Monday, August 30, 2004

School work can be a bitch sometimes, but it sounds like you've really got your hands full. I hope you find a way to manage everything and get yourself some time to relax and ski with Chris. It sounds like you could really use it for a few days, and I can only imagine you must both be looking forward to the trip.

Best of luck with the assignments. It sucks when so many are due with such bad timing. I know that pain, and you have my sympathies. I have every confidence you'll make a damn good go at it, and hopefully you'll manage something worthy of your abilities. If not, I hope you're able to pull it off one way or another, and get to hit the slopes and blow off some steam!

I'm sorry to hear about your Nan, and that things don't look good. I hope her coming home provides a comfort, and that her prognosis improves.

I really hope you're able to organise things perfectly, if that's what it'll take to make a visit home happen. I'd love to meet Chris, and likewise for you to meet Jill. I'm planning to propose soon, and just got her parents' enthusiastic blessing. Please keep it under your hats, of course. :)

We went out in a tandem sea kayak in Rockport yesterday, and found it suprisingly easy to use as it was a first for both of us. After paddling several miles along Cape Ann (only several feet above some of my favorite spots to dive for lobster), we took a breather and climbed one of the the 6 story lighthouses on Thatcher Island (with the keeper's permission. The view from the balcony below the lantern was truely spectacular, as it was a hot, humid summer day, the water was unusually transparent and blue, the mainland was over a mile away, and both the boaters and gulls were taking full advantage of the strong breeze that kept us a full 10 degrees cooler than the poor saps stuck sweltering in Rockport.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

School is a neverending monster that I can't seem to hurdle. At the moment I am in the midst of assignments and research. It is both detious and really boring. Although I did find a completely irrelevant article on cephelad mechanical ventelation in sheep today... Of course the dissected the sheep into little pieces at the end of the research project and published the details.
On top of everything happenng with school my Nan had a stroke the week before last. It was originally minor, but it appears she may have had a small aneurysm that has continued to bleed (doesn't help that her quack doctor left her on her blood thinning medication) and though she is expected to come home next week I don't think her long-term prognosis is a good one.
I am also supposed to be going skiing this coming weekend, but with my Nan the way she is and the complete lack of 'completeness' in my assignments at the moment I don't know how feasible it is going to be. Chris will be gutted if I can't make it . I hope I can pull it out over the next few days and make the trip (We've been planning since Feb this year). It will mean doing one assignment in about 3 days but hey - I'll give it a go...
I am a bit down - if this post doesn't give it away. School will be leading onto work and if I can't manage to organise things perfectly there is no way I'm going to be able to make a trip home at the end of the year. Which sucks - cause I really miss everyone and would love for Chris to meet everyone and for everyone to meet him.
Arggh! --- going back to work now...

Boy, this plce is spooky when no one else is around.
School is a neverending monster that I can't seem to hurdle. At the moment I am in the midst of assignments and research. It is both detious and really boring. Although I did find a completely irrelevant article on cephelad mechanical ventelation in sheep today... Of course the dissected the sheep into little pieces at the end of the research project and published the details.
On top of everything happenng with school my Nan had a stroke the week before last. It was originally minor, but it appears she may have had a small aneurysm that has continued to bleed (doesn't help that her quack doctor left her on her blood thinning medication) and though she is expected to come home next week I don't think her long-term prognosis is a good one.
I am also supposed to be going skiing this coming weekend, but with my Nan the way she is and the complete lack of 'completeness' in my assignments at the moment I don't know how feasible it is going to be. Chris will be gutted if I can't make it . I hope I can pull it out over the next few days and make the trip (We've been planning since Feb this year). It will mean doing one assignment in about 3 days but hey - I'll give it a go...
I am a bit down - if this post doesn't give it away. School will be leading onto work and if I can't manage to organise things perfectly there is no way I'm going to be able to make a trip home at the end of the year. Which sucks - cause I really miss everyone and would love for Chris to meet everyone and for everyone to meet him.
Arggh! --- going back to work now...

Boy, this plce is spooky when no one else is around.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

How's school Kiwi? Are you done yet?

Monday, August 23, 2004

Aside from the thunderstorm on saturday, it was a lovely weekend for whitewater rafting on the Deerfield river. The innertube and beer float down the lower river was a definate highlight.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Saw the Polyphonic Spree at the Paradise last night. Hell of a good show... there must have been 20 or more musicians in multicolor robes thrilling the crowd with high-energy feel-good music that reminded me of a cross between the Flaming Lips and old Pink Floyd. Aside from the drums/bass/keys/guitar you might expect, they also had a harp, french horn, flute, violin, trombone, trumpet, percussionist, and a 9 part chorus.

I highly recommend it... they put on a great show, and everyone in the place was drenched in sweat afterward.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A black bear was found passed out at a campground in Washington state recently after guzzling down three dozen cans of a local beer, a campground worker said on Wednesday.

"We noticed a bear sleeping on the common lawn and wondered what was going on until we discovered that there were a lot of beer cans lying around," said Lisa Broxson, a worker at the Baker Lake Resort, 80 miles northeast of Seattle.
The hard-drinking bear, estimated to be about two years old, broke into campers' coolers and, using his claws and teeth to open the cans, swilled down the suds.
It turns out the bear was a bit of a beer sophisticate. He tried a mass-market Busch beer, but switched to Rainier Beer, a local ale, and stuck with it for his drinking binge.
Wildlife agents chased the bear away, but it returned the next day, said Broxson.
They set a trap using as bait some doughnuts, honey and two cans of Rainier Beer. It worked, and the bear was captured for relocation.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Monkey Flings Its Feces.

