Saturday, June 30, 2007

Mr. Energy

I call Jason Stewart Mr. Energy. Whenever the team needs a boost, Stewart is there to provide it In only his second year in the league Stewart has proven to be the generator of defensive motivation on our big front line. Along with Silas Demary, Stewart dominates other teams, pushing offensive lines back deep as into their own territory, making quarterbacks scramble for their lives. They say he weighs in at 320 lbs, but I would not be surprised it if was actually a little more. Like Demary, his size hides his deceptive speed.

I remember a game a month ago where Demary tipped a ball at the line of scrimmage and Stewart jumped high to pick it off and then thundered down the field, even doing a little stutter-step before hurtling his great body mass into the end zone. It was the turning point in the game for the Avengers and it was not the first time Mr. Energy had provided one.

Should we fall behind on Monday night, I expect Jason to provide the spark we need for victory. It's just what he does.

Mission Accomplished!

I want to improve as a writer and so I have vowed to write something, anything, every day. A lot of that you see here, but I'm also working in a novel, a screenplay or two, an idea for a comic strip, a couple of short stories, some round-robin writing and an article or three. But I have been using this forum mainly to condition myself to set writing goals and stick with them. The first couple of months this year I set the goal of averaging a new post here every day. I failed at that goal, but rather than cut back I upped the goal to averaging two posts a day. I hit that goal March, April and May.

For June I upped it again; my new goal was to average three posts a day. It seemed crazy, but here it is, June 30 and this is my 91st posting of the month. Sure, some of them hardly qualify as writing (some may say that is true about all of them), but they all take time to put together and edit, etc., and hey, it's my goal; I get to say what qualifies and what doesn't.

So I say my mission this month has been accomplished. I'm not sure I will keep the goal so high for next month. I do have a life after all.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Somebody's Been Lying Again!

“Among other things, these communications discuss the wisdom of such a proposal, specific U.S. attorneys that could be removed, potential replacement candidates, and possible responses to congressional and media inquiries about the dismissal.”

-Solicitor General Paul Clement (in explaining why the White House will not turn over papers involved in the firings of U.S. attorneys. This after the White House has argued, and everyone has sworn under oath, for six months that they had nothing to do with the firings.)

A Sahl-id Question

One of the big perks of doing what I do is that I get to meet all these guys. I met President [George W.] Bush and we got to talking about drinking. He said, "I don't drink anymore. You see, I was born again!" And I couldn't help think...if you were going to be born again, wouldn't you want to be born as something better than George Bush?"

-Mort Sahl

Sack-Master Supreme!

Come Monday night if the Utah Blaze quarterback finds himself flat on his back, chances are the the guy on top of him, emptying the breath from his lungs, is going to be Silas Demary. Silas is the Avengers sack-master supreme. He is big, strong and fast as lightning. If a ball gets tipped at the line of scrimmage, chances are the hand that tipped it will be Demary's. He is just part of one of the most potent defensive lines in the league, but he is a big part.

In 2005 Silas was voted Defensive Player of the Year and Lineman of the Year and holds the league record for most sacks in a single season.

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Action Comics #353

Action Comics #353 (On Sale: June 29, 1967) has Wayne Boring's last cover for DC, and in fact, only his second cover in the past 10 years. Boring's style never quite left the 40s and 50s. Starting with DC in 1940, he drew these chunky characters with their rigid torsos that just oozed old "gone but not forgotten" DC clunk. Pencils by Wayne Boring, inks by George Klein.

Inside we continue last month's story with, "The Battle of the Gods" by Otto Binder and Wayne Boring. While returning to Earth after a mission in space Superman is blocked by his enemy Zha-Vam. Zha-Vam uses the shield of Orion to prevent Superman's passage back to Earth. The Man of Steel circumvents the obstruction by traveling back in time to the days of the Greek gods. He visits Mount Olympus and discovers Zha-Vam's origins.

The Oracle has told Zeus that one day the gods will be forgotten and Superman will be hailed by the people. Angry, Zeus orders the construction of a pseudo-man powered by the gods themselves. He then sends the newly created being, Zha-Vam, into the future to battle Superman.

The back-up Supergirl story is "The Cosmic Collectors" by Otto Binder and Jim Mooney. Linda Danvers takes a part time job a the school library where she discovers Joe Trent checking out several science books. When he returns the next day for more books, Linda becomes suspicious. She watches him take the books to an alien spacecraft.

The following day, Linda intercepts Joe and takes the books to the ship as Supergirl. Inside the ship she finds a group of disembodied brains that form the Living Library of Zorkia. They are traveling the universe absorbing knowledge to take back to their home planet.

The brains then want to use Supergirl in their living library. When she refuses, the brains stun her with Kryptonite. They then force her super brain to absorb all the stored knowledge and take her to their homeworld. Supergirl is then forced to serve as a living library for the people of Zorkia.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Favorite Short Stories -- Shatterday

Shatterday by Harlan Ellison. What do you do when you accidentally dial your own number and you answer the phone? And what do you do when the you on the other end of the line berates you for the mess you've made of your life, tells you how you are undeserving of it and says they are going to fix the things that you have screwed up? Damn is this a powerful story.

It was adapted into an episode of The Twilight Zone in 1985, written by sometimes comic book writer Alan Brennert, directed by horror master Wes Craven and starring Bruce Willis in what I thought was one of the best pieces of acting he has ever done.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Omen II

The End of Days is Coming! Things are getting creepier and creepier!

Runners? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Runners!

Actually, on occasion we do, and when we do we give the ball to Lonnie Ford. Ford is the Avengers all-time leader in every rushing category (carries, yards and touchdowns). Ford is from USC, but I won't hold that against him.

Ford is a big bruiser of a man and if we need yards on the ground come Monday night, Ford is the guy who is going to get them for us. When we get near the goal, Ford will have his big hands wrapped all around the ball.

When he plays defense what you notice about Ford is how big and fast he is. Lonnie Ford; I wouldn't get in his way if I were you.


There's one thing you must never, ever say about the Middle East: "It can't get worse."

– PJ O'Rourke

We Need NASA To Build More Stuff

Sure, occasionally something blows up on take-off or re-entry, but most of the time the things they build seem to last forever. Look at the Mars Explorer Opportunity. It landed in January 2004 for a 90-day mission. It is now June, almost July 2007 and the little fucker is still running strong, and its mission might be extended through October 2008.

That is, if it doesn't get trapped in Victoria Crater. Victoria Crater is a half-mile across and about 200 to 230 feet deep, far deeper than anything the rovers have yet explored. It's a risk to go in, but one NASA is willing to take. Opportunity could get trapped in the crater, unable to leave. Or, hell, it could topple over during descent or sink into a sandy crater side; no one knows for sure what will happen.

According to this AP story, "The initial entry is expected on July 7 or 9. To get into the crater, the rover will have to safely cross a ripple of wind-formed material at the lip of the crater, the kind of feature that has given it trouble before. The team plans to initially drive only far enough to have all six wheels on the slope and then back up to the top, to analyze how it performed."

