*I'm celebrating Father's Day with two new presents, Elvis Costello's new Nashville/acoustic album Secret, Profane and Sugarcane and Robyn Hitchcock's rarities collection Shadow Cat, as well as a pot of wife-brewed coffee, bagels from Panera (sesame seed w/cream cheese as the entree, with Cinnamon Crunch for dessert), and a pair of offspring who are more or less awake and responsive.

*I like Robert Kirkman's work on Invincible quite a bit; I'd say it's arguably the best original super-hero series of the last decade.  (Brian K. Vaughan's Runaways would be my other candidate.)  It's bright and interesting and full of intriguing characters whose motivations are different from one another, but whose interactions never seem forced. Even when he's working with concepts that are pretty well-examined, Kirkman never seems to just be going through the motions.

So why is his work on Ultimate X-Men so dull?

Is it just that the characters aren't his, so he doesn't feel he can examine them as deeply or change them as much? Is it that he keeps trying to work in new versions of old characters, rather than exploring the possibilities of the characters already in the book?  Is it just that Salvador Larroca's art is dull enough to rub off on him?  I don't know the answer, but after reading the most recent UXM collection, Apocalypse, I'm really, really glad that I checked it out of the library instead of buying it.

*I took a trip around the WFS campus yesterday with a couple of visitors from the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia. Alas, the weather was against us--very grey, which spoiled the visibility, very humid, which spoiled the comfort, and often rainy, which spoiled the use of optics.  Still, Carol, Jay and I had a good stroll through the woods near the school entrance, hearing (but never seeing) both a Yellow-billed Cuckoo and an Ovenbird, neither of whom I'd ever heard there.  The former I've logged only down by the Rapidan River, while I've never come across an Ovenbird on campus at all. Carol also heard what turned out to be the year's first Great Crested Flycatcher. After 45 minutes or so we pulled up stakes and drove down to the river valley, where the mist was thick and the humidity even worse, but we were able to hear a few more interesting species calling, including a Northern Parula Warbler and an Acadian Flycatcher, and we were able to lay eyes on on Orchard Oriole, a family of Eastern Wood Pee-wees, and a lone Purple Martin winging over the river. Not an ideal outing, but a pleasant one.

*After a long delay, I finally decided that my guarded attitude toward Will Ferrell might be preventing me from enjoying a good comedy, so I picked up the library's copy of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. The boys had both seen it already, but Kelly and I hadn't seen it at all, and we were completely delighted. One surprise was that Ron was actually a somewhat sympathetic character, which made his idiocy more tolerable. The other surprise, however, and the one which consistently laid us out in hysterics, was Steve Carrell.  As Brick Tamland, he manages to steal nearly every scene he's in, whether it's by yelling "Loud noises!" to contribute to an argument, brandishing a hand grenade during a melee, or confessing "I ate a big red candle" during a recap of a boys' night.  We rewound the disc and watched almost every Carrell line over again before going on to the next scene.  "I'm riding a big furry tractor!"

*Thing One has gone back to work on the WFS grounds crew, a job he had last summer and greatly enjoyed.  Unfortunately, he has not yet gotten his driver's license, meaning someone has to get him to campus for work by 6:00 a.m. every day. So far, that someone is me. I've been using the mornings to write, which is a good thing, but unfortunately, I haven't yet adjusted to the need for going to bed earlier. I'll be working on that this week.

*I've also been hitting the gym regularly--four times last week--and am hoping to keep that a regular part of the routine for the next few months, but it hasn't made me any more alert during those days when I've gotten up at 5:40 and got only five hours of sleep the night before.

*All that aside, I've been hitting the book pretty hard--the novel, that is, currently going by the working title A Raven for Doves.  I finished a first draft of it several years back, but I knew it wasn't quite there yet, so I deliberately set it aside to let it ferment and did a little reading--a trick I've found helpful in the past.  When I first hit a barrier on this book, it was reading John Gardner's The Art of Fiction that spurred me to clamber over it and head for the finish line. This time, however, it wasn't so much a how-to book as one that simply showed me a way out of a problem I'd created for myself: Margaret Atwood's wonderful science-fiction novel Oryx and Crake.  (And if there's anyone out there who's even attempting to argue that O&C is not SF, kindly pick up your "Genre Bigot" badge from the concierge on your way out.)  The first 100 pages of Raven have now been adjusted to their necessary new form, though there are still a few bits that will need to be added.  Now I'm into the second section of the book, though, and that will require a more comprehensive rewrite--but I know what I've got to do.  It won't be a quick hike, but I feel like I've got a map now.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on June 21, 2009 10:53 AM.

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