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Originally published at my site. You can comment here or there.

Nine years ago today, I married my best friend. Having her by my side makes the bad times bearable and the good times sweeter and has brought more color and flavor to my life than I might ever have imagined. I love you, Terry, and here’s to ninety more years just as sweet as the first nine.

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Originally published at my site. You can comment here or there.

The Boston Red Sox are back in the World Series, and oh yeah, that makes me squee. I’ve got a good feeling that they’re going to win it, too — yeah, I know the Rockies have won 21 of their last 22 games, but A) they’ll have been off for more than a week by the time game one comes around, and 2) those guys are all newbies to the World Series stage, while the Sox have plenty of veterans who’ve been through this kind of thing before. Also, the Rockies will be more likely to have a case of Just Happy To Be Here syndrome than the Sox will.

There, justifications done. Red Sox in five.

While by no means a bandwagon-jumping Sox fan, I did come sign on to Red Sox Nation fairly late; growing up in Florida, I didn’t really have a favorite baseball team. Our regional team was the Braves, but holy hell were they wretched during my formative years. Once I started dating and eventually married a Massachusetter… Massachusettian… Bostonian, I took on her genetically-bred love for the Red Sox; going to our first game at Fenway in ‘99 (against the Kansas City Royals; Sox won) just cemented my love. My suffering certainly never was near the intense levels of agony that so many lifelong Boston fans endured, but I can appreciate what they went through for all those years.

And now to be looking at winning two championships in four years? It’ll be interesting to see how the next generation of Red Sox fans look at themselves and their team ten or twenty years from now, how kids who grew up with a Sox team who won with some consistency deal with the inevitable down periods (Same goes for kids growing up Patriots fans right now — how will they react the next time the Pats go 3-13?) They’re going to have a fundamentally different relationship with their team from what their parents have. I just hope these proto-fans don’t end up adopting that obnoxious sense of entitlement that Yankees fans exude, that sense that they deserve to win the Series ever year. I’d like to hope that their parents will remind them where they came from, teach them to appreciate the good times when they happen because you never know when an 86-year championship-free stretch will come along.

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Originally published at my site. You can comment here or there.

Today’s happy-making thing is comics/TV author Brian K. Vaughan. Or, rather, Mr. Vaughan’s writings; while I have no doubt that his personal happy-making skills are considerable, I’ve never met the guy, so we’ll just stick with the stuff he’s written for now.I’ve never read any of BKV’s output that I haven’t at least liked, and most of it I’ve absolutely loved. As I told Timmy B. a few days ago, I’m pretty sure Vaughan could write a long-form comics series focusing on the trials and tribulations of a multi-generational clan of overly-flatulent mole rats and I’d dig the hell out of it. The man can almost do no wrong by me, and I say the “almost” only because there’s always a possibility he could write something that just didn’t hit me right. So far, though, that possibility remains theoretical.

I truly love the fact that if you boil most of Vaughan’s works down to the one-sentence high-concept pitch, they don’t necessarily sound like anything exceptional, and can even border on the trite — I love it because it’s proof that execution trumps concept (at least in his case), and that’s inspiring to me as a writer who doesn’t feel like his ideas are anything exceptional. C’mon… Y: The Last Man isn’t exactly the first “last man on Earth” story ever written, but what BKV has done with the story has been moving and compelling and exciting and generally most excellent. I’ll happily leave the “mad ideas” to the likes of Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis, but I’ll take Vaughan’s work over theirs most any day. [1]

Some selected highlights from the Vaughan Oeuvre:

Runaways. Six kids in L.A. discover that their parents are super-villains and, well, run away. Vaughan makes the personalities of each of these kids distinct and appealing in their own way (especially appealing: eleven-year-old mutant Molly). Sure, BKV frequently succumbs to Joss Whedon-esque Real Kids Don’t Talk This Way syndrome (Vaughan actually turned the writing of this book over to Whedon after thirty issues), but hey, what the dialogue lacks in realism it more than makes up for in entertainment value.

Y: The Last Man. As noted above, not the most original concept ever, but just a terrific batch of characters and situations. Y shows off one of the things Vaughan does best: thinking through the ramifications of his setup and of the actions of his characters. Almost every issue of Y features a moment of “Well, duh, of course that’s what would happen if suddenly all the men were gone.”

Pride of Baghdad. A graphic novel based on the true story of four lions who escaped from the ruins of the Baghdad Zoo after the U.S.’s initial attacks on the city in 2003. Disturbing, sad, haunting… and I mean that as a compliment.

Ex Machina. Not quite Runaways-good or Y-good, but still damn enjoyable. One-time superhero Mitchell Hundred uses the goodwill he generated after saving New York City to get himself elected mayor. Ex Machina boasts far more political intrigue than it does big superhero action (though it has a fair share of that, too). Vaughan tries hard to strike some balance and not let Hundred’s liberal tendencies turn this into a left-wing diatribe; Hundred’s idealistic liberalism gets regularly smashed by the realities of a less-than-ideal world. Also: the first issue of Ex Machina features one of the single most breathtaking final pages of any comic I’ve ever read.

