Patton Oswalt, on Geek Culture eating its own tail.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Thursday, December 02, 2010
A couple of weeks ago, Craig Ferguson devoted his entire Late Late Show to Doctor Who -- to the point of doing one of his "cold open" dance numbers at the top of the show to lyrics the show put together for the Doctor Who theme.
And then, at much later than the last minute, found out that they didn't actually have the music rights to broadcast the theme. They had performed it for the studio audience, but couldn't broadcast it. So the group of them just stood there in their odd costumes and talked about the cold open, and why they couldn't do it.
But thanks to the awesome power of the Internet (and at least one person -- probably more -- on Craig's staff wanting this to see the light of day), we can see the Lost Craig Ferguson Doctor Who Tribute. And for fans of CraigyFerg, all your favorites appear.
And then some. Enjoy!
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Not everything gets preserved. You won't hear a song like Bob Lind's "Elusive Butterfly" in a movie about the Sixties... but it was there, lazing wistfully in the radio speakers in the months before the Summer of Love.
It's a song that didn't get enshrined in our collective pop culture memory, and yet somehow it persists. I heard it on an oldies radio station today, and it blew my mind. Across my dream, with nets of wonder, I chase the bright, elusive butterfly of love.
Even more elusive? The butterfly of subtlety. Some things do not age well.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
My godmother passed away this morning. She'd been sick for a little while, or rather, sick for probably a long while and mercifully only felt its effects in the last couple months. Death is where we find out that things can be better than the alternative and still suck by any measure.
Anyway, late in the 1960s my parents chose their friends Doris and Bob to be my godparents, and they couldn't have chosen better. Aunt Doris was smart -- so smart -- and loved literature, and loved to read. She was outspoken and sardonic, and always knew which drum she was dancing to. Uncle Bob has always been a man of good humor and warmth (and impeccable facial hair), more softspoken than Doris but always knowing just how to get her ear. A great couple, who have raised three incredible daughters.
Between my parents and Aunt Doris & Uncle Bob, I couldn't have asked for better examples of how to be a grown-up.
Rest in peace, Aunt Doris. We miss you.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Two weeks ago I stopped by for a meeting at my cult, and learned that after my 4 pound drop the week before, I'd loaded up 2.6 pounds back. Of course, I'd gone for barbecue for lunch that day, so I knew there'd be some consequences. But 2.6 pounds seemed like an awful lot. To help you visualize, it's like this hatchet.
Friday, November 12, 2010
A couple weeks have gone by, and have I done the thing I do about which you do not care? Oh yes, my friend. Twice.
A look at DC's digital releases for November 3 and the deluge of November 10.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Friday, November 05, 2010
When I weighed in on Tuesday, I was feeling pretty confident, and rightfully so. Turns out I had lost 4 pounds – the same weight as this kid's bass.
So that brings me nearly 6 pounds into my 42 by 42 project, which is might good progress. Having been down this road before, I know I’m unlikely to see this kind of dramatic loss again. But this week really showed me what a difference a day makes. Last week I was just as careful as this week, with one exception – a party where I ate a bunch of little meatball sandwiches, drank a lot of beer (and some rum) and had plenty of chocolate peanut butter monster eyeballs and pannacotta brain in cranberry sauce. Plus chips and dip, and some candy, mostly Nerds and SweetTarts. A bad, bad day for getting things done metabolically – though a terrific night, overall.
But it’s a good reminder that I can’t just step off this thing if I’m at a party.
It was a good week for the other aspects of the plan, too. Only two meals with beef this week, and (I think) only one with pork. Plus, we went to the Indian restaurant near us and each ordered a vegetarian dish, and with the leftovers, that made two meatless meals for the week. And they were delicious, if a little too similar in look so that we kept mixing up which was which.
Anyway, here’s my progress so far, as the lightning bolt lurches closer to the treasure chest.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Didn't take me long to fall off the wagon. This week's meeting (on Tuesday) showed I was up 0.6 pounds, or as much as the weight of this little contraption.
My problem was definitely all that I drank and ate during Jay & Nicole's Zombie party. In retrospect, I shouldn't have gone there without eating anything first. Big mistake, which I paid for in meatball sandwiches.
Plus, rum and beer. And candy and brains.
On the plus side, the bunch of us had a great time, killed plenty of zombie & played zombie tag.
Anyway, here's the ticker. Only took me 20 minutes to remember the PIN number to let me update this thing.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Last weekend, our brother-in-law gave us some delicious bluefish fillets that he caught. (Well, when he caught the fish, the fillets were attached.) Anyway, we cooked 'em, et 'em, reheated 'em and et 'em agin. And now, well... the microwave smells like bluefish. Any ideas on what I can do so I don't smell bluefish every time I reheat coffee?
Friday, October 22, 2010
I've got a scanner, and I'm not afraid to use it. Well, maybe a little afraid, but only because it's so testy.
