October 31, 2005

Try, Try, Again

Heather has got a funny story about our daughter Emma taking over the task of dressing herself in the morning.

Here's a snippet: "This time her underwear was on, but she had one leg through the waist, one through the other leghole, and around her waist was the other leghole!"

Read the whole entry over at Heather's blog.

Happy Halloween

jack o lanternHappy Halloween everyone.

A couple of years ago I wouldn't have given Halloween much more than a passing thought, but with three kids it's now a major holiday. I've actually watched Ian's anticipation and excitement grow over the last few weeks as he counted down the days until October 31st.

So this afternoon I'll be cutting out of work earlier so I can get home in time to help out with the army of children (and adults) who will be looking for candy from out house this evening. Ian and Emma are very excited, to say the least. They're already planning out their evening: go trick-or-treating, come home and count candy, eat, and enjoy.

I'm a little concerned for Zoe. She's right at that age where she is fully in "stranger danger" mode where anyone other than Heather and I is met with a great amount of skepticism. A parade of kids all dressed in goofy and scary costumes this afternoon is probably going to get her all worked up. I think Heather and I are just planning on holding her most the evening. It will be the only way to keep her comforted.

And because I have complained about it here in my blog for the last two or three years, I won't gripe about the huge amount of kids who are bused into our neighborhood - I kid you not - to trick-or-treat. Like we have nothing better to do than buy a bunch of candy to give to teenagers from two miles . . . . ah, ah, ah. I'm not going to do it. We've got our cheap candy and out good candy, and Heather and I are clear on the "handing out" rules. I'll leave it at that.

Of course Heather and I will get some photos tonight. I'll try to get what I can up on the site tomorrow or Wednesday.

Happy Halloween.

October 28, 2005

Sox Parade

I was there.

sox parade


I was standing about 50 people deep on Monroe, but I was there for the parade. Got covered in black and white paper that was falling from the sky. Saw all the players - though I could only make out Paul Konerko, Jenks and Jeremaine Dye for sure. I cheered for them when they went by.

Sure, I'm a Cubs fan. But how often do you get to go to a ticker tape parade in the middle of Chicago?

Exactly.

Batusi Cover Controversy

I have been picking up issues of DC's Solo series here and there - mostly when the artist is someone I really enjoy. Last week the most recent issue of Solo came out featuring the work of Mike Allred. I had actually pre-ordered this one knowing that I would love to see Allred's trippy comic storytelling. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but it looks like a lot of fun. Just flipping through the pages it is clear that his inspiration for the material he included in this issue of Solo came from his first experiences with the DC universe as a kid in the late 60s and early 70s.

Little did I know of the controversy surrounding the book. Apparently DC Comics was not too keen on Allred's original cover - the one showing an Adam West-ish Batman doing the Batusi. According to comments from Allred I read over at The Beat, Allred wasn't allowed to use the Batman cover and had to come up with something else. DC Comics likes to

Allred doesn't seem to bent out of shape by the switch, but I sure would have loved to have seen Batman grooving on the cover of the comic.

solo covers

Don't Tell Heather

Yesterday morning I ran out of my deodorant. There's more in the hall closet where we keep such toiletries, but when I got out of the shower this morning I realized that I had forgotten to get a new package of SpeedStick.

The closet in question is right outside the bedroom Ian and Emma share. They like to sleep with the door open. I didn't want to risk waking any of the kids up, so I pulled out one of Heather's packages of deodorants and took care of business.

(Just stop. No husband or wife out there can't tell me they haven't done the exact same thing at sometime in the past. It's just deodorant.)

The problem is this - I smell really froo-frooie. I've cheated in the past and in a pinch slipped on a little of Heather's deodorant, but I've never remember smelling so much like a field of fresh flowers before. I'm sitting here at work thinking I've got bags of potpourri in my armpits. I even went to the bathroom and scrubbed my armpits with some paper towels. No dice.

October 27, 2005

World Champion White Sox

World Champion White Sox

World Champion White Sox


Let's just enjoy this for a while, shall we?

October 26, 2005

My Halloween Costume

Ian's gonna be Darth Vader. Emma is going to be Scooby-Doo or a Princess/Fairy/Ballerina. Zoe is going as whatever we dress her in.

I've never been one for dressing up for Halloween, but I found the perfect costume this year.

ipod costume

Killer. I know.

October 25, 2005

No Ghost Kitties For Me, Thank You

Note to self: if I ever need a place to stay in Raliegh, North Carolina, don't stay at the new Hampton Inn.

Pet cemetery dug up to clear way for Hampton Inn

RALEIGH -- Five years ago, Candi the wiener dog went to her grave with an elaborate pink marker and warm wishes for the afterlife.

Last week, Blase Kaauamo dug up her plastic casket and set it on the grass. The dachshund's body is just one of 500 buried animals that Kaauamo must transport out of Pet Rest Cemetery.

"I think she was brown," mused the gravedigger, brow sweaty.

After 35 years, the Pet Rest Cemetery in far northwest Raleigh has succumbed to development -- perhaps a Hampton Inn, owner Steve Rogers said.
You start diggin' up cemeteries, you're just asking for troubles. The new Hampton Inn is going to have little cat and dog ghosts all over the place. Mr. Whiskers will be roaming the halls on the 9th floor. Sparky's disembodied head will be floating above the ice machine on 6. And room 514 will forever smell like dog shit. I'll stay away, thank you.

