November 30, 2005

Just Because You Call It Art Doesn't Make It Art

Maria Adelaida Lopez, a Colombian-born artist, covers doll-houses with vacuum-cleaner lint and calls it art. She says it is in tribute to all the years she spent working as a house-cleaner and a tribute to all the other women still working hard at cleaning someone else' mess.

dust house

It's a nice sentiment, but I don't know if I would call it art. It just seems like another mess that needs cleaning.

November 29, 2005

Religious Affiliations of the Superheros Revealed

Someone sat around and figured these things out:

# Batman (Bruce Wayne) - Catholic
# Superman (Clark Kent/Kal-El) - raised Protestant (in some versions prior to 1986, he worshipped Kryptonian god Rao, which was explicitly addressed beginning in mid-1980s)
# Spider-Man (Peter Parker) - Protestant
# Wonder Woman (Princess Diana aka Diana Prince) - Greco-Roman classical religion
# Captain Marvel (Billy Batson, published by Fawcett, then DC) - Greco-Roman classical religion
# Daredevil (Matt Murdock) - Catholic
# Captain America (Steve Rogers) - Protestant
# Elektra (Elektra Natchios) - Greek Orthodox (clearly depicted at the funeral of her father in the 2004 movie; according to some sources she is depicted as Catholic in the comics)
# Wolvertine (Logan, of the X-Men) - atheist
# The Punisher (Frank Castle) - Catholic (former Catholic seminary student)
# Robin/Nightwing (Dick Grayson) - Christianity (practicing, but specific denomination not unclear; Nightwing comics have shown both Catholic and Evangelical Protestant books, music)

There's even more here.

November 28, 2005

Family Circus meets Cthulhu

It's what the Family Circus might have been like if H. P. Lovecraft had supplied the text.

famil circus mashed
See more.

Heather's Got A New Blog

Forgot to mention this earlier.

The place Heather was hosting her blog is going out of business. So she's decided to bring everything over to Blogger. (smart move, I think)

You can continue to follow and enjoy Heather's unique take on the world by visiting her blog at its new URL: http://hmckillip.blogspot.com/

Trying To Get Unstuck

I haven't blogged since last Tuesday - an eternity for someone who is used to writing every day. What happened? I got sick and then there was a holiday - that's what happened.

Last Monday I was feeling all sorts of weird while at work, but chalked it up to being in a new office and not feeling settled in. However, when I woke up after napping on the train ride home that night, I felt like crap. I could tell I had a fever. Sure enough, that night I sweated my way through a 100+ degree temperature most of the night. I felt bad enough in the morning that I decided to stay home from work.

I was able to did a few things while home sick, but not a whole lot. My fever morphed into an upset stomach, which then dogged me from the late evening until well into Wednesday. There was one particularly bad stretch from 3am until 8am.

Luckily, I got myself about 80% back in time for Thanksgiving. I thought I was even better than that until I ate a fantastic meal at my Dad's house. Didn't feel too good after that - but not because of the food. Everything tasted great. My stomach just wasn't ready to get bombarded like that so soon after being sick. By Early evening on Friday I finally seemed back on my feet completely and ready to role.

The weekend was filled up with getting the Ultimate Christmas Tree decorated, getting some lights up outside, doing some other Christmas decorating and general house cleaning chores. Heather got out and did some shopping for Christmas. Net-net, didn't make any time for blogging once I was feeling well enough to sit in front of a computer.

So now it's Monday, November 28 and I'm trying to get myself back into writing. I find when I'm off for an extended period of time the writing channels tend to get a little clogged and exercises like this one tend to open things up. So hopefully the new posts should start flowing again.

November 22, 2005

Oprah Agrees to Appear on the 'Late Show'

Any regular watcher of the Late Show knows about the "feud" between Oprah and David Letterman. Despite Dave's many empassioned requests over the years, Oprah has refused to appear on The Late Show with David Letterman.

That all ends this December 1st, when Oprah has agreed to be a guest on Dave's show. Of course it coincides with the opening of "The Color of Purple," the Browadway musical Oprah is producing. But, hey, what ever it takes - right?

I think it will be pretty funny. I can't wait to watch.

