April 30, 2005

Congratulations Elizabeth and Patrick

I know it will be a wonderful wedding and a long and happy marriage.

elizabeth and patrick

April 28, 2005

Possible Father's Day Gift for Me

Guy on eBay is selling an unused McDonald's bag featuring a promotional artwork for Batman Returns.

batman returns bag

Nick Anderson

Nick AndersonNick Anderson won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning. As he says on his website, he "strives to defend the sensible center from the extremes of ideological dogma."

His stuff is fasinating, biting, and very funny. I encourage you to visit his site. Just keep hitting the "reload" button a new comic will display. I spent 15 minutes just viewing editorial cartoon after editorial cartoon.

Batman and NASCAR?

They've put the Looney Tunes on NASCAR vehicles, they've put Batman and members of the Justice League on cars as well. But now Batman isn't just in the race, he is the race. On June 19th, the Sunday after Batman Begins opens in theaters, NASCAR will be running the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup "Batman Begins 400."

It the first time a movie is the sponsor of a NASCAR race - or probably of any race for that matter. The Batmobile from the movie will be there to take the cars out of pit row, plus there will be plenty of other promotional tie-ins.

Besides the on-track action that fans will be able to enjoy during the weekend, the newly redesigned AAA Motorsports Fan Plaza behind the main grandstand at Michigan International Speedway will incorporate the Batman Begins Fan Zone, which will feature the Batmobile from the film, Mark Martin's Batman Begins themed car, the Ricky Craven truck, and the fantasy and event cars that are part of the weekend's Batman action. The Batman Begins Fan Zone will also include other activities and exclusive merchandise based on the film and the Batman Begins 400.
And Mark Martin will be driving a car with a very special paint job for the race:

batman begins car


Holy marketing overload Batman! This is cheesy and stupid.

April 27, 2005

What I Learned Today

Thanks to Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing, I learned that it might be possible for someone other than me to cancel my credit cards.
Today, someone phoned Citibank's toll-free number (800-274-6660) and claimed to have found my credit-card, which meant that it was immediately and irrevocably cancelled. Citibank didn't phone me to find out whether the card was in my possession, nor did they require the security code printed on the signature strip -- all they needed was the number. Add this to the list of things you can do with someone's credit-card number: cancel it.
I only carry and use two credit cards: a Discover card that Heather and I share and my AMEX card. I don't know about Discover, but I know that AMEX has always had wonderful customer service. I would be shocked if they did something like what happened to Cory with his Citibank card. Hell, AMEX called me when someone got a hold of my card number and was running up charges online.

Fables: The Mean Seasons

Fables the Mean Seasons coverFinished reading the fifth, and latest, Fables collection yesterday. Fables: The Mean Seasons serves as an epilogue of sorts to the "March of the Wooden Soldiers" storyline and a turning point for the series. I know I probably start to sound like a broken record, but writer Bill Willingham's Fables series is an exceptional comic book series worthy of everyone's attention.

The Mean Seasons starts out with a few fill-in issues. The first one is mediocre; a mildly entertaining story establishing Cinderella as a deep-cover spy for Bigby Wolf (aka the Big Bad Wolf of old). The art by Tony Akins is acceptable, but nowhere near the level of regular artist Mark Buckingham. The second story is a two-parter starring Bigby Wolf set back during World War II. Bigby joins a small of company of American soldiers to help them destroy a German castle. Turns out the Nazi's are trying to re-animate the Frankenstein Monster. The story ends up being a Frankenstein Monster vs. the Wolf-Man brawl, with Bigby winning in the end. Again Akins provides the art, however it seems a little more polished here. What I didn't like about this story was it felt too much like a standard old Weird War Tales yarn from back in the day. Not the tales Willingham has been spinning about the exiled characters of the old fables and legends.

Luckily things return to the realm of Fabletown and its inhabitants once these two stories are over. The meat of volume five is "The Mean Seasons" storyline. The story, with gorgeous and wonderfully detailed art from Mark Buckingham, provides closure on some linger plot points and serves as a transition into some new stories.

Snow White gives birth to six children. But because they can't pass as human - considering that their father is Bigby Wolf - Snow White packs things up and moves up to The Farm, where all Fables who can't live in the Mundane world (i.e. our world) reside. Prince Charming wins the election and becomes the new Mayor of Fabletown, unseating King Cole who has held the position for hundreds of years. Charming swoops in and makes big changes, which very quickly start to backfire on him. Bigby, unable to go with Snow up to The Farm where he is banned from visiting and no longer in the role of Sheriff of Fabletown (Charming gave that job to Beast of Beauty and the Beast fame when he came into office), leaves Fabletown to live in seclusion in the wilderness.

Even with all that going on, Willingham still finds a way to work in some mysterious murders, the arrival of the North Wind, Bigby's father, who has decided he wants to be a part of his grandchildren's lives, and gives Snow an ominous vision that darker times are still to come. And where have Boy Blue, Jack, and Fly Catcher gone? All these are questions Willingham will be revealing in future stories.

