Thursday, January 31, 2008

Oh, So You're Back Now?

After eight long months, tonight heralds the first new episode of “Lost” to hit TV.

As last season ended on a strong note, I’ll be checking it out to see what happens.

Although doing so will be somewhat masochistic as, due to the current WGA strike, any new story arcs established tonight may not be tied up for another eight months (or longer).


PS: Well, tonight’s “Lost” premiere did not disappoint, making ample use of Hurley’s flash-forwards which—among other things—had him involved in a car chase, and a trip back to Crazy Town. Then back on the island, Hugo encountered Jacob’s House of Ultimate Mystery before leaving with half the Losties led by Locke, who insists the rescue party off-shore has no intention of rescuing anyone.

The night’s biggest highlight for me, though? Seeing Rousseau cold-cock a tied-up Ben for calling Alex his daughter.

Finally, during one commercial break tonight I was intrigued to see a preview for Oprah Winfrey’s attempt at a reality game show called “Oprah’s Big Give” (because, y’know, she can hardly be involved with any project without her name branded in the title) – involving a group of folks who are given a stack of cash, and must donate it to various groups.

The hook?

The most charitable person in Oprah’s eyes gets a surprise award of one million dollars.

Wait a second. Haven’t I seen this plot someplace before?

Oh, yeah. It was a Richard Pryor movie called “Brewster’s Millions.”

On The Political Soapbox

Now that the party nominations for both Democrats and Republicans have finally boiled down to two viable candidates each, I have to say I’m fairly pleased with the outcomes.

While I consider myself an independent (and am a current Obama-backer), even if GOP Senator John McCain were elected president in November I wouldn’t be entirely upset – although in retrospect, I wish to God he would have been elected in 2000. The country would almost certainly be 1000% better off than it is now.

True, I’m not a fan of all McCain’s politics (i.e. abortion, Iraq policy), and have serious reservations about his advanced age (McCain would be 78 at the end of his first term), the fact that John McCain drives the neo-con media types (e.g. Limbaugh, Coulter, et al.) who twice helped put George W. Bush into office into an ideological rage could not please me more – as would seeing Obama or Hillary Clinton winning the election for the Dems.

Either way, American neo-cons would be confounded, and for that I couldn’t be happier.

Yesterday I read that John McCain’s camp has sent feelers out to Rush Limbaugh (a longtime McCain critic who until recently pushed for Fred “I’m Tired” Thompson) as a gesture to unify the GOP ticket for 2008.

Frankly, I have no idea why McCain would bother.

While he has as much right to his political opinion as any American, Limbaugh is a bloated mass of irrelevancy whose media existence relies solely on the masturbatory attention his ditto-heads provide his self-image.

But either way, be it Clinton, McCain, or Obama in the White House come January 2009, only two fundamental truths will matter to me: a) George W. Bush will be toddling back to Crawford for good, and; b) millions of neo-cons will be weeping in their beers.

It's Hannakah at The Baxter Building

Not that you asked, but found this link today which lists the religious affiliation of superheroes from the Marvel, DC, and myriad other comic book universes.

How the compilers of this list got this info, however, is anyone’s guess.

For example, who’d a thunk that environmentalism and communism were religions (don't forget Darwinism too), much less that The Thing was Jewish?

I wonder what the Torah says in regards to Clobberin' Time?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

My Blue Cherry

Spent the evening in Chicago seeing Blue Man for the very first time, which made me feel like the last person on Earth who hasn’t already seen the show in its 11-year run at the Briar Street Theatre.

Better late than never, I guess.

Speaking of late, just before the show, a girl seated in the second row and I were asked by show staffers to participate in a regular gag where we pose as late comers to the performance, and are heralded by alarm bells and a spotlight pointing us out to the rest of the audience as the Blue Guys glared at us.

That was pretty fun; got me a free BMG fridge magnet, to boot.

But to sum up, BMG is an artistic slamdance dedicated all things creative – which to me, personifies the highest ethic one can aspire to.

By the way, Annette Strean in the above video? Extremely cute be it in or out of catseye specs, but preferably in.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Review: "Rambo"

Yesterday, while wondering if I was in the mood to see a weekend movie with either heavy drama (“There Will Be Blood”) or quality carnage (“Rambo”), I decided to go with the former.

Not a good choice, on my part.

While “Blood” features a great lead performance by Daniel Day-Lewis, the film is yet another indication that writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson has not made an all-around solid product since 1997’s “Boogie Nights.”