November 21, 2005

The Bears: Who'd A Thunk It

bears logoWhat a pleasant surprise this football season is turning out to be. Charlie Weiss has got the Fighting Irish immediately back in the thick of things. Notre Dame is already playing at such a high level and with such efficiency that I found it rather boring to watch this weekend's Notre Dame / Syracuse match-up. The Irish easily took care of the Orangemen 34 - 10. Provided the Irish continue to win, they will most assuredly be playing in a BCS bowl game this January.

The bigger surprise has been the emergence of the Chicago Bears. With an offense that makes few mistakes and a defense that is playing better than anyone else in the league, the Bears have put themselves on top of the NFC North division. While for the first half of the season it felt like the Bears were the division leaders by default, after yesterday's win over the Carolina Panthers I think the Bears can claim they are one of the better teams in the league.

Sure, some of the teams Chicago had played up to this point are not the cream of the NFL crop this season and they did lose to Cleveland. Carolina is good team. They had been picked by some to be Super Bowl contenders and had played as such this season. Yesterday, however, the Bears dominated and controlled on both sides of the ball. The offense was without error and efficient. The defense was simply awesome.

The Bears do have a tough stretch through the rest of the season. They have to play Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and next week Tampa Bay. Only one of those games is a home game. They Bears also have to play the Packers twice. While the Packers have struggled this season, a Bears / Packers match-up is always a good battle. And with Favre sitting behind center, the Pack is always a threat in my opinion.

The 2005 Bears season is really starting to get exciting. It could be a great December worth of football.

November 18, 2005

Santa Is Blogging and Podcasting

santa on phoneEven though he still relies on a sleigh pulled by reindeer for traveling, I've always marveled at how technologically progressive Santa Claus is. As new technology has rolled out, he's always been right there to take advantage of it in his annual preparations for the evening of December 24th. Case in point, this year, to help communicate with the kids around the world and let them know how things are going, he has set up both a blog and podcast on one of his many websites: Santa's Journal

In addition to his podcast and daily blog, there are also stories and a simple online game. I'm going to show Ian and Emma the site this weekend, and if they seem interested, maybe start getting the podcasts or downloading the MP3's of the stories that are there. It certainly looks like it could be a lot of fun.

Scooby and Dynomutt

I thought Dynomutt and the Blue Falcon were fantastic when I was a kid. (Kevin, back me up on this.) While I don't remember Dynomutt and Scooby pairing up together, apparently they did. Where else would a spectacular DVD collection like this come from?

I know something I'm adding to the old Christmas list . . .

scooby and dynomutt

November 17, 2005

Are We A Nation of Lemmings?

A news story today reports that the attorneys general from 32 states have sent a letter to the major movie studios asking them to begin running an anti-smoking public service announcement on all new DVDs. The attorney generals from these states are concerned about how viewing on-screen smoking habits are influencing people to pick up the habit for themselves.

Ridiculous you say? How does watching David Strathairn smoke for two hours through Good Night and Good Luck make anyone want to smoke?

A new study released by the Dartmouth Medical School found that "38 of every 100 (adolescents) who tried smoking did so because of their exposure to smoking in movies."

It was this study that prompted the attorney generals from those 32 states to organize and shoot off their angry little letter.

Frankly I would be less concerned about how much smoking is depicted on the silver screen, and more concerned about the 38 kids who apparently can't conjure an original thought in their head. They smoke because they saw a lot of people in the movies smoking? That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. I've watched a lit of people jump off the side of building, only to land in a pool/waiting helicopter/motorcycle/speeding truck - but I'm not jumping off the side of any building. Hell, I don't even have to be so extreme in my example. I've seen a lot of people drink whisky straight from a bottle in movies, but I don't walk around with a bottle of Jack slung at my hip and ready to be tipped back.

Maybe there should be less time spent trying to warn and regulate, and more time educating and mentoring kids to think for themselves. To observe and evaluate. I think that would be a better use of time than paying to film and distribute another silly PSA.

Don't Ruin The Surprise For Heather

Yesterday I bought Heather earrings as a Christmas or birthday gift (haven't decided when I'll give them to her)

Just like some husbands will buy their wife a special dress or slinky negligee because they want to see her wearing it, I too went with something that is guaranteed to get my blood pumping.

earrings from 10-sided dice


OH YEAH! TEN SIDED DICE, BABY!

Being a Dungeons & Dragons player from way back when I was 11 or 12, nothing will re-awaken memories of my emerging sexual awareness and excitement like some 10-sided dice used in Dungeon & Dragons dangling from my bride's ears. Now if I can only get Heather to dress up like Princess Leia from Return of the Jedi while wearing the 10-sided dice and I'll be in heaven.

