Final Happy Happy of the Month

The end of May is a busy time for the Happy Happys. I don't know how or why this happened, but it did. Wedding anniversaries, birthdays, all within a seven day span. It's madness, I tell you. Madness.

With that in mind, I would like to extend a shout out to my now-six-year-old nephew Carter, who was born on this day, well, six years ago. In the early afternoon, I do believe. But I don't fully remember because, hello, six years ago.


Happy birthday, Carter. Here's hoping you don't get a car accident for your birthday like your cousin did for his.

(Too soon? You think so? I dunno ...)

Wear your seat belt

Just a quick update on my brother and his family and their car accident:

Dad sent me more photos of the wrecked car. They're not a pretty sight. It's pretty amazing that the worst injury was to my niece, Charlize, who has a broken wrist.


Another Happy Happy

It's been a long day, and I don't have a consistent internet connection at work, so I haven't had a chance to post anything 'til now.

Happy Third Wedding Anniversary to my friends Eric and Liz, whom I haven't spoken to for a little while. Things had been so hectic because of school, and now I'm in L.A. until August. Poor excuses, I know, but it is what it is.

In addition to the wedding anniversary, congratulations are also in order. It appears that Eric and Liz have become slightly pregnant. Well, Liz is, anyway. Eric just gets a sympathy gut. As I always say in these situations, "Dave" is a wonderful name.

Pirates and Other Things

Saw At World's End tonight with Josh and Sarah and Josh's brother, Taggart. I'm gonna try to keep this brief, because I should be getting to bed pretty soon.

The movie is too long and too loud. I dislike not being able to hear dialogue because of overly ambitious explosions and music. I have a headache. They could have turned it down just a smidge, is all I'm saying.

I blame Peter Jackson for the three-hour epics we've been getting over the past few years. Ever since Fellowship made huge bank at the box office, every filmmaker and producer thinks they can get away with these enormous films, and they're just so completely unnecessary. Edit your movies, people. They have these people, called editors, whom you can pay to make cuts to your films. I know it hurts, slicing down your babies like that, but get over it.

All that being said, it was still an enjoyable film. Very fun, though quite a bit darker than the previous two, as evidenced by the hanging of a young boy pirate within the first two minutes of the movie. The first film had such a joy to it, like the filmmakers knew they were getting away with something, but with the second and now the third film, I don't know. It's like they feel the need to bog the film down with these weighty themes: fathers and sons, ill-fated romances. I mean, c'mon, this isn't Shakespeare.

The special effects were spectacular and the actors were all superb. It was great to see Geoffrey Rush back for the whole film this time, and the addition of Chow-Yun Fat was inspired, though I wish he had been in it more. Keith Richards' cameo was just that, a short, less-than-five-minute scene, but it was fun nonetheless, and Depp, Knightly, Bloom and the rest of the returning crew were in fine form (especially Knightly, who, I do believe, can never be made to look bad at all. Absolutely gorgeous).

The movie is left wide open for yet another sequel, though whether they'll make another is still up in the air. I certainly wouldn't mind another, though I'd prefer they get me out of the theatre within two hours and 15 minutes. That really should be enough time, should it not?

In other news, my brother and his family were on their way home from Omaha today when I guess they hit a storm just inside the Colorado border. According to my father, they hydroplaned a bit before, I dunno, sliding off the road and flipping over two or three times. Everyone is okay as far as I know. Dad left some further info on a voice mail while I was in the movie. I guess my niece's wrist is hurting and maybe my brother's head, too. My parents are driving out there very early Tuesday morning to lend a hand for the next few days, so I'm sure I'll learn more tomorrow evening after work.

I tried calling both my brother's and my sister-in-law's cell phones, but I guess they got tossed around a bit during the crash, so they're not exactly in working order, so I haven't spoken to either of them yet. The car is trashed, too. Sounds like it was a pretty bad accident, and I can only assume that they were all wearing their seat belts, because, from the way it was described to me by both my father and sister, I think I'd be writing a much different blog post if they weren't.

I'll post more when I know more.

I hope everyone else had a better, more accident-free Memorial Day weekend.

