I'll have photos, and stories, great bands to talk about, and all that. But since we got back at 1 am, I wouldn't expect them until tomorrow if I were you.
But New Orleans was wonderful, and Jazzfest was soaking-wet, infant-eating* fun.
*Not really. But delicious just the same. And some of the best-tasting coleslaw found anywhere in the solar system.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
I'll have photos, and stories, great bands to talk about, and all that. But since we got back at 1 am, I wouldn't expect them until tomorrow if I were you.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Registered a 1.4-pound loss (this sai!) at my meeting today. We had a guest leader -- a guy, which was really cool to see. My cult meetings are 90 percent women, and a lot of the questions are about cravings that I simply don't share on the level that these women experience them. (Screw chocolate... gimme onion dip!) I just wish I'd seen him on a week where I'd actually be on plan... but as it is, in New Orleans I'll be off the grid.
(Oh, and yesterday I bought a few pairs of shorts in a smaller size... so that I don't replay the end of this night. Go, Incentive Pants!)
I'm in the middle of moving my desk at work, but I thought I'd post a few short (non-ferret-related) items before heading to lunch/shutting off my computer/staring deeply into the abyss.
* Enjoyed a visit this weekend from pal Jeri, even if I was a bit grumpy for parts of it. Believe me, Jeri, it was just the stress of a crazy/awful weekend that made me need the gin so bad. Had I my druthers, I would have hung out all day at the con with you.
* Read Helen Killer # 1, which Jeri kindly picked up for me at the con. Using a device that allows her to see and hear for short periods of time (and also augments her strength and agility but sparks a growing rage inside her), Hellen Keller is recruited by the Secret Service to protect the life of President McKinley. The first issue is well-done, and promises some serious kickassery.
* Moved a heavy freezer from a basement. Note: When I'm the "muscle" of a three-person moving team, you're SOL from the git-go. Luckily, no one broke a foot. But how we'll get this beast into our basement is a toss-up. (My guess? With great difficulty and many swear words.)
* Walked the 3K Dash for Organ Donor Awareness in Philly with my family. The group grows bigger every year, and not just because my sibs breed like bunnies. And mom put out a great lunch spread afterward. Comic-con or not, organ donation is important. I'm sure Stan Lee'd tell you the same.
* Ate a savory crepe!
* Finished balloon placement/script revisions on my comics project. Hopefully Mike'll be able to get it lettered and arrange a small print run for the June convention in Philly.
* Off and on, dealt with pre-vacation jitters. But at least this morning I found out our transfer flight in Memphis is just two gates away from our arrival plane. Jazzfest, here we come!
Monday, April 21, 2008
I'm trying not to let this blog go to an all-ferrets-all-the-time mode, but I wanted to write a few words about the Dude.
When we first brought him and his pals home, two of them, the Dude (then known as the ferret formerly known as Snowball) and Gus, were wearing little collars with bells on them. We thought they looked ridiculous. We took Gus's off with no problem -- it was tight on his neck, but not too bad. But the Dude's was on really tight... and when I peeled it off, it came attached to skin and hair. We took him to the vet immediately, and had to keep him in isolation until the raw wound on his neck had healed.
It's not surprising that this nameless little tough guy immediately won my heart. He was the first ferret of the bunch we had to treat as an individual, not as part of a big, unruly group. We refused to call him Snowball (he was tan, for Christ's sake) but we didn't have a suitable name for him. But we had to call him something as he wandered into places we didn't want him to go -- so I called him "dude," until we realized that his laid-back personality and his earth-tone coloring matched Jeff Lebowski's.
He had a genius for trouble. His propensity for getting under our fold-out couch and coiling up in the springs (causing us nail-biting worry) led us to take the feet off the couch so it rested on the ground, and safety-pin its cover on. It took a lot to make that couch impervious to the Dude. He was a master safecracker.
