Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Little Orphan Annie, where are you going with those?

I thought I'd seen everything that Sanrio could brand, but I am amused and aghast at what I just discovered. Hello Kitty gas cans and chainsaws. For the little sociopath who wants to look adorable while wrecking havoc on an uncaring society.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Philosophers and Zombies

Don't ask how I got here but check out this amusing survey of what Philosophers believe. Check out the final question:

Zombies: inconceivable, conceivable but not metaphysically possible, or metaphysically possible?

Lean toward: conceivable but not metaphysically possible 191 / 931 (20.5%)
Accept: conceivable but not metaphysically possible 140 / 931 (15%)
Accept: metaphysically possible 115 / 931 (12.3%)
Lean toward: metaphysically possible 102 / 931 (10.9%)
Insufficiently familiar with the issue 84 / 931 (9%)
Lean toward: inconceivable 82 / 931 (8.8%)
Accept: inconceivable 67 / 931 (7.1%)
Agnostic/undecided 61 / 931 (6.5%)
The question is too unclear to answer 40 / 931 (4.2%)
There is no fact of the matter 12 / 931 (1.2%)
Skip 10 / 931 (1%)
Reject all 10 / 931 (1%)
Other 9 / 931 (0.9%)
Accept another alternative 5 / 931 (0.5%)
Reject one, undecided between others 3 / 931 (0.3%)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Webcomics auction on eBay

This is a charity auction for the Gulf Coast. My friend, the very awesome A. Hunt, and her artist, Tracy Williams has donated some cool stuff. Check it out and all the other webcomic goodies! If you have never clicked on the link to the right to visit Goodbye Chains, you are missing out. It's got everything that would piss off (yet oddly arouse) any "red-blooded" American (Marxism! The Love that Dare Not Speak Its Name! Horses!)

"All proceeds from the Web-Comics Auction will be donated to the Colbert Nation Gulf of America Fund, which is being managed by The Baton Rouge Area Foundation."

RIP Harvey Pekar

Though this is old news to some of you, I was saddened to learn of Harvey Pekar's death yesterday. He was a groundbreaking comics writer, bringing the everyday schmoo to comics. No superheroes, no bigger than life characters, just his life as a filing clerk in a hospital in Cleveland. He most famously worked with R. Crumb and many other artists, and can be credited as one of the earliest examples of autobiographical comics (which can be a good or bad thing depending on how annoying the subject is). His story was also made into a fantastic film, starring Paul Giamatti (as Harvey) and Hope Davis (as his wife, Joyce Brabner).

Here's to artistic schlubs everywhere! Raise your glasses to a guy who didn't often catch good breaks but let us enjoy his failures and fears.

Oh, and I just found out that George Steinbrenner died today. He owned the NY Yankees and he will probably be remembered by more people. Yet, he did much less than Harvey.

Monday, July 12, 2010


It's hot here in MISSISSIPPI (gotta get used to typing that -- I sing it in my head. Unlike saying conNECT-icut in my head) but so what else is new? It's funny how the body just remembers the heat. Is that like muscle memory? But I hear it was much, much hotter up north. Have things settled down up there?

I had planned a more organized blog post about the adventures of my trip down here. But a quick summary --
--cats have recovered from the trauma and are back to normal
--I have recovered from the trip
--my friendship with pal, Michelle, who made the trip with me seems intact
--Radio highlight of the trip -- a call-in swap shop-- Sorta like a aural Craigslist but less smutty -- in Tennessee between Memphis and Nashville about an item that's good for training your coon dog. (didn't catch what it was exactly).

More details to follow as I pull them from the depths of repression.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It will never end!

I have so much stuff to get rid of as the moving day looms! I found this ugly-cute cookie jar that I took from my mother when I first moved in here. It's a bundle of asparagus which I thought was hilarious to be a cookie jar. I mean, do you think of cookies when you eat asparagus (maybe, yes)? Or was it a foil to children? Or perhaps to remind one to eat better? Anyway, as cookie jars are very collectible, I thought I would try to find a place to sell it (plus asparagus+cookie+jar makes a tremendously easy search). Indeed, it appears to be a McCoy cookie jar and the dates for the asparagus jar are about the time my grandmother gave it to my mother (late seventies). So I post pics here for your enjoyment but also to see if I can sell it to a collector who might want it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I'd be much happier WITH the dollar

The title of this post is a Simpson's quote. Free stuff to the person who gets it and cites the relevance to this post.

