Friday, April 30, 2004

Oh, I forgot to mention it earlier this week, but I was able to catch HELLBOY last weekend. I'll give it a Big Thumbs Up!

The entire thing certainly remained as loyal to Mike Mignola's wonderful creation as you could possibly want. If you're a fan of the character (as I am) you could not be disappointed. Ron Perlman was wonderful as HB and it was perfect voice casting to have David Hype-Pearce as Abe. As soon as I heard that Perlman was in the lead I immediately realized that he would be perfect in the role. I really hope that the success of this film will mean that we can look forward to a few sequels down the line. The movie was as good as the X-Men film and certainly superior to THE HULK. I don't know if any film, based on a comic character could be as good as either the first BATMAN or SPIDER-MAN films, but it certainly made me a happy camper.

Also, caught a teaser for another film I'm looking forward to seeing. I'd never heard of SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF THE FUTURE until I caught the promo, but now I'm totally psyched. When the first few second of the trailer began I thought that it was either a tribute to the old Fleischer SUPERMAN cartoons (which it somewhat resembles in style, but then again the opening sequence of the animated BATMAN does much the same), or some new Japanamation film. Wow! I was totally blown away and along with a couple of other folks in the theatre actually applauded when the trailer ended. This is going to be either a major box-office hit or a huge bomb, but I'm shelling out my buck either way.
I sent an e-mail to the CEO of Sinclair Broadcast Group (via Common Cause's Action network) regarding their censorship of NIGHTLINE. I was glad to see that Senator John McCain publically called them out on the issue. It's also quite likely that fewer folks would have tuned in (rather than catching Leno or Letteman) to ABC had Sinclair not made this into a political issue. Which of course, they claim is what ABC is doing.

The Washington Post has an article on the whole thing over on their site. It has comments from both sides, but Sinclair doesn't come off looking all that objective anyway. As somebody on Air America said Sinclair is looking to be the new Fox (which as you all know was about the only network which didn't publish the photographs of the U.S. coffins. Nor allow them to be printed in the New York Post (another Murdoch vehicle).
I'm going to admit something that will, I'm sure, annoy and shock some of you. My name is Steve and I'm a cigar smoker. (Hello, Steve!)

Yeah, I know..."It's a disgusting and nasty habit. Don't you know that smoking is bad for you?" All true, I suppose, but then I've never really concerned myself with what others think of me.

I personally enjoy smoking a cigar every so often, a habit I took up after stopping for years. When I first entered the Navy, back in 1969, I would occasionally smoke cigarettes, but since I was never more than a 'social smoker' it wasn't hard to drop. I took up cigar smoking and continued for several years, stopping in the early 1980s.

When I went back in the service in '84, Elayne and I began dating. As she was anti-smoking it just never became an issue, since I only smoked when I was with some of my fellow shipmates in a bar or overseas. I stopped completely once she and I started living together.

It was probably juvenile, but when she and I split I started picking up cigars again, generally buying a pack of Dutch Masters or other machine rolled cigars at the local bodega (which is what most New Yawkers, call those small, corner stores in local neighborhoods). It was only natural, I guess, that I would eventually start hitting some of the specialty stores which sold a higher brand of smokes.

Long story/short, I actually own a small humidor and carry a traveler pouch which holds three-four cigars. I don't smoke in the house, nor in the car, although Donna has never made an issue of it in the house. Even I know that the smell will begin to permeate the place and I'd rather not have it around. I restrict myself to a couple of cigars a week and always outside when the weather permits.

Anyway, I've posted a link to the Internet Cigar Group over on the left. They have tons of information and links to just about everything you could want to know about cigars (smoking, storing and manufacturing), there's even a message board so you can swap stories and hints to new finds with like minded folks.

Feel free to ignore the link, since it's all the way at the bottom. Hope nobody thinks the less of me after this confession, but it feels good to get it off my chest. :-)
Just heard that some ABC affiliates will not be broadcasting tonight's NIGHTLINE. One group, which owns several stations, has called the program 'political in nature' and 'harmful' to the American efforts in Iraq. Bob forbid we don't honor those men & women who have given their lives. What would be non-partisan about that?

Best that we forget that there are actual people behind the casualty figures and just march in step with the President who put his own life on the line back in the Vietnam era. Hey, one of those training flights could have crashed, you know?

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Sorry, I haven't had much chance to post this past week. I've been very busy at work and frankly, with no job offers in hand I'm not in the writing mood. Having already given notice at work (my last day will be 5/28) and told our landlord we'll be out when the lease expires, things are getting pretty tight. Fortunately, we have enough money set aside to cover the move and bills for a couple of months, but then... I know that others are in far worse situations, so I'll try not to feel too sorry for myself.
I first saw this mentioned by Mark Evanier and then got my my TV Barn e-mail which had the story. Nightline on Friday night will consist of photos of the American military men and women who have been killed in Iraq, while Ted Koppel reads their names. Pretty powerful stuff and reminiscent of what some television stations did for those killed on 9/11.

