Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hey, Kids! Want to Win a Copy of New Frontier?

Hey, Leaguers!

Jorge the Marketing Guy sent me a copy of Justice League: New Frontier for my review. I'd already pre-ordered the movie on DVD, so I want to share the wealth. So who wants to get a free copy?

I'm not just going to wrap this up and send it. Instead, I invite you to sign up for a giveaway contest.

If you're interested in getting a copy (the very copy which I reviewed!), shoot me an e-mail with your name and address. I'll pull names out of a hat.

In order to get your name put into the hat twice, write me a few sentences about who is your favorite Justice Leaguer and why. I'll post the responses here.

Submit your request by March 7th, 2008.

REVIEW: Justice League: New Frontier

Well, Anonymous, I watched the movie, so here we go.

New Frontier

I liked it.

Like any movie from a book, JL: New Frontier does not completely manage to capture what made the book great, but it does a pretty darn good job of translating the comic to animated format. Rather than beat around the bush, I will say that the single biggest problem with the movie is that at 75ish minutes, the movie feels about 20-30 minutes too short.

I'm not sure if viewers of the movie are going to necessarily miss the bits about Dinosaur Island (from Weird War Tales), the greater development of a few plotlines, or more about the Challengers. But they may want to see more of the Superman/ Lois relationship, get a better feel for the existing relationships among the characters, and maybe get a bit more background on The Flash.

I don't envy director Dave Bullock, or writer Stan Berkowitz. New Frontier as a comic was a sprawling epic, taking place over an extended period of time and containing both explicit and implicit inclusion of historical events and a truckload of DC publishing history. Whomever the powers that be at TimeWarner might be, they've been kind enough to greenlight this sort of project and short-sighted enough to dictate the same running time for children's movies.

New Frontier is PG-13, suggesting that DC Animated expected the movie to reach an older audience than, say, the latest installment of the Air Bud puppies series. One of the oddities of comics and their translation to television (especially to animation) is that what happens in comics is often PG to PG-13 rated. And with the opening sequences taking place in a warfield in Korea in the final days of the Korean War, they don't pull too many punches.

Whether the voice talent took part as a lark or because the pay was right, this movie has a great voice cast. Kyle MacLachlan as Superman, Jeremy Sisto's Batman is a worthy heir to Kevin Conroy. Lucy Lawless is a good Wonder Woman, and I was a fan of Vicki Lewis as Iris, and Brooke Shields as Carol Ferris. David Boreanaz of Angel fame plays Hal Jordan, and Miguel Ferrer is a great Martian Manhunter.

The art-style approximates artist Darwyn Cooke's original conception, under the steady guidance of director Dave Bullock. Coincidentally, I used to really like Bullock's cover work on Superman comics about three or four years ago, as he shared a bit of a retro-style with Cooke. Some will make the mistake of believing the late-50's style of cartoon art is imitating The Incredibles, but that's an unfortunate coincidence. New Frontier pre-dates the release of the Incredibles. I did miss some of the characterization, especially of Wonder Woman, that Cooke brought to the page, but budgetary concerns and a slightly more modern style was probably required for a general audience.

The plot holds up well, and in place of the sprawling story of the original mini-series/ graphic novel, the story is tightened up nicely in the film, with most of the major beats getting attention. From The Flash is Vegas, to the origin of Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, it's pretty well covered. The overarching storyline of The Center, that holds the film together, was surprisingly well-paced and handled with an appreciable amount of narrative economy, all while building tension.

The action scenes are very well choreographed and maturely handled. There's a great big-screen feel to the whole movie with well-staged scenes, from art direction to "blocking".

There are some scenes where they've taken some liberties, and where they've integrated sequences, etc... but as far as a film goes, I don't have any complaints.

Folks not particularly familiar with the Justice League or superheroes beyond Batman and Superman will find something to like.

Folks who are DC geeks will find a bag of things to enjoy, from the Challengers of the Unknown just sort of being there, to Madamoiselle Marie as a Fed. It's just a lot of fun.


The preview copy I received was not the two-disc set, but did contain the film and a short documentary on the history of the Justice League.

Superman/ Doomsday contained a similar documentary, produced as a companion piece to the movie you may have just finished watching.

