August 31, 2011

A Viking Doing Something

Every radio and television station is required by the FCC to provide some good to the community. There are specific rules about what can qualify as 'good to the community', but it mostly means they can't play Transformers cartoons all the time and rot kids' brains entirely. The cartoons have to have messages; the station has to broadcast news; the Sunday morning slot has to be given up to community programming.

I'll admit that I rarely tune into that Sunday (or Saturday) morning community programming unless I hear in advance that the topic will be something of interest to me. A week or two ago, however, Cincinnati Edition on WVXU interviewed a former PHS science teacher, Ryan Mooney-Bullock, who has gone on to greener pastures as the Program Manager for the Green Learning Station at the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati.

The Civic Garden Center is, according to Ryan, eight acres of gardened land on Reading Road just north of William Howard Taft. It's been around since the 1940s, and their goal is to build community through gardening and the like. They hold classes and host field trips, and wander the city helping city folks get their hands a little dirty - even letting Cincinnati residents rent space in the forty-plus city gardens.

The Green Learning Center is kind of what it sounds like - a place where they encourage and educate city folks about 'greening up' their work and home life. It's a new part of the Civic Garden Center, and sounds like they have a ton of neat resources for everything from composting to gardening to green roofs and window boxes. Ryan describes the Learning Center as an 'urban nature center'. I think I'll head down to check it out.

If you wanna listen to her interview, check out the podcast and skip forward to 31:30 (she's on through about 41:40). Or you can check out the other Cincinnati Edition podcasts to see what else is happening around the city.

Oh, and Ryan was also in CityBeat a couple of weeks ago talking about the Green Learning Center.

August 30, 2011


I'm a sucker for minigolf games, and Wonderputt is a great example as it has great variation in holes, creative challenges, and beautiful visuals. Now I just have to complete the rainbow.

August 29, 2011

August 28, 2011

August 27, 2011

Winter break yet?


    August 26, 2011

    The hair, man, the hair...!...!...!

    Hair metal in the 1980's had an interesting dynamic. It included the early soft metal bands (REO Speedwagon, Night Ranger), the mid 80's LA-style Hair bands (Guns 'n' Roses, Motley Crue, Ratt, Lita Ford, Twisted Sister), leftover 70's legends (Journey, Van Halen), softer, ballad-oriented entries (Poison), and the mishmash of White Lion/White Snake/Europe that nobody could really tell apart without directly seeing Tawny Kitaen in the video.

    Enjoy today's survey, folks, and we'll be back next week with another installment of the 80's.

    August 25, 2011

    Locke & Key - best comics around

    I'm gonna come right out and say it: Locke and Key is a phenomenal comic book.

    If you're not on board yet, get your backside in gear and grab all four already-published collections this instant. They're all outstanding both the story and the visuals. Every page is a revelation showing that Gabriel Rodriguez's artwork is becoming more outstanding with every passing page (the first issue of the fourth volume was stunning in its tribute to Bill Waterson style interspersed with brutal violence that is typical of the tales), and Joe Hill's intricate story is progressing toward its conclusion (twelve more issues to go, two more collections) with an increasing pace that left me gobsmacked at the wrap up of the fourth volume.

    The storyline sees the three Locke children forced to return to their father's East Coast, island childhood home of Lovecraft after he is killed in California. Once back in Lovecraft, the children begin to uncover the titular keys, hidden around the house and grounds and each granting different powers to the keybearer when they open a specific door in the house. The keys allow broken items to be repaired, bearers to become giants or ghosts, to teleport to any door in the world, to change their gender or race, to command shadows or anyone within earshot, to become animals, or - in one of the most visually stunning sequences - to literally open the head of anyone and add or subtract memories, here represented by sometimes cartoonish avatars.

    The father's killing and much of the rest of the series is driven by an character who is as evil, charismatic, devious, and interesting as any new villain that I've read in a very long time, a spirit / devil / demon / teenager / deathless something (his/her gender changes throughout the series) but who is so fascinating that a reader is almost challenged to take their eyes off of Luke / Dodge / Zach (seen up top in the black pea coat). His/her every deed shows new depths of the devious character's willingness to cross any line in order to control the keys, willingness to pay any price - particularly at the end of the most recent collected volume - to own all the keys and the powers that their combination would allow.

