November 30, 2004

Know When To Walk Away

I tell ya, those country music types are just a bad lot.

HAZELTON, SOUTH DAKOTA -- At least 19 people -- including four Hazelton police officers -- have been injured in an incident involving a bodyguard hired to protect country star Kenny Rogers at a book signing Sunday evening.

One fan, Morgan Hendrix, 14, is listed in critical but stable condition.

Hazelton Police report that a book signing this evening at Barrett's Books on South Main Street became violent when a female fan of Rogers' asked the singer to sign a part of her body. According to police, the fan became insistant and refused to leave the line when asked by one of Rogers' staff members. Another fan, reportedly a friend of the female in question, began an altercation with the staff member which escalated into a full blown brawl. The incident is still under investigation. (As reported by WTF-TV)

It's 3 and Out for Willingham

notre dame logoNotre Dame will be looking for a new football head coach after dismissing Tyrone Willingham today. Willingham went 21-15 in three years as coach of the Fighting Irish and got the team to two bowl appearances (the Irish are going to the Insight Bowl on 12/28/04 - though Willingham won't be coaching them). Even though he started strong in 2002 with a 10-3 record, it proved to be a dead-cat bounce and the Irish were never real strong contenders in NCAA division 1-A ball. Sure they beat Michigan and Tennessee this year, but they got beat by Boston College and Pittsburgh at home and were blown out by Purdue and USC.

A simple fact was that while the Irish won more under Willingham than under Bob Davie, when the Irish lost under Willingham they lost bad and look unprepared doing it. In three years Willingham just never established a strong program. Would things have improved if he were given the full five years of his contract? Maybe. Possibly. We'll never know now.

The immediate name getting thrown around as a replacement is University of Utah coach Urban Meyer, who has his team undefeated and ranked #6 nationally. Meyer is a former ND assistant and has an out-clause in his contract with Utah that allows him to apply for the ND coaching job if it is available.

The good news for Willingham? Stanford just fired their coach, Buddy Teevens, and will be looking for a replacement. Teevens replaced Willingham at Stanford when Willingham accepted the ND job back in 2001.

Just In Time For Christmas

For that special lady in your life: GloThong

November 29, 2004

Join The Cult

Fark is running a Photoshop contest with the theme, "What if the Mac really was a cult?"

This is one of my favorite entries so far:

igrape

Odds and Ends

  • Mark November 24, 2004 on your calendars. It's the day Zoe officially became Daddy's little girl. Up to that point she had smiled at me plenty enough and seemed to like me, but on that Thanksgiving Day she took it to another level - frequently choosing me over Heather or anyone else. Now she seems to be saving the biggest smiles for me and the biggest laughs for me. Zoe simply lights up in general whenever she see me. It's a good feeling.

    She even gives me kisses. Zoe can't really kiss yet, but when I'm holding here she will lean and push her head into my face like she would be trying to kiss me. She doesn't do it for Heather - just me. I'm gonna buy her a pony for Christmas.

  • For Thanksgiving dinner Heather made two desserts: a pumpkin pie and a New York style cheese cake. The cheesecake was made with five - 5 - packages of Philadelphia cream cheese. It was the best tasting cheesecake I've had in a long, long time. We even got to bring most of the leftover cheesecake home with us. Heather and I had it finished off by Sunday. Ooooh. It was good.

  • pepsi holiday spiceHeather picked up a 12-pack of Pepsi Holiday Spice. What can I say? We were curious.

    We tried some of the cola Saturday night and were both unimpressed with the results. We really couldn't taste any of the cinnamon or ginger that is supposed to give Pepsi its holiday kick. All we noticed was that the cola has a red color to it now, instead of brown. Apparently our lackluster response to the limited edition drink is fairly consistent with what other have experienced (and bothered to write about in their blog). Now because Heather doesn't drink pop very often, I'll have to solider on and drink the remaining 12-pack. Maybe I can push it off on my family when they come over to our house for Christmas dinner?

  • Superman #211 is super cool. Azzarello's story is hitting its stride after what was a shaky first half for me. The pieces are beginning to fall into place and I can see the bigger picture of what the writer is trying to explore with his story; issues of identity and faith. Faith in what you know, faith in what you can't know, and faith in whom you are. Azzarello paints a Superman who is as much god as he is human, which makes the exploration of these topics through Kal-el more fascinating and more complex.

    Plus, this issue has a got a sweet throw-down between Superman and Wonder Woman.

    Of course, Jim Lee's artwork is to die for. Lee is easily one of the greatest comic book artists to ever put pencil to board.

    superman 211


  • I gave my best shot at buying a BMW Z4 Roadster for only $5,000 today. American Express was selling three BMW's through the course of the day. One at 11am CST, 3pm CST, and later today at 8pm CST. You had to be the first person to click on a button over at www.mylifemycard.com, and if you hit it right you could buy a $42,000 BMW for only $5,000.

    Heather was all for it - which surprised me. How she had it figured, $5,000 for a new car is a steal no matter what kind it is. That it's a BMW only makes it an even better deal. So I clicked away, but didn't get in first. I checked out some of the other items AMEX will be offering, but none of them seem exciting as a $5,000 BMW. Oh well.

    What might have been:
    bmw z4


    It's probably all for the best though. We would have had to sell the Neon to make room for the new car, and Ian loves the Neon. Why? I have no frickin' clue. Plus, it seems like a bit of overkill to just drive a BMW back and forth to the train station every day. Sure it would be nice for when (ha!) Heather and I go out together, but to just be parking a Z4 in the Aurora Route 59 train station parking lot would be a waste.
  • NO! NO! NO!

    bears logoThe Chicago Bears signed Jeff George as the #3 Quarterback over the weekend. Apparently ever since Rex Grossman went down at the beginning of the season, George has been calling the Bears to offer his services - even offering to play for free. It took the ankle injury to Craig Krenzel to finally get the Bears to listen and agree to a one-year deal.

    I think this is a horrible decision. No where has Jeff George gone and not been a disruptive force within a team. Sure the guy has got a cannon for an arm and a quick release that plenty of QBs wish they had, but he's a trouble maker who doesn't seem to ever fit the team. Luckily, he doesn't have a history of walking into a team and immediately making waves. Maybe the Bears can limp through the rest of the season without any problems and then not resign him in 2005.

    I Saved $238.00!

    Back in early September, Emma put three CDs in to the CD player in our mini-van. The problem was that the CD player was only designed to hold one CD.

    So we pushed buttons and tried to grab the CDs with pliers or tweezers, but the CDs would not come out.

    The CD player is separate from the radio, so I was able to remove the player from the van and decided to take it around to places where I thought I could get it fixed. I would have tried to fix things myself, but the nuts holding the thing together were smaller than anything I had in my toolbox - and I have a pretty extensive tool set. So I figured they might be specialized stuff and it would be better to take the thing to a professional.

    Now, because of travel for business and the regular crazy home life we lead, the whole "taking the CD player around to places to get it fixed" takes a lot longer than you expect. After calling some electronic stores who all said that they couldn't fix the player, it was October before I was able to go into Tweeter to see what they could do. The guy on the phone from Tweeter who I talked to said that they could probably repair it. But when I showed up and gave the player to a Tweeter employee (not the same one I talked to on the phone), he told me that they couldn't fix the player because it was a GM factory installed CD player. They suggested I talk to a Pontiac dealer.

    I talked to some Pontiac dealers on the phone and they all estimated the same price: around $250 to have it repaired. Though they were all very up front with me by saying most of that cost was labor. That was not cool. But I really wanted to have the CD player back in the van. I wasn't sure what to do.

    Than this past Saturday, while Ian and I were out running some errands, I stopped in at Village Pontiac to see if there was really nothing that could be done that wouldn't put me back $250. There I talked to Larry in the service department. A real nice guy. He also quoted me $250, but together with him and some guy from their parts department, they helped me understand what I'd need to take the thing apart myself.

    So I headed over to Kelly's Ace Hardware because the guys who work there are the most helpful people I've ever met. Took them about 3 minutes to find the two tools I would need to crack the CD player open. Best thing about it: the two tools cost me only $12 total.

    Saturday night I sat down on the floor of the family room and started unscrewing things. Eventually I had the player stripped down far enough that with a little manual manipulation of the gears, I was able to lower the CD guard and started yanking out CDs with a needle-nosed pliers. I slapped everything back together and re-installed the player in the van. I put the key in the ignition, gave it a slight turn, pushed the radio "On" button, inserted a CD, and waited . . .

    Sure enough, the CD player fired up without a problem and started playing perfectly. I ran the player through a few tests - skipping ahead through different tracks, pausing, playing, repeating, ejecting, etc. - and it passed with flying colors. The only problem I found is that one of the CDs got a bit scratched and affected the playback on one song.

