Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fantastic Four 561


"The Death of the Invisible Woman" is so far a great arc. When I last reviewed this title, waaaay back in September, I was really jazzed. Millar and Hitch managed to make an interesting story, with great art, and decent characterization. All good. But have they kept the quality up with
Fantastic Four 561? Let's dive in.

It's endgame for the New Defenders and the future Invisible Woman as they siphon the combined energies of Doom and Johnny. Reed comes up with a clever way to track the Invisible Woman, and then the three Fantastic take on the New Defenders, including a possible future Wolverine. The New Defenders' plan to bring eight billion people into the world is - ahem - aborted, while the first arc's Nu-World is dusted off and used appropriately. Then, future Sue goes up to Doom and commits suicide, sort of.

Very well drawn. I would f*Very well drawn. I would f*$&ing hope so, considering this issue and the previous issue were late, contrary to strenuous promises otherwise. I really love Hitch's sense of action dynamic, placing the "camera" in the most logical spot, to show the most prevalent detail. It's a skill that many an artist lack.
amp;ing hope so, considering this issue and the previous issue were late, contrary to strenuous promises otherwise. I really love Hitch's sense of action dynamic, placing the "camera" in the most logical spot, to show the most prevalent detail. It's a skill that many an artist lack.

But the story? Well, the story is decent. The clever way that Reed tracks Sue is by implanting an indestructible tracker into Present-Sue's bloodstream, which Future-Sue will still have two hundred years hence. Very clever.

However, the not-so clever part? Why does Future-Sue go up to Doom if she knows that Doom is going to incinerate her? She mentions that it's weird seeing it from the opposite angle. Here's my problem. If Future-Sue knows that she's going to die, she obviously remembers the incident. Why wouldn't have also remembered the resolution and the use of Nu-World? Strange indeed, and that doesn't even take into account the apparent suicide she commits?

I liked the climax to this arc, and thought the quality was kept up. However, time travel stories are often confusing and never make a lick of sense, other than Morrison's
DC One Million.

Millar and Hitch, let's keep up the good work, okeedokee?

Happy Slapsgiving!

From the best current American sitcom, How I Met Your Mother

Thursday, November 27, 2008

2009's Big Project

A couple of months ago, I obtained the First Movement of Anthony Powell's A Dance To The Music Of Time, which encompasses the first three books of the twelve book cycle. I had heard of this long work of literature through either Wikipedia, or my tentative researches into Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu, of which I've only ever read the first two pages.

I had heard that Powell's novel sequence was daring, ingenious and of extremely high quality. I remember seeing the twelve novels sitting on the shelf at my local Chapters, and they looked interesting. I also really enjoy large challenges.

My big project for 2009 is to read the entire sequence, starting with
A Question of Upbringing. Hopefully, I will review each individual volume as I go.

A
Dance to the Music of Time is a semi-autobiographical roman a clef in which the narrator moves through life and society in England between the two World Wars. The title comes from the painting by Poussin, in which the Four Seasons dance around, in an endless cycle. The entire sequence is apparently about the great dance that we all do and the flow of time.

I began
A Question of Upbringing three days ago and I'm almost finished. Powell has a very relaxed storytelling-style with a good amount of wit and plenty of bon mots. He's sort of like Oscar Wilde. I'm finding it very addicting; it's like a comedy of manners, with a much high ambition.

Of course, this is all in preparation for me to read
À la recherche du temps perdu. I've read some of the greatest works of literature, and there's still way too much for me to even touch, but I will put in an effort. I also want to read War and Peace, but that seems very daunting right now. I will try.

Anyway, check back for my first review of the first novel in Anthony Powell's
A Dance to the Music of Time.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mini-Reviews!

Here we go...

Justice Society of America Kingdom Special Magog

Again. Another big title. Reading last's week Kingdom special made me sort of interested in the next chapter, which meant it did its job, so I picked up this new one written by Peter Tomasi and drawn by Fernando Pasarin. (Yes, the Tomasi that wrote the amazing Final Crisis: Requiem one-shot.) This issue does roughly the same thing as the last special: sum up polt points from the series and foreshadow events from the next big chapter. This issue specifically focuses Magog, the Marine raised fromt he dead by the mysterious Gog. I tried going to Wikipedia for more info on both characters, but I'm totally lost. Magog gets some background info, and some development, and he seems like an interesting character. It's not Shakespeare, but this issue, writing and art, makes for good comics.

Supergirl 35

No, I'm not reading this title normally. No, I'm not even reading the New Krypton storyline. However, this issue, focusing on Kara's relationship to her parents, and her kryptonite radiation, was interesting, but nothing compelling enough for me to read either the title or the arc. The art was okay, I guess, and luckily Supergirl isn't drawn like a loli. Decent characterization made this an okay read, but nothing to write home about.

