Thursday, April 27, 2006

Roadside Wisconsin

Sunday I went on a group bike ride with the Bombay Bike Club here in Madison. They are weekly free rides that a lot of people attend, enough so that there is a slower group, a killer fast group, and everything in between. I hung with the fast group for the first 16 miles and then got spit out on a hill -- I was proud to hold on that long. I then found myself drifting back into a small group and finishing the 66 miles with them. We took a few wrong turns on the way to New Glarus (America's "Little Switzerland"), but soon got back on track. Riding that hard (22mph +) and long is definitely a lesson in suffering, and as my teachers in grade school said, "Offer it up for the poor souls in Purgatory," or simply "Offer it up." So I went with that idea and was rewarded by an amazing sight during our 1 mile wrong turn -- a UFO. I returned later that day to get the pictures you see above. It is a car, converted into a drivable UFO, in the style of the deathmobile in Animal House. There is nothing more to be said. A half mile down the road we passed an old aluminum boat with "dick fuck" spray painted on the side of it. The ride and the wrong turn were easily worth it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Portland can mow my lawn and pay me a $1/hr

My friend Melissa has a blog -- allbuttonedup. She married my good friend Paul. Yes, they met each other because of me. I'm the best (though its not hard to trace it all back a little further to Scott and his Cornerstone days). They live in Portland, have a wonderful son Sam, and smile and act happy all day long.

But underneath it all there may be some trouble brewing. This article asserts that if they were to lose the Trailblazers their city would descend into "the heap of lovely but forgettable towns," like Madison, which they name numerous times. We might be shy a pro sports team, but who won the 2006 NCAA frozen four for both men and women's hockey? Yep, the UW Badgers . In the end it is all about hockey.

Where did they film The Giant Spider Invasion?
Where did they film Back To School?

Not Portland, that is for sure.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Misty water-colored memories, of ...

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

I came across a blog entry somewhere that escapes me now that had some discussion of the first comic you remember buying/reading/having – really the first comic that stuck in your head that you physically had in front of you at one point. It’s an interesting exercise in walking down memory lane, and it took me about 2 seconds to come up with my answer. I split it into the first comic I remember digging to the point where I realized just how great comics can be, and the first super hero book I loved. As is the case, my first favorite comic was not a superhero book. While I recall sometime in the early to mid 80’s a box of Archie digests making their way home from the flea market in Joliet to my room (Montana Charlie’s Flea Market – right down the road from Old Chicago, which still stood amongst the growing parking lot weeds at that time), I do remember a few comics before that time. I distinctly remember buying $.60 Archie books at T&B foods on 63rd and Hamlin. T&B was a dump even in those days, when the majority of the neighborhood looked infinitely nicer than it does today. But, it was a convenience store that had comics on a spinner rack and I could walk to it and Chicago was generally much dirtier back then anyway and what difference did I know anyway? Driving up to Prentice, WI for vacation around this time with my grandmother yielded a Whitman grab bag of comics from a gas station along the way. I think for $.60 you got 3 random Whitman books. The 2 you could see where Bugs Bunny books, but as it turns out the middle book was Grimm’s Ghost Stories #59. I liked the Bugs comics just fine, but the revelation that horror comics existed was pretty impressive. That was the comic for me. I really loved that comic, read it many times, and my eyes were truly open as to what the medium could be at that young age of 8. I loved reading horror stories so the existence of horror comics really put me over the edge. I recently thumbed through that exact copy and remembered the stories perfectly, even though they now seem pretty bad -- I now know and deeply love the golden era of 1950’s EC comics: Tales From the Crypt/The Haunt of Fear/ Vault of Horror/Crime SuspenStories/Shock SuspenStories. I was a cheap plot/story date back then, but ‘ol Grimm still is a treat and I couldn’t see ever getting rid of it. It’s a milestone it seems. I have since tracked down a few other issues in the run but they just don’t have the charm of the green cover with the frightened sailors.

