Monday, June 30, 2008

Back From Chicago

I had intended to post a little note to the effect of "I'll be gone for a few days" before actually leaving for the Chicago comic convention on Friday, but it just never happened.

The drive there and back went OK, although I'm really, really sick of road construction! I think about half of the trip was through construction zones, with the usual "lane closing ahead, so please be sure that you drive in it right up until it ends, as otherwise we'd never be able to get all these cars in the other lanes to slow right down to a crawl to let you in" shenanigans. It's stuff like that that reminds me there's nothing divine about humanity; we're just a bunch of evolved apes, looking out for ourselves at the expense of everyone else around us.

The convention itself was fine, although I couldn't get into it this year. Vicki probably enjoyed the show more than I did, which is strange when you consider that it's a comic book convention! I brought about 1/3 of my spending money back home with me - an unprecedented turn of events! - but did pick up a nice piece of Swamp Thing artwork (picture to be posted here sometime this week) and a mid-grade copy of The Incredible Hulk # 2, leaving me only the kick-off of that 1962/63 six-issue series to get for completion!

As for the Silver Age Trivia Panel, we once again - for the second year in a row - were pitted against members of the audience. This year's challengers were more competition than their predecessors, and by the time we got to the Lightning Round at the end, they were only about 130 points back (early on, they had actually lead by 10 points!) We kicked ass in the Lightning Round, though, as I think I personally accounted for about 4 of the 10 answers, and we pulled away. It was more fun than last year for me, however, as I was better prepared for the format. I came up with enough answers to satisfy my own feeble sense of pride on the subject matter, including:
  • In what issue did the Fantastic Four first wear costumes? (3)
  • In what issue did the Justice League of America have their origin revealed? (9)
  • Who were the two boyfriends of Wonder Girl? (Mer-boy and Bird-boy)
  • Which superhero debuted in a fight against the Living Eraser? (Giant-Man)
  • What is the significance of the issue number 123? (Flash, intro of Earth-2)
  • What is the significance of the issue number 327? (Detective Comics, intro of "New Look Batman")
  • and a few more that I can't remember
I also won one of a bunch of variant cover editions of Hulk # 2 (2008 version, that is, not to be confused with the Silver Age one mentioned above) by attending the Marvel "Prize or No-Prize" panel and staying in competition long enough for a few people to drop out.

[Update: I almost forgot to mention that I also visited comic book artist and all-around nice guy Gene Ha, at his table, and he was kind enough to sign my hardcover copy of The Real-Life Adventures of AgileMan (Lessons Learned in Going Agile), on the page where I credit him for providing the inspirational sketch of me... how cool is that?!]

With the rest of the week off, hopefully I'll get some good blogging in to start July off on the right foot. Or I'll sit by the pool the whole time...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Now That's More Like It!

Everything that was good about Final Crisis # 1 - the artwork, the complexity of the story - showed up again in the 2nd issue, along with a ton of improvements that made it a much, much more entertaining read than its predecessor!

I found the first issue quite slow, but Morrison makes up for that here as he delivers punishing blows to Batman, Superman, Green Lantern (two of them), and then closes out with one of the great full-page shots of the year: Barry "Flash" Allen is racing out of a vortex, straight toward the other two Flashes (and the reader), with Death - in the form of the Black Racer - on his heels, and Barry's screaming, "Run!" Goosebumps, baby!

We get a much better idea of what the story's about - which means, we can see about 10% of the picture now instead of the 1% that we got from the first issue - but more importantly, stuff happens that makes you go, "Ooh, that's gotta hurt!" I could've done without the Japanese superhero scenes that open the book, but once we got past that, it was pure gold for me.

I'm definitely going to have to read this sucker a few more times, but my first impression was, "Wow!" All of a sudden I'm kind of bummed that this is only a 7-part mini-series, as I think there's going to be too much going on to cram into just five more issues.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Survived Another Pool Party!

Thanks to the efforts and support of my lovely wife, today's BBQ and pool party with 14 co-workers managed to go off fairly well... and didn't end up killing me!

Most people didn't want to go in the pool, but the four or five who did made up for the rest by being in there a long time and keeping the "hit your buddy with a ball or toy" strategy going at a high level!

