Careful government plans

In an article discussing the FBI surveillance of Martin Luther King (in a desperate and disgusting attempt to find ways to make him look bad, because, you know, civil rights were such a danger to the country), it is revealed that the FBI planned to attack him by sending him a nasty anonymous letter. There’s a draft of it on file – yes, they were carefully drafting this thing – with phrases such as “You are a colossal fraud and an evil, vicious one at that” and “The American public … will know you for what you are — an evil, abnormal beast,” and “Satan could not do more.”

In other words, the full force of the FBI hatched a scheme that would normally require two stoned 14 year olds and a hotmail account. Incompetency and evil do not mix well.

Published in: on March 31, 2008 at 7:50 pm  Comments (1)  

Bob Kane passes away again

Mark Evanier is reporting that Jim Mooney has passed away. Jim was a talented artist – not flashy, but had a style that brought a level of softness and humanity to characters that is rarely found in the work of others. He was the artist on Omega the Unknown, a book hit me at a vital time and meant a lot with me, and had a lot to do with my becoming a comics creator. (That book was co-written by Steve Gerber, who passed away a few weeks back; it makes me want to call the other co-writer, Mary Skrenes, and make sure she has a health check-up.)

Jim lived a long life, so this is not a tragedy – but even as someone who only briefly met the man, it’s worth taking a moment to remember his fine comics.

Published in: on March 31, 2008 at 2:56 pm  Comments (4)  

Even frost giants get the odds

With the in-laws in town, there’s been some time when Mrs. Nat’s TV, the wee one, and the in-laws have all gone out, leaving me alone. The opportunity to lay on the couch and actually just read a book in the quiet comfort of my own home, that couldn’t be passed up. I may only have had time for a short book – there is much to be done – but it was lovely.

It helped, of course, that it was a good book. Odd and the Frost Giants is a juvenile from Neil Gaiman, created for World Book Day (a holiday not celebrated in the U.S., which I sure thought was part of the world — it involves publishers offering up interesting new books for youth for a low price.) Now, Neil is quite a capable storyteller, but the best of his book-length prose works so far was Coraline, another juvenile, so don’t let that descriptor put you off.

When the crippled son of a dead viking rescues a stuck bear, you’re likely to end up either with a very short story or a very big heroic adventure, and luckily for the reader, Neil chose the latter course. Neil is in comfortable territory for him, dealing with the often human-seeming foibles of supernatural beings (realms he has mined in much of his book-length prose and more than a little of his comics work), and he brings his key strengths – most notably, a sense that there is a logical structure to the worlds he depicts. The gods of mythology have clear emotional logic – they want things, and they do things to get what they want, and like most of us, their efforts can be understood by understanding what they want. Far too often in fantasy, particularly for the younger set, such concerns seem to be sloughed off. And in this case, the hero’s success (and it’s not really giving away anything to say that he has success – this is, after all, a juvenile adventure book) comes because he bothers understanding that these are beings who want something and bothers figuring out what they want.

It’s not a perfect book, there are one or two little missteps – there’s an unconvincing use of science (not in a “science doesn’t work that way” aspect, but in an “I don’t believe he would’ve known how to do that” sense), but they are not at crucial moments and are not crucial failures. Still, it’s one worth the reading time. It’s certainly worth the small amount of money the book sells for in the UK, it was worth the bigger-but-not-extravagant amount that it cost me to get it (the edition intended for this country won’t come out until October), and it will likely be worth your time to read it. (Or, if Neil is good enough to record this one, to listen to it; Neil is probably the best author I’ve heard when it comes to reading one’s own work for an audiobook.)

I followed up reading the book by watching Stardust last night, the rollicking film adaptation of the best of Neil’s not-intended-as-a-juvenile books. I’d seen it in the theater – something which is unfortunately true for far too few – but this fun film was well worth watching again, and was enjoyed by Mrs. Nat’s TV as well. And it is so good to see that people have not given up on Peter O’Toole; as a person likely near the end of his run but playing a man who still has strong character near the end of his run, he does quite well.

Published in: on March 30, 2008 at 8:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

One for the in-laws

For what I think is the first time, I’m crafting a meatloaf that is for more than just the immediate family. Sharing the eating of this meal will be my in-laws, Allison’s Papa Bill and Gramma Chrissy.

Not doing much different with this one. I’m sticking mostly with tried-but-true ingredients:

  • 20 oz of ground turkey
  • lots of jasmine rice
  • more raisins that I probably should’ve included
  • raisin bran, probably not needed
  • sweet corn
  • taco seasoning (taken from a taco kit – when we have tacos, we only really need the shells, because we use a vegan taco mix that includes the seasoning, but often the kit is the cheapest way to the shells)
  • taco sauce (ditto)
  • spaghetti sauce (on top)

First time ingredients:

  • soy sauce (just a few packets, swiped from friends who are given way too much when they get take-out sushi)
  • crunchy chinese noodles, crushed (well, crumbled)
  • 10 oz ground sirloin

It’s in the oven now. I’ll let you know if everyone survives.


