December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas



Of course I'm not online today, but through the power of the Internet I'm able to post this festive greeting on Christmas Day.

Hope you and your family are having a wonderful Christmas.

December 24, 2003

NORAD Tracks Santa

Don't forget to pop over to the NORAD Tracks Santa website tonight to keep tabs on where the big guy in the red suit is.

You'll need the RealOne player to tap into their live radar feeds showing where Santa currently is in his trek around the world.

Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2003

Wife's Are Hard to Shop For . . .

Man Says He Gave Wife Toilet Seat As Gift

His wife said she wanted bathroom accessories, so he got her a new toilet seat and towel rack. Wrapped 'em up and put 'em under the tree.

She was not amused. He was trying to be practical.

Reminds me of my worst gift for Heather. The second or third Christmas together as husband and wife I bought her an large stir fry pan. We had received a small one as a wedding gift and had really grow to enjoy making stir fry for dinner. However, the stir fry meals were getting more elaborate and could not be contained in our little pan. Heather often complained how the food would spill out the sides when she cooked.

I figured a larger pan would be a great gift.

Heather was not amused. I was trying to be practical.

Now she admits that it has turned out to be a wonderful gift. We still use it all the time and love how it handles whatever we throw in there. It just probably wasn't such a great idea for a Christmas gift.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

ALF: The Comeback Kid, er, Alien

Thanks to those 10-10-220 commercials and a huge cult, though pathetic, following, ALF will be getting another television show. Although it won't be on NBC, like his 1985-1990 series, ALF's Hit Talk Show will be on Nick at Nite and will be fashioned after The Tonight Show with ALF interviewing celebs.

Why must the American public be subjected to this torture. I feel lucky for those people who still don't have cable or satellite TV.

Raspberries from Kramer, George and Elaine

Three Stars of Seinfeld Boycott a DVD Deal

Castle Rock Entertainment is preparing to release Seinfeld one season at a time, on DVD. They wanted to include all sorts of interviews, commentary, yadda, yadda, yadda with cast members, writers, and producers of the show.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, and Jason Alexander all refused to participate because of money. They all made money from the show, and continue to collect upwards of $100,000 a year thanks to Seinfeld's popularity in television syndication. However, the three co-stars feel they aren't getting their fair share and refuse to participate in the DVD project.

I think Peter Mehlman, a former "Seinfeld" writer, summons up opinion on the matter best: "There are so few people who get that chance to be on a show that has that kind of impact. They were so brilliant. We had so much fun while we were doing it. It's kind of sad that they have bad feelings about it."

Instead of solidifying their place in pop-culture history by contributing to the DVD releases, these three cranky-pusses will stand on the sideline all because of money. Which they all have plenty of all ready. Too bad.

Harper's Weekly Email

Ah, more fun from the Harper's Weekly Email . . .

It was reported that the omnibus spending bill passed by the House of Representatives this month includes $23 billion in "earmarks" such as $50 million for an indoor rain forest in Iowa and $225,000 to repair a swimming pool in Sparks, Nevada. Jim Gibbons, a Republican representative, explained that the funding came about because he felt guilty for clogging up that pool with tadpoles when he was a boy. "Look," Gibbons said in defense of his earmark, "this is the standard practice the United States Congress has had for decades." Gibbons said he did not view such projects "as pork."

The Bush Administration announced that it plans to let companies buy and sell the right to release mercury pollution into the environment, a policy considered and rejected by the EPA in 2000 as inconsistent with the Clean Air Act.

Is there a single rational thinking person anywhere in the federal govenerment?

A Mall and the Right Visitor

Learned this morning that Every year since 1937 the Newspaper Enterprise Association has sponsored a special holiday strip to put comic fans in the spirit of the season. This year Jef Mallet, who creates the very enjoyable Frazz comic strip, was chosen to create the special holiday strip.

I don't thing the Chicago Tribune, which carries Frazz, is carrying this special strip. Hence my ignorance to it's existence. Luckily I was at the Comics.com website this morning and learned about it.

"A Mall and the Right Vistor" is a rhyming holiday tale the runs from December 1st until December 25, Mondays through Saturdays. It stars the characters from Mallet's Frazz comic strip.

All the strips are archived at Comics.com, Read A Mall and the Right Vistor right now. It's a lot of fun. Then check back tomorrow and Thursday to see how the story ends.

I Am The Champion!

I had already won before the Monday night game, but the strong showing from the Green Bay defense only helped to make my dominance look even greater.

Hamster Sausage is the champion of the Yahoo Fantasy Football Public League # 477868.



