Friday, August 31, 2007

Breastfeeding: Political roadkill

It drives me insane whenever I hear otherwise well-educated people complain about "pressure to breastfeed" and "La Leche League Nazis," grousing how all that political pressure on new mothers to nurse their babies A) makes them feel bad and B) isn't really any healthier than formula. Well, that "B" answer, popularized by formula companies, is utter bullshit. And the "A" answer, well, tough. But if there's any question on where the real political power lies, consider this:
In an attempt to raise the nation's historically low rate of breast-feeding, federal health officials commissioned an attention-grabbing advertising campaign a few years ago to convince mothers that their babies faced real health risks if they did not breast-feed. It featured striking photos of insulin syringes and asthma inhalers topped with rubber nipples.

Plans to run these blunt ads infuriated the politically powerful infant formula industry, which hired a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former top regulatory official to lobby the Health and Human Services Department. Not long afterward, department political appointees toned down the campaign.

I am shocked--SHOCKED!--to find political pandering going on in this administration!
The formula industry's intervention -- which did not block the ads but helped change their content -- is being scrutinized by Congress in the wake of last month's testimony by former surgeon general Richard H. Carmona that the Bush administration repeatedly allowed political considerations to interfere with his efforts to promote public health.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman's Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is investigating allegations from former officials that Carmona was blocked from participating in the breast-feeding advocacy effort and that those designing the ad campaign were overruled by superiors at the formula industry's insistence.

Man, I hope Waxman nails these bastards to the wall by their latex nipples. If you want to learn more about the sorry state of affairs in the U.S. regarding formula and breastfeeding, check out Milk, Money and Madness by Naomi Baumslag and Dia L. Michels. It's disturbing and eye-opening, and puts the above mess in context.

Now Playing: Jerry Jeff Walker Viva Terlingua!

Friday Night Videos

I grew up in a small Texas town with a tiny radio station that played both kinds of music: Country and western. So that's the music I grew up with. I have a deep appreciation for Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Bob Wills and Hank Williams that's never gone away. Jerry Jeff Walker's playing right now. But almost without exception, Nashville never got the whole concept of videos. And by that I mean C&W videos suck. Really, really suck. Suck so much that the Nashville Network stopped showing them all together, changed its name to Spike and now has a programming slate filled with Ultimate Fighting and Star Trek reruns. But every so often a country act rose above the morass and realized you could have fun with the format. Case in point: Carlene Carter, daughter of June Carter Cash. With a knack for catchy songwriting and a confident, shameless stage presence, she turned out some trippy, fun videos like this one for "Every Little Thing."

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Squeeze

Now Playing: Jerry Jeff Walker Viva Terlingua!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Just like drinking boiling oil. Only slightly less viscous.

Since I labeled and put up all those bottles of Thorn in My Hive the other day (which I've pretty much decided will henceforth be designated as a "dessert wine." Seriously, it's that sweet) I turned my idle mind toward the remaining bottles of fermented honey stacked up in my office. The spicy, jalapeño metheglin caught my attention (actually, it throttled the mint and shouted "Me! Me!"). Here's the result.


As I've said before, this stuff starts out sweet, but that's merely a Trojan horse. Once it gets past the lips and tongue, just as you're swallowing and it's too late to do anything else, one heck of an afterburn kicks in. And it's not the warm, rounded burn of cooked jalapeño either--the is the razor-sharp crispness of the raw chili peppers. I've eaten hotter salsa happily, but the incongruity of this mead leads me to think it won't be a huge hit with the wine and cheese crowd. I suspect it'll make an awesome cooking wine, though, and have some wild duck in the freezer I hope to marinate with this Liquid Heat in the near future. Will keep everyone posted.

Now Playing: Pat Benatar Best Shots

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Chupacabra archives

Ah, now I understand why I missed this on the initial go-round: The story ran back when we were leaving for St. Louis. So now I'll rectify that tragic oversight on my part by directing your attention to a story with some great tidbits:
Canion said the animal has been lurking around the ranch for years, first snatching cats, and then chickens right through a wire cage.

"(It) opened it, reached in, pulled the chicken head out, sucked all the blood out of the chicken, left the chicken in the cage," Canion said.

