Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Graphic Novel Challenge

I completed the expert level of the Graphic Novels Challenge 2010 by reading more than 6 graphic novels. The books I read are listed below. I'm hoping I can incorporate an even wider variety of graphic novels and TPBs into my reading for 2011.

1. The Twilight Zone: Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up? Mark Kneece, et al
Star Trek: Countdown Mike Johnson & Tim Jones
The Twilight Zone: The Big Tall Wish Mark Kneece and Chris Lie
The Dark Tower: Treachery Robin Furth, Peter David, et al.
5. The Dark Tower: The Fall of Gilead Robin Furth, Peter David, et al.
Heroes: Volume Two Various
The Twilight Zone: The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street Mark Kneece, Rich Ellis, et al.
Star Trek: Spock-Reflections Scott & David Tipton, et al.
High Soft Lisp Gilbert Hernandez
10. Shrek Graphic Novel Various
The Wizard of Oz Graphic Novel Adpt. Michael Cavallaro
The Storm In the Barn Matt Phelan
The Dark Tower: Battle of Jericho Hill Robin Furth, Peter David, et al.
The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks Max Brooks
15. Purple Smurfs Peyo
Wonder Woman: Hiketeia Greg Rucka
Tenken Yumiko Shirai
Drinking At the Movies Julia Wertz
Atlas Black: Managing to Succeed Jeremy Short, Tayla Bauer, et al.
20.Benny and Penny in the Big No-No Geoffrey Hayes
The Sons of Liberty, Vol. 1 Alexander & Joseph Lagos
The Smurf King Peyo
23. The Odyssey, Graphic Novel Gareth Hinds

Media Consumed: November 2010

Books Read
When a Nation Forgets God Erwin Lutzer
*Drinking at the Movies Julia Wertz
+Ice Cream and Sadness Kris Wilson, et al
*Atlas Black: Managing to Succeed Jeremy Short, Tayla Bauer, et al.
+The Deranged Stalker's Journal of Pop Culture Shock Therapy Doug Bratton

* = denotes graphic novel or TPB
+ = denotes a collection of comic strips

November was a kind of slow month for me reading-wise. I only finished five books, two of which were graphic novels and two that were comic strip collections. When a Nation Forgets has a message that needs to be heard, though it's a book that many would be prejudiced against before even attempting to read. Atlas Black: Managing to Succeed is actually a business text book, but told in the form of graphic novel. I have never had a business class, but the info in the book reminded me of the basic info in other subjects I read and was taught in various introduction classes. You might not learn everything you need to start a business, but the book does an excellent job of presenting basic business and economic philosophies, theories, and practices.

The Deranged Stalker's Journal of Pop Culture Shock Therapy was the best book I read in November. "Pop Culture Shock Therapy" is a one-panel comic strip I recently have been introduced to. If you've ever seen Robot Chicken, "Pop Culture Shock Therapy" is like that show, but condensed into one panel. The book is written as though there was a psychopath who was obsessed with the author and after he was arrested, this journal of his musing and newspaper cutouts was found. It's a very interesting concept that's also told in an amusing way.

Movies Watched For the First Time
The Groove Tube
True Grit (1969)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1
Kung Fu Panda

Though dated, The Groove Tube was an interesting video to watch. Much of its humor would be lost on audiences of today, but it's a major parody on some staple tv items of the mid-1970s. I enjoyed Secretariat and found it inspiring. It's not as strong a film as Seabiscuit, but it's still a good movie. Skyline was a complete disappointment. Megamind was better than I expected to be and is a solid comedy.

John Wayne and Robert Duvall are the best things about the original True Grit. I had never seen the film until last month. I made it a point to see it because of the amazing previews I had seen about the new version by the Coen brothers.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1 is the best Harry Potter movie since Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It's also a fairly decent movie on it's own right. A six-year old kid piqued my interest in seeing Kung Fu Panda. It was a good movie and not uninspired as I had previously thought. Lastly, Tangled is the 50th Animated Walt Disney movie and one that harkens back to the old Disney animated movies, but with a touch of modern sensibility.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Real New York Blizzard Blues

I'm sick of hearing New Yorkers whine about the snow sitting in front of their driveways right now. I hate winter. However, I live in the part of the Midwest where we get our share of winter weather. I complain about the winter weather, but I do what I can before and when the stuff comes: putting salt on the sidewalk and driveways, shoveling snow, covering the windshield or scraping ice if I forget the cover, taking extra time to travel places, etc. It's a pain, but it's a part of what comes with winter. If you live in New York you would be used to lots of snow in winter. From what I've been told, the people there have access to snow shovels and salt just like we do. You can complain about the weather, but you shouldn't expect the government to come around and clean the snow out of your driveway or off your walk.