As I have all season, I won with running and defense. I struggled for the first half of the season to find some receives who would consistently perform for me. Getting Jimmy Smith back helped and Justin McCareins proved to be a great pick-up off the waiver wire. Thanks to one of the teams that didn't make the playoffs in our leagure shedding a bunch of players - I was able to pick up Keenan McCardell for the last two games. It helped a lot. But overall I had to rely on my runningbacks. Luckily I had two premiere back for the entire season - Priest Holmes and Travis Henry, with T. J. Duckett and Kevan Barlow sitting in the wings. The Packers D started slow, but between them picking things up as the season progressed and the St. Louis defense I was able to get some good points week in and week out from my starting defense.

The championship game, just like most Super Bowl games, proved to be one sided. Behind big games by Holmes and Barlow, the Hamster Sausage was offered little resistence on way to a 89 - 36 win. Imperial Escorts just couldn't keep up.



I'll have to check the rules for Yahoo! Fantasy Football, but I think the fact that I won the league means next year I get to join the Championship League and go against other past league champions. I've come close to winning the public leagues in the past - in fact I have been the regular season standings leaders - but I've always come up short in the playoffs. Kinda like Marty Shottenheimer. We'll have to wait and see, but it could be fun.

One last time, just so everyone knows: Hamster Sausage, Your 2003 Champion of the Yahoo! Fantasy Football Public League # 477868

December 22, 2003

In Chicago, Santa Rides the L



Read about the Chicago Holiday Train and learn how it makes commuting more fun in Chicago.

The NY Times Quotation of the Day

I get a daily email from the New York Times that contains the day's top headlines, plus a few other things. One is the Quotation of the Day, which is usually taken from on of the articles the email links to. Really liked today's quotation:

"Freedom of religion is not just to practice the religion of your own, but the freedom and decency to respect someone else's desire. By the way, the tips were pretty good."
WILLIAM B. HELMREICH, a professor of the sociology of religion, speaking of Jews who choose to work on Christmas.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Oh boy. Just saw the film I have to see in the theaters this summer. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.


Think Indiana Jones and the War of the Worlds. The trailer doesn't tell you much about the story, but it tells you enough to know that the film is set around 1939 and it does a glorious job of capturing the sci-fi pulp fiction of the time. In fact I haven't seen a movie do as good a job of capturing the old adventure serial feel since The Phantom was released back in 1996 starring Billy Zane and Treat Williams. In fact, after viewing the Sky Captain trailer, the Phantom will be coming in a distant second. This trailer looks fantastic and has me totally stoked about seeing the film.

Sky Captain stars Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie; and is set to open the summer of 2004.

I can't wait.

Oh, btw, the Spider-Man 2 trailer looks pretty good too. But than can wait for DVD rental. Can only get out to the theater so many times when you've got 3 under 4.

And just so you don't think I'm all about the action flicks, I've also added The Cooler to my must watch list of movies. It stars William H. Macy and Alec Baldwin as old time Vegas gamblers. Baldwn runs the casino, Macy is his "cooler" - a guy who's luck is so bad it's contagious. It's in theaters now: check out the site and watch the trailer: The Cooler

You can't go wrong with William H. Macy and Alec Baldwin seems to thrive in smaller films like this.

I Have Seen the Future

And it's called Rex Grossman.

Rex was impressive again yesterday in the Bears defeat of the Washington Redskins. He looked poised and in control of the offense, and moved the team with confidence. The passes were crisp and on target, and he seemed to made good decisions when he got into trouble.

It's kinda scary to see a quarterback with so many obvious skills playing in a Bears uniform.

Of course, the rest of the young players on the team showed why being a Bears fan is going to be exciting over the next few years. This team has got some great talent on it.

However, even though plenty in the sports newsmedia here in Chicago seem to think Paul Edinger's 45-yeard field goal kick saved Dick Jauron's job, I'd like to think that the Bear's brass will put a little more thought into the coaching situation - especially considering some of the coaching prospects that will be available this off-season.

Yes, Jauron and Co. took a team that started 1-5 and will finish 7-9 or maybe 8-8, but you should really take a look at the last 5 years in total. Things haven't been pretty. Hell, you only have to look at the last 60 seconds of yesterday's game. Horrible clock management - which begins with proper coaching - denied the Bears a chance at the endzone or at least a shorter kick for Edinger.

The Bears have some great young talent and looked poised to make the turn towards a winning, playoff caliber team. Why not bring in a coaching staff that will be able to properly cultivate that talent into a perennial playoff caliber team, and not a once every 5 years playoff team.

My Son, The Comedian

Last night Ian was getting ready for his bath. I was standing in the bathroom collecting his dirty clothes to take them to hamper. He takes off one of his socks, hands it to me, and this is what he says:

Ian: "Here's your Christmas present."

comedic pause

Ian: "It's clothes"

comedic pause

Ian: "and they're dirty"

All with the slightest smirk on his face. Mostly he played it straight. It was absolutely hysterical. Heather says it's my influence.

Ian made me very proud.


