Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sudden Movements

I believe the leading cause of holiday stress has nothing to do with how you actually feel about your family. You can take all the pop psychology theories that Oprah & Dr. Phil spew and throw them right out the window. The true underlying cause of stress, frustration and all the crap that happens when families get together is, well, literally crap. More specifically, where we crap.

The one thing I miss most when I travel is my own bathroom. It's like my own little Fortress of Solitude. I know where the extra toilet paper is if the roll is empty. I know that when I'm in there, no one's gonna bother me. I know that with the fan going whatever is happening can't be heard by anyone else. I'm safe, secure and relaxed. And, as we all know, relaxation is very important when taking care of business.

But when we travel, everything that was certain becomes an X-factor: Where's the backup TP? No fan...can anyone hear me & how much Glade do I use? Why are people standing outside the door, yelling up the hall about where we're going to dinner? Do they not know what's going on in here? Let's not forget the horror of discovering that maybe your family only uses Ply when you're used to, at the bare minimum, 2 Ply or quilted. That throws off your sense of proportion and can lead to the 5 words you never want to say to your host, "Do you have a plunger?"

All of this uncertainty leads to tension, which of course causes people to get off schedule. Being off schedule for a day is no big deal. But if your visit lasts, say a week to ten days and add in multiple locations, a wide variety of food choices and having to wait on other people to finish their business before you can start yours and folks are going to start getting a little cranky.

This conundrum works both ways. It's not just when you go visit relatives. It happens to them when they come to visit you. If Dad or Cousin Bo seem a little edgy by the end of the weekend, it's not because they don't enjoy your company...it's because they're backed up.

Also, if you're having guests, please make sure everything works and all needed materials can be easily found. Don't hide the spare rolls in cute, discreet boxes or cozies. Your guests need visual confirmation in an emergency that everything they need will be literally at arms length. Having to yell plaintively "Need a little help" is a humiliation that should be avoided at all costs.

Unfortunately, there is no easy solution. Unless you want to run to the nearest convenience store when nature calls (and public restrooms are potential minefield in their own right), you're just going to have to deal with it. So, I encourage patience and consideration when you've got to be away from your own facilities. Remember, we're all in this together (though not literally, because that would be gross.)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Odd Occurence

A couple of days after Christmas, I had a rather odd thing happen & I wanted to share it with all of you.

Seeking respite from family time, I snuck off to a local bar. The place was pretty deserted. In fact, except for a couple of people at tables there was no one anywhere near me except the bartender & he was talking to the waitress at the other end of the bar.

So you could imagine my surprise when I heard someone say to me as plain as day "Nice shirt.". I looked around, a bit confused, but didn't see anyone. A few minutes later I heard someone say "Nice haircut.". I looked around again...nobody was there. A minute or so later, I hear "Nice shoes."

By this time, I'm confused & a little annoyed. I call the bartender over & tell him what I've heard.

He tells me "Those are the peanuts. They're complimentary."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Christmas Specials

Every year beginning right after Thanksgiving, I start watching the various Christmas specials & episodes that I have accumulated on DVD. I never get all of the ones I want to see watched, but I give it the old college try.

As the season winds down, I thought I'd share my Christmas season playlist. In no particular order, here's what made me Holly & Jolly this year:

It's A Wonderful Life

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

The Dick Van Dyke Show: "The Alan Brady Show Presents"...Rob, Laura & the cast celebrate Christmas at the Alan Brady Show

The West Wing: "In Excelsis Deo"...Toby honors a homeless vet, President Bartlet goes Christmas shopping & Mrs. Landingham misses her boys

Saturday Night Live: The Best of Christmas Past...classic sketches from Belushi, Aykroyd & Farley

The Year Without A Santa Claus

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

A Charlie Brown Christmas

So, however you're spending Christmas Eve, from my blog to yours Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and to all a good night!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sports Night

I know many people who love sports. They enjoy watching highly trained athletes pitting their skills against one another. They love the thrill of competition. They live and die with their favorite teams.

More power to them. I am not one of these people.

"Apathetic" doesn't begin to cover how I feel about sports. I realize as a Southern male that I'm supposed to have some sort of genetic predisposition to athletics, but apparently it skipped me and got passed to my sister instead.

Part of it is due to the fact that I have no depth perception. I can't judge distances until something is literally a foot in front of my face. Since proficiency in most sports require being able to catch and/or throw with some accuracy, I'm spit out of luck there.

The other factor is my inherent laziness. I'm a watcher by nature, not a doer. I can provide smart aleck commentary with the best of them...just don't ask me to participate in what I'm mocking.

In addition, I figured out early on that one person/team/animal or car would an could run faster/jump higher or score more points than another person/team/animal or car. The law of averages demands it...otherwise all sports would wind up like a typical pee wee soccer match and no one wants that.

Over the years, I've learned to fake an interest in sports to avoid being rude. I know enough rudimentary information to appear interested when someone corners me about the BCS, NHL or March Madness, but as I get older it's getting harder & harder to pull off.

I love movies & TV shows about sports. I think because the time commitment is much shorter and I pretty much know who's going to win right from the start.

So sports fans, please enjoy your pastime to your heart's content. I'll just be over here napping.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Careful What You Wish For...12 Days Edition

Because I was bored the other day, I did some math while listening to "The 12 Days of Christmas."

There were 23 birds given during the aforementioned 12 days. Think about that for a second...23 birds. Even by Victorian standards, that's a lot of poultry. I imagine that the lady's "True Love", being a typically clueless gift giving dude thought to himself "She really seemed to like that partridge in a pear tree. That means she likes birds. I'm gonna get her more birds."

After the 4th day, the lady was hinting strongly that if she got any more birds, she would deck him instead of the halls, so he ditched the 5 Chickens Clucking and resorted to jewelry...always a safe fallback gift. Unfortunately, he'd already bought the 7 swans a swimming and the 6 geese a laying and lost the receipts...which is why his beloved got 5 rings instead of one K-Mart chain purchased right before closing.

You have to be really careful when even casually mentioning things you like around gift giving times. I'm reminded of the time I made an offhand remark to Sainted Wife's grandmother that I liked Red Hots. What I meant was that once every 10 years or so, I might eat half a box of Red Hots, remember why I stopped eating them in third grade and throw the rest away.

What she took from the conversation was that Red Hots were my absolute favorite thing in the whole wide world. Which explains why I received a four-foot plastic candy cane full of Red Hots the following Christmas. In retrospect, I wish I had told her I liked 5 dollar bills.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Annual Review

In a little over a week, Christmas will be here. Time for eating & partying with friends and family. Also time for your annual performance review.

What's that...Christmas is a performance review? You bet it is. When you're unwrapping those gifts under the tree, what you receive is a comment on what kind of person you've been since last Christmas. Here's a handy chart to help you see where you stand:

Congratulations...your performance has been mostly excellent this year. No major screw ups, no indiscretions that wound up on You Tube...you even remembered your mother's birthday. Look to receive most of what you've been hinting at since your birthday.

Oooh...looks like there's room for improvement here. You were pretty decent, but perhaps you made an ill timed comment about how your wife/girlfriend's mother is annoying or forgot to lower the seat once too often. Things like that will cost you that "Dark Knight" DVD you wanted and get you a nice pair of slacks. Better be more detail oriented in 2009.

Danger Will Robinson, Danger! Looks like someone was a big jerk this year. Made a lot of major mistakes...commenting on weight gain, forgetting birthdays, anniversaries and Valentine's Day, maybe even voting Republican. These were costly, costly errors that need to be corrected immediately. You're looking not only at slacks, but socks and underwear as well. You're flying very close to the Danger Zone, Maverick and Goose has already bailed out.

President Bush had a better year than you. Expect to find self help books, weight loss drinks, shirts that your Dad would wear and personal grooming products under the tree. If you've really screwed the pooch, you're gonna get something plaid or even worse....some sort of food item. Food as a gift basically says "Basic nourishment is all you deserve. I'm willing to keep you alive & that's about it."

With only 10 days left until Christmas, you might want to put in some overtime if you think there's a jug of windshield wiper fluid or fruitcake in your future. Be good for goodness sake!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Shoe Fits

A few thoughts about RLT's 25th anniversary production of "Cinderella"...but first, a couple of confessions:

1) Though I've lived in Raleigh for 6 years, I have never been to one of its long-running Christmas productions. No particular reason...just haven't.

2) Between the weather, work, traffic & spilling tea on the first French fries I'd had in a long time, I wasn't in the best frame of mind when I took my seat. If I hadn't promised a dear friend I'd go, I probably wouldn't have braved the monsoon. But I'm glad I did. By the time the cast took their final bows, I was feeling holly and jolly.

"Cinderella" is a great way to spend a December night at the theater. It has great songs, big laughs, bad jokes, a talented cast having what looks like the time of their lives and true love. What more could you want?

Since I am in no way, shape or form the actual target audience for the show, I'm not going to quibble over the script or other traditional review fodder. I will be more than happy to praise the cast.

Every one of them gave fun & lively performances. I didn't have a program, so I can't give them the full credit they deserve...but Cinderella's step-family all but steal the show right out from under our heroine. What scenes they don't walk away with are pilfered by the Fairy Godmother and her assistants Snow & Flake.

The kids in the audience had a ball & so did the grownups. Make time to see "Cinderella." You'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Circular Logic

I find myself with nothing particularly interesting to write about at the moment...so I write a blog about having nothing to write about.

There's nothing out of the ordinary going on...so I Twitter about how there's nothing out of the ordinary going on.

I don't have any remarkable insights...so I update my Facebook status to tell people that I don't have any remarkable insights.

There's nothing I want to watch on TV...so I spend an extra half-hour flipping channels to make sure there's nothing I want to watch on TV.

