speaking of life

23
Feb

So, things are maybe getting back to normal after the 5 inches of snow shut down most of Virginia for a week. The kids were off of school for five unplanned days, my office was closed one day (though I still ended up working – yay telework…not), all kinds of activities were cancelled for everyone, and UPS is currently a week late in delivering my Game of Thrones season four blu-rays.

The highlights of the week were the visit from the plumber to fix the toilet after I wasn’t able to successfully snake the drain, the fact that the no-longer blocked toilet was slow because it got cold enough to slush the drain pipe (record-breaking low temps here – luckily, we didn’t suffer burst pipes like several folks I know), and the kids going a little stir crazy and my lovely wife going a little nuts as a result.

But thankfully, everybody’s back where they’re supposed to be today, as the roads are finally clear, at least for the moment. We are, however, all a little stressed out, or dealing with the results of stress.

Had a decent weekend, though. Saturday was the scheduled date for the now-legendary Dinner & Dungeons & Dragons event that I throw into our church’s charity auction every year: I cook lots of food, and have winning bidders over to the house for a rousing afternoon/evening of dice rolling, monster killing, and general silliness in an informal one-shot adventure. I had to make this year’s event special, as bidding got fast and furious, with seats at the table going for a lot of money. This year’s adventure involved retrieving a piece of arcane scientific equipment from a group of cultists. Lots of fun was had, even if it did basically become a total Munchkin/Murder Hobo fest, with most of the characters not even getting names. Still, we all enjoyed ourselves, especially Andrea, who hadn’t played since college, and was getting an evening off from toddler duty. Also, I made a six pound Bacon Explosion, which is something I do maybe once a year, when I want to feed a lot of people. This thing is ridiculous, but tasty.

Otherwise, I got some stuff done around the house, had a nice video chat with Elizabeth from Antimatter about life, the universe, and the publishing industry, and finally chorded out a song for my friend Wendy, who has graciously agreed to give my kid some guitar lessons (because who wants to learn the basics from your dad?).

Might do some neat friend/gaming stuff over the coming weekend, and will hopefully take delivery of those GoT discs so I can catch up in the evenings. Damned weather.

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friday random ten – “too many comics” edition

20
Feb

Because sometimes, you need a break from talking about Spider-Man all the time.

Enjoy some tunes.

  1. “Waiting on a Memory” – Badlees
  2. “Love Love Love” – Of Monsters and Men
  3. “Call and Answer” – Barenaked Ladies
  4. “On Top of the World” – Imagine Dragons
  5. “Bragging Party” – The Amps
  6. “My Girl’s Ex-Boyfriend” – Relient K
  7. “I Was a Fool” – Tegan and Sara
  8. “Plastic Man” – Innocent Nixon
  9. “Hackensack (live)” – Katy Perry
  10. “Dance in the Dark” – Lady Gaga
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Slott on Spider-Man in the movies

20
Feb

Spider-Man writer Dan Slott recently did an interview about the Marvel Cinematic Univers, specifically commenting on the recent news about Spider-Man, the character he’s been shepherding since 2008 (and before, if you count the excellent Spider-Man/Human Torch: I’m With Stupid limited series back in ’05).

As usual, the guy’s right on about about a lot of things, and an entertaining guy, one part classic Stan Lee huckster, a few more parts ascended fanboy; above all, he’s one the geeks like the rest of us, only he gets to play with bigger toys, and his joy at being able to do so comes through in every interaction I’ve seen him have with fans or the media. It’s a great thing to see.

The one thing I really like about the piece, though, is this bit, which hits a lot of the right notes. One thing Spider-Man has going for him is that the mask (which tends to keep coming off in the movies, alas), covering his whole face, provides a bit of a blank slate for all fans, anyone who’s ever felt a bit like a nerdy outcast, to identify with; it doesn’t matter who’s under there; in your head, he’s you, sharing your triumphs and frustrations. That’s really, I think what’s kept the character vital for 50 years.

