January 31, 2005

Maybe It's Time To Return To Nightwing

Nightwing has always been one of my favorite comic book superheroes He's the dark, driven aspect of Batman with the lighter, fun side of Robin. I really enjoyed his solo series when it debuted back in 1995 and read it all the way up until around 2002. I dropped the series then because after penciler Greg Land left, DC Comics was cycling in all sorts of different artists - each one worse than the previous, in my opinion. I tired of the shifting creative teams and the poor art quality, so I dropped the title - even though I love the character.

Well now Dan Didio, the man who is almost single-handedly breathing life into DC Comic properties, has decided that Nightwing is going to be one of the titles he really pushes in 2005 so he wants to stabilize the art team and bring on some great talent. Starting with issue #107 Phil Hester and Ande Parks will be the new art team working with current writer Devin Grayson. I really like the choice. Hester has got a great angular style that I think suits Nightwing beautifully, I dropped Nightwing before Grayson came on as writer, so I don't what she's like - though I've head mixed reviews on her Nightwing stories. Though I did read a Grayson penned Nightwing / Huntress miniseries back in the early 90's that I really enjoyed.

Nonetheless, my interest in the character is strong enough and the art from Hester looks cool enough that I might give Nightwing another try. Frankly there isn't enough of Nightwing in Outsiders to give me the Nightwing fix I need. So being able to return to his solo title and enjoy it would be a nice change.

nightwing sketches

As If There Was Any Doubt

The Incredibles swept the 32nd annual Annie Awards, winning awards for best animated feature, best directing and best voice acting for Brad Bird.

The Annie Awards are presented to honor outstandings animation in television and film.

The Incredibles is also nominated for an Academy Award for best animated feature, which I'm sure it will win easily. Fantastic film.

Bye, Bye Sammy

bye bye sammyDespite all the odds, the Cubs did make a deal to send Sammy Sosa packing. Pending league approval of the trade, Sammy will be sent to the Baltimore Orioles for an infielder and few minor leaguers. Plus the Cubs will still have to pay a portion of Sammy's salary. Not a blockbuster deal by any means and an indicator of how eager the Cubs were to shed themselves of this fading superstar.

I'm glad to see Sammy go. Last season he was anything but helpful for the team, and it's clear his skills as a player are in decline. The Chicago Tribune had a great graphic in the Sunday sports section that I would link to if they made it available online. It graphed Sammy's production in games played, home runs, RBI, and runs. Between 1998 and 2001 he is obviously performing at his best; driving in tons of runs and having 50+ home run seasons. But then starting in 2002 you see things start to drop off rapidly. With the sharpest decline starting in 2003 - the same season he got beamed hard in the head by a fastball in Pittsburgh. Sammy hasn't been the same player since - both on the field and as a personality. For this I'm glad to see the Cubs shedding themselves of a player who can no longer contribute to the team.

However, Tribune columnist Mike Downey, a writer I really enjoy and admire, made a good point in his Saturday column. In a nutshell, if you are a Cubs fan, at some point in the past Sammy was a hero of ours.
"Maybe you're an Ernie Banks man. Maybe you're a Billy Williams fan. Whatever you are, the fact remains that at some point in your life, if you're a Cubs fan, this man was a hero of yours. Or a man you admired."
chicago cubsPersonally, I'm a Ryne Sandberg man, but Downey is right. I used to be a big fan of Sammy's. Heather can tell you how I used to give out my Sammy Sosa chant in a bastardized Sammy Davis Jr. voice whenever Sosa stepped up to the plate, hit a long ball, (or more infrequently) made a great play in right field. But his behavior over the last few years have shown him to be a player more concerned with his personal stats and accolades, and not the team. Sure, Wrigley Field won't be the same without Sammy's big grin and fun-loving (and bigger-than-life) personality in the clubhouse, but we've got Nomar now to be the superstar of the team And Nomar knows that team comes before the player.

One of the big questions now is who will play right field. There has been talk of the Cubs signing Jeremy Burnitz. But Burnitz doesn't excite any Cubs fan, including me. I'd rather see the Cubs sign Magglio Ordonez. He might be coming off some serious knee surgery, but he has proven in the past that he can drive in lots of runs. Which is what the Cubs can use considering the departure of not only Sosa, but Moises Alou as well.

The situation in right field has to be worked out, but I have to believe the Cubs overall were helped by the subtraction of Sosa. I loved him in his prime, but it was time to leave. Hell, I've dropped the bad Sammy Davis voice and I've been working on my bastardized Boston accent all winter. NOMAH! YOU'RE WICKED HARDCORE!

Oedipus Complex and the Telecommuication Marketplace

SBC has agreed to buy AT&T for $16 billion.

That's quite a big telecom company now. Not sure how this will effect me, if it will at all. We already use SBC services for out local, long distance, and DSL service. The only holdout is moible service, where we go with T-Mobile. I just find it fasinating that one of the Baby Bells grew to be big enough to buy their original parent company. Plus, this is the second big merger in the last two weeks, following the massive Procter & Gamble buy-out of Gillette for $57 billion.

January 28, 2005

Revenge of the Sith Title Crawl

Because I'm a Star Wars geek . . .

star wars episode 3 title crawl

StarWars.com has all six title crawls together on one page, if you're so inclinded.

I Wished I Shared Tom Reich's Optimism

chicago cubs logoTom Reich, one of Sammy Sosa's many agents, told the Chicago Tribune, "I think (Sammy Sosa) will be traded."

I'm not sure what Reich is smoking, but I think he needs to pass it around. There is absolutely zero interest in Sosa - even by his own team and fans. Sosa is a lame duck with nowhere to go. Reich talks about how great Sosa is and how he will be a valuable contributor to any team in 2005 and beyond, but I don't think Reich is talking about the same Sosa everyone else is talking about. The Sammy Sosa in Chicago is great hitter - when he's taking his time to pick his pitch and not simply swinging for the fences, or not afraid to step into the batter's box - but a fair to lousy fielder who routinely miss-plays balls hit his way.

I think Sosa has worn out his time here in Chicago. Unfortunately there is nowhere for him to go. So unless a GM at another team suffers some form of head injury and wakes up wanting the aging Sosa and his $17 million salary, I think Chicago will be saddled with him for the time being.

Fidget For Fitness

A recent study found that lean people are more fidgety than obese people and that the extra motion a lean person puts themselves through with their fidgety behavior helps them burn an additional 350 calories a day - essentially 10 to 20 pounds a year. Obese people spend more time sitting still each day than lean people.

Even more fascinating than this news is the discovery that people seem to be born with a propensity to be either fidgety or listless. The people in the article tried to not make it sound too doom and gloom for the listless people. But come on, if you predisposed to just sit around and society and technology provide you with all sorts of ways to stay on that couch, it's gonna take a massive change in behavior to cut the cords to the conveniences and the fight against their in-born tendencies to remain still.

What's important to remember, and those in the article point this out, this research cannot and shouldn't be used to suggest that obesity is genetic and there is nothing a grossly overweight person can do to counteract this condition. Whether someone is fidgety or not does not make someone fat. This trait, plus their diet and their other physical activity is what causes obesity.

What's interesting is that scientists have been able to find a genetic beginning - or indicator - of someone who runs the risk of becoming obese if they don't pay attention to the other aspects of their life. Unfortunately, most people aren’t willing to accept this responsibility. They’d prefer to blame McDonald’s for allowing them to eat at the fast food chain three to four times a week for years or spend buckets of money on outfitting a home entertainment center that they can control from a recliner that sits next to a mini-fridge.

Some Divine Double Team Protection

Considering the shocking information I learned yesterday; that I might be harboring an agent of Satan in my home. I thought it best to call upon the divine to protect me, my family, and this blog.

jesus and elvis on black velvet

And would could possible provide more protection than the King of Kings and The King depicted together on black velvet?

That's a Lot of Razors and Shampoo

Procter & Gamble is buying Gillette for $57 billion. $57 billion! That's amazing. The new company will obviously be the world's largest consumer-products company (Though I thought P&G already could make that claim before the merger.) with annual sales of over $60 billion. That is just staggering.

The last huge merger on this scale that I can remember was when AOL purchased Time-Warner. That hasn't turned out to be such a great deal, with rumors abound that the AOL division will be sold off - effectively un-doing everything that happened back in 2001.

This is different though. P&G and Gillette are essentially the same sort of company, doing the same sort of things. It's a merger in a more truer sense of the term than what AOL and Time-Warner tried. It will be interesting to see how things develop.

January 27, 2005

Clone Wars DVD

StarWars.com has posted images of the packaging art for the soon to be released Star Wars: Clone Wars DVD. The DVD will collect the entire 20 episode animated series that ran on Cartoon Network last year. I'm very excited for its release and the debut of a second volume of Clone Wars animated shorts on CN this spring. The series was just fantastic.

clone wars dvd

You can check out all the DVD packaging art over at StarWars.com.

This Isn't Good For Bumper

J.R. asks, "Are cats for true Christians?"

"Since cats were associated with the devil, could we as faithful and dedicated servants of God therefore contaminate ourselves by exposure to a 'living symbol' of satanic incarnation? How would this reflect on God's name and that of his visible, earthly organization? Would we want to be linked with a symbol of Satan, the 'god of this beastly system of things'?"

I'd have to answer with an emphatic "no!" Unless J.R. meant the question in a rhetorical fashion. In which case I’m sure J.R. already knows my answer.

"While the animal itself may be unaware of this tragic condition, it serves only its true master - Satan, the Devil."

Oh, my. That sounds very bad. I guess will have to get rid of Bumper. I hope the kids understand. By getting rid of their beloved pet I'm just looking out for their eternal soul.

The Sad Backwater of the Entertainment Business

monty clipAs usual, today's Monty is funny. Jim Meddick rarely fails to craft a daily strip that isn't amusing in one way or another. He's comic creator on top of his game.

Jim gets his laugh today by poking fun at himself and his profession. Moondog calls comics the "sad backwater of the entertainment business produced by suckers who crank out gags 365 days a year."

Unfortunately, like most good comedy, there is a little truth in that statement. For every interesting and funny comic like Monty, or For Better Or For Worse, Get Fuzzy, FoxTrot, or Pearls Before Swine there is still utter crap out there like Cathy, Garfield, and Dilbert - comics that are not funny, have not evolved, and have given nothing back to the medium. They are hack comics that are interested in only turning out 365 gags a year, even if they are the same 365 gags recycled over and over and over.

In fact, I was recently flipping through a Dilbert monthly calendar that I have when I came to the realization that not only has Dilbert become tired and stale but the strip's creator, Scott Adams, has turned himself into another Jim Davis. Davis, the man behind Garfield, has made it know that from the very start of the strip he had his eye on all the marketing and promotional opportunities for the character. From a business standpoint it was a great move. Davis has gotten his creation out there and has made a lot of money for himself. But where does that leave the source material? If you read a Garfield comic from 1986, one from 1996, and one from today you see the same jokes, same situations, same gags. Nothing has changed. And how could it? Davis sold the calendar companies and the animation studios on a fat, sarcastic cat who's always hungry and tormenting the other people and animals who live with him. You can't change that or you lose your marketing hooks. But you have to keep publishing the strip in order to justify all the ancillary items out there for people to buy. So Davis has painted himself into a creative corner. Keep the strip going but change nothing. Who wants to read that?

dilbertAdams is the same way. Maybe he started out just interested in chronicling the follies of working in cubicle life for a big company, but as popularity and money-making opportunities presented themselves, steps have to be made to ensure that the product is consistent with what the public is expecting. There are Dilbert calendars, t-shirts, books, cards, and branded merchandise everywhere. Therefore you have a comic that has quickly become stale. Adams has beaten the office jokes to death. Is there anything left for him to say? From what I've seen; no, he's dry. Yet, to keep up the advertising contracts and book contracts Dilbert has to stay in print. So Dilbert has become Garfield and added to the sad backwater of entertainment.

Cathy is just crap. Always was and always will be.

What Might Have Been

Budweiser came up with a great commercial that spoofs the Nipple-gate from last year's Super Bowl halftime show. They wanted to run it during this year's Super Bowl. However both FOX, who is broadcasting the media event / game, and the NFL have told Budweiser that they won't run the spot.

Therefore if you want to see it you have to go to Budwesier.com to see it.

Stan Lee, I Think It's Time To Leave The Stage

Stan Lee, creator of Spiderman, the Hulk, and the Fantastic Four, is trying once again to create another super hero. This time he and his POW! Entertainment company is launching a new animated property starring a super hero based - and voiced - by ex-Beatle Ringo Starr.

This is just so sad.

Unlike other comic book creator legends like Jack Kirby or Will Eisner who continued to expand and build on their creative energies, pushing comics further and further as a medium, Stan Lee seems forever locked into the Bam! Wiff! sensibilites of the 60's when he first envisioned Peter Parker and his unique powers. Since leaving Marvel Comics in the 80's, all of the new projects Stan has unveiled have looked tired and boring immediately upon launch. I can't think of anything that he has created in the last 20 years that has grabbed my imagination (and if the string of financial failures is any indication) or the imagination of anyone else. This Ringo Starr project looks like another lead balloon

Into The Blue

80's teen pop idol Debbie Gibson did a nude photo layout for Playboy that will appear in next month's issue.

And what is probably just a coincident; Gibson will be releasing her first new album in over four years. It's title? "Naked"

January 26, 2005

Hmmm . . . Cinnamon Hearts

I'm a big fan of cinnamon flavored candy. I eat cinnamon imperials by the handful and usually until my tongue starts to tingle. Gummy cinnamon bears were a staple in my Christmas stocking for years and I'm a sucker for cinnamon disks. I just can't get enough of that cinnamon candy.

This year Heather found a new cinnamon flavored candy to add to my list of favorites - Cinnamon Jelly Hearts from Brach's. (no info about this candy at Brach's site, or I'd link to it.) The cinnamon hearts aren't as hot as the bears or disks, but they are very flavorful and a nice alternative to the overload of cherry flavored candy that is dumped upon us around this time of year. I've already made my way through one bag and found a few more at Osco just the other day.

Hmmmm. . . very good.

Here's a Legacy For You, W

deficit graphic

January 25, 2005

Here Come the Razzies

razzie logoEveryone will be talking about the Oscar nominations today, but I'm more interested in who got nominated for a 2004 Razzie. That's what is really fun.

Not surprisingly, the Halle Berry stinker Catwoman lead with 7 nominations, inlcuding worst picture and worst actress for Halle Berry. Oliver Stone's Alexander also snagged a few nominations. Even our current President, George W. Bush earned a worst actor nomination for his performance in Fahrenheit 9/11.

Plus, to celebrate 25 years of the Razzies, they released nominations for the worst in film for the last 25 years.

Kim Basinger (With 6 Nominations Total)
Angelina Jolie (With 7 Nominations, including 2 for 2004)
Ryan O’Neal (With 6 Nominations Total)
Keanu Reeves (With 7 Nominations Total)
Ah-Nuld Schwarzenegger (With 8 Nominations, including 1 for 2004)

WORST ‘DRAMA’ of Our First 25 YEARS

WORST ‘COMEDY’ of Our First 25 YEARS
GIGLI (2003)

GLITTER (2001)
XANADU (1980)

Dad, I Found a Comic For You

The subject matter and the sensibilities seem to be a perfect fit for you.

mr district attorney comic cover

Let The Potty Training Begin

Emma officially started potty training yesterday. We knew she was getting ready. For the last few days she had been increasingly demanding to have her diaper changed shortly after she had peed or pooped. Heather had planned on waiting until this upcoming weekend to begin potty training, because we would be home and could focus solely on teaching Emma how to use the toilet and not a diaper. We figured it would just make things easier and less stressful for everyone involved.

But that all changed yesterday, when on the spur of the moment Heather asked Emma if she wanted to wear some training pants (i.e. pull-up diapers) - on the condition that Emma had to tell Heather she needed to pee before she actually did the deed. Emma agreed and Heather figured, "What do I have to lose?" Emma usually is very good about following directions like that. Smart kid and very aware of what is going on and what is being asked of her.

After keeping the pull-up diaper dry all through her nap, Emma frantically announced to Heather that she had to pee. They rushed to the bathroom; Emma pulled down her "training pants" and sat on the toilet. Sure enough, the pull-ups were dry and Emma began to pee in the toilet. Much cheering and celebrations followed. Emma called me at work (unfortunately I was in a meeting, but I called her back for even more cheering and celebrations).

Emma continued to do this for the rest of the afternoon. Letting Heather know when she needed to use the bathroom and then doing it - all the time keeping the pull-up diaper dry. The only misstep was she pooped in the pull-up. But that's always a harder thing for kids to master when they began potty training.

So Emma is off to a roaring start. If she keeps this behavior up all week, and shows some progress in anticipating when she needs to poop, she could be into regular underpants very shortly. Which will make life just a little easier (and cheaper) for everyone.

Have You No Shame?

There was a guy on the train this morning trimming his finger nails Actually I assume it was a guy, woman usually display a little more couth in their choice of public grooming habits. I also assume that it was just his fingernails.

Anyway, at what point did this guy think it was okay for him to clip, clip, clip his little nails on the train? What is he doing with the trimmings? Just leaving them there on the floor of the train car? That's just plain rude and gross. Did his mother teach him that something like this is socially acceptable? Maybe he was raised by monkeys? Sure, that's it, Tarzan the Apeman was on the train this morning. Damn, we had a celebrity on the train and I didn't even know it.

Clip you damn fingernails at home, ass-monkey.

