Sunday, August 30, 2009


It's rather obvious that I haven't followed through with my intentions when I (re)started my blog under this new title. The chances of that fact changing anytime in the forseeable future are slim to none, unfortunately. As I mentioned earlier today, my new college semester has begun and it looks like I have a lot of work ahead of my over the next 3 1/2 months. I do not intend to only live and breathe the day job and my school work but I know that writing blog entries will not be at the top of my list of things to do in my spare time. So, I am suspending all blogging until...well, I'm not sure. I suspect my use of Twitter will diminish as well; if I'm going to keep up with anything, it will probably be Facebook, where I do get feedback and a sense of community amongst my friends, new and old. Take care.

Sunday Shuffle #149

My plans for posts got derailed by college classes this week. I'm going to have a lot to do this semester and my coping mechanism yesterday was to pretend I had nothing at all to do. Not very efficient. Still, I do want to post from time to time as it will be a good antidote to my English class. For now, though, here's some music...

1. Stop And Think It Over/Mary Weiss (2)
2. Black Sand/Jenny Lewis (10)
3. Expensive Tastes/Cold War Kids (8)
4. Angeles/Elliott Smith (23)
5. This Tornado Loves You/Neko Case (2)
6. Junior Panthers/Sloan (16)
7. I'll Be Yr Bird/M. Ward (6)
8. Cool James/Harvey Danger (28)
9. A Call To Arms/Beirut (5)
10. Colleen/Ted Leo & the Pharmacists (13)

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I could be working on some blog posts right now. I could be writing about the three Jack of Fables trades I read this week. I could be writing about all the books I read this summer. I could be working on my (slowly-progressing) Jayhawks project. I could be taking notes for all the blog projects I have in mind (looking at Astro City issue by issue; a myriad of posts about my favorite pop culture from the 2000s; a long-delayed review of the new Wilco album).

I could be reading some more of the June/July issue of F&SF.

I could be looking at my Spanish book from last year in preparation for my third semester class.

But I'm not doing any of those things.

Instead, I am very restless because college starts again tomorrow and I'll be in my first English class since spring semester of 1994. I'm not nervous at all, I just want to get it started and see what the class will be like. I guess it's a good thing I go to work tomorrow before class or else it would be another wasted day (at least I got the laundry done today).

I know I will get to all the things I mentioned above...just not until after I've been to my English 201 class (The Nature of Literary Study) tomorrow evening.

Sunday Shuffle #148

My posting plan went awry this week, which isn't too surprising. School started on Wednesday and I had meetings on Tuesday and other things going on. This week I start my third semester back at college and have my first English class since 1994. It will be interesting. I do have some ideas for posts but we'll see what happens.

1. Magic Door/Elk City (9)
2. Army Bound/Ted Leo (9)
3. Isn't Life Strange?/The Clientele (13)
4. Robbers/Cold War Kids (11)
5. Effigy/Andrew Bird (7)
6. The Girl/Dr. Dog (10)
7. Simple X/Andrew Bird (9)
8. Bunny Ain't No Kind Of Rider/Of Montreal (7)
9. Help Help/Mates of State (7)
10. For The Price Of A Cup Of Tea/Belle and Sebastian (16)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Shuffle #147

Last Sunday before the school year starts - my wife goes back tomorrow and my son and I go back on Wednesday. I do still have a week before my college classes get going, so this week will be the easiest one until Christmas week. Let's see what we get...

1. Argonne Limit Co./Centro-Matic (22)
2. They Ran/My Morning Jacket (6)
3. Stars Fell on Alabama/The Mountain Goats (6)
4. Lullaby + Exile/M. Ward (6)
5. All the Lightning Rods/Centro-Matic (14)
6. I'm in Love with a Girl/Big Star (9)
7. Her Disappearing Theme/Broken Social Scene (1)
8. Heretics/Andrew Bird (8)
9. Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Pt. 2/My Morning Jacket (10)
10. Just A Little Heat/The Black Keys (7)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Trade Winds Blowing

I've been in denial all summer. I've been buying single issues of comics and pretending that I could continue doing just that forever and ever amen. I can't. I don't have the room for boxes of comics, which is why I got rid of all my boxes years ago. I don't have the patience to just read a single issue of anything, no matter how good (and ADVENTURE COMICS #1 was pretty darn good this week, thanks to a solid Geoff Johns story and fantastic Francis Manapul art plus 10 pages of the Legion). I don't like the inflexibility it creates in my entertainment budget, which is not very big to begin with. And finally, buying all the single issues this summer has meant I couldn't afford to buy any trades (until the new Fables trade this week, which was possible only by some extra work as a math tutor).

