Monday, December 31, 2007


Here it is, the roundup you've been waiting for! You're getting all the numbers for my pop culture consumption in 2007. It's a stat geek's dream! Enough hype, let's get to the data...

I read 44 books in 2007, which was 4 more than the goal I set for myself at the beginning of the year (and 6 more than last year). The biggest month was October, when I read 6 books. The smallest month was February, when I read 1 book plus a portion of another. I read 19 books in the first half of the year and 25 in the second half. Even more interesting is that I read 20 books from Aug. 27 to Dec. 23 (a span of 4 months), which means I've averaged 5 books a month over that time period. That goes a long way in showing that my reading levels have been as much about what I could afford as anything over the last 6 years, since once I started getting books from the library I've increased my output tremendously. It will be interesting to see how that carries over to next year. Oh, I also abandoned 2 books during the year. My average books read per month for 2007 was 3.67.

I read 216 short stories in 2007. I didn't have any goals, nor did I keep track of those stats for the whole year in 2006. The biggest month was November, when I read 30 stories. The smallest month was May, when I read 7 stories. I read 89 stories in the first half of the year and 127 in the second half, which means that I was also increasing my story output along with my books output (though there were a number of stories read that were also in books I read). The stories came from 11 issues of Asimov's, 12 issues of F&SF, and 4 books. I also abandoned 4 stories during the year. My average stories read per month for 2007 was 18.

I read 119 comics in 2007, of which 27 were trades or OGNs. Again, I didn't have any goals and didn't keep any stats for comics in 2006. The biggest month was March, when I read 24 comics (4 trades or OGNs). The smallest month was October, when I didn't read any comics. I read 4 trades or OGNs four separate times (March, May, June, and July). I read 85 comics (19 trades or OGNs) in the first half of the year and 34 comics (8 trades or OGNs) in the second half, which means I really tailed off in my comics reading. That's a direct result of the new budget we instituted in August. My average comics read per month for 2007 was 9.92 (7.67 for single issues and 2.25 for trades and OGNs).

I bought, downloaded, or received 110 CDs in 2007, which is 3 more than in 2006. I didn't have any goals, other than to hear as much music as possible. 74 of those CDs were downloaded and 14 of the grand total were EPs; I also downloaded 14 songs, either singles or songs from singles or other EPs. The biggest months were May and June, when I got 13 CDs in each month. The smallest months were February, July, and August, when I got 6 CDs in each month. The download high was 10 in September; the download low was 2 in March. I got 60s CDs in the first half of the year (35 downloaded, which is 58.3%) and 50 CDs (39 downloaded, which is 78%) in the second half, a trend that can also be linked to the new budget. My average CDs bought, downloaded, or received per month is 2007 was 9.17 (3 physical CDs and 6.17 downloads).

I saw 14 movies in the theater in 2007. That is more than I've seen a year in a long time, though I don't have any actual data on that. I didn't keep track of my monthly totals until July, in which I saw 3 movies. That means I saw 11 movies in the first half of the year and only 3 in the second half. Budget, anyone? My average movies seen in the theater per month in 2007 was 1.17.

That's everything I kept track of this year. I plan on keeping track of all this information in 2008 as well and I may add more categories. I know it's a lot of numbers and fairly anal retentive but I like doing it.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Yes, it's time for the last roundup of 2007...or is it? I'm actually going to talk about December now and will do a full breakdown on the year a little later. A little two for the price of one action on New Year's Eve. I've been reading magazines for the last few days, trying to catch up a bit, so I know these numbers are set in stone (the DVD watching is still not complete for the year but I wasn't keeping strict track anyway).

I read 4+ books in December; I finished Remainder (of which I'd read about 90 pages in November) and also read Hartsburg, USA, Dreamsongs: Vol. 1, Slam, and The Spiral Labyrinth.

I read 29 stories in December, a total which includes the whole of Dreamsongs: Vol. 1 and the Dec. 2007 issue of F&SF.

I read 8 comics in December - 6 of them single issues (3 each of Action Comics and Booster Gold), 1 OGN (Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together), and 1 trade (Jack of Fables Vol. 2: Jack of Hearts).

I bought, downloaded, or received 11 CDs in December as well as downloading a single song ("Surf City Eastern Bloc" from Arcade Fire's No Cars Go single). Hmm, when was the last time I did an eMusic download update?

I didn't see any movies in the theater in December.

As far as DVDs go, I know that I watched The Squid and the Whale and Once. Grant and I watched some more of The Simpsons Season 9 and I watched most of The Simpsons Movie with him on Christmas Day. Jill and I have gotten through most of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Seasons 1 & 2 and will probably finish it this evening (except for a commentary...maybe). She's also talking about watching Superbad, so that will most likely happen tonight as well. That's about it.

