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    Sunday, February 26, 2006

    RIP: Darren McGavin

    William Lyle Richardson (May 7, 1922 - February 25, 2006)

    Tuesday, February 21, 2006

    Her Majesty’s Ravens

    Recently the Ravens of The Tower of London have been moved indoors to protect them from the spreading avian flu."As every school child knows, there have been ravens at the Tower of London since time immemorial, and if they ever leave, the monarchy and the tower itself will fall." From the Guardian article about the legend. The current roster of Ravens are Branwen, Hugin, Munin, Gwyllum, Thor and Baldric.
    Saturday Evening Post article about the Ravens from 1993

    Monday, February 20, 2006

    Hunter Stockton Thompson

    "No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun—for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax—This won't hurt."

    It's the first Anniversary of his death. Drink it, smoke it, shoot it, ingesst it, snort it, huff it, then let it find your brain. When it does, look around yourself and write 250 of the most honest words you've ever written about your surroundings. Then leave it somewhere for someone else to find.

    Presidents' Day

    It's Presidents' Day.
    Alright everyone, time to pucker up and give thanks.

    Childhood Museum

    Here is an interesting flickr photoset of a childhood museum contained in a Skippy peanut butter jar that was bought at a garage sale for $1. It's given more care in it's new owner's hands than it was in the hands of the person's actual relatives. This is very much a generational thing. My father has a tin containing this sort of stuff, but it is from more of his adulthood than his childhood and I can't imagine selling it for a dollar when he is gone.

    On the subject of museums of all shapes and sizes, here are a few more that are of odd interest and beauty. Some of these started as a "cabinet of curiosities" which was the rave for a while as a past time of the rich and eccentric.

    The House On The Rock
    The Museum of Juriasic Technology
    The King's Kunstkammer
    Gordon Rutter
    Everyone should go out and buy s nice armoire with shelves and hundreds of drawers and start your own cabinet of curiosities. Place it in the study where you and friends can marvel over its contents with cognac and brandy and warm yourselves with a fire.

    Sunday, February 19, 2006

    New Stuff...For Now

    New GBH and TLG for at least the next fifteen days excluding weekends. Giant Cowboy Chicken still seems to be on vacation. Find em' if can. Don't blame me for the TLG, you try finding a rhyme for Malaysia.

    Saturday, February 18, 2006

    Brain Gas about snow

    It’s snowing here, as I am sure that it is in Knoxville. This time it’s sticking immediately to everything. It’s nice to be up here for this. The last storm had me holed-up in Knoxville as 10” made the cabin unreachable. As much snow as I’ve seen in my life in TN, I’ll never forget the snows in NY. The instant you woke up you could almost guess the depth of the snow outside by the level of sound coming into your apartment. I remember a few times where I awoke to utter silence. Luckily, silence and me get along just fine. However, I knew a number of people in NY that could not stand the lack of sound. To them, silence was the most frightening thing they could think of. To me, an 8”+ snow in NY was the most amazing thing I’d ever witnessed with the exception of the Aurora in Iceland. To see such an active and cacophonous city brought to utter silence, even for an hour or so, is simply unimaginably beautiful to me. Of course, this wears off when you have to pay for this beauty with three days of grey water slush infesting the streets and the almost abrupt reinstatement of sound back into your brain.

    But for those few moments, I understood that magic could exist even in such a turbulent and complicated place as Manhattan. It was also one of the few times you could walk the sidewalks and not see a single person or sign of life for blocks on end. I used to imagine in these times that Manhattan was all mine, and it felt wonderful. I imagined hiking to the New York Public Library and sitting reading for days on end in front of a fireplace, guarded by the lions out front from whatever might lie in that silence with me. Of course this would be a perfect place where the electricity never went out and there was always something to eat. It was as though I went out of phase with everyone, living in a half place between reality and fantasy. Then again that’s precisely where I think I live half of the time anyway.

