Weekly Recap

Last week was about getting back into the groove.

I focused on getting to work everyday, going to bed early, eating “better” and doing little else.  I joked on Wednesday that my accomplishment was attending work three days in a row, but I hit five days and seemed to just be hitting my stride.  Things seem to be almost under control at work.

I had to search for some help – all the people who normally give me a hand were gone this past weekend.  Fortunately there is a deep bench.

I read a couple books.  Neither are worth reviewing.  I watched some tv.  Not worth recaping.  I went and saw Fright Night at the theatre.  That was an odd choice for me because I’m not a fan of horror movies.  I didn’t find it scary at all though.  It had two “I wonder when something is going to jump out at me” scenes.  I never thought the hero was in mortal danger.  I saw it in 3D – meh.  Mostly that seemed to mean that vampires blew up (because vampires blow up when staked) towards you.  Dr. Who was in it.  That was neat.  I guess I recommend it if that is your thing.

Um – that is all?  I think that is indeed all.  Good night!

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Billy Goats Gruff

Let me say first that I’ve done nothing today.  Nothing!  Mwah-ha-ha-HAH.  I might be enjoying it.  I might even be enjoying it beyond moderation.  Hopefully this post is incoherent enough to not count as something and ruin my nigh perfect streak.

Kids.

There have been several things in the past week that are completely unrelated that have given me to think about kids.  And not actually the billy goat kid despite the clever pun in the title.

Maybe not several things – it might only be two.  That should keep this post from being too long.  At least it will if I finally get around to the point.  (Which I won’t because there isn’t one.)

Dad liked kids.  He never came out and said, “Kids are cool.” (Actually, funny parenthetical, I used to think my Dad saying, “That’s cool,” was the most uncool thing I’d ever heard.  I, of course, say it in exactly the same way now.)  But Dad spent time with children.  It came up during the memorial talks.  Vaughn, Theresa, me, Dave – we all talked about playing games with Dad.  Troy mentioned it here – talking about his kids taking rides with Dad in the chair.

Dad didn’t like kids in the same way Mom does.  Mom likes to cuddle babies and watch them grow.  (Enormous simplification here – but if you happen to have a child for her to cuddle, I’m sure she’d appreciate some time with them.)  Dad liked to engage with them and be engaged by them. That worked out being his children for Tim and I.  He always had time for us.

Segue to other topic – I’ll try and make it subtle, but the two really aren’t related.

Kids ddin’t notice the wheelchair in the same way as adults.  Dave tried to make that point at the memorial.  Young kids would be scared of the chair or fascinated by it.  But the person in it was just another grown-up.  He might be scary or not depnding on the kid.

That is a cool thing about kids.  The lack of preconceptions.  They don’t have a disabled box, but they’ve got a grown-up box.  Catch them young enough and they might not even have that.  That is part of what I like about kids.  I wonder if that is part of what Dad saw too?

A friend said that they felt obtrusive saying grace in public, but that their children didn’t have that.  A kid in a restaurant can be an embarrassment to their parent’s – running around and being too loud for a public space, but the child doesn’t see it.  They haven’t yet developed that filter that cares about how they look through someone else’s eyes.  That is cool too.  I developed that filter pretty early – I say kids don’t have it, but I can’t remember a time when I didn’t.

We used to run around the school yard playing Star Wars as kids.  X-Wings, Tie Fighters.  Light sabres and force lightning.  Once I became aware that that wasn’t typical behavior – tossing a baseball or a football was cooler – I switched to less public forms of imaginative games like RPGs.  So I guess there was a time when I didn’t have that filter.

Wow – that isn’t going anywhere.  I’ll just drift off to other subjects.  Bringing it back.  Two points.  Kids are cool.  (Bowties and Fezzes are also cool – 2 points for someone who gets the reference.)  Dad liked kids.

Thanks for meandering through that one with me.  🙂

I have some serious amounts of nothing to get back to now.

Little Sir Echo How do you do?

Hello?

Hello.

I say, I say, I say there sir.  Is there anyone listening?  🙂

If you are check out this list of sci-fi books from NPR.  I give it my seal of Toddly approval – I’ve never seen a read list that I have read so much of…

….

“Won’t you come over and play?  You’re a nice little fellow – I know by your voice.  But you’re always so far away!”

(Little Sir Echo Lyrics, John S. Fearis / Laura Rountree Smith – 1917)

Movie Monsters Suck Lately

I made this point about the monsters in Cowboys and Aliens.  The design seemed to be a boring retread with some Giger influences.  Blah.  I see the point made more clearly in this post.

Let me provide some quick advice:

  1. All modern movie monsters seem to be earth tone colored.  That is boring.  Look at the variety of colours that exist in nature.  Even on people the combination of hair colour and skin colour gives a much broader palette than the greys, greens and browns we see on modern monsters.  (And maybe they have different skin than a basic rhinoceros looking hide… fur, feathers, post-it notes, whatever)
  2. Not everything needs to be a predator with clawed limbs and sharp pointy teeth.  People on earth are scarier than any of our creatures (except maybe bunny rabbits) and are completely lacking in sharp pointy bits.
  3. A strict adherence to figuring out the habitat and ecological niche might be overly limiting and constrain your imagination to familiar forms.  Be wild and crazy!
  4. H.R. Giger created the best ever monster design with the Aliens (IMO), but not every new monster needs to have a reference to them.
  5. Go wild.  Bipeds with bilateral symmetry (or even tripeds with trilateral symmetry) are boring.  Let’s do something new.