Anyway, I looked at this panel, and thought only one thing:
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Elvira has an important message for you. Especially if you're a voter in Delaware.
Elvira's Movie Macabre is showing at 2am on Fridays and 1am on Sundays on WPIX in New York and WPHL in Philly... more local listings are here. (Pdf download.)
Crooked cops know to always carry a gun to drop, in case you have to justify a shooting. In my case, I dropped this awesome air rifle, weighing 2.4 pounds.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Before the weigh-in, I figured I’d write a few paragraphs about how this first week has gone.
Exercise has been (almost) nil, but that will change. I managed to ride my bike to the coffee shop one day – with the proper amount of air in my tires, for once! Which meant they were round even when I got on the bike -- which is an essential shape for locomotion. Kathy won a bicycle pump at a raffle a couple weeks ago, when she got back from her 30 mile ride. The pump had a pressure gauge on it, so I was able to see that my tires, rated for 45-65 pounds of pressure, had about 15-20. I knew they were leaky, and was going to pump them anyway, but was able to pump much more air into them with confidence, being able to read the number on the gauge. Plus, it’s considerably taller, so it’s easier to get more air into the tires and I don’t have to bend as far. Because there’s nothing I like so much as getting on a bike when my spine feels like a question mark.
On staying on points, I did pretty well. I ate well, but cut most snacks out of my repertoire, and when I did snack, it was on an apple or yogurt. Sunday was a 70th birthday party for my mother-in-law (hi Mom!), and I went a little overboard on all the delicious food there (mmm… deep-fried turkey), but I had the bonus points to spare, and the day wasn’t a total disaster.
As for limiting pork & beef, I’ve had no beef this week, and the only pig I’ve had has been some lunchmeats at the party. I’ve consciously made choices for chicken or fish several times this week when I normally would have had pork. I’ve also made sure there’s been some low-calorie Tom Yum soup with shrimp around for me to reheat.
So tonight, we’ll see what the week has wrought. Assuming the Phillies game is over by the time my cult meeting starts. Otherwise, weigh-in might wait until tomorrow afternoon.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
...and considering I'm not done living it yet, that's problematic.
So, in honor of my 41st birthday last week, I've begun a "42 by 42" plan -- that is, I'm going to try to lose 42 pounds by the time I turn 42, approximately 360 days from now. Because while I'm not sick, I'm sure not living healthy. And I'd like to make the end of my life last for a long time, culminating in a brief, hilarious fall off a cliff into a tank of robot piranha, which will have been invented (and perfected) by then.
Essentially, I'll be doing a modified Weight Watchers plan (hereafter referred to as "my cult"), with a few other limits I'm imposing on myself, such as the number of times I can eat beef and pork in a give week (I'm thinking two each), and my intention to have at least one vegetarian dinner a week... without using pizza as a crutch too often, since that defeats the purpose.
I weighted in last night at 237.2 pounds (with clothes and all, but damn!), so it means I need to hit 195.2 pounds by October next.
Luckily, I just ate a delicious bowl of seaweed, so I think I'm ready.
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Look, I'm a white guy, raised Catholic, so I just don't fit into a whole lot of minority groups. I don't get to see firsthand how people of different ethnicity, religions, genders or orientations are treated by society as a whole. (That's called privilege, everybody -- it's the luxury of ignoring a whole lot of -isms whenever I want to.)
But the fact is, you can't ignore it all, and of course, you shouldn't. And sometimes it's too blatant to ignore, such as when conservative bloggers and cracker-ass teabaggers get in a huff about this country acting like the pluralistic country it is. And so, as Campbell's has introduced a Halal line of soups, a Facebook hate group called Boycott Campbell Soup has emerged for these dumbasses to express their displeasure. Which is their entirely American right to voice their entirely un-American opinion.
But remember all those smoke-screens about "respect for the dead" and "hallowed ground" that were used to obfuscate the protests against the so-called Ground Zero so-called mosque? None of that is in play here. It's just a line of soup intended to feed some people who would like to eat soup. That's it. But it's all of a piece with the racist protests of that construction project: Just a bunch of people who found a reason to hate another bunch of people they never met. For wanting to eat the same brand of soup that they want to eat, which they didn't give a moment's thought to for years. For being different from them. For existing.
They're called bigots, boys and girls. They're called racists. And I am so, so, so relieved that when I clicked onto that Facebook hate page, it didn't tell me we had any "mutual friends."
A favorite phrase of these assholes is "America: Love it or leave it." But forget it, Jake, this is Crackerville, and love in this context is the kind of love you see on COPS: some idiot in an undershirt beating his wife until she gets fed up, but who's then cowed into submission when the authorities come to take her man away. That's what love of country is to these people: Do what I want or I'll hit you. It's all about meting out punishment to those who don't comply. Boycotts against companies that dare to serve another client base. Hate campaigns against public servants who stand up for equal protection under the law. It all the amounts to the same thing: some damn thug in a teeshirt, holding up his Bible Belt, threatening to swing.
