Thursday, January 27, 2005

Something that got eaten along with the rest of Tuesday's post was that I had a job interview. Well, I got the job! I start on February 7th, working for a company that handles US & Canadian distribution of about 50 foreign presses (English language titles only). The company is in the same industrial park where Academic used to be, and there were times when I was at Academic when I called them for information about upcoming books.

To celebrate, I'm going to order a couple things from Amazon, so I'm putting in links so I'll get back some of the money I'll be spending.

Ultimate Spider-Man, vol. 4
Queen & Country, vol. 3: Operation Crystal Ball

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Shit. I just spent a couple hours updating this (well, I was distracted by The Usual Suspects and Kingdom of Loathing) and when I went to post the entry, I got an error page. Well, I'm not typing all that out again today.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Well so much for updating more frequently in the new year. (But I did decide to change the template.)

  1. Krazy & Ignatz 1933-1934: Necromancy by the Blue Bean Bush by George Herriman. This is the final collection of black & white Krazy Kat Sunday strips. The next volume in the series will be in color. Strange, wonderful comics.
  2. John Constantine, Hellblazer: Rare Cuts by various. DC/Vertigo is capitalizing on the upcoming release of the Constantine movie by re-releasing several collections of the comic. This one is new in that the issues have not been previously collected. However, I don't think it's a very good introduction to the character, and so wouldn't be a good choice for somebody who has seen the movie & wants to know more about Constantine.
  3. DC: The New Frontier, vol. 1 by Darwyn Cooke. Beautiful, stylized art used to reinvision DC's Silver Age heroes. My only complaint is that up until the end of this volume, it's more a series of vignettes than a story. I can't wait for volume 2.
  4. Queen & Country, vol. 1: Operation Broken Ground by Greg Rucka & Steve Rolston. The story of Tara Chase, a British spy. But this story is realistic, not like James Bond at all. Good stuff. (Not that James Bond doesn't have his place.)
  5. Queen & Country, vol. 2: Operation Morningstar by Greg Rucka & Brian Hurtt. This book deals with the consequences of the actions in the previous volume.
  6. Ultimate Spider-Man Collection by Brian Michael Bendis & Mark Bagley. This book is exclusive to Barnes & Noble & is a collection of the first three Ultimate Spider-Man hardback collections and is priced cheaper than buying two of them individually. Bendis has a wonderful ear for dialogue. Great stuff.
  7. Elektra Lives Again by Frank Miller. After seeing all the commercials for the Elektra movie, I reread this to see if it was a good book with which to introduce somebody to the comic book Elektra. It isn't.
  8. Five Hundred Years After by Steven Brust. Another Musketeer pastiche from Brust. Lots of fun. (Borrowed from Teena.)
  9. Star Wars Clone Wars, vol. 4: Light & Dark by John Ostrander & Jan Duursema. Ostrander is one of my favorite comic writers, and I wish he were getting more work. Fortunately, my favorite series written by him (GrimJack) is being resurrected soon. I just wish the publisher were a little less concerned about getting all the Clone Wars stories in correct chronological order. Volume one of this series consisted of several stories, most of which were written by Ostrander, so I bought it. Volumes two and three contain stories by Ostrander, but most of them were written by somebody else. So I didn't buy them.
  10. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Demon House by Max Allan Collins, Gabriel Rodriguez, & Ashley Wood. I don't watch this show, but I like Collins' writing. (Checked out of the library.)
  11. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ring of Fire by Doug Petrie & Ryan Sook. Petrie was one of the writers for the Buffy tv show, and it shows with the handling of the characters. The art is good, but it doesn't quite capture the looks of the actors. (Library.)
  12. Hulk Visionaries: Peter David, vol. 1 by Peter David, Todd McFarlane, & John Ridgway. Finally! Marvel has started publishing collections of David's run on The Incredible Hulk. This isn't David's best writing, but it was pretty early in his career. I hope this sells well enough for Marvel to put out future volumes, because this series gets a whole lot better later on. (Part of my antipathy probably stems from the artwork. I don't hold McFarlane in much esteem, but I have to say that he has improved over his early work.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

I'm going to try to post more often this year (which means shorter entries).