January 24, 2005

A Brief Review

I credit Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns with showing me that comic books could be written with an intensity and depth that an older, experienced reader of literature would expect. It's what got me seriously into reading comics back in 1990.

Similarly, it was Neil Gaiman and his work in Sandman which opened my eyes to the fact that comics meant much more than just super heroes. Comics are a beautiful medium for telling all sorts of stories starring all sorts of characters. The only boundaries are the imagination of the creators and what can be physically printed.

sandman brief livesIt's because of the importance of these two works within my personal history of comic book reading that I continue to hold these books in such high regard and enjoy re-visiting them when I can. I've read DKR a number of times and though I'm almost ashamed to admit it, I'm still working my way through all ten installments of the Sandman series.

This past weekend I finished reading Sandman: Brief Lives, book seven in the series, and by many regarded as the best storyline Gaiman crafted in the 75 issues he wrote in the series. The plot is fairly basic: Delirium wants Dream to assist her in going on a search to find their brother Destruction, who 300 years ago abandoned his role and his family.

Of course, there is much more to the story than just this. Ultimately Gaiman's story is about change - its inevitability, its value, and its problems. His characters struggle to understand themselves and the world about them, and at journey's end have found the answers that they seek, but the answers don't always give the solace that they believed they would when the journey began.

I can see where fans of the series hold this particular tale in high regard. Gaiman's story is particularly focused in its plot and theme, without heavy reliance on cryptic symbolism or philosophic double-speak. Having Jill Thompson remain as artist through out the entire story arc also helps keep Brief Lives together from a narrative standpoint. Too often a single Sandman tale will be illustrated by two or more artists, which can break continuity in the storytelling. Having Thomspon through out ties everything together nicely.

I only have a few more Sandman collections to read, and then I'm going back to re-read the series finale (which is where I actually discovered the series) The Kindly One and The Wake

The Perfect Valentine's Day Gift

I have found it, and now plan to buy it for Heather every year for the rest of my life.

elvis roses

1/2 Dozen Fresh Elvis Portrait Roses

Preserve your memory of Elvis with these beautiful roses. Elvis’s image appears in all its glory, making the rose by any other name even sweeter. One half dozen roses in a vase adorned with ferns and baby's breath. The unique customization for each individual order affects the processing time of this product. Therefore, order fulfillment can take up to 3-5 days to process and is then shipped overnight at a cost of $21.98.

January 23, 2005

Johnny Carson Dies at 79

Johnny Carson passed away early this morning at the age of 79. He will forever be know as the "King of Late Night" for his 30-year run as host of NBC's Tonight Show.

Even as a young kid, when the show should have been over my head, I found Carson enjoyable to watch. I always loved how he interacted with his guests, seemed to really enjoy the time he was having on the show, and all the goofy skits he used to perform. Plus he always seemed to have he best stand-up comics on his show. Something my brother and I wanted to watch all the time.

There will never be another one like Mr. Carson.

January 22, 2005

I'm An Alton Fan

I've always like watching cooking shows even though I really don't enjoy cooking all that much. I'll cook to feed myself or my kids, but I don't take joy in the preparation or get a thrill out of trying new things. That's all Heather. Of course, she likes cooking shows too.

alton brownBecause of this, and because of some of their fun programming, Heather and I are fans of the Food Network. One of the shows I found on the network a few years ago and really liked was Good Eats. hosted by this really goofy lookng guy named Alton Brown. I thought the show was great. Alton does just walked you through a recipe, he provides all sorts of history, stories, and cooking science behind whatever topic the show is tackling; and it was all delivered in a fun, off-beat fashion.

Heather thought he was just odd at first, but now she's even come around and enjoys Alton's style of show. Alton's getting more TV coverage on the Food Network as host of their newly launched Iron Chef America series. I say check him out. You'll learn all sorts of interesting stuff and be entertained at the same time.

January 21, 2005

Diane Warren, Eat Your Heart Out

Emma has taken to making up her own little songs. Ian did something similar when he was 2, but his artistic creations usually involved something more physical - like the infamous "Waffle Dance."

Emma has her "Girl Song" that she likes to sing to Zoe. I haven't figured out the lyrics (if they exist) and the melody changes from time to time, but it seems sorta nice. She's also created her "You Can Play With Me" song, which pretty much consists of just those lyrics repeated over and over and over and over. It's actually quite sweet. Especially when she's singing it.

Her latest, and by far best, musical creation debuted this past Tuesday. Titled "Crack Your Head Open" it's a narrative song that tells the story of a little girl who falls and cracks her head open, and the sorrow that is visited upon everyone following this event. The song is so popular with Emma right now that she has requested it a number of times to be sung to her before she lays down for her nap or before going to bed at night.

Now before the folks at Child Protective Services get their panties in a twist, Emma has never, ever - nor have any of our other children - fallen and cracked their head open. Heather has, however, used the threat of falling and cracking their head open as a possible result from jumping on the couch, standing on a chair, playing on the stairs, etc. We think Emma just took Heather's hook and built a song around it. Ain't that sweet?

Best News All Week

Later today Michael K. Powell will announce that he will resign as Chairman of the FCC this March.

No maybe the FCC can go back to being an organization that protects the airwaves from being controled by a few mega-corporations and spend less time trying to police TV and radio for every little nipple flash.

Given' The Devil a Shout-Out

That's what Norweigans thought President Bush was doing when he flashed the popular "hook 'em, 'horns" hand sign when greeting the University of Texas Longhorn marching band at his parade yesterday. Apparently in Norway the hand sign is considered a salute to Satan.

bush hookin horns

I'm sure there are plenty of people in America who think that W is killing two birds with one stone when flashing the "Hook 'em" sign yesterday.


Raleigh Thrown in Tizzy by Inch of Snow

A mere inch of snow was all it took to cripple North Carolina's capital — and prompt plenty of finger-pointing Thursday as the city thawed from the surprise storm that caused gridlock and left 3,000 students stranded in classrooms overnight.

HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! One inch of snow. HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! Declared state of emergency by the Governor. HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!

For The Person Who Has Everything

You can now buy them absolutely nothing

You Too Can Be Wu

The Wu-Tang Klan has finally released the Wu-Tang Manual. The book is a "written introduction to the philosophy and history of the Wu-Tang Clan." The manual is divided into four books and explains the alter egos of the clan, warrior codes, numerological systems, and Eastern spiritual ethics that define the Wu-Tang dynasty.

If only Ol' Dirty Bastard had lived to see it's publication.

America is One Big Happy Right Now

While the "Buck Fush" clearly lacks any creativity, and personally I find such crude forms of protesting distasteful and counter-productive, I really liked the "What mandate you nitwit?" sign.

photo of protesters

January 20, 2005

I Don't Even Want To Think About It

So did you hear about the woman in Brazil who recently gave birth to a 16.7 pound baby - NATURALLY.

Okay, the natual birth thing is a joke. The kid was obviously born by Caesarean section. No 17-pounder baby roughly the size of an average 6-month-old is coming down the birthing canal. They had to air-left this big boy out.

What I haven't been able to learn is how big the mom is. I hope she isn't a petite little 5'4" woman. I don't even want to think about what the last few months were like for her. Or for her husband for that matter.

This Is Funny


Holy Lego Movies, Batman!

Batman: New Times movie poster

The movie poster above is for Batman: New Times, the resulting CGI-based film from animation school students at the DAVE (Digital Animation and Visual Effects) School. The movie trailer is online and looks pretty cool - eventhough they didn't actually make the movie out of LEGOs. They simply modeled the look after what a LEGO-built enviroment would look like. The students got some big name talent to provide the voices; Adam West as Batman, Mark Hamill as the Joker, Courtney Thorne-Smith as Catwoman, and Dick Van Dyke as Commissioner Gordon. Pretty impressive.

I Like Comics and I'm Normal . . . Really, I Am

Though it's hard for me to make my argument when there are pages like this out there.

January 19, 2005

Cool Action Figures and Stuff

DC Comics is starting to make it a practice to produce action figures based on popular comic book storylines. They've done it for Batman: Hush, Kingdom Come, and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns; and I know they have one in the works for Superman: For Tomorrow.

Checking out the recently released DC April solicits, I learned that they've pulled togther a line based on Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, the first storyarc in the popular Superman/Batman comic.

superman batman action figures

The figures are based on Ed McGuinness' artwork and I think they look pretty neat. I like McGuinnes' art style. It's fun and goofy - well suited for big, over-the-top, action stories like Public Enemies. If I didn't already have a great looking Batman and Captain Marvel figure, I would be inclined to pick a number of these up. Even the Captain Atom figure.

And speaking of the DC Comics solicits, the covers to Justice League Unlimited #8 and Green Arrow #49 caught my eye.

justice league unlimited 8 cover

green arrow 49

Pretty neat, huh?

