Monday, October 31, 2005

Business Frightful for Some Haunted Houses

I hadn't realized that Kansas City is quite the mecca for "haunted attractions". I just assumed that every big city had several dilapidated multi-story warehouses that have been converted into these things, but apparently Kansas City is tops in this category. I visited my share of them as a teenager, usually more than one in a night -- it was a pretty fun way to blow through quite a lot of cash.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Whatever your opinion of the war, this first-person account of a reservist preparing for deployment to Iraq is engrossing. I'm looking forward to more dispatches from this writer.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The new NBA dress code

This quote from an LA Times article (via Yahoo) was just to funny to pass up:

"Marcus Camby of the Denver Nuggets, whose contract will pay him nearly $50 million over the next five years, told an interviewer before the code was imposed, 'I don't see it happening unless every NBA player is given a stipend to buy clothes'".

No, of course the NBA doesn't have an image problem.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Bill Berry reunites with R.E.M. for wedding gig

If I could be a rock star, I'd be Bill Berry. Seriously. This is a guy who was smart enough to figure it out: work hard for 15 years, enjoy a ridiculous amount of both commercial and critical success (not to mention a ridiculous amount of cash)...then quit at the very top and spend the rest of your life indulging in silly hobbies. (In Bill's case, those hobbies include farming, golf, and becoming a sushi chef). And maybe reunite with your still-working bandmates for an occasional wedding gig, why not as long as you get paid in free beer.

I mean, a person needs only so much adulation. There are only so many times you can tour the arenas of the world and actually enjoy it. Rock and roll is for the young -- why bother trying to extend your "career" to the point where virtually no one cares? A life of leisure sounds far more attractive.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Everyday Heroes

Back in April, I blogged about a terrific webcomic called Mom's Cancer. Brian Fies used the medium of a comic book (with surprising effectiveness) to tell the true story of his mother's battle with metastatic lung cancer, along with the impact her struggle had on the members of her family.

The comic went on to have great success. In July it won the Eisner Award for "Best Digital Comic" (and was the first-ever winner of that new category), and "Mom's Cancer" will be published in book form in Spring 2006. (You will want a copy -- it's that good). There's even a stuffed animal version of "Mom's" dog "Hero" in the works. I had been following these and other events by reading the excellent blogs of Brian's "kid sis" Elisabeth, Brian, and occasionally even "Mom" Fies herself.

This past Tuesday -- the date that my own father died of cancer in 1982 -- I was doubly disheartened to learn of "Mom" Fies' passing. While she essentially beat her cancer, she had continued to experienced complications and setbacks related to the after-effects of both the disease and its treatment.

So my thoughts and condolences go out to the Fies family. They're really an amazing bunch. Of course I don't know them personally, but I've certainly connected with them as a reader, as have many others. I feel for their loss, I thank them for sharing their lives in such a remarkable way, and I look forward to keeping up with them in the future.

Skip this blog, go directly to Slate

I realize that it's rather lame of me to link to multiple Slate articles in one entry, but hey, you get what you pay for with this blog.

Speaking of paying, here's a very sobering preview of your home heating bills this winter. Holy crap. Our leaky, creaky 70-year-old house is about to get hit hard. We live here because we like the "character", but character doesn't keep your nose warm at night. We may have to pick up a space heater and start sleeping in one room.

Slate also has a profile of legendary online columnist Bill Simmons aka "The Sports Guy", who has a new book out. Like thousands of others, I've been reading and forwarding his columns for years. Several of them are among the funniest things I've ever read on the web. But I have to say, Slate's profile is pretty lacking. It provides no examples of his writing other than a phrase or two, doesn't link to his column, nor does it provide any guaranteed-to-be-glowing testimonials from Jimmy Kimmel or Adam Carolla. WTF?

It does an okay job of explaining his success. Unlike the typical sports columnist who watches the game from the press box then spends his time in the locker room and post-game press conferences, Simmons writes from the perspective of a regular fan. He'll watch the game on TV, then he'll write about (and riff on) not only the game but also the announcers, the commercials, the mid-game phone conversations with his buddies, the befuddling comments from his wife, etc. And he works in dozens of pop culture references, usually from shows that we've all watched on cable way more times than we'd care to admit publicly. Some columns are barely sports-related at all: he'd just as soon spend the entire space talking about the "Rocky" or "Karate Kid" movies, MTV's "The Real World", "Saved By the Bell", the genius of Will Ferrell, or all of the above mixed into three paragraphs. It sounds like too easy of a formula, but he manages to keep it fresh, smart and actually insightful. Basically, he was blogging before there was a word for it.