July 31, 2003

Here's a HOLY CRAP! moment for you . . .

Refusing help, woman gives birth aboard T

This woman in Boston gave birth while standing up on what probably is similar to The El train here in Chicago. She simply picked the baby up, refused any help from the other passengers, and just walked off the train.

Best quote from the article: After leaving the train and heading for the stairs up to the station's main lobby, witnesses said, the placenta fell to the platform. Judge turned around, grabbed the afterbirth, put it in her shoulder bag, and headed upstairs.
Here's something Ian will enjoy: The new Teen Titans cartoon show will get its own comic called Teen Titans Go! There's already a comic called Teen Titans which has very little to do with the cartoon show on Cartoon Network - hence the silly name.

The cartoon show is a lot of fun. Not nearly as dramatic or heady as any of the other DC properties to get the animation treatment. Its a silly, fun cartoon aimed to appeal to kids. The Batman, Superman or Justice League cartoons have been developed to appeal to kids and adults.

What's great about the comic book is that its going to be produced by two top-notch comic creators: written by J. Torres and art from Todd Nauck and Lary Stucker. I've enjoyed Torres writing in the past - he's a classy writer with a talent for funny scripts. I fell in love with Nauck's and Stucker's artwork back on their run of Young Justice - a Teen Titans-like comic starring Robin, Superboy and Impulse (a Kid Flash so to speak). I won't have any problem with Ian picking this up on our trips to the comic shop.
Vatican Urges Unity Against Gay Marriages

What I've never been able to understand is what the Vatican and people expressing views like President Bush are afraid of. How is letting the United States recognize a legal relationship union between John and Ted hurt marriage? How does it hurt anyone?!

Two homosexuals are in committed relationship - as committed as any man-woman relation - yet they are denied many civil benefits solely on the fact that the two people in the committed relationship are of the same sex. They're not asking for more benefits or special benefits, they just wanted to be treated equally.

The Catholic Church tries to rally non-Catholics to their cause by claiming that this issue concerns "natural moral law," which also baffles me. Natural moral law? How does the Vatican define "natural moral law" I wonder? In all the ways I can think to define it, gay marriages never really seems to come into play. I end up with things like; do not kill another person, do not lie, only kill the as many animals as you can eat, treat others like you would like to be treated. Marriage? Not in "natural moral law." Maybe in natural Catholic moral law, but not in natural moral law.

In brief: 1) as long as you behavior is not harming others phycially, economically, or psychologically, 2) you're not trying to force others to follow that behavior, and 3) you're not leeching off society, but trying to contribute to it - I probably don't care what you do.
There is a webcam set up over at the Star Wars website. It broadcasts from different locations at the studios where Lucas is filming Episode III. I usually don't pay it much attention, but today I left it on in the background while I did my work. Whenever I thought about it, I'd fli over to see what was going on. Most of the morning it was just a sound stage. Guys walking here - guys walking there.

Then about 10:30 am it switched to a make-up room. Here I've gotten to watch an actress go under transformation to become some Star Wars alien extra. Its been pretty wild.
This is frickin' amazing. Guy flew - without using an aircraft - across the English Channel. He wore what looks like a set of airplane wings on his back. Was dropped from 32,000 feet and glided across the Channel. Amazing.

Take a look at him him flight

Here's another shot of him gliding.

July 30, 2003

Another shining example of the good old American Entrepreneurial spirit.

Promotion racks up dollars for implants Hair stylist Erica Grabczyk recently launched a special promotion called "Ta Ta Tuesdays," offering her clients -- they're all guys -- the opportunity to contribute to her breast implant fund. Grabczyk, who is currently a 36A, will also give contributors a chance to vote on her new cup size, anywhere from a B to a D.
I miss living in Cleveland: Wedding reception ends up being a real riot -- with five arrested The trouble started when an off-duty police officer spotted a 13-year-old girl drinking alcohol and threatened to end the party. The groom's father became so peeved that five groomsmen had to keep him from attacking the cop.
I'm a huge fan of Jack "The King" Kirby's Fourth World comics. I've got the collected editions that DC Comics issued over the last few years and enjoy reading them over and over. Found a great summary of the Forth World saga that anyone interested in learning about The King's crowing achievement in comics should read.

Kirby was hugely creative comic book talent - years ahead of his time.




Speaking of quality films on TCM. Fire up the ole Betamax, Pa. There's going to be some swell movies on this Friday;

(All Times Central)

7:00 PM Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) An idealistic Senate replacement takes on political corruption. James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains. D: Frank Capra. BW 130m.

9:15 PM The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) An experienced gunman and a peace-loving tenderfoot clash with a Western bully. John Wayne, James Stewart, Lee Marvin. D: John Ford. BW 123m. LBX CC

Liberty Valance is going to be televised in widescreen to boot. I hope my in-laws, who will be visiting Friday night, like John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. Cause that's what were doing at my house - watching a great classic John Ford film.
One of the unexpected perks when Comcast expanded the basic cable offerings back in June was the addition of Turner Classic Movies. I always thought I would enjoy the station, but really didn't pine for it like I did the Cartoon Network.

However, lately I find myself watching more of TCM than I do of the Cartoon Network. What's so bad about this is that TCM usually starts a film at 10pm - I'll get hooked on it and before I know its 11:15 and I am exhausted. I've lost out on more sleep in the last month because of TCM offerings than dealing with the birth of my first two kids combined. Don't get me wrong - I love the movies and the station, I just don't being so tired.

Now I read that Turner Classic Movies has launched a marketing campaign to attract younger viewers. Apparently the average age of TCM viewers is 55. The campaign centers around TCM-branded merchandise designed to make old movies hip. To this I respond, "You had me at 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington'. You had me at 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.'" I don't need hip merchandise to draw me to classic films - I just need quality classic films. TCM's got em.
As someone who works in web development, I've always hated AOL. The list of crimes they have perpetrated against web development is lengthy and legendary. They also create a mass of users who are ignorant of what the internet actually is. So I always love finding something that smacks AOL down, and puts them in their place.

AOL Commercial

Thanks to Sam Belden for sharing this with me.
Here's something to get you all pumped and excited for the work day: Employers Are Giving Smaller Raises

Favorite quote from the article: Employers "are saying I can't raise prices. Well, I've got to raise productivity," said Steven Gross, a compensation consultant for Mercer. "People are flogging their workers to get more out of them as a means to increase profits, coupled with the fact that there's more supply than demand for labor today."

Its not enough that in last 50 years we have successfully cultivated a 24-7 work environment, where for many people their work is their life - constantly tettered to their corporate task-masters by pagers, email and cell phones. And for this total submission to the employeer, workers are awarded 2, maybe 3 weeks of vacation time a year. Like 14 days is sufficient time to recharge from being constantly working for something as ultimately meaningless and superficial as making money. Now companies will not be raising the salaries of their workers to match raising prices, making it even more difficult and stressful for people. Long hours, low pay, no free time. Sometimes the American free economy pisses me off. I'd rather go off to live in the mountains where at least I could be self-sustaining.
Would all the middle-aged, over-weight, slow-walkin' women please GET THE FUCK OFF THE SIDEWALKS!

My god! There's nothing quite like getting stuck behind 2 or 3 sloth-like biddies shuffling down the street trying to coordinate their fat bodies, their innane conversations, their 40 pound purse of shit, and their grande-loco mocha-shit cup. Its like walking behind a frickin' glacier.

