Friday, August 31, 2007

I'm Glad Global Warming is Just a Liberal Lie

Otherwise I might be worried by the 107F temperatures here today and tomorrow. Happy to know this is just a fluke and not the start of a pattern.

It must be great to be Republican and so blissfully ignorant of any uncomfortable truths.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Time Waits for No Man

The Los Angeles Times reported today that AT&T will be discontinuing the "Time of Day" service as of September 17th. Their reason is that, "In today's world, there are just too many other ways to get this information. You can look at your cellphone or your computer. You no longer have to pick up the telephone."

Yeah, I guess so. I mean, I haven't used the service in decades, but I remember using it all the time when I was a kid. It was one of the first cool things my brother Keith showed me how to do. For those in the area, the number is 853-1212. I think when I was little you only had to dial the 31212, but back then all local calls were only five digits (Yeesh, am I old!).

Even still, and this may sound real silly, but I'm gonna miss that service I never use. It just feels like another part of my childhood has died, like slide rules and Neru jackets.

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Strange Adventures #205

Strange Adventures #205 (On Sale: August 29, 1967) is a classic masterpiece, the introduction of Arnold Drake's Deadman in a chilling and brilliant cover by Carmine Infantino and George Roussos, featuring what Drake called, "the best bit of writing I ever did," the caption:

"This man who was just murdered is our hero! His story begins on minute later -- Introducing... Deadman"

Inside we have the wonderful "Who Has Been Lying in My Grave?" by Arnold Drake, Carmine Infantino and George Roussos. Boston Brand, a trapeze artist and minority owner of a circus, walks the circus grounds before his nightly performance as the aerialist Deadman. He discovers a local constable poking around the grounds and chases him away. He then discovers that Leary the barker is stealing from the box office. He also catches Heldrich the animal trainer getting drunk. He fires Heldrich, then heads to the big top.

After reaching the top of the trapeze, Boston is shot by a sniper with a hook for a right hand. He falls to his death. Then his astral form is met by Rama Kushna, a Hindu spirit goddess. Rama allows Boston to walk the Earth as a spirit until his killer is caught.

Boston, now truly a Deadman, begins the search for his killer by checking up on the circus performers. He discovers that he is invisible, but can temporarily take control of human bodies. While inhabiting the body of Tiny the strongman, Deadman discovers Heldrich and Ramsey, the constable, making a drug deal. Deadman stops the crooks, then resumes the search for the killer, the Hook. Reprinted in Brave and the Bold #97, DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #5 and Deadman #1.

I came late to Deadman, as I hadn't really started collecting comics till next month. but once I found him I quickly found all the old issues and was simply blown away by the concept and the execution. As far as I'm concerned, this book marks the beginning of the Infantino reign at DC and the beginning of my golden age of comics. New ideas, new characters, new concepts were all coming to DC and this book was the first shot across the bow of the stodgy old DC. My copy of Strange Adventures #205 was in very good shape when I bought it, but is now tattered and ragged after a multitude of readings. This was simply one of the best comics I ever read.

Jack Miller takes over as Editor.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Rats Have Fled!

From Daily Kos, a list of departures from the Bush administration since November's elections:

1) Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense: GONE. Resigned November 8, 2006.
2) John R. Bolton, Ambassador to the United Nations: GONE. Resigned December 5, 2006.
3) Harriet E. Miers, White House Counsel: GONE. Resigned January 4, 2007.
4) Peter Wehner, White House Director of Strategic Initiatives: GONE. Resigned March 29, 2007.
5) Meghan O'Sullivan, Deputy National Security Adviser: GONE. Resigned April 2, 2007.
6) J.D. Crouch II, Deputy National Security Adviser: GONE. Resigned May 4, 2007.
7) Sara M. Taylor, White House Director of Political Affairs: GONE. Resigned Late May, 2007.
8) Dan Bartlett, White House Counselor: GONE. Resigned June 2, 2007.
9) Rob Portman, OMB Director: GONE. Resigned June 19, 2007.
10) KARL FREAKIN' ROVE, Prince of Darkness: GONE. Resignation effective August 31, 2007.
11) Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General: Resignation effective September 17, 2007.

And from comes a list of Justice Department Resignations:

1) Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, today.
2) Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty announced his resignation May 14th.
3) Acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer (the Department's #3) announced that he was withdrawing his nomination for the position June 22nd.
4) Kyle Sampson, Gonzales' chief of staff, resigned March 13th.
5) Department White House liaison Monica Goodling resigned April 6th.
6) Michael Elston, McNulty's chief of staff, resigned June 15th.
7) Executive Director of the Executive Office of United States Attorneys Michael Battle, announced his resignation in mid-February.
8) Bradley Schlozman, an attorney in the Counsel to the Director staff at the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, formerly the U.S. attorney for Kansas City and a former acting assistant attorney for the Civil Rights Division, resigned mid August.
9) Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Wan Kim was another notable resignation (on August 23rd), although Kim's troubles were unrelated to the firings scandal.

Litmus Test for Congress

No recesses until there is a new Attorney General, no matter how long it takes and anyone involved with the debacle that is Homeland Security should not even be considered.

