Three guys talking about comic books, sports, movies, TV shows and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lost 4x09: The Shape of Things to Come

Lost is back, baby (again), and with a bang! This episode was an action packed adventure, filled with gunfights, hostage situations, Morse code and Ben acting like an evil Indiana Jones. I have to wonder if this episode is one that gained/suffered the most from the shortened season; it seems like in a normal season, all the action contained therein would have been spread out over another episode or two.

Appropriately enough for an episode entitled “The Shape of Things to Come,” there was an awful lot of foreshadowing going on. We get new status quos for both camps of Losties: New Otherton is blown up/shot up/smoked up, with several extras killed, Ben’s daughter shot by one of Widmore’s Hired Goons, and the people we really care about on the run and split, with Locke and Ben being led to Jacob for guidance by Hurley and Sawyer, Claire and Aaron heading to rejoin Jack and co, while at the beach, Jack finally gets it spelled out for him that the freighter has no interest in conducting any rescues. We also see Jack “writing a prescription for himself” (foreshadowing his pill-popping actions in the flashforwards) because of a stomach bug, which appears to be foreshadowing a more serious illness that comes into play next week.

In this week’s flash forward, we see Ben recruit Sayid after the suspicious death of his wife, Nadia, foreshadowing Sayid’s eventual role as Ben’s suave muscle. There’s also a verbal confrontation between Ben and Widmore, which illustrates how in the wake of Alex’s death the conflict they’ve been waging over the island becomes much more personal, foreshadowing a potential tragic ending for everybody’s favorite time-and-space-crossed lovers, Desmond and Penelope.

On the whole, I think the events of this episode-subtle manipulation exploding into violent physical conflict-foreshadows where the show is going from this point on: there’s a war going on, and the Lostaways have managed to immerse themselves in it. Ben’s flash forward travels in and around the Mid East in this episode help strengthen that notion, and thematically connect the conflict in that region to the conflict on Lost: two sides, each assured of their own moral superiority and the rightness of their cause, fighting over the same piece of land.

Highlight:
Ben whipping a sawed-off shotgun out of the piano bench

Also, Sawyer’s protectiveness of both Claire and Hurley; I like him much more as the reluctant hero, afraid to get close and ruin his tough guy image than the “No, really, I’m evil” direction they tried in the listless second season.


Did You Notice?
The title of the episode comes from a book by HG Wells. I haven’t read it.

Two character name literary references this week: Nadia’s apparent murderer was named Ishamel, the quasi-narrator of Moby Dick, and Ben’s Moriarty alias is, of course, the name of Sherlock Holmes’s nemesis.

Assuming we trust Ben’s efforts to spare Alex, we received confirmation that Ben did indeed steal infant Alex from Rousseau to use as a pawn; now the question is to what end (incidentally, when Ben made his counter offer to Keamy, I totally expected Ben to have just seen an island-healed Rousseau sneaking up on Keamy, ready to rescue Alex).

We got a specific flash forward date when Ben was in Tunisia: October 24, 2005

I totally missed this, but someone pointed it out online. It’s too awesome not to mention: two of the nameless extras that were killed in the hail of commando bullets were wearing red shirts.

Locke, Sawyer and Hurley were playing Risk (another game, like backgammon, with some thematic connections to the show). Hurley claimed Australia was the key to the game, something many players agree with, and perhaps a nod to the fact that Oceanic 15 left from Sydney.

The producers have said every time we see Smokey, we’ll learn something new about it. What did we learn this week? It’s really big (bigger, I think, than we’ve ever seen it) or at least, can become quite large. It also seems that contrary to what we’ve been led to believe, Ben has some ability to at least communicate with it, and at most, control/command it.

Questions:
Why was Ben in Tunisia (other than to visit the locations where the Tattooine scenes of Star Wars were shot, of course)? After seeing Sayid on TV, he went to Iraq, but what led him to Tunisia in the first place? Also, his given name elicited a reaction from the desk clerk-why?

If Ben did indeed teleport to Tunisia in the beginning (as was implied), where (and we have to ask, when) was he teleporting from? He had a Dharma parka on: why would there be Dharma parkas-the island is fairly tropical. Parkas make me think of the Portuguese guys from the end of season two. Plus, a Dharma-collared polar bear ended up in the desert at some point too. Perhaps there is a wormhole on the island that takes you to Tunisia via the North Pole (hence the parka) or a wormhole that takes you to a location randomly selected from a select list of locations, so Ben needed the parka in case he ended up there?

What was the deal with the dead boat doctor? Obviously there’s some weird time thing going on (when “calling” the boat, they seem able to avoid the time delay, but maybe “telegraphing” the boat sends the signal through the distortion?), but what was the meaning of his death? Was it just to isolate Jack as truly the only doctor in the area for his illness next week?

Where did Ben go before Smokey showed up? The hidden room within a hidden room seemed more primal and religious, like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. Did Ben summon Smokey, or just alert him to the fact that infidels were defiling the island and that the sonic fence was down, so he could “kill, pussycat, kill?”

Who killed Nadia, and why? Was it Ishmael (ostensibly on Widmore’s orders) as Ben insinuated, or did Ben kill her in order to get Sayid on his side, as his assassin, the same way the commandos didn’t kill Sawyer, hoping instead to enrage him to the point that he’d willingly push Ben out the door?

