March 31, 2004

Mace Windu Kicks Ass

SW:CW Episode 13 imageEpisodes 12 and 13 of the animated Star Wars: Clone Wars showcased Mace Windu taking on an entire droid army - plus a monsterous seismic tank. Until this point, my favorite episode had been the one from the first season that had Kit Fisto battling underwater on the planet of Mon Calamari. It was big fun. Lots of Star Wars action - lightsabers twirling and droids dropping - all with a smirk and some attitude from the hero.

Ep. 12 & 13 has now taken the top spot. Watching Mace pick apart the droid army - first with the aid of his lightsaber, then in hand-to-hand combat - was a blast. The animation was thrilling. The action intense. Mace standing in all cool, deflecting blasts and ripping apart robots with his bare hands. I want to watch those two episodes over and over. They are just so much fun to watch.

If you've got the bandwidth, you can check them out yourself:

Watch Clone Wars Episode 12

Watch Clone Wars Episode 13

Dave Sim - Brilliant Comic Creator & Crazy Person

In 1977, Dave Sim launched his self-published comic Cerebus. It started an aardvark of the same name. Shortly after the series started, Sim indicated that he planned to publish exactly 300 issues of Cerebus, with the final issue depicting the death of the title character. In March of 2004 Cerebus #300 came out, thus ending Sim's 26 years of self-publishing this comic.

Sim's is considered a comic book pioneer for many reasons. His dedication to self-publishing his own comic and his innovative work in lettering and page layout. However, over the course of the 26 years, a decidedly controversial David Sims developed (most notably after his divorce). Much of his writing became overtly more political in nature as he began attacking the institutions and beliefs he believed to be destroying society. Most notably have been his attacks on feminism and the "Leftists"

Personally I know very little about the guy besides what I've mentioned above. I haven't read a single page of Cerebus. Not that I don't want to, just haven't had the opportunity to. If the opportunity presents itself, I would like to some day. Just to see what his work is like.

Anyway, the Onion's AV Club has posted an interview with Dave Sims that's both interesting and frustrating to read. Read through it you can see why he has become the controversial person he is.


Warner Brothers has already posted some pictures of the Batmobile to be used in the upcoming Batman Begins movie. I think they did this because there were some obviously fake photos of a batmobile circulating about the 'net, and eventhough nobody was really taking them seriously, WB wanted to make sure Batman fandom wasn't completely freaking out about the most important Batman accessory.

You can take a look at the pictures here. The photos are kinda dark and hard to make out, but one thing is definitely clear: this is a whole new Batmobile. It has shades of the Batmobile from Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns that was more urban-assault tank than supped-up street machine. Clearly, Batman Begins is going to be unlike any of the previous Batman films in the franchise.

Someone's Unpacking the Winter Coats in Hell

Sports Illustrated has picked the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series:

I don't know if I should be excited or cautiously optimistic. The fact that SI has proudly proclaimed that the Cubs to win it all in '04 on their cover could very well spell disaster for the Cubs. SI cover curse and all. However, the Cubs have put together the pitching staff and the roster to seriously contend for the championship, so I have to say, "Why not?" Maybe the Cubs will be the last team standing in October.

This Should Go Over Like a Lead Balloon

Notre DameLets see how Notre Dame is going to distance themselves from this one without alienating one of their golden boys of football.

Paul Hornung, ND football great and 1956 Heisman Trophy winner, said in a radio interview Tuesday: "We (Notre Dame) can't stay as strict as we are as far as the academic structure is concerned because we've got to get the black athlete," Hornung said in the interview. "We must get the black athlete if we're going to compete."

Needless to say, Hornung is white.

Now others have suggested that ND needs to relax its academic standards in order to attract better athletes, but ND has never given in. However, no one has ever suggested that ND needs the "black athlete" in order to compete with teams like Michigan, Miami, or Florida State in football and that lowerly its academic standards would allow the school to bring in those "black athletes."

Let's see if this all falls back on Hornung (as it should) or whether ND gets pulled into the circus that is surely to come.

The Peeps Are Coming! The Peeps Are Coming!


March 30, 2004

Animated Batman and Superman DVD Collections Coming

Now this is what I was talking about: WB will be released DVD boxed sets of Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, and Challenge of the Superfriends this summer. Read more

I don't feel the need for the Superfriends set, but I would very much like to own the Batman and Superman sets. Those two animated series are just wonder pieces of art. I can watch episodes from those two series over and over.

Batman Begins

That's the name of the next Batman film, which has started shooting in England. Warner Brothers already has a website up, but it's only one page and is simply the new logo.

Unlike the previous Bat-films which were shot almost exclusively inside sound stages, director Christopher Nolan is taking the filming outside and shooting Batman Begins at actual locations. In particular, Nolan is planning on using Chicago as a stand-in for Gotham City and will be bringing the crew and some of the cast to the Windy City for 6 weeks starting this July. For a geeky little Batman fanboy like myself, this is too good to be true. You know I'm gonna make every effort to find out where the filming is taking place so I can hopefully catch a peek.

Superman and Jerry - Together Again

American Express has procduced another commercial starring Jerry Seinfeld and Superman. Unlike the original commerical that ran only about 6 seconds, this is a 3 to 4 minute short film where Jerry and The Man of Steel catch lunch, talk about reality TV, try to hook up a DVD player, and catch a thief. It's pretty funny. A second one is on the way.

