Friday, August 29, 2008
The first issue opens with an introduction to the Family via flashback. Pyralis, the father, is shown drawing flames from a forest fire up into the sky while his wife Sirocco draws the oxygen away using a vortex of her own creation. Their son Troylus brings a tidal wave to douse the flames, while their youngest son Terran evacuates civilians on a flying rock. It's actually refreshing to see an introduction done like this for the reader.
The introduction continues as the family is interviewed by another hero in his secret identity as a reporter. The exposition that follows gives a nice, detailed history of the team in their home of Storm City.
While the elemental quartet idea is by no means an original concept, it is a welcome sight to see a comic book that I can read to my daughter without having to edit the dialogue first. And the art? Well, let's just say that I was thinking of Mike Wieringo two weeks ago on the anniversary of his death, and this book made me think about him again. Tim Levins has adapted some of my favorite elements of 'Ringo's style, from the highlights in hair to the shadows of the wrinkles in an ordinary pair of pants. Add a cover by Sean "Cheeks" Galloway, and you have a real winner in this comic.
Originally scheduled as a six-issue miniseries, initial orders of #1 caused DC to cut it back to three. Give this book a try, and let's see if we can't get some more issues of a comic that deserves it!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
I've divided my students up into four-person teams, and I have them compete for points when we review our homework each day. I use a spinner to determine which team gets the opportunity to answer, and each team's leader gets a four-sided die to determine which of the team members is the one to answer. If the student doesn't know the answer or doesn't know which question we're on, we quickly move on. If we don't have homework to grade that day, I check to see who has their materials. At the end of the week, I give a quiz. Students who get 80% or better earn one point for their team, and students who get them all right earn two points. The team with the highest accumulated points wins the week. They get prizes, ranging from candy bars to mechanical pencils to money, and they also get to choose where in the room they will sit the next week.
I treat the whole thing like a big game show, and they seem to respond to it. I will probably make small changes to the rules as we go, and I'll need to mix it up so they don't get bored with it. I'm encouraged, though. It's a good start.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
My buddy Rob picked up a ticket for me when he was in Indianapolis on Thursday, which saved hours of waiting in line. He drove us down this morning and we walked right past hundreds of people standing in line.
I got to talk to Steve Long, former attorney and gamer who used to belong to a Champions Amateur Press Alliance (APA) with me and several other Champions players. He bought the Hero Games property some years ago and has developed it well enough that it was snapped up by Cryptic Studios for its next project. He is very excited about this new project, as well as the upcoming 6th edition of the Hero System rules. I don't blame him. The character costume generator alone on this new game is simply amazing. It's quite an upgrade over CoH. You can literally watch the muscle tone of your character change as you move an onscreen slider. It's that detailed! Game play looks very fast, and there are comic book fonts on the screen in both word balloons and captions. Instead of fully painted characters like CoH has, Champions Online characters appear to be drawn with line art with colors that are a little flatter and more like comic book art. It makes for an effective illusion that you are playing in a comic book story.
Champions Online will be released as both an Xbox 360 and a PC game, and if you have the PC version, you can either use a special Xbox controller or your keyboard and mouse. This looks like fun!
I passed by the WizKids booth in time to see a live Heroclix demonstration too. And when I say live, I mean they used living people as the Heroclix! They had actors playing Mr. Fantastic, Spider-Man (shown above), Daredevil, and Ms. Marvel. Each of them had a scaled up Heroclix dial, and a giant board to play on. They had little kids roll giant dice to resolve the actions. What a way to introduce them to the game!
Ms. Marvel apparently had the ability to withstand a giant wedgie. I'm not sure where that ability is on the dial, but she had it for the whole game!
I also picked up a book that I've been waiting for for quite some time. Green Ronin Publishing had advance copies of their Wild Cards sourcebook for Mutants & Masterminds. I'm really looking forward to reading this one!
I also had lunch with two of my teacher friends, one of whom having moved to Tennessee this summer. We ate at Buca di Beppo and had some amazing Italian food. I got to see several of my South Bend area gaming friends and even one of my CoH friends, Ben, who lives in New Jersey. When I got home, I got a huge hug from my daughter, whom I had not seen all day. I brought her back a pink stuffed bear dressed as a ballerina in a purple tutu. She loved it.
All in all, I'd say it was a great day.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
I admit this so that I have a little more credibility when I say that I am excited about this image. This is Zachary Quinto as Spock in the upcoming Star Trek movie. Zachary plays the main villain Sylar on Heroes, and in this picture, he looks like he could be Leonard Nimoy's son.
J.J. Abrams is directing this movie, and if he gives the Enterprise crew as many layers as he has given the characters in Lost, this could be as great a rebirth as the new James Bond franchise promises to be.
You can find this and other images of the new Star Trek crew at this site.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Once we got there, my dad showed us around. He and Dee have a great little ranch just on the south side of Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. Dad had to show me his shop, which was the first thing they built. Here, he shows off his car and tractor collection. He's owned a lot of these cars and tractors in his lifetime, but not the 1950s Batmobile in the lower right corner:
Lots and lots of guns...oh, and knives too:
Here, he shows the medicine bag he had made for my late grandmother, whose great grandmother was Mohawk. Yes, I'm 1/64 Native American:
You might have guessed correctly that my father is into Westerns. Here is some of his memorabilia, including a signed photo of Clayton Moore as The Lone Ranger that my brother and I got him some years ago:
And that IS a Cylon helmet containing the Battlestar Galactica series DVD set I gave him for Christmas. Hey, it's good to have varied tastes!