Aaron DeGraff, aka Posty Monkey sent me a review of the movie Farenheit 9/11 so I thought I'd share with the class.

Sully, since I often take a gander through your blog and such, and it is a rare occasion for me to write about anything, i thought i might submit to you my personal thoughts and review of his movie, just in case you might find it of interest....just so you know, I didn't cover all thoughts i had, because I probobly could have gone on for another 20 pages easily, but i just put in the parts that i felt were large and very valid issues.
Ok, so, it was a long weekend in the sense that a friend from the homeland (Nebraska, a.k.a. chrisitian-rightwing-central), was visiting me this weekend.  Basically, this girl is as far right on the spectrum as you get.  And we discussed all manners of politics, and I sorta forced her to go see Michael Moore's film, on the basis of, it is being discredited without knowledge of what is to be discredited.  After seeing it, I even discredited a good portion of it due to his manipulation through emotions, gore and misrepresentation.  If you care to hear my analysis of the movie and the impact it had on my person, read below.
First off, Moore shouldn't have included anything about the election, in my personal opinion.  That was debated, decided, and that was an entire situation that was unfortunate, but sadly couldn't have been determined in any way that would have left the country in an agreeable state.  He did put information in it that the country did not see or know of, for instance, the riots on his initial ride to the White House, the egging of his limo, the fact that he was the first president not to actually walk "home".  Interesting food for thought there.  But nonetheless, the election information could have been done without.
From this point on, all parties watching this movie should understand that it is extremely slanted, this is in no way a documentary.  Moore uses manipulation, misinformation and emotions to sway your opinion rather than using fact and reasoning.  With that in mind, this movie is excellent to watch, bearing those thoughts in mind.  On a side note though, I found it to be excellent that he portrayed his film in that light though, for one and one reason only: The Bush Administration did the same thing to us for the past several years now.  And what would you consider worse, being manipulated by one man's opinion, or being manipulated by your commander in chief and his staff?  Consider that question very carefully, it should weigh very heavily on the minds of the people who discredit this movie without even seeing it, and on the minds of those who see it and still discredit it.  If you must discredit one, wouldn't you discredit the other, and when the other is the leader of your country, wouldn't that worry you?  I am by no means a supporter of Kerry, I don't believe he would make a great president, nor would our 10% of the vote Nader, but in this situation, which is the worse of evils?  Sorry for the ramble, but I feel that is a point that is lost on so many people.  Manipulation is wrong, the republicans say Moore's movie is wrong for that reason, but do they realize the hypocrisy?
Now, after the election material has finished and the crap has been passed, now comes fact and correlation.  The entire Bush family has ties with the Saudis and Bin Laden family.  There is no question, no repudiation, that is absolute fact.  Also an absolute fact, of the two major reasons we invaded Iraq, one we were told that Saddam and Al Quaeda were linked, but only by a trail of money.  Al Quaeda was also greatly funded by the same people who are so closely tied to the Bush family, the Saudis.  Now using Saddam's ties to the Al Quaeda as an excuse to invade, when the Bush family themselves could be considered tied to Al Quaeda, shouldn't that stand out as hypocrisy also?  The other major reason for invading were the ever worrisome letters "WMD".  I can understand our reasoning, to a certain extent, why would could believe there were WMD's.  Saddam lied to us for years about his weapons, so understandably, we could infer that he was still lying.  Even with this information, the fact that he was allowing inspectors access in his country, that should have been reason enough for us to not attack.  There was good faith in what he was doing, even if we had no faith, our legal system in the US would provide that we would have to exhaust our belief in them before any action could be taken otherwise.  Instead, on information that later was revealed to the public as "less than accurate", our president would have had us believe that the weapons did exist, and in some American's minds, still do exist.  So now, as we can see that we were lied to about his weapons capabilities, Bush has had just as significant links to Al Quaeda as Saddam did, and the fact that Saddam never actually attacked us, what reasoning was there for our attack on Iraq?  Any justification you can bring up on that matter sickens me.  All I need to use to destroy your justification is the number of human lives taken for reasons we can no longer begin to fathom.  And if another person tries to tell me that we are giving them freedom, then fuck you, yeah, death is freedom, but they didn't ask for it.  Just because our great patriot, Patrick Henry, said, "Give me Liberty or Give me Death," doesn't mean we are justified to lay that concept on a different culture.  A bit of a stretch, but that would be like saying all men in every country should be circumcised to avoid infection, we're liberating you from certain infection.  Does that mean we have the right to force that down someone else's throat?  No.
Now, I pay close attention to our political system and what is going on, but the movie did in fact enlighten me in some respects.  For instance, the terror alerts we keep receiving, going from high (red) to sorta high (orange), I have no idea what the system actually is because I took it as a load of crap, but the movie discussed the psychological effects it has on humans.  When you are constantly being told you are in mortal danger, that does in fact cause you to be on edge, and more willing to support an action that says will alleviate you of that fear.  If you are in the US, and had an attention span for any news source, you know just how often the terror alert was changed, and how often you would hear that there is an imminent danger of terrorist attack.  In reality, how many times was there actually cause for that type of hysteria?  Very very few.
A large part of the movie dealt with the money trail, and as often as the republican party ignores those money trails, and attempts to bury them, every American should have that information when they are weighing the decision of who they want to run their country.  To not have that information, whether it be valid or not, is misleading.
As much as I may sound like I am preaching, I want you to understand, I am not in opposition of the Republican party, I am in opposition of Bush.  If the republican's made a choice for a different candidate to run for president, I wouldn't be as adverse to their candidate taking the election (can't say I wouldn't because I am against almost all politicians).  But as it stands, to vote for Bush in the coming election would be folly.  If he is in the White House, can you imagine him doing any good for the next 4 years with the opposition our country has for him?  If he is elected, what can he accomplish anymore.  The senate and house are going to be wary of siding with him, the American people are going to be so divided, he will only accomplish his own agenda that, as president, he has the power to force.  And if that is the case, is that really what our president should be, a man who's only power comes through that of force?  Isn't that what we "liberated" the Iraqis from?
I encourage anyone who was able to wade through this to provide feedback about any/everthing.  Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to criticize me, praise me, or just banter with me.  The only way our country can really be enlightened about what is happening is through communication.  As much of a spouting-asshole-shitbag Michael Moore is, he has at least provided a great counterpoint to the Bush administration.

