Monday, April 20, 2015

Dumb things one regularly says during the course of a day

It’s a rainy, gloomy day here in Indianapolis. The first thing I did this morning when I noticed the rain was to imitate the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan and start belting out that blues classic, “The SKY is CRYIN’….!” Then, later in the morning a light bulb blew out in the living room ceiling and I had to get out a ladder to change the darned thing. Immediately upon switching the light back on to make sure the new bulb was working, the first thing I said was, “What light thru yonder window breaks! ‘Tis the east and Juliet is the sun!”

It’s finally occurred to me -- I say these things every frickin’ time it rains or I have to change a light bulb. Every time! Why do I say these things every time? The light bulb thing doesn’t even make sense. The bulb is not shining at me through a window, and I’m not even a huge Shakespeare fan. I mean, I like Shakespeare just fine, but Romeo and Juliet isn’t exactly at the top of my all-time-favorite-stories list.

So, I’ve been scared into paying attention to every little thing I say, and I’ve noticed other things. For example, I seem to say “Y’know” an awful lot. I think that’s a Midwestern USA thing: “Y’know, y’know, y’know…” No one’s ever corrected me on it, but that’s hardly surprising. I’m usually surrounded by fellow Midwesterners after all, plus there aren’t many people willing to admit that, hey, they DON’T know.

I also seem to use the word “actually” a lot, usually at the beginning of sentences: “Actually, we did run out of yogurt this weekend…”

WEIRD that one’s subconscious can latch onto making one repeat certain words and/or phrases during the course of a day. Is it an “autopilot” function? Laziness of expression? A reflection of a comfort zone of the brain? Merely a normal function/side effect of speech development? I wonder if someone’s done a study on this?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Totally digging Daredevil on Netflix

No real spoilers.

No offense to Mr. Sea’s godparents, who have had very long and impressive careers in the television industry, but I have not been a huge watcher of broadcast television for many, many years -- DECADES, in fact. I think the last regular prime time TV show I was addicted to was the original broadcast of Star Trek: The Next Generation(!). Most of the regular viewing I’ve had in the last few years have involved either old reruns (MeTV is wonderful), or various DC animated series, or the stuff Mighty Mite watches on PBS Kids (most of which is actually pretty entertaining for adults, too). I even ditched cable/satellite TV a few years ago when it finally dawned on me that I was paying an awful lot of money for something I hardly watched. I much prefer viewing movies and BBC stuff, new and old, on my own terms -- so for the last couple of years, I’ve been subscribing to Netflix’s streaming service and watching everything mostly through Amazon/Kindle and the PlayStation Network.

Netflix has been streaming its own series programming for a while, which I’ve basically dismissed with a shrug -- until now. As an ancient and certified comic book fangeek, how could I resist giving the new Daredevil series a shot?

My brother watched the entire series in a relentless Saturday night marathon. I’ve made it to episode 8 so far, and that’s saying something. I generally dump TV series pretty quickly if they don’t catch my interest in the first episode or two -- part of the reason why I’m not much of a series viewer. THIS series, though … Wow.

When we were kids, my brother collected mostly Marvel and I collected DC, and then we read each others’ collections. Worked out pretty well for us. So, most of my Daredevil knowledge dates from the 1970s and early ‘80s -- yes, including the Frank Miller era. Netflix’s Daredevil draws so heavily from that era that watching it, I almost feel like a teenager again, sitting on that awful orange shag carpeting in my brother’s bedroom and reading through his box of Daredevil comics.

Netflix’s Daredevil is gritty, gruesome, and glorious (plus no commercials -- yay!). It definitely earns its TV-MA rating -- NOT kid friendly AT ALL. However, given the circumstances in this series’ version of New York’s Hell’s Kitchen and the crime organizations involved, the violence and blood do not feel gratuitous. For the most part, the actors’ portrayals are spot-on. Charlie Cox is intense and deceptively low-key as Matt Murdock. The villains are deplorable characters, but fascinatingly complex and nuanced, especially Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin. And Elden Henson, bless his heart, not only nails Foggy Nelson’s behavior without making him too much of a jerk, he even looks like Foggy Nelson.

A huge, huge, HUGE thanks to the series creators for telling Daredevil’s origins mostly via backstory snippets throughout the episodes. I despise series that start off with one big fat origin story -- I just wanna get to the action! Okay, so Daredevil hasn’t appeared in costume yet, but … Seriously, most people watching the series already know Daredevil’s origins, so kudos to everyone involved for just skipping ahead to the good stuff.

Will this series attract any new Daredevil fans? Not sure. My guess is that many new viewers will be strongly reminded of Batman. Indeed, watching this series so far, I’ve been reminded of Nolan’s Dark Knight movies more than once. This is not a criticism -- quite the contrary. After all, the modern interpretations of both Batman and Daredevil have been heavily influenced by Frank Miller, so how can there not be similarities? Still, this TV Daredevil’s universe has been so well-fleshed-out in only a few episodes, I can’t imagine there won’t be any new fans.

