-Does anyone know if Dark Horse's brick and mortar store (Things From Another World) offers discounts on their own material? I need to catch up on some Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service.
-On a similar note, any restaurants in Portland anyone would recommend? Like something near the big Powell's location? A good Indian restaurant would be especially nice.
-I don't want to read too much into it, but since Marc-Oliver Frisch pointed it out, I did think it was kind of strange to see Dan DiDio mention his 2009 budget in this Newsarama interview. (Which is apparently a new biweekly feature at Newsarama? Amazing what you miss when you don't read the Newsarama main site unless somebody specifically links to one of their articles, as was the case in this instance.) DiDio's talking about cover prices here--sounds like $3.99 is bound to be the going rate by the middle of next year--but it's not the sort of language I'm used to seeing in these hype and gripe sessions. Granted, I haven't read one of these things in a while.
I'm not so sure I'd go as far as Marc-Oliver and link budgetary concerns to the frankly baffling decision to have Tony Daniel write what appears to be a pivotal Batman story arc. But there's definitely an unsettling mix of regret and shilling in this interview. And it doesn't do anything to dispel the notion that DC is totally reliant on Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison right now. I would still think that it's in DC's best interest to try to poach one of Marvel's top tier writers--Brubaker, Bendis (probably not very likely), Loeb, or Millar being the top bang-for-your-buck types. I guess Warren Ellis could make a big splash as well, but I'm under the impression that his willingness to write for Marvel's intellectual properties isn't a courtesy he'd extend to DC. Something about a personal fondness for Quesada, maybe? Anyway, of this group one would think Loeb or Millar would be the best bet, except (a) I don't know the status of their contracts, and (b) I'm not so sure Mark Millar's future is in work-for-hire. At one time I would have guessed he would put aside other interestes to write Superman, but I really do think that he thinks he has a shot at writing a Superman screenplay instead.
EDIT: Or Jesus, what about Straczynski? Marc-Oliver keeps pointing out how weird it is to assign freaking Brave and the Bold to your highest profile new freelancer in years. Maybe he's too busy to write anything else?
-Haven't done predictions for a UFC card in a while. Not so much out of indifference as forgetfulness. But I'm remembering right now, so let's give it a shot:
Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar
A good matchup from a variety of angles: youth vs. experience, athleticism vs. technique, past vs. future, etc. And by "past vs. future," I mostly mean that Couture helped put the "mixed" in "mixed martial arts" by purusing a strategy that blended his strengths into a coherent game plan: use greco-roman base to pin opponent against cage, then use dirty boxing to win on points.*
Couture has deviated from this plan when it made sense, most recently in his monumental upset of Tim Sylvia last year. In that fight, Couture used his superior ground skills to keep Sylvia on his back, grinding his way to a comfortable win on the judge's score cards. That's not going to work on Saturday, because there's no way that Couture can keep the much larger and stronger Lesnar on his back. In fact, it's going to be Lesnar who will seek to put the fight on the ground, where he can work his way to a decision or a stoppage via ground-and-pound. Couture surely has the better BJJ, but it's probably not enough to negate Lesnar's advantages on the ground.
So: if the fight is primarily contested on the ground, it's Lesnar's win. If they're mostly pushed up against the cage all night, that's probably Couture's win. BUT, what if the fight is mostly standing at a distance? What then? Lesnar surely has more firepower, but Couture surely has the better technique. I'm going to pick Lesnar because I think the weight/strength advantage is too great for Couture to overcome, but I would never bet money against Couture. Actually, I never bet money at all because I'm a chicken.
*BTW, I was thinking about this the other night: Lesnar went into professional wrestling out of college because there was no money in MMA at the time. One would be inclined to say he did himself a disservice, since he thus lost his prime years to botched shooting star presses and all the other wackiness that comes with the WWF/E. OTOH, if he had started in MMA in 2000, he surely would have relied on his excellent wrestling to the exclusion of improving his skills in BJJ, boxing, muay thai, etc. That would have worked for a couple of years, but he probably would have been exposed against a Fedor Emilianenko, Josh Barnett, or Antonio Nogueira (he still may yet be exposed against Nogueira!) in fairly short order. So maybe it's better that he got into MMA in 2006, when it was imperative that he train all the other crucial disciplines as well.
Kenny Florian vs. Joe Stevenson
The only other fight of note on the card. I don't think Florian's fought a mauler like Stevenson since he took on Sean Sherk a few years ago. Florian lost that fight, but he's really improved his game since then. I think Stevenson is an excellent fighter, but he's not as good as Sherk. I like Florian here. Should be a good fight.
Amir Sadollah vs. Nick Catone
CANCELED! So it's going to be a while longer before we get to see the TUF 8 champion (and surely one of the few dudes from that show you'd want to spend more than 30 seconds talking to) for a while.
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Josh Hendricks
Don't know much about Hendricks (except that he's not Johny Hendricks, a much more interesting 170 lb. prospect with impeccable wrestling credentials). But it's hard to pick a guy who's lost to Travis Wiuff AND Sam Hoger, even if those fights were several years ago. Gotta go with Gonzaga, but it would be nice to find out that Hendricks has massively improved in recent years and is actually a legit HW contender.
Nate Quarry vs. Demian Maia
I guess I spoke too soon--I'm sort of interested in this fight. Not a big Quarry fan--he seems like a good guy, but I think the ceiling of his potential is Ultimate Fight Night-level gatekeeper. But since everyone in the crowd has also decided he's a good guy, we still see him on PPVs. I don't see how he beats Maia, unless his takedown defense is better than I imagined. Maia hasn't shown much standing, so Quarry could (and should) beat him there. But I'm assuming Maia can manage to get this to the ground. If not, he's not the potential MW contender UFC is dying for.
Dustin Hazelett vs. Tamdan McCrory
Oh wait, this is a pretty good fight too. And it's going to be on TV, since the Sadollah fight was canceled. Thanks, Amir! Hazelett is one of the fastest-rising talents in the welterweight division, and a personal favorite. McCrory is a good prospect, but probably not ready to beat the BJJ wiz Hazelett yet.
Jorge Gurgel vs. Aaron Riley
Aaron Riley still fights? Jose Gurgel still fights? Guys, this isn't an Ohio show--why is Gurgel on here? Don't care, no pick.
Jeremy Stephens vs. Rafael dos Anjos
Dos Anjos is on a nice win streak. Stephens is a guy who can beat someone like Cole Miller, but can't beat someone like Spencer Fisher. In these cases I try to make an optimistic pick, going for the fighter with the biggest upside. I think that's dos Anjos in this case.
Alvin Robinson vs. Mark Bocek
I like Alvin Robinson, and Bocek still hasn't done much in UFC.
Matt Brown vs. Ryan Thomas
Don't care, no pick