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Archives, Part Sixteen (October 5, 2009 to October 15, 2009)

Compilation Review: X-Men Omnibus Vol. 1 (October 5, 2009) 

My first introduction to comics went as such: My dad came home from work, dropped a plastic bag at my feet, and said, "Got these comics for you today. Enjoy." I had no idea what these were; at the time, comics for me were Garfield and Peanuts strips in the Sunday paper. I opened the bag a little timidly at first to gaze down at an old issue of Fantastic Four, pulled it out carelessly and flipped through it... and immediately moved onto the next book.

I spent the first night with my new collection sorting the books (a nice precursor to my upcoming accounting lifestyle) and the next several reading through each and every one, with some standing out more than others. Like many of my generation, the ones that struck me most and later catalyzed my weekly addiction, were the X-Men issues. The plight of the mutants, the deep characterization, the insane stories; I had never read anything like them.

Thousands of books and several years later, I would consider many other comics from any company better reads than anything X-related, but I continue to hold a soft spot for those early Uncanny issues. So with this in mind, I flung myself wholeheartedly at the Uncanny X-Men Omnibus, which collects the earliest Chris Claremont work on the series (Giant-Size No. 1, Uncanny Nos. 94-131, and Annual No. 3). Presented in an attactive hardcover and thread bound, each issue is oversized with fully updated colors and crisp, clean whites on comfortably thick and glossy pages.

Within this tome of reprinted material are the seeds from which the rest of the X-Men franchise would grow, including, in an homage to the original run, the obligatory Magneto battle (there are several of these, actually) to display the team's (lack of) ability to work together. The Savage Land, most recently heavily displayed in last year's Secret Invasion, also plays a large role, as does Shi'Ar Space (later influencing Ed Brubaker's misbegotten run and the relaunch of Cosmic Marvel), and Muir Island (as well as the ill-fated Moira MacTaggert).

Of course, Claremont's run alongside artists and collaborators Dave Cockrum and John Byrne may be most fondly remembered for its layered introductions of some of the franchises most beloved characters: Nightcrawler, Collosus, Storm, etc., and most especially Wolverine. Originally only a villain for the Hulk to smash and mash, the character takes on a whole new shine under the writer and easily paved the way to the popularity and oversaturation seen today (however, it is now very rare to see Wolverine simply playing baseball with his friends instead of doing "what he does best," as is seen a few times during Claremont's run).

The book does a fantastic job bringing all the issues together, presenting them flawlessly and in an easy-to-read fashion that, despite its size, never feel too unweildy. Unfortunately, the Omnibus doesn't do the same with its letter columns, which are instead reproduced seemingly from scanned books, thus bearing typos, fading, and yellowing. This was later rectified in other Omnibus titles, but still stands out glaringly within Uncanny. Other extras include cover galleries of the later Classic X-Men reprints, character and cover sketches, and introductions from Stan "The Man" Lee ripped directly from the earlier Essential Uncanny X-Men volumes.

At $99.99 new, Uncanny X-Men Omnibus vol. 1's price may seem a little steep, but given a current Amazon price from $72.86 and the good liklihood a Comic Con will offer at least a 50% discount, the volume should really be a no-brainer for those, like me, who read the original Claremont run as a child and remember the carefree, yet extremely soap-opera like, atmosphere with fondness. If you've already purchased the Essentials, though, you won't find much new here.

Also to note, if you've read any of the recent X-Men Forever continuation of Claremont's epic run and either love it or wonder how the project was ever greenlit, this book might just be the one for you.

Creativity Chart No. 2 (October 6, 2009) 

I'm keeping at it! And with some improvement, despite having to study for an exam (don't worry, pretty sure I rocked it) and spending my Saturday winery-hopping. I'm not quite at the 1 hour a day mark I'd like, but its a large step up from the previous week.