Warner Bros., take note: When Disney first acquired Marvel, I was a bit worried. The gritty Marvel universe didn’t seem like a logical fit, and it appeared Disney merely wanted Marvel because they wanted to compete with Warner Bros.’s ownership of DC. Well, that may have been the case, but I don’t think Disney could have done a better job with Marvel right out of the starting gate. Indeed, they have surpassed Warner’s accomplishments with DC in live action, and I think it’s now obvious that Warner’s is scrambling to catch up, what with the Superman/Batman film, and the upcoming Wonder Woman film, et al. One very important thing that has given Disney an edge here is that Disney has not forgotten that all of these characters exist in the same universe. In fact, they capitalize on this fact, which is also a bit of a Marvel tradition -- These characters do not and never have existed in individual vacuums. Warner’s has a history of isolating the DC characters in their live-action films -- “Oh, no, you can’t have XYZ appearing in THIS film, because we’re thinking about putting him in ANOTHER film. So don’t even mention XYZ in THIS film.” In the modern Marvel films, by contrast, TV and movie, there’s a lot of cross-pollination, and characters freely refer to each other. (I like how in Daredevil, the characters tend to comment on the Avengers’ “incident.”) This not only keeps the Marvel film universe rich and well fleshed-out, it generates more interest among viewers so they’re more likely to watch all of these films. It’s fun, and it’s good business. I think Warner’s has finally figured this out, but we’ll see.

Which reminds me -- I would LOVE to see Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow appear in the Daredevil series, given the comic book history between the two characters. Here’s hoping!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Well, at least I'm writing again

It’s strange, frightening, and weirdly liberating to be unemployed. Being unemployed this time was not of my choosing. I did enjoy my job very much. I was incredibly lucky in that my job involved working at home, on a computer supplied by the publishing company, and I could more or less make my own hours. If Mighty Mite had to miss school for any reason, it wasn’t a big deal at all – I was already home, and most of the time I didn’t have to excuse myself from my job. It was IDEAL for a working mom.

However, publishing has always been a volatile and fickle business. As has happened many times throughout my career, the company was purchased (by a corporation named after a Greek god, ironically enough) and the new owners decided to “trim the fat.” Whenever something like this happens, departments responsible for things like quality control are usually to first the go -- because they’re responsible for things that are generally impossible to track in budget and balance sheets. That’s what happened to me.

It hasn’t been all bad. After all, I did try to escape the publishing industry once before. We’re lucky in that Mr. Sea loves his job and makes enough money to cover bills and living expenses, though I’d be lying if I said we didn’t miss the cash I’d been bringing in. At least now there’s always someone home to take care of emergencies, which is a VERY good thing. Best of all, I finally have time to do little things like painting the house and, at long last, WRITING.

It’s been nearly a decade since Herald was first published. I do have many more books in the works (so far consisting of notes and notes and more notes ...), and I’ve been sitting on the half-finished followup to Herald for quite some time. Since the beginning of the year, though, I’ve been writing like crazy, and I’m confident that the followup (it’s not really a sequel) to Herald will be published before the end of this year. I don’t want to make promises, though. Don’t want to jinx myself.

The best thing about writing is that it’s still work and it’s still at home. So, I guess I really am employed, at least in a way.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

55 Questions, 2015 -- Five Years Later

It's weird how age really does make time seem to go by faster. Perhaps it's because as we age, we get used to certain things happening on a regular basis, so they all kind of start blurring together …? Also, I think that as we get older and gain more experience and exposure to a wide variety of things, it becomes more difficult to surprise us – so, fewer incidents really stand out for us. I must admit, as an older parent with a kid in grade school, it’s rather nice to not be fazed by half the things that Mighty Mite does – or by half the things that Mr. Sea does, come to think of it.

Anyway, I haven’t blogged in ages, and it’s been five years since my last inane personal questionnaire. For the purpose of self-inventory, I think I should fill out one of these things now, just to see if anything has changed. Here goes:

1. What time did you get up this morning?
6:00. Perfect example of something that happens on a regular basis, day after day, year after year ...

2. Diamonds or pearls?
Still amethysts – and really well-carved intaglios. I have an intaglio of Athena carved in amethyst. GORGEOUS.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Big Hero Six with Mighty Mite. I used to love going to the movies on opening days, but now I’d rather stay home and wait for them to show up for downloading on Amazon or the PSN – or even wait for Netflix. The sense of urgency seems to be gone. Either that or I've seen so many movies that they just aren’t very exciting anymore. Ah, the curse of the jaded old fogey! To think I once thought of being a film critic. Thank goodness THAT didn't happen.

