Friday, November 30, 2007

Lighter Than Air

I see angels on Ariels in leather and chrome
Swooping down from heaven, to carry me home.

One of my childhood heroes passed away today.

Rest in peace, Evel.


Will Dream For Food

Last night I dreamt I was hired to write a short biography of Marie Osmond for $250. Just a page or two, to be read on the radio. All night in my dreams, I tried to recall as much as I could about her, and really worked out, sentence by sentence, how this biography was going to go. It was work, and I didn't feel rested at all until I had another dream in which the Martian Manhunter was chasing me through an office building (I lost him in the elevator shaft).

Anyway, when I woke up I felt like I'd been stiffed out of $250, and I haven't been able to shake the feeling all day. I went to an optometrist and bought new glasses, and I thought "My Osmond money would just about cover that, if they'd ever friggin' pay me."


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Back to the Cult

I made it to another meeting this week -- my first in two weeks, since I skipped the one right before Thanksgiving. The week prior, I weighed in at two pounds higher than the week before, and wound up in a black mood for days. As Dan Bern sang,

Some wild creature has taken command
I gave him the keys
And he's stomping through the house
He has a very busy itinerary
He does not have much time for You.

Those lines always come to mind when I get into my ugly, self-absorbed moods, which thankfully don't come too often. (Usually I have pleasant, self-absorbed moods.)

Anyway, I stepped onto the scale today expecting a modest to enormous gain, what with Thanksgiving dinner, the reunion, the gallon of gin that I drank...and found out that I'd lost a pound. Which is awesome and unexpected. My only explanation is that it must've been some sort of magical bird my mom cooked up.

Could it have been the one that appears about a minute into this video? I think it was.

(And really, how bout that video? Could I tie things up any better?) The world is one big circle. Ouroboros, baby.)


Sammich Update (Like You Care)

Less than a block away from my original shop, I found a breakfast nook that will sell me an egg-white sandwich with hot sauce on toast for a buck seventy five, no tax. With more egg whites than the other place!

Take that, evil egg manager!


...Is the Hardest Part

Screw you, Andy Warhol. I want my comics today!


Ooh, That Smell.

Apparently I wasn't the only one to note the smell in the basement lounge of the bar I was in last weekend. A few work buddies were there last night, and I'm told that one of them remarked, "It smells like date rape down here."

That trumps my description, without sacrificing a jot of accuracy.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

She's the One

We had our benefits meeting at work today. You know: health, dental, vision insurance, the whole deal. And one of the questions I (some would say wisely) neglected to ask was:

If you get a tooth stuck in your eye, would that be covered under the dental plan or the vision plan?

When I got home from work, I presented this poser to my wife. And I'm happy to say, her line of reasoning was exactly the same as my own:

"That depends on whose tooth it is."

Ah, baby.


Long Overdue Linkage

Have a few additions to the blogrolls here—blogs that for some reason I’ve overlooked despite me visiting them fairly regularly.

In the Pals & Gals section, I realized I missed a couple in the vast influx of my online buddies from a few months ago. First of all, Howard Bagby just restarted his blog, In Purple I’m Stunning. (Okay, it’s a restart, so maybe I didn’t overlook it after all, but I'm certainly glad to hear from him again.) Then there’s the only one of these friends I’ve met in real life. So give a big hand to Mike Parnell, pastor, comic reader, and all around good guy, blogging at On Further Up the Road: Musings on the Journey. There’s so many of these online buds now that I should probably give them their own section. Ah, linkshuffling.

Probably my biggest oversight is not linking to Brenda Tremblay’s blog until now. I’ve gone on vacation with Brenda and her family for several years now, and we went from being strangers to friends in what seemed like a matter of minutes. We met on a big group vacation—four families in one house. A risky venture that could easily have ended in disaster. And yet—everything worked. Grownups, kids—we all clicked. Just when you think you’re done making new friends…wham. (And Brenda, I haven’t forgotten I owe you a blog post on the similarities between comic book and classical music outreach.)