Date Writing Drawing Total
September 27, 2009 35 30 65
September 29, 2009 37
37
September 30, 2009 27
27
October 1, 2009 25
25
October 2, 2009 85
85
October 3, 2009 20
20
Week Total:

259

Sanity's Flaw: Another Excerpt (October 8, 2009) 

Well, hello again. How's it going? Beautiful day, huh? Bit windy though around here. Think a tree fell down somewhere over here, too. I know my fiance's house was riddled with falling limbs and nuts during lunch... yet somehow, the dog managed to escape completely unscathed as things fells all around him.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, right. Another excerpt. You'll notice the first one, here, was completely different than what's to come now... but it's a good thing, believe me. Lots and lots of weird tricks up and down this book. Of course, this chapter and many subsequent chapters are also a bit more frustrating... you'll see what I mean. So, please to enjoy, Sanity's Flaw, Chapter Two (part one): 11:18 A.M.  

“So, Charlie… ever seen anything like this?”  

“Nope, not in my time. Too much for you, Jim?”  

“No. No, it’s not that. It’s just… I was just thinking it reminded me of that movie. That one with the guy that ate people and the other guy that dressed up in women’s skin? Anthony Hopkins.”

“Silence of the Lambs.”


“Yeah, that one. It reminds me of that. But damn, it’s a rough thing.”


“Yeah it is.”


“What was her name?”  

“Apartment’s out to Anne-Marie Barrios; it looks like her.”  

“How can you even tell, Charlie?” 
 
“Point taken.”  

“Any kids? Husband? Roommate?”  

“No kids. Neighbor said she was a pretty quiet girl but emphasized that she brought guys by sometimes, probably for a good lay. Could be she brought one home, had some of those drinks, got in that little nightie to show him a good time and he went off and attacked her. You got a theory, Jim?”  

“Maybe. But there’s still no weapon.”  

“Nope, still no weapon. And the captain says this one’s going to Procyk and Torrington, so we got what we got until they get here.” 

“They on their way?”  

“I guess.”  

“Great. Faster I can get out of this place, the better. So how was the weekend?” 

“Eh, it was alright. Sat around, watched some tube, had some dinner. You know, the usual. How about you?”  

“Went bowling.”  

“Bowling, huh? How’d you do?” 

“Shitty. Barely broke a hundred. Whatever, it was with my kids so I can say I let them win.”  

“Bumpers?”  

“I wish.”  

“How’re the kids doing anyway?”  

“They’re good. It’s almost little Jimmy’s birthday, and Dan’s actually started doing his homework on time, so, you know, they’re good.”  

“Good, good. Jim, let me ask you something.”  

“Shoot.”  

“They ever ask about what you do? Or, I mean, do you tell them some of the shit that goes down in this place? Like, just looking at this woman here, when they ask you how your day was, how could you possibly just say ‘good’ like that?”  

“Good question.”  

“Yeah.”  

“I guess I just shrug and say something like ‘I’m a cop, and I make sure the city is clean for you guys.’ Something like that. Hell, if I ever told them half the shit I’ve seen, they’d have nightmares for the rest of their lives.”  

“Got that right.”  

“Hey guys, what’s the scoop?”  

“Oh, hey Procyk.”  

“Charlie, Jim.”  

“Torrington come with you, too?”  

“Yeah, he’s right behind me, Jim. Who’s first officer? You, Charlie?”  

“Yup. Woman’s name was Anne-Marie Barrios, twenty-four, single, lives in the apartment. The neighbor, a nice old woman named Maria Alexandros, found her at nine forty two when she came out of her place and noticed the door open. She was just like this she said. Her neck’s cut, and, as you can see, the… attacker, he carved her face off.”  

“What about time of death?”  

“Some time this morning, not too long ago. Judging by the rigor and the fact that she’s still a bit warm, the med said only about three or four hours ago, so around eight or a bit earlier.”  

“Okay.”  

“And over here’re two glasses but we haven’t checked for prints yet. Could be something. They’re screwdrivers, nothing special. We’ve got a bottle of vodka over here, but we can’t know if it’s doped yet. Oh, and we don’t have a weapon. All the steak knives are on the counter in the kitchen and none of the drawers look like they were opened at all. So that’s a dead end.”  

