May 28, 2004

Ian Graduates

Ian's Preschool held graduation ceremonies today. What a riot.

Because things were scheduled to kick off at 1pm, I simply took the whole day off. I didn't want to miss a thing. That meant I got to see Ian wake from sleeping, sit up in bed, and before anything else, ask, "When's graduation?" I had never seen the kid so excited for something before.

My mom and sister were able to join us in the school's gym with the parents of the other 20 or so kids in the preschool to watch the kids get their diplomas. There was a procession in while "Pomp and Cimcumstance" played. They wore paper graduation caps. They entertained us with some songs. They made all of us laugh, cry, and be very proud of our little graduates.

Ian, by the way, was easily the best singer in the bunch. If you gauge "best" by how loud the singing is and how emphatic the accompanying hand gestures are. A number of moms congratulated Ian afterwards about the wonderful job singing he did. I am so glad that we got that on video tape. Can't wait to pull that out for his high school graduation party or wedding reception.

Of course the night was capped off with the graduation ceremonial dinner of Ian's choosing; hot dogs, Doritos, strawberries, and ice cream sandwiches for dessert. Hmmmmm.

Of course we have pictures, but I don't have them ready for the web yet. Don't worry, they'll come - they'll come soon.

May 27, 2004

Batman and Superman Movie Updates

batman logoNot only are there photos from the set, but there are also confirmations that shooting has already begun here in Chicago. Apparenlty it is only exterior shots. The production crew is shooting along La Salle Street at night - down at Randolph and La Salle by the City Hall building.

Things continue to look promising for Batman Begins. Hope that when they do some real shooting with some of the principal actors here this summer that I can catch a glimpse of the going-ons.

Tthe talk about another Superman movie is heating up. Seems production is actually moving forward with a J.J Abrams (Alias) penned script with McG (Charlie Angels) directing. I've been reading about this for months, but now there seems to be a consistent din coming out of the comic book movie rumor mill. Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman and Johnny Depp as Jor-El, Superman's father, actual sites being scouted for shooting, and push from Warner Brothers for a summer 2006 release.

superman shieldIn fact there is quote from Abrams that confirms things are picking up for Superman: "The movie is closer to getting made now than it's ever been. I'm crossing my fingers the movie gets made because there are a lot of really wonderful elements attached to it. I'm hoping the movie see the light of day. I believe it will." In the article he even weighs in on his choice for Lex Luthor: Victor Garber (Jack Bristow) from Alias.

Couldn't agree more with that suggestion for casting. Victor's Jack character on Alias is the nastiest good guy I have ever seen. In fact, the Jack Bristow character is probably my favorite part of that show, and it's entirely because of how Garber portrays Jack. Cold, calculating, anything to protect the people he thinks needs protecting. Jack is very much an "ends justify the means" sort of guy and I love it. There's a lot of that in the character of Lex Luthor.

It's a Comic Book Dude

Comic book writer and artist John Bryne puts way too much thought into Superman's powers.

It Might Help Voter Turnout

I liked this opening paragraph from Virginia Heffernan's review of the American Idol finale in the New York Times.

'November's general elections need a "results show" like the big bash "American Idol" staged on Fox last night. Instead of distracted anchormen calling tallies from boring desks, the hyperhappy host, Ryan Seacrest, could crow in a tieless tux about how fabulous voter turnout was. Past failed candidates - Carol Moseley Braun, Bob Dole and Howard Dean, certainly - could reprise old stump speeches, all smiles now. Finally, following a sax rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" by a former idol, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and John Kerry could stand up, holding hands, trembling but beaming encouragement to each other, as Ryan announced our next American president.'

Can't deny that it would liven up election day television coverage. Plus, our election process operates more like a popularity contest most of the time anyways. Why not celebrate it in the right way?

I Can Stop Any Time I Want . . . Really . . . No, Really, I Can!

An article on the New York Times looks at the seedy world of blogging obsessions.

This Might Be a Fun Father's Day Gift Idea

Elvis Presley “68 Comeback Special” action figure

I Love Star Wars

Here are some more looks at the the vintage figures from the Original Star Wars triology that will be released this fall along with the new DVD collection of the three films.

Star Wars toys image

Fasinating

Physicist: Cosmos Is Shaped Like the Eiffel Tower

May 26, 2004

Shandi Finnessey Update

Let's check in and see how young Shandi, the reigning Miss USA 2004, is doing as she prepares for the Miss Universe pageant on June 1st.

Shandi Finnessey in Native American gear


Oh, Shandi! What would the American Indian Movement say about this?

When Geeks Lose Touch with Reality, Part II

It's not nearly as much fun as a slightly overweight middle-aged man going comando in a white full-body leotard, but this guy does seem to be a bit off his rocker.

A high school kid made a Lord of the Rings-inspired chips-and-dip bowl in the shape of Mordor in his ceramics class. Take a look:

Mordor chip-and-dip


The salsa (or whatever dip flavor floats your boat - or chip for that matter) goes in Mount Doom. Ingenious, but undoubtly over-the-top geeky.

Now, a chip-and-dip styled after the Hall of Justice from the old Superfriends cartoon show, that's another story . . .

May 25, 2004

Something Else to Pin on My Parents

Study: Misbehaving Hair May Be Inherited

I hate my hair. Just recently got it almost entirely shaved off. Just can't stand my hair.

The $.50-a-Gallon Tax Solution

When I first read this of Op-Ed piece in the New York Times I thought the guy was smoking crack. A $.50 a gallon tax on gasoline! That's absolutely insane. Especially consider the $2 a gallon prices going on right now.

However, Gregg extirpated makes some points that show there would be a logic to this $.50 madness. That an increase in the federal gasoline tax could actually spur economic growth, while decreasing road congestion and automotive deaths.

Of course the increase would be phased in, we wouldn't wake up Tuesday morning and be hit with the new tax. But still, it would be pretty steep. Maybe the benefits would be helpful - but $.50 - wow!

I don't know. It gave me something new to think about today.

Random Bits

No big items are grabbing my attention for blogging; so I'm just gonna ramble on a bit for a while.

Zoe was baptized this past Sunday. Despite the constant threat of rain and foul weather, things stayed relatively nice long enough for the Baptism and the party afterward at our house. The Parish we belong to is full of young families like ours, so baptisms are handled in what can best be described as an assembly line fashion. While it does take away some of the personalization of the sacrament, you can't deny how it helps move things along. With an average of 12 baptisms at a time (and they hold baptism four times a month!), I understand why our Church has looked for way to optimize the procedures.

The party afterward was full of the same good company, good food, and elaborate baking sensations. I love all the food at family parties like that - it plays to my inclination to graze.

My Grandma and Grandpa McKillip (Ian's, Emma's and Zoe's Great-Grandparents) came through again in spades in regards to gifts for the kids. While getting Zoe some wonderful baby clothes and super-soft blanket, Ian and Emma were treated to these light-up spinning things. I can't really describe them - I was hoping to find a picture of them on the web to post here, but have been unable to do so. I even looked on the box they came in to see if it listed a company name or website. It doesn't. The only clue to the product's name or the company's name is the mysterious Made in China label on one side.

Searching the box did cause me to take the time and actually read the text there. What I learned was that someone was using one lame ass Chinese to English translator to layout the box. A sample of some of text from the box:

  • Make surprise with your friends
  • Must have one at party
  • To fix people's eyes in the night
  • Play children with fun

    Yes, each one of those sentences was a separate line. The "party" line and the "people's eyes" line were not suppose to go together.

    Firefox LogoInstalled and have been using Firefox today. Just as I had hoped, it's like a window's version of Camino. Lean and mean - Firefox quickly loads pages, dispels with any of the junk Netscape and Microsoft burden their browsers with, and in the end just looks cooler than the other browsers.

    What's interesting is that there is a version of Firefox for Max OS X. Why would they develop that? Both Firefox and Camino are on Beta 0.8 versions, so it looks like they're being developed side-by-side. Why bother making Firefox for Mac when the exception Camino is already in development from the same company? Doesn't make sense to me.

    Started reading The Killer Angels this week and am enjoying right off the bat. My Dad gave me the book about 7 or 8 years ago and I just haven't ever read it. Decided it was time. When I was in grade school I was Civil War junkie. Read about it all the time. My interest in that part of history may have waned a bit from my days of youth, but not enough that I still don't find reading about the Civil War completely fascinating.

