October 31, 2004

Happy Halloween

I tried to find the most terrify image possible to post on Halloween. After weeks of searching I came up with this:

scarey scarey scarey

Pretty scarey stuff.


Way To Go Wildcats

northwestern logobeat Purdue 13-10.

Sure they've still lost to Minnesota and Wisconsin, but the Wildcats are holding their own. I'm glad to see them fighting every week. Unlike the Illini who are just pathetic.

October 29, 2004

This Is Disturbing For Many Reasons

al roker and matt lauer

Al Roker as Oprah Winfry and Matt Lauer as Paris Hilton on the Today show.

Those are the ugliest legs I think I have ever seen.

Steve Stone Has Left The Building

cubs logoI hope the Cubs are happy with themselves. Bbecause they weren't able to handle the pressue of being a World Series hopeful, not only did they completely miss the playoffs, but they've driven two of the best television baseball broadcasters out of Chicago.

Steve Stone announced yesterday that he had resigned as the Cubs broadcast analyst, just a few weeks after Chip Caray accepted an offer to go call games in Atlanta - an offer the Chicago Tribune didn't bother to try and match. Steve stated that he felt the situation had just become so bad that he wouldn't be able to return and work for the Cubs.

This all started because the players didn't like the criticism Steve and Chip were leveling on the under-performing Cub players. Chip Caray said about what happened during the season, "Steve talked to Dusty and Hendry (about the situation). They did what they could. When you talk to gentlemen who don't act like gentlemen, there's not much you can do about it. This type of behavior wouldn't be tolerated in any other clubhouse. Frankly, I think Steve, a person of his stature, deserves better than that."

The kicker - many of the players who complained the most about Chip and Steve won't be here next year either because of free agency or whatever.

So Chicago Cubs fans are left with nothing. No World Series. No Chip and Steve. Just a promise for a good year next year.

Great job there boys.

Comic Book Reviews

I haven't really reviewed or talked about any comics in a while and I've been reading some really good stuff, so it's time to climb back up on my comic book soapbox.

Blankets coverFirst up is Blankets by Craig Thompson.

Steve, the new Chief Technology Officer where I work, turns out to be a big comic book fan like myself. We've been talking about what we like and what we don't, and what's good to read. He lent me his copy of Blankets, a graphic novel in the truest sense of the term that debuted in 2003, to read last week while I was crisscrossing the country over-seeing focus group sessions. The book comes in just shy of 600 pages (592 to be exact) and takes the reader through some of the author's defining moments of childhood - growing up within a rigidly fundamentalist Christian family, moments of bonding with his brother, his first love, and making the move from adolescence to independent adult life.

Blankets is one of the finest comic books I've ever read, and could be the best book I've read all year. Thompson's mastery of his craft is apparent. His storytelling skills are excellent and his artwork is superb. His smooth flowing lines capture all the nuances of body language and unspoken language of the every day and help the reader transcend the written word and connect with the characters emotionally and spiritually. Thompson is able to make you feel what the character feels. An impressive feat.

Blankets is an autobiographical work. All too often in comics, when an artist tackles an autobiographical project the resulting comic is self-indulgent and dry. Thompson not only has created a work that connects with his readers, he is also able to entertain. Humor can be found through out the book and Thompson deftly juggles the darker scenes with the lighter scenes to keep the books from feeling like a morbid sob fest. Not that it is, mind you. Everyone's life has pain. It's unavoidable. Thompson makes sure that in reflecting on these events in his life and sharing them with us in his novel, that he is able to keep it all in context. How he's learned from the pain. How the struggles in his life have shaped who he is now and how he is moving forward into a happy life with what he has learned.

Blankets is the comic that I want to recommend to everyone. I already suggested to Heather, who read Blankets before I returned it to Steve. She loved it. Now I'm considering buying my own copy of the book so I can lend it out to others, just like Steve has done. It's that good of a novel.

How can anything compare after that review? It can't, but there is still some great comic stuff out there that I think people should know about.

daisy kutter #2Daisy Kutter #2 - It bills itself as a sci-fi/western action adventure comic. It stars retired train robber Daisy Kutter, who is trying to adjust to civilian life when suddenly she loses everything in a game of Texas No Limit Hold 'em. This is enough to draw her out of retirement and accept a strange offer from a mysterious man who wants her to rob his own train.

I'm really loving this comic. Put out by small publisher Viper Comics from creator Kazu Kibuishi, Daisy Kutter is just a great fun story told with strong comic book skills. I mean most of the second issue is Daisy and Sheriff Tom talking about what Daisy's going to do now that she lost everything she owns in the poker game and revealing the past history Tom and Daisy share, and I was entertained on every page.

Looks like some good old fashion train robbin' action is in store for issue #3 and I can't hardly wait.

Perfect for all ages, but written sophistication that will appeal to more mature readers. We're only halfway through the four-issue mini-series, but I've very glad I took the gamble to add this to my pull list.

The Phantom #4 - Being a long-time Phantom fan, I was stoked when Moonstone announced that they would start a standard Phantom comic here in the States. Even though The Phantom is a purely American creation, his adventures are much more popular over seas than here in the Colonies. Moonstone said they would publish every other month, but there series started with issue #1 in December 2003 and this is October 2004 and we're only up to #4. However, if it takes this slower publishing schedule to get quality Phantom tales like they have been producing, then I don't mind the wait.

Issue #4 of The Phantom is the finale of the two-part "Curse of the Phantom" story. The regular writer of The Phantom is Ben Raab, and he is joined on each story arc by a different artist. For this story Nick Derington had the pencil duties. Derington's artwork is great. It's got a bit of a Darwyn Cook look to it - but a little rougher. Along with the coloring. I really like the visuals that this art team provides for the Phantom.

Really fun comic. I'm glad that I'm waiting to pick this up when it comics out.

I've also recently finished a few trades that were quite good.

The Good: Nuthin' But Misery is by Eric Powell and collects six issues of The Goon comic book series. I decided to pick this up after thoroughly enjoying The Goon issue #7 a couple months back and wasn't disappointed with the collected edition. It's hillbilly horror like none other. Eric Powell has got a wonderfully twisted imagination and dark sense of humor.

"Knife to the eye!"

Queen & Country: Operation Dandelion is the first collected edition of Q&C that I've picked up. Before I was picking up each issue individually but decided that they would probably be easier to read with the story all collected together. My intuition proved to be correct. I enjoyed reading through the whole story straight through, especially as complex as Greg Rucka's writing can get when detailing the inter-workings of the British MI-5, MI-4, and the other government agencies.

harry johnsonFinally, just so you don't think that I love everything I read. A number of months ago I talked about a comic called Harry Johnson. I ordered it based on the preview stuff I had seen at the FulpFiction.com website. The comic looked like it would be a lot of fun. Set in the 1940's, it stars a goofy, womanizing detective fighting Nazis and Samurais with a bunch of beautiful woman hanging around. A parody of sorts of Indiana Jones and private eye pulp stories.

The reality is that while the comic looks gorgeous, Craig Rousseau's pencils are wonderful; there is plenty of room for improvement in the script. Instead of trying to give a cohesive plot to hang his parody on, writer Charles Fulp crams in as many gags and double entendres as will fit in a 22-page comic. It grows tiring after a while.

It's a shame, really. Fulp obviously took some time (and a lot of his own money - this comic is self-published) to work up this comic and find some stellar artists to surround him. The concept is great; he just doesn't come through on the writing. It's like Fulp is just trying too hard to be funny. Maybe if he had dialed it back a bit and worked more on story and let the humor developed out of the situations instead of trying to figure out how to make all the gags fit in, we would have ended up with a better comic.

