January 30, 2004

Okay, Last Link for the Day

Manties

Figured Out What To Get Heather for Valentine's Day

Now don't anybody tell her, but I'm going to buy her this.

She's gonna love it. I know it.

Thanks to Dave Barry's blog for bringing this unique gift idea to my attention.

This Sounds Like a Great Vacation

Make sure you read it out loud

This is Fun

Penguin Game

Another version of the same game, but this time with more kick Penguin 2 game

Ah, That's Not An Experience I'm Looking For

I've seen the pictures of the exploded sperm whale - very funny. But while reading Dave Barry's blog this afternoon, he linked to this article about the explosion. It's all the same stuff that I've read in other articles, until you get to the end, when this little nugget hits you:

Once moved to a nearby nature preserve, the male specimen -- the largest whale ever recorded in Taiwan -- drew the attention of locals because of its large penis, measured at some five feet, the Taipei Times reported.

"More than 100 Tainan city residents, mostly men, have reportedly gone to see the corpse to 'experience' the size of its penis," the newspaper reported.


Ah. Er. "Experience" the size of the penis? Thank goodness the whale exploded before he was sexullly exploited by any more curious Taiwanese men.

Pixar & Disney Not Playing Nice Anymore

Pixar, Disney Partnership Talks Collapse

Personally, I think this is bad for Disney. Their animation department has not been performing up to the standards they set in the first half of the 90's. Their big hits have all come from Pixar, with the exception of Lilo and Stitch - which Disney made reluctantly. Plus, Disney just recently closed a Florida-based animation studio. I don't think they have the man-power or the creative-power in the company to develop high-quality animation entertainment.

Meanwhile, I think Pixar will strike a deal with another distributor more along the lines that Steve Jobs and Co. want. They'll continue to produce quality animated entertainment. Make lots of money and prosper.

Broken Record, But True

I know, I know - you're probably getting tired of reading about it here, but what can I say? It's cold. Damn cold. The kind of cold that effects how you go about your day. So, I blog about it.


click for full view


That's a NEGATIVE 26 WIND CHILL with a NEGATIVE 13 AIR TEMPERATURE. That's really, really cold. However, I recently re-discovered the joys and warmth of the hood. My mom made me wear the hood on my coat when I was little kid, but I can't remember wearing one seriously in the last 10 - 15 years. I though they were dorky. Well, it was so cold yesterday that I decided to attach and wear the hood on my new winter coat (warmest, most comforable winter coat I've ever had, thank you very much). The hood plus the hat I was wearing really made a difference, especially during my walk across the Chicago River. Together they trapped more heat, and the hood kept more wind off my face. Glorious! I wish I had started using the thing sooner.

January 29, 2004

Those Lucky Hollywood Techies

Jennifer GarnerJennifer Garner is going to host the Scientific and Technical Awards on Feb. 14. It's the OSCAR award show the precedes the regular show where honors are given for devices, methods, formulas, discoveries or inventions of special and outstanding value to the arts and sciences of motion pictures. It's not the show for the pretty people to win awards, but rather the show for the people who make the pretty people look and sound pretty.

And they get to receive their OSCAR from Jennifer Garner.

Those lucky bastards.



Yes, I Still Like to Get Toys for Christmas

Last year Mattel started producing 10" versions of their Justice League actions figures. The figures are based on the Cartoon Network animated show - one of my favorite shows to watch, if I have the time. The 10" figures look wicked cool. For Christmas Heather got me Batman, and Heather's sister (who had me in the family gift exchange) got me Superman. They strike quite the pose standing next to each other up on my dresser. I enjoy collecting some action figures, but I essentially turn them into poseable statues. I admire the sculpting and paint job, and like how they decorate my little corner of our room.

I'm currently trying to locate a Wonder Woman figure. She's very rare. I'm not searching for myself, but rather my niece who is a HUGE Wonder Woman fan. Of course, if I was able to locate two, I would't mind picking one up for myself. Then I could at least have the DC trinity of heroes: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Though, the whole Justice League would be nice.

Ian can't comprehend any of my toy collecting and not playing. For him, toys are for playing with. And who can blame him? He's four. For a four year old, toys are for playing. It's silly toy collecting adults like myself who ruin it for little kids like Ian.

Bush Yoga

I remember mentioning the George Bush action figure when it came out about a year ago. The action figure is of President Georege W. Bush dressed in the Air Force flight suit he wore when he declared the war in Iraq over after he landed on a U.S. carrier. Turns out the figure is very poseable. So much so that someone has taken the time to dedicate a site to showing the George Bush action figure in a number of classical yoga positions.

Space Ghost Comic

Learned that DC Comics is giving the go-ahead to produce a 6-issue Space Ghost mini-series that will tell the origin of the hero and update him with a more realistic and modern sensibility. It will be written by Joe Kelly with art by Ariel Olivetti.

Kelly says that he's given Space Ghost a real hardcore, pulp-feel story, which I think sounds exciting. I really dig the old pulp stories from the 30's and 40's, especially stuff like The Shadow and The Spider. Lots of action, lots of violence, lots of justice served from dual blazing 45's. If Kelly can capture that high-adventure pulp feel (like Ben Raab is in The Phantom), then I'll definitely be on board.

I've always liked Space Ghost ever since watching the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons back when I was a little kid. Space Ghost's re-emergence as a talk show host on Cartoon Network is funny too, but my nostalgic memories of the cartoon from when I was a kid makes me want to see a serious Ghost. One who's out crackin' heads and cleaning up the galaxy. I hope the comic delivers, it think the concept sounds fun.

Ugh! Decomposing whale explodes on Taiwan street


TAIPEI (Reuters) - The decomposing remains of a 60-tonne sperm whale exploded on a busy Taiwan street, showering nearby cars and shops with blood and organs and stopping traffic for hours, local newspapers say.

The 17 metre (56 foot) dead whale had been on a truck headed for an autopsy at a university earlier this week, when gases from internal decay caused its entrails to explode in the southern city of Tainan.

The whale had died after it was beached on the southwestern coast of the island.

January 28, 2004

It's Another Cold One

It really cold out again today. We're talking wicked wind chills. Take a look:


click for full view

Metra Can Kiss My Ass

Three days - three late trains. Today was the worst. I was at the station in Aurora from 6:50 am until 7:25am - not a single train appeared between that time, even though there is 6:57 express , 7:11 local, and 7:18 express all scheduled during that time.

Then, to ad insult to injury, the express we all boarded at 7:25am didn't get us into Union Station until 8:30 am. 55 minutes. The express train is only suppose to take 35 minutes. We stopped in LaGrange for apparently no other reason than for the conductor to stop and take in the scenary.

I know it's cold and all - and it's hard to get the trains running in the morning, but it's not like this cold was a surprise. Can't they plan ahead, start working a bit earlier so they can keep things on schedule? And what's with the stopping and slow riding?

Arggh!

January 27, 2004

From the Harper's Weekly Email

Here's a happy thought: Scientists found that the Ebola virus can spread from dead animals such as gorillas to human beings, and genetic analysis suggested that the five recent outbreaks of the disease were caused by five distinct strains of the virus, which is among the most contagious known, rather than one strain that had mutated. "If Ebola is popping up randomly," said one scientist, "then things are pretty hopeless."

Read the entire Weekly Review

And the Nominees Are . . .

The Academy of Arts and Sciences announced the nominations for the 76th Annual Acadamy Awards. Even though I rarely, if ever, get the opportunity to see any of the films before the awards, I still love watching and pulling for the movies and actors/actresses that I think should win.

Nominee List

So this year I'll be pulling for The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King to win best film. I really think it's the year for the film series to finally take the top prize. Heather and I have really enjoyed the first two and we're working really hard on seeing the third and final one in the theater.

I also suprised and happy to see Johnny Depp nominated for his work in Pirates of the Caribbean. Pirates was a movies I really wanted to see this summer - but didn't. Now I'm trying to see it on DVD. The flick just looked like two-hours of a lot of fun. And I think Johnny Depp is a pretty cool actor.

Hope They Find a Cure

Researchers Study Restless Leg Ailment

For somebody like myself who prefers things to be quiet and still, sitting near someone constantly bouncing thier legs always drives me crazy. I find it horribly un-nerving.

January 26, 2004

Happy 20th Birthday Apple

They've come a long way in 20 years.

President John Kerry? He Doesn't Have the Look

Heather and I were talking about this the other day. John Kerry will not get the nomination for the Democratic party. And if he does, he'll most certainly lose. Why? He doesn't look like a president.

I know it's superficial to say this, but having the look of Commander in Chief goes a long way towards voters taking you seriously when crunch time comes. I remember the primaries back in 1992 thinking that Bill Clinton looked like someone who could be President of the United States. Same with Al Gore and George Bush, Part II. They have that Leader of the Free World look to them.

John Kerry? I don't think so. Just take a look at him: all droppy-dog eyed with that huge shook of greying hair and long sad face. That's not the guy you want to see stepping off of Air Force One.

I know, I know. What are his thoughts regarding the economy? What does he think we should be doing with Iraq? Does he want to dissolve Social Security? These are all important things that I will way when I cast my votes in the primary and the general election. But still, I think having the right look goes a long way to helping you chances of being elected. With his doopy mug and lethargic personality, Kerry is putting himself at a disadvantge over the long-haul.

January 23, 2004

Strange But True

Man dies at desk on Tuesday, isn't discovered until Thursday

Bob Keeshan, Captain Kangaroo, Dies at 76

Bob Keeshan, Captain Kangaroo, Dies at 76

First it was Ray Rayner this week, now Captain Kangaroo passes away. Such a sad week for children's television.

Starting November 1st of every year, my brother and I used to hound my mother constantly to let us play our Captain Kangaroo Christmas album. She would never give in until after Thanksgiving.

I still have the old vinyl album - too scratched to play now, but I hold onto it for sentimental reasons. Back in 2002 I finally found a copy of it on CD and quickly made Ian a fan of the Captain and Mr. Greenjeans.

Like Fred Rogers and Ray Rayner, Bob Keeshan truly loved entertaining and teaching children through television. There will never ever be people like them again.

Friday Reviews

I finished reading Cold Mountain last night and Fortune and Glory this morning on the train. They are two completely different types of books, but both excellent.

coverCold Mountain is the novel by Charles Frazier which tells the story of a confederate solider, Inman, who is seriously wounded in the Civil War, but instead of healing and heading back to the front line, decides to desert and head back to North Carolina and his beloved, Ada. Meanwhile, Ada struggles to live in the farmhouse she inherited after her father dies.

The book bounces back and forth, focusing on Inman for a chapter and then Ada for a chapter - showing how they each are learning to live with their new lives. She, a woman all alone on a farm far from the city life she grew up in. He, a wounded solider given a second chance at life after beating the odds and recovering from a horrible war wound.

I found Ada's story the more compelling of the two. She makes a comment late in the book along the lines of saying how her father worked hard to keep her a child, and to an extent, she let him. Ada's story is one of a woman finally growing up learning how to be an adult. Self-reliant and independent. After Inman has finally returned to Ada, Ruby, a young woman who comes to help Ada on the farm and becomes Ada's teacher on how to be self-reliant, remarks to Ada that she doesn't need him (Inman). Ada's reply perfectly sums up how the character has grown. "I know I don't need him. I think I want him."

Inman's tale is also interesting and entertaining, but it seemed to lack the emotional punch that Ada's tale did. Inman met plenty of interesting characters and had plenty of adventures on his long walk back to Cold Mountain, but I didn't see the same changes and growth that I saw in Ada. There is some emotional payoff for Inman towards the end where he makes some observations about how war and time has changed him; it just didn't have the punch that I saw with Ada.

Frazier's writing is eloquent and moving. He has a knack for creating wonderful supporting characters and situations. He completely pulls you into the South around the time the Civil War is wrapping up and gives you a keen sense of how America was going to change because of the war. The book starts slow, but it turns into an excellent read. Full formed characters in believable settings, all handled with beautiful prose. Cold Mountain comes highly recommended.

coverFortune and Glory: A True Hollywood Comic Book Story is a complete 180 degrees from Cold Mountain. Back in 1998, comic book creator Brian Michael Bendis optioned one of his comic books, Goldfish, to be made into a movie. His experiences working his script through the Hollywood entertainment machine grabbed him as so strange that he decided to document the whole sordid affair. The result is a hysterical comic book that shows just how strange and otherworldly Hollywood is.

Bendis' comic has mainstream appeal - you don't have to be a comic book geek or entertainment insider to enjoy and laugh at the jokes. The writing is grounded and approachable, the art fun and perfectly suited for the material. There were plenty of sections I laughed out loud. I highly recommend this book. Pick it up and have a good laugh at Hollywood.

Oh, Movie Trailers

Saw some pretty good trailers this morning. First up, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are teamed up again in Todd Phillips, Starsky and Hutch. Trailer makes the movie look funny. Stiller and Wilson always seem to be funny together. Todd Phillips has shown he can make a funny movie. Plus, Will Ferrell makes a cameo that looks hilarious. I think the movie is going to be really, really funny. Plan to see it somehow.

Watch the Starsky and Hutch trailer now. Then go to the website. My pimp name is Junior Brendan Adonis.

I also checked out the trailer for Van Helsing. Starring Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale, the movie is about the legendary monster hunter born in the pages of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Helsing (played by Jackman) travels to Transylvania to bring down Dracula, Frankenstein monster, the Wolfman, and the Mummy.

The trailer makes the movie look slick. A great popcorn action flick with grand sets and a dark mood that could be a lot of fun. There are plenty of gadgets, pomp and circumstance, and Helsing puttin' a hurt on big name monsters. Of course this was my reaction to the trailer for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - and that movie was horrible. On the other hand, Van Helsing is being handled by Stephen Sommer, who was behind the cheesy, but enjoyable The Mummy and The Mummy Returns starring Brendan Frasier. So this movie could turn out okay. I guess I wait and see.

Watch the Van Helsing trailer or check out the website

Asimov's Vision is Coming True

Sony has developed a new robot that is closer to the vision of robots that Issac Asimov promoted in his science fiction than previously developed. QRIO, (pronounced Cure-io) is a little robot humanoid that walks, talks, dances, jogs, and recognizes 60,000 words and human faces. He's really quite amazing. Sony even admits to developing QRIO to abide by Isaac Asimov's First Law of Robotics, which proscribes injuring humans.

Take a look at all the things QRIO can do at the QRIO website.

January 22, 2004

Denver Post Covers Comics

Drawing attention: Nostalgia and new formats helping comic books expand audience

Nice article that looks at the business and growing popularity of comics. I was just glad they refrained from using terms like "Pow" or "Holy Comic Books!", which seems to have so often when the newsmedia writes about comic books.

Martian Punks

NASA: Spirit Rover Stops Sending Data

According to NASA, they believe the rover is experiencing hardware or software problems.

I don't think that's the problem. It's teenage Martian punks screwing around with our property. Damn teenagers.

It's Damn Cold Out Today

If you can't read it, click on the image.

I grabbed this when the air temp in Aurora was -1 degrees and the wind chill was -21 degrees. Brrrrrrrr.

January 21, 2004

If Heather Reads This . . .

Study: Sleep Essential for Creativity

This study gives Heather even more ammunition to fire at me about getting more sleep. I think I'm starting to believe her arguments that I would be better off going to bed earlier. It hit me a couple of weekends ago when my Dad and I were trying to figure out how to cut the padding and carpeting to maximize its coverage in the basement. I couldn't figure it out.

It was pretty basic math. I just couldn't get my head to figure the calculations. It was like I was looking at the problem through a haze. I've always been good at math, so it bothered me that the solution was so hard for me to arrive at - even with Heather explaining it all to me. It was then that I started to think that maybe my mental skills were slipping because of lack of sleep.

It's just so hard for me to go to bed early at night. I get up around 5:15 am and leave for work around 6:30am. I don't return home until around 6:20pm - roughly 12 hours away from home each day. That only leaves me 12 hours at home. I know I need to sleep, but I also want to spend time with my kids, my wife, get some work and projects done around the house, help Heather with some housework, and find a little time to read a comic or watch something on Turner Classic Movies. Dinner, kids, wife and work take me from 6:30pm to usually 10 or 10:30pm. I could go to bed then, but 1) after completing the work I wanted to get done that night, I'm usually overcome with a strong urge to spend some me time and 2) I tend to get a second wind around 10pm. Suddenly I ready to go for another 2 hours without feeling tired. Hence me reading or watching a little TCM or Cartoon Network until 11 or 11:30pm. I end up being in bed for five hours, sometimes less.

It's difficult to break the habit, I think my obsessive behavior feeds it, but I feel like I should make a change. However, we're going to have a new born in the house, so already on the horizon I can see late nights all over again. Traditionally I stay up with the baby until the late feeding and let Heather get her sleep. Frankly, I think she needs it more than I. She's taking care of little kids all day. I'm just sitting at desk.

I guess we'll see what can be done.

Sure Glad I Learned to Juggle

Study: Learning to Juggle Causes Changes in Brain

According to the study, learning to juggle actually causes an increase in gray matter in certain areas of the brain. When the subjects stopped juggling regularly, the newly acquired brain matter decreased.

Fasinating.

Chicago TV legend dies

Chicago TV legend dies

Ray Rayner was local TV celebrity who hosted a number of children's shows from 1961 to 1981. I vaguely remember his "Ray Rayner and His Friends" show on WGN. Like Fred Rogers, it's always sad to see someone who showed so much love for teaching and entertaining young children pass away.

Elvis is Now An Action Figure

This May McFarlane Toys will release the first of three Elvis Presley action figures. (I use the term "action figure" loosely. McFarlane Toys have made a name for themselves for sculpting highly detailed figures that really are intended to be posable statues. There are plenty of points of articulation, but necessarily ones that create "action" poses.)

The first figure will be The King all decked out in black leather from the '68 Comeback Special.

I actually think this would be fun to own. I'd have to see some better pictures, or the actual figure, before I made a final decision - but I could see adding this to my collection.

The next figure will be one based on Elvis from the mid-50s, right after he hit it big with "Heartbreak Hotel". What the third figure will be modeled after has not been determined yet.

Interesting Same Day Announcements

Looking for porn? Now you can just Booble it
Online pornography aficionados got a boost when a US entrepreneur launched a new search engine for raunchy Internet material dubbed "Booble.com".

and

Rabbi Offers Prayer for Web Porn Browsers
An Israeli rabbi has composed a prayer to help devout Jews overcome guilt after visiting porn web sites while browsing the Internet.

I love the Internet.

January 20, 2004

The Bulls Ineptitude Has Been Identified

The team is high on pot they bought from the team mascot.

'Da Bull' busted on pot charge

Read PVP

It's funny

Detective Comics #790

That was disappointing.

The new creative team of writer Anderson Gabrych and artist Pete Woods took over this DC stalwart title and deliver with a horribly generic story. Nothing interesting, nothing unique, nothing new.

I get the feeling Gabrych was trying to prove three things with his first real comic book script: One, that he understood Batman and the character's history. Two, he can live up to the Detective Comics title and not make his comic just a straight superhero book. Three, that he can write deep, meaningful character studies. I saw all of those things hinted at in his story. The kernels for any one of those stories was there, Gabrych just doesn't stay with any of them long enough for them to come to fruition. Unfortunately, by trying to do all three, we end up with a washed out, bland, run-of-the-mill superhero story.

Pete Woods' art is good. Some pages better than other. But it still came off as pretty standard comic book superhero stuff. You compare Woods art with what Eduardo Risso is doing in Batman, and while their styles are different, you can see how a comic artist can enhance and complete the story - not just illustrate it.

What does this all mean? It means in a year when I am taking a very serious look at what comics I am buying on monthly basis, Detective Comics has a good chance of being pulled from my list. When I got back into reading and collecting comics, 'Tec was the first book I started picking up regularly - about 14 years ago. That's a lot of comics.

However, if the book isn't going to deliver what I think is fair entertainment value for my dollar, I'm going to move on. Anderson Gabrych and Pete Woods have two, maybe three, more issues to prove they can craft entertaining stories starring my favorite comic book hero. If they fail, the book's getting cut.

You're on the clock boys.

Television Commercials Come to the Web

Television Commercials Come to the Web

A number of websites will start running full-motion video ads today. These ads will run at 30 frames a second, the speed of TV video, and will fill up the entire browser window.

Here's an interesting quote (emphasis added):
The new ad technology, from Unicast, an advertising company based in New York, invisibly loads the commercial while unwitting users read a Web page, then displays the ad across the entire browser area when users click to a new page. The resulting ad is identical to TV, whether the user has a high- or low-speed connection. The company says the technology evades pop-up blockers, but the person can skip the ad by clicking a box.

Because of the industry I'm in, I read about all kinds of new developments in advertising, online and otherwise. I don't work in advertising directly - just develop the websites that others sell advertising on. I work on the content side of things.

It never ceases to amaze me how advertising agencies get all excited about new ways to slip ads into content or disrupt a user's entertainment experience. Agencies moan when people start using TiVo and skip all the commericals. They groan when a Do-Not-Call list is implemented. They fret over how no one clicks on web ads. So they go out and figure out better ways to slip advertising in front of "unwitting users".

Do these people enjoy have pop-up ads and video interupting their time on the web? Do they like having someone call them with an offer for new windows as they sit down for dinner? I can't imagine they do. They've just learned to suppress their humanity in order to sell some ads. I guess it's why I can't work directly in advertising.

This Is Going To Be a Bitch To Thaw

January 19, 2004

The Weekend

The weekend went quickly, and I don't know if I got anything done or not. Saturday morning we hung out at the mall returning some Christmas gifts and letting the kids burn off some energy. We live right by Fox Valley Mall, a pretty big suburban mall, and inside it they have this kids play area sponsored by some Children's Museum. The center of the play area is this huge climbing tower. It's about 25, 30 feet tall. Completely enclosed in netting, so kids can't fall out, but open so they can see everything as they climb up.

I took the kids there while Heather tried to use up some gift cards she had. Emma was too small for the climbing tower, but she still had fun playing with some of the other things there - and of course people watching. Ian climbed up the tower a couple times and did fine. However, when it was time to go he asked if he could go up one more time. He wanted to show Heather how high he could climb. No problem, I say. He climbs up to the top, does the wave to Mommy and then starts down.

Now, on the first few trips down, he would get confused every once and a while as to which direction he should go. I was able to direct him from the ground on which path to take. Any way, on this final decent he manages to get turned around and tries to slip through a gap that was never intended to be slipped through. Ian gets himself stuck, but good. Heather and I try to coach him on how to get out, but he gets scared and starts crying. I've got my coat off and begin the climb myself, when it an older boy (who we discovered was sent in by his mother to, "help that little boy") is able to pull and dislodge Ian.

Good fun.

The rest of the weekend was pretty much uneventful. We got our digital camera back all fixed. So look for updates to return to the site. We finally got our kitchen floor mopped. (After the carpet installations and furniture deliveries of the last week, the floor was looking horrible) Sunday I watched some football.

And how's that for a boring Super Bowl. New England and Carolina? I knew it was going to be bad when Carolina and Philly made it to the NFC championship. I really don't care for either team: just not a fan of Philly and Carolina sounds and looks to much like a Canadian football team for me to be interested in them. The Patriots? Ehh. I was really pulling for Tony Dungy and the Colts. Indianapolis was a team I could have pulled for in the Super Bowl. But that won't be the case. I guess I'll be pulling for New England. They are obviously on a roll - easily playing the best football in the league. New England and Carolina? Maybe the commericials will be fun.

It's damn cold here today. 2pm and it's only 12 degress out in Aurora. This morning when I was driving to the train station I saw I guy out running. It was 6:40 am, the wind chill was -15. Dude, GIVE THE RUNNING A REST FOR THE DAY!

Ahhhh.

Here's a plus: because it's Martin Luther King's birthday there was nobody on the train. It's nice to have a whole train to yourself. Nice and roomy.

Heather went to the doctor this morning and everything is looking fine. The baby is going to be here really soon. We still need to decide on a name, find a second crib, and get Ian and Emma together into the same bedroom. Oy! 2004 is going to be a trip, I just know it.

January 16, 2004

Oooh! The World's Best Shaving System

Gillette announced that they will begin selling a high-tech razor. It's a souped-up version of the Mach3Turbo featuring 62 patents and a tiny battery-powered motor that emits pulses that work on the skin to prop up hair so it can be cut off more easily.

According to the press release, "M3Power outperforms all men's shaving systems, in closeness and comfort, by shaving more hair, closer in one easy power stroke."

Peter Hoffman, President, Blades and Razors had this to say, "Consumer testing, conducted according to the industry's most rigorous standards, concluded that M3Power is preferred overall and on every one of the 68 shaving attributes that were tested, including closeness, comfort, efficiency, safety and less irritation. M3Power is clearly the world's best shaving system."

Wow, the President of Blades and Razors says they have the world's best shaving system. President of Blades and Razors? When little Peter was in fourth grade, did he announce on career day that he wished to grow up and be the President of Blades and Razors and develop for the men of the world the best shaving system ever - one that used a single power stoke?

Oh, brother.

BTW: The razor itself will cost $14.99, while the special blades will run you $10.99 for a four-pack. Apparently, the President of Blades and Razors did not build the world's best shaving system out of his desire to help humanity. He's in it for the bling-bling.

Doh!

Streakers Watch As Their Car Is Stolen

January 15, 2004

THE Best Football Game

It's like the old handheld football game that I played as a kid - but without the option for passing. Simply use the arrow keys to move your player down the field. You get four chances to move 10 yards. The clock is always ticking. Try and score as many TDs as you can. A lot of fun and a great time-killer at work.

Play The Best Football Game now!

Now They're Thinking

NBC Getting Early Start on New Season

NBC plans to start their 2004-05 season early this year to follow on the tails of their Summer Olympic coverage.

This way they can cancel the crappy shows sooner and get to the mid-season replacements quicker. And when those fail, it frees them up to rush more quality "reality" programming like Fear Factor and Average Joe at TV viewers.

That Jeff Zucker, he's one smart cookie.

Maddux Back in the Friendly Confines?

No Maddux reply soon

Here's another reason to be excited if you're a Chicago sports fan. The Cubs appear to be courtin' Greg Maddux. Greg won his fist Cy Young award here in Chicago back in the early 90s, but then split when the Tribune Company (which owns the Cubs) wouldn't loosen the purse strings.

Maddux has had a stellar career, and I think there are still plenty of pitches still in him. He'd make a phenomenal addition to a Cubs rotation that already features Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, and Matt Clement. What concerns me is Maddux's agent - Uber Agent Scott Boras. The guy is almost single-handedly destroying baseball by demanding - and getting - outrageous salaries that usually end up crippling the team - while making himself a nice agent fee. I don't expect Boras to make unrealistic demands for Maddux, but he could destroy the deal through his greed.

Regardless, it would make the baseball season just that more fun if Maddux was back as a Cub in 2004.

I Lovie the New Bears Coach

Bears find their man in St. Louis

The Chicago Bears announced yesterday that Lovie Smith has agreed to take the position of head coach for the team. Smith has been the defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams since 2001 - where he transformed their defense in to one of the best in the league.

I'm pleased with the hiring. Lovie seems like a solid choice for head coach - he definitely looks like he's ready for it. Of course, the proof will be in the pudding. He'll have to shape the Chicago Bears into winners. Hopefully he can instill the winning attitude that he has been a part of in St. Louis and Tampa Bay before that here in Chicago.

January 14, 2004

Yes, We Can All Get Along

One of the little arguments that floats around the comic book reading crowd, besides who's stronger - Superman or the Hulk - is whether or not super heroes are holding back comic books from being accepted and respected by the mainstream. If you travel the online message boards and chat rooms, you hear vehement arguments for one side or another.

Stuart Moore, comic book writer and columnist, wrote about this never-ending battle in his weekly column, "A Thousand Flowers." To sum up one of his main points: Why does it have to be one of the other?

For as much written about the topic that there has been, that sentiment is hard to find. I was glad to see Mr. Moore stating the obvious. Personally I've always felt the arguments were silly. Nobody judges television by what they see on the network stations from 7 to 10pm, or music by what they hear on a classic rock station. Why should comics be treated any differently?

Ultimately it will be a quality, appealing entertainment product (not just a quality comic book - there are plenty of those right now) that will bring the masses to the medium. Whether that is Batman book or Ghost World is irrelevant.

Wow!

Kodak to Stop Selling Traditional Cameras in U.S.

No more film camera from Kodak in the U.S., except for one-time use cameras. That's quite a change.

The Phantom

I'm a Phantom fan from way back. I discovered the tales of the Ghost Who Walks on the comics page of the Chicago Tribune back when I was in middle school and thought comic books were for kids. Comic strips in the newspaper were okay though. Created in 1936 by Lee Falk, the Phantom is a jungle adventurer who is sworn to fight evil and injustice in all their forms. The character has a very interesting back history, a good place to read it is on the King Features website.

While the Phantom has a huge following around most of the world, in the US he has been mostly ignored. His comic strip still runs in a number of newspapers around the country (but no longer the Trib), but comic books starring the Man Who Cannot Die have usually been poorly received. That's why I was excited when Moonstone Comics announced that they would start publishing Phantom comic books in 2001.

Moonstone published a four or five of 64-page Phantom comic books in 2001 and 2002. All self-contained stories. I pick up two of them. They were mildly entertaining, but nothing special. Writing was a little poor and the art inconsistent. At the beginning of 2003, Moonstone announced they were dropping the single story, 64-page square bound Phantom comics and would instead go with a more traditional 22-page comic that would come out every other month. In other words, traditional comic books.

The first issue came out in December. Written by Ben Raab with art by Pat Quinn. Covers are being handled by John Cassaday. Raab and Cassaday were known talents to me - and talent who's work I usually enjoy. Pat Quinn was new to me. However, after reading the first issue I was pleased with the entire team that Moonstone had put together for the relaunched Phantom line.

Raab updates the Phantom story without losing the high-adventure, 1930s serial feel that I think has always made the Phantom so much fun to read. Quinn's art looks fantastic. Dark - but fun. He captures the spirit of the Phantom splendidly. Together Raab and Quinn deliver a solid story with high entertainment value. I'm really glad I took another chance on Moonstone's Phantom.

Issue #2 is scheduled to come out in February - I'm excited to read it.

January 13, 2004

Damn!

White Socks Declared Indecent

The Couches Are Here!

The couch and love seat arrived at 2:30 pm today. The carpeting was already in, so the guys just brought the furniture in and put it in the room.

Heather says that the couches look really big in the room. Probably because our old furniture wasn't very tall, the change is dramatic. We'll get used to it, I'm sure. She also says that they are very comfortable.

Can't wait to get home tonight and see them.

Wisconsin Scientist Finds a Better Way to Cut the Cheese

University Adapts Laser to Slice Cheese

Actual quote concerning a failed attempt, "It smelled really bad."

The Carpeting Is In!

Just talked to Heather. The new carpeting is in and according to her - it looks fantastic. I'm very excited. We're going to have a great room to hang out in now.

Interesting aside: last night we realized that the couch and love seat was not being delivered on January 30th - but JANUARY 13th. Today. The same day as the carpeting. Luckily, the window for delivery of the furniture was 11:30am to 2:30pm. The carpet guys were in and out before 10am. Everything is going to work out fine. It wasn't the case last night. Heather and I were scrambling to figure out what to do with what we thought was going to be a gluttony of furniture. As chance would have it, Heather was talking to our friends across the street and mentioned how we were getting rid of our furniture. They indicated that they were looking for a cheap couch and love seat to furnish a room until they had money to do it proper. So Heather got on the horn last night and told them if they wanted the furniture, they could have 'em now. And they did. We got rid of the stuff, to make room for the new stuff.

Now the carpeting is in well in advance of the new couch and love seat, even after the confusion over delivery.

I love it when a plan comes together.

January 12, 2004

Hmmmm . . . These Are Good



They're like Pringles - but made with chocolate.

Oh, My Achin' Bacon

Dad came over Saturday morning for our day of hard labor to begin. Carpeting, carpeting, carpeting. I had prepared the basement Friday night so we carried the padding down and got to work. After some confusion on how we should cut things, we got our act together and laid the carpeting down in the basement. The carpet looks great and the padding we bought seems to give the right amount of cushion for our basement floor. While I was skeptical, my Dad was confident we could get couch I had gotten from my sister down into the basement too. With a little lift and twisting, the couch made it down the steps. Everything looks really nice. I was really glad we could get the couch down in the basement. It makes the room feel more finished. If our digital camera was working I'd post a photo - maybe I will in the future.

Heather's bought some heavy fabric to sew the panels we'll use to divide the basement into the play area and storage area. She hopes to get those done in the next few weeks. We still have to buy some additional storage - Ikea, here we come - and figure out some more lighting options. But at least we've got the majority of the work done.

Ian and Emma think the basement is fantastic. I've already taken some toys down there, but for the most part, they enjoy running around in a circles on the new soft carpeting.

After tackling the basement, my Dad helped me move all the furniture out of our family room. We then ripped up all the carpeting and padding. This is all in preparation for the new carpeting that is going in this Tuesday. The room looks a lot different with a bare, plywood floor. It's also a lot louder - no carpet to dampen the sounds.

I've also taken the opportunity of the carpeting being pulled up to drill some holes in the floor. I'll be using them to run the speaker wire for the two rear surround speakers (and hopefully the sub-woofer) through the crawl space under the family room and up into the receiver at the other end. It will keep those wire nicely tucked away - something we haven't been able to do when I installed the home theater back in February '03. Plus, I think I'll be able to put the sub-woofer in, so we'll finally have bass - something that has been sorely missed.

It was a lot of work. I was beat on Sunday. Mostly my legs - all that up and down the stairs into the basement and crouching to pull up carpeting. However, I'm pleased with the results so far. The basement is turning out how I hoped and the family room is going to be great with new carpeting, new furniture, and less toys (the hidden speaker wires will be the icing on the cake).

Felt bad for my Dad though. If it wasn't a pain shooting through his back, it was knee giving him problems, or a cramp in his foot. His pain from doing this manual labor was a reminder to me that my Dad is getting older. You know how you always imagine people being a certain age? Maybe it's just me, but for certain friends or family, I always have this age I always imagine or relate to them through. It can change - but it usually takes some kinda big event for me to update that person's age in my head. For example, I always had my sister at around 17-years old until I had lunch with her this past summer when she took a break from her summer internship at a downtown law firm. My sister is starting her third year of law school. She is definitely not 17-years old. It took meeting her for lunch, all professional and lawyer like, for my imaginary age for her to be shocked into updating.

The same happened this weekend with my Dad. I've probably held him in my mind at about late 30s, early 40s for years now. Even though he will celebrate his 58th birthday this November. He's still active. He's still strong. Hell, he still looks like he's in late 40s - however, the little pains, the straining - they're indicators that he's pushing 60. It gave me pause. Made me think about things. Things I'm still thinking about now.

What Will They Show During Commercial Breaks?

Miller Brewing Co. is considering making its High Life ad campaign, a series of ads that focuses on the pleasures of blue-collar life, into a TV show. Read the article

January 09, 2004

Julius

Look what Oni Press is got slated for a March '04 release:

Julius by Antony Johnston and Brett Weldele
Julius is the gangster king of the East End and his public persona is as beloved as it would be were he true royalty. But in private, his generals conspire to remove Julius for their own selfish gain. This reworking of Shakespeare's classic tale of betrayal, corruption, narcissism, and violence gives the play a new power and modern relevance. Expertly updated and skillfully rendered, JULIUS is a precise stab into the dark heart of comics.

They're taking Julius Caesar and making him crime boss in London. The creative talent is top notch and Oni know only put out quality material. I might have to check this out. It really interests me.

Super Hero Happy Hour

The comic book is a good medium for a lot of genres: horror, action, sci-fi, and crime. One genre that is rarely chosen for comics is comedy. Sure there are plenty of comic strips in the newspaper with their quirky animals and three-panel gags - but that's different. I'm talking about full out 22-page comic books that set out to make you laugh through story - not gags. There aren't many of them.

In all of 2003 I found three good ones: Rex Mantooth, Scurvy Dogs, and Bear. One was about a talking ape super agent, one about pirates, and one about a talking teddy bear who's tormented by a cat. You figure which one is which.

2004 is still young, but I've already found my first one: Super Hero Happy Hour written by Dan Taylor and illustrated by Chris Fason.

Published by Geek Punk, Super Hero Happy Hour is set at The Hideout Bar & Grill. Run by a former hero/adventurer, the bar caters to the super hero crowd. It's a place for them to come and unwind after a busy day stopping evil geniuses from contaminating the city's water supply or halting an alien invasion. They drink, complain, and gossip just like regular folks.

I got a hold of the first Super Hero Happy Hour trade paperback, which collects the first (and so far only) four issues of the comic. While for the most part there is no plot - characters sit around the bar swapping villains like trading cards, complaining about their action figures, or figuring out new super hero names - the dialogue is clever and very funny, which is what makes the comic so entertaining. If you ever saw The Tick cartoon show, you'd understand what I mean. Some of the jokes only work for readers familiar with super heroes, but for the most part the humor is pretty universal.

The art is also very good. Much better than you get from most small, self-published comic books. Fason uses some cheats in his panel art and some backgrounds would have been helpful for establishing scenes, but over all his simple, quirky style helps sell the jokes. If I can't imagine a different artist working on a story, then I figure it's the right artist for the story. Such is the case here.

While I wouldn't recommend this collection to someone just starting to read comics, Super Hero Happy Hour is a fun and funny look at the after-work world of super heroes.

What Happens When You Have a Season Finale and Nobody Watches?

For ailing 'Friends,' NBC turns to fans

Ratings for NBC's Friends are down sharply in its final season, and the Peacock is worried the final episode in May could become a non-event. To get the buzz going, NBC is asking AOL users to vote for their six most popular Friends episodes, which will rerun in March and April.

Apparently NBC can't see the writing on the wall. Friends is dying - it has been over the past few years. I don't think I've watched an episode of the show in 5 years. You're not going to bring people back to a show that the audience is finally figuring out ran out of things to say years ago.

January 08, 2004

Apparently His Fat Ass Couldn't Find the "Off" Switch for the TV

Man says he’s addicted to cable

According to this guy from Wisconsin, cable TV made him addicted to TV, caused his wife to be overweight and his kids to be lazy - so now he’s threatening to sue the cable company.

He called and canceled cable service in 1999, but he was only taken off the billing schedule, he continued to receive cable from then until Dec. 23, 2003 - when he filed his claim.

This was a great quote from the article, "The report states Dumouchel gave an employee five minutes to get a supervisor to talk to him or their next contact would be 'in the ocean with the sharks.' "

But here's the quote I fell out of my chair over.

“But the reason I am suing Charter (the cable company) is they did not let me make a decision as to what was best for myself and my family and (they have been) keeping cable (coming) into my home for four years after I asked them to turn it off.”

TURN THE FUCKING TV OFF!

Newton Minow: "We've gotten to the point where everybody's got a right and nobody's got a responsibility."

The Nesting is Almost Complete

I think I can almost see the top of the mountain regarding improvements to the house in preparation for the third baby.

The basement is cleaned and ready to be converted into a play area. Heather and I bought a large remnant carpet and some padding, and my Dad is coming over Saturday to help me lay it down there. After that it's just moving toys down, installing some additional shelving, and hanging some long curtains to get the room to a level Heather and I are both comfortable with.

Heather and I also picked out some new carpeting for the living room. Because of the room's size, we were able to save a bunch of money and buy a large enough remnant carpet to cover the room. It's a nice, soft berber-like carpet that we think will look nice in the room and stand up to the constant traffic our kids give it. The carpeting that's in the family room now is horribly ugly and stained - too light colored for kids to be on daily. The new carpet is darker - it'll do a better job of hiding. The installation date is next Tuesday. When my Dad is over Saturday, he's going to help me move furniture out of the room for the installers.

We are both glad we could find the more reasonably priced remnants to carpet these two areas. It's saving us a lot of money. Plus, the savings is allowing us to buy a great new couch and love seat for the family room. We're finally replacing the old This End Up couch and love seat we've had since 1996. The cushions are faded and worn, and no longer have their firmness. Plus, The End Up furniture is more wood than cushion. I consider us lucky that we haven't had more black eyes and split chins with Ian and Emma in that room.

We're getting these super-comfy couch and love seat that are dark blue - covered in actual denim. It might sound strange, but it perfectly fits with the informal atmosphere of our family room and compliments the color scheme very well. You gotta see it.



The furniture will get delivered shortly after the first of February. We were hesitant to buy new furniture at the same time we were bringing home a new born, but I hated the current stuff a lot - complained about it plenty - and with my upcoming bonus and the deals on carpeting, I think we both felt we could handle paying for the new couch and love seat. Plus, we will finally be removing the threat of injury that our current furniture presents. It's going to be soooo much nicer in the family room. I can't wait.

Now we just need to unload a 8-year old couch and love seat.

Dan DiDio Interview

Dan DiDio has almost single-handedly turned DC Comics around creatively. Through out the 90s, DC kinda floundered - losing a lot of ground to Marvel and small publishers when it came to the quality of stories and excitement surrounding their books. In the last few years DiDio has nearly remade DC, bringing in tons of fresh talent that has breathed new life into existing books and launched new titles that are breaking new ground in comics.

I've always been more of a DC-guy, than a Marvel-guy; so the work DiDio has done has really made me proud of the publisher again. Plus, because of DiDio I've gotten to enjoy some great comics starring the best characters in comicdom.

Check out the interview with Dan DiDio on Newsarama conducted by comic superstar Jim Lee. Because Jim and Dan are friends and work together (Jim runs Wildstorm Comics, a division of DC Comics), some of the questions are softballs, but it does give you a good insight into Dan's approach of running DC editorial.

Now This Is a Prank

Man's Apartment Encased in Aluminum Foil

While the guy was in LA on business, the friend he had apartment-sitting decided to cover eveything with aluminum foil. Everything. The toliet paper was unrolled, covered in foil, then rolled up again. The CD cases were covered, but done so that they can still be opened. The only items not covered were a book, "Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends," a portrait of his girlfriend, the bed and a bath mat.

I am still looking to see if there are any photos of the aluminum foil apartment.

UPDATE: Ah, here is the article I should have linked to: Friends foil Olympia man's home. Plenty of pictures there.

Happy Birthday Elvis



Elvis Aaron Presley was born to Vernon and Gladys Presley in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8, 1935. Great music and campy films would follow.

Turner Classic Movies are running a whole bunch of Elvis films today - but they're all during the day, so I won't be able to watch any of them. Bummer. I'll just have to celebrate with listening to a bunch of great Elvis tunes while at work.

