Saturday, August 30, 2008

Willful Ignorance

In honor of Labor are a few subjects that I know nothing about...

I have no vehicular expertise whatsoever. I suppose when your first car is a 1978 Buick Estate station wagon, you're just going to be happy that it runs. This ignorance applies to all mechanical devices. When something doesn't work, I tell the service guy (or lady) "The Goer is broke...please fix it & make it go." and then give them all my money.

I have a casual enough interest to keep up with what's going on in a general sense. But if you start getting in depth, I'm lost. I never played any sport well enough to want to follow it that closely & quickly discovered the best way to keep from getting yelled at by coached was to stay away from them altogether. That policy has worked out really well for all, the coaches & the team.

Or any financial transaction more complex than paying my monthly bills. I'm forced to see the business type shows at the gym and they just make my head spin. I risk imaginary money every time I write a check a week before payday, so don't try to explain pork futures to me...the pig would probably understand it better.

So...there you go. "What did this have to do with Labor Day?" you ask...well, I wrote it on Labor Day weekend and it was laborious to write and, I magine, to read. Now go have a hot dog & say goodbye to summer.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

More Conventional Wisdom & Books of the Week

  • Four years from now, I'm going to find a way to have the goofy hat concession at the party conventions. I bet I could make a bunch of Newspaper hats, sell them to delegates and retire on the profits.
  • If you are a candidate, I don't care what song they play...for the love of God & in the name of all that is Holy...DON'T DANCE. There is nothing more awkward than watching 50-something career politicians trying to bust a move.
  • I loved the fact that during the Hillary Clinton video package, they chose to use the super "Hillary's Husband" when Bill was talking.
  • Will I be watching the Republican Convention next week? No. I know who I'm going to vote for already. Besides, if it runs true to form, I don't need to hear multiple speeches about how we're all in in danger of imminent nuclear destruction if Obama is elected. Given the choice between the "We Are Family-I'd Like To Buy The World A Coke" sometimes goofy optimism of the Democrats & the "Eve Of Destruction-Meet The New Boss (Same As The Old Boss)" fear mongering of the Republicans, I'll take optimism for $1,000 Alex.

We have two winners for Funnybook of the Week. Both were excellent in their own ways, so I just couldn't pick one.

First up is Final Crisis: Rogue's Revenge #2 by Geoff Johns & Scott Kollins. The Rogues take their war against Libra to a new level and Captain Cold settles some family business. I'm getting a real "Wild Bunch" vibe off of this title. I can easily see the Rogues making one doomed last stand and going out in a blaze of glory by the end of this mini-series. Johns continues to explore just what makes the Flash's Rogues Gallery more than just another group of costumed criminals. With hints of betrayal from within and Zoom and Inertia on the horizon, it looks like this one will wrap up with a bang!

My second pick is DC Universe: Last Will And Testament by Brad Meltzer. This was originally solicited as a tie-in to "Final Crisis", but works fine as a stand alone story. Meltzer does take a look at what various heroes in the DC Universe do on the night before what might be their final battle. But he also takes the opportunity to tie up some plot threads that hearken back to his run on "Justice League of America" and even as far back as "Identity Crises". I never had a strong opinion about Geo-Force before...he came to prominence during my absence from comics. Truthfully, until this issue, he never seemed more fully rounded as a character. But Meltzter made me care about him...and that's the mark of a good writer.

Honorable mention goes to Nova #16 and Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1. Nova for being a Secret Invasion tie-in that also more than holds its own as a stand alone issue and Superman Beyond for the ideas and psychotic genius that is Grant Morrison.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Three Albums That Changed My Life

Today I'm going to reflect on music that changed my life. For the younger readers out there & for the sake of clarity, I will be referring to them as "albums". In the interest of full disclosure, I only owned one of the three in "album" form...but you get the point.

So, in somewhat chronological order, are the Three Albums That Changed My Life!


As a little kid in pre-car tape deck Southern suburbia, my musical influences were limited to (a) what my parents listened to on the radio and (b) what records my parents played around the house. That and "Hee Haw" every Saturday night. So, I grew up listening to Johnny Cash & the Statler that I still enjoy, but first liked because of genetics and osmosis.