I wish the little rover well. Now if only these guys would build my next computer.

We're Number One!

Speaking for everyone in southern California I would just like to thank the Academy for this honor.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Kicks Just Keep Getting Harder to Find

Except when Remy Hamilton is on the field. Remy is not having his best year, but even a pedestrian season for Hamilton is better than what most kickers can achieve. He was voted Kicker of the Year in 2005 and 2006 and he is the only kicker in AFL history to be awarded Ironman of the Game.

Like I said, he is having an off year. He has made 101 of 114 extra point kicks and 16 of 30 field goals (remember, the goal posts are only nine feet apart as opposed to 18.5 feet in the NFL), for a total of 149 points, which puts him in third place overall. In 2005 Remy was good on 74.4% of his field goals, breaking the previous AFL record of 72%. In 2006 he broke his own record, when he went 27 of 36 on field goals, which translates to an AFL record 75% success rate.

An excellent special teams player after he kicks off, Remy has made 66.5 tackles in his last five seasons with the Avengers. Remy is also in possession of five distinct on-side kicks, each designed to make the ball react in a different manner.

If you are at an Avenger game and you hear some guy yelling, "KICK THE BALL REMY!!!!" during a kickoff, that would be me. Hamilton is my favorite player on the team.

An Omen

I believe this is one of the signs of the apocalypse. Be afraid, be very afraid!

He Needed that Headache Like He Needed...

...a bullet in the head! Clue number one that your wife is somewhat unhappy with you!

Giving Feels Good

I gave money to the Edwards campaign this week. Just my way of saying, "Suck my dick you disgusting cunt!" to Anne Coulter. If you would like to tell Anne to suck your dick too, you can give to the Edwards campaign here.

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Girls' Love Stories #129

Girls' Love Stories #129 (On Sale: June 27, 1967) has a wonderful Jay Scott Pike cover.Apparently he brought her there to put on a show; it is a convertible after all!

Inside we begin with "I Came to Say Goodbye" which is penciled by Arthur Peddy. It is followed by "So Little to Ask" drawn by Arthur Peddy and Bernard Sachs. Lastly is our cover story "Love Was a Lie" drawn by Jay Scott Pike.

Edited by Jack Miller.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto!

Looking around at stuff in my office today I came across an old brochure by my ex-comic book partner, Baron Mrkva, whom, it just so happens, we are seeing this coming weekend at a party of high school friends who are all getting too frikkin' old to be high school friends! The cover to his brochure featured this robot that Baron used to air-brush on t-shirts all the time.

This thing was just a monster to paint, with an endless number of small plastic masks. I would watch Baron paint one of these guys and it would take him forever to do just one; each of his t-shirts was an original. Anyway, Baron is one clever guy and this brochure of his was very well done. I believe he said he got more work from it than any other form of advertising he had ever done. It definitely gave you a feeling of who Baron was.

Maybe next time I'll open it up and show you the insides!

A Framing Statement

The Aaron Brothers' One Cent Frame and One Cent Canvas sale is on! It's a buy one, get another one for one cent sale, and it is the only way to buy frames. I picked up a couple this weekend and got one of my wife's favorite pieces framed, matted and up on the wall in the living room this evening. If you have a lot of artwork to frame and you have your own matt cutter, now is the time to stock up on frames.

This has been a public service message from A Source of One.

One Last Birthday Present!

Make that two. First, my wife said there was one coming in the mail and it arrived today: a set of 96 Prismacolor NuPastels, like I used to under-paint Bowie. This is a very cool gift as I will no longer have to onesy-twosy the NuPastels during trips to the Blicks Art Store in Pasadena and I can buy open-stock replacement sticks there when I need them.

Second, I received four tickets to Monday's Avengers play-off game. There are "Best seat in the House" tickets. All I have to do is get down to the Staples box-office and cash them in for numbered seats. So, all in all, I have six seats for Monday's game. Time to round up the friends!

I Think He Forget That People Write This Stuff Down

"The idea of trying to cast blame on President Clinton (for September 11) is just wrong for many, many reasons, not the least of which is I don't think he deserves it."

-Rudy Giuliani, September 2006

Iron Man!

No, not the drunk (ex-drunk? Ah, who the hell cares?!) Marvel super-hero, but he his a member of the Avengers. He is Kevin Ingram, K.I. to his friends and fans, and in 2005 he was named Ironman of the Year.

Back then, before John Elway fucked up the league, Arena Football was an ironman game. Six of the eight players on the field had to play both offense and defence and you could only substitute one of them once a quarter. In 2005 Ingram had 88 receptions for 1,052 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also had six interceptions and 68 tackles; a true ironman.

Though he might play defensive back every now and then, he is now pretty much a wide receiver and special teams player. A fractured right thumb kept Kevin out for five games this season, but he was back last Saturday and played great (eight catches for 137 yards and three touchdowns). Even with the five games off he is tied for leading scorer on the team with 95 receptions for 1,059 yards and 23 touchdowns and 19 kick-off returns for 265 yards and one touchdown.

We will need everything Kevin can give us on Monday as we once again play the Utah Blaze for the second game in a row. We have not beat them yet, but I think our record is about to improve.

Favorite Short Stories -- Crimson Shadow

"What you doin' there, boy?"

It was six a.m. Socrates Fortlow had come out to the alley to see what was wrong with Billy. He hadn't heard him crow that morning and was worried about his old friend.

The sun was just coming up. The alley was almost pretty with the trash and broken asphalt covering in half-light. Discarded wine bottles shown like murky emeralds in the sludge. In the dawn shadows Socrates didn't even notice the boy until he moved. he was standing in front of a small cardboard box, across the alley--next to Billy's wire fence.

"What bidness is it to you, old man?" the boy answered. He couldn't have been more than twelve but he had that hard convict stare.

Socrates knew convicts, knew them inside and out.
So begins Crimson Shadow by Walter Mosley from Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned. And so we meet for the first time Socrates Fortlow as he is meeting young Darryl, the boy who will become like a son to the ex-convict. And thus began my introduction to a world I had never seen before. I've already talked about Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned. It's a powerful book, this is a powerful story and definitely one of my favorites. Read it and enjoy the journey.

All This and World War I

Another of the postcards my mother's Uncle Bross purchased while serving in WWI. The current administration doesn't even want you to see pictures of our dead and wounded let alone the enemy (whoever the hell that is supposed to be this week).

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!

I took my dad, my son Brian, his friend Travis and Travis's dad Randy to the Avengers game on Saturday. We lost by 10 points in the season finale.

The Good

Our seats were on the 13th row right next to the tunnel where the Avenger dancers, The A-Team, come out on to the field. Brian had a great time leaning over and gawking at the ladies. My dad had never been to an Arena Football game or to the Staples Center before and had a great time. Travis and Randy seemed to have a good time too. Kevin Ingram, our #1 wide receiver was back off of injured reserve and played very well. Oh, and we got some cool Avenger trading cards when we came in through the door. I'm going to share them with you over the next few days as we get ready for our playoff game next Monday.

