Saturday, November 02, 2002  

Geo and Graphic

My Mom called this afternoon and mentioned that she was trying to get rid of some old World Book Encyclopedia updates. They aren't terribly useful, but she doesn't want them to end up in a landfill. She was hoping I knew of a school that might want stuff to cut up for projects or something. Between my hubby and I, we can find someone to take them, I think.

But she also mentioned some National Geographic books she had, and I told her right off to save any of the ones about Mysterious Maya, or Amazing Aztecs, or Incredible Inca. Those ones I want in my library.

I suffer from depression, and apparently have for most of my life. I denied it throughout college, when treatment was getting effective and acceptance was becoming more commonplace. Only recently have I begun to take "happy pills" as I call them, and only recently have I realized just how depressed I was, because I now know what it feels like to feel good, or even just ok, most of the time.

What does this have to do with National Geographic books? Well, as a kid suffering from moderate depression, I often hid in books. And from about the time I started to read in first grade, through about six grade, I was archeology mad. I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was going to be an archeologist! I was going to explore ancient ruins and interpret how people lived in the past. I was going to read ancient writings and explore the minds of cultures gone from the earth.

When I got depressed and I was at home, I'd simply pull down one of those great books from my Mom's huge shelves of books and just bury myself in other times. I avoided the ones about "common" places... it was the Maya, the Aztecs, and the Inca that kept me from myself.

Sometime around seventh grade I learned the reality of archeology wasn't what I thought it was. I also slowly and painfully learned that I don't travel well, and I can't seem to learn other languages. Put all together, a future in archeology seemed really unlikely. At some point, that dream faded away, although my interest never has.

So, if my Mom is willing to part with them, I really want those books.

Hey, I still have a subscription to National Geographic, but to be honest, I wouldn't mind if they only sent me ones that have information about new discoveries in archeology. October's issue was of interest because of information about tombs on the Nile, but November didn't have nearly as much to draw me in...

Iron Chef!

The title of yesterday's triumphant success note about the Chicken List is also a reference to Iron Chef, in case you didn't realize it. Tonight on Iron Chef I'm delighted to see a very familiar face as a guest commentator. I knew that Seattle Mariner's closer Kazu Sasaki had appeared on Iron Chef, tonight I finally get to see that episode!

posted by Tegan | 7:26 PM

Comment (1)

For those interested in watching Iron Chef, it's on the Food Network -- a much better channel than the name might suggest! -- and you can get more information from them at,6525,IC,00.html

And there is a very good fan site at, and a silly (but good) one at

Hubby | Homepage | 11.03.02 - 9:51 am

Friday, November 01, 2002  

The Chicken Battle is Ov-ah!

Yah! We seem to have managed to get Eric's list unsubscribed from the rare chicken breeders list! Huzzah!

I'll tell you, it's been at least a decade since I forged an e-mail address, though.

posted by Tegan | 8:15 PM

Comments (2)

And so far, as of the following morning, there are still no chickens roosting in my inboxes. (Hmm, sounds to me like the scene in the first Harry Potter movie where all the owls are roosting all over the Dursley's house...) I think it took! Dear, you will apologize to the chicken breeders' list for me, won't you?

Hubby | Email | Homepage | 11.02.02 - 8:44 am

Done. I wish them luck in the future.

Laura Gjovaag | Homepage | 11.02.02 - 11:50 am


Random Comic Book Stuff

A couple of years ago in San Diego, I went to the big comic book con with a very little sketchbook. Starting with Ramona Fradon and ending with Neal Adams, I got artists to fill 42 pages of the book, all the way to the end (I had 22 pages from other cons) with mostly sketches of Aquaman.

One of my favorite sketches in the book is a fantastic rendition of Aquaman in silhouette, seen from below, swimming with a shark. The sketch was done by Jeff Parker, whose name stayed in my mind because of the quality and originality of the sketch.

Well, the name recently came up in a thread on Seems he's doing a book called The Interman.

Because of the fantastic sketch, I felt obliged to at least read the 8-page preview on Parker's website. After reading the preview, I decided that I wanted to try the book. Luckily, my hubby agreed and we're going to add it to our November order.