So now it's one more full day of work, followed by a morning (Friday), and then I'm off for a week! Yay!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Big BBQ And Pool Party Day Tomorrow

It's been almost impossible to find a day this month that had the kind of forecast that would fill you with confidence about having people over for an afternoon BBQ and pool party, and yet that's what Vicki and I are trying to pull off tomorrow.

With 14 people who report to me at work coming over around noon tomorrow, I'll be well wiped by the time the day is done. (Just shopping for groceries for that big of a group tonight drained me pretty good!) So who knows if I'll have anything to blog about tomorrow, or the energy to even try...

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin: R.I.P.

I found out about the recent death of comedian George Carlin in one of the most unlikely of ways: I was watching the sports show, Pardon The Interruption (PTI, to its fans), after dinner tonight, and they mentioned it during the wrap-up. A sports show, and yet they took the time to mention the passing of one of the masters of comedy.

Carlin, of course, had some ties to sports. The one I always think of, because I enjoyed it so much, was his hilarious contrasting of baseball and football. It's impossible to do it justice without George's unique delivery style, but nevertheless you can read the whole thing here. I have to quote at least part of it, though, just to get it out of my system, and to remember George the way I think he would've wanted to be remembered:

"Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park.The baseball park!
Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.

Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.
Football begins in the fall, when everything's dying.

In football you wear a helmet.
In baseball you wear a cap.

Football is concerned with downs - what down is it?
Baseball is concerned with ups - who's up?

In football you receive a penalty.
In baseball you make an error.

In football the specialist comes in to kick.
In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.

Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness.
Baseball has the sacrifice.

Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog...
In baseball, if it rains, we don't go out to play.

At least Mr Carlin won't have to put up with any shit ever again...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Comic Cutting

Over the couple of months, I've been getting more and more ruthless about trimming the comics that I buy each week. I'm using a technique that seems to be working: since I stack my to-be-read comics in order of best-to-worst (in terms of how much interest I have in reading each), anytime I notice a title consistently falling toward the bottom of the pile I figure it's time to cut it loose. It used to be that mini-series were almost always exempt from such a policy, because I generally finished any one that I started. Not anymore! I got the first 2 issues of a 4-part Iron Man mini-series, wasn't really grabbed by the 2nd one, and said, "See ya!" to the series!

I expect that this approach will soon have me down to about 15 - 25 titles per month, as compared to the 40 - 60 that I've been routinely buying for decades now. And then we'll see where it goes from there.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Strange Thoughts That Occur To You

While we were out for dinner at another couples' house last night - where the husband of Vicki's work buddy, it turned out, was quite the comic book / video game / movie / environmentalist enthusiast, such that he and I spent the last couple of hours deep in geeky discussion while the wives talked about pretty dresses and bonnets (or whatever subjects women actually talk about when left to their own devices) - there came a point where the four of us were talking about retirement. I put forth my concern that maybe that period won't be as grand as I like to imagine that it'll be, using the argument that removing the one thing that I'm always struggling against - all of the crap at work - might mean that an important motivation might also be gone, leaving one rather directionless.

All of which is a long lead-in to the point of my story, which came right after Vicki said, as she has many times before, "Oh, when you're retired, you won't be sitting around doing nothing. You'll keep busy writing."

What was different about hearing it this time, though, was that I was able to think, "Well, maybe that's true. After all, I have written a book already, and I'm not even retired yet!"

That was a good feeling, however self-delusional it might turn out to be.

Shake-Ups At DC Comics?

Are the powers that be at DC finally coming to their senses?

As reported here and elsewhere, the only thing confirmed so far is that Senior VP John Dee has quit. What's more encouraging, though, is that lots of rumours are swirling that Executive Editor Dan DiDio may be ousted before long. I'll be at WizardWorld in Chicago next weekend so it'd be just swell if DC pulled the trigger on that particular train wreck between now and then, so that I could thank them personally at the show!

When things are so bad that I'm contemplating giving up the weekly comic buying habit for the first time in several decades, you know it's time for a change. Are you listening, DC Comics?

This Game Only Took Me Two Tries To Win

And I didn't even know how it worked the first time..