Meanwhile, “Rambo’s” premise and execution (no pun intended) could not be simpler or more efficient, which ironically made seeing the flick a greater experience than the infinitely heavier “There Will Be Blood.”

As the fourth flick in the John Rambo saga, beginning way back with 1982’s “First Blood,” “Rambo” has our troubled hero (Sly Stallone, who also directs and co-writes) living quietly as a river guide in rural Thailand, until a group of Christian aid workers show up asking Rambo to guide them upriver to war-torn Burma to deliver medical supplies to a village.

At first, Rambo refuses the group’s offer, but is finally persuaded by their co-leader Sarah (Julie Benz) to take them into Burma at no cost. At first, the trip is quiet enough, until Rambo’s boat is attacked by a gang of river pirates, who demand Sarah be turned over to them as a sexual rag doll.

Well, suffice to say, the results of that exchange quickly ends with several dead pirates, and Rambo holding a smoking gun.

It’s good to see the man hasn’t lost his touch.

After dropping Sarah’s party in Burma, Rambo returns to Thailand where, sure enough, he learns the missionaries have been taken by Burmese military thugs, and is again asked to lead a group—this time, armed mercenaries—upriver for a rescue mission.

At first, Rambo keeps his mouth shut, and avoids any further bloodshed – but of course, we know that won’t last, and he is soon drawn into combat once again.

As a filmmaker, Stallone infuses real emotional power into “Rambo” by beginning his film with stark news footage of the real Burmese Civil War, and its atrocities versus civilians – a theme inlaid throughout “Rambo” as Burmese soldiers kidnap boys to serve as new infantrymen, while raping and murdering anything they please.

Unfortunately, most this content is not fictional.

Burmese soldiers are depicted in “Rambo” as sadistic, sub-human monsters, and judging by recent news reports out of the military-run country, there is no reason to believe that Stallone is fudging the facts for sake of heightened drama.

In this case, he simply needn’t do so.

But despite us, as Stallone’s audience, later taking satisfaction in watching these Burmese soldiers eviscerated by Rambo and his mercenary pals--with more airborne body parts per shot than in “Saving Private Ryan”—this outcome is, unlike the on-going atrocities committed in Burma itself, mere Hollywood fiction.

Under this point of view, "Rambo" is indeed tragic – albeit in a bizarre, blood-soaked way.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What Is The Sound Of One Hand Typing?

That would be the viscous sound of millions of horny fanboys delivering a tactile salute to the arrival of “Power Girl - The DC Direct Anime Version”

Actually, some of these figures are well-done – namely, Batgirl.

"Yes, mom! I know dinner’s ready! What? Why is my door locked? Um, I’m watching TV!
The “Werewolf” marathon on
Chiller is up. Go away!"

Coming Back To The Door

Recently, forgive me – I can’t recall the exact source—I read how someone described creative inspiration as an impatient child who comes knocking at a door in your mind. But a problem is if—as a writer—that kid will hang around for only so long, and if ignored will simply leave.

That’s my problem right now.

I have three quality story concepts for graphic novels at a door in my head now, and they are waiting for me to answer. The only problem is my motivation level for writing anything more complicated than a blog entry right now is very low, which frankly, is a selfish excuse.

If stories are a writer’s offspring, then mine must be ready to drop a dime to DCFS on me, because they are huddled in a corner snarfing Cheerios and soaked in their own urine waiting for me to tend to them.

It’s time to get started. The only problem is that I’m not sure how to spark the process again.

Skunked Again

Stopped by my local chain bookstore last night to cruise the Manga section, and found myself looking for a title mentioned in “Juno” featuring a pregnant schoolgirl brandishing a mean katana.

The only problem was that I could not recall the book’s title, and the bookstore lacked an Internet connection that would have enabled me to look it up.

Well, after some home research, I learned the book in question (“Most Fruitful Yuki”) is an invention of “Juno” screenwriter (and Oscar nominee) Diablo Cody and complete fiction.

Too bad. “Yuki” is a great concept. Maybe someone out there will actually create a book around the character.

But until then, I did locate the following semi-disturbing short pitting Yuki versus a certain Sith Lord/Shadowy Vice-President.

PS: I’ve noticed Diablo Cody receiving quite a lot of attention lately, which is refreshing considering that most Hollywood screenwriters (or writers in general) receive about as many media kudos as your average second unit key grip.

Good for her.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Sad Loss

CNN and several other media outlets are reporting that actor Heath Ledger has died in New York of an apparent drug overdose.

Ledger was 28, and a father of two year-old daughter.

