February 28, 2007

Random Comic Bits

  • Batman by Neal Adams The latest news is that Neal Adams and Frank Miller are joining together to work on a new Batman project. According to the ComicMix podcast, Neal Adams is going to plot and draw a Batman mini-series called Batman: Odyssey. Frank Miller has agreed to dialogue the story.

    Eventhough I'm a huge fan of Frank Miller and I have always loved Neal Adams dynamic and realistic Batman artwork, I can't help but be a little wary of this announcement. Two years ago the big announcement was the launch of All-Star Batman and Robin headlining Frank Miller's writing and another comic favorite of my, Jim Lee, on artwork. The two of them were suppose to put out a 6 (possibly 8) issue storyline.

    24 months later and we've got four issues (I think), and the story so far has spent most of the time with Batman and Dick Grayson (he isn't even taken on the identity of Robin yet) just sitting in the Batmobile. Even my near blind faith in Frank Miller as a storyteller couldn't stop me dropping this comic from my pull-list out of frustration.

    Will Batman: Odyssey be any better? Sure Adams is the main driver on the project, but besides working with Adams on this book Miller needs to be finishing up All-Start Batman and Robin all the while writing/directing the first The Spirit feature film and working on a Sin City movie sequel. With Miller attached to Adam's project, I can see the production on this comic slowing way down. In the end the story might be great, but I think I'll wait for the trade collection.

  • Batman by Neal Adams While Marv Wolfman was a decided improvement over Bruce Jones on Nightwing, my patience with the title is starting to hit a straining point. Nightwing needs something to do. It feels like he's sitting around waiting for crap to happen. When Chuck Dixon was writing him years ago Dick Grayson seemed to have a purpose - or at least there was a little action and adventure in his life. Right now, even with the changes Wolfman has brought to the title, Nightwing appears to be standing around doing a lot of navel gazing.

    So when I saw this post on Wolfman's blog it gave me some hope that all this angsty Nightwing stuff has an end in sight.
    The trick to Nightwing is giving him purpose and drive. Because the murder of his parents was resolved quickly he never developed the rigid obsession that has motivated Batman. His motivation comes from the pursuit of justice. But maybe something happened between the last days of the first run of Teen Titans when he disbanded that group for reasons we will learn, and the first issue of the New Teen Titans where he returned to the fold more grown up and less a kid sidekick than he ever had been before. Coincidentally, it's also a year where he wasn't with Batman 7/27. Something changed him then, and now that something has returned. And as I say, if what happens in our second Bride & Groom story lights the fuse, our third storyline is where everything in Dick's life is going to explode.

    The Nightwing fans care very much for Dick and company, and what I'm hoping to do is not just change the status quo that we've seen 'til now, but make them like what we're doing. For some reason Dick Grayson has always been one of my favorite characters to write. I hope to make him one of the most compelling to read, too.
    Wolfman's comments don't completely alleviate my concerns for the title, but maybe Wolfman can create something close to the fantastic run Chuck Dixon has on the title. If four or five months from now I'm still feeling "eh" about the book, then maybe it's time to cash my Nightwing chips in and resign myself to the fact that nobody is going to weave Nightwing tales that captured my imagination and interest like Chuck Dixon did. After all, I still have all my old Dixon-penned issues to re-read whenever I want.

  • Finished reading the most recent Fables collection, "Wolves", in which Bigby Wolf comes out of his self-imposed exile and marries Snow White. What can I say that hasn't already been said numerous times in this blog and in countless spots across the Web and in traditional print? This series by Bill Willingham is lightening in a bottle. If you are not reading it you are missing out on one of the most charming, entertaining, and thoroughly engrossing epic narratives that has been published in a long, long time. If you enjoy great fiction, you owe it to yourself to at least try one or two of the Fables collections.
  • Things I Think About

    Saw this on a company's website where they were talking about their hiring practices.
    . . . decisions based on race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender, sexual/gender identity, age, disability, pregnancy, national origin, military or veteran status, or any other protected characteristic.
    They reference both "sex" and "gender".

    I thought those were the same thing. Are they not? At first I thought maybe they were mentioning "gender" in terms of how a person viewed themselves ("I'm a man trapped in a woman's body"), but the statement above includes the phrase "sexual/gender identity." That covers the RuPaul's of the world and would seem to put the terms "gender" and "sex" on equaly footing from a definition standpoint.

    So I looked up these two terms in the dictionary (Actually I referenced dictionary.com)

    The first definition for "sex" in the American Heritage Dictionary:
    1. The property or quality by which organisms are classified as female or male on the basis of their reproductive organs and functions.
    2. Either of the two divisions, designated female and male, of this classification.
    That fits.

    The definition for "gender" in the American Heritage Dictionary provides all sorts of different meanings for the word. Including those pertaining to the coniditon of being male or female and those referencing sexual identity.

    In fact, on the Dictionary.com search results page for the term "gender" I found this notation.
    This usage (sex-based categories) is supported by the practice of many anthropologists, who reserve sex for reference to biological categories, while using gender to refer to social or cultural categories.
    So it would seem that "gender" and "sexual/gender identity" can be considered the same thing.

    Why am I writing about all of this? I just can't help but wonder why this company felt that had to use all those terms. Why pick those terms - even ones that can be defined in the same way? They didn't use ther term "creed" in addition to listing "religion." Or "cultural background" along with "race" and "national origin." So why all the doubling up on the gender-related terminology? Has the company run into some problems it's trying to avoid in the future? Did nobody have a dictionary when they were putting this list together. It grabbed me as strange and I wanted to share.

