July 31, 2008

The Cubs Are Awesome

Kosuke Fukudome (1), Jim Edmonds (15) and Alfonso Soriano celebrate after Chicago's 11-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers - AP Photo/Morry GashThis season is almost too good to be true.

The offense tears it up. The pitching shuts it down. And every game is exciting.

I watched 3 of the 4 Cubs-Brewers games (missed this afternoon's 11-4 rout - Jim Edmonds is looking like an inspired pick-up) and it was like watching playoff baseball - I was that invested with what was going on.

Based on the Cubs record away from Wrigley, I was hoping for just an even split with the Brew-crew. To have the Cubs sweep the series is almost unbelievable. But I love it.

Now the Cubs can head back home to beat up on the Pirates and the Astros.

And lets hope the good times continue to roll.

Mmmm . . . Beer Bike

Can't say I'm a fan of the Amstel family of beers, but if this bike came rolling down my street I think I would hop on for a ride.

Especially if all those lovely ladies were already riding on it

The Beer Bike will be in Chicago tomorrow.

July 30, 2008

Dr. Horrible Isn't

If you haven't watched Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Joss Whedon's web-only three-act show starring Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day, you are doing yourself a disservice.

In the weeks leading up to the web debut of episode 1, plenty of people were talking about Whedon's project like it was the second coming of entertainment media. I played things more cautious and waited to actually watch the episodes - which I have done a couple of times now.

It is very funny - very entertaining. Neil Patrick Harris is my new favorite actor. I'm not sure if Dr. Horrible revolutionizes how televisions shows will be produced and distributed, but Whedon's show is more entertaining then anything I've found on conventional TV in a long time.

Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is fantastic

July 29, 2008

Gimme a Break

A couple month back I read about Freecycle - a network of community email listserves that allow people to get rid of stuff or request stuff for free - and decided to sign up to see what sort of items would float by.

Most of the activity has focused on people looking to get rid of things - an old playset, bathroom sink, kids clothing, books, dot-matrix computer - basically things that a person might have tried selling at a garage sale or on Craigslist, but didn't want to go through the effort of haggling over price.

About 10% of the emails are from people looking for things - a missing piece to a grill, a particular book they want to read but can seem to find, or other really odd items.

Then there is the small set of individuals who seem to be looking to get something for nothing. Somebody looking for a second refrigerator for their basement, sewing supplies because they want to give knitting a try, or a couch for their son who just got his first apartment. And then we get something like this one, which dropped into my inbox a few days back.
"My son sold his car because he couldn't afford to keep it anymore.
He's looking for a bike that's in working condition to get him
back/forth to work."
Here's a radical idea. How about using the money he just obtained by selling his car to buy himself this much needed bike.

Okay, maybe son had to take all the money he made selling his vehicle to pay off the car loan. Still, he was using the car to travel to his job. The kid is making money. He can get a good bike for around $100, with no more car payments to make or gas tanks to fill up, he should have more than enough money by the time of his next paycheck.

Stop looking for a handout and take care of yourself.

July 27, 2008

But All He Does Is Return Kicks?

Devin Hester and the Chicago Bears agreed to a four-year contract extension that will pay Devin No. 1 receiver money.

The new contract runs through 2013 and can be worth $40 million when you factor in performance goals along the way. The deal includes $15 million in guaranteed money.

Thing is, Hester isn't a No. 1 receiver yet. He sure is fast and can certainly run well with the ball in the open field. But nothing in his performances over the last two years has shown that he is a No. 1 receiver.

Hester certainly is a talented football player that the Bears want on their team - and I enjoy having Hester on the Bears - but I think this extension might have been a tad premature. I would have preferred seeing Hester prove that he can learn the Wide Receiver position (something he was unable to do while in college) before getting paid like a top WR talent.

July 26, 2008

Batman: The Brave and The Bold Preview

It's the weekend of Comic-Con in San Diego, so there is new comic related stuff all over the place. This preview of the Batman: The Brave and The Bold looks fantastic.

The new series is set to debut on Cartoon Network this November.

Batman: The Brave and The Bold is going to be Batman and another super-powered guest star each week in a story that is all about action, action, and more action.

