Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Sixteen Sixteen Sixteen

Sixteen years ago, my buddy Bill explained what Blogger was.  It took a while.  Lots yelling, a bit of crying and nearly an entire tablet of drawing paper, but after a while, I was yelling ones and zeroes across the interweb.

At the old salt mines, I tend to mark new hires by their relationship to major events from my life.  We occasionally hire teens at the salt mines.  To mine salt.  As you do.  And I mark their ages.  By the events of my life.  (There's some of that beautiful prose that just keeps you coming back).

In 2009, I hired the first person born after I was permitted to drive.

In 2011, it was the first person born after I graduated high school.

More recently, it was the first person born after 9/11.

Well, in personal terms, I'm gonna hire somebody at some point soon that was born after the start of my blogamathing.

It's been an interesting run.  It became less a primary hobby in the past few years than in its beginnings.  Still, if I ever need to come rant someplace about Marvel movies, flatulence or what I would do if I had a pet rhinoceros (the world's most dangerous game of ring toss comes to mind), I know that I have someplace to holler into the ether.

Anyway, I just want to say thanks for reading.  Thanks for saying hi.  Thanks for being you.  Unless you're a spy or somehow possessed by the spirit of a dead Mesopotamian Holy Man, then thanks for being somebody else!


Thursday, October 25, 2018

He's a regular Marvel Zombie?

News today that Archie and Marvel are ending their relationship publishing Marvel reprints in their digest form.

I was digging these little digests.  I liked that I could actually buy them at my store.  I'd usually read them on a lunch break.  I was only aggravated that there were several stories within, and not any kind of story arc.

Maybe the market's not there, but it bugs me that both DC and Marvel don't try to leverage the huge libraries at their disposal in the mass market. 

Especially when there are a dozen Archie digests on my registers at work that I don't know that I've ever seen anybody pick up to even thumb through, let alone buy.  My small market isn't maybe representative.  But, the news rep would bring in 4-6 copies of the Marvel digest, and they'd all sell out.

Maybe we'll see it.  Maybe Marvel could do a digest form of Dark Phoenix.  Kree-Skrull War.  Secret Wars.  Infinity Gauntlet? 

Maybe the money's in the comic shops. 

Who knows.  I kinda dug these, though.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

In which Tommy Keeps Talking About Marvel (Adjacent) Movies

Wandered out last night to see Venom at the local Movie Palace.

I was pleasantly surprised.

You see, I wasn't excited. 

I read comics in the 90's.  That was right in my comics heyday. 

So I was Venomed pretty much to death, despite rarely picking up a Spider-Man or Venom comic.  Overexposure.  Marvel's strategy depended largely on putting Venom, Punisher, Ghost Rider or Wolverine on a cover, and having them have perhaps 3 panels worth of story within.

Like I said, I didn't read much of the character.  Spider-Man in general is probably the biggest dark hole in my comics ignorance.  It just never much appealed to me.

But the movie looked kinda interesting.

Again, pleasantly surprised.  Good performances from Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams. 

And I liked the way Eddie Brock was treated.  Not a bad guy.  A selfish, self-serving guy, who thinks a little too much of his career, for sure. 

I've long considered Tom Hardy this way:  He's an actor of incredible talent, but poor instincts.  If left to his own devices, or directed poorly, he's liable to muck up a performance.  But used and pointed wisely, he can own a flick.  And he did this one.

A couple minor complaints:  I really thing Sony should have gone ahead and followed Fox on making an R-Rated flick.  I think a little more gore, a little more violence might have contributed to the Horror/Sci-Fi vibe they were looking to channel, or perhaps should have looked to channel a little more strongly.

Language is another one.

SPOILER ALERT.

At one point, Eddie Brock and the Symbiote are having a conversation about personalities, and the symbiote refers to them as two losers.  It's a bit of dialog that rings hollow, somehow.  I'd be curious to hear how the reading went if they'd said "we're a couple of fuckups."

