Thursday, December 29, 2005

Hail to the Losers: 7-5
The officiating was, to use Mike Tirico's word, "incompetent," but that does not excuse Rivas's missed field goal, Avant's fumble, Manningham's drop, Henne's overthrows, or the defense's fourth quarter collapse. My fear is that Lloyd will use the poor performance of the officials as cover for not making the changes that are so very, very necessary for the future of Michigan football.

Dear Bog, 7-5. Take away the two gimme wins against Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan and we finished the season 5-5. This is an unimaginable disaster, a nightmare. We're better than this. We have to be, right? Right?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Star Wars: Episodes I-VI
December 27, 2005
8:05am-11:15pm
Wilson household
Grand Blanc, Michigan

Attendees: The Mountain of Love, his girlflesh Susan, K. Steeze, The Professor, Ki-El, and The Last Angry Man.

And remember, only two motherfuckers ever destroyed a Death Star, and one of them was Lando Calrissian.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Magic of Shazam!
Unless you can fly like Superman and Captain Marvel or run really fast like The Flash (though both Superman and Captain Marvel can run really fast, too), as a modern superhero on the go you'll probably need some sort of vehicle. The Batman has the many incarnations of the Batmobile; the late, lamented Blue Beetle flew around in his unmistakable Bug; and even a third-tier also-ran like the Spy Smasher (Alan Armstrong) got around in a rocket/submarine called the Gyrosub. Yes, of course, because there's nothing more inevitable than a hybrid rocketplane/mini-submarine... or something. Also, Gyrosub? Sounds like a fine name for an aspiring retauranteer looking to take a chunk out of Subway's business, but a superhero's "wheels"? Oy.

Now, my new Spy Smasher (Avi Ducret), being a contrarian but decidedly non-superpowered Israeli, will also need a stylish and suitably heroic way of getting around, especially if he is going to travel all the way to Fawcett City (firmly rooted in the American Midwest). My conundrum is this: should he traverse the world in a new Gyrosub (rocket/U-boat) or a slightly less ridiculous but still fanciful VTOL-capable plane, visually based on the P-61 Black Widow? (Either way, it has to be able to hover midair, because all flying superheroic conveyances hover. It's a rule.) The argument in favor of the plane is it is slightly more realistic and will help cement Spy Smasher's role as a normal human, in contrast with the godlike power of the Marvel Family. On the other hand, it is a fanciful vehicle either way; so, I might as well go all out and embrace the awesomely ludicrous Gyrosub (name and all, it's a package deal). So, new Gyrosub or 21st Century P-61?

Word Association
Once more, I'm working ass-backwards. Here are some interesting names for villains. Now I just need to work on powers and, more importantly, characterizations:

Spitfire
Hotspur
Vexillum
Sunder
Dandelion

Spitfire & Hotspur are quite possibly a package deal, too.

Superduperman
I think if I ever get the chance to write for Superman I'm going to pull out all the stops. That means all the stories will have to have "super" titles. I've already got partial ideas for "Superego," "Superconductor," and "Superlative," and I see definite potential in "Superstition," "Superficial," and "Superfluous." It's classic BTW reasoning: it's so bad that it's gone all the way around the horn to good.

Super-Goons:

Phantom Tom - actually, he's pretty far along and so far I really, really like him
Arcturus
Positron Boy
The Alienist

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Foyle's War
For those of you who may not know, Foyle's War is a contemporary British television series chronicling the adventures of Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) in his role as the highest ranking police officer along the south coast of Great Britain during the Second World War. Look for an "Idiot Box" review in the upcoming Volume XI of The Newsletter. The show is extraordinary.

Series 1 - Late Spring/Summer 1940
"The German Woman"
"The White Feather"
"A Lesson in Murder"
"Eagle Day"

Series 2 - Fall 1940
"Fifty Ships"
"Among the Few"
"War Games"
"The Funk Hole"

Series 3 - Late Winter/Spring 1941
"The French Drop"
"Enemy Fire"
"They Fought in the Fields"
"A War of Nerves"

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

UNbelievable
Hyperlink! I never liked Kofi Annan, but before this I never thought he was a loon. A sleazebag, sure, but not a loon. If there's anyone he should be angry at over the Oil-for-Food fiasco, it is his son Kojo, not The Times. What a jerk. Also, James Bone is a really cool name.
The Mandate of Heaven
Hyperlink! This just isn't going to end well. In other news from China, a second river has become disastrously polluted due to an industrial accident, the second, it should be noted, in as many months. And for the first time in quite a long time (though not nearly long enough), lethal force was used to end a protest. None of these three items is really much of a surprise. Anyone in Hong Kong who actually expected Beijing to give the territory a truly democratic government is either a fool or an idiot, probably both. Every Communist country in the history of the world has been an environmental disaster area, and while China's economic policies have become more and more capitalistic over the last thirty years, there should be no doubt that the Chinese Communist Party still reigns supreme. The same remark applies to the murder of protestors. It's despicably monstrous, but entirely predictable.

The Newsletter Must Die
I would like to thank Neutral Man, the Mountain of Love, The Guy, his girlflesh Sarah, The Professor, K. Steeze, the Boy Wonder, and The Plate for their invaluable help in making the 2005 Annual a rousing success. I couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out unless I was being monetarily compensated. Man, I'd give your right arm to be monetarily compensated for editing-in-chief The Newsletter. In any event, the 2005 Annual kicks arse! Thanks, gang!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bwa-Ha-Ha!!!
A little Christmas gift to myself, I now own Keith Giffen's entire run of Justice League Europe and all but three of his issues of Justice League-cum-Justice League International-cum-Justice League America. I must continue the search for the three missing issues of JLI, but in the meantime I must begin collecting the JLI Annuals, Justice League Quarterly, and other JLI-era sundries.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Honolulu Blue Forever
Obviously, there was no way in hell we were going to beat the Bengals, but just for the record I would like to point out that the Lions are 3-6 in games Joey Harrington started as quarterback and 1-4 in games started by Jeff Garcia. As the head of the ACLU said, "Kill Zoidberg!" Or rather, Millen.
Perchance to Dream
In television shows and motion pictures, real life stimuli often carry over into dreams in real time, for instance, a leaky bathtub will cause the dreamer to dream of having been cast adrift amid great Neptune's ocean. I experienced this previously fictional scenario this morning for, I believe, the first time.

Feel free to laugh, but I was in The Ultimates, the reimagination of the superteam the Avengers in Marvel's continuity-free Ultimate Universe, and found myself in a scene of havoc and chaos. I cannot name who it was the Ultimates were fighting. Suddenly, I was racked with pain! My left arm was asleep, but the sensation was far more intense than I had ever before endured. Confused as all get out, I woke up to find that my left arm was in fact asleep; I must have been laying on it in exactly the right way, because, brother, my sinister apendage was alive with needles of pain but dead in the water. I got out of bed and walked around for a couple minutes until circulation and normal feeling were restored. It was wild.

Friday, December 16, 2005

I Blame Dan DiDio and Paul Levitz
This is getting fucking ridiculous. Our story thus far: I ordered the second DVD boxset of Superman: The Animated Series from Amazon.com. Hooray, for DVDs, right? Wrong. I was progressing through the epidoes, happy as a clam to be watching the Man of Steel pummel the likes of Metallo and Luminus, when in the middle of "Brave New Metropolis" the disc malfunctioned. The image became pixelated and then froze, the audio track became distorted and then started repeating a single syllable before suting out entirely. Grrr. But, hey, into every life a little rain must fall and I have always viewed Amazon's return policy as being quite fair and reasonable. I reported the problem, they shipped me a replacement, I returned the defective item on their dime, and we all lived happy ever after.

Except the same damn thing happened with the new boxset. On the same disc (Disc 2 being one side of the same physical disc as Disc 3), though in a different episode. This time, "Brave New Metropolis" played without interruption, only to encounter an identity defect in "World's Finest, Part 1." FUCKING HELL! One defective product is an irritating inconvenience, two are a full-blown farce. Clearly, the problem lies with the manufacturer, may they bleed from their eyes every day for the rest of their rotten lives. Once is a cock up; twice is, as stated above, fucking ridiculous.

Okay, fine and good, but how exactly are Dan DiDio (VP-Executive Editor of DC Comics) and Paul Levitz (President & Publisher of same) to blame? Simple. The boxset carries the new DC logo, the so-called "DC spin," DiDio and Levitz's idea for carrying the company forward into the 21st Century. (These two geniuses couldn't give two shits about the comics DC puts out, but they figure an ugly new logo will prove a panacea. Fucking boobs.) The first volume of Superman, an identical three-disc set that I watched from start to finish, including all the bonus features, bore the venerable old "DC bullet" logo, and I never had a single problem. the discs performed magnificently. Old logo, quality product. New logo, shit on a stick. Now DiDio and Levitz, those are two motherfuckers who desperately need to be hit in the face with a brick.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I can see now that most of the Secret Base's reader are Canuck-coddling commies. You bastards probably wake up to the tune of "O Canada" on your alarm clocks! Lousy Maple Leaf-loving so-and-sos....

Funny Book Follies
In other news, an odd thing happened at the comic book shop this week: I bought as many Marvel books as I did DC books. That has to be the first time that has happened since, oh, probably sometime in 2001. You see, I first started reading comics following the release of the movie X-Men, which I enjoyed greatly, during the Summer of 2000. The first five books I read were Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, and Batman. I caught Batman at the very beginning of Ed Brubaker's excellent run, but what really hooked me was penciller Scott McDaniel's brilliant art; McDaniel was my gateway into the DC Universe and for that I will always be indebted to him. Whatever my problems with the current regime at DC, and the abyssmal direction things are moving in, the company is still my home. I am still loyal to DC's characters, even though the top people at DC aren't. I will never understand why Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns hate Superman, Batman, and the rest so intensely... but that's a topic for another day.

Yesterday, I bought Aquaman, Firestorm, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Action Comics, and Fables from DC (Fables is part of the non-DCU Vertigo line) and Fantasic Four/Iron Man: Big in Japan, Son of M, X-Factor, Uncanny X-Men, and New X-Men from Marvel. The Marvel Universe is a weird, confusing place full of people about whom and places about which I could not care less even with concerted effort. Still, I am enjoying the vast post-House of M "Decimation" storyline, and it seems like a much better idea than DC's planned post-Infinite Crisis "One Year Later" shake-up. To be fair, it won't happen until March, but "One Year Later" reeks of a cheap publicity stunt, whereas the still-unfolding "Decimation" strikes me as being first and foremost a good story.