The Bad

I said it, we lost by 10 points, but we were down by 20 point with 3 minutes to go and never gave up. Given that, the bad was not nearly as bad as it could have been.

The Ugly

Our quarterback, Sonny Cumbie threw three interceptions and was pulled in the fourth quarter. This is the first game Sonny was ever pulled from for performance issues (he left a game or two when we had insurmountable leads). Sonny's play in the fourth was ugly, but in his second season with the team and first full season as our QB he holds the team record for completion percentage in a single game, completions in a single game, passing yards in a season, and consecutive passes without an interception. Considering we had Tony Graziani, the premiere passer in the league, for three seasons, it says a lot about Sonny that he is the one holding all the team records. Sonny is our future and everyone has an ugly game now and then.

Don't Be a Rube!

Just take a few minutes and watch this. It's pretty unbelievable.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

What's Wrong with American Idol?

Besides the painfully obvious? Not enough opera. This is just astounding.

Favorite Short Stories -- Inconstant Moon

Inconstant Moon by Larry Niven. Just your typical late night in Los Angeles, only, why does the moon look so bright tonight? What begins as the end of a long mundane day with an extra delight in the sky slowly turns into something so much more. What would you do if this were your last night on earth? I believe it won the Hugo for best short story the year it came out.

They made an Outer Limits out of this one with Michael Gross and Joanna Gleason, but changed the setting from Los Angeles to a small community in the mountains and lost a lot of the tension as far as I was concerned.

One of the great things about Inconstant Moon is you can read it on-line at the Larry Niven site.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Stop Forgetting to Remember: The Autobiography of Walter Kurtz

I wrote this review for Tony Isabella's site a few months ago. I encourage you to take the time to check out his site and rummage though the archive. Then, if you feel like it, drop on by the discussion board and hoist a few words with a great bunch of people.

Stop Forgetting to Remember: The Autobiography of Walter Kurtz

The title alone should tell you that there is something fishy about “Stop Forgetting to Remember: The Autobiography of Walter Kurtz” by Peter Kuper. Shouldn’t Walter Kurtz be writing the autobiography of Walter Kurtz? Well, in a way he is. As Peter Kuper says on the book flap, “I could never delve as deep and reveal as many embarrassing details as he has bravely (?) done in this book.” Well, yeah, I can see that. There is a lot in this book attributed to the life of Kurtz that I wouldn’t want to cop to either, so Mad Magazine contributor Peter Kuper invented Kurtz to take the heat in his stead.

This is a beautifully produced book told in short vignettes of Kuper’s, uh, I mean, Kurtz’s life. Spanning 35 years, they cover everything from his awakening sexual desires through his teenage, college and adult drug usage, his friends, his girlfriends, his boyfriend, his wife and marriage, the birth of his daughter, his art career, his horror at the election and re-election of George Bush and the ultimate horror of September 11th.

Kuper incorporates work from his own commercial career, such as “Richie Bush, The Poor Little Origarch” and his “Spy vs. Spy” work for Mad (called “Ebony vs. Ivory” here) to fill out the resume of Walter Kurtz. Employing a three-color printing process Kuper easily moves you from his main story to the world of fantasy, flashback and drug-induced delusion. It works surprisingly well allowing for moments of digression and exposition in the middle of running narrative.

I found the book to be a pure joy. I laughed a lot, cringed quite a bit and almost teared up a couple of times. It’s an adult book with adult subject matter, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously and strikes a wonderful tone. Mostly it’s silly self-parody, but at other times there is striking poignancy. His title page for September 11, 2001 is genius in its simplistic depiction of a world turning upside down.

Kurtz is embarrassed by much of his life, but aren’t we all? I read in the Los Angeles Times recently that once a month a bar in Brooklyn holds an event called “Cringe Night” at which anyone can go up on stage and read what they wrote when they were teenagers. Poems, letters, journals, diary entries, it doesn’t matter. They say the experience is cathartic for both the listeners in the audience and the reader on stage, as they laugh at the thoughts that once dominated their life. “Stop Forgetting to Remember” struck me like that. “What a doofus this Kurtz/Kuper guy is” I thought as I read, but the truth was a little different. I recognized myself on almost every page of this book and when I laughed at Walter Kurtz, I was laughing at myself as well. Not a bad way to spend $20.

They Have Nothing To Fear...

...but testifying under oath!

The latest "scandal" to rock the Justice Department is Bush's pick to be the number 3 man there "asked" to have his name withdrawn (yeah, right) rather than testify before congress under oath. As Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy put it, "The White House has found many ways to keep sunlight from reaching some of the darker corners of the Bush Justice Department, but this is a new one. With a confirmation hearing looming next Tuesday, they have withdrawn this nomination to avoid having to answer more questions under oath."

I hope you people feel good about voting for these cowards.

All This and World War I

Another of the postcards my mother's Uncle Bross purchased while serving in WWI. Grunts on the ground; nothing much has changed here over the years. Damn does France look horrible in this photo!

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Brave and the Bold #73

Brave and the Bold #73 (On Sale: June 22, 1967) has a really weird cover by Carmine Infantino and Charles Cuidera featuring Aquaman and the Atom.

Inside we have Aquaman and the Atom in "Galg the Destroyer" by Bob Haney and Sal Trapani. Aquaman and Aqualad battle a group of undersea raiders only to watch them disappear from sight. Aquaman suspects that they may have shrank into a droplet of water, so he gathers the nearby water droplets and takes them to Atlantis. When scientist Dr. Vulko is able to identify the droplet containing the raiders, Aquaman summons help in the form of the Atom.

Before the Atom arrives, Aquaman is hit by a beam that shrinks him and transports him to the droplet world. Atom is then forced to enter the droplet to save Aquaman. Inside he finds an evil and intelligent plankton creature called Galg who is in charge of the raiders.

Edited by George Kashdan.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Bo-Dog

This week I have been working on a picture of our dog Bowie. I'm beginning to feel more comfortable with my new super soft Unison pastels, which I am now augmenting with some much harder Prismacolor NuPastels. I do an under-painting with the NuPastels and then finish the piece with the Unisons.

This is actually the fourth animal pastel I have started in the past few months and I think I will try a few more. As I get more adept with the sticks I am really enjoying the richness you can bring out in a piece, and I'm starting to have some fun with using the texture of the paper as an integral part of the artwork.

Happy Birthday To Me!

Come on! Sing it Marilyn!

A Wet Shrine!

Rob! has started a blog dedicated to all things Aquaman that can be found here. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Arthur Curry, AKA, the King of Atlantis, AKA, the King of the Seven Seas, AKA, Aquaman. Part of that has to do with a two-year run of Aquaman that I think is the absolute best comic book run ever. The rest is a combination of cool costume, cool powers, and one of the few super-heroes you know were having sex since his wife Mera had a child.