Hoo-Hah!

November 16, 2005

Sin City Bar

sin city imageIt's mostly in Japanese, but from what little English there is and the pictures on the site, it looks to me like the Sin City Bar in Japan would be interesting place to visit. The party place takes its inspiration from Frank Miller's Sin City graphic novels. There are drinks named after the characters and they have recreated some of the locations from the books inside of the bar. It's pretty wild.

Marshall Fields Holiday Windows

In case you can't get downtown Chicago to see the last showing of the Marshall Fields holiday windows, Rachelle Bowden has graciously gone out and shot some photographs of this year's holiday installation. The story is Cinderella.

We haven't take the kids downtown to see the window displays at Marshall Fields since moving to Chicago. This might be a good year to give it a try for the first time. At least then they can experience this Chicago holiday tradition while it still flies under the banner of Marshall Fields. I'm sure Macy's will put up window displays next year, but it just won't be the same.

picture of marshall fields holiday window

IT'S HERE

Heather just called to let me know that the 3-in-1 Ultimate Christmas Tree was now sitting in a box in our living room. We won the auction on Sunday. He shipped it on Tuesday. It was dropped at our house this morning. Tonight I'll set the thing up to make sure everything works. Clear lights. Multi-colored lights. ALL THE LIGHTS! We're gonna ride all the rides tonight.

ultimate christmas tree

November 15, 2005

The Birthday Cake

I promised this a couple of times, and I always keep my promise.

32nd Birthday Cake


It tasted fantastic.

The State of What Is Good

These are the things that are making my life interesting right now. The things that I am enjoying:

MUSIC: imogen heap coverListening to NPR's "All Songs Considered" has paid off. I've found a new artist that I like. Her name is Imogen Heap and she's British pop artist with strong roots in electronica. She's not all electronic like Depeche Mode, but more subdued and less angsty. It's nice to listen to. I heard her song "Hide and Seek" on episode 95 of All Songs Considered and immediately wanted to own it. This past weekend I found it on iTunes, snatched it up, and have been enjoying it ever since. I sampled some of her other songs and might come back for more, but for right now I am content with "Hide and Seek." I'm even overlooking the fact that the song was featured on an episode of The O.C..

Another artist I am digging right now is Colin Hay - former front man for 80's band Men At Work. In particular his song "Beautiful World," which he recorded an acoustic version of that I got on iTunes a few months back. I had heard him perform it live on the Steve Dahl show months and months ago. Hay has a really unique voice that I enjoy listening to. I also picked up some acoustic / alternative versions of old Men At Work songs. It's all good.

Even though Sound Opinions is no longer going to be on WXRT every week, the show isn't going away. Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis have jumped to public radio for their weekly broadcasts. While initially I thought this would mean that I would listen to Sound Opinions even less, in actuality the change will probably allow me to hear Kot and DeRogatis talk about music even more. With the move to 91.5 FM comes a bunch of neat little tech treats - one being a weekly podcast of the show. Even though they don't officially start up on public radio until December 3rd, they've started the podcast feed this week. Of course I immediately added it to my iTunes list of podcast subscriptions. The first episode was an interview with former rock journalist, and current writer/director Cameron Crowe. Very interesting.

Now if only Steve Dahl could get the podcast hook-up, all would be good. I understand the difficulties in taking a daily 4-hour show and turning it into an easily digestible MP3 podcast, but it sure would be nice if they could find a way. Hell, all I really need is a weekly "best of" show or something like that. Until I get me a FM receiver attachment for my iPod, not having a radio is the one thing I really don't enjoy about going totally digital with my iPod.

margarita in a bottleFOOD: Jose Cuervo makes a margarita that comes all mixed and ready to drink in a bottle. Just pour over ice, add a little salt, and start drinking. Heather and I first noticed this modern marvel a few weeks ago in a Sunday newspaper ad, but hadn't had the opportunity to pick any up. We thought it sounded like a fun thing to try. This past weekend however, the opportunity presented itself. We had my father, his girlfriend, sister, and brother-in-law over to celebrate his and my birthday. Being the man of the house, I was sent out to pick up some beer and few other items and got the idea while at the store to look for the Cuervo margaritas.

