Saturday, July 04, 2009


I've changed my mind completely. Not only am I going to continue blogging, I am relaunching the blog as Shooflypie Season 3. Please join me over there and see if I can actually produce.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I am hanging up the blogging hat again and I won't be picking it up for the next 6 months minimum. It is part of a number of changes I am making to try and open myself up to creative ventures - I haven't written a new song this year and only 1 in the last year total. I've still never given myself a chance to write and I want to do it. I'm shutting down my file at the comics shop as well; I'm not giving up comics, just sticking to trades and not pre-ordering (hard to budget that way). I'm thinking about ditching Twitter for a while as well and cutting down on my feeds on my Google Reader. I need to change the way I go about things for a while and see what happens. Doesn't mean I'll never do these things again; it's what I need to do to try and activate dreams that go back to my childhood.

See you in 2010...or not.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


I spent most of the day at a picnic as part of a celebration of my 20th high school reunion. It was a blast but it's late, so here comes the music...

1. Major Label Debut (Fast)/Broken Social Scene (2)
2. All I Need Is Y0u/Portastatic (7)
3. The Hazards of Love 3 (Revenge!)/The Decemberists (5)
4. Black Eyed Suzy/Justin Townes Earle (4)
5. Cocoon/The Decemberists (5)
6. Better Dead Than Lead/Ted Leo & The Pharmacists (2)
7. Andiamo/The Twilight Singers (12)
8. Priest's Knees/Destroyer (12)
9. Singer Castle Bells/Great Lake Swimmers (5)
10. Disappear/Crooked Fingers (3)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I've mentioned on more than one occasion that I've gone back and forth on the issue of whether I should buy comics in single format at all. There have been periods where I've bought only trades and periods where I've bought a few monthlies as well. Those latter times usually last 6 to 8 months before I give it all up and go back to trades. Well, I'm determined to try to find a way for me to buy and read both, even buying some things in singles format that I may want to buy in collected form later. Yes, it's all very complicated or at least I make it that way. Getting to the point, I bought a couple comics two Wednesdays ago that remind me why I do like to read things is serialized format.

I bought the new series of Booster Gold when it started up in 2007. I'd always liked the character and I found the book to be highly entertaining but ended up losing touch in the last swing back to trades. The series is now in the hands of Dan Jurgens, who originally created Booster and made the first series such a favorite of mine that I talked about it in a speech my freshman year of high school (in 1986).

I picked up #21 of the current series for 2 reasons. First, the cover promised Booster tangling with Batman (whose cape is now being filled by Dick Grayson, the first Robin, due to Bruce Wayne's death). Second, the series is now carrying a second feature - Blue Beetle. DC is adding 10 page co-features to a number of its comics as a way of justifying higher prices ($3.99 per issue on selected titles). It's pricey but in this instance, the comic was worth it.

The lead feature is the first of the four-part "Day of Death" storyline. Booster is big-time hero but he has to pretend he is an ineffectual glory hound in order to keep secret his status as a time-traveler. He is working with Rip Hunter, who seems to be up to something as the issue opens. Sure, it looks like he is looking for a chink in the Black Beetle's armor but Booster isn't sure he can be fully trusted. Rip sends Booster to the Batcave, because there are some pictures there that reveal the truth about Booster (Batman was the only one aware of Booster's mission but Batman isn't exactly Batman anymore). Booster decides to trust Dick with the secret (that he tried to save Barbara Gordon from being shot; Dick is very close to Barbara) when the Black Beetle shows up and decides to change the timeline. At the end, it appears he has succeeding in killing Dick in the past. I'm interested to see where the story goes from here.
I read the first issue or three of the Blue Beetle series when it first came out but quickly lost track. I've found the character to be a lot of fun on the Batman: Brave and the Bold TV show and welcomed the chance to check in the character in the comics realm. Plus, writer Matt Sturges is someone I like (I read his novel Midwinter a few months back and have enjoyed his work on Jack of Fables, though I'm woefully behind on that series) and artist Mike Norton always turns out quality work. Well, there was plenty to like. Most especially, a giant yellow robot named Thinko! that Beetle had to battle. A fun comic.
Two good stories in one comic book? That's the way it should be. I will definitely be back for the next issue.

On the other end of the spectrum is the latest series from Vertigo, The Unwritten. This is a creator-owned series from Mike Carey and Peter Gross (such an underrated artist) and the first issue was over-sized and priced at $1. How can you resist that? I didn't and while I liked the issue well enough, the series really takes off with #2. The book is the story of Tom Taylor, the inspiration for a series of Harry Potter-like novels by his father. But it turns out he might not be Wilson Taylor's son after all. The series is steeped in fiction; Tom knows geography by way of fiction, though he hasn't read the books. There are forces skulking about, including a man who creates a cell phone through letters and then let's it dissolve back into the same. And what is the deal with Lizzie Hexam? Is she more than the protagonist of Dickens' Our Mutual Friend? I can't wait to see where this series goes and I'm not going to wait for trades either. How's that for an endorsement?

Happy Father's Day to those of you who may be reading. I'm going to spend the day doing a lot of chores, watching baseball, and reading (Infinite Summer starts today). But first, we're going to see what pops up on iTunes...