In this case, the documentary covered the publishing history of the Justice League, and contains some great interviews from folks who were there, or who worked with the original creators (many of whom, like Gardner Fox, have passed). Comic geeks will be excited to see the faces and hear the comments from well-known creators, but may have known some or much of the history of the Justice League of America. Non-comic geeks may be surprised at the grown men talking so lovingly about the Super Friends, but will still enjoy.

On the Whole:

I think this came out extremely well. It's tough to separate out my love of the original book from the movie, and that works in two ways. I am somewhat bothered by what was excised for time, but I'm also finding it hard to pick at the movie too much as it animates and brings to life a comic I think is top notch.

If there's one thing I think was missed, its at the very end when Lois sees Superman again. I recall seeing that page the first time I read the comic and felt it was just a perfect Superman moment. If comics can slow when you read and really impress a feeling upon you, Cooke had pulled it off. Here, I kind of felt it was rushed. But, you know, 75 minutes.

I still recommend. I will mention that I wouldn't show this to, say, very, very young kids. But if they can handle Star Wars, they can handle this.

Friday, February 22, 2008

CB & Flyin' A's team for mellow video of Flyin' A's living room

Hey, CB worked with Hilary and Stuart of the Flyin' A's to get some footage online.

For more on the Flyin' A's, go here.

For more footage, go here, and here.

Clinton/ Obama debate

I watched my first debate of the political season this year, tuning in to the Clinton/ Obama debate.

The debate was in Austin, about a mile from my office, and Jason and Jamie made me watch it instead of watching basketball or something involving Superman.

I haven't read any post-game analysis yet, but a few things are pretty obvious to me. Both front-runners for the Democrats hold very similar viewpoints, and its going to come down to how you think they should go about approaching their goals rather than what goals they're considering in order to make a selection. This means that you're talking a few degrees of separation in policy the two are advocating. Which means a lot is going to come down to a gut or emotional reaction to the two.

Congrats to both candidates for, at no time, attempting an awkward "howdy, ya'll!"

Both agreed on the basics of getting the uninsured insured, border fences (and I wasn't particularly blown away by either candidates' approach on that one), major points on Iraq and that George Bush has dug a hole they believe they're going to have to climb out of.

So, once again, you're left with a gut reaction. While Obama lacks national-stage political experience, its tough to point to Clinton's national-stage political experience without noting on whose coattails she rode to get there. Both have worked on legislation which is appealing to a lefty like myself. Both have voted for some things that leave me unimpressed.

Them's the brakes.

So left to gut feelings about twenty years of Bush/ Clinton rule of the White House, its appealing to want to go to the unknown factor. But I'm not sure Obama has the political experience or clout to move things through, just as I'm not sure that a Clinton in the White House wouldn't re-mobilize the GOP and make sure Clinton was unable to pass a single initiative in four years. No one is sure what would happen with Obama in the White House. He could start dressing as a crazed Admiral and firing cannons from the roof of the White House for all I know.

I'll tell you one thing that drives me berserk about Clinton: The smirk

I'm not sure why nobody has not spoken to Clinton about this, but sitting next to your opponent and smirking while he answers is really... unbecoming. It's kind of like the "heh, heh, heh!" that Bush has become famous for. Or Gore's wandering around the stage during the debates.

Anyhow, I can't tell if she's thinking "I've got this sucker on the ropes", if that's some nervous tick, or if she's remembering last night's episode of Venture Bros. But, seriously... Senator Clinton. I implore you. Stop it.

Now, while waiting for Clinton to finish her thoughts, Obama does this weird "I'm a Vulcan" bit, where he presses his fingers together and tries to look serene. Not annoying, but... I guess it's inappropriate to be texting friends or playing with the cover-flow feature on your iPod when your opponent is speaking. I'm fairly ADD, so I know in either of their places, I'd be making faces or, when the moderator wanted me to respond, I'd say "Wha-...? Can you repeat that whole last thing you just said?" and then go off on a tangent about a jet-pack in every household.

Otherwise, I thought both did a great job, even when I didn't necessarily agree with them.

I didn't hear much on education aside from some perfunctory opening statements.

I guess I'd now be willing to watch McCain and Huckabee debate, but I'm not sure there's a point until McCain is up against his Democratic opponent later this year.

