June 30, 2004

Best Band and Song - EVER

Elektronik Supersonik

That's All I Needed to Hear

Kidman: Men Aren't Beating Down the Door

Nicole, I'll be right over.

I'm sure Heather will understand.

More Proof of the Decline of Western Civilization

Mom Threatens Chuck E. Cheese

"A teenager dressed as pizza mascot Chuck E. Cheese was pelted with pizza and threatened with a beating by an angry parent who said the mascot wasn't paying enough attention to her child, police said."

I won't even comment on this display of idiocy. I think it speaks for itself.

I'm Struggling Too

Stamos Struggles With Breakup of Marriage

I'm struggling to figure out why this is even a published story.

Good god, they even get Stamos to weigh in on Mary-Kate Olsen's recent treatment for a "health-related issue."

June 29, 2004

Stupid People

This is why I have second thoughts about taking the kids to public sporting events. It seems people have become more and more uncivilized and who wants to deal with these types of drunken idiots.

Chicago Tribune | Two charged with beating couple at White Sox game

Spiderman 2

spiderman 2 photoWhen the first Spiderman came out a few summers ago, I was interested in the film but didn't really have it on my "To Watch" list. Amazingly, Heather and I did get around to watching the film, and we both found it entertaining. As the launch of the Spiderman sequel has drawn near, I've found myself really no more interested than last time. I've been expecting another above average summer blockbuster - an entertaining way to kill two hours. But not anything I would be too eager to see. (That's next year with Star Wars: Episode III and Batman Begins)

However, the reviews for the film are starting to come out today on the eve of the film's release. The New York Times likes it, Rolling Stone like it, and Roger Ebert loves the film. Ebert gives Spiderman 2 four stars and heaps on the praise: "It's a real movie, full-blooded and smart, with qualities even for those who have no idea who Stan Lee is. It's a superhero movie for people who don't go to superhero movies, and for those who do, it's the one they've been yearning for."

All the reviewers talk about the narrative maturity of the film and how Spiderman 2 is as much a love story between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson as it is an over-the-top summer blockbuster. I must say, after reading the reviews today and the article in Newsweek last week, I'm moving this film up on the "To Watch" list.

June 25, 2004

These Are Gonna Look SWEET On Our DVD Shelf

Yes, I'm a Star Wars geek. I don't care. I love the films and everything they represent.

Lucasfilm release pictures of what the packaging for each individual DVD will look like for the upcoming Star Wars Classic Trilogy release. They designed the boxes to match the styles of the already released Episodes I and II DVDs to give the entire saga a unified look. On the actual DVD they are using the artwork from the movie posters used to promote the original theatrical releases of the films. Wicked cool!

Take a look:
[ Inside the Box: Star Wars DVDs ][ Inside the Box: Star Wars DVDs ]
[ Inside the Box: Star Wars DVDs ][ Inside the Box: Star Wars DVDs ]
[ Inside the Box: Star Wars DVDs ][ Inside the Box: Star Wars DVDs ]
[ Inside the Box: Star Wars DVDs ][ Inside the Box: Star Wars DVDs ]

Crosstown Classic

Cubs logoWell before the invent of interleague play, the annual Crosstown Classic between the Cubs and the Sox was always a big deal. Baseball bragging rights in Chicago were on the line. What I always found disappointing about the classic was that it was techinically an exhibition game. Therefore you might get the starters for the first few innings, but by the 5th or 6th innings the players on the field were almost all minor leaguers trying to prove that they belonged in the big leagues.

Once MLB introduced interleague play, not only did it give the Cubs and Sox more opportunity to play each other - it forces them to go for the win, not just try out new talent. So now I can look forward to a real great series this weekend and next, when the Cubs and Sox square off. First at Commisky (U.S. Cellular Field) this weekend, then in Wrigley Field next weekend. Both teams are in 2nd place in their respective divisions and both have a very good chance of making it far into the playoffs.

Sox logoWhen push comes to shove, I'm a Cubs fan; but I'm really enjoying having both ball teams contending this year. It means any Chicago ball game I can find on TV will be a good one. It also means these guys will really be playing for keeps these next two weekends. Nobody wants a bad series against the crosstown rival to be the beginning of the end for their run for the pennant.

Wouldn't Suprise Me If He Did . . .

Cheney Utters 'F-Word' in U.S. Senate?

June 21, 2004

That's My Brother

The Chicago Tribune posted a review of the play my brother is currently in. Overall the reviewer seemed to really like the show - though he seems less than thrilled with the scenery.

For my money, the only important part of the review is at the end of the review, " In the title role, the handsome Kevin McKillip goes for the emotional approach, treating Hamlet like a regular guy in a constant emotional crisis, mostly eschewing any interpretation involving irony or intellectual manipulation. The downside of this is a certain repetitiveness and insufficient sense of the level of ideas in play, but its upside is a palpable vulnerability and a clear link to human feeling.

Either way, McKillip kept the audience with him all night, no mean feat given the nipping and eager air."

Way to go Kevin.

Father's Day

Now that was a nice Father's Day. Probably my nicest one to date.