P.S. In the time it took me to write this post, 24 more hateful shitheads joined the Facebook hate group.
I've got a new installment of my DC Digital column over on the Captain Comics board. Now with more justice!
Monday, October 04, 2010
Just read Matt Taibbi's most recent article on the Rand Paul and the Tea Party in Rolling Stone. Taibbi's a terrific writer, and he takes square aim at this frustrated, thinks-they're-disenfranchised cult of personality. Here's an excerpt:
It would be inaccurate to say the Tea Partiers are racists. What they are, in truth, are narcissists. They're completely blind to how offensive the very nature of their rhetoric is to the rest of the country. I'm an ordinary middle-aged guy who pays taxes and lives in the suburbs with his wife and dog — and I'm a radical communist? I don't love my country? I'm a redcoat? Fuck you! These are the kinds of thoughts that go through your head as you listen to Tea Partiers expound at awesome length upon their cultural victimhood, surrounded as they are by America-haters like you and me or, in the case of foreign-born president Barack Obama, people who are literally not Americans in the way they are.
It's not like the Tea Partiers hate black people. It's just that they're shockingly willing to believe the appalling horseshit fantasy about how white people in the age of Obama are some kind of oppressed minority. That may not be racism, but it is incredibly, earth-shatteringly stupid.
Go read the whole thing.
Sunday, October 03, 2010
Despite the unfortunate typo in its name, KarmaSheetra's Kama Sutra-on-a-sheet looks like the world's best Twister game.
Then again, maybe your karma is that you'll get laid Friday night. In which case, the world thanks you for your good deeds.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
|L'il Fiona in the hammock.|
Emmett, a big moose of a ferret, won me over even more quickly. A climber, he’s managed to be on every horizontal surface of our family room, and pretty much every vertical one as well. I’m a little surprised he hasn’t tried to sell me exclusive photos of Spider-Man. It’s been a while since I haven’t been sure on which plane to look for a ferret; Emmett surprises me, wherever he goes.
These are both beautiful, amazing, friendly ferrets. We’re lucky to have them.
I worry, though. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t worry. It’s been three days now, and our original ferret, Gus, is still wary of them. For now, they’ve been sleeping separately, the new guys in one cage and Gus in the other. We let them out together, or sometimes Gus on his own, so hopefully he can maintain his sense of mastery of the house.They've swapped cages, voluntarily. They're growing accustomed to each other's smells.
|Emmett, perched for trouble.|
Emmett has almost consistently been a gentleman around Gus. He’s much bigger, younger and stronger, but he doesn’t pounce on him, doesn’t play any overt domination games. And Gus doesn’t immediately go into intimidated mode, either. He’ll hang out at the food bowl, looking like he’s trying to ignore Emmett. Then they’ll walk around together for a little bit, with Emmett essentially shadowing Gus, and Gus looking like he’s walking away while trying to stay cool about it. I feel like I’m reading too much into their behavior, but that’s the vibe I get. Today, Emmett did, briefly, pounce on Gus a little, but I pulled him off and scruffed him and told him “No,” and then he let Gus alone until he was done eating. Then, afterward, they did the follow routine once around the room, and Gus retreated into his cube (a hanging cube-shaped hammock in one of the cages). Emmett walked up the ramp and looked inside – didn’t even poke his head in – twice, but Gus didn’t budge.
Fiona, on the other hand, might be a little afraid of Gus. When Gus looks in on her, she’s likely to squeak and hiss, which scares him off. I’m really hoping this gets better. He’s definitely interested in meeting her, but she rebuffs him – sometimes immediately, or sometimes after they share a bite next to each other at the food and water bowls.
|Gus & Fiona on an awkward dinner date.|
So I’m conflicted. We’ve got new pets, and they’re perfect, entertaining goofballs! I want to be thrilled. And instead, I’ve got this unsettled, wait-and-see feeling. Kathy and I might be ready for more ferrets, but Gus has to be ready, too.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Years ago, in college (and occasionally since), my friends and I would play a game called Zoinks. The rules were simple: As a reference to that season of Scooby Doo where every episode had a guest star, we'd just say "Zoinks!" followed by the name of someone inappropriate or odd for the gang to team up with. As in, "Zoinks, it's Walter Cronkite!" or "Zoinks! It's Rush!"
Last night on Twitter, I got the same feeling, participating in the thread #fakecelebmemoirs. Again, the rules are simple: Everyone just throws out their ideas for fake celebrity memoir titles, the more awkward and strained the pun, the better. And wham! Suddenly it's 3:30 in the morning.