4. What is your favorite TV show?
I’ve been a Doctor Who fan since the Tom Baker days, and I also enjoy Sherlock, but via Netflix. Really, the only broadcast television I watch on a regular basis anymore is whatever Mighty Mite is watching, usually on PBS. (Let’s hear it for Wild Kratts and Odd Squad!) Also, it’s really hard to beat MeTV’s SciFi Saturday Nights. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, (classic) Star Trek, and then Svengoolie? That HAS to be one of the greatest broadcast TV lineups of all time.

5. What do you usually have for breakfast?
A cup of coffee and a fistful of vitamins -- and maybe a bagel before lunchtime.

6. What is your favorite Pixar character?
Anton Ego from Ratatouille.

7. What food do you dislike?
Mostly fish -- the exception being a very well-made blackened grouper sandwich.

8. What is your favorite album at the moment?
deadmau5, while(1<2).

9. What kind of car do you drive?
Still driving Black Beauty, my black Dodge Caliber. Hey, she's paid for!

10. Favorite sandwich?
A really good Reuben.

11. What characteristic do you despise?
Still abusive behavior -- physical, vocal or virtual.

12. Favorite item of clothing?
Uhhhh ... Don't really have one at the moment. That is, I don't have a FAVORITE item of clothing. I do have plenty of clothing!

13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?
London in the middle of winter.

14. Favorite brand of clothing?
Still don’t have one.

15. Where would you retire to?
I still love Indianapolis. I will never leave it.

16. What was your most memorable birthday?
Still the infamous Bambi birthday. Turning 50 really wasn't a big deal.

17. Favorite sport to watch?
Still Colts football and the Indianapolis 500.

18. Favorite weather?
Either early-to-mid spring or early-to-mid fall weather -- a light wind right before the temperature starts to get warm or starts to get cold. I'd be happy with 65 degrees F. year-round, but without sacrificing snow or thunderstorms.

19. Favorite painting?
Botticelli's The Birth of Venus.

20. When is your birthday?
Still New Year’s Eve!

21. Are you a morning person or a night person?
Sort of a mid-morning person.

22. What is your shoe size?
Still 8-1/2. I understand shoe sizes can change as you age.

23. Pets?
Still have my crazy Shiba Inu, plus a goldfish named Bubbles. I am DONE with cichlids and other tropical fish.

24. Any new and exciting news you’d like to share with us?
Er, nothing really exciting. I am unemployed again, thanks to my company being bought out and my division being closed, which happens to publishing companies all the time. There are two things I can do about it -- I can LOOK, and I can WRITE.

25. What do you want to do when you grow up?
Finish writing and publishing more books.

26. How are you today?
Fine! Healthier than I've been in years -- no more colds! A little gloomy today because it's raining; otherwise, just fine.

27. What is your favorite candy?
Chocolate mint truffles from Shakolad. Mmmmmm ...

28. What is your favorite flower?
Cherry blossoms.

29. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to?
Nothing at the moment. Don't have any specific plans, which is a luxury of sorts.

30. What's your full name?
Still anonymous, thank you.

31. What are you listening to right now?
Listening to my dog snore!

32. What was the last thing you ate?
A hard-boiled egg.

33. Do you wish on stars?
Yes, still -- when I get to see them.

34. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

35. How is the weather right now?
AGAIN rainy. Gray. Gloomy. Cold.

36. What is your natural hair color?
Still brown! I only have two gray hairs and they're BOTH on my right eyebrow. Weird.

37. Favorite soft drink?
Diet Sierra Mist.

38. Favorite restaurant?
Still Smee’s Place, Indianapolis. Even still have the same waitress!

39. Favorite color of nail polish?
#160 Mauve It, Sally Hansen Insta-Dri. It's all Mighty Mite's fault.

40. What was your favorite drink as a child?
Root beer!

41. Something you’ve taken from a spouse/friend/significant other that you really should return?
Mr. Sea’s flash drive.

42. Hugs or kisses?
Hugs are for everyone.

43. Chocolate or Vanilla?

44. Coffee or tea?
Jasmine tea.

45. Favorite culinary guilty pleasure?
Cheese straws!

46. When was the last time you cried?
When I watched Alfonso Cuaron’s A Little Princess with Mighty Mite the other night.

47. What is under your bed?
Nothing, but there'll probably be a dismantled DeLonghi heater stored under there soon.

48. What did you do last night?
Went to bed early after reading a ton of notes on Antoninus Liberalis.

49. What are you afraid of?
Anything bad happening to Mr. Sea or Mighty Mite.

50. Favorite video game?
Recently? Dragon Age: Inquisition. Of all time? It's a tie between Skyrim and the old, original Atari Adventure game. I think Adventure must have been the very first "sword-and-board" video game ...? I still play DC Universe Online occasionally. I wish they would do away with the “grind” factor. I’ve played Marvel Heroes, too. Great game, but I had to delete it because it was hogging WAY too much space on my computer. Wish they’d make it available via PlayStation.

