September 30, 2008

What's Fun About Comics?

Chris Giarrusso. The guy's work is pure, unadulterated fun.

You might think, looking at his comics, that his work could become trite and gimmicky; but that isn't the case. Giarrusso keeps his comics fresh and always delivers the funny.

sample of Chris G's work
I wish he wasn't so exclusive to Marvel. I'd love to see what he would do with the DC stable of characters.

His website is fantastic, too. Even the homepage animation navigation makes me laugh.

White Sox AL Central Champs

Chicago White Sox 2008 AL Central Division Champs
The White Sox squeezed every last ounce out of the 2008 regular season, out lasting the Minnesota Twins 1-0 to win the one game playoff and the AL Central Division crown.

The White Sox certainly didn't play their best baseball of the season over the last two weeks of September, but the won when it counted. Hopefully now the Sox can extend their mini-winning streak into the post-season when they meet the Tampa Bay Devil Rays this Thursday.

The Chicago Cubs are my Chicago baseball team of choice, but I can't help be excited about the success of the White Sox. I will be pulling for the Sox as long as they don't end up in the World Series with the Cubs. Then I'll be looking for them to wilt and make way for the Cubs to be World Champions.

It's hard to believe that both the Cubs and the White Sox are both Division champs and in the MLB post-season. This is uncharted territory for Chicago baseball fans. But certainly is fun.

As If They Needed Encouragement

After Heather and I moved to Chicago and were preparing to celebrate our first Christmas with our 1 year-old son, Ian, in our new house, my Mom asked if she could come over Christmas morning to watch Ian open the presents Santa had brought him.

Ian is my Mom's first grandchild, so she tends to get a little over-excited about some of the things he does.

I politely turned her down, stating that Heather and I wanted Christmas morning to be for just our immediate family and I reminded her that we would be coming over to her house later in the day for dinner, etc. She would have plenty of opportunities to watch Ian experience the joys of Christmas as a young child.

Well, what if she still came over Christmas morning but stood outside and peaked in through the window, was the counter-proposition.

I always assumed she was joking about standing outside and looking in the through the window, but to be honest, I was never quite certain on that.

If a new report from the Australian government concerning the role of grandparents in the development and well-being of their grandchildren had been released before that Christmas, there probably wouldn't have been any way of deterring her.
Grandparents play a critical role in their grandchildren's lives, helping boost their development even through simple activities such as reading to them or going shopping together, an Australian study said.
With those stats at her disposal, I probably would have had to chase her away with a broom or install blackout curtains that Christmas morning so many years ago.

September 26, 2008

History of Internet Memes

This is a fantastic piece of work.

An interactive walk-through of the major Internet memes that have been distracting us from our work ever since we discovered the Web.

I remember plenty of the early stuff from the late 90's through 2004, but after that the volume of stuff coming out makes it almost too much to keep up with.

history of Internet memes

September 24, 2008

Lawyers - Always Good for a Laugh

For about a week now Sheldon has been poking fun at the honorable profession of laywerin'.

Being the son of a attorney/judge, who grew up surrounded by attorneys and now has a sister who is an attorney, I think this sort of stuff is great.

The lawyer funnies start here.

These are two of my favorites.

Sheldon comic for 09-20-08

Sheldon comic for 09-23-08

September 23, 2008

Wise Words

The Founding Fathers did have all the answers over 200 hundred years ago. We just haven't been listening.
"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them, will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs."

Thomas Jefferson - letter to the Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin (1802)
Obviously, the emphasis provided in the quote from Mr. Jefferson was supplied by me.

Regardless, I find Mr. Jefferson's comments on the role of banks/financial institutions and their influence on the public very enlightening when contemplating our country's current state of affairs.

So Much for Government Protecting Its Citizens

This boggles me mind.
EPA won't limit rocket fuel in drinking water

WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency has decided there's no need to rid drinking water of a toxic rocket fuel ingredient that has fouled public water supplies around the country.
ADVERTISEMENT

EPA reached the conclusion in a draft regulatory document not yet made public but reviewed Monday by The Associated Press.
So there is rocket fuel in the water.

There is ROCKET FUEL IN OUR WATER.

How is that something that can be left alone? Confounds the hell out of me.

September 20, 2008

Cubs NL Central Champs - Again

Chicago Cubs ar NL Central Champs in 2008
The Chicago Cubs just clinched their second consecutive NL Central Division championship by defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 5-4.

I didn't get to watch the game because I was out playing paintball, but I did make it home in time to see some of the celebrations at Wrigley Field. It was a good thing seeing all those players covered in champagne. It means the first step is complete, three more to go.

All the way - Eddie VedderA nice way to celebrate and to prepare for the post season might be to get a hold of Eddie Vedder's new song, “Go All The Way”.