    The series is truly spectacular, thrilling, chilling, and terrifying. This isn't a kid's comic book even though much of the artwork looks like it should be. The main characters go through some pretty harrowing journeys, and the level of violence is increasing with the increasing pace of the tale. Even though these are children - the oldest of the Locke children is a senior in high school, the youngest still in grade school, these are not the adventures of the Bobbsey Twins. Make no bones about it, this is a horror comic, red in tooth and brilliantly drawn claw.

    I'm hooked like I haven't been hooked in a while, and I can't wait to get my hands on the next volume. I hope you'll come to Lovecraft with me.

     Do yourself a favor, flip through the first issue of the fourth volume for free online. It's phenomenal.

    PS - Three things I couldn't find where to mention other than here...Joe Hill (the author) is Stephen King's son. Clearly the talent doesn't fall far from the frickin' terrifying basement...You can also buy replicas of the keys. I want the head key....The series was made into a television pilot that wasn't picked up but was apparently brilliant.

    August 24, 2011

    Hey, I know the guy who produced and directed this...(22:15 in...Paul Grundy)...

    SUNDAYS at 11pm on FOX19
    Directed by Paul Grundy & Bobby Gayol

    Produced by Paul Grundy, Bobby Gayol, & Steve Taylor

    Original Concept by Kevin Goryl

    August 23, 2011

    Finally, a list I can win...

    It's not that uncommon for me to post a link to a list up here and say that I've been able to cross off a certain number of those list items. Sometimes I  feel pretty proud of my tally...until one of you folks out there says "nice try, ChemGuy, but I'vegot more of that list taken care suck it!".

    You're mean. Face it.

    But I'm thinking that I can safely say that I've read more of the Top 100 Comic Book Storylines (as chosen by than any of your folks have.

    Let's see...
    • #1 - Watchmen 
    • #2 - "Dark Phoenix Saga" X-Men
    • #3 - "Born Again" Daredevil
    • #4 - Batman "Year One"
    • #5 - Dark Knight Returns 
    • #6 - All-Star Superman
    • #7 - Crisis on Infinite Earths 
    • #8 - "Seasons of Mists" Sandman 
    • #9 - Kingdom Come 
    • #10 - Maus 
    • #11 - "The Great Darkness Saga" LoSH 
    • #13 - "The Judas Contract" New Teen Titans 
    • #15 - V for Vendetta 
    • #16 - "Sinestro Corps War" Green Lantern 
    • #18 - Civil War 
    • #20 - "E is for Extinction" New X-Men
    • #20 (tie) - "Days of Future Past" X-Men 
    • #23 - "Until the End of the World" Preacher 
    • #24 - DC: The New Frontier 
    • #25 - "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow" Superman 
    • #26 - "Super-Human" Ultimates
    • #26 (tie) - Identity Crisis 
    • #28 - Ultimates 2 
    • #29 - "Brief Lives" Sandman
    • #31 - "Doll's House" Sandman 
    • #32 - "Deuz ex Machina" Animal Man 
    • #33 - The Long Halloween 
    • #34 - "The Death of Gwen Stacy" Amazing Spider-Man 
    • #37 - "Rebirth" Green Lantern 
    • #39 - "Hush" Batman 
    • #42 - "The Surtur Saga" The Mighty Thor 
    • #45 - "Gifted" Astonishing X-Men 
    • #46 - Seven Soldiers of Victory 
    • #47 - "Death of Captain America"
    • #48 - "Rock of Ages" JLA 
    • #49 - Marvels 
    • #50 - Final Crisis 
    • #51 - Batman: RIP
    • #52 - "Death of Superman" Superman
    • #53 (tie) "Confession" Astro City
    • #56 "The Kindly Ones" Sandman 
    • #58 - From Hell 
    • #59 - "Whys and Wherefores" Y-The Last Man 
    • #60 - "Reign of the Superman" Superman 
    • #63 - "Year of the Bastard / The New Scum" Transmetropolitan 
    • #65 - "No Man's Land" Batman 
    • #66 - "New World Order" JLA 
    • #68 (tie) - "Sins of the Father" Starman 
    • #68 (tie) - "Knightfall" Batman 
    • #73 - "A Game of You" Sandman 
    • #75 - "Planetary" Planetary 
    • #76 (tie) - "Unmanned" Y-The Last Man 
    • #78 - "Winter Soldier" Captain America 
    • #80 - "Homelands" Fables
    • #82 - "Hardcore / King of Hell's Kitchen" Daredevil 
    • #86 - League of Extraordinary Gentlemen vol 1
    • #88 (tie) - "March of the Wooden Soldiers" Fables 
    • #91 - "Tales of the Demon" Batman 
    • #97 - Jimmy Corrigan, Smartest Boy on Earth
    Fifty-nine of the top one hundred down. Tried to read a couple more but couldn't get through them.