My dad often uses this getaway spot to sleep in the middle of the night. He suffers from spinal arthritis that the strongest painkillers can't touch sometimes, and the only way he can sleep is in a chair. He was in a car accident when my mother was pregnant with me, that is responsible. His breastbone was broken by the steering column and he broke every one of his ribs...from the back. He also broke both legs. He almost died and still bears the tracheotomy scar on his throat. I'm just grateful he gets to spend his twilight years surrounded by the things that he loves.
Next time: The trip to Cedar City! With pictures!
Monday, August 04, 2008
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Last night, the tooth next to one of the wisdom teeth I had extracted last November came alive around midnight. I was in so much pain I couldn't even lie still. There was decay there caused by the wisdom tooth facing up against it and I had a simple filling put in about a month ago, right before we left on vacation. The doctor said I might need to have a root canal because the filling was so close to the gumline, and as usual, he was right. Murphy's Law seems to run wild with my wisdom teeth. So, after a combination of Ibuprofen and a healthy dose of Sera's Baby Orajel, I was able to get some sleep...but not much, until about 3:30.
This morning, when I felt semi-human, I called the doctor's emergency number and got in to see someone and he wasted no time in shooting my mouth full of painkillers and getting to work. 45 minutes later, I walked out pain-free, but numbed up so much I couldn't talk clearly. I'll have to have the rest of the work done next week, but at least the tooth isn't pounding like it has its own pulse.
If you are younger than 40 and haven't had your wisdom teeth out yet, I highly recommend it. I have had every possible bad side effect that the doctor has warned me about so far, and it's mostly because I waited so long to have them out.
Friday, August 01, 2008
When we got home from vacation, I started shopping online for a bicycle. I found a couple that were reasonably priced, but Magi suggested that I visit our local bicycle shop, House of Bicycles. She sure was right!
I hadn't had a bike that wasn't a Huffy since I was old enough to ride a two-wheeler, and my last bike was a ten-speed that I bought during my senior year in college that didn't even make it through a summer before I returned it because the nuts that needed to be turned to adjust the brakes kept snapping. It was not well-made. There have been several advances in bicycles since 1987, apparently.
The bikes I had been looking at had 19" frames, and the one that the owner of House of Bicycles picked out for me to try had a 22" frame. I liked it well enough, but it was black and green, which I didn't really care for. The next one he picked out was even bigger, a 23" frame Raleigh hybrid with a 24-speed Shimano deraileur that was electric blue. He adjusted the seat for me, took the time to explain how and why the seat could be adjusted to way higher than I would have ever done for myself and then helped me pick out the right accessories for it by asking me what I would be using it for.
There's really something to be said for customer service in local specialty shops. I bought my camera the same way from a place in Elkhart. No matter the problem, I can always go talk to a person with expertise who is happy to answer and help me in any way they can. The people at this store are the same way. They guided me in the right direction and built me a bike to last. They made sure that I got fenders to protect my clothes should I decide to ride to work (measured today at 7.5 miles, but along scary roads with lots of traffic--maybe not) and a cargo rack with webbing to keep my stuff from falling off. I got a headlight and taillight, an electronic speedometer/odometer and, of course, a water bottle and mount.
I picked the bike up at 6:00 last night, and by my second ride at 8:30 this morning I had already ridden ten miles, all without pain. I had to have them make one adjustment, raising the handlebars a little so I could sit straighter in the saddle, but otherwise everything has been perfect. It's great to feel the wind evaporate the sweat instantly as I ride. I can ride longer without overheating, my knees and back feel great, and I get my pulse rate up for a good long time. This may be the answer I've been looking for!
Now, does anyone want a lightly-used Jeep Overland Stroller at a reasonable price?
"We should also offer more choices to those who wish to become teachers. Many thousands of highly qualified men and women have great knowledge, wisdom, and experience to offer public school students. But a monopoly on teacher certification prevents them from getting that chance. You can be a Nobel Laureate and not qualify to teach in most public schools today because they don't have all the proper credits in educational 'theory' or 'methodology.' All they have is learning and the desire and ability to share it. If we're putting the interests of students first, then those qualifications should be enough."
I am growing to hate politics. I really am. Putting politicians in charge of education is like putting candy manufacturers in charge of preventing tooth decay. Anyone who thinks that educational "methodology" is not important needs to shut the frak up about education...right now. It's like saying that all you need to do is take a few anatomy courses to be a doctor. Methods courses teach the very structure of the educational system, including ethics, assessment validity, and the essence of cognitive and affective development. Almost every college professor I had possessed a PhD and most of them couldn't teach their way out of a wet paper bag. It's not just about mastering the subject material. It's about being able to convey it to students of various ages with a wide array of pre-existing understanding in an effective way.
It's about teaching, Stupid.