March 31, 2009

5 Things I Think

  • I like this little throw-away story on CNN only for one sentence, "Obama aides have said the president likes the Bush rug, and does not plan to replace it."

    Obama likes the Bush rug.

    Not only does that phrase just sound funny, but it also leads me to imagine W. being bald. He left one of his toupees in the White House when he moved out, and now Obama has taken a fancy to it and likes to parade around the Oval Office wearing it while he’s driving the deficit into the stratosphere.

  • I never thought there was anything particularly unique or rare about my name, but I’ve also never come across anyone with the same name.

    Until today, that is (well sorta).

    While checking up on how well my Dad's campaign website is indexing on the different search engine websites, I stumbled upon this story that mentions someone with a name about as close to 'Brendan McKillip' as you can get.

    Another quick search brought me to the Davidson College Athletics website and the bio for Brendan McKillop.


    And he wears #1.


    But then it get's better. Brendan's dad, Bob McKillop, is the head coach for the team, and Brendan's older brother, Matt McKillop, is an assistant coach. It was then that I remembered Davidson's appearance in the NCAA tournament a few years back. Back then it was Matt's last name that caught my attention

  • The Batcave Companion You'd think (and I know Heather does) that at some point there would be enough Batman books that I needed to own – but you would be wrong.

    Saw the announcement last week that The Batcave Companion, another book looking at comic book history by TwoMorrows publishing, would be hitting book shelves this spring.

    Two reasons I’d enjoying owning this: 1) TwoMorrows always does a bang-up job with the comic history books. Top notch stuff all around. 2) The book focuses on the "period of Batman’s history from the 1964 'New Look' through the 1970s era of Ra's al Guhl, Silver St. Cloud and more." That's a part of Batman’s publishing history I find particularly fascinating.

  • Medieval Times might be incredibly campy and cheesy, but I still think it’s great. Especially when an announcement that my Dad wants to treat me, my brother and sister, all associated spouses, and all grandchildren to an evening feasting and jousting generates the same response from both my 36-year old wife and my 9-year old son: "Sweet!"

  • I think the more films I see starring William Holden the more I appreciate the actor.

    This weekend I saw most of the original Sabrina starring Holden, Humphrey Bogart, and Audrey Hepburn and this morning before leaving for work I caught 15 minutes of him in Union Station, a film released the same year as Sunset Blvd. and Born Yesterday - also starring Holden

    He could play such different characters so convincingly. He really was an amazingly talented actor.
  • March 30, 2009

    Crystal Head Vodka

    I can't tell if Dan Aykroyd is crazy or a fantastic huckster.

    And make sure you check out the Crystal Head Vodka website

    March 29, 2009

    I've Been Given an Assigment

    While helping my oldest daughter, Emma, with her bath this evening, she presented me with a problem to solve.

    Or maybe it's a riddle.

    EmmaI haven't quite figured that part out yet.

    "Dad," she instructed, "I'm going to ask you a question and I don't want you to answer it now. I want you to wait and think about it."

    I've learned that when you 5 and 6-year old daughters start delivering orders, it's best to sit and listen attentively. No use trying to fight it. They have instructions that they are intent on presenting, and no force on earth will stop them in their mission.

    I sat back and listened attentively.

    "Before dinner on Thursday", she continued, "I want you to write your answer down on a slip of paper and hand it to me. That's when I will tell you if you are right or wrong."

    "Are you ready?"

    My mind scrambled as I tried to anticipate what sort of question a 6-year old girl would pose to their father that they would want him to take four days to figure out the answer to.

    Was she going to ask for a pony for her birthday? Was she going to suggest selling her sister so we would have enough money to buy a pony for her birthday? Was she going to ask me about Santa Claus?

    But these guesses, and many others, were wrong.

    My assignment:

    "Can you dry out water?"

    Seems straight-forward enough, but judging from the gleam in her little eyes I suspect she's plotting a twist to the answer this Thursday.

    So now I have to figure out how I'm going to play her game.

    March 28, 2009

    Country. Why'd it Have to be Country?

    I love my wife. Love her bunches.

    I love her enough that I’m not bothered by her conservative political views or misplaced devotion to reality TV programs.

    Heather Stang McKillipI’ve learned to take in stride her rabid support for the Ohio State Buckeyes and her unique organization habits.

    I can even overlook that she mispronounces the work “insurance” and “strawberry” (She puts the emPHASis on the wrong sylLABle)

    But recently she has taken up an activity that I’m not sure if our love can overcome.
    She has declared herself a county music fan.