Like so many others, I’m waiting excitedly to see Heath’s performance as The Joker in “The Dark Knight” due for July 2008 release. Yet knowing it was his final role will make watching the film nothing less than painful – painful in wondering what else Ledger might have accomplished as an actor in his young career.

Whether the overdose is accidental or not, it's an incredible waste of talent and life.

PS: Always a master of good taste, Fred Phelps and his clan of the Westboro Baptist Church (AKA: The Most Hated Family In America) have announced their glorious intent to protest Heath Ledger’s funeral for his work on the film “Brokeback Mountain” – which should be a kick as (I imagine) Heath will be laid to rest in his native Australia, and none of the Phelps' are intelligent enough to understand the concept of mechanical flight.

So I guess they can take a slow boat down under with the rest of the sheep and cattle.

Monday, January 21, 2008

All Humor Aside, Sincerely

As regular readers of this blog are no doubt aware, 99% of the posts I make are either: a) a gag, or; b) a political slap at samples of conservative religion or politics.

With the exception of a post I wrote last fall marking my father’s passing, this following is likely the most grim thing I have ever written about here – but is still a remarkable (and macabre) sliver of American cultural history.

Several years ago, my mother (who made her living as a photographer before retirement) was asked by a family friend to photograph the body of their one-day old daughter, who tragically died shortly after birth of a congenital illness. When my mom told me about the request, I was horrified.

“Are you going to do it?” I asked.

She said yes.

“Why would someone want such a thing?” I said.

My mother answered that the family wanted a keepsake of their late child to hold onto, that even a photo so painful would be more desirable than a fleeting memory.

Apparently, this type of death photography (called “memento mori”) was not uncommon in the 19th century, as families would arrange for still photos to be taken of deceased loved ones (including pets) of all ages – with the departed often posed beside living family members, as if the memorialized subject were just sleeping.

Tonight, while looking around the net for something completely different, I found a hyperlink on Science Blogs titled “Victorian Post-Mortem Photography,” and clicked on it almost immediately.

The content is indeed disturbing (click here and here for the photo links), but as a history buff, I try to expose myself to all facets of the past – no matter how sad or disturbing – and try to understand what motivated the people who requested these photos.

Time For Grace

Biblical Brawls

The eternal question has troubled theologians and philosophers alike for centuries: who would win in an all-out smackdown between Jesus Christ and Victor Von Doom?

On its face, this fight would seem like Doom’s all the way when one considers his history of slapping down Thunder Gods and Heralds of Galactus alike. However, Doom also has an equally troubling, some might say Ernst Blofeld-like way of gloating over fallen foes – just long enough for them to regroup and knock Victor on his pompous ass.

Not a good track record.

On Jesus’ side, well, He is the King of Kings, with a few minor powers (e.g. healing, water-walking, transmutation of foods) that do not bode well in any street brawl with Doom. Yet Jesus does hold the ultimate ace-in-the-hole via his famous dad, perhaps via a surprise smiting/folded steel chair to Doom’s back straight out of the Old Testament.

Therefore, a Jesus/Doom fight would seemingly be much more engaging than first thought.

Let’s see what the Vegas oddsmakers say…

(I’m the phone now, calling – wait a second)

Okay, despite his arrogance, Doom gets an initial 3-1 advantage over Jesus who Vegas feels would be clocked just too fast by Doom’s superior tech (especially if he's packing a stolen Mjolnir) to get off an emergency prayer to bail Himself out of trouble. So Jesus falls quickly, but He is immortal – so that sets Doom back a tick as his opponent can regenerate in a heartbeat.

Thus, after many similar outcomes leaving the Lord fresh as a daisy, an exasperated Doom retreats to his castle keep, leaving Jesus victorious and soon working on a brand-new sermon adapting His fight with Doom into a parable on the power of love.

Don't get too cocky, however, Prince of Peace – Doom will be plotting his revenge on you soon enough.

Just ask Reed Richards (no doubt an atheist) for some insight on that over a chicory coffee.

Jesus is one story. However, in battling any other noted Biblical figure
(Samson, Goliath, Tyrannosaurus Rex, et al.), Doom scores a KO in mere seconds.

The Unholiest Salad Bar

Click on the above images to embiggen.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Turn Or Burn

I think it’s interesting how in the fundamentalist branch of the evangelical Christian church that passive-aggressive attitudes seem so common.

