Saturday, September 29, 2012

Baseball Fever Starting To Set In

I haven't paid that much attention to the 2012 baseball season up to now, mainly because I've been trying to watch (and therefore stress over) less sports lately.  The National Hockey League appears to be doing everything they can to help me, in that regard, as it's looking like we night have another shortened NHL season ahead of us... if that.  Add in the debacle of the replacement refs in the NFL, and it doesn't really feel like I've been missing all that much.

But as the final few days click off the MLB season, I'm being drawn back in.  The Tigers are making a run for the postseason, despite me having written them off weeks ago.  And the new Wildcard format - whereby 2 teams in each league get wildcard berths, but then have a one-game playoff to decide which team advances to the League Divisonal Series - is making for some exciting finishes.  I'm watching the Tigers and Twins right now, having watched all of the Jays - Yankees game earlier this afternoon, and that probably matches my seasonal total coming into today.

In other words, I should soon be primed and ready for the start of the 2012 MLB postseason!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Zero Theorem Sounds Interesting

I absolutely love a couple of Terry Gilliam's films (12 Monkeys and Brazil), and have enjoyed a few others. Until just now, though, I hadn't heard anything of his current movie project: Zero Theorem. It definitely intrigues me, even just from the little bit of information contained here. I like the casting choices revealed there, and the enthusiasm that Bleeding Cool's film-geek Brendon Connelly has for it after reading the screenplay.

Yay... something new to look forward to on the silver screen!

Monday, September 24, 2012

How Not To Write Comic Book Reviews

I love this extremely well-thought-out article on the art of comic book reviewing. It touches on all of the areas that I think most 'outsiders' get wrong, including the rather shocking lack of general knowledge some critics bring to the task. As the article writer points out:  

'Imagine if a critic wrote (of a prose novel) that “the straightness of the lines of text reflect the narrator’s matter-of-fact perception of the word, and the ordering of the letters from left-to-right functions as a subtle reference to his growing political conservatism as he comes of age over the course of the novel.” 

This would be silly.'

And yet it's not at all uncommon to see critics unfamiliar with comics as an artform go on at length about its "juxtapositioning of words and images" or how it "has complete command of the reader's eye, leading us from one scene to the next."  Dude, that's what comics are! And if you don't understand that going in, then maybe you're not (yet) qualified to write a review of one. Just saying'...

Use The Force, Harry

Emma just brought this to my attention as a fine start to a Monday morning:

I know this has been around for awhile, but it still delights me because of all the geek buttons it pushes. It's like it was genetically-modified to cause the greatest possible consternation within the typical nerd mind with the fewest possible characters and images. My hat goes off to whoever came up with it.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Somedays You Just Have To Be Lucky

I just happened to check our SARA (cable box) guide this afternoon, to make sure that tonight's episode of Doctor Who was going to record.  I've got it set to record all new episodes of the show, but I still don't entirely trust the crappy programming within SARA to always work when left to its own (heh) devices.

As it turns out, it wasn't even SARA that was going to screw us over tonight.  Instead, it was the data providers this time.  They had Stargate Universe as being scheduled on Space at 9:00 p.m., rather than the good doctor.  I was skeptical of that fact, so I checked the webpage for Space, and sure enough, it was supposed to be Doctor Who.  I hoped they'd fix their data before showtime, but just in case they didn't, I set Stargate Universe to record, too.

As I type these words, it's 9:30 and the Guide still claims that SU is on, even though a quick check of what's recording confirms it's actually Matt Smith and his TARDIS.  Once again, my lack of faith has saved me.

Had I not thought to check into this today, I'd be some kind of pissed off tomorrow when I discovered we had no new Doctor Who to watch!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The 3 Amigos

Cats and dogs, living together!

The Old Guy Can Still Bring It

Musician Peter Gabriel is 4 years older than my brother Richard (to the day!), meaning that he's in his early-60s now. So it can't be all that easy to run around a stage for a 2-hour show anymore, and yet he's still managing to do that, somehow.

Vicki and I saw PG and his band at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday night, and were thoroughly entertained. It's not quite the spectacular show it used to be, but I'm willing to give a little on that front, considering the age of everyone involved.  He did all of his fan-favourites, including the entirety of the So album (the tour is actually called "So - Back to Front").  I'd forgotten just how great a song "Digging in the Dirt" is, when played live.

I took some photos during the performance, but most of them are pretty crappy. We were just too far away, or I suck as a photographer (take your pick). Anyway, here's one of the better ones, showing the entire group but highlighting "the big three" (left to right) - Tony Levin, David Rhodes and Peter himself:

That was the 7th time I've seen PG in concert, and the 5th time for Vicki. I think that officially qualifies us as 'fans... don't you?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Reality Check On Romney

I love it when people who've had opportunities handed to them on a silver platter all their lives take to disparaging those who haven't. It's a very peculiar form of blindness, it seems to me (who wasn't born into any kind of wealth), because the folks making those remarks generally seem to have a very skewed perspective on just how lucky they've been compared to almost everyone else. They'll get their first job thanks to an influential parent pulling some strings somewhere, and then criticize others for their 'lack of initiative' in finding work. It'd be funny if it weren't so sad.

Which brings us to Mitt Romney's latest, and possibly greatest 'gaffe' - being caught on tape speaking his mind about "the 47%" who support President Obama, who don't pay any federal income tax, who are "dependent upon government, who believe they are victims..." He wraps up this rare, honest glimpse into his personal worldview with:

"My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

This is a man who's had everything handed to him his entire life and yet believes he deserves to be elected President of the United States. Has there ever been a more obvious disqualifier for any serious candidate for that lofty position?

[Update the next day: As commenters on various political blogs have quickly pointed out, Romney's dismissal of those who don't pay any federal income tax is incredibly ironic considering the tax-evading lengths he's gone to with his foreign bank accounts. Not to mention that he refuses to release any of his own income tax returns prior to last year's. Just unbelievable.]

Never Let Facts Get In The Way Of You Making A Point

I love how this current American election cycle has really brought to light the way in which some people are playing fast and loose with the facts. But even more than that, I love how often, and how quickly those folks are being called on it! Paul Ryan's Republican Convention speech earned him the hashtag #lyinRyan while the speech was still going on, for example. And even some of the TV journalists are finally stepping up in this regard, such as Soledad O'Brien's takedown of Peter King over Conservative's often-referenced 'Obama Apology Tour' that had the audacity to never actually, you know, happen.

This sort of thing must just seem so unfair to those who live in a universe where all they have to do is say something in order for it to be true!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Why I Collect Comic Books

There are lots of reasons I might give on any given day for why I've spent the time and effort (not to mention money) to build up a 30,000-issue comic collection over the past 40+ years. The one that comes to mind at the moment, though, is that I love the fact that I can usually find just the right series to re-read when I'm looking for a certain type of story or vibe.

I loved Master of Kung Fu (subtitled, The Hands of Shang-Chi) for most of its decade-long run from 1974 through 1983, which I would've been reading between the ages of 11 and 20. I was especially impressed by Shang-Chi, a rare minority lead character at the time, and his Eastern philosophies. However, in those days, I wasn't of an age where I could really appreciate his views for just how admirable they were. So when I recently went looking for something that would inspire me in a certain way, I happened to think of MoKF (as it used to be known) and so far it hasn't let me down. I'm only about 20% of the way into the run at the moment, but I'm up to the point where it really started to take off. And best of all: these are comics that I've only ever read once, back when they first came out... which means that most of the stories are "like brand new" to me! What a thrill! The characters and plots have aged amazingly well, for the most part, making them - on average - better than the vast majority of modern series coming out today. I'm finding I can barely wait to read each successive issue, all of which are fortunately waiting for me right where they should be, in the appropriate box down in our basement.

And so, today, that's why I collect comic books...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

No Brother Of Mine Is Going Into The Hospital

The neighbourhood flyer for No Brother of Mine that I distributed a little more than a week ago just continues to produce results.

A few days ago, we received a call from a neighbour affiliated with the gift shop at St. Joseph's Hospital, wanting to know if I'd be interested in getting some copies of the book into that particular venue. Since I hadn't yet managed to place any of my books into any store, I was naturally thrilled at the prospect! After a bit of discussion, we decided on 6 copies, which should be arriving there tomorrow. I was assured that the sales clerks in the shop would read the store copy of NBoM, and if they liked what they saw they'd be likely to recommend it to hospital goers who arrived looking for something with which to pass the time. I happen to think that my 2nd novel is the perfect prescription for battling boredom (see what I did there, with the medical analogy?), and so this could be a marriage made in heaven.

Since the people running the gift shop like to support local authors, the 6 copies in question have already been bought by the store, rather than being sold on consignment. The store will make a couple dollars of profit per copy, as I sold them at a small discount. If those then sell out, I'll be asked for more of the same. I was told that they actually sell quite a lot of books, which makes sense when you consider how much waiting tends to go on in hospitals. If there's enough demand for NBoM over time, they might even do an Author Signing event at some point, as they've apparently done that sort of thing in the past. Obviously I'm not counting on anything like that happening, as I'm just happy to have made a half dozen new sales with the potential for more down the road.

Yay, promotional flyers!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Beautiful 9/11 Remarks By Joe Biden

On the site of Flight 93's passenger-initiated crash 11 years ago today, U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden delivered some remarkably tender thoughts for the family members of the passengers of that flight. Drawing on feelings he's experienced regarding his own personal tragedy nearly 40 years ago, Biden put things in exactly the right context, such as with this section:

"My hope for you all is that as every year passes, the depth of your pain recedes and you find comfort, as I have, genuine comfort in recalling his smile, her laugh, their touch. And I hope you’re as certain as I am that she can see what a wonderful man her son has turned out to be, grown up to be; that he knows everything that your daughter has achieved, and that he can hear, and she can hear how her mom still talks about her, the day he scored the winning touchdown, how bright and beautiful she was on that graduation day, and know that he knows what a beautiful child the daughter he never got to see has turned out to be, and how much she reminds you of him. For I know you see your wife every time you see her smile on your child’s face. You remember your daughter every time you hear laughter coming from her brother’s lips. And you remember your husband every time your son just touches your hand."

If you haven't yet lost anyone close to you, those may just seem like words. But they're a lot more than that to those of us who have.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Good Results From Another Agile 101 Session

Vicki and I did yet another Agile 101 workshop on Wednesday, and in the process received some of the best results yet on our 1-page feedback form that we hand out at the end:

Effectiveness of the presentation portion: 9.1 (out of 10)
Effectiveness of the hands-on activity: 8.7 (out of 10)
Overall effectiveness of the workshop as an intro to Agile: 8.9 (out of 10)

As usual, I was completely drained and brain-dead by the time we were done. Still, it's all worth it when the attendees are that satisfied with the day!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

I Guess I'll Just Keep Watching This Channel For Awhile

So what if it's turned into a fishing show? Who's going to disturb that little angel?

Emma's Not The Only Home Invader Coming, Either

It looks like we'll have Cooper and Finley for another extended visit in the second half of the month, which should make for a busy house once again (3 humans + 3 cats + 1 dog). Here are a few photos from around the time they were all last here, in late July.

Three animals, all looking in different directions:

After the boys went back home, Lucy looked visibly relieved:

As for Jonesy, he took it all in stride and was just chillin' out with Vicki when things finally quieted down:

Our Last Few Hours Of Freedom

Great-niece Emma is scheduled to move in sometime this evening, at which point "everything changes," as Vicki said this morning. I've given up trying to wrap my head around just what life with Emma is going to be like, because I think it's impossible to guess and hey, we're going to find out soon enough anyway. I suspect it's going to be good for all of us, though...

If nothing else, it'll probably mean more time spent around the kitchen table, like this moment from a few weeks ago (Em and I were doing a logic problem together, while Vicki worked the camera):

Saturday, September 01, 2012

One Hobbit, In Three Servings

In case you missed the news that Peter Jackson's The Hobbit has grown from two films to three, now you know it. And what's more, here's the actual release schedule for the trilogy:

The Hobbit Part 1: An Unexpected Journey - December 14, 2012

The Hobbit Part 2: The Desolation of Smaug - December 13, 2013

The Hobbit Part 3: There and Back Again - July 18, 2014

That's right... we'll only have 7 months to wait between parts 2 and 3, not the usual year that was established when The Lord of the Rings was coming out over three consecutive Decembers.

And if you haven't just mentally added that data to your "list of important upcoming dates" then I'm not sure I even want to know you...