At least two dozen chickens were sucked dry, with the meat left on the bone.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Ain't Texas great?

Now Playing: The Eurythmics Greatest Hits

Son of zombie chupacabra!

I blame it on Bat Boy. With the Weekly World News having breathed its last, the universe was compelled to fill the void created by the departure of Bat Boy news. Nature abhors a vacuum, so it goes, and apparently our old pal zombie chupacabra has stepped up to the plate in this time of need.

It's been some time since our necrotic canine friend has graced this blog, so let us recap: Zombie chupacabra made its first appearance July of 2004, whereupon it was promptly shot dead, attracting the attention of Whitley Strieber and the MUFON network. But being shot, as all horror movie fans know, isn't anything that will keep a good undead monster down, so we had the sequel that following October, this time with lots of gory pictures. Shortly thereafter, my blog traffic went through the roof, only dropping off when I switched ISPs a year ago and the posted photos became broken links (I've since reposted the images. Now, if only some of those teeming hordes would buy my book while they're here...).


Zombie chupacabra made its triumphant return in July, appearing this time in Cuero, Texas, a town I know very well since my grandmother lives there. In proper zombie chupacabra fashion, this encounter ended once again with the animal dead (or so we think...) but for once the story doesn't end there.
The mystery animal recently killed in DeWitt County is now immortalized on a T-shirt that is flying off the shelves at Phylis Canion's Cuero store. Canion discovered the corpse on her property last month and sent a tissue sample off for DNA testing to determine exactly what the animal is.

Her brother-in-law, David Boyd of Goliad, convinced her she should do a T-shirt.

"At first I said, 'No way,'" Canion said. "Then I was just going to do them for the family. Well, our staff wore them in the store Monday and everyone who came in wanted one."

Canion received 75 shirts on Friday and has already had to reorder.

"We think the shirt turned out great. It has been so popular, and most people don't even know we have them yet," she said.

Chupacabra shirts! Zombie chupacabra shirts for everyone! You know, things like this are what makes America great. Bat Boy spent years roaming around the mountains of Afghanistan and never was able to find Bin Laden, but maybe, just maybe, a pack of zombie chupacabras turned loose in the poppy fields could do the trick.

Now Playing: The Eurythmics Greatest Hits

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


So the Astros fire manager Phil Garner and GM Tim Purpura yesterday, the fallout from a season that hasn't seen the team within sniffing distance of .500 since the first month of the season. And by "Astros" I mean owner Drayton McLane. I've had dealings with McLane in the past, and can honestly say that he's a better owner than the late John McMullen. Houston fans with long memories will understand why that's not a ringing endorsement.

I feel bad about Phil Garner being shown the door. He's always been a capable guy, and the worst sin of his I can remember is sticking with closer Brad Lidge one pitch too long in the NLCS against St. Louis (yes, last year's inconsistent play was troubling, but even the Yankees founder on occasion). With the way the team was gutted by bad player moves from upper management this year, I can't think of any other manager who could've done better. He joins a long line of good guys who've been shown the door by McLane, starting with Art Howe and Larry Dierker.

Tim Purpura's ouster doesn't bother me so much. Anyone who'd ship Willy Taveras off for the dregs Houston got in return doesn't deserve to run a major league team. He also stuck with mentally fragile closer Lidge two seasons too long, which is significantly worse than what Garner did. The sad thing is, Purpura shouldn't have been in that position in the first place. That came about because McLane ran off brilliant GM Gerry Hunsicker--architect of the Astros teams that were perennial playoff contenders through the late 80s and early 90s--with his meddling ways. Hunsicker's now with Tampa Bay, and McLane's ego is such that he's refused to even consider bringing the man back.

I don't expect the Astros to be good again any time soon. McLane is a sucker for razzle-dazzle, and too often mistakes rah-rah for production (case in point: Terry Collins). I know there've been grumblings among the Houston faithful, and McLane's never been as popular as he once was. But now without the fan-favorites of Bagwell and Biggio to generate goodwill, are we about to see Houston turn it's back on the fiasco the Astros have become? Shoot. Where's Nolan Ryan when you need him?

