Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Graphic Novel Challenge

Give graphic novels a shot!
This challenge is very flexible: choose a level of participation:
Minor: Read 6
Major: Read 12
Masters: Read 18
Doctorate: Read 24

Below are the list of graphic novels (and TPB which can be included) I read in 2009.

1. Superman, Inc.: 1999 Annual Report by Steve Vance, et al.
2. Superman: Last Son of Earth, Books 1 & 2 by Steve Gerber, Doug Wheatly, Chris Chuckry, et al.
3. Batman: In the Darkest Knight by Mike W. Barr & Jerry Bingham
4. Gotham by Gaslight by Brian Augustyn, et al.
5. Son of Superman by Howard Chaykin, David Tischman, et al.
6. The Twilight Zone: Walking Distance by Mark Kneece, et al.
7. The Twilight Zone: The After Hours by Mark Kneece, et al.
8. The Twilight Zone: The Odyssey of Flight 33 by Mark Kneece, et al.
9. Star Trek: The Next Generation, "The Gorn Crisis" by Kevin Anderson, et al.
10. Superman: Last Stand on Krypton by Steve Gerber, Doug Wheatly, Chris Chuckry, et al.
11. Red Son by Mark Millar, et al.
12. Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? by Neil Gaiman, et al.
13. Superman & Wonder Woman: Whom Gods Destroy (Books 1-4) by Chris Claremont, et al.
14. Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood by Tony Lee, et al.

I had set out to finish a "doctorate" with this challenge, but after the first part of October, I lost most ambition. So, I finish with a "major" and if you count the extra books in a particular title, I got a "masters".

December 2009: Media Consumed

Books Read
The Governor by Rod Blagojevich

Yes, the only book I read was this one by the former Governor of my homestate. The writing was atrocious and it wasn't organized very well. There were a few interesting points, but for the most part it's not worth reading (unless you really, really enjoy Illinois politics).

Movies Viewed for the First Time
The Blind Side
Sherlock Holmes
The Goods
Alvin and Chipmunks
The Hangover

I loved The Blind Side. It's very inspiring. Sherlock Holmes was a great action picture. I really enjoyed Alvin and the Chipmunks, too. That was a movie that could have been completely messed up, but worked really well (I grew up watching some of the cartoons in the 1980s). As for The Hangover, there were funny moments but I once again felt like it was more like a drama than a comedy.

November 2009: Media Consumed

Books Read
*Confessions of a Swinging Single Sea Turtle by Jim Toomey
My Shorts R Bunching. Thoughts? by G.B. Trudeau
+Wait Until Dark Frederick Knott

* = denotes book of comic strips
+ = denotes a play

Not much to say about this month. There just wasn't much book reading going on.

Movies Viewed for the First Time
Blood Mania
Van Nuys Blvd.

None of these movies are really worth mentioning. However, for whatever reason, I cried during part of 2012.

October 2009: Media Consumed

Books Read
The Twitter Book by Tim O'Reilly & Sarah Milstein
The Box by Richard Matheson
How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas Foster
*To Kill a Mockingbird Adapted by Christopher Sergel

* = denotes a play

October began a downturn in reading for me for the rest of the year. My Dad died on Oct.2 and I'm still not sure if I've recovered. I haven't been able to enjoy reading as much. I really enjoyed some of the stories in The Box. If you would like to know how to get more out of your reading, you should read How to Read Literature Like a Professor. It was a bit redundant for me, but I majored in English. Lastly, To Kill a Mockingbird is a magnificent play. Perhaps one day I will get to direct it.

Movies Viewed for the First Time
Year One
Falling Down
War of the Colossal Beast
Where the Wild Things Are
Paranormal Activity
The River Runs Through It

was a great escape for my brother and I during the days following our Dad's death. It's a great, fun action movie. Where the Wild Things Are was a movie I enjoyed, though it is a bit dark. The River Runs Trough It is a solid film that made me cry, but it ended to abruptly. Capote was bizarre (though Phillip Seymour Hoffman was brilliant). Paranormal Activity is the most overrated movie of the year. It's not scary at all!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Desires That Seem to Defy

"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." Psalm 37:3-6

As long as I can remember, I have striven to follow Jesus and delight myself in him. I was raised by two loving, Christian parents, but unlike many children raised in similar circumstances my faith became my faith at a fairly early age (around 8). I'm not sure exactly what the catalyst was but almost as long as I can remember, I wanted to follow God and do the right thing, not because that's what my parents and family wanted but because it was the right thing and it was what I wanted to do. I'm not sure how to describe it, but at a young age I realized and understood that I was nothing outside of God. I read about the young prophet Samuel and though I hadn't heard God's audible voice, I knew that he had created me and called to me. I read with vigor Paul's letters to Timothy. I discovered that there were many other people in the Bible who God called and used at a young age.