The current New Yorkers are a bunch of wusses. *From the 18th Century until the early part of the 20th Century before automobiles were standard, the streets of New York City were crowded with more than 100,000 horses at any given time. Those horses produced about 2.5 million pounds of manure each day. During the long, icy winters the city commonly built up a mixture of snow and dung that raised the street level up to five feet. That's one of the major reasons the iconic brownstones feature lifted, second-story stoops. Five feet of frozen ice and poo. That would be something to whine about.

*This info is taken from the book Everybody Poops 410 Pounds a Year by D. Flanagan and David Dudley.

Suing McDonald's

This story is nearly two weeks old, but it deserves commenting on.

According to the Chicago Tribune, McDonald's is being sued by Monet Parham of Sacramento, California for giving toys in children's meals. According to Parham's lawyers, "Children 8 years old (sic) and younger do not have the cognitive skills and developmental maturity to understand the persuasive intent of marketing and advertising."

In response to that, I don't think many adults understand the "persuasive intent of marketing and advertising." You need look no further than the cult of Oprah.

However, there's more. Parham said she is bringing the case because of constant requests for Happy Meals and if she refuses, the usual "pouting ensues and a little bit of disagreement. This doesn't stop with one request. It's truly a litany of requests."

Excuse me?! Kids ask for things all the time and most of them will whine if they don't get their way. It's the job of the parent to teach them that they can't have everything they want and if they pout and argue, that's too bad. They'll try it again, but if you remain steadfast, they'll give up. It's only when you give in to their whining that the requests will ever become a litany of requests.

If I was a judge, I wouldn't even hear this case and would throw it out. It has no place other than to make a mockery of our system and tie the courts up. Ms. Parham's problem is that she's tired of being a parent and just can't say no. However, instead of admitting as much, she's suing McDonald's.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Books and Reading

"Every act of reading is resistance."--Daniel Pennac, p. 95, Better Than Life

"As a product of our hyperactive consumer society, books are treated about as well as a hormone-injected chicken, and are certainly respected less than a nuclear missile."
--Daniel Pennac, p. 168, Better Than Life

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Top 10 Facebook Statuses in 2010

I filled out a survey on Facebook recently. I usually try to avoid those things. However, I thought this one was worth it. It showed you what your top 10 Statuses were for Facebook in 2010 based upon comments & likes. Here is my list.

1. Skydiving and finding a little bit of treasure along the yellow brick road. It's been a good day.

2. Saw Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Don King, Ozzy Smith, and a bunch of Rams football players tonight at the Other Premiere of THE OTHER GUYS in St. Louis. Was less than 5 feet away from them. Got some really good photos and video. Don King unexpectedly showed up before any other celebrities arrived. I think it’s the most attention he’s had in months.

3. Is saddened that TOY STORY 3 will probably lose the box office race this weekend as that movie about a young woman’s choice between necrophilia and bestiality opens.

4. Enjoying passing out Halloween treats.

5. HARVEY tonight (Oct. 8) and tomorrow night (Oct. 9) at 7:30pm, 1800 Lindenthal Ave., Highland, IL. Come out and see a classic American comedy with heart and a star-turning performance by me as Elwood P. Dowd.

6. To Celebrate Valentine’s Day, Change your Profile Picture to a picture of you alone in some secluded location. If you want you can tell people how long you’ve been alone. Copy and Paste this to your profile.

7. On my way to the Emerald City.

8. Last night of VBS. 134 people were there last night. Night bad for a town of 600.

9. “This hasn’t been a good day for me. Maybe if I’m lucky tomorrow will be a better day.” –--Charlie Brown.

10. “Faith is embracing the uncertainties of life.”—Mark Batterson

Random Christmas Eve Thoughts 2010

I hate winter. I hate the cold and all that comes with it. However, Christmas Eve and Christmas are about the only days anymore that I actually like when it snows. It is often written of how snow seems to purify everything and coming on the day that celebrates the birth of Jesus it seems appropriate that there is snow.

In the U.S. we celebrate Christmas in reverse. Our culture and the society in which we live suggests that Christmas begins weeks (our months) before Christmas Day and then after Christmas Day is over, Christmas is over. The thing is, Christmas Day is supposed to be the beginning of the celebration. You know that song "The 12 Days of Christmas"? The 12 Days of Christmas actually don't begin until the day after Christmas and go until January 6th. I know it's counterculture, but I try to celebrate that way. I find the idea of Christmas as the beginning of a celebration so much more appealing than the way we do it in our post-modern society.

The year isn't over, yet, so I'm trying to refrain from reflecting too much upon a year that still has over a week left in it (the world can quite literally change in a week). However, as I prepare for my annual reflections, I can say that this past year has been a very difficult one, yet laced with some incredible opportunities. As Christmas draws near, I look ahead and am filled once again with hope.

Hope is a wonderful thing. It's one of the most wonderful things in all of life. There's a reason Dante said that above the entrance of Hell it says "Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here."

Merry Christmas, everyone! And thank you, Jesus for being born.

If Facebook Had Existed During Jesus' Birth

Feces Facts

1. Everybody poops about 410 pounds a year.

2. The average American uses 24 rolls of toilet paper a year; altogether Americans use a total of of 7.2 billion rolls of toilet paper each year.

