Thursday, July 31, 2008

Get Your Ass To Mars

Seriously. There's water and everything. Can three-titted hookers be far behind?

(Thanks to Mike S., who gave me the heads up and the post title!)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In case you're wondering

(And I still get searches on it, so you very well might be.) I'm still the number-one Google choice for "Rick Springfield dentures."


In the City of the Mountain King

I had some time to watch a movie last night, and pulled Fritz Lang's M from the shelf. It's the story of a child-killer in 1930s Germany, starring Peter Lorre in his breakout role. But really, Lorre's character, Hans Beckert, is almost incidental throughout most of the film. He's a man in shadows, or signified only by his own cast shadow and the playful tune he whistles (perhaps nervously, or perhaps in barely contained delight) as he stalks his young victims: "In the Hall of the Mountain King," from Peer Gynt. The real story is going on in the city in the grip of the fear the murders create.

Parents are terrified. Cops are baffled. Criminals are angry; the killings are bringing the cops down harder on every other type of crime as they try to uncover the murderer. People are desperate; eventually the crooks band together to find the murderer themselves, just to get the heat off their other crimes.

At one point, an old man is accosted on the street because he dared to tell a little girl the time when she asked him for it. Everyone is suspect, and a mob can form in an instant.

It's this feeling of fear that permeates the movie. People are scared, and they have to do something, even if there's no sensible basis for their actions.

The Dark Knight has a similar baseline of public dread. Heath Ledger's Joker terrorizes Gotham City with seemingly motiveless crimes of great violence. He pits people against each other, and uses their own better instincts against them. He actively tries to make them complicit in his crimes. At one point, after killing a mob boss, he breaks a pool cue in half. He tells the dead men's bodyguards that he's got room in his organization, but only room for one of them. Then he drops the sharp end of the cue on the ground between them.

It's the Joker's unpredictability that makes him terrifying, and he uses it ruthlessly. And Gotham responds by turning on Batman, demanding he unmask on the chance that the Joker would keep his promise to end things once he did. Or they try to assassinate someone because the Joker brutally makes it doing so seem for the greater good. Cops betray their duty, and their friends. All from fear.

It's important to remember, as the days of heightened terror alerts return like swallows to Capistrano, that we tend not to make the best decisions when we're afraid. President Roosevelt said something to that effect. Do not fear. In the end, when we confront it, the monster that terrified us becomes a weak, craven man pleading for his life.

Do not fear. There is no Mountain King.


Roll Credits

Roger Ebert reminisces about the long run of Siskel & Ebert and Ebert & Roeper. And, at the end, posts a couple of YouTube clips of he and Gene Siskel sniping at each other and also joking around. I'll miss the show, but man, watching those old videos reminds me how much I miss their partnership and arguments.

Thanks to both of them for helping me love movies as much as I do.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm What's For Dinner

Let's get literal: I went to my meeting today and registered a loss of 2.0 pounds. That's a sizeable hunk of meat, although considerably more fatty than this 2-pound bison sirloin steak.

And yes, I'm inspired to post mostly to move the video below this from the top of my blog.


Now THAT's Commitment!

I'm posting this at the insistence of some friends:

Create Your Own

I expect to have nightmares until this leaves my front page.


In My (Humble?) Opinion

I've never come out and said it, but as Internet abbreviations go, IMHO really sticks in my craw.

It's useful, certainly. While pretty much everything on this here electronic garbage-chute is opinion, it's nice (and polite) to point it out every now and then.

But I don't think it's particularly humble. And by explicitly saying it's humble... well, it feels even less humble, if that makes any sense. The humble seems to draw attention to itself, like obsequious groveling. Every time I see it—that dreaded H—I think, "Did I suddenly get minions? Cool beans! Do my dishes, Lackey!" You all might just see an H, but I see a studded dog collar and ball gag.

This is probably just me. But I really do think you're entitled to your opinion, and there's no reason to be humble about it. But probably people see my "IMO," conspicuously lacking the H, and exclaim, "Who does he think he is? His opinion is humble, and I must crush him until he knows it as such."

Maybe I've read too many comics with Doctor Doom in them.

(Seriously. Do my dishes.)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Oh, Dear. Is There an Election Coming Up?

What a surprise: The terror alert goes to "heightened."