::UPDATE 5/29/07::

Photo of my brother's wrecked car.


Happy Happys

I would like to wish my friends Jennie and Dave a very happy one year anniversary today. It's a little hard to believe it's only been a year since their wedding, probably because they've been together so long. I hope neither of them has to work today, so they can actually spend some time together.

And I would also like to wish my nephew Logan, my brother's son, a happy third birthday. There were two parties in Omaha this past weekend, one for my other nephew, Carter, whose birthday isn't for a couple days yet, and one for Logan, who, like I said yesterday, is in town visiting with his family. I hope they all had a great time. I'm sure my father has been taking plenty of pictures of the crazies over the past few days (nudge, nudge, hint, hint).


One Week Later

Rather than eating, drinking and being merry on Monday (and having hangovers at work on Tuesday), Sarah and Josh kind of hosted a Memorial Day BBQ yesterday instead. I got to meet and hang out with most of their neighbors and some of their friends (some of whom are very cute and very tattooed and very attached to their boyfriends). The pictures are, of course, on Flickr, and the cameraphone videos of Dancin' Sarah are on YouTube.

As you can see, there was much fun to be had. Josh had moved his turntables out back, so he was DJing for a few hours, and people just sat around and talked and ate and drank. Good times in the cool, clear L.A. evening. Definitely a great way to end the work week, too.

I need to fill out and send in to my instructor at UNO this form about the internship, what my duties are, things of that nature, and I'm still sort of unclear as to what I'm going to be doing for most of my time here. I mean, I know I'll be taking care of, like, the Web orders and sending out review copies of the company's books, which is fine. I knew I'd be doing a lot of grunt work, but I'm still hopeful to learn more about the industry itself, and the editorial side of things, which might be difficult, I understand, because the editors and creators are sort of spread out around the world. Artists live in South America, an editor is in Massachusetts. With a small company like this, and the advent of the Internets, people simply don't need to be in the same place anymore for this kind of work.

So, yeah, I dunno. I'm hopeful that the company will find a new office soon, so that we can be less on top of one another, with room to organize the boxes upon boxes of comic books that seem to litter every part of our little corner of the floor we're on. And I'm sure, as nice a guy as he is, that Ross wouldn't mind having an office to himself again. We've been sharing a desk and an internet connection, and it would probably make things just a little easier if we weren't, if we had our own space in which to work.

There is some very cool news regarding the editorial direction of the company that won't be announced for a little while, but I hope it happens before the San Diego Comic-Con, because I'm thinking I might be heading back toward Omaha (with a slight detour to visit Rose and Johnny in San Francisco) shortly after that convention, and I'd really love to pick a few certain peoples' brains before I'm done here. San Diego is the last weekend in July, and I have an appointment with my dentist on August 15th (goodbye, Wisdom Teeth!), and classes start on the 27th, so I'm thinking I'm going to want a little bit of time to unwind and decompress before getting back into the swing of school again.

Josh's brother Taggert (probably not spelled right) is in town for the weekend. He's in the Marines, nearly done with his classes and training at nearby(ish) Twentynine Palms. He's training to be an air traffic controller, I believe. Very nice guy, very much like his brother. They have a lot of similarities despite being seven years apart in age. I'm trying to enlighten him to the ways of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He seems receptive.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. Ross is going to be getting some work done at the office, and I'm trying to decide if I want to go in or not. I'm not sure what I'd get done, probably a lot of the packaging of comics to be mailed, which does need to be done. Ross said he doesn't really care one way or the other, if I come in or not, so I'm sitting here wondering. I mean, it's probably not like I'm going to have much of anything else to do tomorrow except catch up on my reading and movie-watching, which I would like to do. I'm gonna try to get some of that done today, too. Sarah, Josh and his brother are probably going to the beach, so I think I'm gonna hang around here and relax, read some Yiddish Policemen's Union and watch a some movies. I need to watch last week's Sopranos still, too.

Anyway, maybe I'll do a half day tomorrow.

What else has been goin' on ... not much, really. We went to Amoeba yesterday. I found the 3-disc Director's Cut edition of Hellboy for only $25, which is a really good price.

