July 31, 2007

LEGO Indiana Jones

Oh, things just keep getting better and better. Good thing Ian's got a Nintendo DS now. Means once we snag ourselves a copy of this I can sneak away at night and play.

lego indiana jones image

LEGO Indiana Jones is scheduled to come out next summer, presumably in conjunction with Indy IV.

Emma's Off and Riding

Emma and her bikeEmma is riding a two-wheeler already. She up and decided it was time last week. The bike Emma is currently riding was a Christmas present from my Dad in 2005. Last summer she rode it with the training wheel a little bit, but I think she was trying to figure out how to ride a bike by watching the other kids before she committed too much time doing it herself. That just seems to be how Emma operates. Intense observation before committing to action.

Apparently all her watching paid off. This spring she jumped on the bike and started riding like a wild woman. All summer she’s been flying up and down the block faster than I though possible on a bike with training wheels. She was a maniac. At times I was a concerned she was going to hurt herself.

Then one afternoon last week she told Heather that she wanted the training wheels off her bike. I guess she had watched her brother, a newly minted two-wheel rider, enough to be confident in taking the next step in her bike riding evolution. The training wheels came off.

After one trip down the block with Heather supporting her, Emma was off and riding like a pro. We still have to help her get started, but considering Emma’s track record for mastering new physical tasks, that shouldn’t take very long at all.
Emma - Riding Without Training Wheels

Oh, and thank goodness for skorts - skirts with shorts inside of them. I don't know how Emma would ride a bike otherwise.

July 30, 2007

Iron Man Movie Teaser

iron man from the movieI'm not going to embed the video because it might get yanked from YouTube, but this bootleg version of the teaser video screened at last weekend's San Diego ComicCon does an impressive job of selling next summer's Iron Man movie.

Iron Man Teaser

Robert Downey Jr. looks great as an arrogant Tony Stark, and the shots of the Iron Man armor - both the early, clunky gray armor, and the sleeker, red and gold armor, are fantastic. I'm definitely keeping my eye on this movie.

Perks of Parenthood

meThis evening Emma and Zoe were playing on the couch while Heather was finishing with dinner. I was helping with getting the food to the table. Meanwhile the girls were giggling and laughing - flat out making a lot of noise. I wasn't playing close attention, but it looked like Zoe was tickling Emma.

Suddenly Emma shouts, "DAD! Zoe is scatching my nipple! She's supposed to be scratching my back and she's scratching my nipple!!"

Now the noises I heard coming from the couch were not ones I ever associated with back scratching. But never the less, I couldn't pass up a perfect opportunity to exploit my role as father and responsible adult to put myself into a position to utter - with all seriousness (at least as far as Emma and Zoe were concerned) - a sentence that in all my years on the planet I never expected to ever say.

"Zoe, do not scratch your sister's nipples. There will be no nipple scratching."

God, I love being a parent sometimes.

Duke - The Super Action Dog

Man, did they make some strange toys back in the 1970's.

clip of duke the super action dog ad
Not only was it an action toy line built around a single, generic looking dog, but he used a periscope too.

[via]

Arrr! Ian Has a Birthday Party

We hosted a birthday party for Ian this past weekend where a bunch of his friends from school and the neighborhood all descended upon our house.

13 kids in total aged 8 and under. Which is way outside my comfort zone. I love my kids, but other people's . . .

Anyway, it was my first experience with playing host to a kid's birthday party. Sure Heather and a friend of ours ran most of the party, but I helped out as well.

So much noise and random behavior. It's clear to me why I never became a teacher.

The theme of the party was Pirates of the Caribbean. Even though Ian's only seen the first film, he's read the junior novelizations for all three movies and loves the franchise - as it were. We had eye patches and temporary tattoos, a bunch of pirate themed games (including walking the plank over a kiddie pool), and treasure chest pinata.

But the highlight of the party, in my opinion, was the birthday cake Heather crafted. Easily one of her finest creations to date, she made a pirate's treasure chest that was partially open to reveal the gold coins contained within.

Ian's 8th Birthday Cake
And it tasted as good as it looked.

July 28, 2007

Marion's Back

Tons of interesting news coming out of San Diego ComicCon. Yesterday during a panel about Indiana Jones IV it was revealed that Karen Allen was returning to reprise the role of Marion Ravenswood she created back in Raiders of the Lost Arc.

Linkindy 4 cast
This is fantastic news. Marion was the perfect female foil to Indy, and I always felt the other three films suffered a bit because of Karen Allen's absence. It's only fitting that the series would (presumably) wrap up by bringing Marion back into the mix.

Lucasfilm also relaunched the Indiana Jones website to better feed the marketing and fan hype machine leading into the Memorial Day 2008 release of the film.

July 27, 2007

The Dark Knight Teaser Trailer Released

This morning's publicity stunt that started with a cryptic website and which rolled into an elaborate scavenger hunt in San Diego, ended with the release of new photo of the Joker from next summer's The Dark Knight along with the release of the first teaser trailer for the film.

joker with knife in The Dark KnightThere isn't a whole lot to the teaser trailer. It's Bat-symbol slowly being chipped away and destroyed while a snippets of a conversation between Bruce Wayne and Alfred can be heard. Joker jumps in to deliver a line before the Bat-symbol explodes to reveal a brief glimpse of a joker playing card.

the dark knight teaser trailer screenshotStill, I downloaded the 75 MB high definition trailer to my laptop so that I can watch it a few times. I'm a Batman nut.

From the little that is said, it would appear Christopher Nolan might be taking Batman versus Joker as a metaphor for order versus chaos. A theme that I've always thought worked well with these characters. However there is so little in the trailer that really nothing about the nature of the film can really be learned. I guess that's what makes waiting so much fun.

For more information about the viral publicity stunt, along with some photos of the event, check out IESB Movies.

Wall of LEGO Star Wars

One year I'll have to make the trip out to San Diego for the Comic Con. Then I would get to see cool things like a huge Star Wars mural made out of LEGO pieces for myself.

star wars wall of lego from
[via]

The Dark Knight at San Diego ComicCon?

poster from the siteSomething is going to happen. And according to this new viral site, it's happening in about 2 minutes

www.whysoserious.com

Update: 12:02pm - the directions on the site said you needed someone on the ground in San Diego and someone with access to the web. Now I see why. From the instructions that popped up, I'm guessing a plane or helicopter is flying overhead with instructions that the guy on the ground is to relay to web-enable person to enter into the refreshed site.

I guess I'll have to wait for some of this to play out and read the reports later.

July 26, 2007

Asses Kicked Count Goes to 4

Kevin keeps kicking 'em
"The murderous activities of the Chicago "Outfit," as described in recent trial testimony, seem child's play compared with the slithering, venomous machinations of that deformed devil, Richard III. But Richard has poetry as well as naked ambition on his side, and Kevin McKillip's bravura performance as the scheming monarch for First Folio Shakespeare Festival is one of the finest I've seen in the role.

...

But even on a hot night, McKillip's cold fury and command of the language and his physical instrument could raise goose bumps."
So says Kerry Reid in the Chicago Tribune about my brother's performance as Richard III in the play by the same name currently playing at the First Folio Shakespeare Festival.

Make Mine Empire (At Least This Month)

Empire is a British magazine dedicated to covering the movie industry. I've never actually read an issue of the mag, but I am aware of it.

After finding a copy of the cover to recently-on-newsstands September 2007 issue I think I want to find out where Empire is sold State-side.

cover to september 2007 issue of Empire magazine
Indiana Jones, Batman, and what's looking like a pretty cool Iron Man movie all on the cover? That's too good to pass up.

I'm Sure It Was An All-Beef Hot Dog

dupage county fair iconLast night my Dad took Emma and Zoe to the DuPage County Fair (He will take Ian separately later this week).

He was a little skittish about taking both girls to the fair at the same time. I think he was concerned about his ability to juggle the needs and conflicting interests of a 3-year-old girl and an almost 5-year-old girl in the hectic surroundings of a county fair.

I convinced him on the phone that he would do fine, and didn’t even have to use the fact that Heather’s mother and father just finished wrangling 10 kids ranging in age from 4 to 11 for six consecutive days in my argument.

When he dropped the girls off at our house late Wednesday night safe and sound not only did he prove that my faith in him well placed, but that his parenting skills were still honed to razor sharpness after all these years.

After an evening of consuming cotton candy, ice cream, and other sugary goodness, riding stomach churning carny rides, and watching cows defecate; Emma complained to my father that her stomach hurt. She thought that maybe she needed something healthy to eat.

