Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pity Poor Me

I should also mention that, come tomorrow, I'll no longer have a laptop at my disposal. So while I don't expect my blogging to actually stop - I have a perfectly good PC in my basement, upon which I wrote every word of The Real-Life Adventures of AgileMan (Lessons Learned in Going Agile), after all! - it may become more sporadic, since I don't spend nearly as much time in the basement as I do flopped in front of the living room TV, like I am right now.

So just bear with me through the transition, or offer to sell me a used laptop... cheap!

One More Day

No, no, not the travesty of the same name that caused me to stop reading Spider-Man comics...

No, it's simply one more day of work for yours truly... I think I've gotten my desk sorted out to the point where I have almost nothing left to bring home (just a bit more to throw out), and all former responsibilities have been successfully shifted to others (including the care and feeding of 14 direct reports). I said goodbye to a couple of good work-friends today (who have tomorrow off) but the real show will happen tomorrow afternoon, at a local restaurant. The more I steel myself to "not get emotional about it," the more sure I am that I'm going to end up a blubbering mess. And now we all understand why I didn't want (and managed to avoid having) a goodbye event when I left the bank in 2001 after 14.5 years there!

I told Vicki today that I like the sounds of "I'm taking an extended break from working in order to write a book" much better than "I'm out of work" or "I don't know if I'll ever find work again!" For one thing, the high-falutin' "book-writing" angle makes it sound like I'm an actual author, rather than someone who just self-publishes his own ramblings. For another, ixnay on the whole ot-nay aking-may oney-may talk, if you don't mind!

Funny highlight of the day was supplied by none other than Jimmy Hinckley, who doesn't even work with me anymore! He was IM'ing me, asking me how the exit interview went, and I happened to mention that the HR Director was kind enough to buy a copy of my book right at the end of the proceedings. Hinckley summarized that perfectly, in his usual manner, by saying, "So you actually managed to PROFIT from your exit interview!" That may be a first in the history of such things... :-)

Less than 24 hours from now, I'll actually be unemploy---, I mean, "taking an extended break from working in order to write a book!"

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dinner With The Master Coach

Tonight Vicki and I entertained Christian, the Master Coach consultant who's been working with my soon-to-be-ex-company for the last eight or nine months. Months ago, he very kindly offered to take a couple dozen copies of The Real-Life Adventures of AgileMan (Lessons Learned in Going Agile) to Agile 2008 next week in Toronto, and we thought that the least we could do in the face of such generosity was to invite him over for a home-cooked meal before then.

It's always great to hear Christian's perspective on things at work, because he has the ability to observe lots of disparate pieces of our organization and discern patterns that others wouldn't pick up on. I like to think that I can do that, too, but certainly not at his level.

As we sent him - and all those copies of my book - on his way after an evening of dining and discussion, Vicki said, "Y'know, it'd really be too bad if he came back from the conference and said that he could've sold 150 copies if only he'd had them." But my response was, "No, that'd be great! Because there'll be lots of other Agile conferences in the future, and if that kind of demand exists, we'll sell lots of copies eventually!" Somehow I can't see that being the reality, but of course it's nice to dream. And with the conference still several days away, dreaming is still allowed!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ode To AgileMan

This week is only 40% complete and I've already had several people offer up evaluations of various types on my two year run as Agile Manager at work. Some have been heart-warming testimonials, others critical analyses, but all are naturally making me even more reflective than I'm already inclined to be.

I'm getting the impression that I affected - for good or for ill - more people than I ever appreciated. And the fact that I feel a much greater affinity to the people "below" me than those "above" me (in Org Chart terms) probably has something to do with it, and no doubt means that I've broken some cardinal sin of management in the process. Somehow I think I can live with that faux pas, though...

Anyway, just three more days to go at the current job and then it's on to I really don't know what. Oh, and I've now sold 8 additional copies of The Real-Life Adventures of AgileMan (Lessons Learned in Going Agile) since announcing my resignation. Drama sells?

