I’ve got a suggestion for sis who is wondering what to get me for Christmas: oven mitts.  I need a new pair.  The realization dawned on me this evening sometime between when I was pulling the cast iron pan out of the oven and when I was leaving the top layer of my fingers on its handle.

Hey, you know what’s apparently even more dangerous than a well-worn oven mitt?  A single stray hair from my french bulldog, Lulu.  If you approach it at just the right angle – say, in your stocking feet when its sitting nestled in the fibers of a carpet – it possesses all the characteristics of a microscopic glass shard, the type of glass shard that slides easily into the bottom of your foot and then resists any attempts to remove it.  Like an Occupy protestor, it settles in for the long haul, irritating the hell out of the pink, healthy flesh around it.

I’ve found the perfect tool for teaching English.  The Far Side Collection!  I kid you not. Akemi and I read ten pages every night before bedtime.  It’s proven both educational and entertaining.  Or should I say edutaining!  No, let’s say educational and entertaining.

The comic book round-up:


Well, who’d have thunk?  The Ultimate titles are now a strong 3-0 on my list, this after reading Jonathan Hickman’s version of the brash Clint Barton.  I’m admittedly leery about books, films, and t.v. shows that are described as “dark and edgy” because, more often than not, they just seem to be trying too hard.  Not the case here with Ultimate Hawkeye, a book whose alt. world storyline offers up the stakes and suspense lacking in much of the traditional titles.  Why?  Well, first and foremost, the Ultimate line allows the writers to take chances, something Hickman takes advantage of to glorious effect.

Verdict: Joining my pull list alongside Ultimates 2 and Ultimate Spiderman.  Ultimate X-Men, here I come.


It’s great to see artists assuming a wider role in the narrative process. Here, the legendary George Perez takes both the artist and writer’s reins on Superman, rebooting Big Blue in line with Grant Morrison on Action Comics.  What particularly struck me about Perez’s work on this title was the word per page count, a denseness that far outdoes any other book out there.  The panels are packed with dialogue and it’s the words that drive the story  – curious given that Perez is known, first and foremost, for his artwork.  Not a criticism, simply a point of interest. What IS problematic for me, however, is the reboot itself which ultimately feels unnecessary.  The new Bat titles have successfully relaunched without having to go back to square one and I’m not sure why Supes couldn’t have followed suit.

Verdict: Alas, not a character I’ve much cared for in the past and the prospect of starting over with the Man of Steel doesn’t hold much appeal.


The problem I have with the Punisher is that, unlike the other heroes in the Marvel and DC universe, his world is rather narrow.  It’s Frank Castle vs. the Mob and, while there’s no better protagonist to take on the unsavory sorts who make up the big city’s underworld, after a while these stories begin to feel a little repetitious.  As a result, the challenge comes in the telling and, with Punisher Max, writer Jason Aaron avails himself nicely, demonstrating the type of gritty storytelling that made Scalped one of my favorite reads.  It’s the small parts – the characters, their interactions, the dialogue – that make up the greater whole – and, at the end of the day, it all comes together nicely.

Verdict: Jason Aaron is infinitely readable.


This title is unique and I love it for that.  Amid all the contemporary superhero titles out there, Demon Knights stands out with its Dark Age setting and (literally) divided hero.  Writer Paul Cornell is at his best here, spinning a tale teeming with battle, magic, the supernatural, and a nice dose of humor.  From the first issue’s creepy talking baby to Vandal Savage’s turn as a surprisingly sympathetic warrior, it’s all great fun!

Verdict: He had me at the creepy talking baby.


Ed Brubaker manages to do the impossible: make the perennially uninterested Captain America interesting.  It helps to surround Cap with terrific supporting players (in Nick Fury and Sharon Carter) and then drop him into a mind-bender of a Inceptionesque tale involving alternate realities, malleable dreamscapes, and rivals long thought dead.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t make special mention of Steve McNiven’s pencils.  Wow.  Gorgeous work.  This is one of those rare instances where I’d buy a title for the art alone.  Fortunately, Brubaker’s narrative process ensures the book delivers on both counts.

Verdict: Solid!

Today’s entry is dedicated to blog regular JimFromJersey.  Here’s hoping 2012 is a better year, buddy!