I am behind on a bunch of different series that I follow. As I mentioned yesterday, I am 3 collections behind on Jack of Fables (though I did go out and pick up the 3rd volume, thanks to a coupon and some more of that tutoring money). I started reading Scalped earlier this year and loved it but I'm 2 volumes behind with a 3rd out soon. There are now 6 100 Bullets trades that I haven't bought, a series I really want to finish. And that's just a few Vertigo titles off the top of my head.

Don't get me started on the big ticket items like Starman Omnibus (still need the 3rd volume), Nexus Archives (only have 2 out of a soon-to-be 10), Asterios Polyp, and Darwyn Cooke's Parker graphic novel.

I've actually made the decision to revert back to trades a couple times this summer but just never followed through. This time, I have to. And I will.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dark Days of Summer

When all three members of a household are involved with a school in one form or another, summer comes to an end once a new school year gets started. That's where the Steiner household is at, as we all start back next week. I'm actually ready to get back to it and not just for the fact I won't have to be in the pool 4 to 5 hours a day, although a full week of nothing to do would be nice.

I've been squeezing in as much pop culture consumption as I can before life gets super busy and thought I would share some quick thoughts about some of it...

(500) Days of Summer - This movie finally made it to my neck of the woods (about 20 minutes away) last weekend and I jumped at the chance to go see it. I was not disappointed. The movie tells you up front (via narration) that it is not a love story...well, it is and it isn't. Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) meets Summer (Zooey Deschanel) and work and falls hard. She, on the other hand, doesn't, though she does like him a lot. What follows in an out-of-order look at their relationship, shifting from the good times to the bad. This allows scenes to be cast in a new light, bits of conversation, and so forth. Director Marc Webb gives us a dance number, split screens, and great visuals to match the mix of humor and pain and understanding. Good stuff.

The Magicians - This is Lev Grossman's new novel and the first one of his that I've read, though I loved his brother Austin's Soon I Will Be Invincible. As the title of this one would indicate, it's a fantasy novel set in a world of magic. Specifically, it's set in a world where people have read Harry Potter and a series of Narnia-like books about a world called Fillory. Quentin Coldwater is a huge fan of that series and one day discovers he is able to perform magic and is admitted to Brakebills, a school for magic. So yes, there are some similarities with the world of Harry Potter but this book deals with sex and drugs and depression and there is no big evil out there in the world. It's a story of love and loss and selfishness and yes, magic. Some reviews have taken it to task for trying to be a commentary on this type of novel as well as an example of the species but I didn't think it was more metafictional commentary than just a well-written story that I liked.

District 9 - I went and saw this movie at the first showing this morning and was a bit distracted by the kids who were in the audience. The movie is bloody and the f-word is used an awful lot. An awful lot. Now I don't have a problem with that type of thing but it did bother me at times. As for the movie itself, it is a very grim story of aliens forced to live in slums, corporations that want profit, gangs that want power. Events are set in motion by Wickus, who is in charge of informing the "prawns" that they are being moved to a new residence far from Johannesburg. He becomes exposed to something that starts changing him, both physically and also in another one. Except it's not a saccharine and clean-cut as it seems. The effects are seamlessly woven into the story and it is mostly told in doucmentary form. It is a dark story that echoes problems in our world without it being bludgeoningly so. A thoughtful, gruesome SF movie that looks cool? Interesting summer fare.

Fables: The Dark Ages - Wednesday saw the release of the 12th volume collecting the ongoing series, which also happens to be one of my favorite comics. It's a rather grim volume featuring that aftermath of the big victory over Gepetto. One would think times would be good but they aren't. There's the rise of a powerful new entity, the death of a beloved character, and the destruction of Fabletown. Naturally, I read it as quickly as I could and I can't wait until the next collection in early 2010. In the meantime, I need to catch up on Jack of Fables in trade form - I've only read 2 of 5 volumes!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Nothing Left To Borrow

Let's dive back into the Jayhawks project with a look at one of the lesser-known songs from Tomorrow the Green Grass (released in 1995)...

