According to Akemi, employees of Tokyo Disneyland are contractually prohibited from revealing how much they are paid to work at the theme park.  If pressed, again according to Akemi, they will answer: “Mickey pays me in chocolate.”.  When I expressed my doubts about this policy, she threw me a look that seemed to suggest I’d missed the most obvious point.  “Of course,”she explained.  “They still dreams!”

Of course.

Bring it!

Well, my Snow Monkeys are off to a grand start in R.I.P. Stargate fantasy football league semi-final action with Roddy White putting up an impressive 25 fantasy points Thursday night.  Looking good but I still face a tough match-up and I’m having second thoughts about some of my starters.  Specifically, Dez Bryant.  Do I start him on Saturday night against the Bucs or do I switch him out for C.J. Spiller in the flex?  Should I roll the dice on Kevin Smith?

I continue my quest to for my new favorite comic book series, assiduously working my way through three issues of whatever is on the stands now, setting aside those books that fail to capture my interest, and forging ahead with those that do.  To date, I’ve read 50 titles which have shaken out to 22 yeas and 28 nays.  Understand that, more often than not, my decision to pass on a particular book has less to do with its quality than my personal tastes.  Darker, single hero-focused titles, for instance, are more appealing to me as opposed to, say, magic or supernatural-themed books.  Having said that, here’s how the last batch rated…

Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1-3

While I enjoyed the Monster Squad premise, I wished that the players had been a little less on-the-nose.  The team is literally made up of Frankenstein, a vampire, a werewolf, a mummy, and a water-breathing female amphibian reminiscent of Hellboy.  Plenty of action and some nice little insights into our protagonist’s backstory, but the supporting players lack appeal.  Two big thumbs up, however, for the concept of the Ant Farm, the S.H.A.D.E. HQ orbiting 2000 miles above Manhattan.

Verdict: Interesting but not quite enough to keep me on board.

Wolverine: The Best There Is #8-10

Some terrific tech and SF concepts, battle sequences, and supporting characters are the pros.  The cons?  Our hero, Wolverine, who feels strangely out of place amidst the far-flung scifi trappings.

Verdict: If the series solely focused on those two eccentric bounty hunters, Paradox and Monark, I’d probably be on board.  As a Wolverine title though it feels very un-Wolverinish.

Deadman #1-3

Remember what I said about not being a big fan of magic or supernatural-themed books?  Well, every once in a while, there’s an exception – and Deadman is one.  The uniqueness of this books’ otherworldly elements coupled with some deft character insight, wonderful artwork by Bernard Chang, and an intriguing story by Paul Jenkins totally won me over.

Verdict: Surprisingly, two big thumbs up for Deadman.


Ultimate X-Men #1-3

Hmmm.  Bit of a role-reversal here.  I went into Deadman fully expecting not to like it – and ended up really enjoying Paul Jenkins’ take on Boston Brand.  On the other hand, I sat down to Ultimate X-Men fully expecting to love it (I enjoyed the other Ultimate titles in addition to Nick Spencer’s work on other titles) and ended up less than enthused.  The fact that a number of our players are the offspring of already established major characters in the Marvel universe sometimes made this book feel like a Junior version of the Big Books.

Verdict: Would have preferred a book that focused on an alternate version of the bigger name X-Men.


I’m a huge fan of the vilains-as-heroes motif that worked so well in Thunderbolts and Secret Six.  Suicide Squad follows along the same lines but comes up short in comparison.  The problem for me is that picking up this book on the heels of Gail Simone’s run on Secret Six, it’s hard not to miss Simone’s careful character construction, or take issue with some of the perplexing changes in some of the players.  Amanda Waller seems to have undergone a complete physical transformation while Deadshot (aka Floyd Lawton) is lacking in his trademark charm and suave demeanor.  Finally, while I like the idea of having King Shark as part of the team for comic relief, it does stretch credulity that anyone in their right mind would consider him a good fit for covert ops.

Verdict: Not for me.

Annihilators: Earthfall #1-3

I’ve always felt that big, Earth-in-peril storylines worked best as crossovers.  Faced with a planetary scale threat, it’s inevitable that Earth’s other heroes are going to get involved.  And, often, when they do, the focus shifts from the title’s main character(s) to the guest stars.  In certain cases – say, if the heroes of a particular book are well-established enough – it’s not that big a deal.  In the case of Annihilators, however, I felt the focus on the guest stars and the ensuing action didn’t really leave room for much insight into the first team.  Still, these big, cosmic-level stories are the kind writers Abnett and Lanning excel at and fans of the genre won’t be disappointed.

Verdict: To be honest, I prefer my superheroic stylings on a much smaller scale.