  1. Thieves & Kings, vol. 5: The Winter Book by Mark Oakley. This is a marvelous fantasy series that I just don't know how to describe. The art is manga-influenced, but it's more than simply an aping of Japanese style. I think part of the reason I can't simply sum up the comic is because it has a complex story & comes out quarterly (at best). I should reread the earlier volumes to remind myself just where this all started. I really enjoy this comic a lot and wish it was published more frequently.
  2. The Phoenix Guards by Steven Brust. This story is set in the same world as Brust's Taltos novels but from about 1000 years before those books. The prose takes some getting used to, as Brust is writing in homage to and in the style of Dumas & Sabatini (from what I've read; I haven't actually read The Three Musketeers or Scaramouche). But once you become accustomed to the style, this is a lot of fun. The term "rollicking adventure" comes to mind. (Borrowed from Teena.)
  3. Noble Causes, vol. 2: Family Secrets by Jay Faerber & Ian Richardson. Superhero soap opera. (Checked out of the library.)
  4. Hulk/Wolverine: Six Hours by Bruce Jones & Scott Kolins. (Library.)
  5. Salmon Doubts by Adam Sacks. (Library.)
  6. Knights of the Zodiac, vol. 1 by Masami Kurumada. (Library.)

  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Monster A Go-Go. (Teena.)
  • Fear & Trembling. This movie is about a Belgian woman who was born & lived her first 5 years in Japan who returns after college & works for a Japanese company for a year.


When I was at Teena's this weekend, I played a little Katamari Damacy but mostly I spent time on Myst IV: Revelation. These games are always beautiful and have amazing puzzles. Teena is very far ahead of me in this game & helps me out with hints now & then. I'm glad she has played it so much more than I have. I gave her the previous game in the series (Uru) but ended up completing the game before she did. I feel guilty about that. At home I've been playing a lot of Pikmin lately. It's a fun little strategy game that I think may have a fair amount of replay value.

Friday, January 07, 2005


Well we're a week into the new year, past time I listed the books I've finished since 2004 ended.
  1. Bleach, vol. 1: Strawberry & the Soul Reapers by Tite Kubo. Manga. (Checked out of the library.)
  2. Ultimate X-Men, vol. 8: New Mutants by Brian Michael Bendis & David Finch. Man, the way that Amazon lists graphic novels is annoying. I have all the pertinent information about this book except the ISBN, but I can't find it there. (Library.)
  3. Ultimate X-Men, vol. 9: The Tempest by Brian K. Vaughan & Brandon Peterson. I found this one at Amazon, no problem. (Library.)
  4. Strip Search by various. (Library.)
  5. Orbiter by Warren Ellis & Colleen Doran. This book makes me feel like I did when I was certain we would colonize space; it captures the excitement the space program can bring. Unfortunately, I suspect we'd need an event like the one depicted in this book to make space a real priority. (Gift from Teena.)
  6. Slowpoke: Cafe Pompous by Jen Sorensen. (Library.)
  7. Electric Girl, vol. 2 by Michael Brennan. Again, Amazon's graphic novel listings fail. They've got volume one, and even a listing for the as yet unreleased volume three, but not volume two. (Library.)
  8. Mutts 9: Dog-Eared by Patrick McDonnell. This used to be one of my favorite comic strips, but this collection doesn't quite work for me. I'm not sure why, it still has the lyrical quality that at times reminds me of Krazy Kat, but it just doesn't quite work for me anymore. Maybe it was just the mood I was in when I read it. (Library.)
  9. When We Were Very Maakies by Tony Millionaire. (Library.)
  10. Things Are Meaning Less by Al Burian. (Library.)
  11. Catwoman: Relentless by Ed Brubaker, Cameron Stewart, & Javier Pulido. The latest collection of the Catwoman comic, this book continues the noirish stories. Also, very stylish art.
  12. Sin City by Frank Miller. I finally saw the trailer for the upcoming movie (and was blown away at how much it looks like the comic), so I decided to reread this. It had been quite a while since I'd read it, but it's just as brutal & visceral as I remember. Extremely hard-boiled.
  13. Daredevil, vol. 3 by Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev, et al. I really like Bendis's writing (as you could probably tell from the number of books by him I read). But anyway, this seems like as good a time as any to talk about Marvel's hardcover books. For certain titles, Marvel releases a hardcover edition. These usually collect at least a years worth of a title; they are printed slightly larger than the original comics so you can see the art better; and they often have extras such as samples of the script or pages from the artist's sketchbook. Marvel also publishes paperbacks reprinting the same issues, but because the hardbacks cover the material that ends up in two or three paperbacks, the hardbacks usually end up being a better bargain. However, it is sometimes hard to tell what comics will receive the hardcover treatment, and the paperbacks come out before the hardbacks. So if you don't know the hardcover is coming out (or if you're just impatient for the collection), you end up buying the worse deal. All in all, Marvel's hardbacks are great but frustrating. (Purchased using a gift card I got from Teena's parents.)
  14. H-E-R-O: Powers & Abilities by Will Pfeifer & Kano. (Library.)

