Friday, June 30, 2006

Weekly comics review -- Spoilers for Civil War #2 (old ones) and Civil War Frontline #2

Only one book this week (plus a Wizard magazine). So let's get right to it:

Civil War: Frontline #2 -- Disappointment. Major disappointment. This book felt more like a "let's throw a few useless stories together into one book" rather than a second issue of a limitted series. It started off ok as they continued the story of the two reporters and how they (mostly Urich and Jameson) are reacting to Spider-Man's unmasking. The art was a little weak (there was one panel of Jameson that was especially bad, where his arm looked like rubber) but it was moving along ok. Then all of a sudden I read "to be continued". What? I wasn't even half way through the book. Then a different artist comes in to tell another story. After that, we have another artist with another story. What the heck? And none of them really went anywhere. We have Speedball refusing to sign off on registering despite being incarcerated without legal representation or anything and beaten (gee, sound familiar) and we have a bunch of pages recapping what happened after Peter Parker said "any questions?" just so we can see SHIELD approach Norman Osborn. Then Ben Urich writing an article relating the fight we saw in the first story (a drunk Prodigy versus Iron Man) to an old story from Rome. Meh! So it all just seemed like a waste. It reminded me of those old useless annuals Marvel used to put out. I really hope this series gets back on track with the next issue.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

IKEA -- Why am I jinxed?

So it was off to everyone's favourite store, Ikea, for some shelving units. This is going to be a long rant so you might want to get your snacks now and go to the bathroom first.

I had picked out stuff I saw online and just in case, I picked out stuff I found in the catalogue. After going back and forth from one end of the store to the other (looking at the shelving they had in the displays at the front and the other shelving they had in other sections) I soon discovered none of what I was looking at in the catalogue or the website was there. So after a few more trips back and forth I decided to settle on another unit because I wanted it ASAP. So after writing down the aisle and bin number of the shelving and a coffee table I had my eye on I head to the back area. It's at this point that I discover the coffee table is only available in black so that's now out of the picture for now. And after some discussion with my brother and sister-in-law we come to the conclusion that there is no way the shelving units and doors will fit in the car so I'm going to have to pay the $60 in delivery. Having never done that before we ask a guy where we go for delivery and he directs us to the front cash. Ok, so I start loading up the shelves with the help of another employee. I tell him I'm making up two shelving units and ask if this is all I need (two boxes for the shelves, two for the doors) and he says yes. So it's off to the front cash where I'm told no, it's back to the delivery counter to pay for it there. Fine, it's off to the delivery counter. I pay for the items and leave but I'm wondering why it seemed quite a bit cheaper than what I was expecting. It dawns on me when I get home, there was probably only one door per box and I needed 4 for my two sets of shelving. This I will concede is partly my fault but I wish the stock guy hadn't made the same mistake I made.

So last night was the delivery (which I will remind you I paid $60 for). The two guys show up well within the 5-10pm window and all seems good. Each decides to take one shelving unit and when the first one gets to the front door he immediately starts banging the shelves into every wall and almost dropping them. So I end up having to help lug it up the stairs. He warns me that the boxes got wet (which I wasn't too thrilled about but it was raining pretty hard). Wet cardboard means weak cardboard so I have to be careful the shelving doesn't fall out. The second guy finally shows with his shelving and they lug that one up. Next comes the two doors which seemingly have no issue. So I sign it away, give them some bottled water and walk them to the door. As I'm coming back up my stairs I see that the huge mess they made of my walls. It looks like they scraped that second box (or maybe it was the doors) all the way up. It's filthy and scratched in places (luckily I haven't painted yet). And of course they didn't take the time to take off their boots/shoes so my carpet needs a good cleaning.

Then I open the second shelving unit they brought in and discover that the reason they warned me about it is obviously because this box did break open. The three main shelves have all been dropped. All three have their front corners mashed in, splintered, and full of mud and dirt (which on light coloured shelving is rather hard to hide). And most of the other pieces are wet and dirty as well. After wiping them off and taking inventory (one of the little knobs for one of the doors was missing) I decided to call Ikea. Their response, they're reluctant to send anyone out for shelving so I (not having a car and living in Orleans) have to take back the pieces that are damaged and return them. Needless to say they will be getting a piece of my mind when I do go out there. I would have been much better saving my $60 and tracking down someone with a truck and doing it all myself.

Oh well, maybe I'll go watch the new Spider-Man 3 teaser a few more times to try to cheer myself up.

Friday, June 23, 2006

One year already?

I had my visit from the housing company to go over my one year items (they send a rep out to check the items I list and then send out someone to fix them). It was going ok for the most part and he even fixed on of my issues himself (it had to do with the toilet but you don't need to know the details). Overall I was happy with it except when it came to the noise issue. The issue: I can not only hear the TV and the piano of the people below me (even up two levels in my master bedroom) but I can hear their phone ring. He says everything's to code and there's nothing they can do about it.

