August 30, 2008

Free Citizen

I think we should all be 'free citizens'

preach it, grandpa!
[Sheldon]

August 29, 2008

A Post about Star Wars

Even though the press release clearly states that the DVDs in these two box sets are exactly the same as what was originally released with the special edition versions of all the Star Wars movies over the last few years (and which I already own), I still can’t help thinking about owning these two new boxed sets.

It has to do with the slick continuity of design. These two box sets would just look pretty cool up on the shelf with the rest of the DVDs in my collection. Luckily, my logical self understands that owning movies on DVD is about the content, not the packaging; so ultimately I will pass on these sets.

But speaking of Star Wars and movie content, I’m not done talking about Star Wars quite yet. I really liked what Todd Alcott had to say about Star Wars in general when he was reviewing The Clone Wars animated movie that recently landed in theaters.

the empire strike back movie posterHis point, basically, is this: that for all these middle-aged whiners who claim George Lucas has ruined Star Wars with the release of his Prequel Trilogy and now this animated Clone Wars series, Lucas is gaining an equal number from a new generation of fans with the Prequel/Clone Wars material. How we, the grown-ups fans of Star Wars, relate to Star Wars is completely different from today’s kids.

Now I like the Prequel Trilogy well enough, but I know those are the films that Ian is more excited about watching. He likes the Original Trilogy, which is my favorite of the bunch; but he will pick Attack of the Clones over Return of the Jedi any day. When he talks Star Wars, it is usually about Anakin, Count Doku and Jango Fett, not Luke, Han, and Leia.

And while I am sort of ambivalent about the whole Clone Wars animated series that will be debuting on TV this fall (and has received a movie release this summer), Ian is talking up his excitement and interest in seeing both the film and the TV cartoon.

the clone wars movie posterAlcott makes the point that the reason most middle-agers hold the original Star Wars films in such high regard is that they provide a link back to their childhood, and by extension other happy memories. He argues that if you take a step back and critique Star Wars or Return of the Jedi with the critical eye of an adult seeing the film for the first time, these original movies really aren’t much better than the new batch of films. It’s all a matter of when you first watch a Star Wars movie that determines your connection with the storyline and the mythology of the series.

If anything, I think the staying power of the Original Trilogy with middle-agers and the level of interest generated by the Prequel/Clone War material within the next generation is a testament to Lucas’ power to craft exciting stories that capture the imagination of youngsters in a deep and moving way. He grabbed us when we were young, and now he is inspiring the imagination of our children with new tales in his Star Wars universe. Let's leave the man alone and let him create in peace.

August 27, 2008

New Face for the Tribune?

Sam Zell and Team are working up redesigns for many of the Tribune Company's newspapers to combat sagging sales. The Orlando Sentinel was the first paper to go under the knife, and apparently also acted as a guinea pig for trying out some unconventional design approaches for a daily newspaper.

Now it looks like it might be flagship paper, The Chicago Tribune, to get a new face.

Editor & Publisher leaked this design today as one of many new designs being considered for the Trib.

leaked Tribune redesign mock-up

I'm trying to reserve judgment until I can see a larger version of the mock-up and possibly some interior pages, but my initial reaction is "ugh."

This design seems to put the Trib more in line with tabloid papers like the Chicago Sun-Times or the New York Daily News with their flashy graphics and large fonts. To me this sort of presentation is about making a newspaper more interested in style and getting noticed than on the quality and substance of the stories.

If the quality of the content remains but the packaging is spruced up, then I really won't care too much about what they do to the Trib. But if the new design/style starts to cramp on the quality, then Heather and I might be ending our subscription.

But that's getting ahead of ourselves. We need to give the Trib some time to finalize a design

August 26, 2008

The Gigglesnort Hotel

I haven't seen this in years - almost forgot about it to.

The Gigglesnort Hotel was a kids show here in Chicago during the late 1970's. I only vaguely remember the program, but I clearly recall The Blob.


If I recall correctly, host Bill Jackson, besides shaping the Blob into whatever he needed it to be, would also do some great cartooning during the show.

August 25, 2008

Wisconsin Has The Best Roadside Signs

When I was young lad going somewhere with my parents, there were a few telltale roadside signs that announced to my brother, sister and I that we were headed for fun.

Driving over the Thorton Quarry on I-294/I-80 meant we were leaving Illinois to the East, headed out through Indiana to probably somewhere in Michigan (we never did anything in Indiana). Camping and apple picking were the usual activities.

Seeing the giant Magikist lips sign on the Eisenhower Expressway meant we were almost to downtown Chicago, which could mean almost anything could be happening next.

And the huge wooden Wisconsin sign on I-90 meant we had entered Cheeseland: Chicago’s collective backyard playground. More than likely it meant we were on our way to spend a week at Lake Delavan swimming and playing with cousins in a small cottage that my Grandfather had rented for a week or two for the whole family to share.

the kids in front of the giant wooden Wisconsin signSeemingly perpetual construction on I-294/I-80 means I take a different route when headed east out of Illinois, so no more crossing the abyss of the quarry; and the Magikist sign was taken down about ten years ago. So that leaves the hulking wooden replica of the state of Wisconsin hanging on the side of the road as one of my fonder childhood vacationing/traveling memories that I still get to revisit.