July 29, 2003

More fun info from the Harper's Weekly email newsletter:

The Bush Administration was lobbying to amend a provision of the Kyoto Protocol that would phase out methyl bromide, the single most ozone-destructive chemical still used in industrialized nations. Scientists estimate that the ban would prevent 2 million cases of cancer in the United States and Europe alone; the administration's proposed amendment would increase the chemical's use threefold. - I'd like to hear the party-line on this decision. Is methyl bromide that essential to the U.S. industry?

A mayor in southern Spain banned men from going out on Thursday nights; the mayor, who will deploy brigades of women to patrol the streets and issue fines to errant males, proclaimed that "in future, Thursday will be a day for women." - No witty comment. Just thought this was funny.

The Malaysian government decreed that a man may divorce his wife via text message; under Islamic Sharia law men are allowed to divorce their wives by uttering the word "talaq" ("I divorce you") three times. - Implement this in America and a lot of lawyers are out of a job. Actually - I think my divorce-prone father might already be employing this technique.

Americans were spritzing their offspring with "ChildCalm," a spray that purports to mollify unruly children. - Where do I get it?

German scientists announced that vacation lowers your IQ. - Bastards! Don't they know they're suppose to keep findings like that to themselves.

July 28, 2003

Legendary Entertainer Bob Hope Dead at 100

Thanks for the memories.

Looking forward to tributes Turner Classic Movies or AMC might run in honor of Bob Hope. He made some very fun movies.

July 25, 2003

I think I might have linked to this before - but I found the site again today and I just have to share:

Kikkoman
Gave blood this morning and got my one gallon pin. Apparently I have donated over a gallon of my own blood - and I'm already halfway to my second gallon. On previous visits to donate they kept forgetting to give me the pin, but I got it today. Funny, I've been going along for the last few years, donating every 8 - 9 weeks, never really thinking about how much I was giving. I just donate because; 1) its easy and helps other people, 2) I don't feel like I contribute positively to the community any other way right now, so this is a simple way to try and rectify that, 3) the people at Life Source Blood Services are really nice. It's kinda fun going there. Now to hear that I've given up a gallon of my own blood makes is seem like I'm really doing something. I just bought a few gallons of milk at Dominick's. I know how heavy a gallon of liquid is and what it looks like to poor it all out. So now I'm imagining a gallon container with my blood. Wow.

Ian's birthday is this weekend. He's turning 4. Its odd to think of myself as the father to a 4-year old. Four isn't a baby anymore - this is a fully active, reasoning, person. He's just smaller and can't read yet. Its weird. Ian turning four doesn't' make me feel old - just different. It's hard to explain. I need to think about it more - see if I can pull the words together to describe what's going on.

No party for Ian this weekend though. That's next weekend. We're doing a combo Ian/Emma party, so we've scheduled it in between their two birthdays. Ian's still getting a small gift from us on Saturday - a model Thomas the Tank Engine train set that is motorized. He's still as much into Thomas now as he was when he was 18 months old. Other interests have come and gone - but Thomas the Tank Engine and trains in general remain the top interest. Plus, a couple weeks ago my Mom took Ian downtown to visit the Museum of Science and Industry. There they have a huge model train display. Ever since, he talks about getting model trains that "go by themselves" for our house. Heather and I think he really is going to flip over the motorized Thomas set.

The rest of the gifts will come at the party. Ian's theme for his birthday: Buzz Lightyear. Buzz Lightyear on the plates and napkins. He's getting some Buzz Lightyear stuff from Heather and I (Toy Story 2 DVD, sheatshirt, t-shirt, etc.). And the crowning achievement in his Buzz Lightyear birthday - a birthday cake in the shape of Buzz Lightyear. Heather did it last year. She made a cake that looked like Larry Boy. I'm confident she can do it this year with Buzz. I'll post pictures.

Emma, by the way, will be having Care Bear plates and napkins. No special cake for her this year - though she is getting her own cake. I forget what Heather said she's making for the little Princess.

Finished reading Legends in Exile yesterday. Exceptional comic. Enjoyed it more than I expected. Legends in Exile collects the first 5-issue story arc of the ongoing monthly title from Vertigo/DC. The concept for the series is that all the classic fairy tale and mythological creatures fled their magical homelands out of fear of the mysterious Adversary, and now disguise themselves so that they might live in New York City among the "mundanes." The first story arc is a mystery. Snow White's sister, Rose Red, may have been kidnapped or worse - dead - and Bigby Wolf (aka The Big Bad Wolf) is set on the case.

I love the concept and the execution. There now exists in the mundane world an underground government of Fabletown, ruled over by King Cole with Snow White as the real power mover for the government. Willingham goes back to the origins of these characters, not the Disney-fied versions, for his inspiration. The results are exceedingly more interesting characters and situations. He is doing an excellent job of mining these past stories to find new stories to tell in the modern day.

The first story is a straight up murder mystery - nothing too elaborate, but it provides the perfect introduction to the mystical world Willingham is inviting us into. The process of hunting down suspects, interviewing them, and following through on basic procedural steps allows us to learn the basics of Fabletown and get to know the main characters in a natural manner. It allows Willingham to take us to a number of spots in New York, reveal their hidden interiors, and explain the basics of the Fables' society without the comic reading like a "who's who" or some cheesy source book.

It isn't all praise for the story though. I did feel that this initial story could have been 4 issues, but Willingham stretched it out to five. Essentially the last 4 pages of the fourth chapter were the first 4 pages of the fifth chapter. I got tired of Bigby explaining the solution to the case. However, Willingham redeems by including a short prose story with 2 gorgeous illustrations that he did himself. The tale provides more insight into the character of Bigby Wolf and stylishly captures the feel of fairy tales of old. It was a treat.

Lan Medina's art is beautiful. He captures the fantastical elements of his subjects, but roots them in a modern, mundane world. Definitely want to see more of Medina's work.

There is already a second collection out: Animal Farm, which collects issues #6-10. I plan to pick it up. The series feels like a real winner. Something fun and entertaining to read. Not sure if I add it to my monthly pull list though. I might just opt to pick up the collections as the come out. It will be nice having a complete story to sit down and enjoy all at once. Also will be easy to lend out to people interested in tasting what comic books have to offer.

Buy Fables: Legends in Exile at Amazon.com

July 24, 2003

coverThis week I finished reading Children of God, Mary Doria Russell's follow-up to her book The Sparrow. My Dad gave me The Sparrow three years ago for Christmas - he went to grade school with Russell and thought I might like the book. The quick and dirty on The Sparrow is this: life is discovered on a planet, Rakhat, and the Jesuits decide to send a delegation to the newly found planet and they're not interested in waiting for the United Nations to sanction anything. They are going for ad majorem Dei gloriam: for the greater glory of God. Only one person from the delegation survives, Fr. Emilio Sandoz, SJ, but even he does not escape unharmed. Children of God, which my Father gave to Heather for Christmas last year (go figure), continues the story of Emilio Sandoz; how he rebuilds himself after the events on Rakhat and how his time on Rakhat has forever changed the people of that planet.

Together with The Sparrow, Children of God creates one giant novel about Emilio's spiritual death and rebirth. Emilio spiritually dies in The Sparrow, the result of watching and experiencing horrific acts while on the alien planet. The result is Emilio completely turns his back on God. He comes to the conclusion that there are two options: either God exists and that he vicious - allowing unspeakable evil to exist, or there is no God and Emilio has been wasting his time trusting and following folklore and myths. He chooses the denial of God's existence.