Radio stations either play new music that sucks or old music that I've heard so many times that I think it sucks even if I once thought it was cool...so I scan the dial and complain about the new music that sucks or the old music that sucks because I've heard it so many times.

I have nothing to write about...so I write a blog about how I have nothing to write about because there's nothing out of the ordinary going on, I don't have any remarkable insights, there's nothing to watch on TV and music either sucks because it's new or because it's old and I've heard it so many times that I think it sucks.

And just like that...we're done.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Rage is all the rage these days. Everyone's ticked off about something: the economy, elections, traffic...you name it, somebody's p.o.ed about it.

But there's a special type of anger that has gone widely unnoticed but attention must be paid.

I speak of (insert dramatic musical sting) Geek Rage.

No group of people can get their Underoos in a twist faster than geeks. There are literally thousands of topics that can send them off into spasms of anger and frustration. For example:

*Star Trek vs Star Wars
*Marvel vs DC
*PC vs Mac
*Superman vs Batman
*Harry Potter vs Lord of The Rings
*Any filmed adaptation of a beloved childhood cartoon/comic book/tv show

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I am a proud card-carrying geek myself (I know you're shocked) and participated in many discussions/arguments that are so geeky they make me want to give myself a wedgie. But until the worldwide Interweb gave geeks a voice, I never knew what real, hardcore Geek Rage looked or sounded like.

It's not pretty...but it is funny. Don't believe me? Go to aintitcoolnews.com and read the talkback section on pretty much any topic. Responses start out with reasonable differences of opinion and quickly degenerate into profanity, name calling and character assassination of the highest order. And this is typically about movies that haven't even been shot yet.

It's ridiculously easy to set geeks off...in fact, I bet I can do it right now. Ready...here we go:

I haven't seen "Twilight" and don't plan too because I'm not a 15-year old, too much mascara wearing, Hot Topic shopping Anne Rice reading girl.

Too easy? All right, let's try another one:

The shows we loved growing up? Mostly crap. Especially the cartoons. "GI Joe"...crap. "Transformers"...crap. "He-Man"...crap with a sword. "Thundercats"...a clumpy litter box full of crap. Poorly animated, lowest common denominator, toy commercial crap.

I bet some of you are really ticked off right now. Congratulations...you're a geek. Welcome to my world.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

To Boldly Go...

I've been revisiting Star Trek on DVD. It's been awhile...I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it.

Just a few observations from a new, old fan.

*The show was much funnier than I remembered. Even the heaviest episodes had a chuckle or three.

*James T. Kirk's 5-year mission was obviously to boldly go after every single female in the galaxy.

*Speaking of Kirk...there's an ongoing geek debate over who was the better Enterprise captain, Kirk or Picard. Even a casual observer knows the answer is obviously Kirk. For all the time Jean Luc spent pondering and debating ethics, Jim Kirk would be beaming down, phasers set to "awesome" and kicking butt & taking names. Kirk would've not only resisted the Borg, he probably would have scored with the Queen for good measure.

*Tribbles are awesome and Trek built an entire episode around the, well, "hormonal frustration" of Spock. Who says science fiction isn't groundbreaking?

Live long and prosper...'cause I'm a blogger, not a docter!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Say Thanks

A brief thought for troubled times.

Things are tough right now and by all indications, things are going to get tougher.

The economy's in the toilet, there are wars & rumors of war and the bad news just keeps on coming.

It makes it really difficult to see a silver lining in the funnel cloud of despair.

But, before climbing into bed & hiding under the covers with a bottle of vodka, take just a minute and think about this...you are not alone.

If you have even one friend who cares about you, one family member you can talk to, one spouse or significant other who loves you no matter what the circumstances are, you are not alone.

Think about that one person (or group of people) who laugh with you & cry with you & miss you when you're not around. If you know without a doubt that no matter what happens, they'll still love you, then you are not alone.

So when things are looking grim & you're at the end of your rope turn off the TV, shut off the computer and call someone who's always been there for you and say "Thanks."

Because of them...you are not alone.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Election Fraud

It saddens me to have to report that in this season of change and upheaval that there has been a confirmed case of election fraud. I thought that an election was finally going to happen with a clear-cut winner...with no bitter feelings about the outcome...and with no accusations of voter intimidation or tampering. Sadly, once again, that is not the case.

I regret to inform you that, despite my overwhelming lead in the exit polls, People Magazine has failed once again to name me "Sexiest Man Alive."

I am just as shocked as all of you. I truly believed the voters wanted a change. That they would rally behind a pasty, slightly overweight state employee and part-time improviser from North Carolina rather than some Hollywood superhunk. But in a shocking turn of events, the voters went selected yet another international sex symbol, Hugh Jackman.

I'm at a loss to explain the errors in the polls...everyone I asked assured me they would vote for me. Granted, my sampling data was really small...pretty much me & Sainted Wife (although, come to think of it, I did hear her refer to Jackman as "hunky" right before going to the polls...hmm.)

I mean, come on...what does Hugh Jackman have that I don't? Sure, he's a multi-talented actor and singer with millions of dollars and a thriving career and been in many hit movies and appeared on Broadway and was Wolverine...but he was also in "Van Helsing" and that movie sucked with or without vampires in it. Look at his record people..."Van Helsing"!!!!

Fear not...I will have my team of legal experts in People's offices poring over the results just as soon as someone from James Scott Farrin calls me back (I hope they send Robert Vaughan...he's cool!) Until then, I urge calm and patience with the process. In your outrage, please don't resort to violence. Justice will be served.

Thank you for your continued support...I am also accepting donations for my legal fight (cash only...don't want to get the IRS involved.) Stay strong America...I will be sexy for all of you!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dying Is Easy

I speak today on one of the most difficult tasks that anyone can ever undertake onstage...being funny.

Legendary actor Edwin Booth is credited with the famous quote, "Dying is easy...comedy is hard.". Booth was right on many levels. Comedy is an incredibly difficult task to pull off.

Humor is such a subjective thing. What makes me laugh probably doesn't make you crack a smile. Add in the fact that in order to be convincingly funny, you have to make it look effortless and the skill it takes to do that increases the level of difficulty a thousandfold.

Nothing is more painful than watching someone try to be funny and failing miserably. Professional comedians don't say they had a bad night...they say they "died.". That's how hard it is.

The Academy Awards rarely, if ever, recognize comedic performances. I think because when they're done well, it barely seems like it took any effort at all. But I can name several very good dramatic actors who can't or couldn't pull off credible comedic performances: Jennifer Connelly, joaquin Phoenix, Angelina Jolie and Harrison Ford to name just a few. It's that difficult.

So, if you're a performer who has the skill to make audiences laugh, whether by performing Shakespeare or Simon or just making it up as you go, I salute you. The world is in dire need of laughter & the ability to provide it is a great gift indeed.

Be proud...because dying is easy and comedy is very, very hard.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


My friend Dan Lyons turns 40 on Friday.

I've known him for almost 25 years. Through that entire time, though we've disagreed on many topics (politics, music,Vanderbilt football, politics again) he has always been there for me.

He boldly defended me to his family (to whom, for a time, I was "That Chris") when I dragged him to movies on a Sunday. He stood up with me the day I got married (after throwing me what could easily be called the tamest bachelor party this side of Amish Country). He has spent many, many hours with me at the Waffle House discussing issues of absolutely no importance except to us. He has even forgiven me (I think) for accidentally getting him a date to his senior prom. He is, as you would suspect, a kind and generous man.

We've gone through years of girlfriends, weddings, New Year's Eve parties, Christmas Eve Eve movies of varying quality, funerals, Pensacola, Indiana, North Carolina, birthdays, double features, elections, and through it all he has always been there for me.

He has seen me at my best and at my very, very worst and every stage in-between...and any of you didn't have the pleasure of knowing me in my much more volatile 20's should be thankful that I've mellowed somewhat with age. Only he and my Sainted Wife could have put up with me through all that...and he had 4 extra years of it.

He has been an engineer and an educator and a Naval Aviator and the best friend I have ever had. And because I can't be there in person to celebrate with him, I wanted to make sure he was honored in my little corner of cyberspace.

Happy (Early) Birthday...and from the bottom of my heart, I wanted to say..."How 'Bout Them Packers!"

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Snow Days

I know it's a bit early, but if the stores can have their halls decked already, I can write my first Christmas themed blog.

Note I said "Christmas"...no disrespect to anyone's individual beliefs, but I celebrate Christmas, decorate a Christmas tree, sing Christmas Carols and write this blog...so it's always gonna be Christmas here at Nerdvana World Headquarters.

We're on the cusp of the annual deluge of Christmas music & I feel I must clear up a common misconception...

"Let It Snow" is NOT a Christmas song. Never has been, never will be no matter how many Christmas CDs it winds up on. "Let It Snow" is about a guy trying to use bad weather as a reason to score.

There's nothing wrong with this in and of itself. It's the theme of about 90% of all pop songs ever written. HOWEVER...trying to pass it off as a Christmas song just because it features snow doesn't wash with me.

There are plenty of Christmas songs, both religous and secular, to choose from. "Let It Snow" isn't one of them.

"But it's about winter, like Winter Wonderland.", I hear you argue. Fine...find me a radio station that plays either song any other time but December and I'll concede the point.

Until then, both songs are off my Christmas playlist.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Post Mortem

This will be approximately the ten millionth blog about the election (and that's probably a conservative, no pun intended, estimate), but I felt compelled to throw my .02 into the fray.

*"He's a community organizer....what's that?"
Well Mr. Mayor, apparently a "community organizer" is someone who takes a diverse group of individuals from all walks of life, trains them, treats them with respect and values their service which inspires them to volunteer and work long hours for no pay in potentially hostile battleground states for a candidate they believe in and who winds up turning most of those traditionally Red states Blue.