    I'm guessing only one of you even remotely has a chance to catch me. Gamer, what say you?

    August 22, 2011

    Not Princeton High School...what to do?

    So, a couple of years ago, Princeton High School set up a Facebook page. It's nothing really special or anything. It's fine. There are occasional and sometimes useful posts from time to time. That's not the story, though.

    The story for today is that there's a separate page that's titled Princeton Vikings and uses the web address That page is the story for today.

    See, that other page isn't managed by Princeton High School. It's managed by some anonymous person who - as far as I know - doesn't have any official connection to the Princeton City School District. I've spent the past couple of months trying to figure out how to correct this problem. See, Facebook doesn't have any way to say "hey, this facebook page says it's run by my employer but isn't actually run by my employer...can you make 'em take it down." They do have a link in the bottom left that says report page which leads to a pop-up asking what's up. The best I can put from their options is This profile is pretending to someone or is fake which leads to the question asking who/what they are pretending to be. I went with represents a business or an organization. I've also reported pretending to be someone I know but the page wouldn't let me enter that they were pretending to be Princeton High School and pretending to be a celebrity but they didn't seem to believe that Princeton High School was a celebrity.

    The real problem I have here and now is that I've filed a couple of reports on this page via that report page link, and nothing's happened. I've searched around Facebook's help pages and can't seem to find anything that lets me email them directly to say that there's a fake Facebook page out there other than via the report page link. I've  emailed them with a 'security concern' and described the situation, but nothing seems to be happening.

    I've got a question and a request.

    First, does anybody have any advice as to how to go about getting the faux Princeton High School facebook page shut down?

    And then, my request, in the meantime, would you be willing to go to the fake Princeton High School facebook page and make a report page request for me? I'm hoping that if my one voice won't get anything accomplished, maybe a chorus of voices will.

    August 20, 2011

    The internet is for...


    August 19, 2011

    On the road...again

    Thanks to all of these sources for helping me put together a playlist of songs about a musician's life on the road. Are there any songs that I missed?

    August 18, 2011

    Who wants some points?

    Same thing I do every year, folks. Cheap extra credit for my new students who actually do what they're supposed to do and tour my school website and click through to this blog.

    The first five students (who must have not had me in class before this year) who email me get five extra credit points. The first five students (same parenthetical deal) who post a comment on this post telling me something they like that I posted get five extra credit points, too. And those five can be the same as the first five.

    So, yeah, you can get up to ten extra credit points if you're all good about that.

    Andy Roddick - crybaby

    I got really lucky this past Monday night and got to see some pro tennis in Mason, OH - like twenty minutes from home. Sadly the Federer-del Potro match was on Tuesday night, but still, seeing Ana Ivanovic take apart Alexa Glatch and the Andy Roddick take on Phillip Kohlschreiber, isn't a bad evening - especially since I wasn't paying for anything.

    Nice, tight first set with Roddick winning in a 7-5 tie-breaker. Good stuff.

    Second set went toward another tiebreaker with Roddick serving at 6-5, but Roddick got broken to send things to a third set. That's where things started to go off the rails for Andrew. In frustration after the break of serve, Roddick shattered his racket on the court and then beat it once more when he sat down for the changeover. Apparently that was worth a warning from the chair - even though it wasn't publicly announced in the stadium.

    Down 0-1 and serving again, Roddick double faulted away the point to go down 30-40 and hit Kohlschreiber's return into the upper row or two of the stands. This second code violation earned Roddick a point penalty and gave Kohlschreiber the break of serve.

    From there things got worse for Roddick as he firmly thrust his head further up his tuches and spent every changeover from there forward (and there weren't many) arguing with the chair umpire and just pushing his head further up his backside. Roddick's final set performance was pathetic as he very quickly stopped moving toward balls just out of reach and showed no effort until he was down 0-5 and rallied to hold serve once in the set before bowing out 6-1 in the final set.

    Pathetic and embarrassing.

    And then Roddick, in his press conference, talked about how tennis needs some personalities if it wants to become popular again. He's wrong there. If tennis is to be popular in America again, it's going to take somebody stepping up to their potential unlike what Roddick has done throughout his career.

    It's time for Roddick to exit the stage and let the next generation of American players lead. Hopefully he can do so with more grace than he showed Monday night.

