October 31, 2010

The thing is...

...I don't know what I'm talking about here.  I'm just linking.

Halloween: a breakdown

October 29, 2010

Drop a dollar or two...

Every week or two, I head to the Cincinnati Enquirer's website and search for any stories about Princeton.

This past weekend, a nice one came up.

It's about John Viall, a resident of Glendale, OH and parent of a couple of PHS grads.  He's painting the Harry Whiting House in Glendale as a fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund.

It's not Viall's first fundraiser for the JDRF.  A few years back, he biked across the country and raised over $13,500 for the JDRF in the process.  Check out his blog about that event.

I know one of his daughters better, but I've met John Viall a few times, and I can say that I'm pretty impressed with the guy's dedication to a cause.

Drop him a few bucks if you get a chance, either through 5/3 Bank which has an account set up for his fundraiser or directly to the man...

John J. Viall
750 Woodbine Avenue
Glendale, Ohio 45246

Checks should be made out to the JDRF.

update: the cause is now corrected...thanks to Matt W for catching my error

October 28, 2010

Lonnieburger Baskets: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

It's about time I hit a place that everybody should have available to them.  Well, everybody in the eastern half of the country, anyway.

Here's you chance to see where my tastes fall in comparison to yours.

Mine are, of course, right.

There's a few Five Guys Burgers and Fries around this area, and I hit up the West Chester location.  In addition to being the closest location to my house, it also has the advantage of being the largest Five Guys in the area as they use it for training of many of their newest employees.

Let's hit it...

  • The Five Guys patties are a quarter pound each, and the standard burger comes with two patties.  That's a half pound of pre-cooked weight and is more than pretty much anybody needs at any point.  Thankfully they offer a smaller version with just one patty.

    The patties are similar to a Wendy's burger, simply griddled and a little um...moist (I don't want to say greasy, but they are a little that, too).  The burgers are tasty but not much better than a standard fast food burger that you would get at McDonalds or Wendy's.  There's no dark crust, and the patties are flattened on the griddle.  Actually, a Steak and Shake burger would be a better comparison, but the Stake and Shake burgers are allowed to get crispy edges that make a big difference in the patty taste.

    They aren't bad patties, but they just aren't far above average for a restaurant like this.  Burger - 6

  • This is the first area where Five Guys shines.  Their menu lists sixteen toppings that are offered without any upcharge.  I'm a bacon and cheese (they're extra), grilled onion, mustard, ketchup, tomato, pickle, and lettuce.  The Girl - on this day - went for mushroom, bacon, and a few jalapenos.

    The bacon is - oddly - deep fried meaning it's nicely crisp and consistently well done.  The rest of the topping are heaped on with gusto.  They aren't skimping on any of the toppings here.  Such gusto, in fact, that the buns can't really hold up to a glutton like me, but we'll get to that in the "other info" section.

    I am, as always, annoyed when the cheese isn't melted onto my burger but rather added on after the burger is cooked.  C'mon, folks, how hard would it be to throw the cheese on when you flip the burger?

    And, I'd like an option of having banana peppers on my burger.  The jalapenos tend to be all over the place - too hot one day, barely warm the next.  Banana peppers are a much more consistently but not overly source of heat.  Toppings - 8

  • This is where Five Guys really shines.  Their fries come in a regular - enough for two - or a large - enough for three or four to share.  The fries are cut fresh every day and fried in peanut oil then loaded into a paper cup with a huge amount of extras thrown into the bag atop the foil-wrapped burgers.

    The fries are outstanding, served hot, simply salted, rough cut with the skin left on, slightly but not overly greasy.  These are what fries should be like everywhere. 

    The cajun seasoning option provides a nice bit of spice but is overly salty, as if 'cajun seasoning' meant 'seasoning salt'.  That's an option, however, so I'm not docking them for the cajun saltiness. Fries - 10

  • I'll admit right off the bat that I hate the whole peanut-shells-on-the-floor thing.  Drives me bonkers.  Thankfully, the West Chester location is typically pretty clear of the shells even though they do offer the standard Five Guys bin of peanuts with paper boats for scooping.  This does seem a reasonable - and fairly cheap, I would imagine - stopgap tactic to let you kill the time while they make your burger and fries fresh - something I do appreciate on balance.

    I've been to a number of Five Guys locations now, and I'm okay with the white and red tile walls, the numerous hanging signs singing the praises of Five Guys, the simple - and always slightly slippery - tile floors.  The restaurants are - by design - simple, empty boxes with no permanent fixtures other than the front door and the ordering counter.  The tables can be slid around anywhere.  The lines to the counter are formed by pallets of peanuts, potatoes, and peanut oil - all supplies that are, I'm thinking, used in the course of a regular work week.  Because of this, the stores are entirely modular but end up all looking relatively the same. 