Last year my Dad restarted the tradition of renting a cottage on Lake Delavan for a week in the summer and inviting the family up to stay. It has been great fun for me to take Heather and the kids to a place I have so many great memories of. It has also provided me the opportunity to see the Wisconsin sign in context of a drive to Delavan again and know that the sign not only marked our arrival in Wisconsin, but that we were only about half an hour away from our final destination.

This year I pulled the van over and had the kids get out so we could get some photos next to the sign.

Cheesy? Maybe, but this is Wisconsin after all.

hey, it is a magnet version of the same giant wooden Wisconsin signThere was some grumbling and dirty looks, but the agony of dragging them out for the photo op paid off when Heather found a magnet depicting the roadway sign. The kids were just as excited as she was to find this perfect souvenir. They have always had a wonderful time when we’ve vacationed up in Wisconsin, and now they are associating that fun with its roadside marker – the wooden Wisconsin sign.

Congratulations Kevin!

My brother received his 3rd Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination in 5 years this morning. His second nomination in as many years.

For his work as Eustace in Jeeves Intervenes with the First Folio theater company he is being honored with a nomination for Actor in a Supporting Role - Play.

I am extremely proud and excited for Kevin to be recognized and honored by the Chicago theater community like this again. And I look forward to being there to support him when the awards are handed out in late October.

August 24, 2008

LEGO Batgirl

Ian owns all of the LEGO Star Wars video games and he got LEGO Indiana Jones game this summer (my favorite to date).

However, this fall LEGO Batman hits store shelves and I'm already thinking that we have to get this for our new Wii. If not for the huge gallery of characters the creators have crammed into the game, then at least for LEGO Batgirl.

Batgirl is the tops
How cool is that. LEGO Batgirl is the tops.

Ain't It The Truth

ooooh, New York is soooo important
Damn New Yorkers.

[via]

August 23, 2008

Wheelchair Werewolf

Funny. I particularly like the sheriff.

Vote Fett in '08

Obama picks Joe Biden - that's already played out.

What I want to know is who Boba Fett will be picking for his running mate.

Boba Fett won't take any crap as President

August 15, 2008

Grammar Police

I love today's Wondermark

Wondermark comic from 08/15/08
Mainly because I share many of the same hang-ups as the "language nerd" in today's comic.

I cannot stand to listen to someone say "I could care less" when they actually mean "I could not care less."

August 14, 2008

The Scatology of Cheese

a lot of cheeseIs it just me, or does the term "Handcrafted Cheese" sound like something dirty or gross?

I saw the phrase on the side of a truck this morning while walking to work. It was plastered in a big, bold font over an image of piles of cheese. When I read it, I snickered.

Whether you think the phrase is dirty or not is probably more a reflection of the sort of mind the interpreter has, not the inherent meaning of the phrase. If you smirk when you read "Handcrafted Cheese," you probably have a mind that leans towards the scatological.

Handcrafted cheese . . . ha

August 13, 2008

Appaloosa

appaloosa stars ed harris and Viggo MortensenDo you think my predisposition for Westerns has something to do with growing up as an American male?

It's hard to say. Certainly the Western is a uniquely American setting for telling a story, even if that story is a Samuri story, that taps into a romanticized version of American history that can reflect an image of how American's probably view (or would like to view) themselves.

Anyway, that's what seeing the trailer for this fall's Appaloosa made me think about.

Just like last year's 3:10 to Yuma, Appaloosa looks like another modern Western film that will be worth my time. Hopefully the film is of the same quality as the trailer.

August 12, 2008

August 09, 2008

Nike - Courage

I saw this commercial last night while watching the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics and thought it was pretty neat.

It's a beautiful mix of images and music.


If you go to the Nike website, you can learn about many of the athletes featured in the ad.

August 08, 2008

Cubs Beat Cardinals!

I love MLB's Gameday

Cubs beat the Cardinals 3-2 in 11 innings

Cubs beat the Cardinals in 11 innings when Henry Blanco hits a single with the bases loaded. I didn't get to watch it or hear the radio call of the play, but I least "saw" it thanks to MLB Gameday.

Brett Favre Follies

Even though I am a Chicago Bears fan, I’ve always found a way to be a Brett Farve fan.

Favre owned the Bears during his years in Green Bay. Beat them consistently. Still, I loved the excitement Favre brought to the field and it was only because of him that I would watch a Packers game (If the Bears weren’t playing)

brett favre as a jetI really wish Favre had stayed retired or figured out before retiring that he didn’t want to retire just yet. Now instead of having a Hall of Fame career nicely contained while playing for Green Bay, Favre will have a Hall of Fame career broken up by this bizarre un-retirement circus that recently landed him in New York where he will now play for the Jets. And who knows how that will turn out.

The guy had already written a good ending to his pro football story. He went out (nearly) on top with a slew of records to his name and a monstrous fan base – not to mention near god-hood in Green Bay.