Last Minute Halloween Costume Idea

In case you're still stuck for a costume for Halloween, StarWars.com can help you out:

Star Wars Teaser Trailer - 11/5

Star Wars logoThe teaser trailer for Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith will debut November 5th in front of Pixar's new film The Incredibles.

Like there wasn't enough incentive for me to go see The Incredibles already, now it offers me a chance to see shots of the final Star Wars movie. Plus, because I already planned on taking Ian to go see The Incredibles, I know something like this will make a trip to the movie theater even more fun for him. Not only is he getting to see a great film, he's getting to see some Star Wars stuff too.

Mark my words, The Incredibles is going to do big bucks at the box office that first weekend. Take Pixar's track record for creating entertaining, well done animated films and mix in the first look at Episode III and you have the recipe for millions upon millions of tickets being sold. I remember a few years back when the teaser for Episode II was playing before some crappy movies, people were buying tickets just to see the trailers and then leaving the building. Here they've combined a hot trailer with what will probably be a great movie. Theater owners must be warming up the calculators.

Pumpkin Pickin' Pictures

Say that three times fast.

Posted some photos of the kids from our recent trip out to pick some pumpkins for Halloween. Because Ian had already gone to Sonny Acres Farm on a field trip with his class, I decided we would go to the next best thing: The Farm. It's a family-run farm stand close to our house in Aurora. Heather buys corn and other vegatable there all summer long, and they grow the pumpkins right there at the farm stand. So you get to actually walk out into the field and literally pick your own pumpkin.

The Farm had sale where if you bought two pumpkins, you got a third own free; so now we're gonna be doing a whole lot of jack-o-lantern carving tonight in preparation of Halloween this Sunday.

kids picking pumpkins

October 28, 2004

I'm Getting This for Elizabeth

Not to be undone by U2, Ashlee Simpson now has her own iPod: the iPod Ashlee Simpson Karaoke Edition for Pop Stars.

All I Want For Christmas is Some Elvis Wine

elvis wine labelBlue Christmas: Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 2002

This special edition Blue Christmas: Cabernet Sauvignon is a keepsake and commemorates Elvis' most popular Christmas song. It's sure to be treasured as long as the song. Whether gift giving or collecting for yourself, Graceland Cellars' Blue Christmas: will be enjoyed by everyone.

Lush and ripe with black currant, plums, and black cherry, this Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has a wonderful core of fruit. It's well balanced with complex tannins and yearlong oak aging. A light mineral component complements the dark fruits, leather, vanilla, and char. Age-worthy if choosing to lay it down, it also drinks well now. Drink now through 2010.

Blue Christmas is now available at retail stores in CA, GA, NJ, NY, OH, and TN - with more states coming soon. You might be able to order it online soon too.

Come On Green Bay!

Since the Washington Redskins became the Redskins in 1933, the result of the team's final home game before the presidential election has correctly predicted the White House winner.

If the Redskins win, the incumbent party wins.

If the Redskins lose, the incumbent party loses.

The Redskins play the Green Bay Packers at home this weekend. The Skins offense seemed to come alive last week - but come on, that was against the Bears. Washington is still 2-4 and not looking too strong. Sure they've got a solid defense that could make things difficult for Favre and friends, but ultimately I think Green Bay is the superior team.


Some days Blogger royally pisses me off. How hard is it to simply push a file via FTP to my website? FTP is one of the basic transfer protocols on the Internet. It's been around forever. Yet, they seem to have more problems with publishing. Especially over the last few weeks since Google (who owns Blogger) went public.


I've been seriously considering completely revamping the blog and going with something like Moveable Type.

October 27, 2004

Congratulations to the Red Sox

red sox logoJust watched the Boston Red Sox sweep the Cardinals to win their first World Series since 1918. Pretty impressive. Good for them. They completely dominated the Cards in the Series and played like a team on a mission. After being down 3 - 0 to the New York Yankees, the Red Sox won 8 straight games to take the title. If that doesn't prove they are the World Champions, I don't no what does.

One gripe though - there isn't any Red Sox curse. It's been 86 years of bad luck since they dumped Babe Ruth. The Cubs have the curse placed on them by the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern here in Chicago when the Cubs wouldn't let him bring his pet goat into the stadium. Please, get this right.

I'll make my prediction now: next year it'll be Cubs - Red Sox.

Oh yeah.

New Photos

Added some new photos of the kids to the site. I think you'll enjoy them.

I should be added some photos from our trip picking a pumpkin for Halloween soon also. We go some great shots at the pumpkin farm.

That's Almost 1,700 words a day

November is National Novel Writing Month. Founded in 1999, this month-long event challenges would-be novel writers to crank out a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. You start at 12:00 am November 1st and go until 11:59 pm November 30th. The organizer count your words and if you've hit the magic 50,000 count, you're considered a winner.

The organizers of NaNoWriMo (as it's called), stress the fun and excitement of writing over quality. Writers aren't supposed to be concerned with revisions and editing, they're just suppose to crank out roughly 1,700 words a day for 30 days.

I've been hearing about it a lot lately, my sister even sent me an email about it, and I'm starting to consider participating. I figure, what the hell? What do I have to lose? Like NaNoWriMo says on their site, "Novel writing is mostly a "one day" event. As in "One day, I'd like to write a novel." Here's the truth: 99% of us, if left to our own devices, would never make the time to write a novel. It's just so far outside our normal lives that it constantly slips down to the bottom of our to-do lists. The structure of NaNoWriMo forces you to put away all those self-defeating worries and START."

This would definitely get me started on something. Hey, I could even serialize here on my website.

Now, if I can only come up with a plot . . .

I'm a #10, #9, #7, and Marginal #3

Dorkstorm: The Annihilation - The Wave magazine ranks the #10 geekiest hobbies.

#10 - Comic Books: Yep. No argument there.

#9 - Role Playing Games: I was, as was most of the kids my age, an avid Dungeons & Dragons player back in the 80's. Haven't played since 6th or 7th grade through.

#7 - Star Wars: Yep. Hardcore.

#3 - Star Trek: I watched the last few seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but really haven't done much before or after that. So I think this one is debatable.

Thanks, Ed, for bringing this to my attention.

Two More Reasons to Love Apple Computers

The iPod Photo and the iPod Special Edition: U2.

For my money, I'd love the U2 edition.

U2 iPod

Not only does it come in a striking black with red click wheel, it's signed by all the boys from Dublin (replications, I know).

Expanding My Horizions

I've always been pretty open minded when it came to music. Though I'll always favor old fashioned, straight-up rock, if you check out my iTunes collection you'll see a mix of all sorts of genres. Classical, pop, world music, rap, R&B, and the list goes on.

I recently realized that I've never really given Latin Pop a try. Sure there are those cross over talents like Ricky Martin or Shakira, but I've never really gone "native" if you know what I mean.

Just learned about Paulina Rubio - a latin pop star who is tearing up the charts. Maybe I should search her out on iTunes, maybe I'll like her music. Latin pop is known for its energy - who couldn't use a little energizing music in their collection.

Oh yeah. She also wears backless dresses on stage.

Paulina Rubio

Slam-a-Lam-a DING-DONG

I've seen the commericals for Budweiser starring sports announcer Joe Buck and think they're really funny. I read this article and have decided Joe Buck is a pretty cool guy.

Still won't buy Budweiser beer though.

What A Crappy Day

I am getting absolutely slammed at work. This sucks.

October 26, 2004

This Is Historic

For the first time in its 80-year history, the New Yorker magazine is endorsing a political candidate. The magazine is backing John Kerry for president, citing Bush administration's record as being one "of failure, arrogance, and - strikingly for a team that prided itself on crisp professionalism - incompetence."