Litmus Test for New AG

1. To what have you sworn allegiance to uphold: the president or the constitution?
2. Where does the right to executive privilege end?
3. Would you prosecute members and ex-members of the president's cabinet for obstruction of justice?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Katrina: A Disaster Still Happening

Associated Press Editor and New Orleans native Brian Schwaner looks at the disgraceful state of the governments assistance to the City of New Orleans and gives this warning to the rest of America, "The next time, it could be your town." While our clueless leader wastes a trillion dollars in Iraq for absolutely nothing, a great American city is dying. There are not enough levels in hell to cover the sins of George Bush and his minions of perpetual war profiteering.

In The Shadow of the Moon

We saw the trailer for In The Shadow of the Moon last night for the second time in as many weeks and man, does it speak to me. It might not be the same if you are younger than I am and don't remember those times, but it was a time where one act could bring the world together, in awe and in pride. I watched every Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launch and recovery on TV as a child. My mother made sure I did, keeping me out of school on those days. She said it was more important to watch history being made than to learn of history already past. All of these launches were historic, but Apollo 11 was something else entirely. It was something that transcended borders; it wasn't about the feat of a country or a people, it was a feat for the whole planet.

I don't know how well this Ron Howard produced film will be received, but I sure plan on seeing it. Take a look at the trailer and you might plan on doing the same, and you might find yourself looking back longingly at a time when America stood for something other than greed and aggression; a time when we really were the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The Best Years of His Life?

Bill Dwyre has written a wonderful article for the Los Angeles Times on Andre Agassi. It is a year later, a year since Andre left the tennis court at the US Open to the roar of 23,000. For Agassi, it has been a year well spent.

When I think back through the years to the young, rash, egotistical punk that Agassi first personified on the court, his transformation into this selfless, caring, giving man is all the more impressive. If you have never heard of the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy and the amazing work it does for underprivileged children, you should read this article. Even if you know of Andre's school, I think there is enough in this story that you might not have known, to make reading it worth your time.

There is no doubt that Andre achieved greatness on the tennis courts of the world, energizing the game like no other in decades. Yet it appears that it will be in a wholly different arena where Andre will prove the measure of a man, and where his best will be put on display. I was a fan of Andre Agassi the tennis player; I'm in awe of Andre Agassi the man.

Friday, August 24, 2007

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Girls' Romances #128

Girls' Romances #128 (On Sale: August 24, 1967) has an interesting cover by Jay Scott Pike.

Inside we begin with "I Wish I Could Love You" by persons unknown, followed by "Don't Stop Loving Me" a reprint from Secret Hearts #69 by Arthur Peddy and Bernard Sachs. Lastly is our cover story, continued from last issue: "We'll Never Meet Again Part II" drawn by Jay Scott Pike.

As usual we have not a lot of detail in the romance books. However, there is something I find interesting about this particular book.

The "arms held back, breasts pushed forward" shot utilized on this cover was a popular one over the years. Check out this beautiful Neal Adams All-Star Western cover for another example. In the interior of this book the wonderful and never forgotten Gray Morrow did another version of this scene which also prominently featured an incredible thrusting chest.

Edited by Barbara Friedlander.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

15 Minutes of Fame, 82 Minutes of jail

OK, they say these are normal guidelines, but I still can't help feeling that if I was caught driving down the freeway in the wrong direction and high as a fucking kite, that I would have to spend more than 82 minutes in jail. I mean, this isn't just a DUI, this is reckless endangerment of anyone unfortunate enough to live or be visiting the same town as this little tramp.

Something seems really wrong here, really wrong.

Faking Astral Projection?

Researchers in England and Switzerland have been working on ways to confuse the sensory signals received by the brain allowing people to seemingly watch themselves from a detached location. It all has to do with one's feeling of "self," much as my brother Jack explained in the series I did here on astral projection. The researchers are using head-mounted video displays to fake the brain into thinking its "self" is watching itself, as different tactile tricks are played to enhance the experience of being "out of body." Most interesting.


This is another recent pastel piece I did. Certainly a different subject matter for me, but one that I found interesting. This was done using hard and soft pastels on gray Mi-Teintes paper. I had a lot of fun working the smoke field in the background and the mass of gear the men are wearing provided a number of different textures to try and capture. There is just something I find very appealing in laying down the impressionistic slashes of color that make up their heavy coats. This one was just a heck of a lot of fun to paint.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Saying Goodbye to a Breakthrough

I'm in the slow process of moving my home office from its current location to a larger room across the hallway. In doing so I am very slowly getting rid of stuff I should have discarded years ago, but to which, due to some odd pack rat gene, I have heretofore been unable to give to old "heave ho." Among the things I have been parting with have been old computers. You might ask, "How many old computers could you have?" The answer is, "a lot."

I think I have now lightened my load by at least nine computers and maybe as many as eleven, I have lost track you see. But I do know that I took three to the Goodwill Reclamation Center this afternoon (along with a scanner). Among the discards today were two computers I actually bought as full-blown systems, which is rare for me. One was a Dell Dimension 120 (yep, 120MHz) that I paid $4,500 for in 1995 when it was new. This system also had on it something that at one time was a sign of pure status on my part, something that you would not be able to get $20 for today but which cost me $1,000 in 1995. It was a Pinnacle Micro RCD-202 CD-ROM Writer and I was the only person I knew for years who had one.

