Archive for October, 2008

David Letterman and John McCain

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

I imagine that if you care about this you’ve seen some of the appearance.  I just watched some of it and I’m impressed that Letterman was playing more hardball than many political reporters.

New grap release

Friday, October 17th, 2008

There’s a new grap release, to 1.43. Unless you’ve been having trouble with compilation, the upgrade’s not urgent. The CHANGES file has details. The FreeBSD port upgrade is in submission.

A disturbing dispatch from the political front lines

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Vote for who you like, but this is a little beyond the pale.  Spotted by one of Warren Ellis‘s minions.

I haven’t been this excited since Phil Collins was on….

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

Looks like I’ll need to find a TV.

Into the Longbox

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

Once again, a few weeks of comics together.

Will Eisner’s The Spirit #21, Aragones, Evanier, Hardin, Faucher. This read like a pretty good Spirit story to me. That’s never a negative thing to say about a story. It moved along crisply; the characters acted like the Spirit cast; the art looked good. Overall, I liked the issue, but I didn’t love it. I guess these guys don’t inspire me, but it seems solid work.

Captain America #42, Brubaker, Epting, Ross. A big arc ties up this issue with plot front and center. Overall, it felt a little rushed. Considering how measured the pacing of the arc has been up until now, things reached a head awfully quickly. No one steps out of character and there are plenty of threads still out there to pull the story forward. Still a great series, but maybe not the greatest issue.

No Hero #1, Ellis and Ryp. The plan here seems to be an exploration of how much humanity one loses to become superhuman. This is the same team that brought us Black Summer, and the same sorts of strengths and weaknesses are on display here. The writing is solid enough but the subtleties of the art aren’t there. We’ll see where this goes.

Top Ten Season Two #1, Cannon and Ha. Top Ten is one of my favorite series: it’s Alan Moore writing Hill Street Blues in a city populated entirely by super-heroes. It’s fairly daring in that screwing either part of it up breaks the spell completely. Top Ten was both the character-driven serial and a clever, affectionate send-up of the super-hero genre. Alan Moore pulled this off brilliantly in words while Zander Cannon and Gene Ha’s incredibly detailed art filled the panel with both believable characters and obscure in-jokes.

As if to show how difficult this is, there was an attempt at a sequel by Paul Di Fillippo and Jerry Ordway that was unreadable if you’d read the original.

I picked up this attempt because of Cannon and Ha’s clear ties to the material. It’s not bad. The art’s gorgeous, and the characters all act like they should. The plot seems less subtle than Moore might have done, but it’s Top Ten. We’ll see how it develops, but I’ll stick around for another issue.

If you’ve never read Top Ten, I recommend picking up one of the trade paperbacks from the original run.

Doktor Sleepless #9, Ellis & Rodriguez. New arc in the Doktor Sleepless story after the revelations in issue 8. We jump ahead 2 months and add a new character. It’s worthwhile to see Heavenside from a new perspective and the plot’s moving ahead. Good issue.

All-Star Superman #12, Morrison & Quitely. While this wasn’t the front-to-back joy that some of the other issues in the series was, it kept the tone and warmth that brought the Silver Age to life. There were several genuinely moving moments and it tied up the series perfectly. This series captures the world of Silver Age Superman with the eyes of compassionate fans who show it to the world through those eyes. It’s really a great series.

Madame Xanadu #3 & #4, Wagner & Hadley. I approach every new Madame Xanadu twice. First I read through and enjoy the story that Hadley and Wagner are telling, and then I go back and gawp at the layouts and art. It’s amazing how much subliminal storytelling is going on in Hadley’s art. The plots are getting a little more rooted in the DC Universe than earlier issues (though that was Jason Blood wandering around Camelot).

It’s a nice mix for me. The comics snob in me gets to revel in the balanced storytelling and the comics geek in me gets to say “look it’s the StarHeart!” If you enjoy comics on either level, pick this up.

