August 31, 2012

Goodnight, Andy

Andy Roddick just announced his retirement effective at the end of the US Open.


Only forty-seven men have won a grand slam title in the open era (since 1968).


Andy Roddick is one of the twenty of them who have won 'only' one title in that era.


Roger Federer is 343 days older than Andy Roddick and won his first grand slam title two months before Andy Roddick won his first and only.


Andy Roddick was unlucky to have had his career overlap with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. (By the time Djokovic became a major player, Andy Roddick no longer was.)



Roddick won his grand slam - the 2003 US Open - the year after Pete Sampras won his last - the 2002 US Open.


All twenty men who won 'only' one grand slam title in the open era:
  • Pat Cash
  • Michael Chang
  • Alberto Costa
  • Juan Martin del Potro
  • Mark Edmondson
  • Juan Carlos Ferrero
  • Gaston Gaudio
  • Andres Gimeno
  • Andres Gomez
  • Goran Ivanisevic
  • Thomas Johansson
  • Peter Korda
  • Richard Krajicek
  • Carlos Moya
  • Thomas Muster
  • Manuel Orantes
  • Yannick Noah
  • Andy Roddick
  • Michael Stich
  • Brian Teacher

I certainly won't say that I will miss Andy Roddick. He is far from my favorite player, and his petulance last summer in Cincinnati just about ruined my taste for him entirely. He played with his heart on his sleeve, letting us see his frustration as well as his successes and joys on the court at all times, and there were times that meant we got to see his negatives as well as his positives.

Today I'll think back to Roddick's three Wimbledon finals against Roger Federer (2004, 2005, 2009), particularly the spectacular 16-14 fifth set in 2009. He also lost to Federer in the 2006 US Open final. Thus went the career of the greatest post-Agassi/Sampras American men's tennis player we've seen so far.

Here's to hoping that Roddick can make a miraculous charge to the middle of the second week. He'll have a tough road with del Potro in the round of 16 then Djokovic in the quarters, but it would be nice to see Roddick's formerly booming serve unleashed for at least one last weekend at Flushing Meadows.



August 30, 2012

It's God Given!

Calen sent me the link to this first video, suggesting that her boy might be hiring Domingo Ayala of Domingo Beisbol Academy as a hitting coach for their kid.




August 29, 2012

Sadness part 5

From NPR...


Adrift

We are adrift in the digital ether.

We don't control our data.

We don't control where our data goes, who can see it, whether it ever gets deleted, when/where/why/how we access our data, even what data we are putting out there.

Remember this at all times.

(Thanks to Tweetage Wasteland for posting the initial article - linked above as 'access our data'.)

August 28, 2012

Sadness part 4

From Esquire...


Want...

A year or so ago I read an article saying that the IUPAC was going to make a change to the atomic masses listed on the periodic table with a dozen elements being listed with ranges of average atomic mass depending on the isotopic abundance. When I initially read the article, I went hunting a poster with the new masses but had no luck.

This past week, however, I finally found the 'finished' product which has some spectacular visuals showing the relative abundances of the isotopes.


From what I can tell, however, the poster isn't available for sale yet. There is a pdf (or here), and I found an older (August 2010) presentation from the IUPAC detailing the plan for the poster/digital product and a much newer article

Now I need to see if that pdf is a larger enough file to get good resolution if printed (in color, of course) really big - like 36" by 24" - because I WANT/NEED this on my classroom walls.

August 27, 2012

Sadness part 3

From iconicphotos...


Today's Wikipedia Curiosity


A student of mine asked me about a fact she had seen in a video - that there are more honors students in China than there are students in America - which lead me to the wikipedia list of nations by population. There are certainly a whole lot of people in China and assumedly a lot of honors students there.

The top of the list, however, is only of mild interest to me. I can't possibly conceive of 1.3billion people, four and a half times the population of the United States. I can't really conceive of even a million people, taking us down the list to #157 Timor-Leste, a nation that I've admittedly never heard of. Instead, I scrolled further downward to see which was the least populous nation in the world. My guess was Vatican City - which ended up third from the bottom.

The smallest country in the world - according to Wikipedia, anyway - is the Pitcairn Islands - in spite of the fact that it is listed in its own Wikipedia article as being a British Overseas Territory (a category with its own article), making it a little less a country to me, but...

The idea of four islands, only one of which is inhabited and then only by sixty-six (or -seven depending on where in the article you read) is something that I can conceive of, especially when I can use Google Maps to zoom down on the four islands, a total of eighteen square miles of land at the peaks of a ridge of undersea mountains...


...the only inhabited island, in the southwest of the above image, Pitcairn itself...