Now $1,000 might seem like a lot of money for a CD burner and it was, but the year before, when the RCD-202 had first come out it costs $3,995, so $1,000 was a huge drop in the price. The RCD-202 was a 1X burner, meaning it was slow and could take literally hours to burn a CD; an hours worth of music took an hour to burn. Oh, and the blank CDs were made out of gold and cost between $3-$14 a piece.

Why did I buy it? Well, I had been "into" CDs for a long time and was shocked that I could burn one in my home. In 1986 when I worked at EDS I was in charge of a group of programmers who were developing a bevy of PC-based CD products under the umbrella name of Opti/Search. Making CDs in 1986 was expensive. It took a $200,000 dedicated hardware/software system to get enough memory to create a CD and its index. You downloaded to the dedicated system through tapes the information you wanted on the CD and then the system processed the data and spit out a final tape of the CD image. You then got in line at one of the three labs on the planet that could master a CD with your tape and $10,000. In one to three months they sent you a master CD.

By the time I left EDS on December 31, 1989 you could get a master made overnight for $1,000. Five years later for $1,000 I could make my own CDs on my own PC without any dedicated hardware or software. I bought the damn thing because it was a breakthrough.

Anticipating 3:10 to Yuma

The Los Angeles Times has an article today on the script for the forthcoming western remake, 3:10 to Yuma. I remember seeing this film as a child, watching it on TV with my father and how struck with it I was even then. I saw it again just about six months ago and it held up to my memory very well.

The original 3:10 to Yuma starred Glenn Ford and Van Heflin. Ford played a bad guy, real bad guy. He and his gang rob stage coaches and have a tendency to kill people in the process. Ford's Ben Wade is captured in a small town and rancher Dan Evans, Van Heflin, is persuaded to take Wade in secret to the nearest town with a railway station to await the 3:10 train to the court at Yuma. Ford's gang is out to free their leader and all Heflin has to do is keep a hold of Ford until the train arrives.

This is a unique twist on the classic "ticking clock" device that is used in most films to generate suspence. Usually a ticking clock is something to avoid. One classic example of a ticking clock is a bomb with the bright red LED displays that countdown to detonation. The protagonist has to disarm the bomb or leave the area before the LED gets down to 0:00. Another example would be the mad rush in Back to the Future to get everything set up before the lightning strike the town watchtower with enough energy to send Marty McFly back to the future. In 3:10 to Yuma, you want the clock to keep ticking, you want it to get to 3:10 because with 3:10 comes safety.

3:10 to Yuma was based on the novel of the same name by the great Elmore Leonard, and I am not the only one who appreciated it, as the remake opening in two weeks clearly shows. Ford's Ben Wade will be played by Russell Crowe and Heflin's Dan Evans is being created by Christian Bale. I can't wait to see what they do with this cool little story.

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Metal Men #28

Metal Men #28 (On Sale: August 22, 1967) features a Ross Andru and Mike Esposito cover.

"You Can't Trust a Robot" is by Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. The Metal Men stop a gang of bandits known as the Leopard Mask Gang. The gang leader escapes only to visit Doc's lab and steal a group of evil Metal Men, which Doc had developed for army research. Doc tries to stop the crook, but is struck in the head.

The Metal Men return to the lab just as the villain is leaving. They are defeated by their evil duplicates. Doc has amnesia, so Tina stays behind while her teammates split up to search for the evil robots.

This week Mark Evanier has a fascinating item on his blog, News From Me, regarding the creation of the Metal Men and the strange habits of their creator, Robert Kanigher. Worthwhile reading for sure!

Edited by Robert Kanigher.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


That's what I am feeling regarding the news that noted ex Air America co-host Janeane Garofalo is joining Fox's right-wing free-for-all 24. I stopped watching the show this season when it began looking more and more like a weekly advertisement for the excesses of the Patriot Act.

So I'm conflicted. Janeane I want to support, but 24 creator Joel Surnow is a self-proclaimed "right-wing nut job" and I have zero compunction to support him. For that matter I have no desire to support any show on Fox and I'm dong pretty good at avoiding the network all together. This will make it marginally more difficult for me.

Let's Put This One To Rest Once and For All

LiveScience.Com is reporting on a new concept for a time machine that could possibly enable someone in the future to travel into the past. They say that unlike past ideas for time machines, this new concept does not require exotic, theoretical forms of matter in order to work. However, I think it is high time we put this time travel myth to rest once and for all. We have all the evidence we need that time travel will never happen and the proof is pretty compelling.

Just look around at how messed up the world is. If time travel was possible, someone from the future would have come back to the past and seen to it that that little piece of shit George Bush would never have been born thus sparing the world the tragedy his leadership has heaped upon the world.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Veronica Mars on Heroes

Sort of anyway. The Associated Press reported today that Kristen Bell will guest-star in a multi-episode arc beginning in October on NBC's Heroes. You can read about it here. I for one will be watching.

