What I bought - 3 August 2011

"Sometimes I ask myself," Emmerich said. "What is the function of a murderer? Is he the person you go to in order to confess?" (Don DeLillo, from The Names)

Avengers Academy #17 ("Battle Scars") by Christos Gage (writer), Sean Chen (penciler), Andrew Hennessy (inker), Jeromy Cox (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

A letter writer has some odd criticisms of Avengers Academy in this issue. For one, he doesn't like that the book is non-stop fighting, even though it hasn't been. I mean, it's a Marvel superhero book, so of course there's going to be a lot of fighting, but for all that, Gage has done some very good "character moments" throughout - I can see if you don't like how he writes those, but you can't really deny that they're there. The guy also doesn't like how the kids talk to each other - he writes "You might want to read your dialogue OUT LOUD [yep, with caps, which should have gotten his letter thrown in the trash] before committing it to print - because people don't talk like that. Teenagers don't talk like that. There's nothing natural about it." Now, he does go on to offer more specifics, but whenever someone says that people in fiction don't talk like real people, I want to punch them. And ask them to record an actual conversation and then transcribe it and see if it's something they'd want to read. Gage, to his credit, addresses this in his response, which is cool. I challenge that letter-writer to listen to teenagers talk to each other for five minutes. If his eyes don't glaze over while they try to get to a point, I'll give him one thin dollar. Yes, I'm stereotyping. But when was the last time you listened to teenagers talk to each other?

Anyway, I just thought the criticisms were odd. Letters to the comics can be brilliant - I'm totally on board with Tim Callahan's contention that trade paperbacks should contain the letters published in the backs of the issues, especially when Malcolm Bourne or Charles J. Sperling were writing the letters - but they're also kind of weird, in that the letters are often edited, so I always wonder how much the letter writer actually had in his (or her) letter when it left his (or her) hands. I've had letters published before, and I honestly can't remember if they were edited or not. It's an odd forum to offer criticism, because I wonder how seriously a writer or artist takes a letter writer. I just don't know.

The other odd thing about the criticism is that this very issue has a lot of nice "character moments." But it also features a lot of fighting. See, Gage might not be the greatest writer, but he's figured out how to blend the two tenets of serial superhero comics - action + soap opera - rather well, and that's why Avengers Academy, while perhaps not the greatest superhero comic EVAH, is a good read. Even when Sean Chen draws it!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Batman: Knight of Vengeance #3 (of 3) by Brian Azzarello (writer), Eduardo Risso (artist), Trish Mulvihill (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

I guess it's not really a douchey move by DC to give away the big twist from issue #2 on the cover to issue #3, because if you're trade-waiting on this book, you might have just bypassed the cover anyway. Wait, no - it's still a douchey move. I mean, Azzarello really killed on issue #2, and he set up this emotional gut-punch of an issue so well, and it would be a shame if people found out what was going on before they had a chance to read it. Hence my DAZZZZZZZZLING PHOTOSHOPPING SKILLLLLLZZZZZZ, BEEYOTCHES!!!!!!! As John Hodgman would say, You're welcome.

Because, yeah - this is a hell of a good issue ending a hell of a good mini-series, and it even kind-of sort-of works as a "real" Batman story, which is scary as hell. I'm not the biggest fan of Azzarello (one day I'll get around to why 100 Bullets is overrated), but Risso is always excellent, and Azzarello really delivered the goods on this one. Man.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

One totally Airwolf panel:

Flashpoint #4 (of 5) by Geoff Johns (writer), Andy Kubert (penciller), Jesse Delperdang (inker), Alex Sinclair (colorist), and Nick J. Napolitano (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

It's really fascinating how inkers influence pencillers. Jesse Delperdang's inks in this issue make Kubert's art slightly tighter than Sandra Hope's did in the first three issues, and it's kind of amazing how subtly different but much better the look is. Inkers. Who knew? (Okay, I knew. Even before Chasing Amy.)

Anyway, this is still a ridiculous series, but it's far more intense and wacky than its Marvel counterpart, so I'm perfectly willing to ride along and have some fun. Everyone's very "grrrr!" and "posture!" but who cares, right? And I guess they couldn't trust that character who any casual reader could have told them not to trust even without years of experience with that character. I mean, come on, faux-DCU heroes! But it doesn't matter, because Element Woman rules. It's true! (See below.)