1. Market Girl/Headlights (7)
2. Alphabet Pony/The Kills (4)
3. It's Me/Dinosaur Jr. (14)
4. Puncture Repair/Elbow (19)
5. Learo, You're a Hole/Archers of Loaf (10)
6. Keep A Friend/Dr. Dog (6)
7. What Do You Look Forward To?/Superchunk (14)
8. Wine, Women, and Song/Harvey Danger (35)
9. Un Dernier Verre (Pour La Route)/Beirut (3)
10. Another Radio Song/Okkervil River (7)

Monday, June 15, 2009


I've been reading Asimov's for many years now. I believe I started around 1993 or 1994 and at some point not too long after I dropped my subscription for a year or so before picking back up and reading it continuously ever since. The magazine has introduced me to a bunch of writers I love, including James Patrick Kelly. The June 2009 issue has a bit of a tribute to Kelly, as it marks the 25th anniversary of his first June issue story. That's right, he has had a story in the June issue every year since 1994, for a total of 26 stories. It's quite a feat.

Taking a look at the bibliography on Kelly's website, the first of the June stories that I remember reading for sure is "Breakaway, Backdown" from 1996 (guess I've been reading consistently at least that long and I don't recall reading "Think Like a Dinsosaur" from the June 1995 issue, though I've since read it). I also remember wanting to talk to people about it at the time but none of my friends (internet or otherwise) were reading Asimov's. Unfortunately, I don't recall what the story was about, only my enthusiasm for it.

Over the years, I've come to anticpate Kelly's June appearances. I know I'm going to get a story I like and I know the stories aren't necessarily going to be similar. He doesn't have a partiuclar style other than clear writing, a willingness to experiment with ideas big or small, and characters you can care about. From recent years, "Men Are Trouble" (2004) and "The Leila Torn Show" (2006) are particular standouts.

Kelly has three story collections that have been published by Golden Gryphon - Think Like a Dinosaur and Other Stories, Strange But Not a Stranger, and The Wreck of the Godpseed (which came out late last year). I'm a big fan of Golden Gryphon and have always meant to pick up the collections...but have never gotten around to it. Well, there is a 2-for-1 sale going on right now and with Father's Day coming up this weekend, I think I'm going to make a request for a present. That means I'll probably be talking about his work more on the blog as the months roll by.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention this year's story, "Going Deep." It's the story of Mariska, a 13 year-old clone of a spacer, who has an adopted father, an upcoming arranged marriage, and ambivalent thoughts about her predetermined life. She reaches a decision that she knows isn't the best but it ends up working out in the end. While it's not my favorite Kelly story, it's definitely worth reading.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


I feel like the universe is telling me to read Charles Dickens and not just one book either. No, his total output. I'm not sure why this is happening either. The notion popped into my head a week or so ago and since then I've seen references to Dickens here and there in my life. It's not a project I'm going to undertake right now, especially with my reading of Infinite Jest scheduled to start in a week. Once that project is over, I'll already have been in an English class for a few weeks and will have a bunch of reading to do there, I'm sure. It remains to be seen if the idea keeps afloat in the back of my brain - if that's the case, I'll probably have to do something about it.

I did just finish my 16th book of the year, Stalking the Unicorn by Mike Resnick. Originally published in 1987, it was just reissued last year by Pyr along with a sequel, Stalking the Vampire (which I also have out from the library). John Justin Mallory is a detective in Manhattan who is drunk on New Year's Eve. He is hired by an elf to recover a unicorn, which takes him to another Manhattan where such creatures life, along with leprechauns, demons, Gnomes of the Subway, goblins, trolls, and magic doesn't exist (what you think is magic is just science you don't know). Over the course of the novel, Mallory learns about the world and makes a few big decisions about his own. It's a fun book. I've been trying to decide if I should plow straight into the next book or read something in between, just because. We'll see.

This week I also read the April/May issue of F&SF. It is the first of the new bigger-sized bi-monthly issues but the only real changes are just those two things. F&SF is always dependable and if this issue didn't have any particular standouts, it also didn't have any stories that weren't worth reading. I call that a win.

It looks like we might get two nice days out of the last three today; it would be nice if summer finally showed up. It would also be nice if I could stop going around and around in my head about the blog...we'll see if I put up some posts this week. Anyway, how about some music?

1. Ashes of American Flags (engineer demo)/Wilco (2)
2. I Feel Better/Frightened Rabbit (14)
3. Song for Myla Goldberg/The Decemberists (11)
4. No Dreams/Oakley Hall (8)
5. It's Not the End of the World/Sloan (17)
6. Almost Over/Elliott Smith (8)
7. The Lines You Amend/Sloan (13)
8. Guyamas Sonora/Beirut (5)
9. Ada/The National (17)
10. Down in the Valley/The Broken West (21)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


I have committed to a summer project - along with a couple thousand other people, I am going to be reading David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. The reading group is called Infinite Summer and the goal is to read the book over the course of the summer, June 21 to Sept. 22. The book is over 1000 pages long with a ridiculous amount of endnotes, so you need to average about 75 pages a week. That's doable.

When I was younger, it was a badge of honor to read books that were 500 pages or more; I would even reject books that were under 300 pages as not being worth my time. Obviously, I don't feel that way anymore but I still do like the challenge of a big book. Plus, I've been interested in reading Infinite Jest for years and this is a good way to finally do it.

