Friday, December 31, 2010

comics for the weeks of 12/22/10 and 12/29/10.

Skipped my trip last week due to the holidays, so I don't know which goes with what week, but I figure that's fine.

Action Comics 896 - Maybe I'm missing out on something here because I don't read Secret Six (and what a great line from Luthor about that name, when he knows about the group and there's seven of them! Best moment of the book) but it seemed a bit odd to me. Also, the situation with Vandal Savage was a little off to me. I didn't remember leaving Luthor in this situation at the end of the last book, but it played out all right. The best part of the book was the discussion between Lois (although does this mean that there are plural copies of her? Did we already know that?) and Mr. Mind. There's clearly something larger going on here, especially with Paul Cornell writing the book, and with the rapid approach to issue 900. I think we're going to see something huge, and I think the much-heralded appearance of Death will pale in comparison. (Certainly no pun intended.) I'm a little upset about having to buy and read Secret Six to get the conclusion to this story, but the next issue box with the Joker more than makes up for things! Also, the Jimmy Olson backup was awesome (again) this month, and I'll certainly be looking into buying his book when it drops.

Batman Incorporated 2 - A nice enough issue, continued well on the good things from issue 1, good enough art, a decent story from Morrison, with a satisfying conclusion, and, ultimately, the last issue of Batman Inc. that I'll buy. There's just no need, in my mind, for me to keep track of this book. This two-issue story was fine, but I can tell where the book's going, and I'm not interested. I'm not against the idea of Batman Inc. as it's been introduced to the Batman wold, but I'm not interested in breathlessly following it either. Give me Dick Grayson in Gotham, give me Bruce popping up in his life every once in a while, and give the me parenting of Damien. Alfred, of course, needs to be there. But honestly, despite how well-written this story was, there will never be a time when I truly care about the Batman of any other nation.

The Flash 8 - This was a sad issue for me, for more than just the continued lack of Francis Manapul's pencils. As I mentioned last time, it's clear that Kolins is going to be doing a good amount of work on this book, because Manapul just can't keep up the same pace as Geoff Johns. That being said, the book suffers because of it. Kolins is a more than capable artist, but it's just not as good. It's an unfortunate circumstance that he's always going to be compared, and he's always going to come out on the losing side of that comparison. As for the story itself, it started off by saying that Barry Allen was turned into the Flash in the 21st century, and it only got sloppier after that. The Reverse Flash is basically tracking through his own life, continually adjusting it so that he can be perfect, but it's a soulless tale because we didn't know any of this and don't have time to care about any of it. I don't care that he wipes his own brother from existence and I'm confused by the ending. Thawne becomes the Flash of the 25th century, due to the machinations of the Reverse Flash, (which is him, right?) who then ends the issue talking about how he'll never be Flash. Maybe I'm reading it too lazily, but I think it's confusing writing. Not up to expectations.

Green Lantern 61 - This issue, on the other hand, surpassed expectations. The appearance of the Butcher, some serious development of Atrocitus' character, and a throwdown between an entity and the Spectre! Everything in here was great, which really makes me wish that Johns would continue on this path, instead of the approach he's been taking to Green Lantern of telling at least five different stories in each issue. It's magnificent when he's able to concentrate on just one central thing, as he does here. The battle between the Butcher and the Spectre is littered with casual clues ("I warned you long ago") that are part of Johns' strength as a writer, and the aftermath, when Atrocitus sticks up for the bit character James Kim is a particularly strong moment in his development. I love the reference to the Holy War against Krona, as well. The buildup to the War of the Lanterns just got a lot stronger.

Invincible 76 - A depressingly great issue. The emotion that we get from the Regent Thragg over the destruction of his homeworld and the previous betrayal come out so strong here that I half-heartedly found myself rooting for him. Not hoping that he'd win, of course, but definitely empathizing. The way that almost literally all of the characters are taken down and out by the Viltrumites is depressing, especially given how carefully they were selected and trained for this war. Battle Beast is tossed aside, Tech Jacket looks like he's going to die, Allen is absolutely worked. Only Space Racer seems to truly understand, and when he pulls back in retreat, it seems as though Invincible and his father are doomed. However, the plan Thragg comes up with is a brutal one. I don't know if next issue is the conclusion to this arc, but it seems definite that we'll see a return to Earth for Invincible and the rest of his crew. It's gonna be devastating.

Shield 5 - Man, the layers just keep getting piled on. This book is so confusing by this point that it's almost taking away my enjoyment of the series. I still love it, I love the big ideas, I love the art, I love the ambition and scope, but this might be a series that is best enjoyed in trade paperback. Here we've got the factioning of Shield between Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton and we've got Howard Stark and Nathaniel Richards thrown into the future, trying to find a way home. Lots of heavy stuff. Meanwhile, Leonid is still being led around by Nostradamus, and we find out on the last page that the Night Machine (who's supposed to be Leonid's dad, right?) is none other than Nikola Tesla. It's such a crazy mishmash of brilliant ideas. Very post-modern. A good read, but, as I said, they might be losing my individual issues at the conclusion of this arc.

Book of the week goes to Green Lantern for the way that Geoff Johns makes even the most inhuman (and inhumane) characters into real people. Amazing work.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

i'd like to think so.

Here's to hoping the bottom quote in panel five describes my 2010. If not, here's to making 2011 a better attempt.




Dinosaur Comics can, of course, be found here.

Friday, December 24, 2010

end of the year review.

It's that time again - winter is in the air (everywhere except ABQ, apparently) and people are recounting what happened. What's the best when it comes to the media I consumed?

Books

This year, I read less than I did last year, but I still managed to get in some good ones. Other than the old stuff that I read for class (like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - good, a lot different than Blade Runner - and To Kill A Mockingbird - yup, I'd never read it before, and yes, it was as good as everyone said it was) I read a combination of stuff.

The Hunger Games Triology - When I was researching nonfiction for my class, John Green told me on Twitter that he believed these books predict the future and, thus, could be considered nonfiction. I certainly hope not, because I wouldn't survive the way Katniss Everdeen does. These books, however, deserve all the praise they get. They were great, engaging young adult novels that consistently pushed the boundaries of what could be considered appropriate for young adults, but in all the best ways. I really do think that Collins wrote part of the last one as a refutation to the Stephanie Meyer/Bella theory of women as servants. Strong characters, excellent plot line, these books were head and shoulders above everything else I read this year.

Charles and Emma - A great place for me to start in nonfiction, it proved to me that it didn't all have to be boring.

The Help - A book club selection that turned out to be a great novel, I loved most of the things about this novel. I also liked that I read it while it was popular, because it opened a lot of novel (pun!) conversations to me that I would have missed out on otherwise.

I also read Crank which seems like it's going to be really important (or has already been) to a certain subset of teenagers, and Replay, which had me thinking for a long time about what I'd do under the same circumstances. The Stand ultimately disappointed me.

As always, comic books win this category for me, but I honestly can't think of the best comics that I read this year, other than to keep harping on The Unwritten which is as close to perfection as I think we're going to get in this age.

Oh, shit! Yeah! The ending to Ex Machina! That's the one! Number one thing I read all year, definitely. With a bullet.

Movies

I watch a shitload less movies than I used to, but that's been a pretty consistent thing for a while now. Below, a ranking of the best new ones in 2010 movies that I did see and a few words on others as well.

4. Despicable Me - The best animated flick of the year. Cute storyline, immediately quoteable lines, and a winning job from a non-Pixar team that must get tired of getting slapped around.

3. Iron Man 2 - A solid sequel to what I think still might be my favorite comic book movie of all time. Moves things along nicely, uses its own story in the best way it can and sets things up for the future. Downey was born to play the part. Here's to hoping he gets to stick with it forever.

2. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - Did I say Iron Man was my favorite comic book movie of all time? I did, because this was more of a video game than anything else. That, however, is not a knock. I know it's based on a comic, trust me, but there's no denying that the comic (and this movie version) owe a tremendous debt to the world of video games. And it works. It's got heart, it's got comedy, it's got nerdy jokes at every level. The sound effects are what make the movie. Go see it.

1. Inception - I'm not going to waste my time reviewing this movie. You saw it. We all did. I know December always sees a bunch of Best Film contenders released and that I haven't seen most of those (yet) but try to remember how you felt when you walked out of this movie, after seeing it for the first time. This was the best movie of the year. Don't kid yourself.

I also saw Toy Story 3 (didn't think it was as good as everyone else did, and certainly not as good as 1 or 2) and Shutter Island (which didn't impress me) in the theaters.

Over the course of year, thanks to Netflix, I caught up on the following movies from last year, which I thought were just as good as almost everything on the list above, and I was happy to take in: Pirate Radio, Up in the Air, An Education, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The Invention of Lying.

However, A Serious Man gets a special nod for being the worst movie I saw this year, especially after all the praise it got. I thought it was irredeemable.

Music

Music is always the hardest for me to rank and it's only getting harder. With me getting older and so much music being put out, it's a losing combination. However, there were some amazing albums put out this year. This is my list.