Then in 1980 "Glass Houses" was released. I don't remember exactly how I discovered it...I think the first single was "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me" and I probably saw Joel sing it on "Solid Gold" (which I would watch after Sha Na Na...yeah, I was that guy). But when I heard it...something clicked. I got the album and realized for the first time that music was more than background noise. I won't say it "spoke" to my 11-year old self, but it was certainly the first album I truly loved on my own.

It still a great record with some fantastic songs..."You May Be Right", "Don't Ask Me Why" and the aforementioned "Still Rock & Roll", but even the non singles are pretty bitchin'.


To be fair, I got into Springsteen the way that most of non-New Jersey America did...with "Born In The USA", and on the strength of that record I had gotten several of Bruce's earlier work. I liked it...but wasn't really blown away. Then, in the fall of my Junior year in High School, the Live set was released...and then the lights went on and I was Born To Run.

It can be argued that all of Springsteen's best music is about alienation and being the outsider (ironically, the same could be said of Billy Joel). As I rolled into my junior year, I was all about feeling like the outsider. Now, pretty much everyone who has ever been 16 feels like this and in retrospect I didn't have it all that bad, but I did have a penchant for running outside the pack. I went to movies I wanted to see by myself if I couldn't find anyone to go with me, I didn't drink or party and I was looking for music that reflected how I felt....and boy howdy, did I find it.

From the opening acoustic version of "Thunder Road" recorded in a small club to the closing strains of "Jersey Girl" played before a packed house in Giants Stadium, this 3 record set put words and music to all of my teen angst. Bruce knew what I was going through...and even better, knew that eventually everything was gonna turn out all right. I didn't have a girlfriend or a cool car...but I had Bruce and the Band and that was enough.


By 1994, things personally were looking up. I had a job that I liked and was good at. I was happily married. The family was doing ok. But there was something missing. I found it wandering through a Turtles Record store.

There was a cd playing...the voice sounded vaguely like Springsteen, but when I asked the clerk who it was, he told me it was this singer/songwriter named Todd Snider. I listened to the whole album in the store, bought it and listened to it for about 2 months straight.

It was the track "I Spoke As A Child" that sealed the deal. Twenty Five is an interesting're definitely an adult, but there's still time to decide what kind of adult you're going to be. You can chase money and success or you can appreciate the good things that life has to offer without compromising who you are. In the song, Todd is paraphrasing the biblical passage "When I was a child, I spoke as a child", but then adds the poignant twist "I wish I could remember what I said." It was a wake up call to remember the good things and count your blessings.

Now, just in case you think Todd is all maudlin and weepy, he also sings about a band that refuses to play on "Talkin' Seattle Grunge Rock Blues" and claims that, despite his bad habits that he still believes he's an "Alright Guy".

I've gotten every album he's released since then and seen him in concert half a dozen times. He's like the main character from Kris Kristofferson's song "The Pilgrim":

He's a poet, he's a picker, he's a prophet, he's a pusher
He's a Pilgrim and a Preacher and a problem when he's stoned
He's a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction
Taking every wrong direction on his lonely way back home

So, there you have it...Three albums that changed my life. I have a lot more artists that I love, but these three were the ones that made a difference.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Blogging In The Rain

It's spitting rain...I'm sitting at the DBAP, getting wet & watching the Bulls.

I'm having a ball because I'm celebrating 20 years.with.Sainted Wife who started out as Sainted Girlfriend on this day in 1988.

The things you do for love!

Political Thoughts & Funnybook Stuff

So, the conventions have started with the Democrats first out of the gate. I will admit to only watching a little bit last night...I was actually peeping Season 4 of "The West Wing" (I find it ironic that, even with a candidate I can get behind, I'd rather watch fictional politicians than real ones)...but here are a few random observations from what I did see...and this was MSNBC's coverage, by the way.

*It was very nice of NBC to hire Tim Russert's son, but perhaps putting him on the air at one of the biggest events of the year wasn't such a good idea. Live TV is hard enough without the barely controlled chaos of a political convention.

*Bill Maher is, was and always will be a jackass.