This Is For Elizabeth and Dad

AP NEWSWIRE - MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Defense attorney Leslie Ballin called it the "jury pool from hell." The group of prospective jurors was summoned to listen to a case of Tennessee trailer park violence. Right after jury selection began last week, one man got up and left, announcing, "I'm on morphine and I'm higher than a kite."

When the prosecutor asked if anyone had been convicted of a crime, a prospective juror said that he had been arrested and taken to a mental hospital after he almost shot his nephew. He said he was provoked because his nephew just would not come out from under the bed.

Another would-be juror said he had had alcohol problems and was arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover officer. "I should have known something was up," he said. "She had all her teeth."

Another prospect volunteered he probably should not be on the jury: "In my neighborhood, everyone knows that if you get Mr. Ballin (as your lawyer), you're probably guilty." He was not chosen.

The case involved a woman accused of hitting her brother's girlfriend in the face with a brick. Ballin's client was found not guilty.

January 18, 2005

This Is Scary

The EPA is charging that DuPont hid the risks of Teflon. That one of the chemicals used to make Teflon might cause cancer, birth defects and other ailments. Teflon has been manufactured for years - since the 1950s - so the impact could be tremendous.

This Will Make Heckling At Home a Bit Harder

The Chicago Cubs announced that they would be removing players names from the backs of all home jerseys. The Cubs say it's to "revisit early baseball tradition," but I think we all know what the real reason is - the equipment guys are tired of trying to get names like Garciaparra and Grudzielanek to fit.

The Harper's Weekly Email

For a number of months now, I've been ignoring the Harper Weekly email newsletter that I receive. I've just been too busy to read it. In fact, I almost unsubscribed a few times. But I had 15 minutes between meetings this morning, so I read through it quickly. Found some interesting stuff.

In Hempstead, New York, two legal-reform activists were detained for telling old lawyer jokes outside a courthouse, including: "Why do they bury lawyers 100 feet into the ground? Because down deep, they're good people." An offended lawyer had the men arrested. - It's like watching them eat their own, isn't it?

The FBI announced that Virtual Case File, an incomplete, $170 million software application intended to help agents share information, was likely to be scrapped. - Remarkable. This ranks right up there with $100 toilet seats as proof of Federal government incompetence.

In India, men were calling tsunami relief help lines, offering to marry women who lost their husbands in the recent disaster. - You can't fault their "get up and go" attitude. Carpe Diem I say!

A four-legged, anus-less, double-penised baby was born in Nigeria - match this up with the tsunami and the rains in California and I think we have another sign of the apocalypse

The FCC Is Turning Broadcasters Into Buttheads

Fox Blurs Cartoon Rear End on FCC Worries

It's a butt. Everyone's got one - some more than others - and everyone's seen one. So what's the big deal with showing one on television? Plus, it was a cartoon butt. How could anyone be offended by a cartoon butt?

This is ridiculous.

January 17, 2005

At Least We're Not In Embarrass

People here in Chicago are crapping their pants because it's gonna be -5 tonight. Hey, it's 54 below zero in Embarrass, Minnesota.

Out of reverence to the people of Embarrass and the horrible cold they are suffering, I won't embarrass them with any bad jokes using the name of their town.

Rough Start to the New Year

We're barely halfway through January and everyone in the house is working through a second illness. It's rough. Right at the beginning of the New Year, the flu hit the house hard and worked its way through everyone. Some harder than others. The lasting results were slow start to the New Year and a stain on the carpet from vomited fruit snacks that I'm having a bitch removing.

Now a common cold is dragging us down. Sore throat, runny nose, the works. Ian started with it late last week, Zoe and Emma developed things over the weekend. Of course Emma had to make the cold her own and managed to find a way to work vomiting into the symptom list. Don't know how she did it, she just did.

Of course last night I start in with the headache and the runny nose. Today I'm all spacey on cold medicine and my throat is raw.

What have we done to deserve this? WHO DID WE ANGER?! Is there some kind of God of Family Illness that we have upset? Is there somebody I can pay or some sacrifice I can perform to remove this horrible curse? I've never had to clean up so much vomit in fifteen days in my life.

Luke, I Am Your Tater!

Darth Tater

In February a new Mr. Potato Head will hit the shelves: Darth Tater. I don't know if more Star Wars-themed dressable spuds are in the works, but just to have this one would be pretty fun.

You Go, Girrrrl!

A 100-pound female college student from Princeton, N.J. is the first person ever to meet a restaurant's challenge and down a 6 pound hamburger - and five pounds of extras - all within 3 hours. 19-year old Kate Stelnick ate a 6 pound burger, one large onion, two whole tomatoes, one half head of lettuce, 1 1/4 pounds of cheese, two buns, and a cup each of mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, relish, banana peppers and some pickles in 2 hours, 54 minutes.

She didn't eat for two days in preparation of the eating marathon.

January 16, 2005

I Guess There's Still Pittsburgh

In last week's issue, Sports Illustrated called this weekend the best weekend in pro football. The divisional playoff games. Eight elite NFL teams in four games across two days. Personally I don't think things lived up to the hype.

The Steelers / Jets match up on Saturday was easily the most exciting game, and it was the first one played. I've always been a bit of a Pittsburgh fan and I was pulling for Ben Roethlisberger, the rookie QB ho comes from Heather's hometown of Findlay, OH. The Jets played them hard and should have one the game - twice. I don't know how Doug Brien, the Jets kicker, is going to live with himself this off-season. Missing two field goals in a row - and either one could have given his team the victory.

The rest of the games were blowouts. Atlanta embarrassed the Rams, The Eagles didn't have any problem with the Vikings, and the Patriots completely shut down Peyton Manning and the Colts. The final game was the one the disappointed me the most. I was really pulling for Manning and the Colts. Over the last few years I've become a Peyton Manning fan - mostly because of how he's helped me in fantasy leagues. Never the less, I wanted to see him get the win over the Pats. It's not that I don't like the Patriots, I do. Bill Belichick runs a team that is all about team, and that is very impressive in today's personal glory first NFL. However, the Pats just aren't exciting - probably for the same reason. I can't really get behind the Pats. Just like I can't really get behind the Eagles. They're just a ho-hum team. Make the NFC Championship game every year and lose. Two big stars in Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens, and only one of them are likable. Atlanta? Please, don't bother. That team has never interested me.

So I guess I'm backing the Steelers the rest of the way through the playoffs. I was hoping Favre and the Pack would come alive or Seattle would prove that they deserved all the pre-season hype they received - but it wasn't to be. Oh well.

Congratulations to the King

Elvis Presley has scored his 1,000th number one single and his 20th number one in the United Kingdom. Eighteen tracks are being re-released in the UK to commemorate the King. Last week Elvis scored a number one with a re-release of "Jailhouse Rock," this week he grabbed another number one and the record for number one singles when "One Night" topped the charts.

Elvis is the King.

January 15, 2005

Today's Monty

It's funny. You should read it: 1/15/04 Monty

Look At What I Won on Ebay!

Look at what I just won at eBay! It's a sleeping bag from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Bacl. How cool is that!

Heather was just looking through the sleeping bag posts on eBay the other day to see if there was anything fun to get Ian or Emma when she stumbled upon this. I told her to bid on it for me. She thought I was joking. After a few minutes I finally convinced her I was serious.

My winning bid was $10.00

This is going to be so cool. Now all I have to do is get my mother to give up the Empire Strikes Back pillow case that I had as a kid that matches this sleeping bag. I know she still has it. She lets Ian use it when he sleeps over at her house.

January 14, 2005

Better Get The Tron Guy On Board Now

Variety is reporting that Disney plans a remake of the 1982 sci-fi movie Tron. They've gone so far as to hire two screenwriters, Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal, to update and rework the movie for a modern audience. They're gonna put the computer programmer, originally played by Jeff Bridges, in cyberspace this time, instead of a large computer.

I really don't care too much what they do, they just need to make sure Jay Maynard, the Tron Guy is involved in the movie. Hell, he's asking for as much in his blog.

I don't think anyone wants to see Tron Guy mad.

England Needs Midgets!

From the Mirror.co.uk

FILMING of the new Doctor Who series has been hit by a shortage of midget actors.

Bosses wanted them to play tiny blue aliens - but most have been snapped up for the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie and to play Gringotts Bank staff in the new Harry Potter film.

Dr Who executive producer Russell T Davies said: "It's very difficult to employ persons of restricted growth when, as our producer Phil Collinson says, `Bloody Gringotts and the Chocolate Factory are filming at the same time'."

Insiders on the BBC1 sci-fi drama admit it has proved a headache during shooting of the 13-part series, due to be wrapped up next month.

One said: "The two big movies have snapped up the talent. It's been hard to find who we want."

Peter Burroughs - whose Peterborough-based Willow Personal Management is one of just two UK agencies for dwarf actors - admitted he had been unable to supply Dr Who with a 3ft 8in star.