The whole conversation between Ben and Widmore at the end was packed full of questions and hints. Amongst them:

  • What nightmares are leading Widmore to keep Scotch at his bedside? Does this seeming villain have some kind of conscience? And I couldn’t tell, but was that a bottle of the infamous MacCutcheon whiskey on his nightstand?
  • What rules did Widmore change? Dr. Bitz thinks it has something to do with Ben’s insistence that “innocents” (obviously, his definition of innocence is much different than ours) aren’t to be killed, and Widmore broke that rule by killing Alex.
  • Why can’t Ben kill Widmore? Is it against the rules of the game, or does the island have some protection over Widmore in the same way that Michael can’t kill himself?
  • Why does Widmore think he has a claim to the island? Is he a relation of the Hansos, who seem to have a much more direct claim on the island through several time periods and through, of course, the Dharma Initiative? Is that why Widmore hates Ben, because he led the purge of the Initiative?
  • Widmore’s dismissive use of the term “boy” suggested a master/servant, upper class/lower class divide between the two: do they share any history that informs such a relationship? Or is Widmore just generally and similarly dismissive and arrogant towards everyone he considers beneath him (like Desmond)?
  • Where is Penelope? Ben’s retort to Widmore suggests that she is as hidden to Ben as the island is to Widmore. Does she know she’s hidden? Is that why the boat won’t take her calls, because Widmore already has her “in hiding” and is trying to keep her “off the board” of this game he’s playing with Ben?

Monday, April 28, 2008

MLB Headlines Week 4

Once again, everyone's favorite leisure post is coming at ya, MLB Headlines Week 4!
Last week we had yet another tie. And as we know if there's a tie that automatically means I win!!! Bwa-ha-ha!
But seriously, how sad is it that boots~ got more votes than I did despite the fact that I wrote boots~'s headlines? Speaking of which, I played boots~ last week in fantasy baseball, and my log is below.

www.mlb.com Headline of the Week:
Cy it's so: NL West aces dueling in San Diego

Ah yes...the Cy pun. A particular favorite of www.mlb.com.

On to the headlines!

boots~:
April 27th, 2008 – Red Sox 0 Rays 3
Shields shines, Sox Shutout

April 27th, 2008 - Twins 0 Rangers 10
Twins Offense = Oxymoron

April 27th, 2008 - Diamondbacks 2 Padres 1
Webb Wows! Wins 6th

Dr. Bitz:
April 26th, 2008 - Rockies 3 Dodgers 11
Rockies caught in a landslide of runs in first inning

April 27th, 2008 - Athletics 4 Mariners 2
Bedard makes Oakland batters look like...uh...the physically disabled

April 27th, 2008 - Twins 0 Rangers 10
Padilla Texas Ranger handcuffs Twins batters in one-sided Chuck Norris-esque ass kicking

Teebore:
April 25th. 2008 - Twins 5 Rangers 6
Morneau-t enough; Texas tops Twins in ten despite grand slam

April 27th. 2008 - Diamondbacks 2 Padres 1
Peavey, Padres caught in Diamondback's Webb

April 27th, 2008 - Yankees 1 Indians 0
Wang whips it out, shuts out Indians

As always, voting occurs to the left of this page. But really, we already know who the winner is.

Now, onto the Sunday Fantasy Baseball Blog!!!

----------------------------------------------------

11:36 AM - Every night this week, if you listened really closely, you would've heard a giant scream followed by a pathetic whimper. That would be the sounds I was making as my fantasy baseball team got its ass kicked consistently on a daily basis. Despite this, I'm managing to win 3 categories...for now. Here's how it looks:

R HR RBI SB AVG W SV K ERA WHIP
Me: 33 3 33 7 .312 3 5 36 5.40 1.64
Him: 43 10 28 3 .306 4 7 49 2.29 1.25


43 runs is a sick number. To put it into perspective, the person with the second most runs this week, so far, is.....me at 33. (Technically I'm tied at 33 with one other team, but who's counting?)
I think I have an outside chance of taking over home runs with a big Sunday. *sarcasm*
Aside from last week, my team has pretty much refused to hit home runs all season long. And yes, that annoys me.
Speaking of home runs, my bad beat of the week so far was on Friday night. I noticed that Brandon Phillips was not in the line up. I replaced him with Rookie Phenom John Bowker. Bowker went 1 for 3 with no runs or RBIs. I considered that a push. However, in the bottom of the 9th inning of the Cincinnati game Brandon Phillips came in to pinch hit and, you guessed it, promptly hit a solo home run. To make matters worse, after that and the single that follow, San Francisco was prompted to bring in their closer, who, of course, my opponent boots~ owns. So not only did I miss out on a home run, the missed home run contributed to a save for my opponent. Awesome.
That's just one of the many reasons you are usually better off just keeping the minimum number of batters in a Head-to-Head league. Which is where I'm at now. But that's mostly because my pitching pissed all over itself this week. ERA and WHIP are completely gone so I dropped my excess batters to pick up some pitchers. I just picked the pitchers that had a start on Sunday with the best K per 9 ratio. I have 4 pitchers starting today compared to boots~'s one. I still predict I don't win a single pitching category. But we'll see.
On a side note, two of the pitchers pitching for me today are actually being traded. I traded Wang and Blanton for Dan Haren. (That's right, I traded a pitcher with the name of Wang, I'm kind of shocked myself.) So, hopefully those two pitchers have a great swan song for me and then proceed to suck for the rest of the year.
I was competitive with saves all week until boots~ had a disgusting 3 saves last night. LAME!
Coming into Saturday I gave up on batting average, but some good batting by my team and some less than stellar by boots~ means I'm winning the category currently. I'm still not optimistic though.
It seems the only sure thing for me is Steals. So I could likely end up the day losing 9 categories. But first we have to see what happens today.

12:17 - First batter of the day is A-Rod...and he gets a walk. Alrighty then.

12:29 - Second batter of the day is Travis Hafner...and he gets a walk. Alrighty then.

12:37 - Brian McCann had a hit for my opponent. Stupid Brian McMcann. Just one of many players in the draft I was considering but then went with someone else who ended up being worse, in this case Joe Mauer. Chase Utley just lined out against one of my scrub pitchers. HAH!!! Lunch Time.

1:16 PM - Heard on the radio that Mauer struck out with a man on base. Grrr...I remember the first year Mauer played for the Twins and when he struck out they'd say "That's something you won't see very often." Yeah, if you count every other day as 'not often'.

1:18 PM - 5 at bats so far, still looking for my first hit. Two Walks though. Yay...

1:20 PM - My pitchers have 5 strike outs already. Keep it up boys.