We chilled it a bit, then poured it over ice (no salt). It tasted pretty good, definitely glad I picked up the bottle to try. One downside though. Drinking a margarita out of one of your everyday glasses at home while your three kids run around your legs isn't nearly as much fun when drinking them out at restaurant or at a big party. But I do know that you should make the best of what you're given to work with. So you won't hear me complaining about my margarita in a Spiderman cup.

Birthday: I'm glad my sister, whether consciously or unconsciously, remembered this post back in July when thinking about what present to get her eldest brother for his birthday. Now I am the proud owner of a talking Darth Vader Christmas ornament. That's right - talking Darth darth vaderVader Christmas ornament. He has two phrases; "Luke, I am your father!" and "Join me, and we can rule the galaxy as father and son!" It's a lot of fun. The kids think it's fantastic too. I think I heard James Earl Jones telling me he was my father 20 to 25 times at the party Sunday night. I was starting to believe it.

eBay: Saturday I discovered the much coveted 3-in-1 Ultimate Christmas Tree was sold out at QVC. Too much waiting on our part to see if the damn thing would end up being the "Feature of the Day" so we could save some extra money. We thought we were sunk for another Christmas season, but then eBay came to the rescue. Heather decided to take a look there and we found plenty of trees. Most of the descriptions were taken word for word from the QVC site, and many of them even said that they were from QVC returns or floor samples. We bid on few and finally came up a winner on one Sunday. The best part is that the winning bid plus shipping costs is cheaper than what we would have paid if we had bought the tree straight up from QVC. HA! Our procrastination means we win again!

The tree shipped today, and with a little luck and reliable UPS ground shipping we should have it before Thanksgiving. Just in time to set up for Christmas. Heather and I are very excited and little anxious. Excited, obviously, because we are going to finally have what we think is a sweet little pre-lit Christmas tree with clear and multi-colored lights. Anxious because we are just buying the tree from a guy (or gal) on eBay. The sellers ranking was stellar, but still, you never know.

Football: Both Notre Dame and the Bears are playing well and winning. With the Fighting Irish's weak remaining schedule, it almost doesn't make it necessarily a suspenseful rest of the season. But truth be told, I love watching Brady Quinn and the rest of the Irish beat up opponents. So I'll still be there on Saturday afternoons.

bears logoAnd the Bears are 6-3. Who'd a thunk it in the pre-season? Sure the NFC North is pathetic, but the Bears are still 6-3. I know that they could certainly crash this weekend against a strong and balanced Carolina Panther team, but with what has already happened this season, I can't help but believe a little bit that the Bears might walk away with a victory this Sunday. If nothing else, the Bears success in the first half of the season has me really excited about watching a Bears game on Sunday - something that hasn't necessarily been the case the last two years.

Kids: How could I not include them in a list like this. They are constant source of joy. Ian amazes me daily with rapidly increasing reading ability. Monday night he was invited to attend a local Cub Scout troop Pack Meeting. If he decides to join, he will start out as a Tiger Cub, a term that is new to me. I don't remember Tiger Cub from my days in Cub scouts. Ian really enjoyed the meeting and seeing one of his friends from school. Not sure if he will join or not - there doesn't seem to be much interest from other boys Ian's age, and if there isn't enough boys for entering as Tiger Scouts they might not form a new group. I guess it's a wait and see situation.

Emma and I are enjoying our weekly Pop and Tot class at the community center. We have a great time playing together and doing the weekly craft together. She has made a wreath out of her hands, made some wonderful leaf placemats, and tonight she made the greatest little painted turkey. I really look forward to having that hour to myself with Emma. It's a given that on a Tuesday I will not stay late at work - I'm out the door to make sure I am home on time to take her to class.

Zoe is just a laugh a minute. The kid's personality is so unique. She is bold and expressive, plus a very stubborn. But she's got one of the classic laughs and I love hearing it. So every chance I get, you'll see me tickling her tummy so we can all hear those giggles. However, what makes Zoe so great to have around right now is that she has become the Unofficial Fart Police for our house. Nobody can sneak a fluffer past Zoe's super-sensitive ears. She will immediately call you out with loud shouts of "Fuff!", "Fuff!", "Fuff!" while she points at your butt. We need to get that on video.

