Friday, November 25, 2005

Beezus and Ramona, cruisin' through the jungles of Klickitat Street...

Unpacking all the books we have could get to be a full-time job. I'm just about done, but I keep finding cool stuff. It's like being in a bookstore where all the books are about stuff I'm interested in.

Yes, it's been that long since I've had all the books out and accessible.

When I was about 8, I guess, I pestered my parents to take me to a bookstore about a half-hour away because Beverly Cleary was going to be there in person. I had all the Ramona books, as well as the Ralph S. Mouse books. I had "Otis Spofford," too, but I couldn't tell you much about it if you threatened me with bodily harm.

When we got to the store (I think it was called Toad Hall Books, but 8-year-old me didn't keep exact records, you know?), I noticed that there was a line of people that spanned roughly to Zimbabwe.

But so strong was my love for Beverly Cleary's books that I waited in that line. When I finally got to the front of the line, I didn't know what to say -- I'm horribly shy -- so I probably mumbled hello and said that I liked her books a lot.

She thanked me for coming and signed the well-worn copy of "The Mouse and the Motorcycle" I brought with me, and I just thought that was the coolest thing ever. She was the first famous person I'd ever met, and she was really nice.

If my wife and I ever end up having a daughter, the name Ramona is definitely at the top of my list.

And not just because Beezus already got vetoed.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone has a happy day today. I'm getting ready for my yearly intake of dinner rolls and olives.

I don't like turkey, which makes turkey-centric holidays, uh, interesting.

But we have lots to be thankful for, even with the hard year we've had. I'm thankful for my wife, my son, family and friends, and this year, I'm especially thankful for the time we had -- brief though it was -- with our son Harry.

While I would much rather have been able to bring him home with us, at least we all got to be together for a little while.

So if you are partaking of some holiday beverage today, raise a glass for Harry, won't you? I know I will.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Why bits of my childhood seem like a drug-induced haze

I've been organizing all the millions of books in the old Sparkman household, and I came across some old superhero coloring books. I thought, "Hey, this would be cool to write about."

Alas, I've been beaten to the punch by Dave's Long Box, who not only has the same cool DC Super Heroes coloring book, but he got his for a quarter.

Some guys get all the luck.

I've also got a fairly hefty Marvel Super Heroes coloring book. It's no 500-page fun-for-all, but it's got a few adventures of the Incredible Hulk and the Fantastic Four.

I took a look at this book for the first time in a long time, and I'm noticing just how weird it is. First, the cover.

Nothing too odd, but the Hulk's abs are so big that it looks like he has six breasts.

Oh, and he looks like he's in a giant spit bubble or something. What's going on inside?

The planet Big Zero (lots of self-esteem there, I bet) is attacked and destroyed by The Greenies. But there's a survivor who escapes in his 8-track craft, which looks like a giant 8, not an outdated music storage device.

The survivor, 00-6, goes to Earth for help and lands at Indianapolis Speedway.

Meanwhile, Bruce Banner is having a picnic by himself. 00-6 zaps his picnic basket into nothingness (presumably, since he has the 00 prefix, it means he has a license to kill...). Bruce Hulks out, and 00-6 thinks he's another Greenie and attacks him.

Uh, yeah. That's something that you don't hear very often.

They eventually join forces against The Greenies, who look just like Hulk. The Greenies are preparing to suck all the green from the Earth. Don't ask, man, I didn't write it. Oh, here's 00-6 in action:

They eventually win, but at the cost of 00-6's life. Hulk is so distraught that he takes a nap under a tree. The End.

The last two stories feature the Fantastic Four, but the first includes the Human Torch replacement from the 1978 cartoon, Herbie the Robot.

I named my parents' cat Herbie because he, too, is white and annoying.

While the Fantastic Four plans to go on vacation, a villain is planning to defeat them. Which FF villain, you ask? Doctor Doom? Galactus? No.

The Pink Fink.

Nope, not making it up. Check it out.

Even in black and white, that looks bad. Not to spoil the story or anything, but he's beaten in short order and everyone lives happily ever efter, blah, blah, blah...