    I was so fricking proud of myself I could hardly go to sleep. Not only had I given us back our CD player just in time for an upcoming 6-hour car ride to Ohio, but I also saved us $238. That is a beautiful thing.

    November 25, 2004

    Happy Thanksgiving

    I hope everyone is having a healthy and happy Thanksgiving.

    Heather's made two desserts (cheescake and pumpkin pie), which we'll be taking over to my Mom's house for dinner this afternoon. This morning we've been eating our kringle and enjoying the Macy's parade on TV. Nothing else big planned. Probably watch the Bears play the Cowboys in some truly ugly throwback uniforms.

    So far, it's been a good day for us.

    thanksgiving cartoon

    November 24, 2004

    Pigtale

    pigtale coverIn January a new comic from Image Comics will debut called Pigtale. Created solely by Ovi Nedelcu, it stars a scooter-driving private investigator named Boston Booth and Clyde the talking pig.

    Read this from Nedelcu's website:

    Pigtale tells the story of Boston Booth, an amateur private investigator in Portland, Oregon, as he tries to deal with a life turned upside down by financial and professional turmoil. Things take a dramatic twist for Boston when he is introduced to Clyde, an intelligent talking pig desperate to escape from his evil step-brother, Taxx, a wolf hell-bent on destroying Clyde, and taking over the city while he's at it.

    I think the series looks really great. A fun and different series with a unique look. You can see some sample pages over on Nedlelcu's website. I definitely plan on giving it a read when it hits the stands this January.

    How To Waste An Afternoon

    You can burn away the hours at ComicCovers.com looking for those hard to find covers like this one from The Adventures of Alan Ladd:

    alan ladd #4

    A Wake-Up Call From the Dark Lord of the Sith

    darth vaderHave you seen the Target commercials featuring two distinct characters doing distinctly strange stuff? At the end the question is posed to you, the viewer, who do you want to wake you up?

    I have, and had pretty much ignored them until last night when I saw one starring Darth Vader and Heidi Klum. Few things will make me stop what I'm doing and pay attention to the TV, but Star Wars or Heidi Klum are two of them.

    At the end of the commerical Target also flashes a URL: www.target.com/wakup

    I went there this morning and learned that I can schedule a wake-up call from Darth Vader, Heidi Klum, or eight other characters for this Friday or Saturday to remind me of Target's huge after-Thanksgiving sale.

    Now don't tell Ian, but the Dark Lord of the Sith will be calling our house Saturday morning around 8am. I'll try and let him answer the phone. I think he'll get a kick out of having Darth Vader call the house. Of course it could really confuse the whole reality versus make-believe thing that young kids tend to have. And the last thing I want Ian believing is that Darth Vader is real, knows our phone number, and might be coming to get us while we sleep.

    Oh well.

    (Actually my first thought was to have the lovely Ms. Klum call, but ultimately I decided that it would be more fun to have Darth Vader call the McKillip homestead.)

    In the end though, it should be a lot of fun.

    A Divinly Inspired Lunch - UPDATE

    The grilled cheese sandwhich graced with the power and image of Mary, Mother of Jesus, has been sold. Online casino GoldenPalace.com put in the winning bid of $28,000.

    The company's CEO said that the sacred sandwhich would be used to raise money for charity.

    They immediately began selling t-shirts bearing a picture of the sandwhich and the casino's logo.

    sacred grilled cheese

    Even Groovier, Man

    A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the trippy first appearance Nightwing action figure that DC Comics will be putting out Spring 2005.

    Apparently some die-hard comic fans gave DC Comics hell about the image of the prototype released because it was not faithful to the Marv Wolfman designed costume from Nightwing's first appearance back in the early 80's. I didn't really notice, not being quite as fantatical about such things.

    Recently DC Comics explained that the photo was actually of an incomplete prototype - one that was rushed so that they could have an image to include for publication deadline in the ordering catalogs. They have since released an updated image.

    Comparing the two different images I have to say those Nightwing purists were right, the first version was sucky. Even for a goofy outfit like the first Nightwing costume.

    Here's the updated image for what the figure will look like:
    nightwing


    Compare that to the first look:
    nightwing


    Looking back you can see how the paint job on the chest was half-assed. All things considered, the updated figure looks much better.

    Oh, and I did end up ordering this figure. I couldn't resist.

    November 23, 2004

    The Muppet Show on DVD

    kermitAccording to Matthew Leonard, who was at the Henson film festival this past weekend, there are serious plans underway to bring The Muppet Show to DVD through season by season releases.

    It all sounds credible to me, considering it was posted at www.muppetcentral.com, the place for fans of Jim Henson's Muppets.

    This is great news. Not sure if I'll pick up any of the collections - okay, maybe I will. But I'll definitely rent some of these so I can show them to Ian and Emma. They'll love em.

    The first boxed set is scheduled to come out in 2005.

    My Daughter The Nudist

    Emma is certainly a unique person. Not a day goes by that I don't walk into a room to find her in some degree of undress. Usually she is topless or bottomless (though with diaper still on), but every once and a while she shows up only in her diaper.

    She claims that she's hot, but we don't think this is really the case. I think she's using that as an excuse. During the summer, on some particularly hot nights, I asked her if she was hot and if she wanted to sleep without pants on. I believe she's taken this concept and now applies it to whenever she just wants to get naked. "I'm hot" she'll declare and begin peeling off clothing. It's funny, but frustrating too.

    What's even more frustrating is her insistence on not sleeping under any blanket at night. She flat out refuses to have a blanket placed on top of her when she's going to sleep. I usually have to sneak in later and lay one on top of her. I can tell she's cold - she's all curled up - but this won't sway her decision to sleep with the blanket next to her. What are we going to do when it starts getting really cold at night? If she doesn't cover up I'm afraid she be waking up all night because she's so cold in bed - and Heather and I want our sleep.

    Two-year olds. They are maddening.

    Is It a Whole 24 Hours or Something Less Than That?

    Ms. Trehelle, let me introduce you to something called diginity. I don't think the two of you have met yet.

    eBay item 4051267885 (Ends Nov-16-04 21:43:30 PST) - Spend a day with Trishelle (Real World & Surreal Life)

    The Kringle Is Coming, The Kringle Is Coming

    Thanks to UPS, I can even track the arrival of my beloved kringle.

    kringle is coming


    8 pounds of kringle are headed our way!

    This is going to be so great.

    November 22, 2004

    The Incredibles

    Was anyone expeceting anything more (or less) from the Colts / Bears game on Sunday? The Chicago offense hasn't been exactly on fire this season, so even against a marginal defense like the Colt's, expectations should have been low. Sure, the Bears defense has been playing exceptionally well. But they were without Urlacher and were facing a quarterback who is having a season that ensures his placement in the Hall of Fame after he retires and an offense that is built to score, and score, and score.

    Luckily, I didn't have to watch the carnage. I was feeling well enough, so Ian and I went to go see The Incredibles at a Sunday matinee.

    the incredibles


    What a fantastic movie! It's another strong entry into Pixar's long line of quality animated films. Strong characters, strong plot, exquisite design and animation. It was a feast for the eyes and entertained the soul. I wish every movie was this good.

    I particularly enjoyed Holly Hunter's performance as Helen Parr/Elastigirl. She's able to really bring the character to life and give the movie's a human center. Craig T. Nelson's Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible is bombastic and over the top - what we expect from a superhero named Mr. Incredible and not really someone we can relate to. It's through Hunter's Helen that we can approach the film and understand all the craziness that is going on. It's through Helen that we appreciate the struggle of a family to learn to live and work together. Hunter's performance is quite extraordinary.

    Of course the visuals look fantastic. Each Pixar production ups the ante on the quality of computer animation. Sure, there are a few scenes that look a little off, but for the majority of the filme the action sequences and quieter moments are all carried off with wonderful storytelling skills. What was most impressive was how the Pixar animators were able to quickly move between different textures during an animated sequence. There is a scene where Dash is trying to out run some flying ships. He's running through the forest when comes upon a bay. Not only are the different types of vegetation richly rendered, including the varying effects of filtered sunlight on the forest floor, but the water and rock formations in the bay area look nearly as real as if they were photographed. What makes all this so remarkable is how real it all looks while the "speed" of the scene is cranked up to 200 m.p.h. to follow Dash on his run. It was breath taking.

    One of my gripes was with the story. Brad Bird, the writer and director of The Incredibles, obviously wanted to explore the concept of finding you own identity as one of the sub-themes. His creation of Violet, the teen-aged daughter who can turn invisible, is obvious to this point. However, I don't feel like he spent enough time setting this up or following through on it. Looking back I can see some disjointed scenes that when placed side-by-side seem to address this theme, but I don't think they have the emotional impact that I think was intended. Who knows, maybe some of that development of Violet and her involvement in the story ended up on the editing floor. Either way, it isn't enough to negatively impact my perception of the movie.

