Tuesday, May 23, 2006


I was going to post this last week but didn't get around to it. I'm reading these issue when they come out (on Wednesdays), so I'll try and be a bit more timely with my posts. Anyway...I thought this issue definitely delivered on the promise of the first. Now maybe this was because it only focused on the characters and situations I found interesting in #1. Or maybe it was just good.

Ralph Dibny learns more about what is going on at his wife's grave and the mystery of it leads him to twitch his nose just a bit; perhaps this will lead to the Elongated Man taking up his detective role once again.

Booster Gold visits Dr. Will Magnus (who created the Metal Men) to make sure nothing is wrong with his robotic companion Skeets. He doesn't seem to think so but later on a plane rescue turns out more difficult than anticipated due to more misinformation from Skeets. Another mystery.

Speaking of mysteries, we see Magnus visiting T.O. Morrow, another brilliant man who is also a criminal. Morrow is told that his creation, the android hero Red Tornado, has perished in the recent battles; Morrow mentions one of Tornado's brothers, the Red Inferno. We also learn that someone is rounding up mad scientists, which explains Dr. Sivana's disappearance last issue.

The other major action of the issue is between The Question and Renee Montoya. He acts all mysterious but ends up hiring Renee to do some detective work. Plus, there's a scene of two women sleeping together (really sleeping, perverts), which you don't see too often in a mainstream super-hero comic.

The end solves a mystery to a certain extent but raises another bigger one and then we're on to the back-up feature giving us the history of the DC Universe in our newly-streamed timeline.

I say, give me more, as long as it's as appealing as this issue. Guess I'll find out tomorrow...

Monday, May 22, 2006


Last time I waited a few weeks before using up my downloads. This time? Done in just days...

Grandaddy/Just Like the Fambly Cat - It took about a week for this one to turn up but I knew it would, since the rest of their albums are available. It's good and it's their last one.

Twilight Singers/Powder Burns - I've liked Greg Dulli for years but have never gotten around to picking up anything from this band or The Afghan Whigs. The new one is great rock music - I like a band that tends toward the dramatic, as long as it's held it check. This delivers.

Archers of Loaf/Icky Mettle - Long been interested in this and now I've heard it. This was Eric Bachmann's band before Crooked Fingers and was more rock-oriented. I've only listened once but I liked it.

Friday, May 19, 2006


I missed Free Comic Book Day the other weekend; it wasn't high on my agenda and I let it slide. I shouldn't have, because I forgot all about Free Scott Pilgrim. What is that, you ask? It's a brand-new adventure of the fantastic new graphic novel series that I rambled about late last year. And it was free. Oops. I've been saved, however, as it has been posted here. If you haven't read the series, I hope this gets you hooked. I haven't read it yet, as Bryan Lee O'Malley says it takes place after the third volume, Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness, which is due out next week. I can wait. I suggest you don't.

Want to watch something on You Tube? How about the pilot for "Heat Vision and Jack," which starred Jack Black as an astronaut and Owen Wilson as his talking motorcycle? Oh, and Ben Stiller was involved too. I haven't taken the half hour to watch it yet but I plan to this weekend. (via someone on the BKV message board)

Jason Isbell of the Drive-By Truckers just did an instudio on Minnesota Public Radio in which he plays an acoustic version of "Easy on Yourself" from the new album and a brand-new song called "Dress Blues." Go, listen, enjoy. (via LHB)

The new Jon Auer (of the Posies) album is finally here - Songs from the Year of Our Demise. You can listen to the whole thing here.

I am in love with the pop sensibilities of Central Services. Go to their MySpace. (via You Ain't No Picasso)

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Bishop Allen. I picked up their March ep and haven't gotten enough of it. I will talk more about it soon. But for now, check out their MySpace page. (via several leading music bloggers)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


INFINITE CRISIS, the latest epic storyline for DC Comics wrapped up the other week. It was a thematic and at times direct sequel to CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, their first such event in 1985. I was all about that previous series and it introduced me to many characters I didn't know yet while also wiping out their multiple Earths (along with multiple Supermen and Wonder Women and so forth)in order to streamline the DC Universe (or DCU). IC briefly flirted with the idea of restoring the multiverse but settled for once again streamlining the DCU. How successful they were is a topic for another time. Or not.