The Aquaman Shrine is open. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Favorite Short Stories -- The Phantom of Kansas

Sometimes it's not a whole book that grabs you, but a single short story. I'm going to be sharing some of my favorites, beginning with The Phantom of Kansas.

The Phantom of Kansas by John Varley. In the future there is a form of immortality where you have a DNA sample taken and a copy of your memory is downloaded into a computer. These are kept for you at a bank and if you die, your body is cloned and your memories are uploaded into the new body.

After a brain dump, environmental artist Fox wakes up in the medico facility only to realize she's not herself; she had died and has been reborn. But she didn't just die, she was murdered, and not just once, but three times. She is Fox #4 and if the first three of her were unable to stop her killer, what chance does she have?

This is what I love about Varley, he takes an idea and runs with it as far as he can. This story can be found in The Persistence of Vision and The John Varley Reader. I highly recommend both books.

Absolute Mayhem!

Years ago along with Baron Mrkva, I did a comic book called Mayhem. For the first issue I did a frontispiece (inside front cover) of Baron and me. At the time I think we were considering making ourselves the "hosts" of the book. It might have worked, but we dropped the idea after one issue and went instead with a piece by Frank Brunner and me, which was a rejected Alice in Wonderland drawing by Frank.

This piece was done in pencil, working from a photograph. This artwork has really gotten the hell beat out of it over the years, particularly around my face. It never did have a lot of contrast and now has even less. Anyway, Baron (standing) is supposes to look like this monstrous sort of fellow, brush in hand dripping some substance onto the floor, while I sit there wiping the ink(?) off of an ink pen. There is a word balloon for me which read:

Well, well, what is it this time? What motivated your investment in this, uh, "comic book"? I'll wager you are curious, correct? A good start, then. Curiosity is nothing more than interested ignorance… Oh, but don't be offended! It's quite necessary that your be prepared at the outset. Your minds should be open, your imaginations, expectant. We're counting on your curiosity. We've spent a lot of sweat and…uh, blood to produce this book and there's no turning back for us now.

But then, there's no turning back for you, either, is there?

Stan Lee, Man of Action! Go Figure!

Hasbro will introduce a Stan Lee action figure at next month's San Diego Comic-Convention. The six-inch tall toy will retail for $14.99. If they want to do a series on all the creators at Marvel that would be cool.

The Jack Kirby figure would have to have a cigar in his mouth and be surgically attached to his drawing board. The reclusive Mr. Steve Ditko might be missing a face, since photos of Mr. D. are pretty rare. The John Byrne figure would cost more than the others as it would have the biggest box; the extra room needed to hold John's ego. Of course the background would be erased from the box containing the Vinnie Colletta figure.

My Favorite Books -- Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned

I devour each Walter Mosely Easy Rawlins mystery as it comes out. Not only are they great mysteries, but they give you a wonderful perspective on changes in day-to-day life for minorities in this country over the past 45 or so years. Now that is a heck of an evolution. Even so, when Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned arrived, I was a little apprehensive about taking on a new Mosely character.

Would he give us another anti-private eye like Easy Rawlins? Maybe a violent, Mouse-type character this time? I worried that Mosely would give us a watered down version of what had already worked so spectacularly in his other books. I worried for nothing. In Socrates Fortlow, Walter Mosely delivered another truly unique and unforgettable character. This book made me laugh, cry, get pissed off, and think very long and hard about what it means to be a man when everything in your world says, "why bother?"

Socrates Fortlow is not a private eye and the short stories in this book are only mysteries in that they explore the mysteries of life, love, honor, friendship, fatherhood, violence, loneliness, personal integrity, and living with your past. Socrates is an ex-con living in modern Watts California, simply trying to make it from day to day. He is a big, bruiser of a man, with a violent past. A double-murderer, who understands the fear he sees in others eyes when they look at him and who does not blame them for the fear.

Told in 14 short stories, each reveals another facet of this rich character. Some of it is not pretty, for Socrates is flawed like us all. But he fights the demons of his past and accepts the limitations of his present. I don't think Socrates is looking for redemption, but he may just stumble upon it while simply trying to live with who and what he is. I loved this book.

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Superman #199

Superman #199 (On Sale: June 20, 1967) sports a classic cover by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson. I remember as a kid this was one of the classic questions: who was faster, Superman or the Flash? How could you pass up a comic that had them racing each other?

"Superman's Race with the Flash" is by Jim Shooter, Curt Swan and George Klein. Superman and Flash are contacted by the United Nations to run a race for charity. Both men agree to the race which will consist of three laps around the world. The race requires each hero to follow a particular course with several obstacles along the way. Superman is also forbidden from flying.

Before the race begins two international criminal organizations gamble billions on the outcome with one group betting on Superman, the other betting on Flash. As the race is run, both groups set traps for the racers to ensure their man wins. Superman and Flash are both captured. Guest stars include Supergirl and the Justice League of America. This classic was reprinted in Limited Collectors' Edition C-48.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

All This and World War I

Another of the postcards my mother's Uncle Bross purchased while serving in WWI. I was going to make a joke about the gas masks, but I'm just not up to it tonight!

CARE Packages

My wife was reading the article ranking the world's most expensive cities and was surprised so many were in Europe and it reminded me of an old National Lampoon Radio PSA.
Don't send CARE packages to starving families in Europe.

Can you afford to live in Europe? No. You can't even afford to visit Europe. And do you know what they do with your CARE packages? They whack them with their polo mallets, and kick them into their swimming pools and have a good laugh at your expense.

This has been a Public Dis-service Message from the National Lampoon Radio Network.

Santa Fe Ghost

Now I would have said this was a leaf close to the camera if not for the damn shadow is seems to cast. Pretty odd for sure. This was caught over the weekend by a surveillance camera at the First Judicial District courthouse in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico. No one there quite knows what to make of it. Have a look.

Bloomberg Bolts GOP

I know he is doing this for a presidential run, but I'm surprised more people are not doing it for other, equally as obvious reasons. You knew when he refused to fear-monger that Bloomberg wasn't long for the Republican party, who can't win an election unless they soil the shorts of their cowering "base."

Varley Yarn

There was a bomb on the Leystrasse, level forty-five, right outside the Bagatelle Flower and Gift Shoppe, about a hundred meters down the promenade from Prosperity Plaza.

"I am a bomb," the bomb said to passersby. "I will explode in four hours, five minutes, and seventeen seconds. I have a force equal to fifty thousand English tons of trinitrololuene."

A small knot of people gathered to look at it.

So begins Bagatelle by John Varley. Varley is one of my favorite writers. John has won the Locus 14 times, the Hugo three times, and the Nebula once. He has written some of my favorite short stories and some of the most fun novels I have read in recent years. I've been a fan since sometime in the 1970s when I read my first collection of his shorts. He has an unusual voice, one that seems equally adept at writing women as men and he has created some of the most characters. He gets an idea and wrings just about everything you can out of it.