Supporter of the war or not, I think that this is something that all the networks should do. Remind everyone just what the cost of our current foreign policy is, in human terms.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I was deeply saddened to read of the passing of Carrie Nodell, wife of comics great Mart Nodel (artist and creator the Golden Age Green Lantern, and other characters). I had the opportunity to speak to both Nodel's several times while hitting the con circuit with then-wife, Elayne. We had some nice conversations and I always found Carrie to be the nicest of folks. My thoughts and wishes are with Mr. Nodel and his family, on this sad occasion. She will be well remembered by many folks in the industry.

Friday, April 23, 2004

As if I don't waste enough time, I decided to actually vote in this year's WEBBY AWARDS, which means I had to actually check out some sites I've never visited before. It really is amazing at some of the creative and informative stuff out there. I highly recommend that you give some of them a try and certainly take a few minutes to vote for you faves.

I voted for a few I was already familiar with like The Smoking Gun, Live 365 (where I'm hooked on the Old Time Radio stations, especially the episodes of Hopalong Cassidy & Gunsmoke), The Onion (which is fantastic in print & online) and, of course, (without which even we Librarians would be lost).

I also had a chance to sample a number of others, but I'll leave that up to you. The only one that I'll probably be visiting (and using frequently) is, where I ended up spending over an hour jumping from one thing to another. Way cool and certainly got my vote for "Technical Achievement". Steve Bob says check it out!
I've not posted a link to today's New Haven Register, because the paper requires you to get a 'subscription'. Even a free one is a hassle, but I've had one for a few years now.

Anyway, the past couple of days one of the stories (getting placed on the front page yesterday and getting a banner above the headlines today) regards the current storyline in DOONESBURY. The paper has interviewed a few people, including Mort Walker (creater of BEETLE BAILEY) about Trudeau's strip. It seems that many people are disturbed more that the phrase "Son of a bitch" appeared, than the topic of soldiers in Iraq. How sick it that?

As a lapsed Catholic, I'm disturbed by the stories I've been reading today about a Vatican cardinal, all but condemning John Kerry by name. I mean how many other Catholic, pro-choice candidates are running in elections significant enough to catch the eye of the Holy See?

Mark Evanier makes a good point over in his site that you just don't see the church coming down on pro-capital punishment politicians, do you?
Very interesting article in the New York Times about the former Japanese hostages. There is something amazing about the Japanese culture which, even though it considers itself classless, does have a strong sense of what is proper. Unlike any American hostages, who would be treated as 'heroes', or at least victims, upon their release, the Japanese government and regular citizens seem to have nothing but distaste for what they see as the 'trouble and embarrassment' these three (and two other Japanese citizens released earlier) brought on Japan.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Does this grand jury coming out with an indictment of Michael Jackson really affect the case against him? I thought these things were usually done prior to any arrest, rather than after the fact as this seems to have been done. Is this good or bad news for the defense? Also, does this really affect how folks currently stand on the subject?

I found it brilliantly coincidental that last night's SOUTH PARK dealt with MJ moving to that town and how the police were trying to entrap him. Barely a half hour before the show started NBC had a crawl reporting the grand jury decision. As usual with SP the guys push the limits, but do make some good points.
Stephen Cohen has created a fantastic log dedicated to the Library profession. He's got links to events around the country and keeps better tabs on what's going on in my chosen career than I could ever hope to do. I've added the link over on the left, if you have any interest.

I mentioned the latest storyline in DOONESBURY yesterday. There was a short piece on the local news last night talking about the Connecticut company which makes & distributes QUICK-CLOT, which is mentioned in Tuesday's strip. The guy who created it (and I sadly can't recall his name off hand) was also interviewed.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

For some reason I haven't been getting my daily Doonesbury e-mail, so I took Mark Evanier's suggestion to begin reading with the Monday strip up through today. If you have ever been a fan of the strip (and I've been reading it for close to twenty years) you will probably be as shocked as I was by the final panel.

Gary Trudeau has dealt with AIDS, death and other very real concepts in his storylines and this appears to be right up there with some of his most hard-hitting. This is not a laugh-a-day plot, by any means. If you have any affection for his cast of characters you'll be as surprised as I was.
Several papers have articles reporting that both Republican and Democratic members of Congress are hearing a bit of unrest among their constituents, re: the Iraq situation. Naturally, the GOP members (for the most part) are spinning it to show that the President is still getting high marks, but that citizens are beginning to desire some actually goal be set in place. Too many of our troops are being killed and injured, and even steadfast military families are beginning to grumble about their loved ones being 'over there' for extended periods of time.

