August 31, 2004

That's The Way Cubbies

cubs logoThe Cubs have a precarious lead in the Wild Card race, so a bunch of games against the lowly Expos are exactly what the doctor ordered. Hopefully they can repeat the fine performance from last night which gave Maddux his 302nd win, and Dusty Baker his 1,000 victory.

Then beating up on those Marlins would feel nice. Especially if they can elminate them from the wild card race.

August 30, 2004

Whacky

Defrocked Irish Priest Attacks Runner

Heather and I saw this on the news, but at the time the TV was muted for some reason. Wasn't until this morning that I got the full story. According to the police reports, Horan acted because he thought the end of the world was coming.

No indication was given whether Horan thought that tackling a Brazilian marathoner would stop the end of the world or ensure Horan's safe passage into it.

August 27, 2004

DVD Animation Excitement

I'm really starting to get into these animation collections on DVD. After selling a bunch of comics on eBay recently, I made more than enough money to buy some comics, plus Batman: The Animated Series, volume one and Rex Steele: Nazi Smasher. These I'll get to add to the Looney Tunes Golden Collection, volume one, The Complete Superman Cartoons of Max & Dave Fleischer, and some of the other animated shows I have on DVD.

Batman Volume 2Now I just read today that Warner Brothers will be releasing a second volume of Batman: The Animated Series on DVD this December 7th. The collection will be a 4-disc set and will include 28 episodes from this groundbreaking series. You can see the entire list of episodes here. The reviews for the first volume have been very good; and regardless, my love of the series already makes it a lock that I'll be looking to pick up volume two later this year.

Superman TAS volume oneWhat's even better news is the announcement that WB will also be releasing Superman: The Animated Series, volume one on DVD this December 7th as well. As I've mentioned in this space before, I've always felt that the Superman animated show created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm was overshadowed by their work on Batman. In my opinion, Superman: TAS is every bit as good as Batman: TAS. In fact I think Superman starts stronger as series, Timm, Dini, and team having worked out the kinks with launching one of these types of series with Batman already. The collection is only going to be 18 episodes on 2 discs, but they are good ones. I really enjoyed Superman: TAS and can't wait to add this to my growing collection of animation on DVD.

Now the big dilemma is this. My in-laws always give me a gift of cash for my birthday (November 6th - get your shopping done early). I had planned on using it to buy the Star Wars Classic Trilogy on DVD for myself, but now I'm thinking that the Star Wars DVD is a gimme of a gift from Heather, Dad, or Mom. I mean, how could they pass up that slam-dunk. Which would mean that I could sit on the birthday money for a month and pick up one of these fine collections - most probably the Superman collection.

Ooooh, this is shaping up to be a fantastic DVD year.

Social Secutiry Sucks

I said it a number of times here in the blog, I hate Social Security. Every paycheck I see more and more of my earned money being pissed away into a program that I am convinced I will never get back. And while I've suspected it for some time, Greenspan all but confirmed today that unless changes are made, my Dad won't even see all the money I put into this crumbling program.

Let me control my own damn retirement. The Social Security program was nice idea fifty years ago, but it can no longer support a growing population with a greater life expectancy rate.

Strange But True

can of cokeAll Coca-Cola is not the same. I used to work with a guy back in Ohio who preached this all the time. He preferred the Coke that came through Youngstown, OH as opposed to the stuff coming through Cleveland, OH. He claimed it had to do with the quality of the water that the bottle was using when making the pop. We all used to laugh at him, but now I think he might have been on to something.

I notice a distinct difference in taste between a can of Coke I buy from the vending machine at work and the can I bring from home that Heater's bought as part of a 24-pack at Dominick's. The stuff at work has a more sugary taste and seems to have less carbonation than what I bring from home. Needless to say, I prefer the Coke I bring from home.

I thought I remember Jim, the guy from Ohio, being able to look at the side of the can in order to determine the pop's place of origin. I've tried that at my desk with cans from home and cans from the machine and they look identical. Maybe it has to do with something the vending machine guy is doing with his supply of pop.

The boys from Educational Structures who read the blog will know the Jim I'm talking about and maybe you remember his insistence on Youngstown, OH Coke. If you do, do you remember how he could tell the difference? I'm dying to know.

Hero

The television commercials I've seen for this film have made it look very interesting. Now the reviews I'm reading (Washington Post, Chicago Tribune) only make me want to see the movie more.

I know there's no chance of me seeing this in the theater, so I'll wait for the DVD. Though, I understand that Hero was originally released in Asia back in 2002 and has been available as an import DVD for over a year now. It's just that Miramax, who owns the US distribution rights, has been sitting on the film for reasons only known to them.

Freaky Deaky!

The big news this morning is that German doctors Grew a new jaw bone for a guy in his back. The patient had his jaw removed nine years ago because of cancer, so doctors used a mesh cage, a growth chemical and the patient's own bone marrow, containing stem cells, to create a new jaw bone that fit exactly into the gap left by the cancer surgery. It too soon to tell if the jaw will functional normally long-term.

August 26, 2004

Ian's First Day of Kindergarten

It was yesterday. It was only a half-day. And according to his reports, it was great. His best friend from preschool, Parker, is in his class. So that makes it a winner from the start.

Kindergarten is full day - 8:15am to 2:55pm - so it's going to be a long day for Ian, and the students have to wear uniforms now. Though he gets to take his lunch in his Spiderman lunchbox - which he seems to be pretty excited about. Today is the first full day of school, so I'll find out tonight how almost 6 hours at school sits with the young prince. After talking with Heather around 11:30, I know it sits pretty well with her.

I got a few photos of Ian's first day. You can check them out in the photos section of the site. Here's a preview.


Dressed and ready to go.

Shows To Catch on WTTW

Thanks to the WTTW (the big Chicago PBS station) email newsletter, I see to shows I'd like to see over the next few days.

Soundstage: Counting Crows and Shelby Lynne
Thursday, August 26 at 9 pm

Lead singer Adam Duritz rocks his way through an evening in which poetry seems to explode from the band's repertoire of blues/rock/country hits. Fresh off the release of their greatest hits album, "Films About Ghosts", the band reflects on its 10-year history. Grammy winner Shelby Lynne plays songs from the album that critics are calling her defining effort, "Identity Crisis"- a collection of songs she wrote and produced herself.


Soundstage is always having great musicians on and I always miss it. I'm a fan of Counting Crows and really hope I can turn this on tonight after the kids go to bed. Can't say I've heard of Shelby Lynne - maybe I've heard her music, just never remembered her name. I'll check it out.

Great Performances: Concert for George
Saturday, September 4 at 9 pm

Filmed in high-definition at London's Royal Albert Hall on the first anniversary of George Harrison's death, this two-hour special celebrated the artist's life and music with performances by a who's who of popular music, including Eric Clapton, Jeff Lynne, Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, Monty Python, Ravi Shankar, Ringo Starr and many more.


