Saturday, July 29, 2006

 
Into The Adirondacks -- We got up early and took the kids for a great breakfast at this gourmet place in Lake George that I had heard about...goddamn if even the breakfast wasn't awesome, everything very fresh and tasty, surprises like roasted red pepper pieces in the home fries, Lora's omelette was amazing...my instincts were good on trying this place out. The dining area was spacious and Adirondack-themed, lots of wood, but with lots of light and very clean. We also had the place to ourselves for 90 percent of the time we were there, which was nice.

A couple weird moments -- the waiter asked if we were in town for the whole weekend, and I told him we were locals -- our house is like 15 minutes up the highway from this place. But the waiter clearly had a spiel he liked to unroll on tourists, and we really flummoxed him. I was wearing a red flowered Hawaiian shirt, and he also tried to generate some chit-chat on that subject, like "that's common" where he is apparently from, but he hardly ever sees them in Lake George. Which is only really active in the summer, is one of the country's most famous water-based resort destinations, and of course has fucking Hawaiian shirts from wall to wall from May to September. So, yeah, he was a bit weird.

So, that place behind us -- and it really was a nice meal, weirdness aside -- we drove two hours into the Adirondacks to go to this place, The Adirondack Natural History Museum, I think is the official name, but it's informally called The Wild Center; driving through the Adirondacks is really awe-inspiring. You never know, when you round a bend, what you're gonna see, and often it's enormous mountains that just keep going up and up and up, spectacularly beautiful. Of course we got a bit lost on the way -- the directions from our neck of the woods were vague and possibly outright incorrect, and I think it took us an hour longer to get there than it should have. I was getting low blood sugar by the time we got to Tupper Lake (due to the length of the drive, getting lost, stressed out over that and also I forget to bring a snack, which I should have), where the museum is, so we went to the only restaurant in town and had lunch. It was this hole in the wall called The Swiss Kitchen, kind of seedy and full of bizarre locals and a couple naff tourists like us (we're so obvious with our Hawaiian shirts). I got just a BLT and chips, but Lora and I shared a peach crumble pie thing for dessert, and it was fucking amazing, homemade and certainly enough to bring my blood sugar up for the rest of the day, if not the weekend.

Finally at the Wild Center, and it was pretty far from what I was expecting. One gets the impression they opened a year too soon, as some exhibits seem undernourished and others missing entirely. There were some cool wildlife exhibits with a real otter playing in an indoor waterfall, lots of fish, frogs, newts and stuff like that. But all in all it was pretty underwhelming, considering that it cost 46 bucks for the four of us to get in...by comparison, the New York State Museum in Albany is vastly more entertaining and diverse, an hour closer to home, and, uh, FREE.

We did go on the outside nature trail, which wound down toward, I guess, Tupper Lake itself. It had a few signs noting the type of mushrooms and birch trees and whatnot, but it was a long ride for a short day at the beach, as Roger Ebert says. And a couple of the hills were really steep; when we spotted a defibrillator (honestly!) halfway down the trail, I can't honestly say I didn't think we might need it coming back up those hills.

I did feel young again, though, when my my wife and kids needed to rest on a bench on the way back up, and I just wanted to keep on going -- of course, my mind was on the air conditioning back at the museum. My four favourite things in life are probably sex, pizza, comics and air conditioning, and not in that order.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

 
Lost Girls Signing Next Week -- If you're anywhere near Northern California next Wednesday, August 2nd, and you're 18 or over, and you love good comics, you'll be at Lee's Comics in Mountain View (here's a handy map).

Artist Melinda Gebbie will be at the Mountain View Lee's Comics, signing her massive new graphic novel Lost Girls, written by Alan Moore.

The scoop:

Meet Melinda Gebbie, artist and co-creator of the new Alan Moore Graphic Novel masterpiece "Lost Girls" in an exclusive Bay Area appearance!

Melinda will be chatting with her fans, and signing copies of Lost Girls. It's a stunning full color three volume deluxe hardcover box set that has been 16 years in the making.