Even more exciting is that she will be starring as the title character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a big-screen comedy being produced by Judd Apatow, who did The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and the outrageously funny Superbad!


This is my latest pastel painting; a Flamenco dancer at a festival. I thought the vibrant colors lent themselves to pastel over any other medium and the uncontrolled action of the skirt in motion was made for the impressionistic aspect of pastel sticks. Unlike most of my other pastel paintings, this one is done solely with my hard Nupastel sticks.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Manu E Manu

I was watching the Henry Rollins Show on IFC this week and his musical guest was Manu Chao. I had never heard of Manu Chao and since this was, according to Rollins, Manu's first appearance on American TV, I'm probably not alone.

What I heard was astounding. I can't quite describe exactly what type of music Manu and his band, Radio Bemba Sound System, play other than to say it is some form of punk, reggae, Latin, ska, rock. I can say though that it was thoroughly enjoyable.

Manu sings in French, Spanish, Arabic, Galician, Portuguese, English, and Wolof, often mixing them in the same song. Whatever you call this, I found it infectious. I checked out YouTube and found a number of great videos of Manu Chao; this is one of my favorite:

Friday, August 17, 2007

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Superboy #142

Superboy #142 (On Sale: August 17, 1967) sports a cover by Curt Swan and George Klein. Purple Gorilla Alert! Purple Gorilla Alert!

"Superboy Goes Ape" is written by E. Nelson Bridwell, penciled by George Papp and inked by Frank Springer. Superboy is exposed to Red Kryptonite. This time he is transformed into a monkey and is forced to work for an organ grinder. Lana buys a license for him and gains ownership. She intends to expose Superboy's secret identity, but before she can act a secondary effect of the Red Kryptonite causes Superboy to grow into a giant ape that menaces Smallville.

Miles away, Beppo the Super-Monkey sees Superboy with his super-vision. He comes to fight the super-ape, but is also exposed to the same piece of Red Kryptonite. Beppo changes into a double of Superboy possessing his intelligence too.

The second Superboy story, "The Shyest Boy in Town" is a reprint from Superboy #80 by Robert Bernstein and John Sikela. The school psychologist is worried about Clark Kent’s shy behavior, so she encourages the students and teachers to help build Clark’s confidence. Clark, wanting to maintain his shy personality to protect his dual identity, sabotages the attempts made to bolster his confidence.

After the students enlist Superboy to aid them with their campaign to help Clark, Clark shows up at school a changed person. He acts overconfident and downright rude to his fellow students. They realize that they miss the old Clark and despise his new personality.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

"You're Doing a Heck of a Job!" - Part Deux

Does it surprise anyone that the man you see on TV daily at the Crandall Canyon coal mine in Utah, the man in charge of mine safety is another "Brownie," as in, "You're doing a heck of a job there, Brownie?" Richard Stickler is a former coal industry executive that President Shit-for-Brains nominated twice unsuccessfully to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration. He was so vile, so obviously unqualified that not even the GOP-controlled Senate would not vote to approve the nomination. So, SFB, being the SFB that he is, waited till congress was on vacation and resorted to a recess appointment for Stickler, giving him a job congress said he should not have.

Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he "didn't think Mr. Stickler was the right man for the job." Another Pennsylvania Republican, Rick Santorum, also told the paper he was "disappointed" the White House had not let senators debate and vote on the nomination.

In the wake of the January 2006 Sago mine disaster in West Virginia, senators from both sides of the aisle expressed concern that Stickler was not the right person to combat climbing death rates in the nation's mines.

And why were the GOP seators worried about placing a "mine profit over saftey" executive in charge of the MSHA? According to USA Today, "Coal mining deaths soared to a 10-year high in 2006, reversing an 80-year trend of steadily falling fatalities and raising safety concerns as coal production reaches record levels.

"Forty-seven miners died last year, more than double the 22 killed in 2005 and matching the number in 1995. The recent spike is the biggest percentage increase in 107 years, according to federal records dating to 1900."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Star Spangled War Stories #135

Star Spangled War Stories #135 (On Sale: August 15, 1967) has another great Russ Heath "War That Time Forgot" cover, botched by some really poor coloring and a logo that is just a tad too large.

Inside we have "Save My Life and Kill Me" by Robert Kanigher and Russ Heath featuring "War That Time Forgot."

The backup story is "There's No One Left" is by Bill Finger, Bob Forgione and Jack Abel and reprinted from G.I. Combat #57.

Edited by Robert Kanigher.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

John Returning to Cincinnati?

There is a God; HBO has cancelled the you're-never-going-to-figure-out-what-is-going-on John From Cincinnati. Maybe Milch can get back to those two Deadwood movies now. During the entire run of John From Cincinnati I have only met one person who enjoyed the show and only three or four who made it past the first three episodes. One of those was my son Brian and even he is glad to see the show go.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bourne to Download

My son was really jazzed to see the The Bourne Ultimatum after my wife and I saw it last week and gushed about it. "But Brian, you haven't seen the first two Bourne films. You should really see those first."

"Make it happen Dad" was the challenge from my son.

So I had my TiVo look for the first two Bourne films. Nope. They are not playing.

So I checked pay-per-view. Nope, not there either.

So I checked VOD (Video On Demand). Nah, not there either.

In desperation I went to the local video store. Not a winner there either; both films checked out or lost.

Lets, see; what does that leave left?

Now really desperate I tried the Amazon Unbox for TiVo link that recently appeared on my TiVo. This was desperation because I had signed up for Amazon Unbox for TiVo when it first came out and though I ordered two films, I never got them. Maybe I should back up and explain just exactly what is Amazon Unbox for TiVo.

Amazon Unbox for TiVo allows you to go to and select videos to have downloaded to your TiVo. You can rent the video or buy it, either way it is downloaded directly to your TiVo where you can play it like any show your TiVo records.

If you rent the video, it is downloaded to your TiVo where it will stay indefinitely as long as you don't view it. It will automatically delete from your TiVo 24 hours after you first start watching it. So this works the same way as a 24-hour rental, except you can rent it today and not view it for a week or more.

If you buy the video, it is also downloaded to your TiVo, only you determine when it is deleted. But you don't have to keep it on your TiVo, eating up hard drive space. You can delete it and download it again and again from Amazon; they keep a permanent record of download videos you buy from them. Now it is not quite as easy as owning a DVD; it takes a few hours to download a full movie and you get the movie only (there are no DVD extras). On the other hand, you have to wait days for NetFlix to send you the movie you want to see while Unbox can do it in a few hours. Now that we have digressed to give you Unbox background, lets get back to our story!

So, like I was saying, I had signed up for Amazon Unbox for TiVo, and though the service said I had received two videos I had requested though, I had actually received neither. I had tried Amazon technical support, but they were of no real help; the issue was never resolved and I just gave up on Unbox as an unworkable technology.

Then, a month or two ago the TiVoCast link on my Find Programming menu changed into a "Download movies or TV" link and I noticed that Amazon Unbox for TiVo was now listed under that menu. I checked it out and found that I had access to a limited number of videos (though I can access more under the TiVo Swivel Search feature), two of which were The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy. Figuring I had nothing to lose I told TiVo to download them both (and what a deal at $.99 each!). I was pleasantly surprised when a few minutes later The Bourne Identity started to download.

When I checked the next morning, both films were on my TiVo and this weekend has been a Bourne Festival at Casa de Keller. The quality of the films was as good or better than the highest quality our TiVo normally records at. I am very pleased with how it all worked and have once again contacted Amazon tech support to see if we can get it working when initiated from the Amazon end, not just the TiVo end. I'm hoping this all works out because, so far, I really like what I can do with this service.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Where is the Pan Am Space Clipper When You Need It?

In Stanley Kubrick's groundbreaking 2001: A Space Odyssey, you took the Pan Am Space Clipper into orbit and then on to the space station. There you could stay at the Howard Johnson's. This is how it was supposed to be and we should have been there six years ago.

As visualized by master special effects guru Douglas Trumbell, the world of tomorrow (six years ago) showed space travel to be a fairly routine thing done in relative comfort. You would zip up to the space station through a major airline, spend the night in a room provided by a major hotel chain and them press on to one of the bases established on the lunar surface.

Well, we aren't there yet, but we are slowly making baby steps in that direction. First there is Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson's civilian spaceline that will launch from the Mojave Desert of California and later on from Spaceport America out in the New Mexico desert. Not the defunct Pan Am, but Virgin is a viable trans-Atlantic airline and now a viable US airline as well and will soon be the first sub-orbital spaceline in the world. $200,000 gets you a two and a half hour flight starting in 2009 or 2010 depending on the completion of the SpaceShipTwo fleet.

Now comes Galactic Suite, the world's first space hotel. Galactic Suite expects to open for business in 2012 and would cost $4 million for a three-day stay at the space hotel. The cost also includes a three-week stay at a "James Bond-style space camp on a tropical island."

These folks are supposedly spending $3 billion on the hotel and shuttle. If true, this is a mammoth private investment in space; much larger than anything before. Given that they do not have what appears to be a final tested design for their rocket/shuttle, 2012 seems a bit soon for these folks to be flying, but you never know. Huge sums of money have been known to move mountains in the past.

They estimate that there are 40,000 potential customers on the planet; I know you and I are not two of them, but some people appear to have a boatload of money to spend on a three-week vacation for one. A Pan Am space clipper sure would reduce the problems these folks are facing.

Friday, August 10, 2007

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Hawkman #22

Hawkman #22 (On Sale: August 10, 1967) features pretty cool cover by Dick Dillin and Charles Cuidera.

New editor George Kashdan brings in a whole new team for "Quoth the Falcon, 'Hawkman, Die'" which is by Bob Haney, Dick Dillin and Charles Cuidera. To allay Midway City panic about flying saucers and aliens among the population, Carter Hall agrees to appear on a TV panel show to discuss the matter. On the air, his face begins to melt revealing inhuman skin beneath, and he is chased from the studio as an alien. Changing to Hawkman, he tells Hawkgirl that someone in the makeup department put the chemicals on his face to simulate an alien complexion, and, knowing that they're now under suspicion, he sends her out of town, while armed vigilantes search the city for them.

