Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives

July 2006 Archives

The Power of the Dark Crystal at Nerd Prom.

More news from Nerd Prom (SDCC), this time from Brian Froud, Genndy Tartakovsky and the Henson people discuss the new movie.

Man, how come Wizard World Chicago doesn't have any of this cool stuff going down? No Henson stuff, no Hellboy stuff... WTF?

The Nerd Prom Report.

My friend and housemate Ivan just posted a collection of photos from the San Diego Comic Convention over at his Flickr account. My favorite is the one of Spidey and Black Cat checking out Spidey's cell phone. Awesome.


So much happening.

Dear sweet heavenly host. So much has been happening. The head doth reel. To reduce to simple bullet points:

  • I have now been to China, and have returned safely. So many stories to tell. Soon.
  • Last weekend I attended my 10-year high school reunion, where I got to hang out with Rob and Stacey and Adam and Holly and Crystal and a whole mess of my friends from Way Back in the Day. Rob's girlfriend is very very nice, and FWIW, I wholeheartedly approve. I miss home. A lot.
  • The day after the reunion I jumped in the car with my Mom and Nick and we headed to Columbus and back, under the aegis of going shopping but really just to hang out and talk for a while. Nick and I are possibly planning something cool. Again, I miss home. A lot.
  • The day after that, I loaded up my new favorite vehicle in the world, my black Mercedes Benz 190E, and headed East back to Boston. The next morning I arrived back at the house. It's a long, long drive for one person, from Ohio to Boston. Luckily, for future trips I should have company.
  • Said company arrives on a jet plane in a little over 12 hours. I am sufficiently stoked.
  • I am currently feeling a little scattered, and not just from my writing this at a decently ungodly hour; I am still (!) jetlagged and still trying to sort out exactly how the next 12 months will work. I am apprehensive and uncertain and a little homesick, of all things. The gravitational pull of Ohio is strong.
  • I have posted the first of what will likely be many sets of China Trip Photos to Flickr: Shanghai: Traveled Coffee & Tea. It's a collection of photos from a fantastic little coffeeshop in China that was amazingly designed from top to bottom, full of little flourishes that I'm adding to my mental notebook for future use. Enjoy.
  • The pilot episode for Mike Mignola's Amazing Screw-On Head is now available for free viewing over at Seeing Mignola's art style animated is a real delight, and I sort of wish they'd used the same style for the upcoming animated
    Hellboy movies
    , but I'm excited about the films nevertheless.
  • I read the second issue of Neil Gaiman's Eternals today and while it's clearly gathering speed, it's still not thrilling me the way I wish it would. Oh, well. I'll buy the run out of loyalty and hope, but unless something changes drastically I probably won't buy any follow-up series (like the 1602 follow-up, 1602: New World). The characters just aren't that interesting – yet.
  • One of my favorite new movie news sites is, and finds like this are why: "Existence: The Bastard Love-Child of Lynch, Jeunet and Gilliam". Paging Anthony Leonardi III: good sir, when will you release this short film on DVD?
  • One key event from the China trip: my laptop got nicked somewhere at LAX. I am mourning the loss of Constantine, but luckily I'd backed up almost all my data before leaving so at least I have most of its contents intact. If you're the one who swiped my laptop at LAX, or somewhere on the Air China ride overseas... You're a jackass. Regardless, I'm now typing this on a brand-new 2.16GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro, which I've tentatively named Remiel, after the angel of hope. I may name the free iPod nano that came with it Duma, both in keeping with The Season of Mists and as a bizarre joke: Duma is, after all, the angel of silence.
  • I am very tired. Sleep now.

That is all. More, I'm sure, will follow.


Off to China!

Well, I'm off! Wish me luck – and follow along over at the Project Good Luck Blog!

This is going to be so cool. :-)


Redmond 2.0, Microsoft 3.0, iRoads and China.

The New York Times ran an interesting story yesterday about the growing pains at The House Bill Built: Microsoft Is Looking for More Elbow Room. Some particularly noteworthy excerpts:

Microsoft — in the midst of a bitter rivalry with Google and Yahoo — snapped into action this April, saying the company would spend about $2 billion on new technologies to reinvigorate itself. Then last month, Microsoft's chairman and co-founder, Bill Gates, announced that he would leave his day-to-day role at the company in two years.