Half-Truths and Fictions

Saddam was held by Kurdish forces, drugged and left for US troops

Apparently everything from the reasons for invading Iraq, to what has happened during the fighting, up to the capture of Saddam has been a string of half-truths and fictions from the Bush administration and its spin-machine.

I've said it before here, and I'll say it again. Bill Clinton might have scared the honor of the Presidency with his sexual escapades, but George W. Bush has damaged the credibility of the Presidency with his fictions.

Glorious Day

Bloggar and Blogger are playing nice again

test

Is bloggar and blogger playing nice yet?

December 19, 2003

Cold Mountain

I started reading Cold Mountain last week. The movie adaptation has just come out starring Jude Law and Nicole Kidman. It's already earned a number of awards and nominations.

Anyway, had a hard time getting the book started. The story seemed to start really slow - took awhile to establish the characters and the story. Plus, I kept falling asleep after about 10 pages. Not because of the writing, mind you, but because I was particularly tired and reading on the train - a perfect combination for slumber induction.

This week I was better rested, so I've stayed awake and I've gotten my literary hooks into the book. I'm enjoying it quite a bit. Very eloquently written. In fact, the title of the chapter (which comes from passage within that chapter) I read this morning on the train is a wonderful phrase that I hope to be able to work into my vernacular: verbs, all of them tiring

Isn't that a great phrase? The passage read like this, "To Ada, Ruby’s monologues seemed composed mainly of verbs, all of them tiring. Plow, plant, hoe, cut, can, feed, kill." Besides how the phrase perfectly captures Ada’s response to Ruby’s listing of the tasks at hand, I love how the phrase is constructed. Indicating that the verbs are more than words used to communicate what needs to be done, but warnings of strenuous activity and effects on the body after them.

Verbs, all of them tiring.

It’s interesting to think that there are different types of verbs: tiring verbs, exhilarating verbs, hostile verbs, and happy verbs. The list can go on.

It’s just such a neat concept. I had to share.

A Peak Inside My Dark and Twisted Mind

Girl, 2, Survives for Days After Dad Dies

The girl’s father died on the couch of natural causes and she lived on butter, mayonnaise, and water from a faucet for several days until police found here.

This is the exact scenario that goes through my mind when I call home from work during the day and nobody picks up the phone when I know someone should be there. I count the minutes until Heather returns my call. I can't help but play out the scenario of her passing away from some sudden brain aneurysm and Ian and Emma sitting there alone - not knowing what to do.

What can I say - I'm a morbid freak with an over-active imagination. It's also why I'm reluctant to share too many of my deep thoughts and feelings - they tend to be too dark and twisted.

This story is going to bother me for weeks.

Blogger is Pissing Me Off

While at work I use an application called Bloggar to update my journal here. Bloggar is an application that sits on my desktop and is programmed to connect directly to my account on Blogger, which is the service I use to host my web journal.

Bloggar = Blogger, Blogger = Bloggar. Confusing, I know.

Unfortunately, Blogger recently changed or broke something so that now the Bloggar application cannot interface with Blogger using the established API. So all of us Bloggar users are either sitting around waiting for the fix or having to log in directly to Blogger to update their blog. It's annoying.

Bill Amend's Web Page

Bill Amend is the creator of FoxTrot, easily one of the most entertaining and well done comic strips being created currently. His website is great. Sometime over the weekend I hope to download the FoxTrot games that he has created and post there. Bill is huge Apple fan so he's only created the game to run on Mac OS 9 or OS X.

Wal-Mart gets in on Web music

Wal-Mart gets in on Web music

Yah, but all the music is gonna be vanilla, middle-of-the-road, crap. Walmat is notorious for refusing to carry artists who they don't deem "socially acceptable". Why support this kind of subvertive censorship? I'll continue to pay the extra dime and buy my music from iTunes.

December 18, 2003

Why the MLB Players' Union Must Be Stopped

Players Holding Up A-Rod Deal to Red Sox

Alex Rodriguiez wants to play for the Boston Red Sox. The Texas Ranger are willing to trade him. Alex is willing to restructure his contract so he can play for the Red Sox. Alex wants to play for a contender. Texas wants to get some great talent in return. Everyone is on the same page - and then the union steps in.

The Players' Union is dictating how the contract can be re-structured. According to the union, if a player's contract is re-structured it cannot lower the contract's value.

I can understand the union's rule. You don't want you members to get shafted out of pay. But come on. This is A-Rod. The $252 million man. His contract is worth more than some of the teams in major league baseball. Demanding that A-Rod's contact not lose any value in re-structuring makes the Players' Union look greedy - not that this wasn't already a problem.

If the union wants to help reverse the negative perception of professional baseball in this country – something that would ultimately benefit the members of the players’ union - I think they should shut their traps, let A-Rod get on Red Sox roster and see if the Bo-Sox end up in the World Series next year. Helping a team like the Red Sox (perenial losers) make it big will do more for positive PR and fan interest in professional baseball than anything else they can do.

