Friday, February 29, 2008

Cue the Drunken Trombones

So last night, after intending to do this for years now, Kathy & I finally made it to a burlesque show in NYC. Starshine Burlesque was having its final performance at Rififi, and we decided we wanted to see them before they moved.

Man, was it a good time. The pre-show go-go was by Scarlet Sinclair, shakin' it in a black, KISS-inspired outfit. Nothing says "kiss my ass" like big pictures of Gene Simmons and Peter Criss on yer heinie. (Update: Scarlet's posted a photo from last night on her livejournal page.)

The show itself started late -- around 11 p.m. instead of the posted 10:15-ish start time. Because of the packed crowd (and despite Ms. Sinclair), I was getting a little cranky -- I was in a winter coat and sweater, and was dyin'. Then, when we got to the stage area, we found ourselves in a standing room only area behind two very tall women. I was getting a little grumpier.

But then the show began. And man, what a good time, right from the start. First up was Tigger, our transvestite emcee. We'd actually seen him before, on Pants-Off Dance-Off, but here, he was really in his element. He got the crowd cheering and dancing to the "national anthem" (that Old-Time Stripper Music Whose Name I Know Not), ran a drinking contest, and gave out spangly awards to members of the crew and the audience. All the while introducing dancer after dancer: Jo Boobs, Darlinda Just Darlinda, Julie Atlas Muz (who performed what was probably my favorite routine of the night, putting clothes on and packing up to "Another One Bites the Dust") and Miss Delirium Tremens.

Last but not at all least were Starshine's producers, Little Brooklyn and Creamy Stevens, who said goodbye to the joint. Brooklyn's routine was the title song of Rififi, joined by her husband, dressed all in black to offer her shadowy assistance in disrobing. Finally, Creamy Stevens' final routine was to "Auf Wiedersehen" from The Sound of Music. It's not a song that I'd ever imagined I'd watch someone take off her clothes to -- but now that I have, I doubt I'll ever forget it.

What stands head and shoulders above everything else, though -- even above the talent and dedication it takes to pull a show like this off, every week, with such panache -- is the sheer amount of joy in the room. The people on stage love what they're doing. The people in the audience--as many women as men, if not more so--love watching them, and they love the experience of watching them, which is a little different than the watching itself. The hoots and whistles and cheers -- it's all participation. Everyone has their own little piece of the action.

And when it comes down to it, don't we all want a little piece now and then?


Happy Birthday, Superman!

Now learn some manners, willya?


Thursday, February 28, 2008

What, no Father Custer Adventures?

Mightygodking enumerates Vertigo's roots in Golden Age comics.

(Via The BEAT)

Rick Springfield Dentures Update

So far I've had four searches for "Does Rick Springfield wear dentures?" Two from different places in Washington State, one in Arizona, and the most recent in California. From this, I can only conclude that it's either a very small zeitgeist which may catch on wider as the week progresses, or it's all the work of one obsessed drifter.

But either way, the east coast simply doesn't seem to care about this pressing issue.

Also of note: My original "Does Rick Springfield Wear Dentures?" post is the number one Google search on the subject, with a message board post about my blog post taking the number two spot. Obviously, I'm going for the trifecta here.

As for the question itself, I still have no opinion on the matter. Willful ignorance on my part, or a hidden agenda? You be the judge. (Hint: The point is probably moot.)


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Is This The Best Comic Book Cover Ever?

Or just the best one in our lifetime?

You decide.

(Jack of Fables #20, by the way.)

Spotted Dick

The phrasing and design of this ad cracks me up.

“We must stop Liberal Dick Durbin.” Is it because Dick Durbin is a liberal? Is it because Durbin is a liberal dick? Is it actually Durbin’s dick that is liberal, making him “Liberal-dick Durbin”? And “Liberal Dick Durbin” makes it seem like that’s only one of the varieties you can get Dick Durbin in. There’s Liberal Dick Durbin, Conservative Dick Durbin, Action Glider Dick Durbin and Dick Durbin with Kung-Fu Grip.

(I also like how until I looked up Durbin's site, I thought Sauerberg was running in Maryland because of the MD after his name.)

In Memory of a Monster

I just found out from a coworker that Ben Chapman, the man who played the Gill Man in The Creature From the Black Lagoon, has died. The Gill Man has long been my favorite Universal monster, and I'm sorry to hear of his passing. Here's a picture of Mr. Chapman in happier times, carrying the beautiful Ginger Stanley off to his lair.

Rest in peace, Mr. Chapman. And thank you for the scares.


I Feel the Beat Call Your Name

We were listing to a bunch of MTv-era 80s music on in the car on Saturday, and Scandal's "The Warrior" came on. Now, they lyrics are stupid on their face ("Your eyes touch me physically"? eww...), but Kathy assured me the video was every bit as ridiculous. And oh, how right she was.

Enjoy Eighties Leotard Fighting at its finest! Complete with ref!