Monday, August 16, 2004

The hurricane that trashed Florida is making things a little bumpy out on the ocean, so we're postponing the recon dives until Friday.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Unfortunately, Jan and I got bumped off this U boat trip, and are fre first on line for the next run... hopefully this summer.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Hitman by Garth Ennis and John McCrea
DC Comics/DCU
A Complete Series in Sixty Issues

Hitman TBP Vol. 1

Since I was incessantly jabbering on about Alan Moore’s brilliant and much ballyhooed “Saga of the Swamp Thing” run, I thought I’d lend the Mind’s Eye another gander at what happens when a character is placed into the hands of a seemingly evil and mad, mad person. Allow me to introduce to you Tommy Monnahan. The Hitman. “Hero” for Hire. Has X-Ray vision and telepathy from an incident with an Alien. The “Bloodlines” cross-over event. Oh and he kills superpeople. For money. Only “bad guys” though. Ennis & McCrea have done their worst to us as readers here and its only warning is lack of the Comics Code. These partners in crime are responsible for this mess. Perhaps it is the water supply across the Pond. Not enough citrus conceivably. Just in case I’m going back and re-reading the Marvel Knights and MAX Punisher by Ennis. McCrea does have a spot here and there. Garth’s paired with Steve Dillon, his erstwhile partner on PREACHER and John Constantine: Hellblazer, on most of the MK Punisher. John McCrea has a similar bond in being the best person to convey this Ennis scripted cacophony of bones, bullets and Capes.

Hitman is convention breaking. Taking a seeming “regular” story and then making into a distortion of what is expected…besides the “good” guys walking away from impossible situations. A snide-talking, tough guy who hangs out in an Irish bar. It’s rock solid adventure and a wild shoot-em-up. Grievous head wounds. First appearance in the Demon as Jason Blood welches on Monnahan’s 2 million dollar bounty & payday. Something that’ll come back to haunt Blood later on.

100,00 Bullets

Tommy received an interview for JLA membership in one drive for warm bodies to protect the Earth (JLA #5, 1997 also in TPB #2 “American Dreams” by Grant Morrison). He was dismissed but stated that he can die happy because he only came up to check out Wonder Woman with his x-ray vision (he also “warned” Aztek on the way out of the open JLA audition “don’t mention money…that don’t like that”). Tommy had previously had a special “team-ups” with our GL and Batman...

Batman team up

...making him suited for the League. The kind of team-ups that reminded me of Daredevil and the Punisher. Also a late night rooftop conversation with Superman was a treat musing on power, responsibility and general themes found in the JLA run “Pain of the Gods” wherein the personal lives of each leaguer is examined when it comes to on-the-job causalities, an unfortunate commonality in their line of peace-keeping. The Superman issue ends in the classic Hitman fashion after Superman signs a magazine for Tommy. A thanks for listening. It’s in the background, framed in the bar.

Local Heroes, teaming up with Green Lantern.

His girlfriend? The almost obligatory love/hate with the police detective out to get him. Deborah Tiegal serves as “reality relief” seeing the whole thing is pretty much comic relief. His sidekick. Call him that and he’ll pass you your spleen. Tommy’s best friend makes his reluctant “sidekick” for lack of better taxonomy, Natt the Hat. An over-weight African-American, ex-Marine friend of Monaghan’s who’s got the Hitman’s back and who on his mother’s death bed promised never to use cuss words again. Natt’s mouth is fitting to this title. Baytor. I can’t say enough about him except…Baytor. Ringo, friend and competitor hitman. Sixpack, a failed superhero or delusional drunk in pajamas? Tommy is thrown in with Catwoman and Etrigan. He is in based in Gotham City. He’s perhaps a madcap DCU interpretation of the Punisher. Batman has equal difficulty with him as Daredevil does with the Punisher in the House of Ideas. Reading as much Ennis as I have I feel he’s truly at “home” penning the Demon Etrigan.