    Ian loved the movie too. He's old enough now to understand the humor targeted to the younger crowd and he really got into the superhero aspects of the story. He even shut his eyes during the "mushy" parts. He's all boy I tell you. When we got home that afternoon, he spent good amount of time running around like Dash and that night after dinner he wanted to play the Incredibles. (I won't possibly try to explain to you how this game is played. To be honest, I don't think I even know, and I played it for 45 minutes.)

    Exceptional film. A winner all the way. Funny, touching, exciting - it's a complete film. A definite DVD purchase when it's released.

    I Am Apple Nation

    diehard apple fan
    (AFP/Carl de Souza)

    November 21, 2004

    This Isn't A Good Sign

    All the native Iraqis with the skills and money to rebuild their destroyed nation arefleeing the country because they fear for their safety.

    So who exactly is Dubya gonna hand everything over to when and if the U.S. armed forces can get things under control?

    November 19, 2004

    I'm Really Sick

    Haven't been posting much here the last few days because I've been sick. I've been running a 100.+ temperature for three days. Sure the ibuprofen helps break the fever, but it keeps coming back. No other symptoms, - no sore throat, no vomitting, no swelling - just the fever.

    So I've been spending a lot of time watching CSPAN, playing Ian's GameBoy, and reading comics. Oh, and during one of my more lucid moments, I installed OS X Panther. It's wicked hard core.

    Hopefully I've got it beat now. I'm feeling the best I have in three days. I think that's a good sign.

    MasterCard Would Never Agree To This

    While I've been home sick these last few days, I've found myself watching a lot of CSPAN - of all things. I caught some of the debate on increasing the U.S. governement's debt limit to $8.184 trillion - the third such change in as many years.

    I also saw the voting on the measure, where it passed 208-204 - with voting split along party lines.

    What I found most interesting during the debate is what one Democrat representative had to say (either Peter DeFazio (OR) or Vic Fazio (CA) - i can't remember exactly, but I think it was Peter.) He argued, and I believe, that the major problem with this is that the Republicians who are backing it are not providing a plan to pay off this debt. He compared it to a regular person in financial trouble asking their credit card companies to up their credit - just because. He claimed he wouldn't mind supporting the increase if the Republicians showed where they were going to cut funding in other areas or get revenues elsewhere to help paydown this debt. Some kind of plan to bring spending under control.

    To me it just seems like a lot of fiscal irresponsibility.

    November 17, 2004

    Legends - A Review

    Legends is a comic that I’ve wanted to read for some time. Not quite sure, but there was something about the 6-issue mini-series from DC Comics that looked appealing. John Ostrander plotted the series, Len Wein scripted it, and John Byrne provided the art. These are all comic creators whose work I have enjoyed in the past. So having these guys working on a story starring Captain Marvel, Superman, Batman, Flash, Dr. Fate, Blue Beetle, and other DC Heroes made it a book I wanted to read, even if I really didn’t know what the story was about.

    What I learned from the introduction to the book from editor Mike Gold was the Legends was intended as a follow-up to the massive Crisis on Infinite Earths – the 12-part maxi-series that completely destroyed the DC universe and rebuilt it back in the mid-eighties. Legends was suppose to establish a new Justice League, Suicide Squad, and other heroes in the post-Crisis world. Though the theme the book looked to explore was what made a legend.

    What I really enjoyed about Legends was it’s 80’s superhero sensibilities. The influence of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns hadn’t really sunk in throughout the comic book scene yet, so we don’t have a bunch of grime and gritty heroes running around speaking in halted speech patterns and killing villains. Instead we still have the bright, happy heroes who maintain a very public presence (even Batman) and a predisposition for over-explaining everything. Sure, it can get a little corny. But I find it to be a fun place to visit every once and a while.

    The plot is simple: Darkside, who is forever trying to conquer Earth in his search of the Anti-Life equation (long story, ask me about it some other time), decides that is the legends of Earth’s superheroes that inspire humans to greatness and continually thwart his plans. He figures that if he can destroy the legends, than humanity will follow. But instead of trying to physically destroy Earth’s superheroes, he looks to completely discredit them through what turns out to be a public-relations campaign. Very 1980’s, don’t you think?

    Ostrander plot is strong enough and Wein does a great job of making every hero sound true through his dialogue. There’s nothing cookie-cutter about the script. My one gripe is how much re-capping goes on at the beginning of each issue/chapter. I mean they summarize the Captain Marvel aspect of the story two or three times. But I can’t fault them too much; this was before mini-series were regularly being collected in trade paperbacks. The writers assume that readers are getting these comics 30 days apart or may have missed earlier issues. The re-caps almost become a necessity.

    Today, the slight against artist John Byrne is the sloppiness of his artwork – that he will spend enough time working on the characters in the scene, but there won’t be any sort of backgrounds or scenery to compliment the story. I didn’t see that happening here at all. We get Byrne closer to his prime when he was a comic creator who commanded top dollar and top projects to showcase his skill. He really is an extraordinary talent. A true classic superhero artist.

    The biggest kick in Legends was a cameo by then President Ronald Regan. Superman meets to talk to Regan about the rising anti-superhero sentiments that are tearing the country apart. The President is forced to outlaw all superhero activities, even though he knows it isn’t right, but it’s the only thing he can think of doing to try and calm people down. President Regan actually pops up a few times. Even Vice-President George H. W. Bush makes an appearance, though in a non-talking role.

    Legends is well-done, fun, superhero story telling from a time before superheroes became dark and serious. Actually, it’s probably closer to what people expect when they think of comics. I recommend it for all of you true superhero fans.

    Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight

    A mom in New Zealand is breastfeeding a puppy because she wants the dog to protect her baby daughter as they grow up together.

    Kmart Buys Sears

    Heard last night that Kmart and Sears are merging. It seemed like an odd pairing. Wasn't sure what they hope to gain by combining these to retailers - more power to them.

    What I would interesting this morning was that actually Kmart is buying Sears. That's not what I expected. I assumed that Sears was the bigger company and would be buying out Kmart. However, you take a look at what each company's stock was trading at when the merger was announced, and it starts to make sense. Sears was trading at around $45 a share, while Kmart stock was at $105. Each companies market cap were about the same, but I guess it comes down to who is valued more by Wall Street.

    November 16, 2004

    Fine, You're Right. Maybe I am.

    Am I classic passive-aggressive?

    First-born children are prime candidates, she said: when younger siblings are born, the oldest may suddenly be expected to take on far more extra work than he or she can handle, and over time begin to resent parents' demands without daring to defy them.

    This hostile cooperation is at the core of passive-aggression, she and other researchers say, and in later in life it is habitually directed at any authority figure, whether a boss, a teacher or a spouse making demands. These passive-aggressive people, Dr. Benjamin said, "are full of unacknowledged contradiction, of angry kindness, compliant defiance, covert assertiveness."


    I guess I should ask Heather and see what she has to say.

    A Divinly Inspired Lunch

    10 years ago Diana Duyser made herself a grilled cheese sandwich. When she bit into it, she says she saw a face staring back at her - the face of the Virgin Mary.

    So she did what any of us would have done, put it in a clear plastic box with cotton balls and let it sit on her bedside table for a decade. During which time it never sprouted a single spore of mold. (dum-dum-dummmm!) Recently she decided that the best way to share this divine lunch with the masses was to put the sandwich up for auction on eBay.com. Obviously.

    Bidding reached $22,000 before eBay pulled the item down, claiming that the sandwich broke their policy of not allowing "listings that are intended as jokes." Though I don't see a 52-year old work-from-home jewelry design from Florida who keeps grilled sandwiches next to her bed has it in her to concoct such a scam. But who am I to judge eBay?

    More importantly, who are eBay to stand in the way of the Virgin May and challenge God? You don't mess with Jesus' mommy. Obviously there were higher powers at work when eBay reversed their position and reposted the auction.

    Of course, now more mystical sandwiches are appearing on eBay - a grilled sandwich bearing the image of the Virgin May's chewed gum and a sandwich with the likeness of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

    Though when I spent some time searching on eBay, I couldn't find any of the items. Maybe I'm not worthy to see the sandwiches.

    And Things Were Going So Well

    bears logoBear fans had reason to hang their heads today when they learned ProBowl linebacker Brian Urlacher will be out 4 to 6 weeks recovering from emergency surgery to repair internal bleeding in his lower left calf.

    Apparently Urlacher was kicked in the leg during the Titans game on Sunday. He experienced some pain, but it wasn't enough to make him leave the game. It was only when he was home and his calf had swollen up like a grapefruit.

    This is a huge blow to the Bears. I know they have played through plenty of other defense injuries, but to lose Urlacher again right as the team seems to be building some momentum is going to hurt.