I'm planning something special for this and Fear Itself, so I'm just going to move on. I'm ignoring the racist subtext, the sexist subtext, and all the other subtexts for the time being. I'll let Colin Smith tackle those for now! Right now, I'm too busy digging the fact that Hal Jordan is dead ... even if he's not really dead and even if he's not really "the real" Hal Jordan. We Hal Jordan Haters take our victories where we can!

I also almost forgot to mention that Reverse Flash looks a little ... excited about all the destruction going on around him. Excited - that's it.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Green Wake #5 by Kurtis Wiebe (writer), Riley Rossmo (artist), and Kelly Tindall (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

This is now an ongoing, which is never a bad thing, but I do wonder when Wiebe found out it was going to continue or if he had planned a "series of mini-series" all along, because this ends kind of weirdly. The saga of Carl and Ariel comes to a satisfying conclusion, but Morley's arc ends very nicely, and then, at the very end, is he back where he started? We never see his face, so it could be someone completely different and the star of the book all along has been Krieger, which would be kind of interesting as he's slowly turning into a frog and can offer the readers some insight into why that happens. But I wonder if the ending was Wiebe's plan all along or if he futzed with it to fit the new ongoing format. Either way, it's kind of odd.

But the book itself continues to be quite good, and I'm perfectly happy that Wiebe and Rossmo get to do it as an ongoing. The Carl/Ariel arc is horrific even though it's a bit predictable (if I figured it out a few issues ago, it's really predictable, as we know I'm not that bright), but Morley's journey is a bit more emotional and beautiful, and I'm glad Wiebe did it. I will be a bit disappointed if Morley is back next issue, but I guess I can deal with it. It doesn't change the emotional impact of this issue.

Rossmo is wonderful, as usual. Carl's transformation is gruesome, and Morley's remembrances are illustrated wonderfully. Rossmo keeps getting better, which is always nice to see (and he was good when he started some years ago). I imagine he won't have any problems keeping up a schedule, as he seems to work fairly quickly. Good news!

The trade should be out soon. Do yourself a favor and pick it up!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Herc #6 ("Black Rapture") by Greg Pak (writer), Fred van Lente (writer), Neil Edwards (penciler), Cory Hamscher (inker), Jesus Aburtov (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I think I'm going to drop this book, which bugs me. Pak and van Lente's work with Hercules has been so good, but so far, this "urban vigilante" thing they're going for with this series just hasn't been lighting me up, and that's too bad. I may try the next arc, but I'll decide when it comes out. It's not looking good.

This issue is a good example of the mediocrity of the book. The idea of Hercules gaining strength from worshippers is a good one, as is the idea of the villains gaining strength that Herc can no longer possess. But the villains are fairly boring, from Hecate (who simply flies away at the end, as befits a book tying into a larger event) to Kyknos (who seems kind of pathetic throughout) to Helene, whose story is terribly clichéd and has none of the zing that we've seen from these two writers in the past. Edwards draws it all competently - his lines have gotten stronger than when he filled in on Fantastic Four, which probably has something to do with Hamscher's inks - but without much personal style - he's still aping Bryan Hitch too much. After six issues, this is a competent superhero comic with a bit of wit. That makes it mediocre, and I don't really want to read that comic. The only reason I might pick up the next issue is that the "Fear Itself" crap is over with now (isn't it?), so maybe van Lente and Pak can concentrate more on making this a good comic. Oh, wait - next issue Hercules turns into Spider-Man. Jeebus.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

DC Comics Presents: The Metal Men 100-Page Spectacular (once again, with feeling).

Okay, so last week people thought I was objecting to the content of this comic when I was objecting to the printing problems. I should have put up a non-fucked-up page for comparison, but this week, I will show the same page. The first is from the bad version, the second is from the good version that came out this week. This is why I was pissed off last week (of course, I didn't know that DC didn't want retailers to sell the jacked-up version, and neither did my retailer ... but I also pointed out that he is often ignorant of things in the greater world because he just doesn't care).

So there.

Moriarty #4 by Daniel Corey (writer), Anthony Diecidue (artist) Perry Freeze (colorist), and Dave Lanphear (letterer). $2.99, 26 pgs, FC, Image.