3. If you're poop is blue you've either eaten too much of a particular food coloring or you have a rare illness.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Don't Forget the Real Reason for Christmas

Children's Book Review: THE HALLOWEEN KID

As THE HALLOWEEN KID says, Halloween is a time for dressing up and getting sweet eats. However, sometimes there’s trouble and when there is, that’s when the Halloween Kid appears. The Kid wears a cowboy hat and mask, carries a lasso, and rides a magical stick horse. He’s wrestled pumpkin-sucking vampires, captured leaf-pile ghosts, and trapped the Giant Miami Werewolf. Halloween goes on without any problem for years until the Goodie Goblins show up. Pranks are played, candy is stolen, and pumpkins are smashed. Some people stop handing out candy and others keep their youngsters inside. There’s even talk in the village of canceling Halloween altogether. But then, the Halloween Kid appears and tracks the Goodie Goblins to their secret cave. He plans to round them up, but ends up getting captured himself. It’s up to his trusty steed and the children of the village to rescue the kid, chase off the goblins, and make sure Halloween isn’t canceled.

The overall story of THE HALLOWEEN KID is enjoyable and it has a good message about standing up and doing the right thing even when you’re afraid. However, what I liked most about the book is the writing style and the illustrations. The book is written and illustrated by the same person, which is somewhat unusually in children’s books. My parents grew up watching Westerns on tv and at the movies and as a result, I grew up watching many of those shows through tapes and on cable. There is a particular style to a Western and ones from that era or even more distinct. THE HALLOWEEN KID perfectly captures the distinct mood, style, and tone of the old-time Westerns. Not only that, but all of the illustrations are drawn in mostly shades of orange and black with a hint of brown and a few tints of yellow. Overall, it makes for a very memorable and enjoyable Halloween children’s book. So, sit back, relax and travel back to those days of yesteryear with THE HALLOWEEN KID.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

IBM's Watson Vs. Two Jeopardy! Champions

In the past couple of days it was announced that JEOPARDY!'s top winners, Brad Rutter& Ken Jennings, would be facing the IBM supercomputer named Watston in a series of matches to be played during the week of Valentine's Day 2011. You can read the official JEOPARDY! press release here. I'm hoping that both Rutter and Jennings kick butt.

If you're interested, you can test your own skills against Watson by playing a JEOPARDY!-type game against the computer here.

Jeff Bridges' SNL Promos

Jeff Bridges is hosting Saturday Night Live this Saturday, December 18, 2010. Like most of the guest hosts for the show, there's a series of short promos that are airing on tv this week. Below are the three Jeff made. The best of the three is the last one where Jeff introduces Joel and Ethan Coen. It made me laugh.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Charlie Brown and Me

I have been a fan of “Peanuts” most my life. I’ve been a reader of newspapers since I was in the fourth grade. When I first started reading newspapers there were two sections I always read: the front page section and the comics section. I now read all of the comics in the comics section, even those I don’t like very much, because I love the art form of the comic strip. I’ve had some favorites over the years, but my favorite strip of all time is “Peanuts”. I’ve been reading those since I started reading newspapers and was quite familiar with Charlie Brown and the gang long before through the tv specials and cartoon series. As life went on, I came to understand that Charlie Brown and I are very much alike. We are kindred spirits and I think he will always be the fictional pop cultural icon that I am most similar to.

Dorothy: Fairy Tale Witch Hunter

Monday, December 13, 2010

Star Wars in Oz

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Craig Ferguson and Doctor Who

Who's the real king of late night? Craig Ferguson.

For No Reason At All

Sarah: I need you, Hoggle.
Hoggle: You do?
Sarah: [nods] I don't know why, but every now and again in my life - for no reason at all - I need you. All of you.
Hoggle: You do? Well... WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY SO?

--from the movie LABYRINTH

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

What I'm Reading Right Now

Here are some of the books I'm reading right now (Wednesday, December 8, 2010):

Hallelujah Chorus Flash Mob in Canadian Mall Food Court

This video brings a smile to my face. Everyone there seems to joyful and happy.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Where's the Line to Jesus Music Video

Monday, December 06, 2010

My Life: Passion 2010

I've been meaning to post this for awhile, but I just kept forgetting about it.


Skeletor in Oz

Charlie Brown and Pistachios

I love Charlie Brown-I'm very much like a living Charlie Brown in many ways. I also like pistachio nuts. Therefore, I was tickled when I saw this commercial the other day.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

THE BEAVER trailer

This movie could be a complete flop, but I still want to see it. I've watched more bizarre films in the past than this.

Friday, December 03, 2010

A "DeFlocked" Thanksgiving Homage to Charlie Brown

This comic ran in newspapers on Thanksgiving Day. I love it when the comics pay a small tribute to "Peanuts" and Charlie Brown.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

What Dorothy Should Have Said

What Dorothy should have said: