April 30, 2013

The Dogs are Alright

This story is a year and a half old at this point, but I haven't heard a better update on the dogs that Michael Vick had faught.

Watch The Dogs Are Alright on PBS. See more from Need To Know.

As a proud and loving owner of a wonderful pit bull, myself, I am thrilled to know that nearly all of the dogs turned out okay.

April 29, 2013

Catch up links post...

April 25, 2013

...couldn't drag me away...

How gorgeous is that photo (source)?

It's a silhouette of the Wild Horses Monument in Eastern Washington State, and I'm thinking that we've got a new destination for vacation some day.

There are a bunch more photos at this site...

...and video here...

April 24, 2013

Vaccines are not harmful

Vaccines help us.

They do not cause autism.

They do not cause intestinal distress.

The only study that ever showed that they caused those problems was a lie.

Jenny McCarthy is killing people.

Read it - with pictures - here.

Get with the herd, folks.

April 23, 2013

The current favorites...in one playable list...

This week's music is stuff that's new to me. Enjoy it.

Tack listing after the jump.
  • Ryan Adams - "Rainy Days"
  • Nina Simone - "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"
  • Bob Dylan - "Tell Me That It Isn't True"
  • The Rolling Stones - "Mona (I need you, baby)"
  • Neil Young - "Inca Queen"
  • Beck's Record Club - "New Sensation"
  • Forest for the Trees - "Dream"
  • Kingston Trio - "To Morrow"
  • The Cars - "I'm in Touch With Your World"
  • Richard Thompson - "Straight Narrow"
  • The Barden Bellas - "Pool Mashup"
  • Willy DeVille Acoustic Trio - "Storybook Love (live)"
  • Project Trio - "Sweet Pea"
  • BW Stevensson - "My Maria"
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - "BomBom"
  • Blind Melon - "No Rain"
  • Thao & the Get Down Stay Down - "We The Common (for Valerie Bolden)"

April 22, 2013

Movie thermometer

Summer movie time!

I'm looking forward to it. Specifically, I'm looking forward to...

(oh, and the scale goes from 0 (I wouldn't watch it for anything) to 5 (I'd watch it, but I wouldn't go out of my way) to 10 (I'll be there on opening day). They're in the order presented by Entertainment Weekly, a subscription which I absolutely hope lapses soon, and RazorFine. )

  • Man of Steel - 8.5 - The second and third trailers were a lot more intriguing than the first.
  • The Great Gatsby - 6
  • Star Trek: Into Darkness - 8 - The first was a blast. Hopefully this'll be, too.
  • Iron Man 3 - 9.5 - I won't be missing a Marvel movie any time soon.
  • Epic - 5.5
  • Now You See Me - 7
  • The Hangover III - 6
  • Frances Ha - 4
  • Love Is All You Need - 3.5
  • Greetings From Tim Buckley - 5
  • Black Rock - 3
  • Peeples - 5.5
  • Before Midnight - 7.5
  • Fast and Furious 6 - 2 - I haven't seen any of the ones before now.
  • The East - 4.5
  • The Heat - 4 
  • White House Down - 4
  • After Earth - 6 - Looks intriguing. I hadn't heard of it at all until the preview in EW.
  • The Is the End - 6 - It looks like the actors had a blast filming this one. The last of those was Oceans 12. Not a good parallel.
  • World War Z - 6
  • Much Ado About Nothing - 5
  • I'm So Excited - 5
  • Twenty Feet From Stardom - 5
  • The Bling Ring - 7 - Emma Watson playing against type at least gets attention. Sophia Copola does, as well.
  • Monsters University - 6.5 - Probably a lot of fun but nothing I'm desperate to see.
  • The Internship - 5.5 - Owen Wilson - good. Vince Vaughn - annoying as crap.
  • The Lone Ranger - 6
  • Pacific Rim - 6 - Guillermo del Toro gets at least a look here.
  • Fruitvale - 4
  • Girl Most Likely - 3
  • Grown Ups 2 - 2.5 - Kevin James & Adam Sandler?!?! Count me out.
  • The Wolverine - 7.5 
  • Turbo - 5 - Probably cute as all get out, though.
  • The Smurfs 2 - 3
  • Despicable Me 2 - 7.5 
  • The Way, Way Back - 6.5
  • The Conjuring - 5
  • Only God Forgives - 8
  • Red 2 - 5.5
  • R.I.P.D. - 5
  • Blue Jasmine - 4
  • Elysium - 6
  • We're the Millers - 4
  • Don Jon - 7.5 - Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson both get me looking.
  • Grandmaster - 5.5
  • The World's End - 6 - How stupid many of these end-of-the-world movies are there this summer?
  • Getaway - 5
  • Planes - 4.5 - Pixar's sort of Cars2 sequel...meh...haven't seen either Cars yet
  • The To Do List - 5.5 - I do dig Aubrey Plaza.
  • The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones - 4
  • The Spectacular Now - 4
  • Lovelace - 6
  • Prince Avalanche - 5
  • Ain't Them Bodies Saints - 6
  • Kick-Ass 2 - 3/7 - I didn't enjoy the first film after somewhat enjoying the first comic. I was thoroughly repulsed by the second comic, but the film looks intriguing...split vote here.
  • Percy Jackson: Sea of Monster - 4
  • 300: Rise of an Empire - 7
  • 2 Guns - 4
  • You're Next - 5

