Friday, May 30, 2008


I just saw a pdf of the first couple pages of my comic fully lettered.

This is a very good moment.


U.S. "Succeeding Brilliantly" in Iraq, sez Cheney

In other news:

(Yes, he really said that.)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Letter to Dunkin Donuts

Skippy's right: It's time to fight fire with fire.

Here's what I wrote. I didn't feel the need to summarize the whole brouhaha, and got right to the heart of the matter:

Just a quick note to let you know that I won't be buying any Dunkin Donuts coffee or doughnuts until your company publicly apologizes for knuckling under to ridiculous pressure from Michele Malkin, implying that all Arabs who wear a kaffeyeh (all Arabs, really, is Malkin's point) are terrorists or endorse terrorism. Pulling the Rachel Ray ad due to Malkin's stink was the worst kind of cowardly, and stupid and offensive besides. Malkin exists to drive wedges between people; by playing into her hands, your company has implicitly agreed that Arabs should rightly be suspected of terrorism.

I know in my heart that's not what you meant to do; you simply meant to avoid controversy. But sometimes controversy seeks you out, and a publicity hound like Malkin is always willing to target an innocent company for her own ends. I'm sure you'll get many letters like this one, so at this point, there's no avoiding the controversy. The only question is, which side of it are you on? Do you side with Malkin and her fear-mongering, or are you willing to stand up against the fear and distrust she engenders?


Rob Staeger

P.S. I haven't seen the powdered vanilla creme-filled doughnuts in my local store for a while. Have they been discontinued? If you do apologize for this misstep, could you bring them back?

If you want to write to Dunkin Donuts, here's their contact form.


Dear Dunkin' Donuts

Seriously? Knuckling under to Michele Malkin? What are you, idiots?

What does Helga think?

Yeah, me too.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Caught the Westbound

Folk troubadour, raconteur and activist Utah Phillips died last week. The Times has an obituary.

Hallelujah, he was a bum... and when he sang, it was easy to remember that we all are: We all need a handout, a leg up, or someone to stand by us sometimes. He was always a good friend to those in need.

Rest in peace, Utah. We'll miss you at Fest.


Saved: The Aisle Seat

MightyGodKing reminds me of something I already knew: Saved! is a really cool movie. I should see it again one of these days. (And I should check out more of his recommendations, come to think of it; I doubt Kathy would be upset if Nick of Time showed up in the mailbox...)

UPDATE: And he's dead right about Beautiful Girls, too.


Best. Episode. Ever.

Kathy, flipping through the Tivo menu, tells me, "Unboxed has Sweeney Todd."

Amazon has a downloadable movie service through Tivo called Unboxed. This doesn't occur to me.

No, I'm thinking Kathy's talking about one of my least favorite Food Network shows, Unwrapped -- essentially footage of food traveling on conveyor belts through machines that mix it, mold it and wrap it. You've seen one, you've seen 'em all. And one is more than enough.

But I swear, if they ever did an episode on Mrs Lovett's Meat Pies -- I'd watch that in a heartbeat.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

It All Makes Sense Now

The glaringly obvious was pointed out to me in this week's Lying in the Gutters column: Steven Moffat, the writer responsible for the most intense and time-twisty episode of Doctor Who I've ever seen, "Blink,"

is also the writer of the excellent British sitcom Coupling, which routinely plays games with pacing and order of presentation to virtuoso effect.

Quentin Tarantino, eat yer heart out.


OMG Drama!

Ragnell and Kalinara have been have been really stressed lately, so they kick the shit out of a poster for asking a question.

I think it was the "Thanks" that did it. That's so out of line.


Teh Awesome

Movie stills don't often geek me out.

This one did.

From AICN, a photograph of the 1940s precursor to the Watchmen, the Minutemen.


Monday, May 26, 2008


After some preliminary experimentation, I'm beginning to believe I like margaritas made with freshly squeezed oranges and lemons better than those with freshly-squeezed limes.

This calls for further study.


