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!