That said, one of the things I’d be interested in seeing is, I hope they make the casting open for everyone. There’s nothing inherently white about Peter Parker. Peter Parker is a nerdy outcast. Anybody, from any walk of life, can be a nerdy outcast. One of the reasons why Spider-Man speaks to everyone around the world is that mask. I’ve met so many young Spider-Man fans over the years. People that grew up and are now old, but when they first met Spider-Man, they kind of didn’t know who was under that mask. And that gives him the freedom to be anyone. That gives him the freedom to be someone just like you. It’d be really nice to see that as a possibility. Even if they end up casting someone who, at the end of the day, looks just like Peter Parker. It would be nice if the door was open and they just [said] , “Spider-Man can be anybody.”



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a name for my affliction

12
Feb

Over at the AV Club today, there’s a great “11 Questions” interview with character actor Titus Welliver, wherein he answers questions about bad jobs, strange advice he’s received, waxes nostalgic about collecting comics and toys, and reveals his opinion (which I share) that Frank Langella was an amazing Skeletor in the 80s live-action adaptation of Masters of the Universe.

Amongst all the great things that came out of that interview, though,the best thing is the concept of “Marvel Comics Tourette’s”, which, if you take a look at this space, my desk at work, my house, or engage in conversation with me for any reasonable length of time, you’re aware that I most certainly have.

Because, if you and I sit down for a meal, odds are good that at some point, I’ll admit my deep admiration of Dan Slott’s run on She-Hulk or launch into an oratory about the political and counter-cultural influence of Steve Gerber’s work in the 1970s.

At least now I have a word for it.

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the web-slinger comes home

10
Feb

As people (including me) have been speculating for months, a press release from Marvel Entertainment yesterday made things official: Spider-Man will join the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Looks like it’s a collaborative arrangement, with Sony continuing to produce and finance the Spider-Man films, though in collaboration with Marvel Films, who will help to shape the creative direction of the franchise, and integrate it into the larger Marvel film universe, with opportunities for cross-over across studio boundaries. This is a big deal, and it looks like it gives all parties a bit of what they wanted.

Marvel has shifted it’s phase 3 release dates around a bit, presumably to allow for the next Spider-Man film to land in July 2017 (a spot formerly held by Thor: Ragnarok), though the talk is that the “new” Spider-Man (presumably re-cast) will first appear in an MCU film, potentially even the fast-approaching Captain America: Civil War. I expect that such an appearance wouldn’t be more than a cameo (I still like my suggestion from a little while back for a post-credit tag, but that’s my ego showing), but it would open the door.

I expect more details in coming days and weeks, but overall, I think this is good news; it’s time for Spider-Man, arguably Marvel’s biggest character, to come in from the cold, though I’m glad it’s taken a while, allowing other characters to develop first.

It’s an exciting time to be a comic fan.

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business as usual?

09
Feb

Let’s hope so.

Things started settling down at the office by Thursday afternoon (in case you hadn’t figured it out, we had what you can euphemistically call an “IT emergency” involving a shift into round-the-clock crisis management mode and contingency planning for a couple of days). I managed to get my regular Friday off (after having logged over 40 hours on the clock by Wednesday afternoon), and though I was “on call” all weekend, the call never came.

On Friday, I got to breathe a bit; or was at least a different kind of busy. Not so much crisis-management as “catching up on life.” I paid some bills (as well as allocated my tax refund to it’s mundane but noble purpose – paying down debt), did some shopping (including getting a new pair of Doc Martens, which I’ve been suffering to break in all weekend), and took my spouse out for a wonderful, amazing, relaxing meal at Ipanema Cafe, a neat little hole-in-the-wall basement establishment downtown that serves amazing vegetarian food for her birthday, which was on Tuesday (and got subsumed into the crisis wrangling last week).

Really, it was the being at work all day well into the evening on Tuesday that threw me the most – I’ve been pretty consumed with trying to get acclimated to the new job and learn everything as quickly as possible since the new year ticked over, and I haven’t exactly been the most available in other aspects of life, which has been the source of a lot of inner turmoil. Getting caught up in a crisis (not of my making) that kept me from doing something nice for Colleen’s birthday (or even seeing that much of her that whole week) hit me hard.

However, I think it’s getting better.

