Thursday, March 30, 2006

An Art Boon

Like many people, I try to watch a good movie and read a good book on a regular basis. Most of the time these works are not great by any stretch, and many times are downright poor. This mixed bag usually further permutates itself into a scenario of good novel, bad comic, bland movie, etc. These past few days have been the complete opposite. I finished Bradbury's Something Wicked..., which was as good as everything I could read told me it would be.

I'm in the habit of taping movies on Turner Classic Movies to play the lifetime game of catch up to all of the great flicks that were made before I even walked this earth. For some unknowable reason, The Old Dark House hardly ever finds it way into the rerun schedule on TCM, even though the Universal monster flicks and other Karloff movies are in constant rotation. I taped it at 3:30am on Monday morning and watched it last night. Simply excellent. James Whale directed it and Gloria Stuart is the cute female lead (she was the old woman in Titanic). 70 minutes and you're out. Excellent as a chiller, funny as a comedy, and very weird with all of the sexual subtext.

Most people on the message boards disagree with me, but All Star Superman #3 was terrific. Grant Morrisson obviously has a deep love for silly Silver Age plots, but he also understands the romanticism underneath that makes them so fun and warm. If nothing else its an Infinite Crisis palette cleanser.

So in a 24 hour period all art I deliberately exposed myself to was A+. And its warm enough to get longer bike rides as well.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The great thing is to last and get your work done and see and hear and learn and understand; and write when there is something that you know; and not before; and not too damned much after.

Ernest Hemingway


The plan to race this summer took a small step forward yesterday. I swapped out the Tour de France tires I had been riding in order to save them for race day. They are excellent tires and weren't causing me any flats but they were starting to wear down. This way they will have just enough life in them to give me a little extra zip at the race. While this zip is 99.9% mental, it will help nonetheless. I threw on a nice pair of training tires and promptly put 80 miles on them this weekend.

Its almost pointless to wave, nod, or say hi to other road cyclists on the country roads here in Madison. There are so many that its ridiculous. There is almost zero sense of belonging to a sport subculture. I guess you could compare it to living in Chicago and liking Chicago style pizza. Its not that exclusive. Obviously this is a good problem for a city to have.

The Black Earth creek didn't yield any trout yesterday but it was nice to wet a line and cast a bit. Over an hour and not a single rise. Its called fishing, not catching.

I often read books slowly out of laziness, a busy schedule, or because the book just isn't very good yet I cannot commit to deciding not to finish it. A different thing is happening right now to Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. The book is so good that I'm deliberately reading it slowly. I'm going to dole the last 100 pages out over this week by working in some EC horror comic reprints and some early 80's, pre-crisis JLA issues. After Bradbury has been dealt with the Hardy Boys will be on tap.

Reading, fishing, and cycling. Hopefully the lean economy between these things will produce the clarity of purpose that Hemingway advocates.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Its good to have goals, even if ultimately there is no finish line (except for the grave, if I can be morbidly honest for a moment). My summer cycling goal is to compete in the road cycling portion of the Badger State Games in the open category and not finish last. This may not be terribly easy as often CAT 3 and 4 racers ride these races as warm ups for their events later in the day and as a result drive the pack a little harder than it would otherwise move. I considered riding a criterium as my first amateur race but decided against it when I realized the great possibility of a crash. With an out and back race, however, the chance to settle into your own pack makes the chance of a crash a little less likely. There should also be fewer curves and turns, therefore making the pack crack evenly a little earlier in the race. Or maybe I'm completely wrong. One thing I have heard is that the fewest amount of crashes are on the velodrome because people ride without brakes. It makes sense to me. Honest.

Up here in Wisconsin we sure do love our badgers. The team, the animal, the entire experience. I discovered this past weekend during a tour of the capital what exactly resides on the peak of the capital. Glaring at it one can only tell a gilded figure is on top. Well, its a woman -- "Wisconsin" to be exact. Her hand points towards the east (DC) and she bows her head out of respect. She wears a miner's helmet to symbolize the industry of the state. Very elegant, striking, and magnetic. A fine choice and a source of pride for this still settling cheesehead.

