Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Took him long enough

Bush: Iraq insurgents hurt U.S. efforts

By Terence Hunt, AP White House correspondent

WASHINGTON - Summing up a year of set-backs, President Bush conceded Wednesday that insurgents in Iraq thwarted U.S. efforts at “establishing security and stability throughout the country.”

This must have killed him. I bet you could hear little brain cells popping from the strain throughout the West Wing.

And all it took was nearly four years and almost 3,000 American lives.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

You're gonna crap thunder

God help me - I think we have to watch this.

When I heard about "Rocky Balboa," I thought it was a joke. Stallone was going to make another Rocky movie? Why? There's nothing left to say, and you've already stolen any dignity left in the property. And hey, Sly ... you're ooooooooooooollld.

Normally, I'm an unapologetic Rocky fan. I still tear up when Rocky calls out to Adrian, and I hate commies all over again when Drago kills Apollo. I openly weep when Mickey dies. Even when the movies became more and more cornball, I still loved the Rocky series.

Well, except for "Rocky V" - what a piece of crap that was. I refuse to even link to that steaming pile. And of course, that movie was the first thing I thought of when I heard about "Rocky Balboa." Why would I want to watch Stallone trot out his aging Italian Stallion one more time, along with his apparently oversized ego? Rocky was brain-damaged in the last one, so what could we expect in the latest installment - two hours of drooling?

But, I bargained with myself, I did see all of the movies in the theater, and I hate to let a perfect record go to waste. And it is Rocky.

And then, I was watching the trailer the other day and it had a line that just totally sold me on the whole thing. Duke (Apollo's original corner man, and total bad-ass) is telling Rocky what they'll need to do if they want to have any chance at a comeback, and it doesn't sound good:

To beat this guy, you need speed; you don't have it. You've got calcium deposits on most of your joints, so sparring is out.

Damn, Duke - is there any good news?

So what we'll be calling on is blunt. Force. Trauma. Heavy-duty punches that will rattle his ancestors.

And then Duke raises both fists like they were hammers and says:

Let's start building some hurtin'-bombs.

I was wrong - we need to watch this.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday takes a hike

Looking for comic book-goodness? Thanks to your support and encouragement (and the awesome coding skills of E), it can now be found right here.

We now return to our regularly scheduled Bean. Mmm-mm ... delicious!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Has anyone else ever heard of this? Apparently, you hide a pickle ornament somewhere on the Christmas tree and it's good luck for the person who finds it.

Who the hell thought up the idea of a "Christmas Pickle?" Would a pickle chip count? Does Hannukah get a gherkin or what?

Either way I feel obligated to do it this year, if for no other reason than to be able to say, "I put my pickle in your tree."

Monday, December 04, 2006

In flight

The downside to the sudden roller coaster-dip in the weather is that it's been a surprise to the local wildlife, too.

As we were leaving the building this morning on our way to work, we saw something at the end of the walk. I thought it was a kid's coat or sweater. Lopez thought it was the neighbor's stray cat, which he's been feeding for a few months. It turned out to be a hawk, compact and muscular and dead. Lying there on the concrete, it was still beautiful, as magnificent as it was sad.

Making sure there was nothing we could do for it, we left it there, figuring the people running the office would be better equipped to deal with it than we were. Then, getting into the car, Lopez noticed something.

Huddled next to the tire of the car next to us was a tiny sparrow, puffed up and motionless. I went to take a look at it, and it turned its little head toward me. It was alive.

We took a box from the trunk, and while Lopez crumpled up newspapers I picked the bird up in a piece of cloth. It fluttered its wings, but couldn't take off. We gently put the bird in the box, covering the top with a paper bag.

Driving across the street, we stopped to pick up some breakfast on the way to work, which took about 10 minutes. We got back into the car and Lopez asked, "How's the birdie doing?"

I checked and said, "Oh." The sparrow had died, wrapped in cloth and nestled in newspaper.

I told Lopez, "At least he died comfortable, and not on the street."

Lopez sighed. Then she said, "Poor babies."

Friday, December 01, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday says nyet!

Damn, GL - slapping Russians around with a giant bear ... that's kind of an ironic bitch-slap, isn't it?

I've mentioned before how Green Lantern has always been a front-runner on my top-heroes list, and this panel from Green Lantern #15 sums up why. When I say "Green Lantern" I'm talking about Hal Jordan, and in the classic Silver and Bronze Age interpretations you could always count on some visually wacky action to go along with Hal's charming brand of dickery. Seriously, using the most powerful weapon in the universe to bop someone with a glowing mallet? That's just rubbing it in.

In the newish run written by Geoff Johns and pencilled by Ivan Reis, that version of Green Lantern has been updated while rediscovering all the things that gave Hal his personality - hard-headedness, bravery, nobility, a rakishness that implied he was considering stealing your girlfriend after he was done handing you your ass. Basically, what a normal person might act like if they fell into their own super-powers. Say what you will about Johns and what he's done with the DC universe lately, but he understands characters and is able to elevate and humanize them all at once.

It doesn't hurt that Reis' art is gorgeous, following in the style of Rags Morales and Patrick Gleason. It's perfect for the blend of spandex and science fiction that a Green Lantern title should be; kinetic and detailed without being busy or distracting. And I don't usually mention it, but the inking by Oclair Albert and coloring by Moose Baumann is top-notch, enhancing the whole thing.

But seriously, what's Hal gonna do next - box Australians with a giant kangaroo? Wait a minute ... I think he already might've ...

Green Lantern #15: Geoff Johns, writer; Ivan Reis, artist; Oclair Albert, inker; Moose Baumann, colorist


After 11 months of summer, the heat broke at last. You'll hear native Austinites get expansive about the heat and humidity with something like a deranged pride, drinking coffee while they slap around everywhere in their flip-flops.

But even they were were starting to sound desperate and everyone was wondering if it was ever going to get cold.

Apparently, you don't mess with Mother Nature because she's a fickle chick - it was 80 degrees the day before the temperature dropped like a prom dress to the 40s.

So what? So I finally got to wear this*:

Ear-flaps included! Oh yeah, I look like a goofball - but my melon is warmed by a blend of polyester and memories of Cloudcroft, and it finally feels like Fall around here. I guess I won't be starting a one-man riot and changing my name to Mookie after all.

Now if we could just get those yahoos to stop with the flip-flops already.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A question

I'm thinking of starting a comics blog - what do you guys think?

It would be reviews (along the lines of the Favorite Panel Friday thing) and general comic book geekiness. This blog was always meant to be a what-the-hell-throw-in-the-kitchen-sink-too sort of thing put together by me and Lopez!, but somewhere along the way it got reeeeallly comics heavy. So I thought, why not do one of those while I'm at it?

That way, other interests like politics, pop culture and pictures from around town wouldn't get unfairly buried here at the Bean so much, and I could go koo-koo-bananas with the comics stuff on the other blog. I'd be lying if I said it wouldn't help me organize posts a little better, too.

And I've already got an awesome name picked out for it.

I know most of you don't comment often (or ever), but I'd like your opinion so try to muster the ganas, OK? That way I'll know and, of course, knowing is half the battle!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Hey turkeys!

Gooobble, gobble-gobble!
Fat turkeys, fat turkeys!!!

Gooobble, gobble-gobble!
Fat turkeys are we!

We're not made for livin',
We're made for Thanksgivin'!!

Goooble, gobble-gobble!
Fat turkeys are we!!

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday goes for two

The Escapists #5 is ... well, it's a toughie. To be honest, I've been putting off bringing up this mini-series, even though it's been on the FPF short-list almost every week it's come out. But it can no longer be denied, so feast your eyes on the first-ever two-panel FPF Panelpalooza! Grab your ass with both hands, kids - this is history!

Urm. Yeah, so two wildly different art styles are used to tell two very different - but parallel - stories in this six-parter. One of those stories takes place as a superhero comic, the other as the story of the people creating that comic. Both of them, strangely enough, feature people in costume.

It's all very meta. It's also, at heart, a love letter. Michael Chabon's Pulitzer-winning novel "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" has managed to spin off a series of comic anthologies by various contributors, but The Escapists is the one that lays out the comic-love in all it's geeky glory.

Brian K. Vaughn (man, that dude really IS everywhere!) nicely balances glimpses of the latest story of The Escapist with the mostly mundane story of the three friends producing that story, which is where Vaughn's pitter-pat beats loudest. The superhero story is fun, but it's the everyday lives playing out in Cleveland that you end up caring about most. What the hell was Max thinking? Was that the last straw for Case? Is Denny going to be OK? Are they going to be able to get the next issue out?!?

In a neat twist - who knows if it was on purpose or not - the more sketchily realistic art by Jason Shawn Alexander is used to tell the superhero story while Steve Rolston's rounded-edge, cartoony style depicts the story playing out in the real world. In the comic. I'm not trying to be confusing. Honest.

But look at Alexander's depiction of The Saboteur - man, he just oozes evil! And look at the detail in Case's room; that one panel by Rolston tells you a ton about the character with simple attention to background. Both artists' work sets just the right tone for their respective stories, and dovetail into each seamlessly until they reflect and amplify each other in a way that adds depth to both. It's a pretty slick trick, and one that could easily fall apart if you weren't careful.

But, with one issue left to go, it seems pretty clear that Vaughn, Rolston and Alexander are keeping a protective arm around The Escapists. When you love something, after all, it's only natural.

The Escapists #5: Brian K. Vaughn, writer; Steve Rolston, artist; Jason Shawn Alexander, artist

Friday, November 10, 2006

Damn you, Favorite Panel Friday!

Looking at this panel, you know things aren't going to turn out well for somebody. But take a closer look at it, and you'll see the energy and details that make The Damned such a great fusion of spookhouse horror and gritty crime noir.

Besides the obvious menace of one big, friggin' demon, the Prohibition-era atmosphere is thick in this shot from The Damned #2. Look at the way our little anti-hero Eddie is already reaching for his gun. Look at the crates and warehouses and scattering sea gulls that remind the reader they're at the docks, and that THE DOCKS ARE NOT A GOOD PLACE TO BE.

The Damned is laced with an undercurrent of menace, whether it's a scene involving mobsters from hell or a rough kiss delivered with one arm twisted behind your back, and it all makes for a hell of a fun read. I've also been a fan of Brian Hurtt for a while now, so it's nice to see him making a reappearance so soon after Hard Time got the unwarranted ax (check out his excellent work on Queen & Country, too). Hopefully, this collaboration with author Cullen Bunn will just be the first of several mini-series for The Damned.

The Damned #2: Cullen Bunn, script/story; Brian Hurtt, art/story

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

That feels better already

The Democrats have won control of the House of Representatives and are on the brink of taking control of the Senate. Even if they don't get the Senate, they'll be 50-50 with the Republicans and in a much better position than they have been for the last 12 years.

Please don't screw it up, guys. Please, please, please.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday: A well-oiled machine

When Ex Machina first came out a couple of years ago, I'd tell anyone who'd listen (and anyone I could pin to the ground and force to listen) that it was one of the best comics out there. I even said more than once that it was the best new comic of that year.

Two years later, and it's still pretty damn good.

Explaining Ex Machina is a little tricky, but basically it's this: In a world without superheroes, a civil engineer with socialist leanings gains the ability to communicate with machines after a mysterious device he's investigating blows up in his face. With the help of a couple of friends and some gadgets of his own invention, Mitchell Hundred becomes the Great Machine, a superhero who manages to keep the second tower of the World Trade Center from being hit on Sept. 11. Shortly after, Hundred goes public, gives up his role as the Great Machine and is elected mayor of New York City.

Whew! Believe it or not, that's just the back story. Ex Machina tells the story of Mayor Hundred, and while the story lines refer or are impacted by the Great Machine's past exploits, the series is as much a political drama as it is a heroic thriller, if not more. You'd think this would be dull as dirt, but often the ins and outs of the mayor's office is what keeps everything chugging along.

And poor Mitch - he's been through a lot, and it's starting to show. Brian K. Vaughn is everywhere, but this is his tightest work - if I had to guess, I'd say this title is his baby. And artist Tony Harris has thankfully been with it since the beginning, giving Ex Machina a distinct feel and a life of it's own. Sure, the people tend to look suspiciously alike sometimes (especially the women), but not to the point of the aggravating Dillon or Quitely. You can almost start to believe these people exist out there, tromping around New York and trying to get about the business of living their lives.

Who hasn't felt that weariness, the kind that makes you close your eyes and push your hair back, wishing for just a quiet second of peace? That single panel says a lot - about the character, about the situation and about the creators' understanding of their readers.

It may not be the best comic of the year, but it's still pretty damn good.

Ex Machina #24: Writer, Brian K. Vaughn; Artist, Tony Harris

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Welcome to the world, little Milo - Oct. 29, 2006, has officially become a day to be celebrated. As I told your mom and dad earlier, if they're half as good at being parents as they have been at being friends, you're going to be one hell of a kid.

Congratulations, Kyle and Christy - he's beautiful.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Jillian & Ian tie the knot, Austin-style

God almighty! Sometimes it seems like there's nothing to write about, everything's boring and it's a struggle to find anything to say. This isn't one of those times.

People are getting pregnant and having babies all over the place (Yay for Milo! Yay for Kyle and Christy! Happy birthday and congratulations! There's a full post coming soon - we love you guys!), Halloween just made an appearance and we went to a discordian/Halloween wedding. That we weren't technically invited to, but welcomed at anyway.

The fact that a wedding like this could even happen is why I love Austin. It took place at a locally owned coffee shop (an empty lot nearby, actually), people were encouraged to come in costume, part of the ceremony was a guy quoting Robert Anton Wilson (complete with somersault), and the vows pretty much consisted of, "Do you? And do you? Rock on, you're married!" That's almost a direct quote.

And the great thing is it felt as legitimate and familial as any other wedding I've ever attended. Plus, with a few exceptions, a lot more fun.