I'd also like to salute them for their basic collegiality. There weren't any low-blows. The one moment where Hilary took a dig at Obama, I sort of felt fell back into karmic balance when she alluded to Bill's indiscretions. I grew to really, really dislike the political process during the past few years, and last night's debate made me feel a wee bit better about the whole thing.

We'll see what happens when it gets down to the GOP/ Dem debates, but I believe McCain is basically sane and decent, even when I disagree with the guy. So I'm not foreseeing anything too ugly. And, hey... I could be convinced. Let's see what McCain's got.

More New Frontier

Here's some information on bonus features on the "New Frontier" DVD. If its anything like the features on the "Superman: Doomsday" DVD, these will be fairly high end productions. Of course, its all very pro-DC propaganda, but the bonus videos were actually informative and fun.

For more information, go here.

“Super Heroes United!: The Complete Justice League History”- The documentary is a comprehensive forty seven year Justice League chronology from the inception in the comics to vivid animated renditions. The story is told with a myriad of interviews tracing back the early days of DC Super Hero team ups during the Golden Age, to the Silver Age rendition where the established heroes emerged and beyond. Interviews include Paul Levitz (President of DC Comics), Dan Didio (SVP Executive Editor at DC Comics), Michael Uslan (Historian), Gregory Noveck (SVP Creative Affairs DC Comics), Mark Waid (DC Comics Historian and Writer), Mike Friedrich (Writer JLU), Denny O'Neil (Writer and Editor at DC Comics), Mike Carlin (DC Comics Executive Editor), Stan Lee (Marvel Comics Co-Creator) and Marv Wolfman (Writer of Fantastic Four).

“Sneak Peak: Batman: Gotham Knight ” - One part anime, one part Caped Crusader , the result is a glimpse at the world of Eastern anime sensibilities combined with a Western tradition of Batman . A detailed look at the world of Warner Bros Animation, and how they joined forces with the renowned Japanese animators to create the highly anticipated anime film of 2008.

The 2 disc Special Edition DVD will feature even more incredible extras including:

“The Legion of Doom : The Pathology of the Super Villain”- This documentary will examine the early mythological archetypes of nemesis characters from a historical perspective, and see how the tenants of this rich history were adapted and woven into the Justice League stories. The bonus feature includes many of the talent included in Super Heroes United! As well as Jim Kreuger (Writer of “Justice”).

“ Comic Book Commentary: Homage to the New Frontier” - This documentary is a nod to the fans of the New Frontier comic book. This featurette further expands the themes contained in the source material, and how these elements were truncated or evolved for the inclusion in the film. Featuring vivid imagery culled from the pages of the New Frontier comic, mixed with the commentary of Writer and Artist Darwyn Cooke, this featurette is a treat for both fans and scholars of the medium.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Now you're just messing with me...

$120 bucks plus S&H for film music that's 20-30 years old?

The new Superman film score archive.

I have been known to drop some serious coin on Superman related items. Hell, I once flew all the way to Beaumont to watch the first third of Superman: The Movie with Randy, who fell asleep.

But even I draw the line somewhere. I suppose.

I'd love to have it, sure. But at, maybe, 1/3rd that cost.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Your daily reminder, Justice League: New Frontier

The Flash is going to have to fight Captain Cold (and his ladyfriends)

Two Comic Writers I find Annoying

The League is not a very discerning comic book reader. We pick up lots and lots of stuff, and often it takes quite a bit before we admit something is not to our taste.

Sometimes its because the core concept just isn't our thing. Sometimes its because the writing is off, or the art is just so wearisome that we just don't want to look at it anymore.

However, most often, its that something about the writing throws me off. Its tough to nail down what bothers me about some writers. For example, I am very hit-or-miss with Bill Willingham. I feel Jim Starlin, of late, has long periods of being dull interspersed with "oh, wow. That was great."

But two writers who just bother me are: Brian Wood and Warren Ellis.

Brian Wood:

I read Channel Zero a few years ago, and I've tried, in earnest, to read DMZ, and I can't do it.

