July 29, 2005

Celebrate Ryno's Hall of Fame Induction

Ryne SandbergTo celebrate Ryne Sandberg's induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend, two different stations will be televising a Cubs game from 1984 affectionately referred to as "The Sandberg Game." Sandberg's performance in that game against the St. Louis Cardinals is always mentioned as one of the defining performances that got Ryno the MVP award that year. He drove in 7 runs, including two game-tying home runs in the 9th and 10th innings.

You can catch the full game on Comcast SportsNet this Saturday at 6:30pm. WGN will also be airing the game, though in an edited format, Monday night at 7pm. The WGN telecast will feature Harry Caray, Milo Hamilton, Lou Boudreau and Vince Lloyd, and will include clips from the pregame and postgame show that day.

I'll probably try and catch both, but at least I'd like to see the WGN version Monday night.

But What I Really Want To Do . . .

Like actors who really want to direct, ask any avid comic book fan what he or she wants to do and they'll tell you they want to create their own books. Such would be true for me. I think the urge to be creative grips most everyone. How can you not want to put something out there that sprung from your own mind and is reflective of who you are? I think it's something primal buried deep within the collective human psyche. Everyone wants to create something and show it to the world. Hell, the businesses making money off the backs of all the new bloggers out on the Internet are banking on the creative urge of the masses.

Back to comics though. Obviously, we can't all create comics. Someone has to help distribute them. That were some comic book fans other dream job comes in - running your own comic store. I have to admit that I fall into that camp as well. I've often thought it would be both challenging and a lot of fun to own and operate my own comic book store.

Of course, my idea of what a good comic shop is not like what you will find in most cities. The standard for most comic shops fits the cliche that most people expect: dark and cramped, with faded comic book posters covering the walls and ceilings, and not a sliver of natural light to be found anywhere. And the comic shop guy from The Simpson' behind the counter. It's not a very inviting atmosphere for shopping for comics. And certainly off-putting to the curious shopper who might actually like comics if they gave them a try.

My view of a comic store would follow in line more with places like Isotope Comics in San Francisco or The Comix Revolution in Evanston, IL. These are stores that have decided that way to bring people into comics is to create a store that people want to come into. Clean, brightly-lit stores with an open design that not only makes browsing easy - it encourages it. They run their business and their stores like book stores, not hobby shops. Two more great examples that are opening up shortly are Rocketship in New York City and RIOT comics & culture in Camp Hill, PA. Again, the approach to their store is fresh - a distinct diversion from the dank stores of old.

I find it encouraging that more stores dedicated to comics are opening up like RIOT and Rocketship. Heck, even the store I buy my comics from has done a lot in the last three years to really brighten the place up and make it more "curious shopper" friendly. They still hold on to some of the old, comic fan-boy traditions when it comes to running the store, but I am certainly more comfortable bringing Heather and the kids there now then I was four years ago.

Ultimately though, I'd love a crack at setting up and running my own store. I would borrow ideas from all the places I've mentioned before in designing the store decor, layout, and even product offerings. I would also want to bring Heather into the business. She is a fantastic baker and cook. I've always thought an interesting twist on the comic shop would be to create a comic cafe of sorts. Maybe three-quarters of the store given over to comics and graphic novels, a quarter of it set aside to sell coffee, tea, pop, and Heather's baked goods. (And that division of store space is arbitrary. Obviously we could 50/50 if we thought it would serve the business better) If Barnes & Noble or Borders can do it with book stores in general, why can't we do it for niche book products like comics? I think it would be great. I could make some comics free for reading or reviewing over in the cafe area to try and entice people to expand their reading choices. Having a place to just sit, read, and hang out would give the store a laid back, relaxed feel that keeps people in the store and buying more things. Plus, it would combine two of Heather and my favorite hobbies, comics and cooking, in a way that we can work at them together, but still remain autonomous to a certain extent.

Now don't take this for a business plan or manifesto. I haven't gotten to that level yet. This still remains a dream that I am continuing to roll over in my head and fine tune each day. As much as I would love to give something like this a shot, financially I don't no if I could swing it. Not with three little one's at home right now. But then again, if not now, when?

The Aristocrats

I have been reading more and more about this film in advance of its release. Both the reviews that are glowing and the controversy the film is stirring up because of its content. The Aristocrats is a documentary by Penn Jillette (he of the magic/comedy duo of Penn and Teller) and Paul Provenza. The subject of their film is an old joke that dates back to the days of Vaudeville. My understanding is that the premise of the joke is that of performer pitching his/her idea for a new show to an agent. They describe some of the most vulgar, vile, and shocking things you can imagine and then deliver the name of the show - and the punch line to the joke - "The Aristocrats."

Jillette and Provenza took on this documentary to studies the mysteries of what makes something funny. The film makers interview over a hundred different comics and get their own take on the joke, plus their thoughts on it as well. It sounds like comedy gold to me, though certainly on the blue side. But how can you pass up a film that has everyone from George Carlin, Phyllis Diller, and Tim Conway to Chris Rock, Jon Stewart, Kevin Pollack, and Sarah Silverman trying to put their own hilarious spin on the same joke.

A number of movie chains won't carry the film. Claiming that the appeal for this film is too narrow. Fine. Whatever. It's not like I was going to get to see this in the theater anyway. However, I will look forward to watching this film when it comes out on DVD one night when I'm sure the kids are sleeping soundly.

July 28, 2005

Why I Hate Wal-Mart More Each Day

anti walmartMark O'Brien is a writer for the Pensacola News Journal, in Pensacola, Florida. A couple of weeks ago he wrote a piece critical of Wal-Mart and how it is eroding their community from the inside out.

Wal-Mart's response? The local Wal-Mart store said that they would no longer sell the Pensacola Journal at their store.

Was it because what O'Brien said in his article was not factual or inaccurate? No, O'Brien's facts check out and hold up. One of the top managers for the Wal-Mart stores in the area didn't think their stores should tolerate a paper that would publish the opinions of someone who spoke so negatively about Wal-Mart. Therefore, Wal-Mart would no longer carry the newspaper at their stores. The Wal-Mart manager said that they might reconsider, if the Pensacola paper fired Mark O'Brien. (emphasis mine)

After starting with the rather innocuous practice of refusing to carry albums with explicit language, Wal-Mart has continued to slide down the slippery slope of censorship. They aren't just refusing to carry items because of a third-party rating or content matter, now they are blocking items which present ideas and opinions that they simply don't like. Where's the freedom there? The more I read about Wal-Mart and its practices, the more I despise the company.

Beware of Car-Hungry Cows!

Hundreds and Hundreds of the strangest signs from around the world.

hungry cow

July 27, 2005

Even Santa Has His Own Convention Now

What does Santa do in the summer? He goes to the World Santa Claus Congress in Denmark. It started out as a stunt by an amusement park in Denmark, but now attracks Santas from around the world for games, parades, and other events.

The most interesting news to come out of the convention for me was to see how much Santa's daughters have grown.

santas daughters

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Hallmark has announced their new Star Wars Keepsake Ornaments for 2005, and what a lineup it is.