1:29 PM - My pitchers aren't doing half bad. Wang hasn't given up a run and has 5 strikeouts but the score is tied 0-0. Lannan has 2 strikeouts and his team has the lead at 2-0. Maholm has not given up a run and his team is up 2-0. I was considering picking up 'Twins requisite over-the-hill veteran free agent' Livan Hernandez for today but didn't. He just gave up a 3 run homer in the first inning so I'm feeling good about that. Although bad about the Twins losing.

1:32 PM - Wang's Yankees are up 1-0 now. Wang...yank...it never gets old.

1:33 PM - My batters are now 0 for 9...with two walks.

1:37 PM - Maholm just gave up a run...stupid Maholm...but at least his team still has the lead.

1:39 PM - McClouth just hit a 2 run homer. Which is funny because not only does it help my pitcher but boots~ just dropped him a couple days ago. Bwa-ha-ha. I wish my players could hit home runs though...but I have to take whatever small victories I can get this week.

1:44 PM - 0 for 10...with two walks. Luckily, boots~ is currently 1 for 7, with I don't know how many walks.

1:57 PM - Miguel 'Spicy' Tejada just got a hit!!! One for Eleven...SCREW THE WALKS!!!

1:58 PM - Alex *Expletive Deleted* Rodriguez just struck out swinging with one out and a man on third......I should go put away the dishes or the Mrs. will yell at me. Oh yeah, and the Twins suck.

2:10 PM - OK, I'm back. Got to see Mauer pop up with two men on base, you know how I feel about that. Let's do a full status summary. 1 for 14....1 for freaking 14. No runs, no RBIs, nothing. God my team sucks. boots~ is 2 for 10 but still has 5 batters yet to play. I have 2 batters yet to play. Let's look at the pitchers. 11 Strike outs, that's good. Yankees up by 1 in the 7th, Nationals up by 2 in the 6th inning, and Pittsburgh up by 4 in the 7th inning. My last pitcher (Blanton) has yet to start. Same for boots~'s Brandong Webb. That's going to be ugly for me. Oh, and call Livan Hernandez this year's Sydney Ponson.

2:17 PM - Pence walked. Yay walks. I'm rolling my eyes at the moment.

2:23 PM - Crawford flied out, Nady struck out swinging. It's a good thing I don't own a gun because it's possible I would've driven a bullet through my brain to end this misery. I should go shower.

3:08 PM - Alright, I'm squeaky clean. I heard Joe Mauer get a hit on the radio. But let's get a full tally. 3 hits total! Crawford got one too...with an RBI! I nearly swallowed my tongue! Let's check the pitching. boots~ got a save to seal that category. But Wang and Maholm got a win! I'm in the lead with wins. And I've tied strikeouts. It looks like its going to be show down later this afternoon between Blanton and Webb for who can get the most strike outs. I like my odds...you know it's too bad sarcasm doesn't come through the written word very well.

3:13 PM - Brandon Phillips is batting, bases loaded, no outs, and Barry 'Worst Contract in Sports History' Zito is pitching. The excitement in the air is palpable.

3:17 PM - Hey, hey! An RBI single for B. Phillips. Not sure how you can single with the bases loaded and only get one run, but beggars can't be choosers.

3:18 PM - John Lannan just got me a win. Unless there's some relief pitching shenanigans, I've got that category! That's 3 wins, 2 coming from the scrub pitchers I picked up on a whim. Note that this is positively unbelievable. I also have a diatribe on these scrub pitchers that I may get into later.

3:22 PM - Phillips came around to score a meaningless run for me. But it's the thought that counts.

3:42 PM - Well Blanton's off and running. He already gave up a run in the first inning. I'm glad I traded him. I just don't think I could feel comfortable with a player on my team with the last name Blanton. Blanton sounds like an onomatopoeia a comic book would use when a bucket of paint falls on someones head.

3:51 PM - Because of Yahoo!'s stupid stat tracking, I've resorted to MLB Gameday. I hear ESPN's fantasy baseball site is pretty good...and has free live scoring. Maybe I'll suggest it for next year. Blanton has 2 strikeouts and Webb has 1. Sot I'm leading in Strikeouts...but for how long?

4:15 PM - Webb's coming on strong with 2 strikeouts. boots~'s taken over the category.

4:26 PM - Big strikeout for Blanton. The category's tied.

4:37 PM - Webb gets a strikeout. Back-and-forth we go.

4:53 PM - Just noticed Webb got another strikeout. It's slipping away from me.

5:o2 PM - A Brandon Phillips homerun!!! I'm actually more excited about the hit part of that than the RBI, Run, or Home Run part!

5:35 PM - Another Brandon Phillips homerun!!! I only need the hits man, save the home runs for next week. But again, it's the thought that counts.

5:45 PM - Bwa-ha-ha...another pitching performance, another win. Blanton picks up a W. That's 4 wins total. I almost feel guilty that my pitchers performed that well...almost.

6:24 PM - Well, the early games are over. One game left and since I have no pitchers going (he'll win strikeouts by at least 2) so it looks like the only category in doubt is batting average. I'm up by .13 points (.299 to .286) thanks to a surprisingly putrid hitting performance by boots~ (2 for 21). Because of this, I think I'm going to put the Mummified Remains of Gary Sheffield on my bench and hope Curtis Granderson doesn't have a grand performance. Like going 4 for 4 or something.

7:20 PM - Granderson struck out looking. So far, so good.

8:00 PM - Granderson walked...I can live with that.
8:10 PM - Interesting note, G. Anderson looks suspiciously like Granderson...think about it.

10:13 PM - The late game is over and in a way I was right to bench the Mummified Remains of Gary Sheffield. He went 0 for 4. But Granderson went 0 for 3 so even if I did start the Mummified Remains of Gary Sheffield I would've won the category. Thanks to a stellar pitching performance and since my hitting performance was just good enough to beat a terrible boots~ Sunday hitting performance, the final tally looks like this:

R HR RBI SB AVG W SV K ERA WHIP
Me: 36 5 37 7 .299 7 5 53 3.81 1.41
Him: 44 10 28 3 .283 5 8 55 2.01 1.27


Yes, I lost 6 categories to 4, but for some reason it feels like a victory.