Lost Girls is an erotic adult fairy tale featuring Alice, Wendy and Dorothy. It is a thoughtful, and humanistic masterpiece that is bound to become a touchstone in modern literature.

Alan Moore is considered by many to be the greatest writer in comics. His Watchmen Graphic Novel is listed as one of the top English language books by Time Magazine. His Graphic Novels have been made into movies of various quality. (His graphic novels are much better!) Now comes his newest masterpiece, Lost Girls, which he co-created with his life, partner Melinda Gebbie. It’s bound to be controversial to some and celebrated by many more. Here’s a rare chance to meet Melinda and get your copy signed.

Plan on attending! 18 or older, please.

MELINDA GEBBIE SIGNING
Wednesday, Aug 2nd
6:00pm – 8:00pm

Lee's Comics
1020 N. Rengstorff Ave.
(From 101 exit Rengstorff Ave., by Costco.)
Mountain View, CA 94043
(650) 965-1800
lee@lcomics.com

This great book is on sale at both Lee’s Comics Locations right now. Supplies are limited, so make sure to pick up a copy for the signing event as soon as possible. To see some images from this incredible book, check out the Lee’s Comics Webpage:

http://lcomics.com


Lost Girls (my review is here) is one of the most important releases of the decade, representing fifteen years of work by Moore and Gebbie, the end result being an intoxicating rumination on sex, violence, war and regret. Anyone 18 or older with an interest in comics will be stunned by what the book accomplishes, and the fantastic production values courtesy of publisher Top Shelf Productions are nothing to sneeze at, either. It's an expensive comic, but as Tom Spurgeon likes to say, "The only comics that are too expensive are shitty comics." Lost Girls is about as far away from shitty comics as you can get.

Be sure to stop into Lee's Comics, and help support a great graphic novel, a gifted artist, and a visionary comics shop.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

 
Thursday Afternoon Linkblogging -- Yesterday was an insane day at work, to the point I felt like I was in the engine room of The Titanic with Dixie Cup in hand to help me stem the rising tide. I also had an allergy attack late in the day that floored me for about four hours, which was probably brought on in part from the stress at work. I am a sneezing, coughing mess of a man, yes indeed, I am.

The San Diego Comicon coverage I have most enjoyed this year has been that generated by good pal Christopher Allen. If you haven't been keeping up, his threatening-to-become-an-epic multipart saga is here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5. Part 6 should wrap things up, if we're lucky, maybe tonight or tomorrow. It's personal, witty writing from one of the best minds writing about comics today, so give it a look.

There are some wonderful SDCC photos up right now at the Fantagraphics blog, and I especially enjoyed this Eric Reynolds post, which has lots of pics and also runs down Eric's favourite titles from the convention. There are a half-dozen books on that list that I'd cut off a toe for. Sure, one of your toes, but that doesn't make it any less difficult. In fact, you might even put up a struggle.

Warren Ellis isn't kidding. Ignore him at your own risk. If you decide to look, though, have a melonballer handy to scoop out your eyeballs afterward.

Oh, Comic Foundry's video coverage of San Diego was very good -- professional looking, witty and informative, plus you get to see some famous nerds walk and talk -- and in one case, chew gum. Here's the red carpet interviews, featuring a couple extremely rude jackasses interrupting the goings-on; also, a travelogue, also worth a peek.

Although his commentary on the comics industry is generally undercooked and overblown, I liked Dorian's post on gays behaving badly.

That's all for now...

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

 
Latest Best of 2005 List Worth The Wait -- Christopher Butcher's long-promised Best of 2005 list, definitely worth a look. Butcher's taste is almost as good as these guys' (insert smily emoticon here).

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

 
In Stores Tomorrow -- Bluesman Book Three:


The conclusion to one of the best comics you'll read this year. Learn more at The Bluesman Project, or, if you think my taste is in my ass, there's always Christipher Butcher's comments:

"This is a smart, well-illustrated story told about an aspect of American history that's not really a part of the public consciousness. Particularly if you're a music buff as well. I really enjoyed the first part and with part three finishing up the whole thing, I think I'm going to really enjoy sitting and reading this from start to finish."

