Cable: A Series Retrospective

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Duane Swierczynski’s Cable series is exactly what it needed to be.  Coming out of Messiah Complex, the latest volume of Cable followed the title character and his efforts to protect the first mutant born since the M-day event during House of M.  It involves one of my favorite characters, time travel, dystopian futures, and chase scenes with interesting takes on all of them.

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My Unexpected Love Affair with House, MD

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House first got my attention with Olivia Wilde.  During the first episode I watched, Ms. Wilde, or 13, was having some lesbian hotness with some brunette with short hair.   I did not know anything about the show before watching this episode other than what can be gleaned from commercials: there was an illness every week and it would be solved within the hour-long time span.  That was all I needed to stay away.  Too many of these shows suck, but this episode with 13 going nuts was a great introduction to what I had been missing.

I’ve watched maybe twenty episodes of the series since my introduction to 13.  None have been first run since when you watch House doesn’t matter.  All have been part of some marathon on USA, which they tend to do a lot.  There are few shows better suited for a marathon than House.  You do not have to think too much.  You aren’t guessing along with the doctors.  It requires nothing.  I usually hate shows like this, but then there is Hugh Laurie.

House has one truly great performance and a whole bunch of characters that do not matter.  It is like Dexter in that the entire show is held together by the one actor.  If any of you knew Hugh Laurie prior to House it must be from his tour de force performance in Flight of the Phoenix.  Dr. House is brash and insensitive, yet you can’t help but love him.   The rest of the characters and actors are disposable.  All of them are beautiful with the same personality.  The first couple seasons had a blonde Australian and a beautiful blonde girl named Cameron.  They were replaced by a bunch of other beautiful people that have the same role:  throw out diagnostic terms at House during meetings.  13, one of the replacements for the other useless people, is only watchable due to her hotness.  She adds nothing to the show.  None of them do.

I am not breaking new ground here.  The whole purpose of this little entry is to say, “I get it.”  Maybe someday I will stumble across Bones, Chuck, or Big Love under the right circumstances and it will click for me.  I doubt this will happen because it requires me to have nothing better to watch.  Since House is on a constant loop on USA the chances of me discovering an under-appreciated show are slim to none.


Everything’s coming up ptb!

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This has been a fantastic week if you like what I like!  So many great things have come together that I almost feel like it was planned.  Well, it was all planned, just not by me.  These are the things that made this week so nice:

X-Men Marvel Masterworks

The Marvel Masterworks line collects older comics in classy hardbound volumes.  The first 6 X-Men Masterworks volumes covered issues 1-66 of the book spanning 1963 to 1970.  Once those were published, I assumed the run would be over as at that point the X-Men were “cancelled” and the next 27 issues were reprints of previously published stories until the series was relaunched in 1975 with Giant-Size X-Men #1 and continued with issue 94 (collected in a separate set of Uncanny X-Men Masterworks).

Imagine my surprise when I learned that a 7th volume was being released last year reprinting X-Men appearances in other Marvel titles during the “cancelled” years (a period in which new stories of the X-Men were told in John Byrne’s X-Men: The Hidden Years series a few years ago, a title I loved but was cancelled prematurely by Marvel).  These are books I have been tracking down for years and I was thrilled at the prospect of a Masterworks edition collecting them.  The 8th and final volume was released this week and is currently in transit to my home.

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine

Tonight I get a rare treat in being able to see one of my musical heroes, Jello Biafra, perform with a full band at my all time favorite Philadelphia venue, The Trocadero.  Before this show was announced, I almost bought tickets to see them in Brooklyn since it was the only East Coast show listed.  It would have been nice to see them twice, but an out of town show on a Thursday is tough, so I’m glad I waited.  After seeing Jello perform with the Melvins a year or two ago, I’m really looking forward to seeing him again (almost as much as Angie is dreading it).  It should be a great night of music from the new album, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, Jello’s work with the No WTO Combo and other songs from throughout Jello’s career with the Dead Kennedys.

WrestleMania featuring Bret Hart

This is one thing I really hoped I’d eventually get to see, Bret “the Hitman” Hart returning to WWE.  I know it’s all fake, and it’s not the highest form of entertainment, but I’ve been a fan of Bret Hart since I was around 11.  As you may have noticed, despite getting older I tend to hang on to the things I loved in my youth.  There have been countless times where I thought things were aligning for Bret to return (and I’m sure Kevin and Brian will be quick to point out how often I was wrong), but now it’s happening and it’s great.  They even threw in a Monday Night Raw with Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin; it was like 1996 all over again! This Sunday, we’ll get one last WrestleMania appearance from the Hit Man, resolve the 13 year feud with Vince McMahon, and a legendary wrestler will get the send-off he deserves in one of the strongest WrestleMania line ups in years.

