Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!


I'm sick of the Lord

I've always liked Curt Schilling, even when he was at his whiniest worst (Phillies fans will remember when he was at his whiniest worst). I think he's a great pitcher who should have a few Cy Young awards in his house, and I wish he had one more World Series ring on his finger (1993's, that is). He even seems like a nice guy, and he does a lot of work for Lou Gehrig's disease charities.

But I'm sick of him and his Lord references.

Let me tell you something, Curt, since I'm sure you read this blog. God does not care if you pitch well. God does not care if your team wins the World Series. God might care that you do so much charity work, but I'd like to think you would do that even if you weren't a superstar athlete. God simply does not care about athletics.

Now, some people might find that harsh. God wants everyone to do his or her thing to the best of his or her ability, and therefore helps people succeed. Yeah, that's crap. God doesn't give a flying fuck whether the Red Sox or the Cardinals win the World Series. He doesn't care if Curt Schilling can throw a baseball well. Why the hell should he? God, blasphemous as this sounds, doesn't even give a rat's ass whether Notre Dame wins a football game!

I'm sick of God being thrown around like, if you'll pardon the expression, a football. I'm sick of it in athletics, and I'm sick of it in politics. I'm tired of scumbag athletes who cheat on their wives and snort coke and pound their chests when they make a simple tackle talk about how they love the Lord. Shut the hell up! I'm sick of scumbag politicians like Newt Gingrich talking about their faith while initiating divorce proceedings against his bed-ridden wife. I'm tired of George Bush telling me he has a personal relationship with his God, then going out and allowing others to destroy the earth, which, according to him, God created and may feel a certain affinity for. I'm sick of John Kerry telling us he's a Catholic when he's obviously not. My wife, a lapsed Catholic, and her grandmother, a devout Catholic, tell me not all Catholics listen to the Pope. I hate to tell you, but then you're not Catholic. Stop pretending that you are. I'm tired of hearing people tell me what God thinks. You have no fucking clue what God thinks. Pat Robertson has no fucking clue what God thinks. Billy Graham has no fucking clue what God thinks. Pope John Paul II has no fucking clue what God thinks. Osama bin Laden has no fucking clue what God thinks. Any one of those ayatollahs who run Iran have no fucking clue what God thinks. And I'm tired of them telling me they do.

If you have any fucking clue what God thinks, tell me why God wants Curt Schilling to win a baseball game but does not find it necessary to protect, I don't know, my daughter from an out-of-control tow truck ramming into my car at 60 miles an hour, leaving her brain-damaged. Just as an example. I could find others, but you get the idea. I'm sick of God. I'm sick of people talking about God. They, like God, need to shut the fuck up and leave us alone.

Sorry I'm a bit bitter this morning. Occasionally we all have a right to be.


Comics for 27 October 2004

Strange week. Sometimes it seems like a slow week, and suddenly you've spent twenty dollars. Such is the way of things in the Brave New World of over-priced pamphlets. Let's check it out:

Black Widow #2 by Richard K. Morgan, Goran Parlov, and Bill Sienkiewicz
$2.99, Marvel

I bought the first issue of this (what I assume is a) mini-series for two reasons: the character and the artist. I have always dug Natasha Romanov and was a little peeved that Rucka created a new Widow, even though the series he wrote were very good. I have been a Sienkiewicz fan for as long as I've collected comics (17 years, half my freakin' life) and was happy to see him doing interior pencils again instead of just inking things here and there. So what happens on issue number 2? Goran Parlov does "layouts" and Sienkiewicz does "finishes." Blech. I hate that system of art. I don't know why, I just do. But the art is still nice, so I'll let it slide.

It's not a bad story, either. This issue explains a little more without revealing too much. Natasha and Phil go to one of the victims' funeral, and secrets are revealed and people are shot at. One even dies! There's a cliff-hanger of sorts. It's very nice, and doesn't seem to be padding the story just to stretch it to six issues, like so many six-issue series these days (why does everything have to be six issues? just to make a nice trade paperback?). The two most interesting things in the issue are Natasha explaining why she doesn't do the whole bracelet thing anymore (although she has been wearing them in Daredevil, I think -- I could go check, but that would be a lot of work) and a little subtle lesbian thing going on -- not that it's titillating at all, and so subtle some people might miss it, but I think it's neat for the writer to put it in and for Marvel to let it through. I suppose this comic isn't getting sold at Wal-Mart anyway.

It's a nice book. Nothing to blow you away, but not a waste of time. Of course, it's three dollars. The theme of Greg's comic reviews, as usual, is price.

Daredevil #66 by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev
$2.99, Marvel

Bendis is supposed to be the greatest writer in the history of the printed word, but I've never been a total convert. I don't like Powers all that much (sacrilege!) and I haven't been reading Avengers. I read Ultimate Spider-Man in the trades, but wonder if he's gone a little around the bend with the whole body-switching story (and don't get me started on his treatment of Gwen Stacy). I miss Alias, which was absolutely brilliant. And I really like Daredevil.

Daredevil succeeds, I think, because Bendis really gets Matt Murdock. His depiction of Daredevil is not bad, and I don't think all his choices have been perfect (Daredevil taking down the Kingpin has been DONE TO DEATH!), but his Murdock is a very interesting character who has grown and changed over the course of the series (and not only when Bendis wrote it). I would love if companies (DC and Marvel, specifically, since they're the Big Two) would allow writers to change the characters without hitting the reset button every few years. I don't know what Marvel's going to do with Daredevil when Bendis stops writing it, but I'm glad they've allowed him to do what he has done over the past 40 issues.

In this issue, we get a flashback to when Alexander Bont, the first "kingpin," set himself up in business. In the present day, Bont has just been paroled, and he reminisces about "the good old days." It's a clever enough story, with the Golden Age Angel making an appearance, plus a yellow-clad Daredevil (even though Fisk was apparently already Kingpin when Daredevil was getting started -- Bendis messes with history here, but everyone else does it, so why not him?). Bont gets all misty-eyed for when all was right in his world, finds out that Murdock is Daredevil (not too hard; he sees all the reporters asking Murdock about it), and takes a pill at the end that makes him all foamy at the mouth and full of rage and strength. That'll be explained at some point, I'm sure.

The cool thing about the issue is the art. I first saw Maleev in a Crow mini-series years ago and was unimpressed. His work on Daredevil, however, has been wonderful. Yes, his fight scenes aren't the greatest, but Bendis doesn't give him that many and he's not that bad anyway and the rest of the time he's so brilliant who cares? Here he experiments with styles, and the results are breath-taking. When Bont is just a petty thief plotting to take over the underworld, the art goes black-and-white and actually looks like woodcuts. Very impressive. When Daredevil shows up, in the "1960s," the colorist (Dave Stewart) does that whole dot technique (Pointillist?) that you see in comics from the '60s, and the art is very Kirby-esque (or is it Ditko-esque or whoever the hell was the first artist on Daredevil -- I'm very iconoclastic when it comes to art in the '60s). Anyway, the art is a treat.

Daredevil remains one of the best books out there, especially from the Big Two. Bendis often loses steam at the end of his stories, but his set-ups usually hook you. In the absence of Alias, Daredevil remains his best work (yes, I read The Pulse as well -- I have to give it time).