The end result of the series is that, for varying reasons, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman disappear for a whole year. This has lead to DC publishing their comics under a banner of "One Year Later," which started in March. All titles had a change in the status quo of the series via this concept. I haven't read many of them, so I can't offer much comment. You may wonder what happened during that missing year. Well, DC is telling you one week at a time.

52 is a comic that will be published weekly and offers a real time look at what happened in the DCU during that missing year of continuity. A weekly series is a massive undertaking and part of my interest in this series is whether they will be able to meet that schedule. I appreciate the risk involved and like that they are willing to try something like this. How are they doing it? Four writers - Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, Greg Rucka, and Geoff Johns. A rotating cast of artists assisted by breakdowns on every issue by Keith Giffen. All under covers by J.G. Jones, whom I think is one of the best in the business. The first issue came out last Wednesday and I thought I would offer up my weekly thoughts on the series for as long as I stick with it.

#1 opens up by checking in on three people - Ralph Dibny (better known as Elongated Man; his wife Sue was killed during the opening salvos of the current DC direction in the IDENTITY CRISIS); Renee Montoya (a cop for the Gotham P.D.; her partner was recently killed in the pages of GOTHAM CENTRAL); and John Henry Irons (also known as Steel, he was one of the replacements for Superman during the big "Death of Superman" storyline more than a decade ago). The first two are depressed and not coping very well and Steel is working in relief efforts around the world after the events of IC.

Next we see Booster Gold, who has returned to the corporate ways of his debut 20 years ago. Not only is he pitching drinks while beating up bad guys but he has also rented out space on his uniform. Booster and his robot companion Skeets also happen to be from the future, which they are using to their advantage. Booster plans on being a part of the brand-new Justice League, which he is confident will be announced at a hero's funeral at the end of the week. I was a fan of Booster when his comic series was around and then through various titles like Justice League, though I was glad when he seemed to gain more substance. Not sure how I like this new/old take on him.

There were other parts of the issue that didn't do much for me - Steel and his niece; a look at Black Adam, the ruler of Khandaq; the fact the fate of Wally West, the Flash, was dealt with in such an off-handed matter. Seems like you would want one of the main parts of your big series, IC, to be dealt with in another way. Yes, I know I'm losing you.

Here's why I'm coming back for #2...Ralph gets an interesting message concerning his late wife; mysterious things are afoot with Dr. Sivana; the memorial for the fallen heroes and how things go awry from Booster's perspective; and the brilliant appearance of The Question at the end of the issue. I'll let you know how the new issue goes in the next couple of days...

Monday, May 15, 2006


I did say I'd start posting on May 15, right? What? I said May 1? Darn typos...

You know I've been keeping myself occupied with music (if you've been reading my sporadic Year of 35 posts, that is) and I'm still putting in a few hours a day in the YMCA pool. And I've been reading (though not as much as I'd like to) and watching TV (Lost, Sopranos, Big Love, 24, Amazing Race, Scrubs, Gilmore Girls) and some baseball (again, not as much as I'd like). Plus, hitting shuffle on iTunes like a junkie. But I've also managed to do some different things over the past week or two...

I went to prom. Sadly, it's not a new experience for me. I went to two of them when I was in high school and this was my ninth as a chaperone. How do I get so lucky ever year? My wife is one of the junior class sponsors. Do I get to hang out and watch her dance in her cute dresses while she hangs out with the students? No. I get to eat quickly and then go to the lobby to make sure no one tries to leave before they are allowed to. Occasionally I escort someone to their car and make sure they don't grab any alcohol or pills or what have you. It can be interesting when something happens and there is usually an upset girl whose boyfriend is being a jerk. This year? Boring. No criers, even. That's a good thing, of course, but it made the hours go by that much slower. Oh well.

Last week I got to be a crossing guard. The regular guy went on vacation (fishing in Kentucky) and asked if I would fill in. We're friendly and I will walk with my son a couple days a week just to talk to the guy. Things went well the first three days but then the weather took a turn for the worse and I got to stand in the rain on Thursday and Friday. Not something I'd want to do on a regular basis. The good news? He paid me for it. The bad news? My wife is going to take it to help pay off some purchases. Oh well.