This is another comic that has been turned into an ongoing, and good for Corey and Diecidue, say I. Once again, I'm not entirely sure where they will take the comic, even though the set-up for future stories is fairly obvious (once we know that Moriarty will star in an ongoing set in 1914, there's only one way to go, if you ask me). This final issue, therefore, ends looking ahead, but the finale of the "Dark Chamber" arc is fairly fun, with plenty of derring-do and aplomb and explosions. Jade and Watson are sure to return, and I'm personally looking forward to see how they fit into the series going forward, given what their positions are now and the new paradigm Moriarty has to deal with. The only problem with this arc is that everything moves a bit swiftly - it feels like this could have easily been five or six issues without padding it too much - but I guess Corey wanted to come out of the gate with a blast, and he certainly did that. Diecidue does a nice job with the sketchy style that he employs, and Freeze's colors help make the final battle unearthly and eerie, which is a good touch.

This is also coming out in trade next month before launching a new story arc, and it's an interesting comic with a ton of potential that Corey and Diecidue are just beginning to tap. We shall see if they continue to get better as this book moseys along.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Scalped #51 ("Knuckle Up Part One of Five") by Jason Aaron (writer), R. M. Guéra (artist), Giulia Brusco (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

This is very much a "getting things lined up for the horrors to come" kind of issue, which doesn't mean it's not gripping. Lincoln has had a change of heart and is pissing off the bad guys on the rez, including Shunka (which is never good). Meanwhile, Dash is in the hospital recovering from the last story arc, and Officer Falls Down and he head off to find that other bad guy. That born-again sheriff raids a meth lab and performs a kindness. Finally, Dash's dad has a conversation with Catcher in the back of a police car. None of this portends good things, especially the final page, which implies a seismic shift in the bad guy hierarchy on the rez. So Aaron is getting all his ducks in a row for the arc, and it's his usual excellent writing. Guéra rocks on the book, too, with his usual scattershot layouts of panels that form a coherent whole and brilliant line work.

Aaron is, as always with this book, a supremely confident writer, and it shows in the way he moves his characters across the board. It's fun watching things revolve into place for the inevitable shitstorm. It's a-coming, I tells ya!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Secret Seven #3 (of 3) ("The Area of Madness") by Peter Milligan (writer), Fernando Blanco (layouter), Scott Koblish (finisher), Brian Buccellato (colorist), and Rob Leigh (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

This is another nasty but ultimately effective mini-series of the "Flashpoint" universe, even if it's not as good as the Batman one. It fails just a bit because this is, in the final analysis, a bit thin on plot - it's all about Shade calling together his team and how it went horribly wrong. Really, that's it. Milligan runs with that really well, though, and because I am a horrible person, I just love bleak stories like this, as long as they're interesting. This ties into the main title fairly well, too - better than the Batman one, which pays just a bit of lip service to it. I also assume that the way it ends will lead into Shade showing up in the "real" DCU when the reboot takes hold. Either way, it's a brutal and stark story, and Milligan does a fine job with it. Of course, he's always been good at it!

Oh, and I love how Zatanna shows up wearing this costume and nobody stops and says, "Um, what the fuck, Z?" I mean, yes, I know it's a tense moment, but the book would have been funnier if, in the middle of them discussing a murder, someone said, "And by the way, Zatanna, what the hell is up with that outfit?"

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Secret Six #36 ("Caution to the Wind Part Two of Two: Blood Honor") by Gail Simone (writer), Jim Calafiore (artist), John Kalisz (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

One of the best series DC has published in the past five years limps to an end, victim of the reboot and the need to keep these newly-marketable characters alive. Simone, more than likely by editorial fiat (although she's a company gal, so she'd probably never cop to this), wimps out at the end, unfortunately. Bane's campaign against the Bat-family goes pear-shaped when every single superhero in the DCU shows up to take down the Six, and Simone could have either gone with a proper Butch and Sundance ending (unlikely, given that very few heroes in the DCU actually kill bad guys) or allowed the team to miraculously get away. That she does neither is disappointing (although I won't say any more - I suppose I've given away too much, although with Deadshot and King Shark in the new Suicide Squad and Bane in the next movie and Catman suddenly a hot character, did you think too much bad stuff was going to happen?) but expected. I could compare this to the final issue of Hitman (Simone and Califiore even obliquely reference it, although I doubt they were doing it consciously), which had amazing emotional heft, because Simone is going for the same vibe but can't follow through. It's too bad, because there are some nice character moments, which has been the strength of the book for some time, but that also feels a bit forced, as if suddenly these characters were saying things they would never say even in the face of death. Oh well.