It started out right when Heather, bless her heart, let me sleep until 8 am. I know it might not sound like a lot, but when you're kids usually start waking up around 5:30 am, that's a big deal. With three kids under 5, we probably do more parenting by 8 am then most parents do all day. Getting to sleep through that would have been a perfect gift. But things got better.

looney tunes dvdIan, Emma, and Zoe (Heather, too) woke me up a little after eight with a little homemade coffee cake and orange juice in bed. Remember, three kids means no time for fancy breakfasts - but homemade coffee cake will do fine in a pinch. While Ian wished me an enthusiastic "Happy Father's Day," Emma kept on shouting "Surprise Daddy!" over and over in the best sweetest little daughter voice a Dad could ask for.

If that wasn't enough, they got me a present too. The Looney Tunes Golden Collection, a 4-DVD set collection 56 fully restored Looney Tune cartoons. We cracked that open quickly and Ian, Emma and I all flopped onto the couch and enjoyed some classic cartoons severed up properly. Not only are the cartoons a blast, but there are some great features on these discs as well. Ian and Emma aren't too interested in them, but when I get the chance to view things on my own, I plan to delve into the documentaries and commentaries contained within.

The rest of the day was a relaxing day at home. No obligations to be anywhere, no work that had to be done, and no shopping that had to be done. Emma and Zoe both laid down for their nap at the same time, so Heather got in a full two-hour plus nap. Ian and I just hung out, watching some more Looney Tunes and just playing. I got to watch most of the Cubs game, a great 5-3 victory over the Oakland A's.

Later my Dad and sister stopped by and I grilled some potatoes and t-bone steaks on the grill. Very tasty indeed.

All in all a very nice day. Thank you Heather for making this Father's Day so enjoyable. You've raised the bar for Mother's Day next year - and considering my lack luster effort this year on Mother's Day, I've got a long way to go before May 8, 2005.

Wicked Cool

SpaceShipOne was the first private rocket plane to fly in space. It marks the first commerical manned space flight. It was only for about 3 minutes, but it is historic none the less.

Next stop - commerical flights to the Moon.

Here's Comes Another One

We've been hit with one big storm after another all spring. I would have hoped the first day of summer would have changed things.

Apparently not.

(ignore the little navigate icon on the map - it doesn't work)

radar image

Animated Star Wars on DVD?

Star Wars logoLook at this little tidbit I stumbled across on the DVDToons.com website:
Among the interesting bits of information is word that the first and second series of Star Wars: Clone Wars animated shorts will hit DVD in the first quarter of 2005. Also of interest (but not DVD related): the Episode III teaser trailer will debut in November, the first full trailer for the film will arrive in theaters in April 2005, and the word "Revenge" keeps appearing on marketing materials, prompting renewed speculation that Star Wars: Episode III will be called Revenge of the Sith. Finally, a live action Star Wars TV series may premiere in 2006.
Who knows how reliable this rumor is, but it is a juicey one. Animated Clone Wars DVD next spring. And hints that Episode III might be called Revenge of the Sith, mirroring nicely the title of Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and playing of the original working title of Episode VI: Revenge of the Jedi.

June 18, 2004

Whiteout: Melt - Review

Whiteout Melt coverWhiteout: Melt is the follow up to Greg Rucka's and Steve Lieber's original Whiteout series. Both books are action/thrillers starring Carrie Stetko, a U.S. Marshal stationed in Antarctica. Both books are also great reads. As any regular reader of this blog should know, I think Greg Rucka is an excellent writer - especially when he's writing action/suspense stuff, and especially when he's got a strong female lead. Whiteout: Melt is no exception. Carrie is an engaging, entertaining character that you root for immediately and the story is tightly and perfectly plotted. Steve Lieber is masterful in his art chores. He vividly conveys the coldness, bareness, and dirtiness of Antarctica. These two creators were the perfect match for this series of books.

Sounds like I loved everything about the book, doesn't it? Well, I didn't. Whiteout: Melt was way too short. Things are so tightly plotted - the action moves so fast - that the story is over just as you're getting comfortable with it. I WANT MORE CARRIE STETKO! I like reading about her. She's a fun character. I wanted this book to go on and on. Tell me what Carrie does next, and then what she does after that, and where does she goes, and . . .

Sign of a good writer: creates a character that you want to learn more and more about.

Of course that really isn't a complaint about the art, just a wish that there was more Whiteout to read. Rucka and Lieber had told the story they wanted to tell and they were done. There wasn't a need for anything more and they didn't pack anything un-necessary to the story into the comic. It's a book boiled down to the essentials. A lean and mean entertainment machine.

Whiteout: Melt, like its predecessor Whiteout, is an excellent comic. Like comic writer Brian Bendis says in his forward, "I always find myself wishing that (Whiteout) was the standard of comics, not the exception. Not the needle in the haystack. Wouldn't that be a wonderful state of affairs?"

Yes, it would.

Donald Duck To Get Walk of Fame Star

donald duckFrom the BBC: Disney character Donald Duck is among 32 new additions to the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Antonio Banderas, James Doohan - Scotty in Star Trek - and Frasier's David Hyde Pierce are also named alongside singers Rod Stewart and Billy Joel.

All will have stars unveiled in 2005 - provided they turn up for the ceremony.

However, this rule will not apply to Donald Duck or the dead stars - including Gone with the Wind producer David O Selznick - who will be recognised posthumously.

Dude, This Is Totally Narly!

They've built a computer into a surfboard that allows the user to surf the web while surfin' the waves.