Our best to the happy couple; truly, we hope you both rock on!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Chicken fat

I have fond memories of the smell you get when you open a fresh bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, so I was a little concerned when I saw the Colonel's pride and joy was going to switch the oil they use to deep-fry their chicken. I still remember when they dropped cane sugar from the Coke recipe, and the trauma makes me twitchy.

But since we already banned KFC from the drive-through window of our lives for their lackadaisical attitude toward poultry abuse — c'mon, I know we have to kill our meat to eat it, but don't be a dick about it — this is the part of the AP story that grabbed me:

Artificial trans fat is so common that the average American eats 4.7 pounds of it a year, according to the Food and Drug Administration, yet so unhealthy, city health officials say it belongs in the same category as food spoiled by poor refrigeration or rodent droppings.

I'll never look at trans fats or rodent droppings in the same loving way again.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Favorite Panel Friday called on account of party! We'll post some pictures soon!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday was raised by an Admiral solid-state television

Some good stuff came out this week, and I know the latest issue of 52 is probably just some more of Keith Giffen trotting out his favorite whacked-out creations, but today's panel is all about two words: Ambush Bug.


52 #24: Writers, Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid; Artist, Phil Jimenez

Friday, October 13, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday drops anchor

As mentioned in a previous post, the panel picked for FPF isn't necessarily from my favorite comic of the week - which is the case with The Pirates of Coney Island #1. But it was a comic that sure stuck with me, rolling around in my head and poking me in the brain until I read it again.

A big part of that is the art. Strong, fluid, indie-style drawing just jumps off the page thanks to a thick inking job and a color pallette that's bold without being distracting. This is a book that actually seems to have honest-to-God art direction, and the almost garish coloring enhances the action and mood of any given panel.

There's a definite old-school vibe going on here; check out the classic dot-screen used for shading. Bits of the 70s, 80s and 90s are mish-mashed with a Britcomic aesthetic and a sprinkle of American thrift shop; weirdly, it works. The grittily intriguing story about gutter punks and brutal street gangs is solid, and meshes perfectly with the razor-dangerous art.

That's not to say it's all peachy. The Pirates of Coney Island is very hip ... and sometimes feels like it's trying just a little too hard. There's plenty of influence from "street" sources like graffiti and tattoo art, but hitting people over the head with it (especially in the notes from creators Rick Spears and Vasilis Lolos) is a little bit of overkill. You know how when people keep telling you how cool they are, the less you believe it? Sorta like that.

And while the art is great, faces tend to be hard to tell apart sometimes (particularly the women), and there's one character I didn't realize was supposed to be older than the teens until it was mentioned in the dialogue. The work is unique, but don't be surprised if you suddenly find yourself thinking of Tank Girl comics and Gorillaz cover art.

Still, it grabbed me, with a grip strong enough that I had to re-read it, and will probably re-read it again. Let's cross our fingers that this doesn't turn out to be just another book with great art wrapped around a story that goes from good to crappy halfway through (I'm looking at you, Supermarket).

The Pirates of Coney Island #1: Writer/Letterer, Rick Spears; Artist, Vasilis Lolos

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Movin' to the country

Those are the biggest damn peaches I EVER SAW!

(Seen at Austin's Historic Farmers' Market on Burnet)

Monday, October 09, 2006

It rhymes with "blanniversary"

Hey - guess what Saturday was? Let's just say me and Lopez! reached Spinal Tapian levels of matrimony.

I love you, bebé!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday says: Eat Me

OK, I have to admit it - I have a thing for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. I also have a bone-deep exhaustion for all the freakin' retellings of Lewis Carroll's stories and reimaginings of his iconic characters.

But I pretty much love Wonderland.

Taking place sometime after the now-notorious Alice has fled the scene, Wonderland picks up the thread with Mary Ann, the unseen girl the White Rabbit confused Alice for in Adventures. Compulsively committed to her housemaid duties, Mary Ann is only slightly less whacky than more familiar characters - like the Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat - also making an appearance.

At first, I was a little leery of the connection with Disney (the cover blurb says it's, "Inspired by Lewis Carroll's classic works and the Disney animated motion picture"), but the Mouse's influence seems to be mostly cosmetic. Thankfully, the story and dialogue have a healthy streak of Carroll in 'em, making it a fun read from writer Tommy Kovac.

And the art is great - what, are you kidding me? Look at that panel; see how the Cheshire Cat looks a little mottled? It's not sunlight, it's the BACKGROUND! Artist Sonny Liew has designed the Cat so he's always slightly transparent (and the creepy sucker never stops smiling, either). The art work could easily be taken from a children's book, but luckily this blend of classic illustration with a watercolor feel (and a pinch of manga expressionism) is coming out on a monthly basis.

This is a comic I don't think I'll be getting tired of anytime soon.

And the Jabberwocky is awesome.

Wonderland #2: Writer, Tommy Kovac; Artist, Sonny Liew

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Who's hungry?

I swear we didn't doctor this photo - but I think a certain sandwich shop has some explaining to do.

(Seen on Congress Avenue in Austin)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday is fashionably late

A super hero, some secret-agent talk and a SEVERED, FLAMING VAMPIRE HEAD!

That's a whole lot of comic goodness crammed into one panel, that's for sure. Union Jack #1 spins seamlessly out of the current Brubaker and Epting run on Captain America, seamlessly enough that I didn't realize it was a different creative team at first.

But that shouldn't take away from what writer Christios Gage and artist Mike Perkins are doing with this book. Union Jack nicely fits into the world being created over in Captain America, but expands on it and actually cements the concept of super-powered spy-guys. Political without being preachy, steadily built tension and rich, detailed artwork come together for a first issue that makes you eager for the second.

Union Jack #1: Writer, Christios Gage; Artist, Mike Perkins


For a "regular feature," the ol' FPF has been pretty irregular lately. Usually, if I'm falling behind in getting a panel up here I'll just shrug and pretend to be busy wrestling bears or writing peace treaties. This time, though, I didn't want to let last week's Wasteland #3 slip by without a mention.

Man, this comic keeps getting better with each issue. The story is a familiar post-apocalyptic-Thunderdome-Dune kind of thing, but it'd be a mistake to dismiss it as unoriginal. There is a definite sense of a larger story, and you can tell a deep history has already been thought out; nothing happens without reason. The art is simple but detailed, and almost stunning in some panels. Restrained use of Photoshop gives the whole thing a cinematic look that really works. Wasteland is an epic in the making.

Get on board with the first issue, free and online!

Wastland #3: Writer, Antony Johnston; Artist, Chris Mitten

Geek Check (pt.2)

Here's a handy way to remind yourself you're a geek: You open your desk drawer at work to get a Post-It, and have to move a set of gaming dice and HorrorClix stat cards out of the way first.

Yeah, I can't believe I'm not an executive either.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Red letter day

An undisclosed number of years ago, the person who would one day agree to hang out with me on a permanent basis was born. And, for a lot of people, things would never be the same.