Watch Uniform

From the No Shit Sherlock File

Children Sleeping Less Than Recommended

Big survey done to tell us that children aren't getting enough sleep and their parents are not happy with it. I could have told you that. What's missing from the report is what can be done to help correct this behavior.

I'll be checking out the National Sleep Foundation website on Thursday. According to thier schedule, they will be providing sleep tips for kids then. I'll do about anything to help Ian and Emma get more sleep.

Be the Ball, Danny

Did I ever mention I ride the train in the morning with a guy who looks just like Michael O'Keefe, a.k.a. Danny Noonan from Caddyshack?

Well, I do.

March 29, 2004

Google Fun

Having fun with Google while I eat my lunch today.

Search term: "mckillip" reveals some interesting things (at least to someone with the last name McKillip, like me)

There's a McKillip Equipment Inc. in Northern Indiana. They sell John Deere equipment. The guys who own and operate McKillip Equipment also work for McKillip Seeds. Check out a picture of four generations of McKillip seed men.

There's also a McKillip Animal Hospital right here on the northside of Chicago. However, there isn't a single McKillip listed on staff as a vet and in their About Us they don't mention where the name came from. Peculiar.

Matt McKillip is the mayor of Kokomo, Indiana - the City of Firsts. Some of the notable "firsts" to occur in Kokomo include, the first road-tested car, the first carburetor, the first aerial bomb with fins, and the first canned tomato juice. Mayor McKillip looks like a respectable, standup guy.

There's an actress named Britt McKillip who seems to have a lot more information on the web about her than her sister Carly McKillip and their father Tom McKillip.

There's an artist named Terrance McKillip. His pieces of art are "illustrations of spiritual ideas connected to cleansing, healing, and inner transformation." Riiiight.

And of course there are just a shit load of websites dealing with Patricia McKillip, a fantasy writer of some note. I read one of her collections back in high school and found it interesting enough.

But my favorite find was about Leo McKillip. Read about how he turned around the Dana College football team in Blair, Neb and ended up in the Hall of Fame.

March 26, 2004

Searching for Dyson Spheres

Read about this on a friend's blog, it's a article about Searching for Dyson Spheres

It's pretty wild stuff. The search for giant artificial spheres built by more advanced beings used to enclose and harness the energy of a sun.

Today's The Day

Season Two of Star Wars: Clone Wars on Cartoon Network start tonight.

clone wars

To help you plan your viewing, I've included a snapshot of tonight's Cartoon Network TV schedule.

All times are Central.

The first 10 episodes (almost) back to back, then the first new episode. This is gonna be so great.

This Is So Great

WXRT - my all-time favorite radio station, is now broadcasting live on the web. This is great. I've never been able to listen to them at work - all the tall buildings downtown make some stations difficult to get in. Now I'll be able to tune in while at work. What's doubely good about this is that in the last month or so WXRT's programming has gotten a lot better. When I came back to Chicago in 2000, XRT mix of music was bad. They weren't doing a very good job of balancing old with the new to showcase the finest rock. In fact, they were starting to sound a little too much like a classic rock station. It made them hard to listen to sometimes and I was worried I wasn't going to have a great go-to station for music.

However, they seem to have found a great balance now. The Who, Nora Jones, Kate Bush, Squeeze, Muddy Waters, Weezer, Rolling Stones - XRT is blending them all together for a great listening experience. I am so back being a huge fan of XRT.

Take a listen.

March 25, 2004

1 More Day . . .

Season Two of Star Wars: Clone Wars on Cartoon Network.

clone wars

Insult to Injury

Richard Simmons Cited for Slapping Man

Not only are you slapped in public - you're slapped by Richard Simmons. This guy is never being invited to another poker night with the guys for the rest of his life.

March 24, 2004

2 More Days

Season Two of Star Wars: Clone Wars on Cartoon Network.

clone wars

The Green Lantern Figure Was Cool

Entertaining article about one guy's obsession with the Super Powers action figures

The Most Cliched Cliche

Basically, at the end of the day the fact of the matter is that this cliche is literally on a daily basis used more than any other. I think that the bottom line is that on an ongoing basis we need to push the envelope and think out side the box in order to address the issue of cliche over use.

Yahoo! News - 'At the End of the Day' Tops Cliche List

Everyone Wants a Piece of the Pie

Monty Python team is planning a Stateside re-release of its comedy "Life of Brian." in response to the buzz Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" has generated.

March 23, 2004

Today's Moment of Zen

Former Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson, D-Culver City, kicks Zhang Xiao Ju betweent the legs during a demonstration performed by Buddhist monks at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, March 22, 2004. In their first visit to the United States, a group of Shaolin martial artists from SongShan, China demonstrated acrobatic flips and shows of strength among other things. With the monks urging him on, Wesson made several kicks to the monk who showed no emotion. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

3 More Days . . .

Season Two of Star Wars: Clone Wars on Cartoon Network.

clone wars

Don't Get Me Started

Report Says Medicare to Go Broke by 2019

Medicare bankrupt in 2019 - I'll be 47 years old

Social Security bankrupt in 2042 - I'll be 70 years old.