51. How many keys on your key ring?
Down to one key ring and 14 keys!

52. How many years at your current job?
Currently and magnificently unemployed.

53. Favorite day of the week?
Weirdly enough, Monday.

54. How many towns have you lived in?
Still only four: Indianapolis, Indiana; Fishers, Indiana; Bloomington, Indiana (college); and (sorta) Dunedin, Florida.

55. Do you make friends easily?
Depends on where I am and what mood I'm in!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Daddy/Daughter Halloween, 2013

Ah, nothing like family togetherness on Halloween. Mighty Mite is age 5 in this photo. I'm not allowed to give out Mr. Sea's age.

Only Mighty Mite would give Princess Leia pink boots.

Dunno yet what we're going to do for Halloween this year. So far, Mighty Mite wants to dress like Merida from the movie Brave and have me follow her around dressed like a bear. Not sure I want to go along with that idea.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Before anyone asks, the costumes were strictly Mighty Mite's idea. That's m'girl!

Hope everyone is well! Everything is fine here -- and I'm still working my tail off. Have a great Halloween, everyone!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mighty Mite, the Pop-Culture Nightmare

THIS is what Mighty Mite decided she wanted to wear to school this morning:

Beatles Yellow Submarine t-shirt, Captain America mask, Batman cape, Hulk hands. She was a walking pop-culture nightmare. OF COURSE, I had to take a picture. I asked her who she was dressed as, and she said, very proudly, "I'm Captain Cha-Cha!"

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Captain Cha-Cha.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Green Lantern video game: God of War, Green Lantern style!

Let's face it – video games that are movie tie-ins usually stink. They almost always have poor graphics and they have gameplay that's either way too easy or impossibly hard, but never anything in between – AND they can generally be counted on to be hopelessly bound, creatively, by the movie they're based on. It also doesn't seem to matter if the original movie was a good one or a bad one – the game can generally be counted on to be bad. (Though Pixar films are visually state-of-the-art, there's yet to be a Pixar video game tie-in that looks [or plays] even half as good. The Harry Potter games started off promising and then became progressively worse in quality as the movie series grew and matured. And the James Bond video games, much like the James Bond movies, are hit-and-miss quality-wise.)

In spite of this woefully poor record, I actually picked up a copy of the new game, Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters. I expected it to stink as much as any other movie tie-in. To my great surprise, though, this game is actually FUN.

Maybe it helps that the game's only obvious ties to the Green Lantern movie are skin deep. It DOES use Ryan Reynolds' voice and likeness for Hal, and there are a few design elements from the movie – but all similarities to the movie end there. If you're at all familiar with the popular video game God of War, that's what this game is – it's God of War, Green Lantern-style, and it's AWESOME.

In the game, of course, as Green Lantern, you can generate constructs – some of which, like the maces-and-chains, are incredibly cool and do a great deal of damage. (My personal favorite construct is the giant baseball bat – and Hal has surprisingly good form swinging that thing.) The graphics are even rather good quality, especially for a movie tie-in. Everything is all nice and glowy and pretty, as you would expect the Green Lantern universe to be.

It's not a perfect game, by any means, but it's very fun to play – I found it neither too easy nor too hard, and just challenging enough. There are three levels of play: Emerald Knight, Enforcer, and Poozer(!). You begin with a few basic constructs and then can form much more elaborate constructs as you gain experience. The game also follows a plot that's very faithful to the Green Lantern universe: Hal, Sinestro, and Kilowog are on Oa. Hal has been a Green Lantern only for a little while, and the three Lanterns are making funeral preparations for Abin Sur. Suddenly, the Manhunter robots attack. The Guardians tell the Lanterns to (more or less), “GO GET 'EM, BOYS,” and the game is on!

The battle begins on Oa, moves to Zamaron, and then movies to Biot (the Manhunter homeworld) before moving back to Oa. The main protagonist is Hal, and in one-player mode you're stuck with being Hal. In 2-player mode, though, the second player gets to be Sinestro, and there are some very nifty attacks that Hal and Sinestro can orchestrate together. (I'm very fond of the Baseball maneuver, shown in the following image.) And while you don't get to play as Kilowog, you do get to fight alongside him a bit – and rescue him from the Manhunters. The other Lanterns really don't put in an appearance, but the Zamarons certainly do!

The main villain isn't one that's a huge surprise for regular GL readers, but the game creators did a good job of setting up the main bad guy – and the final battle. Along the way, there are plenty of bad guys, and plenty of big (Boss) battles. The way to get through the really tough battles is to come up with the right combination of constructs (Sword? Turret gun? Battle armor? Giant hammer...?) that's the most effective against specific foes. I'm not used to having to use shields when playing first-person fighting games, but I definitely had to use them in a couple of battles here.

And, believe it or not, the Zamarons are a pain in the #%$# to fight.

