February 28, 2010

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

I was familiar with Seth Grahame-Smith's first novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but was never much interested in it. Zombies, frankly, just aren't my thing.

While vampires are for me on the verge of being as clich├ęd and worn-out as zombies are, Abraham Lincoln is another story.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is in bookstores this Tuesday.

Kid Quote of the Week

- Zoe shouted that when Heather leaned in and gave me a kiss in the kitchen. I'm not sure what else to say. Not sure if there is anything else I can say.

February 26, 2010

Nintendo Shouldn't Fear the Competition

Nintendo bring the ego in recent interview
WSJ: Microsoft is working on controller-free gaming technology and Sony is developing a motion controller. Both are slated for later this year. Are you worried?

Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime: We do not fear any competitor.
And I would agree with Fils-Aime's claim that Nintendo does not need to fear any competitor.

Thanks to the simplicity and fun of the Wii, Nintendo has all but cornered the market on casual gamers - those people who enjoy video games, but don't consider them the be-all/end-all for how to spend your free time.

That other part of the video game market would be the serious gamers, and Microsoft and Song fight for their share of that market segment with the Xbox and Playstation.Wii gets a little part of that market, but for the most part serious games have soured on the Wii because instead of designing another hard-core gaming console Nintendo designed the Wii to appeal to the larger market segment of video game players - casual gamers.

So I would agree, as long as Nintendo stays focused on developing fun, innovative games that appeal to the general public - not just serious games - and let game play dictate any hardware changes, they won't have anything to fear from the competition. Nintendo is working to have its products and games appeal to a different group than Microsoft and Sony with their gaming systems. Really, Nintendo doesn't have any competitors.

Another Reason to Like Batman More Than Superman

Three days after Action Comics #1, the first appearance of Superman, snatched a $1 million price tag at auction, a issue of Detective Comics #27, the first appearance of Batman, sold for $1,075,500 at auction.

The million dollar sale for Action Comics #1 had been the first time a comic book had sold for more than 6 figures and held the record for the highest amount paid for a comic until the sale of Detective Comics #27.

February 25, 2010

My Dad, Ranse Stoddard

As part of their 31 Days of Oscar, Turner Classic Movies will be airing The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance this evening.

The film, directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart, is one of my particular favorites.

Obviously, what always draws me into this film is the extraordinary performances by Wayne and Stewart as characters with very different ideas on how order should be enforced in the open American West of the early 1900's. Wayne's character Tom Doniphon is a product of the untamed West. A man who still adheres to the notion that the guy with the biggest stick and the hardest punch rules the day. This is countered by Stewart's Ranse Stoddard, a newly minted lawyer from the East who fervently believes in the power and authority of the written law. I always enjoying watching these two forces play out against each other, and love how director John Ford handles the story.

However, the film also appeals to me on another, more personal level.

Growing up The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance was one of the movies I always remember my dad talking about. At least, it was one of the films that he was always trying to get me and my brother and sister to watch. He'd sing or hum a few bars of the song. Tell us about John Wayne's character or Jimmy Stewart's character, or the down-right evilness of Liberty Valance. He always seemed so passionate about the film. I could tell he really loved it.

I don't remember if he ever got me to watch the film with him or if I came to the film myself years later out of curiosity. Regardless, after I watched the film, and every time I have watched it since (which is a lot), I can't help but see my dad in the character of Ranse Stoddard.

Like Stoddard, my dad was/is a lawyer (he's currently a judge) who has always held the letter and spirit of the law in the highest regard. You don't solve your problems by hitting the other guy. You fight back by following and using the law of the civilized society in which we live. It doesn't matter how bad things may get, there is always a civil, rationale way to resolve the problems that descend upon us. When I see Stewart up there on the screen arguing with Wayne that he doesn't want to kill Valance, despite all of the horrible things Valance has done to him, but he wants to put him in jail; I see my dad.

I don't know if The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance influenced my father to pursue a career in law. Not sure if he even knows. But I see the resemblance and influence, so watching the film is a little like understand the man behind my dad

February 24, 2010

CubeDudes Rock

CubeDudes a Flicker set of characters from movies, comics, and pop-culture in general that have been re-created using LEGO pieces.

They are pretty amazing.