The Punisher 64

No, I haven't read anything of this title since my beloved Garth Ennis left, but I thought I'd read this. Sort of wish I hadn't. Bad dialogue, murky confusing art, over-the-top narration, and Frank uses a shark to kill a man. Normally that would be cool if it wasn't for the pure Stallone-era cheese permeating the pages. This was not a very good comic.

Ultimate Fantastic Four 58

After jumping ship when Ultimate Thanos was introduced, I decided to come back to this title to see the fallout from Ultimatum. Would Marvel kill off Johnny Storm? No, apparently, not, he's "missing in action". Well, they tried. Anyway, this issue develops the Thing's character while he tries to find a cure for Sue's invisibility-induced coma from Ultimatum 1. This is a nice sweet fascinating comic for the entire family, and that's not a bad thing. No ripped-off limbs, no rape, and no ass-shots in this one. Through flashbacks we learn of the strange symbiotic relationship between Reed and Ben from their early years to the day of the "accident". I like how the Ultimate Thing isn't a carbon copy of the 616 Thing. He's a little bit more naive, but sweeter, almost. I really liked this issue, but I'm sad it ties into a Jeph Loeb event.

Amazing Spider-Man 578

Man, Spider-writers absolutely love the image of Spider-Man trapped under rubble. Mark Waid joins the team for a great first issue as Spidey takes a subway and gets trapped under miles of rubble when the train track gets blown to smithereens. Then, the Shocker gets involved, and there's a terrific close quarter fight with a fantastic exsplosion. After that, we're treated to a decent reveal that I did not expect and the story is continued in the next issue. Marcos Martin delivers a fantastic issue here that almost overshadows Waid's effortless writing. While the direction of the title is questionable, this story itself is phenomenal. I will definitely be reading the next issue.

Okay, that's this week's releases that I felt like reading. I tried reading the new Ambush Bug, but it did nothing for me and I couldn't finish it. Just not my taste, is all. Thanks for reading.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Marvel's February Solicits

Marvel has put out their solicits, but thanks to the secrecy of Dark Reign, both January and February give no information. Most of the solicits are blank. Great. Way to make me want to buy your comics, Marvel. Thanks. Okay, let's take a look at what I do want to buy.
FANTASTIC FOUR #564
Written by MARK MILLAR
Pencils & Cover by BRYAN HITCH
Dear Readers, you have our word that nothing this lame happens inside this very special Christmas issue. Yours sincerely, Mark and Bryan. Part 1 (of 2).
32 PGS./Rated T+ ...$2.99
Terrible description, but I will still buy it.
WAR OF KINGS: DARKHAWK #1 (of 2)
Written by C.B. CEBULSKI
Penciled by HARVEY TOLIBAO
Cover by BRANDON PETERSON
As WAR OF KINGS approaches, the ascension of Darkhawk begins! New Warrior...Avenger...Intergalactic destroyer?! Chris Powell has been many things over his young life, but now he's stepping up with a new life on the East Coast and a serious job at Project: P.E.G.A.S.U.S. But when his past comes back to haunt him and new information about his amulet and its legacy are violently brought to light, Darkhawk realizes he may have to face a much darker destiny that he ever realized. All this, plus the return of the Loners...and a reprint of DARKHAWK #1! You know how ANNIHILATION made you look twice at Nova (now star of a critically acclaimed series)? This is where Darkhawk takes off!
48 PGS./Rated T+ ...$3.99
What the hell is this? Darkhawk? Good lord.
NEW AVENGERS VOL. 8: SECRET INVASION BOOK 1 TPB
Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
Penciled by MICHAEL GAYDOS, DAVID MACK,
JIM CHEUNG & BILLY TAN
Cover by ALEKSI BRICLOT
The Avengers are trapped in the Savage Land, battling friend and foe. And Spider-Man heads to the one person in the entire place he knows he can trust: Ka-Zar! But is it really him? This important chapter rewinds the events of the very first New Avengers story and shows how it connects to the Invasion. Plus: the break up of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage; a major development in the life of Echo; and the story of how the Skrull empire was able to infiltrate the Marvel Universe, and who instigated the invasion and why. Collecting NEW AVENGERS #38-42.
120 PGS./Rated A ...$14.99
ISBN: 978-0-7851-2947-9
I'll be picking this up, if only because I'm getting the entire run in trade. My thoughts on Secret Invasion don't need to be repeated here, ad nauseum.
WOLVERINE OMNIBUS VOL. 1 HC MILLER COVER
Written by CHRIS CLAREMONT, BARRY WINDSOR-SMITH, LEN WEIN, PETER DAVID, MARY JO DUFFY, JAMES C. OWLSLEY & CARL POTTS
Penciled by JOHN BUSCEMA, BARRY WINDSOR-SMITH, HERB TRIMPE, TODD MCFARLANE, KEN LANDGRAF, FRANK MILLER, GENE COLAN, AL MILGROM, MARK BRIGHT, CARL POTTS & JIM LEE
Covers by FRANK MILLER & STEVE MCNIVEN
Some of the most pivotal moments in Wolverine's life, and you are there! His first fight with Sabretooth! His transformation into Weapon X, killing machine! His dynamic debut against the Incredible Hulk, and the solo adventures that led him away from the X-Men to mysterious Madripoor! His mentor Ogun, his lover Charlemagne, and more await discovery in these pages! Plus more classic battles against friends and foes alike! Featuring Spider-Man, Hercules, and the Punisher! Collecting MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #1-10, #72-84; INCREDIBLE HULK #180-182, #340; MARVEL TREASURY EDITION #26; BEST OF MARVEL COMICS HC; WOLVERINE (1982) #1-4, (1988) #1-10; KITTY PRYDE AND WOLVERINE #1-6; SPIDER-MAN VS. WOLVERINE #1; MARVEL AGE ANNUAL #4; PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL #6-7.
944 PGS./ Rated T+...$99.99
ISBN: 978-0-7851-3477-0
Huh. I don't have a love of Wolverine that much, but that seems like quite an encyclopedic collection. I'm not going to buy it, but I thought I'd feature it.

That's it for Marvel. Nothing extremely important... Oh well.

DC's February Solicits

I've missed the past couple months because there's nothing really good, other than Final Crisis being late and yet another edition of Watchmen in print. Let's get started with February, the post-Crisis month...
ABSOLUTE SUPERMAN: FOR TOMORROW HC
Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Jim Lee & Scott Williams
Cover by Jim Lee
From Brian Azzarello (100 BULLETS) and artists Jim Lee and Scott Williams (BATMAN: HUSH) comes this oversized, slipcased volume collecting the entire 12-issue "For Tomorrow" epic originally presented in SUPERMAN #204-215!
A cataclysmic event has struck the Earth. Millions of people have vanished without a trace. No one is left unaffected — not even Superman! Now, the Man of Steel must face the mystery of how millions of people vanished without a trace, only to find that he may be responsible. But the solution leads to a royal rumble with Wonder Woman! And after a battle with the deadly Equus, Superman comes face-to-face with the villain who has been responsible for turning his life upside-down!
Featuring an introduction by Azzarello, an afterward and sketch section by Lee and a newly illustrated 2-page origin of Superman by Lee & Williams!
Advance-solicited; on sale April 29 • 340 pg, FC, 8.25” x 12.5”, $75.00 US
I absolutely cannot believe this is an Absolute edition. Not only is the story confusing and preachy but the art isn't that great. Let's see All-Star Superman in Absolute, please and thank you.
100 BULLETS #100
Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Eduardo Risso
Cover by Dave Johnson
This is it. Nearly a decade in the making, the Eisner Award-winning, critically acclaimed series comes to its inevitably blood-soaked end. What final fate do agent Graves and the rest of the cast face? Who will be left standing when the gun smoke clears? Find out in the epic, final issue of the series Playboy magazine called “a meditation on money, power and morality...for our money, the best current ongoing series.”
FINAL ISSUE • On sale February 11 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • MATURE READERS
God I can't wait. This is such a terrific series. I'm reading it in trade, so nobody spoil it for me.
GREEN LANTERN #39
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Philip Tan & Jonathan Glapion
Cover by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert
Variant cover by Rodolfo Migliari
"Agent Orange" Part 1 and featuring an “Origins and Omens” backup tale! As the orange light of avarice erupts in violence within the Vega System, the secrets of the Guardians' pact with the criminals of the universe that has kept the Vega System off limits is revealed. Hal Jordan comes face to face with the mysterious and immensely powerful Agent Orange in a bizarre confrontation.
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. For every 25 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Rodolfo Migliari ). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale February 25 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Remember when I complained about the simplistic way Johns was taking this story? Yeah, this slow slow slow build-up to seeing Zombie Lanterns running around is getting to me.

That's it for DC. Nothing good, see?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Revolutionary Road comes out Dec 26

I wonder if the g/f will let me go see it. I've been reading every Richard Yates book I can get my hands on since I read Revolutionary Road. Watch out for an epic review post, where I review every other Yates title.

Blu-Ray makes my day!

Yay, a rhyming post title. Hoo-rah and all that jazz. I know it's been a bit since I've posted, but again, it's that damnable work sucking all of my time and energy. This week, I thought I would reward myself for refusing to purchase a lot of everything and nothing needed. I recently absconded from the parents' house with a Playstation 3, which is Blu-Ray enabled. What's amazing in these tangentially related thoughts is that since I got the PS3, I haven't picked up any Blu-Ray discs. That's amazing. Well, that streak (of a month) ended yesterday when I grabbed myself a copy of the best movie of the year, Wall-E.

