Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Voter Suppression: Don't Let It Happen to You!

Okay, I'm getting serious about this topic of voter suppression. Frankly, it's scary as hell and YOU ought to be worried.


Because across the country, dozens of political appointees have the power to purge names from the voter rolls because they feel like it. They've learned from the infamous and despicable Katherine Harris (that miserable failure of a pol in Florida) who quashed the Gore recount, after managing to get an unknown but not-insignificant number of voters disqualified from voting.

This is election rigging. This is criminal behavior, folks, a violation of our bedrock principles.

Look for "Steal Back Your Vote," a comic book about voter suppression and how you can fight it. Also, visit my friend Martin Bosworth's excellent blog post about this very issue.

We like to think it can't happen here, but it can and it has. The most ruthless people at the top of the political pyramid do NOT want to lose their gold-plated positions, and they will hold onto power at your expense. They will lie and cheat and betray you... so don't be blind, don't think it can't happen to you.

Be smart, be prepared, and be ready to fight for your rights as a voter.
And remember this number: 1-866-OUR-VOTE. That is the number to call if you see fraud at your polling place or if you are a victim of fraud yourself.

Key points:
1- Don't mail in your ballot (they can be "missed")
2- Vote early as possible, in person
3- Register, then register, then register (verify you're registered here)
4- Do not fill out a provisional ballot; they will NOT be counted, no matter what that sweet little old lady at the polling place tells you
5- Get involved and volunteer
6- Vote with friends (it's harder to turn away a group than a single isolated person)
7- It's not over till it's over; challenge fraud, abuse of process and violations wherever they occur and DO NOT GIVE UP

Don't be a victim. Don't let our political system be a victim. Fight the crime, expose the criminals.
Okay, post's over.

See also:
electoral fraud
booth capturing

Monday, October 20, 2008

Food Matters, Alexandria, VA

It's a hidden gem, just off Duke Street in Alexandria.
If you turn up into Cameron Station, which looks from the outside like a condo enclave, you'll find a fair number of businesses mixed into the residential set up of the community. Back past the traffic circle, you'll find Food Matters, a restaurant/store with a laid-back style and some great food.
Kat ordered a turkey-and-pesto sandwich, while I had the BLT. Both sandwiches were great, perfect for us after a long day of riding around and sampling food nearly everywhere we stopped. By the time we reached Food Matters, we were in the mood for something light but tasty, and we definitely got it.
If you have the inclination to try something new, visit Food Matters, 191 Somervelle St., Alexandria, VA 22304 (703) 461-3663‎.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Max Payne... WTF?

Is it me or does this movie look like a cut-rate Constantine?

I really thought the third-person shooter videogame was about a cop going on a rampage, boosted by painkillers and grabbing ammo wherever he could find it--sort of a "rogue cop" version of Grand Theft Auto. Sort of like Martin Riggs going all-out, y'know?

This looks a lot more like a supernatural "ordinary guy versus demons" kind of thing. Not sure if the story will be worth the time but the effects and sets and all look fantastic (to judge by the trailer).

Anyway, not sure if I'll have time in the next couple of weeks to do any movie-going, so this one might have to wait for Netflix.


Grading the Comics: Week of October 22

Hey gang!
Let's see what I have to look forward to this week...

  • FINAL CRISIS #4 (OF 7) - kind of weird that FC and SI are shipping on the same week, isn't it?
  • FINAL CRISIS SUBMIT #1 - guess this could be more of the Anti-Life mob...?
  • HULK #7 - more Rulk?
  • RUNAWAYS 3 #3 - okay, this is really Kat's book
  • SECRET INVASION #7 (OF 8) SI - see FC4 above
  • SUPERMAN NEW KRYPTON SPECIAL #1 - is this a "very special" issue of Superman? will we see a message, like "don't sunbathe too long, Kryptonians!"?
  • TRINITY #21 - Earth kind of sucks without the Big Three around
  • ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #127 - after bonding with the Venom symbiote, I'm guessing Peter Parker is ready to kick back and relax. I'm probably wrong.
  • WILDCATS #4 - oddly, I'm enjoying Wildcats more now than I have in a long time.
  • X-MEN LEGACY #217 - yay, Mike! Go team go!

And on Wednesday, we'll see if my snark is borne out.

Hasta la bye-bye!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's a Girl! (Or... it will be)

Kat and I had her third (and probably final) sonogram yesterday.
In late February or early March, we look forward to welcoming Brielle Grace Bittner into our family.
(Don't be alarmed, by the way--this first pic is our daughter yawning. She is NOT recreating Munch's "The Scream"! :) )

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Grading the Comics: Week of October 6, 2008

Hey folks,
Okay, time to grade the books! What did or didn't do it for me this week...?