More recently, I decided to give his new Northlanders series a try, figuring that he'd drop some of that in order to tell the stories of vikings. Instead, he brought his modern, post-post-punk sensibilities straight into the Viking world. Rather than giving us a protagonist (and Wood seems intent on protagonist rather than "hero", which is fine in my book) who comes off as just not very clever. Instead, he seems to be going for a level of "bad-ass" that ensures the reader their protagonist will prevail, no matter how thoughtless his protagonists behave. It's an odd pact to make with the audience.

In short, a character who doesn't come off as very bright runs a risk of becoming irritating reading. At least with Miller's Marv in Sin City, you were curious to see how Marv would make things shake out. Here, we get a fairly standard tale of usurpation of the throne by a mean-spirited uncle. Sound familiar? I can't believe Wood ripped off The Lion King, either.

The vikings drop the f-bomb some, and say "shit", which is totally awesome, I guess. It's all just not very convincing, and after two issues I didn't see why I should care.

Warren Ellis:

Ellis's level of annoying traits extend well beyond the page. He spills a lot of ink complaining about superhero comics even as he continues to line his wallet by writing tales of folks in spandex. He maintains an amazingly self-congratulatory web-presence in which he pats himself on the back for drinking and buying gadgets, and cultivates a following via chat group interaction with fanboys hoping to sponge up a little of the coolness Ellis tells them he brings to the table.

Ellis's 90's era book, Authority, was groundbreaking, big-screen superhero madness. The characters were a new breed of no-holds-barred, let's-kill-the-villians superhero, or, rather, enforcer of the status quo. It made for exhilarating reading for the breed of comic reader who always wondered why Batman didn't just kill the Joker, or Superman didn't just fry Lex up like a sausage with his heat vision. Cities were leveled, body counts of civilian collateral damage were enormous, and the world was just a playground for the Authority.

The characters were tougher than normal superheroes, seemingly laughing in the face of death and mayhem and taking civilian casualties in stride. Everyone had ice in their veins, a quick quip for their victims, and was always harder than whomever they were up against.

And then Ellis did it again. And again. In Planetary, and other Ellis comics, the problems would be of epic scale, all the heroes always cool beyond words in the face of interplanetary disaster, and the dames would be tougher than the dudes. And they'd often tell people exactly how bad-ass they were, and how they were going to kill them, and then they'd do it. Which is cool, like, the first fifteen times, but then... well.

Ellis reads the modern equivalents of Omni, so he was throwing around words like Nanotechnology before they'd made it into most comics, but after anyone who watched Nova already knew exactly what Nanotechnology was.

After a while, you sort of got the feeling, well... Ellis began to feel kind of like the guy you met when you start at college who is the third year, still living in the dorms who seems really cool, who knows where to buy beer, etc... But then, sometime after Christmas, he's still telling you how it is, and how to be cool and... hey, is he really planning on staying in the dorms again next year?

I try to pick up Ellis's stuff, because, like Wood, the concepts always sound fairly interesting. But you sort of get the feeling that all of his protagonists are really just 1-degree of separation from Ellis, as they all sort of speak and act the same way. Actually, let me clarify... I suspect they're all sort of 1-degree away from how Warren Ellis believes himself to be when he's alone at night, looking in the mirror and wondering what tough guys say before they beat the tar out of someone.

I dunno. Sometimes I just don't get writers. Or I do and I don't care.

Ellis certainly turns out a lot of work. I wish he's do a bit more to put his money where his mouth is and quit writing superhero comics or superhero comics lightly disguised as dystopian futures, lifted sci-fi premises, etc... The man is probably immensely talented, so I'm kind of lest wondering what sort of story he'd be able to tell if he weren't leaning on existing tropes of genre fiction.

Anyway, that's just my opinion.

shooting down the satellite

Am I the only one totally wanting to read more about the military shooting down their broken satellite?

It's like a giant episode of Mythbusters.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hey, Leaguers. Not too much to report.

Jamie was off to Houston today to see a cardiologist. It's all part of the work towards Jamie's transplant.

I had to come home a bit early today to let out the dogs, as Jamie was playing the jet-setter. The new job is coming at an odd time as I am actually wrapping up several projects at the same time. It doesn't mean there's no work, but it does mean I am not having to do as much to transfer projects as I thought. But, I do want to buckle down over the next few days and get things wrapped up and handed off.