    Thursday, February 16, 2006

    John Kricfalusi "blogger"

    The single most important thing to happen to the blog community has occurred. John Kricfalusi has started a blog. It would seem he thought that people had forgotten him. How very wrong he was. Just incase you've had your head burried in the mud for twenty years, he created Ren and Stimpy.

    Oh, and here are Warren Ellis and Joss Whedon poking each other with verbal sticks.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    A Short Valentine Poem

    Pardon me there darling,
    But might I have it back?
    You took it without asking,
    You truly have the knack.
    So please put down the razor,
    Quit cutting me apart.
    And if you do not mind please,
    Do give me back my heart.

    Happy Lupercalia

    You Bastards! Well, actually it's tomorrow, but I thought I'd get it off my chest today.

    Monday, February 13, 2006


    So while greater Knoxville got nothing but a snow flurry tease, the Sevierville area evidently got the snow. I’m stuck in Knoxville at least until tomorrow when it’s in the 50s and I can go back up. The main roads leading to the cabin are fine; it’s just the gravel roads that you traverse once you leave the main roads that are a problem. There is evidently ten inches of snow on the ground and the roads are quite steep. The one down to our cabin is a 45% grade or greater. It would be here of course where my little Camry would go into a death slide and either make me run into the cabin at the bottom of this little bit of steepness, or careen over the edge and eventually make it to our cabin if it were not for the density of the trees there. Oh well, nothing to do but drink.

    Thursday, February 09, 2006

    Flotsam and jetsam

    Hopefully the accumulated snow around the cabin will keep the impending fire bombs from breaking through as I extend to you an article by Christopher Hitchens which I mostly agree with.

    Also, am I the only one who thought Bernice King's eulogy of her mother was a little deplorable? She reduced her mother's ovarian cancer and death by complications from pneumonia to a vulgar augury. It would seem her mother is nothing more than leaves at the bottom of a glass of Greek Tea, to be cleaved and spread for the purposes of divination in an effort to expound on the current state of geopolitical idiocy. Evidently her mother's death was a message from God. I think the only message from God is a question: Why did you move your mother to a disreputable Mexican alternative medicine clinic to let her die four days after arriving? Oh yeah, like you said, God told you to do that too so you could compare alternative medicine with the alternative form of nonviolence created by your father. Anybody have some straws?

    Rant over now. Back to work.

    Night and Day

    Monday, February 06, 2006


    Things are going to probably be slow around here for a bit. I'm running out of time and am going to try and put all available energies into the thing I'm working on right now. I need your patience and forgiveness for the coming week. This includes the one panels. They are more draining than they seem. They're getting stale anyway. Maybe if I let them sit they'll moisten in the air and not just dry out.

    Keep checking back though, you never know.

    Sorry Breena.

    Sunday, February 05, 2006

    RIP - Al Lewis

    (April 30, 1910 – February 3, 2006)

    Stop pretending like you don't care.

    Saturday, February 04, 2006

    Schlumbergera bridgessii

    The elusive blooms of the Christmas Cactus. It would seem the other two plants have decided that it simply isn’t worth it while this one has decided to show off with 2 blooms and 4 burgeoning buds. I have no idea why I’m posting this other than the fact that people who have these kinds of plants do not always get rewarded with flowers.


    With his latest novel COMPANY, Max Barry once again takes aim at the corporate environment with razor sharp wit and his sly, almost absurdist, satirical voice. His writing often feels very similar to Douglas Coupland who shared many of his views of corporate culture in his wonderful novel MICROSERFS. Most of us have been there before, in the banal cattle farm that is the world of cubical culture. For those who have not and cannot understand what your friends are talking about should read these two books. They’re sort of DILBERT for adults.