A few minor gripes:

- I think I'm too used to playing DC Universe Online, because I kind of resented the fact that my freedom of movement was restricted to what this game wanted me to do – but I guess that's normal for a game like this.

- The cut scenes are rather good, but there doesn't seem to be any way to skip past them. That became very annoying whenever I ran into a Boss that kept "killing" me, and I ended up having to re-watch the same friggin' cut scene over and over and over …

- Ryan Reynolds is GOOD as Hal, but I got kind of tired of him saying “What the hell” all the time. I blame the script.

- There are some flying missions, and the controls for those are a WEE bit too sensitive. It helps a lot, though, to build up Hal's ring power so that it surges. This encases Hal in a fighter jet, complete with heat-seeking missiles!

All in all, though – FUN game! Better than a movie tie-in game deserves to be, really.

There's one small, inspired detail in the game that I absolutely love. It's a precious, precious detail that's NOT in the movie. I'm not even sure it's ever, even been explored in the comics: In the game, Hal's ring talks – just like it does in the comics. The VOICE of Hal's ring is a WOMAN's voice. A very NICE and SEXY-sounding woman's voice. I LOVE that detail. It's so perfect, and goes a long way toward explaining a LOT about Hal's relationship with his ring.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Green Lantern movie review: By GL fans for certain GL fans

SPOILERS ahead: This movie was definitely influenced by a very specific GL fan – namely, longtime GL writer Geoff Johns, who is listed as a co-producer. The movie has his fingerprints all over it. Heck, even most of Kilowog's lines are straight out of Johns' Secret Origin story.

That said – I loved the movie. I really didn't expect to love it, but I was pleasantly surprised. So (I think) was most of the audience I was sitting with. I only read Roger Ebert's review prior to going to see the movie, because he and I agree more often than not on movies. He thought the movie was reasonably entertaining, so I figured it was worth my time and money. Hey, it's the Green Lantern universe, which is one of the most interesting universes in super-hero comics. That alone makes the movie worth at least a look-see.

Mr. Sea and I saw the movie Friday night at Trader's Point here in Indy. We sat in on the 2D version, and the theater was PACKED. Best of all, it was packed with people who were mostly wearing GL t-shirts, so I know we were in gloriously geeky company. As a whole, the audience seemed to really enjoy the movie. They laughed, and they CHEERED and CLAPPED. It's been a while since I sat in a theater with an audience that was having so much fun.

I also thought the movie was surprisingly kid-friendly, for a PG-13 film. There are some very slight hints at sexuality that would go over most kids' heads, and the villains can be a little scary, but I wouldn't hesitate to let Mighty Mite watch this movie. She loves action movies and super-heroes, and I think this would be a fun movie for her. GL fans expecting the blood and gore of the GL Corps comic would be VERY disappointed, though. GL fans expecting to see Secret Origin word for word are also going to be disappointed.

MANY longtime GL plot details and traditions have been changed for the movie, but they didn't bother me in the slightest – and I've been a Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) fan for 40 years. It's a MOVIE, not the comics. Quality-wise, it's not Dark Knight or Spider-Man 2 (it does drag in a couple of spots, and some of the editing is choppy), but I thought it was at least as good as the very first X-men movie.

Ryan Reynolds is FUN as Hal and gets some good lines ("By the power of Greyskull!"), and Blake Lively is a much better Carol Ferris than I thought she'd be. Bless her heart, she actually gets to do the ONE THING that I always wanted to see in the comics, because it's something I've always suspected of Carol (though for YEARS in the comics, Carol didn't let on about this AT ALL): In the movie, she recognizes Hal as Green Lantern ALMOST IMMEDIATELY. Best of all, she gives him HELL about his lame attempts to hide his identity (“I've seen you NAKED!”). It's beautiful – and very funny.

Actually, I thought it was a very funny film in general, especially for Hal Jordan fans. Let's face it -- Hal Jordan, the comic book character, is rather dull, and though Hal IS very heroic, he's also an arrogant jerk. Half the fun of being a Hal Jordan comic book fan is watching how his much-more-interesting supporting cast REACTS to the fact that he's such an arrogant, yet heroic, jerk. The movie is no different -- the other characters, including Hal's friends and family, give him hell every chance they get, and Ryan Reynolds does a good job of playing straight man to all of the verbal AND physical abuse hurled his way. It's hilarious, and very much in the spirit of the comics. I can understand how it would be off-putting to casual or more high-minded fans, though. (Just WHY is this a-hole a super-hero? Because the ring chose him. Sorry -- yer stuck with him.)

Tomar-Re and Sinestro are PERFECT, though this Sinestro comes across as so professional and noble, it's hard to picture him as the ruthless dictator that he becomes in the comics. A small scene halfway through the end credits, though, does point to impending corruption – and a good reason WHY Sinestro would become a villain.