    The Bird Feeder & Other Photos

    Yesterday, in my long weekend update, I mentioned that Ian and I built a bird feeder over at the Red Oaks Nature Center. What I failed to do is show you some photos of the boy and the bird feeder he built himself.






    He really did build it himself, too. I just held the pieces of wood together and got the nails started for him. He decided what pieces needed to go on at each point of the construction and did all the hammering. He did a really great job.

    Now he wants to paint it and hang it up, which I plan to make sure happens.

    Besides these photos of Ian's bird feeder, you can find a bunch more pictures in the Photos section that I just added today at lunch. So check 'em out. I've posted some really fun pictures of Ian and Emma, and some cute ones of Zoe.

    A-Ha!

    Take this you anti-carbs diet freaks: Study: Low-Fat Diets Better Long-Term

    This Isn't Good

    Long computer use may be linked to eye disease, according to recently conducted research by a team of Japanese scientists.

    Their study tries to show that risk of glaucoma increases in people who are myopic or short-sighted and spend large amounts of time in front of a computer screen.

    I can never remember if I'm short-sighted or far-sighted - can never keep the definitions straight. I just know that when I take my glasses off I have slight double vision. I can still see things, there's just two of everything. Consequently, I don't know if I should be concerned about these findings.

    November 15, 2004

    The Birthday Cake

    I promised a picture and here it is:

    batmobile cake


    Heather commented that it looked like a VW Batmobile bug, and maybe she's right. I liked the cake none the less - and so did Ian and Emma.

    Not Me!

    A recent study showed that coming to work sick actually lowers companies productivity. What people really need to do is stay home when they're sick.

    It's presenteeism versus absenteeism. Essentially the idea that if you don't show up at work, if your not 'present', then your career will suffer.

    Not me, brother. As soon as I get a sniffle or a scratch in the throat and camping out in bed with my comics. Unless I'm really sick. In which case I go to work. With three kids 5 and under at home, sometimes I can get more rest at my desk.

    Who's Not Leaving?

    The news today is that Secretary of State Colin Powell and three others are leaving Dubya's cabinet.

    Even though he always said he'd only serve one term, I have to think how he was forced to be a puppet for the administration during the invasion of Iraq had to play a role in this as well.

    Weekend Update

    I'm not sure whom a sick child tires out more - the child or the parent. Ian, Emma, and Zoe are all sick with the same cold. They didn't all start at the same time, the illness is clearly making its rounds, but there is a distinct overlap. After a couple of late nights, sleepless children, and early risers, I'm feeling about as tired as when we bring a newborn home. Luckily, Emma and Ian already seem to be coming down off the cold. I think it might take Zoe a tad longer to shake the bug, being a little baby and all, but she's getting there.

    Hopefully Heather and I avoid getting sick at all.

    Sick kids and all, we went over to my Dad's house Sunday night for a belated birthday celebration - my birthday (11/6) and my Dad's birthday (11/12). Dad grilled a little meat outside - which was fantastic, the kids enjoyed playing with Dad, Elizabeth, Patrick and showing off for their Great-Grandparents, and my sister arrived with some delicious ice cream pies from Oberweis Dairy - a brownie ala mode pie and a pumpkin ice cream pie. The ice cream pies were unlike anything I've ever had before - and easily the best ice cream pie I've ever had. A wonderful treat. I think Heather was able to bring some leftovers home last night. I'll need to check the freezer when I get home later.

    Grandma and Grandpa got me a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble - which is perfect for a book-fiend like myself. Though it almost a cruel gift in that I have $25 but I have about 25 things I could buy and that I want. How to maximize the gift certificate? That is always a challenge.

    Elizabeth got me a shirt and tie combo - something I'm asking for a lot this holiday season - that I really like. Besides the Guinness t-shirt she brought back from her trip to Ireland, I think it's the first time my sister hasn't gotten me a book, comic, CD, or movie as a gift for my birthday or Christmas. If I didn't know better, from her reaction when I turned to thank her for the gift, I'd say she was nervous about getting her big brother "real" clothes. I think you did well Elizabeth.

    mac os XMy Dad got me Apple's Mac OS X Panther for our Mac at home. He knew that I was really pining away to update things, so this was a great gift. He even planned ahead and bought me the family pack - so now I have to go back install the new OS on my Dad's and brother's computers. No problem.

    Of course, no sooner do I finally get the new OS, then I learn that Apple is preparing to release OS X Tiger. No problem though. I not sure if our Mac could even handle everything that Tiger would provide - not without some additional memory. Not sure if we'll be able to take full advantage of Panther without a DVD-burner and digital video input. Hell, it's still gonna be a pisser trying to download the OS updates and all the great freeware developed for Panther over out 56K line. Heather and I desperately want to upgrade to a broadband connection, but cable access is to expensive for our budget and SBC's DSL service is all full up in our neighborhood right now. We're stuck on dial-up until SBC can add more DSL hubs in the area. Arrgh.

    I don't think I want to talk about the Notre Dame game. What happened to the vaunted Irish defense? 41-38? They let someone throw 5 touchdown passes. That's never happened to an Irish football team - ever. As bad as the defense might have played, ultimately I think it was the 10 penalties for 119 yards that really did in Notre Dame. Especially a 4th-down defense holding call on Preston Jackson in the end zone during the closing minutes of the game. This gave Pittsburgh a first down, moved them up 15 yards, and essentially was the go-ahead for Pittsburgh to tie up the game.
    Ugh.

    chicago bearsThe Chicago Bears, on the other hand, surprised with their defense in a different way. Accounting for 16 of the 19 points the Bears scored on way to a 19-17 win over the Tennessee Titans. It's quite remarkable. The Bears are now at 4-5, and only one game out of first place in the NFC North Division. Of course the other teams are Green Bay 5-4, Minnesota 5-4, and Detroit 4-5. But still, the Bears are in the thick of things. Next week's game against Peyton Manning and the Colts might be a slaughter, but the Bears still play the Vikings and the Packers again. They beat the Pack once already and the Bears came real close to beating the Vikings during their first meeting. Both re-matches will be at home for the Bears, which should help I think. The Bears are making it exciting this year.

    I actually didn't get to see the whole Bears game, Ian and I had signed up to go build a bird feeder at Red Oak Nature Center. All we had to do was bring a hammer and everything else was supplied. Ian and I had a great time putting together the bird feeder. I'd hold the nail while Ian came with his hammering fury. Trust me, it sounds a lot more dangerous than it actually was. Ian has a pretty accurate technique - provided he's not looking at what the other kids are doing while he's in the process of hammering. Then things got a little dicey.

    Anyway, Ian and I were able to build a great little bird feeder that he now plans on painting ("Maybe we should paint it red so there cardinals will feel welcome there?") and hanging out in the backyard. Heather's already bought 20 pounds of bird feed, so I've got to make the whole hanging thing work.

    Interesting . . .

    American Claims Discovery of Atlantis

    November 12, 2004

    Oy!

    Tension levels at home are peaking right now. Emma and Zoe are both sick. Which makes for sleepless nights for the girls and their parents. Ian won't be far behind, I'm sure. The newness of kindergarten has finally worn off for Ian; so going to school in the morning can be a little tough sometimes. Heather is feeling overworked by the girls and I'm feeling overworked at work. Sprinkle in a little stress for gearing up for the holidays and we've got a great little tension cocktail brewing at home. Or at least the tension seems to be building up during the week. Maybe we can relieve things over the weekend. That's what I'm hoping for.

    Doh!

    CHILHOWIE, Va. - Fourteen cars of an 83-car Norfolk Southern train derailed near an industrial park, leaving the area smelling like a brewery Thursday.

    About 20,000 gallons of beer leaked from three cars of the Roanoke-bound train, said railway spokesman Robin Chapman.

    No one was injured when the cars skipped the tracks about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Chapman said.

    Investigating officers said the leak did not contaminate any nearby water sources nor affect any highways.

    "Everything was contained away from the creek," said Jack Tolbert Jr. of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

    Authorities were investigating the cause of the derailment. All trains scheduled to use the tracks through Chilhowie were held until they were cleared Thursday evening.


    Cause? I know the cause. Drunk college boys. They'll do anything for more beer.

    Bob Jones - Dorkface

    Bob Jones III runs a university in South Carolina with his name on it. The school and its policies make most conservatives look like tree-hugging, granola-chomping liberals.

    In a letter posted to the University's website, Mr. Jones congratulates Dubya for his victory in the recent Presidential election.

    Now it doesn't bother me that Mr. Jones says, "God has graciously granted America-though she doesn't deserve it-a reprieve from the agenda of paganism." That's fine. Fits with your horribly warped, closed minded view of what America should be and it's your opinion - you're allowed to have it and share it.

    And while I consider it a bit inflammatory, I can let something like this - "Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ." - slide. Mr. Jones is a fanatical religion fundamentalist. Or maybe he missed Bush's speech about trying to work with everyone. Who knows?

