Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And Her Little Dog, Too!

I made a quick trip to the pharmacy a couple of minutes ago to pick up some cold medicine. On my way, I was listening to a podcast of an old episode of Command Performance, a radio show that aired only on Armed Forces Radio during WWII. Hosted by Bob Hope, this episode had Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra having a sing-off to be in the next movie with Judy Garland. Not a bad cast.

Well, I'm listening to Bob, Bing and Judy chat through some patter between numbers, when on the side of the road I see Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. I gotta tell ya: Hearing Judy Garland's voice on my radio, and seeing Dorothy over by the pizza took me a minute to remember it was Halloween. In my congested, muddleheaded state, I thought I was seeing ghosts.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Ahoy, Indeed.

Our scanner mysteriously started working again! Which means I can bring you this tale of forbidden love on the sea:

Okay, it may not seem all that lovely-dovey, what with the spear-throwing and whatnot... but read it again with your eyes closed.

The family that whales together, impales together.


(Images from House of Mystery #183, published by DC Comics in 1969. Story by Robert Kanigher; art by Jerry Grandenetti and Wally Wood. Subtext by Abercrombie & Fitch.)

Still In Stealth Mode

Just haven't been inspired to write too much lately.

I'm sure it'll pass, but tonight might not be the night, considering it's time to clean the ferret cages. They need me more than y'all do.

With that in mind, here's a picture of a demonically powered Dude kicking Gus's ass.

Go, Dude!


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Quite Peculiar in a Funny Sort of Way

The blog at Newsarama led me to Johnny Bacardi's farewell post on his comics blog, and though he wasn't a regular stop for me, I'm sorry to see him go.

But this isn't about that. This is about the other blog he mentions that has me simply fascinated. It's Solar Prestige A Gammon, in which he is examining every studio track Elton John recorded from 1969 to 1977.

This is freaking awesome.

It's exactly those albums that I picked up on vinyl for a quarter a pop from the middle school book fair when I was in high school. It's those albums that I played to death, that I taped and listened to on my walkman, that I pondered the lyrics to for hours. Exactly those. I kept buying EJ albums after that, but none ever measured up to that first bunch.

I'm going to have a lot of fun wading through his posts, oh yes I am.


The Chicago Way

"They pull a knife; you pull a gun.
They send a dog into space; you send a monkey."


Where've You Been, Rob?

I have one of two answers to that question:

1) Paranoid.

2) Hyper-aware.

Whichever it's been (and the jury is still kind of out on that, and may remain so), I've been too cranked up to write these past few days. That should change soon.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Doctor, Doctor

Very little information has been released on this so far, but it looks like...

Fifth Doctor Peter Davison will join current Doctor David Tennant for a mini-epsiode for Children In Need called "Time Crash."



Sunday, October 21, 2007

Imbordand Bessage

Ah need sub allergy medicadshun ib da worsd way.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Let's All Go To The Lobby (And Get @#&#ed Up)

Via Jim the Bastard, here are some (scary, scary) tips on movie theater etiquette courtesy of Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Mastodon.

Watch it quick; it's likely Cartoon Network will pull this from YouTube right quick.

Don't make me cut you with a linoleum knife.


Is It Just Me?

Whenever I make my sleepy-eyed way out of Penn Station to walk to work, I'm confronted with a billboard across the street. Lately, the most prominent one has been for a shoe company, Aerosoles.

And every time—every time!—I see that logo, I misread it as "Arseholes."


Thursday, October 18, 2007

One Face, Two-Face, Blue Face, No-Face

Eric Newsome presents part four of his Question interview with Greg Rucka -- this time focusing on Renee Montoya, the Gotham City detective who's taken up the mantle of the Question.


By Hooker, By Crook

So this recent headline at Talking Points Memo,

Hooker: Duke Cunningham Fed Me Grapes in Hot Tub

got me to thinking: Isn't ANY headline made better by positioning it as testimony from a prostitute? (It also got me wondering if "grapes" was a euphemism, but that's neither here nor there.)

The whore's eye view makes taking a look at much more fun:

Hooker: 'Baby Jessica' waiting to collect $1 million

Tart: Bhutto mobbed upon return to Pakistan

Trollop: Children's health care bill heads for showdown

Local Roundheels: Storms Rake the Midwest

Ho: France's Sarkozy and wife announce split

Did condemned Hussein get hair dye, cigar?