Walking With the Big Dogs

Went on a nice hike through Alair State Park yesterday -- me in my new boots, Kathy in hers. It's an easy walk -- there are some uphill slopes, but when I looked in the guidebook and saw the word moderate (even as in "easy to moderate") I nearly laughed out loud. A comfortable, relaxing walk.

We crossed paths with two women walking their dogs. Two of the dogs were big -- one was a husky of some sort, and the other was equally brawny. A third dog, a chihuahua, trotted along beside them.

I thought about the gorp we had in our fanny pack. It's good to bring along a snack.


Return of the Niño

The second part of Chris Eliopoulos's webcomic, The Bravest Niño, is up at Top Shelf 2.0. It's all-ages, and mighty cute. There's other good stuff there, too--Leaning Rabbit gave me a big grin, for instance, and URAQT is a great (somewhat adult) one-pager--but for some reason this story about a little boy and his furiously hot peppers has touched my heart.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

My Reach Exceeds My Rasp

I have no voice.

I spent yesterday afternoon talking -- well, it turns out, shouting -- in a noisy bar. And then last night in a Mediterranean restaurant, chatting the night away and watching a friend belly dance. It was a great night, but my throat is wrecked.

And I hardly even notice. I've posed on message boards, comment on blogs, and posted on my own blogs as well, and it doesn't even occur to me. I'm communicating just fine... or no worse than I usually do, anyway.

But then I go say hi to my wife, or make a phone call, and this inhuman croak comes out of my head. It surprises me every time. At this point, I can't even sing along with Tom Waits.

(He got himself a homemade special...)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I Finally Saw Walk Hard

The management of this blog encourages you to do the same.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Webs Woven

It's not enough to write a book anymore... there's a whole lot of ancillary promotion that goes along with it, and much of that is online.

Which means I can link to it.

Neil Gaiman's upcoming Graveyard Book has a new website up. It's got an interview with Neil, some illustrations by Dave McKean, and certainly there's more to come.

I've also been spending time at Jeri-Smith Ready's website for WVMP, the radio station where her vampires deejay. Out of all the deejay playlists, I surprised myself by going to Regina's first -- the only one more unlikely would be Shane's 90s mix -- but I've also been enjoying Monroe's, and am looking foreward to giving Spencer's and Jim's a listen.

So. Two websites to check out. Some good music to listen to. What're you hanging around here for?

(Oh, hell, now I'm on Shane's... I've had a jones to hear Morphine's "Buena" for a week now, and there it is...)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

No Neck Joe

Slept wrong last night. My neck has been killing me all day. I've got tilt, but not much rotate. I have to turn my entire body to see very far to either side. You should have seen me backing out of my parking spot tonight.

It reminded me of No Neck Joe, that lovable neckless kid who was constantly being teased by cruel bullies. I can't find any videos on YouTube (neither can the animator), but there's one on MetaTube. Hopefully this will explain to Kathy why I'll shout "No! Neck! Joe!" on odd occasions.

Poor little No Neck Joe.


Flat Interview

Over the course of three days, I watched Interview with Steve Buscemi (who also directed) and Sienna Miller. Buscemi plays Pierre, a reporter who'd rather be covering politics than interviewing Katya, a flavor-of-the-month starlet; Miller plays the starlet. Because of a coincidental car accident that makes the movie possible, Pierre winds up in Katya's apartment, and they have an evening of conversation in which each of them twists the truth a bit here and there.

I saw the "twist" ending -- something one character has assumed, and another is hiding -- from a mile away, so it lacked a certain amount of punch. And when all you've got are two characters in a room? You need punch.

Interview is based on a Theo van Gogh film, and there are apparently some differences in the ending. It's never bad--Miller and Buscemi both seem believable characters, if ultimately cyphers--but I was expecting more intensity. As it was, I stopped the movie twice before I finished it (which admittedly killed some of the momentum it would have built otherwise, but if it had enough momentum in the first place I'd never have turned it off).



An important announcement:





Seriously—I stopped hibernating for this? Wake me when it's not March anymore.

(Consider this an open thread to gripe about this damp, chilly, gray. mood-altering weather that would make any self-respecting groundhog shit his pants and die.)


