I occasionally suffer from insomnia, and lately I’ve been bit by the sleepless bug hard. Since I work from home, I’ll usually take an hour nap after work (around 6 PM). It probably doesn’t make anything better, but it feels good at the time, so that’s how it goes. As a result, even if I go to bed around 11 AM, body and mind primed for sleep by my good friend Rozerem, I’m up around 3-4 AM. Rather than toss and turn and keep my wife up, I’ll come out to the home office/living room and stay up.
What am I into at 5:16 AM?
1. Facebook games. I’ve never been infected by the Farmville virus (you’re welcome), but I have a few of those mindless click-and-collect games that I like. I purposely limit them to five so I don’t go overboard- Backstage’s Slots, Scratch And Win, Bingo Explosion, and Pull Tabs, along with another game called Egg Breakers.
2. The BS Report. If there’s a better podcast out there…well, let me know in the comments. ESPN’s Bill Simmons is running a salon for writers, sports figures, and comedians. Don’t get distracted by the constant Boston sports teams cheerleading; listen for the deep interviews with Patton Oswalt, Chuck Closterman, football writer Mike Lombardi (who’s always fascinating), and his friends Jacko and Cousin Sal. This podcast is the reason I’m working with my Comic Widows friend Glenn Walker on a podcast of our own, GAR!.
3. Wrestling DVDs. My brain isn’t really up to a movie at this time of the morning, but wrestling’s perfect. Amazon had a huge sale on wrestling DVDs last month, so I have a shelf full of WWF(E?) DVDs for the perusing. You can literally hear your heart break as you watch Eddie Guerrero set the world on fire and beat his inner demons, only to end up dead in a hotel room at 38. And you can learn a lot about avoiding your own hubris by listening to a “shoot” DVD with Vincent Russo, the former writer of the WWF’s Attitude era who ended up courtside at the destruction of the last major competition to the WWF, WCW.
5. The Beatles’ White Album. I can’t get Cry Baby Cry out of my head. Note- I will NOT listen to Revolution No. 9 in the middle of the night.
6. My cats, Koko and Dewey. When I come out from the bedroom, Koko’s usually in my chair. He’s not a lapcat (though he’s very friendly in his own way), so he’ll eventually scatter, but he’ll accept some petting before he goes. Sometimes, Dewey, who’s blind but very friendly, will either be in the recliner next to my desk, or over on the couch next to that. He makes the sweetest purrs.
7. My Nintendo DS. I don’t like to power up the TV and PS2 at this time of the morning, but my old Nintendo DS (it’s a first-generation system, pre-DS Lite) is perfect. Quick to boot, quiet…I’m playing a lot of Retro Game Challenge and Space Invaders Extreme lately.
8. Work. There’s no better time to work than in the few hours before work actually starts. If I clear the decks of routine reports before the day begins, I’m better equipped to handle the minor crises that will pop up during the day.
I found out about “Bubble Boy”, the Colorado boy who had supposedly snuck into a weather balloon built by his family and was stuck inside as it went skyward, probably the same way as you: Twitter. I looked frantically for a live feed, found one, and watched as this helium balloon slowly started to shrink and collapse to the ground. At one point during the newscast, however, there was a moment to show just how far TV news has fallen.
The local anchors were interrupted by a medical doctor, who pointed out that if there wasn’t some compartment for oxygen in this balloon,the boy was probably dead from asphyxiation. One of the talking heads stopped and said, “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that.” That’s when I realized that no one had asked the family what was inside the balloon. Was that small compartment at the bottom of the balloon supposed to hold a child? Were we fooled by the helicopter camera into thinking that the bottom compartment would have even fit a child?
And go further. Would a weather balloon, even built with a compartment for a human to ride along, fly as high and as far as it did with a passenger? It’s been 20 years since I’ve been in a physics classroom, but I would think that a balloon capable of carrying, say, a 40-50 pound boy would have to be bigger than the apparent size of the balloon. Go a step further- since no family would build a balloon to only carry a child (except for, say, the Addams family), the design would have to consider at least one adult passenger. Think of the size of a hot air balloon, which can hold a few people. Wouldn’t a weather balloon designed for human flight have to compare in size to a hot air balloon?
I wish I had thought of this while the drama played out. But I didn’t; like you, I was swept away with the amazing visual of this balloon flying in the sky with a little boy inside.
No one asked questions, and we all got surprised when the boy wasn’t in the balloon, but rather in the attic. So heart-warming. What a happy ending.