...and finally down to Adamstown, the lone 'town' in the 'country'...


That's a sight - with added in roads and paths, admittedly - that I can wrap my head around. With the inhabited Pitcairn being only 1.8 square miles and the largest island - Henderson - being uninhabited and only 14 square square miles, I struggle to understand the lifestyle, though. They apparently eat primarily seafood - spiny lobster and fish - and fruits and veg that grow on the island's slopes. The three uninhabited islands are roughly 60+miles from Pitcairn, so people aren't regularly popping over to get the food there.

I guess eighty percent of the island revenue comes from tourism, as the only available way to get to Pitcairn is via ship from French Polynesia then by smaller boat into the shallow Bounty Bay harbor - where the Bounty (of Mutiny on the fame) actually sank, leading to the island's new populating in 1790. I'm guessing that at $5000 New Zealand per-person to get there and only eight trips made a year, it's a long shot that I'll ever be standing on the coast of Pitcairn Island.

Tragic...

August 25, 2012

Sadness...

Apparently Randal's actuarial tables weren't quite right...


Very sad to see that Neil Armstrong passed away today.

Mr Crick, you're here early...

"Didn't your mama make you milk and cookies?"

Currently watching Stranger Than Fiction in another window. Good flick...




August 23, 2012

Maniacal Laugh!

Thanks to Neatorama for posting the 100 Greatest Maniacal Laughs in Film for me to identify.



My answers are after the jump...

August 22, 2012

The British Superest Spy

How have I gone this far in my life without having seen anything from Jason King?



King was a BBC 'spy' show staring Peter Wyngard in which the titular character was enjoying his life as a writer of spy novels whose real life found itself curiously and commonly paralleling the lives of his fictional superspy , Mark Caine. A bit more detail from Wikipedia...
The series featured the further adventures of the title character who had first appeared in Department S (1969). In that series he was a dilettante dandy and author working as part of a team of investigators. In Jason King he had left that service and was concentrating on writing adventure novels following the adventures of the fictional Mark Caine, [which the Jason King character was also writing about in Department S] who closely resembled Jason King in looks, manner, style, and personality. None of the other regular characters from Department S appeared in this series. 
In the course of visiting international locations as part of his research, or through being summoned by people needing assistance, King would be frequently embroiled in adventure stories featuring glamorous women, exotic locations (for the era), menacing villains, political turmoil, or espionage intrigue. 
The first episode depicted King's retelling of a Mark Caine novel to a television executive, alternating between King's interpretation of events, and the television executive's version. King's version showed style and class, while the executive's version featured added suspense, more cliches, and had the women in more revealing costumes. In the footage representing both men's vision of the novel adapted for the screen, Mark Caine was portrayed by Wyngarde. Peter Wyngarde as Jason King 
Subsequent episodes featured Wyngarde playing King trying to write his novels and being hassled by his publisher Nicola Harvester about deadlines. King, however, was usually distracted by beautiful women and his real-life adventures and was sometimes tricked by Ryland of the British Government into assisting the Government in international political matters: all of which later found their way into the adventures of the fictional Mark Caine.
Part of the fun of the thing is that Wyngard is about as un-suave as he could possibly be with his wrinkles, awful mustache, and foppish, dandy suits.


Heck, he even went with puffy sleeves when meeting the femme fatale.



Looks like the show's full twenty-six-episode run is available on DVD. Gotta go hunting for that.

August 21, 2012

Fall Movie Preview

I screwed up somewhere and subscribed to Entertainment Weekly. I say 'screwed up' because there's no way I'm keeping up with a weekly magazine - especially when I also stupidly subscribed to Sports Illustrated, another weekly magazine, and especially when I'm trying to read actual books like the Vonnegut bibliography and 1493 which I just started over the weekend.

Sure, I subscribed to these for no cost to myself and because I had some loyalty miles from US Air that were going to expire, but in the long run, getting something free that I'm not going to use and that is just going to take time away from reading real, important stuff - and blogging.

This week's EW did have something moderately interesting, however, in their Fall Movie Preview. Here are the movies that caught my eye...(links go to trailers...number are how much I want to see the flick on a 10-pt scale - 10 is Dark Knight)...

