Ho. Lee. Shit. I didn't get to the movies much this year, so I’ve paid even less attention to the Oscars hoopla than usual. The show is on, though, and I’m here on the couch doing some work, so some of the details are sinking in. Like the fact that my oldest pal Eddie almost won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.
I was barely paying attention as they read off the nominees, who were all standing on stage behind Leonardo DiCaprio, until I suddenly hear the name of Eddie and his partner, Kirby Dick. I was flabbergasted, and convinced for half a second that I heard wrong. When I visited Eddie this summer, they were still working on the film, so I didn't even think it had been released yet. Sure enough, though, there they were standing on stage, smiling politely as the eventual winner's name was announced.
Now, it's a little disappointing that someone else won the award, but you have to admit that it's pretty goddamn impressive for a goofy kid from Staten Island (and later Connecticut) to get farther than anyone else I know is likely to get. (No offense, everybody, but you can correct me when you get your Oscar nomination.) I’ve never been so happy to feel like such a wayward slacker.
Eddie, old cock, you continue to impress the living hell out of me. In case you check this before we have out next long-overdue chat, I love you to pieces. Woo-hoo!
Day 13 of the cold that keeps kicking my ass and I’m pretty much out of patience. I keep getting false starts: days when my strength comes back, allowing me to dive in to all the work that’s been piling up while I lay comatose on the couch, but after a few hours of productivity I’m all tapped out and then back where I started the next day. Stupid germs.
Even if I still had a regular job, I’d be out of sick days. As a self-employed layabout, a day when I don't have the energy to sit up straight and concentrate for a few hours has an actual cost. Plus, blowing deadlines is for losers. Like, um...me, at least in this condition.
I don't get sick the way I once did. I’m not plagued by constant sniffles, sore throats, and teeny issues the way I always was (score one a powerful regimen of antiviral medications!), but when I finally succumb to something it completely knocks me on my butt. (Score one for the delicate immune system, I guess.) For the last couple of years, if I come down with anything at all, I can pretty much write off the next week, minimum. Getting a minor cold was never a treat, but it was at least convenient to catch something that would still allow me to function from day to day. This all-or-nothing business is a pain. Often, quite literally.
Astoria doesn't always look this saturated, but the light at the end of the afternoon on a clear day really does a lot to spruce things up.
My favorite lines of dialogue from this week's comics:
Ex Machina #8: "Sorry, I thought you two be familiar with City Hall Park from all of your late night 'cruising.' Kidding, of course. Everyone knows you people stick to the Rambles for that." — Mayor Mitchell Hundred, greeting the two guys whose wedding he's agreed to perform.
I love this comic more than anything. The artwork by Tony Harris is tremendous, but it's really Brian K. Vaughan's character interactions that make this series so delicious. I’m actually annoyed whenever the story turns away from the political and personal story and fills in details of the more comic-booky story happening in the background.
Birds of Prey #79: "I went to Catholic school, Canary. One thing you learn, right away...never screw with the crazy girl." — The Huntress, explaining why she's trying to talk to Rose/Thorn before she gets into a fight with her.
I avoided this book for so long because it seemed like such a goofy idea, and because the loosely-related TV show looked so cheesy. I’m so glad I finally discovered the best-written female characters in the entire DC universe. I jus the artwork wasn't always so absurdly cheesecakey.
Teen Titans #21: "Hey, listen, if I get...hurt...just let me take care of myself, all right?" — Speedy, joining the Titans in a fight against Dr. Light before she was able to tell them that she's HIV+. I totally sympathized with her concern.
I’d already heard about how the new Speedy was going to be dealing with HIV, and I’ve been hoping that the writers handle it gracefully. I don't know if it's working in Green Arrow, but the first hints of that twist in this book seem OK so far.
Ultra #7: "Beaver Girl, I love your lips!" — unseen fan to unseen heroine on the red carpet to the Annual Super Hero Awards. Heh, beaver. Get it?
Actually, there's endless good dialogue in this whole series, both the funny kind and the natural kind.
She-Hulk #12: "Guys, there's a big superhuman battle nearby. Why haven't you taken off?" "Please! Nobody gets hurt in those things." "Except maybe a beloved character. For added sales...and the rubber-necking factor" — Jen Walters (She-Hulk) and some guys in a comic store. On the very next page, may favorite supporting character in the book, Awesome Andy, gets his head ripped off.
Astonishing X-Men #8: "I know you wanted to cement your standing in the group, but if that geek was sharing my bed...I think I’d try not to wake up." — unseen entity addressing a comatose Emma Frost, as the geek looks on.
Like Ex Machina this book has sucked me in with great characters and who interact brilliantly. The action has mostly been used to propel the characters from one point in the story to the next, which is usually fine. that’s pretty much all this issue is, though, so even though this issue set up a lot of interesting story developments, it felt a bit like filler. Tsk, tsk, Joss — that’s just what ruined so many of Buffy's last episodes. Don't get sloppy on us now.