Monday, May 19, 2008

Okay, now they're trying to make me laugh

Here's the latest in a series of horrible covers for DC's Titans comic: Here, pretzel-loving Princess Koriand'r notices a few stray crumbs on the corner of Nightwing's mouth.

This cover is somewhat better than Joe Benitez's recent efforts, but ugh just the same. For Christ's sake, someone rob a bank or something. Anything to stop the kissing.

(Curious to what the inside of this book's like? Kevin Huxford documents the atrocities of issue 2. Not for the faint of heart or the sharp of vision.)


Friday, May 16, 2008


Top Shelf comics launched its Top Shelf 2.0 webcomics site today. Check out Chris Eliopolis's all-ages comic, The Bravest Niño. A tale of one little boy and the hottest peppers in the world. I'm in. (There's much more there, but this grabbed my attention first.)


My New Favorite Superhero Costume

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you The Most Excellent Superbat!

Yes, it's ugly as hell.

And I know it's ugly as hell. It's a ridiculous amalgamation of Superman's and Batman's costumes by a Japanese superhero. But look at that yellow.

In the margins of the Final Crisis Sketchbook, there's a note from artist J.G. Jones explaining that the shapes are the shapes used in the negative space in Superman's stylized "S" design. But it doesn't explicitly state why they're used.

He's Japanese. The S has no literal meaning for him. It's just a shape. The space around it are just shapes. And to those hero-worshipping kids (and perhaps much of the DCU's Japan), those are the shapes that symbolize Superman.

And as butt-ugly as it is, the solid thinking underpinning this costume impresses the hell out of me.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Lucky Day

I bought an Ozomatli album from Amazon, and I was able to pull that annoying sticky tape from the edge completely off in one try! I will never get this lucky again.

Now to listen.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I'm an Idiot!

Here I thought it was the 14th, and I was late, as is my custom and my royal prerogative. But I was actually right on time, since today is, according to the Julian calendar, May 13.

Now I'm gonna bang my head against that calendar, and thank my lucky stars it's not a stone one like the Mayans used.


It's May 14th!

Which means it's the day I thought Jeri Smith-Ready's new novel, Wicked Game, was released. Yes, I could have checked her website and learned that it was coming on the 13th, but instead, I relied on my gut. Which tells me all sorts of things that do me no good, so I don't know why I pay it any attention at all. (Of course novels are released on Tuesdays, it said. Just like CDs and DVDs...)

Anyway, here's the skinny: I've read it, but only (so far) in a prior draft. So what I can tell you is that it's very good, but I have know way of knowing how good it is for real until I read the finished product. Until then, it's Schroedinger's book: One set of pages is pretty darn good, and the other is outrageously awesome. I'm guessing that once it's opened it'll be a lot closer to the second than the first (although, despite how awesome it may be, I doubt you will actually be outraged).

One thing that I know hasn't changed is the concept, and it's a great one: There's a radio station whose DJs are all vampires. Each one plays the music popular at the time he or she "died" -- they're culturally frozen in those time periods, creating some authentic late-night radio.

Problem is, it's not paying the bills, and a predatory cookie-cutter media conglomerate is going to buy the place for peanuts... which will kick the vamps to the curb, depriving them of the one thing that gives their lives focus. Enter Ciara, a recovering conwoman who decides to help the station market itself by hiding the vamps in plain sight. She uses the vampirism as a marketing angle (because who'd believe it?) and turns the station into WVMP: The Lifeblood of Rock 'n' Roll. (Seriously. I have a logo mug, and mugs don't lie.) And while the marketing starts to do its magic, some folks aren't happy about it...including a cadre of older, more ruthless vampires. And when vampires aren't happy about something, they don't send sternly worded letters to the local paper. They start ripping out throats.

Jeri's doing a ton of promotion for the book -- including lots of signings, blog interviews, and posting a cool-as-hell soundtrack to the book on her website. Go pick up a copy and give it a read. It's a good'n.

UPDATE: I meant to add this last night, but it was ridiculous o'clock and it slipped my mind: You can read Chapter 1 online, and can get up-to-date info and harrowing tales of travel on Jeri's blog.

UPDATE 2: I'm an idiot. And it only took me 17 hours to notice!


Monday, May 12, 2008

Count the Rings

Did you ever wonder how many things are younger than John McCain?

Just about all of them, it looks like.


Mama Jamma

One other thing about this weekend's Celtic Fair: I bumped into an old friend from my newspaper days. Diane's working for the Pottstown Mercury now, and is also blogging about her experiences as a mother on her blog The Mommy Diaries. And rather than wait 364 more days to direct you to her site, I thought I'd extend Mother's Day for another hour and do it now.

So happy Mother's Day to all the moms I know. Sorry I'm late. (I know at least one mom who isn't surprised by that.)


I take delight in the juice of the barley

So a few days ago my coworkers and I were in a self-styled "Irish" pub in New York, listening to standard-issue bar rock, when a song came over the speakers that I realized was the first legitimately Irish tune I'd heard in the place. I couldn't place the melody for a few days (It was modern instrumentation, made into pretty much just another rock song), but I finally realized it was the traditional tune "Whiskey in the Jar."

I've got a couple copies of the song in my collection; the one I've listened to most was recorded by Roger McGuinn and Tommy Makem. But here's a traditional version performed by the Dubliners.

Of course, that's not the first version I found online. That's this more modern version by Metallica, proving that the song still entertains. This version is much harder-driving, and I like it quite a bit. (The video is heavy-metal drunken-girl-party, complete with some pixelated toplessness and a slo-mo pillowfight for one scene. This might either enhance or detract from your viewing experience, but the song's worth a listen either way.)

Some of the lyrics have changed (the girl in the song is Jenny, traditionally -- but Metallica goes with Molly, and I think the Thin Lizzy arrangement they modeled their song on goes with Molly too), and in one instance, I like Metallica's (and Thin Lizzy's) quite a bit. The original ends with:

Now some men take delight in the drinking and the roving,
But others take delight in the gambling and the smoking.
But I take delight in the juice of the barley,
And courting pretty fair maids in the morning bright and early

Which is cool, and on-topic. But I can't help liking:

Now some men like the fishin', but some men like the fowlin'
Some men like to hear, to hear the cannonballs a-roarin'
But me, I like sleepin', `specially in my Molly's chamber
But here I am in prison, here I am with a ball and chain, yeah

(Huntin', fishin', fightin' and sleepin'? It's like I never left work.)

An aside: Years ago, we were at a friend's wedding reception--a dry one because it was held in the community area of a church. And yet, there was dancing, and in my experience dance floors rarely reach capacity without a little help from John Barleycorn. So, having brought a bottle with us (but not into the church), we would ever so often sneak out for a nip, singing, "whack for the daddy-o, there's whiskey in the car."

Anyway, whatever the lyrics, I'm impressed that the song still entertains so many different audiences.

Got another opportunity to hear it this weekend at the Phoenixville Celtic Street Fair with friends Jay & Nicole. (Jay took the picture of the pipers I've posted here.) The Bogside Rogues played a terrific, energetic version of it (their whole set was a lot of fun), and I got to drink some Smithwicks as well. Nothing wrong with that.


Friday, May 09, 2008

This Dog Loves Me

Seriously. He had my ear in his mouth at least a dozen times. He'd better love me.

And yet he doesn't call... Sharkey, where are ya, boy?

(Photo taken while listening to the Dirty Dozen Brass Band play a free concert in Lafayette Square in New Orleans two weeks ago. I really do have photos and stories and such...)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

How is it I'm just finding out about this?

If this ridiculously bloody movie trailer featuring a girl with a machine-gun arm is not safe for work...'re working in the wrong place, baby.

(Thanks, Sims!)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Heads You Lose

Atrios posted today about the supposed political dangers of eliminating the penny -- and in his post, he mentions the "dreaded Big Penny lobby."

Atrios, it's not just a lobby, its an entire Batcave. And it's also got a mechanical T-Rex in it. (Don't worry; they fixed it.) So yeah, "dreaded" seems appropriate.


Dude, Where's My Weapons System?