Vedder wrote and recorded the new Cub anthem at the request of Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks. There is an official download of the song available at the Pearl Jam website that will run you $.99, or you can get the bootleg version for free.

(I've gotten both, and frankly think the $.99 is worth it.)

Now lets see if the White Sox can follow suit and join the Cubs in the post-season.

September 19, 2008

Dad - You Gotta Think These Things Through

The first car my brother Kevin and I got to own/drive as teenagers in high school was a 1979 Dodge Colt.

The story (at least how my Dad told it) was that the car was offered up as partial payment for legal services rendered by our father, the attorney.

Looking back, Kevin and I (16 and 17 years-old respectively at the time) would probably have preferred what DeKalb, IL attorney Scott Robert Erwin traded his legal services for instead of the crusty black hatchback my Dad received out of his negotiations for payment.
Stripper's private dancing lands DeKalb lawyer in hot water

State commission suspends him 15 months for accepting nude dances as partial payment for her legal fees, report says.
I'm not saying that Kevin and I weren't grateful for the car, Dad. I just think that maybe you didn't think this bartering for legal services all the way through.

September 18, 2008

How Many Dots?

Not only is this challenging, its a great way to kill time.

Testing Your Approximate Number Sense

Where's My Bailout?

The United States Government’s bailout of insurance giant AIG has me perplexed.
For a country that is bills itself as the shining example of not only a democratic government, but a free-market economy, I don’t fully understand why over the last few weeks our Federal government has deemed it necessary to step in and save failing businesses. That sort of behavior seems economically antithetical.

Wall StreetWhat the government did for Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac and Bear Stearns, while slightly distressing, at least amounted to only trying to find a way to keep those organizations upright. It was a slightly perverted form of corporate mediation, if you will. The AIG deal, from where I sit, looks like a straight up hand out of cash to keep the company afloat. But in all cases the steps taken by the U.S. Government amount to governmental intervention to the private business sector.

This sort of government meddling certainly seems to run counter to the ideals of a free-market, but if these few bailouts helps the overall economy from a total meltdown then I am more inclined to go along with the decisions.

Except for one thing – the $85 billion loan to AIG.

The Mayor of Chicago, Richie Daley, is known for eccentric and off-kilter press conferences and public appearances. Even after almost 40 years in public service (almost 20 of those as the Mayor of Chicago) he still has a way of speaking that calls to mind somebody’s crazy uncle.

Despite all that, I thought his recent comments offered in response to the AIG bailout reflected my own thoughts on the subject.
mayor richard daley"$85 billion, that's your money. I mean, it's all of our money. I don't know where they get it. It's really interesting. They just print it or something.

"I feel sorry for people of America, what's happening to us. We don't have enough money for education but we have enough money to bail every problem on Wall Street that was not created by any of us. It was created by a number of people. And they all get their fees. Everybody got their fees. Everybody got taken care of. They all got their salaries. They all got their fees. And all of a sudden the taxpayers have to come up with this."
What frustrates me the most about this situation is the news that the SEC allowed five firms – I’ll let you guess who – to be exempt from rules that would have prevented these companies from leveraging themselves into the holes they have ended up in.

The SEC exempts a select few companies from certain regulations designed keep financial institutions from sitting on too shaky of ground, and when those same firms threaten to bring the U.S. economy to its knees as a result, the government rushes in to prop them back up with tax payer money.

I hope that two years from now, when I no longer have money to buy fuel, milk, or clothes because of an economy in shambles that AIG and these other firms will step in to reciprocate the help I unwilling provided them last week.

September 16, 2008

Inside the McKillip Castle

Came across two pieces of comic art that I think accurately captures what an evening at home in the McKillip Castle with Heather and I is usually like.

But it is usually a Batman comic that I'm reading

And Heather doesn't have to ask me to take the garbage out
They aren't perfectly representative of course.

Heather doesn't smoke and she doesn't have to ask me to take the garbage out. I'm more than eager to throw things out of our house. But I think you get the idea.

Incognito

I've been a huge fan of the pairing of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips since I discovered their work on Sleeper.

Their collaboration on Criminal has been just as fantastic.

Now I read that they will be debuting a new series called Incognito this November.

Icognito
The preview solicitation:
What if you were an ex-super villain hiding out in Witness Protection… but all you could think about were the days when the rules didn’t apply to you? Could you stand the toil of an average life after years of leaving destruction in your wake? And what if you couldn’t stand it? What would you do then?
More crime noir written from the bad guy's point of view. I love it.

Just like I am doing with Criminal; even though the story will be serialized in a monthly comic book, I'll wait for the collections to be published to pick up and read.