Fables is a brilliant and entertaining comic book series. Willingham has mined the best out of the characters from the old fairy tales, legends, and fables and spun them into a funny, intense, dramatic and consistently entertaining work of literature. Fables wouldn't feel complete, though, without the wonderful artwork of Mark Buckingham. His strong line work, his fascinating character designs, the beautiful border decorations his adorns many pages with, and even the expressions he's able to give the characters' faces make Fables what it is.

The more I read of this fantastic series the more I become convinced that Fables is a perfect example of a modern comic book that I would want to share with someone unfamiliar with the art form. Well written, entertaining stories with beautiful artwork and not a superhero in sight. If you ask me, I will lend you a copy of this exception series. Fables is joy to read. I am so glad I discovered this treasure of a series two years ago.

April 26, 2005

Give Me a Home, Where the Buffalo Roam

Who knew that the home the buffalo would be roaming around would be in Pikesville, Md., an upscale neighborhood on the northwest side of Baltimore?

buffalo in a tennis court
(AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

April 25, 2005

I Might Just Watch Some of Smallville

batman logoFrom ICv2.com: "The 90-minute season finale of Smallville will also feature an 8-minute preview of Batman Begins. The program will air at 8 p.m. ET, May 18th, on the WB. The movie opens June 17th. This is an unusually long preview to be released so far in advance of the movie; it indicates a high degree of confidence that the footage will stimulate ticket sales."

I wish I knew when they were showing Batman Begins preview. It's not that I don't like Smallville, I just haven't ever really watched it and don't want to sit through a full 90 minutes of a show just to see 8 minutes of something. I probably wait and look for the preview to show up on the web on May 19th.

Another Reason Coca-Cola Is Better

Using just a can of Coke and a bar of chocolate, you can start a fire.

can of coke being used to start a fire

The Power of the Internet Exploited

When you have access to the Internet, you have a near limitless amount of data, information, facts, and opinions at your fingertips. And every day that bucket of wisdom just keeps getting deeper and deeper. Plus, not only does the Internet allow information to be pushed out for others to consume, but also serves as almost the perfect medium for uniting and connecting people from around the planet to share ideas and argue opinions. It is quite astounding.

So I didn't find it at all surprising that someone had finally brought one of the classic arguments to the Internet for discussion.

Another Elvis Trooper Sighting

We saw this perfect blending of pop culture icons back in February. Now Elivs Tropper has been spotted again at this past weekend's Star Wars Celebration III convention.

elvis trooper

April 23, 2005

Here's Your New Superman, Part II

Earlier this week I shared a photo of young Brandon Routh as Clark Kent on the set of Superman Lives. It was an un-official photo taken by someone who sneaked on the set.

Today an official photo of Brandon in his Superman togs was released to the press.

superman


The design of the suit for the movie was clearly inspired by the extraordinary Max Fleischer cartoon shorts: darker colors, a small S-shield, and the "V" front boots.

superman fleischer


Despite drawing from some great inspiration, I still think the costume looks a little odd. I think it's the high collar. Most Superman costumes have left more of the neck exposed. Two, Routh's legs are short - or at least the combination of those boots and the low riding red briefs make his legs look short. The overall effect is a guy that looks out of proportion and bottom heavy.

This Just Sounds Stupid

A British researcher is claiming that that girls who grew up enjoying fairy tales end up vicitims of violent relationships.

Gimme a break.

Can't Say I'm Thrilled With the Bears' Pick

The Chicago Bears picked senior running back Cedric Benson from the University of Texas with the fourth pick in today's NFL draft. He's definitely a great college running back who will certainly be a good back in the NFL. The Bears probably didn't do badly by picking him up.

However, I would have preferred to see them draft Mike Williams, a wide receiver out of USC. Williams sat out all of last season because he thought he would be available for the draft in 2004 (along with Maurice Clarett), but wasn't. Like Clarett, Williams has got real NFL-quality skills in his position. Unlike Clarett, Williams has his head screwed on straight and is a pretty intelligent guy.

Williams is a tall, sure-handed receiver in the mold of Randy Moss who has a nose for the end zone. It's what the Bears could really use on offense, in my opinion. Sure, the pick up during the off-season of Muhsin Muhammad helps them in the receiver position. But if the Bears could line up Muhammad on one side, and someone like Williams on the other, it would give defenses more to think about. There would be a greater possibility to open up the field, get some passes down field, or even clear things out for current starting running back, and pretty good player, Thomas Jones to make some plays. Bobby Wade, the Bears current #2 wide receiver, isn't going to provide them with that. Plus, Muhammad is a streaky receiver who probably doesn't have many more seasons in him. It would be nice to have a clear future NFL #1 receiver like Williams on the team now.

update: Detroit picked up Mike Williams with the 10th pick in the draft. The Lions are now stacked with good receivers. In addition to Mike Williams, they already have Roy Williams, Charles Rogers, and Az-Zahir Hakim. Plus, they've got Marcus Pollard at tight end. They've got a good running back in Kevin Jones, and the QB is Joey Harrington - no slouch at that position. Those bastards.

April 22, 2005

Just My Luck

cubs logoI've got tickets to the Cubs game this afternoon. My first visit back to the Friendly Confines in probably 15 years. It's been a long time since I've gotten to see the Cubs. I was suppose to take my brother with me to the game as a birthday gift to him, but he has to work. In his place I going with a old buddy from college who I haven't really talked to in a couple of years. So that's still pretty good. Regardless of who was coming with me, I've been looking forward to this for some time. It's fair to say that I'm pretty excited. Heck, Greg Maddux is pitching. Then I saw the weather report last night.

