March 31, 2008

John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes

John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes
Nina Matsumoto (aka Space Coyote) created this wonderful print of John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes, drawing inspiration from fictional characters who shared the same names as the French Reformation theologian and English political philosopher.

You can order copies of it too. (hint, hint)

"Dick" Tracy

panel from today's Dick TracyAs a kid I was a fan of Dick Tracy. Loved reading it. Of course that was back when Max Allan Collins had taken over the writing chores from series creator Chester Gould. Collins and artist Rick Fletcher told some fantastic Dick Tracy stories. Now the strip is written and illustrated by Dick Locher. Maybe Locher can win a Pulitzer for his editorial cartooning, but his Dick Tracy comics are for crap – both story and artwork.

However, The Comic Curmudgeon featured today’s Dick Tracy strip in its daily roasting of everything bad about newspaper comic strips and I this final panel made me laugh out loud.

And don’t bother asking what Dick Tracy is doing in the panel that I inlcuded in this post. Anything you can imagine will be infinitely more entertaining than anything Locher has written in the last two years.

Blogshank

Incredibly cool visual blog. Mike Smith draws his blog entries – sometimes using his weekly calendar/day-planner as the canvas.

blogshank screenshotFantastic stuff.

Opening Day!

Hey! Hey! It's opening day here in Chicago. The weather doesn't look like it will cooperate, but maybe - just maybe - the Cubs will get their first game in today.

I will be trying to follow the game from work, but considering the increasingly draconian website blocking practices of the company I work for, I'm not sure how feasible that will be. I'm not trying to get streaming video, but MLB has a nice gamecast that gives continuous pitch-by-pitch updates. It's great for quick check-ins, but doesn't distract me from doing my work.

Cubs Opening Day 2008
None the less, I'm looking forward to this Cubs season. Sports Illustrated has picked them to win the NL pennant. Which means this is either going to be a fantastic season or a horrible disappointment. Either way, as long as the Cubs are fun and exciting to watch, I'll be there.

March 30, 2008

Clown Travel Agency

The Dark Knight viral marketing campaign / online game had some new developments over the weekend.

There has been some changes to the I Believe in Harvey Dent site (plus I received a phone call from Mr. Dent denying accusations brought against him), some changes to some minor sites, and the launching of this new site: Clown Travel Agency

Between the little note on the Clown Travel Agency site and reports of phone calls that certain people have received from the Joker, it looks like the next big stage of this game gets going this Tuesday - April Fool's Day.

screen shot from CLown Travel Agency website
I don't have the time to track down every clue and fully participate in the games, but I still love this marketing campaign that has been cooked up for The Dark Knight. Can't wait to see what plays out next.

Enough of the Playoff Talk Already

chicago bulls 2008I haven't seen it in the papers, but I've heard TV sportscasters talking about the Chicago Bulls chances of making the NBA playoffs. Technically, the Bulls could make the NBA's second season, but I think it's better to ask if this version of the Bulls deserves to be in the playoffs.

The Bulls are 29-44. Have played horribly all season. The only reason they are even mathematically in the hunt is because they play in the weaker Eastern Conference.

I'm surprised how much significance is put on making the playoffs - at least by local sports media yahoos. It's as if making the playoffs can negate a season of sub-par play. If you are a lousy team, but manage to make the playoffs, then you've only extended a depressing season a little longer. Who really needs that.

I remember suffering through the same silly talk back in November with the Chicago Bears. The Bears were an uneven team, plagued with injuries and inconsistent play. Even if they mathematically were in playoff contention, I don't think anyone would have considered them a serious candidate for being labeled the best of the NFL. I know I didn't want to see them being embarrassed in post-season play.

It's no different than the situation we have now. Like the Bears, the Bulls have no right to be in the playoffs. They have played inconsistently all year and have looks like anything but a champion. They don't deserve to be in the playoffs. I wish the talking heads on sports TV would understand this. It's annoying.

March 29, 2008

EW Lists the 20-Worst Comic Book Movies

scene from the PhantomEntertainment Weekly lists out what they think are the 20 worst adaptations of comic books into movies.

Running through the list, I have to agree with them on most entries. I haven’t seen them all, but knowing the characters and the plots I can’t imagine how some of those films could be watchable. (Brenda Starr? – wow.)

I do take exception with the inclusion of The Phantom on the list though. That is a film I really enjoy watching and which, I think, does a very good job at capturing the pulp adventure tone of Lee Falk’s original Phantom comic strips. Even if you think the movie is more Indiana Jones than Phantom, I think it is unfair to lump this flick in with the likes of Batman & Robin, Supergirl, and Howard the Duck.

