Ian Casselberry is a freelance writer, currently based in Asheville, NC. He is an editor at The Comeback and Awful Announcing

Previously, he has been a contributing writer for Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew, and SB Nation. In addition, he was a lead baseball writer for Bleacher Report. 

You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook, where he craves your attention.

He still plans to write that novel someday. 

("Pearls Before Swine" © 2005 Stephan Pastis)
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Entries in reading stack (7)


Finishing off 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

Despite an obvious love for comic books and superhero movies, it's been quite a while since I've actually read an extended run of a comic-book series.

But with the Marvel and DC apps on the iPad, I've dipped a toe back into comic books. This past weekend, I finished off the 25-issue run of Marvel Comics' Guardians of the Galaxy

It wasn't a marathon reading session. I've been chipping away at the series — once again spending more money on comics than I should — since Labor Day, shortly after Marvel announced it would be making Guardians of the Galaxy movie

I enjoyed the series at first, but it lost its way after eight or 10 issues. I knew the series was cancelled after 25 issues, so decided to see it through.

In doing so, I got back into two of the worst tendencies of my comic-book collecting days. (I think most collectors fall into these traps.) I stuck with a series even when it became clear that it wasn't very good and I wasn't enjoying it anymore. But I kept reading just to have, I don't know, a complete set.

(A complete set of what? Again, I don't know. I don't save the issues on my iPad, though they could be downloaded again if I wanted. But at least the comics don't fill boxes in my basement or garage anymore.) 

The biggest problem with Guardians of the Galaxy is that it constantly shuffled the most interesting characters (such as the lead, Peter Quill, who Chris Pratt will be playing) to the background, focusing on far less compelling — and annoying — ones, probably in the interests of pushing the larger story arcs ahead. 

I doubt the movie will make the same mistake. This is probably why I should save my disposable income for superhero movies, instead of comic books. 


Reading stack: Cameron Crowe's slump, Fincher's Spidey, and Lord of the Beatles

 I love Cameron Crowe movies. Almost Famous was fantastic. I still like Jerry Maguire, even though so much of it has been overplayed in pop culture. And I have a big soft spot for Singles.

But man, Elizabethtown was a major letdown. (I think I was so disappointed because the trailer really got to me. My father had just died.) On the bright side, Kirsten Dunst's character inspired Nathan Rabin to coin the term "Manic Pixie Dream Girl."

It also kind of exposed Crowe as formulaic, with protagonists that always go for the big move, fail, then have to come back from that. So is Crowe's upcoming We Bought a Zoo more of the same? [Slate]

While watching David Fincher and the cast of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo talk to Charlie Rose over the weekend, I recalled that Fincher was once interested in directing a Spider-Man movie. Except he didn't want to do the origin story.

As it turns out, Fincher was on the short list to direct the rebooted Spidey flick before Marc Webb was chosen. Should it be any surprise that the story he wanted to tell is probably the darkest, most tragic in the Spider-Man mythology? [Spinoff Online]

This doesn't sound like it could be true, but apparently it is. It's certainly the first I've heard of it. In 1969, The Beatles contacted Stanley Kubrick to ask him if he'd be interested in directing them in an adaptation of Lord of the Rings. As the story goes, Kubrick decided against doing it because he thought J.R.R. Tolkien's novels were "unfilmable."

But where do you even begin with this? Would John Lennon have played Frodo? Paul McCartney as Samwise Gamgee? Ringo would've made a great Gollum, I bet. I like the idea of George Harrison as Gandalf, as one fan-made poster here suggests. Of course, this is all overlooking trying to imagine what Kubrick would've done with this material. That is, if this story is true.  []

Last week would've been Bill Hicks' 50th birthday. It certainly would've been interesting to see how Hicks would've endured through the rise, fall and re-emergence of comedy in our culture. Would Hicks have done a comedy podcast? The form probably would've suited him wonderfully. Here, David Haglund looks at the six-minute set that was infamously cut from David Letterman's show in 1993. [Browbeat]