I read quite a few comics in 2007, though I didn't really nearly as much as I wanted to (never do). I read a mix of ongoing comics and trades (or OGNs), so this list cobbles together the best of all of them...

1. Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together
2. Booster Gold
3. All-Star Superman
4. Nexus Archives
5. Fables/Jack of Fables
6. Immortal Iron Fist: The Last Iron Fist Story
7. Doctor Strange: The Oath
8. Justice Society of America
9. 52
10. Batman

When you read over 200 stories a year, it's hard to remember all of them. I don't know that this will be a strict top ten, although the top story is definitely the best story I've read this year. Otherwise, these are the stories I remember most from the past year...

1. "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" by Ted Chiang
2. "Unpossible" by Daryl Gregory
3. "Urdumheim" by Michael Swanwick
4. "Jesus Christ, Reanimator" by Ken MacLeod
5. "Don't Ask" by M. Rickert
6. "Voluntary Committal" by Joe Hill
7. "Yellow Card Man" by Paolo Bacigalupi
8. "The Ice Dragon" by George R.R. Martin
9. "I, Row-Boat" by Cory Doctorow
10. "X-Country" by Robert Reed
TV 2007

I watched a lot of TV in 2007, which is nothing new. Here are the shows I liked the best and the characters from each show who are a big part of the reason I watch...

1. The Wire - Lester Freamon
2. The Office - Dwight Schrute
3. Lost - John Locke
4. Flight of the Conchords - Jemaine and Bret
5. It's Always Sunny in Phildelphia - Charlie Kelly
6. 30 Rock - Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy
7. Doctor Who - Rose Tyler
8. Chuck - Chuck Bartowski
9. Battlestar Galactica - Starbuck
10. Torchwood - Gwen Cooper

I saw more movies in the theater this year than I have in years and years. However, I haven't been to the movies since the end of July. Thanks to Netflix I've caught some other movies that I missed, though I still haven't seen Superbad or The Bourne Ultimatum or No Country For Old Men or Juno or Walk Hard, to name five. I'm also going to include a movie on my list that didn't release widely until earlier this year, though it was nominated for Oscars last's that good.

1. Knocked Up
2. Children of Men
3. Ratatouille
4. Zodiac
5. 300
6. Transformers
7. The Simpsons Movie
8. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
9. Once
10. Grindhouse

Sunday, December 30, 2007


It's the last Sunday Shuffle of the year and it's been an eventful day. We got home last night to find that our furnace had stopped working, so we cranked up the electric blankets and hunkered down to sleep. The repair man arrived before 7:30 and got the heat working by 9:00. Whew. Anyway, here's the music one more time in 2007...

1. Rain/Bishop Allen (6) - also on the iPod
2. Sugar Never Tasted So Good/The White Stripes (5)
3. Dress Me Like a Clown/Margot & the Nuclear So & So's (9)
4. Gonna Break Into Your Heart/Earlimart (10) - also on the iPod
5. Song for a Clock/Portastatic (16)
6. Loss Leaders/Spoon (15)
7. Car Radio (Different)/Spoon (3)
8. The Ghost of You Lingers/Spoon (13) - also on the iPod
9. Baby and the Band/Imperial Teen (5)
10. Placemat Blues/Slobberbone (13)

Saturday, December 29, 2007


New comics day was delayed until Friday this week due to Christmas and I actually bought multiple comics. Actually, I bought two comics and three trades (thanks for the Christmas comics cash, Mom and Dad!)...can't remember the last time I bought that much at once. Plus, I got Previews and the new issue of Wizard, which is the 2008 preview issue (I'm a sucker for a preview issue). I love comics.

So, Action Comics #860 is the third part of the "Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes" storyline and I just have two words: Shadow Lass. Okay, I have more but the appearance of the sexy Shadow Lass as drawn by Gary Frank was really cool. Okay, it was great to see Polar Boy and Night Girl and Timber Wolf and everyone as well. Some fight scenes and character moments and an ending that further complicates things just give it that much more. Three more issues to go and I can't wait to see where it goes.

Hmm, I guess it was a Geoff Johns day because I also picked up Booster Gold #3 (thank you, reorders!) and have now read every issue of the series, albeit out of order. This issue saw Booster going back and getting drunk with Jonah Hex and ties into The Kents maxi-series from the late 90s (which I never did read). Plus, another encounter with Supernova and some complications for Booster's ancestor and some nifty Dan Jurgens art. Not the best issue of the series but still highly enjoyable.

