Monday, May 23, 2016

Happy Birthday

So let's flashback about 10 years ago or so....

Cathy and I are in Iqaluit without a pet. This is an unusual set of circumstance as neither one of us had gone long without one. But my cat, Max, passed away the previous August and we were getting anxious. We wanted something. Cathy's allergic to both cats and dogs, but some dogs affected her less than others. For example, beagles are very, very bad. She adapted to Max, but it took some doing.

So, a dog. Adding to the mix was the apartment we were living in didn't allow dogs. This was among it's many flaws, including being right above the Storehouse bar, having a neighbour who thought it was acceptable to blast the Top Gun soundtrack at 8 am on a Saturday and another neighbour who must have been president of the local Marijuana Party(or at least too stupid to actually take measure to cover the smell a bit).

So we were going to get another apartment. And we wanted a dog to go with that apartment (the timing of those two things were a bit dicier than we had planned, but it worked out).

Via the recommendation of a friend we started looking at Coton de Tulears, which is a snooty sounding name, but they were exactly the kind of dog breed we were looking for. Small, because we were living in an apartment, they don't shed and are good for people with allergies, and very sociable and playful.

So we reached out to a breeder in Ottawa. They were called Pick of the Litter back then, but I see they're called Riverport Kennels now. And after getting grilled a bit on if we would make good dog owners (which I totally respect, by the way) we agreed to get a puppy.

And 10 years ago this weekend, May 21 to be exact, we got this picture.

And then a couple of months later, we flew Boo up to Iqaluit (but not until Cathy got a two hour seminar on proper Coton de Tulear care, special water and his blanket to help ease with the transition).

It's hard to state how important he's been in our lives. Cathy's joked many times that she needs something to pick on and it was either me or the dog. I have, on more than one occasion, when I recognize one of "those" moods, picked up the dog and given him to her. At this point Boo normally shoots me a look that say "thanks pal". But hey, it's him or me.

He is, simply a good dog. He keeps us company. He makes us laugh. He cuddles in when we need it. He ably defends his house from the twin threats of the Water Truck and the Sewage Truck on a daily basis by barking until they flee.

If there is anything wrong with him it's that he doesn't interact with other dogs well, and that's entirely our fault. His first apartment was in downtown in Iqaluit. And while we might have kept him on a leash there were a lot of strays around, some of them quite aggressive. You spend enough time pulling him away from strange dogs and, well, he learned a lesson we might have preferred he didn't.

And at 10....well, he's slowing down a touch. He doesn't like longer walks and he's perfectly willing to cuddle more these days. But slowing down doesn't mean old. He still insists on playing several times a day and still has manic bursts of energy where he runs up and down the hallway barking for several minutes.

And on days where maybe work sucked or things are just blah, he's always there. He's a pure bred Coton de Tulear and they're not cheap. But I don't think you can put a price on a good companion who keeps you happy and sane on days when that can't be a challenge.

So Happy Birthday, Boo. Here's to many more...

Last Five
1. The scarlet tide - Allison Krauss*
2. Where did you sleep last night? - Nirvana
3. She opens her eyes - Keane
4. All to all - Broken Social Scene
5. Consistency of Sound - Ian Foster Band

Monday, May 16, 2016

Tumblr Restart

I got an email from Tumblr the other day congratulating me on the 4th anniversary of my tumblr. Which is mildly amusing as I’ve done nothing much with it. When I started it I had vague plans of doing something geeky with it, and maybe do something Iqaluit-related. Photos around town, that sort of thing.
Instead, I spend most of my time just stalking comic art tumblrs. Which is fine and all, it just seems like it is a bit of a waste of space.
So with the 4th anniversary notice, I had a few ideas. First, I might as well scrap the idea of putting up Iqaluit photos on tumblr. I simply don’t take many pictures around town. I thought my iPhone might change that, but nope, not so much.
Secondly, on the blog I can see the noticeable hit in traffic stats anytime I talk about anything geeky. People tune into my blog to read about Northern life, our latest news, or politics, not so much with the geekery. 
And third, when I was recently doing an inventory of the geek stuff I have in my den, I noticed that I’m actually building a decent comic art collection. It’s not massive by any means, but I now have several dozen pieces, between the ones hanging on my wall, in sketch books and in a portfolio I got for Christmas. And not very many people see it…or at least see it and can kind of appreciate it.
Lord knows the internet doesn’t need another comic book/geek tumblr, but what the hell. I have opinions, I have some nice art and I follow some pretty decent comic tumblrs. So that’s what that space is going to be from now on. My geekery. This space will cover the rest of my life and interests.
So expect pics of the art I own, probably one or two a week. That should get me pretty close to a year. I think I might also include stories that go with the art. In most cases there’s a con story, or my interactions with the artist that goes along with it. Or at least lessons to be learned about buying art on eBay.
Then reposts of art I like, and thoughts on geek TV, movies, etc. For example, the last episode of Castle just aired. I haven’t watched it yet, but I have a few thoughts on the show. Maybe tomorrow night, after I watch it.
This is assuming I can make this work, of course. Tumblr is graphics heavy, obviously, and Xplornet, my ISP, really doesn’t like, well, much of anything given the speeds I’ve been getting lately. But it really doesn’t like Tumblr. 
So let’s see how it goes…
Last Five
1. Factory – Band of Horses
2. Temporary girl – Mo Berg
3. Automatic - Weezer
4. Lights - Editors

5.  Dick-all – Colleen Power*

Friday, May 13, 2016

Comics for sale

This is more housekeeping than anything else. So if you don't live in Iqaluit, I suspect it's not going to be of much use to you. I'm going to link to this from Twitter (I'm @towniebastard if you're stumbling onto this from elsewhere) so local folks can look at the list. DM me if you're interested.

About once a year I take a look at my graphic novel shelf and figure out if there's some stuff that can go. I might have upgraded to a hardcover from a trade paperback. The book might have gotten good reviews, but it just didn't capture me for some reason. It's not that it's bad, just not what I'm looking for.

That means the books are better off in a new home rather than staying and occupying precious, and limited, shelf space.

So this is this year's purge. As a rule I don't ask much, just that they find new homes.

1, Manifest Destiny: Vol. 1 (Image) - Dinger/Roberts/Geini - In 1804 Lewis and Clark set out on an expedition to explore the uncharted American Frontier. This is the story of what they discovered lurking in the wilds. ($2)

2. God is Dead: Vol. 1 (Avatar) - Hickman/Costa/Amorim - The Gods have returned. They're kinda pissed. Adult content ($2)

3. Godzilla: Vol. 1 (IDW) - Swierczynski/Gane - A top notch team is assembled to take down monster-sized threats. But can you take down Godzilla? ($2)

4. Deadly Class: Vol. 1 (Image) - Remender/Craig/Loughridge - It's 1987 and a homeless kid is invited to join a special develop the next generation of assassins. ($2)

5. Hellblazer: Setting Sun (Vertigo) - Ellis/Various - It's John Constantine. Bastardness will ensue. ($2)

6. X-Men: Primer (Marvel) - Wood/Copiel/Lopez - The female members of the X-Men band together to fight an ancient evil ($2)

7. Wolverine (Marvel) - Claremont/Miller/Smith - The classic story with Wolverine in Japan fighting ninja, plus the follow-up stories in the regular X-Men series. ($3)

8. Deadpool Classic: Vol. 9 (Marvel) - Simone/Udon Studios - It's Deadpool. Stuff gets blown up, shot and general chaos ensues. ($3)

9. Northerlanders: Vol. 1 and 2 (Vertigo) - Wood/Kelly/Gianfelice - Vikings. Lots of vikings. ($2 each)

10. Umbral: Vol. 1 (Image) - Johnston/Mitten - Dark fantasy/adventure series. ($2)

11. Uncanny: Vol. 1 (Dynamite) - Diggle/Campbell - What if you could steal someones memories and abilities for a limited time? What if you were a complete screw-up? ($2)

12. Spider-Men (Marvel) - Bendis/Pichelli - Peter Parker (Amazing Spider-Man meets Miles Morales (Ultimate Spider-Man). Lots of fun. ($3)

13. Birds of Prey: Vol. 7 (DC) - Simone/Scott - Great series, tons of fun. Accidentally bought two copies. ($2)

14. Indestructible Hulk: Vol 1 and 2 (HC) (DC) - Waid/Yu/Simonson - The Hulk goes and works for SHIELD. Plus, Simonsons draws Thor and Hulk, so that's cool. ($7 for both)

15. Chew: Vol. 1-6 (Image) - Layman/Guillory - Tony CHu is a Cibopathic, which means he gets psychic impression from whatever he eats. It also makes him a hell of a detective, albeit one who has to eat strange things to solve crimes. Funny and weird. Sold as a set. ($12)

16. Agents of Atlas (Marvel HC) - Forgotten heroes of the 50s reunite under SHEILD to fight a menace only they can stop. New work plus reprints of classic comics...$5

17. I have the complete run of Matt Fraction's Iron Man. I'm debating it. If you're interested, let me know. 12 books, mostly hardcover. Sold only as a set.

18. I also have nine volumes of Atomic Robo that I'm thinking of parting with. Again, if interested, let me know. Sold only as a set.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mother's Day/Geek Day

So, a threefer here with this blog post...but with a theme!

1. Mother's Day is almost over, so here's a quick little thing about my mom....

I'm pretty sure she never really got my fascination about all things sci-fi/geek/comic book related. On the other hand, she never discouraged it either, beyond her despair over the state of my bedroom when I was a kid.

I mention this because when I was in my 20s mothers were the source of more cursing among geek acquaintances of mine. This was a period of high popularity for comic books, but not for good reasons. A lot of the books were crap, but there was a lot of speculation going on. Comics are hot now because of what TV or movie property can be generated from them. Back then, they were like stocks and bonds. People bought huge numbers of the Death of Superman or X-Men #1 because they thought they were going to be worth a fortune.

They weren't of course. Hard to have a value when there's 7 million copies being printed. But older comics also shot up in value. And I routinely heard from people who despaired because they had Fantastic Four #1 or Action Comics #1 (no, they didn't. They had a reprint) but their moms tossed them in the garbage.

Moms. Scourge of collectors everywhere.

Mom never did that (to my knowledge). Now, none of the comics I collected in my youth were worth anything. Let's not get crazy here. But she never tossed them and she never gave me a hard time about spending money on them, even when I often didn't have enough. She knew it was something I loved.

So thanks, mom. One more thing to add to the awesome list.

2, So yesterday was Free Comic Book Day. I haven't had the chance to celebrate that in more than a decade. Even before we moved it Iqaluit I kind of gave the day a pass. Comic book stores tend to get flooded with parents and kids looking for free comics. Since I was routinely at my local store once or twice a week anyway, I just stayed out of the way.

But I kinda missed it the last few years. The event has really taken off and my Twitter feed was filled yesterday with creators doing events at stores - free signings or sketches. It's become a very cool little event.

But Iqaluit had its first Free Comic Book Day event yesterday. For the last five years Iqaluit has a toy store - Stuff 2 Do - operating in town. I remember the first time I went was in a little cubbyhole near Baffin Gas.  We bought a few things and I remember thinking it would never last. Not because I doubted the owners ability....he's a nice enough guy and very ernest. I just figured there wasn't enough local support for it. Or that people would buy things through Amazon instead. Or that NorthMart would undercut it somehow.

But no. He moved into a bigger location. And then he expanded in that location. And earlier this year he started selling comic books. I feel bad about not buying comics there, actually, but The Deal is still in place with Cathy and I (I do not buy single issues, only paperbacks and hardcover graphic novels). So this year he decided to do FCBD event.

And he did a great job. He actually sent a bunch of free comics around to local schools the day before. He had some cosplayers in the store; you could get your picture taken with them with funds going to a local group. There was another guy there with a robotic K-9 from Dr. Who he built (he's seriously good. He also built an R2D2 that's pretty awesome and he told me he's currently working on a WALL-E. Which is awesome. I can't wait to it as WALL-E is one of my favourite movies.

So it was a great event. We showed up, grabbed a couple of comics (I have a rule about only taking one, but he insisted on me taking more as he had lots) and we dropped a few dollars at the store. Because of the rules of FCBD is that if you take a comic, you should buy something at the store. The comics are free for customers, but the store has to buy them and ship them. So it's not cheap for them. Buy something.

It was a good day. I hope his store had a good day too. And I look forward to seeing what happens next year.

3. So, Captain America: Civil War. That movie was almost unfair to DC/Warner. It's criminal that they released Batman vs. Superman, which would under ordinary circumstances just be a bad movie that people might have forgiven a bit in the course of time. No. Marvel/Disney release this movie, one of the best in the super hero genre, just to rub salt in the wound.

Somewhere there are studio executives plotting how they can slip some cyanide into Zach Snider's smoothie. Something to right the ship. Because Marvel just laid a smackdown of such biblical proportions that you gotta feel that DC/Warner has to do something.

The scary thing is that isn't even the best Marvel movie. I'd place it maybe 4th or 5th. I'll see it again, but that feels right. In case you're wondering
- Avengers
- Iron Man
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Captain America: Civil War

It's interesting, but I watched Winter Solider the night before we saw Civil War. And the thing I noticed on my latest viewing is that sucker moves. It's not all action scenes, but it's a tight movie. The movie really propels you forward. Even the quiet scenes have weight and momentum to them. I like that energy and heft to it. There isn't an ounce of fat on that movie.

Civil War doesn't meander so much, but there's less drive to it. But there is a clockwork precision to it. There's so many characters, but they all work in their own way. The problem is that it takes away some of the energy of it. There are lots of lovely scenes, like the Vision and Scarlet Witch, or Tony and Peter Parker...but they do take away some of the urgency in the movie.

Still, that's a hell of a movie. The big airport sequence gets all the attention, but the fight at the end packs quite a weight as well.

Also, let's give a tip of the hat for the smooth way they introduced both Black Panther and Spider-Man. Age of Ultron introduced new characters and set-up future movies in an....inelegant way. Which was practically poetry compared to Batman vs. Superman's utter clusterfuck way of introducing Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman.

But no, Black Panther is fantastic in this movie. Absolutely can't wait for his movie in 2018, which is stupid far away. It should be coming out next year. And as someone so thoroughly done with Spider-Man, he was great in this movie (although one scene where he talked about an old movie he saw had me whispering "cocksucker" under my breath, then laughing).

The only faults I have are nitpicks. Like this actually should be called Avengers: Civil War, but what are you going to do.

But yeah, get rid of Zach Snyder. Because if this is the kind of intelligence the Russo Brothers are going to bring to their Avengers: Infinity Wars movies, then Snyder's Justice League movies are well and truly doomed.

Last Five
1. What kind of man - Florence and the Machine*
2. Great DJ - The Ting Tings
3. Flying Dutchman - Tori Amos
4. The lowlands of Holland - Anita Best and Pamela Morgan
5. I've got your fire - Jenn Grant