August 31, 2009

Too Many Ninjas!

Don't play Too Many Ninjas for too long 'cause your fingers will go numb from the repetitive motions.

But it's simple fun.

You're a lone samurai being attacked by the titular too many ninjas. Use the arrow keys (alone and in combinations to hit the diagonals) to guide your sword to block their throwing stars and stab the ninjas.

There's no movement. You just stand there and let yourself stupidly get attacked.



I'm up to sixty ninjas killed in my best game.

August 30, 2009

Again, for my current students

I make the same offer I made my students at about this time last year.

I'll give up five points on their homework notebook to the first five students to email me at my school email, and I'll double it for each of them if they post a comment here.

If you do post a comment, make sure to include a mention of your account name here in your email so I know who to credit.

But don't be foolish enough to use your full, real name as your account name.

Be a little smart...

Done...five folks got the more comments will be rewarded...

Take that, leukemia!

The Girl and I collected at Kroger for two hours Sunday and two Saturday. Made $606 for the LLS.

We rock!

August 28, 2009

I know, I know...

It's only Bill Simmons's mailbags that I'll read at this point - which is largely okay because he pretty much doesn't write anything else for ESPN any more. And I just skim the stupid things and hope for a moment like this...
Q: In light of John Hughes death (one of my favorites of all time) I ask you this obvious question about "Ferris Bueller's Day Off": How is it possible to fit so much into roughly an eight hour span?
-- Mike, Columbia, Mo.

SG: Glad you brought this up. Four things amazed me after Hughes' untimely passing. First, I couldn't believe how little I knew about him given he was one of the biggest influences of my formative years, and beyond that, I couldn't believe how little thought I had given to him (not only during that time, but after). Second, I was shocked to find out that he wrote "Mr. Mom" and "Vacation." Either I knew this and forgot it, or I never knew it. Third, if you were doing a 10-round fantasy draft in which you could own the entire resume of any writer/director on DVD, John Hughes would go in the first round ... and I didn't realize this until after he died.

Fourth, it's astonishing how completely he owned the '80s compared to anyone else. When I think of a pure '80s movie, there's a specific time range (1982-1987), a specific bent (teenagers are misunderstood and deeper than we think, adults are evil or nonexistent, rich people and school administrators irrevocably suck), a definitive musical feel (can't be fully defined, but you know it when you hear it), a certain rewatchability (good movies that gained steam culturally once they hit cable) and had to resonate with people of that age range (the future Generation X) in a unique way. Well, I was there. I was John Hughes' target audience: born in 1969, weaned on pop culture, geeky and idealistic, loved music, thought way too much about stuff. And really, if you stuck 20 DVDs in a time capsule as a way to explain to future generations, "This is what the '80s were like," you'd have to include these 15 movies: "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "Risky Business," "Vacation," "Sixteen Candles," "Beverly Hills Cop," "The Breakfast Club," "Karate Kid," "About Last Night," "St. Elmo's Fire," "Ferris Bueller," "Better Off Dead," "Pretty in Pink," "Can't Buy Me Love," "Rocky IV" and "Top Gun." John Hughes was directly involved in five of the 15. This is amazing. And it doesn't even cover "Home Alone," the greatest kids movie of all-time (in my opinion, anyway).

In the last mailbag, I wrote how it's so difficult for anyone to be overrated or underrated in this day and age. But up until the moment he died, you could argue that Hughes was the single most underrated person in Hollywood. I mean, I follow the movie world as diligently as anyone and was still learning things about him after he died. I wish I had written about him before now, but honestly, it never occurred to me to do so. Which is why he was so underrated.

OK, back to Mike's "Ferris" question. So many readers asked me this that I almost felt obligated to figure it out until I remembered something: Realistically, Ferris and Cameron didn't pick up Sloane until somewhere between 9:30 and 10:15. They lived at least 25-30 minutes from downtown Chicago and returned home at about 6. We know this because Sloane looked at her watch right near the end. So that means in the span of slightly less than eight hours ...

They drove to Chicago; dropped off the car; visited the top of the Sears Tower as well the Stock Market; went to the Museum of Art long enough for Cameron to have a life epiphany; cabbed it over to the French restaurant; ate lunch at Abe Froman's table; headed over to Wrigley Field; attended an afternoon Cubs game long enough for the pizza guy to tell Ed Rooney that it was the third inning (and for Ferris to catch a foul ball); headed back to downtown Chicago; took part in a parade in which Ferris sang "Danke Schoen" on a giant float without having rehearsed it; picked up the car; drove home; hung out at Cameron's pool; spent at least 20-25 minutes trying to take the miles off Cameron's car and watched Cameron subsequently destroy his father's car and then tell them he'd take the heat for it (which always bothered me because no father would forgive something that creepy, and besides, unless his father was molesting him, how bad could he have been that you'd destroy a beautiful piece of machinery like that?); left Cameron's house so Ferris could walk Sloane home; then Ferris sprinted back to his house to make it in time for dinner.