  • ACTION COMICS #870 (pre-spoiled!) - you've probably heard the big spoiler, but apart from that final page, this issue featured a really cool throw-down between Superman and Brainiac, as well as Supergirl having a turning point moment of her own, plus Metropolis--in a bottle! Way cool. A
  • FINAL CRISIS REVELATIONS #3 - Radiant, the Spirit of Mercy, has some trouble dealing with Anti-Life maddened mobs in Gotham, as Crispus Allen tries to sort out some issues and the Question gets beat up by Batwoman. Probably the best street-level view of how this Crisis is affecting ordinary folks. And dig that mob scene outside the church! B+
  • GEN 13 #23 - a quintet of "what I'd be doing now if I wasn't with you guys," spotlighting each of the five kids. Kind of dull but probably a necessary deep breath before the series plunges into extreme action. C+
  • WILD CARDS: HARD CALL #4 - Daniel Abraham and Eric Battle keep the story rolling, as Croyd (the Sleeper) Crenson tries to find the guy who's framed him for murder. A neat murder mystery set in a decades-old superhero anthology world. B+
  • GREEN LANTERN #35 - more of "Secret Origins," with Hal standing up to the Guardians for the first (but not the last) time and Sinestro really getting serious depth. Plus snapshots of Black Hand and Hector "the Main Brain" Hammond. B
  • GREEN LANTERN CORPS #29 - a new Star Sapphire is born and Guy and Ice have a date (and a fight--what else is new?), while a batch of Lanterns search for a child-snatching member of the Sinestro Corps. Truly meh. C
  • MARVEL ZOMBIES 3 #1 - the Florida Initiative team is wiped out by zombies sneaking through from (you guessed it!) the "Marvel Zombieverse." Zombie Deadpool and his pack of flesh-hungry undead snack on newbies like Siege and Conquistador, while Jennifer Kale and Wundarr the Aquarian survive (barely). So Morbius sends Machine Man and Jocasta on a little mission... B
  • SECRET SIX #2 (missed #1... darn it) - missed this one too. No grade.
  • SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE VOL 2 #3 (for Kat) - Kat hasn't read it yet. No grade.
  • TRINITY #19 - more of "Earth without..." and we see how the world is worse off when Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman never existed. Both stories focus on folks who kinda-sorta remember the missing Trinity, but don't move the story very much at all. C
  • WALKING DEAD #53 - Rick and Tommy find some old friends and face some troubling realizations, along with an intrusion with an intriguing twist. A-

Agree? Disagree? The comment field is always open.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Movie Review: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

Having caught all of one commercial for this movie, I figured it would be a good "compromise" film for me and Kat. We have some overlap in our tastes and so this looked like a good bet to fit in that space.

We loved it.

Directed by Peter Sollett and written by Lorene Scafaria (who has a funny cameo), from the novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, the story follows a bass player named Nick (Michael Cera). He's been pining for his ex-girlfriend Tris (Alexis Dziena) for a month, making pitiful phone calls and mix CDs in a half-hearted attempt to win her back. He wants to bail on his band's gig in the city (NYC), but his two gay bandmates Thom (Aaron Yoo) and Dev (Rafi Gavron) have had enough; they pry him loose from his depression by dropping a rumor that the underground band "Where's Fluffy?" is supposed to play that night. Intrigued, Nick goes along.

The same rumor sparks New York plans for BFFs Norah (Kat Dennings) and Caroline (Ari Graynor)... who also happen to know Tris.

Converging in the bar where Nick's "queercore" band is playing, the hunt for this underground concert becomes a pretext for a long, loving look at the Big Apple, from the point of view of teens who are seeing the world through the eyes of love, jealousy, insecurity and hope. Do they make it to the show? Does one character go off the rails for an extended side journey, leading to a hilarious reunion? Well, can't really say.

Cera is great as Nick, playing the melancholy "nice guy" who deserves the girl but in real life rarely gets her. He has the soft-emo groove down, the shyness thing works for him-- but he needs to stretch some in his next roles. Not that he's bad by any means, but it would be a shame for this kid to get typecast so young. He handles his emotional rollercoaster ride well throughout, hitting the appropriate beats with deft skill; his chemistry with Dennings in particular is fantastic.

Dennings is likewise great as Norah. She plays off Cera's quiet doofiness, showing a young woman who's got serious self-doubt but is never weak. Norah is a good friend to Caroline, yet her best scene is in a quiet moment at the end when she and Cera trade philosophical snippets.

Ari Graynor steals the movie as Caroline, developing a persona who is lovable, sweet and completely out of control from one moment to the next. Her personal struggles are totally familiar to anyone who ever woke up somewhere and wondered "how the heck did I get here?" The movie comes alive in several of her scenes, particularly one wherein she reclaims a missing piece of gum.

Alexis Dziena was a complete surprise. Kat and I figured she was an honest-to-God teenager, since she looks decidedly younger than her co-stars... so imagine my surprise to find she's 24. Wow. She gives a terrific performance as Tris, the high school hottie who uses guys and gets away with it. Her scenes with Cera and Dennings have a snappy bite to them that show she has an A-game in her. (And is it just me, that she reminds me of Mila Kunis?)

Yoo and Gavron are fun as Nick's bandmates, realizing before he does what's happening and figuring out a way to help-- with some clever gifts at the right moment.

The movie was clearly shot in New York-- Kat and I were chuckling about how many landmarks we recognized (and how many of the restaurants we had visited)-- and as I said, it is a love letter to the city and to being a teenager. Really enjoyed it, so go see it.