"Crazy From the Heat"

I love the summer. It's when all my favorite movies come out; it's when the weather is always warm (or, in Texas, so warm your head catches fire); it's a time when the annual comic-book conventions hit and I get to see some of my friends that I only see once a year and it's a time that, no matter what my work schedule actually is, I feel almost like I'm on vacation.

Summer movies are like a big old box of chocolates. And no, I don't mean in the Forrest Gump sense, although that's true too. What I mean is, you go through the year with movies that are more like regular food, either the slicked-up fast food greasy fare that the studios held back until they could release them on an unsuspecting populace or the dainty but gourmet fare that is the award-winning films every year. Summer is when you gorge on the empty calories of sweet, sweet event films, action blockbusters and comedies. Every so often you bite into one of those damn fruit things that looked like a caramel, but most of the time you're rewarded with something cool.

Okay, now that I've beaten that metaphor to death, I thought I'd mention real quickly some of the movies I'm anticipating this summer. I expect Mission: Impossible 2 to be the best film of the summer, because the trailer is better than half the movies I've seen in the past few months. Tom Cruise? Hell, it's John Woo, they could have Paul Reubens in the lead role and it would still rock. Gladiator will probably follow closely behind on the coolness meter. Dinosaurs will be typical Disney fare, but very, very pretty. Shanghai Noon will probably be quite stupid but fun (keep in mind, I enjoyed Rush Hour… I even have the DVD), The Patriot looks fantastic and Shaft is gonna be a lot of fun too. And that's just May and June, leaving out interesting stuff like Me, Myself & Irene and Chicken Run.

The heat… well, I know some people don't like the heat. I know my wife doesn't like the heat. Me, I grew up in Maryland and Colorado, and spent at least two winters bike-riding every day through cold and snow to get to work and school. If I never see snow again in my lifetime, I can die a happy man. I love the heat, I love wearing shorts and T-shirts and not having to worry about whether it's going to be cold enough to bother with a jacket. As long as I have an air-conditioned place to hide every now and then, I don't mind blistering Texas summers. And even without the air-conditioning, I'd prefer Texas summers to East Coast winters.

The Cons… I only attend one Con a year. I'd love to make it to Heroes Con this year, given that my newly married sister and her husband live there and we could probably stay with them for free, but airfare is horrendously expensive and Suzanne getting the time off work not terribly likely. I'd love to go to New Orleans, but see the above, add in hotel costs. So I'll be hitting San Diego. I love conventions. I have a ton of friends who I see only at conventions or when I get married (which means last year was a bonus year, I got to see them twice) and a lot of other people that I meet at conventions, or creators who I love to talk to (I'm looking forward to talking DVDs and movies with Bendis, for example, and hoping that I can talk to Kurt Busiek and find out if he knows anything about re-releases on the Richard Stark novels that he, through Wonder Man, turned me on to) or get sketches from or buy art from. And I always come home with new comics to read and a bunch of great memories. If June is my movie nirvana this year, July is going to be my comics nirvana.

As for the vacation thing, it's mostly a feeling that I can get outside whenever I want. It's memories of being a kid, when summer meant that for three months you didn't have to do anything but drive your parents crazy (check the kid contract… it's in there.) I never got sent off to camp or any of that stuff, so summer was my time to hang out with my friends, ride my bike, play outside… it was cool. And I'm enough of a kid still that those simple pleasures are a lot of what I still love.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go crank up the A/C and take my dog outside to enjoy the summer sun.

Randy W. Lander

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