10. Eminem - Recovery
9. Harlem - Hippies
8. Deer Tick - The Black Dirt Sessions
7. Wale - More About Nothing
6. Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid
5. Maximum Balloon - Maximum Balloon
4. Matt & Kim - Sidewalks
3. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot, the Son of Chico Dusty
2. Broken Bells - Broken Bells
1. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Honorable Mentions go to The Gallery (I have no idea if they put out an album this year, but I loved their live show!), the Roots with How I Got Over, the Knux with Fuck You, Johnny Cash's American VI, She & Him's Volume II, Band of Horse's Infinite Arms, and Kings of Leon with Come Around Sundown. Artists that were on other lists that I haven't got to listen to yet include, but are not limited to, the National, Best Coast and the Walkmen. Artists that are on other lists that I didn't find all that impressive include, but aren't limited to, Beach House, Vampire Weekend, LCD Soundsystem, Robyn, Drake, the Arcade Fire, and Sleigh Bells.

As much as I tried to deny it, it's still Kanye's world for me. I really wanted to put Big Boi on top, but it would just be me trying to make myself contrarian. The songs, however, paint a somewhat different picture.

Songs of the Year

5. Kanye West - Runaway

4. Jay Electronica - Exhibit C

3. Big Boi - Shutterbugg

2. Lupe Fiasco - The Show Goes On

1. Cee-Lo - Fuck You!

What'd I miss?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

uconn.

When it comes to sports records, I'm honestly not sure if there's one more hallowed than the UCLA men's basketball team winning 88 games in a row from 1971-1973. The mark was set with the late legend John Wooden as coach and with Lew Alcindor doing work as a Bruin. Alcindor, of course, would go on to become known later as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and set the all-time points mark in the National Basketball Association. Winning a bunch of games in a row is certainly no easy task. The all-time mark in the NBA is 33. The all-time mark in the NFL is either 23 or 21, depending on playoff inclusion. The all-time mark in the NHL is a meager 17 and the number in the MLB is 26. These are professionals playing at the highest level possible, being paid a lot of money to win. The fact that a college program set the all-time winning record is amazing. It doesn't matter if it was UCLA, a beacon for talent in an era when talent wasn't exactly well-distributed. The mark stands head and shoulders above most of the other accomplishments that are celebrated in sports.

However, the University of Connecticut has a women's basketball program that you might have head of. Head coach Geno Auriemma has done a fantastic job of guiding his teams to championships, regular season wins, and respect among basketballers of all genders. Auriemma's been at UConn since 1985 and already had a mere 70 game win-streak earlier this decade. But 70 doesn't compare to what UConn did on Sunday and what they'll continue tonight: breaking the all-time win record of those UCLA teams. After absolutely handling Ohio State, the number 10 team in the nation, on Sunday, UConn is ready to face Florida State for the record. There's little doubt they'll come away with the win and so, after that point, the question becomes: how long can this streak be stretched?

Auriemma, always the great coach, has been loathe to talk about the streak as it's been going on, but as the monkey was (almost) finally lifted from his back on Sunday night, he let loose a little. It was refreshing to see, and it was honest in a way that some people will probably be uncomfortable with.

What most needs to be said is this: Cutting through the subtle tones of sexism, or even the not-so-subtle ones, what this UConn team is about to do tonight is most likely the most impressive sports record that will be set during my lifetime. It's something that I can't imagine another team doing, even though UConn's gotten near this level already. Given how rare it is for a men's college team to have even one undefeated season, the threat will not come from that side of the bracket. Given how quickly streaks are busted in most of the pro leagues these days, the threat will not emerge from their nation either. Unbelievable as it may seem, it appears as though the greatest threat to UConn's historical dominance, whenever it ends, will be themselves.

Elite high school players should (are do) trip over themselves to get into the halls of Connecticut. Britney Griner rules the roost at Baylor and Tennessee's coach Pat Summitt may have more championships than Auriemma (likely to change this season) but UConn is the Valhalla of women's college basketball. The win streak only enhances their recruiting ability, which didn't honestly need that much help.

Those points, however, are all long-term future. For now, tonight, there's only one thing that a sport-loving American can and should do: tune into ESPN at 5 PM local time to watch a historic feat officially become history. This will be one that is a trivia question for ages. We can debate which streak is greater and we can talk about when we think it's going to end, but everyone should take at least one night to savor the moment as it happens.

Monday, December 20, 2010

comics for the week of 12/15/10.

All DC again, if you include Vertigo as DC, which I know is somewhat weird, but it is technically correct.

Batman 705 - This book is getting better with each issue. I've already voiced my pleasure at seeing new characters (and now we're seeing that they're mixed with old characters, but that's fine) and I hope that it continues along this track. I didn't read 52 but there was enough of the backstory here that I could get things. (Although is Sensei supposed to be the father of Ras al Ghul?) The interweaving of the old and the new is a nice touch, and (usually) a safe way to introduce new characters. The ending, however, seems to put a kibosh on this. I thought we all realized that the trend of making new characters the literal (or metaphorical, I don't care) offspring of established villains and have them essentially be the same villain was a bad trend? The Riddler looks terrible (shots at Tony Daniel, but also, real talk on his hair and that terrible green overcoat) and his daughter looks even worse. Bad bad bad decision making. Here's to hoping there's not a too-many-villains problem with this book next issue where they just keep trying to push it over the top.

Batman and Robin 18 - The last page, with the Absence holding that huge pair of scissors? Classic! However, the best thing about this book was the art of Scott McDaniel. I don't know why it didn't make a bigger impression on me last issue, but with Cornell writing, and the new characters, and the diving into Morrison-inspired weirdness territory, I thought it was just a perfect mix. This book can continue along its Twin Peaks-style without Morrison, and I hope that this story proves that. It'll be a nice distraction from the regular books, other than the fact that Batman Incorporated looks like Morrison continuing this track, which will double up the kooky in a realm that doesn't necessarily need it.

Green Lantern 60 - Would have been the book of the week, if it weren't for the Unwritten. Green Lantern finally feels like it's picking up, turning around, and generally getting out from underneath the post-Blackest Night malaise. The Collector turns out to be Krona, to absolutely no geek's surprise (although my friends tell me that this is probably a surprise in the general population - really?) and he snags two more entities through devious trickery. The Sinestro line about Kyle Rayner, though, was definitely the highlight in my book: "Kyle Rayner couldn't free a snowflake from an avalanche." Ohhh, diss. Great art from Mahnke, as usual. Solid read.

The Unwritten 20 - First of all, I must have missed something in issue 19, because the way 20 began was pretty shocking to me. That being said, after the initial confusion, this was another superb issue. Tom's just like any other guy in love (in love? really? I don't know but that's how he seems) in so far as he's running far and away with something that Lizzie...well...it seems she's still got some reservations. It's an interesting match, especially with the different ways they remember their respective childhoods. I was glad to see Savoy come to terms with his vampirism, especially directly to Lizzie, because I think she'll deal with it most efficiently, as we see her doing almost immediately. And, of course, the end is a killer. I'd like to think that this will be a common theme. It won't really be his dad, of course, but little aspects of himself that he put into some of the greatest works.

Book of the week goes to The Unwritten, as it's amazing month after month after month. If you're not reading this book, seriously, there's not much more that I can say.

Friday, December 17, 2010

new mexico bowl!

The University of New Mexico football season may be done, but we still have one more thing to cross off our list before the new year arrives: the New Mexico Bowl! In the age of wildly proliferating bowls, I know it's not the honor it used to be. The fact remains, however, that we've got something of a special spot this year: the New Mexico Bowl is officially the first Bowl game and gets mentioned as such. Additionally, it'll be shown on ESPN, which is always nice for Albuquerque.

The NM Bowl pits Brigham Young University against University of Texas El Paso. While there's been some griping about the teams selected, at least they both sport .500 records. Much has been made of the fact that BYU and UTEP are headed in different directions but the New Mexico Bowl should be a decent game.

With the drought officially over thanks to the winter wonderland that's been pouring down here in Albuquerque, the New Mexico Bowl might actually resemble a football game in December, too. The game starts at noon, local time, and you can rest assured that tailgaters will be out in the parking lot of University Stadium as early as 8, no matter the weather. Tickets are still available so try to make it.

An interesting tidbit about the New Mexico Bowl is that it seems to be cursed: no team that's won it has had a winning season since. As we're now two years removed from our last appearance, perhaps this ominous statistic will provide some kind of cold comfort of hope for Lobo football next season.

Monday, December 13, 2010

comics for the week of 12/08/10.

Lots going on in the world, I'm trying to do more here than just sports and comics, but if I can't manage that, I'm just going to keep doing what I can.

Batgirl 16 - Finishing up the two-part Fugitive story. To be honest, I didn't feel a lot of pull from this issue, but it's still a good book. Nguyen's art fell a but flat after the delight of last issue and the story just wasn't that intriguing. It wasn't last issue, either, but there were some things that worked there that didn't really turn out here. The subplot with the policeman continues to be a nice little touch, though, and the last page was a good hook for the future.

Fables 100 - A monster. Frau Totenkinder battles the Dark Man one on one and it's clear from the moment that it gets started that it's going a bit too easy for her. It's a magnificent battle, though it would have been nice to see her accumulating all these ideas and some of the power. (As Ozma says, "She hid it so deftly, for so long.") The battle is really the whole thing. The subplot with Nurse Spratt seems odd and, while I'm glad to have Beauty and the Beast's baby, it seems like something that'll pay off much further down the road, as opposed to the way the Dark Man is still an immediate threat. The ways that both he and Totenkinder changed throughout their battle (and the book) was interesting, and the conclusion seemed inevitable, but satisfying nonetheless. The backups in the book were marvelous, and a big round of cheers goes to the creators involved in putting this issue out. They could have just done a 68-page special for the 100th issue, but bravo for aiming high and having the balls to put out a ten dollar 100th issue. It was worth every penny.

