What comics to read

Pop culture columnist Whitney Matheson at usatoday.com recently ran a series of columns on what comics you should read. I found the first three to cover the essentials – the last one didn’t have any I liked. Nearly everything I really love is covered: Sandman, Watchmen, Dark Knight, Bone, Buffy, Fables, Planetary, Preacher, Strangers In Paradise, etc.

Part one: 25 essential graphic novels
Part two: 25 family-friendly titles
Part three: 25 must-see series
Part four: Twenty-five personal favorites

Movies I’ve watched, week eight

13. This Film Is Not Yet Rated
An intriguing look at the movie rating system. I heard about it because of Kevin Smith’s involvement, but it stands on its own, especially because of the half of the movie they spend tracking down the raters. B

14. Flushed Away
An animated feature from the folks that brought you Wallace and Gromit. Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet do a good job as leads (and rats), and there are some really funny moments (and Ian McKellen and the singing slugs are great). B

Books I’ve read, week eight

I’ve got more unread Clive Barker books, but the rest are dense tomes I’m not motivated to crack right now. They may make a reappearance on this list later this year.

13. Odd and the Frost Giants
Writer: Neil Gaiman Artist: Mark Buckingham
I needed a short one as I was running out of time, and this just arrived in the mail. It was published in the UK for World Book Day (March 6th this year) and won’t be out here for at least a year. A short little fable about with a boy who takes on the Frost Giants with illustrations by Mark Buckingham (most recently been doing a lot of Fables work), it was wonderful, as well as a nice story for any American Gods fans. A+

A lot of f*@&ing

Sarah Silverman and Jimmy Kimmel have been dating for a while. A couple weeks back, Sarah was on Jimmy’s show, and let him know that she’d been f*@&ing Matt Damon. This week in retaliation, Jimmy responded. Both very funny, although I think the melody of the first one is stronger.

It was such a good meme, even the stars of Kevin Smith’s next film “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” got into it. The first two links are bleeped, but really none of them are SFW.

Oh yeah, an update

Friday was another in what’s getting to be a habit, a quick dinner with Jill (pizza and salad) and a long round with Super Mario Galaxy, except I’d gotten up at 5:30 (when she did) to see if she needed help with snow/ice. She didn’t, but I stayed up and got home at 3:30, with plenty of time to take Illa on a long walk, play some Wii, and watch some TV before she got home.

Saturday I slept in, spent a lot of time on the computer and in the office, organizing and cleaning. We headed over to participate in a birthday party/murder mystery – the first time I’d done one, and it was fun (I was the butler, Jill was the vet). We got burgers for dinner and a very nice chocolate silk pie for dessert.

Sunday we did some cleaning (maybe finish this weekend) and straightening up, I got another eBay auction ready to ship, and I did the taxes. Boy, that was not fun. Transforming an IRA to a Roth IRA meant I’d essentially be taxed on the whole thing as income. We’re going to have to do some belt tightening for the next couple months. Spring break is still on (airline tix are not fun to mess with), but we’ve postponed a trip to Wisp we’d planned for this weekend (it was a Christmas gift to me from Jill, maybe next season). I sauteed some chicken legs for dinner, served with the leftover cheese sauce and steamed asparagus and rice and beans.

Today I rushed home and sent out invoices for the eBay auctions. I heated up some frozen lobster bisque and made buffalo chicken sandwiches, then finished packaging the auction winners. I’ve been doing a fair amount of auctions recently, but I’ve still got plenty of comics left and need to keep up the pace, especially since we could use the extra cash. Also going to sell off any DVD that’s been released or will be released on glorious Blu-ray.

My weather site

My fave new site for local weather news is the Capital Weather Gang. They were an independent site until the Post bought them in January, and I’ve been amazed at the accuracy of their predictions. I especially like their forecast confidence chart, showing how definite their predictions are. They had dead on accuracy for last week’s ice storm, and didn’t steer us wrong about last night’s eclipse still being visible after the snow finished (and they’ve got pictures) – Jill and Illa and I went for a walk in the snow and checked it out for ourselves. I’ll be watching for tonight’s update, since both of us need to go to work tomorrow. Hopefully the commute won’t be as bad as last week.

Movies I’ve watched, week seven

11. Miami Vice
12. Knight Rider

It wasn’t intentional, but last weekend I watched two movies, and both of them were updates of ’80s TV shows. Remarkably, the big budget big cast (Miami Vice) was the weaker of the two. I was a big fan of both series when they originally aired. Miami Vice was a landmark of TV in terms of editing and music, a big influence on series to come. While the movie kept the characters intact and brought back Michael Mann to write and direct it, I never really cared about the over-complicated story. Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell were fine, but they didn’t really fit the roles. Two things I really missed from the original series was Edward James Olmos as their boss, and Jan Hammer’s theme (they did have a cover of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” over the end credits). C

Knight Rider, on the other hand, seemed to get it right. It was a TV movie (and probably a pilot for a series), but it was truer to the original series. It had some nifty FX sequences (when the car was being shot at), a nice cameo by the Hoff (I have a hard time believing Miami Vice couldn’t afford Philip Michael Thomas) and a cool update of the original theme music. I’d definitely give it a try if they make a series out of it. B

Books I’ve read, week seven

12. The Thief Of Always
Writer: Clive Barker Artist: Clive Barker
The other Barker books I’ve read recently were early horror stories, some quite gory. This is a horror story for kids of all ages, really more of a fable. It’s a well written and moving tale of children who find that wishes shouldn’t always come true. A quick read, but a good one. A

Howie Day at Iota

Last night I went to see Howie Day at Iota. I don’t make it out to many shows on “school” nights anymore, but this had a couple things going for it:
a) in Clarendon, unlike his recent appearances at the 9:30 Club
b) they sold tix, so I could arrive at showtime and not have to wait in line and possibly not get in, which has happened to me
c) I’ve never seen him in a small club

I showed up with only a couple songs left from the opener. I got a beer and headed up front where my friend Linda had saved me a spot right next to the stage. When I first heard of Howie in 200, it was because he was only one of a handful of solo artists experimenting with live looping (or delay), along with Keller Williams. I love to watch the performance when they do, as it can sound like a full band up there. Last night was no exception, particularly on old faves like “Sorry So Sorry” and “Beams Of Light”. Watching him up close was a revelation, as the intricacy of his moves was nearly a dance routine. He was previewing songs from his new album and they were pretty good – the only one I knew was “Everyone Loves To Love A Lie”, and I enjoyed that. The crowd was old school, screaming for everything from “After You” to hit “Collide”. A great show, even if I did come home stinking of smoke (I can’t believe a no-smoking bill failed again in VA).

Howie Day