I understand that my decision to shill for TimeWarner's release of Justice League: New Frontier is a bit odd. I'm hoping that things will shake out and this will mean good things for all Leaguers.

I am, in fact, fairly excited about the new movie. I don't know if you guys remember me talking about the comics or not, but its been one of my favorite DC projects of the past seven years or so. For some reason it hasn't taken off in huge numbers even amongst many comic fans. DC knows, however, that it has a good story on its hands. And with Cooke writing and drawing the story, it has the unique vision of a single creator bringing words and pictures together in the best way possible.

On the other hand, I don't know how anyone can be surprised that I'm playing carnival barker for a Justice league movie. I mean, really?

Anyhoo, that's it for tonight.

I'm going to go read some comics.

New Frontier Shilling Continues!

My controversial selling out to Warner Bros. Home Video continues! Here's an image readers of the comic, New Frontier, will remember.

Here Wonder Woman celebrates throwing off the shackles of male oppression with some formerly oppressed ladies. The scene is a favorite from the comic, and I'm glad to see its made the cut.

Justice League: New Frontier Week

Hey all...

Someone from a marketing company representing Time Warner was interested in seeing if I would shill for their upcoming movie, Justice League: New Frontier. The answer is a resounding "Yessir".

Here's the first of what is sure to be many more posts trying to convince you, the consumer, to purchase a copy of the upcoming "Justice League: New Frontier" on DVD February 26th.

Let's all take in a preview, shall we?

I'm looking forward to this film, and so should you. I loved the comic, and own the original issues and the Absolute Edition. I'm still thrilled this was the second feature DCU movie from DC's new animation partnership with WB.

I'm trying to partner with this marketing guy so I can do a give away this week. Let's see what happens.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Gone With The Wind

I've been watching the second half of "Gone With the Wind" on TCM.

For a Hollywood classic, these people have some seriously weird ideas about love and romance. I am also baffled by the adoration of the character of Scarlett O'Hara. She's a horrible, horrible person.

Really, Mammy is the only likable character in the whole thing.

Weekend Round-Up

It was a quiet weekend, for the most part.

Thursday we went to Ballet Austin. It was an interesting show, but I had no business being there. Ballet Austin is searching for a new choreographer, and so was having a weighted competition. Three choreographers were being given a shot, and so it was three separate short pieces and a vote. I, of course, know nothing about dance.

I wound up voting for a gentleman from Russia. He seemed well aware of the challenge and opportunity before him, and so asked his dancers to kill themselves for twenty-odd minutes of some proabably over the top choreography. He picked a universal, straightforward theme he could abstract from (the weather), and completely filled his timeslot.

The second choreographer put together a program that included a track of music which seemed too distracting (it was a re-mixed C-Span audio clip of some statesman discussing failure of the super powers in the middle-east and Afghanistan). It was intended to get you to think, but I wound up listening to the pre-recorded voice and analyzing the speaker's comments, and wound up ignoring what was on stage.

The third was similar to the first choreographer, but less focused. It was a tight decision, but, again, I voted for the first guy.

There were also judges whose opinion counted heavily. I will be watching to see who gets the job. Here's a note, Ballet Austin: I will actually pay to see the first choreographer's work again in the future.

Friday night we did our usual bit of staying in. It seems we went out to eat, maybe... Honestly, I don't really recall. It was a long week at work, and I'm wrapping several things up.

Saturday was rainy and awful. We went to see Persepolis, which I highly, highly recommend. It directly captured the graphic novel and used the animation of the images from the comic incredibly well. My hat is off to the director and Sartapi.

Later, we met up with Letty, Juan, Matt, Nicole and Jason at Habana on S. Congress. We had fun, but the drinks were ridiculously expensive, which... well, the League ran up a tab. And nobody liked my impression of Arnie on the side of the mountain in Total Recall (you know, his eyes bugging out and tongue waggling as he gasps for air).

Sunday we had our first rehearsal with our new power trio. Jason on guitar and vocals, Lauren on drums, myself on bass. We are ready to play SXSW. I also bought a new and amazing strap for my guitar. I have to salute Lauren. She sounded great, and it was doubly fun to play with a drummer keeping the beat.

We aren't going to be sent to get any Kennedy Center Honors quite yet, but I'm looking forward to our next practice.

Anyhoo... hope everyone had a good weekend and President's Day.