Flash 7 - With art by Scott Kolins, this wasn't bad at all, but I definitely missed Manapul. The focus on Boomerang, though, was a bit much for me, since I've never really cared for him, especially given the other characters in the Flash Rogue gallery. The idea of him breaking Zoom out to get information also seemed half-brained. Would he really go to those lengths for something so doubtful? All in all, not a bad issue, but filled with little details that made it somewhat unenjoyable.

New Avengers 7 - This book was the best of the bunch since this title's been relaunched. It felt exactly like I expected the New Avengers, written by Bendis, to feel. The banter between all the characters was top notch, the plot was a decent enough example of how real life can sometimes be just as nefarious as a super villain's plot to take over the world. I like the hint of something coming up between Squirrel Girl (hahahaha) and Wolverine. Pretty great stuff, and the panels of interviews made up one of the best double-page spreads I've recently seen. Wong's entrance at the end capped one of the most fun and funniest issues I've read in a long time.

Superboy 2 - This book continues to impress. The supporting character of Simon Valentine is one of the best parts of this young experiment. Also, we're getting some solid ground laid for Connor to have his own adventures instead of merely walking through younger Superman's footsteps. I'm happy with the art, with the writing, and the characters. The book needs some more time to grow, but it's off to a good start.

Book of the week goes to Fables 100, for the sheer scope of their ambition. Willingham and Buckingham should get more recognition, even if you don't think they're underrated. This book continues to tell its story on a phenomenal level and they're doing things on their terms. Success.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

i cannot have obama's back any more.

Last week was a disgusting week.

When we should have been talking about Elizabeth Edwards and her courageous approach to her battle with cancer ending in its inevitable manner, we were sold out by the guy who was supposed to be the change that we sought. Joey sums up a few nice points from this TPM post but I feel the need to add a couple of my own cents.

Firstly, I've been a pretty frantic Obama-defender. Even when people were criticizing the Health Care Bill, even when he fought to keep Don't Ask, Don't Tell after pledging that he'd get rid of it, even after he refused to go hard after the Republicans that were telling outright lies.

I read this Rolling Stone piece and I thought, "Ah, there are other people who get it. It's a hard job. He's doing some significant work." I thought that, even if he wasn't perfect, he was significantly better than our other options in 2008 (and I still stand by that, obviously) and he was making some headway.

I am not sure I believe that anymore.

After Obama held his press conference to attack his fellow liberal for daring to stand up to him, I wondered why I'd never heard this sort of tone and anger with the Republicans, or the Tea Party, or Fox News, or anyone he promised he'd fight against!

Secondly, I'm not about to use this space to criticize the hypocritical Tea Party. They've been consistently outed as fools and lunatics, so I don't think it's worth the time to note their lack of protests in this case.

Third, this is probably the straw that breaks my allegiance to Obama. It might sound odd that I've accepted all the other things and defended him so vociferously and am able to turn on a dime, but this is a clear-cut issue. This is no room for debate here. There is no gray. This is a place and a time where he could have and should have drawn a line in the sand and said, "This is the wrong thing to do. I will stand over here, and if you are on the side of doing the right thing, you will join me."

Instead, he sold out every single person who contributed less than 1,000 dollars to his campaign. (All those donors that Obama for America bragged about who made small contributions are the ones who will pay the highest price for this farce.) And then, Bernie Sanders made a bigger deal of this and it went virtually ignored by the mainstream media.

While David Alexrod is out trying to spin shit into gold, the Obama administration is losing not only the battle for the hearts of minds of their most ardent supporters. Satire starts to look more and more likely when our president would rather compromise with people who would rather die than compromise with him and his party than stand up for the people who got him to his position.

Bill Clinton should know better than to get involved in this mess. This is a stabbing in the back. Meanwhile, John Edwards has suffered yet again and, because of the twisted values of our country, where it's more important to appear faithful in a marriage than actually know how to do your job, he's banished from the arena of politics, where he would show considerable more spine than we've seen from any of our leaders in the last two weeks.

It's an unbelievable betrayal for Barack Obama to try to portray this as a compromise or as what's best for the country. And it's a flat out lie to say that he's got our best interests at heart at this point.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

all politics is local - so are sports?

Here's an article I wrote about some bad times at a local high school. This is me not mentioning any specifics of the story or the school, hoping that I won't be Google-stalked by the students.

Enjoy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

comics for the week of 12/01/10.

Man. What a weird week. This time around, an old standby disappointed and Daredevil finally let me down, just like everyone had been telling me that it inevitably would.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 39 - The cover was the key. But, to be honest, this issue fell flat for me. I didn't get the sense of urgency here that I expect to get from the second-to-last issue of my favorite series in a long time. Buffy, Angel, Spike, the Master, Willow, the fate of the world...everything was in place! Maybe I haven't been reading carefully enough, because I'm not going to sit here and claim that I understand everything with Twilight and the Seed, etc. but I will say this: the major events of this issue didn't feel like they were real. They didn't have gravity. Maybe that's because of shock, and maybe next month, with issue 40, I'll feel differently, but for now, this was a bit of a let down.

Daredevil 512 - Somewhat pointless. If you read Shadowland 5, which it told you to do before you read this, there wasn't anything in DD 512 that you didn't already know. Black Panther will be taking over as the Man Without Fear for a bit. Matt has a beard and is on the road again, trying to find himself. The one-shot will be called Reborn, in another attempt to always tie everything in this book to Born Again. I've loved DD since it's been relaunched. I've bought almost every single issue since that relaunch and I've got to say that I've never been more confident about the fact that I'll be dropping the book. It's been a great run, and I liked Shadowland well enough, but I'll voice my concerns a bit more below.

Detective Comics 871 - As I said last week, the previews convinced me I was wrong not to pick this up, and I'm so glad I did. This book seems like it might be the best of the bunch! Jock puts up brilliant pencils and the story is way better than the little villains they're creating in other books. I know that I said that I like them, so it's not like I'm trying to knock the other books, but this one felt more like Batman. Dick seems extremely confident in this book and I hope that we continue to see less of Damien in this book, as he's getting his due in other places. He's a great character, but there's something to be said for Dick Grayson as Batman all on his own.

Shadowland 5 (of 5) - Ghost Rider triumphing over Daredevil on the cover is an example of a lie. In the actual book, Ghost Rider gets taken out in a little less than a page. But that's just one of the smallest ways in which this book failed. I knew that I shouldn't get my hopes up and think that they'd actually kill Matt Murdock, but it seemed like the only way this story could go. I should know better by now. Instead, we have the healing chi of Iron Fist waking up a fight inside Murdock, where he successfully fights off the Beast and then mysteriously vanishes at the end. It was a lot like the second and third Matrix movies: superb concept, almost guaranteed lead-in and miserable finish. There's little more that can be said other than Shadowland proves a fitting capstone to the run that was begun more than ten years ago by Quesada and Kevin Smith: they began this idea that Born Again could be only the beginning of destroying Matt's life, and that concept has fully run its course through his book for the duration since. If only they had killed him, it would have been an instant classic. As it stands, Shadowland is merely another story that attempts to do what Born Again did, in less issues, and more successfully.

Book of the week goes to...Detective Comics, even though it didn't even come out this week! Buffy was underwhelming, the Daredevil titles were the perfect example of how to go out with a whimper and not a band, so Tec wins by default. That's not to say that it's not its own great book. Check it out.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

lobo sports semester check in.

Almost everyone in Albuquerque knows that the Lobos sports programs aren't exactly in a great state. They can't help but know, with the Albuquerque Journal plastering coach Locksley's face and body all over the front of the sports section, not to mention his own place in the first section. If no news is good news, to the Albuquerque Journal, bad news must be the best news. Nobody's done a better job of stoking this fire under Locksley's bum than our local paper.

And to be fair, Locks deserves to be held accountable. You won't find a Lobos football apologist here. The team stinks. 2-22 over two years is not only pathetic, it's embarrassing. It's terrible having to talk football with out of town friends, and it's sad when our football team is in the national news for being so bad.

But...Locksley walked into a pretty bad situation, too. Sure, Rocky Long did better while he was here (a lot better!) but he wasn't going to do as well as he had previously if he was the coach these last two seasons. That's the simple truth.

But the real point here? If you focused on the headlines (and especially the national news media), the football team's woes would be the only thing you knew about Lobo sports. And there's so much more:

Our volleyball team just pulled down unparalleled honors in our conference. Coach Jeff Nelson has been rewarded for putting in long hours and tough work, and the women are getting ready to face the University of Southern California on Friday.

Even though we got beat pretty handily, our men's soccer team made a proud return to the NCAA Tournament. The game was especially meaningful because of the connection the Creighton coaches have to the Lobos soccer program. And, sure, the loss was a bad one, but it's a step in the right direction for a program that's been close to the top in recent history.

Of course, after the construction to the Pit last year, people were excited about the basketball team and the semi-new venue. Putting aside the so-called controversy about rich people not being allowed to booze it up, the new Pit seems a success. Similarly putting aside some of the early season jitters - and new big man Alex Kirk getting highlights he doesn't want the men's team looks to be in good shape, winning last night against Southern Illinois University.

These, of course, are not the only sports programs that are succeeding at UNM. The men's and women's cross country teams both did well at Nationals. The Lady Lobos basketball team has been uneven, but is incredibly young, and shows promise.

