Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Best of Moore

When I listed my Favourite Comic Stories of All Time awhile back, I mentioned that I consciously excluded the work of Alan Moore from consideration when building that list. Any such list, done straight up, would be dominated by the best work of the best comic writer of all time, after all. And I think it was a more interesting assembly of stories than would've come about without the exclusion; it was certainly more interesting for me to build!

However, the question remains: how would I rank Moore's stories? I won't attempt to collate the two rankings, but I can at least put his best stuff in some sort of order, in case anyone's looking for suggestions of great material to check out.

And no, I couldn't cut it down to just 10!

11) Batman: The Killing Joke one-shot. With gorgeous art by Brian Bolland, this self-contained story provided an unnerving origin story for the Joker a mere 40 some-odd years after his introduction. It also took the character of Barbara Gordon, up to that point a featherweight in her role as Batgirl, and turned her world upside down thanks to the Joker's pure insanity. Although it's doubtful Moore had it in mind when he wrote The Killing Joke, Barbara's taken on considerably higher status in the DC Universe since this tale. Moore only put her in the wheelchair; other writers created her new persona of Oracle from the seeds he planted. This sad little drama was a turning point in many ways.

10) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Volume I. This introductory tale of the League brought comic readers the premise of taking public domain characters like Professor Nemo, the Invisible Man, Mr Hyde and Allan Quartermain, and throwing them together in the context of a period tale! The writing was superb, the artwork by Kevin O'Neill perfectly suited the material, and even the advertisements were hilarious!

9) Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? in Superman # 423 & Action # 583. For reasons entirely too convoluted to go into here, DC wanted a "final Superman story" to wrap up the pre-Crisis stories before re-launching a new (and less endearing) version of the character. Wisely, they called on Alan and he knocked the ball out of the park. Most of the gems in this tale are best appreciated by those with long comic memories, but interestingly the final line from the tale has become something of a catchphrase: "This is an Imaginary Story... Aren't they all?"

8) From Hell. Jack the Ripper. Several hundred pages. A plausible identity for Jack provided. Painstaking research and annotations. This is a story that has to be read to be appreciated.

7) American Gothic in Swamp Thing #s 37 to 50. Many consider this to be the seminal Swamp Thing story. Certainly it's format is brilliant: Swampy is sent willy-nilly across the length and breadth of the U.S., encountering bizarre local happenings at each turn, all as part of a bigger canvas involving death cults and the end of the world. This also features the introduction and first appearance of one John Constantine (of Hellblazer fame), looking very Sting-like, who spares no expense in ridiculing our title character while leading him by the moss-covered nose. At least a couple Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes seemed to have drawn some inspiration from this storyline, as far as I can tell. Oh, and did I mention that issue # 37 also features a Letter to the Editor from your Humble Blogger? Well, it does! I choose to believe it's that letter, rather than the first appearance of Constantine, that's responsible for the high price it fetches on eBay. But I could be wrong!

6) For the Man Who Has Everything in Superman Annual # 11. If you're a fan of the Justice League cartoon that was on a few years ago, you may've actually seen a watered-down version of this story. Batman, Robin and Wonder Woman arrive at the Fortress of Solitude, bearing birthday presents for the Man of Steel, only to discover that he's already received - and opened - one: a deadly space orchid that latches onto the nearest host - him - and fills his head with visions of a happier life, all the while feeding on his life force. In Superman's case, this means he's in a stupor in which he believes Krypton never exploded! Standing motionless, he's wrapped up in a fantasy in which he was able to grow up on Krypton, surrounded by his mother and father, and never became the sole survivor of a doomed planet. Obviously the arriving heroes have to save the day, but their efforts are countered by the alien conqueror Mongul, who provided the questionable gift. This double-length, single-issue story has just about everything in it, including one of the best portrayals of the ill-fated second Robin (Jason Todd).

5) The Anatomy Lesson / Woodrue's Green World in Swamp Thing # 21 to 24. This storyline redefined Swamp Thing and provided a blueprint for how a really good writer could take a so-so character and make them so much more, without necessarily trampling all over what had come before. It also showcased a JLA in the final issue that was head and shoulders above any version that was appearing in their own title at that time. Moore would've had a field day writing the JLA title, had that miracle ever occurred.

4) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume II. Have I mentioned before that War of the Worlds is one of my favourite novels? How about that I love the concept behind the League of Extraordinary Gents? Or that Alan Moore is the best comic writer of all time? Well, then, imagine my delight at reading six issues by Moore in which the League is placed within the War of the Worlds storyline (now public domain) and asked to please save the world? Pure gold, from start to finish!

3) A Dream of Flying in Miracleman # 1 to 7. The first Miracleman arc, which re-introduces him and his pair of sidekicks, was so unlike anything we'd read up to then as to almost make one's head explode! As with Swamp Thing, Moore wanted to breathe new life into some characters who, up to that point, were silly at best, and completely derivative at worst. In fact, derivative doesn't do this situation justice: Captain Marvel ("Shazam!") was derivative of Superman; Miracleman (or Marvelman, as he was known in his native UK) was a cheap rip-off of Captain Marvel! What's a copy of a copy called? But when Moore was done with him, he was one of the most original, intriguing, and in some ways, scary super beings known to comics! And of course the fact that I take my online alias from his magic word should have prepared one and all for his high placement here.

2) V For Vendetta. While the film adaptation of this was reasonably good - unlike the utter piece of crap known as the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and the well-intentioned but seriously misguided From Hell movies - it's still nothing compared to the original material. David Lloyd's artwork, best appreciated in black and white format ironically, is some of the best I've ever seen (and the fact that I have more original artwork pages by him than anyone else should tell you I'm not kidding around). The characters of V and Evey are so well-defined over the course of this story that your heart gets ripped out exactly at the moments that author Moore intends it to be! Over the years, I flipflop on whether this is Moore's best or second-best. At the moment I'm giving the top spot to that other one, but they're really close. VFV is very nearly perfect, all 200+ pages of it!

1) Watchmen. No surprise, I'm sure. This and VFV are the Citizen Kane and Casablanca of comics, for me. I've read this series more times than any comic that's come out since I reached puberty, I suspect. Re-reading something a dozen times was common back in my childhood, but unheard of since. Watchmen is the exception, as I'm already up around seven or eight readings, and I'm sure I'll hit a dozen if I live another 30 years. Like Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon album, I find new things within every time I venture back again. For me, it's become the comic story, in the same way, I suppose, that Irene Adler was referred to by Sherlock Holmes, as "the woman."

TV Shows: Favourites, Guilty Pleasures and Disappointments

Dish the dirt on all of them at The Man from Mars blog, which I'd almost given up on, and then it suddenly took in a lungful of air and assured me, in its best Monty Python voice, "I'm not dead yet!"

I've already posted mine there. What about you?

For Those Scoring Along At Home

That last post was # 225. More impressively (if anything here can be considered impressive), it was post # 150 for the month of November!

Which means, yes, you know it as well as I do: I've averaged over 5 posts per day this month! And really, when you get right down to it, where else could you possibly go to get that amount of material with which to kill time?

Nowhere, that's where!

Reefer Al Followup

First, I admit it: I just really like writing, typing and saying "Reefer Al"! So any excuse to bring him up again is good enough for me!

Also, as Jim Hinckley pointed out in his comment on the original Reefer Al entry, I neglected to mention the precedent for the "10% Kickback Referral Program." Let me correct that oversight now.

Back before the dark period of New Guy Day 4, I was still at the bank but desperately wanted to get out of there and into something that at least had the potential of being more interesting than watching paint dry. A much younger Jim Hinckley had worked with me at the bank for a couple years, and then had his fill and bolted for greener pastures, which it turned out were to be found in the office where we both currently work (a few corporate name changes later). So off he went, but because we'd struck up something of an acquaintanceship at the bank during his time there, we made a point of keeping in touch. However, unlike most such ambitions, we did it right: we agreed to try very hard to meet for lunch every Monday! By putting such a lofty goal in front of us, it seemed more likely that we'd actually work at it, and sure enough, we did! For several months, with the occasional exception due to one or the other of us being unable to make it, we met weekly for lunch. He'd seemed genuinely interested in hearing what was new at the old place (generally: very little, although the gang he'd left behind was full of characters who were always up to something funny) and I'd always prod him with questions about what life was like at the new place. He was very happy with the change, and had mostly positive things to say about his new job. Actually, he was honest enough in his portrayal of the culture there, warts and all, that I felt like I had some idea of what it was like, without having ever set foot on the premises.

Eventually, after several months, I reached the point where I'd made up my mind that I was going to get out while I still had some semblance of a work ethic left. At one of our lunches, Jim asked if I'd be interested in having him refer me to his boss. I asked what that meant, and he described the referral program they had in place then, including the cash bonus. Which prompted me to say, "So, if you refer me, and I get hired, then you get a big bonus out of it.. and what do I get?"

To which he replied, after only the slightest of pauses, as if to confirm that his hearing wasn't faulty, "Uhhh.. A job?"

Undeterred, I pressed on. "Yeah, sure, but theoretically I could get a job there without your referral, so what's in it for me to have you refer me?"

He could've fired back with observations about how important it would be to have someone within the shop vouch for me, or how this process would pop my resume to the top of the pile. Instead, recognizing that he was up against a pro, that he'd met his match, that the jig was up, Hinckley kindly offered, "How about if I give you 10%?"

"Now you're talking! Yeah, that sounds fair."

"After tax, I mean." He was already doing the math in his head and worrying that possibly he'd eat the tax, and I'd feast on most of his take-home.