He was also the ruler of the roost for a while. Once we put him back in gen-pop, he and Gus (accustomed to being the sole dominant ferret in his absence) had some legendary knock-down drag-out fights for dominance. Usually they involved Dude dragging Gus by his head or neck to behind the TV. A few years later, the fights started happening again; this time the heartier Gus did the dragging.
He had his own theme song, to the tune of a Budweiser commercial, I think:
(Here comes the Dude)
Here comes the Dude oh yes he's A-Number-1!
(Here comes the Dude)
Here comes the Dude oh yes he's nothin' but fun!
and so on, filling in rhymes as I went.
Over the last few months, I felt like I was seeing less and less of the Dude, even though I was spending more time with him than the other ferrets. We were giving him different medicines twice a day, some of which he liked, and some he hated. And by the end, he was so droopy that the only time I'd see the old Dude spark was when he was fighting off a syringe full of yuck.
But even then, I could just sit on the couch with him on my lap, petting him softly, singing little songs to him. I wish I could do it now.
On Friday afternoon, we put the Dude to sleep. I've been meaning to write more about him all weekend, but it's been the busiest weekend we've had in a long while. So I'll write a little bit about him in a few minutes.
Right now, though, my more pressing issue is She-Devil. She's a ferret that tends to get into little scrapes. She's blind as a bat, but adventurous, able to climb the outside of her cage and cross the gate into the kitchen if we don't keep an eye on her. She usually does it a couple of times a night before she gives up.
Last night, I noticed she was trembling as I snuggled with her. She was acting strangely in other ways, too -- she stayed and the food bowl and chowed down instead of taking a couple of pieces with her and eating them in private. We speculated that it might be because she misses the Dude, although I didn't want to project my feelings onto her; a less emotional possibility was that she was stressed from being disoriented because there were all these scents around of a ferret she couldn't find. Eventually she went to sleep, and then I did too, leaving Kathy to deal with Gus and She-Devil before she came up to bed.
This morning, She-Devil was still trembling. We're worried she's in some kind of pain, and are bringing her to the vet today. As I left, Kathy was going to make an appointment when they opened. I don't know when it is, or what will happen there.
I'm terrified for her.
Friday, April 18, 2008
One hell of a good night last night.
Kathy and I headed downtown to Lucky Cheng’s Fortune Cookie Cabaret to see Starshine Burlesque’s tribute to the New York Comic Con, which involved lovely ladies dressed as superheroes, takin’ it off. And having a wicked time doing it.
But first, we stopped for dinner at a French bistro on Orchard Street where we dined outside in the temperate night air. We’re a week away from our 5-year anniversary, and since we honeymooned in Paris, this was like taking a little micro-honeymoon. Kathy enjoyed some steak frites, I had some delicious boeuf bourguignonne over fettuccinni, and we shared a goat cheese tart that makes me think that chèvre might be the queen of all cheeses. (Why not the king? No idea... I just get a sense of femininity about it. I imagine there’s a king and a prince and a jack and a jester as well.. there’s room for a great deal of cheese royalty in my court.)
Then, off to Lucky Cheng's, where we had a drink at the bar served by the lovely Lila (who stresses politeness), but we soon headed back to the Fortune Cookie Caberet, where Plum Manchego was setting forth with the pre-show go-go, in a green and white outfit that had me saying “My God... She’s full of stars...” So I already had my geek on, but for a while I was so deliriously happy that I had totally forgotten what the theme of the night was. I was just happy to be there. I told Kathy: “If I die, and all of this isn’t going on around me... I’ll know I’m in hell.”
And then... the main event. The World Famous *BOB*, dressed as “Wonderful Woman,” acted as our mistress of ceremonies. Warm and witty, she threatened to use her lasso of truth on the audience, and at one point harangued an audience member whose cell phone rang: “Is it your mother?” she asked. “Is it your dealer?”