Way To Go Sox

white sox logoI didn't get to turn on the World Series until late - around the fourth inning. It was just in time to see someone from the Astros hit a homerun to put them up 4 - 0 over the Sox.

(Though, after watching the replays a few times it was clear that the ball actually stayed in play. The umpire blew the call, and for the first time in the postseason it went against the Sox)

No matter though. That was followed up with an explosion of runs from the Sox in the top of the fifth. A good thing indeed. I hate to jinx things, but it certainly looks like the Sox are going to own the Astros in this series. It's looking like the Sox will hang on for the victory tonight, and even if the Astros come back and win tomorrow or even tonight, I'm getting the feeling this just might be the Sox's year.

It might not be enough for me to go out and fill out this form, but having a World Series champion in Chicago is still a pretty cool thing.

Go Sox!

Looking For Something Good To Read?

Time Magazine, in the wake of listing the top 100 books from 1923 to the present, now give us the list of the best graphic novels to date.

Certainly, Watchmen makes the list, but the other books are also all fasinating in their own right.

October 24, 2005

The Ghost of Shoeless Joe

The more I watch of the Chicago White Sox's march through the post season, the more I begin to think that there is something "otherly" helping the men in back along the way.

The safe at first call in game two of the ALCS?

Craig Biggio dropping what should have been a certain catch in the second inning last night?

Jermaine Dye getting first base when the umpire thought the pitch hit Dye - not the bat?

Scott Podsednik hitting a home run in the bottom of the 9th?

I tell ya, someone is helping them out. My guess is the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson. But then again, it could be this guy, my brother-in-law:

Soxman


In any case, it sure is making things exciting and interesting.

October 21, 2005

I Found My Baby Shower Gift . . .

. . . for when (if?) my sister and her new husband have kids.

crocheted Yoda ears

Sox Fan #1 Says It's Okay

white sox logoMayor Richie Daley, Sox Fan #1, says it's okay for Cubs fans to jump on the bandwagon.

Mayor Daley is asking Cub fans to join in the Sox-cess as well.

He recalled Monday that he encouraged Sox fans to support the Cubs two years ago when the North Siders were in the playoffs.

"Now I ask Cub fans to return the favor and get behind our South Siders,'' Daley said. "They're an exciting team. They have great chemistry. And they're representing the greatest city in the nation.'


Seriously, if this can happen:

sox on wrigley field sign


Then I think we can all get along and support the Sox. I might even dust off my White Sox baseball hat I've had since high school.

It's Like Being a Missionary At a Leper Colony

Everyone at home is sick - except me.

Sneezing, coughing, runny noses - they surround me the second I walk in the house at night. We have as many balled up tissues at the dinner table as we have items for the meal. When they are all sleeping, between the sound of the vaporizers and the clogged nasal passages, it sounds like a wind tunnel. But it smells like cherry Halls cough drops.

Have you ever helped a three-year old blow her nose? It's funny and frustrating at the same time. How do you teach someone how to blow their nose? Do people just figure it out on their own at a certain age? Ian and Emma push tissues all over their face and make these ridiculous noises with their nose. Is anything coming out? I have no frickin' clue. But for as bad as their coughs get two days after the running noses, I'm thinking most of the gunk goes down into their lungs.

Somehow, though, I have escaped the wrath of this cold. I'd like to think it's my clean living and positive attitude. It's probably just luck combined with the fact that I'm away from the house for 12 hours a day and when I am home I move around too much for any germ to stick. Just to be on the safe side, today I went and had me a good bleeding. Nothing helps the body stay fresh like a good bleeding every few months.

Tonight I'll go home and enter the den of disease once again. It's going to be 48 hours trapped with these sick people, but I'm confident that I'll come out clean.

October 20, 2005

More Expensive Train Ride?

Metra, the commuter train service I use to get to and from work every day, is considering raising the rate to ride the train by about 5%. This would take my monthly unlimited ride pass from $121.50 to about $127. Not a whole lot when you consider the amount of money I save on gas and parking (not to mention sanity) but not driving downtown to work every day.

Frankly, I've been expecting this to happen. Metra doesn't raise their rates very often. The last time fares went up was in 2002, and then it was only the fourth time in 21 years that the commuter rail service had done so. With the huge jump in oil prices over the last two months, I saw an increase in Metra fares a foregone conclusion.

The Metra board votes on Friday, and if approved the increase would go into effect February 2006. From the Tribune article, it sounds like some of the board members are reluctant to vote the increase; wondering if the extraordinary fuel prices might come down between now and February 2006. I however, figure they will raise the increase. If they don't now, and fuel prices remain where they're at (or go higher!), Metra will be in a huge pinch. But like I said, it really doesn't matter to me. The price increase is nominal enough considering the savings I receive over using my car every day.

Can This Be Stopped?!

Somebody shoot me now - Heather wants to become a crazy bingo lady.

October 19, 2005

Wedding Photos - Finally!

It's taken a while, but we're finally getting some of the photos we ordered from my sister's wedding back in April.

I was a little concerned with the rather unconventional outfits Patrick (my new brother-in-law) had chosen for us to wear in the wedding, but seeing the full-color prints now, I guess he knows his stuff. We looked pretty damn cool.

i have no idea where this photo came from

That's Freaky Looking

Caulkicephalus trimicrodon


A handout image released October 18, 2005 shows an artist's impression of a new species of flying pterosaur, the Caulkicephalus trimicrodon, remains of which were discovered three years ago on a beach on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England. Luis Rey/University of Portsmouth/Handout

Worthy of the Recognition

warchmen coverTime Magazine recently published what they are calling the 100 greatest English language novels from 1923 to the present. They don't put them in order, but one of the titles they choose is Alan Moore's and Dave Gibbons' 1986 comic book opus, Watchmen. An idea that sits pretty well with me.

