May 31, 2009

Toy Story 3

You often hear the Toy Story films referred to as the Godfather movies of animation.

Like the Godfather films, the first Toy Story was superb and the second Toy Story was better than the first.

Will the comparisons hold up when Toy Story 3 hits screen next summer?


Considering Pixar's track record for producing quality animated films with a strong focus on storytelling, i don't think so. While Godfather 3 failed to come anywhere close to capturing the power and drama of the first two Godfather films, I expect Toy Story 3 to be just as enjoyable as the proceeding films.

May 28, 2009

Always Support the Home Team

I know Lebron and the Cleveland Cavs are having a rough go at it against the Orlando Magic, but the one game the Cavs have won so far in the best of seven series (they're playing game five right now) came with another superhuman finish from Lebron.

I absolutely love this clip from a Cleveland news station that was not carrying the Cavs-Magic game where Lebron sank an impossible three-point buzzer beater, but obviously had the game on a monitor just out of view of the cameras.


I particularly enjoyed the guy dancing in the background.

iPhone Art

This is cool.

Artist Jorge Colombo produces some amazing looking art using just his iPhone.

jorge colombo iphone art

Problems I Wish the U.S. Had

Maybe everyone is too stoned to commit crimes?
Netherlands to close prisons for lack of criminals

The Dutch justice ministry has announced it will close eight prisons and cut 1,200 jobs in the prison system. A decline in crime has left many cells empty.

During the 1990s the Netherlands faced a shortage of prison cells, but a decline in crime has since led to overcapacity in the prison system. The country now has capacity for 14,000 prisoners but only 12,000 detainees.

Deputy justice minister Nebahat Albayrak announced on Tuesday that eight prisons will be closed, resulting in the loss of 1,200 jobs. Natural redundancy and other measures should prevent any forced lay-offs, the minister said.

The overcapacity is a result of the declining crime rate, which the ministry's research department expects to continue for some time.

May 27, 2009

Resign Already

Rod and Roland sitting in a tree  . . . The news that there are wiretaps revealing Roland Burris talked with former Governor Rod Blagojevich's brother about how to raise money for Rod without it looking like he was buying his way into the vacant Illinois Senate seat doesn't surprise me.

If anything, it strengthens my perception of Roland Burris as a insignificant little man who desperately wanted to be someone special and important.

If not already there, Burris is on his way to becoming as large of a joke in Illinois as Rod Blagojevich. What could clinch it is if Burris decides to move ahead with a re-election campaign.

Green Lantern - The (Fake) Movie

Somebody spent a lot of time to make Nathan Fillion the star of an imaginary Green Lantern film


I think Fillion is a great actor, but I don't know if grabs me as the Hal Jordan type.

May 26, 2009

5 Things I Think

  • I think It’s peculiar that it only takes one additional day off added to the regular two-day weekend – in this case the three days off for Memorial Day weekend – for me to completely become comfortable with the idea of not having to go into work anymore.

    I knew I only had three days off, but I was still sulking around Monday night because I had to back to work the next day.

    At least it’s a short week.

  • I don’t like the Chicago Blackhawks chances in this series. I would be shocked – shocked – if the series returned to Chicago. I expect the Red Wings to finished things off Wednesday night.

  • Wolfram | Alpha – this site is so many ways awesome, I can hardly believe it.

    And it is the perfect foil to Fact Unchecked

  • I don’t get to watch 30 Rock nearly as much as I would like, but I have seen it enough to be able to laugh out loud while reading through everything Tracy Morgan’s character said during the show’s third season.

  • I think I’ve found a hero I can look up to – Stephen Pastis. He is the person I want to be.
  • May 24, 2009

    Funny Things My Wife Says To Me

    This morning:

    Heather: I had some strange dreams last night.

    Me; Really?

    Heather: Yeah, in one dream I was kissing Roger Moore. But don't worry, nothing else happened.

    Like I can compete with James Bond!

    May 22, 2009

    Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

    I am loving the work Warner Brother Animation has been doing with DC Comics characters.

    Last summer's Batman: Gotham Knights was great, the Wonder Woman film that was released earlier this year looks fantastic and is still high on my list of most wanted DVDs, and I'm anxious to get a closer look at Green Lantern: First Flight when it drops this summer.

    This fall another animated film will be released - Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

    I own the comics that Public Enemies is based on, so I know the story already. But it's a story that I think would make a great animated action flick.