    Oh, Ian has selected what he would like for dinner the night of his graduation from Preschool (Heather lets us picks things like this on our special days - birthdays, father's day - you get the idea). Ian has decided that the perfect meal to celebrate his successful completion of Preschool would be:

  • Hot dogs
  • Doritos
  • strawberries

    I can't wait.
  • May 24, 2004

    New Way to Post Photos


    I'm using this new software called Hello along with BloggerBot to post some of the photos to my blog. Hello is a new Instant Messenger client that was designed for sharing photos with friends and family more easily than email or on a website. Simply send the photos like you would a text message on AIM or MSN IM.

    The kids at Blogger worked with the makers of Hello so that a journal writer like myself could use Hello to share my photos/images with the BloggerBot - instead of a real person - which would in turn post the image and caption in my blog. All properly formated and everything.

    Neat, huh?

    We'll see how it works. I might stay with it, I may not. Posted by Hello

    Camino

    Camino logoCamino is a web browser designed and built to run exclusively on Mac OS X. It uses the gecko layout engine being developed by the open source Mozilla project that was begun by the original makers of Netscape.

    I've been using Camino in all of its beta versions for the last two years and wouldn't trade it for anything. It's fast and clean, with very little system memory needs. Pages load quickly and the interface to the application is slick. Hands down the best browser I've gotten to test drive on the Mac. I still use Netscape 7.1 (also built on gecko) at work on my wintel machine - only switching over to the bloated Internet Explorer when I have to access certain web-based applications.

    Today I downloaded (but haven't yet installed) Firefox from the Mozilla project. Maybe it will provide them same smooth, clean web browsing experience in Windows that Camino does on the Mac. Maybe it won't. We'll see soon enough.

    Andy Kaufman Returns?

    Andy Kaufman photo20 years from the day he was pronounced dead of lung cancer at age 35, a press release and website launched claiming that Andy had returned. The website is actually a blog with the reportedly returned from the dead Kaufman explaining what he's been doing for the past two decades, how he plans to prove the real Andy Kaufman is alive, and what he is going to do now.

    Obviously, reaction has ranged from scepticism to shouts of sacrilidge. As far as I'm concerned, I think it's a hoax. Mostly because of what Snopes.com points out in their investigation of Andy's return.

    It's still all fun to read about. One, just to watch how people react to what is happening on the Andy Kaufman Returns website. Two, because we are talking about Andy Kaufman here - there is a possibility this could be legit. I doubt it, but it does make the whole thing a lot more fun.

    Okay, This is Just Silly

    Pa. Lawmakers Argue Over State Soil

    Apparently the groups wanting a disgnation of an official state soil are upset that the State Legislature isn't working quickly enough. Bruce P. Willman, president of the soil association, says, "We are asking only a symbolic acknowledgment from our state government for the value of soils in our state. This is not a trivial undertaking and is not presented as a whimsical pursuit."

    Never mind balancing budgets, funding schools, and finding ways to bring more work to the state - NAME A DAMN STATE SOIL ALREADY!!

    Elvis on the Big Screen This June

    This was in the Elvis email newsletter this morning:

    Elvis 68 Comeback Promo

    Be the first to experience Elvis like you've never seen him before.

    One Night This June . . . Don't Miss The King of Rock and Roll in the Big Screen Concert Event of the Year!

    We're giving you, the Elvis fans, the exclusive inside word!

    For one amazing night on the Big Screen - June 21 - select Regal, United Artists, and Edwards theatres across the United States will unveil an exclusive, 100 minute theatre-only version of the Elvis: '68 Comeback Special with never-before-seen footage.

    Digitally remastered and optimized for the Big Screen.

    Relive the experience of seeing Elvis in concert and celebrate the best performances of his career all in a theatre near you.


    Damn, wouldn't that be fun!

    May 21, 2004

    Where Did They Keep Their Ticket Stubs?

    Who's sitting around thinking, "How many naked people can we get on a rollercoaster?"



    Naked students ride the 'Nemesis Inferno' rollercoaster at Thorpe Park in Surrey during their attempt to break the world record for the most amount of naked people to ride on a rollercoaster. The group successfully set a new official world record on Friday with a total of 81 volunteers completing the attempt. REUTERS/HO/Howard Sayer

    Sin City Movie Update

    Sin City cover artVariety reports that Robert Rodriguez has closed his cast on "Sin City" by adding Benicio Del Toro and Clive Owen to the Dimension Films ensemble project. The noir drama is divided into three chapters named for titles in the Miller series: "Sin City," "That Yellow Bastard" and "The Big Fat Kill." Del Toro and Owen will be seen in the last segment, along with Brittany Murphy. Rodriguez hopes to draft Quentin Tarantino's assistance in directing the final chapter. The film cast also includes Bruce Willis, Josh Hartnett, Mickey Rourke, Nick Stahl, Jessica Alba, Elijah Wood, Carla Gugino, Jaime King and Marley Shelton.

    You can also see Entertainment Tonight "On The Set" footage showing Bruce Willis as Hartigan and Jessica Alba as Nancy.

    This is all starting to look pretty good. I might have to take back some of what I initially said about the project back in February. Regardless of how good Rodriguez's film might be, the books will always be my prefered form for enjoying Miller's stories in Sin City.

    (This Sin City news was taken from The Comic Reel over on the Comic Book Resources website)

    Sleeper: Out in the Cold - A Review

    Sleeper coverWhat happens when you're a deeper cover agent firmly established within one of the world's largest and most notorious crime/terror organizations and the only man who knows you work for the good guys falls into an irreversible coma? You get the outstanding comic series Sleeper from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.

    Published by Wildstorm Comics, a division of DC Comics, Sleeper stars Holden Carver, an agent forced by his handler, John Lynch, to go work for Tao, a super-manipulator and ruthless criminal mastermind. Unfortunately Lynch has fallen into an irreversible coma just before the series begins and now Carver is on his own. This wonderfully written and superbly illustrated comic chronicles Carver's struggles to not be discovered for the double-agent that he is, avoid capture from those who think he is a traitor, and in general find a way out of the horrible mess he finds himself in.

    Brubaker is becoming a "can't miss" writer for me. I haven't come across a single project of his that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed. His work in Sleeper is gritty and hard-boiled, with his usual great sense of plotting and distinctive dialogue.

    Sean Phillips artwork is perfectly matched with distinct line work and great design. The color palette chosen by colorist Tony Aviòa only reinforces the fact that this story takes place in the shadows and underbelly of the world that is inhabited by agents and secretive powerbrokers. It makes for a complete package.

    I didn't take much notice of Sleeper when the series kicked off over a year ago. Something about the pitch didn't grab me then. It wasn't until later, when the trade paperback collecting the first 6 issues came out, that I bothered to take a look at the series. Brubaker concocted a number of stunts and programs to increase awareness of the book. Apparently reviews had been outstanding for the book, but the sales numbers just weren't there. It was because of Brubaker's pulpit thumping that I began searching out the reviews of the series. I decided to take a chance on Sleeper and picked up Out in the Cold with an Amazon gift certificate. Very glad I did so. The second six issues have already been collected and released, and I plan to pick that up as soon as possible. Season two of Sleeper has just kicked off - with a promise from Wildstorm that the entire next 12 issues of the series will be published. However, instead of picking up the individual issues, I'm going to wait for the collections of those as well. It just reads real nice all collected together.

    Sleeper: Out in the Cold is straight up good old-fashioned crime noir book, with taunt pacing, exciting plot twists, and intelligent scripting. The art perfectly compliments and interprets the script, making for a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining reading experience. I can't recommend Sleeper enough.

    The FCC Song

    Eric Idle, of Monty Python fame, writes:

    "Here’s a little song I wrote the other day while I was out duck hunting with a judge… It’s a new song, it’s dedicated to the FCC and if they broadcast it, it will cost a quarter of a million dollars."

    The FCC Song (3.1MB)

    In International News

    A Bosnian man has started selling the world's first “self-ventilating and thermo-regulating underpants” to help fight male sterility. Dragan Tadic from Laktasi in northwest Bosnia-Herzegovina, has been awarded the gold medal at the Councour Lepan inventors’ exhibition in Paris. He claims they help stop the testicles becoming too warm – a cause of sterility.