Children of God follows Emilio has he slowly puts himself back together physically, mentally and emotionally. Along the way he finds his way back to his faith and to God.

coverThe plot and character development didn't seem as tightly focused as the first novel, but it is still a well-written book. Russell's real strength is in the details she put into the book in regards to language, social structures, philosophy, and anthropology. It's staggering. She practically developed two whole new languages for these two novels and developed a society with customs and cultural structure totally different than anything on Earth. I guess having degrees in Cultural Anthropology, Social Anthropology, and a Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology gives you some insight in how to construct an alien, un-worldly culture and social structure. He detail makes it believable, which in turns makes you care more about the characters and the history.

One of the things I found most interesting about this book is an event that occurred halfway through the novel. Without giving too much away, in Children of God a return trip to Rakhat has been planned. Both the Pope and the Father General of Jesuits have decided that Emilio has to be on that trip. It is God's will that Emilio returns. Emilio is dead set against returning - the suffering he underwent there is too horrific. He cannot return under any circumstances. Even when it is discovered that one member of the original crew that traveled to Rakhat is still alive and on Rakhat, Emilio still refuses to return. But the higher-ups have decided he has to go back. Of course, when the ship leaves for Rakhat, Emilio is on it - even though everything about the character said he wouldn't. I felt cheated in how Russell gets him on the ship. It seemed like a cop-out - a cheap way to manipulate the plot and disregard the natural behavior of her characters. It was like she couldn't think of any other way to get Emilio on the ship that fit with his character, so she resorted to a way of just getting him on the ship.

The appendix of the book included an interview with Russell in which she talks about that scene. She talks about her frustration with getting Emilio on the ship to Rakhat. She knew, like the Pope and the Father General, that Emilio needed to go back to Rakhat, but she didn't know how to get him on the ship. Finally she gave in and used the event she did.

The event has consequences through out the rest of the book, and as we move past it into the rest of the story, it doesn't seem as strange anymore. It starts to fit - almost makes sense. But at the time its such a kick in the head you have to re-read the passage a few times to convince yourself what has happened actually happened.

I found the combination of the actual story and the writer's comments on the story made for a fascinating glimpse into the creative process. I've often heard that characters dictate how a writer writes them. They become real for the writer and the writer simple puts down on paper what his creation tells him to. Here was a great example. Russell felt the same frustration that her fictional Pope and Father General were experiencing with dealing with the fictional Emilio Sandoz. Russell couldn't change Emilio character any more than she could change herself. Therefore Emilio forced her to have her fictional characters take the nearly unimaginable steps they take to get Emilio on the ship to Rakhat. The story she's writing depends on it. Then she makes her fictional characters come to terms with what they have done. Captivating stuff.

Anyway, don't let the fact that the lead character is a Jesuit priest and the theological themes scare you away from this novel. It is not Christian propaganda like the Left Behind novels. Its well-crafted Science Fiction. Faith plays a role, but the lead character could have been Jewish, Buddhist, or Islamic, and the central journey the character takes would have worked as well and the conclusion would have been the same: we are more together than we are a part.

Jesuits have a tradition of exploration - of going first into a newly discovered land to learn. Ad majorem Dei gloriam. Therefore it only made sense that the discovery of a new planet would mean Jesuits would make an effort to reach this new world. The lead character had to be a Jesuit and the exploration of faith, by extension, had to be approached through a Christian point of view.

I highly recommend these two books. Read em separately, or back to back as one large novel. Either way you will be challenged and entertained at the same time.

Buy The Sparrow from Amazon.com

Buy Children of God from Amazon.com
I was on Amazon.com last week looking for books to buy Ian and Emma for their up-coming birthdays. While on the site I noticed that Amazon was running a sale on DVDs - some of them listed as low as $9.99, so I decided to take a look at what was available at the bottom price.

Crap, crap, Captain Ron, crap, crap, Femalien, crap, crap - wait, what's this: MONEY PIT

Fantastic! The Money Pit, starring Tom Hanks and Shelly Long, is one our family's cult favorites - or at least one of my brother's and mine cult favorites. I think Kevin and I have watched it together roughly 25 times. We quote it constantly. That movie plus Murder By Death, Dragnet (also starring Hanks), and Ghostbusters give my brother and I a ton of goofy quotes to throw around when we get together. Now I can own it on DVD - widescreen at that!

So, Money Pit plus the books for Ian and Emma didn't get me to the Amazon.com SuperSaver shipping rate (i.e. Free Shipping). Hmmm. What to do? Heather would not approve of me paying shipping charges for a DVD version of the Money Pit. She thinks the movie's funny and all, but she fails to understand the bigger appeal of the movie to my brother and I. (Frankly, I can't explain it either. All I know is every time I hear the line, "You think you know somebody, then one day Israeli Intelligence shows up at the door," I shoot pop out my nose - even if I'm not drinking any.)

I digress. I need to get over $25 so I get free shipping, cause Heather will frown on paying shipping for a DVD of a second-rate comedy from 1986. Hmmm. I KNOW! Buy her something from her Amazon.com Wish List. Ah. Problem solved.

The shipment from Amazon arrived yesterday, and last night after finishing my work I popped in the DVD to enjoy the comedic stylings of Hanks and Long in digital video quality and rich 5.1 DTS. The DVD said it had bonus material. Hmmm, I thought, lets check that out.

The bonus material consisted of a "making of" documentary that I didn't watch, the original trailer that I did watch (it was very bad), and something called "recommendations". I clicked on that and was taken to a screen that showed the movie posters of three other Tom Hanks movies, Apollo 13, The Burbs, and something else I can't remember, maybe Turner and Hooch. Lame.

Jumped over to the movie and watched the first 15 minutes. Long enough to get to the Israeli Intelligence line. Also got to hear one of the great lines from Alexander Godunov's character, Max Beissart, "The Union says that I have to let you go to lunch, despite the way you've played. Those of you with a conscience won't be able to eat and those of you whose conscience matches your talent - go stuff yourselves, I hope you choke!" Ah. Life can be good sometimes.

Heather really seemed to like her book, too.
Those bastards! For all that is good and holy, Leave ice cream alone.

Ice Cream 'Isn't Health Food'-Study

July 23, 2003

Here, read this: As Bosses Power Nap, Cubicle Dwellers Doze

I'm going to go find a bathroom stall to sleep in.
There's this goofy couple I see on the train from time to time. They always sit up on top, all the way at the back. He could be 30-ish, but look 40 - or he's a young looking 40-year old. He's big, too. Like a tank. Round - sturdy - solid. Looks like he has the personality of petrified tree. I don't know. Never talked to him - just looking at him gives you the impression that he would find molds and fungi fascinating.

A girl is always sitting with him. I think it's his wife. Could be a sister, but I doubt it. They never talk to each other. He sits and reads his paper - his huge tank body taking up 3/4 of the seat. She sits next to him silently, usually staring straight ahead or out the window and looking absolutely miserable. She's pretty though - a bit chunky, but not in an overweight way. More of a filled out way. She looks like a nice, friendly girl. Someone who should be smiling.

Train arrives at the station, they get up and leave together - and if how they interact on the train isn't weird, then this is: She doesn't walk next to him. They don't hold hands. She walks just a little behind him. Its like she's his wingman. Close enough so anyone watching would know that they are "together", but not side-by-side like an equal. They're both white - blonde hair, so I don't think it's a strange cultural thing that I'm not aware of. I guess if she's his sister, then there wouldn't be any hand holding - but wouldn't you, as a brother, at least talk to her? Wouldn't a sister either walk step for step with her brother or just walk at her own pace, not worrying about being near this hulking mass of mute manhood? Regardless, in my gut I feel that they're husband and wife.

Does he not want her to talk to him in public? Is he horribly dominating in the relationship? Walk behind me. Don't look at me. Don't kiss my goodbye in the train station. You embarrass me. Why does she always look so sad? Why do they squeeze together in one of the smaller seats up on top instead of getting the wider seats down below? Is she happy?

These are the questions I always ask myself when I see the two of them. I mean she appears to be so miserable - never smiles. She just seems so nice. Seems like a girl who should be smiling.
Words to live by:

The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind.
-Humphrey Bogart

Reality is an illusion that occurs due to lack of alcohol.
-Anonymous
Fasinating reading for a Wednesday morning: 101 Amazing Earth Facts

July 22, 2003

click on the comic to read it . . .



I love comics.
Urban Dictionary - very funny
Interesting tidbits from this week's Harper's Weekly e-mail newsletter:

Vertebrae of a plesiosaur, a long-necked sea reptile that lived 150 million years ago, were found at Loch Ness, in Scotland. - curiouser and curiouser

The Department of Homeland Security announced that Microsoft was chosen as its exclusive supplier of desktop and server software; shortly thereafter Microsoft acknowledged a critical security flaw that permits hackers to take over computers running the latest version of its Windows operating system. - smooth move, Ex-Lax

A truck driver stopped in the middle of Interstate 65 in Knoxville, Tennessee, took off his clothes, and ran around naked. - but was he given a ticket?
Pussy: Powell Wants to Leave FCC Post

Stand up like a man and take the heat for your colossally bad decision regarding FCC regulations.
Could this signal the beginning of intelligent, entertaining television programming?

Older is Better

Probably not. Until then its crap, crap, and more crap - all written to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
Officials See Threat in Bush Newspaper Cartoon

I can see the concerns on both sides here: safety of the President vs. freedom of speech. But is it a real threat? Its a pro-Bush cartoon.
New Music Download Service Launches

BuyMusic.com launches with the cheapest per song rate on the market - $.70 and has about 300,000 songs (iTunes has about 200,000). In the article, the founder of the company, Scott Blum, calls Steve Jobs a visionary, but says he's on the wrong platform. He's referring, of course, to Apple's small market share in the personal computing business and the fact that currently iTunes is only available on Apple computers.

However, further along in the article something else comes to light: "Jobs secured uniform licensing deals from all the record companies that allow all iTunes songs to be burned onto CD an unlimited amount of times, save for a restriction for making multiple CDs with the exact song lists. All songs on iTunes can also be transferred to up to three different computers and to the iPod, a portable digital music player.

Blum was not able to obtain uniform licensing rights from the record labels and artists. As a result, different songs on BuyMusic have different restrictions for how often, if at all, they may be burned onto CDs or copied to other PCs or portable music devices.
"

Wrong platform? Maybe only under-appreciated. But Jobs know how to put a product together. Even at $.70 why would I download a song in the Windows Media format which I may or may not be able to burn onto a CD depending on how well (or poorly) Mr. Blum was able to negotiate with a record label?

BTW: iTunes releases its Windows version of the service later this year.

July 21, 2003

Heather called me at work on Friday with some news.

"I bought some meat."

I congratulated her. She seemed pretty proud of herself.

"No, you don't understand. I bought meat from a guy selling it out of the back of his truck."

Oh. Now you've got me interested. Tell me more about this meat. So she did. For buying a case of chicken, she got a case of beef for free. Each case contains 8 different cuts, each individually vacuum-sealed. Huge chicken breasts, all marinated differently. T-bones, filet mignon, steak burgers. It's actually quite a deal. Chicago Premium Meats I think they are called.

Saturday we got out some of the steak burgers to grill. Unlike the other cuts, which are all individually sealed, we discover the burgers are sealed up in packs of 4. We don't need four burgers so we try to invite some people over. Everyone says they're already got plans.

"Well, did you tell 'em where we got the meat before or after they declined?" Heather asked me. After I tell her. They aren't turning us down because we're pushing meat bought off the back of a truck. Right?

I grill em up and they are fantastic. Easily the best burgers I've ever grilled at home. They are delicious. Even Ian eats some. Heather has the left over burger the next day for lunch. Now I'm really looking forward to the rest of the cuts.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


The International House is closing and unfortunately I never got to the store until their going out of business sale.

The International House was a store in the Fox Valley Mall area that specialized in collectibles: statues, Lladros, Department 56, Snow Babies, crap like that. I collect Department 56's Dickens' Village series. My collection is modest, but I really enjoy it and I think it brightens up the family room at Christmas time. I'm particular to the buildings based on Dickens' A Christmas Carol, but really anything from the Dickens series will do.

So now the International House, which according to Heather (who'd been there a number of times and bought a few things for my collection as gifts) had the best selection she'd ever seen, is going out of business. I herded the family into the van and headed over there Sunday afternoon to see what was left on sale.

They had been pretty picked over, but there were a few things of interest. Actually I found three pieces that I wanted; Cratchit's Corner, The Slone Hotel, and The Home of Sherlock Holmes. The first two were Christmas pieces, The Home of Sherlock - while in the Dickens Village style, was not decorated like it was Christmas-time. I was leaning towards Cratchit's Corner, but someone took the last one while Ian and I were looking at some of the other buildings they had on display. Curses!

Therefore, I decided on the Home of Sherlock Holmes because of my love of the character and his stories. The Slone Hotel would have been a nice addition - very Christmas-y looking - but the Sherlock felt more satisfying of a choice. Plus, it came with a small Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson figurine to place outside the building. It should be a fun addition to my Christmas display this year.
Pizza Cuts Cancer Risk

Whoo-Hooo! Slowly but surely my diet is being justified. Now, all we need is someone to find the positive effects of drinking milk shakes and I can coast right into old age worry-free.
Report on USA Patriot Act Alleges Civil Rights Violations

Does this surprise anyone? People have been screaming about how the Patriot Act opens the doors to the Federal government for all kinds of questionable behavior since about five minutes after the bill was passed into law. If Congress hadn't been so gung-ho on passing the damn thing, and actually read the bill, it never would have passed.

Next week's surprise revelation: The Department of Homeland Security is actually George Bush's Domestic Propaganda machine trying to keep the masses ignorant and scared.


Caption ideas:
Imperial troops have entered the mall. Imperial troops have entered the . . . . bzzzzzzzzzzzzzt

or

Vader rewards his top performing battalion with a trip to Cinnabon
This looks like fun. Maybe I'll start one in Chicago: Mob Project spreads nationwide
The French are so petty: French Government Bans Term 'E-Mail'

All because the French Government doesn't like it people using English words like mail. Claims it dilutes the culture.

I wonder if anyone in the French Government realizes it isn't the 19th Century anymore?

July 18, 2003

DEFEND YOUR CASTLE!

New favorite game.
One of my new comic finds is Bear created by Jamie Smart and published by Slave Labor Comics.

It's hard to describe. Bear is a teddy bear that talks, may have been in the military, and has had numerous sexual conquests. His head also inflates when you press his nose. He lives with a man named Karl and Karl's sociopathic cat Looshkin. Mad, twisted humor and cute, foul-mouthed animals.

