Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Ho, ho!

Boy, I sure showed Smallville a thing or two, huh? Really took it down a peg. Gough and Millar are probably giving up and packing it in as we speak. Woo! It feels good to make a difference.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Smallville again

Hey, I forgot to mention the part in the season 4 premiere when Clark... sorry, "Kal-El," is flying towards Lex's jet and the pilot notices him on the radar and the co-pilot says "What is it? A bird? A plane?" That's the sort of self-referential, Silver-Age-fanboy-fellating nonsense I can do without in my life, thanks. Shut up, Smallville! You're ruining everything.

Ideal Me

For some reason today it occurred to me that I know next to nothing about the history of Mexico. Then I remembered that I know very little about the history of most of the world, including this great nation of ours. I am also spectacularly inept at learning foreign languages. I'm not very cosmopolitan, I guess is what I'm saying. So let's check in on Ideal Me.

Ideal Me speaks four languages and can carry scintillating conversations about history and politics. Ideal Me is also a smooth-talking confidence man, but that's neither here nor there.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Addition to the geek lexicon

I'm going to add "retcon" to my list of frequently-used geek terms shoved into my everyday speech (see: post pre-crisis). "Retcon," for those not down with the Pee Pants*, means "to retroactively alter continuity" in comics and such. For example, Buffy retconned Spike's origin so that Druscilla was his sire, not Angel, as was originally implied. I'm going to cut up some magazines tonight, break out the old high school yearbook, and recon Emory out of existence and replace him with Victoria's Secret models. I think everyone from high school will be happier that way. If he asks what I'm doing, I'll scream "I'm retconning you!" and then punch him in the eye so he runs off crying like the timid schoolgirl we all know him to be.

Maybe I'll retcon this day at work out of my memory tonight with a quart of Jack Daniels. We'll see.

*Oh, MC Pee Pants. You were too much of an abomination to live.

My least favorite argument

"The terrorists want candidate X to win, so you should vote for the other candidate."

I mean, seriously. Speculating about this is a colossal waste of time. Are you Osama Bin Laden? No? Then you don't know what he's thinking! You don't! Stop speculating!

Of course, if I were Osama Bin Laden, I would probably root for the candidate who has failed to catch me for over three years.


Of course, Tom Tomorrow covered this awhile ago, but it's been coming up again lately.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Smallville's my enemy

I got home in time today to catch the last 3/4 or so of the Smallville finale that Matt and Frank were watching on tape. It's important that I occasionally catch an episode so that my deep hatred of the show is justified. I didn't want the show to magically become good while my back was turned, you see. As always, I needn't have worried.

So hey, Lois Lane comes in this season. Perhaps you're wondering why they brought Lois Lane in, since this is supposed to be about Clark's early days and all. Add to that the regular presence of Lex Luthor and the occasionally guest-appreance by Perry White, and you've got most of the core Superman cast. I mean, what's the point of setting the show in Smallville if you're just going to have all the characters from Metropolis show up in Smallville? (What city is Metropolis supposed to be, anyway? St. Louis? (gasp) Kansas City?) So if instead of coming up with new characters, or actually focusing on the core cast you've got (I'm looking at you, Pete Ross), you just keep importing cast members from Superman, what then? Then the show just turns into Jim Henson's Superman Babies, doesn't it? And why include such pre-Crisis bullshit like the different colored Kryptonites? That's what you get for letting Jeph Loeb anywhere near your goddamn show. We know what a visionary he is. Hey, remember when Gough/Millar said Clark would never fly in their series? Well, he's flying all over in the season 4 premiere, but they dodge that bullet by claiming Clark isn't Clark when he flies, he's "Kal-El." Nice cop-out, guys, thanks.

I'm really hard on this show, I know. I'd be a lot easier on it if the dialogue and acting weren't uniformly awful. When Tom Welling is "Kal-El" he's supposed to look all intense and pissed except he can only look doofy. You just want to pinch his cheeks and say "Awww, issums all mad?" Frank describes his normal as expression as "Who took my fudgesicle?" which sums it up best, I think. Kristen Kreuk isn't much better, but the season 4 premiere mostly just has her (or her body-double, at least) traipsing around naked in Paris. She barely has to speak. Probably for the best. Michael Rosenbaum and John Glover are the only ones who ease my pain, although Rosenbaum's quality has declined since season 1.

This show really pisses me off. And it's not just that it's still on the air while Angel was cancelled. Although that's probably part of it.