Easier said than done, at least when you consider that the company, which houses more than 30,000 people on its sprawling campus in Redmond, Wash., suddenly will have to make room for up to 12,000 new bodies. It will spend $1 billion to expand that campus by more than a third, or 3.1 million square feet, over the next three years. That includes new leases and the purchase and construction of 14 buildings. For a modest-size real estate market like Seattle, those are staggering numbers.

"The Redmond you'll see even in a year will make your eyes pop," said Lou Gellos, a Microsoft spokesman. "It's going to be a very different campus."

And, from a bit later in the piece:

Transportation has become the largest issue for the growing region. And for its part, Microsoft has vowed to spend $35 million on transportation improvements in Redmond, including an overpass over Route 520 near its campus, sewer upgrades and turn lanes on nearby roads.

But even a sizable cash infusion would merely be a temporary solution to a problem that has been steadily worsening for years. The area's roads and bridges, some of which are earthquake hazards, already struggle to handle the company's 30,000 employees. The Route 520 bridge, which crosses Lake Washington and connects Seattle to Redmond, was built in 1963 to handle 15,000 vehicles a day. Now, 115,000 vehicles cross it daily. Increased traffic, windstorms, earthquakes and boating and traffic accidents have further shortened the bridge's life and required extensive repairs. State officials worry a strong windstorm or earthquake could damage the bridge beyond repair.

"The economic impacts would be catastrophic," said John Milton, SR-520 project director with Washington's state transportation department. "It's the feeder for two of the major employment centers in the area."

Privately, Microsoft officials bristle at the notion that the transportation burden is theirs. But Microsoft's size makes it a convenient target for complaint among Redmond residents.

I visited Redmond back in the late 90s, and I remember being floored by how cramped for space Redmond had become even back then. Now, as Microsoft moves into what might be seen as its Third Phase (phase one: Windows; phase two: the Internet; phase three: profit a Google-esque Web OS) this new growth stage could be really damaging to the environment – or, it could be amazing.

On the Road: China

This idea is driven home by something I've been meaning to write about for the last couple of days – my 4th of July weekend was spent in preparation for my trip next week to China.

(A beat while I let that sink in.)

Oh. Um. Yeah. Hmm. Forgot to mention that here, didn't I? From July 9th-19th, I'm going to be on a whirlwind trip to China, touring Shanghai, Beijing and maybe to Hong Kong. It's a research trip through MIT; I myself am going to be looking at design and implementation of mobile media, and some of the others on the trip are looking at social networks, fashion, art, and so on. I don't want to say too much about it here since I'm under a limited NDA about what we're up to, but I feel comfortable saying at least this much since all that data is going to be up on the website I've been building for this project... Oh, fark, I haven't mentioned that here yet either. I don't think it's gone live yet, but when it does, it'll be over at Blog, video, Flickr photos, the whole schebang, with a look that's one part my "modern-elegant" schtick and one part the groovy urban style of street artist/designer Vinnie Ray. Good stuff all around. Stay tuned.

Trading Chinese Private Roads and Developing iRoads

China, Inc.
Anyway, where I was going with this: I've been reading up on modern China in preparation for my trip, and my mind has been truly and thoroughly blown by all my research. For starters, I've been enjoying China, Inc.: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World by Ted C. Fishman. Fishman outlines how the last 20-50 years have shaped China into the new "Compatilist" (Communism + Capitalism) force that has the rest of the world scrambling. He talks about the transformation of Chairman Mao into a sort of Colonel Sanders-esque pop icon, he talks about China's explosion of infrastructure and architecture in a tornado of high-speed construction, he talks about how the rural Chinese population is streaming into the cities in droves... It's really fascinating stuff, highly accessible and conceptually exhilirating. The passage that springs to mind when dealing with Microsoft and Redmond, though, is how much of China's new infrastructure is, ironically enough, highly privatized – the roads are a lot like public companies being traded on a stock market. Companies are formed to build, maintain and operate the toll roads, which then pay a certain percentage back to the state for the use of the land. The rest of the profits, from what I understand, continue to belong to the companies and their shareholders – many of which are foreign investors. Imagine having part of your retirement package literally tied up in Chinese roads. It's happening.