Kathy & I saw Iron Man last night. It was outstanding. I don't know if I've ever seen a better super-hero movie. It didn't really even feel like a super-hero movie — it felt like an action movie. A really good action movie.

As most of you probably know, the main baddie, Obadiah Stane, is played by the one and only Jeff Bridges. And in one scene where Gwyneth Paltrow was downloading hidden files from his computer, sharp-eyed Kathy noticed a nifty easter egg. One of the files was labeled "J. Lebowski". (I was later able to confirm it here.)


Tuesday, May 06, 2008


There's a Julia Roberts movie, Duplicity, filming outside our offices.

How 'bout that?


There Is a House In New Orleans

...that serves biegnets all night long.

Plus, catfish po-boys, smoked sausage po-boys with chili gravy, the ubiquitous cochon de lait, oysters, crawfish (piles of 'em!), muffuletta, Hubig's pies, Zapp's chips, and all that. Plus a week of slacking afterward. All of that has left me with a 6.6 pound gain.

I'd gulp, but that's what got me into this mess.

How big is 6.6 pounds?

It's big enough to turn this Toshiba video-game tester into Dark Helmet.

May the schwartz be with me.


Monday, May 05, 2008

Oil Can?

This video tribute to a dead robot made my day 100 percent brighter.

Oh, and since I'm linkin', I should really direct your attention to this awesome interview Ami posted.


Saturday, May 03, 2008

Live from Jazzfest

AT&T has a live webcast of Jazzfest going on right now (and tomorrow). Right now, I'm watching the Zac Brown Band's closing song of their set. A couple of minutes ago they segued into a really nice version of Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic." Good stuff.

UPDATE: Ooh! Irma Thomas now! (Although I just realized this isn't actually live...she played last weekend. But she's singing "Ruler of My Heart," so who cares?)


Friday, May 02, 2008

Of course, of course.

Okay, so I haven't gotten around to moving the photos onto the computer yet. It won't happen tonight, either. So I might as well talk about something I don't have photos of -- for no good reason, actually, because they'd be something you'd want to see, and I might have even had my camera with me at the time. So, first things first: Ball dropped. Sorry.

Second thing: Miniature horses! On Bourbon Street!

We first saw them when we were coming back from a little grocery store with rum, vodka and the world's best candy, Lemonheads. Paul saw some guys in cowboy hats from afar, walking their dogs. Then we rounded a corner, and we realized the cowboys were actually walking small horses... one about waist high, the other about two thirds its size. They zipped around the corner on leashes and were gone. When we got back to the hotel, we told Beth about it (she hadn't been with us) and she thought we were putting her on.

That is, until we saw them again and had a lengthy conversation with their owners. I forget one of the horses' names (the male was named Rowdy), and never got the cowboys', but the story goes like this: Years ago, the guys were still in the grieving process when their dog died at three years old. Somehow, they stumbled across information about these small horse breeds, including one crucial fact: They live to be around 45 years old. Having just lost the Dude, I can see how a fact like that could seem like a lifeline. Still, they had no intention of getting one -- they were just interesting curiosities.

Until one of the cowboys brought a horse home with him without warning the other. And they fell in love with him. A few months ago, they got a second one.

The horses are easy to take care of -- the cowboys said they cost about $10 a month to feed (Purina Horse Chow), and they stay in the yard and on the first floor of their house. One has even learned to use the toilet (although not to flush). And a walk around the French Quarter (they're Quarter horses, see?) keeps their hooves sanded down.

Rowdy, the smaller of the two horses, was male... at times, obviously so. Really obviously. Like I-was-worried-he'd-drag-it-on-the-cement obviously. The cowboys said that Rowdy didn't recognize size as a romantic obstacle. He'd get a whiff of a full-size female police horse, and suddenly he'd be rearing up and ready to go. Just gimme a boost, man! I can do this!

The horses were really friendly animals, accepting pets from countless, sometimes nervous, strangers. Their masters were every bit as nice. Sure wish I had a photo to show you.

But if you don't believe me, believe Beth. She saw 'em too.

(Actually, judging from a comment on this Youtube video, the other horse's name is Autumn, and one of the cowboys' names is Scott.)