When I get around to reading the trades, you'll hear about it. Next year, most likely.

Friday, December 28, 2007

F&SF DEC. 2007

The highlight of the Dec. 2007 issue of F&SF is definitely M. Rickert's "Don't Ask." No surprise there, as Rickert is one of the best writers working today. This story is about a town that had boys stolen by wolves years ago and what happens after their return. It's creepy and sad and wise, plus it's told in the third person. One of the best stories I've read all year.

That's not to say there weren't other worthy stories in this issue. No, no. I was particularly taken with the cover story, "Finisterra" by David Moles. Its narrative is told within the framework of a truly alien world that is all air (it's called Sky) and it's landmasses are islands that float through the sky. Highly original. David Marusek's "Osama Phone Home" tells the tale of capable people who decided to do something about tracking down Osama bin Laden through the use of crazy technology...and how it ultimately backfires on them. And "Stray" by Benjamin Rosenbaum and David Ackert is about an immortal who falls in love with a black woman and has to learn to give up his ways.

"Who Brought Tulips to the Moon?" by S.L. Gilbow had its moments and some interesting ideas but it stayed on the surface of things and didn't quite earn the surprise ending. Frederic S. Durbin's "The Bone Man" had some nice atmosphere and writing about an amoral man learning about a local legend but I didn't care for the ending so much either.

Books columns, Lucius Shepard on films, and some Plumage From Pegasus by Paul Di Filippo round out the issue. Overall, another solid issue with the Rickert leading the way.
BOOKS 2007

With only four days left to go in 2007, I am officially done with reading books for the year. On Dec. 2 I finished my 40th book of the year, meeting my goal for the year. Since then I've read an additional 4 books for a grand total of 44 (I also abandoned 2 books during the year). As usual I read a wide variety of books, from short story collections to literary fiction to SF to fantasy to horror to non-fiction; I read many books that came out this year, many from past years, and even reread books for the first time since I started with a goal for the year. Here's a list of the ten books that I enjoyed the most in 2007...

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
2. The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon
3. Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman
4. Here, There & Everywhere by Chris Roberson
5. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
6. Halting State by Charles Stross
7. I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle
8. Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield
9. Brasyl by Ian McDonald
10. You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem

Thursday, December 27, 2007


The other week I mentioned that Jill had gotten up at 4:30 on a Sunday in her quest to get a Wii for Christmas, a quest which was a success. That was the present that anchored Christmas for our son and he was suitably excited. We've all gotten into it, playing a lot of Wii Sports (which came with the console). We've bowled and boxed and played golf (and Grant has played baseball too). It's been lots of fun.

As for me, I received tons of gifts - DVDs, CDs, a book, a shirt, and a passel full of gift cards and cash. I'm going to be able to augment my entertainment spending for a few months, which is awesome. Thanks to everyone who gave me a gift!

Oh, and we got news from my cousin Ryan that he got engaged to his girlfriend Katie on Christmas Eve as well. Looks like we'll be heading to Baltimore some time in 2009 - congratulations, you two!

Hope everyone else had a great holiday as well!

About a week ago, I got around to watching Once. It's a musical but a musical in which the music is completely organic to the story. It's about an unnamed musician who works in his father's vacuum repair shop and also busks on the street; he's trying to futher his musical career. One day he meets an unnamed girl who turns out to be a piano player. The story is about their relationship, both real and musical. In fact, the music-making often says what they can't actually say to each other and neither is really in the position to give themselves to the other. It's all done in a subtle fact, it's a really low-key film. The performances by Glen Hansard (the lead singer of The Frames) and Marketa Irglova are very charming and real and the music stays in your head, especially "Falling Slowly" and "When Your Mind's Made Up." I'm not a fan of musicals but I would watch more stuff like this with no hesitation.

On Sunday I finished the last book I'm reading this year, The Spiral Labyrinth by Matthew Hughes. It's another short novel in the Hengis Hapthorn series and the first couple chapters were published earlier this year in F&SF as "Sweet Trap." Hapthorn and Osk Rievor are still dealing with their shared cohabitation of the same body and Rievor is keen to investigate magic. This leads to the two being separated into two bodies and leaves Hapthorn stranded in the future where magic has fully taken over. He has to navigate this landscape and eventually to deal with a future version of a symbiote that has grown in knowledge and capabilities over the centuries. I think if you like Hughes' tales of Old Earth, you'd like this one too. It's readable and fun and a pleasant way to spend a couple days.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


I've got a cold that turns into a cough at times and I haven't slept very well for a week. On the plus side, it's almost Christmas! My brother has arrived my NJ and my cousin drove up from Evansville (though she has to leave tomorrow and work on Christmas...she's a newspaper photographer), so we've spent some time together already. I have to get up early to be at the Y at 4:45 tomorrow morning so I can open the pool but I'll be done at 8:30. A nice little nap will get me set for the party after church and then on to Christmas day. Anyway, enough about me; here's the music...