I'm not a reader who usually reads multiple books at the same time, so this will be an interesting experiment in that regard as well. I plan on posting about what I read each week and will try to keep up with the discussion over at the website. I finally start taking an English class this fall, so this will be a good kickstart for that as well.

If anyone else is going to do it, let me know!

Sunday, June 07, 2009


I've decided to resume semi-regular posting to the blog with this, my 600th post. Now that summer's here I have some more to to devote to it and I've found I do miss it. I am not coming back with promises as to frequency of posts or as to what the subject matter will be, though I do have some ideas as to features. I do want to get away from my posts just being a series of lists, to bring some actual content. A quick perusal of my 2009 posts shows I haven't talked about any music or books or anything of substance, so there is quite a bit I could talk about. So please stop by occasionally or add me to your feed reader; I hope to entertain.

It's not been a good week - my back seized up on me Tuesday morning and I spent a good portion of time on the floor unable to move without excruciating pain. It's gotten better as the week has gone along but I missed the last few days of school and couldn't even play cornhole at a birthday party yesterday. At least we had a great time in Baltimore and Washington D.C. for my cousin's wedding last weekend. So, I'm using the Sunday Shuffle as some comfort food this morning and I'm okay with that.

1. She's A Rejecter/Of Montreal (7)
2. Take A Rake/Centro-Matic (9)
3. Quito/The Mountain Goats (17)
4. Sex On Fire/Kings of Leon (8)
5. An Apology/Canasta (12)
6. The Next Messiah/Jenny Lewis (12)
7. Jezebel/Two Hours Traffic (15)
8. Dark Leaves Form a Thread/Destroyer (7)
9. Oh, Take Me Back/M. Ward (6)
10. And Your Bird Can Sing/Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs (2)

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Woke up this morning and felt like doing a Sunday Shuffle. It's not indicative of anything necessarily, though I have been giving thought to coming back to blogging on a more regular basis. For now, ten random songs from my iTunes is enough...

1. My Goodbyes/South San Gabriel (6)
2. This Ain't a Scene/The Henry Clay People (9)
3. Snakes of Hawaii/Army Navy (9)
4. Furr/Blitzen Trapper (7)
5. A Side Wins/Sloan (18)
6. Stuck Between Stations/The Hold Steady (27)
7. Great Expectations/Elbow (14)
8. Silence Kid/Pavement (12)
9. Lady On The Water/Blitzen Trapper (6)
10. Look, Honey, Peaches/Portastatic (5)

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I am setting the blog aside for an indeterminate amount of time. The reality is that I spend time on Twitter and Facebook and that probably won't be changing anytime soon. I do like the idea of the blog but there is a big disconnect between coming up with ideas for posts and writing the actual posts themselves. I also still have dreams to be published as a creative writer and I want to take some time to work towards that goal (though it will have to wait another 6 weeks until college is over for me). Today is my 38th birthday and I'm feeling some of that "Year of 35" spirit; I am soon going to record an EP and I feel it is time to keep pushing myself forward.

I'm not sure how long I will be away from this could be a couple months and I could never come back to it. I have no plan and that's just fine with me. Close to a quarter of my almost 600 posts over the past 3+ years here have been Sunday Shuffles and while I will miss that ritual every Sunday morning, I'll probably still do it for myself.

Thanks to all of you who have come by over the years. Please check me out on Twitter and you can look me up on Facebook if you so desire. Take care.

Today's shuffle is going to be a double issue for two reasons - today is my 38th birthday and this will be the last Sunday Shuffle for an indeterminate amount of time (more on that later). So, let's celebrate with a bunch of music...

1. Too Much to Hide/Joseph Arthur (12)
2. Weary Arms/Crooked Fingers (3)
3. Capturing Moods/Rilo Kiley (3)
4. Long As I Can See the Light/Creedence Clearwater Revival (5)
5. Slow Down Chicago/Canasta (9)
6. Jaipur/The Mountain Goats (14)
7. Time Left For Love/Shout Out Louds (8)
8. Sleep Sunshine/The Whigs (15)
9. Whatever (Folk Song In C)/Elliott Smith (12)
10. Flying High Again/Sloan (17)
11. Old Time Lovin'/Al Green (3)
12. Blood Bank/Bon Iver (5)
13. Nevermind The Phonecalls/Earlimart (12)
14. Forget Myself/Elbow (11)
15. Jigsaw/Mates Of State (6)
16. Idylls Of The King/The Mountain Goats (19)
17. Claws Tracking/Spoon (4)
18. Angela/Oakley Hall (4)
19. [Untitled Track]/The Black Keys (11)
20. Souls Like the Wheels/The Avett Brothers (5)
21. Act Of The Apostle/Belle and Sebastian (12)
22. A Sunday Smile/Beirut (4)
23. Pick Me Up/Dinosaur Jr. (10)
24. Flume/Bon Iver (9)
25. Manitoba/Tapes 'n Tapes (9)

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I'm on my second spring break of the year, so this week will either bring a handful of blog posts or I'll just accept the fact that I'm just a Sunday shuffler...