In their absence, a winged criminal called the Falcon sends his army of birds to loot the city. A pigeon attacked by the criminal's birds makes its way to Hawkman, and tells him what's happening.

Hawkman returns to Midway City, and pickets the streets as Carter Hall, admitting his alien origin, while Hawkman appears in the sky above. Carter is arrested for disturbing the peace, which convinces the Falcon that he and Hawkman are not the same person. Then Hawkman attacks the criminal. Though the Falcon's lasers slice off his wings, Hawkman prevails, and the bird array is fought off by Hawkgirl with her own birds. They smash the Falcon's controlling device, and capture him.

Kashdan really makes some changes to the strip, some inadvertently. His mistakes are that Hawkman's hair is colored brown and Hawkgirl's name is misspelled Shierra in this story. The big change however is that Carter Hall is publicly revealed as an alien.

Edited by George Kashdan.

Some Good News From The Economist

An article in the latest issue of the conservative magazine The Economist paints a picture of widespread popular rejection of Republican ideology. Some key statistical points from the article include:

40% of Republicans think that Democrats will win the next presidential election, compared with only 12% of Democrats who think the reverse

Second quarter money to the Democratic presidential
contenders nearly doubled that given to the Republican contenders

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are vastly outraising the National Republican Senatorial Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee.

61% of Democrats are happy with our choices of candidates, while only 36% of Republicans can say the same

Young voters and Hispanic voters are trending overwhelmingly Democratic

Registered Democrats and Democratic-leaners are now 50% of the population, while registered Republicans and Republican-leaners only comprise 35%--a strong swing from an equal 43%-43% tie in 2002.
As far as I can see, it's all good news!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Did You Get Your Zucchini?

Lately my son Brian has been expanding his list of friends. This is a pretty natural thing that happens as you leave the world of high school behind and move out into the world of college and beyond. A week or so ago he told us how a new friend of his had invited him to Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night. Me, I had never heard of this holiday. It was last night; did you get yours?

When I first heard of this I assumed it was something Brian's new friend had made up, but I decided to look it up online and was surprised to find it really exists. They even have an eCard! According to (which has a long list of zucchini recipes), the holiday was established by Pennsylvanian Tom Roy. August 8th is a day that encourages sharing.

According to, "Experienced gardener's know that Zucchini is one of the most prolific plants in all of the gardening world. A single plant produces a seemingly endless supply of Zucchini. A small row of zucchini has the potential to end world hunger.

"By the time August arrives, gardeners are reaping far more zucchini than they can possibly use. They use it daily in an untold number of recipes, from soups and stews, to breads and dips. Still, the fruit matures on the vine faster than anyone can even pick it. Zucchini growers become desperate, as they try to give zucchini away to family, friends and everyone they encounter. By August, even non-gardeners have had enough. Everyone avoids you, with your arms laden with giveaway fruit.

"Desperate times calls for desperate measure. It's time to sneak over, under the cover of darkness, to your neighbors porch, and unload some zucchini."

Inspired by the "Submit an Entry" form in a copy of Chase's Calendar of Events, Roy and his wife, Ruth, have launched several creative holidays.

A few suggestions from Tom Roy's "Top 20 List for successful sneaking of Zucchini or otherwise ridding yourself of unwanted surplus summer squash:"

  • Carefully place a dozen or more zucchini in a large, sturdy black plastic trash bag, then add a couple layers of unwanted clothing. Drive to nearest Goodwill or Salvation Army, hand over bag to nearest volunteer. Politely refuse any offered receipt. Leave quickly.
  • Look for out-of-the-way places which have signs posted, "Clean Fill Wanted."
  • Under light of full moon, either stark naked or wearing full army camouflage, carrying a machete or any garden implement, run amuck in your zucchini patch, cutting and slashing. Be sure to thank Mother Nature for her bounty before and after this cathartic experience.
  • Buy a large roll of freezer paper--the kind that sub shops use. Then proceed to wrap each zucchini that has managed to grow to a foot or more in length. Next time your child has a fundraiser, send him or her out supplied with these phony subs. Tell child to drop them off with neighbors or relatives and leave quickly. It's advisable that a responsible adult hover nearby in a get-away car.
  • Gather all available plastic containers and freezer bags. Drink a vat of your favorite caffeinated beverage, in preparation for staying up 'round the clock to purée large quantities of zucchini. This can then be packaged neatly and artistically labeled: "For Zucchini Nut Bread Recipe." These packages can be freely given, along with copies of recipe, to anyone on your Christmas list.
I guess I don't live in a neighborhood with many zucchini growers, as we did not receive any last night. My son said they delivered about fifty packages, each adorned with a cute Happy Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night! note.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

All This and World War I

Another of the postcards my mother's Uncle Bross purchased while serving in WWI. Given that my entire family was from Louisiana, it is not too surprising that he has this post card. This one was actually mailed to my Mother's seven-year-old cousin Julia. The address is simply "Miss Julia LeBlanc, Lake Charles, La." It's been a long time since that was enough information to get a post card to the correct person.

Dream a Little Dream of... Who?