I've seen snippets of this concert before and really enjoyed it. Great music and great musicians playing with passion and love. This is also conveniently scheduled to air after the kids go to bed, thus improving the chances of me getting to watch some of it.

Funny Stuff

Your favorite movies in 30 seconds, re-enacted by bunnies.

Funny stuff.

August 25, 2004

Comic Book Prejuidices

Lee Barnett has an intersting article over on the Pulse website today. He considers the prejudice about and against comic books. Its a well thought out and presented article that looks at how and why people pre-judge comic books and the people who read them. One of the core points he makes is one that I firmly believe to be the root cause of most people's preception of comics: they've never actually seen (or even read) the inside of a comic. The vast majority of people views on comics stem from the 1960s Batman television show and ancedotal information from Dr. Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent from the 1950s. Both paint a horrible warped, and one-sided, picture of what comic books are. Simplistic children's entertainment with no value.

I experience this convulted view of comics whenever someone finds out I read comics. I try not to let it bother me anymore and take the opportunity to try and enlighten them to the larger comic picture. Heather's even experienced it. She took Ian to a friend's birthday party the other weekend. The theme for the party was Spiderman and at some point the superhero came up as a topic. When Heather mentioned that I read comics regularly someone mentioned (exact quote) "Oh, now that's scarey." Like there was something "wrong" with me because I am a 31 year-old father of three who read comic books. That's the guy I'd like to show From Hell, Queen and Country, Sin City, Fables, Losers, Bear, The Goon - hell, the list goes on and on. I could even show him books starring superheros (which none of the previously mentioned titles have) that would blow his mind and his prejuidices of comic books. Heather did her best to defend me - but she shouldn't have to do that.

Errrrrrrrr!

Now I'm pissed and I wanna go read a comic.

Missed Opportunity

I took a late train today (stayed home to take Ian to his first day of pre-school - more on that later) and ended up with a bunch people headed downtown for the 1:20 Chicago Cubs game. Around Lisle a dad and his son (a kid about 5 or 6 years old) got on the train and sat a few seats in front of me. We were sitting up on the second floor where there are only single seats, so they flipped one of them backwards so they could face each other. This gave me a full view of the dad (and this will be important later).

They were obviously going to the Cubs game. Both were decked out in jerseys and hats. I thought, "What fun. A father and son going to a ball game. Could it get any more American?" I thought about how much fun it would be for Ian and I to go to a Cubs' game together like that. He's expressed interest in going to Wrigley Field, I just haven't arranged for it yet. (He's been to see the Kane County Cougars - the minor league team that plays in Geneva - so don't think I'm totally remiss in my American fatherly duties.)

So I look back up at the father and son expect to overhear them talking about the game, or going to the big city, or the train ride, and what do I see - the dad's got his head buried in one of those free real estate magazines you see at drug stores and grocery stores. It's not even a real magazine. Just some pulp paper crap. Yet he's got his nose planted deep inside while his son stares out the window.

It took all my restraint not to yell at the guy, "Come on! It's you and your son going to a baseball game. Riding a train to the big city. No Mom around. No other siblings. Just you and him. Talk with him. Make this a real fun adventure for the kid. Don't hide behind that stupid magazine."

Later, the dad did put the mag down and talk with his son for a bit. He make some jokes and the two of them seemed to be enjoying themselves, but it still didn't wash the bad taste of the real estate magazine out of my mind. Why was it even there? When I think about it, I think what bothered me the most was the type of mag he was looking at. Had it been Sports Illustrated or Vines, the Cubs fan club magazine, or the newspaper I think I would have let it slide a bit. But the free real estate magazine you picked up from 7-11? You'd rather look at that then talk or visit with your son while taking him to a ballgame?

Maybe my Dad didn't buy us as many dogs when we were a kid as he wanted to, but when he was taking us out on special trips or little adventures he always gave us his undivided attention. He understood that the activity or event was just as special to us as spending time with our Dad.

More Star Wars Movies?

star wars logoAccording to a mole who posted to TheForce.net (whose site is not available today), George Lucas might be considering creating Episodes VII, VIII, IX of the Star Wars series. The mole reports that employees of Industrial Light & Magic, the special-effects company that work exclusively on the Star Wars films, have signed non-disclosure agreements that legally prevents them from discussing anything associated with Episodes VII, VIII and IX.

"Why sign a non-disclosure if there's nothing to disclose," seems to be the argument used then to prove that more SW films are in the works. LucasFilm says no non-disclosures were signed.

Personally I'm not buying it. Lucas said he's done with the films after next summer's Revenge of the Sith and I believe him.

What is interesting though, is a couple of weeks ago it was announced that George Lucas was setting up an overseas animation studio. There might not be any new films coming, but considering the success of the Clone Wars cartoons on Cartoon Network, maybe Lucas is considering continuing stories in the Star Wars universe through an animated show. That might explain the non-disclosure rumor - if it holds up to be true.

Interesting to consider.

August 24, 2004

My Sister is Official

She's got a profile on her law firms website.

Bad Times for Gymnastics

I actually happened to walk into the family room while Heather was watching the men's high bar competiton last night and caught Alexei Nemov performance. It was spectacular. Definitely higher than the score the judges awarded him. I can understand why Russians are complaining about the scoring in gymnastics.

I was kinda trippy watching the crowd boo for 10 minutes after Alexei's score was announced. I half expected people to start throwing things or even storm the gym floor - it seemed that hostile out there. The entire crowd was fired up.

I Got To Play With Doggies

Our neighbors across the street went away for the weekend (they're back now, so don't bother trying to rob the place) on the spur of the moment and asked Heather and I to take care of their two dogs. They thought they were imposing on us; Heather did her best to convince them that they weren't. She knew all too well that I'd love to have an excuse to go over and play with Elway and Shadow.

So a couple times on Sunday and Monday I stopped over, let the dogs run around in the backyard, and then scored some quality playing with the dogs time.

I love dogs. I wish we had a dog. I know we can't right now, but once the kids are older and we're in a larger house, I definitely think we'll seriously consider getting a real pet - not that hairball choking excuse for a cat. The kids all love Bumper and Bumper loves Heather, but that's where it ends. Cats can't be the companion and protector that a dog can be. Dogs are more socially active, form tighter bonds, and in general become part of the family more than any cat can. Plus, fundamentally I don't think any child should go through life not having a dog at some point.

Having the neighbors have dogs that the kids and I can play with is okay (and much appreciated), but it the end a dog is something you really want to have for as your own.

August 23, 2004

Jennifer Garner Fix

With the new season of Alias still more than 4 months away, it was nice to find this first look / teaser trailer for Electra showing Jennifer kicking-butt and taking names - and looking damn fine doing it.

The Batman

The new Batman cartoon, The Batman, will premiere in a couple of weeks. The Comics Continuum has some artwork from the show plus some character breakdowns for 10 of the major players in the new animated series.

Won't know if the show is any good until I watch it, but these artwork samples lead me to believe that at the very least the cartoon is going to look fantastic.