Spitting Into the Wind
And now, even though we are expecting more snow tonight, my mother would like me to shovel the driveway. Hooray for futility.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

This means war. Canada's insolence requires a swift and sure answer: invasion! I say we march on Ottawa, wrecking a swath of destruction from the Ambassador Bridge to their poor man's Parliament in the finest tradition of Sherman's March to the Sea. We'll bring those toadying Canucks to their knees within the week. We'll install Wayne Gretzky as Prime Minister-for-Life, raze Ottawa according to the Carthage model, declare Toronto the new capital, move the Phoenix Coyotes back to Winnipeg, and have our boys home by Christmas. Death to Canada!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Honolulu Blue Forever
As Dr. Hee-Haw pointed out, the Lions actually finished 9-7 in 2000, not 7-9 as I'd mistakenly recalled. A winning fucking record under coaches Bobby Ross and Gary Moeller. Let's compare the five years before Matt Millen arrived to his first five years (since, inexplicably, he's been given a contract extension and will be around a while longer). In the spirit of charity, I'm going to project the Lions as finishing 5-11 this season, even though I believe they will finish 4-12.

1996-2000: 5-11, 9-7, 5-11, 8-8, 9-7. Total: 36-44.
2001-2005: 2-14, 3-13, 5-11, 6-10, 5-11. Total: 21-59.

Sweet merciful crap, what I'd give to be 36-44 again over an 80 game period. Wayne Fontes, where are you? Let's look even farther back, to ten years before the M&M debacle, in both it's incarnations (Millen & Mornhinweg and Millen & Mariucci).

1991-1995: 12-4, 5-11, 10-6, 9-7, 10-6. Total: 46-34.
2001-2005: 2-14, 3-13, 5-11, 6-10, 5-11. Total: 21-59.

In the ten seasons 1991-2000, the Lions actually posted a 82-78 record, a winning record. Certainly, those numbers are nothing to be particularly proud of, but they were a rousing success compared to the past five years in the abyss. To achieve a similar result for the period 2001-2010, the Lions will have to go 61-19 over the next five seasons, requiring four seasons with a 12-4 record and one at 13-3. Thanks, Matt Millen, you've done a hell of a job!

My favorite part of all this is when the jackboots came out during the last home game and seized any and all signs even remotely critical of Millen. Awesome, he's incompetent and megalomaniacal. Quite a winning combination.

I'm Dreaming of a Red Xmas
Oh, I forgot to mention, the Goldbricker actually came out with a Christmas list last Friday, December 9, a measly sixteen days before the Yuletide. I think that's actually more insulting than if he'd simply failed to produce a list at all. In any event, fuck him, as I said I finished my Christmas shopping the day before. He'll get whatever I feel like giving and like it, and if he doesn't maybe that'll teach the old horror to assemble a list in a timely fashion.

Oh, and just like his various denunciations of Muslims and liberals, his Christmas list is cholk-full of spelling errors. Before he became a hate-monger, my father could spell. He was a literate and reasonably erudite. He has a master's degree. Now, he's a living demonstration of the dulling effect hatred has on human intelligence. May death come swiftly for him.
Honolulu Blue Forever
Boy howdy, I enjoyed the hell out of yesterday's game. Is there anything better than football in December at Lambeau Field? (Actually, yes there is: football in January at Lambeau Field.) I wasn't rooting for the Lions since Dick Jauron continued his brilliant plan to be unceremoniously fired at the end of the season by starting that washed up hack Jeff Garcia. Plus, it's always nice to see the old Cajun warhorse get a victory, especially in this year of seemingly insurmountable difficulty for the Packers. Brett Favre has always reminded me of Lee Marvin, so tough as nails that he probably eats them for breakfast. And while it was annoying to hear ESPN's trained monkeys babbling on and on about Samkon Gabo being "one of the best stories in the NFL this season," I can't really deny that his is one of the best stories in the NFL this season. Plus, that 64-yard touchdown run was pretty sweet. If Gabo can lose that gut and do some serious conditioning in the offseason, he just might have a bright future in football.

Interesting numbers: the Lions are 4-9 this season with three games remaining. In games featuring Joey Harrington as the starting quarterback, the Lions are 3-6. In games featuring Jeff Garcia as the starting quarterback, the Lions are 1-3. In other words, the Lions have won one out of every three games with Harrington and only one out of every four games with the disgraced Steve Mariucci's chosen savior Garcia. And yet Jauron insists Garcia gives the Lions "the best chance to win." The numbers would seem to disagree.

The three remaining games are against the Cincinnati Bengals, the New Orleans Saints of San Antonio, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. There is no way on Bog's lime-green Earth that the hapless Lions are going to defeat the mighty Bengals or the vaunted Steelers. We are capable of beating New Orleans/San Antonio, but I am of the opinion that our boys will find a way to lose. So, with a little luck the Lions will finish the year 5-11, though I rather think 4-12 is much more likely. There is a certain poetry in going 4-12. Since 2001 the Lions have finished 2-14, 3-13, 5-11, and 6-10. They finished 7-9 in 2000, back in the halcyon days before Matt Millen's reign of idiocy. So, 4-12 would almost complete the set. 2-14, 3-13, 4-12, 5-11, 6-10, 7-9 in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2003, 2004, 2000.

Maybe next year we could even finish 1-15! Or better yet, 0-16, because if you're going to be bad you might as well be record-settingly bad.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

I'm Dreaming of a Red Xmas
Today is the third Sunday in Advent. Do you know what that means? Two weeks to Christmas! Fuck yeah! The Christ's birthday, family, friends, presents out the yin-yang, and the Blue Tree Whacking all-day, all-saga Star Wars marathon: all six episodes in a row with only minumal breaks. This is going to be so incredibly wicked. Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!

Also, hey, I meant to mention this earlier, but I've been slacking with the bloggy blogging for the past week: last Tuesday, I got to see a free sneak preview of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It's awesome, boys and girls. Go see it, you'll love it. The scene with Aslan and the White Witch at the Stone Table... wow, it's very powerful and quite moving. Go see The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, you'll have a joyous time.

Friday, December 9, 2005

Happy birthday to The L.A.W! Wow, my sister is 30. I don't quite know how I feel about that.

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Science!
Remember, gang, there are important distinctions between a meteoroid, a meteor, and a meteorite. A meteoroid is a rock in space on it's way to destroying the Rose Bowl in the middle of the game between USC and Texas; a meteor is the same rock as it streaks through the Earth's atmosphere, leaving behind it a brilliant tail of flames; and a meteorite is whatever will remain of that rock after it annihilates the Rose Bowl, both thuggish teams, and their contempable fans in a hellish explosion. The proper terminology makes imaging the destruction of the Trojans and the Longhorns both more enjoyable and more educational! Science!

This January 4, I'll be rooting for a plucky little meteoroid to become first a meteor, then a meteorite, and finally a harbinger of the demise of bad sportsmanship in college football.

I'm Dreaming of a Red Xmas
I have now completed my Christmas shopping. I await the delivery of several items purchased through ye olde internet commerce, but I have high hopes of having all the presents wrapped by this time next week. And to what do we owe our thanks for such modern conveniences as internet commerce and endlessly quotable episodes of Futurama and Invader ZIM on DVD? You know it. Science!

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Hail to the Losers
I wrote about this in my journal on Monday and meant to mention it here as well: two positives can be drawn from the end of our New Year's Day bowl streak. a) There is a good chance we would have lost to the superior competition to be found in a New Year's Day bowl game, and I just couldn't handle a five-loss season. b) This can only help shake Carr out of his complacency. What you are doing isn't working well enough, Lloyd! You need to do some things differently!

Also in the world of college football, Ohio State is going to beat the living daylights out of Notre Dame. During bowl season, I root for Ohio State out of Big Ten loyalty, and this year I can add to that my implacable hatred of the Irish. It should prove a potent combination.

In an odd turn of events, I was so disgusted by the poor sportsmanship demonstrated by USC in their recent victory over UCLA that from now on I shall hope for Notre Dame to prevail in the annual USC-ND game. I hate the Fighting Irish, but I've never known them to run up the score like that piece of fucking garbage Pete Carroll did on Saturday. When the Revolution comes, Pete Carroll will be killed by being force-fed human excrement until his body literally bursts a la Se7en. Fuck the Trojans.

Monday, December 5, 2005

Honolulu Blue Forever
I realized earlier in the season that I just can't root for the Lions with Jeff Garcia as the starting quarterback; I shovelled the driveway during the first half yesterday. The Fords have owned the Lions since before I was born; so, I'm not going to stop being a fan on their account. And I was a Lions fan long before Matt Millen came and fucked things up worse than they already were and I'll be a fan long after that hack's been run out of town. So, yes, I wore my Lions T-shirt today. They're my team, for worse or for even worse. Besides, there's always next year.

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Hyperlink. One can always hope that the entrenched Western influence in Hong Kong and the island's international prominence will stay Beijing's hand and prevent a violent resolution to these protests, but we must also remember that the international press was in Beijing in unprecedented numbers in May and June 1989 to cover then-Soviet Premier Gorbachev's first visit to China and yet the Tiananmen Square Massacre happened anyway. I don't think the situation in Hong Kong will come to that, not in the immediate future at any rate, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the institutional brutality of the People's Liberation Army.

I'm Dreaming of a Red Xmas
Three weeks until Christmas and still no sign of a list from the Goldbricker. For Pete's sake, today is the second Sunday in Advent! Lists are supposed to be circulated before Halloween! So, fuck him, he's getting whatever I feel like giving.
In case anyone was wondering, House of M was wicked amazing. I'm going to do some more exploring in the Marvel Universe, though Son of M is the only book I'm sure I'm going to pick up.

Lost Lost
The awful Michelle Rodriquez was arrested for drunk driving on Wednesday night. Ha! Now I can hate her as a person, not just as a terrible actor! Let me once again state my position on drunk drivers: anyone caught operating an automobile under the influence of either alcohol or illegal drugs should be charge with attempted murder and sentenced to twenty years hard labor without the possibility of parole. After their release, they will never be allowed to obtain a driver's license and, should they be caught driving, they will be incarcerated for an additional five years. So, fuck that bitch for her reckless disregard for the safety of everyone else on the road.

Saturday, December 3, 2005

Fear and Loathing in the Straits of Taiwan
Monsters of ROC. I actually don't know which party I favor, the KMT or the DDP. I favor Taiwanese independence, but only sort of. I don't want to see Taiwan integrated with the Mainland as long as the PRC stands, but I think Taiwan should rightly be considered part and parcel of the eventual post-PRC China. So, do I support the more independence-minded DDP or the more status quo-preserving KMT? All I know for certain is that I strongly oppose the CCP.

