August 30, 2007

Funny link:

In a totally unrelated story: My boss gets a little high-strung at times.


Ever After

August 24, 2007

So, it’s over….

Suzanne asked me to go to the mailbox on Tuesday.  And I saw a bulky package at the bottom of the mailbox. I didn’t even curse the lazy mailman for putting it in the mailbox and not at my doorstop.  It was here.  After weeks of waiting for it to arrive in Barnes & Noble or online at Amazon. But finally, I bought it… and now it was here. The last Strangers in Paradise trade paperback

I was going to read Strangers in Paradise: Ever After very slowly.  One issue a night.  That’s how I was going to do it.  I even was going to let Suzanne finish it first (admittedly she was home/sick at the time). So, Tuedsay night I read the first one. Wednesday night I read the second one.

And last night I devoured the rest of it.  There was too much: The talk between Nikki and Francine, the reading of the will, Freddie’s redemption, fall, and redemption again, the confrontation between Francine and Brad, and the truth about… well that would be giving everything away. 

The best moment… well, not the best moment… cause that will make me seem more pervy than I am… But there was a great moment between Terry Moore (the artist) and the readers of Strangers in Paradise with an aside for horny fanboys everywhere. 

Terry has gone out of his way to make this story about love.  This love happens to be between two women, Francine and Katchoo.  And these two experience and explore every aspect of love.  Now, obviously this attaches the word LESBIAN to the book. This is fine.  Katchoo is bisexual by an outsider’s definition (that she has had sex with both men and women).  She would probably describe herself as a lesbian who loves a man: David.

But when you attach the word LESBIAN to anything aimed at a primarily male oriented audience, other words get attached to it simply by association, like lines put on a website to get noticed on a Yahoo search: YOUNG HOT LESBIAN TEENS NAKED SEX HORNY DRIPPING BOOBS THREESOME

And Terry went out of his way to not descend to that level. He avoided any overly titilaing images from his comic book, specifically nude shots. Yes the girls were occassionally in bathing suits, in underwear, and (once) stripping their clothes off in the middle of a park. But this was all for dramatic affect.  He took the high road. He could show the girls naked if he wanted.  It was a self-published comic book.  He didn’t need to answer to anyone (except maybe his wife). He went the artistic route.

Tho as an artist and a male, I’m sure that drawing the nude female form is probably very appealing.  So, in the final issues of the comic book, there’s a scene where Francine removes her clothes (reminiscent of the original mini-series) and you see her breast.  Not the outline…  Not the curve, artistically drawn.  Nope.

Full on boob shot. Breast, areola, nipple, tattoo.

Now that it’s over, over 100 issues in. Well-past the point of anyone who was following the story just to see some boobies… now he draws it. 

One final FUCK YOU to anyone who wanted to pigeonhole this story.  One final FUCK YOU to anyone who asked him for nudity in the comic book. And one final, “Hey, if there’s anyone left, who love this work AND will enjoy seeing Francine’s breasts, then here you go.” (okay, I might be reaching with that last idea).

I loved it on every level.

I will miss these characters a lot.  11 years by my reckoning.  I walked into a comic book store in 1996 (not my typical one), and picked up two series I had heard about: Strangers in Paradise (vol 3) #3 and Astro City (vol 2) #1.

And (other than when I switched from comic books to trade paperbacks), I haven’t missed an issue.  I have introduced this series to Michael, Gregg, Shari, Jaeger, and Suzanne.  And they have introduced the series to many others as well.  One day, if/when I think he’ll appreciate it, I will introduce it to my son, Zack. 

I know that Terry Moore is not leaving us, and that he plans on writing these characters in a novel form, and I would never be surprised if some day SiP makes its way onto a television series. But, regardless, I will miss these girls. 

Fantasy Football Results

August 21, 2007

The draft was last night.  Good time had by all.  A little slower turning the rounds than usual, but fine.

Here were my results. 

FYI: I had the 10th pick in an 11 person rotary draft (total points instead of head-to-head), standard scoring system w/ 1 point per reception and a flex position.

Rnd 1:	Willie Parker	RB	Pittbsurgh Steelers
Rnd 2:	Willis McGahee	RB	Baltimore Ravens
Rnd 3:	Deuce McAllister	RB	New Orleans Saints
Rnd 4:	Marques Colston	WR	New Orleans Saints
Rnd 5:	Phillip Rivers	QB	San Diego Chargers
Rnd 6:	Laverneus Coles	WR	New York Jets
Rnd 7: 	Jerious Norwood	RB	Atlanta Falcons
Rnd 8: 	Greg Jennings	WR	Green Bay Packers
Rnd 9:	Jeremy Shockey	TE	New York Giants
Rnd 10:	Alex Smith	QB	San Francisco 49ers
Rnd 11:	Jaguars Defense	D	Jacksonville Jaguars
Rnd 12:	Mike Furrey	WR	Detroit Tigers
Rnd 13:	Wes Welker	WR	New England Patriots
Rnd 14:	Reuben Droughns	RB	New York Giants
Rnd 15:	Greg Olson	TE	Chicago Bears
Rnd 16:	Matt Stover	K	Baltimore Ravens

So, a decent draft. Much more pleased with my selections than in previous years.  Didn’t really reach on too many players and got nice values in several spots. 