I had a false start to this day. The first came when my phone rang and through my grogginess, I listened to the message. It was an automated one from the town alerting me to the fact that there was an overturned tractor trailer on Route 6 and that the road was being shut down. I rolled over and looked at the clock 6:30???? Really? Freakin's 6:30 in the morning. I had a half a mind (still being asleep) to make an angry phone call back. But I was angry and sleepy so I fell back to bed.

True morning arrived and I dithered around the house for a bit. I had a car full of boxes to be shipped to the recycling place in Missouri, and they needed to be gone so I could fill the car with more stuff to recycle. After further dithering (did you know there is a new Let's Make a Deal show, yeah, I didn't either and upon further exploration of what the web has to offer on this game show, I stumbled upon the classic three door conundrum of "The Monty Hall Problem." And no, it wasn't because of his personal life.) Anyway, I rushed to the post office, looking for a spot close by because I had three 30 pound boxes (and many thanks to Bernie who helped me take them down to my car) and who should I see but Perilous Cheryl herself! Out for her noontime post office visit. She was under the impression that I had left already but seemed pleased that I was still in town. I told her I was giving away lots of stuff (take the box! Take the BOX!). She indicated that cartoons would be an acceptable offering. Lo and behold, I flipped open my trunk and there was a box of videos that I was going to dump in a donation box later today (what with them being legal and all, not fansubs). I felt a camaraderie with purveyors of goods that fell off a truck!

Deal done (although I still have the tapes -- I know where you live!), I went into the post office where Joe, my pal, gave me a dolly to push my boxes. Media mail was not expensive and I walked out feeling smug about my green-ness. Back to the apartment where I awaited two gentleman callers to do heavy lifting. Ken arrived and because the day was muggy, we decided to put in the A.C. which can be a little tricksy. (A.C is for sale, but not until I move out. I want to get rid of stuff but I'm not stupid). Then Leigh showed up. Leigh took back the four chairs that he had loaned me several years ago. He also got Kate's Hello Kitty planter with plant (for Ro). (Anybody want a plant?). Ken helped me take the rest of my computer down to the car.

Then the grand road trip. First a stop at the movers with some more questions. Then to Best Buy where they took my dinosaur of a computer. I shopped for a hard drive case but could not find one that I felt I wanted to buy. I drooled over the televisions (avert your eyes!!) and then we dumped videos in the bin. Lunch/dinner at Panera Bread. Then to Petco to return the leash/harness set I had purchased thinking I would train Boo to use it. Ha ha! I looked at kennels but ended up with Feliway spray instead. Then since Ken is an aficionado of malls, we went to Crystal Mall and walked around. There is a huge comic book/action figure/vintage video game systems store there. If you ever wanted an action figure. There is where you can find it. Ken was in heaven. I asked if there was a Mandarin Spawn figure since mine had been decapitated (many of my figures end up that way), and he told me that those are a hot item. Even out of the box, 60 bucks. Damn! So, more looking. I saw a pink bunny mecha kit which looked like fun and should set a cool statement in my office but decided to pass (too much work). However, I was tempted by a Big Barda figure in one of the cases. Since we had spent so much time asking so many questions, both of us felt we should buy something. And, it has been a long time since I got a new action figure.

The guy, being a good salesmen, asked if I wouldn't want to buy Mister Miracle, her husband. Ken had to laugh because he knew what I was going to say "she doesn't need a man." So, she will join my shrine to female superheroes. If only I could find the Valkyrie and Hellcat (aka Patsy Walker).

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

updates that keep me sane

You will all probably get tired of the excruciating detail of my impending move but I find that marking the minor milestones makes me majorly ....happy? (fill in your "m" word here. Best submission will get free stuff!)