Planetary #21 by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday
$2.95, Wildstorm

Before Rex Mundi, Planetary was my favorite comic. It's still a close second. I wish it came out more often, but oh well. Planetary is brilliant on so many levels it's scary. It is, more than Transmetropolitan, more than The Authority, Ellis's magnum opus. He's almost finished with it (I think it's going five more issues, but I'm not sure), and I can't wait to sit down and read the whole damned thing again. It's something that has to be savored. It has mind-blowing concepts and near-perfect art, although Cassaday looks a bit sloppy in this issue -- maybe all that X-stardom is going to his head. This issue is one long conversation between Elijah Snow and some weird chick with dreadlocks called Melanctha (Philipp Melancthon was a big-wig in the German Protestant Reformation; I assume there's some connection, because Ellis has such a big brain, but damned if I know what it is) during which Snow learns a little more about himself and why he's so special. It's tough to describe. Just buy the damned book! Totally worth it. Planetary is something I would give non-comic-readers. It's just that cool.

Singularity 7 #4 by Ben Templesmith
$3.99, IDW

This the last issue of a mini-series, and it leaves me a little cold. The first three issues were excellent, but the resolution ... eh. Kind of disappointing. It's sufficiently nihilistic from the collaborator on the 30 Days of Night juggernaut, but perhaps too much so. The guy with the dragon tattoo (I don't think we ever learned his name) doesn't play a major role, which I thought strange. It was just ... weird.

The art is a trip, though. I imagine some people hate Templesmith's art, but those people are morons. It's a cool book to look at, and it is a cool story, for the most part. Buy the trade if you haven't gotten the single issues, because it's worth it. I just wish it had ended differently, because it's kind of confusing. Not so much a downer (that I can deal with), just ... confusing. Maybe I'm missing something. I'm sure I am -- I'm not all that smart.

Solo #1 by Tim Sale, with Darwyn Cooke, Diana Schutz, Jeph Loeb, and Brian Azzarello
$4.95, DC

I hope this series does well. I really do. Anthologies just don't sell these days, probably because they cost so much (sorry, but it is a concern), but they seem to be a great idea to allow either new talent into the industry or established talent to show off some other aspects of their abilities. That said, this is a beautiful book. The non-superhero stuff ("Christina, "Low Card in the Hole," "I Concentrate on You,") is superb, and Sale's superhero work still impresses. Nothing in here, however, blows you away story-wise, and that's a shame, because the art's so nice. This issue is probably for Tim Sale fans only, and I don't know if you can sustain a series on just that. I won't be buying the next issue, with Richard Corben, because I'm not all that impressed with his art. But we'll see what comes down the road.

WE3 #2 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
$2.95, DC/Vertigo

Holy crap, is this good. I'm a huge Morrison fan, although I admit sometimes his stuff is too out there for me (The Filth, most of Invisibles). Seaguy was pretty good, but WE3 is unbelievable. The story hits all the right notes, with the animals' personalities coming through wonderfully, and the right amount of tension, horror, and tragedy. Morrison, who seems to have become rather cold recently, used to write stuff that wrenched your heart (late issues of Doom Patrol most especially), and here he's back to that. Just the interplay between the animals, and 1's last words of the issue, are enough to cut right to your core. It's really amazing.

Quitely's art is unreal, as well. He's always been good at experimenting and making it look good, and here he cuts loose. It's chilling the way he makes the violence in the book (and there's plenty of it) beautiful and balletic. The three pages where the animals rip into the soldiers sent to kill them make you focus on everything on the page and really appreciate how good these killing machines are. The double-page spread of the cat going through the panels (you'll know what I mean) are truly revolutionary. The confrontation with the redneck and his son is riveting and tragic and bloody all at once. Amazing.

I can't imagine how any mini-series will top WE3 this year. It's fantastic. If you haven't bought it, buy the trade when it comes out. You will NOT be disappointed.

That's it for this week. Not bad at all. We'll see what comes down the pike in November.


Andy Reid needs an ass-kicking

Football thoughts:

Andy Reid needs an ass-kicking. Yes, the Eagles won. Yes, I'm happy. But correct me if I'm wrong: in overtime, all you need to win is a field goal, yes? So why was Reid throwing the ball deep not once, but twice in overtime when all his team needed was a yard or two to pick up a first down, move the ball a little closer, and kick an easy field goal? The first time, the Eagles had to punt. Luckily for them, they got the ball back. The second time, the pass was almost intercepted, and even though it wasn't, David Akers had to nail a 50-yarder. I applaud Reid's new aggressive play-calling -- I've been waiting for it for years. But don't you have to rein it in a little when all you need is 3 points, especially when you're in hostile territory and you just want to get out with a win?

I'm starting to hate the Patriots. I still don't hate them as much as I hate the entire NFC East or the Baltimore Ravens (home of an accessory to murder and a guy who likes to set up coke deals), but they're starting to piss me off. How do they cause other teams to play like idiots? How? On Sunday, the Jets had a third down and four to go, with plenty of time and Chad Pennington throwing beautifully. THEY RAN A RUNNING PLAY!!!!! And not even a good running play, but a draw play, which puts them already three or four yards behind the line of scrimmage. Curtis Martin gets dropped for a three-yard loss. What an idiotic call. Then, on fourth down, Pennington throws into double- (and almost triple-) coverage at the goal line, even though Santana Moss was open ten yards down the field for the first down, and the Jets had over 2 minutes on the clock so they didn't need the whole enchilada! Yes, the Patriots are a good team. But how do they make the other team stupid at the same time?????

I've heard a couple of things about the Peyton Manning-Reggie Wayne dust-up. An interesting take is that Manning's a big jerk and the receivers on the team are tired of his weird little "relationship" with Marvin Harrison. I have no idea if that's true, but it's interesting.

I'll say this for the Patriots: they focus the league on them. I like parity, but occasionally long for the days when the Cowboys or the Niners (in the 1990s and 1980s -- prior to that I was too young to follow football) were excellent, because beating them meant something. I remember the Eagles going into San Fran in 1994 (I think) and SPANKING Steve Young's team, something like 38-8. Charlie Garner ran wild. That meant something, even though San Francisco went to the NFC Championship Game that year and the Eagles, I think, went home in January. Who is good in this league these days? Not even the Eagles, despite their 6-0 record, are flawless. The Seahawks? They lost to the Cardinals! The Rams? They lost to the Dolphins! The Giants? They lost to Detroit at home! The Broncos? They lost to the Bengals! Who knows who's going to win this thing. It's nice for suspense, but man does it shred nerves sometimes.

Next week the Ravens visit Philadelphia. Boy, that should be fun. In Terrell Owens' new book, he "writes" that Ozzie Newsome, the Browns' (whoops, Ravens') GM told his (Owens') agent that sometimes black men need to get slapped. I don't even understand what that means. Newsome denies it, of course, and I don't care if it's true or not, but I wonder if Ray Lewis, who has a history of hanging with people who kill other people, might be hunting for Owens' head this weekend. Should be interesting.


St. Louis vs. Boston

The World Series is set, and after such "traditional" winners like Florida (the Marlins came into existence in 1993, and have already won 2 Series), Anaheim (at least they go back to the early 1960s!) and Arizona (first year in the league: 1998; first World Series win: 2001), this year we'll have an old-school winner -- Red Sox or Cardinals. Two franchises steeped in the history that baseball wallows in -- when it's convenient. When it's not, they crap all over it.