13 thoughts on “December 9, 2011: Oven mitts! Edutainment! Comics round-up!

  1. You’ve got some of those damn Occupy groups up there in Canada too? Who are these people and where did they come from? Maybe at first they had a good idea but now they are just a pain in the backside. The only ones they are hurting is the everyday working people.

  2. I have to agree with you on the Far Side cartoons. Excellent material.

    @JimfromJersey – bad news. Doesn’t help to hear been there, but it’s true. Right before the holidays my husband lost his job and it was followed up a couple of weeks later with his first heart attack. Talk about a hard candy Christmas! But it was probably our most thankful one – we had much to appreciate in each other and within our family grew stronger.

  3. @ JimFromJersey – Mr. Das and I understand what you’re going through. When he lost his job last year we really weren’t sure how we were going to make ends meet. Somehow, we did, though. He’s working again now but still not making what he did before his lay-off, so he odd-jobs it in his free time. Needless to say, he’s making less but working more. We had to rein in some of our expenses, especially eating out (that’s our big thing since we don’t have kids). Little things add up to big things so we cut back where we can, like being more careful with energy use, and cutting back on driving to save on gas.

    If your wife is eligible for unemployment compensation, get right on that so she doesn’t miss any weeks (it’s a pain in the arse – best done on-line because you’ll wait forever to get through to a person via phone). And just relax. Mr. Das and I did NOT relax, and the stress nearly drove us mad! And for what? A year later and we’re doing just fine. You’re wife may even enjoy the free time right now to spend with the family, instead of giving it all to a thankless employer.

    However, if she’s not someone to sit still, there are probably temp jobs right now in retail, and that can give her something to do until she finds something more stable. There are options out there – things we didn’t think of when Mr. Das got laid off, and because we didn’t use our heads, we panicked. Bottom line? Don’t panic.

    There are gifts you can give that cost very little, and your time and love are the most important. Don’t allow anxiety over the situation stress your family bonds, and it can if you’re not careful. In the meantime, we’re here for ya and we’ll keep you all in our thoughts and prayers. {{hugs}}



  4. Heh, I stuttered. 😛

    Last night my dad treated us and the employees to our annual company dinner. We went to Lucky Bones, a favorite haunt of mine. http://www.luckybonesgrille.com/about.html

    I’m not as fancy as you, Joe, in describing my meal, but suffice to say it was excellent! I started with a fall salad – spring greens, carrots and onions, granny smith apples, carmelized walnuts, dried cranberries, and gorgonzola. Sorry, I forgot what sort of dressing it had, but it was very good. It may have been a sweet onion dressing.

    Now, I am not a seafood eater, at all. I won’t touch shrimp, scallops, crab, lobster, or sea snot (a.k.a. clams, oysters). Both taste and texture turn me off of all of those things. However, I will – on very rare occasions – eat fish. I like fresh tuna, and shark, and smoked salmon, and fresh mild fish like flounder. Mostly, however, I’m a chicken and beef kinda gal. So was I surprised when the first thing to catch my eye last night was the mahi mahi. Tuscan-spiced and pan seared, it was served topped with baby arugula and a sun-dried tomato and olive tapanade with a balsamic drizzle, on herbed polenta in a lemon beurre blanc sauce. Nothing was over-powering, everything just blended into this wonderful party of flavors in my mouth. 🙂 I was the last to finish, and sent my plate back to the kitchen literally wiped clean.

    And that meant I could have dessert! 😀 I went for the [flourless] chocolate decadence cake, paired with a lovely cabernet sauvignon. I did a lot of mmm-mmm-MMMing! while I polished off that one. Again, I was the last to finish…I just didn’t want the meal to end. Everything was so delish!


  5. On a totally irrelevant note: I was up early enough to watch the total lunar eclipse from my cozy kitchen. Yes, I put on Pink Floyd.

  6. I laugh and give you a double thumbs up for the second paragraph. For the Occupy thing, it is the whole 5 senses thing at just wont leave. Yes simple comics like that are great for learning to read and understand cultural issues, if you have someone to explain them to you. I still think Karaoke is also a great tool. Well at least for those mono syllabic asian languages. Would it work for English and Japanese? I think so too. I would hold off on the thrash/death medial for the more advanced lessons. I do not know what your opinion would be of Akemi wearing black leather though. Is she going to get you some Japanese comics to help you?