Under the old Wade-Giles system of romanization, the Nationalist Party (descended from the party founded by Sun Yat-sen) was known as the Kuomintang. Thus, KMT. Under the somewhat more logical but still imperfect pinyin system of romanization, the word is spelled Guomindang, which is closer to how it is pronounced. But the acronym remains KMT. Why? Um, tradition? Feh, why not? Tradition!

BTW's Trading Faces
About the partial facial transplanted recently carried out in France, let me just say this: Science!

Invader ZIM sez, "No, these piggies are for science. Science!"

Pug Uglies
I stopped by the Guy's house on Thursday on Newsletter business. While there, I saw the Pug Uglies and had the opportunity to hold Tyson. Patrick has been marking his territory, and so he's been outfitted with a diaper. Sure, Sammy pissed outside his litter box toward the end, but only because he had kidney problems. As the Guy said, Patrick's just a jerk. Score one more for kitty cats. Still, I love those filthy, porcine little dog-monsters.
The Magic of Shazam!
That motherfucker Judd Winick KILLED Captain Nazi in Batman No. 647! Jumpin' Jack Pratt, who in the Sam Hill does that talentless prick think he is?! My faith in DC Comics has been so thoroughly shaken that today I went to Comic Relief and bought all eight issues of House of M. Things are looking so bad I'm actually thinking of jumping ship to Marvel Comics, or at least reading some Marvel books until a coup at DC overthrows the tyrannical Dan DiDio and restores DC's good name.

It's the principle that bothers me here, not Captain Nazi's actual death. Sure, he was a servicable character, but I think I can actually use this to improve The Magic of Shazam! Captain Nazi was going to be the mastermind behind the neo-Nazi gangs in "Kristallnacht," and later he'd join up with ODESSA's Nazi superteam, Kriegsmachine, among whom we'd meet Nazi's grandniece Katrina Krieger a.k.a. Madame Libertine (an Ordway creation, I was going to rename her Frau Libertine). Instead, I'll have ODESSA amp up her telepathic powers and use her as a testbed to recreate Captain Nazi's powers of super strength, a decent degree of invulnerability, and flight. Hmm, perhaps through telekinesis. Young Katrina will thus become a Captain Nazi for the twenty-first century. (I've been thinking that I need to create more female adversaries, and here's a quick and easy way to do it.)

Kriegsmachine
Captain Nazi (an update of the classic concept)
Baron Blitzkrieg (another update, and a new man in the armor)
The Aryan Racer (my own)

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Nature!
This is fucking awesome. Hyperlink. The Anonymous Friend carries the title of the Squirrel King; so, either he's been slacking off and letting his subjects run riot, or he's seriously pissed off and the rest of us are in a world of trouble.

Hyperlink. Fiddlesticks, I thought this meant the red squirrels were going to crown their own autocrat. Lousy misleading headlines....

I'm Dreaming of a Red Xmas
Every Christmas, I have six "presents" to buy. A single present can be more than one item. The six: The L.A.W.'s birthday (December 9, given at Christmas), the L.A.W. Christmas, the Mountain of Love Christmas, the Goldbricker Christmas, Mom Christmas, and Mom's birthday (New Year's Eve). After today's purchases, I am two-thirds done. Bwa ha ha ha ha! And I have enough Revenge of the Sith wrapping paper to last until Christmas 2007. Woot!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Blue Tree Whacking Films
Smith and Winkler (short)
Smith and Winkler: The Final Hoe-Down
The Fantabulous Misadvantures of Skip Carmichael
Two Loser Cops
(series of shorts)
The Holy Grail (horrible short)
Smith and Winkler Save Christmas

Do K. Steeze's SCAD films count as BTW Films films? Also, there are more planned installments in the Smith and Winkler series, and we'd all like to see another season of Two Loser Cops. No, seriously.

Smith and Winkler in The French Poodle Caper (prequel)
Smith and Winkler vs. Smythe and Winkelman
Smith and Winkler Save the World


So that no two of the films have the same type of title (colon, save, in, versus), the title of the last film, the epic battle against the Gripping Hand - the chairman of the International Olympic Committee and Scavenger Face's big brother - is up in the air. Possible alternates include:

Smith and Winkler & the Gripping Hand
Smith and Winkler and the Grasp of the Gripping Hand
Smith and Winkler Destroy the Gripping Hand


Feh, but before all that we need to iron out the details of Smith and Winkler in The French Poodle Caper.

Monday, November 28, 2005

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Bullshit
We had the first white Thanksgiving I can distinctly recall. There was enough snow on the ground on Thursday and Friday to have provided a suitably white Christmas. As is our custom, we decked the halls on the Sunday after Thanksgiving; we went crazy with the lights, ornaments, and garland. Mom has so many Santas that they've spread from the mantle to the downstairs bathroom and the staircase itself. I put Duvall's O Holy Night in my CD player and Mu330's Winter Wonderland in the pile of CDs by the HAL in the Mountain's room. On the way home from Mass on Sunday Mom and I heard "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," prompting me to reference Murky Transport Disaster's "Christmas Should Be Lasting All Year Long." Glorious, just glorious. It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Today's afternoon high was just above sixty degrees Fahrenheit. I have only two things to say about that, both of them Simpsons-related: Worst. Fall. Ever. and "Lousy Smarch weather."

Honolulu Blue Forever
Mariucci had to go. Does it make a difference that it happened now instead of at the end of the season? Not that I can see. So, like the ambassador from the Neutral Planet, I have no strong feelings either way. Of course, nothing really makes a difference as long as Millen remains in charge. Hooray for rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Achievement
My pal Daddy Dylweed and his lovely wife Kristy now have two sons, Jay and Zane. Meanwhile, I saw three movies between Wednesday and Saturday, The Legend of Zorro, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Shopgirl. And this is where I count my blessings that people aren't graded on life for fear that I'd end up riding the short bus.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving
The Mountain has been back since Tuesday night; last night, we enjoyed an old-style cinematic romp, The Legend of Zorro. (Presently, he is making his daily phone call to his girlflesh.) Yes, the Lions got killed this afternoon, but even so, who doesn't enjoy Thanksgiving football? I ate way too much Thanksgiving dinner, which means I ate just enough. This is the first white Thanksgiving I distinctly remember. Fan of Winter though I am, I don't usually like snow this early in the year (the first snowfall should be on December 1); still, given the disgustingly warm and sunny "Fall" we had (it was a fiasco hardly worthy of the name), this seems a fitting recompense. And tomorrow? More turkey, more yams, more cranberry sauce, more mashed potatoes, more gravy, more stuffing, more green bean casarole, more rolls, and MORE PIE! As I reminded the Mountain when he thought maybe he had too much dinner and couldn't stomach dessert, "There's always room for pie!" He cowboyed up and, oh, such a glorious pie we ate. This year, I am thankful for another splendid Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Scavenger Face
For several years, a broken riding lawn mower has sat behind our garage. (Dad bought it when David went to college, i.e. when he would finally have to mow the lawn himself. We always had to use an often-clogged push mower.) Grand Blanc Township no longer has a special "anything two men can carry" disposal day and the replacement on-request service refused to cart off a heavy riding mower. Mom had the bright idea that perhaps if we placed it on the curb scavengers might claim it. What did we have to lose? If no one carried it off, I would just roll it back behind the garage to sit and rot for another couple of years. I took out the garbage and the recycling as soon as I got home this afternoon, rolling the mower to the curb at around 4:45pm. A few minutes ago, I took the recently full kitchen trash to the curb and found the mower gone, exactly as Mom had predicted. Holy wow! Actually, that was even faster than Mom had predicted; she thought the early-morning scavengers, they of the rusty pick-ups and authentic trucker hats, would claim it. Some time between 4:45 and 7:45pm, somebody felt the need to claim a broken down lawn mower off our curb; it didn't even last the night. The moral of the story? For fast, efficient service, you just can't beat scavengers.

The Aftermath of "The Hour of Europe"
Hyperlink. The Dayton Accords were never perfect, but Bosnia and Herzegovina has been at peace for ten years. The use of American military might to end the genocide in the former Yugoslavia came far, far too late, but it remains the best thing President Clinton did in his eight years in the Oval Office and one of the noblest things America has ever done.
Sometimes I really want to be a pirate, but the blasted Ten Commandments rule out pretty much all piratical behavior. Lousy salvation.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Vote For Kodos
I am not a card-carrying member of the Republican Party (to get the card you have to pony up with a monetary donation), but you all know that I consider myself a Republican. I have voted exlusively Republican in all federal- and state-level elections, with a 2-0 record for POTUS (though neither vote really counted, since Gore and Kerry carried Michigan in 2000 and '04, respectively). Having provided that caveat, I am trying to look at this issue objectively: on Thursday, Representative John Murtha (D, Pennsylvania) received nationwide attention as he held a press conference calling for the total withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq within the next six months (by May '06). On Friday, the House of Representatives, lead by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R, Illinois), voted on a resolution calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq within the next six months. The non-binding resolution was defeated 403-3.

Here's where I get confused: Representative Nancy Pelosi (D, California) called Friday's resolution "a disgrace" and went on to imply that it was a cheap piece of political theater. Let me see if I have this straight, when a Democract calls for the immediate withdrawal of our boys from Iraq, he is a courageous man of conscience, but when the Republican majority offers the House the opportunity to vote on immediately withdrawing our boys from Iraq, that is petty politics? How does that work? I understand that as Minority Leader Rep. Pelosi's job is to advance the Democratic Party's platform and demonize the Republican Party, but her statements in this incident strike me as being particularly vile. Rep. Murtha put forward a non-binding resolution calling for us to cut-and-run from Iraq; the House then voted on a similar, though not identical non-binding resolution. Excuse for being naive, but isn't that how it's supposed to work? The House is supposed to vote on resolutions put forward by the representatives of the several states, is it not?

Am I out of line here? Was Rep. Pelosi's anger justified? make no mistake, I am not saying that Friday's vote was not a piece of political theater. It absolutely was. But, so was Thursday's tear-filled press conference by Rep. Murtha. So, why is one kosher and one obscene?

Lies, Damned Lies, and the News*
In a related vote, during Thursday's broadcast of ABC World News Tonight, President Bush was quoted as saying that Murtha's resolution was "irresponsible" and "unpatriotic." During Friday's broadcast of the same program, a correction was issued, accompanied by video footage; President Bush did indeed repeatedly call Murtha's resolution, and similar defeatist (my word) sentiments, "irresponsible," but he never said such dissent was "unpatriotic." Holy wow, documented proof that the self-titled Fourth Estate reports both fact and fiction as if the two were one and the same. The staff at ABC invented a quote and reported it as if it was honest-to-God fact. Yes, in this instance ABC issued a prompt correction, but it makes you wonder how many other fictions go unnoticed in each night's broadcast, in each edition of The New York Times, in each week's Newsweek.

