Tuesday, December 30, 2003

5 comics I read this year

This is not a "top" 5 in even the most tenuous and subjective manner. I have no idea what 5 comics even I liked best this year, I've probably forgot most of them and I haven't even read half the comics I bought. But since I started this end of the year silliness I might as well finish it. So here are 5 comics I read this year and liked:

1. Paradise Kiss. I've written about this before, and I still love it. Of course, it's taken—what, a whole year?—to get the last volume out (it should be out in April, I think). But worth the wait. I hope it's followed up by more of Ai Yazawa's work.

2. One Piece. Completely silly but lots of fun. Evan wanted to read this ever since we first started seeing the merchandise for it a couple years ago, and he got his wish! I hope retailers that carry it have enough of a clue to push the fact that it's a pirate comic.

3. Courtney Crumrim. I'm not totally caught up on these, but I've really enjoyed the collections so far. And look, it keeps this from being a "5 manga I liked" list, ha ha.

4. Blade of the Immortal. Okay, it kind of goes on and on, but I still haven't gotten sick of it.

5. Kodocha. Okay, I haven't read it the way a normal reader does. But I enjoyed working on this book more than I enjoy reading most comics. I can't wait until the distant day in the future when I have forgotten what happened and what I did on the book and can just read it like a new reader. And, now that I'm finished I hope to track down fansubs of the anime (I didn't want to watch them until I was done—I didn't want to be accidentally influenced by anyone else's rewriting of the series).

There's a lot of other books I read, or have in my giant stack, and I'd have to give special mentio to: I.N.V.U., Pet Shop of Horrors, X-Day, Kindaichi Files and Shadow Star. And I'm sure there's more I've liked and just can't think of. Oh well. Tune in tomorrow to see if I can actually come up with one last list!

Monday, December 29, 2003

top 5 bands in winamp rotation

I was going to list a couple bands we've been listening to and then I thought, hey, I can be all dopey and do another top 5 for the end of the year! So here you go, totally subjective and of-the-moment, and not in any particular order:

1. Electric 6. One of our absolute favorite bands of 2003, which we still are listening to regularly. I will always regret that we couldn't see them at the Bowery Ballroom (with Junior Senior opening!) because of our stupid schedule + life. I don't think there's a song I dislike on the album, and "Synthesizer" is for some reason my current fave.

2. Basement Jaxx, "Cish Cash". I can't buy that this is one of the best albums of the year (then again, what do I know? I hardly hear anything these days) but the single "Cish Cash" (feat. Siouxsie Sioux) is a must-have.

3. Fantastic Plastic Machine. This is the year I really got into FPM, whose works are too varied and numerous to get into. Funny, we were actually put off by the video for "Beautiful Days" and so I didn't check them out for a while. But now in heavy rotation.

4. Tricky. Tricky, Tricky, it's always Tricky. I don't think I'm capable of burning a CD without putting Tricky on it (keep in mind, these are CDs for an MP3 player, so there are 100-150 songs on each, I'm not completely insane)

5. Chemical Brothers. I've just been reminded by their singles collection that you can't go wrong with these guys. And the video for "Hey Boy Hey Girl" remains one of my all-time favorites.

Funny, I thought I'd never think of 5...and now I can't stop thinking. Special mentions for 2003 will have to go to Groove Armada (does "Superstylin'" ever get old?), OutKast, Loudbomb, and to all the guys and gals over at get your bootleg on for all the amazing/silly/fun/impressive work that they do. And I could name 100s more now that I'm thinking about it...but it's time to stop.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

top 5 links I never posted

Okay, as part of my year-end cleanup, I'm trying to get rid of tons of bookmarks I don't need, and a pretty big handful of them are things I wanted to link to or write about here. Oops. Here's the top 5 (not actually in order though). If I uncover any other good ones I'll go ahead and post them later.

1. The iduck. Only 16MB, but pretty cute (if overpriced!) I can only hope more cool USB storage devices come out as the world gets rid of its floppy drives. (Evan's new computer is our first with no floppy drive! Crazy!)

2. The Thunderbirds. Long trailer for the upcoming live-action version of the Thunderbirds. I think we'll be seeing this one, but not because we think it's going to actually be good...

3. Deleter USA. The manga supply company has a US division now, selling pens, paper and tone screen (never thought I'd see that stuff for sale again anywhere!) for making comics (and no, they don't have to be manga style). Of special interest to me are their software packages (one for doing screen tones, one for coloring) as they're the only apps I've ever seen specifically for comic creators. (If the tone screens in ComicWorks can be imported into PhotoShop, it'd be worth the price for that alone!) They also have their own tablet, which I'm interested in finding out more about. Hopefully I'll have time to look into their stuff more next year.