Having the Millennium Falcon on the tree would be great fun.

millennium falcon

Of course, the repressed 11-year old who remembers seeing Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in her slave girl outfit in Return of the Jedi that lurks deep inside me would be interested in getting his sweaty palms on this ornament.

princess leia

But ultimately I think I would opt for the talking Darth Vader ornament.

That's right. The talking Darth Vader ornament. He says two phrases, which you should be able to listen to by clicking here and here.

vader

Nothing says Merry Christmas quit like James Earl Jones reciting classic sci-fi movie lines from inside your Christmas tree.

Happy Birthday Bugs!

Somehow I managed to miss this item until now.

65 years ago today, Warner Bros. released a Merrie Melodies short called A Wild Hare. It starred the first versions of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. Both characters would go through some revisions before they became what we know them to be today, but they got their start on this date many years ago.

bug bunny

Happy Birthday Bugs! (And Elmer, too!)

Failure

Google search for "Failure"

(props to Ed for this one)

Lunch Plans?

If you haven't figured out where you're eating lunch today, McDonald's is running their hamburger/cheeseburger sale today. Burgers are like $.49 or something, cheeseburgers a dine more. I can't remember the exact price right now, I just now it's cheap and there is a limit of five burgers per customer per order.

A Long Way To Go

I remember when the new space shuttle program was all the rage in the early 80's and it was heralded as the next great step in space travel. America would have space shuttles taking off and landing multiple times a month. Going into space would be like getting on an airplane to travel from Chicago to Orlando. We would be taking that next big step towards making the fantasy of shows like Star Trek and Star Wars a reality - at least where space travel is concerned.

It's more than twenty years later, and the space shuttles hardly seem to be the thing of science fiction. This latest launch of the shuttle Discovery was delayed over a week because of a problem with a fuel sensor. Now the crew has to check the entire ship, while in orbit, for any damage.

Even before the horrible tragedy of two and half years ago, the space shuttles were handled with kid gloves and lots of tenderness. I thought this program was suppose to provide America with a "shuttle" program to space in the truest sense of the word. Easy, fast, and cheap travel into space and back with quick turnarounds at both destinations. That is what "shuttles" are for. How are we ever going to get that if we are still fretting over fuel sensors and whether or not a bird knocked off some of the protective tiles on the shuttle during liftoff?

I think a new approach is needed here if we're ever going to start exploring and exploiting the space and planets close to Earth.

July 26, 2005

Six Years

I know it sounds like a cliche, but my life really did change on this day six years ago. On July 26, 1999, Ian was born in a hospital in Cleveland, Oh. (The exact suburb escapes me now, but I'm sure Heather remembers.) What everyone says about how having kids changes you life is true. This is obvious. I don't need to explain that. But the fact that it changes your life so much and because the date of the change is so clear, it's why I always find myself thinking about it when Ian's birthday comes around. Because, you see, Ian's birthday isn't just the anniversary of the day he was born, but it's also the anniversary of the day I started being a dad.

Over the past six years I have learned how to be a dad (and how I think I shouldn't be a dad). How to teach my kids things. How to discipline them. How to hopefully prepare them to enter the world on their own. I've also learned about the sacrifices that you have to make in order to be a parent. The late nights and early mornings. The lack of sleep. The need toput asideyou own interests and hobbies for a while, in order to make sure you're able to provide the type of home and opportunities you want your kids to have growing up. While it can be frustrating at times, I know there are rewards. I've seen some of them already. Their excitement on Christmas morning and their constant speculation on Santa's methods. The thrill they get in experiencing something new; like swimming underwater, or going to the zoo, or traveling on an airplane. Or even better, watching them stand up in front of a crowded gym and deliver their lines in the school's Christmas play. And as they get older I know there will be even more things to experience with them and feel proud of them for.

So it's on Ian's birthday that I find myself evaluating how I'm doing as a dad. His age and my tenure as a father will forever be linked. I think my first six years have been okay, but I really feel like I have lots of room for improvement. For example, in my opinionI still have a tendency to expect too much from my kids at their age they are at. I need to keep things in perspectivebetter. Ian's only 6-years old with a 6-year old's view of the world and his place in it. Keeping that in mind should allow me to parent more effectively.

Heather and I often talk about our skills as parents, and what we need to work on or where we need help. This is extremely helpful and allows us to continue to grow and develop our skills as parents. At the six year mark we're doing pretty well and I look forward to improving those skills over the next fifty years and seeing the fruit of our labors.

Oh, and I should say "Thank You" to Ian. Thank you for being the first and for bearing with your mom and dad as the figure things out. Being the first born child, everything gets tried on you first. You are the parenting guinea pig. For as much of a challenge as it has been figuring parenting out on the fly, you have made the rewards spectacular so far.

Happy Birthday.

Ian The Swimmer

Ian

Mark Your Calendars

November 1 - Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith on DVD

revenge of the sith dvd art

Q Looks Way Cool

Though I'm never one who gets to early adopt a new technology/gadget - no matter how much I want to, if given the chance I would love to try the upxoming Q from Motorola. Even if it is running on Microsoft's Windows Mobile software. The thing is slick.

Q

Look Ma! I'm Google!

Logogle.com instantly Google-izes any string you put in and makes it look like the Google.com site. Then you can even search there using the Google search engine.

July 25, 2005

What Would Walt Say?

As reported this morning on the Cartoon Brew blog, Disney appears to have closed the final hand-drawn animation studio they had operating.

sad mickeyI am a regular reader of your "Cartoon Brew" website, and an animator at DisneyToon Studio's Australia. I have some breaking news for you: At 3pm today (Monday 25 July) the entire studio was summoned for a staff meeting in which we told by the General Manager Phil Oakes that upon completion of our next production "Cinderella 3", DisneyToon Studio's Australia will be closing down after 17 years. They have cited current business needs and production schedules as the cause. So Disney hand drawn animation now ceases to exist.
What does this mean for the House of Mouse? Not sure. Either they're putting all their money behind computer animation (whether through their own computer studios or begging Pixar to come back, I don't know) or they plan to outsource hand drawn animation to non-Disney run studios. Either way I think it's a sad day when what used to be one of the premiere animation studios in the world no longer has a studio open any longer. Sure, Disney hasn't produced anything spectacular in the last few years, you still hate to see something like this happen.

Give Them Points for Creativity . . .

. . . but then I'll take those points away for picking on someone dumb enough to actually believe this scam.

Then again, I wonder who's really to blame in this situation? The couple running the scam or the woman who actually fell for it.

PALERMO, Italy (Reuters) - An Italian couple stole 50,000 euros from a woman in the Sicilian city of Palermo after convincing her they were vampires who would impregnate her with the son of the Anti-Christ if she did not pay them.

The man, a cabaret singer, and his girlfriend took the money from their victim over four years by selling her pills at 3,000 euros each that they said would abort the Anti-Christ's son.

Police uncovered the fraud after the 47-year-old woman's family became concerned when they discovered she had spent all her savings, local news agencies AGI and ANSA reported.