    It's not a bad thing.  It's just a plain thing. Ambiance - 5

  • My bacon cheeseburger with all the toppings was $5.89.  I could've gotten by with a 'little bacon cheeseburger' which would've been $4.49.  A regular order of fries costs $2.79, so I'll take half of that as my own - $1.40 (rounded up).  A Diet Coke sets ya back $1.89.  Those refills are, of course, free. 

    That's a grand total of $9.18.  Not much below the average price I'm looking for.  For a fast food joint with no wait staff, that's kind of a bummer to me.  Cost - 6

Other stuff
  • The Girl loves carbonated water, and the Five Guys soda fountains offer that as an option.  +1
  • The cheese isn't melted.  Seriously, if you've read all of these reviews, you're probably starting to realize just how much this bugs me. -1 
  • They're amazingly generous with fries and toppings.  That's worth an extra couple of points. +2 
  • The buns, however, can't possibly hold up to those toppings.  Mine fell apart and left me - as it always does at Five Guys - trying to hold the escaping bits between my fingers and not between the buns.  Arrgh.  It's easy enough to grill the buns a little so that they have some hope of standing up to the copious amounts of toppings. -1
Let's see where all that gets us...36 points for Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

  • Terry's Turf Club - 45
  • Cafe de Wheels - 44
  • Five Guys Burgers and Fries - 36
  • VanZandt - 34
  • Quatman's - 32 / 34.5
  • Graffiti Burger - 27
  • Sammy's - 26
  • Arthur's - 26
Since I'm guessing most of you have been to a Five Guys somewhere, I'm curious as to what you think of their rankings and my review of them.

Next up, Gabby's in Wyoming.  Good burger, decent fries.  More details to come on Monday.

October 27, 2010

Tennis timesuck

It's a little quickly paced, but the simplicity of this tennis flash game makes it pretty entertaining.

I'd appreciate an update with some current players, but who's to complain when it's free?

It's an old favorite of mine and one I stumbledupon again after hitting onto this list of entertaining flash games.

October 26, 2010

Reading Bulletin 1147

Time travel seems so simple, right?

Start up the time machine.

Go back and kill Hitler.

If only it weren't for Bulletin 1147.

October 25, 2010

We'll talk about sig digs later...

If I have to explain it, it won't be funny.


Things that matter: Bengals glass and buckeye

I live in Ohio now, have since the summer of 1997.

It seems fitting, then, that these two items are so strongly tied to my adopted home.  At least it would make sense if they actually came to me because of that move.

They didn't, however.  They came to me from my grandfathers.

The buckeye lives in my car, a totem that rests at the bottom of the storage cubby where I leave my wallet most of the time.  I could call it a good luck charm - because that's what my paternal grandfather considered it, but I don't think of it bringing me any sort of luck.  I certainly don't call it what he called it (I'll link, but I won't type it).  To me it's just Grandpa's buckeye.

The glass is one of two of its type, both bought long ago as promotions from some filling station in Louisville.  They're nothing special in any way, just short, round drink glasses.  But I remember them from my maternal grandparents' house in Louisville.  I remember Grandpa drinking out of it and always wanting it as my glass whenever I was at their house as a child.

Grandpa Goehe passed away during my junior year in high school.  I remember the events of his passing oddly, remember seeing him on the day of his death, his frail body rattling in his bed at home, remember my mother getting a phone call when we got home that day telling her that he had passed on the thirty-minute drive back to our house.

I say that I remember his passing oddly because I know that my memories of those events are false ones, somehow built up in my brain to cover up what must have been a pretty traumatic time in my life, the first death of someone truly close to me, a passing that took place on my birthday that high school year.  I remember spending the afternoon and evening at the funeral home, remember the funeral service and the drive to the cemetery all but across the street from my other grandparents' home.  I remember the military burial ceremony and the visitation at their house afterward.

And I remember my grandfather every time I drink out of that Bengals glass.

I remember going fishing with him on Lake Cumberland.  I remember driving to Bernheim Forest with him, remember spending a week in his hometown of Staunton, IL with him.  I remember his bald head and breakfast of grape nuts with orange juice instead of milk in the bowl.  I remember Christmas Eves spent at his house with him reading the Christmas story directly from the bible.  I remember his garden with the hedge border.  I remember him eating parsley directly out of that garden.  I remember putting together model airplanes with him.

And I remember him with every drink from those glasses.