“The neighbor didn’t see the perp, Charlie? Didn’t hear anything?”  

“Nope.”  

“Alright, tell me more about Anne-Marie.” 

 “Neighbor said she was quiet but liked to bring guys home every now and again. Typical woman, nothing too outstanding.”  

“She likes to paint.”  

“Oh, yeah. Just a hobby. We found a couple brushes, some prints, nothing too spectacular.”  

“Not a day job, then. Where’d she work?”  

“Oh, hey Torrington—the neighbor said she worked at a day care. We haven’t checked on it yet.”  

“Alright, you mind giving them a call? What was its name?”  

“You’ll never believe it, Procyk—Baby Watch.”  

“Baby Watch? You’re serious?”  

“I know, I almost chuckled when I heard it too.”  

“Alright, Baby Watch it is. Give them a call, Charlie, see what you can find out about her. Who’s shooting this one? He here yet?” 

“That’d be Joey, and no, not yet.”  

“Good, guess it’ll be up to me. Watch out, Jim.” 

“By all means, Procyk, go ahead.”  

“You know, I’ve asked you guys a dozen times to call me Tony.”  

“Yeah, sorry about that, just habit.”  

“No problem, Jim. Jesus. How’s it look, Pete?”  

“Looks like he fucking carved her up like a Christmas turkey, Tony. How’d the neighbors not hear any screaming? She had to have been screaming or doing something… damn. Jim, you know if there’s any family in the area?” 

“Still looking into it.”  

“Hurry it up.”  

“You got it, Tony.” 

“Alright, Pete, other than that beautiful reference that’s sure as shit gonna make us lose our dinners, what do you think?”  

“Well, she’s got that pretty little thing on, there’s a bottle of vodka open on the kitchen table, a couple glasses. Figure she brings the guy back, they fool around, have some drinks, maybe she says something to him he doesn’t like or something, he slits her throat, cuts her up like that, cleans up the place, and leaves.”  

“That’s pretty much what we were just saying, too.”  

“Could be, Pete, yeah. We’re gonna have to scour this place for prints, see if we can get a match on anyone. Make sure to check the fridge, too. We’ve still got to wait on Joey, though. Where the Hell is he anyway? He should be here by now.”  

“Who knows? The kid’s probably stuck in traffic somewhere. Or, you know, maybe he’s taking a picture of some chick he’s trying to impress.”  

“That kid sure is a trip.”  

“Jim, enough with the chatter, you’ve got a job to do. And listen, Tony, why don’t you go ask the neighbor what happened and I’ll handle Joey and the prints and searching. You can start up on the canvas too when you’re done.”  

“That works. You sure, Pete?”  

“Yeah, I’ve got this.”  

“Alright, but be sure to keep these guys in check—”  

“Bite me, Procyk.”  

“—I’ll be back in a bit. Oh, hey Joey, we were just talking about you. Where’ve you been?”  

“Traffic. What’s the… holy crap.”  

“What? Oh, yeah. It’s pretty bad.”  

“Holy shit. Wow. Fuck. Torrington? You in the lead?”  

“Yeah, me and Tony.”  

“Joey, you treat my partner right. Make sure you come see me if you leave soon so I can get your impression and notes. Alright?”  

“Okay, Tony. So, alright, Torrington, point me the way, man.”  

“Sure—what do you got, Joey? Some kinda girl on the side or something….”

(Please come back later this week for the rest of Chapter Two!)

Technology... sucks. (October 10, 2009)

My friend and coworker, Sean, asked me an interesting question today. He said, "Do you think the Internet does more good than bad?"

Honestly, I had a little trouble answering. Sure, the Internet has done some outstanding things for our civilization, particularly within the research and media industry. Whereas years ago, extensive library research was required for any type of in-depth reporting, a simple Google search could practically do exactly the same. Articles can then be posted to the Web immediately and be seen by millions across the globe.

It's limitless information at your fingertips. Ingenious. Wonderful.