I'm so glad I get to pay those fucking payroll taxes every month. It's like insurance for my old age. Lord knows I'm too fucking stupid to save for my own retirement. It's good to see the Federal government is looking out for me.

Lifting the Shroud

Lifting the Shroud

I had read about Clarke and his attempts to get the Bush administration to pay attention to counter-terrorism efforts pre- 9/11 well before his book came out. The more I read the more I grow to hate the current White House inhabitants.

Star Wars Original Trilogy DVD Update

Lucasfilm has released what the packaging will look like:

Star Wars Trilogy DVD Packaging

This Is For You - You Know Who You Are

Colonoscopy Parties Remove Fear Factor

Very funny, but serious too. It's nice to see someone trying to take the fear and anxiety out a medical procedure that can be so beneficial.

Good Morning!

Stick it to 'em before they stick it to you. That's what I always say.

March 22, 2004

4 More Days . . .

Season Two of Star Wars: Clone Wars on Cartoon Network.

clone wars

This Is Encouraging

Almost a month ago it was announced that Robert Rodriguez (Once Upon a Time In Mexico, Spy Kids) was going to be adapting Frank Miller's Sin City comics into a movie. Back then I talked about how I was tempering any excitement concerning the project because I enjoyed the comics so much. I argued that the reason that the books worked so well was how Miller had complete control over the words and images and how they worked together as a comic book. It's difficult to re-create that experience in a new medium.

Rodriguez talked about how he was going to have Miller involved in all aspects of the movie to help achieve that distinct Miller feel for the Sin City movie. I thought it was mostly lip service, until I read this:
Rodriguez resigned his Directors Guild of America membership so that he could co-direct with Frank Miller The DGA states that a film can only have one director at a time. They don't acknowledge "co-directors."

That's more than lip service my friend. That shows me, at least, that Rodriguez is serious about having Miller's input in this project. Maybe this movie will be true to the spirit of the Sin City books. Nothing's for certain, obviously, but this news does give one hope.

Fun Comics Coming

A month ago the comics industry lost one its greatest champions, Julius Schwartz, when he passed away at the age of 88. Schwartz worked for DC Comics for almost 60 years and is credited with single-handedly ushering in the "Silver Age" of comics in the late 1950's. Many consider his work at DC during this time saved the comic industry, which was struggling to compete against the increasing popularity of television and fight off the recent attacks against comic books by Dr. Wertham and his book "Seduction of the Innocent."

To honor Schwartz, DC Comics will publish eight new tribute specials dedicated to the man, and one of his best-known editorial trademarks, the cover-driven story. Each issue will contain two 11-page stories that will be derived from classic Silver Age comic book covers. This tribute had originally been conceived to celebrate Schwartz's 60 years in comics, but now it will serve as a fitting send off to a great man.

The Silver Age covers are those cheesy, over the top, craziness that most people think about when they envision a comic book cover. The Flash begging the reader to buy his comic in order to prevent some un-named tragedy from occurring. Batman sitting in a chair with his feet up, sipping a cola while he watches the campy "Batman" TV show. Back in the day, that is how many comics were created. A cover image was developed and the writer and artist worked from that. Those days are long gone now.

The talent DC has lined up for this project is top-notch and should provide for some wild stories. Each writer/artist team will be asked to come up with a new story - based on the cover alone. It should be a lot of fun. I plan to pick a number of them up.

This Might Be Harder Than I Expected

I calculated at one point early Sunday morning that I had been awake for 21 straight hours (if you exclude the 10 minutes I fell asleep in the chair 'round 3pm). And that was 21 hours operating on roughly 5 hours of sleep. Between Zoe's being up late or getting up in the middle of the night and Emma's sudden sickness, I was walking around holding my daughters a lot this weekend. Miraculously, Heather found a way to let me sleep from 3am until 10am Sunday morning in an attempt to undue much of that sleep damage. Then the sick kids co-operated Sunday night and I got to sleep straight from 10:30pm until the alarm went off at 5:10am this morning.

But that was only one night, and both and Ian and Emma were hacking like asthmatic, chain-smoker, coal-miners this morning. Who knows what tonight will bring. Juggling three is quite a challenge right now. I don't know how Heather does it.

March 19, 2004

One Week

One week ago today Zoe was born. It's been a pretty good week. Zoe is being a pretty good baby. She's spitting up a little more than we're comfortable with, but our pediatrician isn't concerned yet. Still, it has Heather and I concerned. We're both anxious for Zoe to outgrow this habit.

Ian seems to adapted without much problem to the addition of another sister. Maybe it's because he's done this before. Maybe it's because he's older. Don't know, but he seems to be taking things pretty much in stride. The one hiccup is that he seems to have development a mysterious itchy rash that comes and goes on his body. For awhile Thursday night Heather thought we were dealing with Chicken Pox, but Ian was all clear this morning. However, shortly after running around playing this morning, the rash was back. It's very strange. We'll have to watch him closely and see if a pattern develops.

Emma's having the toughest time adjusting. While she absolutely loves the new baby (she always wants to know where Zoe is and asks repeatedly to hold her), she quickly becomes frustrated when she sees how much of Heather's time is taken up by the new baby. What makes things even more difficult for Emma is when Heather does have time for Emma, she can't carry her around like Emma would like. Heather isn't healed up enough to start holding Emma. But this will pass. Heather will heal and Emma will learn how to co-exist with her new sister.

The sleep situation has gone about as well as can be expected. We've had some good nights and some bad, for the most part things haven't been too bad. I have the benefit of two 35 minute train rides each day - so I can grab a couple of 20 to 30 minute naps if I need them. It know it helps me help Heather when I'm home a night.

Heather's mom will be here for a few more days. She's been a big help. I'm not sure how we could have done things without having her here to make dinner, herd the kids, or run small errands for us. She's a life saver. The real work for us will start when she goes home sometime next week.

In the meantime we will keep moving forward and I'll keep drinking lots of Coke. One of the things being a father has taught me is that time changes/fixes everything. If the situation seems horrible right now or the kids aren't sleeping like you know they should be, give it some time - eventually things work themselves out.

March 18, 2004

Comics, Comics, Comics

Despite living in a house turned upside down by the arrival of a new baby, I have been able to read some comics. I'm still behind in my reading, but I'm slowly making my way through the pile of books. Some of the stuff I've read over the last two weeks include:

Superman/Batman #7 by Jeph Loeb and Pat Lee. It's a single-issue story that actually features Superboy and Robin, not Superman and Batman. The issue left me rather cold, and I'm placing all the blame on the art. I loved the first arc in the series by Loeb and artist Ed McGuiness. Pat Lee's art was horrible. Lee is a Japanese artist who's made a name for himself illustrating comics with big old robots and the sort - classic Anime stuff. His art does have that "Ghost in the Shell" look to it. All dark, smokey, and moody. However, his style might work for huge battling robots, but in this book it is completely ineffective at storytelling. I had the hardest time figuring out what was happening on any given page. If it wasn't for the dialogue I don't know if I ever could have figured out the story. Because I've never had this experience reading a Loeb penned story before, I'm placing the blame on the horrible storytelling experience at the feet of Lee. He got a good script - I can see it hidden inside the murky artwork. Lee simply couldn't tell or support the story visually. Luckily Lee was only on for the one issue. Michael Turner comes on for the next story arc. I'm looking forward to that.

Batman #624 by Azzarello and Risso. It's part five of their Broken City story. This story has been awesome. I haven't always been able to decipher the plot, but the comics have always entertained. #624 focused the story for me after drifting in the previous two issues and I'm now looking forward to an explosion conclusion next month. Risso's artwork is fantastic. Easily the best Batman book on the shelves today.

Light Brigade #1 of 4 by Peter Tomasi and Peter Snejbjerg. A group of American soldiers in WWII get drafted to help an angel get back God's sword, which has fallen to Earth and is being pursued by an army of dark angels. Great first issue. I'd seen Snejbjerg's art before and wasn't too impressed, but in Light Brigrade it looks very good. I particularly love his designs for the angels. Tomasi's script is very good as well. He does a great job of quickly introducing and establishing the different men in this special brigade and creating a "Saving Private Ryan / Band of Brothers" feel to the work. If you're looking for something a little different from your comics: no spandex wearing superheroes but nothing too alternative, than Light Brigade is a good choice. A solid action/drama story professional told.

Bear #4 by Jamie Smart. Oh my god. What can I say that I haven't said before? More sick, twisted humor. This quarterly comic never fails to surprise or shock me with its humor. Great art. Great writing. It's laugh out loud funny if your sense of humor tends towards the warp and sick. "I Kick You Ass!" I love this comic.

Detective Comics #792 by Gabrych and Woods. What a disappointment. A couple of months ago I lamented this team's first issue of 'Tec. I complained that their story was generic and bland - nowhere close to being a unique Batman story, but hoped that they might deliver on longer stories. Such was not the case. We're in the middle of a three-part story and I'm not at all interested in seeing how it ends. You couple this with DC's decision to raise the price of this book to $2.95 and it's now a foregone conclusion that I'm dropping the title - even though I've been buying 'Tec for 13 years straight now. 'Tec no longer delivers the entertainment for the price. Other comics already priced at $2.95, The Losers or Bear, I love issue in and issue out. I feel like I'm getting my entertainment value for my $2.95. With a tight budget and shrinking free time to read and enjoy comics, 'Tec is going to get the axe. I'll be down to only one Batman title (Superman/Batman doesn't count, it's like JLA-lite), something that has never happened in all my years of buying and reading comics.

Amazing Adventures of the Escapist #1 by a list of various writers and artists. This is a new comic from Dark Horse staring the Escapist, the superhero Michael Chabon created as part of his 2001 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier & Clay. A bunch of big names like Eric Wright, Jim Starlin, Kyle Baker, Howard Chaykin, and Steve Lieber all lend there talents to stories penned by Kevin McCarthy. The whole comic spins on the premise that the Escapist was a real comic published. Each story is supposedly plucked from the archives of different incarnations of the Escapist, and re-published here for our enjoyment. The stories are a lot of fun and the artwork is great. A fun over-sized comic of pop entertainment; but one that I think would only appeal to readers who really enjoyed Chabon's original novel.

Fables: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham collects the second story arc in this series. I absolutely loved the first Fables trade, Legends in Exile, and was hoping that the second one would be as enjoyable. I was very glad to see the streak continue. The writing is fresh and the story surprises without feeling forced. Buckingham's art is wonderful. The concept Willingham is hanging the series on is just too much fun: the characters from the old fables and myths have been exiled to the real world to live among the Mundies in New York City. Animal Farm deals with the non-human fables who have been living on a hidden farm in upstate New York. Lead by the Three Little Pigs and Goldilocks, the animals plan to stage a revolt against the human fables and then move on to take back the Homelands. Snow White, the administrator of the human fables, stumbles upon the plot when she and her sister, Rose Red, go up for a regular visit to check on the farm. A real exciting story that, when taken together with Legends in Exile, also finishes introducing readers to the structure of entire Fables universe.

I'm planning on picking up subsequent trades as they come out. The third book is slated for May I think. I'm not going to switch and start reading the book monthly; I'd rather wait and pick up the collected story arcs. It's nice to have a complete story some times.

I can't recommend Fables enough. Fresh ideas. Solid writing. Beautiful artwork. They all blend together to create original and enjoyable entertainment. Willingham can't crank out more Fables stories fast enough - in my opinion.

What the Hell?

The last few years I've always kept up with the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament by using Yahoo! game channel at my desk. It was a small window that displayed constant updates (scores, timeouts, fouls, etc.) for the games being played. If a game was getting close, I'd run to the cafeteria and catch the final minutes of the game on TV.

Looks like Yahoo! has dropped this free game update feature. They still have the game channel for baseball games, so I'll get to follow the Cubs this summer while I'm at my desk, but if I want any kinda of real-time update for NCAA games than I have to pay. ESPN makes you pay for real-time game updates also. Not cool.

CBS Sportsline has an interactive scoreborad similar to what Yahoo used to have, except it's a big ole page. Not nice and small like Yahoo's used to be. It'll do, but it's just not as nice.

This sucks.

This Is Disturbing

Tenn. County Wants to Charge Homosexuals

According to the article, "The county is asking lawmakers to amend state law so the county can charge homosexuals with crimes against nature." The county is also trying to figure out if they can ban homosexuals from living in the county.

Boogles the mind that people actually think like this.

March 17, 2004

Writers Crossing Over

The New York Times has an article today about how prose novel writers are crossing over to write for comics: Mild-Mannered Literary Guys Transform Into Comics Writers

They talk specifically to Michael Chabon, writer of 2001 Pulitzer Prize winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, and Greg Rucka, a personal favorite writer of mine.

I particularly liked what Mr. Chabon had to say. "Comic books have always been border straddling, even, fundamentally, between words and pictures. There's something stimulating about hanging out at the borders there."

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Have a happy . . .

And lift a pint . . .

March 16, 2004

As If There Was Any Question

The Batmobile was recently voted the ultimate movie vehicle as part of a UCI poll. James Bond's Astin Martin came in second.

Like they even needed to take this poll. The Batmobile is the ultimate monster car. It exudes strength and power and is always immediately identifiable. Everybody wants to drive the Batmobile. In fact, I have a picture of Heather "driving" the 1966 Batmobile that was used in the Batman television show starring Adam West. Good stuff.

The Batmobile

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth

My little sister Elizabeth turns, um . . . , hold on, let me get out the calculator - 25-years old today. She's getting ready to graduate law school and just got engaged. Can't get much more grown-up than that. Of course, she will always be the little girl with the banshee shriek pleading for me to not flush her Care Bear down the toliet. Ah, those were the days.

Happy birthday Elizabeth.

Weak on Terror

I think I agree with Mr. Krugman's column. I'm not going to sum it up - you go read it. Takes about 5 minutes.

Op-Ed Columnist: Weak on Terror

Slap a Mime

I think I could do this all day: Slap a Mime

March 15, 2004

Pictures of Zoe

Have been added to Photos section of the site. Check 'em out.

Following Up On a Previous Story

Nun Faces Jail for Drunk Tractor Driving

She was 17 times over the country's legal alcohol limit for driving.

Happy Birthday Kevin

My little brother Kevin turned 30 yesterday. Defying all reason and logic, my father, mother, and sister managed to plan and execute a surprise party for the boy. (They graciously left me out of the planning considering Heather's due date).

The party looked to be a great success, and I think Kevin was unaware right up to the moment when he could see through the window my Dad giving everyone in the house the thumbs-up sign. Oh well, almost made it.

30's really not a big deal anymore. In fact I was talking to someone at the party that 40 is the new 30. It used to be people would judge how well they were doing in life by how far they had made it by 30, now that date has pushed out to 40. It's true too. By no stretch do I feel, or should Kevin, that it's all downhill after 30. In fact, I feel like I'm just getting started.

March 11, 2004

Welcome, Zoe Josephine

Heather did it. At 8:40am March 11, 2004, Heather gave birth to another beautiful baby. Zoe Josephine McKillip was 8 pounds 12 ounces when she was born (breaking the previous Brendan/Heather offspring record of 8.11, held by Emma), and 20 3/4 inches long.