Here's something to chew over. The 2 disc version of
Wall-E on Blu-Ray was $32.99 (Oy. I remember when DVDs were that price. Blu-Ray will go down in price eventually). I always buy the special editions of movie; don't ask, I'm a geek. Anyway, the 3 disc version on regular ol' crummy DVD was $34.99. So it was cheaper to buy it on Blu-Ray. Not only was it cheaper, but I would've been dumb to pass on it. In fact, it was my duty as a consumer to seek out the best bargain and therefore, I had to buy it.

Materialist rationalizing aside, I also managed to pick up Earth: The Biography on Blu-Ray for 30 dollars. Hosted by Dr Iain Stewart (sporting a ludicrously thick Scottish accent), this documentary takes the Planet Earth approach, in that each episode is based around an element, whether that be the atmosphere or volcanoes. It's all very interesting, but the narration and production values aren't up to the par set by
Planet Earth.

My first Blu-Rays... oh, I remember those days of purchasing on a new format. It's very exciting. I know for a fact what my next purchase on Blu-Ray is going to be: The Dark Knight, which I saw in the Imax last week. Every time I think of this movie, it gets better in my head. There's so much going on in the film, in terms of theme and character, and it's bad-ass as all hell. The Blu-Ray version comes out December 9 (the day after my dad's birthday) and is two discs. I will be buying that.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mini-Reviews!

I read a couple title this week that I don't normally, if only so I could review them. This edition of Mini-Reviews is going to be fairly substantial.

Ultimatum 1 of 5


Who keeps letting Jeph Loeb write these things? This is absolutely terrible. A natural disaster happens, but not before Loeb can hit all the basic character moments that even a fan-fic writer can do. Some people die, and Professor X lets everybody know that it's Magneto's fault and his plan is to kill everybody while he sits in his floating city. Not a lot of plot, not a lot of story, but a lot of poses and yelling. I decree this to be FAIL.

Wolverine 69

This is part something of the endless Old Man Logan storyline by white-hot writer Mark Millar and penciled by Steve McNiven and it's terrible. Hawkeye and Logan make their way across the war-torn post-apocalyptic USA and there's lots of cool references to things that we won't ever see, like why is the Baxter Building sitting on top of the giant skeleton of Loki. That's what I want to see, and I know Millar is simply teasing us. Not only does it not add to the story, which is Unforgiven starring Wolverine, but it's like Millar is elbowing me in the ribs so hard that I have bruises. Of course, the art is tremendous, but the dialogue and story is preposterously bad.

Amazing Spider-Man 577

This issue has some amazing pencilwork by Paolo Rivera, whom I've never heard of, and does fantastic facial expressions. The Punisher and Spider-Man team up and stuff happens and Frank is a badass, like usual. This Frank is fairly close to the Ennis MAX version, but with a better sense of humour. The last time I read this title, I was close to vomit, and this time, I'm pleased as punch. You're still hit and miss, Amazing Spider-Man, but you're getting slowly better.

JSA Kingdom Come Special Superman One-Shot

Oy that's a title and a half. If you haven't read Kingdom Come (which I have) or are reading JSA (which I'm not), this isn't going to make a lick of sense. A painted summary of the events in Kingdom Come and in JSA, all to the tune of $3.99 - I think not, DC Comics. I think not. Also, here's a tip for Alex Ross... don't write dialogue, you just aren't any good at it. Also, the symbolism of Kingdom Come was fairly obvious in its original form, Ross didn't need to bang us over the head with it. It's almost like Ross wrote, between the panels, "do you SEE?!?!?! do you SEE, sheeple?" Oh, Alex Ross, when will you learn?

Batman: Cacophony 1

The only other Kevin Smith comic I read was his terrible arc on Daredevil with Joe Quesada on pencils. I've heard all the late jokes, though, so let's get into the review. Deadshot is hired to kill the Joker because of a new drug based on his laughing gas. Onomatopoeia, a Kevin Smith-designed villain is also there, and then a gang war happens because of the Joker's escape. Or something like that. This is the wordiest, most verbally dense comic I've ever read and I was bored to tears. The only parts of the comic I liked are the ones that featured Deadshot (ie one of the best parts of Ostrander's Suicide Squad) and what I hated most was Batman's hamfisted, over-the-top and painfully obvious narration. It's like Kevin Smith has never read a Batman comic before; he doesn't talk like that. This is one comic to avoid.