Lately Somethin's Changed. It Ain't Hard To Define.

Just noticed that I got two hits from the Google search "Does Rick Springfield wear dentures?" So I thought I'd do everyone a solid and answer this burning question.

How the hell should I know?


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Do You Need To Know How To Draw The Venture Bros.?

Why, yes.

Yes, you do.

Artist Stephen DeStephano posts the first four pages of his Venture Bros. tutorial, with more to come soon.

UPDATE: Part Two's up! Brock Samson!

(Via Blog@Newsarama)

Dog Gone

I officially changed my meeting today. Our meeting leader changed at my cult storefront at home over the new year, and since then I haven't felt connected at all to the meetings. I was more irritated than engaged -- there were still the same handful of guys there, but suddenly I felt marginalized in a way I hadn't before. It might be my own feelings of dislocation from the world I've been struggling with these past few months, but however it came about, my meeting just wasn't doing it for me, and I was having no success.

So today I went to the meeting around the corner from work, with the intention of making it my regular meeting. I like the leader, and it's a large, engaged group. Still not many guys, but there also wasn't a twenty-minute discussion/lamentation about diet soda, so I didn't feel completely out of the loop.

Anyway, the important news is that I got rid of this little guy. How much was that doggie in the window? Four pounds is how much he was. Now, some of that was fake weight -- I'd pigged out in the afternoon before my meeting, eating a girl scout's weight in cookies. But some of it was real, jambalaya/rum/beer/cornbread-induced weight gain.

And today? That dog is gone. And he took a friend. I stepped on the scale to find that a full five pounds didn't step on with me. Approximately the weight of this whole octopus that you can order to make sushi. And that's despite something I can only refer to as the "Swedish fish/Raisinets incident" until the court documents are unsealed in 2015.

Tentacles, baby. High five!


Monday, February 25, 2008

Waltzing Through the Maelstrom

A couple of weeks ago, I was called by a publicist about a piano recital happening at Carnegie Hall. In order to promote recycling and earth-friendly practices, the pianist, Soyeon Lee, would be wearing a gown made from recycled juice pouches. The magazine I work for has a peripheral relation to the outdoors, but this story wouldn’t be up our alley. It was possible that one of our sister, more outdoorsy, magazines would be interested, I said -- though not likely -- and I gave the publicist the appropriate name for a contact. As thanks for pointing him in the right direction, the publicist offered me tickets anyway. So last Tuesday night, Kathy and I went to see an amazing pianist play some terrific music -- and, oh, yes, see her shiny, orchidlike gown. (Which, it turns out, she only wore after intermission. A smart move, I think, since she showed us how well she could play before wearing a big, if momentary, distraction.)

I know nothing about classical music. I don’t listen to it much -- occasionally, but not often -- and I pretty much never write about it. Mostly because I don’t really have the vocabulary. I’m a word guy, and most instrumental music stymies me a bit. With folk, jazz and world, I’ve got enough background that I think I might be able to open my mouth without embarrassing myself. But classical? Hell, I’m not even sure it’s called Classical. One of the pieces Ms. Lee played was written in 2007, and was a world premiere. How Classic can it be?

So there’s the idiot factor. If I stick my head out of my gopher hole to talk about classical music, I will undoubtedly look like an idiot. Opinions can vary on Green Day or The Decemberists, Tom Waits or Stevie Wonder. You can like ‘em or not -- it’s just an opinion. People feel entirely comfortable dismissing rap or country music as an entire genre. And it’s just a matter of opinion, no harm, no foul. But classical? It seems more like math to me -- there’s a right and there’s a wrong. I’m okay with seeming unhip (Jesus, the quote at the top of my blog for the moment is from a Fixx song, so how hip can I be?), and it’s okay if people think I’m stupid. I’m just wary of opening my mouth and confirming it, as Mark Twain says. (See what I’m doing here, bringing Mark Twain into things? I’m really worried that you’ll think I’m stupid, so I want to assure you that at least I can read. God, I hope the remark I’m alluding to is Twain, and not Wilde or Johnson. But I’ll be strong and not look it up. Resolve.)

So, the concert. It was terrific. Really engaging in most parts. I really liked Lee’s rendition of Isaac Albeniz’s Iberia, Book I, and later her performance of Bach’s Chaconne in D minor (adapted -- or is that arranged? -- by Busoni). I drifted off a little during Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 7 in B-flat Major, but it was kind of lullabylike, and, as I said, I’m a word guy. I fall asleep in the silent parts of movies -- and even subtitled ones -- all the time. I fell asleep during the quiet, stalking scenes of Predator. It’s a wonder I ever got through Rififi, with its 31-minute silent safecracking scene. But, y’know, safecracking. Anyway, her performance was wonderful, I'm sure -- my short doze should only be seen as a reflection on me.

After intermission was the Bach (quite good, and I feel like an idiot that I don’t have more to say about it than that) and a new piece by Huang Ruo, called Divergence: for Piano and Speaker. It was really interesting to watch, and it called for Lee to not only play the piano conventionally, but to pluck and hammer at its strings. At the end of the piece, a speaker (in this case, Ruo himself) recites a Chinese poem, “Sounds Ever Slow,” by Li Qing-Zhao. The effect of the voice is so startling that my first reaction upon hearing it from the balcony, even though I knew it was coming, was to think, “God, what an asshole.” Then I realized it was part of the performance instead of some attention-starved jerk, and relaxed and enjoyed it. Honestly, I think it was more interesting to see performed in person; I don’t think it’s something I would enjoy just in audio form, but the whole experience was memorable.

And then there was the Ravel. Lee played a piece called La valse, and it was just amazing. Originally written as an homage to Johann Strauss, La valse (why the lowercase? A mystery of classical music) is a waltz of the most apocalyptic sort. The piece sets a proper, elegant waltz against a swirling maelstrom of music. Playing it on one piano (it was originally written for a large symphony, and also transcribed for two pianos), the performer is pretty much at war with herself. And listening to it is like watching a traditional, high-society dance continue against all odds as the dance floor cracks in two and a giant chasm opens during an earthquake. It’s astounding. I’ve never seen or heard anything like it. It’s beautiful and devastating, as both pieces of music (it’s really just one, but it seems like two) race to conclude before the other. Will the dancers finish before they’re sucked into the gaping maw of the earth? It’s the sound of an aristocracy dying. A week later, I’m still awestruck.

I just hope I don’t sound like an idiot.


P.S. I plan to cover the after-party and the dress and such in a later post. But this one’s gone on long enough, don’t ya think?

P.P.S. If you want to read someone with serious classical music kung-fu, check out Brenda's blog. She has the virtue of knowing what she's talking about. I'm just flailing around in the dark.

P.P.P.S. Holy crap, they're remaking Rififi! And double holy crap, I already knew that and forgot it!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Attention Zombie Lovers

Novelist Mark Henry is guest-blogging at Jeri Smith-Ready's digs while she's all bunkered up writing a book of her own. Mark's book, Happy Hour of the Damned, is going on sale this Tuesday -- and it features a sexy zombie as its lead character.

Frankly, I'm having a hard time coming to grips with that. Although the book cover at right makes it a little easier.

Anyway, if you like the undead like I like the undead -- and especially if you're a zombiephile like that wife o' mine -- hie thee to Jeri's and ask Mark a question. One lucky commenter will get a free copy of his book.


One Step Closer

Just finished painting the guest room's ceiling. It's white paint that is tinted purple until it dries. It ends up looking good, but until then, you can't help looking at every dark spot of half-dried paint and wanting to put another coat on it.

Oh well... rollers and brush are washed, and it's all pretty dry and good-looking now. Next weekend: The walls, coats one and two.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dude Update

We took Dude back to the vet today. His weight was constant from 10 days ago... 1.3 pounds. (He used to be around 2.6.) His lymph nodes are still enlarged, and he has anemia. Meanwhile, his blood sugar is still high. So, we're cutting back on the pred some more, and hopefully that will help his blood sugar get under control, and it's possible his lymph nodes will shrink with fewer steroids in his system.

Meanwhile, we're going to start giving him injections of a medicine for his anemia three times a week. It doesn't seem like it'll be that hard to do -- they're tissue injections, so we don't have to find a vein, which would result in a very perforated weasel. After a month, we'll bring him back tot he doc, and hopefully cut back to twice a week on the injections.

It could be that the anemia is what's keeping him from eating. He has poor control over his hind legs right now -- a symptom of anemia in ferrets -- which makes it hard for him to eat food in its traditional spot in the cage. We've added a food bowl to the lower level, and with the shots, hopefully he'll get some strength back in those haunches.

I feel a little more hopeful* for him now than I have in the past few days. And, Kathy informs me, Dude is at the food bowl again while I'm up here typing this. Let's hope he keeps that appetite when he goes back in the cage.


*And now that I feel better about Dude, I might be able to blog again. I have trouble posting much when I'm in a funk, even though Kathy & I did something very cool last week that I've been meaning to write about here.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Post Tardy Gras Uptick

I gained this dog, named Wookie. With these beads. Don't ask how much he weighs. I'm still shaking my head in amazement.

Back to work this week. No more devil pretzels, no more hurricanes, no more boredom eating. I've got a dog to lose.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I Wanna Hold Doom's Hand....

Is it just me, or did today's issue of Mighty Avengers feature the most boring Iron Man/Dr. Doom fight ever? Pages of them holding hands, as we watch percentage readouts of their respective power levels? Don't get me wrong -- there was some glorious Bagley art in this issue. But man, Bendis was coasting. Interest level 58 percent and dropping...


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tardy Hearty

Here's how the Tardy Gras party went down: Saw plenty of friends and family, including some we don't see often enough. Met an old friend's new family for the first time. Got to meet some of Kathy's co-workers, including a couple who dig Tom Waits, Nick Cave and cool board games. Smoked cigars in a menagerie that included friends from a current job, a former job, middle/high school and college. Talked to distant friends who could not arrive. Watched girls pretend they were in a spaceship. Shoveled the remaining snow into a big beer bucket; it was gone within 24 hours. Inspired two awesome posts by the Bastard. Polished off our bottle of Tuaca, and drank more hurricanes than my poor system could stand. Ate a lot of delicious food, most of it generously supplied by the guests. Thanked my mom for a coat rack. Between Kathy & I, managed to keep it together long enough to medicate the Dude relatively on schedule. Accumulated more beer at the end of the party than we had at the beginning -- a Tardy Gras loaves-n-fishes miracle. Considered the biological properties of a half-sharkaligator, half-man. Helped keep a friend well-supplied with bourbon ("From the gentlemen in the beads..."). Confessed my love for dough. Found a date for the space alien:

And thankfully, the overhead light in the living room managed to hold off on blowing out until the very next time we turned it on. Tardy can be good.


Monday, February 18, 2008


One of the best comics out this week was Fantastic Comics #24. Man, was this book running late – Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch have nothing on Larsen and Co. Let’s see… Fantastic Comics #23 was published in… well, the Grand Comics Database isn’t loading right now, so lets just say 60-odd years ago. (UPDATE: It's working again... and it's 1941.) So publisher Erik Larsen should really have gotten his star-studded lineup of artists – Mike Allred, Tom Scioli, Fred Hembeck, Bill Sienkiewicz, Ashley Wood, Tom Yeates – to put down the friggin’ X-Box already. The last issue was finished in the days of radio dramas, so there’s really no excuse.

Actually, Fantastic Comics #24 is the first of Image Comics’ Next Issue Project, in which modern comic creators create the next issue of old, discontinued Golden Age comics, public-domain characters and all. And it’s fantastic. There’s something to recommend every story, whether it’s the satirical energy of Larsen’s Samson, the more modern takes on Flip Falcon and Yank Wilson, or the more old-fashioned (with a wink) Captain Kidd and Golden Knight stories. But the final tale…well, it kind of plagued me. Because it’s mostly in German.

Ashley Wood’s Sub Saunders story begins with our hero tied up in a chair, being interrogated by a Nazi. I guess. Like I said, it’s mostly in German, and I don’t speak a lot of that. So, I thought, Free Translation to the rescue. Here are the German parts of the script, translated by a computer, for your amusement and edification. I’ve added some parenthetical notes as to what I think the translation might mean. But for the most part, your guess is as good as mine.

Page 1: Saunders, have free it the seas of a gef hrlichen (?) madman! The world is grateful! (“Saunders, you have freed the seas…?”)

Page 2: Miss beautiful, enough for today…

Page 3: Ahhh... through they push think become so-called India texts I disconcerted, confuses etc.

Ask Saunders, its believe used becomes in the music, and openly ber (?) a boring.

Be in that they guessing not are do rather perplexed, why in that this, aware Saunders? Has, is it the law... (Is this a reference to “possession is nine-tenths of the law”? Or should the German read Hass instead of Hat – making it “Hate, it is the law.”?)

Page 4: Miss beautiful, ask further.

Gone your father the kontrole and the protection out is, what he demands? Ahh Karl or such, its dear was not are strong gender.

Naturally, I cannot leave it guilt for that it behind, they are nothing other as a flat copy.

I have would end it the favor Saunders with this, a tragic. Something where it nothing at all.

Page 5: Miss beautiful, the time for us to that would end speak ours Saunders.

No no are not anxious, have we much more to inform sign, that would end.

No longer phallisch (“phallic”?) u-booted (“U-Boats”?) and high lake adventure for it.

How very boringly Saunders, die!


And then, at the end of the book, Wood has a parody of his claim to fame, Automatic Kafka – a character named “Automated Keats” – walk on and make some declarations. I can’t say I was impressed, or found it all that funny. Or comprehensible. (Some of that is certainly the limitations of the Free Translation program, but without it, I'd be even more in the dark.) But that’s okay – while I doubt I’d ever buy a comic Wood wrote ever again (unless it was preceded by 58 pages of awesome, like this one is), if there’s ever a book that he just letters? I am so there. Check out that sound-effect design. This is the best artist-generated lettering since Dave Sim’s stuff.

Anyway, I don’t want to end on a bad note. I’m incredibly happy with this comic overall. It has a ton of variety and fun, in a beautiful, oversize 64-page package for $5.99. There’s a lot to recommend here – and I can’t wait for the next one (Crack Comics #63!).


In Which the Gauntlet Is Thrown

A short conversation from deep into last night's Tardy Gras festivities:

ANDY: I saw this movie Helvetica streaming on Netflix. Half of it is people saying Helvetica is this great, universal font, and the other half is people saying [in French accent] "Helvetica is shit. It is like McDonalds."
SHANNON: This is a whole movie about a font?