Surfer Surfin' the Web on Surfboard

Who'd a Thunk It?

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story seems to be getting favorable reviews and more favorable reviews. I've found the trailer and T.V. commercials funny, but still figured that in the end this would be a dumb movie despite the draw of Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, and the unstoppable Rip Torn. I'm glad to see that this might be a genuinely funny film.

Going to move this on to the "must see" list. Which means I'll probably see it sometime in the next 2 to 5 years.

Elvis Is In My Freezer

Heather came home from the grocery store earlier in the week with this:

Elvis Ice Cream

My wife is so good to me!

Ian thinks the ice cream is "awesome!"

June 17, 2004

Ain't It The Truth


Thanks Ed

The Killer Angels - Review

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara was a book that I've been pushing around for years. My dad gave it to me for Christmas seven or eight years ago, but up to this point I had never read it. Even though I've always found the American Civil War (and early American history in general) fascinating and this book is suppose to be exceptional, I just never broke the spine on this one. For whatever reason, when I was queuing up books to read this year I stumbled up The Killer Angels and decided it was time to take the plunge. Now I wish I had read it sooner, it would have given me more opportunities to re-read the novel by this point.

Killer Angels coverThere's no denying the quality of the book, it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1974 and just a few pages in you quickly learn to appreciate the exhaustive research Shaara has put into this novel. Shaara's characterizations of the main players makes history truly come alive. It's easy to forget that you are reading a historical novel. Never before have the people, places and events of history seemed more alive and exciting. Usually I do my reading on the train ride in to work in the morning, and sleep/listen to music on the ride home at night. When I hit the halfway point in this book I found myself forgoing my afternoon nap so I could continue reading Shaara's engaging writing. Even though I already new the outcome of the battle and the ramifications of the South's defeat there, I still couldn't put the book down. I wanted to read what happened next like it was story brand new to me. That's powerful writing.

Probably one of the best examples of Shaara's powerful writing is his telling of the charge of the 20th Maine on the second day of fighting. Lead by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain (who eventually rose to the level of General and was chosen by Ulysses Grant to accept the Southern surrender by General Robert Lee at Appomattox), this regiment successfully held the Union's left flank against four regiments of Rebel soldiers culminating in a courageous charge by Chamberlain's men when they had run out of ammunition. Not only did the 20th Maine defend the position, they drove the Southern soldiers back - solidifying the Union's position on the left. Reading that left me breathless. Shaara not only gets you inside Chamberlain's head and the pressure of having to defend the flank of the Union army all by himself, but the intensity and brutality of the battle are vividly recreated.

I've read plenty about the Civil War. I know about the battles, the dates, and the principal players; but it wasn't until after reading Shaara's The Killer Angels that I knew the people involved in the war. Besides Chamberlain, I developed a new respect for General James Longstreet of the South and General John Buford of the Union army. Longstreet for his struggle to reconcile what he thought being a good solider meant and his relationship with General Lee; and Buford for remaining unheralded for doing the one thing that probably helped the Union eventually win the Battle of Gettysburg - choosing the right ground to defend from when he was first to arrive in Gettysburg and the Southern army was headed that way.

One last thought: a theme that Shaara threads through the novel is: what is the South fighting for? Slavery? Pride? Freedom? No one seems to know. Everyone seems to have a different answer. Even among the high-ranking generals over the Rebel army the answer would be different. I found this particularly interesting and something that I had not seen explored before.

Now I'm seriously considering Michael's son Jeff Shaara's companion books to The Killer Angels; Gods and Generals, which follows the same principal players up to the Battle of Gettysburg, and The Last Full Measure, which continues where The Killer Angels left off - with General Lee's retreat from Pennsylvania and continues through to the end of the war. Both books have been well reviewed - almost as well as The Killer Angels. Hopefully it doesn't take me ten years to get around to them.

The Killer Angels is a fascinating novel. Everyone should read it. The best novel I've read this year. Highly Recommended.


double-decker bus loses top portion when it tries to go under bridge
A double-decker bus owned by Double Deck Tours Limited, based in Niagara Falls, Ontario, is shown on River Road after it sheared its roof off trying to pass under the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge linking Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Niagara Falls, N.Y., Tuesday, June 15, 2004. More than a dozen tourists from Japan were injured. None of the injuries was serious, authorities said. (AP Photo/Harry Rosettani)

Here's An Encouraging Report

Study Says U.S. Trails in Family Time Off

Synopsis: U.S. workers have fewer legal rights to time off for family matters than workers in most other countries, and rank near the bottom in pregnancy and sick leave, according to a recent Harvard School of Public Health study.

June 16, 2004

Here's Comes Johnny DC

To help better identify and brand DC Comics' all-ages comics, they are bringing back an icon of old: Johnny DC:

Johnny DC

The newly designed Johnny DC icon will be incorporated in the covers of such DC Comics as: Batman Strikes, Justice League Unlimited, Looney Tunes, Powerpuff Girls, Scooby-doo, and Teen Titans GO!

It will look something like this:

Justice LEague Unlimited cover

Personally I think it's a great move by DC. It brings all of their comics geared towards children under one quickly identifiable banner, making it much easier for retailers and parents to understand whom the comic is appropriate for.