And I was surprised they put Barbarella in their list of 20. Barbarella? I thought that was a campy romp that never even aspired to be anything more than a late-night cult film. It seems silly to spend time rating it as a bad comic book movie because I don’t think it ever tried to be anything more than what it is – a vehicle for a guy to film his (then)wife having sex in space.

March 28, 2008

Johnny Depp Will Be In My Backyard

johnny depp on location for public enemiesNot literally, but on April 5 and 6 filming for Public Enemies, a movie about the life of gangster John Dillinger and the birth of the FBI, will be shooting scenes in and around the Paramount Theater, located in downtown Aurora.

The movie is directed by Michael Mann, and addition to Depp, stars Christian Bale, Giovannia Ribisi, David Wenham, and recent Best Actress Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard.

The production is looking for extras. Maybe I should give it a try.

What Made Him Think That Was a Good Idea

Man Shooting Hole Through Wall Kills Wife
DEEPWATER, Mo. -- Officials are trying to decide whether to file charges against a Missouri man who fatally shot his wife while trying to install a satellite TV system in the bedroom of their home.

Patsy Long, 34, of Deepwater, died after being shot in the chest with a .22-caliber handgun on Saturday. Her husband, Ronald Long, fired the shot from the inside of their home after several unsuccessful efforts to punch a hole through the exterior wall using other means.

Henry County sheriff's deputies said the woman was hit by the second of two shots fired by her husband.
I feel horrible for the husband and the deceased wife but you’ve gotta wonder what sort of guy thought pulling out his handgun was the right choice in trying to punch a hole in the wall. Are there people that devoid of common sense? I don’t care if you’ve personally evacuated the town, using a gun to shoot a hole in your bedroom wall so you can install a satellite TV system is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

March 27, 2008

Marketing Geniuses

I'm sure this couple saw business jump four-fold once this gem was posted to YouTube to showcase their mad video movie making skills.

Postcards From Yo Momma

Guy at work showed me this site today.

The site has only been live a couple of days, but already it is filled up with hysterical emails from moms to their kids. Apparently everybody's mom is pretty much the same as mine when it comes to email: random but well-meaning.

Read it and laugh: Postcards From Yo Momma

(Make sure to look for the entry titled "Mom's First Gchat")

March 26, 2008

Greens and Purples, Greens and Purples

Why is it that no matter how much you try to focus on eating them at the beginning so you can get them out of the way, the end of the jelly bean bag is still all purples and greens?

That annoys me.

jelly beans

My Very Own Bat-Suit

batman costumeThey're selling the Batman suit Michael Keaton wore in Batman Returns.

I think if I hunt through enough couch cushions I might be able to scare up the $60,000 to $80,000 the auction house expects the costume to go for.

If not, then I’d settle for an Oswald Cobblepot Mayoral Campaign poster, also from Batman Returns, which is expected to net about $800.

American Flagg! Finally

American Flag!Like the run of Miracleman written by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman and Steve Rude’s Nexus, Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg! is one of those comic books series from the mid-80’s that I’ve always wanted to read. However, as seems to be symptomatic of these books, they having been traditionally horribly difficult to find. The original print runs were small and because of legal problems and bankruptcies, trade collections are difficult or slow to come by. Until now, only Nexus was readily available through some great looking (and expensive) archive editions from Dark Horse.

That should finally change this fall. Chaykin’s American Flagg! is finally finding its way into a trade collection. It was first announced back in 2004, but the re-publishing process has taken considerably longer than expected because none of the original artwork was still available.

None the less, Chaykin has gotten the first 12 issues in order and will have them published in a single hardcover book, or for those looking to save a little money - two softcover editions. Considering all the accolades and praise I’ve heard of the series, and my interest in Chaykin’s work, this looks like an good book to be looking for this upcoming winter.

Harvey Dent Decides to Run for D.A.


I know it's cheesy marketing - but I'm having fun with it.

March 25, 2008

Indiana Jones Cards

It was stuff like this that had me worried about a new Indiana Jones movie playing the nostalgia card too heavily.

topps new indiana jones cardsTopps is introducing a trading card set to coincide with this summer’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that will feature scenes from the first three films. Reading through the description (grey-back card stock, gum in every pack) makes them sound exactly like the sort of cards I bought as a ten year-old kid twenty-five years ago.

The last time I bought – or paid attention to – trading cards was back in the 1980’s when films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back were making their way through movie theaters for the first time (and Harrison Ford was still young and spry). My brother and I would ride our bikes up to the local White Hen Pantry to pick out packs of cards from our favorite movies. (I recall Kevin putting together the entire E.T. series) We would usually throw away the piece of pink cardboard that tried to pass as a stick of gum, and then flip through the stack to see what new movie visuals we had uncovered. In the days before the Interwebs and the vastness of online photos and screen-shots, the easiest way for a youngster like me to keep enjoying scenes from The Empire Strikes Back was to build up stacks of the trading cards from that movie.