I think that's a pretty big achievement and a testament of how comics are being viewed by the larger literary establishment. No longer are comics being immediately dismissed as mindless fodder for little kids. People are beginning to recognize that some of the best modern literature is coming out of places other than regular prose books. Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, Warren Ellis - these guys and others are creating works that are complex and intelligent pieces of literature. Twenty-five years from now, who knows how the 100 best novels list will look. Maybe Craig Thompson's Blankets or Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim will have made the list.

October 18, 2005

Is This A Good Thing or Bad Thing?

As reported by Terry Armour in the Chicago Tribune

The White Sox have a theme song. Steady yourselves. The Sox have adopted Journey's 1981 hit "Don't Stop Believin'" as their postseason rallying cry, with A.J. Pierzynski blaring the tune in the clubhouse after the team's American League pennant-clinching victory over the Angels on Sunday. The players also sang the tune on the flight home from Anaheim. Now the Sox have invited former Journey frontman Steve Perry to Chicago as a guest for Game 1 of the World Series Saturday at the Cell. "A.J. said, `We've got to get this guy to the World Series,'" Sox vice president of communications, Scott Reifert, told the Tribune. "Now we're just trying to see what we can do and how we can do it."

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

I've noticed that I've been writing a lot of comic reviews lately. This was something I used to do with much more regularity in the past, but I seem to have dropped off in doing in the last few months. I really should work harder on reversing this trend. Writing about the comics that I am reading and about comic books in general has always been a part of my online space. I need to work harder at keeping this part of the blog alive.

legend of sleepy hollow coverI know one of the reasons I have been writing more about comics is that I have been reading some really good books lately. This week it was Bo Hampton's 1993 adaptation of Washington Irving's classic horror short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Bo Hampton is a comic artist who paints all of his work. His paintings usually have an otherworldly look to them which lend themselves wonderfully to the horror genre. In fact, when I think about Hampton's work, even the superhero stuff, it usually is set in the realm of horror.

The Legend of the Sleep Hollow is such a visually exciting tale. It's probably why it has been adapted in film and animation as much as it has. I mean a guy with no head riding a horse through the night, throwing his head at the poor Ichabod Crane - that screams for some great pictures. While the full prose version of the story is fantastic, I think it is a story that really benefits from strong visuals accompanying the text.

In the comic book version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Hampton takes selections of Irving's words and illustrates them. This isn't a retelling of the Sleepy Hollow tale, but an Illustrated Classics of sort - though Hampton's art is considerably darker and more dynamic than anything I ever saw in an Illustrated Classic book. Hampton keeps enough of Irving's prose to give the book a faithful reading of the full story, but cut enough of the text so that his artwork can shine through and tell the rest of the story.

Hampton's Crane is gangly and a little pompous. The scenery is wonderfully rendered. It's bright a cheery when it needs to be, and dark and foreboding when things begin to heat up. Hampton's version of the Headless Horseman is also a great sight. Certainly spooky, but also powerful and threatening at the same time. All of the art is wonderful, from characters, to scenery, down to the action sequences. It's just picture perfect visual storytelling.

Bo Hampton's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a perfect way to experience this Washington Irving classic. And what a better time to read it than in the weeks leading up to Halloween. If you can find a copy, sit down and enjoy it. If you ask nicely, I might lend you my copy.

October 17, 2005

Party Like It's 1959

chicago tribune front page imageThat was the headline on the front page of both the Chicago Tribune and The Daily Herald this morning. Last night the Chicago White Sox defeated the Los Angeles Angels 6-3 to clinch the American League Championship for the first time since 1959. After dropping the first game in the ALCS to the Angels, the Sox took the next four - including three in Los Angeles - to earn their first trip to the World Series since Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the White House.

I'm a Cubs fan, but even I am excited about the Sox winning the pennant and going to the World Series. I did a little attention to the Sox during the regular season, but regularly followed the Cubs. I took a stronger interest in the Sox at the end of the season when they were blowing their 15-game lead in the Central Division. I didn't watch any of the White Sox - Red Sox Divisional series game, though it was a blink and you missed it three game series. The White Sox completed dusted the boys from Boston. My interest and excitement in the team has only begun to build when they took game two on that controversial call in the ninth inning. Since then I have been watching every game from start to finish. Call it band wagon jumping, I don't care. It's exciting to see a Chicago team being a champion again. We haven't had that here since the mid-90s with the Chicago Bulls.

The White Sox are doing it in impressive fashion, too. They quickly dispensed the defending world champion BoSox in the three games. Then with the Angels, they bounced back from a loss in game one and got a little help from an ump to eventually win game two, and then completely dominated the Angels out in Anaheim. Along with solid hitting and strong defense, the Sox have put the type of pitching on the mound that another team from Chicago was suppose to have these last few seasons. The Sox starters had four complete games in a row and limited the Angels to just 11 runs in the five games. Impressive.

Now the Sox will sit and wait to see if the Houston Astros can close the deal and take game five from the St. Louis Cardinals tonight and earn their first ever trip to the World Series, or will the Cardinals battle back to set up a World Series matching two teams a die hard Cubs fan would hate: White Sox vs. Cardinals.