This made me wonder about the feasibility of a similar scheme here in the States, only smushing it together with the notion of the digitally-navigating vehicle. The NYT piece talks about how twice a day the Microsoft traffic transforms the Redmond streets into a giant parking lot. What if Microsoft could use the new infrastructure they're building as a test for these digitally-navigating vehicles? It's a technology that's been building for a while; imagine a Mini, an Escape or, better yet, a Smart car outfitted with a superpowered mapping system that could interface with a guidance system built into the road, so that when the driver turned off the main highway and onto a "smart road" (or iRoad, if it were built by Apple instead) the car went into autopilot. Distance sensors on the vehicle could tell it (and the road) how much space existed between the vehicle and the objects around it, motion sensors along the smart road could stop traffic when a deer or a dog does a runner across traffic, and wi-fi or cellular EVDO transmitters along the iRoad could turn the entire corridor into one long virtual extension of the campus. How cool would it be if the last 30-60 minutes of your commute could be spent with checking your email and voicemail while your "virtual chaffeur" handled the driving? You could arrive at work with an empty inbox, ready to tackle whatever is physically waiting for you in your office.

This is the type of technology that cash-flush megacorporations like Microsoft and Google should be building; as Fishman notes in his book, once information technology renders the entire world a valid location for doing business, it's simple stuff like infrastructure that makes one part of the world more attractive for knowledge workers than others. (Well, that and the things Richard Florida outlines in his Creative Class concept – and holy crap, how come nobody told me Florida has a new book? The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global Competition for Talent sounds like it's right up my alley...) Once they have the technology down, they can charge tolls (or more likely, a monthly usage fee a la Speedpass) and then turn right around and license that technology to developing countries like China.

All iRoads Lead to iRome the Global Village

At the end of the day, when Chinese factory workers will work for pennies on the dollar, it's not enough for Americans to whine and complain and scream about tariffs. No, I think we have to innovate our way through the solution – we have to invent, perfect and monetize new ideas for the rest of the world. If a globalized commercial ecosystem is to take effect (which it certainly seems like it will), everybody needs to figure out what they do well – and I think we Americans need to play up our innovation and imagination and play down our isolationist tendencies. Americans don't like taxes – who does? – so let's let the state step out of the way of building infrastructure and let the big companies take a crack at it in the best, most innovative way they know how. Hell, while they're at it they can figure out a way to pave those roads with super-industrial photovoltaic cells and use them as giant solar collectors during off-peak hours. Imagine if the entire US highway system was made out of these smart roads: a cross-country road trip without driver fatigue, a massive drop in the number of exhaustion-related accidents, more quality time with your fellow travelers, and shorter trips (for those of us who can sleep in car seats) if you let the autopilot drive all night.

This is the kind of thing that America does well. We've always been a nation of dreamers and engineers. If we're going to continue to lead the world in the 21st century, that's the banner that we should be waving as we go. We'll never have a monopoly on innovation – nor should we – but as the world outsources its manufacturing to countries with lower costs of living and a fierce need for employment, America should strive to become a go-to place for countries who want to outsource their blue-sky thinking. I can see the billboard whizzing by on the side of the iRoad now: "America: Inventing The World Since 1776."

Okay, so the tagline needs work, but it's a start – iRome wasn't built in a day.


Grant McCracken, eBay's MeCommerce, and Me

So no sooner do I post my first-ever shill for Threadless than C3 advisor Grant McCracken posts to his own blog with his thoughts on eBay's new MeCommerce initiative. Naturally, I feel inclined to comment.

I don't really have a problem with what eBay's trying to do – in fact, a lot of would-be prospectors have come close to this particular goldmine. When you link up the notions of micropayments, product reviews, and personal collection management, you come pretty dang close to an extremely rich vein. Amazon's been providing kickbacks through their recommendation system for years; when I was regularly producing issues of Inkblots I dutifully linked each and every book, film and CD we reviewed to the Amazon page, but we never generated enough sales to cover our overhead, much less pay our contributors. I imagine that a very large reason for this failure was exactly what eBay is trying to overcome – resistance to leave the site you're currently reading.

This is a problem banner ads have had since the Web's early days; while they're great for building exposure to a brand, the idea of tracking their value on click-throughs alone is as ridiculous as saying that any Pizza Hut TV ad that didn't make a viewer drop what they were doing to order a pizza while the commercial was still running was a failure. I like to think that lots of people picked up a copy of the stuff we critiqued, but since very few people bought their copies from Amazon through our links, I have no quantifiable numbers. I'll never know how many went on to pick up copies at Borders, Barnes and Noble, Best Buy... As a content producer, I didn't mind that – I wanted our content to be compelling enough to keep people clicking through our site. As the guy paying the hosting bill, I wanted those people to get their butts over to Amazon as quickly (and as often!) as possible. If eBay can figure out a way to "make impulse purchases without leaving the blog", I'm all ears.

