Thursday, January 31, 2008


I don't want to sound like an old person...but where the heck did January go? Wow. Anyway, I'm keeping track of my pop culture intake once again this year with a few new categories. Let's get to the numbers...

I read 4 books in January (Gentlemen of the Road; Dreamsongs: Volume II; Zeroville; and Bridge of Sighs). Actually, I had read those books by the 23rd and have spent the time since reading other things. The 4 books puts me on pace for 48 read this year, which is my goal. So far, so good. By way of comparison, I read only 2 books last January.

I read 19 stories in January. These stories came from Dreamsongs: Volume II; the Jan. 2008 issue of Asimov's; the Jan. 2008 issue of F&SF; and the Dec. 17, 2007 issue of The New Yorker. By way of comparison, I read 29 stories last January.

I read 7 comics in January, 4 of which were trades (Buffy the Vampire Slayer Vol. 1: The Long Way Home; Ex Machina Vol. 6: Power Down; The Walking Dead Vol. 6: This Sorrowful Life; and The Brave and the Bold Vol. 1: The Lords of Luck). By way of comparison, I read 16 comics (of which 3 were trades) last January.

I bought 2 CDs and downloaded 5 more, for a total of 7 new CDs in January. I also downloaded one song ("Ladies of Cambridge" by Vampire Weekend). By way of comparison, I got 9 new CDs (7 downloaded) last January.

I did not see any movies in the theater in January, which makes this the 6th straight month without going out to the movies. I didn't keep accurate track of the dates I saw movies until later in the year in 2007 but I know I saw one movie last January.

I have decided to start keeping track of DVDs again, a stat I didn't stick with last year. I had 10 separate DVD viewings in January - 5 movies (The Bourne Identity; The Bourne Supremacy; The Bourne Ultimatum; Runnin' Down A Dream - on two discs; and 3:10 to Yuma), 1 concert (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: The 30th Anniversary Concert), 1 episode of The Simpsons Season 9, and 2 commentaries with delted scenes (also on The Simpsons Season 9). That's about 1 every three days.

I have also decided to keep track of my TV viewing, though I have not kept track of any news, sports, or combinations of the two (which basically covers stuff like The Sports Reporters). I watched 30 episodes of shows in January (4 that ran for 2 hours; 19 that ran for 1 hour; and 7 that ran for a half hour). Those episodes were from 13 different shows (Biggest Loser; Doctor Who; Life on Mars; The Wire; Friday Night Lights; Amazing Race 12; Girls Next Door; 30 Rock; The Simpsons; My Name Is Earl; Chuck; Breaking Bad; and Lost). The show I watched the most episodes of was Biggest Loser, with 5 episodes. I watched about one TV show a day. I do have shows on the DVR going back 11 days; I watched the shows live, recorded on the DVR, and On Demand.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Over the last two days, I've been reading The Brave and the Bold Vol. 1: The Lords of Luck, which collects the first six issues of the ongoing series by Mark Waid and George Perez. I bought and read the first two issues when they came out before going back into more of a trade mode. I liked those two issues enough that I decided to buy this collection in hardcover, something I rarely do (having Barnes & Noble gift cards and a coupon helped as well). I was not disappointed.

The original Brave and the Bold series featured Batman and another hero; this new incarnation starts with Batman and Green Lantern teaming up but quickly spirals out from there, featuring Supergirl, Lobo, Blue Beetle, Adam Strange, The Legion of Super-Heroes, and more. The heroes are up against a variety of villains and weapons, including the stolen Book of Destiny (which tells you everything that has ever and will happen). It's got action and humor and character work and is drawn by George Perez, Mr. Super-Hero Comics. Seriously, I've loved Perez since the early 80s and New Teen Titans. I can't wait for the next collection!

Today I bought and read Action Comics #861, which is the fourth part of the Legion of Super-Heroes story and it's just as good as the rest have been. I hope this storyline leads to the return of that Legion. Please, DC. Please!

DC is bringing back an old favorite this summer - Ambush Bug! Yay! Read about it here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I'm still behind in my SF magazine reading but I've at least been able to read them in the month of their cover publication date. That has to count for something, right? Right? Anyway, here are some quick thoughts on the recently read Jan. 2008 issue of Asimov's.