    “The underpants have a special ‘bag’ at the front for the penis and testicles, by adding this bag there is better ventilation and more hygienic conditions because the bag reduces sweating,” he said.

    Tadic, who called the underpants Adam’s Leaf, says he’s now in touch with French businessmen about producing the underwear.

    “I am already negotiating with a potential investor and strongly believe these new functional and healthy underpants will revolutionise the industry.”

    (editor's note: I was going to insert a photo of Adam's Leaf, but realized that some of you may be reading this on your lunch break. If you really want to see what Adam's Leaf looks like, take a look here.)

    I Hope She Finished Cooking the Fries First

    EUGENE, Ore. - A woman is accused of pouring boiling oil on her boyfriend's face in an argument over a Bible verse.

    Angela S. Morris, 19, was charged with domestic violence assault and jailed on $250,000 bail. Her 31-year-old boyfriend, whose name was not released, was hospitalized with severe burns on his face, neck and chest.

    The two were reading the Bible at the boyfriend's apartment May 13 when Morris went to the kitchen to prepare french fries, police said.

    Morris told police that they continued to argue and that her boyfriend grabbed her from behind. Police said he then went to his bedroom to lie down. Morris followed and threw the oil on him, police said.

    May 20, 2004

    Cubs Lose

    chicago cubs logoThe Cubs gave up a homer with one runner on in the top of the 10th inning. Then Cub hitters went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 10th to end the game.

    Oh well.

    10 innings
    Giants 5
    Cubs 3

    Way to Go Alou

    chicago cubs logoMoises Alou just took a 3-1 pitch out of the park, scoring 2 runs and knotting up the Giants-Cubs game 3-3 in the bottom of the 7th.

    Way to go Alou!

    I love MLB Gameday

    How Cool Is This?

    WXRT logoWXRT is now making the songs from their playlists available for sale through Apple's iTunes.

    I already love the fact that XRT has been streaming their radio broadcast over the Internet since mid-March. Hardly a day at work doesn't go by that I don't tune in to listen. (I'm listening as I type this in fact) Now they make it even easier for me to find the songs that they are playing in case I want to get a copy for myself.

    I love XRT.

    We All Have a Responsibility

    To teach the children about The King.

    The Incredibles

    I linked to it a couple of months ago when just the teaser trailer was out, today I can link to the first full The Incredibles trailer.

    The Incredibles looks fantastic. It opens the day before my birthday. I think I know what I want to do for my party.

    Parents' Empowerment Act

    California Congressman Duncan Hunter (R) has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives called the Parents' Empowerment Act, and would allow parents of any minor to sue anyone who disseminates any material that they deem "harmful to minors."

    My objections to this inane bill are shared with what CBLDF Director Charles Brownstein had to say about the bill, "It appears to allow for civil actions against any, or every, member of the dissemination food chain, from the retailer to the distributor to the publisher, of work that an individual parent may object to. So any citizen, using their own sense of what is obscene or harmful to minors, can bring suit. Considering that comics still suffer the cultural and legal stigma of being perceived as a juvenile medium, this bill could become a dangerous weapon in the hands of an individual who walks into a comic book store and is shocked to find that comics offer much more than Archie and Superman."

    I Don't Follow the Logic

    A couple of years ago I used the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids website to send a fax to my Congressmen to ask him to vote against some issue that I thought was worthy. Of course I was put on their email list and continue to receive emails about their latest crusade to crush smoking and/or the advertising of cigarettes and smoking related items to young children. I usually don't pay them much attention, because the targets of their fury seem so strange and ill conceived. Like the email I received today:

    Dear Brendan,

    We know that almost all adults who smoke today took their first puff in their teens. Glamorous movie stars, role models for young women, smoked in 80% of the movies rated for young people produced by Sony Pictures® from 1999-2003.

    100% of the G-rated movies featured smoking.


    What? 100% of what G-rated films? Sony's G-rated films? Give me facts, not stats if you want to convince me of anything.

    Plus, I think most kids today - at least the ones old enough to be watching live action films - are savvy enough to discern the actor from the character. People are not lemmings. We are not so enamored with the stars of television and screen that we are compelled to emulate everything that an actor's character does on the flickering screen. Even if an individual has a crushing attachment to an actor, they'll pattern themself after the actors real life behavior - not the behavior their character displays in a movie. The person wants to be like the actor, not some fictional person they portray.

    In Mona Lisa Smile, a recent film starring actresses popular with teenagers, young women are shown smoking 21 times. Every four minutes, a young woman is shown smoking, talking about smoking or displaying a pack of Camel or Winston cigarettes.

    Mona Lisa Smile is a film set back in the 1950's when smoking was not only more prevalent than it is today, it was practically encouraged. Would you have filmmakers completely disregard history to help your agenda? This is a horrible film to use in their argument.

    There are hundreds of other examples. We must stop this and stop it now, which is why we're launching the Save Our Daughters campaign.

    "Hundreds of other examples." Great, nothing like some nice broad generalizations to help hammer home an argument. Who buys into these types of rationalizations?

    Run Away! Run Away!

    Scientists Say Chicago Sinking Every Year - and it's all Canada's fault.

    Bastards.

    Google's Gmail - A Review

    Gmail LogoI've been using Google's new Gmail email service for a couple of weeks now, and to be honest I haven't been too impressed. While others are heralding it as a "thing of beauty", I find it horribly awkward in its usability and lacking in key features.

    For the uninformed: about a month or so ago Google launched a free web-based email service called Gmail that is designed to compete against Yahoo! mail and Microsoft's Hotmail. Beta testing of the service was an invite-only arrangement (I earned mine by being a frequent blogger using the Google-owned Blogger.com service). The key selling features of Gmail has been the enormous 1 gig (1000 mb) of storage space for email (Yahoo! only offers users 6 mb for its free email service), the incorporating of the Google search engine into the email service - making searching through your vast amount of email easier, and Google's claim of superior spam filtering.

    To make their money, Google is also scanning all incoming email and placing their now famous Google text ads along the right-hand column. Privacy advocates have screamed bloody-murder over this feature, claiming that Google is prying into the private communications of its users. On the contrary, Google is scanning the email in much the same way Yahoo!, Hotmail, or any other email client now does in order to filter out spam. It's just that in addition to filtering out the spam, Google is using the scan to serve up ads relevant to keywords found in the email. No person is reading the email. Nothing is being stored. Google is just looking for words it can use to serve up ads - then they're through with the email and its contents.

    Now that I've gotten to use the service for about three weeks, I ready to weigh in with my impressions on Gmail - and the results aren't as fantastic as others would lead you to believe.

    For example: Gmail does not consistently use buttons or text links for similar types of actions. A major no-no that any web design half their worth would never commit. They do not allow you to create sub-folders to file emails away in. All your mail sits in the Inbox - you're suppose to use the unparallel Google search function to find what you're looking for in your Inbox or apply labels to like emails and then view only those emails assigned that label. All of which I find very awkward.

    Gmail automatically ads to your contact list any person you send an email to. This is nice most of the time, but when your just sending the email to sign up for an email newsletter, do you really need end up having Kyle Baker Publishing Newsletter Confirmation from ListManager sitting in your contact list? I don't think so. So now I have to go in and delete that from my contact list. It's a hassle.

    The kicker is that by default the Gmail email client does not show any images in HTML emails. I know some consider it a spam security risk - but I'm not too worried about it. I want to see the images right off the bat when I open the email. I don't want to have to click on a "Display External Images" link. All of my email is not just text correspondence between family and friends - I get HTML version of newsletters.

    I know it probably sounds like I'll be dropping Gmail like a bad habit. On the contrary, I'll probably hang on to the email address, because I do like some of the features that Gmail offers: how the group "conversations" or the back and forth of emails that occurs when writing people about something, the huge amount of storage space (1 gig), and the clean and simple email address that hasn't been picked up by spammers yet. I'll just grumble through the other items and offer feedback to Google.

    End of Days

    Israel Defies World Outcry, Expands Gaza Offensive

    Iraqis Blame U.S. for Wedding Attack, Despite Denial

    Get your gas masks on and your shelters stocked - the Judeo-Christian vs. Muslim War is heating up.