1. Where's That Hit?/Hoodoo Gurus (3)
2. Before I Do/Sloan (12)
3. These Days Nothing But Sunshine/The Clientele (8)
4. Challengers/The New Pornographers (22)
5. Working Girls (Sunlight Shines)/Pernice Brothers (15)
6. How To Fight Loneliness/Wilco (1)
7. Little Round Mirrors/Harvey Danger (46)
8. Green River/Creedence Clearwater Revival (9)
9. Open Eyes/Apples In Stereo (13)
10. Where I'm Anymore/Grandaddy (13)

Sunday, March 15, 2009


The Sunday Shuffle is determined by turning the shuffle mode on and then taking the first 10 songs that I have loaded onto iTunes. I share the computer with my wife and son, so there is plenty of music I don't care for and don't claim. Here's my music...

1. Andalucia/Crooked Fingers (3)
2. Black Out/Pavement (7)
3. Souverian/Andrew Bird (5)
4. Shaped Like a Gun/Verbena (3)
5. Jet Stream/Brendan Benson (19)
6. Town Where You Belong/Earlimart (9)
7. Campershell Dreams/Grandaddy (13)
8. Giving It Up/Josh Rouse (11)
9. Charly/Higgins (5)
10. It's Natural To Be Afraid/Explosions In The Sky (12)

Sunday, March 08, 2009


I'm on my college spring break this week, so maybe I'll get to other posts. Maybe. This past week was one where I was in more of a reading mode than a watching mode...I really don't have time to be in both at once. I'm always in a listening mode, though, so let's get to the songs...

1. Red Dust/Iron And Wine/Calexico (11)
2. Apple/Saturday Looks Good To Me (9)
3. Jornada Del Muerto #20/South San Gabriel (5)
4. A Cunning Latch/Portastatic (4)
5. No Backbone/The Lemonheads (14)
6. Fisher of Men/M. Ward (6)
7. Marie Provost/Nick Lowe (5)
8. Elijah/The Mountain Goats (9)
9. Jimmy the Exploder/The White Stripes (10)
10. If It Works/Tokyo Police Club (12)

Monday, March 02, 2009


I started doing one tonight but I ended up boring myself and erased it. I may just discontinue this feature. What I'd rather do is write more meaningful posts about what I've consumed rather than the laundry lists, so this is either the first step in that direction or just more waffling. Time will tell...

We've been having some internet issues over the past few days and I wasn't able to get the suffle done yesterday. It's after 9:30 on Monday night but my week just doesn't feel right unless it starts off with the shuffle, so here we go...

1. Tractor Rape Chain/Guided By Voices (6)
2. 1995/Luna (6)
3. Pink Clouds/Superchunk (9)
4. pleasure is mine/Matthew Sweet (7)
5. The Death Of Big Ed Delahanty/The Baseball Project (3)
6. Pinball Song/Slobberbone (16)
7. Grounded/Pavement (5)
8. What Do You Go Home To?/Explosions In The Sky (9)
9. Imitosis/Andrew Bird (8)
10. Summerteeth (live)/Jeff Tweedy (9)

Saturday, February 28, 2009


This month marks the start of my fourth year with eMusic and I continue to be very happy with the service. My biggest problem is trying to get my downloads to work out every month but I've managed to do it 36 times, so I guess it's not that big of a problem. Anyway, here's what I downloaded in February...

Ben Kweller/Changing Horses
The Henry Clay People/For Cheap Or For Free
M. Ward/Hold Time
Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit/Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit
Le Switch/And Now...Le Switch
J. Tillman/Minor Works

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Lots of college work this week wiped out any chance of posting. I may get one or two up today but I've got a pretty bad cold, so my head isn't that sharp. We'll see. It doesn't take any brainpower to bring you today's ten, however, so without further rambling...

1. Half Dead/The Mountain Goats (9)
2. Nineteen Seventy Nine/Lucero (4)
3. California Stopover/The Ladybug Transistor (7)
4. Shooting Rockets (From the Desk of Night's Ape)/Destroyer (8)
5. The Next Messiah/Jenny Lewis (8)
6. Don't Buy the Realistic/Spoon (3)
7. Black Hole/The Rosebuds (8)
8. Little Brother/Elk City (10)
9. Black Rain, Black Rain/A.A. Bondy (13)
10. Suzy Lee/The White Stripes (11)

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I finished this issue a few weeks ago but never got around to writing about it. It got recycled back then but I think I can remember well enough to say a few things about the stories; I'd like to not miss writing about a month of either Asimov's or F&SF this year.

The issue started off with Mary Rosenblum's "Lion Walk," where a mystery arises about girls getting killed on a nature preserve in the near future. Rosenblum is not concerned only with the mystery but where society has gotten to. It's good solid SF.

"Passing Perry Crater Base, Time Uncertain" is a short piece by Larry Niven that was okay but not memorable enough that I can remember anything about it other than my general impression.

Will McIntosh's "Bridesicle," on the other hand, is completely memorable. It's set in (perhaps) the same future as a previous Asimov's story (was it "Midnight Blue?") where people who die can stick around in the consciousness of their offspring. This story goes even further, into a future where the cryogenically-frozen dead can be brought back to life (and maybe to a real body) if they become brides. It's told from the perspective of a prospective "bridesicle" who also happens to be a lesbian. Good stuff.