*Media criticism was formerly posted under the heading "I Don't Trust Clark Kent," but clearly that is not actually the case. Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and The Daily Planet itself stand for what journalism should be, an ideal that is very far removed from today's journalist/advocates. I believe in Clark Kent because his reports are the exact opposite of ABC's invented quotes and Dan Rather's forged Air National Guard records. It is because I believe in the ideals of journalism, in the value of a free press to our democracy, that I so loathe the biased media establishment. ABC literally invented a quote and attributed it to the President of the United States. Wow, that's incredible.
I can't fall asleep. "No, sir, I don't like it."

The Magic of Shazam!
Probably tied in with the villainous Erlkonig and Captain Marvel's various adventures in the land of Faerie ("Faerie Tale" and "The Faerie Queene"), I have decided to use the gnomes from Christopher Moeller's JLA: A League of One in a story titled "The Gnomes of Zurich." I'll have to make sure it involves both the actual gnomes and the notoriously secretive bankers of Zurich, unkindly nicknamed "the Gnomes of Zurich" by former British PM Harold Wilson (not to be confused with my uncle, Harold "Skeezie" Wilson). And I'm sure fun and games would result should Station WHIZ be beset by a gremlin. I want the book to be called The Magic of Shazam!; so, I think I have an obligation to include a fair amount of magic. The problem there is that I hate most comic book magic (swirling colors and incantations that make time run backwards or blink entire species out of existence). Instead, I think I'll include lots of magical/mythological creatures like the fae, gnomes, gremlins, and, if I can swing it, the Swedish trollfolk. And there is the villain Red Oni, powered by a frightful japanese oni, not to mention long time Marvel Family supporting character Mr. Tawky Tawny, a stuffed toy tiger brought to flesh-and-blood life by demonic magic (though Mr. Tawny is a sweetheart); so, we might be in fair shape onthe magic front. (And that's without mentioning the wicked sorceror Xia Timur, the Scion of Shazam.)

Also, I'm starting to get a handle on the vainglorious villain The Perfect. With Billy and Mary's foster parents Nick and Nora Bromfield already in Switzerland for medical treatment and now both the gnomes and the Gnomes of Zurich, I might as well also locate The Perfect in the stunningly beautiful land of those damn, dirty neutrals, the Swiss. Perhaps Captain Marvel will stumble upon Perfect's villainy through the bankers of Zurich. Yes....

And maybe at some point I'll have the Marvels travel back through time and tour the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, if for no other reason that I greatly enjoy writing, typing, saying, and viewing the word Halicarnassus. Ooooo, Halicarnassus.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Hail to the Losers
I would like to thank the defense for giving Ohio State two effortless touchdowns in the fourth quarter; I mean, our boys didn't even offer token resistance to Smith, Holmes, and Ginn. I have seen doormats with more tenacity. Principle credit for the defensive collapse has to go to Jim Herrmann, who apparently labors under the belief it is against NCAA rules to defend a running quarterback.

I would also like to thank Terry Malone for the first few offensive drives. They were utter wastes of time as failed trick plays and ill-conceived end-arounds doomed drive after drive. It will be a farce if Malone has a job next year, as he most assuredly will.

But most of all, I would like to thank Lloyd Carr for coaching my beloved Wolverines to a four-loss regular season, including a 5-3 Big Ten record and a 1-4 lifetime record against Jim Tressel. I don't even remember that last time we had three conference losses. Who are we, Illinois? Three Big Ten losses is UNACCEPTABLE. Even more frustrating than today's loss is the manner in which it happened. We gave up in the fourth. The defense couldn't have stopped a pee-wee team; the offense got several lucky breaks to go up by nine point and then just shut down. This was the most embarrassing game we have played since the disgrace against Notre Dame.

Lloyd Carr is a damned good football coach who has brought a great deal of success to Michigan. But he is 1-4 against Jim Tressel and I am beginning to get the feeling that we are never again going to beat Ohio State. Coach Carr and his staff should be ashamed of themselves. Go Blue!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Superman Returns
The teaser trailer for Superman Returns is available online and, from what I have read, it is also running before the new Harry Potter movie; so, every kid in America is going to see it. I have see four movies directed by Bryan Singer - The Usual Suspects, Apt Pupil, X-Men, and X2 - and greatly enjoyed each one. As recently discussed on this blog, I love me some Superman. Despite these two facts, I am not at all excited about Superman Returns. I have tried, but have found that I am incapable of making myself look forward to its theatrical debut. You guys know me, I love looking forward to these things almost as much as I enjoy their arrival. As soon as I heard that Christian Bale had been cast as Bruce Wayne, I knew Batman Begins was going to kick ass. (And boy howdy, did it ever.) When I first heard that Bryan Singer had abandoned X-Men 3 in order to direct the new Superman movie, I tingled with excitement. Bryan Singer's Superman couldn't help but be amazing, right?

Right? Now, I'm not so sure. I have no problem with this kid Brandon Routh who is playing Clark Kent/Superman. He's an unknown, which I think it the right way to go with Superman (it worked with both Christopher Reeve and Dean Cain), and Routh really, really looks like Clark Kent. No problem there. And I can buy Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor. Spacey can play an inhuman monster when he wants to; so, the ghosts of Gene Hackman's hackery should be exorcised. Superman? Check. Luthor? Check.

So, what's bothering me? Three things, two of them having to do with Lois Lane. One, Kate Bosworth. Jumpin' Jack Pratt riding a hilariously tiny unicycle, Kate Bosworth? WHAT ON BOG'S GREEN EARTH ARE THOSE IDIOTS THINKING? Are they high? Is that it, is Bryan Singer a coke fiend like Aaron Sorkin? There is not a worse choice on either Earth or the doomed planet Krypton to play Lois Lane than Kate Bosworth. First of all, she doesn't really have a face, just two swollen cheeks and painted on eyebrows. Secondly, while Lois Lane is a brilliant reporter, Kate Bosworth gives the impression of having received an early childhood labotomy. (An actor's actual intelligence doesn't matter, only their ability to seem intelligent, an ability she lacks in spades.) Third, there is no third. What the hell were they thinking?! I knew Christian Bale was going to be a perfect Batman as soon as he was cast; similarly, I know in my bones that Kate Bosworth is going to be a colossally horrible Lois Lane.

The second thing about Lois Lane is that in the movie, she has a kid. I want to have faith in Bryan Singer, but between the casting of Bosworth and the reimaging of Lois Lane as a single mother, I have to conclude that he and his confederates have no idea who Lois Lane is supposed to be. Lois Lane has been a symbol of smart, capable working women for sixty-seven years; you can't just fundamentally alter her willy-nilly. And if Singer and his crew don't understand Lois Lane, who's to say they understand Clark Kent or Jimmy Olsen or The Daily-fucking-Planet?

My third problem with Superman Returns is the presence of Marlon Brando's narration as Jor-El, Superman's biological father. There are not words in the English language to describe how terrible Richard Donner's Superman was. That Singer has chosen to pay tribute to that horror... now it makes a good deal of sense to me why I am not at all excited about Superman Returns.

Superman deserves a grand movie adaptation, a spectacle for the ages, not whatever the hell Superman Returns is going to be. And just so you know, nothing would make me happier than to be completely wrong about all this. Please, Rao, let me be wrong.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Losing Lost
I hate the actor Michelle Rodriquez. I mean, I don't hate her as a person, I don't even know her. She might be really cool. As Captain Kirk said of the Romulan commander, maybe in another life I could have called her "friend." What I hate is looking at her; I hate hearing her voice. I have loathed every single moment she has been on-screen in every TV show and movie in which I have seen her. Hate. Hate. Hate. As a consequence, she has slowly been killing my love for the show Lost (she is among the new characters added in season two). I've loved every minute that she's off-screen and loathed the opposite. So, I was actually really happy when her character, Ana-Lucia, murdered Shannon (Maggie Grace) last week. Why? Because now Sayid (Naveen Andrews) is going to kill her! Too sweet! (For unfathomable reasons, Sayid loved Shannon. I never understood what he saw in her, beyond her physical appearance, but that doesn't really matter. He loved Shannon and Ana-Lucia murdered her. Sayid's going to fuck shit up!)

Sayid tortured Sawyer when he and Jack thought Sawyer was hording live-saving drugs; also, in the flashbacks to Sayid's former life in Iraq's Republican Guard, he killed a superior officer and helped his former lover escape from custody. So, we know Sayid is a hard man when pushed. Man, I can't wait until Sayid kills Ana. And if he doesn't, well, as much as I enjoy Lost I'll have no choice but to stop watching and hurl invective at those in charge of the enterprise. I'd hate to do it, but one must have and maintain certain standards.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The antimatter version of an electron is called a positron. Okay, makes sense; electrons are negatively charged; so, it stands to reason that the antiparticle version of the same thing would have a positive charge. Here's where it all falls apart, though: the antimater verion of a proton is called an antiproton. Antiproton? What, were the eggheads just too busy that day to try and come up with a good name? Way to go for the bronze, geniuses. Antiproton? For shit's sake, why don't we just rename black "antiwhite"? Red could be "antigreen." Ohio State could be renamed "Antimichigan University." Antiproton. You lazy scientists make me sick.

Oh, sorry, THE Antimichigan University. We wouldn't want to forget OSU's precious "The."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Nature!
So cool. Too bad she isn't actually one of Darwin's tortoises. Happy birthday, Harriet the Tortoise!

The Magic of Shazam!
Not that a single script has yet been written (I don't even know how to write a properly formatted comic book script), but I've got Nos. 1-28 all acoounted for, more or less. I say more or less because I'm still trying to figure out exactly how long some of the stories are between No. 12, the end of "Kristallnacht," and No. 22, the beginning of "Man of Science." I'm beginning to doubt I can fit in "Radioland Murders" in the teens; so, I'll have to move it to after No. 28, the done-in-one story "Heck in the Pacific." And things are getting busy between then and the previously described "No. 50 Extravaganza": Nos. 45-50 "The Red and the Black," Nos. 51-52 "The Revenge of Theo Adam," and Nos. 53-58 "From Here to the Rock of Eternity."