The comparison with Moore’s Swamp Thing is only skin deep but the interaction with DCU Superheroes and UberVolk is hilarious and good-natured…ahh heck with it, Tommy is a mean sumbitch and it can be mean-spirited in places but really fun. Ennis is almost pathological creating vile and deranged villains to throw at his “heroes” from Ma Gnucci in the Punisher to Herr Starr in PREACHER. The Siamese Twins well, consistent Ellis. Five trade paperbacks collection up to issue #28. The Comics Gnome mercilessly hustled down the rest. The Annuals. The Specials. The One Million. As the result of DC’s “Bloodlines” crossover event making new heroes and villains and seeing what is left, it’s no wonder why the Hitman was left standing. With a smoking gun in his hand. Starting in the Demon Annual #2 (introduction) and Batman Chronicles #4, the Bloodlines and Contagion even crossovers respectively, TPB #1 collects these two issues and the first three of the Hitman funnybook. Well Tommy Monaghan and Swampy do have another thing in common; they both get one over on the Batman just doing their thing. It also is Garth Ennis’ America. One part he had was PREACHER but Hitman really seems to have hit a nerve when it comes to my “Ugly American”-O-Meter. The burger joint itself screams out to me. I haven’t seen great and honest send up of Americans by a funnybook writer & artist since Akira Toriyama’s “Mitsua Sataan” from his Dragonball manga. And per the course is Garth’s usual distain for the French.

Hitman’s snide sense of humor and bold illustration remind me of the late 1980’s DC Mature “The Shadow” scribed by Andy Hefler and illustrated first by legend Bill Sienkeiwisz and later by the brilliant Kyle Baker. Hitman, as that Shadow run, seems a bit over looked. The Comics Gnome gave it brand recognition with the Ennis Trademarked Evil and dubbed it a Fun Lunatic Ride. Akin to an old movie, Ennis has to watch his tongue playing so deep in Disney Land here. The Patented grievous head wounds do seem to smuggle their way in here as much as possible. At least 5 in the Demon Annual #2. Phrases like “I think I’ve prolapsed”, “chainsaw suppository” or “Satan’s Ringpiece” colorfully and without blatant offensive vulgarity make the reader grin with delight now armed with idioms to repeat in public without much ado. I’ve always been a big fan of creative use of vulgarity and to slip it superfluously too. Nothing more base than the mouth of a common miscreant. Ennis has the mouth of an extraordinary vulgarian.

Six-Pack, the super-hero patron saint of the pieces of toilet paper that get caught to one’s heel, actually has his own team, Section Eight. This in itself needed its own title as a bizarre counter to the JLA. A team of losers, never-coulds and rejects. Not to mention Bueno Excellente and how he vanquishes evil with his powers of perversion. Bueno. Friendly Fire, Dog Welder, Jean de Baton-Baton (the fore mentioned French frying). Ringo, his non-meta counterpoint in profession and their deep respect bordering on the Bushido. Horrific themes repeat in the Ennis Body; loss of eyes, savage torture and butchery with precision, castration, two in the head.

Over in sixty issues. Reminiscent of “PREACHER” and the Punisher in many ways. Same Garth Ennis and his very imaginative uses of the DCU. The Marvel Knights Punisher was Marvel Universe Terra Firma as well bringing in fair usage of Spider-Man, Wolverine, Daredevil the Hulk. Here, Ennis has the same free range with the Green Lantern, Batman, Catwoman and Superman. Silly, bloody but well-told stories. Ennis puts the “fun” back in “funnies” with pulpy and graphic tales of violence for the sake of entertainment. Friendship, respect, sticking by your friends through thick & thin. And kicking as much ass and not taking any shit along the way. It’s like a Western in the Big City. Tommy Monnahan is about an Urban Cowboy as one can get. Outlaw, rogue, knavish. And it is sad story to boot. Is it Butch & Sundance or riding off into the sunset, it is an Urban Western still.

Something to read on your way to where you’re going. And make sure no elderly ladies can read over your shoulder. Just a shame that no further TPBs were made chronicling the 60 issues to under its halfway point.


Awesome write up on the U Boat. Write that yerself? Make sure you post links, pics, vids, et al. That is if there's nothing that violates your Confidentiality agreement. ^_~ HUZZAH! Have fun! And WTG! That's bloody awesome.

Phish Phinito.
The Colloquy on Comics
By the Esteemed Reverend Eric Thomas Matthew O’Sullivan of the Universal Life Church of Modesto, CA

OK, that was a bit heavy handed... with the trumpet flourish, fancy font and appeal to genuine genuflectors. Who wants to mix comics and theology anyhoo? We live in a Secular culture and I wouldn’t want to be a Party Lines Republican would I? I was thinking about “time”. Time marches on and how time runs in the esoteric universes of different publishing houses.

Capes and Masks though why not? Addressed in a few places is Hero Worship in a literal way. In particular, Green Lantern, Issue # 146-150 and the DC collected “The Kingdom”. The Churches of Ion (the all-powerful Kyle Rayner) in GL and of Superman in The Kingdom caught my attention. Why wouldn’t there be more worship of the UberVolk as Pantheon in the titles? Do we not do this ourselves in the here & now? Purchase of comics, idols in action figures? Homage in posters? Hmmm... Perhaps we do in our own way. Think about it. In God We Trust indeed.