Beginner's Luck

Last Friday the company I just recently started work for had their summer company party. The shindig was held at The Green at Grant Park, a cool little miniature golf course located in Grant Park in downtown Chicago. It's miniature golf - but there are no windmills, or waterfalls, or laughing clowns. The holes are laid out like regular golf holes with real grass and everything. It's quite challenging.

Of course I attended, I saw it as a perfect way to try and get to know more of my new co-workers. I know it takes a while for me to usually warm up to new groups, so I wasn't going to miss a social event that could help me feel more connected to my new co-workers. Plus, besides the golf, food, and open bar, there were two raffles being held for employees to participate in. Everybody had to choose between trying to win $150 to a local spa or $150 to the Apple Store.

Naturally, I threw my name into the Apple Store raffle. In fact, a lot of people were choosing the Apple Store raffle. It was clearly the more popular of the two choices. So imagine my surprise this morning when the email went out to the company and my name was listed as the winner of the $150 gift certificate to the Apple Store.

I'm thinking of using the prize to buy Heather an iPod Shuffle, the 1Gig model that goes for about $129 and lets you store about 240 songs. The Shuffle is nice and light - perfect for a busy mom trying to keep up with kids and work-out on a regular basis. Then I figure I'll take the remaining balance and put it into iTunes credit for Heather and I to buy more music for our iPods. Sure I could take the money and upgrade the OS to Tiger or put it towards a new external hard drive for back-up purposes (which we're going to need with all the photos and music we are starting to accumulate on the computer at home), I just feel like doing something fun with it because how I won it.

July 23, 2005

Jimmy Pickering

I'm always looking for new books to get the kids with wonder artwork. I look for stuff that is fresh and imaginative - something that Ian, Emma, and eventually Zoe can really dive into and enjoy. A great story can stir the imagination, but a great story with great artwork can elevate that experience even higher.

Tonight I was spending some time at artist Jimmy Pickering's website. I absolutely love his style - it's very fun and energetic. His character design is splendid. While on his site, I learned that besides doing design work for Disney and Universal Studios, he has written some books as well. I think I know some books I'll be picking up for the kids later this year.

jimmy pickering artwork

The Big Picture

Animator Kareem Thompson helps us understand the "Big Picture" through his entertaining animated film.

July 22, 2005

Impressive . . . Most Impressive

Darth Vader learns all about new cell phone technology in Japan.


(via boing boing)

How A Computer Works

The more time I spend at my job, the more I start to think that this "computer thing" might have some legs. That's why I plan to read this book.

book cover
After all, the inscription in the front of the book reads:
"The combination of carefully-written text and instructive illustrations should give older students a good basic knowledge of what computers are all about."
Sounds right for me.

July 21, 2005

That's Why I Hate Traveling

Yesterday I traveled to Nashville for a client kick-off meeting. It was to be a simply fly in, meet, fly out. Considering that the flight to Nashville wasn't much more than an hour and a half, I really wouldn't be gone from home much longer than any other work day.

The flight down to Tennessee on United Express went off without a problem. Though, the obviously rookie flight attendant made it almost painful to sit through the safety procedures before we took off. It was almost like she had what she needed to say written on her hand, but because she was nervous and sweating, all the words were slowly disappearing.

"Ahh. . Make sure your seats and . . . . ahh . . . . tray tables are in the locked and . . . ha, ha . . . upright position."

She giggled a lot too. Which I attributed to nerves.

Regardless, we get to Nashville, have the meeting, things are looking good. We have some time before our return flight, so we get some recommendations from the clients for a few nice bars / restaurants we might want to hit before getting back on the plain. We're in the midst of checking a few emails before leaving when we realize that our flight has been canceled. Here's the kicker: there are three of us traveling together. Two of us were automatically bumped to an earlier flight. The third person was moved to the same flight - 24 hours later.

So we scrap the plans for eating and jump a cab back to the airport. While in route, we discover that all United Express flights to O'Hare have been canceled because of the weather. Now, none of us packed for an overnight stay and we've all got things we need to do back in Chicago on Thursday. So staying overnight really isn't an option. So while stuck in Nashville traffic, we give Southwest a call.

"Do you have any flights to Chicago open tonight?"

"Yes."

"Will they be flying tonight?"

"Yes."

"Book us, Dano!!"

We get to Nashville and get our boarding passes. Naturally, keeping in line with how things are going. Two of us get pegged for a more thorough, anal-probing, security search. This requires us to dump all of our belongings into special red boxes and then stand behind a glass partition while the other travels point and laugh at us. My co-worker and I thought we might have gotten tagged for the anal-probing because we booked flights so late. At least I know it wasn't because of why the one lady I met behind the partition was in for. She had come to the airport without her driver's license. "I didn't think I'd need my ID to get into the airport."

What! You didn't think you needed your ID to get through security at the airport? I hope that women doesn't plan to procreate anytime soon.

Any way. After being scanned and probed and asked some silly questions. I get to dress myself and be on my way.

But the fun doesn't start there.

The Southwest flight to Chicago that leaves before our is being delayed. While watching the screen, our's gets delayed as well. So it's time to sit in the crappy sports bar and drink and eat. Which is what we do for the next three hours. Eventually, two Southwest flights are leaving for Chicago at the same time and we get to board. We finally take off at 8:20pm - the time we were originally suppose to be landing at O'Hare.

Oh, I forgot to mention something. We flew out on United Airlines. It's hub is O'Hare. We're returning on Southwest Airlines. It's hub is Midway Airport.

Pisser, I know.

So when we land at Midway, the three of us have to hoof it to a cab and endure a $60 cab ride from Midway to O'Hare. The cabbie drops us off inside the parking lot at O'Hare, and we can finally get to our cars to return home.

I pull up in front of our house at 11:15pm, tired from a crazy afternoon. While getting back to Chicago proved to be a tad more difficult than had been planned, it never really got me upset. I knew that we would get home eventually. It just showed me again while I don't particularly like traveling. One little thing like a big storm can through everything out of whack.

The Spirit To Return To Comics

batman and the spiritThe San Diego Comic Book convention was last week. Usually an occasion for the announcement of all sorts of great comic book news, this year things seem to be pretty light. (Though, there arealways great photos that end up online from this event.) At least for stuff that interests me. Of all the news coming out of SDCC '06, only one item jumped out at me, and it's a big one.

Darwyn Cooke will have not one, but two Spirit projects coming out from DC Comics. Cooke and writer Jeph Loeb will create Batman / The Spirit and then Cooke will take on the chores of writing and illustrating a new Spirit monthly title.

I've always been a big fan of comic legend Will Eisner's crime fighting hero, The Spirit. I have some old reprints of his stories and collected the brief revival of the character in the late 90's by Kitchen Sink Press. Up to the point I've only seen Eisner do the character proper; but after seeing what Cooke did on last year's DC: New Frontier and some of his other works, I have a lot of confidence in what is coming down the pike for the Spirit.

My one reservation is with Jeph Loeb writing the Batman / Spirit team-up book. Loeb is a great writer for big, blockbuster type stories. Not sure how his style will fit with a character like The Spirit, whose stories tend to be more quirky and fun.