So in order to think my late late evening wasn't completely ill-spent, here are a few favorites that I came up with:
"Devito, Devidi, Devici" #fakecelebmemoirs
"A Longoria Day's Journey Into Night" #fakecelebmemoirs
"Earnest Borgnine" #fakecelebmemoirs
"And Ringo Is His Name-o" #fakecelebmemoirs
"Who Is Alex Trebek?" #fakecelebmemoirs
"Wheel-ing in the Years: Pat Sajak Remembers" #fakecelebmemoirs
"Olmos, Famous" #fakecelebmemoirs
"Seeing John Malkovich Being John Malkovich," by Mrs. John Malkovich #fakecelebmemoirs
"Mullet Over: The Billy Ray Cyrus Story" #fakecelebmemoirs
"I Taught You To Read, So Buy My Damn Book," by LeVar Burton #fakecelebmemoirs
And here are a few of my favorites that other people came up with.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Watching Republican primaries is tough. Strategy-wise, I'm generally rooting for the least electable person to win -- in tonight's Delaware Senate race, that'd be Christine "You'll Go Blind" O'Donnell, who's much less likely to beat Dem Chris Coons than Delaware fixture Mike Castle (who was governor when I lived there).But if she wins, the country runs the risk of having Crazy Abstinence Lady making decisions for people who live in the real world. So on the whole, I'm hoping Castle wins. Because not only would it be best if O'Donnell wasn't in the senate, but Castle strikes me as the sort of reasonable, non-lockstep Republican that the GOP will need to keep their ship from crashing into Crazy Reef. So I'm crossing my fingers for anti-strategy tonight. Go, Castle.
Friday, September 10, 2010
So the other day, I finally had some frozen mussels for lunch that I'd bought at a discount from the supermarket a while back. By a while back, I mean a long while back. I can't say precisely when I bought them, but the "best before" date on the package was May, 2009, so it's entirely possible that I bought them during the Bush Administration.
But anyway, they were frozen, so I decided to give them a shot.
Upon hearing that I had expired mussels in my system, Kathy just shook her head, sadly. She gave me a look like I was a little kid who doesn't know how the world works.
"Honey... the freezer isn't a time machine," she said. "Things still.... happen... to food in there. It doesn't stop time."
"Oh yeah?" I said. Tell that to Captain America!"
"Tell it to Encino Man!"
She rolled her eyes, like I was being unreasonable. "They're fictional."
"Tell it to Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer!" And with that, I rested my case.
Turns out, everything's been peachy since then, stomach-wise. I've suffered no ill efects whatsoever, eating those mussels in 2010. But I wonder... could that be the true end of the story? Or am I throwing up inexplicably, sometime back in 2008?
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Over at the Captain Comics site, I've been blogging once a week for the past two months about DC Comics' digital releases through Comixology. It's largely a game of pattern recognition -- DC launched its digital initiative a couple of months ago, and I've decided that there might be something to learn by keeping track of what books it releases, when, and with what frequency. Primarily it's an exercise in bookkeeping. Most people that read this blog who'd be interested in such things probably know that already.But there are a handful of you -- hey Greg! hey Geoff! hey Rob! -- who might not.
So here's a link to the latest column, and here's a link to the lot of 'em. And while you're over there, consider stopping by the boards, too -- it's really the friendliest comics site around.
What kind of sick creep remembers the Sept. 11 attacks, and thinks, "ch-CHING!"? Oh, right. These two idiots, making money hand over ignorant fist.
Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck are appearing together in Anchorage, Alaska Saturday to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and tickets don't come cheap: The Ticketmaster page for the event lists regular adult tickets at between $73 and $130 and tickets plus a "meet & greet" at $225.
There's a "wet section" and a "dry section," separating those who want to drink from those who don't. It's like the mullet of remembrance festivals: Mourning in the front, party in the back!
I can't help but think, on their visits to Ground Zero, these two look at all those vendors selling WTC keychains and other schlock, and they think, "Pikers."
Sunday, September 05, 2010
Back to high school, on closing night of Brighton Beach Memoirs. I got there just as I was delivering Eugene's last monologue.
Then I hung out backstage for a while. No one was really asking who I was, but evenutally I trew all the rules of time travel out the window, and just told people: I'm a time traveler. I'm Rob, grown up.
None of the kids backstage believed me. It was only the crew back there -- I think the actors (including myself) were taking their curtain call. And I never did get to have a conversation with myself before I was called back to the future.
Time travelers, be good to your younger selves. Don't interfere.
Friday, September 03, 2010
At Folk Fest, there's a lot of hanging around at night, wandering through camp, or sitting around a campfire. And since you're on a field full of strangers (or best friends you don't know yet), well, it's a good idea to have an icebreaker. Hence: The Magic 8-Ball.
Jay started bringing a Magic 8-Ball to the campsite a few years ago, and we've used it to start conversations, settle disputes, and find our way around the camp so we can encounter secret bars(!). The 8-Ball is invaluable. Mostly, we ask people if they have questions for the 8-Ball. We hear lots of questions, dish out lots of billiard-style wisdom, and everybody's happy -- although more often than not, the answer hedges a bit, such as "Signs point to Yes" or "Outcome hazy. Ask again later."
