Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Suing to Keep Away Men

I'll admit right off the bat that I don't understand the mindset of someone who would care about going to a single-sex college. It doesn't seem that these places are bastions of feminism and they don't look like finishing schools. Is it the image (my sister once said that all-women colleges were "preppier")?

I suppose it's no goofier than a male-only priesthood but shouldn't an institute of higher learning at least make a token show at reason and logic?
Truth Detector in the Works

If this is true, portions of the brain respond differently while telling the truth and lying. Wouldn't this be fun during political debates?
No More Class

Only four students showed up for the last class of English 102 tonight. I cut things very short (the ones that did come really didn't need much help). If I were a better person, I'd be angry. I haven't stopped caring but it doesn't get to me anymore.
Back in Business

I had my first three scheduled days off since September 25 on Thanksgiving and the following weekend. Of course the kids were home the whole time which made me want to go back to work.

I'm having major trouble posting at home after Devilboy yanked my modem out of the wall. I can still hook up but the slightest touch breaks the connection and they never just touch slightly. (Why don't I get a better computer? Because they broke two of them already and I'm waiting until they're controllable before getting another one.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Dolphins Deny Food to Shark

How the Great White tells it.
Yahoo Space Quiz

I can't believe I missed one.

Companion page: The Greatest Myths, Hoaxes & Mysteries in Astronomy and Space Science
Cat Hell

The documentary Home Movie featured a couple who converted their entire house to a kitty condo for their 11 cats, with brightly colored mice decorating the walls and cat runs on every wall. Alex Boese made me think of two sets of relatives who owned nine cats. One of them kept hygiene in check. The other didn't.

The bad relatives were 20-something ex-college students who decided not to work but to wait for their parents to die and inherit (I wish I were making this up). Along the way they began to collect animals, not because they actually cared about animals but because they thought it would be cool, like someone who would steal a tombstone just to say they owned one.

Soon their cats began dropping kittens. They never cleaned the litterbox so the cats defecated all over the house. They particularly liked shoes and closets so getting dressed must have been like camping in Africa. My wife's cat makes so much noise when he's hungry that I can't imagine anyone not feeding one cat let alone 11, but they frequently let them go without food. The mother cat eventually turned cannibalistic and would wait behind furniture or random piles of crap for a kitten to walk by. When one was unlucky enough to do so, she leapt out, killed and ate it.

Although they couldn't properly keep a cat, the brain trust decided to get a puppy. The mother cat attacked it but it was too big to kill although the morons thought it was funny to watch. They'd push the puppy to where the cat was waiting to see the fight. The kittens associated anything large and hairy with instant death so they scratched up the puppy when they came into contact with it.

When the joke got old, they kept the puppy in their basement, usually for days on end. They couldn't be bothered to housebreak him so they just let the feces pile up--they'd grown used to the smell of cat. Other times they let him outside in their unfenced yard, expecting him not to roam.

At one point, when one of them went on vacation (the one who at least made a token effort to care for the animals), she asked me to watch the puppy. I wound up keeping him and although I haven't provided the perfect home, it's better than where he was.

The mother cat was never spayed and continued to mate with outside cats whenever it found a broken window. Finally it died during birth. Some of the surviving kittens were old enough to turn cannibals themselves but the lease on the house ran out and the group split up. They took some of the kittens but left behind the rest.

One of the main idiots now has three children and plans on at least two more. He has very little to do with raising them which is probably a good thing.

The King of the Idiots got involved in several illegal activities before literally losing his head in an accident. The police had the other idiot identify him before they brought in his torso.

Sometimes there does seem to be a God.
Brits vs. PETA

Every time liberals mention that they're not hard-core extremists and list their moderate or conservative views, animal rights seems to come up. John Kerry hunted. AIDS activists campaign to use more chimps to discover a HIV vaccine. Bill Clinton loves Big Macs.

I am willing to pay higher taxes to protect national parks and endangered species and would like to see stiffer penalties for animal cruelty. However, I think groups like PETA are insane. So does England.

