And now, back to the countdown.

Lots of people have been posting about music lately, whether it's in response to the Spin 100 list or under their own initiative (too tired and lazy to link to examples, but trust me, they're out there). Naturally, it got me to thinking about music on my own terms, so for no other reason than because I wanted to (and I'm a compulsive bandwagon jumper-onner), I've compiled this list of what I consider to be my Top 25 Favorite Songs Ever... Right Now, Anyway.

Standard caveat of "Your Mileage May Vary" applies, 'natch. Here goes:

  1. Saturday Morning – The Eels: Everytime I hear this song, it’s like I’m 8 again.
  2. Feelin’ Massachusetts – The Juliana Hatfield 3: Perfectly describes what it feels like to grow up in a town you can’t wait to escape.
  3. New York City – They Might Be Giants: TMBG drop the rampant cleverness for a minute and sing an excellent, truly sweet love song.*
  4. Just Like Heaven – The Cure: This song will always remind me of Erin, so it’s a good one.
  5. Alec Eiffel – The Get Up Kids: The rare case of a cover surpassing the original (which is a damn good song, too, and probably my very favorite Pixies song, so consider the original #5a).
  6. King of the Road – Piebald: Probably the only love song ever written about a bus. Wonderful stuff.
  7. Yellow Submarine – The Beatles: Probably my favorite Beatles song. Certainly the one most likely to make me smile.
  8. If I Can’t Change Your Mind (solo mix) – Sugar: A heartbreaking song to begin with, made even more powerful when it’s stripped down to just Bob Mould and an acoustic guitar.
  9. El Scorcho – Weezer: So angsty and full of longing. Plenty of occasions in my life that I could relate to this.
  10. Dear God - XTC: Just a very powerful (and more than a little controversial) song.
  11. Eleanore – The Turtles: Contains my most favorite line in all of pop music, “You’re my pride and joy, et cetera.” Lazy writing or pop genius? I vote for the latter.
  12. Out There – Blake Babies: What is it about Juliana Hatfield and songs of suburban ennui.
  13. All For Swinging You Around – The New Pornographers: Pure power-pop confection.
  14. Pleasant Valley Sunday – The Monkees: Yes, I was a bored, suburban kid. Why do you ask?
  15. God Only Knows - The Beach Boys: No real reason. I just think this one is nice.
  16. Rubberband Man – The Spinners: I must groove to this song when it comes on the radio, no matter where I am. I have no rhythm to speak of, so it’s quite a sight to behold.
  17. Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival: Because A.) You need a CCR song somewhere, and B.) this song is just as relevant today as it was when it was writte, unfortunately.
  18. Theme from Shaft – Isaac Hayes: Deep down, every white kid wants to be Shaft.
  19. Falling for the First Time – Barenaked Ladies: The only song I know to celebrate how it sometimes feels really good to fail miserably.
  20. UHF – Weird Al Yankovic: Al proves he knows how to rock on his own terms.
  21. Polyester Bride – Liz Phair: Not her most powerful or important song by a longshot, but probably her catchiest, and I’m a sucker for good hook.
  22. Rockin’ the Suburbs – Ben Folds: Nice little musical complaint about all the “angry white boy” music that was popular at the time.
  23. Let's Go - The Apples in Stereo: Another piece of power pop confection at its finest.
  24. Cannonball - The Breeders: Pretty much the theme song for my senior year of high school.
  25. Little Plastic Castle - Ani Difranco: Ani rails against those critics (and fans) who try to pigeonhole her into one particular facet of her identity. I may not enjoy the musical direction she's headed in since this particular album (named for the song), but I respect her right to explore, and this song is a major reason why.

*Tim informed me that this is actually a cover of a song by a band called Cub, not a TMBG original. I haven't heard that version, but I will ignorantly declare this one to be superior, so make that two covers I like better than the originals.

I am a shameless shill.

I've got more stuff up on eBay right now, which you can check out here. At the moment, it's a couple of different comics-related trade paperbacks (Spidey vs Venom, Superman For All Seasons, Love & Rockets Vol 1: Music for Mechanics) and an obsolete, inexplicably popular letter carrier's badge.