By the way, tomorrow brings the debut of The Raconteurs. Oh yeah!

My regular eMusic subscription hit its second cycle on April 15. I get 40 downloads a month for $9.99, have no complaints about the service at all, and would recommend it to those of you looking to get as much music as you can. Commercial over. I grabbed 4 albums this time around...

The Black Keys/Chulahoma - This is an EP of Junior Kimbrough covers. I like the Keys and this sounds good after a couple listens. Their new full-length should be out later this year too.

Centro-Matic/Love You Just the Same - I've rambled on about how much I love Fort Recovery and I had to go back and pick up some of their older work. This album is pretty darn great too.

The Essex Green/Cannibal Sea - Trevor put a track from this in his April mix and I liked it. What really sold it was hearing "Penny and Jack" on KEXP. It's a pop album with interplay between male and female voices. How can I resist?

The Black Angels/Passover - I first heard this band on KEXP last year and really liked the songs off their self-titled EP. I never did get around to buying that but three of the songs are on the new full-length. It's heavy rock in the Velvet Underground vein, hypnotic and catchy (though it can blend together a bit). I also grabbed the remaining tune from the EP.

My new download period started today and I'm not sure what I'll pick up. But that's the fun, isn't it?

I made my open mic debut at Front Porch Music on May 4, as promised. It's the longest-standing open mic place in Valpo, though there are now several. I've also been going there the longest, since about 1993, so it was nice to finally get up on stage and perform myself. Once again I played "Lonely Holiday" (Old 97s) and my first original, "Woke Up." I forgot what verse I was on in the former and missed some chord changes in the latter but it went well on the whole. Jane, one of the owners, told me she liked my song and wanted to hear it again. That made me happy.

On Sunday, May 7, I was supposed to have my first band practice with Graham. He was going to come over and we were going to work on adding bass and keys to some of his songs. He called in the morning and said the drummer wanted to come too, which was fine by me. Graham arrived first and we unloaded the gear and set up the mikes and amps and our back porch, then he started teaching me one of his newest songs. Tom (the drummer) came as we were doing that and we got his electronic kit set up. We were ready to go. We started on the song I was learning - "Jews and Gypsies." It didn't sound too bad and the first pass. What was cool for me is that I thought a small desending bass run would sound good and actually executed it. We worked on it a few more times, getting in and out of a slow part and such, and had it sounding quite good. My neighbor was yelling encouragment too. We worked on a few more songs with varying degrees of success (I came up with a solid keyboard riff for another song and my harmony contributions worked out pretty well). We played "Jews and Gypsies" one more time and called it a day. It was so much fun.

I had come up with a simple chord change on my guitar that day and a melody presented itself. By Monday night I'd come up with a first verse; Tuesday morning brought the second; and Wednesday gave me the rest of the song. It was as easy as "Woke Up." By contrast, I'm still at a loss for some lyrics on a third song. Anyway, "That's Okay" stands as the second song I've written.

I was back at Front Porch this past Thursday and had even more people in the audience watching me - my boss and co-workers and their friends and husband in one case. I started off with "Woke Up" again and did better than the week before, though I was still missing that one chord change from A to D - too keyed up, I think. I decided I should play "That's Okay" too and it went very well. My cheering section all said I did very well and I got another positive response from Jane, who liked the new one and heard more in the first one.

On Saturday I packed up the keyboard (which Graham had loaned me so I could work on the songs) and an amp and went down to Wheatfield (Graham's house) for another Livid Penny practice. Tom got there right after me and we set up down in the basement. I used a different bass and played with a shoulder strap for the first time. We started with "Jews and Gypsies" and it was as good as where we left it. We worked on three more songs and got two more worked up pretty well - "Puppet on a String" and "Tempo." After we were done my head was stuffed full of music. I think I did well, considering it was only my second time in any kind of band situation. I'll practice this week and we'll do it again on Saturday. And I'm back to Front Porch on Thursday too.

I'm having a blast doing this...