We've had some really nice weather here in April for the last week. Sunny, unseasonable warm - very nice. Being April and Chicago, I knew it wouldn't last and sure enough it didn't. In the middle of the week it started getting cold again. But cold I can deal with. The weather forecast last night not only called for cold but rain all day as well - and sure enough, the forecast is coming true. It's been raining all day.

So now we're just a few hours from the first pitch (2:20 pm cst), and there looks to be a slight drizzle. Not good and a bit depressing.

To try and see if the Cubbies are going to get any baseball in I ran over to Accuweather.com and checked out the forecast for this afternoon. Accuweather.com has a nice little feature where the break things down by the hour. Take a look:

weather forecast


The game might be starting after 2pm, but according to Accuweather.com the rain drops should stop between 3 and 5. Just enough time to get a ballgame in. I might get to see a game yet! Keep your fingers crossed for me.

update: The game was never played. After a 2-hour rain delay the game was postponed until July 14th. Luckily, Mike and I never actually went into the stadium, prefering to conduct our own pub crawl around Wrigley Field. Good food. Good drinks. Good time with a friend.

How Can You Not Love These Kids?

I mean really. I offer these photos up as proof that my kids are the most lovable on the planet.

kids eating popsicles

ian

emma

zoe

Bum, Bum, Bummmmm!

The chili plot thickens: Woman in Wendy's Finger Case Arrested

I'm sure you've been following this: Woman claims to bite into finger tip while eating chili from Wendy's. Investigation at the Wendy's restaurant and all back through the supply chain fails to reveal where a finger tip could have come from. Police start investigating woman. She suddenly drops her lawsuit against Wendy's after her house is searched. Now she's been arrested. I can't wait until the press conference later today with the Las Vegas police.

This is juicey.

April 21, 2005

Coke Is Still Better

I don't care what the scientists say, I like Coke better!

frontline: the persuaders: neuromarketing | PBS

Montague had his subjects take the Pepsi Challenge while he watched their neural activity with a functional MRI machine, which tracks blood flow to different regions of the brain. Without knowing what they were drinking, about half of them said they preferred Pepsi. But once Montague told them which samples were Coke, three-fourths said that drink tasted better, and their brain activity changed too. Coke “lit up” the medial prefrontal cortex – a part of the brain that controls higher thinking. Montague’s hunch was that the brain was recalling images and ideas from commercials, and the brand was overriding the actual quality of the product.

Chicago Knows Funny

Tomorrow the 8th Annual Chicago Improv Festival kicks off and it will feature nearly 125 improve and sketch comdey groups from about the country. It runs from Friday until May 1st with performances at different theaters around the city. Here's the whole schedule. If we could find the time, I'd love to attend a bunch of these. It would be a blast.

April 20, 2005

That's Hard Core

A professor at Berkeley had his laptop computer stolen after one of his lectures. Presumably by a student trying to get a hold of an upcoming test. The next time the class met the professor ended his lecture with a message directed to the student who walked off with his computer. You can read the transcribed speech or watch a video of the speech.

Either way, after seeing what Professor Rine says I think you would agree that the poor sap that took that computer is in for a world of hurt. I mean Rine mentions not only how the kid will be in trouble with the local authorities, but the FBI, the Federal Trade Communication, Federal Marshals, Securities and Exchange Commission, and even Microsoft.

That's hard core.

Your Moment of Zen for the Day

Poseidon's Temple
POSEIDON'S TEMPLE
The 5th-century BC temple of Poseidon at Cap Sounion, south of Athens.
(AFP/Aris Messinis)

A Movie in a Theater - How Novel

Heather and my original plans for last Saturday night had to be canceled, but because we had actually lined up a sitter for all the kids we decided to still go out and make a night of it. Though on a smaller scale than originally planned.

Really it boiled down to us simply going to a movie. In a real theater no less! A rare occurrence in our post-children world. As much as I wanted to go see Sin City, I knew with Star Wars Episode III and Batman Begins looming this summer that I should defer to Heather to choose what we would get to see in a theater Saturday night. Unfortunately things looked slim until Heather found Sideways showing at the Ogden 6 theater. The Ogden 6 was a theater I used to go to a lot when I was younger. Back in the 80s it was a first run theater and one of the first in the area that had multiple screen. Now the Ogden 6 is a discount theater ($3 a ticket) with films a few months old.

We grabbed a quick dinner and headed over to the Ogden 6. It was very busy. The line for tickets was about 20 people deep. No problem getting tickets, most of the people were there to see some of the family/kids movies that were screening. Although the theater for Sideways ended up being almost 50% full. A nice discovery about the Ogden 6 is how it is run by Classic Cinemas. Very classy for a small theater screening older films. Heather and I would both like to return to see more movies at this little theater. The price certainly is right.

Sideways was fantastic. Very funny and very moving. I understand completely all the praise the film has received. I also can see why Paul Giamatti was nominated for a best actor Oscar. He is fantastic in his portrayal of depressed Miles Raymond. Thomas Haden Church is very funny in his role, but really he didn't get much beyond comic relief for me. The movie was really about watching Giamatti take his character on his journey of self-discovery. Great movie.

