Friday, February 27, 2009

Brother, Can You Spare A Cap To Bust In Your Ass?

Just enough time for a quick post while I take my lunch:

I’m on the train home last night, nearly three hours before the last-call-for-homebound-drunks train at quarter to two. And yet, in this none-too-crowded NJ Transit car, one finds me. He’s an older guy, and he apparently want to go to Atlantic City (which the train does not go to). Or Philadelphia (which the train does not go to). Or Hamilton (which the train does go to, but somehow this also dismays him. “Not Hamilton,” he says. “HAMILTON. In South Jersey.” Ohhh-kay.) We discuss a few different ways he can get to wherever he’s going. I have little confidence he could pull any of them off.

Apparently he’s lost his debit card, and some of his money (I’d have thought all of it, though through some transaction with a none-too-sympathetic conductor, he manages to buy a ticket). And he also can’t use his cell phone. Perhaps he broke it, since he mentions he needs to go to the Radio Shack in Hamilton (or wherever) to get a new one, but he also mentions something about “not being able to see the numbers,” which I find entirely plausible.

He carries with him a Starbucks bag with a pound of ground coffee, and an assortment of other plastic bags, which he arrays along the aisle next to him, between him and me.

The conversation bounces along, and I quickly resign myself to not reading about Spider-Man as I had planned. Eventually, my new friend says to me, “If I robbed you, you’d have to give me all your money.”

“You don’t want to rob me,” I say.

He cuts me off, somehow offended by the subject that he brought up. “Oh, I ain’t gonna rob you. I don’t even have a gun.”

“And I am a master of karate,” I tell him.

“But if I could impinge on your generosity to give me a little of your money,” he says.

“Sir, I’m unemployed.” I say. “I need what money I’ve got.” He looks me over, and I don’t look unemployed to him. Meanwhile, he looks to me like a guy who the fates have given precisely what he's been asking for all his life.

“But you can work,” he says. “You’re young.”

We go on like this for a minute or two, until a conductor announces that people getting off at my stop will have to file up to the front of the train. So I gather my things, wish him good luck, and happily take my leave of him.

When I’m walking on the platform, I catch sight of a conductor helping him off the train. So, I think, hustling to my car before he spies me, now this guy is lurking around near my town, threatening to rob people he intends to just to ask for money. The hamhanded panhandler of New Jersey Transit.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Good Ol' Drudge.


A Few (Not Very Deep) Thoughts on the President's Speech

He said, "I have appointed a proven and aggressive Inspector General to ferret out any and all cases of waste and fraud." While I always like hearing ferret as a verb, I can't help but think our ferrets can't find their own asses with two paws and a flashlight. (Gus seems to have no problem finding She-Devil's butt, though.)

During the first few interruptions for applause, Obama had a sour look on his face, like he'd rather address the press. At least they don't cut him off while he's on a roll.

Speaking of sour looks, did someone force-feed a lemon to Joe Lieberman?

There were some really nice rhetorical flourishes and turns of phrase in the speech, but my favorite was actually a new look at an old problem: "Dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It's not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country - and this country needs and values the talents of every American." It's unpatriotic to drop out. I never thought of it that way before.

But here's something I don't think I've ever heard a president say before: Curing cancer in our time? I haven't seen any bloggers mention this yet, but for me it was a moment of electricity. It was like Kennedy saying we'd go to the moon. We can do this. We must do this, and we need the will to fund the research and make it happen.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Be Seeing You

In case you were annoyed with the staging of the In Memoriam montage from last night's Oscars, here's the whole thing with just the clips, and Queen Latifah singing.

Now I'm just sorry they left out Don LaFontaine.


Oscar Night

I have to say, I really enjoyed the Oscar telecast tonight. The show's new producers changed some things that had gotten stale, provided context for the many of the less glamorous awards, and admirably kept the show moving. It clocked in at, what, 3 hours 20 minutes?

