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.