I really miss trusting the government, even the little bit that I used to.


Art School Confidential

We went to the Met with some friends yesterday, and I saw a painting from c. 1540 that was officially titled "Portrait of a Man in a Fur-Trimmed Coat," but which is obviously better known as:


Quote of the Day

It's been a while since Garth Ennis impressed me this much, but this is a line from last week's Dan Dare #7. The character, Britain's Home Secretary, is talking about England.. and a futuristic England at that. But her words certainly resonate beyond the outer-space war story Ennis and Gary Erskine are telling:

"God knows we've enough in our history to be ashamed of, but it doesn't matter if you lie about it like the Right, or wallow in the guilt of it like the Left: Eventually you make the past a place that people can't be bothered with.

And then the nation's heart rots out, because the good we've done evaporates along with the bad."
Plus: Big spaceship battles, and electrified swords.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Some Things You Just Can't Make Up

Ladies and gentlemen, Dabel Bros. is putting out a Warriors comic book, adapting the 1979 movie with awesome themed gangs.

The Dabels plan to adapt the movie first, and then create spinoff stories focusing on characters from the movie.
In other news: The Warriors has characters. Who knew?


Batman: The Brave and the Bold

March, 2009.

It looks much lighter than recent Batman shows (to say nothing of the new movie!) -- and man, is it ice cream to me. And that theme music!


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Flash: Rebirth



Alan Moore Knows the Score

And now he needn't be the only one. You can play, too!

It's like someone at DC and Warners realized that it's actually impossible for Moore to be madder at them than he has been for years. Might as well go for broke.


Blue Death Star of Kentucky

Comic Book Resources is liveblogging the San Diego con.

As if you couldn't tell.


Chin, Teeth, Ears

Dalo Olopade at The Root has a fascinating—if a little short—look at the evolution and missteps of political cartoonists' caricatures of Barack Obama, and where they'll likely go from here. Politics AND cartooning? It's like ice cream to me.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Zero Point Six

I lost 0.6 pounds this last week.

Precisely the weight of this bong, which I did not smoke from, and the munchies, which I therefore did not get.

Stay clean, kids! A quarter-ounce in the pipe, a pound on the scale.

(And knowing is half the battle!)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hey, Mom.

Welcome back from vacation. Thanks for renting that big beach house; I only wish Kathy & I had been able to stay longer than two short days.

But mostly, I wanted to point out to you my friend Mike's blog. He's a pastor of a Baptist church in Virginia, and I think you'll really like what he writes. I've been meaning to give you the link for a while now, and figured what the heck, today's the day.


Don't Know Much About...

Asked by ABC's Diane Sawyer Monday morning whether the "the situation in Afghanistan in precarious and urgent," McCain responded:

"I think it's serious. . . . It's a serious situation, but there's a lot of things we need to do. We have a lot of work to do and I'm afraid it's a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the Iraq/Pakistan border," said McCain, R-Ariz., said on "Good Morning America."

Shouldn't John McCain know that Iraq doesn't share a border with Pakistan?


Chiang's Angels

These are Awesome.

Yes, they are.


San Diego Serenade

Man, I'm not even going to the San Diego con, and already I'm exhausted from the pre-show coverage. My comics news sites and blogs tend to speak of nothing but (with the exception of The Dark Knight, which I'm still avoiding spoilers for), and it's even on the cover (and taking up a large chunk) of this week's Entertainment Weekly. What's a geek to do when the whole world has gone geeky?

Anyway, San Diego blah blah blah, San Diego blah blah blah. Yes, we have your candy, but it's 3,000 miles away and it'll cost you thousands of dollars and you'll have to wade through a sea of armpits to get it.

I've included the above paragraph to leave you with no doubt that I am calling delicious geek-grapes sour, and am telling myself they taste much sweeter online.

(But best thread so far? Blog@Newsarama's thread about Boom! Studio's decision to turn their too-close-to-cancel drink-up at the gay-marriage-opposing Hyatt into a drink-up/gay pride party. An elegant solution to a PR nightmare.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bright and Manycolored

Photographer (and pal) John Welsh has been setting flowers on fire... with some pretty amazing (and amazingly pretty) results. Go see.