Check out the preview by clicking the above link, and if you like it, order the book from your local retailer using the code NOV02 2666 ($19.99). After seeing the preview, I kind of wonder what Jeff could do with Aquaman (or better yet, Tempest)...

In other comic book news, there is a nice preview of the Aquaman origin from JLA: Secret Origins coming out on November 13th. I find it interesting that it's the Silver Age origin, but at the same time, I'm pleased. I like the Silver Age origin, despite also being a fan of the current version. This will be an interesting book... I really wonder what the captions on this art will say.

I think that Alex Ross' Aquaman tends to hold his chin too high, but the art is so interesting that I'll forgive that little nit.

Wow, I've got a wait ahead of me for new Aquaman stuff, actually. The next issue of JLA isn't due out for 19 days (but at least the preview Aquaman story by Rick Veitch will come out that same week), I've already seen next week's Aquaman preview, and now I've seen a small version of the artwork from the Secret Origins.

The week of November 20th is scheduled for a triple-whammy, at least. JLA #75, the final bit of Obsidian Age, is due out, and should feature plenty of Aqua-action. JLA/JSA Secret Files #1 is due out, with the preview story of the Aquaman series by Cerdian (as told to Rick Veitch). And the Classic Aquaman Statue is also due out that week.

Two meager weeks later, the animated version of Aquaman will be guesting in Justice League Adventures.

Then a week after that... Aquaman #1!

These are good times to be an Aquaman fan. There's been news also weekly for months, and there is so much stuff coming out it's hard to believe it all. With my website doing a decent job covering the current stuff and John Schwirian's Aquaman Chronicles filling the gaps I leave, the fan side is very busy too. What a great time to be a fan!

posted by Tegan | 5:59 PM

Comment (1)

I may just have to start wearing green and gold just to get my wife to pay attention to me...

Hubby | Homepage | 11.02.02 - 8:46 am


Nobody Here But Us Chickens

My husband runs two mailing lists from our ISP. One of them was recently subscribed to a rare poultry mailing list. Yeah, the LIST was subscribed to another list. See, the list address is very normal. It doesn't appear to be a list address if you just read it. So somebody, and we have no idea who, subscribed that normal-looking address to a mailing list with over 1000 subscribers.

The results have been messy. Because my husband's list is closed, only subscribers can post to it. So if a message comes in from someone who isn't a subscriber, the list software kicks back a note saying "you aren't subscribed to the list" and so on.

Well, on my husband's side, he suddenly started receiving 40 or so messages a day about chickens, and with every message he got a copy of the note saying "You aren't subscribed". So he tried to get off the Chicken List, but his mailing list address is a mailing list address: he can't send notes from it! So he can't automatically unsubscribe.

On the Chicken List side, every single note they sent is returned to their list by my husband's list with that same note, which they didn't read or couldn't understand, because they thought it was a virus or something.

So the Chicken lovers are angry at my husband and my husband is angry at the Chicken List owner for not removing the address when he asked.

So I finally got interested in the fray, and found the Chicken List on Yahoo Groups, subscribed to it, and sent a note to them explaining the situation. I then contacted Yahoo support and asked that my husband's list address be taken off the Chicken List. Then I did a little research, and discovered that the Chicken List has a parallel list that was created two years ago when the original list owner got very ill and couldn't take care of the list. So there is apparently NO list owner that can remove my husband's mailing list address from the list.

Which just goes to show that a Chicken List with its head cut off is a menace to the 'net.

posted by Tegan | 9:26 AM

Thursday, October 31, 2002  


Just got back from my in-laws house where my hubby and I set up shop to give out Halloween candy and comic books. We gave out *TONS* of comics. There were far more children at their house than we've ever gotten at our house.

While waiting for trick-or-treaters, I read Lone Wolf and Cub...

Lone Wolf and Cub vol 26: Almost to the end. This collection continues the set-up for the real final showdown (as opposed to the fake final showdown a couple of collections ago). Not a lot of Daigoro in this one, and he's my favorite character. In fact, there's far too much of Kaii, who is by far my least favorite character to show up in the entire series so far. 3 starfish.