Quit Your Belly Aching

I want a set to hang at home.
i love these prints

September 15, 2008

Leave the Lion, Save Yourself

I've been following the stories coming out of Texas in the wake of Hurricane Ike and have seen and read some amazing stuff. But this little snippet is probably the most outragous that I've read to date:
"(Rescue task force leader Chuck)Jones did not have information on whether anyone had died on (Galveston), mainly because leaders still don't know how many people stayed through the storm that struck early Saturday.

Of particular concern is a resident who collects exotic animals who is now holed up in a Baptist church with his pet lion. "We're not going in there," Jones said. "We know where he (the lion) is on the food chain."
Holy crap.

I am sure the guy loves his pets and didn't want to see them needless killed; but locking yourself in a basement with a lion during a hurricane with no guarantee of when you will be able to get out. That's just crazy stupid. Leave the lion and save yourself.

September 14, 2008

Z Throws No Hitter

Z pitches his way to historyBecause Hurricane Ike was disrupting the Cubs-Astros series in Houston, TX, I lost all track of when and where those games were being rescheduled. I read so many different reports between Thursday and Saturday that I had no idea what MLB was doing about those games. So I was pretty shocked to see this headline pop-up this evening:

Zambrano throws no-hitter for Cubs

No only did the Cubs already play a rescheduled game against the Astros (the first of two game scheduled to be played in Milwaukee instead of Houston), but Carlos Zambrano pitched the first Cubs no-hitter in 36 years as Cubs rolled over the Astros 5-0.

Wow.

I wish I had known that the game was being played. I could have used it, and Z's fantastic performance, to wash away the disappoint of the Bears game earlier in the day.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

After more than 48 hours, I think the rain has finally let up here in Aurora.

make it stopFriday was overcast when I woke up in the morning, but the rain didn't start in earnest until about 2pm in the afternoon. But then the rain just kept coming and coming and coming. The showers would vary in intensity at time - sometimes a light drizzle, sometimes a moderate/high shower - but the storm pretty much maintained an even downpour the entire time. No big storms. No breaks in the rain. Just rain all the time.

I knew that Illinois was set to be hit by the remnants of Hurricane Ike, but I didn't realize that that meant two days of straight rain with no interruptions. It was amazing. It never stopped raining. Water fell out of the sky constantly. By hour number 30 of the non-stop rain I understood why the suicide rate is so high in Seattle (supposedly). How depressing to see nothing but gray skies and falling water all the time.

Heather and I watched the water collect between our house and the neighbor's houses. When it was raining harder, the lever would rise. When the rain let up, the water level would drop.

Lucky for us our house isn't near any river, creeks, or lakes and we've got a strong sump pump. We've stayed dry indoors. I don't know if I can say the same of some of the houses we saw during our drive to Church Sunday morning. We saw one house where the retention pond that their yard backed into was so over-filled that it almost reached their back porch. I can only imagine what their basement might be like.

The worst Heather and I will have to deal with is the grass in our yard. I swear that I could actually see the grass growing this weekend under the influence of all this rain. The lawn has to be an inch taller now that where it was Friday morning. Warm muggy air with lots of rain - it was a like rain forest out here. We will probably have to mow the yard two or three times this week to keep things in check.

But as I said. The rain seems to have finally stopped. The forecast for tomorrow is cool and dry. We can all start drying out.

September 12, 2008

What We Buy

The kids at the New York Times really know how to find fun and creative ways to present data.

Their latest is a fantastic interactive feature that helps you understand how people around the world spend their discretionary income.

nyt interactive feature
I learned that in the US we spend a lot on recreation.

September 11, 2008

The Dark Knight Returns

batman and the jokerWarner Brothers apparently believes that they have an Oscar-worthy movie in The Dark Knight. It's the only good explanation for their announcement that The Dark Knight will return in theaters this January - just in time for the height of the Academy Awards voting season and even after - considering that the movie will debut on DVD in December.

I'll certainly be adding the DVD to my collection, but I might try and swing a return visit to the theater to see The Dark Knight in its wide screen glory.

September 10, 2008

The Greatest American Hero Returns

the Greatest American HeroAbout a month or so back I read about the plan to produce a comic book based on the 1980’s TV show The Greatest American Hero. I was going to write something about this little news nugget because my dad, brother and I were big fans of the show back when it originally aired. The Greatest American Hero was one of the first TV shows (or any sort of pop media for that matter) that I remember sharing an interest in with my Dad.

Even though the comic was being co-written by William Katt (a.k.a. the actor who portrayed the "Greatest American Hero"), I opted not to write about the comic. Ultimately the idea of a comic based on the show generated marginal interest in me. Therefore the news was not worthy of a post.

But now I read that Stephen J. Cannell, the creator of The Greatest American Hero (and nearly half of all shows produced from 1975-1990), confirmed that there will be a featured film made based on the property. Apparently the recent boom in superhero movies and Disney’s less than spectacular summer 2008 box office take, has the House of Mouse moving more quickly on this project.