Then there are the folks I haven’t met. In the comics section, there’s Mike of Are You Feeling Big Mike? He only posts about once a week, but his posts are provocative and always worth reading.

And finally, I’ve been meaning to add Johnny B’s Solar Prestige a Gammon to my sidebar, since I’ve been having such a great time checking in on his examinations of every Elton John song from before he was replaced with a pod person under a toupee.

As Lyle Lovett sings, there’s more I remember, and more I could mention…but these’ll have to do for now.


Mute Haitian

This came up at work a few days ago: Is anyone else tired of everyone calling the Haitian mindwipe guy on Heroes "The Haitian"? Sure, maybe he's made them all forget his name -- but he lets them remember where he's from? I don't buy it. And what will they do if another Haitian joins the cast? Something's gotta give.

How on earth does everyone know he's Haitian, anyway? He hardly says a word, so his accent is no use, and he looks like he's from L.A. But they all call him "the Haitian," because otherwise they'd be calling him "that black, the creepy one."

Seriously, give him a name already. And use it.

The Pennsylvanian

Monday, November 26, 2007

Taking 20

(In which, try as I might, I somehow can't avoid sounding like a Wonder Years voiceover.)

Class reunions are the type of event that tend to call up unreasonable feelings of dread in people. I mentioned I was going to my twentieth high school reunion last week, and my co-workers generally told me to have fun and wished me luck. I think the luck remark comes mainly because I am old, and most of them are amazed that I can make it to work and back without breaking a hip.

But “good luck” is also code for “try to have a good time, you sorry, sorry, sad, sorry fool, walking blithely into the jaws of death, embarrassment, and lingering teenageism.” A lotta folks didn’t have a good time in high school, I guess.

I dunno. Looking back, I think I navigated those years pretty well. They weren’t my wild years—those were either college, post-college, or somewhere ahead of me, once I shave a few seconds off these bank-heist time tests—but I sure as hell had fun, and managed to sidestep any lasting mistakes. And I made a bunch of good friends that stuck with me, most of whom I was lucky enough to see at the reunion.

Problem is, I didn’t see nearly enough of them that night, since there were so many other people to see that I’d lost touch with in the interim. At the outset, four hours seemed like a decent period of time – but I could’ve gone longer. There was enough time for brief catch-ups, and no time for hanging out. And then, WHAM! The lights were up, and we were blinking our eyes and hauling our drunken asses out the door and hopefully into a passenger seat.

It was great to see my regular buddies, but man, was it good to see all those familiar faces, not looking as old as I’d feared. I heard this line in a play once, and try to live by it: “Friends are great, but to lead a truly interesting life, you must have strangers.” Even so – it’s really nice to see in those strangers the faces of old friends.


Note: None of this could have happened without the tireless efforts and enthusiasm of Debbie, Laurel and Bill. Thanks for putting this on, guys -- it was fantastic!

Haunting at 45 RPMs

The other night, as we were getting dressed in my old attic bedroom in my Mom's house to go to my 20th high school reunion, I played a few of my old singles for Kathy. 45s, that is, kids. Records.

Not that these were records I was listening to in high school. Those were albums, and for the most part had made the move to our house in New Jersey. No, these were singles I had picked up used, two for a quarter, at our middle school book sale before I knew anything at all about what kind of music I liked. I chose them on the strength of their titles -- anything that promised spies, science fiction, or the supernatural was in. So I was the proud owner of Steppenwolf's "Jupiter Child," Alan O'Day's "Undercover Angel," and the Who's "Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde."

And man, did I ever play that song when I was a kid. A John Entwistle tune from 1968, it grabbed me from what I still consider to be an excellent first line: "Someone is spending my money for me."

Now, the orchestration on this baby is hokey (Daltrey and Townsend singing backup with falsetto ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba's), and I have to say that the record itself had seen better days, as it warped from its attic storage. But it was still a thrill hearing this song that somehow had a hand in forming me. Entwistle, always prone to a way-out song (see "My Wife") is probably my favorite Who member, as these things go. I didn't realize he'd written "Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde," but upon reflection, who else could've?