    Judge Ian, The Hanging Judge

    It's Ian captured on film at the exact moment he was dealing out his own brand of justice 2nd grader style.

    Judge Ian


    Trust me. That boy - he don't mess around.

    February 27, 2007

    Is There Anything Disney Won't Sell?

    Does anyone else find the idea of using Mickey Mouse to sell liver pate a little . . . um . . . odd?


    Kip Wilson Ain't No Walter Fielding Jr.

    I'm sure you get the emails too. The email notices from Amazon that because you are somone who bought X in the past you might be interested in Y which is being released now.

    Because I had bought The Money Pit, one of the goofiest and easily quotable films of the mid-80's, Amazon thought I would be interested in knowing that the first season of Bosom Buddies was being released on DVD March 13th.

    Uh-huh. Right.

    Seeing a very young Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari (and Tom in his 80's white-man fro) on the DVD case image in the email made me laugh. But my interest pretty much ends there. Sure both projects have Tom Hanks starring in them, but I don't think I'll be putting down my cash for the 19 episodes of Bosom Buddies. Kip Wilson ain't no Walter Fielding.

    February 26, 2007

    I'm Still Here

    Spent most of last week in Tampa, Florida enjoying the warm weather and brilliant sunshine while attending company planning meetings. Didn't have any time for blogging while in Florida, though I got me a great piece of Key Lime pie.

    I'm back in the snowy Midwest, but besides digging out the snow I'm also digging out of a backlog of work at the office and at home. Give me a day or two more to stablize and regular posting should return.

    February 19, 2007

    It Wasn't Just a Movie! It Was Prophecy!

    Look at this story . . .

    sign of things to comeSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - An asteroid may come uncomfortably close to Earth in 2036 and the
    United Nations should assume responsibility for a space mission to deflect it, a group of astronauts, engineers and scientists said on Saturday.

    Astronomers are monitoring an asteroid named Apophis, which has a 1 in 45,000 chance of striking Earth on April 13, 2036.

    Although the odds of an impact by this particular asteroid are low, a recent congressional mandate for
    NASA to upgrade its tracking of near-Earth asteroids is expected to uncover hundreds, if not thousands of threatening space rocks in the near future, former astronaut Rusty Schweickart said.

    more . . .

    Where's Harry S. Stamper when you need him?

    National Pancake Day - 2007

    logo for national pancake dayIHOP is doing it again. To celebrate National Pancake Day here in the States they will be giving away free pancakes tomorrow.

    In England, Ireland, Canada and Australia, "Fat Tuesday", as the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent is refered to here in America, is called "Shrove Tuesday" or Pancake Day.

    We American just fill our faces on Tuesday. Our English-speaking brothers and sisters in other countries show a little more restraint and fill up on stacks of pancakes.

    IHOP, in keeping with the spirit of its name, has been promoting and celebrating the more internationally flavored "Pancake Day" on the last Tuesday before Lent by giving out a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes.

    So if you can find an IHOP and stop in between7 a.m. to 10am you can get your own stack of free pancakes.

    February 17, 2007

    The Family Automart Guy

    I don't want to just buy a car from this guy, I think I want to go work for him.


    Boo Coo Minivans!

    February 16, 2007

    Nightwing: Year One

    In 1996 writer Chuck Dixon and artist Scott McDaniel were set to the task of launching the first ongoing solo series featuring Nightwing, the grown-up former Robin whose real identity is Dick Grayson. Upon launch the book was almost immediately a smash hit. Being a Nightwing fan I was there from the beginning and thoroughly enjoyed the stories and the style of storytelling the creative team of Dixon and McDaniel brought to the book.

    nightwing year one cover artMcDaniel stayed with the title for four years, Dixon for about six. Their run on Nightwing remains one of my favorite comic book series of all time. Dixon meshes action and character together smoothly, and gives us a Dick Grayson / Nightwing character the feels so right and true that I always found the book a joy to read. McDaniel's artwork perfectly suited the style and tone of the stories; and the character for that matter. In fact I have a signed piece of artwork from McDaniel hanging in my office at home. That's how much I enjoyed the work he did on Nightwing.

    After Dixon was replaced on Nightwing by writer Devin Grayson, readership started to tumble (I had left the title before this happened because DC put an absolutely horrible artist on the book . . . Trevor McCarthy . . . shudder . . ..). However sales on the book suddenly spike when Nightwing hits issue #101. The reason? Chuck Dixon (along with Scott Beatty) and Scott McDaniel return for a brief 6-issue storyline titled "Nightwing: Year One."

    Recently I've started picking up select Nightwing trade collections for some of the stories from after I dropped the title. I read the Devin Grayson penned Nightwing: Mobbed Up this past December and found it enjoyable, though not remarkable. I also picked up Nightwing: Year One by Dixon, Beatty, and McDaniel on sale a couple months ago and got around to reading it this past week.

    Reading these two Nightwing collections by different creative teams so closely together made two things clear in my mind. One, Dixon's and McDaniel's return to Nightwing proved that they just "get" this character. Dick Grayson jumps off the page. He commands every scene that he is in. He is light-hearted with a serious side. He's Batman without all the emotional baggage. Dixon and McDaniel give us the Dick Grayson/Nightwing that everyone grew to love during his time leading the Titans. Devin Grayson's Nightwing doesn't seem to ever have any fun. This is supposed to be the former Boy Wonder. The kid in the bright red costume and pixie boots who leapt in with a "Holy Overstatement, Batman!" Maybe it's McDaniel's artwork that makes the difference. He can give Grayson/Nightwing a big ole "trust me" smile that is perfectly suited for his personality. It's the sort of smile and body language you would expect from a former circus acrobat and performer. Nobody wants to see Nightwing navel gazing and brooding about like Batman Jr.

    Two, it is clear why sales number spiked with the Dixon/McDaniel storyline. Basically see everything I talked about in the previous paragraph. Sure Devin Grayson writes an entertaining story with plenty of twists, but her Dick Grayson/Nightwing character can be a downer. Even though I wasn't buying Nightwing while Devin was writing it before and after the "Year One" storyline, I remember thinking about buying the individual issues Dixon and McDaniel would be working on. But I decided to wait for the eventual trade collection.

    Nightwing: Year One encapsulates everything that was great about Dixon's and McDaniel's original run on the title, with plenty of action balanced out with sharp character defining moments. The art is lively and expressive, and just impressionistic enough to capture the essence and energy of the characters and the scenes without losing its storytelling capabilities. I highly recommend this book if you are a Nightwing fan or not. Nightwing: Year One is simply flat out good super hero comic book storytelling.

    February 15, 2007

    What Are They Doing to Hot Tamales?

    Just Born, the company behind one of my favorite candies - Hot Tamales - is launching a new (third) version of Hot Tamales.

    Another version? How many versions of chewy cinnamon flavored candies can they make, you might ask?

    Only two really. Regular and fire hot, and they already have those two. So this new version is called Hot Tamales ICE and it is a chewy mint flavored candy.

    hot tamales iceObviously this news begs another question. How does the name Hot Tamales apply to a candy that is mint flavored and lacking any connection to the notions of "hot" or "cinnamon?"

    It doesn't, and it looks like Just Born doesn't care. And neither do I really. It's all just silly marketing to cash on an established name. It won't stop me from buying boxes upon boxes of the original Hot Tamales to inhale and burn all the taste buds off my tongue. And because I tend to dislike candies labeled with the term "ice," I probably avoid this new product from Just Born despite the name on the box.

    Though having these two flavors both under the same "Hot Tamales" brand name does mean they can now create superhero characters based on the concepts of hot and cold and whip up a cheesy online comic book for all of us to read.

    Toast To Harry

    toast to harryHere’s to Harry! Budweiser...The King of Beers and Harry Caray’s Restaurant present the 9th Annual WORLDWIDE Toast to Harry, held at Harry Caray’s Restaurant in Chicago on Thursday February 15th. The event will be hosted by "toast master" Roe Conn!

    Frankly I don't like Budweiser beer, but I just might lift a brewed beverage of my own choice to honor the only voice that ever sounded "right" announcing a Cubs game.

    Squirrel Torturer Convicted

    In today's Chicago Tribune there is a story about John Grivas of Crystal Lake, IL who was convicted of animal cruelty and sentenced to serve one year of court supervision, fined $250 and told to donate $250 to the Illinois Conservation Foundation.

    photo of a squirrel - but not necessarily the squirrel from this storyAccording to the story, back in January 2006 Mr. Grivas was observed by his neighbor of pouring boiling water from a tea kettle on something inside a wire-mesh trapping cage. The neighbor didn't actually see the squirrel getting doused in hot water, but she saw a tail trashing about and later found a "squirrel curled up in a ball in her yard, its fur matted down and wet".

    Mr. Grivas' attorney, Patrick Walsh, argued that there was no clear evidence that Mr. Grivas poured boiling liquid on an animal or that the squirrel found in the neighbor's yard had any connection to Mr. Grivas.

    And this is where I love the Tribune story. They quote some of the statements the attorney argued in court with.
    "We have a tail," he said. "Did it belong to a fox or a skunk, a red squirrel or a gray squirrel?"

    Walsh argued that police did not take any photos of the squirrel or tissue samples to connect its injuries to a scalding.

    "Where's the squirrel, Judge?" Walsh said.
    Where's the squirrel, indeed.

    I don't want to downplay or make light of animal cruelty. If the old man has got problems with squirrels there are better ways to deal with them then pouring boiling water over the critters. But to think that a case like this has to go before a judge who has to sit and listen to grown adults make arguments about squirrel DNA. That's crazy.

    February 14, 2007

    To Dream

    In a perfect world this is what one wall of our office at home might look like:

    photo of different Batman statues taken at toy fair 2007

    Zoe Is So Sleepy

    Zoe is about a month away from her third birthday. Obviously the pressure of having to be a 3-year-old and all the responsibilities that come with it are weighing heavily on her adorable, curly-haired head. There's so much work to be done that the girl can't even stay awake through lunch.

    Zoe Sleepy 2

    Zoe Sleepy 1

    February 13, 2007

    Food For Thought

    Writer Alan Grant says:

    ”There are studies which show that when you’re watching TV, you only use one half of the brain, and the other half goes to sleep. When you read a book, it switches over and you use the other half of your brain. If you read comic books though, you’ll use both halves of the brain, and so people who read comics tend to be smarter than people who don’t.”

    My Neighbor Totoro - Simpsonified!

    Artist Nina Matsumoto started gaining some Internet fame a couple weeks ago when her Manga inspired reworkings of the characters from the Simpsons and Futurama were passed around quite a bit.

    Spend a little time on her site and you see she can work it the other way. Take loved Japanese animation characters and "Simpsonify" them. In this case, the charaters from My Neighbor Totoro.

    my neighbor totoro as they might appear on the Simpsons tv show

    Cupcake Courier

    cupcaek courierHeather, we have GOT to get ourselves one of these!

    The Cupcake Courier is a new product designed to transport and/or store cupcakes and muffins in a stylish carrier. It was invented, developed, and designed by a mother of two in need of a product to safely transport the gazillions of cupcakes she takes to her children's parties, school gatherings, and all sorts of functions.

