December 31, 2009

Follow the Thin Man into the New Year

You could spend the evening watching cheesy pre-recorded concerts and lots of screaming drunks in New York City or be crammed into a crowded party setting the foundation for your first hangover of the new year.

I'd rather spend the evening with Nick and Nora on TCM.

December 30, 2009

My Son's Arsenal

This Christmas my father granted Ian his long-standing wish to own the Nerf Vulcan.

The toy is essentially a rapid-fire chain gun that uses Nerf darts for ammo. It fires 3 darts a second. Frankly, it's awesome.

After watching Ian lug this new weaponry around the house the last few days, when this comic popped up on Sheldon I had to laugh.

Of course, if Ian's going to be an Iron Man villain, that means I get to be Iron Man and should probably get myself one of these sets.

Happy Birthday Heather

Today is my wife's birthday. It will be the 19th time I have celebrated her birthday, and I still never acknowledge her age. I only remind her that though we were born in the same year, she will always be younger than me.

Go wish her a happy.

December 29, 2009

5 Things I Think

  • I’ve been thinking about this for four days, and I still don’t think it makes any sense.

    I can open iTunes on my computer at home right now, buy a song and listen to it without any problem.

    However, if I try and take the gift code from one of the albums my brother-in-law got me for Christmas this year, Apple insists I upgrade to the latest version of iTunes.

    The problem being the latest version of iTunes won’t run on my computer. My iMac only has the hardware to support OS 10.3.9. The latest version of iTunes wants 10.4 or higher.

    So to use a code to download an album that has already been paid for in iTunes, Apple says that I have to essentially buy a new computer.

    Yet I can buy and download music through iTunes right now without issue.

    What’s so special about a gifted album that I need the latest version of iTunes?

  • Pink Floyd just doesn’t hold up for me. I remember owning a bunch of Floyd albums when I was in high school, and I loved listening to them.

    But should a Pink Floyd song come on the radio today, I will roll my eyes and turn to another station.

    The songs sound bloated and self-absorbed.

  • I think having the whole week off from work is relaxing and frustrating.

    Relaxing because I don’t have to wake up early and drag myself into the office every morning and fight my way through a day only to drag myself home again.

    Frustrating because there is so much I would like to do during my time off that I never seem to get to.

  • I expected to barely make it through the first half of last night’s Chicago Bears – Minnesota Vikings game. Figured it would be a blow-out by the Vikings. Never thought that the Bears would shut the Vikings out in the first half and then hold on to beat Brett Favre in overtime.

    The game doesn’t change my mind about the team – they are still poorly coached and need a new offensive line – but it certainly was fun to watch.

  • I thought this was interesting
  • December 28, 2009

    Heather Won't Admit It Out Loud

    But I know that this is what she is thinking.

    Especially after the last four weeks - were she was baking something practically every night in preparation of a Christmas party, get-together, or holiday dinner.

    Keeping It All in Perspective

    Of course, after watching this video that perspective might be of our cosmic insignificance.

    It's fascinating to watch though.

    December 27, 2009

    Kid Quote of the Week

    "My rocker is firmly planted on the ground!"
    Ian, providing the counter argument when I playfully suggested that he might be off his rocker.

    December 25, 2009

    Christmas Comic Cover 2009 - December 25

    Santa Claus Funnies

    Santa Claus Funnies

    As has become tradition, I capped off this year's Christmas Comic Cover Calendar with a cover from Santa Claus Funnies.

    I wish you the happiest of Christmases.

    Hope you enjoyed this year's countdown.

    hollyMerry Christmas

    December 24, 2009

    Ain't it the Truth

    These negotiations start shortly after Thanksgiving in our house and run all the way til Christmas Eve.

    But we make sure everyone in the house is involved in the negotiations.

    Cooking for Christmas

    The entire family coming over for Christmas dinner and still don't know what to serve that will be unique or different?

    You need to be reading Heather's 12 Recipes of Christmas.

    Christmas Comic Cover 2009 - December 24

    The Life of Christ

    The Life of Christ

    Every year when I start my search to find 25 covers to include in my Christmas Comic Cover calendar, I expect to find a bunch of religious covers. But I never do. This year was the exception. Considering the theme of this cover, I thought it would work best as the cover to feature on Christmas Eve.

    1 Day until Christmas!

    hollyMerry Christmas

    December 23, 2009

    Happy Birthday Declan!

    I hope you mom let you tear apart another birthday cake today.