Heather's water broke at 11:30 pm, March 10, and we went immediately to the hospital. It was a long wait in the delivery room. Luckily we were both able to sleep a bit (me more than Heather). When Heather seemed to have stalled at 7 centimeters, the doctors decided to pull out the ptocin. That kicked things into high gear and within an hour and ten minutes little Zoe was born.

Both Mom and baby are doing wonderfully. According to Heather, it was the best labor and delivery yet. I say, lets go out on top. Three is a nice number, when it comes to children.

I promised Heather I wouldn't stay up late. I've been ill and have gotten little sleep over the last two days. But still, I had to get online and shout about the birth of my new daughter. I love her already.

I've already snapped a few shots, but haven't had time to prepare them for the site. I did however take the time to upload this little ditty. Snapped roughly 30 minutes after birth. It's (left to right) Dr. Tom, Zoe, Heather, and myself. Tired but happy.

March 09, 2004

I Want a Treo 600

About a year and a half after I got my Visor PDA, Handspring launched the Treo. It was one of the first so-called SmartPhones that incorporated a PDA with a cell phone. Hanspring has since been bought by Palm and the new joined company calls themselves PalmOne.

I've always thought the Treos were a neat idea, but never saw a great need for one. My Visor provided me with everything I really needed: contact info, calendar, and small database apps. However, with the slick new design and pumped up features of the Treo 600 plus my growing work load and demanding personal life, the idea of getting one of these little guys is becoming more appealing. Phone, email, web browse, contact info, calendar - it's all there. To be able to keep in touch with my business email, even view attachments, would go a long way towards helping me stay on top of things at work and at home.

Unfortunately, the Treo 600 runs for $500. Not really in the budget right now. I expect the price will come down because the Treo 600 just hit the market not too long ago. I just get frustrated with having early adopted tastes but not the early adopter wallet to go along with it.

March 08, 2004

Spalding Gray Dead at 62

Spalding Gray's Body Found in East River

I've been following this story the last few weeks. Gray just walked out of his house about two months ago and hadn't been heard of since. He had attempted suicide before, but his family was holding on to the hope that his depression lead him to just drop out of life for a while - not take his life. Unfortunately such was not the case. The medical examiner hasn't officially ruled on the cause of death, but considering the circumstances and Gray mental health history, I'm fairly certain the results will be suicide.

I've always enjoyed Gray's work. He had a relaxed, familiar aura to him that made watching him perform so pleasurable. He will be missed.

Al Franken Bored Me For Two Weeks

For Christmas I received a copy of Al Franken's latest book, Lies And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. The book, according to his foreword, was written "in the spirit of dispassionate inquiry." Whether he was kidding about this or not is hard to tell, because over the course of the next 350-odd pages he manages to rise to a level of "dispassionate inquiry" when he reviewing claims and comments made by members of the right-wing media - but he invariably descends into name calling and partisan attacks. He may not be lying, but he is attacking those on the right as viciously as the right attacks the left. It becomes rather tedious and makes me question why he wrote this book.

Franken's book almost became an historic book for me. I've never stopped reading a book because I didn't like or tired of what I was reading. I've always finished every book I've started (the same cannot be said of movies or television). Franken's book is about 100 pages too long, simply rehashing the same points over and over. (Yes, Al Coulter is insane. Yes, Bill O'Reilly is nothing better than a grown-up bully. Yes, Sean Hannity is a dumb bastard). Much of Franken's satire is so mean spirited I failed to be able to see it as satire. It gets to be that you think he wrote this book just so he could personally attack people like Coulter, Hannity and O'Reilly. That and defend his friend, the late Paul Wellstone, which Franken spends a considerable amount of time doing. I actually skipped the second half of that chapter (about 10 pages) when Franken thought it was important to reprint a speech concerning Wellstone's character. This after spending a consider amount of pages explaining and defending all the events surrounding the much reported Wellstone memorial. You could tell that Franken had taken the claims that Wellstone's memorial was used as a political rally personally and was going to use his book to tell his own view of events.

On the plus side, the book is funny most of the time. I enjoyed the sarcastic approach he took in debunking the myths and lies perpetuated by O'Reilly, Hannity, and other in the right-wing media outlets. Plus, Franken is a funny man and can tell a funny story. However, the repeated attacks on the same people, over the same items, start to wear you down. I like seeing these lies exposed, but this books drags on much too long - and becomes much too personal - in its pursuit of doing so. Joking or not, I wish Franken has tried a little hard to achieve " the spirit of dispassionate inquiry" he talked about at the beginning of the book.

March 05, 2004

They've Found Their James Gordon

Gary Oldman will join the cast of Warner Bros. Pictures' Batman Begins, starring Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman.

Oldman will play Lt. James Gordon, a detective on the Gotham police force. Also in the cast are Michael Caine as Wayne's trusted butler, Alfred; Katie Holmes as a childhood friend of Wayne's; Liam Neeson as Wayne's mentor; and Morgan Freeman as a former board member and sidelined employee of Wayne Enterprises. The movie has begun production in Iceland.

My first reaction was, "Oldman? He's not old enough to be Commissioner Gordon." But then I remember that Batman Begins is set when Batman is just starting out. Gordon isn't Commissioner yet; he's still a Lieutenant detective. In which case it makes sense.

