Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Highs and Lows of Last Week

From the 17th to the 22nd, there were some major highs and lows in the Bittnerverse.

On the 17th, we brought Brielle back home from a visit to NJ (sorry, friends--we had no time to visit; besides which, Kat and I were both mildly sick with colds). We checked in with a neighbor couple who also have a newborn daughter--we were working on doing a nanny-share with them--only to find that they were pulling out. They had made alternate arrangements. That left us without any help for Brielle... and we were going back to work the next day.

Not a good time at all. We patched together babysitters for the week (including the couple who'd backed out on us), but were in a jam: we literally had no plan to get us past the 25th (Memorial Day). So we started thinking and came up with some possibilities. We contacted one, a friend of ours, and it turned out she was willing to watch Brielle into the summer.

That was a huge relief.

On Tuesday, we had the news we'd been waiting for: there was a spot for Brielle in the day care in my building as of June 1.

Enormous relief.

We met with the day care staff on the 21st and realized (happily) we were all on the same page. I've started bringing supplies to put away for Brielle and she begins "transition week" this Monday.

It's really scary not knowing what you can or will do with your daughter. Interviewing strangers, looking for babysitters or in-home day care and having no idea what these people are like... it can be bad. Lucky for us we had a friend who could bridge us over this week or so, and that an angel for Brielle came through (her name's Agnes) and worked her magic to get Brielle into day care.

This is not the hardest or worst challenge we'll face as parents but it is a challenge. Now we just have to see about getting Brielle settled into a whole new environment...

I'll let you know how it goes.

Grading the Comics: Week of May 25, 2009

You're probably dying to know what's on my list this week, right?
Well, the suspense is over. Here's what I'm shopping for tomorrow (New Comics Day is pushed back one by Memorial Day--ah well):

  • AVENGERS INITIATIVE #24 - Humberto Ramos sure draws a mean Typhoid Mary!
  • GREEN LANTERN #41 - I'm guessing it's more Blackest Night, but that's just a guess.
  • JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #33 - Probably going to drop this one today. I'm just not feeling it any more.
  • RUNAWAYS 3 #10 - This is Kat's book.
  • SUPERMAN #688 - Oddly enough, this book is working out okay without Superman.
  • TRINITY #52 - And another weekly title comes to an end.
  • WILDCATS #11 - See Justice League of America.
  • X-MEN LEGACY #224 - I think this is the issue wherein we take leave of Professor X, isn't it?

All right, folks, I'll be back with reviews and notes and general snark after I've read 'em. I have a few things to write for SFRevu but I'll try to be good this week.


Deadliest Warrior

Hey folks,

A good friend turned us on to a show on Spike TV called "Deadliest Warrior." A bunch of you probably already know about or even follow the show but in case you don't, it is the bomb.

The premise is simple: two fighters from different backgrounds, cultures and so on are matched up, their lethality is evaluated, and a computer simulation is run 1000 times to determine who would win.

Match ups to date include Shaolin Monk vs. Maori warrior, William "Braveheart" Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu, Soviet Spetsnaz vs. Green Beret... you get the idea.

Kat and I were spellbound watching the first two matchups above last night. There's a team of three--a biomedical engineer, a computer programmer and a medical doctor--who work with experts on the combat styles and techniques of various groups. Each side is judged on its five most common or deadly weapons; the experts tend to talk a lot of trash to each other, which is really funny.

Spike has carved out a niche for itself with high testosterone shows that practically bleed macho--but this one is, like Kat said, "Mythbusters for the really violent."

Anyway, the season finale matchup is IRA vs. Taliban. We can't wait!

Rating: A+

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Grading the Comics: May 13, 2009

Okay, let's get back to work, shall we?
Here's what I'm aiming to pick up today (with some notations)...