    Declan - the birthday boy

    Fun With Candy

    The other night I stole some M&M’s from Heather while she was assembling some treats for one of our kids’ Christmas party at school (don’t worry, she had plenty).

    I was snarfing the M&M’s down quickly to avoid having to give them back while I walked into Ian’s room to see how he was coming along with his homework. I forgot what was said exactly, but whatever it was Ian made me laugh.

    I choked a bit as the chocolate started going down the wrong pipe – as my mom would like to say - and then coughed pretty hard. When my little coughing fit was over, the back of my throat was burning and irritated from the chocolate. It hurt the most up high in the back of my throat, close to where the nasal passage starts.

    Heather recommended a drink of water to relieve the back of my throat, but I decided to wait. I figured the irritation would go away on its own.

    10 minutes later I am pleasantly surprised by the taste – and sensation - of chocolate running down the back of my throat.

    Apparently the chocolate I had coughed up while laughing at Ian’s joke ended up lodged in the back of my nasal cavity. It sat there for a while until gravity did its thing.

    It was like getting a chocolate treat all over again.

    Christmas Comic Cover 2009 - December 23

    Christmas With The Superheroes 1975

    Christmas With The Superheroes

    I've never actually read one of these Christmas with the Superheroes issues that DC seemed so found of in the late 1970's, but they seem like so much more fun than the holiday specials DC will put today.

    2 Days until Christmas!

    hollyMerry Christmas

    December 22, 2009

    5 Things I Think

  • I think I need to hunt down some of the published work of Kevin Huizenga. The more time I spend on his blog the more enamored I come with his work.

  • I want to believe them when James Cameron and Peter Jackson say that they don’t let technology dictate the story (certainly Jackson proved that in the Lord of the Rings movies) but when I read this response from Cameron I can’t help but think that he’s taking a little of the magic out of film with all his computer wizardry.
    Cameron: "If I did Titanic today, I'd do it very differently. There wouldn't be a 750-foot-long set. There would be small set pieces integrated into a large CGI set. I wouldn't have to wait seven days to get the perfect sunset for the kiss scene. We'd shoot it in front of a green screen, and we'd choose our sunset."
    I guess I still consider film the art of capturing the perfect moment, not creating one.

    However I think Jackson nails it on why if I have to have motion-capture in the films I watch, I want him or Cameron handling it and not Polar Express/Christmas Carol director Robert Zemeckis
    Jackson: "With Gollum and Kong, the key thing that we did was the eyes. I think Gollum and Kong represented the best eyes that I've seen in a CGI film."
    Take a look at a Zemeckis motion-capture film and tell me you see any life in those eyes. Gah.

  • I think the Christmas radio station that plays nothing but Christmas music from the middle of November to December 26th could learn a thing or two on programming from the radio station we stumbled upon while visiting Heather’s family in Ohio.

    I don’t know the Ohio station’s name or call letters, but they obviously understood that there are more than 20 Christmas songs that you can be played.

    93.9 in Chicago is so tightly programmed with the same songs over and over that you can set your watch by what song is playing. Mariah Carey again? It must be 3pm.

  • I really want to see the Sherlock Holmes film coming out on Christmas Day starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. It looks like fantastic fun. I’m surprised I hadn’t mentioned that here before.

  • I think this is wild: James May and 1,000 helpers built a 20ft-tall Lego house on a English winery.

    The house had running water and a functioning LEGO toilet.

    But because LEGO wouldn’t take it from him and no private buyers could be found, the house had to be smashed into little broken LEGO bits.
  • Christmas Comic Cover 2009 - December 22

    Image Holiday Special #2005

    Image Holiday Special 2005

    I have read equal amounts of Frank Cho's Liberty Meadows (shown above) versus his superhero comic book work. I prefer his work as a cartoonist over comic books. I think his style and personal sense of humor is a better fit comic strips. Too bad he gave that up.

    3 Days until Christmas!

    hollyMerry Christmas

    December 21, 2009

    That's My Dessert

    It's a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

    Heather made it for me to take in for my department Christmas party luncheon.

    my dessert

    I didn't want to have to keep identifying what I brought in to share with the group. This way they can just read the top of the damn cake and figure it out for themselves.

    I haven't tried the cake yet, but the frosting is wonderful.

    Batman's Christmas Adventure

    A 1977 holiday album starred DC Comics three biggest heroes - Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.

    I listened to the Batman & Robin adventure where they take on Rudy The Red-Nosed Hitman.

    After you've enjoyed this suspense filled Christmas adventure starring the Caped Crusaders, consider some of these discussion questions/observations:
    Why do Batman and Robin fight crime wearing tap shoes?