*If you look at the musicians who were stumping for both Obama & McCain, it's no wonder the Senator from Illinois is the new Commander In Chief. Among the artists who campaigned for Obama were James Taylor, Jimmy Buffett, Joss Stone, Will I Am and Bruce Springsteen. Campaigning for McCain? Lee Greenwood, Hank Williams, Jr. and one of the dudes from Big and Rich. Let's face it...the Democratic ticket rocked in more ways than one.

*This is a great opportunity to heal some of the divisions of the past eight years, to conquer the fear that has gripped us since that awful day in September 2001. The world is a dangerous place and we do need to be cautious. But there's a difference between caution and fear. Caution is a measured response to a potential threat. Caution allows us to weigh our options and prepare a proportional response. Fear causes chaos and confusion...people who feel cornered and afraid are more likely to blindly lash out. I think one of the unspoken reasons the election turned out the way it did was that a large part of the American populace was sick and tired of being afraid all the time and said "Enough".

*John McCain showed great grace and dignity with his concession speech. His comment about Obama's grandmother being "proud of the good man she helped raise" was a particular highlight for me. If Senator McCain had campaigned the way he conceded, I suspect he might not have had to make that speech at all.

*President Elect Obama also reached out during his acceptance speech to those who didn't support him..."I may not have gotten your vote, but I am your President as well." I have no doubt he meant that and I hope he proves it to everyone who voted against him.

If the election turned out the way you wanted it to, it's an exciting time. If not, you're probably wondering what comes next. Here's a little secret-we're all wondering what comes next.

Why don't we surprise those who say we'll never be one America again and find out together.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Simply Amazing

No matter what happens tonight, when we get up in the morning we will be living in a whole new world.

Millions of people-conservatives, liberals, Christians, Jews, Atheists, veterans, college students, grandmothers, plumbers, mayors, community organizers, teachers, preachers, self-employed, unemployed and countless more besides-got up this morning and decided that they were going to change the world, one vote at a time.

Think for a minute just how amazing that is...that we have the right and privilege to decide who will be the leader of the free world. For two years, we've been listening to every expert on both sides of the aisle, pundits and pastors, our friends and even our enemies tell us who they think we should vote for. But in the end, it all comes down to one citizen, one vote.

I'm as partisan as the next guy and I passionately want my candidate to win...but just for a minute, I want to marvel at the spectacle of so many Americans who don't agree coming together on one day with one purpose...to make their voice heard by voting.

We live in cynical times and any number of folks are more than happy to tell you why your vote doesn't count, that you're just wasting your time and effort and that no matter who wins it's going to be the same old same old.

Don't believe it. People vote for one simple reason...they hope things will be better than they currently are. Hope is a good thing. Without hope, we die.

So, in the few short hours before the returns start coming in and we get focused on winners and losers and what it all means...take a second to be amazed and grateful to live in a country where anyone, from any walk of life, can cast their ballot and make their voice heard.

Good Night, Good Luck and God Bless America

Monday, November 3, 2008

An Etiquitte Guide To Winning & Losing

No matter what happens tomorrow, somebody's candidate is going to win and somebody's candidate is going to lose. In an effort to (once again) salvage the upcoming Thanksgiving/Christmas season, Notes From Nerdvana humbly offers this handy guide to post-election etiquitte.


Among fellow supporters, you have until the end of the week to gloat, crow and chortle to your hearts content. Write heartfelt & obnoxious blogs, high five each other, send smug emails...whatever. Until Friday midnight, feel free to go nuts!

Among a mixed crowd, public gloating should end by midnight Wednesday. No matter the outcome, there's going to be any number of your friends and/or family who are not happy. Resist the urge to rub it in. Win with style and grace. To quote the former (and fictional) White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry..."We don't strut. Ever!"

If you made a bet on the outcome of the election and lose...pay off quickly and without comment. If the wager was for cash, do not pay in a Hefty bag of unrolled pennies and Canadian quarters. If you made a wager involving personal services to the winner, fulfill the obligation as quickly and with as much dignity as you can muster. If the outcome of your wager winds up on You Tube for the entire world to see, you deserve what you get for not clearly setting the parameters of said wager.

If you win a bet...accept your winnings with a simple knowing smile. Resist the urge to say "I told you so" or anything similar unless you are also prepared to take a kick in the junk from a disgruntled loser.

In the event of a Democratic victory, be as gentle as possible with our Republican bretheren and sisteren. Losing elections is a new thing for them....especially if it's a landslide. They are going to be disoriented and cranky. If they resist any kind words or encouragement and seem to have lost the power of speech, back away slowly. This should pass in a few days. Simply put them to bed with a cookie, a bottle of Boone's Farm wine and Bill O'Reilly's latest book. If symptoms persist after the inauguration, then continue administering Boone's Farm liberally (no pun intended) until 2016.

One final bit of pre-election advice for the more radical wings of both parties....

If your guy loses, it's not because the other side is a bunch of socialist, Marxist, America hating, left wing/right wing character assasins who are racist/intolerant redneck conserviliberal war hating war loving surrender monkeys who want to bomb the whole world.

It's simply because a majority of voters decided that the other candidate was who they wanted to be in office. No more...no less.

Good Night and Good Luck and God Bless America!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Conundrum

Had an interesting conversation today, the gist of which boiled down to "If you aren't 100% against something, that means you're automatically 100% for it."

This theory works if you are discussing trivial issues. Issues are big, broad concepts that fit neatly into "either/or" brackets. You either like country music or you don't. You either like crunchy peanut butter or creamy. Elvis or The Beatles...pick one or the other. Essentially, it's a fun way to engage in meaningless debate with your friends and waste time.

But when you start applying that logic to issues that effect real people every day it can be dangerous. People are more than the sum of their particular political leaning. People are a complicated mass of contradictions that are made up of all the moments of their lives, both good and bad.

Don't try and tell me because I'm not 100% against whatever is your pet issue...abortion, immigration, the death penalty, whatever...that I'm automatically in favor of it either.

And don't dare question the depth of my faith in relation to those issue. I will ultimately answer to only one person about that...and it's not gonna be you.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Helping The Economy

I think all the Right Wings pundits are looking at this election the wrong way.

If Obama wins on Tuesday, they're guaranteed at least four (and possibly eight) more years of steady employment. Four (and possibly eight) more years of yelling and screaming how "socialist" liberal policies are ruining America by trying to make life a little easier for people who don't make six figure salaries. Four (and possibly eight) more years of trying to scare folks with the idea that using diplomacy and negotiation rather than Cowboy carpet bombing is just crazy. Four (and possibly eight) more years of scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with new lies and conspiracy theories to justify their jobs.

So Mr. O'Reilly, Mr. Limbaugh, Ms. Coulter and all the rest...I implore you, for the sake of the economy, when you enter the voting booth on Tuesday, vote for your jobs...vote for Obama/Biden.

Otherwise, you might lose your 6 figure incomes & need that Marxist tax break. And wouldn't that just be a shame.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Living In Deep 13

Mystery Science Theater 3000...oh how I love thee...let me count the ways.

1) You legitimized a hobby that my friends & I practiced for years...talking back to stupid movies

2) You gave the world Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo, TV's Frank, Clayton and Pearl Forrester, Dr. Bobo and Brain Guy while also introducing me to Mr. B Natural and Nuveena, Girl of the Future.

3) You made it cool to be smart...Tina Fey owes you a debt of thanks.

4) Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, Joel Hodgson & the whole gang proved that you could have fun with your friends and make a career out of it.

5) "Twelve to the Moon" with Captain Stump Hugelarge...my favorite experiment ever.

6) You encouraged fans to keep the show alive by sharing their tapes of the show.

7) It was so funny and weird and intelligent that you felt like a member of an exclusive club when you discovered it.

8) The Turkey Day Marathons were a highlight of my Thanksgivings

9) It didn't matter which host you preferred...the shows were so good that Mike fans could dig episodes with Joel and vice versa.

10) "Let's Have A Patrick Swayze Christmas" has become a holiday staple in my house.

These are 10 reasons, but I know that I could come up with dozens more. Thanks MST3K for making my own Satellite of Love a happier place.


Monday, October 27, 2008

That Guy-Election Version

*You're hanging out with a group of friends. You decide to order pizza. One person decides that they don't want any, but tells you to go ahead & order it any way. Everyone picks what kind of pizza they like. Everyone kicks in to pay for the pizza. Pizza arrives and no-pizza guy decides he is hungry after all. He proceeds to eat pizza, complaining all the while about (a) the place you ordered from and (b) the fact that he would've picked different toppings. Never mind the fact that it took everyone at least 30-45 minutes to discuss, debate and decide what kind of pizza to order and where from while this loser kept insisting that he wasn't sure what he wanted, but he was positive it wasn't pizza, only to go ahead and eat without actually contributing to the order and having the nerve to b*%$ and moan about what kind of free pizza he was forcing down his pie hole.

For those of you who might've missed my subtle analogy...replace "pizza" with "vote" and it will become all too clear.

Next Tuesday...don't be That Guy!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

NC #10013

I voted today.

For the first time since I turned 18, I cast my vote for a candidate that I feel strongly about...that I didn't feel like I had to settle for.

If you read this blog at all, it shouldn't be much of a surprise who I voted for. But I believe that no matter who you support, it's everyones responsibility to vote...to participate in the process.

I may vehemently dislike the policies of your candidate but I honor & respect anyone who chooses to back up his or her choice with their vote.

I know people who refuse to vote...who are so cynical about politics that they simply don't bother. I feel sorry for them.

But today I felt proud to stand up and cast my vote. I was also proud of all the folks who came out in the rain to declare their choice.