Looking for yet another way to waste hours of your time? Check out the hilarious collection of covers at Superman Is a Dick. It's a shame they don't write stories about all Superman's attempts to murder, humiliate, or double-cross his friends and loved ones anymore. The world needs to know!
Yeah, Valentine's Day is about as irritating a "holiday" as they come, but since the Rooster and I absentmindedly scheduled our first date for three years ago today, we're sort of stuck with it as an occasion.
Not that we're doing anything about it, mind you. I’m still sick as a dog and feeling gross, but will still have to drag myself up to class tonight. And he's working an 11-hour-or-so day today, and will be most of this week, so for the next few days neither one of us will be home at the same time unless we're passed out. We might cross paths over morning tea, but we won't have the energy for puppydogs and rainbows and unicorns or anything saccharine like that. All either one of us really wants this year is some sleep.
Ah, love, in all its glory. Ain't it grand? Yeah, actually.
I’m having a lot of fun with Trusty Sidekicks, despite my general aversion to single-topic blogs. What I like about it is that it's a collaborative project, and that supports the community vibe that has kept me going all these years. I could ramble on endlessly about comics here (and I have), but it's more fun to do it with a few people who share my perspective. We egg each other on a bit, and there's more actual discussion than I generally get here. Also, Trusty Sidekicks has a narrow focus on a couple of neutral topics that occupy my attention and amuse me on a daily basis, so I don't have to figure out what's appropriate to say.
With time and maturity has come a greater and greater reluctance to blab much about my life in these sporadic posts. I worry that I'll horrify my mom or corrupt my nieces and nephews. I worry that saying too much about my life would reveal too much about the Rooster's, who's generally more private than I am. For that matter, I worry about saying things here that would better be said in person, whether to him or anyone else. I worry that I might put off potential clients. I worry about pissing off people I might want to complain about. I worry about revealing too much, and then I worry about revealing to little.
Perhaps "worry" is the wrong word. I don't worry, really, but I feel bit frustrated. I’d like to let it all hang out and stop storing various bits of myself away in different compartments, but that’s unrealistic. My habit of picking and choosing what I reveal to people is too deeply ingrained, and too deeply wrapped up in my aversion to conflict. Yes, it would be lovely to feel free to say whatever I felt, but that could only work if I didn't give a hoot about consequences. Frankly, I’d rather sacrifice a little candor for a little harmony. Maybe that’s a little chickenshit, but it's a character trait I accept and deal with as well as I can.
Little by little, then, I pile up secret identities. Here I’m moody and private, and occasionally maudlin. At Trusty Sidekicks I’m nerdy and exuberant. When I teach I’m cool but firm. At work I was focused and responsible. Those are all pieces of me, but very rarely do they ever reach a critical mass of me-ness in any one place. I’ve always taken pride in being eclectic, and in adapting to my surroundings as needed, but it leaves me without any opportunity to really just be...me. Me with all my conflicts, contrasts, and disparate qualities on display.
Like I said, it's my own fault. I donned a mask here and a mask there over the years, and it always seemed like the best thing to do at the time, but it's a pain to stay in character all the time. It's frustrating, and sometimes maddening. Saying this makes it all seem so dramatic, like I’m cracking under the strain of being in the Witness Protection Program or something, but it's really not. Everyone picks and chooses the side of themselves they show to the world. I’m just a little annoyed with myself for tailoring so much to so many audiences.
A helpful reader reminded us about Gone and Forgotten, an amazing site that I once stumbled upon, but failed to bookmark. It's got a lot of funny commentary on dubious old comics, including such unlikely treasures as Hansi: The Girl Who Loved the Swastika, Prez, the First Teen President, and Super-Heroes Battle Super-Gorillas, among many other oddities. Genius.
I have a bad cold and I’m crabby and groggy and all I want to do is lie slack-jawed on the couch and watch TV and wait for my will to live to return. Stupid, stupid, stupid Time-Warner Cable and their amazingly shitty DVR box are thwarting my plans at every turn. I’ve already been annoyed that we can't use the Tivo since we got this monstrosity, since it has a crappy interface, and limited search and scheduling capabilities, and a needlessly complicated remote, but on top of all that it's also the least reliable piece of electronic equipment I’ve ever owned. Well, maybe the second-least reliable: we had to return the first box after two weeks because the hard drive suddenly failed. But like the first one, this box spontaneously reboots, locks up now and then, or loses any ability to record anything or access what's already been recorded. Oh, you can fix it temporarily if you unplug the box completely and restart it, but that’s a real hassle, especially since it tends to freeze up when it starts recording. (In fact, the more I want to see some thing, such as Battlestar Galactica, the greater the odds the box will screw up just as it starts.) Right now, I have to unplug and reboot it two or three times a day. Luckily I’m home a lot to watch it fuck up and then to fix it, or otherwise I’d never see anything I wanted.