I imagine that the book would have continued had the reboot not happened, even with the fact that the sales never lit up the room. I could be wrong and DC simply allowed Simone to keep going with it until the reboot because they would have cancelled it anyway. I'm glad Simone got to end it with a finale rather than getting cut off at the knees, but it did stagger to the finish line rather than cross it triumphantly. That shouldn't negate the wonderful series that it was, but it is somewhat disappointing.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Severed #1 (of 7) ("Nothing Wasted") by Scott Snyder (writer), Scott Tuft (writer), Attila Futaki (artist), and Fonografiks (letterer). $2.99, 25 pgs, FC, Image.

Severed is a horror story set in 1916, which as the authors write in the backmatter, a perfect time to set it, because youngsters could still jump the rails and have an adventure that was both exhilirating and terrifying, and it wouldn't necessarily be cut short by those damned overprotective parents, who didn't have access to such great tracking technology as we do today. So we get a boy leaving his farm to ride the rails, searching for his long-lost father, who sent him a letter asking him to come see him (the boy, Jack, was adopted). Meanwhile, another boy in a Catholic orphanage is "adopted" by an electrician (who works for General Electric) who takes him to a "practice" house where he's supposed to hook up the juice. Yeah, that probably won't end well. All this is introduced by a framing sequence in which Jack, 40 years older, is surprised by a letter a strange man gave his son. Is the letter the same one his long-lost father sent him? Only time will tell!

This is a nice introduction - it's straight-forward but still mysterious, creepy and even scary, and evocative of a lost America that probably never existed but feels like it should have - it's almost mythic. Meanwhile, Futaki's work reminds me of Greg Ruth's, and if you can't have Greg Ruth drawing this comic, someone who looks vaguely like Greg Ruth is a fine choice. Severed is a cool little story, and I look forward to subsequent issues.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

S.H.I.E.L.D. v2.0 #2 ("Fire") by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Dustin Weaver (artist), Sonia Oback (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to be a wacky journey through Marvel history, and while it still seems a bit pointless, I'm still loving it. Weaver's wonderful layouts and designs help, of course (the final image of this comic is marvelous), but Hickman is also writing such a fun and impossibly bizarre comic that it's hard to believe that it takes place in the mainstream Marvel Universe. I have no idea how long Hickman plans to write this series, but come on - Isaac Newton in a winged suit of armor disappearing into the future? How can you not love that?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Superboy #10 ("Rise of the Hollow Men Part Three: Time and Tannarak") by Jeff Lemire (writer), Pete Woods (artist), CAFU (penciller), Bit (inker), Paulo Siqueira (penciler), Andrew Mangum (inker), Pier Gallo (artist), Jamie Grant (colorist), Dom Regan (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

While S.H.I.E.L.D. might seem a bit pointless, the tenth issue of Superboy might be the most pointless comic I've read in a long time, and that includes the sixth issue of Superboy, in which our hero was carted off by Doomsday. I mean, Lemire gets two issues this month to complete his story (which, from what I inferred from him, was a bit shorter than he would have liked, but at least he gets that) and he spends one of them telling us ... that the bad guy is, in fact, pretty bad. Really? I mean, it's fun seeing Arion and that Viking Prince dude and the different artists for each era when Tannarak shows up, but we really learn absolutely nothing about Tannarak that we couldn't have learned in a panel or two of exposition. It's really weird. It's certainly a nice-looking issue, and the scenes are interesting, but there's absolutely nothing that forwards the plot so much it needed 20 pages to be told. Before you accuse me of wanting only action, there's barely any characterization, either - it's just events that happened in the past that we didn't need to see, could have been told instead of shown (or shown in far less than 20 pages), or have already been implied. Strange. Why waste an issue when you don't have many left?

I do like how mainstream comics' obsession with nudity has allowed artists to have some fun. If we didn't live in such an uptight country like the United States (and as much as I love the U.S., we're still uptight), DC could have shown the panel with hundreds of naked Jon the Viking Princes and not had any issues with it. But because God forbid we see male genitals, even if they're just a few indeterminate half-ovals, we get Paulo Siqueira covering up the offending member with ... a fully erect phallus substitute:

Well played, Siquiera. Didn't anyone at DC look at this and think, "Yeah, maybe we should just let the flaccid penis appear and ignore the squawking of offended parents." Wouldn't that have been nice?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Thunderbolts #161 by Jeff Parker (writer), Declan Shalvey (artist), Frank Martin Jr. (colorist), Fabio D'Auria (colorist), and Albert Deschesne (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