November 11, 2005

Animated Hellboy

hellboy imageI thought the comic was interesting, but not fantastic. I loved the movie. Now there is word that an animated Hellboy series/direct-to-DVD project is coming out. Earlier this week I found a bunch of drawings from the series, but didn't get a chance to link to them. There were a whole bunch of character designs and such from the concept artist Sean Galloway.

Tonight I found the online production journal from the director, Tad Stones, and decided to link to it and include an image from Tad's blog.

Looks like some pretty interesting stuff. If the animated shows are done as well as the movie was, then I certainly will want to check these out when they are released.

November 10, 2005

O Christmas Tree

The summer we moved into our house in Aurora, my mother and stepfather unloaded a small evergreen tree on us. It had been sitting in a pot on my stepfather's porch for the last five years and really hadn't done much of anything. He thought maybe getting it into the ground might be good for it.

Heather and I were desperate for any sort of trees or bushes for the backyard because the previous owners (who had been there over three years) had planted absolutely nothing. Leaving the backyard rather barren looking.

charlie brown christmas treeI planted the tree and started watering and fertilizing the hell out of the thing. But is still looked small and pathetic. That winter, just o have fun, I went out and bought some big fat old Christmas lights and strung them up on the tree. Heather thought it made the tree look like the Christmas tree from the Charlie Brown Christmas TV special. From that point on we've called it our "Charlie Brown tree."

Over the last few years our little Charlie Brown tree has started growing. Two years ago I had to buy a second set of lights. This year I finally took out the sticks to make sure the tree would grow straight and true. Our little tree is getting all grown up. It really has outgrown its Charlie Brown moniker.

Luckily, there is something we can replace it with. Urban Outfitters is selling a replica of the Charlie Brown tree - complete with criss cross stand and one red ornament. Our Charlie Brown tree outside might be all grown up, but maybe we can still have a Charlie Brown tree at Christmas time. Though, this new Charlie Brown tree certainly won't replace the Heather and my desire to obtain the Ultimate Christmas tree.

This Might Explain the Popularity of Cathy

cathyThe New Scientist reports that women get a bigger laugh out of gag cartoon than men do.

In particular, women appear to have a lower expectation that the cartoon will be funny than men. “Women appear to have less expectation of a reward, which in this case was the punch line of the cartoon. So when they got to the joke’s punch line, they were more pleased about it,” says Allan Reiss, one of the study’s authors, at Stanford University School of Medicine in California, US.
I can't think of any comic out there that doesn't come with lower expectations than Cathy. I mean how many times is getting frustrated with trying on swimsuits going to be funny? Two. Three times? Cathy Guisewite has been doing that joke for almost 30 years now - at least two to three times a year. And yet, practically every newspaper in the counry still runs this tripe daily.

Books for Under The Tree

I always buy the kids books for their birthday and Christmas. Besides constantly introducing them to new literature and exciting artwork, it give me another excuse to hang out in a book store. It's one of my favorite pastimes.

This year I'm starting to pull together a great list of options. Last week, Publishers Weekly released their list of the Best Children's Books of 2005 and in today's Publishers Weekly email newsletter, they provide a sneak peek at what the New York Times Book Review will announce as the 10 best illustrated children's books of 2005.

New York Times Book Review 10 Best Illustrated Children's Books for 2005
Are You Going to Be Good? by Cari Best, illus. by G. Brian Karas (FSG/Foster)
Brave Charlotte by Anu Stohner, illus. by Henrike Wilson (Bloomsbury)
Carmine: A Little More Red by Melissa Sweet (Houghton)
Chato Goes Cruisin' by Gary Soto, illus. by Susan Guevara (Putnam)
Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart (Candlewick)
The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster, illus. by Chris Raschka (Hyperion/di Capua)
Jitterbug Jam by Barbara Jean Hicks, illus. by Alexis Deacon (FSG)
The Problem with Chickens by Bruce McMillan, illus. by Gunnella (Houghton)
Terrific by Jon Agee (Hyperion/di Capua)
Traction Man Is Here! by Mini Grey (Knopf)
Ian's getting too old for picture books - his reading abilities are jumping by leaps and bounds. The kid is a reading machine. But Emma and Zoe are still candidates for the picture books. I'm hoping that some of the fiction stories from the Publishers Weekly list will prove to be at Ian's level. There are some titles there that look very interesting; Whales on Stilts! by M.T. Anderson, illus. by Kurt Cyrus (Harcourt, The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall (Knopf), and The Scarecrow and His Servant by Philip Pullman, illus. by Peter Bailey (Knopf).

