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Having a newborn in the house is a lot like being in the Navy. You do more before 8 a.m. than most people do all day. Often because you’ve been up since at least 11 the night before.

Now that he’s a little over a week old, Liam is starting to settle into his routine (eat, poop, sleep, poop, sleep, pee, poop, poop, eat, sleep, poop, pee, etc.), and Erin and I are slowly becoming able to establish something that looks almost like human life again. The first two or three days at home were probably the most overwhelming of our lives (especially Erin... sleeplessness and extreme lower abdominal discomfort are never a good combination), but we’re becoming accustomed to our new world order a little more with each day. Some nights, we’ve even gotten 3 to 4 hours of sleep in a row. But then there comes a night like last night, where nothing will satisfy him at all, which definitely reminds us who the boss around here is for the time being.

One huge plus of all this, though, thanks to Liam’s unworldly wailing come time for diaper changes and sponge baths (two things he really seems to hate), is that we finally have something to drown out the noise of the neighbors’ forever-screeching parrots (which sound more like the pterodactyl from Johnny Quest than any pet bird I’ve ever encountered). So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.

Another positive side – he seems to already enjoy the Beatles, Red Sox games and Food Network (or at least he doesn’t fuss in the presence of these things). I think we’ve got a keeper here.

So obviously, as the adjustment period continues, blogging will probably be pretty light. I’ll pop in as time allows, but I don’t expect time to allow as often as I’d like, so even once-a-week updates may be wishful thinking, but we’ll see. Until next time, wish me luck and lots of sleep!

Little known pregnancy facts and more!

Little Known Fact About Pregnancy That No One Ever Tells You About #27: In the late stages of pregnancy - we're talking way late stages here, like, less than a week out from the due date - absolutely no one in the world wants to hear from the two of you unless you're on your way to the hospital.

Here is the beginning of every phone call Erin and/or myself have made to a friend or family member this week:

Bill or Erin: Hello!

Person Being Called: Hey! OH MY GOD, it's time isn't it?!? You're having the baby!

B or E: Unfortunately no, not yet. Just calling to say hi and see what's up.

PBC (disappointed, like finding out they're getting a rectal thermometer for Christmas, when they really wanted the G.I. Joe aircraft carrier): Oh. Um, okay. Hi.

Now, the arrival of a baby is a pretty huge event, and it's quite flattering that so many people are so excited about Liam's imminent birth, but being greeted with the type of warmth usually reserved for phone calls from you college loan officer? A little off-putting, I'm not gonna lie.

This isn't the sort of thing they cover in childbirth classes, so consider my public service to you. I'm Bill Doughty, and that's One To Grow On.

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Here's more proof that you're getting old:
Pac-Man turns 25 this year.

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The Boston Red Sox honored Carlton Fisk last Monday night by officially
naming Fenway Park's left field foul pole after him. In what was probably the defining moment of his career, he hit a pretty dramatic home run that smacked off that pole in the bottom of the 12th inning in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series (against the Cincinnati Reds, appropriately enough, the Red Sox' interleague game opponent that night). Fisk hopping up the first base line, waving his arms frantically in an effort to convince the ball to stay fair, is one of the more memorable moments in the history of the Sox (and all of baseball, for that matter). Naming a foul pole probably seems like a silly thing to do, but it is historically significant to fans of Boston sports, and actually quite impressive when you consider that, IIRC, there's only one other player in all of baseball who has been similarly honored, also by the Red Sox, as it turns out: Johnny Pesky, namesake for Fenway Park's Pesky Pole in right field.

I realize how unimportant this is in the grand scheme of things, but when you grow up in the sticks of Red Sox Nation, the product of a long line of people who live and die with Sox every year (except last year, when it was nothing but live), this sort of thing matters.

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Zombie Tom finds just about every zombie-flavored rock song imaginable for his special Mixed Bag 2 CD (and yes, zombie-flavored means "tastes like brains.").

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R.I.P. Lane Smith, who was, for my money, the best Perry White ever (even with the Elvis fixation).

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Fun fact learned from a History Channel documentary on popular American foods I saw over the weekend: peanut butter and bacon sandwiches were once so popular that Oscar Meyer produced a bacon/peanut butter combo spread. And there are still people who think the 1950s were a good idea.

I don't even want to imagine what peanut butter and bacon tastes like. My 6th grade Home Ec teacher once forced me to eat part of a Peanut Butter Pinwheel, which was bread rolled up with PB and Deviled Ham(!), and that was vile enough. Certainly the worst food I've ever tasted by a longshot. Why I didn't then turn around and sock that lady in the gut I'll never know.