"Whenever you're with me, make sure it's still me..." Not bad advice for us mercurial folk.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Outright Thievery, I Tell You! I Should Be Ashamed!

I've sat on this for about a week, figuring I'd have more to say about these links I first found on Johanna Draper-Carlson's Comics Worth Reading blog. But, it turns out... no. No, I have very little else to say. But in light of the fact that most of my family and friends don't read comics blogs of any sort, I'm just grabbin' the links and running as fast as my floppy Hamburglar feet can carry me.

I first was introduced to The Nails' song "88 Lines About 44 Women" (listen here, albeit to a version they recorded later) on a mix tape my friend Chris made for me. And I loved it like the crazy dating history I never had.* (The tape also had a Peter-Gunn sounding version of Jonathan Richman's "Pablo Picasso," another song that thrilled me to the core.)

Anyway, an enterprising soul with the handle Slipjig rewrote the lyrics as "88 Lines About 44 Fangirls." And it is awesome.

So listen, read, and try not to recognize anyone. (And thanks again, Johanna!)

*I'm also quite fond of my own crazy dating history--but it doesn't hold a candle to "88 Lines."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

My Wife Has Made a Pie.

This pie.

This apple pie.

For Thanksgiving, she says. At your mother's, she says.

And yet...



I'm trying to convince her of the importance of a "test pie."

So far, she's not biting.

So far, neither am I.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

You Want Your King Cake When?

I just realized I should start getting this information out into the world:

Our annual Mardi Gras party is normally the Saturday before Mardi Gras (and Ash Wednesday); this year we've got to postpone it until after Mardi Gras, because I'll be in Vegas for a trade show on Mardi Gras day, and we won't have enough time to get the party together the weekend after I return. So the party will be a week and a half after Mardi Gras, on Saturday, February 16. Which is also the Saturday after Valentine's day, so there's that. But if we push the Mardi Gras party any closer to Easter, Jesus will kick my ass. It's pretty much sacrelige as it stands.

Anyway, I'm hoping we can whip up some decent revelry despite the post-Ash Wednesday date. Just don't give up partyin' for Lent and y'all should be fine.


All Choked Up

A short, touching webcomic by an IGN member and Onesound.

(Mom, you'll like this.)


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Behold! Something Awesome From 1935!

Robert Benchley's short film, How To Sleep:

I can't remember where Kathy & I first saw this, but I dig it so.


Egg FU

My usual breakfast stop has changed managership (as a lot of immigrant-run businesses do; I think person A goes back to the old country while person B takes the reins here, and then vice-versa -- or should I say Visa versa?) and has decided to raise the price on my egg-white & hot sauce sandwich (at first offering the specious claim that two egg whites cost more than two eggs, and then just flat-out telling me I'm not paying enough). So, I'm pricing egg-white sandwiches, to see if I can get one cheaper than $2. I'll show them... I'll show them all!


Sunday, November 18, 2007


Downstairs at an NYC bar, in a room that smelled of cologne and desperation, the dance music suddenly gave way to Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'." Suddenly, the room was united in people pumping their fists in the air, throwing their heads back and singing in that heartfelt Steve Perry way.

A knot of dread grew in my stomach. I knew we had to leave.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Happiness Meme of Happy Happiness

So a while ago, Ami tagged me with the Happiness Meme of Happy Happiness, or something like that. The rules are simple, and I reproduce them here for your edification:

The rules are simple. Just create a post about any number of things that have made you happy recently. Then tag any number of people and have them post this meme on their blogs.

I told you the rules were simple. What I didn’t tell you was that the simple rules were simple enough to proclaim their own simplicity. Ouroboros, baby. Simple enough.

I’ve decided to do this post today not because I’m particularly happy. Actually, I’ve been in a black mood for the past couple days. I’m hoping this can break that up.

Here goes.