Calvin & Hobbes

A lazy summer day, comics books, good friends, and lunch served by Mom: that would be a good summer afternoon.

Olympic Update

I wrote an Olympic Update last week, and looking back, I noticed it had very little to do with the actual events of the Olympics.

So let's keep that tradition going.

True to form, Heather has done everything she can to watch as much of the Olympics as possible. She really enjoys watching them - so much so that she actually stays up late - multiple nights in a row - in order to follow all the action. I pop my head in every once and while to see what's going on - the swimming can be fun to watch - but I'm still not an avid watcher like Heather.

Speaking of watchers. Let's check in with the Yahoo! Most Email picture list and see what Olympics pictures are being sent the most:

femal beach volleyball players


Yep, beach volleyball still reigns. Apparently the appeal of taunt, tanned bodies jumping in the sand speaks to the American's understanding of the Olympic ideal. What other explanation could be given for it's popularity?

Over the weekend I tried to find some of the more obscure summer Olympic sports: table tennis, handball, equestrian. Found some equestrian jumping Sunday morning and Ian, Emma and I enjoyed watching the horsies jump for a while.

horse jumping really high during equestrian jumping.

Kevin Never Did Anything Like This

For time my brother was into origami. I remember he had a number of books on the Japanese art of paper folding - even bought some special paper to create his artwork with. He made some fasinating things, but never anything like this dragon made during an origami convention in Japan last week.

origami art of a dragon
(AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa)

August 20, 2004

The Week in Review

It's been a crazy week. Been really busy at work and at home, spent some time in the Borg's hive, and was sick for a while. Hence, the lack of blog postings.

Last week I was on vacation, and I capped my time at home by taking Ian and Emma to The Wiggles show at the Rosemont Horizon (now called Allstate Arena). If you're not familiar with The Wiggles, then you don't know anyone under the age of eight. The Wiggles are 4 Australian blokes who run around in brightly colored shirts singing songs about fruit salad and rolling down sand hills. They're usually joined by Captain Feathersword the Friendly Pirate, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, and Henry the Octopus. It makes for quite a scene.

The WigglesIan and Emma both really like watching The Wiggles show on the Disney channel and listening to The Wiggles CDs we have for them. We took Ian to The Wiggles show last year and he absolutely loved it. So when I saw they were coming back to town, I sent a note out letting people know that tickets to this show would be a great idea for Ian's and Emma's birthdays. My Dad ended up taking the reigns on this one and bought 4 tickets to the Sunday afternoon show.

When it came time to go, Heather decided to stay home with Zoe. Zoe hadn't been taking a bottle very well from anyone other than Heather lately, so she was concerned about leaving a potentially very cranky baby with a babysitter while we all went to the show. We didn't want to waste the fourth ticket, so up stepped my sister. She agreed to come along and experience something she might have to endure in the next 8 to 10 years - a children's' music concert.

Just like last time, the show was fun for kids and parents. The guys in The Wiggles do a nice job of entertaining the kids while sprinkling in some appropriate jokes that keep the adults smiling along with their children. I think the cavernous settings of the Allstate Arena diminished the overall feel of the show - last year's show in the much more intimate Chicago Theater seemed more fun - but in the end Ian and Emma enjoyed themselves.

In fact, Ian was up, singing and dancing along right from the first song. You could tell he was really having a great time. He had an even better time when he was able to get out into the aisle - had more space to flay about in his distinctive dancing style. It took Emma some time to warm up to the show. She spent the first 15 minutes sitting on my lap, cautiously taking in everything happening on stage. About halfway through the show, however, she was up and seemed to be having fun. She never sang and danced like Ian, but she had a pretty big smile on her face, and that's enough for me.

Afterwards we went to McDonald's for dinner. The perfect way to cap any activity with kids.

The rest of the week has been a whirlwind of activity.

Heather's mother, sister (Leanne), and three nieces came to stay Monday afternoon. They stayed until Thursday morning. That's a lot of people in our little house. Oh, I forgot to mention that Sunday morning we got a real nice swing set from our neighbors. Two swings, a slide, and little playhouse, all attached together. That along with the play castle we got from another neighbor to give us a nice little backyard for kids to play in. It was probably a saving grace this past week for Heather and Leanne. The kids spent a lot of time outside playing on the new equipment, allowing Heather, Leanne, and Pat to watch the Olympics and visit while keeping an eye on the kids through the window.

Tuesday had me in the belly of the Borg beast. I visited the Microsoft Technology Center here in Chicago. Our new Director of Technology is currently reviewing our company's tech setup and applications and wanted some of us to meet with the boys at Big Brother to see what they can do for us. Me being a dyed-in-the-wool Apple fanatic made me feel like I was being disloyal to Steve Jobs somehow. It was an interesting presentation, but they really didn't blow our socks off or anything. Plus, the lunch they served us was horrible.

Then I got sick. Ugh. Probably not related to Microsoft, but in a pinch I will use it as an excuse. More than likely it's related to what Heather's been telling me for, oh, the last 4 years: that I need to rest more. She thinks that I push myself too much and don't get enough rest/sleep, and me getting sick is my body revolting against how I am treating it. She's probably right, but I don't see myself changing. Not sure I could if I wanted to. Everyday I have little goals, things I want to accomplish. I won't go to sleep until they are done. It's only after all the work is down do I usually feel somewhat comfortable enough to relax or decompress from the day. I admit it makes for late nights - 11:30pm or midnight bedtimes. And when the alarm is going off at 5:05am so I can get up and do it all again, it doesn't make for a whole lot of rest. But that's just Heather's theory.

Hell, this recent illness could have been brought on by the large amount of dried pineapple slices I've been eating over the past few weeks. (best natural candy ever - ever!). For all we know, all that pineapple decided to do the freaky mano tiki on my intestines and his had nothing to do with my sleeping habits.

Hellboy coverFound a perk in being home sick yesterday, though. Got to read through all of Hellboy: Wake the Devil. It was really good. Enjoyed it a lot. Not as much as I thought I might, but it really was a good quality comic. The art, of course, it gorgeous. Mike Mignola's woodcut styled artwork is beautifully moody. A perfect setting for the occultish nature of the Hellboy comics. Mignola throws a lot of characters at the reader, mixes in a lot of different mythologies, and gets pretty cosmic with the story in the third act - which all makes the comic a challenge to read at times, but in the end I still recommend this as a great horror comic.

Speaking of reviews, on the long train ride home in the middle of the day Wednesday (I went home sick on Wednesday), I finished reading the only Atticus Kodiak novel from Greg Rucka I hadn't read, Smoker.

As I've mentioned in past reviews of Rucka's Atticus Kodiak novels, I don't think I can really review them objectively. I love Rucka's writing and I love the character of Atticus. It's hard to pinpoint exactly why, I just really like the guy. Atticus is grounded and level headed. A very sympatric character that doesn't take shit from anyone and is loyal to his loved ones. I just think the character is fantastic and love reading stories about him. I enjoy Rucka's non-Atticus works a lot too, but it's the Atticus novels that I really wish he would produce a few more of.