The next plan is to ditch the DVR/cable box altogether, get the non-recording HD box, and hope and pray it works with the Tivo. And then hope this can all be fixed before tomorrow night's rerun of Battlestar Galactica (which has is turning out to be the single best TV sci-fi I’ve ever experienced) that I missed Friday night because the goddamn machine froze up while I was out seeing Mike Albo's fantastic new show.
Oh, beloved Tivo, I have never missed you as much as I do right now.
And let the annual Winter nasal drip commence! Pardon me — I need more tissues now. I may also sacrifice a goat or two to try and ward off any strep throat or other tonsil-related nastiness.
In Young Avengers #1, J. Jonah Jameson says that after Bucky was killed, no one wanted to be like him anymore, and sidekicks were only things that were seen in comic books. Thinking more about it, I realized he might be right: except for Golden Age characters, Marvel's never really used the sidekick gimmick that much. They've had teenage characters galore, but none who were really sidekicks working as partners with or teen versions of adult characters. (Rick Jones, for instance, was always more of a tag-along than a costumed crimefighter.)
DC, on the other hand, has done it so often that there ought to be a metahuman version of social services to look into the whole thing.
So my question is: can you think of any true sidekicks in the Marvel Universe? Who am I forgetting?
My new favorite high-concept band should come as no surprise to any of you: Warp 11, whose mission is to rock out while exploring intertwined themes of sex, booze, and Star Trek. Get their album if you like anything you see or hear on their site. If they tickle your fancy, you may also want to check out another Trek tribute band, No Kill I, or some of the other stuff found on the Trekkies 2 soundtrack.
And shut up. I already know I’m a nerd.
In general, I’m fussy about my comics and fussy about my porn, so rarely do the two mix very well. Porn is tricky because often it's either too generic or too specifically constructed to punch someone's buttons other than my own. In the realm of illustrated erotica, where so much loving attention is paid to the artist's own interests, my appreciation is usually limited to a sort of cool, non-sexual interest in the technique, or a critical roll of the eyes. On top of all that, It's hard to tell a good story in a comic book, at least in a way where the writing, the art, and the appeal to someone's imagination all come together in just the right way. Although I’ve seen lots of gay comic art that’s sexual in nature, it's almost never struck the right balance of all those elements.
that’s why Sticky, from Eros Comix, was such an enormous, pleasant surprise. It does a beautiful job of telling a story in the comic medium, and it's also pretty hot. My pal Andy mentions in a review of his own that it's not very plot-heavy, which is technically true, but misleading. When I finally got my copy, I was actually pretty blown away by how well Dale Lazarov's plotting and Steve MacIsaac's artwork (there's no dialogue, so I’m actually a little unsure where the the writer's role ended and the artist's began) told the story of one couple's roll in the hay in exquisite, vivid detail. I don't mean the sometimes excruciating detail of a porn movie, but the kind of details you might notice when you're actually having sex with someone — a string of moments that can be hot, playful, tender, mischievous, and even a little funny.
I think that’s why this works as both porn and as a comic: the illustrated story feels real and not too contrived, with enough of the right elements thrown in to call to mind enough of my own romps. At the same time, it has great artwork that’s suited really well to this particular medium, and uses that to string together a story that wouldn't be quite so compelling if told (or shown) another way. that’s quite a trick (oh god, I totally did not mean that as a pun), and I’m impressed they pulled it off. Now I’m all excited to see what the second issue has in store!
(Disclosure: Dale Lazarov wrote and asked me if I was interested in getting a review copy of the comic. I had already heard about it and wanted to read it, so I happily agreed. I warned him, though, that I would tell the truth. Since I’m such a pussycat, though, I’m glad I was able to tell the truth and still say good things about it.)
Lifetime achiever Tom Coates dug up this pretty funny parody of the new Iron Man, done by someone who seems to hate everything that I love about the whole direction Warren Ellis is taking. I’ve never been a huge fan of Iron Man, but I’m a nerd, and so I’m thoroughly enjoying this whole thing that’s getting into Tony Stark's ethics and philosophy about technology. If we can go a few more issues without any damn repulsor rays, I'll be tickled pink. Pinker, even.
When a loyal reader alerted us to this list of the The Top Ten Cutest Comic Creators, PJ's immediate reaction was, "David Mack is totally my boyfriend," which was fine by me, because that left me free to continue my plot to make John Cassaday my captive love slave without conflict. After having a look through the list, though, I must confess that I may have to make room in the dungeon for Ale Garza and Stuart Sayger, too.
Contrary to the rumors, guys, we don't actually recruit, but we will make exceptions for you. We promise.
I’ve always had a soft spot for action figures thrust into irreverent situations: as a youngster I made Princess Leia into a private eye (modeled after Jessica Drew) with an office in a bookcase high-rise, and in college my annual Celebrity Nativity (Cher, Luke Skywalker, Jason Priestley, and the Hulk dolls all were used) was a dorm favorite. Adult Swim is loaded with excellent moments, but I find a lot of it hard to stay with for very long. I hope Robot Chicken doesn't let me down. But with a start like this, I’m certainly rooting for it.