1) I think I’ve got a really good D&D game coming up tonight. I’m particularly proud of a horrible incident that should set the stage for the carnage to come.

2) Fables. Month-in and month-out, there’s no comic that’s so consistently enthralling. It’s the best comic on the stands today, bar none. Every issue has a surprise, but every surprise is, in its own way, inevitable.

3) I just closed another issue of my magazine. Ahhh...

4) I just loaded Patton Oswalt’s new comedy album onto my mp3 player. Comedy is always happy-making, and Oswalt’s one of the best right now. I’ll start listening when I pick up my lunch.

5) One of the reasons I’m so gloomy is that I gave up my credit cards a couple of months ago, and I realized my former Christmas gift strategy (blissfully charge it) no longer applies. But I realized something good and meaningful I can give to Kathy for Christmas and not feel like I’m totally cheaping out (even though she knows my situation and has already assured me she needs nothing). I’m set, and while it’ll take some effort, it’s a load off my mind.

6) For the past couple weeks, I’ve been seeing pages of my first full-length comic book story sent to me via pdf. (Yes, I buried the lede.) They look fantastic, and I can’t wait to dialogue them. (Nothing’s been announced yet, so I’m keeping mum online, and may have to for quite a while. Sorry.)

7) My 20th high-school reunion is next Friday. I’ll be seeing a bunch of friends I’m still in touch with but rarely see, and hopefully a few that I’ve lost touch with completely.

8) Busy as it’s making me at the moment, I *am* going to Vegas for a business trip in February. That’ll be nice, when it comes.

9) My wife, Kathy. She melts my bad moods away like no one ever has.

(And my tags? Andrew, Jeri (when hibernation's over), Jayanada, Travis, and Jeff.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Just back from the pet store...

... and I've gotta ask: Why are there small bags of pet litter? The brand of litter we buy comes in three bags of different sizes. Are people hoping their pets will just decide to use the toilet any day now? Or is it for pessimists? "Well, Mister Whiskers is on his last legs. I'm moving to small bags."

The pooping never stops. You gotta face that fact if you're gonna own a pet.


This is How I Serve the Common Man

Sure, embedding a Coen Brothers tribute ain't much, but it's what I got right now.

I've seen all but one of these movies, and The Man Who Wasn't There is right downstairs.


A Boot Full of Blood

A train was stuck in the tunnel that connects Penn Station to New Jersey at rush hour tonight. No sense griping in these situations, and waiting around only gets you frustrated, and then onto the most crowded train you've ever been on in your life. So I delayed my commute and went to see a movie. Lemons, meet sugar and water.

I was just able to make* No Country For Old Men, the new Coen Brothers picture, based on a Cormac McCarthy novel. It's tense and terrifying. It concerns a Vietnam vet (Josh Brolin) who finds the carnage after a drug deal gone sour, and a satchel full of money. There's an assassin sent after him, played by Javier Bardem, who's probably the most disconcerting serial killer since Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs. Meanwhile, Tommy Lee Jones plays the aging sheriff piecing the whole case together and fighting his own repulsion by the crimes he faces.

I don't want to say much more yet, but it's certainly one of the best movies I've seen all year -- and one of the Coens' best films, period.

*Actually, I missed a minute or three of the opening monologue. A perfect reason to see it again!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Manly Diet Tip

I'm not a big fan of the veggies. But lately I've been eating a lot of Sylvia's canned collard greens. They're cooked with smoked turkey, and I add hot sauce to the pot when I heat 'em up. So they're vegetables...

...that taste like MEAT.

It's like they were invented for me. Plus, Kathy doesn't like 'em, so I have leftovers for later!

(And yes, sooner or later I'll be ambitious enough to make my own. But any obstacle keeping me from eating veggies quickly becomes an excuse, so canned is perfect, lads.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dropkick Me, Jesus

We got to see a complete episode of The Amazing Race last night, and I enjoyed it as much as ever. And one team—the married Episcopal ministers—said something I really appreciated: “We’re very religious, of course, but we have no illusions that God cares whether or not we win this.”