GOP sources: Hastert won't finish term

(Seriously, we know what "GOP sources" means by now... they get free grapes.)


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

More Thoughts About JLA #14

It came out today.

I didn’t buy it.

I did, however, look through it. And looking through it, I realized I made a couple of incorrect assumptions in my original post.

The first is that the spread in question doesn’t lead off the issue. Luthor shows Superman and Black Lightning the video a bit further into the issue. It makes the scene seem a little less prominent than it did in the preview, where it was front-and-center.

Second, a quick read of the issue shows that Luthor was showing Superman those images to really piss him off. He wanted him good and angry; the story explicitly says so. So, whether it was in the panel description or not (I’m still guessing not), I could see how Ed Benes’s reading of the full script would lead him to pose that panel in that way—because Luthor might see it as a good way to press Superman’s buttons.

I still think it’s a bad idea.

Not that it’s ineffective. I mean, clearly it works. I was pretty damn mad.

But I think, even in a world where Luthor is a bad, bad guy, he should refrain from sexually exploiting Justice Leaguers. It devalues Wonder Woman and the others to build up Luthor, which is, frankly, a bad trade. Luthor is already pretty much the worst guy in the DCU—he’s already made his rep. Victimizing Wonder Woman does nothing for him that capturing her wouldn’t do, and it makes her...well, a victim.

But never mind that. What does it make the audience?

Looking at the Newsarama boards after the preview. the argument for the scene’s inclusion predominantly wasn’t “It’s exactly what Luthor would do to make them angry and easier to defeat” (although a few perceptive souls did point this out), but instead that comics aren’t just for kids, and that grownups like the jiggle, that complainers shouldn't be so prudish because there’s more T&A on any TV show and, of course, “HAWT.” With a lot -- I mean a LOT -- of boob jokes thrown in for good measure.

I wonder how all those appreciative fans feel now that they know that the scene they were getting off to was supposed to piss them off?

And that’s my problem with the entire episode. I’ve read a lot of heroic fiction where protagonists or sidekicks were tied up, and have never given it a second thought. If the plot called for it, it called for it, and that was that. But prompts the audience to react in the exact opposite way that the viewpoint character (Superman) is reacting, and the dissonance works against the story.

What the scene in JLA looks like is not that they were tied up for the villains. They look like they were tied up for me. As, I dunno, a present. A gift. Fan service, is what they call it.

No thanks. I'd rather have cash.


(On the plus side, I used that very cash to buy the first issue of The Umbrella Academy instead. So it’s not a complete loss.)

EXTRA LINKY GOODNESS: Val at Occasional Superheroine presents a similar argument (but with HAWT pix!) and Cheryl Lynne at Digital Femme offers a simple rule to publish by, days before the tempest touched down in the Justice League's teapot. Both are good reading.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Monkey Newsday

Either CBS News has an infinite number of monkeys clacking away on an infinite number of typewriters...

...or it plagiarized an article from the conservative website WorldNetDaily.

What do YOU think?


Monday, October 15, 2007

Slow Posting Day...

... so I thought I'd just take the opportunity to remind everyone of the official Laughing At The Pieces seal:


Sunday, October 14, 2007

How's That Again?

We stayed in a hotel last night -- the Westin in Falls Church, Virginia. Great room, big, comfy bed -- and I got to wake up and take a swim in the morning. When I was down at the pool, I noticed something odd. There was a sign that read, in big letters: "Warning: Lifeguard is on duty." There was some smaller print under it, but I couldn't read it because my glasses weren't on.

But why on earth should I be warned that a lifeguard was on duty? Shouldn't I be warned if there was no lifeguard on duty, and I was taking my safety into my own hands?

Maybe the smaller print would have clarified things. Like:

And she's a cannibal.

But those who know fear burn at her touch.


Any other possibilities?


Saturday, October 13, 2007


Goin' south to meet my nephew Ben today. As is traditional in my family, I'll be bringing a stuffed animal and an mp3 of his uncle saying a Japanese word.

Have a good weekend, heroes.


Friday, October 12, 2007

What is...The Nozzle???

Been meaning to link to Stephen DeStefano's blog for a while now. He's a comics artists and animator who's been working on the Gold Standard of Whacked-Out Cartoon Shows, Venture Bros. And every now and then, he posts some behind-the-scenes art.

Like these sketches of facial expressions for Brock.

And these mysterious Season Three teaser images. ("The nozzle"? What?)

And these awesome Big Venture Posts!

There's plenty of other cool stuff on his blog, too. Look around.


Tongue-tied and Twisted

Recently in the Comics Cave, we'd been talking about Blender's list of the 40 Worst Lyricists in Rock. The list is tremendously subjective, and as at least one of us pointed out, treats lyrics like poetry rather than part of a musical whole. What works when sung often lies flat on paper.

A good example of the subjectivity of "good" and "bad" lyrics. In his Secret Broadcast Cave, my friend Don just flashed back to Joe Jackson's "Breaking Us In Two." (With a video and everything; check it out.) I think Jackson is an amazing lyricist. At one point, describing the break-up, he writes

You don't do the things that I do
You wanna do things I can't do

Now, it'd be easy to tear those lyrics apart for being vague and inarticulate--hell, for rhyming "do" with "do". But as much as I love the whole song, it's these two lines that hit me the hardest. They're very plain, very bare. And in saying almost nothing specific, they really say it all.

Context isn't everything, but everything is context.


Schroeder and Hobbes

Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes) has reviewed David Michaelis's controversial new biography of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz. Here's one interesting passage:

The strips used as illustrations in "Schulz and Peanuts" are reproduced at eye-straining reduction and are often removed from the context of their stories, but they vividly demonstrate how Schulz used his cartoons to work through private concerns. We discover, for example, that in the recurring scenes of Lucy annoying Schroeder at the piano, the crabby and bossy Lucy stands in for Joyce, and the obsessive and talented Schroeder is a surrogate for Schulz.

Reading these strips in light of the information Mr. Michaelis unearths, I was struck less by the fact that Schulz drew on his troubled first marriage for material than by the sympathy that he shows for his tormentor and by his ability to poke fun at himself.

Lucy, for all her domineering and insensitivity, is ultimately a tragic, vulnerable figure in her pursuit of Schroeder. Schroeder's commitment to Beethoven makes her love irrelevant to his life. Schroeder is oblivious not only to her attentions but also to the fact that his musical genius is performed on a child's toy (not unlike a serious artist drawing a comic strip). Schroeder's fanaticism is ludicrous, and Lucy's love is wasted. Schulz illustrates the conflict in his life, not in a self-justifying or vengeful manner but with a larger human understanding that implicates himself in the sad comedy. I think that's a wonderfully sane way to process a hurtful world.

The whole review is worth a read. As is, I imagine, the whole book.


(Via Mark Evanier.)

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

I mentioned that Captain America was now carrying a gun to Erich*, the copy editor at work, and showed him this picture. His reaction?

“Could he be any gayer? That’s a little Tom of Finland, don’t you think?”

I did what you would do in that situation: burst out laughing. Regaining my composure, I said the justification for the new costume was that it was a new Cap, since the first one had died.

“How did he die? Did his heart break after 9/11?”

No, I explained. His girlfriend shot him.

Now it was Erich’s turn to crack up. “You’re kidding me, right? ...You’re serious?”

I assured him I was. His girlfriend, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carter, had shot him at point-blank range. She’d been hypnotized when she did it, but she was the one who pulled the trigger.

“I think superheroes ought to use a little more discretion in their personal lives," he said.

Can’t argue with that.


*He says this is his first appearance in a blog. (He's wrong.) Collect 'em all!

(Edited to add a link.)

Something in Comics to Make Me Happy Again

Eric Newsome has posted part three of his Question interview with Greg Rucka at That's the faceless ray of sunshine I needed.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Not This Again

Newsarama just put up a preview of the new issue of Justice League of America, continuing what’s been a hell of a good story so far, pitting the Justice League against the Injustice Gang. Written by Dwayne McDuffie, it’s really got everything you want in a JLA story – superpowered action, snappy dialogue, suspense. Great stuff, all around. The first issue of the story was drawn by Mike McKone. He’s a terrific artist, and he made the book a joy to look at.

The second chapter, issue 13, was drawn by Joe Benitez. He’s nowhere near as good as McKone, but still drew a decent comic story. By the end of it, much of the JLA was captured by the bad guys.

Now, regular series artist Ed Benes is back. Which is why issue 14 picks up with this opening spread:

Are you fucking kidding me?

A half dozen JLAers are incapacitated, and the three that just happen to be displayed for the screen as a goddamn two-motherfucking-page spread are the three hotties, all trussed up and bent over like porn models? Come on.

I mean, come on.

Who approves this shit?

How much disdain for the casual buyer, or a reader with any—any—level of maturity does this show? This is the Justice League. The book is in no stretch of the imagination about sex appeal. For the first time in a year, they put a writer on who finally gets the book, who not only knows how to write a good action scene, but realizes they’re essential in a book like this—and this is how they treat his script?
You’re goddamn right it is, Luthor.

I don’t know what McDuffie wrote in his panel description for that page. Maybe he did describe the women, front and center, spread eagle, bent over, and thong riding up. But I really, really doubt it. The man has class. He probably briefly described what sort of devices were sapping their superpowers, and left it to Ed Benes to stage the scene.

Look, I don’t give a crap whether this is degrading to Wonder Woman, Black Canary and Vixen. They’re lines on paper, nothing more. And honestly, I barely care if it’s offensive to women. Because some’ll be offended, and some won’t, and probably most will just scratch their heads and say, “Aren’t all comics like that?” But whatever their reaction, it’s their own lookout.

But this… Let me be clear. It’s not offensive to me. It’s just lines on paper, and all that. But it’s the intention behind the lines. It’s the absolute lack of respect for the reader. Not because children might read it, but because adults read it. Grownups who don’t need Black Canary, Wonder Woman and Vixen to be their…ahem… "date” for fifteen minutes. Awkward fifteen year olds will love this. Stunted man-boys will, too. But that’s not a club I wanna be in, because the members all sweat and stammer and the seats are all sticky.

This isn’t porn. But I have no doubt – none whatsofuckingever – that the artist and the editor (Eddie Berganza) expect this issue to be used as porn, and that it’s that market they’re catering to by drawing this shot, and by including it in the preview. And no matter how much I’ve liked the story up till this point, and no matter how good the story itself may continue to be, despite the art, I’m not going to line up on Wednesday with a bunch of arrested adolescents who rush home and hide this issue under their mattresses.

If they can’t sell the Justice League without relying on crotch shots and bondage fantasies, DC should get out of the Justice League-selling business.

I wish—hell, how I wish—that I could read McDuffie’s story without this. But until Benes is off of Justice League and replaced by someone who wouldn’t be better suited to the Shanna The She-Devil Shower Spectacular, I just can’t read this anymore.

This is a cynical, vile marketing ploy, appealing to the lowest common denominator. I’ve held my nose and picked up other books like this, but not this time.

I’m not in that fucking club.


UPDATE: More thoughts here, now that I've seen the issue.

Busting a Cap

Come January, there'll be a new Captain America in town, with a costume design by Alex Ross. And he'll be packin' heat.

Should be something to see.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dude Update

The Dude abides.

He's endured his two weeks of antibiotics, and went back to the vet on Tuesday. The medicine did help in clearing up his lungs -- he's breathing much more easily now -- but he still has some lesions on his lungs. Also, he has the big tumor in his abdomen.

Neither seem treatable right now, but neither presents any immediate danger, either. The vet said to brink him back for another checkup in six months. I can't imagine we'll hear any better news then, but all things considered, "bring him back in six months" eases my mind quite a bit.

Anyway, to give you an idea of how he's getting around, here's a short video of him shot the other night. In some ways, he's very fussy. (Fussier than us, given the state of the room we're shooting in.) There are two jingle balls he's sort of claimed ownership of. Whenever one gets displaced, he'll take it and bring it right back to a certain place between our CD racks. Here's a dark, poorly shot video to show you how he does it. Please ignore the mess (the ferrets like to climb and dig in the boxes), and the fact that I sound like a doting grandmother.


Butcher Alert!

In the comments to my previous post about Allan Melvin, Travis points out that IMDB is unreliable for cast credits of older TV shows. He's right. According to the Canonical Brady Bunch Episode Guide, Sam actually appeared in eight episodes. That's out of 117. Very few, overall, but he was very much a presence. Maybe he could've been in more if he weren't so busy being a double agent. (Luckily the Mayberry Sheriff's Department caught him in time.)Isn't the Internet wonderful?