Personally, I suspect this system will need the following to succeed:

- a running tally of how much you're purchasing through this blogger (like a cart)
- a running tally of how much of your purchase goes to this blogger (like a tip jar)
- Flickr-esque integration with blogging tool APIs for dead-simple "post this" links

A lot of businesses are, as I said, getting close to this goldmine – Threadless does a decent job, for instance, but they still need good, solid API integration in order for it to really take off. Both the content producer and the bill-payer sides of me are hoping that MeCommerce hits the motherload.

Update. I just swung by the McCommerce site, and I gotta say, their implementation is definitely on the right tack. I think it still has a way to go – it doesn't seem to integrate the three things on my wishlist yet, and I wish there was some cookie-based persistence across pages within the site – but it's definite progress.

Update update. Well, hot dog – I've just been pinged by the MeCommerce people to beta-test their new project and they say my three wishes have been granted. I'll let you know how this goes!

I'm such a player.

So I've already bought my copy of this:

Well, This Just Really Sucks... - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

... And now I'm seriously tempted to pick up one of these:

Miss Scarlet in the Hall with a Revolver - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Who knew that board-games-on-brown would be the new black?


Scattering showers.

Maaaan... If the fireworks are rained out, do the terrorists win?


Superman Returns.

Updated. After I had a chance to think about the film a little more in-depth, I decided to go back in and tighten the focus of my review, if you'll pardon the pun.

Superman Returns
So this Fourth of July weekend has served as a reunion on several different fronts – my MIT friends Sam and Amanda Ford are here, crashing with me to check out a new apartment for the fall, and my Kenyon friend Dan Nickerson is also staying here for the night on his way through town. We met up with my other Kenyon friend Ryan Ruopp for dinner at John Harvard's before proceeding to the AMC at Fenway to catch a late showing of Superman Returns.

Superman, Batman, and The Cheese Factor

My feelings on Superman Returns are mixed. I grew up watching the Christopher Reeve versions on TV with my parents – I remember shuddering at the idea of the Phantom Zone and being transfixed by General Zod. I remember those films with an appreciation for their cheese factor. These were not "cool" films, a fact thrown into sharp relief after the release of Tim Burton's 1989 Batman. That movie was cool. It was beautiful, it was Gothic, it was dark. There was no darkness to Superman – in fact, Superman is designed to be about as anti-dark as you can get. And, to me at least, that darkness was cool.

Usually a good barometer of a boy is asking the simple question, "Batman or Superman?" I'd always pick Batman, hands down – he had cooler toys, he relied on his brains instead of ridiculous superpowers, and he was dark. Plus, Batman always offered the remote possibility that if you played your cards right, if you trained properly and made the right investments, you might actually be able to become Batman. You could never be Superman, because he was born a hero. Batman made himself a hero. Where Batman was at least marginally plausible, Superman was literally unbelievable.

That's why Superman Returns strikes me as an odd movie. I loved Bryan Singer's work on X-Men and X2, and so even though I was dubious I was still looking forward to this film. It's certainly not a bad film, although it's plagued by plot holes you could fly a battered, broken 747 through. Kevin Spacey turns in a strong performance as Lex Luthor, Brandon Routh does a servicable job as Clark Kent, and Kate Bosworth, while looking like she's twelve for most of the film, is a decent Lois Lane. Further, the film does what a film does well – the special effects are gorgeous and the great sweeping panoramic vistas are fantastic. But – and this is a big but – the flm is almost a case study in the strengths and weaknesses of different types of media.

Superman by Degrees

Perhaps the perfect example of this line of reasoning can be found in Lex Luthor. Spacey's interpretation of the world's richest, baldest supervillain is by turns charming and funny, although he never quite achieves true evil maniac status the way Jack Nicholson did in Burton's original Batman or Cillian Murphy did in Christopher Nolan's 2005 Batman Begins. More to the point, as my friend Ryan pointed out after the film, Spacey's Luthor doesn't quite achieve the erudite intelligence and plausible sinister genius of the animated Lex Luthor from the recent Justice League and Justice League Unlimited TV series, which was voiced by Clancy Brown, who also played Brother Justin Crowe in HBO's Carnivale. Nor does Spacey achieve the tantalizing moral ambivalence and heartwrenching sympathy-for-the-devil quirks of Michael Rosenbaum's master turn as a young Luthor in Smallville. Spacey's Luthor steals most of the scenes he's in, but he definitely feels flat by comparison – actually, he feels two-dimensional.