That's What I'm Talkin' About

Chicago cubs logoGreat Cubs game last night. Wish I could have watched more of it. I saw the third inning homer to put the Cubs up 1-0, but then missed much of the middle innings because I was giving the kids their baths and getting them ready for bed. I got to turn the game back on in the 6th, only to learn that Houston had pulled out to 2-1 lead.

Then I suffered through the Cubs pitchers repeatedly putting runners on base but then somehow managing to escape without giving up any runs.

The ninth inning was a joy to watch as the Cubs sent hitter after hitter up to the plate. Then LaTroy Hawkins pitched well in the bottom of the ninth to seal the victory.

The best part of the game's outcome has to be on the standings. It moved the Cubs into a tie for second in the NL Central with the Reds. Now the Cubs are only two games behind the division leading Cardinals. The NL Central is unbelievable tight so far this season, so I always feel more comfortable with the Cubs only 2 to 3 games out of first - if they're not leading the division out-right. That way it still feels like the Cubs are within striking distance of winning the division.

If the season ended today, the Cubs would get the NL Wild Card spot, but we haven't even gotten to the all-star break yet. It's much too soon to be talking about wild cards. Right now I want to see the Cubs sweep through the Astros and for Oakland to pound the Cardinals.

You Go Chauncey!

I probably only saw about 5 minutes of the NBA Finals - mostly just checking the score during commericals of the 10 o'clock news or Futurama on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. But I can't help be happy to see the Pistons beat the hated L.A. Lakers and to have a guy named Chauncey Billups win the NBA Finals MVP award.

June 15, 2004

Supply Your Own Caption

I've been sitting on this image all day, trying to come up with some witty little quote to include with it. The day is quickly drawing to the end and I just want to be done with this. So, here it goes . . . .

Naked People Playing Rugby
naked rugby

Thank you and have a nice night. Don't forget to tip your waitress.

Blonde Joke

I usually find blonde jokes pretty stupid - not funny. However, my grandfather sent this one along today and I did enjoy it. So I've decided to share.

A blonde pushes her BMW into a gas station. She tells the mechanic it died.

After he works on it for a few minutes, it is idling smoothly. She says, "What's the story?" He replies, "Just crap in the carburetor."

She asks, "How often do I have to do that?"

I Can Smell the Melodramatic Shlock From Here

A&E and GRB Entertainment ("Next Action Star") are teaming for a series chronicling the real-life stagings of interventions.

A&E has ordered six one-hour episodes of "Intervention," a series greenlit to development earlier this year (Daily Variety, March 3) that compels people to confront their inner demons.

Each hour follows a pair of people afflicted with serious issues, as well as their friends and families who are organizing to intervene.

Senior VP of programming Robert DeBitetto said the series would delve into more unusual cases of addiction.

"When people think of an intervention, drug addiction and alcoholism are the first things that come to mind. That's not always the case," he said, describing one of the subjects as a compulsive gambler. Other people profiled may include shopaholics, videogame addicts and estranged family members.

No airdate for "Intervention" has been set, but DeBitetto said the series could premiere as early as fourth quarter this year. A&E's Dubuc and Robert Sharenow ("House of Dreams") exec produce. John Drimmer and Sam Mettler produce for GRB.

(as reported by Daily Variety)

Yahoo! Fires Back at Gmail

Today when I logged into my Yahoo! Mail Account I was greeted with this happy message:

Dear Yahoo! Mail User,

Thanks for using Yahoo! Mail. It's our goal to offer you an email experience that makes it easy and enjoyable to stay in touch. Periodically, we make service changes to enhance that experience for our users. As of June 15, 2004, you'll enjoy the following benefits:

* Increased storage capacity - from your current level to 100MB
* Increase in total message size to 10MB
* A streamlined interface that's even easier to use

You will continue to access your Yahoo! Mail account as usual. No further action is required, and there will be no interruption of your service.

We hope you enjoy the new features and benefits. If you have any questions, please visit our Help page. Thanks again for using Yahoo! Mail.

The Yahoo! Mail Team

So - they've increased email storage capacity and increased the size of the emails I can send. The streamlined interface so appears to be some minor tweaking of the GUI, but mostly a reduction in the amount of graphical ads. Yahoo! is still running the leaderboard banner at the top, but now they are have text links in the left-hand nav where they used to have small graphical ads.

As I stated a few weeks ago in my review of Gmail, I still prefer Yahoo! Mail over what Google is providing. So Yahoo! really didn't have to do anything to keep my business. However, the changes Yahoo! has implemented are nice. The free email war is heating up and already I'm benefiting. Perfect.

No! No! No! No!

INXS is one of my favorite bands. I listen to their albums all the time.

Michael Hutchence will always be the voice of INXS. I believe that it was his voice and presence that made the band so fantastic for me. To try and replace Michael, in my opinoin, would not only be impossible - but plain wrong. You can't have INXS without Michael Hutchence!

However, the rest of INXS apparently disagrees with me. Not only are they looking for a permenant replacement for Michael, they've asked "Survivor" creator Mark Burnett to create a reality show for them to find the new INXS frontman through.

I don't want to see this.

June 14, 2004

The Long Weekend

I took off last Thursday and Friday from work, creating another nice long weekend for myself. The main reason was so that Heather and I could go out and celebrate nine years of marriage. Our anniversary was Thursday, June 10th.

