November 29, 2014

I can't get iTunes to stop downloading NPR's All Songs Considered me...

November 27, 2014

More Lego Simpsons Updates

Last week I posted a link to leaked sculpts of some of the heads for the Lego Simpsons collectible minfig series 2. From those, the rumors point toward a Dr Hibbert and a Groundskeeper Willie as well as a Santa's Little Helper.

This week's leaks look to be getting us a Professor Frink, Snake, Smithers, Patty, and Comic Book Guy. Big excitement about Frink and CBG for me.

That brings our list to...
  • Dr Hibbert
  • Groundskeeper Willie
  • Professor Frink
  • Snake
  • Smithers
  • Patty
  • (assumedly) Selma
  • Comic Book Guy
That's eight of a likely sixteen figure set. Who else should we have?
  • Moe Syzlack - still alcohol-connected making him a tougher sell for Lego
  • Barny Grumble - same as Moe
  • Principal Skinner - I'm surprised he didn't make the first cut.
  • Edna Krabappel - her voice (Marcia Wallace) passed away last summer, so this might be a tough one
  • Troy McClure - again, with Phil Hartman passed, I doubt this one
  • Bumblebee Man - would fit nicely with the collectible series's penchant for figures in animal costumes
  • Lenny - only if we get Carl, too
  • Carl - only if we get Lenny, too
  • Fat Tony - little too violent, perhaps
  • Reverend Lovejoy - I like this as a possibility.
  • Hans Moleman - how can he die in Lego?
  • Mayor Quimby - he might require a pudge
  • Dr Nick Rivera - always hilarious
  • Sideshow Bob - over Sideshow Mel

November 26, 2014

A whole lot of comics and one crappy Lego book

Really good things I've read lately
  • Flash: Rogues Revolution (vol 2) and Gorilla Warfare (vol 3) (new 52) - The relaunch of Flash is working really well. I dig the artwork; I dig the change of romantic interest from Iris Allen to Patty Spivot, a crime scene investigator and Barry Allen's professional equal. I dig the redesign of the Glider from stupid, golden skater to mostly intangible astral projection. I dig the idea of Speed Force as being a weird dimension.

    I really, really dig the artwork.

    Sadly I couldn't read the first volume as the library copy I checked out had a bunch of pages ripped out. Stupid teenagers

Good things I've read lately
  • Action Comics: Superman and the Men of Steel (vol 1), Bulletproof (vol 2), and At the End of Days (vol 3) (new 52) - I haven't been a huge fan of Grant Morrison's writing, finding Batman (Black Glove, et al) and Final Crisis needlessly complicated, hard to follow, and difficult to understand. There are time-jumps a plenty, multidimensional villains, and attacks that aren't even remotely what they appear to be. These stories work only on the very, very long term, rewarding readers for paying attention to and remembering story breadcrumbs laid down years previously.

    Here, it actually kind of works. Admittedly, though, the three-volume storyline is far greater than the individual issue parts are on their own. In fact, at times, the individual issues were somewhat confusing, jumping from past to future, new 52 universe to an Earth-23's President Black Superman. In the end, though, Morrison actually brings things together to a satisfying wrap-up.
  • Invincible Ultimate Collection Volume 9 -  Admittedly, there's a bit of save-the-world fatigue at this point in Invincible because the world has been nearly destroyed dozens and dozens of times, the Viltrumites have fought again and again, and Mark has been left for dead dozens of times.

    But it just keeps working.

    Every time I think the series's gone too far, I keep wanting to read more. The cliffhanger at the end of this volume - with Mark trapped in another dimension - has me biting my nails again. Nice job, Kirkman.
  • Fairest: Of Men and Mice - Cinderella takes the series for a run here with something that certainly would have fit in tidely in the main series. In fact, much of the storyline ties in neatly to the building tension of the main series's impending wrap-up as we find in the end that a plot set into running by Brandish (now trying to redeem himself in Rose Red's army of hope) is nearly seen to fruition by an Leigh who ends this volume practically laughing maniacally and rubbing her hands together.

    The actual plot sees Cindy quelling an assassination attempt against her and Snow White, attempts involving hundreds of rat-human hybrids of varying levels of ratness and humanness (yes, humanness, shut up). The plotline wraps up neatly enough and isn't much more than an unnecessary sideline from the main series's continuing march toward the inevitable. Let's get back to the main tale, shall we?
  • X-Men Legacy (vol 1-4) - This exploration of Legion (Prof X's son) mental illness and attempts to right his world and control his powers is surprisingly interesting. Definitely worth a try.

Passable things I've read lately
  • How to Fake a Moon Landing -  I really wanted to like this one. It's a graphic novel/comic book/picture story that points out that science disbelievers are misguided. The book tackles moon landing disbelievers, autism-vaccine linkers, homeopath purveyors, and all sorts of other mistaken folks.

    I wanted to like it, but I just didn't. It's too one-note, too pedantic, lacking any subtlety whatsoever. Maybe younger readers might be more willing to read through this lack of subtlety, but I only made it through about half the book before I sent it back to PLCH.
  • Batgirl: Knightfall Descends (vol 2) and Death of the Family (vol 3) (new 52) - First off, I was embarrassed to even pick up vol Knightfall Descends because of the horrible cover. Apparently the artist was trying to come up with a horrifically sexist cover showing off Batgirl's apparently massive quads and a spandex-covered view of the holiest of holies. I couldn't carry the comic around without covering it up with another book. Good lord, folks. (Check out the image to the right to make it larger)

    The continued exploration of the after effects of Barbara Gordon's shooting and temporary paralysis at the hands of the Joker (in the still kind of in-continuity Killing Joke) is an interesting and likely necessary choice if they're going to keep Barbara Gordon's past in continuity. The girl Talon, continuing the Court of Owls crossover is happily passed by quickly. The weird, girl version of Jean-Paul Valley/Azrael named Knightfall here (referencing the broken-back storyline from the old 52) comes next...meh. The best part of the Batgirl series so far has been the search of Batgirl to find independence, finding her own apartment, making a new friend with her roommate. The villains here are forgettable.

    Then comes the crapfest that is Death of the Family. CRAPfest...the face ripped off and stapled back on Joker is a whole bunch of horrible ideas, as is the 'Joker wants to marry Batgirl'. Even worse is the introduction of Barbara's brother James, Jr as a horribly psychotic, disastrous badguy who knows Barbara is Batgirl. Bad, bad, bad idea and execution.
  • Superman: Fury at World's End (new 52) - Meh...Superman and Wonder Woman hide their relationship from fellow heroes...the biggest threat (another Kryptonian but with super science ability and superpowers that Superman and Supergirl don't have) ever to Earth to the whole solar system EVER...zzzzz

    Yes, the sight of Clark Kent talking to Lois Lane while thinking about Wonder Woman followed immediately with Supergirl barging into Clark's apartment - which Lois dismisses as Clark doing 'blog interviews with comely cosplayers.'

    And the entertaining prison traps built around Lex Luthor - traps which only Superman can break through when he needs to talk to Luthor - are pretty fun.

    But the actual plotline isn't very interesting.

Awful things I've read lately
  • Brick Flicks -  Good lord is this stupid. It's a collection of film photos or posters recreated in the medium of Lego. There is almost no Lego-related information - no discussion of the Lego techniques involved, a very few wordless photography building instructions (which alternate between ridiculously, pointlessly simplistic and ridiculously hard to follow due to the gigantic jumps made between steps), just a few paragraphs of tepid movie summaries with a cute closing sentence.

November 25, 2014

Subversive public artwork

I appreciate Miguel Marquez's Outside project.

I find inside less interesting (except for the bird thing...that's intriguing)...

November 24, 2014

Posters for movies that never existed

It's a bit of an odd thing: to make posters for movie sequels that never existed.

But it worked pretty well.

I particularly like...

November 22, 2014

We are not a codfish...

November 21, 2014

Four...four...four years old

Was there anything good on the radio in 1979?

Apparently yes.

November 20, 2014

November 18, 2014

Football as art

I'm digging ESPN's ongoing illustrations of the big college football storylines from the weekend.

Actually, I should say I've been digging Chris Morris's illustrations of the same...

More Lego updates

I turned one.

Day 2, 1976...more music. Anybody wanna guess on tomorrow's theme?

November 17, 2014

Kobe Bryant, all about the volume...

This bit of statistical trivia came across ESPN's website this morning...
  • Kobe Bryant had the 121st 40-point game of his career Sunday, but did so shooting 15-of-34 from the field. According to the Elias Sports Bureau research, only Wilt Chamberlain (72) has more games with 40 points when shooting less than 50 percent than Bryant's 51. No other NBA player in NBA history has more than 29 such games. 
It's early, and thinking about statistical projections when you're ten games into an eighty-two game season is foolish, but...from ESPN's NBA stats pages
  • Kobe is currently second in the league, averaging 27.3 points per game (half a point behind LeBron). 
  • Kobe is leading the league in field goals attempted by a pretty big margin (244 for Kobe in 10 games, 218 for Carmelo in 11 games, nobody else above 190).
  • Kobe has the 119th best shooting percentage (37.7%) of all players who qualify for the leader boards...just behind Kevin Love (#118) and James Harden (#117).
  • In points per shot, Kobe does come in a little better at #106 in the NBA with 1.12 points per shot.
Long term, this is clearly an aberration in  Kobe's shooting percentage for his career as he's shot 45.3% for his career and hasn't ever before shot lower than the 41.7% of his rookie season. Of course, this year's field goal attempts (24.4 per game) would be his second highest of his career after his 2005-06 season when he averaged 27.2 shots per game but scored 35.2 points per game on 45.0% shooting.

I mention all of this because a student of mine this past week mentioned that Kobe had set the record for most field goals missed in an NBA career at 13471 (and counting very quickly). The student then explained that there must be a correlation between shots missed, shots taken, and talent. Clearly, he said, anybody who's allowed to shoot that much must be making lots of their shots.

That's somewhat true, but the correlation between shots taken and missed is far from 1.0 for the greatest players.

The top shooters (field goals attempted all-time - from pro-basketball reference)...
  1. Kareem - 28307
  2. Karl Malone - 26210
  3. Kobe - 24618 (would take two solid years of playing to catch Kareem)
  4. Michael Jordan - 24537
  5. Elvin Hayes - 24272
    (Kevin Garnett is the next active at #14 with 20792)
The top missers (field goals missed - also from pro-basketball reference)...
  1. Kobe - 13471
  2. John Havlicek - 13417
  3. Elvin Hayes - 13296
  4. Karl Malone - 12682
  5. Kareem - 12470
    (Vince Carter is the next active at #13 with 10667)

The top makers (field goals made - same source)...
  1. Kareem - 15837
  2. Karl Malone - 13528
  3. Wilt - 12681
  4. Michael Jordan - 12192
  5. Dr J - 11818
  6. Shaq - 11330
  7. Kobe - 11147 (would take six more years at current year's shooting percentage to get to #1)
    (Kevin Garnett is next among actives at #14 with 10341)
Top scorers (total points - from pro-basketball)
  1. Kareem - 38287
  2. Karl Malone - 36928
  3. Michael Jordan - 32292
  4. Kobe - 31973 (would take about three more years at this year's scoring average and really good health to get to #1)
  5. Wilt - 31419
    (Dirk Nowitzki is the next active player at #11 with 26989)
The crack about Kobe not passing isn't entirely true. He has 5963 assists for his career, good for the #32 most of all time, averaging 3.8 assists per game (down from his career average of 4.8 per game).

McDonald's doesn't make the best burgers in the land, but they sell a ton of them.

Kobe Bryant is McDonald's...he's Wal-Mart...he's r-selected.

From the year of my birth

We're starting today with music from the year of my birth. Enjoy these songs from 1975.

November 15, 2014

I think your ivory is illegal. No, no, no. Mine is antique.

November 13, 2014

More photos of Minifigure series #13

More confirmation continues to appear about the list of collectible minifigures series #13.

This bit of info is thanks to HothBricks and gets some low-res images of the figures on a couple of display boxes in a style that I've never seen in stores around here.

After some zooming in, thoughts...
  • Alien trooper - looks a lot like Cthulhu (on the top left, side)
  • Egyptian warrior - meh...(on the top right, side)
  • Unicorn girl - another awesome addition to the figures in animal costumes line...(on the middle, side)
  • Disco diva - pretty cool (on the bottom, side)
  • Snake charmer - curious to see what the snake looks like (bottom, left side)
  • King - I dig the torso and the cape (bottom, front)
  • Paleontologist - meh (bottom, front)
  • Sheriff - love the mustache, love the wanted poster (bottom, front)
  • Female cyclops - another opposite-sex pairing from the figure series (bottom front)
No images yet of galaxy trooper, evil wizard, goblin (curious there), hot dog guy, carpenter, samauri, and fencer.

November 12, 2014

That's two dozen

"Ya got ten...then ya got ten more...then it's like, what's this, four more?...twenty-four, faggetaboutit..."

This could revolutionize math as we know it.

November 11, 2014

The hometown's pride on Veterans Day

Thanks to Eerie Indiana for posting images (and to Bing for providing the aerial image) of the New Albany National Cemetery.

The eleventh day of the eleventh month...

Thanks to TedF for posting these images of the New Albany National Cemetery a few years back.

The cemetery was a place that was across the street from my elementary school, down the street from paternal Grandma & Grandpa's house, and less than a block from my junior high school. It's a place that means a great deal for me and where my maternal grandparents were laid to rest.

Veterans Day Memories

Veterans Day Memories

Reposting from 2006

The picture shows a Cub Scout placing flags at the gravestones in the New Albany National Cemetery, my home town. It's one of one-hundred twenty-three national cemeteries, but it's the one that's clearly closest to my heart.

It was across the street from my elementary school, diagonal from my junior high, and probably three blocks from my high school. I spent many a time walking along the walls of the cemetery or walking beside them instead of on the walls when, for a time, I would choose to express deference toward those fallen and intered there. I never remember playing through the cemetery as I remember some friends doing, and the rare cuts through the cemetery were always oddly solomn for me, even though it wasn't anything resembling a spooky cemetery. There were nice, huge, old trees here and there, but the world was just outside the low walls, and nothing every was scary there to me.

And in 1991 my grandfather, a veteran of two American wars, was intered there. It is ther first funeral that I'd been through, and it just might still be the only one I've been through. He lived to a ripe of age - seventy-two - and certainly didn't die as any result of his service time, but it was comforting for the few years after that when I still lived in New Albany to know that I could stop by and see his gravesite at any time, nestled there among the rows and rows of identical headstones marking the graves of so many veterans and their families.

Today is Veterans Day, a time to remember how much has been given to us for what our country is today. No matter your feelings for the policies of the current administration - and mine are often negative - no matter whether you believe in the conflicts into which our current military men and women are being sent, remember to honor them for their sacrifice. Without those sacrifices, our country would not be what it is today.

Take a minute to thank a veteran today. Visit him or her. Stop by a memorial - the Chris Dyer memorial. Or simply pause your assuredly hectic life for a moment and thank them silently.

To know more about the New Albany National Cemetery, see any of these links:
Thanks, Grandpa...
Thanks, Chris...
Thanks each of you...

Pride in the hometown

Thanks to Robert 'Bobby' Powell for posting this image of the New Albany National Cemetery.

November 10, 2014

Tweedy on Austin City Limits

Check out the full episode of Austin City Limits featuring Jeff Tweedy, his son, and a few friends.

Feathers in a vacuum

This experiment proves absolutely nothing whatsoever that hasn't been proven a whole bunch of times before.

It uses a huge amount of resources to do that, taking four hours of pumping to evacuate a giant room of all its air so that a British guy could drop a few feathers and a bowling ball at exactly the same time.

But all of that doesn't matter in the least because this is just do frickin' cool...


November 8, 2014

My melon soul Crushed by your Gallagher of apathy...

November 7, 2014

So many choices

Every day at school, I draw an event that happened on that day. They might be historically significant, scientifically important, curious, or just easy to draw.

Today presents so many interesting choices...
I went with the Tacoma Narrows Bridge because it's easy to draw and scientifically interesting.

November 6, 2014

More Lego Collectible Minifigs

We're just barely a month since the release of Lego's Collectible Minifigures series #12, and we're getting our first leaked images and list for series #13, to be released on January 1 of 2015.

LEGO Minifigures, a tumblr, has a leaked list of the figures...and TheBrickFan has a couple of leaked images...
  • Galaxy Trooper
  • Alien Trooper
  • Evil Wizard
  • King
  • Goblin
  • Lady Cyclops
  • Snake Charmer
  • Palaeontologist
  • Carpenter
  • Hot Dog Guy
  • Sheriff
  • Samurai
  • Disco Diva
  • Unicorn Girl
  • Fencer
  • Egyptian Warrior
In the long run, the list is largely whatever. I'll be lining up to go a perfect sixteen-for-sixteen again.

Calen, are you in?

November 5, 2014

Mathmatical oddities...

This one comes to us from Futility Closet...
Discovered by R.V. Heath in 1950:

Think of two positive integers.
Add them to get a third number.
Add the second number and the third number to get a fourth number.
Continue in this way until you have 10 numbers.
The sum of the 10 numbers is 11 times the seventh number.
That didn't make sense to me, so I set up a little spreadsheet to check it, and I included x's and y's to see if it works.

To check it out, click the link above and enter any two integers in the yellow boxes of the top left. The totals show up in the green to the far right.

I'll tell you in advance that it works.

November 4, 2014

The latest in the media in my brain

Things I've read (mostly comic books) of late...

Really Good stuff...
  • Afterlife with Archie: escape from Riverdale - I was shocked that this was actually really good. There's an impressive depth of characterization in the Archie gang's backstory here, setting up a number of impressively emotional moments as Riverdale is overrun by zombies created through an unfortunate Pet Sematary-style screw-up between Jughead and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. There could be a stronger ending, but they're aiming for an ongoing series here not for a neat, tidy wrap-up. Very much worth a read, good stuff.
  • Fables: Camelot (vol 20) - We're headed toward the end, and I'm desperately sad about it. There are only two collections remaining after this one in the spectacular Fables series, and this one sets all the pieces into place for the climax. Rose Red and Snow, the two sisters who have been main characters issue one, are now pointed at odds with each other. Bigby is gone but working his way back. Even Gepetto is plotting to regain some of his old power. The new North Wind is marshaling her power for a pending battle between her mother and aunt. And the boys in the band return to the homelands with an idea, maybe the last idea of the series. This is going to be tough, but I'm happy I've been here the whole time.
  • Young Avengers vol 1-3 - The entire series only lasted fifteen issues, so it wasn't that tough to read it in its entirety here in these three volumes. Nicely, these fifteen issues tell one coherent story, that of a teen superteam brought together to fight the interdimensional terror that they have accidentally summoned. It's a good reading of a pretty standard teen-team set of tropes (adults don't understand them; they're younger versions of adult heroes trying to live up to and throw off their legacies; they fall in and out of love with each other; they bring in other outcasts). Luckily it all works. Give this one a read - especially all the way to the series finale which is excellent but depends on knowing what's come before.

Decent stuff...
  • Uncanny X-Men, vol 1 -  I like the idea of bringing back the Celestials as a plot point. I like the use of Sinister trying to take control of Celestial. It's a natural overreach from a most egotistical villain. What I didn't care for was the ending that consisted of Cyclops talking a lot to beings far more powerful than he...than all of the X-Men combined. Even the two single-issue stories worked well. Worth a check out but not perfect.
  • Batman Beyond: Batgirl Beyond - Sadly, the titular Batgirl Beyond isn't a multi-issue arc. It's just one issue, but it's a pretty good are the rest of the issues here. See, Bruce Wayne is bringing some friends back into the Bat Family. Terry's girlfriend comes into the fold. Batgirl comes into the fold. The Metal Men come into the fold. Dick Grayson might be coming back into the fold. This one's owrth a read.
  • Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell - Nothing special here. The story's kind of entertaining (particularly the small moments of Zatanna bringing toy JLAers to life and the fight with the Key on the old JLA satellite.) The artwork, however, was poor. On balance, meh...
Bad stuff...
  • Spider-Man: Torment - Yay, Todd McFarlane! Draw a million extra lines to make things seem serious and dark and unpleasant. See, Spider-Man's lighthearted. He jokes. He laughs. He quips. But here he doesn't do any of those things. He just suffers and broods. Dumb.
  • Batman The Dark Knight: Knight Terrors - It's a poor rehash of the Arkham breakout from Knightsend. Apparently Bane's in charge of the whole thing...maybe...or maybe the White Rabbit (a new porn star Bat-villain) is in charge or maybe nobody is. Avoid this one.
  • Superman: What Price Tomorrow - This one introduces new villains for Superman (dumb ones), concocts a conspiracy to defeat Superman (it doesn't, of course), sells of the Daily Planet to a faceless, evil corporation (without any justification of the evilness other than that it's a corporation). Bad stuff...avoid this, too...
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Avengers -  Ah, corporate synergy. The movie Guardians of the Galaxy team wasn't ever together in total in the comic books. They were gathered from various incarnations of the team over the past few decades. Here, however, Marvel puts together the team from the movie, and it doesn't work. Avoid this one, as well.
  • Earth 2: The Gathering - Look, it's dumb reimaginings of dumb reimaginings of the superheroes you care about. See, it's not the New 52 Superman (a lesser version of the Superman you care about), it's an alternate version of the New 52 Superman...and Batman...and Wonder Woman...and The Flash...and Hawkgirl...and Green Lantern (he's gay, but they kill his partner after one page)...and Solomon Grundy. It's like the plague.

November 3, 2014

Update: A gag that never gets old

One more for the pile...sadly, the print is sold out...

And, from Super Punch...

"All day this couple ran up to different Batmans, yelled 'son!' and then dropped to the floor."

November 1, 2014

So crazy, someone may get injured...