FF – intriguing

29
Jan



“The most important thing about the Fantastic Four is that this is a movie about a family.”
-Josh Trank

So I watched that teaser trailer the other day. It was interesting; it sure looked pretty, even if it didn’t quite look like the Fantastic Four (I refuse to acknowledge FANT4STIC at all except to dismiss it in this parenthetical sentence). If anything, it looked rather generic, in an early 21st century prestige science fiction film sort of way.

I don’t dislike it, necessarily – 90 seconds doesn’t give you a heck of a lot to work with. That one quick shot of the team (including an apparently pantsless Ben Grimm), as you can see above, looks nice and iconic, at any rate. If there’s any comics link here, it’s to the early issues of Ultimate Fantastic Four, which was an interesting take on the property, if not my favorite*.

I guess you could say I’m intrigued, if not completely enthusiastic. I do like the quote from the director highlighted above (taken from this filmmaker commentary on the teaser trailer, which is apparently a thing now), which hints at the fact that they maybe get it, even if this aspect doesn’t show up in this trailer full of dour voiceover and maudlin piano.

show me a little more of the family dynamic, and I might buy into this yet.

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*-I’m not a huge FF reader/collector, though I did enjoy Matt Fraction’s recent run with dueling Fantastic Four and FF titles (especially FF, with the alternate Four of Ant-Man, She-Hulk, Medusa, and Darla Deering, mostly for the Allred art).

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superhero round-up

27
Jan

Because some significant superhero media news came out on Monday, and I have thoughts!

♦- David Tenant as Zebediah Kilgrave/Purple Man in AKA Jessica Jones (I’m calling it that, even if it doesn’t end up being called that; it’s a great title for a long-in-development property) series going to Netflix is really good casting. I’m going to assume you probably don’t know who either Kilgrave or Jones are, which is a safe thing to do. Jessica Jones was the lead in Alias, a Marvel comic series a few years back about a broken down former superhero coming back on the scene as a private detective; very noir-ish. Jones went on to become a mainstay of Marvel comics (at least as written by Brian Michael Bendis, who writes lots of ‘em), getting her groove back a bit, and marrying Luke Cage. Kilgrave is an early Daredevil villain with pheromonal mind-control powers. More modern interpretations have him as a manipulative, awful, and rapey bastard, who was largely responsible for Jones’ breakdown.

I like it, because Tenant can definitely play the charismatic manipulative bastard pretty well; his Doctor wasn’t far off, as much as the fangirls would hate to admit. I expect him to go to some pretty dark places, which should really work. My interest is further piqued.

♦- The other big bit that I care about is the bit of news leaking about Fantastic Four, which is out in just a couple of months and no one’s seen a damned thing, except for a couple of strange statements about containment suits, Doctor Doom as a blogger, and some against-type casting. It’s not been that long since the FF left the screen (two fun, but flawed and relatively unsuccessful films), and Fox needs to get another one out there in order to not lose the film rights. this one’s directed by Josh Trank, who did Chronicle, which was an interesting low-fi “found footage” superhero flick. It sounds like the same “grim and gritty” aesthetic is being applied to the First Family of Comics, and that has a lot of fans (including me) worried, especially since things are generally so quiet.

A bit of stuff came out recently, including descriptions of the suits (not sure what to think, but they seem dark and sci-fi), and Trank throwing around adjectives like “Cronenbergian”, powers as “disabilities” and citing filmic influences like The Fly and Scanners. Now, I can trace the lineage of this influence; Lee and Kirby were definitely influenced by the 50s and 60s monster and horror comics and movies when they came up with the FF; lots of pre-Marvel comics (go look up the first appearances of Ant-Man and Groot as “the monster from Planet X” sometime) were just that. A 21st century reboot looking back to 80s horror flicks and playing up the body horror creep factor makes a certain sort of sense. It could be interesting, but it won’t be the Fantastic Four without the family dynamic or inherent optimism of discovery, which nobody’s mentioned thus far, and that’s what concerns me.