Kristen Schall keeps on getting better and better on The Daily Show. Here's a great clip from last night where she makes like Joan Embry on The Tonight Show.

I also think she's got a little bit of Gilda Radnor's Emily Litella in her source of humor (certainly a fine pedigree). It's such a cute confusion, but more about the details than the whole premise of what she's upset about.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Drama of Inevitability

I feel surrounded by inevitability, and the weight of history. Or at least, that’s what my entertainment is telling me.

For the past few days, I’ve been watching The Battle of Algiers, a 1966 film by Gillo Pontecorvo (who also directed Burn!) about the Algerian uprising and war that eventually drove the French from the country. It’s shot in black and white, and looks almost like a documentary. The movie is more concerned with the movement of cultures than characters, and what is essentially the birth of terrorism as we know it.

Meanwhile, I’ve been listening to The Archivist’s Story, by Travis Holland, about a disgraced professor in 1939 Russia—a man charged with destroying the unpublished manuscripts of blacklisted and imprisoned writers, who smuggles a short story out of the prison walls.

Both stories have a hopelessness and an inevitability about them—Algiers on a global level, and Archivist on a personal level. The archivist, Pavel, is essentially the lead in a prison drama: Even though he leaves the prison every night, the whole of his country has become a police state, and he can’t even have dinner with a friend without paranoia. Beyond that, his personal life is deteriorating. His wife is dead and her remains are missing in the bureaucracy, his best friend (and father figure) is heading for dire political trouble, and most tragically, his mother is beginning to have blackouts and showing signs of neurological problems. Nothing, it seems, will come to a good end. He has a burgeoning, tentative romance with his building manager, another damaged soul. Maybe, maybe, he’ll be able to draw a little joy from this. But how can he trust anyone in this place? Maybe the only thing he can trust is the words he has risked everything to smuggle out.

In The Battle of Algiers, nothing seems to slow the growing cycle of terrorism and retaliation, sometimes misdirected. French police are shot. An off-duty captain gathers some men and blows up a suspect’s house. The Muslim section of town (called “The Casbah”) is cordoned off. In the most riveting scene of the film, three women have dyed their hair and westernized their outfits, in order to pass the checkpoints more easily. They’re given destinations, and bomb components for their handbags. They meet an explosive expert in a warehouse, who sets up the devices and tells them they have a half hour to set them. And off they go, to a bar, to a teeny-bopper hangout, to an airport.

The woman at the bar is beautiful; a man offers her his chair. She sits, sipping a soda, looking around the bar. There are businessmen there, and couples on dates. A little boy licks an ice cream cone. You can see her realize—or maybe I’m just projecting, but it’s an easy projection to make—that she is moving from revolutionary to murderer. And there’s something heartbreaking about her standing up and leaving, sliding her handbag under the bar with her foot. It’s like history hinged on that moment—that fictional moment, or fictionalized, at least—and since then there have been no choices.

Of course, that’s an illusion. There are always choices to make, and so many of us make the right ones. But when we fall, the earth quakes beneath us.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Popeye the sailor man is heading for the coast. See you tomorrow night.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Long Story Short, I Poisoned Myself

So I poisoned myself. How was your day?

Last night I noticed, as I started to work on a new D&D character, that I was having trouble focusing on the high-contrast character sheet. So I cleaned my glasses. It needs to be done every week or two, I find. Strangely enough, it had little effect.

So I went to the mirror to check out my eyes. And WHOA! The pupil of my right eye was ENORMOUS! Left eye was fine, right eye, enormous. Hmm. (Well, hmm, and yikes!)

Nevermind the yellow.. that's from the optometrist's drops. But look at those pupils!
(Click to embiggen.)

So I went upstairs and pulled up my handy-dandy version of this here internet, and what did I find? Well, a lot of things, but the very first was the suggestion that I was having a stroke.

I didn't feel like I was having a stroke. I did little exercises with my fingers and toes, with the expected results. No tingling, no slurred speech. I looked further online... and there was a suggestion that it might be panic-related, or caused by a blow to my head. And I was panicking--a writer was way over deadline and I wasn't able to get in touch with him, and we ship the magazine next week--so that seemed like a possibility. There was no blow to my head that I could recall... but could the very lack of memory of the impact be proof of its existence? I was going in circles. Also, a few sites mentioned yard work.