But the thing I liked best of it was the tone. The cliche is, "It's an honor just to be nominated." But with tonight's presentation of the acting awards, with five previous nominees singling out each nominated performer, it really felt like an honor. It was a recognition of all they achieved with their roles, rather than glossing that over in favor of singling one out. I don't know what it felt like for the nominees, but at home, the effect was that instead of one winner and four losers, there were five winners, and one of them got to make a speech. It was really heartwarming. I got the impression that Anne Hathaway was as moved by all the nice things Shirley MacLaine was saying about her as she would have been by the Oscar itself.

Adding to the effect was the lack of schadenfreude-cam. There was a split screen on all the nominees, and then when the Oscar was announced, the camera would move quickly to the winner, without lingering on the others for us to judge whose smiles were insincere and whose claps were halfhearted.

As someone who wanted to see Jon Stewart or Steve Martin host again, I have to admit: Hugh Jackman did one hell of a job as host. It was a great job all around, from presenter casting to production design to the staged numbers (you really can't go far wrong with Jackman, Beyonce and John Legend).

And the idea to show short previews of a number of 2009's upcoming releases was inspired. They've just broadcast the biggest commercial Hollywood gets every year, and for once they actually took the time to send us somewhere.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pardon Me, But...

what the fucking FUCK?

Glenn Beck thinks we'll have a French-style, "off-with-their-heads" style revolution by 2014? And that's his mild, "bedtime-story" scenario?

Someone take the camera out of this guy's padded cell. Even by Fox's standards, this guy's a gibbering maniac.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Status Update

Rob is making jambalaya. Yeah, you want some.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Love of Chair

Okay, through a little electronic wandering, I found myself watching some old clips from The Electric Company. Including this little dynamo:

Whatever methods modern programs use to teach reading, I doubt any of them can beat *soap opera romance between boy and chair where nothing ever happens* in terms of sheer strangeness.


Watching, Waiting

Now, there are times I think of the Watchmen movie with something like unbridled fanboy glee. I've seen trailers that looked stunning and extremely faithful to Gibbons' character designs. There's a lot to hope for with this movie, and almost everything I've seen has kept my hopes high.

But every now and then I see a movie still that reminds me: High hopes or not, there's still a decent chance it could be crap.

This is one of those stills.


Safety Note

The audiobook of Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses, with its laconic descriptions, unclear-who's-speaking-at-first conversations and all-around elliptical nature, is maybe not the best thing to be listening to while driving at night after a filling pasta dinner.

And when you do pull over at a rest stop, try to remember to take your foot off the brake when you take that catnap. Otherwise, when you wake up, it might seem at first that you dozed off in motion, and you're careening headlong into a populated visitor center.

This might just startle you.

Just sayin'.


New Baby New Baby New Baby YO!

Saw my newest nephew yesterday -- codename Hardball -- and had a good day hanging out with the proud parents, my brother Ed and sister-in-law Michelle. I'm trying to get the boy to say "samurai" as his first word.

This little project of mine has been going on throughout all newcomers to my side of the family. It started out with the D-Man, who I decided should learn to say "karate" as his first word. Because I thought it would be awesome. I repeated "karate" whenever I was around him.

Then D-Man got a little brother, named T-Bone. As D-Man hadn't made karate his first word (but I believe he could say it by then, which was something), I instructed T-Bone to say "Godzilla." This one.. well, it kinda took. I'd see him, and say Godzilla, and he's stare curiously at me. Then one day, I was over his house with his dad, and he was learning to walk, balancing against the sofa and then moving to the chair, just zipping around the room. I said "Godzilla!" and he repeated, "Gah-zizza!" Victory!

When his mom got home, I told her of T-Bone's triumph. She said, "I would have preferred if his first word was 'mom' or 'daddy'." But it was Godzilla, and don't let anyone tell you different.

Next came the first of my brother's kids, who really needs a nickname. At this point, I realized that the two points I'd already named defined a line, and decided I'd teach them Japanese words. (Okay, Godzilla is actually Gojira, but cut me some slack, I was winging it back then.) So with little M, I repeated "kabuki" whenever I saw her. Her little brother, the Bender, got "bushido."

And now little Hardball gets "samurai." He should count himself lucky: He nearly got "Roboto."