Smoker cover artSmoker is another fantastic Atticus book. Here, Atticus ends up going against one of the world's most dangerous assassins and wins. As always, the action is heart-racing intense, the suspense keeps you on the train until the conductor is threatening to lock you inside, and there isn't a stock, two-dimensional character to be found anywhere.

What's also nice about finally reading Smoker is that it fills in the gaps of Atticus' history that I partially learned about in the last Atticus novel written to date, Critical Space. In Critical Space Atticus comes face to face with the same assassin again, and the history and events of Smoker are mentioned but not gone into detail. It was nice to finally have the full picture painted for me and to no longer be working from a thumbnail sketch. In fact, I'm thinking of rereading Critical Space immediately. I already think it's the best of all the Atticus novels, and I'd like to put the two parts together as one big story. It's like watching The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi back-to-back in one sitting.

Whew, this has been a long entry. But I guess that's what a week in review blog posting will do to you. Congratulations to anyone who took the time to read through the whole thing - that was very nice of you. For those of you who skipped to the bottom, all the good stuff happened above. Drag your lazy ass back to the top and read the whole post. You won't get nothing for free from me.

Life Imitating Art

NASA is going to use a pair of stunt helicopter pilots to snag a small sack of space dust out of the sky. Stuff of movie actions films - but real.

Plus, here's my interest angle for the story: one of the pilots is working on "Batman Begins."

Just kidding.

No, I'm not.

Wow!

I may not be watching the Olympics as much as Heather is, but that doesn't mean I haven't been awed at what Michael Phelps has done at these Olympic games. This guy is amazing. 7 medals; 5 gold and 2 bronze. And eventhough he gave up his spot on 400-meter medley relay team to Ian Crocker, he could still get an 8th medal if the US win (which they are heavily favored to do) because he swam the relay qualifying rounds. Wow.

It's Got Karl Rove's Fingerprints All Over It

The big story in the Presidential race the last few days has been this whole anti-Kerry ad attaching his military service record thing. The ad campaign is backed by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. They claim Kerry frabicated events in order to earn service medals. Kerry recently fired back, calling those accusations false and further stating he believes that this group is really a front for the Bush campaign.

The Washington Post has an interesting article about this situation in today's paper, and they find clear connections between this group and Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political aide.

From what I've read of Rove's tactics when helping run a political campaign, this fits his M.O. perfectly. Help fund and direct other groups not directly tied to his candidates campaign to carry out mud-slinging campaigns against the opposition. In my mind, the formation of this group and its activities are all part of the Bush campaign to win in November.

Elizabeth Found Her Bridesmaid Dresses

I provided a sneak peek at the wedding dress last month. Now I bring you the first shots of my sister's bridesmaid dresses.

bridesmaid

I Wanna Try One of These . . .

Huge sandwhich with chicken fingers, french fries, and mozzarella sticks
Darrell Butler of Eatontown, N.J., poses at the R.U. Grill and Pizza in New Brunswick, N.J., with a 'Fat Darrell', a sandwich he created when he was at Rutgers University in 1997. Now the sandwich, which is made with chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks and french fries, has been crowned the best sandwich in the country by Maxim magazine. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer)

August 16, 2004

Batman Begins Update

Batman logoAt this past weekend's Wizard World Convention there was a screening of some rough cuts from Batman Begins. Here's a description from someone who was there:

Bruce Wayne fighting on the ice; a sword fight with Ducard (Liam Neeson); a close-up shot of Bale in the Batman mask looking as intense as heck; The Batmobile racing down the streets; Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) turning to Bruce Wayne and asking "So what do you think?" and Wayne replying "Does it come in black?"; a shot of the Scarecrow ambushing Rachel; a shirtless Bruce Wayne doing push-ups; Bruce and Rachel (Katie Holmes) smooching; and most spectacular of all, a flaming Batman falling off a building and landing on a car. The final shot was a terrified thug yelling "Where are you?" and the camera pulling back to reveal Batman behind him. "Right here."


I've actually read a number of reports (2) from the con concerning this few minutes of clips and the reaction has pretty been much the same: That so far this movie looks fantastic. Nolan's decision to shoot in real locals and to avoid CGI is giving the movie a grounded sense of reality that makes the fantasy even stronger. Similar to what Sam Raimi did with Spiderman.

This is getting good.

Elvis Lives

27 years ago on this date, August 16th, Elvis Presley successfully faked his own death. To celebrate, hundreds of people gather in Graceland to help perpetuate the hoax that the King has left us and Turner Classic Movies, as part of their Summer under the Stars, is showing all Elvis movies today.

Elvis during rehearsal for the 1968 Comeback Special


Long live the King!

My Olympic Update

The Athens Games are upon us, which means Heather wants to have the TV on as much as possible. She really loves watching the Olympics (summer or winter) and makes the most of it every two years. Personally I'm more partial to the winter games. They seem better suited for TV watching. The summer games seem more like a collection of sports everyone should be outside doing during the warm months, not inside watching.

Anyway, for the next two weeks it's pretty much an NBC station or nothing. Which is okay because this time NBC is trying to cover as many of the sports as possible. Meaning cable stations USA and CNBC are getting called up for active duty and we get to see such off-the-beat-path sports as pairs table tennis and team handball. That's what I like to see. The obscure stuff.

Heather and I noticed how few people were in the stands while watching some of the men's gymnastics coverage. Apparently the IOC noticed this as well. The IOC is very image conscious and has order the Greek Olympic Committee to give away tickets, if need be, in order to fill those stadiums. I guess to me it doesn't matter. The number of people in the stands doesn't change my opinoin of the event or the games. I let the games stand on their own entertainment value, not what other people think of it.

Speaking of what the groups deems as entertainment value in the Olympics. If you take a look at the Yahoo! Most Viewed page. You'd think the only Olympic sport is women's beach volleyball.

Plenty more Olympics to go and plenty more nights of Heather yelling at the TV for some American to "go, go go!"

August 13, 2004

300 - A Review

One of the perks of being home these past few days is being able to read some graphic novels I've been wanting to get to, and getting to read them relatively straight through - not broken up over a week. This afternoon I finished 300 by Frank Miller, with coloring by Lynn Varley.

300 tells the true story of the battle of Thermopylae when King Xerxes of Prussia began his invasion of Greece. It was in the tight mountain pass of Thermopylae that King Leonidas and 300 Spartan warriors were able to hold off the vastly larger forces of the Prussia army long enough for the Greek forces to organize. King Leonidas loses the battle of Thermopylae, but not before proving that power of the Spartan army, the resolve of the Greeks, and that sometimes in order to win you have to lose first.