Regardless, both Loeb and Cooke are great professionals in my opinion. Guys who will do everything to make sure whatever project they are working on will entertain and style and class. I can't wait to see these books.

the spirit by darwyn cooke

July 19, 2005

Rest In Peace, Jim Aparo

Jim Aparo died this morning from complications of an illness at the age of 72.

Jim Aparo was one of the reat comic book artists of his time. He had a classic, almost iconic approach to his superhero artwork - much in the same fashion as Eduardo Barreto and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Aparo, Barreto, and Garcia-Lopez all drew superheroes how I think most people picture them in their heads. He didn't get as much press as some of the flashier artists, but he had a style that was clean and consistent and always delivered a great story.

I remember that when I got back into reading comics regularly in the late 80's, Aparo was the artist on Batman. I enjoyed his classic interpretation of the character. Sometimes it could have used a little more zing in my opinion, but I could not deny that Aparo consistently brought a sense of professionalism and solid craft to his work.

What's interesting about Aparo's career in comics is that he got to work on two of the biggest events surrounding the Batman in the comics. Aparo was the artist on the "Death in the Family" storyline in the mid-80's famous for killing off the second Robin (Jason Todd) as result of a phone in poll from fans. Aparo was also the artist on Batman in the 90's and handled the pivotal scene in the "Knightfall" storyline where Bane breaks Batman's back - effectively ending Bruce Wayne's career as the Caped Crusader (or at least for a few months). If for no other reason than his work on these two Batman stories, Aparo will always be linked to the Dark Knight. Of course he didn't need those two stories to solidify his spot in comic book history. He did years of great work on a number of different titles - superhero and other - that helped him leave a distinct mark in comics.

In fact, some would say that the cover art he did for the "Death in the Family" is one the most famous comic book images of all time.



While the man is gone, and will be greatly missed by his family, friends, and fans, we still have the work he left behind to remember him with.

More Looney Tunes

We all love the first Looney Tunes Golden Collection. Heather has been trying to secure volume 2 on eBay for a couple of months now. This fall, there will be one more Looney Tunes collection for us to acquire.

looney tunes vol 3

This collection has got some great cartoons, including "Hare Tonic" and "The House That Jack Built", plus more great documentaries and extras. You can read the full release list here.

Holy Cow!

Saw this in the Chicago Tribune today:
Seven exclusive ringtones featuring Caray are now available for Cingular Wireless customers. By downloading the ringtone from Cingularextras.com, customers can download such Caray classics as "Cubs Win! Cubs Win!," and "Holy Cow!"
I think that's great and a lot of fun. What will get me really interested in downloading some stuff for my phone is when I can get a Harry Caray voice to speak the names of the people who are calling me backwards.

July 18, 2005

The Art of George Rarey

George "Dad" Rarey was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. He was also a commercial artist and cartoonist. While serving his country overseas, he kept a sketchbook journal. While the EAA Museum in Oshkosh WI has a permanent installation of Rarey's artwork, his son Damon put together a website that showcases some of his father's wonderful sketches and drawings from when he began his tour in Europe up until he was killed in action a few weeks after D-Day.

Rarey artwork

Watch Out Mark Spitz

Ian is right behind you.

Ian Underwater

Comics As Comfort Food

Tim O'Neil, writer of the very popular comics-focused blog, The Hurting, has some interesting things to say about why DC Comics is winning market shareaway from Marvel at a quickening rate. (Actually, Tim always has very interesting things to say, which is why I, and a lot of other people, read him regularly).

Part of his argument for why DC is overtaking Marvel, is that DC has gotten back to making sure all of its core superhero titles are full of action and melodrama. A fairly simple plan that Marvel, according to Tim, is misfiring on.
At their most basic, superhero comic books are comfort food. While I don't doubt that most people can appreciate a good comic, what keeps the majority of readers coming into the stores week in and week out is not the good comics but the crappy comics, and for proof of this I direct you to a sales chart -- any sales chart will do. When Marvel brings out a new Secret War, people want to see two things only: action and melodrama. A bunch of goons in garish costumes wailing the tar out of each other, over-emoting at extraordinary volume, preferably with copious reference to past stories and subplots. They don't want to see a low-key study in pseudo-noir espionage, filled with naturalistic dialogue and quiet character bits.
What I love about this statement, is that within it lies the explanation of how both superhero comics and regular non-superhero comics can co-exist in the market. For many years now there have always been thosefans of comics who claim superhero books ruin the credibility of comics as a literary form. Despite the work of some creators in the superhero space (Alan Moore, Frank Miller, and Grant Morrision, to name a few), the anti-spandex comic fans claim that all the superdudes and superdudettes smacking each other month in and month out only damage the good name comics earn from works like Maus, From Hell, or Blankets.

My take has always been that comics are like television. There are great programs every once and a while that showcase how the medium can be used to tell compelling stories or entertain (NYPD Blue, Arrested Development) and thereis the rest (Full House, any "reality" show). But for all the SurrealLife's and Fear Factor's out there, it doesn't impact television on a whole. People understand that there is good and bad, and stuff in between. It all matters what they are looking for at a given time. Heather makes time to watch well writtenand well acted shows like Without a Trace, but she also enjoys vegging out to Road Rules / Real World: Celebrity Death Match of Terror in Cancun. It depends on what she's in the mood for.

Such is the case for comics. Most regular readers of comics can appreciate a good comic and will make time to find them and read them. The whole reason I read comics is for finding those books that fuse word and art together to deliver an intelligent entertainment experience unlike anything that can be found in the marketplace. But I also like some mindless fun "comfort food" in my comics. That's why I like reading Fables and Superman / Batman and believe there is room for both on the shelves.

Ball's Bridge

Saw this on Dave Barry's blog this morning and it made me laugh.

Emma Gets A Big Girl Bed

This past weekend I picked up a "big girl" bed for Emma. We purchased it through Heather's favorite place to shop - eBay. I drove out to Forest Park early Saturday morning and met Ryan at his condo. There he loaded an almost-new Serta mattress and a rather tired looking box spring into the back of our van. Heather got the whole set for around $80. After looking at the box spring, I figured we paid $80 for a slightly-used name-brand quality mattress and got a box spring for free. Still not a bad deal.

When I got everything home, Emma was beside herself with excitement. She was actually running around the house singing, "I got a new bed! I got a new bed!" I'd never seen her so excited and so animated about something before. It was a hoot.

Heather washed the princess sheets and pillowcase that she had purchased new through eBay a few months back, and after Emma took one last nap in her crib, I set to dismantling the old and setting up the new.

Emma was at my side constantly while I was breaking down the crib. But I think that was because she was expecting a big event to take place. When she had asked me how we were going to take the crib apart, I told her that we would be using dynamite. That I would be placing a bunch of explosives under her crib, would light it with a match, and then it would explode - blasting the crib into a million little piecesfor us to pick up. She thought that sounded cool.

Even though Heather tried to set her straight on what was actually going to happen, I think Emma was still holding out for the big explosion.