A lot of his stories take place on the moon, in a future where the human race was forcibly removed from the Earth in an almost mass extermination by an alien race who wanted to return the planet to its rightful owners, the dolphins and whales. One such story is Bagatelle, the story of a nuclear bomb found in an underground mall on the moon and the man brought in to talk it out of exploding. You can read it on-line at Hopefully it will whet your appetite for a little more of the Varley magic which can be found at your neighborhood book store or even here. It's all good stuff folks.

Another Father's Day Gift

The Chicago Rush crushed the Colorado Crush last night in Denver giving the Los Angeles Avengers, and season ticket holders such as myself, a home playoff game on July 2nd! The Father's Day gifts just keep on coming!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Watergate, Shit-For-Brains Style!

The title of John Dean's book, "Worse Than Watergate," is proving to be more than prophetic. This is the biggest bunch of crooks and liars to ever infest the White House. Shame on any of you who voted for this Texas trailer trash!

Sticking to Your Guns

After a month's hiatus, Christopher Mills is back dishing out reviews of crime and mystery comics at Guns In The Gutters. Good to have you back Chris!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

Father's Day went pretty well this year. I got up and had a great breakfast that my wife made me before running off to Bill Stout's place in Pasadena for a little female form appreciation. As usual we had a great model and I tried beginning with vine charcoal and it seemed to open me up faster than penciling alone. I did the last three pieces in pastels.

Then it was back home to La Verne to pick up my son and off we dashed back past Pasadena and on to downtown Los Angeles for an Avengers Arena Football game at the Staples Center. We had clenched a playoff spot on Saturday when Nashville lost and are now positioning ourselves for a playoff home game. The first step in getting there was to beat the Las Vegas Gladiators. Early in the second quarter that looked like it might be difficult as we were down 14-21, but we then exploded with 37 unanswered points. We looked around and the score was 50-21! We ended up winning 60-35 and now we need the Colorado Crush to lose Monday night on ESPN and that home game is ours!

We got home and I called my dad and wished him a happy Father's Day and invited him to next week's Avengers season finale. My wife made dinner, something I selected from a cookbook for diabetics that turned out to be pretty good. After that it was John From Cincinnati on HBO. I'll give the show a few more weeks before deciding if I will stay with it or not.

All in all, not a bad Father's Day.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Accent is on Arrr!

I don't know how it happened but I am watching the Survivor clone Pirate Master on CBS. In it sixteen contestants dress up as, and pretend to be, pirates. They sail a full-masted 179-foot pirate ship around an island in the Caribbean and go in search of the treasure of some supposed famous pirate, which until this show no one had ever heard of. The show adds a fantasy game role-playing aspect to the basic Survivor premise of "Outwit. Outplay. Outlast."

In the third episode which was telecast this week a new captain was chosen. The captain gets certain privileges, better living conditions, more money (though the new captain, Azmyth, split the loot evenly between all pirates on his team), and he gets to pick the three people who will go to "Pirates Court" and one of which will be "set adrift," the Pirate Master version of "voted off the island." The other thing the captain gets is a coat and hat to wear.

When Azmyth, a skinny white guy from Washington state with swirls carved into his beard and blondish dreadlocks adorning his head became captain, he suddenly picked up an English accent. A big deal was made of it and when he got to "Pirate Court" and spoke, the host, Australian actor Cameron Daddo, a Jeff Probst wannabe if ever one existed, acted shocked. "Have you got an accent?" he asked, astounded at such a thing. The guy is in a pirate outfit, on a pirate ship off the coast of a Caribbean island with a bunch of other people pretending to be pirates, and Daddo has a problem with the guy "pretending" he has an accent? What a crock of shit.

This show is such a pile of phony bullshit, I wish I wasn't hooked on it.

Half Truths

I had to laugh at the latest headline from President Shit-For-Brains, "Bush warns he'll veto runaway spending". It's another half-truth from ol' SFB. Had he said, "Now that my party is not the one in charge of creating runaway government spending, I'll pretend I'm tough on such things and veto a bill or two, something I refused to do for six years while my party was in charge of sucking the government's coffers dry." He can't possibly believe there is anyone in this country stupid enough to think he is actually a conservative. Can he?

What the Hell Is This?

I spent part of the morning cleaning out a portion of the garage with my wife. You never know what your going to find when you do that. In this case I found a docking station to a Dell laptop, but not for the Dell laptop I own and a cable modem, but we only had an Adelphia cable modem five years ago and this isn't it. Not only do you never know what you will find, you never know where it came from either. I have reason to suspect my son, but he never had a Dell laptop, though he might of had a cable modem when he was away at college last year.

Friday, June 15, 2007

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Star Spangled War Stories #134

Star Spangled War Stories #134 (On Sale: June 15, 1967) has another great Russ Heath "War That Time Forgot" cover. The color is a little bland, but the visual is terrific. It had been four years since PT109 starring Cliff Robertson has come out, but I think PT boats still had a "cool factor" for quite a while. Nice Crocosaur by Heath too!

Inside we have "The Killing Ground" by Robert Kanigher and Neal Adams featuring "War That Time Forgot." This story was reprinted in G.I. War Tales #2

The backup story is "Ace of the Death Cloud" by Howard Liss and Jack Abel.

Edited by Robert Kanigher.

Times Up!

American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson has cancelled her summer tour due to lack of ticket sales. The AP is saying this is, "yet another sign of turmoil as she prepares to release her third album, 'My December.'" Perhaps a better title might be "My Fifteen Minutes Are Up." Here's hoping Idol's next season garners the same title.

2007: A Space Oddity

The Russian computers running the International Space Station are still on the fritz. I say the minute they start singing "Daisy" in Russian, we need to get the hell out of there!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Is THAT an Urban Legend?

Damn but I have relatives I wish would ask this simple question before they send out to another horde a bunch of incendiary or worrisome emails. They always send it to my mother as well, and she doesn't know how to check for validity, she can barely work the email, so she thinks she is doing everyone a favor by sending it out again to another horde (somehow, I'm in both hordes). If it's not vulgar racist rhetoric attributed to David Letterman it's one patently false warning about carjacking or missing kidneys or some other such nonsense after another. It takes, on average, about 20 seconds to locate the information that classifies the subject of the email as an urban legend.

Hey! Assholes! It's, or, just as fast, You don't have to be a brain surgeon to figure this shit out and is 20 seconds of your life too much to ask for you to give up to keep from repeatedly annoying the crap out of your relatives? Old people, like my mother, can be forgiven, but the rest of you should cut this shit out immediately!

She's Dead Jim!

She is Veronica Mars and no amount of candy bars could save her show creator Rob Thomas revealed recently. I could of told you this would be the outcome, in fact I did tell you this would be the outcome. Still, it's very disappointing and I sure wish some other network would pick up the show, but I also wish that George Bush and Dick Cheney would simultaneously drop dead with heart attacks, but I'm not holding my breath for either outcome.