1. All The Things That Go To Make Heaven And Earth/New Pornographers (13)
2. No Name #6/Elliott Smith (8)
3. Love In Mind/Neil Young (3)
4. Mr. Tough/Yo La Tengo (15)
5. Cherbourg/Beirut (3)
6. Personal/Stars (4)
7. Red Right Ankle/The Decemberists (8)
8. Pretty in Pink (live)/The National (2)
9. Dead Man/M. Ward (8)
10. If It Works/Tokyo Police Club (10)

Friday, December 21, 2007

MUSIC 2007

I may be one of the last bloggers to get around to my list of top ten CDs for the year. That's okay, it's not like I'm on the cutting edge. I thought it was a really good year for music and it was hard to pare things down to the best 10. Or my favorite 10...however you want to call it. My favorite artist released a new album this year and it's quite good but it didn't make the list. Sorry, Bruce. Sorry also to Dinosaur Jr. and A.A. Bondy and Sea Wolf and Pela and Elliott Smith and Kings of Leon and John Vanderslice and Sloan and Bishop Allen (though you guys made it last year with different versions of many of the songs off your album). Here's what did make the cut...

1. Wilco/Sky Blue Sky
2. Spoon/Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
3. New Pornographers/Challengers
4. The National/Boxer
5. Radiohead/In Rainbows
6. Arcade Fire/Neon Bible
7. The Broken West/I Can't Go On I'll Go On
8. Band of Horses/Cease to Begin
9. Okkervil River/The Stage Names
10. The Shins/Wincing the Night Away

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Last night I finished my 43rd book of the year, by a writer responsible for one of my all-time favorite books. That's Nick Hornby and the book is High Fidelity, of course. The unfortunate thing is that I've liked each of his books a little less than the previous one, though I've still enjoyed them. He recently published his first novel for young adults, Slam.

It's the story of Sam Jones, a sixteen year-old skater (that's skateboarding) who lives in London and meets a gorgeous girl, Alicia Burns. They spend too much time together and then they drift apart. One problem. She's pregnant. So it's the story of what happens. Sounds fairly straight-forward and it's written in Hornby's usual style of the narrator questioning everything that happens in life. One difference here is that Sam talks to a poster of Tony Hawk and the poster answers back (well, mentions pertinent parts of his autobiography anyway). Oh, and the poster appears to send Sam into his own future a couple of times. That makes things interesting and means that I'll probably remember more about the book than say, Long Way Down or How To Be Good. So yeah, it's worth a read and I'll keep on reading Hornby.

I also started on a new trade paperback last night and finished it up just over an hour ago. It is the 12th collection of material from Bill Willingham's long-running Fables series, although this is from a spin-off of the main series. I'm talking about Jack of Fables Vol. 2: Jack of Hearts, which collects six issues (#6-11) of the current ongoing series. The opening story (which seems to have been split between issues #6 and #11) is about how Jack became Jack Frost and is a fun tale of lust and betrayal and Jack's own moral code (or lack of one) leading him astray yet again. The other story (which took up issues #7-10) is the titular "Jack of Hearts," which finds Jack waking up married in Vegas and involves Lady Luck, who has been dealing with all the casinos and cops in the area to suit her own needs. Jack's sidekick Gary (the Pathetic Fallacy) takes up with a mannequin and Jack finds himself really liking his wife, not only for the fact that she's gorgeous and rich. He takes some measure of revenge when she's killed by Belgians. Oh, and there's a lucky horseshoe as well. Anyway, Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges have fun with this comic and the conventions of storytelling, ably abetted by a variety of artists...not to mention the stunning cover work of James Jean. Good stuff.

I forgot to mention an album in my heavy rotation post last week - Sloan's Twice Removed. The songs have wormed there way into my head completely at this point, especially "Coax Me." Today I've gone back and listened to Never Hear the End of It (which I really should consider for my top ten of 2007) and One Chord To Another. And now I'm thinking I should use some of my eMusic downloads to grab another one. Hmm, might just do that.

Monday, December 17, 2007


A couple months back I wrote about the return of Booster Gold to the ranks of monthly comics. I liked the series a lot but only read the first two issues when we realized we needed to watch our spending a bit more closely. In the past couple months, I've figured out how to work the entertainment spending a little bit (see my recent post about Action Comics) and went to the store to pick up Booster Gold #5.