I've used half a tank of gas in one week of driving to and from the office in Century City (and some ancillary driving), a mere seven miles away. One-hundred miles on half a tank of gas. Not exactly the best fuel efficiency there. Still, gas prices aren't as high as I originally feared, which is not to say they're not high, just not much higher than the rest of the country. I saw gas yesterday for $3.31, which I can't imagine being too much higher than, say, Omaha.

And speaking of Omaha, I guess my brother and his family, and my grandmother are in town this weekend to celebrate my two nephews' birthdays, which are only, what, three days apart. I can't say I'm missing the craziness. Sure, it's great when everyone gets together like that, for a little while, but sooner rather than later the insanity of all the kids (and Grandma) starts to really get to you, and there's really no where to get away from it.

So I hope they're all having a wonderful time, and I'm sure I'll get to experience the fun in November when Bill and the kids probably come back for Thanksgiving. Until then, I'm going to enjoy the peace and quiet of Melrose Ave.

What else ... I think that might be about it. I'm gonna go hop in the shower real quick, I think, before I start readin'. Don't forget to check out pictures from yesterday, and the short videos of Dancin' Sarah.


Day 3 and Counting

Yesterday was the boss's birthday and this morning I was invited out for dinner and drinks in celebration. We went to this big outdoor mall near the office, and after I lost sight of Ross in the parking garage (we both drove, with me following), I wandered around the restaurants until I stumbled upon the group, which included: Ross (the boss), his fiancee Johanna (a writer of various things, including, I learned, lesbian pirate fanfic - "Argh, I love bein' a pirate!"), Mike Alan Nelson (a Boom! writer - you'll sense a theme here soon), Andy Cosby and his wife (whose name I sadly forget - Cori, maybe?), Corey, Mark Waid and the Kung Fu Monkey himself, John Rogers. That's enough name dropping for one night, I think.

Needless to say, I was in comic geek heaven.

They were all super nice and I heard a lot of great stories, none of which I think I should repeat here. Suffice it to say, I was in stitches for the majority of the evening. Not to mention beer and food (curry-basted shrimp and steak - mmmmm).

That's actually the best part about the job thus far. No, not the beer and food, though that was great, too. No, what I'm referring to is the stories, the behind-the-scenes stuff. I sit in Ross's office, across the desk from him, because there's no where else for me to sit. So I get to hear his phone conversations and I get to pick his brain about the industry. There are so many really fuckin' cool things that I know Boom! is going to be doing, but I can't talk about any of them. But trust me. Really Fuckin' Cool.

Yesterday and today were kind of more of the same. Packing up comics to be shipped off to creators, and taking 360 pounds worth of comics to DHL to be shipped to New York for next week's Book Expo. Believe me, that's something I'm not looking forward to ever do again. Nine 40 pound boxes. Not fun. But it did get me out of the office for nearly an hour toward the end of the day, so that was a plus. It was gorgeous outside. Low 70s and sunny. Again, a little windy, but I think that's a worthwhile trade-off.

Not sure what's on tap for tomorrow, though I'm sure boxes and envelopes and packing tape will be involved somehow. So I shall bid y'all adieu for now. I'm sure I'll have more to write in the next day or two.

Be good.


Day 1 @ Boom!

Orientation day, I guess. Met the guy I've been talking to the past few weeks, Cody. Seems like a good guy. He's fairly new to the company, too. Just moved out here from Chicago about four or five months ago. He's sort of a jack-of-all-trades at Boom! I'm still learning the ropes, learning how the business operates, so I'm still not entirely certain of what he does.

The publisher, Ross Richie, also seems like a good guy. Very funny, good sense of humor, and definitely knows his way around both the comic and film industries. The company is sort of in a transition phase right now, and my first duties today included helping move supplies and equipment from the old offices to the new offices down the hall. All this moving around left me with no where to work, really, so I was sitting in Ross' office, across the desk from him while he and I worked, so I got a quick peek at how he does his job, talking with writers and producers.

For my part today, aside from the manual labor, I put together comics for Web orders from the past couple of weeks. I'll work on getting them in the mail tomorrow, I think, and putting together the orders that came in over the weekend. It's just grunt work right now, but this is the kind of stuff I was expecting right off the bat. I'm sure I'll be learning more of the ins and outs as the weeks go by.

Going back to that transition phase I mentioned earlier, within the next couple weeks the company will probably be moving again. I might hold off on taking pictures of the office until we get to more permanent digs. Where we are right now isn't very special, just an office, y'know?

This company, Ross Richie himself, he and his partner, writer Andy Cosby, have their fingers in all the things I really enjoy: comics, films, TV. Richie just strikes me as a very creative individual. He wants nothing more than to facilitate the production of cool stories, whether in comic book form or film or whatever. He gets together writers and artists and producers and gets stories told. I can already tell that this is going to be a great environment to be around.

I'll have more tomorrow, though I'm thinking it'll be more of the same for a little while, at least until we get into our permanent offices.

Hope all y'all are doin' well.


Settling in

I begin my internship Monday morning at 9. I drove past the building today, just to see where it is, see how long it might take me to get there. It's pretty close, less than seven miles, but with traffic it'll still take 20 - 30 minutes. I'll have pictures of the office next week, I'm sure.

I added yesterday's driving pictures to the Flickr set. There's also a few pictures of the room I'm gonna be living in for the summer. I've been working on getting my stuff somewhat organized and arranged. It's kind of cramped in there, but it'll do for the short time that I'm here.

You might be asking yourself, Where are pictures of my hosts? And I'll get on that later tonight. I meant to snap one or two of Sarah last night while she was showing me around the apartment, but I was pretty wiped out from the drive. I gave it little more than a passing thought.

Didn't even get to see Josh last night. He was working late and didn't get home 'til about midnight, and I was fast asleep by then. He'll hopefully be home at a more reasonable time this evening, so I can, you know, say "hi."

They have cats. Three of them. There's hair all over the place. I'm gonna try to keep the door to the room I'm in closed most of the time. I'd very much prefer to keep the cats off my clothes at least until I'm wearing them.

Driving around the city brought back many a memory of my previous time in this part of the country. I recognized a number of streets, found the CBS studio where I would go for the Nebraska Coast Connection meetings. I'm only going to be in town for the June and July meetings, but I'm gonna try to go to both.

Sarah and I drove past the Golden Apple comic book store on Melrose last night. It's only a couple miles from the apartment. There's another store, called Secret Headquarters, on Sunset that I'd like to check out. I've heard good things about them. And, of course, we can't forget the Secret Stash, Kevin Smith's comic book store in Westwood. So many stores, so little money.

In fact, I'm not planning on buying any comics while I'm out here. It's an unpaid internship, which is kinda crappy, but the contacts I'll (hopefully) make should more than make up for it. Point being, I can't afford to be buying comics right now. The store in Omaha is still pulling my books while I'm out here, so I'll have quite a hefty pile waiting for me when I get back. But, when I get back, I'll have my school loan money, and my job on campus, so no worries there.

You might notice, looking at the pictures, that there really aren't any of the City of Angels itself. I would've taken some, but traffic is so crazy around the city, I really didn't want to take my hands off the wheel. Just do a Google Image search for "Los Angeles" if you're curious.

It might take a few days before I get used to the different time zone. I think I'm still on Omaha time. My body feels as if it's two hours later than it actually is. It's only a quarter to 5 here, but I'm already feeling tired. It's almost like jetlag.

Anyway. That's probably enough for now. I'm not sure how much I'll post over the weekend, but I'll definitely be back Monday with my initial thoughts about the internship.

Los Angeles Is Burning

I'm here. I'm exhausted. Pictures and details tomorrow. Right now all you get is today's playlist:

Green Day - Dookie, Nimrod, American Idiot

Kay Hanley - Cherry Marmalade

Hera - Don't Play This

Garbage - Garbage, Version 2.0, beautifulgarbage, Bleed Like Me

Bad Religion - The Gray Race, The Empire Strikes First (the album from which this blog title came from)


America @ 80 MPH 2007

Pictures are up.

