Monday, August 6, 2007

Much better now, thanks

So hey, I took a week off. It was Sunday, I guess--we'd been busy all weekend, running around buying shit that we needed (plus a Philadelphia Eagles cap--it's almost time!) and going to see Ratatouille (short review: very pretty, fairly good fun, but what was up with that sour grapes "criticism is ultimately meaningless in the face of any attempt at producing art" ending?). When I finally finished all this, I sat down to look at the blogosphere and realized, "Oh shit--this weekend was the San Diego convention. Now I'll need to spend another two hours just getting caught up. And that's just for the news--there's also the commentary on the news. Let's see what [name redacted] has to say. Oh, that's predictable, not very funny, and, frankly, a little depressing. Why do I bother with his/her blog anyway? Has this blog actually gotten worse since I started this blog? Have other blogs declined as well? Maybe I should go play Resident Evil 4 (Wii version) or the new Guitar Hero or something."

So I took a week off--not just from writing on this blog, but from reading any and all comics news (with one exception--I checked out Jog's shipping-this-week post). Here's the condensed version of what I would have normally wrote last week:

1. 90s Part Five: I started reading comics again, after I realized that I could just special order things from my local store that they were generally too chicken to buy for the shelf. (EDIT: This might be a bit uncharitable; I'll elaborate later.) Then they started buying these sorts of comics for the shelf, knowing that I probably would buy them. And I did, until I marched off to the land of eternal adolescence known as graduate school. Then I started reading comics again a few years ago--but that's the 00s, not the 90s. (I might flesh this out later this week.)

2. Multiple Warheads was very good. I have no idea what the online critical response has been (this statement also applies to the proceeding two items), but one might describe it as something like Grant Morrison and Victor Moscoso collaborating on a comic to be serialized in 2000 AD, which has a new editor who commissioned the strip as part of his hazy plan to take the magazine in a more manga-ish direction. I hate reviews that consist of nothing but comparisons to other comics, but that's kind of what I thought when I read it. Seriously, Morrison fans who are primarily fans of "batshit crazy ideas" Morrison should seek this out immediately.

3. I read a bit of the first issue of Comics Introspective, which is entirely devoted to Peter Bagge. There's way, way too much of the interviewer in there (really now, do we need his thoughts on when the Smashing Pumpkins sold out? Is this some meta-joke, given that the Hate aesthetic was kind of the antithesis of this sort of thing?), but Bagge fans will definitely want to buy it for the copious illustrations (much (most?) of it previously unpublished). From what I recall of Comic Book Artist, I don't think its Bagge-centered issue will be redundant at all. These seem like two very different approaches.

4. Left over from a few weeks ago: I seem to like The Order better than most. This looks to be an examination of how superheroes would work in Los Angeles (Fraction quoted Mike Davis, for Chrissakes!), which seems like a fairly promising premise. I don't expect an X-Statix/X-Force rehash here--Fraction's too smart for that. I think he's more interested in exploring the idea of heroism in the Hollywood/LA milieu--the recovering alcoholic character is going to be emblematic of that approach, I suspect. Also, Barry Kitson's art has never looked better, and I'm not really a Kitson fan.

5. I bought a KitchenAid stand mixer for the incredibly low price of $65. I used it in two applications this weekend. (1) Cookies: I can make cookies with our hand mixer (a hand-me-down from my wife's deceased grandmother), but this was much faster and much, much, much cleaner. It also seemed to distribute the sugar a little better, making the cookies (peanut butter, FWIW) a bit crisper than normal. (2) Focaccia bread: I'd never tried to make focaccia at home before, but I needed a quick recipe that would allow me to test the dough hook. This turned out very well--I'm convinced the stand mixer kneads dough better than my bread machine. Here is the recipe, if anyone is interested. My advice: go easy on the salt for the topping, do use corn meal to dust the bottom (file that under "duh"), and be prepared for a bake time more along the lines of 20-25 minutes. It's a nice recipe, I think.