If you only buy one comic this week, make sure it's Bluesman Book Three.

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Spurge's Comicon Wrap-Up -- A great summary of Tom Spurgeon's Comicon experiences, divided into easy-to-digest numbered segments.

It well and truly sucks that Tom's backpack was stolen; I'd be apopleptic if some asshole ripped off my sunglasses, because A) I love them and B) They're prescription and cost me about the same as my monthly rent payment. C'mon, you cretin -- do like the bald guy from Midnight Oil said and GIVE IT BACK.

Also: Damn, what are these two new Fantagraphics reprint projects? Enquiring minds want to know! C'mon, guys, I can keep a secret, honest!

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

 
UPDATED: Chris Allen's Con-Blogging -- Maybe it's because he actually lives in San Diego that I enjoy Chris's writing about the Comicon so much. He lacks the starry-eyed wonder of nerds travelling in from East Bumfuck, thrilled beyond all reason to learn who will be inking Jim Lee on some fill-in issue of Green Arrow, or whatever. Instead, he delivers the only con-gossip I'm interested in, actual con-gossip.

Update: Chris has posted part two of what looks to be his three-part look at his San Diego experiences.

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SLOTH by Gilbert Hernandez.Sloth -- Gilbert Hernandez's new graphic novel (published by Vertigo) paints a rich portrait of identity, gender and relationships, combining the graphic confidence of Hernandez's Palomar with the challenging narrative complexity of one of the better David Lynch movies -- Lost Highway, say, or maybe Mulholland Drive.

Miguel is a teenage boy who grows up in a small town, is raised by his doting grandparents, and one day wills himself into a year-long coma. A year later, he wills himself out of it and despite being a little shaky on his feet, more or less resumes his previous life, including his relationships with his best friend Romeo and his girlfriend Lita. And no, it wouldn't be entirely out of order to wonder what they're been up to over the past year, especially given the best friend's name, but I'm not telling you, you'll have to read the book and find out for yourself.

Miguel emerges into his new post-coma world a changed young man. More thoughtful, slower -- slothful, one might say. Sloth is also the name of the rock band made up of Miguel, Lita and Romeo, and Miguel's new approach to life extends into his music-making, a fact sorely at odds with the direction Romeo wants Sloth to take. Of such conflicts can be born great musical partnerships, like Lennon and McCartney, or Mick and Keith. Perhaps Sloth will rise to such heights, if they can overcome the other central conflict in their midst.

While Miguel's year-long coma and reintroduction into his own life is interesting plot material, the character that interested me the most was the girlfriend, Lita. Anyone familiar with Hernandez's work knows that he excels in creating unique, individual characters and that his women are always sharply realized, fascinating creations. Lita is pretty, but not overwhelmingly so, and her relationship with Miguel (and another guy in the story, not necessarily who you're thinking) seems drawn on reality. If the resumption of their romance (more like a friendship with sex than a fully-realized relationship, which perhaps provides a clue to the heart of the full story's ultimate resolution) is dealt with a little quickly, Lita's fascination with urban legends can be said to have filled the gap in her life while Miguel was comatose. Miguel, certainly, is drawn into the mysteries that so occupy Lita's imagination, and before long Miguel, Lita and Romeo are involved in more than one mystery, and the revelations that follow cause us to reevaluate every single thing we have seen and been told from the first moment of the story.

After the decades Gilbert Hernandez has spent as one of North America's most gifted cartoonists and premier storytellers, it's no surprise at all that Sloth is a beautiful book, told with the skill of a master. What may surprise you is how complete Sloth feels, of a piece with Hernandez's Love and Rockets work but independent of it in all but spirit. It's a single story with a definite beginning, middle and end, but with worlds created (quite literally) in its telling, Sloth will reward a second reading, and perhaps a third. It is, after all, the tale of three young people filled with hopes, desires and dreams.

Especially dreams.

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