Yet the question is valid because the Internet has done as much harm as, or perhaps more than, good. Without even breaking the topic of online pornography (Actually, have any of you seen the latest episode of Family Guy? Resident pervert Quagmire displayed perhaps one of the most memorable scenes of Internet porn discovery ever seen on television) and the widespread purveyance of sex offenders, the Internet has led to increases in crime, particularly theft, impersonation and fraud. That isn't to mention the massive effects instant access to news, statistics, and price comparisons has wrought on society.

But technology, particularly the Internet, is here to stay, so like any other massive change in the way we live, it must be adapted to no matter the consequences. Being only 23 years old, I've already seen far-reaching technological advances completely throw my world out of whack. Don't believe me? Let's look at a few examples (with handy dandy links for those who don't know what the Hell I'm talking about!)
  • The first family TV was a 23" color floor model surrounded in faux wood complete with a remote affixed permanently with a thin wire.
  • Our VCR came later, attached through the cable jack, and did not rewind the tape. For that, we had to have a separate Rewinder that sat atop the VCR.
  • Around 8 PM, the channels "changed" between programs, and some even switched off around 11 PM, turning to a static screen or otherwise.
  • Nintendo's Entertainment System (NES) was my first video game console and originally hooked up to our second TV, a 13" color screen. My first game was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game, a 2-D side-scroller more enjoyable than most games I've played since.
  • We had one phone in the kitchen. It had a cord that stretched just far enough to sit down at the dining table. An answering machine, with tapes, was next to it.
  • Our first stereo system could play only cassettes and records and had two speakers.
  • The first upgrade was the stereo system, with the new one offering a CD player (just one disc). This was later expanded by a 5-Disc CD changer.
  • After stabbing the family TV with scissors to find out what was inside, we had to buy a newer, larger one. This was 32" and was quickly joined by my own 27" screen.
  • I remember buying my first cassette. And my first CD. My first MP3.
  • Our first computer was a Gateway with a 17" monitor (tube) and no memory whatsoever. The sound of a cheetah accompanied by a video of one running attracted me to it. The entry was from Encarta.
  • I didn't have a cell phone until high school. It had a monochrome screen and no options for a wallpaper, let alone a camera, MP3 player, and whatever else is offered in phones today.
  • My first DVD player was the PS2, my first Blu-Ray player the PS3. My iPod is a fourth gen, amazingly still works, and shows lovely pictures in full color.
  • I finally have a car with keyless entry. Oh, what a wonderful thing.
Those are only some of the examples I can think of off the top of my head, an evolutionary overview of the technology I've owned. It amazes me to think, like I've done with black and white TVs, 8-Track tapes, turn-dial phones, etc., my children will look back at the technology we considered so advanced at the time and think it nothing more than a relic. They will find them at flea markets and tag sales, throw them into piles of junk when we die, and read about them in textbooks.

Of course, I'm without a doubt certain of this: technology will fail them just like it's failed us. They will smash things, they will throw them against the wall, wonder why the batteries aren't working, deal with slowdown, and absolutely hate whatever it is they're buying in twenty years time.

Though, I don't think they'll ever have to blow dust off of an NES cartridge. That's just for us.

Seriously, why did that work so well?

Creativity Chart 3 (October 15, 2009) 

Sorry for the delay on this post. I honestly would've kept to schedule if not for an unexpected... opportunity. I'll talk about this more should it pan out, but let's just say much of my available writing time was dedicated to this single piece over the last few days. That said, the second excerpt of Chapter 2 will be posted tomorrow around 12:30 EST.

Bookmark it!

Still, even without updating a thing, I pulled well ahead of my writing time from last week (though it remains a bit inconsistent... still got to work on it).

Date Writing Drawing Total
October 4, 2009 25
25
October 5, 2009 45
45
October 6, 2009 58
58
October 7, 2009 30
30
October 8, 2009 25
25
October 9, 2009 70
70
October 10, 2009 75
75
Week Total:

303

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