October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Comic book fans will appreciate this Halloween-themed illustration by Adam Koford

Galactus gets a treatI'm off to take the kids trick-or-treating, to be followed up by dad-mooching-candy-from-his-kids.

Maybe this holiday isn't so bad after all.

Thank You Jesse White

jesse whiteFirst, I’d like to thank you for your tumbling team.

I’m not sure if the Chicago Bulls franchise could have outlasted the 1980’s if it wasn’t for your troop of entertaining acrobats and their halftime performances.

Second, thanks for opening the Secretary of State Express office in downtown Chicago.

I was in the door at 8:03 am to renew my driver’s license and back on the street by 8:10 am. It was amazing.

Before visiting the express office, I had resigned myself to losing this Saturday morning to sitting in lines and waiting around the Aurora Secretary of State office so I could get a new license. But thanks to express office in downtown Chicago, my weekend is still free and I have new license.

All in less than 10 minutes

Life Imitating Art - Unfortunately

This was the front page of The Onion back in May 1993.

The Onion from May 29, 1993
Replace Roy the Forklift drive with Joe the Plumber, and Rush Limbaugh with any recent McCain campaign rally, and the story still reads true.

October 29, 2008

I Am a Goofy Suburban Dad

A number of years back I reflected on the fact that we had become one of those families. When Heather purchased a giant inflatable Scooby-Doo, we became a family that had embraced the popular trend of turning Halloween into a holiday on par with Christmas when it comes to home decorations.

a photo of scooby taken at our old houseThe other night, as I worked in the cold and the pitch dark to set up our inflatable Scooby-Doo on the front yard after getting home from work, I couldn't help but wonder what sort of goofy suburban dad Halloween was turning me into.

Ian, Emma, and Zoe all wanted Scooby set up (Though Ian did complain that Scooby was a bit too "kiddie". He was hoping we could be some real scary decoration for our house) and I had planned on staking Scooby's spot out on the front yard this past weekend. However, a rainy Saturday and a very windy Sunday meant that Scoob didn't make it out of the garage before I headed back to work on Monday morning.

But a promise is a promise, so there I was outside on Monday night around 8pm with a flashlight sorting out which way the deflated Scooby had to be oriented so that when he was full of air he would be ready to great all our visitors come trick-or-treat time this Friday.

Thirty minutes and ten frozen and slightly banged up fingers later; Scooby was standing proudly and Heather and the kids were all rejoicing in Scooby's return to the front yard.

Five years ago I don't know if I would have ventured out into the dark to set up an inflatable yard decoration for Halloween. What am I saying? I know I wouldn't have done that. It's these kids. The more I get to know them, the more it makes me want to do things for them.

I still don't see the appeal or necessity in all of these Halloween decorations. I'm reluctant to even refer to it as a holiday. But if it's what makes Ian, Emma, and Zoe (and even Heather) happy, then I guess it is my lot in life to be that goofy suburban dad outside in the dark

October 28, 2008

Well That Should Take Care of Everything

Saw this little AP story headline and immediately knew that happier, rainbow and unicorn filled days of laughter and booming economies are now just moments away.
White House tells banks to stop hoarding money

WASHINGTON – An impatient White House is serving notice on banks receiving billions of dollars in federal help to quit hoarding the money and start making more loans.

White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters Tuesday that the Bush administration is trying to "get banks to do what they are supposed to do," which is lend money. Though there are limits on how much Washington can pressure financial firms, she noted that banks are regulated by the federal government.
The White House's approach to putting pressure on banks to start lending money reminds me of a line from Ghostbusters.

After the novice Ghostbusters have a less than successful first encounter with a apparition in the basement of a library, Bill Murray's character - Peter Venkman says, "Hee hee hee! 'Get her!' That was your whole plan, huh, 'get her.' Very scientific."

October 26, 2008

How to Really Appeal to Joe Six-Pack

I love it when this country holds a Presidential campaign. It bring out the creativity in everyone.

Sarah Palin look-alike stripper contest REUTERS/Tiffany Brown
Contestants take the stage during a U.S. Republican vice-presidential nominee Alaska Governor Sarah Palin look-alike stripper contest at a strip club in Las Vegas, Nevada October 23, 2008. Contestants competed for $10,000 in prize money and a trip to Washington D.C. for the presidential inauguration.

October 25, 2008

New Medical News

I don't think I even have to write a joke for this one.
The Stink in Farts Controls Blood Pressure

A smelly rotten-egg gas in farts controls blood pressure in mice, a new study finds.