Christmas Shopping - Done!

After buying Ian and Emma some books yesterday over my lunch hour, Heather and I were officially done with our Christmas shopping for this year. Pretty good, I thought. Now we can sit back this final week and just enjoy the holiday season with the kids.

Heather and I bought a lot more things online this year then we have in the past. It helps when you have specific things you know you want to get someone and a number of websites were offering free shipping if you reached a minimum order amount. Online shopping is particularly helpful for me. My work days are long - not leaving time for me to go out after work and I don't want to burn away a whole weekend sitting in a mall or a bunch of stores. Online is perfect for me.

Just a couple more days of work and then the company paid holiday time and some vacation days I'm taking all kick in - then it's no work until January 2, 2004. Ah! That will be nice.

As for celebrating Christmas: we'll be having dinner at my Dad's house Christmas Eve with my brother and sister; Christmas morning will be spent at home - just Heather, Ian, Emma and myself opening gifts, relaxing, and enjoying being together as a family at Christmas; Christmas dinner will be eaten at my Mom's house. Then after Christmas it's off to Heather's family Christmas in Ohio.

I'm looking forward to all of it.

Oh - and Heather's 31st birthday is December 30th. We'll be back in Chicago by then. Not sure how Heather and I plan to celebrate.

The Political Gender Gap

'Til politics do us part: Gender gap widens

A recent poll indicates that highly educated men and women increasingly view the political world in dramatically different ways: Men are mostly Republicans, women are predominantly Democrats. There is small gap for American who do not have college educations, but once they graduate the gap starts to widen quickly.

What I found amusing about this is that we are the reverse in our house. Heather is the conservative who usually supports Republican candidates, I'm the more liberal person who usually trends towards the Democratic candidates. Though truth be told, I think the worst thing for this country is the two-party system. It really leaves us no choice when it comes to choosing representatives to govern us. I vote for the Democrate not because I feel they best represent my interests, but rather I think they have a better chance of getting elcted over the Republican candidate I don't like or the third-party candidate who really matches up nicely with my views. It's a sad way to choose a government.

December 17, 2003

Whoops!

Ex-Ill. Gov. Ryan Indicted on Corruption

Christmas Brought To Iraq By Force

BAGHDAD, IRAQ—On almost every corner in Iraq's capital city, carolers are singing, trees are being trimmed, and shoppers are rushing home with their packages—all under the watchful eye of U.S. troops dedicated to bringing the magic of Christmas to Iraq by force.

Great little article on The Onion. Favorite line: "An aide for Sanchez later explained that, in order to ensure a meaningful holiday season for all Iraqis, provisions were made for those Iraqis who elected to observe Hanukkah." There is also a great picture of a mosque with a cheesey Santa and reindeer light up display on top.

Read the rest of the story

December 16, 2003

Bush Signs Anti-Spam Legislation

Bush Signs Anti-Spam Legislation

This is nice and all, but it will do nothing to stem the tide of spam mailings clogging up email inboxes across the country.

You'll still get 200 offers for a bigger penis, larger breasts, cheap Viagra, outrages mortgage rates, and the Christmas toy sensation of 2003. If you want the volume to go down, you'll have to respond idividually to each one of those 200 emails and tell them not to send you anything again.

Why should I have to opt-out 200 times? This is senseless. This legislation should have been the same as the Do Not Call list. Instead we got a toothless law that really only serves to try and make W look better on the re-election campaign trail

Return of the King

The reviews are starting to roll out faster now, as the release date approaches. From everything I've read, it looks like Return of the King will be the best film yet from Jackson and his crew.

Heather and I toyed with the idea of seeing the film this Friday night. My sister offered to babysit. But then we realized that King is going to clock in at around 3 hours. Which would mean seeing the film in the evening would have us at the theater til 10 or 11 at night. Not a problem for me, but a 6-month pregnant Heather starts to fade quickly afer 9:30pm.

I think we're going to shoot for a weekend matinee in January. We are both bound and determined to see the final film in the trilogy in the theaters.

From the Harper's Weekly Email

Haven't done this in a couple weeks. Some interesting tidbits:

Canadian psychologists found that men are unable to think rationally when they see a beautiful woman. - No, shit Sherlock.

Canada's Air Transport Security Authority banned fruitcakes in carry-on luggage. - Maybe these Canadians aren't as clueless as the last statement would indicate.

Stress, it was discovered, can make you live longer. - A-HA! I'm gonna live forever!

Physicists at Harvard University succeeded in "freezing" a beam of light. - To quote one of the great philosophers of our time, Keanu Reeves, "Whoa!"

Happy 233rd Birthday!

It's Ludwig Van Beethoven's birthday today. He was born December 16, 1770 - 233 years ago.

WFMT is playing almost exclusively Ludwig's tunes today. It's making all the writing I'm doing at work today less challenging.

