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Archive for March, 2006

Four!

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Prompted by a post on someone else’s blog, Terry and I recently tried to pinpoint what we thought was the happiest day in each of our lives. And we both came to the same conclusion: March 16, 2002, when we became parents for the first time. (Very, very close second goes to January 8, 2004, but you only become first-time parents once.)

Happy birthday, pun’kin!

Kelsey at one week old: Kelsey at four years old:

(Oh, and happy 39th birthday to Lauren Graham, too!)

Written by Allen

March 16th, 2006 at 11:27 am

Posted in General

Vaughan-ucopia!

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As much as I love the Internet and all of the little conveniences it offers us on a daily basis, those conveniences can sometimes rob us of some of the little pleasures of that long-ago era before Information Overload set in. Case in point: Most of the time when I order something online these days, I have the benefit of being able to track the shipment from the moment it leaves the warehouse to the moment it arrives on my doorstep. As groovy a technological advancement as that is, it means I rarely get the little thrill I got last night: coming home to see a package on my front porch that I’d completely forgetten was out there. (One of the advantages of taking the cheapest possible shipping method, of course, is that it offeres plenty of time to forget about the order.)

My boy Timmy B had gotten me an Amazon.com gift certificate for my birthday, but (somewhat unusually for me), I hadn’t found anything to spend it on until last week. I’d looked and looked, but nothing had come to mind. I was thinking about getting something about PHP or programming, but that didn’t seem awfully birthday-like, and I didn’t think Tim would’ve thought a book that might help my career was quite in the spirit of the gift certificate. So I finally decided to find a comics trade paperback or two to get (which I’m betting Tim had in mind to begin with)…

…and wound up with a Brian K. Vaughan-ucopia!

Arriving last night were Ex Machina, Volume 2: “Tag”; Y, the Last Man, Volume 3: “One Small Step” and Volume 4: “Safeword”, all written by Vaughan, who’s quickly become my current favorite comics writer (thanks to those series and the phenomenal Runaways). The earlier volums of both Y and Ex Machina were fantastic, so I have no reason to doubt these will be any different.

Vaughan’s something of my hero right now in comics because each of his projects is so different from the others and each is tremendously well-written. From the teenage superheroics of Runaways to the political intrigue (plus some superheroics) of Ex Machina to the speculative sci-fi of Y, The Last Man…even his run on Ultimate X-Men, all of it’s been quality. I’m not saying the guy can do no wrong, but he sure hasn’t done much wrong recently. I’m pretty sure that when I grow up, I want to be Brian K. Vaughan. Except that I think I’m already older than he is. And I like having hair. (I’m afraid there’s some unspoken requirement that all comics writers (or all the good ones, anyway) must be bald; I certainly need to look into that before I pursue that route much farther.)

I think I’m going to dig up my review for Ex Machina, Volume 1 and post that here tomorrow since Comicgeekz isn’t accessible to the public right now. So that’s something for y’all to look forward to.

Written by Allen

March 7th, 2006 at 9:49 pm

2006 Oscar Wrapup

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So apparently I underestimated just how badly Hollywood wanted to fellate itself.

In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprised. When all four of the acting awards went to the favorites, I should have realized that Crash would win Best Picture. Like I said yesterday, every year something bizarre and surprising happens; I thought Brokeback Mountain was such a lock that the surprise would have to come from one of the acting categories. That’s why I picked Amy Adams and Paul Giamatti to win. [1] Once Reese Witherspoon picked up her Oscar, I should have known that Brokeback wasn’t going to win.

And no, this wasn’t an anti-gay thing. This was the Academy voters, most of whom live and work in Los Angeles, responding to the big racial message movie which was set right there in Los Angeles: “Look at us! We’re sensitive! Here in L.A., we recognize that we have problems with racism! …please love us?”

(Maybe we’d love you more if you actually gave the best movie of the year the Best Picture Oscar, but hey.)

How’d I do with my picks? Pretty well overall, I thought: I missed Best Picture (I guess the Gay Cowboy Hype Train stopped a little short of the station) and both supporting acting awards, but nailed everything else.