He said: "That was very difficult to find, especially with the other productions going on."

Flight, Volume 2

flight two coverLast summer there as an anthology comic entitled Flight put out by Image Comics. The contributors came from all over the industry: famous comic creators, animators, and creators still trying to establish themselves. They could tell any story they wanted, just as long as the theme of "flight" was worked into the story one way or another. Even though it garnered all sorts of great reviews and press, I completely missed it. Somehow it managed to fly under my radar. (pun intended)

However, since I've been reading Daisy Kutter: The Last Train by Kazu Kibuishi, I've become acquainted with the project and the second volume of the book that will be published the March. Kibuishi is the editor on the series, so comments about it and links to it are found all over the place on his website.

There is a great article about Flight, Volume Two over on CBR. Kibuishi is interviewed about the project, they list out many of the contributors for this volume of the work, and the article has some sneak previews of some of the stories. I recommend you take a look at "The Robot and The Sparrow" by Jake Parker. CBR only supplies three pages, but those three pages sell me completely on the story. Newsarama also has a good article about the book, but with different preview art. So both articles are perfect places to go to quickly learn about the project and get a feel for the types of stories that will be in the collection.

I've read both, and am now pretty jazzed about picking this collection up in March. I'm afraid that I might be too late to pre-order it through the guys at the comic shop, but I'll give it a try. Regardless, I plan to hunt this one down and maybe even the first one too.

Now That's A Career Day To Get Excited About

While speaking to a group of middle school children in Palo Alto, CA, career consultant William Fried told the audience that stripping can be a very lucrative career choice. He even commented that the bigger the chest size on the girl, the more money she can make.

Even though this is the third year in a row Fried has spoken at the school, it's the first time the topic of stripping as a career choice has come up in his sessions. The principle of the school says Mr. Fried will not be invited back next year.

However, students felt Fried was one of the best speakers they heard on Career Day. "He really focused (in his presentation) on finding what you really love to do," said Mariah Cannon, 13.

Which really should be all of our goals. Regardless of whether that's a lawyer, pro golfer, or exotic dance. Don't you think?

January 13, 2005

Heather: Here's An Anniversary Present Idea

star wars logoAspyr Media announced that they will be releasing a Mac version of Star Wars: Battlefront this June.

In case you didn't know, Star Wars: Battlefront lets you recreate any of the battles from the Star Wars movies. You can be a rebel soldier or a stormtrooper, fly an X-Wing fighter or a speeder bike. I'm not much of a computer gamer, but this looks wicked cool.

Get A Taste Of Some Great Comics

DC Comics announced today that this April they will be publishing Vertigo: First Taste, a trade paperback collecting the first issues of 6 Vertigo titles. The price for the 160-page book? $4.99. Which is more than a deal, it's a down-right steal. That comes out to $.03 a page. Usually you can expect to pay between $.09 and $.12 a page in trade collections.

The stories being collected are:

  • 100 BULLETS #1, written by Brian Azzarello with art by Eduardo Risso

  • THE BOOKS OF MAGIC: LIFE DURING WARTIME #1, plotted by Neil Gaiman & Si Spencer and written by Spencer with art by Dean Ormston

  • DEATH: THE HIGH COST OF LIVING #1, written by Gaiman with art by Chris Bachalo & Mark Buckingham

  • SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #21, written by Alan Moore with art by Steve Bissette & John Totleben

  • TRANSMETROPOLITAN #1, written by Warren Ellis with art by Darick Robertson & Jerome K. Moore

  • Y: THE LAST MAN #1, written by Brian K. Vaughan with art by Pia Guerra & José Marzan Jr.
  • If I hadn't already read most of these, I'd probably pick the book up. As it is, I might still - now that I think about it - this could make a nice gift for someone or as an intro to some of the things comics has to offer other than superheros.

    The Bottom Of The Barrel Has Been Hit Again

    This time it's by E! Television. They recently announced that they would be producing a daily television program re-enacting the Michael Jackson child molestation trial.

    "Viewers around the world are interested in this trial, and with no cameras in the court room, this series will be an excellent way to keep up with the day's events and bring the trial to life," said E! Networks CEO Ted Harbert.

    This is something I would have expected from FOX.

    So Again, Why Are We There?

    The Bush Administration acknowledged yesterday that they cannot find any "weapons of mass destructin" in Iraq, and therefore are calling off the two-year search for weapons.

    As we all know by now, those stockpiles of weapons was the top reason W cited for invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam. So if you couldn't find any weapons after searching the country for two years, then probably there never were any weapons. But W claimed there were, so either someone told him there were weapons and lied, or W just lied and said there were weapons. Either way W used that to rally America into invading a country with no clear plan of how to get out. Fucking wonderful.

    What is even more infuriating is this comment in the article by Press Secretary Scott McClellan, "Based on what we know today, the president would have taken the same action because this is about protecting the American people."

    Protect us? Protect us from what? Saddam was a loud-mouth braggart who obvisously had no weapons to hurt us with. How were we in any danger from Iraq? Plenty of investigations have shown that there is no connection to Iraq and any of the major terror networks. Iraq was a neutered pup before we invaded.

    So why did we invade the country then? Why are we still there? Will we ever get an answer based on facts? This is all so stupid.

    Watch The Venture Brothers

    The Venture Brothers is Johnny Quest on crack. Dr. Venture, his bodyguard Brock Samson (voiced by the incomparable Patrick Warburton), and Dr. Venture's two sons, Dean and Hank, who are the goofiest, strangest two boys you will ever see on television. The four of them run around having the most bizarre adventures.

    venture brothersAfter seeing a preview of the show on Cartoon Network way back in 2003, I knew I had to watch the show when it premiered. I've gotten to watch it a few times during its first season, and have always enjoyed its savage take on old adventure cartoons from the 60s and 70s. It's almost as good as Sealab 2021.

    According to creator Jackson Publick's blog, Cartoon Network hasn't decided whether to order another season of the show or not. In an attempt to see if The Venture Brothers has staying power, CN is "trying" the show out in an earlier, more popular, timeslot in the Adult Swim programming. CN is running The Venture Brothers Sundays at 10:30 pm. So you've got some chances to catch it without having to stay up late.

    January 12, 2005

    Odds & Ends

  • fruity pebbles bowlDo you know what the strongest bonding agent in the world is? Fruity Pebbles.

    I enjoyed eating Fruity Pebbles as a kid. My mom used to buy them for me all the time. Even today, when I pretty much shun all cold cereal, I still like a bowl of Fruity Pebbles. However, I didn't discover the unique bonding characteristics of this wholesome, sweetened rice cereal until my own children started to eat them.

    Dry and out of the box, Fruity Pebbles are fairly harmless. Just crunchy little flakes that fly everywhere when you drop a spoon into a dry bowl full of them. However, add a little milk (or water) and these seemingly harmless little rice flakes turn into a compound that approaches military grade in its ability to adhere to surfaces. I have scrubbed and scrapped for hours to remove caked on Fruity Pebbles from tables, chairs, floors, and sinks. It's quite remarkable what these little guys can do.

    When Ian accidentally broke one of our Christmas ornaments last month, I was tempted to get out the box of Fruity Pebbles, apply a little water, and see what restoration I could manage. In the end I opted for plain old epoxy cement. Though I still believe a red Fruity Pebble would have held as well, and would have supplied a little festive coloring to the ornament.

  • I always pick out books for the kids at Christmas. It something that my dad still does for me and my brother and sister, and it's a tradition that I would like to keep alive. Plus, I just love books and it's another excuse for me to spend time in Borders.

    The year I got Emma a book called Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?. It's a cute little story in which a young girl keeps asking her mom if princesses play in the dirt, follow rules, eat vegetables, wear hiking boots, snore - stuff like that. The lesson of the book is that a princess is a place in your heart, not something that you do. Real sweet. Emma (and Heather) really likes it.

    What's funny is that Emma has a pair of hiking boots. After reading the book a few times she's taken to referring to them as her "Princess Boots" and wants to wear them all the time. Even though they are now about a half-size too small. It's really cute and makes me want to go out to buy her another pair that fits so that she can continue to clomp around in her "Princess Boots."

  • Ian has gone from 0 to 60 in the GameBoy department. He got a GameBoy for his birthday this past summer. Since then he has played with it often, but he was known to go days, maybe even weeks, without picking it up. However, since he received two new games at Christmas - including a Power Ranger-themed game - his playing time has gone up dramatically. Almost so much that I'm starting to be a little concerned with how much he is playing. I'm not super concerned yet, because I remember him being pretty hard core after he got the game back in July, and then things normalized. So maybe that will happen here again. Or at least that's what I hope. Luckily now he's in full-day school, so he doesn't have access to it from 7am to 3:30pm. Heather and I will have to keep an eye on his usage.