Still, it's a fun time-killer for a few minutes.

Stuff Like This Fills Me With Hope

Where the Watchmen movie is concerned, at least!

If the "little people" working on the film believe that it was a labour of love and very faithful to the source material, then maybe the rest of us will enjoy it, too? (Except for this guy, of course!)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Busy Week, But Not Entirely Fruitless

Monday night = had to work late (until 9:00 p.m.)

Wednesday night = stayed downtown for a late dinner with Vicki, university professor and others

Thursday night = had Financial Planner over for 3-hour Annual Review

Friday night = heading out shortly for dinner at friends of Vicki's

That's a nightmarishly busy week for this introvert shut-in-wannabe!

On the brighter side, though, I just saw that a 5th copy of The Real-Life Adventures of AgileMan (Lessons Learned in Going Agile) has sold online, bringing the overall sales total up to 32! (Hinckley will approve of that figure! That's right: I've sold 2 to the power of 5 copies of my book!!)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More University Lecturing In My Future?

As happened earlier in the year, I've once again been asked by a university professor to do some Agile lecturing for the poor, unsuspecting students at our local U. In this case, it's for a Project Management course within the Computer Science program. It's still too early to say much more about what form it might take, as it could come to naught, be a single lecture (like last time), or something more. I also don't know if this will be something I do in conjunction with work, or on my own.

Better yet, wife Vicki was asked if she'd be willing to do something for the same course, as well, after she impressed the professor with her breadth and depth within the Project Management field. So it could end up being a family affair!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Celtics Win!

I'm not an NBA fan these days by any stretch of the imagination, but once upon a time I was... and way back then, I was a huge Boston fan (at a time when names like "Bird", "McHale" and "Parrish" were synonymous with "Celtics").

It's nice to see them win again, especially at the cost of the Lakers! Tonight's game was one of the most lop-sided I've ever seen, with Boston flirting with a 40-point lead late in the fourth quarter, and ultimately achieving it!

An impressive stat mentioned during the game was that this is the 62nd NBA Championship series, and the two teams playing hold half of the titles between them!

The Intersection Of Comics And Gaming

Vicki and I really enjoyed the original Marvel Ultimate Alliance video game, as it could be played in Co-op mode, we could pick from a healthy variety of Marvel heroes, and could change who we were each playing as, at whim.

Now comes news that the sequel to the game will have a Civil War angle. On the one hand, that's good news: it means a sequel is coming! On the other hand, do I really want Civil War, which was bothersome enough as a comic event, coming to my favourite gaming console? Undecided at this point...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Long Day At Work

Just getting home now (barely ahead of the darkness, on my bike) and am utterly beat.

This should serve to remind me why we should never, ever agree to work on a "last-minute feature"... those never work out!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The End Of Twenty-Two Years Of Employment

No, no, I'm not planning on quitting tomorrow (nor have I been weekend-fired!)

Instead, tomorrow is the 22nd anniversary of the day I started full-time employment, way back on June 16, 1986. That makes today the completion of my 22nd year, and tomorrow the start of my 23rd year. And we're talking about continuous employment here, for those among you who might have taken some "down time" between jobs in your career (by choice or otherwise). Not Kimota94, though, who didn't skip a beat between the bank gig and the current one (there may've even been an overlap in there, but who can remember such details now?)

That's a lot of days spent thinking about quitting without actually doing anything about it. Almost seems a shame, in a way...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

14 Years Later And Every Bit As Sweet

Celebrating Blog Post # 1600 by indulging in a little bit of nostalgia...

Some of the anniversaries of June 14th, 1994, have been rather bittersweet events. After all, during that 1998 - 2004 period when the Rangers could seem to do nothing right, the amazing accomplishment of the 1994 version - President's Trophy and Stanley Cup winners - seemed a long, long way away. Recently, though, as the Broadway Blueshirts have fared better and provided some playoff thrills of a more current variety, it's a lot easier for me to celebrate once again what I referred to last year as The Day The Earth Stood Still.

Vicki celebrated the anniversary along with me today, as she does every year, and presented me with a couple of new (biking-themed) T-shirts, some cologne, a candy treat, and a Justice League of America Archive collection!