"Nothing Left to Borrow" is built on a relatively subdued but still interesting riff by Gary Louris on electric guitar, which is then supported by a nice bouncing bass line and a lot of cymbal work on the drumkit. It lifts off during the chorus with a short piano line and when Mark Olson joins Louris in harmony (Louris sings lead on this one). The song is not flashy and a little bit melnacholy but it sticks in the head.

"Then just stick around..."

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday Shuffle #146

It's amazing how quickly I've devolved my relaunched blog back to a Sunday Shuffle every week and maybe another post. I've got plenty of things to write about but I just need to sit down and do it. We'll see...

1. Thurston @ 13/Thurston Moore (6)
2. Perfume-V/Pavement (10)
3. The Chinatown Bus/Bishop Allen (10)
4. Ella/M. Ward (13)
5. Cass/Lucero (6)
6. Make You Up/Portastatic (6)
7. On My Way/American Music Club (8)
8. The Swamp/Brendan Benson (15)
9. Summerteeth (live)/Jeff Tweedy (11)
10. Between the Bars/Elliott Smith (19)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Looking Ahead: August 2009

Each new month brings promise of fresh pop culture to devour...

My Old, Familiar Friend - The upcoming 4th solo album from Brendan Benson. Brendan is probably more known for being the second guy in The Raconteurs alongside Jack White but there is so much more to him than that. His three previous records are power pop gems and I can't wait to hear what the new one sounds like. (8/18)

Mad Men - Any self-respecting fan of quality TV is salivating over the return of the gang at Sterling Cooper and the fascinating enigma of the man at its core, Don Draper. This will be the 3rd season of the show. (8/16)

Top Chef - I hadn't watched this show until this past spring, which was set in New York. I was quickly hooked and not just because I love food. I am currently watching Top Chef Masters, which has famous chefs competing for charity and is a more dignified take the series, but I can't wait to see who shows up to compete in Las Vegas. (8/19)

District 9 - There was a lot of buzz out of Comic-Con about this different take on aliens living on Earth. Peter Jackson is the executive producer and the trailer looks intriguing. It doesn't have big stars, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. (8/14)

Inglorious Basterds - The latest movie from Quentin Tarantino, this one could go either way. Not sure there will be an in-between. We'll see. (8/21)

Adventure Comics - This comic will star the recently-resurrected Superboy and is written by current comics king Geoff Johns. The art will be by Francis Manapul, who made his professional debut in the same comic I did (Love in Tights #1). Of course, he's gone on to fame and I've gone on to this blog, so score 500 for him. Meanwhile, the backup feature in this comic will focus on the Legion of Super-Heroes. Unsurprisingly, this excites me more than the main feature, though the 5 page preview that is running in the back of DC books right now is very promising. (8/12)

Sunday Shuffle #145

I do have some posts planned for this week, including getting back to my Jayhawks project. For now I'm still waking up, so let's get to 10 shuffled songs from my iTunes...

1. Hurtin' You/Ben Kweller (7)
2. The Marquee and the Moon/Sloan (12)
3. Theologians (live)/Jeff Tweedy (8)
4. The '59 Sound/The Gaslight Anthem (14)
5. Constantinople/The Decemberists (7)
6. Fat Children/Jarvis Cocker (4)
7. Charlemagne In Sweatpants/The Hold Steady (5)
8. Creature Fear/Bon Iver (9)
9. Streetlights/Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit (6)
10. I Will Possess Your Heart/Death Cab For Cutie (3)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Good News Dept.

Kurt Busiek announced at last week's Comic-Con that Astro City would be returning to monthly status sometime next year, picking up with #23 after all these years. Before then, we will get a two-part special about a grown-up Astra and the final part of the "Dark Age" story (which will included a special focusing on the Silver Agent). More details can be found here.

Multiple sources are announcing that the original cast of Futurama has signed on to do 26 more episodes of the series. Fox was reportedly looking to replace the cast but a compromise on salary was reached and fans like me are very happy that the show will be back in all its glory. I also realize I haven't watched the last 2 direct-to-DVD movies yet, a fact which I will have to rectify soon.

And finally, after a disastrous 1-6 road trip to Detroit and Minnesota, my White Sox have won 3 straight against the Yankees and go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon with Mark Buehrle on the mound. Yes, he lost his last game but not before setting the all-time record for most consecutive batters retired (45 in a row, thanks to a perfect game followed by 5 2/3 perfect innings in the next game before he fell apart). I'll be watching.