What else should I add to the list that I'm missing, and what're you excited to see?

April 20, 2013

I remember the days when I was stronger than a wall.

April 19, 2013

Don't join the tribe but maybe take a look

I'll admit that some tumblrs tend to annoy me.

I get that you (the tumblr's author) likes that picture. But if you're going to make some vague comment about the picture and assume everybody in the world gets exactly what you're saying, all you're doing is shrinking your audience.

Every picture of a dog sniffing a flower followed with 'am I right?' or still of a television show with 'best ever' when I have no clue what show it's from, pushes me just a little further away.

That being said, there have been a bunch of tumblrs that I have followed for a few weeks before being pushed away. They can have interesting stretches here and there.

Today's newest intrigue is Tribe of the Strange with its Spanish graffiti, historical tracking of Roger Ebert's Blade Runner reviews, colorized photos of great scientists, death of Galactus, stories of Willy Wonka, and its Planetary panels.

Check it out, maybe?

April 18, 2013

Upstream Color coming to Cincy

I'm a geek for Pimer. I'll readily admit that.

I've seen it a half dozen times, and I get something new from every viewing.

Because of that, I'm willing to go into Upstream Color with almost blind faith. Shane Carruth has my total faith.

That's why I'll be seeing the flick either next Tuesday or Wednesday evening at The Art Academy of Cincinnati thanks to Cincinnati Film Society. It's not listed as coming to the Esquire in Cincy or the Neon in Dayton, so this may be my only chance to see it on the big screen.

Anybody wanna join me?

April 17, 2013

Update: A gag that never gets old

I'm telling you, they're on a farm.

Comics, comics, and more comics

Lots of reading of late...mostly in postponing the finishing of the last two Vonnegut novels and the grading of pretty much anything at all. Sheesh, the summer can't come soon enough for me.

Dollhouse: Epitaphs - Joss Whedon's Dollhouse series made it like a season and a half, and I never saw a single episode. This clearly means I'm not the target market for this comic. In fact, I spent most of the volume absolutely lost as to what's happening. There're quite a few characters introduced here with lines like "wait, you're here? After what you did to me?" This isn't for the noobs.

It wasn't for me.

The Amazing Spider-Man: Identity Crisis - Meh...Spider-Man is framed by Norman Osborne for attacking Norman Osborne and for killing some bad guy with webbing in the mouth and throat. The police are on the hunt, and there's a million-dollar bounty on Peter's head.

So Petey thinks it's a good idea to come up with three new heroic identities (and one bad guy) to fight crime as instead of going out as your friendly, neighborhood webslinger.

It's not a good idea, and it's a boring comic.

A vx X: Avengers Academy - I didn't get into the Avengers vs X-Men thing. I read ComicsAlliance's various recaps, and then decided I didn't have much interest in reading the full miasma.

But I picked this one up from PLCH because it was there. Man, I've read a lot of comics because of that simple reason: because it was there. I'm pretty much a capes and tights slut. Gimme a DC or Marvel comic, and I'm at least good for a flip through any time.