So far, I have set up an Internet connection and talked to an animal hospital, giving them all the skinny on my kitties. I think I am about to be ma'am'ed to death. I mean, I'm used to it because of the Academy but it's weird coming from people my age or older. Still, it's nice to have very friendly service.

In case you are all interested, I am recycling my numerous VHS tapes at a non-profit called ACT Recycling and Employment Services. I wonder what they will think when they open all those fansubs? I'll let you all know how it goes.

28 Days and Counting

Twenty-Eight Days before the planned move. I find that I am not as attached to my stuff as I thought. Books, CDs, videos, appliances are flying out the door to any taker. This weekend I plan to do the big flea market with the Queen. Hopefully I can purge even further. If you are in the area, feel free to drop by and see what goodies you can relieve me of.

I will have a full washer and dryer for sale. I plan on donating my refrigerator.

I will also be sending out e-mails to all my friends for packing and cleaning parties. Unfortunately, those who "owe" me for packing and cleaning are, oddly, out of state. So I will be calling on big favors and promise to ply with food and beer (or whatever). My friend, Michelle, is coming up on the 26th to help and she will drive down with me and kitties to Mississippi. Ye gods, I owe her big.

In the meantime, I plan on June 25th and June 27th to be the big days for work. I hope to blog frequently to keep myself sane. I have already made a list of what to do this week. It makes my brain hurt but I will endure!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My new house!

I posted these to Facebook but since the blog has been malingering, I thought I would post here as well.

The front of my little house. It's a complex of similar-looking places. Not much yard. You can see the tiny patio on the side.

The kitchen. It's open to the living room area.

Eat-in kitchen. There is a full washer and dryer through those doors.

View of the living room. Front door to the left. Flooring is dark gray ceramic tiles.
Another view of the living room. That's the door to the patio. This is the model house so the furniture, sadly, does not come with it.

Vaulted ceilings. Each room has a ceiling fan which should cut down on the cooling costs.

There are three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Two bedrooms have en suite bathrooms and there is one in the hallway. I'm not bothering to post all the bedroom pics because they are pretty much the same. So, I'll have my room, a guest room, and an office! There's room for visitors! And the kitties will have their own bathroom!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

It's Springtime!

And the weather has been glorious -- just perfectly lovely. Wish I was a cat to sit in the window listening to all the birds twittering to each other. I am darn motivated to see some darn warblers this spring. The only one I've ever spotted was the yellow warbler. I was out with my birding pal, Chris a few springs ago. Since he was teaching me the basics, we spotted this yellow fellow, and Chris asked me what I thought it was. I pointed to the cover of my birding book and said "this one?"

A few weeks ago, I went on an owl walk in Hampton. It's hard to believe now but it was cold and there was a lot of snow on the ground. About fifty(!) of us stood around in the night listening to the various owl calls on an iPod. We positioned ourselves around in a circle so people could spot the owls and point them out. I secretly hoped that it would not be me because it can be quite challenging to describe where the creature is: "it's in that tree, on a low branch." Yeah, right. Well, we saw nothing. Absolutely nothing. I was not surprised because I think it has something to do with my person that repels birds. Still, it's nice that what with the world of "information on demand" that nature can still refuse to show up and be counted.

Friday I did go out for a walk and spotted one bird I hadn't seen before -- the golden-crowned kinglet. I impressed myself with how easy I found it in my book and made an ID. I am improving!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

For all my Creative Friends

You may already know about this because I always assume I am behind the curve, but I read on my Publisher's Weekly comics newsletter about a social networking site, kickstarter.com, for poeple who need funds for creative projects. It includes a variety of comics writers, filmmakers, and any artist you can think of -- including some cake decorators. Not everybody is automatically accepted to the site, making it a little more exclusive. Notable entries include editorial comics guy Ted Rall who is looking to raise funds to go back to Afghanistan.

I don't see any reason why my friends who are all very talented couldn't get certain projects off the ground with the help of this site. I think it's really cool.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Cheryl!