Penguin: Pride and Prejudice #1-3

Writer Greg Hurwitz and Artist Szymon Kudranski team up for a wonderful character study of one of Batman’s most infamous villains: Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin.  Through the use of flashbacks, they juxtapose the trials of the sensitive, vulnerable young Oswald in the face of constant familial bullying to the no-less sensitive and vulnerable modern-day Penguin.  We glimpse both sides of the coin here, our villain at his most callous and cruel in his response to personal sleights while, proving incredibly loving in his relationship with his mother and the blind woman he romances.  Somewhat reminiscent of Jason Aaron’s one-shot, Joker’s Asylum: Penguin, but with further depth afforded by the five-issue run.

Verdict: Loved it.  Another favorite.  It’s a shame it’s a limited series.

Justice League International #1-4

The running gag, of course, is that the JLI is, for all intents and purposes, the B Team.  Problem is that, as much as I like Booster Gold and Guy Gardner, joined with the less-than-impressive likes of Vixen, Ice, Godiva, Rocket Red, and August General in Iron, the JLI really does read like JLA lite.  At times, it all feels very politically correct and careful.

Verdict: It’s a pass for me on JLI.

Overall: 24-34

Not much to report on the Maximus front.  My boy continues to feel very down.  He ate a little today – some chicken pate Akemi made for him, mixed with a little water to form a paste he could swallow with less difficulty.  It seems he’s somewhat interested in eating but having trouble because of the melanoma in his mouth.  Time is ticking down toward my Montreal departure and I’m at a loss as to how to proceed.  I don’t want to leave him with my dog-sitter in this state and I don’t like the prospect of abandoning him at the vet for 11 days.  I’m calling Air Canada tomorrow to see if I can transport him back east with me, carry-on, if I have to.

25 thoughts on “December 16, 2011: Another Japan lesson! Snow Monkeys off to a great start! The Comic Book Round-Up!

  1. I think your idea of taking Max with you to Montreal is the best way to go, too, although I wonder if the trip would stress him out too much in his current condition. I suspect he’s fine as long as he’s with you! Have you tried giving him baby food? The little jars of the meats are strained and soft, he might like them. Flannery was on those for a while after she got sick, and it was the only thing she’d eat (20 jars at a time). Hugs to both of you from all of us. 🙂

  2. It’s heartbreaking to read the current news of poor old Maximus. I had my dog put to sleep almost 4 years ago, and it still hurts, and I still feel guilty for having it done, and not having it done sooner… Both ways, I feel guilty… She had cancer too and it seemed to have spread to her bones, pain killers didn’t help anymore so the decision was easy – but so hard! From what I read I am convinced that you should do the hard thing and let your friend go. Taking him with you to Montreal, in his current condition, would not be the best thing for him… and you know it, I’m sure. If you’re not ready to let him go yet then you should “abandon him at the vet” for your stay so he’d get the best possible care at all times, especially if his condition should get worse.

    I’m in a similar situation here right now. I’m taking my 17,5 yr old kitty to the vet on Monday and I’m 95 % sure he won’t come back… and it hurts! I’m skipping Xmas this year… But I can’t go to see my siblings even for a few days before I know how my old fellow really is doing now (and after the vet visit I won’t be going anywhere anyway since the vet is gonna take all my money… and if Leo the Lion won’t come back, staying at home with my 2 other cats is what I wanna do anyway).

    Whenever you decide to let him go, you don’t need to feel guilty of it, I’ve read your blog for the last year and I’ve seen how you have done everything in your power to help the old guy! He’s had the best possible care, you have really done everything! But, as you know, at some point you have to let go… only you and your vet can tell when that is, really.

    I’m sorry for writing this, I know you’ll do what has to be done when it has to be done.

  3. I was also going to suggest baby food for your sweet Max. I wonder, has the tumor grown back or is it just too painful? I hope he’s not in too much pain. I have also lost a beloved pet to terminal illness, and it is very difficult, so you have my total sympathy and understanding.

    I have seen some of the attractions from the Tokyo Disneyland on YouTube and it is quite interesting to see the cultural differences and translations from Western ideas into Asian sensibilities. Give it a search if you haven’t.

    I hope you both have a good Christmas and I hope Maximus is not in much pain and finds his appetite returning soon.

    – Gina

  4. I’ve come to care about Maximus through your writings about him. And your photos of him are wonderful. It’s sad that you need to go to Montreal during this time. I’m wishing Max and you all the best.

  5. I figured you’d be happy with White’s performance last night! He had a great game. Me? I’ve got two pickles to worry about: Nate Washington or Pierre Garçon for my number 3 WR? It’s a coin flip with massive possibilities either way. My second worry is with my DST’s. I’ve got the Lions vs. Oakland or Chicago vs. Seattle. They’ll both be big point-getters, but which one is the better choice. It’s a good problem to have, I guess.