Doctor Strange: The Oath. I just read this one last week — thanks, Timmy B! I’ve never cared all that much for Doctor Strange; I didn’t hate him, but neither the character nor the mystical corner of the Marvel Universe he inhabits eever interested me much. Vaughan, however, wrote a Doc Strange I’d be happy to read more about: arrogant without being assholish, fiercely loyal to his friends, charismatic, possessed of a biting sense of humor and immensely powerful.

Vaughan’s been scaling back on his comics work over the last year or so as he’s now a story editor for Lost, which makes me want to watch that show again (as does the presence of Buffy vet Drew Goddard on the writing staff). But as good as Vaughan would be at the TV game if he gets pulled farther in that direction — his episodic storytelling skills seem profoundly influenced by television — I hope he keeps several toes in the comics pool, as I’d truly miss reading his words.

(Cross-posted in a slightly altered form at Jimmy Olsen’s Blues.)


[1] Not knocking either Morrison or Ellis, both of whom consistently pump out entertaining and thought-provoking works of high quality; BKV’s just more to my taste.

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Originally published at my site. You can comment here or there.

I really feel like I should start off this whole 100 Days of Squee thing in by talking about just how amazing my wife is and how happy she makes me. But that’s not what I’m gonna do. Oh, don’t you worry, I’m sure I’ll be talking about her plenty over the course of these hundred happy-making things; I’m sure I could do an entire 100 Days project just on those bits of her which enrich my life. But today I want to start the project off with the little thing that made me so quietly happy yesterday that I had the idea to keep track of these squeeful things in the first place.

Soup.

(Clearly this would be a good place to mention what’s probably pretty obvious: these 100 things aren’t in any sort of order whatsoever. If there’s indeed any such list which would feature “soup” before “my wife,” this ain’t it. These bits of squee will be coming out in the order I feel like writing about ‘em, that’s it. Also, remember how I said I might be touching on the trivial? Um, yeah, that.)

Yes, soup. I do love me some soup, and the soup I had for lunch yesterday — the French onion soup from Panera, filled with yummy melted Asiago — made both my taste buds and my stomach glow with warm happiness. And having lunch with said amazing wife surely didn’t hurt, either. (Hey, lookitme, I managed to make it just a little bit about Terry after all!)

French onion’s certainly one of my favorite soups (and I mean real French onion; as much as I liked the soup from Panera, even that’s a poor/cheap/quick imitation of the real thing), but I don’t get to have it very often since Terry developed a rather intense distaste for it sometime during her younger years. Luckily for me, I have plenty of other soup lurve to satisfy me, notably tomato soup, broccoli-n-cheese soup, potato soup (soooo bad for me, and soooo yummy), egg drop soup, even chicken noodle. McGuire’s Irish Pub, easily the most famous restaurant in my hometown, sells their Senate bean soup for 18 cents a bowl — and I’d gladly pay twenty times that much for it.

Good soup seems to make me feel better spiritually, if indeed it’s possible for a warm-to-hot liquid optionally containing other foodstuffs to do so. The act of eating soup enhappies[1] me, the feeling of the warm-to-hot liquid sliding down my throat into my belly enhappies me, the fact that I don’t have to eat very much to be full enhappies me. So there you have it: soup == squee.

(One day down. Bear with me — I promise these will get better.)

[1] Yes, “enhappies” is so a word. Shut up.

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Originally published at my site. You can comment here or there.

Yes, I know things have been awfully quiet around here lately. I go and get my eyes fixed and all of a sudden, what, I don’t feel like writing anything anymore? What’s with me anyway, huh?

Well, I’ll admit I’ve been more than a bit depressed lately. I don’t want to get into all the whys of it here, but between being down in de dumps and being in one of my very inward-facing phases, I haven’t written a damn thing lately. The problem there is that one of the best ways for me to combat depression is to write my through it. So consider this the start of that.

(It always helps when I’m depressed to put things in some sense of perspective. Even with all of the crap we’ve had going on, I’m still so incredibly, incredibly fortunate and blessed compared to at least ninety percent of the world, and I do know that. I’m physically healthy, my family’s healthy, my kids are happy, I’m not especially wanting for anything material, I’m not being persecuted, and I’m not, so far as I’m aware, in danger of being displaced or executed as part of an ethnic cleansing. Things could be so much worse.)

One of the best ways for me to beat off depression is to focus on all the wonderful bits of my life, all of the things big and small which make me truly happy. To that end I’m enacting 100 Days of Squee, during which I’ll attempt to touch on many of the things, people, events, places and whatnot which bring me some amount of joy. These things might be tiny details or big pictures, important or frivolous, tangible or ethereal. I’m going to try to be as specific as possible with most of the squees because the entire point of the project is for me to look back over the list later when I’m down and remind myself of the things that make me happy so I can beat the down away.

Also, I’m saying this right up front just to take some of the pressure off of me with this project: it’s entirely possible I won’t actually finish all one hundred days. I’m notoriously short of focus with this kind of thing, so if I feel like I’m done and feeling better after, say, fifteen or twenty days, then that’s cool. But I’m certainly going into this with one hundred as the goal.

So that’s that. The project will kick off on Tuesday and I’ll try to update it most weekdays for the next four months or so. Squee ho!

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Allison

March 2012

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