Thursday, June 30, 2011

Reconnected

Well, that hiatus didn't last very long, did it? I thought for sure I was going to be incommunicado for at least a week. Turns out it was all a huge miscommunication.

See, I moved in over the weekend. I have two new roommates. These are guys that I never met before coming to get an initial look at the apartment. Yeah, it's this new thing I'm trying out.

Anyway, when I finally started to settle in Sunday evening, I was turning on my laptop and asked Roommate #1 about what kind of wireless network we had set up in here. He gave me the name of the router I'd be searching for as well as the password to log on to the secure network.

So I tried to connect. And I got nothing. I tried pulling the ethernet cable through the wall to connect my computer directly to it. The laptop told me I was unplugged. Clearly the computer was lying since I could see the wire plugged directly into the side of it. However, to be fair, I had no way of knowing if the other end of the cable was connected to anything at all.

But it was late. It had been a long two days filled with lifting and moving and driving and unloading... I was tired. So I went to bed that night disappointed.

Side bar: I was also disappointed for another reason. The sofa that I've been using as a bed for the last year or so wouldn't fit in my new room. My dream of a good night's sleep was kind of shattered at that point. One more thing to try to get rid of on Craigslist.

Days passed and I still had no internet access. Eventually Brandon offered to come over to take a look at the set up. It was my deep hope that he knew more about all this stuff than I did. Thankfully, he did know more about it than I did. But it would turn out, he really didn't need to know more about it.

Roommate #1 drops in while Brandon's hard at work. And in the span of about a 3 minute conversation, it's revealed that he gave me the wrong password Sunday night. So there's our miscommunication. He told me the password and I was gullible enough to believe him.

But now it's all settled. I'm back online, sharing with you, my 43 loyal readers, all about my days of solitude. It was harder than I thought it would be, not having the internet to console me after a long day at work. But that's all over now. It's good to be back.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Justin Potato Head

I am posting this video on behalf of my dear friend Aaron who currently does not have access to the internet. Hope you will find this delightful video of my three year old entertaining.

Break

Well, I've crossed into day number three in which I have no internet access in the place I now live. This is a difficult thing for me, because I'm used to spending so much of my free time sitting at my computer.

I shouldn't say that. Yes, I'm at the computer a lot, but just because I don't have internet doesn't mean my computer doesn't work. In reality, I spend a lot of my free time moving around online. Checking Facebook. Checking Twitter. Checking out the stats for my blog. Writing new posts for my blog. Without the internet, I kind of feel lost.

I know how sad that sounds. But I'm willing to bet a lot of people in our world would feel the same way. Probably not the majority of humanity, but I'm certain I'm not alone in my frustration at not being able to just look something up as soon as it comes to mind.

I never would have thought that I'd spend two mornings in a row having breakfast at McDonald's just because they offer free Wi-Fi. That's not very good for my stomach or my wallet. So I've got to stop. Which means, for now, no more blog posts. At least not from me.

I've asked the Most Awesome Person I Know to write a guest post and I'm hoping she'll do it. I've also got a few other people I can ask to write something that I think would be interesting. It's just a shame I won't be able to read what they write.

Don't get me wrong, I'll still check my e-mail whenever I get a chance. If I'm somewhere that will allow me to connect to the internet, I'll see what's happening on the Facebook. But for the most part, this is a situation that I cannot control.

There's a possibility that I could have internet at home tomorrow. There's a chance that I won't have it until after next weekend. It's all very up in the air right now.

A friend from high school told me that I should enjoy the freedom while I had the chance. I feel a little bad that I have a hard time considering my lack of connectivity "freedom." From my perspective, it's a small form of torture. But for the next few days/weeks/whatever, I'm gonna try to change that perspective. We'll see how freeing this can be.

Don't forget me when I'm gone. Hopefully I'll be back sooner than later.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Disconnected

So I'm in my apartment. It's a place I'm sharing with 2 strangers. Okay, I don't care what MTV shows us, moving in with strangers isn't so much about the extremes of crazy fun and crazy drama.

I got in there and slept on an air mattress last night. I had planned to sleep on the same sofa that I've been sleeping on for the last couple years. But we couldn't get it into the bedroom. And so, it's one more thing I have to try and get rid of.

Add to that the fact that I absolutely could not connect to the wireless network that they supposedly have set up in the apartment, well, it made for a very long night.

Apparently there are a lot of kinks to work out. I've got a lot of unpacking left to do and a lot of rearranging to make the room fit me. I don't really believe in the whole feng shui thing, but it would be nice to have a space that I can enjoy spending my time in. And I'll be spending a lot of time in there, believe me.

I'm pretty much thinking of treating it like a dorm room. I think I have a mini-refrigerator coming my way thanks to my friend Kara. Sidebar: Thank you to Kara, Brandon, and Mark for helping me get moved in yesterday. Extra thanks to Mark for driving his truck down to Wake Forest to help load up a U-Haul trailer with my stuff. Not sure what I'd have done if he hadn't been able to be there.

Anyway, back to the dorm room... Right now it's a huge mess. It's very un-feng shui. Is there an opposite of feng shui? I've got boxes and plastic tubs filled with things. I've got a picture in my mind of how I want it to look when it's all said and done, but for the moment, it feels very overwhelming. Kind of like my life right now.

I'm going to need to buy a bed. Though the air mattress I borrowed from my mother worked pretty well. But it's too big for the floor space. Yeah, sure, it can deflate in a matter of minutes, but it'd be nice to have something along the lines of a twin-sized deal.

Something else that would be awesome? The ability to connect to the internet. I've got a laptop and a Playstation that I kind of feel are slightly worthless without the ability to get online. I need the internet for my Netflix. I need the internet to write on this here blog. To some people the ability to get on the internet might be a little thing that they can do without. But it's become such an integral part of my life, it's hard to go back to a life without.

So here's my plan, are you ready? I'm gonna spend my free time this week trying to get my dorm room situated. After that, I'll call the cable company and see what I can do about the internet situation. I'm wanting to get a DVR for my room anyway and they'll have to run cable in there for that. Maybe they can figure out some way to split the cable internet into the room so I can be hardwired in. I don't need wi-fi. It's just more convenient. But if it means being able to check my Facebook, I'll stay tethered to a cable. I really don't mind.

I'm trying to be optimistic. And maybe after a couple weeks things will be a lot better. It's just really hard to see that far ahead of me when there's so much piled up in front of me that I have to wade through first.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Who's Up For Hot Dogs?

Just saw this commercial on the TV this morning. It's not so much hot dog thing, but the faces that spew ketchup and mustard kind of terrify me. I mean, that's like some kind of Exorcist stuff.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Can't Give This Stuff Away

So for about three weeks, maybe a month, I knew I would be moving from my awesome apartment back to Roanoke. For two of those weeks, I've known I'd be sharing an apartment with two other guys. This, of course, would bring me from my own fully furnished apartment to one bedroom of my very own. This meant I had to get rid of a lot of things.

Craigslist to the rescue, right? Well, that's what I thought. Didn't work out so well.

Before I listed anything, I asked around at work, to see if anyone there wanted any of the stuff I was trying to get rid of. I had one co-worker who wanted one of my dressers and the floor lamps I kept in the living room. Other than that, I didn't get much interest from the folks at the bank.

At that point I placed my ads on Craigslist. I had a grand total of one legitimate hit. The first day of my first ad, a guy came by and bought two of my bookshelves. After that, I've sold nothing. Not that I haven't been contacted. But they were all shady kinds of e-mails. One was saying he'd send me a money order via UPS and send some moving guys over to pick up the furniture. Yeah, I don't think so. I specifically put in the ad that I was only taking cash. Something about that just didn't seem right at all.

The point is, I haven't been able to get rid of anything else. And we're talking some pretty decent furniture here.

I mean, really, do these things look that bad? I've lowered my asking prices several times and now have reached the point that I'll just take whatever someone offers.

This Saturday is my last chance to get rid of these things. And it's not just the pictured items above. I've still got a coffee table, an area rug, another dresser, and a TV with a DVD player built in. It comes with a real working remote control if that cinches it for you.

I just don't get it. I literally can't even give this stuff away. And I certainly can't take it with me. There just isn't room in my single room that I have to myself. Anybody have any suggestions? Know anyone in the Raleigh area who could use some furniture? I've kind of run out of time here. I mean, it would have been nice to have been able to sell these things to have a little bit of money to help with the moving expenses. But at this point, it's just got to go.