Looks like great fun to me.

July 24, 2008

Suprise Me With Rice?

I don't know what the same-old/same-old was for husbands back in the 1960's, but if my wife is talking about surprising me with something unexpected it better be something more than rice.

rice ad from the 1960s

Mafia Trivia

Don't know if this is technically trivia or not, but I love the coincidence of this.

mafia princess gets married
Reuter description for the photo above:
Lucia Riina, the daughter of the most feared Sicilian Mafia boss Salvatore "Toto" Riina, leaves at the end of her wedding ceremony with Vincenzo Bellomo in Corleone July 23, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer
The daughter of the most feared Mafia boss is was married in Corleone, Italy; the same city where a young Vito Andolini lived before he escaped to New York City and built his own uber-powerful Mafia empire under the name Vito Corleone – The Godfather.

I know one I’m mixing fact and fiction, but that just makes everything more fun sometimes.

July 22, 2008

Dare to Hope

This made me laugh:

I still probably won't vote for McCain though
Get the t-shirt.

What Do They Do To The Animals They Hate?

Let me get this straight. The folks in Huacho, Lima love their guinea pigs so much they hold a festival for them every year.

First they dress them up in little outfits.

little guinea pigs all dressed up
They they fry them up to eat.

little guinea pigs all fried up
No. I don't think I'll ever make sense of that.

July 21, 2008

The Dark Knight

batman and the joker square off in The Dark KnightWhile I hadn’t planned on it originally – historically I’m not much of an opening weekend sort of movie watching guy – Friday I found myself sitting in our nearby theater with Heather to watch The Dark Knight.

We realized that we had time to take in a movie before driving to Ohio where we would be picking up Ian, Emma, and Zoe after they had spent a full week at Heather’s parent’s house along with their 8 cousins. (Yes, Heather’s parents house and entertain 11 children, aged 4 through 12, all by themselves for six days straight. Voluntarily. Every year. )

Heather and I talked about seeing something other than The Dark Knight to avoid crowds and save some bucks, but in the end I think Heather couldn’t bring herself to deny me an opportunity to see a Batman flick in the theater. I’m glad she’s nice that way.

I won’t bother you with a drawn out review of the movie when there are pages and pages of glowing reviews for The Dark Knight published all over the web. Close your eyes and throw a dart and you’re bound to hit one. Here is one of my favorites.

Suffice it to say I loved the film. It possessed an intensity and maturity that I have never experienced from a movie based on superhero characters. The Dark Knight isn’t just a great superhero movie or extraordinary summer blockbuster; it’s just a flat out superb piece of film. I don’t know if I’m ready to vote it as the top film of all time, as some of the more enthusiastic visitors to the IMDB website have done, but I was extremely impressed by director Christopher Nolan’s ability to use the characters of Batman’s universe to explore universal themes of heroism, sacrifice, and justice in an intelligent and engaging manner. All the while still blowing things up every twenty minutes or so.

A great film. I am so glad we went to see it Friday morning. Now I can’t wait to see it five more times.

July 17, 2008

Atomic Bombshells

Cliff Chiang, comic artist supreme, is slowly releasing a series of 6 pinups inspired by the works of good-girl pinup artists like Elvgren and Vargas.

His first was of Teela from the Masters Of The Universe series, and he's since posted portraits of Poison Ivy of Batman fame and Supergirl, to name a few.

cliff chiang's version of teela
The portraits look great. Chiang does a perfect job of capturing women in a cheesecakey pose but without objectify them.

I Knew That Song Had Lyrics!

In case you were ever wondering what the lyrics to Danny Elfman's score from the Batman movie are, Andrew Goldenberg is here to help out.

This guy is awesome. Apparently he has written lyrics to a bunch of other movie themes.

July 11, 2008

Random Cool Things

About a week ago Heather hinted to me that I seemed to be posting a lot about Batman. So I tried to ease up on Batman-themed posts for awhile.

However, as the buzz for The Dark Knight hits a fever pitch in the coming week, I imagine I'm going to find all sorts of Batman related stuff I want to write about.

