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

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The Week That Was 112222

First of all, happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the US/celebrating. May the day be what you want/need it to be! 

Secondly, what's this, then?

mea culpa, something new (that's a little old), and shameless plugs. 

A Mea Culpa

Longtime readers are well aware the frequency of my posting has been down lately. By "lately", I mean "most of this year". 

This is due to a variety of circumstances. One, I've been getting increasingly more freelance writing work (something you may not know if you're not on/following me on Twitter; more on that below). I am also trying (but often failing) at spending more time on getting a novel out the door. Both of which are generally good things (the closer I get to being able to write full time, the less I'll need the day job and the more time I'll have for, you know, writing), but both which also take their toll on both my time and mental bandwidth. 

Two, speaking of bandwidth, it turns out having two kids instead of just one doesn't just change the circumstances of parenting, it increases the time and energy involved. That has taken its toll as well. 

Three, speaking again of mental bandwidth, I've been struggling over the last year or so with some mental health issues involving anxiety and focus. Nothing too serious, and I'm actively taking steps to treat both, but they've taken their toll as well, particularly on my efficiency. I've always been someone who could multi-task with ease (even as a kid, my parents would tease me about reading a book and watching TV at the same time), but over the last year or so, that's become harder, and over the last six months, even just focusing on one thing at a time has become harder (just writing this paragraph, I've tabbed off it, done something else, and come back probably four times). Again, this is nothing drastic and I'm doing what I can to both treat and adjust to these changes, but they have also made it hard to get as much done as I used to. 

So where does that leave things? 

Not much different than where they've been, ultimately. I'd love to be able to say I'm going to come roaring back and post three to four reviews a week. But being realistic, that's not going to happen, at least not in the near future. 

But I'm not walking away from anything, either. I won't make any specific promises, other than to say, I'm not going anywhere, X-aminations reviews aren't going anywhere, I'm going to be reviewing X-Men comics til they end or kill me. Reviews will come when they come, regularly and as often as possible. Some weeks that might mean just one. Some weeks it might mean several. But they'll be there. 

Something New (That's a Little Old) 

Which brings us to this — The Week That Was. Once upon a time, this website existed very much in the model of the blogs that ruled the internet in the late 00s and early 10s, informative but irreverent, focused on specific pop culture items but with a touch of the personal. The internet moved on but I didn't (I'm stubborn like that), even as I modulated my approach a bit. 

Now, with Twitter on the verge of either collapsing entirely or becoming something untenable, things are changing again. Maybe there's a place to be had for that old-school style of blogging. Maybe the death of Google Reader means its gone for good. Either way, "The Week That Was" will be my attempt to bring a little bit of that old feel back to this site. 

But it will serve some other purposes as well. I mentioned above that I've been doing more freelance writing around the internet, but outside of Twitter, I haven't promoted that much. And now Twitter is in a state of flux. So once a week (or so), a "The Week That Was" will, amongst other things, feature links to some of the work I've done elsewhere, as well as talk about some of the things I'm consuming — reading, watching, listening to, eating, etc. 

Think of it as a mashup of old school blogging and my version of one of those Substack (or whatever) email newsletter.

The Week That Was will also be the place that I lay out the schedule for X-aminations reviews, a month (publication-wise) at a time, and bring back the old monthly Power Rankings, whenever reviews of a monthly batch of books leave a month behind. 

Shameless Plugs! 

Now, here's some of those aforementioned plugs to kick things off! 

On Patreon, I reviewed "One Man's Worth Part 2", the second episode of X-Men: The Animated Series' fourth season, which is a poor conclusion to the two-parter's strong start, as well as Classic X-Men #23, the final Claremont/Bolton pairing on the series, featuring the seduction of Phoenix by Mastermind on the X-Men's favorite Greek island

Over at ComicsXF, I've been reviewing Andor, teaming up with either Adam Reck or Armaan Babu. Reviews have been held up a bit in editorial, but we've written through the penultimate episode, and all three of us will be writing together on the finale. 

I'm also on the Immortal X-Men beat with Mark Turetsky, with our review of Immortal X-Men #8, a delightfully fun palate cleanser after the sturm-und-drang of AXE featuring Mystique and Destiny in full "Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler" mode. Stephanie Burt and I also wrapped up coverage of Chris Claremont's Gambit series, with a review of its disappointing fifth and final issue

I was able to write about House of the Dragon, the Game of Thrones spinoff, in a few different places, and more or less wrapped up my coverage of it (at least until season 2) via a piece for Popverse that looks at the ways the show is different from its predecessor.  

What Else? 

What I'm Watching
I'm looking forward to the conclusion of Andor this week, a series I started lukewarm on relative to the critical reception but came around to quickly once I got past its initial three episode arc (which felt like it could have been a two-episode arc). It's now become one of my favorite Star Wars things. Episode 10, in particular, is an absolute banger. 

I am also maybe very much looking forward to the start of the Willow streaming series; Willow was more or less the formative fantasy text of my childhood, and I'm hoping it'll be fun to revisit. 

What I'm Listening To
I went ahead and pulled the trigger on the Christmas music today. So it's all Christmas while I work, from now 'til the 25th of December. 

What I'm Playing
Aside from occasionally playing Lego Star Wars with my soon-to-be-eight-year-old, I'm not the gamer I used to be, but I recently tried out Marvel Snap to complement Mario Kart on my phone as a fun five minute distraction when I'm standing in line, waiting for a pot of water to boil, etc., and immediately got hooked. If you remember Marvel Overpower, it's basically that, but cooler looking and playable without need to find that one other guy at school who also knows how to play the game. 

What I'm Eating
It's Thanksgiving! 
My wife and I'll be cooking for my parents and brother, but nothing too elaborate in terms of the spread. But are you cooking this year? Ordering in? What's your specialty or favorite must have side dish? 

Let me know in the comments, and see you next time! 

9 comments:

  1. Nice to find another fan of Christmas music. It feels like we're increasingly rare, possibly being driven to extinction as modern culture pushes these tunes on us earlier and earlier every year (one of our XM pre-sets switched from big band music to Christmas tunes at literally 12:01am November 1. That's too early. I like a month of Christmas tunes.) Do you stick with traditional stuff, or have you ventured into the more offbeat/experimental?

    Glad to hear you're planning to spend more non-review time on this site. I've been following your twitter feed on the sidebar here, but since I don't have an account (and am sure as hell not signing up for one now) it's been frustrating to read interesting blurbs about trading cards and whatnot without a way to add my own semi-interesting blurbs to the conversation. Now that we're on the subject: I've long wondered if Jim Lee might have stuck around Marvel if they hadn't worked him to death in the two-plus years before he left for Image. He was drawing a ton of comics, sometimes bi-weekly, contributing posters and pinups everywhere, and he drew an entire trading card series. I love a lot of the cards in question, but that series is very clearly the work of someone on a deadline.

    Good luck with the anxiety/procrastination stuff. I've been down that road once or twice and it's a pain to deal with, but it's worth putting in the work to get your brain settled and back on track. I doubt anyone who visits this site is going to complain if you decided you need to take time off.

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  2. Consider me another fan of Christmas music; I started it just the other day. Though actually I guess I "eased into it" around a week or two back, when I worked "A Charlie Brown Christmas" into my regular rotation of Vince Guaraldi PEANUTS music, which I listen to off-and-on year round.

    (I know Bob's question was directed at Austin, but for me, I like the traditional stuff. Generally SiriusXM Holiday Traditions -- Bing Crosby and all those folks. Which is not that different my usual musical milieau of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, etc.)

    Anyway, I hear you on not having time for things. We have one kid, six years old, and from the moment he was born, my blogging suffered hard. Not that I'm complaining! But I went from being something like nine months ahead of schedule to barely stringing posts together a week in advance, to the point that I finally abandoned my James Bond newspaper strip project halfway through in order to get a head start on what was coming next. I also scaled back from three posts a week to two, to one.

    (Though I will say that I have managed to get back on track, sticking to the one post a week schedule. I read and wrote about the entirety of the Harras/Epting AVENGERS run earlier this year and just started the posts for it last week -- and I have the entire run scheduled to go up a week at a time, all the way through to this time next year!)

    What is it like writing about things you enjoy professionally? I hav no interest in being a professional writer of any sort -- it's not my thing and I don't think I'm good enough for it -- but I've always felt like being "forced" to write about something like STAR WARS would turn one's enjoyment of STAR WARS into feeling like work, which would eventually make that person resent the thing they used to like. At least, I'm pretty sure that's how it would go for me!

    Anyway, looking forward to these posts as they come up! Made me think of the old "Last Week in TV" writeups you used to do years ago.

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    2. I had one more random thought after I made the last comment... I used to look at people who wrote about TV or movies or whatever, and wonder, "How on Earth do find enough hours in the day or week to watch and write about all this stuff??" Because I'm always anywhere from one to several weeks behind on TV shows, and I almost never catch movies when they first release anymore.

      Then, years later, a light went off in my head and I realized, "Oh, right -- this is their job!" Professional critics, once they get to a certain point, watch TV and movies for a living. They don't have a 40+ hour workweek competing with their free time to consume these things!

      It was a serious facepalm moment that it took me so long to come to that epiphany.

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  3. I also enjoy Christmas music. In it's time. Before Thanksgiving is too soon. Otherwise, it just makes me feel better.

    For what it's worth, I appreciate you sticking with this. Even on a more sporadic schedule. Part of it is enjoyment of your coverage while another part is sheer curiosity for when you do eventually decided to stop. Based on your current output and the realities of life, I am guessing it will be at either end of Morrison's New X-Men run.

    I miss the days of being a "big" gamer, when I would knock out an RPG every two weeks. I've been playing Soul Hackers 2 since its release and I think I'm a couple of hours from the end now, so I'll probably finish it this weekend. I have 4 games after that and I haven't figured out what's going to take the next 3 months of my free time.

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  4. I just wanted to comment to say how much I appreciate your writing overall and your work on this site/project specifically. Your work here and beyond proved to be a bright spot for me while I was experiencing my own mental health challenges (particularly during the pandemic), and I’m very happy to hear that you’re tackling yours with success.

    Thank you for creating this bit of community and sharing your efforts with us.

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  5. Hi, Austin! I´m a reader from Spain, and a Claremont fan with body and soul. Altough I´ve never commented any of your posts, I think now is necessary, and the perfect moment, to send you a huge THANK YOU for all the amazing work you´ve given us.
    I discovered your blog like 5 or 6 years ago and since then it became one of my "must-read" sites on the net. What you´ve done until now is really miraculous, so, really, don´t worry about the future schedule.
    Update just when you can and only if you want. I can say I will be here for sure!
    Best wishes for all your other projects and thank you again.

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  6. The only Christmas album that matters is Crom Tech's X-Mas. True story!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4A8ava3Rwd4

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  7. I miss old-school blogging as well. My health and other diversions haven’t left me the focus, time, and energy necessary to stick with it the past several years but I’m always hopeful that will change. I definitely support the idea of regular catch-all posts.

    Christmas music is delightful at Christmastime but for me it’s not Christmastime yet. 8^) I won’t decorate until about Dec. 15th, although white lights go up earlier depending on when Chanukah falls; I don’t want to hear nonstop sounds of the season until maybe the 21st.

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