We prefer that they ask the question aloud, but if they don't, we just assume the question is about whether they'll finish the night with a little naked wrasslin'.
We're always right about this, by the way. It's the only thing people are shy about -- usually because their prospective wrassle-mate is standing right next to them.
(Oh, wait - one last order of business. Mom, this might be a good time to stop reading. Just pretend I end this story with something you'll find really funny.)
But I just related this story to a friend in an e-mail, and I thought I'd share it with you, too. Because the World Must Know.
Sometimes they're not shy. A woman came up to our campsite, shook the 8-Ball and asked, "Will I get head tonight?"
The Magic 8-Ball for once did not equivocate. "YES." That's it. No hedging, no weaseling -- just Yes. She was going to get the headiest head in the camp.
She was very pleased. "That's right," she agreed, making a circular scrubbing motion around her midsection before she walked off: "It's 'cause I baby-wipe that shit!"
Ah, camping! Hope the 8-Ball got that one right, since she put in the effort.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Seven and a half, actually. I'll spend a couple of them sleeping, a couple more driving, and then a good chunk of time hauling a ridiculous amount of camping gear out of my car. And then: Bliss.
So here's the incomparable Chris Smither, an amazing songwriter and guitarist, to keep you company while I'm gone. He's singling No Love Today... and ths weekend, he'll be singing at Fest.
"No Love Today" by Chris Smither from Tom Weber on Vimeo.
Wish you were here.
Monday, August 16, 2010
And these problems, I expected, wouldn't be entirely super-villain oriented. In walking on Earth, Superman would be encountering the recession, corporate greed, pollution, maybe the effects of global warming, who knows? It'd be a return of the Social Justice Superman from the Golden Age. The guy who kept landlords from raising their rents and evicting goodhearted people. The guy who puts the heat on corrupt senators. This guy (click to enlarge and read):
|"You can announce that henceforth my mine will be the safest in the country"|
Later on, Superman brings them a guy who's sick and obviously dying, and they use their technology to heal him. And then Superman has an idea, and this happens (click to enlarge and read):
|"It is expected that as many people as were fired during the automobile shutdowns will be rehired to handle the wave of equipment slated to be produced by these factories."|
Now, this is definitely over-simplifying real-world issues. I got to the point where the aliens set up a medical research firm and gave everyone jobs, and I thought "Oh, come on!" But then I realized something:
That's exactly how something like this would have been handled in the Golden Age. Find a problem, find a solution, and Outta Here! (I mean, look at how that Golden Age mine-safety story was wrapped up. In one panel!)
And while that isn't necessarily satisfying to today's readers (it wasn't initially satisfying to me), I think it's an interesting choice for JMS to make, particularly because it goes against the grain. And I have to consider -- do I really want five issues with pages devoted to the aliens putting this company together? There's something to be said for getting it done and capping it off with a happy (though facile) ending.
When this storyline started, my biggest hope for it was that it would give us done-in-one stories of the "Social Justice" Superman of the Golden Age. And in this issue, that's exactly what we got.
So now that I've seen it, I've got to decide... is that really what I wanted?
I'm not sure. It's still not entirely satisfying to me, but I have to admit it's something of a catharsis to see someone essentially punch unemployment in the face.
Thursday, August 05, 2010
|Climb, She-She, climb!|
She was a pretty little sable ferret, who we called “the beautiful lady.” (Or climby-girl, because of her high-altitude exploits. Or slinky-girl, because of the way she'd positively ooze herself out of the ferret bed, like one of Dali's melted clocks.) We got her several years ago, along with Gus, Blink and the Dude, from neighbors of friends, who found them too much to handle. And they were a handful, to be sure.
I always had trouble telling Blink apart from She-Devil. They were both sables, but Blink was a little smaller and lighter than She, and had a different coloration on her nose. They were so similar, in fact, that after Blink passed away, I sometimes imagined that we’d gotten the IDs wrong, and thought that Blink was adjusting to her new life getting called She-Devil.
|She-Devil and me|
In later years, she gradually lost her sight completely. This did not deter her in the least. She’d climb, look around the corner, and drop into the dark, trusting that the kitchen floor would catch her. The only concession to her blindness was that, when she would leave her cage, she would walk the perimeter of our family room to make sure everything was where she expected it to be.
|The Fab Four, piled behind a speaker in early days|
She-Devil somehow spared us that. There was no feeling of helplessness with her; we were on vacation, but even our niece, who was ferret sitting for us, says that she just walked into her room to check on them, and She-Devil didn’t move. No prolonged illness; she just stopped.
|She-Devil and Gus|
And somehow, the whole episode let me finally let go of the worry I’d always harbored. She seemed happy and well at last, and that’s how I’ll remember her. A dedicated escape artist, and a clever, brave girl who would kiss me on the nose a little almost every day.
We’ll miss you, She-She.
