March 2005

  • Robbing the Bees


    I made a rare trip to Burger King for lunch this morning in search of the elusive Double Whopper with cheese. The Diane Rehm Show was on NPR and Diane’s guest was author and amateur beekeeper, Holley Bishop. Ms. Bishop wrote the book Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey–The Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World (ISBN: 0743250214). She also sounds an awful lot like Gwyneth Paltrow (at least to my untrained ear).

    My father tried his hand at beekeeping some years back, and I came across the remnants of the trade/hobby a few times during my childhood. In a second floor section of the barn not used to store hay bales one might have found a smoker (a smoke-belching, coffee pot–like contraption used to keep the bees docile), the wooden hive framework and various other accoutrements of the beekeeper. Apart from these things, however, I don’t know much about the process or about my father’s experience with it. I’m sure he’s made occasional mention of it in conversation over the years, but I have an extremely selective memory and the chances that I was paying any real attention are quite slim.

    I think I’d like Holley Bishop’s book to be on The Bookshelf, for a couple of reasons. First, because the few minutes of conversation I heard between the author and the radio host were far more fascinating than I would have suspected such a topic could be. Second, because it’ll give me an excuse to talk to my father about something he was interested in as a younger man. An excuse I probably shouldn’t need, but which might be good to have in any case.

  • Because I watched Falling Down not that long ago.


    Partway through my web comics list today, I happened upon Real Life Comics.

    Hey, I said to myself. I need to rent Hackers.

  • Scraping the bottom of the barrel…


    Well, it’s been something of a slow news week, so I thought I’d mention that Cartoon Network announced yesterday that The Venture Brothers has been picked up for a second season. Jackson Publick, one of the show’s creators, had this to say.

  • I believe the word is “incredulous.”


    Here’s a little sample of why The Venture Brothers had me laughing out loud last night. From the episode named “Tag Sale, You’re It!” Dr. Venture is throwing a yard sale and it’s a veritable Who’s Who of villainy at the Venture Compound. The Monarch, who considers himself to be Dr. Venture’s arch-nemesis, is in attendance, as is his girlfriend, Dr. GirlfriendI am conflicted with regards to Dr. Girlfriend. On the one hand, she is terribly attractive. In fact, let’s just call her hot. On the other hand, she has an incredibly deep, masculine voice. Imagine Jacqueline Kennedy with Dolph Lundgren’s voice, throw in a bit of a Jersey accent and you should have a pretty good idea of what I mean. On top of the physical/vocal disparity, there’s something Master Billy Quizboy said about rumors of a surgically-implanted baboon uterus. It’s enough to make a man shudder.. As they wait in queue, The Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend comment on some of the other bargain seekers, and then Dr. Girlfriend spots a familiar face:

    Dr. Girlfriend: Sweetie, isn’t that the guy from Depeche Mode?
    The Monarch: Oh, no way, where?! Holy crap, he’s with a girl.
    Dr. Girlfriend: Oh yeah, that guy is totally straight. I saw a whole thing about him on the VH1.
    The Monarch: But he’s the guy from Depeche Mode. That’s impossible!
    Dr. Girlfriend: Straight.
    The Monarch: Come on, he’s in Depeche Mode!Dialog snippet snippetted from The Mantis-Eye Experiment, a very snazzy Venture Brothers fansite.

    Last I heard, The Venture Brothers was just about to be greenlighted for a second season. This is a good thing, as the first season ended with quite the cliffhanger (in an homage to Easy Rider).

  • Comic Movie Newz


    Per an e-mail I received from Spider-Man (yeah, we’re buds), Thomas Haden Church (Wings, Sideways) has been cast as the as-yet-unidentified villain in Spider-Man 3, slated to begin production early in 2006. Tobey Magquire will apparently reprise his role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Kirsten Dunst will return as Mary Jane Watson. Spidey did not mention whether J.K. Simmons will return to the role of the ever-irritable newspaper editor, J. Jonah Jameson.

    In other Marvel movie news, The Sci-Fi Channel reports that a new director (Matthew Vaughn, Layer Cake) has been tapped to helm the third film in the X-Men franchise. I’m a little disappointed to learn that Bryan Singer won’t be returning, as he’s done an excellent job with the series thus far.

    That is all.

  • Feliz Cumpleaños, mi amor.


    Happy Birthday to Laura, who is babysitting her sister’s kids today (and most every Friday), and will probably not read this until it’s no longer her birthday anymore.