Foiled again!

So my X-Factor essay (review? critique?) is proving longer than I thought it would be, plus I was pretty busy on Monday and Tuesday evenings, and writing an extended essay on comics at my work is problematic for a number of reasons, so here I am again (on my own), with no X-Factor and more stuff about my life.

I remembered yesterday that karaoke on Tuesday ended with Frank giving my phone number to Darien, the Karaoke Overlord. For what reason, exactly, I can only speculate. I'm fuzzy on the details. I wasn't drunk, just really tired. Then I, along with Doug, Jenni, Kim, and this guy Jay I've met a couple of times, went to the Powells' to hang out. Except I only stayed about five minutes because I realized it was 1:30 in the morning and I was dead tired, plus I had to get up in six hours. So off I scampered to the apparent perplexelment (my made of word of the day) of everyone there. Despite my efforts, my body still didn't think it had enough sleep, so it put me in a coma most of yesterday evening. I got home, flopped down on the couch, fell asleep, woke up around 8 when Emory and Leslie got home, watched Lost (it's as awesome as I'd hoped) and some Invader Zim and then fell asleep again around 10:45, again on the couch. I only made it to my bed around 1:30 AM, with considerable effort.

Body, I'm sorry I torture you with so little sleep. But I got shit to do, man! Lay off! You didn't used to act like this, even a couple of years ago. Clearly I am getting old.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Peter David's X-Factor

Last Wednesday saw the release of the first issue of the Madrox limited series, starring B-list X-character Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man. While the current deluge of X-titles has many worried about a repeat of the 90s comic book nadir, I'm pleased to report that Madrox is off to an excellent start. It's a real bright spot in Marvel's oversaturated line. That's because the miniseries is written by Peter David, who during the dark days of the 1990s turned more than a few heads with his refreshingly breezy run on X-Factor.

Back in 1991, there were only two major X-team books on the market (a more innocent time, to be sure), Uncanny X-Men and X-Factor. (For the sake of argument, my tale comes between New Mutants #100 and X-Force #1. Just go with it.) At the time, X-Factor's lineup consisted of the original X-Men: Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Archangel, and Iceman. In the big crossover "The Muir Island Saga," both the X-Men and X-Factor join forces to battle the Shadow King and his cadre of brainwashed peripheral X-characters. It's classic Claremont "X-Men vs. X-Men" brouhaha. In the end, the Shadow King is defeated, Prof. X's son Legion is put in a coma, and the X-Men and X-Factor merge into one big group of X-Men, leading into the release of Claremont and Jim Lee's X-Men #1, which perhaps one or two of you may have heard of. (X-Men #1 sold 5 million copies. FIVE MILLION. I mean, I know a lot of that was speculators, but Jesus.) This, of course, left X-Factor without a roster. Enter new writer Peter David.

In David's hands X-Factor was reimagined as a government strike team to replace the defunct Freedom Force, the group of former X-villains (Mystique, Blob, et. al) whose eventual meltdown surprised absolutely no one. (In fact, Freedom Force wasn't disbanded. They were all either killed, maimed, or captured by an Arab-themed super-group called Desert Sword. Yeah, you read that right. Trust me, it was even worse on the page.) So government liason Valerie Cooper attempts to revive the government strike team concept, only this time she doesn't compose the team of mutant felons. Of course, most of the characters from "The Muir Island Saga" went traipsing over to the X-Men (which ballooned their membership to the point where they needed two strike teams and another title), so Val's choices for membership were a grab-bag of B and C-list mutants.

The highest-tier character as far as reader recognition was the team leader, Alex Summers aka Havok. Havok had been an X-Man for some time, but lost his memory when the X-Men were forced through the Siege Perilous (one of my favorite bits of X-continuity) and wound up as a Genoshan magistrate. He was discovered by the X-Men during the X-Tinction Agenda, regained his memory, and decided to help rebuild Genosha after the mutates were liberated. That's where Val finds him when she recruits him to lead X-Factor. Havok only agrees to join after Professor Xavier convinces him that a team with government backing would be a great help to all mutantkind. That, and he discovers his ex-girlfriend has joined up.

That would be Lorna Dane, aka Polaris, the female master of magnetism. Also included are Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man (natch), and Guido Carosella, who decides, against Havok's wishes, to codename himself Strong Guy. Rounding out the team is Rahne Sinclair, aka Wolfsbane, who follows Havok to the team because she's in lurve with him. (Well, she's in love with him and she was also mentally/emotionally bonded with him back when she was turned into a mutate during X-Tinction Agenda, it's later revealed.) David's best casting coup is to bring in Pietro Maximoff, aka Quicksilver, during the first issue, and integrate him in as a team member. Quicksilver, total outspoken jerk that he is, gets all the best lines.