Man, that’s a breath of fresh air.

One of the many reasons I don’t watch sports is that I can’t stand—literally have no stomach at all for—anyone who praises Jesus for getting a ball into a net or over a wall or past a chalk line. Because for every guy Jesus “helped” win, there’s a dozen others he did jack-all for. No one ever blames Jesus for letting him get sacked again and again. He’s either on the team or he’s not—and if he is, then the team you’re playing against are obviously infidels. If not by definition, by deduction.

Football becomes a holy war. The winners are right and just and in God’s favor, and the losers are banished from Eden. If Jesus loved them—really loved them—wouldn’t they have made that field goal?

Nah. Keep God out of games. If we can do that, maybe we’ll eventually be mature enough to keep him out of wars, too.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

"Bogus! What's been compromised?"

The original 1994 pilot to 24. Enjoy!

(via Kevin)

Disgraceful Under Pressure

Here's a 2003 British talk show appearance of Joe Jackson, singing "Awkward Age," one of the best songs on his Volume 4 album, which reunited him with the original Joe Jackson Band. I really love the song -- advice from a middle-aged guy to a teen, fully aware that not all of the social difficulties of growing up ever really disappear. Plus, the second line is "you had a scowl like a Klingon beauty queen," so points for that.


Pub-lic Service Announcement

A couple of my beery friends have informed me that there is a worldwide hop shortage. It's hitting the homebrew stores first, and will likely affect microbrews next, and then, eventually, the big producers. What this means to my friends is that they aren't able to get the variety or quantity of hops that they like for their beer. What this means for other run-of-the-mill beer consumers is that the big brands (Bud, Coors, Miller, etc.) are likely to get first pick of the hops, meaning smaller brewers will be strapped. Probably they'll opt to bottle less hoppy beers for the near-to-middle future, until the crisis passes. Big companies will likely push out the same sad varieties they always have. But there'll likely be price increases across the board.

So stock up! You never know when you'll need a nice hoppy IPA!

(Pretending he knows a little about this stuff, but follow my beery friends links and pester them if you want to know more. If they write about it, I'll update my links here. And yes, guys, consider this a request to share your insights about this important topic.)

(As promised, here are Sharon's and Andrew's takes on it.)

Marryin' Weight

One of my interim goals in my weight loss is to get down to what I call "marryin' weight" -- i.e. my weight on the day I was married in April 2003. That's by no means the ultimate goal; I've got a ways to go after that, although I think the weight scientists tell me I should have for my 5'6" frame (115-154 pounds) seems a little pie-in-the-sky (mmm...pie) if not outright foolish. But marryin' weight is a benchmark, albeit one reached the first time with the Atkins excrete-what-you-eat diet. I'm planning to get there via slower, healthier means this time.

However, looking at my scale today, I realize I'm about nine pounds over that weight right now. And it occurs to me that I'm now probably in my "first week after the hard-eatin' honeymoon in Paris" weight. So yay, me!

Gonna take more than a week to get rid of those crepes, though.


Friday, November 09, 2007

It's time to go home.

I'm so fried right now that I had to check my computer's calendar to see whether it is Thursday or Friday. (It's Friday.) I want my weekend. So I'm going home now and not thinking about anything until I have to think about it again.

Going home. Now.


Harnessing the Power of Know-it-alls for Good

Kevin Drum passes along advice from Tony Bourdain about how to use the Internet to figure out where to eat in any given city.

I imagine the same advice could be used to elicit comic, movie, play or music recommendations, as well. Let the Snobs work for You!


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Strike at The Office

The WGA strike at The Office:

In related news, Mark Evanier reports that Steve Carell has been calling in sick since the strike began. His ailment? "Enlarged balls."



I went to my meeting last night and logged another drop of 2.6 pounds. That's what this Sony TZ laptop weighs!