There are LOTS of details that probably don't need to be in the movie -- except that they're there for certain GL fans. For example, Hal's brothers and nephew are in the film, in one scene. They don't need to be in the film -- it's a wasted scene. It's there only for people like ME -- "OMG, it's Jack and Jim! And Jack is giving Hal hell, as usual -- COOL!" The movie is FULL of throwaway stuff like that -- stuff that's probably completely lost on average viewers.

A few gripes: I've already mentioned that some of the scenes drag a bit, and some of the editing – especially when the movie switches back and forth between what's going on with Hal and Hector – is a bit choppy. AND it's yet another FRICKIN' super-hero origin story – I am SICK to DEATH of origin stories – but, oh well. There's also the obligatory hero-training scene – which really doesn't accomplish much in the way of training, but it's there to give Kilowog and Sinestro something to do. Also, some changes have been made to the villains Hector Hammond and Parallax that I don't really care for, but they make good sense for the movie. There is also a great deal of romance in the film (not sex, but ROMANCE) -- which viewers are either going to love or hate, depending on their level of interest in Hal's love life. All in all, though, I loved the movie, and it made for a good, entertaining night out.

The Captain America movie is next! Can't wait!

I just can't seem to get out of this business!

One of these days, I'm going to learn to never say “never.” Years ago, I said I was never gonna get married. I didn't WANT to be married, or so I thought. Then I met Mr. Sea, and … well, so much for the “never gonna get married” idea.

I once said I never wanted to be an editor – and then, for the next 20+ years, I ended up working as a book editor for various publishing companies. So much for my original plan of working in advertising.

I once said I never wanted to have kids. I was ADAMANT about it – I was never gonna have kids – and then Mighty Mite came into my life. I wouldn't trade the little bugger for ANYTHING.

I once said I never wanted to be an author – and then I ended up writing and publishing a novel.

THEN, last July (geez, has it really been almost a year?) I left my publishing job and told myself I was never going back into publishing. NEVER.

Once again, the gods looked down, pointed at me, and said, “Yeah, that's what YOU think! HaHAhahahahaHAhahahahaaaaaaa!” Sigh.

Believe it or not, Indianapolis is a big publishing town. True, it's mostly nonfiction publishing, which isn't terribly glamorous – but it can still make for a fun work environment, if you get to work with the right people. The really cool thing is, with the exception of a handful of editors who are isolationists, most Indy book editors know each other and have worked with each other at one time or another (leading editors to joke about what an incestuous business publishing is). I've found that staying in touch with fellow editors I've enjoyed working with definitely pays off.

At the end of February, an old boss of mine – one of the best bosses I've ever had – contacted me out of the blue and offered me a job at one of the biggest publishing companies in the world. Years ago, I told myself that if I EVER had a chance to work with this particular boss again, I would go for it. Figures she would do this to me, darn it. So, once again, I'm working in publishing, despite my best attempt to escape the industry. The twist is, though I do now have an office at one of the most prestigious locations in Indianapolis, I can make my own hours and do most of my work from home. I've NEVER had that kind of freedom before. It's NICE – and I recognize that I'm extraordinarily lucky to be in this position. I'm not gonna waste it.

So, that' s why I haven't been blogging – I'm working again, and when I'm not doing my paying job, I'm working on my house. One of the drawbacks of working from home is, while I'm busy doing my job, I'm also looking around my house and thinking things like, “DAMN, that wall needs repainting.” In other words, I've been working like a mad fiend of late. I'll probably continue working like a mad fiend, so blogging will continue to be sporadic at best.

In other news:

-- Mighty Mite is now THREE years old. THREE! Can you believe it? She's also a massive Beatles fan. Her favorite Beatle changes from day to day. It's always either John, George, or Ringo – but NEVER Paul. When naming off the Beatles, she always adds Paul to the lineup as an afterthought. Too funny.

-- Yes, yes -- I heard about DC's latest reboot, and I pretty much reacted to the whole thing with one big yawn. I mean, it's not like DC hasn't done this a zillion times before -- starting WAY back during the mid-1950s. (Yes, Barry Allen's original debut as the Flash was a REBOOT, folks.) Some of the changes will suck, and some won't. As long as they aren't messing with the main Green Lantern title, I really don't give a flying flip what DC does this time.

-- Like many DC Universe Online fans, I was kicked out of the environment when the PlayStation Network went down a couple of months ago thanks to those hackers. Yeah, well, whatever. It didn't stop me from using the PlayStation for its basic functions (music, Netflix, DVD and Blu-Ray viewing, DVD-ROM gameplay, Web surfing), and I'm finally caught up on some of the hardcopy games I've had sitting around. Everything's back online now, though, and I've been having a HECK of a great time playing the new Green Lantern video game. More on that in another post.

-- YES, I've seen the Green Lantern movie. It's not in the same class as The Dark Night or Spider-Man 2, but I LOVED it – and I've been a Green Lantern (and Hal Jordan) fan most of my life. Again, more on that in a later post.