That’s something to write about. A movie and a comic. The Greatest American Hero is experiencing a renaissance.

According to Cannell, Katt, Connie Sellecca, and Robert Kulp will all be in the movie, but I have to imagine that Katt won’t be suiting up in the red pajamas again. I’m sure the story will have some new schlep taking on the role of the Greatest American Hero. Regardless, I hope they keep the fun tone that the original series had on TV and preserve the premise of the show: regular Joe is given alien-crafted super suit, but loses the instructions and has to figure things out on his own. Hilarity ensues.

September 09, 2008

Sure Are Purty

New Apple iPod Touch and iPod Nanos announced today.

ipod touch

ipod nano

September 08, 2008

Whoops

Not sure if this is an indication of the power of the Internet or how skittish Wall Street is.

For reasons that I am not clear on, this morning Bloomberg News Service ran a story first published by the Chicago Tribune 6 years ago about United Airlines filing for bankruptcy as if it was a brand new development.

Unit shares dropped 75% before the situation was cleared up, or at least United was able to assure everyone that they were not filing for bankruptcy - again.

The story isn't clear - actually I don't think anyone knows yet - how a reporter with Bloomberg thought a story from 2003 was a new story or why he didn't double check that a development as big as United Airlines filing for bankruptcy was true before running the story on the Bloomberg Income Security News Service, but it's kinda amazing how quickly one story had impact on the financial health of United Airlines.

I suspect at least one person might lose their job over this. Possibly a few people.

September 05, 2008

Bill and Jerry

I understand that reaction to the new Jerry Seinfeld – Bill Gates commercial for Microsoft has been rather cold since it debuted last night.

I saw the spot when it aired during the Redskins-Giants game and thought it was pretty funny. The commercial didn’t do much to get me interested in the Windows operating system, but the banter between Gates and Seinfeld made me laugh. Churros, Conquistadors, showering with your clothes on – I thought it was great.

they run tight

According to a Microsoft marketing big-wig, the 90-second spot is supposed to be a "teaser." I guess that means there will be more to come from new best buds Bill and Jerry.

September 03, 2008

Greatest Campaign Photo This Year

great photo
Read the story behind the photo here

September 02, 2008

Google Chrome

You'd probably think the last thing we need is another web browser, but you might be wrong. Between Microsoft's inferior but popular Internet Explorer, the technically superior Firefox, and the third-party candidate Opera (not to mention all the little custom browsers), everyone should be covered when it comes to their web browsing needs. But that hasn't stopped Internet uber-company Google from developing and launching their own browser: Chrome.

It's set to be released sometime today as a Beta for Windows machines, and was built from scratch from the bottom up to make the most of what the Internet has to offer today - not 1998 when the browsers wars started.

One of the more interesting points of this browser project is that Google brought in comic creator / theorist Scott McCloud to create a comic explaining / demystifying what it is that the Google engineers did when putting together Chrome.

snippet from the beginning of the google chrome comic
The browser isn't out yet, but when it does launch I will be installing it. Google has produced some amazing web applications over the last few years, and after reading through this comic I am excited about giving their web browser a try. They might actually win me away from Firefox.

September 01, 2008

Just Let It End

I'm really not sure if it was coincidence or an intended counter-punch, but I couldn't help but take note of the the opposing underling artistic point of views in Sunday's For Better or For Worse and Opus.

While Lynn Johnston was trying to explain to us why that instead of finding an ending for the story of the fictional Patterson clan or turning the strip into a frozen-in-time perpetual soap opera (i.e. Brenda Starr), she's opted to restart the For Better or For Worse from the beginning so she can retread old stories, Berkeley Breathed was publishing an episode of Opus that clearly take a swipe at all of the comic strip creators who cannot - or will not - realize that every story needs an ending.

what should have been the last For Better or for Worse

Is Berkeley calling Johnston out?
While I have never really found Berkeley's comic strips particularly funny, I do appreciate the work he has done and the unique voice he has brought to the medium. And with yesterday's strip I think it's clear that he understands what comic strip creators like Lynn Johnston do not. That the circle of life does apply to comic strips. All things need to come to an end - regardless of how much you are enjoying them.

I suspect Berkeley is building up to ending his Opus strip. Possibly so he can move on to something else. Maybe find a new outlet for his creative energies.

Lynn, on the other hand, has decided to take the Opus' interpretation of the circle of life in comics to an extreme - sending FBOFW readers into a endless loop of the same stories repeated from the beginning. She's not even going to try and come up with new material. Johnston plans to rehash the old stories. Even writers of Hagar the Horrible and Dick Tracy try to come up with new stories and gags.

Lynn's decision boggles my mind. What a waste of comic strip space.