I'm really starting to look forward to this new Batman movie. They seem to have quality everywhere. Director, writers, actors. Hopefully all these pluses add up to a good movie.

My Sister's Getting Married

Well here's something that will make you feel older. My baby sister just got engaged. Last night her boyfriend, Patrick, asked her to marry him.

I've got a feeling it's true love. They two of them have been dating since 1995 or 1996. During that time she's graduated from high school, attended two different undergraduate universities, and made nearly completed law school (she'll graduate this spring). If they've stuck together this long, then you know there's something there.

Well, that or Patrick is antsy to get the four goats and two bags of gold pieces my dad has offered to the first man to ask for his daughter's hand in marriage. Being a middle-aged, Bolivian goat herder, that kind of dowry is pretty tempting to someone like Patrick. Don't let the Irish sounding name fool you - the guy's straight of the mountians of Bolivia. When he visits at Christmas he never sits on any of the furniture and insists on getting the meat for the meal fresh. If you know what I mean. Should make for an interesting wedding.

Congratulations Elizabeth and Patrick.

Oh, Give It Up Already

Jackson Says Halftime Show Was Accident

My Cadillac

I've decided that I want a good old fashioned American luxury car. No more dreams of a BMW or Porche for me. Then next car after my Neon is gonna be a Cadillac. The new Cadillacs out on the market look unbelievably mean and powerful. When I think of picking a car that reflects how I see myself, I keep coming back to Cadillacs. I'm leaning towards the CTS.

Pretty slick looking, huh? I can get one for around $33,200. I'm sure Heather wouldn't mind.

Of course, if I really got to choose my Cadillac, I'd pick the 2003 concept car: Cadillac Sixteen

That is one awesome looking automobile. Unfortunately, there currently are no plans to put a car like that into production. So I'll have to make do with the CTS. Oh well.

PVP Celebrates Lord of the Rings Win

I missed this PVP celebrating the Oscar win by The Lord of Rings. Very funny. My favorite line is the first one, "Comic shops and Radio Shacks across the country breathed a collective sigh of relief tonight . . ."

click the image for larger version

This Is Kinda Spooky

Philips' New Camera Lens Works Like Human Eye

At Least Now I Know Someone Is Reading This

Apparently the comment posted here a few days ago about my mother's house being a graveyard for technology has angered the blue-haired crowd. This tersely worded email arrived in my inbox this morning:

Dear Sir and Staff-----I am addressing you on behalf of myself and my consulting telecommunication staff to protest the slurrious comment in a recent journal directed at the quality of our technical know-how. you characterized us as an " electronic graveyard " when in fact there has not been a single fatality occurring in our institution since we cyberlanded. as a matter of fact we were instrumental in the development of the coated fiberglass strand which has mushroomed into the incredible array of mostly redundant gadgetry. I point out that your generation had the advantage of learning the new langauges from your very early age,so there. There is a great risk to you that your touches may plumment if the abuse continues. We and our AARP colleagues frequently act in concert. Keep that in mind. To show our good will we offer the following blessing:

May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow
And may trouble avoid you wherever you go.
May brooks and trees and singing hills
Join in the chorus too
And every gently wind that blows
Bring happiness to you.

MASH (Moblie Assistance Satellite Headquarters)

The most confusing (and possibly disturbing) line in the email: There is a great risk to you that your touches may plumment if the abuse continues.

Not sure if I want to go there.

Interview with Genndy Tartakovsky

It's just a short Q&A session wth Genndy Tartakovsky, creator of the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series on Cartoon Network - but it's a lot of fun. The article gives some hints of what the final 10 episodes will contain when they start airing later this month.

Clone Wars Q & A

March 04, 2004

The Contest McDonald's Doesn't Want You To Know About

Tomorrow (3/5), McDonald's will be giving away $1 million prizes to 15 random customers who walk into their restaurants. But I don't think anyone knows about it. I haven't seen a single commerical or advertisement. I only learned about it after stumbling upon a story at Read the official notification from McDonald's below and then stop in the stores over the weekend to see if you can win.

2004 Instant Prize Giveaway

The New Nickel

Slated to show up in circulation this March, it commemorates the 1803 Louisiana Purchase.

Exciting stuff, I know.

You Will Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street!

March 03, 2004

Last Comment on Gay Marriage

This is the last time I want to write about the gay marriage issue (unless something really stupid happens, in which case I'll go back on my word). It's just that I really liked a column I happened to read last week and wanted to share.

In the Sunday, February 29th edition of the Chicago Tribune, columnist ">Mary Schmich wrote an article that dealt with this recent hot topic. Mary was able to encapsulate in one paragraph what I have tried to articulate in the past through multiple posts. Here it is:

Marriage is a legal act. Marriage is a religious act. The two are not the same. Religions should be free to define and sanction marriage as they deem proper for their practitioners. But, as even Britney Spears knows, marrying legally in the United States doesn't require a religious marriage. And in a nation built on the principles of equal rights and separation of church and state, it only makes sense that the legal right to marry be available to all citizens.