I feel like I'm giving up on the furniture I've had for four years. It's been good furniture. I mean, I didn't name it or anything. I'm not crazy. But I've enjoyed my time with it. I hope to find it a good home.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Transition

Moving back to my hometown of Roanoke, Virginia has been a little bit harder than I imagined it would be. I mean, I grew up here. This is where I went to school. Where I grew up in church. Yet, coming back here is like moving to an entirely different world than the one I've grown so used to.

Before I moved to Wake Forest, I dreaded it. Sure, there was a part of me that was excited about starting a new phase of my life, but I was basically terrified. This seems to be a running theme throughout my blog posts this week. But it's what I'm feeling these days, I promise I'll move on to more optimistic posts soon.

Anyway, I adjusted. Wake Forest became my home. I'm sure it took a while. But eventually it's where I fit. I say that because, looking back, I can't remember feeling about Wake Forest the way I do about Roanoke today.

In the few weeks since learning of my new position at the bank, I've been asked a hundred times if I'm excited to be moving back home. Of course, I've been telling people yes. Because that's what they want to hear, right? But is it really what I've been feeling?

Like with my initial move to Wake Forest, I suppose there is a certain element of excitement. There should always be some kind of excitement when faced with a truly unknown next step. That's part of the adventure of living. But honestly, I think I feel more afraid about moving back here than I did about moving to North Carolina four years ago.

But I don't want to focus on being afraid. If I do that, I'll look for my first escape back to North Carolina, and that could cause me to miss out on something incredible. I don't know what that incredible something could be, but I hope it's something incredible. Wow, that was redundant.

Instead, let's focus on what I'm coming home to. Obviously, my family is here. Now, there are pros and cons to that aspect of coming home. I won't list those here. It's probably bad enough that I'll have family members reading this seeing that there aren't just pros to being near family. Look, we all have family and it can be a wonderful thing. But if you don't have a list of cons where blood is concerned, you're kidding yourselves. Love you folks, really do, but like I said... there's good and there's bad.

Moving on. There's a new job. Again, pros and cons that I won't go into here. There's the excitement of something new and fresh and the potential for a higher income. But there's the fear of failure. I close my eyes at night and then I hear the voices. Not literally, but you know the ones I'm talking about. The ones that whisper the "what if's" into my not-quite-sleeping brain. What if I'm not good enough? What if I can't adjust to the new job? What if I go through all the proper training (all 3 months of it) and still can't get the job done? How do I turn those questions off?

But then there are things that Roanoke has that Raleigh doesn't have. There's a big fluorescent star on a mountain in the middle of the city. I mean, who doesn't get turned on by a hundred foot tall neon star? There's Macado's, my favorite restaurant of all time. Don't ask me why, because I really don't have an answer. It's a sandwich place, and sandwich places should really be a dime a dozen. But to me, Macado's is kind of special. Raleigh didn't have anything close.

Roanoke also has a closer proximity to my college friends. These are the people that I know will be my friends my entire life. They're the ones that I can share anything with and could go years without seeing, but still be able to pick up right where we left off as if we didn't miss a day together. Now I won't have to go years without seeing a lot of them, because I'm a lot closer to them.

But I will miss things in Raleigh. I'll miss the Cheesecake Factory. Ironically, the only time I ever had a real meal at the Cheesecake Factory was when I was visiting the Charlatan back when he lived in Charlotte. But I did stop by the one in Raleigh a few times and got a slice of cheesecake to go. Really, is that any more special than getting cheesecake anywhere else? Wait, let me answer that. Yes, it is more special.

Raleigh also had a P.F. Chang's, which was phenomenal. If I'd had the chance to actually ask Spider-Girl out on a real date, I probably would have taken her there. Assuming she liked Chinese food. Place was phenomenal. I already said that, didn't I? Moving on...

Raleigh didn't just have great restaurants (although the Moonlight Pizza had some pretty amazing pizza), it had people that I'll miss, and already miss. I miss my co-workers, believe it or not. I wrote a lot of Legends of the Bank Teller, and not all of them were positive legends. But when it comes right down to it, I enjoyed working with those guys. I know I just said this the other day, but it's worth saying again. For every time I got frustrated over a customer, causing me to kick my coin locker, there were just as many times when I was able to laugh, or to make someone else laugh. Made it all worth it.

And, of course, there's the Most Awesome Person I Know and her five kids. They were my family for four years, and as far as I'm concerned, they still are. I'm sorry that I didn't see them in recent months as much as I used to. But as it usually does, life got busy and hectic for each of us. Luckily there's the magic of cell phones and Facebook and Skype to help with the whole "keeping in touch" thing.

Maybe it sounds crazy, but there's Spider-Girl too. I know nothing happened between us, and now there's about a 99.9% chance that nothing ever will. But the possibility once existed. That's one of the things I'll miss about Raleigh. I'll miss the opportunity that might have been.

But what's to come for me here in Roanoke? I honestly don't know. You might look back at my posts from the last few days and assume I've already decided to give up. There's a part of me that wants to give up. That's probably the easiest thing to do at this point. But I can't do that. I won't do that. If I give up now, how will I be able to look at myself in the mirror? How will I be able to respect myself? How will I ever expect anyone else to respect me?

No, the easy way isn't always the right way. I'm embracing this transition. This move is just the next step in becoming the person that I'm becoming.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

AFI 76 - Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump
1994
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Netflix sleeve: Winner of six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, director Robert Zemeckis's charming blend of comedy and drama stars Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump, a simpleminded man who finds himself in the middle of nearly every major event of the 1960s and '70s. Along the way he makes friends, changes lives and searches for a soul mate. Hanks nabbed a Best Actor Oscar for his remarkable portrayal of this unsophisticated yet surprisingly wise Forrest.

Ever since this movie first came out, it's been one of my favorite movies. I think Tom Hanks is great in it. I think the story is awesome. I love how this one guy finds himself in so many historical situations, just through simple luck. My grandmother used to love this movie too. Whenever I saw her, she would get me to do a Forrest Gump impression. And she took it to another level. Several years after the movie was released, she had me record the outgoing message on her answering machine as Forrest Gump. That has nothing to do with what I think of the movie, just a little personal note. It's a great movie, and if you haven't seen it, shame on you.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Legends of the Bank Teller: Starting From Scratch

Look at that. An actual title to go along with the heading of Legends of the Bank Teller. Impressed? Well, you should be. If I need to wait for you to become impressed, I can wait. After all, by the time you're reading this, I'm long done with it and I have nothing but time on my hands.

I figured I'd start doing something new with these Legends. After all, I'm in a new place. It's like starting over. Hence the title.

I'm in a different state than I used to be. This adds all kinds of new challenges to this job that I've undertaken. See, one of those challenges is the fact that Virginia uses a different computer system than we used in North Carolina. Do you understand what that means for your friendly neighborhood former drive-thru teller? It means that I have to go through all the training that I went through three years ago. All over again.

Today was orientation. No one could really understand why I was enrolled in the new hire orientation, as if I didn't take that "welcome to the club" class when I was first hired in 2008. The boring videos that we were shown haven't changed. Not even a little. And I'm sorry, but yes, they were boring.

The woman teaching the class told us all that she was also new to the bank. So really, I had seniority over everyone in that room. Crazy, right? There were a few times when she would look at me and ask questions. I really would have rather they all just pretended that I knew nothing. That's kind of how I want to look at all of this. I want to start over. I want to start from scratch. I kind of want to pretend that I know nothing.

Because as I went through my day today, I started feeling a little overwhelmed. It wasn't anyone's fault but my own. What I really think happened was that it all started to hit me. If it was just moving from one place to another, I think I'd be okay. If it was just me taking on new responsibilities in a new job, I think I'd be okay. If it was just me trading one group of friends for another group of friends, I think I'd be okay.

But it's all of those things happening at the same time. I moved to another city. I started a new job. I said good-bye to the friends I've known for several years to say hello to the friends I've been missing. Any one of these things can be stressful for a person. All of them at once can be a nightmare.

I don't want it to be a nightmare. I keep reminding myself that this is all supposed to be a good thing for me. Eventually I'll start to believe it. But as the minutes of my work day ticked by, I couldn't help but think, "What have I gotten myself into?"

My new coworkers are great though. They seem like a really fun bunch and I know I'll get along great with them. My quick wit and dry sarcasm has already been welcomed there and I've already been told I'll fit right in. Even so, the doubt is something that too easily sneaks into my mind.

So here I am. Starting over from the very beginning. All I can do is my best and hope that it turns out to be good enough, not only for my new work family's expectations, but for my own as well.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Opportunity

I know I usually use these Sunday Scribblings posts as an opportunity to get some fiction writing done. But with my new situation and my change of scenery, I thought it appropriate to just use the prompt to go with some real life stuff.

Change is hard for me. I'd be willing to bet that if a lot of us were honest with ourselves, it's hard for most of us. We get comfortable and start to like our situations, no matter how good or bad they may be. In some cases, that comfort zone can be a good thing, if it's a healthy kind of comfort zone. But in others, the comfort zone can be a very dangerous place.

For me, the comfort zone for the last few years has been a place where I've managed to stagnate. Nearly four years ago, I was certain I was expanding my horizons by moving away from my hometown to work on my masters degree in seminary. I reconnected with old friends. I got into a part-time job. And I lived my life. Day in and day out.

Eventually I discovered that seminary was not the place for me. The part-time job became a full-time job. Like it or not, this was where I was. And I lived my life. Day in and day out.

But I wasn't really living my life. I was working. And I was working some more. I was struggling to make ends meet and I wasn't making time for myself. I wasn't putting myself out there. I wasn't meeting people and making new friends. I confined myself to a circle of friends that included myself and roughly two or three other people. This is where I got comfortable. Day in and day out.

I never stretched myself. I never left my comfort zone. I never put myself out there to become vulnerable. I never let people see the real me. And by doing so, I missed a lot of opportunities.

In the last few weeks, I became attracted to this girl. But because I was afraid of rejection, or maybe even afraid of the possibility of happiness, I didn't act. I'm sure my inaction caused me to miss a lot of opportunities where she was concerned. There's a big part of me that hopes, despite my new location, that story isn't over. If it is, I have no one to blame but myself.

I'm back in my hometown. It's a place I haven't lived in four years. And even though it's all very familiar, I can't help but be terrified.

I've been back here for five hours and I'm already missing my comfort zone. I miss my apartment. I miss my limited circle of friends in Raleigh. I miss my co-workers. And yeah, I miss Spider-Girl.

But this is what I needed, right? This new job is going to stretch me. Being back in my hometown is going to stretch me. Being in a new apartment with two roommates that I don't know is definitely going to stretch me.

I can start my new job tomorrow still feeling afraid, or I can view it as an incredible opportunity. It's an opportunity to learn. It's an opportunity to grow. It's an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. It's an opportunity to have a better life than my comfort zone has limited me to for the past four years.

I loved and hated my life in Raleigh. I loved it because I had grown comfortable. I loved it because I genuinely did enjoy a lot of aspects of that life. I loved the friends that I actually had. I loved the coworkers that became like another quirky family for me. But I hated not having time to enjoy it more. I hated having to work two jobs to make ends meet. I hated being tired all the time and not being able to make time to do the things I loved more.

Now I'm here. Now I have more opportunities to do the things that I'll love to do. I'll have more time for myself. I'll have more time to read. I'll have more time to write.

So it's time for me to choose. Do I go through my next days and weeks feeling afraid? Or do I embrace the opportunities that are going to come along as I continue to live my life? Day in and day out.

This prompt came from Sunday Scribblings. Go check out what others had to say.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode CII

And here we arrive at my final Legend of the Bank Teller taking place in Raleigh, North Carolina. Future legends will be coming to you from Botetourt County in the Commonwealth of Virginia. But let's end things in Raleigh with a bang, shall we?

My last week in Cameron Village was a fairly typical week at the bank. I enjoyed my final Wednesday off (since I'll be getting 40 hours a week in the new position). I got to see Spider-Girl one last time on Thursday. And then Friday was a typically busy Friday.

But Friday was a little different. Because it was my last Friday. It was my last day. Period. And it was incredibly bittersweet.

I saw a lot of people come through my drive-thru. Some were genuinely happy for me in wishing me well on my promotion and my move to Virginia. Some said the obligatory "good luck" just to be polite, but you can tell with some people that they just don't mean it. But, to be fair, with a lot of those people, I don't mean it when I tell them to have a good day either. We all go through our lives playing our parts insincerely from time to time.

But the work day itself wasn't anything special. It was the after party that was slightly off the charts.

Barney Stinson had us all over to the clubhouse in his building. It was a pretty decent set-up with a pool table, a couple TVs, and Jell-O shots. The apartment didn't provide those. Barney did. And he was kind enough to include lime, my favorite flavor of Jell-O.

A little side note, I've never done shots of any kind, Jell-O or otherwise. I also hadn't had a sip of any kind of alcoholic beverage since New Year's Eve three years ago. Then, it was just a glass of champagne. I've never in my life had enough alcohol to make me drunk. But I was willing to give the shots a shot. Why not? I was among friends and Barney had offered to let me crash on his couch. So what did I have to lose? Aside from possible liver function.

We got to the clubhouse at the apartment around 6:30. A few minutes later, I was offered my first small cup of lime flavored lighter fluid. Without fear, I tossed it back. And wow, that was some strong stuff. Now, Barney's the one that made them and he, himself, said that they were strong. Now this is the kind of guy who takes his drinks with more than average alcohol. So for him to say they were strong, they must have had a lot of vodka.

Shot one didn't phase me. And then we ate. Pizza provided at no charge from a client that banks with us. That was pretty awesome. I had three slices, so that helped to absorb what was to come.

We played pool. We told stories. We laughed. A lot. And in total I threw back eight of the lime Jell-O shots.

Obviously, I survived, so let's not panic about the amount of alcohol I consumed. As I said, I've never been drunk before. And as far as I could tell, or anyone else could tell for that matter, I still have never been drunk.

Eight of these shots and I felt nothing. I assumed, going into this thing, that I would be a lightweight and would behave unpredictably after my first three shots. Then I hit five. And I began to wonder if I was doing it wrong. Barney told me he was impressed. He was more impressed once I topped it off at eight. By 10:30 I had finished my last one, but still felt no different. I was a little tired, but I chalk that up to the fact that I only received three hours of sleep the previous night.

So thanks to this going away party and my willingness to finally participate in some drunken shenanigans, I discovered that I have a genuine super power. I am impervious to the effects of alcohol.

Now, there's a good chance that my mother and even my grandmother will be reading this. Don't worry family members, I'm not going to start turning to alcohol as a form of recreation. At least not on a regular basis like some folks do. No, I figure it wouldn't do me any good anyway.

It is a little disappointing to know that if I'm ever involved in a bad break-up, I won't be able to go out and drown my sorrows.

As for the rest of the party, I had a great time with everyone. I'd post pictures, but I forgot my camera. And Barney's girlfriend hasn't uploaded her pics to Facebook yet, so I can't steal those either. But, even without photographic evidence, I can guarantee that a good time was had.

Thanks to my manager and all my co-workers for two memorable years at Cameron Village. I may not have always enjoyed my time there (as seen in many of my blog posts), but that was no reflection of the people I worked with. I genuinely mean it when I say that I'll miss seeing them on a regular basis. Luckily I'll be working for the same bank, so staying in touch shouldn't be a problem.

Crazy Cat Lady

I'm not sure if this video has reached viral status. I've been a little out of the loop for the last day or so. Uh, is this woman for real? I might have to rethink my feelings for the Spider-Girl. This cat woman might just be the one.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Green Lantern

I said I wouldn't go to movies at midnight anymore. I added it to my Murtaugh List. But that's exactly what I did.

I could've waited to see Green Lantern in brightest day. Instead, I saw it in blackest night. This is what happens when we make promises to our young friends.

And that's why it happened. Yes, I wanted to see this movie. I've been a fan of the Green Lantern since I was a kid. I think it would be pretty awesome to be the guy who has a super-powered ring that makes anything you can imagine into reality. But I could've easily waited to see it Saturday afternoon. But my inner comic book geek wouldn't let me wait. So a few weeks ago I mentioned to Bryce that I would take him to the midnight show if his mom would let him.

You know, it would be great if I could get by on 3 hours of sleep on a regular basis. Imagine all I could do with 21 hours every day. I could read more. I could write more. I could finally learn to play the piano.

But this shouldn't be about my inability to function on minimal sleep. This is about a movie that I saw in the middle of the night.

Ryan Reynolds stars as Hal Jordan, the first human being chosen to be a Green Lantern. In case you weren't aware, there are 3600 Green Lanterns all across the universe. Before Jordan was picked, it was thought that humans weren't capable of wielding the ring, described as the most powerful weapon in existence. It's described that way because it's only limited by the bearer's mind. And that's your basic story.

Hal Jordan is this cocky test pilot who is chosen by a dying Green Lantern's ring to be his replacement in the Green Lantern Corps. It's a sink or swim situation for him as earth quickly becomes the target of a galactic threat known as Parallax, the embodiment of fear in the universe. His fellow Lanterns don't have a lot of faith that an earthman can successfully protect his assigned sector, but Jordan rises to the challenge and saves the world.