  • Looper (7) - Joseph Gordon-Levitt is moving up in the world. I'll see him in just about anything at this point.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower (6) - Great book...curious to see how it translates.
  • Argo (7) - Ben Affleck's first two directorial efforts have been solid. This looks good.
  • Cloud Atlas (6) - I am intrigued. This one looks weird but interesting.
  • Not Fade Away (5) - 60's budding band flicks tend to work well
  • Seven Psychopaths (5) - Colin Farrell and Sam Rockwell...I'll take a look.
  • Pitch Perfect (6) - This should not interest me, but the trailer was great.
  • Killing Them Softly (6) - Brad Pitt's in the same realm as JGL.
  • Life of Pi (5) - Pretty...pretty...pretty
  • Wreck-It Ralph (7) - This looks intelligent and funny.
  • Silver Lining Playbook (5) - Two solid and pretty leads: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.
  • The Man With the Iron Fist (6) - RZA and chop-sockey movie? Yes, please.
  • Rise of the Guardians (6) - Santa Claus as a butt-kicker? Yes, please.
  • Skyfall (9) - Daniel Craig's first James Bond was the best ever. His follow up without a script was still pretty outstanding. I'll be there the first weekend.
  • Flight (7) - Denzel doesn't produce weaksauce.
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (6) - Don't tell Calen, but I'll probably see all twelve hours of this trilogy in the theater.
  • Zero Dark Thirty (5) - I dunno that I want to see this story, but Kathryn Bigelow's last flick was strong enough.
  • Django Unchained (5) - If it weren't for Tarantino, I wouldn't be interested.
  • This is 40 (6) - This may be a little too close to home, though.
  • Hyde Park on Hudson (6) - It's Bill F'ing Murray.
...and movies in which I have absolutely no interest at all...
  • Trouble With the Curve (2) - I can't look forward to seeing crotchety Clint Eastwood.
  • The Words (1) - Chick flick incarnate...
  • Won't Back Down (2) - I've heard mixed reviews as to whether this is pro- or anti-teacher/public schools. Either way, I don't want it.
  • Dredd 3d (1) - The first Dredd was horrible. I'm not willing to give it another try eighteen years later.
  • Hello I Must Be Going (3) - meh
  • The Master (3) - okay, maybe a little interest because it's a good cast, but it just doesn't grab me
  • End of Watch (2) - I do like Jake Gyllenhall, but I'm not grabbed by the description here.
  • Arbitage (1) - Richard Gere annoys the crap out of me.
  • Bachelotette (4) - I'm smelling a rip-off of Bridesmaids.
  • Taken 2 (3) - Didn't see the first one...
  • The Paperboy (2) - Old Nicole Kidman scares the crap out of me.
  • Here Comes the Boom (2) - My lust for Selma Hayek is far overcome by my revulsion of Kevin James.
  • Alex Cross (2) - meh
  • Frankenweenie (4) - I do like stop motion animation.
  • The Big Wedding (1) - DeNiro is old...Diane Keaton is old...
  • Chasing Mavericks (3) - Gerry Butler's fun, but the whole 'surfing mentor story' bores me
  • The Sessions (3) - Helen Hunt hasn't done anything good in a while. I'm sad about that.
  • Anna Karenina (1) - Stop Making Period Pieces, Keira Knightly. Stop It NOW.
  • Lincoln (3) - Serious history...zzzzzzzzzzz
  • Red Dawn (2) - Been there in the movie theater long, long, long ago
  • Les Miserables (2) - You know it's got singers...about the French revolution, right?
  • Jack Reacher (2) - Crazy Tom Cruise as a 6'5" super spy guy?
  • The Guilt Trip (1) - Babs should have stayed retired.
  • The Impossible (3) - Don't want to see heroic survival story.
  • On the Road (2) - G'head and howl, folks, but I won't be listening.
  • Parental Guidance (1) - Why's Billy Crystal still doing movies?
  • Amour (1) - A love story of 80 year olds?.......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

August 20, 2012

LonnieBurger Baskets: Zip's

The Girl and I had a free day this late summer and headed into Mount Lookout Square to try a burger at Zip's Cafe, one of dozens of places around town that claim to have the best burger in Cincinnati.

They, of course, are wrong, but let's take a look at their claim (from their FAQ page)...
"So what makes the Zip's Burger so tasty?" 
It's the fresh meat delivered daily from Bleh-Avril & Sons, Inc., flamebroiled and served on toasted honey-egg buns from Klosterman Bakery, and topped with your choice of condiments... and you have before you a Cincinnati favorite since 1926... the "Zip's Burger."
...and then at just how wrong they were - by the numbers, of course.




Burger

  • That's The Girl's burger up top and mine just below. Mine's flipped upside down, so don't worry about the lack of topping for right now. We'll get to those a little later.

    The Zip's burger is supposedly fresh made and delivered daily. The burger does have a good beef flavor but lacks anything else. There seems to be no spice at all in the burger, and it could certainly use something to - ironically - give it a little zip. The beef is good and loosely packed - in the vein on a Steak 'n' Shake burger (sorry to go back to that well again and again, but it's a style most people know).