    How cool is that! Get this, a couple Cup-A-Cake containers, and we'll never have to leave our cupcakes at home again.

    Batman #666

    So far Grant Morrison's run on Batman has been entertaining, but certainly not as big as I expected it to be when DC Comic announced that he would be taking over the writing duties for this flagship title.

    However, when DC released their solicitations for comics shipping in May, 2007, I finally saw something that was more in line with what my notion of a Morrison-written Batman book would be:

    cover to Batman 666BATMAN #666

    Written by Grant Morrison
    Art by Andy Kubert & Jesse Delperdang
    Cover by Andy Kubert

    Meet Damian Wayne, the Batman of Tomorrow in this special issue set 15 years from now in a nightmarish future Gotham! In a world torn apart by terrorism, plagues, rogue weather and bizarre super-crime, only 24 hours are left before the climactic battle of Armageddon - and only one man who might be able to stop it.
    But will he? The Son of the Bat meets the Prince of Darkness and the stage is set for the ultimate battle between evil and moral ambiguity. Can Damian make peace with his heritage to save the world? Find out in BATMAN #666, "Numbers of the Beast."

    On sale May 30 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

    February 12, 2007

    Ghostbusters and Pac-Man

    The topic for last week's illustration challenge at the BlueSky blog was Ghostbusters. I didn't find the entries too exciting, except for one that managed to combine two of the biggest pop culture icons of the mid-80's.

    ghostbusters - pac-man picture by Jake


    The name of the piece is called "New Recruit" and it was done by Jake.

    Speaking of Pac-Man. Does anyone remember the old Pac-Man cartoon show that used to air Saturday mornings? I loved that cartoon. Thought it was great. I saw a bootleg of the series on DVD at the comic book shop I frequent but have been reluctant to pick it up. Two reasons: 1) The show can't possibly be as good as I remember from 1982-83 (can it?) and 2) I could never successfully explain paying $30 for a bootleg DVD of an obscure Saturday morning kiddie cartoon from the 80's to Heather.

    pac-man cartoon screen shot

    Why Is Bear Bashing So Popular?

    Fittingly, shortly after I was angered by Rick Reilly's skewering of Rex Grossman in his weekly "Life of Reilly" column in Sports Illustrated, Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Downey helps give words to my growing aggravation with the "pick on the Chicago Bears" movement that seemed to take off moments after the Super Bowl finished.

    In the week following Super Bowl XLI I've listened to the heads on ESPN call the Bears over-rated, heard people say the Bears need to at least bring in a "starter" quality quarterback to compete with Rex this off-season if not just dump Rex at the curb right now, watched David Letterman bash Rex, and all in all have seen any respect the Bears might have gotten for advancing to the Super Bowl disappear. It's been absolutely maddening.

    Consider for a moment that in 2006 the Chicago Bears:

    chicago bears logoWon 13 regular season games

    Beat the defending NFC champions - twice

    Won two playoff games, one decidedly over the #2 ranked team in the NFC and the team all the pundits thought were the real power in the NFC.

    They won with defense, they won with offense, and they won with special teams. Sometimes all together, sometimes with only one or two of those aspects of the game working for them. But they figured out how to win.

    In 2005, with pretty much the same team and a rookie quarterback (Kyle Orton), the Bears went 11-5.

    In 2006 with Rex Grossman finally starting at QB for an entire season, they wen 13-3, won two playoff games, and represented the NFC in the Super Bowl.

    That doesn't sound like an over-rated team to me. That doesn't sound like a team that doesn't deserve the right to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. That sounds like a well staffed and well coached team that knows what it is doing on the field and knows how to win games. All it is lacking is consistent play from its quarterback.

    Yes, Rex was inconsistent and down the stretch it hurt the team. But I don't flushing Rex (As Mr. Reilly seems to think is the only solution) is the solution. Nobody that shows that much potential should be given up on after one season. The guy can play.

    And the erratic late-season play of Rex Grossman shouldn't cancel out everything that the team has accomplished in two season. The Bears are good.

    Was Minnesota, Denver or Buffalo second guessed and made the butt of so many jokes when they were going to - and losing - multiple Super Bowls? They were good teams. I guess I never really paid much attention. I just hate seeing the Bears get kicked around so much.

    February 11, 2007

    Some Star Wars News From Toy Fair '07

    Toy Fair 2007 kicked off this weekend. The fair is the annual showcase for toy companies to unveil their new lines and products for the upcoming year. It gets covered pretty heavily online. I was reading Heidi MacDonald's The Beat and she reports from the first day activities. She covers some superhero stuff and then gets into some of the Star Wars items she saw. This is what caught my eye:

    ultimate Millennium FalconIt's the Ultimate Millennium Falcon from LEGO. This new collectors piece is officially the largest LEGO model ever designed. The Falcon takes over 5,000 pieces to construct and will cost you around $500. Order it today and it ships in October. The photo I provided is from the LEGO store website. Heidi's got photos that help you understand just how large this thing actually is.

    Heidi also provided this photo from the Star Wars display.

    star wars banner from toy fair

    I knew that there were plans for another Clone Wars animated series. Though this new series would be computer animated, not hand drawn like the Cartoon Network series from a few years back. And then there is the live action show that has been mentioned as well. Looks like Lucasfilm has got a definite plan in mind. It will be fun to see how these things play out.

    February 10, 2007

    I Could Use This

    Sheets with a ruler printed on them so there won't be any question as to who is taking up more space in the bed.

    bedsheets with ruler

    February 09, 2007

    Korgi

    Top Shelf Productions has got a new all-ages comic coming out this Spring that looks like it might be perfect book for Emma and Zoe. It's called Korgi and was created by former Disney animator Christian Slade.

