Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas '05

I hope everyone had or is having a great gaggle o’ holidays. I’m pleased to announce that my girlfriend got me a beautiful copy of Absolute Watchmen, and to satiate her Logan-lust I got her the first two Greg Rucka Wolverine trades (thanks to the staff of CBG for recommendations) along with the first season of Lost and a matching set of earrings and ring. In the hopes of expanding my older brother’s funnybook range (traditionally he only reads Batman and X-related stuff, and only then if it’s the darker and violent stories), I got him the first volumes of Sleeper and Lone Wolf and Cub (Lone Wolf may be a leap, but I’m fairly certain he’ll dig Sleeper). He, in turn, got me a $50 gift certificate to Earthworld, my local comic shop, which I’m planning on spending today providing they’re open.

Speaking of which, if you haven’t already checked out JC Glindmeyer’s two-part list of unforgettable customers (JC owns Earthworld) at Comic Book Galaxy, go now. It’s great stuff. The first part is here, and the second is here.

I knew about one of JC’s Unforgettables, but only because it was mentioned in an article about the shop in Albany’s free weekly reader: The Metroland. The magazine regularly chooses Earthworld as the Capital District’s Best Comic Shop, though I think in the last series of “Best of” they chose Aquilonia Comics instead (in nearby Troy). But I think that was mainly because they just wanted to mix it up a little bit. I haven’t been to Aquilonia much, but for my tastes Earthworld definitely kicks its ass (in case you’re wondering, I’m not refusing to provide a link to Aquilonia out of consumer loyalty or anything like that – as far as I know, they don’t have a website). In my experience, Earthworld is much better purely as far as its diverse supply of comics is concerned. If there’s any area where Aquilonia surpasses Earthworld, it’s in the peripheral trading card and RPG stuff (something I’m not that interested in). In fact, my brother prefers Aquilonia only because they have weekly Magic card tournaments.

The biggest Xmas surprise was that my girlfriend got me a laptop. I half-suspected it because she wrapped up the box and put it under the tree early (we got a real tree this year, our first), and it seemed too big to be anything else I wanted (other than maybe a Hulk statue or something, but it wasn’t heavy enough…er…not that I picked it up beforehand or anything…um…), but at the same time I didn’t think she could afford it. It turns out her family on the West Coast all chipped in to get it for me. I’ve never been as touched by a present, especially coming from people I don’t really know all that well. With working all night and going to school in the day, it’s something I desperately need. With nothing but literature, fiction writing, and journalism classes in my collegiate future; things are going to get very writing intensive, and I need what I’ve been jokingly referring to as a “mobile base of operations.” I need to be able write anywhere, anytime, or I’m just not going to be able to get done what needs to get done. The specifics of my job both help and hinder my writing. My job’s relatively low-stress so I usually get a lot of school work done there; but it’s always been a pain in the ass because my PC at home has MS word, all the PCs at school have MS Word, but the PC at work only has Word Perfect. It’s usually not a huge deal - I just write stuff in WP, copy and paste it into e-mails sent to myself, and voila everything’s hunky dory. But thing’s just got a little bit more complicated. They replaced the PC I use at work, and the security settings are all funky. Among other things, I can’t save text files, and I don’t think I have to tell anyone how risky a proposition it is to write papers on a computer if you don’t or can’t save periodically.

If they hadn’t gotten it for me, I would’ve had to use next semester’s loan check to buy one. Now I can use the loan check money for more frivolous stuff like food and rent, and it’s desperately needed because I just found out that, as of my next paycheck, I’ll be doling out close to $300 every month to cover me and Nicole on domestic partner insurance. Nicole’s looking for another job, but in the meantime I have to make that loan stretch as far as it can.

All in all, it’s been a great Christmas. My brother, at least temporarily, made peace with my parents and thankfully showed up to their place on Christmas Eve with my adorable nephew who’s finally saying “Mommy” and “Daddy” (and breaks all our hearts every time he does). More than anything else, I’m happy Nicole was here. We’ve been going out for three years, and this is the first year she didn’t spend Christmas with her family in California. Our relationship takes some hard blows every semester, what with our competing schedules and all the stress of school and work (and we both contend with that two-headed monster). We really needed this downtime to just snuggle and be lazy and enjoy some holiday lovin’. Holidays are good, I think. Even if you have to buy a lot of crap.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Hopefully, no one will be watching the Watchmen

Well, every now and then there’s some good news. Good news only, of course, if Hollywood’s continuing failure at adapting Watchmen to the screen keeps going as it is, and the project eventually goes the way of the Nicolas Cage Superman.

I don’t care who’s directing it or who’s in the cast. I don’t care if it’s two hours, two and a half hours, or three and a half hours. I don’t care whether Alan Moore’s name should be taken off all of his DC work or if they start printing his name on the covers larger than the titles.

Hollywood cannot produce a film adaptation that stays true to the spirit of Watchmen. There isn’t an audience in the world willing to sit in a theater for as long as such an adaptation would take. There isn’t an American audience ready for a superhero film that defies, as a true Watchmen adaptation would have to, the conventional superhero formula. There isn’t a studio in the world that would produce Watchmen without the intent of making it a blockbuster, and there isn’t a studio in the world that would produce a superhero blockbuster without the conventional formula intact. Rorschach will become Wolverine, Nite Owl will become either Mr. Incredible or Arthur from The Tick, and Doctor Manhattan. Oh, poor Doctor Manhattan.

