Monday, June 22, 2009

Quote, and Belated Happy Fathers Day to you all ...

It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look -- I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring -- caring deeply and passionately, really caring -- which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete -- the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball -- seems a small price to pay for such a gift.
Roger Angell, New Yorker baseball writer, 1975

~~~~~

One of the best father's days ever. First time since Christmas all my kids sat down together at the same table -- that's been rare since my oldest went off to Berkeley. We spent half the day at the beach, Paradise Cove in Malibu; ran around and read books and dug holes and ate the greatest clam chowder on the west coast, plus Kobe beef ribs which are as sinful as they sound; and then the 7 of us ate 5 pounds of Alaskan King Crab for dinner, and then watched a Captain America cartoon that was pretty good before bedtime. ("Ultimate Avengers 2" -- cartoons are better than they used to be, when I was a boy.)

Hope you all had as good a day as I did.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Life is sounding better. A good day indeed.

Dave

E said...

It was an great Father's Day. I'm glad you had a grab at it too.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the great Father's Day...

May the best of your past be the worst of your future..

ditmars1929 said...

Central Park Zoo with my little man followed by dinner at Arturo's and now I get to figure out how to spend the Barnes&Noble gift card. A very good day indeed. Now, if I could just spend the card on a hardcopy of AI, it would be perfect.

Glad you had a great day, Dan. Yummy crab!!

Doc Nebula said...

Let the obsessive geek in the thread harsh your buzz not at all when he gripes, in purest Muttley fashion, that the Ultimates Captain America has nothing to do with the real deal.

Although the real deal died a while back, so he isn't around any more, either.

Doc Nebula said...

Oh, and I got Magic cards, a cool black tshirt with a vintage Action comics cover reproduces on it in red and gray, a copy of Barack Obama's book, and a painting by my eldest daughter depicting me as a superhero. Life don' ged much bedda dan dis.

Dan Moran said...

The only big objection I have to Marvel's Ultimate line is that they didn't just settle on it. DC did the Infinite Earths thing to clean up their background; Marvel's version just muddies it all up, as far as I can tell.

They're bringing Cap back, btw, in the original universe. He'll have been "dead" for two years, about.

Cap and Superman have always been my favorites. They're corny, but they're sincere, which I've always liked. Hell, I still don't understand how Rustler's Rhapsody isn't considered one of the great movies of the last 20 years; it's a way-better-than-anyone-realized spoof western -- played absolutely straight by Tom Berenger, in the role of his career.

Doc Nebula said...

The only big objection I have to Marvel's Ultimate line is that they didn't just settle on it. DC did the Infinite Earths thing to clean up their background; Marvel's version just muddies it all up, as far as I can tell.

I've given up on all modern comics, and did it about two years ago, when they killed Steve/Cap. Even though I knew they wouldn't leave him dead, it was just the last of many straws.

Having said that, at Marvel it's easy... they have a lot of alternate universes. That's official. The 'mainstream' Marvel Universe is, I think, number 616 (by the Watcher's filing system) and the Ultimates universe is... something else, I don't know what. But they are discreet universes, just as the universe with the J Michael Stryznski POWERS characters, and the original Squadron Supreme, are separate universes. (For all I know, the POWERS may effectively be the Ultimates versions of the Squadron Supreme, but since they're all just set on different versions of Earth, and that's official, with separate numbers and anything, that's really only a philosophical connection with no 'actual' meaning... whatever that means, when you're talking about funny books.)

DC did away with all their alternate universes in '85 with the first Crisis. Then they had another Crisis style event about every two years, continually resetting their continuity so they could continue to have first issues and hire big name writer/artists to do character reboots. Finally, a few years ago, they brought back alternative universes (the 52) in INFINITE CRISIS. But as yet we do not know what alternate universes are back; sure as shit, the Earth 2 characters are all still living on the same planet as the Earth 1s, so, really, it doesn't much matter.

I hate the Ultimates, but I hate every single thing that the Modern Age of Comics has done to cheapen and degrade and torture the concept of actual heroism in so called superhero comics. I know it's more 'realistic', but I still miss the days when heroes were actually admirable. There's no one in the Ultimates, or in any of the Ultimate books, as far as I can see, who is admirable. They're all copiously flawed and much too grim n gritty to trouble themselves with actually being better than anyone else.