    Now, there isn’t anything wrong with country music. All forms of music are art and certainly can be appreciated. However, I have yet to be able to comprehend how anyone can listen to more than two country music songs in a row and not go a little batty in the brain. All those twangy voices and steel guitars, it gets to be so, so . . . country after a while. And every song is a little story about how a guy met a girl, or woman killed her husband, or something cute and wacky that kids say.


    US 99 Chicago Country RadioAgain, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with country music. After all, country music does have the highest per capita number of attractive female singers of any music genre. But unfortunately there are no pictures on radio. So I’m still left with the music. Is it me, or is tuning into a country music radio station feel like listening to a series of Ford Truck commercials being played back to back to back.

    And now Heather is becoming a fan. The radio in our van is being left on US-99, Chicago’s (only) country music radio station. The stereo in the family room is set to US-99. She’s even using the last of an iTunes gift card she received lately to bolster up her country music collection.

    Obviously I can’t change her, but right now I don’t know how I will live with a country music spinning wife. This could be the biggest challenge to our marriage since the 2006 Fiesta Bowl.

    March 27, 2009

    Hookah King

    Something about the last panel of today's Pearl Before Swine struck me as particularly funny.

    3.27.00 Pearls Before Swine
    I don't like to deconstruct or over-analyze humor, but I think in this case it all came down to perfect timing on Stephan Pastis' part. He balances the pacing of the three panel comic strip perfectly - dialogue, characters, scenery - to deliver a great joke.

    I wish more comic strip creators had some of Pastis' skill.

    March 25, 2009

    5 Things I Think

  • hmmmm . . . red potatoes Is it possible to have a favorite kind of potato? I think it is.

    Red potatoes, quartered up, boiled, and then served with lots of melted butter and a touch of salt & pepper. It’s like candy. I could eat them with every meal.
    Considering the size of the bag of reds Heather brought home the other day, eating them for every meal might be the case for a while.

  • I think the dude who clears his throat 20 times over the span of 20 minutes and never once grabs for a cup of water or lozenge is a menace to society

  • I always enjoy a Bears-Packers game and over the last few seasons the Bears’ nationally televised night games have been pretty exciting, so I’m really liking the announcement that the Bears will open the 2009 season September 13th at Lambeau Field on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

    As for how the rest of the season goes? I don’t care right now. But at least I have that first game to look forward to.

  • Steamboat Willy I think I’m actually looking forward to driving to Florida with the wife and kids. This summer, to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary, Heather parents are taking all of their kids, kids-in-law, and grandchildren on a 5-day/4-night Disney Cruise. (generous, I know)

    Heather and I have foregone flying from Chicago to Florida because of the cost of the airline tickets. Even with prices coming down, it would still be very expensive for all five us to fly.

    So we’re driving. Google Maps says the trip 18 hours of driving. While I know it will probably become unbearably frustrating at times to be trapped inside our van with four other people, I think overall driving will be sort of exciting. It will be an opportunity to see a bunch of stuff that we don’t normally see and to hopefully be concerned less with the destination and more about enjoying the journey.

    Then again, maybe you should check back with my in August, after all this has happened.

  • I think Warner Brothers decision to make films from their archives available to order is genius. WB has probably the largest film collection of any studio, considering that they also own the rights to MGM’s and RKO’s pictures. And even the most obscure RKO picture from the 1930’s is probably a few people’s favorite. Instead of having to spend money to work up a product, fight for shelf space, and manage inventory, WB can just print one or two copies of something like The Ice Follies of 1939 whenever someone wants to buy a copy.

    Warner Brothers does have all their titles available yet, but is always growing.
  • March 24, 2009

    Tribute to Chuck Jones

    I just might manage to convince the kids to watch the Turner Classic Movies channel with me tonight.
    Chuck Jones honored on TCM
    TCM is honoring legendary animator/director Chuck Jones by programming a night of his most famous and noteworthy animated shorts.

    Of all the animators who helped shape and bring Warner Brother's Looney Tunes to life, Fritz Freleng was probably my favorite. But I can’t deny the creative power and striking visual style that Chuck Jones brought to his work. I think his designs were particularly well suited for the Coyote/Road Runners shorts, or more esoteric pieces like "Duck Amuck".

    I’ll enjoy sitting down and watching these with the kids tonight.

    March 20, 2009

    This Is Why You're Fat

    I first stumbled upon This Is Why You're Fat, a blog dedicated to crazy food combinations, a few months back and meant to write about it but never did. When it popped up again on Boing Boing and I saw some of the new additions I knew I had to make a mention here.

    I could spend hours contemplating the sometimes grotesque but always interesting food combinations people put together for their own consumption.