    August 16, 2011

    New Muppet Music

    How much cooler does it need to get than a full streaming album of new Muppet music from NPR?

    For the newbies...

    Every year I get a few new readers as I point my students to my class website - which now has a non-hidden link to this blog - and thought I'd take a moment to point out a couple of things that might be helpful to them.

    There's the PHS wikipedia page that I originally created and wrote but that has since been heavily - and occasionally vulgarly - edited.

    There's the Picasa Web account where I now post all of my school photos.  No personal photos there, just stuff that happens related to PHS.  Photos go back through the '05-'06 school year with a heaver presence toward the present day. I'll be posting photos of your class there when we start doing labs.

    I've created a PHS Pasta for Pennies facebook page where we (Calen - that's Mrs Heckman - and I) will be posting events and campaign updates.  This won't replace the campaign's main website, but it'll be an easy way for the facebook crüe to keep track of the campaign.  The first meeting we're having - next week, August 25th - is already up there.

    If you're curious about the title of the blog, feel free to go back and see the origin of the phrase as well as the series of columns that grew out of it.

    If you're actually looking to learn something about me, feel free to click on the narcissism tag over in the cloud.

    I tend to use nicknames around here, mostly because I'm not sure that everyone wants to have their real names spread far and wide on the intertubes.  You can check an old list of who those nicknames are in this post.

    For the non-noobs, yes, this post might seem familiar. Last year around this time some of my regulars offered some advice as to what they think you should read around here. Check their advice if you wanna.

    Top five: Authors and their movies

    My favorite films based on Philip K Dick stories...
    1. Blade Runner
    2. Scanner Darkly
    3. Minority Bureau
    4. Adjustment Bureau
    5. Total Recall
    My favorite films based on Stephen King stories...
    1. The Shining
    2. Stand By Me
    3. Shawshank Redemption
    4. The Green Mile
    5. It (tv mini-series)
    My favorite films based on Michael Crichton stories...
    1. Disclosure
    2. Jurassic Park (nothing below here is worth watching)
    3. Rising Sun
    4. Sphere
    5. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
    My favorite films based on Shakespeare plays...
    1. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
    2. Strange Brew
    3. West Side Story
    4. Romeo+Juliet
    5. 10 Things I Hate About You Honorable mentions: The Lion King, Shakespeare in Love (He wrote that, right?), Looking for Richard, Hamlet(1996) , Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

    My favorite films written by Cameron Crowe...
    1. Almost Famous
    2. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
    3. Singles 
    4. Jerry McGuire  
    5. Say Anything...

    August 15, 2011

    Blogging and narcissism

    Blogging (or twittering or tumblring or whatever) is the ultimate in narcissistic thinking. You may as well carry around a sign saying "other people should give a crap about what I think" because that's the only thing that will keep you doing this.

    And a local Cincy blog called What I Wore 2Day is the height in that thinking. It's not ever "other people should give a crap about what I think," it's "other people should give a crap about what I wear every frickin' day."

    I know I'm not a fashionista by any extent of the word, so I'll say that the photos are very well taken, the model kinda cute, the fashion style eclectic and interesting, but seriously?

    August 13, 2011

    The Mission to Get Osama bin Laden The New Yorker

    Phenomenal story on the final mission to kill Osama bin Laden over at the New Yorker...

    Spreading rumors

    I've heard that the Supercongress likes my Saturday posts best.

    I'm just saying.

      August 12, 2011

      In the interest of equal time...

      This week we balance last week's God playlist with one centered around Satan (or the devil, if you will). I love all these songs, but I'm not sure I'm familiar with all of his works.

      Enjoy 'em...

      August 11, 2011

      Which athletes deserve these nonexistant honors?

      ESPN's five city pages have posted surveys asking who belongs in each city's sports Hall of Fame. The results of each poll will be revealed next week, one day at a time.
      My choices with reasoning are after the jump so as not to prejudice your thinking in advance. (...because we all know you would just follow my choices that blindly. I'm that influential. Seriously. Shut up. Stop laughing.)

      August 10, 2011

      Tell a potassium joke?

      I spent a week at the University of Dayton helping run a material science camp. We got to hang out in Science Center's Wohlleben Hall and saw the following cool things.

      First, there was Chudd Auditorium which has maybe the coolest lecture hall periodic table I've ever seen and which I got to control since there was nobody in there all week long...

      Then we got lucky enough that somebody in the chemistry department posted these chemistry jokes in one of their display cases...

      I saved the best for last. Schroedinger's Cat walks into a bar...and doesn't.