The cover story this time out is "The Perfect Wave," a collaboration between Rudy Rucker and Marc Laidlaw. It's subcutlure SF, taking place in an establishment where you surf electronically and can design your own courses. Things get out of hand, of course, and it's a fairly cool idea. I think I may have liked it more had I read the story all the way through and not in bits and pieces like I did. Happens sometimes.

The next story was a bit more in my wheelhouse. Two old friends decided to seek out the magic store where they first met years ago in "Alastair Baffle's Emporium of Wonders" by Mike Resnick. They do find the shop, of course, and what happens next is quite entertaining. Well-written and fun.

Deborah Coates gives us the mood piece of "The Whale's Lover," which is the search for a leviathan and redemption. "The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald" by Tanith Lee tells the tale of an unusual plague in a way that things don't start to make sense until you get about halfway through the story. Will McIntosh looks at the strangeness of how the world works by throwing together two people whose proximity to each other makes everybody safer in "Unlikely." All three are good stories, with the McIntosh being my favorite.

The last story is the third part of Allen M. Steele's serialized novel Galaxy Blues, "Fool's Errand." Things get even more complicated amongst the aliens of the Talus and lead to an impossible situation. The next issue brings the last part and I'm looking forward to its conclusion.

Monday, January 28, 2008


That song was in my head this morning and I'm not sure why. Sure, I did watch Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: The 30th Anniversary Concert on Friday night (that's the extra DVD in the big documentary I watched a couple weeks ago) but that song wasn't played in the concert. It's also been a while since I listened to Southern Accents. But there I was on the lifeguard stand, filling in for someone who had a sick child, and that song was running through my head. Weird.

Last Thursday NBC ran the last two original episodes they had left of Chuck; we watched one that night and one the next. That is such a good show and I hope the strike ends soon to get more of that show or at least a full second season. It's got humor and action and character work and it's smart and fun. It's easily my favorite new show of the year.

I also got back to a favorite comic last week as well, with Walking Dead Vol. 6: This Sorrowful Life. It's been out for at least six months but my shop didn't order any until December and then I obviously didn't get around to it right away (I have Vol. 7 sitting in my pull file too). It's not a fun comic. In fact, it's very dark and this batch of issues really hits that home - torture and death and people starting to lose their humanity abound. There are one or two bright spots, at least, and the comic retains its high quality. I'm ready to read the next one in the next few weeks.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


I always think it's weird when we get to a Sunday without football even though the season isn't completely over. Ah well. I have to go somewhere this afternoon anyway. That means I've already started the cleaning and the laundry will be underway shortly but right now I'm getting the shuffle started...

1. Lazy Guy/Slobberbone (9)
2. Headed For a Fall/M. Ward (8)
3. Stickman/Elliott Smith (25)
4. Mornington Crescent/Belle and Sebastian (14)
5. Lucinda/Tom Waits (9)
6. The Room I'm Hiding In/Okkervil River (7)
7. Free Noise Among Friends/Thurston Moore (3) - also on the iPod
8. Non-Pythagorean Composition 3/Apples In Stereo (8)
9. Antarctica Starts Here/Okkervil River (4)
10. Cursed Mirror/Superchunk (8)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I just finished Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo a short while ago. It's a hefty book and a good one. What's it about? Optimism, pessimism, love, lust, the lies we tell each other and ourselves. What it means to call a place or people your home. It's the second of Russo's novels I've read (Empire Falls being the other) and I suppose I'll get around to his other work at some point. Wonder if this one will be adapted as well?

It's the 4th book I've read this year, which is a pretty good total. On the other hand, I have five SF magazines piled up and a couple of trades and a bunch of stuff on the DVR. I'll take the next week or so to sort through all of that before I pick up another book. Probably.

The last two days have also seen me pick up my first music of the new year - Drive-By Truckers (Brighter Than Creation's Dark) and The Whigs (Mission Control). The former is a long, sprawling record that will take a few more spins before I can get a handle on it but I've been enjoying it thus far; the latter is a really good rock record. More on both of those in the near future... or not. You know how it is.

