Gods and Monsters

What’s your favorite current TV show? I don’t mean the one you think is the best, necessarily, but the one you can just let go and enjoy most, whether that feeling comes from pulse-pounding action, total investment in the characters, or laugh-out-loud comedy — or all three.

Jensen Ackles as Dean and Jared Padelecki as Sam against nightmarish background, Sam's hand reaching out to viewer with severe foreshortening

Mine’s Supernatural.

Shelf Obsession

I’m still not writing enough about my lifelong passion for comics.

Convenience stores, newsagents, and 5-&-10s in South Jersey fed my early habit,
as I shared last year. Only so much history could be gleaned from comic-book reprints and editorial pages, however. Luckily, a bevy of books on comics awaited at the Cape May County Library, where surveys of my favorite four-color fantasies and their forebears could be found in (mostly) cold, hard black and white.

Cover to 'The Comic-Book Book' with sound effects and word balloons reading 'Aargh!', 'Hmmmm', and 'Zowie!'

The one I checked out most often was a 1973 tome aptly titled The Comic-Book Book, edited by Dick Lupoff and Don Thompson.

Chuck Not Up

Yvonne Strahovski as Sarah, facing Zachary Levi as Chuck, her back to us but head turned our way in steely-eyed gaze

This post is currently down for maintenance.

Give Me Hellboy

I’m looking to get rid of most of my thousands of comic books, but Hellboy ranks among the keepers. The series is pretty much my all-time favorite, certainly when you discount nostalgia; Mike Mignola long ago proved that he’s as accomplished and unique a writer as he is an illustrator. While I think the absolute best Hellboy stories are short, self-contained tales, the mythology woven by Mignola and his collaborators in the family of Dark Horse’s Hellboy, BPRD, Abe Sapien, Lobster Johnson, and Witchfinder one-shots and miniseries rivals any other from graphic novels, television, film, or prose in recent decades.

Hellboy carrying a desiccated corpse on his back

Yet I come here not to praise Hellboy, but to barter him.

Words to the Wise

My grandfather always had a dictionary on his night table. I have one on my Apple laptop. His was a so-called “pocket” book almost as thick as it was wide; mine is virtual, an application represented by the icon below in the dock of programs and folders at the right of my computer screen.

Icon of thick dictionary with large capital and lowercase A on cover

The lure of Dictionary is strong.

Meaner Still

The can of Campbell’s soup remains in effect, due to connection problems as well as projects that aren’t being dealt with as efficiently as I’d like. For those who’ve not seen it before, I should point out that the can is a mysterious “ancient Internet tradition” begun by Mark Evanier, as explained and in fact recently invoked by Evanier on his blog, News from ME, which if your interests are anything like mine offers a variety of fine, funny, and fascinating material by the bushel.

I hope to have a volley of posts up soon (yeah, When don’t I?), but meantime here’s another batch of Blogger word-verification definitions.

abendsl — n. #2 graphite stick, when you’re congested.

betoofsr — Father of Betoof Jr.

boophala — n. A shout-out from Ms. Betty.

The Fab-Four Score

I chanced upon “Hey Jude” in the car last night, reminding me again to write about
The Beatles.

Far lesser musical lights have labels on this blog, and it’s been bugging me that the greatest band in the history of pop music doesn’t. Many folks consider The Rolling Stones the greatest rock band ever, and they might be right — I’m not a huge Stones fan, to be honest, although they are undeniably iconic. The Beatles, however, during a relatively brief period spanning the era in which classic rock-&-roll (“She Loves You”) gave way to flat-out hard rock, hold the roll (“Helter Skelter”), also proved masters of old-fashioned balladry, psychedelic experimentation, and so much more (“Strawberry Fields Forever”). They wrote anthems, they wrote grooves, they wrote ditties, for Pete’s sake. Has any other group of musicians been so talented at turning out so many different styles of infectious, accomplished, influential music? And I include in that group not only John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, but producer George Martin as an indispensable enabler of most of the Beatles’ joint

So here’s my First Beatles Story.

Cube Reporting

Mom gave me another batch of Ice Cubes after her recent trip to San Francisco.

bunch of foil-wrapped chocolate Ice Cubes

You don’t see Ice Cubes around here anymore, but when I was a kid they were the awesomest point-of-purchase items ever at 7-Eleven. For literal pennies, you could have weird but yummy chocolate melt in your mouth — or, if you weren’t careful, in your hands, since in the warm weather they got pretty mushy in those foil wrappers pretty darned fast.

Made in Germany by Moritz and distributed in America by Albert’s, per the wrappers, Ice Cubes were out of my life for decades; until recently, I’d assumed they were gone for good. They’re still not available in my neck of the woods anywhere I can find, but certain specialty candy shops as well as online vendors carry them, and (something that just does not compute because I associate them with my life of 25-30 years ago) they have their own Facebook page.