Then lunch time comes around and when I go to get my soy sauce that I leave in the communal kitchen area at work I find out it's gone (as is all the stuff people have left in the cabinet area). At some point somebody had moved them out of the cabinets onto the counter top. Then the cleaning staff figured they were left out as garbage so they tossed them. Two-thirds of a jar of soy sauce gone and I'm left with some pretty bland white rice. But from now on, no leaving stuff in the communal area. I'll be keeping my sauces to myself!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Weekly Comic Reviews - SPOILERS

Well, this week seemed to be all about pumping up the comic geeks worldwide (at least in two of the books I read). We have Astonishing X-Men #15, Ultimates 2 #11, and a Giant Size Hulk. And would you believe it, the Hulk book got shuffled to the bottom of my pile (for non-comic fans out there many readers put their comics in a pile as to the order they're looking forward to reading their books for the week... top of the pile is the book you most want to read). But I'll talk more about the Hulk book in the reviews. It was a toss up between X-Men and Ultimates but as a Whedon fan, I had to put Astonishing X-Men to the top. So here goes...

Astonishing X-Men #15: So this is the X-Men disassembled. In pure Hellfire fashion they simply destroy each of the core members. I won't go into the details but it is actually quite the little game they seem to be playing. Of course from Whedon's love affair with Shadowcat (and me reading that one X-Men would be left standing) I knew a little bit of what was going to happen (plus their elimination of Shadowcat was a little weak... and was Emma really counting on that?). But I got a good chuckle from that last page, an homage to the classic Wolverine in the sewer picture from the Dark Phoenix Saga (the one after the X-Men get pummelled by the Hellfire club back then). That scene is where the pumping up of comic geeks happens here. Still no idea on who the mystery member of the Hellfire Club is or which mutant Ord will want dead. With all that and the Danger Room (in that robot body), Ord, the Hellfire club all in the picture, and Wolverine thinking he's a little girl I just gotta read more. I really should buy one of those "Joss Whedon is my master now" shirts 'cause I just can't seem to get enough of his writing. Oh, and the art was good too. :)

Ultimates 2 #11: You know it had to happen. Everything seemed to point to this issue ending with Thor making is triumphant return, after all he did disappear from his cell (appearantly with a little help from Odin) or maybe Iron Man (shooting off into space to get his new armour). But nope. Of course, the presence of the Abomination was a big clue. Plus, he just had to come back. So when a man in a ball cap appears on the streets of Washington telling a giant armoured suit that he didn't travel 5000 miles to come home and be pushed around you know that blood of Hulk fans worldwide starting pumping that much quicker. And just as the rampage starts (with an intelligent Hulk so it must be after the Ultiamte Wolverine versus Hulk series) we end with the Hulk's line of "Bring it on!" Oh, and a bunch of cool stuff happened with Captain America, Henry Pym is still siding with the bad guys but he's also worried about the innocents, and Air Force One (including President Bush) was captured. Sometimes darker heroes or real world stuff doesn't work in comics and sometimes you just love seeing superheroes kick some serious arse. And right off the bat I wanted to hate this series. My whole life I've been reading stories about these comic characters and to twist them into these versions just seemed wrong on so many levels. Yet for some reason, I just can't get enough. I can't wait until the next issue. I gotta be honest, this book may have deserved top of the pile status. Oh, and the art work was good too.

Giant Sized Hulk: As I told Carl, I was upset by this book. Reasons I had to buy this book: It's the Hulk. It's got a Hulk story written by Peter David (albeit one that takes place a long time ago). It's got a Hulk story written by Greg Pak (current Hulk writer) that takes place in the current "Planet Hulk" setting. The major downside: Half the book was taken up with a reprint of the Hulk: The End special. Now I absolutely loved the End special. It had Peter David writing it (although the short story that he wrote originally seemed better somehow) and Dale Keown drawing it (big Dale Keown fan here) but I don't want to pay for it again. I know, stores under-ordered it and sold out. Fans couldn't get copies of it. Ok, do a second printing on its own, don't force it upon fans who got it already and now want these other two stories. But enough of that, the reviews. The Peter David story was pretty much your classic "Annual" story. No real advancements to the character and a moral that slaps you across the face (the Champions learn that if they had just taken a minute to talk to the Hulk they would have known he was trying to get his cousin, pre-She-Hulk Jennifer Walters, to the hospital). And the second story we see what Banner's up to inside the Hulk's brain while he's off world. We see Banner trying to convince the Hulk to leave and dealing with the Hulk's dreams which have quite a few humourous moments like when all the heroes are laughing we have BlackBolt thinking "Hee hee" (funny if you know BlackBolt's powers), Doc Strange's laughter, Wolverine's reaction to Iron Man being ripped in half ("better him than me..." which is funny considering the somewhat well known picture of the Ultimate Hulk doing the same thing to the Ultimate Wolverine), and all the heroes reacting differently to getting their butts kicked. And Banner does get his momentary appearance on Planet Hulk but in the end, the Hulk is the strongest one there is. So overall, if you don't own Hulk: The End then this is a good buy and much better than I was expecting given past Hulk annuals and specials. If you do own it, then you'll either be spending more than you should for two stories or you'll miss out on two good stories. And the art was good which is surprising considering how many Hulk annuals they've done where they seem to drag some guy off the street to draw them.