And well, I had done yard work yesterday, too, cutting back the jungle that had been hanging over the driveway all summer. I felt like Indiana Jones every time I went out to my car.

So I gave it some thought, and seeing how I was exhibiting no other symptoms of a stroke or any other neuorological tomfoolery, decided to not see the doctor until today. But, to be on the safe side, I wrote a note to Kathy, explaining what was going on, telling her I love her, and documenting my symptom and its progress in case Dr. House asked.

Then I went to bed, hoping it would be gone by the time I woke up.

No such luck. So I went into work and called my optometrist for an appointment this afternoon. She refered me to another doctor who would be open by the time I got home, and they refered me to their New York City branch, which happened to be four blocks away from where I work. So I left early (summer Fridays) and walked on over.

The doctor went through all sorts of possibilities, and methodically eliminated the possibility that it was neurological. (This was a looooong visit. The only doctor I've ever spent more continuous time with is one I play D&D with.) We talked about the yard work, and she mentioned belladonna, a plant 1930s starlets used to grind up and put drops of in their eyes to make them sparkle -- which, physiologically, meant dilating their pupils. The doctor's staff was doing internet searches on possible culprit plants. Eventually we concluded that, by process of elimination, it had to be one of the plants in my driveway--probably the pricklyburr, which Kathy & I knew to be toxic. (Another name for belladonna is nightshade, and the pricklyburr flowers open at night, so I thought there could be a connection there.) The toxin to look for, said the doctor, was atropine.

And sure enough...

Pricklyburr contains atropine!

Mystery solved. Poisoner found. And my googly eye should calm down in a few days.


P.S. You can draw your own conclusions about the virtues of yardwork.

By Crom!

I had no idea they were even making a new Conan movie...

Let alone that pal Tom Donnelly is one of the writers. Way to go, Tom!


Thursday, July 10, 2008

"I don't like playing the race card, but..."

I shouldn't be shocked by this, I really shouldn't. But I was flabbergasted this morning at what Staten Island resident Lorraine Marino said when interviewed by WNYC on the possibility of her district going Democratic on Barack Obama's coattails. Here's what she said.

I'm just afraid of the feeling, the rise of power that would happen in the more impoverished communities. I mean, you see what happens when there's some sort of crazy fallout in Madison Square Garden against boxers. You know what I mean? I just don't want - I don't like playing the race card but I don't want them to feel more empowered than they're beginning to feel. (laughs) If you want me to be honest.
(You can listen here... it's at 3:17 of the story. Transcript here.)

That word you're looking for, Ms. Marino? It's not "empowered." It's "uppity."



Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Rachelle at Living Between Wednesdays is getting married. And to celebrate, she's posted 30 Lois Lane covers about that very thing.

Best wishes to the happy couple!


Losin' It!

Despite the holiday weekend (cookout! shrimp boil! rampant alcohol consumption!), I managed to shave a couple more ounces off... or at least, I managed to attend my meeting in shorts this week, so it looked like I lost a little weight. Zero point four pounds, in fact! Just the weight of this plush sugar glider toy.

Mmm... sugar glider...

If only they made a sugar-and-cinnamon glider...


The Future Is Open, Charlie Brown

Mike Sterling has been collecting and posting about the different ways people have imagined the Peanuts gang growing up, and I have to say, as many times as I've laughed at Eric Schwartz's song, "Charliesomething," it's this option by Peter Gillis that really gets to me.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Someone Get This Man a Ferret.

The AP sez he needs one.

"Seriously... a cute little guy with a pink nose."


Return of the Munchkin

Kevin asked if I ever received any response from my letter to Dunkin' Donuts. I did, almost immediately. Here's the (unsigned) letter they sent, dated June 2.

Thank you for sharing your comments. We always appreciate hearing from our customers. The intent of the online ad featuring Rachael Ray wearing a paisley silk scarf was to promote iced coffee. Given the surprising and truly unfortunate interpretation of this ad from some of our consumers, we decided to pull the ad and replace it with another as it is no longer serving its intended purpose, which was to simply promote our iced coffee---nothing more, nothing less.

At Dunkin' Donuts, we value all of our customers and remain steadfastly committed to making your experiences with us both memorable and pleasant. Thank you, again, for making us aware of your concerns; it is appreciated.