Now, I just have to be sure that I stay on the waiver wire in those first four weeks. 

So, all in all, quite pleased.

One of The Best Days of the Year

August 20, 2007

And it’s today…

Every year, there are events that you can circle in your calendar as a day that you are reasonably sure will be a good day (barring unforseen circumstances). There’s your birthday. For baseball fans there’s opening day. The major holidays hold happiness for many. Anniversaries. Annual trips and gatherings. First day of school. Last day of school. The annual crabfest/pigroast/blowout bbq. And so on.

For me, one of the best days of the year. One where I can circle the month of August and say, “A great day resides here” is my Fantasy Football Draft Night.

I’ve been in this league since 1995. Started at my old place of work, Franklin Electronic Publishers. And then taken out of the lunchroom and into the bar room in 1997, at a straight out of the 50s restaurant & lounge called The Pub (naming apparently not a skill in Pennsauken, New Jersey). This year the draft takes place at Chickie & Pete’s, so crab fries and much beer will be had by all.

So, why is the draft one of the best days of the year. Well, it’s a group of 11 guys (offically, with two other consultants).  So, no skirts to be found anywhere.

Secondly, as it is an all guy affair, the rudest, crudest, and lewdest behavior is exhibited by all participants.  Last year, I believe a puppet was violated in some way.

Third, the insults and ball-busting does not stop from begining to end. Everything is brought into question. From one’s fantasy football abilities to one’s questionable sexual practices, and one’s poor golf abilities, choice of vocation, and general discussion as to who is whipped the most (With Brian firmly declaring that he chooooooses to do everything possible for his wife.)  It’s just tremendous.

And it’s obvious that the rest of the league feels the same. There are plenty of fantasy football groups, and yet, eight of the current members have been doing this for over 10 years, and the other three all have been coming back for more than five years. 

Three of them come from two hours away.  Four of us have very young children (under 5 I mean). And for the most part, the group of us never gets together other than on this very night.

Really, the only thing missing is when New Jersey stopped the smoking of tobacco in all restaurants.  A good cigar really tops the evening off just right.

In a few weeks, the shine will be off the bloom.  My draft picks that will seem so solid just 12 hours from now, will look like utter crap, and I will be looking at the bottom of the standings. The trash talking will have died out as we have not the time to start minor battles through email. And I will struggle to find the time even to look for a waiver wire selection.

But the memory of a fine fantasy football draft night will still be there. Aging like a fine wine. Memories of crab fries, duck farts, sodomy jokes, rememberances of Beth (one of only two females allowed in the draft and with good reason, my GOODNESS),  the telling and remembering of the live emasculation we witnessed at the fantasy football draft years ago (words to live by, NEVER bring your WIFE to a Fantasy Football Draft…. EVER….), and plans to get together for a golf outing that probably will not take place.

Good Times, indeed!


August 10, 2007

In the Mid-Atlantic area of the country, specifically Eastern Pennsylvania/New Jersey region, August is kindof a mixed blessing.

– On the negative side: there’s the weather. If it’s going to be stinking hot, you’ll get it in August. It’s rare that you have a disgustingly hot July and a cool August. August typically is either the same as July or worse.

+ On the plus side: there are those hints…. I remember seeing the weather forecast for three days in 1998, where it was 85 degrees and not a cloud in the sky with a cool breeze. Basically fall breezes with summer temperatures. I took off on one of those days, and just drove aimlessly enjoying the day.

+/- In the middle: There’s the threat of hurricanes. Admittedly, as I know too many people who live on the eastern seaboard, it’s a concern. But, it is fun to watch the weather men predict the storm’s path and the intensity. (It’s better than horse racing prognosticators). And always fun to see the poor schmoe from the Weather Channel, whose job it is to stand outside in 60 mph winds getting soaked to the skin even tho wearing a poncho. Always fun.

– On the negative side: After the first two weeks, everyone starts bracing for the storm. Yes, back to school time. Parents don’t want to do anything. Mad lines at Target with shopping carts filled with notebooks and school clothes. Football and band camps. Rushing to do those last minute summer activities before the fall. Restaurants, especially down the shore, start losing staff, so you get crappy service, and if you’re lucky crappy food as well.

+ On the plus side: If you don’t have kids, or you have kids that are not yet in elementary school, this is one of THE BEST times to go on vacation. You could probably go down the shore right now, sign up for a week in late August, for half the price of a week in July, get the good beach weather, all of the activities are going on, everything is still open. This weekend, Suze, Zack, & I are going down the shore, I’m betting the crowd is cleared out by 3:00 on Saturday once the current week’s rentals are kicked out.