When I was 14, I heard a mouse behind a window curtain in our basement. I went to catch it only to have it turn out to be a full-sized rat. It spun around when it saw me and jumped at my face. I never moved so fast and the rat ran off into a crawl space. I suppose it's not fair to base my attitudes on one rodent but it did affect me. I can't help but notice that PETA type organizations are the only "liberal" groups more upper-class and white than an audience for Rush Limbaugh.
Magneto is Dead

Via the Museum of Hoaxes, the story of a seven-year old who could generate "a strong magnetic field."

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Library List

In case you're wondering:

Kid Videos
Scooby Doo and the reluctant werewolf [videorecording] (No mention of Scrappy on cover. This should be a crime.
Rugrats. Halloween [videorecording
Blue's clues. Telling time with Blue [videorecording]
Olive, the other reindeer [videorecording]
Bob the Builder. Bob's favorite adventures [videorecording]
Pokémon Johto League champions. [videorecording]
Barney & friends. Outdoor fun! [videorecording ] At least there’s no Scrappy.
Clifford the big red dog. Clifford saves the day! [videorecording]
Happy Pooh day [videorecording]

Kid Books
Little cloud Carle, Eric.
Maisy's fire engine Cousins, Lucy
Maisy drives Cousins, Lucy.
Maisy drives the bus Cousins, Lucy. (Totally different from Maisy Drives. In this one, she drives a BUS!)
Maisy goes camping Cousins, Lucy.
Count with Maisy Cousins, Lucy.
Three girls and a monster Dower, Laura
Mommy hugs Gutman, Anne.
Where's Spot? Hill, Eric.
I'll take a dozen Shulman, Mark,
Caleb & Kate Steig, William,
Dinosaur roar! Stickland, Paul

Illustrated dictionary of mythology : heroes, heroines, gods, and goddesses from around the world Wilkinson, Philip (for 11-year old)

My Video
Fast, cheap & out of control [videorecording] See documentary post.

My Books
The Faber book of ballads
A dictionary of Irish mythology Ellis, Peter Berresford.
Utamakura, allusion, and intertextuality in traditional Japanese poetry Kamens, Edward,
The mythology of native North America Leeming, David Adams,
The complete book of magical names McFarland, Phoenix. (Complete but pretty damn goofy.)
Take a walk on the dark side : rock and roll myths, legends, and curses Patterson, R. Gary. (I'll post on this. Fairly strange angle on rock.)
Stan Lee and the rise and fall of the American comic book Raphael, Jordan (I probably won't finish this. It's too depressing to read Stan-bashing.)
World mythology : an anthology of the great myths and epics Rosenberg, Donna.
Lost goddesses of early Greece : a collection of pre-Hellenic myths Spretnak, Charlene
The encyclopedia of guilty pleasures : 1001 things you hate to love Stall, Sam. (Soon to be a post.)
The forms of poetry; a pocket dictionary of verse Untermeyer, Louis,.
Better than homemade : amazing foods that changed the way we eat Wyman, Carolyn. (Post already written. Sitting in home computer. . . if files really sit.)

Sound Recordings
Goodnight Blue [sound recording] (No Scrappy, thank God.)
From a Buick 8 [sound recording] King, Stephen
My mother's hymn book [sound recording] Cash, Johnny.
Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash Dead

One bad idea down. I'm not sure if this is any better.

Evil Dead without Bruce Campbell just isn't Evil Dead but I won't lose any sleep over it. Check out the comments at the bottom. Suddenly I feel like much less a loser.

I came up with a number of documentaries for class. If I saw more movies, I'd have a better selection but as a start:

Home Movie - directed by Chris Smith. Features five unusual homeowners, one who lives in a missile silo, one in a treehouse, one in a houseboat, two with 11 cats in a giant "Kitty Condo," and one in a fully automated house that he can control by remote.

Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control - directed by Errol Morris. [Insert ex-girlfriend joke.] A look at life itself (which the title refers to), featuring an animal trainer, a topiary sculptor, a robot designer, and a scientist who studies naked mole rats.

Pumping Iron - George Butler and Robert Fiore. A look at weightlifting, featuring, among others, a pot-smoking future governor.

Spellbound - Jeff Blitz. Children competing in the National Spelling Bee. Nine-year olds spell words that I wouldn't even attempt with a spell-checker.

Gimme Shelter - David and Albert Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin. The Alamont Rock Festival of 1969, complete with on-screen murder.