Gallup, New Mexico

After I got past Lincoln on Monday, I didn't really have much traffic to deal with on the interstate. There were many times when I appeared to be the only car on the road, which was definitely fine with me. Of course, that all changed once I got off I-76 and merged with Denver/Boulder traffic on my way to my brother's place. I got into town about an hour before what I generally think of as "rush hour," yet it was pretty bumper-to-bumper until I turned off onto the main street my brother lives off of (that is a horrible sentence).

I pulled out of the driveway this morning at 8, got gas, and was on the highway at approximately 8:20. Needless to say, the morning rush hour was in full swing. Traffic was pretty heavy until I got past Colorado Springs (I drove past Cheyenne Mountain, home of the SGC - hee hee hee). For most of today's driving, traffic wasn't too bad at all. There were a few bottlenecks, due to construction, but I drove about 600 miles in nine and a half hours (including a few stops for food and bodily functions), which isn't too shabby, if I do say so myself.

There will be numerous pictures on the Flickr site a little bit later. I need to transfer them to my computer first, but Bones is on in a minute, and then I need to get some dinner, so, you know, after that. Fear not, though, "America @ 80 MPH" is alive and well.

Today's playlist:

Rancid - Let's Go, ... And Out Come the Wolves, Life Won't Wait

Rage Against the Machine - Renegades

Deadsy - Commencement

Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere

The Good, the Bad & the Queen - The Good, the Bad & the Queen

Gorillaz - Gorillaz, Demon Days

Gravity Kills - Gravity Kills

More later.



So I'm in Denver. I left Omaha at nine yesterday morning and pulled into the driveway of my brother's house a little after four local time. It was a long drive. My back really started killing me after about four or five hours. I was ready to pop some pain meds while driving, but figured I should wait 'til I got here.

While driving (sorry, no "America @ 80 MPH" photos taken yesterday - you've all seen Nebraska, flatter than a girl with the body of a 12-year-old boy), I went through about nine CDs. I've really mastered the art of switching out CDs while flying down the highway.

My playlist yesterday consisted of:

Bad Religion - All Ages

Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero

Social Distortion - Mainliner, Mommy's Little Monster, Prison Bound, Social Distortion, Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell, White Light, White Heat, White Trash, Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll


Tool - 10,000 Days

Yes, I listened to every Social Distortion album I have, in chronological order.

My brother and his wife and kids all seem to be doing well. (I put a picture of my Denver-based niece and nephew on Flickr.) While Bill's at work and Charlize is at school, Luann, Logan and I are gonna go do ... something. Something that'll hopefully tire him out. So I should take off.

More tomorrow night, maybe, from wherever I end up after another day of driving.


Goings on

My brother-in-law's grandfather, Howard Ruback, died yesterday. Howard had spent the last six months in the nursing home my mother works at, before being taken to the hospital a few days ago. The funeral is tomorrow.

Howard was one of the first people my parents met when we moved to Omaha 28 years ago. He was always involved with the synagogue and helped make my parents feel welcome. He was a good friend to my father.

I never knew Howard as well as my father did, or, of course, as well as my brother-in-law. He was a big guy, with a deep, gravelly voice and the hearty laugh of someone who enjoys laughing, and that's what I'm going to remember the most, I think.

He cared about his family, and about his synagogue. He enjoyed poker night with the guys every couple weeks. I remember him at my sister's wedding, beaming with pride as he served as his grandson's best man, and when my sister's children were born. Those kids, all his great-grandchildren, put such a big smile on his face.

My thoughts and condolences obviously go out to my brother-in-law and his family, my mishpocha. I honestly can't imagine how they're feeling right now. I mean, I can certainly empathize with them, but I've yet to have someone I was really close to die, so I don't really know how I'd feel, let alone how anyone else would feel.

I'm leaving Monday, for Denver. I'm going to spend a day or so with my brother and his family before I continue on to Los Angeles. I haven't seen them since ... Thanksgiving, maybe? I'll get to observe my crazy niece and nephew in their natural habitat, so that'll be fun.

I'll continue out west Wednesday morning. I'm planning on heading south into New Mexico, and then hanging a right at Albuquerque and taking I-40 the rest of the way to L.A. I'll be taking my time, relatively speaking. I'm in no particular hurry. I want to get to my friends' apartment sometime next weekend, so I should have plenty of time.