Anyway, I mention this to express my exasperation: I don't know how real comic book writers do it. I have so many Marvel Family stories I want to tell that I cannot fathom how writers deal with having only six- or twelve-issue runs on books. It must be maddening. Yes, you can tell a good few good yarns, but such short tenures leave precious little time for the characters to change and grow.

Lately, I've been rereading selected stories from my Superman collection (this was started by the first DVD boxset of Superman: The Animated Series, starting with the only quasi-Superman story It's a Bird..., Steven T. Seagle's semi-autobiographical ruminations on his own year on Superman, one of my favorite runs (in part because it was draw by my favorite penciller, Scott McDaniel, but also because Seagle's story was cool). Also included are two recent acquisitions, the original graphic novels Superman: End of the Century and Superman: Infinite City. So, now I'm retasking some mental resources from The Magic of Shazam! to what kind of stories I would tell should I ever be graced with the opportunity to work on the Man of Steel.

A hybrid idea I had was "The Metropolis Marvel" (which is also an old and minor nickname for Superman): Superman is seriously injured, maybe by my villain Xenophon, and Captain Marvel fills in as guardian of Metropolis for a little while. The most egomaniacal version of this idea is that it could mirror the recent "Sacrifice" storyline that ran through the three monthly Superman books - Action Comics, The Adventures of Superman, and Superman - and ended in Wonder Woman. "The Metropolis Marvel" could begin in The Magic of Shazam! and then continue through that month's Super-books. They gave the crummy character Mr. Majestic, the WildStorm Universe's cheap ripoff of Superman, the super-books for a month once; so, why not Cap? Or, it would still work as a MoS!-only story, too.

Batman has always been my favorite comic book character, but I'm beginning to suspect that Superman is becoming "my fav'rit." We shall see.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Newsletter Must Die
During the latter half of September and all of October, I had no desire to publish The Newsletter. As a result, my benighted but beloved little fortnightly got rather far off schedule. During that time, I thought about the policy of malign neglect I'd decided upon following the failure of this summer's "Summer Reading" issues. I thought about the phrasing I would use in an email to the staff, the same pikers who choice to sit-out "Summer Reading," informing them that Vol. X, No. 8 would be the last issue of The Newsletter. The very last. For all time. "Fine and good," I thought to myself, "let's kill the fucker. But, it would be best not to make any decisions about the future until the ravenous beastie is back on track." I thought that was an excellent point. Now that Vol. X, Nos. 2-5 have gone out with the post, I find that I no longer wish The Newsletter dead. Or that may not be quite right, maybe I do wish it dead, but I do not want Vol. X, No. 8 to be the ultimate issue. I am already thinking about the columns I'll write in Volume XI (January-April '06). I am no longer furious over "Summer Reading" as I was in August and September; now, I find the entire debacle to be profoundly sad. My faith in the staff, my dear, dear friends on the staff, has been sundered. The Newsletter will never be the shining marvel I dreamed, nor will it even be what it was before "Summer Reading." Much of this was surely hubris on my part; all this is my comeuppance. But, I still derive joy from writing "The Last Angry Man," from mocking up the issues and sealing the envelopes.

The Newsletter must die, but not today. And not tomorrow.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
One unexpected consequence of the Seven Wonders Triva Challenge is that I am once giving serious thought to removing the commenting feature. The Guy, usually a thoughtful and amusing commentator, was disqualified for listing his penis among the Seven Wonder of the Ancient World; similarly, my brother, the Mountain of Love, didn't even make a effort at listing the Seven Wonders, but felt at liberty to suggest the undeniably phallic "penis tower" on the EMU campus in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I just don't know how to react to that kind of immature idiocy.

Among those who gave serious answers, the winning is The Professor with 6 1/2 correct answers. Social studies teacher Neutral Man had five correct answers and Kiel, who has never been given a nickname (would you like one?), had three. Thank you all for your efforts and congratulations, Professor!

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
The Great Pyramid at Giza
circa 2580 B.C.-present
No explanation is really necessary. The Great Pyramid is the oldest of the Seven Wonders and the only one still in existence.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
circa 600 B.C.-byeh?
Babylon has been lost to the sands of Iraq and along with it the Gardens, which didn't really hang (they weren't potted plants). Today, there is a movement in many urban areas to plant gardens on the roofs of skyscrapers and smaller multi-storied buildings. These could be seen as a modern resurrection of the Hanging Gardens.

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
circa 550-353 B.C., 323 B.C.-A.D. 262
Ancient accounts go on at length about the Temple's beauty, but spend precious little time describing what it actually looked like. The original Temple was destroyed by arson on the same night Alexander the Great was born; the arsonist burned to the Temple to make himself famous. The Temple was later restored and stood for centuries until it was again burned by the barbarian Goths.

The Statue of Zeus at Olympus
circa 435 B.C.-some time after A.D. 394
The statue was really big and, apparently, really lifelike. Think Michelangelo's Pieta. It was lost in a fire after being relocated from Olympus to Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire (later the Byzantine Empire).

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
circa 350 B.C.-A.D. 1200s or 1300s
Much like a pharaoh's pyramid, nothing became King Maussollos in life so much as his death. He is remembered solely for his tomb, from which we get the word mausoleum. It was an enormous marble ediface build after his death by his grieving wife, Artemisia. It was gradually felled by a several earthquakes, being completely destroyed by 1404.

The Colossus of Rhodes
282-226 B.C.
The Colossus was a giant broze statue of the sun-god Helios, build to celebrate Rhodes victory over besieging forces. It was roughly the same size as the modern Statue of Liberty; it's legs did not, as some fancifully believe, straddle the entrance to a bay. The Colossus was toppled by an earthquake and not rebuild because of a local oracle. In our day, there has been much debate on Rhodes as to whether the Colossus should be recreated.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria
circa 300 B.C.-A.D. 1323
The lighthouse, also known as the Pharos after the island on which it sat, was an incredible 440 feet high. A massive furnace produced more light than any isolated fire, light that could be seen from as far as 35 miles away. The massive marble tower was adorned with statues in the Hellenic and Roman periods, obviously removed once Egypt became Islamic. Continuing a theme, the Lighthouse was felled by a pair of earthquakes.

The Professor listed all seven Wonders, but lost half a point because he could not describe the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus more specifically than as "a tomb of some sort." Still, a magnificent effort, sir. Well done. The Prize shall soon arrive at BTWest courtesy of the fine folks at the United States Postal Service.

Interestingly, both Neutral Man and Kiel listed the Great Wall of China. While the earliest sections of the Great Wall do indeed date the the third century B.C., the really impressive sections with which most of us are most familiar, the broad walls adorned with battlements and punctuated with splendid watchtowers, were not contructed until the fourteenth through seventeenth centuries A.D. Also, the list of the Seven Wonders of the World was complied in the second century B.C. by a Greek writer, Antipater of Sidon. China was unknown to the learned men of Hellenic world, who visited the Seven Wonders as tourists.

My thanks to those who seriously participated in the Seven Wonders Trivia Challenge.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Armistice Day
From one who never had the courage to serve, my sincerest thanks to all those who have hazarded life and limb in defense of the Great Republic, this last, best hope of Earth.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
I was going to list them, but then I thought a quiz might be better. So, WITHOUT LOOKING THEM UP, how many of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World can you name off the top of your head? Leave your answer in the comments section. We're using the honor system, kids. I mention this because the person or team (pool those resources!) to provide the most complete answer will get a prize. Not a famous No-Prize, but an actual prize, a physical object currently in my possession. I haven't picked the prize yet, but I'll select something appropriate to this test; think of this as a history lesson-cum-Good E. Bag Wednesday.
Of the forty-two* men who have been the President of the United States (and I mean under the Constitution; so, don't even bring up the presidency under the Articles of Confederation), four have had alliterative names. Interestingly, so fond are some people of alliterative names that two of those four men used their middle names as their first names in order to have an alliterative name. Also, two of those four men had Wilson somewhere in their name and were the only two presidents to be named Wilson in any form.

Thomas Woodrow Wilson
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr.
Herbert Clark Hoover
Ronald Wilson Reagan

*President Cleveland may be counted as both the twenty-second and twenty-fourth presidents, but he was still only one man.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

In the first of two New York-themed items, Skeeter has actually posted on her bloggy blog! In the words of The Onion from July 20, 1969, "HOLY SHIT Man Walks on Fucking Moon"! Only two and a half months until she posts again! Thanks, Skeeter!

Vote For Kodos
Hyperlink!* It's not that I'm particular to Mr. Bloomberg, I just love the perversity of a Republican running New York City. Plus, Bloomy is probably the most visible liberal Republican in the entire country, and Bog knows we need more of them if we are ever to take back the Grand Old Party from the crazy Evangelicals. By the end of his term, New York City, home to the late Pauline Kale who didn't know a single person who voted for Richard Nixon, will have been governed by Republicans for sixteen consecutive years. Hilarious.

Honolulu Blue Forever
Operating on the assumption that Steve "Mooch" Mariucci will go the way of the buffalo at the end of this season, who do you think, dear readers, should be hired as the new doomed head coach of the Detroit Lions? I have three candidates in mind:

Ein) Pete Carroll. Yeah, okay, so the Pac-10 is an incredibly weak conference, but that doesn't mean his USC teams haven't been frighteningly good. I'll even butcher the mother tongue by saying the Trojans are scary good. Plus, Carroll coached both the Jets and the Patriots; so, I'd wager he's got an eye toward returning to the NFL sooner or later. Pete, come to Detroit and the future can be now! Heck, we even have your star Mike Williams (maybe Carroll could return him to the decent player he once was, not the stonehanded slowpoke he is now).

Zwei) Jim Tressel. The worst that could happen is Tressel would be just as bad a coach as Marty Morningweig. (Once you've gone 2-14, you develop quite a high tolerance for risk.) And who knows, 2002 might not have been a fluke. Plus, as an added bonus Tressel would no longer be the football coach at Ohio State. Lloyd's 1-3 against that bastard and the only way I see Michigan ever getting back in the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is to take Tressel out of the picture. I think Carroll would give the Lions a better chance of winning, but above all else I really want Tressel out of Columbus.

Drei) Last but certainly not least, the great Dan Dierdorf. He was the first person I ever heard say, "That play was ill-conceived and poorly executed." I've watched a lot of football in my twenty-six years on the earth and in all that time I've learned a number of things. Among them is that Dan Dierdorf knows a hell of a lot about football. He's incredible, doubly so when contrasted with that blithering idiot Madden. Dan Dierdorf (yes, I always say both his names. Can you blame me? Go ahead, say "Dan Dierdorf" out loud. It just rolls off the tongue) knows football, which would certainly be a nice change of pace from William Clay Ford, Jr.; Matt Millen; Steve Mariucci; and Marty Morningweig, who collectively know just enough to lead a pee-wee football team to a winless season. Dan Dierdorf is like Flash Gordon, as described by Queen, "He'll save every one of us!"