DuPage Children's MuseumWe spent the first half of the day celebrating with the children. That meant an exciting trip to the DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville. Now I had never been there, though Ian and Heather have visited it many times. In fact, before Emma came along, we had a season pass to the museum. Needless to say, Ian was very excited to get to go to the museum, and after seeing it for myself I understand why. The place is a blast. There are more fun things for kids to do there then I have ever seen housed under one roof in my life. The place may be a madhouse of little kids, but they're having so much fun that it doesn't bother me to be in there with them.

Ian and Emma had a great time playing in the water exhibits, working the over-sized tinker toys, and exploring the black light display. Zoe enjoyed a nap on my shoulder.

Hopefully when Zoe get a little older we can get a season pass again, allowing Heather to take the kids on a more regular basis. They really do have a lot of fun there. Hell, I'd like to go back on a regular basis myself.

To top off the trip to the museum we stopped at McDonald's for lunch. That alone is reason for Ian to celebrate. To couple it with a trip to the Children's Museum only capped a super-fun morning for the boy. I think Emma enjoys anything she is doing, as long as she's with Ian when she's doing it.

After some naps for the girls, my mother and sister came over to baby-sit the kids while Heather and I went out to celebrate on our own.

Meson SabikaFor our anniversary last year my father had given us a gift certificate to Meson Sabika, a Spanish restaurant in the tapas style in Naperville. Heather thought it fitting that we use my dad's gift from the 8th anniversary to celebrate the 9th.

We had reservations to sit outside, but for the first time in nine years of celebrating the day we were wed, the weather did not co-operate with us. We were forced to eat indoors. Not that it was a problem; Meson Sabika is inside a mansion originally built in 1847 and beautifully restored. After treating ourselves to some of their premium martinis (I got the cosmo blanco, Heather had a key lime martini), we ordered generously from the menu. We took great joy in eating tapas style - it's pretty much an open invitation to order a mess of different things and to fill up your table with food. We even ordered dessert - an item we usually pass on.

We both agreed that the food was exceptional. I think we both picked the Montaditos De Solomillo Y Tocino, beef tenderloin tips wrapped in bacon with pears and a red wine sauce, as our favorite item, though I really enjoyed the Salmón Al Horno. It was a filet of salmon baked and served over on a bed of creamed leeks and celery root. It is definitely a restaurant we would highly recommend to others and one we hope to visit again in the future.

Because the weather was so horrible when we were done with dinner, we didn't get to enjoy the usual evening walk we take on our anniversary. Hopefully the weather will hold for us next year when we celebrate a decade of marriage.

And that was just Thursday.

Friday I don't remember too much about, but I think it involved a lot of work around the house. Heather got some things done - including packing up her maternity clothes to be put away FOR THE LAST TIME. I was able to treat the foundation of our house with diazinon. A product apparently no longer made by Ortho - from whom I purchased the bottle of concentrate last year. It does a superb of job of keeping ants and other insects from entering our house. However, I don't have enough to treat the house again next spring. Looks like I'll have to try their Bug-b-Gon product, the obvious successor to their diazinon product.

Saturday we attended a really great engagement party for my sister and her future husband Patrick. Patrick's parents hosted the party and it was a lot of fun. The spread of food was most impressive. Best moment for me was having Ian walk through the crowded house with only his t-shirt on asking me where his underpants were.

(A little back-story here. A swimming pool had been set up, which Ian obviously took part in. When the party moved inside, I put Ian in the bathroom with all his clothes and instructed him to get dressed. Apparently he couldn't find his underpants - which were inside his shorts - and decided to look for me for help. Hence Ian in all his 4-year old glory walking through the dining room calling for his dad.)

Sunday was another party - this one closer to home. The daughter of one of our neighbors, who Ian also attended pre-school with, was celebrating her 5th birthday party. Again, good food and good company made for an enjoyable time out of the house. What made this party so nice was that when Zoe got sleepy, I just needed to walk across the street and lay her down in her own crib. No holding the baby for an hour while she napped made things very nice.

It was a busy four days, but I feel like we were able to balance things nicely. We got work done around the house, get out and socialize, and still found some time to rest too. That doesn't happen very often. Of course, I usually don't get four days at home very often.

Newsweek On The Set of Batman Begins

Batman logoIn this week's Newsweek, Devin Gordon reports from the set of Batman Begins. Not too much report. The article deals more with how this Batman movie is striving to be different from the previous one (a good thing). However, there are two nice little photos in the online version of the article. I wonder if there will be more in the print version of the story. I guess I'll see when our Newsweek arrives today or tomorrow.

Batman Begins photo

This is Too Cool

apple logoThe new Apple G5 runs so fast that Apple technicians had to devise a new way to cool the computer. The solution is a new liquid cooling system that not only cools the machine perfectly, but it also significantly reduces the noise of the usually associated with a computer cooling system.

Check out this little animation showing how it all works. They run liquid over the processors to pick up the heat, and then loop the liquid out over a radiant grille where a fan pushes air across the it, cooling it down to its original temperature.

Auntie Em! Auntie Em!

That's one big-ass storm a comin'. Click the radar image to see a larger version.

(ignore the little navigate icon on the map - it doesn't work)

radar image

June 13, 2004

Come On Steve!