And yes, before you ask, there will be yet another edition of "America @ 80 MPH," because I know you're all begging for more blurry photos taken from inside my car as I speed down the highway. I'll be taking and uploading plenty of pictures of this trip, and of my time at Boom! Studios. Part of my assignment for this internship, since I'm getting college credit for it, is to write a couple papers about the experience, one when I've been there for a little while and then a second one when toward the end of the summer, so I'm planning on keeping a relatively detailed account of L.A. and the internship on the blog, along with some visual aids on my Flickr page.

I've got a suitcase packed already, with the majority of my clothes, and then I'll pack a smaller duffel bag on Sunday with what I'll be needing for the drive out there. I need to go through my CDs (yes, some people still listen to CDs) and choose my traveling music, and decide what, if any, DVDs and books I'm gonna want to bring. I have no idea how much free time this internship will afford me, and I want to be prepared.

Got the car washed yesterday, and while it's probably already got some bird crap on it, the inside is nice and clean and smellin' like cherries, which was kind of the main purpose. And I hadn't gotten that thing washed since before winter, so it really needed it.

Oh, and I got all A's this semester. My cumulative GPA is over 3.2 and, more importantly, I am officially a senior. Only two more semesters to go. Unless, of course, I get offered a $50,000-per-year job while I'm in L.A. Cause then school could wait some more. ;)

Okay, time to get showered and shaved and ready for the day. I want to buy a new pair of jeans before I go, and maybe a couple more T-shirts. And tonight, I guess, the family is goin' down to Rosenblatt for the Royals game. My nephew and his baseball team (T-ball team? Coach-pitch softball team? Whatever) get to walk around the field before the game or something, so that'll be fun, and it'll help take our minds off tomorrow's business for a few hours.

Unless something incredibly vital happens in the next couple days, the next time I post, I'll probably be in Colorado. Y'all got my email and phone number if you need me.


Spider-Man 3

Sam Raimi's third (final?) Spider-film is a fun and frenetic thrill ride, with amazing action set pieces and sensational special effects. It's chock full of heroes and villains, humor and angst, falls from grace and emotional redemptions. In fact, it's full of so much plot, it might be just a tad bit too much.

When I first heard that Spider-Man 3 was going to have three villains (the Sandman, Venom and a new Goblin), I was skeptical. I thought, "Isn't that an awful lot to fit into a two-plus hour long movie?" And it would appear that my fears were well-founded. It's not that this is a bad movie. Far from it. It's just that characterization seems to have gotten lost amongst all the action and plot. Juggling all the story arcs in this film must have been a difficult task for Raimi and his fellow screenwriters, and I can't help but wonder why they felt they needed so much.

The movie is just ... it's kind of bogged down because of all the characters and plot points, which is not to say it's confusing or convoluted. There's just A LOT going on and two hours and 20 minutes simply isn't enough time for that much story. Maybe they could've dropped a villain or expanded the stories into a third and fourth films, filmed them back to back like the Matrix and Pirates of the Caribbean sequels.

For instance, in Spider-Man 2, we're introduced to Dr. Otto Octavius, who quickly becomes a friend and mentor to our young hero, Peter Parker. We get to know him and his wife, we get to like them, which makes her death and his grief-stricken crime spree all the more painful and sympathetic. We get no such characterization for either of our new villains in the new film. We barely get to know them before they're locked in mortal combat with Spider-Man. We learn enough, I suppose, to service the plot, but it feels like there could have been so much more to them and we barely scraped the surface.

And I didn't like how they retconned (retroactive continuity; a fanboy term) Thomas Haden Church's Sandman into the first film's plot. The criminal who Peter let get away in the first movie, the lowlife who murdered Uncle Ben and started Peter on his journey to becoming a hero, well, he apparently had an accomplice, Flint Marko (Church). And it was Marko who actually shot Uncle Ben, not the thief who Peter chased down and watched as he fell to his death at the pier, thus negating the entire reason Peter became Spider-Man in the first place. I just can't buy it.