Movies & DVDs
  • Greg the Bunny. This is one of many series that Fox has cancelled too soon. Funny stuff, especially the short from IFC in which Greg ponders the nature of art & reality. It's unnerving to watch a puppet go through an existential crisis. (Gift from Teena.)
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Hercules & the Captive Women. Borrowed from Teena.)


Played Transhuman Space on Wednesday. In this game, we are playing members of a Singapore triad, and we are bad, bad people. However, we're not as bad as the guy who is threatening to use nanotech to turn Singapore into a puddle of grey goo. I didn't do much of anything this time around, but that's because I was in hiding from the bad(der) guy who wants to turn me over to the Martian triads. I (Philip, that is, not my character) spent the downtime creating a character for the upcoming World's Largest Dungeon game.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

I've decided to talk a bit more about role-playing here on my weblog.

Last night we finished up the first adventure in Michael's "Infinite Worlds" campaign. I'm wondering if I made the right choices in picking a character with physical (but not combat) skills. It seems anything I can do can be handled better by Jim's character's ability to walk through walls and Bryan's character's telekinesis. What's the point in being good at climbing if we've got somebody who can fly and somebody else who can simply walk on air?

In other news, I've found a site that will tell you what your alignment is (in D&D terms). I came out as neutral good, but it was a toss-up between that & lawful good. The tie-breaking question asked which I thought was a more important principle: that people should help others or that stealing is wrong.

Monday, January 03, 2005

And let's see if I can also finish of the movies I saw last year.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Village of the Giants. (Borrowed from Teena.)
  • Return of the Living Dead.
  • The Osbournes, The 2nd Season. I think this idea had enough steam for one season.
  • The Big Lebowski. A noir story with a very un-noirish lead.
  • Futurama, vol. 4. This set was a birthday gift from Teena. I loved this series. Damn Fox anyway for treating it like crap. The Simpsons hasn't been worth watching for years, but it's still around. Futurama was as good as The Simpsons at its best, but it's gone.
  • Pirates of the Carribean interactive. Teena & I saw this at the Hollywood Theatre. It's an attempt to manufacture a Rocky Horror-like following for Pirates and felt a little artificial, but it was still a lot of fun. Swashbuckling goodness. And how can you go wrong with Johnny Depp?
  • MST3K: Tormented. (Teena.)
  • The West Wing, The Complete Second Season. I watched this at the beginning of November, and it helped me cope with the results of the election. (Library.)
  • MST3K: It Conquered the World. (Teena.)
  • MST3K: Gamera vs. Guiron. I find I really enjoy when MST3K did Japanese movies. They'e just so strange that making fun of them works all the more. This may have been the very first MST3K episode I ever saw (at Gemma & Dee's place in Pullman, WA one Thanksgiving years ago).
  • The Grudge. As I mentioned before, I enjoyed the Japanese version of this more than this one. Which is the opposite of how I felt about The Ring and the Japanese original. Maybe it just depends on which version I see first.
  • The Incredibles. Teena & I went to see this together. An amazing movie. Pixar just seems to get better & better (although I have to say that the short that preceeded the move did nothing for me). Great writing (as usual), wonderful casting (again as usual), and it just looks beautiful (yet again, as usual). Once Pixar's arrangement with Disney finishes up, I don't know that I'll have any reason to see any more new Disney movies.
  • Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow. A visually stunning movie (although there were scenes where it was obvious that the actors were in front of a blue screen), but it just didn't work that well for me. I couldn't stand Gwyneth Paltrow's character, and she & Jude Law just didn't have any chemistry. I wish Angelina Jolie had had a larger role.
  • Shaun of the Dead. Who'd have thought a zombie movie could be so much fun?
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous. Very funny. (Borrowed from Harmony & Topher.)
  • MST3K: Earth vs. the Spider. (Teena.)
  • Six Feet Under, the complete 2nd season. Great, great show. It makes me wish I could afford HBO. (Library.)
  • Invincible Pole Fighter. This was part of the Grindhouse Film Festival at the Hollywood Theatre: action movies from Hong Kong and Japan.
  • MST3K: Lost Continent. All I have to say about this movie is "rock climbing." (Teena.)
  • Clerks Uncensored.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The special effects may have been cheesy, but I have a fond spot in my heart for this show. Simon Jones is Arthur Dent.
  • MST3K: High School Big Shot. When I borrowed this, Teena warned me that it was depressing. Boy was she right. The MST3K part is funny (as always), but the underlying movie has one of the bleakest views of human nature I've ever encountered. I was reminded of EC crime comics of the 50's, where every woman was either a shrew or a golddigger and every man was either a milquetoast or a cad. (Teena.)
  • Love Hina Again. Anime. (Library.)
  • Inu Yasha TV Special. This is a summary of what I assume was the first season of the Inu Yash TV show in Japan. Essentially it's a clip show.
  • Team America: World Police. Crude & offensive, this movie was great. Large amounts of the humor came from seeing marionettes do certain things, but underneath the puppet sex & violence there was some substance (not much, but some). Plus it's got a great soundtrack. All & all, kind of like the South Park movie.
  • Incident at Loch Ness. A documentary about Werner Herzog's attempt to make a movie about people who believe in the Loch Ness monster. Also about Hollywood attitudes.
  • It's a Wonderful Life. Teena had never seen this before, and she was as touched by it as I was seeing it for something like the 8th time.
  • Toys.
  • A Fish Called Wanda.
  • Sideways. Saw with Teena. Entertaining
  • Tron. Teena & I saw this on New Year's Eve before going to a friend's party. It's amazing how well so many of the special effects hold up. But I think that's because we haven't seen anything like it before or since. Lots of fun.