    Top Shelf desribes Korgi like this: "a gorgeously illustrated woodland fantasy about a young girl Ivy, her dog Sprout, and their amazing adventures in Korgi Hollow."

    The artwork I've seen and the trailer Top Shelf put online supports their assertion that the book is gorgeously illustrated. I'm curious to take a look at the book when it comes out to see how strong the story is.

    snipet from korgi

    Interstate Map As Subway Map

    A guy re-created a map of the U.S. interstate system as a subway map. I think it's pretty cool.

    Though I take exception to how he lines up Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville, etc. directly under Chicago. I would have moved those cities over to the right. I-65 does not go through Chicago - which his map implies.

    snippet of the interstate map


    He will even let you order full-size printed versions of the map.

    Indiana Jones 4 Set for May 2008

    Indiana JonesParamount Pictures announced the planned released date of the as-of-yet untitled fourth Indiana Jones movie. May 22, 2008.

    Don't know anything about the story, other than that there is a screenplay. David Koepp wrote the screenplay. George Lucas approved the screenplay. Harrison Ford agreed to act from the screenplay. And Steven Spielberg agreed to direct the screenplay being acted out by Harrison Ford.

    But Paramount is confident that everything will be ready to go on Thursday, May 22, 2008. So start standing in line now . . . if that's your sorta thing.

    February 08, 2007

    How I Spent Wednesday Night

    As I alluded to in a post yesterday, Heather has been pretty ill. I stayed home from work on Wednesday to handle getting the kids off to school, lunches, etc. Basically playing Mr. Mom.

    Late Wednesday night, after the kids were asleep, the dishes were done, and Heather was off to bed as well, I sat down for a bowl of ice cream and little late night television. I got about twenty minutes into an episode of Alias on TNT when I decided it was better for me to head to bed than stay up and watch Jennifer Garner kick ass. Whether Heather needed me home again on Thursday or if I headed off to work, it was going to be an early morning and full day. Best to get some shut-eye.

    A fateful decision.

    Around 11:30pm, as I was heading upstairs, I heard Ian crying in his bedroom. I went directly to see him, assuming that he had woken up after having a bad dream. I started talking to him when he suddening stood up and announced that he needed to go pee. I let him. No more than fifteen seconds later I heard that sound that all parents dread – the heaving/coughing of one of their children vomiting.

    I rushed down the hallway and opened the door to the bathroom. Nothing I had experienced as a parent could have prepared me for what I was about to see: Ian hunched over the toilet getting ready to launch another salvo, vomit covering practically every inch of the toilet - inside and out. And his blown chunks weren’t just on the toilet, they were on the floor, the side of the vanity, in the bath tube, on the shower curtain, and there were sprinkles on the wall behind where he was standing. It was like he had gone “Linda Blair” on us. If I didn't already know that I was going to be responsible for cleaning this disaster up I would have been impressed with Ian's 360 action.

    I got him cleaned up and back in bed. There I set him up with some towels, a wet washcloth, and every sick kid’s friend: a bucket with a little bit of water in the bottom. Then it was time to get to cleaning the bathroom – at 11:45pm. So much for getting to bed myself.

    Just as I was getting the bathroom to a state were I didn’t think it posed a significant health threat to anyone else, Ian let off with another series of heaves. After helping him out I was set on getting ready for bed myself, with plans of camping out on the futon in the office that is adjacent to Ian’s room. That way I could quickly get to him the rest of the night if needed. I stopped outside the girls’ bedroom and picked up a basket of clothes, which I quietly snuck inside to deposit by their dresser. As I was turning to leave Zoe sat up in her crib and proceeded to offer her own puke response to Ian’s late evening display of retching.

    I scooped her up and ran her to the newly cleaned bathroom so she could finish off in the toilet. Sensing things might be getting pretty bad; Heather was out of bed now and was stripping Zoe’s dirty sheets off her bed. I wrapped Zoe in a blanket and sat her on the bathroom floor. I was going to go help Heather when I heard Ian in his bedroom. He was throwing up again.

    “What the hell is going on?” was all I could mutter as I silently prayed that Emma would stay asleep.

    Luckily for Emma’s health and bed linens, and my sanity, she remained sound asleep all night without incident. After Zoe let loose with a second round in the toliet I decided that we would move Zoe’s mattress into Ian’s bedroom, strategically place the bucket between the two of them, and I would sleep on the floor of Ian’s room to help both of them through their illness.

    midnight clockZoe went through a second set of sheets, two pillowcases, one pillow, and a blanket. Ian kept having to jump out of bed to use the bucket. It was quite the puking party. When I actually got to sit down on the floor in Ian’s room to rest I glanced at the clock and noticed the time: 12:30am. That might have been one of the busiest hours of my life. I had helped two children through multiple cookie-tossing sessions, cleaned a bathroom one and half times, moved furniture, and in general been in constant reaction mode to everything going on.

    But through it all Ian and Zoe both remained in great spirits. Sleep for about twenty minutes. Upchuck. Rinse. Repeat. No big deal. Zoe was excited when I came in with pink sheets for her bed (“Yay! I’m getting PINK sheets!). Ian and I spent time chatting on all sorts of topics, and he got a little reading in. If not for the dry heaving, I was kinda having fun with Ian and Zoe.

    By about 4:30am or 5am their stomachs had settled down enough that they could drift back to sleep for good. I was finally able to go to sleep as well.

    They popped up ready to take on the day around 7am. Heather was still feeling ill, but was in good enough shape that she could handle the kids and let me let me sleep later into the morning.