    The trailer - which has been yanked from US websites and can only be found on Russian sites right now - sure appears to supporting that belief.


    I want to own this.

    I Don't Think I like 'Turgs' Either

    The word "moist" showed up in today's Monty and it wasn't used in a flattering way.

    Monty

    More evidence that I am in the right in thinking "moist" is a horrible, horrible sounding word.

    May 21, 2009

    Fearing the Unknown

    I found this Opinion piece in the New York Times by Daniel Gilbert interesting. Using the results of a few different studies, Gilbert points out that what makes people nervous/depressed/less happy isn't knowing that something bad is going to happen to them, but rather not knowing when those bad things are going to happen.
    That’s because people feel worse when something bad might occur than when something bad will occur. Most of us aren’t losing sleep and sucking down Marlboros because the Dow is going to fall another thousand points, but because we don’t know whether it will fall or not — and human beings find uncertainty more painful than the things they’re uncertain about.
    Gilbert's point is one that I think most of us know in our gut, but rarely acknowledge. That if we understood and embraced the notion that we cannot sit in fear of what might happen, but rather worry only about what we know will happen; then overall life would be much better for us.

    That being said, I think just not worrying about what might happen is easier said then done. Human nature is to fear the unknown. But I also understand how fearing all the uncertainties in life can end up crippling a person from living. It's obviously a constant struggle that we have to deal with on a daily basis.

    Strange as it may sound, I found help from Gilbert's essay in understanding my own concerns - particularly when he discusses the different experiments used to understand the role known or unknown events can have on a person's happiness and well-being.

    Seeing how fear manifests itself and affects a person through a control experiment makes me feel like I can take those observations and apply them to my own situations. Maybe that will work, maybe it won't. But I do know that knowing why I might be concerned about something gives me advantage of overcoming that concern.

    May 20, 2009

    I'm Not the Only One

    A few months back I remember getting side-tracked in a meeting at work talking about how much I hated the word "moist."

    Blaah!

    Moist is how you describe the space in-between the folds of belly fat on a obese guy sitting in the sun on a 90-degree day.

    Ugh!

    The guys I was talking with found a good laugh in my vehement denunciation of the word's existence and continued usage, but nobody would join or admit to the same sort of repulsion to the word.

    But now I've learned (via an essay by Ben Zimmer of the Visual Thesaurus) that there are others out there like me. In fact, there is even a Facebook group for "Moist" haters - "I HATE the word Moist!".
    Many people feel quite strongly about moist — there's even a Facebook group called called "I HATE the word MOIST!" with more than 300 members. One Facebooker calls moist "possibly the worst word in the English dictionary," while another says, "I despise the sick, repugnant word!" It's hard to top the aversion felt for moist, but some other Visual Thesaurus "least favorites" can provoke similar reactions: panty/panties, vomit, ointment, and slacks.

    It's difficult to find any unifying thread for these words that get people's goat. But much like the enjoyable words on the "favorites" list like serendipity and mellifluous, there's a certain sound/sense combination that sparks these word aversions. Why does moist merit a Facebook group of haters, while hoist and joist go unnnoticed? It's more than just the sound of the word: the disliked words tend to have some basic level of ickiness. As I told the Albany Times Union, this ickiness can have to do with slimy stuff, bodily discharge, or other things that people would prefer not to think about. Icky words include nostril, crud, pus, and pimple. Ointment and goiter share the "oi" sound with moist: there must be something about that diphthong that gets under people's skin.
    So I'm not alone in my hatred of the word. Maybe I'll search out the Facebook group and join up.

    And I have to admit, the word "ointment" is sorta creepy sounding too.

    Pirates and Presidents

    I really would like to know the story around this photo.

    President Obama and a pirate

    May 19, 2009

    5 Things I Think

  • With all due respect to my wife, who is a fabulous cook, I think my brother-in-law makes the best baked beans I’ve tasted.

    Dude’s got a lousy taste in baseball teams, but he knows how to add some great taste to a plain ole can of beans.

  • What do you think Bing Crosby ice cream tasted like?

    Bing Crosby ice cream box
    I’m guessing vanilla.

    Smooth and simple, and he works with just about anything.

  • I read artist Robert Ullman’s Atomic Bomb Bikini blog regularly. Every year he picks the Stanley Cup playoff games with accompanying illustrations, but I never check to see how accurate his predictions are.