So there we have it. It was very good week for me in terms of comics but a somewhat bad day other than that. But that is another story.

Oh, and no pain in my tooth yet so my fingers are still crossed. :D

Monday, June 19, 2006

Anagram of the day

Darrell Ferguson ==> Regular fondlers

PS. Don't expect an anagram every day, I just needed a catchy title.

Trans fats

I'm no expert on the subject but after reading this I'm glad I don't eat at KFC anymore:
CTV article on trans fats in fast food

PS. And I just noticed that "fats" and "fast" are anagrams. That's kinda funny here.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Dental update and comic reviews (SPOILERS FOR CIVIL WAR #2)

I've been holding off on this post until Carl picked up his copy of Civil War #2. I didn't want to spoil it for him (even though the Washington Post and other news organizations were running the story before the book came out). Now that he has the book it will be his own fault if he keeps reading this post.

To update you on my dental condition (yes, I realize that that sounded a lot like mental condition) first. I got two fillings on Thursday, one was replacing an old one and one was on a new very large cavity. Afterwards the dentist told me that he wasn't sure if the cavity was deep enough that the filling he just put in would press on my nerve or not. If it did I would be in a lot of pain and would need a root canal. He said it should show in the following couple of days. Well, it's been two days and I'm still waiting to see. No pain yet but I have a feeling it'll kick in at some point. But fingers crossed. I think the worst part is the waiting to see if it's going to start hurting.

Anyhow, onto this week's books. We had Civil War #2 and I picked up Hip Flask: Unnatural Selection (an old book but I'm considering picking up the new Elephantmen series). So here goes (spoilers abound).

Civil War #2: The big event that Marvel leaked to news outlets including the Washington Post and Howard Stern, Spidey unmasks himself at a press conference saying "My name is Peter Parker and I have been Spider-Man since I was 15 years old. Any questions?" Wow! Now I've read some responses ranging from "Oh my god they killed the character." to "Oh it'll be retconned (ie. go back to nobody knowing his secret identity) in a month or two" and even to "Oh, big deal". That last reponse baffles me, this is Spider-Man. This is the character that took the notion of having a secret identity to the next level and put that identity to the forefront of the story. Other characters like Iron Man, Captain America, and even Daredevil don't have as much riding on their secret identities (two of which are no longer secret and the third is hanging by a wire). For Spidey to unmask is huge. So how do I feel about it? I really couldn't tell you. One minute I worry that they've taken too much away from the character that they'll eventually have to retcon it and the other minute I think of the possible immediate story ideas you could do with this. But no matter what, it's huge.

As for the book itself, more solid artwork, an interesting storyline, and the Marvel universe dividing. I can't wait to see what's next.

Hip Flask: Unnatural Selection. I wasn't as blown away by the art as some people seem to be. I didn't have any problems with it, it was cool and all but not mind blowing. The story, kinda interesting so far but there wasn't enough in this one issue for me to form a complete opinion of it. There was enough to make me want to read the next book but now the problem becomes finding that next issue in the back issues. I suppose I could look into ordering a copy from their website. :)

Oh well, until next week true believers.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Dental news and comic reviews (Spoilers for Wonder Woman only)

I'll start with the fun stuff (no, that's not the dental news). Comic reviews. This week we have Civil War: Frontline #1 (checking it out), Wonder Woman #1 (checking it out) and the latest Wizard Basic Training TPB on Storytelling.

Civil War: Frontline #1 (minimal spoilers just in case): The art was adequate. Not overly great but better than I've come to expect for offshoots of a central big event series. Despite it being a lot of talky talky it wasn't overly boring to look at. The writing was good too. It was very left wing though and I know that will turn off many. But then again, it's a story about two left wing journalists so you're bound to get that slant. My complaint about this series, stuff happens in it. Stuff that I was expecting to happen in the regular Civil War series happens here instead (or maybe it will be duplicated in Civil War). I was expecting this series to be the outside looking in (reporters discussing it from an outsider's perspective) and for the most part it was (and even some of that covered events that I didn't expect to see here) but there was a scene or two that went on the inside. So why am I complaining about stuff happening? Because I would have thought that these Civil War events would be covered in Civil War and not in the offshoot that I was thinking wouldn't be worth reading. And Spider-Man's talk with the reporter was what I was expecting from Spidey. I recommend it for the lefties who are eager to read more about Marvel's Civil War.