We jokingly refer to this date as "Accountant's Day" in this household, but it's really all about the magical date of June 14th, 1994. I wouldn't even be Kimota94 without it!

Things I Never Expected To See

Watching a commercial for the Incredible Hulk movie today, I actually saw a critic's quote that said, essentially, "Incredible Hulk is every bit as good as Iron Man!" Who would ever have believed, even just a few years ago, that any Marvel movie would be compared to a feature film about ol' Shellhead, with the comparison being used as a major selling point to the general public?!

Iron Man has a lot of cache right now, and if Greenskin's "requel" is anywhere nearly as good, it's going to be a big year for comic movies! After all, we still have Christopher Nolan's Batman sequel, The Dark Knight, to look forward to next month!

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Puzzle Of A Puzzle

I've been doing AgileBoy's online Zengaku puzzle every day (as has Vicki), and I've also been trying to figure out how you'd algorithmically determine which ones are harder and which are easier (because as you do them, it becomes apparent how much variance there is). Since I tend to use the 2-cell blocks to get started, I figured the number of them might be a factor. Vicki mentioned tonight that the connector circles are another factor, as the more of the 2-cell blocks that have connectors (meaning that you know the 2 numbers making up that total are consecutive), the easier it is to get started. But I'm definitely not seeing the whole solution.

Anyone else have any ideas?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Biking Update

Not much of note is happening right now, but I have managed to build up a good streak of days in which I've biked to work. I've pulled it off for each of the last nine working days (including today), which doesn't sound like much except when you consider that more than half of those days have included rain in the forecast!

We seem to be in one of those ruts where almost every day has a "60 to 100% chance" of rain. Those days used to kill my biking efforts, especially when thunderstorms were forecast for the afternoon (as has also been the case lately). Who wants to face the prospect of biking home in a thunderstorm? (No sane person!) So I used to not ride my bike on days like that, often to bitter disappointment when the storm would not materialize, arrive around dinner time, or come early in the afternoon. Now I just ride in in the morning and hope for the best. That sort of thinking is why I'm currently in my 30th consecutive month of biking (at least once) to work.

Tomorrow's Friday the 13th, and thunderstorms are being predicted, so I may really be pushing it if I ride my bike. But if there's a window of opportunity in the morning, with no significant rain coming down at that time, off I'll go! And if this turns out to be my last ever blog post (headline: Local Man Struck By Lightning While Riding Bicycle) then so be it!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

This Month's Watchmen Treat

I got so flamboozled by the fact that both of my favourite comic book news websites got redesigned over the past week that I completely missed last week's Watchmen movie video journal entry. As I've mentioned many times before, director Zack Snyder is releasing an entry on the 6th of each month as we count down to next March's premiere of what could be the comic film.

You can see the video for yourself at the official movie website if you're interested. I didn't have much luck getting the video to stream smoothly, but I suspect that has more to do with my laptop than anything else.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Final Crisis # 1 Explained

Want to know why so much of Final Crisis # 1 didn't make any sense in relation to what had preceded it in Death of the New Gods, Countdown and elsewhere?

Grant Morrison, writer and architect of Final Crisis, has all of your answers right here. It's a fascinating read for anyone who cares about the current state of the DC Universe, especially as an indictment for how messed up Dan DiDio's editorial approach has been.

Basically: Morrison starts working on Final Crisis in 2006, intended as the big "event" series for 2008, and provides scripts and script outlines for where it's going to DC editorial. DC, under DiDio, then proceeds to create introductory (i.e. filler) material for the big series - in the form of Death of the New Gods, Countdown, Countdown spin-offs like Countdown: Arena - and in the process manages to undercut (in terms of overusing the New Gods) and outright contradict what Final Crisis is going to cover. So then the first issue of Final Crisis comes out last month, and Morrison catches flak for not adhering to current continuity, despite the fact that he actually wrote his first!

What a comedy of errors, as only the current DC editorial staff could mastermind! If you want to understand why things are as screwed up as they are, just read that one interview.

You Know You Check The Radar Too Much When...