And speaking of how it is, I'm about ready to go to bed. It's only 10:11 but hey, I'm tired. Why fight it?

Sunday, January 20, 2008


It is -4 as I start the shuffle and that's not the wind chill. On the plus side, I can't think of any reason why I have to go outside today. That's a good thing when it's this cold and there are two championship games on TV.

1. The Figures of Art/Spoon (12)
2. Chips and Dip/Spoon (14)
3. The Blonde In the Bleachers/Okkervil River (3)
4. I'm in Love (With Arthur Dove)/Portastatic (17)
5. Fireflies/The Drams (10)
6. Van Occupanther/Midlake (8) - also on the iPod
7. Poughkeepsie/The Lemonheads (9)
8. Just a Star/Canasta (7)
9. That Is All/Slobberbone (17)
10. Kingdom of Spain/The Decemberists (6)

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Jill and I watched 3:10 to Yuma last night and we liked it a lot. Russell Crowe and Christian Bale are excellent as two men on opposite sides of the law who see themselves in the other and there is a lot of great Western action - gun battles, horses, and so on. But as I thought about how I would review the movie for the blog, I instead started thinking about why I love pop culture. I love the variety.

It's not just the variety of the medium either, it's also the variety within those mediums. I don't understand people who stick to certain types of movies or books or music, people who will dismiss out-of-hand certain genres or say TV is a waste. Why would you want to cut out so many possibles or seeing or hearing and reading something new, something that could speak to you in a whole new way?

If I look at the pop culture I've ingested since the start of last weekend to right now, I find...

* Short stories from fantasy to SF to horror

* A four hour documentary on one of the great rock bands

* A trippy super-hero comic

* A show about teams racing around the world

* A show about Hugh Hefner and his girlfriends

* A book about a man obsessed with movies who discovers a secret about Movies

* A show about teams trying to lose as much weight as they can

* A super-hero comic about time travel, friendship, and the DC Universe

* Another comic about super-heroics and politics and an incursion from an alternate world

* A show about a cop who may have time-traveled to 1973

* A Western that is as much about character as about good versus evil

* A book about a man in upstate New York that I'm still sinking into

And that doesn't even mention the music, new and old. How can one resist? How can one not think about the possibilities of pop culture to come? I know I have a comic about zombies and more short stories and a bunch of new albums coming up in the very near future. I love pop culture. I love the variety. Man, I love the variety.

Friday, January 18, 2008


While I finished Zeroville, I snuck in some time to read the latest issue of Booster Gold (#6, in fact). Anyone who's been reading this blog knows how much I've been enjoying the ongoing relaunch of this series and this issue is no exception. In it, Booster travels back in time with a Blue Beetle from the past (Dan Garrett), a Blue Beetle from the present (Jaime Reyes), and a Blue Beetle from the future (?) to rescue his best friend, Ted Kord (who was also a Blue Beetle). Rip Hunter isn't happy about this and makes plans of his own. Is the group successful in saving Ted from Max Lord? Well, the next issue crosses over with 1994's Zero Hour and is teased as "Blue & Gold, Chapter One" so you be the judge!

Then last night after I finished Zeroville, I picked up Ex Machina: Power Down, the 6th volume of the ongoing series from Wildstorm. This is another comic I've talked about - it features a man who can talk to machines, and traded super-heroics for being mayor of New York. Powers and politics, yay! This volume collects a four issue storyline where Mitchell Hundred has to deal with the blackout of August 2003...and it turns out he's a lot more involved than you would think. He temporarily loses his powers and has an encounter with a man who appears to be from a parallel world - the parallel world from which Mitchell somehow got his powers. Very interesting. Brian K. Vaughan is one of the best writers working in comics and you can't beat Tony Harris (and inker Jim Clark) on art, which means this is a very good comic that everyone should read.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Have you ever liked a book so much you recommended it to the person who was your physical therapist? I have. Back in 1994 I was rehabbing my knee after getting it scoped and I had recently read Arc d'X by Steve Erickson and it blew my mind. So I loaned out my book, which I almost never do. He gave it back a few weeks later and said he like it but who knows. Why do I bring this up now? I just finished reading Erickson's latest novel, Zeroville (my 3rd book of 2008).

