More notes from an at-home vacation

While staying home for a week has been therapeutic for me, it doesn’t really offer much sizzle for the ole web log.  Here’s what I’ve been up to lately:

BLACKHAWKS vs. SHARKS, United Center 3/25/09
I hadn’t been to a Blackhawks game in years, and last night’s Chicago/San Jose match was the perfect game to bring me back to the United Center.  High-scoring game…a blown lead…victory determined by shoot-out…a great night for hockey.

I’ve been reading whichever trade paperbacks my local library has available, to mixed results.  The most pleasant surprise came from Peter David’s “X-Factor Volume 1:  The Longest Night.”  David’s an extraordinary talent; I still have fond memories of road tripping in the early 90s and listening to the book-on-audiocassette version of his ST:TNG novel “Imzadi” for most of the trip.

I was initially turned off from borrowing the book because of its ties to the starved-for-new-ideas Marvel mutant/”X” universe.  While the characters in “X-Factor” and some of the plot points do pull from the greater Marvel mutant world, David’s “X-Factor” is readable on its own.  Rare, these days, is the title that doesn’t require scholarly knowledge of the dense, muddy, continuity that countless hack writers have taken years to pile on to.  In this iteration of “X-Factor,” the team is a dysfunctional band of hardboiled detectives whose characters have been blessed with David’s peerless ability to fully flesh out and develop personality traits and quirks.  The art’s top-notch, too.  This is must-read superhero stuff.

And I now officially forgive Peter David for blowing off an interview for my late “STUN!” comics podcast.

Another “staycation” read for me was the first TPB volume of “The Invisibles,” a Vertigo title I avoided for well over a decade simply because it was written by Grant Morrison.  Morrison’s easily one of the most overrated writers in the medium, a fact made all the more apparent by the overblown, unnecessary, and flat-out awful “Final Crisis” mini (maxi?) series he recently penned for D.C.  

“The Invisibles” is far more satisfying than I had expected, though I had set the bar fairly low.  For the entire time I was reading it, I couldn’t help but feel like I was reading a more British version of “The Matrix.”  By the time I was finished, I was absolutely convinced that the Wachowskis stole the concept from Morrison.  After some Googling, that appears to be the case.  Apparently I missed the controversy when it first started kicking up.

If you’re going to take a week off in Chicago, why not spend it like a tourist?  I went to the Field specifically for dinosaurs, meteors, and pirates, and I hit the relic trifecta.  There’s nothing quite like seeing pirate treasure in M-ARRRR-ch.

Since his recent dismissal from terrestrial radio, Carolla hasn’t missed a beat, podcasting daily from his California home.  The move has only served to increase his stock and viability: his is now the top podcast on iTunes.  For 99% of the world, podcasting isn’t a business.  However, there’s every reason to believe that someone like Carolla can successfully monetize the new RSS-based show.  Until the dollars come in, it’ll be interesting to see how committed he is to cranking out the daily episodes.  It would be easy to fall behind when there’s no pressure beyond “letting the fans down.”  In any event, the show has been extremely listenable, and I’ve always been a fan of his.  I spent plenty of nights running “Loveline” tapes at Q101, amazed with and humbled by the turn-on-a-dime knockout punchlines Carolla was able to deliver.  Sure, there was value to what Dr. Drew had to say, but the show’s real strength came from Carolla’s interjections:  “Listen Drew, he’s whacking it to pictures of his mom.  Don’t you think that’s a problem?”

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