Monday, July 28, 2008

How Hot Is The Original Comic Art Market?

I own somewhere between fifty and a hundred pieces of original comic artwork (like the Captain America page shown here, from just a few months before he was killed off) and yet have never really made any concerted effort to "collect" them. I think the first page I ever bought was a beautiful David Lloyd Hellblazer page that I just couldn't resist bidding on during a charity auction, and then many others have followed rather haphazardly.

Lately, however, it seems like the prices for some of these items may be on the rise. There's this story from last weekend's San Diego Comic Con, in which someone paid $115,000 US for 22 pages from Green Lantern # 84 (early 1970s) by the greatly-talented Neal Adams. In that article, there seem to be indications that original artwork is appreciating in value.

Also, Vicki watched a V For Vendetta page (once again by David Lloyd) sell on eBay last night for more than $1800 US, making me wonder just how much my own VFV page is worth (I paid around $300 US for it, about 10 years ago now). We've seen Watchmen pages go for more than $10,000 US and that was before the recent hype over the movie (I bought mine for $2000 US, albeit at a time when the exchange rate was much less favourable than it is right now).

So is this particular market really heating up? Should I consider selling some of my own ragtag collection, seeing as how I'll be out of work in less than 100 hours?

I don't have any answers at this point. But it's an interesting topic to ponder.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cue The Final Week

Tomorrow marks the start of my last week working for my current employer. Over the next five days, I'll be saying goodbye to a whole lot of people, hoping that we'll stay in touch but knowing that, for the vast majority of them, we probably won't. I think Boneman and AgileBoy are safe bets for not losing contact, but everyone else is probably a crapshoot at this point. Some of them are currently so busy that the prospect of them finding time to meet me for lunch, come over to the house for a visit or even just respond to an e-mail... seems laughable. And that's one small part of the reason why I'm leaving, after all: when it's constantly Crisis Mode at the office, it's awfully hard to ever accomplish very much.

One of the things that I'm most looking forward to, once next week is behind me, is an end - however temporary it may prove to be - to the wearying five-day routine of getting up early each morning. I've known for most of my life that I sleep better if I use a very simple approach: if I'm tired, go to bed; if I'm not, stay up and do stuff. It sounds simple enough, but too often I'm not tired at 11:00 p.m. on a weekday, and yet the knowledge that I have to get up around 7:00 a.m. the next morning drives me to go to bed and hope for the best. Soon I should be able to set a more sensible sleep schedule that will hopefully mean less time wasted in bed, tossing and turning and cursing my inability to sleep on demand. (I think the perfect job for me would be one where I can work from home and set my own hours. Anyone got one of those handy for me?)

If you happen to be one of those aforementioned soon-to-be-ex-coworkers of mine, then please plan to keep frequenting this blog... it's perhaps the best option for us to maintain contact, after all!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

California Dreaming

News from the San Diego Comic Con continues to roll out of the West Coast. For me personally, the most exciting announcement so far has been that Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Scriver will be doing a Barry Allen miniseries, Flash: Rebirth. Considering how good their Hal Jordan version (Green Lantern: Rebirth) was a few years ago, this could be amazing.

Potentially interesting is the news that Kevin Smith's returning to comics with a Batman miniseries featuring Smith's quirky villain, Onomatapoeia. (The bad guy only says words that imitate the sound of his actions, like "snap", "bang" or "buzz.")

There have also been reports out of panels involving TV shows Lost and Heroes, with the latter containing spoilers aplenty for the upcoming season premiere (so beware!)

If you've somehow managed to avoid hearing anything out of San Diego this weekend, then you most definitely travel in different (Internet) circles than I do...

Friday, July 25, 2008


A week later than expected, and adorned with significantly more postage than I'd actually paid for, 26 copies of The Real-Life Adventures of AgileMan (Lessons Learned in Going Agile) arrived this afternoon! Vicki signed for the package and then immediately tried to phone me with the good news... except that I was still out at lunch.

