Saturday, November 25, 2006

Where we're at

I'd post on the Thanksgiving weekend a little more, but Steanso is doing a terrific job over at his site.


I'm still reeling from the UT game. They just looked awful, like the whole team came down with the flu but felt like they had to go out there and put on a game, what with all the people who showed up. As unhappy as I was with the offense, the defense just couldn't wrap it's head around A&M's admittedly spirited offense.

The late hit on McCoy at the end of the game, and the helmet-to-helmet hit he took before being carried off did quite a bit to sow some ill-will in what has become a lackluster rivalry.

A&M fans may be sad to hear this, but one of the revelations I had coming to UT from A&M-centric North Houston is that UT doesn't consider A&M to be it's primary rivalry. Sure, they want to win, but the OU game is the big kahuna of football rivalries. When I both went to and worked at UT, the A&M thing was great if we could win it, but mostly the lead up to the weekend involved being a bit mortified at A&M's pathological behavior as the game approached.

This year, of course, was a HUGE exception with bowl games still in UT's grasp. That said, a loss was unexpected, and hardly desirable. In a way, though, I think a lot of UT fans were just waiting for the other post-Vince Young foot to drop.

It's my impression from the post-game coverage that the consensus after the game was that the real concern wasn't over the score, but over McCoy's health (he's apparently okay and expected to recover). When your QB leaves the game on a stretcher, it takes whatever fun was left in the game and makes it all seem sort of dumb.

McCoy wasn't supposed to be this year's hero... he was our red-shirt promise for two years from now... Plus, you know, people seem to genuinely like the little guy.

Congrats, A&M. It's too bad your two cheap shots stained an otherwise impressive win. And it's too bad UT's entire team was apparently suffering from a massive turkey overdose.

I have to start decorating for Christmas.

I know this, because we have a Holiday party coming soon. Even JAL is coming. And he might even bring his long-suffering wife.

I also know this because (a) one house in our neighborhood already has up lights, (b) when I bought a pair of jeans today the store was blasting Holiday tunes, (c) News 8 has launched a new feature called "Sounds of the Season" where they show local bands playing Christmas songs, (d) the grocery has made the full conversion to festive Christmas mode, and (e) I've begun to crave nog. Nog is not something I seek out in July.

I suppose by next weekend, the house may be fully decorated. And that will be weird.

I took The Admiral to the comic shop today. There's nothing like bringing your old man to the comic shop to remind you how completely off-their-nut most comic shop patrons really are (grammar). Sure, I occasionally get irritated with the "it's our clubhouse, not a store" mentality some patrons seem to have, and the inevitable crude and crass conversations some folks seem willing to have without actually knowing the other patrons... But there's a whole subsection of the comic-shop audience that is a few more degrees skewed from the center than the average bear... the good folks who get involved in Cosplay, the sweet natured geeks who go to the parks and dress up as wizards and throws tennis balls/ "spells" at one another on the weekend, ...and the staple of the comic shop: the guy who believes he's a bad-ass because he reads titles like "Wolverine" and "Ghost Rider".

This guy ALWAYS knows more about EVERYTHING than ANYONE around him. Usually harmless, he physically cannot turn his voice down below 80 db's, and usually will ignore anything said by store managers, other patrons, or police officers who bring up any point which might contradict the reality he has carved out for himself. This might include topics as far reaching as the origin of an obscure comic character or the inner-workings of the NSA.

You never know what you're going to get in a comic-shop, and today we had The Expert, and "the Role-Player" (a lady wizard, I believe). Luckily, The Admiral is a pretty open minded guy, plus he was mostly interested in finding out why they don't publish Sergeant Rock anymore... so I don't know how much he actually had to listen to the two conversations going on in the shop, but it was all I could do to get the heck out of there my comics safely in tow.