Secret Six #2, Simone, Scott, Hazlewood. This is probably my favorite book coming out these days. In just two issues I’ve gotten wrapped up in the lives of the Six and I’m pulling for them as they are wending their fast-paced way through their latest caper. And that’s really what this is: a well-executed caper movie set in the DC Universe. A great caper movie’s tough enough to carry off in the real world, but in the twisty passages of DC continuity it can be even trickier. They’re willing to ground the goings on in the DC world without making readers spend a week in Wikipedia to keep up. The book’s full of smart, clever dialog and expressive art that tells the story both at the scale of who’s doing what to who and how each character’s reacting to the goings on. It’s something of a trifle, yet, but so well done that one could easily expect more. Even if this is all there is, it’s an awful lot.

A Day A Pilot Could Love

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

I braved the crushing economic times today to go out and polish up my skills in the air. The plan was a trip out to French Valley (F70) for lunch and then a few take-offs and landings at Hemet-Ryan (HMT) to polish them up.

Interesting day to go out. The Santa Anas are coming and a couple airmets were valid in the area for moderate turbulence in the basin. One of the things pilots are always interested in when adverse conditions are forecast is whether the conditions are actually out there, so I was interested in PIREPs in my briefing. I was rewarded by the best one I’ve ever heard: “On the ground at Chino: Instructor reports the wind is rocking his van.” (It sounds funny, but that was helpful to know….)

When the Santa Anas are out, Santa Monica often winds up using runway 3, which they were today. I went straight out toward French Valley, and was asked to follow Interstate 10 past downtown. I often avoid this clearance and head further north, but today they sounded busy enough on the approach that I didn’t argue. The overhanging airspace is 2500′ for LAX, so I passed downtown LA at about 2000′. I hadn’t done that before, and I recommend it. Very spectacular. Sorry that I don’t have pictures, but I was piloting.

I need to plot a better path, though, because the path I took brought me pretty close to El Monte’s (EMT). Close enough, in fact, that El Monte tower asked SoCal to switch me over to them. The controller didn’t have the tower frequency handy, but I basically read it to him when he asked me to stand by for it. By the time I’d talked to EMT, I was over their airspace, and they switched me right back to SoCal. It sounded like a new controller.

The rest of the trip out to French Valley was uneventful, but French Valley always seems to be busy. No exception today, there were two or three folks in the pattern and one or two inbound. In fact, I had a Yak ask to turn initial on an overhead approach inside me for landing (which I was happy to let him do). There’s something satisfying to working in to a busy pattern smoothly, and it was fun to do.

I always enjoy eating at the restaurant at French Valley. That busy pattern is fun to watch while waiting and eating. They were busy enough that I read an entire Pacific Flyer while waiting, but the food was great.

After finishing up, I toddled over to Hemet and got a few touch-and-goes in. The wind was swirling around enough that I initially lined up on runway 23, then heard the wind had turned around and I left the pattern and came back for a touch-and-go on runway 5 (the same runway, other direcction). Then it spun around and I did two more on 23.

The trip back to SMO was beautiful (Santa Anas bring clear skies), but not terribly interesting. By the time I’d gotten back to SMO the wind had turned around and I landed on runway 21.


Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Jeffrey Rowland’s Overcompensating has long been a favorite web comic of mine, but the election seems to be bringing out the best in him.  His alter ego is on the stump, and debating some familiar figures.  That second one is honestly the funniest Palin image I’ve seen; my visual cortex keeps transforming her into the comic image now.

By the way, that’s Kerry Edwards in the strips – Jeffrey changed his name to save money on bumper stickers.  That kind of thinking makes him the candidate for me.

Man, I hope Catbank is weathering the crisis OK.

Opus ending

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

It’s been pretty clear from content, but Mike Sterling points out that it’s official: Opus is ending 2 November. I’d like to be more broken up about this, but I haven’t been a very big fan of the Opus run. Breathed just couldn’t seem to find a groove that kept the material fresh and interesting for me. I did laugh a few times, and the art’s honestly quite good. Overall, I’m glad to have the space for someone new to impress me. And all those good Bloom County strips are still out there.