The buckeye is with me more often, spending time with me whenever I'm in my car.  The buckeye rested in a fruit bowl in my paternal grandfather's house, a house at 1918 Ekin Avenue in New Albany.  The house was across the street and over one house from the national cemetery where my other grandpa was laid to rest.  The house was just barely more than half a mile from the house where I lived until I was in junior high school.

I could walk from my house to my elementary school and onward to my grandparents' house, my junior high, and my high school in probably twenty minutes and by only making a couple of turns along the way.  I spent a lot of time at that house and spent at least some time at their house every day after school until I was in junior high school.

I remember my Grandpa's thin pancakes fried in Crisco.  I remember the smell of his shed, a place where he would park his car every night but that smelled of tobacco spit, sawdust, and varnish.  I remember Grandpa's chair and his huge, cabinet television that he watched from it.  I remember his giant lathe on which he turned wood creations that I am lucky enough to have in my home today.  I remember his work shirts and his shoe stretchers kept in the closet that you had to duck your head to get into.  I remember Christmas days spent at his house with him sitting in his other chair in the living room.

I could go on for paragraphs and paragraphs about what I remember about my two grandfathers, but I remember them both whenever I say my full name:  Robert Lorenz Dusch.

Grandpa Dusch was Robert Fred Dusch.  Grandpa Goehe was Lorenz Henry Goehe.

When the two men passed, I went through their houses with my family, choosing things that mattered.

There wasn't much that I wanted from either house - a few photos, some glasses, a couple of buckeyes.

I already had the memories that mattered.

October 23, 2010

Spending three hours watching Hulu on a Saturday...that's good use a time, right?

I'm hoping so...

    October 21, 2010

    Yo dawg...

    Yesterday in class, I showed off my model of a 1s orbital inside a 2s orbital - a dark blue balloon blown up inside a larger, inflated white balloon.

    When I did the, I made a comment about "yo dawg, I heard you like balloons".

    Very few students got the gag.

    Lemme just suggest that they should know their meme.

    October 20, 2010

    Keeping Faith in the Air

    Dude, this Christian Juggler guy apparently lives about five minutes from my house.

    Yeah, there's some sort of Christian message with the presentation and everything, but that's not the point.

    This dude can rock the juggling thing.  He's kinda awesome.

    Wonder if he does any non-churchy performances.

    October 19, 2010

    Gargle blarge blurge

    Sorry, no real post today...got distracted by Sheena Easton

    October 18, 2010

    Update: A friend's kid gets the call up...then sent back to the jv squad...

    A month or so ago, I pointed out the new, next big thing in the Boston pop scene, the Varsity Girls.

    I wandered over to their website after hearing their first single play on my iTunes today and noticed something a little troubling.

    It appears that was once a group of five...including the girl that I know (see about 3:00 in, purple sweatshirt)...

    ...is now four. 

    According to their website...(emphasis added)...
    Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, the four girls of The Varsity Girls offer a fusion of differing musical backgrounds and unique vocals...Simone Cardoso (15), Jillian Zucco (16), Kimber-lee Jacobsen (18) and Jillian Jensen (18).
    Um, none of those is the girl that I know.  Wonder what happened.

    Seems a little early in the musical career for the group to be going all Stu Sutcliffe on one of their own.

    Taking a little inventory

    I'm a list kinda guy.

    Top five things I miss about Laura?  I'm in.

    Dozens of lists about the 90's?  Go right ahead, mister.

    100 best YouTube videos for science teachers?  I'll kill an hour or so.

    So when the AV Club has an entire category that they refer to simply as inventory, I'm all down.

    And it helps, of course, that they're interesting lists...
    And there are another two-hundred-sixty more list articles in their weekly series.

    I've got some reading to do, folks.

      October 16, 2010

      Um...links, I guess...

      Things...what, like you were expecting 'not things'?

        October 15, 2010

        One flash = one nuclear explosion

        That's the timeline of nuclear explosions around the world.  Thankfully all but two of them were tests, and the rate of the flashes has declined drastically peaking during the Cold War.

        But I have to agree with the article's title and ask "What the hell were we thinking?"

        October 14, 2010

        Welcome to Armageddon, USA

        Wired isn't a perfect magazine.  It's too flashy for its own good - sometimes by a huge margin.  But every now and then, they nail one of their larger, feature articles.

        This past month saw Wired absolutely kill one of their articles: "Welcome to Armageddon, USA: a tour of America's most toxic town".  In this article, they visit the last few residents of Picher, Oklahoma, a former lead and zinc mining town.