This connection to the spiritual along with an above average intellect made me a bit of an outsider and outcast. I didn't have too many friends growing up and I tended to enjoy the company of grown-ups instead of my peers. It wasn't until I got to college that I found people around my age that I felt a real strong connection with. Of course, since graduating from college I've discovered that I often enjoy the company of children and young adults better than adults: I work well with kids and there is just something about their playfulness and spirit that brightens my weary soul. And weary my soul is.

I had such high hopes for 2009. 2008 was one hell of a crappy year. I had hoped that 2009 would be better. There were some good things that happened this year (directing my 1st play for instance), but the negative things have overwhelmed those positive things and in some instances tainted them forever with tragedy. Overall, 2009 has been a very shitty year.

I used to believe the words of Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." I used to believe in it fervently. It was something I clung to in my earliest trials. I sought God with a complete abandonment to everything else. No, I have never been faced with the threat of death because of my faith, but there have been many other sacrifices, challenges, obstacles, trials, and tribulations. But, I used to feel it was worth it because if nothing else I had the hope that God would give me the desires of my heart. After the past few months, I honestly don't know anymore. I feel more discouraged than I have ever felt in my life. I've lived more than a third of a century and have been a devout follower of Jesus for most of that time, yet I've experienced none of the desires of my heart. I know God is good and he loves us, but why do the desires remain unfilled.

So, as darkness surrounds me this battered and beaten warrior continues to press forward, but with a heavy and weary heart, pleading to God: when, Father, when?

Friday, December 25, 2009

September 2009: Media Consumed

Books Read
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
Pearls Sells Out by Stephan Pastis
*Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood by Tony Lee, et al.
Either You're In or You're In the Way by Logan & Noah Miller
*What the Duck by Aaron Johnson
*Old Farts Are Forever by Lee Lorenz
*Lio's Astonishing Tales From the Haunted Crypt of Unknown Horror by Mark Tatulli
+Plaza Suite by Neil Simon

* = graphic novels or book of comic strips
+ = play

Shutter Island is a great piece of fiction that also makes for a very fast read. Pearls Sells Out is the latest anthology of "Pearls Before Swine" strips and is hilarious. Either You're In or You're In the Way is a great memoir of two twin brothers and their journey in making their first movie,Touching Home.

Movies Viewed For the First Time
Inglourious Basterds
Nightmare on Elm Street
Logan's Run
An American Werewolf in London
Half Nelson
The Natural
Evan Almighty
An American Werewolf in Paris
God Grew Tired of Us

Inglourious Basterds is probably the best all-around Quentin Tarantino movie I've seen. The first Nightmare on Elm Street was a rather original piece of filmmaking. An American Werewolf in London is both incredibly funny and very sad. Half Nelson is a great drama that not only illustrates the destructive nature of drugs, but also the strong, healthy relationship that can develop between a teacher and student. The Natural is a great baseball movie that's really not about baseball at all, but redemption and second chances. God Grew Tired of Us is a documentary that wasn't as interesting as I thought it would be.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas (With the Muppets)

Last night Jimmy Fallon had the Muppets make a guest appearance on his show where they sang "The 12 Days of Christmas".  What many people may not realize is that this singing sketch is done almost exactly as it was with the Muppets back in a 1979 tv special with John Denver. The only differences being that some of the parts are sung by different Muppets and instead of John Denver, there's Jimmy Fallon. You can see the original sketch on Youtube. The Jimmy Fallon version from last night is below. Enjoy and have a very merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Pearls Before Swine

love "Pearls Before Swine". Not sure how many people read the comics anymore, but you really should take time to read this strip. Saturday's (12/5/09) is a great example of why I love it so much. I have to admit, though I've never taken things as far as Pig, I can sure relate to his trouble in finding a girl.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Return of the Muppets

I grew up on the Muppets and Jim Henson is only one of two public figures I have ever mourned for after their death. THE MUPPET SHOW, SESAME STREET, FRAGGLE ROCK, and JIM HENSON'S THE STORYTELLER were all shows I devoured when I watched them. Other than a short show on the Disney Channel, however, the Muppets have basically been nothing more than merchandise pushing machines hocking everything from Pizza Hut pizza to fancy jewelery.  About a week ago, a Muppet version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" was posted on YouTube and it went viral almost instantly.  The video is the supposed to be the first of a series featuring the Muppets to be released between now and the end of 2010. A new music album is supposed to be released next year as well as a new Muppet feature length film, THE CHEAPEST MUPPET MOVIE EVER MADE. That makes me happy.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I Hate Winter.

It's raining/snowing/freezing outside right now. I hate it. I used to like the snow, but other than on Christmas I could do without. I wish I could move to a warmer climate. Winter is the discontent of my soul.