    When I came downstairs I was greeted by happy, smiling kids who didn’t seem to have a problem in the world. Was last night a dream? The piles of dirty sheets, pillows, and the lingering mess in the bathroom assured me that it was not.

    The rest of the day passed without incident. Nary a cough of complaint of an upset stomach from either Ian or Zoe. Not sure what caused the overnight vomit fest, but I’m glad it looks like it was temporary.

    Nights like last night are the types of events that come with the challenges of being a parent. Truth be told I kinda reveal in those sorts of situations. Sure I don’t like my kids being sick or having troubles, but there is sort of rush that comes with having to deal with the chaos of having two kids starting throwing up within thirty minutes of each other in the dead of the night. There isn’t time to plan, you just have to act and react, determining on the fly what is going to be the best decision for everyone given the situation. It’s kinda exciting.

    Except for the smell. I don’t like the smell.

    February 07, 2007

    Random Bits

  • If how Emma critiques the coloring techniques of the boy who sits next to her in pre-school is a precursor of things to come, I don't see how any man will ever measure up enough for her to say "Yes" to a marriage proposal.

    When she got home from school today I listened to her go on for ten minutes about how horribly this kid at school colored. She even demonstrated how he colored for me. And from her tone and facial expressions I could tell that because of this little flaw (bad coloring form), she had little respect for the kid.

    Ouch.

  • I'm almost ashamed to give this bit of non-news any space here, but I can't believe the NFL and CBS are actually getting complaints prince at the superbowlabout Prince's halftime show at the Super Bowl this past Sunday.

    Some people are upset because they think that shadow Prince's guitar solo cast behind a flowing sheet was a little too "suggestive" with its placement of his guitar.

    Hmmm. You mean a rock guitarist was handling his guitar in a somewhat sexually suggestion manner? Good God, this has got to stop! When did this start happening?

    Crap, if the FCC makes any move towards the NFL or CBS because of these complaints then I'll be convinced that we are living (at least from a media watchdog standpoint) in 1957. Look it up.

    Personally I thought Prince put together the best halftime show at the Super Bowl in ages. And as for the controversy, I think Rolling Stone magazine contributing editor Gavin Edwards puts it best, "If people want to be hypersensitive, they can be hypersensitive. Those trombones are phallic, too. What are you going to do?"

  • I picked up JLA Classified #32 last weekend on a lark because of a few favorable things I had read about it online. Typically I stay clear of the JLA Classified book because I only need so much JLA in my life, but this story by Dan Slot, Dan Jurgens, and Trevor Scott sounded really interesting. After reading it this past week I'm glad I decided to give it a shot.

    cover artwork for jla classified 32The issue is the first part of the six-part "The 4th Parallel" storyline. Issue #32 is pretty much an origin story for the villain the JLA will eventually be taking on in "The 4th Parallel," but I found it very entertaining none the less. (Origin stories can be painfully boring sometimes.) Slott really pull together some interesting scenes and sets up a really cool concept to drive the story. I thought he also did an admirable job of establishing and genuinely building up this new villain to JLA-worthy status.

    I was also impressed with Dan Jurgens work on the book. He handled the rough layouts and Trevor Scott finished the art on the pages. Jurgens has been doing the same thing on Nightwing and I have found his layouts fairly boring and pedestrian. But in this first issue on JLA Classified he demonstrates some dynamic layouts and the skillful storytelling techniques I have come to expect from a seasoned veteran like Jurgens.

    I'm thinking I might actually add JLA Classified to my comic shop pull-list until "The 4th Parallel" wraps up so that I don't miss any part of the story.
  • Breaking My Music Cocoon

    Heather is battling through a nasty, nasty stomach virus, so I stayed home today to play Mr. Mom. While Ian and Emma were at school, I turned on WXRT to listen to while I cleaned some things up and settled into some rousing playtime with Zoe and her Littlest Pet Shop toys.

    While I was sitting on the floor with Zoe I realized that I hadn't listened to regular broadcast radio in months. Since getting my iPod about a year and half ago, it has increasingly become my sole source for music listening. Even though I have an adapter that allows me to listen to FM radio on my iPod, I have been using it less and less. I either listen to the podcasts I have stored up or I cycle through my different playlists.

    old radioBut as I sat and listened to what XRT was playing, it occurred to me that always plugging in the iPod basically put me in a musical cocoon. With my iPod I listen exclusively to the music I have selected and purchased. There aren't any new surprises. There aren't any songs that I sorta like, but not enough to own. It's all stuff that I was interested in enough to buy (or search out how to successfully steal). Like today they played "Domino", one of the few Van Morrison songs that I kinda enjoy. Never would have heard it on my iPod, but I enjoyed hearing it pop up on the radio.

    I guess that's my point. The iPod takes away the spontaneity of listening to music. The iPod just feeds you back the same stuff you already know you like. Nothing new or different or marginally enjoyable suddenly pops into the earphone connected to you iPod because you have created your own little music universe to play in. Stay there too long and I think you will become stale in your enjoyment and appreciation of music. I need to make a point of breaking out of my musical cocoon more to keep things fresh.

    February 06, 2007

    Random Bits

  • According to the results of a new survey I might be going about my relationship with Heather in the wrong way.
    Women on average say they would be willing to give up sex for 15 months for a closet full of new apparel, with 2 percent ready to abstain from sex for three years in exchange for new duds, according to a new survey of about 1,000 women in 10 U.S. cities.
    I gonna start hording all the clothing catalogs that show up at home and start shiopping my way to an eternally happy wife.

