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.

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