Our Long National Nightmare is Finally Over

I think the best thing we can say about the Bush presidency is that America survived to see the end of it. Although, looking around at the economic carnage we’re experiencing, it was a pretty close thing, and certainly we didn’t get much help from the administration itself.

Two recessions – this one often called the worst since the Great Depression. Two overseas wars, one of them ill-advised from the outset and largely irrelevant to making the US safer, and both of them quite expensive in both blood and treasure. The utter failure of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina. The ongoing gutting of the nation’s schools thanks to projects such as Leave No Child Behind. All adding up to a presidency which seemed to care little (if at all) for ordinary Americans, and was only interested in making a splash and further enriching its already-rich friends.

Has George W. Bush been the worst President in history? Perhaps not, but certainly he’s among the worst. The usual joke is to ask such a character not to let the door hit him on the way out, but honestly I’m okay with the door hitting him.

I’m not as enamored with Barack Obama as many are, although certainly I agree that he has the potential to be a great President. (I don’t think we’ve seen a truly great President since at least Kennedy, maybe Truman.) I hope that people can temper their expectations to account for the fact that his administration has a long way to climb to dig us out of this economic hole before they can really start building on the foundations again. That may lead to some disappointment in the next couple of years. (One almost wonders whether the Bush administration helped engineer the recession to make it that much harder for their successors to get anything done, or undo their disastrous policies. That’s maybe a little too cynical for even me, though.)

Still, the first step on the road back is to throw out the people who brought you to this place and elect someone reasonable. And it looks like we can put up a “Mission Accomplished” banner for that part.

However, the hard part has barely begun.

Birthday Weekend

I can’t complain about my birthday weekend: It’s been packed full of fun stuff.

Friday night Debbi took me out to dinner. We went to Sundance the Steakhouse, a local place that we’d never been to before, but which we discovered through the discount cards we get through our workplaces. (We’ve actually discovered several good places through them.) It was very yummy! They have an elegant decor with wood panelling and display cases of what I assume are memorabilia from Stanford, which is just down the street. We each ordered a steak dinner, with an appetizer of potato skins. Good stuff! We’ll definitely go back.

At home we watched 3 more episodes of Battlestar Galactica, and we’re now nearly caught up.

And that wrapped up my birthday proper.

Saturday we ran a variety of errands in order to host my birthday party in the evening. As always I didn’t send out the invitations until quite late – Wednesday evening. With my birthday falling so soon after Christmas it’s always hard to get myself to put it together early. I also have a hard time figuring out whom to invite. I worry about having so many people over that we won’t have space to cram them all into our house, but on the other hand I also consider inviting some people I know casually, enjoy hanging out with, but wonder if they’d feel peculiar that I invited them to my birthday party. Debbi encouraged me to invite more rather than fewer people, so that’s what I did. And then of course, there’s always some obvious person that I forget until a day or two later.

Anyway, despite my worries and despite the short notice, we had plenty of people show up. Which is itself rather flattering: I have lots of friends! Some folks I hadn’t seen in a while showed up, too, such as Lucy, Trish, and Mark & Yvette.

People were mesmerized by a frustrating puzzle that Debbi’s father sent her for Christmas: I think we managed to identify all the OCD people in the room with it. And our friends Lisa and Michael brought their daughter Isabella, who is now walking, and who loves cats. I guess she was able to pet Blackjack at one point, which left her completely delighted. She’s become quite the little flirt. Subrata and Susan brought over Ajay, who’s not yet crawling, but who seemed pretty happy to see all the people. He’s going to be quite the little charmer himself.

After consuming the USDA-mandated quantities of cake and ice cream, everyone staggered off home. But we had a great time. Even the cats had fun!

Today we headed off to Half Moon Bay for brunch and an hour walk along the seashore: It’s been quite warm here recently, so it was perfect weather for it. Then we came home and sat around watching football and putting the house back together.

I couldn’t really have asked for a much better weekend. How was yours?

Forty

My Mom sent me an e-mail this morning that began, “I know what I was doing 40 years ago. I also know what you were doing, probably crying. Well, we both made it this far.”

I have mixed feelings about reaching the big four-oh. On the one hand I lead a comfortable life, I enjoy my job, I have a great girlfriend, great friends, and more to do with my time than I have time. And I still have all my fingers.

On the other hand, the older I get the more I feel like certain things are slipping away from me. It’s unlikely I’ll have a significant writing career at this point (and there’s a whole post I could do about my writing skills, aspirations, and failures), and I regret that my drawing skills have lain fallow over the last 15 years.