  • This is really cool and I wanted to mention it earlier this week when I became aware of it. The Library of Congress has made a whole bunch of maps from the Civil War available online. All sorts of stuff showing troop movement and positioning. Some of the maps even have handwritten notes from the generals in battle. I'm not sure what to do with it or even where to start looking, but for someone interested in the Civil War having access to this stuff is kinda exciting.

  • Chrysler is on this tear where they want to revamp or introduce new a whole bunch of vehicles. The most recent one to be announced was a revamp of the Dodge Charger.

    dodge charger

    Now the new design doesn't do anything for me. It's looks pretty bland, in my opinion. But looking at this photo of the new Charger got me to thinking. In the old Duke of Hazzard show, the General Lee was an old 1969 (?) Charger. Now I know that there is a Dukes of Hazzard movie in the works starring Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, Jessica Simpson, and Burt Reynolds. So thoughts went to, "Will the producers of this flick opt for the classic Charger design, or will they use the new Charger look, possibly in conjunction with some deal with Chrysler?" It would be a shame if they did, because the new Charger doesn't look half as sleek and powerful as the original.

    Actually, who really gives a rat's ass? The "Dukes of Hazzard" with Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, Jessica Simpson? The movie's gonna suck donkey balls. I don't care what frickin' version of the car they use.

    Jeeze. Somebody stop me next time before I waste space writing about Johnny Knoxville and Jessica Simpson.

  • Only in Chicago. Last week four to eight inches of snow was dumped on the area (we got four out by us). Then it warmed up a bit before getting typical January cold. Last night we had thunder and lightening and today it's in the lower 50s. Tomorrow it's supposed to be around 8 degrees during the day.

    If you hear a large noise coming from the Chicagoland area next week, that would be the sound of a couple million people all blowing their nose. You just know everyone is going to get sick with temperature flipping and flopping about like that.

  • Saw this in Sports Illustrated: the Tampa Bay Storm won the Arena Bowl in 2003. After the season was over, a number of players signed with other teams. When championship rings were handed out, the guys who jumped teams got rings with cubic zirconia - not diamonds - in the settings. The players who got the tin rings have filed a grievance through the players' union. I just thought this was funny.

  • In last week's Newsweek they ran a short piece about how the uber-talented Uma Thurman is replacing Nicole Kidman in The Producers, the movie adaptation of the Broadway musical starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, which was based on the movie starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. Goofy, I know.

    Anyway, the photo they ran of Ms. Thurman was similar to one I had run in this blog back in April 2004. Seeing it in Newsweek made me think it was time to run the photo of Ms. Thurman again.

    uma thurman at movie premiere

    Just like I said back then, If Uma is six feet tall, then she's five feet six inches of leg. Va-va-voom!
  • Looks Good Steve, But Not For Me

    Macworld Expo 2005 is going on this week in San Francisco and yesterday Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave the keynote address. As is usual, Jobs used his time on stage to unveil a bunch of new innovations coming from Apple Computers. Jobs talked about a number of new software developments, including a promise that Tiger, the next version of OS X is still on track to be released in 2005. But 2005 was as specific as he would get about that.

    The big hardware news was the announcement of two new products from Apple. The Mac mini and the iPod Shuffle.

    mac miniThe Mac mini is simply a Mac G4 computer in a box - no monitor, no keyboard, no mouse. As Jobs put it in his keynote, it's "BYODKM," or Bring Your Own Display, Keyboard and Mouse. Starting at only $499 and with a 1.25 GHz G4, tons of memory, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth ready, it's a great low-priced CPU.

    The box was designed to accommodate any peripherals as long as they are built on the industry-standards supporting USB and DVI. Though Apple also includes an adapter to make VGA connections. So you should be apple to essentially connect anything you've got at home to this new box.

    It's clear who one of the major target audiences is for this computer. Though wintel machine owners who have gotten sucked into the world of Apple by way of the iPod. They've been using their iPod for a couple years. Realize that owning Apple isn't such a bad thing, and want to make the switch over to an Apple computer. However, they've already got all this hardware sitting around from their wintel machine. With the Mac mini, they could simply disconnect their wintel CPU, then plus their monitor, keyboard and mouse into the Mac mini and be on their way. A simple switch of computers for only about $500 bucks. Not bad.

    ipod shuffleThe new iPod Shuffle is also intended to be a low-priced entry in the world of Apple products, though I think the target audience is a bit different from the Mac mini.

    The iPod Shuffle isn't much larger than a pack of gum and has fewer features than its larger iPod cousins. While priced at much lower $99, it stores music in a flash memory stick, which limits the amount of songs to about 240. A lot fewer than the thousands of songs a regular iPod can hold. In the iPod Shuffle you are also limited in how the music will play. Essentially you have three options: off, in order, and shuffle.

    It's a simplified, scaled down iPod for those who simply can't afford the full-scale models or for people who want something very tiny and portable for listening to their music.

    While I think both products are very cool, and I'm sure the iPod Shuffle will sell like hot cakes, neither of them is really for me. We already own an iMac that I love. Especially now that it's all pimped out with 10.3 Jaguar. It's amazing how big of a difference that operating system upgrade did for our computer. It really runs smoother and faster. I can only imagine how quicker things might be if we could pump up the memory a bit. When in the future we want to upgrade our systems, I'd be going full Mac again. So it's possible that the Mac mini could come into play then, but it might work out better from a cost perspective to just buy a complete system from Apple. Our current iMac is contained system (the classic half-ball base with the flat screen on a swivel arm), so I'd be ponying up for a monitor anyway and our current keyboard is getting pretty beat up, and I'd probably want to keep the iMac system all intact for the kids to use, blah, blah, blah. I', rambling and I think you get the picture.

    As for the iPod Shuffle. I simply want the original. I want to be able to carry around 5,000 or 10,000 songs and have full control to play certain playlists, shuffle, or whatever. No baby iPod for me.

    So, it all looks good Steve. Nice job. But I don't think I'll don't think they're for me.

    January 11, 2005

    Holy Crap, That's Chocolatey

    Gave the new Starbuck's Chantico a try this afternoon.

    Holy crap is this thing chocolatey! It's like drinking liquid fudge. Not sure if I'll actually finish the whole thing even though it's only a six ounce drink. It's getting to be a little too much for me.

    I Like Paper, Thank You

    Newsarama has a very extensive report on the growing popularity of downloading comics across the Internet. Just like Napster in its day, BitTorrent is a service making a name for itself as a place where fans and curious readers can go and download illegally scanned versions of comic books. I've spent some time using BitTorrent and the selection of comics is extraordinary. Single issues, full runs, even out of print stuff is available for downloading and viewing at very high resolutions.

    Unlike the sharing of music, which exploded in popularity in the late 90's, comics are just now starting to hit their stride in popularity for sharing across the 'net. So much so that it really shouldn't be too long before the big publishers (DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, etc.) start trying to do something about it.

    Even though I've played around with BitTorrent and download a comic or two, I found that having a scanned version of comic really wasn't my cup of tea. Call me a traditionalist, but I prefer to have the printed comic in all its paper-based glory. The 'net is essential to my daily existence. I use it to communicate, educate, entertain, schedule, and organize my life. I enjoy downloading music, prose books, and movies over the Internet. But when it comes to my beloved comics, I just can't get into the scanned copies. I need to hold it in my hands. I like to be able to walk around where ever I want and sit down to read it. Kinda the same way some people still feel about newspapers - they like the feel of the paper between their fingers. The crack the paper makes when you snap open the newspaper sections. The weight of the paper as it sits on their lap or piled on the table. I get all my news from the 'net, but I want my comics in hand and on paper.

    The Comic Book Creators Party

    Mike Netzer has an interesting idea:

    "Neither the Republican nor the Democrat representatives are able to stand for such truth and justice because they can no longer represent the true ideals of their respective parties, which have long been buried under the manipulations and pressures of the money wielders who pull their strings. Sadly, such is the case for the political infrastructure today, not only in America but across the entire globe. The corrupt spirit of love for the money and the power it wields is what’s leading the world into the strife we’re all in. Civilization has become a many headed beast, eating itself from the feet up by it’s greed driven power lust economic heads, who manipulate the cowardly and superstitious lot of political heads into doing their bidding - all at the expense of the rest of humanity which is slowly falling into their slavery"

    Mike sets up the problem, then delivers the solution.

    "This is why America needs a new and courageous leadership uncorrupted by the powerlust greed of its socioeconomic political system.


    "It’s a big leap, I know. But at times like this in history, such a big leap is needed in order to turn the tides of destruction which civilization tends to unwantonly stray into. What could be more right today than for the prolific, informed and opinionated comic book creators to come together to form a guild and a union which calls for a revival of truth, justice and the American way?"

    Fantastic. I'd love to be in the political party of Frank Miller, Jim Lee, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis, and Chuck Dixon. But as Mr. Netzer points out at the end of his dissertation, "Comic book creators are a humble and humane lot. They will rise to the occasion only when they hear the voice of the people call on them for leadership." Therefore it is up to us, the comic book reading public, to rise up and let our voices be heard.