"Five Thousand Light Years from Birdland" by Robert R. Chase is a solid first contact story in which a member of the translation team is sacrificed by being sent to the alien world, except for the fact that he understands more than the rest. Solid SF.

E. Salih makes his debut with "Messiah Excelsa" but unfortunately doesn't do much for me with a story about time travel and Stradivarius. It wasn't the subject as much as the execution.

Nancy Kress looks at divorce through the lens of a dog who can "talk" in "Unintended Behavior," a sharp little tale that I liked.

Finally, "Uncle Bones" by Damien Broderick focuses on the conspiracy behind a treatment that allows the dead to live, albeit in a way that makes them outcasts from society (as well they would be). It's a fun story (and yes, I know that sounds incongruous but it is).

In all, it's another solid issue of Asimov's...

I still have two days left of my weekend (minus a couple hours teaching at the Y tomorrow), which makes me happy. I've got things to do, of course, but it's nice not to have to try and get it all done immediately. What I will do immediately is hit you with 10 songs from my iTunes...

1. Frightening Lives/Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew (6)
2. Written Invitation/The Whigs (19)
3. Slope Song/The Essex Green (22)
4. Buffalo Boots/Luna (3)
5. Nursery, Academy/Tokyo Police Club (4)
6. Shiftee/The Broken West (20)
7. a second reply to st anselm of canterbury (ps 17:15)/The Prayers & Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (17)
8. Submarines Of Stockholm/A.C. Newman (9)
9. Heatseeker/Two Hours Traffic (12)
10. New Year's Day/The Broken West (21)

Sunday, February 08, 2009


I started a couple different posts this week but I ended up deleting them. Maybe this week I'll actually write something and post it! But right now I'm going to get to the music since we're going out to breakfast in the near future...

1. You Can Always Count On Me (In The Worst Way)/Superchunk (8)
2. Queen of Cans and Jars/Guided By Voices (6)
3. Before I Do/Sloan (11)
4. This Is Something I Might Miss/I Love Math (3)
5. San Francisco/Lucero (4)
6. There's A Reason/A.A. Bondy (14)
7. Neon Bible/Arcade Fire (16)
8. Mistaken For Strangers/The National (16)
9. About This Love/Alejandro Escovedo (1)
10. Labyrinthian Pomp/Of Montreal (7)

Sunday, February 01, 2009


I wasn't going to do these this year but then I realized I hadn't talked a lot about my pop culture intake lately and this is a (easy) way to do it. I also decided that this year I will count books and comics in the month I read most of them; for example, I started reading a trade yesterday but only read 2 out of the 6 issues collected, so that trade will go on February's log. Okay, blah blah...

I read 2 books in January (Prince of Stories and The Physiognomy). The latter is by Jeffrey Ford, who is one of my favorite writers. It is the first of a trilogy, which was reissued by Golden Gryphon late last year. I liked it, of course, and just a short while ago I started on the next book in the series. Anyway, I'm on a pace for 24 books read this year and it may end up being close to that...we'll see. Last January I read 4 books; my overall average books read in January for the last three years is 2.67.

I read 19 stories in January. Those stories came from the Dec. 2008 and Jan. 2009 issues of Asimov's and the Dec. 2008 issue of F&SF. I also read 19 stories last January; my overall average stories read in January for the last three years is 22.3.

I read 4 comics in January, 3 of which trades (Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes; Fables Vol. 11: War and Pieces; and Scalped Vol. 1: Indian Country). The other was the first issue of Incognito. Last January I read 7 comics, 4 of which were trades; my overall average comics read in January for the last three years is 9 (3.3 trades).

I bought 3 CDs and downloaded 6 more for a total of 9 new CDs in January (the downloads were covered in yesterday's eMusic post; the others were Bruce Springsteen's Working On A Dream; Mark Olson & Gary Louris' Ready For the Flood, and the reissue of The Replacements' All Shook Down). Last January I got 7 new CDs (5 downloads); my overall average of CDs bought in January for the last three years is 8.3 (6 downloads).

I didn't see any movies in the theater in January. I also didn't see any movies in the theater last January; my overall average of movies seen in January for the last three years is .3.

Once again, I've started keeping track of what I'm watching on DVD. I watched all 12 episodes on Flight of the Conchords Season One, all 10 episodes of Battlestar Galactica Seson 4.0, and 6 episodes of Superman: The Animated Series Vol. 3 for a total of 28 episodes. In addition, I watched one commentary (S:TAS Vol. 3), two features (BSG Vol. 4.0 and S:TAS Vol. 3), and the whole of the DVD that came with my deluxe edition of Working On A Dream. That gives me 33 separate DVD viewings in January, more than 1 a day.

I have not kept track of all the TV I've watched In January and won't do so this year. That said, I'll plan on doing a "What I'm Watching" post in the near future.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! I am rooting for the Cardinals today but I won't be upset if the Steelers win; I've got a lot of respect for them. Plus, we get Bruce and the E Street Band at halftime and an hour-long episode of The Office afterwards. I will be feasting on a #9 from Jimmy John's, chips, and a Super Bowl sundae for dessert. Yum!