Over on the Tony board, Dave Potts forwarded a blog by Bob Harris where Bob related that after his doctor had prescribed him some new meds for a summer cold Bob had a dream involving Dick Cheney being his next-door neighbor when he was a teenager. This got me thinking about the strangest dream I ever had...

OK, I wasn't on meds, well it was the 70's so that isn't exactly true, but the most bizarre dream I remember having was one where I was being chased through a post-apocalyptic world of ruin by a frightening unknown apparition sporting a deadly blaster-type ray-gun. I still remember how terrifying it all was as I frantically tried to avoid the death-rays that followed me wherever I went. At one point I was trapped in a dead-end and had to back-track, getting closer to my pursuer than ever before. The figure came around a corner, raised the gun, aimed and fired. I leaped out of the line of fire and scampered away still being Betty White.

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Tales of the Unexpected #103

Tales of the Unexpected #103 (On Sale: August 8, 1967) has a cover by Bob Brown.

Inside we have "ABC to Disaster" drawn by Jack Abel and "The Unlucky Mr. Lucky" featuring the Green Glob, by France Herron and Bernard Baily. The final story is a reprint from House of Secrets #11, "The Guardian of the Past" drawn by Nick Cardy.

Edited by Jack Schiff

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Our Lesson for Today Children Is....

...Cheaters win!

Isn't baseball a glorious game?

I feel ill.

Bourne To Run

And jump and hide and shoot and drive like a maniac and quicken your pulse and bring sweat to your palms and grab you around the throat like a Teamster enforcer in a back alley, not letting you breathe! Jason Bourne is back and better than ever. Last year's reboot of the James Bond franchise was an attempt to play catch up, to do what Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) has been doing since the The Bourne Identity exploded on the screen in 2002.

Directed with frenetic kinetic energy by Paul Greengrass The Bourne Ultimatum throws you into a world of super espionage agents and governmental spy agencies that seem to have eyes everywhere. Into this world walks Jason Bourne, hero of the Robert Ludlum novels, an amnesiac super assassin of remarkable ability, marked for termination by the powers that created him. Employing many of the techniques he used in the Oscar-nominated United 93, Greengrass adds one more component to this world; you. Just as you felt you were on that doomed United flight on 9/11, you feel like you are standing right next to Bourne as objects crash and splinter around you, as bodies and bullets fly, as Jason Bourne twists and spins and ducks and jabs and kicks and punches.

During some fights he moves so quick you can't even see him; he meets five agents in a hallway and in a matter of six or seven seconds of you-can't-follow blinding action they all fall. The CIA watching from a camera see it that way too and everyone in the room is staring open-mouthed in shocked silence till someone says, "My god, that's Jason Bourne." The only criticism I have heard of the film is that Greengrass's style makes it hard to know what is going on, but that only happens when that is the effect he is trying to achieve. Normally Greengrass's intent is not to obscure, but rather to mimic the scatter-shot perceptual reality of physical conflict and in doing so pull you out of your seat and into the action. Greengrass films these elaborately choreographed fights with four and five cameras and cuts them together to great effect.

Matt Damon brings the humanity to Jason Bourne that binds the viewer to the film. You get no Bruce Willis or Daniel Craig style bare-chested macho heroics; Damon's body and demeanor seem almost at odds with the horrific split-second violence it can inflict. And of course, what ties all of the Bourne films together is his quest; to find the truth about who he is and how he came to be that way.

Bourne is not out to save the Nakatomi building or New York City or the world from a mad man's scheme, he is just searching for the truth. Interestingly, that makes the enemy in all of the Bourne films the bad men running rampant through the intelligence agencies of the United States. Maybe that is why the films strike such a chord with the American people. These are times when distrust of the government is at an almost all-time high.

Returning from previous Bourne films are Julia Stiles and the amazing Joan Allen as maybe the only people in the CIA who believe in Bourne. Add to these two series-newcomers David Stratham, Scott Glenn and Albert Finney and you have a pretty powerful, well-rounded cast. However, besides Damon there is really only one other star in this film; the world. London, Paris, Madrid, Tangiers, Oxford, Riga, Berlin and Washington, DC all play roles in The Bourne Ultimatum. There are a couple of chase scenes in Tangiers in the second act that take your breath away. One is a quiet cat-and-mouse stalking, the other an adrenalin-pumping frantic roof-top assault to your senses as Bourne races to elude the local police and stop an assassination.

As you are watching, don't forget to breathe!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Do Not Be Fooled

President Shit-For-Brains is now going around saying he is committed to tracking al-Qaida. The linked article specifically mentions "Bush has said before that he would order the U.S. to act inside the Muslim-majority country (Pakistan) if there were firm intelligence on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden or other terrorist leaders," but don't be fooled by this paper-thin attempt to improve the worst presidential poll ratings in history. To understand what SFB really thinks, just remember this March 13, 2002, press conference:
Q: But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

BUSH: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.
Several news organizations gave SFB credit for nonexistent "context" around the remark, as detailed at Media Matters For America, an indication of just how incomprehensible and indefensible are his words. So don't be fooled, if his approval rating wasn't in the basement, his interest in al-Qaida would be nil.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


For a few months now I have been working slowly on revamping the companion site to A Source of One and that is @ Source: The Art of Barry Keller. I've had this address for years but have not done much to keep it up to date. This is a real reboot of the site, with pretty much completely different content.