Well, tomorrow I guess I have to take down the Halloween decorations at work... And so to bed.

posted by Tegan | 9:18 PM

Random Stuff

First off, my boss stole my LEGO Shop-at-home catalog. Seems she ordered some new LEGO for the shop I work at, and got to talking with someone over at LEGO about the stuff in the catalog I had brought in. To her surprise, she got shifted up to talk with somebody with more authority, who told her that LEGO is considering letting small shops, like ours, carry some of the Shop-at-home exclusives. It may not happen, but my enthusiasm for the sets made my boss tell LEGO that it would definitely be a good thing.

Also, to my amazement, LEGO has changed its policy towards small shops. They've promised better customer service, and now they allow backorders. WOW. That's a huge change from just a few months ago, last time we ordered from them. And, considering how well LEGO has done in the shop, this can only be a good thing for everyone involved.

I've just gotten word that there will be another Aquaman Secret Files, probably in February. With all the Aquaman stuff coming out lately, I'm in heaven. My checkbook, however, is crying out for mercy.

Getting ready for tonight, I need to pull out the comic books to give out for Halloween. If we get any trick-or-treaters this year, they will get a full-sized candy bar (no "fun" size for us!) and a comic book. Rot their teeth and their minds!

It's cold in Seattle. Any time it gets below freezing, people in this area start to cry for mercy. We just aren't used to extremes of temperature. To make matters worse, the main heater at work seems to be broken. Ouch.

It's been pretty well established that the DC Sniper came from Washington State, and was a local here for some time. Heck, there is evidence he was involved in at least three shootings up here, one of which was a murder. It makes me wonder why he went on a rampage on the other side of the country. Why didn't he set up shop here? Not that I'm complaining, mind you, I just don't understand. Perhaps I don't want to.

That's enough thinking for today... must get going.

posted by Tegan | 8:19 AM

Birds of Prey

Better get my opinion down before it's affected by all the other opinions I read...

I was irritated with the previews for the show, because they gave away a major plot point (that the baby doesn't stay baby for long). It would've been much better if that had remained a surprise. A -1 starfish for the previews.

As for the show itself, it seemed like a standard comic book story. Mysterious baby grows old and dies in a day (kind of eerily links to the Smallville episode this week that way). I liked the movement of the general plotline: how Oracle is now aware of Harley and Harley is definitely aware of Huntress. Otherwise, this story is a miss. 2 starfish.

posted by Tegan | 7:54 AM

Wednesday, October 30, 2002  

A Quick Note

For many years, I've been very careful about what pages I linked to, since I didn't want to violate any of DC's policies and link to a commercial site, thus drawing attention to myself and getting my Aquaman page shut down. Yeah, I'm paranoid. Doesn't mean that they aren't out to get me.

Anyway, I've gone a little nutso with my links over there on the side, but they are all good sites worth a look. I'm particularly happy to be able to link to the comic shop that has supported my addiction for several years now - Corner Comics. Believe me, I'm not an easy customer to deal with.

That's all, thanks.

posted by Tegan | 7:56 PM

Rapid Reviews - 30 Oct 2002

Wowsers. I actually read the whole lot. I can hardly credit it myself. I thought it would take me several days to get through this mess, but the first-read is done already. I guess I was just in a reading mood.

Ok, I guess I didn't finish it all. I haven't gotten through Previews yet, and I didn't read Lone Wolf and Cub Vol 26. I usually save LWaC to savor slowly anyway. Well, at least as slowly as a fast reader like myself can savor anything. The way for me to savor things is to re-read them, and more than one of the following will get a re-read.

Anyway, here's the scoop:

Avengers #59: Bleah. Avengers lost it's appeal for me some time ago, and it just hasn't picked up since. I found myself mildly intrigued in Black Panther's story, but that didn't support the book. When I find the LEGO ad more compelling than the surprise revealed on the story page right before it, I think it's safe to say I've lost interest. 2 starfish.

Gotham Girls #3 (of 5): This one focuses on Harley, and I'm afraid it doesn't really cover any new ground. The back-and-forth fights were fun, but it's the steady detective work of Montoya makes me want to read the rest of the mini-series. Pretty good, might be better on the second read. 3 starfish.

