Thursday, June 30, 2011

Going on 30

I don't usually like to make a big deal of my birthday but people tend to make some birthdays more special than others. 13 is a magic number but 16 is seemingly even more important, but not as much as 18, which marks you as an adult while 21 let's (legally) you drink and partake of the wonderful joys of hangovers (never been one to do that).

So what does 30 get you? Well I really don't know, but lots of folks view it as a sign of  that you're really getting old. But from everything I've seen and heard, 30 is the new 16. I mean, I don't particularly look or even feel that much older. Most people are surprised when I tell them my age. While I don't mind getting older (too much) it does serve as a reminder that our time on this Earth is limited. That makes me stop and think about what I've done with my life.

I don't have any major, grand scale achievements to my resume, but when I think back on my 20s, I did do two pretty important things. One was moving out and living on my own for the very first time. I got a lot of experience and grew even more of a backbone. The other was becoming an uncle, which is one of the best things that's ever happened to me and one of the most important titles I'll ever hold in my life.

It seems like my teenage years breezed by but my 20s moved at a snail's pace. And yet, I can recall being a teenage as if it were yesterday. Playing GoldenEye in the basement with friends, a bunch of us in the car driving around. Good times, good times. I made some new friends in my 20s and had a blast with them, too. I'm sure the 30s will hold some good memories as well.

Getting older also makes me think about things I'd like to do with my life. There are still so many things I haven't done. I'd love to check out Europe, visit New York, get some stories published and more. I'm not sure when those things will happen but I do want to make them happen.

The one thing I really hate about my birthday is when people sing it to me. This tends to happen at the numerous places I've worked. I've only been at my current job for two months and I work on Saturday (my birthday) but very few people there know it's my special day. So maybe I'll be spared the embarrassment of being sung to. Maybe.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Haul

Like most people, I've always been a fan of Mickey Mouse. He's one of the few cartoon characters that's achieved the same iconic status as Bugs Bunny. I'm most familiar with Mickey's animated exploits, having never read any of the Mickey Mouse comics. When I saw Mickey Mouse: Race to Death Valley, I just knew it would be something I'd want to pick up. 

Despite the title, Race to Death Valley packs numerous Mickey Mouse comic strip stories from the early 1930s. There's also some nifty bonus content including some very kind, lengthy words from Mickey fanatic Warren Spector of Epic Mickey fame. I've only thumbed through it so far, but this is looking like one very impressive book. This book marks the first time Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse strips have ever really been collected. With nearly 300 pages it may take me a while to read through this hardcover. The side of this one actually says "Volume 1." If that's an indication that there's more vintage Mickey Mouse comics to come, I hope Disney and Fantagraphics Books deliver the goods.

Who doesn't love The Far Side? If I had to pick 5 of my favorite newspaper comics, The Far Side would easily be in the top 3. I've actually got a number of Far Side books in my collection, but it's actually been more than 13 years since I've bought any Far Side material. I think the last Far Side book I bought was The Far Side Gallery 3. Barns & Nobles had some good deals on their books and at under 9 bucks each, it really was tough to pass on these.

The PreHistory of The Far Side is interesting not only because it contains commentary from creator Gary Larson on nearly every page, but it also features some of his rejected strips and even some artwork he did as a child. It's also one of the thickest Far Side books I've ever picked up, being very close to 300 pages. Of course, it has nothing on The Complete Far Side books, which are heavy enough to be doorstops. Maybe I'll get around to picking those up someday, but for now, I'm fine with what I've got. I'll probably read through The Far Side Gallery 2 first because it's a bit thinner than PreHistory.

Friday, June 10, 2011

DVD Haul

Yeah, I'm still buying DVDs when Blu-Ray is all the rage. You wanna make something of it? I digress. While I usually stick to games for my entertainment, like anyone else, I enjoy a good flick or animated series. As I've said before, my interest in comics has waned considerably and continues to do so. Amazing Spider-Man continues to be an unfunny Joke, the changes and constant renumbering/relaunching of Ultimate Spider-Man are aggravating, and with DC's we're-not-calling-it-a-reboot-but-it-really-is-a-reboot-of-nearly-the-whole-DC-comics-brand announcement last week, it's that much easier to stick to animation when I want to get my super hero fix.

I was a huge fan of Grant Morrison's 12 issue run of All-Star Superman. The blend of retro elements from past Superman stories with more modern material made for one of my favorite stories I've ever read about big blue. The animated film version was written by Dwayne McDuffie, a huge contributor to the DCAU's Justice League Unlimited, one of my all-time favorite cartoons. Sadly Mr. McDuffie passed away one day before All-Star Superman hit the shelves back in February. I still can't believe he's gone and I may get teary eyed when I watch those creator's segments on my Justice League DVDs since I'm in the middle of watching the DCAU all over again. Since this was one of his last works, I figured I owed to myself to pick it up. I never met the man, but from what I've read and heard, in addition to be a superb creative talent, he was an all around nice guy. R.I.P. Dwayne McDuffie.

As much flack as Jeph Loeb gets these days, he did turn out some fine stories before he lost his creative steam and even some after that. I actually enjoyed his Public Enemies arc on Superman/Batman when I read the trade back in 2007. I thought the animate version of Superman/Batman: Public Enemies was even better than the comic it was based off of. Heck, even Jeph and artist Ed Guinness called Bruce Timm and co and told them they loved the film. If I recall the next arc after that one had something to do with Superman discovering Supegirl. I never did read that one but since I dug Loeb's first Superman/Batman story, I figure I may enjoy this animated version. That and and my brother-in-law told me it was awesome.

I'm ashamed to admit that I was not sold on Batman: The Brave and the Bold when I'd first seen what the art would look like. It was already clear that it would not be like that Batman of the DCAU, but when I caught the Christmas episode, Invasion of the Secret Santas!, that was all it took to convince me. I later found out that some of the same creative minds of the DCAU worked on The Brave and the Bold. Seeing Batman team up with and fight some pretty obscure characters from the DC world and Batman's history is pretty cool and I rather like the art style, which has a Jack Kirby feel to it. Neil Patrick Harris singing as the Music Meister in the musical episode, Mayhem of the Music Meister is the worth the price of admission alone. Considering what a box set of 13 episodes will cost you these days, I think $14.99 for both parts of season one is pretty good. I'm kinda bummed that there are no extras on these DVDs, but with over 600 minutes and 26 episodes of campy Batman goodness, do I really need more to watch?

I have yet to see a Hayao Miyazaki anime film that I didn't like. I haven't seen everything he's done, but what I've seen, I've really enjoyed. Kiki's Delivery Service is a movie I've been wanting to check out for a some time now. Every time I go to Best Buy I always walk by it, pick it up, look it over, put it back and go on about my business. Well I finally made part of my collection and it's actually the first Miyazaki film I own (everything else I've seen by the man was owned by friends). I think my nieces may like it too so I'm gonna try to sit down and look at it with them on Friday if they aren't out and about.