OK, so here's the scene:

I'm at work, on a day when I biked, despite heavy rain in the early hours and a very overcast sky as I headed into work. A close-by teammate, who's taken up biking to work recently, had opted not to bike to work today. Late in the afternoon, I felt the need to jab said teammate just a little, so I said, "Hey, look, the sun's shining!" to him. Another teammate situated close to us both, who thinks that I check the radar site too often, responded, without looking my way, with, "Did you realize the sun was shining by looking out the window, or are you checking the radar site for that?"

and I realized that I was checking the radar site!!!

Yes, I'd looked out the window initially, but had then habitually brought up the radar website just as I let fly my little verbal jab... This goes right along with Tammy laughing at me recently because I checked the radar before the three of us walked to the mall!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Nothing To Say Tonight, Except...

... that I just wrote a review of the movie, Away From Her, and posted it over at The Studio. That's about all I've had time for tonight, other than watching the film in the first place!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Time To Brush Up On Comic Trivia

With the annual Silver Age Comic Trivia contest set to unfold in Chicago near the end of this month (early this year), now's as good a time as any for me to prime my brain by posting some comic book trivia for Blog Points. Each correct answer posted by 9:00 p.m. ET on Monday, June 9/08 will receive a Blog Point. I'll add the official answers as a Comment to this post tomorrow night, after 9:00.

1) Who is the Iron Man villain who wears a different type of ring on each of his 10 fingers?

2) Which superhero was also a professor at Ivy Town University?

3) In the upcoming Incredible Hulk movie, a character named Leonard Samson will apparently appear. In the comics, by what more famous name is Leonard known?

4) In which comic series did Doctor Stephen Strange first appear?

5) Who did the Justice League of America fight in their debut (in Brave and the Bold # 28)?

6) Which two DC series featured the first inter-title crossover (in which the story began in one title and ended in another)?

7) Name any four members of the Inhumans.

8) Which Batman comic regular was revealed to actually be the villain, The Outsider?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Superheroes: Not Just For Comics (And Movies) Anymore?

A friend at work sent along links to this , this and this. I have to admit the jetpack one is somewhat tempting, especially for anyone who's ever sat very long in rush hour traffic!

How long before we see real-life superheroes? Well, probably forever, if you mean the kind that we've traditionally read about in comics: altruistic, self-sacrificing and noble. But people using technology to enhance their abilities for their own benefit or gratification? Probably just around the corner...

The End Of An Astonishing Run That Changed Our Lives

After 24 regular issues and a Giant Sized finale (cover shown here), Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's extremely entertaining run on Astonishing X-Men is now complete. How significant of an impact did this series have on me, personally? Well, there's a bit of a story there.

To begin with, I only bought the first issue, back in 2004, because the great John Cassaday - of Planetary fame - was providing the artwork, and I'd buy almost anything he drew. I'd largely avoided anything X-Men-related up to that point, going back to the Speculative 90s when the core Uncanny X-Men title exploded into a franchise (and became virtually unreadable in the process). I'd dropped back into the X-Men Universe briefly for Grant Morrison's Uncanny run, which I enjoyed, but that was about the extent of my interest over the past 15 years or so. Because of that, I didn't really care about the characters or the writer of Astonishing X-men, but just wanted to see the gorgeous artwork.

So there I was, reading issue # 1, and finding myself pleasantly surprised by how streamlined the continuity was - you didn't need to know much of anything about recent events to follow what was going on - and how clever the writing was. This Whedon guy really "got" the characters who I'd once cared about, those being Cyclops, the Beast, Kitty Pryde and Wolverine. And his plotting actually surprised me once or twice, in a good way. Bad surprises occur when something happens that's completely out-of-character or improbable... good surprises are the ones where you didn't see it coming but then you kick yourself immediately because you really should have! And that was the experience I kept having with Astonishing X-Men, alongside the beautiful artwork of John Cassaday.

So how is that significant? Well, the comic series made me want to read more by this Whedon fellow, and of course I quickly realized/remembered that he wasn't normally a comic book writer. On the contrary, he usually wrote (and masterminded) TV shows! Tammy was already a die-hard Buffy fan by this point, but I'd avoided that franchise and had even missed out on the short-run Firefly series. However, Serenity was about to come out, and it was getting a lot of positive buzz, and so I took a leap of faith and borrowed PeterJ's DVD collection of Firefly. To say that Vicki and I were quickly hooked would be an understatement! And when we went to the theatre to see Serenity, a few months later, we were blown away!