+/- In the middle: Football season is nearly upon us. I mean, yes having training camps, pre-season games, fantasy football drafts, and updates from all versions of the media is wonderful, it’s still just a tease. It’s like being on a diet, and craving potato chips. If you’re good for a month, and then allow yourself to have a small bag of chips, it doesn’t satisfy you, despite you swearing that it would the previous month.

– Too stinking hot to mow the lawn

+ Lawn is too dead to mow

+/- Another year where that garden isn’t going to get weeded out you slacker!

– End of the summer, “Son of Explosion Man” movies

+ Beginning of movies with actual substance

+/- I’m still not gonna pay $10.00 to sit in a theater with these young whippersnappers, with their cellphones they don’t turn off, and their overpriced popcorn. Back in my day, we didn’t put up with that malarky. Ethel, where’s my teeth?

– Fewer skimpy outfits on attractive women

+ Fewer skimpy outfits on ugly women

+/- Fewer skimpy outfits on me (breezy yet uncomfortable for others)

So, there you have it…. a real mixed bag with August

Quick Deathly Hallows Thoughts

August 6, 2007

Okay, I’m not going to totally recap the book.  I’ve read it once, and plan on listening to the audio book (which we own cause I can’t say no to Suzanne… *sigh*).

As of now, I enjoyed it but was severely disappointed with much of it:

(there are minor spoilers, but I’m not doing a ‘big reveal’ or anything)

– Not having an actual confrontation between Harry and Snape was a complete cop-out.  This should have been written where Harry forgives Snape or realizes while Snape is alive that he was helping him all along.  Something.  The use of the Pensieve was what I was expecting tho.

– 3 months of Harry, Ron and Hermione hanging out in a tent, planning, wondering, running, hiding? This felt like the wheels were just spinning in this book, as if Rowling had to make sure the final battle was in the spring. Very weak.

– The aimlessness of the journey was kindof a let down. I mean Ron and Hermione mention in the book that they expected Harry to know more, so I guess that makes the author aware of the problem, but didn’t make it a great read.

– The temptation of Ron by the Horcrux was well done, and was the moment in which the book turned for the better.  Ron’s return, another mystery of the Silver White Doe Patronus. It took too long to get there, but once I read this chapter and the one that followed, things got much better.

– I turned to my wife who had just fallen asleep and said, on Page 650 (I think that’s what I said) Ron and Hermione finally kiss. I still think that it should have been earlier in the book and maybe the series, but the moment was WONDERFUL.  Best moment in the book and top 10 in the whole series. 

– The Truth of why “love” is the greatest weapon, and how “love” is something that Voldemort doesn’t understand, showed itself well. The two themes of the series are “love is a greater power than anything” and “it is our choices that define us.” Decent enough theme, and decent enough display of it, in terms of Snape.

– Killing Remus and Nymphadora was purely a ‘raising the body count’ action (and to a lesser degree Fred Weasley, tho that makes sense that someone from the list of ‘students’ that we know and care about dies). I mean now all of the ‘adult’ members of the Order of the Phoenix that we know are dead except for Mr & Mrs Weasley,  and Hagrid (and Shaklebolt kindof).

– I kindof predicted that Neville would kindof shackup with Luna, but that didn’t seem to happen. But that Neville took charge in Book 7 was really nice. Two ways of looking at it: That hanging around Harry and the gang helped Neville become a confident wizard; OR! That if Harry hadn’t gone to Hogwarts that Neville would have been the ‘Harry Potter’ of the school (without the prophecy part). I mean one who could lead people and make things happen.

– Introducing the Deathly Hallows in the last book, when we already had enough to fill the pages of the book, seemed kindof pointless. I know it made sense to the author, and probably made it more interesting to write, rather than to just tie up loose ends, but seemed superfluous.

– Waaaaaaaaay too much Deus Ex Machina.  Wow, they happen to Aparate to the forest where the sword is hidden. Wow, they happen to overhear a goblin say the sword in Gringots is fake. Wow, Goyle casts Fiendfyre which happens to be a spell that can destroy Horcruxes.   

– Expelliarmus versus Avada Kedavra? Really?  That’s all it’s going to take?

– Overall, it felt rushed. Like she just wanted to be done with it. While as a writer (even if only a technical writer) I appreciate just ‘getting it done’, but as a reader it disappoints me

That’s all for now.  Some good, some bad.  Currently my least favorite book of the series, and not worth the wait.  But maybe just a victim of its own success (6 out of 10)

Another Random Link

August 2, 2007

Okay, I either blocked this out of my mind, or was just a little before my time, but this is just wrong, makes Superman vs Muhammad Ali look good: