Random Thoughts (April 27, 2010)

Random Thought! Just imagine if Alan Moore's writing for those early Image books he contributed to had been really, really good. It's random thoughts time! Get excited!

Link Thought! 411 Wrestling Top 5 Gimmick Changes (I forgot Vince McMahon! Dammit!). Wrestling 4Rs including my write-up of TNA Impact (Holy shit, a really good episode! That won't last...). High Road/Low Road on Orlando Jordan ('Bisexual' isn't a character...). Buy or Sell CHIKARA King of Trios Roundtable (I predicted the winners! And some other teams that won other matches!). WWE Extreme Rules Roundtable (I went 5-2, which is pretty good). Wrestler of the Week (I love the comments section of this feature). Non-CBR Review: Captain America: Who Won't Wield the Shield #1 (Too hot for CBR!). Quickie Reviews (Apr 21 2010) (Weekly response to some books I bought that I didn't review for CBR). The Splash Page Podcast episodes 13.1 and 13.2 (Man, we just won't shut up...). The Reread Reviews -- Eternals (Neil Gaiman and John Romita, Jr.) (I made a mistake -- Kirby came up with the Celestial spending 50 years judging humanity thing...).


Random Thought! Don't you hate it when your shop doesn't have a comic you want? Happened last week with Crossed: Family Values #1.

Random Thought! I genuinely do think that the best comic-esque thing that I got last week was Do Anything Volume 1: Jack Kirby Ripped My Flesh.

Random Thought! Got a cool package from Com.X today containing the graphic novel Forty-Five. It's a project written by Andi Ewington where a journalist does 45 interviews with superpowered people or family members of superpowered people. Each interview is a page long and is accompanied by an illustration by a different artist. Sean Phillips, Jock, Charlie Adlard, Liam Sharpe, and a lot of other talented people do the pics. I haven't read any of it yet as it looks like it will require a bit of time, but look for an interview here on CSBG in the next week or two.


Random Thought! I love it when a reread review gets linked on CBR's main page a week after it's been posted basically (which makes sense given the slower nature of weekends -- I'm not being sarcastic or critical about loving it) because that means another round of comments. Funny how the Earth X reread review getting linked meant a wave of comments strongly disagreeing with my assessment of it. Some raise good points, but I stand by my views.

Random Thought! Can you tell that I don't have much to say about comics this week? As such, I may just stop talking about comics altogether in this post... we'll see...


Random Thought! Top five movies in alphabetical order: Almost Famous (but, it's got to be the director's cut from the DVD since that's one of those rare cases where making the movie longer actually makes it better), A Clockwork Orange, High Fidelity, The Princess Bride, and Le Samouraï.

Random Thought! On Friday, I went hunting through some of my CDs that I only listen to every once in a while. They're stacked on some lower shelves of the shelves right next to my desk, out of the way. One of the albums I 'rediscovered' was Fictions by Jane Birkin. Wonderful album of covers, mostly in English but some French ones, too. It begins strongly with "Home" (originally by the Divine Comedy) before going into Tom Waits's "Alice." A really good one-two punch since the tones are so different. Her cover of Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" is why I picked up the album originally in 2006 when I was an A&E editor at my university paper and this was in the stack of CDs sent to us.

Random Thought! Finished rereading Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami on Friday. My internet was down from 8:30 pm Thursday night until noon on Friday, so I read during the morning. I was halfway through the book going into Friday. It was my second time reading it and I enjoyed it more than the first. The first time, I found it to be a bit of a drag, but, this time, I liked it. I was enthusiastic about reading it. Apparently, that was the book that made Murakami a superstar in Japan, selling millions of copies. Fans of Murakami to that point felt somewhat betrayed because it was 'just a love story,' but that's not true. Maybe my perspective is different because I came to Murakami in 2006 after he was recommended to me by Ken Finkleman (writer/director of The Newsroom, At the Hotel, and some other TV shows... and, sadly, Grease 2...) when I interviewed him (my favourite interview ever). Norwegian Wood was one of the last of the Murakami books I got when I began buying them up like a madman/got a bunch for Christmas since I'd read Kafka on the Shore and The Elephant Vanishes and liked both quite a bit. Norwegian Wood is simpler and lacks the mystical/supernatural elements of other novels, but it's also got the same humour and humanity and style of other Murakami writing. I also don't think it's too far divorced from his first novel Hear the Wind Sing, which was also more straight forward like this.

I also reread the story "Firefly" on Friday since Murakami incorporated parts of that short story into Norwegian Wood. The novel began there and the story makes up the first bit of the novel with Murakami adding in details and expanding upon it, changing things somewhat to suit the novel-length narrative. What really struck me about "Firefly" is just how simplistic it seemed compared to Norwegian Wood. The language isn't as refined, the plot lacking a shade of depth... it's a fine story on its own and I hadn't thought anything wrong with it the first time I read it (before I read Norwegian Wood since I got the collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman before the novel), but after seeing what Murakami did with the story, it read like a rough first draft.

Random Thought! Of course, it's not surprising that I liked Norwegian Wood better since it's not far off from my favourite Murakami novel, South of the Border, West of the Sun. That was the third book of Murakami's that I read, buying it after I'd read The Elephant Vanishes and Kafka on the Shore. The day I got it, the bookstore had a bunch of Murakami books, but not my first pick (Hard-Boiled Wonderland & The End of the World) and I went with South of the Border, West of the Sun on instinct. I've always had good instincts like that. I've read that book the most, three times -- and it will probably be the next book I read. It's only around 200 pages, very controlled and focused. No real supernatural elements, all human drama with a man who has a good life that doesn't seem so good when a girl he grew up with comes into one of the clubs he owns. There are some parts that really speak to me.

Random Thought! The only Murakami books I haven't read are Pinball, 1973 and 1Q84. The former because it isn't available in English outside of Japan and, until recently, copies were horribly expensive. But, they did a new printing recently, so you can get copies for $20. I plan to buy one sometime soon. Pinball, 1973 is Murakami's second novel and, like his first, he doesn't think highly of it, so won't let it be translated into English outside of Japan where it's been translated as part of a series of books meant to help Japanese learn English -- the back has translations of some words. I figure twenty bucks or so is about as high as I'm willing to go with a book that the author doesn't like enough to release otherwise. 1Q84 because it's too new and won't be available in English until fall of 2011. I need to learn Japanese.

Random Thought! Haruki Murakami is one of the few writers whose work I'll buy in hardcover when it comes out, usually as immediately as possible. The others: Bret Easton Ellis, Hunter Thompson, Chuck Klosterman, and Thomas Pynchon. Small club.

Random Thought! Damn right I'm looking forward to Imperial Bedrooms...

Random Thought! Been looking forward to The Mutineer, the final collection of Hunter Thompson letters, since 2006(?), but it just never seems to come out. No idea why. Probably bullshit to do with his estate, I imagine. I was also looking forward to the collection of all of his writing for Rolling Stone since some of that hasn't been collected yet.

Random Thought! Surprisingly, Philip K. Dick doesn't make that list despite the rerelease of his various non-science fiction novels over the past few years. I got Voices from the Street in hardcover, but totally blanked on the others. Will probably just get them in paperback. Then again, they aren't his best work, so there isn't the same sense of urgency.

Random Thought! Chuck Klosterman might stand out in that group, but it's just a case of me really enjoying his writing. I tend to read his books in a single day. Very smart, funny, and breezy.

Random Thought! Though, I will get Chris Jericho's new book, Undisputed: How to Become World Champion in 1372 Easy Steps in hardcover if I can because I am itching to read that book. His first one was a fantastic read.

Random Thought! The girlfriend and I are almost done season four of The Sopranos. Still enjoying it. It watches well on DVD when you're just ploughing through the episodes. We keep thinking we should make our picks about who will still be alive when the series ends.

Random Thought! Saw Death at a Funeral last week and it was decent. Had some good laughs in it so long as you check your brain somewhat. The only trailer that had me interested was the one for Grown Ups, the Adam Sandler/Chris Rock/Kevin James/David Spade/Rob Schneider flick where they all grew up together and reunite as adults with their families and such. What appeals to me there is that the five guys involved are friends (or, at least, some of them are friends with one another -- mostly centred on Sandler), so that gives it a good dynamic.