I’m curious, but I maintain that the best FF adaptation would be a 60s period piece. Interestingly, if the FF ever end up back at Marvel, the 60s is an era they haven’t done much with just yet – an era of super-science exploration might slot into the MCU nicely between Agent Carter’s 40s, the upcoming Hank Pym 70s flashbacks, and the modern era.

UPDATE – with a link to today’s FF trailer I haven’t actually watched yet.

♦- And finally – a hate group has managed to place a bunch of islamophobic ads on buses in San Francisco. Some practitioners of civil disobedience have taken to “improving” these ads by covering them with more positive messages and images of Ms. Marvel, the perky teenage superhero currently headlining one of Marvel’s best ongoing books (who just happens to be muslim). I would never condone vandalism, though if I were to condone vandalism, it would be this kind of vandalism. ;-)

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behold, productivity

26
Jan

So…another one of those lamented (at least by me) “look at what I did on my weekend!” posts.

Had an okay week at work. I have an actual assigned desk now, which is something; the box of office supplies and documentation is now out of the back of my car and reinstalled in the new office (forty feet from my old one), at least for the moment. The biggest challenge is that my lead contractor rep (the genius who does or coordinates all the actual work) is out for a while because his wife had a baby; his team is awesome and competent, but none of us have the depth or breadth of knowledge that he does, so we’re all playing catch-up a bit, especially since I’m still learning.

The good news is that I’m learning a lot, and quickly, and am quickly getting a picture of what my job actually entails (rather than just the official job description – you all know how it is), and I’m keeping the ship afloat, and not taking on too much water. Happily, my management chain seems to think I’m doing fine, so for the moment, I’m good.

I did have to come into the office on Friday for a couple of hours for some meetings (hopefully not a regular thing), but it was all relatively painless, and I managed to hand off something from my old job properly, rather than just sticking my replacement with something without explanation or instruction.

I believe in the campsite rule – leave things better than you found them*.

Friday night, we (Colleen, Mary, and I) met a few friends at The National Theater downtown for a new talent showcase for local bands, including, in particular, our friends Griff’s Room Band, who are awesome and you should totally check them out if they play near you. Give it a year, and these guys are going to be huge (they’ve got some big stuff working in the early stages).

The rest of the weekend was quiet, yet still productive. Saturday, it seems the con crud that had been running through the house finally took it’s turn with me, if only for a day (I got lucky on this one), so I stuck around the house, laid low reading the new Sanderson and doing laundry. Sunday I felt a bit better, but still stayed close to home. Did some grocery shopping, made some chili, edited another story for Local Magic (Which will be out soon, from Antimatter Press!), and did my taxes, since all the various players managed to get my stuff to me really quickly this year.

Not sure what’s on the docket this week. Probably more of the same, which, I suppose is okay. It’s life, and it’s maybe settling into a pattern again, assuming this weather system up north doesn’t crawl too far down into the mid-Atlantic. We’ll see.

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* – an easy thing to do, as most of my jobs involve getting hired to pick something up that somebody dropped and ignored for a year or more. That’s my life and career: cleaning up other people’s messes. Could be worse; I suspect as long as I maintain that skill set, I’ll never want for work.

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something besides penguins and drinking games – the state of a blog

21
Jan

So yeah, life’s getting in the way around here; not much in the way of time to tend to this little corner of the internet. I guess I should be honest; I haven’t been tending to this space with much real depth for a while now. I guess there are a couple of reasons for that.

The first thing I can think of is that I’m busy doing other things; maybe this place isn’t the outlet it used to be for me. I’ve got a vibrant social circle out there that I spend a lot of time doing things with in meatspace; most of my writing here anymore isn’t think pieces so much as “I did this cool thing over the weekend” or whatever; I like to think I’m still thoughtful, but I only have so many brain cycles to parse out amongst my various constituencies.