      That's hilarious.

      August 9, 2011

      Continuing the summer reviews

      Lars & the Real Girl - The premise - socially awkward Lars orders a Real Doll and introduces her as his new girlfriend - sounds like a opening pitch for any of a thousand awful comedies. This could so very easily have turned into Weekend at Bernie's. Instead, it turns into a masterful, gorgeous film full of more heart and emotion than almost any movie I've seen in the past decade.

      The movie isn't, in the end, about Lars's Real Girl at all. The film is about Lars learning to accept human contact, and Ryan Gosling does a spectacular job of keeping his performance grounded in Lars's Real World without ever giving into the all-too-easy laughter or sadness that could both overtaken this movie in lesser hands. He is assisted ably by an entire town of people who play more as extras than as characters, feeling far realer than almost any acted characters I've seen. It's the caring, love, and simple, normal interactions that these people show Lars that make for the emotional core of the film.

      Lars is full of laughter at times, tears at other times, but most importantly full of absolutely wonderful, understated performances and pitch-perfect writing at every turn.

      I don't know how or why it took me four years to see the film.

      Crazy Heart - Look at that guy there in the poster. That's either Jeff Bridges or Kris Kristofferson, and the movie doesn't do a lot to dissuade me from that comparison.

      Jeff Bridges has been around for a while, having started out as a Disney boystar and working his way through The Dude to land as Bad Blake, a broken down country singer working his way across the Southwest playing in every bowling alley with whatever pickup band the locals can put together. Blake is slowly drinking and smoking himself to death, trading on songs he wrote years before and hoping to make enough money to drag on a little longer.

      The eventual story - boy (old man) meets girl, boy falls in love but loses girl - is relatively straight forward and served well by the lack of a tacked-on, happy resolution, but the story isn't the draw here. The draw is seeing Jeff Bridges in an excellent performance, singing his own songs and inhabiting Blake with a humanity and vulnerability that is impressive to see.

      This might be Bridges's best performance, and his Oscar win was deserved for not overselling the part. The film isn't the finest of the year, but Bridges's performance certainly was one of the year's finest.

