal to admit his clear liberal bias. Time after time, he trumpets his objectivity, but then mentions that he sorta liked Ronald Reagan "despite his politics" (said in a tone that indicates any reasonable person would find Reagan's politics despicable) and that when Barry Goldwater spoke at Knot's Berry Farm it was more akin to "Barry's Nut Farm." He even ends the tape with a list of too typical liberal complaints about how the poor get poorer, the rich get richer, race relations are getting worse, etc.

But that's a minor nit - This tape serves as a quick and enjoyable guide to most major events of the last 60+ years as seem through the eyes of a man who saw as much of it as possible.

This makes a nice companion to his more in-depth book A Reporter's Life - y'know - if you're into that kinda thing and want to see the way it (sorta) was.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Sci-Fi Fridays 9-9-05

6:00 Firefly - A funny, moving episode (with bonus futuristic folk song!) - including a moral dilemma with no easy answers. The preview for the upcoming movie seems to indicate that Jayne's character arc in this episode (and over the whole series) has been abandoned for a more simplistic (more accessible?) portrayal.

7:00 Stargate SG-1 - Good character development for the new guy on the series, with some nods to the overall series arc. A bit predictable (especially if you've seen the classic Star Trek episode "Amok Time") but still fun to watch.

8:00 Stargate: Atlantis - Finally! A well written, taut episode with little fluff and excellent direction. I might like this series after all.

9:00 Battlestar Galactica - The "trick" ending was visible a mile off, but other than that, a near-perfect episode. After the hit and miss mini-series I was unsure about this series, but when the regular series started with "33" it hit the ground running and hasn't let up. This episode mainly dealt with media ethics and "the right for the public to know" but it still managed to be gripping and moving. I just want a little more info about what the Cylons are up to. It's fairly obvious that, if they really wanted to, they could jump in and destroy the entire fleet (and the last remnants of humanity) in a few minutes. Why are they holding back? I don't know and I really, really want to know.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Comics 9/8/05

Due to the Holiday, comics came out on Thursday this week.

Marvel Comics:

Ghost Rider #1: A return to my favorite comic character, this new series ignores the 90s series without discarding it. The story is typical Garth Ennis, though without the cussing (but with the usual level of vulgarity). I can see why the top brass thought Ennis would be a good fit for the Spirit of Vengeance, but it seems off somehow. On the plus side, the art is absolutely gorgeous.

Exiles #69: Part Quantum Leap, part What If? - Reality hopping fun with the only mutant group I care to read (I honestly can't stand the X-men comics).

The Incredible Hulk #86: A tie-in to the big reality spanning crossover "House of M" (don't ask). Peter David writes well, but I'm not following the main thread of the big crossover, so the story seems incidental and I have no idea how it all ties in.

Dark Horse:

Serenity #3: The final issue of the comic series that bridges the gap between the TV series Firefly and the movie Serenity. A good read, but this last issue seems rushed. A good read for a fan of the series, or for anyone curious about the upcoming movie.

Silent Devil:

Dracula vs. King Arthur #2: A guilty pleasure. Dracula travels back in time to do battle with King Arthur and turn his enemies and friends into vampires. 'Nuff said.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Tales from the Tummy Trilogy audiobook

Tales from the Tummy Trilogy (Audio Cassette) Written and Read by: Calvin Trillin

I have never heard of Calvin Trillin, though apparently he was rather popular in the 1970s. This Audio book features him reading selections from his trilogy of essays about food. This food expert eschews pretension, and while enjoying fancy food as much as the next guy (and will even travel to other continents for a good meal), he mostly extols the virtues of the Buffalo Chicken Wing, the New York City Bagel, American BBQ and Louisiana Hot Sauce (also - the Chinatown noodle and pretty much any Mexican dish). His main point can be summed up by this paraphrase: "The good food, the really good food, is not at the restaurant you took your parents to for their 25th or 50th anniversary - it's at the restaurant you first go to when you return home after you spent three years on a tour of duty in a foreign country."

Beyond that, he details his travels across the USA and the world, looking for regional cuisines and local variations. Of course, this comes with its own set of trials - I nearly collapsed laughing when he discussed getting invited to dinner by a politician who had married an Italian war bride from a town famous for it cuisine - only to find nothing makes her feel more American than to prepare frozen fish sticks (he has nothing but scorn for frozen processed foods).

Besides, he's the sort of guy who can slaughter a monkfish (read or listen to find out what that refers to).

Mr. Trillin has a nice deadpan sense of humor that appeals to me. Overall, this little compilation has opened my eyes about the wonderful world of "everyday" foodstuffs.