If Lobo football is getting the average Burqueno down, maybe it's time to try something else out. There's plenty of winning teams, and the best thing is that they're relatively unknown at this point - no accusations of bandwagoning for anyone who jumps on at this point. Support your local teams and you'll be pleasantly surprised when next football season rolls around and you're feeling up for another round.

Monday, November 29, 2010

comics for the week of 11/24/10.

All DC, nothing pressing, but some surprisingly good stuff from a small stack.

Action Comics 895 - Following Lex's pursuit of the Black Ring Energy, we get a look at Vandall Savage in this issue. This issue wasn't as fun as the last romp through Gorilla Grodd's territory, nor did it have a charming cameo from Death, but it was a good read. To be honest, I don't give a shit about Savage, nor am I intrigued by this city that's been built as a trap, but I do like the idea of Lex chasing something that'll make him even more powerful (and evil) than he already is. Cornell does a good job with the story, but it's going to need to jump a bit more next issue to keep me on board. This is strictly a trial at this point.

Batman and Robin 17 - I bought this without even noticing (or remembering) that Grant Morrison was off the title, and I thought that might be a bad thing the first few pages, but this turned into a solid read. I'm gonna say some good things about this book, but I also want to say that, with Tony Daniel here and on regular old Batman, I'm not sure I see the need for the two books. That being said, this was a good book. It surpassed the regular Batman book and also, via the preview in the back, made me realize I was wrong not to pick up Detective Comics. I love the fact that, all across the Bat lines, they're introducing new villains, and they're running with those. I hope the concept sticks and we can have some good new stuff as opposed to defaulting back to Harvey, the Joker, etc.

Batwoman 0 - I don't give a shit about the character of Batwoman, but JH Williams III on art means that I will buy this book! The run that he and Rucka had on Detective Comics was phenomenal and I love the idea of Batman (was that Bruce or not?) bringing her more officially into the fold. The art on this one was split, which was fine with me, but it seems clear that Williams III is doing the layouts for the entire book. It just looks better than almost anything else on the market at this point, other than maybe Manapul's pencils. The Crime Religion is still a stupid angle, but I guess they've got to go with it for a while, based on where Rucka started, took, and left this character. I'll be happy when she's fully integrated into Gotham and gets to play in the bigger sandlot, as opposed to fighting people that think they're living Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Book of the week almost went to Batman and Robin for being a nice surprise, but I can't take that honor away from Williams III on his great looking new book. Go get Batwoman!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

happy thanksgiving.

I'm thankful for everyone who's ever taken the time to read anything I wrote, whether we're best friends in real life, friends that don't get to talk too often anymore, or I've never met you before. I'm definitely in love with all of you. (Some more so than others, I won't lie.)

Jenny Lewis - Trying My Best To Love You

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

worst news of the day.

One of the worst-kept secrets in the sporting world is that the major leagues are in trouble. Billy Hunter, the Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association, has let things get worse: he recently said that there will probably be a lockout in the NBA. This is old news to NFL fans who, back in February, heard their Players Association Executive Director say that on a scale of 1 to 10, the chance of a lockout was a 14.

We've seen what strikes do recently. The 2004-2005 National Hockey League season was lost to the dispute and there are many people who claim that was the end of hockey's chances of being a true member of the elite club of American sports. Basketball's had its share of semi-lockouts and no one's arguing that was good for the sport.

So what's the hold up? Why are the Player's Associations and the owners so far apart in their interests and desires that they'd let this happen? From the outside, it might look a lot like greed and it's hard to empathize with someone making 1 million or 2 less when they're still pulling down at least 10 million per season.

One of the basic problems with lockouts, then, is this idea that rich people like being rich and want to stay that way. Athletes are an extremely rare subset of people and want to be compensated as such. Owners, on the other hand, have spent most of their lives making a lot of money, and don't want those revenues to decrease at any time for any reason.

Obviously, both sides are going to have to do a lot of compromising. The simple facts are that the American economy is not in a great place right now and that sports contracts have gotten more than a little excessive. However, tossing around huge numbers like sporting contracts is also inherently problematic, because we just can't comprehend numbers this big. It's extremely easy to say, "Well, 1 million, 2 million, 3 million, let's just cut this and that," and it's much more difficult to truly put ourselves in the shoes of the people who are affected by these numbers. (This is, not coincidentally, the same problem the American budget faces.)

All this being said, there has to be a bottom line and it's got to be something like this: owners become owners because they had enough money to begin with. (Or they inherited the team. Even worse.) Players, on the other hand, become players because they are phenomenally talented. They have to be rewarded at a higher rate than the owners. These leagues are a business, yes, and they should be treated as one, but the players that make up the leagues are not simply widgets produced in a factory.

These are businesses unlike any other businesses in the world. They traffic in entertainment and human value, they market people as well as events, they combine show business with a warlike attitude that has become celebrated across America. If the owners bank on being able to survive until things are resolved, it's my bet that the resolution will be quite different than they expect.

Related Reading: Yahoo on the NFL lockout. ESPN on avoiding an NBA lockout.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

my beautiful dark twisted fantasy.

Let's talk for a minute about Kanye West.

He dropped a new disc yesterday, and you might have heard of it. It's kind of been all over the place.

I'm not going to do a track by track like I have sometimes in the past, but I just want to share some general thoughts. I've had the album for at least two weeks, and I've listened to it at least 20 times in those two weeks. I've also taken in a lot of words and opinions on the album, including the (in?)famous swooning Rolling Stone review. Less famously, and less deservedly so, I dug this conversation thread, which I'm kind of thinking that I partially disagree with at the end of the day, and I was delighted to see the Rosenthal brothers get their Kayne-Stan on full-fledged in this Hypemen podcast. These words have influenced me, but I like to think that I have something original to offer.

If you want the TL;DR version, as usual, my go-to hip-hop critic Joey, sums it up best in one tweet. If you want more than that, I'm about to dig in.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

First of all, yes, it's a dumb name. Second of all, no, Good Ass Job is not better in any way, shape or form. Yeah, I've been a fan of the continuity of College Dropout and the themes continued in Late Registration and Graduation but that doesn't mean a silly title isn't a silly title.

Beyond that, the artwork was indulgent. No, it wasn't banned, and yes, the move to call it banned is totally Kanye, but I'm not a Kanye-hater. I love his music and I think I'd like him as a person. So I didn't get too bugged by that.

So past the superficial aspects, let's get to the music!

The Nicki Minaj voice that opens the album is ridiculous. I think anyone who says they love it is full of shit, but I don't think it's a deal breaker, and I don't see why anyone who's followed Nicki's career would be surprised. She's pretty consistently working in three or four different voices, and these are the same critics who love the hell out of her "Monster" verse (and deservedly so).

"Gorgeous" is better than the minimal amount it's getting talked about, and shows how good 808s could have been, if there had been some kind of musical aspirations to it, as opposed to 'Ye just drowning his sorrows in Auto-Tune.

There's no doubt that "Power" is the oddball out here, and that the album probably could have benefited from more along these lines and less of what I'll get into in a moment, but I don't think this is the killer/deal-breaker that some people are presenting it as - which is also kind of strange, as those people are then falling all over themselves to praise the whole album.

Here's where it all goes, for me: "All of the Lights" is probably my favorite track on the album, but for vastly different reasons than my other favorite. I agree with the Noz conversation that "Runaways" is probably the centerpiece of the album, if we amend that statement to include this sonic masterpiece. And there's the thing - if "All of the Lights" and "Runaway" are the centerpieces, they're vastly different than what we've gotten used to from Kanye, and they're not necessarily the Kanye that I fell in love with.

I classified College Dropout as my album of the last decade because I had never heard anything like it. The soul samples, yes, but also a rapper wearing his heart so obviously on his sleeve and loving it, and not giving a fuck if people thought he was gay or dumb for doing so. Kayne West told us how his life was, and, even if it was a bit exaggerated, it was real. It was realer than Jay talking about selling coke, even it was less auto-biographical, if that makes any sense. It was certainly realer to me, and maybe that makes Kanye the rapper for white people to like, but it is what it is. I can relate to hating school and feeling out of place. i can't relate to standing out on the corner for days at a time.

And with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy I feel like the aim of the project has changed a bit. I feel like Kayne has moved on from soul-baring honesty at all costs to arranging music at the highest level amongst his peers. There's no doubt that MBDTF stands out as art, especially compared to other music being produced nowadays, which comes across as cheap and toylike in contrast.

However, it's not the same. The Hypemen talked about how they didn't like the CD and LR skits, but to me, those were part of the point. There was an overall, cohesive message. Here, it feels like there's a message some times (especially with that narration I knocked on and from "Hell of a Game" forward) but the message is so often lost in the music that's being made.

This is not a bad thing, but it's not what I expected, and it's foolish to act as though the music of a producer can surpass some of the greatest lyricism we've ever heard. College Dropout works as an entire concept, with the lyrics and music working together to build a coherent picture. MBDTF seems at odds with itself.

Never is this more clear than the album standouts. Aforementioned "All of the Lights" and "Runaway" are destined to blow up to tremendous heights, if you don't think that "Runaway" already has. (And if you don't think it has, I don't know why you've read this far.) "All of the Lights" is like Kayne hearing Jay's "Empire State of Mind" and Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie" and doing that to a bigger and better level with pure music. He decided that he could take the formula of Rihanna (or Alicia Keys) belting out the chorus (or hook, or both) and make it better by focusing more on the music and less on that female voice carrying the whole song. And you know what? He's right. It's an amazing piece of work and it should be huge.