In Case Your Christmas Tree Still Has Some Bare Spots

How to Make a TIE fighter holiday ornament

December 15, 2003

A Peek at the Possibilities

So Rex Grossman got the start Sunday against the hated Minnesota Vikings. The rookie quarterback - the future of the Bears - finally got playing time from Coach Jauron after Dick realized that starting a rookie quarterback wasn't going to insult the integrity of the game. What happened? The Bears won. Wow.

I tought Grossman looked good. Calm, collected, in control. He made good choices and made good throws. It wasn't spectacular, but it was encouraging. The game showed me that the Bears have some good young players that should translate into a very good competetive team in the next few years.

Truth be told, the Bears haven't done that badly this year. True, they had a horrible start, but once Dick got the rookies in the lineup the team came to life. The rookies helped salvage a season allowing the Bears to finish with a respectable, though possibly losing, record. Forsey, Gage, Tillman, Grossman, and Haynes give me reason to believe the Bears future can be bright.

I just hope that the mid-season turnaround doesn't mean that Dick is back next year. My gut tells me the success the second half of the season has more to do with talented rookies taking over and not the guidance and planning of Dick and Shoop. That's why I'd prefer to see someone else strolling the sidelines for the Bears next season. More dynamic coaching could really have a dramatic impact on this team.

Wonderful Gift or Signs of Trouble?

Shoe Plant Gives Big Holiday Bonuses

A shoe plant in Pittsburgh gave everyone $1,000 for each year they had worked for the company. For some people that meant a check for as much as $19,000. Even those who worked less than 12 months got $500. Those are some nice bonuses.

Hopefully this is the sign of a giving company. That was my initial thought. My second thought after reading this was that it might be the company giving its workers a nice bonus before they have to close the plant. A sort of going away present. I hope that thought is wrong.

December 12, 2003

Miracle Dog

An animal protection officer says: "The dog was euthanized with drugs, presumed dead, put into a plastic bag and then a trash compactor and compressed, and survived that."

Read about the dog that refused to die.

Some Comic Book Reviews

Picked up Bear #3 - what a frickin' head trip!

Bear, created by Jamie Smart, quickly established itself as one of my favorites comics of the new year when I purchased the issue #1 this past summer. Dark, twisted humor served up with great art on a quarterly basis. Jamie Smart has to do large quantities of drugs. I can't imagine a sober person coming up with some of the things he does.

The third installment has a number of great stories, with a few so-so's thrown in. The opening story involved Loshkin, the evil cat bent of finding new and inventive ways of torturing Bear, cloning Bear and himself. There a few very funny lines, but overall a pretty generic piece. The second story is great. Loshkin obtains his own black hole and proceeds to royally fuck with space and time. How Smart handles the space-time fart Loshkin launches is wildly imaginative. I loved it.

There are two little one-page strips that Jamie always includes that I've never been too fond of. One features a drunk, time traveling sage. The other stars a boy who argues with his brain matter - which is alive and has a distinct personality from the boy. Neither really grabs me as very funny. The humor tends to fall flat for me.

One of the new strips in issue 3 is one about a man and his monkey. In the four or five page strip the monkey causes a huge amount destruction and mayhem - including rampaging cows and an exploding septic tank. (I wish I had to comic here with me to get into more specifics - the problems with writing these reviews at work.) This I like.

Smart leaves the best for last. The final story is another Bear story. This time Loshkin has stolen not only dead pig parts but also an entire dead pig. He then uses them in creative and disturbing ways to make Bear's day a living hell. The final comment from Loshkin made me laugh out-loud - very loudly. (Much to the chagrin of the other passengers on the train to Aurora).

Bear is dark, twisted and disturbing - but oh, soooo funny. I eat this shit up. It's why I buy and read comics. You can't get stuff like Bear from television or movies. Bear can only really exist in comic form. Where text and images can be combined for great effect, and an artist can create and distribute his art without compromise.

I was also going to write about the other comic I read last night: Detective Comics #789, but after everything I've just written about Bear I hate to bring things down with a negative review. Lets leave it at this: The two-issue story that wrapped up 'Tec 789 was a filler story in the worst kind of way. A generic action story that was obviously adapted to starred Batman, but could have easily starred Captain America, Superman, Daredevil, etc. Writer Paul Bolles over-writes the entire time, peppering the page with all sorts of flowery-pulpy text. The art is fine, the story is a waste. That's all I want to say.

BUY BEAR. READ BEAR. LOVE BEAR.

What Do You Do With 3 Feet of Sausage? Legally, That Is. . .

So the rest of my co-workers and I got together to buy our boss a Christmas gift. I got the idea about a month ago, and proposed it to the group. Eveyone thought it was a great idea, so I ordered it today. We 're getting him the Usinger Yard of Sausage gift box. 3 feet of all beef summer sausage and knife. Delivered right to his desk.

Hopefully it gets here before he leaves on Christmas vacation.

We think it's going to be a big hit.

Check out the Usinger website for all your festive sausage needs.

Big Fish

After I saw a television commericial for this film last night, it jumped to the top of my film's to see list. Directed by the incomprable Tim Burton, this film looks like a modern fairly tale like none I've ever seen. A son trying to reconnect with his father is forced to look back and determine what of his father's life stories were fact and what were fiction.

The cast is extraodinary: Albert Finney, Jessica Lange, Helena Bonham Carter, Steve Buscemi, Robert Guillaume, Billy Crudup, and one of my growing favorites: Ewan McGregor.

Visually the film looks like another Burton masterpiece. Even if his story falters - a Burton film will always be a feast for the senses. I love his movies, especially when he gets Danny Elfman to score them (which he is doing here).

Take a look at the trailer: trailer for Big Fish

or check out the site: Big Fish website

It will only initially open in New York and Los Angeles around Christmas so it can be considered for the Oscars. The film will get nationwide play January 9, 2004.

I really hope to see it.

December 11, 2003

Get Drunk Like the King



Just in time to ring in the new year, it's the debut of Graceland Cellars and the Elvis Presley Collector's Series Wine Portfolio. This exciting new offering features Elvis on the label and a wine portfolio to fit all tastes and budgets.

Durge vs. Durge

Ian really enjoyed watching the Star Wars Clone Wars cartoon series on Cartoon Network. (His Dad loved watching it too!) Because of this, Santa is bringing him Obi-Wan Kenobi and Durge action figures for Christmas. Kit Fisto, Ian's favorite Jedi, was too difficult to find . . . er, I mean . . . too difficult for the elves to make. So Santa's getting him versions of Obi-Wan (Ian's #2 favorite Jedi) and Durge (bad guy for Obi-Wan to fight) that are modeled after how the characters appear in the movies.

I knew they were going to make action figures modeled after the characters as they appear in the cartoon, but the first wave of those aren't hitting stores until spring 2004 - to coincide with the second half of the cartoon series. The first wave was going to have an Obi-Wan, but no Durge. Today I learned who's making up the second wave - and sure enough - there's a Durge. (no Kit Fisto though) And Durge looks pretty cool.

durge action figure


Should Santa have waited? Especially considering Ian really loved the cartoon series?

I don't think so. Ian's really digging Star Wars right now - any version, so Santa would like to get him what he wants. Plus, the other version of Durge is pretty wicked cool too.

durge action figure


I think Ian's going to love his new Star Wars toys.

December 10, 2003

The Worst Holiday Songs Ever

I don't listen to NPR, but Jim Nayder comes on Steve Dahl's program about once a month. Nayder really does find a lot of annoying music, so I'm going to trust his selection of the most annoying Holiday songs ever: Season's bleatings

In case you don't read the article, Kathie Lee Gifford and Regis Philbin take the #1 spot with their rendition of "Silver Bells." One of Nayder's comments, "It (the Kathie Lee and Regis performance) kind of defines all things annoying."

Happy Holidays!

"Alias" Mom Gets Lost--Again

E! Online News - "Alias" Mom Gets Lost--Again

I had been wondering why we were seeing much of Irina Derevko on Alias this season. I thought that the writers just hadn't worked her back into the story. Turns out that Lena Olin opted out of being on the show. Too bad. I really enjoyed her on Alias.

Alias is the only hour long show I still watch on television regularly. It really deserves to be watched by more people. Last season was much stronger than this season, but overall Alias is better written, acted, and produced than most shows on network television.

December 09, 2003

The Black Dahlia

Just like in American Tabloid, in The Black Dahlia, writer James Ellroy starts with the facts of history and then warps them around to create his own exhilarating version of the world.

coverFact: In January of 1957, LAPD discovered the tortured body of a beautiful young woman in a vacant lot near Hollywood. Her name was Elizabeth Short.

Fact: Even though there were plenty of leads and suspects, the murder has never been officially solved.

Ellroy takes that and spins a fantastic tale of greed, ambition, love, and insanity set in the shadowy parts of post-WWII Los Angeles, Boston, Mass, and Mexico. Two detectives on the case are consumed with solving the murder and understanding the Dahlia. The quest destroys one of them, and almost destroys the other. Of course, Ellroy provides a solution to the case - but not the one you are expecting.

Ellroy masterfully captures the sound and feel of post-war LA. It's like Chandler or Hammett on speed - faster and more vivid. I thoroughly enjoyed going along on his trip and experiencing what Bucky Bleichert and his partner, Lee Blanchard, see and learn about the Dahlia.

Great pacing, great characters, great plotting, great dialogue - just flat out great writing.

It was an exciting and entertaining novel. Highly recommended. One of my favorites for the year.