Now Playing: Ravel The Best of Ravel

Monday, August 27, 2007

Thorn in My Hive

So I had a bottle of that prickly pear mead (honey wine) that I bottled back in June which was only 3/4 full. Concerned that this might oxidize and become unpalatable (I believe the technical term is "yucky") I popped it in the refrigerator yesterday and uncorked it tonight.


Wow. Talk about a profoundly sweet alcoholic beverage. The honey is very much front and center, and the prickly pear fruit gives it a light, not-quite-obvious fruity undertone. I didn't actually want this batch to be so sweet, but I used a lot of honey in the fermentation process and eventually the yeast knocked itself out trying to deal with all that sugar. As it is, the alcohol content is pretty sturdy--at least 15 percent, and possibly higher. I got a slight buzz simply from sipping one glass of the stuff. It's not bad at all, and improved rapidly upon exposure to air. There's almost no rough edge to this stuff, so I can only imagine how it will improve once it's aged for a year or more.

I also played around on the computer and came up with some labels. "Thorn in My Hive." Clever, huh?

Now Playing: Eurythmics Greatest Hits

The stealth mode of creation

I meant to post about this on Friday, but things got crazy and I never got around to it. Now others are on the case and are poking holes in the weasle-worded statement issued by Texas State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy. Who is McLeroy? Check out my earlier post on this fiasco.

McLeroy is an avowed creationist, but is suddenly sounding conciliatory and rational where science curriculum is concerned, just as 10 of 15 board members seemingly come out against the teaching of Intelligent Design:
In interviews, 10 of the board's 15 members said they wouldn't support requiring the teaching of intelligent design. One board member said she was open to the idea. Four board members didn't respond to requests for interviews.

Proponents of intelligent design contend that life is too complex to have occurred by chance, requiring instead the guidance of an unnamed supernatural being. Critics say it's a ploy for introducing creationism — the biblical account of the origin of humans — into science classes.

"Creationism and intelligent design don't belong in our science classes," said Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy, who described himself as a creationist. "Anything taught in science has to have consensus in the science community and intelligent design does not."

The trouble is, ID proponents have a history of making fallacious arguments, ie if A is false, then B is true. They habitually misstate the science behind evolution, then claim that these shortcomings "prove" ID, aka creationism (check out the wedge strategy they use. Definitely worth a look).
McLeroy, R-College Station, said he doesn't want to change the existing requirement that evolution be taught in high school biology classes. But he joined several of his colleagues in arguing that biology textbooks should cover the weaknesses of the theory of evolution.

McLeroy and three other socially conservative board members voted against the current biology texts in 2003 over the evolution issue. The textbook debate comes up again in 2011.

Does anyone else smell a lack of honesty and sincerity coming from this man? I wonder if he's a religious Machiavellian, in which committing sin is acceptable if comes in serving God? Isn't this a lesson we learned about through the Crusades? One wonders what McLeroy's reaction would be if school districts started offering up classes that covered the "weaknesses of religion." I'll bet that would make his hair stand up on end.

Now Playing: Billy Joel & Elton John Face to Face

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Night Videos

This one's trippy, weird and addictive--the band Squeeze's biggest hit in the U.S. Their career was complicated by the fact that an obscure U.S. band was already using the name Squeeze when they started up, so all of their North American releases for the first part of their career were marketed as "Squeeze U.K." Sadly, the rest of the album doesn't live up to the promise of this song, but that doesn't make the video any less fun.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... The Divynls.

Now Playing:

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Roving Mars

My review of the Roving Mars DVD release is now live over at RevolutionSF. It's a very good documentary, but one that has some significant flaws. Still, the special bonus features on the disc warrant their own mention:
Rarely is a feature upstaged by its own extras on a DVD release, but Roving Mars comes close. And that's saying something, considering how engrossing the feature is despite its listed flaws. Whoever thought to include "Mars and Beyond," a 50-minute episode of Walt Disney's Disneyland television program originally broadcast in 1957, should be commended. Bits and pieces of the show have aired in various incarnations over the years, and the yellow, tubular bicycle-tire of a space station that makes an appearance late in the episode will likely be familiar to space buffs. But the uncut program is a rarity, and the eclectic nature of it is close to mind-boggling.