Ryan Reynolds was perfect casting for Hal Jordan. The guy nailed cocky and sarcastic a long time ago. As far as the other characters that were translated from the comics, they were mostly good. Sinestro, another Lantern who will eventually become Jordan's arch-nemesis, was done very well by Mark Strong. I thought that some of the other aliens looked a little awkward in the CGI, but that's probably just the way I think about CGI. As for Carol Ferris, Hal's boss/love interest and another future enemy (Star Sapphire), well, I just wasn't sure about her. There were moments when I thought that Blake Lively was doing all right. But there were more moments when she seemed very cold and rigid. Overall, I think she did do a better job as Carol than Kate Bosworth did as Lois Lane in Superman Returns.

It was a pretty decent movie. Nothing deep, and it certainly won't touch The Dark Knight in the world of super-hero movies. But it was a fun movie. It was your typical summer, popcorn blockbuster. They kept things light and interesting enough to get me to like it. I think it's worth seeing. Especially if you're a little bit of a geek like me.

Question of the Week: Mirror

How many times during the day do you look at yourself in the mirror?

Hardly ever. I know I look good. I don't need proof.

That's the short answer. I really don't look in a mirror very often. Brushing my teeth, shaving, just to make sure I didn't miss anything important. Even when my hair was long enough to be manageable, I never cared enough to sit and stare in the mirror at it. The glimpses I catch of myself in the mirror are incidental, limited only to the times when I'm standing at the sink to wash my hands in the bathroom.

*Question of the Week comes from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

AFI 77 - All the President's Men

All the President's Men
1976
Directed by Alan J. Pakula
Netflix sleeve: The film that launched a thousand journalism school students, All the President's Men chronicles how the work of reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) contributed to the public downfall of President Richard M. Nixon. The duo connected a Washington, D.C. hotel break-in with a Nixon "dirty tricks" team assigned to discredit Democratic rivals, launching a series of tense events that forced Nixon to resign.

I first saw this movie back in high school. As much as I love to write, it didn't inspire me to major in journalism once I got to college. Looking back, there's a part of me that wishes I had majored in journalism. But that wouldn't have been inspired so much by Woodward and Bernstein as it would have been by Lane and Kent. That's not to say it wasn't an inspiring movie, as far as investigative journalism goes. I just don't know that it would wind up in my personal top 100.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Relaunch

The other day I started listing off DC Comics' newly rebooted comics and gave some of my opinions about them. And I implied that I would go through all of them over the course of a couple blog posts. But you know what? That's a lot of comic book titles to go through. Mostly, my concern is with the amount of time it takes to organize all the cover images that I was planning to use along with those titles. So I'm sorry if you feel like I'm being lazy, but I'm not using the images for the rest of these things. I'm just gonna make a list and share my brief thoughts. I don't want to leave it undone, especially since I said I would go through them all. And so, without further gilding the lily and with no more ado, I give you the rest of DC Comics' relaunch...

All-Star Western - Here's where we'll see Jonah Hex. I saw the movie, wasn't that impressed. But then again, I'm not really a big fan of the westerns. Not interested.
Animal Man - This is a character that kind of has a cult following. I don't have anything against the guy, but I won't be getting it. Not interested.
Aquaman - I've never been a big fan of Aquaman. The jokes that they make about him in pop culture are pretty much the same things I think about him. However, this title is written by Geoff Johns. He's the guy that has turned Green Lantern into the awesome character that he is these days. I'll get anything that Johns does. Monthly.
Blackhawks - Used to be these guys were World War II characters (I think). Whatever the case... Not interested.
Blue Beetle - I've liked this character since he was first introduced. The Blue Beetle I grew up knowing was killed in one of those big events. This kid was introduced not long after. But I didn't stick with his original series, even though the issues I got were very good. I'll give this a shot. First issue.
Captain Atom - I can see some of this character's appeal after a recent stint in a mini-series. But I'm just not that into it. Not interested.
DC Comics Presents - This is being billed as an anthology series. Not really sure what to expect. First issue.
Deathstroke - Here's one of the bad guys. He's a hardcore mercenary. Not interested.
Demon Knights - This is supposed to take place in the medieval DC Universe. Like westerns, I don't really get into the comics dealing with the magic side of things. Not interested.
Flash - Most recently, Geoff Johns was writing this book. But he's not anymore. But I still like the Flash. First issue.
Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE - Really? Not interested.
Fury of Firestorm - Like Animal Man or Captain Atom, I don't have anything against this character (or characters, since the hero has more than one personality hanging out in there). I'm just not into it. Not interested.
Green Arrow - I go through phases where I like Green Arrow and then I don't. I'll give it a try. First issue.
Green Lantern - Thanks to a lot of what Geoff Johns has done over the last few years, this has been DC's consistently best title month after month. Without question. Monthly.
Green Lantern Corps - Without question. Monthly.
Green Lantern: The New Guardians - This is a new title spinning out of Green Lantern. So... yeah... Monthly.
Grifter - I have no idea. And couldn't care less. Not interested.
Hawk and Dove - Not a fan. Never really have been. Even when they supposedly killed the characters and brought them back. Not interested.
I, Vampire - Like the Frankenstein title. Really? Not interested.
Justice League - Okay, it's got all the big guns. How can I not get it? Monthly.
Justice League Dark - It's a different Justice League. The kind that deals with magic and stuff. Not interested.
Justice League International - These guys were the Justice League when I was a kid. Plenty of nostalgia there. Monthly.
Legion Lost - I've just stopped caring about the Legion of Super-Heroes. When it was closely connected to Superman, they had me. But these days... whatever... Not interested.
Legion of Super-Heroes - See above. Not interested.
Mister Terrific - This is an interesting character that I used to like reading along with the Justice Society. But everyone else from the Justice Society seems to have disappeared from the new DC Universe. Why should I care about the one that got left over? Not interested.
OMAC - Any character that has gone by the name OMAC has been confusing. Not interested.
Red Lanterns - Another new one that spins off of Green Lantern. Monthly. Resurrection Man - I don't think so. Not interested.
Savage Hawkman - Another character who has had some confusing back stories. Hawkman has had about a hundred different origins, and they're not all that similar. And it looks like this is another new origin that has little or nothing to do with previous versions. Not interested.
Sgt. Rock and the Men of War - Sgt. Rock was another WWII character. Not interested.
Static Shock - Static was a great character when he was a part of the Teen Titans. Then he left the team and, like Batwoman, DC promised he'd get his own title. Months later, they've decided to postpone it until this reboot. But with things being so different, is he the same character? Should I still be interested? Not interested.
Stormwatch - I have no idea what this is all about. Looks like they've thrown the Martian Manhunter in with some second stringers. Not fair for the green guy, who's been in just about every incarnation of the Justice League. Not interested.
Suicide Squad - A group of bad guys that get sprung out of prison by the government to do the government's dirty work. Not interested.
Swamp Thing - I remember the movie when I was a kid. I don't know that I was ever a fan though. Not interested.
Teen Titans - Superboy's on the team. So is Batman's third Robin, Tim Drake, now known as Red Robin. What's with the wings though? He never had wings before. I've always liked the Titans though. Monthly.
Voodoo - Huh? Not interested.
Wonder Woman - While I haven't necessarily liked a lot of the recent developments in Wonder Woman's story, I still like the character and am willing to keep giving it a chance. Especially if they can explain everything that's been happening. Monthly.

Well that does it. There are some characters that don't appear to exist at this point. Where is Power Girl? I always liked her title. It was a good mix of action and comedy, and didn't take the super hero thing quite so seriously. Where's Stephanie Brown, the girl who's been Batgirl for the last two years? Where's Wally West, the guy who was the Flash for about 20 years between Barry Allen's death and rebirth? I really hope these questions get answered.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Single Guy Bites a Bullet

The Single Guy has read a lot of things written by women in which they complain about how confusing men can be. To be fair, women can be equally confusing. Case in point...

He was having a pretty good weekend. The Single Guy had a lot of changes coming up and he had gotten a lot of work done in preparing for those changes. His apartment was mostly packed for his upcoming move back to Virginia. So he decided to treat himself to an evening out. Nothing crazy, just a trip to downtown Raleigh to have some dinner.

Yes, he was alone, but he was okay with that. He decided to go to the restaurant that Spider-Girl had mentioned in one of their conversations at the bank. This is something the Single Guy wouldn't normally do. He wouldn't typically work up the nerve to show up at a place where he knows a girl he likes will be. But at this point, he figured, what did he have to lose?