Eventually, we followed this path on to seven seasons of Buffy on DVD (thanks to Tammy) as well as the current Season Eight comic series, and have at least tried to follow suit with Angel (though we're kind of stalled in Season Three at the moment). Not only that, but I'm looking forward to Dollhouse, Whedon's latest TV project, which is set to debut in January. That's a lot Whedonverse entertainment that's come our way, in large part because of me picking up Astonishing X-Men for the John Cassaday pictures! How's that for a life-changing (in a good way) comic book experience?

As for Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men itself, it was an appropriately large and grand conclusion to a terrific series. Whedon brought Peter Rasputin back from the dead (he died after I'd quit X-Men comics), re-united him with his one true love, Kitty Pryde, and then stuck the dagger right back into our hearts by consigning Kitty to a quasi-death of her own. Whedon also introduced a very improbable love interest for the blue, furry Beast in the form of a green-haired femme fatale, despite the fact that Henry "Beast" McCoy had recently indicated that he thought he might be gay (kind of the opposite of what Joss pulled with Buffy in the March issue of her Season Eight comic series... in Whedon's mind, perhaps the closet comes with a revolving door?)

I think these 25 issues will be considered one of the great X-Men runs of all-time, for several reasons:
  • both the writer and artist were at the top of their game, every issue
  • the same creative team did the entire run (no fill-ins)
  • the series managed to operate outside the happenings of the rest of the Marvel Universe (Civil War, Secret Invasion, etc) and therefore there's a certain timeless feel to it that should still hold up decades from now
  • when other characters were brought in, such as Spidey, the Avengers, the FF and others in the finale, they were written and drawn so well that you can't help but wish these guys were doing their series!
  • everything you need to know is right there on the page, with no tie-ins or spin-offs to worry about
I don't normally buy hardcovers of series that I already own, but just as I plan to do with Planetary - if DC ever publishes an Absolute version of it - and have already done with Watchmen, Sandman, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Kingdom Come and a few select others, I think I'd fork over the cash to own this run in that format. It was just that good!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Turn Those Consoles Off When Not Playing

I thought this article about gaming console power usage was interesting, particularly because I always worry that my PS/3 and XBox 360 are still using a lot of electricity while powered off. However, at the equivalent of about $0.04/week and $0.06/week, respectively, I now feel pretty good about the fact that my Sony and Microsoft Fun Machines are always turned off when I'm not using them.

Of course, for every person like me, there are probably ten others who just couldn't care less how much they waste the planet's resources. So it likely won't even matter in the long run...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Summer Finally Arrives

Today was relatively hot, and very muggy... officially launching us into the South Western Ontario phenomenon known as "summer." The pool was only about 76 F (25 C) and yet Vicki, after being outside all afternoon taking part in Volunteer Day, came home and went for a swim (her first of the season)! That's when you know it's summer...

As for me, I've been finding that I can't do my customary 5 laps when I jump in the pool after biking home from work because I've hurt something in my left shoulder (again). I had this same thing 4 or 5 years ago when I had my target of swimming 1000 laps over the course of the summer, and now it's back. I'm guessing that age has something to do with it, as I never had these kinds of problems in my 20s or 30s...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Wings Finally Win It!

It came 48 hours later than I thought, but tonight the Pens couldn't complete the comeback (though they came really, really close!)

Congrats to the Red Wings, although the 4th Cup in 12 years probably doesn't even quicken most Detroit fans' pulses. It's like when the Habs used to win all the time and their "fans" just expected it. This is the first time in 4 Finals that the Cup winner's not a first-timer, I believe.

Two Months Of Authordom Later...

I happened to realize last night that today marks two months since Book Launch Day. To say that the time has flown would be a bit of an exaggeration, because it doesn't feel like it just happened by any means. But on the other hand, I haven't entirely adjusted to the notion of "having written a book" just yet, so I guess it doesn't feel like all that long ago.