However, it's not the best part of the album. The best part is when 'Ye finally gives us some of that unfiltered truth that we've loved from him so much for so long in "Blame Game" - it's far from the best track on the album, but it's what I've come to expect from him. (Not that artists have to remain static!) It's even got the ridiculous Chris Rock skit at the end! It's the perfect combination of Kanye West: deft lyricism, killer beat, a little indulgence (in Auto-Tune nowadays) and ridiculous over the top jokes.

MBDTF is a master's work, but what Kanye has given up to get to the point of total music mastery is the feeling of a Tribe Called Quest. We used to have this guy called West, but now we've got G.O.O.D. Music, and guest spots by Raekwon, Cyhi da Prince, Kid Cudi, Rick Ross, Pusha T, Nicki Minaj, Swizz Beatz and Bon Iver. There's nothing wrong with putting on for your set, but Kanye's newest CD suffers from too much of everyone else on the lyrics and too little Kanye there. The music benefits, no doubt. This is an album that is sonically stronger than Late Registration and Graduation, which is a mean feat. But the sum total adds up to something a little bit less.

Final Word: Four Stars out of Five.

Monday, November 22, 2010

comics for the week of 11/17/10.

Sticking to my DC fanboy-ness.

Batman 704 - Tony Daniel takes over and...well...it was all right. It wasn't great by any means. But it wasn't the clusterfuck that it sometimes turned into when Morrison was writing it, either. So that's a good thing, right? And Dick gets to stay Batman of Gotham City, which is a really good thing. I'm digging on Daniel's take on new characters (the Peacock looks great and could play really well with Dick in the cape and cowl role) so I'll probably stick this one out a while.

Batman Incorporated 1 - This was intriguing, but not anywhere near great. I'm down for Morrison's wacky take here and it seems like this is a good outlet for it. Batman travels the globe finding weird shit and getting a League of his own. However, I kind of wanted more Bruce Wayne in this issue, which is a weird thing to say, I know. The new characters seemed great, I only wish they hadn't killed off Mr. Unknown so quickly, but I guess that's part of the appeal. I'm in it for the first arc for sure, although, to be honest, part of me thinks it might work better as a mini-series, or as a bunch of successive mini-series. (Plural?)

The Flash 6 - Finally wrapping up the first arc, Geoff Johns left me wanting in a pretty major way. The Flashpoint arc is teased, Manapul draws the hell out of the book and I'm liking the parallels between this book and some of the classic Silver Age ideas, but it didn't add up to something spectacular. Honestly, if Manapul wasn't drawing this book, I'd think pretty hard of dropping it. I don't find myself caring nearly enough.

Green Lantern 59 - On the other hand, this book killed. Geoff Johns must be feeling the upcoming War of the Lanterns pretty heavy, because it's clear that's where his heavy interest is leaning. We learn a lot about the Indigo Tribe in this book and that's not even really the main focus. Barry guest stars in a role that he's played plenty of times before for Hal, the blue entity (Adara?) gets a bit more playing time, and Salaak has an interesting conversation with the Guardians. There's some interesting discussion between Hal and Barry about Ollie, too, which is necessary, but the best part is when the Collector shows up at the end with Parallax and gets him to infest Barry. Next issue's showdown between Lanterns and Flash is going to be great.

New Avengers 6 - After reeling me back into an arc that I really wasn't feeling at the start, this conclusion kind of left me cold. I mean, first of all, the cover is blatant baiting, and no one was surprised, looking at it, to find out that Doctor Voodoo is the one that gets to bite the bullet. (It's truly troubling to me, too, that Luke Cage gets to sing and dance in Bendis' interpretation of black culture, while Doctor Voodoo, from his first appearance in this series appeared marked for death.) Plus, I wasn't impressed with what happened. It seems like that solution could have been achieved immediately, and that, perhaps, it wasn't a win at all. I'm not really feeling New Avengers after the unevenhandedness of this arc and with the subpar teaser for the Nanny next issue, I'm thinking this might get the ax.

Book of the week goes to Green Lantern. Here's to hoping that the upcoming movie will continue inspire (or maybe it's playing no part, maybe it's just pure coincidence) Geoff Johns to knock material out of the park on that book. Now if only he could do the same with Flash.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

mike vick continues to leave the world in his wake.

In the history of comebacks, Michael Vick demolishing the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night has got to rank high up there.

As previously discussed, Michael Vick made some bad, bad choices. And when he went to jail to pay for those choices, a lot of people were writing him off. In fact, as he was getting started with the Eagles last year (reportedly at the behest of Donovan McNabb, it's worth noting!) many people still were willing to write him off.

They claimed that he'd lost a step, that his time away from the game would irreparably damage the way he played the game. He ran the ball too much to begin with anyway, people would say, and he'd never amount to much more than a decent back-up. This was quickly proved wrong.

However, what he did on Monday is on another level. If Michael Vick continues to put up numbers at this clip, there'll be very little debate about the MVP of the National Football League this year.

Vick's performance on Monday night immediately qualified him for the best individual line of the season, and thrust him into a tie for the third spot on the top fantasy performances since 2000! Beyond the fantasy line, though, the pure numbers were gaudy: Vick threw for 333 yards and 4 touchdowns. Vick wasn't the rushing leader for Philly, that honor went to Jerome Harrison, but he did carry for a mere 80 yards and 2 more touchdowns.

All this on the same day the Washington Redskins announced a contract extension for Donovan McNabb, the quarterback that's at least partially responsible for Vick's second chance in Philadelphia and it adds up to a fairytale Monday Night Football game. The two teams may be done with each other, but Vick's story, to some people's great surprise, is seemingly just beginning.

Friday, November 12, 2010

comics for the week of 11/3/10 and 11/10/10.

OK, I fell behind on this again, but I promise that I'll try not to let that happen again. This first group is from last week, and the next is current.

Batman and Robin 16 - So glad I stuck with this book; it wraps up The Return of Bruce Wayne without me having to waste any money on that mini. I think the whole thing with the Joker was wack, and this retcon of some evil mofo coming from the Wayne line (see, it wasn't his Dad but an oldass relative, with devil powers!) was beyond bizarre, but the story overall holds up. Plus, it was great to see Bruce, Dick and Damien all back together. An interesting angle at the end to start the Batman Incorporated era and, amazingly, it looks better than any of the ideas I had before these couple pages. A solid read.

Buffy: The Vampire Slayer 38 - Thank God Angel's turning out this way. I don't think he'll end up dead, but, I mean, if he's gonna be Twilight and Twilight's the Big Bad all season long, he's got to do some bad shit. Not just kind of bad stuff that has ultimately good motives. Let's see some bad stuff. Buffy continues to impress and, honestly, I don't understand anyone who's saying they don't like it. If you liked or loved the show, you should be all over these comics. The only thing they've truly suffered from is an overreaching cast (bringing almost literally EVERYONE back) and the hurrying up of the storyline after a few of the seemingly-more-filler plots. But now that we're so close to the finale, the whole thing is feeling great.

Invincible 75 - To be honest, Invincible seems to be dragging a bit to me. This issue was great, I liked the oversize, but the double page splashes didn't feel overwhelmingly great. Also, the war doesn't really seem to have been hard fought yet. I mean, everyone's still alive, Invincible was recovering on a different planet for a whole issue, and the Alliance (right name?) appears to have rolled over most of the battles that I thought were going to take a toll. To that end, I liked the end of this issue, because it seems like it might finally start to get real. Maybe the Viltrumite War should have been a few issues shorter and things might have meant a bit more.

Red Hood: The Lost Days 6 (of 6) - The end of the mini puts Jason Todd exactly where we expected him to be. It was interesting to see him meeting with Hush and fully committing to being the bad guy, but the end with the Red Hood (is that really a hood? Not at all.) was more than a little melodramatic. Talia was really that bent out of shape over her Dad dying? I honestly don't know as I wasn't reading Batman at that time, but it seems a little out of character for her. The mini was good, but it could have been so much better, with Jason Todd as the main character and Winnick as the writer.

Scarlet 3 - Again, after the kind of disappointing first issue, this book gets better and better. We're getting more of Scarlet's backstory (although I hope we don't get too much, to be honest) and we see some of the characters that will (presumably) be riding with her on this journey. I gotta say, though, the ending to this issue takes the label graphic to a whole new level. I can't imagine that this book won't be getting (or is already getting) protested by a whole lot of organizations. It's tough not to hear those arguments, too. That aside, when Bendis and Maleev combine, I have no choice but to buy into that product - it's almost always amazing.

Book of the week goes to Invincible, topping Buffy, for celebrating a great anniversary, putting out a good enough product and just being honest about the delays. It was worth it. Kirkman continues to win, putting out what he wants, and being rewarded for it - congrats on The Walking Dead on AMC, too!

Batgirl 15 - Dustin Nguyen takes over art duties and I was a bit bummed, but it's obvious that the team knew this was coming and gave a little play to that in the first three pages. The book still feels the same, and Nguyen's a more than capable artist, so it's not like I think the book's going to suffer - I'm just always loathe to mess with a winning formula, which is what Batgirl felt like it had before. On the other hand, it does still feel that way, which is great. The contents of this issue weren't great or terrible, but it does feel pretty natural to see a mini-team forming around Stephanie. I like the way she and Barbara play off one another and the new addition Wendy is fitting in better than before. Detective Gage from this issue, though, seems weird, especially when we already have the default cop position filled by Babs' dad (Gordon) and Steph's semi-love interest. The cliffhanger ending fell flat with me because I know that's not going to be a real problem. Still excited for this book every time I see it in my stack.