        In eighty years of active mining, Picher saw 1.7 million tons of lead and 8.8 million tons of zinc taken by mining 181 million tons of ore from the ground, bringing $202 million in total sales to the area.  Once the mines were abandoned, however, sinkholes opened under the streets, acid leaked into the water supply, 7000 acres of heavy metal-laden chat piles surrounded the city and blew into town whenever the wind blew, and the city folded up like a cheap suit.

        The schools shut down.  The police force dried up.  The town disappeared.

        Except for a few diehards who just won't leave.

        The EPA has spent $140 million to replace the topsoil on a couple of thousand plots of land that the government has bought up, but still the place is all but unlivable.  The people left have gone full frontier, relying on whatever they can kill or grow.

        It's this next statement that freaked me out most from the article...
        [Marsha] keeps a small garden with tomatoes and zucchini and okra, and he picks wild asparagus from around the edges of the chat piles, hunts quail and duck, and fishes for bass in nearby rivers. Both say they figure that cooking or freezing will eliminate any toxins.
        No, it won't, folks. Heavy metals don't freeze out, and they don't cook out.  They're elements.  Elements have to react with something to leave.  They don't magically change into not-heavy-metals by heating or cooling them.

        These people are gonna die.

        And, of course, the government has given almost all the poisoned land back to the Native Americans.

        Because that's a lovely little circle.

        Read the article, folks.  It's freaky.

        October 13, 2010

        Brainiac: a bathtub of lies

        It's a cool video.

        In fact, it's the dog's nuts of alkali metal videos.

        Heck, I've shown the video in class for a number of years.  It's an awesome demonstration of the increasing reactivity of alkali metals.

        Sadly, it appears that it's a lie.

        The Guardian, a pretty decently respected UK newspaper, reported a while back that Brainiac faked the cesium explosion.  To quote, here's what they report really happened when the cesium hit the water...
        "Absolutely bloody nothing. The density of caesium ensured it hit the bottom of the bath like a lead weight. The sheer volume of water then drowned out the thermal shock-wave I was expecting to shatter the bath. They could not go home empty handed. So they rigged a bomb in the bottom of the bath and then blew the s*** out of it. I must say it did look cool ... [It] ate away at my conscience. But I couldn't do anything about it."
        Geek Challenge reports that since Brainiac was effectively outed online, the producers don't fake things any more.  The blog post compares the willingness of Brainiac to secretly fake their demonstrations where Mythbusters presents their non-successes warts and all - after which they typically say something to the effect of  "but we wanted to see things blow up anyway, so here we go."  Th article's point being that on Mythbusters "it’s always clear that results are being deliberately pushed over the top."

        I'm sad to hear that Brainaic has been faking, but at least there are always great videos of the alkali metals actually exploding out there.

        Some of which come from Theodore Grey, so they're awesome almost by default.

        October 12, 2010

        A new 8tracks...

        Different theme this week, folks...live songs...no more alphabets for a while...

        October 11, 2010

        Messed up couch gag of the day

        Dude, that went to a very, very dark place...

        Food blogs I've known

        I've said it before, but the simple charms of a food blog with good recipes and great photos is hard to top.

        Today I offer you three of those.

        First up is Bon Appetempt in which the blogger tries to recreate cover recipes from various cooking magazines and offers up views of her versions.

        Next is Our Life in the Kitchen where the photos are the big story.  The gorgeous photos are about 95% of the content of the blog which show every single step in the cooking process.

        And finally comes my favorite, Homesick Texan.  I would eat dang near every recipe that this displaced Texan posts.  Chipotle chicken tacos...apple Dutch baby with green chiles...fried pickles...roasted chicken with chipotles...Texas pulled pork...green chili chowder...capirotada, Mexican bread pudding...chipotle mac and cheese with bacon...

        Holy crap that all sounds awesome.

        Good eatin', folks...

        October 8, 2010

        Rock the rock well...

        More from the king...

        Hammiest movie ever...

        I'll not embed Rockwell's scenes from The Green Mile because of the language contained, but they certainly wouldn't be tough to find if you were so inclined.