*I want a convention highlight reel channel...just show me the major speeches so I don't have to hear the same filler commentary over and over and over and over until I want to slam my head into the wall.

*I saw that Cindy McCain was heading to Georgia to survey the civilian devastation brought on by the recent conflict. I'm not sure what Mrs. McCain's qualifications are...but I imagine we could get the same result if you sent just about anybody..."Stuff was blown up real bad & lots of people were hurt".

So...that's my completely shallow & nowhere near complete coverage of the 20 minutes or so of the Democratic National Convention I watched between "West Wing" episodes. More to come, if I don't take a nap or something.

To shift's a rather large funnybook week this week...lots of stuff coming out, so (a day early)'s what I'm getting...

Ambush Bug: Year None #2
Blue Beetle #30
Brave And The Bold HC Vol. 02: The Book Of Destiny
DC Universe: Last Will And Testament #1
Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge #2
Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1
Jack Of Fables #25
JLA Deluxe Edition HC Vol. 01
Justice Society Of America #18
Metal Men HC
Reign In Hell #2
Superman #679
Trinity #13

Mighty Avengers #17
New Avengers #44
Nova #16
Thunderbolts #123

Good reads a-plenty this week. I'm particularly looking forward to "DC Universe: Last Will & Testament", which marks Brad Meltzer's return to comics.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Odds & Ends

*So, I'm watching the tube on Friday & lo and behold, there's Gary Coleman. The actor formerly known as "Arnold" was telling me about this great finance company who will easily loan you the money you need. Easy terms, quick answers, blah blah blah. Gary said the average loan was $2,600...I've seen thousands of these ads, but it was the fine print that got my attention. The APR on the loan was 99.25%...I had to pause it & make sure I hadn't had an anyeurism & misread it. But there it was...99.25%. So, once you make the 42 monthly payments of $250 or so (assuming you don't miss one & have to surrender a kidney), you've payed over $9,100. "Whatyou Talkin' Bout Willis" indeed.

*If you missed the "John Adams" miniseries that ran on HBO, run & see it as soon as possible. I finished watching the dvd today. Paul Giamatti is brilliant...but then again, he usually is.

*Other stuff I watched this weekend and highly recommend:

Dan In Real Life (A very sweet & low-key performance by Steve Carrell)
12 Angry Men (An undisputed classic & should be shown in high school civics classes)
Definitely, Maybe (Very enjoyable)

*I can't recommend the John Cena movie "The Marine" (don't judge me...), but Robert Patrick looks like he had a ball playing the villain.

Another week is upon us. Another week closer to the new Fall TV season. Look for my picks soon.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Geoff Johns...The Fixer

I come to praise Geoff Johns...not to bury him.

My Funnybook Of The Week is Legion of Three Worlds #1 by Geoff Johns and George Perez.

It was a fun read that managed to be accessible to anyone who had no background with the 5o year history of The Legion of SuperHeroes, while still having plenty of new developments for longtime fans. George Perez's art was fantastic, as usual (seriously....has George Perez ever done bad work?).

Johns is doing what he does best...untangling convoluted continuity while telling a great story.

Geoff Johns may be the best fixer working in comics today. If there's a story or event that's screwed up one of your favorite characters, you should hope and pray that Johns will get his hands on them and make it all better.

Let's take a minute and look at his track record so far:
  • Justice Society of America-After the "Zero Hour" event, these characters were basically written off as ancient anachronisms who were best suited to being cannon fodder. Johns made them major players in the DC Universe and gave them the responsibility of "making better heroes".
  • Flash-A double coup here...Johns made not only Wally West more interesting, he also explored the motivations and back stories of his Rogue's Gallery, turning simple costumed crooks into flawed, human characters.
  • Green Lantern-After "Emerald Twilight", Hal Jordan was turned into a mass-murdering villain called Parralax who died and became the Spectre for a few years. Johns not only restored him to his former glory, he rebuilt the Green Lantern Corps, orchestrated the phenomenal "Sinestro Corps War", and revamped the entire Green Lantern mythology without killing Hal's replacement Kyle Rayner.
  • Hawkman-Speaking of convoluted continuity...was Hawkman (a) archaeologist Carter Hall, (b) Thanagarian policeman Katar Hol, (c) a fusion of the Hawk Gods of Thanagar or (d) all of the above? In the pages of "JSA", Johns took the threads of all of these possibilities and wove them together into a central character that still had a history, but wasn't strangled by it.
As if this wasn't enough, he has managed to do major and minor fixes in the Superman mythos with his run on Action Comics, giving us new looks at characters like the Toyman, Prankster, General Zod, the aforementioned Legion, and currently Brainiac.