I hope you had a very happy one! In honor of your birthday, I created a light show over Vancouver. No, really, I did. Check it out (or see pic below). It's a massive installation art piece where the artist positions high-powered searchlights in a city. People log onto the page and move the lights in a pattern for their choosing (including height and direction -- although there is a limitation because I would imagine that people would not want the lights streaming into their apartments). After creating the design, it's queued for the night and then when your turn comes, the lights move and freeze for fifteen seconds. Cameras at four different places capture the image and the site creates a webpage for you.

I heard about this on the PBS Newshour

Anyway, I couldn't think of a fitting tribute to a (insert pun here -- 1. bright 2. shining 3. illuminating 4. generally kickass) person for her birthday.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Belated Birthday wishes to Jill and movie reviews

I dedicate this post to my dear friend, Jill, who is currently residing about three time zones away in California. In honor of your birthday, I wish I could serve you some chocolate mousse and watch two of your favorite movies -- Legally Blonde and Dune. I miss the fact that I don't know what your current favs are! But I like the juxtaposition of the romantic comedy and the Lynch sci-fi epic. I wonder what order we should watch them in.

Speaking of movies, since Oscar season is upon us and since there are TEN nominated best picture films and that most of them are currently available on DVD, I've been lining them up on my Netflix queue. So here goes a couple months of what I've been watching.

Inglourious Basterds, directed by Quentin Tarantino. Couldn't get this from Netflix because it was so popular and I'm just a movie-watching chump that they wish they could throttle. So I rented it from redbox which was pretty easy. A very silly piece of film-making which surprises me that it received such acclaim because I saw nothing really that innovative or moving in this revisionist, fantastic WWII story. Perhaps because it was so surprising that Tarantino could create a film that did not explicitly rely on pop culture references -- unless you call war films and German film-makers part of that culture. Still, I will admit that Tarantino is a master of the scene. He can tease an event out with great tension and flair even though we might have seen them before. I mean, can the standoff in the bar really compare with what he did in Reservoir Dogs? I delight in his dialogue and revel in the post-modern approach of "this is and isn't how people talk" -- see more below when I talk about Mamet and the Coens. And the guy who got the juiciest lines, Christoph Waltz much deserves his supporting Oscar nomination because it's always so much fun when he's onscreen and not at all what I was expecting. I didn't even mind Brad Pitt playing around in the film because Waltz would pop up again. I won't spoil for those who have not seen the film and still want to, but I was disappointed that the two plotlines did not dovetail better except through casual and brutal violence.

A Serious Man -- directed by the Coen brothers. Brutally funny in a way that Tarantino can't even near because the heart of the humor and the agony is the existential crisis. Tarantino's characters are always confident in what they know about the world, but not so in Coen brothers films. These characters get swept up by larger than life events and struggle to stay in that life, much less understand it (I think that was my problem with Burn After Reading because these people were so transparent in their motives and their struggles seemed very petty and mean) . How can a movie so deadly hilarious be so painful at the same time? The ending just made me cry. I very much see it as a companion to No Country for Old Men, where you know where the characters are heading, and it's a very bleak world. No one is rewarded for being decent. I rather long for the sweetness of the dream at the end of Raising Arizona but the brothers seems to have moved past that.

The Hurt Locker -- directed by Kathryn Bigelow (both film and director are nominated for an Oscar). Haven't watched it yet but it's sitting on my coffee table at the moment. I'm looking forward to it.

-- directed by James Cameron (who is, ironically Bigelow's ex-husband). Blah, blah, blah, so much has been written on it so I'll boil it down to the basics. Visually amazing. It was the first time I was watching a CG film and thought it looked real. Imaginative design. It's, what, like three hours? and I wasn't squirming in my seat. Negatives: Sigourney Weaver very underused. Didn't understand her character at all. Heavy-handed, cliched ridden message. Yeah, we know that corporations are the evil lurking behind the military-industrial complex. And yet another tribute to the noble savage and white guy's guilt. And, I don't know about you, but maybe I've been institutionalized but I was a little disturbed at seeing Marines getting blown up. I just kept imagining some poor soldier, who had nothing to do with the policies that Cameron is critiquing, back from hell sitting through this -- and hearing the crowd cheer at the big explosions. My students did point out to me that the marines were supposed to be "ex" but I seemed to miss that.