Dan Dierdorf, "King of the impossible!"

In a related story, Andy Reid is my new hero. Also, I have now set aside my animosity toward Donovan McNabb (born in Syracuse's 38-28 victory over Michigan in 1998). I respect how he dealt with Owens in last year's playoffs and how he has reacted to Owens's latest antics. I may not be a fan, but I am certainly an admirer of Donovan McNabb.

*I typed "Hyperlink!" instead of "Hyperlink." because the Secret Base is all about ACTION! Careful consideration and quiet contemplation are for others. Flying off the handle, leaping without looking, those are the things for which people turn to The Last Angry Man. Take the time to actually consider all sides of an issue? Humbug! I have harsh and arbitrary judgments to render! And thus, in keeping with this reactionary philosophy of ACTION!, the namby-panby hyperlinks have been "kicked up a notch" (quotting Elzar, not Emerill) from "Hyperlink."s to "Hyperlink!"s. ACTION!

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

My Time Among the Vampires
I gave blood today and now there's a little dark spot on my arm near the pinhole. My mother, a veteran blood donor, sez it's nothing to worry about, just a little blood trapped between layers of skin. Nevertheless, I remain concerned. I've never had a dark spot like this and, no, sir, I don't like it. I'm going to be really pissed if my arm falls off (and just my luck, they drew from my ever-so-useful dexter appendage rather than from his nigh-useless sinister brother). Curses!

The lesson is all this? Never help anyone. But, seriously, kids, how many of you have given blood in the interval since the last time I posted about donating? Huh? Huh? You've got plenty of blood, you won't miss a pint or three. Lousy bums.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Anything worth arguing about is worth hurting someone's feeling over. It is isn't that important, don't argue about it.

Also, on a whim I shaved my imperial on Sunday. I miss it already. I'm not saying I don't look like me, I just look like me without my imperial, which means I don't look quite right. I've worn the damned thing for like seven years now; I don't think it's an integral a part of my face as the mole in the middle of my forehead, but, wait, yes it is. My imperial is just as important as my freaky forehead mole. The Imperial Restoration has already begun.
Happy Halloween
Sorry I forgot to say this yesterday; so, hey, happy Halloween, everybody. My only real comment is that we need to get these kids some vocabulary builders. I say this because I asked one boy, "Are you a warlock?" He replied, "No, I'm an evil wizard." *sigh* Still, who doesn't love Halloween?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Honolulu Blue Forever
My heart was full of glee this afternoon when Jeff Garcia's pass was intercepted and returned for a Bears' touchdown in overtime. It was an odd sensation. I feel no particular animus against Garcia, he's never done anything to me, but such is my resentment for the messianic way he was treated by the state media over the past week that I was truly pleased to see that he personally cost us today's game against the Bears. I learned something about myself today, I learned that I cannot cheer for the Detroit Lions as long as Jeff Garcia is the starting quarterback. I bear the man no individual ill will, I do not wish to see harm befall his person, but I loathe what he represents: Steve Mariucci's desire to blame all the Lions' shortcomings on Joey Harrington. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Joey Harrington will never be Joe Montana and he certainly deserves a healthy portion of the blame for the Lions' 2-3 record this season in games he started as QB. But what evidence is there that Mariucci is taking any person responsibility for the movable feast of ineptitude that is his football team? Instead, Mariucci is pathetically trying to recapture the "glory" of his years in San Francisco, bringing in such old chums as Garcia (thanks again for the overtime interception, that was beautiful) and Ted Tollner (an offensive coordinator so bad at his job as to make UM's Terry Malone look good). I cannot root for the Lions as long as Jeff Garcia is the starting quarterback, but nevertheless I will wear my Lions T-shirt tomorrow. Let's say I'm doing it for old times sake (it is, after all, old enough to give the Lions' division as the old NFC Central, not the modern NFC North).

The Living Daylights... Saving
My mom woke me up this morning at 9am, i.e. it felt like 10am. Dear Bog, woman, what is wrong with you? The whole beauty of the end of daylight saving time is that I can sleep in until what feels like 11am, but then pull a fast one on the universe by getting out of bed at the new 10am. If I get up at 9am, what feels like 10am (the time I usually arise on Sundays), I'm letting the universe get away with stealing an hour from me when DST began last spring. Only by spending that extra hour in bed can I balance the scales and restore justice. So, even though my eggs got cold, I struck a blow for justice and went back to sleep for an hour. Thanks to the modern marvel of the microwave oven, I was able to stick my tongue out at the universe and eat warm eggs, too. Victory for ZIM!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I was really hoping Minnesota would hang in there and pull at a win at the last second. Alas, 'twas not to be.

Also, I was watching C-SPAN during halftime of the Minnesota-Ohio State game and came across a meeting of a British foreign policy committee. Why can't we have politicians with names as cool as Jack Straw?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Hyperlink. It's times like these that I'm really glad President Jimmy put pressure on our then-ally, the late Shah of Iran, to permit the Ayatollah Khomeini, may he burn in Hell, to return to Iran. That was a good move, Jimmy, a really good move.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Magic of Shazam!
I have recently learned that the classic DC villain Vandal Savage, a foe of heroes across the generations from the original Justice Society of America in the 1940s to an upcoming series of appearances in The Flash, was co-created by Alfred Bester, author of my favorite book of all time, The Stars My Destination. I had a germ of an idea about how to work Vandal Savage into The Magic of Shazam!, tying him into Shazam's early career as Champion (magic word: Vlarem) and possibly teaming him up with King Kull, but nothing definite. I still don't know how exactly, but now that I know he's a Bester creation I must work Savage into MoS! Vandal Savage is a 52,000-year-old immortal Cro-Magnon; so, compared to him even the approximately 8,000-year-old Wizard is a spring chicken.

I don't know if I'd use it or even for what I'd use it, but I came up with an alternative way of forming the Wizard's name, Shazam. The real S.H.A.Z.A.M.:

S = Wisdom of Solomon
H = Strength of Hercules
A = Stamina of Atlas
Z = Power of Zeus
A = Courage of Achilles
M = Speed of Mercury

Now, Black Adam's magic word "Shazam" is formed using the names of several Egyptian deities and in the Golden Age Mary Marvel's "Shazam" was formed using Greco-Roman goddesses; what I've come up with here is just an alternative Greco-Roman "Shazam," maybe for a still very vague and undefined villain Major Marvel:

S = Stamina of Sisyphus
H = Courage of Hector
A = Strength of Ajax
Z = Speed of Zephyr
A = Wisdom of Aesop
M = Power of Mars

I'm also thinking about reviving the villain Mr. Who, the principle difficulty being I know virtually nothing about the original character. The only idea I have about him is that his codename is a horrible pun on his name like Mr. Freeze (Victor Fries): Mr. Who (Mr. Hu). We all have good ideas and bad ideas; take a wild guess into which catagory the above falls. Then again, puns have been a part of comics for a very long time.

I'm also working on a couple more brand-new villains, King Celsius (all I have is a name and I desire to make him different than the other DC "ice" villains*) and Vainglorious (I have a costume and part of a motivation, I'm still playing with the name and the origin/motivation). Other possible names for Vainglorious include Excelsior, Exemplar, and The Perfect.

Lastly, I think I've nailed down the first year of The Magic of Shazam!:
No. 1 "Giant Atomic Robots, Part 1"
No. 2 "Giant Atomic Robots, Part 2"
No. 3 "Giant Atomic Robots, Part 3"
No. 4 "Giant Atomic Robots, Part 4"
No. 5 "Giant Atomic Robots, part 5"
No. 6 "Giant Atomic Robots, Part 6"
No. 7 "Faerie Tale, Part 1"
No. 8 "Faerie Tale, Part 2"
No. 9 "The Mechanical Man of Mystery"
No. 10 The Crocodile Mob in... "A Piece of the Action"
No. 11 "Kristallnacht, Part 1"
No. 12 "Kristallnacht, Part 2"

*Ice-themed villains I can think of off the top of my head (if there are others, they must be pretty obscure):

Mr. Freeze (foe of Batman)
Captain Cold (The Flash)
Killer Frost (Firestorm)
The Icicle (the JSA)

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Honolulu Blue Forever
It's the damnest thing: for the first time in my life, I am actively rooting against the Detroit Lions. On every play, I want the Cleveland Browns to triumph. I hated Trent Dilfer's interception just as much as I enjoyed Detroit's missed field goal. Each time Steve Mariucci's face appears on screen, both of my middle fingers become erect and are aimed at the visage of Mooch. Acting on instinct, I was happy when Jeff Garcia scrambled in for Detroit's lone first-half score, but I immediately remembered myself and felt ashamed of my joyous outburst. Joey Harrington will never be Joe Montana, but fuck Steve Mariucci and Matt Millen for placing all the blame for the Lions' offensive ineptitude on Harrington. Never an unkind word for Roy Williams for his many drops nor Charles Rogers for being a whiny dope-fiend nor the offensive line for their sieve-like play nor offensive coordinator (and Mariucci crony) Ted Tollner for his massive incompetence, but Harrington gets benched. Today, I hate the Lions, though if they lose as I wish them to I will of course wear my Honolulu blue T-shirt tomorrow in solidarity. The Lions will always be my team, no matter how much I hate them. Let's go Browns! Win this one for Bernie!

No Joy
As you may recall, I was most displeased with the illegal touchdown scored by a Spartan defensive lineman in the Michigan-Michigan State game three weeks ago. The Guy referenced this play, an inexcusable violation of the rules of the game on the part of the game's officials, in an attempt at levity, assuming we all, no matter our allegiance, enjoyed the sight of a big lineman rumbling seventy yards for a touchdown. In this he was mistaken and his comment arosed my ire. K. Steeze then came to The Guy's defense, though The Guy himself took no offense, and said, "if you [me] don't change your ways soon, you won't have many BTW friends left. It's not a threat." I had no idea that my BTW friendships were so imperiled, that the bonds of our comradeship could be so easily sundered. I will never change. Ire/anger/wrath is one of the seven deadly sins and I embrace it at my soul's peril, but embrace it I do. So, though I love all of my fellow Blue Tree Whackers, it seems only a matter of time before I am expelled from that august brotherhood. With that in mind, it seems foolish to permanently brand my body with the mark of an organization that seems intent on being rid of me. So, I will not be getting the BTW Monkey tattooed on my right forearm in December, nor ever. If I decide to get a different tattoo placed opposite my skull-and-crossbones, I will have to be certain of the design and placement for at least six months; so, the soonest I may be getting a new tattoo is late April. I will keep you updated on any decisions.