Batman: Gotham Adventures #55: Pretty easy to see where this one was going, but the storytelling needed work in the middle. In trying to preserve the surprise that wasn't a surprise, things got a little confusing. Not too confusing, but a little. Overall, decent. 3 starfish.

Titans #46: Massively disappointed in this issue. It seemed promising, but then it petered out. Nothing new on the Tempest/Dolphin front except that Tempest is apparently angry. This one qualifies as a miss. 2 starfish.

Ruse #13: A new plot, a new mystery to solve, and some nice twists. Plus a double-cliffhanger. Yeah, this one is good. 3 1/2 starfish.

Snapdragons #2: Ah, Halloween. And it came out just in time, even! If this had arrived next week, it wouldn't have been quite as funny. I like the characters, I like the short story format, and I like the extras in the back (although I've just never been able to get into the art of Patty Cake, sorry). This book rocks, and I hope everyone picks it up. 4 starfish.

Usagi Yojimbo #61: Has there ever been a bad issue of this title? My educated guess is: NEVER. That said, Jotaro is sure an annoying little brat, isn't he? But then, like father, like son. In every young Usagi story we've seen, Usagi came across much the same way. Compared to most Usagi stories, this one was a little tame. Compared to the other comic books, this was still the best of the week. 4 starfish.

JLA Sticker Book: This goes with the Ultimate Guide, and it's fun but not so fun that I would have bought it if I'd known what it contained. Oh well, live and learn. At least there is one Aquaman sticker in it... 2 starfish.

JLA The Ultimate Guide: This is cool. It's written by Scott Beatty, who is also the writer on Ruse that coincidentally came out this week. Of the two, I like this better because it has Aquaman in it (oh c'mon, you knew I'd say that!). It's a little light on Tempest info, and that's not so good because it does cover some of the Titans much better (ok, a paragraph better), but since Aquaman and his Atlantis gets a two-page spread I'll forgive them this time. This covers the current JLA title from the beginning up until the Obsidian Age arc going on right now, and has a bit about previous Justice Leagues just to keep things complete. A 14 page JLA Timeline starts with Brave and the Bold and goes up to JLA #72 (late Sep 2002). This is a must-have for JLA fans, especially fans of the current JLA. 4 starfish, and an extra 4 starfish for the "map" of Atlantis.

Next weeks tentative list: Thieves & Kings, Powers, Green Arrow, Amazing Spider-Man, Hawkman, Justice League Adventures, Young Justice, and Way of the Rat.

Speaking of next week, I peeked in the DC Preview Pack at my local store (Thank You Paige!) and checked out the Aquaman sneak peek that will be in several of next week's books (including Young Justice and Hawkman). I was severely disappointed.

See, the press release for the preview said this: "Each preview will include a cover and five story pages in full color on glossy paper and will be featured for one week during November. These eight-pages inserts will be bound into the center of all participating books."

I read that as 6 pages of art, and either two ad pages, or a single ad page and some kind of text promotional feature. Sounds reasonable, right?

Well, the previews are *4* pages of ads. That's right four. Half the insert is ads. To fit the story pages and cover in, they shrink them down to half size. The cover is a bit larger and gets it's own page, but the five story pages are tiny and printed sideways. The last one has a little bit of promotional text next to it to fill out the page.

To be honest, I would not have minded this format if the promotion hadn't made it sound like we were getting more than we are. But to have half the thing turn out to be ads... yuck.

I guess I better just count my lucky stars that they are promoting Aquaman at all, but still, it's disappointing.

posted by Tegan | 7:10 PM

Random Thoughts

Oh boy! It's new comics day! Today's list has eleven items on it, including Previews Mag. It'll take awhile to read them all, so don't expect any Rapid Reviews until I've got a couple under my belt.

There's an interview with Marvel Comic's Joe Q on 60 Minutes II tonight, I hope I catch it. While I don't think the current bosses at Marvel are very reader-friendly, any publicity for comic books helps the whole industry.