Seems improbable, right? No way all of that stuff happens in less than 10 hours unless they basically made a two-inning cameo at the Cubs game and left. (Conceivable, by the way. How can you top catching a foul ball? And if Sloane hated baseball and pushed for them to leave after 2-3 innings, wouldn't the logical next stop for them -- if a girl who hated sports was running the show -- be that art museum?) But there's no way to know, which leads me to the following idea: Shouldn't three Chicago kids re-enact Ferris' entire day and see if they could pull it off in less than eight hours? Bring a couple of Flip cameras, tape everything, see if you can do it and stick the results on YouTube. John Hughes would be proud.
And I know just the Chicago film student to give it a try.

Katydid, if you're willing, I'll chip in to sponsor the outing.

August 27, 2009

There but for fortune, go you or I...or I...

I know I've thrown down with Tiny Ghosts before, but I just had to throw this one out there and follow up with a solid and befuddled what the frick?

Seriously, our gubment had two nuclear bombs drop out of a plane over North Carolina in the 1960's and was totally unable to recover one of them - the one which successfully went through five of its six safety systems and was fully ready to arm and detonate itself?

Holy broken arrow, Batman.

Check the details out at Wikipedia, ibiblio, or UNC's library.


We've got to stop making crap like this before some nutcase goes all Jack D Ripper on us.

August 26, 2009

Thank you, Rymdreglage

From Neatorama...just had to throw this down...

With the pudding and the pop

I'm all down with the new magazine from America's Test Kitchen Cook's Country.

I mean, it looks like it should be totally cracker, but it's not. It has the same general feeling that Cook's Illustrated has - what with the awesome scientific method recipe making and all - but their recipes just tend a little more toward the home cooking, midwest/deep south cuisine - with which I'm all good.

And I totally love the Cook's Country cooking show - even more than I do the Cook's Illustrated show - which is dang near the equivalent of high blasphemy around these parts.

For example, in a recent issue of Country, they had a recipe for something they called stained glass cake which both looks amazing and sounds fantabulous. I just need to figure out a replacement for the pineapple juice ('cause that's all icky - I'm thinking swapping lemon jello in for the pineapple juice/plain gelatin mix.)

And my search for a non-pineapple version of the recipe lead me to this phenomenal site that is practically food porn. It's full of great photos and recipes - many of which aren't even all jello, all the time.

And I'm thinking that we need more jello recipes around The Homestead.

So this weekend, I'm totally making the stained glass cake.

August 25, 2009

Lessons unlearned

Indiana was clean.

As in clean as a whistle.

Their reputation was beyond reproach.

The coach most associated with their sports program was well known for a ridiculously over the top temper and a manner that was far more reminiscent of the 1940s than the 1990s, but no one ever questioned his integrity or honesty.

That reputation was nearly destroyed by one mistake hire of Kelvin Sampson.

A spotless record takes only a single blemish to be lost forever, lost beyond any possibility of repair.

Indiana is now one of the myriad college basketball programs that has been found to be in violation of NCAA guidelines and will forever be stained with the taint of Kelvin Sampson. There is no number of Eric Gordon's who can repair that spotless record. No banners will cover it. No whiteouts will bleach that record clean.

Remember that.

And think about another high profile program that hired an equally successful college basketball coach recently, a coach with a record every bit the better of Sampson's (Sampson came to IU with a 453-256 record, Calipari to Kentucky 445-140 441-139 403-137 in college.)

Sampson's transgressions before his hiring at Indiana were based on rumors and hearsay, but at IU those transgressions turned into full blown NCAA violations.

Coach Cal comes to Kentucky as the only coach to now have two final four appearances vacated (first at Massachusetts, now at Memphis) and a trail of - at the very least - institutional looseness with regards to the NCAA rules.

Admittedly, neither infraction was ever tied directly to Calipari.

And he is a hell of a recruiter and one heck of a basketball coach.

And Kentucky certainly comes into the marriage with a far from spotless reputation.

I have no doubt whatsoever that Coach Cal will bring on-court glory to the Bluegrass during his Kentucky tenure.