Triumph of the Will - Leni Riefenstahl. Should wake up even the most apathetic student.

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills - Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. If Triumph of the Will doesn't cut it.

The Lumiere Brothers. 85 short documentaries of Louis and August Lumiere from 1895 to 1897.
Law Suit Over Distorting History

The whole idea brings up so many bad jokes but how could bringing this to court make sense in any context?

How many movies based on history are even remotely accurate? I haven't seen The Passion of the Christ but it can't be more distorted than the history of Mel's other movies like Braveheart and The Patriot (even Gallipoli has its mistakes).

On a worst case scenario, wouldn't this open the doors for a Holocaust-denier to sue Stephen Spielberg?
That'll Learn Em

Never, never steal from this guy.
Cincinnati Superheroes

Via Pharyngula, a look at how superheroes would adapt to St. Paul.
I've thought of creating superheroes and horror movies set in Cincinnati. As noted with the St. Paul article, swinging from building to building would be limited to a few blocks. The biggest thing about Cincinnati heroes would be their attitudes.

"A bank robbery? No time for that! There's a NC-17 video on display on Vine Street!"

Villains would tie up heroes and heroines (always popular to the comic audience) and force them to watch People vs. Larry Flynt or drown them in vats of Skyline Chili. Mutants like the X-Men would face a charter amendment allowing discrimination based on species. Tight-fitting costumes would carry a third-degree misdemeanor.

I've been thinking about a horror movie, possibly based on Zombie Cult Massacre in which Cincinnati is infested with cannibalistic zombies but due to attacks of giant lizards on the West Coast, the government decides against sending in the Army. Tri-Staters go about their daily affairs, trying to ignore the zombies as best they can. Only a handful of people decide to do anything about the problem and they are regarded as nuts. It will probably never happen but it keeps me sane reading the news.
Evaluations from Hell

I set off for class on Friday and the car was dead. I think my daughter turned on the side dome light to annoy her sister and didn't turn it off. It started today so I hope everything will work out.

Before this fall, I never missed a class. Now, I've done it twice in one week. On the good side, if this had happened before the trip to the hospital, I would have lost my head. As it was, I took it in stride.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

No More Texan Drag Queens

Texan school goes from cross-dressing to miltia-wear.
When Do You Step In?

We had a discussion in class about eccentrics based on the documentary Home Movie. At what point should authorities get involved in someone's life? Two of the people featured lived in a home with 11 cats and designed cat platforms and runways in every room of their house. They were able to function but what about the people with 100 cats?

If I start collecting people and keeping them in a pit under my garage, it might be reasonable for police to intervene but what if I'm into self-mutilation? At what point is someone harmful to himself and/or others?
Woman Breastfeeds Dog

Still thinking of moving to New Zealand? I'm praying that today is the Southern Hemisphere's version of April 1.
Virgin Births

Via Hoax Museum, the history of "Concubitus sine Lucina" (Conception without sex). How did the Holy Ghost impregnate Mary? And you thought you had time on your hands.
Head Injury Update

Devilboy is doing fine. Apparently he never was in much pain--he was laughing as they put him in the ambulance. He loves to play with trucks, especially ones that make noise so seeing a real fire truck and ambulance up close was a dream come true. I'm sure this has given him ideas--lots of blood = cool flashing lights and big wheels.

He has an amazing threshold for pain. Once he broke the lock on the oven and tried to climb in while it was 425 degrees. If he didn't have my webbed ear, I'd think my wife had an affair with Clark Kent.

The doctor claimed that skin glue caused less scarring than stitches. My wife had it used on her abdomen without much of a mark. Fortunately, it's right on his eyebrow. Once the skin and the hair grow back, even if there is a scar, it should be covered up.

If it seemed like I was calm or knew what I was doing, it's only because I couldn't write down how I felt. While I was driving to the hospital, I half-vomited with it coming up far enough to taste but not far enough to get out. Normally, that's the sort of thing I'd remember but it went right out of my mind.

Covington brought up another emergency room visit when my stepdaughter swung on my mother's countertops (after being told repeatedly not to) and fell on her face, knocking one of her teeth back into her gum. That was three or four years ago and she's almost old enough for the reconstruction to begin (they had to wait until her jaw was more developed). Even though that was more serious, "losing a tooth" just doesn't affect you like the words "head injury."

