Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon

The way MTV Geek’s Alex Zal­ben described Hawk­eye to Jesse Thorn on Bulls­eyemade it sound like Amer­i­can Splen­dor with a bow and arrow. He wasn’t wrong. I just fin­ished read­ing #10 and I’m ready for more.

Beau­ti­fully drawn and bril­liantly writ­ten, Hawkeye’s life out­side the Avengers is pos­i­tively spell­bind­ing. The issue ded­i­cated to Hur­ri­cane Sandy may be one of the most mov­ing trib­utes imag­ined. The artists com­pris­ing Team Hawkguy are doing some­thing truly special.

Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom

Free­dom will be remem­bered as a story that cap­tures a very strange chap­ter in Amer­i­can his­tory. It’s hard to put a fin­ger on it, but the mood of the last decade is some­thing Franzen nails. His char­ac­ters rep­re­sent the amoral fugue state we drifted off into col­lec­tively after 2003. I’m not even sure his hol­lowed out char­ac­ters could real­is­ti­cally course cor­rect, yet they do, and for that rea­son I was some­what dis­ap­pointed in the novel.

Equally ter­ri­fy­ing, alt-country act Wal­nut Sur­prise rep­re­sented one of the worst musi­cal move­ments of the decade. We have only our­selves to blame.

Woebot’s 100 Lost Rock Albums From the 1970s

Matthew Ingram’s fan­tas­tic Woe­bot blog was an inspi­ra­tion to me as a critic. His vora­cious appetite for and catholic taste in music pushed me to expand my palate and lis­ten to music oth­ers may have dis­missed as lesser works. In short, Woe­bot had big ears and it didn’t hurt that he could write.

I’m finally read­ing his ebook, 100 Lost Rock Albums from the 1970s and it’s bring­ing back lots of mem­o­ries. This is the music I fell in love with around the time Stephen Malk­mus released Pig Lib and even name checked the Ground­hogs on tour. Some of the ground Ingram cov­ers is famil­iar, but what makes the book so reward­ing are the impos­si­ble to find albums that rekin­dle my love for crate digging.

If you’re look­ing for a place to begin, check out this com­pan­ion playlist on Spo­tify.

Let’s Talk About MLB Winter Meetings, Okay?

Noth­ing quite as excru­ci­at­ing as watch­ing your team lose a star out­fielder to a sorry team within the divi­sion — for unrea­son­ably big bucks, mind — while watch­ing them hap­lessly pur­sue bar­gain bin replace­ments like Jeff Fran­coeur, Matt Diaz, George Sher­rill and Den­nys Reyes. Would’ve been adding insult to injury if we tried to add any of those guys even in a pla­toon. Can’t rightly tell if it makes it hurt more to hear the Phillies bandied about as being in on Cliff Lee and Zack Greinke or if that’s just part of a push to make guys like me feel bet­ter about a team that really has no choice but to stand pat this off­sea­son and hope things go a lit­tle dif­fer­ently in 2011.

Will say that the Nats being big spenders really warms my heart. Love that the Fish are being aggres­sive, too. The NL East doesn’t get enough credit for being the hornet’s nest it is.

Lastly, Selig really does need to expand the league to include the mys­tery team that gets cited any time talks heat up with a free agent. Craig Cal­caterra has been writ­ing about this over at Hard­ball Talk for a bit. The tweets com­ing out of Orlando have been pos­i­tively hilar­i­ous. Have to say that the rumors def­i­nitely keep me engaged with base­ball dur­ing what is oth­er­wise a very slow offseason.

The Dead-ball Era Philadelphia Phillies

The base­ball off­sea­son tor­ments me. While I appre­ci­ate the post­sea­son awards — con­grats to Roy Hal­la­day on his Cy Young Award — I find my thoughts turn to the likes of Ed Dela­hanty, Sam Thomp­son, Gavvy Cra­vath and Grover Cleve­land Alexander.

For­tu­nately, I have com­pany. My friend and coworker Dan McQuade of Philadel­phia Will Do is loan­ing me an Ed Dela­hanty biog­ra­phy! Can­not wait to read about a trou­bled ballplayer who died at Nia­gara Falls. I’m fas­ci­nated by Big Ed’s story and I love think­ing about the dead-ball era, when base­ball was a grind­ing game of bunts, steals and dirty pitches, to say noth­ing of rogue leagues and labor strife.

I also nearly joined the Soci­ety for Amer­i­can Base­ball Research yes­ter­day. I told you it was get­ting bad!