1. Codes, Runes, Dunes/Portastatic (5)
2. The Stand Ins, One/Okkervil River (7)
3. Border Guards/The Rosebuds (6)
4. This Old Chase/The Ladybug Transistor (4)
5. Aging Faces/Losing Places/Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew (6)
6. Angeles/Elliott Smith (20)
7. Fishing Boat Song/M. Ward (8)
8. Outta My Head/M. Ward (12)
9. Seashell Tale/M. Ward (12)
10. Shooting Rockets (From the Desk of Night's Ape)/Destroyer (7)

Guess it's M. Ward's day - just over 2 weeks until his new album, Hold Time!

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Hard to believe I'm talking about the end of my third year using eMusic. Here's what I got in January...

A.C. Newman/Get Guilty
Andrew Bird/Noble Beast
Bon Iver/Blood Bank
Tokyo Police Club/Elephant Shell
Rilo Kiley/The Execution of All Things
David Byrne & Brian Eno/Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

Looking forward to year 4!

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I know I talked about suspending the blog last week but I get to Sunday and I have to do the shuffle. It's been a ritual for over 2 years now and I don't want to stop. As for the rest of the blog, I don't necessarily want to stop that either. I think I just have to accept that I won't post on everything I want to and just be happy posting when I have the time and inclination. Anyway, here's today's ten...

1. Natural Disaster/Andrew Bird (2)
2. Lit Up (Remix)/The National (10)
3. Winter '68/The Black Angels (11)
4. Untitled Instrumental/My Morning Jacket (9)
5. Smokin from Shootin/My Morning Jacket (6)
6. Rivers/Destroyer (6)
7. One True Vine/Wilco (12)
8. Blood Bank/Bon Iver (2)
9. Late-Century Dream/Superchunk (13)
10. On the Way Back Home/Lucero (4)

A couple songs I haven't heard in over a year-and-half; a couple songs I just downloaded the other day; that same MMJ instrumental that played last week, and Wilco. Interesting batch today, no?

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I had great plans to post this week and nothing came of it. I did actually write some songs yesterday, which I'm very happy about. College started back up this week too, so my life is busier once again. It's also possible I'll take a break from the blog but we'll see. For now, here are today's ten...

1. Don't Make Me a Target/Spoon (20)
2. The Penalty/Beirut (3)
3. War On War (live)/Jeff Tweedy (7)
4. Flying High Again/Sloan (16)
5. Untitled Instrumental/My Morning Jacket (8)
6. Will I Belong?/Sloan (19)
7. Andiamo/The Twilight Singers (10)
8. Nothing Left To Make Me Want To Stay/Sloan (14)
9. Que Lindo Sueno/King Khan and The Shrines (10)
10. The Good In Everyone/Sloan (12)

I guess it was Sloan's day today! 

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Obviously, I've had some problems formatting my recent posts on comics. I decided I would try and get some more images in my posts this year and while that part has worked well, I can't seem to get the text to do what I want it to. I won't give up and I'll see what I can figure out. If anyone has tips, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

THis past week went rather quickly, as I got back to work both at the school and at the Y. This week starts the new semester at PNC, so I'll be getting busier once again. The good news? There is only a half day of school this Wednesday, so I get a bit of a break in the afternoon before I have to teach swimming. On to music...

1. Sea Legs/The Shins (8)
2. Jezebel/Two Hours Traffic (12)
3. So Convinced/Superchunk (8)
4. Black Postcards/Luna (6)
5. We Close Our Eyes/British Sea Power (4)
6. Nothing Can Hurt You Now/Glossary (5)
7. Please Tell My Brother (live)/Jeff Tweedy (11)
8. I Could Have Done This Myself/Lightspeed Champion (3)
9. Ill Placed Trust/Sloan (15)
10. The Stars/American Music Club (7)

Saturday, January 10, 2009


One of my Christmas presents was Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes, a hardcover collecting the six issue storyline from Action Comics. Written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Gary Frank and (inker) Jon Sibal, it features Superman reconnecting with his childhood friends and allowed me to reconnect with mine, as this series features the original versions of the long-running (and twice-rebooted) Legion. I talked some about this issues as they came out but I think I enjoyed the story even more this second time around.
Originally, I was swept up in the plot and the pure joy of seeing Blok and Dawnstar and Polar Boy again. But Johns really nailed the essences of these characters - the hotheadedness of Wildfire balanced by the calm practicality of Dawnstar; the arrogance and compassion of Brianiac 5; the positive attitude of Polar Boy.
He also showed why Superman was the inspiration for the future. A non-powered Clark (thanks to Earth's sun having turned red) still fights the fight and is not only loyal to his friends but is still able to inspire them. Obviously, he does not appreciate the Justice League (former Legion rejects, some of whom were members of the Legion of Super-Villains) distorting his life to spread xenophobia on Earth and bring the United Planets to the brink of war. In their final confrontation, Earth-Man tells Superman he doesn't know what it's like to be an outsider, to be rejected. Superman's reply is powerful and well set up by the story.
All of these serious themes and subjects are undercut by bits of humor as well. A major source of this is the reappearance of the Legion of Substitute-Heroes, who hijack a space bus and attack the Justice League in their headquarters. I do love Stone Boy.
The art is a big draw here as well. Frank and Sibal like working on the ladies - rarely have Dawnstar and Shadow Lass looked so good. But they also give us a Superman we can believe in, as well as the entire Legion. Johns ended each issue with a great cliffhanger and the art did not let down the story - Chapter 5's ending of a powerless Superman taking the fight with Earth-Man into space is awesome.
I'm very glad I got this series in hardcover, as I suspect it's one I will return to. My rereading also comes at a good time, since there has been a long gap between issues of Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds (the third is coming at the end of the month, finally) and I was itching to see more of the Legion. It is work like this that makes me continue to love super-hero comics.