4. Time magazine covers. Time has made every single cover of their magazine available online (and you can buy prints if there's one you love). A little hard to search if you aren't sure what you're looking for (have there really only been 5 Christmas covers in 80 years?) but it's all there for the browsing. (Oh, and the cover I found? Mystery writer Craig Rice, whose collaborations with Stuart Palmer we just finished reading.)

5. Elsa Schiaperelli. Celebrated in an exhibit that's unfortunately about to close at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (and if it's travelling anywhere else, I can't find anything out about it). The website is really informative and well-done, though. I'm seeing the exhibition next week (yes, cutting it close, I know!) and am really looking forward to it.

Alright, that's it for today!

Wednesday, July 9, 2003

zip zip zoom

In house news, this really should be part of the unfinished "my favorite tools" bit for the cooking class, but since I've had no time I just want to push on you my latest favorite thing, the in-drawer knife block that was delivered today. I've been wanting one of these for ages, but they all seemed too expensive or too junky. This one is great—it holds 6 knives, 6 steak knives (or small knives) plus your steel. And it only cost $17! (Most I've seen didn't hold that much and ran about $40.) The regular knife block on the counter was just bulky and annoying, and got so dirty. So, a bunch of stuff came out of the drawer and went into my new cool Fiestaware tool crock (mine is turquoise) and then the knife block went into the drawer. It's all so much neater and easier to get to now.

Finally, Evan's been having all the fun talking about movies lately, so I'm chiming in first with a report on The House Where Evil Dwells, a horror movie we thought might be quick and goofy and which turned out to be one of the most ludicrous things calling itself a film I've ever seen in my life. One IMDb user calls it "high camp", except it's not supposed to be…the best user comment is "Be Drunk. Very Drunk." It was hysterically funny, I have to admit. Giant talking cursing crabs going up trees? Talking heads in soup? Evil ghosts who act like naughty children? Awkward out-of-shape white man martial arts? Worth catching for a laugh, if you've got some downtime to spare.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Your World Of Men Has Not Ended

A few weeks ago we picked up some cheap old comics, and among my selections was the September 1962 issue of Nurse Betsy Crane, which I thought would be interesting—I've gotten romance comics before, but never a classic nurse comic. And the comic itself was about as entertaining as I expected. What I didn't expect was the essay in the center of the book. Now, girls' comics of the era often have little text pieces on history, society, or maybe "things you can do for fun". And true, the text pieces in Charlton comics are usually extra-dumb. But I've never seen anything like the essay "Weep No More" in a comic, for girls or not! Now, from the title and quote, perhaps you have an inkling of what this little instructional guide is about. If you don't, here's the topic: "how to be a widow and what to do about it". Yes, a guide for your impending widowhood, all you young ladies out there. And since they do have a point there—this part of a young girl's education is in fact, often neglected—I bring you the salient points. (And anything in quotes is, really, a quote. Could I make those things up?)

Why you should think about this: Because the happy young bride never gives any thought to the possibility of her husband's death until it's too late. "It may come through an accident. A skidding car on a rainy day goes through a rail. Or a customary checkup by the family doctor gives shocking news. And so a young bride of not more than one year finds herself wearing black." And it's true, she undoubtably doesn't. So maybe it is a good idea to put this guide into a girls' comic, because this is the sort of thing girls of, oh, 12-14 really should be thinking about.

Here are the important things you will need to know:

First: The most important thing to keep in mind, apparently, is that "the man you loved so much is dead. Nothing can bring him back." (A nice and tactful way to approach the subject, don't you think?) "You must accept the fact that he is no longer here and make plans for a new life."

Second: Basically, it wasn't your fault.

Third: All your husband's stuff? Get rid of it, no matter what anyone says, because they are "the constant reminder of his existence, and he no longer exists." Just in case you forgot about the part where he died already.

Fourth: Whatever he left you wasn't enough. Go get a job. Maybe now you should go to college. And, "if you have sufficient funds and mental ability it might not be a bad idea to prepare for a profession." If you don't, they suggest learning to type.

Fifth: Consider your current friendships. "Act cheerful and pleasant" all the time if you want to keep any friends. But realize that you will apparently lose all friendships based on your husband's work, hobbies or associations, and all your married friends as well, because everyone knows that married women hate and fear divorcées.

Sixth: Don't let yourself be taken. "You will have to be alert and constantly on guard for a type of male known as THE WIDOW'S WOLF." This guy is basically looking for cheap sex and your savings account. Don't make false moves that will encourage these kind of men!

Seventh: Don't try to act like a teenager again, just because you're single. "The woman of 25 is mature, with different and outlooks than the girl of eighteen she was when she got married." Although, the woman of 25 has been married seven years instead of the single year they say they're addressing, so presumably she doesn't actually need this stupid guide. They also suggest that you "accept your matured self and study it carefully." What exactly that means I'm not entirely sure.