The cover catches the eye immediately - the Joker is pointing a camera and reflected in the lens are Booster and Batgirl (the original Batgirl, Barbara Gordon). It's a take on Batman: The Killing Joke, the one-shot from the late 80s where Alan Moore had the Joker cripple Batgirl. And that's the time period Booster travels to in this issue; Rip Hunter sends him back to save her from the bullet. Booster fails. And has Rip send him back again and again and again, trying desperately to defeat the Joker. In the end, he finds out that Rip is trying to make a point - not all time can be changed, some things are fixed points. It's a testament to Booster's determination and heroism that he keeps trying and it makes for a strong issue. And that's not even touching on the villainous trio of Ultra-Humanite, Per Degaton, and Despero, or the ending. I know the comics shop has #4 still on the shelves and I'm gonna have to try and find #3 as well. This is what makes me love super-hero comics and the DC Universe.

Last night Jill and I finally got around to our latest DVD from Netflix, The Squid and the Whale. It's the story of a family going through a divorce - the narcissistic father, the mother desperate from attention, and the two boys trying to figure out who they are by which parent they're like. None of the characters are particularly nice and it's a fairly depressing story. However, it is watchable - not only for the performances of Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney (and the kids) but for the way it's shot and the way the music works with it. This was Noah Baumbach's first film; his second, Margot at the Wedding, is out now.

Speaking of DVDs, Grant and I are once again making progress on The Simpsons Season 9 with only two episodes left on the second disc. It's interesting watching these episodes because this may be the first season we've watched where I haven't seen most of the episodes multiple times. There are some here I've seen maybe two or three times before if even that.

Today I have the day off - the first day other than a Sunday that I've not had to go into the Y since early September, not counting Thanksgiving break. Classes are done for three weeks. I will be doing some lifeguarding shifts over that time period but nothing at all today or Wednesday (and just a short time tomorrow). I'm going to use the time to catch up on my DVR and try to finish the two books that are due this Wednesday (I'm about 60 pages into the one). I'm also caught up with my Entertainment Weekly reading, ready to start the issue that arrived on Saturday (other magazines...not so much). Oh, and some last stuff for Christmas. I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


I recently finished a big collection of stories by George R.R. Martin, Dreamsongs: Volume 1. The only Martin I've read before this was his occasional story in an SF mag and his work in (and editing on) the Wild Cards series, which mixed alternate history and super-heroes to captivate me in the early 90s (late 80s?). I've been hearing great things about his ongoing fantasy series "A Song of Fire and Ice" and thought I would just dive right into his breadth of material (there is a second volume as well, which came out a few weeks after the first).

The book is broken up into five themed sections and each has an accompanying essay where Martin talks about his background and the formation of the stories in that section. We get a section of his early stories written for comics fanzines, his first sales as a pro, science fiction, fantasy, and horror (with is often cross-bred with another genre).

We get the mood piece of "With Morning Comes Mistfall" and the love story of two telepaths on an alien world of "A Song for Lya." There's the loneliness and weirdness of "The Stone City" and the look at the future of religion in "The Way of Cross and Dragon." There's the dark fable of "In the Lost Lands" and the heart-breakingly wonderful "The Ice Dragon." And that doesn't even cover the delicious horrors of "Nightflyers" and "Sandkings" and so much more.

Martin knows how to unspool a plot and he knows how to write about people, whether human or alien. He knows how to tell a story and this book has almost 700 pages of them. I can't wait to read the next volume and I'll probably dive into "A Song of Fire and Ice" next year too. Great stuff.

Bit of a later start than usual - it's 1:30. Why? Well, Jill got up at 4:30 this morning to shovel and then go get in a line at K-Mart for a Nintendo Wii. It was our second real shot at it - I was second in line when the shipment arrived at Game Stop on Friday...but they didn't have any. K-Mart was opening at 6:00 this morning and had advertised them; Jill was given a ticket and waited in the car until they openned. She got one and was back home by 6:30. So, Christmas is officially made.

Beyond that, we got tons of snow overnight and had lots to dig and snowblow out. Our neighbor had a heart attack earlier this week, so we took care of her house as well as ours. It took Jill and I working together almost 2 hours to get it all done. Then we had to run to the grocery store and eat lunch and here it is heading towards the middle of the afternoon.

Anyway, here's 10 random songs from iTunes...

1. Been There All the Time/Dinosaur Jr. (5) - also on the iPod
2. Isn't Life Strange?/The Clientele (8)
3. I Was Meant for the Stage/The Decemberists (8)
4. Van Occupanther/Midlake (7) - also on the iPod
5. Sugar Never Tasted So Good/The White Stripes (4)
6. We Were Patriots/The Mountain Goats (8)
7. Golden Eyes/Sloan (11)
8. wordgamething/Kathleen Edwards (7)
9. 30 Gallon Tank/Spoon (4) - from the 30 Gallon Tank EP
10. The Swish/The Hold Steady (33)

Friday, December 14, 2007


I've been reading and working and getting holiday errands done. Watching TV. I should get back to more content next week but for now here's what I haven't been able to stop listening to lately...

A.A. Bondy/American Hearts
Tim O'Reagan/Tim O'Reagan
Radiohead/all the albums

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I just read my 200th story of the year, "The Way of Cross and Dragon" by George R.R. Martin. Today is day #345 of the year, which means I've average about .58 stories read per day this year. That's not too bad. Of course, I'm still not done. I have more than 300 pages left in this story collection by Martin (which is due on Thursday!) and will probably get to some more SF mags before the end of the year too. The average might come up a bit...I might make it up to 220 stories or so by the time it's done.

And now back to reading...

Sunday, December 09, 2007


It's another progress report weekend, my last for 2007. I've already done 5 classes worth and want to get through 4 more today (one of which has 8 students and another that has 6). That will take care of all my normal classes and would leave 4 classes that I had to take in my capacity as the assistant in charge of swimming lessons, which I can do as the week progresses.

This also happens to be my 400th post to this blog and it's appropriate that it's a Sunday Shuffle, as today's edition means 16.75% off all my posts have been Sunday Shuffles. It took me 5 months and 3 days to get from #300 to #400, after taking 5 months and 1 day to get from #200 to #300. Guess I've been pretty consistent.

Anyway, here is today's batch of 10 songs...

1. Don't Be Denied/Neil Young (3)
2. The Thanks I Get/Wilco (5)
3. Jeff Buckley Moves to Memphis (2001 Demo)/The Prayers & Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (11)
4. Candy Cane Crawl/The Twilight Singers (13)
5. Change My Life/Spoon (12)
6. Cheer It On/Tokyo Police Club (12)
7. Astro/The White Stripes (4)
8. Shaken Baby/Pernice Brothers (10)
9. I Understand/Sloan (13)
10. Soft & Warm/Voxtrot (5)

I was having a dream this morning that I was hanging out with my mom playing the guitar. I accidentally bumped into her leg and started singing a little couplet about it. I liked the couplet and soon I was writing it down in my notebook, though I wasn't writing very legibly. I was also playing some chords that I was working on the other day and it fit with a melody I was playing with. Then I woke up. I remembered the lyrics and after a minute I'd thought of another couplet to go with it. I'm just amazed. If this song works out, I'll have started it in a dream singing off the top of my head. Wow.

Speaking of wow, my wife's friend just called (at 7:30 on a Sunday morning) to see if she wants to go to Indianapolis with her. Why? Heather is taking her daughter and her daughter's friend to go see Hannah Montanna and her cousin bailed on her. So, Jill is going to give up her day to go see Hannah Montanna. It's already a very odd day.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


Grant and I had a fair amount of time where we were the only two home today and we used that opportunity to catch up on some cartoon watching.

This morning we watched an episode of Legion of Super-Heroes from last Saturday, where Superman and some others shrank into the bottle city of Kandor to fight against Imperiex. Brianiac 5 delved into a subroutine and was possibly corrupted by the original Brianiac...something to watch in future episodes. It was a solid episode.

This afternoon we watched today's rerun of Karate Kid's induction into the Legion (we'd missed it the first go-around). It had Grimbor as the villain, who I remember from the comics, and also saw the induction of Nemesis Kid (that won't end well). It also had a nice spotlight on Chameleon Boy and a glimpse of some other old favorites during a quick Legion audition scene. Everything was great, except for another appearance by Imperiex - they have used him waaaay too much this year. Still, I'll take it to have the Legion on TV.

Tonight we decided to delve back into The Simpsons Season 9. I wasn't sure where we'd left off in listening to the commentaries; we started on "Lisa's Sax" but I remembered the opening lines and we moved along. We actually did three commentaries tonight (on "Treehouse of Horror VIII," "The Cartridge Family," and "Bart Star"), finishing off disc 1 after more than 3 months. Really, we need to make more of an effort.

We are now all caught up on stuff from the DVR and we might actually get in a rhythm of watching some more of The Simpsons. It would be fun.