Sing it!


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Another Day in the Hatch

In order to receive unemployment benefits in the state of New York (and, I assume, anywhere), claimants have to log into the Department of Labor's website every Sunday and answer a series of questions regarding the previous week. They're easy questions that don't change, and while the answers always suck (How many days did you work? 0), there's a certain element of monotony to the process. This morning I realized what it felt like:

Typing in numbers every 108 minutes in order to save the world.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Reviewing Once Again

I've started writing theater reviews for My first one is up: a review of a limited-run showcase based on the writings of Dorothy Parker, called Dorothy Parker: MEN!


What Did We Learn On The Show Tonight, Rob?


Today I learned that, while I prefer to write prose on my computer, I really need to do a first draft of comics on notebook paper. Otherwise the script formatting just gets in the way of the creative flow of energy, and I might never have found that rabbit when I needed him.

Someday soon I hope you'll all know what I mean by that.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

If You Go Out to the Woods Today, You're In For a Big Surprise

Years ago, some friends and I were at the San Diego Zoo, where we encountered an animal we'd never seen before. Heck, I'd never heard of it, and I don't think Chris and Allen had either. The animal was the takin, a hoofed mammal that's a relative to the ox. Here's one:

Anyway, this creature was entirely new to us. And the sign made us even more curious. The bold print read:

From Behind, Like Teddy Bears

The story under that headline (and I might have every single detail wrong, but I've never forgotten the gist) explained that the daughter of the naturalist who was studying the takins used to only be able to catch a glimpse of their hindquarters, as they'd always run away when people approached. She's see them darting into the forest, and, only seeing two of their legs, thought they looked like teddy bears standing up.Hence the subhead, "From behind, like teddy bears."

Now, there's a certain myopia to jargon. If you're familiar with a word, you know just how it's pronounced, how it's used in a sentence, etc. You don't think about misinterpretations. As a zoologist, you know that "takin" rhymes with "rockin'".

Not so with your casual passersby. To us, well... I won't go into the details, but I think this picture says it all.

(P.S. You're better off not Googling "teddy bear sex," like I did to find that picture. Trust me on this.)

Monday, February 09, 2009

Reinventing the Digital

Click the right arrow, and keep going. This comic by Balak01 blew my mind, and sends the idea of webcomics spinning into new and exciting directions.

about DIGITAL COMICS by ~Balak01 on deviantART


Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Rowers Keep On Rowing

When I look at this chart (explained here)...

...this is almost exactly what's going on in my brain:


Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Eleventh Thing

There's a maxim that my friends on the Captain Comics message boards tend to follow: "In comics, you have to believe ten impossible things before you crack open the cover. But sometimes, that eleventh impossible thing is just too much to swallow." Sure, a man can fly, and heat things up with his eyes. Sure, it makes perfect sense to get into a fistfight wearing a cape. But in some stories, there's just one thing that's just so ludicrous that the whole thing collapses.

Sometimes it's an idea that's ridiculous on its face (say, the reason no one recognizes Superman as Clark Kent is that he has been subconsciously hypnotizing anyone he's ever come in contact with as he looks through the Kryptonian lenses of his glasses). Other times, it's a failure of a comic to accurately reflect the real world (such as, say, any scene that takes place in a courtroom, newsroom or doctor's office).

Anyway, my point today is, the same thing goes for Lost. I can believe Desmond has visions of the future. I can believe all these people crossed paths without realizing it for years before the crash. I can even believe an island can be moved through time and space by turning a giant wheel.

But you can't tell me this man is not wearing eyeliner.

And yet, that's apparently what the producers of Lost would have us believe:

"When we first saw dailies of Nestor, we said, "We gotta talk to him about the eyeliner situation," Lindelof said. "But he is completely sans makeup."
Come on. Four-toed people? I'm down with that. But if what Lindelof is saying is true, it can only mean one thing: Nestor Carbonell is descended from a scientifically advanced race of human-raccoon hybrids. It's easier to believe he's immortal.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Dear Democrats

Pay your fucking taxes.


A guy who does.

(This is just embarrassing.)