It always seems unfair to me - if it's her birthday, why do I always feel as if I'm the one who's gotten the gift?

I love you, bebé - happy, happy birthday!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday has a plan

How can you resist a baboon in a Superman suit?!?

Lex Luthor might not be the most evil villain ever, but in All Star Superman #5 he's pretty freakin' villainous. Let's warm up the ol' Comico-Analytron and break it down, shall we?


In this panel, Lex has just finished escorting Clark Kent through a raging prison riot to what he assures him is the safety of his cell. Just as they're arriving, Lex makes a crack about how Clark will write something about walking through the cell door, where Lex then "shook hands with a baboon in a Superman suit ..."

Which is exactly what happens! And then he tells Clark how he dug an escape tunnel with a robot reciting Moby Dick. It's good to know Melville's good for something.


For all the damage Frank Miller has done to the still-stumbling toddler called the All Star line, Grant Morrison redeems it with his writing on All Star Superman. There was a lot of noise about the All Star imprint taking DC back to its Silver Age roots and "making comics fun again," and damn if Morrison doesn't do just that. That doesn't mean it's fluff - Luthor's currently making a pretty serious bid to kill the Man of Steel - but it does mean it's OK to be a little silly, to be a little weird and, yeah, to have some fun.

Morrison's Luthor is classic; arrogant, insane and smart as hell. As a matter of fact, it's the first time I can think of where it's implied that Lex is so smart he had to be crazy. Oh, and this particular issue also has the best explanation I've seen for why Lex hates Superman sooooo much.

One more thing to note is Frank Quitely's art. Now, I'm on the fence about Quitely. I was OK with him on Authority (even though everyone looked like they were on the catwalk), but hated his stuff on New X-Men. Loved We3, was annoyed by JLA: Earth 2. He bugs me for the same reason Steve Dillon bugs me - they draw the same face over and over and over and over. And over. The only difference is Quitely adds the extra bonus of making everyone pouty and lumpy (not a great combination).

But when he's on, he's great. And while that lumpiness creeps in now and then, faces are distinctive and expressive, and his backgrounds continue to kick ass in All-Star Superman.

By taking some cues from the Superman of the Silver Age, Morrison and Quitely are reinventing the Man of Steel for today. They're obviously having fun doing it, and that's making it fun to read.

So let's hear it for Leopold and crazy-ass Lex Luthor.

All Star Superman #5: Writer, Grant Morrison; Artist, Frank Quitely

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Dissent and disloyalty

Keith Olbermann is one of the talking heads I don't usually pay much attention to, so I'm glad the ever-vigilant Crooks & Liars is on top of things. Olbermann gave a fiery, Paine-like response to cheap and vicious comments Donald Rumsfeld made during a recent speech to a gathering of the American Legion.

In case you missed it, Rumsfeld compared critics of the Administration with Nazi appeasers and said the world faces "a new type of fascism." He also said dissenters suffer from "moral or intellectual confusion."

In other words, if you don't agree with Bush and his star chamber you're a fascist, immoral and stupid. This is what your government thinks of you if you think for yourself.

Think about this, too: Elections are coming up, and the Administration would like nothing better than to scare the hell out of everyone so they can talk tough and appear decisive right until November. Don't be scared. Don't be bullied. And don't be fooled when the new talking points start to stir up the ghosts of facism and the fight against the Third Reich.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I wish I had the words to express all the feelings that come with today, a year after Hurricane Katrina began tearing apart cities, towns and lives across the Gulf Coast. I feel angry at the continued failure of my government and the apathy of some of this country's citizens, frustration at my own powerlessness, sadness for the dead and living.

But I also feel hopeful and seeing pictures of people, particularly those in New Orleans, picking themselves up and somehow finding the strength to start over, to start from nothing, makes me feel like crying as much as the images of suffering did a year ago.

I'm also worried. With all the talk of recovery and grand plans for the future, it's far too easy to forget what happened, and how people are still trying to find solid footing. Race, class and social responsibility are issues conveniently being swept aside while people continue to live in FEMA trailers and pray that the first hurricane of the season will change paths somewhere in the Gulf.

In an e-mail earlier today I said the difference for those who lived through Hurricane Katrina and everyone else in the U.S. is like the difference between being hungry and starving – you can't equate one to the other. You can barely begin to understand how they even compare. I’ve been hungry but I've never been starving, and for that I feel fortunate. I’m hoping people will realize that if they’re lucky enough to be able to take care of themselves, maybe they can spare a little more effort for someone else.

Because sometimes words just feel empty.

In-depth coverage on Hurricane Katrina and it's continued impact can be found at Yahoo News (link in title), National Geographic, NOAA and various news outlets online. Take some time to check it out.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday goes through a phase

Sometimes it's hard to pick a favorite panel from the weekly stack of comics: This time, it was almost impossible to pick a favorite out of the single issue that is Astonishing X-Men #16.

When I was just a little pastelito, I was a hard-core X-Men fan. Then, like a lot of people, I grew up. The melodrama, the impossibly convoluted plots and the constant hammering of Claremontisms became too much until finally, with a "feh!", I stopped reading any title that started with "X."

For the most part, I've never regretted it. But when Joss Whedon started writing a new Astonishing, I was in. And month after month, along with the outstanding art of John Cassaday and the perfect coloring of Laura Martin, he reminds me of what I used to love about the X-Men. It's funny, it's heartfelt and it's action-packed. Whedon is a great writer with a talent for dialogue. Even better, he understands what makes these characters great, and you can tell he cares about them as much as we do. He's updated them without ruining them, making changes feel organic instead of like a gimmick.

And you can tell that Whedon - like the rest of us - always had a crush on Kitty.

Astonishing X-Men #16: Writer, Joss Whedon; Artist, John Cassaday; Colorist, Laura Martin

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Weird science

Normally, I'm right there with Science. We've been buds for a long time, and that gravity thing? Fantastic.

But saying Pluto isn't a planet? I don't care what you say, Science - Pluto will always be a planet in my mind. I know you've got some things to work out, and trying to get everyone to agree on what is and isn't a planet must be tough. But c'mon - this is Pluto we're talking about. He's been a planet since he was discovered in 1930, spinning along the outer reaches of our imaginations for as long as most people have been alive. Pluto is OUR planet (so to speak).

So it crosses orbits with Neptune; so what? What has Neptune done for us lately? At least Uranus gives us a cheap laugh.

So you tell Pluto, out there on his long, lonely circuit through space, looking back at us with puppy-dog eyes, you tell him he's not a planet anymore. Because I'm not gonna do it.

Back on the homefront, we've got bigger problems. Problems about the size of a VW bug.

Giant nests perplex experts

By Garry Mitchell
Press MOBILE -- To the bafflement of insect experts, gigantic yellow jacket nests have started turning up in old barns, unoccupied houses, cars and underground cavities across the southern two-thirds of Alabama. Specialists say it could be the result of a mild winter and drought conditions, or multiple queens forcing worker yellow jackets to enlarge their quarters so the queens will be in separate areas. But experts haven't determined exactly what's behind the surprisingly large nests.