The dancers were a blast, of course. Weirdee Girl started out the night in a spectacular 60s-era Catwoman costume. Spurned by the handsome Adam West Batman, she contemplated (and committed) suicide, dispatching several of her nine lives before deciding he wasn’t worth it. Fem Appeal followed up as “The Incredible Cook”: Imagine the Hulk (her style was more Hulk than She-Hulk) doing the angriest cooking show in the world, ripping her clothes off as she went. This woman was painted green, head to toe. Ninety-five percent of her was green, pals and gals. I once dyed less than a third of me yellow for a Homer Simpson Halloween costume, so I can tell you this: That grief takes commitment. Rounding off the first act was Leyla Rose, visiting from the UK as a wolf girl (maybe Li’l Abner’s Wolf Gal?), revealing a fur bikini and a really funny sight gag.
In the middle of the first act was Ravi the Scorpion Mystic. While everyone else was having a great night of dress-up, this guy had genuine superpowers. Billed as “The Elastic Boy,” he contorted and twisted himself into stomach-churning shapes, and even managed to slip his body through the hoop of a tennis racket. Throughout it all, I was agog. (Later on, we saw him in the subway. He looked like a regular dude with a tennis racket. Secret identity, indeed.)
The second act had even more fun -- beginning with Nasty Canasta’s Poison Ivy routine (to Alice Cooper’s “Posion.”). This was followed by the comic highlight of the show, as Little Brooklyn danced out in a massive foam-rubber Thing costume -- to the Commodores’ “Brick House,” of course. Shedding bricks right and left, she was eventually left with just a rocky orange bikini... and a Kirbyesque surprise underneath. Throughout it all, she kept her big rocky Thing head on. Surreal? Hilarious? Awesome.
Finally, Creamy Stevens showed us the importance of remembering to put your costume on under your clothes before you leave the house, in case a quick change is needed to fight crime. Some kryptonite-induced stripping later made her Superwoman routine an extra treat.
And then, if all that wasn’t enough, just to emphasize the point that the show could have been narrowcasted to the pleasure centers of my brain -- World Famous Bob encouraged us all to get up out of our seats and do the Robot... as the Fresh Prince of Darkness played Styx’s “Mr. Roboto.”
Domo Arigoto, ladies.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I saw a bumper sticker today:
Keep Austin Reading.
Since I live in New Jersey, I'm not accustomed to local bumper stickers from Texas. So my first thought was:
Who's Austin? And what happens if he stops?
It's not reading for its own sake. The object is to keep the kid distracted and entertained. Which led me to amend the bumper sticker to:
Keep Austin Reading. And For Christ's Sake, Keep Him Away From The Matches.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
My hopes are high for new Blue Beetle writer Matt Sturges. First of all, he's co-writer of Jack of Fables, which among its other virtues, has sported what is arguably the greatest comic book cover of all time. But in Jack, he and Bill Willingham have fleshed out the most thoroughly despicable cad ever, and crafted a relentlessly inventive side-trip in the Fables universe.
Blue Beetle Jaimie Reyes is nothing like Jack. He's a genuinely good kid. He wants to do right by everyone, no matter the cost to himself. It's a classic superhero moral outlook, mixed in with all the drama of high school life. It's one of DC's best books, and more people should be reading it.
Michael May at Blog@Newsarama has posted an interview with Sturges that's worth checking out in its entirety. Here's the part where he assuages my fears that the title will take a massive swerve in direction:
One thing that’s really important to me is that I want Blue Beetle to continue to be a book that’s as fun for my twelve-year-old nephew as it is for me and my friends. I think you do that by being smart but not oblique, and clear but not condescending. Kids don’t want dumbed-down versions of grown-up comics; they want smart comics about things that matter to everybody, and without the adult content that would send them either to therapy or detention.
And here's the part where I find out he obsesses over the same things I do:
I’m pretty thoughtful about comedy; Bill Willingham and I have had conversations about which is the funnier item to poke someone with: a spatula or a slotted spoon. You’d probably think spatula, which would be the right answer in prose, because spatula is a funny word; but visually, a slotted spoon is actually slightly funnier. Because it’s rounded.
