Monday, December 31, 2007

Spreading the coffee cheer?

A view on how Starbucks actually helps mom and pop coffeehouses (thanks, Andy!).


From Just Past the Horizon via When Fangirls Attack:

Did anyone feel like punching something after reading the last Countdown special?

No? Just me?

I mean, I love the concept of a gender-reversed world. I picked up the Countdown Presents: Search for Ray Palmer: Superwoman/Batwoman special overjoyed at the thought of Earth-11. It’s just such a wonderful tool when analyzing gender in stories, to run through a familiar story with a woman instead of a man and consider how and why things could be different. Would they think differently about their actions? Each other? Why? And how does the reader react differently?

Granted, there was an option to screw up, but I figured we were beyond writing alternate universe female characters as less capable than their male counterparts. I wasn’t worried when I read it.

I was partially right. We are beyond writing alternate universe female characters as less capable than their male counterparts. All of the female characters were very well done. The dialogue and the way the story was set up suggested that the gender stereotypes were still the same, and that the people meant to be heroes just happened to more often be female than male this time around (probably due in no small part to the most inspiring hero on that planet being the Last Daughter of Krypton as opposed to the standard Last Son). I’d love to see a Kylie Rayner story (or find out what’s going on with Jordan’s counterpart) or a few World’s Finest adventures with Superwoman and Batwoman. The art was lovely, the designs were feminized but not sexualized (I especially liked the effect with the Flash’s long hair). The characterization in general was that the characters were themselves as men or as women.

There was one exception.

One big hairy exception.

Read the rest of Lisa Fortuner's proof that feminists don't hate men, then go buy the book and decide for yourself if Wonderman is an accurate representation of a gender-reversed Wonder Woman.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

"Where are the Velvets?"

According to my weekly letter from MOM (the Men of Midtown), Image Comics plans to release a 400+ page anthology of full color comic stories based on Tori's narratives. It's reported that collaborators include Pia Guerra, Hope Larson, Colleen Doran, Lea Hernandez, Chris Arrant, Star St. Germain, Derek McCulloch, Neil Kleid, Leah Moore, and John Reppion. Neil Gaiman is not confirmed, but still listed as hopeful.

I cannot imagine a comic book about Tori that did not involve Neil. Theirs is a relationship I find absolutely intriguing! From

After including a reference to Neil and to the Dream King (the main character in The Sandman series) in the lyrics of Tear in Your Hand, Tori had a friend deliver a tape of the song to Neil at the San Diego comic convention. Neil, who receives many tapes from fans which he says usually "magically become blank tapes" remembers, "I listened to the first three or four tracks, and I was in love. It wasn't Little Earthquakes, it was sort of half Little Earthquakes and half what wound up being B-sides--things like 'Flying Dutchman' and 'Take to the Sky' and 'Sweet Dreams' and 'Upside Down.' but it was very obvious that musically I was a fan by the time I'd finished listening to the first few tracks. In fact it was ages before I spotted the 'me and Neil'll be hangin' out with the DREAM KING Neil says hi by the way'--that came much later." After listening to the tape, Neil, who lived in London, called Tori up, and the first of many wonderful conversations commenced. Tori now insists that the two knew each other in a past life. Neil states, "we were old friends immediately. Whether you want to view that as fact or metaphor, that is very much true."
Tori "winks" at Neil in several of her other songs and he "winks" right back by writing Tori and her lyrics into his stories. Tori wrote an introduction to his trade of Death: The High Cost of Living, and Neil wrote the liner notes to Strange Little Girls. The two have a mutual creative adoration and seem to gain continuing inspiration from each other.

In an interview Tori explains how she draws inspiration from Neil's Sandman character Delirium:

Yes, she [inspires me]. There are times I've spent with Neil where you know, we're toodling around and things you think you say in confidence end up in a comic book, you know? And then of course there are things that she says that I start saying. There's a strange sort of stealing going on.

Neil puts it a bit simpler saying, "I think she's absolutely magic."

I have long since been a big fan of both Tori and Neil. Favorites include Scarlet's Walk, Under the Pink, Neverwhere (which gave me pleasant nightmares), American Gods, and Stardust (the film is great, too). I have big plans of somehow convincing Tori to collaborate with me in a musical tribute to Neil's creations.