So these were the 26 that were supposed to go to Agile 2008, but since I have people patiently waiting for the book at the office, I'll be taking 6 copies with me on Monday to fulfill those orders. Hopefully the 2nd batch (20 more copies) will arrive early next week, but if not: it'll only be 20 copies heading to the conference with my friendly Agile Consultant buddy. I can always get some extra copies to him there if - gasp! - the ones that I'm sending actually sell out.

I'm still waiting to hear back from Lulu on why Express shipping seems to no longer be an option when I order. It took approximately twice as long for Standard shipping to get the books to me - with no Tracking # available - and seemed to cost about the same as Express has in the past (for similar sized orders). Incredibly, when I was in a Chat with a Lulu support person last night, she stated that Express hadn't been available for my recent orders because it would've been cheaper than Standard. I said, "Are you telling me that I couldn't get the faster shipping simply because it would've been cheaper? What kind of an assinine policy is that?" She then changed her story and claimed that it was because I was in a "remote part of Canada." After I clarified that a) no I wasn't, and b) I was at the exact same address as I'd been at for all of the earlier Express shipments, she said that she'd have to investigate with the "Tech department." So now I'm waiting to get an e-mail response from them.

But regardless, I'm very happy to have finally gotten some more books!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sex Sells, But This Is Crazy!

Here's the first of three posters debuting at San Diego Comic Con this year.

It's for a vampire-related TV show, I guess.

You can see it's a pretty effective image.

So effective, in fact, that...



(wait for it)



That's right, it shows up again

This time, for a Megan Fox movie (I guess)

As far as I know, there's no connection to the first poster

This is simply a freaky coincidence

But then today...

I see this and I have to wonder...

A Red Sonja poster, somehow tapping into the same sudden, universal need (by us males) to see women's lips and tongues in contact with blood.

It's actually pretty creepy that this happened, if you ask me...

The Most Exciting Weekend Of The Year?

The big comic convention in San Diego is now underway (running through Sunday), and it's often the venue where the biggest genre announcements are made. So far nothing too dramatic has come out yet (at least that I've seen), but I expect Friday and Saturday will once again be full of interesting bits of "breaking news."

Vicki and I always used to say, "One of these years, we really need to take in the big San Diego Comic Con..." but I sort of think we missed our window of opportunity. It's now such a huge, overblown event that it typically sells out before the doors even open on Day 1, hotel rooms are next to impossible to get, restaurants have ridiculously long waits and everything you might do at the Con is packed full of sweaty people to the point of discomfort. Ever since Hollywood got into the act, it's become a media circus and nothing that I'd ever want to venture into. So unless it shrinks back down to its 1980s size at some point in the future, I think that boat may've already sailed on us.

But it still makes for a great weekend of Internet surfing for this comic fan!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Only 7 More Working Days Until Christmas

OK, maybe not, but you get the idea...

I've now completely run out of copies of my book - having sold the last one at lunch today - while I continue to wait for new shipments to arrive from tardy Lulu. (Today's sale was # 38, by the by.) I'm somewhat embarrassed that I can't supply copies to the five people at work who want to buy the book, after thinking that I'd have books in hand by this time last week, but I'm also quite relieved that I ordered the 26 copies for the Agile 2008 Conference as early as I did (thinking, at the time, that I had lots of buffer still in the schedule but playing it safe, as I tend to do).

Things haven't slowed down in the least for me at work as of yet, which I guess is good because it's making for days that just fly by. Some people are seeming skeptical about the idea that I've really quit one job without having lined up the next one already. That claim of mine has been exasperated, I guess, by the fact that some previous resignators have used that approach to cover up various instances of poaching by former employees. I keep insisting that I really, truly, have no new job waiting for me just yet, but that's apparently a very novel idea.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wanna Know What I Thought Of The Dark Knight?

Just make with the clickety-click over to The Studio.

And don't worry... someday, people other than me will post reviews there, too!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dude, Where Are My Books?