I am fascinated with folks who voluntarily separate themselves from reality by creating elaborate scenarios that do not just exist within their heads. The folks who dress up as elves and wizards and run around in the woods are doing something that I have about fifteen mental signal lights warning me not to get involved with, and I think I've fallen pretty far down the rabbit-hole when it comes to aberrant social/fantasy behavior. I literally CANNOT imagine making the leap from bags and boards to "This weekend, I am going to buy this red material, make a cape, and go fling tennis balls at my friend at Pease Park". Yet I could watch these folks for hours if Jamie would let me.

I don't honestly see a lot of difference between the geeks in the home-made wizard capes and the folks who dress up as a soldier on the weekend to "re-enact" Civil War battles, people who build elaborate dioramas of long-ago fought battles, the guys who know waaaayyy to much about Japanese feudal society, folks who become "serious" Beatles collectors, the ladies who collect thousands of porcelain cats, guys who spend weeks of their lives managing their "fantasy" sports teams, and the millions of people who spend energy keeping up with the lives of celebrities as a hobby through magazines and by keeping Mary Hart of the air. It's all about cutting up reality and pasting it back in a way that works for you.

Heck, in a lot of ways, I sort of think that at least those folks are doing something that they probably know doesn't really jive with "reality" rather that being a stick in the mud who assumes their way is THE way.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the inhabitants of my LCS, I constantly waver between trying to be a "live and let live" sort of guy , and wanting to shake them and say "YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW THE NSA OPERATES! YOU ARE A BUS BOY AT EL POLLO LOCO!!!".

And that, Leaguers, is why I will never own or manage a comic shop.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Turkey Day Re-Cap

Last night I went to bed with what I would describe as stomach cramps. There has been some speculation that I was tense and nervous regarding hosting Thanksgiving. I, personally, attribute it to my exhaustion from the previous night's journey to the Doggy ER, mixed with possibly a case of indigestion and/ or food poisoning from Short Stop (which I had for lunch).

So, anyway, Wednesday night my folks came into town, followed closely by Heather "Daredevil" Wagner. Wagner is staying at my house as part of her Turkey Day Holiday, back from Lubbock where she is attending grad school.

We had dinner last night with the parents, Wagner, Jason and Mandy, chatted for a while, and then played a game called "Balderdash" (FYI: The League totally dominated).

This morning I woke up not feeling right. I had some coffee, some coffee cake, etc... but mostly I just wanted to lay there and watch the parade. I don't know what was wrong with me, but I felt pretty bad, but as I didn't think I had the flu or anything, I wasn't too concerned. People kept trying to get me to help, but when I'd stand up, I just wanted to sit back down and maybe go to sleep. Jason arrived fairly early with Cassidy in tow.

Eventually, around 11:30, I gave up on the lame/rain-drenched Macy's Parade and crawled back into bed with Jeff the Cat.

I was up and showering by 12:30. About 1:30 our other guests arrived. Tom and Marlene Leih, Cousin Sue, then Juan and Matt, followed closely by DK and Liz (Jason's friends have become Steans Family friends, and Liz and DK are now a Steans-Family Thanksgiving staple. Like yams. If they ever skip out on us for Thanksgiving, it just won't be Turkey Day.).

I felt sort of out of sorts, and had felt queasy in the morning, but I love deviled eggs, and DK had brought some as an appetizer. I figured they were a great way to see if my stomach would hold for dinner. After I ate two, I decided I was in the clear, and began to attribute my fainting feeling to a lack of food since the Short Stop meal.

We had a CRAZY amount of food. Including the stuffing Jamie had made, whichw as enough to feed a battalion. She had doubled her family recipe, and somehow this equated a metric ton of stuffing. At least it was good. We're just going to be eating stuffing for the next four weeks.

Turkey turned out well. Nice company. No real awkward pauses. Nobody went off the rails into discussion of sex/religion/ politics, and by the end of dinner I was right as rain.

So, anyhow, after that was lots of chatting, playing with dogs, and eating of pie. All very Norman Rockwellesque.