    No, it's this quote from his letter, "Undoubtedly, you will have opportunity to appoint many conservative judges and exercise forceful leadership with the Congress in passing legislation that is defined by biblical norm regarding the family, sexuality, sanctity of life, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and limited government." that leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.

    I can tolerate religious zealotry. If that's what works for you - then great, knock yourself out. Just remember that in this country everyone is free to worship (or not worship) however they see choose. Religious freedom. So I might not go along with you, in fact I might oppose you, and I have every right to do so.

    So how can Mr. Jones talk of Dubya protecting religious freedom in that last quote when he so fervently believes Christianity is the one true way and that non-Christians are pagans and deserve to get nothing from their government? That's what a reader is left to believe after reading through Mr. Jones' letter to Dubya. The authority of the Bible should guide America. I imagine Mr. Jones would say that all others could burn in eternal Hell-fire.

    It's this kind of hypocrisy that bothers me. To say out of one side of your mouth that you want to see freedom of religion and freedom of speech and then out of the other side of your mouth demand that Christianity is the one and only true authority that should guide our government - that bothers me. That angers me. That's what gets me worked up. That's what bothers me the most about his letter.

    Now This Is A Progressive Approach to Education

    No sooner was it announced that British children would be taught the art of pole dancing, then the plan was scrapped after child wellfare groups complained.

    Probably rightfully so. But I bet you those British kids know the difference between evolution and creationism, and can discuss both intelligently.

    This Is Just Silly - In A Bad Way

    Georgia's school superintendent has proposed striking the word evolution from Georgia's science curriculum and replacing it with the phrase "biological changes over time."

    The best quote comes from a social conservative, Rep. Bobby Franklin (R), who said, "It's stupid. It's like teaching gravity without using the word gravity."

    Sure, Bobby would rather have all students be taught that the first humans sprang from the mind of God, but his statement is valid nonetheless. Politicians, school administrators, and advocates run around spouting how we need to improve the quality of public school education, but then turn around to spend gobs of time and money worrying about whether to call something "evolution" or "biological changes over time."

    How about instead we make sure kids know the difference between evolution and creationism as concepts, and we teach them the reasoning and logic skills to study these theories and be able to reach their own decision on what is the correct explanation for the origins of mankind.

    That seems like a better plan to me.

    November 11, 2004

    You Like Me! You Really, Really Like Me!

    Check out the monthly traffic report for Brendanmckillip.com



    This chart only shows server requests, which can be a bit deceiving when talking about the popularity of a website. Though my unique page requests are trending upward just as impressively. (what I can get graphically in a chart is limited by what the hosting provider makes available to me)

    Look at those October numbers! And I'm only 11 days into November and I've already surpassed July '04 numbers. I wish I had recorded where I was 11 days into October to see if I'm trending higher or not.

    What will be really interesting is when I've been on this tracking software for over a year and I can start analyzing year over year trends.

    DUBYA: The Movie

    I know some people don't follow the links to website I post here, but you gotta do this one. It's for a trailer for a fake movie called Dubya: The Movie.

    It is the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. Just good, clean goofy fun. You have to watch it.

    TV Stations Cancel 'Saving Private Ryan'

    ABC is airing Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan today in honor of Veterans Day, just as they have in 2001 and 2002. But because ABC's contract with Spielberg stipulates that the network must show the film un-edited, a number of ABC affiliates are opting to not show the movie this year because they are afraid of being fined by the FCC.

    Local ABC affiliates "cited recent FCC actions and last week's re-election of President Bush as reasons for replacing "Saving Private Ryan" on Thursday with a music program and the TV movie 'Return to Mayberry.'"

    One ABC affiliate owner is quoted as saying, "We're just coming off an election where moral issues were cited as a reason by people voting one way or another and, in my opinion, the commissioners are fearful of the new Congress."

    So a hyper-sensitive FCC and ambiguously defined moral values is having the effect of passive-aggressive censorship. This is sad state for the country to be in.

    November 10, 2004

    Hear It Before You Buy It

    Tomorrow WXRT is playing the new U2 album, "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb," straight through at 9:45 am - for those of you interested in something like that. (They'll be playing it straight through again at 9pm.)

    Then XRT will be featuring the new U2 album exclusively through out the day as part of the regular "New Releases" Thursday programing.

    Even if you don't live in Chicago, you can still tune in and hear the whole album. WXRT has a wonderful streaming feature of their radio broadcast that I use all the time at work. Just click over and plugin.

    *** UPDATE: I've been listening to XRT since 11am this morning, and I've only heard music from the new U2 album. I think that's the only thing they're playing up until 9 pm tonight. ***

    It's Gonna Be A Long Four Years

    Rev. Jerry Falwell has announced that he is forming a new coalition to guide an "evangelical revolution."

    He wants it to be the 21st century version of his Moral Majority organization from the 1980s.

    Hmmmm. . . Kringle

    OlafJust ordered 4 kringles from O & H Danish Bakery up in Racine, WI. An apple kringle, a cherry cheese kringle, and two almond kringles.

    We first had kringle during our trip up to Racine last year. Which, we learned, was the Kringle Capital of America so to speak. Kringles are large round pastries in the shape of an "O" that can have any type of filling and are usually topped with a little icing. When I say large, I mean that they're about 14 inches long and about 8 inches wide. A pretty good-sized pastry.

    One of the other things we learned while up in Racine last year was that kringle freeze exceptionally well. So when we came back from Racine, we brought three or four kringles with us and put the freezing technique to the test. We froze two kringle and then defrosted one on Christmas morning and one New Year's Day morning - both with fantastic results.

    Since then Heather has ordered and sent as a gift kringles to her parents, and Heather and I have both tried to win free kringles from O&H Bakery.

    OH logoSo when we received the O&H Bakery catalog in the mail a couple of weeks ago, it was a given that an order would be placed for some holiday kringle. Order once, freeze, and enjoy through out the season.

    But why four kringles, you ask? Because O&H's shipping costs are based on order amount - not weight of shipping. They charge a flat $12.00 for any orders under $35. So, because kringles freeze so well, we figured why not minimize the cost to ship per kringle and order as many kringles as will fit under the $35 ceiling. Hence, four kringles.

    The kringles are scheduled to arrive the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. So we'll get to eat the first one fresh. I tend to prefer the fruit filled kringles, Heather angles towards the almond filled ones. Considering that we haven't had the opportunity to eat any kringle in almost a year, the debate over which one to eat first and which ones to freeze might become a little heated.

    In the end though, it really won't matter - as long as there's kringle there for me to eat while watching the Macy's parade with Ian and Emma, then I'll be happy.

    Comedy Is Built Around a Kernel of Truth

    From this week's issue of The Onion

    the onionBush Promises To Unite Nation For Real This Time
    WASHINGTON, DC—A week after winning a narrow victory over Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, President Bush promised to "unite the divided nation, but for real this time." "Just as I pledged in 2000, I promise to bring the two halves of this nation together—only this time I'm really gonna do it," Bush said Tuesday. "I'll work hard to put an end to partisan politics. Seriously, though. This term, I will." Bush then requested the support of all Americans for his agenda of cutting taxes and extending America's presence in Iraq.

    I Wanna Save the Rainforest Too!

    OSLO (Reuters) - A couple who sparked outrage by having sex on stage in front of thousands of stunned rock concert goers in Norway shocked again on Tuesday when the man pulled down his trousers in court.

    "Oops, I must have dropped my pants," Tommy Hol Ellingsen, 28, said as he stripped in front of reporters during a break at a local court in Kristiansand, southern Norway.

    Hol Ellingsen and Petra Leona Johansson, 22, were in court after refusing to pay a fine of 10,000 crowns ($1,574) each for copulating on stage during a concert in July.

    The two, who are members of an environmental group, said their sex stunt was meant to draw attention to a campaign to save the rain forest. Their attorney argued that they were protected under freedom of expression law.


    That's my style of civil disobedience.

    November 09, 2004

    Is Nothing Sacred?!

    The grimey hands of Hollywood are invading the pure holiday memories of my childhood.

    Roger Moore, Molly Shannon, Tom Kenny and Christopher Lloyd will provide the voices for Classic Media's CG-animated "Peter Cottontail: The Movie."

    The 3-D film, helmed by Mark Gravas, is inspired by the beloved Easter television special "Here Comes Peter Cottontail," directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr. via Rankin Bass. It originally aired in 1971.

    Kenny ("SpongeBob SquarePants") will voice lead characters Peter Cottontail (originally voiced by Casey Kasem), Junior and Antoine. Moore and Shannon will voice the film's villains Irontail and Jackie Frost, respectively, while Lloyd will play narrator Mr. Sassafras.

    Classic Media head of production Evan Baily, Alligator Planet's Ralph Guggenheim and Kapow Pictures' Sandra Walters are producing. Classic Media chairman-CEO Eric Ellenbogen is exec producing.