Detective Comics 850

Terrific. The finale to the Hush storyline is perfect in almost every way. Comics are always going to cycical; they will always return to the status quo. It's not the destination, but the journey, after all, and that may be a cliche, but it's very true in this case. Hush attacks Batman via his heart, literally and figuratively, and things go back to normal at the end of this issue. It's the fight, the emotional one and the physical one, that make this a perfect issue. I was extremely entertained by this, and I want to read more of Dini and Nguyen. Best Batman comic out there, currently.

That concludes this fairly hefty Mini-Reviews for you. Join us again for more....

Romeo Dallaire

When I was in Grade 10 or 11, I took an optional history course about the modern world. We learned about controversial subjects such as the role of the media, the role of advertising, the Holocaust and the Holodomar. We also learned about the most important thing I ever learned in high school: the Rwandan genocide.

The Holocaust and the Holodomar are very important, and I don't mean to minimize the sheer tragedy of either, but the Rwandan genocide happened
while I was alive, while I was playing with my toys and watching my movies and reading my comics and living my tiny life. I was nine years old in 1994 and I had no idea it was happening.

I also learned about Romeo Dallaire.

I talk a lot about superheroes and fictions and stories. I tend to like superheroes such as Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, Captain America, etc. Men that stand up for what they believe in, men of conviction, of action.

Dallaire isn't a superhero. Dallaire's hands were tied during the genocide. He pleaded for more soldiers, and his request was refused. He became not a man of action, but an observer, forced to watch the most heinous and violent acts of that decade. He became a victim.

But his story doesn't end there. He was released from the military suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. He was found under a park bench almost in a coma.

Amazingly, he rose from this dark pit and began lecturing about his experiences. He wrote a book called
Shake Hands with the Devil, and he was appointed a Senator.

Romeo Dallaire became a hero when he told his story. He became a hero when he told the story of the Rwandan Genocide. How he found the courage to tell this story is the reason why he is a hero, not because he was there.

I salute you, Dallaire, and I urge everybody to read his book and to learn about the genocide. It is only through education that we can avoid the same mistakes.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Meet the new family

You remember when you met my family? Well, I moved out from my parents' house on Halloween and now I live with my g/f in a house with three more people, two of which are a couple and landlords. It's a great set-up for both me and the g/f as we see it as a stepping stone towards our own place. That being said, I now live with a new family, and I'd like you to meet the creatures, great and small, although mostly small.

First off, there's the master of the house, Felix, a female black cat who is the epitome of evil. I've never met such a willfully mean cat. She will hunt you, scratch you and bite you with no provocation whatsoever. One time, I needed to get her up the stairs, so I stomped after her, thinking that a big hulk such as myself would scare her, but at the top of the stairs, she turned around and waited for me and slashed at me. She set a trap! Also, on Halloween, she scratched my face and my shoulder bad enough that people at work thought I got into a fight and/or car accident. Still, she is one of the cutest cats ever.

Next, we have the newest addition to the family, Magellan. The story behind the name is complex. On the trip to California, the g/f and I came up with nicknames for ourselves, mine being of course Han Solo and hers being Magellan because she was in charge of navigation. When we got to the Trees of Mystery, we each purchased baby sequoias. I named mine after the g/f, calling it Magellan (hers I named Latoya The Sequoia). At home, my cat, Sadie, peed all over the baby tree and killed it. The next day we got a bunny and we named it after the dead tree. See, I told you it was complicated.

Magellan really likes people and is very excited when anybody walks by or says hello to him. He also really likes snuggling with people, but I don't do it for very long because he poops and pees wherever he feels like it. He's very cute and we rescued him from a not great environment. We put him in the living room so that he can see everybody and be a part of the family. My g/f absolutely
adores the bunny and she's always wanted to get one.

So that's the new family. I miss my dog and my Sadie terribly, but I can still see them when I want as my parents' house isn't that far away.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More Watchmen Posters

These posters are character-based now, and look really painted and Photo-shopped. I don't much care for them.... Click here for the posters in hi-res.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

New Watchmen Poster


Neat poster for
Watchmen, but derivative of the Joker poster for The Dark Knight. Still, it's making me jazzed for the movie!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Politics of Barack Obama

In my last post about Obama, I said he was inspiring and I thought he was going to be a great man, but I didn't say why. Instead, I portrayed him as a messianic figure come to save us all. What I meant, was that Obama would inspire the people. But where is Obama on the political spectrum? Why do I like Obama other than for his personality? In this post, I'm going to take a look at specific political positions that Obama has taken and measure them against my pseudo-libertarian leanings.

Firstly, and most importantly, where does the man stand on abortion? He says that "abortion should be made legally available in accordance with
Roe v. Wade". That's awesome. That's my big thing right there. To me, there's nothing more important than the freedom of choice for those who need or want abortion.