Last minor complaint:  I didn't follow closely, but there was some debate as to whether this venom exists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  The last note I'd heard was that they were considering this Marvel adjacent (for whatever that's worth).  There was one line of dialog that bothered me....Jenny Slate's poorly named Dora Skirth (Adorable skirt? what?) is telling Eddie Brock that the Life Foundation (or whatever) was going out searching for life.  If this is Earth adjacent.... New York got attacked by the Chitauri, they know Thor exists, and that there is most definitely life on other planets. 

To me, it's easily fixable by a line or two of dialog.  You could say that After the Battle of New York, they decided to go searching for resources because they know what's out there.  Or you could have Eddie Brock be a completely skeptical dick and say it was all some kind of conspiracy to rebuild New York....I think the latter could be worked into his character pretty easily.

Anyway, I'm rambling.  I didn't love the flick, but I liked it, and didn't feel like it was a waste of time.


Friday, October 05, 2018

Kingpin

I'm an MCU Zombie.  They just push the right buttons for me.

I've been less enthusiastic about the TV offerings.  Agents of SHIELD is alright, but I'm about 2 seasons behind right now.  The first seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage were all truly fun, with each providing better villains than the big screen versions had, to that point.

Then Daredevil season 2 happened.  It wasn't bad, but I didn't like the focus on Punisher (with one caveat....the Punisher/Kingpin fight in season 2 was probably that season's highpoint).  Then Iron Fist came, and was boring.  And the Defenders didn't do much for me, perhaps because of Iron Fist.  And season 2 of Jessica Jones, also, wasn't bad, but it kinda bogged down in a mythology of its own creation.

But I do have a point, and it pretty much makes the previous paragraph unnecessary.  Vincent D'onofrio's Kingpin has definitely been one of the highpoints of the TV ventures.  Of the whole MCU venture.




This tweet makes me happy.

I went to see Spider-Man Homecoming one afternoon when I was off work, back during its theatrical run.  I went by myself, and sat in a crowded theater with those nice reclining seats.

At the movie's end, when Michael Keaton's Vulture is incarcerated, we hear an off screen voice yell at him.  

The guy sitting next to me marked out completely.  I avoid spoilers and reading much about movies I want to see, anymore.  This is difficult, but I'm able to save the element of surprise for myself.  I had here.  And I started to get excited, too.

Only, it wasn't what we both wanted.  It wasn't the Kingpin in jail.

I want A Big Screen Kingpin.  And I hope it happens.  That tweet makes me hopeful.

He's just so perfect in that roll.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Yep


Seems like a good place to work.

Like NASA.

Only, instead of space missions, you're controlling and coordinating diarrhea.

I don't think Diarrhea Control would be in Houston.

I kinda feel like it'd be someplace like Milwaukee.  Or St. Louis.

But maybe that's the National League Central fan in me.

Speaking of which, the Cubs won the 2016 World Series by shortening swings and taking a LOT of pitches.

They will not win the 2018 World Series.  Because they don't do that.  Except for Javy, they struggle with situational hitting.  Chili Davis was a bad hire.

 Hell, with three games left in the season, with their opponents the Cardinals playing for a playoff spot, and the second place Brewers playing the 90-loss Tigers, I'm not convinced that the Cubs will win the division.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Juliet, Naked

We went see Juliet, Naked today.

I haven't run across a movie this poorly titled since The Neverending Story.

Not a bad flick, with a surprisingly three dimensional performance from Chris O'Dowd....

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sunday Morning

Last day of vacation.  It was a much needed 10 days off.  The past several months have pushed me toward a breaking point.  Was getting pretty sick of it, if my last post was any indication.

Still kinda sick of it.  I've had more days off in the past ten than I'd had in the previous 10 weeks.  Which is bullshit, now that I let myself think about it.

I've spent a lot of time over the past few weeks wondering just where I'm going, what I'm doing.  I've never been a big believer that what you do defines who you are, but the past four or five years have really started to disprove it.  I haven't done much living the past few years.  And I need to change that.

That might mean changing jobs.  

Anyway.  We're going to go to a baseball game this afternoon, I think.  Haven't gotten to do that much in 2018, either.  We're going to see the Lookouts....I think I've been once to their stadium, twice to the Smokies and once to Atlanta this year.  There's not much left for the AA season....

