Shameless

So I wrote this article over at Geek Smash. It’s pretty geeky, for sure. It’s about comic books.

(You should still read it.)

There are many more coming.

Yup. And in case you were unsure on how to get caught up on #hawkguy, well, I fixed that for you.
Comics Catch Up: Marvel’s “Hawkeye”

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How Not To Get Rich Reading Comics

An acquaintance said to me several weeks ago, “Oh, I didn’t know you collect comics,” to which I responded, “I don’t. I read them.” I sheepishly apologized for being a smart ass, but underneath the sass the sentiment was sincere.

I went on an organizing spree before we left for Pittsburgh for the holidays and attempted to catalog all of my comic books. In hindsight this was a laughable endeavor; I neither finished the job itself nor got to a reasonable stopping point that would be useful to pick up from next time. Instead, I spent a number of late night hours making stacks of favorite titles, building spreadsheets and reminiscing about reading comics in the early 90s.

(No one has ever said that before.)

But I’ve never considered myself a collector. How could I be? I started reading regularly when I was eleven or twelve – old enough to make my own choices about titles, but young enough to be clueless about the industry as a whole. I got hooked on characters (I still do) rather than creators, although the Rob Liefeld influence was impossible to escape in those years.

I bounced from Marvel to Image and back again, dabbled with Vertigo but never mainstream DC books. If I found a character I liked, I tried to read every title in which that character appeared. Or was featured. Or mentioned. Obnoxious crossovers were made for kids like me.

Cannonball was the first character I remember going out of my way to find. Liefeld created X-Force in 1991 at the end of his New Mutants run, and there was a lot of big corporate publicity about the new title. For some reason rather than being excited about Cable or Domino or perennial favorite Deadpool (!!) I was swooning over a goofy kid in goggles with a lazy Southern drawl. I am positive it was his affected speech pattern that caught my attention (and not his wormy hair) although I also got sucked into the whole Externals is-he-or-isn’t-he storyline. I let Cannonball guide my reading for years. And when the previews for Hickman and Opeña’s Avengers #1 came out this past fall featuring dear ol’ Sam Guthrie on the cover, twelve year old me totally squealed out loud.

(Hickman isn’t writing him with the drawl, though! Twelve year old me was sad. Thirtysomething year old me is pretty stoked for this book and got over it. It’s also a lot easier to read.)

(After my infatuation with Sam came Clint Barton, first by way of his Thunderbolts appearances and then with the Avengers. My love for Hawkeye’s unique combination of self-deprecating wit, defensive arrogance and mad marksman skills remains to this day. I have a lot more to say about his classic redemption arc, how I think he’s the heart of the team and ultimately why Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye is the best new series of 2012, but I’ll save that for another time.)

More than twenty years later I’m pretty sure I don’t own any single issues worth more than $10. I have some Death TPBs signed by Neil Gaiman, but they’re for reading not hoarding. And I was lucky enough to have Chris Ware sign my copy of Building Stories, but it’s not going to just sit on a shelf wrapped in plastic.

Maybe it’s because I’m such a tactile person, but collecting comics always struck me as a sad alternative to the rich escapism and excitement that reading them could provide. An open door vs. a closed door, if you will.

Instead, I buy them – print and digital and sometimes multiple copies of each with variant covers because I swear I will buy anything David Aja draws yes he is that good – and I read them – over and over and over – and I share them – with friends and family and hopefully more with my son as he gets older – and I kind of love them a little bit.

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.
-Walt Disney

Nah. Not rich at all.

Pants on Fire

(My mom is going to have a field day with this one.)

So Avi has been fibbing. A lot. Almost always to cover up for something that he didn’t do (getting dressed for school, putting away his hockey equipment, finishing his homework) because instead he was doing something he’d rather do (mostly, read for fun).

I get it. I really do. I get lost in books all the time, and have for as long as I can remember. There is almost nothing negative I can say about that trait- except for the time management component, and it took me years to find a balance for it myself. (Some would argue I still haven’t.) He’s reading- and comprehending- almost four grade levels ahead, and consuming books at a voracious pace.* There is nothing cooler than watching your 7 year old fall in love with a book you remember reading at his age AND THEN TALKING WITH HIM ABOUT IT. I made my own private book club, you guys.