I can remember when my daughter was only a few weeks old, she scraped her leg against the car door as I was putting her in her car seat. I remember thinking that was the first time she'd ever been cut, the first time she'd ever felt that kind of pain. Sheltering kids too much isn't right but I can understand why so many parents try to.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Worst Day Ever

I thought I was ready for class today (finishing up Sophocles and starting on Othello). When I went to make copies, the department's secretary told me that my daycare called and that my son was in the hospital. No further explanation.

On my way to school, I drive by the daycare and this morning I saw an ambulance and fire truck pulling out. They didn't have their lights on and I assumed it was "Fire and Emergency Safety Day" (which happens about every three weeks).

When I got ahold of someone from the daycare, she told me that he'd hit his head and was bleeding badly. I've taught since 1992 and never cancelled a class until this fall. I didn't notice my top speed but I remember seeing the speedometer at 110 going uphill on 275. I apologize for anyone I ran off the road.

He was playing in his bed when I found him. The cut wasn't very bad but would have required several stitches. The doctor was able to use a skin glue (as fate would have it, click here). The good news is that the glue doesn't hurt going on. The bad news (or more good news depending on POV) is that unlike stitches, the glue doesn't draw the skin back together, just coats over it. For the next five days, he'll have a big, bloody wound over his eyebrow that can't be bandaged.

I was going to cancel my night class but he seemed completely better. I probably should have cancelled it--I was too full of adrenaline to think straight. I'll need to bring strippers and beer to get good evaluations.

One sad thing that I have to admit is that I didn't think of anything fitting from Shakespeare or Sophocles (although it's probably better that I can't relate Oedipus to my personal life) but I thought of a quote from Batman: Year One. The crime boss of Gotham City, planning to kidnap Lt. Gordon's baby son, says something to the effect of "Being a father means never being free." With such an overwhelming sensation of dread, I can understand how so many people can vote and think as they do. It's like going to a new land where everything looks the same but is sharper, harder, and more painful. I'm not endorsing vasectomies but the feeling of helplessness is worse than anything I can think of.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Giant Squid Used to Smuggle Drugs

I've heard of smugglers using a dead baby to sneak cocaine into the U.S.* but giant squids?

*Denotes uncertain origin.
End of the Hobbits?

Remember the fossilized hobbit? Could be Piltdown II.
More Atlantis

I didn't take this seriously at first but it's starting to look possible. Atlantis update.
Hell Inna Handbasket

Morals have eroded! Values are dead! Everything is lousy! Oh, wait.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

I Lost You

I'm still trolling around (in the non-commenting sense) for documentaries and I saw this review from Roger Ebert and a follow-up from Rotten Tomatoes.

So, the unloved woman slashes her wrist at a gay bar (not a lesbian bar, but a male gay bar)? Wouldn't that be like ordering a steak at a vegan restaurant? I don't see this as an indictment against feminist movies but the premise seems to need tweaking.
Voter Hoax

Make no mistake--this is an absolute fraud.

How did Illinois get five point more than Ohio and 12 more than Kentucky? Maybe this is splitting hairs but test Hoosiers against natives of the Great Commonwealth and I doubt if there would be a two-point difference (one wears red for basketball, the other blue).

Where's the art? Where's the pride? Shouldn't a parody deserve better?
Media Bias

Ain't left, ain't right, just plain dumb.

Do 100-year old death statistics really matter? Probably not, but it shows how sloppy the media is (and arguably, it's less sloppy today than it ever has been in the past). Still, I get students with the "I-know-it's-true-it-was-in-the-paper" argument.
Of God and Hobbits

I'm surprised this was even an issue. Religions didn't seem to have any problem with the idea of multiple species of mankind when the practice of dividing Homo sapiens into separate species was used to justify slavery. In Contact, Carl Sagan even had a priest upset over the discovery of extraterrestrial life. In reality, the Vatican would clap and launch rocket-propelled collection plates.

If I'm not mistaken, Covington Jim saw something about this a few years back.

The first thing the fish-people should do is sue Disney for making such a crappy movie about them.
Tell Me You're Kidding

Sick, sick, sick.