It's the the story of a man so obsessed with movies that he has Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor, stars of A Place in the Sun, tattooed on the back of his head. Vikar comes to Hollywood after leaving divinity school and disappointing his father only to discover that people in Hollywood don't know much about Movies; he doesn't know much beyond them. He gets mixed up with movie people and works as a set builder before moving on to editing, where he creates a new style that boils down to "fuck continuity." For that, he is nominated for an Oscar and wins a special prize at Cannes. Meanwhile, he is prone to outbursts of violence and also becomes obsessed with punk music and well as an actress who keeps crossing his path.

This book is saturated with movies and delves into philosophy not only of specific movies but of movies in general. Vikar has a recurring dream that leads him to a discover that turns everything on its ear...I know that sounds vague but I don't want to give it away. You should read the book and discover it for yourself. I was captivated by the novel the last few days and kept on reading (the short little sections help you want to go just a bit more and a bit more until big bites of pages are gone). Erickson is a great writer and one who doesn't get a lot of attention. He should.

Monday, January 14, 2008


I took advantage of Jill and Grant going to see a movie on Friday night (the new Veggie Tales movie) to crack open one of my Christmas presents - the Peter Bogdonavich documentary on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Runnin' Down A Dream. It's a four hour movie split into two discs - I watched the first one on Friday and the second Saturday afternoon because I didn't want to wait to watch the rest. It's a fascinating look at Tom and the group, full of pain and truth and humor and a shitload of great rock music. If you're a fan of the band, I think you'll want to watch this documentary. If you're not a fan, I'm not sure if we can be friends anymore. Seriously, it's good music. The best part? I still have another DVD in the set that has the full homecoming concert in Gainsville that provides the spine for the doc as well as a CD of rarities. The worst part? Mike Campbell's hair in the concert and interview footage. Yikes. One of the most underrated guitar players in the world, though.

I've spent the last 10 days reading my 2nd book of the year, Dreamsongs: Volume II by George R.R. Martin. I liked the first volume so much that I didn't want to wait too long to get to the second half. This volume is just as big but doesn't have as much material; what it does have is longer material, which isn't a bad thing in this case. The first section has two stories about Haviland Tuf, an ecological engineer who travels the stars with a gigantic ship left over from another age. He's a bit of a bastard and doing business with him won't turn out the way you want but the stories are very readable.

The next section contains some samples of his TV work (he was a big part of the show Beauty and the Beast, of which I was a big fan). There aren't any scripts from that show but a story from a later iteration of The Twilight Zone and the pilot for a series he was going to run called Doorways, which has some similar ideas to Sliders, another show of which I was a big fan.

Section three (or eight, when counting volume one) has some stories that he wrote for the shared super-hero series Wild Cards. Guess what? I was a big fan of those books - they started coming out when I was in high school. I now wish I had picked up the reissues several years back but they are now out of print. Sigh. Anyway, "Shell Games" is about the redemption of Doctor Tachyon and the rise of The Great and Powerful Turtle; "From the Journal of Xavier Desmond" is the tale of a fact-finding mission undertaken by a variety of people affected by the "wild card" and is told by a Joker (who were dealt mutations). Good stuff.

Finally, the last section puts it all out there. "Under Siege" brings back some of the story from "The Fortress" but uses time travel and an alternate world and turns it into something even more powerful. "The Skin Trade" is about a P.I. and a werewolf trying to discover secrets about various deaths. "Unsound Variations" is an uncomfortable look at success and failure through a lens of chess and time travel. Death abounds in "The Glass Flower." We get a prequel to his series A Song of Fire and Ice in "The Hedge Knight," which I loved. Guess I have to start reading that series now. Finally, "Portraits of His Children" is a chilling tale of a writer who chooses his work over his life.

I am completely sold on George R.R. Martin and I am going to read as much of his work as I can. It's great to discover a wrier who is new to you, though a bit disheartening when you realize you could have been reading them for years. Ah well, better late than never.