But now because either he’s afraid of what life without football might mean or an inability to commit to a decision, he re-opens the book and announces that he wants to write more chapters. Along the way he puts his old team in an impossibly awkward position – either welcome back their star and go back on the position that “Aaron Rogers is our guy” or try and juggle having the star on the bench while the new guy finds his way as the starter of the Green Bay Packers – and eventually lands on a team that hasn’t really been able to pull things together since Joe Namath left in the 1970s in a town that will not idolize him like the folks in Wisconsin did. If the expectations and treatment another high profile NYC sports acquisition received is any indication (see: Alex Rodriguez), Brett Favre will be lucky to make it out of the Big Apple alive.

From where I sit, I would think you would like to tie things up nicely and walk off to the next stage in your life. But obviously Brett Favre doesn’t think that way. I hope he knows what he is doing, but considering how he handled the “will he or won’t he retire” game for the four or five years before he actually “retired” at the end of last season, before reversing his decision and scrambling to try and get back into the NFL, I have to question the guy’s decision making abilities off of the gridiron. Only time, and the 2008 NFL season, will tell how this next part of Brett’s story plays out.

August 07, 2008

My Food Post

Growing up in Chicago, I've learned to appreciate a good hot dog. However, as much as I might love a good hot dog with all the toppings, even I might have to pass on the Homewrecker.

my cholesterol count went up just looking at this photo
HillBilly Hotdogs in West Virginia will sell you this 3.5 pound belly bomb.

Eat the 15", 1-pound dog and top it with peppers, onions, nacho cheese, chili sauce, jalapenos, mustard, ketchup, coleslaw, tomatoes, lettuce, and shredded cheese in 12 minutes and get a free t-shirt. Manage to pump the thing into your stomach in less than 4 minutes (and presumably keep it down) and they refund you your $14.99.

Wonderful.

Here's something not as threatening. The Wake n' Bake.

An alarm clock that wakes you up with the smell and sizzle of cooking bacon.

hmmmm . . . bacon
Dudes created an alarm clock that cooks bacon.

That is true genius on display.

Dean Peterson is My New Hero

Let the dude wear his kilt!Dean Peterson is a mail carrier in the Seattle area who is trying to get approval to wear a kilt while he lugs phone bills and catalogs up and down neighborhood streets.

A couple years ago his wife bought him a kilt as a gift from a trip she took to Scotland. He tried it on and Peterson’s love affair with the garment was born.

In his letter to the National Letter Carriers' Association, who have to approve his choice of work attire, he wrote, “Unbifurcated Garments (i.e. kilts) are far more comfortable and suitable to male anatomy than trousers or shorts because they don't confine the legs or cramp the male genitals the way that trousers or shorts do."

Amen brother!

Dude shouldn’t have to ask permission to wear a kilt. We (and by “We” I mean men) should all be wearing kilts.

Pants are for dullards.

August 05, 2008

Sugary Serials

Hey - its the Araknid Kid!Not sure when (or how) I will find the free time to do so, but if I can, I want to spend some of it reading through the different comic offerings at Sugary Serials.

That site looks like a lot of fun.

Especially The Adventures of The Araknid Kid.

U.S. Dollar Finally Good for Something

With the U.S. economy as weak as it is right now, it’s refreshing to see that the U.S. dollar can still do something for us.
“Paper money contains high traces of cocaine, regardless of whether or not the paper money came into direct contact with the drug. And U.S. bills take the top spot, covered in the greatest amount of the illegal powder, while Spanish notes are the most highly contaminated in Europe, a new study finds.”
Maybe if we grind it up and snort it, we will forget about the credit crisis, housing crisis, unemployment, rising food prices, rising fuel costs, etc.

Beijing Smog

Phil Hersh is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune who is in Beijing to cover the upcoming Olympics. In addition to the stories he will be filing about the Olympics, he is also chronicling with his camera the air quality as he sees it each day from his hotel window.

The quote for this photo, “The view from the hall window next to Phil Hersh's Beijing hotel room at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 5. Phil says: ‘White air again. Ugh.’”

i would not want to be running around in that air

Who has “white” air? It looks like they are having a snow storm.

I get the feeling that if China doesn’t kill the rest of the world with the lead-laced toys and consumer products, then they will eventually block the Sun from warming the Earth with the ever-growing cloud of out-of-control industrial expansion produced smog.

August 04, 2008

Gil

Norm Feuti is the creator of the very funny comic strip Retail.

He's currently shopping around a new idea for a strip and is sharing his experiences on his blog.

The new strip is called "Gill" and it is about a 8-year old boy with divorced parents who lives in a trailer park. The premise doesn't sound funny, but the strip looks hysterical. Feuti makes all the samples he is sending out to the comic strip syndicates available on his site so you can get a good feel for the strip.
a sample of GilLet's hope the syndicates wise up and realize that more fresh artistic voices are needed in comic strips. Not more warmed over leftovers like Beetle Bailey and Garfield.

August 01, 2008

Better Living with the B&J Supersquad

"Feel my quad"


What I love about these spots - yes, there are more - is how the guy playing Batman perfectly mocks Christian Bale's poor man's Dirty Harry gravely Batman voice from the movies.