We got some snow overnight and into this morning; in fact, it just stopped snowing recently and I'm writing this around 2:00 PM. It wasn't a major snow, just a couple inches, though after all the bad weather we've already had this winter it is a bit annoying. Anyway, after a couple hours of procrastination I finally went out to shovel. The snow was light and fluffy, so it wasn't a big chore. I don't just take care of our driveway and sidewalk, though, I also do my neighbor's. She has a bad knee and had a heart attack just over a year ago, so it's best that she doesn't get out there and do it herself.

I had finished our house and was working on hers when she opened up the front door. She said hi and asked why I wasn't using the snowblower. It's actually her snowblower but we took it last year when we started shoveling both houses. I wasn't using the snowblower because I haven't used it at all. I leave it for my wife to use when we both get out and take care of things, which is usually when there's a lot of snow. I figure I'm perfectly capable of shoveling by hand, even if it takes me longer to do things that way. Plus, it's exercise.

After she thanked me and went back inside, I started thinking about the exchange and realized that I was doing what my dad would do. I'm okay with that.

Friday, January 09, 2009


One of the best parts about a new year is the anticipation for all the new music and books and comics and TV and movies that will be coming out. 2009 is no exception.

There are 5 albums coming out in the near future that I am looking forward to...

A.C. Newman/Get Guilty (Jan. 20)
Andrew Bird/Noble Beast (Jan. 20)
Bruce Springsteen/Workin' On A Dream (Jan. 27)
M. Ward/Hold Time (Feb. 17)
Neko Case/Middle Cyclones (Mar. 3)

You can go here to watch the new video for the amazing title track from M. Ward's album.

The next couple months also bring the following books...

Chris Roberson/End of the Century
T.C. Boyle/The Women
Colson Whitehead/Sag Harbor

The new Entertainment Weekly is all about the big 2009 movies. Can we say...

X-Men Origins: Wolverine?
Public Enemies?
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince?
Where the Wild Things Are?

I'm not sure about all the comics coming down the pike (did Wizard even do a 2009 preview issue?) but I know some I'm anticipating...

The last three issues of Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds
The (hopefully) continuing adventures of the original Legion
Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver on Flash: Rebirth
Scott Pilgrim Vol. 5!
A collection of the second season of Casanova? (please?)

And then there's TV, where the following shows all return soon...

Scrubs (it was back this week with 2 very good episodes)
Flight of the Conchords
Battlestar Galactica
Big Love

Plus, the debut of Dollhouse.

You know what's even better? All the stuff I don't even know about and that will be new to me and blow me away. Bring it, 2009.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Continuing my coverage of my ongoing attempts to get caught up on SF magazines...

The issue opens with "Way Down East" Tim Sullivan. It's a meditative story about dreams and class set in the world of lobster trapping. There is an alien as well but it's presence is really just the means with which to look at life. It's quiet and effective.

"Welcome to Valhalla" by Kathryn Lance and Jack McDevitt is a shorter high concept work about Richard Wagner and his encounter with on of the Valkryies, who shows him what will be done in the service of his music. It's a decent story.

Steven Utley steps away from his Silurian setting with "Perfect Everything," a story about misplaced love and a tragedy in space. It's solid.

The husband-and-wife team of Melanie and Steve Rasnic Tem appear with "In Concert." An elderly woman has always had the gift (curse?) of being able to hear snatches of other people's thoughts. It's not just people near her either - in this case, she gets impressions from an astronaut lost in space. This story teetered on the edge of my skipping the rest at times (it could be shorter and still work, I think) but in the end, I enjoyed where it led.

I've never been into Kerouac and his crew but Geoffrey A. Landis's "Still On the Road" is short and good for a chuckle.

The last, longest, and cover story was also my favorite of the issue - David Ira Cleary's "The Flowers of Nicosia." It follows an aging band (Downtown Dharma) as they try to unite West and East in Cyprus amidst upheaval over a biological weapon known as Amanita. The band are followers of Kurt Cobain and do covers of Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots as well as their own music. It's a character study, an issue study, and a big of an action story at times. I dug it.

That's all for this time around but I still have 5 unread SF mags, so the quest continues...

Sunday, January 04, 2009


I spent most of my day reading Prince of Stories, a book covering the work of Neil Gaiman by Hank Wagner, Christopher Golden, and Stephen R. Bissette. It features synopses of his comics, novels, short stories, and so forth along with details of his legal battles with Todd McFarlane and interviews and so forth. It's not a perfect book. For instance, the section on his Sandman series summarizes each issue and then includes a "People, Places, and Things" section that pretty much restates the summaries. Still, I enjoyed reading about his work and I chose this book to be my first of the year for a reason, which I will get to shortly. In the end, though, the book makes me want to reread Gaiman's work and pick up the stuff I haven't read yet. Guess the book did its job.