Someday, I'd like to see a comprehensive Mars film that covers the history of the exploration of the planet thoroughly, from Mariner 4 and the Soviet's Mars 2, through Viking and Pathfinder and everything else to come. Yeah, I'm definitely looking forward to that someday.

Now Playing: Billy Joel Streetlife Serenade

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

First day of class

I'm doing much better now than I was earlier. By 11:30 the vertigo effects had pretty much dissipated. But man, it was touch and go there for a while.

Today is the first day of classes for the fall semester. Which means parking around my building is awful, as students swarm the staff lots to come in and change their schedules, pay bills and argue about whatever segment of their education has been screwed up in some manner. We also have a flood of publicity requests coming in as faculty and staff hit the ground running, so I may be absent more often than not as we try to keep our heads above the initial crush.

Now Playing: Dave Davies Bug

High Anxiety

This morning when I arrived at work, I stepped out of my car in the parking lot and a wave of vertigo washed over me. It was almost like experiencing a bar-hopping bender, in that my senses seemed to be in a fog as the ground shifted uncomfortably under my feet. Except that the strongest thing I'd had to drink was a Diet Dr Pepper and I had no desire to call up someone I hadn't seen in 10 years and babble incoherently at them.

The troubling thing is that now, two hours later, it's still with me. Not quite so strong, but the floor and walls decide to unnaturally shift around me in a distinctly uncomfortable manner every few minutes. Not something I can say I'd recommend.

Now Playing: Clandestine The Ale is Dear

Monday, August 20, 2007

Under Dog Star Dust

I got to see a couple of movies over the weekend: Underdog and Stardust. I liked one, the other I didn't.

When I was a kid, I absolutely loved Underdog. The cartoons had me hooked. Sure, Mighty Mouse was fun, but there was something weirdly addictive to Underdog that I couldn't resist. Sweet Polly Purebred was always in trouble. The humble secret identity of Shoeshine Boy. "In the secret compartment of my ring I fill with the Underdog Super Energy Pill." I still remember the great cliffhanger in which Simon Barsinister was going to dehydrate the Atlantic Ocean. Now that's a nefarious scheme if ever there was one!

Alas, the movie doesn't live up to that gleeful mayhem. Tragically, it opens with the original cartoons, making the abomination that follows look even worse by comparison. Instead, it goes through the big Hollywood book of cliches to produce an origin story like any other, in which Simon Barsinister's sinister experiments actually create Underdog, and shoehorn in a father-son bonding sub-plot. Patrick Walburton plays the evil henchman in the exact same way he's ever played any character. The film is an uninspired mess. Seriously. The daughters, who are the ones who wanted to see this turkey in the first place, left the theater grumbling that the ending "wasn't very good." These are the kids that gobble up every Barbie direct-to-video DVD ever produced and ask for more, so that's saying something right there. To rectify this awful situation, I've added the original Underdog cartoons to my Netflix queue. They're not up to the brilliant level of, say, Rocky & Bullwinkle, but they're good.

Stardust, on the other hand, was a great deal of fun. I've never read Gaiman's original "adult fairy tale" but the film has a Gaimanish rhythm to it, so I assume they haven't changed it up too much. There are some plot holes here and there I assume would've been addressed had this been a three-hour film, but it worked quite well at two. Claire Danes has always had an elfin, otherworldly look to her, and now that she's undeniably a grown-up woman, she works quite well as the fallen star. Michelle Pfeiffer is so good as one of three witch sisters that you have to wonder why she doesn't get more work. And Robert DeNiro really, and I mean really, hams it up as the dirigible Captain Shakespeare. My biggest gripe actually comes at the expense of that cool, lightning-harvesting airship: The gas bag is far too small to have a prayer of lifting the ship. Sure, you can claim this is a magical realm, but airships are my thing, so I like my movies to at least try to get a little verisimilitude going.

Stardust sincerely wants to be The Princess Bride for a new generation, but it never reaches that sustained level of perfection. It's quite funny, though, and never takes itself too seriously. If you know the tropes of your fairy tales, things wrap up as they only could--albeit with a few unforseen twists along the way. No matter what it does at the box office, I imagine it will soon become a perennial favorite on DVD.