Oooh, More Fun Star Wars Stuff to Buy



From Starwars.com: Hasbro will make available a series of action figures packaged with collectors glasses representing the five current episodes of the Star Wars saga. Available only at Target this Spring, each 3 3/4" figure is packaged with an exclusive collectors glass. The illustrated designs on these collector glasses are a nostalgic nod to some of the collectible drinking cups that accompanied the release of the original trilogy.

They're a bit cheesy, but it would be fun to own a few. Particularly the ones from Episodes IV, V and VI.

Read more about the glasses at Starwars.com

January 07, 2004

Wait a Minute . . .

They're making a movie of the play of the movie?

'Producers' Returning to the Big Screen

If they make a successful TV show based on the Producer, the cycle could begin all over again.

This Whole 80's Retro Thing is Getting Out of Hand

Joe Gibbs, Hall of Fame coach, has agreed to return and coach the Washington Redskins - the team he won 3 Super Bowls with between 1981 and 1992.

January 06, 2004

I Don't Want an iPod Anymore

I want an iPod mini . . .



It's only 3.6'' by 2.0'' and weighs 2.6 ounces. It only holds 4 GB of songs, as opposed to 15 GB to 40 GB for the regular iPods - but how much music do I need at a time? 4 GB translates to roughly 1,000 songs. A 1,000 songs. That's enough for me. And I'm all about small and portable when it comes to my electronics.

Take a look at all the info about the new iPod mini or take a look at the specs for iPod and iPod mini to see the difference between the two.

I Knew Those Damn Canadians Were Up To Something

Tests Confirm Mad Cow Came From Canada

Next Author to Check Out: Bill Bryson

Somebody had left their copy of The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America by Bil Bryson in the men's bathroom here - I didn't take it, but I did flip through it - the book had a interesting cover. I stumbled onto this quote:

"I will say this, however--and it's a strange, strange thing--the teenaged daughters of these fat women are always utterly delectable ... I don't know what it is that happens to them, but it must be awful to marry one of those nubile cuties knowing that there is a time bomb ticking away in her that will at some unknown date make her bloat out into something huge and grotesque, presumably all of a sudden and without much notice, like a self-inflating raft from which the pin has been yanked."

After reading this quote and checking up on the author via the web, Bryson has jumped onto my "To Read" list. Looks good.

Hello Winter

Winter finally arrived here in Chicago this week. We got about 4 to 5 inches of snow out at the house on Sunday, and on Monday the cold air started to roll in.



Ah. Winter in Chicago. I love it.

Ian and I had a great time in the snow Sunday evening after I finished shoveling. We had a big ole snowball fight and I was pulling him around in the sled until he flipped off and landed face-first in a 6-inch snow drfit. He was pretty cold after that and needed to go inside. He had a lot of fun though. After flipping into the snow, he jumped up and yelled, "I can't see! I can't see!" - snow had gotten trapped between his face and his glasses, obscuring his vision. He thought it was funny.

Emma didn't get to spend too much time in the snow. She can't seem to learn that she needs to keep her mittens on when she's outside. Instead, she geets trapped in the Catch-22 of I want to be outside and play in the snow with my mittens off, but when my mittens are off it's too cold for me to be outside and play in the snow. Maybe next year.

It never fails to baffle me - it's painfully clear that it is dangerously cold outside. 20 below wind chills are nasty. bitter cold. Yet I'll still see guys waiting for the train just wearing the same damn winter coat that they wear from October to March - no hat, no gloves, no scarf - nothing. They're standing there with red fingers, cheeks and ears - in obvious pain. It's not like these guys can't afford a har or gloves - they live in frickin' Naperville, IL and ride the train downtown to work some big corporate job in the city. I guess they're too frickin' manly to wear a sissy hat, or maybe they don't want to mess up their hair. My thought - comfort above all else. If it's cold, dress so I'm warm. If it's hot, dress so I'm cool. I don't care how I look. I prefer to keep my ears.

Another Good Monty

Read today's Monty.

Now I dare you to tell me that's not hysterical. Jim Meddick is creative and funny. I love that comic.

Escape from Neverland

Possibly in poor taste, but still funny as hell

Escape from Neverland game

January 05, 2004

My Little Nadia

Emma learned a new trick this weekend. How to drop down into a full split from a standing position.

OUCH!

I almost fell over when I saw it. This, coupled with her rubber bones and elastic joints, has earned her the nickname, My Little Nadia - coined by her father. Which is always delivered in my best Eastern European - Bela Karolyi voice.

How she does everything she does on those bowed legs continues to amaze me. She's pretty amazing.

I Have A Confession . . .

I was born and raised in Chicago - I've lived most of my life there. Since about age 11, I've been a Chicago Bears fan. (Before that I pulled for the Dallas Cowboys - America's Team - but come on, if you had to choose between Danny White, Tony Dorsett, and Too-Tall Jones and Bob Avellini, Ken Margerum, and Vince Evans where would you go?)

But so help me, I can't help but cheer for the Green Bay Packers. I just like Brett Favre too much. The guy is amazing and the Pack is a solid, well-coached football team with style and talent.

There, I said it. I'm a Bears fan who doesn't hate the Green Bay Packers, but actually likes to see the Pack win (except for when they're playing the Bears - of course).

Didn't get to watch all of yesterday's wild card game between Green Bay and Seattle, but got to see what counted: the fourth quarter and the overtime. Exciting game. I like Matt Hasselbeck too. Had him on my fantasy team this year and he performed really well. He's going to be a really good quarterback. He's just about a year away I think. Plus, you gotta love a guy who comes out to midfield at the opponent's stadium and announces through the the stadium P.A. system that his team want's the ball first and "we're gonna score." If I was a coach, I'd want my QB to have that kinda swagger - provided he had the talent to back it up. Favre is a quarterback like that, and so is Hasselbeck. Of course Hasselbeck made a costly mistake that lost his team the game - but really it was no different than something Favre would have down 8 - 10 years ago.

Didn't watch any of the other wildcard games, but was glad to see Tennesse and Indianapolis win. I'm not a Titans fan really, but love to see the Baltimore Ravens lose - they have an asshole for an owner, a raging ego-maniac for a coach, and guy who should be serving time in prison for murder at linebacker. Indy? I think Tony Dungy is nice guy who deserves to win, Mike Shanahan is another raging ego-maniac who chews up running backs and leaves them for dead on the sideline. Pretty simple really.

I'll be pulling for the Pack over Philly, Rams over Carolina, Titans over Pats, and the Chiefs over Indy. In most cases I think I'll be backing the winning team, with the exception of the Titans. The Pats are playing really well and are the team to beat in the AFC. They could be headed back the Super Bowl in a few weeks. The NFC is a toss up, I really think any of the four team could make it to the big game. I'll be pulling for Favre and the Pack though.

Aren't People Tired of This Shlock Yet?

Fox Hopes 'Fiancé' Delivers Big Fat Win

The show's premise is that the family the guy introduces his new fiance to isn't really his family - it's a bunch of actors. She wins big money if she stays the course and get married on television - but he groom-to-be's "family" makes it difficult for her and her family.

Holy crap, does that sound stupid.

Today's Monty

Read today's Monty. It's very funny.

January 02, 2004

The LIST

Never let it be said that this blog doesn't do its best to keep you, the reader, on the cutting edge of pop-culture: Hank Stuever's What's Out and In for 2004 List

My Little Look Back at 2003

Just like I did at the end of 2002, I looked back at the year and think about what's happened and how I've changed in the past 12 months.