Obviously, Topps has continued making cards based on movie and other pop-culture properties since I last picked up a pack in the mid-1980s, though the concept has been modernized and few more gimmicks have been thrown in (and it looks like they got rid of the bubble gum). I really shouldn’t fault the movie because Topps wants to trot out a “heritage” label for these cards and bank heavily on the nostalgia factor of guys like me. In fact, I kinda would like to hunt down a pack or two. If for no other reason than to get one more opportunity to toss a piece of cardboard gum into the bushes while loudly complaining about getting another Marion and the monkey card.

My Life In A Cube

The jokes aren’t always laugh-out-loud funny, but something about Shane Johnson’s daily reflection on toiling away in a cube somewhere resonates with me more than anything Scott Adams ever created.

Could I get a side of forced socialization with that?
Plus, I love his use of something from the office as the canvas for each day’s cartoon.

Batman: The Killing Joke - Remastered

DC Comics recently released a new Special Edition of Alan Moore’s and Brian Bolland’s influential Batman: The Killing Joke. Considered one of the finest superhero-starring comic stories ever told and probably the most emotionally powerful Batman story ever written, it is also one of my all-time favorite books of any kind.

Obviously I already own a copy and hadn’t given the re-lease much thought.
Until, that is, I saw some scans PopCultureShock provided showing the difference between the original artwork and the re-colored artwork Brian Bolland supplied for the Special Edition.

batman killing joke oldbatman killing joke new
These few pages show a considerable improvement in the choice of coloring from the previously published pages. Already knowing the story, these re-colored pages would fit the tone and psychological nature of Moore’s script much better. I might have to consider adding this new edition to my comic book library.

The Strip-Mining of Oz

I never realized how much the basic Wizard of Oz children’s story had been re-worked, re-envisioned, spun-off, and in general tapped dry until I saw this piece over at Comics Should Be Good!

Interesting stuff.

March 21, 2008

Weekend Plans?

The Beatles having a pillow fightI know Sunday is Easter, but if you are looking for a fun way to kill a little time before hunting for eggs and eating bags of jelly beans, might I suggest a pillow fight?

Saturday, March 22nd, is International Pillow Fight Day. From the looks of their website, the event will live up to its international billing.

We won’t be able to get to any of the big fight events, so I’ll just have to throw a few pillows with the kids at home.

It doesn't take much. A few people. A few pillows. A little aggression. Give it a try.

March 20, 2008

All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder #11

The response to the series by writer Frank Miller and artist Jim Lee has been all over the spectrum from insipid crap to inspired genius. I read the first four issues or so before dropping the book because of budget reasons and a desire to own it collected together anyway. From what few issues I did read, I’m inclined to believe the latter opinion of the title.

The first nine issues will be published in a hardbound collection this June and I can’t wait to pick it up.

Here is the cover artwork for issue #11, also slated for a June release. I think it looks fantastic.

cover art for All-Star Batman and Robin #11
Good times.

Frustrations All Around

It was reported this morning that President Bush’s approval rating has hit a personal all-time low, 31%. It’s a 40 point drop from where it was five years ago – before he decided the U.S. needed to invade Iraq.

Not that this news should surprise anyone. The man desperately clings to a Pollyannaish view of the war in Iraq, while appearing to be totally obliviously to the problems outside his window, in his own country.

our presidentIn his speech Wednesday, the President spent considerable time lauding the efforts of the troops and the necessity of the U.S. being in Iraq.
"Defeating this enemy in Iraq will make it less likely we will face this enemy here at home," he said.

"We're helping the people of Iraq establish a democracy in the heart of the Middle East. A free Iraq will fight terrorists instead of harboring them."
My understanding is that the enemy American troops are fighting in Iraq is actually different warring sectarian factions who want control of the country, and not Al Qaeda, who are holed up in Afghanistan and Pakistan and have actually physically attacked the U.S. on a number of occasions.

Of course, I’m sure the President is taking care of that nagging fact by continuing to place more and more troops in Iraq while doing nothing of substance to give the country any autonomy. That policy has done a bang-up job so far at turning most people in the region into enemies of America, and any second now that last few remaining Middle Eastern hold-outs will declare their undying hatred of the United States. Mission Accomplished, Mr. President.