The unpleasant aroma of the gas, called hydrogen sulfide (H2S), can be a little too familiar, as it is expelled by bacteria living in the human colon and eventually makes its way, well, out.

The new research found that cells lining mice's blood vessels naturally make the gas and this action can help keep the rodents' blood pressure low by relaxing the blood vessels to prevent hypertension (high blood pressure). This gas is "no doubt" produced in cells lining human blood vessels too, the researchers said.
I'm thinking my kids won't ever have to worry about having high blood pressure.

October 24, 2008

Bond Fortnight

James BondHere in the Colonies, the 22nd James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, opens on November 14.

But the chaps and ladies in the United Kingdom will get to see Daniel Craig's second turn as Agent 007 when the film debuts on October 31.

Therefore, the Empire magazine online section Bond Fortnight, a celebration of the famous international MI-6 super spy counting down to the movie's release, has already started.

Lots of interesting and fun information for fans of Bond - even if the countdown is a little premature for Bond fans on this side of the pond. I'm enjoying checking it out each day and am looking forward to seeing the new movie.

October 22, 2008

October 21, 2008

Finally

The cool temperatures. The crisp air. The interesting colors.

fall colors in North Carolina
I am so glad autumn is finally here.

Now I just wished I lived where I could enjoy colors like those in the photo above.

October 20, 2008

Has A Victory Ever Resulted in a Grumpier Post?

Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith has gone on the record a number of times stating that his football team will be about strong special teams, opportunistic and powerful defense, and a run-oriented offense. The Bears team that was on the field Sunday against NFC North rivals the Minnesota Vikings had a hard time living up to those tenets, but they won anyway.

watch Adrian Peterson run over the BearsThe play of the different special team units was strong. They blocked a punt and recovered the ball for a touchdown, were all over another punt that took a favorable bounce to translate into a Bears touchdown, and they were stable with their own punt and kick-off returns/coverage.

Tallying up 4 interceptions and a fumble recovery, the Bears defense certainly was opportunistic in their play against QB Gus Frerotte and the Vikings offense. But powerful? I don’t think a squad that gives up 41 points can be considered powerful. The Bears gave up 439 total yards in offense – 155 of that on the ground. I would call that a “waving-to-Adrian-Peterson-as-he-runs-past-me” defense.

I guess the bright spot is that even though injuries to the secondary meant that the Bears were playing rookies and guys they found standing around on the street at cornerback, the Bear defense did pull down four interceptions. Hopefully that is a sign of depth and potential big game talent on the bench behind the current hurting starters who have been anything but solid so far this year.

And that run-oriented offense? I don’t care how you spin it, 53 total yards rushing is not “run-oriented”. The Bears are clearly riding the hot arm of Kyle Orton (not a sentence I ever expected to be writing – that’s to be sure) for everything that it’s worth. While the pass-happy offense helped keep the Bears on top of this past Sunday’s shoot-out, it is not a position that I would like the Bears to continue to be in.

Kyle Orton continue to look fantasticIf the Bears (and Bears fans) want to stop worrying about 4th quarter collapses, then the team has to start controlling the game and the game clock by running the ball consistently and effectively. The Bears could have sealed the deal Sunday with their last possession if they had eked out another first down and run the ball for a few more plays. Instead they had to punt the ball away. Luckily rookie cornerback Zackary Bowman was there to intercept Frerotte for a fourth time.

Through the first few games of the season it looked like the Bears had a real rushing threat in rookie Matt Forte. I don’t know why the offense has gone away from him. Hopefully during the bye-week the squads can regroup and figure things out before Detroit comes for a visit. I’d love to see a defensive shut-out and 150 yards on the ground out of the Bears.

October 19, 2008

I Consider It My Duty

Before we launch into tonight's story, remember one thing: my favorite cable network is Turner Classic Movies.

Now read on.

I take a fair amount of ribbing from Heather for how long the kids' baths take on the nights that I supervise. And while I admit that I tend to goof around and create a fair amount of distractions for the kids, in the end I think we all have a fun time and everyone ends up clean and in pajamas.

Part of my shtick is to sing - either make up ridiculous songs or sing songs from old movies. My musical interludes are always halted by pleas for silence from the children, but not before I steal a laugh or smile from the horribly embarrassed child.

For the last two nights that I was helping Emma with her bath I had been singing "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off." Instead of demanding that I stop singing, Emma seemed interested in the tune and started asking me about it. I told her it was from a movie, Shall We Dance, and that it was sung by a man and a woman right before they did some really neat dancing on roller skates.

My explanation seemed to bolster her interest, so I showed her this clip from the movie.



Emma's first question upon seeing Ginger and Fred dancing was, "Are those people real?"

Yes, I told her, those are real people singing and doing those amazing dance moves while perched up on roller skates.

She agreed with me that Ginger Rodger and Fred Astaire were not only good dancers, but good roller skaters as well. Overall she seemed very impressed with Astaire's and Rodger's performance.

Before bed that night Emma told Heather about the song and about the video clip I had showed her from the movie. Heather could see how the five minute clip had captured Emma's imagination. Heather turned to me and said, "You're bound and determined to convert one of them (one of our three kids) into a fan, aren't you?"

"I consider it my duty," was my reply.

October 17, 2008

Why I Like Comics

It's not the only reason, but Richard Thompson's Cul De Sac strip makes clear one of the reasons I prefer spending my time and money on comics.

Cul De Sac from 10-12-08
I love The Dark Knight, but I'll always prefer my Batman stories in comic form over film. Like Petey Otterloop says in the strip, movies are passive and comics are active - from an audience involvement point of view.

When you watch a movie you are completely at the mercy of the director and editor as far as how quickly or slowly you experience the story. If you want to dwell on a scene longer you don't have the option. The director is going to move things along as he/she sees fit.

However in comics you can spend five minutes absorbing the details of one panel - one scene - before moving on to the rest of the story. And you have the option to stop mid-story and go back to earlier scenes if you want to. It's your decision.

Comics are a wonderful interactive medium for experiencing a story. I can't imagine ever giving that up.

It Really Can Fix Anything

Duct Tape Bandages

Real men use duct tape bandages

Buy 'em at Amazon.com

Now if I can only find some weather stripping made out of newspaper . . .

October 16, 2008

Figured It Out

I thought something about this Presidential campaign between John McCain and Barack Obama seemed familiar. This little piece of artwork finally put the pieces together for me.

Batmobama & Robiden

The 2008 Presidential campaign is an re-tread of an episode of the 1960's Batman TV show. Look, the campaign is even copying the debate.


Can't way to see who shows up to play the Cesar Romero as Joker character to counter Obama/Batman and McCain/Penguin.

October 14, 2008

TCM's Next Two Tuesdays

I like what TCM has in store for the next two Tuesday nights. I'll need to swing my schedule around to catch some of the programming.

Gangster Classics
10/21 - "TCM presents a night of crime dramas including James Cagney in The Public Enemy (1931) and the original documentary, Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film (2008)"

Gangster Classics on TCM 10-21-2008

Billy Wilder in the '50s
10/28 - "The brilliant and acerbic writer-director is honored with a 5-movie retrospective and the original documentary Billy Wilder Speaks (2006)"

Billy WIlder in the 1950s on TCM 10-28-2008
Trust me. It's good stuff.

October 10, 2008

Somber Thoughts

The tanking U.S. stock market has me a little spooked, but not in a panic. I'm young, and as long as I don't lose my job, I figure there is still plenty of time for me to ride things out as far as Heather and my investments are concerned.

However, in all the stories and analysis that I've read concerning the market meltdown, one reoccurring point that is made is how devastating this week's crash could be on retirees or soon to be retirees who still had money wrapped up in stocks.

Which of course led me to consider my mom's and dad's situation. Both in their early 60's, I wonder how or if this market collapse is going to alter their retirement plans.

Then I saw this editorial cartoon as part of a collection by John McCutcheon, the "Dean of American Cartoonist", and it only strengthened that concern.

John McCutcheon cartoon
It is interesting how even with so much attention made to learn from history so that the same "bad" things aren't repeated, we still find a way to muddle into "bad" situations that are eerily like events of the past.

While I think we've learned too much to end up in another Depression like America experienced in the 1930's, we do seem headed for some sort of recession/depression unlike anything we had since then.

October 09, 2008

Dark Knight Mashup

I don't know if this video mash-up of the audio from The Dark Knight movie trailer with video from Toy Story 2 is new or old, but it's been making the rounds on the blogs I read lately.

Not only is the mash solid, the result is damn funny.


Watching this reminds me how much I enjoyed The Dark Knight and how eager I am to see it again.

More Good Economic News

Our national debt has grown so large that the National Debt Clock cannot even display all the numbers.

My portion is $86,000? That's insane

To accommodate the display of our $10.2 trillion debt, the dollar sign in the clock was replaced with a "1". A new clock will be installed early next year that will allow the debt display to climb up to the quadrillion of dollars.

Pleasant.

Fun fact: The national debt has grown more than $500 billion each year since fiscal year 2003.

Thanks for everything, George W. Bush!!

October 07, 2008

Batman and Iron Man

What I found most funny about today's PVP is that I was think this very same thing the just other day.