As for BTW, I love all my fellow Whackers and I sincerely hope that our splendid association will continue for all our lives despite Steeze's dire prognostication.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Tony Blair seems like a good chap and for a European leftist (though solidly center-left) politician he has conducted a brilliant and bold foreign policy, but still, he's Labour. What Britain needs is a return of the Tories. Bring back the Iron Lady! Failing that, how about these guys?
At the Show
Sweet fancy Moses, MxPx is awesome! This week, I've been rediscovering the myriad glories of Life in General and Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo. Also, MxPx is playing three times in Michigan next month. Methinks I'll be going to the Novermber 5 show at the State in Detroit rather than either of the shows in East Lansing (the air there reeks of impending doom!) and Big Rapids.

MxPx: because only losers write songs longer than 1:59.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
Hyperlink. No one, save a few far right-wing Japanese nutjobs, can dispute the horrors visited upon the Chinese and Korean peoples by the Imperial Japanese Army between 1895 and 1945. And there is room for legitimate disagreement about visits to the Yasukuni Shrine by prominent Japanese politicians, especially Prime Minister Koizumi. But I have to laugh whenever the Chinese government makes a fuss about the shrine. After all, Mao Zedong killed a hell of a lot more Chinese between 1949 and 1976 than the Japanese did between 1931 and 1945, and yet the Chinese Communist Party actively encourages pilgrimages to view Mao's corpse, preserved and displayed a la Lenin, in its shrine off Tiananmen Square, in the very heart of Beijing. The Japanese occupation was monstrous; the crimes committed in the Emperor's name rival those of the Nazis in Russia. But more Chinese died - broken, starving, humiliated, and alone - from the Great Leap Forward and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution than from anything the Japanese did. The People's Republic of China will have every right to complain about Japanese officials visiting the Yasukuni Shrine the day after Mao's bloated corpse is finally put in the ground in an unmarked grave alongside his millions of victims.

The South Koreans, on the other hand, make a strong case about the offensiveness of the Yasukuni Shrine.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Elseworlds
In addition to The Magic of Shazam!, I'm developing a couple of Elseworlds ideas for Superman and Batman. Quoting, "In Elseworlds, heroes are taken from their usual settings and put into strange times and places - some that have existed and others that can't, couldn't, or shouldn't exist. The result is stories that make characters who are as familiar as yesterday seem as fresh as tomorrow." The very nature of comics, the slow, sequential ways stories are told over the course of months, promotes stability (some, not I, would say stagnation). This is as it should be, I think. Comics starring Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman have been in continuous publication for nearly seventy years; on the theory that if it isn't broke don't fix it, radical changes, no matter how highly touted, might damage or remove some of the very elements that have made the characters' popularity so durable. That's why I really like Elseworlds stories, because they allow the writer to go that extra distance, telling a story at the boundaries of creativity without killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. (Resistant to change as I am, classifying a story as an Elseworlds tale gives me a needed safety blanket.)

{Superman: Empire of Krypton}
Instead of Kal-El being the last son of Krypton, the scientist Jor-El and the general Dru-Zod were able to gather the resources to construct a starship to evacuate one thousand Kryptonians prior to the doomed planet's explosion. Kal-El, the eldest son of Jor-El, and a horde of robot servants are sent ahead of the starship Kandor as a scout. Kal-El's rocket lands in a field on the Kansas farm of Jonathan and Martha Kent. The Kents investigate the crash and discover the smoking rocket; Kal-El emerges from the rocket, informs the Kents in Kryptonese that he is very sorry they saw him, and promptly disintegrates them with a ray gun. (That scene was the first idea I had and inspired everything else.)

Kal-El and his robots quickly establish a hidden listening post in the Arctic and begin monitoring all Earth broadcats, eventually translating Earth's languages and collecting data useful to the coming Kryptonian invasion. The rocket is reconfigured into a cloaked spy satellite. Tiring of living in isolation in his self-dubbed Fortress of Solitude, Kal-El manipulates records to create for himself the identity of Clark Kent from Smallville, Kansas. "Kent" begins work as a mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, the Daily Planet (Lois Lane, Perry White, Jimmy Olson, et cetera). Kal-El acquires an apartment in Metropolis, but frequently journeys back to the Fortress.

In time, he discovers that the radiation from Earth's yellow sun has imbued him with powers beyond those of mortal men. Jor-El had anticipated improvements to Kryptonian physiology under the yellow sun (the doomed planet Krypton orbited a red sun), and in fact that had been one of the reasons he and Dru-Zod has selcted Earth to be their "New Krypton," but Kal-El's abilities far exceeded his father's predictions. Kal-El considers becoming a superhero in order to infiltrate the Justice League of America (the "magnificent seven": Wonder Woman, Batman, Aquaman, Green Lantern [Rayner], The Flash [West], Captain Atom, and Firestorm), but elects to remain hidden according to Jor-El's original plan, albeit in the guise of Clark Kent.

Then of course comes the fighting. The Kandor arrives in orbit, her Kryptonian crew revived from their long cryogenic sleep. Jor-El offers the people of Earth the opportunity to surrender; believing in the inherent superiority of Kryptonian culture, he assumes that humans will welcome the chance to have their lives improved by the technology of the new Kryptonian ruling class. By contrast, General Zod wishes to wipe out the human race in order to make New Krypton purely Kryptonian. The people of Earth refuse Jor-El's "generous" offer and Kryptonian warsuits descend to subdue the planet. The JLA and the world's other superheroes fight back, but suffer horrific casualties and slowly lose ground until Batman calls in the JLA's secret weapon, Captain Marvel.

Kal-El had wanted to use his powers in the invasion, but Jor-El had insisted that superior Kryptonian technology would carry the day. However, when Cap disables the warsuit piloted by Kal-El's cousin, Kara Zor-El, Kal-El leaves his post aboard the Kandor and assaults the World's Mightest Mortal mano a mano. Kal-El kills Cap, though not without taking a savage beating. With both Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel dead, Batman orders a general retreat and Earth's heroes go to ground.

While Kal-El, referred to by the terrified human press as "The Superman," leads the Kryptonian forces, including Kara and Kal-El's younger brother Kon-El, on a hunt for the remaining heroes, Dru-Zod grows envious of Kal-El's powers. Zod has himself thrown out an airlock perilously close to the Sun, betting that his close proximity to the star with quickly saturate his cells with yellow solar radiation, granting him powers comparable to Kal-El's and enabling him to survive the hard vacuum of space. Zod's gamble pays off. Returning to the Kandor under his own steam, Zod murders Kal-El's parents, Jor-El and Lara, and Kara's parents, Zor-El and Alura, and unleashes an ancient Kryptonian weapon, the Eradicator, to cleanse the earth of non-Kryptonian "impurities." Because he's Superman, Kal-El triumphs over both the Eradicator and Zod, though not before the former recites Terence Stamp's classic line, "Come, son of Jor-El, kneel before Zod."

* * * * *

I still have a lot of things to work out. I'm not including the Martian Manhunter in the JLA because I have an idea for a sequel, Empire of Krypton II: The War of the Worlds, involving an attack on New Krypton (formerly Earth) by the forces of Mars and Rann, and possibly other planets, too. I have a nagging feeling that I should find a way to make Luthor a more prominent character in Empire of Krypton, but really what I want to do is save him, too, for the sequel. This isn't just the hubris of thinking there will be a sequel, I honestly think that with the modified origin story, the invasion, and the battles with the Eradicator and Zod Empire of Krypton is already quite busy. Of course, if I could pitch it as a 12-issue maxiseries (most Elsewords tales are only two or three issues long) there would be time to work in Luthor, Batman's chief ally in the resistance after the Kryptonian victory, and his superweapon against the Superman, the flawed clone Bizarro.

Instead of being a half-human/half-Kryptonian clone of Superman, I've made Kon-El (Superboy) Kal-El's younger brother. I haven't decided if Kal-El will try to establish the Clark Kent identity in Smallville, perhaps befriending Lana Lang and Pete Ross, or only create that persona as an adult when he decides to work at the Planet to do first-hand reconnaissance about Earth. I also haven't decided what to do about Lois Lane: do I make her a collaborator, in love with the Kryptonian Superman, or does she remain loyal to Earth? Which element is more important, her historical relationship to Superman or her reputation as a hard-nosed (and thus presumably loyal to Mankind) journalist? Like I said, lots to work out.

I also have an idea for Batman, called Batman: The Dark Night, but I don't feel like describing it now. In a way, it is the reverse of Superman: Empire of Krypton, I have the characters and motivations all worked out, but I don't have a plot yet.
Hail to the Losers
The danger following Michigan's victory of Penn State is that Lloyd's boys are going to make the mistake of thinking they're good and that the losses to Wisconsin and Minnesota were flukes. This is not the case. Considerable peril lies ahead, especially since the Iowa and Northwestern games are on the road. Still, 4-3 (2-3 against real competition) is better than 3-4. If we are to have a chance moving forward, though, Coach Carr must make some significant changes among his assistants. Go Blue!

The hated Irish of hated Notre Dame came within a single play of defeating the vaunted Trojans of Southern Cal. I fear for the future, a future full of sickening glories for hated Notre Dame, while at the same moment I remember fondly the recent past when those bastards were brought low and yet still refused to learn the very Catholic virtue of humility. Since at least the Roman Republic there has been a terrible tendency to idealize the past as a means of condemning the present. I have never had any use for such nonsense, but I will say this: I miss Bob Davie and Tyrone Willingham.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Last Best Hope
One of the most endearing things about Sarah Vowell is her near-worship of Abraham Lincoln. But, that's neither here nor there. Hyperlink.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Ocean Blue
Happy Columbus Day, everybody! Sure, sure, those lazy bums in the federal government had a three-day weekend because Monday was Columbus Day (observed), but today is the real anniversary of Christopher Columbus's discovery of America. No disputes will be entertained:

Columbus didn't really discover anything, since the Indians had been in the Americas for millennia. Humbug. Western civilization is at present the dominant cultural, political, and economic force in the world, and Columbus's journey is what introduced the New World to the crowned heads and huddled masses of Europe, cradle of western civilization. Rightly or wrongly, the Indians are mostly gone, there impact on these paired continents wiped away by the ascension of the Europeans and us, their successors.