    The patty was nicely tender and well cooked - though no question was asked about how either of us wanted the burger cooked, so mine ended up a little more done than I would have requested. The outside also lacked the deeper browning that I would like to see on a burger. Burger - 6 

Toppings 
  • Bacon doesn't seem all that odd a request, but it's one request that Zip's couldn't fulfill. I didn't see bacon on the menu, so I told our waitress I wanted a bacon cheeseburger and asked what was the closest they could get to it. She said they could do shaved ham on a cheeseburger, and I decided to give it a go.

    Shaved ham - even when they've browned it a bit on the griddle - is a poor substitute for bacon.

    Pickles were fine, though The Girl actively disliked her cup of pickled (on the side). She found the spices in them were offensive.

    The lettuce was shredded. The tomato was pale and watery. Toppings did not impress. Toppings - 5


Fries

  • Nothing much to say here. The fries came our luke warm and without and seasoning...no salt (or at least not much if there was any). They were, however, made of fried potato, so at least they had that going for them. Fries - 5 


Ambiance 
  • Sorry for the blur there. The camera had little enough light to work with, and with the zoom and my apparently shaky hands, this is what I get.

    Zip's is a neighborhood place that the locals love to death. The rest of us, however, have to look to see if the place if worth much. On the day we were there, the Reds were on the tube - about to sweep the second-place Pirates, and the dozen folks in the bar (through those swinging doors there) were into the game. The bar is friendly enough, as is the rest of the place with lots of wood paneling and old sports equipment on the walls - not memorabilia, just sports stuff. Ambiance - 6
Cost 
  • Little tough to figure this. The menu says the burger is $4.75 plus another $0.50 for the cheese. No notice of how much ham is, though. Fries are $2.25. The Diet Coke isn't on the menu.

    So let's go another way and work backwards since we didn't get an itemized receipt. The total was $25.20 for the two of us. OH food tax is 5.5% (7% on booze and soda, though), so that means our bill was probably around $23.75 before tax.

    Knock out The Girl's $3.50 beer, $5.25 cheese burger, and $2.25 fries, and that leaves me on the hook for...$12.75 for burger, fries, and a soda. That's bordering on highway robbery for what we got. Cost - 2
Other Stuff
  • The place doesn't serve bacon. -1
  • The beer was cheap. +1
  • There's a model train set constantly running around the track near the ceiling, and it travels through an updated scene of Mount Lookout Square. That's kinda cool. +2
  • The men's restroom was lit by a 15-watt bulb. It's a dark wood room, and you can't even see the door handle or latch because of how the bulb is placed and how pathetically dim it is. If the room were bigger than one toilet (the sink is though a different door even), I woulda worried about getting rolled. -2
  • Pretty much a wash there...
And the numbers say Zip's is full of burger meat...24 points...

I feel that might be a little low, but not much. Zip's doesn't have anything near the best burgers in Cincy.

They lie.

August 19, 2012

Back to School Boot Camp



Only minor and bleeped moments.

Some advice to the folks going back to school...doesn't really matter what level of school that is.

August 18, 2012

Today's links

For the new folks, I post something every weekday plus a compilation of fun links of the week on Saturday. Sunday's a day of rest...like at Chik-fil-a...or the Hobby Lobby...



August 17, 2012

Music for you, too

I was jonesing for a playlist of Bob Dylan, but he's apparently not quite down with rdio, so today you get a playlist of my favorite U2 songs.

August 16, 2012

For the new crüe

Every year around this time I get a few new readers - mostly because I send my students on a scavenger hunt of my course website which includes a quick dalliance over to this blog.

As I always do, I offer them again this year two things:

  • a welcome-to-the-blog post - It's a year out of date now, but not a lot has changed. Calen and I aren't doing Pasta for Pennies anymore, and her job title has changed, but that post is a pretty good place to get started if you're curious.
  • three chances for extra credit - 
    • The first five of my new students (nobody I had last year, only students I currently teach) who email me on my school email get five extra credit points. 
    • I'll also offer five extra credit points to each of the first five students who comment on this post. To earn the commenting posts, though, you must have/create a Google account that doesn't have your name as the name (for example, I'm Lonnie Dusch, but my google account is phschemguy)...your comment must say who you are...and you must tell me some post that you liked/found interesting on the blog
    • And you can get five extra credit points for being one of the first five (of my students - sorry, Studer folks) students to sign up to join the PHS honors chem facebook group (this one's closed as of 8/16 @ 9:15pm - but please still join the group)...or one of the first five (of my students - sorry, Studer folks) to sign up to join the newly-created CP chem facebook group. AP students, since you've all had me before, you don't get this chance.
    • I won't give anybody more than ten points EC, though, so you can only get two of those three opportunities. 
For the perpetual readers, thank you again for hanging with me through this - and through the last year. You're great folks.

Top Five: lack of theme

My favorite Tommy Lee Jones movies

  1. No Country for Old Men - the last scene alone is worth the price of admission
  2. The Fugitive
  3. Blown Away - great character with Jones as his most manic form
  4. Cobb
  5. Small Soldiers
    Honorable mention - Captain America (not enough Jones), Under Siege (loads of Jones but too much non-Jones), Batman Forever (fun but a little too wacky), Men in Black

My favorite Steve Carrell movies (updating)

  1. Anchorman: Legend of Ron Burgundy
  2. Dinner for Schmucks
  3. Crazy Stupid Love
  4. Despicable Me
  5. Bruce Almighty
    Dishonorable mention: 40 Year Old Virgin and Little Miss Sunshine - hated them both

My favorite Meryl Streep movies

  1. Fantastic Mr. Fox
  2. Adaptation
  3. Manhattan
  4. Julie & Julia
  5. Death Becomes Her
    I'm surprised at how few of her really well respected movies I've seen.

My favorite Ryan Gosling movies

  1. Drive
  2. Lars & the Real Girl
  3. Ides of March
  4. Crazy Stupid Love
  5. Blue Valentine - not enjoyable but excellently well made

My favorite Emma Stone movies

  1. Zombieland
  2. Superbad
  3. Zombieland
  4. House Bunny
  5. Friends With Benefits - the film's better than this ranking, but Stone's only in it for a minute, so I had to drag it down the list
Oh, and about the graphic...second hit when I searched for "five movies" on Google images. I really enjoyed her in Adventureland and thought she did a great job in Panic Room, but I'll admit that the latter didn't require her to do much more than suffer and look vacant - pretty much right in her wheelhouse as we've since learned.

August 15, 2012

Samsa I amsa

Couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to catch episode 470 of This American Life - an NRP show that I praise every chance I get around here. The episode's theme/title was "Show Me the Way" and featured three stories of people making odd choices of to whom they turn for advice. The opener was a brief tale of a man whose divorce lawyer had an affair with the man's soon-to-be ex-wife. The next story was an incredibly well-told tale of a fifteen-year-old who ran away from home to live with Piers Anthony.

But the best tale - part three - was a story from the mashed-up literature files in which Gregor Samsa turns to Dr Seuss for medical advice. I was - and still am - amazed.

August 14, 2012

Time will get you killed

In Time - The trailer is engaging. Both lead actors are pretty enough (especially grooving to Amanda Seyrfried with the dark hair), personable enough, and have some good work on their resumes. The concept of our life being measured by a time clock kept on our person - where time becomes the world currency - is even interesting enough.

If only this movie didn't stink like fish. The premise doesn't work. There are more holes in this plot than in a fishing net. The actors are palatable enough - JTimberlake, Seyfried, Cilian Murphy - but there just isn't much for them to work with here as the entire premise of time as currency doesn't hold up very long under the actual machinations required to keep it going.

It's a pretty enough movie, but it just doesn't work.

Good trailer, though.


Cinderella: Fables Are Forever - Interesting that this second sequel to the main Fables comic series came along fairly soon after Jack of Fables faded into the sunset. So far - after two collections - I'm enjoying the Cinderella series far more. Of course, Jack of Fables was pretty entertaining for the first few volumes, too. That series, though, had a larger story arc - the librarian sisters rounding up the Fables.

These two volumes don't have any similar large arc going between them, just the engaging character of Cinderella, secret super-spy and public frivolous socialite. The Cinderella character is a knowing mixture of James Bond/super-spy cliches - both cliches taken part of and cliches knowingly mocked. Luckily, the super spy genre is one pretty rife for mockery, particularly with the added entertainment of gender reversal.

This volume centers around Cinderella's ongoing battle with her evil equal, the nefarious Dorthy Gale, who came through the portal from the Homelands and found herself hired out by a series of communist and evil empires, developing into Cinderella's deadly mirror behind the now-fallen Iron Curtain. The first few issues of this volume find Cindy hunting Gale down, being captured, and finding a way to escape and better evil number. It's fairly standard spy stuff, but luckily Willingham's writing keeps things entertaining enough.

Sadly the final issue is simply a reprint of a Fables tale of Cindy's diplomatic mission to the cloud kingdom, something that was vitally important to the battle against the Homelands. It's a tale told well enough, but it's certainly one that anyone who's read to this point would have already seen.


Locke & Key - Clockwork - This volume is both everything I wanted and the most frustrating volume of the outstanding Locke and Key series yet.

It's everything I wanted because this volume is very little of the current storyline involving the Locke children and their continuing explorations of Keyhouse. Instead the Locke children find the time key and travel in time (able only to observe but not to interact) to two eras - the American Revolution, when the black door was first opened and the first evil, black things came through, inadvertently leading to the creation of the keys; and the 1970's, when the Locke kids' father and his friends fashioned themselves into the Keepers of the Keys, using the keys to the fullest and accidentally - through hubris, of course, is there anything more predictable than hubris going wrong - brought through the evil being that attached itself to Dodge, leading to the horrors of the current series.

The volume is horribly frustrating, however, because throughout the course of this volume the level of terror, the acts of horror, the tension is raised to such a level that it's tough to have to wait for the final volume of the series.

There's great stuff happening here. It's one that has to be read from the beginning.

Batgirl: The Darkest Reflection - I'm not getting the new Batgirl. I don't understand the direction that the New 52 DC is choosing to take, returning Barbara Gordon to the yellow boots, relegating Oracle and Stephanie Brown into the dustbin of history, and rewriting The Killing Joke, one of the seminal moments of the modern DC universe. Yeah, I get the nostalgia thing that there are people who want Babs back in the boots, but I miss Oracle and Stephanie Brown.

Interestingly, the story also treads a lot of ground that we've seen before. We've seen Barbara Gordon go through all the healing and recovery - emotional and physical - that she does here, only here the healing is needed just to return her to the pre-shooting status quo where the healing she had to do to become Oracle actually lead to something new and different.

This is a lesser Batgirl.

Suicide Squad: Kicked in the Teeth - another New 52 stinker...dumb, hyper-violent, poor redesigns of the characters involved - particularly Harley Quinn (who dies at the end of this volume, by the way)


Justice League: Origin - Somebody please tell Jim Lee that he isn't being paid by the line, would you?

This is the central title of the New 52 in which all of the members of the Justice League (Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Cyborg) are new to each other and to the world of superheroing, Batman being the most experienced of the group but still being awfully green around the edges, being so stupid as to reveal his secret identity to Green Lantern after about two pages of battle.

I understand that starting a fictional universe over means that you're going to have characters meeting each other for the first time again, but that doesn't mean all of the characters have to revert to being one-dimensional morons (see: WW's angry Amazon schtick, Superman's instant capture and equally simple freeing, Flash's constant avoidance of cameras, Batman's willingness to take off his cowl). Oddly, Cyborg's easily the most competent hero here in spite of the fact that he only got his powers/suit a few pages before.

I'm hoping there's something good in the New 52, but this isn't it.


Batwoman: Hydrology - Thankfully Batwoman is still around and pretty much in the same place that she was before the New 52 came along to redeem my comic reading.

Here we get Kate Kane continuing as Batwoman in from the same pre-New 52 place that she was, having jettisoned her father's help because Dad's lie about the death of Kate's sister years before. Kate finds herself training her younger sister (or cousin or something - Flamebird, you know) which leads nicely into Mister Bones's involvement in ther series, blackmailing Batwoman into working for him as a distant operative of the Department of Extranormal Operations - instead of teaming up with Batman after his offer for her to join him in Batman International.

The story is well told with Batwoman hunting down a watery Banshee thing and trying to recover Gotham children that the banshee has taken, but the main draw here is the artwork which is unlike that on any other comic being published today. Batwoman is one of the most gorgeous comics out there, and I'm hoping that the series can make it through the recent artistic shifts.

Captain America Corps - stinky...multiple Captain Americas stolen from time streams and multiverses and crashing universes and other crap...and underwhelming villains and meh...


Fables: Inherit the Wind (vol 17) - For those of you who've been following along with Fables for the past 100+ issues (and you're a fool if you haven't been), we've lately seen our characters chased from Fabletown in the Big Apple by the threat of Mr Dark then chased from the Farm to Haven back in the Homelands. With the threat of Mr Dark ended in volume 16, the Fables can return to the Farm, but there were a lot of unresolved and disparate plotlines left hanging out there.

This volume then tracks through a number of those plotlines in seemingly disparate directions, switching back and forth among the stories every few pages. This, then, is the weakness of this volume. There isn't one story to follow; there are four:

  • Bufkin's revolution-spreading through the Land of Oz
  • the competition among Bigby's cubs to become the new North Wind
  • Nurse Spratt's growing skills toward defense of Mr Dark's castle in NYC
  • Fables returning to the Farm from Haven
  • various shorter, anthology tales from guest artists - including a Christmas issue exploring Rose Red's responsibilities as a herald of Hope
It's not that these various storylines aren't engaging; they're told with the same high quality tight arcs and great artwork that we've come to be used to with Fables. It's just that there's so much to follow along through the collection, and there's very little resolution here. I'm sure this is a needed volume and one that will pay off in the long run, but that makes for a weaker-feeling collection this time. Various conclusions are coming - in Oz, in NYC, in the North Wind's castle - and I'm going to continue to follow the series through. Willingham has a long-term plan that he's looking toward, and I'm very much willing to follow him to just about anywhere at this point.


Ultimate Spider-Man: Fallout - So, the Ultimate Universe's Spider-Man is dead. Now we need six issues of 'fallout'.

Actually, the artists and writers here do a great job of showing what an important person Peter Parker was to the Ultimate world. We see how the super-hero community saw Spider-Man as their best, as their future, as someone for whom they felt responsibility to train and raise and protect...and they failed here. They let down Peter, his family and friends, and themselves.

Peter Parker - in the Ultimate world maybe even more so than in Marvel-616 - was the linchpin of the world, connecting to the Ultimates  (being trained by them and watched over by Samuel L Jackson), the X-Men (dating Kitty Pryde and rooming with Iceman), and the Fantastic Four (being best friends with Johnny Storm).

Miles Morales is going to have some pretty big shoes to fill.


Spider-Man Season One - One of the problems with the major comic characters - Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, most especially - is that they can never die. Their stories can never end. It was something explored well in Neil Gaiman's Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusdaer. Without ending, the beginning of the story recedes further into the distance, becoming far, far less relevant.

This volume is a retelling of Spider-Man's origin - Uncle Ben, responsibility and power, wrestler, radioactive spider bite, J Jonah, Daily Bugle, Vulture. There's nothing new or revolutionary here. Instead of resetting the world, recreating the hero from scratch, Marvel's just updating things and making the origin a little more current, a little more up to date.

There's no revelations here, just simple and nice storytelling.


Dream Team - Caught an excerpt from this in the vet's office a month or two back. The excerpt was entertaining enough that I went for the full deal.

It's a good read, full of glimpses into the massive egos and expenses involved in the creation of the Olympic basketball team of 1992. The team was lead by two very different North Poles in Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson and - to a much less vocal extent - Larry Bird. McCallum takes us on a tour of the ground work that lead to the acceptance of professional American athletes in the Olympic basketball tournament, then on the selection of players for the team, and finally through the team's total dominance of the Olympic qualifying tournament and the medal competition itself.

Along the way we see some brutal snubs - most strongly against Isiah Thomas - and admirable respect for the American sporting pride. Plus we get a couple of recaps of some outstanding beatdowns of the international teams, on which, thankfully, McCallum doesn't dwell. There's little need for recapping these games in which the average margin of victory was more than thirty points and the closest games were nearly twenty point wins. We do get some detail - of  Jordan and Pippen's brutal evisceration of Toni Kukoc, of a Michael vs Magic captained scrimmage, or Bird's struggles with his back, Drexler's hurt for not being in the first round of selections, Laettner's junior status on the team, David Robinson's emotional strength and discomfort with the locker room vulgarity, even on the positive repercussions of the international teams seeing the best that the basketball world had to offer.

It's a good read that could only be told by an author who was granted impressive access by the players and coaches willing to look back on the greatest basketball team of all time.

August 13, 2012

Update: umm...something in the past

I know I've posted this lipdub of Harvey Danger's "Flagpole Sitta" in the past, but I can't find where. No matter, I happened upon this list of where the people from the video are now, five years later.

cantnotmove asked: Out of all the people who took part in the Flagpole Sitta lip-dub, how many people still work there and how many have left like you? (oddly specific question, I know, but I'm curious) 
Great Question! Here is an update on everyone’s life in order of appearance. Only 6 still work w/ CollegeHumor, BustedTees, and Vimeo. 
Jake Lodwick (not in the video, but the master mind behind the camera)- Has started his own company, Elepath.com 
ME - I am currently employed at Tumblr 
Justin Ouellette (on left) - Works at Tumblr 
Chris Collins (on right) - Has recently started his own company, Gusta.com 
Jeff Rubin - Is still part of CollegeHumor Media (CV’s new name) where is the Editor in Chief of Jest.com 
Sarah “my queen” Schneider - Left CollegeHumor a year ago to write for Saturday Nigh Live 
Niel Epstein - WHO DA F--- KNOWS! JK looked him up on LinkedIn he lives in Austin and work for Frog Design. 
Streeter Seidell - Is currently the Editor and Chief of CollegeHumor 
Josh Mohrer - Works for Uber.com Andrew Pile - Still making the Vimeo 
Josh Abramson - He left CollegeHumor a year ago, bought back BustedTees from IAC which he currently runs full-time 
Ricky Van Veen - Still head of CollegeHumor Media and has recently produced CollegeHumor’s first movie 
Zach Klein - Has a new company called DIY.org 
Amir Blumenfeld - Works on Jake and Amir for CollegeHumor, while writing and acting on his own.
Somehow I feel like there were more people in the vid, but I'm gonna trust the girl. She was there.

And, in case you wanted to know more, there is some behind-the-scenes footage.

August 11, 2012

Summer is over...

...much sadness...



August 10, 2012

Perseid meteor shower tomorrow night

In reality the Perseid meteor shower has been going on for a week or so now, but tomorrow (Saturday, 8/11) night is the peak of the shower. Take a few minutes tomorrow night to head out and take a gander.


August 9, 2012

Sleepwalk With Me - a request for help

Looks like This American Life - one of the most outstanding radio programs out there - has decided to step into the movie business, producing a film based on a Mike Birbiglia bit that the show carried a couple of years back. Here's the trailer...



...and here's the original bit from the radio show...(yeah, YouTube clip of a radio show, shuddup)



The people over at This American Life are trying to get the film into as many theaters as possible and have a page up requesting people hit up Twitter, email, Facebook, and whatever other social media to get the film into their local theater. From what I know about the show - brilliant ever week...the original Birbiglia bit - hilarious and emotionally honest...and the movie - funny trailer...I'm all okay with helping them out.

Take a look at the videos up there and see if you'd be willing to help them out, too.

August 8, 2012

Damn you, CoachSullivan

Thanks (I guess) to Coach Sullivan for pointing out that today's Google Doodle is a playable pop-a-shot game.

I've only played a few times, and I'm up to 39 points so far...


Suck it, Sullivan...

An accident paid for

Couple of weeks ago the Court of Claims of Ohio approved a $600,000 settlement for a Cincinnati couple whose daughter was burned when a couple of UC employees (professors? grad students? secretaries? - the article doesn't say) were doing a demonstration that went wrong. Apparently the ethanol caught fire and exploded, resulting in the girl getting second and third degree burns on her arms, legs, and face.

I try to pay attention to lab accidents so I know what not to do in my classroom. I need to know more about this one because I burn ethanol in my classroom all the time. I'm curious as to what went wrong here because I've never had a problem with ethanol. Methanol is bad stuff, but ethanol hasn't been a problem that I've known.

August 7, 2012

Wilco at Newport

Don't call for the next couple of hours. I'm gonna be listening to Wilco's full set at the Newport Folk Festival from a couple of weekends ago.


August 6, 2012

Sing us a song...

Today, Billy Joel videos...thanks to one of the dorkiest, most-out-of-time, shortest musical superstars that the 80's knew...

"Uptown Girl"


August 4, 2012

Nine days

Nine days left...that's all...


August 3, 2012

Vacationing in an oat box

It's been a slow summer at Casa de ChemGuy what with The Girl having UC summer school all season. That means we didn't have any sort of actual big vacation like we've had the past few years. Instead, I got to drop down to Houston and over to Indianapolis to teach a couple of ASM Materials Science camps. In neither city, however, did I get to see any real part of the city. They're working trips where I'm hanging in the lab from seven to seven, grabbing a quick bite to eat, and heading back to the hotel to look at the next day's PowerPoint.

This week, though, I got to take a three-day vacation to picturesque Akron, Ohio.


No, The Girl didn't come along. This was just me and twenty-seven of my closest friends hanging at the National Center for Education and Research on Corrosion and Materials Performance to learn about the national problem that is corrosion. G'head and ask me just about anything about corrosion and how I'm gonna teach my students about it this year. I'm a frickin' expert now...

The coolest part of the trip, though, was getting to stay at the Quaker Square Inn, the second oddest hotel in America.

See, it's a freakish hotel that's inside the old Quaker Oats factory where they just carved into the concrete silos to make the rooms. It's more than a little odd with the whole cement murals in the lobby, and elevators in one of the silos, and the first floor rooms having fourteen-foot ceilings with a set of electrical outlets at thirteen feet from the floor 'cause...um...'cause it's odd.





The place was opened in 1976...



...but now it's half hotel (the first three floors) and half dorm (the other five floors)...very odd...



Seriously, though, if you get the chance to take the corrosion camp, you should do it. The field trip to AZZ Galvanizing alone is worth it.

August 2, 2012

Hot comics

Saw this on the door of a professor's office in Indy...love it...


August 1, 2012

A little new old music

It doesn't sound new, but it is...thanks, as always, to NPR for pointing it out...