"Oh, of course. I'm not trying to screw you, after all."

And thus was born the "10% Kickback Referral Program," in which I did Jim the favour of allowing him to refer me for a job, at the low, low cost of only 10% of his bonus (after tax).

To which I can only add two postscripts.

# 1: Despite what you read above, which is 100% true (other than possibly mangling the exact words used), I rank among the world's worst negotiators. My wife excels at the art; I more than make up for her skill with my own ineptitude. I could tell stories of just how bad I am at it, but for now, trust me: I suck as a haggler, a barterer, a price-negotiator, you name it. And yet, for one bright shining moment, I was up to the challenge, as if my Uncle Bruce (who's been known to try to get discounts from grocery store cashiers) had temporarily taken control of my body. I can't explain it, but it happened; and it still makes me smile all these years later.

# 2: Young Jimmy also referred at least one other person around the same time, who is now a friend of both of ours, and who prides himself on how good of a haggler he is. He spent about a year in the Middle East when he was younger, where arguing over the price of everything is a way of life. For years, I took the occasional good-natured abuse from Mr Haggler on the topic, since it was clear to him that I couldn't negotiate my way out of a soggy paper bag... until the day that I let slip the details of the "10% Kickback Referral Program" in front of him, at which point his face dropped and it came out that he'd gotten bupkiss when he'd been referred by JH! Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but vindication smells sweetest with a 10% sticker slapped across it!

I've no doubt Reefer Al would've been quite proud of me that day... if he wasn't too high to appreciate the joke, of course!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Things That Bug Me? Oh, I'm So Glad You Asked!

Here are a few of the most common mistakes I see when I read other peoples' writing, whether it be on the Internet, or via e-mail, or in magazines or even books. And often it even shows up in the words they say, where I find it especially hard not to correct them.

1) Is it really that hard to understand the difference between infer and imply? Is this just a mental block sort of thing, as it seems to afflict some reasonably intelligent folks? I've taken to using the sentence, "Am I correctly inferring what you're implying?" when I hear either word used wrong (always as the other), because at least it gives the other person an example of how they're meant to be used. And I don't mean this in an elitist way; I just don't understand why people find them so confusing.

2) There's no such word as irregardless! (Oh, sure, one of these days it'll end up in the dictionary, because enough chowderheads will be using it that it'll become legitimate through common use!) If it was a word, then wouldn't it mean "with regard to" or "regarding", since it's a double negative?! I suppose the real culprits are words like irrelevant and irresponsible, because somehow, by simply existing, they've convinced people that you just stick an "ir" at the start of any "r" word to negate it. This one, I'll admit, really makes me teeth hurt when I see or hear it.

3) The possessive form of it has no apostrophe. I know that's an exception, and that most possessive forms do have apostophes, but the English language is nothing if not filled with exceptions, so get over it! A good sentence for this one is "It's a naughty dog that licks its balls in public" although I guess it's maybe not suitable for all audiences...

4) This one's a little harder to characterize, but here's an example of it: "The Blue Jays have more pitching depth in their farm system than the entire American League East." Now, regardless of whether or not you agree with the sentiment (I don't), the logic of the sentence makes no sense. The Jays are part of the American League East! So how could they have more of anything than any group that includes them? Clearly what the writer or speaker meant to say was "The Blue Jays have more ... than the rest of the American League East combined." That sentence, while still likely untrue, at least could be true! Another type of example would be a sentence like "No player has ever exhibited the scoring touch of Wayne Gretzky", where they really mean "No other player has ever..." I see this sort of thing way too often, let me tell you!

On a therapeutic scale of 1 to 10, this blog entry scored a solid:

7.0 !

I feel better already.

But I Put It In My Blog!!!

Another blogging-related joke at the office today was around the idea that, by writing about something in my blog, I might forget to actually tell my wife something important, assuming that she'd read it here instead!

I do find that, now when I'm about to tell someone something, I tend to first ask myself, "Did I blog about this already?" and if so, then, "Does this person likely read my blog?" I certainly don't want to repeat myself, after all! There'll be time enough when I'm much older to tell the same stories, over and over, or tell stories that never go anywhere, or tell stories without any context around them, or tell stories involving people who were old when I was young, or tell stories and have my wife continually correct the smallest details.

Yeah, I'm really looking forward to those golden days to come....

"Won't Have Nixon To Kick Around Any More"

I always thought that Tricky Dick quote applied to when he was forced to resign the Presidency in 1974, but apparently it was actually from 1962, after he lost in the California gubernatorial race. It's such a perfect emblematic quotation for him, regardless of the circumstance, stinking as it does of sour grapes and poor loserness.

In that same spirit, I'm coming to the conclusion that my idea of having silly little Ask the Agile Manager segments during the company meetings isn't coming across the way I'd hoped. Among the survey data from last week were several comments singling that part of the 2 hours out as something the respondent:

a) didn't enjoy
b) found long-winded and boring
c) thought was a waste of time
d) would be better served in an e-mail thread or forum topic.

I'm tempted to fire off a "Won't Have The Agile Manager To Kick Around Any More" e-mail but of course the reference would be lost on most, so what would be the point? And really, this is the sort of feedback we want, so being petty about the results would just be stupid.

Instead, I think d) above is the way to go. Clearly, even as shown right here, I do better with written communication than verbal, so why not take Ask the Agile Manager electronic and allow myself the time to craft exactly what I want to say, without worrying that I'll butcher it in the delivery (as I usually do)? And this way, anyone who doesn't care doesn't have to even read it, and I'll reach a more interested (albeit smaller) audience. Again, just like blogging!! :-)

So you read it here first! Now I just have to find the time to slap together an e-mail about it at work and make the move from live-and-in-person to recorded-and-in-text!

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

One of my co-workers discovered my blog this morning (thanks to a link by PeterJ) and made some sort of comment about how much blogging I do. I asked, "Did you notice how many blog entries there are?" (since I know the new format shows it), and he said, "Ummm... 218? You've managed to do 218 blogs this year? That's nuts!"

And of course I had to say, "Actually, I only started blogging on October 1st. Check the November total..."

I'm not sure what he made of that. But I was proud as a peacock, on the inside at least. "Nothing in half-measures," as Vicki would say!

I Wonder Where Refer Al Is These Days?

Back in the days when I worked at the bank, they had a mortgage referral program that rewarded employees with some amount of cash if you convinced a non-employee to bring his or her mortgage to the bank. They called the program "Refer Al" and even had a cartoony character personifying Al himself, on posters that were put up around the various offices across Canada. Of course, it wasn't long before he became known far and wide as "Reefer Al", and the posters modified accordingly by employees with too much time on their hands or not enough fear of the regime. Though the program died long before my career there did, I still have fond memories of good ol' pot-smoking Al and his self-satisfied smile at the prospect of bringing another poor sucker into the fold... or scoring a spectacular doobie, as the case may be.

(Synchronicity alert! As I was typing that last line, Taking It to the Street by the Doobie Brothers came on digital music channel 722! No lie!)

These days, the only kind of referral I tend to be interested in is the kind my current company provides cash rewards for: referring a successful candidate for a job there! Although the cash prize has been cut in half from what it was back in the glory days of start-up-ness, it's still a not insignificant sum. I had a chance at cashing in several years ago, at the old rate, but that turned out to be a very short story with an unhappy ending.

I'd referred, and spent some considerable time convincing, a friend from the bank to apply for, via a referral from me, a fairly senior position that had opened up. This individual was among the top five people I'd left behind, as far as I was concerned, and so I felt like the addition of such a powerhouse would do nothing but improve my new company and allow him to develop some very marketable new skills. I was entirely jazzed when, after several interviews, the ducks were all lined up fine for shooting and he came in for his first day of work. Although I didn't know it until later, he had serious reservations about leaving his more secure job behind, and was similarly trepidatious about what sort of career he might fashion in this much smaller start-up shop. I naively thought all was well, made a point of stopping by each day to chat with him, and otherwise went about my business, rubbing my hands in glee at the thought that several months later I'd be collecting my referral fee and finding some fun use for it.

So imagine my surprise when I walked into the office on New Guy Day 4, only to find out that he'd come into work half an hour earlier and promptly quit, with little or no explanation beyond the fact that he was going through a bad stretch personally and didn't want to take on the challenge of a new job. He was in and gone before I even got there, and I was left to merely ponder why.

It was a couple weeks before he finally got in touch with me, and eventually we met for a drink and he explained his reasoning, which sounded quite like a partial mental breakdown or something of the sort. And not too long after that, he was back at the bank, working for the same old boss, in the same old department, as if nothing had happened. It was sort of like William Hurt in The Accidental Tourist, when he leaves Kathleen Turner because his marriage to her is dead inside, moves in with Geena Davis temporarily, and then just up and quits that relationship to go back to his more familiar wife and home, in what I guess is the ultimate form of denial. Whatever it was, he was gone after four days. Well, three a bit, really. And with him went my hopes about how much he might help us achieve new heights while growing his own skills considerably.. along with my several thousand dollars of referral money!

Flash forward to just over three months ago, and I was finally ready to climb up on that horse again. I knew of someone who was looking for work at the same time we were trying to fill several positions of that sort, and I tentatively started working those old muscles again. Long phone conversations and lunches ensued, and a referral was put in (the form hadn't changed much since the last time, I noticed) and then the waiting game began, once again. As with the previous example, I was more excited at the notion of getting this person in-house than I was about the money, but having had the cash slip through my fingers once, I was determined not to be tricked a second time. When she did great in all of her interviews, and got the job, and came in for her first day, I told her the story of Day 4 and asked that she at least stay the week! It became quite a joke between the two of us, and her boss, who also knew the story. He'd make a point of stopping by my cube to tell me "she's still here!" at least a couple times a week, in fact!

And this tale has a much more satisfying conclusion. Her probation has ended, my bonus should be in tonight's pay, and I've already told her she gets 10% of my after-tax bonus, since clearly she earned it by sticking around after such a horrible precedent was set the last time! It's great to finally have a positive referral story to tell, after five years of having that unpleasant one stuck in my craw.

No doubt this new employee will end up being ten times better than the other one would've, anyway! After all, winners never quit, and quitters never win, right?

Damn right!

Pop Culture Quiz Alert!

Silent for over a week on his own blogsite, PeterJ has returned with a vengence! Check out his You Wanna Have A Catch quiz and see how you do! Since I already posted my guesses as a comment, you may want to think of yours before moving on to the comments section to do the same.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Life Overtakes Comics

Only such an anal retentive, number-obsessed specimen such as your Humble Blogger would even notice, never mind care about, such things, but... as of today, the total number of blog entries I've made on "Life" exceeds the number I've done on "Comics".

It feels wrong somehow, and yet... there it is!

(And now I just know I'm going to wake up in the middle of the night with ideas for four or five comic blogs... sigh.)

"It's a Good Thing We Didn't Meet in High School"

That was the last line in tonight's episode of Standoff, exchanged between the two leads, who're romanticly involved in the series. Over the course of the episode it became obvious to both of them that, despite their current attraction, they wouldn't have been compatible at all during high school.

I've long thought the same thing about my wife and I. Our difference in age would've precluded us from ever actually going to school together, but that detail notwithstanding, I fear we'd not have been much of a match. She was outgoing, a cheerleader, no doubt a flashy dresser, one of the cool kids, and totally into the high school experience; I was an introvert, a non-conformist, wore clothes that had never been in fashion (nor probably ever would), didn't really hang out with any crowd to call my own, and had nothing but disdain for the five years of my life wasted there (I didn't even attend any of the graduation events, for example). So what could possibly have attracted us to each other, had a disturbance in the space-time continuum somehow deposited us within proximity of each other way back then? I suspect: not a thing.

Fortunately, though, such matters matter not. High school's a five (now, four) year odyssey that, it turns out, has very little to do with the rest of your life (that meager 40 to 70 years that follows it). And for my money, that's a really good thing.

Stupid Things I Know, Part 2

In my previous post on this topic, I listed my recollection of the Stanley Cup winners, 1967-2006. So far no one's corrected me on any of them, but I choose to attribute that more to laziness on your part than perfection on mine! But so it goes.

Then today the question was asked of me, at work, "Can you also name the losers of those 39 Stanley Cups?" Which got me thinking that I ought to at least give it a try. So, by popular demand (where popular means almost none at all), here they are:

Update: wrong answers in red (along with correct teams)

1967 Toronto def Montreal
1968 - 69 Montreal def St. Louis, St. Louis
1970 Boston def St. Louis
1971 Montreal def Chicago
1972 Boston def NY Rangers
1973 Montreal def Chicago
1974 - 75 Philadelphia def Boston, Buffalo
1976 - 79 Montreal def Boston (Philadelphia), Boston, Boston, NY Rangers
1980 - 83 NY Islanders def Philadelphia, Minnesota, Vancouver, Edmonton
1984 - 85 Edmonton def NY Islanders, Philadelphia
1986 Montreal def Calgary
1987 - 88 Edmonton def Philadelphia, Boston
1989 Calgary def Montreal
1990 Edmonton def Boston
1991 - 92 Pittsburgh def Minnesota, Chicago
1993 Montreal def Los Angeles
1994 NY Rangers def Vancouver (couldn't be surer of this if my life depended on it)
1995 New Jersey def Detroit
1996 Colorado def Florida
1997 - 98 Detroit def New Jersey (Philadelphia), Philadelphia (Washington)
1999 Dallas def Buffalo
2000 New Jersey def Colorado (Dallas)
2001 Colorado def New Jersey
2002 Detroit def Philadelphia (Carolina)
2003 New Jersey def Anaheim
2004 Tampa Bay def Calgary
2005 -- lockout --
2006 Carolina def Edmonton

I think I probably got better than half of them right, but I'll go look them up now and post the results shortly.

Update: OK, so I did a lot better than I expected! I had 5 wrong (out of 39) with most of them being recent results rather than older ones. (And 4 of the 5 errors involved the Flyers.. what's that all about?) The higher error rate in the last decade is probably a reflection of the fact that, in the 70s and 80s, I paid an inordinate amount of attention to the NHL, compared to now. Many of those series I can even remember how many games they went, and in some cases individual highlights! Now that's a crazy use of my brain cells!

Oh, and P.S. In checking the losing teams, I also checked my listings of the winners, and it turned out I'd gotten them 100% correct. Glad to know my burned-in memory of those doesn't need replacement!

Sometimes Even the Smallest Kind Word is Enough

In conversation during lunch yesterday, at a point where the question was appropos, I asked Jim Hinckley if he'd read my very early blog post on those who seek validation of what they like, knowing that it was, after all, over 200 blog entries ago (or a month and a half past, as our quaint calendars mark time). At the very least, I thought Jim might take the opening I'd just offered to make some sort of non-committal "uh, yeah, maybe, or, I'm not really sure, that is, ummmm..." response.

But bless him, he fired right back with, "I've read every one of your blog entries, from the beginning." I'll admit here and now, in the private and confidential realm colloquially referred to as the blogosphere, that I almost teared up a little at such a display of fanaticism. Or fan-ism. Or boredom-ism.

I guess you really had to be there....

Like Suckers, Is There One Born Every Minute?

A new entrant into the blogosphere caught my eye today, thanks to the ever entertaining Neil Gaiman blog. The neophyte in question is one Eddie Campbell, blogging on our very own Blogspot. Who the Hell is Eddie Campbell, I hear you squeal? Why, none other than the very English artist of From Hell, that amazing Jack the Ripper postulation comic series written by Alan Moore (and, loosely, the basis for the Johnny Depp film of the same name). I have a couple pieces of Eddie's artwork from From Hell among my collection (one of which is framed and on the wall) so I have a certain affinity for the old tosser, real or imagined.

In Which No Animals Are Harmed, But Souls Are Fair Game

As it happens, I have a fair amount of respect for people who hold religious beliefs, despite the fact that I'm not one of them. I guess I'd qualify that to say that my respect is inversely proportional to the extent to which a particular follower forces their beliefs onto others. If your religion leads you to offer your time and energy up to helping the poor or the sick, that's a laudable goal that should be applauded by all. But if your favourite scripture is imploring you to kill those who perform abortions or harass those who seek them, or to speak out against marriage between same sex couples, then I have no use for you or your crazy notions. I suppose that's because my personal belief is that every person can give of themselves as freely as they wish, but we don't get to tell other people how to live their lives (other than where crimes are being committed).

But religious fervour is pretty high in the world these days, so maybe it's time I got on board. I can't really see myself converting to some existing religion, because I'm pretty sure none of them would meet my ridiculous standards (such as those expressed in the preceding paragraph). So that means I probably need to start my own. Hmmmm.

My first thought was that maybe I'd like to form a relgiion around a cute furry animal, because I'm fond of critters, for the most part, and maybe I could end up saving some species that would otherwise be wiped out by Man's innate right to become the only species on the planet. The first candidate that came to mind was the woodchuck. I'm not sure why, as I know very little about the little buggers. But I could already hear the words of our Holy Psalm:

How much wood
Would a Woodchuck chuck
If a Woodchuck
Could chuck

It's divine, it's sublime, and Holy Chuck, every child of four knows it already!

But then I had a crisis of faith and worried: what if it turned out that woodchucks were dirty, nasty creatures that wouldn't hold up under scrutiny or heavy worshipping? What is these chuckers of wood ended up having feet of clay? Could I take that chance?

As if from On High, a new thought occurred to me: why not build my church around beings so pure, so heavenly, as to never court disappointment? And who could possibly fit that description better than Superman and his holy brethren? They're practically gods to begin with! Now you're talkin'!

Within seconds I'd realized that this idea was truly perfect. Think about it: You need a good holy book? Marvel and DC are cranking out new chapters every week! Got a follower faced with a moral dilemma? Simply suggest they ask themselves WWSMD - What Would Spider-Man Do? You want to allow for future sectarianism so that our new religion can grow and flourish across the planet? How do Marvelite, DC Universalist and Dark Horseman sound to you, just for starters? Outstanding! You need a holy day to worship on? Duh! Wednesdays, when the new comics come out, are already it, man! And if churches are slow to be built, worshippers currently congregate at comic stores, so with just the tiniest bit of organization, you're halfway home! How awesome is that!?

And here's the cherry on top: whatever stories you don't want to attach divinity to, you simply retcon away! And that's retroactive continuity, for the infidels in the audience who don't already speak in such tongues. It means that you get to go back and change how things were previously portrayed to have happened, by simply introducing a new story that contradicts what went before! It's like a license to re-write history, my friends! What religious fanatic wouldn't chew off a finger to have that kind of power? Seems almost too good to be true, doesn't it?

Well, anyway. I don't think I can do it. I think the sad truth is that I lack the divine drive that's required to get behind a movement that's founded on faith and scripture, instead of science and reality. I love imagining things that don't exist, but I'm not so crazy about believing in them. I enjoy reading a good story as much as the next guy, but don't see any value in mistaking fiction for fact. So it looks like religion's just not for me, but more power to those who use their beliefs to do good work during their short stint on the planet.