What was more amazing...the early voting sight opened at 9am & when I submitted my ballot at 10:45, I was vote number 10,013. Ten thousand people cared enough to get out & vote early. Democrat or Republican, that's pretty awesome.

God Bless America!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Election Day...TV Land Edition

With Andy Griffith, Ron Howard and Henry Winkler endorsing Barack Obama as their beloved tv alter egos in a new web video, it got me wondering just who the classic characters from my favorite shows would vote for.

So, let's go to the exit polls in TV Land & see what happened.

*From the 4077th MASH: Hawkeye Pierce, Trapper John, BJ Hunnicutt, Father Mulcahy, Max Klinger, Sherman Potter and Radar O'Reilly all voted for Obama. Splitting the vote, early years Hot Lips voted for McCain, while later years Hot Lips went with Obama. Major Charles Emerson Winchester also supported the Illinois Senator while Frank Burns voted for McCain.

*Obama swept the Mayberry, North Carolina district with the entire town voting for Change.

*McCain supporters included MacGyver, JR Ewing and Homer Simpson, who mistakenly thought he was voting for "McBain". When asked for a comment, Simpson replied "D'oh!"

*In Florida, the Golden Girls also split their vote. Dorothy and Rose went for Obama while Blanche voted for that "hunk of a man McCain." Sophia also voted for McCain, primarily because he was her date to the senior prom.

*Battleground state Pennsylvania saw Scranton's Dunder-Mifflin Paper solidly in Obama's camp with the entire office voting for him. The sole exceptions were accountant Angela and salesman Dwight Schrute. Oddly, the couple shared the same voting booth and could be heard loudly moaning, obviously agonizing over how to cast their ballots.

*At Bayside High's mock election, all votes went to Obama except one. A young man identified only as "Screech" cast his vote for McCain, stating that running mate Sarah Palin "made him feel all tingly."

Some precincts are still too close to call. The Dharma Initiative island is embroiled in a scandal involving the purge of smoke monsters from the voting rolls and in Camden County, local election official Joy Turner is refusing to release results until she gets "some of that Palin clothes money. Do you know how many tube tops $150 large will buy?"

But all in all, TV Land looks solidly blue this election year.

We now return to Murphy Brown and Ted Baxter at Election Central. This has been Les Nessman reporting for WKRP.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dang Dirty Apes

If there is one fact of life that we can all agree on, it's that monkeys are cool.

It doesn't matter what the context is...monkeys are just inherently cool.

Cheetah from Tarzan...cool

Clyde from Every Which Way But Loose...Right turn cool

Bear from BJ & the Bear...cool in a Bear Bryant hat

Cornelius, Zira and the rest of the Planet of the Apes...talking monkeys (especially ones that talk like Roddy McDowall) are super cool.

I used to have a problem with Planet of the Apes. Not so much a problem as much as when I was 5 years old, they scared the ever loving crap out of me.

The TV version of Planet of the Apes was on at that time and if you remember (and I do), the show opened with a gorilla on horseback with the sun behind him (it?) . He (it?) had his (its?) head reared back and a rifle held defiantly in the air. It freaked my kindergarten self right out. Next to The Headless Horseman from Disney's Legend of Sleepy Hollow, nothing scared me worse.

But a year later, at the more mature age of 6, I saw the original Planet of the Apes on the ABC Friday night movie. I had grown in that year...I had discovered that monkeys were cool. And monkeys beating the snot out of Charlton Heston were extra cool.

I love all 5 of the original movies. Love Heston finding the Statue of Liberty in the first one. Love the attack on the Forbidden Zone in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Cried when Zira and Cornelius died in Escape from the Planet of the Apes. Got chills when Caesar led his revolt in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. And learned that "Ape shall not kill ape" in Battle for the Planet of the Apes (a lesson that Aldo, played by Claude Akins, learned the hard way).

I even enjoyed the Tim Burton remake. No actor alive deserves to have the monkey crap beaten out of him by, well, monkeys than Mark Wahlberg. Say "Hi" to your mom for me Marky Mark.

So...I urge, I encourage, I beg of you to block out an afternoon, pop some popcorn (or buy some bananas) and spend the day on the Planet of the Apes.

'Cause monkeys are cool.

Monday, October 20, 2008

So Conflicted

OK...the best thing to do when you have a huge secret is just to blurt it out and hope your friends still want to actually be your friends. I've been holding this back for a couple of days now...tossing & turning, losing sleep...I've been incredibly conflicted, but it's time to come clean....

I saw Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live...and I didn't hate her.

I wanted to...I really did. Her politics turn my stomach. The idea of her one heartbeat away from the Oval Office absolutely petrifies me. I'm also pretty sure she'd shoot me in the face and wouldn't really care if I apologized to the press or not.

But Saturday night, I didn't hate her. She looked like she was having a good time, had some decent moves during "Weekend Update" and didn't try and tear Alec Baldwin's throat out with her bare hands (and I wonder how many Ambien and scotches Baldwin had to choke down just to be on the same continent with her, much less arm in arm).

I've never actually hated the Governor as a person. I suspect in a few weeks, with her safely away from the Oval Office and sending her audition tape to Fox "News" (look for "Palin & Coulter" to premiere sometime next fall after Ann & Sarah kill and eat Hannity and Colmes...it's just the inevitable progression of the circle of life), that she won't even be a blip on my radar.

But I did want her to bomb Saturday...and bomb big. I mean Fat Man & Little Boy, Hiroshima and Nagasaki big. That didn't happen. But I did notice that she was gritting her teeth so hard that I thought she was going to break her own jaw...or Tina Fey's.

So, good job Governor. As a Vice-Presidential candidate, you're going to make an excellent talk show host...probably sooner than you think. Just call if you need a reference.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ain't Love Grand?

Sitting in Starbucks, preoccupied with the economy, the election and a world consumed with war and rumors of war, I was feeling pretty grim.

And then I got to watch a couple having their engagement pictures taken. They looked at each other with such devotion, love and happiness...and I remembered the last time someone looked at me like that. It was this morning as Sainted Wife was leaving for work. It's the same look I get every morning, no matter what kind of mood we'd been in the night before. The look that says, "When the day's over, no matter what happens, I want you to come home to me.". I always have and I always will.

In this land of confusion, if you're as lucky as I am to have someone who wants you around when you can't even stand yourself then you're very, very blessed.

Faith, hope and love...and the greatest of these is love.


So, the News & Observer recently revamped their comics page, so now is as good a time as any to take a look at the funny pages.

*The Family Circus is not funny. It has never been funny. It is so treacly and sweet that you risk diabetes by just glancing at it. Let me be clear...I hate, loathe and despise Billy, Jeffy, Dolly with the heat of a thousand suns. If "Not Me" murdered them all in their sleep, I would vote to acquit.

*I don't have a problem with Mallard Fillmore having a conservative agenda. I have a problem with it not being funny & having all the subtlety of a chainsaw. I get it...you think liberals are stupid. Now figure out a way to say it cleverly or originally or in a way that doesn't make you look like a raving asshat and I might, might consider your viewpoint.

*All that being said, there are some good things in the funnies. Pearls Before Swine, Zits and Get Fuzzy are consistently entertaining. Red and Rover and Agnes are two of the more promising new strips and I no longer have to try and figure out what the heck Sylvia was even about.

*As long as Peanuts is still in the paper, all is right with the world. There are some things that should stay constant: Mister Rogers on PBS, Bruce Springsteen on tour and Snoopy and Charlie Brown on the comics page. A paper that drops Peanuts has lost its soul.

Until next time...see you in the funny papers.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Too Much Information

I blame John Hughes. He's the reason we have to put up with Tyra, Maury, Judge Judy, The Real World, Janice Dickinson, Paris Hilton and the seemingly millions of other obnoxious narcissists who've crawled out from under their rocks with video cameras and decided to tell us every single detail about their pathetic lives.

It started in 1984 with a little film called "The Breakfast Club". It seemed harmless enough at the time...a teen dramedy about 5 mismatched kids spending the day in detention. A few laughs, a little romance (courtesy of the reptillian Judd Nelson and equally reptillian Molly Ringwald), a hit song, it makes a little money and everyone goes home happy. Every 16 year old I knew (including me) saw it.

The central theme of "The Breakfast Club" is "my life sucks and no one understands me". This wasn't a news flash to anyone who's ever been a teenager. But until "The Breakfast Club", no one felt the need to talk about it all the time. You might have complained to your friends, wrote in your diary or composed really bad free verse poetry but you didn't tell everyone on the planet.

But the kids who really dug "The Breakfast Club" (and I would bet any amount of money that they identified most closely with either Ally Sheedy or Anthony Michael Hall) grew up and became segment producers for Jerry Springer and Montel Williams. They wanted to find people whose lives sucked and wanted to talk about it. When the networks and syndicators saw how much money they could make off of morons who were willing to share the most intimate details of their lives with millions of strangers, that's when the floodgates opened and the freakshow began.

So, today we have talk shows and reality shows and You Tube and Facebook and My Space and we know every single thing about every single person we've ever come in contact with. The whole planet is a confessional. I kinda wish we'd go back to writing crappy poems.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happiness Is...

It has come to my attention that, from time to time, I can be a bit of a "Mr. Cranky Pants." So much so that I am often asked "Does anything make you happy?" Of course...and since you asked so nicely (and left off the "...you big jerk" that usually ends the question), here in no particular order and with no rhyme or reason are a few things that bring joy to my life...