The bed went up, the sheets went on, and Emma couldn't get into the bed fast enough and then could hardy be dragged away from it. Nearly every activity for the rest of the day surrounded her new bed in some fashion. That night she went straight to bed, and for the first time in months Heather or I weren't called in by Emma to adjust a pillow or move a fan.She drifted off happily to sleep in her new princess bed.

It wasn't until last night - the third time going to sleep in her new bed - that Emma figured out that she could now just stand up and walk out of her room. No longer confined by the crib, Heatherand I found her out in the middle of the hall, ready to tell us that she was moving her giant yellow Care Bear up by where her pillow was so that she could sleep with it. Eventually she went to sleep, but still had a difficult time staying in bed. Twice we found her sleeping on the floor as a result of rolling out of her bed. She didn't seem any worse for the fall; in fact she continued to sleep right through it.

I know the excitement will eventually wear off, but for now it sure is a lot of fun watching her get all energizedabout sleeping in her new princess bed. Now, if we could only get her to stop insisting on only drinking milk from a baby bottle, everything will be set.

July 16, 2005

Ian's First Cubs Game

For the last year Ian has inquired continually about going to Wrigley Field. Even though he isn't a big baseball fan (yet), he apparently had developed a deep desire to go to the stadium where he saw the Cubs playing on TV.

cubs logoKnowing that Ian was going to be 6-years old this July, and wanting to be a good father, I made sure I fought my way through the hordes of fans and scalpers to acquire a tickets to a few home games this season. Originally I was going to take Ian in August. But when we got the new school schedule a month ago, we realized that the tickets I had for Ian's game fell on Ian's second day of school. Now, Heather is a big sports nut too, and she really wanted Ian to have an opportunity to go see the Cubs with his dad, but there was no way in Hell she was letting the boy skip the second day of school. Luckily, the game I had tickets to in April ended up a rainout and was rescheduled for July 14th. Problem solved. Ian could come with my on the 14th of July and I still have one more Cubs game to take in August.

Where It All HappensI wanted to give Ian the full Cubs experience. Make it a big adventure. Ian and I took the Metra train downtown to Union Station. Then we huffed it down Jackson to State Street to grab the red line up north. (I know I could have gotten on the brown line and transferred at Lake, but I'm not that familiar with the trains downtown. I went with simple.) Ian thought it was a kick that the red line started out a subway, but then went high up as an elevated train. Though, he was not too enamored with the crowded conditions on the train. We were packed in like sardines. Nothing like a 1:20pm Cubs game on a beautiful summer day to bring everyone out.

On the ride up north, I told Ian that when we got off at Addison we would be right there at Wrigley Field. After getting off the train we climbed down the stairs and went outside. Ian tried entering the first doorway we came across out on the street. It was for a bar or something. Then there was a rooftop place - he tried to go in there too. At this point I let him know that the stadium was right next to the train, that we had to walk about a block and then he would see it. At this point we came across a guy screaming, "I've got seats in the dugout. Who wants tickets to sit in the dugout!"

Ian turned to me and asked, "Dad, do you have tickets?"

"Don't worry Ian," I said, "I've got tickets."

The ViewWe decided to eat lunch inside Wrigley. Ian got a jumbo soft pretzel and I had a bratwurst. We both washed them down with Pepsis. Then it was off to find out seats. I had gotten us some seats down along the 3rd base line, out in the outfield. Essentially a few rows back from where Steve Bartman was sitting a few years back. They were pretty good seats. You have a nice view of the whole field. We ended up being in the shade most of the day, so it made things very comfortable.

The Cubs played very well behind Mark Prior's pitching. We even got a few homeruns. It was a good game. It didn't hold Ian's interest very much, but I expected that. When he watches the Cubs with me at home, he usually only sits for an inning or two. So naturally, Ian got a little restless at the stadium. But we found ways to make things fun. I pointed out funny things in the stands, tried to teach him a little more about baseball, and of course we got some snacks. The seventh inning stretch was great fun for Ian. Bill Buckner was there to sing, and Ian really got a kick out of standing up and singing along with the 38,000 other people in the stands. It also helped that we had already purchased a souvenir with money his grandfather had given him - a giant foam Cubs claw that you wear on you hand. It's kinda like a foam finger, but as Heather pointed out later, "A lot more fun!"

We decided to leave in the eighth inning. The Cubs were up 5 - 1, and the Pittsburgh Pirates weren't putting up any fight. We grab a train back south that was much less crowded and afforded Ian a better sightseeing opportunity. And even caught an express train back to Aurora. It made for a full day. I wasn't surprised when Ian fell asleep on the Metra train that evening.

IanI'm not sure if the trip lived up to Ian's expectations or not. I know he still prefers going to the Kane Country Cougars stadium to "watch" baseball, but that's because they have a kids play area and do all sorts of goofiness between innings. But Heather pointed out to me while we were talking later that night, that if I make this a regular thing - Dad and Ian going to a Cubs game (or two) every summer - then this could turn into one of those good memories Ian has of being a kid. As he gets older he'll appreciate the game and the experience of going to Wrigley more, and it will be more fun each year. I really hope that is what it becomes and I'm glad that I got it started this summer.

New Photos

In attempt to get new photos up on the site more quickly, I've decided to start using Flickr.com to store and host my photos. I already use it to store and server random little images. I think I should be able to get things up online a little faster, plus it will save me some web server space.

So, you can now go to the Photos section and check out 4th of July photos and photos from Ian's first Cubs game.

Emma Enjoys Flags and CandyBack Home After the Game

July 15, 2005

Pee Goal

pee goal

Yep, it's exactly what you think it is. Try and score a goal while you release all the beer you rented for the last two hours.

viliv P1 - Video iPod

viliv P1Out of Korea might be coming this little ditty: the viliv P1. A personal media player which certainly reminds me of an iPod. It reportedly will come with a 20GB hard drive, have a click wheel (like the iPod) for navigation, have a 4-inch screen and play all sorts of audio and video. It will even have an FM-tuner and FM-transmiter to boot.

No idea if it will ever be sold in the States, but it sure looks wicked cool.

Keep Marshall Field's In Chicago

On Wednesday, shareholders of Federated Stores, Inc. voted to approve the takeover of May Co., parent of Marshall Field’s stores. Since this deal was announced, fears have developed that Federated would drop the Marshall Field's name in favor of possibly Macy's. They've done it before.

Marshall Field's has been a mainstay in Chicago for over a hundred and twenty years. It just wouldn't be Chicago without a Marshall Field's store downtown or Field's commercials running on TV at Christmas time. It's part of what makes Chicago, Chicago. It's because of this that I thought the fears were unfounded. But comments by Federated’s CEO Terry J. Lundgren do raise a little concern. When asked about whether he’d keep the Field’s name, Lundgren responded:
"Certainly Marshall Field's is a very well-known, strong name. But the real answer is not with us in this room. It's really with what customers actually will do with that name and how important it is."

That sounds like he's leaving an opening to justify coming in and tearing down the clock in the front of the State St. Marshall Field's store.