But we got suckered. And no one asked the right questions.
The next time you wonder how we ended up in the Iraq war, or how New Jersey has the highest tax rate in the land and a corrupted state government, just remember the time you spent staring at the Bubble Boy that wasn’t, and ask yourself, “Why didn’t we ask questions?”
Side note: I’m still working on my Baltimore Comic-Con wrap-up. In the meantime, my friend Glenn Walker posted his take on the day.
(Any accusations that I picked the title for this post just so I could post up an old school jam are completely, 100% true.)
I’m ending my months of silence on the blog starting now.
2007 was a weird year for me. In the first few months of 2007, I was basically crippled. I had a painful hip injury that made walking very difficult. I was very fortunate that, after seeing several specialists, I found a doctor that found the problem and fixed it. Good thing, too, because right after that, my three-year contract with my employer was ending. Luckily, in the last few months of 2007, I picked up a gig for a big company in Manhattan. Since I live in central NJ, this meant I spent five hours a day on an NJ Transit train going to and from work.
I still read a lot of comics. But I just didn’t have time (and during the painful times, little inclination) to talk about them.
Now, I’m now employed at a great company 15 minutes from home. I’m 70 pounds lighter than I was last year, and I can move better than I did ten years ago. I have more free time than I’ve had in years. And I want to talk about why I love comics again.
Quite frankly, I’m tired of muting myself. There’s more great things going on in comics than ever before. There are more talented people creating comics than ever before. Webcomics are redefining how to layout and distribute comics. We’re seeing many more women and young girls reading comics through the manga invasion. Libraries and bookstores have made graphic novels a hot sector for the book business.
I remember the days when a bunch of comics bound together to look like a book was a visual oddity, a sort of grand extravagance that looked out of steps next to the wall of comic book pamphlets at my local comics shop. I remember when a comics store would have nothing but superhero comics (which I still admittedly love), or would have a box in a dark corner filled with “alternative” comics. Those old days were fun, but today is better.
My problem is figuring out how to write about comics without duplicating what other people are saying. I’ve had some success; I STILL get comments on the saddest comic post. I have had problems just fixating on the superhero-topic-of-the-day. I don’t think I’m the best at talking about the problems of DC’s Countdown, or how Marvel’s One More Day story was so unsatisfying (although no one has been able to explain to me why Norman Osborn and the Infinity Gauntlet wouldn’t have been a better antagonist in that story than Mephisto). I still want to talk about superhero comics, but I want to balance that against all of the other things that I’m enjoying. So I’m going to work on that.
I also want to do a little retooling to the look of this site. Hey, I could spend all day tweaking the theme here, but then I wouldn’t write. Still, I’ve yet to find a theme for WordPress that SCREAMS comics. Guess I’ll have to cobble one together. But I want to focus on the writing, so I may just leave things alone.
Thanks to everyone (including my wife and my Comics Widows buddy, Glenn Walker) for sticking with me over the last year. And thank you, reader, for checking in. Now let’s have some fun and talk some comics!
Mike Wieringo passed away yesterday of an apparent heart attack. Newsarama has the details.
From all accounts, Mike was a healthy 44-year old vegetarian. All who knew him said he was in great shape. His death feels senseless.
I’ve never hidden my love of the Fantastic Four. When I think of the stories I’ve enjoyed the most, I usually think of a small, elite group of creators who have told the absolute best FF stories. I’ve called them the FF Pantheon at different times. There’s the creators of the series, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, along with Kirby’s best FF inker and the man who really added the polish to the characters for nearly 200 issues, Joe Sinnott. There’s John Byrne, who brought the series to new heights in the 1980s. There’s Walt Simonson, whose short run in the early 90s was both thrilling and funny.
And there was Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo, part of Nu-Marvel’s initiative to revive all of the classic Marvel characters. Waid and ‘Ringo reframed the characters for the new millenium, raised the stakes in the Reed-Doom rivalry , and paid respect to Jack Kirby by revealing his status as, well, God of the Marvel U. Through it all, Wieringo’s art was a winner on the series. To the untrained eye, it was simple and solid, but further looks revealed the skills of a master storyteller. In many ways, Ringo was the perfect answer to the over-rendered Lee-Liefeld clones of the nineties. His work had elements of Art Adams and John Byrne, but Ringo’s style was unique, crisp, and dynamic.
It’s just an awful thing.