I guess the Red Sox did something extraordinary this postseason. Don't ask me what it was. Just kidding -- wasn't it sweet watching the Yankees and Derek "I'm gay, but scared to come out" Jeter EAT THEIR LIVERS as their team crumbled! What a sight. As my Yankee-loving acquaintances would say, I'm jealous. I'm a Phillies fan -- of course I'm freakin' jealous! I'd love to have a boss who pisses all over everyone else and buys every player he can find just to sit him on the bench and keep him away from other teams! That's precisely why the New York implosion was so sweet.

But enough about the doomed Yankees. The Curse Lives! I think the Cardinals will win the Series, because they have a little better offense, a much better defense, a little better bullpen, and not really that much worse starting pitching. Obviously, if Schilling and Martinez each pitch twice and each pitch like Schilling and Martinez, there's your Series, but neither really pitches like that anymore, even if Bionic Curt manages to get in the game. I'm not counting the Red Sox by any means -- they have home-field advantage and are on an unbelievable roll, but my gut tells me the Cardinals will extend the Curse.

I really want the Red Sox to win, however. I took great glee in both the Cubs and Red Sox going down in last year's playoffs, and the Cubs not even making the postseason this year was joyful. But I'm sick of the schadenfreude. Actually, I'm more sick of fans claiming their teams are "cursed" when they just suck. It lends them some nobility, as if to say, "Our teams are cursed, but we stick by them, and we know they're really truly good," instead of them forcing themselves to say, "Our teams suck ASS. Why the hell are we supporting them?" Bitter? You bet I am. If the Red Sox win, the fans won't know what to do with themselves. Especially when the Red Sox start sucking up the joint again. What will you blame it on them, Bostonians?

Why am I bitter? Because I'm a Phillies fan. The Phillies are the second-oldest franchise around, and arguably the worst. They had more losses in the 1900s than any other professional sports team. Wrap your brains around that one. They have won one, count it, ONE World Series. But it wasn't 90 years ago, so no one talks about a curse (it was in 1980, the year I became a fan -- what a glorious year for a 9-year-old Philadelphia fan -- the Eagles made the Super Bowl as well). They won a pennant in 1915 and lost the Series to probably the team of the decade -- the Red Sox, starring a young man named George Herman Ruth. They won a pennant in 1950 and ran into the juggernaut Yankees, in the middle of 5 straight World Series wins. They won a pennant in 1983 and lost to the Orioles. They won a pennant in 1993 and lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, a team everyone forgets won two straight World Series. Yet no one talks about a curse. They talk about how the Phillies suck. How do we become noble losers? Can't someone MAKE SOMETHING UP ABOUT THE PHILLIES SO WE CAN GET SOME LOVE LIKE THE RED SOX AND CUBS?!?!?!?!?

Grow up, Boston and Chicago. Look at the White Sox. They haven't won dick since 1917 (it should be 1919, but they kind of gave that one away, didn't they?) and haven't won the pennant since 1959, but nobody talks about a Curse (the Curse of Joe Jackson?). Why would Babe Ruth curse the Red Sox anyway? He wanted out of the Boston, because management was bugging him about being out of shape. He went to New York and became "The Babe," the greatest player who ever lived (shut up, Barry Bonds fans). He wouldn't have done that in Boston. The Red Sox did him a favor! So who cursed the Red Sox? The fans back then even wanted him out of there. They didn't like his attitude any more than management did. Who cursed the Red Sox? God? God doesn't care who plays where or who wins what in baseball. God has more important things on his mind, like George Bush ruining His Good Name by invoking him all the time.

Watch the Series. After teal-covered teams and teams with rattlesnakes on their caps, it will be nice to see baseball the way it used to be played, in two stadia that really should be torn down. Maybe it will go seven games, and something weird will happen on Halloween to extend the Curse. Then Boston fans can go on playing the sports martyrs. Just be thankful, Red Sox fans, that you weren't born in Philadelphia. At least the Patriots win Super Bowls. At least you have the Celtics and Bruins. So just shut up.


Comics for 20 October 2004

Let's see what was in the box this week.

1000 Steps to World Domination by Rob Osborne
$12.95, AiT/Planet Lar

This doesn't really count as a weekly comic book (or "pamphlets," as some people call them), but I'll check it out anyway. I heard about this not long ago, and thought I'd take a look. This, I believe, is the first book by AiT/Planet Lar I've ever bought, and it's not bad. For 13 bucks, I don't think it's worth it, but it's not bad. It's actually pretty funny, but I just don't think it's worth it.

The basic premise is this: struggling comic book writer/artist comes up with a plan to write comic books and take over the world. His wife thinks he's wacko, his parents worry about him, God gives him advice, and he hallucinates that a monkey dressed like a clown is helping/hindering him. I guess that last thing is the literal monkey on his back, but I wouldn't presume to guess. It's well drawn and somewhat clever, but it falls short because it really doesn't tell us anything new about the creative process. I'm also not sure what the aliens are doing in the book, although they do have some of the best lines.

All in all, it's a nice little book, but I wouldn't recommend spending the money for it. Maybe if it were under 10 dollars, it would be worth it, but in this brave new world of ridiculously priced comic books, it's just not enough. And, of course, I plan on taking over the world, so Osborne will have competition.

The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty #4 by Gabriel Benson and Mike Hawthorne
$1.99, Beckett Entertainment

Beckett has made a splash recently with this title, Fade from Grace, and Ruule, and I have been buying the first two. I haven't made up mind yet on these, although I'm leaning more toward this title than Fade from Grace, which is kind of a take on Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty, the first issue of which was given away on Free Comic Book Day this summer (and therefore I don't have it, since I don't go to FCBD), is a Western take on the fable of Sleeping Beauty, and it's pretty interesting. We have the young, idealistic boy searching for the sleeping girl, the grizzled old man whose wife has been murdered, the roly-poly sidekick, the marshal who's really a bad guy -- all the stuff you might expect from a Western, but with some nice twists.

The story begins with Cole buried up to his neck while the murderer of his wife stands over him. We're not sure if it's a flashback or flash-forward, but we learn later it's definitely a flashback. Who is the killer? Who knows? Then we return to the present, and the crows from last issue are still attacking our threesome. They make it to a town, and the crows mysteriously stop. Hmmm ... Then there's a female bartender (another Western cliche!) who knows, well, everything. (She's also dressed in blue, and her name is Blue! Wow!) She explains that the crows are kind of freaky, and people should run when they see them, and she knows what Cole's up to, and she explains that only certain people can actually see the town. We also learn that the marshal (like I remember his name) knows that the bad guys shouldn't go into a town where the birds can't go, so he knows something. Finally, we get a flashback from Red's point of view, where we learn that Sleeping Beauty knew she was going to go to sleep, and there was nothing she could do about it. Intriguing. Something like "The Lottery" going on? Maybe.

As you can see, some of things in here are goofy, especially when Benson gets lazy and throws the cliches around. However, this is a neat story, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes. Beckett is saturating places like Wizard with advertisements for their books, and it would be nice to see these books find a market. Any challenge to the Big Two is welcome. For less than 2 dollars, everyone should be checking this out.