ALMOST IMMEDIATE UPDATE: I just realized the Beetle Bailey video Mark Evanier posted the other day is from the series featuring Allan Melvin as the voice of Sgt. Snorkel. (This might be his voice gruffly saying "Beetle Baily!" at the very end of the theme song. TRIPLE agent!


Go Team Venture!

Jackson Publick reports that they're finished with the writing of Season Three of Venture Bros.

He's also got some gorgeous shots of the Venture Compound.


(via blog@newsarama)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

And Now, A Word From B.B. King


The Butcher Looms Large

At work this morning, we began a work-related discussion that ended with us wondering who played Sam the butcher on The Brady Bunch. I’m sure my sister could tell me off the top of her head, but we had to look it up on IMDB. Turns out his name is Allan Melvin. He was born in 1922 and is still alive, though it seems he retired in 1994. He made a ton of appearances on All In the Family and Archie Bunker’s Place, as well as being a recurring player on The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Andy Griffith Show, and played Cpl. Henshaw on The Phil Silvers Show. Plus a lot of voice work for animation. He’s had a hell of a career.

But you know, I remember him best as Sam the Butcher. That’s not just a character he played, to me and my cohort. That’s who he is. I didn’t realize his character even had a last name (Franklin). He’s just Sam the Butcher, and if I see him on a Dick Van Dyke episode, I’ll say “Hey, it’s Sam!”

But IMDB revealed something else, even more interesting to me than his long career: Sam only appeared on four episodes of The Brady Bunch. That seems completely wrong to me. In my memory, his character has a much greater presence than that. (Jim the Bastard suggests that he was probably mentioned a lot more than he was seen; he’s probably right.) He is, after all, the reason why I conflated the definitions of “butcher” and “bachelor” when I was a kid. “A single guy who sells cuts of meat.”

So here’s to you, Sam. You’re a giant among recurring sitcom characters. In only four appearances, you fleshed out the Brady’s world, and sabotaged my dating technique for years. (“Lamb shanks? I thought we were going out for dinner...?”)


Maybe I should write horror...

I wrote this on the train, with no real purpose. I don't know where it came from, but I know it scares the crap out of me.

He didn’t even realize he was doing it. Something in the story of the boy’s captivity touched him, horrified him in a way he didn’t understand. Unconsciously as he heard the account of the boy’s years in that cellar, he rubbed his wrists, as if making sure there weren’t manacles on his own hands. Just one thumb against one wrist, then the other against the other. The rubbing persisted as the boy described the meals he’d eaten from that dull metal bowl. Canned soup, canned Spaghetti-Os. Walter kept rubbing as the boy described the damp mattress, and the single wooden chair in the room. Curls of thin, almost invisible skin were separating themselves from his flesh. He peeled them away absentmindedly, diligently. By the time the boy was speaking of those later days when part of the window covering had chipped away, revealing the 2-inch triangle of sunlight that kept him hopeful of rescue or escape, Walter had realized what he was doing to his wrists, but could not stop. He rubbed them together now, the skin raw and bloody. When the boy’s story ended, Walter looked down at his wrists, frightened but amazed. They looked like he had taken a bottle cap to them and scraped the skin away. But there was no bottle cap. There was only the boy, and the boy’s story, and something Walter could not remember.


Monday, October 08, 2007



Best Evasion Ever

So I'm in the men's room as we're waiting for our table at Blue Smoke, when a guy comes in with his daughter in a stroller. I was occupying the booth, so he decided to go first, and deal with his daughter once I vacated. He's standing at the urinal when his daughter asks, "Daddy, how can you pee standing up?" or something along those lines. And he says:

"I have my ways."

Two points for Mr. Mysterious!


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Something for my Southern Kin...

Posted without comment.


It's a Secret, But No Secret...

So, after that rough amateur footage of the Avetts (and their loose performing style), I thought I'd post something much tighter and professionally produced -- but of a song I love every bit as much. So here's a variety-show clip of Richard Thompson singing "Cooksferry Queen," about an improbably romance between a thug at the top of the Brit-thug food chain, and the hippie street chick he's ready to change his life for.

Now my name it is Mulvaney
And I'm known quite famously
People speak my name in whispers
What higher praise can there be?