He arrived at the pizza place and was seated outside. The hostess said that Spider-Girl would be with him in just a minute. That's right, the Single Guy had been seated in Spider-Girl's section, and he hadn't even asked for it. He decided to embrace the opportunity. Why question fate?

He began perusing the menu, trying to decide if he was really hungry enough to eat a pizza by himself. And then she walked up. The Single Guy couldn't help but smile when he saw her. Spider-Girl's long hair was pulled back and her eyes sparkled behind those glasses that she just seems to wear so well. She returned the smile and his heart might have skipped a beat.

"What are you doing?" she asked lightly as she set down the complimentary glass of ice water.

"I'm getting some water," said the Single Guy, being as literal as possible. "What about you?"

"Working..." she said, "like always." She went into the waitress routine, asking if he was ready to order, but he still needed some time to look over his options. And so she walked away to give him a minute.

In the meantime, the skies turned dark. A wicked storm cloud rolled in quickly, threatening to dump some rain on our hero. Other diners decided to pack up and move inside. When Spider-Girl returned to take the Single Guy's order, he had the outside seating area to himself. "I feel like I should have brought a book," he said to the Spider-Girl, trying to mock his own situation of being alone and now having no one even at the tables around him.

"I think I've got a book in my bag you can borrow," she offered. A moment later she returned with three books and a newspaper. She thought he should have options. Spider-Girl sat down at the table across from the Single Guy while he looked over the books. "So how's your car doing?" she asked, knowing that he had recently gotten a new car. "You got a Preus? No, a Yaris," she said, correcting herself.

"Yeah, a Yaris," he said, "and it's great."

"So what about that second job? Are you gonna replace it?"

"Actually, no," he said, hesitantly. He knew that if he explained his reasoning for not seeking another part-time job, he would have to reveal that he would be moving away soon. While this was information he knew he couldn't hide, he also didn't want to risk closing off the lines of communication with this woman with whom he seemed to be connecting so easily. But he continued, "I got a promotion with the bank. So I won't need the second job anymore."

"Oh, so you won't be at the drive through anymore?" she asked. The Single Guy thought he detected a note of disappointment. "Will you have your own office now?"

"No, I'll be working at one of the in-store branches. But it's in Virginia."

The moments following were a blur for the Single Guy. He seemed to think that by telling Spider-Girl that he was moving to another state, he had shattered any opportunity he would ever have to ask her out. She left to check on his order and he began reading the book that she had brought him.

She returned a few minutes later and the sky was even darker and the wind had really begun to pick up. "I should probably move inside. Even if it doesn't rain, I don't want to be the only reason you have to keep coming out here," he said, genuinely expressing more concern for her than for himself.

So he was moved to a small table inside where he continued reading Spider-Girl's book and began eating the pizza that she had just brought him. She sat down at his table again and they talked for a short while. "When are you moving?" she asked.

"Next Sunday," he said, "So I've got another week."

"What part of Virginia are you going to?"

"Roanoke."

"No way!" she looked at the Single Guy in slight shock. "That's where I was born!"

The Single Guy smiled at the incredible coincidence. "Me too!" They both laughed a little before he continued, "Yeah, I was there pretty much my whole life up until about four years ago."

"I was only there 'til I was two," she said, "But, wow, that's crazy." With that she got a signal from another customer that she was needed. So she left the Single Guy to, once again, eat and read alone.

Soon after, a friend of the Single Guy, a fellow bank survivor who we'll call Alexis, showed up at the restaurant and joined him for dinner. Of course, this meant that he now had someone to talk to and didn't have to sit alone reading and feeling self-conscious.

After a while, Spider-Girl returned and, without so much as a word, she picked up her book and walked off with it, seeing that Single Guy wasn't reading anymore and enjoying conversation with a real person. "I wasn't done with that!" he half shouted as she walked away. She turned back and smiled at him.

Once the Single Guy and Alexis had both had their fill, they asked Spider-Girl for the ticket. The Single Guy emphasized that they needed separate checks, wanting to stress the fact that this was not a date and that he and Alexis were not "together" in a together kind of sense. Not that there's anything wrong with Alexis. It's just that the Single Guy went to that restaurant with the clear intention of somehow putting himself on Spider-Girl's radar.

Alexis conveniently and thoughtfully excused herself for a few minutes, wanting to give the Single Guy a chance to have one last conversation with Spider-Girl before he left. She picked up the cash and said she'd be back with the change. When she returned for the last time, the Single Guy thanked her for everything but caught her as she was walking away.

"Hey," he said, trying to hide his nervousness, "would you like to have coffee with me sometime?"

She looked him in the eyes and replied, "I would love to have coffee with you sometime." Before the Single Guy could open his mouth to ask for her number, she told him to Facebook her. She wrote down her name on a piece of paper and he promised to talk to her soon.

The Single Guy left Spider-Girl's restaurant with a grin that didn't seem to want to go away. He couldn't remember a time in recent memory when he smiled so much. Here was this girl that he happened to think was pretty swell, and he actually had the courage to ask her out. And when she responded, she sounded like that would be a pretty good idea.

And so, the Single Guy returned home and jumped on his computer. He searched for Spider-Girl and found her on Facebook. He sent her a friend request and waited. The next day, he hadn't been accepted, so in the evening he decided just to send her a short message asking her if she was free for dinner after work on Monday. And still he waited. And then he started to get confused.

Spider-Girl seemed to give off the impression that she wanted to join the Single Guy for coffee at some point. But there had been no return in communication from her since that inital positive response. He wasn't sure what to do next. He didn't want to come across as impatient, yet he only had so many days before he left for Roanoke. He had less than a week to sweep this girl off her feet. Had he imagined the whole thing?

No. He had proof that she had written down her full name. He had a witness that saw her writing it. He was missing $20 from his wallet, so he knows he bought that pizza.

Could she be having second thoughts about this whole coffee thing? Sure, it's only coffee, but what if they were to hit it off? Would it hurt her more to have a good time with the Single Guy and then lose him in this move than it would to never share that time with him at all?

Maybe it's presumptuous for the Single Guy to think Spider-Girl was ever really that into him. But he does know that he's into her. And he tends to over think things sometimes. And in doing so, he's allowing his heart to break just a little bit when he hasn't heard from this girl that he seems to like so much.

And so, he waits.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Next Step

Once upon a time...

That's how these things begin, right? With a "once upon a time," followed somewhat closely by a "happily ever after..." Well, if you want happily ever after, you're in the wrong place. I can guarantee the once upon a time, but this tale does not end well for our protagonist.

It was a long time ago. Before television, before airplanes, and I'm pretty sure it was even before the printing press. Back when people were still superstitious and believed in all kinds of crazy things, like magic and dragons. And Shane was just a poor kid who was always down on his luck.

Shane was forced to work as a servant for the lord of the land. Lord Wells was a mean old tyrant who had ruled the countryside for several decades. No one in the land cared much for him. And rumors were spread year after year that Lord Wells' death was imminent. Yet he never died.

Day in and day out, Shane labored for the dispicable lord. Eventually he had had enough. So under the cover of night, Shane snuck out of Lord Wells' small castle and escaped into the nearby forests. Since he was a child he heard stories of the old woman in the tower. Now he was seeking her out.

If the stories were true about her, she had the power to change his circumstances. She had the ability to grant him a better life, with wealth and prestige, so that he would far outshine the horrible Lord Wells.

For three days he searched the wood. Finally he came to a clearing where he saw the old woman's fabled tower. When he approached the entrance he met the old woman sitting in the doorway. She was sewing a quilt and paid Shane no attention.

"Hello?" Shane said, wondering if the old woman's senses were still intact.

"I know who you are and I know what it is you seek," she said, still not looking up at the young man.

Shane was a little shocked. "How can you possibly know who I am, woman? I've never seen you before in my life!"

"No, Shane, but I've seen you." Now she looked up and Shane involuntarily jumped back. The old woman's face was scarred, as if she had seen a number of battles. She was missing her right eye, which was covered by a tattered black patch. "I never leave this wood, but I see everything that happens in your little town. Surely you've heard the stories?"

Shane could only nod his head. People in town called her a witch. No one knew her name or what she was really capable of, but they knew she had some great power. Stories of this power are what drew Shane to her. And now he had some proof that her power was real. She knew him without ever meeting him. He was astonished.

"I can grant you what you wish. Fame, power, riches, glory... all of it can be yours." The old woman smiled a mostly toothless smile at the boy. "But, you know, it comes at a price."