In contrast, The New Yorker said Kerry "has demonstrated steadiness and sturdiness of character."

Interesting. Obviously this election is shaping up to be bigger than anything in the past if it would stir The New Yorker to actually come out a endorse one candidate over another.

More Wedding Plans Revealed

Last week my sister's finance, Patrick, sent me all the info I needed to get my tux for their wedding this upcoming spring. Imagine my surprise when I learned that instead of a cummerbund or vest, all male attendants in the wedding would be accessorizing with these:

patricks hat

I don't think I make it look as good as this model, but whatever the groom wants - he should get. It's their wedding after all.

Thoughts and Rants

Where's the cold weather? Halloween in five days and we're still suffering through 70-degree weather. I'm tired of the warmth. I want the cold. Give me 40s and 50s.

This is why I won't work in sports journalism. Last week I wrote, "Note to Red Socks and Astros: It's over. Quit stringing your fans along."

Wait a minute - I got 1 out of 2 right. That's 50%. That's good enough for sports journalism. At least at Fox Sports.

By now I'm sure you've seen the poster for Alexander, the new movie coming out this November from Oliver Stone starring Colin Farrel and Angelina Jolie about the life of Alexander the Great. I know I've been walking past the same poster on a bus stop waiting area for the last month.

Anyway, take a look at the guy in the beard and golden laurels just to the left of Colin Farrell in the poster:

alexander movie poster

Tell me that doesn't look like Mathew Perry (Chandler from "Friends" for my sister's benefit) in a cheap beard? That's what I thought the first 200 times I saw it. Turns out It's actually Val Kilmer. Wierd.

And to the lady doing 40 mph in the Route 59 train station parking lot at 7:50am this morning - It's a fucking parking lot! Slow your ass down or you're gonna hit someone. Oh yeah - I saw where you parked and I'm gonna go key your doors this evening when I get home.

Up Your's Captain Planet!

Funny story. How many of you remember Captain Planet and the Planteers? Please raise your hands. . . . That's what I thought.

captain planetIt was a cartoon in the late 80's that was very ecologically minded. Captain Planet and his five little friends traveled around the planet preaching the good practices of recycling and proper ranching techniques. Simply put, it was a horribly lame-ass cartoon. I can't remember ever watching it when it originally aired.

Cartoon Network has re-aired it from time to time, usually at four or five in the morning. This past spring, when Heather was taping some Rescue Heroes episodes for Ian to watch, she taped a few Captain Planet's as well. Not knowing too much about the show (thought the name pretty much tells you everything you need to know), she thought Ian might like them. Turns out he loves Captain Planet and will frequently request to watch the show.

He's only 5, so I'll allow it for now; but I'm still working on his appreciation of quality animation and don't expect this fascination with the Captain to last.

Anyway, every episode ends with the Captain Planet rap - I kid you not. The final line in the rap is Captain Planet's rallying cry, "The Power is Yours!"

Goosebump inducing, I know.

Ian and Emma (who has also become a fan of the Captain - my work is cut out for me) were watching an episode the other day and began singing along with the song at the end.

Ian shouted out a powerful, "The Power is Yours!" right along with the show.

Emma followed with her own interpretation of the lyrics, "The Power is UP Yours!"

Good girl.

October 25, 2004

Groovy Man

When Dick Grayson gave up being Robin (of Batman and Robin fame) he decided he wanted to still fight crime but wanted to find his own superhero identity - as it were. So he named himself "Nightwing" after a fictional comic book hero from the planet Krypton that Superman had told him about and came up with a new costume to go with the new name. (I know fictional comic book heroes talking about 'fictional' comic book heroes. Don't you love us comic book geeks).

Unfortunately these changes to the character occured in the early 80s when fashion was a bit hit or miss - usually miss. Nightwing ended up with a powder blue number, with a humpty-dumpty collar of sorts and a v-neck cut down to his navel. The new costime was groovy man, real goovy.

Anyway, no sooner did the new costume debut but the artists started trying to tone it down; finally scraping the powder blue colors around the mid-90's with the launch of Nightwing first solo comic book title. His current costime is a respectable black and midnight blue - fitting for a character who runs in the shadows and traces his roots to Batman.

Why am I telling you all this? Becasue DC Direct - the direct marketing arm of DC Comics that creates some pretty wicked action figures of DC heroes has a 1st Appearances line of action figures and they've turned their scope on Dick Grayson. Hence, in May of 2005 you can get the following action figure:

totally groovy Nightwing

I seriously considering ordering it. Only because 1) I've always loved the character and 2) how can I skip out on something as trippy as this?

Why Competition Is Good

All Amazon.com has to do is make some hints that they are considering moving into a market and things start to move. Because of the growing speculation that Amazon.com would start its own DVD subscription rental service, Netflix and Blockbuster have both cut their prices. Let me stress this point again - Amazon.com hasn't officially announced anything yet. They haven't officially entered the market. Yet, the market is changing and being influenced by Amazon.com.

I find that remarkable and a testament to the business power of Amazon.com.

Personally, Heather and I don't subscribe to anything like Netflix - but I always figured once the kids were a little older and we got back to watching movies a little more regularly, that it would be a great service to signup for. Now by waiting I'll have the ability to enter in at a lower price than if we had joined a year ago.

I love a free market economy.

Southern Hospitality?

A teacher in Georgia attacked a mother who tried to retrieve her daughter's book bag, which according to police reports, the teacher had placed in the trash for unknown reasons. When the mother was able to wrestle the bag away from the teacher, the teacher threw a chair at her, knocking her to the ground. The teacher then began beating the woman about the body and face.

The 9-year old girl was crying for the teacher to stop hitting her mom, but the teacher responded by hitting the girl, pulling her hair, and then pushing her out of the way before resuming her beating of the mother.

Two people had to pull the teacher off the mother.

The mother went to the hospital and the teacher is now in jail.

I Hate Business Travel

I don't like traveling for business. Sitting in lines at the airport. Being away from Heather and the kids. Schlepping through hotels. Having to be "on" for business essentially 24/7 while on the road. It sucks. Really the only perk is getting time alone in the hotel room at night. That appeals to reclusive side of my nature. I get all sorts of reading done and am free to watch whatever I want.

I was in Washington D.C. on Tuesday and then in San Francisco, CA on Thursday of last week, with a brief stay over - at home - in Chicago on Wednesday. I was overseeing some focus groups my company is conducting. When I go to places like New Orleans, Atlanta, Las Vegas, or even Orlando - I don't mind being there on business, because usually there's nothing I'm all that interested in seeing - or once I see it (i.e. Vegas) I've pretty much had my fill. (Orlando is an exception, but with three kids I know I be making it back there). However this was my first time to San Francisco. I would have liked to see more of the city, explore it a bit. Hell, see the Golden Gate Bridge. Alas, when traveling on business this isn't always the case. I spent most of the time inside a dark focus group observation room being the guy behind the two-way mirror. Did get out to literally an alleyway bar called The Irish Bank which was quite good. But to say "I've been to San Fran" is still stretching it.

Not to say that I harbor a great desire to visit San Francisco, but as long as I was out there it would have been nice to take advantage of the situation.

October 20, 2004

Batman: Europa

One of my favorite artists, Jim Lee, is getting another Batman project together for DC Comics called Batman: Europa. It will be a four issue mini-series written by Brian Azzarello and with each issus featuring painted art by a different artist. Lee gets the first issue, and the remaining three issues go to artists from Europe. The story will deal with Batman - and of all people the Joker - tracking a foe through Paris, Berlin, Prague, and Rome.