This week coming up looks normal, so far. We might even get some musical adventures in, as some folks we know are trying to get a beginning ukulele group going: I’m jumping in as a slightly-better-than-novice, and this weekend’s shopping adventures involved a stop by the music store to pick up a cute little soprano uke for my lovely wife, who’s expressed an interest in trying it out.

So, yeah, let’s visualize “normal”…I could use some.

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pew pew

05
Feb

Lots of things going on occupying most of my time this week that I can’t really talk about. I’m kind of forgetting how to be a whole person rather than just a professional reacting to continual workplace crises. When I do remember how to be a person, it’s not too long before I realize I’m failing at proper relationship maintenance. Those affected are understanding and patient, though I still feel bad about the circumtances.

Let’s just say there haven’t been a lot of laughs these last couple of days.

But, I saw this image this morning, and it kind of broke the seal for me:

After this little kitten came into my life, I managed to have a laugh with a co-worker, then I kicked ass in a briefing. I’m feeling a bit better.

Thanks, steampunk bazooka kitten, thank you.

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FF – intriguing

29
Jan



“The most important thing about the Fantastic Four is that this is a movie about a family.”
-Josh Trank

So I watched that teaser trailer the other day. It was interesting; it sure looked pretty, even if it didn’t quite look like the Fantastic Four (I refuse to acknowledge FANT4STIC at all except to dismiss it in this parenthetical sentence). If anything, it looked rather generic, in an early 21st century prestige science fiction film sort of way.

I don’t dislike it, necessarily – 90 seconds doesn’t give you a heck of a lot to work with. That one quick shot of the team (including an apparently pantsless Ben Grimm), as you can see above, looks nice and iconic, at any rate. If there’s any comics link here, it’s to the early issues of Ultimate Fantastic Four, which was an interesting take on the property, if not my favorite*.

I guess you could say I’m intrigued, if not completely enthusiastic. I do like the quote from the director highlighted above (taken from this filmmaker commentary on the teaser trailer, which is apparently a thing now), which hints at the fact that they maybe get it, even if this aspect doesn’t show up in this trailer full of dour voiceover and maudlin piano.

show me a little more of the family dynamic, and I might buy into this yet.

___________________

*-I’m not a huge FF reader/collector, though I did enjoy Matt Fraction’s recent run with dueling Fantastic Four and FF titles (especially FF, with the alternate Four of Ant-Man, She-Hulk, Medusa, and Darla Deering, mostly for the Allred art).

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superhero round-up

27
Jan

Because some significant superhero media news came out on Monday, and I have thoughts!

♦- David Tenant as Zebediah Kilgrave/Purple Man in AKA Jessica Jones (I’m calling it that, even if it doesn’t end up being called that; it’s a great title for a long-in-development property) series going to Netflix is really good casting. I’m going to assume you probably don’t know who either Kilgrave or Jones are, which is a safe thing to do. Jessica Jones was the lead in Alias, a Marvel comic series a few years back about a broken down former superhero coming back on the scene as a private detective; very noir-ish. Jones went on to become a mainstay of Marvel comics (at least as written by Brian Michael Bendis, who writes lots of ‘em), getting her groove back a bit, and marrying Luke Cage. Kilgrave is an early Daredevil villain with pheromonal mind-control powers. More modern interpretations have him as a manipulative, awful, and rapey bastard, who was largely responsible for Jones’ breakdown.

I like it, because Tenant can definitely play the charismatic manipulative bastard pretty well; his Doctor wasn’t far off, as much as the fangirls would hate to admit. I expect him to go to some pretty dark places, which should really work. My interest is further piqued.

♦- The other big bit that I care about is the bit of news leaking about Fantastic Four, which is out in just a couple of months and no one’s seen a damned thing, except for a couple of strange statements about containment suits, Doctor Doom as a blogger, and some against-type casting. It’s not been that long since the FF left the screen (two fun, but flawed and relatively unsuccessful films), and Fox needs to get another one out there in order to not lose the film rights. this one’s directed by Josh Trank, who did Chronicle, which was an interesting low-fi “found footage” superhero flick. It sounds like the same “grim and gritty” aesthetic is being applied to the First Family of Comics, and that has a lot of fans (including me) worried, especially since things are generally so quiet.