So lets ease back into things by sandwiching some Batman stuff between some Star Wars stuff and see how that goes. (Maybe Heather won't notice)

- - - -

Hey, these sheets will match the Star Wars sleeping bag i bought on eBay three years ago!Pottery Barn Kids might be doing the selling, but I know who the real target of the Star Wars vintage sheets that hit the market in a little over a week - me.

Or rather, adults like me who still love Star Wars.

On July 25 Pottery Barn Kids will begin offering Star Wars-themed bedding just like was offered when I was a kid. I never got a full set of Star Wars sheets - I only had a pillow case - but now I can finally realize my dream of having my whole bed done up in Star Wars linens. Not only will they be making the sheets in Twin bed sizes, but also in Full and Queen.

Heather, we're buying them the day they hit the stores.

- - - -

The Dark KnightThe Dark Knight doesn't open for another two weeks in England, as opposed to next Friday here in the States, so British movie mag Empire has fourteen days to countdown to the film. Hence their new feature debuting today: The Dark Knight Fortnight

It's fourteen days of Batman stuff. It kicks-off today with the 10 Essential Batman Comics. (I've read all but one)

Empire did a great job with their celebration of all things Indiana Jones in advance of the release of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I just didn't discover it until it was nearly over. I expect nothing less with their feature for Batman. Plus this time I'm getting in on the ground floor.

- - - -

This week Empire also takes a stab at listing the 50 greatest comic book characters.

I haven't read them all, but I did jump to see their top five.

As expected, they've end up with Superman and Batman in the #1 and #2 slots respectively. As it should be.

But then Empire puts John Constantine, Hellblazer, in the #3 spot.


Empire rounds out the top five with Wolverine at #4 and drop Spider-Man all the way to #5.

Whether Spidey should come before or after Wolverine can be debated till sunrise. But Constantine at #3? That I don't understand. This is a character who started out as a supporting character in Swamp Thing, built up a strong cult following in a solo title, and managed to be turned into a movie starring Keanu Reeves, but in the pantheon of great superheroes I don't see how this guy deserves to even be in the top 30.

Sure, he's an interesting character, but greater than Spider-Man? I don't think so.

- - - -

And let's finish it off with another Star Wars item

This fall Hasbro is releasing a new version of the Millennium Falcon.

Not only will the newly designed toy have more electronic lights and sounds and come with Han Solo and Chewbacca figures, the size of the ship will be 30% larger than the version every kid aged 7 - 17 back in 1980 so desperately wanted to find under the tree Christmas morning.

30 years later and this is still the coolest thing to ever existI want one.

Hmmmm . . . Bacon Floss

bacon floss - yes, it exists
Yes, it exists.

July 10, 2008

Time To Discharge Beetle Bailey

As the commentators at The Comics Curmudgeon point out – what sort of military marching band includes a harp and a violin?

a harp and a violin?I know Mort Walker is a legend in the business and does plenty for the preservation of comic history; but when he lets his kids churn out nonsensical crap like this using his name, then it’s time to close the studio. He is better than that and the comic strip medium deserves better.

July 09, 2008

Nude Dudes

Comic creator Chip Zdarsky spent a week at a nudist colony with writer Ben Kaplan. While Ben wrote a story about the experience, Chip presented his version of what it was like to spent a week naked with your co-worker as a comic.

a brilliant idea
I thought it was pretty funny.

So Pissed

It annoys me that I can't post items when I'm at work. My companies website blocking software denies me access to blogger.com.

Today I spent time writing up some posts while eating my lunch, but then I forgot to email them to myself before I left for the day. Now I don't have those posts to publish and it makes me mad.


It's all so dumb.

July 08, 2008

Little Paper Time Capsules

One of the unintended benefits of digging out comics to read that have been in your collection for over fifteen years – the ads. The old print ads are little windows back in time to what was popular when the comic was originally published.

Like this beauty that I uncovered while reading Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #27 from December 1991.
This is the poster for The Last Boy Scout, but it is essentially the same as the print ad that ran in the comic. Only difference is that the print had the release date for the movieDamon Wayans acting tough. Bruce Willis with real hair on his head. 1991 was a strange time indeed. They don’t make action films like that anymore.

