September 29, 2007

Ain't It The Truth

Found this artivle on Editor & Publisher:
NEW YORK A new Gallup poll reveals that, as the organization puts it, Americans now "express less trust in the federal government than at any point in the past decade, and trust in many federal government institutions is now lower than it was during the Watergate era, generally recognized as the low point in American history for trust in government."
The poll results reflect my own feelings.

What do you do to fix something like this?

NL Central Division Champs - Chicago Cubs

The Cubs victory over the Cincinati Reds finished too early for me to watch it on TV, but I saw the Cubs "clinch" the division later while watching the Padres put away the Brewers. Then I flipped over to watch some of the Cubs' clubhouse celebration on the local networks.

chicago cub - 2003 nl central division champs
Good times. But I can't really get too excited until they start winning in the post-season. Division champs are good, but what everyone wants is a World Championship.

September 28, 2007

Oh, The Shame

Found this illustration on the Chicago Tribune. I thought it was a perfect way to sum up my reaction to seeing the Florida Marlins sweep the poor Cubbies.

sad cubby doesn't want to lookThanks to the Brewers' loss the Cubs moved closer to winning the division, but you don't want to see the team sliding like this as the playoffs approach. Or worse, they slide far enough to lose the division crown to the Brewers.

Here's hoping Ted Lilly and the team can put things away in Cincinnati tonight.

Things I Think About

Metra has a little public announcement system installed at all their train stations that allows them to feed the commuters information. Usually these are announcements that trains are being delayed or canceled or on fire. Any regular Metra rider knows when one of these messages are about to be delivered because the message is sandwiched between a series of loud beeps. The beeps are loud enough that they can be heard all the way into the vast parking lot that surrounds the train station. Although the actual message is never delivered loud enough to be heard must past the platform.

a picture of a metra train that has nothing to do with the content of this postWhen those first beeps start up and everyone knows Metra has deemed us worthy to share information with, there is a noticeable pall upon those gathered on the train platform. We’re all expecting reports of “signal problems” and confused train conductors. And the poor people who have not made it to the platform know that Metra gods are about to deliver knowledge to the train riding commoners, but they are going to miss out because they are struggling to feed their dollar bill into the pay-for-parking machine.

Every once and a while the announcement isn’t bad news, it’s something inane like, “Monthly passes can be purchased at the second window.” People already on the train platform breathe easier once they start hearing the message, but the folks rushing through the parking lot continue to walk with panic looks on their faces. They heard the beeps, know Metra has announced something, and assume the worst.

It’s at times like that, when I can see my fellow Metra riders moving quickly through the parking lot to the platform while straining to catch a syllable or two of the Metra announcement and me knowing that that there aren’t any service issues, that I have to fight – and I mean really fight - the urge to shout from the top of the train platform:

"They just said trains are running 45 to 60 minutes behind schedule!"

But knowing how high-strung many of these suburban train commuters can be, I would actually fear for my life if I ever pulled a stunt like that.

But it’s fun to think about.

September 27, 2007

Depeche Mode + Tron

I'm not much of a Depeche Mode fan, but watching this mash up of their song "Suffer Well" with images from the movie Tron makes me want to grab a copy of the early 80's sci-fi cult favorite to watch all over again.

In Which I Respond to My Critic

It has been brought to my attention that one of my brothers-in-law feels that some of the posts I make on my blog serve as an indictment against living in the suburbs. Most recently “Padric” – who lives in within the city limits of a famous Midwestern metropolis situated on one of the Great Lakes and home to the greatest football team in the country - thought my post from Monday, September 24, The Upside to a Freezer Mishap, was particularly frightening in that it positions (at least in his mind) that an accidently defrosting freezer and the subsequent chocolate treat that delivers from that event as the pinnacle of excitement for residents of suburbia.

young padric standing in the lakeThat certainly isn’t the case. Life outside of the shadow of the big buildings is not all melting popsicles and vacuuming mini-vans. The fun we pursue in the suburbs is different than in the city, but still fun none the less. And definitely not something to be scared of. If given the opportunity I’m sure he might learn to adjust.

Of course, I cannot speak to what sort of exciting life awaits young Padric as he continues to grow old with my sister while living in the city. I know a plan for building out their little family are probably in the works, but I don’t know if this expansion can only progress if they have relocated to the sprawl of the suburbs or if it will proceed unabated if they remain nested in the congestion of the city.

What I do know is this. Wherever they end up doing, as their family grows and Padric and my sister settle into being parents, their life will be filled with little events like melting freezers and dead rabbits in kitchens. Sure, if they remain in the city the setting to the stories will be different. But these stories may sound boring to others or appear to dwell on the banal happenings of life. Maybe some of young Padric’s own blog posts might run like this:
Dumb-Ass Neighbor Keeps Stealing My Parking Space I’ve Shoveled Out and Saved with a Chair

Taking Young [enter name of yet un-born child here] On [his/her] Walk Is More Difficult Now That Starbuck’s Has Moved

Strollers and CTA Trains – Blah!

My Brother-In-Law Moved to Oswego. Is That in Iowa?

My point? Everyday life is a series of dry events punctuated with a little excitement. But if you can find some extra nuggets of fun in the everyday (i.e. chocolate cake from a melted freezer), then the everyday won’t seem quite so dry.