It was a fairly good run the show had: A superb first season, a not quite as great but still cut above second season and a Godfather Part III, "Gee, that didn't turn out quite as well as we would have hoped" third season. Rumor has it that season four may be made into a DC Comics series written by Thomas. Not quite the same thing, but better than nothing I guess. How are they going to get Kristen Bell into my comic book?

Demoted Again!

Pluto, the little planet that ain't a planet anymore, is also no longer the largest dwarf planet. That title currently goes to Eris, which it has been determined, is 27% larger that former dwarf planet size champ Pluto. Pluto is now officially the 98 lb. weakling of the solar system.

That's what they get for naming a supposed planet after a Disney character!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

All This and World War I

Another of the postcards my mother's Uncle Bross purchased while serving in WWI. Man, and I thought ringing that bell at Christmas was a hard gig!

Would You Like Some Venti Fries With That CD?

Paul McCartney's Memory Almost Full CD sold 160,541 in its first week, the best showing by Sir Paul in over a decade. It is the first CD from the Starbuck's Hear Music label. I'm kind of conflicted about this.

Anyone reading Doonesbury this past week has seen Gary Trudeau's satirical take on this phenomena with ex-star Jim (Jimmy) Thudpucker announcing the release of his latest CD on the Burger King label. His CD is on rotation in the Burger King women's restrooms ('cause that's his demographic). I wish Sir Paul all the best, he puts on one of the best live shows I have ever seen, but I don't know if this Starbuck's music label is such a good idea. If it takes off can a Burger King label be far behind?

Asking the Wrong Question

There is another new poll out today that shows President Shit-For-Brains' approval rating at an all-time low. I'm not here to dicker about that; the all-time low is still way to high for the worst president in history, but I am here to talk about the other number the poll uncovers. The approval rating of congress is even lower...
The latest poll also found Americans growing more discontented with the Democratic-led Congress, with 64 percent disapproving of Congress' job performance. Only 23 percent approved, down 8 points since April.
The problem I have with this is that the poll tells you nothing about what the country is really feeling about the Democrats in Congress. If you think they have been to hard on President SFB (you fool!), you disapprove of the Democrats. If you think they have been to easy on President SFB (you patriot!), you disapprove of the Democrats. "Do you approve of them?" is asking the wrong question if the purpose of a poll is to gage the feelings of the people being polled. It's the right question to ask if you want to garner low numbers for the Democrats.

You Have To Deal With the Problems You Have

We Cajuns, we only deal with the problems we have. From the AP...

DELCAMBRE, La. - Sag your britches somewhere else, this Cajun-country town has decided. Mayor Carol Broussard said he would sign an ordinance the town council approved this week setting penalties of up to six months in jail and a $500 fine for being caught in pants that show undergarments or certain parts of the body.

Broussard said he has nothing against saggy pants but thinks people who wear them should use discretion. "It's gotten way out of hand out here," he said.

Albert Roy, the councilman who introduced the ordinance, said he thought the fine was a little steep and should be more in the $25 range, but he still favored the measure.

"I don't know if it will do any good, but it won't hurt," Roy said. "It's obvious, and anybody with common sense can see your parts when you wear sagging pants."

Broussard's advice for people who like their pants to hang low: "Just wear it properly. Cover your vital parts. I mean, if you expose your private parts, you'll get a fine. If you walk up and your pants drop, you get a fine. They're better off taking the pants off and just wearing a dress."

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Justice League of America #55

Justice League of America #55 (On Sale: June 13, 1967) has what I remember as one of the coolest covers I had ever seen by Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson. Man I thought that adult Robin costume was so cool!

Inside we have the cover story "The Super-Crisis That Struck Earth-Two" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Sid Greene. In the yearly Justice League/Justice Society cross-over, there are four black spheres, life-forms from another universe, which are absorbed into the bodies of four humans of Earth-2, granting them super-powers but also turning them evil. United to battle them are the members of the Justice Society of America, including new member Robin, now an adult crimefighter.

He and Wildcat team up against Martin Baxter, an embittered former ballplayer intent on destroying sports arenas, Wonder Woman battles Claire Morton, a stenographer with a love for gems, Hawkman and Mr. Terrific battle Horace Rowland, businessman-turned-criminal, and Hourman fights Chinese bandit How Chu.

When the JSA is defeated, late arrival Johnny Thunder sends his magic Thunderbolt after the villains, but he too meets defeat. Johnny then summons members of the Justice League of Earth-1 for aid, only to find them engaged in a similar case with no results.Reprinted in the Justice League of America Archives Vol. 7 HC.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Summer Season is Upon Us

With new seasons of Big Love on HBO and Rescue Me on FX and the first season of David Milch's John From Cincinatti on HBO, the summer season for adult shows is kicking off for real this week.

Monday, June 11, 2007

All This and World War I

Another of the postcards my mother's Uncle Bross purchased while serving in WWI. Looks like they had as much body armor back then as our guys in Iraq got when we invaded.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Save Veronica Mars

The Save Veronica Mars Campaign is in full swing. Taking inspiration from the successful Nuts for Jericho campaign, the SVM people are shipping Mars Bars to the CW. In fact, they are claiming to have bought up every Mars Bar in the United States and are now working on amassing marshmallows to send in their stead.

To get the products to the CW before the June 15th deadline (that is when the CW's contract with Kirsten Bell ends), they will have to ship the candy by tomorrow, so that does not leave them much time. But, regardless of the time restriction, I don't think the SVM campaign has much of a chance. I love Veronica Mars, but this show has had every opportunity to find an audience and it just hasn't happened. In fact each year it has garnered less and less viewers.

The other problem is that in the third season the quality of the writing took a tumble. Some of that was the result of the funky half-assed commitment by the CW which required three smaller mysteries instead of one large season-long arc, but it could have and should have been handled better by Rob Thomas.

Still, I wish the Save Veronica Mars people all the best. I would love to see the show, or the proposed Veronica at the FBI show, get a full 23 episode commitment by someone, even if it is not the CW. In fact, I would prefer it be someone like NBC, who needs all the help they can get and who could give Veronica Mars the boost it really deserves.

Yo! Yogurt!

Last weekend my wife and I were snooping around Claremont Village, trying to determine when the Laemmle Theater will be opening (a quick look online tells me it's July 27th) when we spotted a Kiwiberri yogurt shop. We had been reading about Pinkberry yogurt for a few months now in the L.A. Times and we knew that Kiwiberri was a Pinkberry clone, so we decided to go see what all the hoopla was about.

It's about Korean-style yogurt, which at Pinkberry, has had people lining up around the block in Beverly Hills to get their yogurt fix. How bad are the cravings? Well, the yogurt is regularly referred to as "CrackBerry" due to its addictive qualities. This we had to try.

