December 31, 2005

Merry Moflinkin' New Year's Eve!

Follow along tonight as the ball gets dropped in NYC via webcam or check out last year's Times Square celebration in 360-degree surround - high-speed connection recommended. Or you can see what other stupid stuff is dropped around the country.

No matter what you're doing tonight, be safe, folks.

December 30, 2005


Seriously, if you've got an original way to make some cash on the web, you're gonna make that money, and this guy has apparently found a way.

December 29, 2005

Pyromaniacs be awed...

Heard a little story about a guy named Nate Smith on NPR a few days ago. Seems that Nate Smith - proprietor of is an artist who "is interested in the idea that flame can be formed or sculpted into a variety of shapes. He continues to be intrigued by the beauty and power of fire as an art medium." Admittedly, the language sounds a little pretentious, but he's making forty-foot tall tornados of fire. There's just not much cooler (or hotter or whatever) than that.

Do note, of course, that there are other artists who also use fire as a medium. And remember to be safe when and/if trying any of this stuff out.

December 28, 2005

Challenge of the Southparkfriends!

Good stuff... good stuff...

And it's clean, which is kind of rare for a South Park-based parody of anything, much less of the Challenge of the Superfriends introduction.

If you don't remember the original intro, here's a site that might help...

And in other fun parody news, NPR's Day to Day - a show that I've just gotten hooked in to - did a nice little story on a Saturday Night Live parody of the Beastie Boys. There's a dirty word in there, but it's still good stuff...

A weighty matter...

Caught the last half of the newest episode of Frontline tonight after finishing up Unleashed (review posted tomorrow). The Frontline dealt with comparing diets and exploring issues dealing with America's increasingly frightening weight problem. It's something that came to my attention most graphically a year or two ago when I saw Super Size Me down at the Esquire. The documentary got a lot of publicity because of the stunt from the filmmaker of eating McDonalds for thirty straight days. His health, of course, went into the toilet, but while showing what happened to him, he did a great job exploring the causes of and possible solutions to America's obesity epidemic.

This really is something that we each have to worry about for ourselves instead of thinking of things as a national problem. I'm going to try to get started and just, in fact, ordered a pair of pedometers from America on the Move, an organization that encourages people to become more active daily by counting the number of steps we each take. I might report here my starting conditions (might not) and see where I go from there.

At the moment, however, I'm trying to let some back pain suffered this past week heal before starting any kind of major exercise change. Maybe I'll just cut back on the Resses's Cups first...

December 27, 2005

Ranking the rank...

If we're willing to rank stupid but real stuff, then I'm thinking that we should be able to rank fictional things as well. It makes about as much sense. On that note, check out the richest fictional characters, vote for the best fictional teachers, read about the 100 best fictional characters, or compare the highest earning fictional characters.

December 26, 2005

Collected stupidity...

My blog is clean. Most of the posts on this blog are as well, but they aren't all linking to clean things. They are, however, linking to pretty entertaining things.

December 24, 2005

Merry Moflinkin' Christmas, folks...

Don't think I'll be posting tomorrow since we're off to visit the families this afternoon, so I thought I'd wish everybody out there a very merry non-denominational Christmas.

To get you in the mood, here are some sites that have streaming Christmas audio for all tastes. Take a listen, pour some nog, turn on the Christmas tree, and groove the evening away...

December 23, 2005

Posting tomorrow today...

I'm lazy, so I'm posting Friday's entry on Thursday

Because I know so many of you look to me for advice, I give you 100 Mark's Remarks by Mark Gruenwald...enjoy...

December 22, 2005

The golden age of cartoons...

The golden age of comics is five.

With those words began last week's Comics 101, and I find that it's true. The best comics (or cartoons or whatever) are the ones produced when you were five years old. They're the ones that helped form your opinions, and they're the ones that you think of whenever anybody mentions comics and cartoons to this day, and in honor of that fact, I'm here to offer up three of my favorites from childhood.