While I think everything Steve Jobs has done for Apple is fantastic and visionary in nature, the one decision I have never agreed with his insistence that only the Apple Computer company can make hardware that operates on the Apple OS. I would love to have something like this FlipStart computer, but not if it meant using the Microsoft OS.

Come on Steve, cut the apron strings. Apple can still grab more of the OS market, just allow other companies to create innovative new pieces of hardware that can exploit all the great aspects of your OS.

picture of FlipStart handtop computer

June 10, 2004

Happy, Happy Day

Star Wars logoWhat a great anniversary present to me from the kids at Lucasfilm. This coming March the Clone Wars Micro-Series will continue on the Cartoon Network with 5 new episodes.

And this time the episodes will be 12 minutes long. That's four times longer than last time.

I can't wait. Though, this will most certainly delay when these animated shorts are released on DVD - something I've been looking forward to. Not a problem. I can wait. It's not like I have a ton of time to sit around and watch DVD's right now anyway.

June 09, 2004

Batman Begins News

Batman logoGary Oldman, who's set to play Lt. Jim Gordon, spoke to the Sunday Herald Sun, saying, "It's a $200 million art movie, character driven. I'm on a roll with good guys now, I'm trying to put those nasty people behind me.'" Additionally, Moviehole has a rumor that Steve Buscemi is being looked at as the Joker for a proposed sequel to the still-filming Chris Nolan Bat flick.

This report thanks to The Comic Reel.

Steve Buscemi as the Joker? That would be one ugly Joker. Though Buscemi would be perfect for capturing the completely insane nature of the Joker.

June 08, 2004

Wicked Cool

Apple anounced a new product that will allow users of iTunes to stream music from their computer straight to their stereo system. Wicked cool idea.

All you need is the new AirPort Express, an AirPort-enabled computer, and a version of iTunes to be released later this week. AirPort Express will sell for $129, and like other Apple products, is obscenely easy to setup and install.

Classic Star Wars Trilogy Trailer

Star Wars DVD imageI just got to watch the trailer for the classic Star Wars trilogy DVD collection this morning. It's is only available to Hyperspace members. If you are a member, go view the trailer now. Otherwise, sucks to be you. Maybe if Lucasfilm makes it available to the general public I'll link to it again.

It's about 3 minutes long with plenty of shots from the episodes IV, V, and VI. Truth be told, the trailer really gets me all jazzed up to see the movies again. The trailer also shows little clips from all the extras that will fill up the fourth disc in the collection. Not only will there be some great documentaries about the making of the movies (which, by the way, if these documentaries are half as good as what were done from the Indiana Jones DVD boxed set, then the Star Wars pieces will be amazing.), but also scenes from the up-coming Episode III. There is a little of Episode III in the trailer - about ten seconds worth total. Pretty much just an angry looking Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and then some clips of Hayden and what looks like Ewan McGregor rehearsing a lighsaber duel. But it's a glimpse nonetheless.

Cool stuff my friend. September 21st can't come soon enough.

June 07, 2004

The Phantom Sundays

Phantom cover artGraham Nolan was the artist on Detective Comics for a good part of the 90's. I thought he drew a fantastic Batman. Nolan's Batman embodied the Knight aspect of one of Batman's popular nicknames, the Dark Knight. Nolan left DC comics in 2000 to go draw the adventures of The Phantom in the Sunday comic strips.

Moonstone, who is the only company putting out an American published comic book version of the Phantom, recently announced that they would be collecting the Nolan drawn Phantom stories into two trade paperbacks. The combination of Nolan artwork and the Phantom make this an enticing book to pick up. This rough cover sketch helps also.

Weekend Update

Sometimes life at home feels like a runaway train where Heather and I are holding on for dear life.

Ian came down with another cold on Thursday. This meant running noses and coughing going into the weekend and the stress of wondering the other show would drop and Emma would start coughing (btw: that came Saturday). When Ian and Emma are sick, I get even less sleep. I'm still on Ian-Emma Nighttime Patrol exclusively until Zoe starts sleeping more regularly. Although Heather helped me out Saturday night after Emma was awake for a looooooooooong time. After going to bed at 8:30pm, she was up from 9:45 to 11:45pm, and from 1 to 2am. Heather jumped in and handled Emma in order to let me sleep a bit sometime between 2am and 5:30am when Emma woke up. I got up with Emma at 5:30am when she decided she was up for the day.

I don't know how Emma does it.

Heather let me go back to sleep at 6:30am when she got up with Zoe, and I promptly slept until 8:30am.

Last night when marginally better.

I know it isn't true, but it sure feels like Ian and Emma have been sick with a cough every other week since brining Zoe home. In actuality, it's only been two colds. It's just that having the newborn and nursing Ian and Emma back to health suck up about 105% of our energy.

Despite the illness and the lack of sleep, Heather and I did get a lot of things accomplished around the house this weekend. I was nice to have a free weekend finally after 4 straight busy weekends in a row. Everything from getting the oil changed in the cars to finally getting the table set up on the deck was finally crossed off the "to do" list. It was a good feeling.

Despite being busy with lots of work around the house, I even found time to catch some of the Cubs game on Sunday. A treat I haven't been afforded in some time. I also got to watch most of an old film called Two Sisters From Boston, starring June Allyson, Kathryn Grayson, Jimmy Durante, and Peter Lawford. I never heard of the film before, but the credits started running at the beginning and I liked the names I saw. Plus, considering it was part of TCM's Syncopation Station showcase, I knew it would be all-bad. Even bad musicals can be fun.