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Lastly, always remember: Mr. Mind has a posse.

Spread the word!

Feel free to use this (admittedly ugly) banner.

Hey look, Bill can read!

Here's some comics-related stuff I've read recently. Gotta keep up that "comics blogger" cred up if I want to keep listing updates on the Comics Weblog Update-o-Matic, after all!

Marvel Treasury Edition 16 – The Defenders: I forgot I even owned this until I found it in a box the other week, and I don’t recall ever reading it (I think a friend gave it to me about 10 years back, and then I promptly forgot about it), so I figured I’d give it a shot. I’m glad I did. This reprints some of the earlier adventures of the super-team that wasn’t, including their first story and the series introductions of Valkyrie and Nighthawk. The plots are all pretty formulaic, even by 70s Marvel standards, but it’s the basic premise of the series that makes it original and worth reading. The Defenders aren’t just the “non-team team,” you get the impression that early on, Dr. Strange, Namor and the Hulk really don’t even like each other all that much (not that any of them were renowned for their social graces in the first place). The Avengers, the FF and the X-Men, despite their dysfunctions, were essentially substitute family units. The Defenders were like a group of vastly different, antagonistic college students assigned to work on a project together; if they can just finish the task at hand without killing each other, they can go their separate ways and be happy again. It’s such a great, fun concept, and the next logical step of the “super-heroes with regular problems” theme Marvel established in the 60s. I need to get my hands on that Essential Defenders book now.

The Sandwalk Adventures: Erin asked me what this was about. I paused a few seconds while I thought about the best way to describe it, and took a deep breath as I was about to begin. “Oh, this is going to be weird, isn’t it? You always do that when you’re about to describe something weird.” And she’s right; it is a very weird book. It’s the story of Charles Darwin discovering that the mites living in his eyebrow follicles view him as a god, and in conversation with one of those mites, Mara, he attempts to set the record straight on life, the universe and everything by explaining his theories of evolution and natural selection. Weirder still is the fact that such a bizarrely high concept book is also cute, laugh-out-loud funny and surprisingly touching, and if you’re not careful, you may just learn something before it’s done. Biology professor/cartoonist Jay Hosler delivers a book that gives us a decent “highlight reel” biography of Darwin, thorough yet easy to digest descriptions of his theories, and meditations on the natures of science and religion (how they meet, how they clash, how they manage to co-exist). At the same time, it’s extremely entertaining and appropriate for all ages. It’s a creative tightrope walk to be sure, but Hosler pulls it off brilliantly. Comics – hell, entertainment in general – rarely gets better than this.

True Story Swear To God – This One Goes To 11: Let me tell you a story about Tom Beland. When Erin and I were getting married, I decided that I wanted to get copies of the first TSSTG book, Chances Are, as gifts for the wedding party. We spent close to a year in college separated by thousands of miles while Erin studied in Austria, so we could relate to Tom and Lily’s story in some small way, and we loved the book and wanted to share it with others. Ideally, I wanted the books signed, so I contacted Tom through the Sequential Tart message boards (we were both regulars there at the time) and arranged a time to talk to him on the phone and see if we could set this up. I called him after work one night (around 11:30ish), and ended up on the phone for close to 2 hours, talking about comics, comparable life experiences, growing up with easily mispronouncable last names, all that sort of stuff. Total fanboy glee conversation for me. Anyway, he says he can handle my request no problem, maybe he’ll even sketch a little, too. A few weeks later, I get an email saying that he decided to “kick things up a notch” for me, and I’ll see what he means when I get the books. They arrive, and I open the front cover of each to find not only personal greetings for each of the people (myself and Erin included), but full color drawings as well. Just absolutely beautiful stuff. In fact, my best man (and fellow fanboy) Dan called it one of the best gifts he ever received. It's one of mine, too.
Why am I telling you this story? Because I can’t think of anything to say about this book that a million other people haven’t already said (it’s as good as you hear, and in fact, probably better), but Tom Beland is an amazingly cool guy, and I will praise the man and his work to anyone who’ll listen for the rest of my days in return for the unbelievably cool favor he did for my wife and I.

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Why yes, I did take down the "Support Rann" banner that was residing at the bottom of the sidebar! I'm not a turncoat, nor have I been a secret Thanagarian double agent all along. I simply read the first issue.

Yeah, not so good.

So I've decided to throw my support behind a new player in the field, someone I can respect, someone I can look down to, someone who can wriggle in and take over while the Rannys and the Thanagannarannalarians are too busy calling each other doodyheads to notice: Mr. Mind!