President Bush argues that a democratic, stable Iraq will be one of America’s best defenses against a rising world-wide tide of terrorist-type threats against freedom loving people. Yet, from what I can tell his policies and actions in Iraq has only stoked hatred for America and done nothing to stabilize Iraq.

three remaining presidential candidatesWhile I am not so naive to think that at this point the U.S. can simply pack things up and move out of Iraq, I know that the current course of action seems like formula for more failure and a less safe world for everyone. I’m hoping that one of the three remaining Presidential hopefuls can supply a concrete vision and plan to bring this conflict in Iraq to a close while mitigating the overall negative impact the war has had on the United States. Up to this point certain candidates have offered more hope than the others, but I fail to see a concrete plan.

The fact that Bush’s/Cheney’s bungling of Iraq is almost over makes me feel good. The lack of a concrete plan from the Presidential contenders makes me concerned.

Ha! Ha!

The Chicago Sun-Times, the perennial number two newspaper behind the Chicago Tribune, held a "Zell No!" video contest. Contestants were asked to post a video of their response to the new Tribune Company head-honcho Sam Zell indication that he would sell the naming rights to historic Wrigley Field (The Tribune Company owns the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley).

The winner ended up being a Chicago Tribune intern; Katie Hamilton, from Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

I think that’s rich.

Katie plans to donate the $1,000 prize to Chicago Tribune Charities.

March 18, 2008

I Want One

About 3,000 media folk are going to get something they couldn't possibly enjoy as much as I would. The Indiana Jones movie hype machine are sending out mailing tubes stuffed with four full-size Indiana Jones one-sheets, one from each film.

indiana joes movie posters
The posters are 27×40 inches. The one-sheets for the first three films are re-prints, but the poster for the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a certified original.
[via]

In Which an Old Tool is Rediscovered

Many, many moons ago I took on my first real painting job. I was re-painting a bedroom in Heather's and my first house in Cleveland in order to transform it into the nursery for Ian. I had painted before while working in college for the Wheaton Park District, and I vaguely recall doing some painting for my dad at his townhouse in Winfield. But this nursery project was my first painting job on my own without adult supervision and direction.

I bought the requisite brushes and rollers, paint trays and drop clothes. It’s been a long time but I’m sure I picked up a few rolls of painters tape or masking tape. I also bought an edging pad for doing a nice line where the wall meets the ceiling. I had never used one, but had always seen that sort of paint applicator in amongst my parents’ painting supplies so I assumed it was something I needed.

With all my supplies and tools assembled, I went about painting the room. Ultimately it wasn’t my best home project, but in the process I learned a lot about how to successfully repaint a room. Since then I think my redecoration projects have gone much more smoothly and with better results.

One of the key lessons I walked out of that first project with was that I would never – ever – use a edging pad again to cut in along the wall/ceiling line. I had been completely disgusted with how that portion of the wall had turned out. Starting with the next painting project, and with all subsequent projects, I taught myself to get creative with tape on the ceiling and a steady hand with a two-inch brush to cut my wall/ceiling line. It wasn’t perfect, but I liked the results a lot better than what I ended up with in the nursery.

Flash forward to about a year ago. I can’t help but notice the smooth, crisp, wall/ceiling paint lines in the rooms my dad has recently redecorated in his townhome. I enquire with him about his technique – assuming to hear about some magical tape or specialized brush.

Nope. He used an edging pad. The same type of painting pad that I had sworn off years ago.

I grumbled in disgust as I begin to reconsider the oaths of hatred I had pledged to the edging pad back in the spring of 1999.

ace trimeline edgerThen this past weekend I was scheduled to tackle the task of re-painting the bedroom that Emma and Zoe share. They requested a “rainbow room”, which Heather and the girls have agreed will be four different colors – one color for each wall. So not only would I be faced with painting a clean line between ceiling and wall, but I would need to get a clean line where two walls meet.

I knew that taping and hand-brushing would never result in the painted line that I wanted, so based on seeing what my father had been able to do in his own house, I caved in and bought the Ace Supreme Trimline Edger.

Painting the ceiling was easier and smoother than I had experienced in the past and priming the four walls went faster than any paint job I can recall, but the revelation of what I had been missing the past years dawned on me when I started in with the first color.

A smooth line, a thick coat of paint evening applied; it was heaven.

I think it cut my painting time, per wall, nearly in half. It was amazing. No more taping ceilings, no more up and down the ladder with a brush, and not more scraggily lines where the wall and ceiling meet. I don’t know what went wrong back in Ian’s nursery. Was it the paint? My technique? The inconsistencies of walls in a house built in 1945? Who knows? But I know I can work the edger great in my house now, and don’t plan to give it up.

I am so mad that I missed out on using this tool all these years.

And yes, I did just write a blog entry on the joys of using a paint edger. And you read it.

Dude, That Van Rocks!

For reasons that I cannot understand, a dude in Akron, OH is selling his SWEET custom van.