"I have no money, that's why I've sought you out," Shane said, feeling desperate. "I can work for you. I'll do anything, just please, help me to find what I'm seeking." He pleaded with her, hoping that she would be willing to help him.

"I wouldn't want your money if you had it, boy!" The old woman sounded insulted that he had even considered giving her money for her services. "You will work for me. For five years, you will do as I ask. Most of your work will be in carrying me to and from the top of the tower. My bones are too old and climbing those stairs is too much work for me anymore. At the end of your five years of service, you'll be rewarded with wealth beyond anything you an imagine."

"I'll do it!" Shane said, eager to reach the end of his five years before the time had even begun.

"Be careful, boy. Do not enter into this agreement lightly. If you do not fulfill your end of this bargain, you will find yourself cursed for all time. That will be the price if you betray me." The old woman smiled again, but this time her smile was more sinister, as if something evil lurked beneath that tattered eye patch.

Shane just nodded his head again, "I'll do it, whatever it takes, just please, promise that you'll reward me when it's all over."

The old woman stood on her shaky legs and leaned against an old wooden staff that had been leaning against the entrance to the tower. She reached up to the young man's forehead and sealed their contract with a kiss. He felt as if he had been branded somehow. For a moment there was a searing pain where she kissed him, but when he reached to touch the spot, he could feel nothing. "Let's get to work, Shane," she said as she walked into the tower.

That was how it began for Shane. And for a long time he did as he was told without questioning the old witch. Every morning he would carry her to the top of the tower so that she could stare out at the countryside from her high window. He would bring her meals throughout the day. And then at night, he would carry her back down the stairs to her bedroom. At first she was impressed by his willingness to help her and to work for her. But then she began to notice that his work was growing sloppy. His tone was growing resentful. She felt no need to remind him of his proper duties. She felt that the promise of a curse would be reminder enough.

But apparently it wasn't. After three and a half years of servitude to the old woman, Shane had finally had enough. One morning when she asked him to carry her up the stairs, he told her he wouldn't do it anymore. He said he felt that after more than three years, he had earned his reward.

"You made a commitment to me, boy," the old woman said, her voice dark and angry. "You agreed to five years of service and that's what you'll give me."

"I will not!" Shane screamed at the woman. "I merely traded slavery to one tyrant lord for another! I've still seen no guarantee on your part that the wealth you've promised will even appear! I'm through with you, witch!"

With that, Shane grabbed the woman's staff and used it to trip her. She fell to the ground with a scream. Shane ran from the tower as fast as he could. He could hear the old woman cursing at him as he put distance between himself and her.

A week passed. Shane felt sure that he was free of the old woman's grasp. He had escaped a life of slavery not once, but twice. He allowed himself to find a good night's sleep for the first time since leaving the tower. But as his guard was down, he found himself unable to rest. He woke several times during the night with a horrible, burning pain on his forehead. He had forgotten all about the witch's kiss until that moment.

Suddenly Shane was very afraid. Somehow he knew that the old witch could see him. He knew that somehow, she would find him. And he remembered the promise of a curse.

Another day passed and he spent most of it in agony. The pain in his forehead spread and he broke out in a high fever. Eventually he reached a point where he could no longer carry on. He couldn't move. He just sat in the forest with his back against a tree, waiting for death to take him.

"I told you there would be a horrible curse if you betrayed me, Shane."

He could hear the old woman's voice but he couldn't see her. He tried adjusting his eyes, trying to find her, but everything was a blur.

"Yes, blindess is just a part of what's to come for you," she said, her voice taking on that dark and sinister tone that she reserved for the most special of occasions. "You're coming back to the tower with me. But from now on, you'll climb those stairs blindly. You'll climb those stairs infinitely. Your punishment will be eternal."

Shane heard a loud crack and suddenly was aware that his surroundings had changed. He couldn't see, but he could feel that he was back in the tower, at the foot of the long staircase. She set him to climbing. He was on his hands and knees moving from step to step.

So he continues. Night and day, he never stops climbing. The witch is always behind him, discouraging him, whipping him, forcing him onward. He never gains any ground. He is continually exhausted but can never find rest. He is always reaching, always climbing, always hoping that the next step will bring his freedom. But his freedom will never come.

And he lived miserably ever after.

Today's writing prompt comes from Sunday Scribblings.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Super 8

Ah, so many memories from the road trips that found us staying at the Super 8 motels. Oh... wait... I wasn't gonna right about a hotel chain. I was gonna talk about that new movie that's out now.


There, that's better. There are several movies that are out right now that I want to go see. It's summer time. That's kind of what happens. Movie makers put all these movies out that they know people will pay through the nose to see. For me, Super 8 had a lot of competition. After all, I still haven't seen Hangover II, X-Men: First Class, or the new Pirates movie.

But of those movies listed, Super 8 was the only one that I really didn't know much about going into it. From what I've heard, the Hangover sequel is almost a carbon copy of the original. And yeah, I want to see X-Men and Pirates, but where can they really go that they haven't been before? Can they really convince me to not wait for them to show up in the local Redbox?

I don't want to put down those other movies. And I don't want to make Super 8 out to be more than it is. But I will say I thought it was a pretty brilliant movie. It could easily just be the nostalgia of the thing that makes me feel so good about it. But that's something that did appeal to me, nostalgia.

Of course there were a lot of throwbacks in this movie. It's almost like it's J.J. Abrams' love letter to all things Spielberg. If Dawson Leery got to make a real movie, I think it would look a little something like this.

Don't go into it thinking of it as a monster movie. I mean, yes, there is a monster of extra-terrestrial origin. But to me, that was almost the B storyline. Really, the thing that grabbed me about the movie was the kids. These  characters who are just trying to make an amateur movie to enter into a film festival. They get caught up in the mysterious monster hunt that keeps going on in the background, but for them, that's what it is. It's background.

These kids aren't big names (except for Dakota Fanning's little sister). Who knows if they'll ever be big names (except for Dakota Fanning's little sister)? But in this movie, they were good. And as a group, they had good chemistry. The heart of this movie is in the way these kids interacted with each other, and, in some cases, in the way they interacted with their parents.

I think that grown-ups will really like this one. Especially if you grew up loving those classic Spielberg movies of the 80s. For me, it was well worth the price of admission.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Reboot

A little over a week ago, DC Comics announced that they'll be relaunching their entire line of comic books with 52 number one issues. For those of you who don't follow the funny pages, this is kind of a big deal.

It's not so much a big deal as far as storylines go. I mean, we pretty much see a new origin of Superman or Batman every few years. Not necessarily in comics, though that happens too. But since 1986, there have been about a dozen retellings of Superman's beginnings. There have been several origin stories in the comics, there was Lois & Clark, Smallville, Superman Returns, and even an animated series at some point in the 90s.

The big deal here the renumbering of titles that have been ongoing for decades. Action Comics, the longest running comic book to date is starting over, after recently crossing its 900th issue. Detective Comics, which introduced the world to Batman and the reason National Comics became DC Comics, won't get a chance to see number 900, thought it would've only been about a year or so away from that number.

Okay, it's the story too. While not everything about this relaunch or reboot or whatever DC wants to call it has been revealed, it sure looks like a lot of the things that have been built for the last few decades is being thrown out the window so they can start all over with a big publicity stunt. And at this point, I kind of want to file this decision under "What Were They Thinking?" We can put it right next to the folder marked "NBC Moves Leno to 10PM."

I'm gonna split this up. The following will be the most recognizable of the old/new titles that DC will be putting out come September. I'll give my thoughts and decide whether it's something I want to see. For the ones I"ll keep getting regularly, I'll call it monthly. For the ones I'll give a shot initially, I'll say first issue. For any I'm not interested in I'll just say not interested.

The thing is, for years I've said that I would keep on buying these things until Action Comics reached issue 1,000. That would have been another 10 years away, roughly. With this relaunch at #1, it's now another 83 years away. I won't make it that long. But I'm in too deep to just quit now because I don't like this decision from the initial announcement. So I'll give it a shot. However, I may have to consider this the beginning of the end for me and comic books. Maybe it's time.

So let's start with the big guns. Superman and all his related titles. Really, DC Comics' original super-hero doesn't have many related titles. When we get to Batman's books, it becomes kind of clear that he's a little more popular. At least, a little more favored in the publishers' eyes. Anyway, here we have Action Comics number one. It isn't a picture of a strong man picking up a car like on the classic number one. It's a picture of a guy in a Superman t-shirt and jeans. Kind of looks like he's just picking up a big rock. Oh, and his eyes are glowing red. I'm not so sure I'm digging the everyman look. But I'm giving it a shot. It's written by Grant Morrison, who is pretty good at this comic book writing thing.
Verdict: Monthly - I mean, it's still Action Comics. They'd have to really tick me off for me to stop getting this one.