So how do we cap off seeing a great movie in a nice little theater for the first time in like forever? Well, we stopped off at the new Oberweis Dairy store that opened up near our house and which was on the way home from the theater. Hmmmm. Oberweis ice cream. That's good stuff.

It might not have been as glamorous as a wedding reception on the 99th floor of the Sears Tower, but I think our night out was still a good time.

April 19, 2005

Congress Legalizes Censorship

It's what they did today when they passed the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act and prepare to send it to President Bush to be signed into law.

The Act tackles two things actually, 1) It will assure manufacturers of DVD players and other devices using technology that strips out movie scenes depicting sex, violence or foul language that they would not be violating copyrights of the Hollywood producers of movies. 2) Makes it a federal crime to use video cameras to record films in movie theaters, and it would set tough penalties of up to 10 years in prison for anyone caught distributing a movie or song prior to its commercial release.

Now #2 is a good law. #2 is flat out stealing and needs to be punished.

#1 is silly and stupid, and effectively permits third-party companies to tamper and alter a filmmaker's work. It's a form of censorship.

I'm a father to three young children and the amount of sex, violence, and bad language that is out there bothers me. I do everything I can to make sure that my kids aren't exposed to any of that until I think they are ready for it. However, if there was a movie or TV show that had scenes in it that I thought were inappropriate for my kids, I would simply pass on the whole thing. I wouldn't go in and start editing out scenes that I didn't like. I believe that the filmmaker or TV director made the work the way they did for a reason - right or wrong. If there is something in there that I don't think Ian can handle, then I'm comfortable just telling him he has to wait until he can watch the whole thing. The whole thing is the work of art; the whole thing is what needs to be experienced. To bastardize it by arbitrarily editing out scenes harms the work and doesn't allow the creator's vision to be presented.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who helped author the bill, compared editing of movies to skipping a passage in a book that you found offensive. The problem with that analogy is that with a book, the reader always has to option of going back to actually read the passage. The artist's work remains intact for someone to explore. Most of the current implementations of this editing technology involves creating sanitized versions of movies and selling them to the public. You're getting the movie with the naughty-bits stripped out. There's no going back. The artist's work has been forever altered.

It's unfortunate that in order to get a worthwhile law that cracks down on copyright infringement and protects an artist's work, Congress had to also take some artist freedom away.

McDonald's Is Already Working This Into Their Value Menu

Found on Gizmodo:

The TasteScreen: a system consisting of an LCD monitor with a specialized USB device mounted on top of it. The device contains twenty plastic flavor cartridges which drip controlled quantities of flavoring into a staging area where they're mixed and dispensed.

When dispensed, the flavoring chemicals drip down to coat the monitor with a thin liquid residue. A user can sample the dispensed flavor by touching his tongue to the computer screen. Certain combinations of flavoring agents recreate a flavor appropriate to the user's task.
taste screen

Setting My 5-minute Reminder

treoTo celebrate the sales of one million Treos, starting at Noon, EDT, and running until midnight PalmOne is giving away a Treo 650 every five minutes. You have to click through a little interactive hunt to find the link for entry, but it doesn't take too long.

Go enter now, and then come back as often as you want to enter again.

Put My Trust In Zoo Animals?

I took the Book Quiz over at Blue Pyramid. Thought the book they paired me up with fairly interesting, considering it was one of my favorites growing up.



You're The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe!

by C.S. Lewis

You were just looking for some decent clothes when everything changed quite dramatically. For the better or for the worse, it is still hard to tell. Now it seems like winter will never end and you feel cursed. Soon there will be an epic struggle between two forces in your life and you are very concerned about a betrayal that could turn the balance. If this makes it sound like you're re-enacting Christian theological events, that may or may not be coincidence. When in doubt, put your trust in zoo animals.

Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

It's A Nice Thought, But . . .

Bill Stanley of Norwich, Connecticut believes that Samuel Huntington was technically the nation's first president. Huntington served as president under the Articles of Confederation, this young country's first attempt at organizing after winning independence from the British.

Now Mr. Stanley wants his city to build a presidential library for Samuel Huntington. While it's a nice sentiment and I applaud Mr. Stanley's attention to detail, I just don't see it happening. Huntington is a historical footnote. The Articles of Confederation only lasted a few years and were a failure. It's why Constitution was drafted and the government reorganized.

This story does make me want to learn more about Samuel Huntington though.

April 18, 2005

The Truly Dark Side of Star Wars

This page from an actual Star Wars coloring book is just wrong. Just wrong I say!

Darth And Leia Coloring Book Page


Especially when you conside the particular family relation between Vader and Leia.

Here's Your New Superman

Shots sneaked off the set of the new Superman film of Brandon Routh as Clark Kent.

Brandon Routh as Clark Kent


Looks like he's got a little Christopher Reeves going on there.

"Monday Night Football" Leaves ABC

The NFL has struck a deal with ESPN and NBC that will dramatically change NFL football programing in the 2006 season. Starting with that season, "Monday Night Football" will move over to ESPN and leave ABC without any NFL programming for the first time in over 35 years. In the meantime, NBC will begin televising "Sunday Night Football", something ESPN started doing back in 1998.