I guess I'll just have to spend some time at the book store and look these books over.

November 09, 2005

Vincent di Nguyen

Vincent di Nguyen is an illustrator who's work I think looks wonderful. You should check it out.

vincent di nguyen art

What The . . . ???

I know my Dad thinks I make some of this stuff up. I swear this is real.

party for street kids
A model parades in front of street children, some of whom are sniffing glue, in the drug-infested 'Barrio Triste' (Sad Neighborhood) in downtown Medellin in Colombia November 7, 2005. The event was organised to entertain the children by a member of a local charity that helps children in Barrio Triste by providing food, clothes and cleaning facilities. REUTERS/Albeiro Lopera

November 08, 2005

What Took Them So Long

Star Wars debuted in 1977. The Transformers hit American shores in the mid-80s. Finally someone thought to put these two together.

transformer vader

What Do You Buy a Whore For a Present?

I found this on Ed's website - some very unfortunate website domain names. None of them are for what you would think they are based on reading the website address

www.whorepresents.com

www.expertsexchange.com

www.penisland.net

www.therapistfinder.com

www.molestationnursery.com

www.powergenitalia.com

Find the truth purpose for these sites in this news article.

O-Bama!

barack obamaNot only is Barack Obama the darling of the Democrat party, one of the world's top ten Ubersexuals, and the founder of Hopefund; he also puts out a weekly podcast.

Is there anything the guy doesn't do?

I think I'm going to give the podcast a try. I've got a flight to Indianapolis tomorrow morning for a day trip. Plenty of time to see if the good Senator has anything interesting to say in his podcast.

I wonder if any other politicians have podcasts?

November 07, 2005

Smooth Move, ExLax

Jim Harbaugh is the head coach for the University of San Diego football team. Under his guidance, the team is 8-1 and ranked No. 1 in The Sports Network Mid-Major (NCAA I-AA) Top Ten. Not only that, but because of the success Harbaugh has had running the progam in San Diego, his name was starting to get tossed around as a candidate at some major-college level coaching jobs. Then he went and drove home drunk.

Don't know if this will hurt his changes for any movement up the coaching ladder in the near future, but talking about shooting yourself in the foot. Being a life-long Ohio State fan, I know my wife never had any love for Harbaugh; but I always liked the guy. He didn't work out with the Bears, but he had a fairly good career when he wasn't in Chicago.

Happy Birthday To Me

birthday cakeWelcome to the obligatory birthday post.

Yesterday was my 33rd birthday. An event that is filled with as much mysticism as it is revelatory fervor.

I'm another year older, and as my wife pointed out to me yesterday; "closer to being 35 than 30, but still closer to 30 than 40!"

That's what I love about Heather; the glass is always half-full.

Heather gave me the first present of the morning, letting me sleep in late on Sunday - a day usually reserved for her to catch some extra Z's. She and the kids surprised me in bed with plate of cinnamon rolls (with a flickering candle on top) and some wonderful homemade cards.

The day itself was fairly relaxing. I didn't really do a whole lot. Watched a little of Return of the Jedi with Ian. Caught the beginning of the Bear's game. Played with Emma and Zoe. Nothing too elaborate.

My little brother gave me a call around 2pm to wish me a happy. It was nice to hear from Kevin. We haven't gotten to talk a lot over the last few months - he spent a few months up in Door County in a production. He's back in the city again, but he's very busy again. Any way, I always enjoy getting to talk or spend some time with him. Certainly was a highlight of the birthday.

My mom had invited all of us over to her house for dinner and a small birthday celebration. Heather made the cake, and I requested a Darth Vader cake. I know Heather wasn't pleased with how the cake turned out, but it's not like I gave her a lot of time to figure out how to make a Vader cake. I think I suggested it (half jokingly) on Thursday. She made do with the best that she could, and when we got to my Mom's house, the kids found some old cake decorations in my Mom's kitchen and further "enhanced" the cakes presentation. We've got pictures. I will post them as soon as I can.

Dinner was great and the cake tasted heavenly. We had a nice visit with my Mom and stepfather, and the kids certainly had a great time - 2 out of the 3 were asleep by the time we got home Sunday night.

ultimate christmas treeAlthough, I think the best part of the day was Heather's discovery that QVC is selling a Christmas tree with both white and multi-colored lights that you can control with a remote control to either go just white, just multi-colored, or all in. We were watching QVC on a lark last year when we saw it featured for cheap. We didn't pull the trigger then, thinking we didn't need the tree, but then after seeing our sorry little tree when we got it out, wished we had had the courage to spend the money to get the tree.