If I believed in curses I’d boil frogs’ eyes and kill goats or whatever I had to do to make sure this project keeps going in the same direction: absolutely fucking nowhere.

The only Watchmen adaptation I could imagine working would be a cable mini-series, probably on HBO, provided of course the director and cast were up to the task and respectful of the source material. It would give the series the time it needed and the creators the freedom they needed to give its audience a story about superheroes that was completely unfamiliar to them. If it ever looks like something like that might happen, I’ll happily post my geek-positive dream cast lists and whatever else I might do if I found out there were adaptations in the works for Great Lakes Avengers. Until that happens or Hollywood abandons its plan for one of the greatest graphic novels of the 20th century altogether, I hereby promise that I would rather let Rorschach play with my mother’s underwear than give any more indications that I care about whatever piece of shit Hollywood may or may not squeeze out with the name Watchmen.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Just stopping by to confirm I'm not dead

I'm currently at the final third of a a 12-hour shift, and really I'm just posting so I don't fall asleep. I've worked overtime before and usually it's a breeze, but I've found it's a hell of a lot easier to come in 3 or 4 hours early and leave at the usual time than to come in at the usual time and stay 3 or 4 hours late.

Finals are over, so hopefully I'll have some more to say soon, but in the meantime I just wanted to let folks kind enough to follow my blog know that more stuff will be forthcoming. I've been a slug since school ended, using my usual writing time (my overnight job) to play flash games and watch TV.

This semester felt like a complete waste, but I'm amping up for happier (and a hell of a lot busier) times this coming term. Rather than two classes I have no interest in and was retroactively informed I didn't even need; I've got a graduate-level fiction writing workshop, two writing intensive lit courses, and a journalism class. Lots of writing. Hopefully I'll have a new laptop by the time school starts to help me handle all the typing (I have one now, but it's old and the battery has the staying power of a Chevy Chase talk show).

So yeah, expect more stuff later. And before I forget, congrats to Chris Allen for being picked as one of the Eisner judges.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Brief break from superhero stuff

Tragically, a student in my school committed suicide yesterday. Today was my last history class and our professor used the news of the freshman's death to segue into a discussion of stress during finals. I don't mean to diminish the death of a student by suggesting it didn't warrant in-class discussion, but this particular professor has a tendency to use any excuse to get melodramatic. He seemed sure he impress us, for example, by mentioning that this was the "third or fourth" student death he'd seen since working at our school. According to a speech the Dean at the time gave, at my transfer orientation we were informed that - including part-timers and grad students - there's around 20,000 students enrolled at our institution. The fact that a professor had been working there long enough for 3 or 4 students to die ain't exactly a sign of the endtime. And while I don't know exactly how long he's been at our school, he has tenure so it's likely those three or four deaths were spread across at least a decade or so. Even if he meant to say "suicides" instead of just "deaths," I'm no statistician but it doesn't sound particularly cataclysmic. There was no need to present it to us like he was coming straight out of 'Nam.

Anyway, he went on and on about how we shouldn't place too much importance on the subject of Medeival England, that it wasn't worth our lives, that nothing in college was worth it, blah blah blah. Nice sentiment. Condescending as hell, as usual, but nice sentiment.

After ten minutes or so of the same nice sentiment re-worded and repeated, he told us he hoped we do well on our take-home final because giving out bad grades was like "losing a patient on the operation table."


On one hand, we shouldn't place too much importance on our grades. On the other, if we get bad grades it's comparable to dying during surgery.

I just thought all this was amusing until I got home and told Nicole about it. See, as a grad student Nicole has taught at my school and knows all the rules professors are supposed to follow.

This s the last week of classes. According to Nicole, professors are strictly prohibited from giving finals during this week. Finals aren't supposed to start until next Tuesday.

So the guy with his nice sentinments and his droll speeches about how we shouldn't stress out about grades is the same guy who's giving me and everyone else in my class six less days preparation than we should have because he and his Teacher's Assistant have other commitments. Yeah, it's a take-home, but it's due tomorrow and unfortunately my other professor is ALSO breaking the rules and giving us a final tomorrow, so I somehow have to squeeze in studying for geography while writing essays about history, and I get to do both AT MY JOB.

Fuck professors. Fuck them in their runny bottoms.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Songs for superheroes and supervillains

Probably like at least a few other bloggers, posting here is going to be sporadic at best until after finals. For me, that means the end of this week. The good news is I only have two finals and one's a take-home, the bad news is they both take place within 24 hours of each other: I get the take-home on Wednesday at 3 pm, it's due Thursday at the same time, and meanwhile I have an in-class final Thursday at 2:35 pm.

In the meantime, anyone have any good ideas for songs for superheroes/villains? Some of my co-workers have this unofficial mixed CD club and (probably due to the fact that I work at night and therefore have minimal contact with everyone else) I've never been invited. I thought making a "Songs for superheroes and supervillains" CD that I could distribute as cheap-o holiday presents would also act to force my way into their elitist CD-swapping. I'm not looking for stuff that's based on specific superheroes like Prince's "Batdance" or one of the half-dozen or so songs titled "Superman". More like stuff that could be said to have kind of a superhero-y/villain-y feel. For example, some songs I was thinking of using are "One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces" by Ben Folds Five (the speaker seems very supervillain-y), "Show Me How To Live" by Audioslave (a song about Frankenstein's Monster that could easily be transplanted to a character like the Hulk or any number of other comic book monsters), Coldplay's "Everything's Not Lost", Tom Petty's "Learning to Fly", etc.