    The book has many surprising and often funny twists and turns as its protagonist, Stephen Jones, slowly uncovers the truth about the new company he is working for. Zephyr Holdings is like many large companies. Each department is its own serfdom and Senior Management rules all with its hidden hand of authority. What is always surprising to me about Max Berry’s books is that through all this satire and absurdity, his characters still feel real and you often find yourselves rooting for them and languishing with them in their ethical dilemmas. His last book, JENNIFER GOVERNMENT, had a similar feel, but was more concerned with the lengths that corporate marketers will often go to, to get their product to rise above the flotsam and jetsam of the consumer feeding tough.

    This wasn’t the easiest book for Barry to write. I’ve been waiting almost two years for it to come out. It would seem that getting this close and remaining true to his goal was quite difficult this time around and many rounds with his editor delayed the book many years. I personally am glad he waited. It isn’t easy to find compassion and truth buried in these types of cultures. Obviously this is the story of the worker and not the corporation. But, there were many places he could have misstep and I have no doubt that he did many times before pulling together this novel. I would love to point to one of the articles or blog threads where he discussed this, but with the publication of his book they seem to hiding.

    I also believe that if you are one of those management types that enjoys reading books about how to manage people, most likely because you never really worked up to that position but just sort of ended up there, you should read this book instead. Of course I don’t think there are any of those sorts of people who visit my little island here, but you never know, they could click over from reading some poor employees blog before sacking them and wonder to the “next blog” feature and end up on mine. I’ve found in the few large companies that I have worked in that the managers forget, if they ever had the knowledge in the first place, what it was like to be a low rung employee as soon as their ass hits their new comfortable chair. Funny that the higher you get in an organization the more comfortable your chair gets. It’s just like in churches where the worshippers sit on slightly cushioned slabs of hard wood while the preacher and adjunct ministers have nice comfortable seats up on the Dias. Odd, that analogy.

    As soon as this one comes out in paperback, I will immediately begin spreading it around like a virus.

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    Squirrel Frankenstein

    Alright, somebody has to stop this son-of-a-bitch. For everyone I kill he sells a kit to revive it on e-bay. Of course I haven't killed any yet, but that isn't the point. I brought the BB gun up and shot one in the ass with a single pump at like 50 ft. the other day. I don't think he noticed, but it made me feel better and kept me from crying over his corpse. Yes, it was Mr. Nibbles. I don't think even that taught him anything.

    Telegram Dead

    Telegram dead STOP Died 8 days ago STOP Sorry it took so long for you to find out STOP Next to die, the hand written letter STOP No more jobs for Madonna STOP It just stopped stopping STOP

    [Editor's Note: I kind of whished I'd gotten one of these before it went.]

    Human Profiles

    I just finished reading one of the best pieces of profile writing I've read in a long time. It's about The Great Zucchini, a preschool entertainer in the Washington DC area. It's in The Washington Post online edition, you shouldn't have to subscribe, I didn't but may have an old subscription cookie lying about in my safari, but if you do, use Bug Me Not. Read the whole thing. It's long but well worth it. It must be my day for human profiles since I woke today and watched Joe Gould's Secret again on IFC. I love this film and am a bit saddened with myself that I've never read the book. Anyway, back to the article. It's a wonderful surprise filled portrait of a man that is so unexpected it will completely hook you. It's rare these days that simple profile writing captures so much humanity with such lyrical beauty. Do yourself a favor and take 10 minutes; you might just learn something about yourself.

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006


    Stephen King’s latest effort is CELL. It’s written as homage in a lot of ways, and even dedicated, two of his inspirations, namely Richard Matheson and George Romero. The story itself is many things. It is a zombie story, combined with a warning about technology. Or maybe it isn’t really a warning as much as a contrivance to hook the reader. It is a story of survival and human perseverance, or stubbornness, to never let the evil, no matter how mundane or frightening, to win. It is a road movie, where the journey is actual and not just metaphorical. It is also an experiment in tension and relentless pursuit. Most of all, as many of his recent stories have been, it is a story of what makes us human and more importantly the passions that drive us to be more than we are.