She could get the lame to walking
She could get the blind to see
She could make wine out of Thames river water
She could make a believer out of me

I'm planning to write a bit about another Richard Thompson song I've just discovered (even though I've had it on disc for more than a decade), so I won't go on and on about this, except to say it's one of my favorites, and if I ever had a chance to attend a costume party for characters from music, I'd want Kathy & I to go as Mulvaney and the Queen. I love this song; there seems to be even more story here than Thompson's letting on.


Late-Nite Video

Trying to stay up to match Kathy's reading tonight, so here's a live performance of one of my favorite bands, the Avett Brothers, playing "Denouncing November Blue" in Greensboro, North Carolina.

"November came and went like the summer that I spent with a no-name girl who walked in jelly shoes." You gotta go a good ways before you find an opening line I like better'n that one, yessirre. Bluegrass instruments, punk energy. Enjoy.


Aw, crap.

'Nuff said.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Mea Culpa

Somehow... and I haven't worked out all the details yet... this blackout was my fault. Must've been. I mean, what's changed? Me watching, is all I can think of.

Um... Sorry?

Hopefully play will resume soon. For now, Kathy gets to watch her Tivo'd Rangers game.


UPDATE: Back on! Better get my butt downstairs.

I Don't Often Say This, But...

Go Phils!

I'm watchin'.


She Hate Me

An Open Letter to Jeri Smith-Ready:

My wife was up till five in the morning because she couldn't put your new book, Voice of Crow, down. Now it's two in the afternoon and she's still not out of bed, and she's very grumpy with me for waking her up.

Worse yet, she's still not done, so I know this is just gonna repeat itself tonight and tomorrow morning.

Thanks loads, Jer.



According to LA Weekly's Nikki Finke, Warner Bros. studios will no longer be producing movies with female leads. apparently due to the underperformance of The Brave One and Invasion.

Now, I haven't seen either of those movies. I avoided Invasion because of the behind-the scenes, multiple-director brouhaha: I figured the best it could be with that many cooks peeing in the broth* was a wait-for DVD screening. As for The Brave One? That's just fallen victim to me not seeing as many movies as I'd like to see anymore. It and 3:10 to Yuma are high on my list, honest, but I don't know if I'll get to them while they're still in theaters.

But all that's beside the point, innit? What it really comes down to is that this is an extremely, almost comically shortsighted decision by WB head Jeffrey Robinov, that will earn WB studios a lot of ill will and make them exactly zero dollars. I am possibly the outsideiest of Hollywood Outsiders, but even I can tell you how this will play out:

  • A lot of blog posts and opinion columns get written, talking about what a stupid decision this is. Some of them call for a boycott.

  • A WB movie underperforms. Speculators wonder if the boycott is having any effect. (It won't have a noticeable one, but that won't stop people from wondering.) No big deal. Robinov keeps his job.

  • WB continues to make movies, passing up scripts with female leads.

  • One of those films passed up under the Robinov directive goes on to make crazy bank for another studio.

  • Robinov rescinds the directive, but the damage to his career, and WB's reputation, is done. He leaves with scads of money...but he leaves.

  • The next guy (and yeah, it'll still likely be a guy) picks up the pieces.

I could be completely off base here. But boycott or no boycott, I think what'll bring Robinov down is success of a property that he could've had, if only he weren't a sexist moron.

Here's hoping it comes soon.


*Am I mixing metaphors? So be it.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Last Great Halloween

Inspired by Thom’s ongoing overview of the Halloween movies, I thought I’d share a tale of my past, inspired by the awfulness that is Halloween 3: Season of the Witch.

Years ago, in college, my friends and I would watch all sorts of awful movies, guided by the philosophy, “If they’re awful, they’ve got to be good!” This led us to such gems as Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity and Beaks (shudder), as well as Halloween 3, one of the worst sequels ever committed. Not “committed to film,” either — committed, like a crime.

The details of this movie are mercifully hazy at this point. It has no relation whatsoever to the Mike Myers stalker from the first two and subsequent movies. Instead, it has a group of occult scientists scraping off bits of one of the Stonehenge rocks for use in a computer chip for use in a mask that will transform the wearer’s head into a mass of snakes and bugs when the chip receives a certain broadcast signal, and there’s an incessant “X more days to Halloween” jingle to the tune of “London Bridge.” And, at some point, the evil mastermind recalls the good old days, saying, “The last great Halloween was over five hundred years ago, when the hills ran red with the blood of children.”