        October 7, 2010

        Random 10 returns with...not really a vengance...maybe a small axe to grind

        Just because yesterday was long...today's isn's so much so...
        • "Tears of Rage" by The Band - Oustanding, organ-driven track from The Band.  Love Rick Danko's odd, warbling voice through the tune.
        • "Tu mira" by Lole Y Manuel - From the Kill Bill 2 soundtrack.  An odd tune, entirely in Spanish. Starts off with a very off-key acapella intro then some strong Spanish guitar.  Meh...probably gonna give it one star and delete it.
        • "Seven Curses" by Bob Dylan - Best song of the random ten this week.  Simple, guitar folk from early Dylan.  Haunting tale of a condemned man begging his daughter not to give in to the judge's lecherous offer to pardon her father.  Wonderfully simple tune with beautiful guitar work.
        • "Whip-Smart" by Liz Phair - Up beat, school appropriate Liz Phair (the latter is far rarer than the former in her early career).  One of my favorite songs from her.
        • "Bustin' Surfboards" by The Tornados -  A bunch of the music on my iTunes is there because I grabbed a genre and filled it in for playing at school  This one's one of those.  Surf from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack.  Not something I listen to often, but a nice surf instrumental from one of the best soundtracks.
        • "War Hent Kerrigourarch" by Jamie McMeneny's Komog - I've pretty much no clue what language this is in.  Sounds thickly accented English at times, Gaelic at others.  Beautiful tune.  Part of a compilation of my favorite Celtic tunes that I put together a while back.
        • "I Fall Down" by U2 - Great, early, live U2 from when the lads were probably twenty and just fresh off the boat to America.  Part of a collection of very complete tracks of U2 that I got from a torrent a while back.
        • "Not Alone Anymore" by the Traveling Wilburys - Solid, sing-song Wilbury tune.  Love that first Wilbur album that this was found on.  Really nice to hear the rest of the band deferring to Roy Orbison on this one and Jeff Lynne providing harmony vocals behind the beautiful, high warble.  Nice little love song with a great string progressions at the end of the chorus.
        • "Generals & Majors" by XTC - I dig the XTC from this era.  This one's not the best of the lot, but it's still pretty good.  No clue what they're really talking about, but the feeling of the music is a nice, neo-art-pop British thing.
        • "History Repeating" by Propellerheads - This one feels like somebody else did the song - or maybe it's been covered a bunch or sampled or something.  No clue who the Propellerheads are or why their full album got into the iTunes, but it's not bad.  Neat, deep, growling lead vocal.
        Take a listen...

          October 6, 2010

          How am I paying attention to media if I'm this busy?

          The Simpsons Movie - I can't think of a movie that came in the middle of an ongoing series that was actually any good.  Of course, I can only think of two movies in that category: this one and The X-Files.  In defense of The Simpsons Movie, this is the best movie that I can think of in that category.

          It's a shortish movie - 87 minutes - that feels more like a passable episode of the television show than it does like any sort of actual movie.  Sadly, though, it doesn't even feel like one of the particularly good episodes of the series.  Just felt like a mediocre and largely predictable episode of The Simpsons.  Yeah, there are a few chucklesome lines here and there, but there's no reason for this movie to have been made.

          Quick question...why will The Simpsons eventually go off the air?  I can't think of any particular reason that the voice talent will leave their jobs at this point.  They've swapped writers in and out for two decades now.  The actors never really age.  Is Dan Castelleneta going to have to die?  They moved on from Phil Hartman, but he was largely a bit player.  Maybe if Hank Azaria kicks it.

          The Dinner Game - Subtitles...I warn you in advance that this film is in French which means you'll have to read the subtitles unless you're way more comfortable with French than either The Girl or I are.

          This is the original French version of what was adapted and released this summer as Dinner for Schmucks.  It's a far more streamlined film - much closer to its roots as a stage play.  It's very enjoyable but very different from its much flashier, much bigger budget American adaptation.

          Take, for example, the main character.  In the American version, Paul Rudd's character isn't cheating on his girlfriend.  It's a misunderstanding from a one-night stand that he had a few years back.  In the French version, he has a consistent mistress.  In the American version, he's going to the titular dinner because he feels he has to in order to advance in the company.  It's a once-a-month dinner, and this is his first time.  In the French version, he's a regular who's been doing this for years and even has scouts out looking for the next fool for his weekly dinner.  The Paul Rudd character is far more likable and easier to sympathize with.

          The French version also lacks the neat and tidy wrap-up in which the fool and the main character become tight friends after some sort of redemptive scene between the two.  We also never make it to the eponymous dinner in the French version, meaning that we never get to see more than a glimpse of the dinner when the main character calls to give his regrets for the current week.

          It's a funny film but with a much darker tone than the far more widely-appealing American version.


          Skaar: Son of Hulk - I've come to dig John Romita, Jr's art style, and he's all over this volume telling the tale of Hulk's orphaned son's development on his home planet, Sakaar.  We get the initial story of his birth in the lava lakes and his subsequent adoption by some of the planet's residents as the second coming of their Green Scar savior.

          In the beginning, Skaar is a voiceless, brutal killing machine.  Over the course of the book, we get increasing glimpses of the thought behind the actions and Skaar becomes more and more verbal, more and more cerebral through the course of the story.  We also see that Skaar is not necessarily the savior that the people of the planet believe as actions that appear to be altruistic sometimes turn out not to be.