I'll tell you what it is - Step 1. Step 2 involves work camps and humans building giant hives. You don't even want to know about Step 3.

Auburn University entomologists, who say they've never seen the nests so large, have been fielding calls about the huge nests from property owners from Dothan up to Sylacauga and over into west-central Alabama's Black Belt. At one site in Barbour County, the nest was as large as a Volkswagen Beetle, said Andy McLean, an Orkin pesticide service manager in Dothan who helped remove it from an abandoned barn about a month ago.

Entomologist Dr. Charles Ray at the Alabama Cooperative Extension System in Auburn said he's aware of about 16 of what he described as "super-sized" nests in south Alabama. Ray said he's seen 10 of them and cautioned people about going near them because of the yellow jacket's painful sting.

Ladies and gentlemen - your "no-shit" quote of the week.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Bride of Favorite Panel Friday

I love Fell. I love everything about it; it's consistently some of Warren Ellis' best writing, and Ben Templesmith has one of the most unique and distinctive illustrative styles in comics today. I like that every compact issue is a self-contained story, but is also another chapter in a vaguely creepy, overarching storyline.

Fell, will you marry me? You and Lopez! can work out the schedule.

OK, let's put this in perspective: Ellis has written some of my favorite books, like The Authority, Transmetropolitan and, most recently, Desolation Jones. He is, as the kids say, the shit (do the kids still say that?).

And Templesmith combines traditional drawing and painting styles with Adobe-fueled technology to create work that looks simplistic at first but drips depth and atmosphere. He practically reinvented vampires with 30 Days of Night, and his current Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse should already be on your pull list.

All this is a long-winded way of saying the panel from Fell #6 above is a nice example of snappy dialogue and moody scene-setting, a combination of casual patter and building tension in a book that manages to be crime-noir, horror and love-letter to the fictional Snowtown all at once. With this panel, you're rooting for Rich Fell, in every sense.

Special bonus! Hey, the first issue of Fell is available – for free, you deadbeats – online. Check it out, why don'cha?

And man, what's with that Nixon-nun?!?

Fell #6: Writer, Warren Ellis; Art, Ben Templesmith

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Con safo

Since I grew up and lived most of my adult life in El Paso, I like to consider myself an expert on graffiti. Gang tags, spray-paint murals and bathroom scrawls - I've seen it all. According to authorities, graffiti is on the rise in Austin, which is a shame and a blemish I hope we can get a handle on before it becomes something beyond control.

But, if you're going to do it, for Christ's sake do it right. When Lopez! and I went to dinner earlier today I made a side-trip to the bathroom, and as I washed my hands I noticed someone had written on the frame of the mirror:


And then they drew one, with flowing, flowery stems sprouting from the top.

That's just wrong.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday, the Destroyer

And THAT'S why, when Conan tells you he's joining your caravan, you don't try to shake him down for money.

Here's a handy rule-of-thumb to remember: Conan doesn't negotiate. He's Conan! He doesn't have time for your coy wordplay. He barely has time to kick your free-range melon out of the way.

Speaking of wordplay, I've been enjoying Joe R. Lansdale's scripting on Conan and the Songs of the Dead, a five-part mini-series which carries on the regular title's love of beheadings with this lopping from issue #2. I especially like the shot of humor he's given Conan (even if the dialogue sounds a little too much like something out of a Hap and Leonard scene sometimes), and it's always nice to see Lansdale's words coming out of art drawn by Timothy Truman. Remember how creepy their Jonah Hex stories were? Throw a battle ax and some people speaking "medieval" in there, and you've got an idea of what's going on in Songs of the Dead.

Oh, and don't forget - Conan was captain of the debate team for a reason.

Conan and the Songs of the Dead #2: Writer, Joe R. Lansdale; Art, Timothy Truman

Friday, August 04, 2006

Refried Beans

Aaaahh! That was a refreshing naparini! So, what time is it any … what?!? Damn you, snooze button! Damn you to heeeellllll!!!

Yeah, sorry about that. You know that feeling you have after you’ve taken a vacation, even a short one, where you kinda say to yourself, “Eh … I’ll get to it later.” Multiply that by a bajillion and that’s about where we’ve been.

We know you'd love for us to drop highly detailed stories about the trip on you, but I’m sure we’ll bring it up here and there so, to paraphrase Inigo Montoya, let me sum up.

In Germany, the people are friendly and helpful, and there’s a lot of beauty to enjoy in the countryside and in the cities. “Relaxing” wasn’t a word I would’ve associated with Germany, but it felt very comfortable there. We were in Frankfurt when Germany won its semifinal game, and we got to see the empty streets and squares (they were inside watching the match!) fill up with hundreds of people and honking cars.

Paris: Listen up, "people who hate Paris because it’s stinky and the people are rude" – sack up. Seriously, the people we ran into (and believe me, we asked people on the street for help on a regular basis) were unfailingly kind and generous with their time. I think people mistake a big-city attitude – meaning they’re busy people in a busy city and don’t have time to kiss your ass – for rudeness. Lopez! and I decided we could live here like happy little clamatos. We did all the touristy stuff, which was a lot of fun, and included the Eiffel Tower (amazing and impressive), the Mona Lisa (made Mom cry) and Notre Dame (magnificent). Oh, and almost everyone walks around eating baguettes.

Brussels: OK, you know all those things they say about Parisians? Well, they’re wrong – it’s the fucking Belgians. Hands-down the rudest people we ran into, the worst of whom was a man who totally blew off Lopez! when she tried to ask him a question. He wouldn’t even make eye contact, and just sort of shook his head and kept walking. Prick! I thought Lopez! was going to crawl up his ass and keep going ‘til she came out his mouth. Oh, and there was one waiter who refused to serve Lopez! soup. If you know Lopez!, you know this is a bad idea. If you ask her about it she’ll still go off on the guy (we’ll tell the whole story in another post). We did see the EU headquarters and the Manneken Pis, and the Atomium kicks ass.

Amsterdam: Everything you’ve heard about it is true. It’s beautiful, it’s very “international” and generally relaxed and groovy. We went to the Rembrandt and the Van Gogh museums, and you can see why these guys are giants. Also, it made "De Nachtwacht" my favorite painting because you ain't seen a painting until someone turns it into a multimedia extravaganza. Amsterdam was another place where we could see ourselves living. They even have outdoor, public urinals, which is so weird it’s awesome. I mean, OUT. SIDE. You could see guys taking a whiz. Craziness! We didn’t get to see the Red Light District (stop groaning), but we did have the best barbecue I’ve ever tasted. Bar none. Even better than anything I’ve had here in Texas. Even crazier craziness!