    When did Batman start negotiating with criminals? Last I remember, Batman had two ways of dealing with crooks - a right hook or a knee to the face.

    There's a "Christmas Scene" on the south side of Gotham City? What other holiday scenes are there in Gotham? Halloween? Easter? Arbor Day?

    Who attached the slide-whistle to the batarang?

    Instead of feeding those people at the mission you should get them medical help, sounds like they're two minutes from death.

    Christmas Comic Cover 2009 - December 21

    Action Comics #762

    Action Comics #762

    I noticed this morning that Superman's pose in today's Christmas Comic Cover is similar to Green Lantern's pose in the cover featured on December 2nd. Not to worry though, a two days I'll have a cover Christmas Comic Cover where our favorite DC heroes are happy and enjoying the season again.

    4 Days until Christmas!

    hollyMerry Christmas

    December 20, 2009

    Kid Quote of the Week

    "No fudgey, No Christmas"
    Emma, reacting to the prospect of a Christmas season where I didn't make any of my homemade fudge.

    Christmas Comic Cover 2009 - December 20

    Donald Duck #203

    Donald Duck #203

    It took me a while to figure out this cover. Donald holding a pair of sunglasses didn't make sense until I considered that the tree was so bright he was contemplating wear them to look at the tree. However, why the nephews don't seem bothered by the brightness while Donald needs to turn his back on the tree's brilliance still doesn't make sense. But then again, I don't think we should be breaking down Disney comic book covers from the 1940s.

    5 Days until Christmas!

    hollyMerry Christmas

    December 19, 2009

    Mark Your Calendars

    You'll want to remember the day Ziggy finally wore pants.

    Thank you, Mr. Pastis, for making the world a better place.

    Christmas Comic Cover 2009 - December 19

    Impuluse #57

    Impulse #57

    Back to the DC Comic covers. Maybe my love of the DC characters makes me biased, but I think the heroes and characters of DC Comics make for the best looking Christmas themed covers. Even minor characters like Impulse, Plastic Man and Mxyzptlk look great racing around a Christmas tree.

    6 Days until Christmas!

    hollyMerry Christmas

    December 18, 2009

    Getting Closer

    At least Ziggy has found his pants. Maybe next week he will wear them.

    I guess they had to work up to getting Ziggy's pants. Couldn't just have him suddenly appear wearing something on his bottom half. Didn't want to shock the loyal Ziggy readers after all this time running around semi-nude.

    Procrastination Perfected

    Frazz for 12.18.09

    Christmas Comic Cover 2009 - December 18

    Ghostbusters Holiday Special: Past, Present, and Future

    Ghostbusters Holiday Special: Past, Present, and Future

    Only natural that the Ghostbusters would take on the famed Dickensian Christmas Spirits. IDW is publishing this comic this December. It's probably in the comics shops right now. However, I already saw the Ghostbusters go up against the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future in the Ghostbusters cartoon from the late 1980's. Not sure if I need to see it again.

    7 Days until Christmas!

    hollyMerry Christmas

    December 17, 2009

    Christmas Comic Cover 2009 - December 17

    Archie's Holiday Fun Digest #12

    Archie's Holiday Fun Digest #12

    It feels like there are a countless number of Christmas-themed covers from Archie comics, so it's always easy to find one to include each year. I also enjoy including an Archie comic because the covers are always so much fun to look at.

    8 Days until Christmas!

    hollyMerry Christmas

    December 16, 2009

    Iron Man 2 Trailer

    The first trailer for Iron Man 2 is on the web and I only have one word to say: "WOW"

    Wait until the very end for the best part - Stark and Rhodey go masks down and start kicking-ass in the Iron Man and War Machine armor.

    This movie is going to be awesome.

    Projects With Emma

    I've recently enjoyed the opportunity to work on some creative projects with Emma.

    First up, while attending her cousin Declan's first birthday party at the DuPage Children's Museum, she and I built this fantastically massive castle out of blocks.

    Emma's Castle
    The design was almost entirely her's. My only suggestion was the columns on the west side of the building - which she then decided to use on the south wall as well.

    What I failed to capture in the photos I took of Emma's castle was the doorway Emma installed. It was tall and sweeping. I wish I had gotten a photo of it.

    More challenging for her and I was her Dinosaur Diorama that she had to make for school.