Human Target #15 by Peter Milligan and Cliff Chiang
$2.95, DC/Vertigo

Peter Milligan is a weird writer, because some of his stuff is brilliant, and some is just ... boring. Read some of his issues of Elektra, for instance. He's taking over X-Men, and I doubt if I'll read it, because I can always read Human Target if I want to read something by Milligan that is innovative. That said, the latest issue of Human Target is fine, but nothing special. Christopher Chance keeps telling us that he loses himself in the people he impersonates, and that in many ways, he becomes them. This was never more evident in the mini-series that started Milligan's relationship with Chance, or the graphic novel that kicked off the ongoing series, but it's been hit and miss in the ongoing. That's not to say it's a bad read -- it's just not as mind-bending as Milligan could be, which is a shame. The first part of this story (this is Part Two) promised a exploration of religion and how a messiah-figure could use or abuse that power, but this issue steps back from that and just shows people trying to kill Paul James (Christopher Chance, that is) for various reasons. The most interesting thing in the book is the one page where we see what the real Paul James is doing, namely, snorting coke and screwing as many women as he can. Milligan, along with most writers, has a big problem with religion in general and Christianity in particular, and he has an opportunity to explore that, but he doesn't It appears he will explore that next issue, in the final part of the story, but this issue just feels like Milligan's treading water. Buy the Human Target trade paperbacks if you haven't gotten into the series, because it's well worth it. This title slogs along with poor sales, so who knows how long it's going to last, but it is a fascinating read.

(Yes, Milligan did write Elektra. Mike Deodato did the art. Shockingly crappy.)

Identity Crisis #5 by Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales, and Michael Bair
$3.95, DC

Four bucks? Four bucks?!?!?!? Holy crap. Yes, it's entertaining, and yes, it has delivered on the hype, and yes, it highlights some of DC's heroes and villains that don't get the attention they might deserve, but man, it's spendy. Okay, that's my rant for now.

Beautiful cover. I actually can't see the appeal of Michael Turner, but he can draw a nice cover. Maybe he should turn into Brian Bolland or Adam Hughes and just do covers. As for the issue ... not much happens. We've been flying along at such a fast pace, that this sucker feels like padding. That's not to say that Meltzer doesn't continue scything his way through the DC Universe. People die, and I won't give away the big shocker, but I would like to say something about the fate of Firestorm. It's kind of neat what happens to him, but doesn't he deserve better? There's a new Firestorm out there, and nobody cares what happens to the old one (in marked contrast to the fate of Hal Jordan), but it seems kind of weird, the way he dies. He's survived much worse, after all. It also annoys me, in the wake of John Byrne spitting on Doom Patrol history, that everyone ignores John Ostrander's run on Firestorm, where he turned him into an elemental like Swamp Thing and our hero saved the world by getting sucked into the sun (long story). I will never understand companies allowing writers to come up with neat stories and then crapping all over them later. Anyway, Firestorm's gone. I'm not going into the end of the book, with Robin worrying about his father, although I do wonder if the Scarecrow isn't involved somehow. Jack Drake just acts really weird at the end. Meltzer has a nice grasp of his characters, as Deadshot proves once again how cool a character he can be (Ostrander made him cool in Suicide Squad -- Ostrander makes most characters cool) and there's some nice interplay between Captain Boomerang and his son, whose maternal origins come into question. It's a fine read, but still -- nothing happens toward solving the mystery, except one suspect is eliminated. I have no desire to try to figure out who the killer is, because I'm not smart enough, but I will look forward to the last two issues. We'll see if Meltzer can pull it all together in a dramatic fashion.

Four bucks?!?!?!?

Noble Causes #3 by Jay Faerber and Fran Bueno
$3.50, Image

Why the crap are comics so expensive? Everyone talks about why people don't buy comics anymore, and why little kids don't buy them, and why the sales figures are nowhere near what they used to be. The reasons are legion, but cost has to be one of them. Noble Causes is a nice little book, but is it really worth it? I'm not sure.

Anyway. Things continue to simmer in this issue. Faerber writes in the grand tradition of the great Chris Claremont (not the pretender who's writing these days, but the one from the 1970s and 1980s) in that he's not afraid to throw three or four storylines into one issue and trust the reader to keep up. In this issue, Rusty, Cosmic Rae, Frost, and Celeste are with the other heroes on a distant planet fighting ugly aliens, and Rae and Frost get lost in the jungle somewhere, which means, in Rusty's mind, that they're bumping uglies. The main story is still dealing with the Zephyr look-alike murder and whether Krennick had anything to do with it. Krennick is still acting creepy, and Race and Liz find the two girls he has in the dungeon. They're both dead. Uh-oh. Race confronts him, and a new character shows up to surprise them all. It's a nice issue.

Noble Causes has a lot of nice stuff in it. It has built on the series of mini-series over the last year and a half, and some people might be a little lost, but Faerber usually makes it clear what the relationships between everyone is. The one problem I have with the book is that Race should be dead, but it's Faerber's book, so whatever. Again, I don't know how well this book sells, but it's a nice book. It might have a better chance since it's published by Image, but I don't know. Give it a try! Maybe it is worth $3.50!

Ocean #1 by Warren Ellis, Chris Sprouse, and Karl Story
$2.95, Wildstorm

Just last week I said Ellis didn't usually go for "decompressed" storytelling, even though he claims to have invented the technique. Read some of his three-issue mini-series like Reload, read Global Frequency, read the early issues of Planetary (yes, later it became much more slow-moving). He knows how to get a story going. Then came Ultimate Nightmare. Now we get Ocean.

Man, it's frustrating. Great idea. Really. Ellis loves sci-fi, and this is a really neat idea. But that's all it is. This is a 6-issue mini-series, and I will bet it could get done in 4. I mean, 14 panels (over 4 pages) to get Nathan Kane in the air. Three panels for him to finish his coffee (or whatever it is) and throw the cup away. Arrrrggggghhhh!!!!

Nate Kane is some kind of United Nations weapons inspector (Ellis really likes the U.N. -- see his issues of StormWatch) who is sent to Europa (that's a moon of Jupiter, by the way) to investigate the creepy thing explorers found in the ocean covering its surface. It's a very cool idea, as I said, even though Arthur C. Clarke used Europa as his "second Earth" in 2010, so it's not the most unique one (although what idea is unique?). Nate Kane (or Jackson King from StormWatch, or Ultimate Nick Fury -- they're the same character!) is being stalked by a mysterious group, but he's a tough guy and can take care of himself. All the pieces are in place, but why oh why does it take so long?

It's a beautiful book. Sprouse's art has improved every time I see it, and it's really nice here. I'm going to keep buying it, because I know Ellis will deliver, but man -- what's going on with this molasses-like storytelling????

Small Gods #4 by Jason Rand and Juan E. Ferreyra
$2.95, Image

What's up with Image? I never bought their books back in the day when they started, because the books looked like crap, and apparently were. Now they publish some really neat books, and might be my favorite publisher. This week we have Noble Causes and Small Gods, and they also publish Rex Mundi (my favorite book), Forsaken, which has started well, Hawaiian Dick, Waterloo Sunset, The Gift -- very interesting books, and well worth a look. Small Gods is about a cop who happens to be a telepath, which is illegal in this book. A perp (I can talk cop-speak with the best of them!) finds out, and threatens to sue everyone. The cops have to decide if they want to kill him.