I didn't blog about it before because it gave me some mixed feelings. I felt at the time, and still do, that the proper response to Michele Malkin and her vicious crew is to say, "No. You people are idiots led by bullies, and we're not knuckling under."

At the same time, I understand where they're coming from. Once Malkin & Co. framed the image as Rachel Ray in a kaffeyeh, there was no getting around that that's how that ad would be viewed, both by the idiots who wanted to ban the ad and people like me who wanted to defend the ad. But Dunkin' Donuts doesn't buy ad time to stand up for freedom and diversity; very few companies do. They just want to sell their product.

While I would appreciate a stronger statement from Dunkin' Donuts along the lines of, "What are you, idiots?" I can't entirely fault them for pulling out of the fight altogether. I'm disappointed, but no longer angered. (At them, anyway. Malkin's ignorant fearmongering is a whole 'nother story.)

Except, a little bit with myself. The end of my letter to Dunkin' read: 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?

That's a little too much like the Bush "with us or against us" mentality for my tastes. The world isn't binary. We have more choices than that, and I'd do well to remember it. Even when I'm angry enough to give up doughnuts.


Monday, July 07, 2008


30 seconds, well spent.


Via Rachelle.

33 and a Third

So KTBuffy has posted her list of the NEA's top 100 books, and Jayananda and Sharon GR have done the same. So I figure, as long as the bandwagon is rolling, why not hop on?

Books I've read are in bold. Books I intend to read are in italics. Snarky comments are in snarkycomment sans serif.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (I've read two of the seven, maybe three. Someday, when people stop yapping about 'em, I'll probably read more. To my mind, there's such a thing as too much word of mouth.)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (One of the best books ever.)
6 The Bible (Yeah, eventually. At least the sexy parts.)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell (At this point, I wonder if it could tell us anything we haven't found out firsthand.)
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (Man, do I love A Tale of Two Cities, even if it took me two tries to finish it. So I should read more Dickens, certainly.)
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller (And if you think Orwell was prescient, Heller is prescient and hilarious. Until it becomes straight-up horror, that is.)
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (What? I don't get any credit for the 10-12 plays I've already read? Complete works, my ass. That's a cop-out. Pick one.)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier (I think I read this when I was a kid, in my read-anything-associated-with-Alfred-Hitchcock phase.)
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (See, Tolkien gets two slots, but Shakespeare only one? Jerks.)
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (Breaks my heart every time. Did you ever love me, Daisy?)
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck (Great book. Heck, all of Steinbeck is great. The Compleat Works of John Freakin' Steinbeck, ya hear me?!?!)
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (Oh, I've read three of the seven. That'll do. I'm bolding it, and you can't stop me.)
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen (I don't know why this has more appeal to me than Emma, but somehow it does.)
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (Wait a minute-- what the hell is this doing here, after #33? Who proofread this list???)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (Pooh!)
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell (Yeah, maybe I should read 1984. Because this freakin' rocks.)
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (Okay, you caught me.)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood (Complete works of Margaret Atwood wouldn't be a bad entry, either. This is the one that's most likely on the list, but my favorite is The Blind Assassin.)
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding (Piggy has the conch!)
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen (I think this is the one Jane Austen book I've read. I should read more, since she's a total list-hog and is crowding poor Willy Shakespeare out.)
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (That's the soap-opera I love!)
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (Hell yeah!)
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt (Seriously. Fucking. Good.)
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas (The Devil Sandwich!)
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker ("Your friend, D.")
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson (Bryson is terrific.)
75 Ulysses - James Joyce (sigh... I'll get right on it, i promise...)
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom (I am more likely to meet five people in heaven than I am to read this book.)
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (Can't remember much, but I know I read it in high school.)
92 The Little Prince- Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams (The most kick-ass bunnies ever -- including in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.)
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole (I *so* want to like this book, but it's hard when I don't want to spend time with any character in it.)
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute (no, but I read On the Beach...)
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (Huh? Shouldn't this be in the Compleat Works? Do I need to reread it? And they picked Hamlet over Lear? Huh.)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

(UPDATE: Alan M. informs me that 44 and 51 have been left off the list since time immemorial, but he discovered them on the original list and I put them in their respective positions. He also found this link about the murky origins and intentions of the list. Thanks, Alan!)