If that doesn't work out, perhaps I'll just write music inspired by the comics inspired by Tori's music.

...And maybe a few about Neil's stories, too!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Going the extra (beer) mile

Runners and beerophiles unite!

Most runners I know love downing a nice cold beer (or two, or more), especially after a long hard run or race. Some runners, like my good friend Pat (a.k.a. "the white kenyan"), are so hardcore, they enjoy a good brewski during the race.

The Beer Mile is the extreme sport for those whole love "digestive athletics." According to the official website FAQs, any mile that is run in combination with beer consumption can be considered a Beer Mile. However, thanks to the runners of Kingston, Ontario, a set of rules were defined and must be adhered to in order to have your Beer Mile time posted on's official results page, which is organized not only by location, gender, and age, but by brand of beer.

In compliance with the "Kingston Rules," the format of the race is as follows: Start - beer/lap, beer/lap, beer/lap, beer/lap - finish. Restrictions require that the beer be an untampered, unopened 12 oz. can (or 1 pint in the UK) and must contain a minimum of 5% alcohol by volume. Each beer must be completely consumed before starting the next lap (and yes, the drinking time is part of your overall race time). In the (likely) event of regurgitation, the offending runner must complete one penalty lap immediately following their 4th lap, which is also included in the overall race time.

Currently the world record is held by Jim Finlayson of Victoria, British Columbia, at 5:09.

There are some variations to this extreme sport including the Soda/Pop Mile, the Chocolate Milk Mile, the Ben and Jerry's 4x4 (4 pints of Ben and Jerry's ice cream per lap!), and the Vodka 2-Mile (8 shots, 8 quarters).

I'm not sure I could participate in any of the above because frankly, I hate vomiting. However, I think I may submit to the NYRR suggestion box a request for an Espresso Mile. I'd love to see my mile time for that race!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

RIP Oscar Peterson

The holidays this year are tinged with a bit of sadness; Oscar Peterson passed away this past Sunday. Unfortunately, not many seem to know. Such is the curse of a major holiday.

Thankfully, blog newbie Gregory Dudzienski was on top of his game, which is how I found out.

I never feel comfortable eulogizing such greats as Oscar Peterson, so I will direct you towards those who are better at remembering this beautiful jazz pianist:

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Season's Greetings

designed by Kevin Fenton

I apologize, again, for my lack of activity this past month.

However, while Ethan plans to cut back, I endeavor to become a more active blogger in 2008. I've been testing the bloggy waters these past 10 months, and I think I've finally identified the voice I wish to wield, but more on that later... It's time for me to once again put the blog on hold, and go wrap some presents!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Facing a deadline? Join me in some procrastination...

The Church of Coltrane

I assume we are all familiar with the St. John Will-I-Am Coltrane African Orthodox Church. This morning, as I sat down to (hopefully) finish this project that's got me dirtying up all my favorite coffee mugs, I was hit with this article on the first (online) page of the NYT. I only skimmed the article (hey, I've got music to write), but definitely took time to look at the slide show (hey, I've got ALL DAY to finish up!).

Hated the thought that anyone out there might miss this informative (I assume) blurb (or that I'd have to start writing so soon after waking), so I am sharing it here.

In the process of posting, I stumbled upon this revolting bit of news:

The McMocha

It's not at all surprising that McDonald's is considering entering the over caffeinnated over priced ridiculously trendy you-think-we're-high-end-and-sophisticated-but-really-we're-just-a-franchise-with-good-advertising coffee drink phenomenon (she says as she sips her excessively strong home brewed Starbucks "Christmas" blend). What's surprising is that it's taken so long for them to jump in.

At a time when Starbucks is hurting (supposedly, according to this article, that again, I only skimmed), will McDonald's step up to keep us satisfied? ... (sorry, just fell out of my chair laughing at the thought). Maybe not, according to this report. Apparently we snobby upper upper UPPER westsiders aren't the only ones who are appalled at the thought.

Decide for yourself.

Now really, I must get a get back to work- stop distracting me.

But first, I need another cup of coffee.