There's nothing like a bout of depression to bring my journal-readers out of the proverbial woodwork. Well, a few of 'em anyway. I got mail from Ceej, and Jim and Wena.
I feel pretty much the same as I did on Tuesday, which is to say I've mostly been staying home at night this week and reading or watching TV or playing on the computer.
Work has continued to be up-and-down this week, as new bugs have come up which I've been trying to plow through as best I can while still making progress on my main project (which is more interesting). Today it turns out that our weekly build failed in part due to one of my bug fixes, although the ramification it introduced was pretty obscure and due to a feature of the code which I don't entirely understand. So I don't feel too bad, and it was easily fixed once I'd diagnosed it.
I am getting the hang of this piece of the code base which I've inherited. Although I've finally had to start learning MS-DOS command scripting (which we need to use sometimes since Windows lacks a real shell), and it is absolutely hideous. But otherwise things are moving along.
I don't think I mentioned that I did a bunch of shopping last weekend. Partly it was for my mother and sister, whose birthday (yes, they share one!) is coming up soon.
Partly it was because I felt like just going wandering in downtown Palo Alto and poking my head into some little shops. Along the way I discovered that the comic strips For Better or For Worse, Mutts, and Zits all have new collections out. Yay! Yes, I bought them all. They're all quite good. I spent some time sitting outside of Starbuck's reading them, watching people walk by. It's not quite so cold that that can't be done comfortably.
This week's comics haul was pretty decent, with the latest Thieves & Kings out, as well as a wonky Sandman spin-off called Merv Pumpkinhead: Agent of Dream (every chapter being a play on words of an old James Bond movie).
The "news" in this week's comics is the ascent of Brian Hitch and Paul Neary to the regular art chores of JLA (written by fan favorite Mark Waid). Hitch and Neary worked on Stormwatch and The Authority for several years and became quite popular. More importantly, Hitch is an outstanding penciller - especially of human figures - and Neary is a fine inker. Besides their first issue of the regular series coming out, there's also a "tabloid format" volume called JLA: Heaven's Ladder out this week by the same writing/art team.
So what's the problem?
Well, basically the story in Heaven's Ladder isn't very good, as it involves aliens stealing the planet Earth (a story which has been done before in Superman: The Earth Stealers), along with many other planets, because they want to learn about the afterlife before they die as a race (an event which is imminent). There are a bunch of "zealots" among their race who feel they're above having to contact other races to learn about death, and the JLA is forced to pick up the pieces of the aliens' plans. Which means a bunch of heroes running around picking up various goals (in this case, representatives of each race) and fighting the bad guys. Although the story is fairly innocuous, it's also fairly boring and pointlessly cosmic. The ending is basically the same as that of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which isn't a good thing.
The first Hitch/Neary issue of the regular JLA series is much better, as it involves a queen of fairy tales - old-style yarns, with all the grisly lesson-teaching that that implies - emerging into our world with a grudge against Wonder Woman (who she apparently mistakes for Snow White). It's the first of a four-part story and is pretty good.
Some things have been pointed out to me about movies I've seen recently that I thought would be worth mentioning here.
First, Subrata points out of Sunset Boulevard that Gloria Swanson, who played Norma Desmond, was a real silent-film star, and a clip of one of her films is used in this movie. Erich von Stroheim, who plays Desmond's butler, was a real silent film director, who directed Swanson several times. I'm not sure which is more impressive: The clever use of these two figures, or that they can both act!
Second, a reader named Kris notes of L.A. Confidential that Johnny Stompanato was a real figure in the L.A. mob scene of the 1950s, and he was killed in a scandalous event involving Lana Turner and her daughter. (Ceej's friend Kieca pointed out the same thing.)
Lastly, my old friend Rob and his wife had a baby boy about a week and a half ago. Congratulations to them both!
I think he's the third of my old friends from high school to have a kid, though he's the only one I'm still actively in touch with. I'm not sure whether it's hard to believe that my peers are now parents, or that only a few of my old friends are now parents!