Saturday, September 13, 2008

Do Nothing Hurricane Day

It's been a slow, slow day.

For those catching up:

The Hurricane hit Houston. It missed Austin almost entirely aside from some clouds and lovely wind. Although we were projected to get 60mph gusts and driving rain all day, we received a light downpour from 11:40 - 11:55pm, as I'm writing this.

I was on the phone a lot. I called The Admiral at 9:00, and again in the afternoon. He's okay. The house has some leaking he managed. He's probably coming to Austin tomorrow to take in some air conditioning.

Spoke briefly with Jamie's mom, and for a long while with Wagner.

Jamie wanted to watch "American Psycho" on cable this morning, a movie I've always been squeamish about sharing with her, but I figured... what the heck? She's a big girl and can handle it. And she did. Partially, I think, because I'd forgotten how watered down the movie is in comparison to the book, which I haven't read since 1991-2, but which (if you've read it) sort of leaves an impression on you.

We also went down to South Congress for coffee with Matt and Nicole, and had a lovely time.

I am often reminded that most people sort of think of The League as sort of a dullard. And so it was today, in having coffee with pal-Matt that I received the cold splash of reality, that it doesn't help if someone knows you pretty darn well...

Me: -but their one movie I saw that I just didn't think worked was "The Man Who Wasn't There".
Matt: Hmmm. Yeah.
Me: I honestly didn't think it was very good.
Matt: Well, you know, that might be more of a "film person" movie.
Me: I... have a film degree.
Matt: (thoughtful pause) Yeah, well...


I know, I know. I've set myself up as this sort of Superman loving dingbat. You make your bed, you sleep in it.

This evening we wound up watching Oceans 13 (which now caps me out on views of all the new Oceans movies, I think). Then Saturday Night Live (until the musical guest, who I had never heard of). I believed Pohler and Fey's opening sketch was a bit of genius. If it's posted, I'll link.

But, totally uneventful day.

I think the buzz is that everyone in Austin was sort of wound up for the bad weather, and when it didn't arrive, it was maybe a big disappointment.

Also, there were a lot of bored-looking evacuees wandering around Stassney and Manchaca today.

Hurricane Ike in Austin Ain't Nothing But a Thing


It's just cloudy and breezy here. Kind of nice, actually.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Some other Stuff

Hurricane Ike

I actually DID do some prep in case we lose power. Obviously Austin isn't in mortal danger like Houston, but all it takes is a branch snapping and we could lose power for a while. Jason already told me if he lost power that he's "not even going to try. I'll be dead in fifteen minutes."

A worst case scenario, to be sure.

But losing power is a pretty real problem, so if I suddenly disappear from the internet, you know why.

I bought a Coleman lantern and some batteries. And ran to HEB to get some bread and peanut butter and odds and ends. The store was pretty crazy. All the JIF was gone. Even the "smooth" JIF, which only a crazy person would eat.

And the weather isn't supposed to hit until really late tomorrow or sometime Saturday.

I felt like I was overreacting, but if something DOES happen, and I didn't prepare, I'd feel like a heel. So the idea is to buy stuff to be prepared, but don't stock up like its the end of days.

KareBear is headed for Florida to be with my grandfather, who recently had surgery. The Admiral may or may not be headed to Austin. We'll see.

If he's here, I will have to find a way to entertain The Old Man. Which is going to be interesting in 60 mph winds and driving rain.

Jamie's Trip

Jamie has put up a post on her recent trip to Lawton. Her reunion seemed to go over very well. Which surprises me, because Jamie is a total jerk.

To see Jamie catch up with many people whom I don't know, go here.


Jason somehow managed to avoid politics (sort of) for three days on his blog. He (sort of) deserves a cookie, I think.

Little Problem at the Printers

There's a Frank Miller Batman comic out right now geared entirely toward adults (Parents, do NOT pick up "Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder" for the kiddos).

Though its for adults, they do have some words they won't print.

This Miller Batman book is supposed to be kind of funny for its overly grim'n'gritty take on Batman, and so they decided to letter some pretty awful language in, and then, at the printer, have them black over it. It's crooks and the newly minted Batgirl talking like sailors, although our Caped Crusaders' language gets a little salty now and again. But he didn't get the black bars, I don't think

Apparently the lettering black was darker than the black bars, but nobody caught it from the printer until the book reached retailers.

Click here (sensitive viewers may not want to click there).

Frank Miller, himself, found the whole thing pretty funny.

The comic community is even better than politicians at getting fake-outraged about certain things. This is turning into one of them.

Comix Sale

I forgot to mention this a while back, but Top Shelf Productions has a $3 sale going on. Sure, you pay S&H, but I managed to get some interesting stuff for the cost a floppy. That's a really, really good deal (plus, they throw in free stuff).