UPDATE: As you can see, I've added some photos of She-Devil and her friends. Here are also a couple links to some of her greatest hits.
Friday, July 23, 2010
I'm editing some professional listings, and there's one that begins:
[NAME WITHHELD] is a professional photographer who specializes in weddings, events and headshots.
But in my head it reads:
[NAME WITHHELD] is a professional assassin who specializes in weddings, events and headshots.
So far, though,I haven't had to spruce up the listings of any professional killers. Maybe if I were working for Craigslist...
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Last night, Kathy & I went to a screening of the east coast premiere of Tim Sullivan's horror-comedy 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams. Tim's a Metuchen guy, and he came back to him hometown (and the Forum Theatre) to debut his most recent gorefest.
And a festival it is: The town of Pleasant Valley, Georgia, holds an annual "Guts 'n' Glory Jamboree" in which northerners are duped into their little town and are murdered and eaten as payback for the slaughter of 2001 town residents during the Civil War. (Oops, sorry, the War Between the States. Please don't eat me, cannibal Confederates.) But this year, when the sheriff decides not to allow the Jamboree to continue, the band of creepy hicks and inbreds (led by The Devil's Regects' Bill Moseley and Lin Shaye from There's Something About Mary, who plays the deliciously overt-the-top Granny) decides to take its slaughtershow on the road. Which is how they encounter the cast and crew of Road Rascals, a thinly veiled mockup of Paris Hilton & Nicole Ritchie's The Simple Life, stuck in Iowa with two flat tires.
After circling the crew of Yankees (though as one guy points out, they're really from California) like sharks for a while, the Maniacs start killing them one by one, and then, eventually, in packs. I like a horror movie with a large cast -- there's plenty of people that can die, instead of killing the same poor schlubs over and over.
One thing about this movie: Leave any sense of racial and gender sensitivity at the door. I mean, it's a horror movie, so human dignity really isn't on the agenda. Everyone here, Maniac and Hollywood creep alike, is a stereotype, or is treated as one by the Maniacs. Part of that is just the obviousness of the writing (horror isn't a genre that rewards subtlety), and part is because Sullivan clearly enjoys poking a finger where it hurts. Some of this is eye-rolling; other parts are quite a bit more unsettling. When a black man participates in a carnival-style lynching of a black woman -- not because she's black, but because she's a northerner, though when someone says "northerner," they're cautioned not to use the "N-word" -- you know that Sullivan is deliberately crossing as many lines as he can, just to see what he can get away with. And all the while, you're watching thinking "he's not really going to do this, is he? He can't do that!" And for a moment you think Sullivan has pulled away from it at the last minute, and you realize that the reprieve doesn't make it better. And then...
Anyway, enough of that. Suffice it to say that there are plenty of stereotypes on display here, and most of them get slaughtered -- though none in quite so historically ugly a fashion. And in general, if you like horror movies and lots of red squirting everywhere, if you're willing to overlook clumsy (intentionally clumsy, I think) stereotypes, and if you like girls taking their tops off (since that happens a lot, too), you'll possibly like this movie. But I don't think you'll like that scene. I doubt you're intended to.
So down in Stone Harbor last week, Kathy & I scheduled a kayak trip around the wetlands. The house we were staying in was situated right on the bay -- we'd even set up some crab traps one morning -- and thought it would be great to have a little sunset tour.
That Thursday, riding our bikes back from the beach, Kathy took a spill on her bike. (Message to all those who've forgotten this since you were 12 -- don't ride a bike in flip-flops!) She scraped up her elbow pretty badly, and cut her knee, ankle and toe, as well. And took most of the force of the fall in her shoulder.
Since Kathy knew that she would not take it easy in the two-person kayak, we decided to cancel. Problem was, it was too late to cancel and get our money back, so we'd be out 80 bucks. So I asked my mom if she wanted to come out and join me. To my surprise, she said yes.
With Mom in front and me in the aft, we had a great time paddling the kayak all through the tour. (The tour was put on by the Wetlands Institute and Harbor Outfitters, by the way.) We paddled right past the dock behind our house, where the family was all waiting to see us. (Some of them were waiting fro us to come back, but we never passed the house again, instead making a big circle.)
We traveled about six miles, all told, and ended the trip paddling into a beautiful sunset over the wetlands. And as much as I would have liked taking the trip with Kathy, I was really happy to spend those hours paddling around with my mom. I don't get to spend a lot of time, just me and her, and when we do spend time together, it's never doing anything -- it's generally just sitting and talking. So working together to propel a little plastic boat six miles? That was really something special.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Somehow I lost all the text to a long-ish post about (well, sort of about) Harvey Pekar, the great comics author who died yesterday. Hopefully I'll be able to recreate it, but in the meantime, here's a link to an interview from a few years ago, and Heidi MacDonald's rundown of the tributes and retrospectives.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
And a good time was had by all.
Seventeen of us in one house, and we managed to have fun and live together amicably, like the ginormous family we are. We're a good, friendly bunch, and every now and then we get together and prove it.