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Notes

I started vacation tonight.

The past couple or three months haven't been a lot of fun.  Boss got moved.  I thought I'd be a shoo-in to take his place.  I was not.  I am working for the person who got the job, now.   I've got no heartburn with her.  I did not enjoy the process, however.

Mostly I'm tired.

And now I'm wondering just what the fuck I'm doing.  At the place.  With my life. 

I'm lucky.  I know that.  I have my health.  I'm in love with a beautiful woman who's helped keep my head on straight for the past several weeks.

But it sucks putting anywhere from 50 to 80 hours in a week in...getting the highest marks on appraisals....doing anything asked.....travelling all over creation....and not getting the nod in the end.  I don't feel appreciated.  And I don't feel paid like I should be.

The new boss has been doing the same.  That's something to remember.  She's been in the same boat.

Like I said, I'm on vacation.  I'm gonna take it easy.  Get a couple projects done.  Try to regain some perspective after the botardism went over and above all expectations.....

Monday, July 16, 2018

Quote

"Whether fool or hypocrite, idiot or traitor, he has proved himself equally unworthy of the important functions that had been delegated to him."
—Thomas Paine, 1791

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Yeah, I'm ranking art.

Just getting my brain going.  I saw Ant-Man and the Wasp the other day, and I enjoyed it.

I've marveled (heh heh heh) at the rate with which Marvel puts out enjoyable movies.  Twenty flicks in to this cinematic universe, and I can say I truly enjoy 19...maybe 18... of them.

I re-watched Age of Ultron recently.  And my opinion of it keeps going down.  That whole Black Window speech about being made a monster really gets in my craw.  And I still feel like the whole destruction of Ultron's engine in Slovenia was a missed opportunity for Hulk...have Thor's hammer hurl him all the way to Sakaar rather than having the Quinjet take him there.  (How did the Quinjet get to Sakaar?)

I've ranked Iron Man 3 lower than I have in the past.  Not because it's not good...it really, really is, much to the chagrin of many Marvel Zombies.  But it just seems so out of synch with the rest of the Universe.  And, in truth, it kinda bugs me that the end result of Iron Man 3 is "I'm blowing up all the Iron Man suits, and getting the shrapnel removed" and then Avengers 2 shows up and Tony's EVEN MORE Iron Man.  It does fit with his personality, though, and I dig how his staying Iron Man stays in the background of his and Pepper's relationship, which falls apart, which was the impetus for Civil War....

I enjoy these flicks.  Very much.  More than a 41-year-old man probably should.  Anyway, just getting my brain moving this morning.....

1.  Captain America: the Winter Soldier
2.  Black Panther
3.  Guardians of the Galaxy
4.  Iron Man
5.  The Avengers
6.  Thor: Ragnarok
7.  Captain America: the First Avenger
8.  Spider-Man: Homecoming
9.   Guardians of the Galaxy, volume 2
10.  Avengers: Infinity War
11.   Iron Man 3
12.  Captain America: Civil War
13.  Thor
14.  Ant-Man and the Wasp
15.  Incredible Hulk
16.  Ant-Man
17.  Doctor Strange
18.  Iron Man 2
19.  Avengers: Age of Ultron
20.  Thor: The Dark World

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Lost World: Jurassic Park

I hadn't seen Lost World: Jurassic Park since its release in theaters way back in 1997.

I hated it.

I disliked the book.  Thought it was a weak money grab.

Then I saw the movie.

Last year, I listened to Jurassic Park again.  Helluva fun book.  Turned into a great movie.

Tonight, we thought we'd give it another try.

Like I said, I hadn't seen it in 21 years.

Now, understand this:  I forgive a lot in movies.  I generally just roll with it. 

What a horrible flick.

Just horrible.

From the trailer sequence to the maddening trek across the island.  It gets only worse when they get to San Diego, though the bit with the doghouse hanging out of the Tyrannosaur's mouth hanging by the dog's chain is a bit a genius and even in my aggravation, I had to give a nod of respect to.  That was pretty funny.