Oh, yes. I had to work today. Hope you had President's Day off and made the most of it.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dudes in the Media Jamie Once Dug

Never let it be said that The League is not one to let the scales of fairness tip back into balance. If I can get an opportunity to pontificate upon dames in the media I once dug, should Jamie not receive the same opportunity?

Jamie's turned on the Way-Back Machine and identified several specimens whom she once dug.

Hi everyone - Jamie here. Steanso mentioned in the comments section recently that he was interested in finding out who were the Dudes the in media Mrs. League once Dug. This is not a complete list and I honestly had a hard time remembering who I fancied back in the day, but I gave it a shot. Here goes.

1. Bruce Willis - Moonlighting

Bruce Willis' finest role in my opinion will always be David Addison in Moonlighting. Moonlighting was my favorite show when I was 12. That is of course before they ruined it with a baby, but that is neither here nor there in regards to this list. I hadn't seen anything like it before - they did theme episodes, story arcs, and would randomly break the 4th wall and talk to the camera. I think David Addison was my first real media crush. He was cute, hilarious, and a total smart ass. At the age of 12 all of these things added up to the ideal imaginary boyfriend.

Pre-Hudson Hawk.

2. George Michael

So what if he plays for the other team. We didn't know that back then and even if we had so what. Boy did we love the Faith video, though, right up until Dana Carvey ruined it for me on SNL.

Butt maintenance is very important.

3. Greg Louganis (this counts, right? - the Olympics were on the TeeVee)

I know he's more of a sports figure and again - plays for the other team, but boy did we think he was super-fine when we were watching the 88 Olympics! Does anyone else remember when he smacked his head on the diving board on one of his dives? For some reason I remembered this as having been way more dramatic than it actually was. In my memory, he was on one of the high platforms and was knocked unconscious and had a concussion and it was oh so thrilling. When I watched it on YouTube just now? It was a springboard and he climbed out of the pool himself. Not so impressive.


4. Kyle MacLaughlin in Twin Peaks

"Damn fine coffee. And hot!" Indeed, Special Agent, Dale Cooper. Kyle MacLaughlin had to deal with some crazy crap in Twin Peaks and he did it all while maintaining his perfectly coifed 'do. I was in high school during Twin Peaks entire run and never missed an episode, even if I had to tape it on my prehistoric Video Casette Recorder. The show was fantastic (1st season), and it was a bonus that Kyle and his jawline were in every episode.

Diane, never drink coffee that has been anywhere near a fish.

5. Rob Morrow on Northern Exposure

I'm a bit embarassed about this one, but if we're being honest, yes, I had a crush on Rob Morrow. Don't know if I just bought the whole cute fish out of water scenario more than I should have, but I thought his bundled up New York doctor stranded in Cicely, Alaska was adorable. There, I said it.

I will be cute for approximately 14 more months.

6. Blur

I already mentioned the rockin British foursome in the comment section, but they played such a large part of my college music collection that I felt they deserved a second mention. In the mid 90s I believe there was some sort of rock- n-roll feuding going on between these gents and Oasis (albeit rather half-hearted on Blur's part). So silly. In addition to being dreamy, they made groovy tunes, and should you be interested I can recommend some albums. They are way better than their radio hit "Song 2" would lead you to believe.

Pleased to meet you

7. David Duchovny on X-Files

"They call me Spooky". League viewing of the X-Files was not fueled solely by the League's fascination with Gillian Anderson. Duchovny had his own following among nerdy ladies such as myself. I tried to continue watching X-Files upon Duchovny's departure, but it was never the same without 'Spooky's' deadpan delivery.

When I panic, I make this face.

8. Ralph Fiennes in Quiz Show

Curiously the same movie which buried for good my silly high school Rob Morrow crush, Quiz Show reintroduced me to one of the best actors of his time, Ralph Fiennes. Yeah... that's what I took away from the movie - his acting...really... Okay, have you SEEN Ralph Fiennes in Quiz Show? He smiles a lot. Sigh.

More personable here than in Schindler's List.

9. Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge

I already knew Ewan McGregor was a looker pre-Moulin Rouge, but then he wore a tuxedo and sang to me. Shhhh!!! He wasn't singing to Nicole Kidman, he was singing to me! Swoon.


