Thursday, July 13, 2006

Headed for Austin

I'm taking a flight to Austin this evening and will be staying with Peabo and his lovely wife, Adriana. Peabo is finally paying me back for the 1993/94 era loaned car experiment wherein I let him drive my totally rad Mitsubishi Eclipse on a semi-regular basis. While he's out defending the law on Friday, I'll be free to roam Austin.

What can you say about the circumstances of the trip that hasn't already been said?

It sounds like Mandy has picked a beautiful location for the memorial. My memories of the Umlauf Sculpture Garden consist largely of hauling video equipment around and being asked to chase birds away while we recorded. This, of course, meant I ran up and down a creek bed trying to intimidate grackels into leaving. Five years of college, Leaguers. Five years of college.

Anyhow, please consider the fund Mandy has set up in Jeff's honor.

Jason says:

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a memorial fund in Jeff's honor. Make donations to the Jeff Wilson Memorial Account, care of Amanda Wilson, at 1504 West Avenue, Austin, TX, 78701. Donations will contribute to some form of charity, but Mandy is still working on deciding exactly how they will be used.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

An update on Jeff Wilson's Memorial Service

and a few other details can be found at Jason's blog.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I'd like to thank the folks who sent e-mails over the past few days and then yesterday following Jeff's passing.

If you get an opportunity, I'd like for you to do the same for Jason.

If you've been following Jason's blog, like me, you might have been truly amazed by the outpouring of admiration and adoration for Jeff and Mandy.

I'm going to try to be brief this evening, but I want to point out how clearly loved Jeff was by so many people. This list includes folks from high school, college, family friends, co-workers, and even folks who didn't know Jeff outside of the internet, all of whom have taken a moment to remember him.

At Jason's site, more than 30 people have logged in to leave a message.

On the Statesman's site, I lost count of how many folks had left a message, but it goes on for four pages.

Some Leaguers have posted, too.

Sugar and Splice


Maxwell of Cowgirl Funk


Distorted Veracity

The broadcast news in Austin has also covered Jeff's story.



Thanks to Jim for pulling some links for me on this one.

I didn't meet Jeff until shortly before leaving Austin for Phoenix, and thus I'd only see him when I'd pop into town for a few days. He and Jason literally live across the street from one another, and I sort of thought they really needed to build a bridge across the street or some sort of point-to-point pneumatic tube as it occasionally felt like one shared space.

Like a lot of you, I know Jeff largely through e-mail and blogs, and his contributions to Nanostalgia.

and, like a lot of you, I'm going to miss him, too.

We should all be so lucky as to have so many people ready to speak as kindly on our behalf.

Monday, July 10, 2006

As many of you know, Jeff Wilson has been hospitalized since the evening of July 3rd. It is my understanding that as of today, Jeff has passed.

Jamie and I wish to express our heartfelt sympathies to Jeff's family and his many friends who will all be so profoundly touched by this tremendous loss.

God bless you and keep you, Jeff. We will all miss you so very, very much.

The Austin American Statesman has posted a short article.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

God bless my brother for being the guy he is. I don't know how many of you have been following his blog over the past few days, but he's been up at the hospital in Austin standing vigil with Jeff Wilson's family as Jeff continues to fight for his life.

I've done my fair stints in a hospital, but nothing, absolutely nothing, is like what he and the Wilsons have been going through. I love that guy, and I wish I knew what I could do to help him out.

Sorry, ya'll, but right now Jeff, Mandy and Jason are on my mind quite a bit.

What else...?

Did anyone else watch the two final World Cup games? Nerve wracking. Absolutely nerve-wracking. Both games. Well, Germany won pretty decisively, but if you watched the game... Heck of a game. Germany deserved their win, especially at home. I was rooting for Italy in the Italy/ France final, mostly because France had the 1998 Cup and I've come to really like Italy's goalie over the course of the tournament.

I have no explanation for Zidane's headbutt. I confess, it was kind of awesome, but I was left with a huge questionmark floating over my head. No matter how angry I've ever become, it has never occured to me to hit someone with my head. Who does that?

Went and saw "The Devil Wears Prada" today rather than brave the maddening crowds in attendance to see Pirates. "The Devil Wears Prada" is not a movie for fashion-impaired dudes, like myself. Honestly, my RTF Narrative Strategies training was going into the red zone for a huge chunk of the movie, and I went into "dissect the movie" mode for the first hour, eventually wearing myself out and just giving up.

The movie is the sort of morality play that's possibly worth seeing for folks ages 18-24, but once you've actually gotten that first job and realized "my boss is an autocrat, and what I think is largely irrelevant", a lot of the movie just doesn't have much of a lesson to share (and it most certainly exists to share exactly that lesson). I had a laundry list of issues with the film, but I won't go into that here.

I will say I never thought the movie did a good job of ever explaining why anybody should care about fashion, and I think that was a major failure of the film. Yes, they explain how fashion eventually trickles down to stores like "Fashion Bug", but it mostly told me what I already know about why the stuff on the rack is there. They never made it sound any less silly than I always suspected the process to be. The rest is largely like most 80's "it's not all about professional success" movies where Michael J. Fox realized financial wealth isn't worth it when you hurt the ones who care about you.

That said, both Streep and Anne Hathaway were okay, although I think Anne Hathaway was getting away with just being pretty an awful lot, but, hey... that's what the movie celebrates even when it's decrying all that.

Anyway, enough.

Ya'll keep Jeff in your thoughts and prayers. And Jason, too.
Catching up with Comics

Land's sake, Leaguers... It has been a while since I went all straight up comic review on you.

Here's some stuff I've been reading.