Eventually our guests departed, only to resume the festivities tomorrow for the UT/A&M game.

We're going to be serving stuffing. Come on by.
Casino Royale and The Prestige Review

Normally I think Owen Gleiberman, movie critic for Entertainment Weekly, is a colossal dork. He will give a movie a phenomenal review, but knock off a full letter grade to a letter grade and a half simply because the movie is a genre flick (ie: sci-fi or fantasy film). Conversely, he falls into the movie reviewer trap of giving extra points to a lot of movies merely for being foreign language or indie films. And I have never forgiven him the "F" he gave a prescient "Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy".

However, I thought his review of Casino Royale said pretty much what I wanted to say, so why should I write up my thoughts when he has done it for me?


Last Friday night Jamie and I went and caught The Prestige. Directed by "Batman Begins" director Chrisptopher Nolan and featuring an all-star cast, including Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Piper Perabo, David Bowie (as Nikola Tesla, no less), Andy Serkis, and, human special effect, Scarlett Johansson.

The movie is beautifully produced, wonderfully acted, well shot... and I guessed the ending at least half an hour before the end of the movie. Which, in a suspense story like this that fancies itself to be a magic trick, in and of itself, is sort of like seeing the wires making the magician float during their big show-stopper.

I noticed the book from which the story was taken was written by a Christopher Priest, and knowing a Christopher Priest writes occasionally for comics, and then noting several comic-like plot elements, I did some quick checking. Same guy.


Anyway, it has Scarlett Johansson, and I might pay to see her sit in a chair and chew gum for 90 minutes. So, there you go.

I hope your Turkey Day is full of thanks, giving and giving of thanks.

I am sort of out of commission while the family is here. In the meantime, you can read an interview Jason did with me last week.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Exciting Evening

Well, tonight we went to dinner with Stuart and Hilary down at Threadgill's on Barton Springs. We had a nice chat and caught up a little. Hope to see them at the Holiday Spectacular.

We were departing town via S. Lamar, in the lane to turn west on 6th (and then out to MoPac). We'd pulled up to the light, and I was having a thought I was about o express when I heard two loud bangs. It took me a split second, but I realized the car next to me in the right lane had been hit by the car behind them. Hard. However, the second car was not at fault as the second car had originally been struck with tremendous force by a third car. The third car must not have even slowed down as they approached the intersection.

As Jamie rolled down her window to ask if the woman in the car next to us was okay, for some reason, that lady rolled up her window. Her car was bad damaged, but I honestly didn't get a good look.

The damage to the second and third car was enormous. The second car was, of course, crushed in at both the front and rear. The front of the third car was flattened, the car had bounced back a few feet with the impact, and had some sort of steam seemed to be shooting out of the side of the third car.

It's amazing what you see in a few seconds when the adrenaline kicks in.

You may not know the Lamar/ 6th Street intersection (just South of Waterloo), but it's largely penned in. There is no shoulder to pull off on. There is no way to do anything but remain in your car. I couldn't get out and safely check on the other drivers without blocking traffic and thusly blocking routes for first responders. I was fairly certain the person in the second car MUST have sustained at least minor injuries.

So, feeling more than a little guilty, but grateful we'd been turning left, we drove off. We were glad to see EMS already en route when we reached the turn off from 6th to MoPac, but it definitely left a question mark over our heads as to the condition of the drivers.

We were home for a brief while, and I was talking to Jason on the phone regarding the Holiday when Jamie came bolting down the stairs shouting that Lucy had eaten one of her pills. Normally, I wouldn't care a whole lot, and my first inclination was to suggest we let Lucy ride it out, but this was one of Jamie's big, blood-pressure horse-pills. Jamie has very high blood pressure (no kidneys will do that), so the pill is a fairly serious dose.