The moral of the story is that you can't chase wins. I know that sounds silly from the guy who picked up two scrub pitchers on Sunday and got two wins from them, but believe me, if I were to choose two teams that were likely to win, Pittsburgh over Philadelphia and Washington over Chicago would not be the ones I'd pick.
But if you pay attention to why I streamed pitchers this Sunday it was not just for wins, but also for strikeouts.
Since wins is a nebulous and even fraudulent stat, I decided that it shouldn't even factor into which pitchers I chose for Sunday. You can't chase Wins, but you can chase strikeouts. So that's what I did. I looked for the pitchers with the best strikeouts per 9 inning ratio and went with them. I hoped they'd win me the strikeout category and I left wins up to fate. Oddly enough, I won wins but lost strikeouts. In fact, if I took this philosophy truly to heart, I would've won strikeouts AND wins. You see, if I truly picked the pitchers with the best k per 9 ratio, I would've picked up John Lannan (which I did) and Ted Lilly. But since those two played each other that meant they couldn't both get a win. So I picked up Paul Maholm instead of Lilly. Maholm did get me a win, but I won by two wins, that extra win and a quarter gets me nothing in today's economy. If I went with Lilly instead of Maholm and, in doing so, totally ignored the Win category I would've lost a win but still won the category by one win. Lilly, however, had 5 more strikeouts than Maholm. That means I would've won strikeouts also. So, even slightly chasing wins like I did cost me a category. Live and learn.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I'm one of you!



It has come to my attention I haven’t been as leisurely as expected when joining this blog. In my defense, the title above says “Two” guys waxing philosophical on comic books, sports, movies, and the numerous other activities that make us gentlemen of leisure. I’m the third and therefore consider myself somewhat of a guest star brought in to shake things up. I am a certified geek though. So to show I am just like the other writers and readers, here are my top ten comic book characters.

10 - Deadpool - Wade Wilson - The Merc with a Mouth. Deadpool’s personality and attributes are an amalgam of some of comics’ best characters. He’s got the witty banter of Spider-man without all that wasteful morality (which Spider-man himself doesn’t seem to have anymore seeing he made a pact with Mephisto, Marvel’s “SATAN”. The main reason Peter Parker is not on my list.) He has the fighting ability of Batman, an origin and healing factor similar to Wolverine, the face of Dr. Doom & Snake Eyes. While written by Joe Kelly, he displayed a proficiency in pop culture references, “comic awareness”, and laugh out loud humor mixed with moments of complete prick-ness. Deadpool wasn’t a cliché or a stereotype. He was a well-rounded character you could easily either love or loathe.




9 - Master Darque – Before constant cover gimmicks, and Aerosmith appearances, Valiant Comics re-imaged and created some unique and realistic characters such as this master of Necromancy and Voodoo. Master Darque had all the traits of an epically evil villain and one of the greatest visual designs of any comic character. Unfortunately, hack writers and bad plots quickly turned the master of the dark arts into a joke. Before that, Master Darque made a hippy’s head explode with the dark power of Charlie Parker music. That’s frickin’ evil brilliance!







8 - 8-Ball – Here’s a guy who is a perfect example why I love comics. It’s a medium where a character can be created with a pool ball as a helmet and the reader won’t think twice about him going on a crime spree with a super engineered cue stick while traveling in a hovercraft shaped liked a pool rack. 8-Ball didn’t make many comic appearances, but he made a lasting imprint on my psyche.



7 - Forbush Man – Between the ages of birth and dating, I spent all my money and most of my time reading comics. “What The--?!” introduced me to the art of parody. Great characters spoof such as Spider-Ham and Moanin’ the Bavarian showed me comics could make me laugh just as much as television did. With Forbush Man, I connected on a deeper level than the character was probably intended. He was a kid just like me, running around with a kitchen pot on his head, pajamas, and a sheet tied as a cape, having fantastical adventures. These were the kind of things I used to do when I was six, living in an imaginary world in my head where the possibilities were endless yet I rarely left my living room or back yard. Forbush Man channeled the essence of Bugs Bunny but did look nearly as good in a dress.








6 - Cerebus – He’s an aardvark who went from adventuring barbarian to politician to pope to recluse to Dave Sim’s character he sometimes drew between rants on Oscar Wilde and whatever-the-frick Dave Sim believes (after Church and State II, the series took a huge nosedive, in my opinion). He drank, womanized, kicked ass, drank some more, got manipulated by everyone, and ended up dying alone after 300 issues. I really thought Dave Sim was going to kill himself after the series ended but that ‘s beside the point.



5 – Death – Everyone envisioned the angel of death as a skeletal reaper with few words and much foreboding. Then Neil Gaiman created “The Sandman’s” older sister as the girl everyone would love to meet. She’s perky and fun loving and always seems to be the most sensible “personification” in any situation. She quickly became a Goth mascot and gave me an idea of what GOD may be like.






4 – Snake Eyes – He’s a ninja who would whoop Batman’s ass! He had a timber wolf for a pet and a collection of spiked knuckled trench knifes. The first comic I ever bought was G.I.JOE number 97. Snake Eyes was the coolest character in the comic or the cartoon. While growing up I wanted to be either the Dread Pirate Roberts or Snake Eyes.



3 - Dr. Doom – the ultimate villain because he genuinely believes he is doing the right thing at all times, even while obsessing over the dastardly Richards! Bah!





2 - Gambit – Puberty hit me quite early and Gambit had a way with the ladies I envisioned I could emulate. Unfortunately, I didn’t have his abilities or cliché Cajun charm. My first encounter with Remy was Uncanny X-men 273 where he kicked Wolverine’s ass in a danger room session. I would ride my bike around my neighborhood imagining it was a motorcycle and I was on my way to pick up Rogue for a date. I was 12 and a dork, still am.