Paul Tagliabue, the NFL Commissioner, said about the deal, "In the current media environment, Sunday is now the better night for our prime-time broadcast package." Apparently NBC and the NFL will use flexible scheduling late in the season to ensure that the Sunday night prime time games are good match-ups.

I found all of this rather surprising. I know that Tagliabue believes that Sunday night is better than Monday for football watching, but I think a lot of that stems from the NFL's reluctance to institute flexible scheduling for Monday night games. Had they given ABC some choice in picking what late season games to televise, Monday night could have remained the premiere night of football. Personally, I've always watched less of the Sunday night games than the Monday night games over the last few years. After getting hit with all sorts of football on Sunday, by the evening I was usually tired of watching. It was nice to have the break and know I could come back on Monday. Then again, that option won't be taken away from me, I'll just have to shoot over to ESPN to watch now. Which is pretty good actually, I've always enjoyed ESPN's team working the Sunday night games better than the Monday night crew these last few years. This might work out nicely.

Now They Publish It

calvin and hobbesI just finished collecting all the treasury volumes of Calvin & Hobbes last Christmas. Now I learn that this fall Andrews McMeel Publishing will be releasing every Calvin & Hobbes comic strip that ever appeared in syndication collected together in three hardcover tomes packed in a slipcase. It's a collection somewhat similar to last year's The Complete FarSide.

The Complete Calvin & Hobbes is set to hit store shelves in October; and even though I already own all the paperback treasury volumes, this collection will be on my wish list come Christmas time. Calvin & Hobbes was such a wonderful comic strip that I would want to have the strips collected in a fashion that I know will last for a long time. As Ian's reading skills have been quickly advancing he has taken an interest in the adventures of Calvin and his friend Hobbes and frequently pulls down the Calvin & Hobbes paperbacks I own. Ian is having a great time reading the strips and laughing at all the craz things that Calvin does. I want Ian to read them over and over (and Emma and Zoe too in time), but I know that this kind of use will wear the books out. So having something sturdier like this hardbound collection would be preferable. I don't want just my children to enjoy Bill Watterson's masterpiece of a comic strip, but my grandchildren, and great-grandchildren as well.

How About That

Adobe is buying Macromedia for $3.4 billion. This purchase will make Adobe the premiere web design software players in the space. Nicely done.

25 Favorite Memories of Sesame Street

Mike over at Progressive Boink pulled together his 25 favorite memories of Sesame Street. I'd have to guess Mike is close to my age (maybe a little younger), because for the most part he hits many of the moments I remember from watching Sesame Street as a youngster. He loses me when he starts talking about stuff on the the show in the mid-80s. None the less, it is a great read.

April 17, 2005

Making Her Claim As "Cutest of Them All"

Over the past week Emma managed to get two things captured digitally that will help her retain the title "Cutest of Them All."

First, there is this adorable attempt to sing the ABCs for Heather:

emma sings


Then she had a fitting for the dress she will be wearing at my sister's wedding later this month. Heather took some photos of Emma while she had her dress on, and Emma couldn't resist the opportunity to camp it up for the camera.

emma in wedding dress


I think with these two entries she makes a pretty good argument to retain the title.

April 15, 2005

Apple Is Just A Plain Cool Company

Besides building computers and digital music players that not only work consistently and securely, they build products and software that inspire as well. I mean, just take a look. . .

A woman who has plenty of experience baking unique and fantastic cakes, created this iPod Shuffle dessert:

iPod Shuffle cake


Then there is the guy who created trading cards showcasing the talent behind the Mac OS X Tiger development team.

tiger trading cards


(Okay, I'll grant that this is more "creepy" than "inspired". But still, is anyone making trading cards for the guys working on Longhorn? I didn't think so.)

Finally, this last bit isn't about people being inspired by Apple, but rather what Apple might be building to inspire us in the future. It was reported recently that Apple has licensed a chipset from a British manufacturer (Alphamosaic) that is capable of not only music and video, but 3D graphics and image capturing with resolutions up to 8-megapixel. Plus it could be integrated with other chips from the same company to provide wireless communication. Apple could be getting ready to build the ultimate video/gaming/cell phone/camera/music device or they could be looking to add video to the next generation of iPods. I guess we just wait and see.

Here's hoping it's the ultimate Apple handheld, possibly looking like this:

super apple device
(image taken from Gizmodo)


I'd love to get a Sony P2P, that thing is wicked. But if I could get the same thing built by Apple with their impeccable sense of style and usability, I'd wait for the ultimate Apple handheld.

Oh, and by the way, Apple OS X 10.4 Tiger officially hits the stores on Friday, April 29th. It looks smokin' hot.

Next Month I Plan To Challenge Yahoo For Online Traffic

Take a look at this chart representing page requests to brendanmckillip.com

April Traffic Report


I know it's hard to read cause I shrank it down to fit within my blog, but if you click through you will see that in March I hit an all-time high of 12,945 page requests. That's pretty damn big for my little corner of the web. Considering the next highest number is 8,299 in February, I'm looking at a 56% increase in page requsts from February to March. The increase from January to March is 145.5%. WOW! I can't wait to see what April brings.