Random Thought! I'll finish things off by getting back to comics: I kind of want Thanos to remain naked and for the Marvel cosmic books to go MAX. Nothing scarier than a giant, pissed-off naked purple guy.


Random Comments You talk. I listen. Sometimes, I talk back. Rock and roll.

Daryll B said: TNA has really de-valued the Knockouts Belt in recent weeks but I hope the trickery is out and we start getting quality matches again...speaking of which R-4/20! V-4/20! D-4/20!... Now I fear about how TNA will mess this up...

Yeah, the constant title changes have been stupid. I like putting the belt on Madison Rayne since she's a solid worker and it creates some possible friction in the Beautiful People. Not a fan of RVD winning the belt, but that's for a variety of reasons -- none of which have to do with him as a wrestler. I really think AJ was the best choice for champ and sticking the belt on Van Dam for a cheap pop doesn't help anyone.

Great Ten felt like The Order to me. A good concept with great opportunities for fantastic stories which is getting the short end of the stick....

It's been a solid little book. Similar structure to The Order with each issue focusing on a member of the group. Not quite as well executed, but still a solid read.

Dean said: Let's break this one down:

Way in which S.A. Superman behaves like an ass:1. Is in long-term, romantic relationships with two women.2. Constantly lies to both.3. Continues to hit on other women anyway.4. Plays really mean practical jokes.5. Claims to use those jokes to 'teach his friends a lesson', but those lessons are obscure at best.6. Has extremely advanced technology that could improve the life of all humankind, but hoards it for his own personal use. Probably so that he can impress the women he brings back to his Fortress of Solitude.

Pretty cad-ish when you lay it out like that, but here is the case against M.A. Batman:1. Snaps angrily at various 'friends' and colleges whenever things don't go his way.2. Broods constantly.3. Despite two (2) different Robins getting bumped off in the line of duty, he continues to let new ones suit up.4. Repeat: allows multiple children to die in his pursuit of justice.5. Treats women like furniture (i.e. Batman YO, Batman & the Monster Men, etc.)6. Never seems to give poor Alfred the day off.

Mitigating factors for S.A. Superman:1. S.A. Superman was a contemporary of Don Draper, so there were different cultural norms.2. S.A. Superman was honest enough to not marry Lois.

Mitigating for M.A. Batman:1. His parents are DEEEAAAAAAADDDDDD!!!!!!!2. That is really the one.

On balance, I am going with Modern-Age Batman as being the bigger Ass. Neither is a shining example of how to behave in relationships, nor how to treat your friends with respect. However, Superman has at least kept everyone alive.

Wow, Dean, you laid it out well. I still think Superman was a bigger asshole, but the dead Robins thing does put Batman ahead nonetheless. Personality only, though? Silver Age Superman was a fucking dick.

stealthwise said: First off, you have a comic shop that CALLS you when things are going to be late? Lucky bastard...

Yup. One week, the books were going to be late a day and I got a call on Tuesday night to tell me. Pretty good shop.

Second, I find Ellis's new comic to boring, to the point where it's almost unreadable. I loved his Come in Alone, and other random ramblings he posts from time to time, but the whole "Jack Kirby's head" thing feels repetitive. Of course, if you have a recent column that you'd recommend of his, I'd be for trying it again, but I read the first ten or so and it didn't seem like he had much to say.

It reads best as a whole, honestly. Very conversational and easy going. Ellis with a drink just talking, going off on tangents, showing you a piece of comics history filtered through his sensibilities with Jack Kirby at the centre. Unlike other columns, it is a longer piece and works as such. On a weekly basis, you get a sense of what he's doing, but if you sit down and spend an hour reading the whole thing, it's much clearer and stronger. I also gave it 4.5 stars at CBR.

Dalarsco said: What's wrong with Moon Knight? I've been enjoying it quite a bit.

If I wanted to read a Batman comic, I'd read a Batman comic.

Thanks for reading. Until next week. Later.

Grant Morrison on Why He Hates Watchmen

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