Now Playing: Christopher Franke Babylon 5

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Night Videos

Goodness! I just realized I've been doing the Friday Night Videos feature here for more than a year now. Has it really been that long? And if so, how is it that I've yet to post the Divinyl's "I Touch Myself"? When it first came out, I was jolted by its unabashed sexuality, but equally appealing was the fact that the Aussie group expected everyone else to be in on the joke as well. How can you not like that? This was my favorite song for a long time, and the video ain't half bad, either.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Trio.

Now Playing: Various Classical Masterpieces vol. 2

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lord help me, I'm such a geek

So the ad department has done a masterful job, and convinced my children that they absolutely must see "Daddy Day Camp" in theaters. The prospect of getting a root canal via rusty spoon and ball-peen hammer is far more appealing to the Wife and I, so as way of compromise, the Wife orders the original "Daddy Day Care" (which looks only to be slightly less painful) via Netflix.

As the DVD goes into the player, I retreat to my office to work on my overdue Roving Mars review (which should go live any day now at RevolutionSF). After a little while, I hear this exchange float in from the living room (paraphrased to protect my sanity):
I fight the Joker!

No, that's Batman's arch-enemy.

Lex Luthor?

No, he fights Superman. Look, kid, you're the Flash. That means you go up against Captain Boomerang, Gorilla Grodd, the Reverse-Flash. Villains like that.

I rush into the living room. "Did I just hear what I think I heard? Did they just tick off the Roguess Gallery?"

"Yes," the Wife replies. "The little kid is dressed up as the Flash."

""I can't believe it. Do you know what this means? They actually did their research! The screenwriters knew what they were writing about! They..." I trailed off at the concerned look the wife was giving me, and realized that I was gushing about Daddy-frellin'-Daycare. I slunk back to my office and hid my head in shame.

Now Playing: Various Celtic Moods

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Meet me in Saint Louis

One of the stops of our grand tour of the midwest was the famed Saint Louis Arch, the "Gateway to the West." Since we were right across the river in Collinsville, we couldn't very well count ourselves as respectable tourists if we didn't visit the landmark, could we?


So went we did. We were even able to make it out from Collinsville through the brown haze that hung over the area the duration of our stay. The Wife, photographic genius that she is, was able to take the above mind-bending photo, as well as the nifty one below.


No matter how interesting and extensive the associated museum is, however, there just isn't any way to visit the Arch and not go up to the top. It costs a few bucks, but hey, the young'uns will be able to tell their grandkids they went to the top. Who can argue with that logic? Unfortunately, they don't tell you until after you've bought tickets and stood in line for an hour that the Arch was never designed for people to go up to the top. Uh oh. We're led down into a sub-basement level, with staggered steel doors. When they open to disgorge their occupants, you realize that the conveyance to the top amounts to cramped white cable-cars with little pods for seats, an affair which looks like it came right out of Logan's Run. They sway on the way up, as you would expect cable cars to do.


The actual observation deck is a cramped, inverted triangle of carpeting and slot windows. This is not a good place for people with vertigo. I'm not particularly afraid of heights, but my stomach started getting queasy and the heart rate skipped up a couple of notches. The sensation of being 600-plus feet above the ground is unmistakable, particularly when you take into account the fact that the Arch sways in the wind. Not much, mind you. But enough for the paranoia to set in when you remember the bridge spanning the Mississippi collapsed in Minneapolis the day before. So the only thing to do is watch the barge traffic on the river below if you're in the leftmost photo above, or show Orion Busch Stadium in the second, and explain to him that's where he's going to break the Cardinals' hearts on many occasions in the future while playing for the Astros.


So how do you cap such a memorable experience (and one I never, ever hope to repeat)? By accosting a poor, unsuspecting deaf woman and forcing her to take the obligatory family group shot. Looking at this picture, I come to the inescapable conclusion that there are some mighty fetching women in the Blaschke clan.

Now Playing: Donal Hinely We Build a Fire

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Quick recap

Armadillocon was a pleasant, low-key experience for me this year. I haven't quite recovered my energy from the vacation road trip to NASFiC, so I took it easy for the most part. I saw many old friends and had some stimulating (as usual) conversation. Alan Porter's import of Dave Gibbon's "Hypotheticals" comic book panel was a blast, tempered only by the relatively sparse audience (somewhat understandable, since few at the con had any idea what it would entail).