Chicago White SoxMe? I don't care. I've already thrown my support behind the Sox. It's good to have a champion in Chicago, and regardless of my allegiance during the baseball regular season, I have to be excited about what the White Sox are doing this October.

Oh, by the way. Dad, didn't you lose an old, old bet with a good friend last night about who would make it to the World Series first? I was thinking of that last night while watching the champaign flow in the club house.

Another funny thing that occurred to me while watching the celebration on TV last night. I was flipping between all the major Chicago stations: CBS-2, FOX-32, NBC-5, ABC-7, and WGN-9, and I felt bad for WGN. The TV station is owned by the Tribune Company, the same company that owns the Chicago Cubs and who, according to White Sox fan #1 Mayor Richie Daly, has continually turned it's back on the White Sox in favor of promoting the company owned Cubbies. The sports guys from WGN couldn't seem to get any good face time with any of the Sox players. All the other stations were talking to Joe Crede, Aaron Rowland, or A.J. Pierzynski. The WGN team seemed to be spending a lot of time back at the studio listening to the sports guy there talking about the Sox win and what's coming next. Maybe I just wasn't hitting Channel 9 at the right times, but that was the impression I was getting.

Oh well. Maybe the Tribune Company can earn some points back with the South Siders with their coverage of the ALCS victory on WGN and in the Chicago Tribune and get some meaningful interviews when the Sox win the series in a couple of weeks.

October 15, 2005

Infinite Crisis Begins

Infinite Crisis, DC Comics massive comic event to remake the DC universe kicked off officially this week. It’s a seven-part series that is supposed to have the same sweeping impact on the DCU that Crisis on Infinite Earths had twenty years ago. DC has been building up to this series since last year with the Identity Crisis mini-series, which began some plot lines and character changes that have been lingering ever since. I have yet to read Identity Crisis, I’m waiting for the trade paperback collection, but I’ve read enough online in message boards and on comic book websites to get the general gist of the story. Identity Crisis was followed this summer months with four different mini-series that were intended to lead into Infinite Crisis. I didn’t read any of those, though I am slightly interested in picking up two of them when they get the tpb treatment.

infinite crisis coverDespite not reading Identity Crisis or any of the four summer mini-series, I still went ahead and asked the boys at Graham Cracker Comics to put the single issues of Infinite Crisis on my pull list. I believed this series was going to be big, and I wanted to follow along with the story as it came out, not wait for a tpb.

I picked up this hotly anticipated issue on Friday and read it this morning. Reviewing only the first issue of a seven-issue series is like writing a review of a movie after only seeing the first 15 minutes. Sure after one issue you might get a general sense of where things are going, but I think any critiques or judgments should be held until we at least get to issue three or four. That being said, though, after reading it I do have some thoughts.

DC’s Dan DiDio has done a lot of talking through the comic book press to sell the changes he is orchestrating for the DCU through the publishing of all these books, and one of the points he has continually made is that a DC fan will not have to buy all the books to enjoy and understand what is going on in the grander sense of the story. It was one of the reasons I didn’t worry about not reading Identity Crisis or any of the summer mini-series before picking up Infinite Crisis. However, when I open up the first issue and begin reading I felt like had been dropped into the middle of a story. It was clear a lot of things had happened before the first page of Infinite Crisis. The issue does try to get you up to speed somewhat by having the characters refer to events in the past, but I still felt like I was missing things.

In fact, that sense of being out of the loop really hurt my reading of the first issue. It was clear from the events that took place and the characters reaction to them that something big and cataclysmic was starting, but I just didn’t feel that same feeling. I was left sitting there going, “Yeah, so what’s the big deal?” Not really the reaction I think you want to elicit from your readers when beginning a story that is suppose to redefine the entire comic book universe. However, like I said at the beginning, I don’t like to pass judgment on the series after reading one issue. I’m willing to give the story a few more issues to pull me in. So for now I’ll wait and see.

Looking at the issue, the artwork from Phil Jimenez is excellent. He is his usual detailed self. I’ll certainly enjoy looking at the art as the issues come out. Geoff Johns story is hard to critique at this point. The issue spends most of the time setting things up, either be trying to hint at what has happened before the curtain went up and setting the stage for this new act in the remake of the DCU. Obviously, my sense of feeling left out of the story means that his “getting up to speed” was sufficient – either in how he handled it or in how much “pre”-story DC editorial packed into all of the summer mini-series. That is what I’ll have to wait and see on.

In the end, I’m interested in seeing how things play out. I’m a sucker for the big, cosmic, DC superhero stories with forty thousand characters running all around to save the very fabric of comic book reality and refine a universe of characters. Starting with Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985, through Millenium, Legends, and Zero Hour. If done right they are a lot of fun. Hopefully Infinite Crisis will prove out to be another story in a line of big blockbuster stories from DC Comics.

Me and Atticus

I really enjoy Greg Rucka's writing. In particular his books starring Atticus Kodiak. Rucka is working on a new Atticus novel that will be published next year, and as he has done in the past, he's auctioning off the opportunity to be a character in the novel. The money all goes to charity - in this case, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund - and the winner gets to be a major character. Not just some corpse or two-page walk on character. I'd love to be immortalized in a Rucka novel, but the bidding is already up to $560, and if my memory serves me right, the winner will end up spending a couple thousand dollars. I don't think Heather would go for that. Hell, I don't think I'd go for that.

I'll just have to write my own book and get it published.

I See London, I See France

If you've ever seen our kids at home, then you would know that they would be a perfect fit for this race in Hawaii.

underpants run
Competitors wearing little but their underwear smile and cheer as they finish the ninth annual Underpants Run, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2005, in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. About 100 men, women and children ran in the mile-long event, which crossed paths with the start and finish areas of the considerably more serious Ironman competition, which will be held Saturday. The Underpants Run, originally begun to poke fun at Speedo-wearing Ironman competitors, is now a fundraiser for a local charity. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

October 12, 2005

Here's A Birthday Item To Consider

My mom keeps pestering me for a "birthday list" (my birthday is 11/6) and I keep procrastinating. However, today I found something she might consider getting me for my birthday.

fuck macys t-shirt


You can buy it online from the NewAthens.org online store.

Incidentally, I had lunch in the Walnut Room over at the State Street flagship Marshall Field's store this past Tuesday with some clients. It was kinda sad walking through the store knowing that in about a year the Marshall Field's green would be replaced with whatever color Macy's is. The Frango Mint chocolate cheesecake was good though.

iPod With Video

For the last week or so the Apple community has been abuzz with a invite that went out from Apple about an announcment happening today - right now in fact. Because of how the invite was sent out, and because of some spy activity, many felt that this was the long awaited iPod + Video announcement that everyone has been waiting for.

ipod advance imageThis morning new iPod ads have popped up at places like iLounge.com that show an iPod with a much larger screen. And as I type this, the real-time coverage from iLounge has just announced the following:

New iPod announced -- 2.5-inch display, 320 x 240 resolution, MPEG-4 support, and video out. Engadget caught that they are 30% thinner than current full-size iPod. Will be available in 20GB and 60GB versions for $299 and $399, respectively.

Plus, new iMac's and ITunes where you can buy music videos and TV shows:

iTunes 6 announced -- 2000 music videos available, $1.99 each. Select TV shows also available for $1.99. ABC a partner.

This is too fricking cool! I've only had my current iPod for 3 months and I already want a new one.

Hey, let's update the post with photos of the real thing:

ipod


Cool. I want a black one.

This About Sums It Up

Make It Stop


It's Ian being Ian, Emma being Emma, and Zoe being pissed that her brother and sister are getting in the way of her going down the slide for the four thousandth time.

What I Miss

Everyday I go to work and Heather stays home with the kids. It's how things have worked out for us and it's how we make things work. When we were getting ready to start our family, Heather expressed her desire to be a stay at home mom. She really felt it was important to have someone at home taking care of the kids and being there for when they got home after school. I loved the idea as well. I tend to be over protective of my kids and really don't trust anyone other than myself or Heather with them. Sure I can talk myself down off the ledge when it's a family member like Heather's mom or my sister watching them, but the thought of putting my 4-month old son in a day care center turned my stomach. Luckily, we have been able to financially make things work where only one of us has to work.

Ian DecoratesI don't mind being the bread-winner for our household. I'm comfortable in that role. But there are times I think I miss out on things because I have to work the long hours at the office, keeping me away from the kids most of the week. Case in point, this past week Heather has gotten to do some things with the kids that I really would have liked to share in. All I have are the picture and the stories from Heather.

On Monday, when Ian was home from school, she made Halloween cookies with the kids. It was something simple, but I could tell from the photos Heather shared with me and how Ian and Emma were excited to tell me about the cookie making when I got home Monday night that it was a great time for everyone. Even Zoe got to decorate a cookie or two. I would have liked to been there watching them decorate and joining in the fun.

Emma DancesThen yesterday there was a special "visitor day" for Emma's dance class. Emma has been taking a dance class for three-year olds through the park district since mid-September. Usually the classes are closed to any spectators. Their teacher, Ms. Candi, lines the girls up, marches them into the classroom, shuts the door, and know one see them for thirty minutes until the doors re-open and the little girls in their dance outfits prance out with the arms held high above their heads.

Yesterday was an exception. Parents, grandparents, friends, brothers - anyone who wanted to come in and see what went on in Ms. Candi's class were welcome to do so. Heather obviously went with camera in hand, and got some great shots of little Emma strutting her stuff. Heather even got some video that I may put up on the site. The ClassMy dad also got to go and watch his granddaughter dance. (He had taken the week off from work, so he was able to attend as well. I haven't talked to him yet about his impressions).

The photos and Heather's description of the class makes it sound like an absolute scream. Eight three-year olds chasing "butterflies" and stretching on the dance pole. I would have loved to have attended the visitor day, especially considering that there isn't any recital for this class. (Come on, their three-year olds. These dance instructors might go a little overboard sometimes, but even they won't try a dance recital with bunch of three-year olds.) However, there is supposed to be another visitor day in a few weeks. Maybe I'll go into work late that day and watch Emma's class. That certainly would be more fun than hunching over a computer.

I've got plenty of more photos taken of things I miss with the kids while at work that I will be getting up on the site soon. Wait for it.

October 10, 2005

Adam Strange: Planet Heist

I had planned on writing some insightful and deep introduction to my brief write up for Adam Strange: Planet Heist, but I'm just not feeling very creative today. I think it might be the Benadryl I took this morning in an attempt to kill the running nose I'm fighting. Instead, I'll just drop right in and get down to it.

adam strangePlanet Heist serves as a re-introduction of the Adam Strange character into the DC Universe. Adam is best described as a cross between Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. Years ago Adam Strange was hit by the Zeta-Beam, a teleportation beam created by Professor Sardath on the far off planet of Rann. Once on Rann, Adam had huge adventures, married Sardath's daughter and had a child, and eventually became Rann's chief hero. The problem with the Zeta-beam technology was that after a while Adam would automatically be sent back to Earth. He would then have to wait for a new beam to grab him and send him to his adopted planet. The old Adam Strange stories were all big space opera / Saturday morning serial / pulp stories.