It's really starting to bug me that Lulu changed their shipping options such that their once-reliable system - order books, they arrive about a week later - is no longer so much on the dependability scale. The copies that I ordered a week and a half ago are nowhere to be seen, and I have no way of knowing how far away they even are right now (thanks to there being no tracking information anymore). Under the old system, I'd have received both orders of books (26, followed by 20); instead, I've got bupkiss.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Off To See The Dark Knight Tonight... If He'll Have Us

With Tammy on her way here for a week-long stay, tonight should see the three of us head to the theatre for a late showing of The Dark Knight. Based on the fact that it's been breaking box office records all weekend, and my own unwillingness to stand in long lines for movies (or pretty much anything else), it's quite possible that we won't get in to see it this evening. But we'll at least give it a try.

The Dark Knight currently holds a 9.7/10 IMDB rating (with almost 50,000 votes cast), which is probably the highest score ever for a comic book-based film. Neither Spider-Man 2 nor Batman Begins, my two favourite genre movies up to now, came even close to that lofty mark at IMDB. That sort of thing, along with some of the TDK reviews that I've carefully skimmed over the weekend, have me very, very ready to see this latest Bat-flick!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Death To Bridge!

Last night I finally called it quits on playing Bridge, after Vicki and I had had seven or eight sessions with AgileBoy & Wife. Unfortunately for the other three players, I'm just not that crazy about card games, and never have been. In high school, I'd drift in and out of the groups that would fill their lunch break with Hearts or Euchre, but mostly out of them. I could never really sustain any enthusiasm for the games, and not much has changed in that regard, thirty years later.

But we'll find some reason to continue our regular get-togethers with Mr and Mrs AgileBoy, especially with me quitting my job and all. After all, I'm fed up with the company and much of the politics, but not most of the people.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Who Is This Dark Knight Of Whom You Speak?

Last night's Watchmen movie trailer has me worried that maybe director Zack Snyder doesn't really get the material, after all.. but everything I'm hearing about The Dark Knight so far indicates that Christopher Nolan has repeated his amazing job from Batman Begins and possibly even improved on it! One movie critic crazily predicted that TDK might be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, and he wasn't even a comic book fan!

We didn't get out to see Batman go up against the Joker today, and so we'll probably wait for Tammy now (she's coming to visit either Sunday night or Monday). I'm actually getting more excited about the prospect the more I read the reviews, in this the Year of Great Comic Book Movies!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Watchmen Trailer Debuts

You can see it here. It's interesting to get our first really good look at the... well, look of the film. Some of what I see, I like; some appears for all the world to be favouring style over substance, which is pretty much the antithesis of what Moore and Gibbons put on the printed page.

I'd call it a coin flip at this point...

Off For A Social Night With My Work Peers

AgileBoy will be there...

So will Boneman....

Sheesh, it's going to feel like a work meeting! ;-)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Apparently Nothing Sells Books Quite Like Quitting Your Job

Some very kind and generous souls at work, upon hearing of my resignation, have boosted sales of The Real-Life Adventures of AgileMan (Lessons Learned in Going Agile) to a level not seen since the very first week of its publication. At last count, I'd gotten six (6) new purchase requests from co-workers over the past seven days, to the point where I've had to stall people while I await the latest shipment from Lulu (and wouldn't you just know that the package doesn't seem to have a tracking number provided, despite the fact that every previous order, including single copies, have had it...)

Vicki also started the process for a seventh (7th) new sale on the train ride home from visiting Tammy in Toronto yesterday - I just have to close the deal now, by actually delivering a copy and collecting my cash, which I hope to do over lunch next week. So I'd say this qualifies as a spectacular week for ol' AgileMan and his steamy memoirs...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

10 Years Ago Today

It was exactly 10 years ago that Vicki, Tammy and I came over to our "brand new" house - with a pool! - just long enough to admire it once again before heading out to the Chicago comic convention. The house was pretty empty that day - we'd move in a week later - and we managed to turn the pool water green while we were out of town (apparently leaving the pool pump off for several days in a row wasn't all that good of an idea!) but it's still a very fond and vivid memory of mine. It seemed at the time like our lives were taking a turn for the better, and I think the ensuing span has proved that to be true.