1 – Madrox – Multiple Man. Multiple Man. Doing the things a multiple can. Peter David tapped the full potential of Jamie Madrox and his ability to make duplicates of himself, a personal cloning factory. The multiple personalities and various “experiences” one could have with one self were explored throughout X-Factor and his mini-series. If David is writing a story with Madrox in it, I will be reading it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Teebore's Ten Favorite Marvel Characters

10. Galactus: Galactus isn’t so much a character as he is a concept, but what a concept: a leftover from the universe that existed before our current one, Galactus is tasked with keeping the forces of entropy and creation in balance by eating planets. That’s right, he eats planets. Pretty cool, huh? Fun Galactus fact: he appears to each race differently, so when Earthlings see him he looks like a big dude with a funny helmet and a big G on his belt, but when Skrulls or some other race see him, he looks totally different.






9. Thor: Thor is the character that most directly connects my love of mythology with my love of comic books (not that the comic book Thor is anything close to his Norse mythology counterpart). Plus, Thor has some of the greatest comic book dialogue ever, with his Shakespearean “thous” and “forsooths”, that can either be hilarious or a portent of ass-kicking to come:






8. J. Jonah Jameson: Perhaps Spider-Man’s greatest villain (and I didn’t vote for Spider-Man despite my love of the character because I figured he had enough help. And he did, finishing quite high in the voting when all was said and done) and in best villain fashion, isn’t wholly evil. Deep down, whether paying scientists to create Spider-Man hunting robots or slamming his desk with his patented desk-pounding action, JJJ is a pretty righteous and fair-minded person (except where Spider-Man is concerned).




7. Captain America: Captain America is Marvel’s answer to Batman: the guy who will always, no matter how overmatched he may be, find a way to win. I also like his moral fortitude, a soldier who killed enough during war to vow never to kill again as a super hero.






6. Captain Marvel (Genis-Vell): Son of the original Captain Marvel, bonded to professional sidekick Rick Jones, driven insane by cosmic awareness, Genis made this list on the strength of his Peter David-penned title alone (a run I criminally forgot about when compiling my votes for the 100 Top Runs poll).






5. Kang the Conqueror: Kang represents one of my favorite sci-fi comic book tropes: time travel. Kang grew up in the 30th century, a boring, idyllic era of peace. Bored and yearning for conquest, Kang invented a time machine, traveled back to ancient Egypt, and ruled as Pharoah Rama-Tut (at which point he fought a time-traveling Fantastic Four). On his way back to the 30th Century, he encountered Dr. Doom. Believing himself to be a descendant of Doom (Kang is actually a distant descendant of the FF’s Mr. Fantastic) and inspired by Doom’s armor, when Kang’s time machine accidentally deposited him in the now barbaric, war torn 40th century, he crafted a suit of technological armor for himself and conquered that era. Bored once again, he traveled back to the 20th Century to battle super heroes, principally the Avengers. Eventually, Kang will become so bored with conquest that he returns to Egypt and rules as Rama-Tut again, this time benevolently (even helping the Avengers in battle against his past self) before becoming the caretaker of Limbo (a realm in which time has no meaning) as Immortus, a fate which is so abhorrent to Kang that he fights tooth and nail to prevent himself from becoming his future selves. And that’s the just tip of the awesome, headache-inducing iceberg that is Kang (don’t even ask about the time he used Ms. Marvel to give birth to himself).


4. Magneto: With Magneto, it’s not the ends with which you disagree; it’s the means of getting there. He wants the same thing the X-Men do (a safe world for mutants) he just believes mutant supremacy is the way to go about it. My favorite take on Magneto was Claremont’s portrayal of him from about Uncanny X-Men 150 to his death in X-Men (vol. 2) 3. It was then that he really developed away from the ranting megalomaniacal Silver Age villain and become someone willing to try the X-Men’s way before deciding he was right the first time, that his way of violence and supremacy was the only way, and you found yourself almost agreeing with him.



3. Cable: Cable personifies the greatest excesses of comics in the early 90s (the time I first started reading them): he was grim and mysterious, with a take-no-prisoners attitude, a cryptic past and untold connections to numerous characters. Reading those stories back then I always felt like something big was just around the corner, just one more mysterious clue away. And Cable, in many ways, represents that time (of course, I now realize that feeling was intentionally generated by the creators to keep me reading (and buying) as much as possible, and was often made up by the seat of their pants. But still, I remember the time fondly). So add to that nostalgia the fact that Cable’s a time traveler with a story so convoluted it puts Kang’s to shame and that the answer to all those mysteries was that Cable was Cyclops infant son who was sent to the future after being infected with a fatal (for that time) techno-organic virus, grew up in the future, then returned to the past to stop his future from occuring, and you’ve got a character who places pretty high on my list.


2. Dr. Doom: Doom is a textbook example of the perfect comic book villain: a benevolent dictator who just might make the world a better place if he was in charge, a genius who could greatly improve the quality of life if not for petty jealousies. He’s loud, bombastic and over the top yet still menacing and a genuine threat.




1. Cyclops: Everybody already knows all about my man crush on Cyclops…

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Teebore's Ten Favorite DC Characters

Before the Top 100 Comic Book Runs there was the Top 100 DC and Marvel Characters. Here are my votes for the DC characters (Marvel's to follow):

10. Beppo the Super Monkey: He’s a monkey with all of Superman’s powers. Why is he on this list? Read that again. He’s a monkey. With all of Superman’s power.





9. Gorilla Grodd: A super intelligent gorilla with fantastic mental powers and scientific acumen. Like Beppo, but evil, and able to be taken more seriously. A great villain. (And what is it with DC comics and super-powered primates? I could probably fill this list with the likes of Grodd and Beppo and Detective Chimp, not to mention JLApe…).