I also found some time to read a comic over the weekend, Teen Titans Lost Annual #1. It's a story written by Bob Haney, who wrote the Titans back in the 60s. Unfortunately, he died a couple years ago (the comic was held up for a few years). I've never really read his work but if this comic is any indication, it was unique. The plot has the Titans traveling to an alien world after Robin realizes President Kennedy has been replaced by a duplicate. He was brought to this world in order to defeat The Violaters, a savage race that has been warring with the Ullustrans for centuries. The Violaters aren't so bad though - Wonder Girl falls in love with one of them. Meanwhile, Robin has a plan to save the day and Kid Flash and Speedy quip wise and run fast or shoot arrows. Aqualad? He stays behind on Earth to hold the fort. Like I said, unique. The art is done by Jay Stephens (pencils) and Mike Allred (inks) and it is fantastic. Of course, they are two of my favorite artists but this issue shows why. Clean lines, kinetic action, and a sense of vibrant fun. I guess that's why this comic is. Vibrant fun. They don't make them like this anymore and I wouldn't want to see all comics be like this but as a change of pace, it's a blast.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


A week without posts. Happens around here from time to time. We all went back to work and school this week and it was the start of a new session at the Y, which means all sorts of craziness (we also had 2 staff members with deaths in the family). I have been consuming pop culture, just at a slower rate than usual. I should have some blog entries with content this week. In the meantime, here's 10 songs from my iTunes...

1. Take a Rake/Centro-Matic (7)
2. Cavalry/Pela (8) - also on the iPod
3. Split Needles/The Shins (6)
4. Transfiguration #2/M. Ward (11)
5. Crudely Drawn/The Drams (15)
6. Sugar Never Tasted So Good/The White Stripes (6)
7. Eyes on the Prize/M. Ward (22)
8. Your Blood/Destroyer (11)
9. How Can You Be Sure/Radiohead (14)
10. new york (all the right angles)/The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (17)

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Here we go, the first Sunday Shuffle of 2008. It's also the last day of nothing before we all get back to work and school. What are my plans? Some housecleaning, laundry, two NFL playoffs games, Amazing Race, and lots of reading. But first, 10 songs from my iTunes...

1. Lucky Ones/Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew (4) - also on the iPod
2. They Are Among Us/The Redwalls (3)
3. Knuckles/The Hold Steady (17)
4. Fear City/Elliott Smith (7)
5. New Disaster/Elliott Smith (9)
6. Cotton/The Mountain Goats (12)
7. Ghost/Voxtrot (2)
8. Hang Me Up to Dry/Cold War Kids (8)
9. In A Future Age (live)/Jeff Tweedy (7)
10. European Oils/Destroyer (12)

Saturday, January 05, 2008


Last night I cranked up the old "On Demand" and watching the first episode of the fifth and final season of The Wire. For those of you who haven't been paying attention, The Wire is one of the best TV shows that has ever been. Ever. And for those of you who have been paying attention, you know just what I'm talking about.

Things are not going well in Baltimore as we start the season; of course, things are never going very well. Carcetti has not come through with his promises to the police department - officers are getting light paychecks and morale doesn't exist. The unit has been trailing Mario Stanfield for a year with very little result. McNulty is drinking again, back to his old ways.

We're also introduced to some new characters who work at the Baltimore Sun. It's a series stuffed with characters but the addition of more is never a problem. You feel like you get to know people, which is a tribute to both the writing and the acting. Yes, The Wire has a brilliant cast. Brilliant.

I'm so happy we get one more season of this show. It's amazing that it has gotten five of them. Kudos to HBO for sticking with it. Now when is the next episode going to be available?

Speaking of all-time great shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has returned for an 8th comic book format. It is executive produced by Joss Whedon and he also wrote the first five issues, which were collected in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Volume 1: The Long Way Home. I read the first two issues as they came out last summer (and wrote about them a bit, as I recall) but I have now read the collection. I am happy.

