Friday, May 31, 2002

The birth of Adam Pearl, son of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and Mariane Pearl, has filled me with intense emotions. It's a most unexpected occurrence, but apparently I'm not alone.

Trying to figure out why the announcement of this new life simultaneously evokes such great hope and great sorrow in me, I remembered the statement Mariane Pearl made shortly after her husband's death was confirmed. The grace, strength and eloquence she exhibited in a few short paragraphs touched me deeply. In 588 words, she spoke volumes about the kind of woman she is, the kind of man her husband must have been, and the kind of man her child will grow up to be.

Have a long, full, excellent life, Adam. Listen to your mother; she's a wise and intelligent person.
Posted @ 2:01 PM

Finally, a who-are-you quiz and the ghosts of my gaming past collide...

What D&D Character Are You?, courtesy ofNeppyMan (e-mail)

I Am A: Chaotic Good Elf Ranger Bard

Alignment: Chaotic Good
Chaotic Good characters are independent types with a strong belief in the value of goodness. They have little use for governments and other forces of order, and will generally do their own things, without heed to such groups.

Race: Elf
Elves are the eldest of all races, although they are generally a bit smaller than humans. They are generally well-cultured, artistic, easy-going, and because of their long lives, unconcerned with day-to-day activities that other races frequently concern themselves with. Elves are, effectively, immortal, although they can be killed. After a thousand years or so, they simply pass on to the next plane of existance.

Primary Class: Ranger
Rangers are the defenders of nature and the elements. They are in tune with the Earth, and work to keep it safe and healthy.

Secondary Class: Bard
Bards are the entertainers. They sing, dance, and play instruments to make other people happy, and, frequently, make money. They also tend to dabble in magic a bit.

Deity: Solonor Thelandria
Solonor Thelandria is the Chaotic Good elven god of archery and the hunt. He is also known as the Keen Eye, the Great Archer, and the Forest Hunter. His followers respect nature, and only hunt when needed, but are quick to defend the forest from intruders. Their favorite weapon is the bow, and they tend to be extremely talented with it. Solonor Thelandria's symbol is an arrow with green fletchings.
Posted @ 12:15 AM

Thursday, May 30, 2002

Wil Wheaton's action figure trilogy comes to an end, with Fight Club references aplenty.
Posted @ 11:17 PM

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

David Gallagher has some nice shots of locations from Spider-Man up at The Flatiron Building I knew on sight, but the rest were mysteries to me until now.

It somehow makes the movie more fun when you know a little bit about the settings, like Blues Brothers and Ferris Bueller's Day Off are to Chicagoans like myself.
Posted @ 1:29 PM

Sunday, May 26, 2002

When I wrote about Elliot S! Maggin's two Superman books on Monday, I'd hoped to be able to link to a couple of sample chapters for each novel. I couldn't find them at the time, but here they are now: several chapters from Last Son of Krypton and the first four chapters of Miracle Monday. Enjoy.

Wil Wheaton's laughfest rolls on.
Posted @ 1:29 PM

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Has enough time passed since the frenzy over Wil Wheaton Dot Net died down? Is it cool to link to one of his posts again?

I hope so, because this one made me bust a gut.
Posted @ 10:45 AM

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

After ten months of blogging, I've finally figured out how to bring folks to this site: write about purple lightsabers. Since first noting my approval of the color of Mace Windu's weapon nearly two weeks ago, traffic to this site has exploded. May is already far and away this site's busiest traffic month ever, and it's on pace to more than double the previous best ever showing, set just last month.

This upsurge can be traced directly to my purple lightsaber post. I've had more hits on that phrase than anything else, surpassing such past favorites as "John Basedow" and "Wil Wheaton's wife," and far outstripping my own name.

I'm not saying it's going to be all purple lightsabers all the time around here from now on, but don't be surprised if the phrase pops up randomly time to time.