Secondly, I have more constituencies now. Besides home and family, work is eating up a lot right now; I’ve switched jobs on some level every year for the last four years, and the last two switches were a bit more drastic than most, as I jumped agencies and then job series – I’m spending a lot of brain power just figuring out my place in the work world, since the fruits of that labor let me do all the other cool stuff, plus sort of important things like food and clothing and shelter. The new job is shaping up; I’m learning lots, and don’t feel quite so lost, but in all honesty, it’s going to take a while to figure out how to be in charge of the program instead of just a cog within it.

Beyond shuffling the day jobs around with alarming regularity, I’ve picked up a couple of side gigs along the way. The cool stuff on the weekends and the vibrant social circles have turned me into a developmental editor of cool science fiction and fantasy stories, which is still kind of exciting. I’ve also fallen in with some excellent creative musician types, where I get to be a wrock star with some regularity, including this weekend, where in addition to a pretty kick-ass band show, I got to be part of some excellent jam sessions with the likes of Mikey Mason, Griff’s Room Band, and Valentine Wolfe. I’m getting to exercise my creative muscles in different ways, which is very cool, but doesn’t always lend itself to time to carve deep thoughts upon this canvas of electrons.

And finally, I guess, I’ve been doing this bloggy thing for almost twelve years. I wonder sometimes if I’m running out of things to say. When I do feel like saying something, it feels like I end up repeating myself quite a bit. I don’t know, maybe a decade and change is the most anyone can expect from one of these things?

So? Does this mean I’m done? I don’t know. I kind of doubt it (for one thing, my hosting bill is paid up for at least a year), but maybe I’ve come around to giving myself permission to let this space turn into something else. I’ll be just as surprised as anybody else.

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gamifying politics

20
Jan

So folks, tonight’s the Annual State of the Union address, as proscribed by Article II, Section III of the U.S. Constitution:

He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient

This “annual message to Congress” has been happening since the earliest days of the country, and became the traditional and largely formalized “State of the Union” address under FDR’s watch in the 1940s. it’s developed something of a pattern since then, enough to be somewhat predictable, at least enough to make a game out of it…like BINGO or something a bit more lubricated.

With that in mind, as I do every year, I post the rules to the annual State of the Union drinking game. Please be both civically engaged socially responsible.

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gamifying science

05
Jan

Thanks to this story on NPR Sunday morning, my family has discovered PenguinWatch.org, a project through which researchers crowdsource science, appealing to the public to help classify hundreds of thousands of photographs of penguins taken all over the world via remote camera installations.

Basically, people can visit the web site, where they’re presented with photos, usually containing penguins. By clicking on the penguins to identify adults, chicks, and eggs, vistors help scientists to collate the images, and by doing so, track penguin populations’ size, movements, and breeding behavior.

My youngest child is currently obsessed with clicking on penguins; we’ve spent the last two evenings clicking on penguins to help the scientists. It kind of feels like a game; or at least it works like one, but the simple act of clicking on penguins gives us a chance to help animal researchers do valuable science, playing some small part in something bigger.


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the now-traditional annual job change post

05
Jan

…apologies for the shitty transition

After two and a half weeks off, I returned to the office Monday, perhaps refreshed from my holiday staycation, though mostly wracked with low-level anxiety about the prospects of my new job, which also began Monday (the fourth time I’ve changed positions in four years…I hope to slow that down a bit moving forward). Going in, I rationally knew that I was qualified for this position, and that I’d be able to succeed, given my skills and experience. However, being not 100 percent sure what I’d be doing (or even where I’d be sitting) when I returned, I spent the last several days of my leave-taking sleeping fitfully, living with tension, and having lucid dreams about wandering lost around conference centers not knowing where the meeting I needed to attend was being held, and encountering spirits of jobs and careers past, all of them providing conflicting or nonsensical information…

I suspect most reading this have been there at some point. Right now, though, I’m waving hello from the cunningly-placed photo-op verandah. Hi!

