I’m sad to see the coach of the Skins go, he had a great first run and a good second one. But he’s getting old and this year was tough. I doubt I’ll be working as hard as he does at age 67. I wish him and his family the best.

Lotsa speculation about who the next coach will be. I see the pros and cons of promotion vs. going outside the organization, and I think defensive coach Gregg Williams deserves a chance, but we’ll see.

Books I’ve read, week one

I pondered the multiple ways I could pick which books to read, then went with the easy answer: books I own but haven’t read (unless they’re a sequel and I don’t remember the last one), in alphabetical order by author’s last name. That could give me some trouble soon as I’ve got a backlog of fat Clive Barker books, but I’m off to a roaring start so far.

1. Batman Illustrated by Neil Adams
Writer: Dennis O’Neil Artists: Neil Adams and Dick Giordano
I’ve always liked the art of legendary penciller Neil Adams, and at DC Comics he was best known for his Green Lantern/Green Arrow and Batman runs. This book is the first of three collecting his Batman run and I picked it up a couple years ago expecting to get the rest. Not now, it’s not as good as I expected. C-

2. X-Men Visionaries: Neal Adams
Writer: Roy Thomas Artists: Neil Adams and Tom Palmer
Maybe it’s the fact that I used to have some of these issues (both the originals and the reprints in Giant-Size X-Men 2), but I liked Neal Adams much more here. Part of it was the inking of Tom Palmer, but I thought the stories were more interesting, and not as predictable. B-

3. Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain!
Author: Scott Adams
A collection of the Dilbert creator’s blog. Quite simply, if you like the blog, you’ll like the book. I was enjoying it until about 40 pages from the end, where I ran into blog posts I’d already read – weird to have deja vu at the end of a book. B

4. Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Gorn Crisis
Writers: Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta Artist: Igor Kordey
An explanation about why the Enterprise didn’t show up during the Dominion War. Decent story, but the art holds it back. B-

5. The Fountain
Writer: Darren Aronofsky Artist: Kent Williams
This was also the third film from a director who I like. Pi was great, and Requiem for a Dream was mesmerizing (don’t know that I’ll ever watch it again, though). The Fountain was planned as a movie, and when the plug got pulled, translated into this graphic novel. That inspired him, and he rewrote the screenplay and made the movie for much less money than originally planned. I haven’t seen it yet, but would like to after reading this trippy time travel tale. Kent Williams’ expressionist art is a good fit. B

Ecstasy and agony

Friday I was supposed to go grocery shopping after work, but didn’t feel like it. Jill had mentioned craving Indian on New Year’s Eve, so I looked to see what place were around, and found Hot Breads, an Indian bakery. I went there and picked up a number of items, then made some spinach to go with, and was ready shortly after she got home. We both enjoyed it, but it was very filling. Jill was wiped, and I stayed up reading and playing Super Mario. Now I’ve got a very severe case of Nintendo thumb, finally getting back to normal tonight.

Saturday we slept in, I got up for the dog then made breakfast. I had a haircut in the afternoon, then hit the pet food and grocery stores before heading home. Watched the ecstasy and agony that was the Skins playoff game, then finished cooking a roast for dinner. I made a Yorkshire pudding to go with it, but it didn’t turn out anything like Mom’s. I wasn’t interested in any more football this weekend, and I spent the rest of the night reading books while Jill got deeper into Harry Potter on the Wii.

Today I got up, made breakfast, and went out on the deck to read the paper. After I finished I went in the woods to clear the thorn bushes off the path I walk Illa on back there, then walked him (he was very upset to watch me back there without him from the porch). I grilled pork chops for dinner, then contacted the winners of my eBay auctions and got the packages ready for shipping.

Top ten concerts of 2007

Hey, earlier than ever!

10. Van Halen at Wachovia Center on October 3rd.
Eddie and Dave still have it. Probably won’t see this tour again (unless I won tix, ’cause its pricey), but they delivered a great set of classic rock, and the Philly audience went crazy for it.

9. Mika at the 9:30 Club on June 12th.
This guy is a showman, and his voice is amazing. He has a bright future if people find that out.

8. Bon Jovi/Smashing Pumpkins/Roger Waters/The Police at Giants Stadium for Live Earth on July 7th
Ok, maybe not the best performances from all of them, but back to back, starting with Bon Jovi’s home field advantage, it was a cumulative effect. And surpasses the previous winner, Saturday night at Woodstock ’94 with Nine Inch Nails/Metallica/Aerosmith.