Notice how Obama has worded it. Neither is he for or against abortion itself. He's simply saying that it's the law and it's the people's choice. That's the misconception that people have about pro-choice. It's not about being for abortion, it's about being for the choice to do it.

My second major issue is where does Obama stand on gay marriage? Well, according to this blog, a link to an MTV interview, "Obama told MTV he believes marriage is 'between a man and a woman' and that he is 'not in favor of gay marriage'." However, Obama has publicly stated that he is opposed to Proposition 8 in California which would remove marriage from the LGBT community. As well, Obama has proposed a compromise, a civil union in which the same equality is given.

Meh, not really a compromise, Obama. This is where we differ greatly. A civil union is exactly that. A marriage is something else entirely. If a civil union has the same rights as a marriage, why not give them marriage? The civil union is being extended as a peace offering, while the goal of marriage is being lifted away. That signals to me that a civil union is
lesser than a marriage, regardless of how "equal" the rights may seem.

So far we have one for and one against Barack Obama. Let's move on, shall we?

Does Obama support stem-cell research? Yes. Obama even spoke out against President Bush's veto of the bill for research. That's classy.

Even I don't do any drugs whatsoever, I can't possibly argue against the decriminalization of marijuana, which Obama contends the US should do. He also thinks that medicinal marijuana growers should be left alone by the DEA, as the DEA "have better things to do."

In terms of eduction, Obama has an interesting position. He supports higher pay for teachers, which is great, but he also supports a merit pay, a system developed with teachers. Erm, that sounds wonky. First of all, no one teacher is the same and no one student is the same. The pay the teachers based on results sounds almost like commercializing the profession, turning students into commodities. Children are already targets by mass media and advertisement; let them be kids not products.

Intelligent design? Obama does not want it taught as scientific fact but as a theology. Let them treat it as folklore or mythology, I say.

Unlike Canada, the US does not have a universal health care system. Obama vows to have one implemented by the end of the first term. That's absolutely astonishing. Tommy Douglas, the creator of the health care system, was voted the greatest Canadian of all time. Imagine if Obama did that!

Remember that big immigration debate? Well, I do and so does Obama. Not only does he support letting the 12 million illegal immigrants have driver's licenses, but he also wants an earned pathway to citizenship for them. That's terrific. He voted against making English the official language of the federal government, which says to me that he recognizes the multicultural of his country; I would hope so considering his own ethnic background.

This is terrific. Only his position on gay marriage and education seems wonky, but otherwise, we're on the same page, he and I.

Finally, and almost as important as abortion: he opposes the war in Iraq. Absolutely outstanding.

So there you have it. Not only do I like him as a personality, but I like him as a politician. I will be following his presidency very carefully, just like I tried to do with Clinton's second term.

A winter wonderland

It was a completely dry Halloween and five days later, this happens...
It makes me excited for Christmas.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Yes We Can

Barack Obama is the new President of the United States of America. Well okay. That's just great. I didn't vote for Obama, as I live in Canada (I voted for the Liberals, the Canadian equilivalent to the Democrats), but I would have if I lived in the States (preferably in Montana or California). The reason being? He's a fantastic orator, he's intelligent, and he's calling for massive changes. Yes, we can, he tells us over and over again. Yes, we can.

For me, this is the most inspiring person since Romeo Dallaire, the only living man I would call a hero. Coincidentally, Dallaire is the recipient of the Order of Canada. The motto of that aware being
desiderantes meliorem patriam, meaning "They desire a better country."

Obama is new to politics, relatively, and he's not going to be a perfect President. But, if he can inspire the people to take action, make changes and strive for something better than what they have, or what they are, then isn't that what makes a great man? If he can inspire people to make change then he will be a great man.

"Yes we can to justice and equality. Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity. Yes we can heal this nation. Yes we can repair this world. Yes we can."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Fifth Of November

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Birthday Loot

This year I had a pretty good haul. I recently purchased a PS3 and a PSP, so mostly I asked for video games, and I asked for a bunch of Blu-Ray movies (cause of the PS3), and I asked for some books (Richard Yates mostly).

Here's what I got:

LEGO Batman for PSP

LEGO Indiana Jones for PSP

LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy for PSP

Call of Duty 3

Call of Duty 4

LittleBigPlanet

The Complete Plays by Bernard Shaw

The Mel Brooks Collection

So all in all, a really good birthday. I took two days off from work and hung out with my g/f and with my friends and I watched History Of The World: Part 1 and the new Futurama movie and I slept in, and I got some stuff taken care of.

So far, LEGO Batman has been a blast, LittleBigPlanet is irresistibly cute, Call of Duty 4 is really hard, but really awesome, and LEGO Star Wars doesn't want to work on my PSP. Oh well.

Here's to being 24, and here's to another year. Thanks, g/f and family.