10. Hobbits - Lord of the Rings movies

What? Shut up!! Hey, at least I didn't say Orlando Bloom. Who looks like a girl.

4-Pack of cute Hobbits.

Well, that's it for Jamie's post. And, hey, it keeps me from having to do any real work for a Sunday night post.

Hope you enjoyed the equal time from Jamie.

Dear Santa...

Every day, heading to and from work, I cross Ben White at South First. Usually on the way home, I would see Santa. Santa was a homeless guy with a white beard, who often wore a red hoodie pulled up over his head, even in the worst heat.

I mentioned him in passing once to Jason, because I was curious as to why he would do that in summertime. Jason knew who Santa was as his former employer was officed just a block away. Jason had heard that inappropriate clothing was a sign of mental illness. And many mentally ill people can find themselves on the street, this I know.

Every day when driving home, I'd look for Santa. He lived, I finally determined, under a blue tarp in front of Chuck E Cheese on the North East side of the Ben White/ S. First intersection. I think it was supported by a few shopping carts. He'd always be at a bus stop, or walking along the street. He never had the obligatory cardboard sign asking for a donation, and he never seemed much interested in either the cars or pedestrians.

As winter came down, I was a little worried for Santa. Even with all the coats, and the beard to keep him warm... you know?

A while back, when headed into work, I saw someone leaning down to Santa's makeshift home and talking to him. The person wore a plastic ID badge of some sort, and was dressed like a professional. I wondered what might be going on. I'd hoped that it was a homeless advocacy group checking up on him in winter.

Not so long ago, I saw Santa in a new hoodie, walking from the southside of S. First.

And then Santa was gone. It was a few days before I noticed I wasn't seeing him. And then I saw his shopping cart/ tarp home was no longer there. Just a patch of dead grass and some refuse to suggest he'd ever been there.

But every day, both coming and going from work, I'd look for Santa. But every day, I kind of suspected... You know he wasn't the healthiest looking guy. He lived near heavy traffic. Sometimes things happen. Maybe that lady wasn't there to help him as much as I hoped she was...

And then yesterday when I was driving in to work, there was this weird, ghostly image of Santa, sitting, waiting for the bus. It looked like him. Legs out, hood pulled down. But inside, he was a shadow. He was all in white, but inside... was nothing. Someone had made a sculpture of some sort of Santa. Someone else was looking for Santa, too.

The image of the empty hood bothered me. When I go to work, I e-mailed Jason. "Have you seen Santa? I haven't seen him in a while. I think he might be dead."

You don't make statues to homeless guys who've just moved on.

On the way home, I saw the statue was still there, sitting as Santa would in the weather, hood pulled down. But with no Santa inside. Instead, in his arms he held flowers. And people were there, paying respects.

And just like I did every day, I drove home, and I didn't think much about Santa once I was home. Until I woke up this morning, and that image came back to me. The white hoodie statue, with nothing to look back.

This evening Jason sent me this article.

Apparently I am not the only one who looked forward to seeing Santa twice a day as we headed up and back S. First on our way to work and home. Or who wondered what happened to the face we saw every day, but whose name we didn't know... so how are you going to look after him?

I don't know what's become of Santa/ Jerry. I hope the story has a happy ending. Most often, these kinds of stories don't.

It's odd that so many, myself included, felt some sense of confusion when Jerry disappeared. And I am not alone in the sense of loss when I saw the statue on the side of the road.

I am reminded of one morning, now several years ago, when stuck in traffic headed south on Lamar beneath the train tracks just before 5th street, I looked at the memorial painted on the support beam for the bridge, the same way I had, literally hundreds of times before.

"Fair Sailing, Tall Boy".

The words had been there as long as I could remember. Even when the bridge was repainted, the memorial graffiti found its way back to the bridge within a week.

Some days things mean more than on other days.

In time the statue of Jerry will be taken away. Or melt in the awful weather we've had the past few days. But I wish it wouldn't. It would be nice to know that the statue can be there for us all to remember Jerry for just a minute every day, just as we watched him with curiosity each day on our way to work. Just checking in to see what he was doing this morning. Or maybe this evening. And to remind ourselves that we maybe should have had more to say to Jerry before he was gone.