In other comic book news, Todd McFarlane is still fighting for his right to cheat Neil Gaiman. The whole story is here on Pulse News. For anyone coming in late... it's a really long story. The short summary is that Todd broke two contracts he'd made with Neil, and when he refused to make it right it ended up in court where Todd lost *big-time*.

In regular news... good-bye Sweet Lou. You made Seattle Baseball fun while you were here. Good luck in Tampa Bay.

Headline on the Seattle Times this morning is about the Tacoma gun shop that can't account for over 300 guns in its inventory... including the rifle used by the DC snipers. To me, that says that either the shop owner is incredibly incompetent or something illegal is going on there. Unfortunately, I'm more inclined to believe "illegal" at this point. Time will tell.

posted by Tegan | 8:39 AM

Tuesday, October 29, 2002  

Opposites *DO* Attract

There's a good interview with Tom Bancroft, creator of the new comic book Opposite Forces, on Pulse news. Worth a look if you are interested in a new comic book to try. Only one issue is out so far, but it was good enough to get the book added to my pull list.

posted by Tegan | 10:15 PM

Youth-Sucking Monsters

Fun Smallville this week. Yes, I saw certain plot points coming from miles away (the whole thing with Lex's past was blindingly obvious), but it was still enjoyable watching. I'm looking forward to seeing next week's, which promises to go into the difficulties of adopting an alien child.

I find Lana and Lex to be the most compelling characters on the show by far, and this new revelation about Lana's parents looks to expand the interesting-ness of Lana even more. I'm also looking forward to seeing if Lex tries to make up for his father's nastiness as shown in this episode.

All-in-all, a good show. I don't think of it as "Superman" like some comic book fans apparently do, and that makes it even better, I think. Except for the names and the spaceship, Smallville could be a completely independant show and would be just as interesting... only I (and lots of other viewers) never would have given it a chance.

Ah well. Off to bed. Gotta work in the morning...

posted by Tegan | 10:09 PM

Opinion Page Reprint

To make my life easier, I'm reprinting (and updating) some of my comic book industry essays from my now-defunct Opinion Page (which, seriously, was an early attempt at a blog). I still agree with the opinions expressed in this particular essay.

True crossovers, as I define them in this essay, are actually pretty rare, and have (I think) gotten rarer in the last few years. The last one in the DCU that directly affected my reading was a Young Justice one. The tie-ins still happen, but DC seems to have cut back even on those, so things have gotten a little better.

One item I find amusing in this essay, that I could update but won't, is the price of comics. When this essay was written most superhero comics were still under $2. Now just about all of them are over .


a stupid little rant by Laura Gjovaag

Crossover Fever has once again tarnished the DCU, and I feel compelled to write about it. Strange how that works.

Before getting started, let's define a crossover, shall we? As it stands, I can bet that over half the people who read the title of this essay assumed that I was slamming a different type of crossover than what I'm actually referring to. I get this all the time, actually. I mention casually how much I hate crossovers, and somebody will defend their favorite crossover, which happens to be a guest appearance or something like it that I have no problem with. Without further ado, these are the things most people think of when they hear the word "crossover":

  • GUEST APPEARANCES - When a character that normally is seen in a different title appears in the one you are reading. For instance: Green Lantern makes an appearance in Aquaman. He shows up, does his shtick, then is gone. It's a guest appearance. The only title you had to buy to get the whole fun adventure was Aquaman. Guest appearances can be spread out over multiple issues, but as long as they remain in only one title, they are guest appearances.
  • MINI-SERIES - When a group of characters that normally don't appear in the same title get together for a mini-series. This would be a special series that happens just for the purpose of getting the folks together. The most obvious examples of this would be the big DC Summer crossovers. DC has done other books with this same effect, including the PLUS one-shots.
  • TIE-INs - When the normal titles of your favorite characters are linked, closely or loosely, to a MINI-SERIES crossover. These books aren't absolutely necessary to understand the mini-series (if the mini-series is written by a competent writer), but they support the plot and add aspects to the story. When well written, they also stand alone without the mini-series, as a regular issue of the title.
  • CROSSOVER - When a story is divided between several titles. For instance, part one may be in Aquaman and part two in Superman. In order to understand the story, you need to read all the different parts of the story, which means reading books from several titles.