We called the 24-Hour vet clinic, who, in turn, had us call Animal Poison Control (who knew there was such a thing?). I then drove to Walgreens and bought a bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide, which we mixed with peanut butter in order to induce vomiting.

Lucy, unfortunately, has a stomach of cast-iron, and was having none of our induced vomiting. But she was getting very droopy. We called Poison Control back, and they had us repeat the procedure. Meanwhile, we knew the pill was dissolving in Lucy's stomach, so every time she didn't puke between 10-minute puke cycles, things were just getting worse. Unfortunately, not only did Lucy NOT puke on the second attempt, she wouldn't go anywhere near the Hydrogen Peroxide/ Peanut Butter shooter we'd prepared for her. I tried shoving it under her nose, hoping the smell alone would do the trick, but was getting no luck.

You cannot force feed a dog a liquid without a turkey baster.

Note to self, we're about to have Thanksgiving: go buy a baster.

So, anyway, we called back, and, of course, we then zoomed to the 24 Hour Clinic on Frontier and 71 to get Lucy taken care of.

Unfortunately, en route, I remembered we'd left the last peanut butter/ hydrogen peroxide mix on the floor where Mel could get it (and thusly induce vomiting). So I had to drop off Jamie and Lucy and return immediately home, pick up the bowl (which Mel had missed while he snoozed happily on the sofa), and returned to the Pet Clinic.

They gavce Lucy some injection to induce vomiting. I guess she barfed up part of the pill, and the outlook is good. She's there now being closely monitored.

BUT... for some bizarro reason this clinic does not hold a pet until the pet is better. They hold the pet until 6:30 AM when the pet can go home or go to their usual vet. So, yeah, now I have to be back at the clinic with the sunrise to pick up my dog.

Why did Lucy suddenly eat a pill, which she's never done before?

My guess is this: About two weeks ago Lucy was put on a pill to help with her allergies. She loves this pill. She thinks it's delicious for some odd reason, and likes it so much, she sits for the generic Benadryl I give her in eager anticipation of the other pill.

So, my dog now thinks pills are candy.

Jamie is on, like a hundred and eighty medications. We have pill bottles all over the house. We look like a pharmacy/ pushers'-haven. Now we have to worry about Little Miss getting into all kinds of dangerous stuff. Hurray!

This is, I think, the third time Lucy has been to the vet for eating something she isn't supposed to eat. At least this time it's not a rock.

So, I hope you will forgive the brief list for Interactivity Day 4. It's all I can muster.

I'm going to bed so I can get up and reclaim my ridiculous dog.

Things can come at you fast. Even right before Thanksgiving.


I went to pick up Lucy this morning at 6:30. She is doing very well. They tell me her blood pressure stayed very constant all night, so she got to come home immediately this morning. Mostly she's just very happy to be home and being a bit of a baby. She's usually a bit of a baby, so I'm taking that as a good sign.

Right now she is outside in very cold weather with Mel. I am hoping they will both go whizzle and go to sleep so I can get a little more shut-eye in this morning before people start to show up.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Interactivity Day 4: Good Movies that Never Really Did Anything for me

The League is not too hard to impress. We're easily distracted by balloons, shiny objects, and once got a "C" in Intro to Italian because there were squirrels in the tree outside the classroom window.

So we're always a little befuddled when a movie comes out that we're supposed to like, but which does absolutely nothing for us. This doesn't mean it was a bad movie, or that I think OTHER people are dumb for liking the movie. Nor does it mean I think I must be dumb for not getting the genius of the movie. Just movies I saw, shrugged, and sort of dismssed.