And here's my favorite part:
I have this green t-shirt that I bought from the CBLDF one year at the San Diego Con. It’s got James Kochalka’s Fancy Froglin on it and he’s saying “I am wearing little pants to hide my genitals. It is the law!” I always get a second look when I’m wearing that thing, which is funny, although one time I forgot and wore it to pick my seven-year-old daughter up at school, which was less funny.
I have this teeshirt too. But it's too small for me, so I passed it on to Kathy. Who wears it to paint, because there's no way she's gonna wear it out of the house.
Long story short, I think Blue Beetle's in good hands.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
My vacation anticipation officially shifts into high gear when I'm able to see the day I arrive on the 10-day weather forecast. Weather.com says 82 and cloudy/sunny in New Orleans on the 23rd.
The countdown begins...
Ya know what frosts my pumpkin? Divine hindsight, that's what.
Last night I watched Game 3 of the Rangers/Devils quarterfinals series. The Rangers led the series 2 games to 0 going into the event. After playing to a tie in the first three periods, they gave up a goal five minutes into overtime, losing the game.
As we saw footage of dejected Rangers walking back to their locker room, a sportscaster said something along the lines of, "Well, I don't think anyone thought it would be a sweep. These two teams are too evenly matched."
This might be true. Probably is -- these guys know a lot more about hockey than I ever will. And I know they gotta fill airtime by saying something. But the Rangers one all but one regular season games against the Devils -- and that one only once their spot in the playoffs was assured. So had they won last night, I could easily imagine that same sportscaster saying, "It looks like we could be in for a sweep -- just like we nearly saw in the regular season." The teams are evenly matched... except the Rangers kept winning and the Devils kept losing. It's not like a sweep would be outta the blue.
This isn't unique to sports (if it was, I'd never have picked up on it). Plenty of talking heads are on hand after an election to talk about how one candidate was obviously going to lose, or how a vote in Congress was doomed to failure from the start. And in comics, fans gleefully jump on the told-you-so bandwagon for whatever title gets canceled.
It doesn't impress.
(This has been a rare post from the Laughing at the Pieces sports desk. Don't get used to it.)
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I've decided to read James Joyce's Ulysses this spring, and I'd like to do it in a group. So I started Ulysses the Blog: a group blog where we all can read it together and maybe not lose our entire set of vintage marbles. Want to join a virtual book club? Of course you do.
(Yes, you. Who did you think I was talking to?)
What the hell -- here’s a rundown of my comic purchases for this week.
Castle Waiting: I love this comic, and the monthly installments are almost certainly not the best way to read it. But it’s so darn pleasant, it’s hard to argue with. I’d hate to wait years before dipping into this world again. It’s real good-feelin’ stuff, done at the very highest level.
Criminal: The exact opposite of Castle Waiting in everything but quality. Hellish noir, real enough to give nightmares. Plus there are always great movie and book recommendations in the back -- essays from Brubaker’s crime-lovin’ writer friends. One of my favorite books on the stands right now.
Justice Society of America: Boy, this book is good and crowded. I imagine that will be coming to a head real soon -- and just the same, there aren’t too many character’s I’d want to drop. And have I mentioned I love the new Amazing Man? Yes I have. Anyway, this issue is the beginning of a massive throwdown between the Society and Gog.
Wonder Woman: Every bit as cool as last issue. A kickass fight with a Green Lantern, and ideas of revenge and justice play out on several levels. Couldn’t ask for more.
Young Liars: To be honest, I need to read this again after refreshing my memory about the first issue. But it’s gripping all the way through, even though I’m not certain I caught all the resonance for the long-term story.
Booster Gold: Let me get this straight. Wild Dog throws a loaded automatic weapon to Booster, without even warning him, and when it lands on the ground and discharges, he complains that Booster doesn’t know how to handle a gun? That Wild Dog really is crazy, isn’t he? Solid alternate-reality fun.