That's the premise of the first storyline, of which this is the ultimate issue (I hate that Marvel doesn't know what "ultimate" means, even though they know what "penultimate" means). Owen has to decide whether to kill punk Jerry Ferrell, or allow his partner John to do it for him. He also has to make amends with his girlfriend Dani (he does) and decide whether to tell her he boinked fellow detective Jodi when Dani split from him after she found out he was telepathic (he doesn't -- he's a guy, after all -- and he'd probably say they were on a break!). A lot going on, a nice change of pace from, say, Ocean. He comes up with a nice solution to his problem, and Rand sets the stage for more bad things in both his professional life and personal life.

The art is very nice. Black and white suits this book, and the shading in gray is done well. The view of Jerry tied to his chair after Owen does what he does to him is a very cool shot, and all the characters have distinctive and realistic looks. It's a nice-looking book.

Small Gods has rapidly become one of my favorites. I know, I like all the books I buy, because I wouldn't buy them otherwise, but this is near the top of the list. Check it out.

Well, that's it. I'll be back with more next week.

nusquam tuta fides!



Some football thoughts:

Last week on ESPN a couple of Patriot fans asked Mike Golic and Mark Schlereth why the Pats don't get more respect. I was so happy when both gentlemen said that was one of the most ridiculous things they'd heard in a while. I'm so sick of athletes claiming they get no respect. It's just sickening. Oh, you mean the money doesn't do it for you? The adulation of the fans? The Super Bowl rings (if you're a member of the Patriots)? Most intelligent people have known for a long time that athletes use the "no respect" line to psych themselves up (which is sad, in a way), but when fans start falling for it, it's gone too far. Give me break, Patriots fans. Would you rather have the "respect," whatever that is, of the national media, or root for a team that has won two Super Bowls in three years and hasn't lost in over a year? Speaking as a fan of a team that has come really bleedin' close to the Super Bowl the past three years and has choked in the Championship Game, I'd say be happy with the Championships, you fickle jerks. Especially when your baseball team sucks.

Respect: who do I respect in the No Fun League, based on this past weekend? Jerry Rice needs to give it up. He should have quit before this season, but now he definitely does. I love Rice, but read the writing on the wall, man!

I still hate Brett Favre. Yes, it borders on pathological. I still have no respect for him or the slobbering over him by the national media. I wonder how many games he's cost the Packers because of his "iron man" mentality? I also wonder how many games he's cost them because of his propensity for flinging the ball up into triple coverage just because he's Brett Favre.

Just so you don't think I'm some kind of homer, it was kind of childish of Terrell Owens to call out Ricky Manning last week. I mean, Owens should win that battle -- he's taller and bigger and stronger than Manning. Belittling Manning's performance in the Championship Game last January is just stupid -- Owens wasn't on the Eagles then, and Manning did dominate what receivers the Eagles threw out there. That said, Owens backed it up, which is more than you can say for Chad Johnson of the Bungels. He sent Pepto-Bismol to the Browns' defensive backs because they were going to have upset stomachs after covering him -- which is, admittedly, pretty funny -- and then went out and dropped four passes and his team got waxed. Walk the walk, Chad! Talk about no respect.

The class of the league is obviously the Patriots and Eagles, although I'm with Gregg Easterbrook of, who is sick of New England. St. Louis, New York (both teams), Denver and Minnesota look like they are right up there. Philly has beaten both Minnesota and the Giants, which is the only loss either team has. My current prediction for the Super Bowl (which will change quite often during the season) is New England and whoever plays Philadelphia in the Championship Game, because you know the Eagles will find a way to lose. It's just the way they are.

magnos homines virtute metimur, non fortuna


Comics for 13 October 2004

Some people review comics because they get free copies. They can afford to bash books. I have to buy mine, so I buy things I like. Therefore, you won't see many bad reviews -- I'm going to tell you why you should buy these comics, whether or not you're a comics geek like me. Maybe some day I'll be clever enough to offer really excellent criticism about comics, but for now, I'll stick to this.

303 #1 by Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows
$3.99, Avatar Press
This came out last week, but I didn't buy it then, so here it is. Those people who don't know about Avatar are missing some very good books. I first found out about it back in the late '90s when they published some Faust-related material. (Some day I'll do a post on Faust. What a weird, glorious comic book.) Back then they basically published soft-core porn. Then Warren Ellis started writing for them, with his brilliant Strange Kiss/Strange Killings series of mini-series. Now Avatar publishes stuff by established writers who want to write ridiculously violent or semi-pornographic stuff that the big companies won't touch. Which makes 303 interesting, because it's neither pornographic nor terribly violent, although I'm sure that will change as the series progresses, since it's Garth Ennis and all. The premise is that a Russian colonel (a character in the book calls him "Sarge," but he seems like he should be a colonel) is leading a group into the mountains of Afghanistan to find out what was on an American transport plane. The Americans want it, the Russians want it, and because it's an Ennis war book, the British have sent in a SAS team. All of which means everyone's heading for, as my wife and I say, a "Lumumba" moment (no good can come of it).

This may sound boring, and the book doesn't have a lot of action, but it's not. Ennis is one of my favorite writers (although I avoid Punisher like the plague), and he obviously loves his war stories. This idea of soldiers fighting like men and having more in common with soldiers on the other side than their own government is a common theme in Ennis's war stories, but that doesn't mean it's not true. The dialogue between the colonel and his sergeant rings true, as does a moment in the book when a man is wounded and they have to decide what to do with him. Ennis starts the book powerfully, as well, with an evocation of former, "honorable" battles symbolized by the Lee-Enfield (a 303 caliber -- hence the title) slung over the colonel's shoulder. The colonel's dream in the middle of the book is a nice touch, as well -- it lets us know how similar and yet how different this Russian is from what we know about our own soldiers.

Burrows is a good artist -- his lines are very clean, and his soldiers look sufficiently battle-hardened (in the colonel's case) or fresh-faced (in the case of his troop). He does a lot of Avatar's more mainstream work -- check out the trade paperback of Scars with Warren Ellis for some excellent work on his part -- and I have to wonder why he doesn't do more for the Big Two (or at least the Middle Two -- Image and Dark Horse). What he mostly does here is draw bleak Afghan wilderness and talking heads, but his spread showing the colonel's dream is vividly captured. He can do violence very well, so expect some of the ultra- stuff soon.

A good start for this mini-series.

Astro City: A Visitor's Guide by Kurt Busiek and various artists
$5.95, Wildstorm
If you're a fan of Busiek's Astro City, you'll probably like this. If you're not, why on earth would you buy it? It's a decent book, but only of interest to a completist -- it has a (very) short story in it about a woman on vacation in the city, but it's not really that good, unless you want to see Brent Anderson experimenting with his usual style and coming out looking like Stuart Immonen or John Cassaday. Other than that, there's some interesting stuff about the history of Astro City (I'm a sucker for that sort of thing) and some of the industry's heavy-hitting artists taking a shot at drawing some of the city's heroes. There's also a map, another thing for which I am a sucker. But $5.95? Man, that's a lot to spend for something that probably won't detract from your enjoyment of the series as a whole.