The best monster design I’ve seen recently was on Saturday when a friend’s son showed me the octopus-spider he designed on the way to lunch.  That was a cool monster.  Maybe the designers need to go find their own crayon colored drawings from the youth to reinvigorate their imaginations.

The DC Reboot

2 weeks left for the DC Universe in its current incarnation.   Come August 31st the last DC Universe stories will be told and a new DC Universe will start with the publication of JLA #1.  It won’t be, but it will be, a completely new universe.  Those elements that they want to keep will stretch forward into the new universe, but any changes they want to make can be made.

Hmm – at least I think that is what is going on.  Until comic #1 comes out on the 31st we won’t really know for sure.

One of the exciting side effects is that this month every DC title is ending.  Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, and on – all of them are publishing their final issues.  Each week this month you get the climax to a story and often a restatement of what the core principles of the character are.  That is rare is serialized comics since normally each ending is simply a transition into the next storyline.  It means that there are some meaty, nifty issues being published this month.  Secret Six and Detective both had dark endings.  Superman finally ended the abominable “Grounded” storyline.  Many other key titles are following in the next two weeks.

Here is a pro and con list or a Here’s why I am/am not excited about the reboot:

The scope is huge.  52 titles and they span the breadth of genres.  Classic Superhero, to modern quirky super-hero.  Team books and solo books.  Other genres likes horror and western are also represented.  Some of the concepts seem to be a small polishing of old ones.  Some are completed new rethinks.  One is a revamp of an idea from the 90s.

But 52 comics – So many of them are safe.  There are 11 -ELEVEN titles in the Batman part of the universe.  The Green Lantern franchise looks like it will hardly be touched (four titles).  And 5 comics – there is no way to try them all.  The scope of it boggles the mind.  How can I possibly find the good from the bad?

Back to the good – they’ve put their best creative teams to work.  Johns and Lee are on the flagship title, JLA.  Morrison is on Action Comics.  They’ve also taken a risk on new artists and writers.  That is pretty neat.

The bad – the architects of the new DCU are the same as the old.  Morrison and  Johns are at the helm.  If what they were doing in the old DCU wasn’t working for you I’m not sure that you’ll find a big tonal shift here.  It is hard to say – it depends on how much and how well the new creators on the backlist titles make their marks.  There are also some names missing in the initial launch news and some of the announced creators and just no good in my view.

The good – this has never been done before.  DC relaunched after Infinite Crisis, but it was in fits and starts.  Some comics never saw new launches, some were delayed, and some were there from the get go.  Ultimate Comics is similar, but it didn’t replace the core universe and the scale is so much smaller – I think the Ultimate universe launched with only 2 or 3 titles.  The Wildstorm relaunches over the years might be the closest… unfortunately almost every one of them was a disaster.  Hopefully Lee will not be bringing the same problems forward here.  (Many of the Wildstorm relaunches were ruined due to late books and quickly abandoned concepts.  But most of the relaunches had an idea hidden in them somewhere.)

But the concept of the story behind the relaunch seems very similar to Crisis.  I don’t get the feeling that every piece of history is being tossed out.  The Batwoman, Thunder Agents and Batman Inc launches seem to support that idea.  But then we get a problem that plagued DC in the late eighties and early nineties – no one knew what was still in continuity and what wasn’t .  This seems like such an obvious issue that I’m sure DC has addressed it.  I’m withholding worrying to much about it until I see how they are making the titles work.

I’m also just stoked about some of the titles.  Batwoman, the new Batman – although mostly because I was stoked by the same teams on the same concepts before the launch.  Wonder Woman – it was a radical new team – Azzarello and Chiang!  The return of Firestorm.  Weird concepts like Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE.  They’ve put Liefeld back on Hawk and Dove – never would I have every seen that coming.  There is a merger of the Wildstorm and DCU properties – how will that work?  But Martian Manhunter on Stormwatch seems nifty to me.

I couldn’t get all the titles, so I’ve decided to get the ones below at launch time.

I’ve stared the ones I’m pretty sure will kick butt and I’ve put a ^ beside the ones that I’m taking a risk on.