The Kingdom, although not as “grand” as the DC Elseworlds’ Kingdom Come of which it’s a sequel and it is set in the DCU Terra Firma, addresses hero worship a bit and its failed projections too on the hero. This title actually tweaked the Continuity a bit adopting the concept of Elseworlds in the DCU as the idea of “Hypertime". Yeah, real advanced arcane stuff... otherwise known as “fanboy bait”. The Hero Worship went hand-in-hand with the “time” aspect. How the story of Apollo the Archer God has, OVER TIME gained some different roots and interpretations and it’s impossible to agree on them. Time passes; other cultures similar deities are absorbed into their Hellenistic Culture Counterpart under Alexander besides having varied original roots to begin with. Athene on one hand Soldier on the other Virgin & Motherly and Practical. Same with the superheroes by now if you consider Wonder Woman’s by-now convoluted genesis, origin and legend regarding the “herstory” that now spans over 4 generations. DC has to be really pliable as a reed in the stream when it comes to chronology and justification of the characters “why” & “when”. I dunno. Crossed my mind, I thought I’d mention it. Time in comics.

I re-read the recent volume of Green Arrow, from his Kevin Smith resurrection to the current Winick (and Phil Hester’s consistent pencils the entire time) arcs. It mentions passage of time. Ten years since Ollie and Hal’s Hard Traveling Heroes, the short but monumental O’Neil/Adams run in 1970. 10 years past CPT. Comics People Time. Or fairer to say DCT. D.C. (Universe) Time which runs different to MCT (Marvel Comics Time) or WST (WildStorm Time). WildStorm apparently runs in “real time”. In the GA re-read, “9/11” is mentioned thus anchoring, yoking to the “Real World”. Marvel addressed “9/11” in celebrated fashion. It needed to be addressed since both worlds have a New York and neither NYC can no longer have a WTC. The WTC’s importance to the NYC Skyline was never overlooked in Funnybooks and always there as the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings. Batman BTW has not seemed to have aged much in these 10 years since the hard-traveling heroes. His “annular rings” have less to do with a touch of gray or crow’s feet and more to do with the age of his sidekicks.

Do we choose Green Lantern or Spider-Man as a title to read akin to how a Hindu chooses Ganesha or Vishnu to venerate and focus their worship on? The Lantern only bridled by lack of imagination and willpower juxtaposed to the elephant headed god Ganesha, who tears down obstacles. Comics and religion. With the Pantheon to choose from do we “choose our gods” to show homage to? Would being a subscriber to the Flash make me an adjunct worshipper of Hermes or Mercury? Should I be able to quote the Bible better than Miller’s DK1? Yes I should but only for the same reasons. Why do we read certain titles and not others? Why in polytheistic pantheon are we allowed to worship certain anthropomorphized qualities of the whole? Tee hee... I said “whole”. ^_~

The Bhagavad-Gita was an ancient funnybook once upon a time you know...

Synchronize Watches! We’re going in!!! Rendezvous at the LZ!

This Week’s Comics:
First read and an actual Top Five this week. Big week on the Incoming.

Running on no time but it’s own (elips)

Y The Last Man #25

Tongues of Flame 2 of 2

Vaughan & Guerra shine in Y’s latest issue. Do comics and theology mix? F*in right they do! Great addressing of the patriarchal nature of the Christian Church, Yorick’s love life or lack thereof and being Ampersand Free to mull things over and find the Spirit. But the Amazons are back in the Mix. And meanwhile in the Australian outback... For real and yes it has been 2 years since this character had anything to say. Still first read every Wednesday it comes home in the Comics Gnome sack of Funnies.

Respecting its own continuity based on an Exaggerated Model of the Marvel Universe to get the kiddies hooked like using Joe Camel ^_~:

Ultimate Nightmare #1

An Ultimate Universe Event!!! Still priced at $2.25! You know, for kids! Like Muncie’s Dingus. I digress. But in the tradition of Ultimate War (Ult. X-Men versus the Ultimate Avengers, “the Ultimates”) and Ultimate Six (Ult. Spidey & The Ultimates versus the Ultimate version of the Sinister Six) comes Ultimate Nightmare!!! From the Desk of Warren Ellis! This got nothing but potential of stellar action and great storytelling. During “Ultimate War” (Ultimate War #1-4 or Ultimate X-Men TPB. Vol. 5), the fugitive X-Men were defeated and taken under the auspice of Nick Fury and his direction. Trevor Hairsine on pencils and he did a great job on Ultimate Six.
I am very interested to see where Warren Ellis takes this for many reasons. Chiefly being that the Ultimate line is directed at selling to youngin’s and teens. Its low price, its adverts, and its tie-ins and merch address the young person (or perpetually juvenile). The Ultimate Universe is edgy and hardcore in a respect but it does adhere to very strict sense of what I’ll refer to as ‘PG-13”ness. It is as Mature as a “PG-13” movie. Marvel has no Comics Code adherence but its own rating system. Ultimate Nightmare is rated “Marvel PSR”.
More on the Marvel Rating System
More on the Comics Code

Set in its own universe on a new imprint from a major publisher, running on its own time, perhaps at 25–to-Life

Hard Time #7

While our “hero” Ethan is cooling his jets in solitary for the responsibility on the death of religious zealot, Gantry, the foci shifts on the lives of other inmates and their sob stories. A “good guy” joins a Latino gang for the “right reasons”, Gantry’s apprentice comes into his own and a cell-bitch gets over-sensitive. Sounds twacked, dunnit?

set firmly in the DCU Terra Firma but an oddity odd ball screwed up use of leftovers is...

