I have lots of creative ideas. Most of them are pretty awful (case in point: “Supes totes soup totes,” tote bags for soup), but I generally believe in following creative sparks or inclinations, and seeing where they go. Sometimes those sparks pay off; other times … not so much.
I try to give the “good ideas” time to grow. Case in point: One Song Per Day. As I got older, and was cut off from the music industry, I realized I’d become detached from new music. Music discovery can be a challenge for an adult whose work/life commitments make it difficult to scour for new music, let alone find the time and money to go to shows. My solution was a music blog that featured a new song every weekday. It was done for myself, and (in theory) aging music fans like me.
Relatively speaking, it was a lot of work; probably 10 hours’ worth per week. But I thought I was on to something, so I kept pushing the blog and myself. Beyond that, I was spending a minimum of $10/week on songs, for streaming use and for future consideration. And after all the work, thought and writing … no one paid attention. I tried to augment the blog with a daily “recap” feature on Rivet, but the referral metrics were astonishingly low. In short, I created a dud. And once it stopped being a point of passion for me, it was time to “audible” and move on.
Rather than putting a bullet in the blog outright, I decided to put the blog “on hiatus,” to see if anyone noticed. That was October 14. Since then, I’ve received not one email or tweet about it. Not a “hey, when are you coming back,” or “I want to hear more music!” My decision was the right one. Time to move on and embrace the next “big idea” (which I’m convinced is THIS).
(If you were a fan of the blog, thank you so much for reading! I appreciate it.)
I don’t get tailgating. It’s bullying, only behind the wheel.
It’s a behavior that creates unnecessary stress for a driver and his victim, and could easily lead to an accident. Or in Chicago, a shooting.
I was encouraged by this video that’s been making the rounds this week. A (supernaturally fast) bike rider in Skokie was being tailgated on Oakton Street, and a local cop took notice.
If you’re a habitual tailgater, just stop, okay?
Since late last year, I’ve been working as a reporter for Rivet News Radio. As I work each morning to write and produce news stories, it’s critical that I pronounce every name, country and concept correctly. That frequently leads me to do a little online research.
A few months ago, I wanted to be certain I was correctly pronouncing the name of Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos. A quick Google search led me to a bunch of results, and the first video link on the page was this “pronouncer.”
It was wildly and intentionally wrong (the video’s incorrect pronunciation: Jeef BEE zohs; correct pronunciation: Jeff BAY zohs). I laughed my ass off and played it again. Then once more. And then I brought my co-workers in the studio to listen with me.
Fascinated, we started listening to other videos done by the creator, Run for the Cube. They were all completely insane. Since then, I’ve become obsessed with the Run for the Cube’s “work,” such as it is. Besides pronouncing well-known names, he does on-demand pronunciations for five bucks a pop. I shelled out the cash to have two co-workers immortalized. Here, for your amusement, are Rob La Frentz and Chris Mezyk. (Rob returned the favor last week. Here’s my name mispronounced.)
Most recently, I’ve discovered that Run for the Cube has branched out to recording twisted, uncomfortable, “I’m not sure I should be watching this” product reviews. This one manages to be unsettling without doing anything certifiably inappropriate.
I needed to learn more about the Oz behind the curtain. I recently tracked down the man behind Run For the Cube and asked him for an interview. His response was the second best thing to actually getting the interview: he politely passed, and said he likes to use the free time he has to focus on his “craft,” and chooses to let his work speak for itself.
(My C2E2 audio wrap-up for Rivet Radio is at the bottom of the page)
Like Giant-Man or Colossal Boy, C2E2 just keeps … growing.
My legs hurt from walking the massive showroom floor. My feet resent me. Each year, C2E2 carves out more real estate than it had the previous year, creating more space to walk and explore. For those of us who eat lots of pizza while reading comic books, the brief flirtation with cardio fitness probably isn’t a bad thing.
Though the space was bigger this time around, the starpower wasn’t. Outside of Stan Lee, the celebrity guests weren’t necessarily “must-see” or “must-meets.” And from a “why wouldn’t they be there?” perspective, it seems strange that DC Comics was again absent from the showroom floor this year.
So what brings the (estimable) crowds to McCormick Place? Could it be that the idea of the event is bigger than the details? It’s certainly been enough to keep me hooked these past few years; the panels and autograph signings always seem like too much work to consider.
I went on Sunday this year: “Kids Day.” This was the last time my son could get in on the deeply-discounted $5 ticket (To his disgust, he absolutely hated the fact that the Kids Day laminate featured a Hello Kitty design). You take your breaks where you can get ‘em.
We went with another family this year (hi, Jack), which helped balance out the costs of visiting the con. I normally plan to spend a max of $100, and fail miserably. Between this year’s two-family entourage, and the fact that my son saved his money and paid for his own stuff this time around, I actually came in under budget. My total expenses for the day are itemized at the end of the post.
I tend to get the most out of walking Artists Alley each year. It’s an oddball mix of known professionals and totally green artists and publishers. There were hidden surprises in practically every row this year, like Eisner Award-winning writer Mark Waid (Kingdom Come, the Flash). I had him sign a Daredevil comic for me–five bucks all in.