Blogging: Sometimes a Blessing, Sometimes a Curse

I woke up around 4:00 am this morning, full of blogging ideas! But instead of getting up and posting those ideas, so they'd be out of my head and maybe I could then fall back asleep, I tossed and turned for a couple hours, writing the entries incoherently in my head. So I didn't get enough sleep (but still had to lead a 2-hour Retrospective for the most... boisterous? vocal? ... feature team in our company) and didn't get any blogging done, either!

And now I have only vague recollections of what my ideas were. One I may be able to piece together tonight and share, but I'm drawing blanks so far on what the rest were.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Michael Richards, Mel Gibson; Mel Gibson, Michael Richards

So when Mel went all mental after being pulled over on suspicion of DUI, letting fly with his anti-Semitic tirade and then later apologizing profusely for saying things that, clearly, were always in his heart, I thought it was strange. Not that I'm any big Gibson fan, but he just didn't seem like the type of celebrity who'd be stupid enough to:

a) drink to the point where he'd lose control of his brain;
b) hold such idiotic opinions in this day and age;
c) not have a handler with him whenever he goes out drinking in public to avoid just such an event, failing a) and b).

And yet. For days, that was the biggest entertainment story going around. I seem to recall that I was at the software conference in Las Vegas when it all broke, as I remember flipping around the channels on a hotel TV and seeing his face on several of them, and thinking maybe he died. But no, he'd simply done his best to kill his career. And of course all of the accusations around The Passion of the Christ being anti-Semitic were brought up again, in case we'd forgotten.

Now, if you were living under a rock back in July, don't worry: Michael Richards decided to recreate it for you recently. Substitute "heckler" for "arresting officer", "blacks" for "Jews" and increase the number of witnesses exponentially. Did he not glean anything from the tale of Gibson the Jew-hater? Did he and his buddies sit around, back in the summer, laughing themselves stupid at how Mel had shot himself in the foot, and only a fool could make a mistake like that?

Or is this just the start of a new wave of celebrities speaking their minds (rather than issuing sound bytes about their latest project), and then scheduling apologistic tours for it later? Could this be the nouveau way to get your name in the news? "All publicity is good publicity" and all that. Can these guys count on the short memories of the public, or better yet, that people won't pass judgment on them based on their misbehaviour? "Oh, I know that Mel Gibson fellow hates all people of the Jewish faith, but I'm really looking forward to Lethal Weapon 7!" Yeah, they're probably right.

Careful With That Axe, Eugene!

For those who haven't figured it out yet, Jim Hinckley's Ramblings of a Geek blog has exclusively used Pink Floyd song titles as blog entry titles, to date. If you know Jimmy at all, then you know he's a Floyd aficionado of the first order, which is one of the things we have in common (though I'm not nearly as up on Floyd as he is). My earliest Floyd-related recollection involves hearing The Dark Side of the Moon playing on a friend's 8-track in his car, when I was about 16 or 17, and thinking it was just about the weirdest shit that'd ever hit my ears. I don't know if it was the clocks going off at the start of "Time" or the background vocal clips ("I've been mad for fucking years, absolutely years...") but it just sounded like something you didn't expect to ever hear. And considering the music of the day (this would be the late 70s or early 80s) it clearly had about ten times the depth of what I was used to running across on the radio. I'd already discovered Genesis and the Police by then, and was slowly travelling backward in time along the former's album list, which would eventually lead me to the good stuff - Peter Gabriel's music, within and outside of Genesis - so I wasn't completely AM radio-fed, just mostly so.

But Floyd albums, especially from the 70s, had an edge to them that no one else came close to. I think it seemed to me like music for those who were almost (but not quite) sick of music. They threw everything but the kitchen sink into their compositions and yet just barely managed to keep it musical, unlike some of the stuff done by others who clearly were sick of music (one of the reasons I could never get into Punk, for example)! The lyrical complexity of a typical Floyd song was shocking to my teenage mind, and still, nearly thirty years later, resonates very strongly with me. I don't think the Syd Barrett (R.I.P.) era was their high-water mark, as some do, because I find the lyrics from that early period rather lacklustre compared to what came when Roger Waters became more of a driving force.

Just consider a few of the lyrics:

"Forward he cried from the rear
and the front rank died.
And the general sat and the lines on the map
moved from side to side.

Down and out
It can't be helped but there's a lot of it about.
With, without.
And who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about?
Out of the way, it's a busy day
I've got things on my mind.
For the want of the price of tea and a slice
The old man died. "

- from "Us and Them", The Dark Side of the Moon

And what teenager (or teenager at heart) can't relate to:

"The lunatic is in my head.
The lunatic is in my head
You raise the blade, you make the change
You re-arrange me 'til I'm sane.
You lock the door
And throw away the key
There's someone in my head but it's not me."

- from "Brain Damage", The Dark Side of the Moon

Little did I know, way back in 1979 or 1980, that someday I'd be working with (and sometimes for) exactly the sort described in the following passage:

"And after a while, you can work on points for style.
Like the club tie, and the firm handshake,
A certain look in the eye and an easy smile.
You have to be trusted by the people that you lie to,
So that when they turn their backs on you,
You'll get the chance to put the knife in."

- from "Dogs", Animals

I doubt we'll ever see another group quite as talented at blending complex music and sophisticated lyrics as Pink Floyd did at their creative peak, but at least we've got half a dozen or so albums to enjoy and introduce to new generations.

And as a coincidental side-note, "Comfortably Numb" - the real version! - just came on the digital music channel as I was finishing up this post! Quel appropriate! One of the all-time great songs, if you ask me!

Stupid Things I Know

The ubiquitous nature of the Internet these days means that all of us have an incredible amount of data literally at our fingertips. We often make the joke at work, when we're debating over some piece of trivia, that "if only there were someplace we could look, some central location, that might tell us the answer.." after which we all share a laugh and then look it up on IMDB, or NHL.COM, or wherever. Often we don't even know which site to use, but then Google or Yahoo rides to the rescue.

But having said all that, there are a lot of pieces of trivia that I just have in my head. It's entirely possible (though, I hope, not likely) that the data I have is wrong, because I refer to it (in my head) so often that I don't even bother looking it up to check its veracity anymore.

So, to put that to the test, here are just a few of these totally useless bits of memorization that reside in my noggin, with no attempt to verify them ahead of time (feel free to point out where I'm wrong, so maybe I will update the data!):

Stanely Cup Winners 1967 - 2006 (40 years!)

1967 Toronto
1968 - 69 Montreal
1970 Boston
1971 Montreal
1972 Boston
1973 Montreal
1974 - 75 Philadelphia
1976 - 79 Montreal
1980 - 83 NY Islanders
1984 - 85 Edmonton
1986 Montreal
1987 - 88 Edmonton
1989 Calgary
1990 Edmonton
1991 - 92 Pittsburgh
1993 Montreal
1994 NY Rangers (couldn't be surer of this if my life depended on it)
1995 New Jersey
1996 Colorado
1997 - 98 Detroit
1999 Dallas
2000 New Jersey
2001 Colorado
2002 Detroit (although I might have 2001 & 2002 reversed)
2003 New Jersey
2004 Tampa Bay
2005 -- lockout --
2006 Carolina

Members to join the Avengers over the first 100 issues

Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Ant Man, Wasp (founders, issue # 1)
Captain America (issue # 4)
Wonder Man (unclear if he actually joined, but issue # 9, regardless)
Hawkeye, then Quicksilver & Scarlet Witch (issue # 16)
The Swordsman (issue # 20, joined to betray team, but was never formally booted)
Hercules (not sure what issue #, in the 30s somewhere)
Black Panther (issue # 52)
The Vision (issue # 58)
The Black Knight (issue # 71)

The words to the Green Lantern Oath, as spoken by Hal Jordan:

"In brightest day, in blackest night
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil's might
Beware my power, Green Lantern's light!"

World Series results 1991 - 2006

1991 Minnesota def Atlanta
1992 Toronto def Atlanta
1993 Toronto def Philadelphia
1994 -- strike --
1995 Atlanta def Cleveland
1996 NY Yankees def Atlanta
1997 Florida def Cleveland
1998 NY Yankees def San Diego
1999 NY Yankees def Atlanta
2000 NY Yankees def NY Mets
2001 Arizona def NY Yankees
2002 Anaheim def San Francisco
2003 Florida def NY Yankees
2004 Boston def St. Louis
2005 Chicago White Sox def Houston
2006 St. Louis def Detroit

How wacky is it that I have stuff like that in my brain??

And what stupid things are in your brain that you'd like to share?

Does Reading My Blog Actually Make You Smarter?

Well, I suppose I could argue that simply choosing to read my blog says something about your intelligence relative to those who don't, but that's not where I'm going with this. I got thinking about some of the topics that I post about, whether it be sports trivia, or comics history, or pop culture references, and then started wondering if any of it would ever prove helpful in Life. I'm not sure, for example, if knowing more trivial actually makes you smarter, but I do believe that it often has the effect of making you look smarter!

Imagine, for example, that PeterJ was engaged in a conversation with someone at work, and they happen to say, "Hey, what's up with comics and their wacky numbering systems? I used to collect Daredevil when I was a kid but now I see there's a DD run that's even lower in issue numbers than when I was buying it! How's that even possible?" And then of course PeterJ would proceed to explain how comic publishers used to try hard to maintain the high numbering, but nowadays # 1's sell best so they're always looking for excuses to restart older series. He'd look like a bloody genius, wouldn't he??!!

