Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Award winning Berlin based artist Natascha Stellmach has acquired the ashes of Nirvana frontman, Kurt Cobain, and has transformed the grunge icon’s remains into an installation investigating suicide and the power of desecration.
Stellmach’s work in which the ashes of Cobain are rolled into a joint to be smoked at the completion of the exhibition, now claims an ephemeral place in the life story of the Grunge star. “This final act”, Stellmach said, “will release Cobain from the media circus and into the ether.”
I was never the biggest Nirvana fan and I think time has only diminished the band's appeal for me (between the legal battles, Foo Fighters, and Cobain being labeled my generation's John Lennon, I sorta just walked away), but I can't dispute the impact they had on me as a youngster*. And while most of my wants to slap this artist for doing something stupid, I hardly feel like this is the most insulting thing that's been done to this man after death. So carry on.

*I just typed "youngster" and didn't even register it. It might be the soporific effects of the cold and cough medicine I've taken today (along with what seems like half the universe, I'm really sick right now), or it might be that I'm just getting old and ridiculous. Either way, I'm not letting it get to me. So hooray for that. Goodnight, all. Happy October.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Paul Newman

Once, when I was a no-good kid and I got caught doing something stupid with one of my no-good friends, his father screamed at us. For hours. I wish I could remember what he'd caught us doing, but considering my age at the time, it probably involved setting something on fire.
My friend and I really thought we were some badass kids. Smoking cigarettes and bottle rocket fights and sneaking out all the time. I think his dad was just finally sick of his 13 year old son being such a pain in the balls. He yelled at us until he was blue in the face and then he disappeared for a minute. He came back a few minutes later with a VHS tape in hand. "You boys think you're hard" he muttered, shoving the tape in the VCR, "watch this".
To this day I'm not sure what he was trying to teach us. I'm not sure how he hoped forcing us to watch "Cool Hand Luke" would impact us in a positive manner, but two hours later, we were completely enthralled. It was the first black and white movie I ever truly loved, and it remains a favorite. I haven't seen no-good friend in over a decade, but if I ever bump into his dad, I owe him a word of thanks.
Despite watching a lot of news this weekend, it somehow escaped me until just now that Paul Newman is dead. His health has been on the decline for about a year now, but this doesn't diminish anything for me, since he is one of my favorite people that has ever lived. Not just because I like most of his films. It's not just because he was a great philanderer, or that he got himself on Richard Nixon's enemies list. It's because the man was just a class act, all around.
He had senses of humor and modesty. He carried himself with dignity and grace, and when he spoke, it was usually worth listening to. If you ever get the chance, watch the episode of Iconoclasts that Redford made on him. Or hell, watch the man's movies. I, for one, will be watching Slap Shot, The Verdict, and The Young Philadelphians, to start with. Here's to a strong and lasting legacy.
Godspeed, Paul.

and check out some of the trivia: He was the visual inspiration for the original illustrations of superhero Green Lantern/Hal Jordan.

Friday, September 26, 2008

"I've Got a Pen"

Did he bring a prop to the debate?

Also, what's up with the bracelet-off? Who's gonna be the first to go balls out and wear 4,000 of those puppies?

also, WHO BRAGS ABOUT BEING FRIENDS WITH HENRY KISSINGER? Are you serious? Isn't the man not allowed in half of Europe because he is wanted for war crimes? Fuck man, somebody just confirm that he's a war criminal already.

With all the mention about Ole Miss and the James Meredith riots of 1962, they've had all sorts of Mississippi alum on the radio talking about how embarrassing it was to be attending such a racist institution at the time, and they stress the progress that has been made. and I'm sure it has. But you have to figure that a sizable portion -if not the majority- of the student body at the time was opposed to the admission of a black student. I wonder who those people are talking to. Probably their children. Sigh.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I know I said no more pictures today. I really meant it. But honestly, did you expect me to find something like this and not post it? Seriously, I'm halfway towards having it blown up and airbrushed on the hood of my car. (I wonder how that would look on toast...).
anyways, here is the HDF-exclusive of
"smoking woman offering booze to baby lion".
a/k/a the greatest photo I've ever laid eyes on.

I just thought this was amazing. Enough to steal outright from English Russia, anyway. That's enough pictures for one day.
Fountain in the Detroit Airport
"Slime molds" at English Russia.
These are pretty beautiful. How many have you eaten?

Scan Toaster

Japan, 1973

While I'm not positive yet, there might be a lot more pictures like this being posted in the near future. I'm not sure yet. The idea of posting someone else's travel photos is slightly bothersome, but some of these are too great not to.
Hot Cop, age 3


This guy was thrusting in front of me at the Eagles' home opener. Apparently, he drives up from Virginia for every home game, some beer cans spilling out of his pickup as he pulls into the lot. Nice.

I completely forgot it until now, when I went to empty out the pictures on my cell phone.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tried to watch TV last night after a long day of work that seemingly got me nowhere, and couldn't figure out what the hell was going on. I missed most of last season of Heroes, but did it always have the red carpet hour before the program? What the hell is going on? Was Chuck as popular as NBC keeps telling me? Why is 30 Rock taking so long to come back? Oh well.

We probably coulda used that...

In other Iraq news, a former Iraqi official told the Senate Democratic Policy Committee on Monday that more than $13 billion sent by the US for reconstruction projects in Iraq was wasted or stolen through elaborate fraud schemes.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

While I know that I'm going to mess this up, I'm still super excited to construct my own little Usagi Yojimbo using the design I found on Cubecraft. I'm even buying an exacto! My craft expertise is something awful, but I'm sure you can do better than I can. So go make one of these. If someone can pull off the Duck Hunt dog, I will bow to them in public and proclaim you to be the greatest person EVER. Suck on that, Abraham Lincoln.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

How can she still be doing this? Has nobody called her on this? Really?

Also, who the hell gave Bill Maher a movie? Really? Was Michael Moore so popular that we thought we should smarm him up by 200% and remove whatever semblance of blue-collar roots and location he may have had?


Because I spend a fraction of the time I used to on the internet, and most of that is used downloading podcasts, I tend to miss out on any news that isn't relayed secondhand to me about pig lipstick or how everyone's money is going to shit. So I missed David Foster Wallace's death. I mean totally.
Last night over dinner I was recommending an essay of his to friends of my mother's who were going to Maine next week. When I borrowed a computer to find and print it, I first came across a eulogy to the man. He hung himself a week ago in Claremont.
I have to state here that I am at best an intermittent fan of his writing. I think his verbosity, occasionally meandering train of thought, and barrage of footnotes have always distracted me from the meat of the stories he tells. Which isn't to say I dislike all his work. His essay on 9/11 remains my favorite piece ever written on the Horror. His Girl With Curious Hair is a fantastic collection of short fiction, "Lyndon" in particular being a personal favorite. But I still have yet to find the meaning of god in Infinite Jest, as many others seem to have, particularly in my writing seminar late in college*. I think it may have had somewhat of a serious impact on my opinion of him, since not long after I began to view him more as
pretentious hipster lit. a Proto-Eggers. and While I wasn't wrong, I was much further from being right. Backlash is backlash and just as stupid as anything that inspires it.
In any case, about two weeks ago I'd downloaded the audio version of his Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, which I'd read very casually years ago but regained an interest in when I saw that John Krasinski from the Office was adapting it for film. I'm curious to see how this project turns out. In any case, I've been listening to it between newscasts and music binges. The thing about audio books is that I rarely get entranced by them like I do actual books. They're more like background music.
In any case, I was enjoying my favorite coffee on the planet yesterday and running a few errands when I had to stop and scribble down a line of his in my pocket notebook. I do this relatively often, and recalling through it later I find lines from movies, notes from news clippings, and pieces of conversation overheard in line at the sandwich shop. But every once in awhile it's something that I just can't shake, and know I'm going to try to steal and use for something else at some point. More often than not, I don't, but it still functions as inspiration.
So, last night, as I read of this author's death, who I've recommended persistently and followed with an interest for the past ten years, I pulled the notebook out and looked down to my half-assed and completely unintentional nod to the man:

"It seems impossible that everybody could really be this bored"

in my clumsy script, written on my knee while crouching on 19th Street yesterday afternoon.
I don't really have much else to say, other than really, go download that 9/11 essay linked above if you've never read it or heard it. It really is an amazing piece of writing. And while I always appreciate it when an author will read their own audio books, I especially enjoy his voice, which has such a genteel quality to it.