There are also a few folks in Congress once again talking about the re-instatement of a draft. As someone who was part of the last generation to go through that, I have mixed feelings. Personally, I have nothing against the concept that all American citizens should be eligible for a stint serving the federal government in some capacity. Not everyone would be, nor should be, forced into the military, but working in hospitals, schools, or in the rehabilitation of buildings wouldn't be a bad thing. IMHO, of course.

I'd also want both men and women to be equally part of this, with people allowed to opt out of the military, if they successfully completed a mandatory period working in a civilian occupation for a set period.

This probably won't make me very popular, but it wouldn't be the first time. :-)
Well, you can't always get what you want, as the saying goes. Sadly, someone else will be the Ship's Librarian for SUNY Maritime. I'm disappointed, naturally, but I think that Donna is relieved. It really would have placed a burden on her, so it is probably for the best.

I had planned on starting another blog in which to chronicle the voyage of the good ship Empire State, but I'll have to drop that. What I may do is start a webpage dealing with nautical/naval themes. We'll see how things go and what I actually get around to doing. With my brand new scanner I think I could set up a nice looking page via my AOL account. I'll keep folks posted, if/when I set things up.

Monday, April 19, 2004

I only caught a few minutes of the 60 MINUTES interview with Bob Woodward last night, but this article over at the CBS site covers the highlights. It will be interesting to see how this stuff is spun by the White House, especially the rather damning (IMHO) suggestions that secret plans dealing with the Iraq invasion were shown to the Saudi royal family.

Towards the end of the column make note of what G.W. has to say about his father. I don't want to go all Oedipal on this, but there does seem to be something Freudian about the whole thing, don't you agree?

"‘He is the wrong father to appeal to for advice. The wrong father to go to, to appeal to in terms of strength.’ And then he said, ‘There's a higher Father that I appeal to.’" " Brrr!!

I can only hope that something is made of the prospect that the Saudi's may have something up their sleeve come end of October. Given the known ties between the Bush and Saudi royal families, it give me a bad feeling and I hope that somebody in Congress has the balls to call for an investigation.

Also, I was able to hear the last half hour of John Dean's appearance on C-SPAN Book TV. Like the Woodward and Clarke books, Dean's would be pretty damning if the mainstream media actually began looking into some of the claims made.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Okay, I'm about to say something which will probrably have me labeled a 'dirty old man' or just a 'conservative old fart', but I have to say it anyway.

When did every single college-age gal find it necessary to have some kind of tribal tattoo placed on their lower spine? With warmer weather finally arriving many of the co-eds are now wearing the popular mid-drift revealing tops so it's not like I'm peeking at anything that's not meant to be revealed.

Of course, I'd also like to toss in one of those 'I'd never allow my step-daughter to have one of those!", but Donna and Kristina would just laugh at me anyway. *sigh*

Yeah, well, I'm turning into my Dad, what can I say?
Well, trying to move some boxes and assorted stuff out of our rear hallway the other day, I did something and threw out my back. I have a feeling it was when I tried to (stupidly, as it turns out) open the garage door with one hand while balancing some boxes on one hip. I felt something go and could only hope that it would pass, as it sometimes does. Sadly, I'm now resembling an "S" and can't even stand up straight.

The Good Doctor hooked me up with some anti-inflammatory and pain-killers, so I'm working in a kind of haze (which back in the 70s I probably would have paid good money for). I'm hoping that the drugs, attempting not to aggrevate anything and the new FIRMER mattress (to be delivered later today) will help me out. I have that interview at SUNY on Tuesday and don't want the search committee to think their hiring some 'old man.'

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Due to popular request (my ex, Elayne) I'm going to try to explain the whole "Ship's Librarian" gig.

SUNY Maritime College is one of the few schools where those interested in joining the Merchant Marine can go for training. Each year, as do cadets in the Coast Guard Academy & Annapolis, students take part in an actual deployment, where they can put the skills and knowledge from class into use. Between the sort of On The Job training which this allows, students are also required to take class work. The ship the, T.S. Empire State VI, is actually a floating university.

This year the ship will be leaving for a nine-week 'cruise' to points in the Caribbean and Europe. Since classes are being held it's necessary for the school to supply the students with a complete library (or as complete as it is possible to be given space limitations) for their use. The library will contain print and electronic resources, as well as leisure reading material and information on the various ports to which the ship will sail. SUNY is looking for a librarian willing to take a couple of months out of their life to serve the students.