Or just picture Jimmy Hinckley, in the middle of a design review with his peers. The talk turns to how best to introduce some interactive TV-related APIs into a set of standards dominated by cell phone interests, to which Jimmy wisely intones, "Charlie don't surf!" and no one can deny the sage wisdom imparted through this excellent and oh-so-applicable channeling of Lt. Colonel Kilgore.

And really, when you get right down to it, who among us wouldn't like to at least give the appearance of being smarter? :-)

My Hard Working Wife

Having to spend a day in Toronto on business is nothing new for my wife, but today she really got the short straw. Because of a meeting that was scheduled to begin early in the day, and another meeting that would go beyond 4:00 pm, she ended up having to book the earlist train there and the latest train back. This means she'll have been on the go from about 6:00 am when she left the house until around 7:30 pm when she gets home. Because of the limited daylight and ideal weather conditions today, I rode my bike to work but then ended up working a mere 6.5 hours. This means Vicki will have worked more than twice as many hours as me today! (She's working hard; I'm hardly working!) The fact that she's on contract means she actually gets paid for all of those hours, which is certainly much better than some of the long days I've put in over the years without any special compensation to show for it. But it's still a marathon of a day.

And the funniest part of it all is that she'll have sat beside someone on the train home who will have talked to her the whole way. Hell on Earth is the way I'd describe that sort of thing, whereas she genuinely seems to enjoy the experience!!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Consolation Loss

In the NHL these days, when is a loss not a loss? Well, if you lose in overtime or in a shootout, then it's technically a loss (as in, not a win) but you get a point for your efforts so it's not a total loss (so to speak). And if you get into overtime by scoring a tying goal late in the third, that's certainly better than being the team that blows the lead. And if the team you lose to after regulation is 1st in your conference, that takes a little of the sting away, too.

All of those mitigating circumstances apply to the Rangers' overtime loss to Buffalo tonight. They trailed 2-0 at one point, and trailed 2-1 with 5:00 left in the game, before tying it up. This is the third time they've lost to Buffalo this season (one of the other two losses also came in O/T), but the good news is that means they'll only play one more time (which is actually at the end of this week, I think). Getting two points out of three meetings against the top team isn't horrible, all things considered. Tonight's loss did end a (three game) winning streak, but my hat goes off to them for picking up seven points over those four games, especially considering the games were against the last two Stanley Cup champions (Tampa Bay and Carolina), the very hot Pens, and now the East-leading Sabres. And they won last night by coming back to tie the game late against Pittburgh, and then winning with only a few seconds left in overtime. They also outscored their opponents 12-to-5 over those last four games, which is a positive sign. I just hope it's not a fluke, as they've been anything but consistent so far this year.

New Video Games on the Horizon

Probably due to the hype over the launches of the PS/3 and Wii in the last week, I've been thinking about video games again for the first time in awhile. I've spotted three, just in the last several days, that I think would be fun to play.

I sort of knew there'd been a new addition to the Half-Life 2 series, called Episode 1, but I couldn't tell you exactly when it came out since I'd ignored video games for a good part of the year. Anyway, I saw a copy of it at FutureShop while Christmas shopping, and thought, "Yeah, I forgot just how much I loved playing Half-Life 2. This'd be fun." And then I put the box back down, like a good boy, and left the store empty-handed (see the final paragraph for the reason why).

The other two games are similar, so I don't know if I'd really want both. They're DC's Justice League: Heroes and Marvel's Ultimate Alliance. The first is a PS/2 game while the latter's newer and targetted for the PS/3. Each allows you to play as various heroes of the respective universe, which has some appeal but isn't actually the deal-closer for me. What really interests me is that each has a 2-player cooperative mode, which means Vicki and I, or Tammy and I, could enjoy it the same way we did similar Baldur's Gate versions. Our favourite console games are the ones we can play together, and typically those are the ones we spend the most time at. So I imagine I'd try one, and if we finished it and really loved it, maybe I'd then get the other.

It's good to have such things to look forward to! And of course, at this time of year, I'd be taking my life in my hands if I bought myself anything like this. There's Christmas, then Valentine's Day, and then wedding anniversay and birthday in March, after which I'm set free to buy whatever I didn't get over all those gift-exchanging events. But treating myself between early October and mid March is pure folly in these parts!

Parity in Sports

I don't really follow the NBA anymore (too much bad behaviour for me to enjoy watching it for years now) but across the other big three North American professional sports leagues, it seems like parity has become the order of the day. In Major League Baseball this past season, there was a long stretch in the latter half of the season where the wildcard race in the National League was headed up by teams only two or three games over .500. That's an obvious indicator of parity, since it means there are a lot of teams hovering around the breakeven point in terms of wins vs losses, and if they were lucky enough to be in the NL, they were in the playoff hunt right up until the last couple weeks. The American League wildcard race was more like what you'd expect, featuring a trio of teams that had double digits more wins than losses (Detroit, Minnesota, Chicago).

In the NHL right now, there are a handful of teams way out in front (Buffalo, Atlanta, Anaheim and Nashville) and maybe one team well behind the early playoff pace (Columbus) but the vast majority are packed in the middle. And even that list of four top dogs are far from the usual suspects, which would typically be Ottawa, New Jersey, Detroit and maybe Calgary or Philadelphia. It certainly makes things more interesting for fans everywhere when you have a big mash-up scenario like this, rather than a Great Divide between Haves and Have Nots, as had been the case in years prior to the lockout of 2004/2005. If my Rangers had traditionally been one of those upper tier NHL teams, I'm sure I'd be less pleased with this turn of events; but after seven consecutive seasons with no playoff appearances, last year was a breath of fresh air for me, even considering their self-destruction at the end of the year.

And finally, as I glance at the NFL standings today (despite not really following the league much so far this year, in protest over the hated Steelers winning last year) I see some of the same thing happening there. Both the NFC and AFC are filled with teams sporting records like 6-5 and 5-6 right now, with a very few managing to hold 9-2, 8-3 or even 7-4 marks. This probably means there'll be at least one division winner get into the postseason with a 9-7 record, and maybe even a wildcard team or two with that record as well. Again, this says "parity" to me. I guess the fact that the NFC sent two wildcard teams with 8-8 records to the playoffs a couple years ago means this isn't anything completely new. But seeing Baltimore, Chicago and San Diego atop the overall standings once again indicates that the sport's not mired in a rut where the same teams dominate year to year. And that's gotta be good for fans, in general.

I think as fans of particular teams we sometimes forget that the whole point of the product is to get butts into the seats of the arenas and stadiums, sell TV time, and move merchandise. And the more chance each team has to win it all, even two thirds of the way through the long season, the better it is for everyone.

A Few Thoughts on the Squadron Supreme

One of the first comics I remember reading was an issue of Avengers that was the conclusion of a 2-part story, and was entitled "Brain-child to the Dark Tower Came" (that's always struck me as a goofy title, but I suppose they can't all be "A Clash of Titans!" or "When Worlds Collide!"). I could tell it was continued from a previous issue because of the little bit of recapping near the start, but it'd be years before I'd find a copy of # 85 so that I could read it for myself. It didn't really matter, though, as the action in this issue was more than enough to hold my interest once I got past the preamble.

I can't remember whether or not I'd read a Justice League of America story prior to getting this Avengers issue or not, though certainly by the time I'd read # 86 so many times that its cover was coming loose, I had. The reason I wonder such an odd thing is because it featured the Avengers teaming up with a little known team by the name of the Squadron Supreme, who, as you'll soon see, had a very definite and unmistakable tie to the JLA. I didn't know it at the time, but this was, sort of, the fourth appearance of that group. Obviously the preceding issue, which featured the start of this story, was their third foray into the four colour format. But what I didn't discover until many years later was that the same group of characters had appeared about a year earlier, in Avengers #s 70 and 71, but they were called the Squadron Sinister then. Those others were in fact a different group of men, with the same powers and costumed identities, but villains where the Squadron Supreme were heroes. Confused yet? You should be!

Here's how it all went down. In trying to think of foes for the Avengers to fight in a high-stakes, real life chess match in issues 70 and 71, writer Roy Thomas decided to create a group based on his fan favourite DC superhero team, the JLA. Roy was working for Marvel Comics at this point in his career and had no opportunity to actually interact with the Justice League, but within the Avengers title he thought he could at least tip his hat in their general direction, albeit in the form of a villainous team. I'm sure part of the reasoning must've been that, were he to cast them as heroes, there'd be less reason for the two superteams to fight, and also more chance of DC suing or otherwise taking action to protest this rip-off of their intellectual property.

And so Thomas created four new villains: Hyperion, the sole survivor from a subatomic world, with virtually the same powers as a certain Last Son of Krypton; Nighthawk, an acrobatic mortal with exceptional strategic prowess and an array of handy dandy gadgets, ala Batman; a super-speedster named the Whizzer who was clearly based on DC's Flash, although Marvel already had its own version in Quicksilver; and finally Dr Spectrum, wielder of a power prism with which he could make his thoughts reality, just like Green Lantern could do with his emerald ring. So there we had a mini-JLA, with four of the mainstays transformed, renamed, and turned bad. And much fighting ensued! The good guys won the day, and the Squadron Sinister faded away into obscurity again.