Superboy 1 - This book actually came out last week, but I didn't care enough about it to grab it...until I heard a bunch of good press on it. The art did the trick for me, and the story, by Lemire, felt honest and original. I'm kind of against Smallville becoming the Smalliville of the TV show, and I hope that's not the direction they're going to go, but I do like the idea of Connor spending his time there and trying to learn the more important lessons of Superman, as opposed to just going out and fighting. The Luthor girl feels like pushing the envelope too far, though, I don't know why everything has to be generational and connected in the DC Universe. Some things should be organic. Lemire's got a great chance here.

The Unwritten 19 - Moby Dick rears its ugly head again. This book destroys everything in its path. (I mean that about both Melville's tale and The Unwritten.) Savoy, Lizzie and Tom are in the US, fleeing from the cops (kind of) and the insane group chasing them (more so) so, naturally, they're following Tom's idea of the map his father left him. Carey is writing something here that is going to have far-reaching results for a long, long time. This issue's big reveal, though, has to do more with the past (of Savoy) than anything else. We can tell something is wrong with him all issue, and as readers, we know what that thing is, but Tom and Lizzie don't know, and it's clear that Savoy himself is either in denial or has been brainwashed into forgetting. It'll be interesting to see if there's a parallel for this in the Tommy Taylor books, like there has been for almost every other event in his life.

Book of the week goes to the Unwritten every single time it drops. Nothing is working on a higher level. This stands as an example of what comic books could be.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

basketball stays winning.

The season is underway and it's off to a hell of a start.

The Lakers are undefeated thus far, bullying most teams other than the Minnesota Timberwolves. In a shock from last year, the New Orleans Hornets join the Lakers in the undefeated ranks. Chris Paul is playing like he's furious that everyone forgot he's the best point guard in the league, at a time when the NBA is undergoing a point guard renaissance seldom seen before.

The Miami Heat retain their title as the bully most feared when they finally get it together, but the Hornets took them down last weekend, and Paul Millsap pulled an impersonation of Tracy McGrady in dismantling them.

On the rookie side of things, John Wall posted his first career triple double and the Sacramento Kings want to remind people they've got a kid named DeMarcus Cousins. ESPN reports that Wall is the third-youngest player to record a triple-double in the League and, more than that, he's appearing to find his place. He's running the point in a way that Gilbert Arenas never did (not to say that it's better, it's certainly not worse, just different) in Washington, and he's impressive in most of the important areas. (The inevitable argument of, "If only he had a jumper," notwithstanding.) Meanwhile Cousins, who just got demoted to coming off the bench, is averaging 12 points and 6 rebounds in only 22 minutes. He's not killing it, but he's putting in work.

Tonight, the Miami Heat get another crack at the Boston Celtics, the team they were beaten by on Opening Night. The Lakers also run into the potential spoiler of the Denver Nuggets with their maddeningly ambiguous superstar Carmelo Anthony. (Seriously, how does Anthony not get fined for all this reckless talk? If he were calling into 1-900-HUSTLER Beanie Sigel would be tearing him apart! I'm not saying he's bi-polar, because I'd never mock a serious disease but dude clearly is having problems figuring out what he really wants.) With all this great ball happening, it's a great time to pick a team and go for a ride. Just, well, think about avoiding the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

first impressions.

So baseball's finally done (congratulations, I guess, San Francisco Giants fans) and football's semi-imploding. Combine these facts with the end of October and the return of the NBA, in the beginning of the most exciting season in our generation, and it's a great cure for any kind of local politics hangover you might have accrued over the last couple days.

Let's start with the basics: the Los Angeles Lakers are the reigning champions and, accordingly, the road to the top should go through them. However, you might have heard - there's a new bully on the block. The Miami Heat pulled off the free agency coup of the last ten years, certainly, maybe even of all time. LeBron James joined forces with Chris Bosh and they traveled down to South Beach to team up with Dwyane Wade.

Of course, many of the pundits were quick to remind those looking to instantly anoint the Heat that the road in the Eastern Conference has long been blocked by the Boston Celtics. Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett re-invented the Big Three concept and might have something to say about the South Beach trio of James, Bosh, and Wade taking their spot.

There's more to look forward to, and more that we've already seen, as well. Blake Griffin should have been the Rookie of the Year last year, and might be this year. John Wall looks like he wants consideration for the award, too. The list of rookies is long and worth more than just a cursory glance.

And, to wrap things up where we began, let's not just assume that the road to the championship is paved with ease for the Lakers. The Oklahoma City Thunder, with their standout star, and possibily-being-stalked up-and-coming Kevin Durant look to seriously challenge. The San Antonio Spurs are always a threat, with their own version of a Big Three, headlined by Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

The NBA is going to be full of action this year, as most arenas will sell out when the Heat visit and most of those people will be heartily cheering against James, who had a lot of people on his side prior to his move. The Celtics and the Magic look to battle it out in the Eastern Conference, with the Bulls joining those ranks. The Lakers, Thunder and Spurs look pretty mighty in the Western Conference, and there's plenty of teams just waiting for one of the big guns to take a single misstep. Do yourself a favor and tune in to ESPN on Wednesdays and Fridays and TNT on Thursdays. You'll see some of the best basketball in a long time.

Monday, November 1, 2010

comics for the week of 10/27/10.

This would have been the first week where I haven't got any new comics since I turned, like, 12. However, I've been looking forward to picking up Action Comics for a longass time, and with Death making her appearance, this was the time. However, it's definitely coming, the time where I officially become a weak comic fan and get no new books in one week. Sad. But I guess it means I'm growing up?

Action Comics 893 & 894 - Lex Luthor has been running through Action Comics and people have been swearing to me that it's dope. And, finally, I picked it up and they're right; it's been great. Lex is searching Gorilla City (?), the realm of Gorilla Grodd, looking for the Black Ring? To be honest, I'm not 100% on that, but I'll tell you this: the Lois Lane robot, Grodd with his battle spoon, and Death showing up have made these books worth the price of admission. In 894, we have Death directly telling Lex that he's not dead, but rather that he's being checked up on. He asks the right question upon waking up (what could possibly be happening for her to check up on him?) and we're all intrigued and following along for the ride. Great stuff from Paul Cornell utilizing Death as a character, but, honestly, it felt like more of a gimmick than anything else. She only sort of spoke and behaved like she did when Gaiman wrote her and if this is all we get from the scenario then it was cute, but not super important. If, however, this is leading to something larger, then consider me hooked. Lex has been moving up in the world and he was already pretty significant to start with, so this is a good thing.

No book of the week for only one book, that's a cop out.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

tonight: sports are worth watching again.

Hey, I don't know if you've heard, but...basketball is back tonight!

This might be one of the best ways to get ready for it:



We might also talk about the slate of games tonight:

Heat vs. Celtics
Suns vs. Trailblazers
Rockets vs. Lakers

Or we could just sit back and bask in the glory of the League.

Monday, October 25, 2010

comics for the week of 10/20/10.

The same kind of week as last week, which, looking back, wasn't all that eclectic at all.

Batman and Robin 15 - Morrison and Irving continue to revitalize this book as it should be. I feel like, by reading this book, I'm completely able to avoid the one-shots and the mini-series of "The Return of Bruce Wayne" - which is a fantastic thing! The stories read like Elseworlds, but they have real world ramifications, and the portrayal of the Joker reminds me of what Morrison did with Magneto over in the X-Men so many years ago. Namely, it's cool, and I'm sure lots of people love it, and I'm even more sure that it'll be completely wiped out or just ignored forever after he leaves. The book is good, I love the fact that Damian and Dick have a great interplay, and I'm hopeful that Bruce returning won't ruin any of that.

Daredevil 511 - Shadowland is almost done. This story is great. I don't understand people who say it's not. It really is. The thing is, as I keep saying over and over in my recaps of the DD storyline...I don't know what else there is to be done other than kill him. And, progressively, as it's gone on, I've gotten the feeling from the writing that that's not what they're going to do. It's all going to be The Beast who was possessing Matt, and it's going to be separated and then Murdock's going to have to recover and BLAH BLAH BLAH. Kill Matt Murdock. Have the balls to do it. That would make this story one of the best ever.

Fables 99 - One issue away from the big showdown. This issue highlights Mr. Dark (is that really his name?) as the North Wind goes to tell him that a showdown with Totenkinder is imminent. We get to see a lot of attention paid to what the bad guy is up to (and maybe why?) and I'm definitely feeling the buildup to 100, but I've got to be honest and say that it doesn't feel as big as Gepetto. Maybe that's because it's only been 1/3 in length, but this guy is supposed to be EVIL. It just doesn't feel like it's as big a deal. That being said, almost all of the other elements of the book (supporting characters, overall mythology, main characters, the farm in and of itself, etc.) feel a lot stronger than they did 25 issues ago.

Kick-Ass 2 1 - Millar and Romita Jr. are back on the comic that became a movie before it was done being a comic and I've got to say...it's no good. I really wasn't feeling this book, and I'm surprised by those who said that it was as good as the first run. I know it's just the first issue, but I'm not used to Millar needing time to get things ramped up. And frankly, it just wasn't that engaging.