Seriously, look at that paint job. How could anyone part with that?

star wars van
Make sure to click through to the eBay auction to flip through some of the other trippin’ interior photos.

March 17, 2008

Saturday Morning – 1981


That’s what a Saturday morning full of cartoons should look like. Smurfs, super heroes, and Looney Toons.

Tom Sawyer Adaptation

I’ve never heard of Tim Mucci or Rad Sechrist before, but this adaptation of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer that they collaborated on looks wonderful.

Make to check out the preview pages.

cover art to tom sawyer gn

Batman: Gotham Knights DVD Artwork

I know it’s just DVD cover artwork, nothing to get excited about . . . but I still can’t help myself.

dvd cover artwork for gotham knights
I plan on picking up the regular 1-disc DVD. From what I’ve read the 2-disc edition doesn’t really offer anything I need to own.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

To celebrate St. Patrick's Day you can drink crappy American beer dyed green while watching some Irish dancers or Irish lads sing a tune.

But for my money, St. Paddy's day will be a Guinness while watching Beaker, Animal and the Swedish Chef singing "Danny Boy."


Pionta Guinness, le do thoil!

March 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Elizabeth

I only have two siblings, both younger. A brother who is 16 months younger than I, and a sister who is 7 years younger. Their birthdays are only one day apart. March 14 and March 16.

That closeness in birthday proximity has always been a nice perk of having them as my brother and sister. I can easily knock out the birthday well-wishes all at once.

The other perk is that they are genuinely nice people who have always been accepting of their moody, mildly hermetic older brother.

I already gave the shout-out for my brother on Friday. Today the birthday message is for my sister. She celebrated her 29th downtown at some Irish pub drinking with sixty to seventy of her closest friends (I was home painting the girls' bedroom).

I didn't bother trying to give her a call then, though I will probably try today (but not until later in the day to allow for a sufficient recovery time.) Regardless, I hope she is having/had a great birthday.

I shall now end my sister's birthday well-wishing entry with the annual posting of the Elizabeth photo. A lot of pictures have been taken of my sister over the years, but none, I feel, accurately or as completely capture the essence that is Elizabeth like this one.

Elizabeth

Ha-ha!

March 15, 2008

March 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Kevin

Today is my younger brother’s birthday. He's turning 34.

He will buy his first condo at the end of the month.

He’s a damn good actor.

He knows how to ride a unicycle and juggle at the same time.

He entertains and tries to cheer up sick kids in the hospital.

My kids think he is the coolest uncle.

I think he’s pretty cool, too.

Kevin McKillip

A Man’s Answer for Valentine’s Day

the new man's holidayIs it crude for me to link to this?

Probably.

But I can’t deny the fact that I think it’s funny. Bunch of guys (or a radio station - I can't quite figure out the origin) got tired of the pressure put on them by girls, Hallmark, etc. to make something special out of February 14 turn around and try to make something special a month later – March 14.

A man's needs are simple. A little red meat and a little . . . stress relief.

I wonder if my brother is aware that he shares his birthday with this fledgling holiday?

March 13, 2008

I Believe In Harvey Dent

screen shot of Harvey Dent websiteA couple of weeks ago, when the I Believe in Harvey Dent website became more than just a picture of Aaron Eckhart, I submitted my email address and cell phone number to receive notification on future updates for the site. I knew from reading elsewhere that the second half of Warner Brother’s viral marketing campaign to stump for The Dark Knight was going to surround the character Harvey Dent, just like how the first part was all about the Joker, and I was hoping to play along more this time.

Then last weekend I received a phone call from Harvey Dent telling me that he is considering a run for Gotham City District Attorney. A visit to the I Believe in Harvey Dent website revealed a new site, fashioned after a campaign website of sorts. There was info on the candidate, items to download, and a request to upload video or photos of people showing their support for Harvey. Also, there was mention of Dentmobile appearances around the country, but no dates were set.

Harvey Dent BannerThis morning I found an email from the Harvey Dent campaign office telling me that the Dentmobiles were mobilizing. A check of the of the site revealed that schedules had been published and that it showed that one of the cities the campaign van would be in today was Chicago – at 8am, 11am, and 4pm there would be a series of rallies for Harvey Dent. The 4pm event would be happening right outside my office.

Some reports I read of the earlier rallies were not encouraging. Apparently the Chicago Police Department did not care for these sort of publicity / marketing stunts.

None the less, around 3:50 I headed out to the street to see what was going on.

Out in front of the Citibank Center, which houses a METRA commuter train station, there were about 20 people gathered around three guys in “I Believe in Harvey Dent” t-shirts. They were handing out bumper stickers and buttons, and getting people to sign petitions encouraging Harvey Dent to run for office.