Which brings us back to Avengers # 86. The first part of the story, which happened in # 85, had the Avengers travelling between dimensions, trying to get back home after being hi-jacked to Arkon's world in # 84 (isn't comic continuity great?), and wouldn't you know that they arrive on what looks like Earth, only to find that their headquarters are occupied by Hyperion, Nighthawk, the Whizzer and Dr Spectrum, among other costumed characters. Sure that they've landed in a nest of vipers, the Avengers attack! Finally it becomes clear this isn't the same group they fought previously, and calmer heads prevail. It turns out that this group, completely unrelated to the previous one, are a team of heroes in this dimension, just like the Avengers are in theirs (and the JLA are in theirs, although that wasn't mentioned, of course). Having finished with the obligatory fight, the heroes can now team up, assuming there's a threat for them to battle together. Which, the end of # 85 reveals, there is: Brain-Child, a mutant kid who's intelligence has grown exponentially as he's moved through childhood! Now, as a teenager, he practically runs this other-Earth through dint of how far advanced his mind is, and his crazy experiments crossed with a deathwish are threatening to blow the Squadron's world to Kingdom Come!

All of which is backstory to Avengers # 86's tale, almost none of which I knew when I read (and re-read, and re-read) it as a child of seven or eight. All I could fathom was that this group of Avengers (who were all strangers to me) were teaming up with another group of (equally unknown) heroes to battle some big-brained menace Hell-bent to destroy his own world! Very strange stuff, but I loved every panel of it! In the end, the two groups prevailed, and barely had time to shake hands before the Avengers were whisked back to their own world by some psuedo-scientific means. I'm still unclear as to why DC didn't make a stink about this, since now the Squadron was even more JLA-like, considering they were now heroes and had new members who were still more dopplegangers of JLA members (a Green Arrow analogue, someone just like the Atom, and so on).

Over the years that followed, I slowly pieced together all of the above. Some of it came from eventually acquiring some of those earlier issues through used book stores, church bazaars or mail order services. Some information came out in subsequent appearances by the Squadron Supreme, as they were far from the one trick ponies that their predecessors, the Squadron Sinister, had been.

In fact, the Squadron have their own monthly title these days, written by Babylon 5 creator, Joe Straczynski. This is a re-imagining of the group, rather than a continuation of what had come before. I think JMS wanted to take the group in a specific direction and didn't want to have his hands tied by what had gone before. So they've started over, and the characters are being fleshed out slowly, playing off and against their DC counterparts even more than was done before (Hyperion's alien nature is his central theme, for example, whereas Superman often seems to forget he's even from another planet!). And there's even a 9-issue series just underway, called Ultimate Power, which pits this new Squadron Supreme against Marvel's Ultimate universe's version of the Avengers (called the Ultimates). So you've got a revised and updated derivation of the JLA battling a juiced-up version of the Avengers... how weird is that?

That's all well and good (the current writers are telling very interesting and compelling tales) but it's too bad that the old group has sort of been abandoned. They had quite a colourful history, only the tip of which I've covered above. Some of the other highlights include:

- a 12-issue miniseries in the 80s in which they decide to end all crime on their world and end up running the planet, until Nighthawk rebels and begins working against them (and still more JLA doubles were introduced, bringing the SS up to date with the current membership of the Justice League at that time.. where were DC's lawyers when all this was going on?)

- a trade paperback collection of that story, printed not long after its writer, Mark Gruenwald, died, and which allegedly had his ashes mixed in with the ink, at his request!

- many more cool Avengers appearances, both as friends and foes

- a classic moment in the JLA/Avengers crossover miniseries, in which Avenger Hawkeye refers to the JLA as a "bunch of Squadron Supreme wannabe's", mistaking the copies for the originals, and vice versa

Despite being a rip-off concept (or homage, if you prefer), I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the Squadron, and probably always will. And it may all go back to that Avengers # 86, and the fact that it was among the first comics I ever read.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

'Twas the Month Before Christmas

With exactly one month to go until Christmas, my thoughts have (briefly) turned to holiday movies. I'm not what you'd call a big fan of Christmas, nor of movies about it, but I've enjoyed a few over the years.

My all-time favourite is probably It's a Wonderful Life, with Jimmy Stewart. When you boil the story down, it's essentially a "What If?" (or alternate history, if you prefer), so what's not to like about that? And of course the line "Everytime a bell rings, an angel gets his wings" has spawned all kinds of PopCultRef variations (I heard one within the last week).

The other one I always end up stopping to watch if I surf across it is A Christmas Story. It's famous for the kid desperately wanting a BB gun for Christmas and hearing "you'll shoot your eye out!" everytime he asks for it. And I love the scene where the boy stands in line for the department store Santa, and we as viewers get to see what it must seem like to a small kid, with weird camera angles simulating a child's POV (I know I could never figure out why kids would cry when seeing Santa, until I saw this for the first time).

I also have a soft spot in my heart for A Christmas Carol, maybe because of its core message about a heartless man's redemption. I was always something of a Dickens fan in my younger years, and while I don't think this is one of his best, it's a good, compact example of tight writing.

It'll only be a matter of a few days before the parade of seasonal flicks start up. I'll be skipping most of them, but the three mentioned above could very well suck me in if I happen to land on any of them.

The New Superman II

In one of the odder, but also most intriguing, moves surrounding Superman movies, a new version of Superman II is about to released on DVD. This is Richard Donner's cut of the film. Donner was the director of the first Christopher Reeve Superman film, and started off on the second one but was replaced by Richard Lester partway through, due to some weird maneuverings by its producer, Alexander Salkind. You can read screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz's accounting of it but suffice to say that Salkind was responsible for bringing Lester in, and Lester brought in some of the sillier aspects of the second film: wacky Kryptonian powers that came out of nowhere, like power beams from fingers and things like that. For a few years, as a teenager, I counted Superman II as my favourite movie of all time, largely because it showed what was, up to that point anyway, the most amazing fight sequence involving superbeings: Superman vs the three Phantom Zone villains in downtown Metropolis. Who can forget that bus being thrown around?

But as I grew older, the flaws and warts of the movie started to weigh on my mind more, and it slowly slipped right off my list of favourite movies. It's certainly been eclipsed in recent years, in terms of cinematic fight scenes, by a couple of Spider-Man movies, and possibly even by the X-Men franchise. Bryan Singer's recent Superman Returns failed to deliver in this regard, which is almost criminal considering the Man of Steel's position atop the superhero hierarchy.

And now there's a re-edited version of Superman II from Richard Donner, featuring scenes-from-the-cutting-room-floor, and a story that's closer to what Donner had wanted. Clearly I'm going to want to see this version, to judge for myself whether it's a drastic improvement or just a publicity stunt. I'm not sure if I want to buy it on spec, though, as it's probably the wrong message to send if it's not very good. The good news is that I don't have any of the Reeve movies already, so at least I wouldn't be ending up with two versions of a film that's lost much of its allure for me. The one review I've read of it by someone who got a preview copy was very positive, but how much of that was simply love for the original material?

It's great to have such interesting decisions, though. There's certainly never been a period like this before, in terms of popularity of comics and comic characters in the mainstream.

Blast from the Past # 6: The Golden Age

The Golden Age

Jesse Martin was unquestionably a product of the latter twentieth century. His mother had given birth to him two months prematurely due to being traumatized by the feared meltdown at Three Mile Island. She died six years later when a bottle of Tylenol that she'd bought at the corner drugstore turned out to be laced with rat poison. Jesse's father was shot dead two years later because he made the unforgiveable mistake of walking into the only 7-11 in his neighbourhood that hadn't been held up yet that year. Jesse had refused to open the apartment door when the police came by, hours later. His late father had already impressed upon him just how evil the world could be, and now he was going to provide another object lesson.

When the authorities attempted to locate relatives for Jesse to be placed with, they discovered that one pair of grandparents had not been among the lucky seventeen survivors of doomed Flight 819 from Denver to Las Vegas; another grandfather had suffered from Alzheimer's disease since shortly before his wife had been killed by a hit-and-run drunk driver; one uncle had served in Viet Nam from 1968 to 1970 and had succumbed to aftereffects of Agent Orange in 1977; and the only other relative, an uncle, was a Thalidamide child with one arm and no legs whatsoever.

Thus it was that Jesse found himself deposited into Archer's Orphanage at age eight. Mister Archer was a former priest who'd been defrocked when it'd come out that he was stealing money from his church's coffers. Fearing public embarrassment for the church, the Arch-Bishop had pulled strings to have the whole affair hushed up. He even managed to quiet the rampant rumours that the ex-Father Michael had been involved with several young boys from his flock.

Jesse, at age fourteen, had never been molested by Mister Archer, but knew at least three boys who had. Knowing that his superior was an obvious bigot, Jesse restricted his evening prayers to a single note of gratitude for his own dark skin. Anything that made him unattractive to the lecherous Mister Archer could not help but be a blessing from On High. Still, his years spent in the orphanage had done nothing to improve the depressing view of the world that had been his parents' sole legacy to him. He'd seen a fourteen month old baby attacked by rats, a twelve year old girl wither away and die from AIDS, and countless other tragedies that had reinforced the idea in Jesse's mind that the world was headed to Hell in a handbasket.

The breaking point, for Jesse, had come in the form of a discarded newspaper that had blown by him as he returned from school one warm Tuesday afternoon. All that Jesse had glimpsed of the paper was its front page headline, but that had been enough. In big red letters, the words had burned themselves into Jesse's teenaged brain: PEACE TALKS END IN ANGRY WORDS. Jesse had heard scattered murmurings at school about the US-Soviet meeting that had been called in an attempt to avert what everyone seemed to consider inevitable: the Third World War. His classmates were inexplicably unconcerned about this event, but Jesse knew better. He'd been witness to too many instances of madness to doubt that Man was teetering on the edge. He didn't always understand what he saw and heard - he still felt a twinge of shame when he remembered that for years he'd thought that a "cancer-causing agent" was a man in dark suit and sunglasses who injected people with a substance that gave them cancer - but he could always grasp the gist of it all.