There is a lot of teen angst here with the young X-kids locked up at Avenger's school/training camp/whatever the heck to keep them away from the conflict that they've been trained for. So they have to fight each other - but playfully because they're kids.

Skip it...

Astonishing X-Men: Northstar - Gay guys get married. I've got not problem with that other than the fact that it's written boringly and in the middle of a fight that only gets a false resolution in this volume. The marriage is stupidly written because the two guys agree that they shouldn't get married because it's too soon, because their lives are too different, because they're in too much danger. And then they get married in the next issue.

And then the collection is fleshed out with two issues that have nothing to do with the story other than they have Northstar in them..and the second one is drawn by Rod Liefeld.

Stear clear.

Captain America & Bucky: the life story of Bucky Barnes - This one's at least a good read.

There's a lot of stuff that's already been written about Bucky, but this one focuses more on what we didn't necessarily know: Bucky's background before he became Cap's sidekick and then some o the insecure times as Cap's sidekick. Then we get a little bit of him and Natasha.

I'm expecting this to be pushed a bit more when the next Captain America movie, Winter Soldier, comes out in a year or so. Give it a read but don't rush out to buy it or anything.

DMZ - After just last week I slandered PLCH for not buying the last three volumes of Brian Wood's DMZ, they got the last three volumes of DMZ.

Thank you, PLCH, for all that you do and for letting me read the wrap-up of this outstanding series.

To catch you up, Matty Roth has been dropped into a Manhattan that is no longer a part of the United States of America. Nor is it part of The Free States of America, the group that initiated the new American Civil War. Manhattan is a battleground with ebbing and flowing levels of fighting. Matty walks the tightrope of moral high ground staying neutral between the two sides and choosing instead to tell the story of the people of Manhattan. Then Matty threw himself into the fray backing Parco Delgado in the election for leader of New York City.

And that all went to hell, leaving us where we are when volume ten, Collective Punishment, opens back up. The first few issues don't have Matty anywhere near the story. He is still in hiding for how 'to hell' things went when Parco's reign fell. It's a tribute to Wood that he leaves his main character on the sidelines for four issues and the series doesn't suffer at all in his absence.

Wood's Manhattan isn't Matty. It's every Manhattanite and their stories of how they're trying to survive - and barely thrive - in the DMZ. These three volumes are a wonderful, spectacular close to a series that has seen nothing in black and white terms, instead shading the world in gorgeous grays. Matty's tale ends as his tale should end, and it feels right. The last issue is the most wonderful love letter to New York City that I've read.

Thank you, Brian Wood. You made me cry there at the end.

April 16, 2013

More from the banjo master

Caught a listen to Steve Martin's newest banjo album (with Edie Brickell on vocals throughout - where's she been?) thanks to NPR's First Listen yesterday.

Love it. Take a listen yourselves if you're into the whole bluegrass thing.

None of the videos after the jump are of the new album, though.

April 15, 2013

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, though I think some of the songs in today's playlist might have two meanings.

April 13, 2013

You love to see guys who are never rushed...

April 11, 2013

Map of the United States of Movies

I'm not happy with many of these choices.

In particular, I would take The Descendants or Pearl Harbor over Tora! Tora! Tora! for Hawaii.

Texas feels like it should have something far greater than No Country, but I'll admit that I can't come up with what it should be.

I might've gone with Roger & Me for Michigan.

Good calls - Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington (though I actually thought First Blood was in Oregon), California (even though there are dozens of other movies that could qualify, Fast Times sums up the surfer thing well), Illinois, Indiana, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine, and New York.

Some of the states don't mean anything to me as far as movies go - Maryland, Delaware, and lots of New England, for example.

Kentucky feels really wrong. Isn't there some horse racing movie that would top Kalifornia?

Help me improve this map, won't you?