I love the concept. Getting a chance to see these other artists is great, as will being able to see more Jom Lee artwork. He did some painted stuff in the Hush Batman storyline last year and it looked beautiful. I also really enjoy Azzarello's writing - espeically when writing crime/detective fiction, like he gets with Batman.

Looking forward to this release.

Isn't This How It Always Starts

You're at home, trying to kill a mouse with a gun, and WHAM . . . . something always goes wrong.

CONFLUENCE, Pa. - A man missed a mouse he was trying to shoot with a small-caliber handgun and wounded his girlfriend instead, state police said.

Donald Rugg, 43, of Confluence, was trying to kill the rodent with a .22-caliber handgun when his girlfriend, Cathy Jo Harris, 38, apparently went into the line of fire and was hit in the arm early Tuesday morning, state police said.

She was taken to Somerset Hospital where she was listed in fair condition Tuesday, said hospital spokesman Greg Chiappelli.

Neither Rugg nor Harris could immediately be reached for comment.

State police said they won't charge Rugg, but advised against people shooting firearms inside.

October 18, 2004

The New Superman

superman logoThe web is all a buzz about the rumor that Warner Brothers set to announce that the actor starring as Superman/Clark Kent in the Bryan Singer helmed movie is none other than: Brandon James Routh


That's right. Singer has gone on record as saying that he would cast an unknown as the new Man of Steel (much the same way Christopher Reeve was an unknow before suiting up in the 80s), and if the rumor holds, then Singer can be considered a man of his work.

A site called LatinoReview.com broke the story (and have a picture of Brandon dressed as Clark/Superman from a Halloween party a few years ago) and the rumor has been "verified" by a number of the bigger movie rumor mills.

I'll wait for official word from WB, but this could be the real deal. At least Routh looks the part, other than names like Nicholas Cage and Brendan Fraser which have been thown about.

Rants and Thoughts

It's a busy day today, so I probably won't get to write much, so I thought I'd get this off my chest early.

Jonathan Quinn is a horrible quarterback. I can't remember the last time I saw such a disgusting performance at quarterback for the Chicago Bears - and that includes the season Kordell Stewart played here. I don't think Quinn could have hit his receivers if the entire opposing team's defense laid down and took a nap on the field. And why do you allow yourself to take consecutive sacks when there is less than 2 minutes left in the game, when you only have one timeout and you're already in field goal range? Why? Oh, this is going to painful. Anyone would be better than Quinn.

Can't get too excited about Notre Dame winning over Navy. Sure, Navy was 5-0, but it was Navy. They hadn't really defeated anyone spectacular. Sure, they were a good team, but the Irish was prepared for the game and had better talent executing on the plays. The Midshipmen really didn't stand a chance. It's great to have the Irish improve to 5-2, but I'll be more excited if they can beat Tennessee or USC in the coming weeks.

Heather is an eBay queen. She is winning stuff left and right. She's already gotten something for my birthday and Christmas, plus some stuff for Ian for Christmas. Couple that with my recent eBay Dickens' House purchases and our PayPal account is smokin' from the work.

Attended my sister's housewarming party Saturday night at her new apartment. She and the fiancee have shacked up in very nice place on the west side of Chicago. Great view of the city's skyline. Too bad it was so cold Saturday night or I think we would have all been on their huge deck. Ian and I went out on it for about 5 minutes - much too cold to stay for too long - but I was shocked at its size. It was almost as big as their actual apartment. Their apartment is very modern and hip - perfect for the two youngins venturing off on their own in the big city. Tiny apartment though. But when space is a premium, like it is in Chicago, you have to pay a lot for a lot of space, unless you want to live in a crack house. I'm still used to renting in Cleveland, where $700 a month got Heather and I a two-bedroom apartment with tons of space in a great neighborhood. Hopefully Elzabeth and Patrick will have us over in the summer to enjoy the great deck.

Note to Red Socks and Astros: It's over. Quit stringing your fans along.

October 15, 2004

Search Me

Now, thanks to the generous kids at Google.com, you can search BrendanMcKillip.com. Just look for the search box along the right-hand side of the blog or at the bottom of pages elsewhere on the site.

October 14, 2004

This Could Quickly Get Out of Hand

blenham street bankMy past experience with eBay has usually run along the lines of this; the collectable stuff I'm looking for (comics, books, action figures) is usually going for a lot more than I'm willing to pay, and the cheap stuff is usually goofy, throw away stuff. I mean anyone can pick up a copy of Dr. Phil's book in hardcover for $9.60. eBay's always been a true supply/demand marketplace.

So I've considered it a pleasant suprise to learn that Dickens' Village Homes can be gotten for cheap money on the auction site. Considering that they are collectable items and are frequently retired from production, I expected the pieces to all be going well over their original retail prices. Such has not been the case. I picked up another house early this week. Blenham Street Bank originally retailed for $60 before being retired in 1998. I absolutely love the architecture of the building, with its stacked columns and squared-off roof. The big windows also mean that this house will have a nice glow when turned on in a dark room. I got it for $11.80. Add in the $10 for shipping and my total payout is $22.80 for a $60 item.

There are a lot of Dickens' Village houses up for auction on eBay. Some are pricey, but there are plenty of great deals to be found. I'm trying to exercise restraint and not go on massive buying binge, and I think buying this last piece should satisfy me. Though as I was writing this post I checked back and came this close to picking up some figurines to add to my display this Christmas. And I don't have a church for my display yet . . .

It Would Appear They Do

Hurray. Let the blogging continue.

Does Blogger Have Their Shit Together?

For the last two days none of my posts have been published to my blog. Blogger, who I use to administer my blog, is having technical difficulties publishing blogs hosted by someone other than Blogger (which I do). If this post gets published, the problems are over and you - fair reader - have some catching up to do.

Here it goes.

October 13, 2004

You Know What This Journal Needs?

More cowbell

The Corruption of My Children

The other morning I was making myself some english muffins for breakfast. Ian rambled up and declared that he wanted some bagels, too.

"Ian, these aren't bagels," I corrected him while holding up the bag of Thomas' English Muffins. I lifted up the bag of bagels we had on the counter. "These are bagels."

"What are those?" Ian asked, pointing at the muffin I was splitting with a fork.

"These are english muffins. Those limey Brits can't even get muffins right."

"Oh. I want a bagel please."

Then Ian turns to Heather and says, "Mom, I'm having a bagel. Those limey brits can't make muffins right."

Ahhh. That's my boy.

Today's Moment of Zen

fall scene
Calais, Vt. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

October 12, 2004

Coffee Drinkers, Unite

I'm not a coffee drinker - can't stand the stuff. Give me a can of Coke and a Milky Way in the morning for a good kick start to the day. Despite this, I still think Starbuck's is absolutely goofy and is a threat equal to Walmart and McDonald's in their ability to homogenize and sterilize the American cultural landscape.

Apparently Dave Barry feels the same way too:

As you know, this trend began several years ago, when Starbucks (motto: "There's one opening right now in your basement") decided to call its cup sizes "Tall" (meaning "not tall" or "small"), "Grande" (meaning "medium") and "Venti" (meaning, for all we know, "weasel snot").

Unfortunately, we consumers, like moron sheep, started actually using these names. Why? If Starbucks decided to call its toilets "AquaSwooshies," would we go along with that? Yes! Baaa! But it's getting worse. Recently, at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Death March, Mister Language Person noticed that a Starbucks competitor, Seattle's Best Coffee (which also uses "Tall" for small and "Grande" for medium) is calling its large cup size - get ready - "Grande Supremo." Yes. And as Mister Language Person watched in horror, many customers - seemingly intelligent, briefcase-toting adults - actually used this term, as in, "I'll take a Grande Supremo."