This brings us to Superman #1. Kind of looks like Superman destroyed the Daily Planet. I really hope that's not the case. I mean, where will Clark Kent work? There's a rumor that they're dissolving the Clark Kent/Lois Lane marriage in this reboot. I definitely don't like that development. If that's true, my hope is that the relationship is still there in some form. And the outfit is different here than on the cover of Action. What's up with that? Are we dealing with two different Supermen? Are these two different time periods? I'm confused. And I guess I won't be getting any answers until September.
Verdict: Monthly - Again, it's still Superman.
Ah, Superman's cousin, making her 73rd first appearance in Supergirl #1. The solicit describes her as an unpredictable teenager who has all the same powers as Superman. It also says she doesn't have Superman's concern for humanity. Kinda makes it sound like she's dangerous to even have around.
Verdict: Monthly - Again, it's still Supergirl.
Before all this reboot nonsense, Superboy was a clone created by combining Superman's DNA with Lex Luthor's. He's a character that has evolved from an obnoxious kid that showed up after Superman was killed by Doomsday into an actually interesting character who struggles with the good vs. evil that seems to battle inside his genetic code. The description we get for Superboy #1 claims he's still a clone, but the picture makes him look more like a cyborg. I think that possibility concerns me a little more than Supergirl's distaste for the people of earth.
Verdict: Monthly - You know, I'll keep getting all these Super titles as long as I'm still collecting. Superman was the reason I got into comics in the first place. When I quit Superman and his family, it'll be because I quit comics for good.

Welcome to the Batman family of books, beginning with Detective Comics, followed by about a hundred other titles. There has been an awful lot going on in the world of Batman in the last few years. For a while it looked like Batman (Bruce Wayne) had been killed. He came back to a world where Dick Grayson (the original Robin) had taken over as Batman. And then Bruce became Batman again. And he set up a Batman Incorporated, which took on the mission of having a number of Batman operatives all around the world. Now they're bringing it all back to just having one Batman. All that build up. And then a fizzle.
Verdict: Not Interested - It's not that I'm not interested in Batman. It's just that Detective lost my interest a long time ago. Of the Bat titles, it wasn't exactly the most exciting. And there was a time when I had to start cutting things for budgetary reasons. This one didn't make the cut. I don't see any reason to change that.

Batman #1 shows us a pretty tough looking Batman. The green question mark shaved into that guy's head makes it look like the Riddler has a new look. The cover also shows Two-Face and Killer Croc, along with a couple other unidentified bad guys. Guess the Batman in the new DC Universe has no problem taking down multiple super-villains at one time.
Verdict: Monthly - This one I'll keep getting. At least for a while.


Batman and Robin #1 features the one and only Batman teamed up with the fifth Robin (in the continuity as we know it). Who is this fifth Robin? I'm glad you asked. His name is Damien Wayne. He's the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul (the daughter of Ra's al Ghul). He came along a few years ago and had a rough start with the third Robin (Tim Drake). And you thought your family was complicated.
Verdict: Monthly - This one has been pretty consistently good in the past. I'll keep it going. At least for a while.

Batman: The Dark Knight #1 is a title that explores some of the supernatural elements in Gotham. It's a title that just started earlier this year and is already getting relaunched with another number one. Two #1s in the same year. Seems a bit excessive.
Verdict: Not Interested - It didn't do much for me when it started at the beginning of the year and I don't see that opinion changing.

Batwoman #1 brings us to the extended Bat-family of titles. This is a character that was introduced to the world a few years ago during DC's year-long weekly title 52. She's proven to be pretty popular thanks to some great story telling. Her solo title has been long-promised and postponed, and now we know why. DC was just waiting for September so they could publish number one along with all the others.
Verdict: First Issue - Like I said, the stories that she's been featured in have been great. So I'll be interested to see what else happens. At least at first.

Here's one that has proven to be really controversial. Batgirl #1 features Barbara Gordon as Batgirl. Some of you may not be aware that Barbara Gordon hasn't been Batgirl in over 20 years. If your only exposure to Commissioner Gordon's daughter was the old 60s Batman TV series, it might surprise you to find out that Babs was shot in the spine by the Joker and has been in a wheelchair since the late 80s. Since then, Ms. Gordon has grown into this awesome character known as Oracle. Basically, she's the cybernetic eyes and ears of the super-hero community. And now, suddenly, she's back in the cape and cowl. I really want to know how they're going to take back the last 20 years. Another problem I have here is that there have been two other Batgirls since Barbara. Cassandra Cain, who's been pretty absent of late, but recently resurfaced, and Stephanie Brown, who has been headlining her own Batgirl series, which was pretty fantastic. And now, these two Batgirls seem to just be gone. Not cool DCU.
Verdict: Monthly - It's written by Gail Simone, a writer who got into comics because of her love of Barbara Gordon. This is the writer who has written much of Oracle's stories in Birds of Prey for the last decade or so. I'm gonna treat this the same way I'm treating Batman.

Who wouldn't have a crush on Catwoman? I mean, I don't think I would be into the whole dominatrix thing. But there's something kind of hot about a chick in a skin-tight cat suit with a whip. Could I possibly sound any more sexist? Good. Moving on. She's the closest thing to a steady girlfriend that Batman is ever gonna have. So Selina Kyle is the kind of character that interests me. But if Batman's lady friend can have her own title, why can't Superman's? Where is the Lois Lane comic book? Just sayin'.
Verdict: Monthly - She's the bad girl with a heart of gold. I think it's worth checking out for a while anyway.

Nightwing is, in reality, Dick Grayson. Dick Grayson, as you may know, was Batman's first sidekick, Robin. Most recently he's been running around Gotham as a second Batman. But now it looks like he's going back to his original grown-up alter ego. Not sure if they're going to explain why.
Verdict: Monthly - I liked this title before it was canceled a few years ago. Now that it's back, I'll give it the same shot I'm giving Batman and Catwoman.

Red Hood and the Outlaws features Jason Todd as the Red Hood. Jason was Batman's second Robin, who was killed. But as is pretty typical in the comic book world, he got better. He returned from the grave with a pretty bad attitude. He's the kind of vigilante who has no real problem killing bad guys in order to instill fear into the criminal element. It looks like he's got a team made up of Arsenal (or Red Arrow), Green Arrow's former sidekick, and Starfire, an alien princess who used to be Dick Grayson's teammate on the Teen Titans.
Verdict: First Issue - I'll give it a shot, but I'm not sure that it'll keep my interest.

Batwing features a character that was recently introduced in the pages of Batman, Incorporated. I don't know much about him, but he's apparently the Batman of the African continent. Doesn't seem fair to me. I mean, Africa is a lot of ground to cover. Batman just has to deal with Gotham City. And Gotham doesn't just have Batman. Apparently there's a Robin, a Nightwing, a Batwoman and Batgirl all running around helping out.
Verdict: Not Interested - If I'm cutting titles during this relaunch, is it a good idea to start getting involved in the stories of a new character?

Birds of Prey is a series that's been around for a while. In the past, it mostly featured Oracle (formerly Barbara Gordon), Black Canary, and the Huntress. From the cover, it looks like only Black Canary is sticking around. Sure, she's bringing a lady called Katana and someone who looks a lot like the Bat-villain Poison Ivy. But this time around, the series isn't written by Gail Simone, who's done a great job with the team in the past.
Verdict: Not Interested - If Simone was writing it, I'd be on board. Not this time.

So yeah, those are the Superman and Batman related titles. Quite a bit more in the world of Batman than Superman. Did anyone else notice that? I can discuss the other titles later on. If this post didn't bore everyone to death, that is.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Question of the Week: Others

What things are too personal to discuss with others?

I think a lot of the answer to this question hinges deeply on who these others are. There are some people in my life with whom I've reached a remarkable comfort level. With these people, I can share just about anything, no matter the subject. They, in turn, have shared the same conversations with me. Knowing how I am and how little I'm prone to talk anyway, it's usually been because these close friends have been the first to approach whatever the topic may be and we've just run with it. There are some things that I never thought I'd feel comfortable talking about that I've actually talked about.