ME: Yeah, I've been meaning to see it.
SHANNON: Anyone who thinks that long about fonts should get a sock in the eye.

ME: You oughta meet my art director.

SHANNON: Is he the one who left with the shiner?

So fair warning, Bastard: I know a belly dancer who wants to punch you in the eye.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Aye Em Drunk.

Tardy Gras a Success. Film at 11.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Our Poor Little Guy

It was a rough day yesterday.

Dude hasn't been eating well, so I took him to the vet. There, we learned two things. The first is that he's lost half his body weight. I knew he was looking and feeling skinny -- that's what we were worried about, after all -- but I was astonished at how much he'd lost. We thought he'd missed me when I was in Vegas; he started eating more when I got back, it seemed. But it still seemed to be causing him discomfort, and soon his eating slowed again.

It turns out that he has lymphoma (or at least, that's the preliminary diagnosis). He has tumors on his throat making it uncomfortable for him to eat. The doctor told me there were three ways to deal with it: formal chemotherapy, large doses of steroids (prednisone), or doing nothing. Chemo, he said, will give him a prognosis of 6 months to a year. The steroids -- which we were already giving him for his insulinoma -- will give him about the same. He didn't say what doing nothing would mean.

We opted for the steroids. Chemo is hard enough for a person to go through; I don't want to put a pet through that. Plus, a handout they gave us said that ferrets already on pred don't do as well with traditional chemo. But we were already giving him pred, so it was simply a matter of upping the dose. We hated the diagnosis, but I couldn't help feeling good about taking some action against it. I just wanted Dude to eat again, and put on some weight.

But now, I just got a call from the vet. Apparently Dude's blood sugar levels are really high, and he doesn't want to up the pred level until he gets the lab results back for the lymphoma test. (A guy on the phone told me we'd have them Monday, but with the holiday I suspect Tuesday or even Wednesday.) Neither Kathy nor I are happy with this. The doctor already said he was 99 percent sure, and we want to fight this thing. But we don't know what complications he'll have from high blood sugar, either.

We're wrestling with what to do. Meanwhile, we're putting a party together, frustrated by this uncertainty and back-and-forth. Dude's not at a point where he needs constant attention or anything, but I still feel pulled in too many directions.


Gawker for Geeks

I just saw Denny O'Neil as I was walking to lunch. I didn't say hi or anything -- he was going one way, and I the other -- but it was definitely him.

He's one of my all-time favorite comic writers -- he wrote The Question after all -- but I've already told him a few times how much I loved that series. He doesn't need his afternoon interrupted to hear it from me again.


Double Deuce

I never weighed in when I got back from Vegas, so it's been two weeks since my last confession... or something like that. When I went to the meeting on Wednesday night, I discovered that I gained 2.2 pounds over those two weeks of steak and gin and ginsteak. And, upon coming home, a remarkable amount of peanut-butter-filled pretzels. Man, were they ever a mistake to buy. But they've inspired this short play:

ROB: Boy, I sure am eating a lot of these peanut-butter pretzels.

DEVIL ON ROB'S SHOULDER: You better get rid of them before you eat more.

ROB: Why, that's a surprisingly responsible suggestion, Devil On My Shoulder.

DEVIL ON ROB'S SHOULDER: What is THAT supposed to mean?

ROB: It's just... well, usually you're telling me to indulge in stuff. Like those four beers I drank last night to give the jambalaya that genuine, stirred-by-a-souse flavor.

DEVIL ON ROB'S SHOULDER: That I do, that I do...

ROB: So what's up with this "get rid of the pretzels" kick?

DEVIL ON ROB'S SHOULDER: I'm not sure what you're getting at.

ROB: Why would YOU, of all the little people on my shou
lder, want me to stay away from the pretzels?

DEVIL ON ROB'S SHOULDER: Um... no reason...

ROB: I'm on to you. You're up to something, I know it.


(grabbing a handful of pretzels): If you want me to get rid of those pretzels, you'll have to be a lot smarter than that.

(sighing): I suppose you're right.

ROB: Face it, Devil. I'm just too smart for you.
(ROB pops a pretzel into his mouth, and crunches it.) That's the taste of victory, my friend.


Wow... that went on a lot longer than I expected.* But now.. the moment of visualization. Googling 2.2 pounds, amazingly, led me to this:
Yes, there's 2.2 pounds of Jamaican Bat Guano in this container. As well as 2.2 pounds of two other types of guano, and only 1 pound of the mysteriously short-shrifted Mexican Bat Guano. ¿Por que no tienen amor para guano de bateas Mexicanas?


*Here's the play, as I intended to write it.
ROB: I should get rid of these pretzels.
ROB: Okay.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Jambalaya is Cookin'.

Beer is bein' drunk.

How's your Valentine's Day?


Happy Valentine's Day


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

O Caption, My Caption

I just posted this for the Caption Contest at the Comics Cave... and I figure y'all would like a crack at it, too. So have at!


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Cooler

I got home late tonight, and just did some shoveling. Need to get those steps -- got to keep the postman safe.

Other than that, though -- it looks like it's going to be a fairly warm rain late tonight, and continue in the 40s tomorrow, so I didn't go crazy out there. I was taking the say off anyway, so if I need to shovel tomorrow, I'll do it them.

My one priority was a most-likely futile attempt to pile a bunch of snow onto our deck near our back door. For once, I wasn't shoveling snow because I wanted it gone -- I was shoveling it to somehwere I wanted it to stay. There's a very slight possibility the Tardy Gras party will have our traditional snowdrift beer cooler after all.



I saw three very different movies this weekend. First up was A Hard Day’s Night on DVD. I was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed this. The movie is sheer exuberance and joy. I realize now that I wasted my youth. I should have been the Beatles.

The music, of course, was great. But the the personalities of the Beatles shone through with such clarity and honesty that it completely validates Beatlemania in my mind. How could all those teenagers watch this movie and not fall in love with this band? Forty-odd years later, they're still breaking hearts.

For a completely different take on being young, Kathy & I went to see Juno on Saturday night. It’s a terrific little movie. Ellen Page is wonderful as Juno, of course -- sarcastic, impulsive, vulnerable and creative. You’d want her as a friend. I was also really impressed with her parents (dad and stepmom), played by J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney. Diabolo Cody’s script sets them up to be more than the usual teen-comedy dupes and foils, and Simmons and Janney make the most of the opportunity, playing them with wisdom and bite.

I topped off the weekend with Magic, Tivoed from AMC a few weeks ago. This evil-ventriloquist-dummy movie has a heck of a pedigree: Anthony Hopkins plays Corky, a skilled technical magician with no charisma until he “teams up” with a ventriloquist dummy. Ann-Margaret is Penelope, the now-married high-school sweetheart, and Burgess Meredith pays his agent (who has one of the funniest lines in the movie, as he barks to his secretary, “Sylvia, what’s the first rule of being an agent? Never forget it was an actor killed Lincoln.”). The movie is directed by Richard Attenoborough from a script by William Goldman. They weren’t messing around for this dummy movie.

Naturally, the movie plays Corky (get it?) as an unknowing schizophrenic who uses the puppet (named Fats*) as a release, all the while teasing that the sinister Fats may be more than he seems. That sort of theme was in the air, and even if I never saw the movie, the zeitgest haunting it surely rattled its chains in my direction as well -- I wrote a play in college that trod the same psychological ground.

In hindsight, the movie seems trite and a bit too earnest for its own good, but there are a couple of scenes that are nicely affecting, and another that underplays what is actually pitch-perfect EC-comics style irony. The first of the bunch is an opening scene where Corky’s act bombs in front of a distracted audience. As Corky tries to impress them with card tricks, the camera keeps cutting to a woman’s rich, horsey laugh -- at something her dinner companion said, rather than anything to do with what’s happening on stage. Finally, after lifting an ace from the deck and getting no response, Hopkins spits, “Do you see that? That’s a thousand hours of my life.” I’ve heard Penn Jillette say that the secret to magic is devoting more time to fooling people than they’d consider the trick is worth, and Corky’s frustration magnifies that pain in that statement.

Later, there’s a great moment when, to break the tension between them, Corky brings Fats into a conversation with Penelope. Fats uses the opportunity to tell Penelope about a betrayal. What’s interesting is that he doesn’t tell her that Corky killed her husband that afternoon. Instead, he sabotages their budding relationship by telling her the secret behind a magic trick Corky used earlier to get her into bed. It’s a sharper cut, and a much more interesting swerve.

But the topmost moment in irony comes at a point when Fats is telling Corky how he might just blurt out the details of Corky’s double-murder at an inopportune moment. Fats is pressing him and pressing him until Corky just can’t take it any more, and suddenly Fats slumps down at Corky’s side, motionless. And, as a veteran of hundreds of murder movies, a thought flitted unbidden across my brain: He killed the dummy. Because he was afraid he would talk.


*While "Corky" is a fairly inelegant reference to a material dummies can be made of, "Fats" strikes me as a more clever nod to one of the components of flesh-and-blood folk. So hats off to "Fats".

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lost's Greatest Mystery

Thanks to Thom, I now know what Sawyer's nickname for me would be on the island of Lost: Huckleberry Pinhead. Sadly, I can see that catching on.

Go find your own!


Holy Crap.

We're still a week away, and we've already got 52 Yesses for our Tardy Gras party next weekend. 52 people in our house, with more certainly to come. February 16th: The Day Our House Sank to the Center of the Earth.

I hope we have enough beads for the Morlocks.



My friend Jeff asked a bunch of folks he knows to write about the meaning of life for his 500th blog post. He's reached that milestone now, and I'm happy to be included in it. Here's to 500 more, Jeff!




Sunday, February 10, 2008

Running Gag Reflex

At the Big Show in Vegas, the Daily crew's primary running gag sprouted from this Jim Gaffigan routine about Hot Pockets. He gets a ton of mileage from the subject... and so did we.


Amazing Men

Justice Society of America #12 (written by Geoff Johns & Alex Ross; art by Dale Eaglesham & Ruy Jose) has a sequence that rocked me to my socks. The first page of the bunch explains the history of the first Amazing Man, Will Everett. Some of it's new information to even longtime readers.

Amazing Man first appeared in All-Star Squadron #23. Created by Roy Thomas, Rick Hoberg and Jerry Ordway, he was positioned as America's first black superhero. (DC had published other black heroes prior to this, but All-Star Squadron's World War II setting put Amazing Man at the front of the line.) Amazing Man soon joined the All-Star Squadron, fighting crime, Nazis and Klansmen with the help of his power to transform into any material he touched.

This week's JSA expands on his history. In a flashback, we discover that he wasn't the first black superhero (although we're not told who was). Instead, he was the first one to step out of the shadows -- the others acted in secret. Essentially, he was the Jackie Robinson of superheroes. There were plenty of black athletes before him, but he was the one who broke the color line.

Everett became an important symbol of civil rights, marching with Dr. King and, later, capturing his killer, James Earl Ray. The flashback fleshes out a period of the history of the DCU that the comics of the time never did.

Which brings me to these two pages, and Will Everett's grandson Markus Clay carries on his legacy. Power Girl and Superman (an alternate-earth version, but that's neither here nor there) arrive in New Orleans to invite him to join the Justice Society. Click to enlarge:

I love everything about this. Clay's speech. His priorities. Superman and Power Girl's willingness to help. And getting that horrible barge out of the city I love. (Yes, it's real, although it's gone now.)

Justice Society of America is the perfect example of DC doing things right. Great job, all around.

(I also love the design of the starburst when Amazing Man uses his powers; when looked at just right, it's an "A." Neato.)

That's What I Like to See

Peter Tomasi really knows how to write Superman (click to enlarge):


Saturday, February 09, 2008

I Drank What?

Another random moment from Vegas:

The Bastard and I are playing craps, he at one side of the table, me at another. We're doing all right, and then a couple of former fratboys get on one side of me and some other guys put the squeeze on me from the right. They're both at the table, but only one of 'em's playing, and I'm finding my freedom of movement restricted. A cocktail waitress comes around and I order a gin and tonic.

A few minutes later, the waitress comes back around, and one of the fratboys has stolen my drink. She says she'll go back and get another, but meanwhile I'm losing, losing, losing. I step away from the table with two five dollar chips out of the hundred bucks I originally put down. And I'm fuming. No drink, no elbow room, no money.

"Sorry those douchebags left a bad taste in your mouth," says the Bastard while we wait for the waitress and my $90 G 'n' T.

I make a face. "Could you put that another way?" And then, trying to wrestle free of my mad-on, I borrow a buck to tip the waitress.

She comes back with my gin, I tip her, and she says, "Thank you so much." And suddenly I'm in a much better mood. Suddenly I feel like I can win again.

So the Bastard and I sidle up to our respective places, and I lay down another hundred bucks. The jerks to my right are replaced by an extremely superstitious guy who can do no wrong when he has the dice. And in the twenty minutes we have left before we have to meet our friends for dinner, I've made my money back, plus five dollars.

My name is Earl.


Fire All of Your Guns at Once and Explode Into Space

The Bastard has more up on the Big Gun Show, including a conversation we had about a flag-bedecked Jeep.


Friday, February 08, 2008

Genius! Genius, I tell you!

The Baboon casts Jonah Hex. Not much I can add; he's so right it hurts.


Like e.e. cummings on Speed, the Bastard Delivers the Goods

Behold! Jim the Bastard has many posts on the Big Show, and I shall put them at your fingertips, in all their mulletty glory! (Mulletnificence?)

Mullet preview.

Pre-show mullets.


A haunting?

A moment's pause.


Beautiful plumage on an endangered species.

As for me, not many photos on my end. But I've got a few stories coming up.


Stop Making Scents

Do you know that smell outside of Cinnabon? Where you can be walking through the mall, and be three stores down from the place, and still, even there, is that enticing smell that can draw you closer and closer until you're scarfing down a plateful of delicious dough and sugar that you regret eating halfway through? But oh, that smell. That wonderful smell.

Well, the smell from the men's room at the Big Show I was just at was the exact opposite of that. I've smelled better porta-potties. In fact, I think I could say that every porta-potty I've ever been in has smelled better than this awful corridor of stink. It smelled like shit people were eating shit just so they could shit it out again.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Before I Get to Vegas

I'd like to welcome a couple of new folks to to the sidebar. My pal Don has just started blogging with Sci-Fi Pie, and he's starting strong with reviews and musings on Solaris (both versions), Planet of the Apes, The Handmaid's Tale, and other stuff. Meanwhile, in the comics-oriented section of the sidebar, I'm (finally) linking to Shayna Marchese's webcomic Voids. So now you can read it, too, and be as perplexed by the mysterious little coincidences as I am. As an added bonus, now I have to search for it on Google every time I want to read the updates.


Back From Vegas

Regular posting should resume shortly. Sadly, I can't afford to hire a ghost-blogger, so you're stuck with me for another year.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Chop

I am slowly sawing off my own head. When I was shaving this morning, I noticed a very tender spot on the side of my neck. I can only surmise that the convention lanyard I wore all day yesterday has been rubbing against it, over and over again until its raw. It's either slow sawing or fast erosion.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

This Is Not My Beautiful House

I haven't worn my suit in a few months. I'm swimming in the pants -- the belt's the only thing keeping them up. Odds are even or better that I'll drop trou today.


Friday, February 01, 2008

Bump and (Slow) Grind

Flew into Vegas last night, arriving a little before 8 (or a little before 11, according to my body.) Ordered room service and watched the season premiere of Lost (didn't expect to see him least not so soon). 10 (or 1 a.m., my time) I went out for drinks with some coworkers and other industry folks. After some gin and some margaritas, most everyone called it a night -- except me and Wild Turkey (the co-worker, not the drink). We headed off to Mandalay Bay to see a burlesque show at Ivan Kane's Forty Deuce.

Overall, it was kinda disappointing. I was hoping for some old-time dixieland combo with the Burly-Q (sort of like the photo at left), but instead it was a rock band called Royal Jelly. (I should have checked the listings better -- Thursday was specifically the "rock & roll burlesque," so I should have known.) So instead of the dancing to the old-time stripper music I learned to play in 6th grade (seriously -- I had a trombone solo of "Basin Street Blues," possibly the stripperiest of stripper songs ever), we got to see a girl dance to "Girls Girls Girls" and "Once Bitten, Twice Shy." She was a good dancer, and fun to watch, no question. But the music was kind of a let-down, since you can hear Crue in almost any strip club in America. At least is wasn't "Pour Some Sugar On Me," which The Daily Show called "the National Anthem of Stripclubistan."

But the thing that really killed the night was the pace. We got there just as the band was leaving the stage. The bartenders took down a platform they were using to perform. Then... leisurely... they installed a pole on the bar. Then, after a bit of a wait, the dancer came out and dance to her two songs. More dancing than stripping, she was dressed sexy from the start and stayed that way, just losing a ripped teeshirt along the way, revealing a spangly bra. And then she left the stage.

And then we waited.

And waited.

And then the bartenders took the pole down.

And then we waited some more.

And more.

Had another beer.

People-watched. There was a redhead in the corner who looked like the insanely lovely Kari Byron from Mythbusters. No dice, though.

The bartenders put the platform back, checked some attached lights.

And we waited.

I asked a bartender, and he assured me that there'd be more dancing.

So we waited.

The guitarist came out.

Then the drummer.

Then the bassist.

The did a bit of a sound check.

And then they started playing Aerosmith's "Walk This Way." It was kind of a reverse karaoke -- they were playing their instruments, but they were piping in Steven Tyler's vocal track. And then the dancers came out, dressed nearly identically in zippered, brightly colored sexiness. And it was SPECTACULAR. They were all good dancers, having a blast onstage, and eventually the topclothes came off, revealing hotpants with hearts on them and (frankly kinda weird) wiry bra-type things. There was wild applause as they left the stage before the song finished. Then the band wrapped up the song, getting some more applause (but a little less hearty).

And then they put their instruments down, and left the stage.

And the bartenders dismantled the platform.

And Wild Turkey and I left (without me even talking to "Kari" as I'd planned to. Totally chickened out there -- but what would the point be, anyway?).

One song. That was it.

Still, it was a decent club, and there was no cover, and we had a good time. And it wasn't a strip club or anything, with the lapdances and dollar-by-dollar stripper extortion. But it also wasn't the good time we'd planned on.

But man... pick up the pace. Respect the momentum.



So I managed to make it to a weigh-in (if not a meeting) the night before leaving for Las Vegas, and, despite completely dropping the ball, program-wise, last week, I logged in a weight 1.2 pounds less than the week before. And, as any schoolchild knows, 1.2 pounds is roughly the weight of an enamel sign of a goose stealing a bar of soap from a lovely señora (who might be planning to eat it).

Of course, I'm in Vegas now, and that means steak and drinks and drinks and drinks and steak. So really, this just establishes a baseline for my inevitable decline.

Other weight news -- I washed my new jeans for the first time, and put them on again, and they seemed to be a little more snug (but not too much, thank god). But for once, I could say with certainty that they shrank -- I'd just lost a soap-stealing goose, for chrissakes, so It Ain't Me, It's the Jeans.