    This isn't scientific, but it looks like about 90% of the new edible concoctions involve some form of meat (usually pork) and about 25% involve deep frying something.

    One of the more ingenious additions to the site was the Meat Cake.

    Meat Cake
    Meatloaf with potatoes and ketchup for icing.


    March 19, 2009

    Oh, Illini

    Every year I have such high hopes for them. And every year they let me down.

    Illini suffer another first-round exit at the Big Dance
    Western Kentucky 76 Illinois 72

    March 18, 2009

    Adam Waddell Are You Okay?

    Just a little reminder that the NCAA tournament begins tomorrow. It's always an exciting time at our house. Heather and I do our own brackets to compete against each other and do our best to watch every game.

    For as much fun as the first four days of the NCAA tournament is, I doubt there will be a moment like what happened last night in the NIT.

    That's fantastic.

    Coolest Animal Ever

    The Lightsaber-Toothed Tiger

    Dude, the cat's got lightsabers for teeth

    Honor the beast. Buy the shirt.

    March 17, 2009

    Happy St. Patrick's Day

    In the past I posted pictures of Guinness or video of Muppets singing Danny Boy.

    This year I highlight a recently discovered blog for Irish comics artists called "Eclectic Micks".

    They've hardly been at it a month, so there isn't a whole lot to look at yet. Hopefully they will keep with it. From what little samples I've seen, a few of the artists I really like. One of artists I like in particular is Declan Shalvey, who happens to share the same first name as my nephew.

    Here's is Declan's rendition of Father Jack from Father Ted, a popular comedy TV series out of Ireland.

    Father Jack by Declan Shalvey
    Happy St. Patrick's Day.

    March 16, 2009

    5 Things I Think

  • In the weeks since Warner Brothers Animation and DC Comics released the Wonder Woman animated movie on DVD, there’s been news of Green Lantern: First Flight being released this summer and now Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is scheduled to drop this fall.

    I love seeing these quality direct-to-DVD animated movies from DC comics, but this rash of new releases has got me thinking. When Warner Brothers Animation announced this deal back 2006, one of the three original projects was Teen Titans: The Judas Contract.

    The other two project were produced (Superman/Doomsday and The Final Frontier), but still no Judas Contract.

    The Judas Contract is one of the all-time great DC Comics stories. What happened to that project?

  • If you are at all interested in the fate of the newspaper industry in an increasing digital world (I find it fascinating), then you should read what Clay Shirky had to say in a recent post.

    It looks like everyone is reading/linking/sharing it, and for good reason – he makes some interesting and insightful observations. We are in the middle of a media delivery revolution on scale with the invention of the movable type printing press and no one really knows how this digital revolution will ultimately impact the newspapers.

  • I think for all the talk last summer about how mainstream movie audiences are finally accepting of comic book inspired films with depth and maturity (i.e. The Dark Knight), ultimately the mainstream movie audience still doesn’t know what it is that they’ve accepted.

    How else do you explain the need for Chicago Tribune movie critic Michael Phillips to write a commentary arguing why parents shouldn’t take their children to see the Watchmen.

    Just because a movie has a guy dressed up in a goofy custom swinging from buildings doesn’t mean it’s exactly kid-friendly.

  • I think Burger King’s new “Whopper Bar” could just be crazy enough to work.

    The Whopper Bar

  • I feel sorta bad for Ian and Emma. Just as they’ve started talking about saving up their own money to buy their own iPods, Apple goes and releases a new version of the iPod Shuffle that I think is horrible for younger kids.

    It’s so small that I think young kids will easily lose it, plus the controls are now contained in a tiny little touch bar on the headphone cord. Instead of the uber-intuitive touch-wheel, Shuffle users have to adapt to the morse code-like tappings to control the music.

    Plus, Apple dropped all the cool colors that the second generation iPod Shuffle came in. Those colors were one of the things that Ian and Emma thought were do great about the Shuffle.
  • March 15, 2009

    No Particular Reason

    I just thought this was funny.

    March 13, 2009

    Ladrönn's Commissoner Jim Gordon

    Mexican artist Ladrönn is contributing cover art to some of the one-shots the DC is publishing surrounding the next Batman story event "Battle for the Cowl."

    I'm a fan of Ladrönn's work, particularly the work he's done on the Hip Flask series.

    I think his cover for Batman: Battle for the Cowl - Commissioner Gordon is fantastic. It captures much of what I love about the character of Jim Gordon just in body language - tough, determined, principled, uncompromising.

    Ladron's cover art for Batman: Battle for the Cowl - Commissioner Gordon

    March 12, 2009

    This Is Fun

    Iron Man Armored Popper game

    It's the Iron Man Armored Popper game.

    And it's a great way to waste time.

    Good Luck With That

    Chicago Sears TowerFrom today's Chicago Tribune:
    Sears Tower will change its name to Willis Tower this summer, under the terms of a lease signed by global insurance broker Willis Group Holdings.

    Willis Group plans to consolidate five area offices and move nearly 500 associates into Willis Tower, at 233 S. Wacker Drive, initially occupying more than 140,000 square feet on multiple floors.

    London-based Willis said that its move to the new space, at $14.50 per square foot, will reduce its real estate costs significantly and that there is no additional cost associated with renaming the building.
    If the past few years have taught me anything, I've learned that Chicagoans don't like outsiders coming in a renaming their cultural landmarks.

    Of course everyone in Chicago will continue to refer to the building as "Sears Tower", we've been doing that for over thirty years. If the name ever switches within the public consciousness, it will probably take another thirty years to work it's way in - maybe longer.

    Consider this. There are streets in Chicago that received new names when my Dad was a kid, but to this day my Grandparents still refer to those streets by their original name. My Dad knows to do the conversion in his head, but that doesn't happen for me. I only know the new name. If the name change sticks for the Sears Tower, it will probably follow a use progression similar to that. I will forever call it Sears Tower, Ian (my son) will learn both names, and his kids (shudder) might only know it as Willis Tower.

    Then again, at least when the street names were changing it was by Chicagoans and usually to a name to honor a Chicagoan. Willis Tower will be named after a London-based insurance broker. So the building could go on as Sears Tower forever.

    (I'd like it noted that I avoided the obvious, "What you talkin' 'bout Willis" jokes that this story inspires)

    March 11, 2009

    Open Letter to My Mom


    I know my kids love you and you love my kids.

    That makes me happy.

    It also makes me happy to know that you want to share your love of music with them.

    I think that's great.

    But if you ever take them to a music program again where they are handing out cheap plastic kazoos for the kids to bring home, I may have to disown you.

    Your Son

    March 10, 2009

    Perils of Time Travel

    If, for a moment, we accept it as true, then today’s Wondermark makes dealing with the people hanging around the train station asking for money so they can get back home a lot more interesting.

    03.10.09 Wondermark

    March 09, 2009

    5 Things I Think

  • Even though Heather and I have never owned a house with a flooring problem, we are now living in a perpetual state of fear flood waters every time more than an inch of rain falls.

    It wasn’t always this way. But after we spent a lot of time and money finishing our basement and around the same time our neighbors ended up with a few inches of water in their basement last spring, Heather and I have become paranoid of water in our basement.

    Now we are downstairs every thirty minutes on rainy days to make sure we are hearing the sump pump running.

    I think she and I need to figure out what additional measures we can take in the basement to put our minds at ease. We’re both tired of stressing out every time it rains.

  • I think the best thing Amazon has done so far to try and drive up the adoption of the Kindle was to make a version of the Kindle software available for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch.

    People don’t want more devices; they want their one device to do more.
    Both the Kindle and the iPhone hit the marketplace in 2007. Using the very limited (and totally unscientific) sampling of the people I see on my train to and from downtown Chicago each day, iPhone users outpace Kindle users about 100 to 1.

  • Miller Lite is free to run any sort of promotion campaign they want to try and convince people to buy their brown-colored water. But I take exception to what they are pushing here in Chicago this spring:
    Miller Lite Chi-Irish logo
    I like the little Chi-Irish logo (if the Miller Lite logo was removed), but if you could see they add copy they are running with this logo (which I could not find an example of online) you’d laugh. Miller Lite tries to spin their beer as authentic Irish as shillelaghs and shamrocks. Which I almost find insulting, if I didn’t consider it so laughable.

  • I crumbled to the pressure and joined Facebook - and I really don’t know why. I think it was mainly so I could monitor what was going on with the Elect Judge Brian McKillip group that my brother started up to support my dad’s campaign.

    I’m building/managing his website so I’m trying to stay on top of his campaign’s online presence everywhere.

    For now being part of Facebook means I get one more space for my sister to make fun of me in public.

  • I still think moving the start of Daylight Savings Time to earlier in the year is silly.
  • March 06, 2009

    Watchmen Stuff

    For the most part I have been ignoring all the build up to the Watchmen movie release today. I've been quietly re-reading the book at home and waiting for the reviews to roll in.

    Don't know if it was done to capitalize on or mock the hype surrounding the opening of the Watchmen movie, but all week PVP has been doing a parody of the Watchmen called Ombudsmen using syndicated newspaper comic strip characters.