Sainted Wife...My Family...Colton Bough...Scooter & Casey, the WonderCats...MASH...The Andy Griffith Show...The amazingly talented improvisers at ComedyWorx...The Dick Van Dyke Show...Dan Lyons...Chuck...Goofy Silver Age Superman comics...William Shatner, James Spader and Boston Legal in general...The West Wing...The Big Bang Theory...Jack Webb's 1969-1972 Dragnet series...Super Sparkle Showcase...The good people at Rose of Sharon Baptist Church...Hee Haw...The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (the cartoon, not the movie)...Comics written by Geoff Johns, Gail Simone and Grant Morrison...The mad genius of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg...Captain America by Ed Brubaker...Pushing Daisies...Aaron Sorkin...The Complete Peanuts...It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown...Linus reciting the Christmas Story...Stephen Colbert & Jon Stewart...Napping on Sunday afternoon...Old friends...Bruce Springsteen...30 Rock...Saturday Night Live...Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen making hysterical movies with their friends...It's A Wonderful Life...John Wayne...Pulp Fiction...Travis Pomeroy as Jules...Jenny Spencer rapping 50 Cent...Life with Damian Lewis & Sara Shahi...The Office...and, of course, a warm puppy.

This is by no means a complete or exhaustive list...but I challenge you this week when things get bad (and they will) and the world seems to be falling apart around you (and it will), to take a few minutes and think about the things that bring you joy.

To quote that great philosopher Bruce Springsteen...."It ain't no sin to be glad you're alive."

Bad grammar aside...he's right. But then again, he's The Boss.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Man From Mars

I've just seen the best new show of the Fall season...and the rumors are true, there is "Life On Mars".

In the interest of full disclosure, I missed the first series of the British.version when it aired on BBC America, but loved the second series. So I was already familiar with the premise.

NYPD Detective Sam Tyler is hit by a car in 2008 and wakes up in 1973. He has to adjust to a new environment and old school methods while trying to get home.

Jason O'Mara is excellent as Sam (What is it with time travelers named "Sam" anyway?). He mixes humor, vulnerability and anger as a man out of time and place making the best of a bad situation.

Gretchen Mol, an actress I've (a) never payed much attention to and (b) always confused with "Mad Men" co-star January Jones is great as Policewoman Annie Norris who tries to help Tyler and find her place on the force.

"Sopranos" star Michael Imperioli isn't given much to do but make bad jokes, wear worse suit and sport the most atrocious mustache seen on network television in 20 years...and that includes Jason Lee's on "My Name Is Earl", but there's potential.

That brings me to the man, the myth, the legend...Harvey Keitel. The old Reservoir Dog comes close to stealing the show as Sam's boss Gene Hunt. This role could do for Keitel what playing Andy Sipowicz did for Dennis Franz. It's a priviege to watch the man work.

This mix of "NYPD Blue" and "Quantum Leap" has a tough time slot and heavy competition against the final season of "ER" but it's well worth the investment. Here's hoping Sam doesn't make it home too soon.

Elitist? You Bet I Am

There once was a time when we wanted the best and the brightest in charge. Not any more. Now it's more important to have someone we'd want to hang out with be in charge of the free world.

With all due respect...I love my friends. I have a great time when I hang out with them. They make me laugh and occasionally laugh at my jokes. But under no circumstances do I want any of them to be president. Because they would do a terrible job. And I would certainly hope they would say the same thing about me...because I would do an even worse job than them.

I'm just about fed up with the notion that just because a candidate might not enjoy scarfing down pork rinds and Lowenbrau while watching the monster truck rally and has read a book or two (possibly one that has been banned from at least one library) that he or she is some sort of "elitist" and less qualified to run the country.

America was created by elitists. I can guarantee there were very few "Joe Ale Flagons" at the First Continental Congress...and certainly no "Cricket Moms". John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton were some of the smartest men who ever walked the planet. They were educated lawyers, scientists, inventors and philosophers who had passionate views about their society and culture and what's more, they could discuss these views in an intelligent fashion.

So, when it comes to guiding this great nation you better believe I want the most educated, most informed and most intellectual politicians we can get. I want someone smarter than me...and quite frankly, I'm pretty smart to begin with.

You want someone you'd like to have a beer with in office? Fine...nominate them for County Commissioner or Dogcatcher. I want my President to be too busy working for the American people to have time to hang out with me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I Done It My Way

"A man's got to know his limitations.", Dirty Harry Callahan..."Magnum Force".

There comes a time in life when we need to realize that we're just not going to accomplish some of the goals we've set for ourselves.

I don't know if this is a sign of maturity or futility, but it's not necessarily a negative thing.

There were lots of things when I was 16 that I thought I wanted to do. But as I got older, I discovered there were some fairly good reasons that I would never do them.

I wanted to be an actor...not necessarily a "movie star", but a working actor. However, I would learn that it's helpful to have a reservoir of talent to pull from in order to be successful in the theater. But instead of mourning that fact, I found a form of theater that I am good at...improv.

Is taking the stage of ComedyWorx in my spiffy sweats the same thing as starring in "Death Of A Salesman" on Broadway? No. But I still get to perform with my friends and I still get to utilize the talent I do have to make people laugh.

At one time, I really wanted to work in one of the Top 3 markets for my profession...New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. I thought that if I could be in the "Big Time" for just a little while, then my career choice would be validated. A couple of things kept this from happening. The first was distance. Sainted Wife and I are very fortunate in that we like being around our families. We love them and enjoy their company. Any one of those markets would mean that we'd probably only see them once a year...and for a short time at that. I decided that sacrificing family for career wouldn't be worth it. The second factor was that no one in those markets has seen fit to offer me a job, which has made my noble stand slightly less noble, but I still wouldn't change it.

Instead...I've been working for local PBS stations my entire career. I consider it a privilege to work for a network who provides programming I can be proud of. I also consider working for PBS to be my public service.

Some would say that I've given up or settled and truthfully there are days that I wonder what could have been. But to quote the Chairman of the Board..."Regrets, I've had a few. But then again, too few to mention."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

We Can Be Heroes

So, we're three weeks into the new season of "Heroes". Let's take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly and see how it's holding up.

A brief sidenote...I loved the first season & the second half of Season 2. Also, I assume that if you're reading this you've seen all the current episodes, so no spoiler warnings.

*The new Nathan Petrelli. I like the idea that he's on a mission from God. It's a new direction for a one-note character.

*The return of Malcolm McDowell as the mysterious Linderman. Is he a ghost? Is he a figment of Nathan's imagination? Is he a Cylon? Whoops...wrong show. Whatever he is, McDowell is having a ball and Linderman is lots of fun to watch.

*Speaking of fun, without Hiro and Ando this show would be a major bummer. Hiro is the only one who likes having powers and Ando is glad to be along for the ride.

*I really like Daphne, the speedster. I hope she sticks around for awhile.

*Tracy (Ali Larter) has powers she doesn't want or understand, has killed someone with them and is hooking up with Nathan. Tracy, meet Nikki...the only real difference is she doesn't have a kid.

*Mohinder Suresh...winner of the Nobel Prize for stupidity in the fields of genetics, biology and hooking up with Maya.

*I find myself at times remembering how much I enjoyed the plots the first time around...when they were called "Days of Future Past" and "Kingdom Come".

*Why won't the writers just call them "powers"? That's what they are.

*Hayden Panitierre act badly as a rebellious teen. She can't even come close to pulling off "Dark ClaireBear".

Despite my problems with it, I love many parts of "Heroes". Sylar, Noah and the return of Adam are always worth watching and the show is still fun despite some flaws.

So I'll be sticking with it for the long haul and hoping for the best.

Chaos Theory

It should come as no surprise that life isn't fair. Bad things happen to good people, evil men prosper while saints starve and Jessica Simpson still makes records.

But I believe that we are responsible for all of the chaos that surrounds us. The universe craves balance and when it gets too far out of control, life & the universe must correct itself. These corrections are random and chaotic...and sometimes make no sense. But they're a necessary evil, for without them the planet would cease to turn on its axis, apes would rise up and rule the world and Jessica Simpson would still be making records.

For example

*Mitch Hedberg, John Candy and Bill Hicks die. To fill the void, we get Carrot Top, Dane Cook and Jay Leno.

*ABC has a fun little sweeps special called "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire"...Millions watch...the universe, thinking we have no use for high-quality scripted shows, reacts with "Temptation Island", "Kid Nation" and about 75 other "reality" shows. In a surprising move, it lets Regis Philbin live obviously deciding that having to share a show with both Kathy Lee Gifford and Kelly Ripa is punishment enough.

*Vanderbilt is (as of this writing) undefeated and in the Top 20 in college football. America's entire economy implodes. If the Commodores make the Top 10, be on the lookout for the Four Horsemen and don't make any long term investments.

*Paris Hilton still has a TV show. Jessica Simpson still makes records. This isn't so much a balance issue as it is me pointing out once again that life is really, really unfair and cruel.

*John Belushi...dead. Jim Belushi...living off residuals of "According To Jim". One time when I wish the universe could've waited to fill the Belushi Void.

*Although, no one can claim that every now and then, the universe doesn't have a sense of humor. Kirk Cameron's "Fireproof" did make more money at the box office this week than Bill Maher's "Religulous".

Saturday, October 4, 2008


After extensive and exhaustive research, I have come to the terrifying conclusion that actors Ethan Hawke, Josh Brolin, Craig Sheffer and Stephen Dorff are actually the same person. This is why we've never seen them co-star in the same project together...besides the fact that no one would care to.

Currently, the "Josh Brolin" personality is in control & having a career. The "Ethan Hawke" was dominant, until he made the unfathomable mistake of cheating on Uma Thurman with their nanny and has been banished to where "Craig Sheffer" and "Stephen Dorff" have been since "A River Runs Through It" and "Blade" respecively.

For a brief time, it was believed that "Paul Walker" was also part of HawBroDorSheff (as he was known in the lab where he was grown), but it was later determined that "Paul Walker" was a mass hallucination by the American public caused by an overexposure to Vin Diesel's machismo.