Until today, I'd never lived 10 years in one place... ever. My family, when I was growing up, always seemed to move around as our financial situation improved or worsened, with an eight and a half year stay in a 3rd-floor apartment (no elevator!) being the longest stretch before this current streak.

Vicki's responsible for most of the good things in my life, and a decade of happiness at this address is just one of the proofs of that. I'm a very lucky man, and I don't often forget it!

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Return Of AgileBoy

AgileBoy and Wife were off in Scotland for the last week while I was busy quitting my job, so it made for an awkward moment when he dropped into the office today, on the last day of his vacation, and I had to ask him, "So.... have you read your e-mail yet?"

When he admitted that he hadn't, I proceeded to take him out into the hall and tell him all that he'd missed. He actually took the news pretty well - isn't anyone going to beg me to stay?! - although I'm sure he thought that I was kidding at first.

At least we've got three weeks (minus a day) left to co-exist as Product Development Leaders together before I take my leave.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Day Spent Talking About Project Management

Vicki and I sat by the pool today and threw around ideas for what she could cover in a university lecture session about Project Management, and then what I'd talk about. We both owed the professor who asked us to provide guest lectures for his Computer Science course on Project Management some sort of material, and I'd been feeling bad that we hadn't gotten him anything yet. So today we spitballed a couple of overviews and sent them his way. We'll see what comes of it.

I've also been thinking of other things to try, once I have the free time. Would I like tutoring students in Grade 9 Math? Would I be brave enough - not to mention qualified enough - to be able to instruct a course of some sort at our community college? Vicki and I have a friend who counsels students at the university, and she mentioned that she thought that I'd be good at that! Crazy idea, or something I should consider? And in all scenarios, it's very nice indeed that I'm not having to restrict myself to opportunities that pay well! A little bit of money would do the trick just fine, I think.

I suppose that I need to get my resume up to date, at the very least. It's turned out to be quite the potpourri of experiences that I've had over the past 22 years, so that should be an interesting challenge to capture in just 2 pages of a Word document. And then of course I have to figure out where and to whom to submit that collection of acronyms and buzzwords, if anything's ever to come of it. Ah, such fun!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Resignations & Revelations

Yorick Brown, of Y: The Last Man fame, wasn't the only one standing at a crossroads recently.

In what I hope will be one of those moves that, in the coming months and years, I'll look back on and ask, "Why did I ever wait so long?", yesterday I handed in my resignation at work.

I made the decision on Thursday night, although I'd been building toward it for weeks without knowing it. Quitting turned out to be a lot easier to do than I'd thought it would be, probably in part because I'd already warmed a lot of people up to the idea that I'd be "retiring" soon (and partly because no one seemed to want to talk me out of it; hmmmmm). A few people said they were "shocked, but not surprised" which I think means that they'd been expecting it, but just not right now. I choked up a couple of times while telling people how badly I feel about leaving some of them in the lurch this way, but other than that I got through it.

I have three weeks left, during which time I have to transition my 14 direct reports over to new managers, tie up any loose ends, say a lot of goodbyes, and then walk away from what is essentially only my 2nd job in just over 22 years of continuous employment. Not too many people in this day and age are faced with that kind of scenario, since it's much more common to move around and/or have periods of unemployment as you journey through your career. Come August 2nd, I will, for the very first time in my life - thanks to the seemingly endless education cycle of Kindergarten through University, and then a career - be faced with a blank slate labelled "the future."

I think that's going to be a very good feeling, but I won't know for sure until I'm facing it for real. I guess it's possible that I'll be scared shitless by the prospect, or even bored out of my mind... but I'm expecting to feel like there's nothing but boundless opportunities in front of me, with complete freedom to choose between them. One of the most frustrating aspects of work life of late has been the perception - in my mind, at least - that there's never any time available to do anything except deal with fires or respond to adhoc requests from others. So just imagine having the luxury to actually think about what to do next, how to do it to the level of quality that you think it deserves, and then to take whatever amount of time is required to complete it! For most of my co-workers, that seems to unfortunately be nothing but a pipe dream these days.