With "Legion of Three Worlds", Johns will probably simplify the mess of Legion continuity (there have been 3 different versions of the Legion in the last 50 years...each one with a mix of histories and characters.). As a bonus, there's a good chance he'll be correcting one of the worst ideas of the past few years...the death of Bart Allen.

He'll also be reintroducing Barry Allen to the mainstream DC Universe with his "Flash:Rebirth" miniseries next year.

Geoff Johns isn't a flashy writer. He's not an insane genius like Alan Moore or Grant Morrison. He doesn't write self-referential talking heads like Brian Michael Bendis. He writes solid, enjoyable comics featuring characters he obviously loves.

Don't get me wrong...I want loopy, crazy stuff like the Batman Of Zur-En-Arrrh currently running around in Morisson's Gotham City. I want the big Michael Bay adventure of "Secret Invasion". I want the spy movie feel of Ed Brubaker's "Captain America".

But when all that's over...I want the stability and inspiration of Geoff Johns...who reminds me that the Brightest Day comes after the Blackest Night.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Funnybook Day...Hooray!!!

Wednesday is New Comics day...which is one of my favorite days of the week.

As a public service, here's what I'm getting this week....

Brave And The Bold #16
Final Crisis: Legion Of Three Worlds #1
Flash #243
Justice League Of America #24
Robin #177
Trinity #12

Captain America #41
Guardians Of Galaxy #4

If I remember, I'll have some mini-reviews some time in the next few days...along with why I loves me some comic books.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Making It Up As I Go Along

As many of you know, I'm an improviser. I perform at ComedyWorx in Raleigh and get a great deal of pleasure out of it. It's my creative outlet.

I do it because I love it and think I'm pretty decent at it, but never thought too deeply about it until a year or so ago. I invited the Minister of Music from my church & his wife to come see a show. They laughed and had a good time and told me I was funny, so all was right with the world.

About a week later, he did a sermon about using your gifts and how they are your ministry. I caught up with him afterwards and, half-jokingly asked, "So do you think that my jumping around in my pajamas onstage is a ministry?" He said, "Yes, I do."

This took my by surprise until I thought about it a little more. As a performer, I don't have any idea what the audience is bringing with them when they come to a show. They could be going through any number of tragedies, conflicts at work or home and stresses that I will never know about. What they're looking for is 90 minutes or so of relief from the outside world and a chance to sit back and laugh.

Every time I get on that stage, I have the opportunity to make a total stranger's life a little happier and lift their burdens. That's an awesome responsibility and I try and remember that
on the nights that I don't feel so funny.

So, yeah, goofing around onstage playing 5 Things or Forward/Reverse is a lot of fun. I've made some good friends doing it as well. But I always try and think about who I'm doing it for and why. It's not just for me...and as I should have learned a long time ago, the things I do for other people usually turn out better than the things I do for myself.

That's why I make it up as I go along.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Lists of Stuff I Dig...

So, because no one asked for are a few of the things that I dig....

  1. The Venture Brothers
  2. The Daily Show
  3. The Colbert Report
  4. Home Movies
  5. Burn Notice
  6. Heroes
  1. Convoy
  2. Ballad of The Green Berets
  3. Battle of New Orleans
  1. MASH
  2. Seinfeld
  3. The Dick Van Dyke Show
  4. The Andy Griffith Show (Black & White episodes only)
  5. WKRP in Cincinnatti
  1. John Wayne
  2. Lee Marvin
  3. Steve McQueen
  4. James Garner
  5. Bruce Campbell
That's all for now...more lists when I feel like making them.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Does Not Compute

In the interest of full disclosure, anyone reading this blog should know that it is composed on my trusty Blackberry. Why? Because I don't have a home computer.