 Apparently, the ideal way to take a nap is in a hammock. I don't have a hammock. Also, the recommendation is for a 10-minute nap. I don't do 10-minute naps. Power naps have never worked that well for me. I just want to sleep more. But maybe I should string a hammock up in my garage and give it a try. [Men's Health]


Reading stack: Future mirrors, why 'Quantum' sucked and rabid skunks

I can't imagine using my bathroom mirror for more than checking to see if I need to comb my hair, if my eyes are red in the morning, or whether I need to shave. But apparently, the New York Times research and development lab has greater ambitions for their mirrors.

Imagine a mirror that's basically like a bigger iPad, where you could check the weather, your daily calendar, or get news headlines, mostly with voice commands. [Mashable]

Quantum of Solace was such a disappointing sequel to Casino Royale. How could one James Bond movie be so good, followed up by such a turd?

According to Daniel Craig, it was because of the 2008 writers' strike. No one could work on the "Quantum" script, so Craig and director Marc Forster had to come up with scenes on their own. I guess that helps explain why the story was so terrible. [The Playlist]

Is there really much of a difference between watching an old game on ESPN Classic and watching a movie you've seen before somewhere on cable? Honestly, I'd never thought about that before. But the main question that's posed here is which movies will you always stop and watch, no matter what?

The Fugitive is mentioned here, which would be on my list. Ocean's Eleven is another. Animal House. Raiders of the Lost Ark. I'd put both the Christopher Nolan Batman movies on my list too, though they don't seem to fit this idea, for some reason. [christymcdonald]

 I know directors don't usually like to talk about this stuff, out of respect to the actors in their films. But I love reading about actors who were previously cast in or auditioned for particular roles.

Like Christopher Walken trying out for Han Solo. Dougray Scott having to pass on Wolverine. I recently read that Thomas Jane turned down the role of Don Draper. Does he kick himself for that? We all won by Jon Hamm getting the nod. 

Steven Spielberg talked about alternate casting for some of his most famous movies to Entertainment Weekly[]

Encountering a skunk up close would be bad enough. (And if there's one thing I like about Asheville over Ann Arbor, it's that there don't appear to be any skunks here.) But what if that skunk had rabies? Three rabid skunks have been found in Ann Arbor this year! []


Reading stack: Bacon cheeseburgers, Superman and credit unions

 I've never listened to "The Fast Food Show" on Sirius XM, mostly because I don't subscribe to Sirius XM. But it sounds like an enjoyable show, hosted by Jon Hein of "Jump the Shark" fame.

So here was the argument posed on a recent show. Does bacon on a cheeseburger "ruin the integrity" of the cheeseburger? I know some love it. Me, I prefer a pretty plain burger. (Lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion.) Toppings have gotten out of control. Onion rings? Pineapple slices? No thanks. []

 Superman's jawline and hairstyle have undergone another adjustment with the new DC Comics reboot that features a younger Man of Steel. (By the way, I've read a few of those comics and keep meaning to post some thoughts here.) 

No more hair lacquered down with pomade and molded into that signature spit-curl. That looked particularly ridiculous when Superman was adapted to live-action, as with Brandon Routh in Superman Returns.

Artists also tended to draw him with a receding hairline that made him look way too old-fashioned. Then there was that mullet he had in the '90s. Awful. But he's got a full, tousled head of hair now. NPR's Glen Weldon does a... super job of cataloguing it all. [Monkey See]

Until this week, I was pretty happy with SunTrust as my bank. They had branches and ATMs all over Asheville, which seemed convenient. The people at my local branch are really nice. And their online banking features are pretty user-friendly.


But I got a letter this week telling me that I'll now have to maintain a minimum balance to avoid a monthly fee. The letter informed me the fee was implemented as of Nov. 10. I got the letter on Nov. 28. When I went online to view my transactions, I saw I'd been charged the fee on Nov. 23, even though my account had the minimum balance. However, it was under that amount on Nov. 1. So I got charged. But didn't the fee go into effect on Nov. 10? By then, I had the minimum balance.