Jonah Hex: I’ve never seen the words “The End” seem so loud before. It was like the end title on an episode of Lost. Nice work this time. Jordi Bernet can draw the hell out of anything.
So that's what I got. Didn't think there was a bad one in the bunch, so it was a helluva good week in that respect.
Last night I made renegade jambalaya.
I've been making the same jambalaya recipe for the better part of a decade, and I love it. LOVE it. It's Paul Prudhomme's recipe, and for a number of reasons -- it's generally part of a lot of other party prep, I've never made less than two batches, and the spice mix is so rich and textured and complicated -- I've developed a whole ritual about it. It intimidates me. It's a night of chopping, stirring, waiting, potwashing, and repeating. (And beer-drinking and a little bit of Mardi-Gras-bootyshakin', as well.)
So when looking over some of the sauces in our fridge, trying to decide what to do with some chicken, I espied a short jambalaya recipe on the side a bottle of sweet-and-sour sauce, I decided to go for it.
I already had some chopped onion, and chopped some more. Little pearl onions, actually, since the I noticed the bigger onion I had in reserve was getting funky and tossed it. I had some chopped bell pepper -- not enough, but it'll do. I chopped up the chicken, and decided I'd throw in a little of the smoked venison yachtwurst that I'd first used for red beans and rice last week.
The sweet and sour sauce seemed to think it was the only flavoring the jambalya needed, but you can't trust a bottle. (Except a bottle of gin. Gin never lies.) So I added some white and red pepper, and some chopped up ginger root. And some garlic-flavored hot sauce. Plus instead of the water it said to add, I used some leftover chicken broth, making up the difference with water.
When it came time to add the rice, the recipe just said "add the rice, sauce and water, and let simmer for 25 minutes or until rice is tender." Horsefeathers. I've got a well-honed jambalaya process that I'm not going to toss aside just because I'm using other ingredients. So the rice went in first, to crisp and brown and soak up flavor, before I added any of the liquid. So finally, the sauce and the water/broth mixture gets dumped in and I wait to see what sort of Frankenstein jambalaya I have wrought.
Twenty minutes or so later, the liquid has reduced and the jambalaya is ready. And it's sweet and tangy (a bit too sweet for me, to be honest, but then again I've never really gone for sweet and sour sauce, so what did I expect?), but it's got a nice little kick to it that I didn't notice at first.
Tasting it, I feel liberated. I can do this shit.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
At lunch, my soup moved.
I was at my Thai restaurant, reading the new issue of Justice Society and eating my soup before my red curry chicken came out. I was not touching the bowl -- the spoon was to my mouth -- when I thought I saw my soup move in the corner of my eye. Just half or three-quarters of an inch toward my comic.
I examined the soup. Nothing unusual was in it, just some chunks of chicken and a mushroom. The table didn't wobble. As I said, I wasn't touching the bowl. Must have been a trick of the light, I thought.
I went back to reading my comic, and again was bringing some soup to my lips. And the bowl moved again -- again a half-inch to the left, closer to my comic.
I lifted the bowl. Looked it over. Checked out the table again. Checked under the table for magnets or some other device. Thought about how I was sitting, and reckoned it was very unlikely that my right arm had disturbed my soup in any way.
So I put my soup back down, and continued to read, stopping every now and then to eye the bowl with suspicion. But soon the soup was gone, without having moved again.
I don't know what this means. It probably means I am either mistaken about the soup moving, or about my not having caused it to move.
But I have another guess, too.
1) Say what you want about Countdown, but comics may not see a finer moment this week than Mary Marvel repeatedly clubbing Donna Troy with Kyle Rayner's unconscious body. There's glee in that there panel. Pure, maniac glee.
2) Titans #1? I need to consult with a polytheist: Judeo-Christian tradition does not have enough gods to convey how assuredly god-awful this book looks. It stings the eyes and makes the brain cry uncle. Maybe the captions are good, but there was nothing in the art to make me want to risk reading even one.