Taxes

Taxes really don't bother me. With all the different types of software out there, doing your own taxes is really a simple task. It's just a matter of sitting down and getting them done, and with the software's help that doesn't take much more than an hour or two.

Yet every year the majority of newspaper cartoonists insist on subjecting us to the typical frustrated tax return filing jokes and gags in their strips. The jokes are so clichéd. Why do they continue to do them? I wish I knew. I also wish I knew why even cartoonists as talented and funny as Bill Amend would stoop to a typical tax gag on April 15th. It just doesn't seem right.

The only truly funny income tax-related comic I've ever seen is one from 1976. The late, great, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Jeff MacNelly created a comic representing his impressions of the US 1040 tax form. Nobody should have bothered trying to make fun of tax return filing time after MacNelly published this gem.

April 14, 2005

Supermarket Superheroes

Writers at the Toner Mishap blog went to the supermarket and found some interesting product tie-ins with movies coming out this summer.

What makes the goofy tie-ins even funnier is the commentary that accompanies the photos of marketing gone too far.

jedi mind games

Ian's First Art Show

Ian had his first public showing of his school artowrk the other day. Although I could not attend becuase of my work schedule, it was a fantastic and Heather got these photos of Ian's art.

Ian was very proud of everything he had done, and enjoyed taking Heather and his sisters on a tour of the whole art show at his school. He made sure they saw everything, even the art from the advance grades.

rainbow fish

Personal Responsibility Waning

This article I found today addresses what appears to be a decline personal responsibility in America. In particular:

"The Buck Stops Here," said the no-nonsense sign on President Harry Truman's desk. Today, it sits in a Missouri museum. And with it perhaps the sentiment it represented.

It was more than a slogan. The notion of accepting responsibility without passing the buck or blaming others when things went wrong was central to the work ethic and moral tone of the time.

By contrast today, almost none of the leaders of the country's great institutions ever step forward and take responsibility for failure or even honest mistakes. It is sometimes imposed by others, notably juries, but less so by the broader American society and virtually never invoked voluntarily in politics, business, religion or popular culture.

It's a behavior, or I guess lack of behavior, that I have noticed for many years now. I find it very bothersome. I'm proud to take personal responsibility and refuse to blame others when things go wrong. I'm also making sure that despite whether the country on a whole is willing to go along with the concept or not, my children will learn to accept responsibility for their actions and conduct themselves with dignity even in the face of a society that seems forever in search of another place to point a finger at.

A few years ago I stumbled upon a quote from Newton Minow. Don't know who the guy is (or was), but I always liked the quote. "We've gotten to the point where everybody's got a right and nobody's got a responsibility."

April 12, 2005

I Love the Web

Not only does it allow me to get all sorts of information whenever I want it or need it, allow me to pay bills and handle finances without paper, and stay in contact with people all across the world - it also let's my two-year old daughter send me fun e-cards and totally brighten my day.

Hardly a week goes by that Heather and Emma don't visit Hallmark.com for Emma to pick out something to send to me. At first Heather would type the message for Emma, but now Emma is taking to the keyboard to draft the message she wants to share with her Daddy. Of course the text is just a mess of characters (jaksdjals dhfsdfh dfhifh), but that doesn't matter. I know that Emma typed it in herself, thinking she was writing her Dad. That's what makes it all so special - seeing that garbled text and knowing that Emma wrote it for me.

I love the web, and I love how it helps my daughter share things with me even while I'm at work.

Something To Brighten the Morning

A pretty girl in a bikini - it works every time. Say hello to Chelsea Cooley from Charlotte, N.C. She was crowned Miss USA 2005 last night.

chelse cooley miss usa 2005

Fantastic

Not only does this story show how U.S. wages are lagging behind prices for the first time in 14 years, but they also point out the weak job market, the rising healthcare costs, and the possibility of higher interest rates.

Things that I really want to be reading about right now. Give me a nice warm fuzzy inside - like a giant festering acid pit in the bottom of my belly.

April 11, 2005

Jim Lee's Batman and Robin

This summer All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder written by Frank Miller and accompanied on art by Jim Lee will debut. To say I'm eagerly anticipating this series is an understatement of colossal proportions. Hopefully I will be able to pick up the run when it starts in July.

This morning Jim Lee posted on his blog the pencils for the two different covers that will be used for th first issue. Take a look:

All Star Batman Cover

All Star Robin Cover


Are those not fantastic? To truly appreciate them, click through to the full size version. The detail in the pencils is amazing.

April 09, 2005

Congratulations Charles and Camilla


Charles and Camilla, originally uploaded by bmckillip.

April 08, 2005

It Was One Of Those Days . . .

. . . where things go like this.

Chris Christmas Rodriguez

One of the stranger (and funnier) commercials for aftershave that I have ever seen - Chris Christmas Rodriguez Aftershave

(Ed - it's definitely funny, but it's so funny and so bad that I have to think it's a hoax.)

Just Trying to Make This Work For Me

An Australian researcher is reporting that sex, cryptic crosswords and a good run could help ward off dementia and other degenerative conditions by stimulating new brain cells.

I'm wondering if I just have triple the amount of sex if I can get the same effect? I really don't enjoy crosswords and I tried the running things years ago and hated it.