Only one issue has come out - but its supposed to be a quarterly book, so presumably there will be more. In the first issue, Looshkin mainly terrorizes the shit out of Bear - who's only interested in watching television and eating biscuits. The comic is broken up into a number of short stories - not connected, including one told from the perspective of Looshkin's warped view of reality. Car batteries, dead guinea pigs, devil worship, lowland gorillas, Action Beaver - it all comes into play.

The art - all in black and white - while not extraordinary, does fit the tone and humor of the book. Dark and cute at the same time. Smart pulls off much of the physical humor quite well. My only complaint is that some scenes are so heavily inked its difficult to figure out what's going on in them. A thinner line might have helped with panel construction.

I've been trying to figure out to explain it any more than that - but everything I've written makes Bear seem more tame or rational than it actually is, or on the flip side, more depraved or disgusting than it actually is. While it's definitely not for the squeamish, it's not overtly offensive. The humor is just completely over the top without being moronic.

You can check out a preview at Slave Labor Comics
Magic Marker

The picture is funny - but as a parent it also induces a "Oh - My - God! What have you done!" reaction.
Iran Samples Show Enriched Uranium-Diplomats

There's an idea for the W. Maybe Saddam hide the nuclear weapons inside of diplomats or other people. What better way to move illegal, dangerous nuclear material than imbedding it into the bodies of listless dignitaries.

(Yes, I know that's not what the story is about. Let me have my fun)

July 17, 2003

RRR!
In Case You Missed It, Recession Ended

Apparently it was over in November 2001.

July 16, 2003

I'm not going to make any comments, but come on - how could I not draw attention to this news story:

Masturbating Lowers Prostate Cancer Risk

Now if a bunch of scientists would get together and say drinking beer makes you more desirable to women and watching football makes you smarter, the men of the world could sit back and live happy, care-free lives.
Since I first heard of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl I've wanted to see it. Reasons? 1) I think Johnny Depp is a fantastic actor and I always enjoy his films. 2) From the trailers, the movie looked like a lot of fun. Depp and Rush going over the top as cut-throat pirates. They looked like they were having fun, and figured that fun would rub off on those watching the flick. 3) Hell, its pirates - there hasn't been a good pirate movie in decades.

Then the movie came out and was well reviewed. Another reason to try and see it. Then today, I found one more reason to watch the film:

KEIRA KNIGHTLY


Keira plays Elizabeth Swann, the female lead, in the film and she is a lovely lass.

July 15, 2003

If anyone can explain THIS to me, please write.
I guess it time for me to set some new goals:

Donkey Kong enthusiast earns record-setting score
This fall the Clone Wars are coming to Cartoon Network

Very very Exciting. Created by Genndy Tartakovsky, the animation guru behind Samauri Jack, the series will be comprised of 20 animated shorts that will tell the stories of the Clone Wars. The stoies will take place after the end of Episode II (Attack of the Clones) and before the events of Episode III (June 2005 release).

Obi-Wan, Anakin, Mace - they'll all be there, done in the beautifully cinematic animation stylings of Tartakovsky.

This is one of the reasons I really, really wanted to get Cartoon Network.

I am a total Star Wars geek.
If I take a train later than my usual one in the morning, I have the opportunity to see so interesting people.

The Porn Star Couple
Now, I don't know if they're porn stars - but if they aren't, they've perfected the look. She's always in stilettos and tight clothing. Long blond hair with a nice bounce to it. In heels she's about 6' 1". He's about 6' 5". Chiseled features and way broad shoulders. If their not porn stars, than they're models. You can see the crowds on the train platform part for them as the walk down to their waiting spot on the train. Then you can actually feel everyone on the platform looking at them. These two are glamorous and slutty at the same time. Adonis and Aphrodite, descended from Mt. Olympus to wait for the train in Aurora.

Funny thing is, I've seen 'em in the parking lot arriving in the morning. Are the driving a BMW? Lexus? Porsche? Nope. They drive a Ford Windstar mini-van. That's right - a mini-van. Its just weird.

The Lip That Eclipsed Cleveland
There's this guy who rides the train who has the lower lip of a cartoon character. I kid you not. The thing sticks out a inch and a half. Its not like that usually. I see him talking or digging through his bag and his mouth looks normal. Just like you and I. But soon as he starts reading his newspaper or magazine - ZING! - the thing shoots out. All bird could perch on it. Small children could take shelter from rain underneath it. The lip is an abomination. I feel threatened by it.
News from the Harper's Weekly Email Newsletter:

A giant flyborg, an artificially intelligent robot balloon, escaped from the Magna Science Adventure Centre in Britain. - it was last seen headed for Tokyo mumbling something about the rat-bastard Godzilla.

Singapore lifted its ban on chewing gum. - prostitutes rejoice.

July 14, 2003

As part of their All-Star Game coverage, the Chicago Tribune ran this article praising Barry Bonds. They talk about how he's such a great hitter and smart ballplayer - rarely striking out or swinging at bad pitches.

I have to agree, Barry Bonds is a tremendous hitter. One of the best of the modern era. He's truly a baseball great. But the Tribune compare's him to Babe Ruth - or at least they sucker you into the article in their print edition by calling Bonds' the modern-era Babe Ruth. When I saw that I got pretty pissed. To compare Bonds to Ruth, in my opinion, is impossible. Baseball is a job for Bonds, and he approaches it as such. Ruth, even back in the '30s, understood that baseball was entertainment and played it as such.

I was all ready to rip the Trib for putting the terminally cranky Bonds in the same room with the jovial (drunk) Ruth, until I read the following like, " Seventy years later, the 74th All-Star Game features another 38-year-old who evokes images of Ruth (Bonds), sans the belly and the cheery disposition and the dogged pursuit of a good time."

Aaah. Thank you Trib, for not completely disappointing.

Actually, I think if we took Bonds hitting prowess and merged it with Sosa's personality we'd truly have a modern-day Babe Ruth (still sans the belly). I think I'd kinda like that.

Just overheard someone say something and I thought to myself, "I don't think I've ever said that phrase." What was said?

It was nice to get out and just meet people.

So I got to thinking. What are some other phrases I've never uttered? I came up a with a short list:

I think I'll take the vegetarian meal

I wonder what's on the Lifetime network tonight?

Oh, I love kids.

Its hard to think of things you would never say. If I'd thought of them before, I probably said them. I'm sure I'll think of more later.

Found on the German Yahoo! Most Emailed Page around 12:30 pm, CST . . .



I think that says it all.
Oh - I can't wait for this: COOKE'S NEW FRONTIER

Darwyn Cooke is an absolutely wonderful artist. I tried finding some good samples on the web to link to, but couldn't. There is one sample in the linked-to story - but it really doesn't do the man justice. His art has a classic, iconic quality that is perfectly suited for superheroes. Interestingly enough, my first exposure to his artwork was in a backup story starring Slam Bradley, a dective in the DCU. Slam is a detective Created from the Raymond Chandler mold - and Cooke's "iconic" art was glorious here as well - even when doing a story as street level as our hard-nosed detective Slam. The man can just plain out tell a story.
This is fun: Red Planet never closer than now

I want to try and see if I can't get a glimpse of Mars sometime in the next few weeks. I never tried to get a glimpse of the planets in the night sky in the past, but its got me interested this time. So I'll give it a shot. Wish I still had the telescope I had when I was a kid. It was small, but effective. It would be helpful in seeing a better view.