After a brief warning from the “campaign worker” with the bullhorn about how the Chicago cops had given them a hard time earlier in the day, we started into some chants of “We believe in Harvey Dent!” and “Take back Gotham!”

picture of the rally i was at - I didn't make it into this photoIt was all kinda cheesy. I felt a little silly. But it was also fun. We were getting a mix of confused stares and smiling faces. Plus, there was a bunch of people videotaping and photographing us, including some of the “campaign workers.” Eventually one of the Citibank Center security officers came over and asked who was in charge. Our response: “Harvey Dent!”

He asked us to move off the street because we were blocking taxis and commuters trying to get into the building for early trains, so we started marching east up Madison back towards the building my office is in. I ducked back in when we got close. It was fun for a while, but I can only chant enthusiastically for a make-believe candidate for Gotham City for so long.

Still, I had some fun. They weren’t giving out free shirts like they were at the earlier rallies, but I got some free swag. I’ve been looking for my photo up on the I Believe In Harvey Dent website, but nothing is there yet. In the meantime I will turn my eyes to the newly launched Gotham Election Board website which promises online voter registration in the near future. After all, I want to make sure I get my chance to vote for Harvey Dent.

Movie Trailers

Saw two movie trailers today, and totally opposite reactions to them.

screenshot from the Incredible Hulk trailerI watched the first official trailer for The Incredible Hulk last night shortly after it debuted online. I’ve been reading snippets here and there about this film. So I know that Marvel pretty much gave it over to Edward Norton to write the film, as well as star as Bruce Banner – the calm, alter ego of the rampaging Hulk, and this film will have no connection the Hulk movie that came out a few years back.

I’ve never been too interested in the Hulk. I never read his comics, didn’t care for his cartoons, and I just don’t find the character all that interesting. It’s a version of the Jekyll and Hyde story, but where Mr. Hyde is just a mountain of a man with green skin, no personality, and habit of destroying things. Not very compelling to my tastes. None the less, my curiosity in seeing at least the trailer for the film won out over my dis-interest in the character. Unfortunately the trailer that I saw last night didn’t do anything to change my opinions.

There are rumors that Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man is going to make a cameo. But even if that is true, it won’t sway my decision. I’ll be passing on The Incredible Hulk.

WALL•E, on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise. I knew very little about this film before I stumbled upon the trailer. I remember some sort of commercial during the Super Bowl, but can’t really recall what it was about. However, after watching this full length trailer today I am really looking forward to seeing WALL•E this summer.

The film is by Pixar and stars a little robot named WALL•E. He is a clean-up robot left on Earth after the last person leaves the planet. WALL•E’s job is to get the Earth back in shape, presumably so humans can return. But some aliens land on Earth with some robots of their own, and for a lonely, inquisitive guy like WALL•E, it’s too much to pass up.

screen shot from Wall-e trailer
The film looks sweet and funny, with stellar animation. Actually, it is just what I should expect any time I see a film coming from the Pixar studio. You'd think I would have learned that by now.

With an already overloaded list of films that I want to see this summer (The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Indy 4, this fall's Quantum of Solace), it might be difficult to squeeze in WALL•E. On the other hand, considering that it’s a Pixar animated film, I don’t think I’ll have much trouble convincing the whole family – kids included – that a trip to the theater should be taken after this movie is released. So I might be able to have my summer movie cake and eat it to.

March 12, 2008

Random Items

  • a mean kitty Wanna make an easy $5? Grab a garbage bag, a can of cat nip, and head off to Randolph, Iowa. The town has declared war on the increasing number of cats that have invaded the town. Mayor Vance Trively (isn’t that a great mayoral name?) is offering a $5 bounty for each feral feline turned in.

    The cats will sit at a veterinarian clinic for an undisclosed time period, after which, if the cat is not claimed, it will be euthanized.

    Personally I liked what the residents of Wisconsin voted to do back in 2005 to deal with their burgeoning feral cat population – let the hunters get a little target practice in as a warm up for deer season.

  • Don’t know about you, but this is strangest crime blotter entry I’ve ever read.

    One of my (many) thoughts on what happend to our poor man from Ohio: Couldn’t the guy have just said, “I was sitting in my basement watching a movie”? Did he have to go into all that detail?

  • Understandably, the people of New York state are having a field day with Governor Spitzer. My favorite is this image of a hypothetical cologne inspired by Mr. Spitzer’s new eternal nickname.

    the scentof client 9

  • Not only do I think Adam Rogers’s obit for recently passed Gary Gygax wonderfully written, I love the flowchart that accompanies it on the New York Times website.

    the geek diagram
    Dungeons & Dragons was the gateway drug to every flavor of geekdom imaginable (except, apparently, comic books)

  • And I just thought this image was cool.