If you're inclined to do such things, feel free to wish me luck. As always, I'll take whatever good fortune I can find.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Final Crisis Scores Another Win

After his rather ignomonious death in Final Crisis # 1, the Martian Manhunter - a founding member of the Justice League of America, let's recall! - got a much more fitting sendoff in the Final Crisis: Requiem one-shot.

I really enjoyed the recap of highlights from J'onn J'onzz's career and the idea that his teammates were telepathically recording his history for posterity, but the final shot of Batman leaving a Choco (Oreo) cookie on his casket was the image that brought a tear to my eye.

So that makes two good FC issues (# 2, and this one-shot special) along with a slow one (# 1).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Standing At The Crossroads

Today, Vicki read the first collected volume of Y: The Last Man, at my suggestion. I told her not to start on the second volume if she finished the first - hey, I get first dibs! - but I also said that if she wasn't totally hooked by the end of the first one, she'd probably never be.

She's now firmly hooked.

Tonight we were discussing the contents of what we'd both read, and commenting on how just how smart the writing is. For example, the words on the page often take on multiple meanings based on what images they're combined with, what immediately precedes or follows them, or who's saying it. One example involves a shot of Yorick Brown, standing at a specifically-shaped intersection, torn between two choices. The intersection just happens to be configured like the letter "Y" (with him standing at the crossroads), although it's possible that you might not notice that if you're not paying attention. Since the next choice he has to make represents a significant turning point - one way or the other - in his life, it's only fitting that we're reminded that he's not only a "Y" himself ("Yorick") but also the last human "Y" chromosome left on the planet.

Stuff like that is there to be found on nearly every page. Really, really excellent comic fare, this Y: The Last Man.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Feel-Good Fix In Four Colours

I enjoyed the first Y: The Last Man trade paperback so much that I bought the second and third volumes today, while picking up the week's regular dose of escapism. I get just a little bit giddy thinking about how much I'm looking forward to reading more Y, considering how good the first installment was. The series that it reminds me of the most is Preacher, because of its irreverence, crisp writing style and clean artwork. If what I've read so far is representative of the whole series, then it's probably better than just about anything coming out right now. I love when I find something like that.

I also love that I can still get excited by a great bit of comic book storytelling.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Another Month, Another Watchmen Video Journal

We're now down to less than 8 months until the premiere of Zack Snyder's movie adaptation of Watchmen. You'll probably want to watch the latest video diary release here if you're even half as excited about the film as I am.

A Good Week For Book Sales

Softening, somewhat, the impact of coming back to work after being on vacation were two sales of The Real-Life Adventures of AgileMan (Lessons Learned in Going Agile) early this week. This brings the total to 35 sales in just over 3 months of publication, 5 of which happened online (at Lulu) at no cost to yours truly.

I checked my accounting spreadsheet and I'm very close to the break even point now. If I were to sell the last 2 copies that I have on hand, and I was to get one more online sale, then I'd essentially have made back the cost of producing the book, including the many free copies that I gave away. In order to print more copies, though, (to have available when people ask to buy one), I'd then have to go back into the red until I'd sold slightly more than half of them.

Ain't self-publishing fun?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Work All Day And Then Come Home To...

... work all evening!

Yeah, that's how my first day back after a week of vacation went. No wonder I didn't want to go back to work!!!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

And So Another Vacation Ends

It was a full-filled afternoon today as we had the boss and his family over for a swim and dinner, and his wife and kids are always terrific to spend time with! I love it when children "get" and appreciate my unique sense of humour, and this particular trio always have, over the many years that we've known them... or maybe they're just always being kind!

It's depressing to think about heading back into work tomorrow, but I've been trying to cheer myself up by focusing on the positives:

- it looks like a good week for cycling, and I definitely missed that during my week off

- our very own AgileBoy is moving into the leadership ranks, and watching that play out should be amusing, if nothing else (just kidding: I have every reason to believe that he's going to do great!)