    May 19, 2004

    You'll Get Nothing From Me Today And Like It

    I am so fuckin' busy at work it is unbelievable.

    May 18, 2004

    Tony Randall Dies

    Just saw this news while doing some research for work. Tony Randall, most famous for playing Felix Unger in the "The Odd Couple" television show, dies at the age of 84 yesterday after battling a long illness.

    While I remember Randall from his role in "The Odd Couple," my memories of him are formed more from his numerous appearances of David Letterman's "Late Show." Regardless of whether Randall was a scheduled guest or a surprise stop-by, he was always entertaining and very funny. He and David just seemed to have a lot of fun together and genuinely enjoyed each other's company. He will be missed.

    This is Too Cool

    I know I've talked about it before, but I just find this stuff too exciting.

    With the release of the original Star Wars trilogy on DVD this fall, Hasbro is re-releasing a bunch of toys related to those three films. All the re-releases are being put out in reproductions of the type of packaging used for Star Wars toys back in the 80s.

    It's like the best nostalgia trip ever. Check out the recently announced 12' Boba Fett that will be released.

    boba fett


    Wicked cool! I had a Stormtrooper 12' figure when I was a kid (Kevin had the 12" Darth Vader with probably the best cape ever) - but those are gone now. Sold off in a garage sale during a moment of weakness and confusion. This Boba Fett is twelve times more cool than that old Stormtrooper (though the 'trooper did have one mean-ass gun) and would look great next to the 10" Superman and Batman that currently grace my dresser at home.

    But enough of that. Take a look at the box he will come in.

    boba fett box


    Fantastic! I love it.

    I know that Frank Zapa once said, "It isn't necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice. There are two other possibilities: one is paperwork and the other is nostalgia." But dammit, I don't care. If having a Boba Fett figure in a box that takes me back to a time when life was simplier - lazy afternoons playing Star Wars in the living room with my brother while waiting forl G.I. Joe to come on and riding our bikes around the neighborhood at dusk until Mom called us in for bed - then let's risk the end of the world Mr. Zappa.

    This is a First

    There is a security alert concerning the Mac OS X operating system. If you use the Safari or Microsoft IE web browsers, then you run the risk of your computer being infected with malicious code.

    Why Never to Put Your Picture on the Internet

    Some guys with Photoshop will get a hold of it and do this.

    Another goofy web offering I can make available to you, my faithful blog reader, because of generous email contributions by my brother, Kevin.

    May 17, 2004

    You Know What Scares Me?

    These ads with Suze Orman currently running on Yahoo!

    Suze Orman


    Aaaaah! Look at those eyes. She doesn't want to help you make money. She want you to give her your money. That's right. Suze know what's best for you. Give her all your money. Everything will be fine. I promise. . . .

    What A Weekend

    Even though I was up late Friday night mopping the floor (it was my turn), it enabled me to catch the end of the Cubs game and get some comic book reading in.

    I had my concerns about the cubs going in to San Diego against a pretty good Padre team, so I was plenty surprised to turn the game on late Friday night to see them leading 3 to 1 in the top of the ninth. (While these West Coast trips give me an opportunity to watch the Cubs during the week, it also means that if I wasn't to see it through to the end I'm up to 11 pm or later. It can be rough) I was just in time to see the Cubs load the bases and new-comer Jose Macias step up to the plate and smash triple down the left-field line scoring three more runs. Confident of the win, I was able to shut the television off and finish my mopping.

    We were pretty busy Saturday and Sunday, so the Friday night game was the only one game I got to see. Having the Cubs sweep the Padres and Houston continue to struggle made things look good in the standings Monday morning. I figure the Astros and Cubs might be up and down in the top spot of the N.L Central all season, but it feels better when the Cubs are leading.

    superman 204 coverWhile waiting for the kitchen floor to dry enough for me to finish up, I got to read Superman #204 and Batman #626. The Superman comic is the first in the 12-part story from writer Brian Azzarello and artist Jim Lee that I've been talking about. Just like what Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee did last year in Batman, Azzarello and Lee are weaving a yearlong story in Superman. I'd my reservations about the story, but as I've mentioned here before, the allure of Azzarello's writing and Lee's pencils might just be too much for me.

    After reading the first part in the story I'm totally hooked. While Superman isn't a character I read regularly at all, every few years or so I like a good Superman yarn. In just one issue, Azzarello convinced me that this is going to be that Superman story for me. He sets up the mystery of the plot, without giving away anything, and he introduces the main players - it's just fantastic. And his dialogue! Wow. People have their own voice. You can hear it. The comic isn't just pictures with captions and word balloons. Each character has their own sense of speech. It's almost poetic.

    I figure I'll buy the individual issues and see how the whole thing plays out. A trade collection is inevitable, but I don't feel like waiting. If I enjoy it enough (and after one issue I'm already think I will) that I want to own the collected edition, then I plan to package up the 12 issues and auction them off on eBay. They'll sell easily. Then I can take that money and put it towards buying the trade. Seems like a good plan to me.

    batman 626 coverBatman #626 was also a great read. Written by Judd Winick, with art by Dustin Nguyen, it's part one of the six-part "As The Crow Flies" storyline (Sunday I got to read Batman #627 also). I could do without the cheesy Matt Wagner covers, but the interior artwork from Nguyen is moody and sharp - a perfect match for Batman. Winick's story entertaining and well constructed. The story is a bit genre in that it's a basic team-up between the Penguin and the Scarecrow and Batman's investigation into their work. However, Winick delivers with polish and style that makes the story seem more than mere genre. Batman is another recommended comic.

    Actually the Batman and Superman comics were part of the monthly stash I picked up with Ian Thursday afternoon after my dentist appointment. Besides comics from DC Comic's Big Two, I also got new issues of The Losers, Gotham Central, The Light Brigade, and Scurvy Dogs. All of which I am extremely eager to read. I'm really feeling good about the steps I've taken over the last few months two weed out the marginal comics I was picking up. I've gone lean and it's paying off with a stack of quality comics that I want to sit down and read as soon as I get home. I love that!

    Saturday was a busy morning as Heather ran out to do a bunch of errands. I was home playing Mr. Mom. Late Saturday afternoon was Heather and I getting dressed up and heading downtown to my cousin's Dan wedding reception. Usually Heather and I go to the ceremony and reception when we're invited to a wedding. We both feel it's the right thing to do. However, with a 2-month old baby, Heather knew 1) she couldn't be away from Zoe as long as we would have been if we went to both. Heather has to breast feed the baby at some point or things will explode and 2) it's not practical to take Zoe with us to a wedding. So Mom came over to watch our untamable pack of wild children so Heather and I could escape to the world of adults for a while.

    Heather and I had fun driving into downtown Chicago and finding the well-hidden country club the reception was being held at. There was the usual shock of seeing your cousins walking around with fiancée, brides, and boyfriends. . whatever, all holding bottles of beer or glasses of wine. I'm the oldest of 10 cousins on my Dad's side of the family - and I'm about four or five years older then the next oldest cousin (excluding my brother, of course). For the most part I still see my cousins as being 11, 10, or even 9-years old. There are some I'll forever see as being 6. It never manages to shock me to see them driving a car or wearing an engagement ring. Even though the age difference isn't that large, I think it's contributed to me never being to close with any of my cousins. Maybe it's my personality. I don't know. I do know Elizabeth is in tight with most of them.

    The wedding was good, but our time there wasn't too long. Around 8pm we got the call from my Mom that there were problems at home and that we should probably head back - which we did. By the time we got home Ian and Emma were just heading off to sleep and Zoe was waking up for her next feeding. Turns out there wasn't anything wrong with the kids, it was the regular craziness of a 4-year old, 21-month old, and 2-month old paired with a weak-stomached cat and a bunch of other smaller problems all happening at the same time. Separately not anything big. Happening all at once with only one adult to deal with it - quite overwhelming. While Heather and I were disappointed to have to leave the party, we both understood the need to have us back home.

    Nobody's upset, Mom. In fact, be warned, we'll ask you to baby-sit again. You're still hands down the best babysitter we know.

