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: 


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Comings and Goings In Delaware County

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

Bat-Call-Of-Duty-4 Must Look AWESOME.

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.


Hey! Where'd Everybody Go?

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.)

Anyway, click on over to Forbes's site to see where your neighbors have gone, and where the new ones have come from. And ponder what brought nearly 100 people from Delco to Northeast Texas in 2008. Did a business transfer operations there, or did everyone just get a sudden hankering for barbecue?


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Witch Is Dead? Oh, no, it's just someone at the door.

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

Shine a Light

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

Private Property

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!


Texas Tea

From the Upright Citizen's Brigade, what happens when BP spills coffee:


Random, Non-Hockey-Related Thoughts on Tonight's Hockey Game

  • 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

Too BLANK for TV

Okay, so I find Gene Rayburn one of the unsettling people in broadcast history. (That skinny little microphone doesn't help matters any.) But this page, on the Match Game Wallpaper website, cracked me up: Six censored answers, while Match Game Fans try to figure out the offending words.

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).


Welcome to Puerto Plata! (Special TMI Edition)

Lots of stories to catch up with, so here's one from our first day in Puerto Plata.

After our flight from Newark, Kathy and took the shuttle from the Puerto Plata airport to our resort. Our room wasn't quite ready for us, so we sat at the bar and the bartender (a vivacious and funny woman named Miriam) served us drinks of increasing strength. Mine was a rum/vodka/orange juice concoction called a Happy Happy, which certainly had that effect. The fact that we were finally on vacation helped, too.

Eventually, the porter took our bags to our room and we started to get set up there. And a little while after that, we discovered we hadn't locked the door, because the maid walked right into the room. Now, to spare my honey any undue embarrassment, instead of saying what we were doing, I'll just list the various things we weren't doing.

  • We were not playing Scrabble.
  • We were not watching TV.
  • We were not filling out Sudoku boxes with random numbers.
  • We were not not having sex.

That about covers it, I think.

Anyway, the maid just stands there, speaking very quickly in Spanish, most likely explaining how very embarrassed she is. But she just stands there. And talks and talks. And then, finally, runs out of the room. She's mortified, I'm sure. And Kathy and I burst out laughing.

"That's it," I say. "By the time the week is over, we're banging a maid." Kathy automatically fist-bumped my outstretched hand, and then said, "I can't believe I just fist-bumped that."

But she did.* And for the rest of the week, our maid was all smiles whenever she saw us. Even when we were dressed.


*Although we didn't, of course.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Extended Shellfish Break

Regular posting will resume tomorrow, as it's my honey's birthday today and I've got crab cakes to fry up for her.

So here's a video from the closing act of yesterday's Crawfish Fest, Galactic. That's Cyril Neville on vocals, and Stanton Moore blasting away on the drums. I'm glad I finally got to see this song; I was heading back to the chairs with bowls of crawfish etouffee and shrimp creole at the time.

Pal Jay, who could only make Day 1 of the fest, asked us to make him feel better by telling him that Galactic sucked. No can do, buddy.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

I Mean Your Little Poodle Dog

Well, so far my Blog Every Day resolution hasn't borne a whole lot of fruit just yet. And since we're heading out to Crawfish Fest to celebrate Kathy's big four-oh for a few days, I'll have some more catch-up to do. But to tide you over, here's one of the weekend's featured performers, the amazing Marcia Ball, who wants to play with your poodle.

(And if you can't join us at Crawfish Fest, why not check out Jeri Smith-Ready's Shade? Jeri's signing at the Border Express at the Springfield Mall on Saturday, and I can tell you without a doubt that it's a damn fine book. Go!)


Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Cracking the Books

I don't have time tonight to get into what I did in Puerto Plata, so here's what I read there (and since):

Riding the Rap. An Elmore Leonard novel about Raylan Givens, now best known for being the lead character of the new show on FX, Justified. The novel was terrific (I expect no less from Leonard), and there were a lot of elements taken from it used in Episode 4: "Fixer."

Last Words: My brother gave me George Carlin's autobiography for my birthday last year, and I finally got a chance to read it. I planned on reading a chapter or so and then start another novel, but it was so engrossing that I'd finished it by the time were were stateside again. There aren't many showbiz biographies I'm interested in, but Carlin's a hero of mine. He didn't disappoint.

The Book of Three. The first book in Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain series. I've read this a number of times. Inspired by Welsh mythology, these books are to me what Tolkien's are to most of my friends. They're the fields of fantasy I played in as a kid, and they've only gotten broader and richer since I've returned. Next up is The Black Cauldron.

Power Girl: A New Beginning. I missed the first six issues of Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray & Amanda Connor's Power Girl comics, so I'm happy to see the book I've dug since issue 7 started out so strong. Every character Connor draws is filled with such personality and life, and Palmiotti and Gray provide her with playful scripts that never paint the hero is a real, flesh-and-blood person... and give the book great New York flavor, as well.

And rounding things off with another gritty crime drama, there's Daredevil: Cruel and Unusual, an well-done five-issue sequence which starts with Matt Murdock at a psychological low point, until he's confronted with a chance to defend a career criminal on death row...but who didn't do the crime he's going to die for. So why'd he confess? By Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, Michael Lark and Paul Azaceta.

There you have it: Rob's Reading Corner.


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Casting About For Castaways

I'll post something more substantial later tonight, but I want to link to MGK's excellent post about the end of Lost (and its lingering questions).

And I might as well announce my intentions to have at least one post up every day again in June. Sometimes I need a boot to the ass, y'know?

(Ted Dawson's Archie Comics version of Lost via Three Men in a Tub.)