I've mentioned several times that I trace my love for comics back to Legion of Super-Heroes #272 back when I was in 4th grade. I remained a huge fan of the myriad heroes of the 30th century throughout my first phase of fandom and it was the first comic I checked in on when I came back to comics in 1994. Later that year, the series was relaunched and my Legion was no more. I still followed the series for many more years, eventually losing track as I made the switch to buying only trades. A third relaunch occurred a few years back; I reviewed the first collection of that series a few months back.

Earlier this year, member of the original Legion made a reappearance in the pages of JLA and JSA, in a five-part crossover that culminated in the return of Wally West, the Flash. Now a new story, "Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes," is running in Action Comics and I have decided I couldn't wait for a trade, making the first two parts (#858 and #859) my first single issue purchases in three months.

The story (written by Geoff Johns) begins with a couple on an alien planet in 3008 who make the decision to send their son to Earth, since it had worked out well long ago for Superman (who still remains "the ultimate symbol for truth, justice, and the universal way"). This time it doesn't work out, as the Ma and Pa Kent-like couple who find the kid make the decision to kill it...something is amiss in the 31st century.

Cut to the present, where Clark Kent is ignored by his colleagues trying to join them on the elevator; soon is being lectured by Perry White that he needs to have friends other than Jimmy Olsen. He's saved by the appearance of Brianiac rampaging through Metropolis (a gigantic Brianiac no less!) and goes off to fight. Turns out it's not really Brianiac - it's Brainiac 5 from the Legion - and he helps Clark remember his past (lonely before meeting the Legion). Now the future needs Superman's help and Clark jumps in the time sphere to come help.

Superman lands in Legion HQ but he is attacked by the Science Police and subsequently rescued by Colossal Boy, Dawnstar, and Wildfire. They try to send him back but the time sphere is destroyed; even worse, Superman learns the sun is red and he has no powers.

In the next issue, we start to get some answers as to why he is in danger in the 31st century. His legacy has been distorted and his name used to drive aliens away from Earth and for Earth to secede from the United Planets. Earth is being policed by the Justice League, a group of Legion rejects (we see them defeat Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl in the remains of the Batcave). Of course, Superman still wants to help and sets out with the three Legionnaires who rescued him to try and find Brianiac 5 (who's been missing for months).

Obviously, I'm hooked. I'm looking forward to seeing what other glimpses we get of my old favorites and where the story goes and hoping that this could lead to a new series chronicling the ongoing adventures of my Legion. The art by Gary Frank and inker Jon Sibal is very dynamic - Dawnstar has rarely looked better. It's a good package all the way around and I wish I didn't have to wait until a few days after Christmas for the next installment. But I do.

Friday, December 07, 2007


As promised, I dove right into my stack of library books this week, not content to rest on meeting my goal of 40 books read. At the top of the pile was Hartsburg, USA by David Mizner. I started it on Monday and read 36 pages and thought about abandoning it, as it covered some similar territory to The Abstinence Teacher. I picked it back up on Tuesday and read 80 pages or so, then 100 on Wednesday, and finally just over 140 last night. Obviously, I felt it was worth continuing.

It's the story of a school board race in the titular town (which is in Ohio). One candidate is Bevy Baer, running on a platform of good Christian values (she wants intelligent design taught in schools, homosexuality to not be mentioned, etc.); the other is Wallace Cormier, who is running on the fact that truths should be taught and religion should stay out of it. The novel is pretty balanced - each candidate's humanity, good and bad, comes out and we learn a lot about their families and other members of the town (the war in Iraq hangs heavy in the 2003 of the novel). Bevy has a past that comes back to haunt her in more ways than one and Wallace loses his way and stoops to low levels of campaigning.

It's a good book and serves as a reminder that people (red state or blue state) are people.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


As I mentioned, we watched Futurama: Bender's Big Score last week. It's an original DVD and marks the return of the series after an absence of a couple years (and four seasons worth of episodes). It's a little odd watching Futurama for almost an hour-and-a-half (these new movies will be broken up into 4 eps each for TV) but it's a very welcome return. The plot features alien scam artist, time travel, marital problems, unrequited love, beheadings, and all sorts of fun. Many, many characters and situations from the whole run of the series are present and it makes the whole thing just that much more fun. I haven't gotten around to any of the extras yet but I will soon. If you were a fan of the series, buy this. If you weren't, you should be. So get cracking.

I finally managed to get a copy of the new Scott Pilgrim comic, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together (the 4th volume of the series). I've extolled the virtues of Bryan Lee O'Malley's series before and this new offering deserves all the same praise. How can you argue against a comic with half-ninjas, rock-and-roll, subspace, characters gaining experience points like in video games, and more. Plus, Scott really does start to get it together...he even gets a job! This is one of the best comics going right now and everyone should be reading it. I turned my brother onto it earlier this year and I'm ready for another victim. Let it be you.