          I read the totality of World War Hulk and enjoyed it.  I went back and tried Planet Hulk, the storyline immediately preceding WWH and found myself bored, so I kind of assumed this would be every bit as boring.  Not so much.

          Actually enjoyed the progression of the titular character as well as the artwork from John Romita Jr.  I like his art style more and more with each book of his that I read.

          All in all, an entertaining read...but not as good as...

          Hulk: Son of Banner - I have no frickin' clue how Skaar would've gotten from Sakaar (his home planet of death) to Earth.  That isn't covered in this volume and doesn't really matter.  We open with a de-hulked Bruce Banner meeting his son, Skaar and Skaar informing daddy that his goal is to kill the Hulk for abandoning him on Sakaar.

          Banner knows that he's likely to become the Hulk again at some point, so he sets out to train Skaar in how to be deal with various opponents - Daken, the Juggernaut, Red Hulk, even Norman Osborne's underlings.

          These encounters are entertaining and well written as we learn more and more about Skaar and his true motivations throughout the tales, but the real fun of this volume comes through the revelation of Bruce Banner as a credible threat in his own right.

          Marvel has taken to naming various people as the "fifth smartest person on the planet" or the "third smartest person on the planet", and Banner is named as being in that club.  He continually thinks one step ahead of everyone he meets and seems to have a genius contingency plan for every possibility.  There's one particularly entertaining back and forth with Victoria Hand, Norman Osborne's second in command.  It's reminiscent of a childhood game of pretend in which each person takes turns making up some way to say that they had already expected the other's move and had already planned for that action. 

          It is this revelation of Bruce Banner as being a foe equally as dangerous as - but drastically different from - the Hulk that makes for the value of this volume and that makes this volume as entertaining as it is.

           Scott Pilgrim vs the World: Soundtrack - The movie was a bit of a disappointment, and this soundtrack was, as well.  The talent laid out is strong, but there are a lot of songs that just didn't connect with me - something not terrifically surprising considering where my tastes lie in comparison to those of the movie protagonists around whom the soundtrack is based.

          This is music with a heavy fuzz peddle.  There isn't a clear guitar riff to be heard throughout much of the album, but there's distortion and speed and anger - all of which perfectly match the feeling and musical styling of the movie adaptation.

          For me, only a couple of the songs resonate - "Black Sheep" by Metric, "It's Getting Boring By the Sea" by Blood Red Shoes.  Throw in a couple of lines from the movie that I'm thrilled to now have, and this makes for a pretty successful soundtrack.

          Just not one that interests me for more than a quick burn from the library copy.

          Transmetropolitan vol 1 & 0 - I started in onto the run on Transmetropolitan - the full run of which PLCH owns - with these first two volumes.  Well, these were my first two volumes, but I found out pretty quickly that Vol 0 isn't something that should necessarily come first.  Vol 0 is a collection of two special issues showcasing the main character being drawn by a number of celebrity guest artists.  Entertaining and pretty, but I'm thinking there are a number of things that I missed having not read the rest of the series.

          Vol 1 opens, however, with the first issues of the series, introducing us to Spider Jerusalem, journalist who has turned from the profession and is living as a hermit - looking like Alan Moore and living miles away from The City that he describes as being a modern - sometime in the 23rd century - version of Sodom, a place that he both loves and loathes with equal fervor.

          Spider returns to the City at the urgings of his lawyers and again signs on to write columns for his old editor.  From there he shaves his wild man beard and cuts his long hair revealing himself to be far closer to a mid-70s Hunter S Thompson clone, a journalist whose best work is completed between drug experiences and published without editing, speaking to the immediate impact that an effective wordsmith can have - particularly as Spider defuses a police riot by being the only observer reporting on the brutal actions of the police force.

          Spider is nothing if not an excessive homage to Hunter Thompson, constantly yelling about the corrupt government, firing guns into the sky, taking anything and everything available to him, and befriending the least socially acceptable people in The City.  The pacing of his words is familiar to me as I've read enough Hunter, and even his wikipedia article points out the obvious parallels between the fictional and all-too-real gonzo journalists.

          Supposedly, the rest of the series flows into a single story arc in which Jerusalem fights the good fight against a corrupt President.  I hope that something comes because, while the patter and pacing of the comics so far have been enjoyable, the lack of furthering of the story has been a bit frustrating.

          Incorruptible - The initial tagline of Mark Waid's series Irredeemable was "What if the world's greatest superhero became the world's greatest villain?".  I've read the first three volumes of that series and am seeing something worth following there.  The shocking change of Plutonian (a Superman archetype) into a despotic murderer reveals a great deal about his background.