September 26, 2007

It Actually Walks

It's always an exciting time when a new LEGO catalog arrives for Ian in the mail. The kid loves pouring over all the items featured inside, deciding on which sets he wants to collect and how he would use them.

Ian also makes a point of showing me the new Star Wars items that LEGO is offering. This new catalog featured a motorized Imperial AT-AT.

We both agreed that while not as cool as the Millennium Falcon, having a LEGO Star Wars item that walked by itself would be pretty neat.

Men of Science!

Not sure what these cards are suppose to be, but I do know they are funny.

inventor cards[via]

Ban the Crocs and Wheelies

I usually find Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass to be a sorry Mike Royko wannabe.

However, I liked his column today concerning the ill-effects Crocs and wheelie shoes can have on kids.

Kass talked to people from the fitness industry about how Crocs and wheelie shoes can contribute to childhood obesity and poor physical development.

Plus, I think those types of shoes are just annoying and make you look sloppy.

Go ahead and read it.

Blackhawk Owner Dies

the chicago blackhawksThe first thought that entered my head when I read that long-time Chicago Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz died was, "Maybe now we can get some Blackhawk home games on TV again."

My second thought was, "Well, that's a cold and callous reaction to the news of a man's death."

Even though I believe that under his tenure as head of the Wirtz family-owned NHL hockey team he drove the once storied franchise into the ground, that doesn't mean he wasn't a good man. There are family and friends who are sad today that they've lost a dad or a brother or golf buddy. I really should show more sympathy.

Then I thought, "Why not do both?"

Apparently lots of other people had the same thoughts I did this morning.

Those Crazy Kids at Reuters

I love the subversive genius of combining the photo of deli meat being sliced with the story about a guy having his wanker chopped by his wife.

great story and image combo
Read the story.

September 25, 2007

JC Penny Superfly

Jancee Dunn's father worked for JC Penney for 35 years. She grabbed a copy of the JC Penny's catalog from 1975 and scanned in some of the pages.

I am so glad I was too young to remember things like this.

dude - these guys are goofy

The Post In Which I Complain A Lot

Let’s get all my complaining out of the way in one post so I we can focus on more pleasant things, shall we? A mental enema, if you will.

  • The Weather - I know the yapping heads on the local TV new stations are all aflutter because the weather outside is warm and sunny (I’m talking about you, Allison Rosati and Brant Miller), but it’s late September. I’m tired of the heat. This sort of weather is no longer interesting.

    We shouldn’t have to be running our air conditioner on the 24th of September.
    It is difficult to get into a fall festival sort of mood when you’re picking apples in 90-degree.

    I want some frickin’ 50-degree-and-overcast days now.

  • Football - Notre Dame is off to a 0-4 start - the first time in their 119 year history - and there doesn’t seem to be much hope for the team right now. Poor special teams, a middling defense, and an offensive line that seems to lack basic blocking skills aren't providing much support to what could be strong talent at quarterback and potential at running back. Throw in the fact that Notre Dame doesn’t pack their schedule with patsies and there is the distinct possibility that the Fighting Irish could go winless this season. Hell, at the very least the 43 game win streak against Navy is at risk right now.

    no more rex-itudeAnd the Bears? Oy!

    They are 1-2 and just got humiliated on national television. A bunch of defensive starters, including Lance Briggs, Tommie Harris, Nathan Vasher, and Ruben Brown, suffered injuries. And Rex Grossman finally played bad enough that I won’t support him anymore.

    Like Lovie, I stood by Sexy Rexy last season, expecting him to bounce back from some bad play. This year, however, I haven’t seen any improvement over last. Sure, Rex can deliver if he has time to sit in the pocket and throw, but as soon as he starts feeling a little pressure things go to hell in a hand-basket. The guy is flailing about, throwing off his back foot, and in general making bone-headed decisions.

    In the pre-season all the NFL pundits were saying the NFC North was a lock for the Bears. Now I’m thinking they might be lucky to snag a Wild Card berth behind a reborn Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. The Pack is 3-0 and just defeated San Diego, a team the Bears failed to score a touchdown against.

    Why can’t my football teams schedule their season implosions so that they don’t both happen in the same year? Is it too much to ask for some winning football from at least one of the teams?

    (Okay, maybe the Bears can turn it around. But it doesn’t look good right now.)

  • Chase for the Almighty Dollar - The first year we went apple picking we chose a farm that was recommended in the paper. The apples were good and we had a lot of fun, but the proprietors of the farm had so much other stuff going on – corn mazes, carnival rides, petting zoos – that Heather and I were a little turned off by the blatant grab for more of their customer’s money.

    Wasn’t spending time picking apples fresh from an orchard fun enough? Why overload the experience with all of this other crap? Ian, Emma, and Zoe sure seemed to have a blast with the simplicity of hunting for apples on trees.

    So the next year we picked a different farm – Jonomac Orchard. We immediately found it more to our liking because they kept things simple: pick-your-own apples, a small bakery where they made fresh apple donuts and other apple-themed treats, and a store where you could buy apples or other country items. We all had a great time and we looked forward to returning to the orchard again this year.

    jonomac orchardFor the first fifteen minutes that we were at Jonomac Orchards this year Heather and I kept asking ourselves if maybe we had somehow ended up at a different orchard. It was a completely different experience from a year ago. Jonomac had built new buildings, installed an apple launcher, added a train ride, built some sort of barnyard play area, and basically turned their small little orchard into a carni-lite playground. Worst yet, all of these new items cost money – and were over-priced at that.