It was certainly an inspired line-up, and certainly one that stood out from the glossy, hip mutants popping up in X-Men and X-Force around the same time. Of course, the thing that made X-Factor so different then, and continues to make it stand out today, was that it tried to be funny while still managing to contain all the mutant action readers were used to. The first issue of the new direction, #71, centers around a running gag about a mayonnaise jar that won't open, but ends with what appears to be the brutal slaying of Madrox at the hands of an unseen gunman. (Don't worry, kids. It was a dupe.) There are plenty of pop culture references (my favorite being when some bystanders mistake Madrox as the Rocketeer), as well as some breaking of the fourth wall, a technique David would later use on Captain Marvel.

I was re-reading the run before doing this write-up, and I've got to admit that most of the jokes fall flat. David relies a bit too much on puns, and a lot of the pop culture references were stale even then, let alone over 10 years later. However, David does come up with some amusingly ridiculous villains for the team to fight, such as the Nasty Boys and Hell's Belles, teams of mutants with ridiculous names serving as flunkies for X-villain A-listers Mr. Sinister and Cyber, respectively. These teams are so mangy, they make X-Factor's roster look star-studded by comparison, a point David has fun with. At one point Gorgeous George, one of the Nasty Boys with the power to change shape, comments, "I never should have had that third beer. Now I'll never remember how long my arms are supposed to be."

Fun stuff, certainly, but the humor angle meant David was less successful in dealing with the actual politics of the team. Guido's early insistence that mutatns be referred to as "genetically challenged" by the media wasn't particularly amusing in '91 and drops like a lead balloon now. And we never really get any insight into the actual politics of the team and their relationship to the government. Poor Val Cooper is mostly used for comic relief, but it's still pretty funny when Val tries to show the team their new government-built Danger Room, and the doorknob comes off in her hand, preventing anyone from entering. There is a nice little story where the team has to keep the Mutant Liberation Front from killing a doctor who has perfected a procedure which tells if an unborn child will be a mutant, and several team members are conflicted about the rightness of their actions. In the end, they save the doctor, but Wolfsbane destroys the research behind the procedure and Val covers for her. But that was about as serious as it got, barring a brief crossover with The Incredible Hulk, David's other book at the time. I'd talk about that in greater detail, but don't have the Hulk issue. C'est la vie.

X-Factor, despite David's objections, was dragged kicking and screaming into the massive "X-Cutioner's Song" crossover, and most of team was immediately relegated to standing in the background and making the occasional one-liner. Only Havok emerges unscathed, taking over leadership (along with Storm) of the collected X-teams in his brother's absence (Cyclops was kidnapped at the beginning of the storyline). This proved to be the beginning of the end for David's brief tenure on the title.

David still had one more trick up his sleeve: X-Factor issue 87, the issue immediately following "The X-Cutioner's Song," in which the entire team is psychoanalyzed by Hulk supporting cast member Doc Samson. And it's drawn by current Marvel EIC Joe Quesada, no less. In one issue, David cuts to the core of each character, shedding light on new aspects of their personality. Guido's power leaves him in constant agony, Madrox can't stand to be alone, Lorna has self-image issues, and Alex is constantly doubting his leadership. My favorite segemnt is with Quicksilver, who patiently explains that his arrogance stems from the simple fact that no one can think faster than he can, so he perceives himself to always be surrounded by simpletons. As he notes, "[My] life is being slowed to a crawl... by the inabilities or the inconvenient behavior of others. It's not a rational or considerate attitude to have, but there it is." Nice one. Nothing incredibly groundbreaking, sure, but it made for a refreshing change from the histrionic angst and brainless posturing going on over in X-Men and X-Force, respectively. X-Factor 87 remains the high point of David's run.