    All the water and air on earth gathered into spheres and compared to the Earth
    Left: All the water in the world (1.4087 billion cubic kilometres of it) including sea water, ice, lakes, rivers, ground water, clouds, etc.

    Right: All the air in the atmosphere (5140 trillion tonnes of it) gathered into a ball at sea-level density. Shown on the same scale as the Earth. [via]
  • Corporate Frustrations

    The company I work for has the strangest, and most schizophrenic, website blocking policies I have ever encountered. You can never be sure which sites will be accessible day to day, or even month to month. A site that you are blocked from visiting on Monday you may very well be able to access on Friday, or Wednesday – but not on Thursday.

    The blocking is handled by software from Websense. I don’t know if there are humans picking which sites are blocked or not blocked, or if it is left up to Websense and whatever logarithms the software uses to determine what is good and what it bad. Regardless who or what is adjusting things, the resulting inconsistencies are maddening.

    As of this Monday, any website hosted by Blogger has been blocked (“Social Networking and Personal Sites”, according to the Websense warning screen), Google Docs (“Personal Network Storage and Backup”), and seemingly random other sites. (usually for the “Social Networking” reason). Consequently, my ability to post new entries to my blog during the lunch hour or before I leave at night has been completely cut off.

    I understand a company is within their rights to limit access on their networks, and they are under no obligation to provide access to certain websites or applications to their employees; but that doesn’t stop me from being seriously frustrated with their course of action. Usually a company is the blocking website accessibility for three reasons: saving bandwidth, legal protection, and productivity.

    Blocking streaming video and streaming music sites dramatically cuts down on the bandwidth, blocking porn in a work environment is always the safe legal way to go, but I wonder if blocking to deter unproductive employees really works. If a guy is apt to waste away a few hours playing around with his MySpace page, I’m sure he will find a new way to kill time and avoid work if you block that site.

    I am of the opinion that it is better to weed out and remove an unproductive employee than try to police them and reform them. Sure, I spend my lunch hour writing up entries for my blog, but I don’t let that get in the way of taking care of the work I am supposed to – and paid to – get done. Work deadlines and responsibilities always come first.

    But because someone (or some software) doesn’t trust the employees at my company to make the same smart decisions, or they are unwilling to actively identify and remove unproductive employees, I lose the ability to relax and decompress in the manner that works best for me when I’m taking a break at the office.

    To add insult to injury, all of this corporate-fueled frustration reminds me that I’ve failed to fulfill the promises I made to myself back in High School concerning the sort of career I should make for myself. But that’s really not a topic I want to dig into right now. So I’m left shaking my head and waiting to see if the schizophrenic web blocking software changes face again.

    March 11, 2008

    Happy Birthday Zoe

    Zoe, my youngest, turns four years-old today.

    Forever smiling and the most relaxed, easy-going of Heather and my three kids, she is a beautiful mix of girly-girl and tom-boy. She loves to play dress-up and act out elaborate stories with her sister and their army of stuffed animals and dolls. On the other hand, Zoe requests to watch my Batman and Justice League DVDs more than Ian and will tank his Batmobile around the house with near reckless abandon.

    Blowing out the cakeWe threw a birthday party for Zoe this past Sunday and invited a few family members. True to form, Zoe had a Batman cake served on Tinkerbell plates. With age comes wisdom, so she was considerably more invested in the whole present receiving/opening segment of the party – flipping past opened gifts that revealed new clothes to see what gift might offer a new toy or book.

    When I asked her later in the day which of her presents was her favorite, she confidently replied, “All of them.” That certainly seemed the case in the hours following the party. The Princess-themed Etch-A-Sketch may have been carried everywhere with her, but she was spending equal time playing with the new Belle doll, puzzle, LEGOs, and goofy light-up ball thingy. However, as the afternoon turned to evening and Sunday turned to Monday, one gift seems to have risen to the top of the favorites list:

    The rainbow umbrella

    Enjoying the new umbrella

    The umbrella that my brother gave her has quickly become a staple at Zoe’s side. She sits under the umbrella while watching TV (Yes, Heather and I let her open it in the house. You parent your way, we’ll parent our way), it is being incorporated into the games Emma and Zoe play, and she even holds it over my head so that I can have some shade while reading.

    I can’t imagine that the umbrella’s spot as favored indoor toy will last once its multicolored canopy is spoiled with the first drops of rain outdoors. Once used outside and exposed to the elements, the umbrella really can’t be an inside toy anymore. But for now it is fun watching our little curly-headed 4 year-old ray of sunshine dance through the kitchen under her rainbow umbrella singing, “Jingle bells, Batman smells, . . .”

