Saturday, September 06, 2008

A cross (stitch) to bear

As part of my biggest nerd credentials, I showed off a Super Mario Brothers cross-stitch picture I made for my friend Karyne.

But if you want nerdy, we'll have to go back a little farther to when I was about 8. Having been dragged to stitchery store after stitchery store, I noticed that there were no cross-stitch patterns with a superhero theme.

Clearly this was unacceptable to me, so I decided to do something about it. I begged some graph paper from my mom, sharpened my pencil and set to work.

I wasn't going to draw any actual figures; that wouldn't translate to the blocky cross stitch style very well. But the superhero logos would do just nicely.

I knew Superman would be the focus of the picture, since as we all know, I have been and always shall be a Superman freak. I just drew smaller logos from other heroes around it.

With a little help from my mom on the outline backstitching, it wasn't too long before I had finished it:
Chicks dig cross stitch.

Keeping in mind that I was 8 when I designed this, it's not too bad, I suppose. Clockwise from the top, it's Green Lantern, Aquaman (my redesign, as I considered the other one boring), Wonder Woman, Batman, Flash, Robin, and of course, Superman in the middle.

It's a little uneven in a few places (Batman, particularly), and my redesign of the Aquaman logo--if you mirrored it, it looked vaguely like a squid--still doesn't do anything for me. And the "P" in the text doesn't quite match the rest of the letters.

It's a little dirty now; apparently being kept in a box in the garage all these years wasn't quite the archival system I should have used.

But I still like it, just for the sheer nerd love it represents. Like it wouldn't have been nerdy enough to draw that; no, I had to sketch it on graph paper and then stitch it up.

And the chicks loved it.

Oh, wait. Never mind.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Joker...joker...underwater basket-weaving

It's another hair-raising Friday night here, so that means I've combed through YouTube to find something that really shines.

And how much cooler can you get than the first episode of The Joker's Wild?

My thanks, as always, to the awesome people who take the time to share this content. My hat's off to you.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


I had a big post all ready to go, but then I went to pick up a few things at the store and discovered that Frito-Lay has brought back taco-flavored Doritos.

So I'm rockin' out to a late-night snack. I promise, actual content tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

In fact, I never understand these things I feel


I've wanted to go to visit North Carolina for a number of years now, but in this particular case, I'd give my left nut to be in Chapel Hill on September 18.


Because for the first time in 10 years--for a one-time-only show--Ben Folds Five is performing. Specifically, they're playing The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner in it entirety.

It's the inaugural concert in a new series from MySpace, believe it or not, called Front to Back, in which artists play an important album of theirs from beginning to end.

I miss Ben Folds Five. A lot. Even now, when I see people talk about their BFF, I have to stop for a second and remind myself that it stands for Best Friend Forever.

Alas, short of me winning the lottery, it seems unlikely that I'm going to be able to fly across the country to catch the show.

So I will crank up my CDs and sulk at home, I guess. Bah.

Ben Folds Five

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Look, up in the sky...

Sometimes it seems like there's a book that was written just for me. And while we haven't met, it seems that Brad Meltzer had me in mind with his new novel, which is in stores now, The Book of Lies. What makes me say so? Here's the blurb:
In 1932, Mitchell Siegel was killed by three gunshots to his chest. While mourning, his son dreamed of a bulletproof man and created the world's greatest hero: Superman. And like Cain's murder weapon, the gun used in this unsolved murder has never been found. Until now.

Here's the trailer:

And if you haven't read any of Brad Meltzer's books or comics, here's a brief video that might help you decide:

I'm going to check it out, just based on his previous novels, which I enjoyed. Well, that and the fact that it involves Superman in some capacity. I'm a sucker that way because Superman is important to me.

Yeah, I know people think Superman is corny; that he's a big blue Boy Scout, but to me, especially growing up, he was my hero. I went into more detail in this post. He became even more important to me when my son Harry died at 7 weeks old. On top of everything else Harry had to deal with, he also had what, the doctors informed us, is sometimes called "Superman Syndrome."