Sadly, I also lost 100 gigs of computing power. All from my ass.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Filthy, Filthy NPR

Sure, it's no "Pete's Schwetty Balls," but this description from yesterday's Morning Edition of former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin (who's taking the reins of Citibank) seemed a little raunchier to me than (I hope) it was meant:

When every other politician and cabinet secretary in Washington was raising his hand for Bill Clinton's attention, Robert Rubin sat there with his hand in his lap, and got noticed as a result of that.

That'd do it.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Important Reminder

Do your part today. Vote.


When They Grab You With Their Metal Claws, You Can't Break Free.

I probably posted this before. But it makes me laugh every time I think of it.


CBS is really pissing me off.

I was jazzed to watch The Amazing Race 12. Sat down for dinner tonight, clicked onto our Tivo'd premiere episode.

And once again, CBS let football run long, so 60 minutes ended late, so we get half a 60 minutes episode and half Amazing Race.

We can't add time to buffer our recording; Desperate Housewives comes on right afterward, and the Tivo has to switch. And unlike many of its shows, CBS doesn't make the full episodes available online.

I'd love to watch The Amazing Race. I really enjoy the show, and it's the only reality show we watch, making it a great change of pace from our usual fare. But...


CBS deserves a middle finger right in its goddamn eye.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

"No, No, No" is the wrong answer.

Man, Back to Black is a good album.

And man, this is a lousy performance of the title track. Simply a train wreck.

It's enough to make me feel guilty for buying Amy Winehouse's album; however she's spending her earningsn, if she doesn't stop soon it'll end her.

There aren't a lot of tabloid princesses I have a lot of sympathy for. As much as they seem hounded by publicity, they also have armies of publicists "leaking" their every move to the press. And I'm sure Winehouse has the same.

But simply for the waste of talent, it makes me depressed. She's got so much more potential, and she's flushing it away.


Friday, November 02, 2007

I Love a Parade

Ninja Parade Slips Through Town Unnoticed Once Again


I'm Trying To Care, But I'm Afraid I Might Sprain Something

So earlier this week a Mildly Amusing Dinosaur of a Comics Magazine has announced (via cover blurb) that it will now be a Mildly Amusing Dinosaur of a "Pop Culture" Magazine for Men. And some fine folks who don't need that blurb to tell them what they already know--that, blurb or no blurb, it has the sense of humor of a dim Starfleet Academy fratboy--are jawing on and on about it. And I've tried to join the conversation a couple of times, but really just can't get into it.

Because--as Kalinara notes--this book is a Dinosaur. All of its primary functions have gone by the wayside, either through humor and opinion blogs, internet news sites or auction sites like eBay (who needs a price guide?). So it's left to grope around blindly in the jungle as more specialized mammals scamper out of reach of its tiny, useless arms.

It's a Dinosaur. It's closer to being oil than being relevant.

So it's hard to see what all the fuss is about.*

ETA: Here's a Wizard cover from last year:
Ship? Sailed. The only reason "men's magazine" is in this month's topline at all is because they didn't have a photo of a babe to tell us so herself.


*It's even harder to see how this change/rebranding is going to save their bacon. I love comics, but even I can see that the world at large is not clamoring for a comic-oriented Maxim. FHM's dead, Stuff became a subsection of Maxim -- and yet there's a market for Maxim with drawings of She-Hulk? Sure...hitch your wagon to that star, why don't you?

Man, everybody else gets all the good crack.

Strange Bedfellows

The wingnuts team up Versus Fox News?

Okay, this is weirder than that Judy Garland thing. But I'm off the meds!


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Cue That Bass!

Good news, everybody! Well, Good rumor, anyway. Can I have everybody's attention?

No, up here, in the rafters.

That's better.

Barney Miller season 2 may be finally coming to DVD!


Tip o' the Little Red Hat

Congratulations to Valerie D'Orazio for becoming president of Friends of Lulu, a 13-year-old non-profit that encourages female readership and participation in the comics field.

I'm looking forward to seeing what she and the rest of the new crew has planned.