Today I casually mentioned to a former co-worker of mine, with whom I was chatting over Instant Messenger, that I'd published a book since we last spoke. If nothing else, I guess I'm discovering that it makes a nice conversation piece... ;-)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Exciting Comics Coming Out Tomorrow (Jun 3rd Edition)

As I continue to pare my monthly buying list down, it means that whatever I do buy generally qualifies as pretty exciting. For example, this week's purchases-to-be:

Avengers/Invaders # 2 - Have I ever mentioned how much I love super-team mix-em-ups? Going all the way back to the Avengers/Defenders War. # 10 on my Favourite (non-Alan Moore) Comic Stories of All-Time? Well, I do! And this one's no exception!

Buffy the Vampire Humper # 15 - The current storyline has Dracula (from one very entertaining episode of the TV show) helping the legion of slayers take on a group of old-school vamps with powers more like Drac's

Justice Society of America # 16 - JSA continues to be the best team book out there, month in and month out; right now we're in the middle of a big saga involving Gog, Magog, the Kingdom Come Superman and more heroes than can fit around a meeting table (as we saw in a recent issue)

Manhunter # 31 - Having fought off cancellation twice now, this title returns from its most recent hiatus with a small but vocal fan base who hope that it can continue to defy the odds (including me)

Omega the Unknown # 9 - The second last issue of this incredibly-entertaining re-imagining by Jonathan Lethem is nigh; I can honestly say that I've loved almost every page of this series so far, and that's more than I can say about the original Omega series by Steve Gerber!

Secret Invasion # 3 - Will anything actually be revealed within these pages? Or will characters just stand around in heroic poses and exchange barbs with each other, not knowing if they're arguing with teammates or evil Skrulls posing as same? Who knows! This title's only staying on the buy-list because it's a mini-series and won't overstay its welcome...

Trinity # 1 - Third time's the charm? Will this latest attempt by DC at mastering the weekly comic format be an unqualified success (even beyond what 52 accomplished) or another miserable failure (like Countdown tended to be)? I'll have a better idea by this time tomorrow!

Ultimate Origins # 1 - I guess, in a way, this 5-issue mini-series lives up to its name: after all, it's the origin of the entire Ultimate universe! That's got to qualify as an ultimate origin, if anything would! I'm mostly buying it for the Jackson Guice artwork, but hopefully there'll be a story worth reading in there somewhere, too.

Aren't Sequels All The Rage?

Today, on the bike ride home, I gave some serious thought to the idea of writing a sequel to The Real-Life Adventures of AgileMan (Lessons Learned in Going Agile) for the very first time.

Oh, sure, I've joked about it in the past - even in the book itself - but I'd never really allowed myself to truly consider the possibility in any depth. One reason for that is simple: I now know how much work is involved, not just in writing the material but also in getting it into printed form! Another argument against writing a sequel is that I'd never intended for it to be a series, so why turn it into one?

But here's where my mind wandered, as I pedaled the nearly-10 kilometres home this afternoon:
  • wouldn't a second book logically chronicle our second year of Agile, which will end in about two months' time, and thus help shape the content of any such mythical work?
  • as someone had suggested to me awhile back, I could have a couple different editions: one that's just the sequel, and one that includes the contents of both AgileMan 'years' in one big package called The Adventures of AgileMan (Volumes I & II) (with different prices)
  • I could recap the first book, at the start of the second, by providing a brief paragraph for each of the 32 Issues in the original
  • since significant changes are happening within our Agile world at work right now, wouldn't that make for compelling material to anyone who enjoyed the first book?
  • mightn't it be fun deciding what cover to use for the sequel to convey the right balance of "related to the first book" and "something new"?
  • ditto for the Vol I & II offering?
  • AgileBoy had wanted to provide some artwork to the first book once he saw it (too late!), so maybe this would be his chance?
  • would I limit the comp copies this time to just the editors/reviewers, and require that everyone else buy their own (meaning that I might actually make money off this sucker)?
Those are just some of the thoughts rattling around in my noggin right now. Who knows what, if anything, will ever come of them!