Well, that's my books & movie lists for 2004. I'll try to keep better caught up in 2005.
Okay, time to finish off the books I read in 2004. (For 2005 I'm going to see if I can figure out enough HTML to keep a running tally of books read.)
  • The Aleph and Other Stories by Jorge Luis Borges. Borges came up a fair amount in the annotations to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, vol. 2, and I was reminded of how much I enjoy his stories, so I put this on hold at the library, & it took a little while to come in. (Checked out of the library, of course.)
  • Don't Stand Where the Comet Is Assumed to Strike Oil By Scott Adams. I believe Dilbert has run its course, that Adams has mined the topic for all it is worth. Or at least all he has to say about it. (Library.)
  • Unshelved by Bill Barnes & Gene Ambaum. A collection of comic strips about a public library. Not terribly funny, but there are a few moments. (Library.)
  • America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction by the writers of The Daily Show. A Christmas gift from Teena. Extremely funny, but what else would you expect from these people? The Daily Show may be my favorite TV program. Consistently hilarious.
  • The Brick Testament: The Story of Christmas by Brendan Powell Smith. You've gotta love Bible stories rendered in Lego bricks.
  • Hench by Adam Beechen & Manny Bella. The story of a guy who works as a henchman for a variety of supervillains. This is the kind of thing that Kurt Busiek does in Astro City, and while this isn't as good as that, it's still a lot more interesting than the majority of superhero comics out there. (Library.)
  • The Essential Tomb of Dracula, vol. 3 by Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan. Collecting the final 20 issues of the comic book & the first few issues of the magazine (which wasn't covered by the Comics Code Authority since it wasn't a "comic book"). Good stuff. There's going to be a fourth collection, but since Wolfman didn't write that much of it, I don't think I'll be picking that one up.
  • Shock Rockets: We Have Ignition by Kurt Busiek & Stuart Immonen. (Library.)
  • Sleeper, vol. 2: All False Moves by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips. An excellent comic series about a man who is deep undercover in an international criminal organization, so deep undercover that only one person knows he isn't the outlaw he appears to be. Unfortunately, that one person is in a coma. This collection deals with Carver having a chance at extraction. Really, this is a spy story with superhero trappings. Excellent stuff. (Library.)
  • Dork Side of the Goon: The Collected Dork Tower VII by John Kovalic.
  • Champs by Steven Weissman. Terrific comics about being a kid. (Library.)
  • Axis of Trouble by Lloyd Dangle. A collection of political cartoons. (Library.)
  • Girl Genius, vol. 3: Agatha Heterodyne & the Monster Engine by Phil & Kaja Foglio. (It's too soon after publication for Amazon to have a listing for this small press book.) The latest collection of my favorite comic currently being published. Rollicking fun adventure with mad science in an extremely well thought-out setting. Marvelous stuff. (Still a little pricey, though, at $21 for a collection of four issues that initially cost $4 each.)
  • Mystique: Dead Drop Gorgeous by Brian K. Vaughan & Jorge Lucas. (Library.)

And that's it for the books I read in 2004. All in all, there were 628 of them. And despite the number that I bought, borrowed, & reread, I now have fewer unread books in my apartment than I did at the beginning of the year.