Ex Machina #5 by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Feister
$2.95, Wildstorm

Ex Machina is one of my favorites right now, and I hope it continues with its high quality, since one of the reasons Harris gave for leaving Starman lo those many years ago was that he couldn't keep up with a monthly schedule. Be that as it may, this is a well-written, beautifully drawn book that has a lot of interesting things going on. It's tough to critique, since it's the last issue of the initial storyline, but suffice it to say, the problem at the art museum gets solved in a funny and unique way, the snowplow driver murderer is revealed, and it's ... okay, I suppose, and Kremlin learns some things about heroes and doing the right thing. The resolution to the art museum controversy is funny, but I hope Vaughan doesn't go for an easy solution every time. It seems that there would be more uproar about the painting, and Mayor Hundred would have to come up with a better solution. I didn't like that he felt the need to translate Sic semper tyrannis, either, but that's just me. I mean, the title of the book's in Latin, and nobody's felt the need to translate that. The murder mystery was a novel answer, too, and the page where the police confront the murderer was actually a little heart-rending. It was a little goofy, however, and came out of nowhere. Unless I missed something in one of the other issues ... The best part of the book was Mitch, Bradbury, and Kremlin's conversation. I like how Vaughan mixes in the superheroics with the politics in this book, and this conversation showed how diametrically opposed the two can be. It makes for interesting reading, and I hope Vaughan keeps it up and doesn't start giving us too much of the Great Machine.

A lot of people might have picked this book up for the art -- I know I did. Harris's art is beautiful, although, strangely enough, I like his early art on Starman more -- it seems more vibrant, although I suppose the coloring has a lot to do with it. His cover is wonderful, with Mitch as, I believe, Shiva the Destroyer (she's the one with the six arms, right? -- or maybe he's Spiral) and his interiors don't let up. Kind of like 303, a lot of this book is talking, but we're never bored, not only because the story is interesting, but because the art's so pretty. Page 15 (why don't comics have page numbers anymore) is particularly nice. Count along and you'll see which one I'm talking about.

Pick this book up. It's actually worth the money.

Fables #30 by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, and Steve Leialoha
$2.50, DC/Vertigo

Fables never ceases to amaze me with the detail that Willingham and Buckingham put into each page. Just the knowledge of fairy tales is impressive, and Buckingham, who has evolved nicely beyond aping Chris Bachalo even though the influence is still there, puts a lot onto the page. This issue starts a new storyline, and Snow White has kids. Prince Charming wins the election and finds out things aren't as wonderful as he thought they would be, and an investigative reporter wonders why no one noticed the battle with the wooden soldiers that almost destroyed Fabletown. Lots of things brewing. It's a treat to read this book every month. Maybe Willingham could be persuaded to draw an issue here and there if Buckingham needs a break ...

Fallen Angel #16 by Peter David, David Lopez, and Fernando Blanco
$2.95, DC

David's been flogging this book on his blog, and it's helped, apparently, as sales as slowly creeping upwards, and DC has extended its life a little. It's a shame more people don't read this, because although some of the objections to it are valid (sometimes people need to know a little more about the characters instead of David constantly teasing us), it's still a worthy book. I still can't figure out what all the names of the characters are, and I'm still not sure if we've seen some of them before or not, simply because I read a lot of books every month and I have other things to do, but I still enjoy this and will enjoy it a lot more when I sit down and read the whole series. Fallen Angel rewards its readers with little nuggets of information, like the "secret origin" of Shadow Boxer in this issue, including a creepy drawing on page 5, third panel. Lee survives the bomb from last issue, of course, and goes for revenge, and we learn something interesting about Juris. Speaking of him, he also finds out about Lee's pregnancy, so that thread is going to pick up. I still think Fallen Angel could move a bit more quickly, but I trust Peter David, and I'm willing to cut him some slack. David Lopez, whom I'd never heard of before this book, continues to provide good, solid art that looks normal on first viewing, but has a kind of dark edge to it that works for this book. So I guess I'm flogging Fallen Angel just like Peter David is.

Rex Mundi #12 by Arvid Nelson and Eric J
$2.95, Image

Ah, Rex Mundi. If you can only buy one comic book in a month, make it Rex Mundi (unless, of course, it doesn't come out in that month, which is unfortunately more likely than not). My favorite comic book out there. Murder, mystery, political intrigue, conspiracy theories, sex, religion -- what else do you need? How about beautiful art? How about codes and puzzles? How about an alternate history of the world? If you don't read Rex Mundi, I can't even describe it. It takes The Da Vinci Code and turns it into something much more mystical, mysterious, and dangerous (and it saw print before The Da Vinci Code anyway). It combines realpolitik in an alternate 1930s Europe with religious fanaticism and conspiracies. It has a fake newspaper at the back of each issue with actual stories that enhance your understanding of the story. Are you kidding me? Why doesn't this book sell more? Everyone who reads it loves it. Which means not enough people are reading it. The owner of the comic book store I patronize called me "weird" when I put this on my pull list. If this is weird, then weird I be!

Oh. In this issue the rabbi who helped Sauniere leaves for New York to escape the Inquisition, Sauniere gets help from Brother Matthew in deciphering the geometrical precision of Poussin's The Shephards of Arcadia, we learn about the Grail family, Genevieve discovers a genealogy for the true kings of France that descends from Dagobert II (who in real life didn't have kids, or if he did, it died young, but that would interfere with good fiction!), and the Duke of Lorraine has some family problems. And someone dies (we think). See what I mean about trying to describe it? Oh, and Winston Churchill shows up. He's right there on the cover! Just buy it!

Ultimate Nightmare #3 by Warren Ellis, Steve Epting, and Nelson DeCastro/Tom Palmer
$2.25, Marvel

And then there's Ultimate Nightmare.

There's been a lot of talk about decompressed storytelling in comics, and Ellis usually seems to want nothing to do with it. Here, he wallows in it. Issue number 2 was the most egregious example of this, as basically, both the Ultimates and the X-Men went to Russia. That's it. In this issue, we get a couple of fights, but there's still not a whole hell of a lot happening. This mini-series could be about halfway through a second issue and still have room for more, but Marvel apparently wanted to turn a good 3-issue mini into a mediocre 5-issue one, knowing suckers like me would pick it up. Good job, Marvel.

So does this suck? Well, it's Warren Ellis, so no. I would like to see him putting more effort into Planetary, but it's still an okay read. It's an intriguing idea, and Ellis's dialogue is always fun (Wolverine's whining is a highlight of this issue), but God does it move slowly. We get the Ultimates and the X-Men separately walking through the complex, filling in the blanks for us, and then two weird creatures who attack the separate teams. The Falcon kills one, but the other drags the X-Men down into a pit where other strange beings, who may or may not be hostile, await. That's it.

The art is a big come-down, as well. Epting has always been hit-or-miss with me, and his most recent effort on the late, lamented El Cazador was perfect for that title. Here, it doesn't work. His Wolverine is just weird-looking, and everything's so stinkin' dark (yes, I know they're underground without electricity, but still!) it's hard to see much of anything. And what happened to Hairsine? Three consecutive issues was too difficult for him? I'm sick of pencillers who can't even do a mini-series, much less a regular series. It's pathetic.

I also noticed something as I was reading this. If we ignore the title page, this is how things go: Page 1, p.2, p.3 (good so far), ad (Sarah Michelle Gellar's new movie), p.4, p.5, p.6 (still good), ad, p.7, ad, p.8, ad, p.9, p.10, p.11, ad, double-sized ad (for Smallville), p.12, ad, p.13, ad, p.14, ad, p.15, ad, p.16, ad, p.17, ad, p.18, ad, p.19-21. Disgusting. Compare that to a book like Rex Mundi, where all the ads are at the back, and they're all for other Image books. Yes, I know Marvel and DC have to sell advertising, but can't they put them at the end of the book? It's ridiculously distracting, and the saddest thing is: the only double-sized spread in the entire book is an ad! Blech.