    Sunday was spent doing yard work out in the sunshine and un-seasonable warm May weather. I love working in the yard. Digging, cutting, planting, pulling. Whether it's pruning bushes or cleaning the deck, I love being outside working the landscape around the house into something pleasing to the eye and fun to relax in. I ended up being outside for over 4 hours straight cutting the grass, spreading new mulch, replacing bulbs in the landscape lights, feeding the lilacs, evergreen tree and other bushes. Even took some time to play with Ian and Emma, and take a walk with Ian, Emma, Zoe and Heather. Had pizza for dinner from the local pizza place Heather and I recently discovered that makes a very good pizza for a reasonable price and is literally 5 minutes away. Heather made a great chocolate chip cookie torte thingy (I forgot the name) for dessert that is absolutely fantastic. There are plenty of leftovers, so I'll get to have me another slice tomorrow.

    Sunday night I found myself exhausted, almost pleasantly so - but not quite. Was still able to muster the strength to plow through some ironing - which I never enjoy. It was made more tolerable by watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Harvey Birdman, Sealab 2021, and The Brak Show on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. I love Adult Swim, especially Sunday nights. Every show is very funny and entertaining. Just wish they were on earlier in the evening so I wouldn't have to be up so late watching them.

    Aqua Teen Hunger Force


    Ian and Emma are sick now. Ian woke up with a clogged up nose Sunday morning. Emma's illness seemed to surface overnight Sunday/Monday. I don't think I'll be able to peg this on Elizabeth like I did last time. What's nice about Ian getting older is now he's able to care for himself when he gets sick. He will wipe his nose and cover his mouth when he coughs. Sure there are lapses in behavior - he is only 4 after all - but overall he's aware of what he should be doing. He just forgets sometimes. I'm also starting to push the value of drinking lots of fluids when he gets sick. Because I don't want him asking Heather for juice all day, I've been telling him drinking a lot of water when he's sick will help him get healthy faster. I hope that sticks.

    We're half way through a horribly busy month of May. Elizabeth's graduation, Mother's Day, and Dan's & Shannon's wedding down. Zoe's Baptism and Ian's graduation from preschool to go. I think we're going to make it.

    Funny Kyle Baker Cartoon

    Ain't it the truth

    Doin' It Like Rabbits

    Swatch's Bunnysutra watch

    Swatch's 'Bunnysutra' watch is featured on a Times Square billboard in New York City. The ad features a larger-than-life close-up of two cartoon bunnies in intimate positions. (AP Photo/Ed Bailey)

    May 14, 2004

    These Teeth Are Clean!

    happy tooth brushBack in 2001 I was diagnosed with gingivitis. The treatment: root scaling and planing. A rather painful process by which they numb up half of your mouth and then with a very sharp instrument scrap the surface of your teeth below the gum line until it is extremely smooth. This helps the gums re-attach themselves to the teeth and halt the progress of the disease.

    Since I had the procedure my gums have improved. I've had to implement a pretty rigid practice of flossing and my visits to the dentist for cleanings were every three months, but I didn't want to sit through the process of scaling and planing again. At every visit the hygienist would take measurements to see how things were doing. Progress had seemed to be slow and there was talk of repeating the procedure. Urgh.

    Then I missed an appointment back in the fall of 2003 because of business travel and I wasn't unable to reschedule until yesterday, 5/13. I was dreading when she took the measurements. I was sure things were going to be bad and another round of scaling and planning were in my future. But as she went around from right to left, top to bottom, she kept calling out that magic measurement: 3. Three millimeters is the size of health gums and I had hit it in spades. Only two or three times did I hit 4, and that was way in the back around a molar. A common problem area for anyone - gingivitis or not.

    Even though I hadn't been to the dentist in about nine months, I still managed to get my gingivitis under control. This is a fantastic thing. This is great. I am so happy.

    Rock On, Dude!

    Found this over at Wil Wheaton.net: 80's Air Guitar sold on eBay

    As the caption reads: YOU ARE BIDDING ON AN ORIGINAL AIR GUITAR FROM THE 80'S. THIS ONE WAS USED ONCE AT A BON JOVI CONCERT IN 89 FOR ABOUT 3 HOURS.I HAVE TAKEN IT OUT A FEW TIMES SINCE. GENERALLY AFTER ABOUT 6 BEERS AND A COUPLE OF FRUITY SHOTS.

    The Devil in the White City - Review

    The Devil in the White CityFinished reading The Devil in the White City by Eric Larson earlier this week and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I'm really starting to get into stories (both fiction and non-fiction) with a historical twist. Having real events and people tied to the stories seems to provide the work with more gravity. The historical relevance lends an aura to the novel and reading that I don't always experience when reading a completely fictitious story.

    My interest in reading The Devil in the White City sprang from the fact that the book deals with a number of things that I find fascinating: American History, Chicago, and mass murderers. An eclectic mix, I know.

    Larson's book explores the creation of the 1893 World's Colombian Exposition in Chicago and its chief architect and driving force, Daniel Burnham and contracts that with the construct of the "castle of death" at 63rd and Wallace by Dr. H. H. Holmes, America's first prolific mass murderer. Richly detailed, The Devil in the White City is an exhaustively researched novel that recreates a snapshot of America on the verge of the 1900s with grace and artistry. Larson's writing makes history come alive, entertaining the reader with all the little stories that made up the bigger story of the race to build the White City in Chicago.

    For instance, did you know that all of the following items debuted at the 1893 World's Fair? The first zipper, Aunt Jemima's pancake mix in a box, Juicy Fruit gum, Cracker Jack, Shredded Wheat cereal, and Pabst beer - which won the blue ribbon for domestic brew, hence it forever being renamed Pabst Blue Ribbon. The fair also featured George Ferris' answer to Paris' showcase at their World's Fair, the Eiffel Tower. The Ferris Wheel was easily one of the most popular attractions at the fair, standing almost 300 feet tall and carrying over 1,450,000 paying customers, it grossed over $200,000 for the World's Fair. Its success ensured that the fair in the White City not only broke even, but actually made money.

    And many historians attribute the fair for the reason alternating current was adopted in America for wiring our homes and offices for electricity, instead of the direct current method Thomas Edison and his Edison Electric Company was pushing for. Westinghouse made the cheap bid on providing electricity for the fair and they used alternating current. It worked so well it quickly caught on around the country in other developments. Labor contracts, Columbus Day, and the Pledge of Allegiance; the list of how the 1893 World's Fair affected America goes on and on.

    Dr. Holmes' story also has its fascinating parts, although they are mostly of the macabre type. His castle was full of secret rooms and airtight vaults, and featured a unique design for a furnace in the basement that Holmes himself devised. The furnace was double insulated in such a manner that any gases or odors that emitted from the material being burned inside the inner furnace would be burnt up before they could escape the outer cover. A novel design to make sure no one in the surrounding area would catch the smell of burning flesh.

    The strangest twist to the Holmes story has to be that he was originally arrested for faking the death of Ben Pitezel in order to claim then life insurance payout. He was never suspected of murder at any time he ran his hotel in Chicago or moved around the country afterwards running scam after scam. However, after insurance fraud investigators arrested him they discovered that he had actually killed Pitezel, but went so far as to acquire a cadaver and make it look like Pitezel. Even though the investigation of Holmes by Philadelphia detective Frank Geyer revealed that Holmes not only killed Pitezel, three of Pitezel's children, and countless women. He was only ever tried on the Ben Pitezel murder. He was immediately convicted and sentenced to death by hanging - a sentence that was swiftly administered. There never was an opportunity to bring him to trial for any of the other murders.

    Larson does an admirable job of paralleling the work of Burnham to build the World's Fair and the work of Holmes, but in trying to tackle both fascinating stories at the same time, he left me wanting to know more about both. I can understand structuring things as he did, and juxtaposing the drive of Burnham to build the fair with the psychopathic ambitions of Holmes does make for a great concept for the book. However, after finishing the novel I still feel like there is a lot more Larson could have said about both men and their endeavors.

    Regardless of its minor shortcomings, I highly recommend the novel. Highly detailed and exceedingly well documented for a historical work, The Devil in the White City also has the style and flourish of great storytelling. It is a fascinating book.

    Fasinating

    More Evidence Points to Meteor in Mass Extinction

    Oh, Slater, What Happened?