She goes on to wonder why this is so hard for everyone to understand. Her answer is that it comes down to the safety of tradition. Marriage has traditionally been the union of a man and a woman. Tradition is merely custom, and as Mary points out, customs can change. However, to break out of the safety of tradition takes a considerable amount of effort. It can take a long time and a lot of reflection on whether the custom that the tradition springs from does need changing. We could be in for a long battle on this one.

Chicago Tribune | No need to swap principles on gay marriage (registration required)

No More Super-sizing

While I'm all for personal responsibility - i.e. if you're gonna eat a Big Mac and fries every day for 10 years you should expect to blimp out and die of heart failure - I like McDonald's move to drop the super-size option from their menu. They claim it's part of a large initiative to trim a bloated and confusing menu, but I also think it was included to help the arguments against the half-wits who seem to think they can sue a restaurant like McDonald's when they get fat.

Aslan on the Big Screen

Disney announced yesterday that they are co-financing with Walden Media a live-action adaptation of C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The movie will be an adaptation of the second book in The Chronicles of Narnia, by far the most popular of the entire series. It has been adapted a number of other times - all animated I think, but I've never actually seen any of these earlier adaptations. Not sure if I'm that interested in seeing this future one. Disney has a reputation of watering down or Disney-fing traditional works - essentially sucking the soul out of the work so it can be easily mass marketed and turned into Happy Meals.

The Chronicles of Narnia was one of my favorite series when I was a kid growing up. I read it a number of times and loved it on each reading. Reading about the moving being made makes me want to go back and re-read the series. I'll definitely be recommending it to Ian and Emma when they are old enough to read it. All the Christian metaphors, allegory, and symbolism was lost on my as a 9-year old, but looking back it's all pretty clear now. And it is integral to the story and hasn't changed my view of the work looking back. However, I can see the strong Christian influence in the writing as being what Disney would work to suppress right from the start. The last thing Disney would want the masses to think is that they're making a "Christian film" - there's no Happy Meals in that. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Sounds Like a Mel Brooks Gag

I'm linking to this on the basis of its title almost exclusively:

Drunken Polish nun crashes her tractor

March 02, 2004

March 01, 2004

Why There Are Few Great Animated Films

Op-Ed Contributor: Cartoon Character - written by Sylvain Chomet, director of the Oscar nominated animated film "The Triplets of Belleville."

You Know This One's Gonna Be Appealed

Catholic Group Must Provide Birth Control

Only in California would a State Supreme Court rule 6-1 that Catholic Charities must include birth control coverage in its health care plan for its workers even though it is morally opposed to contraception.

This is ridiculous.

Family Update

Feels like It's been awhile since I just wrote about family things here. Mostly it's been about comics, toys, and rants against stories in the news.

Heather and I enjoyed our first ever Parent-Teacher conference last week with Ian's Preschool Teacher. Very wild. Another parent milestone taken care of. Ian is doing wonderfully in school To listen to his teacher talk, he is a model student who gets along with the other kids, participates in class, helps our the teachers, and excels academically. (He was one of three kids in his class of 19 who can already count to 100) Heather and I couldn't ask for anything more. We are both hugely proud of him.

Emma is starting to talk in fuller sentences. She is extremely verbal and will talk you ear off if given the chance. She is also, by all accounts, trying to potty train herself. We are all very surprised by this. It begins with Emma saying, "Poop. Poop." and pulling at her clothes. Then if you get her into the bathroom, get her diaper off, and sit her on the toilet - she will pee. She's never actually pooped in the toilet. "Poop" is Emma's universal for any bodily function. I'm thinking she could be using the bathroom regularly by her second birthday. Oh, think of the savings on diapers!

Hmmm. Heather's pregnant and could go at any minute. I'm conditioning myself to only need 4 hours of sleep a night - it's not going so well, so far.

Ian has attracted his first female admirer at school - her name is Jackie. That's kinda fun. Emma has taken to waking up in the middle of the night (sometimes twice) screaming like that is an axe-wielding alien zombie in the room. That's not fun.

The baby will probably be here in the next 10 to 15 days.

My Dad's dating already. Doesn't really bother me at all (though the same cannot be said for all my siblings) as long as it doesn't affect my family and me. As long as he's keeping the private life private, everything will be fine. As soon as he wants us all to get together for Thanksgiving dinner, then we might have problems.

My Mom has DirectTV or some form of satellite television. I can only imagine how that is going. As I've often commented to Heather, My Mom's house is a graveyard for technology - it's where it goes to die. I've never seen two people (my mother and step-father) have more problems with computers, phones, DVD players, etc. than I thought possible. Heaven help us when the satellite TV goes down.

It's 50 degrees and sunny here today. One of the nicest March days I can remember in a long time. A wonderful hint of things to come, considering the forecast calls for 30s and snow later this week.

Toys, Toys, Toys

I liked this article. It reminded me at times about my relationship with Ian and his (for now) shared interest in comic books and superheros.

'Lord of the Rings' Sweeps Oscars

'Lord of the Rings' Sweeps Oscars

Finally. Not only did I see one of the films that had been nominated - but it was the film that won.

The whole night I kinda felt bad for Master and Commander. They kept losing to Return of the King, and other year and you know Master and Commander would have been taking home those technical Oscars.

And while is was good to see Sean Penn finally take home a statue, I was really pulling for Johnny Depp.

It was a fun show last night.