Our friends at the Chicagoist, who I got this little news factoid from, suggest we all write letters to Mr. Lundgren to make it clear to him that we want the Field's name to remain. Chicagoist suggests good old-fashioned paper letters carry more weight - figuratively and literary. So get those pencils sharpened and dig out some stamps:

Mr. Terry J. Lundgren
Chairman, President and CEO
Federated Department Stores, Inc.
7 West Seventh St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Women Rule DVR

A recently commissioned study revealed that women use DVRs as much, if not more, than men. In fact, 48% of married women in the survey said that the decision to purchase the DVR was the own - not their husband's.

I know Heather has been the one driving the DVR discussion in our house. While I think it's fasinating technology, I watch so little TV now that I don't really think about buying in to the DVR rage. I know Heather sees how DVRs would simplify being able to let the kids watch certain shows on demand instead of fumbling with tapes or being held captive to the whims of the station's programming. I know we will eventually get one. It's simply a matter of time.

And Now, The Cleveland Connection

When I lived in Cleveland, me and some other guys would always poke fun at the local news media whenever a major national event happened. The local TV news programs were the worst for it, but pretty much everybody tried to make a "Cleveland Connection" to what was happening on the national scene.

I understand the intent. Connect the larger national story to something local, something closer to home that will be easier to relate to. However, more often than not it was such a stretch that it became laughable.

Case in point. The following was taken from the NewsChannel5 website (a television station in Cleveland, OH):
One of the four London bombing suspects apparently had ties to northeast Ohio, NewsChannel5 reported.

WEWS was told that Germaine Lindsay, a Jamaican-born British citizen's mother, lives in Cleveland.

Lindsay visited Cleveland just two years ago. His mother no longer lives in Cleveland, however.
Later, when I moved back to Chicago, I noticed that the Chicago newsmedia was just as guilty of partaking in this lame practice. It's still funny though.

July 14, 2005

Bubbles and Bubbles and Bubbles and Bubbles . . .

Emma sure loves to spin and make bubbles.

Pay close attention to her footwork. The girl is gonna be in the circus someday.

emma bubbles

(Before anyone says anything - yes, the sprinkler doesn't seem to be helping the lawn much. Back off. I'm not spending a small fortune just so I can have green grass. It'll grow back.)

July 13, 2005

Imaginary Forces

Imaginary Forces finally got people to pay attention to them (I think) when they created the creepy open sequence for the movie Se7en many years back. Since then they have gone on to make some fantastic openings for films like Mission Impossible, Spider-Man, Hellboy, some award winning commercials, and even televsion opening credits like the one for the tragically underappreciated Boomtown.

They've also taken on the task of animating the new DC Comics logo to be used before the start of Batman Begins (which I still have to see!).

Whether you check out they're uber-cool opening sequences or their other animation, you will certainly be impressed with the creative power behind this entertainment and design agency.

dc comics logo

Da' Coach Schools Councilmen on the Law

ditkaDa' Coach, Mike Ditka, went before the Chicago City Council the other day to speak out against a proposal being considered that would ban smoking inside almost all public places in Chicago, from bars and restaurants to train platforms. Needless to say he thinks the pending law is a bunch of hogwash. Luckily the Chicago Tribune there to capture some of Da' Coach's little pearls of wisdom as he was laying them on the City Council:
On the effects of a ban: "You're going to erode the whole basis of your business. People are going to say, 'You know what, I can save $500. Let me cook a couple steaks on the grill, get my own bottle of wine for $49, and I'll smoke a cigar wherever I want to.' "

On the hypocrisy of the idea: "If it's a non-smoking ban, ban all smoking everywhere. In the house, on the street, everywhere. Get rid of it all ... let's go get 'em! If you want to do it, do it right."

On government intrusion: "I wouldn't impose my will on anybody, believe me. I can give up smoking cigars tomorrow ... today if I wanted to. But when I want to smoke one, I want to smoke one. That really bugs me when someone says, 'God darn you're in America, but you can't do this stuff.' ... These laws are laws that have been implemented after the fact by man, they're not naturally laws of God."
God bless him. He should be the next Mayor of Chicago.

Go With What Works

Now here's a guy who just doesn't know when to ease up when he's on a roll.

AP - OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Holloday has a familiar face -- at least to tellers at one downtown Oakland bank. Police say he robbed the same bank four times between March 9 and May 23, but on his fifth attempt this month, a teller recognized him and alerted another co-worker who had been robbed previously by Holloday.

The two confronted the man, who panicked and fled, Oakland police Sgt. George Phillips. He was arrested a short time later on a street not far from the Summit Bank, the evidence -- a demand note -- still in his pocket.

"He was a creature of habit," Phillips said. "He had a penchant for doing the same bank over and over."

Holloday also is a suspect in at least seven San Francisco bank robberies, including one branch he allegedly hit five times, authorities said.

What Are They Thinking

A news story from Idaho reports on a 10-year old boy who died after hanging himself from a tree as part of game or sorts. Referred to everything from "pass-out game" to "fainting game," the activity involves cutting off the oxygen flow to the brain just enough to create a type of high. It is considered safer and cheaper than drugs and alcohol for achieving a good buzz.

What's ironic is that I had completely forgotten about this game until I read this story. There used to be kids who would play this at lunch time when I was in middle school. It was just called "passing out," but one kid would put the other kid into a choker hold until the kids started to black out. Then let him go. I saw them playing once and immediately walked away. It just wasn't something I wanted to do, let alone be around kids who were playing it.

It still amazes me now, as it did back in middle school, the people would voluntarily do something like that to themselves. Why put yourself in harms way just for a cheap and quick buzz. It just seems so dumb. Our kids seem to exhibit the same sense of self-preservation that Heather and I had as youngsters, so I'm not immediately scared of Ian falling into a crowd playing some variation of the "pass-out game," but that doesn't mean I don't plan to talk to him about the danger of this and other destructive behavior.

July 12, 2005

Let The Cultural Sanitation Continue

Willie Nelson is putting out an album of his songs re-recorded as reggae tunes. Apparently it's been in the work for a long time, but Willie has finally gotten it finished and out the door.

If Willie Nelson singing reggae isn't trippy enough for you, listen to what the record label is doing with the album cover art. Because the cover is suppose to have a design that incorporates marijuana leaves. But in order to get the record past Wal-Mart censorship police, the record company is giving Wal-Mart an album with a completely different cover design.

willie nelson reggae

Those bastards.

No Work Time Was Wasted Writing This Post

Salary.com and America Online conducted a survery of 10,000 employees. What they found is that on average 2.09 hours per day were spent doing things other than work. (This didn't include lunch, too)

The industry that fretted away the most of their day was the Insurance sector, spending 2.5 hours per day doing things other than tinkering with deductibles. And apparently Missouri's slogan should be changed to " The Show Me That Cool Website Again State." Missourians spent the most time not working - 3.2 hours per person per day.

The article makes an interesting point. The average length of the workday has steadily increased over the years. So naturally if people are spending more time at the office they are going to need more break time at some point. You can't stay focused on things for nine / ten hours. I know I crap out in the afternoon. It's good to step back and read some blogs or check out Amazon for a little bit. It helps you come back fresh to what you were working on.