So now it might make a little more sense why tonight I'm deviating from the normal retro-themed pop-culture-obsessed blather. There's this project that just kinda hit me in the right way, not just because of its first goal, but because of its mission. It's, well, let me give Mr. Meltzer the floor briefly.

In addition to the launch of, today is the official launch of The Siegel & Shuster Society, with a celebrity charity auction that'll raise money to preserve the home of Jerry Siegel, creator of Superman, along with artist Joe Shuster.

The items up for bids are about eight different kinds of awesome, but if it's not your deal, you can buy a Siegel & Shuster Society T-shirt (designed by the legendary graphic designer Chip Kidd), or you can just make a flat donation to the cause. All proceeds of the auction go to the restoration of the Siegel house.

It would be amazing if someday, I could take my kids and show them the spot where Superman was created. And even barring that, just to show them evidence that indeed, ordinary people can and do change the world.

I'm cynical and pessimistic as a rule, but there's a part of me that embraces the optimism and good will inherent in humanity. That's the part of me that will always like Superman, who does all the great things he does, not because he should, but because he can; he just wants to help.

If you want to help, then by all means, go to, and you can get even more detailed information.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Ridin' the rolly coaster!

What was the first roller coaster you rode? Do you remember?

I was 10 (a late bloomer in my opinion, but I was a short kid), and my parents took my brother and me on a trip to Great America, which at the time, had recently changed from Marriott's Great America to just plain old Great America.

Now I wish I'd have been able to compare that 1985 version to the classic version of my early youth, but since, as I said, I couldn't ride much of anything, everything was fairly new to me, except for The Demon, which I decided I would ride as soon as I was able.

But The Demon wasn't my first coaster. My first coaster was The Whizzer, formerly Willard's Whizzer. It was a fairly pedestrian family coaster with a spiral lift and some nice twists and turns.

I'd have to say that it was the perfect coaster for me to start with; not too scary, not too boring. From there, I went on The Demon and anything else I could legally get on.

Here's a video of The Whizzer at Great America's former sister park in Gurnee, Illinois:

I've been thinking about theme parks, and old-school Great America in particular because I've been writing a story in which a theme park plays a role. But in my not-even-humble opinion, Great America hasn't been a true theme park for years now. Now it's just an amusement park.

Oh sure, there are some great rides, but there was something cool about how you knew where you were based on the names of the rides or the style of decor. I mean, some of the names were cheesy as hell, but at least there was a theme, you know?

Now, it's California's Great America, which to me, sounds a bit odd, but they've got some new stuff planned, and it would be awesome if there was some effort made at some actual theming for the rides since they have to change the names anyway now that they aren't a Paramount park.

What particularly frosts my Popsicle is that my two favorite rides were Loggers Run and Yankee Clipper, only one of which still stands. Back in the day, the rides were like conjoined twins; at a few points, the tracks were close enough to see the other riders. In one spot, you were close enough to fling water at them if you happened to bring a cup with you.

But Yankee Clipper departed this plane a year before Joe DiMaggio so they could put in Stealth, the "flying" roller coaster. Don't get me wrong, Stealth was a cool ride--though my already long wait in line was made longer to rig a camera for some chucklehead from 98 Degrees to get pics taken for Tiger Beat or somesuch and they made me take my glasses off, so I saw a whole crapton of blurry nothing--but after only a few years, they took it out and moved it to another park. My Yankee Clipper had died in vain!

I know, I should just chill. Loggers Run is still there, I know.

But my brother and I had our own little name for the Yankee Clipper; one that I'm not at liberty to divulge, but should I finish and publish this novel I'm working on, you will discover. We had alternate names for most of the rides, as we had a lot of time on our hands with season passes in the summer of 1994. And we were dorks.

Good thing I grew out of that.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

"If we'd have known you was comin', we'd have baked a cake."

To get you prepared for Labor Day hijinks, here's one of my favorite Three Stooges shorts, Cash and Carry.

There are a lot of little moments in this one that just kill me.