          In this companion piece, the tagline is reversed - "What if the world's greatest villain because the world's greatest superhero?" and we have a flipped transformation of Max Damage from scum of the earth into someone willing to set up resistance to the Plutonian's reign of terror.  The other significant difference in the storyline - other than the reversal of hero turning villain becoming villain turning hero - is that of the change's motivation.  Irredeemable gave us a complex backstory, revealed in dribs and drabs, allowing us to connect with the series.  Incorruptible instead offers us a switch motivated by the villain's fear of what the Plutonian could do now that he's gone mad.  No more complex reason than a single-panel transformation.

          This simplicity of motivation might be necessary for Waid to escape the challenge that he was simply remaking the same story in a mirror, but it doesn't make for compelling reading.  Every character looks at the now-hero's background and sees nothing that would have suggested the change that we are expected to accept without any compelling reason.

          I don't, and the story is boring because of it.

          Plus, the fact that the collections of both Incorruptible and Irredeemable are only four issues long is starting to rack me off.  Throwing in ten or fifteen pages of sketches and alternate covers doesn't make the collection a value.  It just stretches the content with crap.

          The Losers - I've not seen the movie based on this story, but I can tell from the previews alone that the adaptation must've been pretty true to this original.  Every note from the trailer can be found as part of this first volume of the series that has since ended.

          Simple enough story - military/CIA agents get set up by someone else in the agency and are now considered dead (or wanted for dead) by the agency that thinks they've betrayed them.  It's pretty much the same story that the A-Team had which made this past summer's pairing of the two movies coming out at the same time even more odd.

          The comic's entertaining enough, introducing the characters as they're on their first revenge heist against the government that has cut them off.  They steal a helicopter, meet a CIA informer (the front and center female from the cover to the left), and plan an even larger revenge heist that - of course - goes wrong when it turns out that the agency leaders don't have any idea why the titular Losers are trying to enact some payback.  That is no one at the agency other than the mysterious and perhaps-fictional Max who was behind the entire disavowing of the Losers.

          Pretty standard if wittily-written fare.

          Supreme: Story of the Year - This one is a re-read for me, spurred primarily by the comparison that Chris Sims made between this and All Star Superman in the linked article.

          Upon further reading, Supreme is not as good.  Yeah, it's excellent, but reading it a second time, knowing where it was going and knowing the twist that was coming (I'll not ruin it as the twist was so stunning on my first reading) made the re-read less enjoyable.

          The internal connections within Supreme are outstanding.  Moore clearly had the entire series (at least that collected here) mapped out from the get-go, and the payoffs are well worth the read.  It's just a little lesser than All Star.  Supreme didn't bring tears to my eyes on the second or third reading; All Star did.

          Cinderella: from Fabletown with Love - meh...

          The idea here - that Cinderella is really a super spy with more experience than any Mundy spy could possibly have but just poses as a socialite in order to appear harmless - is far more interesting than the series turns out to be.

          We get Cinderella teaming up with Aladdin - another spy who appears not to be - to solve the mystery of where a number of super powerful magic items have been coming into the Mundy world.  There are a few entertaining quips and well-drawn action sequences, but on the whole the mini-series was boring.

          I'm looking forward to the next edition of the main Fables series, but that doesn't come out until December.

          It's too long to be stuck with this stuff as a substitute.

          Youth in Revolt - In which Michael Cera plays Michael Cera.

          But at least he does get a chance to also play a more confident version of Michael Cera as Francois, his inside-his-head alter ego necessary to be bad.

          Funny film about a wildly inexperienced, twee boy who finds the love of his young life while on vacation but has to turn into a bad boy in order to get back to her.  His bad boy actions are well over the top - including burning down a local business district and eventually attempting to fake his own death.

          Cera is hilarious as the affected teen whose lifestyle choices almost guarantee that he'll never meet a girl his own age who will be interested in him.  When he does finally find his Sheeni - who's into French cinema and deep poetry and is far too mature for her age - Cera's Nick Twisp is out of his depth but head over heels.  His mother heads home, inadvertently separating the two young lovers, and Cera sets his loosely thought out plot into motion only to see said plot snowball out of control as his alter ego takes over.

          The two leads are excellent as are the supporting actors - Steve Buscemi, Jean Smart, Zach Galifianakis, Fred Willard, Ray Liotta, Justin Long, and especially Adhir Kalyan.  Everything moves along with a nice pace until the last scene or two when things slow to a resolution.

          The Girl and I both very much enjoyed this one, even found ourselves laughing out loud a number of times.  I'd even recommend checking the deleted scenes as there's a particular reworking of a diner scene that's hilarious.