A bit of stuff came out recently, including descriptions of the suits (not sure what to think, but they seem dark and sci-fi), and Trank throwing around adjectives like “Cronenbergian”, powers as “disabilities” and citing filmic influences like The Fly and Scanners. Now, I can trace the lineage of this influence; Lee and Kirby were definitely influenced by the 50s and 60s monster and horror comics and movies when they came up with the FF; lots of pre-Marvel comics (go look up the first appearances of Ant-Man and Groot as “the monster from Planet X” sometime) were just that. A 21st century reboot looking back to 80s horror flicks and playing up the body horror creep factor makes a certain sort of sense. It could be interesting, but it won’t be the Fantastic Four without the family dynamic or inherent optimism of discovery, which nobody’s mentioned thus far, and that’s what concerns me.

I’m curious, but I maintain that the best FF adaptation would be a 60s period piece. Interestingly, if the FF ever end up back at Marvel, the 60s is an era they haven’t done much with just yet – an era of super-science exploration might slot into the MCU nicely between Agent Carter’s 40s, the upcoming Hank Pym 70s flashbacks, and the modern era.

UPDATE – with a link to today’s FF trailer I haven’t actually watched yet.

♦- And finally – a hate group has managed to place a bunch of islamophobic ads on buses in San Francisco. Some practitioners of civil disobedience have taken to “improving” these ads by covering them with more positive messages and images of Ms. Marvel, the perky teenage superhero currently headlining one of Marvel’s best ongoing books (who just happens to be muslim). I would never condone vandalism, though if I were to condone vandalism, it would be this kind of vandalism. ;-)

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behold, productivity

26
Jan

So…another one of those lamented (at least by me) “look at what I did on my weekend!” posts.

Had an okay week at work. I have an actual assigned desk now, which is something; the box of office supplies and documentation is now out of the back of my car and reinstalled in the new office (forty feet from my old one), at least for the moment. The biggest challenge is that my lead contractor rep (the genius who does or coordinates all the actual work) is out for a while because his wife had a baby; his team is awesome and competent, but none of us have the depth or breadth of knowledge that he does, so we’re all playing catch-up a bit, especially since I’m still learning.

The good news is that I’m learning a lot, and quickly, and am quickly getting a picture of what my job actually entails (rather than just the official job description – you all know how it is), and I’m keeping the ship afloat, and not taking on too much water. Happily, my management chain seems to think I’m doing fine, so for the moment, I’m good.

I did have to come into the office on Friday for a couple of hours for some meetings (hopefully not a regular thing), but it was all relatively painless, and I managed to hand off something from my old job properly, rather than just sticking my replacement with something without explanation or instruction.

I believe in the campsite rule – leave things better than you found them*.

Friday night, we (Colleen, Mary, and I) met a few friends at The National Theater downtown for a new talent showcase for local bands, including, in particular, our friends Griff’s Room Band, who are awesome and you should totally check them out if they play near you. Give it a year, and these guys are going to be huge (they’ve got some big stuff working in the early stages).

The rest of the weekend was quiet, yet still productive. Saturday, it seems the con crud that had been running through the house finally took it’s turn with me, if only for a day (I got lucky on this one), so I stuck around the house, laid low reading the new Sanderson and doing laundry. Sunday I felt a bit better, but still stayed close to home. Did some grocery shopping, made some chili, edited another story for Local Magic (Which will be out soon, from Antimatter Press!), and did my taxes, since all the various players managed to get my stuff to me really quickly this year.

Not sure what’s on the docket this week. Probably more of the same, which, I suppose is okay. It’s life, and it’s maybe settling into a pattern again, assuming this weather system up north doesn’t crawl too far down into the mid-Atlantic. We’ll see.

________________________

* – an easy thing to do, as most of my jobs involve getting hired to pick something up that somebody dropped and ignored for a year or more. That’s my life and career: cleaning up other people’s messes. Could be worse; I suspect as long as I maintain that skill set, I’ll never want for work.

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