District 9 -- directed by Neill Blomkamp. I highly recommend that you see this if you haven't already. Much more thoughtful than Cameron's romp, but still a satisfying action film. Very gory -- I didn't realize how so until someone had pointed it out to me and then I recalled that I had planned to eat dinner in the middle of watching it and thought "yeah, I'll just wait a bit." The politics are also more interesting given its setting in South Africa with nods both to apartheid and current events of Zimbabwean refugees in that country. You'd never know from my review that it's a science fiction tale about a giant space ship with a bunch of aliens stranded? The special effects also made everything realistic like Cameron's film. But where his is squeaky clean, District 9, is muddy, dirty, and violent. You don't always get the answers for how and why, but the villains in this film are exactly how I would think humans would act in this situation. And the hero is not a squeaky clean, All-American guy fallen on hard time. This protagonist is the bane of the universe -- an incompetent bureaucrat (for the horror of competent bureaucrat see any Nazi film or read any Kafka). Not a perfect film but takes more chances than many that I have seen. I wish had seen it in the theater.

Up -- directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson. Aren't we in the middle of dire times? Recessions and job losses and wars and the like? What is it with these really sad films? Where are the silly musicals? That being said, within the first ten minutes of Up, I was already crying. The opening sequence was just too wonderful and, while it bordered on sentimentality, it was saved by the fact that it happened in the beginning. If it had been at the end, way too much weight would have been put on it. I don't think it was as good as Wall-E, a charming film with likable characters and enough laughs.

The Lovely Bones
-- directed by Peter Jackson (although someone should have slapped him while he was making it). I read the original book a few years ago by Alice Sebold since it had been so popular. The book was fine, but the movie was something else. I saw it with Faye who could barely contain herself during the film. The story, in a nutshell, is the murder of a young girl whose ghost watches as her family copes with her death. In the book, she provided a running commentary and was an interesting exercise in character development. In the film, Jackson has turned it into a ghost story where we spend just as much time in her magical world and in how she tries to affect events in her family life. I thought some of the parts were interesting but - and I have to agree with Faye -- most became really absurd. Jackson could also have benefited from some tighter editing and someone with the guts to rein him in a bit (see above slapping comment). Stanley Tucci is nominated for playing the skeezy serial killer but I think the Academy really wanted to nominate him for his fine turn in Julie & Julia but you know how it goes, if it bleeds, it leads. How many actors playing serial killers have won Oscars -- hmm Charlize Theron and Anthony Hopkins. Anybody else I'm missing?

Okay, I'm going on way too long here but I'll just sum up some of the other things I've been watching in the months I've been not-blogging.

Redbelt -- directed by David Mamet. I just recently watched this 2008 film and I wanted to write a meditation on movie dialogue with Tarantino, the Coens, and Mamet being the holy trinity but I'll have to put that off for now. Again, I don't always enjoy Mamet but his dialogue is hypnotic.

and the obligatory anime series:

Darker than Black (seasons one and two) -- interesting premise and characters which had potential but fell victim to the Evangelion story arc where all stories have to end in a big mystical nothing (talk about your Bloom's Anxiety of Influence). In Japan and in Brazil, two mysterious gates pop up which causes all sorts of havoc. One, the sky is gone and replaced with a false sky with false stars. Two, certain people develop superpowers and cease to have human emotions. They are called "contractors" because after they use their power, they have to "pay a price" -- and this has been a rather amusing part of the show. It can be as simple as pulling out hairs or smoking a cigarette to being forced to spill secrets, kiss someone, arrange pebbles in a particular order, and breaking fingers. Conspiracies abound as various government and NG organizations vie for the power in these Gates, and they hire these contractors to go around and do various nefarious deeds. It's a short series in mostly two episode blocks but we follow a group of characters who work for the "Syndicate." Then it settles into an end-of-the-world arc which did have me watching, waiting for the big pay-off. Not all the questions are answered, and neither will you find them in Season 2 which was dreck for a variety of reasons.

All right, got that out of my system. Will try to post more often so as not to inundate you with my insane rambling chatter, dear friends.