Oh, there is also a gold badger perched on her helmet. Classy? Definitely. Something to be proud of? You betcha.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Scene from Chicago ...

I know we are all bikers, specifically urban bikers, and some of us are urban bikers on track bikes. I know there is a degree of brotherhood amongst this cut of cyclists, but I didn't know how much of a hippy thing it can be. I found myself with a young lady whom had a flat on her very nice track bike. It was obvious she rode in the city a lot, was comfortable on a fixed gear in traffic, and knew how to change a flat. She swapped out her tube for a new one and pumped it up with her hand pump, promptly breaking the presta valve. This has happened to me many times by accident, but it was obvious watching her that this was going to happen for sure (pumping at a 45 degree angle to the valve). Fair enough -- its not my tube or bike. I also noticed that she was fairly assertive in fixing it herself so I figured that a "let me help the poor girl" approach would have been very condescending, so I let her alone. I simply mentioned that I had another tube. So, another rider pulls up, offers up one of his tubes to her, which she accepts and promptly breaks in the identical way she broke the first one. Now I am the best person in the world because I have a spare tube. Fine, its only $5 and I would appreciate one if I was in her situation (without pumping like a character in a Grant Morrisson Doom Patrol comic of course). The tube is taken and the other rider pumps it up with his pump and all is well. The conclusion -- nobody gets a thank you. Without going into too much detail, it was obvious the brotherhood vibe was supposedly in effect and that was why the tubes were not seen as favors. They were expected. I'm not a poor man, but it still got under my skin. Say thankyou -- its free to do so. If you want to behave like a hippy, make sure the people you behave that way with are on the same page. Otherwise you'll just be reinforcing a stereotype and annoying me.


Tomorrow at work we are allowed to dress down in jeans and anything red for the Badger Men's Basketball Game in the afternoon. We were told that jeans and sweatshirts would be ok, but that "velour jogging suits were not allowed." Obviously this has been a problem in the past. Wow. I obviously did not join the company early enough.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

So many things in life are relative -- happiness, money, prosperity. In Wisconsin warm temperatures are just such a thing. It was near 50 degrees yesterday afternoon and it might as well have been 90 for the reaction it received in Madison. The city buzzed and hummed with the sense of Spring and the feeling that even though there was 7 inches of snow on Sunday, this was Friday and it was warm and new promises were being made. I know it was warmer in Chicago but I was not in Chicago. I quickly took my road bike out for an 18 mile loop and as the dust was blown off the frame and wheels I'm certain my bike was singing. Since it is an Orbea it sings in Spanish of course. There will be colder days in the near future and Spring is not fully here yet, but the appetite has been wet, and my bike now demands to be ridden everyday.

I will be working tonight at the Stairmaster somewhere in downtown Chicago. If you shout out Cro Mags or Sheer Terror lyrics I promise I'll stamp your manifest faster.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Last Monday evening my roommate and I drove up to Vilas Park for some hockey only to shockingly discover that the boards had been taken down. I know March is immediately coming but it was still supposed to be in the 20's for the next 2 weeks so I banked on some hockey for that time. Wrong -- no game on. It was very odd considering that its a fair amount of work to take the boards down. I would have been the same amount of work to wait a few weeks to take down the boards. Up north in Tomahawk they leave the boards up all year long. But on the bright side the weather is looking a little warmer and the days are a little longer so I'll be able to get some bike riding in on a regular basis soon. Nope. We just got 6+ inches of snow today so biking is on break for a week or so. I suspect this is the hockey/cycling shoulder season that I'll get used to over time. But in the end, I'm the guy that moved to Wisconsin.


I finally read Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow by Alan Moore. This is a sad fact to admit considering its one of the greatest Superman stories of all time, probably the best. The reprints were tough to come by for a while but the new DC Universe Stories of Alan Moore trade paperback solves this problem. The story was so wonderful and beautiful and heart breaking. Completely amazing. Many people that love comics see Superman as being so iconic that he can offer nothing in the way of modern drama ala Frank Miller or Bendis. They say if you think you don't like Springsteen listen to Nebraska. Well... read this story and weep for the man of tomorrow.