- I'll be getting my own "apprentice" in the form of another new leader, and I'm looking forward to getting to know him better (hey, Jamie!) as well as being able to offload some of my work so that I can succeed a little more at the rest of it!

- I have a bunch of strategic initiatives that I want to get going with my teams and I'm somehow going to find the time to start making that happen

- I hope to start writing the AgileMan sequel soon, and that may have a buoyant effect on my spirit!

One way or another, though, it's back to work for me tomorrow. Sigh.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A Thought Or Two On Writing (And Reading)

Something amazes me, that probably shouldn't. But first a bit of background: I wrote a book in the past year that you may have read about here, on occasion - I called it The Real-Life Adventures of AgileMan (Lessons Learned in Going Agile). You may, in fact, have even read the book itself... and if you have, then you have the thanks of a grateful author.

So the thing that amazes me (but probably shouldn't) is this: some people who have a copy of my book (for free or paid for) have never read it! I'm here today to tell you why that amazes me (but probably shouldn't).

You see, if someone who I knew wrote a book, I'd be desperate to read it! I'd be so intrigued by the novelty of the idea that I almost wouldn't be able to stop myself. Now, if the book in question was terrible, then I might start it and then never be able to slog all the way through on account of it being... well, unreadable. And for all I know, some might consider my own book unreadable... but wouldn't that imply that they at least tried to read it?!

I suppose that I must love the act of reading more than some people, and maybe that's all there is to this thing that amazes me (but probably shouldn't). After all, if someone I knew recorded a music CD - and that's happened, more than once - then I certainly wouldn't be as likely to get into it as I would a book. Music isn't as big a part of my life as reading is, so maybe that's why book-writing - producing literature, if you want to get all high-faluting about it - seems so impressive to me. But clearly not everyone feels that way.

In other news, today I re-read The Real-Life Adventures of AgileMan for the first time since publishing it. Despite encountering entirely too many typos for my liking, I found it a very entertaining and humourous read. I wish that more people I knew wrote books like it...

Worth The Hype

I'm now about 3 or 4 issues into the Y: The Last Man comic series that wrapped up recently (although I'm reading it in collected form). Y is Brian K. Vaughan's award-winning series, published by DC Comics, which I'd missed out on when it was coming out in monthly, serialized form. I'd heard enough good stuff about it over the years that I decided to try out the first volume in trade paperback format, and what I've read so far has lived up to the billing!

In brief, it's the story of Yorick Brown, the (apparently) sole surviving male human after every other man on Earth is simultaneously wiped out by some mysterious ailment. It's very intelligently-written, and so far has already dealt with many of the "But what about....?" questions that such a concept raised in my mind.

Ex Machina has made me a big Vaughan fan, as well as a few shorter story arcs here and there, so I came to Y late in the game, but full of high expectations. I can hardly wait to see where it all leads...

Friday, July 04, 2008

Manhattan Revolving Door Just Spins And Spins

If you're an NHL fan, and especially if you're a New York Rangers fan - like your Humble Blogger - then this is the time of the year when you realize: you probably aren't even going to recognize your team, come October!

In the case of the Rangers:

Jagr is out (gone to play in Russia for a ton of rubles)

Wade Redden is in (6-year contract, $39 million... are they crazy?)

Avery is out (off to Dallas and the Western Conference; good riddance, I say)

Markus Naslund is in (2-year, $8 million contract)

Fritsche and Zherdev come over from Columbus in exchange for Tyutin and Backman (at least the four players won't have to get used to drastically different jerseys!)

Defenseman Dmitri Kalinin is in (most recently with Buffalo)

Straka and Shanahan are unrestricted free agents and thus probably headed elsewhere (unless I've already missed them signing with other teams)

I just have to hope that the new additions, along with Drury, Gomez, Lundqvist and the others who still remain from last year's Conference Semi-Final run, can come together to form a team to be reckoned with. Or maybe Slats has more wheeling and dealing yet to do before the start of the 2008/09 season...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Mental Note: One Week Of Vacation Is Just Too Short!