    Laura’s first trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula happened around her birthday in 1994. Laura was on the verge of graduating from Bowling Green State University (Go Falcons!) at the time, while I was paying matriculation fees to Michigan Technological University (Go Huskies!) and living with my parents in Toivola.

    While Laura was staying with us, there was a huge, nasty blizzard. Such an occurrence in the U.P. is not at all uncommon for mid-March, but I think it caught the girl from Ohio by surprise.

    My mother made a cake for Laura’s birthday in 1994, and by the eighteenth of March the following year I’d been living in northeast Ohio for several months. Tonight, I’ll celebrate Laura’s birthday with her for the twelfth time. I’ve heard that it may snow.

  • Heroes


    At the monthly meeting of the Cleveland-area NaNoWriMo group this past Thursday, I began working on the first of seven short stories I plan to write over the next seven months. These stories will tell the origins of eight superheroes I created in City of Heroes. Here’s a quick rundown of the stories:

    • MarchCardelion: The Gladiator’s Tale. Max Barstow is a former television star attempting to reinvent himself as a costumed hero, despite a mountain of legal difficulties.
    • AprilQR7: The Android’s Tale is the story of an android whose origins are shrouded in mystery. A covert organization wants to find out who built the crimefighting automaton, who controls him now, and whether he can be recruited for sinister purposes.
    • MayDr. Garabiton: The Scientist’s Tale. Experimental physicist Patrick Nguyen finds himself thrown into a brutal conflict with CHAOS Factor, the supercriminal group responsible for the death of friend and mentor. When the mild-mannered scientist dons the Gravitas Mark IV battlesuit, gravity itself is bent to his whim.
    • JuneKaryx & Karykeion: The Tale of the Twins. Gifted with strange abilities to both heal and harm, Alexandra and Daniel Cahill kept their mutant powers a secret from the world, until a fateful car accident changed their lives forever.
    • JulyConflagrante: Phoenix Reborn. An arsonist falls into his own trap and is reborn as a costumed crimefighter, but who is pulling his strings, and what will happen if his past is ever revealed?
    • AugustKim Mak: Temporary Hero. Sometimes the difference between a hero and a villain is simply the outcome of a bet. When a world-renowned assassin loses a “friendly” wager with one of her peers, she must battle the forces of evil for a year.
    • SeptemberMajor Dorque: The Old Soldier’s Tale. Major Jeffrey “Torque” Abrams served his country honorably for most of his adult life. Now, unable to adjust to being a civilian, Maj. Abrams has decided to come out of retirement to assist in the battle against those who would prey upon the weak, the helpless and the downtrodden. But someone at the Office of Hero Registration has a chip on their shoulder, and now the old soldier fights for his dignity against the most implacable of foes… bureaucracy.
  • Television Review: LOST


    I caught up on the three most recent episodes (16, 17 and 18) of LOST last night. Unfortunately, there’s so much stuff on the TiVo right now (much of it owing to Laura’s vacation) that episode 15 — which I had not yet watched — was overwritten by CSI: NY or somesuch.

    Potential spoilers follow.

  • Home Alone: Post-Mortem


    My head hurts and I don’t feel much like elaborating on the events of this past weekend, so I’ll do a quick summary:

    • Laura returned late last night to a still-standing house and a still-living, (relatively) mentally-intact husband. Rosie and Gil are still very much alive, and none of their little bones have been harvested as components for an ill-conceived pulsed plasma thruster.
    • I had planned to clean Laura’s car inside and out while she was gone, but settled for washing just the outside. Thus, the corpse of the moth remains visible through the rear window.
    • Also not accomplished: replacing the dryer exhaust hose.
    • I should also point out that the correct spelling is “Shaun,” not “Shawn.” So, Shaun of the Dead. Enjoyable flick.
    • I watched the season premiere of Deadwood on HBO last night. Ah, Al Swearengen. Good to see you again.
    • I was dismayed to learn that there are only three episodes of Carnivàle remaining in the current season. So much has happened in just the past two episodes it feels like Daniel Knauf is building to something huge. On a side note: I used to think of tarring and feathering as being humiliating without physically endangering the (for want of a better word) recipient. After watching Jonesy get tarred and feathered last night (and assuming the process was accurately portrayed), my viewpoint has changed considerably.
  • Quote of the Day


    “I have a friend who gets thrown in the slammer sometimes. She always wants me to bring her animal crackers. She loves ’em!”

    —Little Old Lady behind me in line at the Post Office