First up is the Super Friends with their rockingly cool Hall of Justice, spinning star fades, and their rockin' narrator - as done beautifully by Frank Caliendo nowadays, by the way. The Super Friends taught us all sort of important things - always include a made-up superhero of every ethnicity in every group, make sure to have non-pwered teen sidekicks around, and be certain that the bad guys have one member of their team to exactly match up with each member of your own team.

Next is Thundarr the Barbarian where I first learned most of my earth science - you know, the horrors of what happens if a comet strikes the moon. Things'll be really bad, but the mutants and return of magic will save us.

Third in line would have to be GI Joe where we learned that no one has to ever die in a war because lasers shot out of guns will only hit machines but never people - even bad people.

There's also Thundercats with quality mutants again trying to save the world from magical forces beyond their control.

And finally, one that goes way back beyond my first memories of the cartoon, Battle of the Planets which seems to have been a Japanese cartoon that was just dubbed into English for me to see it. Still counts, though, because it's probably my absolute favorite from my childhood.

So, what're the best cartoons from your childhood?

December 21, 2005

Who do you trust?

I've got another blog that deals primarily with the media that I'm - as a good American - dutifully consuming, and over there I review pretty much any movie that I see. (Four in the past three days or so - it's a good Christmas break.)

In those reviews, I like to link to other movie reviews online that give other views of the film - both supporting and refuting my reviews if I can find them - because I know that not all of you will have the same tastes that I have. Today, I offer you some websites that I highly recommend to check out collections of film reviews...
  • NY Times - the biggest collection of reviews, well-written, lierate reviews...
  • Four-Word Film Reviews - the most succinct reviews out there...not terribly useful, however, unless you've already seen the film...
  • - a British site...nice reviews, some of slightly different versions of the films...
  • - nice job critiquing each part of the film separately (story, acting, directing)...because lots of stinky films have redeeming qualities...
  • Christian Answers - their big concern is whether the film has good moral qualities...they also deal with other issues, but the first line tells where on the continuum the film falls from morally good all the way through extremely offensive...
  • Metacritic - not just for film, and probably the most useful site for me because it links to dozens of other sites and provides a quanitized rating for each film (and album and DVD and video game and other stuff)...
Find something useful and start using it...and go see more movies...

December 20, 2005

Commerical art...

I'm a shill for pretty things. I have no clue whatsoever whether the new Sony Bravia television is good, bad, crap, or an expensive cardboard box filled with chicken poop, and I really don't care.

The commercial that they're using to promote it is gorgeous, especially the extended, three-minute version of it.

I don't know that it's quite as gorgeous as this Honda Accord commercial that was made in 2003. It's certainly not an intricate, but the Sony commercial is probably prettier.

Also impressive would be this Carlton Draught ad.

December 19, 2005

America's museum...

The Smithsonian is an amazing museum, and it's mine....well, it's ours.

It's a phenomenal collection of the most treasured artifacts - cultural and historical - and every American should take a tour of its dozen branches around Washington, DC. But if you can't, you might want to check out some of its travelling exhibits if they come anywhere near you.

Or if you don't have a chance to do that, at least check out Dan Barone's article over at ESPN's Page 2 as he gets to go into the vaults of the Smithsonian to check out some of the best sports artifacts found there.

December 17, 2005


There is very little glory here in being a blogger. I'm sure there are some blogs that have gone bigtime and get tons of media attention and web traffic, but if that's why you're doing this, you might as well stop. Unless you reveal some super secret government conspiracy on your blog, you're gonna remain small and anonymous. Today, I provide a few links to help fight that feeling.

First, a wiki how to site offers up an article on how to disuade yourself from becoming a blogger.

Secondly, I provide a few links to the blogs that I check regularly. I do warn you in advance, however, that these are blogs that are certainly not maintained by me and hence may contain questionable topics and/or content. Browse them at your own risk.And just so you know, means that I know it's got some adult themes and/or language that I'm not gonna be putting in this blog.