Within a short time after that a friend Dan gave me his previous year’s subscription to Amazing Spider Man (#’s 227-238). He had read them many times and just passed them on as read and therefore useless. God bless him, wherever he is these days (last seen in Oak Lawn about 17 years ago…). What a prince. I read them all many times and was just in love with Spidey and the whole superhero world. I loved the idea of the cliffhanger, the deceptive/lying cover, and the ubiquitous splash page. I still have those exact, crumpled, stained copies in my collection. The book that stood out the most was easily #238 – the first appearance of the Hobgoblin (yeah, Dan gave me the comic with the Tattoos already used and gone). It took me about 3 more years to track down #239 and finish that storyline at one of the comic shops I soon regularly haunted. Within a few years I was buying Spidey and X books monthly, including all the McFarlane and Larson books as they hit the stands, but I still favor that year run on Spidey by pencilers and writers that still are unknown to me (I can’t say I’ve ever looked them up). #238 is still an expensive back issues to buy and it would be nice to have one that doesn’t look like a car ran over it and also has the temporary tattoos, but I’ve never been able to bring myself to replace my collection’s copy. It is simply worth too much.

By the end of high school I had become a fiercely DC superhero only customer and grew to love the EC books the most, but Grimm #59 and Amazing #238 still tower over them in their own way.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

DYS - City To City

It's begun -No turning back
City to city
We're fighting back
Haven't changed the world
But we've made a start
We're digging in and fighting smart
And like a plague,We'll continue to spread
Fight their values until they're dead
We're serious and we won't go away
We fight for a better world - today
Laugh or frown, it's all the same
Won't play by your rules
'Cause we hate your game
One of the great side effects of moving is being forced to pack/unpack your cd collection, which in turn brings long forgotten music to the stereo once again. I probably haven't listened to DYS in 7+ years -- not for any specific reason mind you, it just hasn't happened. I still have most of the songs memorized so it was very easy to slip back into a sing along when I threw the disc into my stereo on the way to some errands tonight. It holds up much better than I had thought it would. I always remember the LP because of the Nazi in the crowd on the back, but sadly have forgotten just how good some of the songs are, City to City specifically. Boston hardcore never disappoints. Its definitely time to start digging through the entire cd collection. Such a sin to neglect all the great music there, not to mention the vinyl that hasn't been touched since September that remains in storage. I haven't listened to Bold or Gorilla Biscuits in a while...

Sunday, April 09, 2006

While watching the Hardy Boys on Thursday night (er, I mean Supernatural) I was tickled to see that this week's episode was set in Fitchburg, Wisonson, which is an immediate suburb of Madison. While the real Fitchburg is not as rainy as the Western Canada where the show is filmed, they did name the hospital correctly -- Dane county is the correct county. I ride my bike through Fitchburg quite a bit but haven't seen any Strega. Its a decent show, though not as smart as the X-files, but the imagery is excellent so if you take it for a spooky hour of tv its just as fun and much cheaper than a splatter flick at the movies. I will give them credit for mentioning the names of other towns in Wisconsin where the Strega had been in the past century -- Ogdenville, North Haverbrook, and Brockway. It took me a minute to get the reference, but it came and that will enough to get me to tune in next week. Its typically a flashy, action based show so it is nice to see geeky references make their way to the surface.


When does a comic book character's death mean a lot? When its permanent and happens to a major character(Barry Allen, Supergirl)? or when it happens to a minor character that is beloved, sometimes even more so in death (Blue Beetle, Golden Age Sandman, Hawk)? Not to spoil this past week's Infinite Crisis, but where does its death fall into the scheme of things? I would have to say in the middle. I didn't love the character too much but the character's death was heroic and important. This is far too vague. Help me out, Wayne.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

While I certainly love science fiction and fantasy, I've never been a big Doctor Who fan. I've seen plenty of the Tom Baker episodes on the channel 11 of my youth, but I never cared to keep up throughout other incarnations. I do understand that the thing with the show is that the plots are good and the effects never are. This was initially born out of economics, but after a while it became part of the show. MST3K would not be any better if the budget went through the roof -- probably worse. That having been said, a little extra money pushed towards the BBC show would help a great deal without sacrificing the show's identity (a Dalek should always look like a Dalek -- cheap and boxy). I tuned in for 5 minutes to the new Doctor Who on sci-fi over the weekend and realized that while the budget has gone up a bit, so has the cheese. There might be a big inside joke I'm missing, but the pig piloting a ship was too much. Maybe its like giving white trash money -- you get a jungle room. You give Doctor Who money, you get a midget in a pig costume.