Following Up

The New York Times' David Carr on the Fox News Photoshopping.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

A Dream of Batman

I just had the most vivid comic book dream I've had in a long while, and I thought I'd use this opportunity to put you all to sleep by talking about it.

It's a Batman comic book, by the current Batman team: Grant Morrison writing, Tony Daniel on art. Daniel still shows signs of being the artist who made me drop Teen Titans, but he's also proof that it's best not to dismiss new artists outright: They do improve with practice. Of course, and I want to stress this: Except for my imagination, Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel had nothing to do with this story. Just a dream, that's all. It's all me, in my head, put through various filters of memory and experience and fancy. Don't send any angry postcards to Grant, for Pete's sake.

So: The story opens with the Joker getting the drop on Robin. This isn't Jason Todd, or Classic-Robin Dick Grayson. This is Tim Drake, getting pummeled by the world's most dangerous lunatic. And for some reason (sleeping gas, maybe?) Tim isn't really able to fight back. He takes hit after hit, until he's down. The Joker then trusses him up in a canvas sack and chains (like Houdini) and throws him into the trunk of his car.

As the Joker drives off, we see a ghostly figure: The Spectre, who angsts about why he's always instructed to seek vengeance on run-of-the-mill murderers, but never trademarked characters--I'm sorry, I mean recurring absolute monsters--like the Joker. We see some disembodied wailing and gnashing of teeth, much like the Neal Adams Deadman comics back in the day.

(Hah. Bet that lost some of you.)

Let me stress here: There's no actual motion in this dream (or this part of it, anyway). This is the second dream I can remember in my life that is actually in comic book form. Drawn panels (in Tony Daniel's style), word balloons, sound effects. Color and black-and-white aren't the only dream choices, apparently.

Then we finally cut to Batman, trying to track the Joker down. The Joker pulls his car up to an icy lake, and tosses Robin (we can still see his face, so we know the sack still contains Robin) into the water. He sinks. Batman has just about caught up with him, but as the Joker drives away, Batman can't follow. He dives into the icy water to save Robin.

He soon emerges from the water with the chained canvas sack, and opens it to free Tim. But Robin isn't there. Somehow the Joker made a switch. Instead, we see various things to weigh the package down and this note:

The War in Iraq has claimed over 4,000 U.S. lives so far, and thousands upon thousands of Iraqis. If you ever want to see the Boy Wonder again, you'll end this war! You have fifteen days!
(Yes, that's a real WTF moment. Imagine dreaming it.)

As the comic ends, we see Batman rereading the note, with an anguished Spectre looking over his shoulder. He has fifteen days to end a war that never should have started. What does he do?

The dream continues, as the country at large reacts to this suddenly incendiary comic book. Should DC Comics be putting anti-war messages in its Batman comics? Has Grant Morrison lost his marbles? We see Grant Morrison on Larry King, saying "Ah, but is the larger message anti-war? After all, it's a dangerous homicidal maniac that's asking for the pull-out. More will be revealed in chapter two..." This satisfies nobody. "Wait and see" never does.

The last thing I remember from the dream is the women of The View grilling Hugh Jackman about the comic. Apparently since he played Wolverine, he's their expert. Somehow in my mind, I got the impression that Jackman was some sort of political firebrand, and the View women were looking for an answer they could squelch. At one point, one of the studio cameras showed a close-up of their feet below their chairs, where Barbara Walters and Star Jones had their feet ready to press a button that would cut his mic if he said anything too incendiary. But all Jackman said was, "It's just a story. Of all the reasons to leave Iraq, we shouldn't do it because a fictional lunatic is threatening a kid."

He looked really uncomfortable. I hope he had something to promote.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Want to See Some Reprehensible Reporting?

Look no further than Fox.

It's not like I'm surprised, but man... you can't even trust the pictures they show you. Liar, liar, Doocy on fire.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Flay Like an Eagle

Independence Day weekend is coming up, so here's a flag-wavin' representation of the 1.8 pounds I lost this week. This American Patriot knife weighs 29 ounces and pretty much speaks for itself, don't you think?

Now let's set off some firecrackers, why don't we?