Still.  Horrible.

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Friday

I was supposed to be off today.  My boss is on vacation, and we've got an auditor in the area, so I went in.  Just for a couple hours.  Still, aggravating to have to get up at 5:20 on what was supposed to be a day off, even to work for just a couple hours.  I mean, I have to put on pants, you know?

Got off around ten.  Came home.  Decided to go see Ant-Man and the Wasp at the local theater.  

I dug it, though it felt a little busy and didn't really seem to crack any new ground for anybody.  It was competent, but after the home runs that where Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther, and the gigantor roller coaster that was Infinity War, it felt a little humdrum.  Still, it manages to push most of the right buttons.

Afterward, I caught sight of this gentleman, who impressed me by going to Little Caesar's on his riding lawnmower to pick up a couple pizzas...





Friday, July 06, 2018

A Read

My friend Steve has started a New Blog.  His third.

The impetus for the new blog was not a good one.  Steve has been diagnosed with ALS.

I was floored by today's news.

I invite to you read his new site, here.  I think, if ever I've recommended anything, this is more worth your while than any of that.

Steve is my friend.  He's my kind of weird.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The 2018 Reads, so far

Just a quick recount of what I've been reading this year, which is half over.  It seems like a bigger number than usual, but it's really just shorter books, and driving a little more.  A lot of audiobooks on this one this year, so far....

January

Death Without Company       by Craig Johnson

Johnson turns a good phrase.  This is the second Longmire book, and I've got an itch to go ahead and read the third....

Reading Stephen King      edited by Bryan James Freeman

A collection of Essays from Cemetery Dance.  I'd bought an autographed copy in 2017, and later in the year, had bought a grab bag from the specialty publisher, and another copy was included in that grab bag....

The Strain         by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

I did not like this one.  Seems like a few vignettes imagined by del Toro pieced together by Hogan.  Apologies if that's unfair.  This one was a mess.

Lamb:  The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal    by Christopher Moore

I have other favorites by Moore (Lust Lizard, Coyote Blue), but this one likely shows the most heart, and is probably his strongest novel.  I would call this one recommended reading....

Night Shift     by Stephen King

I'd had a New Year's Resolution to try to read a short story a day in 2018.  That fell apart pretty quickly, but I did read through Night Shift in the early part of the year.  Also part of my attempt to read through King's work in roughly chronological order of publication.  Lots of good stuff in Night Shift.

February

Hail to the Chin:  Further Confessions of a B-Movie Actor      by Bruce Campbell, Craig Sanborn

Light reading, but Fun.  Campbell's my kind of weird.

Fire and Fury:  Inside the Trump White House      by Michael Wolff

I didn't include this one in my Facebook list, mainly because I didn't feel like policing shitty comments.  Fact is, it's not a good book.  I agree with much of what was written, but was surprised by very little.  Wolff seems to be looking to build a Brand, which is unfortunate, since it's the prevailing criticism of the grifter sitting in the Oval Office.  I read wishing for a stronger read, perhaps from Bob Woodward....

The Long Walk      by Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman

Continuing my project.  Still one of my favorites.  Bleak as hell.  Though much about this one, as the week I read it, I was working a ridiculous 70-hour week.

The Civil War: A Narrative, volume I: Fort Sumter to Perryville     by Shelby Foote

Good read, even if it adheres a bit too strongly to the "Lost Cause" narrative for the South.

Eileen      by Otessa Moshfegh
..As much as anything I've read this year, this one keeps popping back.  Bleak.  Sad, and funny.  Manages to hide what was a pretty simple curveball quite efficiently in the narrator's narcissism.  Kudos.  Well played.  I'll be looking for more from Ms. Moshfegh

The Man Without a Face: the Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin    by Masha Gessen

I'd been wanting to read this one for a while, as it had popped up recommended on a couple sites, Sheila's among them.  Interesting, frightening read about Putin's taking power.  Something to take notice of, especially this:  you may believe in the demagogue, but the demagogue does not believe in you. 

