Friday, February 27, 2009

Not Sprung yet

It was a beautiful warm day today and I went for the first walk in the park in a long time. It felt a lot like Spring, but even if I hadn't heard the weather report and known that more cold weather was on the way I'd have known it wasn't quite that time of year yet. Some people look for flowers or birds as harbingers of that season I've looked forward to all winter long, but to me the first sign of Spring is the initial sighting of one of the Italian Ice Girls and there were none to be found.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Music Matters

Nowadays I judge music pretty much by this one criterion -- how inspirational is it to work out to? So, I'm not downloading a lot of slow songs, but I had to make an exception for this remarkable track from Gaslight Anthem "Here's Looking At You, Kid." It's a hauntingly beautiful love song to every girl who ever rejected the singer or broke his heart. (By the way, most of Gaslight Anthem's stuff is great rock and roll workout music, albeit a tinge morbid at times. They and Marah are my two favorite bands at the moment. I'm happy to say it looks like I was wrong: there may indeed be rock and roll after Guns and Roses.)
Note: The song is only 3:33 don't ask me why this "video" goes on so much longer.

My favorite line from a movie nobody likes but me.

"My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jai Ho!

I actually saw one of the movies nominated for the Best Picture Oscar this year -- which is unusual. And the one I saw - "Slumdog Millionaire" - won. So now of course it's getting a wider release, playing at the multiplexes and not just the "art" theaters. If you've seen the trailer you might get the impression that this one of those feel-good sensation movies, and it is very romantic, very colorful and ultimately life-affirming. But a lot of it is difficult to watch -- children endure abject poverty, see their murder murdered, are intentionally blinded to make them better beggars, and have to jump into a pool of excrement to escape outhouse imprisonment. The main character is forced to stand by as the love of his life is raped by his own brother. Not exactly warm and fuzzy stuff that.
The Jai Ho dance sequence over the closing credits however -- now that's feel-good. Judging by the number of amateur versions of this dance popping up on YouTube, it's about to become a craze. Here's the original:

Monday, February 23, 2009

More people who piss me off at the gym

1.) The Rack Addict. This is the guy who picks up a pair of dumbells and stands so close to the rack he's almost touching it -- inevitably right in front of the weights I need. If he could back off a couple inches I could get them, but either because he's worried he's not going to be able to handle those 30-pounders or -- more likely -- he can't bear to be that far away from his reflected biceps in the mirror, he won't back off.

2.) The Moaner. I will defend to the death -- well, maybe not to the death, but to the bruising anyway -- your right to grunt when you work out. (I refused to even consider a gym in my area that outlaws grunting.) But that's an involuntary reaction to exertion and as such, understandable, but not the guy who picks up a weight and immediately starts moaning like he's auditioning for a porno. What is wrong with your wiring? If lifting weights gets you off that much, you really need to invest in a home gym.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Being a parent is a thankless job. But sometimes if you're lucky you get something a whole lot better than a thank you. My daughter Leah was having trouble sleeping last night, so she wrote in her blog. She wrote about family and friends, dogs and children, birth and death, and about her parents:

Funny at times how you never wanted to listen to parents. Telling you things you should do, date who, things that they thought weren't the best choices. Then one day you wake up and realize so much. I wanted to find a man just like my Dad. I did, and love him dearly and so do they. I want to be just like my Mom. Best thing of all, My parents have the best relationship I've ever seen, heard of. I love them so much for showing me how people should be married. I hope in 15 years I feel just like them. I want what they have everyday. Its a true love that doesn't come with age or knowledge. They found their soulmates and it shows every time I see them together.

Leah, you know me pretty well, so I'm sure you know that your feeling this way and saying this to the whole wide blogosphere means a lot to me. But I don't think you know how much. Thank you. I love you and am so proud to have you as my daughter.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Joss Whedon has a new show premiering on Fox tonight, and you'd think I'd be overjoyed -- after his "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer" "Angel" and "Firefly" are three of my all time favorite TV shows -- but truthfully I have mixed feelings. I think he's a great writer and I'm looking forward to some of that great dialogue that he's so justly famous for, but the premise of this thing sounds not-too-promising (A group of people who have had their memories erased, led by Eliza Dushku's Echo, can be hired to do just about any task. But there's no emotional connection) and I liked Eliza Dushku as the bad slayer Faith in "Buffy" but I don't think she's a great actress. There have been so many changes made to this show already and Fox put it on Friday night, which is where they bury shows they have no faith in -- and there's a pun in there somewhere, since Faith is in it but let's not go there -- so it doesn't feel like a hit show.