This morning I found out (via Chromewaves - link at the right) that Gary Louris is finally releasing a solo album on Feb. 19. Yay! You can go listen to some songs at his MySpace.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


My second post to this blog (a little over two years ago) was about how I had finally achieved my reading goal of 36 books in a year. It had taken me five years to reach that goal, having set it in 2001. At the time, I suggested I would easily reach 40 books read on the year, having more than a month-and-a-half left in the year in which to read. Well, I didn't. I only made it to 38 books and so set a new goal of 40 books at the start of 2006. I only made it to 38 books again. By finishing Remainder by Tom McCarthy a short while ago, I have now read 40 books this year (16 of them since Aug. 27).

Remainder is about a man who had an accident and remembers little about his life. He was hit by something that fell from the sky, was in a coma for a long time, and has had to relearn how to do simple activities such as eating a carrot. He receives a settlement of 8 1/2 million pounds and is not sure what to do with the money, until he sees a crack in someone's bathroom and it sets off a vision of a place where his movements were real. He employs a man (Naz) to help him recreate that vision, that space, those feelings. He buys a building and modifies it, hires people to reenact the events of his vision. Pretty soon, he is reenacting others events that happen to him and even events that he doesn't even witness. He starts falling into trances and all of the planning has an affect on Naz as well. By the end, they take decide to transplant a reenactment to real life. The book is disturbing and odd and wonderfully human as well. It describes things in minute detail and yet is never boring. While reading it yesterday, I felt like I was a visitor in my own house. Something very different.

So, I've finished 40 books with four weeks left to go in the year. I have 4 books from the library still to be read. Will I be able to read one a week? I'm gonna try.

I read about 150 pages of Remainder yesterday; watched Pushing Daisies, 30 Rock, and Scrubs; and finished most of an issue of Entertainment Weekly. Pretty good. However, I recorded Doctor Who, Torchwood, and a Bob Dylan documentary and got an new EW, F&SF, and Discover in the mail. It's a neverending cycle. We had a big winter storm yesterday that was self-correcting - you can barely tell we had anything. Thank you, rising temperatures. Today is about laundry and big football games for both the Colts and Bears, as well as continuing my quest to catch up. While I get to work on all of that, here's 10 songs at random from iTunes...

1. Black/Okkervil River (8)
2. Insurance Fraud #2/The Mountain Goats (9)
3. How to Fight Loneliness (live)/Jeff Tweedy (7)
4. (Even If You Die On The) Ocean/Saturday Looks Good To Me (4) - also on the iPod
5. Bright Eyes Darkened/Slobberbone (15)
6. Island Garden Song/The Mountain Goats (8)
7. Money Making Money/Canasta (5)
8. Your Blood/Destroyer (10)
9. Cold Cold Heaven/Earlimart (9) - also on the iPod
10. The Monitor/Bishop Allen (6) - also on the iPod

Saturday, December 01, 2007


I greatly enjoyed Thanksgiving weekend, as previously mentioned. One side effect of the weekend was that I fell a bit more behind on my pop culture intake. I'd gotten myself caught up on my DVRed TV shows and Grant and I had made some headway in our DVRed shows. I only captured a handful of shows over last weekend and I did get some reading done on the trip as well. This week has put me even further behind - I've been at work twice a day all week and am going in this morning for 3+ hours as well.

I mentioned yesterday that I'd read about 90 pages of Remainder. I started it on Tuesday and have really been enjoying it...but I haven't read any of it since Wednesday. I have 4 more books stacked up as well as two issues of SF mags and the new Scott Pilgrim.

I'm still a couple weeks behind on EW. I've read the Springsteen/Win Butler interview in Spin but haven't looked at much of the rest. I have an issue of ESPN the Magazine, an issue of Discover, and I borrowed an issue of The Economist from my dad (why?). Bought the new Previews for the first time in a number of months too.

On the DVR I still have Battlestar Galactica: Razor and episodes of Reaper, Pushing Daisies, My Name Is Earl, 30 Rock, Scrubs, and Friday Lights. A second ep of Legion of Super-Heroes will be captured today, as will the season finale of Torchwood and the second season finale of Doctor Who.

Grant is getting on my case to get through some commentaries of Simpsons Season 9 so we can watch more episodes (I sometimes forget he hasn't seen most of them). I want to watch the extras on Futurama: Bender's Big Score and still haven't gotten around to the extras on Knocked Up either. Our Netflix movie is The Squid and the Whale, which I want to see.

So, I guess I should shut up and focus on getting through some of this. Today's already pretty busy, though. Oh well, I'll get to it all.