    Ali Landry and Mario Lopez Uncouple

    'Coffee and Cigarettes'

    I linked to the trailer for Coffee and Cigarettes a few weeks ago, indicating how enjoyable this film looked. Well, the The New York Times review of the film by A. O. Scott re-affirms my interest in the film. I know I'll never see this in the theaters, so I'm banking on renting this on DVD sometime in the future.

    This Changes Everything

    According to an Austrian doctor, everyone should pick their nose and eat snot to stay healthy.

    So Emma - keep digging for those boogies.

    My Brother

    He sure knows how to handle his balls.

    Kevin and His Magic Balls

    May 13, 2004

    Batman Begins Movie News

    The Chicago Film office has announced that the Chris Nolan-directed Batman Begins will be shooting in the city from July 31 until August 21. The office says that both Christian Bale and Michael Caine will be filming in Chicago at that time. There will be an extras casting call coming in mid-June.

    Would anyone notice if I just didn't show up at the office for the first three weeks of August?

    Abuse Less Shocking in Light of History

    I found this article from USA Today interesting. The basic position is that people shouldn't really be shocked at what has transpired in the Iraqi prisons. Not that they can't be outraged or angered by the events - torture is never justified - but don't be shocked at what happened. In stressful situations people will do strange and shocking things - things they never thought they would ever do, under any situation.

    What I found most fascinating about the article was its recounting of a psychology experiment conducted in 1971 where 24 college students from around the San Francisco Bay Area were recruited to pose as guards or inmates in a mock prison for two weeks. They were given very few orders and supervised very loosely.

    The result? The guards became more and more abusive, the inmates more and more cowed. At night, when the doctor conducting the experiment was gone, guards put bags over inmates' heads, stripped them of clothing and told them to simulate sex acts. Finally, after several inmates suffered emotional breakdowns, a the doctor stopped the experiment after six days. He, himself, shaken and disturbed at what was happening.

    Goes to show that it may not be the physical side of war that is so horrible, but rather the psychological effects of war that destroy men and women.

    Heather and Her Mom Will Be So Happy

    NBC Sets Stage for Fourth 'Law & Order'

    This fall there will be 4 Law & Order shows on NBC: "Law & Order," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent", and "Law & Order: Trial by Jury."

    The 20% of NBC's primetime lineup.

    May 12, 2004

    A Country of Lemmings

    Here's an interesting column from the New York Times illustrating once again that we've become a nation of people who prefer to be spoon-fed their information instead of learning the facts for themselves.

    Lie, and the Voters Will Believe

    Slow Blogging Day

    So lets spice it up with girls in strapless and backless bikinis:

    girls in backless and strapless bikinis
    Janine Newberry, right and Karen McKay model two new backless and strapless bikinis, on the King's Road in Chelsea London Wednesday May 12, 2004. The new bikinis are designed for sunbathing avoiding the marks caused by straps . They and are held in place with a gel compound at the sides. They will retail for US$ 43. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

    Ouch!

    This morning I had to pay $2.16 a gallon for self-serve regular gasoline. Not as bad as the photo below taken at a gas pump in California, but still, $2 for a gallon of gas is alarming. W and Dick Cheney better mobilize their oil buddies quickly and get those proces down. Aren't there some open cabinet positions or vacant judge chiars that need filling? Come on, W, call in some favors!

    picture $3.11 a gallon for gas at California gas pump

    May 11, 2004

    Elizabeth McKillip, ESQ.

    Loyola logoMy baby sister graduated from the Loyola University Law School - Cum Laude to boot - this past weekend. Ian and I made the hour drive from Aurora to the Loyola campus on the northside of Chicago. We got a late start, but still made it before the ceremony actually started - we just had to wait for all the graduates to file in. Loyola has a tradition by which graduates can have their diploma presented to them by Loyola Law School alumni - which my father is (class of 1972). Because Elizabeth chose to have Dad give her the diploma, we all got choice seats up close. Very nice. We got to see everything. My Dad looking proud. My sister looking nervous and excited. It was a nice time.

    Obviously, Ian wasn't going to sit still for an entire graduation ceremony, especially when the commencement speaker started drifting off into some sort of out-of-body experience while rambling about lawyers he may or may not have personally known. (It was very weird - don't ask) Luckily it was a beautiful day outside and the graduation exercises where being held in a building right next to a running track. I was able to take Ian out to stretch his legs and run off some steam. He ran two laps around the quarter-mile track. A half-mile! And he seemed to enjoy it. Heather thinks we need to get the boy into a track program. He just loves to run. Always have. I remember taking him on walks when he was 2 and he would just run and run and run and run. He's unstoppable.

    Elizabeth graduatesEventually we made it back in the building to catch the tail end of the ceremony and to have Ian be assaulted by Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine's grandson. Our seats were right behind the Devine family, who were there for Mr. Devine (a Loyola Law School grad) to present a diploma to his son who was graduating with my sister. Mr. Devine's grandson probably isn't even a year old, but he was active enough to turn around and grab Ian's glasses off his head. While his grandmother apologized, I explained that there wasn't anything to worry about. Ian's sister does it all the time at home.

    Then the ceremony was over. I congratulated my sister, took some pictures, and then got down to the business at hand: finding someone to unlock my car so I could get the keys out. In the rush at arriving at Loyola, Ian and I jumped out of the car without the keys. Luckily there was a mechanic's place about a block north of the campus. He was able to come down and get the car open in 60 seconds. Even though I paid the guys for his efforts, I felt bad about asking him for the work. He literally closed up his shop to come help me. Turned off the lights - locked the doors - the whole deal. Just to come help some guy from the suburbs unlock the door to his '96 Neon.

    Buca di Beppo logoAfterwards we celebrated (Elizabeth's graduation - not my newly unlocked car) at Buca di Beppo in the Pope Room. Buca is one of my Dad's favorite restaurants. They serve Italian food - Southern Italian to be specific - family style. It's a chain, but the food is good and the atmosphere is great. It's a lot of fun to eat at Buca di Beppo, especially if you can get one of their theme rooms all to yourself - which we did in this case.

    Although they had to sit out of the actually ceremony, Heather and the girls were able to join us - much to the pleasure of all the grandmothers present. My Dad made a speech, my brother entertained everyone from the bus boys up to my Grandfather, Ian got a cup of Coke that was bigger than his right arm, and I ate as much meat as I could. It was a good time for all I think.

    Congratulations Elizabeth. You've done a fantastic job in school. I'm particularly proud of everything that you have accomplished. I look forward to see you carve out what I know will be a successful career in the future.

    May 10, 2004

    Too Fat for Fun

    Found this little ditty in the Boston Herald: Tragedy may lead to weight restrictions

    A 5 foot 2 inch guy who weighed 230 pounds died while riding a roller coaster (he also had cerebral palsy). An investigation into the incident cited the ride attendant for not securing the safety harness completely and the victim for his girth and not telling anyone he had cerebral palsy.

    In response, Six Flags says they will tweak the ride to restrict riders who may be too large.

    Of course something like this will make someone mad, and in this case it's Sherry Collens-Eckert of the - I kid you not - National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. She's claims Six Flag's move to ensure a safe ride isn't fair. That "they shouldn't sell you a ticket in the first place if you can't enjoy what's going on."

    Hmmmm.

    Actually, Sherry, that's exactly what Six Flags should be doing. If your decades of double-fudge brownie breakfasts puts your life (and presumably the innocent bystanders below) at risk when boarding one of their rides, they shouldn't sell you a ticket. Six Flags has a greater responsibility then making you feel good about your flabbiness. Go home, buy an apple, and spend some time on a treadmill instead.

    Diggle Jiggles Strange

    In this Newsrama article, GETTING STRANGE WITH ANDY DIGGLE, you can see what writer Andy Diggle plans to do when DC Comics launches a new Adam Strange comic later this year. For those of you unfamiliar with the Adam Strange character, I'll quickly excerpt from the article, "Adam Strange was an archeologist who was zapped by the Zeta-Beam – an interstellar teleportation device – which transported him to the distant planet Rann, where he’d have Flash Gordon-style adventures, zipping around on a jet-pack and generally saving the planet."

    Now I find Diggle's writing on The Losers absolutely wind-blowing. It's one of the reasons The Losers is my favorite monthly comic being published right now (the other is the perfect pairing of art from Jock). Factor in that I'm a sucker for the old Sci-Fi pulp action heroes like Adam Strange and such and it's guaranteed that I'll be picking up a least one issue of the new Diggle penned Adam Strange tale.