8. Flash (Wally West): To me, one of the best things DC has going for it over Marvel is the sense of legacy their characters have; some characters age (ever so slowly) or die (more often this is the case) so sidekicks/children/protégés/inspirationees take up the fallen mantle and continue the good fight. This is most prominent with the various Flashes, and Wally West was really the first sidekick to fully takeover for his fallen mentor, as after the death of the second Flash (Barry Allen, a legacy character in his own right) Wally gave up being Kid Flash to take over for his Uncle Barry. In turn, Wally then inspired his own sidekick Kid Flash (Bart Allen, the former Impulse) continuing the Flash legacy. Plus, there is something cool and iconic to the look and powers of the Flash, with the red suit highlighted by the yellow lightning bolts and a power that seems, on the surface, overly-simplistic: he just runs really, really fast. But somehow, he' still pretty cool.


7. Green Arrow (Oliver Queen): Originally a bland, poor man’s Batman, in the 70s Green Arrow grew a personality as a fiery liberal spewing leftist rhetoric and barbs as sharp as his arrowheads, determined to make the voice of the “little guy” heard in the (in his opinion) elitist Justice League, and often seen arguing with the more conservative Hawkman and wooing Black Canary. Since then, he’s become entrenched as a very appealing street-level character, fighting the good fight with little more than his cunning and skills (he was even mayor of his home city for a spell) and developing his own little legacy, with two different “Speedy” sidekicks and a son that took the name Green Arrow for awhile.

Also, something I criminally forgot to mention at first, Green Arrow's ward, the original Speedy, was famously a junkie. This is several kinds of awesome:

You kind of have to see it coming, though, don't you, when your sidekick is named "Speedy?"


6. Nightwing: The original Robin, Dick Grayson, Nightwing is another one of DCs legacy characters, one who decided to follow in his mentor’s footsteps, but with his own costumed identity (Nightwing, not a new Batman) and methods (he’s not as much of a dick).






5. Jimmy Olsen: Before reading the Showcase collection of old Jimmy Olsen stories, he may not have made this list (and certainly not as high) but even before experiencing those zany adventures, there was something appealing about Jimmy. He’s one of those characters with limitless potential ("news photographer/cub reporter with no powers, except that Superman is his best friend" is a great setup for a ton of stories) that has never really had that potential properly tapped. I like him for what he could be as much as what he is.




4. Superman: Superman appeals to me as much for what he represents thematically as for any specific story he’s appeared in. The kinds of stories you can tell with him are limitless. He is Moses-like (he escapes the destruction of his people in a small craft, raised by others as one of their own), Christ-like (sent by his father to Earth to save its people), God-like (determined to change the world through inspiration rather than through direct application of his incredible power) but he is also down-to-earth: he represents the American immigrant experience (a foreigner in a new land trying to make good), is raised in the “heartland”, more human than most, taught to uphold traditional values (“truth, justice, the American way”).


3. Darkseid: Darkseid just looks like a badass. He is my favorite character out of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, a literal attempt to use superheroes to create a new mythology, and arguable DCs biggest, baddest villain.






2. Lex Luthor: I prefer the post-Crisis “legitimate businessman who’s also an evil genius, and hates Superman because he doesn’t trust him and because Superman supplanted him as the most powerful person in Metropolis” Luthor to the Silver Age “mad scientist, I hate Superman because he made me bald” Luthor. And the addition that the TV show Smallville made to their relationship (that Lex and Clark were friends before becoming enemies) was genius, and has since been added to the comic’s history.

I’ve also always had a mystifying fondness Kryptonite “power suit” Luthor introduced in the mid 80s


1. Batman: Come on, everyone loves Batman. He can be all things to all people. He can be a grim vigilante. A goofy super-hero. A campy pop icon. A noir detective. A hairy-chested love god. A team player. A solo act. A brooding urban legend. My favorite version of Batman? The “with enough planning, I can beat anyone, and I always have a plan. Also, I’m kind of a dick but deep down inside I care” Batman from the mid 90s to the mid 00s.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

MLB Headlines Week 3

Alright, it's once again time for our MLB Headlines contest for Week 3. This happens to be a bit belated for reasons I'll get into later.

This week boots~ and I tied again. This time, 4 to 4. I didn't think that many people read this blog! Me thinks some people are voting more than once. But who knows?
As always, in case of a tie, I'm declared the winner. Undefeated baby!

At the end of this post is my Sunday Fantasy Baseball Log. Not as entertaining as it could have been considering I avoided my Sunday collapse and actually won the week. Prognosis on this week is negative.

www.mlb.com Headline of the Week:
Hall of a win for Brew Crew

Yes...Bill Hall is an outfielder for the Brewers...and had a good game.

Here's our headlines:

Dr. Bitz:
April 20th, 2008 – Yankees 7 Orioles 1
Baltimore shops in the 'Pettite' section for skirts because they hit like sissies

April 20th, 2008 - Brewers 3 Reds 4
Gone is the game once Gagne's in the game

April 20th, 2008 - Indians 1 Twins 2
Cleveland has reason to mourn. "No!" They scream as Justin hits the game winning single

Teebore:
April 20th, 2008 - Tigers 3 Blue Jays 5
Tough times for Tigers topped by Thomas-less Toronto

April 20th, 2008 - Brewers 3 Reds 4
Gagne gags as Reds down Brew-crew

April 19th, 2008 - Indians 0 Twins 3
Blackburned! Behind sterling starting pitching, Twins trounce Tribe

boots~:
April 19th. 2008 - Giants 3 St. Louis 0
Pujols...hehehehe...POOH HOLES!

April 20th. 2008 - Giants 8 St. Louis 2
Sanchez...dirty...pffffft...DIRTY SANCHEZ!!

April 20th, 2008 - Indians 1 Minnesota 2
Sizemore wants more size...in his PENIS!!!

One of the Gentlemen decided to be leisurely all weekend and not submit headlines. I won't name any names, but he's kicking my ass this week in Fantasy Baseball. That's why this post was late, I was waiting for his headlines. I ended up being his de facto headline writer.

Vote on the poll to you left.

Now onto my Sunday Fantasy Baseball Log. I know you're excited!