Easily the most remarkable aspect of Miller's book his is artwork and storytelling ability. The battle scenes are breathtaking. The staging of the action of every page reflects the skill and expertise of an award winning comic book storyteller. Miller's artwork, gloriously assisted with Lynn Varley's colors, is original in every way describable. It can be soft and poetic or rough and violent - whatever is called for by the story.

What I've always found to be Miller's weak point in his books has been the dialogue. By working mostly in his crime noir Sin City books for the last decade he's been able to mask this. The short staccato speech. The rough language. It's easy to work around clunky dialogue when you're dealing with mooks beating the shit out of each other over a stripper. Most of the time he's able to put together fairly believable speech in 300, but there are times where King Leonidas or King Xerxes talk like a street thug from Hoboken - not a warrior from 400 B.C.

Despite this, 300 is a wonderful tale, beautifully told. If you are looking for a unique comic book experience, you can't go wrong with Miller's historical tour de force.

Give It a Rest

Brian Bendis used to be one of those writers whose works I actively searched out. However, since moving to Marvel he seems to have slid deep into the current Marvel cheapshot and bathroom humor crowd that is currently running the show over there. Plus, the stuff of his I was reading seemed to be going stale.

At the current Wizrd World Chicago convention he mentioned that he had a fantastic idea for a Batman / Daredevil story that everyone loved except Paul Levitz, the president and publisher of DC Comics. Paul's reason: he has a professional problem with Marvel's Editor in Chief, Joe Quesada.

This I understand. Quesada is not only the Editor in Chief over there, he's also the Chief Gumba for the company. Repeatedly putting down and taking pot shots at DC in public forums like everyone is in high school. I don't blame Levitz and DC waiting for change in Marvel management before doing any more company crossover stories.

What I don't understand is what Bendis hoped to gain by blabbing this and making this the entire topic of a panel at Wizard World Chicago. It just makes him look so childish to run around with this story and then end it by waving his finger at Paul Levitz.

Grow up.

August 12, 2004

Scrooge Sighting

O. V. Carreathers of St. Louis MO, called the Health Department concerning a lemonade stand run by 10 and 11 year old girls. The Health Department shut them down. Luckily saner minds prevailed and Mayor Francis Slay made sure the girls were back in business the next day.

I say we should all go to Ms. Carreathers' house and cover it from roof to foundation with eggs and dog crap.

Just My Luck

I take some time off in August to spend time with Heather and the kids and it ends up being smack in the middle of the coldest August in a hundred years.

We're still having fun, but I had been really looking forward to taking Emma and Ian to a water park for an afternoon. No way we're doing this with daytime highs of 63 degrees.

August 11, 2004

Congratulations Elizabeth

I haven't actually talked to you about this yet, but Heather told me the great news. Glad to hear that a law firm here in Chicago realized that there was still a great free-agent lawyer on the market and swooped in and made you an offer. I know that you won't just dazzle your new employers, but you'll also show the firm that passed on you what they missed.

Causing Quite the Stink

The recent story that a bus dropped brownish-yellow liquid on tour boat passengers is causing quite a stink here in Chicago. This past Sunday a tour boat was going under the Kinzie Street bridge when the passengers on top of the boat were doused with a foul-smelling liquid from a bus driving over the bridge at the same time. The police say no crime was committed, but that's not stopping Richie Daley from starting a manhunt to bring these shit-droppers to justice. Nobody dumps raw sewage in the Chicago River on Richie's watch - unless you have a special contract with the city.

The story gets even better. One witness gave police an Oregon license plate number for the bus that ended up belonging to Dave Matthews. The Matthews camp denies any wrong doing, of course.

August 10, 2004

The Fortress of Solitude - A Review

Before putting The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem on my Amazon.com Wish List last year, I knew very little about the book or the author. I had scanned through a review of the novel in Newsweek and saw that Amazon had listed it as one of its Editor Choices for 2003. Despite this ignorance of the author or the subject of the book, somewhere a positive buzz had been created in me surrounding the work so I added to my list. My Dad ended up buying me the novel for Christmas – thus committing me to reading Lethem story.

The Fortress of Solitude chronicles the life of Dylan Ebdus and his friend Mingus Rude. Two boys, one white (Dylan) and one black (Mingus), living in Brooklyn, NY who are struggling to understand their world and finding their place in it. The story starts in the late 1970s and follows the two boys through to the late 90s.

Some books are considered good because they work within a genre so well. Other novels are considered great because they break new ground or push the envelope of literary achievements. Still other works are admired for the skillful use of the language – the almost poetic use of prose to tell a story. I consider Fortress of Solitude an exceptional novel not for any of these reasons, but another: the ability to recreate a moment in history so vivid, that your story just sinks right in and take root to grow and thrive as naturally as if it was actually happening right in front of your eyes. Such is Lethem’s skill in this novel.

He uses the music, race relations, social issues, street games, and even the popular drugs of the time to set and ground his story. Lethem not only uses these cultural touchstones to define the characters, but he uses them in the characters’ future to tie them back to their own past within the story. The music of 1979 defines who Dylan Ebdus is as much as anything else Lethem might say about him. The net effect is undeniable: characters who are elevated above simple ciphers to become dimensional entities that we can connect with emotionally. We don’t just read and learn what it was like to be the only white kid in an all black NYC public school in the late 70s – we feel what it was like.

We feel the relationship develop and grow between Ebdus and Mingus and feel the strains too. We anguish with Ebdus as he comes to terms with his lost relationships with his father and mother later in life. With the lost relationship with Mingus. With the struggle to find and create the middle space – what Ebdus eventually refers to as the “hippie dream” – the dream of what life could be, but which the forces (i.e. the real world) around it constantly threaten.

It’s this strong emotional connection with the characters that Lethem is able to establish that I enjoyed so much while reading Fortress of Solitude, and it’s while I highly recommend this novel to anyone interested in a compelling, beautifully written, and emotional resonant story.

Weblog Poster

I think I might have found a nice desktop app for the Mac OS X that allows me to post to my blog. This is the first test.

24 Hours to Addiction

24 hours. That's how long it took to turn my precious eldest child - my only son - into a ragging video game addict.

For Ian's 5th birthday we decided to get him a GameBoy. His interest in computer and video games were undeniable, and he talked about getting something like an Xbox or Playstation with Heather and I quite frequently. Heather's apprehensive about getting a big console like Xbox right now, so we thought the GameBoy would be the perfect match.

Boy was it ever.

Last Saturday we had a dinner party to celebrate Ian's 5th and Emma's 2nd birthdays. Once again my family showed their enormous generosity and love for my children by giving them some wonderful gifts. Besides the GameBoy from his parents, Ian got a LeapPad, some new Bionicles, and a Spiderman themed Digi-Draw.

Emma got some great dress up stuff (which she loves to do), a new doll that is going everywhere with her, and new Barbie tricycle that she rode outside all day Sunday.

They both loved everything they got. Ian even announced later, after everyone had left, "I think I'll keep everything I got for my birthday!" Apparently he thought there would be some sort of exchange or return period following his party. Who knows.