Some people also differentiate between crossovers within a company and crossovers that occur between different universes. But I've found that just about any crossover fits into one of the four categories I list.

The first two types of crossovers don't bother me. In fact, I enjoy guest appearances. They expose me to characters I normally don't read, but might possibly enjoy. They strengthen the continuity within a universe, and remind us that our favorite characters are part of a universe, and not in a vacuum.

The same holds true for mini-series, in general. I don't mind getting my favorite character in four or five titles a month, including a few crossover minis. The key to these is that if I don't want to get the minis, I don't really miss anything in my regular book.

And that's the key. If I can read my regular book and only my regular book each month, getting no other comic book at all, and still follow the story, then a true crossover hasn't happened.

So, you may be asking, what do I think of tie-ins? Well, it depends entirely upon the writer. Some can easily do a tie-in issue that doesn't distract from the regular plotline of the book. Some writers can explain the whole mess and not leave you wondering what the story was about. Some can't. And that gets annoying. It's like buying your regular lunch at the deli everyday, and one day there are suddenly extra pickles in your sandwich that you never asked for, and no tomatoes like usual. I generally consider tie-ins a flaming nuisance, and ignore them.

Then there are crossovers. Real crossovers. Stories that are split up so you can't just read one part and get a complete story. To extend my analogy of lunch at the deli, it's like going in to buy your lunch and being told that they have a special this month. If you buy just your regular, you'll only get one slice of bread and some cheese. In order to get a full sandwich, you have to also buy this other special they have. It's only twice the cost! You'll get more in the sandwich! But the problem, the annoyance, the reason I hate it: you don't get a whole sandwich if you just buy your regular lunch.

And as far as I'm concerned, that's cheating the consumer.

In order to get a whole story, the reader has to spend twice as much. So they get cheated out of either (take your pick): half the story or another $2 of their hard-earned money. Either way the consumer loses. Loyalty to a character, to a company, is spit upon. The reader wants a story, commits their money to a title once a month, and is told that's not enough.

Of course, I can always change delis. I can always stop buying comics from DC. In fact, that's what a lot of folks do. They get so fed up with the crossover gimmick, they either quit comics altogether or go off and find a company that doesn't do gimmicks. There's lots of great independent comics out there, and once somebody fully switches over, DC doesn't stand a chance of ever getting them back. Especially when they know that if they come back, they're just going to get cheated again.

The money-grubbers at DC argue that crossovers bring in lots of money. Well, short-term they do. A lot of fans aren't to the point where they're so fed up with the nonsense that they'll quit, and those fans will usually fork over the extra money to buy the rest of the sandwich... er, story. Some of them will never stop doing this. They're fans. A lot of them, however, will eventually get tired of being yanked around. The adults will look for more interesting comic books, the kids will decide they've outgrown comics, and the industry will continue its long downward spiral with crossovers being one of many contributing factors.

Now, some people aren't convinced by these arguments. How about this, then? What about those people that have difficulty just getting the extra issue? For instance, you live in the Philippines, and your comics are shipped to you by subscription from DC. Green Lantern crosses over with Superboy, part two being in Superboy. You're only subscribed to Green Lantern. Will DC send you the Superboy issue at no extra charge so you can read the whole story? I doubt it. Will they even bother to inform you that there's a crossover? Ha. You can't get Superboy easily, so you're out of luck. You'll never get the remainder of the story without expending a lot of energy and wasting a lot of time.

And then there are the books that are very popular. When Superman crosses over with Lameman, and your shop only orders one copy of Lameman every month, if you're a Lameman fan looking to buy your book, you're out of luck. Some Superman fan has snapped it up. And there's twenty more Superman fans upset that they aren't going to be reading the whole story either.

So, you guessed it, I hate crossovers. And I've gotten to the point in my monthly planning that I've stopped buying crossovers, even in titles I like. They are almost never worth the effort, anyway. It's only a matter of time before I get so fed up with the crossovers in super-hero comics that I drop them completely and start reading independents exclusively. The comic companies complain and worry about the industry, but have yet to figure out what to do to fix it. And when the fans tell them about one aspect that is a serious problem, the big companies ignore them and look only at their short-term bottom line.