I learned yesterday that F&SF is going to be changing its publishing schedule to every other month starting with the Apr./May issue this year (I just received the Feb. issue in the mail yesterday). The issues will be bigger (longer than the usual double issues are) but they will be losing about 10% of their annual content. It's not surprising with the way things are in publishing these days and I don't fault Gordon Van Gelder for it in the least. I am also glad that the best SF magazine will still be published.

I chose the book about Gaiman because he is one of my favorite writers and I've felt he is an example of the sort of writing career I would like to have. I thought reading about him would help to inspire me. It's no secret that I've wanted to be a writer for a long time...really, ever since I was a kid. College was when I actively made the decision and then spent a long time putting a ton of pressure on myself and becoming depressed over the whole thing. It's a dream I've put on the backburner over the last five years or more as I found something I liked doing and found some self-worth for the first time since I was a teenager.

My "Year of 35" project back in 2006-2007 was a way of reconnecting with all of those old creative dreams. It was always my plan to include writing as part of the project but I was having so much fun with the music and it was on such a smaller scale that I was content.

I start this year realizing that I do still want to write and I think I'm in a better place to do so now. I've made changes in my life that have me heading in a direction for the first time ever and I am content with that direction. Looking back, I think part of my problem with writing is that I had pinned all of my hopes on it...I couldn't conceive of myself doing anything but being a writer. So much pressure. I don't have that pressure now.

I want to see what I can do. I'd love to eventually be published in a place like F&SF, because I respect the magazine so much and greatly enjoy many of the writers published therein. I know that's getting ahead of myself. I'm going to start by trying to get something down, to finish something I start, and see where it goes from there. It's a modest proposition and I'm perfectly fine with that. I'm looking forward to the journey.

Here's one feature that won't change for 2009...

1. Frozen Gtr/Thurston Moore (4)
2. Navy Sheets/The Hold Steady (14)
3. Make You Up/Portastatic (3)
4. Kicker of Elves/Guided By Voices (6)
5. Cannibals/Crooked Fingers (8)
6. Shivers Down My Spine/King Khan And The Shrines (10)
7. Buffalo Boots/Luna (2)
8. The Bear/My Morning Jacket (5)
9. Tonite It Shows/Mercury Rev (2)
10. A Voice At The End Of The Line/M. Ward (14)

Saturday, January 03, 2009


The first comic I bought and read this year also happens to be the first issue of a new mini-series from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, Incognito. This is their second creator-owned book for the Icon imprint and comes while they take a break from their ongoing series Criminal, of which I have been a fan without having read all of the series yet (a fact I plan on remedying in 2009). Incognito grew out of Brubaker's thoughts on the pulp origins of super-heroes, though this series focuses on a villain.

In this first issue, we are introduced to Zach Overkill. He is a former science-villain who teamed with his twin brother under the name Overkill Brothers. His brother is now dead and Zack is in a kind of witness protection under a system set up by Professor Zeppelin. They worked for an organization called Black Death but now Zach is working as a file clerk and his powers are controlled by drugs. He is cut off from society in a number of ways and numbing himself with drugs and women. Things change and events are set in motion that can only end badly. It should be quite a ride.
I am a big fan of Sean Phillips. He draws in a gritty yet clean and accessible style that works very well for these kind of books. He knows how to tell a story through his art. He also does a killer drawing of The Shadow for the back matter, in which Jess Nevins gives us the history of The Shadow. I never realized there were differences betwee the pulp and radio versions before.
Ed Brubaker is interested in what makes criminals tick and this looks to be another great character study. I'm looking forward to seeing where this series goes.

2008 was a very interesting year for me. I started the year continuing with my job as an assistant in charge of swimming lessons at the YMCA and it was a job a liked, though it could be stressful at times. As the months wore on, however, I became very disenchanted (for a variety of reasons) and started to become quite unhappy. It got to the point where I could see myself taking a long slide back into depression, a state of mind I had worked very hard to shed over a long period of years. I knew I couldn't continue along that path.

What I loved most about my YMCA job was being in the water with the kids teaching them how to swim. I had fun doing it and the kids had fun with me and their parents appreciated what I did for their kids. I realized that I really had become a teacher and found a lot of satisfaction in it. So, I decided I should go back to school and work towards becoming a teacher. Within a couple months of that decision, I was not only back in college but also working as a teacher's aide at a local elementary while also continuing to teach a couple hours of swimming lessons a week. It made for a very interesting a busy four months at the end of the year but I had once again put myself back on a course that was good for me.

Now it's 2009 and I always use the start of the year to try and refine myself as I go forward. I'm not making any specific resolutions for the year (outside of delivering more actual content in the this blog and not just be content to put up a series of lists). I just want to put myself more out there in terms of my life - more willing to try new things, to create, to give more of myself, to spend more time with family and friends, to do my jobs better. I want 2009 to be a year I don't regret, a year I can look back on as a year I completely came into my own.

I realize that sounds pretty ambitious but I think it can be achievable. I want it to be a good year and I'm going to work on making it happen. Wish me luck and I hope all of you have a great year as well.