If you encounter HawBroDorSheff in the wild, don't panic...he's not used to being recognized, so he's really not dangerous. Just don't mention the Uma affair...it makes him cry.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Book O' The Week: The Girl Of Steel Is Back!

My Book O' The Week is Supergirl #34 by Sterling Gates & Jamal Igle.

I've been a Superman fan for as long as I can remember, but I've never had more than a passing interest in his cousin. No real reason, it just never seemed to matter whether Kara Zor-El was around or not.

But Sterling Gates took only one issue to make me love Supergirl...and what an issue it is! Gates takes the opportunity to reestablish not only Kara, but also a couple of long-standing Superman supporting characters...Cat Grant and Lana Lang (the cool Lana from the comic, not the whiny, annoying one from the Smallville TV show). He also ties Supergirl's series more closely into the events taking place in "Superman" and "Action Comics", which considering how much fun Geoff Johns and James Robinson are having over there is a very good thing indeed.

I'm really looking forward to the next few months in Metropolis, especially with the "New Krypton" arc that runs through all three titles starting soon. It promises to be a heckuva ride.

Great work by Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ad Nauseum

Dear Apple...

"Funnest" is not a word, therefore it is impossible that your new Ipod is the "funnest" one ever. It might be the "Most Fun" Ipod ever, but since I have no basis for comparison, I am not comfortable making that judgement.

We, as a country, are stupid enough without you trying to make us more stupid while trying to sell the "funnest" Ipod ever. Knock it off.

Also,if you see Olive Garden, please tell her for me that her just barely above Chef-Boy-Ardee faux Italian food doesn't cure cancer, so the babbling goobers in their commercials shouldn't be so happy...they're at Olive Garden for goodness sake. No one goes to Olive Garden...you settle for it.

Snarkily yours,

Notes From Nerdvana, Inc.

Critical Mass or 57 Channels & Something's Finally On

The new Fall TV Season has finally kicked off and I'm as happy as a pig in mud. During the summer, I manage to keep my sanity with The Closer and Law & Order reruns on TNT...but my little heart grows three sizes come late September when original episodes return like the swallows to Capistrano to the networks. So, here's a day by day breakdown of what I'm watching this year.

The Big Bang Theory Live
How I Met Your Mother Live
Chuck DVR

I like Chuck...but Sheldon & Leonard over at the Big Bang Theory own this hour, coupled with Neil Patrick Harris reinventing himself as Barney Stimson on How I Met Your Mother rock my world.

Two And A Half Men DVR
Worst Week DVR
Heroes Live

Ordinarily, I'd watch "Men" live & record Heroes. But since Sainted Wife (a) likes Alan & Charlie better than Peter Petrelli and (b) she's usually fallen asleep before they start, I record 2.5 Men & the new (and funny in a "Meet The Parents" kind of way) Worst Week and check out Heroes live.

A brief word about Heroes...I like it a lot, but really enjoy weeks like this one that don't feature Mohinder "Dumbest Scientist Ever" Suresh and his "Cry Me A River" girlfriend.

Boston Legal DVR
My Own Worst Enemy Live

Denny Crane rules (you know he does!) and Sainted Wife is still napping, so when Christian Slater's new show premieres, I'll watch it live. Bamboo shoots under my fingernails couldn't make me sit through Caruso & CSI Miami.

House DVR

Sainted Wife is not as big a fan of Dr. Gregory House as I am...and, truth be told, I usually don't hang with him all season anyway, so we get comfort TV from Mark Harmon & the gang at NCIS

Fringe DVR

Fringe is really cool, but I enjoy it more watching it without commercials.

The only show on Wednesday for me is Pushing Daisies...so weird, so funny, so Kristin Chenowith!

My Name Is Earl

I'm out on Thursdays, so everything will be DVR...and it begins with Jason Lee in the criminally underrated "Earl." Consistently funny and who knew Jamie Pressley could be this good in anything. I'll give "Kath & Kim" a couple of weeks, but Molly Shannon and Selma Blair appear to be playing characters that I wouldn't want to meet in real life, so why should I watch them on TV?

The Office
30 Rock

Three great shows in the same time slot...thanks networks.

Life On Mars

I loved the original BBC version and with Harvey Keitel as (presumably) The Gov, I'm really excited about this one.


Damian Lewis and Sara Shahi are fantastic in this quirky cop show...unfortunately it's got a terrible time slot.

The Simpsons
King of the Hill
Family Guy
American Dad

No contest here. Cold Case is interesting, but it's the most depressing show on television.

Some may note there is no "reality" programming on my schedule. This is not a mistake. I hate the genre, hate the way it takes work away from talented writers and actors, hate the people who participate it and will not support it in any way.

There you have it...my Prime Time Lineup. Enjoy, discuss, debate.

Monday, September 29, 2008

What Are You Doing? Saying Thanks!

When you spend a lot of time around the same group of people, you will inevitably get on each other's nerves. Especially if that group is populated with individuals who have many of the same character traits, interests and intelligence level as you do. When this happens, you find yourself in a classic "Can't See The Forest For The Trees" scenario of forgetting (a) why you like spending time with them and (b) just how talented they are.

Almost 4 years ago, I was asked to join the Associate troupe at ComedyWorx. I never dreamed how much that invitation would change my life. I always thought I would enjoy performing but never thought I'd get the chance. Breaking into local theater is a lot like getting your first job-it's hard getting cast without experience, but you can't get the experience without getting cast. Here was a chance to get the experience while supporting local artists at the same time (and if you don't think improv is or can be an art form, then you haven't seen it done well.)

But aside from that, I've met some of the greatest people I've ever known. People whose talent and commitment inspire me to be better than I am. People who support me onstage and off. People I'm proud to call my friends.

So, for everyone I've shared the stage with at ComedyWorx either at practice or in shows, I am in awe of your boundless talent and limitless friendship. It has been a privilege and an honor to act silly in goofy pajamas with you. Thank you.

And for everyone else....come out & see the best improv in the Triangle. You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Newman's Own

Paul Newman was a great actor because he never looked like he was acting. Not flashy, not showy...just always professional and very, very good.

If you're not familiar with his body of work, shame on you. Spend the next few Netflix rentals and watch a master at work...

Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid

The Sting

The Hustler

Somebody Up There Likes Me

Nobody's Fool

Cool Hand Luke


To quote Newman as Butch Cassidy..."I've got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals."

Rest in peace Mr. Newman...you've earned it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Philosophy 101

There's a whole generation walking among us who take everything too seriously...no, not too seriously, too personally.

There's a difference. The pain, suffering, injustice and corruption that happen on a daily basis deserves to be taken seriously. It affects all of us in one way or another and we ignore it at our peril.

But those who take it personally take it too far. They get so wrapped up in the pain and gloom that they can't function. They get so outraged that they can't think straight. They get so focused that they can't talk about anything else. Quite frankly, they wind up annoying their friends who secretly wish they'd lighten the frak up.

If you're one of these people (and let's be honest...we all are at one time or another), allow me to share two pieces of wisdom that have helped me in times of great stress.


That's it...the beginning and end of the whole "Why is the world/economy/political system screwed up like a soup sandwich" conundrum. Stuff happens all the time...good stuff, bad stuff, funny stuff, sad stuff...any time you have stuff, stuff's gonna happen. And it's gonna happen just because...because it can, because it will, because it's Monday, because we want it to, because we don't want it to...just because. Like the swallos returning to Capistrano, Stuff will happen just because and unless you've been appointed Supreme Being, we can't change that.

So...take the important stuff seriously, but not so personally you become a shrill, shrieking bore. Give yourself an afternoon off from saving the world once in awhile & watch the Three Stooges or Foghorn Leghorn cartoons, rent some Mel Brooks movies or take a nap. Stuff's gonna happen...you might as well have a few laughs while it does. Why? Just because.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

That Guy

Ladies, if you will indulge me, this paricular missive is directed solely towards my male bretheren...although a female perspective is more than welcome.

Gentlemen...we need to accept the fact that we are flawed & stupid individuals. Single minded and stubborn to a fault, the best we can hope for is to find the right woman to temper and tolerate our rough edges. If you haven't been lucky enough to find that special someone (as I have), you can surely improve your chances by not being That Guy.

Now, we've all been That Guy at one time or another. It's hardwired into our DNA, much like our pathological need to control the remote or our constant amusement at flatulence (it's always funny). But with age should come wisdom or at least the ability to hide That Guy tendencies...but that's not always the case. Sometimes we're That Guy and don't even realize it. So, as a public service, here are some identifying characteristics of That Guy...ignore them at your peril.

*If you have more beer than food in your fridge, you're That Guy

*If you're in your 30s and your fraternity days are your greatest achievement, you're That Guy

*If you truly believe that "Chicks aren't funny", you're That Guy

*If you still refer to women as "chicks", you're definitely That Guy

*If you won't go to an important event with your girlfriend/spouse (like a work party or her father's funeral) because you'll miss the game, you're That Guy.

These are but a few warning signs. I urge all men to be vigilant. Don't be That Guy...you're making the rest of us look bad!

Book O' The Week

Not a bad haul, comics-wise this week. Some really good titles...and a couple of great ones.

First up is Fantastic Four #560.

Until I picked up my first issue a few months ago, I had never read many regular issues of Marvel's First Family. But I'm sure glad I gave it a chance. Mark Millar is writing a killer story that involves time travel, alternate futures and a Galactus appearance that even surprised me. Factoring in the pencils of Brian Hitch (and my sheer amazement that he's able to get the thing out on time) and you have a truly cool comic.

But my Book O' The Week is Captain America #42 by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting.