This may seem to be an obvious criticism of a comic book villain, but Rosenbaum and Brown both brought real depth and nuance to their Luthors. The animated Luthor had occasional moments of internal conflict, and he was a delight to watch as he concocted scheme after scheme and constantly jockeyed for position with other Superman villains like Brainiac and Darkseid. He was ruthless and brilliant and occasionally darkly noble – even occasionally reminding me of an Aaron Sorkin character.

Rosenbaum, on the other hand, did something unique with his Luthor: he made him almost heroic. In the first few seasons of Smallville, Rosenbaum's Luthor constantly and consistently stole the show by demonstrating a rarely-seen side of Lex. Rosenbaum's Luthor wasn't evil so much as he was a "morality-free zone", as my friend Shannon Farney used to say. This Luthor was suave and charismatic, but he was also extremely loyal. This Luthor suffered from a horrible relationship with his father, constantly yearned to prove himself to his surrogate father figure Pa Kent (played by John "Bo Duke" Schneider), and struggled to establish a genuinely close friendship with Tom Welling's Clark Kent. This Othello-like performance makes Smallville more like The Tragedy of Lex Luthor – as the seasons progress, we see how Clark's desperation to conceal his alien heritage repeatedly frustrates Lex's desire for friendship, and fuels Lex's drive to discover Clark's secret. Further, as Clark (and the other citizens of Smallville) turn to Lex for assistance only when they need financial help or some kind of professional connection and otherwise turn their back on him, we get to watch as Luthor's moral compass gets slowly and definitely skewed. It's simultaneously horrible to watch and yet completely compelling.

None of this comes through in Spacey's Luthor.

True, by the time we meet this Superman and this Luthor, they've known each other for a long time (and the film is definitely not in Smallville continuity), but it's not the slow decline I miss – it's the nuance of character. Sadly, Brandon Routh falters similarly as The Man of Steel. He does an okay job, but he also feels two-dimensional. True, it's hard doing a nuanced Superman when Big Blue is designed to be almost devoid of any character flaws, but Routh's Superman is neither as noble and inspiring as George Newbern's animated Superman from Justice League or as emotionally interesting as Tom Welling's turn in Smallville. Routh does deliver some genuinely funny and fairly human peformances in the guise of Clark Kent, but this is where Singer and company drop the ball – where Batman is a disguise for Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent is the disguise for Jor-El. Routh's Superman seems more at home in Clark Kent mode, and that's when we find him the most sympathetic. I think, if I remember correctly (which I might not be), Christopher Reeve's Superman felt more real as Superman than as Clark Kent. Routh's Superman feels too godly, operating at too much of a separation from the mortal human characters. One of the great running gags in Superman stories is watching Superman try to pass as a small, unassuming weakling, but aside from the accidental breaking of a glass picture frame, we don't get much of that in Superman Returns.

What Films Do Versus What Television and Comics Do

Where this gets really interesting to us Comparative Media Studies geeks is in how this demonstrates the strengths and weaknesses of each medium. Comics and television are both long-form narrative tools, whereas films are delivered (usually) in shorter, 2-hour bursts. Assuming an hourlong TV drama has 22 45-minute episodes in a season, that means Smallville has 16.5 hours to develop their characters versus a film's paltry two (or, in the case of Superman Returns, two and a half). A cartoon like Justice League usually has about 13 episodes in a season, each one running about 20 minutes long after commercials, so that's 260 minutes or 4.3 hours. Sure, these shows also have to dedicate a certain amount of time for stuff blowing up or else big chunks of their audience will go back to their PlayStations, but still – especially over the course of multiple seasons, a TV show necessarily offers characters more room to grow.

As for comics, assuming each issue of a comic is around 16 pages, multiply that by 12 and you get 192 pages. According to Superman's Wikipedia entry, Supes made his debut in the first issue of Action Comics in June 1938 – so that's sixty-eight years' worth of Superman comics. Even if you assumed there was only one Superman comic running continuously from then until now (which ought to send any comic geek into hysterics), that collected comic would be thirteen thousand and fifty-six pages long. 13,056 pages – the Modern Library edition of Tolstoy's War and Peace clocks in at a whopping 1,424 pages, but this collected Superman would be almost ten times as long. (Although it just might take much less time to read.)