But when asked what his favorite gift was, he responded emphatically, "My Gameboy!" Then preceeded to prove the point by wanting to play it constantly Sunday and Monday. Why I was concerned that Ian had immediately turned into some sort of video game junky and that his parents had started him on the path to pale-sun-starved skin and a fat, un-exercised body, Heather showed me that 1) he wasn't play the game constantly. He was spending as much time with the LeapPad (educational!!) and the new Bionicles (imaginative play!!), and was playing outside (exercise and sunlight!). 2) It's a new toy and very exciting for him. Give it a couple of weeks and the newness will wear off. Plus, he only has one game. You can only play that for so long!

Be that as it may, it was still alarming to see how quickly he became attached to the machine. He carries it around with him. He talks about it a lot. He's already asking for new games. It's frightening. These Nintendo guys have created Crack for kids.

So Heather and I will continue to monitor how much he plays, set limits for GameBoy usage, and make sure he's involved in other activities - all the things good parents should be doing - and things should turn out okay. Right?

August 09, 2004

Batman Begins Update

batman logoNone of the real fun filming is occuring down by my office. The fun stuff, like the Batsignal, is being filmed farther up north where they've built the Batsignal on top of a building and are lighting it up.

Batsignal photo


And if you really want to delve into my Batman-geekiness with me, check out these shots taken by someone on-site while Christian Bale (Batman) and Gary Oldman (Capt. Jim Gordon) were filming scenes in front of the batsignal. The photos are fuzzy, but cool none the less.

Man vs. Mountain



You're looking at Rick Roufus (left) versus Taro Akebono (right) in the K-1 Battle of Bellagio III. K-1 fighting, I learned today, is open style of martial arts stand-up fighting where many different disciplines are used but there are still rules enforced to prevent it from becoming some sort of ultimating fighting street fighting slopfest.

Roufus, who is six-time kickboxing champion, ended up defeating Akebono, an 11-time grand sumo wrestling champion, by unanimous decision.

A Little Language Help Please

Anyone know what language the following phrase is?

Oderint dom metuant

I thought it was Latin, but none of the online Latin translators were able to give me a translation. Neither did the French ones. The phrase is used in a book I'm reading, but no direct translation is given.

August 06, 2004

Summer Under the Stars

TCM logoFor the entire month of August Turner Classic Movies is dedicating each day to a different classic movie star. All day the show movies showcasing that particular star. The event is being called "Summer Under the Stars" and it's a movie buff's dream.

This past Tuesday (8/3) TCM only showed movies starring Bob Hope - meaning I got to catch some of Hope's and Crosby's fun Road To . . . movies. Wednesday was turned over to the movies of Debbie Reynolds. I didn't stay up to watch Singing in the Rain, but I did get to watch a lot of The Mating Game which co-starred the always enjoyable Tony Randle.

Today is Lucille Ball and I'm hoping to catch some of Du Barry Was a Lady. Co-starring Red Skelton, Gene Kelly, and Zero Mostel, it looks like a fun romp from 1943. It's on tonight at 7pm. Hopefully I'll be able to watch some of it.

Then this weekend it's Katherin Hepburn on Saturday and Clint Eastwood on Sunday. I am looking forward to the Hepburn movies more. Especially Woman of the Year, Adam's Rib, Pat and Mike, The Philadelphia Story, and Bringing Up Baby.

The coming weeks bring even more stars. If you get TCM in your area. You should really check to see what's on.

Rants and Thoughts

Alan Keyes? Apparently the Illinois GOP thinks that Alan Keyes - a rather extreme conservative from Maryland - can challenge Barack Obama for the Senate spot this fall. I know that many within the Illinois Republican party have been upset with the moderate leaning Republicans who have headlined the party in this state over the years and that there was a desire to get more in line with the GOP nationally - but is now really a good time? Barack is hugely popular and commanded a sizable lead even before Jack Ryan dropped out. It's only grown since then.

The GOP in Illinois say that Keyes appeals to the core party members. But is that what you want in a general election? Someone who appeals to the core of your party. Don't you want someone who will appeal to the greatest amount of voters, while still supporting your party's position? Plus, the guy doesn't even live in Illinois. He lives in Maryland with no ties to Illinois that I can see. How is that going to bring votes in? Hmmm, let's see. I can chose the between the Republican who represents the hard line of the party and works to push the party platform, not necessarily the wishes of his constituents, and was flown in from Maryland to run in the election; or I can choose the Democrat who comes off as more statesman than politician, has already served in the Illinois State assembly, and lives in Illinois. Hmmm.

They've handed Barack the election.

You know, there's a joke in here - I just haven't been able to write it yet: Republicans Look to Harvest Amish Vote

Cubs logoTwo big series for the Cubs coming up. They play the San Francisco Giants this weekend and then follow that up with a three-game stand against the San Diego Padres starting Tuesday. The Cubs lead the NL Wild Card race currently. They have a two game lead over the Padres and three game lead over the Giants. If the Cubs can continue the winning ways they started up in Colorado and roll westward over the Giants and Padres, they can set themselves up nicely in the Wild Card race. Both of these California teams are on the slide, so it's a perfect time for the Cubs to show them who deserves the fourth spot in the post-season. I know I'll be watching. While these West Coast night games might keep me up late, they do afford me the luxury of watching the games without interuption from children or household duties.

Let's go Cubs!

Quote of the Day: "Dominick's screwed me on my push-ups!" - Heather McKillip. Wholesome and salacious all at the same time - kinda like Heather.

August 05, 2004

More Good Reviews for Midsummer Night's Dream

The Chicago Tribune's theater critic Michael Phillips published his review of First Folio's production of Midsummer Night's Dream.

Phillips has good things to say for the three leads: Nick Sandys (Oberon), Kathy Santen (Titania), and Kevin (Puck). He seems critical of the carnival setting for this interpretation of "Midsummers," but I don't really follow his logic. Overall, he still seems to come out favorably concerning the show. I think.

Fables: Storybook Love - A Review

Storybook Love cover artFables: Storybook Love is the third trade paperback volume released collecting issues of DC Comics Fables comic book series. I've already read volume one, Legends in Exile, and volume two, Animal Farm and enjoyed them immensely. So I went into Storybook Love with high hopes.

The quick premise is this: The characters of the fables, myths, and legends are real. They were chased out of the homelands by the mysterious Adversary centuries ago and have since settled in New York to live among the mundies (common humans) and wait for their chance to overthrow the Adversary and return to their rightful home.

Written by Bill Willingham, Storybook Love collects issues #11-18 of the series and unlike the first two volumes which had only one story per collection, actually has four short stories in the trade paperback. The unifying theme - to varying degrees - is love or romance. An essential aspect of any fairy tale or make-believe.