  7. I have an abundance of oven mitts, mostly crap dollar store ones in holiday themes. Autumn leaves, Halloween cats, Christmas themes, Easter Bunny ones, summery fruit covered ones, camoflage ones, and horrible orchard/grapevine mitts which match my horrible wallpaper. I use our flame print mitts in the desert, along with a much used, battered 911 mitt from the fire department.
    Yes, I have kitchen towels to match. Mom would have called them tea towels. Am I sad, or what?

  8. @Maggiemayday darn I forgot the eclipse. 🙁

    @Joe re dog hair. Rottie hair too, had one imbed like a freaking needle once. People laugh til they have it happen and realize it CAN happen and no you weren’t doing drugs and hallucinating.

    I got one of those ovglove things that are supposed to handle 9 billion degrees of heat but it seems so flimsy I was afraid to use it as burns are the one pain I am NOT stoic about (that is the understatement of the century in case you are ever on Jeopardy). But my DD used it demonstrating that it does indeed do the job.

  9. Hey Joe,
    Since you are the master of all things comic, I have a question. This year my friends are having a cartoon/comic themed New Years Eve party. What could a female red-head (with a blonde wig just in case) dress as? I can’t think of anything really creative except for SuperGirl, which is already a nickname I possess. Any thoughts?

  10. Busy weekend ahead. My mom is staying with me for a few days in advance of the annual family Christmas gathering/reunion. Her side of the family starting with her and her 10 brothers and sisters have been getting together to celebrate the holidays for about 30 years now. Should be about 100 people this year – 4 generations – my mom and her surviving brothers and sisters, some of my 50 cousins and their kids and their kids. And, of course, Santa!

    @Joe and Debra: Labrador retriever hair has the same vicious tendency to stick in like a splinter and be nearly impossible to find and pull out. Nasty.

    @Maggiemayday: Pink Floyd – Perfect! And I forgot all about the eclipse – then again, I think I was too far east to see much. Good luck with the surgery this week. Hope all goes well.

    @JimfromJersey: Hang in there. I think Das has some very good advice

    @das: nice meal review – sounds delicious!

  11. Joe – I just bought a couple oven mitts myself. The ones I’ve been using were my grandmother’s, and there’s a copyright date of 1977 on them. One mitt is a butler, the other a maid, and the fingertips are charred and the insulation shot. So I picked up a couple cheap ones at Walfart, and a better one at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. The biggest problem I find is that the mitts are just to big and bulky for my dinky little hands, but the ones I picked up at Walfart are nice and small and flexible. I just hope they keep the heat away.

    Also, about the dog hair thing. I remember waaaaaaay back in the 70s, a little story about Bobby Goldsboro. It took me a while, but I was able to dig it up from a 1974 Sports Illustrated:

    Why is Bobby Goldsboro a Country-and-Western singer and writer instead of, say, a professional football player? Not because he’s a peanut or lacks the will, but because he’s brittle. “I broke my ankle the first day I went out for track at Auburn University, and in high school I broke my hand the first day of basketball practice,” he recalls. “In baseball, I spiked myself—behind my right knee. Eight stitches. I ran into a light pole catching a football. That cost me 13 stitches over an eye. I broke my wrist minibiking in South Dakota.” The upshot is that Goldsboro’s contract for his new television series specifically prohibits him from such risky activities as skiing, among other things. At a recent show at the Astroworld in Houston he was able to laugh about his latest injury: “I cut my toe on a Rice Krispie that had hardened on the floor overnight.” So far Goldsboro has never been maimed during a performance. “I guess it’s because I just sit on a stool,” he says.

    I think I heard him tell that story on the Merv Griffin, or the Mike Douglas show. Could have been the Tonight Show. I was only a kid, but I still remember that story to this day, and your dog hair incident reminded me of it, so I thought I’d share. 🙂


  12. to joe’s sister:


    Does Williams-Sonoma ship merchandise to Canadian addresses?
    Our Canadian stores are able to ship select items to locations across Canada. For further information, please contact the Williams-Sonoma store nearest you. Contact information can be found on our Stores page.

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