A week of deliciousness

Angie is the greatest.  For years now she’s been honing her culinary skills and has even gotten to the point where she’s so excited about the kitchen that she has to share it with the world.  This week she let me choose the menu and pick out some of my favorite meals in her extensive repertoire: pasta with chicken bolognese, enchiladas, and last night’s étouffé (my number one seed in Angie’s March Madness of Meals).  She was even willing to take a night off from cooking to get Chabaa Thai take out on Wednesday.  Above everything else this week, I am one lucky well-fed guy.


Book Reports from an English Major, Issue the First

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What started as a playful tete-a-tete on Twitter has become the next obvious choice for my posts here: Book Reports from an English Major. Don’t worry, I won’t subject you to 1500 word analyses. Consider this culture, boiled down for cocktail parties, or whatever non-alcoholic equivalent strikes your fancy. I’ll hit you with a 2 for 1 special each issue. Let’s strike up the band.

The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon. Read during January 2010.

Often considered the earliest post-modernist author, Thomas Pynchon’s first novel length offering follows Oedipa Mas as she tries to unravel the mystery of the Tristero system, which is either an antiquated postal delivery system or a massive counter-cultural system linking all the marginalized dropouts from societies around the globe. What is revealed, piece by piece, is the collection of underground systems operating right under our noses here in America, outside the pale of the mainstream, daylight world. You know what else? None of it means anything. Or maybe it means everything. Either way, Oedipa won’t ever find out, and by the end of the book, neither will you. Funny, maddening and maybe a little paranoid. Recommended if you like conspiracy theories, drugs, and one-night stands related to the aforementioned. Not for the easily offended.

White Noise, Don DeLillo. Read late January/early February 2010.

If you like your post-modernism from an affable, ineffectual father who happens to head the Hitler studies program at College on the Hill in Blacksmith (KS? NE?) then DeLillo’s White Noise is up your alley. Jack Gladney is afraid of death. So is his wife. Their kids are smarter than they are. An emergency response unit works only on simulations, not REAL emergencies. An asylum burning and watching disasters on TV are entertainments in this book. You know that crappy band you like, Airborne Toxic Event? They got their name from the middle section of this book.

You know what? You can bypass this book altogether. Recommended if you have irrational fears about things you can’t control, like death. Not for people that want to spend their time reading something they like.


How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Birthday Gift from Marvel

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If you haven’t read Uncanny X-Men #522 or had it spoiled for you (the big story of this issue was leaked months ago) please don’t read on.  Unless of course you don’t care about such things.

In a wonderful act of kindness, Matt Fraction, writer of Marvel’s Uncanny X-Men, returned Kitty Pryde to planet Earth in the issue that shipped this week.  It was a nice way to commemorate my birthday, so I thank him.  Kitty had been trapped inside a giant bullet hurtling through space since the end of Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men (I am fully aware of how ridiculous this is, but it’s what I like).  After being lost in space for “however long it’s been” in comics’ time (nearly two years for readers), it’s nice to have her back in the book.

How did this happen? Magneto has returned, repowered by the High Evolutionary, and joined the X-Men’s community on Utopia.  Tiring of the justified mistrust directed toward him, he has used every ounce of his regained abilities to redirect the space bullet and rescue the X-Men’s missing teammate: doing himself great physical harm in the process.  The long-term impact of whose hand she was returned by should be fantastic to see.

Another interesting element of her return is that when she reached out to embrace her longtime love Piotr Rasputin (Colossus), she passed right through him, suggesting that the amount of time she spent phasing the bullet has left her in a perpetually phased state.  It’s likely that this means nothing can touch her, but it might have been a fun twist if she were only unable to touch Colossus, since it was indicated that the “strange” metal the space bullet was composed of is similar to Colossus’ organic steel body.

A great back up story by Fraction and artist Phil Jimenez was also included that addressed the issue of what effect a giant bullet flying through space has had on other planets in it’s path.  Kitty was able to use her mutant phasing power to allow it to harmlessly pass through the Earth, and managed to maintain that state through the duration of her voyage, but the reaction of an alien planet that couldn’t have known this made for a great story.

As much as I enjoyed this issue, I have to mention that the excitement just continues for me with the start of X-Men: Second Coming.  Marvel was kind enough to send another gift today in the form of a free preview available now at Comic Book Resources.