You know I love rubbing your belly. And you know I love rubbing She-Devil's belly, too, and the Dude's belly when he seems game. I think I've demonstrated, through my words and actions, that I love rubbing ferret bellies. It's one of my favorite things to do, ferret-wise.
But Gus, I can't stress this enough: When I'm rubbing She-Devil's belly and you start sniffing her ass, the whole dynamic changes from a little fun with my pets to some sort of human/ferret/ferret threesome that I AM TOTALLY NOT DOWN WITH.
Seriously, man. You're freaking me out. When I'm rubbin' bellies, keep your nose to yourself. I hate to have to call you out in public like this, but I've told you TIME AND TIME AGAIN, and maybe this is the only way I can get you to understand. This is NOT acceptable. I like you, but NOT THAT WAY.
Are we clear?
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Scipio has a really interesting examination of DC's villainous "inspirational poster" house ads at the Absorbascon. I'm always fascinated by his essays on the iconic underpinnings of comics; this one's no exception.
I'm meeting Kathy and my friend Don to see the New York screening of the documentary on Harlan Ellison, Dreams With Sharp Teeth, tonight. Ellison is a controversial figure and a world-class troublemaker, but he's a hell of a storyteller and a fascinating figure in science fiction and literature in general (not to mention Hollywood). He and director Erik Nelson will be at Lincoln Center tonight, which boosted this doc's status from a rental to a "see this tonight." Plus the film's music is by Richard Thompson, one of my favorite musicians.
Monday, April 07, 2008
In case you were wondering about the shark story Jennifer Love Hewitt told on the Craig Ferguson Show last week...
...totally an urban legend. Using a Worth 1000 photomanip, no less!
(Giving Craig credit, he smelled the fish story immediately, but was gracious enough to let her finish.)
I really need to dig out my first few trades of this from the attic. There is no reason in the world that my zombie-lovin' wife isn't grooving on this series as much as I am. (If you're interested, you can read the first issue online.)
And man, was this issue brutal.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
In a recent post about my microfame, pal Don took one look at the Laughing Cow mascot and wrote: "Congrats! Pirate Cow!"
And y'know... looking at her... she IS a pirate cow. Look at those earrings: They're packages of Laughing Cow cheese! She's accessorizing with her own processed milk.
You can't tell me that's not baddass.
Go, Pirate Cow!
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Hey look! We were stripped of our rights! Again!
Here's the lede of an AP story about a memo that said the Fourth Amendment couldn't protect us from the government.
For at least 16 months after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in 2001, the Bush administration believed that the Constitution's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures on U.S. soil didn't apply to its efforts to protect against terrorism.
I swear, considering the frequency and vigor with which Bush has wiped his ass with the Constitution, it's a wonder Nicolas Cage ever found that treasure.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Now I am Humble No More!
I don't know when it happened, but this li'l blog has replaced Legendary 80s Rock Legends of Legendary Rock of the 80s Doctor & the Medics as the number one search term for Laughing at the Pieces. (Laughing Cow cheese is no longer on the first page.)
Although wikipedia says the Doctor is recording a new album this year, so maybe once again we will swap places in the Insignificant Google Sweepstakes.
This moment of irrational egomania brought to you by Microfame! When your fame is so small it can't be seen with the naked eye!
Oh, how I wish there was a news outlet capable of covering the Pennsylvania primary race in Philly without hanging out at a cheese steak place. Yeah, they're proof that god loves us and the devil wants us dead sooner rather than later, but still. Morning Edition broadcast a report from Rick's Steaks at the Reading Terminal Market this morning...
...and I should not crave a cheese steak at 8:30 in the morning. There's no way that's natural.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
I dropped a little more weight this week. 0.4 pounds, in fact -- exactly the weight of this spiked dog collar. Which, somewhat inexplicably, is in the "Kitchen & Dining" section of Amazon.com. What must their dinner parties be like?
B&D, Bath and Beyond, apparently.