That being said, the fibbing thing? Opposite of cool. And he’s SO BAD AT IT. Not that I want him to be a good liar, but whoa. (Was I that bad at lying as a kid, mom? Probably. I always got caught.) He has like six definite physical tells, ranging from the way his eyes move to how he juts out his chin to the insistent tone of voice he uses. And then the things he says! For a kid with a super imagination, he really doesn’t put a lot of effort into creative explanations.

Last week he had a “book report” worksheet for school. We have a deal that he doesn’t have to use one of his regular chapter books for these worksheets, since they’re designed to be used with second grade level books. He basically has to write a sentence or two describing the beginning, middle and end of the story, so rather than trying to summarize Harriet The Spy in six sentences he uses something like Lyle, Lyle Crocodile.

I walked past his room and he was sitting on the floor reading a different book. I reminded him that he needed to finish his homework and that dinner would be ready in half an hour. Plenty of time. When I walked back to check on him right before dinner, he was still on the floor reading the same book. Okay. Not catastrophic, although kind of a bummer that he’d have to go back to working after dinner. But here’s where everything went sideways. When I said, “Avi, you were supposed to be finishing your homework,” he fake-startled, looked at me, looked at the book in his hands and said, “Oh! I must have picked up the wrong book by accident!”

Uh, what?

He then spent the entire dinner arguing that he had in fact gotten the wrong book accidentally and just hadn’t noticed, despite the fact that that didn’t make any sense whatsoever in this particular configuration of time and space. By the time he finished eating, he was finally able to acknowledge that he had just gotten caught up in the book he wanted to read and then was frustrated and embarrassed that he’d missed the chance to complete his homework as planned. Also annoyed that he’d gotten caught. Seriously, he said that. “It’s annoying to me that you noticed.” Sorry, buddy.

I’m torn about how to handle this. I don’t want the fibbing to continue or get worse, and I don’t want to discourage the reading. I want him to take care of the things he needs to take care of, and I want to give him the supervised autonomy to do them without me hucking him every five minutes. Is it impossible to have it both ways?

My Soapbox, or Win Tickets To “The Sound of Music” For Your Family!

I’ve been traveling a lot for work lately. Last week was Chicago, next week is Baltimore. All great trips, but it really hits home how much I love my family when I’m away from them for a couple (or more) days. On top of that, we’ve been so busy already this summer with camp and hockey and ballet – all for Avi, of course – that when we are home we like to sloooooooow down. Much time is spent in the kitchen, and I have a lot of delicious things I should get around to posting, but we’ve also spent some quality time reading and (believe it or not) watching movies. Avi and I finally finished the first Harry Potter book

(Ahem. I have read them all many many many times. He was reading [with me] for the very first time.)

and then I let him watch the movie. We also recently watched one of my favorite movie musicals of all time, “The Sound of Music”. How can you not love this show?! I myself prefer to ignore the political undertones entirely and just enjoy the timeless music. Avi was pretty interested in the puppet show.

I was super excited to see that Pittsburgh CLO is doing the show this summer (that’s right, I said “doing”, as in “locally produced theater”, not a tour) because as everyone knows by this point (and if you don’t, you should) taking kids to live theater is my giant, sparkling clean soapbox. And this! This is theater with kids in it, even! These kids:

They look very Austrian, don’t they?

So, yeah. Pittsburgh CLO’s production of “The Sound of Music” opens next week, and I have a pack of 4 tickets to opening night, Tuesday, July 19, to give away to one lucky reader and his or her family. Just leave a comment below telling me the name of the first show you ever saw. If you want, tell me how old you were, also – but no worries if it was just last week and you’re 42 years old. Theater at any age can be magical. My soapbox has room for everyone. One entry per person, and entries must be in by noon on Sunday, July 17. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner and contact that individual directly.

Even the mountains are wholesome, aren’t they? You know you want to go to there.