I just worry that his legacy might be closer to Sampson's than to Pitino's when he departs.

August 24, 2009

The new nickname

From TheGirl after I mentioned the UC, XU flu appearances...
I think I'm going to call it ManBirdPig Flu.
If you don't get it, check it...

It's me...

Alphabet my cd's

My favorite cd's by artists in each letter of the alphabet. Only cds that I actually own (in hard copy or digital, not things that I've burned from friends or the library) are eligible here.
  • A - Ryan Adams Cardinology
  • B - Beastie Boys Paul's Boutique (though this one shifts within the Beasties)
  • C - Marc Cohn Marc Cohn (Cake's Comfort Eagle a close second)
  • D - Bob Dylan Blood on the Tapes
  • E - Steve Earle Jerusalem
  • F - Freddy Jones Band Waiting for the Night
  • G - Green Day American Idiot
  • H - Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals Burn to Shine
  • I - Chris Isaak Forever Blue
  • J - Johnny Socko Bovaquarium
  • K - Paul Kelly Words and Music
  • L - Los Lobos Kiko
  • M - Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs
  • N - Randy Newman The Randy Newman Songbook (tough call over Nirvana's MTv Unplugged
  • O - OAR Any Time Now (easy call, only O artist)
  • P - Pearl Jam No Code (tough call over Liz Phair Whitechocolatespaceegg, Pogues Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash, Prince The Hits/The B Sides, Pink Floyd Animals)
  • Q - Queen News of the World
  • R - REM Automatic for the People
  • S - Frank Sinatra The Very Good Years
  • T - Richard Thompson Action Packed
  • U - U2 No Line on the Horizon (the favorite U2 album shifts almost daily)
  • V - Dave Van Ronk Inside Dave Van Ronk
  • W - Wilco A Ghost is Born (another that shift often)
  • X - empty
  • Y - Yonder Mountain String Band Mountain Tracks Vol. 2
  • Z - Warren Zevon Learning to Flinch

And because it doesn't cost me anything but time and a bit of electrons, I'm trying to identify all the artists in the above ad from The Observer. Check the print images here. I'm putting the list in black, but you can always highlight it to get the answers. I successfully got 21 of the 26 (but now know the other five after checking the video comments) and feel pretty good about that.
  • A - Abba
  • B - Beatles
  • C - Christina Aguilera
  • D - Darkness (dunno them, had to check the comments to find this one)
  • E - Eminem (really, don't get this one, comments told me who it was)
  • F - Flaming Lips
  • G - Guns 'n' Roses
  • H - Har Mar Superstar (I have never heard of this guy. Thank heaven for Britain.)
  • I - Ice-T
  • J - The Jacksons (note the change in Michael's coloring)
  • K - Kiss
  • L - Led Zepplin
  • M - Missy Elliott
  • N - Nirvana
  • O - Ozzy Osbourne
  • P - Public Enemy
  • Q - Queen (my favorite animation)
  • R - Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • S - Stevie Wonder
  • T - Tatu
  • U - U2
  • V - Village People
  • W - White Stripes
  • X - Xzibit
  • Y - Yeah Yeah Yeahs (again, had to cheat in the comments)
  • Z - Zappa

August 22, 2009

Wrangle is a funny word

This week's links were smacked around and brought into line as practice for running my classroom again now that the school year has started.

August 20, 2009

Two sheets and in the bag

This playlist in no way endorse the life about which is sung.

August 19, 2009

Test yourself

As a chemistry teacher, I'm a little disappointed that I was only able to name 78 of the 111 named elements in this quiz. In my defense, however, there were three more elements that I just can't spell.

Thanks to Disco Stu for the link.

August 18, 2009

On the road again

With the eight or nine hours each way to North Carolina and back, we had enough time to digest a couple of audio books (it's tough to not type books on tape whether the books are on cd or fully digital). Instead of taking in a single huge book, though, we went with two smaller books.

Michael Chabon - Gentlemen of the Road: A Tale of Adventure - This makes my fourth novel (this more of a novella, really) by Chabon - having read Summerland, The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and The Yiddish Policeman's Union before - and I find myself a strong fan of Chabon's writing style at this point. His words meander along the trail of the plot, creating a very rich world into which he drops his characters, a world full of back story and color, fully-rounded and developed supporting characters, and dynamic obstacles against which they must persevere.