    Sign me up.

    Bush Tells DC To Payup For His Party

    W wants the Distric of Columbia to foot the bill for his inaugural celebration expenses and told DC they should dig into their homeland security grants to do so.

    The city's responsibility is $17.3 million - most of it security. The big parties and fireworks get paid for by private funding. However, the grant money the city has received for homeland secruity is already set aside for a number of security improvements in one of the nation's cities deemed a high risk location for terrorist attacks.

    It only cost DC $8 million the first time W had a inauguration celebration. Maybe they should scale the parties and parades back and save everyone a little money.

    January 10, 2005

    Batman Begins On The Super Bowl

    batman logoIf there rumors are to be believed, this is what the Batman Begins preview will look like when it airs during the Super Bowl on February 6th.

    Cool stuff.

    They Come In Pairs

    Zoe is officially up to 4 teeth now.

    On November 6, 2004 (my birthday, I might add) she cut her first tooth. A bottom tooth, as is traditionally the case. Her second tooth (also a bottom tooth) came so quickly after the first that they practically came in together.

    Zoe's third and fourth teeth are front top teeth, and from what I can tell are coming in simultaneously. They are neck and neck for the lead. I find it fascinating. None of the other kids had teeth come in like this. I don't remember much about Ian's teeth cutting, other than they came in pretty regularly. Emma had bursts when a bunch of teeth would cut through, but they never came in simultaneously like Zoe. It's kinda neat.

    I'd post some pictures of Zoe if I had some. She's really cute. Even more so with the few toothers she's got now. Fact of the matter is that as Zoe's gotten older our picture taking output has dropped off tremendously. Not because we don't want to take pictures - we love taking photos of our kids - it's that with a 5-year old, 2-year old, and 10-month old who is a speedy crawler we don't have any hands free to snap photos. Maybe we can reverse that trend here and I can get some new pictures of Zoe and everyone else up on the site soon.

    They Won't Get It Because They Don't Get It

    Readers in Mississippi will have a more difficult time checking out America (The Book) because in two different counties library officials have banned the satirical book because of one page which depicts the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices in the nude and asks the reader to "restore their dignity by matching each justice with his or her respective robe."

    "I've been a librarian for 40 years and this is the only book I've objected to so strongly that I wouldn't allow it to circulate. If they had published the book without that one picture, that one page, we'd have the book," said Robert Willits, director of the Jackson-George Regional Library System of eight libraries in Jackson and George counties and publicly professed fuddy-duddy.

    At least former English teacher Tara Skelton gets it, even if she can't get it a library in Mississippi, "It just really seemed kind of silly to me. I don't think the Supreme Court justices have filed any defamation of character or libel suits. It's humor."

    Shut The Hell Up

    Why do some people think we enjoy or want to hear them singing while we drudge through the work day? I've got this woman who sits near enough to me at work that I have to suffer through her little interpretations of songs I've never heard of. It's just plain annoying. I don't want to listen to you sing. She doesn't do it very often, but when she does - god does it piss me off.

    What a fuckin' day.

    January 09, 2005

    Warning: Big Long Comic Book Entry

    Buying comics is like having Tivo. I can buy the comics whenever they come out (weekly or monthly), but then get to read them whenever I have the time. Plus, they are much more portable than trying to watch a Tivo'd event - I'm not tied to any television. I can read the comic while on the train, or sitting in the living room, or parts of it every time I walk through our bedroom. This flexibility in entertainment is one of the reasons I live comics so much.

    Of course that means when I get to writing about regularly published comics that I read, I'm usually weeks - maybe months - behind their actual publication date. Not matter, I'm no longer interested in trying to run a review website.

    Batman #635 is the beginning of Judd Winick's and Doug Mahnke's extended run on the title. No more special limited run stories by special creators, Winick is on the title for the foreseeable future and so is Mahnke. Winick has said that he wants to stay on Batman until they ask him to leave. Which is fine by me. I'd like to have a regular writer/artist team on the book creating more Batman mega-fiction.

    Winick's inaugural story starts off by showing us where we're going to end up in a few issues and building up some tension with Batman fighting a mysterious, and powerful, new foe. Then right before the big reveal he pulls the story back to the beginning - denying us the answer to the big question he just built up. It certainly grabs my attention.

    The rest of the book grabs my attention as well. Once Winick is able to get through recapping the status quo for Batman after the events of the multi-issue "War Games" story, he sets some very intriguing plots. I'm already pleased with the direction of this book.

    It never ceases to amaze me how dense writer Grant Morrison can make a superhero book. The ideas and concepts that flow from that man's head are amazing. I always felt his long run on JLA was hurt by the poor art of Howard Porter. His art just couldn't keep up with Morrison's mind-blowing ideas. Ed McGuinness is another story. He and Morrison are putting out a story in JLA: Classified that has the artist chops to keep up with Morrison's mental gymnastics. Their three-issue story will probably be the only issues from this series I buy, but I am enjoying the hell of a lot.

    Michael Lark is leaving Gotham Central and that disappoints me. Gotham Central is co-written by Greg Rucka and Ed Brubacker and focuses on the regular cops of Gotham Central and how they try to do their job while a guy dressed like a bat runs around the city. It's like NYPD Blue, but a comic and Mr. Freeze shows up once and a while.

    Any way, Lark has been with the title since it launched back in 2003. His artwork defined he series and is so strongly associated with the series that there was a time that Rucka and Brubaker said that if Lark left they would end the series. Well, Lark is leaving but Rucka and Brubaker have changed their minds. They are enjoying writing the book too much and DC Comics likes having a non-superhero book selling well.

    The first replacement artist they have up is Jason Alexander. I've encountered his work over in Queen & Country and liked it. However, in GC #26 I found his art horribly scratchy and blotchy. Maybe it was the coloring. Q&C is printed in black and white, while Gotham Central gets the full color treatment. Anyhow, I'd don't know how long Alexander is going to be around for, but I don't think he's been tapped to be the new regular artist. At least lets hope not.

    I love how Azzarello is building everything up over in Superman. He's now got Superman over in the Vanishing and you can feel the train rumbling towards a huge climax for this story. I am totally digging this.

    Finally, Daisy Kutter: The Last Train wrapped up in issue #4. Wow, what a neat, fun, and fresh story. I understand that Viper Comics will be putting out a book collecting all four issues into one paperback, and I highly recommend that you pick it up. I know I would have waited if I knew I was going to enjoy this story so much.

    There isn't anything particularly new or groundbreaking with the story. In fact you've probably seen it done before. (Retired bad guy who is trying to go straight gets pulled into one more heist with the promise of being set for the rest of their life.) However, creator Kazu Kibuishi has done such a wonderful job of creating enjoyable and likable characters, you don't mind that you've seen this type of story before. Kibuishi just flat out executes in his storytelling. The book is perfectly plotted to build interest and suspense, the characters are fully formed, and the art is gorgeous. Kibuishi knows just how to tell a story visually. He knows when to focus in tight and when to pull out, and his visually timing is impeccable. Great, great story.

    Of course, I recently got through another trade paperback (i.e. the DVD collection of a show's entire season). This one is the fourth collection of Fables entitled March of the Wooden Soldiers. It recounts an attempt by the Adversary to invade the land of the mundanes and take over Fabletown, at the same time that Prince Charming has his eye on King Cole's position of Mayor of Fabletown.

    Every book in this series has been extraordinary and a joy to read. In fact, I do believe I've enjoyed each subsequent book more than the previous one. Writer Bill Willingham is certainly hitting his stride and is in complete command of the characters and world he has created in Fables. I am so glad that he is sharing all of this with us.

    January 08, 2005

    Happy Birthday to the King


    Elvis Aaron Presley was born to Vernon and Gladys Presley in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8, 1935.

    Turner Classic Movies is running a few Elvis movies:

    1:00 pm
    Jailhouse Rock

    3:00 pm
    Kid Galahad

    5:00 pm
    Viva Las Vegas (one of my personal favorites. Ann-Margret - WOW)

    AMC is also showing a bunch of Elvis flicks, but you'll have to suffer through commercials:

    11:00 AM

    1:00 PM
    Fun in Acapulco

    3:00 PM
    Easy Come, Easy Go

    5:00 PM
    Paradise, Hawaiian Style

    7:00 PM
    Girls! Girls! Girls! (another personal favorite. good campy fun)

    9:00 PM
    G.I. Blues

    11:00 PM
    Fun in Acapulco

    Sunday, January 09:
    1:00 AM
    Easy Come, Easy Go

    3:00 AM
    King Creole

    Celebrate anyway you can/

    January 07, 2005

    The Darkside of the XRT's Request for Relief Drive: Part Deux

    Now they're playing "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" by John Denver.