March

The Left Hand of Darkness    by Ursula K. LeGuin

A re-read, following the death of LeGuin.  I went through a six- or nine-month phase when I was about 20 reading just about everything I could get my hands on by LeGuin, and then maybe a book or two since.  Just a special writer.  And deserving of mention among this country's greatest.

Whale Season    by N.M. Kelby

Goofy fun.  A Christmas gift from my buddy Micah.  Reminds me of early Carl Hiassen, with a mix of Christopher Moore thrown in.....

The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard      by David Goodman

The Kindle lunchtime read.  I wanted something I could put down without feeling too bad about having to leave it when I got called away.  Not bad, even if it stretches a little too often to reach out to some famous stories not specifically involving Picard in the mentioned canon of the show....

The Right Stuff      by Tom Wolfe

Great read.  I'd read maybe all of this over the course of my life, but never from front to back.

Ready Player One     by Ernest Cline

I wanted to re-read (or re-listen, in this case) to in advance of Spielberg's flick this past spring.  Pure dorky escapism.  The criticisms leveled of its being derivative (it's a grail quest, guys), nihilist (yeah, a bit, but that may be why I like it) and sexist (yeah, it is, and there's not a lot of defending it) are valid.  I like it anyway.  To this point, I consider Cline a one-hit-wonder.  His follow up Armada?  That's one you can really hate on....

April

The Hunger      by Alma Katsu

I loved this one.  Amazing period horror piece.  Unfairly compared to Dan Simmons' The Terror.  This one is vastly superior, if only becasue it doesn't slobber over its wordcount.  It manages to keep you off balance, uncertain for the cause of events nicely through most of the book.  It's not often that a book's atmosphere and isolation suck me in so completely.  Well done.

Deadwood    by Pete Dexter

I started this once in December of last year, and because it was the busiest time of the year, I didn't make it far.  I tried again in April, and I dug this one.  Great turns of phrase.

The Dead Zone    by Stephen King

Continuing the project.  This was one of the first King books I went through in the early 1990's, after I initially read The Shining.  I'd forgotten vast chunks of the book, but remembered odd things with startling clarity...the kicking of the dog; the wooden toys; the sawed-off pool cues Stillson's thugs carried in their pockets; the way Stillson's rallies were molded....the last one rang especially true with how Trump's rallies still proceed.....

Dear Committee Members     by  Julie Schumacher

An odd epistolary novel.  It made me smile, though it hasn't popped to mind once since I read it, I'm sorry to say.

The Fairies of Sadieville      by Alex Bledsoe

The last of the Tufa books.  Alex's books have heart, and they write about a South that I know very well, and they do so without a wry smile.  I came to enjoy the sense of community in the Tufa books most, and this one is the strongest of the bunch.  Laugh out loud moment:  a favorite character rants about getting horrible cell service in his own driveway (preach!!!!), but getting five bars at the lip of a magical land.....

Jack-Rabbit Smile     by Joe R. Lansdale

You know, Joe's got my loyalty.  If he hadn't, I'd be back again on the strength of likening a truck collision to heaven blowing a bean fart.  Hap and Leonard back at it.  This one might be some of my favorite Leonard Pine since Savage Season.....

May

The Girl with All the Gifts     by M.R. Carey

A gift from Shyam.  I enjoyed this one, even though I'm feeling very real zombie fatigue.  Surprisingly sweet.

The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels   by Jon Meacham

A Commute listen.  A good read, even if it is Meacham's most mission-oriented book.  A look at the Presidency as the Conscience of our nation.  Focuses largely on the administrations of Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson, with looks at Lincoln, Eisenhower, JFK and Reagan who all had periods where facing down Populism, Fascism and Terrorism, and not always in ways associated with the philosophies of their persons, or political leanings....

Dead Mountain:  The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident  by Donnie Eichar

Another commute listen.  I'd had this one on my periphery for a while.  The old Coast-to-Coast listener in me was familiar with the story, and with a few of the theories.  I was pleased with the theory presented as a cause for the "madness" by the author.