Just like in previous editions, the stories are fresh and fun, the characters engaging, and the artwork is beautiful. Essentially everything I've already said the last two times I reviewed the series (Legends in Exile review, Animal Farm review), so I won't go on repeating myself here once again. Willingham and his creative support team continue to deliver stories that I find entertaining and satisfying. Original work that I can't find elsewhere. I highly recommend this series.

There is one thing that I haven't talked about in previous reviews of Fables collections, and that is Willingham's ability to re-envision these characters of myth and legend in contemporary settings without losing their make-believe or magical essence. He and his artists are able to re-create Snow White as a believable woman in modern day New York City, but she still retains that air of beauty and stature that is fitting for her character of fairy tales. Willingham isn't just taking old characters and putting them in modern settings, he's bringing the myth and magic that make those characters who they are along with them.

Also, Willingham displays a talent for creating his own fairy tales to feed his stories. The last story in the Storybook Love collection is a tale called "Barleycorn Brides." The story is about how the Lilliputian men who had already fled the homelands but without any Lilliputian women, were able to sneak back into the lands controlled by the Adversary to steal a jar of magic barleycorn. The same barleycorn that Thumbelina had sprung from many years ago. To the best of my knowledge it is an original story by Bill Willingham, yet it successfully captures the magic and wonder of a good fairy tale. I was very impressed. With the story and the collection as a whole.

The President Has Had Enough

President Bush holding ear of corn
"One more crack out of that Moore guy and this ear of corn is going so far up his ass he'll be sneezing popcorn."

August 04, 2004

One Time, I Wrote This Blog Entry

We have officially entered the "One time" phase for Ian. Every little kid does it. They go through this phase when they're young (kindergarten through 2nd or 3rd grade) where almost every sentence begins with "One time, ..."

its funny at first, then it starts to get annoying . . . then it gets to be funny again.

"One time on Scooby, the monster was . . . "

"One time at Grandma's house, we all got to go to the zoo and . . ."

"One time I was playing with Kiera and . . . "

Everyone, Please Kneel

I've been meaning to post this for about a week. Instead of just having a link, I've decided to post the comic without permission.

I understand Calvin's father's pain.

Calvin and Hobbes comic
Calvin & Hobbes is copyright Bill Waterson and provided by Universal Press Syndicate


Click on the comic and you can see it full size. The text might be easier to read - Shank it down a bit to make sure it fit within my blog design.

A-Ha!

Now this isn't a headline I expected to see this morning: Life on Mars Likely, Scientist Claims

It's just microbial life, but life none the less. Pretty amazing, don't you think? If it's possible that Mars can sustain some sort of lifeform, the the possiblity becomes greater that other planets are home to more advanced lifeforms like ourselves.

August 03, 2004

Harper's Weekly Email

I haven't been reading the Harper's Weekly email newsletter lately. Just haven't had the time. But I found myself with a few minutes this afternoon and decided to read through the news tidbits that one of the editors from Harper's magazine pull together. It's usually a mix of politics, world news, and unusual stories.

The nicely balance items like, "The Bush Administration issued a new rule that will permit the EPA to approve pesticides without finding out from wildlife agencies whether the chemicals will harm plants and animals protected by the Endangered Species Act." with items like, "Italy was upset about a poster campaign in the London subway urging people not to eat smelly food; the posters show an overweight man sitting on a train surrounded by parma hams and salamis and strings of garlic."

However, my favorite snippet came right at the end:

"Scientists discovered that fatigue is all in the mind."

I found the article the reports the claim, too.

It's all about a "signaling" molecule called interleukin-6 (IL-6) that tells the body that it is tired - when actually the muscles are still good to go. Fascinating. There are some interesting dirty science possibilities here. The right mix of steroids and IL-6 inhibitors could make a super-athlete.

Personally, I think my body purges itself of IL-6 naturally around 10pm at night. I can be felling tired up to that point, but as soon at the clock bongs ten, I ready to go again.

More Comics for Kids

The Eisner Committee has posted the entirety of Michael Chabon's keynote speech from last week's Eisner Awards ceremony held at the San Diego Comic Convention.

Michael ChabonI case you didn't know, Michael Chabon is the critically acclaimed and award winning author of such books as The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2001), Wonderboys, and Summerland. He's also a huge comic book fan who oversees the quarterly The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist for Dark Horse Comics.

I found a number of things interesting in his speech:

1) He believes that comic books have finally arrived artistically.

Because I believe that the battle has now, in fact, been won. Not only are comics appealing to a wider and older audience than ever before, but the idea of comics as a valid art form on a par at least with, say, film or rock and roll music, is widely if not quite universally accepted. Comics and graphic novels are regularly reviewed and debated in Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times Book Review, even in the august pages of The New York Review of Books. Ben Katchor won a MacArthur Fellowship, and Art Spiegelman a Pulitzer Prize.

Despite his inclusion of the horribly over-used example of the Spiegleman Pulitzer, I have to agree with him. There are more comics with high literary and artistic merit in the marketplace than ever before. This is a very good thing. It helps that there is plenty of product out there to direct new readers to for people like myself who try to preach the good word on comics. Even if I'm not reading all of it, to know it's there gives me the confidence to promote what I think is a fantastic (and relatively inexpensive) entertainment and art format.

2) However, Chabon thinks that in comic's rush to reach artistic credibility it has left its original audience - children - behind.

Children did not abandon comics; comics, in their drive to attain respect and artistic accomplishment, abandoned children. And for a long time we as lovers and partisans of comics were afraid, after so many long years of struggle and hard work and incremental gains, to pick up that old jar of greasy kid stuff again, and risk undoing it all. Comics have always been an arriviste art form, and all upstarts are to some degree ashamed of their beginnings. But frankly, I don't think that's what's going on in comics anymore.

He brings up the usual complaints from comic publishers: that there is too much competition for a kid's dollar and will eventually lose out to video games, the Internet, DVDs, etc. He also trots out the old adage that kids today are more sophisticated today. He dismisses both.

I think, we have simply lost the habit of telling stories to children. And how sad is that?

He then presents 4 general principles for creating great comic books for kids. I won't list them here, but you can quickly find them by scanning through the transcript of the speech. They are good ideas that could generate fascinating stories for youngsters if implemented with skill and creativity.

Good comics for kids would translate into more comic books readers. More comic book reading kids means more comic book reading adults down the road. Unless more readers are brought in, the industry won't be able to sustain itself.

3) Chabon, like myself, has pretty much forced comics on his kids up to this point.

My son Zeke is here tonight. He's seven, and he likes comic books. In 1944, if you were a seven year old, you probably knew a dozen other kids your age who were into Captain Marvel and the Submariner and the Blue Beetle. When I was seven, in 1970, I knew three or four. But in his class, in his world, Zeke is unique. Comic books are so important to me-I have thought, talked and written about them so much-that if he didn't like them, I think he would be obliged to loathe them. I have pretty much forced comics on my kids.