David's last few issues were fairly unremarkable. The team has a brief run-in with Random, a bizarre mutant-for-hire who seemed to have a superpower for every occasion. During Howard Mackie's later run he was revealed to have been created by the Dark Beast from Age of Apocalypse, removing any intrigue the character built-up his early appearances. Ruining Random is probably the least of Mackie's sins on X-Factor, however, so let's move on. The team had an unremarkable adventure in Genosha, (but hasn't every adventure in Genosha since "X-Tinction Agenda" been unremarkable?) and then David left the book. His successor was J.M. DeMatteis, and I can't really think of a starker contrast. DeMatteis is king angst, most famously for the Spider-Man story "Kraven's Last Hunt," in which Kraven buried Spidey alive and later blew his own brains out. True to form, DeMatteis celebrated X-Factor's 100th issue by killing off the fun-loving Multiple Man (he got better down the line). X-Factor continued to decline in quality until the aforementioned Mackie run, which remains one of the worst runs on any comic I've ever read. Oooh boy, is it bad.

Uh, anyway, even though David's stint on X-Factor was criminally brief (less than 20 issues), his playful tone and band of misfit characters stood out like a blazing sun in the X-books of the early 90's, and still contiues to be unique today. With Rob Liefeld's return to X-Force a few months ago, I despaired for the future of the X-books, but with David's return to his old cast on Madrox, I have a bit more hope.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

I know...

I know , I promised you a post about comics, but then I just ended up posting about Crazy Racist Lady. Comics are coming soon, I promise. My first entry in the new Comics I Have Loved column will be Peter David's X-Factor. I'm currently re-reading it so I'll have fun and interesting things to say. It's all for the benefit of you, the (non-existent) reader.

The wheels on the bus

I was riding the bus today from Glendale to Pasadena, and there was this crazy woman on board. I mean, she didn't seem crazy at first, but then this guy got on board, sat up near the driver, and began speaking to him in Spanish. Just making some Spanish conversation. Bad call, Spanish-speaking guy! The woman starts yelling at the guy (keep in mind that she is closer to the back of the bus) to "shut up" and "stop gossiping." At first it seemed like she just wanted quiet so she could sleep or something, but no, then she starts talking about how "those people" claim they can't speak English well, but they sure do know how to say "I'm hungry," or "I need money." She kept going on and on about how these people are stealing from, as she put it, "me and mine" and taking food from the mouths of her children. So the Spanish-speaking guy reaches his stop and gets off the bus, so I figure she must be done, right? Wrong-o! She keeps spouting her racist diatribe, except instead of coming up with new material, she goes back to the beginning and starts it again, almost verbatim. Like it was her racist speech she had memorized and she really wanted to get some mileage out of it. It was hilarious. Better yet, everyone sitting near her moved to the very back of the bus, one by one. So by the time I reached my stop, the lady was the only one in the front 2/3 of the bus and the other 10 or so passengers were all crammed in the very back. The lady had stopped talking by this point, but she had gone through her speech no less than four times. Say what you will about racists, but they have got their shit down pat.

People, this is just one example of why a portable CD player is a necessity for any LA bus ride. I'm counting the days until I get mine back from Charlotte. (Three!)

Thursday, September 16, 2004


After I had pretty much figured I'd never see or hear from her again, Heather called me back yesterday. She was extremely apologetic and seemed pretty convinced that I would be really mad at her, but I had to inform her I wasn't because really, I wasn't. I recently realized how completely uninterested I am in dating. Which isn't to say that I didn't have a great time with Heather and don't want to see her again. I do. Heck, it's not every date where you cross paths with a 12 year-old mandolin prodigy. I just can't muster up the will to go out with girls I don't know very well and try to charm them. What a hassle.

This is most likely because I've never had a girlfriend who wasn't already a friend of mine. I got to know my girlfriends outsides of a 'dating' context, so there wasn't the pressure of 'If I don't deliver the charm I'll never see her again!' And as I wrote that I realized it was a lie, since both Bre and Ali were both completely aware that I liked them (I was not, shall we say, subtle) so really there was pressure to impress every time I saw them. But since we were in the same circle of friends, I was given ample time to worm my way into their consciousnesses.

I just can't take this pressure to immediately impress. I'm shy around strangers, and not much of a conversationalist one-on-one, so I clam up. Sure, you stick me in a crowd of friends, put a few drinks in me, I'm Fun City. But if I'm in a coffee shop sitting across from you, and this is maybe the third time we've ever spoken, I will most likely just sullenly stare.

I swear, if I weren't so very, very lonely I would swear off dating forever. That sentence is ridiculous. Look at it and how stupid it (and therefore I) is. I is so stupid. I think that's more than enough for now. I have exceeded my doctor's recommended daily dosage of navel gazing.

Next time... comics!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Drink, McNulty, drink!

Look how I've learned to do links!