    There are many shades of his previous work here. There are ghosts of THE LONGEST WALK, and most obviously THE STAND. There is an offhand reference to THE DARK TOWER series, though this book is out of that context and belies no “slippage.” The reference is in the main protagonists comic book work. I also felt tinges of THE TOMMYKNOCKERS, with the evolution take on the part of the zombies. Unfortunately none of the scenes are as powerfully eerie as the Holland Tunnel scene in THE STAND, and sometimes not as suspense filled as say an actual zombie movie, but they aren’t bad either. In many ways this is vintage 70s and 80s King with a little more humanity in it. The story is more about adults now and family. Although, he just as easily could have followed a group of kids through this if it weren’t for the fact that every kid has a cell phone these days. It definitely isn’t his best book, but seems to be along par with the little bits of fun sorbet he used to put out between each major novel. It reads like FROM A BUICK 8, but I can’t say exactly how. It’s a more minimal writing style that seems to crop up on occasion. THE CALORADO KID felt this way too.

    There are of course the little character nuances that King does so well, but which I find sometimes a bit overwhelmingly trite more and more these days. It’s a way to hook the reader by giving each character something that helps you understand what their going through. It isn’t used as much here as it has been in the past. A gnawing rat that keeps worming through his brain “biting” on occasion personifies the protagonist’s memory of his son and wife, although the rat metaphor goes away after about 200 pages. There is the young girl’s talisman of a baby’s shoe that she pours all of her emotion into so that when it goes missing, she falls apart. One of King’s weaknesses in my mind is his sometime overuse of these during a story, but that may just be me. It’s like the Pinocchio metaphor in Stephen Spielberg’s AI, where you finally just want to shout, “I get it, I’m not an idiot.” There is also the sacrificial character that he makes you like and then kills off to make you wince. I never really got to know the characters that well to really care as strongly for them as I did in say THE TALISMAN with Wolf, or the deaf kid in THE STAND. The death of this character is more just a pointed way of showing how people, even the ones still surviving, are just people, which means they’re just spiteful and cruel sometimes, and maybe not so different than the monsters are.

    He hits most of the Zombie conventions, at least at the beginning, like people trapped in a house with Zombies all around, and even the gore of them tearing people apart. He keeps the uncertainty going rather well, but it gets a bit more muddled once the Zombies begin to evolve. Since they’re not really Zombies of the b-movies, he has interesting scenes where they eat vegetables, as though to say, “See, my zombies are not your zombies. I made them up myself.” His Zombies also come out in the day and “sleep” at night. This does add a nice counterpoint so that the survivors of the PULSE must travel at night and sleep during the day. Of course in a real Zombie scenario, sleep should be more difficult to come by. Like all good Zombie movies, it ends with little resolution as to the state of the world.

    In the end we never really know where the PULSE comes from that turns those who hear it into mindless “wiped” creatures of base needs. In some ways I like this and in other ways I don’t. I think in the end, coming up with a reasonable explanation of who or what set things in motion would have been too difficult, so in that way I appreciate him not reverting to giant spiders. It did remind me though, and I needed it right now, that you don’t have to explain everything as long as the story you’re telling is really a humanistic story in the end. He does explain what it does to them, which was an idea I could accept and which I’ve discussed in ways with people before, so it isn’t too far fetched. But in the end we don’t find out what they’re final purpose is. They become an over mind yes, but to what ends? It really screams for about 150 more pages, and not all of them at the end.

    All in all I’d wait until this one hits the remainder shelves, you know there will be plenty left over. The reason I say wait for the remainder is that you can then pick it up at $5.00 and not $9.99 when it will inevitably come out in the new paperback like THE WOLVES OF CALA just did. It’s a good summer beach read but little more. I’m not sure there is really even enough classic Zombie material here to entertain the Zombie fan, but they are usually easily satisfied as long as something is eating flesh. I really think this one goes in the pile of books I’ve read recently including Michael Chriton’s PREY that are little more than movie treatments. Then again I wouldn’t buy most of the stuff that goes on in this book if it made it to the big screen. Levitating Zombies anyone?