Five Favourite TV Shows

So the big news in my life is that I've moved out, and on top of that, I can't afford cable, so I don't have television anymore. Which really isn't a problem, considering in the last couple years, I've been drifting away from TV. I managed to watch the shows I wanted to watch via DVD or via other means (ahem), so I don't really need to watch TV anymore. In the spirit of mourning a friend, I'm going to list, in no particular order, five of my favourite TV shows ever.

The Sopranos

It's like a huge sprawling novel about life in the mafia in New Jersey. Complex, funny, suspenseful, intricate, very symbolic and very engaging are all words I use to describe this show. When it first began in 1999, I didn't have access to HBO, but my mom's friend did, and we borrowed her VHS tapes, copies made of the show. That started my intense addiction to the show. It wasn't until about the fourth season when I began to watch the show with a more critical eye. I graduated high school and graduated from university in the time it took for this show to finish, and both institutions gave me the power to analyze and understand
The Sopranos on a more detailed level. After every episode, I would pour over the details and discern meaning from seemingly random images and events, which to me, is the sign of a great work of art. It certainly helps that the show itself is entertaining on a superficial level, as well. This certainly isn't Finnegans Wake.

Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law

Using an old Hanna-Barbara cartoon as a launching pad, this short 11 minute show positioned a superhero as a lawyer, and had him taking famous characters as clients. A simple, albeit high concept, the show capitalized on the trend of nostalgia that
Family Guy and Robot Chicken are beating like a dead horse. The show was mind-boggling funny and used its supporting cast to the best possible degree. There's tons of quotable dialogue, and hilarious situations and memorable characters. It's definitely not Ulysses, but it continues to entertain me.

Six Feet Under

I tend to watch shows that have big complex overarching plots, like
The Sopranos, or The Venture Brothers, or The X-Files, and I've never really been into family dramas. But one exception to the rule is the outstanding Six Feet Under. Created by American Beauty writer Alan Ball, it's the story of a family who owns and operates a funeral home. Of course, the family is dysfunctional, and the fights and arguments stretch over handfuls of episodes, but at its core, the entire, overarching story is one of the family's redemption in the face of their own personality problems and quirks. Built from solid acting, three dimensional characters, and an uncanny understanding of "the human condition", this is a tremendous show. The finale is probably the only thing other than Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey that makes me blubber with tears.

Futurama

As I write this, the third full length direct to DVD film,
Bender's Game, came out. I purchased it via gift certificate I got from my mom (thanks, Mom) and I watched it with my g/f. Not only is Futurama the funniest, smartest, best animated show that currently runs on TV, but it's the geekiest. Family Guy plays off its nostalgia factor, whereas Futurama uses geek knowledge and geek culture. The more obscure, the better, it seems. It also has a heart at the centre; the romance between Leela and Fry is what pushes the show forward, just like the romance at the heart of The Office (the UK version). And it's just plain funny.

Seinfeld

The best sitcom ever. Endlessly watchable, endlessly quotable, and endlessly influential. There was never a sitcom like it before. Oft-imitated and never duplicated, Seinfeld is the apex of American situation comedy. Its jargon and inner language has forever infiltrated the real lexicon of the world, and there ain't no turning back. Nobody learns any lessons and nobody grows; it's the anti-sitcom, while at the same time embracing everything about the sitcom. I can't really say anything new about the show, as many other critics have examined the show better.

So those are the five TV shows that I can't really live without. There are plenty of runner-ups, including
The Venture Brothers, Gilmore Girls, How I Met Your Mother, early Simpsons, and of course, a billion British sitcoms that I don't have time to praise.

Goodbye, TV, I'll see you again.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Halloween

I know it's November, but here are some pics of pumpkins that my friends, including my wonderful g/f, made. The photos don't really do them justice. Sorry. Click each photo to make them ridiculous big-sized.

Mini-Reviews!

Fifth weeks are a strange bunch, alright. Let's start this edition of Mini-Reviews.

Battlefields - The Night Witches 1 of 3

Thanks heavens that Garth Ennis is as prolific as he is. I couldn't bear to wait months and months and possibly years for another project by that guy. Luckily, today, I read the first issue of his new ongoing for Dynamite. Apparently, the idea behind the series is to show the little known facets of the second World War, this time, starting with Russian women who are enlisted to fly planes. The first issue is tightly plotted, as we've come to expect from a writer such as Ennis, and isn't entirely set-up. There's some great character moments, and one terrific action scene. I really liked this first issue, and I look forward to the next.