In the coming weeks, I'll be putting up some more comics TPBs (some Andi Watson, my extra copy of True Story Swear To God Vol. 1, maybe that Finder book I never did read, and more superhero stuff), some regular floppy comics I'm clearing out from the collection, some Atari games, an action figure or two... all kinds of stuff. We need the space, baby constantly needs new pairs of just about everything, and Daddy would like to be able to afford to go to Wizard World Boston in the fall (even if the folks at Wizard are being dicks about the just-announced Atlanta show). So bid early and bid often!

I'll also post the link over on the sidebar, because I'm not above that kind of whoring, either.

A whole lot of not much.

R.I.P. Jim Aparo, comics legend and, for my money, the best Batman artist ever. His Batman is the one I see in my mind when I think of Batman, the same way I think of Curt Swan's Superman, Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four or John Romita's Spider-Man. Laura has a pretty complete rundown of all the various bloggyverse tributes to the man. He'll definitely be missed.

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R.I.P. James Doohan, who could've really hated being known as Scotty for the rest of his life, but opted instead to make the best of things and have a damn good time with it. My friend Josh saw Doohan on a college speaking tour a few years back, and apparently the group hosting him took him out and got him drunk beforehand. I hear it was one hell of a lecture, and that this man really didn't care for Shatner. Anyway, he, too, will be missed, and it's nice to see he'll be getting an appropriate send-off.

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Via Dorian, the single greatest line in comic book history (from G.I. Joe (vol. 1) #28):

"Yahoo! Thems ain't anarchists! Thems is robots!!"

Larry Hama deserves to be made king of something for that.

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Here at the college, they host a bunch of different events, camps and conferences from May through August, so we get a lot of different types of people we don't usually see wandering through here all summer long. At the moment, the place is crawling with teenagers from all over the world who are here for some sort of English language camp or something. With the exception of a few who insist on running everywhere, they're good kids, but looking at the group of them, you start to notice some differences very quickly. Not a single one of the kids from Asia looks a day over 12. The European kids, however, look like, well... jailbait, quite frankly.

Why is that? Is there something in the water that slows down the growth of kids in the Far East? Is puberty just inordinately kind to European teens? Is the "awkward phase" a strictly American invention? I'd really like to know.

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Is Hotmail down? I haven't been able to get into my account for days.

The Man From a Town Called Legoland

I have given it a lot of though, and I've determined that this is my ideal presidential candidate. He has the intellect, moral fiber, humility and eloquence of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, as well the guts, determination, strong will and faith in the American ideal possessed by Marvel's Star-Spangled Avenger, Captain America. And he's a Lego. Because they're fun.

Lego Captain Abe in '08... because you already know he'll be better than anyone else they put up. Posted by Picasa

Comic Book Ruminations of the Nerdy Kind (as if there's any other type)

So Krypton orbited a red sun and had a gravitational pull many times stronger than that of Earth, right? Now, my science may be off here, so please feel free to correct me, but that leads me to believe that this here star (Rao?) was a Red Giant on the way to supernova (a trip that can take billions of years, but still). So, whether or not Krypton blew up on its own, weren’t the Kryptonians eventually and thoroughly screwed either way?

Yes, this is precisely the sort of thing I think about during 3 a.m. feedings. Why do you ask?

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I decided to read The Dark Knight Strikes Again over the weekend. I picked up the first two issues and liked them well enough, but for whatever reason I never got around to picking up the third until last summer, when I found it in somebody’s dollar box at Wizard World Philly. I figured with all the hoo-hah surrounding Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All-Star Batman this week (which I won’t be able to read for myself until my DCBS shipment comes at the end of the month), now might be a good time to go back and give DK2 a whirl. I figured that since I did seem to like it at the time, it’d be fun to go back and finally finish off the story, and maybe become one of those rare few that actually defend it as a decent work.

That all fell apart about halfway through that long-ignored third issue. My bad. I apologize for trying. You’re right, Internet, and I’m sorry.

I do believe I understand Miller’s intent here, though. I’m definitely from the school of thought that believes this his karmic bitchslap to all those people who took The Dark Knight Returns entirely too seriously, and that he intentionally made DK2 as bright and over-the-top as DKR was grim & gritty. And I think this story was a prescient in its own way as the original was. DKR said (in my opinion) that that the old heroes (and, by extension, everything they stand for) just don’t fulfill the needs of the American society of the 80s and 90s anymore and will be replaced by something much darker (I didn’t agree with that, but that’s what I got out of it). DK2 said that American society is hungry for a return to the days of yore, and that okay, fine, we can have our old heroes back. But if you think they aren’t going to have been seriously warped by the events of the last two decades, you’ve got another thing coming there, Sonny Jim, because even the silliest Silver Age story can now have a creepy and sinister undercurrent that can be mined for future stories. The world’ll be brighter, sure, but don’t expect to get your fun back.