Ultimate X-Men #52 by Brian K. Vaughan, Andy Kubert, and Danny Miki
$2.25, Marvel

Vaughan has two books on this list this week, and it's very obvious which one you should buy -- it ain't this one. Ultimate X-Men isn't bad, but it's nothing like Ex Machina. Still, it is the only X-book I buy on a regular basis (at some point I may chronicle my long and twisted relationship with the Marvel Universe X-books) and it's pretty good. I read some people bashing Vaughan's use of Fenris. I LOVE Fenris! I just think the concept is so cool, and their all-too-brief appearances in Uncanny X-Men were very neat. I don't know if they've appeared more often in other Marvel books (they are Baron von Strucker's kids, after all, so maybe Captain America?), but I think they should be used more often in the "real" Marvel Universe.

Which leads me to a tangent. Why are these characters allowed to be used in the Ultimate Universe, but not the Marvel Universe? Not only do I love Fenris, but I love Dazzler and Psylocke and Longshot. Okay, Psylocke is dead in both universes, but at least in the Ultimate Universe, she went out with some dignity. Claremont (who I always thought liked the character) killed her off-panel, for God's sake! Dazzler and Longshot are in limbo in the Marvel Universe (DeMatteis wrote a Longshot special in '96 or '97, but since then -- nada; I don't know what's going on with Alison), but Dazzler's currently in Ultimate X-Men and I read the next storyline's dealing with Longshot. Why can't we use them in the Marvel Universe???? Grrr...

Anyway, this is a perfectly serviceable story, although why the Struckers would go through this elaborate setup to recruit Rogue makes no sense. Just offer her a crapload of money! Although, being the altruistic X-Man she is, she'd probably turn down boatloads of cash on principle. The interplay between the team is good -- remember the days in the Marvel Universe when the X-Men didn't always get along -- with Peter's exit line ("You weren't here when Cyclops and Wolverine almost murdered each other. I'd say we're improving ...") just flat-out funny. I kind of wish Gambit had been killed, because I hate Gambit no matter what universe he's in, but no such luck. Betsy they can kill, but let's not touch Remy! The walk on the astral plane was nice, with a future plot brewing. Is that the Phoenix or possibly the Shadow King talking to Jean? Kubert's art is Kubert-like. I like his brother's better. Andy's not bad, but his figures are all stockier than they have to be, and when he sometimes draws weirdly contorted people that's disconcerting. It's fine, I suppose.

The Ultimate Universe still bugs me, because of what seems the slavish devotion to simply blending old plots and then spitting them out. Millar's Ultimates has not taken that route (yet), and even though I don't read Ultimate Fantastic Four, it seems like it's doing it. Bendis even gratuitously killed Gwen Stacy, who, unlike the real Marvel Universe, was just as cool (or even cooler, possibly) than Mary Jane! I thought the Ultimate Universe was a way to introduce new readers to the concepts without bogging them down with history. Can't we come up with at least a few new villains? Please? (That crappy villain Bendis made up to introduce Spidey to the X-Babes doesn't count.)

X-Men: The End: Book One: Dreamers & Demons #4 by Chris Claremont, Sean Chen, and Sandu Flores
$2.99, Marvel

That's a lot of colons in one title, let me tell you! This is the much-ballyhooed first of three mini-series chronicling the end of the X-Men. Blah blah blah. The only "The End" book I have really liked is David and Keown's Hulk one, but this one is shaping up as pretty interesting. Claremont gets a bad rap these days, but let's face it: despite Morrison's run, the X-Men and the X-Universe hasn't been the same since Claremont wrote every book in creation. Yes, he's bombastic and expository and didactic and pedantic (I can fling fancy words with the best of them), but he writes a mean story. This series is not even remotely decompressed, as Claremont throws fights and plotlines at us incessantly. It's a little overwhelming, and probably won't make many fans want to buy this. That's a shame, because it is fun, and it is nice to look at (Chen's art looks different, but nice -- maybe it's the inker), and you can tell that Claremont has a real passion for these characters, many of whom he created, and that he does have a plot behind all the craziness and bad dialogue (Shatterstar, I think, was created to spout bad dialogue -- I mean, he's a joke, right?) I have no clue where Apocalypse came from, who Puffball is, what that weird Warlock-looking thing is, and why Claremont ends the book on a limp, lame page at the Mansion, but I don't care. I'm going to stick with it at least until the end of this mini-series.

So that's it. A big week, and it won't always be this way. In fact, most weeks I might only buy one or two books. I hope some of you get some ideas from this list. Comments are welcome!

Oh yeah: there was a debate yesterday. Blah blah blah. Kerry stomped him, Bush stomped him, they tied. Why are the Republicans so offended by Kerry referencing Cheney's daughter? Everyone knows she's gay. It seems (and I'm just speculating here) that they (the Republicans, not the Cheneys) are a little embarrassed that their ruler (let's be honest about who runs the country) has a daughter who's so out of phase with their core constituency. Anyway. Interesting debate. Did it convince anyone? We'll see.

nemo dat quod non habet!


Who can beat the Patriots? Anyone?

Before I forget, here's a great article I encourage everyone who cares about stuff like, I don't know, civility and the future of the country to read:

Excellent stuff, especially considering the fact that I got an interesting comment on my post about the presidential debate last week. Read it yourself!

I didn't pay that much attention to football this past weekend, because my beloved Eagles weren't playing, but I would like to make some observations:

Can anyone beat the Patriots? I think so, and I think if they get through the next five games with four wins, then we can start talking about them being a great team.

The Seahawks and Cardinals CHOKED. Aren't they supposed to be professionals?

Why was everyone always so down on Drew Brees? He always seemed to be pretty decent to me, and now he has a semi-decent team around him, and he's playing for his future, and he can make some plays.

As I write, the Brett Favres are getting hammered. I hate Nancy-Boy Favre. I'm not sure if that makes me a bad American. Someday I may get into the depth of my Favre-hatred, but not now. I'll wait until he does something incredibly stupid -- like come back in the game with a concussion simply to keep his touchdown-pass streak going -- and gets praised by every commentator in the country for being a "warrior." It should be any day now. I just watched him throw a really bad interception, but no one praised him for it. I also thought that post-September 11 we all agreed to stop calling athletes "warriors" unless they actually were one, like Pat Tillman. That didn't last long ...

Penn State lost this week, and I'm sad. I am a Penn State alumnus, and this feeble excuse for a football team makes me weep. I think JoePa should take his millions and treat his wife to an around-the-world cruise. It's just sad.

Next week my beloved Eagles play, and I'll be glued to the tube. My football thoughts will follow!

ira furor brevis est!


Stay-at-home mothers

60 Minutes had a story on tonight about women staying at home to raise their children instead of working. Now, ignoring the fact that 60 Minutes used to actually run news stories (tonight they ran a story on Sudan -- real news -- the one about women, and one about Queen Latifah -- I'm a fan of the queen, but come on!), I had some thoughts about these women.