Here's the link.

Lynda Carter Fights a Gorilla

Building a Better League HQ

Thanks to the hidden entrance to the Batcave in the Adam West starring "Batman" TV show, I've always been a fan of hidden doors in houses.

There was some mention of panic rooms in another post today, and then Randy sent me this link on how to build a batcave entrance in your own home.

As a kid, I would literally lay awake at night trying to figure out how to build a secret door or install a fireman's pole into a house so I could make like Batman down to the garage. And at age 33, I've STILL never actually been down a fireman's pole.

The thing is, when you say "I'd like a batcave entrance in my house", people kind of think you're insane. I say to those people: you have no vision. Of course, I have a living room full of Superman memorabilia, and an office with even more of the same. And a very patient wife.

One day I honestly would very much like to turn the door to my office into a hidden door. I think that would rock. I don't think Jamie thinks it would rock, but, you know... And I have some ideas how to do it with reverse hinges.

I COULD add a batpole from my office that would drop me straight into the garage, but I think that... in sight of everything else I've already done to this house, its going to be hard enough to sell when they carry me out footfirst one day, anyway.

When we were moving from Phoenix back to Austin, I watched a lot of HGTV, which features an endless line of shows about people buying and/ or selling houses. And there are some truisms of selling a house. You really ARE supposed to de-personalize the house. But watching realtors on HGTV after more than twenty minutes makes you realize: these people have grown to disdain the fact that people actually live in their own homes while they're being sold.

I don't exactly blame them, as we all want our jobs to go as smoothly as possible. And, I know its a tough sell to many people if they walk into a house that's not done up in a way that they'd do it. And, yeah, a "hidden bookshelf door" revealing a two story brass pole into the garage... sort of seems to be the mark of insanity. And I did see one show where a realtor was horrified by some client's "batcave" room. but I just wanted to know more.

I'd done some similar customization to my office in Phoenix (royal blue paint, a Spider-Man border). And we just decided that maybe we'd be able to sell to a family with a young boy. The realtor told me not to even bother to repaint because it might actually be a selling point of sorts.

I don't know if I mentioned it, but a comic geek wound up buying the house, and I guess that room was going to be his office, too. So, you never know.

Now, if I can get Jamie to let me install those big crystals in the front yard to get that look I really want...

Ike is, apparently, pretty serious

Oh, heck.

Somebody (I assume Mack Brown) canceled the UT game for Saturday. Apparently 60mph winds and pounding rain were considered an issue.

My seats are pretty high up, so I can just imagine trying to make it through that game where the wind might be even stronger.

They've rescheduled the game to next weekend during ACL, so I'm not going (if anyone wants the tickets, lemme know).

They're evacuating Galveston completely (a sound judgment if the Hurricane of 1900 is any indication), and parts of Houston may go Atlantis on us.

I sincerely hope they're wrong about all this, and its sunny for the rest of the week. But part of me wonders what will happen if they keep asking the coastal cities to evacuate, but there's no real damage. The changes FEMA, state agencies, etc.. have made in the wake of Katrina and Rita don't work if people believe that the government is being paranoid and quit responding.

Austin is one of the destination evacuation cities for Texas, and so we keep pretty aware of the possible ebb and flow of evacuees and sudden need to support all of these folks as they evacuate. It sounds like they may be canceling school in some places to set up shelters, so some kids are going to be happy about the hurricane.

I still hope this is all much ado about nothing, but right now I'm planning my Saturday around staying dry and probably staying in.

It's Going to Rain

They are saying Ike is coming to Austin. We're a few hours inland, so I'm not sure what these people are talking about, but we're gonna get some weather. And so people will probably overrreact and freak out.

I recall when Hurricane Gilbert was tearing up the Gulf, circa 1988, we were going to get some crazy weather. It rained mildly for about thirty minutes.

I'm still buying some batteries, water and a 6 foot party sub to get me through...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

World Does Not End

Here's the article.

But we already knew that.

More on LHC. Once again, in song.

Comic Fodder Post

wherein I talk a bit about Superman. And why he is uncool.

Read the amazing article here.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Imminent doom from the LHC? It's on like Donkey Kong!

Tonight Jamie and I were discussing CERN's Large Hadron Collider, and it's possibilities for accidentally ending life, the universe and everything. And it was one of those instances where I felt a little bad, because we had wildly differing opinions regarding the possibilities of the worst case scenario.

I guess I made reference to the fact that if the Hadron Collider does, in fact, end Everything, I was okay with that.

I am, I think, in the minority on this one.

It boils down to a few things:

1) If I'm gonna be ended, I would prefer it happen by my atoms spontaneously zipping away from one another at the speed of light rather than, say, eating bad clams or something.
2) At least we were trying to learn something when we'd end the universe rather than getting into some petty political squabble that, frankly, isn't that important, and so we all wind up waiting twenty minutes for the rockets to come down on our heads.
3) I have nothing planned for next week, anyway

In some ways, I am intellectually aware that my survival instincts can't deal with the abstraction of sudden proton reversal, and I just can't get worked up about this Hadron Collider stuff. But having grown up under the threat of imminent nuclear war which could break out at any time and end the world twenty times over... I've kinda been figuring on reaping the whirlwind in some firey blaze since I was in first grade. Thanks, TV.

Anyhow, I'm about as worried about this as I am about the end times coming in 2012. With the added bonus of: hey, I could be sitting at my desk reading e-mail from Randy, and.. zip... that's it. We all get blue screened. There's nothing I can do about 99% of the ways we could go, and if you have to pick one... again, sudden protonic reversal seems not all that bad.

I also suggested to Jamie that even if the universe does end, all that energy has to go somewhere, and so in a trillion years of linear time, most likely we'll all be back doing exactly the same thing when the universe simply recreates itself, following roughly the same pattern.

Sure, we might be giant flagella-wielding manta rays or something as random circumstances effect minute changes in progress... but I'm pretty sure the universe, even destroyed, will sort itself out without us. I mean, we're just recombinant DNA packages swimming in a soft atmosphere passing data back and forth to one another, when you get down to it. Sort of just little self-running programs collecting and analyzing data and passing it on through DNA or sensory-based transfer (for now). In the grand scope of things, we're a blip in the infinite and not even a picamoment in the cosmic timeline, so...

Yeah. I'm not too worried.

The LHC is part of Machine: Earth, of the Solar System. If the systems running on Machine: Earth bluescreen, well, the universe will figure its way out somehow beyond our miniscule comprehension. There is cosmic-level systems support, I assure you.

And for all we know, this is but a reboot in which we've already been here countless times, and this is the one time we've gotten it right, so when they fire up the LHC, this time its smooth sailing.

You gotta think positive about these things.

Anyhoo, here's Yakko Warner putting things into perspective (and song):

Superman Animated and New Gods

Before anyone gets their panties in a bunch, Jack Kirby's "New Gods" aren't some religious whatzit. It refers to Kirby's crazy-bizarre ideas regarding a celestial race of beings spawned from the wars of celestial beings who may or may not have been the same or precursors to mythological figures of Earth culture. It's hazy.

But what you also need to know is: The New Gods are awesome.

If I tried to explain this scene, I would never do it justice...

But this weekend, while watching an old episode of the animated Superman show from the 1990's, I was reminded of how Timm's crew recognized that the show was a great opportunity to bring in Kirby's Fourth World characters. After all, they'd first been introduced in "Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen" (no, really. I have the issue.), so a Superman cartoon was a great excuse for them to bring these characters to the small screen.

Here's the nickel tour of how The New Gods stuff works:

The traded babies? Orion and Scott "Mr. Miracle" Free. Just FYI.

Keep in mind, this was just one of Kirby's ideas. The man is responsible for:
The Fantastic Four
Dr. Doom
The X-Men
Captain America

and I could keep going... But, suffice it to say, The Fourth World/ New Gods concepts were a later-era Kirby creation, dreamed up during a period when he was coming up with whole worlds between breakfast and lunch.

I posted the clip above because it's a pretty good summation of The New Gods, and I find Orion to be an underappreciated DC character. I have to thank WB animation for giving Orion his due.

Timm's team would carry Darkseid and Co. through as a major force in their DCU cartoons until the very final episode, providing for some of the best stories in what was a phenomenal set of series.

Anyway, if WB is looking for a mythology and villain for the relaunch of the Superman movies? And they want dark?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Simon to run in Terry Fox thingamajig

Simon is in some sort of Canadian foot race where he'll be raising money to research cancer. Leaguers should support Simon as he participates in the Terry Fox Run 2008.

Whenever I hear the name of Terry Fox, I am reminded of the set of books called Value Tales my mom got me as a kid about famous people who represented various values and virtues a good little kid was supposed to internalize. Its how I learned about Jackie Robinson as a kid, Terry Fox, Ben Franklin, Harriet Tubman... we must have had three dozen of those books. They came mail order, and it was always a big day when we'd get them in the mail (shortly after we quit getting Sweet Pickles).

I looked it up, and... looks like you parents could be landing these books for your kids. go here. (Terry Fox has, ironically, been left out by the new publishers.)

Anyway, I'll always remember the Terry Fox book because... well, here's Wikipedia on Terry Fox.

So, anyway... you may be a lazy SOB, but Terry wasn't, and Simon isn't... so give a donation, Leaguers.

Recluse Weekend

As some of you know, Jamie was out of town from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon. Jamie returned to Lawton for the weekend for a high school reunion (which was sort of informal, and a "girls who grew up together" sort of thing, and so I did not attend).

Jamie's absence left me in a curious position.

As a married gent, it is not often that I am left to my own devices for such an extended period. We enjoy spending time together, and as such, neither of us ever get too weird and Gollem-like.

But rather than run around and fill my weekend with social-butterfly-ness, making friends entertain me, I spent quiet time with the pets. Watched some TV, an episode of Mad Men, read a stack of comics, and worked on my long-suffering prose piece. I'm still pretty embarrassed about the whole thing, but I did get some pages done, which I haven't in a long, long time. It's odd to talk about it, but I figure if I talk about it here, maybe I'll feel like I can keep moving forward.

Plus, I spent time trying to figure out if Matthew Sweet was dead. (He is not.)

I did try an experiment to see if I could make it all day Saturday without leaving the house, but that fizzled when I went stir-crazy and went to Target for dog food.

Plus, I was involved in a post-car-wreck phone-relay scenario with Letty & Juan and Lauren & Steven. I think Lauren is okay. Hopefully she'll pop up and tell us.

Aside from that, I just watched the UT game and took Mel and Lucy for a nice, long walk (I don't want to screw it up by talking about it, but the temperatures have been nice at night here lately).

Today I hung out with Jason a bit, watched some pro-ball (hooray, Cowboys!), and was happy to see Jamie returned to me in one piece. Mostly, I just missed her. It is nice to have her home.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Press arrests at Convention

My old college pal Robb was one of the protesters arrested in New York at the 2004 Republican Convention. For those of us who assume that we're living in a country of a fairly solid system, and where the cops are there as servants of the community (as well as lawyers, etc...) Robb's story is a reminder how quickly that can turn on a dime. But, it's also one of how little dissent is tolerated.

Robb was never injured, by the way, or anything like that. But he did get the good cop/ bad cop interrogation room treatment. And for those of you who know Robb, in some ways, I feel almost sorry for the cops in trying to get him to play along (or even get what they were up to.).

This morning on PBS's "Now", they had a story on Amy Goodman, a reporter for "Democracy Now". It didn't get too much play during the Republican Convention, but St. Paul saw some significant protests last week.

Now, I don't want for readers to assume I agree with the protesters, or think that smashing windows is, in any way, a good idea. I know those protesters have no idea how badly their message plays when they take things that direction, and don't really get "it".

But I don't care what your slant is as a reporter. The story surrounding Goodman's arrest and the arrest of her crew should be shocking to everyone.

Unfortunately, "Democracy Now!" is not a mainstream news organization. That doesn't indicate they are an illegitimate organization, or that the political leanings of their organization were even known or the press status of the crew was acknowledged by the police. They could have been working for "The Christian Science Monitor" for all the cops noticed.

Goodman was texted from her post on the floor of the Convention that her team had been arrested while covering a protest. The footage is her rushing out to the police line to see what's going on.

Here's the producer getting arrested. Note, she is wearing press credentials and shouting "Press" repeatedly.

Apparently after this the cops, dissatisfied with her prone position, put a knee in her back and dragged her across the asphalt, getting her face cut up.

Curiously, the St. Paul police are "investigating" the incident, not to see if the police in question acted out of turn, but whether or not they should drop the charges against the "Democracy Now!" team.

All of this was preceded, I should note, by the iWitness video team being arrested BEFORE the convention even started. iWitness video is a watchdog organization that records police action in potentially volatile situations (such as the RNC 2004). They were raided before the convention for, essentially, the potential trouble the St. Paul/ Minneapolis police felt they could create. The charge? The cops claim that there was a reported "hostage" situation they were investigating...

I know some Leaguers will believe that Goodman and the iWitness folks aren't any different from any other hippie protesters. And, of course, protesters get what they deserve. But, keep in mind, "Democracy Now!" was a credentialed, accredited, badge-wearing crew. Goodman also states that a Secret Service agent came by AFTER she was in cuffs and took her credentials off her neck without her permission.

I'm not pointing at the RNC for culpability, instead I would point toward recent trends in how protesters are being handled, and how the St. Paul police is being instructed to handle protesters by the FBI, Secret Service, etc... And how that's spread now, indiscriminately, to the press.

Leaguers, this is seriously, seriously messed up. I don't really know why NBC, ABC, CNN, Fox, etc... aren't covering the "Democracy Now!" story, but I would guess they're far more focused right now on the actual candidates and enjoying the comforts those candidates extend to the press corps.

But if reporters now have to worry about not just getting arrested (and getting roughed up despite no signs of resisting arrest), is that something we're comfortable with...?

Washington Post

Seattle Post Intelligencer

USA Today

iWitness video

For how not to stage a protest (you dingbats) read here