          Strong recommend...

          Daredevil: The Devil's Hand - Second Daredevil read of the last few weeks.  The other, Return of the King, is barely even worth mentioning.  King is the same old, same old for Hornhead - life goes in the crapper as a number of people who know his unsecret identity choose to attack him from both sides of his life.  Blah, blah, blah.

          King did, however, serve as a plate cleaning, wiping away most of the ongoing storylines and setting up Double D to take over as leader of The Hand, a mystical, ninja-themed, mercenary group bent to world domination.  Daredevil thinks he's use The Hand to do good - policing the streets of New York, killing those who are above the law, and eventually changing the direction of The Hand themselves.

          The Hand, of course, think otherwise.  In this volume, Daredevil begins to consolidate his power in the New York area, running afoul of the local police as well as Norman Osborne's HAMMER troops.  Aided by Black Tarantula and White Tiger, Daredevil sets his initial plans in motion and has to prove himself a worthy leader by being willing to kill - or at least convince The Hand of his willingness.

          In the second half of the story, Daredevil and White Tiger travel to Japan to meet with The Hand's five regional leaders and draw them to his side.  Above these five and Daredevil, however, there turns out to be a no-so-secret cabal of Hand elders who have other plans and suggest among each other that they are really the ones pulling Daredevil's strings all along.

          I love the dark, sketchy quality of the artwork throughout the first half of this volume, very strong and fitting of the New York setting.  The artwork changes for the trip to Japan but retains the dark tone.  Both are equally effective.

          Finally, this is a Daredevil story that doesn't rely on the old tropes of Matt Murdock's life falling down around him.  I'm actually eager to follow the next bunch of trades into Daredevil's Shadowland.

          First time in a while that I've been excited to follow DD.  Good to see this happening again.

          Chew - Last one for today...promise...

          Best new read of the week (not as good as Supreme, though)...Tony Chu is a detective and a cibopath - a person who gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats.  Kinda makes it a necessity for him to munch on dead bodies, fingers found at murder scenes, even a decomposing dog from the crime lab.

          And it's funny.

          I'm tellin' ya, it's really funny.

          Well worth reading.

          I'm two volumes in an wish the third collection were already out, but it's not just yet.  Sadly.

          Funny stuff.

          October 4, 2010

          How awesome is this?

          Last spring, folks from the national Leukemia & Lymphoma Society came to PHS to film for this year's national campaign videos.  My room got emptied of students and turned into a make-shift studio for the day.

          I just looked through the blog archives and am more than a little surprised that I didn't mention all this in the blog back when it was happening.

          But, that's not the point.

          Today is the first day of our new fall campaign for Pasta for Pennies.  Due to concerns by out principal that our campaign was distracting the school from standardized test preparations, we moved to October and are running things from October 4 through October 29.

          That's not the point, either.

          The point is that the LLS's national videos are posted, and our folks - me, Calen, and our students - are all over the videos...

          How frickin' cool is that?

          October 3, 2010

          LSU loses! LSU wins!

          Caught a bit of the LSU-Tennessee game yesterday. 

          Good to see Spencer's lone catch (16 yards) while I was tuned in.

          Better to see the outstanding ending as LSU mismanaged the clock at the end of another big game.  As the clock ticked down, LSU had no timeouts and switched their quarterbacks.  The 'final' play saw the clock hit double zeros while LSU fumbled the ball on a horribly misplayed snap.

          But, no, Tennessee had thirteen men on the field for the final play, so LSU got a single, untimed play from the one-yard line.  Down four, needing a touchdown, LSU punched the ball into the end zone with no time on the clock to snatch victory from the jaws of certain defeat.

          Outstanding, boys, outstanding...

          October 2, 2010

          Was there something I was supposed to remember about today?

          There was something...something...something...

          and this one is thanks to The Girl's recommendation...

            October 1, 2010

            Two timesucks today

            First one's called One Level.  It's a simple enough game that forces you to replay the same level over and over again (thirty times in all) with a different wrinkle each time.  Pay attention to the title of each level as it'll give you some pretty strong hints as to what's going on each time.

            I'll admit to having used the walkthrough to get through level fifteen.  The rest I did on my own.  Took me nearly ten minutes to get all thirty done.

            The other timesuck is called Flabby Physics.  It's a series of levels - about ten in all - that have the same simple goal - bounce the ball into the star.  There's only one command - the space bar - which causes the figure on the screen to bulge in some way.  You have to figure out how to make that bulge move the ball the way you want it.

            Today's timesucks are incredibly simple but catchy.

            In other words, they're pretty much perfect.