You want the banter and pop culture references? Check. You want action? Check. You want the return of familiar characters? Check. You want a new "big bad?" Check. You want some great art by Georges Jeanty and Paul Lee? You got it. The first four issues makes up the opening storyline with all of the above included and the fifth issue is a one-off that tells the tale of a Buffy doppleganger who was working underground. Literally.

I've never been a big fan of comics adaptations of TV shows but this is the real deal. An eighth season of Buffy, done in a way that could never have been done on TV. It makes me want to go back and watch the whole series...though I still don't have it all on DVD. I'd go out and get it but I wouldn't have time to watch it now anyway. Some day. Anyway, if you're a Buffy fan you need to get this. If you're not, you need to start. Now.

Oh, and I let myself get distracted yesterday and accidently erased all my comics data from last year - what I read and when. Sigh.

Friday, January 04, 2008


I've finally gotten caught up with Life on Mars, now running its second and final season on BBC America. I actually debated about including it in my top ten TV shows of 2007 but I couldn't remember when the first season ran (I know I watched it "On Demand"). There are still a number of episodes left of the series, so I guess I can wait and put it on my 2008 top ten if it continues to entertain.

The show is about a cop, Sam Tyler, who gets in a car accident and gets transported back in time to 1973...or is in a coma dreaming up the whole thing...or is just crazy. What does he do in 1973? He's a cop.

This leads to lots of fish out of water moments, when his fellow coppers have no idea what he's talking about. Taping suspects? Surveillance? Methods of stopping cars? Proper forensics? Sam gets the job done, though it's not always easy. Meanwhile, he sees visions or gets phone calls that seem to come from his own time and lend credence to the fact he's in a coma. Still, he gets caught up in not only the cases but the people around him. Sometimes the shows are straightforward cases and sometimes there's more of Sam's internal predicament. The most recent episode, which ran on New Year's Day, had the perfect balance - an explanation in 1973 as to why Sam was feeling poorly, an explanation from his own time, and Sam watching his team investigating a case like they were on TV. Very well done.

The actors on this show are fantastic, not only John Simm as Sam Tyler. Philip Glenister plays the gruff and loyal DCI Gene Hunt; Liz White is the sweet, smart, and oh so cute Annie Cartwright; Marhsall Lancaster is the slightly clueless Chris; and Dean Andrews is the plodding and somewhat resentful Ray.

The music is great as well, all period music that makes the perfect soundtrack to coppers careening around Manchester in the early 70s.

I hope the show finishes off well, with the resolution of the mystery. Either way, I know I'll miss it when it's gone. It's good TV.

That was the original title for Michael Chabon's latest novel, Gentlemen of the Road, as he explains in an afterword that talks about his metamorphosis from a literary writer into one who has become more of a genre writer. GofR was actually serialized in the New York Times last year and I gave some thought to reading along online but ending up waiting for the collected work. Now I've read it for my first book of 2008.

The gentlemen in question are Zelikman, a Frank and Jew who is a healer and hat lover, and Amram, an African who long ago lost his wife and daughter. The start out swindling a group of men at a caravansary and end up involved in the politics of the Kazar kingdom, helping to restore Filaq to his (?) rightful place. It's a story of armies and elephants and philosophy and a wife variety of characters. I enjoyed it, though not as much as some of Chabon's other word. Still, he's not my favorite writer for nothing and there is plenty of joy and humor to be found in this book. A good start to my 2008 reading.

What's next? I have the three trades I picked up a week ago, two issues each of Asimov's and F&SF, and now two books that I checked out of the library this morning. So, we'll see.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


I was more caught up with this information than I thought I was but since I grabbed the last stuff for this round on New Year's Eve, it's time to mention what I got in December...

The Smithereens/Christmas With The Smithereens
Vince Gauraldi/A Charlie Brown Christmas
Sloan/Action Pact
Dr. Dog/We All Belong
The Mountain Goats/Nine Black Poppies
Arcade Fire/"Surf City Eastern Bloc" (from the "No Cars Go" single)

Obviously, I won't be listening to two of those again until December but that's okay - I've got plenty to listen to and much more to come.