I delivered half a dozen maypop passion fruit to Elizabeth Moon, who is trying to establish them on her 80 acres of wildlife habitat up in Florence. Lillian and Paul Carl happened by about this time, and I've promised to send them some as well for their home in Fort Worth. Even at SF conventions, I'm still obsessing over passiflora it seems.


Sara Felix asked me a couple of months ago to create some homebrew for the guest of honor gift baskets. In the past, she'd included Shiner Bock as a sort of local Taste of Texas, but after the beer I brewed for Mark Finn's book launch last year, she thought it'd be more fun for me to do some for the con. Which I did--"DilloBrau" is a variant of my tried and true nut brown ale, but this time I used dark toasted malt, which gave it a slight chocolate touch. And since you can't brew just five bottles of beer (for the five Guests of Honor) I carried another case of brew along to the con, which was distributed at the Space Squid/RevolutionSF party. More than a few people (con com included) were snagging the garish-labeled bottles as souvenirs, which made me happy. And lots of people sampled it, and even fewer people went blind, which is always good.

The rest of the time I pretty much spent stalking Sharyn November. I'm never going to be a professional book editor, but editing anthologies and magazines and other such animals is something that interests me greatly (as evidenced by my impressive trail of failed anthology proposals). When I have an opportunity to hear an editor critique a story, I pay particular attention to not only the points they pick out that I also zeroed in on, but also those areas where our opinions differ or I just flat-out missed. I dissect and obsess over these points, trying to understand and digest the reasoning behind the comments. Ultimately, I don't always agree, but I think it helps me grow as an editor.

I actually spent more time tracking her down to introduce writers and artists who'd like to do work for her than pitching myself (silent stalker guy isn't the best persona from which to pitch) but we did have a useful conversation regarding my long-delayed, much-researched Sailing Venus novel. As I suspected, she agreed there isn't much being published now in the YA field that falls into the science fiction adventure mold of the old Winston juveniles, but that such a book could potentially stand out among all the fantasy adventures and soft, near-future SF currently filling YA booklists. She asked to see it whenever I get it finished, provided it doesn't utterly suck (she didn't actually say that, but it pretty much goes without saying, you know?). Sharyn is blunt and outspoken, and sometimes hard to read (I'm not the only one who stumbles over that whole East Coast cultural thing) but I understand why she's one of the few editors who has something of a fan following--when you're discussing a project with her, even in passing, there is a tangible feeling that you and your work have her fullest attention at that time. When she gives her thoughts, they feel genuine and honest, as opposed to an evasive answer that is non-committal enough to not burn any bridges. There is a blunt directness about her that can be intimidating at first, but it's easy to see how this would be a great trait in an editor to work with. Now I just have to get my lazy butt in gear and write the damn thing.

Now Playing: Henry Mancini Instrumental Favorites

Friday, August 10, 2007

Off to Armadillocon

In just a few short hours I'll be off to Armadillocon in Austin. Friday is the big writers workshop which I understand I am co-chair of for the second year in a row. That tells you what a sad state of affairs it's fallen into. Earlier, I got an email from Patrice Sarath, the co-chair who actually does all the work on the workshop, telling me that Sharyn November, the editor GoH for the con and co-instructor for our break-out manuscript group, has had a change of flight plans and will miss at least the first hour of critiquing. Omph. I'm going to be flying solo with some disgruntled workshoppers, one of whom actually has considerably more publication credits than myself. Talk about pressure.

On the bright side, the Armadillocon beer has turned out quite nicely. I've just got a few more labels to put on and we'll be all set to go. On the not-so-bright side, one of my daughters has a swim meet Saturday morning, which means I'll have to hightail it back home Friday night so as to be the supportive parent, then turn around and drive back up to Austin. Not looking forward to that driving, especially after logging a bazillion miles going up to NASFiC, but hey, we do what we must.