All in all, though, the first day could have been worse. Sure, my supervisor of record wasn’t here, my (for lack of a better term) mentor* started the week working three states over, I still don’t have a desk assigned (I camped out in my old desk because as nobody scheduled a move, all my computer and phone hardware was still there), many simple housekeeping questions remain unanswered, and much of the org chart stuff that manifests via the email system and other things still show me assigned to my old job; but, with a few phone calls, pleasant conversations and emails, I managed to be sort of useful to an ongoing test effort, got a few security forms and access requests for all the new computer systems I’m going to need to get into filed, figured out where I need to show up on Tuesday, and most importantly, verified that Human Resources processed the promotion paperwork on time, so if nothing else, I’m getting paid the properly agreed upon higher salary this job brings with it.

All in all, I really do think this is going to be a good move. Eventually, the details will get sorted out and I’ll become a productive and useful member of my new team. Eventually.

If anything, I don’t necessarily recommend changing jobs right at year-end when most of the workforce is off on holiday. Should’ve seen that one coming.

_______________________________

* – I’m not sure what he is, really, besides overworked. My position was created in part to take some of the workload off of his, and he’s the one who’s going to be providing most of the direction I receive until I get brought up to speed. He’s also the origin of the blockquote at the beginning of this piece. Imagine said line delivered with a bit of good natured shrug to punctuate things. Could be worse.

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2014 in review

02
Jan

I usually do a “by the numbers” post here, racking up the various numbers by which the year can be measured. Not going to to that this year, largely because my flu shot back in October was complete crap and I’ve been sick my whole Christmas break.

My lovely spouse just pointed out that this is a pattern: I take time off, I get sick to fill the space. She’s quite likely right. Gotta work on that.

In any case, I’ll just do a quick narrative of the highlights, because I don’t feel like digging for the numbers; that’s too much work.

Generally, 2014 was objectively pretty cool. Had a great job with the best team I’ve worked with I think, ever. I’m on deck to start a new opportunity next week that pays more, plays to my skills, and doesn’t take me out of the other team’s orbit. That’s pretty cool.

I got to play rock star a bunch of times. That’s neat. I have another gig in two weeks, and more to come. Who’d have thought this crap would hit in my 40s?

I’m an editor now. I help people make neat things. The stuff we put out this year was pretty successful, all told. I’m having fun.

I have a vibrant and sometimes overwhelming social life. There’s never a shortage of people to hang out with and do cool things with. Sometimes, I feel like I get too much of this, but that’s my introvert talking. I need to listen occasionally, that’s all.

The kids mostly (mostly) have it together. Grades look better; I feel like I have to worry a little less about supporting them into their late middle age. That’s a decent feeling.

Sure, there’ve been some stresses; health issues, financial stress (usually to cover stuff that needed done), and various other little things. I mention them in passing, because they exist, but overall, things looked good.

This year? More of the same would be okay, maybe a little less stress on the financial and health stuff would be nice.

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wrapping up

24
Dec

So, I’ve been done with work for the year since last Wednesday. That’s usually enough to warrant a mention here by itself. Not this year; I’ve been too busy. Now it’s Christmas Eve, I’ve been off for a about a week (wow…doesn’t seem like it), and I’m finally getting a small breather.

I’ve been doing some of the usual Christmas-y things; knocking out presents, getting some decorations up, and all the other things you’d expect. I am, as far as I’m concerned, done with my shopping and wrapping now, unless I’m struck with a fit of inspiration in the next couple of hours, and it’s something I can achieve in the next couple of hours. I need to be on the other side of town around 5pm to do a quick run through some music before the Christmas Eve service: “Coventry Carol” – solo vocal with me backing up on finger-picked acoustic guitar. It’s gorgeous.