    Pie Nut Update

    Felix PieFollowing up on a story I shared last week concerning Chicago Cubs' outfielder Felix Pie and his . . . um, groin problem.

    Apparently young Felix's testicle was not able to untwist itself. Therefore Felix had to go under the knife for some corrective surgery.

    The Chicagoist untangles the whole story for us, with probably more details than I needed to know.

    I hope this isn't a sign of things to come for the Cubs.

    Superheroes Meet Classical Art

    Photoshop jockies take a turn at blending superheroes into classical pieces of art.

    It’s mostly Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Spider-Man, but some other characters show up as well.

    My two favorites:

    Superman and Degas
    Van Gogh Batsignal

    March 10, 2008

    New Movie Posters

    A couple of new movie posters for film I'm looking forward to this summer hit the 'net over the last few days.

    First up, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

    Indiana Jones Poster
    They are obviously trying to capture the style and artistry of the original Indy film posters, but it's obvious that this is a Photoshop-constructed poster. Not a hand-painted item like what was done for Raiders or Temple of Doom.

    While all the composition and coloring is right for a piece of art trying to capture that Saturday Matinee feeling - something about the poster seems cold and artificial.

    No bother. If nothing else, it should silence the critics who complained that the first poster depicted an Indiana Jones who couldn't possibly be the Dr. Jones who was going to show up in the movie. The image of Harrison Ford in this latest poster clearly reflects the version of the slightly aged Indy that will grace the theaters this summer.

    The other poster was for Iron Man

    Iron Man poster
    I'm not interested in deconstructing this poster. I just think Iron Man is going to be a fantastic high-tech action/adventure film. The more I see, the more I like. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie and wanted to share another image.

    Food Fight

    It's the history of war (from World War II on) told using only food.

    If needed: here is a cheat sheet for recognizing the countries

    March 09, 2008

    Mac Attack

    It's fun . . . and makes me want a Big Mac

    MacAttack

    FreakAngels

    FreakAngels debuted online four weeks ago. I held off from linking to it immediately until the series unfolded a bit and I could get a feel for what writer Warren Ellis and artist Paul Duffield were doing. Ellis made me a fan with his work on The Authority and Planetary, but I’ve also found that I Ellis name on the cover doesn’t guarantee I’ll enjoy the product inside. Sometimes I find his writing too clever for its own good.

    That doesn’t seem to be the case with FreakAngels. The concept is tops and so far the story and characters are warped enough to make things interesting but not so bizarre that it makes the material absurd or too dense too enjoy (complaints I’ve had with some of Ellis’ other work).

    Plus, I really dig Duffield's artwork.

    FreakAngels panel
    My only complaint is that each weekly installment is too short. Things just seem to get going when suddenly it’s all over for another week.

    March 07, 2008

    Saturday Morning Cartoon Viewing

    There are two hours of cartoons I'd like to watch tomorrow morning. But with everything Heather has got planned for this upcoming weekend I'm not sure how feasible my idea of watching a hour of the new Spider-Man cartoon followed by the hour-long The Batman series finale will actually be.

    Starting at 10am on KidsWB we get back-to-back episodes of the new show The Spectacular Spider-Man. I've watched a short preview, read some reviews, and have checked out some of the art. It looks like it might be a fun series to watch. Spider-Man always seems to translate to animation well. I've yet to see anyone really screw it up.

    spider-man animation designs
    Then at 11am the series finale of The Batman is airing on KidsWB. After five seasons WB is closing up shop on The Batman with an extra long episode that guest-stars most of the Justice League.

    scene from The Batman
    I've gotten to watch episodes of The Batman sporadically over the course of its run, and have always enjoyed the fresh take on the character. I'd love to see how the creative team wraps things up.

    Quick Hits

  • I think Larry David hits the nail on the head over at The Huffington Post when he questions Hilary Clinton's overall mental state.

    The photo collage he provides helps prove his funny, but I believe accurate, observation. This woman might be a little too unhinged to serve in the top office.

    many faces of hilary clinton



  • The Doctor is IN - and I'd buy this shirt if Threadless T-Shirts decides to print some.

    Doctor is In t-shirt artwork



  • iPhoneNow that Apple has announced that they are licensing Exchange ActiveSync from Microsoft so that they can build it into the iPhone for release this summer - thus making the iPhone infinitely more appealing to companies around the globe, do you think I there's a chance I will be able to convince the powers at be where I work that I need this uber-gadget?

    Yeah, I don't think so either.



  • The Tiny Titans versions of Nightwing makes me smile.

    Tiny Titans version of Nightwing