Here's to the end of crossovers!

This column is copyright 1998 by Laura Gjovaag. Summer 1998

posted by Tegan | 7:45 AM

Monday, October 28, 2002  

HeroClix or HeroClunk

Didn't have a good night at the tournament. In fact, it was absolutely miserable. Perhaps it's the knowledge that there is an Aquaman LE out there waiting for me to win it. Maybe it was just pure bad luck. Maybe I was distracted by other things on my mind.

Whatever it was, I did horribly in the tournament, losing my first two games in the most frustrating manner possible, and giving up in the third game after ten minutes when I realized I wasn't enjoying myself at all.

The only good thing to happen in my games (and the result was quite bad for me) was that my opponent's Experienced Aquamand took out my Rookie Hawkman with one hit. Naturally, despite it happening to me, I was pleased.

But the fun is gone. I don't know if I should take a couple months break from the tourneys or what. In any case, it wasn't the pleasant night I was expecting.

posted by Tegan | 9:07 PM

Oh Boy! LEGO!

Just got the latest LEGO Shop-At-Home catalog. Naturally, I'm quite thrilled to read about all the neat sets I can't afford...

This year's LEGO Advent Calendar is available now, wish I could get it and the little Christmas models. I like this year's holiday tree. Heck, I think I'd just get the tree and the advent calendar.

The first LEGO Legend listed is the Black Seas Carracuda, which came out during my big years of collecting. I wanted it, but could never afford it. I still can't. There's more like that in this catalog, including Black Falcon's Fortress, which was in the series of castle sets that I worked hard to collect.

The new Harry Potter sets are out, though I just helped order them for the store I work at, so none of them are a surprise. I can't really decide which sets I want most, but Quidditch Practice (Madam Hooch mini-fig!) and the Privet Drive set are definitely the leading contenders. Well, so is Dumbledore's Office, but that's well out of pocket change range... *sigh*

I also want the Spider-Man sets, but those are pretty unlikely at this point, too. *double-sigh*

One thing I could almost afford is the Mini-figure headgear accessory bag. It's actually the set of my dreams. When I was young I wrote to LEGO and asked for a set like this. It's nice that LEGO is finally offering bulk parts through their catalog.

I really want the Scary Laboratory set, since it has a LEGO mini-fig that's a dead-ringer for Agatha from Girl Genius. Ah, to build a Girl Genius LEGO playset!

The train sets were extremely painful to look through, as I really want the Metroliner Club Car, but know that I won't get it any time soon. Then there's the double page spread of the Santa Fe Super Chief with a bunch of cars... yet another set that's already a classic, yet is well beyond my financial reach.

I do have to say that I don't want the most impressive set in the catalog. That's the Imperial Star Destroyer. Over 3 feet long, over 3000 pieces. It even includes the Rebel Blockade Runner (in mini-size).

*big sigh*

Oh well, that was fun. Sometimes wanting is better than having. At least I keep telling myself that.

posted by Tegan | 4:39 PM

Random Thoughts

I never intended to write three blogs a day. Heck, I didn't even have any particular thoughts of doing one a day. But for some reason, I'm disappointed in myself for not keeping up the pace of the first couple of days! Pathetic, yes? Especially since my husband seems to be the only one regularly reading this...

There's no real subject for me to write about today. I'm doing my best to shut out the outside world. Little bits seep in, like the Angels winning the World Series. There's also a bit about the Seattle School District being millions of dollars in the hole due to mis-accounting. While that may eventually impact me in my current job, I don't think it will any time soon. And I don't want to see this country go to war against Iraq, at least not with the lack of evidence we've seen so far. But all that is outside, and for today it stays outside.

I spent this fine morning (the second day of my weekend) rapidly scanning through a bunch of Silver Age Aquaman stories to write my article for The Aquaman Chronicles. I'm chronically late, but John puts up with me anyway. Have I mentioned that any Aquaman fan not getting this fanzine is seriously missing out?

I won't spoil the article by telling you what it's about, but it was fun to rapidly skim a lot of Aquaman stories. Though I do start to feel surreal after a while of listening to filk music and reading old comic books...