    In order to create her dinosaur scene, Emma decided that she wants to build her dinosaurs out of LEGOs. So she and I did a little research on the web to find some pictures to use as reference, and then we figured out how to piece together a bunch of her brother's LEGO to make a Tyrannosaurus Rex and some other dinosaur whose name I forget now.

    Emma's Dinosaur Diorama
    Overall I was really impressed with Emma's and my efforts. When Emma said she wanted to make her dinosaurs out of LEGOs I was a little nervous about being able to cobble something together that vaguely gave the impression of being somewhat related to a dinosaur. But when everything was done, I think Emma and I did a pretty good job.

    (All the painting and decorating of the shoebox was done by Emma on her own. I had no hand in that.)

    I just hope that we haven't set the bar too high with our first school project collaboration.

    Rat Lied To Us!

    From today's Pearl Before Swine

    But this is today's Ziggy

    According to Pastis, Rat's protest efforts should have paid off and we were to see Ziggy in pants today. But today's pants-less Ziggy hints at that fact that there may be another force out there tampering with Ziggy's pants.

    Christmas Comic Cover 2009 - December 16

    Chip & Dale

    Chip & Dale

    I realized this morning while preparing this post that this year's Comic Advent Calendar doesn't feature any Looney Tunes comic covers (sorry if I ruined the rest of the calendar for you) but does feature 2 covers with Disney characters. Today's being the first of the two covers. I think this might be the first year I haven't featured any Looney Tune character covers.

    Regardless, do you think Chip and Dale were at all surprised by what they got each other for Christmas? What else besides an acorn would you get a chipmunk as a present?

    9 Days until Christmas!

    hollyMerry Christmas

    December 15, 2009

    Almost Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

    If you are still struggling on what to get me for Christmas, let me share some ideas that have just recently come to my attention.

    Batman Cowl Replica

    Its a replica of the cowl worn in Batman Returns - my favorite Tim Burton-direct Batman film.

    They're only making 500 of them, so move quickly.

    At $474 a piece I'm sure they will be gone soon.

    A Christmas Story Snuggie

    I used to scoff at the snuggie, but then Heather got one from her mother for Christmas. I tried it out the other night. It was comfortable and having my hands free to work the remote was nice.

    So considering that my cynical heart was melting just a little bit towards Snuggie ownership, I thought if I'm going to have one it should be one that up the kitch factor.

    5 Things I Think

  • I think the timing of DC’s newly announced Legacies project really means that copyrights were about to run out on some rarely used characters names and DC wanted to make sure they held onto the rights for a few more years.

  • I think it’s kinda intriguing how much "Little Secrets" by Passion Pit sounds like an 80’s song while still maintaining a contemporary sound. It’s like 1986 filtered through 2009

  • I think it’s a crime that this dog didn’t win the America's Cutest Dog – and not because the dog’s name is Commissioner Gordon

  • For a surreal parenting moment, I don’t think anything can top having an existential discussion with your 7-year-old daughter why you help her wash her hair in the bathtub.

    For a second grader, Emma is contemplating some pretty intense and heady stuff.

  • I’d like to think that there is a Rocky Wirtz hiding somewhere in the McCaskey family – but I just can’t bring myself to do so.
  • Christmas Comic Cover 2009 - December 15

    L. Frank Baum's The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

    L. Frank Baum's The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

    The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus is a book I've always wanted to read, but have never made the time. Maybe next November I'll make sure to find a copy (either the original or this wonderful comic adaptation by Michael Ploog) so I can read during the Christmas season.

    10 Days until Christmas!

    hollyMerry Christmas

    December 14, 2009

    My Kind of Cause

    Pearls Before Swine for 12-13-2009

    Christmas Comic Cover 2009 - December 14

    batman #309

    Batman #309

    As Christmas covers go, it's pretty weak; though the holly and bells border does give it a bit of a festive air. No, there is one reason this cover makes it into the countdown: Batman.

    11 Days until Christmas!

    hollyMerry Christmas

    December 13, 2009

    Kid Quote of the Week

    "What if Santa dies before all the Decembers come?

    Oh, I know, Mrs. Claus will drop off all the elves to pass out all the presents."
    Zoe, answering the tough questions for herself so Mom and Dad don't have to think too hard.

    I Like Arthur's Style

    [via Sheldon]

    Christmas Comic Cover 2009 - December 13

    Marvel Giant Superhero Holiday Grab-Bag

    Marvel Giant Superhero Holiday Grab-Bag

    My two favorite parts of this cover: 1) the Hulk in a Santa costume and 2) the white shag rug the Hulk is sitting on.

    12 Days until Christmas!

    hollyMerry Christmas