Listen, people: You should never, ever have to utter the words "Grande Supremo" unless you are addressing a tribal warlord who is holding you captive and threatening to burn you at the stake. Just say you want a large coffee, people. Because if we let the coffee people get away with this, they're not going to stop, and some day, just to get a lousy cup of coffee, you'll hear yourself saying, "I'll have a Mega Grandissimaximo Giganto de Humongo- Rama-Lama-Ding-Dong decaf." And then you will ask for the key to the AquaSwooshie. And when that happens, people, the terrorists will have won.

That's right. Fight the power.

Marvel Knights Spider-Man

A couple of months ago Marvel launched yet another Spider-Man title, but this time under their Marvel Knights imprint. The Marvel Knights imprint is where creators can take a more mature approach to stories and storytelling. Kinda like DC's Vertigo imprint, but with superheroes. I tried out the first four issues of Spider-Man and sorta liked it, but then stopped buying. It was a good superhero book, just didn't feel like adding another superhero title to mix at the time. However today I saw some preview art for issue #8, and if all the action is scripted like what I saw here, then maybe I should take another look at Marvel Knights Spider-Man.

page 8

The dude is jumping through a flying truck to save a guy. That's wicked hard core.

Apple Picking

kuipers family farm logoOn Sunday, October 3rd, Heather, the kids, and I climbed into the van and headed out to Kuiper's Family Farm for an afternoon of apple picking. Heather and I both had some reservations for how good the apple picking would be at Kuiper's. From looking at their website you get the feeling that they're pretty corporate about how they do things. They're not the little family apple picking farms that I remember going to in Michigan with my Grandma and aunt Mary or Heather remembers visiting in Ohio. Regardless, with a 5-year old, 2-year old, and 6 month old, neither of us thought a trip much farther than the 45 minute ride to Kuiper's would be appropriate at this point and picking apples together sounded like a great fall activity.

apple pickingThough things were run very corporate with tickets and lines and formal "picking parties," the experience was great - for Heather and I and the kids. The weather was beautiful; sunny and clear, but the temps were in the mid-60s. Essentially a perfect autumn day. Ian and Emma had a blast picking real live apples off the trees. They both enjoyed eating apples fresh off the tree. Ian even found a way to eat the apples despite the fact he's still missing his front two teeth. And the apples tasted wonderful. Jonathans were what they had us picking, and we walked away with two pecks worth of apples. Heather's already made some applesauce (with plans to make more) and apple muffins (I'm lobbying hard for a pie.), and I'm taking an apple in my lunch every other day.

Overall, it was a great time. And even though Kuiper's had that corporate, chain-but-not-a-chain, pandering to the suburban family feel to it, the apples were good and the kids had fun. In the future Heather and I would like to venture out to other farms, but until the kids can handle longer daytrips Kuiper's might be a place we visit annually.

Of course I've got pictures. You can check them out over in the Photos section of my website.

Making Politics in the U.S. Look Like An Ice Cream Social

Take a look at the before and after photos of Viktor Yushchenko, who running for president of Ukraine. The photo on the left shows Viktor in July 2004 submitting his candidacy papers. The photo on the right shows Viktor on October 10, 2004 addressing the media after returning home from Austria where he was treated for what his fellow party members describe as poisoning by his political opponents.

(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Those boys in the Ukraine surely know how to host one hell of a political race.

October 11, 2004

I'm Famous to 15 People

Heather and I were able to free the shackles of parenthood and attend my cousin's wedding last Saturday sans-children. It was the first time we'd been out without the kids since . . . errr . . . it's been a long time. I know we tried it back in May, but things didn't go as planned. In any event, we both had a fantastic time out celebrating Rory's and Mary's nuptials.

What I found particularly interesting was how often this blog came up when talking to people. I knew some family members read it, but I was surprised at how many people I talked to at the wedding were familiar with my little online journal. In fact, it reminded me of something I had read over at Robert Scoble's blog, Scobleizer, about a week ago where he stated, "We want to be famous to 15 people." He was talking in reference to the growing popularity of content-creation. Essentially, everyone want to self-publish and the Internet is making it easier and easier with each passing day.

His comments, along with my experience at the wedding, made me realize that the Internet is finally fully achieving its potential in a non-commercial aspect. What I mean is, the Internet was initially set up as a way for academic types to share information quickly and easily. Jeff Bezos decided to give selling books online a try and PRESTO! . . . a new marketplace was born. However, with the growing popularity and acceptance of things like blogging, P-to-P file sharing, RSS, camera phones, and digital video, that portion of the Internet that I was always drawn to - the sharing of ideas and opinions through self-publishing avenues - is finally hitting full stride. I can write and publish with the click of a button and 15 people (or maybe eventually 150,000 people) can read what I have to say instantly.

Talking to the people at the wedding, plus a number of emails I've recently received from people commenting on what they've read on my site, also reminded me that I'm not publishing into a vacuum. I'm being read. People are hearing what I have to say. That's powerful. Exciting too.

It's like a drug really. Once you realize that you have an audience, as meager as it may be, you start to feed off that knowledge and begin craving the need to continue publishing. I want to be publishing constantly. I hate having to be tied to a computer in order to add things to my blog. I want to be able to sit up in bed and 'tap, tap, tap' add something that's just come to me. (Like the fact that I had a dream last night where I had red hair. Nice red hair - not Danny Bonaduce red hair - more like Ron Howard red hair. It was weird. Don't remember anything else about the dream though). Am I becoming obsessed? Maybe. But it can be such a rush I don't really care right now. Besides, I've got a wife who would kick my ass if I started waking up in the middle of the night to add things to my blog.

So until I can figure out how to blog while in a REM state or Heather and I start sleeping in separate beds, readers of this blog will just have to wait for posts during the day.

Thanks for reading.

Heather, I Promise To Never Do This

I wanted to post this article for two reasons:

1) The guy in the story is a complete dork

2) The reporter who wrote the story is named Fenwick - my high school alma mater

By Ben Fenwick

EDMOND, Oklahoma (Reuters) - An Oklahoma man desperate to save his marriage by appearing like a hero to his wife ended up in police custody on suspicion of staging a crime where he hired burglars and foiled their fake robbery attempt, police said on Friday.

Trent Spencer, 27, of Edmond, north of Oklahoma City, was charged this week with the misdemeanor crime of filing a false report, said police spokeswoman Glynda Chu.

According to police, Spencer, a high school teacher, paid two students $100 each to break into his house and try to make off with a stereo.

The masked students tied his wife with duct tape and her husband was in the house just in time to foil the supposed crime, police said.

Police said Spencer attacked the two in a choreographed fight, even hitting one with a board that he had cut to break in half. The plan was going well until his wife freed herself and called police, something Spencer did not anticipate, police said.

Police rushed to the scene and eventually tracked down the fake burglars.

"It was the most bizarre hoax we've ever had," Chu said. "It's sad because he was so desperate."

Christopher Reeve Dies at 52

Christopher Reeve as SupermanIt was announced Sunday night that Christopher Reeve had passed away after slipping into a coma as a result of cardiac arrest. Reeve will forever be associated with Superman, whom he portrayed in 4 movies (only the first two are worth watching), even after being paralyzed in a horse riding accident in 1995. In fact, while I admire him greatly for the work he has done after his accident and how he was inspired others, I'll always remember him mostly as the man who so wonderfully brought the Man of Steel to life on the silver screen. He will be missed.