  • Justice League #1 – by Geoff Johns & Jim Lee *
  • Wonder Woman #1 – by Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang *
  • The Fury of Firestorm #1 – by Ethan Van Sciver, Gail Simone & Yildiray Cinar ^
  • DC Universe Presents #1 – by Paul Jenkins & Bernard Chang ^
  • Batman #1 – by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo *
  • Birds of Prey #1 – by Duane Swierczynski & Jesus Saiz
  • Batwoman #1 – by J.H. Williams III, Haden Blackman & Amy Reeder *
  • Swamp Thing #1 – by Scott Snyder & Yannick Paquette *
  • Animal Man #1 – by Jeff Lemire, Travel Foreman & Dan Green ^
  • Demon Knights #1 – by Paul Cornell, Diogenes Neves & Oclair Albert
  • Frankenstein, Agent of Shade #1 – by Jeff Lemire & Alberto Ponticelli
  • Resurrection Man #1 – by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning & Fernando Dagnino
  • I, Vampire #1 – by Joshua Fialkov & Andrea Sorrentino ^
  • Hawk & Dove #1 – by Sterling Gates & Rob Liefeld ^
  • Stormwatch #1 – by Paul Cornell & Miguel Sepulveda ^
  • Grifter #1 – by Nathan Edmondson, Cafu & BIT ^
  • Action Comics #1 – by Grant Morrison & Rags Morales *

Weekly Recap

How long before you settle back into your normal routine?  I tried right away – heading to work, getting comics, visiting the mall on weekends for a movie and Edo.  Last week I only made it to work for three days, but that beats the two days from the week before that.  I see no reason not to be at work all five days this week.

I haven’t felt great in the last couple weeks.  Stress?  More physical than emotional really.  I am exhausted by the end of the day.  And I don’t feel like eating.  Sort of like having a hangover – you don’t want to eat, but if you do eat then you feel much better afterwards.  And the stupid kidney stone has been rattling around.  Not really any pain, but just a little soreness from time to time to let me know it is there.

I want to spend some time this week talking about the DC reboot.  I’m pretty stoked – kinda.  This August has been filled with endings and that is pretty cool.

Anyway, I wrote that sentence as a fill before talking about the funeral, but somehow it seems to be about the funeral anyways.  Of course last week was all about the funeral.  I offered help, but Mom and Tim did most of everything.  I just showed up and shook hands.  I got lots of hugs from pretty women – that was good – but most of them were family.  Tim and Mom were pretty good at getting everything lined up and other than having the worst microphone every invented the whole thing went off hitchlessly.

(Um – meaning that the hitches that there were didn’t cause any horrid problems.)

The best part was seeing folks.  Folks I haven’t seen for years and years and years.  It was a mob of family and friends that descended on the town for an evening and morning and then vanishing away again like Keyser Soze.  Some I hadn’t seen since I was an elementary school student. With Kev I fell right back into old routines.  That is pretty cool.

I was worried that not many people would get up to give remembrances of Dad because public speaking can be scary, but so many people did.  That was really great.   I wish there had been something more about Dad’s kindness, competence and humour, but some of those are hard to express in a story.  We did get quite a few hijinks and game playing.  I’m certainly very, very happy with what I heard.

I was able to express my thanks on Friday night for all those who made an effort to come, to those that were unable to make it and to those who simply held us and Dad in their thoughts and prayers.  I didn’t say the same to the group that gathered for the mass on Saturday, but the sentiment remains the same.  Thank you all very much.

OK – I’m now going to eat some food, read a chapter of my book and go to bed early.  I get to sleep in tomorrow because I’m heading to work downtown later than normal.  Yay!

My Talk

Dad, Isaac Dyck, was born in Saskatchewan in 1940 and grew up on a farm with his parents, brothers and sisters. [pause] This isn’t that kind of talk. I could tell you what Dad did, but never touch on who he was. Plus I missed a lot of his history from before he was born [pause] and I don’t know the answers to some basic questions like how a man who isn’t fond of doctors and dislikes hospitals came to have and enjoy a lengthy career at a hospital.

Here are two quick remembrances of mine. I hope others will provide more later to help flesh out who my father was.

I’ve spoken before of Dad’s successes, but there are failures too. He had two sons, but neither of us are Roughrider fans. He spent some long hours outside with me as a child trying to teach me to catch a baseball, but I was always scared of even his underhand throws.

Once, I waited in terror for him to come home from work. I have no idea what my crime was, but it made Mom mad enough that she proclaimed that I would have to wait for Dad to come home to “deal with me”. But when the time came for the, surely deserved, spanking, I hid on the other side of our round kitchen table and darted from side to side as Dad tried to maneuvre his chair around either side.

Of course, in a similar situation several years later Dad was tasked with catching a mouse the cat had brought in and succeeded using a broom and dustpan. I guess the mouse wasn’t told about hiding behind a table.

Still, I’d say failures were rare. Certainly I saw more successes. I always admired the way he provided leadership at the hospital. I was a frequent lurker around the office as a child. Dad was calm and always dealt with his coworkers with respect. He didn’t complain about them when he came home from the office either. Without being a martinet or pointy-haired boss, it seemed to me that he instead earned everyone’s respect and friendship. He did that by caring honestly for the people around them, for respecting what they brought to the job and for taking interest in them and their families outside the office.

Every Christmas, the whole family would head down to the hospital and accompany Dad as he went on a visit through the nursing home and the auxiliary hospital. He’d stop by many rooms. In some we would just say Merry Christmas. Some we would stop and chat for a while. Some we’d share a cookie and a glass of wine.

I could say more about Dad’s care for his family. For his gentle and ready sense of humour. About points I’ve made before like his general competence, patience, determination and enjoyment of each day…

I could go on forever about all the aspects I will miss.