Here's my schedule for the weekend:
ArmadilloCon 29 Schedule for Jayme Lynn Blaschke

Fr2200Dz Group blogging by SF authors
Fri 10:00 PM-11:00 PM de Zavala
Nevins*, Blaschke, Nakashima-Brown, Gould, Spector,
Denton, McHugh
Jess Nevins and Chris Nakashima-Brown, et al. proffer
dueling bloggers, complete with PowerPoint live

Sa1200De Revolution SF
Sat Noon-1:00 PM DeWitt
Klaw*, Finn, Bey, Wilson, Blaschke, Porter
Being an editor for a small SF site can be

Sa2000De Hypotheticals
Sat 8:00 PM-9:00 PM DeWitt
Porter*, Roberson, Sturges, Wilson, Blaschke, Benjamin
A role playing panel wherein comics professionals take
a set of interlinked and developing hypothetical
scenarios regarding the comic book industry and play
them out. There’s no audience participation, other
than the audience getting a lot of enjoyment out of

Su1300De Mythology/Schmythology
Sun 1:00 PM-2:00 PM DeWitt
Wilson*, Gilman, Blaschke, Denton, Gould, Kimbriel,
In presupposing that only a "chosen one" and/or
demi-god can save the world, are Star Wars, Harry
Potter, Lord of the Rings and other such works
anti-humanist at the core?

Now Playing: David Byrne Uh-Oh

Friday Night Videos

I never saw this video for Trio's "Da Da Da" back when the song was popular, but I saw that famous Volkswagen commercial many times. Lisa even told me of seeing a spoof of that commercial promoting Spin City, where Michael J. Fox and another actor picked up a jabbering Richard Kind up from the curb, only to dump him later when they realized he would never shut up. The video itself is oddly entertaining, except for that bizarre, bloody waitress slaughter bit. I just don't get that part at all.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... The Simpsons.

Now Playing: David Byrne Uh-Oh

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Vacation pics

Or rather, just one pic. We staggered in from the family vacation road trip, aka "Excuse to go to NASFiC" last night, and now I'm scrambling to get ready for Armadillocon on Friday. Not recovered from the last trip, and I have too much stuff that needs doing before the next. Maybe a proper con report will be forthcoming, maybe not. Until then, I leave you with this shot from Metropolis, Il., which I consider a study in contrasts. Enjoy.


Now Playing: nothing

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I'm Chevy Chase... and you're not

I'm posting from the lobby of my hotel in Collinsville, Ill., ready for NASFiC to begin tomorrow. It's somewhat surreal, since scenes of the horriffic bridge collapse in Minneapolis are dominating the airwaves on pretty much every TV channel except for the one playing noisily here in the lobby. We've driven across the Mississippi several times on this trip already, and a certain "there but for the grace of God go I" vibe is working its magic on Lisa and myself. Fortunately, the sage acting of Gary Sinise on the TV behind me is soothing my cares.

You'll all be dissappointed to know we did not strike it rich at Crater of Diamonds in Arkansas. Someone found a diamond right away, but that someone didn't have the last name of Blaschke. Instead, we found some interesting quartz, jasper and several other stones. The heat was sweltering--as unseasonably cool as Texas has been this summer, Arkansas wasn't. We then jaunted over to Hot Springs, and were bowled over by Bath House Row. Thunderstorms were rolling in, so we didn't get to hike much in the park, and instead pushed on to Memphis for the night.

Memphis was great. It's sort of like a strange hybrid, equal parts Houston, Austin and San Antonio. We caught some live music on Beale Street, saw the site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assasination, visited an underground railroad museum, were denied the chance to tour Sun Studios (a particularly annoying development as far as I was concerned) and did the whole Graceland thing. Yeah, we'll be back to Memphis someday.

Today we drove from Memphis to St. Louis, by way of Metropolis. Normally, Metropolis, Ill., isn't a place that would find itself on the route to St. Louis from Memphis, as one surprised postal carrier opined. But we're not in this part of the country very often, and the chance to see the giant Superman statue, not to mention visit the Superman Museum, was too much to resist. Unfortunately, they have insanely low speed limits on most of the non-interstate highways through Tennessee, Kentucky and Illinois, so we made horrible time. Most of the day was lost, so our grand plans to visit the St. Louis Arch this evening were scrapped in order for us to avoid additional car time. We had dinner at White Castle, the first time Lisa and I have ever dined at that particular establishment. Color us not impressed. Whatever the big deal is, it's lost on us.

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