And I'd really like to see Whedon do more comic book writing or more independent stuff like "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog", so yeah, I'd say "mixed" pretty much sums up my feelings. But I'll be watching, of course.

And more books I've read in 2009.

I don't usually sit down and read a cookbook, but that's probably because most cookbooks aren't as entertaining a read as "Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin." His love of food and of cooking is evident on every page. I particularly appreciated the almost 30-pages he devotes to eggs and I can't wait to try some of the recipes. (I love me some eggs now.) And his description of foods is great too. "This soup (Cream of Garlic) doesn't get too thick. It has a nice, fluffy texture to it, like nipples when you suck on them."

Who could refuse a soup like that? I also like what he has to say about the customer not always being right and the people that he kicks out of his restaurant on a daily basis: "Some people tell me they're deathly allergic to something and that I have to make sure it's not in their food. I kick them out, too. I don't want to be responsible for anybody's life-or-death situation. I tell them they should go eat at a hospital. Often after I do that, they'll back down and tell me, well, they're not that allergic. And then I really want them to leave because now I know they're assholes.""

I also read "We Can Still Be Friends" by Mawil, but I don't recommend it. It's a slight story of a guy striking out with girls. Over and over and over.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

more books I've read in 2009

All picture books this go-round.

I'd been hearing lots of good things about the new Iron Fist comic, but I held off from checking it out for two reasons -- 1. back in the bronze age, I was always a bigger fan of Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung Fu then I was of Iron Fist and the others that came along during the brief kung fu craze, and 2. it looked pretty dark and I've had enough dark. I did pick up the first hardback collection though, and I liked it, even though it wasn't as good as those old Shang-Chi comics (not that I expected it to be) and it was dark, if not in tone than in amounts of black, brown and dark gray ink used.

Mr. Freeze is my favorite Batman villain. He's not really into crime for the money or the fame of the ego-tripping, he does the dirty deeds he does out of love for his wife, and the efforts that run him afoul of the law and Batman are usually directed at trying to awaken her from her cryogenic coma.
But that's not why I picked up "Batman: Snow" It was because I saw the name J.H. Williams III. J.H. Williams III is an amazing artist who helped make Alan Moore's Promethea one of my favorite comic series ever. Unfortunately, Williams didn't draw this book, he wrote it and all I can say about his writing abilities is that he should probably stick to art.

I also read Astonishing X-Men Volume 3 (again) and Volume 4.
Now this is more like it. Joss Whedon is an absolute genius and John Cassaday is one of the few modern artists who would have been able to find work during the silver age. (Most of them now take too many shortcuts to even be considered alongside Kirby and Colan and Buscema.) Whedon had me alternately on the edge of my seat or cracking up at some of his brilliant dialogue. As much as I love Buffy and Angel and am looking forward to Dollhouse, I think I like Whedon even better in comics, especially when he has a master like John Cassaday bringing his vision to magnificent fruition.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

the day the music died

I wanted to take a minute to acknowledge the genius of Buddy Holly, who died in a plane crash 50 years ago today. Buddy influenced everybody from Elvis to the Beatles to the Rolling Stones. His songs like "Peggy Sue" "That'll Be the Day" "Rave On" "Maybe Baby" "Everyday" have been covered by everybody from John Mellencamp to Jimmy Page, from Blondie to Bruce Springsteen. This skinny kid from Lubbock Texas forever blurred the line between geek and chic, cuz this guy was so groovy he could make even hornrimmed glasses look cool -- just ask John Lennon. In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Holly #13 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. February 3rd, 1959 has been called "the day the music died."

Buddy Holly was only 22 years old.