October 08, 2004

Check Out the Fruit Cups

Don't ask.

fruit cups
(AFP/Wojtek Stein)

Fasinating and Disheartening Information

Juliet Schor is the author of Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture, a book that explores the effect of marketing and advertising on children and the family structure. I read a short interview she did with Businessweek about what she learned while doing her research. She grabbed my attention with her answer to the first question:

Q: In researching your book, what was your most startling discovery?
A: What most surprised me were the results I got from my study, which found that the more kids are exposed to consumer culture, they likelier they are to become depressed, suffer from anxiety, or experience low self-esteem. I would have thought it was the other way around -- that consumer culture was the symptom, not the cause.

Wow. According to Schor, it's marketing and the consumer culture is potentially depressing our kids. The demand to keep up with the version of reality that TV sells children is essentially eroding their self-worth because they can't live up to these unrealistic expectations.

Considering this notion, Schor suggestion of tossing the TV away makes sense. What I found interesting is how much importance Schor believes a good ole fashioned family dinner could help to counteract the effects of Madison Avenue on our children. The family dinner can provide the "emotional anchor" that children need to escape the consumer culture.

Heather's always been adamant about sitting down and eating dinner together, and I've always agreed with the notion. It surprises me that more people don't do this. It's such a great way to share time with your family and remain connected with each other. My parents, as did Heather's, always had us eat together. I never really even considered that there were alternatives. Now it would appear that this practice not only helps build a strong family but can also help children resist the lures of advertising. Those are both good things.

Hint . . . Hint . . .

star wars DVD boxThe Original Star Wars Triology came out on DVD a couple of weeks ago. While I patiently wait to get a copy of this highly desired 4-disc DVD collection, I am amusing myself with great reviews of the DVDs by people like Jimmy Mac on Steve Dahl's radio show.

Good to Be In D.C.

The boys at JibJab have posted a sequel to the very funny, "This Land" parody starring the boys of the 2004 Presidential campaign. While not as funny as "This Land," it's good for a number of laughs none the less.

Interesting: JibJab is selling both parodies collected on a DVD for $10. I'm considering buying it.

The Mother of the Brides Dress

Not to be undone by my sister's bold choices in wedding and brides-maid attire (1) (2), yesterday my Mom emails me a photo of her trying on the dress she's planning on wearing to the wedding.

mother of bride dress

I think she might get some whispers about the shoes. I think some sensible sandals made from old tires would compliment this ensemble better. But that's my Mom. She's always worked to make fashion her own.

My Christmas Display Is Gonna Be Great This Year

the olde globe theatreAs you may or may not know, I collect Dickens' Village houses from Department 56. I'm partial to the houses from "A Christmas Carol," but really any of the Dickens' Village houses look great. There's something about old English buildings circa 17th century Europe decorated for the holidays that personifies Christmas for me. I really enjoy setting up all the houses to create a festive Christmas corner in our house. Ian and Emma love seeing the display all lit up, too.

Anyway, I was updating my Department 56 Wish List in advance of my birthday and Christmas and was noticing that one of the items that I had on the list from when I first created it, The Old Globe Theatre, was actually retired. If anyone actually thought about trying to find this $175 house for me would probably have a hard time doing it. I figure, why not jump over to eBay quick and see if it's being sold there. So I did.

There were plenty of theatres being offered, but the bids were all up in the $200 dollar range for the auctions close to ending. So imagine my surprise when I saw one auction that was only a few hours old with a "buy it now" price of $55! After quickly conferring with Heather (who said, "Duh! Why are you even talking to me? Buy it! Buy it!"), I snatched that item up. $55 for an item that retails for $175 - if you can find it, because it's retired. With shipping and some sales tax (the seller is a antique dealer here in Illinois), the final cost comes out to a little over $70. But still, this is a steal for a beautiful piece. I am so totally stoked. Can't wait for it to arrive.

The Old Globe Theatre is the Christmas light-up decoration version of the theatre where William Shakespeare had many of his greatest plays produced. I might not be the fan of Bill that my brother is, but being an old college English major who's read and enjoyed plenty of the Bard's plays, I'm very excited about adding this to my collection. It's gonna look great up there with 221B Baker Street - the home of Sherlock Holmes and all the other Dickens' Village items I have to display.

The picture I'm including in this post was taken from the Department 56 site. I get the theatre, the sign, and the two actors. The trees are not included.

This is great.

October 07, 2004

Good Movie Month at TCM

Don't care what you think; I'm proud to admit that I love musicals - on the stage or on the silver screen - doesn't matter. I think they just a lot of fun to watch. Especially those big productions from MGM. This month there is a smorgasbord of musicals on Turner Classic Movies as they celebrate the genre in their "Mad About Musicals" showcase this month. Every Tuesday and Wednesday TCM will be showing some of the greatest musicals of the last 50 years. There will be plenty of great films to watch - 93 movies in total - and I'll try my best to watch them. Though I usually fall horribly short whenever I make this claim.

If getting to watch Singing in the Rain, Oklahoma, Funny Girl, and Holiday Inn wasn't enough, the "Star of the Month" at TCM is Peter Lorre. Lorre is one of enduring great character actors of Hollywood. Focusing on Lorre films means there are a whole bunch of great movies on TCM this month; Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, Arsenic and Old Lace, and a film I'm very interested in seeing, the 1931 Fritz Lang film called M. But with the only showing of the disturbing tale of a child murder occurring at 1 am the morning of the 29th of October, I'm not sure if I'll make it. I need Tivo!

And the cherry on top of this wonderful movie sundae is the classic western High Noon starring Gary Cooper that will be airing Saturday, October 30th at 9am.

Good stuff. Good stuff indeed.

Heather, Let's Fire Up the PayPal Account

The City of Chicago will be having a Great Chicago Fire Sale from December 2nd to 16th on eBay. In an effort to raise money for cultural programs, the city will be auctioning off everything from a dinner prepared by Oprah's personal chef, to the chance to dye the Chicago River green on St. Patty's Day, to my personal favorite, an original 1960s Playboy Bunny costume.

Whoops, Again

Charles A. Duelfer, whom the Bush administration chose to complete the U.S. investigation of Iraq's weapons programs, reported yesterday that Iraq had absolutely no illicit weapons and no weapons programs operating prior to the U.S. invasion of the country.

"We were almost all wrong" on Iraq, Duelfer told a Senate panel yesterday.

So what info was Bush and Cheney reviewing when they decided an invasion of Iraq was so important right away? Maybe, George and Dick just got some names mixed up when talking to the American people on the sudden need to take on Saddam. I mean, it's happened before.

Today's Moment of Zen

Stowe Community Church in Stowe, Vt. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

October 06, 2004

I Have An Idea! Time For a Family Mini-Update

I put some new photos up on the site. As you can see from what's there, Zoe is getting very adventurous. She is crawling like a madwoman and beginning to pull herself all the way up into a standing position. She was even standing while only holding on to the couch with one hand the other night. There is a possibility that Zoe could walk before she hits 9 months. She's not even 7 months old right now and already pulling herself up. Walking isn't too far behind this type of activity. Emma walked shortly after she turned 9 months old. Ian walked at around 10.5 months. Zoe could beat them both.

On the one hand it would be nice - less carrying Zoe and more walking on her own. On the other hand, shortly after kids start walking; they start running. The McKillip Family Zoo stands ready to be elevated to a whole other level craziness when Zoe takes those first steps. Three little kids running and screaming and generally tearing it up. Oy!

Meanwhile, Ian and Emma are carving out a nice little brother-sister relationship. At times they are being very loving towards each other, helping each other out with things, playing together nicely. Ah, the bliss of parenthood. Of course, with any brother-sister relationship, there is the other side. The darker side. The side with the screaming and teasing. Where they purposely do things to antagonize the other. Ugh, the bane of parenthood.