This is a transition issue from the T-Bolts' fight with Juggernaut (who moved on to battle the X-Men) and their next fight, with strange monsters genetically engineered by Baron Zemo, who's grumpy that Sin is hogging all the evil glory in the main event. So it lurches along, with the team picking themselves up after Juggernaut wiped them out, a warhead appearing out of nowhere to discharge the biological weapon into Lake Michigan, and Satana figuring something out about Man-Thing (it has to do with his teleportation powers, but it's "comic-book science" so I don't get it - I have enough trouble with actual science). It's not a bad issue, but it does feel a bit disjointed. The invasion scene is cool, though.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris #5 ("Colossus of Mars Part Five of Five: Annihilation") by Arvid Nelson (writer), Carlos Rafael (artist), Carlos Lopez (colorist), and Marshall Dillon (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

This spin-off has been better than the main series, not only because Rafael is a better artist than Antonio, but because John Carter, so far, is kind of dull, and as this takes place 400 years before his birth, he's not around to dull things up. Dejah Thoris, all G-string and stripper pasties, is who we want to see, anyway, and in this issue she kicks ass and takes names, so HELLZ YEAH! Amirite? High-five, anyone?

This still isn't all that good a comic book, and I'm probably going to drop it unless my retailer really wants me to get the three issues after this that I pre-ordered (sometimes he doesn't care if I don't get them, because he just puts them out to sell). I mean, it's not terrible, but although Chad Nevett says it shouldn't matter, $3.99 is a bit much to pay for a fairly simple action-adventure comic. I mean, back in the old days of $.75-comics (that's how much they were when I started buying), I would probably stick with this, because it's mildly enjoyable. But it's just not worth the expense, which is too bad.

Anyway, Dejah beats the bad guy, people die, and we get a poignant ending. There's nothing specifically terrible about this comic, but it lacks pizazz. So, I will see if I get the next three (that's how many I pre-ordered), but the odds aren't looking good!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

X-Factor #223 by Peter David (writer), Emanuela Lupacchino (penciler), Guillermo Ortego (inker), Matt Milla (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

David continues to reveal the mystery of Rahne's child slowly but surely, with top secret guest star [REDACTED] explaining why all these beasties are coming after her and helping her out ... until another top secret guest star from way back in the day shows up and takes Rahne away. Oh, what could his dastardly plan be????? Meanwhile, Madrox starts to worry about Guido. Yeah, that's a problem. As usual, it's a well-written and (because Lupacchino is on art) beautifully drawn issue, which isn't surprising. I dig X-Factor. It's like comfort food - always there, always satisfying, and always filling!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Zorro Rides Again #1 (of 12) by Matt Wagner (writer), Esteve Polls (artist), Oscar Manuel Martin (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

It's been a while since Wagner stopped writing Zorro for Dynamite, but now he's back to finish the job! Like the rest of his run, it's a high-spirited adventure, and Wagner continues with the subplot of Diego's father figuring out that he is, in fact, Zorro. So that should be interesting. Wagner doesn't have Francesco Francavilla in tow this time, unfortunately, so while Polls is a solid artist, the book lacks the distinctive and, frankly, amazing look it did when Francavilla drew (and colored) it. But that's okay - Polls does what he has to do, and Wagner writes a fine story (although seeing his covers on these books and not seeing his interior art is a bit annoying). I have two problems with the art, neither of which is that pressing. First, the reproduction doesn't look great - much like the Metal Men comic, it looks a bit fuzzy, although nowhere near as bad as that one. Second, Diego's father is dressed in a suit that looks very much like something from the turn of the 20th century and beyond - he reminded me of pictures of Sigmund Freud I've seen, in fact - and given that this takes place before California was part of the U.S. (and hence prior to 1848 at the earliest), he seems a bit anachronistic. But those are just minor complaints, although if it is a reproduction problem, I hope Dynamite fixes it before next issue. It's just fun to read a Wagner Zorro comic again, because he does such a nice job with the character.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Petrograd by Philip Gelatt (writer), Tyler Crook (artist), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $29.99, 250 pgs, BrW, Oni Press.

I've been looking forward to this since it was solicited, and flipping through it in San Diego only whetted my appetite. Of course, I'm still really far behind on my graphic novel reading, so I'll have to wait a while to read it, but I'll get to it!