@Source will eventually be a more controlled display of my artwork, most now on display at Art Conspiracy. Take a look and tell me what you think. It is obviously still in its infancy, but it will eventually become the face I put forth on the Internet as an artist. Look for the content to grow rapidly and you can always find the link in the Sites of Interest listing to my right!

Victory In California!

California election officials have just cracked down on the onerous Diebold voting machine, limiting its use in California to one machine per polling place, effectively ending their ability to rig elections in the state. Now if we can just get the other states to follow suit we may actually have honest voting in this country again, something the Republicans have done everything in their power to stop from happening.

When the president of a company making voting machines says he will do anything he can to assure Republicans win elections, the machines made by that company should be junked. California didn't go so far as to junk all of them, but sure cut down the number of them that will ever be used here again.

Friday, August 03, 2007

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Falling In Love #94

Falling In Love #94 (On Sale: August 3, 1967) features a fairly nice Jay Scott Pike cover..

Inside we have "I Want to Think It Over" which is penciled by John Rosenberger, "The Only One for Me" penciled by Jack Sparling, "Pledge of Love" by Arthur Peddy and Bernard Sachs and cover-story "Her Last Chance for Romance" which is drawn by Jay Scott Pike.

I picked up the absolutely beautiful "The Pin-Up Art of Jay Scott Pike" at Comic-Con last week. You get to see a number of wonderful styles that Pike can employ in his depiction of very sexy women. A nice touch is that some of the paintings are accompanied by the model reference photo Pike used, so you can see how his style influences his art. A really nice, though short book available from Bud Plant and others

Edited by Jack Miller.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

All This and World War I

These turretless British tanks are sure strange looking! Another of the postcards my mother's Uncle Bross purchased while serving in WWI. These British tanks are pretty strange looking.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Comic-Con Thoughts

It is too big.

No really. The crowd, that for the past few years has shown up on Saturday, showed up on Thursday. Even though we had preregistered months in advance, my wife and I stood in a line in the hot sun for an hour and a half on Thursday to pick up our badges. It would have been longer if at some point during our wait they had not opened up the empty "on-site registration" line for preregistration as well. Piss-poor planning, piss-poor planning, piss-poor planning.

In years past they would mail out your badges to you and you could just walk in when you got there. My wife said they may have to look at ID now for security reasons. OK, anyone who did not go this year and wants to go next year will have to stand in line and show their ID, but people who have been going for years have shown their IDs enough times to warrant just sending their badges to them in the mail.

On Friday our shuttle driver had no idea where she was going. She was from San Bernardino, not San Diego and was only there for the convention, but she did not know the city at all. So, when she found it difficult to move into the correct turn lane near the convention center she instead drove us straight into the Marriott parking lot. Unfortunately for us, you cannot make the extremely sharp right turn from the Marriott to the convention center and so she had to take us back into the city, where we encountered a train and two trolleys. Our nine minute ride from our hotel to the convention center took 45 minutes.

Our hotel, the W, was very nice, but since I did not get on-line to book it till 15 minutes after the convention hotels opened, it was the only hotel still available. To get a reasonably-priced room you had to get onto the system within the first ten minutes. So my con hotel cost $400 a night. That sets me back $1,200 before we even set foot at the con. Gee, I wonder why I didn't spend a shitload on books this year?

Did I mention it was crowded?

Well, it was, every damn day. Except Saturday. For some reason, even though Saturday is historically the most congested day of the con, this year it was one of the lightest days, despite being just as sold out as every other day. Maybe people stayed away on Saturday to avoid the crowds.

Next time out I'll tell you what I liked this year (it's a small list).

Just Bear With Me

My latest pastel painting. I started this months ago but had no clue how to finish it, so I let it sit for months. I then fixed the work as an underpainting and applied a new top-coat of water-logged fur and icy froth. I'm pleased with the outcome.

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Atom #33

Atom #33 (On Sale: August 1, 1967) has a cool cover by Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson. I never did trust a praying mantis after seeing this cover!

Inside we have "Amazing Arsenal of the Atom-Assassin" by Gardner Fox, Gil Kane and Sid Greene. Bertram Larvan is serving a prison sentence for his crimes as the Bug-Eyed Bandit. Though he learned the Atom's secret identity during his capture, his memory was wiped out causing him to forget the Atom's identity and his own criminal past. However, his time as a model prisoner ends when during an accident in prison, Bertram is struck in the head restoring his memory. He then makes his escape.

Memory restored, the Bug-Eyed Bandit sends mechanical bugs to kill Ray Palmer. He believes that they have succeeded when Palmer is reported dead. However, the Atom has shielded himself from the radiation Larvan is using to detect his presence.

While trying to stop one of the Bug-Eyed Bandit's robberies, Atom is captured by one of the Bandit's bugs. The Bandit believes the Atom is a robot, but soon discovers that he is the real thing. With the Atom held captive, Larvan tries to learn the secret of size control.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.