Writer Andy Diggle and artist Pascal Ferry re-envisioned the space pulp hero for modern times in an eight-part mini-series, that was collected into the Planet Heist trade paperback. The creative team left the key components of the Adam Strange history in place, but builds around them and tweaks the small details to give the character a more contemporary look and feel.

The basic premise of the story is this: Sardath has perfected the Zeta-beam tech so that the next time Adam jumps to Rann it will be for the last time. However, that final beam never comes and Adam is left wondering what has happened. He learns from Superman that Rann has apparently exploded when one of the three suns that the planet orbits went supernova, incinerating the planet. Adam can't believe it to be, and driven with the gut feeling that his wife and daughter are still alive, he sets out to really find out what happened to Rann.

I'm always a sucker for a big adventure movie or comic. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, the Phantom, old pulp heroes like The Shadow and Doc Savage - they're great, fun, escapist entertainment that transport you into a world other than your own where almost anything is possible. It someplace to go when you're tired of the world you're living in. What makes this type of entertainment even more enjoyable is if the creators take time to put some meat on the usually boiler-plate plot and characters. Diggle and Ferry deliver with the meat in Planet Heist, giving us plenty of characters who are more than clichés and with art that is certainly more than cookie cutter.

In particular I loved the artwork from Pascal Ferry. He certainly has a knack for envisioning wonderful alien worlds, species, and technology, and backs up these great designs with compelling visual storytelling that sucks you for a rollercoaster ride. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the luscious coloring of Dave McCaig in this project. Ferry might have the imagination to bring other worlds and people to life as a drawing, but McCaig's coloring and choice of palate makes this book even more glorious to look at. They are formable pair.

Diggle's story starts off fast and for the most part doesn't let up until the end of the book. He pushes Strange through all the ringers in his journey to find his family and Rann, and as the reader it is great to watch. There are some clunky scenes at the end which almost damage the whole book, but they weren't so bad that I couldn't forgive them because I had enjoyed the book so much up to this point. Overall I recommend the book for fans of old Sci-Fi serials or space adventures.

October 07, 2005

OUCH!

xray of lead sinker in eye socketThis is one of those stories that makes you go, "ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod" while hoping around with both hands over your eyes after you hear it.

A guy in Wales went fishing with his friends. While fishing, his line got stuck on something in the water so he gave it a strong pull. He remembers getting hit in the face and falling down. After putting his hands to his face and seeing them covered in blood, he assumed that he had gotten cut by something that flew into his face when he pulled on the line. Unfortunately this wasn't the case.

What had actually happened was that the lead sinker from his fishing line had gone into his eye socket and shattered his cheekbone. See the x-ray to the left.

" . . . my mates ran over to me and they could see the tip of the weight sticking out of my eye socket".

Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod!

Doctors were able to remove the sinker and rebuild his cheekbone with a metal plate. He's doing fine now, and even carries the weight around as a good-luck charm.

Halloween Is The New Christmas

Last week I wrote about how we have become one of those families by decorating the outside of our house for Halloween. Inflatable, light-up decorations, orange lights, bat door mat, pumpkins - we've got about 300% more things outside for this minor holiday than we did two years ago.

halloween book coverIn my post, I talk about my own observations about how Halloween is being elevated into a much more major holiday. Both in terms in celebrating and in marketing. People are decorating their homes for Halloween, there are more elaborate parties, and you see more people dressing up. And on the marketing side there is just more everywhere. Stores stock more things with a Halloween theme, advertising promotes the holiday, cooking and decorating programs and magazines have Halloween theme shows or issues. Halloween is really rivaling Christmas in the amount of money being spent on both sides of the economic equation.

I found more proof of this today in an article at Publishers Weekly. Aptly titled "Is Halloween the New Christmas?", the article explores how the Halloween season has quickly ascended to the second biggest book selling season of the year for retailers of children's books. Christmas still being number one.

Besides a brief look at the ballooning sales numbers for children's booksellers, the article is full of recommendations on a number of Halloween-themed books for all sorts of ages. Reading through gave me some great ideas for some new books to buy the kids. While I'm still not sold on going gang-busters with Halloween celebrations, I will take any opportunity or excuse I can find to buy my kids books.

October 06, 2005

Don't Come Near The House On Sunday

Heather and I are both football fans - me more than her, but she still really enjoys watching football. While I'm a diehard fan of both the Chicago Bears and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Heather is always pulling for the Cleveland Browns and the Buckeyes from Ohio State.

Most weekends we're okay. The Irish and the Buckeye rarely meet and the Browns seem to play the Bears every four years or so in the regular season.

The Sunday however, the Bears travel east to Cleveland to take on the Browns for the first time in the regular season since 2001. The year the Bears won the final year the NFC Central Division existed. It was the year of the unbelievable finishes for the Bears where they seemed to regularly pull a victory out of the jaws of defeat. No time was that better displayed than in the Browns / Bears game that season.

browns helmetThe Bears were down by two touchdowns with a little more than 2-minutes left - if I remember things correctly. Heather and I were over at my Dad's house watching the game with my sister and her then boyfriend (now husband). My Dad and Patrick both started telling Heather that she could go ahead and start celebrating, the Browns had this game in the bag. Heather refused, stating that she had witness too many last second loses by the Brownies.