My father’s solution to the problem?

He bought Emma a hot dog from a carny operator.

Dr. Spock can kiss my Dad’s ass.

July 25, 2007

How Many More Days Until Kick-Off?

my brain on footballI'm happy that the Chicago Cubs are on a 20-7 tear and making a real push at winning the NL Central division, but with each passing of another summer day I find myself becoming more eager for the start of the college and pro football seasons.

Is that wrong?

I don't think so.

There isn't much talk about college football - yet. But with the Chicago Bears opening training camp this coming Monday, along with the rest of the NFL teams, I can't help but start getting myself into a football sort of mood.

July 24, 2007

Kevin Kicks More Asses

Kevin's impressed the theater critic for the Daily Herald
"If the stage is Richard's, First Folio Shakespeare Festival's exceptional production belongs to artistic associate Kevin McKillip. For the better part of three hours, the lean, charismatic McKillip commands the stage in the titular role of the "rudely stamped... deformed, unfinished, sent before (his) time" Richard. A highly theatrical villain whose misshapen body suggests his twisted soul, he is a compelling figure, wielding words as incisively as other men wield swords and wooing and winning a woman in spite of her hatred for him.

McKillip's sly, glib performance impresses for its physicality (body contorted, he capers nimbly across the stage) and its humor (he uses wisely his smirk). And yet, a flicker of regret or the trace of conscience sometimes clouds his expression, but only for a moment. The pursuit of power allows no time for self-pity and remorse."
Richard III runs through August 12 at the First Folio Shakespeare Festival

A New Golden Age of Comics

Over at Comics Should Be Good!, Greg Burgas writes at length why he believes that comics are experiencing a new Golden Age. He argues that comics are more readily available, more popular, and created with greater skill than at any time in the past. Plus, the diversity in the types of comics being produced today is unmatched.

In addition to his commentary, he fills out his post with a monstrous list of great comic recommendation encompassing all genres. Very few superhero comics are even mentioned.

If you can't find a type of comic in the list Greg provides, then I don't you are a very interesting person.

Green Lantern's Ring

hal jordan green lanternThis is way cooler way of making your own glowing Green Lantern ring than what I did as a kid with an Chicago Cubs ring, a flashlight, and some green cellophane.

This guy shows you how to construct your own Green Lantern ring by casting it in translucent resin and embedding a green LED inside of it.


resin green lantern ring with led inside

July 23, 2007

Manga Peanuts?

The Scooby Manga was sorta interesting.

This is an abomination.

manga peanuts

Things I Learned This Weekend While Traveling To Ohio To Pick Up Two Of My Children Who Had Been Staying With Their Grandparents All Week

Zoe is my kind of traveler
She’s a “let’s go, let’s go, let’s go” sort of girl. We stopped for dinner and some stretching of the legs at rest spot on the Indiana Turnpike. Zoe has barely swallowed her last chicken nugget and slurped the last drop of chocolate milk when she begins asking Heather and I if we are done with our dinners.

When we let her know that we were done with our meals, she excitedly declared, “Then let’s get back in the van and go to Grandma’s and Papa’s house!” while sliding out of her chair.

It took some convincing that using the restroom and walking around a bit was a good idea before jumping right back into the van, but she finally relented.

That’s how I like to travel. Screw the rest stops and bathroom breaks. You can rest when the journey is complete. Until then, keep plowing ahead!

I’m too old to sleep on the floor anymore
There was a time when I could sleep anywhere. In chairs, on floors, in closets. Not anymore. Apparently my 34 year-old body needs properly constructed sleeping furniture in order for me to get my needed slumber.


The Ash - Michael Vick Connection
Ash is the main character in the Pokemon cartoons. I know this because Ian and his male cousins are all huge Pokemon fans.

For the van ride home from Ohio, Heather had borrowed a Pokemon DVD from the library for Ian to watch - which he did with great enjoyment.

But while Ian learned about some Pokemon named Evee, Heather and I made a more nefarious discovery.

Heather: “So Ash goes around with these Pokemon trapped inside his little case and fights the Pokemon against other people’s Pokemon?”

Brendan: “That about right.”

H: “So it’s like cock-fighting.”

