Monthly ArchiveJune 2008



Comic books & Movies 30 Jun 2008 02:11 pm

Wanted

Wanted, the comic-book series by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones, is now a movie. The series was a bleak, anti-social comedy about a nobody who is inducted into a secret society of super-villains. Even an R-rated film couldn’t sell a vision that dark, so in the movie, the nobody (James McAvoy) learns he is the heir apparent of a secret society of assassins that works behind the scenes for the public good. Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie also star.
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Commentary 27 Jun 2008 06:09 am

‘Everybody’s lost but me’

Here is my print column from June 26, 2008, as published in The Alliance Review:

We’ve had lots of chatter lately over lost.

Not the television show “Lost,” which ended on another cliffhanger for the season. And not lost in the religious sense, as in the parable of the lost sheep.

I’m talking field-trip lost, as in the poor little guy who was left behind at the Akron Zoo a few weeks back.
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Books & Comic books 26 Jun 2008 06:21 am

Compleat Next Men

Not everything I’m reading this summer is drop-dead serious literature. John Byrne’s Compleat Next Men Vol. 1 is a telephone-book-sized compendium of the writer/artist’s Next Men series from the 1990s. I have all those issues — bought ‘em one at a time as they were released — but I’m still thrilled to see them collected for ease of reading. The book approach also makes Byrne’s intention of creating an actual novel in comics more obvious, and reading them all in one gulp (OK, two big gulps over the last two days) made me aware of little continuity bits I missed by waiting four weeks between installments.
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Books 25 Jun 2008 07:39 am

Summer reading

I’m teaching Advanced Placement English next school year, so part of my summer reading is a collection of classics, some that I haven’t read in years and some that I haven’t read at all. It’s a little heavier literature than I’m accustomed to in warmer weather, but enjoyable nonetheless.

First up were the three Theban plays by Sophocles: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone. Oedipus is the unfortunate ruler who killed his father and married his mother, thus supplying a convenient
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Movies 23 Jun 2008 02:27 pm

Best animated films

A few weeks back, Web site Moviefone posted its 25 greatest animated films of all time. Included on the list are Pinocchio, The Simpsons Movie, and Fantasia. My favorite animated movie, The Iron Giant, weighed in at #14.

This week, the site uploaded fan reactions to the choices, which basically amounted to another list of animated movies. On the list are many anime films (including one of my favorites, Akira) and pretty much the rest of the Disney/Pixas catalog, including Lilo & Stitch, Aladdin, and Cars.

My personal preference is still for hand-drawn animation of the kind Disney doesn’t make for theaters any more. (Brother Bear was the last.) I don’t mind computer animation — and often find it pretty snazzy, as with The Incredibles — but there is a real warmth to cells sketched and painted by hand that can’t be captured by computers. The price of technology, I suppose.

Did your favorite cartoon movie make the cut?

Commentary 22 Jun 2008 07:36 pm

AWOL phone

My wife lost her cell phone two times today. First, she left it in a tanning bed. Then, she left it in a dressing room. Luckily (I suppose), in both cases she remembered where it was and was able to retrieve it quickly.

I wonder if anybody has invented a device that can attach the cell phone more or less permanently to one’s wrist, so it’s always at hand but can’t be left behind. I imagine in a few more years some enterprising soul will figure out how to implant a chip in the user’s head, so that he or she will have constant access to the phone, 24/7.

An internal Blue Tooth — that’s the ticket!

 

Movies 21 Jun 2008 12:22 pm

He is Iron Man

After 30-plus days of people asking me if I’ve seen Iron Man yet, I can finally answer, “Yes, I have, and it is awesome.”

By far, this is the movie of the summer so far, even if it was released in the spring. Robert
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Movies 20 Jun 2008 10:01 am

Ox-Bow Incident

I graduated high school with a young woman who said she was related (granddaughter, great-granddaughter or something) to Walter Van Tilburg Clark, writer of The Ox-Bow Incident. She didn’t seem all that impressed by the fact, and neither were my classmates and I. Nobody doubted she was telling the truth; if you were going to fabricate a famous relation, you probably wouldn’t pick Van Tilburg Clark. Nothing against him, of course, but in the annals of authors, he’s one of the more obscure. Which isn’t to say he’s a bad writer, because he’s not. Anyway…
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Comic books & Commentary & Family life 19 Jun 2008 10:01 am

Turning 40

Here are two versions of my print column from June 19, 2008, as published in The Alliance Review. Click each to enlarge.

The first is the way the column/strip actually appeared in print. The second is the way I had hoped it would appear, with the photos tweaked to add more comic-strip appeal. I was afraid that the second version would be too dark on newsprint, so I used the real photos instead.

The strip was created with the Comic Life for Windows software I blogged about earlier. (A Mac version also exists.) I worked backward on the project, writing and placing the word balloons first to match the images in my head, then having my daughter shoot the photos. (My wife shot the second-to-last image. The image behind the Left of Center logo was stolen — er, I mean appropriated — from the Internet.) Next, I turned each photo black and white, dropped them into the strip, and tweaked sizing and cropping. From start to finish, it took about two hours, spread over four days — par for the course with me.

 

Commentary 18 Jun 2008 10:34 am

Is it just me …

… or do news outlets seem almost gleeful in their continued reports about higher gas and food prices?

They certainly know how to beat the topic into submission. On the Today Show recently, the story was bludgeoned nearly to death, with report after report about how gas was steadily heading toward the $5 per gallon mark, how it was impacting the price of nearly everything in the grocery store, causing people to forgo vacations, and contributing to a possible global recession.
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