At least I've got chores of laundry and dishes to keep me down-to-earth.

Let's see. Tonight I go to the HeroClix tournament in Redmond. I'm hoping that at some point I can win a Limited Edition Aquaman, or at least trade for one with something else I've won. Unfortunately, that means I have to play to win, which takes a little of the fun out of it for me. I'm far too competitive a person to play for "real".

Shipping lists for Wednesday are up, so I know what I'll be reviewing this week, provided they actually ship. I also got a text version of Previews just a few minutes ago, so I can read through the solicits before seeing the art. I don't know if anyone else has this problem, but I find it difficult to read through previews with all the yucky art, and so the text versions that several sites provide on-line is my first line of defense and my most fruitful reading of Previews.

Ack, starting to strain my brain, time to move on to some other activity...

posted by Tegan | 2:21 PM

Sunday, October 27, 2002  

Bonnie Laddie, Hieland Laddie!

I promised to tell you how the Heather Alexander concert went.

The concert was held at a small community center close to the Ballard Locks in Seattle. Indeed, I got there a bit early and wandered down to the Locks and spent some time watching sailboats return from racing and got the chance to pet a small walking mop.

The crowd at the concert was small but involved. The doors opened about 7:15 to let us in out of the cold, and we proceeded to chat with a very nervous Heather until the start of the concert itself.

Because she was so clearly nervous, we did our best to put her at ease. As the clock ticked closer to performance time, she didn't relax at all. I don't suppose that our applause when she walked across the stage to "go to the little musician's room" helped much.

If you've never been to a recording conference before, it's a little bit different than a regular concert. The physical audience is really just there for background noise: the real audience is the people who will be buying the album. The sound has to be adjusted for the recording, and so there were a couple of songs in which Heather's instrument made it slightly difficult to understand the words she was singing. In particular, "King Henry" had a very loud fiddle which drowned out some small bits of the song from where I was sitting.

Also important in a recording concert is that nobody in the audience talks. So we made the most of our 45 minutes before the start. It was actually impressive, listening to us before the concert started, how quiet we managed to be during the songs themselves.

Except where audience participation was wanted, of course. During the song "High Barbary" we get to make pirate sounds whenever Heather asks "What do the little pirates say?" and during the 45 minutes before the concert we got plenty of practice making pirate sounds, much to Heather's amusement.

Another different thing about recording concerts is that at any time the performer may want to start over. On one song, Heather took three tries to get through it. Talking with us between takes, she told us about the one of the worst times she had getting through a song during a live recording. It was "Creature of the Wood" from Life's Flame, incidently one of my favorites. The last concert ran overtime, as she tried and tried to get a good recording of this one song. She told us that the audience sat there for *four hours* while she tried and tried. If you listen to the song, she told us, you will detect a note of triumph building in her voice as the song continues... because she started to realize that she was actually going to make it through on this take. At the end, she said, you'll notice the crowd goes absolutely wild. That's when they realize that she's finally done it.

It is kind of jarring to be in the audience, listening to a song, and suddenly the music stops and the performer says, "Nope! I wanna try that one again!" There were also the more amusing bits where she actually flubbed lines, much to her embarrassment. And during one fiddle song, she apparently forgot to breathe. She then told us that it was a bad habit of hers when she was nervous... forgetting to breathe.

In any case, the concert was fantastic, both for the insight into making an album and for the great music. It's been years since I've heard "Twa Corbies" performed, and I've never quite heard "Bedlam Boys" the way she sings it. "Hieland Laddie" is great, the way she's adjusted the verses to her own experiences makes it work well for crowds like the one at the concert. She did drop the verse about sci-fi cons, but it was a little awkward scanning. "Frog of Cambreadth" (what happens when Heather Alexander songs breed) was a riot, especially since it stayed true to both its parent songs. Her insight into Lord of The Rings merchandise was extremely interesting, and if you get the album you can hear it on "The Golden Ring".

There are three more recording concerts in this series, one in Oregon and two down in California. If you have the opportunity, check them out. It's a fun night out with fun people.

posted by Tegan | 7:41 PM