Kiwiberri offers two type of yogurt, regular and green tea. My wife ordered a small green tea with tiny rice cakes, blackberries and walnuts. I ordered a large regular with small pineapple and watermelon cubes and walnuts. We took our cups outside, found a spot in the neighborhood to sit and took our first bites.

It was tart, almost sour but with a sweet aftertaste. I didn't hate it, but come on? Crackberry? I took another bite and it was the same as the first, only my tongue was getting used to the sweet and sour jostling for position in my mouth; not too bad. By the fifth or sixth bite I was loving it and so was my wife. A day doesn't go by that I don't think of that yogurt and want some more. If it was closer I think we would be there every day. Eat this stuff at your own risk!

Someday I will find a Pinkberry without a long line around it and I'll compare the tastes. Until then I will be happy with what I can get without having to drive 40 miles to get it.

The Specter of Doubt

"Listen, Phil, if you're going to kill me then kill me. But don't fuck with my ears, I need them."

-John Lennon to Phil Specter after Specter shot off a round during the recording of Lennon's 'Rock And Roll' album

It's Getting Weller All The Time!

The topic is bourbon, one of my favorite things in life. I mentioned last time out that my love of bourbon started when my brother Jack bought me a bottle of bourbon one Christmas. It was a registered bottle of Old Weller Antique 107 proof bourbon. He bought it for me well over 20 years ago and I still have the bottle. No, there is nothing in it, but with its red velvet sack and its gold spider-webbed bottle I just can't seem to part with it. It hooked me on bourbon.

Wine Enthusiast gives Antique a rating or 88, declaring it, "A medium amber bourbon, bearing a sweetish note with some unusual floral notes and a string dash of vanilla. The body is big and the palate is very well balanced, flirting between sweet honeyed fruit notes, a strong vanilla undertone and some sharp spicy tones; the finish is long and spicy.

A very well crafted whiskey. Sip it at room temperature with a little spring water or over ice."

Well, after my Origine fiasco, I decided to get back to the basics that I knew worked for me and that meant Weller. Before I tossed money at Origine I had previously purchased a bottle of W. L. Weller bourbon, the namesake of the company that makes Old Weller. I have found all of the Weller bourbons harder to find than other brands and locally I've only found them at Bevmo! (Beverages and More) and that is where I found W. L. Weller Centennial.

This is just one amazing drink. Wine Enthusiast give it a rating of 97! Of it they say...
An intensely complex, fruity nose switches among vanilla, dried fruits and just a dash of mixed spices. The body is huge and the palate follows along the line of the nose with an abundance of rich vanilla, a basketful of lush fruits and a wonderful butterscotch backdrop. The finish is long and incredibly sophisticated and understated.
What I have found is a bourbon that literally sends a chill running down my spine and across my back with the very first sip. I'm not kidding; this 10-Year-old bourbon is almost hallucinogenic and so damn smooth and flavorful that it would be a crime to mix this with anything. At $30 a bottle, I think I've been spoiled; follow this link if you'd like to be spoiled too!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

All This and World War I

Another of the postcards my mother's Uncle Bross purchased while serving in WWI. The uniforms are sure different than today, but the dichotomy of "civilized" soldiers with modern weapons of war marching past "old world" peasants with their ox-carts hasn't changed much.

The Origine of the Species

Ever since my brother Jack bought me my first registered bottle of bourbon I have been a bourbon man. There is just something about the beautiful rich golden brown color and the sweet, butterscotchy taste of good bourbon that nothing else compares to. I never mix bourbon with anything (well, almost never); not soda, not water, not ice. I only drink it "neat" and I prefer it to just about any other alcohol.

My one exception to this "neat" rule is Turkey Gobblers, which has fast become a seasonal requirement at Casa del Keller. One shot Wild Turkey 101 in a champagne glass with a stick of cinnamon and the rest of the glass filled with unfiltered apple cider

I am always on the look out for a great, reasonably-priced bourbon. A month or so back I was at Albertson's getting groceries when I hit the liquor department with bourbon on the brain. That is when I found Origine. Just look at that bottle; it looks like the real deal, but I should have looked closer. What would normally be a barrel number is multiple still numbers. Had I looked closer I would have noticed that, but at $24 a bottle I knew it wouldn't be swill. Boy was I wrong.

This is the wost stuff I have ever tasted. That said I should let you know that my wife loves it. That is not said to disparage my wife's taste. There are two kinds of whiskey people in the world: those who love bourbon and those who love scotch. My wife has no love for bourbon, but much affection for scotch. I'm just he opposite and after a few sips of Origine it began to dawn on me that it didn't taste like bourbon at all, so I asked my wife to taste it. She declared it to be a fairly drinkable scotch; fine for her but not so great when you are looking for bourbon.

A quick trip on-line revealed that I was not the only bourbon lover who found Origine to be swill of the highest order. One reviewer said they only paid $12 for a bottle and thought it was still over-priced. Then I came upon the truth about Origine: it is the Albertson's house brand of bourbon. The label states this nowhere, for if it did, I doubt they would sell much of the stuff.

Next time out I'll tell you about a better bourbon experience I had more recently.

Friday, June 08, 2007

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- G.I. Combat #125

G.I. Combat #125 (On Sale: June 8, 1967) has a nice and dramatic, if not overly colorful cover by Russ Heath.

Inside we have "Stay Alive -- Until Dark" by Robert Kanigher and Russ Heath featuring the Haunted Tank. Going just by the title this story sounds like a "reversed ticking clock."

A "ticking clock" is a plot device, used mostly in screenplays, to add tension and suspense to a story. Sometimes it is manifested in an actual "ticking clock," usually attached to a bomb and usuallly displayed in a red LED of ever decreasing numbers. The tension builds as the point of something bad happening rapidly approaches (the bomb is going to go off, the bad guys are going to ride into town at High Noon, etc.). A "reversed ticking clock" is just the opposite: bad things will continue to happen until a specific event occurs. In 3:10 To Yuma for example (remake starring Christian Bale and Russell Crowe to arrive in October), rancher Dan Evans holding outlaw Ben Wade had to survive being attacked by Wade's gang until the 3:10 train to Yuma came into town. "Stay Alive -- Until Dark" sounds a lot like that.

The backup story is "Clay Pigeon Sub," a reprint from Our Army At War #47 by Bob Haney and Russ Heath.

Edited by Robert Kanigher.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Tortoise

Remember the tale of the hare and the tortoise? The hare was a confident bragger, but ended up losing the big race to the tortoise, who was slow but smart? Well, in the realm of automobiles, I have found the tortoise, who in this case is Smart, but slow.

I went last week and test drove the Smart Fortwo, so named because it is definitely a car for only two people. I found a car that lived up to both its name and its brand, but unfortunately, also lived up to the properties of that famous tortoise.