Although, out of this frenzied little relationship, one of the great quotes have come out. Putting together puzzles have had a renaissance in our house. Of course Emma wants to help Ian put together the bigger, more challenging puzzles that he likes to work on now. Emma's attempts at getting into the puzzle game with Ian is to declare to him, "I have idea!" and hold up one finger. It's really cute.

She had done this a number of times the other day while Ian was trying a particularly difficult puzzle and I think the frustration got the best of him. He angrily snapped at his sister in response to another "I have an idea" claim . . .

"Emma, there are no ideas in puzzles! You just put them together!"

Well said, Ian. Well said.

Dangerfield One-Liners

By now I'm sure you all know Rodney Dangerfield has passed away. Funny man, but I really didn't pay much attention to him outside of his film appearances in Caddyshack and Back to School. None the less, because of his passing, there are some great postings popping up highlighting some of his best one-liners.

Some of the ones I really liked:

"I could tell that my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio."

"I remember I was so depressed I was going to jump out a window on the tenth floor, so they sent a priest to talk to me. He said, "On your mark. . ."

"When my parents got divorced, there was a custody fight over me. ... and no one showed up."


V.P. Dick Cheney got his websites mixed up last night in his debate with John Edwards. He told voters to go to Factcheck.com for proof that he hadn't done anything unethical while heading up Halliburton. Unfortunately, Factcheck.com is site dedicated to getting George Bush out of office. Cheney meant to say Factcheck.org.

Adding insult to injury, accoding to the guys running Factcheck.org - even if the Veep had got the URL right, the info on the site wouldn't have exonarated Cheney of the charges Edwards was leveling at him.

The following statement was taken from the website today, "Cheney ... wrongly implied that we had rebutted allegations Edwards was making about what Cheney had done as chief executive officer of Halliburton. In fact we did post an article pointing out that Cheney hasn't profited personally while in office from Halliburton's Iraq contracts, as falsely implied by a Kerry TV ad. But Edwards was talking about Cheney's responsibility for earlier Halliburton troubles. And in fact, Edwards was mostly right."

That Internet is a tricky thing, isn't it Mr. Cheney. Maybe he and George can spin this URL snafu around and blame the Democrats. After all, Al Gore invented the Internet.

This Is Huge

I'm not a huge Howard Stern fan - probably listen to him once or twice a month - but can't deny the popularity of the man or his show. Plus, he has got a voice that's just made for radio. It almost demands you to listen to it.

Anyway, he announced today that he'll be leaving his deal with Infinity Broadcasting Corp. and jumping to satellite radio operator Sirius in January 2006.

This is a huge boon for both Sirius and Stern. Sirius should see demand for their products and service spike in late 2005 as the hoards of 18-49 year old males get ready to tune in to Stern's daily show. Stern should get more creative freedom over his own show. Something he has always struggled with when he's had to rely on syndication through the mega radio conglomerates like Infinity. Additionally, I think the FCC doesn't control services like Sirius like they do public airwaves like radio and network television. If that holds true, and if Stern is popular on Sirius, it could start a trend of other radio personalities moving to this pay-for radio service to host their shows on.

Something to watch.

News You Can Use

ROME (Reuters) - Making love in a bar lavatory does not breach public decency laws so long as the door is shut, an Italian court ruled on Tuesday.

A Swiss couple was accused of committing obscene acts after the owner of a bar in the northern Italian town of Como caught them having sex in the lavatory, Ansa news agency reported.

State prosecutors demanded a six-month prison term for the un-named male defendant and a five-month term for his partner.

But Judge Luciano Storaci threw out the case, saying public decency was not offended because the door was closed.

However, he fined the Swiss man 200 euros ($246) for breaking the lock on the lavatory after he was caught with his trousers down.

"If the barman had given me time to get dressed then nothing would have happened," Ansa quoted the Swiss woman as saying.

October 05, 2004

Yeah, This Was Necessary

He-ManJohn Woo has signed on to produce and direct a live-action adaptation of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe for the big screen. I guess Fox figured that enough time had passed since the 1987 Masters of the Universe film starring Dolph "I will break you" Lundgren that the movie going public was clamoring again for a muscle-bound man all greased up and wearing only fur underpants to fight a guy dressed in purple with a skull for a head to entertain us on the silver screen.

I can hardly wait.

I Really Like #11, #19 and #30

This list was emailed to me last week and I found a number of the items particularly funny. So I share with you now.

1. Save the whales. Collect the whole set.
2. A day without sunshine is like, night.
3. On the other hand, you have different fingers.
4. I just got lost in thought. It was unfamiliar territory.
5. 42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.
6. 99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
7. I feel like I'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe.
8. Honk if you love peace and quiet.
9. Remember, half the people you know are below average.
10. He who laughs last thinks slowest.
11. Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
12. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
13. I drive way too fast to worry about cholesterol.
14. Support bacteria. They're the only culture some people have.
15. Monday is an awful way to spend 1/7 of your week.
16. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
17. Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.
18. Get a new car for your spouse. It'll be a great trade!
19. Plan to be spontaneous tomorrow.
20. Always try to be modest, and be proud of it!
21. If you think nobody cares, try missing a couple of payments.
22. How many of you believe in telekinesis? Raise my hand...
23. OK, so what's the speed of dark?
24. How do you tell when you're out of invisible ink?
25. If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
26. When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
27. Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.
28. Everyone has a photographic memory. Some just don't have film.
29. If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?
30. Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
31. What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
32. I used to have an open mind but my brains kept falling out.
33. I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder.
34. Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?
35. Inside every older person is a younger person wondering--what happened?.

Apparently They're Still Pissed Over That Whole Revolution Thing

Because British health officials suddenly pulled the license of the vaccine producer for most of the U.S., there is a good chance there might be a flu shot shortage this winter.

Limey Brits.

October 04, 2004

This Is Why I Only Choke My Chickens

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - A elderly Romanian man mistook his penis for a chicken's neck, cut it off and his dog rushed up and ate it, the state Rompres news agency said Monday.

It said 67 year-old Constantin Mocanu, from a village near the southeastern town of Galati, rushed out into his yard in his underwear to kill a noisy chicken keeping him awake at night.

"I confused it with the chicken's neck," Mocanu, who was admitted to the emergency hospital in Galati, was quoted as saying. "I cut it ... and the dog rushed and ate it."

Doctors said the man, who was brought in by an ambulance bleeding heavily, was now out of danger.

Well, That Was Interesting

Cubs logoOn the bright side: we avoided having Hell freeze over

The Cubs season came to a close yesterday. With the loss on Saturday, they were mathematically eliminated from the Wild Card hunt. Not that we needed the math to tell us that the Cubs were out of it after they dropped 2 of 3 against the Mets and 3 of 4 to the Reds last week. They closed the season with a 10-8 victory over the Atlanta Braves giving the Cubs a 89-73 record for 2004. The first time, in a long time, that the Cubs have turned out back-to-back winning seasons. Any other year this would have been heralded by the fans and the sports media, but when the expectations were a World Series appearance, then it seems little trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

So now the talk turns to whether Moises Alou will be back next year, or if Nomar will sign a big deal with another team, or if the Cubs can trade Sammy and his $17 million dollar contract. Personally, I'd prefer to see the Cubs work on keeping Nomar first, then Moises, and see if they can't deal Sammy away. The reality is that most teams probably won't want the price tag that comes with Sammy and his slumping performance and violatile personality for the last season and a half, meaning the Cubs will either have to keep him or foot portion of his salary. This will make re-signing Nomar and Moises more difficult.