Two Sisters From Boston imageDurante stole nearly every scene he was in. I absolutely loved him. Can't say that I've ever actually seen Durante in a film before. My exposure to him up to this point was pretty much limited to his turn as the narrator in the TV Christmas classic "Frosty the Snowman" and hearing him sing a few songs. I'd never seen him act in a film.

In fact, Durante had two great quotes in the movie. (One only works in context of the story, but the other can work anywhere)

Durante to persistent suitor for the star of his musical review: "She's married and got 10 kids - and I'm the oldest! Get the picture!"

Durante expressing his frustration during a rehearsal: "Other people get results. I get consequences!"

I love old movies.

The best part of the weekend (and I say the sarcastically) came on Saturday when my notice to report for jury duty arrived. I don't mind serving; it's no big deal. I just have to question to competency of the Jury Commissioners of Kane County when they want you to fill out and return a jury survey by June 6th and they don't get the survey to you until June 5th. Never mind that June 6th is a Sunday.

In the end though, I'm not sure if I'll even get picked to serve. On the survey, the last question asks if any of my relatives, friends, or neighbors work in any of 7 listed professions. I was able to circle 5 of them. They included:

Judge - my dad and uncle
Lawyer - my sister
Doctor - my stepfather
Nurse - my aunt
Law Enforcement Office - my uncle and his two sons (my cousins)

I can't remember the two professions I wasn't able to circle, but it really doesn't matter. I mean, is any attorney going to select the son of a judge to serve on his jury? Maybe I'm wrong. We'll find out starting June 28th when I will be fulfilling my civic duty.

Don't Destroy Our Heroes

Can't the news media cover stories like this up? Why crush the tens of ten people who still love and andore Mr. Hasselhoff. Don't destroy their heroes.

David Hasselhoff Arrested

This is How to Move Children

Put handles on 'em

sumo wrestler carrying young child

June 04, 2004

Politics in Illinois

The hand of Richard J. Daley reaches out from the grave: Legal Glitch Snarls Bush's Spot on Illinois Ballot

This is So Bad It's Funny

Now, lets get something straight right from the start - I'm not making fun of the horrible tragic murder of Laci Peterson. There's nothing funny about that.

However, John Strand felt he needed to write a song as a memorial for Laci, even though he had never met the woman. That's where the funny comes in. The sum total of his musical talents was this: Remembering Laci

"I feel it's a song of comfort," Strand said in a recent article.

Yeah, comforting for dogs maybe, but your singing, lyrics, and musical arrangement are making my ears bleed.

Frustrations of a Comic Book Buyer

I'm currently reading JLA: Another Nail, the follow-up to Alan Davis' JLA: The Nail from about 5 or 6 years ago. I absolutely loved The Nail and was very excited last year when it was announced Davis was going to create a sequel.

JLA: The Nail coverBoth stories are 3-issue mini-series. I bought all three issues of the original The Nail and the first issue of Another Nail came out about two weeks ago - which I bought, read, and enjoyed a great deal.

The first series was eventually collected in a trade paperback collection - but I never gave it much thought. I had the original individual issues in my collection. When Another Nail was announced I contemplated whether to buy the individual issues or wait for the inevitable collection. The benefits of waiting for the collected edition would be that I would have the complete story all at once (no waiting 30 days for the next installment), but more importantly the collected editions are usually cheaper then buying each issue individually. The savings aren't huge, but as my comic budget becomes tighter and tighter, it's something I pay more attention to.

In the end, I decided for the individual issues because 1) it would nicely balance how I bought and colleted the first series, and 2) I could read the series as it came out. I wouldn't be waiting months or maybe a year or two after the series came out to read it in collected form. DC Comics, the publisher of this series, tends to be uneven in how they decide which stories get collected and how soon after their initial print as individual stories they are re-published as a trade paperback. Because I was so eager to read the series, I didn't feel like gambling on DC's unpredictable trade collection policies, even though it could save me money in the end.

Then today I read on the Pulse:

* DCU titles scheduled to arrive in stores in December:

Writer: Alan Davis
Artists: Davis & Mark Farmer
$12.95 US/$19.95 CAN, 160 pages

$12.95 for the entire collected series, available this December. Issue three of Another Nail will come out in July or August - so my wait would have only been around six months. Not too bad.

This is what frustrates me as well. Even with the 10% discount I get on all comics I buy at Graham Cracker Comics, I'll still pay $16.07 for all three issues of Another Nail. I could have gotten that same 10% discount on the trade collection of the story - $11.66 - if I had waited until December. That's $4.40. That could buy me another comic or two.


But who knew DC would turn on this so soon and who knew that they would price it so favorably? I certainly didn't. It's just another frustration of being a comic book buyer.

Japan's Sexual Revolution

After reading this article, it appears to me that Japan is in the middle of a sexual revolution that could have devastating effects on their economy. I found it fasinating to learn that so many Japanese men are holding on to old traditions and notions about how relationships with women should be conducted. It's like Japanese men are stuck in the 1950s while Japanese women are firmly in 2004.

June 03, 2004

She Was Robbed!