Enginehead #4

This really screwy tale of 6 washed-up DC characters fused into the one new hero. “Enginehead” and his ensuing search for self. With a helper monkey too. JLA and Steampunk scribe Joe Kelly writes this. McKeever brings it to life. It’s a Turkey Sammich after Thanksgiving but it’s fresh, hot, yummy and it’s got gravy and cranberry sauce on it. Probably potatoes on the side too. The Floronic Man showed up earlier; a great counter for an Industrial Hero. Now Enginehead faces off against Superman adversary Metallo and his own search for humanity bringing the super-villain to Enginehead in a misguided attempt at salvation. And Buddha said struggle earnestly for your own salvation you know.

Ground Zero in the DCU Terra Firma trying to be all badass

Justice League Elite #2

Stealth costumes. Cool! ^_^ Covert stuff. Mahnke and Kelly carry on their previous work from JLA most noticeably Manitou “Apache Chief” Raven and his wife, Dawn. Not to be confused with Tony Orlando & Dawn, OK? Flash, Manitou Raven, Major Disaster and Green Arrow are imported to the JL Elite team. An angle with the previous Ronnie Raymond Firestorm that was in the background in JLA (a close moment with Dawn) has lead to a similar tension with resident cape chaser Green Arrow, Ollie Queen. Vera Lynn Black goes deep undercover. No problems here. Only rereads. Kelly’s stuff is like that. Looking forward to a year of this and another Franchise JLA title later this year, JLA Classified written by Grant Morrison and art by Ed McGuinness (Superman/Batman #’s 1-6). JLA fans rejoice! Grant Morrison who re-launched this current JLA volume (issues #1-41) returns to a title that he excels at! The JLE’s new characters are getting some taking used to and I can’t quite remember what talents Coldcast possesses besides being huge and imposing. JL Elite doesn’t try to be the Authority.

that’s the Top 5 for this past week. Glad to keep “Y The Last Man” as consistently being on the top. That’s a great title. JLE is “franchisey” but its creative team were one of my favorite JLA “Batteries”. Battery in the Baseball definition here. Enginehead is another good but strange one in a limited run so look for that in TPB next year.

The Professor & Maryanne...

Batman: The 12-Cent Adventure #1

Cross-Over Alert! Batman is having another franchise uniting story. “War Games”. In the 12 Cent Adventure told from the Spoiler’s point-of-view, “War Games” is set up in its Prelude. The Gotham Underworld elements are being... downsized and restructured VIOLENTLY! The Bat-Family is front row and knee-deep. All the title converge here. Is this a necessary response to Avengers Disassemble?

Ultimate Spider-Man #63

Oh Bendis. Well this one was a heart-breaker. Carnage Part 4. Don’t miss it. Pass the Xanax. And some Kleenex.

Swamp Thing #6

OK. I’m confused. That’s OK. I’ll iron it out sooner or later. Constantine, if he’s being himself here does that mean he’ll act himself in his title? An in-joke or a “No Prize”. Not much to say. Ahhhh... That’s it. Maybe a new arc after this introductory 6-issue run is what I need.

Wildcats Version 3.0 #24

ACTION PACKED! Well drawn! This incarnation of the WildStorm Universe cornerstone team celebrates two-years in business. But really, the CODA war. Oooooh! Well...I like it. I had to read two previous volumes in order to “get” it but I like it. I call it the world’s most inaccessible comic for a good reason. It’s really good but only for the Initiated. You can’t even appreciate Marlowe’s cool-looking suit without the back-ground information. It’s that tough to get into.

X-Men Unlimited #4

It’s my favorite X-title for good reason. Entertain me, not chain me. The X-Men are as dependent as a needy “weak sister” these days. Unlimited is not constrained by much, just concerned with the short story. To Heck with the RELOAD! X-Men Unlimited uses the RELOAD but only for setting the stage. The rest is just about whatever character the focus is directed on and its short story. A very satisfying title in a sea of stinkers.

Detective Comics #797

The Milestone issue Number Eight Hundred is nigh for this title. BRAVO! This will be the first comic to ever reach the issue #1,000 if DC continues publication for the next ten plus years. As I said about the Batman: 12 Cent Adventure, Bats is locked into esoteric footsies with “War Games”. Part 1 of 8. I’m beginning to have an appreciation to Detective Comics with the mini-story at the end of each issue. That’s very old school. Comics Gnome recently left a sack full of Detective Comics back issues. All of them with a short at the end and lots written by Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker. Time to catch up a bit in Gotham.

Marvel Age: Fantastic Four #5

Marvel Age: Spider-Man #9
No Image Available

Priced at $2.25 and Marvel Rated “All Ages 9”, the retelling of old Stan Lee/Steve Ditko (Spidey) or Lee/Jack Kirby (FF) plots with new script & pencil & a 21st century awareness. These ones are immediately put into Trade format. If it weren’t for the fact they are delightful as all heck, I’d say avoid them as an obvious attempt to pilfer your pockets.

Queen & Country #26
Oni Press
Greg Rucka, writer & Mike Norton, illustration.

I dunno if I talked about Queen & Country yet, the ACME black & white spy tale of a pro-active, British ultra covert action team. Only 7 pages of ads at the END of the story. It’s a great comic. Previous runs in 6 TPBs now available for you to catch up but it is a basic and stripped down comic. One fine title. It gets the “Treatment” soon enough with a mega write up. It deserves your attention and you will be satisfied.