Eighth: Yes, you guessed it! "Your world of men has not ended!" Whew! Thank goodness for that, right? You can go out again, and even get married! But keep an open mind. "Your first husband was a salesman. The second might be a teacher, a taxi driver, or even a bricklayer." Keep shootin' high, girls!

And finally: Please remember that "you aren't the teen-ager any longer. You're a little wiser and perhaps bit sadder but love can come a second time." Keep in mind that "once again you have to be attractive, interesting, and appealing to a single man." But most importantly, believe that you are "morally entitled to your happiness as a married woman." And..."weep no more"!

Sunday, March 30, 2003

a very satisfying day

Yesterday was like a totally charmed day. Days like that don't come along too often, so pardon me while I savor it a bit longer.

First, I got all my seedlings started (a little late, I know, but I forgot a couple things I was out of and had to wait to get them back in). It's so nice to look over in my office and see two big covered flats, condensation forming on the domes and all. This year I'm not getting too experimental. I've got one flat full of varieties of impatiens (a double, a mixed single, and my favorite, balsam). The other has a mix of a few things I'm trying out this year, but most of it is full of no-brainers like mint.

Then, a huge baby-shower-in-a-box I'd sent my just-about-to-burst friend Antonia arrived in the literal nick of time. It should have been there Wednesday, but finally got there a few days late, with what we're thinking is about 30 hours left. I made up a mixture of vintage baby items, a few fun things (like the awesome Twink book and CD set), and a bunch of stuff I made which I can now finally write up and start the projects section with.

Next, my regular checking of the More4Less Bargain Blog paid off when I was able to use one of their super-tricky deals to get a Rio MP3/CD-R player for $29 including shipping. (Not to mention a free Harry Potter PC game I can find a home for as part of the deal.) No more CD wallet on those 2-3 hour trips! And, no more burning vintage radio shows to audio format to listen to them in the car.

At that point, Evan got up and suggested we go out for a few hours since the weather was so nice (rainy, but warm). We headed out to Jersey and hit up the Edgewater Target where I was able to get these big metal tubs I want to use as planters. I have these junky big plastic things that the previous owners of our house left behind, and I've wanted to replace them since the day we moved in, but everything I've found was either too small, too ugly, or too expensive. I saw these big enamelled "beverage tubs" for $10 at a Target a week or two ago and thought they might be great to use in the garden. Found them at this Target and went for it, picked up two green and one yellow, for basically the price of one boring oversized planter from the local Home Depot. I can't find anything like them online or I'd show them to you. (My one moment of disappointment yesterday—I wanted the David Kirk Miss Spider watering can to water my seed trays in my office, but it was sold out.)

And finally, we ended our day up at Mitsuwa where we surprisingly didn't find any stuff we wanted to buy (in the toy/magazine/book/hello kitty/dishes/etc side), but had a nice meal (predictably, I had tonkatsu) and then stocked up on foodstuffs. Food highlight (I'll spare you the boring stuff): the instant Hello Kitty cakes I love in chocolate now come in banana and melon, tried the melon last night and it was great. We got some other cool new snacks but they're downstairs and I'm too lazy to go and check on what they are. One is called "chocolate pie", by Lotte, sort of a puff-pastry cookie with chocolate inside (didn't see that coming, did ya?); the other are these little chocolate and macadamia nut mushroom caps on cookie stems. Very cute. Evan also surprised me with a special Wagashi from the Minamoto Kitchoan. The one he got me isn't listed on their site, and I don't remember what it's called, but it's a plum wine jelly with a whole plum and gold leaf flecks in it. Mmmm.

And today's a bit of a loss, we have a family function to go to that'll kill our worktime today, but we should at least get a really good meal out of it!

Thursday, February 27, 2003

He really was the best neighbor

What can I say that everyone isn't already saying? Mr. Rogers was a second father to almost every North American under about 40, and in some cases he was the only substitute for a father some kids ever had. We were talking just last week about how hard it would be on people when someday he passed away, and we were right, it's as upsetting as we thought it would be, apparently to the whole country. But instead of reading any more people's thoughts on his death, I'd like it if everyone went and celebrated his life instead, by visiting his own non-profit company, Family Communications, where you can read tons of info, and even buy excellently made toys and puppets (yes, puppets!) of the Neighborhood characters; or PBS' own Mr. Roger's site, which has a fantastic gallery of moments from Fred Roger's life, including video clips.

And did you know that there's a touring children's museum exhibit? Or a life-size Neighborhood? (We'd hoped to go there on our way to or from Pittsburgh if we had kept going to the con there.)

Mr. Rogers, may you stay on television forever.

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