Gentlemen sees this rich world taken to extreme as the color or the setting edges toward overwhelming the titular Gentlemen - Amram and Zelikman. The two are mercenary wanderers, and we meet them as they stage a bloody fight in a 10th-century, northeastern African roadhouse, taking a cut of the owner's wagered winnings from an arrangement made before the book begins. From there, they stumble into responsibility, riding away with a deposed teen prince who resists his captivity with vitriol and invectives hurled at our gentlemen.

On the road, the prince escapes, is captured by his deposers, and eventually turns them to his cause of regaining the throne in his native kingdom. Along the way, the gentlemen come around to his cause and help lead his revolution.

In the course of the tale, Chabon explores the intermingling of a dozens of cultures in his period Azerbaijan, visiting different versions of Jewish culture at the time, all imagining themselves too different from the others to coexist but all revealing their similarities through the tale. Chabon's humor comes through often in this work, especially in the relationship between the titular characters as well as the background revelations of Zelikman.

This isn't Chabon's finest work - I would put Kavalier and Clay forward as that of my readings - though it certainly is an entertaining and colorful read.

Stephen Chbosky - The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Wallflower explores the freshman year of an intelligent but socially- and emotionally-stunted young man in suburban Pittsburgh. In the course of the book, our main character, Charlie, finds himself befriending a pair of far more socially advanced seniors and falling into - and occasionally in love with - their group of friends.

Chbosky tells the tale in a series of letters written by Charlie and mailed to an anonymous, unknown confidant in you. The letters are written by Charlie because he needs to tell his tale and believes that we are someone that he believes to be a good person who will not judge him on his tale, someone who will care about him and won't mind that he changes some of the names so that his new group of friends would not be harmed by his honesty.

Charlie develops relationships with the siblings Sam and Patrick who together bring him into their world of typically and uniquely high school, artistic, counter culture friends. They enjoy the school's football games, late night coffee and cigarettes at the local Big Boy, explore sexuality and dating both within and outside the group, perform at the weekly showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show, and view themselves as adults able to control their explorations of alcohol and drugs.

As the book progresses, we get revelations of Charlie's caring and strong family and the initially unremembered incident that has created our somehow damaged, titular wallflower. Charlie spends nearly the entire book simply observing the actions that go on around him, only barely taking part and even then finding himself more often acting as he thinks that his new friends want him to act. He does not allow himself to truly become a part of the group but rather the observe and drift within his circle of new friends.

Bill, Charlie's English teacher, offers him a series of great novels to read and write about, a project that he hopes to further Charlie's intellectual development and draw Charlie out of his self-imposed shell. In the course of his readings, Charlie allows these novels to explore his burgeoning maturity through the eyes of the various authors and to improve his writing, to which he aspires as a career.

The novel explores themes - homosexuality, molestation, dating, self-revelation, drugs - that occasionally come across in ways that seem a bit too mature for a fifteen-year old main character. The distance in age between Charlie - a freshman who is a year older than his classmates - and his circle of senior friends at times seemed a bit unbelievable from my knowledge of high school students. Neither of these challenges were anything more than momentary distractions to my enjoyment of the book, however.

This is a marvelous tale of self-discovery and -development, a rich character sketch of a young man who wants to be more mature, older than he is but cannot become that person until he is able to reflect on a singular event in his past that has lead to his status as a non-participating resident of his world.

The book receives my highest recommendation. Very strong, tale.

August 17, 2009

From sources unexpected

I typically steer clear of the political discussions around here, but this one is driving me nuts. I'll let Bunny's British artist speak for me.
Anyone following me on twitter might be aware that I have become a touch enraged about the US Healthcare debate recently, especially the diversion tactic where my countries healthcare system has been held up as a nightmare scenario of Comrade Obama's Master Plan to Destroy America's Healthtm.

In fact, I suspect we would have been happy to ignore this were it not for the little "Public Healthcare Will Kill Your Granny" spiel.

I'm sorry, I'll just adjust my soapbox a little here.

The problem with this is our health care system is actually generally pretty good (could be improved, could be better funded, lots of things could happen that would make it better, but the fundamental principle is serving us well).

As is the system in Canada. And France. And Germany. And Australia. And Israel. I mean, I could go on.

Each one of those countries appears to have a functioning, responsible, well-run health care system. And they're either wholly or partially publicly funded. Which apparently is some sort of contradiction in terms to some people.

Here's a list to compare. via the Wiki. Will do a better job of describing the pros and cons.

Any combination of those solutions for bridging the gap between people with access to healthcare and people without is viable.