---------------------------------------------------------------

11:40 AM - Alright. My team is tied with my opponent 5 categories to 5. This despite the fact that my opponent has not taken Alfonso Soriano out of his lineup even though he's on the DL. Couple that with the fact that Manny Ramirez is not in his lineup for some inexplicable reason and I'm lucky to be even 5-5. Every day this week I've been grateful that he hasn't put Manny in his lineup.
Yesterday my team did about as expected. 2 runs and .200 batting average. That's about it. No home runs, RBIs, or stolen bases. My pitching staff picked it up though with a win and two saves.
Here's the stats going into Sunday:
R HR RBI SB AVG W SV K ERA WHIP
Me: 30 7 20 1 .290 4 4 33 4.50 1.63
Him: 32 4 21 3 .331 2 2 18 5.58 1.62


I should win Home Runs (HR), Wins (W), Saves (SV), and Strikeouts (K). He probably has average. The rest are up for grabs.
Let's see what happens.

12:00 PM - I noticed Gary Sheffield was not playing today. So I put in Hunter Pence in his stead. Also, no 'Fragile' Joe Mauer today. (Shocker.) But I have no catcher to replace him. My opponent's team is obviously without Soriano, but he also doesn't have Posada, Pedrioia, or Frank(enstein) Thomas either. So I'm going to have a lot more batters than him playing today. Let's see how that shakes out.

12:18 PM - Ankiel is out so I threw in San Francisco rookie phenom Bowker instead. We'll see how that plays out. But, overall, I have all batting positions filled accept catcher, which is acceptable for a Sunday.

12:41 PM - Got out of the shower and Brandon Phillips is 0 for 1. No surprise there. Rafael Furcal stole a base for my opponent pretty much sealing that category for him. Again, no surprise. But at least A-Rod is coming up to bat soon with presumably a man on base. Time for a big home run.

12:46 PM - Stupid *expletive deleted*, *expletive deleted**expletive deleted*, *expletive deleted*, *expletive deleted*, *expletive deleted*, *expletive deleted* A-Rod striking out swinging. I gotta go get lunch.

1:33 PM - Got back from picking up lunch and noticed I'm up 6-3 now thanks to a run and an RBI by A-Rod. He's a beautiful, beautiful man.

1:51 PM - Hey, Andy Pettite's pitching a perfect game through 5 and 1/3 innings. But I probably just jinxed it.

1:53 PM - Single to third. I jinxed it.

1:54 PM - Hafner strikes out swinging. You know, all I've heard about is how Travis Hafner eats the Twins alive. So far, in these three games, he missed one game and hasn't had a hit in the next two as of this time. Twins Orginization, I expect a thank you letter in the mail.

2:01 PM - Huge 2 run home run from rookie phenom John Bowker. Thank God Ankiel wasn't playing today. I'm up 7-3!!! Ain't no stoppin' me now!

2:07 PM - Rodriguez grounded into fielder's choice, Abreu out at second. Ensberg ran for Rodriguez. It's a 2-0 game. I don't like the sound of that. Sound's like A-Rod injured himself beating out the throw to first...

2:37 PM - Miguel 'Spicy' Tejadas scored a run on a mild pitch. *rimshot*

2:39 PM - Game Note: NEW YORK THIRD BASEMAN ALEX RODRIGUEZ LEFT THE GAME IN THE TOP OF THE SIXTH DUE TO AN APPARENT HAMSTRING INJURY. *sigh* It starts...

2:54 PM - While watching the Twins on TV I thought of a stellar drinking game. Take a drink any time one of the announcers says that a Twins Player 'Just missed their pitch'. If you want to ramp things up, also take a drink if a Twin makes an out but they 'hit the ball right on the button' or the announcers say something to the effect of 'The Twins have been hitting the ball hard but have nothing to show for it!'

3:53 PM - Sherrill just gave up 2 runs to the Yankees. Yes, it's a shocker, a closer comes into a non-save situation and sucks. This may be a blessing in disguise, though, because it takes the Yankees out of a save situation and my opponent has Rivera. So that's good...provided Sherrill's sucktitude doesn't cost me a pitching category.

6:00 PM - OK, the dust has settled on the day games and it looks like, barring any unfathomable shenanigans from relief pitcher Brad Lidge tonight, I'm going to win 7-2. Have I mentioned how glad I am he didn't have Manny Ramirez in his lineup? Let's just say I would've lost at least 2 more categories.

11:02 PM - No Shennanigans. I win 7-2. I should do this log more often. I actual win for a change! Although I bet Teebore is pretty pissed right now. (He wasn't my opponent, but he tied 5-5)

Final Score:
R HR RBI SB AVG W SV K ERA WHIP
Me: 35 8 25 1 .286 5 4 40 4.37 1.56
Him: 35 4 22 5 .322 3 3 24 5.00 1.67


12:30 AM - Checking e-mail and amongst Teebore's MLB Headlines was this:
Cosmic Graffiti 5, Emotionally Involved w/Wooden Objects 5:
Chase (I'm not even a damned power hitter) Utley hits two *expletive deleted*ing home runs in the last game of the week to give boots~ the category over Teebore, thus tying the overall score.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Stupidity in Sports

So during my travels I came across this story:
http://www.smh.com.au/news/sport/yanks-curse-is-shirtlived/2008/04/15/1208025190271.html

Or, for the illiterate, you can click on the picture to the left. Of course, if you're illiterate, how are you reading this? Actually, you can't. So I can talk all the crap I want about your illiterate ass. Stupid illiterate, not being able to comprehend the meaning of letters being placed next to each other. How worthless are you?
Anyway, after reading this story I was amazed at the stupidity of everyone involved. Here are five reasons this story is stupid.

Why the hell would this guy do this in the first place?
So you're a construction worker working on a site for the Yankees, who you hate. Instead of being a rational person and just doing your job because, 'Hey, even if you're not a Yankees fan, it's just sports right?' you decide you have to do something against this team. So you waste like $100-$200 bucks on a jersey simply to bury it because you believe this will put some sort of curse on the Yankees? That sounds logical. A piece of fabric will cause a baseball team to not play well. Pure genius.