Glad to see so many other comic book fans are still bloggin' right along!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Hunkering down for the "storm of the decade"

Indianapolis has been a pretty darned lucky city this winter, so far. We've had more snow than we usually get, but we haven't been socked with truly horrible winter, like other parts of the USA. However, it appears that our luck is about to change. There's a massive ice storm headed our way, and everyone is calling it the "storm of the decade." SO, I've been stacking firewood in the house, making sure plenty water, milk, bread, batteries, icemelt, candles, and flashlights are available, etc., etc. Our house doesn't usually lose power during storms, but I'm trying to be ready for anything.

Everyone stay safe out there!

Friday, January 21, 2011

DC Universe Online IS pretty darned addictive

I repeat -- I really didn't expect to like this game as much as I do. Yes, I did pick up the full PS3 version once the game was released -- and I think I've mostly been "living" in the DC Universe since then. It doesn't help that my brother and several friends ALSO have the game and we've been getting together online to go beat up bad guys -- or beat up good guys. Gosh darn it, I am HOOKED.

The game is still kinda glitchey and has been experiencing a few "growing pains," resulting in some downtime. So far, these are merely minor annoyances, and the game environment has been sailing right along without too much trouble, at least from a player perspective. I have to say, design-wise, this is one of the better MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online game) that I've seen. I recognize a lot of functional elements from other EA games, like the James Bond and Harry Potter games. Flying is still my favorite thing to do -- but, oh, the powers you can assign your characters are FUN.

Take Alligator, for example. Alligator is a lovely thing -- a villain I created. She's essentially a big female version of Killer Croc -- except she can turn into a pterodactyl. Now THAT's fun.

My favorite character so far, however, is a hero. I couldn't resist recreating my favorite public domain character from the Golden Age -- the Green Lama. He's been running around the DCUO Countdown world, and I've gotten him up to level 22 so far. My version looks a bit more blantantly superhero-ish than other versions (including even Alex Ross's interpretation), but I think he's still recognizable as the Green Lama.

Actually, for an obscure public domain character, the Green Lama has been a busy boy of late -- what with being an active superhero in Dynamite Comics' lineup , and starring in a pulp novel by Adam Lance Garcia. I haven't read that novel yet -- I really need to pick it up. For now, though, I'm gonna continue to have fun putting Jet through his paces in the DCU.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Superman's wardrobe is going up for auction

Here in the Indianapolis area is a man who owns a great deal of Superman live-action film memomorabilia. After trying unsuccessfully to showcase his collection in a local "superhero museum," Dane Nash has run into a bit of misfortune. Financial problems have forced him to liquidate his collection in a court-ordered auction, to be held January 22.

There are some impressive items in this collection, especially if you're a Superman fan. In particular, it includes Superman costumes going all the way back to George Reeves.

It's sad that the guy has to give these things up -- but if he's in financial dire straits, it's probably a good thing that he DOES have these items available, to help bail him out!

I wonder if this is the same man who used to own the Batboat from the old 1960s Batman TV show? It did used to be here in Indy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Oh, I DO love to fly!

I really didn't intend to get hooked on this game. I curse my brother every day, because if not for him, I wouldn't even OWN a PlayStation 3 (PS3). But, darn it, over the holidays, he downloaded the Beta version of DC Universe Online -- and I got hopelessly hooked. The Beta is down now -- it was pulled off the network the other night in preparation for the official finished game release, which is next Tuesday. YES, I went out and reserved a copy, so I can pick it up and install it on Tuesday. I miss the Beta, and must have the game -- which is probably EXACTLY what Sony, Warner Brothers, and DC hoped would happen to a great many gamers. CURSE THEM!

Oh, but it's FUN. The premise is this, and it's an old JLA chestnut with a twist: Lex Luthor drops in from the future to inform Supes, Bats, and Wondy that Brainiac took over the earth because all of the heroes and villains were too busy wiping each other out to stop him. SO, Luthor came to the past to warn everyone -- and also to infect the earth with Brainiac-created nano technology that enables ordinary folks from earth to become super-powered, so they can join in the fight. THAT's where the players come in.

As a player, I got to create my own character, with my own powers, choose a mentor (Supes, Bats, or Wondy for heroes; Luthor, Joker, or Circe for villains), and go kick butt. I chose the hero side and Wonder Woman as my mentor -- and created a character based on my favorite ol' public domain GREEN hero (more on that some other time). THEN I got to run around. OH, it was fun. My character can fly, and flying is wonderful. I hadn't expected it to be as much fun as it is. I could have been a speedster, or an acrobat -- but, really, nothing beats flying.

Game environments so far are split between fully-realized versions of Gotham and Metropolis. It's downright surreal to be able to run around these two cities and go pretty much wherever I want. My character was based in Metropolis, so that's where I did the most exploring. Some details still need to be hammered out by the game creators, but I had a heck of a lot of fun running around the city. Nabbed a few muggers, too!