    Sorry to hear about Max. I’ve been in that same situation before. Thankfully I made it back before anything bad happened. Didn’t make for a very fun trip, though. Are you still doing the stem cell treatments?

    -Mike A.

  6. Very sorry to hear Maximus is less than his best. I do hope you’ll be able to carry him with you. It’s an unfortunate time of year to have a family member as ill as he is, especially when you’ve got commitments to travel. I can only wish you the best with him, and on a happier note with the Snow Monkeys. Still semi-lurking, but still here sending get well thoughts to Max.

  7. “and I don’t like the prospect of abandoning him at the vet for 11 days.”

    That may be the best place for Maximus to be actually. Even though none of us would really ‘want’ to leave him at a vet’s office, they can make him feel comfortable there for sure and no doubt he will get very good medical care if his condition should change. Another thing to consider is that any move/trip /travelling always is a bit stressful for pets…. and there’s stress for a pet to be at a vet’s office also. Not an easy thing to decide = what way is best for them.

    Take care Maximus.

  8. If it was me, I would definitely take Maximus to Montreal. He’s travelled before, and he’ll be with you so he shouldn’t be too stressed. And there are vets in Montreal if you should need one. I’m sure your mom has a vet for her animals.

    You might talk again to your Vancouver vet about nutritional supplements if you haven’t already. As someone else said, there are high calorie pastes that might be more balanced (and more nutrient packed) that home cooking.

    Good luck. And heck, why don’t you take Lulu, too, just to keep Max company. 🙂

  9. Poor Max. Poor Joe. We found out Cheetah has heartworms. Mr Crazymom is beside himself because he was in charge of giving her the preventative every month and forgot a couple of times. However, she’s otherwise healthy and all indications are that she’ll do fine on the treatment. We’re just trying to figure out how to “keep her quiet” for a month as required, since she has springs for legs and regularly chases her tail if we don’t keep her entertained!

  10. Joe and Akemi, my prayers are with you as you decide what is best for Max.

    Max sweetheart, so many souls love you baby.


  11. Suicide Squad is probably the most hated book from the DCnU, with Red Hood and the Outlaws, Voodoo and Catwoman all coming in as close seconds.

    Also, there isn’t an actual Deadman title, he’s just starring in the first few issues of “DC Universe Presents”. The book has a rotating creative team with each one focusing on a different character(s) in the DCU. The next story arc features the Challengers of the Unknown.

  12. So much love for Max, and for you too. Take care of yourself as well as you do of your dear doggie.

    I adore Tokyo Disneyland, there is nothing like Country Bears Jamboree in Japanese.

  13. Re: the SHADE HQ orbiting 2000 miles above Manhattan – it wouldn’t be over it for long, since geosynchronous orbit is about 22,000 miles up. Details messed up like that always kind of bug me when I watch or read something that gets it wrong. I always loved Stargate for being very particular about stuff like that. Yes, I’m a nerd.

    Joe, only you will know what you should do regarding Maximus. I do know that he is greatly blessed to have people around him that love him so much.

  14. Sg1efc: I don’t know how it is in Canada, but most vets (and please note I said “most”) in the US will board animals and have a tech or other employee come in to feed, clean and walk them in the morning and again in the evening. Otherwise, animals spend the day alone in cages/runs. In most cases, even though it’s not ideal, it’s ok for a healthy animal for a day or two. I wouldn’t leave Max (or my Elway) anywhere unless there was somebody there 24/7, preferably a vet. Only Joe knows what is best for Max. 😉

  15. Oh Joe I’m so sorry to hear Maximus is struggling with eating…the fact he wants to eat is a good sign…sounds like you and Akemi have it covered. Whatever you decide will be the right thing for Maximus…*hugs*

    I never know what to do with Des Bryant…good luck to your Snow Monkeys

    Thanks to PBMom, Deni, Ponytail (yes that’s how I’m putting my bra on), Sparrow_hawk (hope you’re better), JeffW, Tam Dixon, JimfromJersey (you’re welcome)

    Update on my wrist:

    Well I go in for surgery on Wednesday to have a plate put in it 🙁 …bit stressed to get all my Christmas shopping done in time. I hope I don’t forget anyone.

    I’m with you on the iTunes thing…we have it bad in Australia…could never buy Stargate or American Idol songs on there…I can buy nosebleed section (not my fave hilltop hoods song)…I looked up whether I could gift it but it has to be redeemed in the Aussie store….le sigh….maybe I can email it?

    Cheers, Chev

  16. @Maryanne – Chev: Ack! Wednesday? Please let us know how you’re doing as soon as you can! Break a leg (?)! 🙂

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