As for the retail side of things, I can’t resist trade paperbacks. My favorite vendor at the con had a massive display of paperback and hardcover collections, all for 50% off. I walked away with three of the b&w, reprint-only “Marvel Essentials” titles–they’re my favorite cheap way to build up a nice reading library.
I’ve been tempted in the past, but this year I finally bought an autographed print from Neal Adams. The man pretty much created the modern Batman, so I figured $20 was the least I owed him.
Nostalgia’s a powerful thing. I stopped in my tracks whenI stumbled across this display of Mego action figures. I owned every one of them when I was a kid. Every. One. And now the Falcon’s worth $450.
And hey, let’s hear it for cosplay, a comics convention favorite. Is there a Deadpool in the house? Let’s hear it for Li’l Deadpool!
Batgirl was pretty fabulous:
Captain America takes his job seriously:
Walking on stilts at a crowded convention can’t be easy:
The Rocketeer squeezes out pulpy goodness!
Not the droid I was looking for:
Next year, I’m committing myself to all three days. I’m going to plan a sensible (but allowing for fun) budget, and wear much more comfortable shoes.
In case you’re wondering, here’s how this year’s expenses broke down:
|Admission (self)||Free (Press)|
|Essential Avengers Vol.2||$7|
|Spiro’s Greek Myths #1 (indie publisher/Artists Alley)||$5|
|McCormick Place parking||$21|
|Essential Peter Parker Vol. 1||$7|
|Essential Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 4||$7|
|G-Man #1 (signed by Chris Giarrusso)||$1|
|Pre-show donuts at Glazed & Confused||$18|
|Signed Neal Adams print-Batman #244||$20|
|Signed Mark Waid Daredevil comic||$5|
Rivet Radio audio recap:
Previous years’ coverage:
I just made what had to be my 20th trip for barbecue this winter, and I’m pretty sure I need a break. I have pulled pork where muscle should be, and sauce pumping where blood once circulated.
My plan is to try to eat vegetables again, if only for a little while, before again throwing myself at the mercy of brisket and baked beans.
Chicago never used to be a barbecue town; at least not when I was growing up. The only place I remember from my youth is Russell’s in Elmwood Park; my grandparents used to take me there all the time. After making a few nostalgia-driven trips there over the past year or so, I discovered that the food doesn’t really live up to the memories (the sauce, while tasty, is thinner than water).
It’s crazy to me that there are now dozens of barbecue choices in the Chicago area. It’s as if the city finally came to its senses and said, “Hey, we’re a fat city, and this style of cooking involves lots of meat slathered in sauce, accompanied by high-calorie side dishes. How could have we ignored this for so long?”
The best barbecue discovery I’ve made over the past year is Real Urban Barbecue in Highland Park. It’s been worth the trip up 41 for burnt ends and sides that are as good as, or better than, what you’ll find at most of the BBQ joints in the city.
I still like Smoque, though I haven’t been enjoying the sauce as much lately. Too much of it can kill a meal.
I liked the entrees, but hated the sides, at Rub’s Backcountry Smokehouse. It was recently and briefly shut down, but just reopened for business. Not a bad option for the far north side of the city, but the room fills up fast.
And what about Lillie’s Q? Holy crap, those homemade sauces are amazing (the “Smoky” is a killer, pleases-everybody-at-the-table, gotta-buy-some-for-home sauce).
To all the other places I’ve been in and out of, including Smokin’ Woodys, Smoke Daddy, Bub City and Hecky’s … it’s not you; it’s me. I just need a little break from barbecue. I swear I’ll be back.
(Update, 4/28/14-I don’t know who I was kidding. The break didn’t last long at all. I’ve probably had BBQ five times since I posted this last month.)
How fat is your Bitcoin wallet? What’s that? You still don’t “get” Bitcoin? You’re not alone. And you may just want to stay away from it at this point.
Just weeks ago, Mt. Gox, the web’s biggest Bitcoin exchange, was essentially wiped off the internet. At the time, it was learned that 850,000 Bitcoins were missing, adding up to over 450 million real dollars. This weekend, the blog of Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles was hacked, revealing account information from the Mt. Gox database. In a show of Bitcoin user solidarity, the hacker(s) wrote on Karpeles’ blog, “no user database dumps have been included … Lots of people, including us, lost money and coins.”
The message on the hacked blog opens with, “First and foremost, this is not Mark Karpeles. Fuck that bitch-titted motherfucker.” Yep, people who lost money are angry.
The CEO of another Bitcoin exchange was found dead two weeks ago. If you believe the internet, it was suicide. If you trust official sources, the death was “unnatural,” and “no foul play” is suspected.
And then there’s Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto. Newsweek just outed him as the alleged creator of Bitcoin. He denies it. The Washington Post says that if he is the guy, he has good reason for denial.
The way I look at Bitcoin is this: imagine you meet someone that seems really attractive. The person is open, accessible–someone you think might have potential. The problem is, you’re not sure about the person’s parents, or where that person came from. And the person’s been linked to sketchy behavior and people.
The person may not be marriage material, and you know your friends will never understand. And that leaves you with a nagging concern, a voice inside your head that says, “maybe this isn’t for me.”
That’s Bitcoin. The promise never outweighs the evidence, or that gut feeling.