B: “I guess so. Or Ash is a young Michael Vick.”

ashe from pokemonmichael vick

Should I be worried about this connection? Is Pokemon a feeder system for competitive dog fighting?

Being a parent is so hard these days.

July 20, 2007

Batman: Strange Apparitions

cover to Detective Comics 473I’m only about halfway through Steve Englehart’s and Marshall Rogers’ Batman: Strange Apparitions and already I think it might be the greatest Batman story I have ever read.

The stories are big and bold, with perfect mixes of over-the-top super heroics and melodrama. Englehart’s stories are sitting right on the dividing line of the goofy superhero stories of the 60’s and the darker, more serious themed books of the 80’s, while not wallowing in the socially relevant storylines that many books of the 70’s made as their bread and butter. The stories crackly with energy.

And damn, if the issues that Marshall Rogers penciled don’t spring to life from the page. I am finally beginning to understand now why so many people talk glowingly of this run on Detective Comics by Englehart and Rogers. I might just start reading more slowly so I can savor every last word and drawing.

July 18, 2007

Scientists and Cartoons

Jesse Springer cartoon
Every year The Union of Concerned Scientists, an organization of professional scientists concerned about the Federal government's attempts to interfere in scientific research, sponsor a contest to find the best editorial cartoon representing this topic.

This year the judges are Garry Trudeau, Tom Toles, and Dave Coverly; who have recently narrowed the list of finalists to 12. Now the public gets to weigh in on which cartoon they think is best. The winner received a trip to Washington D.C. and cash. You can vote online.

The cartoon above is the one I voted for.

The Dark Knight Movie News

I've been reading the set reports trickling in from people sneaking around the Chicago filming of The Dark Knight. Most of the filming happens at night, so I don't get the opportunity hang around the sets. But I'm still crazy interested in what's going on.

No massive spoilers to be found yet, though I'm not really trying that hard. I enjoyed director Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins tremendously and have full confidence that he will deliver again in his second outing with the Dark Knight. I don't want the experience of the new film to be robbed from me.

The local FOX television affiliate shot some video the other night that showed the crew getting the Batmobile into position for some stunts and shots, including some with Heath Ledger in full Joker make-up.

It kinda long and lacking on action, but for a guy who loves Batman and all the behind-the-scenes stuff studios cram onto DVDs, I ate this video up.

July 17, 2007

Kevin Takes on Richard III

This summer Kevin was given the opportunity, and the responsibility, of carrying the Firt Folio's production of Richard III. It opened last weekend.

kevin as richard IIINow, my parents raised my siblings and I to be humble. And as a result we rarely, if ever, toot our own horns or draw much attention to our accomplishments.

But my parents also gave us siblings, and it's a big brother's duty to let the world know when their little brother is kicking ass and taking names.
"(Kevin McKillip) is one of the most underappreciated classical actors working in Chicago."
That's what Tom Williams of ChicagoCritic.com said while discussing my brother's recent turn as title character in Shakespeare's play.

Judging from the early reviews, the challenge of being Richard III is one that Kevin has risen up to meet. ChicagoCritic gave it a wonderful review, as did the Chicago Sun-Times.
And from his first determined jump onto the stage, Kevin McKillip -- fleet, witty and twisted, superbly in command of the play's language and with a flair for mixing silent film villainy with flashes of real despair -- lets us know we are in the presence of an actor who can hold the stage for three full hours.
Way to go, Kevin. Keep kicking asses.

Reasons to Love Comics #197 - Jim Aparo

jim aparo batman coverOver at Comics Should Be Good!, they are counting down 365 reasons to love comics. Yesterday's reason (#197) was the wonderful art of Jim Aparo.

Mr. Aparo died two years ago this week. At the time I tried to explain the importance of Aparo's contribution to comics and why I will always remember his work fondly. However, I think Bill Reed does a bang-up job of revealing the brilliance that was Jim Aparo.

After reading Reed's post I'm tempted to go home and dig out some old Batman comics from the early 90's or my Showcase Presents: The Brave and The Bold collection.

I Won't Be Able To Stay Away

I know I gave up on All-Star Batman and Robin because of the lateness of the issues. But as Jim Lee continues to sneak peeks at pencils for what he's working on I have to admit that I will be picking this series up when Frank Miller and Lee complete their run and the story is collected in one volume.

pencils from batman and robin by jim lee
I just enjoy Jim Lee drawing Batman too much to stay away for too long.

July 16, 2007

Doh! Aren't Marketers Great!

homer simpson offers donut to the Cerne Abbas giantTo help promote the soon-to-be-released The Simpsons Movie, a giant 180-foot Homer Simpson in underpants with donut in hand was painted next to the ancient 180-foot famous fertility symbol - the Cerne Abbas giant in Dorset, England.

Apparently the Pagans are all bent out of shape because of this perceived desecration.
Ann Bryn-Evans, joint Wessex district manager for The Pagan Federation, said: “It’s very disrespectful and not at all aesthetically pleasing.

“We were hoping for some dry weather but I think I have changed my mind. We’ll be doing some rain magic to bring the rain and wash it away.”
Whatever. Maybe I would think differently if I were a pagan, but I'm not. I think it's funny.

I Know Her Pain

This happens to me all the time while riding the Metra trains:
BERLIN (Reuters) - A German bus driver threatened to throw a 20-year-old sales clerk off his bus in the southern town of Lindau because he said she was too sexy, a newspaper reported Monday.

"Suddenly he stopped the bus," the woman named Debora C. told Bild newspaper. "He opened the door and shouted at me 'Your cleavage is distracting me every time I look into my mirror and I can't concentrate on the traffic. If you don't sit somewhere else, I'm going to have to throw you off the bus.'"

The woman, pictured in Bild wearing her snug-fitting summer clothes with the plunging neckline, said she moved to another seat but was humiliated by the bus driver.

A spokesman for the bus company defended the driver.

"The bus driver is allowed to do that and he did the right thing," the spokesman said. "A bus driver cannot be distracted because it's a danger to the safety of all the passengers."

July 15, 2007

New Star Wars Ornaments for 2007

Ohhh . . . this would be fun to add to my talking Darth Vader ornament my sister got me last year.

Millennium Falcon ornamentThe Adventure Begins -- Features the Millennium Falcon and the Star Wars theme music from the original movie. This ornament has light and sound.

And there are some other new ornaments for 2007 as well.

July 14, 2007

Ratatouille Virtual Set Tours

ratatouille setLast weekend Heather and I took the kinds to see Ratatouille. I will be the first to admit that when I first heard about Ratatouille and its premise - rat in Paris who wants to cook - I didn't think the movie would be for me, but in the end Ratatouille was probably one of the best films I've seen in a long , long time.

Engaging characters, a dynamic story, and stunning visuals. Most live-action films can only dream about achieving what Brad Bird did with Ratatouille.

Anyway, check out these way cool QuickTime Virtual set tours from Ratatouille. Notice how natural the lighting is, how detailed the grills our, how realistic the whole set is (the kitchen floor tiles are uneven). Pixar is not just made up of great storytellers, but phenomenal artists.

July 13, 2007

OW! OW! OW! OW! OW! OW! OW!

My leg tingles just looking at this photo. . .

Michael Lenahan, 23, of Philadelphia, Pa. is gored in the leg by a fighting bull during a traditional bull run in Pamplona, Spain, Thursday July 12, 2007

New God Action Figures

About a year ago I told myself that I wasn't allowed to buy any more action figures based on comic book characters. Despite how cool some of them look, I just don't have the space to keep them.

But DC Comic's announcement of a new line of figures based on the New Gods has got me thinking I might be able to make room for a Mr. Miracle figure.

the first wave of New Gods figures
(Mr. Miracle is the dude in the red and yellow with the cape)

July 12, 2007

It's Alive!

gene wilder in young frankenstein - IT'S ALIVE
Thanks to the fine technicians at iResQ I have a happy, functioning iPod again. And Heather has her pink iPod Mini ready to roll with a new battery.

I sent both our iPods to iResQ for diagnosis and possible repair. True to their promise, within 24 hours of receiving our iPods I received a phone call from the technician working on our gadgets. He confirmed what Heather and I already knew – the pink Mini needed a new battery.

My iPod needed a new logic board. I approved installing the new logic board and had new batteries put in Heather’s Mini and my iPod.
MY HAPPY IPOD
Grand total for all that work? $140

Apple wanted $271 for me to send just my iPod in, sight unseen.

I may love Apple and its products, but paying that much for a repair is ridiculous.