    Still, Ian, Emma, and Zoe were excited to grab their bags and hunt for apples in the trees (though I swear Jonomac knocked down some of their orchard to make room for their expansion). The kids asked once about going into the barnyard playpen, but Heather and I explained that we could either get fresh apple donuts or play in the barnyard area. Given that choice, it was unanimously decided by the children to go with drinks and apple donuts.

    So next year it looks like Heather and I will have to widen our search circle for apple orchards. We had tried to keep the travel time to within an hour, but with older kids we might stretch potential travel time out to 2 hours and figure on making a apple picking an all-day activity. Provided, of course, we can find an orchard or farm that is more interested in giving its customers a great apple picking experience and not show-horning in as many opportunities for grabbing money as possible.
  • September 24, 2007

    Jim Henson's Birthday

    jum hensonJust read that today is Jim Henson's birthday. He would have been 71 years old today if he hadn't died suddenly of organ failure due to a infection in 1990.

    The amount of work he was responsible for in his fifty-two years, and the amount of rewards he received for that work, is staggering. I don't believe there is a single person from my generation or younger who hasn't learned or been entertained by the genius of Jim Henson. He was a unique voice for humanity. His work goes on through his production companies and his children, but it doesn't quite feel the same without Jim Henson there pulling the strings.

    Judge Calls It Like He Sees It

    Dad, I know you so want to be this judge sometimes.
    OTTAWA (Reuters) - A senior Canadian judge has been formally reprimanded for swearing during a courtroom clash with a prosecutor earlier this year, officials said on Friday.

    British Columbia Supreme Court Judge Peter Leask's behavior was "improper and tarnished the reputation of the court and the judiciary," concluded an investigation by the Canadian Judicial Council.

    Leask resorted to expletives in March at the trial of a man charged with trafficking cocaine. The judge disagreed strongly with the prosecutor's premise that the accused had hidden the drug in his own storage locker.

    "He'd have had to have been out of his f------- mind to store it in his own locker, all right?" the judge told the prosecutor. He also referred to "the whole f------ thing" and used the words "god------" and "s----."

    A group of schoolchildren on an educational tour witnessed the exchange.

    The council decided not to take more severe action against Leask, noting he had called a special session of court the day after the outburst to apologize unreservedly for his behavior.

    "Certainly this is not normal. To my knowledge it's a very unique and unprecedented situation," the council's executive director, Norman Sabourin, told Reuters.

    "Presumably it's something that happened once and will never happen again."

    The Upside to a Freezer Mishap

    After a fun afternoon picking apples this past Sunday, we treated the kids to freshly fried apple donuts to munch during the ride home in the van. Three young kids, sugar-coated cake donuts, and a bumpy ride add up to crumbs in the van. It had been a while since the van had been properly vacuumed, so while the grill heated up I grabbed my shop-vac to tidy up the van's interior.

    However, when I plugged in the shop-vac and switched it on, nothing happened. No deafening noise, no sucking, no nothing. The vac's cord was secure in the extension cord, so I went over to the outlet on the garage wall to investigate. I noticed that the outlet breaker had tripped so I proceeded to push the little red button to reset it. It was then that it occurred to me that I had plugged the shop-vac into the same outlet as out chest freezer.

    How long had the breaker been tripped? Just now, when I plugged in the vac? Or had it tripped earlier for some reason (like yesterday when I plugged in the extension cord as part of another project, but never actually ran anything)? After resetting the outlet the freezer turned on immediately. Considering that temperatures had approached 90 degrees in Aurora I didn't take that to mean the freezer had been off long – it was just really hot today. I told Heather about my discovery and together we tentatively opened the freezer for the first time. Within seconds our worst fears were realized.

    The freezer had been turned off for some time - probably about a day. It was still cool inside the confines of the freezer, but there was water collecting at the bottom, all of the bread stored inside was as soft as if it had just come off the shelf in a store, and the popsicles were all little sealed bags of sugar water. Luckily there wasn't too much food in the freezer. We had just spent the last few months working on clearing things out – Heather had spent a few weeks planning a lot of meals around what meat, etc. we had frozen in the chest freezer. (She doesn't like the freezer becoming too over-packed or clutter, plus, it made for cheap grocery bills.) So the damage wasn't too bad. A couple half-filled boxes of popsicles, a pie crust, and a frozen pizza were the only real casualties of note. Because some of the meat was kept in their Market Day cardboard boxes, it remained insulated – and therefore was still frozen solid. Although in most cases the cardboard boxes were becoming water logged, so those had to be tossed. The saved meat was placed in our refrigerator freezer for safe keeping until chest freezer got back up to speed.

    When I found a small round frozen cake – which was thoroughly defrosted – I asked Heather if I should through it out also. "No," she said, "it's just defrosted cake, its good. We can't re-freeze it though. That would make it yucky. I could frost it for us to eat tonight? It's a chocolate cake I made from left over batter of a from-scratch cake recipe using Ghirardelli coco."

    "Frost it, please," was my response.