    Hey, and the artwork from Pascal Ferry looks gorgeous. More reasons to check this one out.

    What a Difference 4 Years Make

    Last night I had the opportunity to get a picture of a double rainbow. It was the second such opportunity since moving into our current house in the spring of 2000. Besides the great look at a rainbow, comparing this picture with the one I shot in 2000 demonstrates how much our view from the backyard deck has changed in the last 4 years. Both shots were taken from roughly the same spot on the deck, looking in the same direction.

    2000 Rainbow2004 Rainbow


    You can view larger version of these pictures by venturing over to the Photos section of my site.

    What It's All About

    This is why I get up every morning, drag my ass on to a crowded train, and work in my little cube all day instead of chasing my dreams of being a Hollywood stunt man.

    Ian, Emma and Zoe


    You can see the full size photo in my Photos section.

    How Convenient

    Saudis Urge OPEC to Hike Oil Output

    Which would result in lower prices at the pump later this summer and early fall. Just in time for a Presidential election.

    Calvin Speaks the Truth

    This Calvin & Hobbes is as true today as it was back in 1993 when it was drawn.

    May 07, 2004

    Mickey on DVD

    Mickey Mouse DVD collection boxJust read the review for Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse In Living Color II over at DVDToons.com - one of my new favorite sites. This DVD looks like a really great collection of cartoons starring Mickey Mouse. There is a volume 1, but after reading throught the descriptions of both at Amazon.com, I think I'd learn towards owning Volume 2.

    Ever since Mickey became a corporate icon, it's difficult to find cartoon shorts starring him. That's what makes this collection so refreshing. It's a great reminder of what made the character so endearing and catapulted Walt Disney's animation company to the heights it has reached. A benefit of owning it would be able to prove Ian, Emma and Zoe that Mickey isn't just a picture on a t-shirt or a corporate huckster, but that he was a star of some fantastic, quality animation.

    Funny Stuff

    The Accidental Video Game Porn Archive

    People have taken screen shots from video games where it appears the characters in the game are participating in illicit sex acts.

    Stupid? Definitely.
    Silly? Yes.

    Holy Reversals!

    After outcry, bases escape 'Spider-Man 2' web

    No Spidey on the bases. MLB and Columbia Pictures scraps the idea after fans react very negatively. Other parts of the promotion will be unchanged. Movie trailers will be featured on stadium scoreboards, the logos will be placed in the on-deck circles, and fans attending the games will receive "Spider-Man 2" foam fingers and masks. Movie branding will also appear on a ceremonial pitching rubber and home plate -- both of which will be replaced with the standard white variety once play begins.

    Personally, I didn't think it was that big of deal. People make baseball out to be this celestial perfect pastime - a national treasure, when it's really nothing more than a money making machine for baseball owners and the players. Sure, it's fun to watch - a lot of fun, but don't make it anything more than what it is.

    As U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt put it, "As commissioner Selig discovered, we baseball fans will put up a fierce fight to protect our national pastime. Thanks to the support of fans today, America's pastime will remain pure tomorrow."

    Pure?! Pure for guys to demand $40 a year contracts? To pump themselves full of drugs so they can hit a ball farther and deman $50 a year contracts? For fans to pay $30 a ticket and $8 for a hot dog? Please. The only thing pure about baseball anymore is the cocaine in the locker room. Lift off the blinders man.

    May 06, 2004

    Going On's and Thoughts

    Disney's Home on the Range came out in theaters about a month ago, and even though it has received a lukewarm response from critics and movie patrons, Ian still really wanted to see it. He's very much his own man. Doesn't pay much attention to popular opinion or the so-called experts. If he sees something he likes, he goes for it. An admirable quality, I think.

    All through April Ian told anyone who would listen that he was going to see Home on the Range in the theater. He was intent on seeing this film. The problem was that Heather and I couldn't find time to take him - and we desperately wanted to. The kid hadn't been to a movie since last summer's Finding Nemo and he absolutely loved it - both the movie and the theater experience. Between Emma, Zoe, Easter, and other obligations, setting aside 2 hours out of the weekend to take Ian to the theater just wasn't going to happen (Emma's still too young to sit through a movie) - and we wanted to make it happen.

    That's where Dad came in. I mentioned to him about a week ago that Ian would love to go to the movies. Dad was more than eager to stop by Wednesday afternoon to whisk the boy off to the AMC 30. They had a great time seeing the film, playing some video game, and stopping at McDonald's for dinner. Heather and I felt good that Ian finally got to do something he was really looking forward to. The only person who missed out was Emma, who desperately wanted to play with Grandpa. Lucky for her, Grandpa stayed around for a while after bringing Ian home so they could all play.

    Thanks, Dad.

    Emma and Zoe might just kill me with their illness. Emma wakes up coughing and has to be coaxed back to sleep. Because of the gunk in her nasal passages, Zoe only seems to sleep soundly if you hold her while standing up. This all meant that I didn't get to sleep until after midnight, was walking with Zoe from 2:30am til a little after 4am, and my alarm went off at 5:15 am - the usual time. Needless to say I hit the snooze - a lot - and got into work about 45 minutes late today. Hopefully they both work through this cold quickly and maybe - just maybe - Ian won't get the same thing. We can only hope.

    This morning was beautiful. Low 60s, breezy and sunny. It's supposed to get up into the 80s today. It reminded me of when I used to work for the Wheaton Park District during the summers when I was in college. I really enjoyed getting up early and working all day outside. Cutting grass, digging ditches, building fences, painting everything, just whatever needed to be done. I always felt there was a sense of freedom and serenity in that type of manual labor. You're just outside working with your hands under the sun, getting all tired and sweaty, and finishing off the day being able to immediately see the fruits of labor. Then you just get to go home and relax. It makes for a great separation of work life and personal life. I mean, how many construction workers bring work home with them at night? If they need to get something done, they put in some overtime, get a little extra pay, and their done with it. They don't have to bring the sink and pipes home with them to try and assemble them on the kitchen table after the kids have gone to bed. There isn't anybody putting together fuse boxes on the train in the morning. I'd like that kinda freedom.

    Separated at Birth

    Sorry I couldn't find a picture to back this up, but those of you who know him will appreciate this.

    Separated at birth: my brother, Kevin and Dinosaur Jr. and the Folk Implosion band member, Lou Barlow

    This Day in History

    On May 6, 1937, the hydrogen-filled German dirigible Hindenburg burned and crashed in Lakehurst, N.J., killing 36 of the 97 people on board.

    Swing Baby, You're Platinum!

    For those of you in the Chicago area, this Saturday night WTTW - the local PBS station, will be airing the following:

    rat packOcean's Eleven Story
    Saturday, May 8 at 8 pm

    In 1960, Frank Sinatra and his infamous Rat Pack starred in the original Ocean's Eleven. During filming, the Rat Pack transformed America's city of sin, Las Vegas, into their personal playground. That glittering playground comes back to life with clips of Sinatra singing, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. trading barbs and footage of the Rat Pack with everyone from John F. Kennedy to Sam Giancana.


    I guess those of you not in the Chicago area can check your local PBS listings - whatever.

    Anyway, this looks really cool. Although, I have to admit I've never seen teh original Ocean's Eleven movie (though I saw the remake with Brad Pitt and George Clooney and loved that one), I love the Rat Pack boys for their swagger and their attitude. Seeing them tear up the Vegas strip would be a gas. Hopefully I can catch some of this.

    Mmmm . . . Free Food

    The Pobelly's restaurant in the building where I work is giving away free breakfast sandwhiches this morning (a $3 value). I got the sausage, egg and cheese sandwhich. It's all warm and toasty and on wonderful bread. Fills my tummy up nicely.

    This Year's Christmas Ornament

    Every year Heather and I buy one Christmas ornament to commemorate another holiday spent together married. I think I'll push for this ornament this Christmas.

    Star Wars christmas ornament
    Star Destroyer and Blockade Runner.