July 11, 2003

Dangers Of Playing With New Toys

About two weeks ago Heather brought me home a surprise: a box of Swiffer Dusters. I had mentioned in the past how helpful they would be in our on-going battle to keep our house looking like humans - not scurvy dogs, inhabit it. Feeding my anal retentive nature - she actually purchased some for us to try.

Last Saturday I broke them out on a trial run. Started in the living room - working the end tables and lampshades. Worked really nice, too. Was trapping all the dust - things looked nice. I like this.

Ian than wanted in on the action (if you're gonna teach 'em the virtues of cleanliness, you gotta start early), so I let him give it a whirl. He worked the wood chairs and the hutch in the dinning room, then moved into the kitchen to 'clean Mommy.'

Funny kid.

I took things over again in the family room. Started to work on the blinds in there with wonderful effects. It was fantastic! Dust and dirt jumping off the blinds to cling to the duster. Our blinds hadn't looked this good in years. I was ecstatic. Dust wouldn't stand a chance in this house again.

I took a look at the duster - had been workin' it pretty hard on its virgin run. But I had cleaned a lot of things and the house was benefiting from it. The blinds were particularly dirty - pushing the duster's capacity nearly to its limit. Figured I could probably squeeze out one small little project. Ah! I know, clean off the VCR, DVD player and the top of the entertainment center.

Whoosh! Whoosh! Dust was being cleared everywhere. I was feely exceedingly confident in my ability to use the duster in tight places. Whoosh! Whoosh! Started to dust on top of the entertainment center. Whoosh! Whoosh! This is too easy. I can dust anywhere. Whoosh! Whoosh! I am a duster pro! Round the pictures that sat up on top, round some of the little figurines and nick-knacks, round the Lladro that sat on top of our wedding cake . . .


OH CRAP!


Heather was none to pleased. Ian asked if Mommy was going to cry. Luckily I have some really nice epoxy in the house and was able to repair the physical damage.

The emotional damage I inflicted upon Heather when she saw the groom from her wedding cake topper decapitated might take a bit longer to repair.

July 10, 2003

The corporate outing I was bitching about the other day here in the journal - it was last night.

Heather came downtown and we went to it together. A 3-hour cruise out on Lake Michigan. Open bar with top shelf drinky-poo. Good food. Gambling on the lower deck. Fireworks at 9:30 pm courtesy the City of Chicago.

It actually proved to be a lot of fun. I think having Heather there helped me have more fun. She's better at socializing than I am. Helps fill in the gaps and keeps things rolling. It was also nice to be out with Heather doing something fun. We drank, ate, did some dancing - all away from the kids. It was almost like we were dating again. Actually wished we had danced some more. Its fun dancing with Heather.

There was a long train ride home, but it actually added to the fun of the evening - at least for me. I got to share some of my away from home world with Heather - the places, people, and things that I deal with when I leave the house every day for 12 hours.

I think I'll still bitch and moan and dread these work-related social events - but maybe not as much next time. Last night I did learn that they can be fun.
So this lady had to get the fork taken out of her stomach that she accidently swallowed while trying to get a cochroach out of her mouth.

WAIT A MINUTE?!

Did I read that right? She used a fork to get a cochraoch out of her mouth? Everybody knows you should always use a spoon for gettin' cochroaches out of your mouth.

Sesssh. Some people.
I guess Randall Simon really doesn't like Italian Sausage

Sausage Attack Overshadows Brewers' Win

July 09, 2003

Thank you U.S. Senate Democrats.

Senate Kills Malpractice Limit Proposal

YOU TWATS! You had an opportunity to actually do something about rising medical costs and you blew it. Thanks alot.
If he's 123 lbs at 4, what's he gonna weigh when he's 24?
Check out the new entries for "Critical Mess" at the Movie Poop Shoot:

Alex & Emma - favorite quote; "It isn't even contrived enough to be aggravating." - Rex Reed

From Justin to Kelly - favorite quote; "A witless, unwatchable affront to all that is creative and clever in the world." - Eric Snider

Actually, all the quotes for From Justin to Kelly are pretty good.
Hmmm . . . Coca-Cola
It sounds like a good idea: Broadband connections to every home in America - transfering data, video, and voice instantly. But something about the proposed execution doesn't sit right with me:

Reed Hundt, former FCC Chairmen under Bill Clinton, is arguing that broadband should be subsidized by federal taxpayers to the tune of $20 a month per household for as long as it takes to build the system.

I know someone needs to pay for it - its not just going to happen. But the federal government? With tax payer money? Something smells stinky.
McDonald's moves closer to delivering us from dealing with employees who have no grasp of the English language . . .

McDonald's Tests Self-Ordering Kiosks

I love diversity, but even in countries in which the inhabitants speak different languages - there is one official language of the country. One that everyone is expected to know and use. (I guess Canada is an exception. But, hey, its Canada) Is this too much to ask for in America?

July 08, 2003

Looks like a storms comin'

(click pic see more)

Hey - funny site. Plan to visit frequently: Haypenny

The July 7th issue had a great list:

    Things About Which I've Argued With My Boss

  • Whether player pianos in each office would be an effective morale-booster
  • My insistence that Sandra Day O'Connor played the magician, not the dentist, on Herman's Head
  • Who had originally suggested that going "paperless" would be cheaper than hiring an exterminator to get rid of the document-eating goat-mice
  • Whether Charo is alive or dead
  • His refusal to get onboard with the 21st century custom of "ass-less apparel Fridays"
  • Whether Michael Landon or a frozen key-lime pie wrote Catch-22
  • The essentialness to our company's viability of hiring accountants who look like a cross between Martina Hingis and any former US Vice President
  • Whether the second toe is called the "index toe" or "Jason"
Britney Spears Says She's Not a Virgin

I don't know if I can recover from this news. How do you go on when the one thing you held as pure and true turns out to be a sex-crazed whore?
We're getting into some dangerous territory here again. The amount of work I have to do with my little day job is mounting up. So much so that I am considering bring some of it home with me - either stuff I need to read, or actually doing work on the computer at home.

It's very sad and makes me very mad.

I have always tried very hard to keep work at work. I don't live to work; I work so I can live. Therefore, at the end of the day, when I walk out of the office, I don't want to bring any of it with me. I understand that this might be seen as a lack of dedication or low ambition, but I don't give a rat's ass. I don't live to work; I work so I can live.

So now I'm cramming my days full of work shit. Trying to write everything that needs written, read everything that needs read, attend every meeting and make every decision that needs attention. Of course I still have to squeeze in time to surf the web and make sarcastic comments in my journal. And of course the people who I work with who I suspect live to work only add to the frustration. Get a fuckin' life! I don't give to steaming pile of monkey shit about how our month-over-month units look. Just let me do the job I've been hired to do, pay me my cashola, and let me go home to family. And don't bother me with insipid little corporate outings. I work with you people all day - what makes you think I want to socialize with you at night?

That's right - I'm an anti-social asshole. So what? I'm happy this way. Just because I'm anti-social doesn't mean that I'm 40 pounds overweight, single, a virgin, and living in my Mom's basement with a wardrobe that consists primarily of comic book and Star Wars t-shirts. I'm a regular guy - relatively well adjusted. I just don't particularly like socializing with big groups of people whose common bond is tangential - superficial at best. Making the pissy small talk - the usual crap that you have to bumble through because in most cases the only other common thread you have with the other drunk asses at the corporate outing is the fact you both worked on the activity report project.