There was only one member of the household with whom I must admit I have irreconcilable differences. And that is a cable television network called Nick Jr.
Now, Nick Jr. certainly does the trick of keeping the kids occupied and, for a while, quiet. And I realize that there were probably moments where it saved the day, temper-wise. But man... when it was on the TV, what I'd give to hear a baritone voice. And how can they call the show Go, Diego, Go! when he's always around? Worse yet, he never eats any of the animals he finds. (Though there was a wonderful moment when Go, Diego Go! became a drinking game, with us all tipping our beers whenever he spoke a word or phrase in Spanish. Gracias, Diego.)
Anyway, upon our arrival home, Kathy & I realized that there could be only one antidote to a week of intermittent kid's TV: the last two episodes of Deadwood. Swearing, murder, drinking, swearing, betrayal, complex sentence structures, swearing, prostitution, gambling, drugs, and did I mention the fucking swearing? Oh, home. You know just what I need sometimes.
I've got some good stories of vacation, and I intend to tell them here. But tonight's for homecoming.
Anyway, here's a little video demonstrating why it's best that we didn't bring any Deadwood DVDs to the shore with us.
Saturday, July 03, 2010
Thursday, July 01, 2010
So I just finished Neil Young's Greendale, with script by Josh Dysart and art by the amazing Cliff Chiang, and... well, the art is by the amazing Cliff Chiang!
The art is gorgeous. Gorgeous! Here's a page:
Problem is, the story never hits the ground for me. It's about Sun Green, a girl in a long line of the Green family where the women all seem to have some sort of nature-magic quirk about them, and then disappear. Reading it, all I could think was that I bet the album would have blown me away... particularly if I were hearing it during the middle of the Bush era. But either way, songs seem able to imply more than the lyrics might say -- we're invited to fill in the blanks with our own experience and details, where Greendale the comic fills those blanks in for us.
Now, I'm a big ol' lib, but the politics in this book just seemed simplistic to me, and never entirely... Idon't know, solid. Bush bad, war bad, drilling bad. More sloganeering and cheerleading than policy. They don't have much depth, and I guess I was hoping for a little more. Or maybe a little less politics altogether. The environmentalism is really at the heart of this book. It never really comes together for me, but taking it out would have gutted the book. But it feels too airy, somehow.
Aargh. At least the book is coherent, which is more than I can say for this post.
Anyway, when I was searching for the art I posted, I found this french website that posted material that an earlier artist, Sean Gordon Murphy, completed before Cliff Chiang replaced him (I don't know why). And I have to say, as much as I love (love!) Cliff's art, I think Murphy might have been a better choice. The people look a little cartoonier, a little less glossy. And with Murphy on art, I likely wouldn't have been interested enough to buy it (Chiang was the draw for me). But I think I would have managed to touch me a little more -- wrap me up in the story more than making me stop and look at every gorgeous page.
Any thoughts? About anything? 'Cause I'm all over the map.
Friday, June 25, 2010
I spent a week without updating Twitter, or, really, this blog. So I just took five minutes and recapped the week on Twitter, and I see a second bird over here that I think I can nail with the same stone. THWAK!
- This is the week where I start regretting my car's AC is broken.
- Sea Bear vs. Grizzly Shark? I gotta go with Grizzly Shark.
- Who knew sake could freeze?
- Five guys fires don't need ketchup, vinegar or anything. They are inherently perfect.
- The problem with the cliffhanger to Legion #2 is that it's the same cliffhanger as Legion #1.
- Flash 2 had the same problem.
- Damn, this is the best barbecued chicken I've ever made.
And, of course:
- GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLL! #tweetsfrommyweekaway
Saturday, June 19, 2010
For your viewing and learning pleasure, here's the Forbes chart of the 2008 migrations to and from Delaware County, Pennsylvania, that I couldn't figure out how to grab the other day. Courtesy of Scott Neely, Scooby-Doo artist extraordinare, who certainly knows his way around a graphic. Thanks, Scott!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Okay, we know Batman is big on the Bat-bling. He pimps out his car, his motorcycle, his helicopter (a whirlybat!), his plane... when these things are comin' at ya, you know who's behind the wheel. It's all part of the "strike fear into the hears of criminals" motif he's got going. Ever since his parents died, this is the shit he lives for.
I understand. It's a big deal, and a guy's gotta have hobbies. But as I was looking through this month's Batman 700, I finally got around to looking at the four pages of Batcave schematics -- the sort of thing that bores me to tears, usually. And I noticed this inset picture, of the Bat-Computer.
It's shaped like a bat.
I love this. It's like, after all those other things, he just couldn't help himself. He just had to spring for the Bat-monitors. "I know know one will see it but me, Robin and Alfred, but... can't I just want something nice? Is that so wrong? I'm rich, I can afford it. A guy can only have so many batarangs, right? Besides, if it's not bat-shaped... I mean, no one will know, but I'll know. I just... I don't want some normal, square-shaped computer nagging me in the back of my head, throwing me off my game. No, I've gotta go with the bat-shape." Batman has become as obsessive-compulsive as Little Dot.