    Never. Never, did I think I would hear John Denver on WXRT. Never.

    I guess it's all for a good cause.

    The Darkside of the XRT's Request for Relief Drive

    When XRT says they will take any listener's request as long as the make a donation, they mean it.

    I'm suffering through Shania Twain's "You're Still the One" right now.

    Dangers of the Urban Jungle in Winter

    From the Chicago Tribune

    On Thursday, falling ice injured two men, including a Chicago police officer, in the Loop. A number of Chicago's high rises blocked off parts of sidewalks to protect pedestrians.

    The police officer, hit by ice at 1 S. Clark St., was treated but not admitted to the hospital, said Sgt. Robert Cargie. Earlier, a 43-year-old man was struck in the stomach by a 12-inch-wide, 6-inch-deep piece of ice at 200 W. Madison St. He was listed in good condition in Northwestern Memorial Hospital, said police spokeswoman Robin Mohr.

    There are "Caution: Falling Ice" signs out everywhere downtown, but I never give them much thought. I guess the threat is real.

    Ratings Are For Chumps

    An article in today's New York Times The New York Times > Arts >looks at the movie, television, and game rating system and wonders if they really provide any guidance to parents.

    Essentially the article finds that it doesn't. The ratings are really just a starting place. Ultimately the responsibility falls upon the parents and their knowing what their children can handle and what they want their children to see/hear/learn. As it should be in my opinion. I really put little faith in ratings - and give them little attention when I learn what the film or tv show is about. Heather and I make it a point to learn about the shows Ian or Emma wants to watch and reviewing the books or comics they want to look at. Ultimately it is the only way to handle things, in my opinion. I don't trust another organization or, heaven forbid, the government, to know or understand what is appropriate for my children. I'll do that, thank you.

    Read Comic Books, Expand Your Horizon

    Jabari Asim, a writer for the Washington Post, makes a claim that "comic books provide valuable insight into the human condition" and backs it up by tapping into Susan Sontag's own efforts to demonstrate that there is no high culture and low culture.

    Unfortunately he picks a comic currently most notable for having a horribly graphic rape scene involving a long-time fan-favorite superhero comic supporting character that is also killed in the comic and has created quite a bit of reader backlash at DC Comics, who published the work. While I think his argument is strong, I would have gone with something other than Identity Crisis to test his new connection skills.

    I'm A Lumberjack, and I'm Okay!

    XRT is keeping it's promise to play anything today as long as you make a donation to the Red Cross. They're playing Monty Python's "The Lumberjack Song."

    XRT's Request for Relief Drive

    From 9am to 5pm WXRT is going completely commercial-free. During that time they will be playing all listener requests - anything they want - it just has to be less than 5 1/2 minutes long. However the only way to get your request played is to make a $100 donation to the American Red Cross' International Response Fund.

    It's an admirable effort and I'm sure they'll raise a lot of money for the Red Cross. However, this fund drive, plus what I read over at Petezilla's blog, ill-noise, made me start thinking about something.

    American's are essentially event oriented. The Super Bowl, the Oscars - hell, even Christmas is made into an event in America. We love the big event. The same holds true when it comes to most of our humanitarian efforts. Now before you jump all over me. I'm speaking very broadly here. I know many people donate their time and money regularly in humanitarian efforts all over this country. But collectively, as a nation and a government, we really only get up and show support when there is some sort of "event" that needs attention. Three hurricanes in two months hitting Florida, the September 11, 2001 attacks, the recent tsunami in Asia. But what do most people do on a consistent basis to help with the ongoing humanitarian problems: homelessness, hunger, and child slavery/prostitution?

    Don't mistake what I'm saying. The tsunami is a disaster on Biblical proportions and they need all the help they can get. My point simply being that if something like child slavery got a fraction of the coverage and donation support of the tsunami, I'm sure organizations like UNICEF could make huge gains at wiping out this disgusting cancer of humanity.

    And I'll be the first to admit that I fall into the "event support" mind-set as well. There is more I could, and should do. Hopefully I can start changing that in 2005. A resolution if you will, to be more socially conscience and find ways I can support and help the every day events.

    January 06, 2005

    What Can I Say? I Like Jim Lee

    Jim Lee Batman and Robin pencil work

    Jim Lee posted the above pencil work to introduce a link to his recent interview with Newsarama about the upcoming All-Star Batman and Robin.

    Lee doesn't indicate what the pencil work is for, but I just plain like it, so here I'll post it. I love that rough pencil work.

    Lee also provides some great peaks at the different versions of the cover design he did for Batman #619 - the final issue of the Hush storyline. I really like the first draft of the cover. Too bad that it had to be dropped for a different one.

    Gimme A Break

    Cleveland guys watches an episode of Fear Factor where contestants ate dead rats and is now sueing for $2.5 million because it made him physically ill.

    The claim was filed in a handwritten lawsuit that included such great passages as, "NBC is sending the wrong message to its TV watchers that cash can make or have people do just about anything beyond reasoning and in most cases against their will."

    The man's grasp of the English language is dazzling; as is his legal acumen for reasoning that NBC owes him $2.5 million because he couldn't figure out how to turn his TV off. Please.

    However, I can't tease the guy about knowing how the entertainment news business is played. When asked by Reuters for an interview, he responded, "I am not at liberty to discuss the complaint unless it is a paid-interview situation."

    Starbucks Might Get Me To Buy Something From Them

    This Saturday they'll start selling their Chantico drink - a mix of cocoa butter, cocoa powder, sugar and steamed whole milk, whipped to a frenzy, then served hot.

    Oh my goodness does that sound good. I've never been a coffee drinker. I just can't stand the taste. Doesn't matter how much cream, sugar, or other flavor you dump in. Hell, I even hate mocha flavored ice cream.

    But hot chocolate - or in this case, essentially a melted chocolate bar - that's another story.


    Abolish the FCC

    That's what Wired columnist Adam Penenberg is proposing in "An Obscene Waste of Energy" and I think is a splendid idea.

    Not that he's the first to suggest it. As he points out in his article, Lynn Woolley pushed the idea in April 2004, digital libertarian Declan McCullagh called for its dismantling, and Ayn Rand Institute writer Robert Garmong said we'd all be better without the FCC trying to police the airwaves.

    Which is exactly what the FCC has done with great vigor since Nipplegate at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show. The FCC has handed out more fines in 2004 than they have in the last 10 years. They have created such a climate of fear among broadcasters that dozens of TV stations refused to air Saving Private Ryan on Veterans Day because they feared being fined for indecent language - even though the film aired on television without comment from the FCC in 2001 and 2002.

    The FCC was set up to, and is suppose to concern itself with, regulating and protecting the broadcast industry. But what have the done this past year? Gotten into what can certainly be defined as censorship of content broadcast over television and radio and have made regulatory moves to allow more broadcast outlets to be controlled by fewer companies (essentially another form of censorship).

    The FCC should get out of policing the airwaves. People will gravitate to what is good, and flee from what is bad. Look at the indifferent response to the horrid "Who's Your Daddy" on Fox. Instead the FCC should concern itself with protecting the airwaves so that more than one or two voices are allowed to be heard over them.

    If FCC chairman Michael Powell can't figure that out (and sadly, I don't think he ca), then the FCC really should be abolished.

    I Like This Idea

    Johns Hopkins University professor Dick Henry is proposing that we change the calendar that we work with. The current calendar was instituted back in 1582 by Pope Gregory to bring the months in line with the seasons, but because of how long it actually take for the Earth to orbit the Sun, an extra day has to be added every four years to keep everything on track.

    Henry has designed a new calendar that breaks down into 364 days and an even 52 weeks. Every month has either 30 or 31 days and Christmas is always on a Sunday. More importantly, dates would remain the same every year. i.e. February 1st would always be a Tuesday. This would make planning and schedule keeping much easier, according to Henry.

    Just like the Gregorian calendar though, there has to be an adjustment every so often. Every five or six years an extra week is added - which is not part of any month. Henry thinks that everyone could get that week off as a paid vacation and "spend the time doing physics, or other activities of their choice."

    While I applaud Professor Henry's effort and I would support a change in the calendar like he proposes, I don't see the planet adopting his new Common-Civil-Calendar-and-Time. And not because people don't want to be stuck with having their birthday on a Tuesday for the rest of their life. I just can't see how you can get the planet to accept a new calendar in this day and age. There are just too many people and too many different viewpoints. It was easy for Pope Gregory. The world, metaphorically, was smaller then and Europe's influence was greater. Now you'd have to fight through all sorts of governments and religions to try and get acceptance. Hell, look at how difficult it was to get the nations of Europe to accept the Euro, and even then the acceptance isn't complete and most of the individual nations still use their own currencies. If you can't get a small group of European nations to accept a new common currency, what do you think you chances of getting the world to agree to a new common calendar?

    It's a great idea though.