December 16, 2005

Star Spangler Science...

There clearly is no better science teacher on the planet than me.

But there are a few who are more famous... Steve Spangler out in Denver seems to have at least a bit of solid local celebrity. In a really great demo - that I'm going to try over break - you can see him making a real mess of a morning show host. Check out his blog for a bunch of other awesome demos and videos. (To see why this works, by the way, check over here.)

There's also the pretty rockin' Lee Marek who has been on David Letterman's show and on the Bozo show. He's even taken some of his students onto the Letterman show with him. The kids get to do some pretty cool experiments on Letterman as well. He also does a lot of rockin' demos not on television. I've been lucky enough to see him at a couple of NSTA workshops through the years. They're not the biggest circles in the world, but he's kinda famous in chemistry teacher circles.

I'd also like to give a shout out to Bob Becker who has a much lower internet profile but who is, nonetheless, a pretty spectacular guy who's contributed a ton of techniques and ideas to the chemistry teacher knowledge bank.

And on a more personal and chemical note, I owe uncalculable thanks to David Phillips one of my great chemistry profs at Wabash; his wife Pru Phillips, under whom I did my student teaching and who is a truly spectacular chemistry teacher; Lee Cordrey, my mentor and friend at Mt. Healthy HS; Melanie Huber of Terre Haute South Vigo HS; and Doug Studer, who teaches next door to me at PHS.

If you're a chemistry person interested in any of these guys' stuff, check out their opinions before borrowing their ideas.

December 15, 2005

Wikipedian issues

There's been a bit of a flap over Wikipedia in the news of late. Seems that an biography of John Siegenthaler, Jr. was posted saying that he had been involved in the John F. Kennedy assassination. The poster of the article claims that it was posted as a prank that seems not to have been caught by Wikipedia's typically reliable article policies. There have always been some concerns about the site's open-source editing and possibilities for abuse, and Wikipeidians are aware of such concerns.

A number of websites express their problems with Wikipedia. Various media outlets have also done stories about Wikipedia - NPR, USA Today,

Wikipedia has made changes of late to make things a little less open source, requiring registration for editing of their articles.

I've been a fan of Wikipedia since I first heard about it about a year ago, and I'm happy to see that a recent study suggests that science articles in Wikipedia is not significantly less accurate than those in Britanica.

For the sake of full disclosure, I should probably point out that I have written article on Wikipedia and am a registered member.

December 14, 2005

Open the box, boys

Joey deserves big props for this one.

It's Pandora, a project of the Music Genome Project. Interesting little thing here. The genome folks have taken music, sorted it by artist and song, assigned each some qualities on a continuum (acoustic vs. electric, deep vs. frivolous), and set things up so that you can get a streaming music station based on suggestions from what you like. For example, you want to hear some Richard Thompson, so you type in his name. They might start out with some Richard Thompson and then move onto another British guitar guy, then a folk-rocker in the same vein, and all you have to do is kick back, enjoy things, and rate a few songs so they can improve the recommendations.

It's something I've just found, but I'm locked into it for now, at least.

Give it a try.

MASSIVE attack...

Not the band, c'mon...

This is the Math And Science Song Information, Viewable Everywhere. It's a resource for science music of all levels - elementary through college science - letting you search by topic or artist or album or song title. That's not the coolest part, however. The coolest part is MASSIVE Radio, a streaming radio station of science music.

You really have no idea how excited this whole thing makes's kind of sad...

December 13, 2005

Art and artists...

The library of congress recently posted an online exhibit titled Bound for Glory: America in Color, 1939-1943 that shows, for the first time, seventy of the only color pictures taken during the depression. As they state, this exhibition reveals a surprisingly vibrant world that has typically been viewed only through black-and-white images. These vivid scenes and portraits capture the effects of the Depression on America's rural and small town populations, the nation's subsequent economic recovery and industrial growth, and the country's great mobilization for World War II. Seeing the color photos, and spectacular color photos at that, of this time period is simply stunning, particularly #2, #9, #19, #39, #54, #55, #56, and #64.

For some reason, seeing these pictures made me think of an exhibit of Gordon Park's work that my wife and I saw down at the Cincinnati Art Museum a few years ago. Parks is an amazing artist, one of the few true renaissance men of the twentieth century - a great photographer, an impressive painter, and even a movie director.

As a bonus, I point you toward an up and coming artist's website that just went online.

December 12, 2005

Let's get critical, critical...

I wanna get critical...

Two sites to check out if you're curious about movies, music, books, and games.

First up is Four Word Film Reviews. There are 14000 films reviewed there with classics like...
  • Anastasia "Tsar Trek - Next Generation"
  • Blair Witch Project "Tense. Intense. In tents."
  • Best in Show "'This is Spaniel Tap.'"
  • Passion of the Christ "Gory, gory, hallelujah."
Admittedly, they're not the most helpful reviews in terms of figuring out whether a movie is good or not, but it's entertaining, none the less. It will certainly include some of your favorite films.

A lot more helpful is Metacritic which takes reviews of movies, books, tv shows, games, cds, and DVDs from dozens of sources, assigns each a numerical value based on how well the reviewer liked the media item, weights each source depending on how well known and trustworthy the source is, and provides a numerical value for every item. It's a quick way to see what the critics around the country are saying about whatever you want to know. For example, you could wade through dozens of different websites to find out if the new Narnia movie is any good, or you could head to metacritic, see one page, skim a couple of lines from dozens of reviews, and see that it got a 77 out of 100 (good but not all-time great. I find myself using metacritic to get a quick snapshot of things more and more frequently.

December 11, 2005

Be charitable...

It's approaching the holiday time when we're reminded of how fortunate we are and how unfortunabte others are as well. At school this week (the last before a two-week winter break, thankfully), we have three or four different charitable drives going one - canned food, coats and hats, and toys.

The spirit of giving, however, exists on the internet as well, and it's becoming amazingly easy to donate things here and there. One place that I popped across today is a site called Child's Play where an online comic called Penny Arcade (I'd link, but there are some dirty words - funny and geeky but dirty) has started a charity in which hospitals around the country (the nearest to Cincy are Kosair Children's in Louisville and Riley in Indianapolis) post links to wish lists for stuff to entertain the kids while they're in the hospital. You can go to each hospital's wish list, purchase something, and have it shipped directly to the hospital. No muss, no fuss, easy as can be.

Take a minute and check what the kids need. I'm leaning toward some books for the Kosair Children's Hospital.

Or you can help out another worthy charity.

December 10, 2005

It was the best of art...

I'm a comic book geek. Don't know if you've noticed that just yet, but it's the case.

I love reading good comic books and looking at great comic book art. And if you're with me on that second point, I've got a couple of sites to point out to you. First, there's the Comic Art Community Gallery where bunches of comic art fans have uploaded everything from convention sketches to comic covers. You can search by artist or character. Next, there's the Grand Comic-Book Database where the goal is to collect the covers of every comic book published. Without work such as this, we would risk losing some of the greatest comic art ever produced.

December 9, 2005

Because I'm up already...

Ah, the Cincinnati sports scene. Forever a second-class city...

For the first time in my ten years here in town, the Cincinnati Bengals look to be turning things in a positive direction. Carson Palmer, Rudi Johnsons, TJ Hushmaicantspellhisname, Chad Johnson, and a whole bunch of interceptions are making Cincy look like the second or third best team in football this year, even prompting some sports writers to annoint them as the team that might beat the Colts. Of course, I'm pretty much just following the Team Formerly Known as the Bungles because they're helping my fantasy team - the Hedley Lamarrs - to an 11-2 record and #1 seed heading into this weekend's playoffs (thank you Carson Palmer, Rudi Johnson, and the defense).