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Even Lex Luthor agrees: this worm will have his turn!

And now a word from our sponsor (with Special Guest Villain... JOHN LENNON!)

John Lennon: musician, genius, sworn enemy of athletic footwear.

Also, AAU Shuperstar?!? AAUUUUGGHHH! Someone actually got paid to come up with that. Doesn't it just make you crazy?

Grill of my dreams.

Mid-April and the entirety of May were cold and rainy nearly every day (and certainly every weekend), and once June hits, BOOM, hazy hot & humid. Typical New England weather change, really - extended winter gives way to premature August with no transitional "happy medium" period (often called "Spring" by those people who actually get to experience it) at all to prepare us. Oh well, at least I can finally get out and use the grill.

My beautiful grill. Sigh... I think I'll call her "Josie."

Erin's parents got me a new Char Broil for my birthday, and it's mostly a thing of beauty. The only drawback is the igniter. Press the button and the sideburner will pop on just fine, but it just can't get the main burners going for whatever reason. Very frustrating. We even tried replacing the electrode (the astonishingly helpful customer service people at Char Broil sent us a replacement kit, on their dime, no less), and it worked exactly once. It's a frustrating problem, but pretty easy to work around until my father-in-law and I can get it fixed for real (if ever). I just open the gas bottle, stick one of those grill lighters through one of the bottom exhaust vents, turn on the burner gas jets and pray I don't set my head on fire.

(And yes, I'm one of those gas grill heathens. I agree wholeheartedly that charcoal grilling does indeed taste better, as well as making the neighborhood smell terrific, but I don't have the time, patience or general inclination needed to keep the damn fire going. Alton Brown would be so disappointed in me, I'm sure.)

But that one little problem aside, the grill is a thing of beauty, and I got to break it in right last weekend with the year's first cookout. Nothing fancy, just some burgers, potatoes and Bill's Semi-Famous Bratwurst (formerly known as Fishy Pat's Semi-Famous Bratwurst, but he lives 3 states away so I can now claim local ownership), but definitely a great note to start things off on, especially the brats, which you all should make for yourselves sometime. Here's how:
  1. Get yourself some bratwurst. If you can get the straight-from-the-butcher-shop, uncooked variety, great. If not, a package or two of regular ol' Johnsonville brats will do just fine.
  2. Poke some fork holes in the bratwurst and boil them in beer for 20-30 minutes. The amount of beer needed depends on the number of sausage being cooked and the size of the pot you're using. Generally, one package of Johnsonville bratwurst (5 per package) requires 3-4 cans of beer. If you're feeding a lot of people, you may need a whole six pack or more. You can use any kind of beer you like for this, but given the amount you may need, and the fact that you won't get to drink any of it, it's wiser (and certainly more cost-efficient) to use, say, Natural Ice, than something like Magic Hat #9 or Newcastle Brown Ale.
  3. After boiling, the bratwurst will be the sickest, most unappetizing gray color you've ever see. This is perfectly normal. Throw 'em on a Medium-to-High heat grill to add color and those ever-popular grill marks. These things have been fairly thoroughly soaked in alcohol, so be careful of flare-ups. Length of grilling time is based on personal preference. And if you like them best on the well-done side like I do, close the grill cover to really put the spurs to 'em.

Whenever I've made these for people in the past, they've always gone over really well (usually leading to a pile of uneaten burgers and dogs). It's amazing to me that something so tasty can also be so simple. There's a million variations you can do during the cooking process, I'm sure, but I like to keep it pretty simple. If you do decide to experiment, let me know what you did and how it all worked out.

So that's how you wanna play, huh?

Apparently, this whole "Rann vs. Thanagar" thing runs deeper than I thought. My latest order from Discount Comic Book Service came yesterday, and I was shorted my copy of Adam Strange #8. And yet Rann/Thanagar War #1, released the same day, was present and accounted for, as if to taunt me. So, obviously, this can only mean that the Thanagarians have seized control of the DCBS through nefarious doings of some kind (probably hitting the staff with maces).

Well played, Thanagar, well played. But two can play at this game. I have connections, too, you know, and from this point on... NO LIBRARY BOOKS FOR THANAGAR! Not a one. You just try and see if I don't mean it.

Not that your run of the mill Thanagarian probably even knows what a book is. This is the race, after all, that has yet to invent sandwiches or doors. But on the off chance they do manage to develop some form of basic intelligence (the secret is to bang the rocks together, guys), well, they'll be S.O.L. come storytime, won't they?