Heather and I were talking about the tree yesterday morning while going through all the Sunday newspaper ads. She went to QVC's site to see if they had it. Sure enough, there was the tree - and ready to be featured again.

Before you start all your jibber-jabbering about buying stuff from QVC. Gimme a break. It's a Christmas tree and I don't wanna hear it. We think it looks nice and are totally in love with ending the annual debate of whether to put on white lights (me) or multi-colored lights (Heather).

So again we are debating whether to buy it or not. Though this time I think we might be leaning towards actually getting it. As Heather pointed out in a recent blog entry, he coupon clipping has netted her a savings of $134. That's almost enough to buy the tree. At the very least, it would offset the cost. This just might be the year.

November 04, 2005

Pulp Reborn

I love pulp novels and hard-boiled fiction. That's why I'm excited to see what the new paperback imprint, Hard Case, is doing. Not only are they reprinting old novels from the 1940s and 1950s, but they've attracted popular current writers to contribute to the genre. Up first, Stephen King.

hard case cover

Preach It!

Mark Morford of SFGate.com enlightens us to secret of happiness - something I have known for years - throw away all your crap.

The cure is simple, so graceful that it will make you feel lighter and healthier and good the minute you start, and of course you can start right now and you don't even need any drugs or wine or nudity, though those always, always help.

This is what you do: You throw stuff out. You go through your closets and you fill up garbage bags and you even grab stuff you've clung to for years for no apparent reason, and you haul it all down to Goodwill or Salvation Army or (in the case of San Francisco) leave the usable stuff out in the street overnight and let the urban recycling phenomenon work its magic, as some lucky passerby scores your old futon and the three grungy frying pans you haven't used since 1987.

It is one of the healthiest things you can do. Honest psychologists and good spiritual healers often advise patients with overactive minds and squirrel-like attention spans and problems focusing and problems sleeping, they will tell them not to pop some Ritalin or merely take an herbal tincture and eat more leafy greens, but to go home right now and, yes, clean out your closets. Clear out your clutter. Strip it all to the beautiful essentials and then keep it that way.

Some of My Favorite Things

I felt a little bad after writing Wednesday's post. Looking back, it seemed to me that I was complaining about something I'm not getting to do because I'm so busy with all this work. While it's true that I am very busy with my job right now, I'm am finding some really interesting things to do with my free time.

cover to superman: birthrightSuperman: Birthright is writer Mark Waid's telling of the origin of The Man of Steel. When the series first appeared in 2004 as a 12-issue maxi-series, it was billed as a "reinterpretation" of Superman's beginning. However, since the series has finished and as DC prepares to move into universe defined by the newly begun Infinite Crisis event, it was made clear that Waid story is now consider canonical. Birthright is the origin of Superman, as far as DC Comics is concerned.

The series had received a lot of strong reviews, and what I had seen of the art certainly raised my interest. I don't read a whole lot of Superman stores, but after reading Kurt Busiek's sensational Superman: Secret Identity this summer and seeing how entertaining a well-done Superman book can be; I was willing to take another crack at The Man of Steel.

Coming from a 12-issue series, Birthright is a 304 page trade paperback, so it's a good hefty read. I'm only about thirty or forty pages in, but I can already see why it received all of the accolades that it did. The storytelling is strong and the art is wonderful. I am thoroughly enjoying the book already and wish I had more time to devote to reading it.

When I first got my iPod this summer I was a little cold on podcasts. It seemed like most of the ones I chose let me down or didn't meet my expectations. I continue to sample them though and what I have found is that for every 4 or 5 podcasts I sample, I'll usually find one that I really like.

fanboy radio logoRecently I came across two podcasts that I am really digging. The first is the podcast of episodes for Fanboy Radio, a bi-weekly, one-hour, radio show broadcast from Texas on a college radio station and on the Internet. I've known about the show for years, but never sampled it. I just didn't want to sit in from of my computer to listen to the streaming audio of the show. Now that they are providing copies of the show as a podcast, I can't pick them up fast enough to listen. The hosts are great, demonstrating polished on-air personalities and inter-play between each other. The guests have been great so far as well - comic creators both known and unknown to me. It's a blast to have something like Fanboy Radio to listen to that is related to something I enjoy so much.