April 10, 2013

Comic starters

This past week one of my students asked me for some comic recommendations. My thoughts...
  • Watchmen - This is the pinnacle of the art form. It's the most complicated, most impressive, most intricate and brilliant graphic novel - and to call it less would be to sell it short - that's been published. With that being said, it's definitely a hard R or even an NC-17. I don't know that this is the one I would recommend as a starter for someone who hasn't been reading comics. On the other hand, it might be a heck of a gateway drug. The story wraps up tidily in twelve issues, and the conclusion will lead to lots of re-reading. More thoughts about the comic here and about the movie here.
  • Locke & Key - This will be one of the few non-superhero comics on my list. It's an effect of my tastes that I tend to mostly read capes comics, so my recommendations tend to be in that milieu, as well. This, one, though is entirely devoid of capes and superpowers. That doesn't mean it's devoid of unreality, though. It's a story of three children trying to protect their world from an evil that has been making appearances in their New England town since - at least - the American Revolution. The artwork is stunningly gorgeous, and the story is so tightly and well written that it is at times a very tense read. It's also a finite series, so you can go in knowing that you'll be able to wrap up the story. At this point we have - supposedly - just one more collection to come. More thoughts and images here.
  • Invincible - Mark Grayson's coming of age superhero story has been running for a hundred-plus issues now and is adding to that total by the month. That can be a bit of a drawback for starting readers: knowing that they'll have a whole lot of catching up to do. Mark's emotions are very well written and realistic as he sees friends die; love blossom, flourish, and fade; even his father turn evil. Along the way Mark becomes the greatest hero that Earth knows. The government comes to rely on him - and to betray him, and the federation of planets (or whatever it's called in this series), does as well. There is a bit of a repetitiveness to the fights with the Viltrumites, and things do get very graphic at times, but it's worth reading through the gruesomeness.
  • Powers - This one's definitely not for the little kids. There are nudes and murders and cursing all over the place. It's another ongoing series with nearly eighty issues - though there have been a coupleof somewhat length hiatuses along the way - that may be a bit intimidating for newbies. (Let me recommend the hardcover collections.) Wonderful story of police procedurals in a superpowered world, one in which non-powers sometimes feel a bit intimidated. There's a lot of darkness around, but there's also one of the most fascinating characters in all of comics with Detective Christian Walker, a former power himself.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man - Another long-running series with about 160 issues so far. Luckily the entirety of the run has been written by Brian Michael Bendis (same writer as Powers, curiously) which has lead to a very consistent and beautifully written tone through the whole run. The teen Peter Parker (and the the nearly pre-teen Miles Morales) was written with great understanding by Bendis, and the tie ins to the other teen heroes of the Ultimate Marvel universe - particularly Kitty Pryde and Johnny Storm - made this the keystone series of the Ultimate Marvel universe. It's also entirely teen-safe, so this might be my opener for a new teen reader.
  • Spider-Man: Blue - There's a lot of heart here, and the artwork is spectacular, possibly Tim Sale's finest work yet. This one's very short - only six issues - and it's largely ground that's been covered in other volumes. Peter Parker was falling love with Gwen Stacey, and this volume does a marvelous job of retelling that time. Plus it's really, really pretty. More thoughts and images here.
  • Fables - I was a little worried that all momentum in this series was being lost after the climax of the homeland war and then the defeat of Mr Dark by the North Wind, but the last volume (Cubs in Toyland) was emotionally brilliant. The first volume is a little weak, introductions being more important than story, but the long-form build-up and eventual execution of the return invasion of the Homelands is spectacular. The series has done a great job of telling multiple stories for more than 120 issues, and the artwork is so, so pretty.
  • Starman - This one's a legacy title for DC, one that tied into the history of the DC universe as well as did just about any other DC title. James Robinson's writing showed that the entirety of the series had been planned from step one, and every step along the way seemed as inevitable as the tides. It's also another wonderfully-drawn series, too. The space arc is a bit off-topic, but the rest is marvelously cohesive. In the long run, this is a tale of family - family by blood, by legacy, by choice, and by accident.
  • Sandman -This one's a family tale, too, but one of a family of the Infinite beings, and particularly of the one who chooses not to be Infinite any more. This is as perfect a seventy-five issues as could be written. The first arc is unpleasant and tied far more into the DC universe than is the rest of the run, but all of the arcs are important as the seeds of the end appear in the very beginning. It's also wonderful that there are many stand-alone issues that are among the series's finest. The artwork changes somewhat frequently because of the stand-alone issues. I find myself in tears every time I read the story's final arc. Wonderful series.
  • DMZ - I can't vouch for the conclusion collections of this one since PLCH seems unwilling to purchase the last two. This adult-themed series sees Matty Roth, the newsman protagonist, dropped into a civil-war-torn Manhattan. In the process, Matty becomes the most (and then the least-) trusted person in the New York DMZ. He learns that every day is a balance of trust, love, honesty, an expediency. It's complicated, and the series does a great job of telling the story of the DMZ from a number of different viewpoints.
  • Superman: Secret Identity - Maybe the most human of all the stories, this tale of a Clark Kent in, supposedly, the real world who finds that he actually has the powers of his famous and fictional namesake, is marvelous and tearful. Plus it's short enough to be read in a single sitting. Tears, man, tears every time. Coincidentally, an article about it appeared today.
  • Planetary - Thirty-seven perfect issues and hundreds of superhero tropes...I can see this one going either way - experienced comic readers will recognize lots of those tropes, but newbies might want to do the work to read the older stories on which many of these are based. This is a brilliant distillation and synthesis of superhero comics into one brilliant story. Along the way it turns out to be all about family, too. There's darkness along the way, but there's light at the end of the tale.
  • All-Star Superman - From the first page - possibly the most brilliant distillation of any superhero origin ever (parodied here) - to the last, this is a love story to Superman, a modern take on the ridiculous silver-age stories but with loads and loads of heart. I can't recommend most of Grant Morrison's writing, but this twelve-issue story is absolutely brilliant. This is one of the two best Superman stories ever, neither of which are in canon.
  • Supreme: Story of the Year - This one's the other best Superman story ever, even though it's about a Superman analog, not the real deal. This one's less open to newbies than is All-Star and a bit nastier at times. The second half of the collection is more metafiction than I tend to enjoy, but it's very well done.
  • Eternals - It took me a while to come around to John Romita Jr's artwork, but I'm now officially a fan. This one's Romita through and through with a story from Neil Gaiman after inspiration from Jack Kirby, can't get much stronger than that. There's a lot of background before this, but it's all either explained well enough in the story or can be glossed over in the reading. There's a massive, cosmic scope to this, something I tend not to enjoy as a rule in comics but that I absolutely love here. I do wish I could read a bit further, but Gaiman didn't continue beyond this first collection, so whatever.
  • Wolverine: Enemy of the State - Another John Romita Jr bit of artwork here with a very dark story involving two heroes losing their souls and nearly destroying the Marvel universe. This one's brutal and bloody - though highly stylized. It's by far the most interesting Wolverine story that I've read. Tough to explain why this one's impressive, but it certainly is.
  • Astonishing X-Men (the Joss Whedon run) - The X-Men's history is a mess. Dang near every character has been a hero and a villain at different times. Plus they've had dozens of different - often concurrently running - series (Astonishing, Uncanny, Ultimate, Classic, All-New, Giant-Sized, New) - so they're fairly well impossible to follow. Just forget about all that and enjoy this brilliant mixture of the originals (Cyclops, Beast), middle (Kitty Pryde, Colossus), and very new (Danger, Emma Stone) heroes. This one's all over the universe in scope and impressively emotional. The final arc - Unstoppable - is just spectacular, but only because of the steps that lead along the way.
  • Pride of Baghdad - One of the very few non-superhero comics here, this tale of a pride of lions released from the Baghdad zoo during the American invasion is possibly the most heart-wrenching story I've ever read. It's also self-contained, so new readers neadent worry about feeling out of the loop. This one should be required reading for anyone who says comics are for kids - or are stupid - or are juvenile.
  • Batman:  Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader - It's based on a Superman tale, similarly meant to clear the bilges for one of many periodic rewrites, but this one's far more welcoming to new readers than is that Superman version. I feel like a broken record, but I was in tears by the end of this two-issue collection. This hardback collection actually has the two issues in the tale (brilliant) and a couple more issues that aren't related but are just there to flech out the hardback. Read the first two and set the others aside, though.
  • Scott Pilgrim - No superheroes here, just awkward Canadians trying to find love in a video game world. Great exploration of the college-age years trying to move beyond childish things and find your way in the world. It's six black and white volumes (though they're releasing colorized versions), so there's hope for an ending. Plus it's been made into a good movie - great, great source materials, though. More thoughts here.
  • Runaways - Another teen topic here...six teens (a mixed bag racially, motivationally, and perspectivationally) find out that their parents are the worst of the worst villains, and they have to decide what path to take. Sure it's a bit more dramatic than most teens' choices, but it feels very much typical teen. They don't know what adults to trust, and they don't always know which of each other they can trust. Wonderful entree for teen readers - with science fiction, magic, dinosaurs, capes and superheroes, great good and bad.
  • Batgirl: Year One - Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, painted scenery in this retelling of the Batgirl origins. This might be a good one to recommend for teen, female first timers. There aren't nearly enough superhero comics with strong female protagonists, but this is one of them. Batgirl's a brilliant character in so many of her incarnations (Barbara Gordon in this one).
  • The Dark Knight Returns - Dark, adult, vile, violent, a rough. This one's a futuristic, non-canon (though it's been brought into canon somewhat since) story that colored Batman interpretations for the three decades since it was published. It's a nice, tidy four issues, but it's filled with violence and dirty things, I warn you. Not for the junior readers
  • Superman: Red Son - DC has done a number of Elseworlds titles in which they explore stories that aren't remotely in canon. This one sees Kal-El (Superbaby) landing in Communist Russia and Superman being raised for truth, justice, and the communist way. Great exploration of Superman with that one twist. Speaking of twists, the one at the end left me stunned, mouth agape.
  • Batman: Year One - This retelling of Batman's first year - his successes and far too frequent screw-ups - is told alongside Jim Gordon's first year in Gotham, making for wonderful parallels between two men finding their ways and purposes. This is the polar opposite to Dark Knight Returns, the hopeful but fitful beginning of the story rather than the dark ending. Marvelously human in both men's tales.
  • Batman: The Long Halloween - Set a couple of years further along as the supervillains (Ivy, Penguin, Joker, Riddler, etc) begin to take Gotham over from the gangsters who were the villains in Year One. Every one of the great villains in the greatest rogue's gallery in comic history. This one's another pretty, pretty volume - with twelve tight issues - from Tim Sale and Jeph Loeb, two of the modern masters of comics.
  • Astro City - This one's another series - a bunch of mini-series, really - that takes the usual superhero cliches and tropes and makes them fresh again. They're wonderfully human because many of the stories see the non-superhero denizens of the world and their reactions to the heroes who dominate their world. All of the mini-series can be read individually, but as an entirety they make for a brilliant exploration of what it would be like to see the world populated by people far more powerful than themselves.
  • Justice League (Giffen/DeMatteis run) - Rarely do non-comic readers think of comics as being funny, but this is the most well-written, funny take on the biggest superhero team ever. Instead of having them fight massive, planetary-scale baddies, the writers made them into a United Nations team trying to keep the peace while getting to know each other. It's a light-hearted bit of team building that turned expectations entirely on their heads.

    April 9, 2013


    iGoogle (and Google Reader - which I don't use) is going away at the beginning of November this year, about which I am terrifically sad because I've come to love the heck out of it.

    I start my web browsing on iGoogle every stinking time that I open up Fireworks (at work) or Chrome (at home).

    I check most every site I visit regularly - every personal blog, every webcomic, every personal blog, every news site - via the RSS feeds that I have stored on my iGoogle page. I don't want to manually check every blog and comic on a daily basis, so I'm going to have to find something - some RSS or similar reader - to replace iGoogle.

    I'm not alone in my love of and reliance on iGoogle by any stretch, either. There's an entire website of people who want to save iGoogle. I doubt that's going to do much good as Google has made the impending retirement announcement pretty definite and official. Luckily I'm not the only person who needs an iGoogle replacement. Lots of people have been exploring alternatives for me (and probably for themselves, I guess).

    iGoogle will be missed, but then again, a lot of Google products have their graves well marked.

    Anybody out there have a particular non-iGoogle RSS reader that they like?

    April 8, 2013

    Go 'ome! Go 'ome!

    This one came about because I happened to hear "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes followed on a new folk playlist by "Home" by Phillip Phillips. Blame them for today's playlist of songs about home.

    Listen to it, then go 'ome!

    April 6, 2013

    Sail away from the ball and chain...

    April 4, 2013

    You can go home again

    That's the house I grew up in.

    I was back in N'Albany this past week and saw that it was for sale.

    In case you were curious, my old bedroom shows up at 1:50, and no, that dark wood around the windows doesn't at all fit with their all-white house.

    A lot has understandably been redone since we moved out in like twenty-five years ago, and I'm especially curious as to why they've gone with the all-white/grey-carpet look throughout the house. My initial thought is to wonder if a contractor bought the house and neutralized it for a quick sale.

    The actual listing is at this link, but I will warn you that there's a dog buried in the backyard.

    April 3, 2013

    See, the battery...

    In his article Green Cars Have a Dirty Little Secret, Bjorn Lomberg writes the following...
    For proponents such as the actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio, the main argument is that their electric cars [...] don't contribute to global warming. And, sure, electric cars don't emit carbon-dioxide on the road. But the energy used for their manufacture and continual battery charges certainly does—far more than most people realize.

    The mining of lithium, for instance, is a less than green activity. By contrast, the manufacture of a gas-powered car accounts for 17% of its lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions. When an electric car rolls off the production line, it has already been responsible for 30,000 pounds of carbon-dioxide emission. The amount for making a conventional car: 14,000 pounds.

    While electric-car owners may cruise around feeling virtuous, they still recharge using electricity overwhelmingly produced with fossil fuels. Thus, the life-cycle analysis shows that for every mile driven, the average electric car indirectly emits about six ounces of carbon-dioxide. This is still a lot better than a similar-size conventional car, which emits about 12 ounces per mile. But remember, the production of the electric car has already resulted in sizeable emissions—the equivalent of 80,000 miles of travel in the vehicle.

    So unless the electric car is driven a lot, it will never get ahead environmentally
    Reducing our energy usage is problematic because many of the ways that we reduce that energy usage - solar cells, windmills, mag-lev trains, dams - use the energy on the front end to produce it.

    I'm coming to think that the only way we can eliminate our damage to the planet is to stop existing.

    April 2, 2013

    The joke is so obvious he already made it himself

    ...but I like steak...

    I can't imagine eating this concoction of balanced nutritional...um...nutritional slime.

    Upon further clicking, though, I can see that it appears the inventor of - I swear he's calling it this - Soylent actually has done some research into the nutritional needs of himself.

    The original post - titled "How I Stopped Eating Food" - goes through the reasoning for the 'scientist' attempting the experiment upon himself. Seriously, he's experimenting on himself and eating nothing but largely colorless, tasteless, nutritional slime for thirty days. In a second post the 'scientist' goes through the exact nutritional contents of the Soylent and asks for some volunteers to join him in his experiments. After two months of a 92% Soylent diet, Rob gave us a second check-in and seems pretty happy.

    Anybody interested in shifting to an all-gruel diet?

    April 1, 2013

    Funny AT&T commercials

    I appreciate that AT&T set up these two great commercials with a pretty solid ad campaign and then perfect timing during the NCAA tourney.

    The hug is marvelous...

    A brief media foray

    I've been reading a lot of comics lately, but most of them haven't been worth the paper they're printed on. I'll skip those and just go to the good ones...

    Ultimate Comics Spider-Man - vol 3 - Bendis continues to knock this series out of the park with this third collection.

    Mile Morales, who took over the mantle of Spider-Man after the death of Peter Parker, grows further into the role of hero here as he stands up to his uncle, the Prowler; meets with and gets approval (and some key technology) from Gwen Stacey, Aunt May, and even Mary Jane; heads straight to Captain America asking to join the Ultimates; and eventually becomes a national hero for saving the president's life.

    I'll admit that I don't have a clue what the heck is up with the cross-over that drives the late action in this volume - something about the United States being at war (here and here) - but it gives Spider-Man a chance to raise his profile and move toward becoming the center of the Ultimate universe, something that a proper Spider-Man should be.

    And this one is nothing if not a proper Spider-Man. Get on board and start reading this one, folks.

    Fables - vol 18 - Cubs in Toyland - It's rare that a comic book brings me to tears, but this is one of them.

    The prophecy about Snow and Bigby's Cubs...
    • The first child will be a king. (Winter)
    • The second child a pauper.
    • The third will do an evil thing. (Therese)
    • The fourth will die to stop her. (Darien)
    • The fifth will be a hero bold.
    • The sixth will judge the rest.
    • The seventh lives to ages old, and is by heaven blessed
    ...is coming true and is the exclusive focus of this volume an Therese and Darian's fate comes to pass...tragically for each.

    In the entire volume, no more than a few pages are spent in the Mundy/Fable world dealing with the fallout from the confrontation with Mr Dark and the Fables' move into his castle - populated by the vindictive and plotting Nurse Sprat and her new beau. The entirety of the volume tells the tale of how Darian and Therese come to their fates on the distant shores of Discardia.

    This one's probably not one to jump into if you've not been reading all along, but it's a marvelous story that is worth reading all the volumes to get to.

    Deadpool kills the Marvel Universe - Right there on the cover it says, plain as day, "Not For Kids!".

    It's definitely not for kids as Deadpool butchers, tortures, slaughters, and brutalizes just about every superhero or villain in the Marvel universe. It sounds like it would be a very one-note, repetitive story, but it turns out to actually be pretty interesting with Deadpool finding rather creative ways to destroy even the most eternal of the heroes (Hulk, Wolverine, Taskmaster).

    I was pleasantly surprised that this was a good read, but it was.

    The Beaver - I'm a fairly shallow person, and I'll have to admit it right up front that the thing that drew me to this movie was the strong graphic design of the poster there to the right, the same as the cover of the DVD.

    The back cover of the DVD had a couple of quotes about the movie being a great comedy, and that is seriously misguided. The film - in which a depressed Mel Gibson finds himself only able to communicate with the world via a beaver hand puppet - is an impressive exploration of a man on the edge of suicide who is just barely able to keep things together but only by taking an entirely left turn that initially freaks out everyone in his world but that actually turns out to be remarkably productive - particularly as the Beaver takes over as the CEO of Gibson's toy company.

    The story of Anton Yelchin as Gibson's son who is terrified that he is going to turn out like his father, and his would-be girlfriend played by Jennifer Lawrence is every bit as engaging, particularly Yelchin takes some rather dramatic steps to draw Lawrence out from her reluctance.

    The film is far from the laugh riot that the box promised, but it's a film well worth seeing.

    50-50 - This one, on the other hand, is a bit surprising in that is is far more funny than I expected as it's the story of a man - played by Joseph Gordon Levitt - who is told that he has a fifty-fifty chance of survival after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

    Admittedly, Seth Rogan is his usual crass self, something I entirely blame him for as he is one of the producers of the film, but Levitt is outstanding showing a great balance of the humor and pathos that would be alternating throughout his treatment. Plus it's got Anna Kendrick who's cute as a button. I wasn't necessarily thrilled with her subplot, but she's still cute as a button.

    Pina - It's a movie about ballet. I'm sure it's nice and all, but it's a movie showing ballet - which just bores me to tears.

    Flight - There's a bit of predictability in this one as it's the story of a man who is a recalcitrant drunk. He drinks and uses marijuana and cocaine before piloting the titular flight which crashes into a field outside Atlanta after some remarkably serious piloting from Denzel Washinton's character.

    The predictable arc is that Washington needs help but refuses help. People in his life tell him he's a drunk and that he needs help, but he refuses the help. He gets away with things...barely. He promises to get clean, but he drinks. He refuses help.

    And in the end, he comes clean and accepts the help that he's needed for years.

    Just because it's a predictable story doesn't mean it's uninteresting, though. as Washington acts the part marvelously. He deserved all his accolades.

    Wreck-It Ralph - It's cute. It's nothing spectacular or anything, but it's very cute, really, really cute.

    Superman: The Black Ring - I saw the second volume of this collection at the library, so I grabbed both volumes 'cause it's been a while since I read the first.

    Turns out that the first volume is far more interesting than the second. The creation by Lex Luthor of a robotic Lois Lane to challenge his intellectual ideas is far more interesting than the entirety of the second volume which culminates in a battle between Lex and Brainiac which mostly just involves the most boring trope of each combatant topping the other with 'but I knew you'd do that, so I had already..."

    The two volumes are Lex Luthor's tour through the villains of the DC Universe - Gorilla Grodd, Brainiac, Vandal Savage, Deathstroke, and a few more - and looking at Lex's emotional failings as the only way for Superman to defeat Lex...or for Lex to defeat himself.

    It all started out so promising...