Thursday, November 11, 2004


After a bad experience with Orson Welles' F for Fake, I showed Chris Smith's Home Moviein Advanced Writing tonight. I had wanted to show Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control but couldn't find it from the library or video stores.

Other than Michael Moore type documentaries, it's hard to find a documentary that has a clear message but Moore's are so blatant and inflammatory (at least to students) that I wouldn't use them in class. Are any others out there?
Salute to Milton

It's not much but my slight contribution to Veterans Day is a link to my Great-great-great uncle, Milton Mills and my great grandfather, Newton.

In case you're interested, the 16th Ohio Infantry fought in the following battles:

Cumberland Gap, Tenn April 28, 1862
Tazewell, Tenn August 6, 1862
Chickasaw Bayou, Miss December 28, 29, 1862
Ft. Hindman, Ark. (Arkansas Post) January 11, 1863
Port Gibson, Miss May 1, 1863
Champion’s Hill, Miss May 16, 1863
Big Black river, Miss May 17, 1863
Vicksburg, Miss (First assault) May 19, 1863
Vicksburg, Miss May 22, 1863
Siege of Vicksburg, Miss May 19 to July 14, 1863
Jackson, Miss July 9-16, 1863
Alexandria, La April 26, 1864
Mansura, La. (Red river expedition) May 14-16, 1864
If I Were Braver, I'd Make a Wife Joke

My next post will be from beyond the grave.
Arizona State to Honor Tillman

My first thought was "Is that all they're doing in his memory?"

It seems that more people know Ted Williams left pro sports to serve in the military than know Pat Tillman gave his life. No disrespect to Ted's estate but Tillman should be the bigger story.
Don't Mess with Tobacco in Kentucky

Worse than Howard Stern.
Martian Cover-up

Here's the official version. Can you handle the truth?

(Presented in the same vein as the Hong Kong e-mail.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Striking It Rich

I just received this in an e-mail:

Dear Sir,
Let me start by introducing myself. I am Mr Wang Qin credit officer of the Hang Seng Bank Ltd. I have a concealed business suggestion for you.
Before the U.S and Iraqi war our client General. Ibrahim Moussa who was with the Iraqi forces and also business man made a numbered fixed deposit for 18 calendar months, with a value of Twenty million Five Hundred Thousand United State Dollars only in my branch. Upon maturity several notice was sent to him, even during the war early this year. Again after the war another notification was sent and still no response came from him. We later find out that the General and his family had been killed during the war in bomb blast that hit their home.
After further investigation it was also discovered that Gen. Ibrahim Moussa did not declare any next of kin in his official papers including the paper work of his bank deposit. And he also confided in me the last time he was at my office that no one except me knew of his deposit in my bank. So, Twenty million Five Hundred Thousand United State Dollars is still lying in my bank and no one will ever come forward to claim it.What bothers me most is that according to the to the laws of my country at the expiration 3 years the funds will revert to the ownership of the Hong Kong Government if nobody applies to claim the funds.
Against this backdrop, my suggestion to you is that I will like you as a foreigner to stand as the next of kin to Gen. Ibrahim Moussa so that you will be able to receive his funds.
I want you to know that I have had everything planned out so that we shall come out successful. I have contacted an attorney that will prepare the necessary document that will back you up as the next of kin to Gen.Ibrahim Moussa,all that is required from you at this stage is for you to provide me with your Full Names and Address so that the attorney can commence his job.After you have been made the next of kin, the attorney will also fill in for claims on your behalf and secure the necessary approval and letter of probate in your favor for the move of the funds to an account that will be provided by you.
There is no risk involved at all in the matter as we are going adopt a legalized method and the attorney will prepare all the necessary documents. Please endeavor to observe utmost discretion in all matters concerning this issue.

Once the funds have been transferred to your nominated bank account we shall share in the ratio of 70% for me, 25% for you and 5% for any expenses incurred during the course of this operation.Please reply this box:qiwan123@yahoo.com
Kind Regards
Wang Qin.

So long, suckers! I'm off to a life of luxury!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Worst Movie Ever

I've made it clear in the past that I'm prejudiced against talking pig movies. I did like Babe and its sequel but any other pig has left me cold. I can accept talking germs, aardvarks, bats, cats, dogs, lemurs, and just about anything else but pigs.