So this blog's favorite to win the 2004 Miss Universe title, Shandi Finnessey from Missouri, came in as the First Runner Up and will be waiting in the wings if the current Miss Universe is unable to fulfill her duties. The title went to Jennifer Hawkins, Miss Australia.

jennifer hawkins

Even though she's from Australia, Miss Hawkins has a California surfer girl look about her. It's a decidedly fresher look than many of the other contestant photos I've seen (Shandi excluded, of course) circulating through the Yahoo! Most Emailed stories and photo page over the past week. Actually, the photos I've seen of Miss Hawkins reminded me of a photo I posted here back in February to celebrate the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit special. A photo of the lovely Miss Marisa Miller.

In fact, to keep the my blog's geeky comic book / Star Wars stuff to pretty girl photos ratio in the proper proportion, let's see that photo of young Miss Miller again, shall we.

marisa miller

That's enough. Next post will be about Batman or Darth Vader or something like that.

Child Stars Love the Drinky-drinky

Brian Bonsall, who played Mike J. Fox's kid brother on Family Ties, and Zachery Ty Bryan, Brad from Home Improvement were both arrested for Drunk Driving last week.

Haven't all those Behind the Music airings of the Leif Garrett story taught these children nothing?

June 02, 2004

I am Obviously a Rebel and a Non-Conformist

Also found this little quiz at the same site that asks "What American City Are You?"

A Free Thinking Rebel
Congratulations. You are a free thinker and a rebel. You blaze the hardest trails. Not only do you dare to think your own thoughts in the face of pressure, but you will stand up for them and fight the crowd.

Take the quiz: "Are you an independent thinker?"

(Win the respect of your peers if you know what famous Rankin & Bass Christmas special the title of this post is paraphrased from. Email me with the answer.)

I'm a Cleveland

Ed Stenger pointed me to this fun little online time waster:

Which American City Are You?

When I saw the other cities I could have ended up as, I was pretty pleased with getting pegged a Cleveland-guy.


A new exhibit just opened at the Museum of Science and Industry here in Chicago: Action! An Adventure in Moviemaking. The exhibit deals mainly with showing how movies are made; the steps in pre-production, how stunts are preformed, and special effects process. The museum has got a whole bunch of artifacts from past films, including some of the models Industrial Light and Magic used to create the special effect shots in the Star Wars films. They've even built a small sound stage where visitors will be able to film their own action flick and purchase or download the movie to keep for themselves.

I couldn't tell from looking at the website how long the exhibit will be there, but it clearly will be there through the summer. Hopefully we can get out there to take a look. I think Ian would really enjoy this. I know I would.

Cary Grant Month on TCM

Cary GrantThe June Star of the Month on Turner Classic Movies is Cary Grant - which I am plenty excited about. Grant is one of my favorite movie stars. I tried to watch the Cary Grant: A Class Apart documentary that premiered yesterday evening while wrangling some kids. I got to watch most of it, but I'm banking on a rebroadcast of the show later this month scheduled later in the evening to see the whole thing. The kids' bedtime won't get in the way then. Heather says I need Tivo.

I've always enjoyed Cary Grant movies. Bringing Up Baby, North by Northwest, Notorious, The Bishop's Wife, The Philadelphia Story, His Girl Friday - the list goes on and on. Cary Grant has always embodied so much of what I love about classic films from the 1940s and 1950s - classy and debonair, with a sense of style, grace, and humor all mixed together to create an intellectually and emotionally entertaining film.

I can't watch TCM enough, and this month I want to try and watch it even more. Maybe I do need Tivo.

Hmm . . . How Can I Get 15 Minutes of Fame?

I know, I'll pester the FCC about how many disclaimers are run before an airing of the 'Dr. Phil' show.

June 01, 2004

I Just Had To Post This

What can I say? I'm a leg-man. . .

Models line up as they show their leg makeup during the 'Super Leggist' competition, a leg makeup contest, in Tokyo June 1, 2004. The contest, sponsored by Japanese chemical products maker Nissin Medico Co., is held to promote the company's 'Air Stocking', an aerosol spray-on micro-fine silk powder stockings. The contest winner will demonstrate the makeup in New York, Paris and Shanghai, organisers said. REUTERS/Issei Kato

New Photos!

In case you came straight to the blog and didn't bother with my homepage, I wanted to let you know that I've added a bunch of new photos to my online gallery. I added three photo collections in fact:

Who Moved Their Cheese?

Got to observe some classic "who moved my cheese" moments this morning at the train station. For the last two months the Metra train station / ticketing office at the Route 59 stop has been under renovation. While the work was being done a trailer was pulled into the parking lot and set up as a temporary office.

This morning when walking up to the train station platform I noticed that the stairs and wheelchair ramp had been dismantled from the temporary office - thus making it nearly impossible for anyone to gain entry into the trailer. All the lumber they had used to build these access points had been stacked in front of one of the doors. When I saw all this my first thought was, "Oh, they've started dismantling this temporary office. They must have finished working on the ticket offic and people can go back to using it now."

Apparently this progression of logical deduction is lost on a number of people. I watched person after person, man and woman, walk up to the stack of lumber, stair up at the door they could no longer reach, and then look around lost. I even observed a woman climb up the stack of wood (in heels no-less) and try to open the door. Good god! How do these people function?