    I don't remember the original Ghirardelli cake from a year ago that our little cake is a descendant from, but the one I ate last night was delicious. Moist, chocolately, and with just the right level of richness, the cake was a little slice of heaven. I don't know where Heather got the vanilla frosting she used to top it (homemade or store-bought), but it complemented the cake perfectly. I called upon every last ounce of will power to stop myself from snacking away at the cake all night. And with as poorly as the Bears were performing, I was in dire need of some comfort food.

    Who knows how long we might have let that chocolate cake sit in the freezer. Another month? Another year? Eventually Heather probably would have decided to toss it in the trash, figuring that cake can only survive being frozen so long before it loses its tastiness. Lucky for me (and the kids), our turned-off freezer forced our hand to eat the cake now. Hopefully they'll save some for me to eat tonight after dinner.

    September 20, 2007

    Don't Tase the LOL Cats

    I won't dignify Andrew Meyer by linking to the video of him getting tasered at the John Kerry speech earlier this week because from what I've read I'm pretty sure the guy went trolling for some YouTube-worthy video.

    I will, however, post a great Laugh Out Loud Cats cartoon from ApeLad that spoofs the "Don't Tase Me, Bro!" line Meyer's so memorably warbled before being zapped.

    Laugh Out Loud Cats cartoon from 9.19.07


    I like the idea, though I think the Tribune's execution of it is poor. Click on Sweet Lou to go hear the coach commenting on the Cubs' chances in the post-season.

    sweet lou

    Pizza Beer is Coming

    I so wanna try and get a 6-pack of this when it hits Chicagoland stores this fall.

    St. Charles, IL home brewer Tom Seefurth has made the ale, which is flavored with tomatoes, garlic, basil and oregano, for Walter Payton's Roundhouse restaurant here in Aurora, IL.

    Now he's found a Wisconsin brewer who will make and bottle the beer so that he can sell it at local stores starting in November. But they will only be making 500 cases. So I'll have to move quickly. Apparently Binny’'s Beverage Depot will be stocking the beer. Hopefully I can pick some up there.

    September 19, 2007

    Avast, Me Hearties!

    It's International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

    two pirates fighting

    Celebrate how ye' best know how, and remember to keep to the Pirate Code of the Brethren.

    Though, truth be told, the code be more guidelines than they be actual rules.

    Capt Barbossa and Jack Sparrow

    September 18, 2007

    Reason to Love Comics #260: Dean Trippe

    dean trippe drawn blue beetleAll year the Comics Should Be Good blog is counting down the 365 Reasons to Love Comics. I think I've mentioned a few of them before. Yesterday's was #260: Dean Trippe

    Trippe is a comic book artist and illustrator of some reputation. In particular, I love the work he does with the Project Rooftop, a site he started so cartoonists can stretch their design skills while re-imagining costumes for popular comic book characters. Certain words always spring to mind when I view art from Dean Trippe: "fun" and "fresh." His art will always make me smile, even on a bad day.

    Although I don't think I've ever mentioned Trippe specifically here in my blog, I think once you take a look at some of his art you will agree that not only does the world needs more Dean Trippe, but that he is one of the reasons to love comics.


    This is interesting.

    May/December Couples Boost Human Lifespan

    Older men who shack up with much younger women keep the grim reaper at bay for the human population and extend our species' lifespan, new research claims.

    . . .

    More interesting, when old men father children, their genes seem to increase the lifespan of both sexes over evolutionary time.
    Learn all the details at the LiveScience website.

    September 17, 2007

    Batman Logo Study

    Comic book lettering legend and logo designer Todd Klein recently completed a 5-part series in which he traces the history of the Batman logo used in the comic books.

    Even if you aren't a total Batman-geek like myself, I think you'll find Klein's knowledgable commentary and numerous examples quite entertaining - in a History Channel sort of way.

    batman logo from detective comics 27
    Here are the five installments: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; and Part 5

    September 14, 2007

    Notre Dame vs. Michigan - Ehh

    fighting irishNormally I try to clear my schedule the Saturday Notre Dame plays Michigan in football. It’s almost always a great game, and I look forward to seeing if the Irish can put the lowly Wolverines in their place – the loser column. But this year I’m finding it difficult to be excited about this match-up.

    Both teams are off to horrible starts. Neither team has chalked up its first victory yet, nor have they looked particularly strong in any of their outings. Notre Dame has looked absolutely horrible on offense. They flat out have not been able to move the ball. And even though Michigan has the offensive guns to run with the elite college teams, they can’t seem to manage capitalize on that talent. Plus, the Wolverine’s don’t seem to have a defense that can support Mike Hart & Company. So what reason can I find to watch the game other than to learn which of these sad sack programs will get their first victory?

    michigan helmetThe only answer I can find is that both teams will be starting their highly touted freshman quarterbacks. Jimmy Clausen will be running the offense this weekend again (as it were) for the Irish, following his first collegiate start against Penn State last Saturday. Michigan’s Ryan Mallett recently fell into the starting gig behind center for the Wolverines because starting QB Chad Henne is out with an injury. Both Clausen and Mallett were considered top recruits last spring and high expectations have been set for where these two boys will be able to take the respective football programs. It’s just nobody thought these frosh football flingers would be forced into duty so soon.