That's A Lot Of CDs For Kids

BRW Magazine released its list of the top richest Australian performers in 2004, and who topped the list? The Wiggles with an estimated gross income of $34.5 million. Second and third on the list were Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe who earned $30 million and $20 million respectively.

As I've mentioned here before, our kids are big Wiggles fans, so we fed that $34.5 million with some of our own cash in the past year. But I think it was worth it. The Wiggles are thoroughly entertaining in their TV shows and their music CDs. Ian and Emma always like to watch them or listen to their music, though I see Ian's interest starting to wane a bit. But that's understandable; he's going to be six this summer and is starting to outgrow the age group the Wiggles really target.

What Heather and I have always enjoyed about the Wiggles is their live shows. Their live performances are designed to entertain and capture the attention of young children, but the performers in the Wiggles never forget that the only way their young fans can get there is if an adult brings them. That's why the Wiggles always work in some fun stuff that floats right over the kids' heads and tickles the funny bones of the parents, aunts, uncles, and the other adults in the audience.

April 07, 2005

Chabon & Lethem: Superheroes

Found a great new blog that had a really funny satire of two heavy weights in literature right now, Michael Chabon and Jonathan Lethem, which stems mostly from both men's love of superheroes and comics and how they work it into everything they write.

Lethem and Chabon


Eventhough I am fans of both their writing, especially Chabon's, I found this particularly funny. Especially the guy's reaction to suggestions he read Tom Clancy or John Grisham.

On a related note, I recently finished reading Chabon's latest book, The Final Solution, A Story of Detection. It's a fairly straightforward mystery starring a very elderly Sherlock Holmes. Chabon never refers to Holmes directly, rather always calling him "the old man." Why? I couldn't tell. The charactes and pacing are handled with polished professionalism, and Chabon's words are a joy to read. However, the book failed to resonant with me like some of his other works. No bother though. It was still better than reading a Clancy novel.

On another related note, it would appear that not only does Mr. Chabon have a knack for good writing, he also is having plenty of fun in bed with his wife - as her essay in the New York Times reveals.

I am the only woman in Mommy and Me who seems to be, well, getting any. This could fill me with smug well-being. I could sit in the room and gloat over my wonderful marriage. I could think about how our sex life - always vital, even torrid - is more exciting and imaginative now than it was when we first met. I could check my watch to see if I have time to stop at Good Vibrations to see if they have any exciting new toys. I could even gaze pityingly at the other mothers in the group, wishing that they too could experience a love as deep as my own.

Way to go Michael.

This Is Just Bad. Flat Out Bad

Phantom 5I'm talking about the latest Phantom comic from Moonstone. It's issue number 5, written by Rafael Nieves with art by Jerry Decaire, and it is the worst comic I have read in a long time. The writing is clunky and full of cliches. The art is very weak - the same character can look completely different page to page, sometimes even panel to panel. Ill-proportioned figures. Bad storytelling. It's just horrible. Hell, not that Nieves made it easier for the letterer by writing gobs and gobs of things for the characters to say, but the guy has word balloons all over the page. At times I have no idea who is suppose to be saying what and in what sequence. At one point it actually looks like someone's ass is talking. This is not a professional quality comic.

It's really sad too. The first four issues of this title have been quite good. Ben Raab's stories have been entertaining and well executed, and the artwork has been top notch. Luckily Nieves and Decaire are only on for their two-issue story. Then they are off for Ben Raab to return. Hopefully these two don't return for awhile. I've always liked the Phantom and have enjoyed Moonstone's launch of a Phantom comic here in the states. I hate seeing the character done so poorly.

Don't Tell Heather This

A recent report claims that Pilates tones abs, but does little else.

According to Dr. Michele Olson of Auburn University Montgomery, Pilates will tighten up your abdomen, but if you want to lose weight you're going to have to supplement this workout with other exercises and diet.

I think I would take exception to the study these claims are based on. First, they only monitored 10 people for the basis of the study. Two, since Heather started doing pilates not only has her stomach tightened up, but the rest of her body has become much more trim. Plus, she has lost weight. She's down to her old fighting weight from before she started having kids and she looks fabulous.

April 06, 2005

Training the Jedi

Following up to an earlier post, you can all see how my training of the young Jedi padawans is progressing. Ian is by far the most advanced in his command of the Force and his skills with the lightsaber. Emma disarms you with her charm and then attacks with a savagery most uncommon for a sweet little buttercup of a girl like herself. Zoe is still young, but already she has shown that she can handle a blade very effectively. She might end up being the best swordsmen of the group.

My Jedi Clan

Jedi Padawan Ian
Jedi Padawan EmmaJedi Padawan Zoe

April 05, 2005

YaGoohoo!gle

They've done it! Yahoo! and Google have merged to form the biggest online company of them all!
yagoohoo!gle

Actually, it just's someone who has created an interesting search engine mash-up.

April 04, 2005

It Was a Star Wars Sunday

My sister is getting married at the end of the month, so with less than four weeks to go we are in the thick of wedding shower season. Yesterday there was another shower for my sister which Heather, Emma, and Zoe all went to - leaving Ian and I home alone.