There are social, economic and ethical reasons why healthcare reform needs to happen. You owe it to yourselves, to your neighbour and people who will probably never meet.

But that's really not what's at stake here.

People are out there wilfully lying to get you on board. Mostly because I figure they think you're morons.

For example, the UK Government doesn't runs the NHS any more than it is involved in the day-to-day running of public schools, hospitals, police forces or the fire brigade.

Why would an American Universal System suddenly place have a dollar value on your life and will withhold care if you're too expensive to treat when, US Insurance Companies do this already? If anything, that sort of practice needs to be examined and regulated.

Stephen Hawking is not American and has not been killed by the NHS no matter how much they treat him for life-threatening conditions.

The NHS being a "terrorist breeding ground"? I know it's Fox News, but that's a pretty determined attempt at reconfiguring reality.

Finally some figures to round this off from the World Health Organisation. They're easy enough to find.

Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2006): 2,784
Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2006): 8.4

Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2006): 6,714
Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2006): 15.3

What does the US currently get for that extra outlay per capita at present?
Lower average life expectancy, lower average healthy life expectancy, higher average infant mortality rate. Surely something is wrong? Surely that needs fixing?

Our way is by no means the best way, and it probably wouldn't work in the US for a variety of reasons, but ideology (and probably a fair amount of cash) is overriding serious, reasoned debate about public funded healthcare options and what should be made available.

And I'm done.
His comic is among the oddest on the web but is well worth the daily check in for your daily moment of Zen.

And he apparently has a good head on his shoulders when it comes to the American health care debate.

Our system as it is cannot continue to function. It is broken, and I fear it is broken beyond repair.

We must fix it, and the risk of not fixing it is far worse than the risk of fixing it wrong.

Yes, the current recession / downturn / whatever may hurt us in the short run, but we will come out of it. No one doubts that. They disagree on how long it may take to come out of it, but no one doubts that we will.

The ever-increasing health care costs, however, will flatly kill us in the long run if we don't change the system.

Quibbling over the details, derailing the process with ridiculous lies and screaming, the $1.4 million spent every day by the health care industry to lobby our Congresspeople is doing us no good and only forestalling the eventual finding of a solution - or full destruction of our nation's economy.

August 15, 2009

Let's run these up the flagpole and see who salutes.

Stumbled Upon lately...And, oddly, some links come without Stubling...

August 13, 2009

All in one take


Outstanding...supposedly recorded live...


The bacon chocolate chip cookies from the internet were outstanding.

Now, I just need to try the Montana Whoppers which look suspiciously like my grandmother's monster cookies.

August 12, 2009

From the backseat

Here's what I've got for the finest examples of DC comics characters that start with each letter of the alphabet. Can anybody come up with a better example for any of the letters?
  • A - Aquaman (Atom, close second)
  • B - Batman
  • C - Captain Marvel
  • D - Darkseid
  • E - Elongated Man
  • F - The Flash
  • G - Green Lantern (Green Arrow, distant second)
  • H - Hawkman
  • I - Infinity Inc (hugely weak letter)
  • J - Justice League (Joker, close second...Justice Society, distant third)
  • K - Kamandi (scarily weak letter)
  • L - Lex Luthor (Legion of Superheroes, Lois Lane, in the running)
  • M - Martian Manhunter
  • N - New Gods (Nightwing, distant second)
  • O - Oracle (newest entry for any letter)
  • P - Plastic Man
  • Q - The Question (second Faucet entry)
  • R - Robin
  • S - Supmerman (Spectre, distant but strong second - Sandman, Swamp Thing)
  • T - Teen Titans
  • U - Uncle Sam (another Faucet hero)
  • V - Vandal Savage
  • W - Wonder Woman
  • X - (empty - can't find any worthy Xs in DC)
  • Y - Young Justice (Yorick from Y:The Last Man isn't part of the DC multiverse, otherwise he'd be here)
  • Z - Zatana
And while we're at it, let's hit Marvel, too...
  • A - Avengers
  • B - Bucky (Black Bolt, Black Panther, Beast in the running)
  • C - Captain America (Captain Marvel, Cyclops, Conan, Luke Cage - very distant)
  • D - Daredevil (Doctor Doom, Doctor Strange, Dum Dum Dugan in the running)
  • E - Elektra
  • F - Fantastic Four (easy choice over Emma Frost and Falcon, not so easy over Nick Fury, actually)
  • G - Galactus (over Green Goblin, Jean Grey, Gambit, and Ghost Rider)
  • H - Hulk
  • I - Iron Man
  • J - Juggernaut
  • K - The Kingpin
  • L - Loki (easy call over Lockheed and Lockjaw, two awesome animals)
  • M - Magneto
  • N - Namor
  • O - Norman Osborne (especially with Dark Reign)
  • P - Phoenix (really wanted to go with Power Pack - Kitty Pryde close second, Punisher next)
  • Q - Quicksilver
  • R - Reed Richards
  • S - Spider-Man (Silver Surfer, Skrulls, She-Hulk, Scarlet Witch,
  • T - Thor (Thing next)
  • U - Ultron (Us Agent and Union Jack symmetrically next)
  • V - Vision
  • W - Wolverine (though Wasp deserves a mention as do The Watchers)
  • X - X-Men (x-23 if you want a solo)
  • Y - Vacant (can't find anybody to earn this spot)
  • Z - Baron Zemo