Added later: turned out to be one of the most successful attempts. Most of it was eaten, and everyone has survived!

Published in: on March 30, 2008 at 7:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sound attempt

In 1860, a French scientist created the first known voice recording. Only problem is, he had no way to play it back.

It’s kind of like writing something before you learn to read.

Published in: on March 28, 2008 at 1:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Nat solves all the world's major problems – installment 1 of presumably many

Time to solve the fuel problem.

I read an article earlier today that said that we can save gas by slowing down — that over the speed of 60 MPH, every additional 10 MPG deducts 4 from our MPG, and that holds surprisingly true as a constant. So, they would have as go slower to save small amounts of gas.

But – now stay with me here – what if we went the other way. The car I drive gets around 30 miles per gallon at 60 MPH. What if I were to drive it at 140 MPH? I’d be going 80 – that’s 8 tens – MPH over 60, which means I’d drive my MPG down by 8-times-4, which is 32. Subtract that from the 30 MPG that I usually get, that means I’d be getting negative two miles per gallon. Now, negative 2 doesn’t sound like very much, but if I were to drive for an hour at that speed, I’d have gone 140 miles, which means that I would have used negative 70 gallons of gas. That’s right, my car would have generated 70 gallons of gas.

Now doing this would be dangerous, of course. My gas tank won’t hold 70 gallons. It holds about 10, which means that it would fill up in 20 miles, and beyond that I would be spilling gas all over the road. But if I cut down to 130 mph for 20 miles, I’d use up those 10 gallons again. So the practical and safe thing to do is to alternate between going 140 MPH for a fixed distance, and then covering that same distance again at 130.

Really, given the purity of this math, I don’t see how we can not adopt this as a standard policy.

Published in: on March 28, 2008 at 1:37 am  Comments (1)  

Rob Thomas, Reviver

Rob Thomas has another pilot in production, this one the Americanization of a New Zealand comedy. Which, when added to the Beverly Hills 90210 – 2009 thingy and the revival of his own Cupid, means he has three in the hopper… not one of them a new concept.

Published in: on March 26, 2008 at 9:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Miss Match

Miss Match is about an endearing but not overwhelmingly competent high school guidance counselor who is enamored with an overwhelmingly incompetent Spanish teacher. This tries to walk a tricky line, getting us involved in and at some level rooting for folks whose presence is destructive to others. And they got Todd Holland to steer this – with his experience on Malcolm in the Middle, he should be a good candidate to pull it off.

But, well, he doesn’t achieve it. With Malcolm, we were only rooting for our stars when they were more victims than victimizer. Otherwise, we were merely being amused by the style of their destructiveness.

(And no, rooting for the leads is not an inherent requirement in a comedy. At best, we’re rooting for one of the titular two-and-a-half men. But that’s a comedy of justice. They generally get what they deserve. On Miss Match, folks win, and we’re apparently supposed to enjoy that. Yes, we recognize it’s wrong on a level of irony, and they know it…. but whatever the intent, it still doesn’t add up to much.)

Published in: on March 22, 2008 at 10:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Another headline needing fine-tuning

Currently on CNN.com’s RSS feed of headlines: Ex-’70s radical free for 5 days on clerical error

As opposed to being a current ’70s radical, I suppose?

Published in: on March 22, 2008 at 9:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Matters of perspective

One source is telling us that the audiences did not return after the strike, judging from how the ratings on Monday’s returning sitcoms were steeply down from a year ago. Another source claims that the audience is returning in droves, since Monday’s returning sitcoms had their best ratings of the season.

Well, I watched most of those returning sitcoms. And the main thing that I have to say is — awww, that was the worst episode of the often-excellent How I Met Your Mother to date… and I suspect the writer’s strike is to blame. (SPOILERS AHEAD) The show focused on Ted acting like an ass in totally out-of character fashion, so that he could have a revelation that he’s been acting like an ass and thus start to turn his life around. This all might have made some sense if he spent several episodes spiraling downward or something, and perhaps that was the plan before the strike shortened the season. But even if we accept his actions of the episode, the lesson would be “don’t act like you did last night”, which would mean, well, acting the way he acts when in character. Painful all along the way. Ah, well. I suspect they’re getting ready to possibly tie the series up this season with the titular event, if they don’t get picked up (which is not a definite thing either way, although I suspect the killing of pilot season will make a pick-up more likely.)

Published in: on March 19, 2008 at 11:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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