True to form, the Bears managed to score two touchdowns in less than two minutes and then force the game into overtime. They then intercepted Cleveland and ran it back for a touchdown to win the game. We were going absolutely nuts. All of us Bears fans screaming because we couldn't believe what was happening, Heather screaming just as loud for the same reason.

She does never let us live that loss down - especially what my Dad and Patrick said to her towards the end of the game. I expect it to come up again this weekend when the Bears and the Browns meet once again.

This time the Bears and the Browns are both 1-2, though thanks to a weak division, that puts the Bears in first of the NFC North. The Browns are third in the AFC North behind the red hot Bengals and Pittsburgh. From a record standpoint, the teams look evenly matched.

The Bears come in with the 27th ranked offense, slightly better than the basement scrapping 32nd they had last year, and the 4th best defense. The Browns have the 12th best offense and are ranked 30th in defense. With a mid-range offense and a horrible defense, I have to think that the Bears will pull out the win this Sunday. But with these two teams, you never really know. They both have a knack for figuring out a way to lose when you think they've got the victory wrapped up.

In any event, it will certainly be a good time at our house on Sunday. Me pulling for the Bears, Heather pulling for the Browns, and Ian pulling for the team associated with the parent he is favoring that day.

October 05, 2005

Today's Moment of Zen

And it comes from Cleveland.

metroparks
Shafts of sunlight illuminate a fog-shrouded meadow in the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation in Brook Park, Ohio. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

The New Nickel

new nickelWhen my sister was a little girl, she would change her outfit three, four, sometimes five times a day. It was funny to my brother and me, frustrating for my mother.

I'm starting to get the feeling that the U.S. Nickel and my baby sister have a lot in common. It was announced today that the nickel is getting another facelift (pun intended).

I don't know about you, but it seems like every year the U.S. Mint is redesigning this coin. Is there a big nickel counterfeiting market? Is the nickel just needy? I want to know.

Harriet Mier's Blog

I mean, everybody's got one, why not Harriet Mier. Follow along with Harriet as she prepares for her confirmation hearings.

October 04, 2005

Why Firestone Sends Us A Christmas Card

Cars are a handy thing to have - and almost a necessity if you live in the suburbs of big city like Chicago, but sometimes I wonder if we simply went without. Over this past weekend, Heather and I dropped almost $2,600 in repairs and maintenance into our two vehicles - a '99 Pontiac Montana (the bus) and a '96 Plymouth Neon (my chic magnet).

The weekend we financed the local Firestone's new game room and store employee trip to Vegas began last Wednesday on my drive home from the train station. The brake light on the Neon came on. Now, I've never been a big car guy, but I knew this was a bad thing. Figured I'd probably have to take it in for a looking over at the local Firestone where we get most of our car work done. They're good people there. Consistently give us good service.

Thursday morning I headed off to work. I was leaving our subdivision and approaching 5th Street to turn right. As I pushed down on the brakes I noticed that the car was not stopping. I pushed harder with my foot. Really no change. The street I was on dead ends at 5th Street, and on the other side of the dead end is a forest preserve. Because I had no intention of taking the Neon on an early morning off-road adventure, I slammed my foot down as hard as I could with a good dose of "oh-god-please-stop-please-stop-please-stop-please-stop!"

And it did. When the back of the pedal was touching the floor, pads started to grab rotors and the Neon came to a stop. I went ahead and turned right and started down the road. Within a few seconds I had figured out how to drive the Neon with this new breaking system and made my way to the train station. (Hey, there are hardly any cars on the road at 6:30am and I didn't want to miss my train. I had everything under control).

I called Heather from work and asked her to pick me up from Firestone that evening, because that is where I would be dropping off the vehicle. This is what we did.

We got a call that evening from Sean at Firestone, who detailed the state of the Neon's ravaged breaking system. Main cylinder gone, front breaks nearly gone, and rear brakes just plain ugly. Plus, I had a nasty leak from the head gasket (This I knew already - well, not that it was the head gasket, but that I had a bad leak - it's why I've been parking the Neon in the street for the last four months. Don't want any oil on the driveway where the kids play) and the tires on the car were practically illegal (again, any time spent driving in the rain with the Neon would have clued you into this).

"Fix it all," I said as Sean tallied up how he was going to meet his sales quota before the fifth of the month.

I picked up the Neon Friday after work and it felt like I was driving a new vehicle - except for 84,400 miles on the odometer and the busted radio.

While Heather and I thought our car repairs for the weekend were over, we didn't realize what was waiting in the shadows of our garage.

Sunday my Dad had offered to take all of us out for breakfast. He arrived and Ian and Emma both asked if they could ride with Grandpa. "Go for it," we said.

Heather, Zoe, and I loaded ourselves into the Montana and started her up. Everything was smooth as we drove to a pancake house nearby that we've wanted to try. After a fun meal full of pancakes, chocolate milk, and biscuits and gravy, we got back into the Montana. This time, not so smooth. The engine sputtered and shuddered the entire ride home. My dad was kind enough to follow me back to Firestone so I could drop the van off and then give me a ride back to my house. We had to wait until Monday morning to hear what the damage was and it turned out to be problems with 3 of the 6 fuel injectors. The same injectors we completely replaced in November 2003.