PVP for 10-07-2008Tony Stark/Iron Man is Bruce Wayne/Batman but without all the emotional baggage.

Still think Batman's cooler though.

Best Insurance Commerical Ever

Mostly because those damn cavemen aren't in it.

October 06, 2008

Moving On to Football

I don’t even want to talk about the Cubs, so don’t ask. I’d rather talk about more pleasant, happy sport stories like the strong early season performances being put on by the Chicago Bears and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

notre dame's jimmy clausenCharlie Weis has coached his Irish to a 4-1 record mainly on the strength of QB Jimmy Clausen’s arm and Clausen’s marked improvement running the offense. The Irish still don’t run a whole lot and their defense isn’t any extraordinary, yet they have found ways to win football games - just not enough wins, or convincingly enough wins, to get the attention of the AP or Coach’s polls. If the Irish want to climb into the Top 25 of ranked teams, then they will need to balance out the runs vs. pass and step up on defense to show the country that they are more than just a team with a lucky streak.

But I don’t mind the Irish’s absence from the Top 25. The games are much more fun to watch this season. My excitement for watching the games is not because they are winning, but because I believe that they actually have a chance to win. The team looks competent. They execute plays correctly. It is nothing like last season where the Irish consistently looked over-matched week in and week out. I didn’t want to watch last season (though usually did). This fall I am looking forward to seeing the Notre Dame game.

The Irish aren’t a BCS level team this season, but they look good enough to finish with a winning record and a bowl invitation. That’s something nice to think about, instead of, say, Alfonso Soriano’s 1-for-14 playoff performance against the Dodgers.

The Chicago Bears are also off to a strong start this season. Some will say that the Bears could be/should be 5-0, but the fact is that they buckled under to two teams late in the game and gave away victories. They don’t deserve to be 5-0. The Bears are 3-2, on top of the NFC North division, and appear to be growing stronger as the weeks progress.

In the grand NFL scheme of things, I don’t think we know the true quality level of the 2008 Chicago Bears. They beat Indianapolis handedly in the season opener, but the Colts are 2-2 and hardly looking like the unstoppable juggernauts of years past. (Though there is still time for Peyton Manning to right the ship). The Philly (2-3) win was impressive, but just like in the games against Carolina (4-1) and Tampa Bay (3-2), the Bears were in the process of giving the game away after they had built up a good lead. The difference with the Philly game was the Bear defense finally stiffened and stopped the skid to preserve the win.

kyle orton of the chicago bearsThe Bears humiliated the Detroit Lions this past weekend, 34-7. The Bears not only built up a huge lead, but the never even let Detroit get into the game. A refreshing change of pace from what the last three Bears games were like.

The victory was fun to watch, but I’m not sure what it proves. It certainly showed that Detroit has a horrible team that is in desperate need of help. If the Bears want to consider themselves a playoff-caliber team, they should beat a team like Detroit by 27 points on the road. So I figure this victory is a step in the right direction, but by no means proof that the Bears are a look for the playoffs.

Next week’s game should show us just how good this Bears team really is when they go down to Atlanta to take on a Falcons team that is surprising a lot of people with their play and having the same sort of early season success that the Bears are enjoying. Winning that game on the road would set the Bears up nicely as they close out the first half of the season.

I hate the Cubs . . . until next Spring.

October 02, 2008

MAVERICK!

ad taken from the Chicago Tribune websiteSaw this ad (right) on the Chicago Tribune website today and it got me to thinking how over the course of the last few weeks, the McCain campaign has totally ruined the word "maverick" for me.

The campaign's over-use of the word to describe both Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin is sapping the original meaning from the term. "Maverick" is drifting over into the realm of the single-word punchline instead of the a verbal embodiment of a personal philosophy or code of conduct.

Like "liberal", "ring-wing", or "main stream media", "maverick" is becoming a hollow term used as verbal filler to pad around cliches and talking points in politicians and political pundits monologues.

What do McCain and Palin mean when they call themselves "mavericks"? That they do whatever the hell they want, facts and common sense be damned? They do a bad job of defining what a "maverick" is and why I should consider this an honorable quality when deciding who should be the next President of the United States.

And isn't it a little weird that McCain and Palin keep referring to themselves as "mavericks"? Isn't that something they should leave up to others to do for them? All this self-referential talk about being "mavericks" is beginning to sound like they are speaking in the third person about themselves. That's kinda creepy.

With any luck, this "maverick" crap will end with the election - regardless of who wins - and I can work on re-establishing the word "maverick" with it's true meaning.

The original - and best - Maverick