Monday, June 02, 2008

35 Seconds Away

I was in the process of typing up the following:

Congratulations to the Detroit Red Wings on winning Game 5 tonight - coming back from a 2-0 deficit in the process - and taking yet another Stanley Cup in the modern era.

since, after all, there was only a little over a minute to go in the game, Detroit was up 3-2 and had completely dominated the third period (at one point, the shots were 12-0 Detroit). It seemed like a pretty safe bet to prepare a blog entry on how the Wings won the Cup.

And then the Penguins somehow managed to tie it up with 35 seconds to go, sending Game 5 into overtime! I especially liked how Talbot made the second effort to jam that puck in after Osgood stopped the first attempt. What a plugger that guy is!

As I type this now, it's between the third and fourth periods, so I don't know if Motown will still crown their champ tonight (or early tomorrow morning), or if the series will head back to Steel-town. If the NHL does shut down after this game, at least it'll have finished strongly!

[Update: Following a greatly entertaining 1st overtime period that solved nothing, I'm heading to bed. If I cared just a little more about the outcome, I'd stay up longer. But tomorrow's a work day...]

[Update # 2: Pittsburgh amazingly won the game midway through the third overtime period - I was already asleep by then - and so the series continues for at least one more game. Did I jinx the Wings by handing them the Cup before the final buzzer? Only if you believe in such things!]

One For The BSG Fans

A pretty entertaining Wired interview with Battlestar Galactica show-runner Ron Moore can be found here. I imagine if you're all over the various blogs and podcasts for BSG then there not be anything all that new for you in the interview, but for people like me: it provided a lot of insight into where the show's visionary is coming from. It's great to see such a fan-friendly approach to genre television, too. That probably has something to do with why the program is so popular...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Thoughts On Final Crisis # 1

Final Crisis # 1 came out this past Wednesday, and just like that: we're into DC's big 2008 event.

The artwork, by JG Jones, lived up to my expectations. Almost every page is gorgeously rendered, providing a beautiful backdrop for Grant Morrison to tell his operatic superhero tale against. I hope Jones is far enough ahead on the artwork that we won't have delays or fill-ins later in the series, but it'll be a while before we know, as he's been very reticent about it, when asked. I guess it's likely that the 2nd and 3rd issues will be safe in that regard, and then there's already a skip month planned between # 3 and 4 (for story purposes), which probably means the series will stay on track until at least the 5th issue. Oh, the things comics fans have to worry about these days!

Morrison's story is harder to evaluate. As is often the case with his writing style, I had to read the issue a second time to really understand it. He packs a lot of weirdness into everything that he does, and so the first pass of one of his tales usually tends to focus my attention on the details - as I try to decipher them - with nothing in the way of brain power left over to take in the bigger picture. In this case, for example, that meant that I picked up on the death of a founding Justice League of America member, in perhaps the most ignominious of forms (for a character who's been around for over 50 years) but didn't really understand the why. As it turns out, an almost-new villain (past appearances totaling: one!) is proving to a bunch of bigger-name bad guys that he can provide their heart's desire if only they'll place their trust in a reborn dark lord. Kind of interesting, I guess, but I'll wait to see where it goes.

Other aspects of the story made no sense to me, even after a second helping. Like why Anthro (the first boy?) would appear again at the end in the dystopian future of Kamandi (the last boy), other than to provide the tag line of "from the first boy to the last boy!" Or why New God Orion's death here caused such a furor of activity by the Guardians of the Universe when dozens of Orion's fellow neo-deities had spent the 8-issue Death of the New Gods mini-series biting the bullet with no reaction whatsoever from the blueskins on Oa. Not to mention why Superman had to explain to his fellow JLAers who Orion was, when various New Gods - including Orion himself, if my memory serves - had previously been members of the League! Things like that kept taking me out the reading zone and making me wonder if anyone had edited this book. Of course, it may be that everything will be explained away, and that would be a good thing.

Overall, I enjoyed Final Crisis # 1, but wasn't wild about it. It didn't feel like the start of a major Crisis (unlike previous ones) but DC is asking us to "trust them." If this really is "the day evil won," then I'd expect the DC Universe to be a dramatically changed place by the time this series wraps up around about the end of 2008. Colour me skeptical on the true impact of Final Crisis until that happens.