So, what have I been doing for the last week otherwise? Last week, I won some tickets (from amazing radio station WNRN) to catch music legend Kenny Rogers when he came to town. As my lovely wife couldn’t come, having a prior commitment, my friend Sam came along. The first set was amazing; all the hits you’d expect; the stuff of my youth, riding in the car with my dad with the AM radio playing. It was so good we didn’t even notice the weird plastic surgery. Second set was…odd, in terms of the shift in tone. This was also the holiday tour. The second set was every awful 70s/80s TV holiday variety show cliche you could think of (sleigh bells, pining for loved ones, forced banter, singing kids, borrowed local church choir), peppered with a bunch of asides about the perceived “War on Christmas” conservatives get up in arms about. I always take country show banter with a grain of salt; it’s gotta play to the audience, and many of this audience, being particularly southern, and “enthusiastic with drink”, got a little too excited when the red meat got thrown. The band was still amazing, and the arrangements of some of the traditional tunes (especially the jazzy instrumental carols at the beginning) were pretty great; the shift in tone, though, was kind of bizarre. Still, as I always say, “never pass up an opportunity for live music”, especially free music, and in that regard, I was far from disappointed.

There’s been family things – holiday concerts, appointments, ferrying kids out for holiday shopping, some alone time with the spouse, and generally just hanging out and ribbing each other. You know, what people do, when they’re awful people like us.

I’ve also been busy with some extra copy-editing; Antimatter is trying to get our latest anthology, Local Magic, out in the next month or so, and I’m helping the effort by copy editing and cleaning up some of the stories for publication. Probably later this month, I’ll be doing some coding so it’ll be available for purchase for your favorite e-reader some day soon (that I’ll be sure to let you know about here).

That’s if I have time…

Remember that cliffhanger back before the panda dodging laserblasts? I guess I can finally talk about that; it’s been in the works since August, after all. When I return to the office after the new year, I’ll be returning to a new job. Yes, another one (it’s become kind of an annual thing for me the last couple of years in the last quarter of the year). As most of you know, I’m a software guy, shepherding projects through design and testing and deployment. I’ve done this for the last decade or so, though I’ve always done it from the business side in various acquisition directorates. Come January (actually, it’s official on December 28th), I’ll be hopping over to the information technology directorate, doing basically the same thing, but from a slightly different angle.

I’ll be shifting from being the most IT guy in Acquisition to being (hopefully) the most Acquisition guy in IT.

It was a good opportunity, as it’s a promotion (getting me back up to the grade I gave up when I moved local last year, plus a little bit), and I think it’ll be interesting work; it sounds like most of my job will be shepherding projects; though more in the sense of making sure the contractors our agency hires have the tools they need to do their job – I won’t quite be management, but it’ll be closer than I’ve been since I ran catering trucks full of high school kids back in college. Also, it’s not really that different from what I’ve been doing.

I did agonize over taking the job a little bit, as for the past year, I’ve been working with the best group of people I’ve ever managed to get saddled with; everyone’s competent, pleasant, and we’re all friends – it’s a very positive work environment, and I was hesitant about leaving it. It’s made this past year in employment a real joy. The good bit is that my desk is only moving about 40 feet (theoretically; they haven’t actually found a seat for me yet), and my new job will bring me into contact with my old co-workers on a daily basis, though it’s possible I may be considered “the enemy” (though it’s all in good fun).

So, that’s been it, other than watching my small investment of $15 dollars become a month’s worth of entertainment – seriously, if you’re in any way that type of person, make sure you get in on next year’s Cards Against Humanity’s Holiday Bullshit event; it’s a blast.A month’s worth of gifts mailed to you throughout December: this year, I got new cards (some with my name on them), games, stickers, comedy, and my own small piece of a private island. Looking for those silly envelopes has made December much more bearable.

As usual, I probably won’t be posting much; I’ll try to do the usual end-of-year summary things that I do, but this is my personal time; don’t be surprised if I just cut the internet out of my life for days at a time…It’s my little reward of peace and quiet after a busy year of life.

I hope you all find some peace for yourselves as well – Happy Holidays!

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best gif ever

17
Dec

Presented without additional comment: action movie acrobat panda:

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