channel frederator imageThe other podcast that I have quickly fallen in love with is the video podcast for Channel Frederator. They just launched last week, but the two episodes that have come out so far are fantastic. Channel Frederator is an outlet for animators to show the art to the world. The video podcast (or vodcast) is designed so that it can be enjoyed on one of Apple's new iPod's with video, but you can just as easily watch it on you computer. Just ask Heather, who I showed some of the "Cosbee Show" animated short to last night, the stuff on Channel Frederator is fun and creative. I am completely pumped about receiving this in my iTunes every week.

Of course, when I don't have my nose buried in a comic or listening to my iPod, you'll find me spending most of my free time with Ian, Emma, and Zoe. Who continue to find new and creative ways of pulling, twisting, yanking, and pinching their father's body into all sorts of distorted shapes and configurations. All in the name of fun and the umbrella title of "wrestling."

November 03, 2005

This Is The Kind Of Dad I Want To Be

Man Kills Buck With Bare Hands in Bedroom

BENTONVILLE, Ark. - For 40 exhausting minutes, Wayne Goldsberry battled a buck with his bare hands in his daughter's bedroom.

Goldsberry finally subdued the five-point whitetail deer that crashed through a bedroom window at his daughter's home Friday. When it was over, blood splattered the walls and the deer lay dead on the bedroom floor, its neck broken.

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Yeah baby! Killin' a five-point with you bare hands. That's putting your manhood on display. The best I get to do is kick the cat across the room when it's annoying me.

November 02, 2005

Maybe Next Year

national novel writing monthBefore any one asks me, even though I have talked about it a few times on this blog over the past year, I am not participating in National Novel Writing Month this year. The event challenges would-be writers to bang out a 50,000-word novel during the month of November.

I've desperately wanted to give this event a try since I learned about it last year. I even spent some time over the summer hashing out some ideas for what I would write about this fall. Unfortunately, I don't know how I would find the time to dedicate writing almost 1,700 words a day, each day, for the entire 30 days of November this year. I've got three website development projects going at work, plus nine clients I work with on a daily basis helping them with their sites. I'm traveling one or two times a month (only day trips, but still disruptive). It's so much work that I've actually been having to take about 30 minutes to an hour of work home with me most nights. Of course there are still things to do at home. Among that I make times for the kids, but I'm not making enough time for Heather. I just don't know when I could write a book this month.

I know one of the reasons for NaNoWriMo is to get the aspiring writer to stop making excuses and write the damn thing, but I don't know how I could do it this year without going without sleep - literally.

I hate to sound like a procrastinator, but maybe next year.

November 01, 2005

Where Babies Come From

Leave it to the Germans to break it down nice and simple so anyone can understand how nature works.

german baby book

Halloween Photos

Back From Trick-or-TreatingI've got photos from Halloween!

It was good night. I didn't get home as early as I wanted, but everything worked out anyway. Heather took the kids out for the first round of Trick-or-Treating. And after a brief stop at home to pick up Dad and a bigger umbrella, Ian and Emma were ready to head out again.

Ian, Emma, Zoe, and I toured many blocks in search of candy. We went all around the new subdivision that has been built up behind where we live.

After a few years of being a little tentative about going up to houses and seeing kids in scary costumes, Ian and Emma have finally broken through. They were running around like the best of them, boldly going up to the houses and ringing the bell or knocking on the door. Zoe even got into the mix. I had to hold her, but she would go up to the door and say, "Tree-Tree" and try to hold her bag out. She seemed to really enjoy it.

Back at home we dried off and the kids started digging through their loot. They brought in some good candy this year, and seemed to be content with the amount. The one exception being the cheap-ass who was giving out small bags of crackers - the kind you receive at a restaurant. Emma thought they were neat, so I guess it wasn't too bad.

My Dad stopped by for his regular Halloween visit. It's always nice to have him stop by for a few minutes. The kids really enjoy seeing him on Halloween. It's somebody new to show off their costumes and candy to.

Click through any of the thumbnail shots to go see my Flickr photo set for Halloween. If I get time, I'll consolidate the photos in the Photos section of my site. But with less time to update sections other than the blog, I'm not sure when that will happen.