I ask myself, "Is this a fat issue?" No, I accept talking elephants and hippos.

I ask myself, "Is this a food issue? Pigs are after all one of the few animals I've eaten that actually eat humans." No, I've eaten alligator and shark (and surely there's been a few worms in a hamburger here and there) but I don't mind movies with talking sharks, alligators, or worms.

No, I think it's because pig movies (Babe excepted) are just plain bad.

Some people point to Charlotte's Web as a fine film. It's far better than Gordie, the Little Pig who Made it Big but I never cared for it either. Wilbur the protagonist is a completely passive character--he does nothing to save himself, he depends entirely on the spider. I might be able to take that but the whining! Every other line of dialogue is "I don't want to die!" usually followed by a fainting spell.

Still, the original wasn't completely terrible. The sequel is.

For starters, the rat which was originally voiced by Paul Lynde, the gayest man ever to live, now constantly watches over his four offspring. That's Scrappy Doo times four on top of an already bad situation.

Charlotte's daughters aren't much better. They sport similar hair colors and hairdos as the Powerpuff Girls (down to the redhead big-haired girl being the leader, the brunette short-haired girl being the bossy pessimist, and the blonde with pig-tails as the baby). Unlike the Powerpuff Girls, they don't do anything but make lame running jokes.

Wilbur is still a whiner. Personally, I prefer cartoons send my kids the message "hitting people solves problems" over "whining solves problems." I'd prefer "climbing the water tower with a rifle solves problems" over this.

The animators combined traditional animation with very low-level computer animation. This was done in some of the Pokemon movies and Disney's Hercules but usually there's some kind of reason for it. In Web II, it's just to make water ripple and clouds float by, something that could have been done just as well with traditional animation. This patchwork approach is simply distracting which isn't really a bad thing since it keeps your mind off how bad the rest of the movie is.

Bob the Builder and What's New, Scooby Doo? come across like something by Fellini. Sooner or later, I'm sure they'll make Charlotte's Web III but I'm hoping my kids will be too old for it by then. I'd rather them set the garage on fire than to sit through another helping of Wilbur.
Belushi Threatens Catwoman

Is Catwoman legally insane? That's the only reason I can think of to want to see Jim Belushi (at least Yoko Ono had to put out to get to the spotlight).

The kids have the television volume way too high if the first thing I thought of when I read about this discovery was "Which Pokemon is that?"
Beyond Canned Hunts

I found this through the Hoax Museum (who was unsure if it was legit) but supposedly Texas is acting to outlaw any real attempts of remote control hunting.

With only two exceptions, hunters I've known are responsible and genuinely care about pollution and other environmental issues. However, the idiot contingency responsible for canned hunts might make remote-controlled hunting a possibility. Sadly, otherwise responsible people have been backed in the corner to oppose laws restricting canned hunts. Charleston Heston strongly denounced them but worked against their ban, saying he was worried that once the laws went on the books, they could be expanded to include regular hunting. I see no reason to doubt Heston--it's the same concern that many groups have against banning partial birth abortion. I would hope that the NRA would draw the line with this.

If you remember Hunting for Bambi, a few years back, you might suspect this latest scheme is a fraud. We'll have to wait for what Snopes reports.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Graphic Novel Review

Unexpectedly I had a bunch of graphic novels that I've reserved through the library all arrive on the same day. Fortunately, I had my kids with me when I picked them up so I didn't entirely look like a certain troll who still lives in his mom's basement.

Hulk/Wolverine: Six hours--Not a bad story and certainly no dumber than anything by John Grisham or Tom Clancy but nothing to write home about (unless that would be your mom's basement).

Y the Last Man: Unmanned--A much less conventional comic, Y is the story of the aftermath of a plague that instantly and simultaneously wiped out every mammal on the planet with a Y chromosome with the exception of an unemployed, agoraphobic escape artist named Yorick and Ampersand, his helper monkey.