Hellboy - In The Chapel of Moloch

Oh my god. A Hellboy comic written AND drawn by Mike Mignola? That's fantastic. It's been too long since I've seen one of those. This done-in-one story shows Hellboy going to South Portugal to help deal with a painter's problem with an old chapel. Hellboy solves the mystery quite quickly, and gives the audience a bit of a history and art lesson, then fights the crap out of a living statue. It's got the great art, it's got the fantastic dialogue for Hellboy, and it's got the fascinating story. But... the scale isn't big enough. If we're going to see a Mignola drawn Hellboy story, I want it to be The Wall, rather than Obscured by Clouds. I mean I liked the comic, but I wish there was more to it.

Incredible Hercules 122

Last time I reviewed this comic, I called it possibly the best Marvel title out there. This issue doesn't disappoint. It's funny, it's got great action, great character moments, wonderfully expressive art (Kevin Maguire-style) and a ballin' cliffhanger. Cho gets suckered into translating an ancient Atlantean text, Hercules gets blinded, Namor gets angry and Namora punches the crap out of everything. Again, it's a pleasure to read this every month and I look forward to it.

Secret Invasion: Thor 3 of 3

Can I just say that in this issue, Thor and Bill literally drop the city of Asgard on the Skrulls in order to kill them? What else is there to say other than that? Get Matt Fraction on the main title please. Right now.

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual 3

Oh, the sex issue. Normally, I don't read this title monthly, as I prefer to read it in trade, but I thought I would pick this up because it's a Very Important Issue. Mary Jane wants to go all the way. Peter doesn't. Spider-Man fights Mysterio. Peter and Mary Jane have the talk, and ultimately decide not to do it quite yet. Bendis manages to make the issue neither sleazy nor preachy, but it still strikes me as being Puritanical. Without getting political here, I admit I would have written the issue differently.... Anyway, this comic has some strong art, strong dialogue, and a decent way of dealing with their relationship.

Amazing Spider-Man 574

I admit right from the start that I couldn't finish this painfully obvious and cliched "relevant" comic about the Iraq War and my least favourite supporting character ever, Flash Thompson. This was a stupid comic that hit all the cliched bits, including the friend who gets injured and dies in Flash's arms. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

That's it for this edition of Mini-Reviews! Yay!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns


One of the best events last year was the
Sinestro Corps War, masterminded by Geoff Johns. It was exciting and the stakes were high, and everything was really bad-ass, especially since Superboy Prime and the Anti-Monitor were involved. And since Final Crisis is setting up the major status quo for DC for the next couple years, it's time for more set up for The Blackest Night, the culmination of Johns' plans for Green Lantern. That set up is the one-shot Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns.

Atrocitus pukes some blood and recites the goofiest Lantern oath ever created. They should have called Alan Moore for this. Sinestro gets sentenced to execution. Hal Jordan wrestles with concepts of justice and vengeance. The Yellow Lanterns attack the 3:10 To Yuma-style crew of John Stewart, Hal, and other famous Lanterns. Then the Red Lanterns appear, including a kitty-cat, and there's a fight. Then a Blue Lantern appears and it's to be continued.

By the way, this is tangentially related to Final Crisis, at best. There's a couple lines of dialogue referring to the death of Orion, but that's about it. This is all set-up and about introducing the new villains on the scene.

The Red Lanterns are literally about puking blood. They ralph blood in the face of their enemies. They ralph blood while reciting their oath. They even ralph blood while they're sitting reading the paper and enjoying a nice warm mug of hot cocoa, or eggnog if it's close to Christmas time.

I want to badly get into this war of the Lanterns. As I say, the
Sinestro Corps War was ballin'. But adding more colours to the mix seems simplistic and monochromatic, if you'll let me explain.

What makes the Red Lanterns different than the Yellow Lanterns? Apparently the difference is rage and fear are their respective emotions. But in this comic, they really act the exact same way: villainous and violent. It seems like their costumes and their oaths are the only discernible distinctions between them.

It bugs me that in fiction, especially science fiction, writers will assign one single emotion to a large group of people. For example, Vulcans. Apparently they're all logical and cold and unfeeling. The human race has tons of examples of people who are cold and logical, but we're not all like that. Aliens are almost always characterized as a shade, as one emotion. But three dimensional characters always have different emotions depending on motivation, background, and plot. That's what makes them three dimensional.

It's lazy writing. How can I get behind the idea of a bunch of people running around space spewing blood and being all mad all the time? Are they even mad when there's no fighting? Are they always raging? Probably not, but to show that would take away from the character's one-sideness.

Don't even get me started on the Lanterns who are based on greed? What are they going to do? Get ridiculous and eat up all your crackers and your licorice?

Anyway, Digital Underground references aside, this comic is decent, but it's trying way too hard to be bad-ass. It's also nonsensical considering my aforementioned problems with the one-emotion/one-race problem. Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns is set-up, pure and simple, and it's entertaining, but not in the way it's intended.