    For all my griping about how pathetic Notre Dame and Michigan are right now and that there is no compelling argument to watch these teams flail against each other impotently, I will end up watching the game this weekend. I just won’t be too excited for it to start. First, I would like to see how these two freshmen perform (and to see if Clausen can take advantage of a sieve-like Wolverine defense) and maybe intuit some hints as to what the future might hold. Second, it’s Notre Dame football. Even when I know it’s going to be a train wreck I cannot look away.

    Tony Curtis To Screen Some Like It Hot

    dvd cover to Some Like It HotHow cool is this?

    September 21-23 Tony Curtis will host special screenings of Some Like It Hot at the Hollywood Blvd Cinema in Woodridge, Illinois.

    Hollywood Blvd is a theater that not only shows movies, but also provides a large menu of food and beverages that will be delivered right to your where you are sitting. All with stadium seating no less!

    Some Like It Hot is fun, fun movie. Certainly one of my all time favorites. In fact, I just watched it a couple of weeks ago. But I think the opportunity to enjoy the film on the big screen with Tony Curtis there would be worth another viewing again so soon.

    I Think I Be a Real Pirate

    While talking to someone at work today in regards to email alerts we receive reporting on a certain applications successful running, I actually uttered this sentence in all seriousness.
    "It's no so much a rule, as it is a guideline."
    captain barbossa talking to jack sparrowAfter the words spilled out of my mouth I paused for a second. The guy I was talking to thought I was thinking up more to say. Actually I was pondering the fact that I had just paraphrased Captain Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Black Pearl while talking shop at the office.
    Elizabeth Swan: Wait! You have to take me to shore. According to the Code of the Order of the Brethren...

    Capt. Barbossa: First, your return to shore was not part of our negotiations nor our agreement so I must do nothing. And secondly, you must be a pirate for the pirate's code to apply and you're not. And thirdly, the code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules. Welcome aboard the Black Pearl, Miss Turner .
    And here Talk Like a Pirate Day isn't for four more days.

    Get Fuzzy Blocked

    The Chicago Tribune decided to pull today's Get Fuzzy from the paper. The Tribune wrote the comic did not meet their standards of taste, so they ran an old strip.

    A comic to tasteless to run in the paper? I gotta see that.

    (click the strip below to make it bigums)

    09.14.07 get fuzzy
    I'm assuming the Trib pulled the comic because of the combination of the "nut crunch" line from Rob and Buck's response.

    While crude, I think it's hardly tasteless. At least the strips creator, Darby Conley, is trying for something instead of rehashing the same old tired crap (i.e. B.C. or Cathy).

    September 13, 2007

    Super Hanger

    Communistar is selling a hanger in the shape of Superman's "S" shield he wears on his chest.

    How cool is that?
    superman hangerOf course, "Call for pricing" usually means that if I have to ask I can't afford it.


    Rudolph & Santa at the Zoo

    photo of the santa and rudolph puppets that will be on displayThis December 8th and 9th at Brookfield Zoo's Holiday Magic 2007 the original Rudolph & Santa Animagic figures will be on display, and Rankin/Bass historian Rick Goldschmidt will also be on hand to talk about the programs made by Rankin/Bass and sign copies of his book.

    I am a huge fan of all the Christmas specials produced by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass and own almost all of them on either VHS tape or DVD. The kids enjoy them too, but not to the extent that Heather and I have fun watching them. I know nostalgia factors heavily into our enjoyment.

    Heather and I like to make a trip out to Brookfield Zoo sometime around Christmas to enjoy the wonderful decorations they put out, but the appearance of Rudolph and Santa provides us a definite weekend to make our trip.

    September 12, 2007

    Politicians Talking Sense

    I didn't realize this when the Do Not Call registry was announced, but discovered it about a year ago and set a calendar reminder for myself two years into the future. All numbers entered into the National Do Not Call Registry expire (i.e. are deleted from the list) five years from when they were entered.

    So if you entered your phone number in the list back in 2003 when the registry was first started (like I did) than you could start receiving exciting calls for new credit cards, window coverings, or exciting investment opportunities in the spring of 2008 after the DNC drops your number.

    Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania doesn't think that's fair. He's introduced legislation that would make entries in the National Do Not Call Registry permanent. Rep. Doyle understands that in the last five years people haven't warmed to the idea of having their dinner interrupted with an uninvited phone call on mortgage refinancing. I'm sure the telemarketer association won't be too pleased with this bill, but I would think that with a big election year around the corner that this little bill might stand a good chance at turning into a law.

    They're Gettin' the Band Back Together

    Which band?

    Zeppelin, man!
    cover to Led Zeppelin IV - the only albumn i wore out from playing so muchLONDON - Led Zeppelin will perform a one-time comeback concert in memory of Ahmet Ertegun, the founder of Atlantic Records.

    The band will perform together for the first time in 19 years on Nov. 26, at London's The O2 venue, on the banks of the River Thames.

    Promoters said the concert would pay tribute to Ertegun — the label boss who popularized Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Led Zeppelin — who died in December at age 83.

    . . .

    Organizers said Led Zeppelin's remaining original members (Robert) Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones will headline the concert with late drummer John Bonham's son, Jason, on drums.