I'd obviously like to use the mixer to make a cake, but my wife doesn't like cake. Yes--my wife does not like cake, especially chocolate cake. Yes--especially chocolate cake. It seems wrong to me too. But she's going out of town in about a week, so maybe I'll do some cake-baking then. Maybe I'll even try that avocado frosting Alton Brown made on that one episode of Good Eats--my wife is allergic to avocados, so it'll be like double forbidden food or something.

6. Greg Burgas, did you ask that question at the Dark Horse panel? Let me know.

...And that's really it. There are probably other debates raging in blogs out there that I haven't been reading, but I don't know about them yet. The only thing I've read today was Blogarama (Chris Mautner's new column--good idea), and that just today's posts and Graeme McMillan's week in review. So if I'm a little late in responding to a stale controversy, please remember that I spent last week shooting zombies and testing expensive kitchen equipment.


Kevin Melrose said...

I loved Multiple Warheads (and Graham's King City as well). From what I've seen thus far, online response has been favorable.

Greg said...

Sorry, no. I didn't see any Dark Horse panels for the sole day I was at the Con, so I didn't get the chance. Alas. I let you down!!!!

Katherine said...

Ditto on Multiple Warheads, and as Kevin says, if you liked it you should definitely check out King City, which is very similar in style and tone. I was kind of surprised (and cheered) to see something so quirky and offbeat coming from Tokyopop; it seems much more of an Oni Press type of project. Good for them for taking the chance: King City is delightful.

Jeff Rients said...

A friend put his copy of The Order in front of me and I was pleasantly surprised.

Chris Mautner said...

Thanks for the compliments on the column. I hope I can live up to your high expectations.

I got my wife a KitchenAid mixer a few years ago as a birthday present. Those things are quite handy aren't they? Though we've never tried to make Foccacia bread with it.

How do you like the Wii version of RE4?

Dick Hyacinth said...

Focaccia is actually much easier than regular bread--it only takes a fraction of the time to knead and bake. And it's really cheap to make, depending on how elaborate you want to be with the toppings.

RE4 was my favorite game from the 128 bit generation, just as RE2 was my favorite 32/64 bit game. I'm sort of a spazz with shooters (and most other things in life), so I'm finding it much, much easier on the Wii. I kind of wonder if the Wii will usher in a new type of game, somewhere between a FPS and a light gun type game. Or maybe it will just bring rail shooters back into vogue--I thought those levels of Raving Rabids were really, really fun.

Alex! said...

"...what was up with that sour grapes "criticism is ultimately meaningless in the face of any attempt at producing art" ending?"

I didn't get that at all... I thought the ending was all about the importance of GOOD criticism. The critic had forgotten to review the food, and had made everything a personal vendetta.

I mean, the whole movie built up to pleasing the critic, since he had the palate to Truly appreciate the food...

Dan Coyle said...

I thought it was extraordinarily petty and really quite sad for a guy whose last two films were the most acclaimed of the past decade to create a character like Anton Ego.

Does Bird want to be like Kevin Smith?

Also, it's created a cult of Randian jackasses who think it's a remake of The Fountainhead because Ego is an Ellsworth Toohey figure for some reason. Ignoring the fact that Ego unlike Toohey gains some sort of redemption.

Dick Hyacinth said...

I thought the message about good criticism was greatly overshadowed by the points about bad criticism (which I took to be everything but "good" criticism). In particular, I thought Bird specifically said that the only truly valuable thing a critic does is trumpet new talents, which is an incredibly lame thing to say. Clearly the man is not a Lester Bangs fan.

What's more irritating is that Bird placed this message in a CHILDREN'S MOVIE, which seems especially devious. If there was any nuance in his position, what are the chances of a kid fully understanding it? It's like he was trying to turn a whole generation of children against critics. Which is ultra bizarre, given the points Dan makes.