Batman: The Brave and the Bold video game drops this fall.

I think the game would be outrageously popular in our house - especially considering that you can play as Aquaman.

February 23, 2010

5 Things I Think

  • The most nauseating food concoction idea ever comes to us via the Fifth Third Ballpark in Grand Rapids, MI which is polling its fans on what new food item should be added to the menu in 2010.
    "Twinkie Cheese Dog - This dog can survive any disaster and it might cause a few of its own. Simple - a hot dog laid in a Twinkie covered in cheese. Yum"
    The Pink Panther sounds fairly disgusting also.

  • More food fun for thought: If you redesign the shape of a hot dog, is it still a hot dog?

  • In a recent blog post, Stephen Pastis recounts how he would spend the time riding in the backseat of the car on long trips - imaging a man skiing through the fields on the side of the road.

    A number of people are commenting on the post and admitting that they used to do that when they were a kid.

    I read his post and thought, "Hell, I still do that. Except my guys rides a motorcycle, not a pair of skis."

  • It always astounds me that teachers can have kids read fun, engaging books and then test the hell out of them on the book and the kids still come out the other end loving the book.

    I guess it speaks to the power of a good book.

  • I still can't quite reconcile these two stories.

    Oswego chalks up a 3rd high school for 2014
    "A third high school could cost up to $100 million, and District 308 has the money, thanks a successful $450 million building referendum measure in 2006. It could also cost the district an estimated $2 million in additional operations and personnel costs to open the building."
    with this:

    Facing $5.5 million deficit, Oswego schools plan to cut 87 jobs

    I understand that money raised for a building referendum cannot be used for an operating budget, but if the school district is tight on operating cash with only 2 high schools open what makes them think they can properly staff and run a third high school?
  • February 22, 2010

    What Else Are Unicorns Good For?

    Heather mocks the frequency at which I re-post Pearls Before Swine strips in my own blog, but I don['t care. The strip is genius.

    Pearls Before Swine on 02.22.2010

    February 21, 2010

    Kid Quote of the Week

    If I marry a boy witch, I'm going to move into a giant pumpkin with him.
    Zoe, demonstrating that she is considering all options for the future.

    February 19, 2010

    Time Lapse Snow Fall

    Earlier this week Senator Dick Durbin (and by association, me) made fun of Washington D.C.'s total freak-out over snow.

    I still think they over-react to the appearance of snow, but this wonderful time lapsed video of their self-titled Snowmageddon does help explain some of their reactions to this latest snow storm. A lot of snow comes down in this video.

    However, the video also illustrates the trans-formative power and beauty of a large snow fall, and why many of us welcome the sight of falling snow flakes.

    February 18, 2010

    Andy Kuhn

    I can't remember reading any comics draw by Andy Kuhn since I enjoyed The Annotated Mantooth years and years ago.

    But Kuhn is one of the artists contributing to the Comic Twart blog and he is the artist whose work I am digging the most week in and week out.

    This week he turns in a great version of the Black Beetle.

    I wonder what he is working on now? I'd love to grab some comics he has worked on.

    Don't Kill the Dream

    Pearls Before Swine 02/18/2010

    February 17, 2010

    Talkin' Snow

    The Chicago Sun-Times has a great quote from Illinois Senator Dick Durbin regarding all the snow in the nation's capital.
    "I never could get over how people in this town reacted to snow," he said. "I am convinced that infants born in Washington, D.C., are taken from the arms of their loving mothers right when they are born into a room where someone shows a film of a snowstorm with shrieking and screaming so that those children come to believe snow is a mortal enemy, like a nuclear attack, because I have seen, for over 40 years here, people in this town go into a full-scale panic at the thought of a snowfall."
    While I haven't lived in that part of the county, my current job and my last job put me in regular contact with people who live/work in the mid-Atlantic states and I've experienced their abject fear of snow first hand.

    Office closing, school closing, massive car accidents - all because something other than rain fell out of the sky.

    It's comical. A foot of snow can bring Virginia or North Carolina to its knees. They get snow in the area enough that you would think they would get used to it, but that just doesn't seem to happen.

    Snow starts to fall and the people all fall apart.

    I can't imagine living like that.

    From His Knees

    This is the best basketball shot I've seen in a long time.