2003 was an interesting year - to say the least.

It got off to a bad start with all four of us contracting the 24-hour flu on four consecutive days. Not so bad for Heather and I, but scary for a 4-month old baby. We got through it fairly well though, but it wasn't a nice start to the new year.

We vacationed in Florida in January and learned that having to sleep in the same room as your children could drive a parent insane.

A pleasant spring gave way to a fun summer. Heather and I celebrated our 8th anniversary in style at 302 West in downtown Geneva. Emma grew like a weed and started walking at 9 months old. She was also very quick to pick up baby signs and learn new ways to communicate with us.

Ian made the switch from baby boy to little boy when he started pre-school in September. It's been amazing to watch his development since starting school. Everything from his social skills, to his coloring, to his imagination has come to life. It's like we have a whole new son in our house. It makes we happy and proud to be Ian's father, and helps me realize how lucky I am to be blessed with a son like Ian.

We dropped a huge amount of coin repairing both the Neon and our van in 2003. Cheaper than buying new vehicles, but still seems like a waste.

In July we we're surprised to learn that Heather was pregnant again. Well, it wasn't a complete surprise - we knew going in what results of our actions could have on our situation. I guess we just figured that it wouldn't happen quite then. She hadn't stopped breastfeeding for more than a few weeks, we were facing north; the sign of Aquarius was descending, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Anyway - Heather's with child (a girl) and she's due March 13, 2004. Which threw my world into a tailspin for the fall. Would we buy a bigger house? Make due with what we had? If so, how do we fit a third child into our 3-bedroom palace? Oy! Plus, my responsibilities at work were increasing. I was traveling more and was being fingered to head up a major project to redesign the lead path process on our website - essentially the bread-and-butter of our whole operation.

But they say what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. So, if I'm writing a little year-end round up for 2004 in 12 months, I be as strong as fuckin' Hercules.

Then for a just a little more how-do-you-do, the doctors thought the baby might have some major birth defects. A series of ultra-sounds and some consultations later revealed that everything is fine. The baby, for as much as any medical technician can tell before birth, is healthy and normal. But there's nothing like getting wrung through that emotional twister for 2 months.

Through it all I kept updating the website and adding to my daily journal. I went through different cycles in the journal. A lot of entries to silly websites would be followed by angry critiques of the government or social standards, which would be replaced by reviews or ramblings on comics, books or movies. Every once and a while I'd throw in updates and info on what was going on with the Family McKillip.

Oh, almost forgot - Star Wars: Clone Wars Fantastic! I am so a Stars Wars nerd it's not funny. Ian and I watched it every night. I watched them multiple times on the website. Can't wait for the second part in the spring of '04.

Where have I come in 2003?

Watched the Cubs loose the pennant, but provide a lot of exciting baseball.
Got to meet Jim Lee, one of my favorite comic book creators.
Increased my responsibilities and stress levels, but found new ways to relax.
Grew to love Heather, Ian and Emma even more.

What's in store for 2004?

Anxious for the arrival of the third little McKillip.
Scared for how I can keep it all together after she arrives.
Looking forward to the Cubs in the spring and a Rex Grossman lead Bears team in the fall.
Enjoying watching Ian and Emma grow-up into intelligent, beautiful children.

As sad as this may sound, one of the things that helped me to relax over the last two years has been the train rides to and from work each day. I've learned how to maximize its effects and really use it to keep a balance between work and home. One of the benefits of the 90 minutes I spend on the train daily is that it provides me with plenty of time to read. I love reading books, and because of my daily train ride I have enjoyed an explosion of new books and comics over the past few years.

In 2003 I got to read:
The Black Dahlia, James Ellroy
Selected Stories of Philip K Dick, Philip K. Dick
Creature Tech, Doug TenNapel
Human Target: Final Cut, Peter Milligan
Odd Job: The Collected Stories, Tyson Smith
The Power of Shazam!, Jerry Ordway
McSweeny's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales, Michael Chabon, ed.
The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen
Fables: Legends in Exile, Bill Willingham
Children of God, Mary Doria Russell
Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes, Neil Gaiman
The Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkien
The Annotated Mantooth, Matt Fraction
Pistolwhip: The Yellow Menace, Jason Hall
Benjamin Franklin, Edmund S. Morgan
The Interman, Jeff Parker
Crisis on Infinite Earths, Marv Wolfman
Killing Monsters, Gerald Jones
Green Lantern: The Power of Ion, Judd Winick
JSA: Fair Play, Geoff Johns
Sky Ape: All the Heroes, Phil Amara

Of course I'm a complete nerd and keep a database of everything I read throughout the year, including a summary of the plot, page count, my comments on the book, and a rating (I use a 5 star system).

Nobody got a full 5 stars (unlike in 2002 when a select few did) but a few did get 4.5. The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy, Selected Stories of Philip K Dick by Philip K. Dick, Creature Tech by Doug TenNapel, Human Target: Final Cut by Peter Milligan and Javier Pulido, and Odd Job: The Collected Stories by Tyson and Ian Smith all took those honors.

All different works - some comics and some novels, some sci-fi and some crime - but all very good works. Worth your time I you want some quality reading entertainment. In fact, most of what I got to read in 2003 was pretty good. I'd recommend most of it.

What would I tell you to avoid like the plague from my list? JSA: Fair Play and Sky Ape. JSA is a messy, continuity-heavy superhero soap opera. Not worth your time unless you've read ever comic that came before Fair Play. Sky Ape is just a bad, totally un-funny comic.

2004 is already looking to be a good year for books. I'm in the middle of Cold Mountain by Charles Fazier, and received Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem; The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson; Whiteout: Melt, Smoker, and Keeper all by Greg Rucka; 300 by Frank Miller; and Fortune and Glory by Brian Bendis. Plus I've got $25 to spend at Amazon.com and have my eye on 3 more books I plan to pick up.

Besides the books and novels, I also discovered some great new comic books as well in 2003. Bear by Jamie Stewart, The Losers by Andy Diggle and Jock, and Superman / Batman by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness have all been welcome additions to my monthly pull list. Combined with greats like Batman, Trinity, and Gotham Central, these books have made going to the comic shop a lot of fun in 2003.

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Gonna add a new baby to our family. Gonna stay in the same house. Gonna increase my workload at the office. Ian turns 5 and Emma enters the terrible 2s. 90 minutes on the train to make the mental switch from home to work (or vice versa).

Yep, 2004 is gonna be quite a ride.



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Whew! It's hard to try and organize one of these things. I kept re-editing as I remembered more and more that happend during the past 12 months. I think I've covered everything I wanted to, but I don't think I'll ever be completely happy with how this turned out. Next year I should plan a little better.

We're Number 1! We're Number 1

Chicago Topped Nation in 2003 Homicides

Chicago had 599 homicides in 2003
New York, with 3 times the population, had 596

I guess we're just over-achievers.

What The Hell Does This Mean?

The Guy Is Just Unstable

Irwin Takes Baby to Crocodile Feeding

Crocodile hunter Steve Irwin took his month-old son to his first croc feeding on Friday, offering the reptile a chicken with one hand and holding the baby in the other.

Not the actions of a sane man - in my opinoin.