Our repaired iPods arrived yesterday in the mail – as promised by iResQ – and I charged them both up last night. This morning my iPod was performing beautifully on the train ride and walk to my office.

It is a happy iPod day again.

My experience was limited to just this one transaction, but I was significantly impressed with iResQ’s service. They delivered on everything they promised on their website at prices that are as good or better than anything I saw at other iPod repair sites. I would certainly recommend them if your iPod is ailing.

July 11, 2007

Drawing With Their Eyes Closed

Back in 1947 the editors of Life magazine had some popular artists draw their even more popular creations with a blindfold on.

The results are pretty wild, especially considering how closely some of them come to capturing the likeness of their character.

sample of Dagwood draw with eyes open and eyes closed[via]

Apple Product Evolution

I thought it was interesting. Your mileage may vary.

evolution of apple's products[via]

July 10, 2007

Different Times

It's remarkable what used to be considerable acceptable.

cover to Action Comics 58

comic strip

Our New Basement - Completed

Don’t let the title of the post fool you, technically our basement rehab project is not complete. But it’s done enough that I’m willing to call it that. The walls are all up, the electricity is on, the carpeting is in, and the painting is all completed. The room is ready for us to start living in – which we have already done.

Basement  - Final DayHeather snagged herself a treadmill for $5 during the neighborhood-wide garage sale a few weeks ago. That went down into the basement once the carpeting was installed. She is now working twenty minutes on the treadmill into her exercise routine. She wants me to get the cable hook-ups connected to the main cable line so we can move one of our old TVs down there. I guess walking and staring at a wall isn’t entertaining enough for her.

The girls have also claimed the back cubbie for their play kitchen and some dolly stuff. Heather and I might claim it back, but it does make a great spot for toys like that. Maybe we’ll leave well enough alone for a while.

The kids love being able to come downstairs and run around in circles. Because we haven’t moved any furniture into the space yet, the area is wide open. Ian, Emma, Zoe and I have had some epic wrestling matches over the last week. The carpet is wonder to sit or play on. So very soft.

Basement - Final DayDespite all the fun we already having with our new space, there is still some work to be done.

The wood that encases the windows and the wood that trims out where the stairs end in the basement need to be stained and sealed. I also want to install new handrails for coming down into the basement. The closet under the stairs has been primed, but no paint has been applied. That’s still on my to-do list. And we need to get some shelves to put in the main closet to hold the toys and games we plan on moving down into the basement. Not to mention the furniture and items we want to move down into the basement.

But that’s fine tuning detail work. The last 10%. The basement is done and ready to go.

Overall I was mildly pleased with the process. It was the least painful of the contracted home improvement work Heather and I have undertaken. There were still some headaches, but in the grand scheme of things relatively minor. I probably need a little more time before I would whole-heartedly recommend the Owens Corning basement product, but I would give thumbs up to the installation process.

Now we just need to figure out how to pay for everything. Oy.

The Basement Rehab Photo Gallery

My Faith Resored

Yesterday I wrote about my concern that watching a baby bunny being caught and killed by her beloved kitty would burst Emma's magical pink and fairy wonderland.

flying unicorn with rainbow hairHowever, my faith in Emma's preserved girliness was restored last night while playing with Ian, Emma, and Zoe. Ian had taken on the role of an evil wizard and expressed his intention to turn his sister into a toad.

Emma's response?

"NO! Turn me into a flying unicorn with rainbow hair."

That's what I'm talking about. Good for you Emma.

July 09, 2007

A Relaxing Sunday Afternoon

There is a pretty strong link between bunnies and our kids. We’ve been visited by a big old rabbit at our house, both Ian and Zoe have chosen stuffed bunnies or teddy bears for the bedtime comfort, and they even love watching Bug Bunny cartoons over and over. But yesterday we had a bunny encounter of a different kind.

Bunnies can be found all over the neighborhood we live in now. I see them loitering in the backyards on our block when I get up in the morning. They are running through the front yards when I take the trash out at night. Bunnies dart from under our deck when I go out to start the grill.

They are everywhere and they are a pest. Anyone with a serious garden invests as much in wire fencing as they do fertilizer. One of our neighbors has been known to sniper them down with his air rifle. There’s always one or two flattened on the larger roads in the subdivision.