Quick links

Three things caught my eye this morning...thought I'd point 'em out real quick like...

August 11, 2009

August 10, 2009

Current rankings

In the eyes of ChemGuy...
  1. The Girl
  2. LeRoy
  3. Harlan
  4. Aylah
In the eyes of The Girl (rankings guessed at by ChemGuy)
  1. ChemGuy
  2. Harlan
  3. LeRoy
  4. Aylah
In the eyes of Aylah (senior pet based on longevity)...
  1. The Girl
  2. LeRoy
  3. ChemGuy
  4. Harlan
In the eyes of LeRoy (next most senior pet)...
  1. ChemGuy
  2. The Girl
  3. Harlan
  4. Aylah
In the eyes of Harlan (rookie pet)...
  1. The Girl
  2. ChemGuy
  3. LeRoy
  4. Aylah
just in case you were curious...

August 8, 2009

Trying something here

I got tired of all the wide-screen YouTube videos covering up the links in the right sidebar.

Better or worse than it was before?

I'm already in line

Whatta you looking at?

Apparently the blogosphere didn't much catch my attention this week as the links as a bit thin.

August 7, 2009

Willie, Mickey, and the Duke

Addendum - In addition to all the good stuff I mention below, I should also point out this one very sad news story in the Cincinnati baseball world today.

We're smack in the heart of fantasy baseball season, and I'm feeling the love for the horsehide.

Heck, I just ordered myself the new baseball jersey that I'd mentioned jonesing for, and I picked one that I think will appropriately combine my love of the horsehide and my geeky nature which will likely ensure that the jersey never gets dirty by my actually playing baseball.

There's this recent ESPN column about how to attain baseball happiness.

Plus, I got to see a ballgame at Durham Bulls Athletic Park this past week. It's not the site of the games in Bull Durham - that's their old park a half dozen blocks away - but it's still the Durham Bulls, and we were in row F up the third-base side. That's six rows from the field, and that's how baseball should be viewed. Gotta get to more minor league games.

In case you were curious, that's THort in orange, TheGirl's hand, then JHort in white. ChemGuy is - as I typically am - behind the camera. Hah!

And I'm going to see some more baseball this weekend, which is awesome.

And that's not the scene I really wanted to embed, but I didn't want to push the limits of the .

August 6, 2009

Come to Fraggle Rock!

This one's mostly for TL...

Looks like Fraggle Rock and the Dark Crystal sequel are, thankfully, moving along...or at least they are according to these quotes from Brian Henson over at JoBlo.

I know...shut up...another Lily Allen vid

You're welcome to ignore it if she annoys you, but I really dig the interviewer's style and actually moderately insightful questions. Sure, it devolves to poop humor by the end, but there's some worthwhile stuff before that...

And thanks to YouTube's related links, here's her first appearance on the same show...

...equally interesting and a chance to see pudgier Lily...

August 5, 2009

Dinner twice next week

Looks like we'll be celebrating the last week of summer (for me) and our status as dinks by taking advantage of the prix fixe menus at a couple of downtown Cincy restaurants during Downtown Restaurant Week.

They've got the menus for most of the places already posted, and we're looking at Bootsy's and Nicola's sometime next week. Anybody wanna join us?

Thanks to Wine Me, Dine Me and My Wine Education

Web 2.0 - good and bad

In case you hadn't noticed, two new Web 2.0 websites appeared recently, allowing some webdesigner to outsource every ounce of content creation beyond the initial glimmer of an idea. So I thought it was about time to catch you up on which of these sites you should be reading daily and which you should be avoiding like a Julia Roberts flick.