The third story is the lamest of the bunch and doesn't even have any pictures I feel like scanning in and mocking, so we'll just pretend it didn't happen.

Of course, now every time I'm planning a vacation, I'm going to see this image in my head:

Curse you, Herbie...

Monday, November 21, 2005

I saw him standing there

Meant to post about this earlier, but I'm trying to get over a cold (with little success thus far).

I went with my friend Ken to a concert. I don't get out to concerts that much, especially now that I have a 2-year-old. As it is, I haven't been to that many. I've seen They Might Be Giants, Ben Folds Five, Ben Folds by himself and, uh, Hall and Oates at the Big Fresno Fair a few years ago.

So, imagine my surprise when I ended up seeing Paul McCartney in Sacramento last week.

For those of you who are younger than me, Mr. McCartney was once in a popular band.


Sorry; old joke. I've been listening to the Beatles since I was in utero, and that music has been in my life constantly. My dad used to have me sing the harmonies when we'd sing along to Beatles songs, as well as McCartney's solo stuff.

I complained that doing so was what made my voice so high, but apparently, it was just because I was 6. My voice now, alas, isn't the deep James Earl Jones I wanted, but more of a Jiminy Cricket. It does wonders for your self-esteem when you answer the phone and the caller thinks it's my mom and not me. That's why my wife thinks it's funny that when I answer the phone at home, my voice drops noticeably.

For the first couple of songs, it was just striking me that "I'm seeing Paul McCartney. He's right down there, close enough for me to see without having to look at the big TV screens."

It was a very Beatles-centric setlist, which was kinda cool, as I never thought I'd hear those songs in concert. I loved that a metric buttload of people paid lots of money to fill Arco Arena and, via a giant sound system, listen to a song from "The Music Man."

Here's the setlist:

1. Magical Mystery Tour
2. Flaming Pie
3. Jet
4. I'll Get You
5. Drive My Car
6. Till There Was You
7. Let Me Roll It
8. Got to Get You Into My Life
9. Fine Line
10. Maybe I'm Amazed
11. Long and Winding Road
12. In Spite of All the Danger
13. I Will
14. Jenny Wren
15. For No One
16. Fixing a Hole
17. English Tea
18. I'll Follow the Sun
19. Follow Me
20. Blackbird
21. Eleanor Rigby
22. Too Many People
23. She Came in Through the Bathroom Window
24. Good Day Sunshine
25. Band on the Run
26. Penny Lane
27. I've Got a Feeling
28. Back in the USSR
29. Hey Jude
30. Live and Let Die (complete with fireworks and flames; every time the flames shot out, we could feel the heat)

1st Encore
31. Yesterday
32. Get Back
33. Helter Skelter

2nd Encore
34. Please Please Me
35. Let It Be
36. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)
37. The End

That's a lot of songs. The concert ended at about 11:30 p.m. Now keep in mind, that in general, because when I work, I'm in bed by 8 p.m. and up by about 2 a.m.

After the concert, Ken and I waited in line to buy a T-shirt. Ordinarily, I wouldn't wait in line or pay too much money for a short, but since I doubt I'll have the opportunity to do this again, I figured, why not?

It took us a while to find where we'd parked, partly because we're just like that and partly because they put up barriers after we'd parked and it threw us off. So after midnight, we were on our way to grab some food.

By the time I got back home, it was almost 4 in the morning. Brody woke up crying at 6, but Jen told me to go back to bed. I ended up getting about 3 or 4 hours of sleep, which I think depressed my immune system enough that I got Brody's cold.

But I think it was worth it. Now I just need to catch up on some sleep...

Cat. I'm a kitty cat.

I don't know how I found it before, but I just saw a link to it at No Fancy Name, so I figured I'd share it with you.

It, of course, is the very cool dancing cat video. My son loves cats, so when he saw this, he went nuts.

He started laughing so hard he almost threw up. This is actually something he does fairly often. It's this weird hiccup-burp thing, the sound of which makes him laugh even harder.

I'm warning you -- this will get stuck in your head forever.