    Principal animation is near completion. Pic is skedded to bow next spring. Classic Media is in discussions with U.S. studios for domestic distribution. Company's Doug Schwalbe is representing the pic at AFM. (As reported by VARIETY)


    peter cottontail


    This isn't too bad, it's just one of the lesser-know Easter specials Rankin-Bass produced. But I remember it fondly, none the less. If the Hollywood hackmaisters touch any of the Rankin-Bass Christmas specials I don't know what I'll do. So help me God.

    Clarett Says Ohio State Made Him Take Money

    In an interview with ESPN the Magazine, former OSU runningback Maurice Clarett claims that he took the fall for a 2003 NCAA investigation into Ohio State University's football proram.

    He claims that head coach Jim Tressel and members of his staff provided Clarett, and other players, with money, cars, and access to easy classes. Then after Clarett served his suspension, OSU "blackballed" him from the school.

    What?

    Who believes this guy? Maybe it's true, maybe it isn't. Who can tell at this point? Clarett should become a novelist or a playwright, because he sure knows how to tell fun and interesting stories.

    Personally I think they guy is telling more stories to try and stop his freefall in the NFL draft. At this point scouts are predicting he might not go until the fourth or fifth round. General managers are wary of him. They're afraid that by drafting Clarett they would be getting a Ricky Williams - and no one in the NFl wants that.

    And Tom Skilling Is Never Wrong

    Tom says that there is another good chance to see northern lights in the night skies of the midwest tonight. I might try and get outside and take a look. Maybe I'll see something. It would be pretty neat if I did.

    Star Wars Episdoe III Trailer

    It's online. Go ahead and watch it, and watch it, and watch it.

    That's what I'll be doing.

    episode III trailer

    We Ate At Jimmy's Charhouse of Naperville

    While checking on some things with my American Express accound through the AMEX website, I saw the name of the restaurant Heather and I ate at on my birthday - Jimmy's Charhouse of Naperville - in my online statement.

    I did a search on that name and still didn't come up with a website. After a little more clicking and searching, I finally found Jimmy's website.

    It's a pretty bland, unimaginative website. Really doesn't do anything to sell the restaurant at all. I'd say they're doing themselves a disservice with the poor web presence, but considering how frickin' hard it was to find their website, I don't think they have anything to be concerned about.

    Firefox 1.0 Is Here!

    Mozilla.org released the first official 1.0 version of its Firefox web browser today. No more beta versions. No more preview releases. It's the full official thing.



    It's the only browser I will use at work (still prefer Camino - a web browser also developed by Mozilla.org - for the Mac at home). It's fast. It's safe. It's what a web browser should be.

    Sin City Teaser Promo

    Here's the Sin City Teaser Promo that I think was shown at the San Diego Comic Con back in August. It's pretty wild.

    Thanks to petezilla for sharing with me.

    Hmmm . . . More Turkey Soda

    The Jones Soda Co. is back with their Turkey & Gravy Soda this year. Just like you read about in this blog last year, Jones Soda is creating a limited run of soda flavored like turkey and gravy. It's like a little slice of Thanksgiving right in a bottle.

    However, this year they've upped the ante and completed the meal. They've added four more flavors and bundled them together in one box.

  • Turkey & gravy soda
  • Cranberry soda
  • Mashed potato & butter
  • Green bean casserole
  • Fruitcake soda



    A complete meal, including desert, all in five easy to carry bottles.

    Jones Soda will start selling this holiday pack of flavored pop at 8:00AM PST on November 11th through their website store and select Target stores. Last year's run sold out quickly, so if you want some you better be ready with your $15.95. I might actually try and pick some up this year.

  • November 08, 2004

    Birthday Weekend Round-Up

    Heather did make me a Batmobile cake (yellow cake with chocolate frosting). I'll post a picture of it soon.

    We went out for dinner Saturday night. Can't remember the name. It labels itself a char house. It's out on Aurora Ave. I've been seeing it for some time and wanted to give it a try. We ended up eating in the bar area, to avoid a long wait, but we still got a nice table. I had a sirloin steak and Heather had a monstrous burger. My steak was okay and Heather's burger, according to her, was fantastic. I felt my steak was a little too charred, even for a char house. It took away from what was otherwise a tastey steak. Regardless, it was still nice to be out without the kids, enjoying a meal alone with my wife. We even finished in time to make it home for some cake and ice cream with the kids and open presents before they had to go to bed.

    Heather and her parents were good to me with gifts on my birthday. Heather got me a new fall coat - a Docker's wool coat that is much nicer than the barn jacket I've been schlepping around in since college.

    star wars dvd collectionEd and Pat, the parents-in-laws, earned the right to be my best friends for the next year by presenting me with the Star Wars Classic Trilogy DVD collection. All three original Star Wars films - A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi - all digitally re-mastered and primed to sound glorious over my home theater system. Plus, there is a fourth DVD that is all extras and bonus material, including a three-hour documentary about making the trilogy by Ken Burns. I am so stoked.

    I think Ian was as excited about me getting the Star Wars DVD set as I was. I fact, I know he was excited about the bonus material DVD. When I had opened the package he ran around the room with the bonus material DVD in hand showing it to everyone in the room and shouting, "Bonus Material! I get to watch this!"

    (I still think Ian is a little too young for the full movies, but I can't deny his interest in the films. Therefore I restrict his viewing to the bonus material stuff and selected scenes from the films. Which is easier to do with a DVD. So now I'll be able to show him stuff from the first three movies, instead of just things from The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones.)

    Needless to say, the addition of the Star Wars DVDs aren't going to help the prospects of me getting to bed early in the near future. In addition to the Star Wars stuff I now want to watch, I'm still trying to get through all stuff on Batman: The Animated Series, Volume 1 collection and the Looney Tunes Golden Collection, volume 1 that I got this past year. Not to mention The Indiana Jones Trilogy collection I got for my birthday last year. I need to wean myself off of sleep all together.

    notre dame logoThe Fighting Irish of Notre Dame provided a nice birthday present when they upset the Tennessee Volunteers 17 - 13. If nothing else, Notre Dame has consistently given me a reason to watch them every week. Will they be the team that rolled over for BYU and Boston College? Or will they be the team that handled Michigan and Tennessee so well? You can never tell. And that's why you have to watch. Sure, they could come out and dominate every week. But where would the fun in that be? I like a football team with a little mystery. And that's what the Fighting Irish are providing.

    This past weekend it what the Irish defense that won the game. Knocking one Vols' QB out of the game and batting around the other one, the Irish D kept the Tennessee offense in check. Then to help out the Irish offense, which managed only 216 yards of total offense, Mike Goolsby intercepted backup-to-the-backup QB Rick Clausen and ran 26 yards for a touchdown. Nicely done, Mr. Goolsby.

    chicago bears logoNot to be out done by the Irish, the Bears provided their own birthday weekend surprises by defeating the New York Giants Sunday afternoon, 28-21. I didn't have high hopes for the Bears. And after falling behind 14-0, I was certain that we were on our way to viewing another embarrassing Bears' performance. But like the Irish, the Bears came back thanks to powerful play from their defense. The Bears forced five turnovers to help fuel 20 unanswered points to close out the first half.

    Anthony Thomas had another great game, rushing for 110 yards and scoring two touchdowns. I'm not sure if he becomes a free agent at the end of this season or not, but if he doesn't I have to think that the Bears will trade him in hopes of getting a good draft pick. Thomas Jones has proven to be a great back and Anthony Thomas is showing that his Rookie of the Year honor was justified. It would make sense to ship him off to a team that needs a powerful downhill runner and get something of value in return.

    Craig Krenzel was impressive again. Just like in his days with Ohio State, he didn't put up huge personal stats (8 for 21, 144 yards, 1 TD), but did what needed to be done to lead the team to victory. Krenzel is quick thinking, smart quarterback who knows how to run the offense and minimize mistakes. He's a winner, plain and simple. Sure he still make some rookie mistakes (i.e. pro defenses are a lot faster than in college. If you run out of the pocket you better decide to throw or pass quickly because you don't have a lot of time.), but he is displaying the confidence to run a pro offense - which is more than the Bears were getting from Jonathan Quinn. Suddenly I like the Bears chances a little more for the rest of the season. Sure, they'll probably get creamed by the Colts and Jacksonville, but the rest of the games . . . hmmm. . . there might be a chance. Bears could finish 7-9 - maybe 8-8.