    February 16, 2010

    5 Things I Think - Olympic Edition

  • I think Tim Ryan is the voice of the Olympics for me - at least the alpine events at the Olympics

    I know he's done plenty of sports announcing, but if I'm in a room and hear his voice I immediately think "downhill racing."

  • What did pairs figure skaters skate to before the late 1960s?

    I only ask because it seemed like every couple I saw or overheard the music for last night was skating to a song from the late 1960's or 1970's.

  • What do the other countries do for Olympic television coverage?

    Every other country in the world doesn't want to watch NBC's coverage of the games and if every country had cameras at the Olympics for televising the events then there wouldn't be much space left for the participants or spectators.

  • I think I bring this up every four years when there is a winter Olympics, but I absolutely love curling.

    It's on today. I plan on watching.

  • The fact that the Smithe Brothers use curling in their latest furniture commercial is just one of the reasons I think this Olympic-themed spot is fantastic.

    The other being that he rides an ottoman down the curling sheet
  • What Happened to Jack's Cow

    Someone finally clues us in on what happened after Jack traded his cow for some beans.

    February 14, 2010

    Kid Quote of the Week

    That's like crazy late!
    - Ian's reaction to the idea of a kid sleeping until 8:30 in the morning

    February 11, 2010

    Maybe Next Christmas

    I know Heather loves the Snuggie she received as a gift this past Christmas, but I have to think she would have loved this even more.

    Why Can't They All Be Like Watterson?

    Bill Watterson made sure that he wouldn't go down in history as the J.D. Salinger of comics when after 20 years of silence he granted an interview of sorts to the Cleveland Plain Dealer and talked about, among other things, the lasting appeal of Calvin & Hobbes.

    There is plenty of interesting tidbits in the short Q&A session, but this is the part that I found the most interesting.
    "It's always better to leave the party early. If I had rolled along with the strip's popularity and repeated myself for another five, 10 or 20 years, the people now 'grieving' for Calvin and Hobbes would be wishing me dead and cursing newspapers for running tedious, ancient strips like mine instead of acquiring fresher, livelier talent. And I'd be agreeing with them. ... I think some of the reason Calvin and Hobbes still finds an audience today is because I chose not to run the wheels off it."
    Now I can't expect all comic strip creators to have the talent and unique voice of someone like Bill Watterson, but is it too much to ask that they have at least some of his artistic integrity?

    He probably is right. If he had produced Calvin and Hobbes strips for another 5 or 10 years and "run the wheels of it", I would be cursing that strip like I do tired and uninspired strips like Cathy and Beetle Bailey. (Though I honestly can't image ever hating Calvin and Hobbes) Luckily he did not do that, and left when he knew he had said everything he wanted to say with the characters. Now I wish some of those other comic strip creators who call Watterson an inspiring talent would follow his example and step aside for "fresher, livelier talent."

    February 10, 2010

    T-Shirt War

    This is a lot of fun to watch - and contemplate how they planned and filmed this short film.

    5 Things I Think

  • I think J. Caleb Mozzocco shares my opinion about what really makes a Batman - Ra's al Ghul showdown epic.

  • I think it's bloody perfect that not only was it Dave Letterman's idea to get Oprah AND Jay Leno for his 15-second spot during the Super Bowl, but that he wrote the spot himself.

    Dave still knows funny and knows how to be entertaining.

  • Speaking of the Super Bowl, I think I found Greg Kot succinctly pulls together why I was less than thrilled with the halftime show: "Their set list played like a compendium of TV commercials from the last decade as much as a classic-rock primer: snippets of 'Pinball Wizard,' 'Baba O’Riley,' 'Who Are You,' 'See Me, Feel Me,' and 'Won’t Get Fooled Again.'"


  • Last week the Naperville City Council passed an ordinance that bans throwing candy during parades. It's a ban I thought was already in place. When we marched with my Dad in the 2009 St. Pat's Day parade organizers were all about the "NO THROWING CANDY!" rule.

    In any event, I think the City Council should be worried less about the mythical bodily harm that come of thrown candy (Someone claims a piece of candy drew blood after it struck the wife of a city official - must have thrown a box of rock candy) and more about how the practice of passing out candy has turned parades into greedy dashes by little kids for free crap.