  • ACTION COMICS #877 - Nightwing takes the badly injured Flamebird to the one safe haven he knows, then engages in a brawl with Ursa and the US military. Good fun all around. B
  • ALL-NEW SAVAGE SHE-HULK #2 - Thulkdra takes on Shulkie! Alas, didn't find a copy on shelf. No grade.
  • BOOSTER GOLD #20 - Where in Time is Booster? Apparently back in the 1950s. Not bad at all, really. B-
  • CAPTAIN BRITAIN & MI-13 #13 - Man, you thought Brian, Pete and their team got their butts kicked so far? You ain't seen nothin' yet. A
  • GREEN LANTERN CORPS #36 - Sodam Yat and Arisia on Daxam, while Sinestro gets to know his kid. Not as much as I might have hoped. C+
  • SECRET WARRIORS #4 - Nick Fury continues to be the consummate soldier, recruiting some old friends to his anti-Hydra cause, while the kids try and figure out what the good colonel is doing. B-
  • STORMWATCH PHD #21 - It's StormWatch vs. Night Tribes, with a cameo from WetWorks' Dane. Apparently the sh*t is hitting the fan in Europe big time, but can our heroes do anything about it? B-
  • TRINITY #50 - The world is dead, Earth is destroyed, and Krona has a long heart-to-heart with the worldsoul, only to find he had no idea what planets really do. Then the Trinity get together and make a decision with significant consequences. B
  • ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #132 - Spider-Man gets reacquainted with Dr. Strange, who appears to be having a very bad day, plus Kitty Pryde 'fesses up and Mary Jane goes bonkers. Entertaining but I'm spiraling down on my "Ultimate" fandom. B+
  • UMBRELLA ACADEMY: DALLAS #6 - Twisted with a capital S. Love it. The end of the Dallas storyline has an unexpected set of turns, setting the stage for an even bigger third act. Way to go, team! A
  • UNWRITTEN #1 - You have to read it. A+
  • WALKING DEAD #61 - Kirkman rules. Zombies rule. Kirkman and zombies totally rule. In this installment, the survivors meet a man of God whose survival is a mystery, and rough justice is meted out when someone does something both horrific and unimaginable. A+

And there you have it. What do you think? On the money or off target? Let me know.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Star Trek (2009): What It Is and Is Not

Saw the new Star Trek last weekend and was absolutely blown away. Once in awhile, you leave a theater feeling like a movie was pretty good--or even great--and you re-think that reaction a day or two later. "Huh... y'know, Wolverine really wasn't good..." stuff like that.

Not so with ST '09. J.J. Abrams and his team have successfully and happily blown up the continuity-waterlogged beast that ST had become, pushing the new series into its own self-declared alternate timeline. The Original Series (OS) shows still happened... but now there are episodes that cannot happen with this new crew. There are layers of tragedy that will shadow certain characters forever, and new possibilities because the original timeline was not salvaged.

So what does this mean? It means that Star Trek now has a blank slate. There is no "it has to be!" about their future adventures, no inevitability about meeting Khan, the planet destroyer, the Tribbles... any of it. Abrams can cherry pick whatever he likes for the next few movies, freed from the shackles of continuity. Long-time fans won't like it, I'm betting, but I am a long-time fan and this is infusing that whole universe with fresh blood.

As many publications and sites have noted, Chris Pine absolutely nails the essence of Kirk. He loves the ladies, he's reckless and a bit of a showoff but he gets the job done. He is the epic hero in ways that Spock is not and cannot be, larger than life and bolder than bold. Pine doesn't impersonate William Shatner-- that would be a thankless and self-defeating task--but he captures what Kirk is all about: he's a leader, a man of action, and the guy whose commands you follow no matter what because he inspires that kind of loyalty.

Zachary Quinto likewise nails Spock, but brings emotional depth to the character that Leonard Nimoy only revealed very gradually (probably because the writers were trying to figure him out back then, whereas Quinto benefits from 40+ years of Spockian analysis). This Spock is as much a rebel as Kirk, though he is quiet and coldly precise in how he defies authority. His emotions are always under tight control--with Quinto, the cost and effort of that control are always there, giving a strong urgency to his performance. It's really something to see.

Overall, I loved the new movie and hope fans will continue to embrace it. If serving the original fans were all that the movie aspired to do, it would be a disappointment and indeed a failure; the franchise needs to pull in new viewers, new fans, if it's going to survive. And frankly, the franchise needed a huge dose of risk-taking and adventurous spirit to overcome the last few mort-tastic entries in the theaters. If anything will take the sour taste of the recent ST:NG movies out of my mouth, ST '09 is the palate cleanser.

Grade: A+

...And So It Goes

Well, I wanted to jump back into blogging and had good intentions toward doing so. Real life intervened.

With any luck, I'll be able to put together a coherent thought or two on this page in the next few days.

As for comics, buy POWER GIRL! It's a blast.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Yeah, I Know

Hey there!
Boy, time flies. I was on paternity leave for five weeks (just getting back to work as of yesterday) and y'know, I haven't blogged in ages.
Anyway, it's been in the service of a good cause: my daughter Brielle is doing very well and growing like a weed. She's in NJ with the grandparents for the week, which is not much fun, but we'll be off to see her Thursday night.
As for my comics reviews, I'll start afresh this week. Probably not much point in recapping the past six weeks or so... but send in comments if there's anything you want to talk about and I'll be glad to post some opinions.
all best and thanks for reading!