(via Neil Gaiman, not that he needs the traffic from me!)
Two of my favorite short-shorts that a friend once related to me:
World Ends. Film at eleven.
World gas shortage. Fill’em at eleven.
When I lived in Madison, I lived 4 blocks away from the Mifflin Street Co-op, and I shopped there regularly. In particular I liked their selection of spices and the gourmet chocolate chips they carried. (I tended to skip the Mifflin Street Block Party, though; but you can see some photos of the 2005 party.)
Apparently the co-op may soon close its doors, which would be a real shame.
Review of the graphic novel Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall, written by Bill Willingham and drawn by various artists. Published by DC Comics.
The premise of Bill Willingham’s Fables is that the homelands of many classic fairy tales have been conquered by a mysterious Adversary, and many fables have escaped and are living in our world in New York (city and upstate). The framing sequence here sees Snow White sent as an ambassador to a Sultan in the middle east, to warn him that the Arabian fables’ lands may be next. Instead, she ends up playing the part of Scheherezade and telling the Sultan stories of her friends’ lives in their homelands to stave off her execution.
The framing sequence is charming, but as an illustrated text piece it drastically underutilizes the skills of Vess and Kaluta (I had similar misgivings about Vess’ illustrations in Neil Gaiman’s Stardust). But it’s the tales that Snow is telling that make up the meat of the book.
The book leads off with John Bolton’s piece, which is about a couple of very-well-known characters (no, it’s not a big mystery, but I won’t spoil it for you), and is the longest and best piece of the book. Bolton has been one of my favorite painting comic book artists and has been for years (for instance, I love his work in Gaiman’s The Books of Magic), and while his stlye has evolved, his sheer skill is not diminished; his work here is gorgeous, and unlike some painters, he’s also skilled at laying out a graphic story. (Some artists – to my eyes – seem to draw some stiff pictures that just don’t flow as a story; Bolton does not have that problem.)
1001 Nights is sort of a primer to Willingham’s overall approach to Fables: Start with some well-known (or not-so-well-known) fairy tales, and either explore the ramifications of the story by considering what happens after it ended (or before it began!), or put it in a world with other such tales and meld them together into a larger whole. So here we see the early life of the Big Bad Wolf (appropriately drawn in a rough, wild style by Mark Wheatley), and a nasty witch of some reknown (in an eerie style by Esao Andrews – one of several artists here I’m not familiar with). While these contortions tickle the geek in me due to their cleverness, they’re also just good entertainment.
The witch story, actually, is the one story in the volume where I wasn’t fond of the artwork. It’s the one story illustrated by two artists: Andrews and Tara McPherson. In the case of each artist, it’s the stiff poses and relative lack of detail that turn me off. It’s not that their art isn’t expressive, bit it didn’t feel as fully-realized as that of the other artists.
The thread running through most of the stories is that this is backstory for the characters in Fables, and we get many different pictures of characters fleeing their homelands when they’re conquered. Such tales are typically grim, but “Fair Division” – featuring Old King Cole – is charming and heartwarming despite this, which is fitting considering its main character. It’s also wonderfully drawn by Jill Thompson, an artist whose style changes almost every time I see her work. Sometimes it like it and sometimes I don’t, but she brought her “A” game to this yarn, and it’s a fine bookend to Bolton’s story at the front.
Whether or not you read Fables, you can enjoy this volume. It’s pretty to look at, fun to read, and worth coming back to. (But I wouldn’t blame you if you decided to wait for the paperback.)
One of my favorite sites to visit is Animal Tracks at MSNBC. It’s a weekly Flash slideshow of animal photos from around the world. Some are photographically stunning, some are just adorably cute (I can be a sucker for adorably cute animals). It’s a nice thing to browse on a Monday.
Very foggy out this morning – quite a surprise considering it was over 80 on Saturday. My recollection is that we don’t usually get foggy days until much later in the season, but I could be wrong.
Saturday we went into the city. On the way we stopped on the peninsula to eat at Brothers Deli, one of our favorite lunch joints. It recently moved from Burlingame to downtown Millbrae, into what looks like a newly-furnished venue. It’s the same yummy food, though (I like the meat blintzes).
Our main goal was to go to Borderlands Books so I could pick up the copy of Alastair Reynolds‘ new collection Zima Blue and Other Stories. We took BART from the Millbrae station just because I’d never done it, but it’s definitely slower than going to Daly City, where there are a lot more trains to catch, so that’s probably the last time for me unless they start running more trains. I can report success on getting the book, and I enjoy walking along Valencia Street in the Mission district because of all the quirky shops to glance in. But Borderlands alone makes it worth the trip, even when their hairless cat isn’t in residence.
Sunday we vegged out and watched football and baseball. Neither of us was feeling all that motivated to do much. I made some small tweaks to the FP template and did a bunch of reading.
The cats are doing well. They spent most of the weekend sleeping. I wonder if their kitty-drugs wear them out, even beyond being sick. Blackjack is getting his energy back and is behaving a little more normally. Roulette I think is just mad at us for giving her medicine every day – she hates it and struggles to get away. Blackjack fortunately is an easy mark for the medicine; for all I know he might even like it!