However, if those others include you, the good people reading this blog, there's probably a lot that I wouldn't feel comfortable sharing. I do share a lot. I've probably embarrassed myself a time or two through one post or another. But I don't think I've ever really crossed the line of getting too personal. After all, I've never made myself anonymous on here. While I may not just advertise my first and last name, it wouldn't take Sherlock Holmes to glean a great deal of information about my personal life from my many blog posts. I wouldn't call myself an open book, but I'm probably pretty easy to read.

Really, there hasn't been much that I've held back on here. I've discussed my personal beliefs as far as religion is concerned. I tend to shy away from political ramblings, but that's not because I think my politics are too personal to discuss. I just don't like discussing politics. Probably because I don't stay as well informed as I should, or would like to be. I do discuss my interest in dating... or lack of interest as the case may usually be.

That being said, here is a list of personal subjects that I will not be discussing on this blog:
  • Droppings of the deuce
  • My sex life, which is bound to exist at some point in the future
  • Specifics about where I work - you just need to know I currently work at a bank, that should suffice
  • How much money I make
  • Why feet freak me out
  • Why clowns scare the deuce out of me
That's about it. You can look forward to me not mentioning any of these things for the foreseeable future. And it isn't because I'm ashamed of being afraid of clowns. I just don't like talking about them, okay?

*Question of the Week comes from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Doesn't Play Well With Others

The fact that my social life is somewhat lacking is something that weighs on my mind at times. It's something I hope to work on.

Now, if you've read my blog for any real length of time, you're probably aware that I'm the kind of person who enjoys his alone time. While I wouldn't mind being in a relationship someday, it's not killing me that I'm 31 and still single. I'm really okay with it.

But I write this blog and I realize that if I'm not out there living my life and having new experiences, well, I really don't have anything to write about. Sure, I write about my past. I write about things that happen at work. I write my thoughts on the books I've read or movies I've seen. But is that enough to keep people coming back day after day?

I keep saying I want more followers. I grow envious of other bloggers who've broken 100 on their follower list. But what am I doing to attract more people? There are only so many people out there who actually care to read what I have to say about DC Comics' upcoming reboot.

So part of my hope in moving back to Roanoke is that I'll start experiencing more. I won't be working two jobs. That means I'll have more time to do things that I haven't had time to do here. It means I'll have more time to write, giving me more opportunities to be more creative. I hope.

I'm not saying it'll be an easy transition. As introverted as I've been over the last couple years, there will be a major adjustment that needs to be made. But it is my hope that I'll be able to become a more interesting person over the course of the next few months. And I hope my 43 followers will stick around and go on that ride with me. And I kind of hope you'll bring some friends with you.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

AFI 78 - Modern Times

Modern Times
1936
Directed by Charlie Chaplin
Netflix sleeve: Conceived and produced as talking pictures were taking Hollywood by storm, Charlie Chaplin's brilliant satire of the machine age was also his last "silent," even though it also features his first words spoken on film. The Little Tramp shuffles bravely forward into a maze of technology and the rapidly changing shape of society. Although barely in control of his own fate, he demonstrates pluck and endurance in the face of unstoppable forces.

I had seen this many years ago. I think I was in high school, so I couldn't truly appreciate a mostly silent film for all that it was. Really, I still can't truly appreciate a silent film for all it is. For an example, look back at my thoughts on Sunrise. This was different for me though. But not because there are a few spoken lines. I think it's more because this one made me laugh. It's not so heavy and dramatic. Yes, there is a serious nature to the subject mater that Chaplin is bringing to the screen. But it's a satire of the way the world is heading, or was heading in 1936. This is a good one. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Process

Hey kids. We need to have a discussion.

No, your mother and I aren't getting a divorce. First of all, because we're not married. Sorry, that's just where my mind went when I started with, "Hey kids..."

Anyway... Things are kind of crazy for me right now. I'm going through this insane process of moving back to Virginia after spending nearly four years in North Carolina.

In case you've missed my big news in the last few weeks, here's the rundown. I got a promotion at the bank. This new job is taking me back to my hometown of Roanoke, Virginia. In other news, my car died a little over a week ago. So I had to buy a new car.

All that is to say that there might just be days when I don't get around to writing a new post for the blog. The next couple weeks will be pretty nuts. I'm trying to get rid of my furniture since I'm moving into an apartment that's already mostly furnished. Oh, that's something I haven't really mentioned. I found an apartment to live in.

I'll be living with two roommates. I'm basically just moving into the third bedroom of this apartment. It'll be my own little world. So I won't need my stuff anymore. And we can thank our friend Craigslist for helping me to take care of this particular problem.

I'm also working out my last couple weeks in my current job at my current branch. I hear there's some kind of going away shindig happening, but that could just be a rumor.

I'm also trying to figure out if I have a shot at Spider-Girl, despite the fact that I'm moving 150 miles away. I'm thinking no. But could it hurt to have a cup of coffee?

So, anyway, a lot going on. That's why you're getting a blog post this stellar after 10 at night. Maybe I can find something better to write about tomorrow. Peace out kids.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Sweet

7-year-old Stephanie stood on her tip-toes, desperately trying to see the woman in the trailer as she worked her magic. Her daddy looked down at her and smiled, "Do you want to see how she does it?"

Stephanie, in awe, only nodded her head. She felt the strong hands of her father lift her up from under her arms and place her on his shoulders. He didn't do that too often these days. So often, he was too busy to spend a great deal of time with his little girl. She knew it was for a good reason, though. She understood how hard it was for him to be away from her so much.

Morgan Glass was now working two jobs to help make ends meet. At home it was just the two of them, but there were also a lot of hospital bills to contend with. At the age of seven, Stephanie certainly didn't have a grasp on everything, but she knew that her mommy had been very sick for a long time before she passed away last year. She also knew that those bills caused her daddy to worry a lot.

Stephanie spent a lot of her time, when she wasn't in school, staying with her grandma. Grandma had told her all about the carnival that she would going to tonight. Throughout the day Stephanie would hear stories about the carousel and the Tilt-A-Whirl. She heard all about the different kinds of food like the fried candy bars and the funnel cakes. But mostly, she was looking forward to the cotton candy.

But it wasn't just the sugary treat that Stephanie was looking forward to. She was excited to be able to actually spend time with her daddy. At home he seemed sad so much of the time. They both missed mommy, but she thought that daddy seemed a little worse. At least here, at the fair, they would be able to forget about being sad for a little while.

Sitting on her father's shoulders, Stephanie watched as the lady inside the trailer spun the paper cone around and around the inside of the machine that kept spitting out thin strands of pink sugar. Eventually those strands grew to become a huge puff of pink that the lady handed over to the little girl. Stephanie's eyes went wider as she finally held the cotton candy in her hands.

Her daddy passed some money through the trailer's window and then walked away, still carrying Stephanie on his shoulders. She loved the view from this high up. She could see over everyone. She watched the crowds on the fairgrounds as she picked off pieces of candy and popped them in her mouth.

"You know, I made cotton candy once," her daddy told her.

"Really?" This news excited her. If her daddy knew how to make cotton candy, maybe she'd be able to have it at home too.

"I sure did," Morgan said, laughing at the memory. "I was working the cotton candy booth at a carnival that my high school was having to raise money. I made a huge mess of it. I got the sticky pink junk all over my arms and I never did make the cotton candy come out as pretty as the stuff you've got."

Stephanie laughed at the thought of her daddy being covered in cotton candy. "Can we make it at home?"

"I'm sorry, sweety," he said, "you have to have a special machine like the one that lady had back there. But I promise that every time the fair comes to town, I'll bring you here. Even if it's just so you can get some cotton candy. Does that sound okay?"

"Okay," said Stephanie through a mouthful of fluff.

Morgan laughed at his daughter. "How does it taste?"

"Sweet!"

This prompt comes from Sunday Scribblings. Go over there to see other writers' takes on it!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

AFI 79 - The Wild Bunch

The Wild Bunch
1969
Directed by Sam Peckinpah
Netflix sleeve: Director Sam Peckinpah's brilliant 1969 Western epic tells the story of a bunch of aging outlaws, led by Pike Bishop (William Holden), whose botched plans to pull of one last job forces them to collude with a crooked Mexican general (Emilio Fernandez)--leading to ugly bloodshed. Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson and Jaime Sanchez co-star.

Well, that was violent. And it's good to see how far our special effects have come in the last 40 years. There was a lot of blood shed in this movie, but it was clearly not blood so much as it was a bright red kind of paint. And when I say bright red, you really need to imagine a kid's jar of finger paint. That's a close approximation I think. Not a bad movie, but it didn't do a lot for me. Though I do fully understand what Buffy meant when she told her friends not to "go all Wild Bunch" on her in the pilot episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.