You know what totally snuck up on me? The third season of The Wire starts in just a few short days. The first season was an unqualified masterpiece, and the second season, while decidedly more uneven than the first, still had a lot to recommend it. Since season three seems to be returning to the streets (rather than the docks of season 2), I have a lot of hope.

I don't know why this show hasn't gotten the attention of The Sopranos or even Deadwood (not that I'm knocking either of those shows, mind you), but kudos to HBO for bringing it back.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Queen Dopplepopulous

My roomate's been acting strangely lately. When I originally proposed that we should do a DVD double-feature of New York Minute and The Passion of the Christ, it was Emory who insisted it should be a full-fledged party, with decorations and booze and lots of people and other things Emory is famous for not having much time for. The last time we had a party at our apartment, Emory agreed only grudgingly, with the stipulations that he would get to choose the music for the entire evening (sorry, Trumbo) and that I would need to single-handedly clean the apartment the next day. This time, however, not only was the party his idea, but he lept into planning it with a tremendous amount of zeal. He decided on the theme of Blasphemy and single-handedly composed a Wall of Heretics, printing pictures from the internet of everyone from The Dixie Chicks to E.T. Leslie and Lauren were drafted to create artistic masterpieces for the walls, and when their productivity slipped Emory was right there to egg them on. (Leslie might insist that "egg them on" should be replaced with "whip them repeatedly," if you asked her. I didn't. So.) Emory also sent us out for booze, insisting that we bring back a bottle of Jaggermeister for everyone to partake of. Of course, Emory wasn't going to be drinking, but he was pretty set on cramming Jagger down every poor partygoer's throat. In the end, though, the Jagger proved too expensive for the party's budge, to every boozehound's immense releif.

I suppose Emory really got into the swing of things because the theme of Blasphemy was something he could really passionately get behind, and that the centerpiece of the party was to watch movies, rather than, say, socializing. But Emory organizing an event and insisting everyone get drunk for it is something I've never witnessed. I would cite it as an odd anamoly were it not for what happened this past Sunday.

I informed Emory that Matt and Frank were coming over around one so we could watch the last few episodes of Deadwood that we had missed a few weeks ago. (Deadwood = Fucking. Awesome.) Emory said that was great, but we would need to be finished by 5:30 because that's when the game started. "What game is that?" I inquired. "The Chiefs game," he replied. "We're all going to watch the Chiefs game on ESPN."


I mean, I don't really have anything against football. And neither does Emory, really. But it's not like either of us would actually set aside four hours of our precious weekend to watch a game on TV. But apparently Emory was interested in seeing our old hometown team take on the Broncos, so Leslie, Matt, Daisy, Andrea, and I all watched the Chiefs game. The whole thing. Leslie didn't even know the basic rules of football, so Emory, Matt and I gave her a crash course as we watched. It was a good time, too, even though we lost. But still... the hell? Where did that come from.

I mean, both of these things were really fun and I'm not complaining or anything. It just seems like Emory's branching out, which is a good thing, but also puts me ill at ease. If the day comes where he starts keeping the apartment above his usual arctic-seeming 70 degrees, I'll just assume he's been replaced with a Lizard Man doppleganger and I'll have to shiv him in his sleep. So when you see me on the news being led away by the authorities, covered in Emory's blood and screaming "I did it for the whole human race!", you'll know why.

I'm not a "computer person"

So, uh, I don't really know anything about HTML, or the internet, or anything really, so if this blog looks silly to you then I suggest you get used to it. Because I am bad at stuff like this. Very bad indeed.

Monday, September 13, 2004

So clearly a blog was the answer

So I keep saying I'm interested in writing, and yet I don't actually do much writing at all, really. My friends and I were working on a pilot that just grew less and less interesting to me the more we talked about it. (Although I am much, much more excited about our new project.) So I was all talk, no writey. So I'm starting this blog to encourage myself to write more, since I think I'll write more if I know someone, somewhere is reading what I'm writing. Because I am self-absorbed.

Self-absorbtion will doubtlessly become a theme. I'm just warning you in advance.

The title of my blog here is taken from Emory and I's joke about the opening credits to Farscape, where Crichton provides exposition about the set-up of the series, but sounds really snippy and beligerent about it. Like "Listen, lady, I'm stuck on a ship. A living ship! Are you even listening to me? I don't know why I bother." Insular jokes with high school friends as well as geeky shit like Farscape will most definitely be themes as well. I sense it.