Now I'm dying to see what the Batcave toilets look like.
This is cool. Well, as long as you define "cool" as "an interesting way to present data," which is how we roll, here at Laughing at the Pieces. Forbes magazine has set up a site where you can click on any county in the U.S. (Here's one for Delaware County, Pa., where I grew up; the screencap of Orange County, Calif., below, is from Kevin Drum's post on it, because he's a pro blogger with at least a modicum of technical skill, and I, apparently, am a ten-thumbed chump incapable of grabbing a simple jpeg), and see the inward and outward migration from the county, based on IRS data. (The data doesn't list moves of less than 10 people, so not every move is represented.)
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
So the other day, when I put these White Stripes lyrics atop the blog:
"I'm thinkin' bout my doorbell. When ya gonna ring it? When ya gonna ring it?"
I had no idea I would actually be buying a doorbell. But there it is, next to the back door and the front door, a little wireless doorbell that sounds a ringer that it turns out you can't hear unless your in the same room with the ringer. So I should put it in the computer room, which was the point of the whole exercise -- to have some signal for Kathy to use when she gets home from work and I've let the ferrets run around the family room, so that she can't safely open the back door. Knocking on the back door simply isn't loud enough.
She's even called me on the phone, once, in fact. Which would have worked, if I hadn't've been in the shower at the time. Had we a dog, I would have been in its house.
Anyway, new doorbell! Which plays all sorts of little tunes, generally off-key! One problem, though: It just doesn't have character like this one:
I look at this doorbell, and wonder what the hell the welcome mat looks like.
Anyway, just for grins (because there's little hope of it actually settling Kathy's and my disagreement on the matter, and besides, it is where it is, and inertia's a powerful thing): What height should a doorbell button be? I looked online to see if I could settle it (thinking of course I was right, I just needed proof), and it turns out that opinions vary. Which, given that among our small sample of two, opinions varied, I probably should have guessed. So what's your preference?
Also, see the poll at right.(Poll text reproduced in the comments, since it seems to be working intermittently at best.)
Monday, June 14, 2010
The trick to walk around in the dark is to bring a light with you. Shine it ahead of you and you're not walking around in the dark anymore -- even though your eventual destination might be far out of reach.
Camping at music festivals, I've done a lot of walking around in the dark. The other night, it was just me and newfound friend Bob, stumbling home to our campsites from Plentyville, after we'd both had plenty enough that day.
Kathy gave me a little copper flashlight for our anniversary (7 = copper, which was news to me!), and with it, I could see maybe 15 feet ahead of me, which was more than enough. I didn't need to light up the camp. I only needed to know that I wasn't stepping on any other tent's guy lines. That light kept me on the trail, even though, for a while in Plentyville, I didn't even know which direction I should be heading out in.
This, by the way, is a long way around an extended metaphor. Or rather, the extended metaphor is a long way around what I'm trying to get to: I'm writing a book where I never really had an ending in mind. I had a middle in mind -- a strong middle, that probably, in reality, is a strong 2/3 point -- but from there, all was dark. And I've finally gotten there.
So instead of diving into another chapter blindly (as I did the last one, and I think I might have stepped on a scorpion), I took this afternoon and just typed away at my keyboard, thinking out loud. Thinking of places the story could go from here, and places the story shouldn't go. And while I still don't quite have an endgame, I'm a lost closer. Shining that light around let me pick a direction, and I know the next few steps will get me closer to where I want to be.
So that's my unpublished novelist's advice for today: When in doubt, shine a light and start walking.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
So Rand Paul thinks that private business owners should be allowed to decide who to do business with, up to and including racial discrimination -- and yet won't respect copyright when Rush's lawyers tell his campaign to stop using their music.
Yay, situational morality!
- The idea that the Stanley Cup takes its time arriving at the stadium is flat-out weird.
- One thing I like about Chicago? They advertise Lemonheads, my favorite candy of all time, on their boards.
- I missed the announcers, but more importantly, the camera crew, from MSG. This camera moved in and out and round and round so much that I had a hard time keeping track of the puck. I felt like I was getting a mild case of motion sickness -- and I say that as a fan of The Blair Witch Project and the first season of Homicide. It's like these guys were getting paid by the zoom.
- I'm looking forward to seeing some World Cup matches, since presumably I'm not too old to see a soccer ball in motion.
- And finally, one hockey-related thought: It felt to me like the Flyers were consistently outplayed in this series, though that may be because we don't get Versus, and so I couldn't actually watch any games where they won.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Bonus Round: Here's a video of Alex Trebek, purportedly drunk (and certainly grouchy) while shooting a promo (though one commenter says it was Diet Pepsi he was drinking).