Yorick comments at one point that he would have guessed the world would be more peaceful but it's anything but (feminists might note that the book has a male author). Because the plague struck at rush hour Eastern Standard Time, the highways are clogged with wrecked cars and jack-knifed trucks, so transporting food into New York and other cities is impossible. Electricity and phones apparently went dead at the same time as the men--soon rampaging gangs are ready to kill for a can of Ravioli. The spirit of W lives on, as the women of the Israeli military sweep across the Mideast to protect themselves from a potential future threat. Wives of Republican congressmen stage a coup on the White House (nearly 75% of the women in Congress are Democrats so the plague skewed things towards the left). And worst of all for Yorick, a cult of New Amazons emerges, teaching that the Y chromosome was a monstrous defect that Mother Nature wisely corrected. For the months following the male extinction, they concentrated on destroying remnants of the patriarchy but when news of Yorick's survival surface, he's on the top of their hit list.

Y is an ongoing series so the narrative advances too slowly to cover much ground in the issues collected in Unmanned but it's done well enough for me to keep an eye out for later collections.

Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers--inexplicably labeled as "Teen" by the Cincinnati Library, this is a record of Spiegelman's reaction to September 11 and the events that have followed. Spiegelman is best known for Maus and Maus II, the story of his parents in the Holocaust and Auschwitz told by talking animals. In the Shadow isn't quite as experimental but it draws on the memory of turn of the century (the last one) to act out Spiegelman's interpretation of new New York. I'd recommend In the Shadow of No Towers to anyone with an understanding of the history of comics but to a new reader, watching the Katzenjammer Kid, Happy Hooligan, and Little Nemo at Ground Zero might take some explaining.

Neil Gaiman's Murder Mysteries--I know most people roll their eyes at comic books but I'd recommend this to anyone. Gaiman has written wonderful books but I think his stories work better as comics, especially his Sandman series.

Years ago, I read "Murder Mystery" in the form of a short story. It's effective--no artist can capture the impact that Gaiman's imagery has in the imagination. However, as a short story, it's easy to forget that this is a framed story and the frame, in comic form, is more important than the internal work.

It might seem that I give away the plot with this synopsis but believe me, I'm not telling you anything. Mystery starts with an English narrator reflecting back to a stopover at L.A. ten years ago. As he waited for a delayed flight, a homeless man wandered out of the shadows and asked for a cigarette. In gratitude (or what might seem like gratitude), the man tells the narrator his story, how he was once an angel before the creation of the universe. When a fellow angel is found murdered, the future bum is divinely drafted to catch the killer. Assisted by Lucifer, the Captain of the Angels, eventually the first murderer is discovered and brought to a sort of justice.

In the short story, the internal mystery came across as dominant. In the comic, the frame to the internal story (the English narrator and the bum) seem much more important. The adaptation is slavishly faithful to Gaiman's original prose but the sense of conflict is shifted, much for the better. Unlike Y or In the Shadow of No Towers, I would recommend this to anyone who can handle a graphic depiction of homicides, both divine and domestic.
Loveland Frog Attacks Elvis

Have you heard of the Loveland Frog? It's based on a real account of two Loveland police men's encounter with a pet iguana that escaped from a resident's house. Over the years, it's turned into this.

At least you can have some fun with the frog here.
King Congo

Reports of a new species of gorilla. Sounds like these guys.
Ebert on Incredibles

Delightfully smart, exciting superhero fare.

97% approval from Rotten Tomatoes. (Check out the reasons the dissenters give--"superhero movies aren't original" (written by a schmuck who can't get enough "quirky relationship" movies) and Village Voice's incoherent rambling [mine are at least intentional]. May an excess of Bush gloating drive Jessica Winter into hiding.)
Kiss My Balls for Luck

The urban legend come to life.
Read Books, Get Brain

Apparently it's not just a literacy slogan.
(Although you'd think it would work.)
Guns and Gays

Gun control (via Cecil "liberal" Adams).

I saw a number of ads from unions promoting Kerry as a gun-lover and Kerry made a publicized hunting trip but I think it's time for Democrats to make a concerted effort to protect include Second Amendment rights (or at least make it clear that gun control is a dead issue). True, only a handful of liberals support total gun bans but if Democrats want a better chance than the Green Party, it might be a good idea to treat the anti-gun crowd the way the GOP ought to treat the "Outlaw Queer" folk. Like gays, guns are here—get over it.