Hopefully they’ll be back to 100% by Wednesday. And that we’ll have dodged the bullet without Newton and Jefferson catching it.
I was chatting with Subrata yesterday about this weeks’ World Series, where his Detroit Tigers face the St. Louis Cardinals for the third time in history. I think the Tigers are pretty clearly the favorites, but I think the Cardinals can win if they accomplish two things:
Suppan has been on a tear for the last 3 months, and Weaver has been decent while pitching for the Cardinals, and good in the playoffs in particular. But neither are sure things. Both men need to continue to dominate for the Cardinals to have a real chance.
I think if that happens and the Cardinals’ legion of also-ran hitters (plus Scott Rolen and his bum shoulder) can step it up, then they should win. Otherwise, I think the best they can hope for is a close series that anyone could win.
But really, the Tigers have better pitching and better hitting (no surprise, since the Cardinals I think had the world regular-season record of any World Series team in decades – maybe ever), and they play one more game at home (the dubious “home field advantage” which barely exists in baseball), so it’s quite possible that they’ll just dismantle the Cardinals (like the Red Sox did to a much better Cardinals team in 2004).
Mainly, though, I think it will be a fun series. Which, when your team isn’t in it, is what we all wish for anyway, right?
Last night I pulled out the carrying case for Blackjack and Roulette, and look where Newton was 2 minutes later:
The kittens (who, I should note, are 3-1/2 years old now, but since the cats are 9 years older, there’s little ambiguity) went to the vet yesterday. Blackjack was running a serious fever, and had an eye infection. How cats whose outdoor experience is limited to supervised outings to the upstairs porch get this ill is beyond my understanding, but we got two kinds of kitty-drugs for him. He slept hard all night and although he’s still congested this morning, I think he seems better. The vet thinks he started out with a cold (virus), and then somehow ended up with a bacterial infection.
Roulette has started sneezing too, so she gets to share the drugs.
I’ve become fanatical about washing the cats’ food dishes after feeding them, and changing their water frequently, so hopefully Newton and Jefferson will not catch the cold.
Fortunately, everyone’s been eating and drinking, so I don’t think any of this is deadly serious. But I’ll be happy when things are back to normal.
Meanwhile, I’m glad we’re not dealing with cats licking all the hair off their body, as both an old friend and a local one are handling recently.
Today was less than exciting:
Okay, frisbee was fun – I made two defensive plays! – but otherwise the day was blah. Tomorrow won’t be much better:
The poor guy is sniffling and sneezing and spending a lot of time either sleeping or looking like he’s nearly asleep. Hopefully some kitty-drugs will get him fixed up right quick. At least he’s still eating and drinking, ad if he weren’t then I’d be really worried.
Also: The Cardinals beat the Mets to advance to the World Series, where they’ll face the Tigers. I was rooting for the Cardinals because, well, the Mets aren’t as bad as the Yankees but I still root against New York teams (sorry Peter David). I think that if both teams’ starters are on top of their game then this could be a very exciting, low-scoring World Series. That assumes that the likes of the Jeffs Weaver and Suppan can continue pitching as well as they have been. Still, if you’re gonna step up your game, it may as well be in the playoffs. I predict Tigers in 6, though.
Comic books I bought the week of 18 October 2006.
This week’s 52 involves the short lifespan of a new Justice League incarnation, and a few short asides, and overall other than an interesting appearance by Booster Gold’s robot Skeets is pretty ho-hum. Nice art by Phil Jimenez, though. This issue did make me think that superheroes for whom public relations is important (such as Booster Gold and – in this issue – Firehawk) really need to be 100% successful on their missions or they’re just going to get hammered.
Ms. Marvel coulda been a really good comic book. The heroine is a recovering alcoholic who recently had the opportunity to see what her career could have been like and decided to try to bring it up to that level. Instead it turned out to be a pretty good superhero adventure book with pretty good art. And then the big Marvel crossover event Civil War happened. Civil War saw the US government pass a superhero registration act, and those who signed it became duty-bound to arrest those who didn’t. Ms. Marvel is one of the collaborators (as are Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic), and this has completely sucked the life out of the series. I find the actions of the collaborators to be completely indefensible, and this series has become not-fun in an awfully big hurry. The creators could have salvaged it by (for instance) having Ms. Marvel become a collaborator because she had been an “outsider” before due to her alcoholism and she was afraid of not having anyone trust her again. It would have been tragic, but much more believable and powerful than her just happening to agree that if it’s the law then it’s right. Instead, I’m afraid this series has been wrecked by Marvel’s ill-thought-out publicity stunt.
Thieves & Kings has been one of my favorite independent comics, although it’s stumbled in recent years and feels a bit directionless. The Walking Mage is the first of what I guess with be a series of spin-off stories from the central story. I haven’t read it yet, but it looks like it could be very entertaining.
1001 Nights of Snowfall is a hardcover graphic novel featuring characters from the series Fables. It’s probably the second-best graphic novel published this year, and I’ll discuss it – and the best graphic novel – in later posts.