    None the less, I think I’m going to find solace in his breakdown of the Blackhawks – Red Wings match-up while watching Game 2 tonight. Not just because of his shared dislike for the Red Wings, but because of the great illustration he did.

    Blackhawks over Red Wings

  • Considering that I was born in 1972, I found a lot to relate to in Raph Koster’s post arguing that being born in 1971 was the perfect time to be born a geek.

    An excerpt:
    # I got to high school when PCs were becoming ubiquitous.

    # I got to college when Macs were on Apple campuses, and actually useful.

    # And when you had no choice but to use libraries for research, so I actually learned what real research is.

    # And I was too young to feel cynical about Dead Poets Society.

    # I got onto the Internet after it was tiny, but before it was mass market. So I got to see and use most of the tools and software that were key to its evolution, as they were used, then replaced, then discarded. Pine, gopher, Usenet, Mozilla…

  • I think this is the ugliest ad I have ever seen on a web page.

    ugliest web ad ever
    (Shudder)

    That’s just creepy – and I don’t think "creepy" was what their marketing team was going for.
  • May 18, 2009

    Glimpse of the Future

    Will this be Ian and I in 20 years?
    BEDFORD, Ohio – An Ohio man who argued with his grown son over a messy bedroom said he overreacted when he called 911. Andrew Mizsak called authorities Thursday after his 28-year-old son — who's a school board member in the Cleveland suburb of Bedford — threw a plate of food across the kitchen table and made a fist at him when told to clean his room.

    The son, also named Andrew, lives in a room in his parents' basement.

    The father declined to press charges and told police he doesn't want to ruin his son's political career.

    The son, who also works as a political consultant, said he's lucky to be living in the house rent free. He also promises to keep his room clean.
    Probably not. I always follow through on my threats. Ian would have ended up spending the night in the clink if he threw a plate of food at me.

    (And for the record let it be known that I didn't go for the obvious impact legal prosecution for throwing plates of food over arguments concerning dirty bedrooms has on the political aspirations of a grown man living in his parent's basement joke.)

    What You Should Be Watching

    I first encounter Myrna Loy through the movies that made her a household name - The Thin Man series. As Nora Charles her quick wit and cool demeanor was the perfect match to William Powell's impeccably suave Nick Charles.

    I've since enjoyed her in performances along side Cary Grant in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer and Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.

    Myrna Loy on TCM
    This evening Turner Classic Movies is featuring some of the Myrna Loy's films in their prime time programming. There aren't any Thin Man films, but the ones that have been selected look great. I'm particularly interested in When Ladies Meet, a romantic comedy starring Loy, Robert Montgomery, and Frank Morgan, and Too Hot to Handle, where Loy teams up with Clark Gable in the Amazon jungle.

    May 16, 2009

    My Only Comment on Drew Peterson

    I’ve been avoiding the media circus surrounding Drew Peterson for the last 10 months or so. The story is tragic, but I find the coverage of the story and Peterson’s over-blown personality a disgusting thing to behold. So I don’t read the stories and I turn the TV channels when I start to encounter anything related to Peterson. But on the night he was arrested a few weeks back on charges that he had murdered his third wife, Kathleen Savio, I accidentally stumbled through CNN while trying to find the Versus network to watch the Blackhawks (Versus is a hard station to find) and CNN was talking about Drew Peterson.

    Drew’s lawyer was on the phone being interviewed by Larry King. I lingered only for a moment, just long enough to learn two things – one, that Peterson had been arrested; and two, that anyone associated with Peterson’s defense or PR should also be put on trial.

    Peterson’s lawyer was wondering aloud on whether or not twelve adults could be found in northern Illinois to serve on an impartial jury. Considering how the local media had covered and portrayed Peterson on TV and in print, Peterson’s attorney argued, he believed it would be difficult locating people who hadn’t already formed an opinion on Peterson’s innocence or guilt. Maybe, he suggested, a jury would have to be imported from down state or somewhere else to serve on the trial.

    What?

    While I won’t excuse the news outlets from over-exposing this story, they could have showed more self-restraint in feeding Peterson’s narcissistic personality, they are not the only one to blame in this situation. Peterson could have refused the interviews or kept to himself. His lawyer could have told him to shut his mouth and keep a lower profile. His PR firm could have been fired. Instead Peterson’s been whoring himself out to every news program, talk show, and sensationalist producer that was willing to slap Peterson’s face on screen. His over-exposure and portrayal within the media is as much his creation as the medium.

    Hopefully there aren’t any expensive motions for change of venue or extraordinary measures taken for building an impartial jury. If there is then it will be because Peterson couldn’t keep his mouth shut or his face out of a camera for the last year. Which means his defense and PR team should be required to foot the bill, not Illinois tax payers.

    And that’s all I’m going to say on the subject. This is my first and last post on Drew Peterson. It bothers me that I’ve even given him this much of my time.

    May 15, 2009

    Hey! I Know That Guy

    I was reading through Chicagoist and saw a post about a young child being left in a car that was towed. Chicagoist ran an excerpt from the AP story and I recognized a name in it.

    Luckily it wasn't the parent's who left their kid in their car. Rather it was the police spokesman, Daniel O'Brien. He's my cousin.
    CHICAGO (AP) -- A Chicago mother who left her two-year-old son in a car and a tow truck driver who towed the vehicle away have been arrested.

    Police Spokesman Daniel O'Brien says 36-year-old Felicia Nwankwo and Alsip resident Naji Zaareir have been charged with endangering the health and welfare of a child. He says Nwankwo parked the car in a laundromat lot Monday and left the boy in the backseat while she got food at a restaurant across the street.
    This news mention of my cousin got me to thinking. I know he's in the Chicago police news affairs department. I wonder how many other stories he's gotten mentioned in that I missed.

    So I searched Google. Looks like he's getting a fair amount of print space for himself as a police spokesman.

    That's it. Just thought it was cool running across my cousin like that.

    Sacre Bleu!

    The joke in today’s Sheldon isn’t particularly funny. In fact it’s pretty lame.

    But I loves me some fake – bad – French accents played for laughs and I am old enough to remember some of the Jacques Cousteau TV specials that today’s strip pulls some of its inspiration from.


    And that's what made me laugh today.

    Bring On The Red Wings

    The Detroit Red Wings scored in the final minutes last night to beat the Anaheim Ducks and take Game 7 in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.

    So now the Chicago Blackhawks know they have to get past the Detroit Red Wings in order to play for Lord Stanley's Mug.

    NHL Western Conference Finals Schedule

    While playing the Ducks might have made the road to the Stanley Cup Finals a bit easier for the Blackhawks (I think they were 3-1 against the Ducks in the regular season), I will be so much more satisfying if the 'Hawks can outlast the hated Red Wings to earn their first trip to the Finals since 1992.

    I can't wait to watch and see what the 'Hawks can do.

    May 14, 2009

    Ugh

    It's not enough that we've polluted and cluttered most of the planet, apparently we have clogged the space around the planet as well.
    computer generated image showing objects floating around the Earth
    This computer generated image, supplied by NASA, shows objects that are currently being tracked in Earth orbit. Approximately 95% of the objects in this illustration are orbital debris, i.e., not functional satellites. The dots represent each item. The orbital debris dots are scaled according to the image size of the graphic to optimize their visibility and are not scaled to Earth. This image provide a good visualization of where the greatest orbital debris populations exist. The space shuttle Atlantis is flying at about 350 miles above Earth, an area littered with more dangerous space junk than the lower orbits where shuttles normally park at the international space station.
    (AP Photo/NASA)

    Even if aliens were trying to contact us, would they be able to penetrate the junk we surrounded ourselves with?

    May 12, 2009

    God Bless the Japanese

    All the American and Canadian comedians working round the clock for a week couldn't accidentally produce something like this.

    5 Things I Think

  • I like the advent of self check-out in stores and self check-in at airports. The more ways I get to stay in control of what I need to do, the better.

    The problem is that now I have to deal with individual people’s stupidity.

    A company can always overcome stupidity behind the counter be changing its training or hiring practices.

    There’s nothing that can be done about the slow minded yahoos who are afraid of technology yet still choose to lumber through the painfully simple touch screen display of a CVS check-out station.

    And I think there are others who would agree with me on this.

  • I think one of the great joys of life is listening to the soloist sing the National Anthem before a Chicago Blackhawks game.

    Even on TV it’s a great experience.

  • I’ve only seen her in Waitress and Bedtime Stories, but I think I have a crush on Keri Russell.

    Kerri Russell

  • Is Lebron James better than Michael Jordan? That's what I find myself thinking about while watching highlights from the Cleveland Cavaliers' run through the playoffs this spring.

    I haven't heard or seen any of the sports media talking heads broach this subject, but I have to think that with a little time – and maybe a championship or two – that talk should rise to the surface.

    Maybe it already has and I'm just not aware of it or maybe in general discussion has moved beyond who will be the next "Michael Jordan" to "who will be the next dominate player in the NBA."

  • Pepsi Throwback When the Chicago Tribune put the Pepsi-Cola Throwback into a taste test against regular Pepsi-Cola (I know this is the sort of hard-hitting journalism that will keep the newspapers relevant for another 100 years), one of the comments related to Pepsi Throwback was, "Now this tastes the way Pepsi should."

    Their reaction to the regular Pepsi-Cola was, "Too syrupy."

    I've avoided Pepsi-Cola for years because I thought it was too syrupy tasting. I think I'd like to give this Pepsi Throwback a try while it's in stores.
  • May 10, 2009

    Happy Mother's Day

    Growing up in the 80's, there was one thing I learned quickly: always do what Mr. T tells you to do.

    That's why I always try to treat my mother right.


    Happy Mother's Day Mom.

    And God bless Mr. T.

    May 06, 2009

    1000 Times No

    Mr. Warburton, the creator of Code Name: Kids Next Door, has written his first childrens book - 1000 Times No.

    To promote the release of the book, he created a short animated piece that is very entertaining.

    May 05, 2009

    5 Things I Think

  • I think it’s unbelievably cheap for an upscale hotel to charge people staying at their hotel for internet access. Yet that is exactly what I am forced to do in Atlanta.

    I'm attending an email conference for the third year in a row, and this time I finally decided to stay at the hotel associated with the conference center. The hotel is a posh-posh resort run by Marriott. They charge $16 for 24 hours of internet access. The hotel I stayed at the last two years – which was five minute drive away – gave me Wi-Fi Internet access for free and was nearly hundred dollars cheaper per night.

    This is last time I stay at this resort.

  • I think pencils by José Luis García-López are a thing of beauty.

    José Luis García-López for Metal Men comic[via]

  • I want me some Ho-Ho Fruit Kabobs

    Ho-Ho Fruit Kabobs

  • A glass-bottom Skydeck on the Sears Tower is one of the best ideas for improving Chicago that I’ve heard in a long time.

    glass-bottom Skydeck
    I can't wait for this to open and get Ian, Emma, and Zoe up there. It will be a blast.

  • I think Juanmanuel’s art is wonderful.

    Juanmanuel artwork
    Check out his blog.
  • May 04, 2009

    New Favorite Band - I Fight Dragons

    The Chicagoist regularly showcases bands based in Chicago that they believe are deserving of more attention. For a while I made an effort to always check out the new music recommendations. However, after a string of recommended bands that really didn’t excite me too much, I stopped paying attention to the Chicagoist’s music posts.

    Then along came I Fight Dragons. The picture of the band was what first caught my attention – all 6 members of the band are in t-shirts with logos of DC Comics super heroes. I am a sucker for anything DC super hero related, I stuck around to read the full Chicagoist write-up.

    I Fight Dargons
    What I learned is that the band labels themself as "Chicago's finest (and quite possibly only) NES-Rock band." Interestingly, this self-imposed label is what has kept the Chicagoist music critics away from the band. With a title like NES-rock, the expectation was for a bunch of nerdy techno-rock with a lot of video game references. But then Chicagoist listened to the band’s debut EP and was impressed by what they heard. Based on their review of the band I decided to do the same.

    If you sign up for the band's email list, you get the band's EP, Cool Is Just A Number, for free. (Which I did) If you fire up that EP, you enjoy listening to 5 finely crafted power pop songs. (Which I also did)

    I Fight Dragons - Cool Is Just A Number EPAfter one run through the album I was hooked on the band. No cheesy lyrics or geekfest music to be found; just bright, fun power pop delivered with passion. Plus, they work in some piano on a few of their songs – I love that. I Fight Dragons turns out music that you can listen to anytime, regardless of your mood, and come out the other side feeling good.

    The claim of being a NES-rock band comes from the group's use of sounds and music from old NES video games (or close facsimiles) in their music. The use of the NES sounds can add some levity and novelty to the music, but overall I think it provides a distraction to the songs.

    The band has written some fantastic power pop with killer hooks. They don't need the NES gimmicks – their music could stand on its own straight up.

    Give I Fight Dragons a try, I think you'll like it.