The All-New Atom #1: Here's an idea. How about a superhero who doesn't start his career as a dorky teenager? Well, our hero in question IS a bookworm, but in this case, it's all too appropriate for the hero to be of the pocket protector set. After all, you can't be The Atom without being one of the world's top physicists.

Dr. Ryan Choi takes on Ray (The Atom) Palmer's job in Ivy Town following his disappearance at the end of Identity Crisis. A world class genius among world class geniuses, Ryan is quick to discover the source of The Atom's power as well as some of the perils of shrinking at will.

Gail Simone is on writing chores, following an outline by Grant Morrison, working her usual magic with popping dialogue and natural characterization. She sets up a supporting cast in an organic fashion, introducing the characters as Ryan arrives on campus.

The Atom is now officially a legacy character, from Al Pratt, to Ray Palmer and now to Ryan Choi (you can fit Atom Smasher/ Nuklon in there however you please), and Gail creates an interesting dynamic between Ray Palmer and Ryan. Ray is played up as the distant mentor (Ryan is from Hong Kong and corresponded via letter and e-mail), and, at some point, I'm sure Ray's fate will play out in the title.

John Byrne has managed to utilize the internet to create a not-too-popular image of himself as a cranky curmudgeon. It would be unfortunate to skip this title simply because of Byrne's personal views and inability to step away from the keyboard. His pencils are in great form, and the inking on the book (Trevor Scott) is better than what I recall seeing in either JLA or Action Comics.

I've never really understood why The Atom's costume just appears whenever he shrinks.

The threat established in this comic is especially suited for The Atom, and I'd be fibbing if I wasn't a little concerned how The Atom can continue to find a list of villains which meet his unique talents. I always liked Ray as a utility player in the JLA comics, as both the scientific genius and sub-atomic hero. DC has done it's usual magic of coming up with some crazy ways Ray could utilize his powers, which, no doubt, will also appear in the new comics.

Anyhoo, of the new DC titles, this was probably the strongest first issue.

Blue Beetle #4: This one came out last week, but I'm playing catch-up.

A lot of ball's are in motion already with issue #4. I'm not necessarily on the fence with this book. I'm enjoying it and plan to continue to pick it up. BUT... the book constantly rides the line between yet another book about a teenager figuring out how to be a hero with powers thrust upon him (ie Spider-Man) and something truly unique.

Giffen seems to take one step back into familiar territory with every two steps forward in crafting a title which should be a "must read". Giffen's take on the Blue Beetle's powers, the environment of OYL, Jaime's family all are a new thing, and those moments are when the book shines. However, the villains are too mysterious for their own good, falling right down the slippery slope thanks to their ill-defined "magical" ties. To keep Jaime from sitting around talking to himself, Giffen has given him two best-pals, the over achiever and the goof, creating holy trinity of comics since the 80's. Unfortunately, there's nothing there other than the place-holder status we've seen in dozens of comics prior to Blue Beetle.

I guess my frustration comes from having followed Firestorm for the past two years as writer after writer has tried to make the premise work, the doofus best friend, the straight-from-central-casting "angry father", etc... all work. But it feels like for two years, I've been holding my breath, waiting to see the title cut loose. Instead, we've seen iteration after iteration not really work.

There's a lot to like in Blue Beetle, but Giffen needs to take a sharp left turn when he starts heading into the territory of the familiar and see what it takes to define the new Blue Beetle as the true next generation of superheroes.

Action Comics #840: Wow. Johns and Busiek wrap up the OYL run with a bang.

Very much looking forward to Superman titles as Busiek and Johns continue on with the Superman series.

Crisis Aftermath: The Spectre #2: I'd read a review in which this issue was described as "more whining" before I had a chance to read the issue. That reviewer is looking for ass-kicking action, I guess, and missed the point of this mini-series.

For almost as long as Superman has been zipping around in 4-color comics, Jerry Siegel has has another creation, The Spectre, dispensing horrific justice upon the wicked. This series is asking good questions, attempting to tackle the inherent illogic of The Spectre's mission.

I'm not sure how long the Cris Allen version of The Spectre will continue, and I can't say I'm nuts about the "goatee'd" Spectre, but occasionally DC needs to take a few steps back and examine some of their time-honored ideas just to make sure they still work. In two issues this series has done more in a far more satisfying manner than the Hal Jordan-Spectre series for the 8 issues or so I followed it.

Detective Comics #821: Paul Dini and JH Williams take over the title in the post-OYL era. Paul Dini's name may ring a few bells as a writer/ producer on "Batman: The Animated Series" and as a writer on ABC's "Lost". JH Williams was responsible for the genre-defying art work on Alan Moore's "Promethea".

Dini is doing what he did best on the animated series. He's telling single story issues using a timeless version of Bruce Wayne/ Batman, including Robin where necessary. This first issue is good, solid work, and a great point for new readers to start picking up Batman comics again.

Supergirl #7: My GOD, this title would be a nightmare for anyone without a bachelor's degree in DC History. You know, I'm giving this comic about three more months, and then... well, they've got three more months to get this title in line. I have no idea where they're going, which is part of why I'm sticking with the comic. If it were not for the solicits for September, I'd have given up already.

So far, DC has managed to turn out one serious mess of a character launch. My advice to DC: scrap this Kara Zor-El. I don't care how you do it. The original pollyanna in a mini-skirt worked. Somehow in 7 issues you've managed to give us a character ten times as messy as the old Mae/ Matrix/ Linda Danvers/ Earth Angel car-wreck.

While Ian Churchill's art on this title is gorgeous, that's about all I can say that's positive about the comic to this point.