Book of the week goes to Fables. I'm hooked for issue 100, just like I have been for the 99 before. Here's to another 100 if not more.

Monday, October 18, 2010

comics for the week of 10/13/10.

A good week for comics. Great variety.

Green Lantern 58 - As Larfleeze continues to get developed, it's clear that he's the character, maybe besides Atrocitus, in whom Johns and company have the most invested. This is definitely not a bad thing, as the hints that we get about his origin and his parents, etc. in this issue really are tantalizing. The story of Hal Jordan continues to be the least interesting thing happening in his own book, which is a shame, but this book does a better job of focusing on the other Corps than any other book, which is a great thing.

New Avengers 5 - I'm glad that this thing with Doctor Strange's old master is turning out the way it is, because that was unsatisfactory to me. The Vishanti are a subject that I know little about, but I like the way that they're explaining little bits as the storyline progresses. I'm interested in how the story will (hopefully) conclude next issue.

Shadowland 4 (of 5) - Daredevil did not get a chance to resurrect Bullseye, so that's good, but damn...I've said it before and I'll say it again: Matt Murdock's got to die. If this storyline ends without him dying, with him just taking a break, or some such bullshit, well...I'm pretty sure I'll be unhappy. Which would be quite a change. Shadowland has been amazing so far and it just continues to get better and better. I'm happy to see that Elektra was playing the role of double agent, she's better as a consistent character, as opposed to constantly waffling back and forth. It'll all be done in a month, I can't wait.

The Unwritten 18 - If this book continues the way it's going right now, it might supercede some of the other quote-unquote best-evers. The layering that goes on with the mythology, the references, everything that's happening here feels truly purposeful and done with a master stroke. In this issue, we finally get to see some of the men and women behind the curtain and the character of Pullman gets to step a bit more into the daylight. There's an overarching menace to what's going on in the book, and a weird bit of religion, but nothing will stop me from devouring each issue.

Book of the week goes to the Unwritten. I'm curious to know whether it's a true ongoing, or if they have an end in mind. Obviously, I prefer the finite story.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

continuing my baseball conversion.

So. The Texas Rangers. How about it?

Man, I never would have thought I would be here. A week ago, I was certain they were going to roll, three days ago, I was afraid for my friend's long-term well-being and then, magically, last night it all came together. The Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays in a best of 5 series, without winning a single game. (This, somewhat ironically, makes them still without a home playoff win in their entire existence.)

Now, they embark on the journey that all Davids must undergo if they want to take baseball's ultimate crown: to take down the perpetual Goliath, the New York Yankees.

As previously mentioned, as a baseball hater, when October inevitably arrives each year, I usually turn my rooting interests the way of the Yankees. They're usually pretty good, they win a good percentage of the time, and they're at least somewhat entertaining, especially given their links to Jay-Z.

Now, however, on Friday night, I'll have to route against my pseudo-team. And I'll be happy to do so. Despite any trolling comments online, the Texas Rangers' story only gets better and better to me. Turns out, when they clinched game five, they celebrated with ginger ale before breaking out the champagne. Why? Josh Hamilton is an alcoholic. Plenty of smart-mouthed sports fans seemed to have some kind of negative comment about that in the last 24 hours, but imagine being him and seeing your teammates holding back on their celebration, out of respect for you. My fandom of the Rangers begins at that noble point.

Count Cliff Lee, their pitcher extraordinaire, as one of the other reasons, as well. With an ERA of 3.18, he ranked sixth in the American League this year. He's been in the league a mere eight years, and made it to the World Series in 2009 with the Philadelphia Phillies, only to fall to the New York Yankees. Adding intrigue to an already-interesting storyline? Count me in.

Last but not least, I default to the somewhat bizarre case of the sad luck of the Rangers. Having made it to the playoffs only three times before this year, they've always been eliminated by, you guessed it, the New York Yankees. Now, with a chance to get back at the bully in the American League Championship Series, there's a lot to root for. Game 1 of the ALCS will be played on Friday night at 6 PM MST. The game will be shown on TBS. Find a comfy spot and root for the little guy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

comics for the week of 10/06/10.

Had a great experience in the LCS yesterday when I ran into one of my great friends whom I sometimes see there and a new friend whom I'd just met about a month ago. The comic store as a meet up place? My middle school self would have been so proud.

Buffy: The Vampire Slayer 43 - Last Gleaming part two. Buffy just keeps better and better. As we race toward the conclusion, I'm really coming to agree with my friends who would always claim that Buffy was the least interesting character in her own series: she comes across really poorly in this issue, and that's not a fault of the writer, it's her own fault. Buffy's just not that fantastic of a character, I realized this issue, but I love the characters surrounding her. I was never a huge Spike fan, but this issue (and the great letter at the back) really made me appreciate him even more. The role of the Master in this issue is a bit confusing, but very funny overall. Angel's role obviously is going to be developed quite a bit more as we get toward the end, and I'm looking forward to it.

Red Hood: The Lost Days 5 (of 6) - Jason Todd is getting a little more interesting. After complaining about the last issue, I felt like this one did a good job of re-establishing the fact that, at his core, he doesn't care about the semantics of an issue the same way Bruce (or Dick) does. Jason Todd shouldn't be a character we can empathize with too closely, and this issue did a good job of re-emphasizing that. Here's to hoping for a good conclusion from Winnick.

Shield 4 - If last issue confused me, this one cleared most of that up, but increased the scale. I'm loving this book! Shield is one wacky experiment with retcons and mixing real history with comic book worlds; there's not a lot not to love. However, I'm not sure that it's going to go somewhere the way I like the majority of my art to do. For this reason, I'm a little more wary than I have been over the last 3 months of my unbridled enthusiasm.

Book of the week goes to Buffy, no doubt. I'll be back with more quicker this week.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

randy moss traded to vikings - unbelievably, i write about baseball.

Who would have thought in a week when Gilbert Arenas banished his sense of humor and an 7-time Pro Bowl-er gets traded to a now-Super Bowl bound team that I'd end up writing about baseball? And yet, forces have aligned.

Last week, I wrote about my friend's lifelong love for the Texas Rangers and today they began their playoff battle. A team that, as I noted, had previously won only one playoff game in their entire existence, started the journey on the road. The Rangers played the Tampa Bay Rays and were firmly in command the whole time. Listening on the radio while at work had an old-school effect not only on my buddy at work, but on the rest of us as well, constantly checking in with him for updates, despite the fact the the ever-present Internet was (as always) a mere click away.

Seeing my buddy after work was like seeing a kid after their team wins its first game. I'm not sure I can stand much more of his happiness, but I'm definitely rooting for it.

All that joy was, if not erased or negated, kind of deflated a mere five hours later, though. As I stopped by Marble Brewery to pick up a growler after work, I eased up to the bar to see another baseball game on. The Philadelphia Phillies were playing the Cincinnati Reds, but the game was pretty much over. It was the top of the ninth, and the Phillies were up 4-0, pitching. There wasn't much chance of a Reds comeback and yet, to my right was a guy in a Phillies jersey, watching the TV in rapture.

I hope I won't be mischaracterizing this man to say that, as the game wrapped up, he looked like he was liable to cry in joy. There seemed to be an inordinate amount of cheering happening on the TV as well, so I couldn't help but ask my fellow drinker: "Did the Phillies do something more special than winning the first game of the playoffs?"

He replied that Roy Halladay, the pitcher for the Phillies, had just proceeded to pitch only the second no-hitter in MLB playoff history. Only accomplished once, 54 years ago this Friday, a no-hitter in the playoffs is better than almost anyone would have predicted for Halladay's first experience in the playoffs. He'd never made it there before, despite playing in the big leagues for 15 years.

And with that, the Texas Rangers' moment in the sun was eclipsed suddenly, unexpectedly and totally, by a pitcher on a tear. Here's to both the Rangers and Halladay's continued success. Follow along on the radio. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, October 4, 2010

comics for the week of 09/29/10.

If my younger self could see me now: only one comic book this week.

Powers 6 - Bendis continues to bring the goodness in this new run of Powers, and I'm glad to see that he's finally acknowledged that it's bi-monthly. This issue served as the beginning of two plotlines, but I had no idea that they'd be intersecting so quickly. We see the return of Deena Pilgrim (and how we've missed her!) and we see the death of an apparent God - although we've kind of already dealt with this storyline, right Bendis? Regardless, there is (as usual) tons to honestly laugh out loud at in this issue (sometimes I think Bendis just wants an excuse to draw the most primal, fucked up shit that he can think of and tries to pass it off as quote-unquote superhero comics) but, again, as almost always, it's not bad. It's humorous at times, but it's never funny-bad. The scene with Walker fighting the space aliens and Calista joining him is hilarious, but it's not like it doesn't work. The best part of the issue was his new partner's splash page where we see what a terrible, lying bitch she is, and the last page reveal with Pilgrim. Good read.

Book of the week is a de facto on this one, so I'm not even going to officially give it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

go rangers.

I want to preface all of this by saying that I'm not a baseball fan. I find the games boring, the season ridiculously long, the sport old-fashioned, the players rarely to be fine specimens of aerobically fit athletes, and the whole obsession with the national (once upon a) pastime to be somewhat of a joke.

That being said, it's always kind of nice when the autumn chill gets into the air and the balloons start to rise in Albuquerque to know that baseball is getting around to its most enjoyable time: the playoffs.