7. Buddy Guy/Robert Randolph at Constitution Hall for Experience Hendrix on October 16th.
The show was not great as a whole, but their performances were amazing.

6. Eddie From Ohio (Robbie, Mike & Eddie acoustic) on Carnival’s Inspiration for Edhead Cruise V on November 3rd.
Sitting on the back deck of a cruise ship, watching members of one of your favorite bands do an improv set of their own tunes and covers? Amazing.

5. Porcupine Tree at the State Theater on October 12th.
4. Blackfield at Rams Head Tavern on March 15th.
I saw Steven Wilson play with his bands three times this year (also a show in May at Rams Head Live). He’s such a talented singer and guitarists, and both bands were stellar.

3. The Police at Hersheypark Stadium July 20th.
I have to admit, the VIP portion helped it in the rankings, but the show itself could not have been better. I was worried about complaints that the songs had been “Stingified”, but they were great, especially Stewart Copeland’s new arrangements.

2. Rush at Bell Centre on September 15th.
Having a crowd that’s very enthusiastic is infectious, and I’ve never seen a crowd as crazy for Rush as this show in Montreal. If only I could afford to see them there all the time.

1. Paul Simon & Friends at the Warner Theatre for the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song on May 23rd.
This show was accused of being slow because of interruptions due to filming for TV. There were lulls, but the performances were so outstanding, I was afraid to leave my seat for three hours for fear I might miss one.

What would I do with a year of free passes to the 9:30 Club?

For years, the 9:30 Club has had a raffle (by bringing food for the homeless) to win a pair of passes for every show for a year. I pride myself on seeing a lot of shows, but even I don’t think I could keep up with last year’s winner:

Q: How many shows did you attend?

A: If I remember correctly, it was 166 shows at the 9:30 Club plus around another 10 at other venues in D.C., Arlington, Philly, and NYC. I’m including shows and dance parties where I might have only stayed a few minutes, but that was the beauty of being on the list.

A new year and a resolution

And an odd one. I didn’t take New Year’s Eve day off because Jill worked the night before and slept all day, and it was pretty quiet at work. We hadn’t been invited to any parties and had tentatively decided to go out to a restaurant when we got a call Sunday from Jill’s best bud, Joanna. She was moving down to Tampa from Boston to start a program similar to Jill’s, and was going to be in our area on New Year’s Eve. So we said we’d be happy to hang out with her, and we cleaned up the place, then played with Illa and read on the couch until she showed.

It was after 10 by the time she arrived, not much time to get ready to go out and eat. So we decided to stay in. We did the rounds of appetizers thing, accompanied by plenty of fermented beverages, with Queen’s videos on the telly (why not?). With five minutes to go, we flipped between the awfulness of Carson Daly and Ryan Seacrest until the ball dropped, then I had BNL’s “Auld Lang Syne” cued up while they blathered, then we gave in and watched until we pulled out Trivial Pursuit with DVD, which should have gone faster because everyone can compete for a wedge but it didn’t, and it was 3 by the time I got to bed.

I got up around 10:30 and Joanna was up, but she went back to bed so I read the paper and started a book. Besides the usual resolutions (eat better and exercise more), one thing I want to do this year is read more books (thanks, Idiocracy!). So my goal is to read one a week, and that includes anything bound, including collections of comics (but not single issues). I caught up with my magazines on New Year’s Eve and the DVR is pretty slim (even with the new stuff I’ve subscribed to), so I’m confident I can keep the pace. And if I can’t, I should be able to catch up when we go on vacation.

Jill got up after noon, and Joanna finally roused herself after 2, and we headed over to IHOP for brunch. I had carrot cake pancakes, eggs and bacon, Jill had stuffed french toast, and everything hit the spot. Joanna headed off to her cousin’s place in DC soon after, and we camped out downstairs, Jill reading and me working my way through Super Mario Galaxy. I’m 2 galaxies down now, and while I really like the game, I’m once again developing a case of Nintendo thumb due to using the nunchuck to move. I wish there was some way to move without it, like one Wiimote to move and another to collect star bits. I started a fire then finished my book and made some quick quesadillas for dinner.

It’s weird having worked yesterday, being off today and working tomorrow, but a four day week’s better than a five day one, right? 2007 didn’t really go out with a bang, but with Jill’s car having a big repair recently we weren’t prepared to go all out, and we had fun. It was a decent year, some good concerts (detailed later this week) and good times, but a lot of pressure on Jill with school and now on rotations. At least her goal will be achieved this year, and the end is in sight. But look out 2009!