In one of those coincidences which seem to rule my life, I happen to be in the midst of re-locating to New York, so I've already given notice here at UNH. I'm also, extremely lucky, in having a wife who is willing to let her husband 'go to sea' without her. Promising, of course, to make my way back. :-)

I probably shouldn't jinx myself by talking about the job, but everytime I mention it folks seem fascinated that such a thing as a 'ship's librarian' even exists. I'll keep folks updated and, should I get the post, I have every intention of creating a separate blog/journal to report on my voyage. Hey, Darwin seemed to do alright by it!
Well, at least they didn't ask me the usual, "Why should we hire you?" question which seems to end each and every interview. I mean, what can you say at that point except some trite remark about doing your best, yadda yadda?

Anyway, I'll not know until next week at the earliest whether or not my services are needed in Long Island. In the meantime, I have another interview next Tuesday for a short-time position as Ship's Librarian. Personally, I'd love to be able to take both positions, but that remains to be seen if I'm offered either. *sigh*

I don't think there is anything that I can say about the press conference last night, especially since I was fortunate enough not to get home until it was over. I've only had to suffer through the 'highlights' on the evening and morning news programs, plus some humorous barbs tossed at it by the morning folks on Air America. I'm looking forward to hearing how the Daily Show crew handle it tonight.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Boy, when it rains it pours, huh? I was just gearing up for a job interview tomorrow, when I received a phone call a short time ago regarding another interview. To be honest, it is the second interview which has me the most excited, even though it is a temporary position.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed on both, with hopes that the 'permanent' positon might be interested enough in me that they would wait until mid-July for me to start. Otherwise it really will be a difficult decision to make. (That's assuming that either or both jobs are actually offered to me. :-)

The past Easter weekend was enjoyable and we had a chance to spend it with Donna's family, in Brooklyn.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

I knew about Tony Isabella years before I ever met him, or for that matter even spoke to him over the phone. Back when I was reading comics in the mid-1970s Tony was making his mark at DC and Marvel as a writer and editor. His work back then on titles like BLACK LIGHTNING (which he created), HAWKMAN, GHOST RIDER and others still holds up to re-reading after all these years. Sadly, you have to haunt the used comics boxes at cons to pick them up, since the publishers haven't done anything to keep them in print (even when the characters were once again popular).

In the '80s Tony and I were both contributors/members of the longest running comics APA, Capa-Alpha (known as K-a, to old farts like us). It was during that time that I actually got a chance to meet Tony and learn what a wonderful person he was. Tony is indeed one of the Good Guys and I think that you'll find both his columns and the activity on his message boards worth the time. He is after all THE Tony Isabella! :-)
I mentioned the testimony of Condoleezza Rice earlier and have found some great information over at the Center for American Progress site.

I have to be honest and say that I discovered the link via a posting at Tony Isabella's messageboard. I've been meaning to add a link to it over at the left, but promise to actually do so later tonight.
It really has been a week when I've had nothing to discuss that others (far wiser and better writers) haven't covered.

Frankly, I was sick of the whole Rice appearance days before she finally appeared today. I don't think there were any 'smoking guns' as the news folks have pointed out, except for one memo that may or may not have reached the good doctor's desk. Face it, the committee doesn' t truly want the 'truth' to come out, because it would indeed show that as Richard Clarke pointed out the government did indeed fail to do it's job.

Things do look grim in Iraq and I don't see anything that the current adminstration is doing that will make things better. We do seem at the point where we'll have to go to the U.N. and beg them to get us out of this situation, but I can't see them wanting to get involved at this point. Hell, who can blame them?

The Democratic Party should have a campaign ad where we have Bush talking about how the Iraqi people are better off now, meanwhile showing the destruction of houses, hospitals, schools, etc. that has occured since we invaded.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Nothing whatsoever of import to say, but did want folks to know that I'm still looking for a new position. I have an interview lined up next week at an out-of-state university and have my fingers crossed.

Donna and I attended the wedding of one of my nephews at a wonderful place in New London, CT. The Lighthouse Inn overlooks Long Island Sound, so even on an overcast day there is a nice view from the restaurant. It's always nice to get together with my family, and like many folks I really don't do that often enough.

Of the many nice memories I'll have of this day there was one that stood out. My nephew Teddy, has a son Brandon. Brandon is going on twelve and was not only the ring barer for the ceremony, but also asked to give the toast. You can imagine the reaction when he stood, lifted his water glass and asked us to join him in saluting his father and "my new mom." Yeah...We all felt that way and were glad to have something to sip due to those lumps in our throats. :-)

I think I'm getting sentimental in my old age.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Being as sickened as everyone by the horrible deaths this past week of those four American contractors, I've decided to add Lunaville to my list of links over on the left. They are doing a magnificent job of keeping tabs on those individuals being killed and maimed in Iraq. They also provide links to more newsstories on the situation over there then I could ever hope to read. Hats off to this blog for continuing to point out what the mainstream newspapers have shunted to the backpages (if anywhere at all).