Of course, there are also things that I feel like I “should” have done, such as travelled more widely, but I don’t really regret not having done because they’re not things I’m really into.

Age 40 is something of a landmark age: If you haven’t had kids yet and want to, you’re probably thinking seriously about getting moving on it. On the other hand, if you had kids in your early 20s, then they’re starting to head off to college around this time. 40 is an upper bound for even most world-class athletes to compete at the highest level, so what about the rest of us? Not to mention that in past centuries, many people were lucky even to make it this far. Those factors, combined with it being a round number which our monkey-brains like to treat as something special, make this birthday a little melancholy for me.

But I really shouldn’t be gloomy about it, because really things are pretty good. Turning 30 seems like it was a long time ago now, so I have lots of time ahead of me, too. And maybe I’ll get to some of that stuff over the next decade.

Plus, I managed to keep my birthday under wraps and it looks like I’ll escape being suddenly embarrassed by all my cow-orkers today, the way we embarrassed my friend James on his last birthday. Thank goodness!

Sure I wouldn’t mind being 30 again. But this ain’t bad.

This Week’s Haul

  • Booster Gold #16, by Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund (DC)
  • Fables #80, by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Peter Gross & Andrew Pepoy (DC/Vertigo)
  • Final Crisis #6 of 7, by Grant Morrison, J.G. Jones, Carlos Pacheco, Doug Mahnke, Marco Rudy, Christian Alamy & Jesus Marino (DC)
  • Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel #3 of 5, by Kevin Grevioux, Mat Broome, Sean Parsons, Roberto Castro & Álvaro Lopez (Marvel)
  • Annihilation Conquest vol 2 TPB, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Sean Chen, Scott Hanna, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Kyle Holz, Tom Raney, & Wellington Alves (Marvel)
  • Daredevil: Born Again premiere HC, by Frank Miller & David Mazzucchelli (Marvel)
  • B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess #1 of 5, by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Guy Davis (Dark Horse)
  • Invincible #58, by Robert Kirkman & Ryan Ottley (Image)
  • The Perhapanauts #5, by Todd Dezago, Craig Rousseau & Jason Copland (Image)
Final Crisis #6 Another month, another issue of DC’s disastrous event series, Final Crisis. This issue could be titled, “This issue, something happens!” Some of the Apokaliptians are defeated, even though the fight took three issues (!) to conclude. Luthor and Sivana outmaneuver Libra, whose role in the series has been so utterly trivial it’s hard to understand why he’s there at all. And Batman faces down Darkseid, and both sides lose. Superman shows up (from a trip whose second issue hasn’t been published yet) to try to pick up the pieces.

It’s dreadfully written, from start to finish, with Morrison piling pointless detail on top of recycled plot device. Who cares that the Legion’s Miracle Machine is Guardian technology harnessed by the Controllers? Captain Marvel Jr. uses the world’s most obvious solution to deal with Bad Mary Marvel, and her claim that she can never change back again feels right out of Miracleman. Then there’s the decidedly unheroic plan to lead the remnants of the human race to life on a parallel world. Okay, the notion that the Question would become part of the global peace agency that creates OMAC is cute, but – so?

This issue of Final Crisis feels like a series of in-jokes, and not particularly funny ones, at that. It’s not clever, it’s not fun, it’s not heroic. Who’s reading this crap?

Oh wait, I am. But only for one more issue. Thank goodness.

On the (much) brighter side…

Daredevil: Born Again Every so often I try to come up with what I think are the ten best comics stories of all time. The list usually changes each time, and I don’t typically even get to ten, but there are two books that are on every list: One is Cerebus: Jaka’s Story, and the other is Daredevil: Born Again. Marvel’s reprinted the latter this month in a nifty hardcover collection, which I happily picked up.

The remarkable thing about Born Again when it was published is that Daredevil’s status quo is completely changed by the story: At the beginning he’s a respected lawyer, and by the end of the first chapter all of that is gone, and he never gets it back. Not surprisingly, he eventually returned to his old status quo, but at the time it was a radical change that seemed irreversible.

Fundamentally, Born Again tears down Daredevil’s life from the very beginning, as his nemesis, the Kingpin of Crime, learns his secret identity. Rather than just killing him, the Kingpin ruins him first, and then kills him. Or tries to. As anyone who has lost everything would be, Daredevil becomes desperate, has nowhere to turn, and confronts his torturer. But, having escaped death, Daredevil has nowhere farther down to go, and he’s forced to understand who he is at his very core, and to rely on that essential self to pull himself up. Miller chronicles Daredevil’s arc carefully, but every little bit counts.

