As Long as We're Off-Topic...

My father and I had lunch a couple of days ago, and I guess that he must have been cleaning out his basement because he gave me a bag of my old clothing. "Keep it secret, keep it safe." he rasped and then sped off into the night early afternoon in his turquoise Jetta. I honestly hadn't really thought about these clothes in a while, since they're from a period in my life that I thought was completely behind me. I mean, I learned a lot, but honestly I barely remember most of it. 

I am pleased to note that some of it still fit me, even though I've put on a bit of weight:


The big revelation for me that came from these clothes is that Baby Johnathan must have been obsessed with overalls. Of ten pairs of pants in the bag, nine were overalls and the tenth was the bottom half of the tracksuit pictured above. Sadly, they don't fit quite as well.

And now that I have satisfied my whimsical compulsion to wear baby clothes on my head: happy Friday, everyone.

Bat and Switch

As I'm sure basically nobody noticed, I haven't done any weekly reviews for the last couple of weeks. June seems to be a pretty by-the-books month as far as the comics that I'm buying is concerned - the good series are maintaining their goodness and the less-good series aren't driving me to the heights of nerd-rage necessary for a tirade. 

I did, however, pick up Batman No. 700 this week. I'd passed on buying it last week out of despair over missing the Mike Mignola variant cover (not only is Mignola the only person to ever make me care about variant covers, he's the only person to inspire true collector's lust in my breast. I will someday track down all Mignola covers, this I swear). Good ol' Dave worked some magic, though, and now I have this beauty:

After a week of reviews of the thing, I was expecting some sort of explosive mess, but what I found was a pretty danged enjoyable Batman yarn. Granted, it suffered the common Morrison comic problem of having 1.5 to 2 comic worth of plot and ideas crammed into a single issue, compounded by the slightly galling pinup section - not that the pinups weren't great, but a little more story space or even a couple extra future Batmen (Batmaniacs? Batman Year 100?) would have been great.

But this isn't really a review of that comic. No, it's merely an elaborate segue. And not a very good one, either, because it's based on the fact that I read a review that critiqued the plot of Batman 700 and maybe called into question just how much sense some aspects of it made. And even though I can no longer find or remember where I read that review, I'm still going to respond to it by taking a look at the Batman story in Detective Comics No. 422, and a plot element that blows reason completely out of the water.

The story in question is set during the period in which Robin has gone off to college and Bruce Wayne has left his stuffy old manor and its associated cave for the hurly-burly life of downtown Gotham. We find him relaxing in his penthouse apartment, when suddenly a plot hook in the shape of a trucker comes bursting in:

Despite the guy's general craziness, Bruce elects to look into this and other truck disappearances. Possibly because he owns a lot of stock in the company, but probably not. Probably. He finds some truckers, beats them up and gets a quick crash course in the art of the long haul.

Trucker Batman reasons that the missing men were drugged somehow and abducted under the cover of their hallucinations. He dons a truly majestic outfit and starts hitting likely spots:

... and hopefully hasn't been stopping at a lot of places, because he acts like a total dick.

It's considered polite to find a potted plant, Bruce.

Batman hits the road, starts hallucinating - that's right, the fact that he was completely wrong about the coffee just adds insult to injury - shakes off the effects and finds out how the trucks have been disappearing:

And here's the first of two very strange things about this comic. The reason that these trucks were stolen and sunk at sea, at presumably great expense and via a complicated plot?


You heard the man: his trucks were manufactured with a defective break line and rather than issue a recall he chose to commit multiple acts of murder-by-proxy. I want you to pay attention to this, everyone who was complaining about Toyota a couple of months ago. I'll bet you'd have cut them more slack if you'd known that they had rejected the option of drugging everyone who had a defective car and then dumping them in the ocean via helicopter, eh?

Strange/insane as the reason for this crime is, it's actually one of the means by which it was committed that I want to point out. Specifically, the drugging. Batman didn't partake of the coffee, so exactly how were he and the truckers doped up?


Drugged soap. Drugged soap. The entire plan hinged on truckers washing their hands after using the washroom.  

Never has my suspension of disbelief been more tested. My father is a former trucker, and, well, let's just say that he wouldn't have enjoyed the Doors any more than usual after visiting this diner. This is the most utterly unreal panel in any comic, ever.


Review of Unusual Words That I Learned From My Father, Part Two, By Johnathan

Today's Word: Squam.

The tale: So my Dad has two sons, a bad memory, and a fondness for nicknames. While the first two traits when combined lead to myself being referred to as 'Nick' half the time, a liberal addition of the third to our lives somehow solved everything. Fully a third of the time my brother and I are referred to not by our names but by a revolving selection of nicknames such as Worm, Toad, Tadpole, Weasel, Spook, Unscrupulous Creature, etc.* These names were not exclusive to either one of us, although I believe that Nick was/is referred to as Tadpole more frequently, while I am most often Weasel (Indeed, a perhaps-apocryphal family story holds that for a time in my extreme youth I thought that Weasel was my proper name). As well, I, by dint of my greater age, am sometimes given the prefix 'Super', as in Super Toad.

One word always stood out, however. Amongst this veritable zoo of nicknames stood one that basically made no sense: Squam. Though I have been referred to by this title (or it's Super variant) for much of my natural life, I have no idea what it means. I can't bring myself to ask at this late date, though, so I can only hope that my Dad read a lot of HP Lovecraft in his youth, and has simply abbreviated squamous.

Anyway... it has a nice ring to it.


*Upon reading this list I feel compelled to note that this was not a Boy Called It kind of situation - these were somehow very affectionate nicknames.

Review of Unusual Words That I Learned From My Father, Part One, by Johnathan

Today's word: Jillyprog.

Some history - This is a logging word, but I'm not too sure whether it's widely used, or confined to Nova Scotia, or peculiar to my family, though my Grandfather did work in a logging camp, so I suspect that someone, somewhere, at some point, has used it before.
In any case, my family burns wood, and all of that wood has to be cut, and so I spent many of my winter weekends throughout high school in the forest, lifting heavy things whilst my father wielded a chainsaw. Now, the normal means by which one cuts down a tree of any size is to cut a notch out of the trunk on the side of the tree that you want to hit the ground, then saw completely through and let gravity do the rest. Occasionally, though, this tried and true method fails, and one is left with a huge piece of wood balancing unsupported on a tree stump, which is not the most ideal situation. To solve this problem, my learned elders would cut a long stick and we would place one end high on the offending trunk, then push mightily on the other, thus bringing low another mighty forest giant. That stick, my friends, is known as a jillyprog.