And did you know Halle Berry was in The Last Boy Scout? Now I only saw the movie once, but I still didn’t remember her. I only recall something about Wayans’ character tossing a football 100 yards to diffuse a bomb or something.

July 07, 2008

Things I'm Thinking About Today

Enough With the Drugs Already
The American Academy of Pediatrics released a set of guidelines today that recommends starting children as young as eight years-old on cholesterol-fighting drugs. The kids don’t have to be suffering from high cholesterol, in the opinion of these doctors. These second and third graders can simply be at-risk kids. Meaning they come from a family that has a history of cholesterol disease or early-age heart disease.

The doctors are basing these new guidelines on research that indicates that damage that leads to heart disease begins early in life and “stems from recent research showing that cholesterol-fighting drugs are generally safe for children.”

I don’t know about you, but these new “guidelines” sound like they were written by the communications arm of the drug industry lobby. Never mind that pushing Vioxx on everyone too soon lead to massive kidney failure in patients and the rush to sign pre-teens up for anti-depressants actually made them more suicidal then before the medication. Maybe the third time will be the charm with selling an American public on a quick fix to the health problems.

I don’t understand the rush to solve all problems with a pill. How about instead of registering your third-grader up for the prescription drug program you teach them the benefits of eating healthy and being active. In the long run, not only is the healthy lifestyle cheaper than taking a pill ever day, it means not going through life tethered to a box of pills.
Cool Art Room
How could any kid in first grade NOT love taking art classes in this classroom?

coolest art classroom everThe art teacher at Wilcox Primary School in Twinsburg, OH has really created quite a special room.
Who Wants a Reheated Breakfast Anyways?
I read today that JC Penny is basing its back-to-school clothing campaign on the 1985 uber-teen flick The Breakfast Club.

the breakfast clubSure, The Breakfast Club will play to someone like me, who was 13 when the movie debuted and considers the film one of the cultural touchstones of my generation.

But for kids aged 15 to 20, who I assume Penney’s is targeting with this campaign, does this movie mean anything? I mean, it’s a movie that came out five years before they were even born. Sure, the themes and story might still be relevant today, but is that enough to base an ad campaign on?

According to the story
, “Penney and Saatchi (the ad firm) gravitated toward The Breakfast Club because the story revolves around teens from different cliques coming together despite their differences.”

But for a bunch of kids who might not have given much thought to the popular movies of the generation before them, that’s a lot to sell in a 60-second spot. If they don’t know anything about the source material, will a riff used in a commercial or on a MySpace page make any sense?

I know it’s silly for me to even be thinking about it – I’m not going to be shopping for back-to-school clothes at J.C. Penney – but the story just won’t leave me alone. I can’t help but think Penney is setting themselves up for failure.

Who is the Best Super Hero?

super hero tourney imageThe RedEye, a Chicago newspaper for people too lazy to read actual news articles written by professional journalists, is having a Best Superhero Tourney.

The competition begins with 32 comic book heroes and in the end there will be only one; the best hero as voted on by visitors to the RedEye’s website. Each week different heroes go head-to-head in voting, with the winner moving up in his/her bracket. It's sorta like the NCAA basketball tourney, but without Dick Vitale.

The RedEye techno-wizards didn’t make voting very easy, but at least the editors managed to get someone to write a an endorsement for each hero. I voted in the first round and will try to see things through to the end. My prediction: Batman wins it all. Batman always win.

July 05, 2008

DC on iTunes

Look whose on iTunes now - the heroes of the DC Universe.

iTunes is now selling episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Super Friends, Batman Beyond, Aquaman, The Fleischer Studio Superman cartoons, and the live-action The Adventures of Superman TV show starring George Reeves.

I already own three of those five series (Batman: TAS, Superman: TAS, and The Fleischer Superman toons) and owe some of the Super Friends stuff. So I won't be dropping any money there.

However, I enjoyed Batman Beyond when it originally aired, so I wouldn't mind watching another episode or two of that series. Plus, I'm interested in sampling some of the Aquaman series; just to see what it is like.

July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day

In the past I've posted patriotic images or inspirational quotes.