Even Meaner

Screenshot of Word Verification box with prompt characters reading 'soctin'

I need to take my laptop in to get the DVD drive replaced one day soon. While I’m hoping to get some of the many nearly finished posts on hand published before then, here are more word-verification definitions in the meantime so Miss Peasy is no longer the first thing you see on the blog.

For the benefit of those friends and family members whose only exposure to the blogging world is this page right here, by the way, I’ve finally gotten the bright idea to take a screenshot of the world-verification form.

Driving Miss Peasy

Closeup of a woman resembling Kate Winslet

You know that Windows 7 commercial [bad link] with the woman who looks a bit and sounds a lot like Kate Winslet talking to us from the back of a cab?

Every one of the far too many times I’ve seen it but one, what I heard was “easier peasier should be simpler”. Now, I’d be thrilled for my brain never to have accessed the dubiously cutesy phrase “easy peasy”; when the ears can’t make out for sure what they’re receiving, however, the brain first searches for something that’s likely and then just substitutes anything that’s possible. The other night I finally recognized what she’s saying as “using a PC should be simpler” — which you’d think I’d have gotten earlier since this whole series of ads is about people sharing how Windows 7’s improvements were their idea, but nope.

Mini-Slog and Miscellany

I’m sitting outside in a lovely breeze, reminded of how wildly the weather
fluctuates this time of year — and how nice it is to sit outside in a lovely breeze.

The laptop says it’s 86° at nearly 6:30 p.m., which the stifling heat up in my bedroom reflects, but I only just realized that the storm windows probably aren’t coming down again. Hefting the air conditioner into place seems premature, though.

I’ve had a little more trouble restoring the blog after the other day’s sabotage than anticipated. Of course, I should’ve anticipated it — Blogger often doesn’t work as planned. The ability to export the entire code of your blog to your hard drive, however, makes for a decent bulwark against hackers and the service’s own glitches. Not long ago, I realized that I should be doing so regularly in addition to saving the HTML of individual posts. When my blog was vandalized Apr. 1st, the entire thing was deleted, but fortunately I’d saved the code to my laptop the night before. All the posts and even the comments were preserved; while the sidebar widgets unfortunately were not, they’re easy enough to set up. My biggest complaint by far is whatever bugs in Google
or Blogger security allowed this hackery to begin with — quite a concern since my password was total nonsense and changed frequently.

1 for 1

My Phillies won on Opening Day for the first time in five years. I just hope, as my grandmother pointed out, that it doesn’t jinx them for the rest of the season; despite a history of bad Aprils, they’ve been NL East division champs for the past three years and made it to the World Series the past two, grabbing the crown in 2008.

Phillies logo with baseball swirling around the team name

What a game, though: 11 to 1 over the Nationals — not, I grant you, necessarily the biggest threat, but a win’s a win. Our new staff ace Roy Halladay struck out nine in seven innings and even got an RBI base hit; it’s a shame that Cliff Lee had to go to bring Halladay in, since his single season with the Phils last year was nothing to sneeze at, but the trade seems to make sense. I was already happy to have Placido Palanco back at 3rd even before he came up with today’s insane six RBIs (four courtesy of a grand slam). And the big man, Ryan Howard, kicked off the offense as always with his first homer of the season. Everybody in the starting lineup hit safely, in fact, and when you look at this group, from Howard to Palanco to Chase Utley to Jimmy Rollins to Jayson Werth to Shane Victorino to Raul Ibañez to Carlos Ruiz, it looks to be another sizzling summer as long as — say it with me, baseball fans who invoke this same mantra of obviousness each year — the pitching holds up and the team stays healthy. We have a few guys still out, including key reliever J.C. Romero and closer Brad Lidge, but Cole Hamels is looking good and, hey, 47-year-old hometown mensch Jamie Moyer is back. Given how well last season ended despite some players falling apart it’s way too early to panic — it’s Opening Day.

Related: P Funk Low and Inside Play Right

Bits o’ Matzah

pieces of matzah overlaid atop one another

I’m the child of parents with different religious backgrounds, so I got to celebrate
all of the big holidays growing up. While I’ve written before about how to me Christmas and Chanukah are one big Festival of Lights, a time of peace largely secular and yet powerfully spiritual, it’s Passover and Easter that have much more in common from both liturgical and historical perspectives. As a kid, just about the only connection besides their calendar proximity was searching for the afikoman during Passover and hunting for candy on Easter Sunday, but later on I got hip to the whole “paschal lamb” metaphor and had my mind blown when I discovered that Jesus’s Last Supper was a Passover seder and the original communion wafers were matzah (מַצָּה).


The blog was hijacked today.

No, I did not put up the image and message that you might have seen as an April Fool’s joke; it was straight-up vandalism.

Most of the blog will be reposted as quickly as logistics permit, with exactly how much and where to be announced shortly.