We can't afford to take this handcrafted, one-kid-at-a-time approach anymore. We have to sweep them up and carry them off on the vast flying carpets of story and pictures on which we ourselves, in entire generations, were borne aloft, on carpets woven by Swan and Hamilton, Kirby and Lee. They did it for us; we have to pass it on, pay it forward. It's our duty, it's our opportunity, and I really do believe it will be our pleasure.


Ian loves comic books now - but I can't be certain that he'll continue to enjoy them in the future. I guess it will be my job to show him how the comic book form is already to grow with him. It doesn't have to be superheroes all the time. And I'm ready to take on the more daunting task of turning two girls (Emma and Zoe) into comic readers. Daunting because despite many of the accomplishments in the comics field, a vast majority of the books appeal mainly to boys. There are books that appeal to girls - and the list grows longer every day - but they are harder to find.

Hopefully the creators in the comic book industry listen to Chabon's call to action and create the books that will make my sale of comics to Ian, Emma, and Zoe - and their friends/classmates/cousins - easier.

The Olympic Spirit

FHM appears to have it - or at least some warped version of it.

FHM Cover of 5 female Olympians
FHM magazine salutes Team USA's Golden Girls, in their September issue, which salutes some of Olympic Team USA's standout female athletes with a special gatefold cover and photo portfolio featuring, left to right; Logan Tom, volleyball team member; swimmers Amanda Beard (news - web sites) and Haley Cope; Jenny Adams and high jumper Amy Acuff. (AP Photo/FHM,George Holz)

"McKillip Is a Marvel To Behold"

That's a direct quote from this first review of First Folio's staging of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, IL. The whole production received glowing comments for the show. Everything from the set design, to the choice in settings for the play, to the action and musical segments are praised by Tom Williams from Chicago Stage Talk Radio. The recommendation is clear - you really need to take in this wonderful staging under stars of one of the Bard's most popular plays.

Congratulations to my brother and the entire cast and crew of Midsummer for putting together what appears to be a knockout show.

Rants and Thoughts

Is it possible to develop an aversion to milk at 31 (almost 32) years of age? I don't drink a lot of straight milk - though I eat plenty of ice cream, cheese, and yogurt. The last two times I have had simple glasses of milk I've become sick to my stomach, one time I even had some other problems. Heather thinks I've developed intolerance for milk. Maybe I have. Getting old is weird.

To the fat lady who doesn't bother to look where she's walking when strutting out of a Starbuck's onto a crowded Chicago city sidewalk in the morning - next time you do that I'm gonna knock you latte-inflated ass on the sidewalk. Consider yourself warned.

Yesterday when recounting the story about how I learned Nomar had arrived at the doorstep of Wrigley, Mia Hamm worked her way into the conversation. Apparently, Heather was not the only person concerned about Mrs. Garciaparra and how she will now become part of the local sports landscape. The Chicago Tribune found a way to quickly make a local connection to the international soccer star.

Is anyone outside of Heather and I watching Andy Dick's The Assistant? Its a spoof of realty tv series - most similar to Donald Trump's The Apprentice. Andy Dick's got a house full of fresh-faced college-aged kids who want to break into Hollywood so they are competing to be Andy's assistant and catch their first big break. Heather and I find it absolutely hysterical. Andy is completely obnoxious and the kids play it totally gullible. We really enjoy trying to figure out who's in on the joke and who's baffled. The producer's are doing a pretty good job of hitting the right mix of in-on-the-joke and in-the-dark between the cast because a week hasn't gone by that Heather and I aren't laughing out loud at what's transpiring onscreen. It airs Monday nights at 9:30 pm CST.

Cubs logoOne more thought on the Nomar trade. Does everyone understand that trades like this just don't happen in Chicago? Great players typically leave Chicago. If any sports player with credentials comes to play for the city, it's usually when they're past their prime. Our great players either stay to languish along with our mediocre teams (Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, Frank Thomas) or they leave to find success elsewhere (Greg Maddux, Jamie Moyer, Dennis Eckersley). And those are just the baseball players.

I think I'm still just not comfortable with the Cubs being considered contenders and big enough players in the league that a trade like the Nomar one could be brokered. It is uncharted territory for me.

August 02, 2004

Wicked Hard Core. It's Nomar!

Cub LogoI watched the Cubs game on Saturday and the announcers kept talking about the looming trade deadline. I didn't think much about it because I really didn't believe the Cubs would be scurrying to close some last minute trade - let alone blockbuster trade. That night Heather's parents were in and we didn't turn the TV on at all. No news, no nothing. I was the last one to get up Sunday morning and lazily made my way downstairs. I sat down at the kitchen table and dug through the mess of the Sunday paper to find the sports section. I think I took about three double-takes before it sank in that the Cubs had brought Nomar Garciaparra to Chicago before the trade deadline.

I ran upstairs to where Heather was checking email.

"You didn't tall me about Nomar!" I shouted as I frantically waved the headline in front of her.

"What, he plays for the Red Sox, right?" was here bored and annoyed response.

"Noooo, they traded him," I corrected while pointing at the headline - again.

"To who? The Yankees?" While I appreciated my wife's immediate grasp of what could have been the ultimate "knife in the heart" moment for Beantown, I set her straight.

"No! The Cubs! The Cubs actually made a trade that mattered. That could make the team great. That could help them make the playoffs and win the World Series."

(To be fair, I'm not sure if I said all of that. I might have only said "No! The Cubs! The Cubs actually made a trade that mattered." But I was thinking everything else, so I thought I would include it here.)

"Oh, does Mia Hamm come with him?" was Heather's response.

Never mind. I suddenly had a taste for some clam chowdah and a soda

-----------------------

Anyway, I am completely stoked about this trade. The Cubs got Nomar - a 5-time All-Star, AL Rookie of the Year in 1997, and two-time AL Batting Champion, and all they had to give up is Alex Gonzalez and some minor league pitching prospects. It's anyone's guess whether or not Nomar sticks around after this season - he is a free agent at the end of the year - his presence on the team right now should be fantastic. The Cubs improved both defense and offense by brining one player to the team.

I mean listen to these names: Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Greg Maddux, Derrek Lee, Moises Alou, Nomar Garciaparra - those are solid baseball players and baseball stars. Then add on these names of rising talent; Carlos Zambrano, Mark Grudzielanek, Corey Patterson, and Aramiz Ramirez. What you get is a team that it's hard not to be excited about. Screw what I said two weeks ago. These Cubs will make the playoffs - hell, they may even win the division. Can one player make that much of a difference on a baseball team? I don't know - but right now I believe it can.

HA HA

Funny (and legit) eBay auction

Get Well, Steve

Steve Jobs had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his pancreas. According to story, the form of pancreatic cancer he had contracted is the more rare - less deadly version of the cancer. By detecting it early and removing the cancerous cells, Jobs is expected to make a full recovery.

Despite his obviously monstrous ego, I still have always respected and admired Steve Jobs. He's always impressed me as a true original in business. A dreamer who is able to realize his visions, communicate them to the masses, and quite often make some money from it. I hope he makes a quick recovery.