Daredevil is sometimes pushed aside in his own story: The Kingpin has his own arc and gets considerable page time as he’s flying high after doing away with the hero, until he realizes that not everything has gone according to plan. Between these two is Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich, a friend of Daredevil’s who is also targeted by the Kingpin due to his investigative skills, and who has to face his own demons as a result. The book is full of interesting supporting characters, and even the Bugle editor, J. Jonah Jameson, gets a chance to shine; Jameson may have a blind spot where Spider-Man is concerned, but we see here that he truly is a good man when it counts.

Born Again is a deeply human story, with just a few whiffs of super-powers. Heroes and villains circling each other in a game more complex and deadly than a mere fight. And David Mazzucchelli is an essential component of the story, his artwork impressing with his control of light and shadow from the very first page, moving to a highly stylized approach when things are at their darkest, before returning to a more traditional style in the climax.

It really is one of the best comics ever. Don’t miss it.

This Week’s Haul

A very light week:

  • Green Lantern: Wanted: Hal Jordan TPB, by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert & Daniel Acuña (DC)
  • War of Kings Saga special, by Michael Hoskin & many hands (Marvel)
  • Secret Invasion: War of Kings #1, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Paul Pelletier, Bong Dazo, Rick Magyar & Joe Pimentel (Marvel)
  • Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #2 of 8, by Mike Mignola & Duncan Fegredo (Dark Horse)
  • The Boys #26, by Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson (Dynamite)
Secret Invasion: War of Kings one-shot Marvel follows up its most recent event, the impenetrable Secret Invasion (which at least had the advantage of being more lively than DC’s Final Crisis), with an event for its space heroes, War of Kings. I’m mainly buying it for the space heroes angle, since I enjoy both Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy, and WoK is written by the authors of those series, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. That said, the set-up is amazingly convoluted and if you really want to know all the details, you can pick up the War of Kings Saga issue, which summarizes the whole thing.

Briefly, the Inhumans are a relatively obscure set of Marvel characters who millennia ago were substantially evolved by the alien Kree, who intended to use them as weapons. The Kree instead pulled out and the Inhumans have lived ever since in seclusion, first on Earth and then on the moon. Following some unpleasant confrontations with humanity in recent years, Black Bolt, the mute leader of the Inhumans, has decided that his race should claim their heritage as the rulers of the Kree. In this week’s Secret Invasion: War of Kings one-shot, they do exactly that, with Black Bolt seizing power from the incumbent Ronan the Accuser. Meanwhile, the Shi’ar empire has an usurper of its own, Vulcan, the mutant brother of the X-Men’s Cyclops, and he sees the Inhumans’ action as an interesting challenge to his own power, and presumably intended to provoke a war with them.

Got all that? It’s really even more complex than that – that’s the brief version.

At a glance this event looks like it’s going to suffer from a lack of sympathetic characters: Black Bolt has always been something of a nonentity, written as a stoic figure who acts through others, whole Vulcan is just an outright villain. But presumably Abnett and Lanning are going to show the war between the two through the eyes of people affected by it, such as Nova and the Guardians and anyone else who’s in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Of more concern is the sheer convoluted nature of the premise. Earlier cosmic events such as Annihilation and its sequel Annihilation Conquest had the advantage of having relatively simple premises, but pulling in these complex set-ups just makes this one very hard to get behind: Can’t we just have a good old space war without getting Vulcan and the Inhumans involved? It feels like a big overreach.

It’s also a disappointing to see the interesting ongoing storylines in Nova and Guardians disrupted again by yet another event. Can we call for a moratorium on this stuff and get back to some plain, simple storytelling?

I have a certain amount of faith in Abnett and Lanning to pull off stuff like this, but I think they’ve set themselves a big challenge here, and I’m not sure the payoff is likely to merit the risk.

Week Back

Well, that wraps up my first week back at work following the holiday break. It was actually pretty low-key: Trying to finish up the project I was working on before the break (nearly done!), and handling the steady stream of questions and small stuff that comes up.

Unfortunately I came down with another cold on Sunday night, and spent most of the week congested, and missed frisbee on Tuesday. Fortunately, it wasn’t much more than congestion, and it’s just about done. I don’t think I could have taken another two-week deal. Speaking of which, Debbi’s cold is lingering with a nagging cough, but it’s much better than it was when I last wrote about it, and we’re hoping it’ll go away entirely soon.