Another area where film, TV and comics go head-to-head is in the sheer bang-for-your-buck factor. I'm not talking exclusively about how much entertainment a consumer gets dollar-for-dollar from a $3.95 comic versus a $10 movie ticket (although that should enter into this somewhere), I'm talking about special effects budgets. Comics actually come out ahead on this one – couple a writer with some imagination with a skilled artist and anything goes. Alan Moore obliterated New York with giant calamari in Watchmen, Neil Gaiman took us to Heaven, Hell and everywhere in between in Sandman: Season of Mists, and if you consider all the times that the universe has been destroyed and reassembled in any given book in the DC or Marvel universes... If you tasked Lucasfilm and the WETA Workshop with putting all of that onto film – at least 12 times a year, no less! – it'd be finacially apocalyptic. According to The Numbers, the budget for just 2.5 hours' worth of Superman Returns was $209 million. True, the digital wizards in Hollywood can do just about anything these days, but wizards still don't come cheap.

That said, film still takes the silver in this category. A distant third for budgeting is television, which is why special effects on TV shows still look weak compared to their silver screen big brothers. According to multiple sources, including Henry Jenkins' recent blog entry "More on Firefly and the Long Tail, the budget for Joss Whedon's Serenity was $1M per episode. That's a lot of visual effects, assume 45 minutes per episode and you still come out to less than a third of the runtime of Superman Begins. (The budget for Serenity was close to $40M.) True, I'm sure most of Superman Begins' payroll went to Singer and Spacey, but still – $209 million smackers divided by 2.5 hours is $83.6 million bucks an hour – 2.5 hours is 150 minutes, and $209M divided by 150 is a little more than $1.39M – which means that each minute of Superman Returns cost more than an entire episode of Firefly. By extension, that means that you could theoretically have produced almost ten years' worth of Firefly for the wad that Warner Brothers blew on Superman Returns.


Now, I'm sure some of you are screaming about how much crazy money Superman Returns will generate for the studio, and how poorly Serenity did at the box office by comparison, and I'm not going to argue that point. Sure, Chris Anderson's "nichebusters" probably won't turn in the ridiculously high ticket sales of these full-fledged $209M blockbusters, but they certainly seem like they could be more profitable.

Do films necessarily need bigger budgets than TV shows? No. Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's Mirrormask was made for only $4M and brought in over $860,000 in its super-limited theatrical release (which sounds awful until one realizes that Mirrormask was originally intended to only be a direct-to-video film). The key is to realize what each type of media does particularly well – films provide great, sweeping vistas and overwhelming sensory experiences. Wide panoramic shots work well on big theater screens but don't necessarily work as well on smaller TV screens. (Mobisodes and iPod video stuff get weird here because of how close you hold the screen to your eyes – a 2.5-inch screen held up to your nose can look bigger than a 60-inch screen hanging on the other side of a large room.) Films don't have as much time for character development as long-running TV shows, comics or novels.

So what do independent, web-based, zero-budget online TV shows do better than all these older media? Yeah. We're working on that. :)

Up, Up and Away

All media specialties aside, let's get back to Superman Returns. So far it sounds like I'm roundly panning this movie, but I'm really not, and here's why. Somewhere around the halfway point of the film I found myself thinking differently about the Superman/Batman concept I outlined earlier. For a moment, I found myself getting swept away by the cheesy goodness of Superman, wishing that all of America could get caught up in this notion of being a better person, a nearly perfect person, and incorporate into our daily lives the sense of light and hope and optimism that defines Superman, as opposed to the darkness and revenge that define Batman. There was a flicker of hope and admiration there, which reminded me of 1998, when the dotcom boom was in full swing and the whole world seemed full of opportunties. For that moment I was transported and elevated. For that moment, I was flying right alongside Big Blue.

That's the reason, I suppose, that I would suggest that people go see it. Not for any truly spectacular writing or dialogue, but because in a political environment like our current one, it's a refreshing feeling to once again see a solid demonstration of "Truth, Justice and the American Way" in action, untainted by things like Halliburton, the Patriot Act or Guantanamo Bay. It's defnitely worth the ten bucks for that little breath of inspiration and hope.

Still, looking forward, unless there's some seriously cool villain in the next Superman flick, I'm going back to Smallville and Batman.. What can I say? Hope's great, but darkness is still cool.