The whole thing is making me consider taking my money to a credit union. It's not my statement against big corporate banks. I understand we got a good ride the past decade with free checking (except with those harsh overdraft fees), and banks need to make money. But I just feel like my bank's not being straightforward with me. Would that be as much of a concern with a credit union?  [Slate]

I'm obviously biased, but I think I have the cutest baby niece on the planet. The kid could totally go Gerber if that's the way her parents wanted to go. I tell her how cute and beautiful she is every chance I get. (Except when she's pulling my hair and throwing blocks in my face.)

But this essay by Lisa Bloom definitely gave me something to think about for the future. When Baby Niece gets older and is able to have conversations with us bigger people, do we need to stop talking about looks and stuff like that? Does that eventually contribute to self-esteem issues with little girls?

I'm not terribly worried. We already praise Baby Niece often for how smart she is. (She's getting a little too smart, if you ask me.) Besides, she seems more likely to sock someone in the face if they're not talking about what she wants to talk about. The kid loves when we read to her, and I'm betting she'll enjoy discussing books with us big kids in the future. [Huffington Post]


Reading stack: Tuesday's links

Should ordering a Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks put your Man Card in jeopardy? That is the question many male coffee lovers will surely face this fall, as the drink returns. (I can still hear the shriek of joy from a female customer two years ago at a Barnes & Noble when she was told the Pumpkin Spice Lattes were returning the next week. The entire store seemed to stop and turn. Way too excited, lady.)

I think we've progressed as a culture enough to give guys a break on this one, however. After all, pumpkin is delicious. (Unfortunately, it's in just about everything this season, ruining the novelty.) But just in case, maybe you should order it as a "Pumpkin Latte." [Gawker]

Did Netflix split its DVD and streaming businesses because of the U.S. Postal Service ending Saturday service and raising the price of postage as it tries to stave off bankruptcy? So maybe it's not so much that Netflix doesn't believe in the DVD business anymore (which many believe). Instead, it's that Netflix doesn't think the USPS will allow it to provide good service through the mail? [SLOG]

Of course, The Oatmeal has captured the idiocy of this new Netflix business model perfectly. ("See, if you just buy the bun, it's only $7.99!") [The Oatmeal]

I wonder if I'm in the minority on this, but I do not want to see the helmet stickers return to Michigan football. Getting rid of those decals was one of the best decisions Lloyd Carr ever made. That helmet is a thing of beauty. Why mess it up with a bunch of stickers? Here's one Michigan fan who definitely disagrees with that. [MVictors]

Apparently, the next trend in tentpole blockbuster movies will be properties in the public domain, as studios are weary of paying rights fees for comic book superheros, literary adaptations, boardgames and toys. So expect more Sherlock Holmes, Alice in Wonderland and Snow White types of films. First up might be a futuristic version of The Count of Monte Cristo or a retelling of Pinocchio. [Vulture]

I've never understood why Rick Santorum insists on continuing to run for the Republican presidential nomination. He has a better chance of winning than I do, but only because he's actually running. But after reading that he contacted Google to deal with the "problem" of the raunchy results that come up when you search his name, I think he should stay in the race. Go ahead; type in "Santorum." [Mediaite]


Reading stack: Tuesday's links

 I probably shouldn't admit this, but I have a mancrush on Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila. I even have an Avila shirsey, which I proudly wear to the gym with absolutely no fanfare. (Asheville is Atlanta Braves country. And a little bit of Cincinnati Reds territory, too.)

I've held that torch since he was called up from the minors in 2009 and hit five home runs in 29 games. Two seasons later, Avila has developed into one of the best catchers in baseball. This year, no one's been better.