      From here, I'm hitting quick reviews because there's too much backlog...
      • Captain America: The First Avenger - Another excellent one from Marvel. This fits in perfectly as we roll along toward next summer's Avengers. The central performance from Chris Evans is spot on perfect both as the scrawny Steve Rodgers and the buff Cap. The supporting cast is also spot on from Tommy Lee Jones (hilarious and cantankerous as only he can be), Hayley Atwell (spunky - perhaps a bit too much so for the times - and beautiful), Stanley Tucci (Teutonic to a fault), and especially Hugo Weaving (thoroughly and perfectly villainous as the Red Skull). Probably still ranks just below the first Iron Man, but it's a solid and enjoyable entry into the run - right there and probably a little better than even Thor
      • The Thin Red Line - Rewatched it after seeing The Tree of Life because I wanted to see if it held up. It certainly does. Wonderful job of showing the dichotomy between the humanity and beauty of the world with the horrors of war and mankind within it. Days of Heaven is on hold and to be picked up later today.
      • Angel: Revelations - Freaky artwork in this pre-X-Men tale of Warren Worthington (could there be a better name for a child of money than this - without going all Richie Rich?), but I got used to that. The tale is actually pretty engaging and teases the eventual X-Men-ness of Angel. Good story.
      • In Defense of Food - Michael Pollan boils down all eating advice into seven words: Eat food - not so much - mostly plants. In the course of the book, Pollan lays out his arguments in favor of and provides more detail on each of these three eating koans. By the end of the book, it seems so simple and straight forward. If we're lucky lots of people will read this and start changing their habits - even if by a little bit at a time. Sadly, I wonder how much good will be done in the long run, how possible it is for us to steer away from the cliff.
      • Blue Valentine - "This emotionally gripping examination of a marriage on the rocks isn't always easy to watch, but Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling give performances of unusual depth and power." Those are the summary words from the Rotten Tomatoes review page for Blue Valentine, and they sum everything up pretty well. This isn't an easy or fun movie to watch as it tells the story of the beginning and end of a couple's relationship between Williams and Gosling. Both ends of the tale are told - in interspersed fashion - warts and all with heart-wrenching honesty. The performances by Williams and Gosling reveal phenomenal depth of character and of acting talent, but I never want to see this one again.
      • Limitless - The trailers for this one use Kanye's propulsive "Power" to great effect, and I'll admit to being hooked in almost from that alone. Turned out that the movie actually lived up to the propulsive drive of the trailers. Bradley Cooper does a great job transforming himself from a dirty, aimless writer to a focused, genius Wall Street trader savant who hooks his wagon to Robert DeNiro's Wall Street star/bully. The arc is a little predictable, but the film and the actors are engaging enough to keep my attention. Fun watch.
      • The Adjustment Bureau - Another film based on a Philip K Dick short story. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt have nice chemistry as a couple the fate seems to be both drawing together and pulling apart. Only in this case fate acts in the form of a bureau of men in suits and fedoras. On the surface  it's a silly premise, but as the Bureau men reveal themselves to Damon's Senator-to-be happens to see the Bureau at work. In the course of the film, the Bureau explain themselves as agents of 'the chairman,' a metaphor for God/fate/'the plan' and themselves as the modern interpretation of angels - an interesting premise and one I'm curious as to whether it was in the original short story or not. This is a science fiction story without much science, and it's an enjoyable watch.
      • Marvels Project - Nice enough effort but nothing more than a more positive version of Marvels. It's been done before and didn't need to be done again.
      • Bedazzled (1967) - I had no idea that Bedazzled (2000) was a remake. I've seen maybe an hour of the newer version and thoroughly enjoyed watching Elizabeth Hurley in that atrocious movie. Turns out that the original version is every bit as boring but without Elizabeth Hurley. 
      • Astounding Wolf-Man (vol 1-3) - I'm starting to think that Robert Kirkman may just be a pretty good writer. I'm five volumes into Invincible, fourteen volumes into Walking Dead, and now three volumes into Astounding Wolf-Man (please buy the next volumes of the first and last, PLCH), and I'm enjoying the hell out of all three of them. I'm going to be kind of sad to eventually read the last volume of Wolf-Man because Kirkman has created a number of engaging, rich characters again, these as part of the same universe as Invincible. The tale of Gary (the titular Wolf-Man), his family, his advisers (vampire, werewolf, government hack), and his fellow heroes is filled with great, new characters that are easy to care about.
      • Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne - I hate Grant Morrison. I hate his take on Batman. I hate Final Crisis. I kind of enjoyed The Seven Soldiers. This volume just made me hate Morrison's stupid, bald head even more. I look forward to his retirement and professional death.
      • The Walking Dead (vol 1-13) - Seriously, Robert Kirkman's got my full faith and credit at this point. The ongoing series set in a zombified near-future United States should have come out as thoroughly unnecessary. We've seen zombies take over the country in dozens of other stories before, and we don't really need to see a story that is about the zombies. Kirkman's story, however, is about the creation of a new kind of family brought together by dire circumstances and trying to hold themselves together in the face of a thoroughly ruined world. Kirkman has crafted a thoroughly engaging read (and in doing a bit of reading, one that's going in a different direction from the television series).
      • Fall of the Hulks (vol 2) - I go back and forth on this story arc. The confusion of Red Hulk/Red She Hulk/Thunderbolt Ross(dead or alive)/Abomination/etc does get a little old, and the entire bit about Bruce Banner being the fourth smartest man on the planet and every bit as dangerous as the Hulk himself is intriguing, and the semi-constant one-upsmanship between the good and bad smart guys smacks a little bit of the Master Thespian, and yet I really enjoyed this volume. I wish the storyline were a little less stretched out, but it's occasionally a pretty good read.
      • AVClub Inventory - A book of lists...a book of lists about pop culture. I'm all in. A book of pop culture lists most of which were already posted online before they were put into a form that I could pay for...I'm still all down with it because I prefer reading in print rather than online. Thoroughly entertaining even if there were a few lists I skimmed rather than read in great detail.
      • American Vampire (vol 2) - Still well worth reading and starting to add in new characters. We seem to be heading toward present day, and I'm looking forward to seeing what's coming.
      • Second Coming: Revelations - I don't really have any idea what the main storyline is for Second Coming, but I enjoyed reading this offshoot which I'm guessing isn't really necessary reading for the Second coming storyline.

      August 8, 2011

      Downtown Restaurant Week is here

      I don't know how this slips up on me every year, but it has again. It's currently Downtown Restaurant Week here in the Queen City, and The Girl and I are trying to decide whether to go Wednesday or Friday (or both).

      Anybody else interested?

      My menu thoughts after the jump so as not to prejudice your thoughts...

      Happy 30th, Rogeh

      Happy 30th birthday to Roger Federer.

      Take a minute to read some about Roger's birthday...

      Lonnieburger Baskets: By Golly's

      It's getting harder and harder to find one of the burger joints that's on the Cincinnati magazine burger list without crossing the river into Kentucky or heading all the way downtown. This means that a lot of the other burger quests will have to be scheduled rather than done on a whim. I'm not happy about that.

      Milford's By Golly's is about the last recommended burger joint in the northern Cincy area at this point, so we hit it on a Thursday July night looking to see if By Golly's could live up to Cincy mag's description:
      BY GOLLY’S
      ►At By Golly’s, the juicy patty—hand-formed and somewhat fatty, but with a great texture—came on a toasted bun, with wonderfully melted American cheese. The bonus: you won’t feel like you’ve eaten half a cow (unless you pick one of their new, over-the-top burgers). They have hand-cut French fries, but do yourself a favor and try the crunchy waffle fries.
      So, was the cheese wonderfully melted? Was the texture great? Were the waffle fries crunchy? Was the burger over-the-top?

      In short, yes, yes,yes, and yes.

      In long...

      • The review from Cincy magazine mentioned avoiding "their new, over-the-top burgers," but we didn't see any way to do that. By Golly's menu states that all their burgers are 10oz patties. They do offer a double (20oz) and a triple (nearly two full pounds of meat), and maybe that's what Cincy was talking about. To me and The Girl, the 10oz burgers were over-the-top enough. I can't imagine how sick I'd be if I went for the double or the triple.

        As for what your 10oz gets you, it's a burger that tastes of a back yard grill. I don't know exactly how their burgers are actually fixed, but they certainly don't taste fried or griddled. These taste grilled, and it's a refreshing change. There's something to the taste of a charcoal grilled burger that feels like home, like summer evenings, like the best picnic, and that's what you get in this burger patty. It's a little juicy (read: slippery/greasy), but that was appreciated rather than bothersome (unlike at SmashBurger).

        The patties don't have much spice, and I threw on a little salt to top mine, but that doesn't take away much from what is a simple, uniquely prepared, high-quality burger. Burger - 8

      • I went for my standard bacon cheeseburger (with shredded cheddar as the top photo shows). The Girl went for the Route 50 burger (American cheese), the menu description of which seems a little too cheesy unless you read your conjunctions carefully: Swiss, American, cheddar, pepperjack, or provolone top the classic Lila. Lila is apparently their 'special sauce' which The Girl asked not to be on her burger once she heard it was mayo-based.

        The bacon and cheddar on my burger were fine...nothing special, really. The American cheese on The Girl's burger tasted of real cheese rather than the cheaper cheeze (or cheese food or cheese product). The toppings that we got weren't the stars here. The burger itself was. Toppings - 6
      • The Girl ordered the regular fries, so I went for the waffle fries. Our fries were mixed up - hers served with my burger, mine with her burger. In a less cordial relationship, this might have been a problem, but we managed. Both types of fries were well cooked well and served nicely hot, but they weren't anything to write home about. Fries - 7
      From By golly's website

      • By Golly's is a neighborhood sports bar, the kind of place that our first burger joint, Sammy's, seemed to be, but the vibe in Sammy's felt forced, as if the owners had bought a whole bunch of local sports crap to throw on the wall and say "look, we're a neighborhood bar." By Golly's, on the other hand, felt like a true neighborhood bar. They had little league trophies on shelves with thank-you photos from the teams they'd sponsored. They offer a Monday night special for the local working folks, suggesting they come in after their shift and bring in coworkers. Sure, there are tv's all over the place playing ESPN and FoxSports over everybody's shoulders (which drives me nuts if I'm there to eat and not to watch sports, but if that's what you want, meh). Ambiance - 7
      •  The Girl's burger was $7.99 with fries an extra $0.50. My burger - not exactly on the menu anywhere - was $8.99 plus the fifty cents for fries. The diet coke was $1.95. The means I'm at $11.45 for my burger, fries, and a coke. Seems a bit steep to me. Cost - 4 

      Other Stuff
      • The mixing up of the fries is a small thing, but it annoys me. -1 
      • We went for an appetizer of jalapeno bottle caps (battered & fried jalapeno slices) and were very pleasantly surprised that the slices were fresh and apparently battered in house. We got a mix of yellow, red, and green peppers accompanied by a chipotle ranch (we asked for it rather than the chipotle mayo - have I mentioned The Girl's aversion to mayo?) which was very tasty. +1
      • Burgers are half price on Monday - same day as their after work specials - according to By Golly's website. +1
      • A 10oz burger is too big. It didn't necessarily feel too big, but c'mon, that's two and a half servings of meat folks. And the offerings of the double and triple - including a challenge to eat a 2lb burger and a pound of fries in under 7:26 to break their record - aren't exactly what this overfed country needs. -1
      Overall, we get a score of 32 for By Golly's.
      • Terry's Turf Club - 45
      • Cafe de Wheels - 44
      • Senate - 43
      • Five Guys Burgers and Fries - 36 
      • Roxy's - 36
      • VanZandt - 34
      • Gabby's - 34 
      • Oakley Pub & Grill - 34 
      • Quatman's - 32 / 34.5
      • Troy's - 32 
      • By Golly's - 32
      • Wildflower Cafe - 31.25 (scaled from 26/40) 
      • The Pub at Rookwood Mews - 28
      • Smashburger - 28
      • Habits Cafe - 28
      • Graffiti Burger - 27
      • Arthur's - 26
      • Sammy's - 25 
      • Gordo's - 20

      August 7, 2011

      Last week's school project...

      Here's what the underside of my classroom's desk now looks like.

      And never again shall the cords be in my way.

      August 6, 2011

      Lorem ipsum...

      Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras sollicitudin enim in justo accumsan lobortis. Cras id odio tellus, a tempor leo. Mauris quis tellus sed velit tincidunt suscipit non ut tortor. Proin dignissim nisl a enim viverra at ultrices velit congue. Donec in justo mi. Donec aliquam consequat mauris, eget volutpat leo pretium ut. Sed eu sem dui. Morbi sed diam id urna bibendum feugiat sed quis magna. Donec augue dui, posuere et ullamcorper sit amet, fermentum non metus. Pellentesque placerat sagittis risus ut ullamcorper. Vivamus dapibus pharetra semper. Aenean aliquam pharetra nulla vel aliquam. Sed aliquet est non dui blandit condimentum. Aliquam egestas, lacus vitae mollis cursus, dolor lorem vehicula ligula, id condimentum arcu nunc at urna. Nullam vulputate nisl quis lectus ultricies eget adipiscing ligula fringilla. Nulla facilisi. Etiam ac tortor viverra nisi mattis hendrerit in in odio.

        August 5, 2011

        A little liturgical leitmotif

        Don't worry, today's playlist isn't opera or anything. It's a playlist of songs with God in the title...or god. You make the choice...

        August 4, 2011

        Vacation recap: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (part 3)

        When last we left our intrepid campers, they had boarded a ferry bound for South Manitou Island, the southernmost island in a chain in Lake Michigan.

        The ferry left from Leland (right-hand arrow below), and the weather was clear as a bell, so we could see South and North Manitou both as we passed by the crib (a lighthouse marking a shallow shoal running from the tip of North Manitou out to the lighthouse. We didn't really know exactly where we were headed even though we'd been able to see the island from our campground (left-hand arrow below) all week.

        August 3, 2011

        Sleeping Bear photo contest

        My photos are nowhere near the quality of the photos entered in this year's photo contest held by Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear, a group of volunteers that do good work in and around the national lakeshore.

        The winner gets their photo sold as postcards in the Sleeping Bear shops. I voted for the Premium View! shown below, but you're free to cast your vote as you wish.

        I'm kind of amazed that none of the photos actually show the lakeshore. Maybe that's the bias of the group running the contest.

        August 2, 2011

        Matt Damon! Matt Damon!

        The man gets a permanent pass in my book for these two videos. Be warned that the one after the jump is .

        The last meal project

        The last meal project takes a look at the last meals of various people put to death in the United States over the past twenty-plus years and intersperses their photos and meal choices with commentary about the death penalty.

        More info about last meals can be found at these websites...

        August 1, 2011

        Another fallen

        This past week Princeton lost Lamar Williams, the third player lost from the football team in the past three years.

        The first was Ryan Sawyer who died in a car crash on a wet, dark road in Mason.

        The second was Jovante Woods who died from as asthma attack in his home.

        Lamar Williams "was shot after he participated in a robbery, according to Springdale police," as a Cincinnati Enquirer article writes.

        I haven't been around school yet, having just gotten back from a week-long material science camp in Dayton, and I'm not close to most of the students on the football team, so I have no real idea how Princeton's students and staff are taking things, but I wonder how we will remember to mourn the person and the loss but remind our students that this young man clearly put himself in a bad situation, one that can lead very easily where it seems to have lead.

        Photo source