I will admit it is possible to transcend the mundane work relationship and develop an acquaintance first met at work into a fuller and true friendship. In fact I know there are people here at work that would fit that description if I only took the necessary steps. I just never do it. Ah crap. I'm all twisted around now.

I'm just in a pissy mood today. Ya'll better just stand back.
Now the Sun Newspaper is a legitimate newspaper in London (albeit a bit racey), so I think this is legit:

Hulk doll's monster willy
Interesting tidbits from the Harper's Weekly Email Newsletter:

A primary school in China was fining children five yuan per incident for farting in class.

A group of children in Oslo, Norway, found a human skull in their kindergarten's sandbox.

Schools just isn't what it used to be.
HA HA! New favorite online game that's based on my new favorite tv show:

Look Alive

The game's based on the Cartoon Network show, Home Movies, which stars a an 8-year old kid named Brendan. Its funny stuff. Check it out Sunday's at 10pm on Cartoon Network.

July 07, 2003

I forgot to take a look at eBay for the M&M Clock. They've got a whole bunch there: most going for almost 40% less than what SafeShopper.com was offering.

M&M Clocks at eBay
My Dad has an M&M clock that Ian absolutely loves. The kid just can't get enough of it. The red M&M is inside the clock, and comes out once an hour (like a coo-coo clock) to make some profound annoucement. The yellow M&M swings upside-down from the bottom of the clock (the pendulumn) with his foot tied to a rope.

I thought if they were inexpensive enough, I might consider getting one for the boy. Searched all over the web. They best I could do so far is this: M&M Clcok

Besides teh $60 price tag, I don't know how comfortable I am ordering something from a site called SafeShopper.com. Seems like they might be over-compensating for something with that name.
Oh my god! They're bringing back Dance Fever. Read the great comment made about it by Chris Rayll in his weekly comic over at the Movie Poop Shoot: TV Recommendations

DANCE FEVER -- Sat. 7 PM (est), ABC
Debut! Well, I'll buy a dance show without the flamboyant Denny Terio, but only if his replacement is Adriam Zmed. This third incarnation, with Eric Nies, should get tapped off the floor.
Thanks to Sir Mixalot, I can adequately create a caption for this picture:

Even white boys got to shout
Baby got back
This is an image of Lou Piniella that I never thought I would see.
This is starting to get out of hand. June saw a large number of celebrity deaths; David Brinkley, Gregory Peck, Hume Cronyn, Katharine Hepburn, and just getting in under the wire, Buddy Hackett. Now July starts off with Barry White and Buddy Ebsen - and we haven't even gotten to the 10th of the month.

I used to play a game with some of the guys I worked with at a previous job. It was based around an old myth that bad things happen in threes. Whenever a famous person would die, we would predict who would make up the other two. We had a lot of fun with it trying to come up with the most obscure connections for our three deaths. It was a twisted take on the Kevin Bacon game.

Holy crap - right now famous-like folks are dropping faster than connections/predictions can be made.

WHEN WILL THE MADNESS STOP!

July 04, 2003

We had a great time at the parade this morning. We parked in a great spot, brought plenty of water, and Heather picked out a perfect spot for watching the parade. There was a lot of sun, so it got really hot, but the breeze and an occassional cloud made things bearable.

As you would expect, ian got all excited for the fire trucks, ambulances, and the construction vehicles that came by. He also likes marching bands, which this Aurora parade seemed to be in short supply of, but when they did show up, ian loved it. Emma loved any float that had music - which was quite a few. What I find interesting about the Aurora parade is that they have a large number of floats with rock bands on them. They're up their with the amps and monitors all plugged into portable generators, chugging along behind a pickup truck. Its different, but interesting.

What I really like about the Aurora parade are the fly-bys. We usually get two with some really neat air planes. Personally I could do without all the cars in the parade - they aren't that interesting.

Ian hauled in a whole bunch of candy, too. it was like Halloween. 101.9, a Chicago radio station, was giving out full packages of star-shapped marshmallow peeps. Don't like the radion station, but the freebie was great.

No fireworks for us tonight. Emma's too young and Ian is complaining about a pain in his leg. I think he might have strained a muscle. We're trying to have him rest it and see how he is tomorrow. If things are still bad, Heather wants to call a doctor.

July 03, 2003

It's going to be a busy weekend.

Ian's looking forward to the 4th of July parade. He had a great time last year, and has been talking about it quite a bit recently. This year we will be prepared for the parade and will not park in the middle of where the parade loops around. Last year we were stuck until the 2 hour parade finally wound down and we could escape back to our home. This year I plan to park outside of the parade route. Plus, we'll be bringing more water and snacks. I don't want any hot and cranky kids/wife.

Also have to help my dad this weekend. For the last 3 weeks we've been housing his new tv in our garage until he moved into his new condo. He moved last weekend, so now its time to deliver the television. He also needs help picking up and delivering a new patio set he bought from Pier One imports. Sometimes I hate owning a van - you automatically become everyone's moving bitch.

Regardless, dropping off the tv will get me over to my Dad's new place so I can check it out. The only thing I'm not looking forward to is answering Ian's question, "Why does Grandpa need 2 houses?" Well, he doesn't. See, Ian, it would be too awkward living at his house in Glen Ellyn with Mimi, with the upcoming divorce proceeding coming up and all.

Thanks again for complicating my life with your problems.

By now I'm sure you've heard of the Hackers Challenge that's going on this weekend. Deface the most web sites on Sunday and win a little prize - plus some bragging rights. Well, the hacker group I belong to, Spastic Hamster Sausage is planning big things on Sunday. Myself and killMonkey7 have been scouting a ton of prospective sites. We've tightened our focus on Bible-belt municipality websites. These little town websites are like swiss cheese and getting into them is easier than Suzi Gazenski's pants. All week I've been putting together the dump files that the rest of the team is going to be dropping into the sites. It's going to be a huge visual puzzle. A bunch of standard, anti-establishment jargon - but then I'm throwing in a small image in the right hand corner. The images will be linked to one of the other sites we've hacked. Collect all the images and put 'em together. Then use the contextual clues I'm leaving at the different sites to decipher what the completed puzzle image is all about. Big pay-off for those suckas who can figure it out!

Spastic Hamster Sausage will conquer all this weekend. Mark my words.
1. go to Google
2. type "weapons of mass destruction"
3. click I'm feeling lucky
4. read the error message carefully
I know its there, but after some time searching on eBay I still couldn't find the 7-inch french fry for sale.

July 02, 2003

Giant Sea Creature Baffles Scientists

Makes ya wonder what else might be living down in the murky depths.
Been able to read some really interesting comics this week.

Batman #616 is the latest installment in Jeph Loeb's and Jim Lee's 12-part "Hush" storyline has some interesting developments. I think Loeb is putting some twists in the plot, or characters could just be lying, I can't tell. The result is my interest is piqued. I'm starting to question whether I've figured out the mystery antagonist.

Jim Lee doesn't offer any twists - which is a good thing. The art continues to be spectacular. It's given that I'll flip through a Batman comic a number of times just to look at the artwork. I'll read it a few times, too. But I come back a lot more to feast on Lee's beautifully rendered comic pages. It's just amazing. I should give props to the inking and colorists too, though. Without their work, it would just be spectacular pencils. All of them together create visually lush scenes.