  • I don't always agree with Chicago Tribune columnist Rick Morrissey's take on things. Particularly the Chicago Bears, but I do agree with his column today concerning the future of Bears QB Rex Grossman. Basically Morrissey argues that the Bears can win a Super Bowl with Rex behind center.
    It's going to take everything that Grossman has to turn himself into a quarterback who is content to make a few plays a game. He has been raised to be a star. The Bears don't need a star quarterback. They need a good quarterback.

    He can be that. Good Rex is in there. You can't do what he did in the first five games of the season and be a fraud. There is talent there. Grossman's problem is that his team is too good for him right now, and he thinks he needs to keep up.


  • What might have been . . .

    un-used chicago bear super bowl xli championship t-shirt

    Give me a few more days to work all this Chicago Bear frustration out. . .
  • Crazy Cowboy Stories

    snippet from today's sheldon comic stripToday's Sheldon is really funny.

    Since discovering Dave Kellet's strip I continue to be impressed with his cartooning. He is consistently delivering intelligent, funny comics that are also artistically wonderful to look at. The man has got a unique voice and showcases superbly in his strip. He knows how to tell a joke with words and pictures, but can also pull it back when needed to tell a compelling story with heart and soul.

    Sheldon is the complete package. I would put Sheldon right up there with FoxTrot, Get Fuzzy, and Monty as one of the best comics that I've seen being published today

    Unleash the Dragon

    It's been said that good humor starts grows from a nugget of truth.

    My sister sent me this last night. I think Rex is great, but I still think this is pretty funny. Mostly because there is some truth to it.

    Goin Deep Club


    If somebody puts this on a shirt, I'll buy it.

    February 05, 2007

    The Team Lost the Super Bowl

    I'm disappointed that the Bears lost yesterday and this is all I'm going to say about it. . .

    Last night on the 10 o'clock news of Chicago's local NBC affiliate, the station was running a ticker across the bottom of the screen with messages sent in from viewers regarding the Super Bowl. Most of them were cheesy things like "i still luv da bears", "shuda brought da coach", and "we'll get em next year." But every third message was something along the lines of "rex sux" or "shouda pulled rex." And that was the extent of any finger pointing I saw. Either they professed their love for the Bears or they inferred that Rex lost the Super Bowl for Chicago

    I don't know if these people were watching the same Super Bowl that I was, but in the game I saw it was the Brian Urlacher and the Chicago Bear defense that lost the Super Bowl for Chicago. Rex failed to win it for Chicago.

    Rex gave the defense a 14 - 6 advantage at the end first quarter, but Urlacher and the defense couldn't stop Peyton Manning and the Colts for the next two quarters. The Colts passed when they wanted to pass. Ran when they wanted to run. Converted on 3rd and long when they wanted to. The Bears offense can't put up more points if they aren't on the field. The Colts were able to grind out 191 yards on the ground and chew up the clock. They had the ball for something like 40 minutes of the game.

    True, Rex threw a costly interception that was run back for a touchdown and sealed the Bears' fate. But he had to throw in bad weather because the Bears were down by five points with little time on the clock because the Bears defense couldn't stop the Colts.

    So don't tell me that Rex is the reason the Bears didn't get the trophy Sunday night. The whole team lost the Super Bowl last night.

    Devon Hester At the end of Super Bowl XLI


    (image from chicagotribune.com)

    February 04, 2007

    Go Bears!

    Proud to be from a city that begins with a "C", ends with an "O", and has "HICAG" in the middle.

    Hopefully the Bears got Ditka to drive the team bus down to Miami.

    GO BEARS!


    And for a prediction on the outcome of the game today, check out this piece of vintage video.

    February 02, 2007

    Will Eisner Official Homepage

    Earlier this week an official website for the late comics master Will Eisner launched.

    will Eisner signature


    While the site is dedicated to showcasing all of the fantastic work that Eisner produced through out his career, his work with The Spirit stands out and dominates most of the site. Not that I am complaining. I think Denny Colt is a wonderful character and not only enjoyed how he was handled by his creator, but also how Darwyn Cooke has stepped in to chronicle new adventures of the Spirit over at DC Comics.

    The information on the site is fairly extensive. It lists out all of the different books and collections that Eisner's work has appeared in. There are galleries of Eisner's work, and sections dedicated specifically to two of his character creations: The Spirit and John Law. They have a forum and the beginnings of a wiki called "Eisnerpedia." The wiki is currently very sparse, but I am sure it will grow in time.

    It's a nice site. You should check it out.

    Super Bowl XLI Prediction - Da' Bears

    Before the Bears' two playoff games this year I wrote about my apprehensions concerning the team's chances on moving to the next round. I didn't know what to expect when they played Seattle, and while I was a little more confident before they took on the Saints, I still had some serious reservations.

    si cover with the bears on it right before the super bowlSo what are my thoughts on the eve of the Chicago Bears' return to the Super Bowl and taking on the Indianapolis Colts and their football god of a quarterback, Peyton Manning?

    I'm totally drinking the kool-aid for this game. I'm fully expecting the Bears to win.

    I've decided to stop worrying and guessing about their chances of winning. What the Bears have slowly proved to me this season is that they just flat out know how to win. They did it in the regular season. They did it in the playoffs. It hasn't been pretty at times, but the team fights until they end up on top. Such will be the case this Sunday.

    So I'm not worried about a Sports Illustrated cover jinx. Heck, Peyton was on last week. Technically both teams have been featured before they play their next game, usually sign of when the jinx is in effect. So any jinx gets canceled out.

    I'm not worried that practically everybody in the known universe is picking the Colts to win. We know the ESPN boys (with the exception of some guy named "Allen" and probably Michael Wilbon) are all picking the Colts, but they've already proven that they don't know anything. So what the pundits say means nothing to me.

    espn predictions


    And don't even ask me about what Sports Illustrated's Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman is smokin'. He compares the Colts and Bears position by position and the Bears come out on top: 14-9-4. Yet he picks the Colts to win 34 - 24 solely on the strength of Peyton Manning.

    This is what I know. The Bears have an excellent defense, a great running game, and powerful special teams lead by Robbie "Money" Gould. That was a perfect mix to get them the best record in the NFC and into the Super Bowl.

    Quarterback Rex Grossman can be erratic, but when he's on he's one of the best playing the game right now. The kid's got a powerful arm that can throw one of the prettiest spirals I have ever seen, dropping the football perfectly into an in-stride running receiver's hands. And Rex always believes he's going to come out on top.

    super bowl xli logoPeyton Manning is a fantastic quarterback who runs a high-powered offense with great precision, but I don't think it will be enough to overcome the Bears. Peyton can't win an entire game on his own.

    The Colts defense, while seemingly improved during the playoffs, still isn't good enough to stop runners of the caliber of Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson. And once those guys get going things are going to open up for Rex to start throwing the ball around.

    I'm not saying it won't be a tense game. It could very well end of being a game like the Seattle divisional playoff with lots of back and forth and plenty of nail biting. But in the end I think the Chicago Bears will come out on top - winners - like they have done so many times already this season.

    Spring is Coming Early

    punxsutawney philAt least that's what Punxsutawney Phil declared this morning. The famous groundhog didn't see his shadow this morning when a bunch of old guys in top hats dragged the sleepy little guy out of his house early this morning.

    No shadow means that spring should arrive soon, and when you consider the weather in Chicago today and the next five days, a early spring would probably be appreciated by some people.



    Not me though. I love the cold weather. Makes you feel alive.

    Update: But who really cares about Punxsutawney Phil. Everyone knows he's just a puppet for the Man. What I'm interested in is whether Woodstock Willie picked the Colts or the Bears to win the Super Bowl.

    February 01, 2007

    More Books from First Second

    First Second is quickly becoming the publisher I want to read more and more of - and I haven't even gotten one of their books yet!

    This publisher of graphic novels (an imprint of Roaring Brook Press) launched their first line in the spring of 2006, and has been putting out interesting books since then. In 2006 books like The Lost Colony, Journey Into Mohawk Country, and the award winning American Born Chinese all caught my eye and went on my reading list. Not only are the concepts and stories original, the books look to be both entertaining and thought provoking. First Second really seems to be fully embracing the concept of a "graphic novel" when selecting and publishing their projects. These aren't just really thick comic books they put out in the market. These books are pieces of literature with a unique voice and message.

    Earlier this week First Second announced the books they will be publishing as part of their Spring 2007 catalog. Again I see a number of books that immediately grab my attention. Of course there is second volume of The Lost Colony where creator Grady Klein continues to take a fun and thought provoking look at American history. I have yet to read the first one, so maybe I should wait for the The Lost Colony: Book Two: The Red Menace to arrive, buy both, and make a weekend of reading.

    Then there are three other books that I will want to take a look at when they hit store shelves later this year:

    black diamond detective agency coverBLACK DIAMOND DETECTIVE AGENCY

    From the First Second website: John Hardin is a desperate man. He is the sole suspect of the renowned Black Diamond Detective Agency, a private operation determined to solve the mystery and bring its perpetrators to justice-at any cost. Once a quiet Missouri corn farmer, Hardin now finds himself on the run in turn-of-the-century Chicago.

    Basically The Fugitive set at the turn of the century. Eddie Campbell, of From Hell fame, handled the art chores, and he's working from a screenplay written by C. Gaby Mitchell. Sounds like good fun. Can't speak to Mitchell's abilities, but I know Campbell is fantastic artist and storyteller.

    Plus the trailer FIrst Second put together for the book really sells it well.

    tiny tyrant coverTINY TYRANT

    From the First Second website: The little despot is grouchy, whiny, and demanding-everything you'd hate to find in a boy on a throne. But here in Portocristo, anything he says goes, no matter how bizarre or harebrained. Prepare for zaniness as young King Ethelbert transports himself back in time to meet a dinosaur, swaps his country's kids for Ethelbert robots, tests his bodyguard's mettle by putting a price on his own head, and shrinks the world down to his size.

    This one didn't leap out at me until I read the excerpt provided on the site. I knew Lewis Trondheim's name from some other work he had done, like the excellent Li'l Santa series of books, but his name alone doesn't draw me into a book. However the ten page preview of Tiny Tyrant showcases Trondheim's off-the-wall humor and artist Fabrice Parme's energetic artwork. The books look great. I really think it's something Ian would enjoy as well.

    THE PROFESSOR'S DAUGHTERTHE PROFESSOR'S DAUGHTER

    From the First Second website: Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert bring the true spirit of Victorian London to life in this witty, engaging, sepia-colored tale of a proper but mischievous young girl and the mummy who opens his eyes for the first time in 3,000 years and instantly falls in love with her. Will the love between Lillian and Imhotep IV survive when their fathers, the London police, and even the Royal Archeological Society are all determined to keep them apart?

    That's right, a 3,000-year-old mummy falling in love with a professor's daughter in Victorian age London. Not sure if a concept for a book could be more outlandish, but after reading the excerpt I really believe this book will work. The artwork is beautifully impressionistic, and from the few scenes that we get to see in the preview, Guibert demonstrates a wonderfully skillful eye for panel design. Sfar's dialogue is evocative of the Victorian age without creating barriers to the characters or the story. And that's just how I feel after reading fourteen pages.