"The injectors are big problems with Pontiac Montana," is what they told me at Firestone - both this weekend and two years ago. This is great and all. I'm glad they've identified the problem with Pontiac's engineering, but I wish it wasn't costing us $800 to deal with it every time it pops up. "Fix it," I said with malice for GM in my voice.

Because Heather had been noticing that the Montana was sliding around like a hippo on a frozen pond whenever it rained, we opted for some new tires as well. Hell, in for an ounce, in for a pound - or whatever that saying is. In the end the vehicle is safe and sound again, and I think she and I are both more comfortable with her driving the kids around this winter now that these repairs are in place.

Still, it feels like we dropped the type of coin this weekend that gets you a new car - not fixes up the two old cars you already have. I know in the long run that what we did this weekend is cheaper than going in for a new vehicle - especially when we're planning on moving in the spring. But I think that if you're going to spend more than $1,000 at one time at a repair place, they should at least spray the inside of the car with some "new car smell" spray or something. At least create the illusion that you're getting a new car, even if you're not.

You Can't Take It With You.

Heather and I were watching the news last night when a report was done on the trading of Eddie Curry to the New York Knicks.

This was such a big story because towards the end of last season it was discovered that the Chicago Bulls emerging star had a heart arrhythmia that forced the team to bench him for the remainder of the season. This summer the Bulls wanted Curry to submit to a DNA test to see if he had a genetic disposition to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a potentially fatal condition when combined with arrhythmia. Curry and his agent said they didn't want to submit to what they felt was an invasion of Curry's privacy. The Bulls said that they didn't want to put a player on the floor that could drop dead on a fast break. It was a stand-off.

The Bulls blinked first and sent Curry packing to New York. In the story last night it was revealed that the Bulls even offered to pay Curry $400,000 a year for the next 50 years if the DNA test revealed that he was a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy candidate. Which to me makes it seem like that the Bulls had more than their financial interests in mind - they were looking out for one of their players too?

However, it's apparent Mr. Curry and his agents have bigger dollar signs in their eyes. Instead of taking the test and being cleared to play with the Bulls and the potential for a big payday here in Chicago or ending up getting $200 million over the next 50 years, Curry will risk his life by just jumping on the court in New York.

Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

All that money won't mean crap if you're dead.

Yep. Here's One Of Us

Nicolas Cage gives Superman's birth name to son

Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage's wife of 14 months gave birth on Monday to the couple's first child together, a son they named Kal-el -- a moniker recognized by comic book fans as the birth name of Superman.
I always knew Cage was a big comic book fan, but who knew he'd go and name his kid after the Man of Steel. He must still be mad about having to sell his comic book collection when he was married to Lisa Marie Presley.

October 01, 2005

Batman, Batman, Batman

As if I don't already have enough DVD that I don't have time to watch, Warner Brothers continues to release more Batman on DVD this fall that I would live to have.

Batman Anthology

Batman Anthology re-releases what used to be the Batman Legacy DVD collection - which was the four Batman flicks starting with Tim Burton's version in 1989 to the Schumacher cheesefest of Batman and Robin. However, now the movies are remastered and include a bunch of interesting bonus material - exactly what I love to get in my DVD collections.

Animated Batman vol 4

I've already got volumes 1 and 2, and really want to add 3 and the new fourth volume to my collection. What excites me so much about volume 4 of this great series is that it includes two exceptional episodes; "Over the Edge" and "Legends of the Dark Knight"

These, plus the soon-to-be-released Batman Begins DVD, means that there will be a lot of Batman on the old Christmas list this year.

We're One Of Those Families

The retail and marketing industries have done an exceptional job over the last five or six years of turning Halloween into a huge holiday in America. Think about how Halloween was marketed, sold, and celebrated in 1990. Now think about what you see in the stores, see on TV, and see at people's homes as we start in on October.

Last year I read a story in the news (and I wish I had saved it so I could reference it now), that talked about how Halloween has become the second biggest holiday behind Christmas in America in amount of money spent on celebrating and decorating. The marketers have got people buying not only candy in advance of the 31st, but clothing, music, movies, costumes, and lots and lots of decorations - especially outside decorations. In fact, in some neighborhoods, Halloween decorating is approaching Christmas levels in the amount of outdoor adornment that goes on.

Never being a big fan of Halloween, I never saw myself doing much more than a jack-o-lantern, some corn stalks, maybe a scarecrow. When people started upping the ante for outside Halloween decorations, I frequently vowed to Heather that we would never be one of those families. Halloween doesn't deserve that much fuss, in my opinion. But that was before I had kids.

Ever since Ian and Emma started noticing the inflatable, light-up Halloween front-lawn decorations that have become all the rage, they have begged us to get one. I had staunchly refused. However, last year, in an "after-Halloween" sale, Heather found a 7-foot inflatable Scooby-Doo that was marked way down and bought it. Even though I grumbled when she brought it home, I could tell that the kids were very excited to have it and couldn't wait until next year for me to set it up. There was no way I was sending Heather back to the store to return it. So Scooby went down into the basement to wait for Halloween '05 and his big unveiling.

In the week leading up to this Saturday, Ian and Emma both talked a lot about me setting up Scooby as soon as it was October. They were both anxious for the weekend to arrive and for me to finished cutting the grass. I popped open the box, drove in a few stakes, plugged old Scooby in, and viola . . .

inflatable halloween scooby

Now we're one of those families.