This issue also features a confrontation between are man Bats and probably my favorite Bat-villains, Ra's al Ghul. Dynamic swordplay in the desert with a surprising end to the battle. Ra's also provides some interesting information that complicates the plot. Ra's an interesting cat, someone who I think is a much better foil for Batman than any other character from his rogue's gallery. Smart, driven, calculating, ruthless - he is the anti-Batman - much more than Joker or Bane. Joker's more the opposite of Batman, chaos to Batman's rigid order. Bane's just too much of a bruiser, few writers have sold me that Bane is match for Batman mentally. Ra's is everything Batman is, but he uses his skills for nefarious purposes. I like Ra's, even if he does want to wipe out 60% of the human population.

Another Batman-related tile I read this week was Warren Ellis' Planetary / Batman: Night on Earth. Pitting the Planetary team of Jakita Wagner, Elijah Snow, and the Drummer against Batman when they are trying to track down a man who kills by rotating through multiple/parallel universes. If you check out my Top Ten Comics you'll see in what high regard I hold the Planetary series. It really is a top-notch comic book series. The series has been on hiatus for the last 2 years or so, for one reason or another, and while I don't collect the title monthly, it has prevented any more collection editions from coming out. During those 2 years there have been some one-shot Planetary books - but they haven't really been Planetary books. You know what I mean? They just didn't feel right. Night on Earth recaptures that Planetary feel. Its that little hit of methadone between heron scores - it going keep us going, but what we really want is the series to finish out.

John Cassady rocks with the visuals - as always, and Ellis story and dialogue deliver the level we've come to expect. But like I mentioned before, its nice to have this little hit of the Planetary and its fun to have Batman there given' 'em grief, but what we really want is Jakita, Elijah, and the Drummer out there tracking down The Four and uncovering the mysteries of the world.

One of the last books I wanted to talk about was Phistolwhip: The Yellow Menace written by Jason Hall with art by Matt Kindt. Its a crime novel, or sorts, that is very unique in structure and art. Really unlike any comic I have read before. Jack Peril, hero of comics, movies and radio, joins Mitch Pistolwhip, hard-luck detective, and others to unravel some mysterious deaths perpetrated by The Yellow Menace. At least that's one summary of the plot. There is plenty more going on in this novel than just what a plot summary will tell you.

The title The Yellow Menace comes to refer to more than just a comic villain, but represent the fears that hold individuals back, anti-Asian sentiments, and maybe even a few other things that I didn't pick up on the first read through. Hall tackles them all in his story, all at different levels. I really think future readings will reveal more to me, now that I am familiar with the basic story.

Kindt's artwork is simplistic, but expressive. He can pull off the quiet scenes with emotional sincerity, but then quickly change gears and illustrate fluid action sequences.

Pistolwhip: The Yellow Menace is actually the third book from Hall and company set in the Pistolwhip universe. There is also the self-title Pistolwhip and Mephisto and the Empty Box. Haven't read those yet, but would like to in the future. You read about the Pistolwhip titles and learn more Hall's and Kindt's work at their website
That's just great, Cowboy

I swear, they guy comes off like a 6th grader on the playground - egging on the kids from the other class. Is that how a President is suppose to act?
I know I'm not suppose to do this (copyright laws and all), but I wanted to share these three, very funny comic strips. They're emailed to me daily through I service I signed up for through Comics.com

(I had to shrink 'em down a bit to fit within the design of the journal page. If you're can read the text, then click on the comic title to go check out the strip at full size. All 3 strips are for 7/2/03)

The Buckets


Get Fuzzy


Liberty Meadows


The Onion nails it again:


Bush Asks Congress For $30 Billion To Help Fight War On Criticism

"Sadly, the threat of criticism is still with us," Bush told members of Congress during a 2 p.m. televised address. "We thought we had defeated criticism with our successes in Afghanistan and Iraq. We thought we had struck at its very heart with the broad discretionary powers of the USA Patriot Act. And we thought that the ratings victory of Fox News, America's News Channel, might signal the beginning of a lasting peace with the media. Yet, despite all this, criticism abounds."

They've also got two great photo jokes on their homepage: Man Forgets He Has Infant Strapped To Back and 8-Year-Old Obviously Packed Own Lunch. Look for them and laugh.
Google Toolbar

Hey, Google's got a new version of their toolbar for IE. It's got buttons for BlogThis!, which allow me to more quickly add a link to my journal. The new toolbar also includes pop-up blocking.

I only use IE at work - have to in order to get to some intra-office web applications. So it will be fun there.
I think I just don't like George Bush. Funny, Its the first President I've really had an opinoin on. Carter and Reagan - too young to care. George H. W. Bush - fine. Bill Clinton - okay. W? I just don't like him. Really feel like he's harming the country. Domestically his policies pander to large corporations or work towards creating a U.S. police state, if pays attention at all. Internationally he swaggers about like a cowboy, making America even more hated around the globe than ever before. To quote Bill Maher, Bush is all about "the photo-op, the 30-second attack ad, and the focus group."

Never thought that before. Up to this point I thought one guy in the Oval Office was as good or bad as the other.

Still like pretty girls in bikinis though. Yep, like 'em a lot.

July 01, 2003

Bush Raises at Least $34M in Six Weeks

$34 million for of banners, buttons, and Bush - Cheney bumper stickers? Isn't there another, better, use for this much money?
Poll Says Most Believe Saddam-9/11 Link

Apparently we are a nation of pudding-headed simpletons, incapable of any level of deductive reasoning.
I see articles like this: Kraft to Revamp Products on Fat Fears and can't help but think of this quote: "We've gotten to the point where everybody's got a right and nobody's got a responsibility." It was credited to Newton Minow - i don't know who he is.

Granted, companies like Kraft or McDonald's don't make the healthiest food, but at what point do they become responsible for an individual's choices. The article talks about how companies like Kraft are voluntarily making changes to the recipes for their foods and serving sizes as a preemptive move to keep the lawyers at bay. As the article states, "Trial lawyers ... are looking for the next big thing."

What I find the most disturbing is the following comment, "'studies have shown that people tend to eat what is in front of them,' said Samantha Heller, a nutritionist with New York University. "

So in actuality, people have the problem. Its not necessarily the food. Yet, when Mr. Two-ton can't squeeze through doors and instead has to crap in a bucket in the corner of his room, he's going to lash out at McDonald's or the food industry for serving him too much food. Take some responsibility for your actions, asshole

Obviously more time and effort should be spent on educating the clueless and the brain-dead on the virtures of moderation.
Oooouch!!

Blunder Leaves Woman Awake for Surgery

VIENNA (Reuters) - A woman lay awake during surgery for 45 minutes, unable to move or call for help, after staff forgot to hook up the machine pumping out anaesthetic, the Austrian daily Kurier reported Monday.

The woman was temporarily paralyzed because she had been given a muscle relaxant, and her ordeal ended only after a replacement doctor who came into the operating room saw tears in her eyes and noticed the machine was not connected properly.

The woman, who was undergoing abdominal surgery, is suing for 70,000 euro ($79,970) in damages, the hospital in the Austrian province of Carinthia confirmed.
Another classic, albeit of a different sort, died this week: Buddy Hackett Dies at 78

June was quite a month for celebrity deaths: David Brinkley, Gregory Peck, Hume Cronyn, Katharine Hepburn, and now Hackett. Overall, the first half of 2003 has seen some big entertainment names pass away: Maurice Gibb, Richard Crenna, Nell Carter, Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers to you and me), Robert Stack, and June Carter Cash.

There's going to be a long "In Memory of" segment at next years Oscars. . .