By the end of the season, I had written off the Cubs and pretty much worked through my disappointment. So it came as another shot of disappointment when I learned over the weekend that Chip Caray would be leaving the Cubs' broadcast booth to go to Atlanta and call games with his father, Skip Caray, for the Braves. I always enjoyed Chip's style and delivery. Thought he had a great voice for baseball, and called his games with the right mix of professionalism, criticism, and humor. Some of the fans and sports media people skewered him from the start in Chicago. Skip had come to Chicago to call games with his grandfather, the immortal Harry Caray. But Harry passed away the winter before the two were to join up in the booth. Then Chip got saddled with some horrible partners. By far the worst being Dave Otto. The astronomically wooden and dumb color commentary that Chip was forced to work with when he called games on the Foxsports Chicago cable station. Fortunately Steve Stone came out of retirement and gave Chip a consistent, competent, partner in the booth.

Chip and Steve, and even Chip on his own when he started in Chicago, got criticized for not being big enough Cubs fans when calling a game. I thought those accusations were bullshit. What I always saw from Chip and Steve were two men who loved baseball, could call a good game, had great insight to share with the audience, and delivered it all with honesty. Yes, they were fans of the Cubs - but they were going to sugarcoat things.

Considering what transpired this season between the players and the announcers, there's a good chance that with Chip gone, Steve Stone won't be back. Which I think is unfortunate. Even with a new (non-Caray) play-by-play voice in the booth, I would enjoy having Steve's perspective on the game.

In the end, this is shaping up to be an interesting offseason.

Now This Is A Good Idea

Hershey plans to open an 3,600-square-foot interactive candy store this spring in downtown Chicago. Similar to the story that Hershey has operated in Pennsylvania, the Michigan Avenue store will allow kids to "operate a miniature production line that will permit them to select up to six products with which to fill their personalized candy bag. And older visitors will be able to personalize cookies, cupcakes and brownies that have been customized with Hershey Foods candies."

We just received a catalog for mail-ordering things from the Hershey Store this past week - and it is a beauty to behold. Soon we'll be able to actually go to a store to pick these sinfully wonderful treats out. Fantastic.

Very Sneaky

The practice is called phishing. It's when unscrupulous individuals send emails to people pretending to be from a legitimate company and trick the user into sharing their username, password, or even more. Usually it is under the guise of some sort of account verification.

I usually pooh-pooh the whole thing. Wondering how anyone could fall for these obviously and blatant attempts by a scammer. No company will ask you to confirm an account. Either you have one or you don't. You're logged in or your not. If you forget your password or how to login in, you have to contact the company. They don't contact you. Plus, if there needs to be any verification of credit cards or personal information, it when you're already on their site and trying to complete a legitimate transaction that the consumer has initiated. Not in response to an email.

However, this morning I got a really impressive forged email:

It supposedly came from eBay and said that in order to ensure security of their accounts, they randomly asked account holders to login and provide some information. The phishers successfully masked the return email address to be eBay Billing (aw-confirm@eBay.com) and even had a url that looked like that it was part of eBay's site.

Problem is that eBay doesn't have my work email address, where this email was sent. Had it been to one of the email accounts I use on eBay, I might have stopped for a moment to consider its validity. After seeing the quality of the forgery, I can now see why someone not paying attention or stopping to think might get fooled by one of these emails. It was very good.

October 01, 2004

Proof Mount St Helens Is A Guy

For the last week there's been an increasing amount of rumblings and earthquakes coming from Mount St. Helens. Leading scientists to believe that the volcano was getting ready to erupt again for the first time since 1986.

Sure enough, St. Helens blew at roughly 2pm (cst) today, sending a column of white steam and ash about 16,000 feet in altitude. A rather anti-climatic result to a week's worth of buildup.

University of Washington seismologist Tony Qamar, "All this buildup was leading to that relatively small eruption."

Interview with Ghost in the Shell Director

The Movie Poop Shoot has a short interview with Ghost in the Shell and Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2 director Mamoru Oshii. There's nothing too deep here, but it's still fairly interesting to read what Oshii has to say about his films.

This Is Really Tough

I knew that being a parent would present me with all sorts of challenges, but now Heather and I are starting to get into some situations where things are getting really tough. I've learned to handle the crying, the erratic sleeping, and even getting vomited on (which seems to happen to me a lot). It's having the kids go to school that is presenting me with the situations I'm really concerned about handling properly.

Preschool was a snap for Ian (and for Heather and I), and he came out of it with a great friend, Parker. Now the two of them are in kindergarten together, and while Parker seems to be bridging out and finding new friends - Ian doesn't seem to be broadening his social circle as quickly or easily. It's making for a difficult time for Ian at school and I'm not sure how to help him. I've read what I can on how to help your child through though tough social situations and I've got Heather's help on this obviously. But I also know what my personality shortcomings are. One of them is that I'm not a very outgoing person. I'm (almost) 32-years old, and I find it difficult to make friends. Hell, I still consider it a minor miracle that I found someone so wonderful to marry me.

So even after reading everything I can, I still find it hard to give Ian advice on how to navigate these new social challenges he is facing. Mainly because I'm terrified of them myself, and have never really learned how to navigate them either.

What also makes finding the right advice difficult is that growing up I was (or at least I think I was - my mom or dad might have a different opinion) a quiet, laid back kid. I'd sit and observe and eventually would be assumed into the group where I would find some friends. If things went badly I'd shrug my shoulders and walk away or sit back and wait for things to come back around. Ian nearly always has his emotions and intensity knob turned all the way up to 11 - to borrow a phrase from This Is Spinal Tap!. When things aren't going how he hopes they will, he tends to have a hard time dealing with the situation. I know we have to teach him how to overcome these obstacles, but again, personality-wise I feel like I come from such a different place I don't know how to draw on my life experience to help him.

Thankfully I have Heather here with me. She's much better socially than I am, so she has better life experience to pull from when helping Ian. Still, she can't be expected to be the only one to help Ian. She doesn't have all the answers. I have to be there for Ian too.

This is really difficult and scary. I desperately want to help Ian the best way I can so that he can grow-up to be a healthy (both physically and socially) adult.

Congratulations Elizabeth

She passed the Illinois State Bar Exam. The fair state of Illinois now recognizes her right to bill someone $300 for a 20 minute phone call during which she says nothing more than, "hmmm," "Interesting," and "I'll give you a call back tomorrow."

Learn to Draw Darth Vader

This looks like fun. Artist Thomas Hodges shows you how to easily draw the head of the Darth Vader. I think I might give it a try later.

drawing darth vader image

There's Always Next Season

cubs logoConsecutive 12-inning losses to the Reds. What are the Cubs thinking? If you're going to play like that, you don't deserve to make the playoffs.

In the grand scheme of things, it makes sense for the Cubs to blow it right here at the end. Usually, we just hope the Cubs can compete - maybe win the division. What happens is that they're out of it shortly after the All-Star break (if we're lucky). This year the expectations were a division title and a trip to the World Series. So really it's only fitting that they would fall apart in the last few weeks of the season and lose the Wild Card berth.

Next year expectations will be back to normal - be competitive, maybe win the division - and maybe something really good might happen.

I know that there are still three games left to the season, but come on; does anyone really think the Cubs can pull it out? Houston, who's been red hot, are at home for the last three games and are playing the lowly Rockies and the Giants are taking on the Dodgers. Even if LA whoops San Fran, Houston is going to win at least two of three. And the chances of the Cubs sweeping a good Atlanta team? I don't know. Even if they do, I'd be shocked if Houston loses enough for the Cubs to take over the Wild Card top spot or for San Fran to lose enough for it even to matter. The Cubs lost their chance at the post season when they dropped 3 of 4 to the Reds at home.

There's always next season. And there's always football.