  • I think I see a trip to McDonald's in my future sometime around the last week of February.

  • February 08, 2010

    New Computer

    Confirmed my bonus amount on Friday.

    Ordered the new computer on Saturday.

    The new iMac could be here by the end of the week.

    Everyone in our house is very excited.

    February 07, 2010

    Kid Quote of the Week

    I'm playing my invisible game: "Slacker"
    - Zoe, making the best of a situation when the batteries ran down in her digital camera.

    (We never did figure out how you played "Slacker".)

    February 05, 2010

    Selleck Waterfall Sandwich

    Why the Interwebs were created. So people could share this:

    And there is a lot to share.


    February 04, 2010

    Watchmen 2: Electric Boogaloo

    Today parts of the Intertubes are all aflutter about the rumor that DC is seriously considering publishing some sequel or prequel books based on Alan Moore's and Dave Gibbon's monumental Watchmen novel.

    Most comic book fans shudder at the thought. It would be like making Citizen Kane 2. It's a sentiment that I share.

    However there are others who are arguing that new Watchmen-inspired material might do well, and are using Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, the 2001 sequel to Miller's own 1986-published Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, as proof that revered comic material can be revisited.

    My problem with that argument is that with DK2, you had the same creative talent taking on the characters and settings that they crafted the first time around. Miller wrote and drew the first series. He was back to play in the same sandbox in 2001.

    There is no way in hell Alan Moore would touch a project like this, let alone even acknowledge its existence. His hatred of DC is legendary and well documented. And I would expect Dave Gibbons to fall in line behind Alan Moore – though not for the same reasons.

    So without Moore and Gibbons DC will have different talent coming in to play with a landmark piece of comic literature. I don’t see that going well. Memories of the dismal Scarlet come to mind.

    DC would serve themselves best to leave well enough alone. Watchmen has become their biggest selling graphic novel because of Moore’s and Gibbon’s perfect creative synergy in a standalone piece of literature that has not been diluted with spin-offs and sequels. The books remains powerful for its superb storytelling technique, provocative themes, and memorable characters. Hopefully DC will leave it that way.

    February 03, 2010

    SMILE Trailer

    Raina Telgemeier is a fantastically talented artist best known for her work on the Baby-sitter Club comic adaptations.

    Her new book, out now, is called SMILE and is auto-biographical in nature. The book is a memoir of her teen years, which start our badly when she trips and seriously damages her two front teeth.

    I've been ready nothing but great things about the books leading up to its release, and today I saw this trailer for the book. All said, it looks like a fun and interesting read. I hope to find a copy of it sometime soon.

    Quest vs Venture

    The battle we've all been waiting for.

    Faux comic cover by Matt Synowicz.

    February 02, 2010

    5 Things I Think

  • It dawned on my over the weekend that 1989 was 20 years ago – TWENTY YEARS AGO – and it hardly feels much more than 10 years back. I still don’t think I’ve got my head wrapped around that yet.

  • I think one sub-layer of the Jay Leno / Conan O'Brien fiasco – one that probably indicates which 'team' you gravitated to - is about Baby-Boomers not realizing that they are no longer the arbiters of pop-culture.

  • I think it doesn't matter when or where the NFL plays the Pro Bowl - no one cares about the game.

  • During a visit recently to my Grandpa's and Grandma's condo, my Grandpa not only was pushing ice cream as a treat for Ian, Emma, and Zoe, he was following the ice cream up with cans of Coca-Cola (much to my Grandma's vocal disapproval)

    By birth, my Grandpa is already Ian's Great-Grandpa. But I think serving ice cream AND pop at the same time makes my Grandpa Great to Ian.

  • I think TCM finally found a way to NOT impress me.

    Heather gave me a subscription to their "Now Playing" guide for my birthday last November. I received the first issue a few weeks back.

    I knew the monthly magazine was mainly a guide to all the programming on the channel, but I guess I was expecting a little more editorial than what is actually published. Overall it's a disappointment.
  • February 01, 2010

    Funnies for the Morning

    I didn't get to read yesterday's Pearl Before Swine until this morning.

    It's not as funny as this one, but Pastis still works the pun for everything he can. I love it.

    Pearls Before Swine