Knowing that my mother, her sisters, and my father’s sisters were throwing the shower, I was confident it would be marathon party. Ian and I would essentially have the day to our selves.

Even though I was trying to work through six loads of laundry, it was too nice of a day to stay in the house and it was too good of an opportunity to have some fun with Ian. So Ian and I loaded up and headed out. First we went to Target. The official story was to pick up a new shower curtain and some other household needs, but the real reason was to check out all the new Star Wars stuff that hit the shelves on Saturday.

Target was still very well stocked with Star Wars paraphernalia, so Ian and I got to spend quite a bit of time hanging out in the aisle checking things out. I particularly found the talking Yoda pretty funny. He has over 300 phrases and his mouth and eyes move when he talks. There were plenty of action figures and Target had them on sale for only $5, so it was a given that he and I would pick up a few. I got an Obi-Wan and Darth Vader. Ian picked up General Grievous - mostly because he comes with four lightsabers.

Then we were off to Dairy Queen. Ian had earned some free ice cream from school at some point a few months ago. Even though he had forgotten about the coupon, it was burning a hole in my pocket. So we got ice cream and ate it outside. Afterwards we just ran around outside for a while goofing around and talking. We even speculated on what superpowers me might gain by stepping in some goo Ian found on the sidewalk that he couldn't identify. (It was just some whip cream, but don't tell Ian that. I think it would ruin the mystery.) Ultimately Ian figured he would gain super-speed.

Back home and inside the house, we cracked open our new Star Wars figures and proceeded to conduct an all out war right there on the kitchen table. Obi-Wan standing up bravely to the combined and repeated assaults of Vader and Grievous.

Eventually the six loads of laundry could be avoided no longer. I'd have to start folding them somehow. It was early evening and the girls weren't back yet, so we put in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace per Ian's suggestion and watched the movie together while I attacked the mountain of clean clothes needing to be folded.

Essentially that's how Heather found us when she returned home later that evening. Finishing up our boy’s afternoon featuring a lot of Star Wars and a lot of nice time together.

What Not To Say On The Senate Floor

Poor Sen. Kel Seliger, a republican state senator in Texas from Amarillo. He was trying to get a resolution ratified that would make the chuck wagon as the official state vehicle for Texas. His distinguished colleagues were having some fun at his expense but hitting him with questions like, "Should we call it the Charles Wagon?" "Can we also designate the low-rider as the official state urban vehicle?" - when Sen. Seliger finally had enough. When asked if would entertain another question to his resolution, he responded:

"I've already yielded more than a cheerleader at a drive-in."

The floor went silent. The resolution passed. Seliger blamed the outburst on "incipient Tourette's syndrome", even though he doesn't actually have the disorder.

God bless, Texas!

She Wasn't Disabled Enough

Janeal Lee was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin in January, but was stripped of her title after she was photographed standing in her classroom teaching her children.

Lee suffers from muscular dystrophy and uses a scooter to get around during the day, but while teaching she will stand and walk around the classroom for short periods of time when instructing her students.

Apparently, according to the organizers of the Ms. Wheelchair competition, the fact that Ms. Lee has muscular dystrophy, uses a scooter to get around, a lift in her van, and a ramp and adaptive equipment in her home just wasn't enough to let her keep the title of Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin.

"All I can say is she does not meet the physical requirements,” Gina Hackel of the pageant organization said.

Ms. Lee was told she could re-enter the competition in the future when she is more qualified for the title. I guess right now she isn't disable enough.

This is all just so fascinatingly stupid.

April 02, 2005

Hey! It's For Charity!

It's the iPose Competition! According to the website, it's "an all-Greek modeling contest at the University of Arizona, hosted by the fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi and the sorority Alpha Phi." Essentially pictures of good-looking co-eds in bathing suits wearing iPod shuffles. (I didn't look at the guys)

The top voted male and female each win an iPod. For every vote cast, Alpha Epsilon Pi and Alpha Phi will donate 10 cents each to tsunami relief.

I voted for Allison

Alison

April 01, 2005

There Are Protocols You Know

Because I don't read the Chicago Sun Times, I don't get read Richard Roper's column. I always enjoy listening to him when he appears on Steve Dahl's radio show, I just never think to check out his column regularly. Maybe if there was an rss feed for it . . .

Anyway, thanks to a posting in The Chicagoist earlier this week I got to read a sampling of young Mr. Roper's writing. In his March 29th column, Roper defines what it means to be a Jerkaholic and how difficult Jerkaholics make life for everyone else. As Roper states in his column, "A jerkaholic is not someone who blithely goes through life offending people and isn't aware of it."

It's a fun article. I recommend you read it.

What I really enjoyed about the article was the intro. Roper takes you through a scene in a men's bathroom where a Jerkaholic is in true form. What is so great is Roper's dead-on explanation of the proper bathroom etiquette when choosing a stall in a men's bathroom.

I Want To Get Into Spanish Politics

They take the term "pressing the flesh" to a whole new level.

Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero talks to Noemi Sanin, the Colombian ambassador in Spain upon his arrival in Bogota, Colombia
Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero talks to Noemi Sanin, the Colombian ambassador in Spain upon his arrival in Bogota, Colombia, Wednesday, March 30, 2005. (AP Photo)