This year I've decided to go with something more in line with my personal sensibilities: a pretty girl in a bikini and an angry cartoon duck

Frank Cho artwork for the Hero Initiative

Hope you had a happy Fourth of July.

[learn about the art]

July 02, 2008

Hey, I Built Something (Sorta)

Back in April one of the neighbors on our block was moving out. They had one of those large wooden play sets that have become so popular among suburban families. Big heavy lumber, lots of swings and things to climb on. It’s like having a playground play set right in your own backyard.

The new owners didn’t want the play set in the back yard, so the soon-to-be previous owners were breaking it apart on their way out. Heather got to talking with them, and before you can say “Bargain Hunter” Heather had them carrying the pieces of the partially dismantled play set into our backyard.

It was a great move by Heather. These play sets – at least one of the size the neighbors gave us – will usually cost around $1,400. We’d gotten it for free. Now I just had to figure out how to put it all together.

constructionThe problem was that the soon-to-be previous owners hadn’t been taking the set apart so that it could be reassembled easily. They were basically trying to break it down into moveable parts as quickly as possible. If that meant using their trusty sawzall to slice through bolts and screws, so be it. And as for directions or a schematic for how the play set went together, forget it. We were coming by this play set third-hand. It had been constructed (and as we learned later, with some custom alterations to the original plan) by the family who lived in the house before the family that was donating the play set to us. So any knowledge of how the thing went together was lost.

Luckily I was able to get some great help in figuring how to put the whole thing back so the kids could play on it.

My Father-in-Law came visiting in late April. It ended up being too cold and wet to work on the play set, but he was able to help me figure out roughly how all the pieces might go together. Our walk through a probable building plan in the rain ended up being critical in figuring out this three dimension puzzle went together when the weather warmed up and I could get some muscle in my backyard for a few days.

The muscle arrived on Father’s Day in June (May was a very busy month). My Brother-in-Law and my Dad graciously decided to forgo more traditional Father’s Day celebrations and instead help me move the seemingly 900 pound main structure into place in my backyard. (Every one laughed at my Dad's idea of sliding the monstrosity along to 2x8's - but I believed in the idea and loved proving everyone wrong and my Dad right.) Even when the rain started, they remained outside with me to get the main post back in place and raise the slide platform.

Ian even helped for awhile. At least until he grumbled about being in a "work camp" and searched out his Mom and Aunt for something more fun to occupy his time with.

The following weekend my Dad came back early Saturday morning and we worked all day to put the remaining platform in place, get the swing arm up, and dig out the ground so the whole structure would lay flat. As with any good home project, there were a few trips to the hardware store to pick up some different bolts and screws (I tried to use all new hardware whenever possible), but in the end the help my father provided was invaluable.

the play set we builtNow that I have hung the swings, put up the ladder, and secured the climbing wall and slide, the kids think we have the greatest play set on the block. Zoe even told me that I was the best builder in the whole world. I didn’t try correcting her by reminding her of all the help that I had received in building this play set, but I did think it. I’m not sure if or how I can repay my Dad and Father-in-Law for the assistance they provided, but I’m sure I’ll get a chance for returning favors for my Brother-in-Law and sister. They’re young, with plans of starting a family, so I pretty sure there will be a play set in need of construction somewhere in their future.

Tired of Batman?

Hey, if your tired of reading about Batman and comic book related stuff, you should go read Heather's blog. She's got fun stuff.

Baman Piderman

I don't know what it is or why they did it, but it sure is funny.

July 01, 2008

Magic Trixie

Magic TrixieMagic Trixie is the latest creation from Jill Thompson, she of Scary Godmother fame.

Magic is a first grader who happens to be a witch, and is surround by a wonderfully eccentric cast of family and friends. Thompson's artwork looks fantastic, as usual, and her past work on Scary Godmother leads me to believe the Magic Trixie books are going to be something special.

Thompson's deal to write/draw the Magic Trixie books was announced way back in 2006 and I'm glad to see them making their way to books stores this summer.

I can't wait to pick up one or two of these books for Emma and Zoe. I think Magic Trixie will be a big hit.

The books:
Magic Trixie
Magic Trixie Sleeps Over

The blog:
Magic Trixie