Berlin: It’s interesting how a city with so much history could be missing so much of that history. Since most of Berlin was destroyed in World War II you see a lot of buildings that were erected between the 50s and 70s, and it shows. It feels a lot more like the Cold War Berlin of your mind than the Nazi Germany Berlin that you might automatically imagine. We saw what was left of the Wall, and our tour guide (a real person) would point out things like the square where the Nazis had their book burnings and lamp posts that were from the Reich era. Sad and a little chilling. But lucky for us, we had the World Cup to help us shake it off. We didn’t have tickets to an actual game, but we went to the “Fan Zone” that had been set up and stood outside for hours watching crappy pre-game bands and jostling with other soccer fans. President Clinton showed up to tell us it sucked that we didn’t have tickets, but that he hoped we enjoyed the game anyway. People went nuts – you would’ve thought he was a rock star. And in a way, he is … sniff. Oh, and the apartment we rented was great, so yay again for Melanie!

Throw in a lot of running around on train platforms and wrestling matches with airline counter people and that’s our trip in a nutshell.

Alright, time for a nap.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

And now, a brief intermission

For the next couple of weeks Lopez! and I will be on vacation, so the blog will most likely be pretty static for the duration. We will be checking e-mail when we can, and maybe there'll be an incoherent post if we find ourselves in a bubble of down-time. But yeah, probably not.

In the meantime, hold down the fort, keep up the good work, and we'll be back with a plethora of pictures and anecdotes for you in a couple of weeks.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday is now in session

You may have noticed (or not) that there isn't a panel from any of this week's comics. It wasn't for a lack of good stuff, because there was a bunch. Oh, no, this week's Favorite Panel was called on account ... OF JUSTICE!!

I had a good run, but finally got caught and ended up serving on a jury of my peers. It was pretty quick and everything was finished within the day, but it meant no access to a scanner. No scanner equals no panel. Today, we're only uploading THE LAW!

Here it is in a nutshell: She was speeding. It was pretty obvious she didn't have a case (soooo busted). Guilties all around, maximum fine, and no plumbers had to go to jail. If it had been up to us on the jury, the sentence would have been even tougher.

Oh, and on the way home I saw a couple of grackles mating on the lawn of an office building on Sixth Street. Dirty birdies. I told Lopez! it was like watching 9 1/2 Weeks and From Here to Eternity, but with feathers.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

No joy in Mudville

Ghana 2:1 U.S.A.

And the U.S. is out of the World Cup. Sigh.

Ah, well.

Me-xi-co! Me-xi-co!!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

More to love

If this is the case, I must be one sexy mofo.

Man Flab, It’s Fab

It’s Tubby Time! Vince Vaughn, Jack Black, Leave Buff Bodies to Neutered Narcissists: Mattress-Top Torsos Hot on Beach This Summer

By Sara Vilkomerson

One by one, from Hollywood to the Hamptons, men have liberated themselves from the flat-stomached emo-boy reign of terror. Over the weekend in Westchester, U.S. Open enthusiasts cheered for Phil Mickelson, the golf crowd’s non–Tiger Woods favorite, whose previous winning record coincided with a softly expanding waist line and what one observer near the 18th hole described as “a sweet pair of man boobs.”

By the way, this is the kind of led feature writers live for.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday: The Heretic

Whew! Just made it!

I know a lot of the talk this week has been about a certain unveiling on the Marvel side of the street, but for me it was mostly kind of ... eh. Seriously, half his enemies already knew his identity.

This panel from Green Lantern Corps #1 was the one that grabbed me. It's a classic superhero scene, and the Green Lanterns have always been a favorite of mine. Top it off with the fact that I'm really developing a soft spot for Soranik on the left there (sorry, Hawkgirl, but I hate what Howard Chaykin's doing to you) and this one's a winner. Bonus: The guy on the right is like a GL from Planet of the Apes! If you're going to read a superhero comic, THIS is what it should look like when you open it up.

Sorry, Spidey.

Green Lantern Corps #1: Writer, Dave Gibbons; Art, Patrick Gleason and Prentis Rollins

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Have you ever just been overwhelmed? Have you ever felt as if you're being hit with wave after wave, to the point you're not sure if you're still treading water or starting to slip under? To make it worse, you don’t know if it matters, even to you.

It's certainly the way I've been feeling the past few weeks. Not in terms of my personal life or my professional life, but in terms of anger. Righteous indignation. Sheer frustration. These are things that are usually in easy reach, ready to lash out like a temper tantrum-throwing three-year-old.

But not lately. And it isn’t a matter of not caring about the world out there. Things are bad and seem to be getting worse lately, so it’s not as if there isn't plenty to be angry about - which might be the problem. There might be too much. Is this what all the talking-heads are yammering about when they start saying "burn-out?"

The concept has always been bothersome, because it implies that the average American citizen is too tired, too complacent or too ignorant to care. Adding insult to injury, the usually right-wing pundits start squealing and yelping, acting as if it would be a disservice for the media to inform the public, to actually do their job. The media's job isn't to tell the public what it wants to know, it's job is to tell the public what it needs to know.

And the outlets are there. If someone's favorite news source isn't telling them the whole story, it's that person's responsibility to look somewhere else. Nobody said doing something worthwhile, even if it's just keeping yourself from being an ignorant hillbilly with a cell phone, was easy.

A sampling of recent headlines that induced head-shaking:

Troops reducing illegal border crossings

By Olga R. Rodriguez, Associated Press Writer

SAN LUIS RIO COLORADO, Mexico - The arrival of U.S. National Guard troops in Arizona has scared off illegal Mexican migrants along the border, significantly reducing crossings, according to U.S. and Mexican officials.

(Psst! Our primos are just going to cross somewhere else ... and it's hot during the summer)

Study: Polar bears may turn to cannibalism

By Dan Joling, Associated Press Writer

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea may be turning to cannibalism because longer seasons without ice keep them from getting to their natural food, a new study by American and Canadian scientists has found.

(Hmm ... now there's an inconvenient truth)

Labs compete to make new nuclear bomb

LOS ANGELES - The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the San Francisco Bay area and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico are competing to design the nation's first new nuclear bomb in two decades.

Scientists at both facilities are working around the clock on plans that will be presented to the Nuclear Weapons Council, a federal panel that oversees the nation's nuclear weapons. The council will choose a winner later this year.

(Why don't they turn it into a reality show? That way they can torture us before they kill us - they've already got the practice)

Rove won't be charged in CIA leak case

By John Solomon, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Top White House aide Karl Rove has been told by prosecutors he won't be charged with any crimes in the investigation into the leak of a CIA officer's identity, his lawyer said Tuesday, lifting a heavy burden from one of President Bush's most trusted advisers.

(But he ... they can't ... no ... words ...)

In a bold move, Bush drops in on Iraq PM

By Terence Hunt, AP White House Correspondent

BAGHDAD, Iraq - President Bush reviewed next steps in the troubled three-year old Iraq war on Tuesday in a surprise visit to Baghdad and a meeting with newly named Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The dramatic move came as Bush sought to bolster support for Iraq's fledgling government and U.S. war policy at home.

(The dogs and ponies had to stay on the plane)

Hey, what d'ya know - there's my favorite three-year-old.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Making it look easy

I meant to post about this last week, but it's still a question worth asking:

How much does Melanie rock? This much!