So in the end, I don’t believe DK2 ultimately worked as a story, but as a message, hey, mission accomplished.

Of course, I'm probably overthinking this. Maybe it just sucked.

That's how I roll.

East Coast Bloggaz

Trusty Plinko Stick is now a proud member of the ECB - The East Coast Bloggaz. We're sort of like the nWo, just without the locker room politics and rampant steroid abuse.

Yup, another lazy linkblogging post.

My local Wendy’s now sells Mr. Pibb… sorry, I mean Pibb Xtra. I think I’d like to throttle the genius who thought the kewl name change was necessary ("Pibb Xtra – TO THE EXTREME! Phear it’s l33t soda skillz, yo!"), but at least it tastes the same. For the uninitiated, it’s the Coke version of Dr. Pepper, but a little sweeter, less harshly carbonated and mmm mmm good (though not everyone shares my opinion). And any time you can get some Pibb, regardless of nomenclature, north of the Mason-Dixon line, it’s a reason to celebrate. Happy dancing will commence shortly.

Why yes, it does take frighteningly little to make me happy.

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Tom the Dog has discovered the four-color narcotic that is Don Rosa’s “Life & Times of Scrooge McDuck,” and now he sounds hooked for life. Exxxx-cellent. One of us! One of us!

Seriously, though, it's a really excellent piece of work (as is about 95% of the rest of Rosa's Disney output, but this is far and away the best), and y'all should run - not walk - and pick up Gemstone's new collected edition of this story right now. It'll make you happy.

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Alton Brown’s got a blog! Short, sweet and, unsurprisingly, very funny entries on food (duh), book signings, identity theft, entertainment and just about anything else that crosses his mind, all delivered in an astonishingly large font (is he concerned about the visually impaired in his audience?). His open letter to Tom Cruise is particularly amusing.

And on a related note, check out Alton’s Periodic Table of Essential Kitchen Elements. I don’t know if I agree that you truly need every item on the list (I have a stove and a perfectly serviceable tea kettle, so an electric kettle is really more of a luxury than a necessity), but most of them would definitely be handy to have around. Surprisingly, though, he leaves off something that I think would be downright mandatory, the item he has often called the only uni-tasker he allows in his kitchen: a fire extinguisher.

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Johanna’s roast beef hash recipe sounds pretty tasty, but the initial recipe that eventually yielded the hash sounds even more delicious. I plan on trying this as soon as the local market has a sale on a nice chuck or eye roast. Gotta love crock pot recipes – simple and tasty.

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For no good reason, Part 1: Just because I think it looks cool, here’s more information than you’ll ever need about the Lincoln Futura (the car that became the Batmobile).

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For no good reason, Part 2: The Reggie Bar. I remember having my dad buy me these back in the day, even though I don’t recall actually liking them all that much. I think there was a period of about 5 minutes in the late 70s where Reggie Jackson was my favorite baseball player for some reason. Thankfully, I grew out of it.

Be sure to also check out the other candy wrappers memorialized at that page, featuring the likes of the San Diego Chicken, Mr. T and Liberace, among others.

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I'm sure this has been all over the 'net a million times now, but Reasonably Clever's Mini-Mizer (a Lego minifig generator) is a lot of fun and a great time killer at work (not that I'd ever endorse such behavior).

This explains so much about the state of America today.

This is a little behind the times, but my life has been pretty baby-centric lately. Forgive me.

This story made the rounds a month or so back, talking about John Kerry and George W. Bush's respective GPAs at Yale. Kerry's cumulative grade was a 76, while Bush scored a 77. As I recall, it set off a volley of true shock and awe amongst the left side of journalism ("You mean Bush might be - GULP - smarter?") and general smugness from the right side ("I told you so! Nyaaah!").

This story bugged for a good long time, but not for either of the reasons above. Then, the other day, it hit me.