Without a second thought, Jesse changed his course and headed for the city limits. He had no intention of returning to the orphanage and waiting quietly for the moment when he'd hear the rockets overhead and then see the light as the sky turned orange and everything melted. That particular nightmare had visited him on too many occasions for him to react any differently than he did. He made a beeline for the country.

Before nightfall, Jesse had exited the city of his birth and was several miles into a stretch of uncorrupted woodlands. Knowing that he couldn't walk all night, Jesse reluctantly climbed up into a tree and curled up in the V formed by two of its branches.

Several hours later, Jesse heard voices. At least, it sounded like voices at first. Then, as he became more awake, he realized that is was only one voice. But the words were completely unrecognizable, and seemed to shift pitch every few seconds. Unable to see much of anything in the darkness, Jesse decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and stayed very still.

The voice continued its strange monologue through the remaining hours until daybreak. As the first rays of the sun poked horizontally through the trees, Jesse was finally able to spot the source of the sounds that he'd listened to all night. It was a small metallic object roughly the size and shape of a Walkman, floating about three feet above the ground, with no visible means of support. Jesse judged that it was at least twenty feet away from him, and so he quietly climbed down from his perch. He stood beside the tree that had provided him with sanctuary during the night, and decided that he was far enough away from the object that he could take flight before it could do him any harm. So he took a chance.

"Hello," he said, "can you understand me?"

"Hello? Hello! There's someone there?" The words started out sounding very machine-like, but became more modulated with each word.

"Yes, I'm here. My name is Jesse. Who're you, and how did you get that thing to float like that?"

"My name is," and then the sound became a crackle for a moment, "although I doubt that translated to you much better than your name did to me."

"Translated? But you're speaking English... mostly, anyway!" The excitement of the moment was starting to overcome Jesse's natural suspicion and fear.

"Well, actually no. I'm speaking," crackle crackle, "but the Universal Translater is converting my words into concepts that are recognizable to you in your own language. With the number of new languages that are popular in my time, I didn't think the odds were very high that we'd speak the same language, so I made sure the time line was equipped with a Universal Translater."

"Time line? Are you trying to tell me that you're talking to me from... what, the future?"

"Precisely! You've grasped the situation perfectly! I'm speaking to you, via the time line that you see in front of you, from a time period approximately two hundred years in your future! In fact, I'm the inventor of this device, and this is my initial trial run! And a more successful first attempt I couldn't have hoped for! My, but this is exciting!"

"But, if you're from the future," Jesse said, as his sharp mind started to draw some conclusions, "then that means that the Atomic War isn't going to wipe us out the way everyone says it will!"

"Oh, no, we learned the folly of Atomic Power years ago, and switched over to the clean energy contained in the," crackle crackle crackle crackle, "though I don't suppose that will translate either, as their discovery is likely still years away for you. It was that particular breakthrough that allowed us to enter the Golden Age that we've been enjoying for almost a century now!"

"But this is amazing! You're telling me that we somehow found a way to live peacefully among ourselves!"

"Well, of course!"

"And we didn't destroy the environment with pollution and deadly chemicals?"

"No, certainly not!"

"Then, there is hope after all!"

"Well, naturally! I must say, you seem more than a little bit paranoid about your current conditions. It can't really seem that bad to you, can it?"

"Not anymore! You've just told me that it's all going to work out in the end! The Earth is saved!"

"The Earth? What kind of a sick sense of humour do you have?? ... Just my luck, I make contact with the past on my first try, and I hook up with a real sicko!"

Jesse felt his heart turning cold in his chest. He managed to ask, "What are you talking about?"

"Oh, give it a rest, already! Don't play the fool! Even in your day we knew that the Earth blew itself up in a civil war of some sort. Say..... I wonder if that could've screwed up my calculations at all?"

Off To Find A Short Story For Post # 200

Yes, it's true: we're on the cusp of the two hundredth post on this humble blogsite! It's taken me a mere 56 days to reach this milestone, starting as I did on October 1st. Having added labels recently (albeit not as rigourously as I might've), it's easy to see what topics occupy the majority of my blogbrain:


That seems about right.

When I check out some of my fellow bloggers' sites, and see no posts for a week or more, I'm at a loss to understand why. They're posting comments on my site, so it can't be a complete lack of available time. I suspect it's a case of them thinking they don't have anything to say worth blogging about, but frequent visits to my site over the past 56 days should've proven that's hardly an impediment!

Anyway, off I go now to see what golden mouldy I can blow the dust off and show to the world.

A Few Recent Dreams

A couple nights ago I had a very vivid dream in which Vicki was piloting a small plane that I was on. We were going to somewhere in the States, I think Phoenix, AZ, and somehow she knew how to get us there in under an hour. I don't remember exactly what the trick was she used (and I'm sure it would be complete scientific gibberish outside of the dream) but I do know that at one point there was a huge wall of water above us, although we hadn't gone underwater or anything like that. I just recall this crystal clear impression of the very high wall of water, like an impossibly tall tidal wave, and that I was worried Vicki was going to accidentally hit it with the plane. When we finally got to wherever we were going (Phoenix?), we landed safely but then she wouldn't let me get off the plane because she had to first call some phone number that would put her in touch with a shady guy who could supply the details on how to get into the country without being arrested. I kept asking her why we didn't just fly to an airport and go through Immigration but she looked at me like I was the dumbest thing since Reality TV. Those were the highlights (I don't recall if we ever got off the plane).

Last night one of my dreams was about our swimming pool. In the dream, we actually had two pools: one in the front yard and one in the back yard (in the real world, we only have the one.. in the back, where you'd expect it). Anyway, the gist of the dream seemed to be that I'd forgotten about the one in the back and hadn't run the pump for it for days, which meant the water was going to be in pretty bad shape when we removed the solar blanket (and we know this from experience, having left the pump off for a 4-day period our first week in the house... only to turn the water bright green!) So in the dream I was scrambling around, trying to turn the pump on, but I couldn't remember where it was! I was checking hoses and lines everywhere, but they always took me back to where I started, with no pump in sight. Eventually I found the shed that housed the pump and all of the other pool equipment, but the light in it wasn't working so I had to fumble around in the dark. It turned into one of those deals where you have to keep moving forward but can't see what you're stepping into, on, or over... and of course the shed was impossible big on the inside, like a tesseract (or, for the Dr Who fans, a TARDIS!) I don't know how that dream ended, but I do know that when I awoke from it, I was very concerned about our pool pump (despite the fact that we closed our pool two months ago) and it took me a minute or two to get clear in my head that our pool was closed, and the pump was in our pool room which is well-lit and not anything like the creepy shed in my dream. That was a pretty cool transitory experience, being awake for a few minutes but still almost stuck back in the dream.

Tammy posted a dream experience on my blog recently, but put it as a Comment to a comic post (she's funny that way), so here it is in case anyone missed it:

"So I guess I must have had Heroes on the brain because I dreamed I had superpowers and was being held with other children (I seemed to be around 10 in the dream) who had special abilities. The people holding us weren't sure what my power was, so they would try and test me by getting me to display them (they seemed to be certain i had telepathy). But then they realized that whenever I went into a room all the lights would burn out. So I obviously had some kind of control over electricity. (Sidenote: actually, I think this dream must have been brought on by the book I'm reading, seeing as I had just read a chapter on Electro). Anyways, then we managed to escape and were chased after by the baddies in a big SUV. But due to my somewhat ambiguous powers to manipulate wiring, I was able to steer the car in the other direction with just the power of my mind."

I'll admit that I'm curious as to what book she might be reading that has "a chapter on Electro" but I'm sure she'll tell us at some point. Sounds like a great dream, anyway.

And Vicki said this morning that she can't remember the last time she dreamed. I said, "You mean, you can't remember the last time you remembered a dream... as otherwise, you'd have long since gone crazy from the lack of dreaming!" Which got me the look. But she's clearly in the camp of people who often don't remember their dreams, or even that they had dreams. Although she does remember sometimes, and has told me about some great ones over the years. She's often being chased in her dreams, as a recurring theme. My themes tend to be travelling (and things going wrong), trying to dial rotary phones (and screwing up one of the last digits), trying to find my locker in high school, realizing I haven't been going to a course in University that now has an exam or assignment due, or finding awesome comic stores or collections. All but the last type are usually frustrating.

Friday, November 24, 2006

OK, OK, Not All Commercials Are Bad

One of my earliest blogs was all about why I hate commercials. Nothing's changed on that front, but I'll admit that the odd ad will actually provide some enjoyment. The "Mac vs PC" campaign that's underway now is quite amusing, and very intelligently written, to boot. It's probably the exception that proves the rule, since it stands head and shoulders above its contemporaries in terms of quality, to my eyes at least. The latest one I saw involved the two avatar-like embodiments taking counselling together. The last line, something like, "Perhaps we should consider going to two sessions a week" as delivered by the shrink after "the PC" couldn't quite manage to deliver a straight-up compliment to "the Mac", was perfect.

I've heard of, but haven't seen, a Canadian comedy parody of the series in which it's "Liberal vs PC", which of course works beautifully, as anyone familiar with Canadian politics could attest to.

I find I'll actually rewind to watch one of these if I spot a new one while zipping past the commercials.