Why the hell would this guy tell anybody?
If you really believe this jersey will be a curse, here's a tip: Don't tell the New York Post about it. This is where you can tell this guy's true intentions. He didn't want to curse the Yankees. This guy just wanted his 15 minutes of fame. (Which I, of course, am helping to accomplish.)
Why else would this guy go around blabbing about this curse instead of just enjoying the Yankees struggles gleefully from his home? Telling everybody only alerts the Yankees to the curse and allows them the opportunity to lift it. (Of course the New York Yankees aren't stupid enough to waste money on superstition, right?)
Not only did this guy start telling anybody who'd listen about what he did but when people didn't believe him he provided pictures to prove his story. He was that desperate to let everyone know he put a curse on the Yankees. Tell me this guy isn't in it just for the attention.

Why the hell would the Yankee Organization dig this jersey back up?
You know how much it cost the Yankees to dig up this jersey? Over $50,000...to find a piece of fabric. There are human bodies entombed in the Hoover Dam and nobody seems to care. Yet, there's no way the Yankee Organization could sit idly by knowing a Red Sox jersey was in their stadium. (Aside from the, oh, hundreds of Red Sox jerseys on the Red Sox fans that attend all the Yankee/Red Sox games!)
What's funny is all this hubbub was over the intent and not the action. I mean, what if a Yankee fan put the jersey under the stadium so that 'the Red Sox would be crushed under the weight of the Yankees' or something. If this was a supposed curse against the Red Sox would the Yankees have spent all that money to dig it up? Which brings me to my next point.

Why the hell did they believe this curse worked?
Last I checked, David Ortiz was sucking more than Alanis Morisette right before getting stomach pumped. To me, it looked like the Yankee Stadium was cursing David Ortiz instead of the other way around. In fact, David Ortiz has been doing better since the jersey was found. Not that a piece of clothing really has anything to do with his performance to begin with. It's just a coincidence. And finally...

Why the hell did it take me so long to find a neutral account of this story?
So I heard about this story and decided to do this post. I went online and looked for an article about the story and, for a while, all I could find were opinion pieces. What's worse, a lot of the opinions were what I was going to say! That's simply not fair. I want my Internet articles fair and impartial. I should be the only one allowed to give opinion! Of course, in my case, it's never opinion, it's simply fact.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Teebore's Top Ten Comic Book Runs

Over at Comics Should Be Good, dread Overlord Brian Cronin is conducting a poll of top comic book runs, and counting them down, five at a time. Check it out. In the meantime, here's a rundown of for what I voted.

For my own purposes, I left out of consideration runs that I haven’t read in their entirety and runs in which only one creator worked on a title for its duration (so no Preacher or Fables or Top 10 or Powers or Noble Causes, all great runs for which I likely would have otherwise voted). The official rules allow for them, but to me, a “run” has to be one piece of a bigger puzzle-someone worked on these characters before my favored creative team, and someone worked on the characters after the creators left.

10. Chuck Dixon’s Nightwing (Nightwing 1-70): Dixon did a fantastic job of building up Nightwing’s storytelling engine with a specific purpose, new job, and new supporting cast members and villains. This was one of the first runs I read almost entirely in trades rather than single issues.










9. Englehart’s West Coast Avengers (West Coast Avengers 1-39): I knew Englehart, master of trippy cosmic adventures, would have a run on my list; the question was which one. This one made it, on the strength of the multi-part time travel story that had Hawkeye and company popping in and out of old Dr. Strange and Fantastic Four stories, in eras ranging from the Old West to Ancient Egypt.









8. Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker’s Gotham Central (Gotham Central 1-40): It’s a shame this book was canceled because there is no good reason for DC to not continuously publishing a “cops of Gotham” book. The stories are endless and this book was awesome.











7. Brian Michael Bendis’s Daredevil (Daredevil 16-81): Even though this run stands as the textbook example of “writing for the trade” (which I despise) I appreciated that Bendis didn’t use the end of each trade as a reset button; each arc picked up where the last one left off, and for awhile, it seemed like “anything goes” so you really had no idea what to expect.










6. Brian K. Vaughn’s Runaways (Runaways vol. 1 1-18, vol. 2 1-24): Easily the best new characters and concept from Marvel in the last decade, if not longer. I really hope the now-erratic schedule doesn’t kill the book.












5. Harras/Epting’s Avengers (Avengers 334-339, 343-351, 355-369, 372-375): Everyone likes to rag on the “leather jacket” Avengers, but this is when I started reading the book, and I love this run. A nice eclectic team (Sersi, Crystal, Black Knight) mixed with classic favorites (Captain America, Vision). And I really did like the way the leather jackets gave the team a uniformed look without abandoning their distinct costumes.









4. Stan Lee/Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man (Amazing Fantasy 15, Amazing Spider-Man 1-38, Annuals 1-2): The original is still the best.














3. Grant Morrison’s JLA (JLA 1-17, 22-26,28-31, 33-41): This is the run that got me reading the Justice League (forwards and backwards) ever since. Crazy Morrisonian ideas tempered with big time superhero action. And I know the Internet hates him, but I loved Morrison’s “I can beat anyone” Batman.










2. Roger Stern’s Avengers (Avengers 227-279, 281-288): This is my favorite era of the Avengers, filled with classic stuff: Hank Pym’s redemption, the introduction of the new Captain Marvel, Vision starting the West Coast Avengers and then taking over the world, the Masters of Evil invading the mansion, and that really cool Olympus story that followed. Great stuff from top to bottom.









1. Claremont/Romita Jr.’s Uncanny X-Men (Uncanny X-Men 175 (partial), 176-185, 187-197, 199-200, 202-203, 206-211): The X-Men were my gateway characters to the world of comics and remain a favorite, as does Romita Jr. So favorite characters+favorite artist=#1 run. This run also showcased the perfect combination of done-in-ones with overarching subplots and story arcs, before Claremont became a parody of himself and the industry became obsessed with writing for the trade. I figure with all the (justified) love for the Claremont/Byrne and Morrison runs, this Claremont/Romita Jr. gem of a run would get completely overlooked. It ended up placing at 90. I was happy.