But, then, there's no one in the mainstream Marvel or DC Universe like that any more, either, so, as I say, I just gave up on them.

They're bringing Cap back, btw, in the original universe. He'll have been "dead" for two years, about.

I heard. But until someone shoots Brian Michael Bendis and/or Mark Millar, Marvel will still be putting out horrible, horrible comics.

Cap and Superman have always been my favorites.

Cap is one of my favorites at Marvel. I also like Hank Pym, who has been royally gang shagged in the last ten years or so, and was very fond of Hawkeye, who was dead, but I guess is now alive again, or something. But to offset that, apparently the Wasp is now dead. It doesn't matter to me; there are still Silver Age FANTASTIC FOUR issues I haven't read, and I'm going to concentrate on snagging those.

At DC, probably my favorite superhero is Hal Jordan/Green Lantern, and he has one of the few good writers left at DC, too... Geoff Johns. But Johns has been slipping badly lately, too, unfortunately.

Dan Moran said...

There's a story about Hemingway (I've heard it applied to other writers too) to the effect that a friend came over and expressed shock at what Hollywood had done to his novel. Hemingway says, "They haven't done anything -- it's right over there on the shelf."

That's sort of the attitude you have to take to comics. I'm not a huge comics guy -- hadn't read much in over 20 years before I got sucked in on the Civil War stuff from Marvel a few years ago. (Except the DC Hitman comics -- I read most of those.)

The Civil War stuff was interesting, revisiting characters I hadn't read much about in two decades -- for the most part it worked for me. Scene with Cap & Tony Stark, Stark calls Cap a stubborn son of a bitch ... Cap sits in his prison cell, and after Tony leaves, mutters, "You bet." Nicely done.

In other cases it didn't work, and in either case, the original comics are still there ....

Mostly I just pretend Zelazny never wrote the Second Chronicles of Amber. It's not an embarrassment, but it's not close to the original ... but hey, the original is still on the shelf.

Doc Nebula said...

There's a story about Hemingway (I've heard it applied to other writers too) to the effect that a friend came over and expressed shock at what Hollywood had done to his novel. Hemingway says, "They haven't done anything -- it's right over there on the shelf."

I hear that. And this is all on me, I understand. I love the comics I read as a kid, and while every comics fan believes that the best comics ever done are the ones that came out when he was 8 years old, I have the unfortunate privilege of being very nearly correct in that blindly emotional bias. I was 8 years old in 1969, and while I would argue that Marvel's BEST comics were still half a decade off, with the stuff Steve Englehart would do around that time on AVENGERS, DR. STRANGE, CAPTAIN MARVEL, HULK, and a few others, and Steve Gerber would do on DEFENDERS, MAN THING, HOWARD THE DUCK, OMEGA THE UNKNOWN, and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, nonetheless, '69 was a damn fine year for Marvel. Superhero comics did get somewhat better for a short period afterwards, but they have never been close to as good as what Englehart and Gerber did in the early 70s since.

Because of that, I came to regard these characters, and the universes they lived in, as real people and places. And it bothers me when the custodians of those real people and places, which are beloved to me from childhood, treat them as commercial commodities, putting them through insane emotional contortions and the most bizarrely uncharacteristic melodramatics simply for the sake of the sales figures such antics will generate.

'Bothers' is deliberate ironic understatement, there. 'Enrages nearly to the point of homicidal frenzy' is closer.

I certainly get that you don't get that, though.

Still, it's not a 'here's a book, there's a crappy movie adaptation' thing. Different media demand different treatments. I am in the position of someone who is so utterly in despair at the abuses and contortions that have been inflicted on these imaginary people I hold dear that I do not know where to turn. It's not a bad adaptation. It's that after he died, somebody else bought the rights to all Hemingway's characters, and hired a succession of hacks to write purely commercial fiction about them, without any concern for how those characters had originally been conceived or depicted at their very best. Yet, all the subsequent books about these characters, by other, much lesser talents, under entirely commercially inspired editorial guidance, were 'canon', and had to be accepted as being just as 'real', as the Hemingway originals.