As I said on the Knee Jerks podcast last night, I think he's the Tigers' most valuable player. That's not an exclusive opinion, by any means. ESPN's Steve Berthiaume is the latest to show Avila some love. [Sweet Spot]

 I'm something of a clean freak. I like to keep a tidy household. And often, I probably get downright anal about it. But alphabetizing your alphabet soup is taking things way too far. Besides, I'd get too hungry to finish off such a project. [Krulwich Wonders]

 The flagship Borders bookstore in downtown Ann Arbor closed for good on Monday. Here's another great eulogy for Borders, which is really a eulogy for bookstores, as well. For longtime Ann Arbor residents and followers of the book chain, the history of the company laid out in this article is already well-known. But there's a nice personal touch here, with quotes from several former employees, including one who's something of a legendary figure at the original store. []

 For me, Moneyball is one of the most anticipated movies of the fall. I'm sure many baseball fans and movie buffs feel the same way. I'm curious how much of a mainstream audience Brad Pitt will attract. (I'm guessing a sizable one.) It'll be interesting to see how film critics and baseball writers each view the film. Red Sox beat reporter Scott Lauber posted his take. [Boston Herald]

 And here's a film critic's perspective, courtesy of HitFix's Drew McWeeny. If most critics and filmgoers feel the same way he did, this thing might be a hit. [Motion Captured]

 Note to authors, prospective or otherwise, out there. Even if your book is lucky enough to see print, you might want to make sure the e-book edition gets a proper edit. Or you might miss a typo like the one in this romance novel, which would likely drastically change your visualization of the scene. Or maybe you're into this kind of thing. (Thanks, A!) [The Guardian]


Reading stack: Thursday's links

When planning to fire up the Casselbloggy again, I thought it would help if I kept a regular schedule. My part-time neighbor, who blogs at Biddy Bytes, posts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, a schedule which seemed like a great idea to me.

So I'd like to try something similar, though I'm sure I'll have trouble sticking to it on the days when the paying gigs require more attention. What I have in mind is for there to be posts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. And then on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I'll post links to articles that I think are worth reading.

Lazy? I don't know. Probably. But I write daily Detroit Tigers links posts every other week for, and enjoy doing them. I loved posting links at Bless You Boys and in the earlier incarnations of my personal blog, too. So we'll try it here.

I promise the intro to links posts won't usually be this long.

One of the reasons I used to hate getting scolded or lectured by my father when I was a kid was that it would usually happen while he was eating his dinner. And I could not stand the sound of him chewing. If he was checking my homework or something like that, I would have to leave the table. "Hey, where are you going?" Just call me when you're ready. God.

As it turns out, there's a name for this: Misophonia. And many people have it much worse. I don't hate the sound of everyone eating, though. (I'm sure it generally applies to people I don't like very much anyway.) Unless you chew with your mouth open. Then I would like to stab you in the hand with a fork. [New York Times]

There have been some fine eulogies written for Borders over the past couple of months. (Here's my take on Borders' downfall, as someone who used to work there.) Keith Phipps laments the loss of a place where you could once find damn near any book (or be helped by someone who could get you there.)

Two things I think he gets right: The difference between Borders and Barnes and Noble, and how Borders' demise kind of resembles what's been happening in this country. [A.V. Club]


Here's a melancholy slideshow of photos with the World Trade Center far off in the distance. How often with these photos taken without giving much thought to the two towers in the background? (On a personal note, I certainly remember seeing the towers off in the distance the first time I visited New York City.) [Slate]

Will Leitch has been the most entertaining and insightful film critic writing on the web for the past couple of years. Rightfully, that got him a gig with Yahoo's new film blog.

His latest review is for "Warrior," which I definitely want to see this weekend, even though I know the story will be predictable. All sports movies are. (But they have to feel authentic.) According to Leitch, this is no exception. [The Projector]

Martin Scorsese's documentary on George Harrison premiered at the Telluride Film Festival last weekend. It sounds like there will be some tough moments to watch, including tearful interviews and a recounting of the incident in which Harrison was stabbed several times by a crazed fan.

But I'm certainly looking forward to learning more about the making of "All Things Must Pass." The film will play on HBO October 5. [Rolling Stone]