The real issue here, the one overlooked by most media coverage I encountered, isn't a "who's smarter?" thing. It is, in fact, that the two people deemed most worthy of running the country were C students! And please don't feed me any BS about how great Yale is, and that a C there is equivalent to a higher grade someplace else and blah, blah, blah. A C is a C, people (or, if you're an Objectivist, C=C), and that is, at best, merely average. And people wonder why mediocrity runs rampant in American society these days. We reward it, fer cryin' out loud! Gaaaah!

Is it too much to ask that we limit higher offices to, at the very least, a bare minimum of B+?

Some changes have been made...

and now the sidebar is screwy! But I suspect that'll work itself out as the recent batch of images I've posted (which are probably too large to begin with) slide their way off the main page and into the archives, so it's no big deal. If it has to be off-kilter in some way, I'd rather have the posts above the sidebar than vice versa. And I was getting tired of the old look around here, anyway.

Thanks to Greg Burgas, Psychbloke, and Brandy Danner, the Library Ninja for their suggestions in dealing with this.

Okay, this thing with the post being pushed below the sidebar is starting to bug me.

The kid is sleeping, but I cannot. You call that fair? Because I sure don't. Even good, old fashioned, baby-fueled exhaustion can't trump lifelong insomnia. Grrr...

Anyway, because it's 5:45 a.m. and I can't think of anything better to do with my time (except for maybe some laundry), here are some quick, probably disjointed thoughts on the things I've been filling my time with lately (lately meaning the weeks leading up to Liam's arrival and the few moments I've had since then that haven't involved feeding or changing):

Doctor Who - Thanks to my mom's willingness to battle with her VCR timer every Tuesday night (they get CBC in Maine; Rhode Island doesn't), I've seen as far as that episode with Simon Pegg as the evil TV programmer and that monster with the giant, gaping maw as, I'm guessing, Rupert Murdoch. Very good, so far. Christopher Eccleston is a decent enough Doctor, Billie Piper's Rose is the most competent companion since... well, ever, and the SFX, though much improved, still have that lovably cheap quality to them that makes the show so endearing. Good stuff, and I can't wait to find the time to watch the rest of the season.

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell - Part history book, part travelogue, part social commentary from the This American Life contributor (and voice of Violet Parr in The Incredibles), and a very entertaining read. Even the best-written history texts are usually dry as toast to me, but Vowell has a snappy prose style that's a lot of fun to read, and she's very clearly amped about her subject (an attitude which, considering this is about the deaths of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley, can be seen as more than a little odd, but somehow she escapes that), and that enthusiasm nearly bubbles right off the page. I now need to read everything else she's ever written.

Superman: Birthright - I call this "Smoothie Fiction." Smoothie Fiction is where you take a bunch of established literary flavors, throw 'em in the blender, and you end up with a product that's sort of new, but also very much reflective of the individual ingredients. Usually this is done with genres (say, for instance, a Western romantic thriller... in outer space!), but here Mark Waid does it with previous versions of the Superman origin. Golden age, silver age, Byrne reboot, TV, movie, cartoon, whatever... it all gets a textual shout-out here. And it sort of works, but you just can't shake the feeling that you've seen it all before. Plus, with all the references to current technology and political climates, it'll all seem dated again in 10 years, and someone else will have to start all over again.

Superman: Secret Identity - This, on the other hand, is a terrific "modern" origin for Superman. Kurt Busiek's concept here - a Superman in the "the real world" - has been tackled before (the Superboy of Earth Prime story, which he cites as the major influence for this story), but he handles the material in such a fresh way as to make the unfortunately named Clark Kent of this story seem like an entirely new character, not just another derivation of Superman. Plus, this Lois and Clark set up house off the coast of Maine, and Busiek managed to get the geography right. As someone tired of seeing his birthplace constantly misrepresented (the potato growing areas and the coastal towns tend to be several hundred miles apart; many, many people get this wrong), I appreciate that kind of research.

The PBS documentaries of Rick Sebak - This guy has made several entertaining programs for PBS, including Sandwiches You Will Like, An Ice Cream Show, and A Program About Unusual Buildings and Other Roadside Stuff. So basically, he gets to travel the country, eat lots of great food, see cool stuff, and make little films about it all. As far as I can figure, he has the best job in the world. Where do I sign up?