August 4, 2009

The Postmark Experiment

Don't know if you've been checking out Wondermark or not. It's a fairly entertaining - if occasionally blech - webcomic that seems to have an unnatural fetish for beards and facial hair in most every incarnation.

But today, Wondermark topped everything that they had previously accomplished by publishing their Postmark Experiment in which the author/artist/beard-freak purchased ten stamps from the Automated Postal Center all dated April 15 and proceeded to use the stamps for up to two months without ever having the last of them canceled.

Has he found a way to finally beat the IRS at their time-centric games?


Has he found a way to turn research fun?


Movies, yes, we got movies

Reviews...because the summer is winding down, and I have to make sure I've taken in enough media...

Midnight Cowboy
  • Only X-rated movie to win best picture Oscar - one of only two ever nominated - and I wasn't at all surprised that it initially got an X. There's a whole lot of sex and sexual discussions here.
  • The flip side is that it's relatively tame compared to modern movies. Ah, sliding social mores.
  • I was surprised at how sad that movie was. The Ratzo Rizzo character, in particular, was heartbreaking. Hoffman did a spectacular job with this one.
  • The dubbing was off at times, and I wonder if that's just a case of modern technology having spoiled me.
  • Impressively well-done film that does hold up with the time that has passed.

  • Impressive acting performances, the arc of the plot, however, fell flat for me. Not enough ground work to justify the hard-hitting final interview.
  • Interesting to see the 'making of' on the DVD to get some glimpses of the actual interviews.
  • Don't know that either actor deserved a best actor nomination.
  • Big bunch of meh for me.

Synecdoche, New York
  • Here is some true freaky freaky, arthouse stuff.
  • Basic plot - playwrite is writing and putting on a play about his life. In the play, the main character is - needfully - putting on a play about his life. It's more than a little introspective.
  • Phillip Seymour Hoffman is outstanding here and in pretty much everything he does.
  • The romance between the main character and his assistant, bleeding into the actors playing the characters in the play was interesting and kind of fun to watch.
  • There was clearly a lot of symbolism in the movie that I think I didn't get.
  • Great idea, muddled execution.
  • Probably should watch it again to understand what the heck was happening at times.
  • Really didn't understand the burning house throughout the film.

  • First the bad news: The trailer gives away pretty much everything. I walked in knowing the plot development that comes early in the film and strongly assuming what the twist would be. Sadly, I was right.
  • That sadly is because it meant I knew pretty much exactly where the film was heading from the moment I saw the trailer, not because it was a boring twist or a poorly executed one.
  • Everything was very well done, in fact. Excellent acting by Sam Rockwell who says probably 80% of the lines in the film (almost all the rest come from the Kevin Spacey-voiced robot.)
  • The film's drama and tension stays at a fairly constant 7 throughout. Never rises above that, never peaks, never causes any real fear - just constant, moderate level drama.
  • For craft, it's a solid 9. For enjoyment and worth as a film, more of a 6.
  • Acting - good...sets, cinematography - good...script - boring

  • We'd been on a run of downers, and neither of us had seen this, so...
  • I'm gonna guess most everybody out there has seen it.
  • It's cute and sweet and wonderful and funny and touching.
  • Its basically cotton candy with vitamins.
  • Solid acting by the few humans. Entertaining voice work. Very solid special effects - for the time or even for today.
  • Great feel good kids movie.

Mission Impossible III
  • I've seen the first two and enjoyed 'em both, especially the second one.
  • This one, meh.
  • The love story didn't add anything to the movie. The 'rabbit's foot' (some sort of uberweapon) was nothing but a fancy McGuffin.
  • Phillip Seymour Hoffman was - expectedly - solid and nasty. Really seemed to be enjoying himself.
  • Tom Cruise's character is impressive - not that he's a deep, complex character or anything but rather that he's pretty much able to do anything humanly possible (and often more) as the super spy guy.
  • The budget of the mythical Mission Impossible Force would take up more than our entire national budget would. It's fairly ridiculous at this point.
  • The red herring to whom we are lead (the supposed double agent in the MIF agency) is well played in this one, but I'll tell you in advance that the bad guy isn't really him.

Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft
  • Hey, look, the print medium.
  • Initial impressions weren't good because a couple of the characters look the same so it was tough to tell them apart at first. Once the story started rolling, however, things got way easier.
  • Solidly supernatural story about a house where three kids and their mom find themselves.
  • Of course, there's an ancient spirit that doesn't - at first - appear to be evil and tricks one of the kids into releasing it.
  • Good story, highly engaging and enthralling.
  • This six-issue arc is the opening of a forty-two issue story that's coming in six-issue chapters.
  • I'll be hunting down the follow ups as they get published.
  • The artwork, main characters, and engaging story suggest that it's aimed at teens and up.
  • If I were a parent, though, I'd skim through because the kids have to go through some fairly rough times (dad being shot, the family being held hostage) as the story progresses, though. You know your kids better than I do.