I can't believe that tomorrow is the last day of my current vacation, which just seemed to have started! Perhaps it's the five week break that I took last summer, but one week off just doesn't seem to amount to much anymore. I'll take another week later in the summer, I think, but now I'm wondering if I would've been better off combining them?

What this really makes me think is that I need to start getting serious about the whole retirement thing. Even if I just decided on the when now, then I could at least have that to look forward to as I head back to work for another stretch. Next Spring or Summer is starting to look good to me right now...

Final Secret Crisis Invasion Part 2

Not too long ago, I wrote down my thoughts on the two big comic events of the summer: Secret Invasion, from Marvel Comics, and DC Comics' Final Crisis. At that time, Secret Invasion # 1 had just come out, and we were all still awaiting the launch of Final Crisis.

Now, a few months later, I've had the chance to read the first three issues of the 8-part Secret Invasion, and the initial two parts of the 7-issue Final Crisis. In other words, I'm roughly a third of the way through, and have a clearer notion of what each has to offer.

Secret Invasion has turned out to be a real snoozer for this longtime fan. It's essentially a one-trick pony, that being the excrutiatingly-drawn out reveals of who's been a Skrull, and for how long. I guess if you're really into this storyline, then the snail's pace at which the information's being doled out might be enjoyable; for me, it's all comics decompression at its worst! Yawwwwn.

Final Crisis, on the other hand, jumped into overdrive with its second issue. I re-read it this morning and was every bit as impressed as I'd been on the first pass. Every page has something significant happening on it, putting it miles ahead of Secret Invasion in terms of plot and unpredictability. About the biggest gripe I have with the goings-on within this series now is that they're going to be limited to the main title itself along with a few spin-offs, when in reality something as dramatic as what appears to be coming ought to be reflected in every DC Comics title of the day. If evil really is going to win - at least for awhile - then it seems natural that the effects should be felt everywhere. Also, the incredible artwork by JG Jones, as compared to the glorified chicken scratchings in Secret Invasion, leaves it no contest on the art front.

There's still a long way to go, and my enthusiasm could still wax and wane in either case, but so far Final Crisis is the clear winner between these two big events. Sadly, the sales figures on the issues to date have broken the opposite way, showing once again that my tastes don't match the popular opinion.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Time For A Sequel?

One of the things that I did yesterday was to sit by the pool and jot down potential topics for a 2nd AgileMan book. I figured, as I'd done prior to starting the first book, that if I couldn't come up with 30+ good topics off the top of my head, then chances were that I didn't really have enough material to fill a book. Yesterday, as was the case back in August of last year, I came up with a big enough list, fairly easily.

So, uh.... Game on?

Also, I floated a potential title past Vicki to see how she'd react. With The Real-Life Adventures of AgileMan (Lessons Learned in Going Agile), I knew exactly what I wanted the book to be called right from the start, and never doubted that it was the right title for it, even as others questioned it. (Those who've since read it may - or may not - now agree with me on that choice.) I don't yet have that kind of conviction toward the new title that I'm batting around for the sequel, but it's starting to grow on me. Here it is, for your consideration:

More Real-Life Adventures of AgileMan (Year Two: Easier Said Than Done)

I suspect that, given the way the 2nd year has gone, the sequel may in fact be an even less welcome reflection than the first book was, among those who don't really believe in open and honest communication. Or maybe I'm not giving them enough credit. Only time will tell, I guess.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Swamp Thing Vs The Demon Etrigan

As promised, here's the latest addition to the comic art collection, purchased this past weekend in Chicago.

We're not sure who the "Gloria" was who commissioned this amazing work of art from Swamp Thing artist Steve Bissette in March of 1987, but she clearly had good taste!

Once we get it framed, this should make a fine companion piece for the page of original artwork that I have from Saga of the Swamp Thing # 26, the story in which the muck monster meets the rhyming demon for the first time.