I spent the week alternating between gaming nights (Magic on Monday, board games on Wednesday) and watching TV or reading the book for our book group (Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh, one of my favorites). Tonight we’re watching a bunch of Battlestar Galactica season 4.1 which arrived on DVD today.

January always feels plenty busy even after the madness of the previous month’s holidays. Sometimes I wish it were quieter. Yet there’s always so much I want to do.

This Week’s Haul

  • Green Lantern #29-35, by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert (DC)
  • Green Lantern #36, by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert (DC)
  • Justice Society of America #22, by Geoff Johns, Alex Ross, Dale Eaglesham & Nathan Massengill (DC)
  • Legion of Super-Heroes #49, by Jim Shooter, Francis Manapul & Livesay (DC)
  • Madame Xanadu #7, by Matt Wagner, Amy Reeder Hadley & Richard Friend (DC/Vertigo)
  • The Winter Men Winter Special, by Brett Lewis & John Paul Leon (DC/Wildstorm)
  • Avengers/Invaders #7 of 12, by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger, Steve Sadowski & Patrick Berkenkotter (Marvel)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy #8, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Brad Walker & Victor Olazaba (Marvel)
  • Incognito #1, by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips (Marvel/Icon)
  • Marvels: Eye of the Camera #2 of 6, by Kurt Busiek & Jay Anacleto (Marvel)
Green Lantern #29

Green Lantern #36

I can’t really figure out writer Geoff Johns. He’s clearly got a deep and abiding love for Silver Age and Bronze Age DC comics, and he’s basically been given carte blanche to do whatever he wants at DC these days, driving events like Infinite Crisis, writing anchor series like Action Comics, and bringing back Hal Jordan as Green Lantern. But as a writer he’s extremely erratic. Throw out the event books – which are always going to have a lot of editorial edict in them – and my exposure to his work is as follows:

  • A pretty good run on Flash, in the unenviable position of following Mark Waid, who defined the title for a decade.
  • A pretty weak run on Justice Society of America, marked by a lack of focus and nearly-nonexistence characterization.
  • An erratic run on Hawkman which thrashed around but never went anywhere in either plot or character development.
  • A fun run on Booster Gold.
  • A very strange run on Action Comics, with uncompressed story arcs (i.e., not much story per issue) which lacked cohesion or much continuity sense.
  • Reviving the Green Lantern series.

His overall approach feels a lot like that of Kurt Busiek and Mark Waid, both of whom also have a great love for comics of their youth, as well as a deep and broad knowledge of those comics and an ability to apply that knowledge to their writing. The difference, I think, is that Busiek and Waid both have a much more sophisticated ability to plot stories and tie them into ongoing character development, and especially to provide a payoff in the form of a dramatic action sequence or moving character scene. Johns’ plots seem haphazard, and they mostly lack character and payoff. They just amble along, relying on a density of references to the source and background material to give them texture. There’s often a lot to think about when reading his books, but they tend to end up feeling empty, because crucial elements of the stories are just absent.

This brings me to Green Lantern. I bought the series back when it started, and a friend of mine called it “the least necessary character revival in recent memory” (or words to that effect). About eight issues in, I decided I agreed with him: Characterization was minimal, and the book didn’t seem to be going anywhere, so I dropped it.

But as I read about where the book has gone since, with the Sinestro Corps War and an expansion of the backdrop of the Guardians of the Universe and their Green Lantern Corps, I decided I was interested in picking up the book again. So this week I picked up issues 29-35, comprising the “Secret Origin” story, and 36, which is chapter two of “Rage of the Red Lanterns” (chapter one appeared in a Final Crisis tie-in book last month). I also picked up the paperback collections of the first 15 or so issues.

Well, I have to say that Green Lantern overall might be Johns’ best work. While one could argue that a 50-year-old character hardly needs his origin story retold, Johns throws out some of the more depressing elements of the last telling, Emerald Dawn, such as Hal’s conviction for drunk driving, and tells the story starting with Hal’s childhood: Seeing his father’s plane explode before his eyes, his rebellion against his mother and desire to fly, and his early training with the Green Lantern Corps, including winning the (somewhat grudging) approval of Sinestro, who was the greatest Green Lantern in the Corps at the time. Johns puts his all into crafting Jordan’s character, as a rebel who didn’t fit into his family and who shirked his responsibilities, but who learned to accept responsibility as the stakes got higher. He’s both a thinker who challenges the status quo, and a man of action who sometimes doesn’t think enough. It might be the best GL origin ever done.