Congress Approves Anti-Spam Legislation

Just read that Congress approved Anti-Spam Legislation to try and stop the avalanche of spam email that fills our email inboxes daily. It's a simple enough law: require all email senders to provide a way for users to indicate that they do not want future mailings and for all senders of bulk email to identify who they are. No longer hiding behind false sender information.

It's nice and all, but I don't really see this ending the mountains of un-wanted email being delivered daily. Like the The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mails is quoted as saying, "it doesn't tell anybody not to spam." The law only states the bulk emailers need to make it clear who they are and how not to get email from them in the future. So I'm still going to get 200 pieces of spam a day.

Is it worth my time to sift through and tell 200 different people that I don't want to receive email from them in the future? No. That's counter-productive. The law should be structured like the Do Not Call list. If the email address is on the Do Not Email list, then you can't send that person an email. That simple.

This anti-spam law is a nice little election year flag for all those politicians running for re-election to carry back into their states/districts, but in the end it's a meaningless law. It's not going to help stop the volume of spam that clogs up email servers and inboxes around the country.

What The Hell is a Hemi?

And why should I give more than a rat's ass that a truck has one? I'm just getting tired of all the Chrysler truck television ads that are all Hemi this and Hemi that.

I know the fact that I don't know what a hemi is means that the ad isn't meant to necessarily appeal to me, but come on. This is really starting to get annoying.

December 08, 2003

Gotta Love Jack

Nicholson told Esquire that his role as The Joker is his one of his favorite cinematic moments, "A piece of pop art."

Christmas Card Photo Outtakes

This past weekend Heather and I sat the kids down to try and get a nice picture to include in our Christmas card. We had some success doing it ourselves last year, but of course Emma was only 4 months old then, she pretty much stayed where you put here, and Ian followed directions pretty well.

This year it was much more of a challenge. Emma loves to ham it up for the camera, but she also wants to immediately run over and see the little preview pix on the back of the digital camera immediately after the photo is taken. So we had to keep re-positioning the two kids. Plus, Ian couldn't help acting funny when he saw how Heather and I were laughing at Emma's antics.

We had kids running everywhere and yelling "CHEESE!" at the top of their lungs (or in Ian's case, "CHUCKY CHEESE!"). It was a little frustrating, but I think I laughed more during our photo shoot than I have in a long time. I had a lot of fun. My kids are great.

Considering all the running around, I consider it a minor miracle we got a usable shot. I've put up some of the outtakes or rejected shots from our little photo-shoot up on my website. Take a look at them in the Photo Gallery.

December 05, 2003

Another Crazy Day

This week has just been one busy day after another. I really haven't had any time to write about the things that I've wanted to. Today I've had to spend time talking to our Sales team and Digital Photographers about product development in 2004, this afternoon it's our company-wide year-end meeting, capped off with our company holiday party. So, still no more time to wax poetically here in the journal. Instead, I'll deal with the old business standby: bullet points.

  • Turner Classic Movies is going to kill me. I get sucked into way too many late night movies. They're my number one cause of sleep depravation.

  • James Ellroy is a wicked cool writer. I loved reading American Tabloid and I'm enjoying every moment of The Black Dahlia. I've GOT to read more of this guy's stuff

  • The Losers from DC Comics - Best New Comic Series of 2003. This series is balls-to-the-wall action with fantastic art and told with style. I can't get enough of this new comic book series.

  • Trinity by Matt Wagner. The third and final issue finally came out and I think it was worth the wait. Wagner's art is always beautiful, and the story was very enjoyable. Though the wrap up was a bit choppy.

  • I got a new Fossil watch thanks to points accumulated by using my AmEx Blue card. It's one of the coolest watches I've ever owned. And I didn't have to pay a cent for it. How cool is that?

  • There's talk that the Bears strong showing here the last few weeks could mean Jauron and Shoop will be back for Jauron's last year on his contract. Aw God! Say it ain't so. Yes, maybe Jauron is making something out of nothing - effectively plugging in rookies and getting results. But come on! These are the guys who though Kordell Stewart was the answer to the quarterback problems and didn't start Anthony Thomas at RB until about 4 weeks into the season.
  • December 04, 2003

    I Love the Internet

    It makes Christmas shopping a breeze. I can be at 5 different online stores comparing prices, getting ideas, creating lists - all from my desk at work. And then it's all shipped to my door. How fantastic is that!

    Today's Get Fuzzy is Pretty Funny, Too

    click comic to see it full size:

    PvP Comic Strip

    PvP is my favorite online comic strip. Very funny.

    Here is a good one from shortly after Thanksgiving: Read PvP

    December 03, 2003

    What Ever Happened to BIll Watterson?