    It's in the Air

    When I left for work this morning it was a balmy 45 degrees outside. The air was cold and crisp. No frost on the ground yet, but I can feel where we are headed.

    autumn sceneAutumn is my favorite time of the year. Gone are the extended hours of daylight and the searing heat of summer. The days are shorter, the nights darker, and the crisp air outside has a nice kick to it. Meanwhile, the trees and bushes provide the outdoors a colorful makeover. Apple are ready to be picked from trees, football starts up, and the fireplace in the family room starts begging us to toss some logs into it. I find it all so much more relaxing than spring or summer.

    September 11, 2007

    Why The Dollar Coin May Never Catch On

    george washington dollar coinI went to CVS to pick myself up an afternoon snicky-snack.

    Paid for my stuff with a gift card nearing $0.00 and a dollar bill to bridge the difference.

    The change was to be $0.44 and the clerk handed me some coins that felt about right. But I didn't look at them until I was out of the store and walking back up to my office.

    Glancing down into my palm where the coins sat clustered together I saw a dime, a nickel, a bunch of pennies, and a gold coin.

    She had mistaken a George Washington dollar coin for a quarter, and used it for my change. I had a $1.19 in my hand. Not $0.44.

    CVS had just paid me to take items out of their store.

    Comic News Heather Won't Be Interested In

    cover to Robin #1
  • Chuck Dixon will be returning as the writer on Robin. This is good news I hope. My favorite runs on Robin and Nightwing were when Dixon was penning the stories.

    But will he be able to recapture the magic and work with what the parade of writers between his two stints on the title have left him? I'm willing to find out. If nothing else, Robin will be exciting month in and month out. Chuck Dixon is one of the best action writers for comics.

  • Last month DC announced that Darwyn Cooke would be leaving The Spirit with issue #12. My immediate reaction was, "If Cooke isn't on The Spirit, then I don't want anything to do with the book."

    But than I read Sergio Aragones will be taking over the writing chores (helped by Mark Evanier). His comments at last weekend's Baltimore Comic-Con lead me to believe his take on The Spirit might fall in line with Cooke and the character's creator the late Will Eisner. Maybe I will hang on for an addition issue or two to see how Aragones' stories play. DC's choice for an artist on the title will also play into this decision.

  • CBR has some screen shots from the September 22 season premiere of The Batman. This season of the show is to include more team-ups between Batman and other heroes of the DC Universe. Starting things off - Batman and Superman in a two-parter called "The Batman/Superman Story."

    I don't watch the show regularly, but with the promise of more DC heroes popping up I might make more of an effort to check this series out this fall.

    batman superman and robin from the animated series The Batman
  • September 10, 2007

    Official Iron Man Teaser Trailer

    No more graining bootlegs from Comi-Con. Paramount and Marvel have released the "official" Iron Man teaser trailer - and it's awesome.

    screenshot from trailer
    Next summer we're in store for The Dark Knight and Iron Man.

    I love it.

    New Johnny DC Titles

    the new super friendsI missed this announcement when it was made back at Wizard World Chicago, but DC is revamping their Johnny DC line and bringing in some new super hero themed comics that should be as fun as the non-superhero stuff in this kid-friendly line.

    They will be debuting a Super Friends series that is based on the new Mattel series of toys. The toys are essentially a Rescue Hero riff of DC Heroes. A little late to this toy game in my opinoin - Rescue Heroes were big money about four years ago (Marvel are cashed in with their own hero knock-offs back then) and don’t seem to around much anymore, but I must admit Batman with big old chunky feet and hands with a goofy-ass smile plastered on his face does seem like a lot of fun. The comic book is using the toy designs for its character designs, and then will be spinning simple stories about doing good and helping others aimed at the three to five year-old audience that the toys target.

    It’s all about cross-product synergy.

    billy batson and magic of shazam cover artOne of the other series debuting under the Johnny DC banner will be Bill Batson and the Magic of Shazam. What’s so exciting about this title is prescense of creator Mike Kunkel. From what I can tell Kunkel will be both writing and drawing the new Shazam title. His Herobear and the Kid was a wonder mix of childhood wonder and magic, so I understand DC’s excitement in being able to sign him up for this series.

    Being a huge fan of Captain Marvel, I will be interested in checking this title out. Probably won’t pick it up regularly, but Kunkel working on the Big Red Cheese is too good to pass up. Plus, his previews on his blog are interesting.

    There will also be a new Teen Titan comic called Tiny Titans by Art Baltazar, the creator of Patrick the Wolf Boy. Although I’m not too interested in that book, I’ve only ever read exceptional things about Patrick the Wolf Boy. The title has been on my long list of books to try and read at some time for at least the last six or seven years. From my limited knowledge of Baltazar’s work, I’m pretty sure he will also create a really fun title for younger readers.

    These books might be geared towards readers that are younger than Ian, and Emma and Zoe haven’t shown much interest in super hero comics, but I love to see these sorts of efforts from DC to make sure they are publishing a diverse line of books that offers something for all age groups.

    Bears vs Chargers

    brian urlacher after san diego gameNobody expected the Chicago Bears to march into San Diego and defeat one of the premiere teams in the AFC opening weekend – but that didn’t mean I was rooting for the Bears to do so. It also didn’t make stomaching the loss any easier.

    If nothing else, the result of Week 1 proved that Chicago still has the defense needed to get to the Super Bowl. The Bears shut down reigning MVP LaDainian Tomlinson in his own house, limiting him to only 25 yard rushing, and made the entire San Diego offense look rather ordinary. It is always great to see the Bears defense completely have their way with a team.