I know why they put it in there. They needed a plot point that would get Peter all emotional and full of rage so that he would be more susceptible to the black goop from outer space (Venom), a symbiote that feeds off its hosts aggression. But it simply doesn't fit. It's like putting a square peg in a round hole. What, all of a sudden, years later, the police have witnesses that make another guy the shooter? How could they not have known about this guy right from the start? It's just ... it's a stretch, all right?

Topher Grace's Venom, however, was pretty fuckin' cool, though he didn't really show up until the last 20 minutes or so.

I was disappointed with Bryce Dallas Howard's Gwen Stacy (Peter's first girlfriend in the original comics), who makes little more than a starry-eyed cameo. She was written in such a way that she could have been any character. There was no need for her to be the Gwen Stacy, who was such an important part of Peter's comic book life.

I like how they handled Harry Osborn (James Franco)'s arc, aside from the ever-popular deus ex machina known as selective amnesia. That's always kind of a cheat. But Harry really came full circle from the first film to this one. He had as much of an emotional journey as anyone over the course of the three films.

The acting is great all around (Bruce Campbell's cameo as a French maitre d' is hilarious) and the camera work is mostly wonderful, with a few aerial acrobatic scenes in which it was a little difficult to follow the action. The movie has a nice sense of closure (in case this is the last film by Raimi, Maguire and Dunst), but also has an optimistic, if weary, eye toward the future, as there are always more Spider-Man tales to be spun.

All that being said, Spider-Man 3 is a lot of fun, even if it's slightly overflowing with ideas. I would have preferred either a slimmed down version or, like I said above, two films to encompass everything that Raimi wanted to show us. The second film is still my favorite, but I really did enjoy this one. I just wanted to enjoy it so much more than I did, and I couldn't.


Social D

Great fuckin' concert. Everything I'd hoped it would be and more, except for no "Story of My Life," but I can live with that.

Hard to believe Social Distortion has been kicking ass for about as long as I've been alive. The band formed in late 1978. Fans at the show ranged in age from teens to people in their mid-to-upper 40s. I even saw a little kid, like, 8 or 10 years old. It was really cool to see all the different types of people who dig Social D's music, which varies wildly from song to song, too.

They have their fast-paced punk rock, of course, but then they slow it down some with some covers of old country songs and some blues. There's rockabilly and honky-tonk. They cover just about everything, y'know? And it all sounds great. Lead singer Mike Ness just has one of those voices that fits a lot of different kinds of music.

And, to my utter delight, they closed the show with their cover of Johnny Cash's great "Ring of Fire." Of course, for all I know, they might close every concert with that song, but this was my first time seeing them, so I was pretty pumped. I love Cash's version of the song, don't get me wrong, but somehow it feels more alive, more visceral when Social Distortion plays it.

Like I said, I'm a bit bummed they didn't do "Story of My Life," but they did "Prison Bound," "Bad Luck" and "Mommy's Little Monster," and the aforementioned "Ring of Fire," so I can't really complain. They also played a great new song, "Far Behind," which is going to be available for the first time on their Greatest Hits album when that comes out in a couple months.

I have now seen live, in-person performances of all the bands I've needed to see. Social D completed my set: Bad Religion, Pearl Jam, Social Distortion. The only band left that I really want to see (as opposed to need) is, well, any one of Damon Albarn's bands, I guess. Blur, Gorillaz or The Good, the Bad & the Queen. I've seen everyone else: Dropkick Murphys, NIN, Tool, Stone Temple Pilots, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Soundgarden, pre-suckage Metallica ... I'd kill to see the reunited Rage Against the Machine, though. I guess they're doing a small handful of post-Coachella shows (one is in San Bernardino, which is about an hour inland from L.A., on August 11 - that would be worth hanging around Cali for), but I have my fingers crossed about a new album and a big, nationwide tour. You cross your fingers, too, and maybe it'll happen.

Oy, my ears are ringing. I always forget to buy earplugs before I go to a show, probably because I go to so few these days. My next concert will be ... something in L.A., maybe? If not, who knows? Maybe a cool tour will role through town in the fall.

Anyway. Bedtime.

Oh, and Monday night's episode of Heroes: fuckin' awesome.