“Secret Origin” also lays the groundwork for “Rage of the Red Lanterns”, by introducing Atrocitus (still a ridiculous name, but arguably no more ridiculous than Sinestro), the leader of the Red Lanterns, who is searching for the individual who will bring about the Blackest Night (which will be the next big GL event, it seems). That individual is apparently Black Hand, an old GL villain who appeared early in the series, making it apparent that Johns has been working through some long-term plans for the series. In the latest issue, the Red Lanterns start to execute their plan, while Green Lantern himself is contacted by a new force, the Blue Lanterns.

The notion of different colored lantern forces is an interesting one, although it’s hard to see how it will all fit into existence continuity, since we’ve never heard of them before. The Blue Lanterns are new, so they get a pass, but I don’t quite understand how the Sinestro Corps came about (since I haven’t yet read the Sinestro Corps War), nor why we haven’t heard of the Red Lanterns before now. The colors also seem to embody different emotions: red is rage, yellow is fear, blue is hope. I’m not sure what green is… bravery? There are also the Star Sapphires and their magenta-colored powers.

So I still have some worries that a lot of these details will go unexplained, which will make the texture of the setting much less satisfying. Nonetheless, Green Lantern is looking like Geoff Johns’ magnum opus. His other work has been so erratic that this feels like damning it with faint praise, but I am enjoying it quite a bit.

Justice Society of America #22 On the other hand, there’s Geoff John’s run on Justice Society. The story “Thy Kingdom Come” concludes this month, as Gog is summarily dispatched (way too easily, really), and the Kingdom Come Superman’s story comes to a close, circling back to the events of that earlier series.

Although the issue feels decidedly rushed – I think Johns and Ross threw too many balls up in the air and never gave any of them the time they really needed – there’s still some good stuff here. Gog was always just a foil for Superman, as he represented the hero’s greatest fears, so closely resembling the man from his own world whom Superman saw as having supplanted him. In dealing with Gog, Superman owns up to his responsibilities to his own world, and with Starman’s help returns there. This leads to a touching epilogue in which the years following Kingdom Come are hinted at, with a very satisfying final page.

Gog had some lasting impact on a few members of the JSA, but it’s hard to tell whether they’ll be fully explored in future issues, especially since the next storyline is going to deal with Black Adam and Mary Marvel (what, again?). I suspect any real payoff will be left to the writers who will follow Johns later this year, Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges.

After over a year of “Thy Kingdom Come”, JSA feels like it just doesn’t have any focus on its core characters – indeed, that its cast is so large it doesn’t really know who its core characters are. Flash? Green Lantern? Power Girl? Cyclone? The KC Superman has been the heart of this series for more than half its run, and he wasn’t even a member of the team, really. Both this and the previous JSA series have been all about fairly superficial plots and very little characterization. It seems a poor legacy for what in the 70s and 80s was a team featured in some truly excellent stories. As much as Johns gets right in Green Lantern, he gets wrong here.

The Winter Men Winter Special Once upon a time there was a mini-series called The Winter Men. The premise of this series was that there had been a Soviet project to create superhumans. It succeeded, more or less: A few genuine superhumans were produced, and some soldiers in super-powered armor were also created. The the Soviet Union collapsed. The soldiers dispersed, and the superhumans – went away. Not that they ever had that high a profile. Nearly 20 years later, one of the soldiers is reactivated to investigate a possible descendant of the superhuman program, which threatens his marriage and his life.

Unfortunately, said mini-series was published literally years ago: Issue #1 came out in 2005, and issue #5 in 2006. Now we get The Winter Men Winter Special, which concludes the story.

I always had problems with the series. I’m not a fan of John Paul Leon’s art, which seems muddy and laid-out so it’s difficult to follow. But the difficulty of following the art is nothing like trying to follow Brett Lewis’ story: The characters are bland and hard to distinguish, the motivations and repercussions are fuzzy, and things seem to happen for no reason. The series was lauded in some quarters as a solid thriller which explored life in contemporary Russia. But I felt that the good story was struggling to get out from under the obfuscation and muddy storytelling, but never quite made it: A story about the fantastic things from the previous regime coming back to haunt the survivors in the present day, but in a society in which survival means keeping your head down and trying to avoid being part of the fantastic.