Uncanny X-Men #447
Chris Claremont, writer

Doing double time with Excalibur must be stressful for Chris Claremont. Why is the UberScribe of the X-Men just “irking” me lately with all the RELOAD hooplah. I mean if there was one thing to look forward to in either I’d love both of them. X-Men: RELOAD just got ready for a ballyhooed Round Two. Oh well. It does have a sense of old-time adventure but it’s not what I look for. This was read because it was on the table. To be honest it’s the same reason I read Y The Last Man. But the difference is VAST. And I guess Marvel Girl Rachel Grey annoys me. Cannonball’s outfit annoys me too. These titles are really good at making me grumpy, the anti-satisfaction. Part 4 of 4 finishing this arc and my obligation to read any further. If it ends up on the coffee table next month, I might be tempted to peek but I make no guarantees.

DC Comics Presents: Superman

The Julie Schwartz tribute continues! First tale, written by Stan “The Man” Lee. This alone should be reason. But good stuff honoring the legend that gave us the Silver Age of DC.
Brief History Of Julius Schwartz

Ultimate X-Men #50

Cry Wolf: Part 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Andy Kubert. Gambit’s back and it’s an issue #50. That’s all. 50 Issues is a milestone. This one came and went without much ado. Vaughan took 4 issues to make his last arc thrill me. Will I have to wait until #53 to be entertained again? I think I’m suffering from X-Tenuating X-Hauastion.

X-Men: The End
Book 1: Dreamers & Demons
Written by Chris Claremont

The latest in “The End” series by Marvel documenting the last chapter in the hero or team. These creative attempts are fun but after Garth Ennis’ luke-warm Punisher: The End and the still unfolding 6-issue Wolverine: The End by Paul Jenkins leaving me a little unsure about X-Men: The End. There are too many things for the future of the X-Men to say that this is the definitive end for the X-Men. Was the future for “Here Comes Tomorrow” eliminated? “Days of Future Past” has only come close. I can’t take stock in something “definitive” like this.
Look for future “The End” titles such as Avengers, Daredevil, Captain Marvel, Howard the Duck, and Ennis/Darick Robertson work in MK the Punisher. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0785110143/qid=1091977155/sr=8-7/ref=pd_ka_7/103-9828568-3131049?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

Wizard #155
“Wizard X”

Comics Gnome droppings on the rug also followed to the latest issue of Wizard! My yearly purchase of this publication dwindled since I got back on the Wagon so to speak. But I couldn’t help myself finding a few extra pennies on me so I took the bait.

Kevin Smith writes the Letters column. Fantastic cover of the World’s Finest Team and a first-ever collaboration between Legends penciller Jim “Insert Angelic Choir Here” and painter Alex “Marvels, Kingdom Come” Ross. A few preview pages of Green Lantern: Rebirth; great art by the way but no spoilers about the fate of Hal Jordan or Kyle Rayner. Super spoiler info on the amazing DC Event “Identity Crisis” that reveals the first few hideous acts in print which I had mixed feelings on. More Grant Morrison on the horizon at DC. More Warren Ellis on tap at Marvel. Todd Casey has a great article on Legend Jim Steranko. 10 Failed Superhero Television shows! CBS’ The Flash was not part of this list by the way. But the 1974 SHAZAM! That I remember as a kid. It’s played on Nickelodeon’s TV Land at 3AM after two hours of Adam West/Burt Ward Batman and George Reeve’s 1950’s Superman. The 1979 Legends of the Superheroes is BARELY remembered and an out-of-shape West & Ward reprise their roles and cowl & cape it as the Dynamic Duo for this Special.

On the horizon,
In October, The Authority Revolution #1 by Ed Brubaker and Dustin Nguyen.
“The shadow of insurrection falls on their finer world”. With the Authority in power of the USA government and presidency, what does that mean for the rest of the WildStorm Universe? GREAT! That means the Robbie Morrison run is DONE! Hey, it was that bad but the Authority is s'posed to bw one of the Heaviest Hitters in the WildStorm U. but it got stale fast for some reason.

Brian Azzarello signs another exclusive contract with DC Comics until 2007.

'Namaste, kiddie. See you next week when the Comics Gnome comes hauling the Fresh Funnies.

Friday, August 06, 2004

It was May 5th, 1945, and the long and tragic world war in Europe was finally reaching its conclusion. Adolf Hitler, having just committed suicide, had been replaced by Admiral Karl Doenitz of the German Navy. In a New York Times story, Doenitz is quoted as telling his Nazi forces that, “the struggle against the Western Powers has become senseless.” In a United Press International article, Doenitz is said to have issued orders to all U-boat commanders to “cease hostilities” at once and to return home immediately. It appeared as if the terrifying siege against allied shipping along the Atlantic coast of the United States was finally over.

A few miles Northeast of Block Island, a small spit of land lying east of New York’s Long Island (technically part of the state of Rhode Island) the U-853, commanded by Oberleutnant Helmut Froemsdorf, lay in waiting in the murky waters of the Atlantic.