P.S. I know the picture above is completely tasteless, but it also cracks me up. As does the Onion headline about NASCAR cancelling the rest of the season in his memory.

*As someone suggested to me the other day, if The Stand is the heavy metal of books, Infinite Jest is the Aja. I know how stupid that sounds, but it made sense in the context it was in. (Yes, I like footnotes, too).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

So this GM employee discount deal... actual employees get like an extra discount, right? It's something that starts to bother me every time I see that commercial. That is all.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Buffalo Carcass, Zakouma National Park, Chad, 2007

I love National Geographic picture of the day.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Attempt made on Ahmad Chalabi's life


Haven't heard from him in awhile. I'm not going to wish this man any specific harm.

that's it.

Secret Weapon!!!

Does this new secret weapons program that Bob Woodward is talking about scare the crap out of anyone else?
"This is very sensitive and very top secret, but there are secret operational capabilities that have been developed by the military to locate, target and kill leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq, insurgent leaders, renegade militia leaders. That is one of the true breakthroughs," Woodward told Pelley.

"But what are we talking about here? It's some kind of surveillance? Some kind of targeted way of taking out just the people that you're looking for?" Pelley asked.

"I'd love to go through the details, but I'm not going to," Woodward replied.... "If you were an al-Qaida leader … and you knew about what they were able to do, you'd get your ass outta town."
ummm, okay. Now I'll sleep okay. Anyway, here's some speculation as to what this might be. Remember that high-powered microwave beam we were supposedly testing in Iraq a few years ago? Or was it this I was thinking of?
anyways, you ask me, I think I know what our new secret weapon is. Hordes and hordes of WHIRLING DERVISHES

James Jean

So, it may seem hard to believe, but I almost never talk about comic books with other people. Well, at the moment I hardly talk with other people to begin with, but more specifically, I don't talk about comics with other people because most of my friends don't read comic books. Come to think of it, most of my friends make fun of me for reading them. Which is fine, a hobby like that is pretty fair game. But then, so are all hobbies.
As a result of this, I don't really bring them up. I barely speak to anyone when I'm in the comic shop. I occasionally read some of the sites, or listen to a podcast, but for the most part my reading of comic books is completely insular. and I'm pretty much okay with that. I like to think it relegates my nerdiness to a covert status. Which believe me, I could use. God help me if I ever find myself in a bar with Patton Oswalt, or something.
Every once in awhile, though, and this is really rare, but every once in awhile I find myself at a party or a bar or something and some drastic and lengthy discussion of comics comes up with people who also find themselves in my boat. What usually results is a stuporous, impassioned argument over some of the stupidest topics imaginable.
Somewhat recently, though, I found myself at a bar in Portland discussing Fables. Fables, even within the comic-reading community, is a pretty divisive book. Lots of people seem to hate the book, especially those who have never read it and never plan to. I was certainly in this category for some time. Then, one day I had $12.95 or so burning a hole in my pocket and so I went out and picked up the first trade paperback, based on the sworn testimony of a podcast I listen to on occasion. It was okay. I said as much. "Keep reading it", a friend of mine emailed me when I asked him about it. "Everyone hates the first story arc, but it gets a hundred times better, I promise".
So, like a goon, I went out and bought the second trade. And to his credit, the second one got much better. And the third. And so on, and so on. In short, the book impressed the hell out of me. And this conversation I was discussing a few minutes ago, that exact same thing happened again. But that's not why I brought this up. But check out that series if you're looking for something to read.
Returning to my point though one of the more ecstatic points made in the aforementioned conversation was that Fables cover artist James Jean is probably the best artist that has ever worked in comics. And I did not dispute this. Because if you've ever seen the exterior of an issue of Fables you'd be inclined to agree*. He has employed a number of methods and techniques to cover a range of topics (and fables) in this job, all while retaining a very distinct style of his own.
It's not that I believe that comic artists aren't talented. I guess I just look at comic art as more utilitarian than say, fine art**. Which would only aid James Jean's case, considering that as a cover artist, he's not really bound by the requirement to tell a story as much as he is to paint a pretty picture. And there are regular comic artists whom I consider "fine" art. Jason Shawn Alexander. Mike Mignola. Jock. Ben Templesmith. Gene Ha (particularly in Top Ten: The Forty Niners). Jae Lee (particularly in The Dark Tower series). Sam Keith (particularly in The Maxx***. Oh shit, and Dave McKean (whose Arkham Asylum work still scares the shit out of me). Alex Maleev. David Mack. Michael Lark. John Cassaday. Alright. Well, the point is, there's a lot of them. But this post is about James Jean.
I just found out that in a few months, Jean will be leaving the series after drawing 81 covers. It's a shame, because I've grown to anticipate the covers just as much as the story. But I guess it was inevitable, with Jean's work growing in profile (gracing the cover of Giant robot last month!) and Fables showing no signs of slowing down. That said, I'll miss his cover work and I hope his art is as universally renowned as it should be. you can see every single Fables cover here.
In any case, you can buy the complete Fables covers here. Or read the book. Because I can assure you, it's totally worth reading.
Also, this is a pretty neat site for finding comic art by artist which I just cound today.