    May 05, 2004

    OUCH!

    x-ray image of guy with 6 nails in his head - he lived
    Six nails embedded in the skull of construction worker Isidro Mejia, after an industrial incident caused a nail gun to shoot nails into his head and brain on April 19, 2004, are seen in this X-ray image from Providence Holy Cross Hospital in Los Angeles. Five of the six nails were removed in surgery that day and the sixth was removed from his face on April 23, after the swelling went down. (AP Photo/photo released by Providence Holy Cross Medical Center)

    Holy Advertising Opportunities!

    During interleague games being played this June 11-13, logos for the new Spider-Man 2 movie will display on bases and on-deck circles in certain stadiums.

    And were not talking about TV super-imposing the image for the boob-tube viewing contingent. These logos will actually be put on the bases.

    It really doesn't bother me. Stuff like this is inevitable. Marketers are looking for more and more ways to reach the consumers. As long as the groups selling the space understand that a balance has to be struck to make sure they don't end up looking like the Vegas strip - or a NASCAR vehicle, things should work out fine.

    The Girls Are Sick

    Emma woke up with a cold Monday morning. Her nose was running everywhere and it's already moving into her chest. This morning Zoe woke with the same thing. Sneezy and coughing coming out of an almost-2-month old is sad and funny at the same time. Needless to say, Heather is going to have a rough day today.

    Considering: 1) that Emma and Zoe came down sick at nearly the same time and 2) last Wednesday my sister came over to babysit the two girls while Heather and Ian went on his school fieldtrip. I'm going to have to lay the full blame of these illnesses on the shoulders of my diesese infested sister, Elizabeth. She brought her bacteria and germ encrusted hands into our house, held our pristine, healthy daughters, and infected them with whatever Ebola virus happened to be thriving on her person that week.

    Thanks a lot.

    Payback will be swift and thorough, my sister.

    More Proof Apple People are Crazy

    Not only do people still use Apple Computer's failed Newton PDA, but they are blogging with it.

    I love Apple geeks.

    Poor Ted Rall

    He isn't making any friends with this cartoon.

    Some of the comments he received from the nearly 110 emails he received in 15 minutes after the cartoon was published on MSNBC.com: "You make me sick"; "lies and distortions"; "move to France"; "I pity you"; "disgusting"; "sad and pathetic"; "fuck you, you coward bastard"; "I will shit on your grave"; "horrendous"; "rot in hell"; "freak"; "I hope you're killed by an Arab terrorist attack"; "people died to publish the b.s. you do."

    Northsiders vs. Southsiders

    Chicago Cubs logoIt's a battle of epic proportions that spans the ages. Marriages have been broken over it. Countless lives have been lost. Ad revenues have benefited. Of course I'm talking about the classic of all classic rivalries: Northsiders vs. Southsiders - Chicago Cubs fans vs. Chicago White Sox fans.

    Chicago White Sox logoThis short flash presentation nicely defines the points along which the battle lines are drawn. Northsiders vs. Southsiders

    Thanks to my brother Kevin, a true-blue Northsider, for passing this along.

    May 04, 2004

    Watch `Scrubs'

    Chicago Tribune Television critic makes his argument that the next great sitcom is Scrubs. I couldn't agree with him more. The one things that has stopped me from watching this fantastic show more consistently over the last three seasons is its scheduling. Scrubs typically airs around the same time we're putting the kids to bed.

    The next great sitcom? Already, it's `Scrubs'

    Top 10: A Look Back

    Augie De Blieck Jr. does a much better job, in my opinoin, of explaining the appeal of Alan Moore's Top 10 than I did in this space about a week ago. Take read.

    Justice League Unlimited Update

    Justice League UnlimitedA the recent WonderCon Convention Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Stan Berkowitz and Dwayne McDuffie talked at length about the season 3 and 4 of the Justice League cartoon show on Cartoon Network.

    Justice League Unlimited will not only star Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the other JL'ers, but they will be joining by a rotating cast of heroes from the DC Universe.

    Timm and the others comments from WonderCon are pretty exciting. Looks like it's going to continue to be a quality animated show. Best of all it's just good to know that there isn't just one more season of JL, but actually two. That means 26 more episodes of DC cartoon goodness for me! Excellent.

    This is Sweet

    30 Fannie May stores to reopen

    Alpine Confections Inc., the company that aquired the Fannie May and Fanny Farmer brands, recipes, and company-owned stores, recently announced that they would be reopening 30 of those stores sometime this fall.

    Apparently they have already started making some of the candy and selling it online and through stores like Jewel and Dominick's (the two major grocery stores here in the Chicagoland area). This fall they'll bring the retail stores back in the suburbs.

    I looked at the list of 30 stores and the store that was nearest to our house isn't on the list, but there are still some stores close enough that Heather and I will be able to get our Fannie May candy this Christmas and cream eggs next Easter.

    This is great news.

    Batman Begins Script Review

    batman logoChris Ryall, editor-in-chief for Movie Poop Shoot, reviews the script for the new Batman movie, Batman Begins. To read what he has to say, things are looking very good for the movie. I know I made fun of the Batman Fanboy nation for declaring the resurrection of the Batman movie franchise after seeing one dark picture of Christian Bale in the Batman suit, but Chris makes the same claim and I'm not going to tease him about it. Chris got to read the script for the film. Because of this, I'll give his opinion (plus his ties and experience within the industry) more weight.

    After reading the script, Chris calls Batman Begins one of the best comic book movies ever. Considering the talent connected to the movie, there's no reason not to believe that the final product will deliver on that claim. Good stuff. Batman Begins is looking more promising the more I read and see.

    Now if I can get myself on to the set when they are filming here in Chicago this summer . . .

    Oh, Dear God!

    Paramount, who produces "Fraiser" recently had talks with NBC about developing a new series starring Kelsey Grammar as Dr. Fraiser Crane which would chronicle the next phase in Frasier's life. Supposedly the new series would involve none of the main characters from the previous "Fraiser" show.

    May 03, 2004

    Kissing Your Sister

    The Cubs pulled out the 7-3 win today, effectively splitting the 4-game series against the hated St. Louis Cardinals. Greg Maddux pitched impressively, even stealing a base and scoring two runs, to at least ease my mind that the old man hasn't lost it completely yet. The Cubs also knocked out 3 home runs as part of the 11 hits they tallied in the game, indicators that their bats have not completely gone dead.

    Still, the Cubs could have easily taken this series 4 - 0, instead of the kissing-your-sister-gross result of a 2-2 tie. I watched Hawkins walk in a run Friday night to break a 3-3 tie and give the games to the Cards and Farnsworth give up a game-winning double after walking 4 hitters to load the bases on Sunday. The fact is that over the last four games against the Cardinals, the Cubs bullpen has given up 38 walks in 7 and 2/3 innings of play. While the Cubs starters have only walked 4 in 30 innings pitched. That's astounding. The hitting might have been a little stale, but there was still a pulse at the plate. The starting pitching is rock solid. Clement, Woods, Zambrano, and Maddux have kept their team in every game. It's the bullpen that is ruining things for the Cubbies. If the Cubs hope to go deep into the post-season - hell, reach the post-season, then the boys in the bullpen better figure out where the plate is and either start throwing some strikes or get batters to swing at junk.

    I Don't Like Where This is Going

    There's always that one special trick - a way you hold the baby, a certain song, the vacuum cleaner - that is a sure-fire way to settle the kid down and possibly put them to sleep. For Ian it was rocking him gently while holding him in a fashion that if I had to have done it much longer than a few months, I would have ended up with forearms like Popeye. Emma just needed to scream for about 5 minutes and then she was good. She also seemed to like David Letterman.

    I'm a little concerned for Zoe. Heather claims to have found Zoe's surefire soothing technique, but I have been resistant to accept it as valid. I figured other things had to playing into factor: time of day or something simple like the motion being employed - not the larger technique.

    However, Saturday night was quickly becoming Sunday morning and I was getting tired. Zoe seemed set to stay up all night - crying no less - unless desperate measures were taken. I fired up the stereo, queued up Disc #3, and out came the warbling tones of Cher from her The Very Best of Cher collection. By the time Cher hit the first chorus of "I Found Someone," Zoe was sleeping soundly.

    Damn. Cher. I don't like where this is going.

    Cher

    I Like . . .

    Tina Fey
    Tiny Fey


    She's the first female head writer for 'Saturday Night Live and an attractive women. Funny and good looking, what's not to like.