Built in 1943 by Deschimag, in Bremen, German, the U-853 had been a recent addition to the German Navy. She was a IX-C class submarine, running 252 feet in length with a 22.7 foot beam. Constructed of steel, the U-853 displaced 1,120 gross tons. The armament she carried included two twin 20mm anti-aircraft guns, one 37mm anti-aircraft gun, one 105mm deck gun and six torpedo tubes. She was nicknamed Der Seiltaenzer (Tightrope Walker) by her crew and had reached her operating position off of New England late in the month of April 1945.
During this time, a Collier (bulk cargo carrier) named the S.S. Black Point was completing an uneventful voyage from Newport News, Virginia to Weymouth, Massachusetts. She was loaded with a cargo of 7,500 tons of soft coal. This cruise would be her last and the Black Point would soon become the last American Flag merchant ship to be sunk by German submarines. What makes this sinking so tragic is that it occurred after Donitz’s orders were given to cease hostilities and only a few hours before the official end to the war.

The Black Point had left its coastal convoy at the approach to New York Harbor, as these waters were considered to be free of enemy submarines. As she entered the western end of Rhode Island Sound, four miles Southeast of Point Judith, Rhode Island, a huge explosion ripped a 40 feet opening in her stern section. Within 15 minutes, the Black Point had capsized and was laid to rest in 95 feet of water. Twelve men lost their lives in the sinking, while 34 crew members were rescued by ships that soon converged upon the area. One of these ships, the S. S. Kamen, immediately sent an SOS report of the torpedoing and the hunt for the U-853 began.

At 1742 hours, the radio operator of the Moberly, a Coast Guard frigate traveling with two Navy destroyer escorts (Amick and Atherton), picked up the signal from the Kamen. These ships were 30 miles from the scene and arrived in the vicinity of the sinking at 1930 (7:30 p.m.) hours. Taking stations 3,000 feet apart, they began their search.

For the remainder of the evening, a series of attacks on the U-853 ensued. Each time the vessels believed they had dealt a mortal blow to the German ship, sonar would reveal its movement as it attempted to escape. The struggle was a perilous one. In fact, shortly after midnight on May 6, the Moberly and the Atherton both damaged themselves by failing to avoid the explosions of their own depth charges. Eventually, as the evening wore on, the attacks were halted until 0530 the following morning, when the sun began to rise on the final day in the life of the U-853.

Two blimps, K-16 and K-58 from Lakehurst, New Jersey, joined the attack with the arrival of daylight. They were directed to assist in locating and identifying oil slicks and to help mark the location of the submarine with smoke and dye markers. The U-boat was believed to be heavily damaged and appeared to be bleeding large amounts of air and oil.

The K-16 blimp dropped a sonorbuoy on a spot where oil was still rising to the surface. The sonar operators in both blimps then heard the sounds of metallic hammering coming from the submarine. About ten minutes later, a long shrill shriek was heard. Attacks were then made on this spot using the blimp’s 7.2” rocket bombs.

Sunk 6 May, 1945 in the North Atlantic south-east of New London, in position 41.13N, 71.27W, by depth charges from the US destroyer escort USS Atherton and the Patrol frigate Moberly. 55 dead (all hands lost).

Today, decades after the sinking of the U-853, mystery still surrounds this wreck. Why did she attack and sink the Black Point one day after the cease fire order had been given by the acting Fuhrer? Did the U-853 receive and then ignore the order, or was the order never received? Several theories persist regarding the “true” nature of the U-853’s mission. Some say that she was designed to be Hitler’s private escape craft. Others maintain that she was transporting millions of dollars worth of mercury, cash and gold. In fact, several salvage attempts have been made on the vessel, none of which have ever resulted in the recovery of treasure.

The U-853 now rests in 135 feet of sea water off the coast of Rhode Island. On sunday the 15th, my buddy Jan and I are going to pay her a visit.

As we were planning the dive, I got an email from Ben Haskell, the director of operations for NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. There's an exploration mission planned for the following two days, and I was invited along.

There will be two boats involved in the operation. RV Sentinel, the first vessel, will be transporting divers to the wreck of the Paul Palmer, a massive 5 masted schooner (the largest ever built) sitting in 80 feet of sea water. They'll be using diver propulsion vehicles, cameras, and video recorders to try to capture enough material to construct a photo mosiac of the wreck.

MV Searay, the second vessel, is the one I'll be on. We're going to be doing a recon dive on the wreckage of an unknown vessel in 110' of seawater... basicly trying to learn as much as we can about whatever it is so that we can begin efforts to identify the vessel by cross-referencing it's description with a list of known wrecks in the area.

Unfortunately, I'll have to sign a non-disclosure agreement, so I'm not sure how much of what I find out I'll be able to share.
Sorry to hear it, it's a beautiful piece. I had a similar experience with one of mine 5 or 6 years back, and was fortunate enough to have some friends in the area who were glass blowers. I was told that because the piece had been kiln-tempered after blowing, it wouldn't be possible to re-fuse it. :(

By all means look into it, but you may find a careful application of an appropriate adhesive will be the final solution. If you go that route, beware of strong glues that contract as they set, as it might rip the surface off the glass and break it worse instead of mending it.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

The Lion: Unfortunate accident really, when moving from the house we were in when you visited... I had a small smokeless steel piece in the same casing I kept it in and after I check it pulled the string tight and heard a slight cruching sound. It must have been turned the wrong way or something but when I pulled it out it the glass pipe was in two pieces. The break is very clean and I advocate that it is fixable but I need to find someone who works with glass, become their friend, and see if it cant be fixed properly.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Yes, the goo balls kicked in. Here are some random things I remember about that show:

The giant inflatable snowman.
The art installation made mostly from twigs and vines.
Sully's first taste of the sensual mango.
Leah getting busted by security for whippits in a stranger's microbus.

What happened to your lion Kiwi?