Gosford Park (I know. Awful timing.)
The Rules of the Game (often said to be the greatest movie ever)
Shrek 1
An American Werewolf in London
The Toxic Avenger
Finding Nemo
Shakespeare in Love
The English Patient
Top Gun
There's Something About Mary
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
A Beautiful Mind
Dial M for Murder
The Wild Bunch
Sleepless in Seattle
When Harry Met Sally
Apollo 13
Cape Fear (remake)
Jerry Maguire
Dazed and Confused
The Truman Show

What movies did you see which you just didn't think quite lived up to the hype?
Interactivity Day 3: Movies I am only now fessing up to watching and enjoying

Some of these may ruin whatever preconceived notions you have of me, others may confirm sneaking suspicions you've had all along. This list is: A partial list of movies I knew were bad when I was watching them, but which I secretly enjoyed.

This does not include movies that were "so bad, they're fascinating" (ie: ROTOR).

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
Little Shop of Horrors
Superman IV
The Shadow
The Hulk
Josie and the Pussycats
Smokey and the Bandit
Cannonball Run 1 & 2
Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course
Pootie Tang
Robocop 2
A Life Less Ordinary
Godzilla 2000
Six Pack
Gremlins 2
Red Sonja
Not Another Teenage Movie
The Last Dragon

Movies I've seen that I'm simply embarassed to tell people I've seen:

American Cyborg: Steel Warrior
Mortal Kombat
Street Fighter (no, not that one. The one based on the videogame. So bad, it killed star Raul Julia)
Man's Best Friend
Jingle All the Way
The Sixth Day
End of Days
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie
Beethoven's 2nd (but, curiously, not the original)
Johnny Mnemonic
Robot Jox (twice)
Space Truckers
Barb Wire
The Flintstones
From Justin to Kelly
No Holds Barred
The Phantom
Dungeons & Dragons
Dude, Where's My Car
Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3

These lists are just a jumping off point to get you to think (believe me, if I really put my mind to it, there are probably scores more for both lists).

What movie are you embarassed to admit you like? Or what movie are you just ashamed to tell other people that you displayed the poor judgement to actually sit all the way through although you knew it was bad?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Marvel Comics teams up with The Guiding Light

I keep forgetting to talk about this, let alone watch it...

Apparently Marvel Comics entered into some deal with the soap opera "Guiding Light". Now there's a superhero on Guiding Light, which seems weird, but "Days of Our Lives" has had supernatural storylines, "Passions" is full of this kind of stuff, and that's just the stuff I know about...

Anyway, in a post down below, Peabo was pointing out how his mother and I both like to follow serialized stories in which characters don't ever seem to change much (his mother with soaps, me with the comics), and it reminded me of this debacle.

go here, if you dare...

Interactivity Day 2: Movies I have never seen, but probably should
AKA: Stump The League

A very partial list of movies I should probably see at some point. Assembled with some help from the AFI 100 Years of Film lists. I'll revist the lists in a different Interactivity post.

The Ten Commandments
The Greatest Story Ever Told
In the Heat of the Night
Sullivan's Travels
The China Syndrome
A Hard Day's Night
On the Waterfront
The Hustler
El Cid
The Best Years of Our Lives
The Third Man
Roman Holiday
The Conversation
The Pride of the Yankees
A Raisin in the Sun
Blow Up
True Grit
The Grapes of Wrath
Double Indemnity
East of Eden
Animal Crackers
How the West was Won
Tora, Tora, Tora
The Thin Man
The Thing (original. I totally saw the Kurt Russel version)
The Last Picture Show
The Man Who Fell to Earth
Fail Safe
To Sir, With Love
Solaris (original version)
The Sting

and pretty much anything made in Europe. Sorry. I've seen like one Bergman movie and one Fellini movie. I have nothing against either filmmaker, I just haven't quite made it through their repertoire as of yet.

What other movies can you suggest? I will let you know if I have seen the movie. Now, let's use some hard-hitting criteria. I'm trying to make these the sort of movies that are award winners (no, "Kid's Choice Awards" do not count), have either stood the test of time, or are such a familiar touchstone to our movie-watching zeitgeist, that it's probably a good idea to see them.

So, you know, it's great that you loved "Legally Blonde", but let's wait a few years before we list that one.