Thanks to her help, we were able to book a room in Berlin's city center during the World Cup finals. Just thinking about it makes me loopy.

Can we get an "OH YEAH!" for Melanie?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Son of Favorite Panel Friday

And this is only one panel out of a whole issue filled with weirdness.

This little nugget of joy from The Exterminators #6 is a pretty good example of why the title has become one of my favorites. It's a comic that seems to get more comfortable with itself every month, and I like that it self-assuredly takes its time spinning out a whacky storyline while dropping itchy little clues in the middle of what has been, from start to finish, one over-the-top scene after another. It's pure sci-fi/horror fun with a sense of humor.

Oh, and ruthless corporate lesbians.

The Exterminators #6: Writer, Simon Oliver; Penciller, Tony Moore

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Run to the hills

Since today is Satan's birthday, I thought I'd share a little story about how I came to love heavy metal.

When I was in seventh grade I moved to a new school, which I hated with all the ferocity I could squeeze out of my cherubic body. Hate, hate, hate! I think about it now and I still hate that school. Damn you, Mustangs! Damn you to hell!!

Surprisingly, I didn't have any friends. What's worse, there were even a couple of jerk-offs who decided I'd be fun to play Spanish Inquisition with. Imagine an oversized pair of glasses and an ever-present green windbreaker, and you can almost see why. Then a weirdo named Junior finally took pity on me.

Junior was a grade ahead of me, and was the first freak I ever met. Sort of a cross between a New Waver and a punk, he was as much an outcast as I was, only by choice. The concept alone was a revelation. So, after letting me hang out with him and his gang of misfits for the next couple of days I ended up going to his house after school for the first time.

The house was only about five blocks from mine, but was practically in a different neighborhood. In El Paso it's easy to see the evidence of past waves of development, and my house was across the boundary line between old and new neighborhoods. Junior's house had a big, overgrown yard, trees that hung over the roof, and smaller rooms connected by crooked hallways. In my memory, it was always dusk in that house.

Once we got there, the first thing Junior tells me is his brother has this record that I've got to hear - backwards. He's going on about Satanic messages and backward masking and bam! he shoves the cover of Iron Maiden's Number of the Beast in my face.

I'd never seen a cover like that in my life. My dad was an old-school rock guy for the most part, all 60s and 70s, and my mom had most recently been deep into John Denver and Olivia Newton-John. The most shocking thing I'd seen up to then was a Jethro Tull cover I pulled from Dad's collection (we won't get into the Herb Alpert cover). Jesus, was that the devil? And what the hell is that thing standing over him? I was already getting nervous.

We tried playing the record backward, and didn't hear shit. We tried it a few more times to make sure, and then one of us remembered that this was supposed to be bad for the needle. Just to make sure it was alright, Junior said, we'd play a song off the record.

Junior twisted the knob and a voice starts saying something about woe and then "Number of the Beast" came buzz-sawing out of the speakers. Junior, who was standing in the corner with the stereo, starts lip-synching to the song, acting it out and getting crazy-eyed.

I laughed it off, but he didn't stop. And he kept getting closer. And crazier. And then he's standing on the couch I'm sitting on, hunched over me with his face inches from mine, mouthing, "Six! Six-six! The number of the beast!" And I've only known this guy for a few days, and there isn't anyone else in the house, and ...

I don't remember what I said, but I do remember jumping the hell off that couch so fast that Junior couldn't keep it up anymore, collapsing back onto the couch and laughing his ass off.

Then we listened to the whole album, and for the next few years the only decoration in my bedroom was posters of Eddie. I stopped cutting my hair, dedicated myself to being an outsider and for all intents and purposes was a normal teen-age kid.

Thanks, Satan!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday: The Quickening

Something occured to me the other day: Anybody reading this might think that since this regular feature highlights my favorite panel of the week, it must come from my favorite book of the week.

Er ... not necessarily.

Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. If you go by past entries, I can see how someone would figure me for a spandex-fan. And I am. But I read a lot of indie and small press stuff, too. The problem is that, for the most part, those types of comics don't really have the panels that give you geekbumps. I've read some comics recently that were great from start to finish, things that are way up on my "gotta read this" list, but while they're solid on all levels, that doesn't mean they have any one panel that jumps out at you. That's just the nature of most "indies."

And now I'm going to totally contradict everything I just said.

Local # 5 is the latest issue in a series that gets better and better with each go 'round. Part day-in-the-life, part travelogue, the slow-motion storytelling of Local is heartbreaking and hopeful, broken and powerful, often all at the same time. If you haven't been reading it, go out and get the back issues while you still can.

In this panel, Megan is being confronted by a woman whose young son was hit on by Beth, an employee at the local movie theater. The mother doesn't know it, but Megan is Beth. And at the moment, she's calling herself Alex. Throughout the story, she'll use a handful of different names, without any explanation or obvious reason.

Things have happened to Megan, and it's had an effect on her.

And I love that you can see it all right there on her face.

Local #5: Writer, Brian Wood; Artist, Ryan Kelly

Thursday, June 01, 2006

T-minus seven days …

Or is it eight days? Does today count? Whatever – the World Cup starts June 9!

Blah, blah, I know you don’t care about soccer. But you need to shut your facehole and give it a chance. I make fun of it to, y’know. 2-0 means it was a high-scoring game. Half the players have Fabio-hair. I know all this.

It’s still a lot of fun, though. Have you ever watched a soccer game with other soccer fans? You’d think Pele was serving the nachos.

And it’s got to be better than what we Americans get worked up over. Football? A bunch of heavily padded dudes stand in a line, then run into each other while someone throws a ball. This takes about three seconds, then the players stand around for a half-hour patting each on the butt.

You want to throw baseball at me? Fine. I know it’s “America’s pastime,” and I’m up for a game if it’s 10-cent hotdog night and the Famous Chicken is there. Other than that … booooring!

Whoa – sorry to get all 12-year-old on you there. It’s just that baseball is really, really dull. It’s what golf would be if there was someone out on the green with a catchers’ mitt and an itchy crotch. There’s no drama. Have you ever noticed how relaxed baseball fans look out in the stands? It’s because they know. They know that this, this right here, is as intense as it’s going to get. They’re just hoping a foul ball knocks someone out in the stands. It’s the perfect sport for heart patients. Or insomniacs.

Basketball is equally boring, but for different reasons. Imagine a group of kids with two trash cans, and they’ve put one trash can at either end of the driveway. Now imagine they’re running back and forth with a tennis ball, and they’re putting the ball in the trash cans over and over and over. Sometimes they throw it, just to make it interesting, but mostly they get right up to it and slam the ball in, all dramatic-like. They do this until the score is 352-354. Oh, and their shoes squeak.

This is basketball.

Soccer – non-stop action. There aren’t any time-outs. If a player is thrown out of the game, well, tough shit ‘cause you don’t get to replace him. And it doesn’t take 3 hours to finish a game. Start to finish, you’re done in 90 minutes. Even if there is an overtime, it’s relatively brief. And after that it goes to a shootout! And if for some reason there still isn’t a winner, SUDDEN DEATH!

Lopez! and I were dragging ourselves to a local Irish pub at five in the morning to watch games during the last World Cup, and we even got to see the US-Mexico game (we’d been wondering where all the Mexicans in Austin had been hiding). And this year we’ve got a chance to see a World Cup game in person, so we’re even more excited than usual.

I know it’s not just us. Every Tuesday night, I drive home and see a group of guys playing soccer in the parking lot of a nearby restaurant. I think they’re restaurant employees blowing off steam after closing time, but even after working a shift they play fast-paced and aggressively. There they are, 11 o’clock at night, playing soccer in a parking lot and using their car’s headlamps for lighting. Sometimes they play in the dark.

And that is the spirit of soccer.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday Strikes Back

So true, so true ...

Everyone knows Dr. Strange is a master of the mystic arts, but did you know he's also a master of the mackin' arts? Aaah, yeeeeaaah! In this panel from X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl #5, the final issue in the limited series, ol' Stevie lays it on for Dead Girl in what ended up being a truly enjoyable little series. I'd even say this has been my favorite version of Dr. Strange.

And really, why wouldn't it be?

Dead Girl #5: Writer, Peter Milligan; Artists, Nick Dragotta and Mike Allred; Colors, Laura Allred

The lowdown ...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

And stay off my lawn!

While me and Lopez! were being rung up at the barbecue place where we had dinner last night, I noticed the total was $19.87. Being a master of observation I said, "I was a junior in high school in 1987."

Lopez! thought about it and said, "I was 16."

And then the girl behind the counter said, "I was one year old!"

Argh! And then she followed up with this: "But you guys don't look that old."

Damn kids.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday - The Return

That's right! Because you're not supposed to know unless Batman wants you to know.

And he doesn't.

Let's get a little background (slightly spoilery):

In Batman: Year 100 #4 (Paul Pope, writer/artist; Jose Villarrubia, colorist), Batman has just pounded the crap out of a bad guy/government agent who, in an earlier issue, tried using his telepathy to get Bats to 'fess up with the secret identity. I mean, he made Batman's nose bleed and everything. Now, beaten and passing out from knock-out gas, the agent manages to ask one last time, "Wh--Who are ... you ...?"

The panel is Batman's answer. And it's perfect.

"Goddamn Batman" my ass.

"Favorite Pan ... what ?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Friendship State

Seriously, we've got to move out of this state. I think the only thing keeping us here is the fact we live on a progressive little island surrounded by a sea of people who apparently can't agree that lynchings might deserve an apology.

WACO, Texas - A resolution denouncing lynchings in the 1800s and early 1900s was rejected Tuesday by county commissioners, while the City Council agreed to try to draft a document both bodies can accept.

McLennan County commissioners decided against adopting a community group's measure apologizing for the lynchings by a 4-to-1 vote, but then said they would work on a resolution all could accept.

In a separate meeting Tuesday, the Waco City Council agreed to meet in June to draft its own resolution. Members said they hoped to work with county commissioners to draft an acceptable document.

Both bodies had been urged by the Community Race Relations Coalition to apologize for the "failure of past leadership to uphold and defend lynching victims' most basic rights to life, liberty, and due process." Of the more than 4,700 lynchings nationwide during the 1800s and early 1900s, about 500 were in Texas.

What, exactly, is objectionable about that? The story keeps referencing how the county commissioners and city council are hoping to develop an "acceptable document," but I, for one, would like to know what's unacceptable about the resolution. How hard is it to say, "Lynchings are wrong. We're sorry anyone had to suffer that kind of treatment, and we're sorry anyone had to deal with the lingering pain a crime like this leaves on the survivors. Together, we can move forward."

I don't think anyone is shouting from the gallery, "You! You commissioners and council members, admit to your sins, you bastards!" And I don't think every past misdeed should necessarily get an official apology (though I do think they foster goodwill and serve to acknowledge histories people are usually too willing to sweep aside). But these lynchings aren't ancient history. They're barely not-so-ancient history.

There are people alive today who remember lynchings very well - they didn't end in the early 1900s. There are still people who can tell you what it was to live in fear for their lives, and people who can tell you how they knotted the ropes themselves. And, maybe more importantly, the children and grandchildren of those people are still around, each with their own personal family histories. What stories do they remember? What have they learned?

If they live in Waco, they've learned that nothing much has changed.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday

Here's a new feature that hopefully won't fall by the wayside (Shut up. I might still pick up that other one. Maybe).

Every Friday I'll pick the one panel - out of the stack of new comics I read every week - that for one reason or another gave me the most fanboy joy.

This week was a close call: It was almost a panel from the outstanding Cthulhu Tales, but Fantastic Four: First Family #3 pulled it out with this classic depiction of Mr. Fantastic doing what he does best - going "boing." And look at that Mole Monster! That, my friends, is some understated hilarity in an already chock-fulla-fun panel.

By the way, this panel was slightly modified to minimize the panel originally jutting into it. Seriously, it was distracting as a mutha. Oh, and the art is by Chris Weston, with inks by Gary Erskine, in a comic written by Joe Casey.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Normally, I don't like to just link to someone else's post, but I CAN'T STOP LAUGHING!

OK, some background: I've never heard of Helena Keeffe, but according to her Web site she "creates art projects that serve as catalysts for social engagement." In this case it means she held a little contest asking people to go to Imagination Island and pretend President Bush has had a change of heart. A HUGE change of heart, basically realizing things aren't going so great for a lot of people, and he knows some of that is his fault so he's going to do something about it.

What would that speech sound like?

Some elementary school students had some ideas, and they are by turns bittersweet, peeved and downright hi-larious. Keeffe got a Bush impersonator to read the speeches, and it's a little scary how easy it is to see these words coming from the president.

My personal favorite is the one by Zoe Baker - surreal and pissy in one short clip, you can imagine Bush having a breakdown right at the podium. I've already listened to it five times.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Future shock

During a completely uninteresting conversation with someone, I realized it's 2006, FIVE YEARS after 2001.

Wait, you don't get it - five years after "2001."

Where's my monolith? Where's my automated tooth-brusher? Where the hell's my flying car?!?

At least give me a murderous computer - I mean, C'MON!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Geek check

How geeky can one guy get? How's this grab ya?

That's right - this is a handmade d20 necklace. I picked the die and a friend of mine (who works at the comic shop I used to work at) made it for me. I'm pretty sure that makes her geekier than me, but it might be a toss-up.

And, God help me, I plan to wear the hell out of that thing.

Lisa's also making neato, non-nerdy earrings and who-knows-what-else, so if you're in the market for this kind of stuff, pay her a visit.

I'd sell you my shame, but apparently I don't have any left.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Pack your bags, Part II

I said Mexico won't be safe unless Lopez Obrador wins the presidency in the July elections. Otherwise you'll have a bunch of yes-men agreeing to everything Bush decides, including WWIII.

At this point I'm thinking Argentina.

P.S. For more on Mr. Hersh, check out this link.