First, they were all white. It's just something I noticed. Second, they were all, as far as I could tell, rich. Not middle-class. Rich. The point of the story was that women who were graduating from Ivy League or Ivy-like schools and getting high-octane jobs were just stopping their career track and having kids. Some older lawyer who fought through the wars of the '60s and '70s was horrified by this. I'm not that horrified by it, but it did make me think.

These white rich women are raising kids. Good for them. Nice to have a choice. So many people don't. I've been reading about the trend recently toward women staying home with their kids more, and that's great. But so many of them talk about having the choice to do so. Many more people, I suspect, have no choice. I also wonder about what the lawyer in the story said, how these women are deliberately making themselves dependent on their husbands. That's a good point. I wonder how many of them were making as much or more money than their husbands? Did the subject of the husbands staying at home ever come up? I'm a stay-at-home dad, for two reasons: my daughter is developmentally disabled and can't go to day care, and my wife makes a crapload more money than I do (high school teachers don't make any money, because God forbid we think education is important in this country -- but that's a topic for another day). So when it came time for one of us to quit, the choice was easy. I wonder if these women discussed this with their husbands, or if it was just assumed the woman would stay at home. That's what's more distressing about the story -- are we still locked in a mindset that says if there's only one bread winner in the family, it must be the father? I don't know.

My wife, cynic that she is, also pointed out that these women are losing valuable job skills, and when the inevitable happens -- the husband leaves them for younger women -- they won't be able to re-enter the work force. She also says that these husbands will give the excuse that their wives are too wrapped up with raising the kids, so they just had to schtup the secretary or whatever. I'm not as bleakly untrustworthy as my wife, but she has a point -- men tend to be scumbags, and one wonders if Lesley Stahl will re-visit these women in ten years and see how things are going.

I don't care if women are staying home more. I think it's a great idea for a parent to stay at home and raise their kids. In today's economy, however, it's just not feasible for most people. It would have been nice if 60 Minutes recognized that.

Sic transit gloria mundi


The Presidential debate

I hope everyone watched the presidential debate tonight, because it's important to check these things out and see what's going on. I don't really care who won or lost, because neither candidate really inspires me all that much. I thought Bush sounded whiney in the beginning. My wife says he acts like it's beneath him to debate, which isn't a bad way to put it. He got better as the night went along. I've been reading some conservative blogs and most of the people commenting on the debate though Bush did really well on the environmental question, which I thought was his absolute nadir. Basically, he said we need to turn forests over to private industries so we can clear them and prevent forest fires. Private industries are not terribly interested in clearing brush -- they're much more interested in chopping down the old-growth trees that Bush claims he wants to protect, because that's where the lumber is! Kerry, on the other hand, was weak on the abortion and stem-cell issue. We know you're pro-choice, and we know you think tax dollars should support it. Suck it up and tell us! As usual, both candidates dodged issues. What else is new?

The bigger issue is the inability of either side to hear the other. I disagree with people on issues all the time, and I hope I'm open-minded enough to learn from the other side. For Bush to say that, basically, he's made no mistakes in four years was kind of depressing. For Kerry to continually claim he hasn't changed his mind on the war is also silly. What's wrong with changing your mind? Neither side wants to admit the other might have any good points. It's sad.

Hey, vote for whichever guy you want to. Hell, vote for Nader or some other candidate -- it's a free country. I'm voting for Kerry, not because I think he's the second coming of [insert your favorite president here] but because I think Bush is a lousy president and I think Kerry would do a better job. The election basically comes down to whether you think we did the right thing by invading Iraq. Yes, there are domestic policy issues, but that's not the most important thing. I happen to think it was a huge mistake to invade Iraq, and we're paying for it. If you think Bush did the right thing, vote for him. Some guy on the National Review web site listed the various terrorist attacks against the U.S. during the Clinton years. Since September 11, he writes, there have been none. I would venture to guess that more Americans have been killed since September 11, however, than in all the terrorist attacks before it. Yes, they were soldiers and that's part of the job description, but they were still Americans, and they still died, I think, needlessly. But that's just my opinion.

Politics will dominate the thoughts of many Americans over the next three weeks. I'll probably comment on the race again. I just think we need to realize that we all have to work together, and when one party wins everything, nobody wins. Here in Arizona a bunch of very right-wing Republicans just won primaries over more moderate Republicans. There was great rejoicing. But what are they going to accomplish in the legislature? Our governor, who is very popular, will veto anything she thinks is too extreme. Compromise may be a dirty word, but it's how things get done. Yes, we're very impressed that the "real" Republicans (as they call themselves) won the primaries. But when they get to the legislature, they won't work with anyone, because they're "right" and everyone else is "wrong." It's the same thing on a national level. The spirit of compromise is still around, but it's not as strong as it used to be. You can support the president if you want, but you have to admit, he doesn't like to compromise, because he is convinced that he's "right." If he wins, I hope he learns that he might need to back off some things, because he won't be able to get things done unless he does.

Next week: the last debate, here in Tempe! Arizona State is playing USC the following Saturday! Which event will people around here have more interest in????

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditiones habes!


What the crap do I think I'm doing?

So I'm reading the latest post by my friend Michelle over at (like I know how to link to it; I can barely turn my computer on), and I think -- I'm much more charming and witty than she is, so why shouldn't I get myself a web log? (Forgive me for saying so, but "blog" sounds like something you do in the toilet -- which, I suppose, is the point, since most of it belongs there, including what's on this site.) So I fired one up, and here is the first "official" post, in which I answer the question above.

My name is Greg Burgas, and I'm 33. I live in Mesa, in what the locals call Arizona but I like to call "hell." It's October and in the high 90s. I used to be a high school teacher, but now I'm a full-time househusband. I'm about as white as can be (Polish, Lithuanian, German, Scotch-Irish) and I'm liberal, but not "crazy" liberal (at least I don't think so, but my friend Dave S. might think differently). I love parentheses! I write quite a bit, although not as much as I should, and I have had a grand total of one (1) story published in my life. I'm working on a novel, but who knows when that sucker will be done. I read comic books religiously, and I will be reviewing some old ones on this site as well as the ones I get every week. If you don't read comic books, you should -- what better way to throw your money down a deep well? I also love sports, especially football, and every Monday I will post something about the weekend's games. Other than that, nothing's set in stone.

I have been married for ten years, and my wife and I are proud parents of a two-year-old girl, whom I will affectionately refer to as the Demon Child. She is, of course, the most beautiful girl in the world. You have no choice but to accept that. My wife and I have lived in Arizona (or "hell") for three years, and before that we lived in Portland, Oregon ("heaven," at least compared to here). We moved there from Pennsylvania, where we grew up. We both have English degrees from Penn State University, and I have a History Master's Degree from Portland State University.

I should tell you -- I will one day be supreme dictator of these United States, if not the world. That's why it's crucial that you read my web log and get to know me. That way, when my "Attorney General" (or, as he'll really be known, Commissioner of the Secret Police) sends his jack-booted thugs to your house thirty years from now, you can exclaim something that learned here and we will be lenient. Don't say you haven't been warned!

Pax Vobiscum

The Child is Crying ...

This is my first post on this blog, and I wanted to introduce myself and tell you why the hell you should care about what's going on in my head, but my two-year-old daughter just woke up (more on her later) and she's not one to be patient. I hope to have more here soon.