This is the final chapter in the Death of Captain America storyline that's been running since the end of Marvel's Civil War. Like most Marvel titles, I came late to the party. But I sure am glad I showed up. Brubaker's run on the title has been equal parts spy thriller and traditional super hero goodness. He weaves all of the dangling plot threads together, drops a few hints about what's coming, and solidifies a new Captain America. Great stuff all around!

Also, for unadulterated Silver Age goofiness (if you like that sort of thing...and I do) check out DC's Showcase Presents: Metal Men Volume 2 and if you like that, be sure to hunt down the trade collection of Duncan Roleau's recent Metal Men miniseries for a more modern, but equally trippy take on the characters.

Man...I love it when comics are fun!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Well, Duh!

American Idol runner up and darling to middle-aged soccer moms everywhere Clay Aiken has announced to People Magazine that he's gay.

In other breaking news: Water is wet, Fire will burn you and Scientists have discovered a cure for hunger...eating food.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Liberal Definition

For the most of my adult life, I've been called "liberal." What that means, I suppose, in relation to my politics and world view is that I've always cared more about the individual than the group...that institutions aren't as important as the people who comprise them.

I've always had a problem with the "You got yourself into this mess, now get yourself out" mindset that so many conservatives seem to have. Taking responsibility for your actions is important, but sometimes we forget how easy it is to fall through the cracks. I remind myself daily that not everyone is as lucky as I have been, not everyone grows up with the white picket fence and loving parents and supportive friends and family. If a Fortune 500 company and multi-millionaire CEO's are worthy of a helping hand, then so is a scared teenager or wounded veteran or lonely senior citizen. Everyone is worthy of our attention...no one should be left behind. To badly paraphrase scripture "Whatever you do for the least of these, you do also for Me."

A friend of mine told me the other day that I wasn't so much a liberal as I was an idealist. I think he was right. I don't necessarily agree with all the traditional liberal stances on issues (as I'm sure not all conservatives agree 100% either), but I sleep better at night with a heart that bleeds and not a heart of stone. I have to show mercy and love to repay the mercy and love I've been shown.

So, I guess in the strictest definition it all boils down to this:

Conservatives see the world as it is.
Idealists see the world as it could be.

It's a shame we all can't meet in the middle and make it the world that it should be.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Emmy Thoughts

Here are a few observations/ruminations about last nights Emmy awards.

*The 5 reality show hosts were a spectacularly bad idea. Tom Bergeron looked totally pissed off the entire evening, but he & Heidi Klum were the only two who didn't suck. Howie Mandel was ok, but the less said about Jeff Probst and Ryan Seacrest, the better.

*When 95% of the awards are won by cable networks, it says a lot about the quality of network television.

*Kathy Griffin demanding a standing ovation for Don Rickles justified her continued existence on the planet. I ordinarily would never, ever use the word "class" to describe her, but it was a classy move.

*Quoted for truth: "What did you win for? Reality program? So you didn't win for a real show." I love Don Rickles.

*Two good things will come from Stephen Colbert losing to Rickles: (1) I can't wait to hear his rant about it and (2) a probable appearance by Mr. Warmth on "The Colbert Report".

*I really loved "John Adams" winning most of its categories, but cutting off the writer while he was talking about a time when articulate men discussed important issues to tease the "Best Reality Show" award...not so much.

*Yay for 30 Rock...double yay for Alec Baldwin...triple yay for Tim Conway (one of the funniest men on the planet) winning for his guest role. Thanks, Tina Fey!

*Best presenter and (if the television academy had any brains at all) my choice for next year's host...Ricky Gervais.

*Josh Groban's theme show medley...cool. Josh Groban singing as Cartman from South Park...awesome!

*If your show is running long, perhaps consider cutting the painfully unfunny bit where the winner of Reality Host is delayed until after the commercial break. Better idea...dump the stupid reality show stuff back to basic cable and get it off a show that is supposed to honor creative and artistic achievement. Even better idea...dump reality all together, put the ridiculous sums earned from it into program development and talent acquisition and make shows that are thought provoking, exciting and funny again.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Caged Bird

I have an ongoing debate with a friend of mine about Nicolas Cage. He feels that he is one of the greatest actors of his generation and I feel he's a giant cheeseball who hasn't lived up to his potential.

Depending on your tolerance for Cage and his ouevere, I suspect we're both right. But it does call into question just how we view films and what we get from the experience.

What's most important to us...the project as a whole or the individual components that make up the whole. For my friend Travis, the presence of Nicolas Cage in a film supercedes the overall quality of the film itself.

I know where he's coming from...I love many movies for individual performances or moments rather than for how "good" the film itself is. But I also know folks who don't care about great writing, directing or acting if they don't like the mechanics of the movie.

Neither opinion is 100% right or 100% wrong. How any work of art affects us is a matter of perception and that is filtered through the prism of the viewer's life.

When I hear people say they didn't "get" a movie or it wasn't "about" anything, I think they're more interested in the big picture rather than the parts of the whole.

But I still think Nicolas Cage has been coasting since "Leaving Las Vegas", but I guess a brother's gotta eat. Anyone up for "Con Air 2"?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Talking Out Of My Ear

From time to time, I might have an opinion on topics that I know less than nothing about (which, according to some people is all the time) but nevertheless feel the need to spout off about...so welcome to the first installment of Talking Out Of My Ear...today's topic is parenting.

I don't have kids. It's important to know that right up front. I have no idea about the stresses and challenges of raising children in today's world. I do know, however, that some parents shouldn't be allowed to raise sea monkeys, much less children.

I call it the "Joshua/Kennedy Syndrome." I'll be sitting quietly in a primarily adult establishment like Starbucks for example and in they'll come....little Joshua (usually between the ages of 9-11) wearing khaki shorts and a polo shirt. If his mom is especially cruel, he'll be sporting a hideous pair of Crocs. He'll be jumping up and down, babbling at the top of his lungs. His little sister Kennedy (approximately 4-6) follows...no shoes, juice stains on her face. She's always upset and alternates between whining and crying (also at the top of her lungs). Mom is on the cell phone and will remain on it for the duration of their stay. She plops the little darlings at a table, spends about 10 minutes trying to get them to decide what they want and then leaves them there as she goes to place the order...still on the phone. Joshua and Kennedy, who find themselves without supervision, proceed to make laps around the store screaming and/or crying at (yes, you guessed it) the top of their lungs. Mom, finally deciding to pay attention to the fruit of her loins, spends the next hour saying things like "Joshua, please don't touch that...Joshua, remember what we talked about...Kennedy, please don't climb on that...Kennedy, your behavior is unacceptable" as I contemplate shoving a stir stick into my ear just to get some relief. Multiply this by a factor of 5 if it's two or more moms who decided to stop after their yoga class and brought the whole brood with them.

First of all, Starbucks is not a day care center. If you want to ignore your kids while you have coffee, there's a McDonald's right up the street. Dump Joshua and Kennedy in the ball pit and chat with Margot about the curtains to your heart's content. Here's a good rule of thumb...if said establishment doesn't have a designated kids area, then hang up the phone and supervise the little angels. Also...don't leave them out of sight in a room full of strangers while you place the order. If you can't ride herd long enough to order a Venti soy milk green tea frappucino, then consider using the drive through.

Also, we don't negotiate with terrorists so why would you negotiate with a 6 year old. Getting input is fine...but taking up 20 minutes trying to explain to little Trinity why she'll be happier in the long run by making healthy food choices, which will lead to increased empowerment and higher self esteem while 10 people wait in line is incredibly annoying. Just tell her she can't have a damn cookie for breakfast and move along.

It has gotten to the point that I will sit in the smoking section of restaurants just to avoid sitting next to Joshua/Kennedy. I am willing to risk cancer rather than put up with screaming children and parents who do nothing to stop the screaming. If there are kids in the smoking section, at least I can count on their diminished lung capacity and energy level to keep the chaos to a minimum.

But what do I know...I'm just Talking Out Of My Ear.

Social Studies

A couple of (hopefully) brief and (hopefully) entertaining diversions into some cultural matters.

*When I think about John McCain and his desire to be president, I can't help but remember and compare it to the Madonna/Lauper choice of 1983.

Travel back with me to a more innocent time..."Return of the Jedi" was bringing the Star Wars saga to a (mostly) satisfying conclusion, MASH was getting ready to start it's historic final season and MTV was still playing videos. Suddenly, two new stars appeared on the horizon taking the music world by storm. Madonna and Cyndi Lauper were the golden girls of the moment, but only one could ultimately claim the title of "Queen of Pop". If you had asked me then, I would have bet the farm on Cyndi Lauper. She was cute, had an interesting sound, made really entertaining videos and even hung out with Captain Lou Albano. But I totally underestimated how far Madonna was willing to go to be the top dog. She had talent, yes, but Madonna was willing to do anything and I mean ANYTHING to be the biggest star in the world: Sell old nude modeling photos to Playboy, tick off the Roman Catholic church, agree to star in "Who's That Girl" and even sleep with Sean Penn. Cindy never had a chance.

So when I think of the John McCain of 2000, someone who was a troublemaker in Washington and a Republican that even I could vote for and then I see him today, reaching out to the fringe elements of the party...well, it makes me a little sad.

*I was in the car the other day and passed a house that had a large Confederate flag on display. On the one hand, I was glad to see it. It always makes me happy when morons take the time to advertise that they're morons...saves me the effort of forming my own opinions.

I grew up in the South and have seen and heard every possible justification for keeping this divisive symbol around in the 21st Century: "It's a cultural symbol...It's a reminder of a bygone era...It's honors the legacy of men who fought for a lost cause". All of these statements are true...but since you could say the same thing about a Swastika, it holds no water with me. Take it down Bubba...if you want to revel in Antebellum nostalgia, "Gone With The Wind" is readily available on DVD.

