Monday, December 29, 2008

Going Back to Raleigh... Raleigh, to Raleigh. Going back to Raleigh - I don't think so.

(my apologies to L.L. Cool J)

Actually, we did take a trip three hours across state to head back to Raleigh on Saturday of this past weekend. Part of our family Christmas gift was tickets to the Carolina Hurricanes hockey game. The other part was incentive for our son to get back into the groove of walking after six weeks from his knee surgery (he's out of the wheelchairs and now getting around just fine - no running yet, but the surgery seems to have done the trick).

We took off in the van on Saturday morning, had lunch at Kanki (our favorite Japanese restaurant - since the Japanese in Hickory stinks on ice) at the mall, then shopped around a bit (didn't buy a thing though). Then we drove up to Wake Forest to check out the old houses we lived in (mostly just a drive by for old times sake). Then before the game, we checked into the North Raleigh Hilton where we were staying for the night and got changed into our jerseys.

The game was a lot of fun. Carolina was wearing their new, black home jerseys though (more merchandising for the fans to purchase I guess). They were playing the Boston Bruins, who were very good and beat us 4 to 2. Still, for us, the game isn't about winning (though that would be nice). We so enjoy going to hockey games in person, so you can scream and get psyched and just have a blast. Much better than watching hockey on TV.

We got back to the hotel around 11pm and flipped on the TV. Found Star Trek: First Contact on so we watched the last hour. The Hilton has these fantastic, widescreen LCD TV's in all rooms - and most of the channels were in HD to boot. It was a nice way to unwind before bed.

Before driving back home on Sunday, we had to hit another favorite restaurant for brunch. This time it was the Twisted Fork where kids eat free on Sundays. So, we had a little savings. Good thing too as my son ate more than any of us at Japanese the day before. It's tough having a growing pre-teen. He slept on the way home, and my wife watched some Grey's Anatomy episodes on her iPod. Thus, I made great time driving home while listening to the First Wave channel on XM/Sirius.

It was a fun little trip and a great edition to the vacation time.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Comics of the Week (12/24/08)

Brave and the Bold #20 - part two of the Green Lantern/Phantom Stranger team-up, and I have to say this story is getting worse for me. I just can't get into it. Again, it seems David Hine had a great idea for a sci-fi tale but then shoe-horned it into a DC Universe story for this arc. For me, it just doesn't fit. The Phantom Stranger has been totally wasted so far, and GL Hal Jordan is totally off his game here. The story just doesn't click right. I'm seriously thinking of saving some money and skipping the rest of this arc.

Trinity #30 - this book is starting to suffer with the slowness of the second act. It really needs to get back into gear, and even the gathering of villains and heroes to represent the various tarot arcana isn't excting me enough. I know it appears to be building to something big, but this building is taking a long long time.

Rann-Thanagar Holy War #8 (of 8) - Starlin and Lim finish this mini series with a great big, beautifully rendered battle. No one does cosmic as well as Starlin. I really like how this book unfolded and am pleased to hear Starlin will continue to use some of the cast in Strange Adventures, another eight issue mini in 2009 that continues some of the extra plot threads.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I Found My Calling...

With today being Christmas, my wife and I got our 13 year old son (our only child) the one thing he wanted for Christmas - Rock Band 2 for the XBox 360. Now, I've mentioned in the past how we all enjoy Guitar Hero games, so this seemed like a natural next step. It combines great rock music (past and present) with an interactive video game and it comes with a couple instruments (a guitar and drums).

So, what's my calling?

I'm the singer of our house band - Da Rockrrrzzz! (my son named the band)

Yup, finally knowing the lyrics to "Hungry Like the Wolf" and "Eye of the Tiger" can pay off. I can rock those tunes like a master.

Good thing too since I can drum worth a darn. I'm okay on the hand-eye coordination needed for guitar and the main drums, but my foot-eye coordination sucks big time and that kick drum note kills me every time! This why my wife couldn't teach me to drive a standard.

So, we'll be doing a lot of rocking out over the holidays - until I go back to work on the 1st of the year.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a "are you ready to rock?". :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Comics of the Week (12/17/08)

Batman and the Outsiders #14 - nice cover but the interior art was by a different artist and totally turned me off. Yuck. They need to get Calafiore and McKenna full time on the interiors or I'm dropping this title soon.

Tangent: Superman's Reign #10 (of 12) - are we there yet? This mini seems to be dragging on and on and on. I think 12 issues was a mistake. It should have been eight, which would have forced the writing to be a bit more tighter and the story more solid. It just seems like a lot of standing around and talking.

Trinity #29 - interesting technique of merging the two features (front and back) in this issue, but again we're just kind of moving at a snail's pace. I know they have 52 issues to tell this epic, but I'd like a few more high points.

DC Universe Holiday Special - the 2008 holiday special is here. 70 pages of stories that would probably be okay by themselves if sprinkled across various books or as various back-up tales. Lumped all together, though, you sort of get burned out by them. They aren't special. They're just okay. I remember a lot of classic Christmas/holiday tales in comics growing up. I think they worked a lot back then because they were not all lumped together. Ah well.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Comics of the Week (12/10/08) part 2

Trinity #28 - okay, now we get this plot moving as the closest allies of the trinity in this alternate reality make a move to track them down. This shows why these six folks are so important to the three heroes - a nice spotlight.

Justice League of America #27 - worlds collide as the Milestone characters from the early 90's fold into the DCU proper. The JLA headquarters gets invaded by Icon, Hardware and the members of the Shadow Cabinet. And even if you're not familiar with who these folks are, Dwayne McDuffie helps bring you up to speed really quickly. This looks to be a fun, exciting arc.

Secret Six #4 - the discovery of Neron's "get out of Hell free" card sparks tension among the group, and it has every major baddie on their tale thanks to the weird and wild "Junior". Once again, Gail Simone writes a perfect villains book - from the dialogue to the characterization to the whole aspect of what it is like for these costumed criminals to exist in world out to get them. Lots of fun and one of the best new DC books from 2008. If you aren't reading it, you are missing out!

Booster Gold #15 - first, how can you not love that cover? Elongated Man tying up Booster and Skeets. Perfect! Inside, the time travel chaos continues and Booster and his sister get an ally in the Stretchable Sleuth. Can they solve the mystery before time falls apart? With Ralph Dibny on the scene, you know they will! Good to see him back in action, even if it is a Ralph from the past. This is one of my favorite new DC books from 2007 and it still remains a read I look forward to each and every month.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Comics of the Week (12/10/08) part 1

Action Comics #872 - I'm not thrilled that this title began a cross-title arc with other Superman books. I don't get those, so following the story just here is a little rough at times. Things are recapped in a way but not satisfactorily enough. I hear Johns will be leaving the writing of this book soon anyway, so maybe it is time to drop it and save some money each month.

Ambush Bug: Year None #5 (of 6) - a nice parody issue of the events of Countdown, at least those pertaining to the multiverse rebirth and visitation by various heroes. I love the painting of Dan Didio as a villain as mnay fanboys feel that way about him. All in all, this series has been pretty good. One more laugh filled installment to go next month.

Final Crisis #5 (of 7) - while I liked this issue slightly better than the previous few, I figured out my problem with Grant Morrison's story. I don't care what happens. We don't have the big heroes (the Trinity, Green Lantern, etc.) in major roles. Most got knocked out of the action early on. Sure, Barry Allen came back but what has he done since then? Nothing. Disappointing. And it would help the narrative a bit if things were a little more explained. Ah well.

Final Crisis: Revelations #4 (of 5) - unlike the main story, this spinoff side tale is very clear and takes the time to really delve into its cast. We don't need a huge cast to get the story of Cain/Vandal Savage and the Spectre, as well as that of Montoya. If the main Final Crisis were as focused as this mini is, I probably would be enjoying it more.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Early Christmas Present

This holiday season we haven't felt into it yet. We haven't decorated yet, we've barely bought gifts. Just the blahs. Then this week we got an early Christmas present.

No, not the new garage door motor that we had to replace (which burned out on Sunday).

We found out this week that my son's knee has healed since the surgery he had on it back in November.

See, back in August his knee was bothering him so we took him to the orthopedic. They did an MRI and xrays and determined that blood was not getting down to the cartiledge between the thigh bone and the knee bone. For eight week he had to wear a brace to keep it immobilized (i.e. no bending). Great way to start the new school year, eh?

After eight weeks, there was little impovement. So, next was knee surgery - an out patient thing where they drilled a few holes in the bone to allow blood to flow to the cartiledge. That meant no weight bearing while it healed. That meant five long weeks of being in a wheel chair (a motorized one at school so he could get around, and a manual one for home and short trips). Of course, we have no bedroom on the first floor so he had to do a lot of scooting up and down the steps like a little kid. I had to give up my van since that is the only car big enough to transport the motorized chair (which weighs hundreds of pounds and needed heavy metal ramps to be put together each time to get the chair in and out).

So, come Friday the motorized chair goes back. We now start the process of him learning to walk again, mostly trusting he can put the weight on the leg without fear of falling.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Comics of the Week (12/4/08)

Trinity #26 - halfway point of this year-long weekly run book, and we're pretty much spinning in a rut. Still on the alternate reality, still the villains trying to get their act together, still the heroes confused and still the trinity missing. Yawn.

Terror Titans #3 (of 6) - the creative team continues to deliver on this mini series. Lots of villainy, lots of twists and turns, and the "shocking" revelation at the end of the issue is very exciting news.

Justice Society of America #21 - Gog demanded blind worship and the JSA said no! Now it all hits the fan. About time! While it played out like I expected, I appreciate all the characterization we've gotten in this arc for the ever growing cast. It is always a joy to see Jerry Ordway penciling the JSA again - takes me back to the early days of Infinity Inc. and, of course, the All-Star Squadron back in the 80's.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Shatner's Raw Nerve

I stumbled across a new television program on the Biography channel this week. William Shatner (actor, pitchman, etc.) hosts a new talk show called Shatner's Raw Nerve with new episodes airing each Tuesday night at 10pm and 10:30pm. The format is a half hour, one-on-one conversaton between Shatner and a guest. The first two shows this week were with Tim Allen and Valerie Bertinelli (now you know why I sought the show out).

The interesting thing is it is not your typical talk show. Shatner does not want to talk to them about their career or latest project or stuff like that. No, he wants to get to those "raw nerves" - to talk to his guest about those deep, difficult things in their lives. For Tim Allen, it was about his addictions (drugs and alcohol) and time in prison in his youth (for drug selling). For Valerie, it was about her past indescretions (like adultery while married to Eddie Van Halen) as well as her own addictions (to food).

What I found interesting about the discussion is that it shows these celebrities in a real, raw state. They're people. They overcome issues (or are still working on them). It about the human struggle, the human condition. I found the conversation to very enlightening at times.

Biography runs the episodes again all week long - so if you can catch one, check it out. You might find it interesting too.