Some random notes that occur to me twenty-four hours after the fact (haaaa ha ha hah…what do you mean, write these ideas down when I have them? are you insane?):

  • We didn’t see (or, at least, I didn’t see) Jack Nicholson actually open the envelope before pronouncing Crash the winner of the Best Picture award. While I’m sure he did — I’m assuming someone would have noticed if he hadn’t — I immediately started conjuring up visions of Jack deciding he’d be goddamned if he let that movie about the queer cowboys take home that Best Picture Oscar and taking matters into his own hands. But surely someone would have caught on to that… right?
  • And while we’re on the subject of Jack: I wonder who he had to pay off to get himself seated right next to Keira Knightley. I’m thinking his sitting there wasn’t a simple coincidence.
  • I liked Jon Stewart as host, certainly far better than I did David Letterman or Chris Rock, for example. I know not everyone did, but to me he was what I expected: Jon Stewart a little watered down for the mass audience. He seemed pretty nervous at first, which is understandable when you think about the hundreds of millions of people watching him live, but even so, he still got off some classic lines: “Martin Scorcese, zero Oscars. Three 6 Mafia… one.”
  • Speaking of the Three 6 Mafia, I was thinking that watching them perform “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” was quite possibly the highlight of my Oscar-watching career… right up until they actually won Best Song, which topped the surreality of that moment several times over. (Which led, of course, to one of Stewart’s best lines of the night: “I think it just got a little easier out here for a pimp.”
  • Did Jennifer Lopez lose a bet with her stylist? What the hell was that?
  • On the other hand, Ben Affleck’s current Jen, Jennifer Garner, looked positively radiant. And can I just say… three cheers for nursing mommies! Hip hip… HOORAY! Hip hip…
  • So let’s see… the acting awards tonight went to Dr. Doug Ross of “ER”; the female lead from The Mummy and The Mummy Returns; the chubby, gonzo hurricane chsser from Twister; and the star of the Legally Blonde movies. The writing awards? To the creator of “Walker, Texas Ranger” and… well, okay, it’s hard to make too much fun of Larry McMurty. But still: remember, kids… you’ve gotta start somewhere.
  • Memoirs of a Geisha won Oscars for costume design, art direction and cinematography, all of which I could have predicted just from watching the trailer. So, based on the reviews I’ve read, we can assume that Geisa is a lavish, beautifully designed, gorgeously filmed visual carnival — yet still a shitty movie nonetheless. It’s like my daddy always used to tell me: you can’t polish a turd.
  • Did someone forget to clue Dustin Hoffman in to the fact that the Oscars are considered kind of a formal event? I think you probably could’ve worn the jeans to the Independent Spirit Awards, Dusty, but they were a little cazh for the Oscars.

There’s more, including some vague notion that I was supposed to say something about the apoplectic caterpillars masquerading as Reese Witherspoon’s eyebrows, but it’s late and I’m tired. Next year I won’t have to worry about forgetting my snark because I’ve already decided to live blog the thing. Constantly updated snark and commentary! It’ll be beautiful. Almost as beautiful as Jennifer Garner’s bounteous breasts.

[1] Truthfully, I had Clooney down to win Best Supporting Actor originally, but changed it to Giamatti on the hopes that the Academy would make up for their egregious error last year of not even fucking nominating the man for his fantastic performance in Sideways. Silly me.

Written by Allen

March 6th, 2006 at 11:48 pm

Posted in Movies,Pop Culture

Monday Photo: Piano

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I sincerely hope that my children grow up to be musically inclined. Terry and I are going to encourage them both as much as we can to play any instruments they find interests them (without pushing music on them if they’re not interested, of course). They’ve got a good shot at having some talent: their mother sings and plays guitar very well, as did her father, and their dad… well, kind of hacks around at a variety of instruments without being all that great at any of them, but sure tries. Kelsey’s got fantastically long fingers which would be great for playing piano or guitar, or, more suiting her nature, the harp; Laurel’s going to be the drummer for some industrial metal band, I’m pretty sure.

Written by Allen

March 6th, 2006 at 2:57 pm

Posted in Photography

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I came across the following quote today in a new column from “Bablyon 5″ head honcho/Amazing Spider-Man writer J. Michael Straczynski at Newsarama, and I thought that a number of people who read this site might benefit from it as much as I’m sure I will. Much of it is “yeah, yeah, okay, I’ve heard that a million times before,” but maybe it’s the millionth-and-first time that will change some small but critical pathway in my/your brain and make it resonate in a new way.

Your only real competition…is with yourself, with your fears, your insecurities, your determination to learn what needs to be learned; your willingness to apply ass to chair and fingers to keyboard and Get It Done instead of Talking About It. Too many beginning writers leave their stories forever unfinished because as long as the work is incomplete…it can’t be judged. Write. Finish it. Write the next thing. Rinse, repeat. Learn as much as you can. Write as much as you can. Because the more you write, the better you will write. It’s no different than any other muscle. Exercise it, and it becomes stronger.

Written by Allen

March 6th, 2006 at 2:35 pm

Posted in Writing