A bunch of Blackest Night lead ups...
  • Green Lantern Corps: Sins of the Star Sapphire
  • Green Lantern: Secret Origins
  • Sinestro Corps War 1 & 2
My thoughts...
  • This crossover is massive, huge, titanic.
  • The lead-up alone is taking a couple of years and happening at the same time that Final Crisis is rolling along.
  • As a corporate thing, it reminds me very much of how Marvel let Messiah Complex build while Civil War was rolling forward as the main event.
  • So far, the build up has been of a very high quality, really interesting lead up with all of these trades being enjoyable reading.
  • Best of them was Secret Origins as it takes a very familiar tale (Hal Jordan getting the ring and learning from Sinestro) and retells it while tying it into the Blackest Night prophecy.
  • Saphire story was a little more disjointed as it told two tales in the collection without much action. Important, though for the introduction of the violet corps.
  • Sinestro Corps War is huge in scope and, if it's just the lead in, the main event is going to be massive. Interesting to see that Sinestro might've gotten what he wanted even in defeat.
  • Great series so far.

Final Crisis
  • Moderately interesting art
  • Horrible, stupid, confusing storyline
  • reading Final Crisis Companion afterwards helped, but not much
  • I liked the Seven Soldiers and Dark Side Club stuff that lead into this, but this mega-cross-over event left me colder than Infinite Crisis and Identity Crisis.
  • Other than Blackest Night, DC should leave the cross over events dead for a while to get the stink of these last few off of them. Let the individual series run their courses before even trying to tie them together.
  • Seriously, can anybody explain this series to me - especially the crap about the New Gods?

Charlie Wilson's War
  • Closing out the inadvertent Phillip Seymour Hoffman bonanza...
  • Excellent performances all around - major players and minor ones, alike
  • Thoroughly engrossing storyline about an historical series of events that I had no idea about
  • Surprisingly good performance from Julia Roberts
  • Full of moral ambiguity in every character, really interesting story
  • amazing to see what kind of man Charlie Wilson was (drinking, drugging, bedding, hiring practices) and to see what a difference he was able to make - for both good and ill
  • great ending with even more moral ambiguity
  • really solid film, well worth seeing
  • from my quick bits of research suggests that the film is largely accurate - if a bit simplified in combining a few characters and a few events - which makes the film even that much more amazing

Ultimate Origins
  • It's no secret that I've got a mad-on for the entire Ultimate universe, this work included
  • More lead-up to a main event, in this case to Ultimatum which is currently going on in the Marvel Ultimate universe and which I likely will be reading in another couple of seasons when it makes its way to the trades
  • fascinating to see origins of so many characters (Spidey, Wolverine, Nick Fury, Cpt America, Hulk, all mutants really) all tied together
  • good art, storyline that grabs you and never lets up - pretty much what you want in a first act
  • I'm in for more

Hulk: Red and Green
  • second collection from the Red Hulk (Rulk, really?) story arc
  • far less entertaining than the first one
  • there's got to be some story development at some point, because this bit of the red hulk bashing everybody around willy nilly every issue - sometimes taking two or three issues to get the fight over with - has no officially become a bore
  • quick summary - Red Hulk can beat people up and is nasty and strategic about it - we knew all of that from the first arc
  • wake me up if some sort of story comes out of this rather than just punch - punch - punch - punch
  • grey hulk and Windego-Hulk appear hear, too, just to make the whole thing make less sense
  • even the gag pages at the end (cartoons with red, green, blue hulks as little kids) are starting to wear thin

August 1, 2009

Henry Louis Gates Jr and you

"We don't get very far because we hear what we want to and we don't hear what we don't want to. And we simply make up the rest."
Delores Jones Brown, director of The Center for Race, Crime, and Justice at John Jay College
In discussing on Morning Edition why the debate over the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr and the subsequent furor that has lead all the way to the White House, Dr Jones Brown summed up my thoughts perfectly.

I wasn't there.

You weren't there.

President Obama wasn't there.

For any of us to say whether Gates or the officer on the scene acted incorrectly reveals more about our preconceived notions of the situation than it does about the situation itself.

Can we please just move on?