But to balance things out, the Cincinnati Redlegs have taken a further turn for the worse. I'm actually okay with the recent trading of Sean Casey - he's beloved here in town, but he's not a great player. He's a good player who was becoming too expensive for a team that has a small-market budget. But trading for Tony Womack is about as dumb a move as the team could have made. He's got an awful on-base percentage. He's old enough that he's certainly not going to be a part of Cincinnati's future. The only way this turns out to be good is if he has a hot first month and ends up getting traded for better prospects (a la Joe Randa).

The Reds stink.

Oh, and as an addendum to yesterday's Masque of the White Death post, I do have a snowday today. Apparently, I'm always wrong.

December 8, 2005

The Masque of the White Death!

The White Death comes at us from the sky!!!

Apparently, the city of Cincinnati is gripped by the fear of weather that isn't even here yet. National weather services are predicting a whole five inches of snow!!!!!! Everyone, hide the children, protect your women, go to the grocery and buy milk and bread. We shall all be trapped forever.

Or is it paranoia?

Here, by the way, is a picture with our school just off of the left edge of the photo. Do you think we should expect a snow day for tomorrow?

December 6, 2005

Twenty five...or...

We go five by five...because I felt like putting 'em top five favorite...

Superhero movies...
  1. Mystery Men - slighted masterpiece
  2. Batman Begins - note for note nearly perfect
  3. X2: X-Men United - first one bad, second one very good
  4. Spiderman
  5. Superman - though it hasn't aged well
Non-Superhero Comic Book Movies...
  1. Sin City - just started reading the graphic novels, the most perfect adaptation of any comic book ever to the screen
  2. Road to Perdition - moving film
  3. Flash Gordon - such camp, and a great soundtrack
  4. Hellboy
  5. American Splendor
John Cusak Movies...
  1. Grosse Point Blank - I get sucked in everytime it's on tv
  2. High Fidelity - there are comments made by my wife that I am this poor schmuck
  3. Better Off Dead
  4. The Thin Red Line - though he's barely in it
  5. Being John Malkovich - another one that isn't aging well at all...stunning the first time through
Animated Movies...
  1. Akira - but the original English dubbing, the new stinks
  2. Spirited Away - one of the few movies I own
  3. Triplets of Belleville - another that I own, beautiful and nearly wordless
  4. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  5. South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut - so foul, so wrong, so entertaining
  6. Bonus - Rikki Tikki Tavi - because I have great memories of it from my childhood
Non-English Films...
  1. Hero - greatest movie ever made?...I think it has a claim
  2. Jesus of Montreal - probably not great, but I like it
  3. Cinema Paradiso - real weeper
  4. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  5. Seven Samauri - though The Magnificant Seven is better

The weather outside is frightful...

But Calvin and Hobbes are so delightful...

Check the powerpoint that a friend of mine sent out (not that he in any way created it)...

Or, if you don't have the Office thing going down, check out the jpg over here which has most of them...

There are so many times that I open up the comics page and miss Calvin and Hobbes, though I find myself missing Bloom County less and less...some things just don't age well...

December 5, 2005

A little synergy

Ok, so my wife has signed on to run the Flying Pig Marathon here in Cincinnati on May 7, 2006. It's going to be a first marathon for her is she does it, and that makes things a bit of a long shot. But she is a stubborn cuss - having walked the 2100+ miles of the Appalachian Trail in spite of having never hiked and backpacked more than a night in her life.

More impressive and close to my heart is that she's doing it as a part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training fundraiser. It's a cause that's become an important part of my life in the past few years as my school does a major fund raiser for them called Pasta for Pennies.

Today, however, I've giving the shout out to her so that you folks can get an opportunity to donate to her via the interweb using the site that she's set up. While you're there, feel free to donate to any of her Southern Ohio co-runners.

Freaky food

I really don't understand what's happenning at Alinea in Chicago, and odds are pretty good that I never will because it qualifies as one of the most expensive restaurants around.