*Which is not to take anything away from interior artist Mark Buckingham, who is also quite talented.

**This is a really stupid statement coming from me, considering that one of my favorite paintings ever was drawn to serve as illustration for a children's book. Come to think of it, most of N.C. Wyeth's most famous paintings come from comissioned illustrations. So I'm a dink, and disregard everything I said. Ever.

I wish it was time for Cheers, but it's not. It's time for vengeance!

I've been thinking about the animated Maxx series, made for MTV in the mid 90s, and how gorgeous that was. It was perfectly animated, and the story actually made me go out and find the comic, and this long after my first era of reading comics and well before my second. I still remember staying up and watching that series, and Liquid Television (remember that show about the dude with the giant head? WTF?) and Space Ghost: Coast 2 Coast. you know what? Screw Adult Swim, I was pretty spoiled with animation in high school. and you know what? The Simpsons didn't even suck yet. What a blessed life I've led.
Anyway, the reason I started this footnote was because just a few weeks ago I was looking at the IMDB page for the series, because I was certain I heard the guy who played the voice of Mr. Gone in some other show. It wasn't him. How could a voice that great not be used more often? That dude should be this generation's Chris Latta or better yet, Frank Welker (The latter being the greatest voice actor EVER. Go ahead, click that link!).
I was sitting around thinking about my old Maxx VHS tape, though, and found out that the series still hasn't officially made it to DVD, which pisses me off. Anyway, just reading through the dialogue page on IMDB reminded me how great this show was:
To be first in the soil, which erupts in the coil, of trees veins and grasses all brought to a boil. Wait, it's different somehow, cause this land isn't mine, and my brain has been freed, I'm not thinking in... poetry stuff.
Man, I shoulda never thrown out all of my old VHS tapes.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Watching the Daily Show tonight (no, I don't go out anymore). and it might be that I've been watching the first season of Deadwood, but hearing Ian McShane narrate ANYTHING, makes me love that guy. Hell, I'm considering going to see Death Race just to see more of him. NICE.

Also, this show has been on point the past two weeks. and I'm usually not a giant fan. I know that Obama staffers watch that. and I hope to god they're smart enough to use some of this. Really.

Ice cream truck being pulled over on a windy woodland road. Yes, the music was still playing.

I circled around and i still couldn't get a decent picture.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I don't even know where to start on this Lieberman speech. I really, really don't.

Do you think Al Gore cringes every time he sees that guy? Do you think they still talk?
I wonder if Gore totally ignores him when they see each other at parties.