Wonder Woman #1: I keep wanting to give DC a try and I thought a #1 issue would be a good jumping on point. Perhaps it was but I was very disappointed. We have Donna Troy using the title of Wonder Woman while Diana is still away. We get a quick recap of Donna's origins which is good for people like me but I've been told it's been changed (I would guess this has to do with Alex Luthor's mucking around in Infinite Crisis). That would stink if I were a fan. Donna is lured into a hostage situation by some villains who hope to lure Diana out of hiding. I was surprised to see a cheetah's claws and teeth cutting into Donna so easily, I had thought she would be more immune but I guess I don't know the character too well or maybe Cheetah's cheetahs are more powerful or magical. Then for some reason she stops fighting and lets Cheetah take her lasso (Cheetah even raps it around Donna's neck for one panel and then just walks away with it in the next???). This all confused me. In the end, Donna is defeated by Dr Psycho's little illusions, some guy named Nemesis reveals himself to the reader (I guess he was supposed to be dead), and a woman named Diana Prince (an alias Wonder Woman used to use) and who looks an awful lot like Wonder Woman (even having a costume similar to one "Diana Prince" used to wear) is assigned as his partner to watch over human/superhuman relations. All in all, too many winks and nods to old hardcore fans for newbies and not even substance to get me hooked.

Wizard Basic Training: Storytelling. Huge disappointment once again. Over half the book is once again reprinting stuff from their previous books (mainly the first one). They even throw in drawing sound effects as part of storytelling. I'd still like to see more of the original Bart Sears stuff (rather than this new guy). There's a lot of good stuff in there but it's another slap in the face for people who bought the earlier books. If you're going to put out multiple volumes at least have them contain different stuff.

And for the dental enthusiasts out there. After avoiding the dentist for 18 months (so yeah, what I'm about to say is for the most part my own fault) after going throught he usual routine and being complimented on just how good everything seems to be considering it's been 18 months I get hit with a whopper. When looking at the X-rays they see a doozy of a cavity in one of my molars. We're talking a root canal most likely. The two that were looking were surprised by just how fast it progressed, from nothing 18 months ago to this (and yet everything else seemed ok other than one minor cavity). Needless to say I'm not too happy with this turn of events.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Weekly comics review - Spoilers

Sometimes an accident can lead to the discovery of something wonderful. Last night when the girl working at Subway accidentally put dijon mustard on my italian BMT instead of regular mustard was NOT one of those times. YUCK!!!

This week's reviews: The Incredible Hulk, The Thing, and The Great and Secret Show.

Hulk: Recap of the issue... Silver Surfer captured and depowered, Surfer fight Hulk and Hulk's friends, Hulk smash thing being used to depower Surfer and keep him under their control, Hulk declared winner of 3rd battle so deserves freedom but doesn't get it, Surfer destroys all the devices used to enslave the people, Hulk and team go on rampage, Hulk declines Surfer's offer to take him away. Other than the fill in pages that recount the Surfer's past and how he got here the art looked nice. And it was nice to see both sides of the fight being given credit (despite being depowered the Surfer was kickin' some butt and the Hulk did give him a bit of an impressive pounding). All in all I'm still liking the Hulk book but this issue just seemed so choppy in parts. I'm thinking it's more to do with the writing because on one page you have the slaves causing a riot and you flip the page and they're all standing outside talking. I kept flipping back to see if I missed something. Perhaps this was partly the artist's fault (maybe they weren't supposed to be standing around all calm and chatty but actually talking in the midst of the riot) but I'm not sure and for now, I just see it as a problem. Also, the Hulk's dialog seems to have him less intelligent than the Hulk that Peter David left off with. But it's still better than the mute Hulk that Daniel Way seemed to be writing. It's still a series I'd recommend.

The Thing: This series just keeps going downhill for me and it's a shame because I've loved so much of Slott's work up until this point. The art is a little week again in this issue but the biggest complaint is that this series is becoming more and more a Marvel Age/kiddy book. Now I encourage books to be available to children but this one just crosses the line for me from a book that everyone can enjoy to one that only 12 and under could get anything out of. Not recommending this series any more though the last issue (yes, it's ending) is supposed to be the big poker game.

The Great and Secret Show: So we've finally moved into the present and the story is progressing. The problem, from all the flashbacks and such we're being hammered with all these characters in a short amount of time and it can be difficult to track, "so he's the daughter of who now?" The art remains really enjoyable. It's cartoony but in a good way. But again, after finishing the book I had to flip through to make sure I didn't miss anything because it just seems that I'm not getting a full issue for some reason. Although when I look back at it, quite a bit happens so it's a little weird in that way. Still, I'd recommend this book especially for Clive Barker fans.

So that's it for this week.