*An acquaintance of mine wanted to share some information with me the other day. He was telling me about this 70 hour lecture series that proves, PROVES beyond a shadow of a doubt that hundreds of years ago the Roman Catholic church founded Islam. Listening to him, I kept my expression blank. When confronted with such an obviously psychotic notion, it's best to not react. He told me that most people, after sharing this tidbit with them, told him he was crazy. I did not take the opportunity to mention that I wasn't a theatre minor for nothing.

I'm not a big believer in conspiracy theories. When asked how I account for "______" (fill in your whacked out theory here), I fall back on the tried and true and if it's not it should be scientifically proven notion that Stuff Happens. In fact, I would go so far as to say that no one was more surprised at what Lee Harvey Oswald did in November 1963 than Lee Harvey Oswald himself...and probably President Kennedy.

OK...so, not so brief but hopefully entertaining.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Enemy Mine

I've been doing some pondering as I've been wandering out under the stars and I've come to the conclusion that my life would be infinitely more interesting if I had an arch-enemy.

Now, I'm talking here about a real, Silver Age, old-school arch-enemy. Someone who pops up every few months, makes my life more interesting and then is easily dispatched thus returning everything to the status quo. Not like the villains of today who will kill your family, burn your house, steal your dog and not lose any sleep over it. I'm thinking more Cesar Romero Joker than Heath Ledger Joker.

The key to picking an arch-enemy is to find someone who annoys you enough to get your attention but not so much that you want to stick an icepick in their ear. It's a delicate balance, even more so if you follow the traditional narrative where the hero is somehow responsible for creating the villain in the first place (Batman/Joker, Superman/Lex Luthor, Al Gore/George W. Bush)...but since my life is already complicated enough, I'm going to skip that part.

You also need to pick someone who you know you can defeat. No sense leaving it up to chance. But be careful...if you're not good at physical confrontation your options are limited. You don't want to be known as the guy who beat up Johnny the paperboy with only one leg. Likewise, an intellectual victory is nowhere near as sweet if the only person you can outwit is dumber than a bag of hammers.

So...I'm taking applications for an arch-enemy. I offer no medical or dental benefits, no retirement plan or stock options and very little room for advancement. However, I do offer free publicity and promise at least once a battle to shake my fist and curse your name to the heavens in my best Shatneresque tones. Drop off your resumes at human resources. Notes From Nerdvana is an equal opportunity employer.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Clearing The Decks

It's become apparent to me that the last few missives here have been a bit...cranky. It seems I've drifted slightly from my original purpose (shamelessly narcissistic and hopefully amusing stuff about me) and headed down another path entirely (shamelessly narcissistic pseudo-philosophical rants tinged with bitterness and/or regret). So I feel the need to clear the decks and get back to basics...there was a real danger this here blog might become responsible and mature and I just can't have that!

Now without further adieu, and with apologies to John Caravala a.k.a. Dr. Johnny Fever.....I'm gonna drag the needle over the record, put on my shades and loudly and proudly proclaim.....


Ah...that feels better.

In the spirit of lightening the &*%# up...I proudly present....

  1. Blazing Saddles
  2. The Miracle of Morgan's Creek
  3. Dumb and Dumber
  4. Young Frankenstein
  5. The Naked Gun
  6. Airplane
  7. A Fish Called Wanda
  8. Animal House
  9. The Jerk
  10. The Producers
Please note the absence of any member of the Wayans family on this list....it's not an accident.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Step Off

  • It has been requested by a loyal reader that I address an underlying theme that was present in my blog the other day (the one about social networking sites)...that they made it easy for people to stalk their long-lost friends. I took some time to mull it over, to consider all of the factors of privacy and societal mores and the sociological, psychological and ethical boundaries that could be crossed and came to, what I believe, a sensible, rational and morally defensible conclusion:

Cyberstalking is creepy and weird. If you're doing it...knock it off.

This has been a public service announcement from Notes From Nerdvana, Inc.

  • I took a break from all the chaos in the world this weekend. The news was all bad...Hurricane Ike, rising gas prices, an increasingly contentious and mean-spirited presidential campaign...it was enough to give a brother a severe case of the blues. So, I checked out...went to a double feature on Saturday with Sainted Wife and then spent the rest of the weekend immersed in "The Andy Griffith Show" on dvd.
I decided that would do me a whole lot more good to spend time with Andy, Opie and Barney than it would to watch Wolf, Brokaw and "60 Minutes".

Friday, September 12, 2008

Shift To The Left, Shift To The Right

One of the things I love about social networking sites like Facebook is the ability to reconnect with people I knew when I was growing up. It's very cool to find out someone you hung out with in high school still remembers you and wants to know what you've been up to.

I've noticed an interesting trend, though, while finding my old friends. A lot of them have become a lot more conservative socially and politically over the years. This, in and of itself, isn't necessarily a surprise considering where I grew up and the crowd I used to run with. We were all pretty much good kids...didn't party, didn't do drugs and were pretty insulated from the evils of society by our parents and Sunday School teachers.

Of course, things change when you get out into the real world. You learn that everyone wasn't raised in the suburbs with a white picket fence and a loving Mom & Dad. You learn that not everyone was at church every time the doors opened. You learn that not all good people are good all the time, just like not all bad people are bad all the time. You learn about life.

Somewhere between graduating high school and turning 30, you become the person you're going to be. After that, your opinions and perception of the world are shaped by your circumstances. How you see things depends a lot on if you're married, if you have kids, if you have a job that pays the bills or if you're barely making it. People who once railed against the system and corporate America decide that eating and sleeping indoors is a pretty good thing and kids who saw the world strictly in black and white discover sometimes there are shades of gray.

I thought about all of this as I read over the profiles of my old friends. Then I realized that I was making radical assumptions about people I really care about based on a bunch of 1s and 0s on the Interwebs. People are complicated, messy and inconsistent...exactly like life. The anonymity of the web robs us of real, human interaction and personal contact.

Just because someone wants to elect John McCain or Barack Obama doesn't define them as a person...it's merely a small part of who they are. To badly paraphrase Walt Whitman "We are large...we contain multitudes."

My Book O' The Week

It was an interesting week, comics-wise. Everything I picked up was good (Except Deadpool #1, which was barely average)...but nothing jumped out as exceptional.

Which is why my Book O' The Week is more accurately my Trades O' The Week....


I've really been digging Grant Morrison's run on Batman. Before he took over the writing chores, it had been many years since I had picked up and individual issue. I kept up with the character mainly through his guest appearances, Justice League and the repository of all knowledge that is the Interwebs. But when I heard that the Mad Scotsman was going to be the new writer, I thought I'd give it a shot.

If you've been following his latest arc "Batman: R.I.P.", you know that Grant is sending Batman down a twisted path that throws in a mysterious villain known as The Black Glove, The Joker, revelations about Bruce Wayne's father, Bat-Mite, adventures from the Silver Age and the kitchen sink as well. What I didn't realize (and should have) was that Morrison was laying the groundwork for R.I.P. at the very beginning of his run.

"Batman and Son" introduces us to Damian (oh Grant...you're many things, but subtle isn't one of them), the result of a wild night in the desert with longtime adversary Talia who is the daughter of Ra's Al Guhl. Damian, being raised by the League of Assassins, is the very definition of a "problem child" and his introduction to the Bat Family doesn't go smoothly.

Aside from the great storytelling, foreshadowing of future events and a ten-year old kid beating up Alfred, "Batman and Son" also throws in flying Man-Bat Ninjas. That's right....flying Man-Bat Ninjas. It doesn't get much cooler than that. Highly, highly recommended.

Which leads into "The Black Glove". Once again, Morrison brings a Silver Age concept into the modern era. Batman once belonged to "The Club of Super Heroes", whose membership featured the Batmen of Many Nations. They've all been assembled on a remote island and are being killed off one by one. But what seems like a simple locked room mystery introduces the main villain for "R.I.P.", the Black Glove and lays more foundation for what's to come.

One of the (many) charges leveled at Grant Morrison is that the individual issues of his stories sometimes don't make much sense...he waits until the end to pull all the threads together. This is true. But as readers, I think we've been gotten lazy in the age of Interweb spoilers. We have to know everything up front, even how the story is going to end. Half the fun of reading fiction is the journey we take finding out not just what happens, but how it happens. With his run on "Batman", Morrison is not only giving us great individual stories, but creating an epic tale of the Dark Knight and his journey to madness and back (maybe...the story's not finished). I don't know where Grant is headed, but I sure am enjoying the ride!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Long Fight

For the past hour, I've been eavesdropping on a girl's conversation here at Starbucks. She's expounding her many, many theories about politcs, religion, anime & vampires at a volume that makes it virtually impossible not to overhear. She's young, opinionated and very passionate about her ideas. She seems to be fueled by caffeine and righteous rage.

God bless her...I just can't do that anymore. I don't know if I've compromised my values or mellowed with age, but the idea of having this shotgun blast of activism, anger and geekiness 24-7 makes me tired.
Passion is a wonderful thing...it can change the world (or at least your little corner of it) and create indelible works of art. But the fire and sacrifice needed to generate that kind of heat is incredibly demanding. Too often, the end result is burning up or burning out...and not everyone is willing or able to sustain it.

The long fight is inherently a young person's game. That's why we need to encourage the next generation to be active in their communites, dream big dreams and pay attention to what's going on in their world. Change doesn't come from politicians or organizations or governments...it comes from individuals willing to take the risk to fight the long fight.

As for me? Well, I'll let that great philosopher Billy Joel answer that question:
"I believe I've passed the age
Of consciousness and righteous rage
I've found that just surviving
Is a noble fight
I once believed in causes too
I had my pointless point of view
Now it doesn't matter
Who's wrong or right"