    I thought the concept was clever and well executed; especially how Scott Kurtz adapted the main storyline to fit his parody. His casting was also spot-on. It’s a funny read. Worth your time.

    snippet from PVP's Watchmen parody
    As for the film - the reviews for the film have been mixed. The Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips hated it. The Chicago Sun-Times’ Roger Ebert loved it. Everyone else seems to falling into one of those two camps.

    Personally, I am ambivalent to the movie. I love the book immensely. It’s one of my top five favorite comics and I’ve always shared Watchmen writer Alan Moore’s assertion that the book cannot be made into a movie. Plus, I was less than enthralled with Watchmen director Zack Synder’s uninspired film interpretation of Frank Miller’s 300.

    None the less, it would be interesting to see for myself how things turned out.

    March 05, 2009

    Public Enemies

    A film about about John Dillinger starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, directed by Michael Mann, and shot almost entirely here in Chicago.

    Oh yeah, I think that looks good.

    March 04, 2009

    Two Angry Camels in a Car

    Sometimes driving with my kids in the car feels like this:

    Constitution? What's That?

    I guess I was naive to believe that now that former President George W. Bush is out of office I won’ t have to hear about him anymore. Whether President Obama proves to be the right or wrong choice, at least the country was picking up and moving on from 8 years of W’s misguided governing.

    Apparently W’s follies are going to keep coming back to haunt us as information, documents, recordings, and other damning evidence of the depths of the Bush Administration’s reckless and possibly illegal activities come to light.

    Today’s it’s the release of memos written by Bush’s legal team to justify actions the White House wanted to take in their War on Terror. Looks like the Bush lawyers didn’t bother to read the Constitution before they started scribbling out their briefs.

    From a story about the released memos in today's Chicago Tribune:
    A March 2002 memo, for example, said holding prisoners in wartime "is an area in which the president appears to enjoy exclusive authority, as the power ... is not reserved by the Constitution in whole or in part to any other branch of government."

    Duke Law School professor Walter Dellinger said the Constitution gives Congress considerable power for making wartime rules. Article I says Congress has "all legislative powers," including the power "to declare war ... and make rules concerning captures on land and water" as well as "regulation of the land and naval forces."
    It’s probably a damn miracle we didn’t end up living in a police state back in 2002.

    March 03, 2009

    5 Things I Think

  • As much as I love winter and the cold weather, I think 20-degree temps and snow flurries at the beginning of March is pushing things a little too far.
    I’m ready for some 60-degree weather.

  • Sometimes I think our representative government isn't all it’s cracked up to be. Huge spending bills, gigantic increases in the Federal deficit, anti-foreclosure plans, and seemingly endless financial institution bailouts (I’m looking at you, A.I.G.) all makes me wish that the American public had the opportunity to vote on some of these things.

    Sure we vote people in and out if we don’t like how they are managing/governing, but that can take years. I'd like the immediacy of a direct vote on certain measures, even if from a logistical point of view that would be completely impractical.

  • I’m pretty sure that the idea of a Daddy-Daughter dance originated with a mom – not a dad. Regardless, I glad the idea stuck. Taking my first grade and pre-school aged daughters to a dance at their school was great fun. I didn't dance with them a whole lot. Mostly I manned the perimeter of the gym with the other dads while our daughters bounced off each other in the middle of the floor. Still, it was a great way to spend a Saturday night

  • Sure seems like there is always talk about high-prospect players coming to Chicago, only never to see those deals materialize. Currently the Chicago sports scene is buzzing about Jake Peavy or Kurt Schilling joining the Cubs, Jay Cutler as a possible quarterback for the Bears, and not too long ago Bulls fans were wondering if Amare Stoudemire would show up court side in a Chicago uniform. But in the end it all ends up as just talk, and the talent goes elsewhere.

    Makes me wonder if Chicago was ever seriously in the running for these players or if the stories and rumors are just the whipped up attempts at wish-fulfillment by the Chicago sports media.

  • I started re-reading Watchmen a couple weeks ago because A) I hadn't read it in about ten years and B) all the hype for the upcoming movie. I’m only a quarter of the way through, but already I am re-discovering how wonderfully multi-layered and textured this book is. The story, the dialogue, the art, the colors, the fake book excerpts - they all intertwine so beautifully to create a remarkable reading experience.

    The writer of Watchmen, Alan Moore, is correct – this book is un-filmable. What Zack Snyder is putting up on the screen this Friday could very well be excellent, but I can’t imagine how he can capture all of the nuances and themes that Moore explores in his 400 plus page comic book and makes wat the powerhouse of comic that it is.