Strange Weather: Four Short Novels  by Joe Hill

Four novellas, presented with something of a Tales from the Crypt vibe.  Fun.  Hill's response to having just published two word-heavy tomes (N0s4A2, which I liked; and The Fireman, which I did not).  He wanted to streamline, keep it lean.  I dug a couple of the stories very much, especially Loaded, which had me leaning into an okeydoke pretty far, and left me swearing at the end....

June

Noir     by Christopher Moore

I've read a lot of Moore, and enjoyed nearly all of it.  This one made me feel very much like the first couple of his I read (Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove and Island of the Sequined Love Nun).  Funny.  Silly, in a time when we need a little silly.

Circe      by Madeline Miller

An extremely well put together book.  I tend to dig stories about people (or immortals, as it were) finding themselves....

Kitchen Confidential:  Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly   by Anthony Bourdain

I'd owned a copy of this for a while, and never read it.  Bourdain passed.  I went through it.  I think my favorite bit is the entire chapter Bourdain devotes to contradicting everything he's said to this point...a literary "so what the fuck do I know?"

Rowdy:  The Roddy Piper Story    by Ariel Teal Toombs and Colt Baird Toombs

A Kindle read, and one I'd been wanting to get to for a while.  Piper's own autobiography, a weird, skitty read that seemed just like a worker wanting to keep working the crowd, was apparently disappointing even to Piper.  In the last years of his life, he'd been compiling notes to do a better job, but was limited by a life lived hard, and perhaps a little bit of head trauma.  His kids put together a fun, infinitely readable tribute.  I dug this one a lot.

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark   by Carl Sagan

I read this one once upon a time, a couple decades ago, borrowing my roommate's copy.  It was interesting then, and gave me a couple things I'd carried with me since then (especially my stance that we, the richest nation in the world, have the ability to spend a literal fortune on every kid in this country in the name of education, but choose instead to spend the money on missiles).  Reading it this time around hit me a little harder, and scared me a little.  Especially since I've spent much of the last 2 decades working with the public, and seen the lack of functional literacy in a great many of our folks, as well as the lack of critical thinking skills and skepticism in even more of our population.  It also disappointed me in myself, a bit, for my own gullibility a handful of times.....

Tales of the Callamo Mountains    by Larry Blamire

This had popped up on somebody's feed.  Short stories.  Bleak.  Isolated.  A wilderness containing more than the wild.  I enjoyed this collection.....



Thursday, June 21, 2018

Three Deaths

I'm not a big believe that things happen in threes, but it still grabs my attention when it seems to happen.

Three small parts of my life passed in the past 24 to 36 hours.

Woke up this morning to find out Koko the Gorilla had passed.  It actually hit me a little hard, and it got dusty in here for a second.  I remember seeing Koko on Mr. Rogers, way back when.  And anytime a news piece would show up, I'd watch.  This segment with Flea always makes me smile.  The bridging of the gap between the animal kingdom and the human world sometimes reveals the childlike best in humanity.



Yesterday, woke up to the news that Leon White, the man they called Big Van Vader, had passed due to complications from congestive heart failure.  Man, that WCW run for Vader in the early 1990's was one of my favorites.  I always appreciated their ability to maintain the man as a monster for an extended run.  And I resented the hell out of Hulk Hogan for just turning him into another big man for him to defeat, when he wandered over to Turnerland.  I wish Vader had hit the WWE in 1993 or 1994, rather than the couple years later that he did.  And I wish we'd gotten a really, really killer Undertaker/Vader feud.  I think it'd have been epic.

Here's a cool match between Vader and Mick Foley, from the WCW Saturday Night era.  I have seen this match, but I don't know if I saw it on a compilation or on the Network (most likely), but it gives me a feeling of nostalgia that makes me wonder if it wasn't one I watched at a friend or relative's house.  We grew up in the woods with no cable or satellite....so any wrestling I saw from pretty much 1988 to 1995 was through a friend who did have cable....



Lastly, it was announced that John Ward passed away last night.  As the voice of the University of Tennessee sports, he was a ubiquitous presence.  When I play announced football games that we played as kids, there would always be the countdown by fives and the announcement: "Give Him Six!"  In fact, I still play that in my head, from time to time.