This phrase captured our imagination like few others. It became a regular part of our repertoire of in-jokes, through our college days and beyond. And so it was that, years later, when we four ex-roommates were confronted at Universal Studios with a machine that would speak whatever was typed into it in the voice of various members of the Munster family, we decided to have jolly old Herman Munster say the most disturbing thing we could think of.

So we typed it in.

And out of the machine, in Herman’s chuckly voice, boomed
The last great Halloween was over five hundred years ago, when the hills ran red with the blood of CHIL-dren!

This was loud.

Really loud.

Parents drew their kids in close to them. The security guard gave us a suspicious glare.

We kept it up, Pat Benatar-style:

Hell! Hell is for Hell! Hell is for Hell! Hell is for CHIL-dren!

Man, this thing was loud!

There was only one thing to do: See what it sounded like when Grandpa said it.

His voice was reedier—Al Lewis had a tenor to Fred Gwynne’s bass tones. Somehow, that made it even more creepy.

We didn’t want to overstay our welcome, so we left soon afterward. But it kept us laughing all day long.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Flood Alert

Just got this email:

Severe flooding in 10th and 9th floor womens bathrooms on the park avenue side. The men are working on it as we speak.

C'mon guys! If we all pitch in, we can flood our bathroom, too!


Despicably Inconceivable

It occurred to me the other day that, much like Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow is a cross between Keith Richards and Pepe Le Pew, there’s another live action performance that’s just as informed by a Warner bros. character—perhaps even moreso. I mean, aside from species, is there any real difference between Wallace Shawn’s Vizzini in The Princess Bride and Daffy Duck?

The two characters are a perfect blend of smug certainty and exasperation, and I’d be very surprised if Wallace Shawn didn’t have a certain fowl in mind when crafting his performance.


The Downward Spiral

Lost some more weight this week, after nearly stalling last week (just 0.2 pounds, but a win's a win, right?). This week, I misplaced 1.6 pounds, bringing me to an even total of 26 pounds lost. Or, measured in the unit of the week, 3.82 of this guy:

Not too shabby, Abby.


Hungry For More?

Just don't get enough episodes from my life here at Laughing at the Pieces because I'm going off on some lousy tangent? You're in luck! Jim the Bastard's got the goods here and here. Guaranteed 100% USDA Prime truth. Like Dragnet, only the names have been changed.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I don't know why I can't find it on the homepage, but here's a direct link to the first part of an excellent interview with Greg Rucka about The Question. Most of this first part deals with the seminal O'Neil/Cowan series from the 80s.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Pencils Down in 30 Days...

We're bound to be hearing a lot about the upcoming, nigh-inevitable writer's strike in Hollywood. Mark Evanier provides a look at what's happening in the pre-show. Think of him as Joan Rivers on the Red Carpet, except without him inspiring that urge to kill.


Fear Him.



A Few Good Names

I've been thinking about expanding the Name Pool a bit more, and, if the ink ain't yet dry on the birth certificate, here are a few other ones Tom and Al can try...









Mr. Blonde





and Mellow Yellow.

Now, don't get me wrong: Benjamin Robert is a fine, fine name. But you should know what your options are.


Monday, October 01, 2007

And the small pool of Staeger names expands...

Not a lot of names in my family. We tend to go with tried-and-true names, on both the Staeger and Sayer sides. John, Jim, Tom, Ed, Bob/Rob. The girls have it easier, since there are so few of them, but sometimes even those names get a little extra action (hi Emma!). But some of the recent kids have been bringing a few new names into the mix, and we're very proud of them for that (D-Man!). They don't have any say in it, but we're proud of them anyway.

So it's with great happiness and pride that I announce a new name in the Staeger name pool: Benjamin Robert, attached to my brother Tom & Alison's branch of the family. Both Ben and Alison are doing great, Ben weighing in at 8 pounds 9 ounces since his debut at 9:02 this morning.

There's no word on how soon this new name will begin to replicate itself throughout our clan, but even money says that Tom & Al will be so happy with the name that they'll consider naming all subsequent children Benjamin Robert, regardless of gender.

So welcome, Ben! It's slobberin' time!


UPDATE: After all that, I do, actually, already have a second cousin named Ben. D'oh!

Turns out Ben weighs six pounds nine ounces. Not my fault—the daddy got it wrong when he told me.