Doc Nebula said...

That's sort of the attitude you have to take to comics. I'm not a huge comics guy -- hadn't read much in over 20 years before I got sucked in on the Civil War stuff from Marvel a few years ago. (Except the DC Hitman comics -- I read most of those.)

I'm cultivating the attitude, in self defense... much as I've had to about STAR TREK, since the mid 80s, or STAR WARS, since RETURN OF THE JEDI. It's just harder for me, as I loved superhero comics first, and best.

The Civil War stuff was interesting, revisiting characters I hadn't read much about in two decades -- for the most part it worked for me. Scene with Cap & Tony Stark, Stark calls Cap a stubborn son of a bitch ... Cap sits in his prison cell, and after Tony leaves, mutters, "You bet." Nicely done.

CIVIL WAR is an interesting idea enacted extremely badly and executed with complete idiocy, IMO. Does any universe with a bunch of extremely powerful costumed nutjobs running around settling all their grievances violently need close supervision by grownups? Certainly. And I like some realism in my superhero universes. But when you get down to that micro a level, however sensible and realistic the idea is, you have to weigh it against the impact it's actually going to have on the stories and the characters. The idea that the Human Torch isn't allowed to run around in public without a hefty insurance bond makes perfect sense... there's a guy that must have done some serious property damage over the course of his career.

But the idea of your favorite superheroes staying up late nights filling out paperwork is a boring one, and should be avoided at all costs. Yes, we all know that when Spidey leaves a beaten, dazed criminal hanging from a strand of webbing outside a police station, that guy is most likely going to go free as soon as his public defender shows up and makes a motion... after all, there is no witness to file charges against him; Spidey is off fighting Doc Ock again by that point. But we don't CARE. Unless one is doing a hyperrealistic four dimensional Alan Moore type look at the criminal justice system in a superhero universe (a comic I'd love to write) we just gloss on over that. It's no fun.

Similarly, yes, superhumans should be registered, and licensed, and almost certainly bonded. But that's no FUN. It's a perfectly sensible idea that any sane editor with any kind of grasp on the essence of superhero comics would have rejected out of hand.

Bendis writes excellent dialogue, yes, but he can't plot worth a damn.

Mostly I just pretend Zelazny never wrote the Second Chronicles of Amber. It's not an embarrassment, but it's not close to the original ... but hey, the original is still on the shelf.

That's EXACTLY how I feel about nearly every Modern Age comic written about any Silver Age character I liked as a kid.

As to the Amber Chronicles themselves, no argument, the second are inferior to the first. But when TRUMPS OF DOOM came out, I'd just gotten back from Basic Training and found it in the local library branch. I kept that book and kept renewing it over and over again all that summer, rereading it and rereading it and rereading it. I don't know why. Something about the situation Merlin found himself in... far from his home, heir to powers he did not understand, afflicted with relatives of varying degrees of power and sanity, stalked by an unknown enemy, possessed of truly amazing powers that would allow him to escape any reality he happened to be in, but never the real problems following him around... it spoke to me. And Zelazny has always written a fantastic action scene, something a lot of literary writers have never troubled to learn to do.

Plus, I find Merlin a much more accessible character than Corwin, although I would have liked to see Corwin come back for a few more adventures, at some point.

J.D. Ray said...

I'm completely jealous.

Having no kids, Father's Day is time for me to recognize the father figures in my life. Since I lost both my grandfather and my step father a few years ago, that leaves my dad. We've never been close, but we do what we can.

Anyhow, I invited he and his family to come to the cafe, which they haven't ever seen, for Father's Day. I told them to come early, as I wouldn't have time to sit and chat later in the day. But it's a two-hour drive, and they stopped to pick up two of my sisters (two different locations) along the way, so they didn't arrive here until around noon. By that time, we had a packed house, and they waited over half an hour to get a table. I sat and talked to them for all of two minutes the entire time they were here.

On the upside, they all enjoyed their food, and the cafe is staying busy, so I can't bitch too much. I'm still jealous, though. Good on you, Dan, for having a great Father's Day. I'll be over here, enjoying it vicariously. ;)