After a week off, it's once again time for The Ten Most Recent Songs On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle). I added some songs (none of which show up here) and plan to add some more. Will that mean less Billy Joel? Dan certainly hopes so, but I wouldn't bet on it!

1. "Stigmata" - Ministry (1988) "My favorite weapon is the look in your eyes"12. "Shooting My Mouth Off" - James (1999) "Ignore you? It can't be done"3. "Freaks" - Marillion (1985) "Have you ever dreamed of romance no matter how experimental?"4. "Don't Pass Me By" - Beatles (1968) "I'm sorry that I doubted you, I was so unfair - you were in a car crash and you lost your hair"25. "Too Late" - Journey (1979) "Yes, my friend, you're fading fast; if you stay here you won't last"6. "Living After Midnight" - Judas Priest (1980) "I set my sights and then home in, the joint starts flying when I begin"7. "We Will Rejoice in Thy Salvation" - All Eastern Choir (1989)38. "Superstar" - Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack (1971) "If you'd come today you could have reached a whole nation; Israel in four BC had no mass communication"9. "Genie in a Bottle" - Christina Aguilera (1999) "You're lickin' your lips and blowing kisses my way, but that don't mean I'm gonna give it away"410. "Mind Riot" - Soundgarden (1991) "Now somebody is talking about a third world war, and the police said this was normal control"

1 Under the category of "bands who have only one song that I like" comes "Stigmata." My best friend was a big fan of Ministry in the late 1980s, but I just never got into them. Except this song, which is awesome. It was also featured in the movie Hardware, which just might be the most underrated movie of all time. OF ALL TIME!!!!!! (The soundtrack also features "The Order of Death" by Public Image, Ltd. and "Ace of Spades." So yeah, the movie has a cool soundtrack too.)

2 One of the reasons why I don't love the Beatles all that much is because a lot of the songs by them I like the most are by Harrison and Ringo, this song included. They seemed a bit more idiosyncratic than McCartney and Lennon (yes, even Lennon), but because those two dominate the lyric- and song-writing, I don't love the Beatles as much as others. If that makes any sense.

3 Okay, this demands a bit of explanation. In the spring of 1989, I was chosen - along with a few classmates - to participate in the All Eastern Choir, made up of high school singers from up and down the eastern seaboard. We met in Boston for a few days, learned a bunch of songs, and gave a concert (along with an all-star orchestra). It's one of the cooler moments of my life, not only because I have always had a good singing voice and loved singing in choir and this was a wonderful honor, and not only because I got to go away for five days and hang out, almost unsupervised, in Boston (we didn't get into many shenanigans because we were practicing a lot, but still - no parents!), but also because by that time, I had fallen out with our choir director (I was one of her favorites as a sophomore, but events in my junior year turned her against me) and she was mystified how I could have qualified. This taught me a valuable lesson - people are really petty. I could still sing, even though she no longer liked me, so for her to wonder aloud how I made it was kind of rude. Anyway, they gave us a tape of the concert, and when I was back in Pennsylvania, I found it and asked my father to convert it to a .wav file so I could put it on my iPod. This is one of the selections - it's Handel doing his Handel thing. Fun!

4 More explanation! Back in 1999, I was working on my Master's Degree at Portland State (Vikings represent!!!!) and I was working part-time. So I had an odd schedule and I often was home in the middle-to-late afternoon. For some reason I started watching Total Request Live occasionally, possibly because at that time, it was the last bastion of videos on MTV, even then (man, it's been a long time since MTV played videos, isn't it?). Yes, Carson Daly needed to be punched in the face, but it was interesting seeing what was popular, because by that time I had long before stopped listening to the radio, even "classic rock" stations. It was there that I first heard this song, and in since my heyday of actually listening to the radio in the 1980s, this is one of the few pure pop songs I actually enjoy. No, it has nothing to do with the video, in which an 18-year-old, not-yet-skanky Christina Aguilera wears a lot of midriff-baring shirts and rolls around in the sand. NOTHING AT ALL!!!!!!!

Let's check out a Totally Random Movie Quote, shall we?

"What do you make of all of this, Wang?""Is confusing.""IT! IT is confusing! Say your goddamn pronouns!"

And hey, today is Tawny Kitaen's fiftieth birthday. Do you feel old yet? Kitaen has had a hard life and looks pretty rough these days, but let's forget about that and remember her creative high point: Writhing around on Jaguars as she sticks her tongue down David Coverdale's throat. Yee-ha!!!!

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