    But even the greatest Defense can’t overcome their own Offense not moving the ball regularly when they have it and turning the ball over at critical times. Two activities that the Bears Offense participated in great regularity yesterday.

    rex grossman getting chased - againAnd for once I don’t think you can put the Offense’s woes solely on the shoulder of Rex Grossman. The Offensive line had trouble protecting Rex and opening lanes for the running backs. Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson could not pick up meaningful yardage. When they did move the ball forward, they had a hard time holding on to the ball.

    I was particularly un-impressed with Cedric’s performance. For all his mopping and whining the last two years about how he should be the featured back – and not the now-New York Jet Thomas Jones – he sure didn’t look like a starting back in the NFL yesterday. If Cedric wants to be the main guy on the ground for Super Bowl team then he needs to figure out how to punch it home on 4-and-1.

    And I’ll challenge anyone who tries to pin the poor showing by the Offense on Grossman. How is Rex going to find receivers down field to fling to if the San Diego D never feels a threat from the ground? Keep the receiver covered tight and wait for the pass rush to get to Grossman. Which is what I saw plenty of yesterday afternoon. Rex didn’t do anything spectacular yesterday, but he didn’t do anything bone-headed either. (I blame the interception in the second quarter on Bernard Berrian – who breaks his route right after Rex unleashes the pass)

    No, the whole Offense was at fault yesterday. None of them played like a Super Bowl – caliber group. Luckily this is only one game and they have time to pull it together. My fear is that with Thomas Jones gone from the backfield that Bears don’t have anything talented to “pull together.” The season will tell.

    September 06, 2007

    The New iPods

    The rumor mills were right this time. At yesterday's big Apple event, Steve Jobs unveiled what amounts to a major overhauling of the company's iPod line. The most anticipated of these new iPods was one that contained some of the innovations built into the iPhone. Basically an iPhone without the phone part.

    Even though I know I won't be able to buy any of these items in the near future, the new iPods look incredibly cool and sport some great spec upgrades.

    iPod Touch
    ipod touchIt's the iPhone without the phone. It's what everyone expected to be the new standard iPod model. If you can get past the goofy name, you get a gadget with an outrageous interface and wide screen video viewing. Plus, WiFi access and full web browsing.

    What you don't get is a lot of storage for those songs and videos. iPod Touch ships in 8 GB and 16 GB models. Slightly higher than what the iPhone originally came with (4GB and 8GB), but would have thought taking out all those phone parts might give you more storage than that. Maybe it's the flash drive that Apple uses on the iPhone and iPod Touch?

    ipod touchAll I know is that on my current, humble little 20GB iPod from 2005 only has 8 GB of space left. I love being able to cart all my music and podcasts around with me (even the Christmas music). Not sure if I could pare that down to just 8 GB of music at any one time.

    But seeing how I probably won't be buying one in the near future, that's okay. Hopefully by the time I am ready to trade up, the iPod Touch will 1) have a new name - "Touch"? - that's icky and 2) storage size will be more to my liking.

    Otherwise, I will be happy with a brand new iPod Classic

    iPod Classic
    ipod classiciPod Classic is still the good old music player Apple's been churning out for the last few years - but with gobs of more storage space. 80 GB and 160 GB options means you can carry tons and tons of music, podcasts, and video around in your pocket. Plus, the iPod Classic got an upgrade in the user interface that includes Cover Flow.

    What I don't understand is only a $50 difference between the different models of the iPod Classic and iPod Touch. It's the ultimate test of sexiness versus practicality. I can pay $249 and get 80 GB of storage in iPod Classic or pay $299 and get 8 GB of storage in iPod Touch. The iPhone/iPod Touch interface is ultra-wicked-cool to be sure. But is it worth an extra $50 when I lose 90% of my storage capacity? I don't think so.

    So is iPod Classic a steal or is iPod Touch criminally over-priced? Or is the other way around? Apple's pricing strategy for it's products has often confused me. Love the products though.

    iPod Nano
    The radical change to iPod Nano confuses me a little too. I understand Apple wanting to bring video capabilities to as much of the iPod line as possible, but I'm not sure if this new-look iPod Nano really works for me.

    iPod NanoI always thought the concept driving the design of the Nano was compact design with good storage. iPod Nano hit the sweet spot between the ultra-tiny iPod Shuffle and the regular sized iPod. Nano was easier to carry and slip into a pocket than the regular iPod, but you could store considerably more music than in iPod Shuffle.

    The new short and chubby design to Nano doesn't seem to speak that. It looks kinda weird. Almost like a toy that the kids would bring home from McDonald's that could only play one song, over and over and over and over and over. But I digress.

    Look closely and you realize that iPod Nano gives you the same storage options as iPod Touch - but at a fraction of the price. (Again with sexiness versus practicality). That doesn't seem quite right. A tiny little Nano holds as many songs as iPod Touch?

    iPod Shuffle got some new colors, but no real new developments there. At least Apple didn't try to add video to that iPod as well.

    Overall a pretty exciting product announcement. Some product specifications and pricing leave me scratching my head, but the market will soon make clear what works and what doesn't. Just take a look at how soon Apple dropped the 4 GB iPhone and lowered the price on the 8 GB iPhone. This is where my lack of finances work to my advantage. Let things play out a bit and when the time comes for me to replace my current iPod I'll be able to secure a model that delivers the biggest bang for the buck.

    Kevin Kicks Even More Asses

    Jeff Award nominations were announced this morning. . .

    Actor in a Principal Role - Play
    Anthony Fleming III
    Victory Gardens Theater

    Ben Carlson
    Chicago Shakespeare Theater

    David Girolmo
    Talley's Folly
    Oak Park Festival Theatre

    John Judd
    Come Back Little Sheba
    Shattered Globe Theatre

    Kevin McKillip
    Richard III
    First Folio Shakespeare Festival

    Larry Neumann, Jr.
    The Puppetmaster of Lodz
    Writers Theatre

    Nick Sandys
    The Real Thing
    Remy Bumppo Theatre Company

    'nuff said

    This is Kevin's second time receiving a Jeff Nomination. His previous recognition from the Jeff Committee came in 2004 for as an Actor in a Supporting Role - Play for his portrayal of Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

    The 2006-2007 Jeff Equity Awards will be held on October 29 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie.

    September 05, 2007


    So Where Are The Flying Cars?

    Based on this magazine ad from 1973, telephone technology had obviously surpassed anything imagined in the 20th century. So if tech was so bleeding edge thirty-plus years ago, why am I still driving my car to the train station?

    card callmaker ad[via]

    September 04, 2007

    The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul

    This fall DC is running a crossover in Batman and Batman-related books (Robin, Nightwing, etc.) called the the Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul.

    Somewhere along the way I missed DC killing off Ra's and keeping him that way - he is immortal with the help of his Lazarus Pit - but I'm happy to see them bringing him back. He is my favorite Bat-villain.

    This is the recently revealed promotional art put together by Tony Daniel. Looks pretty cool to me.

    batman resurrection of ra's al ghul

    September 02, 2007

    This Is Not a Back To School Post

    I was going to write about the first week of school. Ian started third grade and Emma moved up with the big kids - she started full day kindergarten. She has a uniform, takes her lunch to school, the whole smear. But then Heather got to the photos first and basically wrote the blog post I was going to write. So now I don't think I will bother writing about the beginning of the school year. You can go read her post.

    Instead, I'll focus on the last big blast of fun we had with the kids before the school year started.

    Emma in the lakeWhen I was a kid, my dad would take me, my brother, and my sister up to Delavan, Wisconsin. A sleepy little town about fifteen miles north of Lake Geneva, WI - Chicago's unofficial vacation destination. The town of Delavan sits on a small lake (creatively named Lake Delavan) whose shoreline is peppered with small summer cottages. My grandfather (and sometimes my dad or uncles also) would rent a cottage for the whole McKillip clan to stay in for a week of swimming, golf, and late nights of Rummikub.

    After many years of no summer rental in Delavan, this past spring my dad announced his intention to rent a place up in Delavan this summer and I couldn’t wait to get Ian, Emma, and Zoe up to see the place I had so many fond summer memories of. It was cinch that Heather, the kids, and I would join my dad at whatever place he got.

    Zoe loved the sandIan, Emma, and Zoe were excited when we told them about traveling up to Wisconsin. Emma and Zoe were full of questions; "What would Wisconsin look like?", "Would it take long to get there?", "Would I be going with them to Wisconsin?"

    It got to a point where I feared that the kids were building our week in Delavan up to be like a week at Disney World. If the cows weren't dancing and singing praises to the glory of Wisconsin cheese when we crossed the border, I wasn't sure how Ian, Emma, and Zoe might react.

    Of course my fears were unfounded. Ian, Emma, and Zoe had a blast swimming every day, exploring the parks near our cottage, and hanging out around the lake in general. My dad also came up with great evening activities – mini-golf in Lake Geneva and breakfast at Millie’s, where Ian dazzled all of us with his ability to inhale all manner of breakfast meats. My sister Elizabeth and her husband Patrick also came through with a box of chocolate bars and a bag of marshmallows for a night of s’mores.

    Hanging outThere wasn’t any Rummikib, but there were plenty of late nights with lots of fun, and days filled with playing, reading, and swimming. If asked, I’m sure the kids might say they enjoyed the bow and arrow sets my dad got them or the trip in Lake Geneva with my Aunt Kathy was their favorite part of their time in Wisconsin, but I think being able to spends hours at the beach – swimming in the lake, flying down the slide in the water, or building castles in the sand – was were they had the best time. And the best part was they got to have that fun together as brother and sisters.

    A week on Lake Delavan in a rental cottage is real family vacation. No over-priced hotel rooms, no breakfasts with princesses, no waiting in three-hour lines for a twenty minute ride. It’s good old fashioned fun with your family. Relaxing and laughing – everyone it there to simply enjoy each other’s company.

    We haven’t talked about it yet with my dad, but I hope that we can plan on some time up in Delavan again next summer. My brother was only able to come up for one evening – it was a great one filled with balloon animals and funny stories – but I think I would enjoy the opportunity of spending a more time on a Delavan vacation with Heather, my brother and sister (and their significant others) now that we are adults. I can also plan on bringing Rummikub.

    View a whole bunch of photos from our week in Delavan, WI in my Flick set.