Disclaimer: Pittsburgh CLO is providing me with four free tickets to use and four tickets to give away. But you knew that since I explained it up above.  You can purchase tickets for “The Sound of Music” here if you don’t win, but I’ll cross my fingers for you.

What A Difference A Year Makes

First day of kindergarten, August 2010.

Last day of kindergarten, June 2011.

Also, this:

Someone had a great year.

Happy last day of kindergarten, Avi. Enjoy the dress down day, the after-school pizza party, the playground celebration at the Farmhouse. Enjoy hugging your teacher goodbye in that unabashed way only little kids have. Enjoy your first summer at day camp. Enjoy reading on your own, picking out your own books, reading out loud to us. Enjoy ballet. Enjoy hockey. Enjoy life.

We love you muchly.

Readin’ and writin’

Submitted without commentary.

Oh, who am I kidding. Comments below.

Avi was pretty obsessed with Spring Carnival this year. It was a total bummer that the weather was lousy on Saturday, preventing him from actually visiting in person. As you can see above, though, he knows exactly where to find it next year. (A clue: the parking lot.)

April was also National Poetry Month, and Avi decided on the 28th that he wanted to write a poem to read out loud to the whole school the next morning. Apparently a number of kids had already done this, so the logistics and presumption weren’t quite as obnoxious as they sound. This was his first poem, after I suggested he write about “things he likes”. Next time I’ll be more specific. The actual poem he wrote and read (on May 4th, a technicality that bothered him tremendously, as it was no longer the month of poems) was:

I LIKE THE BEECH .BY.  AVI  CHETLIN

THE  BEECH. IS. FUN.  THE. BEECH.  IS.  HOT.   AND.    I.    LIKE.    IT.

A. LOT.   WEL.  WHAT.   DO.   YOU.    KNOW.    ITS.    RANING.

AT.    THE.   BEECH.

(He typed it on my iPad. I didn’t change the punctuation. Um, obviously.)

I don’t correct spelling very often, either. Because honestly? How can you not love “frog fas”?! If you do not love it, in fact, I would propose that you, sir, are a fascist. (And “shawr sop” was part of the shopping list that he was making for me around his drawing.)

We got invited to a show tomorrow. You should be jealous. It’s a special pufirmints that we are nat dresing up for, okay? Kindergarten, I heart you.

Things I’ve missed

An incomplete list of the things I’ve missed these past six weeks of #cmucarnival domination.

1. Cooking. I can’t actually remember the last time I cooked a complete meal from scratch. Bummer. But since our CSA started last week, I have fewer excuses preventing me from picking up this old habit.

2. Grocery shopping. I guess that should have been the first one, since I sure can’t cook until I restock some of our staples. I can’t believe I’m actually admitting this, but I’m really excited to go to the grocery store with a two page list.

3. Reading. I have a veritable stack of New Yorkers taunting me. Good thing I haven’t had time to keep up with the news, either. I figure if I read them all in order, it’ll be like I never missed a thing. I also figure it will take me until 2014 to get caught up.

4. Reading, part 2. Someone else is doing that a lot around here. I blinked and now he’s reading complete books to himself.

photo.JPG

5. Writing. I’ve missed having something to say other than whining about being busy, both here and elsewhere. I have several proposals for work that I’m looking forward to returning to, not to mention all the casual emails I’ve let slip by that I can finally respond to.

6. Writing, part 2. That same someone continues to provide us hours of entertainment with his reminder notes and shopping lists. It’s like having a personal secretary who never went to grammar school. But it’s way more fun to watch him figure it out in the moment, so now that I’m home before bedtime again I can actually do that.

7. Exercise. Spring Carnival is hard work: moving boxes, lugging event supplies, setting up chairs and tables. I was quite sore when everything ended, especially Saturday night. But it’s not the same as actual planned exercise, which I miss. Even the Wii Fit got uppity with me. I spent so long being exhausted that I forgot that exercise can actually help you re-energize. Now that the weather is nicer, I can’t wait to spend more time outside. And we recently got a treadmill so I can reestablish my running routine. Two steps forward, one step back, but at least that’s a net step forward.

8. You. Seriously.