Lets Give Bloggar A Try

Back at work with a Windows machine, so lets see if I've set up Bloggar correctly.

Happy Roger Ebert Day

roger ebertIn June, Roger Ebert received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. To honor the long time Chicago movie critic, Mayor Richard Daley has declared July 12, 2005 "Roger Ebert Day in Chicago."

(Like ripping up an airfield in the middle of the night, Richie Daley can just do things like that. He's the mayor after all. He has all of Chicago's best inerests in mind)

July 12, is also the start of Chicago Outdoor Film Festival in Grant Park. Usually the films are selected by fellow movie critic Richard Roper, but as a tribut to Ebert, Roper has asked him to select all the films that will be playing.

I'm happy for Mr. Ebert. He's a nice guy who is passionate about film and wants to share that passion with everyone. I don't know if Richie thought up of some way for everyone in the city to celebrate Roger Ebert Day, but I think I'll try and watch a movie.

July 11, 2005

One Down, A Whole Bunch To Go

Got the first day back at work under my belt without too much of a problem. Things went very smoothly. It was almost like I wasn't out of work for almost two months - even the ads in Union Station hadn't changed since I was there in May.

Things are always slow at first. You want to be doing more, but you're not sure what to be doing. You're somewhat reliant on others to get you things or set you up so you can get started. It's a very helpless feeling in a sort of way. I know things will change and I'll be back up to my eyeballs in work. So really, there's no rush.

Did some orientation. Got a feel for the office. Had my first large staff meeting. Played around with my new computer.

The biggest adjustment right now is having to work on a laptop. I haven't done that at all in the ten years I've been working. Sure I've used laptops from time to time, but my main work has always been done on a desktop. It's quite a change to start working with the little screen and cramped keyboard. About five years ago I had some trouble with tendonitis in my right wrist and elbow. It concerns me that working with the laptop eight, nine hours a day may re-aggravate it. I'll need to take the necessary steps to make sure that don’t happen.

Otherwise, things are off to a good start. Now let's see how the next few weeks go.

All-Star Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder

For the past few months I've talked about the upcoming Frank Miller and Jim Lee collaboration over at DC Comics. As part of DC Comics new All-Star line, they take comic creator big shots and put them on the biggest characters in the DC Universe. First up are Miller and Lee doing Batman and Robin.

I’ve been looking forward to this quite a bit. I admire and enjoy both Miller’s and Lee’s work a great deal. It’s no mystery that I think Frank Miller is one of the finest comic book creators to ever put pen to paper.

Their series, Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder will start this month. Below is the final artwork for the cover. I had displayed some of Lee’s pencils for the cover a few months ago, but here is the finished product.

While Scott Williams inks and Alex Sinclair’s colors really make the cover pop, I don’t think I care too much for the sweeping 3-D title text. I think the rest of the title treatment with the creator’s names and the DC logo work; it’s just how they handled the actual title to the book that irks me. What do you think?

all-star batman and robin

Caught In Lie? America Won't Care

While I don't think it will happen, I hope that Karl Rove will get his ass handed to him after the recent disclosure that Rove had spoken with Matthew Cooper of Time magazine concerning Valerie Plame, the undercover CIA operative whose identity was leaked.

If you read what was said between Rove and Cooper in emails, it's clear Rove doesn't name her specifically, but he could still end up in trouble for simply talking about an undercover agent in the manner in which he did.

Ultimately though, I don't think the majority of the American public will care much about what happens here. When it comes to government issues, no matter how the press tries to sexy it up, this will always be swamped by the lingering war in Iraq. As well it should be.

This story is about what one man might have done to endanger the life of one woman. The war in Iraq continues to take lives every day and will continue to do so until a clear plan for wrapping up this operation is presented and executed upon.

July 09, 2005

Much Better Plan

Last month I talked about the importance of cleaning out any rabbits that die in your basement window wells right away, especially considering the horrible heat we are having. Today I had the opportunity to not only follow my own advice, but take things a step further.

bunny in the holeThis morning while pulling out the hose and sprinkler to water the lawn and trees a bit during the time the current water restrictions allow in Aurora, I inadvertently startled a little baby bunny. Apparently it was hiding underneath the garden hose caddie and when I started pulling the hose the little guy made a run for it. He ran straight for the deep window well - or as it is referred in hushed tones by the rabbits in our neighborhood, "The Widow Maker" - but stopped short of jumping over the edge. I hoped that it if I walked around the far edge of the window well I could scare the bunny back towards the deck and eventual safety. Unfortunately as soon as I started to walk he jumped and tumbled right into the waiting chasm.

Great, I thought, now I was going to have to wait for it to die before I could scoop him out. And it was suppose to get so hot this weekend.

But then I had another thought. I could save the bunny. Help it live and not die. I could pull the little bunny out and not have to worry about flinging a dead bunny carcass into a garbage bag at ten o'clock at night. This being kind to animals thing could have an upside.

Because I didn't want to have to put a whole lot of effort into my rescue effort, my first attempt at extraction was to lower the cat carrier down to the bottom of the window well with a carrot in it. My theory: bunny smells carrot and goes into box, I yank up box, bunny goes free, and my wife and daughters think I'm a super-dad for saving the little bunny.

After about forty-five minutes I realized that this probably wasn't going to work any time soon. If flipping and falling into the window well scared half the crap out of the bunny, then lowering the box scared the rest of the crap out of the little guy. I could have loaded that box up with a bag of carrots and cheap bunny prostitutes and gotten the same effect. Nothing was getting that bunny out of his corner.

I realized I was going to have to get in close and grab the bunny with hands. It was the only way that bunny was coming out.

brendan: rabbit rescueI didn't want to go into the basement, open the window and try to grab the bunny that way. One, it would have meant moving a bunch of stuff in the basement. Not something I wanted to take on just to save the soul of one wayward scamp. Two, I didn't like the idea of then walking through the house holding a scared bunny. Heather would have been all nervous that something would go wrong, the kids would be screaming, the cat would be going bonkers - okay, that's pretty much what every day is like here at our house. But add a live bunny to the mix inside the house and we would be hitting circus atmosphere levels the heights of which have never been seen before. Therefore I decided to simply jump down into the window well with a towel and grab our little long-eared friend.

I grabbed a towel, put on some gloves and dropped down into the hole. The space was cramped but I could maneuver fairly well. The bunny could maneuver very well. He was jumping all over the place. After a few failed attempts I managed to get him covered with the towel with my hands fully around him. I quickly lifted him upward and sort of tossed him back out into the yard.

If the terror of first falling into "The Widow Maker", having a huge red box with a carrot inside it descend from the heavens, and then have a guy in sunglasses trying to grab you in a ratty brown towel was terrifying enough, imagine what was going through the bunny's head when he hit the grass to find himself surrounded by Heather, Emma, and Zoe, all of who screamed "THE BUNNY!!!" (Of course, Zoe didn't scream "THE BUNNY!!!" she just kinda screamed. But still, it added to the experience.)