... purple lightsaber, purple lightsaber, purple lightsaber, purple lightsaber, purple lightsaber, purple lightsaber... okay, that should do for now.
Posted @ 12:28 AM

Monday, May 20, 2002

Happy Miracle Monday, everybody! Whether you're in the kitchen preparing a traditional Miracle Monday feast, plopped down in front of the tube watching the parades and holiday specials, or heading out to the stores for all the Miracle Monday sales, don't forget to take a brief moment to stop and contemplate the true meaning of Miracle Monday.

Hmmmm... from the puzzled looks I'm seeing on your faces, I'm guessing most of you have no idea what I'm talking about. I'll explain.

Superman: Miracle Monday is a long out-of-print book written by a wonderful author named Elliot S! Maggin. It's one of two original novels he wrote about Superman which were released concurrently with Superman: The Movie and Superman II. The first book, Superman: Last Son of Krypton, is the first book I ever read.

In Miracle Monday, a woman from the far future travels back in time to the late Twentieth Century to unravel the mystery of the titular holiday, which is celebrated on the third Monday in May. It is known that on that first Miracle Monday, Superman saved humanity from an unspeakable fate. The only problem is, no one knows what that fate was or what Supes did to forestall the disaster.*

The story, while most enjoyable, takes a back seat to what Maggin does with the characters of the Superman mythos. In both books, he breathes vitality into them and presents them as believable, three-dimensional people. Clark, Lois, Jimmy, the Kents, Lex Luthor, the whole crew: they're all rendered realistically and with great care.

Best of all, Maggin illuminates the relationship between Superman and Lex better than anyone else ever has (although Smallville comes very, very close). It's the tragic, bittersweet tale of two men who should be the greatest of friends, but are barred from that by the choices they make.

For a taste of what I'm talking about, check out Maggin's unpublished short story, "Luthor's Gift." You'll be glad you did.

Oh, and set a place for the Big Blue Boy Scout at dinner tonight. You never know whose house he'll grace with a Miracle Monday visit.

*To see what the danger was, and how it all turns out, buy one of the used copies available on Amazon. It'll be well worth the couple of bucks you'll shell out.
Posted @ 3:54 PM

Friday, May 17, 2002

A few days ago, it was superheroes illustrating physics. Now, the medium of comic books is being touted as an educational tool.

If such creative methods as these are being used in schools nowadays, maybe it's time for me to dust off those ideas about becoming a teacher. For many years I've said if I did teach, it'd be at either the kindergarten or college level. When I found out how little the business of actually educating students matters in the university setting, I backed off from that dream. I never abandoned the thought of pursuing this goal at the other end of the spectrum, but I didn't act on it either.

Being a teacher, exciting youngsters about information and creativity, these are things I could get behind. And I wouldn't mind being called "Mr. Scheer" by a bunch of five-year-olds, to say nothing of getting to have snack time and recess again after all this time.

Time for me to do a little data mining on this subject. Stay tuned...

As promised, here are the shows I'm glad will be returning next season.

Gilmore Girls: with some of the sharpest dialogue and most fully realized characters on TV today, this would have been a grave loss. I'm glad I won't have to leave Stars Hollow anytime soon.

Ed: despite my fondness for the denizens of Stuckeyville, I've only caught about half the episodes this year (TiVo's no help, as it's up against Enterprise). That means I'll have to catch up during summer reruns to be ready for next season.

Andy Richter Controls the Universe: coming back mid-season next year. Could this mean retooling? I hope not. It's great just as it is.

Next: Fall '02 face-off! Which shows to TiVo, which to watch live, and whether or not I'll need to (gasp!) start using the VCR again.
Posted @ 11:00 AM

Thursday, May 16, 2002

The broadcast networks are revealing their fall schedules this week, and I'm particularly glad to see the backend of two shows that have been culled from the herd.

ABC has finally given Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher its walking papers. I initially found the show's premise intriguing, but it quickly devolved into a train wreck where politicos and pundits tried to be funny while entertainers tried to be serious. Neither group was ever very successful.

James "King of the World" Cameron's Dark Angel was offed by FOX. Having never watched the show, I must admit it's pure vindictiveness that causes my glee about this one. It always struck me as a Buffy-after-the-Apocalypse thing, and ripping off Buffy just irks me.

Next time: "on the bubble" shows that I'm glad survived.

What did we know, and when did we know it? This one bears very close watch. I know I'll be keeping my eye on it.
Posted @ 12:57 PM

Saturday, May 11, 2002

From the AP wire: Professor Uses Comics to Teach Physics.

Why couldn't I have had this guy in college?
Posted @ 12:13 PM

A few months back, my posts here seemed to fall into weekly themes. While this was never planned, the pattern was undeniable. It hasn't happened in a while, but this tendency may be resurfacing. This week's topic: fictional characters who just got cooler in my eyes because they share my predilections.

Enterprise ran two new episodes this past Wednesday, and I watched them with my roomie Hutch on the TiVo the next day. A sub-plot in both eps is the crew's impending shore leave on Risa (a "pleasure planet" first introduced during the enjoyable third season Next Generation romp, "Captain's Holiday") and each time an unexpected mission sidetracks them.

Right before this happens for the first time, Trip (already in the running for my favorite humanoid character) shows up on the bridge ready for some serious R&R. How do we know this? Well, he's not drinking. That's a different chief engineer. No, we know he's all set for a tropical paradise because he's wearing a multi-colored, obnoxious, glorious Hawaiian shirt.

I figure if a guy who wears Hawaiian shirts can make chief engineer on a starship, there's hope for me finding a job yet.

Sadly, I can find no pics of this sartorial wonder online. I'll post one if and when I do.
Posted @ 11:48 AM

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Samuel L. Jackson racked up some more cool points this week (adding to a total currently described by theoretical mathematicians as "friggin' huge") when IMdB revealed his character Mace Windu will be wielding a purple lightsaber in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones at his explicit request. It's the color I, as a prepubescent, always wanted for my own lightsaber, and knowing Mr. Jackson shares my affinity for the royal hue is just pretty damn neat.

Between this and the general impression I'm getting that Lucas may have learned from and corrected his Episode I mistakes, I may actually be getting excited for this movie after all. But it's going to have to really blow me away to surpass the more-than-excellent Spider-Man, which I've already seen twice (and about which I owe my friend Steve a lengthy e-mail; it's on the way, buddy).
Posted @ 1:50 AM

Monday, May 06, 2002

Like many Star Trek fans, I've often contemplated the idea of a mixed-cast Trek movie. Y'know, maybe take Picard and Data from Next Gen, O'Brien and Odo from DS9, the Holodoc and Kim from Voyager and throw them all together on a ship for some cross-series fun. In this interview, the concept is floated past Trek grand poobah Rick Berman, and it turns out he's thought about it some, too.

I think this is the logical evolution of the films, as some folks from Next Gen (most likely the two I name above) refuse to come back or are dropped because of budget-straining salary demands, and people from the other shows look to supplement their convention-appearance income. The experience of seeing the 24th century Trek populace interact would be a great deal of fun, and would reinforce the grand epic scope that helps make the best of these films what they are. I guess we'll see what happens after Trek X bows this Christmas.
Posted @ 11:43 AM

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Since it premiered a few months back, I've been trying to put my finger on why Cartoon Network's Justice League just hasn't grabbed me the way I'd expected it would. After all, JL showrunner Paul Dini was one of the major forces behind the outstanding Batman and Superman cartoons of the 90's, and many of the creators from those two endeavors joined him in creating this one. Despite that, the new cartoon hasn't quite lived up to its promise.

First-time TeeVee columnist Nathan Alderman has been kind enough to figure it out for me. Nice job, rookie. Take a bow.
Posted @ 12:38 AM


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