That being said, I am amazingly curious and have been since I read this article in Food & Wine magazine over the summer. There are also a few other reviews out there, one of which in particular shows pictures of what some of the menu items look like.

December 4, 2005

Much Betta...

Let's see, it was a Friday night, and we were in need of a quick dinner option. Neither of us were in the mood to cook, and I wanted pizza. The easy and somewhat standard option was simply to head over to the local Papa John's, but Karlen was more in the mood for a pizza that she tried with a friend of hers, so down to Norwood we Betta's Italian Oven.

Betta's is new to me, but it's a great little place and one I'm sure we'll be frequenting more often now that we know it's around. It's takes up a couple of storefronts along Montgomery Rd. in Norwood - thankfully with parking around back - and has a great atmosphere of a family restaurant - decidely non-chain (which is a big bonus for us). There's a walk-up counter for take-out (and the eventual settling of the bill) where you can see the salads and antipasto items - like roasted red peppers and a couple of what look like wonderful pasta salads. Behind the counter then, is a large wood-fired pizza oven.

The menu, then, is centered around that oven with great, thin semi-gourmet (but not fancy and stupid) pizzas. We had the margherita pizza with a couple of side salads (I'd steer clear of the tangy garlic house dressing - a little too harsh with the white vinegar for me). Great flavor and crunch to the pizza - especially with the standard red pepper flakes thrown about. And, admittedly, we finished splitting a couple of great desserts - the NY-style cheesecake and a wonderful tiramisu. All for right at $20 for the two of us.

For those of you with a slightly more adult taste, I do warn that Betta's doesn't have a liquor license but does welcome you to bring your own adult refreshment - for a $5 corking fee.

Good stuff all in all - inexpensive cost, good atmosphere, family friendly, great food - five stars in my book. Check out their menu online through BearCash Coupons - though the coupons are expired.

Other quick shoutouts to my other favorite pizza places around the city: Dewey's, Papa John's, and Pomodori's.

December 3, 2005

When casting couches go wrong...

Let's see...

Burt Reynolds - slight southern accent, 70's icon

Jason Statham - middle class British, thuggish accent, action movies, often seen with stupid martial arts-types fight sequences

Ray Liotta - New Yawk accent, bug eyes

Matthew Lillard - Shaggy, bug eyes, stoner accent

Claire Forlani - last seen in Mallrats

Let's see, does this sound like the cast of a mideival epic movie? No? Then, what if we throw in some ninjas?

Yup. In the Name of the King: a Dungeon Seige Tale is officially listed as being in post-production by, so that means we'll be seeing it in the theaters soon enough. But if you can't wait for a glimpse at the train wreck that it's sure to be, head on over and check out the trailer.

This, by the way, is what the Lord of the Rings has brought upon us.

December 2, 2005

I've got gas...

Well, I need to get gas today, anyway. My car is getting a little low on gas, and I'll be in need of a fill up this afternoon on the way home. Luckily, I'm able to check - thanks to our rockin' webmaster here at the school.

It's kind of a neat site and lets me put a bit of the gas price paranoia that I - and I'm sure lots of us - have into some perspective. My advice is to go to the site, scroll down a bit, and check out the pump price graphs. Have fun seeing how much lower your gas prices are than those in London, England or any place in Canada or even in Washington, D.C. or Los Angeles.

Be thankful you're (as are most of my readers, I'm guessing) stuck in the good ol' Midwest.

December 1, 2005

Warning: Geekburger site

Molecule of the Month is a site that allows folks the world 'round to share their little molecular obsessions. It's a page that provides links to informational pages about dozens of molecules - each of which is a favorite of some chemist / chemistry groupie somewhere. Each of those folks have created pages introducing their choice of molecule - from VX gas to chlorophyll and diamonds. It's not a site that's gonna have broad appeal, but for those of you with some interest (like one student from my AP chemistry class in particular, I'm thinking), it's like manna from heaven.

Oh, and in a totally unrelated story, apparently this man eats dog food.