People lined up for an opportunity to try out this diminutive Mercedes, which will not be on sale in the United States till early next year. I guess we all wanted to know what can you buy for $12,000. OK, no one is actually going to get one for that little, you will want all the extras and some of the more expensive ($14,000-17,000) models offer some pretty cool features that many will find attractive.

The Smart Fortwo reminded me of the Sprite. When I was a kid I built and flew model rockets. The race to the moon was in full swing and model rockets were really popular. The first model that almost everyone built was called the Sprite. The Sprite was the smallest rocket you could build; basically an engine with fins and a nosecone.

The Smart Fortwo is like that. It is basically a reinforced crash cage with an engine. I've seen some pretty spectacular crash tests with the Fortwo and it is amazing how little damage gets transferred inside of that cage.

One of the interesting concepts in this car is that only a small amount of the cage frame (in either black or gray) is visible as part of the exterior of the car. The rest of the car is clad in a soft, dent-resistant plastic (like Saturns used to be) of one color or another. The plastic panels are all removable and an extra set can be purchased for around $850, but the extra set can be of a different color, so you can for example, take your yellow car and turn it into a blue car when the mood suits you.

What I found really surprising about the Fortwo was the amount of room inside for the two occupants. I watched two guys, one six-five and the other six-three get in one and sit, what they called, comfortably. Plenty of leg-room, just enough head-room and enough distance between the two bucket seats that they did not bump arms. There was enough room behind the liftback to put some golf clubs or a few bags of groceries, but I wouldn't want to go camping in this thing. The dashboard controls are plain and simple, nothing fancy, just utilitarian. You can get upgraded sound, though I found nothing wrong with the sound in the model I drove.

The real problem with the car is the tortoise aspect. It seemed very slow. Now this might have been because they packed us in pretty close during the test drive. I never got much space between me and the guy in front of me, nor could I hang back much because of the guy behind me. But when I tried to jump on the accelerator, the car balked and sputtered a bit and then started to take off. It might have had decent acceleration after that, but I kept closing on the guy in front of me who refused to put his foot down. They say it will top out at 90MPH. It only has a 70HP motor, but the car only weighs 1,600 lbs, so it doesn't need that much power to get it moving. Still, the jerky acceleration I experienced was enough to worry me.

On the plus side, the car is cute as hell, particularly the $14,000 Fourtwo Passion, with it's full length and width transparent roof made out of the same stuff they make jet fighter canopies out of, and the $17,000 Fortwo Passion Cabrio. I could see using a Fortwo to tool around town in, but I would not be much help if a friend needed to move.

Paris Does the Spring!

I'll take "Travesties of Justice" for 1,000 Alex!

Well, what do you expect when you have Republicans on TV night and day saying people who commit serious crimes should not have to serve time?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Getting Back in the Saddle

I did this piece this past weekend at Bill Stout's studio. It is not the best piece I have ever done, but for the first time in a long time, this was almost effortless. I'm not sure what happened, but at some point this weekend I just got real loose and things just started to flow.

It may have been that I did something I haven't done in years, which is I did one 10-minute piece in vine charcoal, which forces you to get very messy and expressive, dealing with blocks and forms rather than lines. I think that might have been the thing that freed me up and I plan on testing that out by starting with vine this weekend and see if I get an immediate charge out of it. I feel good.

Oh, and I must speak just a bit about the wonderful model this weekend. She had just perfect breasts and where I was sitting and the way the light flowed around them created these wonderful shapes and contours. She knew exactly what she was doing; she knew her strong points and she played to them in her poses. Just spectacular!

It's Official Now!

CBS announced today that is has reversed itself and renewed Jericho as a mid-season replacement. They will also be rerunning the entire first season during the summer on CBS. The "Nuts" have spoken!

All This and World War I

Another of the postcards my mother's Uncle Bross purchased while serving in WWI. Actually, bombs lighting up the night sky look just about the same now as they did then. Some things don't change much over time.

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Batman #194

Batman #194 (On Sale: June 6, 1967) has a wonderful cover by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson. No damn Go-Go Checks makes for plenty of room for Infantino to work his magic. Great work!

We start off with "The Blockbuster Goes Bat-Mad" by Gardner Fox, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella. Mark Desmond formerly known as Blockbuster has reformed and taken a job as a handyman at the Wayne Foundation. During a trip to a department store, Mark seems a Batman display which sets off an uncontrollable fit of anger. Mark soon reverts to his Blockbuster persona and goes on a rampage against anything and everything connected to Batman.

Batman is called to stop Blockbuster. In the past, Mark has calmed down when Bruce Wayne is present, so Batman unmasks. This time the strategy fails, and Blockbuster continues his rampage.

We end with "The Problem of the Proxy Paintings" also by Gardner Fox, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella. Martin Tellman contacts his friends in the Mystery Analysts club to help solve a mystery in which he possesses authentic paintings worth thousands of dollars instead of worthless copies. With Batman's help the Analysts discover that Tellman's wealthy friend Reginald Stonefellow switched the paintings. He gave Tellman the paintings as a gift, but Tellman wouldn't accept them if he didn't use the ruse.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Yosemite - Part IV

The last time we went to Yosemite we stopped by the Visitor's Center one evening a saw a spectacular show: Conversation with a Tramp: An Evening with John Muir.

This production has been presented every summer in Yosemite National Park since 1983 and depicts preservationist John Muir's last battle to save the Hetch Hetchy Valley, a part of the Yosemite National Park that the city of San Francisco looked on as the perfect solution to their need for water. The city wanted to build a dam and flood the valley, what Muir called "a little Yosemite." It's an amazing one-man show by actor/writer Lee Stetson.

As the audience awaits the fate of the Hetch Hetchy, Sierra Club founder Muir relates a number of stories of his many wilderness trips, including a wondrous piece about Muir riding a tree through a massive windstorm. The show is funny and poignant and makes you appreciate the magical beauty of Yosemite and Muir's efforts to preserve that majestic place for us all to enjoy.

If you get to Yosemite, don't even think about leaving without seeing at least one of the shows Mr. Stetson puts one (there are now four of them). They are the inspired work of a man possessed and when you look at the beauty around you, you know what it is that possesses him and of course, what possessed John Muir.
"A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease."
-John Muir

This IS Nuts!

TV Guide is reporting that...
Multiple sources are telling me that CBS is thisclose to sealing a deal to bring Jericho back for at least eight episodes, possibly at mid-season.

My spies caution that this is in no way official, but it certainly sounds like it could be by day's end. It's now just a matter of signing the actors to new deals and, according to one insider, finding a new soundstage to house the show's sets.

To say this would be a huge victory for crazy TV fans everywhere would be the understatement of the frakkin' millennium.
Wow! The nuts just might have paid off!

What's that on the Horizon?

It looks like a presidential pardon!

Just in the nick of time too!

Libby gets 2-1/2 years, but if you think he will actually serve them there is a bridge I can get you a great deal on.

Or maybe Scooter will ask for the cell next ot Paris Hilton.