    Interesting article from Cleveland Scene magazine regarding BIll Watterson, creator of the great Calvin & Hobbes comic strip. Apparently Watterson has chosen Chagrin Falls, Ohio to disappear to. Since abruptly canceling C&H in 1995, he has not been heard of. He moved back to his hometown, Chagrin Falls, and according to rumors, spends his days painting landscape oil paintings with his father. Rumor also has is that he immediately burns every painting upon finishing because Watterson was told that a painters first 500 paintings are just for practice.

    The article traces Watterson's rise to popularity with C&H and how he's influenced comic strips creators ever since. They also outline the decline of the comic strip. How the newspapers have given less and less space for the comics, shrinking them down to almost un-readable sizes. What's hinted at, but not directly stated, is the large number of comic strip creators who are milking past success. That much of the strips running today are uninspired, dull, tired, stale, corporate creations of committees, not the individual vision of one creator.

    Need proof? Read Cathy, Beetle Baily, Blondie, or Mother Goose and Grimm and tell me you haven't seen that same gag a hundred million times before. We won't even talk about the lazy art.

    Now go read Get Fuzzy, Zits, or Foxtrot and compare. There is no comparison.

    I miss Clavin & Hobbes

    They Probably Got Tired of Looking at That Awful Hair

    Justin Guarini Dropped by RCA

    December 02, 2003

    What I'll Be Watching Tonight

    CELEBRITY POKER SHOWDOWN
    Bravo, tonight at 9pm eastern / 8pm central

    I've recently discovered televised poker competitions and I'm hooked. They are terribly addictive, even for someone like myself who knows very little about playing poker. I think it's the combination of money and lying - it speaks to me.

    Anyway, Bravo has put together a celebrity tournament. So now I get to see David Schwimmer squirm in his chair when Don Cheadle smacks down his lame-ass.

    I'll probably catch the 10pm cst, re-broadcast. I'll be finishing up baths and getting kids in pajamas at 8pm tonight.

    Greg Rucka Feature

    A New Kind of Superhero - The Oregonian

    Great feature on Greg Rucka in The Oregonian. Rucka is one of my favorite writers - both novels and comics. I love his Atticus novels and his comic work is the best in the business.

    Now This is Just Stupid

    Boy Punished for Talking About Gay Mom

    Apparently the 7-year old boy was scolded and forced to write "I will never use the word 'gay' in school again" after he told a friend about his lesbian mother. A teacher at Ernest Gallet Elementary School overheard the exchange told the boy that "gay" is a bad word and sent him to the principal's office.

    This is Scarey

    Next flu pandemic could wreak global havoc, scientists warn

    Read the article and you'll want to wrap yourself in saran wrap and sit in your room for the next 10 years.

    All kidding asside, it is a bit un-nerving. I've read about past flu epidemics and it's always freaky. Thousands dead. It's just too wierd. Now that I have children I think it heightens my concern. How do I protect them from becoming ill?

    Arrghh

    Sir Mick Jagger?

    Mick Jagger to Get Knighthood on Dec. 12

    Is it me, or does it seem like the good Queen is throwing knighthood around lately like candy. Is there any British entertainer who hasn't been knighted?

    December 01, 2003

    Busy, Busy Day

    It's been a busy, busy day here at work.

    I had meetings from 9am to noon, then 12:30 to 2:30pm. I've spent the afternoon trying to get a few things done. I've only had a few moments to check email and link to a picture of a lovely young Irish lass (see below).

    It's shaping up to be a busy week. This Friday is our company's year-end company-wide summit meeting, followed by a holiday party that ends at 8pm (?). In conjunction with this our sales and production departments also have year-end big old meetings. Cause I'm the Product Manager, I'm expected to attend and speak at these meetings. It's not a big deal, I don't mind doing it. I kinda like talking in front of big groups. However, I have to spend time preping so I have my thoughts in order. Plus, I'm trying to marshal through a large redesign project that is being conducted very rush-rush. Things might get kinda hectic.

    Thanksgiving went well. We had a nice dinner at my Father's house, even though Ian seemed to be spilling a glass of water every 30 minutes. I swear the kid had hands of rock Thursday night. It was unbelievable. The food was good though and so was the company. Best of all, Heather felt good enough to attend. Her back is mending up nicely and she's starting to feel strong enough to get up and around. He mother is staying until Thursday and my mom is coming on Friday. That will be two weeks of help for Heather - I think she should be back 100% by then. She'll just have to be careful that she doesn't re-injure things anytime soon.

    Another nice thing about Thanksgiving at my Dad's . . . He gave me my birthday gift: the Indiana Jones boxed set on DVD. Widescreen, no less. Very nice! Haven't had an opportunity to watch any of them yet, but I'm itchin' to spin one of those DVD's soon. Hopefully I'll get the chance later this week.

    Proud to be Irish

    This makes me proud to be Irish (even if I might actually be more Scottish than Irish.)



    Miss Ireland Rosanna Davison poses at the Miss World Beach Beauty 2003.