The bunny quickly scurried away and eventually found it's way under the deck. Later in the afternoon we saw it out in the yard with its mom (or dad, who knows?), so we assume everything is right with the bunny's world. It was an exciting morning for everyone, and the best part is I don't have to play rabbit morgue attendant on garbage day.

bunny is free

It's Good To Have Goals

Skateboarder Clears Great Wall of China

July 08, 2005

Birthday Gift Idea

My birthday is only 4 month away. In October Target will be selling this exclusive LEGO Star Wars Episode III set with both Obi_Wan's and Anakin's starfighters in it - not to mention some of the bad-guy ships. That's pretty neat. Hint, hint . . .

Getting To Know The Future Me

I already know enough about the past me, I thought it would be nice to get in touch with the future me. Find out what I'm like a few years from now. See how the new job turns out. What the kids will be like. But how to do this? Luckily the answer can be found, as always, on the web.

FutureMe.org

I've already sent off a number of emails and am now patiently waiting their return.

Jim Lee - Iron Chef

Comic artist extraordinaire Jim Lee and his other cronies at the Son of Gelatometti blog regularly have "Iron Chef" contests were one of the artists from Jim Lee's blog group goes up against an outside challenger. The rules: a theme for a picture is chosen, and then each artist has an hour to draw, ink and post the image to the blog. Then the readers vote on which one is better. They've been doing this for about nine months now, but Lee has never stepped into the artist's kitchen to take on a challenger - until tonight.

For his debut match he is taking on J. Scott Campbell - a comic artist with almost as big a following as Mr. Lee has. You can check out the two entries here: Jim Lee vs. J. Scott Campbell. Then vote by leaving a comment under the artist's entry.

Meanwhile, I'll leave you with another Jim Lee creation that he recently posted to the blog. Why do I re-publish an image that Jim Lee has already made available in his own blog? Cause I like see Jim Lee artwork when I look at my blog.

jim lee DC Comics trinity

A Story We Can All Relate To

450 Sheep Jump to Their Deaths in Turkey

Make My Own Lightsaber

custome lightsaberThis is so cool. Ian showed it to me the other day. Hasbro is putting out a kit that allows you to build and customize your very own toy lightsaber. You can make it a Jedi saber or a Sith saber. You can make it blue or green. Whatever you want. You can even change things up if you get tired of one configuration and want to try another one.

This would be so much fun.

One of the best parts of this Star Wars toy news is that my almost six-year old son found this online and showed it to me. Ian is becoming quite the skilled computer user and Internet expert. It's fun to watch him learn and explore using the computer (he does more than search out Star Wars toys), and up to this point he continue follow the rules that Heather and I have put in place to keep him safe online. Obviously when he starts using email, IM, or some of the other emerging communication technologies on the web we'll have to put in place some other rules, but for now I'm going to sit back enjoy getting Star Wars news fed to me by my first grader.

Sippable Sundaes

sippable sundaeLast night my Aunt Kathy and Mary came over to take the kids - all three of them - to Chuck E. Cheese. Heather and I went out to catch a movie and spend a little time together sans children. We didn't have time to sit down for a meal before the movie, so instead we went to Steak n' Shake to try one of their new sippable sundae milk shakes.

We only ate the food at Steak n' Shake once and were not too impressed with its quality. However, the hand-dipped milk shakes were definitely worth future trips. It's the only reason we continue to patronize the restaurant. We'd seen the ads about the new sippable sundaes recently and decided that with a limited amount of time before the movie, a huge Steak N' Shake milk shake would fill us up nicely until we could get something to eat after the flick.

I got the double-chocolate fudge and Heather got the peanut butter fudge. It really was like eating a sundae through a straw. With every sip I got chocolate milk shake and hot fudge. Sure, the fudge clogged up the straw from time to time, but that was fixed easily enough. Overall, it great getting to essentially drink a sundae. I want to go back to give the turtle sundae and cheesecake sundae shakes a try.

July 06, 2005

Nothing To Say - Really

I know it's been a few days since my last post. I've just been busy around the house and frankly; I haven't felt like writing much. A bit of writer's block I guess.

The 4th of July was a good one. We went to a parade in the morning. Aurora puts on a pretty good parade that Ian has really enjoyed in the past. This year Emma got into things more than she had in the past, so I figure we'll be going to parades on the 4th of July for many years to come. Especially if people keep throwing candy like they do. (On a side note, I don't remember a whole lot of candy being thrown when I went to parades as a kid. When did it become mandatory for nearly every group walking in a parade to shower everyone with Tootsie Rolls?)

I've been working pretty hard to get many of the things I had planned on getting done while off of work wrapped up in the few remaining days I have. It's amazing how over a month ago I thought I would have all sorts of time to complete a long list of projects around the house. Now I'm feeling the time crunch to just get a fraction of those items scratched off the list.

Heather and I finally exchanged anniversary gifts earlier this week. We had decided to hold off until we saw how my job search was going. It was kinda hard to wait - being the 10th anniversary and all, but we did it. I presented her with a modest little diamond bracelet. She had an iPod for me. Perfect gifts, in my opinion. Later this summer we'll open the account to start socking away cash for the big 15th anniversary trip. In 2010 the kids will all be old enough that we'll be able to leave them for an extended amount of time. Who knows, maybe my sister and brother-in-law will have recovered from the weekend they watched our kids a few weeks ago to take them on again. The plan right now is to spend a week in Ireland.

I really haven't gotten to play with the iPod much - and that irks me to no end. One, like I said, I've been spending all day knocking out little chores I've set up for myself. Two, I want to get some of CD's ripped into my iTunes before I sync things up for the first time. Pulling music from own CD's isn't something I've done yet in iTunes. All I've got there now are MP3's I "acquired" back in the day and some music I've bought from the iTunes music store. I want to round things out so I can have a nice mix to play with on my iPod. My plan is to have things up and going before I head off to work on Monday, July 11th.

One other thing I mean to get done before too long is get some new photos up on the site. We’ve got some great ones from our trip miniature golfing, goofing around the house, and out at Heather’s parent’s house in Ohio.

Otherwise I don’t have a lot to say. I know that to overcome writer’s block, one of the suggested remedies is to just force yourself to put some words down. Eventually things get moving again. I am hoping that this post has just such an effect.

July 03, 2005

Liquid Man

This is trippy. Found it on Boing Boing. You have to take a look.

Liquid Man

Adam Koford

I found out about the great artwork created by Adam Koford from the Drawn! blog. Now, hopefully, you can experience Adam's artwork for yourself by the fact you visited my blog.

More Atticus Is Good Thing

Was just reading online that one of this blog's favorite authors, Greg Rucka, has signed with Bantam Dell for three more thrillers, "including a new book in the Atticus Kodiak series in which Atticus is coerced by the U.S. government into tracking down and neutralizing several "persons of interest," plus two other novels.

I'm a huge fan of Rucka's writing, and particularly enjoy his Atticus Kodiak novels. After the last Kodiak novel about three years ago, I thought Rucka might be done with the character. Good to hear that he has another Kodiak story in him that he wants to tell. I look forward to reading it when it's published.