When I tell people this they give me strange looks. They want to know why, in the Year of Our Lord 2008, I have yet to bring a magic computing box into my home. There is a very simple, obvious explanation.

I don't have $1,800...and I don't have a legal, non-debt causing way of getting $1,800.

Until now.

You see, according to Facebook & My Space (my prestigious research firm), I have approximately 200 friends. If each of my friends were to "donate" let's say $10, we could lick this "Chris Don't Have A Computer" in no time at all.

I could then improve the look of the blog, thereby increasing your enjoyment and providing a tangible return on your investment!

So what are you waiting for? Skip those 3 gallons of gas & do something nice for a worthy

Donations are non-tax deductible, but I'll say something nice about you when you die.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

More Random Stuff

*Regarding the John Edwards the very, very least, the woman in question was age-appropriate. It's not much, but still

*Phrases that are never good:

"We Need To Talk"

"Step Into My Office...Close The Door Behind You"

"I Don't Care...Do Whatever You Want"

"Do You Think She's Pretty?"

"You'll Thank Me Later"

*Anyone who knows me at all can attest to the fact that I am one of the laziest men on the planet. Which is why many were surprised to discover I had joined a gym. I've been asked why I made this decision.

The simple answer is that when normal, everyday activities like getting out of bed & brushing my teeth got me wheezing like an asthmatic cheetah, it was time for a change. I thought it might be a good idea not to be dead.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Random Thoughts

Just some random stuff bouncing around in my brain...

*Tommy Lee said in People Magazine that he helps the environment by "not showering". If I dated Pamela Anderson Lee Ritchie, I'd never stop disinfecting everything within a 20 mile radius. Can't these two be classified as walking dirty bombs just waiting to go off?

*Just read the collection of "Caged Angels", Warren Ellis'Thunderbolts story. Simply awesome...funny and scary and sad. Funnybook awesomeness...gotta love it.

*Bummer for me...the new Todd Snider CD "Peace Queer" was moved from being released next week to October 19.

*I'm performing in 3 shows at ComedyWorx this weekend...which is awesome!

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

So, Friday morning and already I'm faced with an ethical dilemma.

I have to decide whether to get off my butt & go to the gym (which I don't totally hate) OR remain on my butt and watch a week's worth of Daily Shows, Colbert Reports & Home Movies (the Adult Swim show not actual, you know, home movies) and then maybe go to the movies & then to improv.

I have this backlog due to Olympic coverage that I am sitting through 'cause Sainted Wife hinted strongly that she would appreciate seeing (translation "We're watching them and that's that."). Full disclosure...long ago I realized that one person or team would always be faster/stronger/more bendy than another & all of them would be better than me, so I never became immersed in sports. relax or exercise...what to do, what to do? I know...I'll write about it!

Problem solved!

OK...I'll go to the a few minutes.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Mission Statement

So, just to put to rest any lingering questions about the direction of my little ramblings here...

*This blog will not be a look into the personal pain of a frustrated artist...primarily because I am not a 15 year old girl

*All opinions presented are mine alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of my spouse, family, friends, the state of North Carolina, the Southern Baptist Church, ComedyWorx or any other group I'm associated with.

*I like what I like because I like it. I dislike what I dislike because I dislike it. I'm indifferent to what I'm indifferent to because it doesn't interest me. Persuasive arguments might make me reevaluate my opinion or maybe not.

*If I trash something you's not personal. We just have different tastes/opinions/worldviews.

*I reserve the right to be incosistent, reactionary or just plain boring some days.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Day One

This is the beginning of a brand new adventure. A real-life, honest-to-goodness,21st Century blog! I figured since everyone else in the free world was relating the minutiae of their daily lives...well, why shouldn't I get in on the fun?

"Why should I waste my time reading this?"

Good question...I hope to be entertaining, but I can't promise anything. Like everyday life, some days will be better than others.

"What are you gonna write about?"

Another good question...mostly stuff I'm passionate about (comics, improv, movies, music, tv), stuff that annoys me (way too numerous to mention right now) and maybe my boring life.

Stick should be interesting.