The ultimate irony, though, is that the ad campaign would lead one to believe that it's Apple leading the market, since clearly they have the cooler, better and more relevant product compared to the stodgy environment ruled by Microsoft. And of course nothing could be further from the truth, as Macs continue to take around 5% of less of the market share. It's a remarkable achievement that the creators of these commercials can actually make us forget that for 30 seconds at a time. And who knows? Maybe they'll actually create an impression that's so strong that it'll remake reality to fit it, over time.

Memorable Movie Lines

Despite being over 45 years old, the movie Spartacus seems to have recently added the "I'm Spartacus!" line to our collective subconscious. I suspect it was largely the ad campaign that used the clip a few years ago that kicked it off (was it Pepsi? I don't remember). Or maybe it was always lying just below the surface and I've just started noticing it more, lately. It's certainly out there now, though.

I've mentioned the "I'll have whatever she's having" line from When Harry Met Sally before. It's one of those moments that puts a cherry on top of an already memorable and unique treat (Meg Ryan faking an orgasm in a restaurant, in this case) and makes the whole experience just that little bit more special.

Another line that cracks me up each and every time I see it, comes from one of the Alien movies, Alien: Resurrection. In it, Sigourney Weaver is walking through a room and another character says, "Ripley? I thought you were dead!" and she responds, "Yeah, I get that a lot." What a great metacomment about so many things, all in just a few words: the strength and power of Weaver herself in a genre dominated by males, the survivability of Ripley through four situations that each should've been fatal, the fact that the character was actually killed off in the previous film when Weaver decided she was done with the franchise, and even the fact that a fourth film had come out at all.

I've also been known to use Margot Kidder's famous line from the first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve, when he's caught her after she plummets out of a helicopter and told her, "Don't worry. I've got you." She fires back with, "You've got me? Who's got you?" Pure genius on one of the screenwriters' part!

Apocalypse Now provides more memorable lines than any three or four typical films I can think of. Besides "Charlie don't surf!" and "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" by Robert Duvall, you've got "The horror... the horror", "Horror has a face.. and you must make a friend of horror", and "What do you call it when the assassins accuse the assassin?" from Brando, along with Martin Sheen's mood-setting voiceover at the beginning that includes "I hardly said a word to my wife, until I said 'Yes' to a divorce" and "When I was here, I wanted to be there; when I was there, all I could think of was getting back into the jungle."

Possibly the most famous movie line in history belongs to Orson Welles. All decked out in makeup to appear like a man in his 70s or 80s, there he is dropping the snowglobe while delivering the single word, "Rosebud" before cashing in his chips. Considering Citizen Kane's place in the pantheon of films, and keeping in mind the entire movie is ostensibly about the search for the meaning behind that one utterance, it's hard to imagine anything topping it.

By the same token, it's pure folly to imagine any movie providing more topnotch ear catchers per minute than Casablanca. Off the top of my head (with maybe just a bit of online help to check the wording), I can think of "Here's looking at you, kid", "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship", "We'll always have Paris", "Play it, Sam" (often misquoted as "Play it again, Sam"), "Round up the usual suspects", "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine", "the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world" and "I'm shocked - shocked! - to find that gambling is going on in here!". I spot new ones pretty much every time I watch it, and I'm probably up to my eighth or ninth viewing by now.

Anyone else have movie lines to contribute?

Christmas Shopping (Pretty Much) Done!

I did my 2-hour tour of duty in the warzone this morning, and managed to get all of the stuff I was looking for. The only thing I have left to buy is something I can get downtown during a lunch hour. And of course there's still the Christmas Shopping for a Poor Family activity at work that'll take us back in-country one more time in the next week or so.

But it's good to have the bulk of the shopping done with a month to spare!

Decided To Pass On The PS/3 (For Now)

When I couldn't find any warranty info on the Sony website that made me think I'd still be able to use it if I bought the fellow employee's new PS/3 he'd got at Costco, I decided I'd rather be safe than sorry. Rolling the dice on nearly $1000 is a just a little beyond my comfort zone, although it would've been cool to have had the new toy before Christmas.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

An Update on Marvel's Civil War

I posted awhile ago about Marvel's current mini-series event, Civil War. The fifth issue came out last week, and while it didn't have quite the same impact as some of the earlier issues (such as the one where Spider-Man unmasked on national TV!), it still delivered some fascinating moments.

This was the issue in which all of Spider-Man's doubts about whether or not he was on the right side reached the boiling point. He'd been Tony "Iron Man" Stark's right-hand man in defending the need for the Superhuman Registration Act, believing that it was becoming too dangerous to allow superpowered people, good or bad, to just wander around with impunity and anonymity when each one had the potential to cause unimaginable damage. But some of the developments in the War had obviously preyed on Peter's mind more than they had on Tony's, including the decision to imprison (indefinitely) any non-registered metahuman in a gulag located in the Negative Zone. From a purely logical point-of-view, this makes a lot of sense: no normal prison, located anywhere on our planet, could hope to hold someone with the ability to teleport, or move at superspeed, or smash tanks to rubble. But the reality of seeing friends and foes of his locked up in an otherworldly fortress, without legal representation or any hope of release unless they registered, weighed heavily on the Web-slinger's sense of morality and justice. And then watching helplessly as Black Goliath, one of the Anti-Registration heroes, was cut down in battle by "the good guys" pushed Spidey over the edge. In Civil War # 5 he bails, sends Aunt May and MJ to a safe location, and goes on the run himself. Stark and the government dispatch several agents after him, using registered former-baddies like Jack O' Lantern and the Jester to hunt down their wayward ally. In the course of their conflict, the villains are laughing it up about how the tables have turned and now they're the ones bringing him to justice, when suddenly they're taken out by gunfire. Who's come to Spidey's rescue in his darkest hour? None other than the Punisher! Quel ironique!

The parallels between this storyline and the current 'War on Terror' playing out in the real world have been unmistakeable from the start. But author Mark Millar amped it up another level in this issue, which ends with Spidey interrupting a local news broadcast to announce to the world that he's switched sides. He makes a brief but passionate speech to the stunned viewing audience about the loss of civil liberties in the pursuit of safety, and how the protection of those liberties was always supposed to be worth dying for, so why were people so quick to give them up just because things had gotten dangerous? Of course, this is exactly what's happening in the U.S. right now, with the Patriot Act, and Guantanamo, and the Homeland Security Advisory System keeping everyone bouncing between Elevated (yellow) and High (orange), saving Severe (red) for those times right before an election or major speech. Millar's writing what he's seeing, just putting it into a fictional backdrop for our entertainment. And I'll admit that Parker's speech moved me, even though he was preaching to the choir in this particular case.

With only a couple issues to go, I'm not sure how they're going to leave things at the end of this series. The worst answer would be: right back where they started, since that would not only stretch credibility but also make one wonder what the point was. The most interesting result, for me at least, would be if we're left with a new, divided landscape within the Marvel Universe, although common sense would demand that eventually some new status quo would have to be established. I'm happy to just go along for the ride right now, though.

Let the Weekend Begin (For Some of Us At Least)

Hectic day at the office today, which is typical for the last one before a vacation day. There're always last minute things that come up once someone realizes I'm not going to be around until Monday of next week, so I had those to deal with in the afternoon.

But it was all worth it once I was able to put on my helmet, climb onto my bicycle and head out for a 3-day'er. At the tail end of an afternoon in which the temperature in our part of the office managed to climb to 25 or 26 degrees, a nice cool ride into a November sunset was terrific.

Vicki's working tomorrow so I have the house to myself, which is nice occasionally. I'm planning to go out in the morning for a couple hours and get that nasty Christmas shopping out of the way, in line with my plan to have it done by the 25th of this month. I'm hoping the mall won't be too busy on a Friday morning, a month before Christmas, but I guess I'll find out!

Last I heard Tammy was coming over for at least part of the weekend, which could mean more Babylon5 watching and Halo2 playing for us! I've got no work hanging over my head right now so there's lots of room in my schedule for fun stuff like that over the next three days.

Which reminds me: Night # 3 of sleeping after not reading work e-mail in the evening went very well. I only woke up once, and that was when Vicki got up for some reason, and then I fell back asleep. So I'm 2-for-3 in terms of good night's sleep and that's a pretty amazing stat, given my long, long history of poor sleeping.

You Want Labels? You Got 'Em!

I just spent a little time adding labels to most of the more recent blog entries. I didn't go all the way back (I'm almost up to 200 of them for God's sake!) but I'll try to be consistent in this regard going forward. I've identified about a dozen different labels so far; feel free to suggest others and I'll take them under consideration. I'm hoping this is helpful to someone.

(And of course on this very post, when I first published it I forgot to include the Blogging label. Sigh.)

What To Do, What To Do?

I found out today that a co-worker managed to buy a PS/3 through his Costco membership but doesn't really want it as he doesn't have an HD TV ("thrill of the hunt" was how he described his reason for buying what he didn't actually want). He hasn't even opened it yet, in fact. He's offering to sell it to me at cost (approx $950, as it's the 60 Gig version with the extra controller and 2 games). I'd jump at it (since I have the money all ready to go) but Vicki brought up the excellent point that I may not be able to use the warranty if anything's wrong with it. First, someone else bought it, not me (although he's offering to give me the receipt along with it). Second, he may've bought it long enough ago that I wouldn't be able to register the warranty "within 10 days of purchase" which I think is Sony's rule. And third, if it required going back to Costco to use the warranty, we're not members so they might just tell us to pound salt.

So do I just go back to patiently waiting for one to become available at a store (sometime in the next few months) or take this opportunity that's just presented itself to me?