What about the Vikings? They called Newfoundland Vineland. Again, so what? Yes, hooray, good for Lief Ericsson, but in the end what did his discovery of Vineland reveal? The great navigtors of Portugal and the Muslim empires had no idea there was a continent blocking the westward passage between Europe and Cathay; so, what did Ericsson's discovery matter? A discovery no one knows about might as well not have happened.

Columbis didn't discover anything. The idiot thought he was in India or Cathay, and anyway on that first voyage he only explored the Caribbean, not either of the continents. Again, so what? No matter how wrong he was about where he was, his journey prompted others to make further explorations. The exploration of the New World was so important that today the efforts of the great navigators of Portugal, who favored reaching the Far East by sailing down around Africa, are all but forgotten. Even the lonely outpopst of Macao has reverted back to China.

Without Columbus, the New World might never have been discovered. No Pilgrims. No thirteen colonies. No Revolutionary War. No Declaration of Independence. No Constitution of the United States. Hell, no United States. No Gettysburg Address. No crusade to eradicate the Third Reich. No NATO to oppose Stalin. No World Bank, United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Health Organization. If you love America, take a moment to appreciate that without the Admiral of the Seas, mistaken fool that he was, our great republic might never have come into being. The world might have been denied its "last best hope," in the words of President Lincoln. Happy Columbus Day!

Thirteen Days in October
I meant to post this yesterday, when there would have been exactly a fortnight remaining. All Christmas lists must be finished and distributed by October 25, two months before the big day. This is only fair as it will give yourfamily and friends plenty of time to purchase the gifts you know you (or at least I) so richly deserve. Less than two weeks now to decided what you really want. Don't delay!

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Magic of Shazam!
Good things happen late at night while half-watching episodes of Dog: The Bounty Hunter (on A&E). Last week, I had Dog on while I was rereading all the notes I'd made in my The Magic of Shazam! notebook. (A converted day planner, it's not dedicated to that topic alone. It also contains all my notes for a proposed but rejected expansion of the Smith and Winkler universe, background information on In Search of the Perfect Lesbian, and lots and lots of other stuff.) Suddenly, like a of lighting from a clear blue sky, the title of the first MoS! story arc came to me:

"Giant Atomic Robots"
Nos. 1-6
There will be lots of introduction and expository dialogue because this arc has to set the tone for my take on Fawcett City. Dr. Sivana is behind a series of thefts at university research labs and high tech companies around Fawcett, as usual using proxies, this time Ibac and a new villain, Xenophon. Setting the stage for the future, Ibac is dragging into the bowels of Heck by his demonic master and Cap meets Professor Timothy Tinkle, his doctoral student Ivan Derook, and their invention "Timmy" or the T.M.I. (Tinkle Machine Intelligence). Billy meets Veronica Deng (sorry, Kiel) while hosting W.H.I.Z.'s "Battle of the Bands," Nick and Nora Bromfield depart for Europe seeking treatment for a rare disease afflicting Nick, Uncle Ebenezer schemes to throw Billy and Mary out on the streets, and neo-Nazi vandalism and intimidation mare the tranquility of Beck Memorial High School. The thefts have been to gather materials for Dr. Sivana's latest attempt to destroy the Marvel Family, the nuclear-powered robot Mr. Atom. Captain Marvel and Mr. Atom slug it out over Fawcett City, with Cap forced to restrain himself for fear of causing a thermonulcear detonation in the heart of the city.

Fairly early, I decided that the first big story had to feature Dr. Sivana and not Black Adam. This was due in part to my dislike for the current hero worship of Black Adam happening in the DCU, but mostly because when all is said and done Dr. Sivana is Captain Marvel's first and greatest enemy. Throughout the Golden Age the Marvel Family battled one insane Sivana scheme after another; Black Adam appeared in only one Golden Age story. Okay; so, a Dr. Sivana story, but what? I had the idea that Sivana would steal the power of Shazam for himself and weaponize it, but I'd already reserved that idea for the No. 25 extravaganza, the conclusion of "Man of Science." I also wanted to introduce a new, independent Mr. Atom, as opposed to the automaton seen in The Power of Shazam! It took me way to long to realize that I could kill two birds with one stone by having the first arc be about Dr. Sivana's invention of Mr. Atom. Duh. As soon as I thought of it I wondered why it hadn't occured to me sooner. Such is life.

Now that I had a story, gradually working in Ibac, Xenophon, Nick's illness, the villainy of Uncle Ebenezer and the like, I still needed a title. Early ideas included "Present at the Creation" and "The Nuclear Option." I didn't know what I wanted, but I knew it wasn't either of those. Actually, I quite like "Present at the Creation," but it just didn't seem right for this story, even though it is about creation, or at the least invention. Then, while staring at Dog's horrific yet wonderful hair, it struck me. "Giant Atomic Robots." Of course. What had I been thinking? I want The Magic of Shazam! to give Captain Marvel some street cred by allowing him to fight truly frightening and malevolent villains, but at the same time I want it to be a lot of fun. And what, my friends, is more fun that giant atomic robots? Nothing, that's what.

The Magic of Shazam! "Giant Atomic Robots." Look for it in a comic shop near you not any time soon.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Saturday, October 8, 2005

I like Joe Pa's answer to the question, Is Penn State back?: "I'm not sure we ever left." Penn State is back. This week, that is a glorious thing. Next week, well, 3-3 against 6-0. What do you think is going to happen? Still, any given team can beat any other given team on any given Saturday; that's why they play the games.

For now, congratulations to the Nittany Lions, and thank you, Mr. Paterno, for beating the hated Buckeyes. That helped redeem today. The Happy Valley is happy tonight.
Hail to the Losers - Second Attempt
I lost my first attempt at this post to a malfunction at Blogger. It was the first post I've lost in months. How utterly appropriate. It doesn't rain but it pours.

At the end of regulation in the Michigan State game, I said that Rivas should lose his scholarship. After he kicked the game-winner in overtime, my father asked me if I'd reconsidered; I didn't answer one way or the other. It now seems clear that my first instinct, rash as it was, was nevertheless correct. Today, Rivas cost us the game.

That said, there is plenty of blame to spread around. Ecker missed two easy catches and after that wasn't thrown to again. Despite Massaquoi's injury, I feel this was the right decision; it was only a matter of time before one of Ecker's drops turned into an interception. How many times was Hart hit at or behind the line of scrimmage? Another truly offensive performance by our offensive line. Henne, proving that last week was a fluke, missed Avant in the endzone at least three times, throwing the ball where no one could have caught it. Way to go, Froshie, way to show that your worst critics, myself included, we right in calling you overrated. Bog, I wanted so much to believe in Chad Henne....

Moving on, it is imperative that Terry Malone's reign of ineptitude be ended immediately. But, we all know Carr won't make any changes until after the end of this year's sorry campaign; I will be pacified as long as Malone has been replaced as offensive coordinator by the start of next season. And here we encounter a real problem: Lloyd Carr will not fire Terry Malone, no matter how incompetent he may be. So, what are we to do? The rest of this season does not matter. It does not matter. What matters is that Lloyd Carr may be too stubborn to do what is necessary for the good of the program. I hope that he is not, but as I said, it is imperative that Terry Malone's reign as offensive coordinator comes to an end. If Coach Carr is not willing to replace Malone, he should himself be fired. Carr should be made to choose: to whom is he loyal, Terry Malone or Michigan? Michigan cannot prosper with Malone is charge of the offense; so, whom does Carr choose? Michigan or Malone? If he chooses Malone, his tenure at Michigan must end. No man is more important than Michigan, not Terry Malone and not Lloyd Carr. If Lloyd Carr will not fire Terry Malone, Michigan must fire Lloyd Carr.

After the loss to hated Notre Dame, I guaranteed three Michigasn losses. I never thought that we would suffer three defeats in only six games. This is a disaster without precedent. I'm almost used to a 2-2 record, but to be 3-3 two games into the Big Ten schedule? Not even at the zenith of the dark bastard's influence did I imagine such a horror. I guaranteed three loses, but said that I was personally inclined to four. In all truth, at this moment in time we will be lucky to make it to the end of the year without only four losses. Of our remaining five regular season games, we have the potential to lose to Penn State, Northwestern, Iowa, and Ohio State. It is impossible that we will lose all four of those contests, but the potential exists to lose to any of those opponents. I mean no offense to Indiana's fans, but we all know that even in our present state of wretchness we are not going to lose to Indiana. Sweet fancy Moses, how did it all go so wrong?

I said last week that we aren't a very good football team, but I never imagined that we were this bad.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

The Madness of Hate
The Goldbricker hates Muslims - all Muslims - so much that today he said that in Bosnia and Kosovo the Serbs had the right idea, they just went about it in a ham-handed way. Srebrenica was a ham-handed stab at doing the right thing? You sick fuck.

The really sickening part is that last week I actually felt a twang of sympathy for my father. He is a deeply unhappy, self-hating man. I thought about the character of Captain Qweeg in the movie The Caine Mutiny. Qweeg is cowardly, domineering, and abusive towards his men, very possibly as a result of war stress from his tours in the US Navy during the Battle of the Atlantic. After one incident, a repentant Qweeg assembles his officers and while he cannot bring himself to actually apologize for his actions, he does say that the officers and crew of a ship are like a family, and so they need to lean on each other and depend on each other in moments of failure and weakness. The officers of the Caine eventually unseat Qweeg citing his mental instability and are acquitted by a court martial. After the court martial, their own military attorney denounces them for their ingratitude to Qweeg; yes, Qweeg was a bastard, but he had served in the Navy long before Pearl Harbor, putting himself in harm's way to protect his officers, then civilians. For his pre-war service, the officers should have helped Qweeg when he asked them to.

So, I thought about the Goldbricker as if he were Qweeg. My father hates his job, but is terrified at the prospect of losing it because he has not managed his money particularly well. His career has been a pathetic failure compared to that of his father, a brillaint but unforgiving man, a self-made man, who died a millionaire. He has a wife and son living in his home who try to speak to him as little as possible, in his mind because we don't want to hear the truth he speaks. He is a lonely, unhappy man; so, perhaps, I thought, I should extend a helping hand, aid him in his time of need as Qweeg's officers didn't. Fortunately, he then praised Slobodan Milosevic's policies, if not the man himself; my father is no Captain Qweeg, my father is Martin Bormann.

My father obsessively reads every obscure medical newsletter he can get his hands on and believes that snake-oil salesmen hold the key to longevity. He thinks he's going to live to be a hundred. I hope his does, because he will spend the last forty years in isolation after his wife divorces him and his children cut off all contact. Rot in Hell, you miserable filth.