Yesterday afternoon I was in the house putting something away or picking something up, don’t remember quite what. I had just been outside talking to Emma and Zoe who were playing in the sandbox out back. They had told me that Bumper – our worthless cat – had gone under the deck and wouldn’t come out.

“Don’t worry about it girls,” I said. “She always comes out.”

I wasn’t back inside more than two minutes when I hear the patio door slide open with a crash and Emma shriek, “BUMPER CAUGHT A BUNNY!”

Lookit Bumper and a bunny!I rush to the kitchen not sure of what to expect. What I see is Emma and Zoe, in matching sun hats, standing in the opened patio door. Emma’s eyes are round like dinner plates and her finger is pointed in accusatory fashion at the kitchen table. I look down just as Bumper appears from under a chair with a small baby bunny clenched firmly in her jaw.

Bumper had caught a bunny. Well, I’ll be damned. Apparently the cat can do something.

Obviously I don’t want a dead bunny in my house or, in the case that bunny has not passed on yet, a live bunny running through my house; so I set about a devising a plan to end this situation quickly and with the minimal amount of loss of blood.

I’m finding it difficult to concentrate because Emma’s and Zoe’s shrieking is hitting volumes unlike anything I have ever heard. I start to call out to Heather for a little help, but she’s upstairs in bed with the same stomach sickness I suffered through last week. Better to send the girls upstairs to get Mom. One, it will get the girls and their banshee-like yelps out of my immediate vicinity. Two, if Heather is feeling healthy enough to help, she’ll come downstairs.

Now I know that many times cats who venture out to capture some little rodents or birds like to bring their prey back inside to drop at the feet of their adoring human. Considering Bumper’s and my relationship (I hate her with the intensity of a thousand suns, she’s scared shitless at the mere sight of me), I figure she will not be dropping this baby bunny at my feet.

In the middle of herding the girls upstairs and grabbing a towel so I can cover one of the animals to help me move them out of the house (Elizabeth – shut your mouth. As I’ve proven before, throwing a towel over an animal helps in its capture and removal), Bumper has circled through the dining room and trying to make her way into the front hallway. From there Bumper could go upstairs to the bedrooms or down into the basement – two places I definitely don’t want a cat with a dead bunny in its mouth.

But now Heather is making her way downstairs while Emma is crying and shouting from the top of the stairs, “Why did Bumper kill the bunny?!”

“Stay upstairs, Emma,” I shout. “Mommy and I are taking care of it.”

bumper kills the rabbitGreat. I forgot that to a four-year-old girl all of God’s creatures live in perfect harmony. Why else would Bumper grab a bunny other than to invite her inside to play tea party? Hearing that the bunny might be dead is totally messing with Emma’s My Little Pony-pink-ballerina-happy-unicorns world view.

I manage to herd Bumper back into the kitchen, and by positioning Heather on the other side of the kitchen table, corner Bumper next to the kitchen island. (Remember: no dead or living bunnies in my house. Contain the threat and eliminate it.)

At the sight of the Heather, Bumper’s only adult friend in the house, the bunny is dropped to the floor. I snatch Bumper and throw her outside.

I turn to retrieve Bumper’s kill only to learn that Emma’s curiosity has over-written her ability to follow the instructions to stay upstairs. She’s now standing about two feet from the crumbled body of the baby bunny lying lifeless on our kitchen floor.

“Is it dead?!,” she begs. “Why did Bumper kill the bunny?!”

The pain and confusion in her voice is palpable.

I stoop down and wrap the dead bunny in the towel to take her outside. Emma’s cries and howls can still be heard as I walk with the dead bunny around to the front of the house and into the garage to confirm the bunny’s death (you don’t want to know). Afterwards our deceased little bunny was double-bagged for inclusion in this week’s garbage haul.

For the next three hours it was all Emma could talk about. She re-counted the events surrounding Bumper’s catching of the bunny in great detail, sometimes with conflicting details. Oddly enough, she appeared to calm down and come to terms with Bumper’s murderous act when Heather explained to her that Bumper had killed the bunny to eat it.

Kids and animals. Always a good time.

July 07, 2007

More Like Creepy Cow

About six months back or so, Heather discovered The Skinny Cow, a line of low-fat ice cream from Nestle. She thinks the stuff is wonderful, singing its praises to anyone who will listen.

I've tried it once or twice. Thought what I tasted okay. But the brand's logo is totally creeping me out.

skinny cow logo
A cow with woman-like curves and lots lipstick draping herself (cowself?) over the brand name like a boozy nightclub singer on a piano.

Total creeps-ville.

July 06, 2007

It Ain't No Mother Box

iPhoneIn the week following Apple’s iPhone release last Friday, I’ve encountered plenty regarding the new uber-gadget. I read exhaustive reviews of the product, saw photos of the iPhone dissected to reveal its inner workings, heard rumors concerning what Apple will do with the gadget next, and I even got to experience the iPhone in action in my boss’ office.

It really is a remarkable device. Sure, it was hyped way too much, deserving the nickname of “Jesus Phone” that some of the snarkier blogs bestowed upon it. But the iPhone really is pretty damn cool.

However, out of everything I read or saw about the iPhone, the best reaction I found to the coming of the Jesus Phone was delivered by a comic book artist, Paul Pope.
"All the iPhone is is a retarded Mother Box."
The iPhone might be a technological leap forward in gadgetry, but Steve Jobs and co. still haven’t caught up to the imaginative greatness that was Jack “The King” Kirby. Maybe the iPhone will change the way you talk/listen/surf/communicate, but can it change the way you look?

orion getting his face re-written by Mother Box
The Mother Box can.

July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day

Let's celebrate by reflecting on one of my favorite quotes from Thomas Jefferson on the nature of Democracy and the relationship between the people and those elected represent them in government:
God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed ... if they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty ... what country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms ... the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

July 03, 2007

Latest DC Comics Teaser Image

DC Comics has a new teaser image out. Intended to entice all us DC hero fanboys and fangirls to buy more and more comics. As usual there is all sort of mystery and speculation about what it's all suppose to mean.

What makes this teaser image so interesting, however, is its apparent play on Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece The Last Supper.

new teaser image for dc comics

Wild stuff.

July 02, 2007

Long Lines and Lazy People

Every year for the last twenty-plus years, Chicago has held a weekly festival in Grant Park – the heart of the downtown area – at the beginning of July. Called Taste of Chicago, it features something close to 125 different Chicago restaurants, bakeries, ice cream parlors, etc. serving food and drink. There are some concerts, but people come for the food and the Fourth of July fireworks display, which draws in more than 1 million people to watch the night-time pyrotechnics. But even without the fireworks, the promise of good food brings five times as many people in from all over the area to gorge themselves.

taste of chicagoIt makes downtown Chicago pretty busy during the week and puts a heavy strain on the public transport system.

All last week on every morning and evening Metra train I rode to and from work on, a conductor would get on the PA system to remind us of this event. Taste of Chicago is next week. It’s going to be busy. Avoid long lines buying your July monthly Metra pass, make sure you purchase them ahead of time.

But what did I observe while rushing through Union Station this evening, the first business day that this year’s Taste of Chicago fell on and also the first business day of July (meaning new Metra passes are needed)? Lines that wrapped themselves in knots of people. Hundreds of people – an even mix of people trying to get home from the Taste and people trying to get home from work – waiting to buy a ticket to get on a Metra train.

Half of them didn’t need to be there.

Are people really that lazy? Could the regular Metra riders, the Joes and Janes who ride it five days a week, 12 months a year, and by now know the how these things work not take ten minutes to buy their pass last week? Did you not think this was going to happen? It took me a total of five minutes last Thursday to buy my ticket. I hardly waited in line at all.

No skin off my nose, but it always baffles me the amount of people who procrastinate on a re-occurring task like buying a monthly train pass. You know you’re gonna need it every month. Metra starts selling them two weeks before the new month begins. Even if you are participating in a program at work that takes out a portion of your paycheck pre-tax to help pay for transportation, you get the check to buy your monthly pass around the twenty-third or twenty-fifth of the month.

But every month I see the long lines sagging through the train station filled with the saddest, most miserable looking people waiting – and wasting time – for a train pass.

Ten minutes on the twenty-seventh of the month versus thirty minutes on the first. How hard is that math?

Ahh. You desire the misery of your line-waiting suffering as punishment for your lack of vision.

The Bat, the Cat, the Penguin

Fun new shirt over at Threadless T-Shirts.

a dark knight t-shirt imagery

I want me one.