Decades ago, the U.S. had a chance to put some sort of effective gun control in place but that's long gone. By many counts, guns outnumber people in the U.S. Private gun-owners outnumber the military and police. Guns aren't going anywhere.

In today's political climate, even talk of regulating guns is a mistake. God knows, someday we may develop phasers or a new type of weapon that will demand some sort of political discussion ("Outlaw disruptors and only outlaws will have disruptors") but until that time any proposed gun laws just alienates potential voters.

Covington has taken up this issue but it doesn't seem widespread. I don't expect everyone to like it, just accept it.
Cosmic Rays

No, I'm not talking about the tunes of Charlie Parker--I mean the pesky stuff that created the Fantastic Four.

And now, without transition, here's an aside from Stan Lee from the Fantastic Four's first issue synopsis (July 1961). Virtually all Lee's heroes are born of some sort of radiation (gamma, radioactive spider, or unspecified "high energy" rays), and he needed an excuse to expose his protagonists to cosmic rays above the atmosphere. By using an "unauthorized" rocket mission to the moon as his vehicle, Lee bombarded Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Susan and Johnny Storm with mysterious cosmic rays, granting them superhuman abilities. When Lee first proposed the comic, he didn't think the moon was a viable destination:

Note: At the rate the Communists are progressing in space, maybe we better make this a flight to the STARS, instead of just to Mars, because by the time this mag goes on sale, the Russians may have already MADE a flight to Mars!
Somehow Stan was talked down to the moon. Today, the thought of a successful Russian space mission seems even more outlandish than mere superpowers.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Out Myself

I saw a couple people wondering about this on other blogs but the Sr. Theresa Starlinger posts to comments by "Cincysucker" were just meant as a joke. I was thinking about keeping it as a running gag but frankly, he's not worth the trouble. If anyone else would like to pick it up, feel free.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Lovecraft v. God

Here's a fairly reasonable account of H.P.'s skepticism by Fortean Times (it's as if the Vatican published a defense of abortion).

By the sane to somewhat sane reports, Lovecraft created the Cult of Chthulu as a parody of Christianity and found all forms of religion to be silly at best. Still, he appreciated the concept of religion as a form of local color--imagining cathedrals in Montreal, voodoo in Haiti, and God knows what down in Texas. Like a snobbish speech instructor's views on slang and accents, he wanted it the hell away from him but liked the idea of strange beliefs being practiced in far away lands (and in Lovecraft's case that could be anywhere outside of New England).

During a time when it can be hard to have good feelings about religion, it's refreshing to think that even the worst cult can be the source of artistic inspiration. I can't say that I'm a fan of Lovecraft's style (he comes off as the Book of Mormon on acid) but his overall creativity and invention inspired many writers, most notably Robert Bloch.

Of course, the lunatics believe that Lovecraft was a journalist and his Old Ones are still lurking in the darkness. (Okay, maybe it's not so loony but it still takes away from Lovecraft's achievements.)
Bin Laden: The Musical

I saw this on Fortean Times so I wouldn't bet good money that it's legit.
Why I Am the Way I Am

Jennifer Dute is the wife of my old high school guidance counselor. Seriously.

Here's more and more and more.
Christian in Lion Den

Idiot bit by lion.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Correlation of Yard Signs to Candy

(I saved this as a draft on Monday instead of publishing it. It might have made all the difference.)

Last night for a long while it looked like people with Bush/Cheney signs in their yard were nothing but cheap bastards. The first three we came to had their porch lights out. Unfortunately for the Egg Producers of America, the next batch of houses with Bush signs went 4-1, leaving us with a tie. What tipped the scales was that one of the houses had their porch light on, a sidelight over the driveway (with a truck with a Bush sticker), but no one was home.

As everyone should know, leaving your porch light on is a contract with America to provide candy. (On the other hand, maybe the owner was taken without trial to Gitmo.)

DeWine went 0-1 for no candy. The school levy was 1-0 and the MRDD levy was 2-0 with the yard signs places strategically near the candy payoff. Kerry and Nader both were 0-0.

In the future for close elections, put out a yard sign for your candidate, put the light on, and hand out king-size Snicker bars.