I've been treading water the last couple days. My back is starting to feel better - I can stand up straight fairly quickly today and the pain is now mostly on one side of the lower back. I did have to give up my lifeguarding shifts yesterday and today, since I would not have been able to rescue someone if the need arised...or sit in the chair for a few hours. What have I been doing instead? Nothing much. Some reading and lot of watching (more news and sports than anything else - I'm interested in how the Iowa caucuses will turn out tonight and if the Bulls are finally turning the corner under new head coach Jim Boylan).

When a new year starts, I think about all the pop culture I'll be able to ingest in the coming months. I finished the 2008 preview issue of Wizard a short time ago and there's been information around online. So, here's a list of some things I can't wait to read, watch, or listen to in 2008...

Five books from Jeffrey Ford (the new novel, The Shadow Year; the reissues of his Well-Built City trilogy; and a new story collection
Michael Swanwick/The Dragons of Babel

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom the Crystal Skull
Iron Man
The Dark Knight
Be Kind Rewind
Where the Wild Things Are

New seasons of The Wire, Lost, and Battlestar Galactica
An end to the WGA strike that is favorable to the writers, which will bring about the return of my favorite TV shows

Drive-By Truckers/Brighter Than Creation's Dark
Vampire Weekend/Vampire Weekend
Nada Surf/Lucky
American Music Club/The Golden Age
Mountain Goats/Heretic Pride
Aimee Mann/Smilers

The Starman Omnibus
Final Crisis
The final Y: The Last Man trade

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Happy New Year.

It's been an interesting day around here. We got about 4 or 5 inches of snow overnight so the first thing I did when I got up was go out to shovel snow. I was out for about an hour and got all of our house done, plus brushing off 3 cars (our two and our neighbor's). Jill came out when I was close to done and she used the snowblower to do our neighbor's (she had a heart attack a few weeks back, so we're helping out). I must have locked myself in pretty good because after I'd been in a for a few minutes I realized my back hurt. A lot. I spent the day trying to stretch out, using the heating pad, taking ibuprofen, and mostly being miserable. I have been able to stretch it out over the course of the day, enough that I shouldn't be too bad getting up tomorrow and a trip to the chiropractor should help to solve the rest.

It's been an annual tradition in my family that we have pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day for as long as I can remember. My dad makes the sauerkraut and it's full of bacon and carrots and alcohol (which cooks off) and tastes absolutely wonderful. So we set off this afternoon to go have dinner...only to have to turn around not even halfway down. The main road down south was awful, covered with both ice and snow, and it would only get worse the further we went. It was disappointing to have to turn around but we are promised some leftovers.

What did we do instead? We ordered a nice greasy pizza and breadsticks and ate some pan cookie for dessert. Jill and I watched The Bourne Identity, which was one of her Christmas gifts. I liked it. A lot. Can't wait to watch the next two (she got the big boxed set). Oh, we did finish out It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia last night (except for 2 commentaries, which I'll get to as Jill isn't interested) as well as watched Superbad (fun movie). I also started on the 2008 preview issue of Wizard and my first book of the year.

Speaking of books, I wanted to mention a few goals I have for myself in 2008...

My books goal for 2008 is 48, which averages out to 4 a month. That's achievable with the pace I've been on since August, though I do have some other things that will eat into reading time.

This is the year I am going to start writing something other than this blog and see what I can do. I've had the dream of writing for so long and I might as well get to it. If "The Year of 35" was my spur to start living the way I wanted to, why not use 2008 (which is the first year I could have run for president, as I wanted to when I was a kid) to step things up to another level? My Presidential Year maybe.

So, writing. Getting out more often to play music. Continuing to write songs and improve on the guitar and keyboard. Maybe finding some people to jam with or another band to mess around with.

I also want to get serious about getting fit. I've lost weight over the past couple months but I'm not really in shape. I would like to be. Lose some more weight but also put on some muscle, just be healthier.

As for the blog, I don't know what the year will bring. I have ideas for new features and thoughts about trying to grow this into a place where more people come. However, if I implement all the other goals I won't have as much time. So, it remains to be seen what this blog will look like. I will keep it going, even if it's only Sunday Shuffles and the occasional post. So check in with me in 2008 and let me know what's going on with you. I'm looking forward to a good year.