This year, October and baseball playoffs mean a little bit more to me. I've got a friend who's been a Texas Rangers fan longer than I've known him. He's rooted for Texas every season we've been friends. He cheered them on despite my smacktalking on baseball, and he cheered them on despite their lackluster record. Year after year. (There's even been a group on Facebook since at least 2006 called "The Texas Rangers Suck But I Still Love Em.")

And now, for the first time in 11 years, the Texas Rangers are in the playoffs. They'll be playing either the New York Yankees or the Tampa Bay Rays, both of whom I can easily cheer against for the sake of my friend. (This despite the fact that, if I didn't know him, I'd be cheering for the Yankees. The power of coastal appeal? Or a whole lot of money and winning?)

The Rangers need all the rooting-for they can get. In addition to being famously run (into the ground?) by George W. Bush they also, very recently, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. On top of all this, they've never won a postseason playoff series. They've won only one game in the postseason. It wasn't at home.

And so, on behalf of all the casual baseball fans (or baseball haters, if we're being honest), I'd like to wish the Texas Rangers luck on their quest to get this enormous monkey off their collective backs. If it came against a perennial power like the Yankees, it'd be all the better for the sake of the sport, as well as a great middle finger to the coastal bias.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

catching up on comics.

It's been a while since I updated my comics here, so I figured I'd just do a batch of them and then try to keep up from this point on.

Batgirl 14 – With Supergirl co-starring, this book is everything I want it to be: cute-drawn superheroes who happen to be girls but aren't drawn in a lascivious manner, who are doing good and having fun. I'm happy to hear that Nguyen is taking over, because I like him, but I'm sad, because when a formula is this winning, I'm loathe to mess with it. This is seriously one of the most fun reads every week it comes out. I wish it would stay that way. And it might.

Batman and Robin 14 – Keeping up with Doctor Hurt, Pyg, and the fascinating Joker and Robin storyline. Batman and Robin continues to be the only place where Grant Morrison is (or ever has?) writing Batman in a manner that suits both him and the comic book audience. I wish they would just let this book loose and let him do what he wants, and free it from any continuity concerns or anything like that. I feel like it could be a madhouse of fun, but as it stands now, it's barely even cutting the mustard while the rest of the books are sinking under their terrible weight.

Daredevil 510 – Shadowland continues and it kicks ass. Matt is going insane and he's going to have to die. If you're not reading Daredevil right now, you are missing out. That's all I'm going to say about it.

Fables 98 – Rose Red reassumes control, firmly. Man, this book has just been gaining steam month after month and this is near the culmination and I'm psyched for it. The confrontation with the Dark Man is brewing, everybody seems like they're gearing up for it in the best way possible, which I expect to mean that some of the characters I love the most and have been the most proud of in the last few months are going to get offed in a callous and offensive way. And I'm going to love it.

Flash 5 – Rogues vs. Renegades kind of disappoints, but the arrest of the Flash and the last page is a great homage. To be honest, I feel like Johns isn't doing much with this book, but Manapul brings me in month after month and he will continue to be able to do so, with ease.

Green Lantern 57 – Carol Ferris becomes queen of the Star Sapphires. That's about all that I felt happened. It was a weak issue? Or I have a bad memory? I can't really tell.

Green Lantern Corps 52 – The Cyborg Superman story finally ends, except that it doesn't end at all, which is part of why I knew I would be disappointed in this story to begin with. This one is not the fault of my memory. This book is suffering and has been since Blackest Night ended. I'm dropping it with this issue, not with any malice, but because I don't care about most of what's going on. Ganthet as Lantern interests me quite a bit, but I just don't care about Alpha Lanterns and Honor Guards and blah, blah, blah.

New Avengers 4 – They still have no idea who's messing with them, but Danny Rand comes back in a rad, different costume. The decompressed storytelling style of Brian Michael Bendis strikes again! I feel like this story could have been over for a few months already, yet it still stretches on; and it's not even over yet! It's good, but not this good.

Red Hood: Lost Days 4 (of 6) – Jason's story continues and Talia makes some comments that are surely the vocalizations of readers. It's a good story and I'm still liking it, but some things bothered me about this. First, why are they making Jason wear a red hoodie this whole time, as though the Red Hood thing was planned or subconscious the whole time? Bad decision. Secondly, Jason's supposed to be this psychopath, but here we're supposed to care about him? Just make him crazy, it's OK, people were accepting him already as he was. Now he's going to be seen as this semi-sympathetic character, which isn't bad by any means, but does kind of diminish the badass way that he's acted ever since he's been brought back.

Spider-Girl The End – Probably capitalizing on the latest mini-series, since it's pretty much a direct sequel, this felt like a cop out on The End series, because of the time travel issue. When I see "The End" on top of a book, I expect to see THE END. I don't want anyone going back in time to change it. I want it to be the end. Let the tragic end of Mayday Parker really teach April a lesson. Let that lesson stay with her. Get a semi-happy ending some other way than wiping out the story I just read. Otherwise it's a waste of my money and your time.

The Unwritten 17 – A choose your own adventure inside a comic book. Are you kidding me? Every issue, this book finds some magnificent way to innovate inside the genre, while simultaneously telling one of the most classic stories contained on the side of fiction. This is groundbreaking, incredible stuff. The Unwritten dedicates this issue to a couple of the different paths that the life of Lizzie Hexam could have taken and we get to see them pretty fleshed out. I love how this mimics a real Choose Your Own Adventure book in that some of the stories overlap and there's common threads. I also love the fact that there's more than one end, although I feel like they could have done more there. Over all, another brilliant issue from a creative gang that is knocking it out of the park every single issue. Get it now.

Book of the (Whatever) obviously goes to the Unwritten. This book kills. It's intellectual without being overly in your face about it, and it's comic book fun without being idiotic. Striking the perfect balance, Vertigo has another major winner, seemingly for the long haul.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

thinking through android.

Man, ever since I got my Nexus One, I've been really into the Android Operating System. I've read more of the tech blogs on a more regular basis, and I've become a pretty dedicated user, if far from a power user. I've tried to apply this thinking to more of my life, and it led me to thinking about an HTPC, which I still haven't settled on.

But the more I use Android, and the more I dig into what's possible, the more convinced I am that the things that I really and truly want from my phone just aren't possible yet. (This is also true for the HTPC - maybe I just want too much? Maybe my goals are unrealistic?) Below, some of those thoughts, with my suggestions, where they've been thought through enough to contain suggestions.

1. Full Integration of Tasker - I bought Tasker because I believed the hype. However, the hype didn't really live up to reality for me, but through no real fault of Tasker. Turns out, much like Google Voice, Tasker isn't really for someone like me...yet.

In my mind, I'd like Android 3.0 (Gingerbread) to integrate Tasker into the basic genetic makeup of the OS. However, it needs more. I don't just want to be able to turn basic functions on and off at certain cues. I want full integration - I want to be able to program a 'smart' Tasker to read my GCal and recognize that when I have work at 8 AM the next day, I want my alarm clock to go off at 5 AM. When that event is not in my calendar, I want the alarm to go off at 8.

I want to be able to utilize my GPS to access my default message in GTalk - when I'm within a certain Wi-Fi signal, I want it to read "Home" and when I'm at another, I want it to read "Work." When I'm away from either of those, I want it to read "Out."

To me, it seems like this is, perhaps, asking more of Tasker than what it was built for.

But, it's not too much to ask Tasker for multiple inputs, right? I want my phone's notifications to be silenced when the time is after 10:30 PM and the phone is plugged in. Because if I'm out, I still want those buzzes. But when I'm sleeping, I don't need them. Unfortunately, this isn't possible any way that I've explored thus far.

(I would love for all of this to be proven wrong.)

2. A better market.

This is something that Android users have been clamoring for ever since the devices hit the market. It's something that's improved since I got my phone, but it could still be better. The very nature of the openness of the Android project means there's a lot of spam, but that doesn't bother me so much.

What bothers me is that AppBrain has been able to be so successful by doing something that should have come naturally to the guys from Google. Put the store on the web! It's a no-brainer and AppBrain does it well and has been rewarded for doing so.

The FastWebInstall plus AppBrain is a great improvement over the native Market, and maybe this is part of the Android plan - to let third party apps supersede their baked in goods, but that's not a great plan.

3. A better music player.

This, again, is something that people have been complaining about since the beginning, but that doesn't make it invalid. There needs to be something done about the fact that iTunes dominates the desktop/laptop sphere and the Android phones (at least in my experience) won't play nice with updating from there.

Workarounds are fine, as I noted above, but none of them have gotten it right yet.

Updating to the cloud (mSpot) has been nice, but spotty at best.

Emulating iTunes (doubleTwist) has worked for other people, but not for me.

Pandora is a fine option, but it's not the same as being able to listen to my music when I want to. If smartphones are truly intended to be multimedia devices, there has to be leeway both ways.

Those are the complaints I have and they're not that big, to be honest, which is a large part of the reason I love my phone. I also love the T-Mobile network because, since I've got this phone, I haven't dropped a single call, as opposed to my time with the iPhone on the AT&T network. Also, with the Mobile Hotspot feature of Adroid 2.2, T-Mobile has been incredibly upfront and supportive about their plans - unlimited means unlimited (except when it doesn't) and while I may have to worry about going through that limit, I won't have to worry about being charged on tiered plans or some unforeseen service fee.

These are the ways in which I think the Android platform could be improved by its next iteration, but, again, I haven't really got the expertise to know if some of these are already available - without rooting my phone. I'd loved to be proved wrong.