Maybe that’s the story that Lewis wanted to tell, but I don’t think it’s the one that made it onto the page. Which is too bad, but ultimately I think The Winter Men ended up being stylish but not very satisfying.

Update 1/11/09: Two other reviews of this issue, with summaries of the series as a whole: Greg Burgas at Comics Should Be Good, and Jog at Savage Critics. Both of them liked the series more than I did. I think Jog’s point about the story being “supercompressed” is a good one, but it sure does make it awfully hard to read and follow, and I don’t think the rewards are worth the effort.

Incognito #1 I haven’t read much of Ed Brubaker’s comics work other than his X-Men work, but I know he’s pretty well regardd for Captain America and Criminal, the latter of which is illustrated by Sean Phillips, who also draws Brubaker’s new series, Incognito.

The premise is clever: Zack Overkill is a super-villain who testified some time ago against another criminal, and was put into the witness protection program, and given drugs to suppress his powers. Much like Mr. Incredible in The Incredibles, Zack doesn’t take to living a normal life as an office worker very well, but being an amoral sort he find the occasional way to get his kicks. He also finds – quite by accident – a way to counteract the drugs blocking his powers. Which puts him in a practical dilemma: He’s in witness protection for a reason which benefits him, but he also wants to use his powers. Zack’s background is interesting, with a deceased brother and a scientist who gave him his powers, which surely will play into future issues. This first issue is all set-up, but Brubaker does a great job in crafting it and promising plenty of mayhem down the road.

Phillips’ art has that shadowy noir-ish look to it, but his drawings have more detail and nuance than, say, John Paul Leon or Michael Gaydos, two artists with their own noir-ish styles which don’t really work for me. So overall Incognito #1 is a winner, and I’m looking forward to more of it.

(Brian Cronin liked it, too. And, you can read the first nine pages of the first issue here, although the second half is better than the first! Also, you can see the covers of the first three issues.)

Welcome to 2009

Happy new year, everyone!

Obviously I’ve not just had a vacation from work this past week, but a vacation from posting as well. I’d like to say I’ve been insanely busy, but I’ve really just been somewhat busy and otherwise rather lazy.

Debbi’s cold has unfortunately stuck around for the whole vacation, and it’s hit her a lot harder than mine did me: She’s had such bad congestion she’s sometimes had trouble breathing, and has gone on powerful coughing jags, one night it’s was bad enough that she didn’t get to sleep until 8 in the morning. It’s really been brutal, and it’s sucked that it hit her during our vacation. It’s almost like she caught one cold, and then caught a second cold in the middle of the first one. But the symptoms have been progressing like a cold, and she hasn’t had a fever or nausea, so we’re pretty sure it’s “just” a cold, and not the flu or something uglier.

On the bright side, she got her car bumper replaced, since the old one got banged up when she ran into a ladder lying on the freeway a few weeks ago.

Last week we were watching the cat of my friend Andrew, Sir Meows-a-Lot, who is still a kitten. I think he’s about 8 months old, but Andrew has said he’s younger. But he seems bigger than a 6-month-old to me. He’s full of meow and loves to chase the laser pointer, and purrs madly when you pick him up. We wore him out completely each day we visited, so we all had a good time.

I’ve spent a lot of the vacation in the study. Mostly I’ve been getting my Magic cards organized, as they were getting to be a mess last month, and I made a few new decks. But I’ve also gone through some books and packed them up to sell to Bookbuyers next month. I also catalogued my recent comic book purchases, and organized some comics I don’t want to keep anymore, either putting them in my “to sell” boxes or throwing them out (if I don’t think I can get anything for them). I tidied up the “big closet o’ stuff”, moving the Babylon 5 script books into it. So things are getting cleaner up there. I really need to go to Storables and order some wall-mounted shelving for the closet, since then we’ll be able to stash a lot more stuff in there.

Since Debbi was still laying low, we had a quiet New Year’s last night, having take-out Indian food with Subrata and Susan, and watching DVDs for the evening. Their son Ajay is getting quite big, and will probably be crawling soon!

I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions, and I haven’t done a great job of keeping them when I have made them, so I have none this year. What I mostly hope is that I can hit the ground running after this vacation, having recharged my batteries, and not just be highly productive at work but make some progress on some personal projects I’ve long wanted to work on. Of course, January is shaping up to be a busy month already, so we’ll see how that goes!

In the meantime, I’d be happy just for Debbi to get well.