There's too much to explain about this game, so I'm just going to touch on a few things I did and/or noticed. (Anyone who wants to know more can visit the game's official site at -->

- The JLA satellite is HUGE, but well worth exploring. The funniest thing I encountered early in the Beta launch was Supergirl hanging around in the Meta wing, dressed in a skankier-than-usual version of her costume, with bikini briefs in place of her skirt, and no cape. I went up to her to talk to her and she said, "Cool costume! Wonder if I should change mine? Maybe later." Several days later, I met up with her in the same place, and she was back to wearing her skirt and cape -- and looking a LOT less skanky. Too funny.

- The villains do have a Hall of Doom, but I didn't explore it too much.

- Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill DO voice Batman and the Joker. Hooray!

- Oracle provides remote assistance to hero players, and Calculator assists villain players. It's a really nice setup.

- Players can choose to engage in PVP (player-vs-player) mode or not. You don't HAVE to interact with other players, though it is encouraged. You can also form teams and what not. Teams can pool their resources and create their own online virtual group bank accounts and make group equipment purchases. (They can also host dance parties.)

- I got to team up with Zatanna to fight Felix Faust. It was FUN. I also got to take on ALL of the Titans at the same time, who had been possessed by Trigon. That WASN'T so fun. I got my butt kicked several times before I figured out how to stop 'em all.

- Players start off at level 1 and can progress all the way to level 30. I got up to Level 15 -- and STILL managed to get my butt kicked by Bane, who was a measely Level 10. Grrrrrr.

- Did I mention that I love flying? I love being able to fly away from a battle when I'm getting too close to getting knocked out, and then just hovering somewhere until I regain enough health to rejoin the battle. It's also so PEACEFUL to be able to fly high above the city, or the water, and just -- fly. There's something very, well, ZEN about it for lack of a better word. I just love it.

- The cities are full of kiosks containing tour information by Booster Gold, in the best Booster Gold fashion. The recordings are a hoot.

- Every player starts off in a Brainiac ship, where Brainiac is supposedly keeping captured humans to try to remove his nano technology from them. Every player "wakes up" on the ship and has to escape -- every single time a new character is created. It's kinda monotonous if you want to create a bunch of different characters (a hero AND a villain, say). EXCEPT, one time I was shocked to encounter Ambush Bug up there! Yes, Ambush Bug is present in the game, and he seems to pop up wherever and whenever he pleases.

- I DID encounter several Green Lanterns, including Hal. Actually, my encounter with Hal was kinda weird. I was exploring Metropolis and found the Daily Planet building, which had been "bottled" by Brainiac. Hal was there standing on the sidewalk and apparently just looking at the building. I walked up to him -- and if it's possible for a virtual gaming character to look startled, he came awfully darned close. He responded with a sort-of "welcome-aboard-and-thanks-for-fighting-the-good-fight" and then flew away. It was WEIRD.

- While exploring the Metropolis energy plant, I ran into a full-blown Sinestro Corps War. There were Green Lantern and Sinestro Corp members all over the place, beating the tar out of each other. They were all Level 22, so there was no WAY I was wading into THAT battle. However, a Sinestro Corps member came after me and I had no choice but to fight him off. I actually beat him! And then I immediately got the paint kicked out of me by a whole bunch of Sinestro Corps members who jumped me in retaliation. When I came to, there was a Green Lantern chick standing over me, offering to buy or sell equipment or fix anything of mine that was broken. I just took the opportunity to get outta Dodge, so to speak.

- I wasn't TOO surprised to see a LOT of Marvel fans running around, with Marvel-based creations. One player I talked to said, yes, he WAS a Marvel fan, but the game looked so cool that he just HAD to try it. He loved it and said he wished Marvel had something like it. I had to explain to him who Booster Gold and Oracle were. He was a bit shocked by the whole Barbara Gordon tale.

So, that's it. I'm HOOKED. I'm DOOMED. Soooooo DOOMED.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Holidays to everyone!

I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays, and WILL continue to enjoy the holidays! Yes, I've been back for a while -- Florida was FABULOUS, and Mighty Mite had a great time discovering sand and beaches for the first time in her life. We came home to snow and freezing temperatures. That's okay -- it's just a different kind of fun. Best of all, we had four new windows installed on the house last week, and the difference they make is impressive. The house seems SO much warmer now. Plus, the window installers deserve a round of applause for actually coming out in really lousy weather to get the windows done -- and all without complaining about it. What a great bunch of guys!

It does seem like we hit the ground running when we stepped off the plane, though. I don't know why this holiday season seems busier than in years past, but somehow it is! I've hardly had time to get online let alone address my blog, so my blog is officially on hiatus until at least after the holidays. So, everyone take care and be good, and Happy New Year to all!