    My comic book reading over the weekend was pretty good too. Writer Judd Winnick does a nice job of working in what could be a cheesy guest-star in Outsiders #17 when John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted" fame shows up. The story is strong and Walsh's participation makes sense. I also like the guest art from Dwayne Turner. My only concern is what looks like the diminished role of Nightwing in the team. Nightwing has always been one of my favorite characters, and it was one of the draws of the book for me. I liked seeing Dick Grayson lead a team of heroes, plus seeing him chafe against Arsenal in how to lead the team. How things are playing out right now, Grayson is getting pushed aside by others on the team. I have to admit that a smaller role for Nightwing kinda takes a bit of the appeal for me. I'll wait and see how things develop.

    superman 210Superman Batman #13 was a good wrap up to the re-introduction of Supergirl into the DC universe. Sure the shipping delays on this were a bit of a hassle, but in the end I had fun reading the story. Straight-up classic superhero storytelling - action, action, and more action. It's a lot of guys and gals in costumes beating the crap out of each other while they spout off all sorts of corny and emotionally charged dialogue - but dammit if it isn't a lot of fun. Plus, Michael Turner's art is gorgeous.

    I continue to be impressed with Jim Lee and Brian Azzarello are doing in Superman. In Superman #210 Azzarello continues to weave an intricate mystery story - something I never would have picked to star Superman. I know some other people have panned this book, complaining that Azzarello doesn't know how to write superheroes, but I disagree. I think Azzarello has found a compelling story to tell that stars a superhero, and is doing it in such a way as we haven't seen in comics for some time. This isn't a book about Superman flying around punching people. It's about a man trying to come to terms with a horrible event and his inability to prevent it - even though he has almost god-like powers. I'm really enjoying the story and look forward to each installment.

    What I'm glad to finally be done with is the Harry Johnson two-issue mini-series. What a waste of money. I posted some comments about the first issue of this horrible comic a few weeks ago. The second issue wasn't any better. I'm actually considering packing these two comics up and sending them back to the publisher. That's how bad I think they are. I'll never read these comics again. Sure, the art is fantastic and the story and premise are fun, but the script is utter crap.

    Wow. What an entry. This thing goes on forever.

    Thanks for reading.

    Of, for those of you who might be wondering if I am taking part in National Novel Writing Month. Currently I'm about 11,900 words behind schedule. (i.e. I haven't written a single word yet this month.)

    I don't think I'm going to make it. I should start planning now for next year.

    Maybe I Should Watch More of FoxSports?

    Leeann Tweeden, a reporter on FoxSports' 'The Best Damn Sports Show', is featured in this month's FHM.

    leeann tweeden


    I wonder how the FoxSports job application form reads?

    "In order to be eligible for employment with FoxSports, you must be one (or more) of the following: a) out-spoken former jock, b) failed comedian, c) attractive female willing to pose in lingerie."

    November 07, 2004

    See? I Told You

    The Incredibles is estimated to have made $70.7M this opening weekend.

    Ian and I didn't get to see it this weekend, but we will soon.

    November 06, 2004

    It's My Birthday

    Today's my birthday. I'm 32-years old now.

    Heather's suppose to make me a Batmobile cake. Hopefully she remembers. If she does make me one, I'll make sure to post pictures.

    Ian and Emma have already given me a card. I got to sleep in late and even got to read a few comics in bed before having to climb out of bed and officially start the day. WXRT is doing 1986 on Saturday Morning Flashback - one of my favorite years for music.

    It's been pretty nice so far.

    It's a beautiful day out. Sunny. Clear. The temperature should be in the low 60s. So that will have me in good spirits.

    Heather's even bought me one of the coffee cakes I really like and that she doesn't. Another good thing (not Heather not liken' coffee cake, just havin' the coffee cake is the good thing).

    Heather and I might get to go out for dinner or a movie today or tomorrow. Not sure which yet. Heather's parents are here for the weekend, so we've got built in baby-sitters.

    The birthday weekend is off to a good start.

    November 05, 2004

    Voice of Reason

    Now this commentary from Charlie Madigan of the Chicago Tribune makes some sense. Makes me think that I might have been unfairly generalizing and over-reacting in some of my earlier posts.

    The United States hasn't been damaged at all by the process. In fact, I would argue with anyone who wants to think and drink about it that it was a damned good campaign on both sides and it succeeded in bringing out the best in the nation at many different points.

    I can't tell you how many lovely people I met during this campaign, from the topless young women protesting in the streets of New York during the Republican convention to the Bible-quoting media handler who ferried me around at a Bush rally in Michigan to voters of all kinds who just let me sit down to talk to them about what they were thinking.

    I don't care where you stand on the election results, we live in a wonderful place. All you have to do is go out there and connect with it to know that.

    Good News

    Wendy's is dopping those horrible "Mr. Wendy" commercials. That guy was almost as annoying as the goofball Six Flags was using in their commericals this past summer.

    Good ridance, I say.

    Jennifer Garner Update

    'Cause some of us can't wait for Jennifer Garner and Alias to return to the airwaves in January, we have this photo and a link to the Elektra movie website. The film opens - coincidently - also in January 2005. January's going to be a big month for Jen.

    jennifer garner


    Ben Afflick or not - this blog loves Ms. Garner.

    Hope He Hadn't Ordered Business Cards Yet

    PHOENIX - The Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday fired Wally Backman, just four days after naming him their new manager.

    The decision to oust him so quickly came after revelations that he had twice been arrested and struggled with financial problems. The team, under new management this year, had been unaware of Backman's problems until media reports surfaced.

    The Incredibles

    the incredibles

    The movie is in theaters today. I don't think Ian and I will get to go this weekend - Heather's parents will be in visiting. But will definitely make it soon.

    Read the reviews: Roger Ebert | NY Times | Chicago Tribune | LA Times

    Then go see the movie. You know you want to.

    Losers

    Schwarzenegger almost tripped, he was back peddling so fast after calling California Democrats "Losers."

    It really is amazing to see a big man like that keep putting his foot in his mouth. He must do pilates to keep himself loose like that.

    Ted Rall, This Isn't Helping Things

    How interesting, Democrats watching the election results at a high-rise hotel in midtown Manhattan commented, that the rest of America thinks it understands terrorism better than we do. New York bore the brunt of 9/11 yet CNN's exit poll found that New Yorkers considered Iraq (news - web sites) a bigger issue than terrorism when casting their votes for president. Midwesterners and southerners felt the opposite, motivated by fear of the unknown--literally, as they are neither likely targets of terrorism, nor did they feel or smell the horrors of that terrible day. Ranking terrorism their number one concern, they nevertheless supported an incumbent for whom the war on terrorism is nothing more than a marketing slogan.

    Such astonishing gall! Only women are affected by the abortion debate; only women ought to be allowed to vote on it. The same goes for war--only the young who fight and die in war enjoy the moral right to declare it. Terrorism? Please, if you live in Mississippi or Colorado or Alaska, don't presume to talk about, much less cast your vote based upon, your "views" of Islamist terrorism. New Yorkers don't lecture you about hunting. Butt out of our business. Or at least have the grace to follow the lead of New York City voters if, contrary to history or logic, terrorism is your number one concern.


    Those are the opening two paragraphs of Ted Rall's op/ed piece from yesterday. Whether you agree with his ideas or not, name calling and put downs like he levels here aren't going to do anything to help overcome a country so deeply divided. Speech like this will only serve the purpose of more sharply dividing groups. You don't make me want to sympathize with New Yorkers; you make me want to hate them for being so self-centered. Even though I know you don't speak for all of them.

    If You Just Can't Stand 4 More Years of W . . .

    Marry an American


    A Canadian website has been launched to help pair up desperate American liberal singles with available Canadians for marriage and relocation to the Great White North.

    Episode III Trailer

    star warsGot to see the Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith teaser trailer this morning on the WGN morning news. Caught it completely by chance. I was turning them on to check the weather and I ended up on the station at the exact moment the trailer was starting - it was fate.

    Now I only saw it once - on a 9-inch TV screen - and there was a weather crawl going across the bottom of the screen - so it's hard to really react to it too much. Though it did get me pretty stoked to see it. If anything, seeing it in such a surprising fashion on such a small screen has peaked my desire even more to see it on the big screen before The Incredibles.

    The trailer's got plenty of shots of Anakin looking all pissed - including one with him sporting red eyes similar to the ones Darth Maul had. We get to see the Darth Vader armor strapped to a table. A lot of Obi-Wan and Mace looking a little scared/pissed and swinging lightsabers. Even some shots of Chewbacca and some other Wookies. Plus, a sweet shot of Darth Sidious swinging his red lightsaber at someone.

    If you're interested, TheForce.net has a shot-by-shot break down of the trailer - but you either have to be pretty hardcore about Star Wars or have already seen the trailer to get much out of this. Still, I'll provide the link.

    The trailer starts running before The Incredibles today and a free download of the trailer will be at StarWars.com on Monday. Revenge of the Sith comes out May 2005.

    This is going to be so cool.

    November 04, 2004

    I Want To Recapture My Youth

    millennium falconHelp me get the most coveted toy from when I was a child: the Star Wars Millennium Falcon.

    You can also buy it here.

    You could still get it for me on my birthday, which is only two days away. Plenty of time. Heck, I won't mind if it's late. There also plenty of time until Christmas too.

    Just a thought.

    Election Thoughts

    So W won the right to lead the country for four more years. Frankly, I'm disappointed. I can't think of a candidate who I thought more unqualified to lead the nation than W.

    That fact that he not only won the electoral count and the popular vote indicates that I'm in the minority in feeling that he is not the right person for the job. I can deal with that. Though with a 51% to 49% break, it really isn't much of minority. These election results, viewed in light of the intensity of the campaigning that occurred, indicates a country split right down the middle.

    According to the analysis surrounding the election, voting choices came down to 'moral values'. What I found interesting is what Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn had to say about these reports:

    In most of the coverage, however, we never hear articulated exactly what these "moral issues" are, what distinguishes them from plain old issues and why it's taken as a given that conservatives are more "moral" than liberals and progressives.

    The term seems to encompass opposition to gay marriage - rejected by a majority of voters in 11 out of 11 referendums - and so-called "partial-birth" abortion, along with support for an increased role for religion in the public sphere.

    It doesn't so much disturb me that I may be hold a minority viewpoint on all three of these questions, but that pollsters and pundits so readily employ terminology that assumes the idea that the above are the more "moral" positions.

    To use the word "moral" so narrowly yet so casually is to yield vast territory in the culture wars before the first rhetorical shot is fired.


    It would appear that "moral values" is being tightly defined as gay marriages, abortion, and the place of religion in government in terms of what drove voting decisions for the president, and that there was just enough white fundamentalist Christians out there to give W the edge in vote getting.

    For me, "moral issues" - if that's what this country is going to debate - also includes war, civil liberties, and personal responsibility. And it is those issues I'll continue to use in evaluating who I think has earned the right to govern me.

    What I also find troublesome with W's re-election is his pledge to work with those who didn't vote for him in unifying the country and building it into a better place. Isn't this the same line of crap he served up in 2000 after that election debacle? That he would be a "bringer-togetherer and not a breaker-aparter" - to paraphrase a line from SNL. Looking at the election results, it would appear that W and his cronies have done little to bring the nation together. If anything they have done an exemplary job of establishing an "us and them" mentality. But, if W is honest in his proclamation (as those voting their moral conscience certainly believe), then I guess he's got four years - or at least 2 years - to prove me wrong.

    Again I'll quote Eric Zorn:

    Now he gets four more years to try to be a uniter not a divider, to increase respect for the United States throughout the world, to reduce the threat from Islamic fundamentalists who practice terror, to put more people back to work, to improve health care and extend educational opportunities to the disadvantaged, to stanch the flow of red ink in the Federal budget, to protect the environment and to do all the other things he promised he'd do.

    Republican President Bush will enjoy a Republican Senate, a Republican House, Republican appointees in seven of the nine Supreme Court justice seats, 29 Republican governors and virtually 24/7 support from right-wing talk radio to help him realize those promises and confirm the beliefs of his supporters.

    Credit and blame for what happens in this country and to this country in the upcoming years will belong to him and his party.

    Speaking for myself, I'll be happy to apportion both and trust that they will accept it honestly.

    They begged the electorate to give them responsibility. Well, they've got it:

    Opportunity. Responsibility and that ol' devil Accountability.

    No more blaming Dan Rather, Tom Daschle or the homosexual agenda when things go wrong.

    No more bleating about what President Clinton did to the economy and a White House intern and didn't do to Osama bin Laden.


    I guess I'll have to wait and see.

    One good thing has already come out of the election, W's Gestapo head, John Ashcroft, will more than likely be leaving his post as Attorney General. So maybe people will be able to read books and email with a sense of security again.

    Views From Around the Globe

    I hate to read into things too much, but my gut tells me that Great Britian's Daily Mirror newspaper isn't happy with how the U.S. presidential election has turned out.

    daily mirror cover

    Way to Go Greg

    greg madduxI'd like to extend a congratulations to Greg Maddux, who has won his 14th Gold Glove Award.

    Maddux, who won 13 consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1990-2002, compiled a .987 fielding percentage (1 error in 77 total chances) while starting three double plays in 2004.

    Besides being the only Cubs pitcher to ever win a Gold Glove Award, his is also the first Cub to win a Gold Glove since Mark Grace did back in 1996.

    Way to go Maddux. It's good to have you on the team.

    More Blogger Problems

    Blogger was having huge database issues yesterday, preventing me from publishing things to my site yesterday. I tried once early in the morning and then again at lunch and gave up after that. So make sure you scroll down to see what I had to say yesterday.

    The continuing problems with Blogger's systems is leading me to play around with my own blogging software. I think I might give WordPress a try. I've already built a MySQL database on my site and have configured some of the pages. I just haven't uploaded them to the site yet. I'm think I might give that a shot next week.

    Though I'm fairly tech-savy, WordPress is built on PHP pages - a complete mystery to me. So there is a learning curve here that I'm trying to overcome, despite the fact that my job no longer requires me to be up on stuff like this.

    November 03, 2004

    Evangelism Gone Astray

    TAIPEI (Reuters) - A man leaped into a lion's den at the Taipei Zoo on Wednesday to try to convert the king of beasts to Christianity, but was bitten in the leg for his efforts.

    "Jesus will save you!" the 46-year-old man shouted at two African lions lounging under a tree a few meters away.

    "Come bite me!" he said with both hands raised, television footage showed.

    One of the lions, a large male with a shaggy mane, bit the man in his right leg before zoo workers drove it off with water hoses and tranquilizer guns.

    Newspapers said that the lions had been fed earlier in the day, otherwise the man might have been more seriously hurt ... or worse.


    Gotta love the guy's dedication to his cause, but you have to question his execution.

    We're A Country of Backward Meatheads

    Voters in 11 states voted to adopt state constitutional amendments barring gay marriages in yesterday's elections.

    I still don't understand what scares so many people about alloying two men or two woman to legally marrying? Where's the threat? If Bob and John get hitched, I'm pretty certain the sky will not turn black and the rivers run crimson with blood. No one's head will explode. The world will not end.

    Do the people in these 11 states think they have somehow earned the right to tell others how to live their lives? Gays who want to marry aren't hurting anyone. They're not bothering anyone. They just want the equal rights the man-woman unions receive from the government and society. Why can't you just let them live their lives freely?

    This is sickening.

    November 02, 2004

    Fantasy Football Midseason Report

    We're halfway through the season and things are looking up for my teams.

    After shaky starts both of my teams have settled down and begun to score points and win. I've picked some players up from free agency, made a trade, and in general learned who my consistent performers are. The result has me in 4th place in both leagues.



    The Gotham Knights is my public league team that is anchored by a strong running crew and some tough defense. Randy Moss has been big for me up until his injury, but the addition of McCareins and Burleson have helped pick up the slack. Having Eric Johnson in the TE position has also been a steal (up until last week against the Bears, that is. Hopefully the 49ers get Johnson back in the offense next week.)

    I've been able to tear off three victories in a row to pull myself up to .500, but the next three weeks are against some pretty tough teams.



    Hamster Sausage is my Winner's league team. Here I've got more RBs than I know what to do with, and haven't been able to orchestrate a trade. My receiving crew is also solid here as well, with Marvin Harrison, Nate Burleson, and David Givens all starting. What I'd like is a big play QB. Hasselbeck is having the big season like I thought he would and I picked Kurt Warner up from free agency as a backup, but he really isn't tearing things up much. Solid play, but no touchdowns.

    My 5-3 record is strong, but I'm going to have to play well down the stretch if I want to make the playoffs. The rest of the schedule has me against teams from the bottom and the top of the standings, so anything can happen.

    He'll Win Next Time

    I attended last night's 36th annual Jeff Awards, at which my brother Kevin was nominated in the Actor in a Supporting Role-Play category for his performance of 'Puck" in First Folio's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

    He didn't win (it went to Scott Parkinson in the production of "Rose Rage"), but it was still great to be there, support him, and see the awards show.

    It was like a toned-down Tony Awards show; sandwiched between giving awards, there were musical numbers from a number of the night's nominees, the presenters made cheesy jokes, and the winners all gushed about their fellow actors and the amazing directors who guided the productions. I really enjoyed it.

    I know it might sound like a cliché, but I have to think that my brother really did think it was an honor to be nominated. It validated the years of hard work he has put in honing his craft. The mere fact that he was nominated also elevated his visibility in the Chicago theater community. They know he's out there now. They know that he's got serious, acting chops. They know that he can handle big time equity productions. A couple of years ago he took a chance on working with a theater company out in Rockford and it elevated his career to true professional actor. I really believe this nomination will provide a new springboard for his career into a serious player within the Chicago acting community.

    Of course, I'm his brother and I might be biased . . .