Take, for example, the following comments from an article by Christian media critic Ted Baehr:

At the Inaugural Summit on Peace and Tolerance in Warsaw, Poland, the late Mrs. [Benezir] Bhutto, Dr. Ted Baehr, world renowned Christian theologian and cultural leader, and leading Muslims, Christians and Jews debated the conference theme of how to promote peace, the importance of interfaith relations, and building tolerance between Christians, Jews and Muslims. Dr. Baehr told the Inaugural Summit on Peace and Tolerance, a conference of international Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and political leaders, that the love of God manifest in Jesus Christ is the answer, not tolerance.

Mrs. Bhutto was a gracious, intelligent, friendly person who told the conference that her father taught her that Islam was a religion of peace. Dr. Ted Baehr told her and the delegates that Jesus Christ is the only answer.

"Tolerance is wrong," Dr. Baehr said. "I don't tolerate my kids staying up late. I don't tolerate my kids talking back. Man is always trying to establish a new global order. There is a global order, but the global order of Jesus Christ is the only true global order because it's based on love and truth, not tolerance.

"The Bible says you have to be loving if you're from God. If you're not loving, you're not from God. But, God's love does not tolerate evil or falsehood."

Mrs. Bhutto was committed to reforming Islam. We pray that she found the Truth who is Jesus Christ before she was assassinated by the people of the Muslim jihad.

Translation: Mrs. Bhutto was a nice lady, but unless she abandoned Islam and embraced Jesus prior to her assassination, the poor, ignorant lamb is surely burning in hell along with Mahatma Gandhi and all the Orthodox Jews who died in the Holocaust.


I actually saw Ted Baehr speak at a local church in 2001, and he seemed nice enough during post-lecture comments. But Ted is also a classic passive-aggressive Christian--a sort of iron-fisted Ned Flanders--who sees the world strictly as black and white, and God as a manic avenger.

Fair enough. I honestly don't care.

What does irk me, however, is Ted explicitly using an event based on social understanding between all faiths to piously brow-beat all non-Christians in attendance (I wonder how Ted would have responded to, say, a Muslim cleric delivering the same message). Frankly, such behavior is beyond the pale, as is Ted addressing Bhutto's murder to hawk his beliefs in the same arch-superior tone.

In my opinion, Ted Baehr--and Christians like him who solely express their beliefs in authoritarian, My-God-Can-Beat-Up-Your-God schoolyard-style rhetoric--truly represents the worst the faith has to offer.

"Before God we are equally wise, and equally foolish" -- Albert Einstein

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Profiles in Gutlessness, Part III

In going back over Nathanael Blake’s comments over the April 2007 VT shootings as referenced below, I found a couple of things: a) “And Yet I am Unmoved” -- a follow-up article to Blake’s column “Where Were The Men?” which immediately criticized male students after the shootings for not attacking Cho as he sprayed Norris Hall with gunfire, and; b) the following reply by an author named “Spatula” who offers Blake a rebuttal that is 100 times better than any I could have provided last year.


You already are a coward. First, with your insults of the dead and the survivors, then with your intellectually dishonest self-justification.

You called the dead cowards. You called men and women who risked their lives to hold doors shut cowards.

"True, I've never had someone come into my classroom and start shooting. But I've never been married, and I'm pretty sure that doesn't disqualify me from saying that adultery and wife-beating are wrong, and criticizing those who commit adultery and beat their wives."

This is a false equivalency. There's a damn big difference between saying domestic violence is wrong and making up stuff about what you think people are capable of doing under fire based on nothing but a fanciful sense of machismo. You had little knowledge of this event and clearly did no research into the history or science of how people react to such situations and why. Yet this didn't stop you from preaching about manliness by heaping contempt on the dead.

"I am sorry if I have caused pain. I meant to have a discussion on a social and political commentary website of something I find interesting in this: why so few resisted, even after they expected to be killed. Social and political commentary sites are, by their very nature, going to discuss uncomfortable and painful issues....It wasn't I who started e-mailing social and political commentary to everyone I could find at VT."

So this is the conservative idea of responsibility - "it wasn't me." What part of the World Wide Web do you not understand? How dishonest - you know your potential audience includes Virginia Tech - that group has conservatives who read online journals like anyone else. Your words show up on Google, on Technorati. If you really didn't want a public reaction or the VT students to see, you would have had this discussion in a more private place.

You wanted a public reaction and now that you're getting it, you are trying to blame someone else.

Also you didn't just discuss "something I find interesting" in a dispassionate abstract observation on policy or manliness. You went on a rant specifically targeting the victims, [and] mocking their specific actions.

Face it, you were heartless and assumed you wouldn't get called on it. If you feel unhappy because now you held responsible by those victims, then it's on you.

Don't try to pretend you didn't say this:

"College classrooms have scads of young men who are at their physical peak, and none of them seems to have done anything beyond ducking, running, and holding doors shut...Something is clearly wrong with the men in our culture. Among the first rules of manliness are fighting bad guys and protecting others: in a word, courage. And not a one of the healthy young fellows in the classrooms seems to have done that."

Except these students - including women - held those doors shut at risk of their own lives.

By this point many people, some of them real men with real courage, have pointed out that manliness is not suicidal unarmed attacks on an armed opponent when there is possibility of escape. That's the sort of stupid sacrifice which adds to the death toll while doing nothing to end the danger.

It takes a true coward to sit in high judgment from a position of safety without all the facts, then to pretend it isn't their fault if the victims are offended.

Your idea of manliness seems cribbed from pop culture and your own insecurities, not reality. Well let me tell ya something, pilgrim - John Wayne and Clint Eastwood didn't call dead civilian victims cowards. Ronald Reagan wouldn't spout off on what wimps the dead were shortly after a slaughter. George Bush didn't say anything like that.

That was you.

Do Not Read This!

Forgive me for posting this so late, but I just ran across a list titled “The Most Harmful Books of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Century” compiled by the masterminds over at Human Events – the same right-wing blog which publishes noted manly authority Nathanael Blake, who last year criticized male Virginia Tech students who, in one classroom attacked by gunman Seung-Hui Cho, ducked for cover instead of rushing Cho head-on despite him being armed with two semi-automatic pistols.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been irritated by self-righteous strangers who try to tell me what I can and cannot read, or what film I can or cannot see. And while the collectors of the following list do not specifically say “Do not read this book,” the fact that they call any text damaging (beyond, say, the NAMBLA Manifesto) is imbecilic considering that no text is good or evil on its face.

Rather, it depends on how the person who reads it interprets the information a la The Bible or The Koran.

Anyhow, the list (click here for the surly details) contains various political texts (Marx, Hitler, Mao), but perhaps not surprisingly also includes “The Kinsey Report” (which first introduced Americans to sex), plus titles by Neitzsche (“The Nazis loved [him]” the list claims), and those old right-wing scarecrows: Freud, Freidan, Mead, Mill, Foucault, Nader, and Charles Darwin.

Why JK Rowling and JD Salinger’s “Catcher In the Rye” were not also included on the list is something I can only chalk up to sloppy academic thinking.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Review: "Cloverfield"

At about the ¾ mark in “Cloverfield,” one of the surviving characters—bloodied and frazzled--mutters “I don’t feel so good.”

I know exactly how she feels, because after 84 minutes of “Cloverfield’s” hand-held mania I was praying for Maalox.

But let’s backtrack a moment…

Written by Drew Goddard (“Buffy,” “Angel,” “Lost”), “Cloverfield” begins innocuously enough—after the DOD warning--with a young, post-coital couple named Rob and Beth (Mike Vogel and Odette Yustman) filming plans for an upcoming day at Coney Island. Other scenes that follow then cover the two running around New York, followed (several days later) by Rob's brother and girlfriend Lily (Mike Vogel and Jessica Lucas) planning a farewell party for Rob, who is due to leave for a new job in Japan.

That evening, as Jason asks his friend Hub (well played by T.J. Miller) to video farewell messages for Rob to watch while overseas, their apartment is jolted by what is believed to be an earthquake (although terrorism, while never explicitly mentioned, seems possible too). Heading to the roof to investigate, Hub then films a massive fireball blooming in midtown Manhattan.

The rest of “Cloverfield” is pretty much a raging panic from there, which I suppose is appropriate if its goal is to simulate a huge, lumbering monster ransacking New York from the POV of those underfoot.

If so, mission accomplished.

Unfortunately, so much of “Cloverfield” is nigh-unwatchable due to the frantic hand-held camera (funny how the batteries never die) rolling as a Brooklyn Bridge full of evacuees is smashed, and Rob treks uptown to find his girlfriend. Equally as gut-wrenching is Rob’s pal Hub, who shuts up for no more than two seconds throughout “Cloverfield,” babbling about events around him, or badly hitting on his would-be girlfriend roaming the city with the rest of the group.

As for the monster’s origins, that is wisely never revealed. After all, how would Lily or Rob know what it was – unless a calm, helpful scientist appeared to explain it all as in a thousand other creature invasion flicks. It also seems appropriate that the military’s counterstrike on the monster is as confused as anything else in “Cloverfield"; how or when do you prep an army for such a thing?

So in this respect, despite its nausea-cam and screaming college kids, “Cloverfield” (along with late 2007’s very similar invasion pic “The Mist”) is among the more realistic fantasies to come down the pike in a while.

Still, I won’t be seeing it again – or at least not on anything close to a full stomach.

Hey! It's "Me: The Video"

How thoughtful. And with a Billy Joel soundtrack, no less.

A Memo From Homeless Vets for Bill O'Reilly

See, Bill? Some homeless vets do, in fact, live under bridges, even the non-drug/alcohol abusers who camp out close to your offices.

Put down the loofah and get your facts straight for once.

Click here to send a donation to the Salvation Army, which provides
many services for American homeless veterans. Then send Bill O’Reilly
an email
, and cordially invite him to join the real world
and/or go fuck himself.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Somewhere on Skid Row, God is Smacking His Head...

Quickly catching up with the likes of L. Ron Hubbard and Joseph Farah on the subject of living in an alternate reality, Bill O’Reilly last night dueled with guest and radio commentator Ed Schultz on the subject of whether homeless veterans truly exist in the US – with Bill-O taking the position that, like the Apollo moon landings and underpants gnomes, abundant reports of homeless vets are the stuff of fantasy.


Exhibit A (from Crooks & Liars, dated 1-6-08):

O’Reilly: As for John Edwards, Good grief! This guy has no clue. (plays clip)

Edwards: … and tonight, 200,000 men and women who wore our uniform proudly, and served this country courageously as veterans will go to sleep under bridges and on grates. We are better than this.

O’Reilly: That was Edwards’ concession speech last night. I mean, come on. The only thing sleeping under a bridge is that guy’s brain. 10 million illegal alien workers are sending billions of dollars back home and Edwards is running around saying nobody has any money. Hard to believe.

Exhibit B (from C&L, dated 1-14-08):

Ed Schultz: I think (Edwards’) message is strong and he has tremendous conviction, but I think he needs a little bit more material than just the “Two Americas” talk. He’s got to get a little bit deeper.

BOR: Well, we’re still looking for all the veterans sleeping under the bridges, Ed, so if you find anybody, let us know, because that’s all [Edwards has] said for the last three nights…

ES: Well they’re out there, Bill. Don’t kid yourself.

BOR: They may be out there, but there’s not many of them out there. Okay? So if you know where one is, Ed…

ES: Well, actually…Now, wait a minute…one in ..

BOR: Ed, Ed. If you know where’s a veteran, sleeping under a bridge, you call me immediately, and we will make sure that man does not do it. Is not there.


“We will make sure the man does not do it”?

Putting aside O’Reilly’s massive delusion that his show wields tremendous influence on American culture and daily life, I wonder how he would precisely set straight “the [homeless] man” in question?

Say, invite him over for a home-cooked dinner, and give him the spare room at Bill’s place until the poor guy gets back on his feet?

Methinks not.

Nevertheless, O’Reilly’s galactic ignorance on homeless vets, women, Western history, the table manners of Afro-American diners in Harlem, NY, et al., plus a multitude of other topics could not possibly make for better unintentional comedy.

I seriously hope that Fox gives Bill a very long-term contract extension, like, tomorrow.

The man is a priceless model for millions of people—Americans or not—on how not to go about one’s life.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Cinematic Titanic

Perused the following over at young Wil Wheaton’s blog regarding what feels like a DVD quasi-resurrection of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 featuring many of the show’s original creators (including Joel Hodgson) but without any robots.

I’m semi-intrigued.

As the project uses the exact same comedic hook as MST, how would it be different exactly?

PS: Not that you asked, but the all-time best episodes of MST were “Wild Rebels” and “Godzilla vs. Megalon.”

Oh, these stairs…

Golf Tips With Spidey!

It’s a little known fact that—as opposed to a standard mulligan—yelling “One More Day!” after a bad shot not only undoes the error in question, but erases it from the space-time continuum ensuring it never existed.

This trick works with both disc golf, and “regular” golf.

Go ahead! Try it! Mephisto will even appear in a puff of fiery brimstone to serve as your caddy.

The only downside is he works for: a) your eternal soul, or; b) 25 IQ points, which is what anyone lost immediately after reading “One More Day” - couldn't you hear those poor little neurons screaming as they died?

"Carry your bag, sir? Heh-heh-heh..."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Attention, Rat Bastards: No Bad Language.

As I’m a fan of bizarre street and safety signs as much as anyone, I wanted to post the following public notice from the conservative enclave of Virginia Beach, VA.

Translation: No swearing on the boardwalk.

Despite the ridiculousness of this little bylaw, I have to give the sign’s designer mixed credit: although its message is cleverly “phrased,” the sign strikes me as something straight out of Toontown - which actually is a pretty apt way to describe Virginia Beach , home of CBN and Pat Robertson.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Profiles in Gutlessness, Part II

Was killing time cruising the net tonight—the co-worker I was supposed to speak to fished out on me—when I ran across the following piece at the Chicago Sun-Times about a local Jewish cemetery being vandalized with Nazi graffiti.

Frankly, I can’t think of anything more gutless than attacking someone’s final resting place. In fact, on an overall scale of gutlessness, I’d liken the act to ransacking a petting zoo, or hinting on the radio that Barack Obama is a terrorist due to his middle name.

So congratulations to those responsible for so stylishly redecorating Westlawn Cemetary.

You are truly real men.

The Heart of Saturday Night

Not that I had big plans otherwise, but I’ll be doing some work—as in for my day job—in the next hour when I dial into a conference with a co-worker of mine on the subject of a 3-4 documents to be put to bed by Monday AM.

The good news is that I most of the heavy-lifting done yesterday, so tending to the remaining details needed to close out the drafts (on my end) won’t be difficult. And though this is hardly the first time I’ve done extra work on weekends, there are obviously 1001 other things I’d rather be doing.

Woe to me, I say. Woe to me.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bookshelf Nicknack #49

Picked up the following at my FNCS last night along with my weekly books. I’m not exactly sure why I got it; I’ve never been much of a Terrax fan.

However, that big shiny axe he’s toting doubles nicely as a pie slicer. In fact, just pop a chef’s hat on Terrax (in your mind’s eye) and he’d make the baddest pastry chef in the universe.

Galactus surely cannot live on planets alone.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rainy Days and Thursdays

Last night, while attending Mike Rende’s 41st birthday, I got into a subtle argument with my golf and hockey pal Mark over the subject of superhero-themed tattoos derived from an article on the subject in this month’s issue of Wizard.

Although he is uncomfortable around needles, Mark suggested he might get a small tat of Thor’s hammer on his arm if I went along.

“Fine,” I said. “I already have a design picked out: an etching of a bat by Dave McKean from hard-cover editions of Arkham Asylum (1989).”

“But that’s not a superhero design,” Mark said.

“The hell it ain’t,” says I. “It’s Batman.”

“Is not!” Mark said.

At this point, I informed Mark of a simple truth – if I’m the person who’ll wear the tattoo in question for life (barring a shameful march to a dermatologist one day to get it removed), I’ll decide what design works or not.

Nevertheless, I hope Mark follows through with his offer to get tagged. I’ll even talk him through the experience if he gets light-headed.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Lovecraft On Film (Again)

Targeted for 2010 release, word of Guillermo De Toro’s big screen adaptation of “At The Mountains of Madness” by HP Lovecraft both intrigues and concerns me – both because I wonder how Guillermo can unravel Lovecraft’s meandering (to put it mildly) source text into something filmable.

Yes, I know such adaptations have been done before (“Re-Animator,” “In The Mouth of Madness”), but “Mountains” would address one of Lovecraft’s larger texts, and as any fan of his stuff knows, reading it is like wading through molasses. Plus, Lovecraft’s fiction is so overwhelming (by design) it makes one question how it could be put to film without driving audiences away babbling out of sheer confusion.

Yet I suppose if anyone can successfully pull such a feat off its Del Toro, whom I wish to God would make a “Hellboy” movie pitting the BPRD versus a Cthulhu cult.

Now that I’d love to see.

Seven Decades On

“I wasn’t born on Elvis’ birthday. He was born on mine.”

---My late father, George, on me annually commenting that his birthday coincides with The King’s every January 8th.

Happy 70th, Dad.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Shadow Man

Although I believe no TV anthology series can ever match the original “Twilight Zone” for sheer storytelling quality, I often give CBS’s revival of “Zone” (1985-1989) credit for making a good stab at it. Featuring a terrific new opening sequence, with music by the Grateful Dead, the series sported some genuinely good stories including “To See The Invisible Man,” “Examination Day,” and “Nightcrawlers.”

Yet among these, the episode that sticks most in my mind is “The Shadow Man,” directed by Joe Dante (“Gremlins”) and written by Rockne O’Bannon, about a nerdy suburban boy who discovers a spectre living under his bed who rises each night and whispers “I am the Shadow Man, and I will never harm the person under whose bed I live” before leaving out the boy’s window.

Dismissing the incident as a bad dream, the boy goes to school the next day to hear of someone having been attacked the previous night by a suspect matching the Shadow Man’s appearance. Later, the boy even decides to use the spirit to his advantage -- despite his town growing increasingly alarmed by the sudden spike in nighttime assaults which local police have been unable to stop.

Anyhow, although “The Shadow Man” is a bit dated—and the ending somewhat weak, IMO--the episode is still a fun premise worth revisiting.

Click here for Part I of the episode, and here for Part II.


PS: Although I felt the overall series was just okay, an episode of NBC’s “Amazing Stories” (which aired around the same time as the new “Twilight Zone”) I also enjoyed is “Mirror Mirror” co-written by Steven Spielberg, and directed by Martin Scorsese -- about a bitter filmmaker (played by Sam Waterson) stalked by a black figure visible only in reflected surfaces.

Unfortunately, I cannot find a copy of the episode on You Tube right now, but will keep an eye out for it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Boozing By Proxy

Brad Weber and I are drinking pals of a most unusual sort – that is to say, he drinks and I do not.

But more to the point, when we’re out at a bar—say, The Duke of Perth in Chicago—I will often suggest a new ale or distilled potable for Brad to try, and he’ll tell me his opinion. I then take the empty bottle home as a souvenir – especially if the label art is interesting.

Tonight for Brad’s 40th birthday, I’ll be bringing him a bottle of Red-Tail Ale – an American product out of New York State.

I hope he likes it.

My own palette for beer is pretty unsophisticated – however, not so much that even I can’t tell that Point Lager is one step up from pasteurized deer urine.

"I say try the seventh bottle from the right."
"Why? What's so special about that one?"
"I like that picture of the Scottie dog on the label - just do it, rummy! I'm driving."
"One please..."

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Random Nonsense

Although I’m still firmly locked in hockey season, I always enjoy checking out websites for minor-league baseball leagues to check out off-season changes (e.g. new affiliations, moves, uniforms, etc).

So tonight I read that a Midwest League team in Davenport, Iowa, has wisely decided to switch its team name to the Quad City River Bandits after four years back some genius thought naming the team The Swing of The Quad Cities (as in jazz swing) would be a capital idea.

Joe Quesada, I’m looking in your direction….

The thing is that River Bandits were previously called the River Bandits for several seasons; it’s just too bad it took four years (and a sale) for team management to figure out that was the very name they should have stuck with all along.

Oh well, live and learn…

Anyhoo, in 1994 I caught a Bandits game at their stadium beside the Mississippi. It’s a very nice facility you might recall being washed out in 1993 during summer floods that hit several rivertowns including Davenport that year. Yet what sticks out in my memory most during the Bandits game I saw was that evening, the park was invaded by a Biblical swarm of mayflies. There were literally millions of the bugs flitting around any open source of light – especially the stadium’s light towers - while falling into people’s beers and sodas.

And though most fans fled the scene, including my brother and two friends who sought shelter on the park’s concourse, I wasn’t bothered by the mayflies. I actually thought the swarm was pretty cool. I’ve also seen nothing remotely like it since – including the mass cicada hatchings that strike the Chicago-area every 16 years.

So here’s to you, little bugs.

Thank God your local ballclub finally has a respectable name again.

Merry New Year

Last night, I marked the arrival of a new year by getting my fourth tattoo: a woodcut of an owl perched on an open book used as a logo for the Chicago Public Library.

I first saw the source art several years ago when first used for the grand opening of the Harold Washington Library in downtown Chicago, and loved it from the word go. But it was only recently that I got the idea of transferring the image to my right bicep, a job which took an hour to finish at Insight Tattoo on a snowy Milwaukee Avenue – the same studio where I got a memorial tattoo last fall marking my father’s passing.

I was surprised at how long the job took, but the detailing is excellent. I’m also surprised at how much discomfort I’m still in today (for those unaware, the after effects of tattooing feels like a lingering sunburn), but then again, the owl is larger and required more ink than anything I’ve gotten before.

But I’m aiming for a fifth tattoo later this year, followed by a sixth and perhaps a seventh and final one (all on my right arm).

I have to admit that getting marked is like munching on potato chips: you can’t have just one, and using new designs to create a larger theme is quite fun.

But anyhow, tomorrow the holidays are finally over, and its back to work for everyone.

Time to get back to reality and weekly deadlines.